Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sunday January 22, 2:43 p.m.

It's a typical day-after-the-big-snow type of scene outside. Still a lot of snow out there on the ground but aside from a few flashes of brilliant sunshine, it's been overcast. Still decided to do the laundry and put the clothes out on the line. Had the usual Sunday breakfast of bacon and pancakes.

Looks like MB and The Satyr are good to go on the 19th for Skippy's planned venture at Kimi Katsu. MB also asked about putting those free tickets from The Madame to good use. Well, there's only one full week left in this month so I may have to use one of those coupons since I won't have time on the last two weekdays of January. I don't know if there's anything really good out there right now. MB wants to go see "The Legend of Zorro" despite the bad reviews. It would be free for us but a bad movie is a bad movie in my estimation. It would still cost me 2 hours and the commuting fare.

Gotta do some cleaning and ironing tonight and then get prepped for the lessons tomorrow. I wonder if The Matron will show up. Plus, I have that friend of SR's coming to the school.
Saturday January 21, 10:49 p.m.

The Great Snow of 2006 is over. Just like clockwork, the skies closed up shop tonight after a whole day of steady snowing. People here ought to savor what happened today. It'll probably be the only day this year and perhaps for the rest of this decade that we'll see this much of the white stuff in these parts. On the walk home, I did see a few kids in the park making a snowman. Perhaps with typically Japanese efficiency, everything will have melted away by Monday to make things easy for the commuters.

I met Skippy and OA at Higashi-Nakano Station about 10 minutes earlier than the appointed time to meet which was a bit of a surprise. And since the restaurant, Enkobo, was just a minute away, we were the first ones there. It was much smaller than I'd expected. Basically, we had one side of the place with two long tables. There was a counter in front of the open kitchen and maybe one or two other tables by the picture window. Most of the folks got there pretty quickly. Not surprisingly, Speedy and his wife were the next to show up along with the staff.

The food there was quite good and reasonably priced. The appetizer was a bit of a surprise. It was soft cheese with sticks of bread and the sauce was maple syrup! It actually tasted good but it seemed more appropriate as a dessert. The chefs at Enkobo are quite imaginative. We also had some salad in avocado dressing, cool cabbage rolls with pieces of smoked salmon stuffed inside and some mini-oden amongst other items. There was also a 2-hour all-you-can-drink option built in which, of course, all of us tried to take advantage of. But for some reason, I only drank half of each of my beer, sangria and cassis orange. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for drinking.

Skippy started the planning of getting people together for this place called Kimi Katsu, which is this very popular tonkatsu restaurant in Ebisu. Apparently, its claim to fame is this tonkatsu which consists of multiple layers of pork in deep-fried form...essentially a tonkatsu mille-feuille. Well, I've already sent the word to Movie Buddy and The Satyr.

By the time we all got out of Enkobo, the snow had stopped and so it was just a matter of negotiating the slippery spots before we got back to the station. OA had a small fall but then again she was wearing boots with some fairly high heels. Otherwise, most of us got back with little problem. Skippy and OA made their ways back home while the others went off to the nijikai in Shinjuku at a darts bar. I just took the long trip back home. Just not into darts and I kinda felt more like getting home early tonight.

Tomorrow will just be a clean-up day and then I gotta think about what to do for dinner at home.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Saturday January 21, 1:29 p.m.

Well, the snow is still falling steadily if not heavily. Tokyo may get as much as 6 cm for the first time in 5 years. The streets in my neighbourhood weren't all that treacherous as I made my way to the hairdressers for my first cut in 3 months. I was looking pretty shaggy there. When I got there, the place was empty as I had expected. I wasn't sure if anyone would be getting anything done to their coif today but the guys told me that noone had cancelled out thus far, and in fact, one lady did come in part way through my session.

I can finally say that I've gone native here. As I was transferring from the seat where I'd gotten my cut to the chair where I would get my shampoo and rinse, I did that prototypically Japanese gesture of bowing and going. It seems like a reflex now anytime I am offered to take a seat at any place of work or service: I stand up, the person gently gestures me to a chair and I start making like The Penguin. Makes me feel rather old.

The happy talk was all about the current issues such as the halt to the importation of US beef and the weather outside. We also spoke of what we all do for dinner during our busy schedules. Apparently the two stylists just head on out to any bento place or izakaya during their break times or after work.

All that talk about food got me hungry so I stopped off at the station tonkatsu restaurant and tucked into the C set: fried chicken, chicken katsu and some sort of deep-fried stuffed green peppers along with the de rigueur pork soup, rice, pickles and grind-bowl of sesame seeds. It was a nice, filling meal to have inside while the snow was falling outside.

I haven't heard anything from Speedy about any potential cancellation so the party's still on for tonight. I don't think I'll be heading for the nijikai (second party), though. It's supposed to be at a darts bar in Shinjuku. I'm not really into that pastime and even though the snow is supposed to be ending by tonight, I'd rather be on my way back home at a fairly decent hour.

At this point, I'll probably get "November" done for my taxes and then do some taping for the OL before getting ready to head on out again. I'm just thankful that I didn't have any classes to slog to today.
Saturday January 21, 8:29 a.m.

Well, one month too late but it is a Winter Wonderland out there. Woke up to see my balcony and just about everywhere covered in snow, and it will continue to do so all day. There's already quite a bit on the ground now. Just a bit worried about what this will mean for mass transit although I haven't heard anything yet from Speedy but it's still early. In the meantime, I'll be leaving 5 minutes early for that haircut. I do have that sudden urge to put on Xmas music once more.
Friday January 20, 10:06 p.m.

Man, what is it about this month? The Aneha scandal is still slogging on, then there is the Livedoor kerfuffle, and now we've got the government re-banning US beef after finally giving it the go-ahead last December. Apparently, Japanese inspectors found a bunch of spinal tissue, possible sources of BSE, in 55 kg of the stuff at Narita today. Those gyudon gourmands must be thinking about jumping off of their stools. To be honest, I haven't really eaten all that much beef in the past couple of years, sticking more to chicken and pork. And since I'm not at all a fan of the beef bowls (stringy fatty beef over rice?....uh, no thanks), I'm not suffering too much. Still, I'm sure that Koizumi and the boys are probably proclaiming under their breath, "Hey, Uncle Sam, whaddaya tryin' to pull here?!"

The weatherguys are still saying snow for the 21st. And according to the NHK weather maps, the white stuff could blanket the entire Kanto this time tomorrow. Great....I wonder how this is gonna affect heading over to Speedy's party since it's all the way in Higashi-Nakano, and the only line close by is a JR...and from hard experience, I know that JR is pretty skittish when it comes to snow landing on any of its tracks. Skippy, who'll be coming with OA, also sent word about her concerns. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. But I should know before I head out the door since the blizzard ought to be starting in mid-afternoon.

Speaking about other people heading out tomorrow, this weekend is the official start of those university entrance exams. The snow should prove to be another obstacle to reaching that desired posting in higher learning. I expect that a lot of Kit Kat bars and tonkatsu will be selling like hotcakes tonight since their names have a similar ring to the Japanese word for victory.

And going back to Livedoor, I guess that saying is true: "When it rains, it pours." I'm just watching the NHK report right now about the fallout from that investigation into false information reporting by the company. The Livedoor Shock has caused all sorts of aftershocks. Its stock has gone into "monitored" status which is just one level above delisting, all of the companies that had dealings and potential alliances have suddenly pulled back like a hand from a live wire, and the grand poobah himself, Takafumi Horie, has isolated himself into his office. Right now, the report is talking about the dark side of Horie, about how he rides the unprofitable departments hard to perform or face the axe. But I thought that was true of just about any other company in Japan and the US. And the so-called experts are now jumping on the "What's wrong with Horie?" bandwagon, although I think those bashers were always there...just in the woodwork until the right time. And I guess it's the right time now. A lot of the man-on-the-street interviews had the older folks being asked for their opinions. All of them were just tsk-tsking at how Horie bit off more than he could chew. I rather wonder why NHK hadn't bothered to televise any opinions from the young folks. In any case, I'm even more interested at how Fuji-TV, whose brass had that huge tug-o'-war with Livedoor last year over a broadcasting station, has been covering the Livedoor Shock in its news broadcasts. A bit of a negative spin on the big guy, perhaps? I can just imagine the top folks at Fuji just uncorking the bubbly right now.

And back to my own little world, The OL was in her usual fine form at Starbucks today. Since I have that card, I decided to splurge a bit and get a mini-version of a chocolate bombe with my Caffe Latte. It had some other French name but I didn't bother to remember it. It looked like a giant hockey puck and went down similarly. I'm pretty wide awake now, though.

In any case, I'm keeping my fingers crossed on what happens meterologically tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Friday January 20, 8:57 a.m.

I guess over here it would be called bitterly cold. It's gonna stay at 4 degrees all day today, and the weather guys still predict snow for tomorrow. They even have that smiley snowman icon for Tokyo for the 21st. Well, I'll believe it when I see it.

Taco rice last night hit the bill. I still have half of it sitting in the fridge all ready for ingestion tonight. At least, I may save some on the food budget but I do have my rent to pay today.

Looks like the Livedoor scandal has taken a darker turn. A former VP has been found dead after he had killed himself in an Okinawan hotel room. Apparently he'd come under investigation in the probe.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Thursday January 19, 12:33 p.m.

As expected, I got up late after hitting bed at the ripe old hour of 3 a.m. this morning. Some of you must be wondering what kind of life I must be living to be able to hit the sack at that time during the middle of the week. Well, it's called freelance English teaching. A bit of a bronco ride in slo-mo but I'm used to it.

Speaking of which, I got a reply from Betty Boop about what has happened between me and MK, the lady who BB had introduced to me almost a year ago. I can honestly say that I didn't expect this type of answer. Apparently, without going too deeply into the soap-opera details, MK has become a pariah of sorts due to her upcoming marriage to The Manager. It would seem the amiable Manager was doing a bit of two-timing although that has been resolved recently with a divorce. My feeling is that the former Mrs. Manager was fairly well known in the office. In any case, BB is no longer an MK supporter and has rued the day that she introduced me to her. It was then my time to reassure her that there has been no damage done and that MK and The Manager have been diligent students for me all these months. But now I do have to realize that because of what I've found out and despite MK's personal reassurances to me, I will probably have to write off the couple and hope for some new clients in the future. It was heartening to hear BB tell me that JJ's mother has been quite happy with me teaching her daughter. Hopefully, BB can still come up with the referrals.

In any case, now that the MK incident has been resolved more or less, I now have a blank Thursday at least a couple of times a month...which includes today. I'll probably hit the gym since I chickened out yesterday and then even go a bit ambitious and cook up some taco rice for dinner since I have some of that salsa left.

Speaking of incidents, the Takafumi Horie scandal is still rippling through corporate Japan. After the TSE's meltdown yesterday due to panic selling, the exchange has announced it will suspend operations 30 minutes early everyday until further notice. How that could possibly help things is beyond my limited knowledge of commerce. My main worry is that if Horie is taken down, this could bring back some of that stodginess into doing business in Japan.

Got a bit of a surprise in the weather report today. It could actually snow in The Big Sushi from either tomorrow or Saturday. Why couldn't it have been today?

Now that 2005 is in the history books completely and the movie awards season is upon us, I think I can announce what I think were the best and worst movies (from what I've seen) over the past 12 months. For me, the only movie that really stood out for me was "Cinderella Man" as a top-notch film. I mean, the story was simple and solid...just like the main character, and like him, it worked. Russell Crowe is striking me (not literally) as just a fine actor...anyone who can make us forget his little phone-throwing tantrum with performances as a gosh-darn nice boxer or the finest sea captain in "Master and Commander" can surely his get his Oscar again. Pretty much every other movie I've seen...and can remember...had some major fatal flaw. "King Kong" could have been up there but it was bloated, "Batman Begins" just seemed a bit out of synch for some reason but I'll get the DVD soon enough, and "Memoirs of a Geisha" was too remote.

As for a dog of a movie, I'm sure Movie Buddy and Samwise would have chosen "Revenge of the Sith" hands-down, but I guess I'm more immune to horrific dialogue than they are. As for my pick of worst movie, be honest, I couldn't think of anything on the level of a "Batman & Robin" or "Star Trek V" but I'd have to say that "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" was a big disappointment. Considering the leads and the director and the genre, this bullet was a blank. I would've chosen "Ocean's Twelve" since it premiered here early in 2005 but I'd seen it with the guys back in Canada during the Holidays in 2004 so I didn't include it. And yet, in the sense that hope still springs eternal in Hollywood, Clooney and his Rat Pack are thinking about "Ocean's Thirteen".

As for movies I'm looking forward to watching, just in the next few weeks, we've got "Munich" coming out and then later on in the year, there are the 2 superhero flicks, "X-Men 3" and "Superman Returns".
Thursday January 19, 12:21 a.m.

Currently munching on a combination of Chiba peanuts and rice crackers from the conbini....a poor man's trail mix, so to speak. Therefore, I'll probably will not hit bed until the grand ol' hour of 3 at the earliest since my stomach will take its vengeance on me any earlier than that. But I did have a craving to satisfy.

The New Yorker was alright at The Tea Room yesterday. Luckily as well, it was atypically quiet for an afternoon there. Then I headed over to Speedy's. He and I had a business dinner (actually, we were just talking over his McMeal and my convenience store-bought salad and minestrone) about the potential video course in the Spring. I also concocted up a first draft of an evaluation sheet. I'm no graphic designer so I gave him a very rough copy for which I hope Speedy will be able to polish off via some artistically talented teacher or staff member.

001 was her usual happy self. I was lucky that we were doing a lesson on "used to" which meant that we could reminisce about our favourite musicians and of the things that I teach with one hand behind my back. Afterwards, I spent over an hour just surfing around the Net since I really didn't want to get caught in the evening rush hour. I ended up looking at the Internet Movie Database at the entries for all of the previous Superman movies with the late Christopher Reeve. It was interesting seeing all the accolades for the very first and the only truly epic movie of the franchise and then just see the bottom drop out of it when it came to the succeeding three movies. Strangely enough, the very first flick I saw with The Man of Steel was "Superman II". Staying true to my late bloomer roots, I only started my solo theatre-going career fairly late in life so I never got to see the first one at the cinema...a big regret. Still, "Superman II" was great fun to watch (in fact, between 1981 and 1983, I saw it five times) with the even longer opening credits matched with the scenes from the first movie and of course, the big battle between Supes and the Evil Kryptonian Three. I clearly remember all of the cheers from the audience as Superman was doing some major smackdown on General Zod.

Of course, in retrospect, those special effects from 1981 look far from special now. I think the only thing I will notice from the big battle will be the wires and matte lines. In a way then, I'm glad that I did see the 2nd one first before finally catching the first one on TV. It was even better although there was no smackdown (unless you consider Superman flipping Lex Luthor as such). I can certainly understand why those IMdB contributors went sour on "Superman II". Compared to the first one, it just seems so much like a TV special starring Chris Reeve and Margot Kidder. I was also heartened by the fact that a lot of the contributors cited the combo of John Williams' wonderful score and the opening credits as one of the best matches in movie history. I often get a huge lump in my throat whenever I remember seeing that and I frankly thought I was in a league of one when it came to thinking of the importance of those two aspects in a movie. I can only hope that a similar sort of magic can be achieved with the upcoming "Superman Returns".

Speaking of Superman, that Takafumi Horie sure is something, isn't he? Because of his alleged little stock stunt, the Tokyo Stock Exchange actually crashed to a halt in trading yesterday. C'mon,'ll just encourage the guy by doing stuff like that.

Well, I've got the day off today since I've got no lessons...nada. But at least I looked a bit more carefully at MK's letter and actually did discover that she did reassure me that I'm still in her good graces. But the fact remains that I won't be able to see her and The Manager for a while. And I will probably have to get some new students. So it was a bit of insult to injury when I got another letter from my rental management company asking me about why I hadn't paid up the biannual house insurance yet since it expires in the first week of February. At first, I thought that those guys were trying to gouge me until I was able to dig up the unpaid premium much expense to the state of my living room. Sheesh...another mouth to feed in the form of 17000 yen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tuesday January 17, 11:36 p.m.

Another 3 hours at the juku tonight. It certainly got colder in a hurry although the walk back home wasn't too unpleasant. I may not have as much of a salary there as I used to when The New Kid was coming to class, I am grateful for the extra free hour. It feels a lot less stressful teaching two classes that I am totally comfortable with and one other lesson that's basically a gab session. Speaking of which, The Siberian had his first "lesson" with me this year. It was one of the more engaging ones that we've had since we were able to get a lock on a couple of topics. His status has also changed with me; not only is he my student but he has also become my colleague of sorts since he has now started tutoring at the juku on Mondays.

The juku kitten has grown some over the Holidays...and matured as well. He's no longer scarring me with his claws like Freddie Krueger but he's still keeping his bon vivant friskiness. Quite an ideal pet...I can play with him all I want without the responsibilities of cleaning and feeding him.

I decided to send a reply to MK about the fact that she and The Manager will not be available for lessons for the next little while. It's a bit risky but I decided to tell her that I was feeling a little uneasy about the reasons for their pullout, temporary or not. Are they truly cancelling their lessons only because of the wedding or have they just had enough of me? I never heard back from Betty Boop although it's just as well. In any case, I'm feeling particularly paranoid about this since I'm not exactly feeling all that financially easy right now.

Gotta head on out to the gym although it's one of those " I have to" kind of feelings right now. I'll never like exercise but at my age, it's not as if options will be able to stay open. Then I've got The New Yorker for her first lesson of the New Year. I'm hoping that she's remained satisfied with my classes over the past year. And I've got my regular session at Speedy's with 001.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tuesday January 17, 3:09 p.m.

The Beehive was in fine fettle today. Nothing to complain about there. Always grateful for their patronage.

Got home from the class and was walking through the station mall when I came across this rather old and perhaps demented man entering my favourite tonkatsu place and yelling loudly for his order. Then I came across some sort of marital spat taking place at the back entrance of a pet shop. Just another day...

Currently on NHK, the hearings in the Aneha architectural scandal have started up again after what seems to be a Winter hiatus. The president of the Hewser (sic) Corporation, one of the architectural firms implicated in the scandal, Mr. Kojima is testifying. He's been in the Japanese Parliament once before...back then, he was acting quite cocky in front of the politicians. Not least not since it was found out that Kojima had fabricated some information. He's looking a lot more contrite now. And he's got a mouthpiece sitting behind him. This time, if he dares to blow some bull past the MPs he's gonna get the cuffs. I'm sure a few of his interrogators have come or will come rather close to that situation as well.

Catherine Zeta-Jones breezed into town yesterday to promote "The Legend of Zorro". It must take an actress of her talent to still smilingly boost a film that has gotten lousy reviews back Stateside.
Tuesday January 17, 7:27 a.m.

Looks like plans are solidifying. SR's colleague has confirmed her first lesson with me for the 23rd at Speedy's. M+M will be meeting on the 4th. And Speedy's 1st-anniversary party for his school will be having the fine company of Skippy and OA along with me and the others on Saturday.

Every morning when that alarm clock goes off, I usually hit the lights and turn on the bedroom TV to Fuji-TV's "Mezamashi Terebi" (Wake-up TV). Just like all of the other network morning news shows, the sets are all very brightly coloured in an exaggerated attempt to capture that "Good Homes and Housekeeping" look. And even the persistent appearance of the time is up in the upper left hand corner in much larger fonts to make it much more readable even for the most bleary-eyed. For some reason, I've been pretty much attached to Mezamashi for most of my 11 years here. Initially, during my days at NOVA, I was more of a watcher of NTV's "Zoom-In Morning" but soon after leaving that company, I made the switch. Perhaps it's because of the announcers...the Fuji-TV announcers are largely known to be the most well-known in the business but I think it's just because I got hooked on the theme song for the show at the time, "La-La Sunshine" by former idol Chisato Moritaka. The theme songs for Mezamashi change yearly. This year, it's been Dreams Come True's "Sunshine", a dancehall-influenced pop song (yep, it's pretty watered down).
Monday January 16, 9:46 p.m.

There is an Internet mogul here by the name of Takafumi Horie who runs Livedoor, Inc. For the past year, he's been a bit of the media darling/business devil, depending on who you speak to in Japan. He looks like a retired sumo wrestler but seems to have the slight nerdiness of a Bill Gates and the devil-may-care attitude of a Donald Trump. Last year, he had a titanic battle with Fuji-TV over the ownership rights for a broadcasting company which captured the spotlight on the news for weeks and then he started his own baseball team in the Japanese leagues. The man has managed to keep himself in the media glare with his own form of panache. And to show that he can poke fun at himself, he even starred in a TV ad during the New Year by spinning around like an obese top while bleating his company name to shill a new subsidiary company.

Well, apparently, Horie-mon (his nickname) may have finally bitten off more than he could kamu today. The G-Men had been doing a bit of a covert investigation on him for the past few months on some alleged illegalities involving him concerning some investments. Naturally, there was a full court press on this, and the solemn phalanx of tax folks and other official types filed into Roppongi Hills where his company is located to pick up the evidence. Will the big guy be able to get out of this one? Not sure...but I know that he'll be capturing the spotlight again.

Got word from Skippy that OA may be interested in coming to Speedy's little shindig on Saturday. Hmmm...hope it isn't too late. I sent quick word to the guy himself just now. Also, I got a message from Paddy whom I couldn't meet over the Holidays since he and the fiancee are very busy with their own plans for matrimony. Looks like work has got him bogged down as well but perhaps he may dropping by the neighbourhood during the summer.
Monday January 16, 5:32 p.m.

Started out rather sunny but it's gotten a bit unstable as the hours wore on. My first lesson with The Class Act was only half-full. The Lady was present but The Matron wasn't. It would seem that over The Holidays, the latter's mother-in-law became gravely ill, news of which was relayed to the former. The Lady thought that her classmate had contacted me as she usually does in case of absence. Such was obviously not the case, so we concluded that matters have turned for the worse in The Matron's family although I hope there will be a turnaround. In any case, The Lady was quite good today with some work on embedded questions.

The Chef was once again back on duty cooking for guests tonight so no free lunch. I just went to my alternate of Wendys. I was served by a young'un (or youngling, in Jedi lingo) on her first shift. She had that faint look of Shibuya galdom according to those long Maybelline eyelashes so I guess she needed the money for her boutique-shopping hobby. In any case, I wished her the best of luck. Ahhh...the beginning of the adventure. Afterwards, I dropped off at the nearby Recofan used CD shop. I wasn't expecting to buy anything since my financial situation is rather tight. I did hear a couple of my favourite songs being played simultaneously over the speakers. From the Western side of the shop was New Order's "Round & Round" and from the J-Pop side was one of Mika Nakashima's hits.

SIL was back after her New Year's hiatus. We covered an article on the trials and tribulations of steering a wheelchair in Tokyo which had been written back in 2002. Things were apparently not too easy on the author, who had ended up in one due to a paragliding accident. The subtext was that all those handicap-friendly signs in department stores was just mere lip service. Both me and SIL could relate to his ordeal since we also had our "walking wounded" time some years ago. My accident 8 years back had me hobbling on crutches for several weeks during which I had to do some very tricky negotiating over the stairs at the various JR and Tokyo Metro stations. Luckily since those dark times, the transit services have gotten their acts together and provided lots of escalators and elevators.

Back home now but I won't be facing a quiet evening. Unfortunately, I've got stuff to do for Speedy in the way of curricula planning along with the usual lesson planning for tomorrow's lessons. Then there is my daily wrapup of last year's taxes (tonight, it'll be July 2005). On the up side though, M+M contacted me to see about our next session together.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Monday January 16, 12:11 a.m.

Back from Shinjuku and watching "King Kong". First off, the bunch of us went to have some okonomiyaki. We were definitely a group with an interest of movies according to our banter. The Satyr declined the movie, though, since he had already seen it back in Canada...and 3 hours was asking a bit much for him to catch something a second time.

We saw Peter Jackson's latest magnum opus at the Scala not too far away. We had the small theatre and the crowds were not that big. We got there with only 5 minutes before curtain call but we could get seats easily. "King Kong" has been open for almost a month so we weren't too surprised.

As for the movie itself, the question I wanted answered was "Is King Kong king?" Well, after sitting through 3 hours of film during which my butt felt as Kong did after being strafed by WWI vintage fighters, I would have to say that Kong was more of a prince regent. The length of the film was one of the things that prevented me from pronouncing it an excellent movie. I mean, a customer should be comfortable watching a movie, shouldn't he? It was a good movie, and in some parts, very good, but Jackson could easily have shaved the first hour that took place in New York. And I think the Jurassic Park atmosphere in the second hour could also have been toned down with a bit more (not much more) focused on the so-called love affair between Kong and Ann Darrow. I think it also suffered from having just too many characters. It was "The Love Boat" of ape pictures. The Satyr pointed out that the characters were just too flat and simple. I didn't pay too much attention to the depth of characterization myself since I knew that this would be a roller-coaster of a movie. But yes, having a ton of characters in a flick heavy with FX is never a good thing; the FX usually wallops lightly written roles like a giant ape does to terrified Manhattanites.

As it was, the special effects were mostly very good and often thrilling. Kong's battle against three T Rexes, Ann's hair-raising encounter with giant centipedes, and the final standoff on The Empire State Building had me squirming and lifting my jaw off my lap. And there were some nice homages to the original 1933 version which mostly consisted of lines from that movie including the final one. And the ape himself was ironically the most complex and sympathy-drawing character in the film. All in all, I enjoyed it but the next time I see it will be on the good ol' DVD player.

Headed straight home after the film since The Sylph was feeling pretty tired and it was past 9:30. Got word from MK that it looks like she and her fiance may not be available for a while due to wedding plans. However, I just couldn't take that at face value so I sent off a rather long missive to the one person who had introduced us, Betty Boop, and asked her for some advice if MK's e-mail was truly on the level or if it was indeed the prelude to the big kiss-off. Certain recent events have made me rather wary. This year certainly hasn't gotten off to a great start for me professionally.