Saturday, May 07, 2005

Saturday May 7, 10:38 p.m.

A Guilty-To-The-Point-Of-Capital-Punishment Pleasure: Morning Musume

It's ironic that I've put up this title as one of my rare titles for any of my entries since I'm currently listening to Internet jazz radio. However, this is something that's been clawing at my nerves to get out into cyberspace for several weeks now, and besides, one reason I put up this blog was to give my own insights on pop culture. As well, I'm not the only one talking about them. Just go to and see all the global fans. As for why I've put up the qualifying title of guilty pleasure...well, one time I came across an article on Puffy Amiyumi which also described them as a guilty pleasure so I figured Morning Musume would be even more so of one.

Well, first off, what is Morning Musume? Well, it's this girl might say it's the Japanese female version of Menudo. They've been around since late 1997 which makes them veteran hardhitters in the J-Pop industry, an industry notorious for very short shelf lives. The membership has ranged from a low of 5 (basically the group in the beginning) to a high of about 16 (sounds like a Celsius weather report, I know). Right now, they seem to be hovering around 10.

Years before all this American Idol stuff was even a grain of an idea back in the States, there was a show called "Asayan" on TVTokyo on Sunday nights which featured singers and occasionally scouting trips to find the next big thing. Well, way back in those late 90s, a contest was on to find the next big female rock vocalist. Thousands of girls of all ages tried out, and of course, there was one winner. However, the organzier of the contest, Tsunku (former lead vocalist of 90s pop/rock band Sharan-Q) took pity on 5 of the close losers. He brought them together and challenged them to work together to come up with a single and to sell at least 50,000 copies by a time limit. If they were successful, Tsunku would agree to nurture their new career as a unit, later to be called Morning Musume.

Well, MM's saga began as this Survivor-like videotaped tale shown over the weeks on Asayan as the girls tried to get their single sold to that golden number of 50,000. Ah...but I should introduce the original lineup:

Yuko Nakazawa: a former OL moonlighting as an enka singer with a bit of a punkish attitude. She was the very first leader of the group and is still very much the den mother.

Asuka Fukuda: a diminutive babyface who supposedly had the best voice in the group at the time. Of course, she would be the first to leave the group never to be seen again.

Kaori Iida: the tall, lanky beauty who has often shown a predilection to mentally enter the Twilight Zone.

Aya Ishiguro: Frankly, I never knew much about her except that she left just when the group started to make a mark on Japanese mass media as a whole due to the fact that she got preggers thanks to the drummer from a rock band.

Natsumi Abe: The cute farm-fresh one who, in another life, could've become the ideal flight attendant for JAL.

Well, needless to say the girls did hit the 50,000 mark in a very special episode of Asayan with all of the joy and tears that come with a media-run success story. It's the type of stuff that Japanese viewers love: rags-to-riches after going through a tough trial. That tough trial was not just trying to sell all those discs but a Fame-like boot camp in some small temple up in the woods, a feature which would become a ritual for all those other Musume who have entered through the years.

Over their nearly 8 years of existence in the Japanese eyes and in fanboys' wet dreams, the girls were able to keep their heads above water with some minor hits but it wasn't until late 1999, after their best vocalist had just quit the group and a new kid by the name of Maki Goto, this striking if gawky girl of 13, came into MM that the group hit the big time with their biggest hit so far, "Love Machine". A disco-ish upbeat number, "Love Machine" became the song of choice in the karaoke booths and at the year-end parties for that year. Since that time, in terms of media exposure, the girls have never looked back, although their subsequent songs have never really hit those rarefied heights since then. Since then, the girls have been regular fixtures on TV, of course doing their bit on the music shows, but also they've appeared on variety programs and, even for a few of them, serial dramas.

Now, where does the guilty pleasure part come in? Well, despite all their success, a music connoisseur or purist would probably pray to the porcelain god on listening to any of their stuff. The girls aren't particularly talented individually or in a group, and their songs would probably make anything by Britney or any of the American Idol rejects sound deep. I shudder at the carnage that Simon Cowell would bring down upon the girls if he were to hear them. But then again, that guilty pleasure aspect is just for me....a Canadian. Here in Japan, lack of talent either in singing or songwriting has never been much of an obstacle in the music biz.

What has won MM their devoted following, not just domestically but internationally is that their songs have enough of a hook to get a certain number of folks...including me. I mean, I've been a J-Pop fan since the late 70s...if you think the idol stuff that's out now is strange, you should hear what came out back then...but hear it, I mimic a certain green Jedi...and like it, I still do. Go fig! Also, Tsunku, that great Svengali, played his cards right by recruiting a whole variety of girls of differing ages (although the upper limit for the active group seems to be the early 20s) and personalities. The fans on could go on all year talking and analyzing the various members to death. At one point, the girls had as many as three or four shows on prime time TV. They are now down to just their one flagship show on Sundays at 11:30 on TVTokyo but it still gets the post-game treatment by the fans on the Net as if it were Sunday football in the States. And the other touch of genius was created by Tsunku and the littlest Musume, Asuka Fukuda. The former brought in new members, and the latter just plain left. So from that, the annual tradition of "graduating" and "recruitment" like in a real school was instituted which added further Net gossip and curiosity. If there's one thing that fans love to do, it's to compare. Trekkies compare TNG with the original series, James Bond fans compare the different actors who have played the iconic secret agent. Well, in Morning Musume, the fans talk about the different "generations". And in what is now seen as a PR masterstroke, the coming and going of members have brought about as much fanfare to their fans as this year's transition in Popes. I think the going Latin expression for a MM addition ought to be "Habeas Musume-um"...we have a new Musume.

Speaking of this school analogy, perhaps the better word is "academy". I get the feeling that the MM enterprise is run quite strictly. Senior members each take a newbie under their wing like Jedi masters and padawans; members have to report if they're in danger of falling in love (a rule which had one veteran member recently make a sudden resignation). This late 1997 train-that- could has now become a major show biz caravan to rival all those Johnny's boy bands like SMAP and Tokio.

As for the current status of the group, well, all of the original members have gone...the last one, Kaori, having left earlier this year after 7 years. As I've said before, there seems to be, at least to me anyways, this slow decline in the popularity and relevance of their songs although the group has long passed the critical point of remaining least for the senior folks, they'll always have a home in show biz. Back to their songs, the days of "Love Machine" disco are over. Perhaps due to the current lineup of kids, the songs now seem to be focused on the elementary school set. Perhaps, "Love Machine" was just a huge fluke which managed to hook everyone by surprise. But there was some across-the-board excitement recently with a plagiarism scandal by one of the original members, that quick resignation by a 2nd-generation member and now this lone recruitment of the 7th-generation, a 12-year-old. I was rather amused by the reaction of this kid's schoomates when the big announcement was made when the MM suddenly appeared onto the school stage and performed in front of them and the new member. Not too many of the kids seemed all that excited...probably because MM is no longer all that cool...can you imagine being a boy and showing your pride for MM in front of your peers? You may end up with a giant "Kick Me" sign on your back.

Now, what is their appeal to me? I don't's rather scary, though. I'm gonna be hitting the big 4-0 soon and I have a few of their CDs including "Love Machine" (although I haven't bought their CDs for the past few years for the reason already given above) and I sometimes I do watch their program on Sunday mornings. A guy entering his forties watching a bunch of cute girls in their teens making further cute on screen. Someone call me a dirty trench coat! I can only assume it's mid-life crisis settling in as I live vicariously watching the kids prancing in thier youth while mine's is ebbing away. Mind you, the oldest Musume is just 7 years younger than me. However, I am somewhat buoyed by the fact that one of my middle-aged students, SIL, still has a major love for this Korean boyband, Shin Fa.

The final thing I wonder about in this opus on Morning Musume is how long the party will last for the girls. It's already gone way past the longevity of some other famous J-Pop girl acts such as the 70s' Pink Lady (4 or 5 years), the 80s Onyanko Club (just a few years) and the early 90s Wink (2-3 years). Some of the fanboys are giving it about another decade. I'm not nearly that optimistic....after all, Tsunku may finally get tired with his female Lego set and finally wrap things up...and wouldn't that be a party! However, one never can be sure in the world of J-Pop. Perhaps if there is an ace who does pop up like a Maki Goto or perhaps this new 7th-gen kid, there may be life yet in the group. By that time, though, the original members may have to be called Late Afternoon Obasan.
Saturday May 7, 6:42 p.m.

The Japanese aspect of promptness came to the rescue again. The rains stopped ust as I left the door this morning to teach the kids. It was another one of those lessons in which I had to mix big gooey dollops of humour and sidetracking to help them swallow the bitter pills of learning. Of course, that means I didn't get to teach everything that I wanted but the tradeoff was I kept my sanity.

Then, it was off to Kiba to teach my second pair. Luckily, those two students were much more into learning.

I have to admit that the last three Larry Kings have been quite entertaining and educational. Larry King on Thursday was on the psychology behind psychopaths and sociopaths. I learned quite a lot there but basically it could all be summed by one quote from one of the panel experts: they simply aren't human. Then, the second one went to the other far end of the spectrum with Martin Short's Jiminy Glick doing the hosting. Man, I couldn't believe that Nancy Grace was actually appealing in that sketch while the bombastic Glick grilled her. I can't believe that she's all of 5'1"...I thought there was a regulation that harridans could be no shorter than 5'10". Then today's session was with the legendary Lauren Bacall. I missed the first half so I'll have to watch part of the rerun later tonight.

Then, I even caught a Biography of the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr. Why I mention him is due to the fact that he was one of the familiar TV figures in my early childhood. I always remember watching him jumping over that chair, cooking up these high-calorie treats while guzzling down wine by the gallon and pulling in some lucky audience member to try out his creations. It was a revealing show since there was a lot of hurt in his and his family's life; rather surprising considering how jovial he always seemed on the tube.

Well, tomorrow is Mother's Day. I'll have to remember honour Chip's wife at dinner since she will probably be the only mother present. I'll have to make the call to my own Ma as well.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Saturday May 7, 6:03 a.m.

I've done one of my rare early wake-ups since my girls are going for the earlier shift today. I'm not suffering too badly.

I finally listened to Jazz Singer's first song. Actually, perhaps I should be changing her nom de plume since this term she's fronting a rock (power pop?) band. She covered an old 50s hit. I sent my compliments although she was a bit bemused by my comparison of her sound to Puffy Amiyumi (well, her band DOES sound like them).

Well, there's another attempt at nuclear brinkmanship by Kim Jong Il again. CNN is reporting that there's satellite evidence that North Korea may be in "imminent" position to do an underground test of their nuclear capability which may result in possible "radiological" fallout for surrounding countries including the nation where I'm living. Of course, this could all be a bluff by the human pompadour but I'm just kinda wondering if the American media or the people who gave them the story are also doing a Chicken Little. I mean, the US has been conducting nuclear underground tests for decades; I haven't heard of any sharp increase in cancer rates in Nevada.

Had a bit of a tremor around 5 a.m. this morning. Nothing too serious...just a M4.3 centered in northern Tokyo. It's kinda strange how the majority of the tremors all these years have happened in the early morning. Nature's wake-up call writ large?

Saw another old...perhaps hoary...rerun of the original Mission: Impossible series. The episode was in fact one of the first-season shows with pre-Jim Phelps IMF leader Dan Briggs. Being a buff of the spy genre, I was rather excited to see the old show when it came out some years ago on SuperChannel. After watching this show (mind you, it was one of the poorly-done ones) though, I'm starting to wonder if this series is one of those...if I can use the damning-with-faint-praise expression...products of its times. The sepia look of the show, the increasingly annoying sightings of Gellerisms to cover up the real names of countries (after all, this series was set during, and due to, the Cold War) and the hackneyed acting (I wonder if Steven Hill, during his great run on Law & Order, ever cringed at his performances in M:I) sometimes make me wonder if it deserves the classic status it has gotten. Mind you, it did result in one of the most memorable theme songs in US TV history and all those Tom Cruise movies.
Friday May 6, 8:56 p.m.

Well, just in time to signify the end of the holidays, the rains started on schedule today. It was noticeably cooler as well. My day went pretty well. Just had The Teacher as the lone student and then I headed out to Speedy's to get that first training as a BULATS examiner. BULATS is this new testing regimen for corporate types in terms of English proficiency.

When I got home, Chip had left me a message to see if I'm available on Sunday for dinner. Looks like a small group of us will be going Korean in Shibuya.

Now I've already got the planning done for tomorrow's lessons. I've got 4 of them: the two kids plus MK and JJ. Let's hope that I don't end up tiring myself out of any enjoyment of my weekend.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Thursday May 5, 10:08 p.m.

Well, it looks like Golden Week is winding up. The U-turn rush has begun and the highways have turned into slightly moving parking lots. And so my three glorious days of non-teaching come to a close tonight. I'm back on duty with The Teacher first thing tomorrow morning and then I have to some sort of training with Speedy in the afternoon. I haven't anything from Chip Guy all this week so I'm not sure if anything is in the works for Friday night. Probably not.

My day was just spent watching TV and doing crosswords. Did get a bit of excitement on CNN with that minor bomb blast in NYC but otherwise pretty calm. Mind you, that JR fiasco concerning the train wreck just keeps snowballing. Now, it's been learned that not only did two JR drivers who were on that very train NOT come to the aid of victims (they just ran to work since they were afraid of being penalized for being late), but it was learned today that there was a 3-stage party by JR employees on the day of the accident. The folks did some major bowling and drinking despite knowing about the tragedy. Man, it's not just the balls that will be rolling in the next few days. But once again, it goes to show when a company is found out for some gross malfeasance, the journalists go to work on the carcass like vultures only the carcass is still alive. Mind you, in this country, you're only guilty if you're caught so I'm sure most major companies have a lot of skeletons in the closet for mass media to unearth. I wouldn't be surprised if the president of the firm decided to step down.

I was thinking about that "Revenge of the Sith" soundtrack, and especially about the music for the end credits. I mentioned that the credits strangely had a lot of the music from the other movies. Then it hit me...the reason that I was rather unnerved by it was due to the fact that the overture sounded so disjointed. This is John Williams we're talking about here...THE composer who brought back the orchestral score for big movies with all its leitmotif-laden overtures. And yet, the ending overture for Episode III sounds so...amateur, if I can believe using that word for Williams. The segues weren't smooth at all. One number stops awkwardly and another begins just as awkwardly. I'm not sure if Williams has finally lost it.

Got one of those very long replies from Shard for the first time in a long fact, I think it may be his first long missive this year. Hopefully, he'll get back on for a while at least.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Wednesday May 4, 1:31 p.m.

Nice to wake up at close to noon and not feel guilty about it. The first thing I did was pop in the "Revenge of the Sith" soundtrack and gave it my 70 minutes' worth of ear. Again, as in the last two soundtracks for the prequel, there wasn't anything particularly remarkable about the new stuff. And I've noticed from "Battle of the Heroes" that Danny Elfman may have a small fishbone to pick with John Williams about the similarity of the intro of that song with that of his intro to "Spiderman". But then again, Williams did borrow a small cue from "Psycho" for one scene in "A New Hope".

"Revenge of the Sith" is 132 minutes long, and with the CD only 70 minutes long, I think there's still quite a bit of music missing (and that's taking into account the scenes without any BGM). I wonder if Williams be re-hashing some of the other themes from the past prequels.

Still, although the soundtrack doesn't quite live up to "A New Hope" or "The Empire Strikes Back", the last track was rather interesting. I had always envisioned for the last scene in the movie that there would be the rather mournful version of the Jedi theme as Obi-Wan trotted off into the twin suns of Tatooine after depositing baby Luke on the Lars' doorstep. Sure enough, there it was. The end credits though seemed to be a bit of a 28th-anniversary reunion of sorts. I kinda felt like The Force itself was saying "Hey, for all you former geeks, here's some of the oldies but goodies from the first trilogy!" Williams brought back the Princess Leia theme, the Jedi/coronation theme from the end of "A New Hope" and the Lando theme, and somewhere in the mix was "Battle of the Heroes". Although it was nice to finally hear the Jedi Knights theme get its due in the overture, I just thought it was a bit strange to hear all these old tunes thrown into the prequel, though perhaps Williams may have been aiming to do a bit of musical foreshadowing. However, perhaps, the younger folks may find it all new. Still, these end credits also hint that there wasn't a whole lot of new good stuff from the supposedly final Star Wars movie to throw into the CD. So once again I'm left feeling rather mixed.

Well, after all that reviewing...what's there to do? Well, some personal announcements. It would seem that my family isn't the only one undergoing changes this year. I heard from The Chipmunk for the first time in several weeks. She finally got that baby. And The Engineer informed me that her younger sister got married. I've sent off that request to Paddy about an immigration lawyer; now that I've supposedly gotten over that tax hurdle, now I have to think about the other big thing this year.

Gonna try my best to keep my mind off of anything to do with English teaching.
Wednesday May 4, 12:44 a.m.

You know it's been a long day when you think your morning happened several mornings ago. Yes, I left my home yesterday at 9:30 a.m. to meet Automan and his friend at Tokyo Station. However, before that, I made a quick run to HMv in Ginza to see if "Revenge of the Sith", the soundtrack, got there. Looks like I struck out on that one so I just went over to the station.

The theory that GW usually means a relatively sparse Tokyo was broken. It would seem that everyone managed to congregate in Tokyo Station. In retrospect, it wasn't all that surprising since Monday was a regular workday so a lot of people decided to make their moves yesterday morning. Automan and his buddy got off the Bullet Train from Nagoya on schedule. Before we left the crowded confines of the station, Automan had to find that souvenir of choice of many a negligent traveling businessman, Hiyoko (Chick) Cookies. They're sold at major stations and they're sable cookies shaped like little chicks. I never took a particular fancy for them myself since true to the French derivation of "sable", the cookies tend to have a gritty, sandy quality to them necessitating a cup of tea on standby to wash the stuff down.

The three of us enjoyed a sunny and fairly warm day as we left Tokyo Station and walked down to Ginza. It was pretty sparsely populated on the northern outskirts of Yurakucho since the area was a business district and therefore not operational on this national holiday. However, when we did reach the central district of Ginza (Ginza 4-chome), the masses were present. Luckily, the city had the sense to close off the main street like it usually does on Sundays so there was some space to maneuver. For lunch, we decided on Katsukura, another tonkatsu restaurant, part of a chain, located in the Shiodome City Centre in Shimbashi. Yes, I know, I had tonkatsu the night before but I decided to go for the chicken katsu instead. No regrets for the lunch. Very good food. In fact, a tonkatsu restaurant will hardly let anyone down unless it's located in an especially seedy part of Tokyo and it hawks the pork cutlet for something like 200 yen.

Well, stuffed as we were, we hopped on the Yamanote and went down to Shibuya. That area was also unsurprisingly crammed with the usual teenagers and young folk. We first did some browsing around the local Bic Camera since Automan wanted to print out some of his pics from his digital camera. Then we braved the crowds and headed to Tower Records. Sure enough, I did find the soundtrack for the latest Star Wars movie. However, there was very little fanfare for its release; in fact, there wasn't even a listening post for me to sample John Williams. Ah well, Obi-Wan did mention patience.

Our next stop was Tokyu Hands for Automan's buddy who wanted to get some stationery. The buddy was a very jovial sort whom I had met for the first time a few years back in the summer. He's a hail-fellow-well-met type of guy, the folksy type to always give you a hearty slap on the back or give an anecdote. Kinda too bad that he isn't a regular resident in Tokyo. In a way, he does remind me of Movie Buddy in temperament if not in terms of looks. Automan's friend is quite a bit bigger.

After a few hours of browsing and shopping, all of us could have done with a bit of a break so we searched for a cafe. At first, we took a look at The New Yorkers' Cafe just across from Tokyu Hands but all the seats were filled, and Automan said that he preferred a quieter joint. Somehow we were able to find this cafe immediately across from Tokyu Hands on the 2nd floor. If it hadn't been for an orange sign denoting its presence, we could've easily gone past it. However, Automan's eagle eyes spotted it and we climbed to 2F.

The interior decor was done up like an intimate French cafe, and surely there were a couple of French folk talking away. We decided to sit by the counter where a reserved but kindly lady took our orders. This cafe was a pretty serious one; the menu had a lot of detailed descriptions about each type of coffee. The blends even went so far as to mention the proportions of types of beans in the mix. I had The Old Blend, a mix of Columbian and another type of bean, served in a smaller-than-usual cup. All three of us ordered some Gateau du Chocolat. Another sign that this cafe's staff was truly devoted to its craft came in the form of the one other staff member, a man, who almost made a performance of creating our cups of coffee. He came off as a true barista with his crushing of ice for Automan's Iced Coffee and grinding of fresh Columbian by hand. His technique reminded me of that of a polished veteran bartender. Meanwhile, the woman who had taken our orders was sprinkling icing sugar on our cakes and whipping up some creme fraiche. Man, I think they even outdid The Tea Room. My Old Blend was plenty strong but the richness and sweetness of the cake compensated for it very nicely. When we had gotten to the cafe, the place was nearly empty but by the time we left, some of the young folk started percolating up (I guess there's more to cafe life than Starbucks or its myriad clones). In conclusion, this cafe whose name I can't remember will now be part of my culinary library in Tokyo.

Automan's buddy was on the lookout for postcards. I suggested going back to Tokyu Hands but he wanted me or Automan to ask the baristas about them. I guess he's so folksy that he thinks that Tokyo has a smalltown atmosphere and that everyone knows everything and everyone. But I knew that asking the baristas would've probably been futile. Automan had also suggested asking someone on the street for various kinds of information. Well, noone is perfect.

Despite the fact that we had had a rather filling lunch and some rich cakes with strong coffee, the three of us then made our way through the throngs back to the edge of Shibuya to head for En, that upper class izakaya that I've often gone to with people like The Bohemian and Chip Guy. I was a bit surprised that on this holiday that we were able to get a table right away. But it was just 5:30 in any case; the place filled up completely an hour later. There we spent another couple of hours noshing away at the usual fine delicacies while knocking back the alcohol. All in all, the conversation was really fine. But even though I got treated for the lunch, I still paid quite a bit out of my pocket since I treated the two at the cafe and we all chipped in at dinner. Looks like I'll be on daikon salad for the next couple of days.

We made a pit stop several floors beneath En back at Bic Camera since Automan wanted to pick up some earphones. He found some pretty expensive numbers by Sony. Apparently, this headset can block out all exterior noise which is great on the plane. The 8000 yen price tag is a bit exorbitant, though.

We finally left Tokyo's Mecca for Youth and headed back to Tokyo Station. There was one final round of souvenir shopping before I decided to make my farewells. Good folks, both of them. They've got another tiring day today as well since they'll be heading for the Expo near Nagoya. Good luck to them. As for me, I plopped myself down on the Yamanote and the Tozai reading my mag.

I was feeling pretty tired by the time I got home. I almost regretted having to walk the 10 minutes back from the subway station. However, the shower helped to re-invigorate a bit.

I decided to give the Star Wars soundtrack a whirl. This time, the album came with a DVD chroncling the six movies through some of John Williams' themes. For those who know their anime, the DVD reminded me of "Macross: Flashback 2012" whose format was that of Lynn Minmay's sugary-sweet tunes backing the montage of scenes from the movie. The Star Wars DVD copied that almost to the letter. And just like the two trilogies, it was a case of hit-and-miss. Some of the songs such as "Luke and Leia" from "Return of the Jedi" fit in almost to a moving degree with all of the scenes with the two protagonists. And certainly it was nice to see all of the main characters from the movies "take a bow" to the coronation music from the end of "A New Hope". However, some of the other stuff came off as cheesy. And although I enjoyed Ian McDiarmid's dulcet tones narrating the intros to each song, I was getting rather annoyed at him using too many quotes from the movies themselves. And as for "Battle of the Heroes", the new theme from "Sith", I just thought it was a pale variation on "Duel of the Fates" from Episode 1. Nothing impressive there...I hope that some of the other tracks will be better.

Well, it's been a long day and I'm feeling ready for bed. I can't believe it; I actually have two full days of absolutely nothing. No students to teach, no lessons to plan. When was the last time I could actually boast that? I am looking forward to waking up at a time with two digits next to the hour hand.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Monday May 2, 11:00 p.m.

Looks like today was supposed to be slightly bad day today. I was 10 minutes late for The Hawaiian; luckily, she's so cheerful that any problem seems to just slide off of her. Speedy's didn't have any problems but The Company class was just out to lunch today. As soon as we hit the 10-minute countdown to the end of class, I just decided to rip into Japanese and talk about how in our country, a medical checkup usually has "the glove" to finish off the examination. The guys were alternately fascinated and repelled but they weren't bored. So, some success.

Considering that tomorrow is a holiday, I decided to walk all the way to Tower Records in South Shinjuku to see if that "Revenge of the Sith" CD has come out. Geez, it turns out that it's out tomorrow. Gahh...however, I did pick up a couple of mags for perusal. And I ended up having dinner at a nearby tonkatsu restaurant. Always like to pamper myself after a so-so day.

Well, Automan called up and said that he won't need my apartment after all. He and his buddy will be heading back to Nagoya late tomorrow night. I'm not particularly put out by the announcement. He's supposed to be arriving here late morning...not a lot of time to prepare the place so I'm somewhat relieved. But let's see what we can do tomorrow.

One of the critics on CNN apparently has seen "Revenge of the Sith". And she says "It doesn't suck!" To us Star Wars fans, that's manna from heaven. Oh, how far the franchise has fallen.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Monday May 2, 7:51 a.m.

As hoped for, yesterday was nice and quiet. I managed to spend the afternoon watching the 2nd disc from "Citizen Kane" which had the Oscar-winning documentary on the mammoth battle between Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst over arguably the best movie ever made in America. The doc was handled like the runup to a major boxing match with the last several minutes being the fight itself. The decision was basically a TKO for both Welles and Hearst. Hearst was successful in killing the movie...for a while, at least...but ended up a joke by the end of his tumultuous life. Meanwhile, the boy wonder Welles did make a cinematic opus which still resonates today but he ended up a Hollywood pariah; my memories of him were mostly of him shilling Paul Masson wine and having weird parts such as Le Chiffre in the failed product of its times, "Casino Royale". It was only from stills of him in Kane that I realized that he had actually been relatively thinner (though I couldn't say he was a stick) and a ladies' man, to boot. After watching "The Battle Over Citizen Kane", I have very little sympathy for either man (not that it would matter much since both are long dead) though. Both were folks with huge egos and appetites who would steamroller anyone who got in their way. I'd say that "Citizen Kane" was basically the story of both Hearst and Welles.

After taking a nap on my increasingly un-good idea when it comes to my back, I just warmed up some dinner and then caught a bit of "Clone Wars Part 2", the Cartoon Network take on the Star Wars saga. I'm not a huge fan of the animation in there but it does fill some of the gaps in the saga.

I actually did have to get some work done for today. But that took just an hour. Just as I had written in my last entry about how wonderful the weather has been, I heard the patter of rain hitting the windows. Well, at least the weather gods had the good sense to throw us the precipitation overnight. It's overcast now but should get sunny later on.

I've got The Hawaiian today in a GW re-schedule. I only did it since Movie Buddy had originally slated Wednesday as our movie outing day but it has worked out well. Now I don't really need to head out anywhere midweek. Then, I've got my weekly stint at Speedy's today followed by The Company. In a way, I'm hoping that one of the staff calls in to cancel but they hardly do.

Looks like North Korea has been skipping stones off the Sea of Japan again in the form of a short-range missile. What else is new? At least, there weren't any more demonstrations in China this past weekend.

I looked at The Stick's blog again. Apparently, she's put up a survey asking "Who would you prefer to be hugged by?" and then placing 5 of the top movie stars like Cruise and DiCaprio. I'm rather surprised...she'd never struck me as being a starstruck person by any means.