Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sunday December 18, 9:02 a.m.

I got an early warning from Mother Nature that today will probably be the coldest day this year so far. The winds were howling all over the place overnight. At first, I had thought it was just one of those bikers letting everyone in Chiba know how many cc's he has in his engine but when I realized that it was gale-force gusts, I woke up at the sinfully early hour of 5 a.m. and took in all of my laundry lest they be taken to Oz. Considering that the high has now been revised to just 4 C, the wind chill factor will easily drop into the minus column. I think all of my guests except for Speedy, who's a Canuck like myself, will be suffering a mighty wind on the way to my place.

Also, it would seem that my oven light gremlin is back. A couple of times during the night, my oven light has switched on and off by itself. This has been happening periodically over the past month. No idea behind it.

As usual, I'm already running late in my big cleanup. Mind you, I always overestimate the time needed to complete a project....kinda like Scotty the Miracle Worker so perhaps it won't be too rough getting the apartment into shape before 1 p.m. It doesn't help that I'm still feeling a bit tired although the tea has helped.

Last night I listened to Mika Nakashima's BEST OF album over the headphones just before bed. After just 3 years, she's put out an album of her best hits, eh? Of course, it's a marketing ploy but to be honest, it could be well warranted in her case. She's had a lot of the top writers coming up with some good material to complement her somewhat off-kilter voice. In fact, owning a couple of her earlier releases, there were a few songs that I thought should have gone onto the best album. For some reason, a J-Pop website has pegged her a jazz-pop diva. Well, except for one of her hits, "Love Addict" which is in the jazz vein (sort of), the rest of her stuff has been solidly in the pop or R&B category. Also, her most recent hit "Glamourous Sky" for the movie version of the manga "Nana" is straight rock. I think it's this chameleon ability of hers which will keep her on the waves for some time.

The night before I listened to my other recent acquisition, "From To" (yup, another one of those enigmatic Japlish titles again) by recent diva, Ayaka Hirahara. She first achieved her fame a few years ago with a slightly hip-hop version of one of the songs from Holst's "The Planets". Her cover of "Jupiter" may have gotten more young people to cotton onto classical music. In any case, her newest album is also one of covers of various classic J-Pop songs of yesteryear which include Southern All Stars' "Itoshi no Ellie" (a song that had been covered once before by the late Ray Charles). What's remarkable about her is that her voice has a tone reminiscent of the notes produced by a shakuhachi or bass recorder...very mellow and rich, unusual for a lady in her early twenties. Before I start talking of Hirahara as if she were some bottle of wine, I'll just end up by saying that the two albums I've bought are definitely keepers.

I've just read that John Spencer from "The West Wing" has passed away. Man, he was quite the familiar face on the big and small screen for a number of years. I wonder how the NBC show is gonna handle this death in the family.
Saturday December 17, 6:52 p.m.

Feeling beat. I guess just getting those 5 hours of sleep doesn't really help a 40-year-old. It did help that I had the Oedo Line as a makeshift napping sofa.

I don't know what's gotten into The Elder these two weeks but I hope it's more than just a phase she's going through. She was actually semi-cheerful and talking today. She's still just 15 but with hope she may just be maturing. For both kids, I did some Xmas-themed puzzles along with their usual stuff. By the time I was finishing off with The Younger, I was starting to fade badly. I was just happy that I was doing another version of that puzzle book, I SPY. And just before the kids' mother took off for Shibuya, she gave me a big bag of big apples.. It wasn't as heavy as they looked, though.

JJ was in good form today. She'd had a pretty good run at the Honolulu Marathon last week although her right leg gave out on her near the finish. Once again, I got another culinary present in the form of a box of Macadamia Chocolates and a tiny bottle of Icewine straight from the Inniskillen Winery in Niagara Falls. How it got into Hawaii I'm not sure. So along with these treats from JJ, the apples from the mother and then the smoked duck from The Matron, it looks like we're gonna have a veritable feast tomorrow for the sukiyaki party.

I got back home but wasn't done quite yet. I just dumped my bag and apples on the kitchen floor and then took off once more for the station since I still had to get some more supplies for the party. On the way there, I saw the second day of raffles taking place in the subway mall. The lineup was truly a long one which is making me think about lining up tomorrow with The Madame to get a crack at the big wheel.

I got off at Myoden Station and made a beeline for the 100-yen shop just across from the cafe where I meet The Teacher on Fridays. This place is indeed a godsend....I bought four extra seating cushions. zabuton, a CD rack, paper bowls, napkins and cups....all for 840 yen. The only downside there was having to listen to Der Bingle's treacly cover of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" through one ear and then hearing a frustrated mother berate her oversucrosed kids in the other. And I wonder why I've stayed single so long. Afterwards, I just decided to have dinner in the cafe. It was pretty sparse in the non-smoking section where I meet The Teacher; in fact, I sat at the same table. Perhaps there were only two other couples in the area. I went for the Ginger-Sauteed Pork and Deep Fried Oysters set. Not too expensive at 780 yen but I got reminded that one gets for what one pays for...the dish looked somewhat smaller than the pic on the menu.

Just bought some more cleaning stuff for the big cleaning job I'm gonna have to do early tomorrow morning before the hordes descend on my apartment. And here I am. Gonna try and relax as much as I can and then take a nice hot bath before hitting bed.

The snows have been coming down like a rock on a majority of the country. Tokyo, as usual, is playing observer on all this wintry weather. Still, we're gonna be plenty cold tomorrow at just 6 C.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Saturday December 17, 7:05 a.m.

Aye, another cold one out there. But we're still snow-free for now. On average, it's warmer here than back in The Great White North but unfortunately, we don't have the great luxury of central heating. Still, it's better being here right now than in New York where there are partial transit strikes. I don't think there's ever been such a thing as a transit strike in reason is that the unions are so weak here. Service is still very good although you do get the odd driver who feels the need to talk to himself very loudly.

Well, Kong may be king in the Americas but he's arriving in Japan today to much less fanfare. It sounds like "King Kong" may be the Johnny-come-lately for Oscar with all of the raves that are accompanying it but the big ape doesn't have the legacy here that it does in America. I can only assume then that "Godzilla Versus King Kong" didn't particularly enthrall the folks here. But there was a cute commercial for a television set which features Kong and Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui.

Skippy confirmed that she and OA are heading over here for dinner tomorrow. So we will be a party of 8. I'm afraid that this weekend will not see me with any late wake-ups. I gotta wake up early tomorrow too to clean up the apartment before the ladies come.
Friday December 16, 6:43 p.m.

I sent off that last Xmas present to my brother's family today. I guess I have friends in high places. Despite that it was a parcel, the longtime staffer at the post office just stamped it as a "small packet" and only charged me 1230 yen for Air Mail. There's no way that I could've gotten it over at that price.

The Teacher was really in a good mood today...quite the contrast from her near-suicidal one from a couple of weeks ago. Almost wondered what she was on. She was getting into some pretty risque topics as well...kinda reminded me of The Madame on that score. Still, I prefer her as she was today. And it was nice to finish off the year with her in good spirits.

Looks like I once again went on a spending spree this afternoon. Luckily, my bank book didn't take too much of a beating thanks to those gift certificates I got from the kids' mother last week. First I had lunch at Com Pho, that Vietnamese lunchery in the basement of the Oazo complex at Otemachi Station. I hadn't been there in a couple of months so it was nice to be back. Instead of the usual bun bi, I went for the goma pho (sesame noodles), a hot bowl of rice noodles mixed in with minced meat and a heavy dollop of sesame sauce. After adding some chili oil and vinegar, it was perfect.

I went upstairs to Maruzen and picked up a Christmas kids' book for use in tomorrow's class with the kids...the final one this year. It had some puzzles appropriate for the Holidays. In any case, they should help pad the lessons. Then, it was off to the next station, Nihombashi, where I went to the venerable department store, Takashimaya, to pick up some New Year's cards and then CDs with the remaining gift certificates. I was quite happy to add another Mika Nakashima disc to my collection...this time, it's her "Best of" album. The second purchase was Ayaka Hirahara's latest release which is a set of covers of other J-Pop songs. Both ladies have rather unique voices. To finish things off, I went down to B1 and purchased a box of special rice crackers from one of the many counters in the food section for my uncle in thanks for helping me with my immigration documents. The relatives ought to be fairly surprised when the Yamato delivery guy shows up on their front step with the package. It's a wonderfuly convenient thing purchasing packages of food in a department store. Right then and there, you can buy it and then have it delivered via Yamato.

I managed to cut down on the guilt by actually making it to the gym today. I put in a good workout too. Afterwards, I did decide to pay my rent right on the due date. I figure it wouldn't matter in any case. I'll just have to try and save up as best I can. Just to cut down on the stuff I had to lug home with me, I decided to have dinner at the local Subways...I tried the seasonal Turkey and Bacon with Red Wine Vinegar. Hmmm...not bad but it won't replace Tuna.

As I was checking my e-mail, The Croissant called me via Instant Messaging from LA. We had a long chat...looks like she'll back here as of the 19th. It won't be all fun and games with her since she's due for an operation on her back...she'd been suffering a lot of pain there for some years. Still, she wants to get some of her own gang from her days at the ol' school together for a year-end party. I said that I would keep my schedule open for her. Strangely enough, just before I got the chat signal from her, I had been reading a message from The Denmother about pretty much the same thing; that is, getting together over The Holidays. Also, she mentioned of the possible chance of getting some English lessons from me. I'm always amenable for that.

Paddy's colleague finally responded back to me. I'll be heading back to her office on Wednesday to have her check my documents before heading off for Immigration. I hope I can get all of the stuff together before the final day of work there on the 28th.

Looks like Japan is being wracked over most of the country with heavy snow....Tokyo, as usual, has all the lives of a cat and has so far avoided so much as a flake although there was that alleged first snow back on Sunday. Places like Niigata and northern Japan have been getting majorly dumped on with the white stuff. I can only assume that Tokyo's luck will run out eventually and the storms will hit here. Could be as early as Sunday when I have the sukiyaki party.

Another bizarro crime. Nope, no kid got slaughtered today but 30 dogs did. And out of a page of the Iraqi insurgents, the pooches were beheaded. Some poor guy came across a box filled with canine heads in a box in a river in Katsushika Ward. If a nutcase is willing to do that to a bunch of dogs, he can go up to the next level on the evolutionary ladder.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been getting tickets from various stores in the mall under my subway station. It must be Year-End Raffle season. I need 4 of these tickets to redeem them for a spin on the octagonal raffle wheel (kinda like a BINGO drawing ball) and then I could win a prize. Since the raffle will be on Sunday, perhaps me and The Madame can make our try for it then.

Can't believe it's been a week since that grand ball at The Lady's house. And in another week, it'll be Speedy's Xmas party. Getting busy...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thursday December 15, 9:30 p.m.

I must be getting old or getting too used to winters here in the Kanto. My thighs actually felt pins and needles at above zero degrees Centigrade. I have to hand in my Canadian citizenship now... Apparently, NHK is warning some of the outlying areas that water pipes may be freezing overnight. I had my own tribulations with frozen pipes some years ago during a cold snap in Chiba. Really wrecked my morning not being able to take a normal shower or toilette. I had to boil water and then use some of that to sponge myself off. Well, I think Chiba has been OK for the past several years but I'm gonna take that shower tonight and then fill up the tub with water just in case. BTW, for your information, it takes 8 litres of water to flush a toilet once. Also I hear that on sukiyaki Sunday, the high will only be around 5 C. I think The Madame, Skippy and all the rest will be quite happy to dig into some hot food then.

To annoy the heck out of me, my apartment management company sent the notice stating that they want the rent tomorrow. Geez, thanks for the warning...well, sorry guys, but I'm gonna wait a couple of more days to get some more money to deposit before I send it to you. I've been your loyal prompt customer for years can wait.

I made it out to Kiba to teach The Manager and MK. Tried the Gingerbread Latte and Basil Chicken Sandwich for dinner at Starbucks. Hmm...the latte did taste like a liquidy gingerbread man...not sure if that should be allowed to exist in our dimension, though. As for the chicken sandwich, hmmmm....I think there should be a complaint based on false advertising. There were two sandwiches, one of which consisted of just veggies and salad dressing between two slices of bread. Sorry, I would've ordered a salad if I'd wanted anything like that. Veggie sandwiches, ick!

As for The Manager and MK, they were both quite jolly. I'm not sure if it had been the approach of the Holidays but both lessons, we got pretty sidetracked. Well, I think once in a while is OK but I get a little worried once we start getting chronically tangentalized. As it is, it'll be about another month before I see them again.

Because I was so dissatisfied with the fare at Starbucks tonight, I decided to shave the food budget limit and get a bag of rice crackers and peanuts for 100 yen at a Mini-Stop. The stuff has become my default snack when my stomach gets the grumblies. Plus, I figure my blood needs de-clogging.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thursday December 15, 1:56 p.m.

Just came back from my trip to The Tax Office. En route I stopped off at the Moto-Yawata KFC, your Christmas culinary institution in Japan. The Colonel was decked out in his Santa robes outside. I bet if you ask kids here who has a white beard & mustache and wears a red suit, more than likely they'll cry out "Sanders-san!" I had that Chicken Pot Pie for the first time. Yep, as Mrs. Jade of The Beehive proclaimed, it was delectable. Made me nostalgic for the times when Mom used to serve meat pies for lunch over the weekends. Meat pies aren't exactly plentiful over here unless you live close to a British pub...or a KFC during Xmas. All of those J-Pop Xmas tunes were playing in the background.

From the KFC, it was a 15-minute walk to the Tax Office tucked some 100 m away north of sleepy Onigoe Station. Getting the income tax forms for next year was relatively simple enough although one document I have to wait until the New Year. Had to do a bit of explaining when it came to the tax document for my Permanent Residency, though. But with some further banter between the young kid behind the counter and myself, and a 20-minute wait, I was able to procure that paper...for 400 yen. I guess even outside of tax season, The Tax Office still tries to collect the loot.

I've decided to procrastinate once more on the gym since I still have to get some other stuff done before I see The Manager and MK tonight. Well, there's always tomorrow afternoon after The Teacher.
Thursday December 15, 8:19 a.m.

Already halfway into December...just incredible that in 10 shopping days, it'll be Xmas.

Caught the latest episode of "Space: 1999" this morning. It was "End of Eternity" of the better-conceived eps. The whole concept was of a psychopath who was immortal. Just imagine, Hannibal Lecter can never die. Great story idea...but then again, later on we did get Jason and Freddy.

Listened to those Xmas discs I got the other day. The tribute CD to the 40th Anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Xmas" had some good moments but it just struck me as one of those relatively bland smooth jazz or jazz lite treatments. I was kinda hoping for a more traditional take on it. That was certainly the case for Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs" which made it the far better of the two. This time, Diana has got a full orchestra behind her instead of her usual faithful trio. Some good treatments of old standards. And her supermodel looks and poses on the cover certainly don't hurt.
Wednesday December 14, 10:42 p.m.

Pretty quiet night at Speedy's. I just did some Net surfing and ate dinner before 001 came in. She was rollicking along as usual, although I think things started to slow down a bit by the end. By the time Speedy and SB entered after the official end of the lesson with 001, as they usually do, the humour was getting pretty forced since both she and I were pretty tired.

Got word from The OL that she has to cancel Friday due to work Luckily, my Monday nights at Speedy's are now non-starters due to 005 bailing out and 004 having to postpone her lessons for the next couple of months due to work. I'll be able to supplement my income after my stint at The Lady's house and I can actually get started on cleaning up my place a bit earlier for the sukiyaki party on Sunday.

Well, I made a faux pas when I sent off that letter to Uncle. I was supposed to have enclosed an SASE for Uncle's convenience; the SA part was OK but I'd forgotten to stick on stamps. I guess I'm gonna have to send over a nice package of cookies from one of the Ginza department stores in thanks. In any case, I have to head off to the Tax Office tomorrow to get my income tax form for next year and also to get a document needed for my Permanent Residency bid. Then, if I'm lucky, I can head on out to the gym.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Wednesday December 14, 10:33 a.m.

With much of the news focused on various child murders the past couple of weeks, and me being out at work a lot of the time, I could be forgiven if I forgot the news of the beleaguered and notorious architect, Hidetsugu Aneha, who confessed to making substandard apartments and hotels. However, he's got his day in court...well, to be specific, Parliament....answering questions from the mandarins about his dubious feats. The live hearing is getting exposure right across the TV airwaves. Just about every channel except for TV Tokyo (which seems to believe that TV shopping still has priority) is showing it.

It was very chilly inside the apartment when I woke up despite the work of my fan heater. I think it was just 7 C while the outside was reading just a single lonely degree. I'm amazed that I could still bear it while only wearing my pyjamas...I guess that Canadian upbringing does help although Canadian homes are all centrally heated. In fact, my room got especially hot even in the dead of the frigid winters back in Toronto. Over here, there's just my electric blanket and the natural versions wrapping me up.

I have to send another document for my uncle to fill out for my Permanent Residency bid since I forgot to do so earlier. But it is just the one. I'm still waiting to hear from Paddy's friend, the immigration lawyer who had counseled me during the summer, about checking my documents. I still need to fill out a couple of more things before I finally make my way down to Immigration again. I would like to get everything done by the Holidays but I've got a sneaking suspicion that I won't be able to head on down until after The New Year.

Well, for some reason, I seem to be missing a pillow slipcover after hanging it out to dry out on the line. Most likely, it was probably blown away by the wind, and I mean blown right out of the neighbourhood since I can't find it anywhere....not on the balcony below or even on the streets. And even with the bizarro crimes here, I don't think I've heard of any nuts out there with slipcover fetishes.

It's almost a day off today since I only have 001 tonight for her Wednesday regular. 003 is, I assume, still off the schedule due to work. But I'll check with Speedy just to make sure.
Tuesday December 13, 11:38 p.m.

It's getting pretty darn colder out there at night. I would almost say that it feels like Toronto weather without the snow...and I can't predict what's gonna happen with that.

I'd always been wondering about whether The New Kid and I were starting to deviate from our initial vibe. Well, the first shoe fell tonight after the lessons when I found out from the juku boss that his mother had spoken with her about her son. It looks like he's getting rather bored of the whole kidding there. She was trying to give me some advice on how to shake things up for him...perhaps just sticking with pure conversation. I know that's not gonna fly. He's a teen who practices guitar...I'm a 40-year-old nerd, nuff said. I think keeping him on the EPT path and on a conversation-based book is really the only way to go with him. As I said, he's a typical kid...he's not one of those special cases who just LOVES English to death. He will never really get into the language but I can try to at least keep him in the conversation but I think if things fail to change by early next year, I'll probably recommend that he be dropped.

Still, it's been a bit of a rough ride over the past few weeks with that little crisis with 004 and then 005's bailout...and now The New Kid. I may have to get a lot more serious about my craft and ditch some of the humour.

On a lighter note, that kitten is getting bigger all the time...and more aggressive. My pants have got a lot more claw marks now than they did a few hours ago. And I think my legs will be aching overnight.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tuesday December 13, 1:21 p.m.

Another cold one out there...well, at least for Tokyo it is. Only up to 7 C.

The Beehive had a full complement although Mrs. Tee seemed a bit ill at ease for some reason but she often gets a little moody. It was my final lesson with them for the year since next week is slated for the annual Xmas party. My sometime teaching partner will also be joining us on the 20th. We also had a couple of Mrs. Tulip's friends who operate this little coffee-and-tea selling business come over and sell their wares. I picked up a box of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate and a box of Cinnamon Black Tea. Mornings will have that extra kick.

The Madame contacted me to say that she'll come by a little earlier on Sunday to help out with the shopping for sukiyaki. I'm quite grateful for the assist since I'm not sure how much beef to get for 8 people when it comes to this dish.
Monday December 12, 6:43 p.m.

As stated earlier, my day was greatly truncated. It's the first time in a few months, aside from national holidays, that I've had an early Monday night. The lesson with The Class Act went well. We did a post-analysis on the grand ball on Friday night. The party exceeded even the lofty expectations of The Lady and The finally petered out around 3 a.m. and just about the entire larder was cleaned out, much to The Chef's delight. But I never doubted his abilities for a second. I also thanked The Matron for the package of smoked duck I got from her as an o-seibo gift. That stuff should make a wonderful appetizer for Sunday's sukiyaki party. I also did the same thing with SIL concerning the party. She ended up staying a lot longer than she'd thought. My rather shy student admitted that even she'd had a good time last Friday in comparison to her first time there when she'd had no one to talk to. The Lady was relieved that everyone there had some friendly faces to talk with. Well, if that's the case, then I'll be very happy to bring the same crew over next year.

Afterwards, since I was free and clear of any classes, I put a majority of my hard-earned cash into the bank and decided to go on a bit of a spending spree. I used the first of those gift certificates to get an Ampanman doll for my niece. I'm gonna have to send that out along with the rest of the stuff for my brother's family this week. It's a pity that the stores that take the gift certificates don't sell CDs. As a result, I decided to head over to Towers for those purchases. My card was almost filled so, well, I bought a couple of discs (that 40th anniverary tribute album to "A Charlie Brown Xmas" and Diana Krall's contribution to Xmas music) to fill up the card and therefore be eligible to get a 3000 yen discount on anything else there. And then I went up to the 7th-floor English book section to pick up a Premiere magazine and the 4th volume of "The Complete Peanuts". Yep, I've been collecting those for the past couple of years. I read that by the time the final volume comes out, I'll be well into middle middle age.

Had a bit of a panic for about 10 minutes when I lost one of my bags containing the CDs and the doll, soon after purchasing the books. So I did a beeline all around the 7th floor, checked my bag numerous times and even went back down to the 5th floor where I'd purchased the jazz CDs. I must've seemed like a rat going through the maze to the cashiers on the 7th floor. Finally, I went to the cashier and swallowed my pride and told them I'd lost my bag. Within a minute, two of them gladly found the bag behind the counter and gave it back to me. Crisis averted and only a little pride lost.

Earlier in the day, I'd bought a Go West (the band, not the Pet Shop Boys song) disc at Recofan, the discount disc shop during my lunch break. All in all, I blew away about 10,000 yen...hmph, par for the course for Xmas. Also, around the same time as I was tucking into my Spicy Chicken Burger set at Wendy's, I saw a motley pair walking along the street. They both looked to be homeless...the one in front was dragging a luggage carrier loaded down with stuff; he was the far chattier of the pair. His companion was this little glum mute guy just carrying a couple of department store paper bags. I only mention this Penn & Teller pair since I had seen them earlier as I was walking up the street into the ritzy neighbourhood where The Lady lives. They were trundling up in front of me at a pretty leisurely pace so I had to overtake them. They made for an incongruous site in this toniest of neighbourhoods.

Apparently, it did snow in Tokyo last night. After catching the boring "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Movie Buddy and the gang yesterday, The Sylph, during our walk to Samrat, suddenly chirped up that she felt a few flakes of snow. The rest of us didn't feel a thing so we thought The Sylph had already gotten a head start on the alcohol. Well, I just saw the NHK weather report and the forecaster did say that the Big Sushi got hit with the white stuff for the first time yesterday. Still I have to counter NHK since the snow was pretty much neglible. To my standards, I actually have to see the stuff to consider it a first snow. I am grateful that it was so invisible, though. Knowing how JR and the subways seem to panic any time the white stuff hits the tracks, I could've been in a spot of trouble getting home.

Speaking of the foibles of the transit system in this great burg, apparently there was an incident last week on my own Tozai Line. Some subway driver was nattering away loudly enough to himself so that he unknowingly managed to spook out the passengers in the first car. They naturally thought he lost it, and when the guy is a driver of a fast-moving subway, they simply aren't going to shrug and say "Sho ga nai". Some of the passengers got off at the next station and complained to the station staff. The driver, as it turns out, really was just talking to himself as one of his sheepish habits. Considering how noisy a train can be during travel, he must've been screaming in the front cab. Go fig. In any case, he's probably cleaning toilets in some of the grungier stations right now.

Got word from Speedy. The Madame has officially made her reservation for his party on the 23rd. He also told me that he and his wife had found "Memoirs of a Geisha" somewhat lacking in the depth department. It's what I've been hearing from the critics all along. One critic here even said that he felt like he was at a stage production of ESL students. Ugh! For a teacher like me, I want to see a movie to forget about work. Now I'm gonna spending two hours watching a very lavishly set level check. I wonder if NOVA financed it.

I'm still faithfully watching "Space 1999". Today's episode was "Space Brain", the one in which Moonbase Alpha is in danger from...soap bubbles. Mind you, it did feature Holst's "Mars, Bringer of War" from his Planets suite. I told Movie Buddy over curry that I had been catching the 70s sci-fi show to which he laughingly said that it is one of those shows that never seems as credible or amazing as it did when one was a kid. I have to admit that I gave "Space Brain" a lot more credit than I do now. Some of those earlier episodes seemed to have Martin Landau still in his "Mission: Impossible" days as Rollin Hand with all of his bug-eyed flight-or-fight poses. Like I said, he's a guy who needs to be well directed to hit some of those high acting notes. Also, for some reason, the episodes never seem all that fleshed out in terms of characters despite being the same length as a "Star Trek" ep. Well, maybe the eventual Hollywood remake will do it right next time.

Time for dinner...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sunday December 11, 11:12 p.m.

Got to Shinjuku around 3, an hour before the meeting time so I looked through Isetan and Mitsukoshi for any deals on stuffed toys for my niece. I did eventually get up to the toy floor by the lineup for the cashier was far longer for any movie so I decided to put that off until a more reasonable day.

Movie Buddy and The Sylph showed up along with a couple of her friends. As it turned out, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", true to its title, was remarkably bland and uninvolving. Remarkable, since it stars two of the most beautiful movie stars on the planet, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, has a number of action pieces, deals in a genre that I've always been fond of, and is directed by Doug Liman, director of "The Bourne Identity". And yet, the movie was as flat as a pancake in terms of getting any sort of reaction from me or Movie Buddy. The romantic comedy angle didn't have any charisma to it despite the real-life shenanigans of the gestalt Brangelina, the action pieces were curiously boring (I think one stunt came straight out of "Matrix Reloaded"), and Vince Vaughn was most unfunny. The two of us came out of there shaking our heads, while the girls seemed to have enjoyed it much more.

One lady had to leave us but the remaining four decided to go to one of our usual post-movie haunts, Samrat. Instead of the usual Thali platter, all of us went for the buffet option. For just 2500 yen, we had our choice of 8 curries along with salad, naan and garlic tandoori chicken. I definitely used the full option of which the Chicken Butter Curry was my clear favourite. We were all plenty stuffed by the end. During our dinner, the Sylph's friend kindly invited all of us to her place for her own hot pot party early in January. Also since I mentioned The Maple Leaf, that Canadian pub in Shibuya, Movie Buddy wants to go. Well, let's see what I can pull off. Perhaps I can get The Madame involved as well. As we came out, we were witness to the tense aftermath of a little fight amongst a couple of friends held back by a crowd of other friends. The interesting thing was that the folks were all middle-aged. In Shinjuku, it's usually the young'uns who get a little boisterous after imbibing.

When I got home, I got word from Speedy that 004 has cancelled her lesson for tomorrow which means that I'm finished for the day after SIL. This could be a good opportunity to get some of that Xmas shopping done. However, I did send a Hail Mary sort of letter over to The Madame to see if she would be up for something tomorrow night. I don't expect a positive response since folks here don't tend to be too spontaneous. Most likely, I'll just head on home for an early night.