Saturday, April 30, 2005

Sunday May 1, 12:31 p.m.

Welcome to May! Couldn't be a better start to the month. Breezy and sunny and warm. Nice beginning to Golden Week as well since I'll be staying within the metropolis instead of going slowly ballistic on the congested highways, airports and train stations.

Speaking of which, Automan contacted me last night to confirm Hotel Haru for Tuesday. Gonna have to call housekeeping once again on the morning of the 3rd after Movie Buddy's stay last night. Not quite sure what I'm gonna do with Automan and his buddy once they hit Tokyo.

Movie Buddy and I did our semi-annual Hotel Haru with movie and dinner. But we did meet to head off for "Constantine". Not a bad movie, not a great was basically Keanu Reaves as an especially tetchy Mr. Anderson as the title character. MB thought that the buildup to the final 10 minutes was misplaced....just a huge smoke screen to let a couple of more able actors, Tilda Swinton and Peter Stomare (as the nutso Archangel Gabriel and Satan respectively) get in their licks. I just thought the structure of those last few minutes struck me as a little too reminiscent of the last 10 minutes of "Matrix Revolutions". Ah, was OK...maybe OK enough to have a renewed Constantine take another stab at a sequel.

Afterwards, we met up by accident The Curry Master and The SE, two people whom I used to "teach", on the subway platform. It was awkward to say the least...somethng that was echoed by MB over breakfast at Skylark this morning. The Curry Master just gave the briefest of waves at me and then just focused on MB like a laser beam about being reminded to bring the baked potatoes for her BBQ today. The SE and I didn't talk with each other...something that's pretty usual in this country; if we sever relations, we don't acknowledge each other. Apparently, Curry Master got her knickers tied in a knot; she immediately called up The Sylph to check what had been wrong with us on the train. MB just shook his head and laughed in resignation after getting a call from his girlfriend. He'd seen it all before. Curry Master is just very self-absorbed. I think she's a good person at heart, BUT she's not one that I can take long exposure to.

Anyways, we got back home with bentos and Haagen-Daas ice's new flavour: Raspberry and Panna Cotta...good lord, what will those guys think of next? Going with the theme of occult superheroes, MB brought over "Hellboy". It was quite good and better than "Constantine". The end struck me as being a little abrupt, though, and I could've stood to have had Abe Sapien around a bit longer than his mid-movie cutout but I'm not surprised that a sequel is in the works.

Then, it was "King Arthur". We both agreed that the movie was just average. I'm sure that Antoine Fuqua wouldn't be too thrilled to hear that assessment considering all the massive fight scenes he'd filmed but the movie just seemed a little too much by-the-numbers. I mean, I've seen this stuff in "Gladiator" and "Alexander", although I think "King Arthur" was better than the latter. For example, we got that rousing speech-on-the-pacing-horse schtick that Mel Gibson made famous...and "Braveheart".

So, now I have today to just chill out a bit...although I do have to plan for tomorrow's lessons. Yes, tomorrow will be a full day since it is technically not one of the national holidays. However, aside from The Company, I won't have to do all that much planning. Still, I will take it easy for much of the afternoon and then I'll do the heavy lifting tonight.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday April 29, 9:59 p.m.

It was the warmest day of the year so far...perfect weather for a picnic. I met up with Chip Guy and the family at Komazawa Daigaku Station and then we all walked down a few dozen metres to a ritzy apartment building where we picked up a few more people. Chip's friend happens to have a pretty swanky place...the rent goes for about 600,000 yen a month or perhaps about $7,000. I could believe it...the lobby resembled one for a hotel with two staff members at a front desk and a small room with free tea, coffee and green tea.

Once everyone got together, we went down a few more metres to Komazawa Olympic Park. It was bustling with activity as would be the case in such nice weather. A lot of students, soccer players and families were walking around or lying on their tarps. While the women set their tarps, the men went a bit further to the other side of the park to grab some burgers for lunch. The rest of our few hours there was spent noshing and talking while a couple of the kids did a walkabout. At one point, two of the parents went searching for them. Chip and I were a bit worried considering that there have been a number of kidnappings/murders by psychos in the last several months. Fortunately, they were found safe and sound.

Afterwards, Chip's family and I made our way back to Shibuya where we split. Chip's clan had to meet another family for dinner while I made my way to Hachiko to meet The Bohemian. When he did show up, his appearance was between his hippie look of a couple of years ago and his more salaryman-esque look from the earliest times of our friendship. The Bohemian managed to irk me a bit as he sometimes does by once again regurgitating the fact that he thinks Japanese women are far more fashionable and that North American women are frankly dogs. Well, I can't help it if he wants to show how shallow he can be, but I did make it briefly but strongly sure that I am VERY Canadian and that I didn't agree with his opinion. The two of us were silent for a few minutes and then we just did a reset.

We ended up going to a basement izakaya near Bunkamura. The Bohemian made an error in thinking that we would be able to go for the all-you-can-drink option; the waitress corrected him by stating that that option was only for large parties. Well, at that point, we were already nursing our drinks. The atmosphere was pretty nice and the izakaya was surprisngly not all that crowded considering the holiday Friday. The food wasn't quite as good as I had hoped but it was acceptable. As for talk, The Bohemian was considering what he could do in terms of finding a job. He rather regrets his 2-year stay in Sendai going for his Masters since it was basically a waste of time for him. I rather felt sorry for him since he's now in his mid-thirties and unemployed for several years. And he doesn't particularly have any ambition to start something up by himself. It's quite a difference in attitude with that of Chip Guy who's planned and executed a very good career for himself. But then again, my two friends are very different people. I can only hope that The Bohemian can dig himeslf up.

I checked out one advance review of "Revenge of the Sith" by none other than Kevin Smith. Looks like he's a happy camper. Much darker than "The Empire Strikes Back", he says. Well, let's see what the rest of the moviegoing public says in a few weeks.

Well, just gotta plan one lesson for JJ tomorrow and then do some ironing before I hit bed.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Friday April 29, 9:19 a.m.

Well, Golden Week is officially here. The first national holiday is today. It's called Midori (Green) Day...I'm sure there will be a lot of ol' grunge fans who'll be holding up their lighters in homage. heheheh. Actually, the day is the late Showa Emperor's birthday.

Got another rouse-up, not wake-up, call from Chip this morning. This time, I was somewhat more coherent but CG still talks a mile a minute. Looks like I'll be meeting him and the family at Komazawa University Station out in the west end in a couple of hours. It'll be a simple picnic in Komazawa Olympic Park for a few hours, then I'm heading out to Shibuya to meet The Bohemian for dinner.

Last night, Movie Buddy called up sheepishly to ask if we could meet tomorrow for our movie outings instead of midweek next week. I think The Sylph has been on his case for his GW schedule. So, after I teach JJ, I'll pick him up at the station and then head out to see "Constantine" at the neighbourhood theater. He'll probably be crashing over at the apartment.

In a case of terrible timing, Shard's ex called up while I was making dinner (I just HAD to pick up that phone, didn't I?). Basically, she telephoned me to talk about her immigration stuff, stuff that she rehashed with me before, stuff that I really don't know anything about. So, it wasn't too difficult for me to be distracted while I tried to keep the pasta and sauce warm and relevant. I have a sneaking suspicion that she got the "message" about my situation and promptly hung up; mind you, it took her almost half an hour to do so. Still, I felt a little guilty about my phone manner and sent her an apology.

Beforehand, I looked through "Citizen Kane" again, this time with Roger Ebert's commentary. Good golly, it's just like attending a good film class. The movie seems to have become the template for all the tricks of the trade.

Well, I gotta rush....

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Thursday April 28, 1:03 p.m.

Yup, the Golden Week rush has started. The usual epic lineups have started to snake around in Narita and probably at Haneda and the major train stations. I kinda wonder how edgy train passengers are feeling with Monday's accident. I just can't picture any Bullet Train encountering anything like that train on Monday, though.

Speaking of the accident, at least one channel's afternoon chat show is wondering if the accident is actually an incident in which the driver finally snapped under the pressure and decided to commit suicide. Of course, the very nature of a talk show (or wide show, as it's called here) is speculation. However, it's pretty dangerous to do that during a major investigation like this one. And yes, the driver has been confirmed dead along with perhaps 100 passengers at least. I mentioned to Shard's ex this morning that if any of my loved ones had been the victims in that crash, I would've gone after the driver's internal organs. However, the one improvement in Japanese journalism, investigative journalism, has come out with a new angle.

Apparently, to ensure that JR drivers in a certain area commit as few mistakes as possible, there is a rather brutal policy of zero tolerance which can include "imprisonment" in JR's own version of a jail for 3 to 5 days, and at the very least, chewouts en masse and the demand for a very lengthy report. The driver at fault here had committed a couple of overruns in the past year so it could be assumed that he was at the short end of the punishment stick. Now, that the shock has subsided, there has not only been anger from the victims' families about why such a driver was allowed to keep his job but also speculation on whether the very strict approach to training may have led to the accident, however indirectly.

But this is nothing new to me. Japan may have given up its militaristic governmental policies decades ago, but Japanese society has still kept very martial elements, especially when it comes to training and education. Teachers can still administer en masse yellings for several minutes at errant students (I was aurally witness to a few when I used to teach on the JET Programme) and I think the beatings still occur although I'm sure teachers and their higher-ups are very careful with the new regulations on corporal punishment. Even student clubs, especially the baseball team, are notorious for coaches and even the senior team members administering punches and kicks to junior members who haven't been up to specs. Doesn't this remind you of Marine boot camp?

I'm sure that in both the West and Asia, there are forms of bullying in the workplace. However, I think in Japan, the practice is almost institutionalized. One of the readier images of work is of the poor drone getting the stuffings verbally knocked out of him by an irate manager...kinda like the beatings administered by Sgt. Snorkel on Beetle Bailey. In a society where conformism is still pretty much the corporate norm, non-conformists can find themselves in a bit of difficulty from the higher-ups and colleagues in the form of ostracism and other petty little evil acts to get the peg back into the hole. This rather "Scared Straight" approach has, I think, been partly responsible for the almost perfect record of service that we over here get from store clerks and waiters. There is nothing like fear of reprisal to get a person to do something the right way. However, I have to wonder what the cost has been to get that perfect service. Should one settle for a happier if somewhat lax workforce or do we keep on demanding the perfect soldier-worker service at the risks of that person going nuts or at least feeling majorly stressed out?
Thursday April 28, 9:55 a.m.

Well, I got a wake-up call from Chip Guy about an hour ago. He found out rather quickly that I don't wake up all that well anymore. And I found out that I don't particularly tell little white lies when I'm groggy, either. However, I digress. Anyways, he wanted to know if I were up for lunch today. I declined....I wanted to keep things within the neighbourhood and actually get some gym time in this week before heading out down the line to teach MK tonight. Then again, I've never been great about last-minute invitations. Chip Guy must have been a bit embarrassed about catching me just coming out of REM sleep...his usual speedy rate of speech seemed to go into emergency warp, which made my groggy attempts to understand even worse. Apparently, we are to meet tomorrow in Komazawa Park. The name sounded familiar but I wasn't sure about exact location so I asked him, but from what I could comprehend that it seems that even he didn't know. So I just checked out the atlas and found out that it isn't too far from where CG used to live. I also sent off the news to The Bohemian. I rather doubt that he'll come over to Komazawa, though. He's pretty territorial...just wants to stick around either in Shibuya or Shinjuku. I frankly doubt that he and CG will meet tomorrow.

Then, I got onto the Net which is where I've been for the past hour answering e-mail and doing a bit of research for Automan who called up not long after Chip. He was calling about reservations at Hotel Haruhiko for either next Tuesday or Thursday. I'd prefer next Thursday since there's a better chance that the blankets will be done by then and I've got Movie Buddy coming over on Wednesday. However, his other friend will be staying at a hotel so he asked me if I could find something nearby. Well, there is that hotel that Old Sam and his wife stayed at in Kiba. I sent off the information to him although I'm not sure if he's checking his e-mail during his stay in Japan. He's already here by the way. In any case, he'll be calling for final confirmation on Sunday.

I received some e-mail from Shard's ex. She'd asked about some further information on the vagaries of Canadian immigration. Once again, she went into a mild harangue about what's wrong with Japan. Today's theme was on the martial discipline imposed on people here in school and work vis-a-vis the train accident in Osaka. I guess I must've finally roused from my sleep by that point since I gave her a rather voluminous answer.

My sister-in-law contacted me. Apparently, her best friend in high school is in town on some sort of extended business trip. She gave me her phone number and e-mail address. Well, I'll give her a courtesy call. However, I'm a bit wary about it since I had a similar situation last year with the Persian's friends...that didn't end too well with one sister. Also, I know that my sister-in-law has been wondering hitching me up with thank you. I like my embittered bachelorhood, thank you very much.

The Hawaiian confirmed that next Monday morning is a go for her lesson. But not surprisingly, she's declined the invitation for Wednesday.

Just lucky that I did all the groundwork for MK's lesson the night before. Not feeling particularly up for lesson planning just now. I'll probably head out to the gym later this afternoon and then head straight to MK's venue.
Wednesday April 27, 11:46 p.m.

Sent out a couple of blankets out to the cleaners just in case Automan decides to make a reservation at Hotel Haruhiko. However, it looks like the blankets won't be ready for about a week so that meant a Plan B...deodorize the blankets that I do have. However, he's yet to confirm his reservations.

The trip to see The Hawaiian was pretty uneventful but jolly as usual. She does make it worthwhile for me to make the long crosstown trip over there. Movie Buddy has proposed heading out to my neck of the woods for "Constantine" and then a DVD show at my place. I invited The Hawaiian but I frankly doubt that she'll pick up on the offer. She said that she's not too huge on the horror genre (neither am I, but I don't particularly consider Keanu's latest a horror flick per se), and I can't really see her willing to come out all the way to Chiba for a night of visual debauchery. However, since MB is asking for next Wednesday, I'm seeing if she would be willing to re-schedule for next Monday since I've got The Company. Plus, I'll probably be dropping by Speedy's at the same time.

Did my first round of major cooking in several days. Made spaghetti and meatballs and used the last two potatoes to try and make hash browns since the taters were starting to take root. As usual, got quite a bit to nosh on for tomorrow.

I was finally able to see the much vaunted Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" after several years of wondering what would make this flick the AFI's top movie in the history of movies. Well, it certainly surprised me in terms of my initial predictions. I had initially thought that the famous movie was a Greek tragedy of a good guy turned bad over the years....kinda like MacBeth or even the current Star Wars trilogy. However, the first surprise was seeing that this was a tale of an already cocky, arrogant (albeit charming) Charles Foster Kane who gradually transforms into an embittered, self-centered, lonely old man trapped in his Hell of Xanadu.

The second surprise was that the film seemed to be quite ahead of its time. Perhaps it was the improved clarity of the picture that helped but I also think that the interesting camera shots and transitions between scenes and even some of the dialogue made "Kane" a lot more contemporary. It just didn't seem like a movie made in 1941. "Casablanca" which was made the next year is one of my all-time favourites but I know that it is a product of the 40s. I'm not sure with "Kane" which does make me understand why Orson Welles had been called a genius. Also, on the film itself, it didn't follow a typical linear course. I was surprised to see the first few minutes devoted to the newsreel giving away all the plot before the details started. And then, there was a temporal ping-pong game played all throughout with Act I dealing with the rise and fall of Kane's newspaper empire, Act II briefly devoting itself to Kane's dalliance in politics and then the final act of his two ill-fated marriages...from happy-go-lucky courtship to bitter fallout.

The third surprise came in the casting. Of course, I knew about Welles being the tour de force star. However, there were a few faces also there that would later become part of my TV viewing life. There was Ray Collins who was to become the craggy Lt. Tragg from "Perry Mason" playing the corrupt politico, Ruth Warrick whom I remember being the matriarch from "All My Children" as Kane's first wife. But the real corker was finding out that the 5-minute performance of Kane's cold-as-ice mother was played by none other than Agnes Moorehead...Endora from "Bewitched". And I have to say that in the trailers for the movie, she sure looked very ravishing. Quite a surprise since she was absolutely unrecognizable in character. I'm sure audiences of 1941 must have remarked, "That was HER?!"

Now, do I think "Citizen Kane" deserves its vaunted status as the best movie ever made? Well, I'll have to agree with Roger Ebert who does the commentary (which I'm looking forward to). The AFI list can be considered to be a silly one of no merit only meant to show the results of a democratic moviegoing population. I think it is an excellent movie with all of Welles' derring-do behind the camera. Heck, even the trailer was a masterclass in innovation. I wouldn't go as faras Ebert in saying that the most favourite film will change from time to time. There are some absolutes for me. Having said that, "Casablanca" will remain my favourite black & white flick but certainly, "Citizen Kane" is a worthy addition to my movie collection.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Wednesday April 27, 11:26 a.m.

After the Sturm und Drang of yesterday, it's nice to see that a warm Spring day has graced us. My washing machine, though, decided to take its revenge on me for overloading it. After the final spin cycle, the machine turned off but apparently the water was still leaking through. I had to do another spin before finally hanging the clothes out. Mind you, the weather should dry them out, at least most of them, even before I take off to see The Hawaiian.

I actually bought and listened to a Best CD of El DeBarge, he of "All This Love" and "Who's Johnny?" (those who were born in the 80s and later need not read the rest of this paragraph). I was reading the liner notes. According to them, the group DeBarge was rather labeled as "the poor man's Jackson 5", which I thought a bit harsh. But after listening to El's greatest, I had to admit that as the CD ran its course, my ears were starting to listen less and less and just hear more and more. His best songs really didn't vary much in style and tone so that the album just came across as aural wallpaper. And I was a bit surprised that one song done by El in the late 80s didn't make it onto the album; it could've spruced up the disc a bit with his more mid-tempo beat. Still, I don't think DeBarge is a poor sub for the Jackson 5; in fact, I think I only really like that one song by the latter group...that ABC song or whatever compared to the 80s R&B hits that DeBarge had during its decade. Well, perhaps the CD will grow on me like so many others have.

Movie Buddy contacted me for the first time in a while. Looks like he wants to do a bit of movie watching at my place and at the theater during Golden Week. I'm more than happy to oblige since I've got "The Incredibles" and "Citizen Kane" on tap.

Well, gotta get ready to do that sole class out with The Hawaiian. Looks like my GW has already started. I've only got that one lesson today and then just MK tomorrow night. I've asked Speedy subtly if I can keep myself home tomorrow afternoon so that I only need to make that short hop to teach MK. And of course, Friday is the official start to GW so I've got absolutely nothing except for a possible meeting with Chip Guy and maybe even The Bohemian.
Tuesday April 26, 11:51 p.m.

I guess the Force was still with me when I left to go to the juku. After the torrents that tore down earlier in the afternoon, I exited the apartment to no rain and some sun. I was toting quite a lot of texts though.

The juku classes went pretty smoothly. Even the Beauty Pair got down to some good ol' work. I cannot complain at all about today, and I got paid, and next Tuesday is off for Golden Week.

Regrettably, that horrific train crash west of Osaka will probably have more deaths to deal with. At this point, the toll stands at 73 dead and 239 injured. The driver who created this tragedy is yet to be accounted for. I'm assuming since that it was the first two cars that got "painted" onto the side of the apartment building, he's probably also part of the brickwork as gruesome as that may sound.

The one thing that fascinates/ticks me off about journalism in this country is the dogpile nature of it. The Osaka train crash makes the, "suddenly", all the channels report about other train derailments that occurred if just by coincidence these things started to happen. It happened when that poor girl last year was murdered by the psycho in Nara; after that incident, a flurry of these kidnappings hit the news regularly for several days. What ticks me off about this is that it just seems alarmist and sensationalistic. As for the main train derailment followed by the other sudden spate of train derailments today, it just makes it seem that the entire train industry is on the point of collapse. I just cannot believe that these so-called copycat crashes are a sudden phenomenon. Where was the media when these minor derailments had occurred in the past? Not big enough? Another case in point was a couple of years ago when that poor boy had his head crushed in the revolving doors at Roppongi Hills. Suddenly, the media was reporting every single incident which involved a kid and a revolving door; they mysteriously all came out of the woodwork at the same time. All we need is just a kid who fires off a bottle rocket into a school injuring or killing some of his mates; then, we'll see a whole rash of these bottle rocket tragedies amazingly appear all over the tube for the next 10 days.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Tuesday April 26, 3:27 p.m.

The Force is indeed with me. Exactly a year ago, I was caught in one of the worst downpours I'd ever experienced on either side of the Pacific on my way to the juku which necessitated some embarassing wardrobe changes for my classes. Well, it looks like the same weather has come down just now a year later but I was able to get home just when the first few drops started coming down. Mind you, I did get drenched but that was by design...I took a shower since I got myself rather sweaty for reasons to be given below.

I should actually say that not only is the Force with me, but it's flowing within me like a torrent today. Back on Saturday, I received the report from the tax office on how much I was to pay to Uncle Osamu according to the complicated tax return that I'd filed back in mid-March. Well, I was rather bemused to see that I owed a grand total of over a MILLION yen (no, I'm not using Dr. Evil's voice for this one), or over $10,000 CDN to the Japanese government. Well (and I think I'm well within my rights to use "well" in as twice as many sentences in this case), I just laughed at the ludicrous number. I knew that it had to be a mistake. I don't have that much money in my account. If I'd had to pay that, I would've ended up moving into a cardboard box by the Sumida River. Although I was pretty positive that there was an error, there must've been some residual shock that resonated since I did get that massive headache the next night. I usually don't get throbbing headaches of that magnitude.

I first brought the discrepancy to the Matron's attention on Monday since her son was the one who had helped me write out the return. Her eyes bugged out on seeing the figure. And I recollected that both Paddy and the son told me that I would "only" need to pay some 200,000 yen. So something was not right in the prefecture of Kagoshima. We agreed that I would go to the tax office, and if something couldn't be rectified I would call up her son again.

Well(there I go again), I brought it over to the Beehive today. Ms. Travel took one look at the offending document and she immediately called out a red alert amongst her classmates. As each of the ladies came in, each one bugged out in her own way over the million-yen figure. However, it was naturally Ms. Travel who took charge but it was ironically the final entry in the form of Ms. Tee who knew the tax rules in and out. For the first half hour, Ms. Travel and Ms. Tee took it upon themselves to find out where I had gone wrong because they suspected that I must have screwed up the calculations somewhere. Meanwhile, the rest of the Beehive started producing little canapes of marscapone cheese, raisins and crackers to go with that Hungarian port I'd gotten from the Matron, and a bottle of dry red that Ms. Perth kindly contributed from her trip to Turkey. By the half-hour mark, the two leaders managed to find out what had gone wrong and then called up the tax office to confirm. Thankfully, the early Red Alert atmosphere collapsed nicely into a very convivial chat session due a lot to the wines.

We even went over to the local Excelsiors for a bit of coffee and light lunch while Ms. Perth talked about her great trip through Turkey last week. Then, with a wish of good luck from the Hive, Ms. Travel and I were off to the tax office. It took about a half hour by local train to get to Onigoe Station where the tax office is located. The slowness was probably due to yesterday's tragic train derailment near Osaka; when something of this magnitude happens, everyone is hypersensitive. When we got into the tax office, I was relieved to find out that it was indeed a mistake since the staff also bugged out at the amount. All we needed to do was head up to the third floor and have the figures re-calculated and re-written onto a different sheet.

And folks, there is even a twist ending of O. Henry proportions. Not only did I not need to pay one million yen into bankruptcy, but I found out that I am to get a tax rebate of 20,000 yen! How's that for a corker? Ms. Travel had a ball laughing; I just merely had a ball...of hair...and a lot of relief. I couldn't believe that I was actually owed money by Uncle Osamu...which gets to me thinking...what the hell were Paddy and the Matron's son thinking about? Not that I'm resentful to either of them but still there's a huge difference between losing 200,000 yen and gaining 20,000 yen. However, I'm still not totally convinced that I'm owed that money. I can't understand a freelancer can actually make money from a tax return. But I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth...for now. On our way out, a very buoyant, if somewhat shocked, me remarked that the lady up on the 3rd floor must be spreading the news about my gaijin idiocy. Ms. Travel countered that the lady didn't seem to have the imagination to spread the news. I can see with the growing of age, so increases the amount of acid in one's tongue. Still, I have to say that with all due respect to Gary Cooper in "The Lou Gehrig Story", I feel I like I'm the luckiest man in the world right now to have such a good group of ladies. I think I may use that rebate to get them all something really nice.
Monday April 25, 9:34 p.m.

Well, that headache stayed an unpleasant memory thankfully as I made my way to work. Unfortunately, I ended up being 15 minutes late for my first class with The Class Act since I'd forgotten that today's lesson was to start at 10:30 a.m. As usual, I ended up bashing myself for the rest of the day but I'm lucky that the ladies were much more forgiving than me. In fact, we still ended up having a full 90-minute lesson.

The rest of the day was the usual. I've been continuing my read through "Revenge of The Sith". I haven't finished yet but I went to see some of the reviews of the novelization. So far, it looks like all of them have been pretty praiseworthy of it...which is indeed high praise indeed considering the flak that the author who did "Attack of the Clones" had gotten. I still haven't re-read "The Phantom Menace" which I also got in its hardcover version...pretty good reason for that, too. All of the reviewers and I were rather mystified that the entire act on Kashyyk was not in the book at all....something to investigate, to be sure. However, I must agree with the reviewers that it would actually be a help to read the novelization BEFORE catching the movie. The author provides a lot of meat on the bones that I'm sure the movie will not be able to show.

Got home to find out that there had been a major disaster west of Osaka. A train derailed, so far killing 50 people and injuring hundreds more. I'll be watching the detials in about 10 minutes.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Monday April 25, 6:59 a.m.

8 more months til Xmas...get out, you shoppers!

There was that party out at PH's yesterday. It was a slightly smaller crew from the usual horde that invades the apartment. But it just meant more food and easier talk. The core folks like The Quarterback and Speedy were there, and of course, the family of honour, Chip Guy's unit. It was another round of BBQ chicken, salmon and steak. Plus, I helped make this rather interesting form of potato salad with small new taters. PH just boiled them and then doused them in mayo, salt & pepper and chopped green onions. No need for peeling...just slosh them around. PH said that it was an English certainly looked British. And actually, it tasted pretty good. Probably at its best with the potatoes still warm.

The party was also notable for the relatively large number of babies that came out. There was Chip's daughter, and then two more. Of course, the cameras came out to shoot the grand summit of the little ones although none of them were particularly in talking mood with each other. Of course, with the kids there, the party itself didn't last long into the night. We all pretty much vacated by 8:30.

It was just as well since by the time I got home, I was under attack by an unusually nasty headache. Even Tylenol and some further reading of "Revenge of the Sith" didn't alleviate symptoms so I hit bed as soon as I could. Feeling much better now. The Theater Manager got back to me on his thoughts about the next Star Wars movie. He said that it would sound great on a home system...not exactly a ringing endorsement for the bigscreen run. I'm certainly not looking forward to the Anakin and Amidala scenes, if the novelization is any indication. It's more of the same hackneyed pap. I just hope that some more of the political intrigue dialogue stays in, although that doesn't sound like a Star Wars movie. I'm sure a lot of the kiddies would just get restless. Chip told me that one key scene in the book about Windu and Yoda arguing is supposed to be cut out...dang!