Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sunday August 28, 1:06 p.m.

Another late wake-up call. I'll never tire of those.

I got my reply from The Wild Thing just now. Looks like he's been working like the proverbial dog off in Vancouver...not much time for sleep or anything else. He may wanna consider getting back to that coffee addiction. Kinda interesting getting the replies from him and The Bohemian last night. Wild Thing's reply was pretty detailed like one of those pen-and-paper affairs of prehistory. On the other hand, The Bohemian kept it to just three terse statements. Not that I have anything against The Bohemian's economy of verbiage. I've known that he's never been a great fan of e-mail.

It mustn't be too hot out there since I've only got the fan on and I just turned that on a few minutes ago (I've been up since 11:30). I was telling Movie Buddy last night that I'm hoping the comfortably cooler nights are a sign of things to come.

Well, on the Trekkie front, it looks like a few more people have accompanied James Doohan to that starship in the sky. Brock Peters, who had played Admiral Cartwight in a couple of the Star Trek movies with the original crew and Captain Sisko's father, passed on a few days ago. One of the reasons that I wasn't too thrilled with Star Trek VI was that the character of Cartwright turned out to be a villain. I really liked him in Star Trek IV. Of course, to show that I'm not completely tunnel-visioned for Trek, Peters was also one of the pivotal actors in "To Kill A Mockingbird" with Gregory Peck.

Also, Star announced that the woman who had lent her operatic voice to the theme song of the original series also passed away. I was privy to a bit of interesting trivia. She's also the lady who helped out on that old chestnut, "When The Lion Sleeps Tonight".

Ironically, there was a syndicated program on the satellite talking about the making of "Enterprise". Obviously, it had been filmed in the first year of the series since everyone was sounding so hopeful. I thought it was tragically poignant during the interview with Scott Bakula when he mentioned that he didn't want to go down in Trek history as the captain on duty when the franchise was finally unplugged. Little did he know...

Well, off from the American pop culture. On the TV locally, there is another telethon of sorts. This time, it's by NTV. Unlike Fuji-TV's earlier telethon whose theme was "comedy", the NTV telethon is always a lot more serious. Its theme is "to live" so there has been the usual mini-dramas with top acting talent about a family in crisis (an impending death or a wayward teen). If you think the Jerry Lewis telethon (which, if I'm not mistaken, takes place next weekend) is over the top with its schmaltz and maudlin sentimentalism, NTV's 24 hours makes that telethon look like a detached dissertation on quasars. Along with the dramas, there is the celeb runner who has to run a marathon so that he/she can be seen to be suffering (a societal theme in this country). Of course, the runner's odyssey of self-discovery and self-flagellation takes place at the beginning and then ends right at the end of the telethon..."perfect" timing. And of course, his/her family is up there on the stage to give tearful comfort while the audience and fellow tarento provide commiserate/celebrate. Yup, you heard me...24 hours of running. I'm sure that the marathoner doesn't actually run continuously for an entire day and night; even Lance Armstrong (yes, I know..he's a bicyclist...just for the sake of comparison) takes those one-second breaks. The marathoner probably gets respite during the off-camera breaks. And finally, the NTV telethon isn't complete without a veteran announcer by the name of Tokumitsu breaking out in huge tears as an old song of togetherness is sung over and over again until the list of sponsors is conveniently rolled up the screen. You can imagine that I'm staying far, far away from NTV today.

I've been hearing it off and on through the various media outlets for a few weeks now but a Japanese fellow has finally cracked the ranks of the National Hockey League. The lad has a name that I've never heard...Fukufuji, I believe (I'm gonna have to ask The Siberian about the kanji). And he's a goalie. Man, he's gonna get a trial by fire. I don't get the impression that the Japanese hockey league is quite as wild and woolly as what goes for playing hockey in the Americas. Mind you, he could become the Ichiro of hockey or he could end up like that diminutive basketball player from here who blipped for a few weeks in the NBA and then disappeared.

Well, I'm just gonna put on the dirty uncool clothing (as opposed to the clean uncool clothing for work) and get me some fixins for pasta today. I'll also check out the optical department in Daiei and do a bit of comparison shopping on glass frames. I was able to fish out a really old pair from a shelf. I had to peel off the dust but as tarnished as they look, this old pair is still serviceable. At least I'm not risking impalement to my left temple.

Yup, I did promise not to stop by NTV. However, I did...and saw that a couple of descriptions turned out to be false. The marathoner isn't some celeb (although technically he is now due to his media exposure) but some 59-year-old lawyer...and the camera has him sitting down and chatting with some tarento. Will wonders never cease? I am surprised by one thing, though. I found out this NTV smarm-a-thon has been going on for decades and not just the past few years.
Saturday August 27, 10:01 p.m.

Did a good job with both The Manager and MK and then headed off to Shinjuku to meet up with Movie Buddy. It was the typical afternoon there. Lots of couples in summery wear, a few people dressed up in costumes and a couple of guys hawking contact lens...yup, you got lens barkers.

MB showed up and the two of us went off to catch "War of the Worlds". He was almost at 100% healthwise although a cough kept nagging him throughout the movie and dinner. Our theater, unlike the Milano where I'd caught "Madagascar" last week, was very air-conditioned. Also, it did strike me that there were a lot of nervous Nellies plaguing the place changing seats, coming and going, and in the seats behind us, there was an older couple nattering away at bits during the trailers.

"War of the Worlds" was a surprisingly short and intimate film for either a Tom Cruise or Steven Spielberg flick. It was also quite faithful to H.G. Wells' novel which surprised me. There wasn't any change in the source material so that Cruise leads the Resistance against the Martians. In fact, the movie was a big road trip focusing on how Cruise's initial loser of a father finally gets it all together with his family during this ultimate crisis instead of being another summer sci-fi blockbuster. It was a little strange seeing Cruise as a father of two kids, one who is well into his teens, considering he was always the Golden Boy of Hollywood for so long but his performance was nicely understated (for Tom Cruise). I don't recall a single scene in which he flashed his pearly whites at the camera. Not once. Mind you, there was the Tom Cruise run (see "The Firm", "Vanilla Sky" and "Mission: Impossible") and the need for his character to do at least one seemingly superhuman deed. But overall, his Ray Ferrier comes off as a flawed everyman who has to grow up in a hurry. He doesn't save the day (true to the original novel, the Martians die of germs). He just tries to keep his family safe and get them to their mother.

Despite the straight-on adaptation and understated nature of the movie, Spielberg still managed to put in some tremendous effects and good tension. I would say that the first attack of the Tripods on Ferrier and the rest of the population was probably a better marriage between effects and story than anything from "Revenge of the Sith". And of course, the acting and writing were hands-down better than anything from Star Wars. It would seem like the Tom Cruise-Steven Spielberg partnership is the dream matchup instead of the one with the other Tom.

After the movie, MB and I headed to the Aussie pub for dinner. At first, we were wondering if we would get in since there were some sports on the TV but we managed to squeeze into one table nicely. There we gabbed more on the movie and his trip to Oz among other things. Also, MB, for a guy who professes not to follow the game too much, gave me a good grounding on the vagaries of cricket which was the sport of the moment on the screens. Unfortunately at my age, digestion after a good meal usually translates into drowsiness so it was probably quite obvious to my dinner partner that I was starting to lose consciousness so we called it a night. I was also nodding off on the subway home.

I sent off a couple of messages to people that I hadn't spoken with in a few months. I actaully got a quick reply from The Bohemian. He's still searchng for that job. And hopefully, The Wild Guy will get back to me as well.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Saturday August 27, 7:56 a.m.

Got the word from MB. Looks like we're set for the movie tonight. It's looking pretty overcast right now so I'm a bit worried about the laundry. However, it's either wait another day and end up with a major overload on Sunday or get the whole thing done now and dry everything ASAP. As expected, it'll be a hot one but surprisingly it's gonna be a few degrees cooler than yesterday. And last night was pretty steamy.
Friday August 26, 9:38 p.m.

To think that in less than 4 months, I will probably be tons heavier due to turkey...WONDERFUL!

I got out to the juku an hour before lesson time as I usually do on my regular Tuesdays...only to find out that someone else was occupying my room. Then I realized that it was the other tutor. There was a boy studying in the boss' room that I gave a brief greeting to. I decided to just leave quietly without anyone else noticing (the boss was gabbing with her Mom in the living room) when the kid ruined my ninja exit and yelled for the boss. She saw me putting on my shoes and tried to invite me in but I demurred politely. I have nothing against her mother but to spend a whole hour in tense mode in Japanese seating style talking small with an elderly woman doesn't particularly enthrall me. I just went back up to the station area and hung around the department store for an hour before returning. Luckily, the boss didn't seem to take offense.

The Friday tutor is quite a hulking fellow...reminded me of a famous sumo. Looks nice enough, though. I had The Beauty Pair for what became a pretty lax class even for them. I felt a bit guilty afterwards so I may be tightening the ship somewhat on Tuesday but still have fun for them.

Movie Buddy has apparently returned from the grave. He's asked me about my availability for tomorrow to catch "War of the Worlds". After almost two months, Tom and Steve's latest really has legs. I was afraid that the movie had finished its run today but it's still on the schedule so I sent word back to him that I can catch it with him after my two lessons in Kiba.

As I was waiting for my subway, the frames of my glasses finally gave up the goat after 4 years of service. All the sweat and tarnish finally ate through the left handle so I've got an amputee of sorts now. Looks like I'll be heading to the neighbourhood department store's glasses department and get some new frames. I hope my Japanese is up to speed. Luckily, my head is so big that the glasses will never slip off.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Friday August 26, 1:54 p.m.

Yup, it's back to hot and (relatively) sunny. It already feels stifling out there. Just paid the rent and picked up some groceries.

I see that Robert Moog, inventor of the synthesizer and therefore god of all dance music and most pop music since the 70s, has passed away. All DJs will be turning down their glitter balls and vocoders for one minute in homage (sorry...I did pay my rent; I'm not in the greatest of moods).

It's an interesting foible of Japanese society. I watched the noontime program "Waratte Ii Tomo" with celebrity (false) god, Tamori on Fuji-TV today. During an average hour, the illustrious host and the guests of that day always have some sort of little gimmicky intro to start things off. Well, since it's Friday, today's was "Let's Dress Up Our Boyfriends As Beautiful Women". Yup, this is a weekly thing in which the women of the public are encouraged to encourage their guys to come on in and get the cosmetic sex change operation ostensibly for a cash or vacation prize. The scariest thing is seeing that the boys actually look even prettier in makeup and dresses than their belles (the two girls today looked like part of the Shibuya crowd). However, once the guys-turned-girls speak, the illusion is smashed immediately. Still, it is rather noteworthy to point out that in supposedly very conservative Japan how remarkably open it can be when it comes to transvestites, transsexuals and least in the entertainment world. I'm still not sure when it comes to the regular public, though. I think things can still be a bit edgy when people come out of the closet amongst the Tanakas and Suzukis of mainstream Japan.

When it comes to this area of celebrity though, the entertainers can be classed into three groups. The largest one consists of the flaming/preening/strutting types. Here you have swishy celebs like Toru Yamazaki, a couple of twin critics, Kaba-chan (a former dancer-turned-tarento) and a newly-emerged star in the form of the choreographer who arranged the dancing for the huge kitschy hit "The Matsu-Ken Samba" (kinda like Japan's Macarena) last year. There are also those celebs who have actually crossed the fence completely and become more feminine such as Peter. On the other side of the fence, there are some female wrestlers who often appear on TV who look distinctly mannish but I'm not sure if they've really come out of the closet.

The second group consists of pretenders and is probably far smaller. These folks act gay as part of their act but outside they are in. The most famous example to me is the comedian Takashi Fujii (Matthew Minami from "Lost In Translation" ). When he first received national fame several years ago, his big schtick was to pomp and preen like a hyperactive princess although he didn't put on the makeup or the dresses. But just this year, he announced his engagement to fellow tarento, Otoha, a buxom cutie. There's a veteran enka singer (whose name I can't recall) about whom I'd been certain that he was out of the closet due to his appearances in makeup, feminine clothing and mannerisms. However, I've also been hearing recently that he is also just a pretender.

Then there are the ones who have remained quiet about their sexual orientation. This isn't to say that they have tried to hide things but they just don't mention it since it doesn't involve their work. Singer-songwriter Noriyuki Makihara, actresses Ranran Suzuki and Miki Nakatani, and actor Ken Matsudaira (the guy for whom the aforementioned "Matsu-Ken Samba" was written) could be examples. I say "could be " since I've only heard rumours concering Nakatani.
Friday August 26, 10:43 a.m.

Yup, still here. Actually, I was just going over my blog past. I checked out the entries for this week from 2003 and 2004. Two years ago, I was still teaching part-time at my old school, while setting up the seeds for my current situation. I was commiserating about my former Monday night class out way out in Jiyugaoka...less than 2 months later, those students and I were history. A year ago, a lot of my entries were based on the Athens Olympics and how the Japanese contingent was kicking major butt. Interspersed with them, there were a lot of things that I was glad or embarrassed to have written about.
Friday August 26, 10:00 a.m.

I woke up half an hour ago to see that things have calmed down considerably. Haven't looked outside yet but I'm sure there's quite a bit of detritus out there...especially from our garbage disposal area. NHK is still saying that there's a chance that the heavy rains and winds can come back today so I'm not willing to put out the poles or do the wash just yet. I hope I can put out the screen door. It's quite the obstacle in my kitchen.

I've been checking up on the blogs for Movie Buddy and The Stick. MB hasn't written anything since his little diatribe on "Revenge of the Sith" and that was before he took off for Oz. He's been suffering from his flu. As for The Stick, she seems to be thoroughly enjoying her time in England. I've always thought that she ought to think about emigrating there. She'd make a great cranky spinster.
Friday August 26, 12:50 a.m.

The typhoon has arrived in Chiba. For the past hour or so, there has been a lot of driving wind and rain hitting my area. And NHK is there! They've been going on since 10 p.m. in its various news incarnations keeping a running commentary on the storm's course. Looks like Shizuoka got the worst of it so far....I see a lot of flooded buildings and elevators only half above "sea level". Shinjuku Station is getting pelted pretty badly. I'm lucky I did bring in that screen door from the balcony. It probably would have been banging all night against the window; I had to lay out the plastic bags so that it wouldn't drench my mattress. I wasn't totally successful but at least the sheets dried quickly. According to NHK, this slowpoke will just reach its peak over us at 5 a.m. Glad I'm not going anywhere until much later in the day.
Thursday August 25, 9:35 p.m.

Well, obviously I survived the round trip to The Tea Room. I was lucky that The Carolinan had advanced the lesson up to 6:30 since the management decided to close things up an hour early due to the typhoon. It was raining steadily outside but no winds. It turned out that The Carolinan had moved up the time simply because she wanted to head out to a farewell party nearby instead of true concern about the weather. Did get a nice bottle of white from her since she works at a wine distribution company. Maybe it's time for a bit of pasta for tomorrow. The temps tomorrow will be skyrocketing up again.

Got nothing planned except for the make-up lesson with The Beauty Pair. They had told me on Tuesday that there is a restaurant run by a mutual friend of theirs who had lived in Canada for a few years and then opened up this place nearby. Perhaps we can make a bit of a visit afterwards.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thursday August 25, 12:32 p.m.

The weather is slowly but steadily deteriorating. It's still not raining that hard but things should get interesting around the dinner hour. NHK Weather is saying that Typhoon 11 is a compact powerful creature which indicates that the calm can quite suddenly turn into a maelstrom. Right now, Shizuoka has entered the storm zone. I've received no call from The Carolinan as of yet. I'm also kinda wondering if I should bring a change of clothing with me just in case I get stranded in Tokyo. One never knows in these cases.

Apparently, taking over from "The Apprentice" and "American Idol" as the top reality show is this program called "Dancing With The Stars". Yawn! Probably got the idea from one of the local shows here. For several years, the comedian duo Utchan-Nanchan has been doing an annual 2-hour special in which they along with a lot of other usually graceless tarento metamorphose into super dancing fiends. The group comes in as an assault force with the three or four pairs trying to win one for the team as the top pair in a national dance competition.
Thursday August 25, 9:36 a.m.

Typhoon 11 is starting to make its presence known. We had a spate of pretty intense rain an hour ago, and I've heard the winds pick up somewhat although things are calm now. Still, I'll bring in the laundry poles. So far, I've still got a lesson with The Carolinan although that could change if the storm gets too intense. It was actually nice, though, not to have sweltered during a night's sleep. No fan, no AC.
Wednesday August 24, 10:44 p.m.

Gonna have to remember not to schedule lessons at The Tea Room during the noon hour. I was lucky today but when I got there at noon, the place was packed. The New Yorker had her lesson at 1 but it was pretty close when I finally got my own table. The waitresses were nice enough to try and secure one for me considering how busy they were. Quite a difference from the usual situation when I teach there in the late afternoon or early evening.

It was basically my stand-up (or sit-down) routine for all three of my students. Had The New Yorker, 001 and 002 in stitches through no fault of my own. Just was at the top of my humourous game with whatever I blurted out of my mouth. One of the running gags at Speedy's today was this box of chili-laced chocolates that one of his students had brought back with him from Korea. I had about four of them over the course of the evening (don't place yourself between me and a plate of new chocolates...will be lethal) and aside from a buzz in my mouth the strength of a stick of spearmint, I had no problems with them. In fact, I thought the product was almost guilty of false advertising. The other students along with Speedy and The Secretary reacted a bit more strongly but they also didn't get too hot or bothered.

Movie Buddy has canned his movie outing with me tomorrow due to that nasty flu that he'd gotten back in Oz. And The Carolinan has requested her class be advanced by a half-hour. I wonder if her request has anything to do with Typhoon 11 coming in tomorrow night although if that were really the case, she would cancel the lesson outright. It's just as well that MB has decided to pull out; it probably wouldn't be a good environment to be out in for a fluish person. I'll have to keep an eye out about the weather tomorrow and see if I should pick up supplies at the local convenience store before all hell supposedly breaks loose.

I got word from the juku boss tonight stating that the Beauty Pair will be OK for that make-up class on Friday night so I've got an extra lesson to fill up my empty day then.

Just watched a glimpse of what may be a pretty clever J-horror drama on prime time TV. At first, I saw a variety show headlined by one of those comedic duos. The guys were hosting this show on the incidence of ghost pictures and the highlight was visiting this supposedly haunted Japanese house out in the countryside with remote cameras and a tarento "bravely" providing on-the-spot coverage. This sort of scary variety show pops up all over the Japanese airwaves occasionally, especialy during the summer since fear has a very cooling effect. I usually find these things pretty lame since what scares the Japanese doesn't particularly scare Westerners. A woman with a long snaky neck? A boy without eyes and a nose? Well...plastic surgery has made some wonderful advances recently. Ghost pictures? Hasn't the land of Fuji Film ever heard of double exposures? Cockroaches? I respect their ability to survive nuclear attacks.

In any case, at first, as usual, I rather scoffed (meanly, I'll have to admit since it is a cultural thing) at the TBS guests and audience as they leapt, screamed and fainted when they saw a formerly sealed room in the house gush forth a ton of water...a la the movie "Dark Water". I'm sure by the reactions of many of the folks that they truly believed and almost died of fright from the images they were seeing but scoff I still did. These programs are anything if predictable. However, it turned out that this show, as true as it was, was merely the core of a drama starring the comedians in a very rare (maybe only) dramatic role. The producers must have filmed the show and then decided to bookend it with some "Twilight Zone" stuff. On the surface, it doesn't sound all that clever but considering the mundane nature of dramas and drama specials these days, this "Blair Witch Project/Scream" approach was a nice little touch.

I still managed to sweat a bit but the weather was much cooler than usual. I've got the fan on but the air conditioner has gotten itself a day off and I've got the window open. I can live with this.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wednesday August 24, 8:38 a.m.

Overcast...and only going up to 25 C! We're gonna freeze today! The typhoon is also taking its sweet time arriving. Now, it's slated for arrival sometime on Friday. Well, depending on certain factors, I may be out on that day.

Fairly busy day today. I've got The New Yorker for a rare Wednesday afternoon appointment at The Tea Room. 1 p.m. is still quite bustling at the Room so things might get a little hard to hear, especially with a student who doesn't speak all that much all that loudly. Then I gotta skip over to Speedy's to teach 001 and 002.
Tuesday August 23, 11:54 p.m.

The skies opened up in bursts today along with some Sturm und Drang. The night at the juku certainly had an added light show. The New Kid was OK today and I had a pretty good time with The Beauty Pair. For some reason, I was pretty much on air with those ladies...could've been something in the iced coffee. Around their time, things got really violent outside so that the Milds basically opted out of coming to class since they didn't want to find out what it was like to be lightning rods. So I just had McGirl...things were easier that way. The Siberian was back after his trip to Oz. Yep, his fluency and confidence were definitely better although there's still room for improvement. We used the hour to talk about his time in Queensland. Then, I brought up the topic of whether or not the current text would really be relevant for him anymore since it was really just used to boost fluency. I got the impression that he had the same thoughts as well. To be honest, except for the Beauty Pair, I wondered if I've really had much of an effect on the juku students over the past couple of years. But I can't really afford to just move onto bigger and better things right now.

I only received word from Movie Buddy. Looks like Thursday will be a go to see "War of the Worlds" finally in Shinjuku.

I've noticed some of these blogs that have been popping up. Movie Buddy, The Stick and the two celebs, Eriko Sato and Sonim have blogs that strike me more as miniature multimedia empires than as just simple diaries. It gets a bit depressing to see that my own operation, 2.5 years and going, is still just nothing but text and code names. However, since I've never meant it to be known to anyone I know...just an Internet record for me, myself and I, I guess it'll stay that way.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Tuesday August 23, 8:31 a.m.

Watching the news last night, I saw a small feature on some old woman who's been waging some war against a neighbour who's been making all sorts of racket and smells. The problem is that the neighbour is completely innocent, and despite the reporter's evidence through technological means that there is no noise or smells emanating, the woman harangues him on the so-called conspiracy against her. I'm no psychologist/psychatrist but I know when someone is clearly unhinged and in need of help.

The thing is that she's not alone. There was another similar case earlier this year with a woman who had been heaping verbal abuse at her neighbours as well as sonically assaulting them with a boombox for almost a decade. She was finally taken away...hopefully to some mental facility. The deafened and frustrated neighbours suspect that a death in her family years ago may have caused her to snap. Even my student, SIL, has told me of an erratic neighbour although that person didn't seem as extreme as the first two examples. In those examples, it's been amazing how seemingly helpless the police have been to rectify the situation. They've just said, "Nothing we can do". Obviously, there is a difference in the laws between Japan and North America when it comes to instituting someone. I've had my own indirect encounters with mentally ill people running loose with that psycho woman on the bike in Shinjuku who screams how much she hates crows.

On a totally different note, I bought a couple of CDs for the first time in a few months. Both of them are purchases of artists that I had never bought before. One is "So Wonderful" by Bonnie Pink, a singer who's made some underground inroads in the States. She's been around for a decade. I'd always known her as a low-key performer with supermodel looks and a voice reminiscent of the lead singer of The Bangles; she wrote all of her songs which struck me in the pop/folk vein of a Suzanne Vega or Sarah McLachlan. Early in her career, she even sported dyed pink hair which struck me as a lame PR schtick. Thankfully, she's gone back to her natural brown. It seems that in recent years, though, her sound has gotten a bit more poppier and slicker. "So Wonderful" is a surprisingly short (a little over 3 minutes) but catchy tune produced and assisted by Tore Johansson and some fellow Swedes. I'm not sure but I think Johansson has some connection with The Cardigans; I know that he has helped out a former 80s idol, Tomoyo Harada, with her recent pop efforts. I first found about "So Wonderful" from a viewing of her video on the local music channel. Pink was definitely not strumming the guitar anymore; she was strutting on a runway in some fashion duds with some backup dancers like one of those J-R&B singers. Mind you, "So Wonderful" is one of those songs which plays well with that type of choreography.

The other is "Thank You For The Music" by a folksy band called Bonobos. Like the Bonnie Pink purchase, I was attracted to this single by the video and the catchy bass beat which reminds me of the iconic beat from Queen's "We Will Rock You". However, Bonobo's latest song is more of a happy-go-lucky ditty than a rock anthem played at sports events.
Monday August 22, 8:57 p.m.

My first day back in the saddle again, and not surprisingly, I'm pretty tired not having practiced my teaching chops on full power for a couple of weeks. Still, it was nice to see The Class Act and then SIL. SIL had a bit of a run-in with a taxi hack the night before. Hmmm...I thought those guys only get cranky when fares only want to be taken a kilometre. I just had Junior's classmate at The Company. Helped him get through the vocabulary by feeding it to him in nice bite-sized pieces. We managed to survive the class quite well but the intensity tuckered me out.

Which is why I am happy that The Poppy cancelled yet again. I guess I have to come to the conclusion that kids are just not going to be the most reliable in terms of attendance. The New Kid has been very sporadic which prompted me to ask the juku boss if he will be coming tomorrow night. However, the boss told me that The Siberian is back from his homestay in Perth so he'll be back for his lesson. I always wonder how a person changes or doesn't change after an extended stay in a foreign country.

Speaking of homestays, I got a response from my congratulatory e-postcard to the Barmaiden. She's pretty excited about her upcoming trip to Toronto so I'm hoping that I can give her some guidance about the city before she takes off. Looks like she had a good time at her grad party on Saturday. Kinda too bad that I couldn't make it out to that.

I also got a response from Movie Buddy about catching "War of the Worlds" sometime next week. I can slot him in for early Thursday afternoon, several hours before I see The Carolinan for her lesson.

On a more domestic front, the cold war between the garbage collectors and whoever has been dumping raw garbage, cigarette butts and ineligible bags of trash downstairs in the building's garbage dump area is still continuing...about close to a month now. To explain the last part, not only do we have to sort our garbage into burnable, non-burnable and plastics but we have to put them into the correctly designated bags. The cold warrior has just been pitching the stuff out in plain white supermarket bags. The smell has been rather unbearable in the summer heat so I automatically hold my breath when I hit ground level from the stairs. Not sure if the culprit is someone who's actually living in my apartment building or, as my gut tells me, an outsider. One would think that the collectors would have called the apartment management agency about the situation. We used to have a middle-aged lady complete with rubber gloves and bags who very generously cleaned up the garbage area but she hasn't been seen for months. I sure hope the problem sorts itself out because I don't think I can do anything about it.

That typhoon, if it actually does hit our shores, isn't due for a couple of days. However, the winds have picked up quite a bit tonight and there was a bit of sprinkling this morning

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Monday August 22, 7:04 a.m.

Well, barring any sudden cancellations, I'm back on full duty after about a couple of weeks of little activity. It's gonna be a full slate of The Class Act, SIL, The Company and then The Poppy. It'll be nice getting income again.

Finished off the ironing last night. I was also taping a docudrama on the life and death of Kyu Sakamoto, the singer of "Sukiyaki", for my parents. The advertising for it had been plastered in a lot of the subway stations for several days. I didn't bother watching it myself since I find most dramas here way too maudlin for my taste. Plus, the lead role was played by one of the pretty boys in the Johnny's Jimusho cadre, the band TOKIO to be exact, and frankly, Johnny's doesn't exactly rate against, say, the Royal Shakespearan Company of Dramatic Arts. However, Kyu's wife was played by Rie Tomosaka, who is a good actress although she had her thankfully brief dalliance in the music world. Still, I did manage to see the last five or ten minutes of the drama which had Sakamoto's family make the dreaded identification of his body after he and the other 519 passengers had died in that JAL plane crash 20 years ago. It was the usual local film technique of focusing on each and every person in the shot and getting their reaction of grief. To Tomosaka's credit, her character didn't look beautiful in her grief but what it really should be like: puffy face, all sorts of liquid pouring out. The drama ended up showing snippets of the happy scenes again...another Japanese TV drama technique whenever a major character dies, but at least, the drama actually did end without too much sentimentalism. I was half-expecting the entire cast getting together to sing "Sukiyaki" but it ended up with the widow, still looking shellshocked, and her two daughters looking up into the night sky while his second-most famous song played in the background.

At this point, it looks like Typhoon 12 will be veering away from Japan so no trouble from it but Typhoon 11 will be plowing into Honshu on Thursday. However, typhoon forecasting seems to be on the same level as earthquake forecasting: not particularly accurate.
Sunday August 21, 7:11 p.m.

There was a jolt in Niigata this morning. About a Shindo 5+. Fairly strong over there but all we got here in Chiba was a gentle Shindo 2 (in Toronto, that could be translated as terrifyingly end-of-the-world Shindo 2). Basically, I got a nice little hammock swing on my sofa.

Once again, I spoke too soon. A couple of days ago I was lamenting the fact that there had been no major typhoons recently. Well, we've got a possible double whammy on the way for midweek. Typhoons 11 and 12 may hit the Kanto sometime on Wednesday.

And yet, another new political party is born. Given the simple name of The Japan Party, it was also born from the kerfuffle of the Postal Privatization Bill. Not surprisingly, the founders of the party are all opponents of the bill. One of the leaders happens to be the offbeat Governor of Nagano Prefecture. Forgot his name but his first claim to fame was as the author of a 1981 novel called "Nantonaku Crystal" or Somehow Crystal which depicted the fecklessness and decadence of the then-young generation. I can only imagine what the guy must think of the current Shibuya crowd.

Well, my day has been pretty quiet. Just cleaned up the apartment and did some grocery shopping. I'll get some long-needed ironing done and tape some stuff for the parentals. Pretty good for the final day of the O-Bon holidays.