Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sunday February 19, 6:59 a.m.

Yep, one of the few times I've had to wake up this early on a Sunday. Hopefully, this won't become a ritual but I also have to meet The Ballerina's friends next Sunday at a time when I would usually still be in my PJs.

It says something when I go to sleep the previous night when the Olympic coverage is just beginning on NHK and then I wake up an hour ago to see that same coverage end. If there were ever a reason to despise time zones...

Speaking of Olympic coverage, I saw many celebrations occurring at Austria House. I gather that there was another generous smattering of medals won there. I wonder what it must be like at Japan House. "Wanna play a rousing game of I-Go?" "Next train to the airport?" Nasty, I am. I've been talking to the students about their feelings on the Turin Games. Most of them have little interest since the athletes haven't been delivering. Still, we're only at the halfway point and there is the prestige event of figure skating. Perhaps that Michelle Kwan is now out, there is a greater chance for the team of Ando, Suguri and Arakawa to salvage some pride.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday February 17, 11:21 p.m.

Did my gym duty and then had a meal at McD's. In tribute to the Olympics, I had their Italian Chicken Burger set. Basically, it was just the regular Filet O' Chicken slathered with a slice of (fake) mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce. I wasn't exactly lovin' it but it was acceptable enough.

Then, it was off to Starbucks to see The OL. For some reason, the desserts were almost cleaned out but I was able to get a slice of pound cake with my Caffe Latte. It was just as well since it wasn't nearly as potentially damaging to my insulin production as some of those other treats such as the famous Sacher Torte. I got a belated Valentine's Day contribution from The OL in the form of some homemade cookies. Homemade....hmmmm.....well, she's been a good student but I don't think she'd be my type. I've already declared myself a virtual confirmed bachelor anyways.

Got home to see the quarterfinals onwards of the Women's Snowboard Cross. Yes, I'm gonna declare this the event of the Olympics. Just so unpredictable. Yuka Fujimori, the lone Japanese entry, was very lucky to get to the semifinals since she was a virtual turtle compared to her three heatmates. Only a smashup by the 2nd and 3rd place snowboarders in front of her gave her the entry into the semis on silver platter. She wouldn't be so lucky there since everybody managed to get through without any crashes. And the consolation rounds just had all these massive pile-ups of women (get your mind of the gutter). Then, the final itself was this amazing dash where the last two crashed out with one just totaling herself into a snowbank, and then the leading American inexplicably tumbles within metres from the finish line so that the Swiss entrant just glides on through. I don't know of any of the other events which could boast that much drama. I'm sorry it's now over. The coverage tonight was courtesy of Fuji-TV with the celebrity du nuit being Masatoshi Hamada, the loudmouth half of the comedy duo Downtown.

Tried some of that Godiva cocoa that The Matron had kindly given me a few weeks ago. I had to get through some of that Swiss Miss hot chocolate before I could go the premium stuff. The Godiva variety needs a whole cup of milk. Yup, it's pretty rich drinking but very savory.

I decided to send a response back to the Madame about Thursday. I agreed to meet her for a late lunch in Shinjuku after I see The Denmother's son for his first "lesson" (still not sure if this is gonna actually work out). Since it was to her cellphone, I got a quick counterresponse stating the confirmation. Then Skippy sent one in telling me she's raring to go for Sunday. And then the Ballerina's friend confirmed us meeting for the 26th in Shinagawa. JJ also called me up to request me for some grammar sheets for tomorrow's lesson. Still gotta figure out what to do for her.

I was thinking that my relationship with the massage clinic would have to take a hiatus for some months until my financial situation improves but it looks like I may end up going there in the morning since my shoulders and neck feel like a couple of tons of granite. The masseur will probably hate me for it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Friday February 17, 12:58 p.m.

One month to St. Patrick's Day! I bet all you Irishmen are just chompin' at the bit for a bit of the Green! Whatever that means...

Saw the Larry King interview with George Clooney an hour ago. Yup, he's a personable fellow with his set of opinions, allies and enemies. He also briefly mentioned that at the ripe old age of 44, he's not at all interested in having kids and that one shouldn't go into child rearing casually. I'm all for that opinion. Not too much younger than Clooney myself. There has to be a drive...a calling to bring up the kids. The majority of folks have that feeling. I don't. Where many people can envision bringing up baby, taking the kids to their first swim class, watching them tear open their presents early on Xmas morn, and then proudly seeing them in their graduation robes, I see cleaning up their messes, participating in inevitable screaming matches during their adolescence, and eternally worrying about the environment they grow up in whilst they resent me for it. Unhhh....I'll pass, thank you very much.

Then to go into the other side of the pop culture spectrum, I saw the Friday edition of "Waratte Ii Tomo" in which Amazonian tarento Eriko Sato guest starred. She's exactly my height at 173 cm (about 5'7" for you Americans). Nope, not exactly a giantess in Western terms at all; in fact, the two of us together (hah, I wish) would end up looking like midgets during a tour through Europe. However, in a country where any natives over 6'0" are still considered relatively rare, she stuck out like a flagpole over the other tiny celebs. Imagine being 5'7" and yet being a towering presence on TV.

Anyways, I'll be heading out in less than an hour for gym duty.
Friday February 17, 10:02 a.m.

Chilly and gloomy out there. I've got a fully-loaded-for-bear washing machine doing its thing right now. It should reach critical mass during the spin cycle. Photographs are welcome.

Daisuke Takahashi, a male figure skater, is the latest Japanese athlete to smile sadly and say that he tried his best. On the good side, there is a Women's Snowboard Cross! More speed! More action!

Is it just me or do I actually have a point when I say that Wolf Blitzer just has the most awkward hosting style? He may be a fine reporter but it might be time to exit The Situation Room, although I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready for a whole hour of Jack Cafferty. On TVNewser, one CNN producer, anonymously of course, was wondering about the benefits of giving Jack his own show and ditching Wolf. And it won't be that much of a shock. The head honchos have managed to throw out Aaron Brown and Judy Woodward. I'm still feeling a bit sad that Brown got the hook so unceremoniously.

On the same cable news network, I found out that Al Qaeda once actually had employment policies and qualifications. No regular corporate entity, this. Apparently, operatives could get vacation time but must give 2.5 months advance notice...ouch, that's harsh. In any case, I'm sure that even jihadists would actually like to savor the wonders of the Western cities they visit, ...before they bomb them out of existence, that is. "Hey, honey...that's the XYZ building. Great commissary...exquisite fries. I was gonna blow that up. Really glad that the boss changed his mind!" I also wonder if the organization even had a Jihadist of the Month thing going. The beautiful thing about that policy is that an employee would most likely only ever get it once. But what a family compensation package!?In any case, the late-night comedians will probably have far better lines than I could concoct here.

Taro Aso, the current Foreign Minister of Japan, was on a BBC interview show where he very forthrightly gave his support to the annual visits to Yasukuni Shrine by the Prime Minister. I'm sure the Chinese and the Koreans will l-u-u-u-v-e him so much. BBC, at least, has pegged him as a future PM candidate. Oh, about adding gasoline to the fire. I'm sure a lot of English-speaking Asians would love to call him a rather nasty version of his last name. In this country, the only guy we know who could possibly take over as the new leader is this cigarstore Indian who walks like a man called Abe. He has an interesting job. He is the Chief Cabinet Secretary of the ruling LDP...a combination of the US Chief of Staff and the Press Secretary.

And finally, I just have to mention about this whippet named Vivi which apparently bolted from his master hours after a dog show in New York. If I had to do the things that dogs have to put up with at these pageants for pooches, I wouldn't be too thrilled with my owner either. Vivi is apparently worth a lot of American bucks...hmmm, like what a Star Wars character might say, I have a bad feeling about this. Good golly...if some sort of smuggling ring got a hold of him, it may be time for the owner to find a new pet.
Friday February 17, 12:28 a.m.

I've finally come across a thrilling event in the Winter Olympics: Snowboard Cross. And it is indeed a cross among snowboarding, motocross and roller derby. And the format is pretty darn interesting in itself. The first two rounds have each snowboarder go down the Mother of All Snowboard Obstacle Courses individually in time trials to see who gets into the first 32. Then, the fun begins when those 32 go against one another in heats of 4. A lot of action was had watching these guys trying to speed down the slope and yet try not to bash and crash...not entirely successful. Unfortunately, the lone Japanese athlete and the two Canucks didn't make it into the finals. I think the Japanese announcers on all of the networks have perhaps cottoned onto the fact that 2006 won't be a great Olympics year and have just settled for congratulating everyone for a good non-medal winning performance. I was a bit surprised to see that aidoru Aya Ueto was hosting NTV's coverage tonight. At this rate, I'll half-expect to catch one of the Morning Musume hosting the hockey championships.

The Winter Olympics may be the dowdier younger sister of the Summer Games but what it might lack in overall prestige, it makes up for in pure unadulterated speed. Yes, I realize that the Summer Games have the track n' field races but the people running in those events are still far slower than the frictionless surfaces of polymer and plastics in the winter events of luge, skiing and now snowboarding.

Since I don't have The Teacher today, I basically have most of the day off except for my evening class with The OL. I will try my best to get to the gym but it's starting to look like I will think about ditching this so-called activity. I'm not all that motivated to go and frankly I could use every little yen I can summon up.
Thursday February 16, 5:14 p.m.

Pretty miserable out there after a balmy Wednesday. It's back to chilly air and spitting rain. Met up with The Denmother at Urayasu Station. We went to the cafe across from the station called Chat Noir...nice place for future lessons since it's quiet. As expected, The Denmother was a one-woman chatting pair, just talking away about the foibles of her son. She has officially asked me to teach him from next Thursday. I'll be glad for the money but I'm not sure if I can really be any help to him. She gave me a long litany of woes concerning the hip-hop boy...the attention span of a flea, easy to get discouraged or disinterested in anything and has problems with writing and reading...even in his own native tongue. He's just not a studious type. Oh, that's just great...and I'm not a huge fan of teaching kids, either. Not sure what I'm gonna do here. The only thing I've got for me is that he seems to like me but then again so did The New Kid initially but we all know where that relationship ended up. However, I'm a bit more humbled now about how I approach new students so I'm gonna meet him next Thursday and just talk with him about what he would like to do (and what he needs to do), set some goals and then see if I can make any headway with him where the others have failed. I don't have much optimism but at least I'll earn some yen. In any case, The Denmother and I have set up the next outing with her and her'll be next Saturday at The Maple Leaf in Shibuya. Not sure how crowded things will be over there with the Olympics.

Then it was The New Yorker at the Tea Room. Things were busy there as usual with the remnants of the lunch crowd dispersing but by the time she arrived, it started quietening down until it was virtually empty by the time we left. Still struggling but we made a bit of headway. She's certainly a glutton for punishment since she set up her next appointment for next Friday.

Got home and opened up that package from my rental management agency. Sure enough, it's lease renewal time and the barons want me to hock up 1.5 times my rent as the renewal fee. I am definitely gonna be counting to 100 very slowly and very deliberately. My one regret about not knowing my neighbours is that I don't know how much they pay for their units. If I could get to know one, perhaps I would be able to find one tenant who's paying somewhat less than me. Well, in any case, I have to send the document over to my uncle to get his hanko. Luckily, there seems to be more time allowed to get that done. However, I have to get the renewal fee paid up by early March.

Got word from Movie Buddy that he and Samwise will be there on Sunday. Plus, Speedy let me know that SB is raring to go as well. And strangely enough, The Madame has once again come back in from the cold to see if I'm up for any coffee or something. Hmm...I wonder if she got bored with her latest conquest or omiai partner. Yes, I am being quite sarcastic. I'll let her swing a bit before I answer her. I won't let her know about the tonkatsu outing (not that she would probably be able to come anyways).

Speaking of sarcastic, Lou Dobbs was in especially feisty temper this morning with those reports of Internet companies kowtowing to the Communist Party line in Red China (he makes sure that the term "red" is always used with the republic) and all the kerfuffle about "Friendly Fire" Cheney. It's no wonder that one CNN correspondent cracked that Dobbs may be the most feared anchor on the network. And they say that CNN is a liberal network?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Thursday February 16, 8:47 a.m.

I don't feel particularly tired (aside from the usual tight neck and shoulders) but I was, and still am to a certain extent, mentally spent. I didn't realize it until I was back home late last night (actually early this morning) but just like the layers of that mille feuille tonkatsu we'll all be having this Sunday, I just had thin layers of stuff put on me to become this rather large slab bearing on my fragile little mind. At Speedy's, yesterday over the course of the 7 hours that I spent there, I had to juggle the curriculum for 006, the two projects that I'll have to spearhead there along with my regular class with 001. Along with that, I've had subsequent messages from The Ballerina's friend and The Denmother about possible lessons. Also, I haven't even touched a lesson plan for The New Yorker today and she's not exactly a high student.And finally, I got this package from my apartment rental agency which I suspect is the big notice about renewing my lease this year. I haven't opened it yet and I'll probably not do so until I've been sedated by dinner tonight.

Speaking of that mille feuille tonkatsu, I finally got that response from Skippy about where and when to meet. I'll have to send out the info to the guys.

The Teacher and I had that rare Wednesday lesson. In a piece of bad luck and timing, I ordered the same set that we've been having virtually every time we've met over the last couple of years for the both of us since I got there first. Wouldn't you know it? It was the first time that she'd overeaten at breakfast at home so I had to eat both shares and she paid for them. Felt a little badly about that, but the important thing is that she didn't mind. And in fact, she even floated the idea of the two of us going into a little side business much like what the juku boss has been doing.

I was supposed to head to the gym today but The Denmother was asking about meeting to talk about some prospective lessons so I've thrown the gym out of the way and I'll be meeting her at Urayasu Station at 11 just before I head on out to see The New Yorker.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Wednesday February 15, 9:06 a.m.

Well, the jokes were flying like quails on the late-night talk shows in the States about the Cheney shooting incident near Corpus Christi, Texas. My crack on it is "Man, he is the most powerful Vice-President in US history!" Now, things have gone from inanely humourous to somewhat somber as it's been learned the Veep's victim is now in a bit of heart trouble due to one of the duck shot pellets. Not sure if Leno or Letterman will do anything tonight but Jon Stewart is fearless. I kinda wonder what would happen if the guy ends up like a quail.

Screamin' Saddam Hussein (sounds like a new cocktail) has said that he is now on a hunger strike. May we suggest the anorexia, sir? Hopefully, it'll mean he'll be quieter in the courtroom.

Looks like the Japanese Olympic team seems to be set on walking The Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The latest to go down that path is the captain of the delegation herself: Tomomi Okazaki, the veteran speed skater. In an emulation of the Men's results, she finished 4th just shy of getting the Bronze. If there is an upside to this state of affairs, it's that the various announcers are pretty subdued this time around. It may be part of the media culture here but it sure annoyed the heck out of me that they were caterwauling like overcaffeinated cheerleaders during the Gold Rush of the Athens Games when the Japanese athletes there could've just sneezed and they would've gotten a Gold. All they were missing were pom-poms. Still. Okazaki still has another event to try for the big prize. I wish her luck...quietly.

An observation: I was watching "Mezamashi Terebi" this morning and there were two features on the entertainment segment: Hikaru Utada and Masahiko "Matchy" Kondo. Hikaru Utada had a new release and video with her changing clothes like a cos-play fetishist on speed. Meanwhile, Matchy got quite a few minutes covered on his 25th-anniverary concert for his late-30s/early 40s lady crowd. Johnny's Jimusho's Sugar Mommy, 85-year-old actress Mitsuko Mori, was up in the stands there, too. My observation is that if these segments had been shown around the turn of the century, Utada would've had a full court press. Usually, Mr. Karube devotes a few comments or banter with the hosts about an entertainment piece of interest. Nada on Utada....oh, here's a new video, let's move on. I guess the former wunderkind may end up like singers such as Misia or Chihiro Onitsuka...a talented singer who managed to make a few years of difference only to virtually disappear afterwards. Mind you, I'd take those few years than an entire career of Ayumi Hamasaki or Kumi Koda. And a lot of times, these so-called dormant divas can pop up with a megahit once in a while.

I see that SuperChannel has started showing reruns of "Love, American Style". Good heavens, they look so sepia now. I was half-expecting that in homage to Valentine's Day that the satellite station would show one of those extra-special shows. For example, the one where a hippy Harrison Ford had his first few minutes of fame, or even the pilot episode of "Happy Days". Yep, that show got its break on "Love". In fact, it's interesting the chain of spinoffs that has happened with that series. It reads like a pop-culture version of the Bible family tree. "Love American Style" begat "Happy Days" which begat "Laverne and Shirley", "Mork and Mindy" and "Joanie Loves Chachi". And then, "Mork and Mindy" begat "Out of the Blue"....kinda, the short-lived sitcom merely got Robin Williams' cameo in its pilot.

Well, off to work.
Wednesday February 15, 12:15 a.m.

The Valentine's Day Insulin Massacre continued last night while I was at the juku. I got a surprise visit by Yuri of the Beauty Pair, my former students. She stopped off to give me some chocolate and some sort of gift of a Snoopy nature. Plus, her letter was perfume-scented. Hmm...but she's not my type. In any case, she was off to her new hobby of working out at the gym. Hopefully, she'll see progress there than she did in nearly 3 years with me. Then, both Mr. Mild and I got some giri choco from McGirl. So, with The Teacher, the two sisters, The Class Act and now the juku ladies, I've got some of my own shopping to do come March 14, White Day.

The Siberian was back for 90 minutes instead of the usual 60 since he missed out on last week due to his busy schedule. I've honestly given up on him in terms of a properly structured lesson. The boss said that he would like to know what to say in certain situations. When I asked him about it, he had that deer-in-highlights look in his face again and didn't produce any sort of pen and paper. It turned out to be another gabfest. So I figure that I've given it the ol' college try; if he prefers to keep it that way then that's fine with me. I was a bit heartened by the fact that the boss herself whipped up her arms in resignation about one of her boys who steadfastly cannot grasp the basics of English grammar. She's been at this teaching game for as long as I have and to see her not being able to reach this kid lets me know that no matter how hard one tries, there will be always the oddity that will never get it.

It was actually quite a bit warmer outside tonight so the commute home wasn't as bracing as it usually had been. I ain't complaining about that at all.

It's cross-country women on NHK while on TBS, they're having the prelims for Women's Speed Skating. When I got home, NHK was actually showing Women's Curling.....just one of the sports out there like golf that could be more interesting playing than watching on TV. The only reason that they were showing curling was, of course, the fact that there was a Japanese team involved. Got a bit of a laugh when the host of the broadcast was reading one of the e-mail messages from fans stating that he/she hadn't known anything at all about the fine sport of curling before tonight but that now she's gotten quite absorbed....or would that be mesmerized? I'd say send the convert to Canada.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tuesday February 14, 2:07 p.m.

Methinks the White House Press Corps is making a mountain of a molehill with this story on VP Cheney accidentally shooting a buddy. You couldn't make this stuff up on "The West Wing". I think the reporters are just ticked off that they were caught flatfooted when the owner of the hunting area where the VP was doing his thing just told the tall tale to a local newspaper. In any case, it was just a matter of beating up on the White House Press Secretary. Now, you wouldn't see C.J. take that sort of stuff.

Chip Guy contacted me about he and the family making one of their visits to their old homestead late next week. Just earlier in the day, I got the big invitation from PH in the form of a card that looked like it was made by a graphic designing maniac. Still unsure about whether I'll go or not. It's gonna be another one of those pay-through-a-number-of-orifices type dinners. At least, I can come up with the simple excuse that I don't have that much money to throw around anymore.

Hmmm...I'm also not sure about Ms. Perth at the Beehive today. I'm getting the feeling that her days with us will be numbered. Her ability is somewhat better than the others, especially when it comes to her fluency. Today, she stayed until about 11:20, some 20 minutes before the end of class and then begged off to say that she had to leave. Normally, I wouldn't have wondered anything about it since the others have done so from time to time due to other pressing duties. But for some reason, a red alert sounded off in my head. She's the only one, too, who has e-mail contact with me so I'm hoping if she does decide to fly the coop that she'll do the honourable thing and let me know. I couldn't blame her if she does decide to leave the group; she would probably do better with a higher-level kaffeeklatsch. Got another box of chocolate from a few of the ladies there today.

Man, here we were talking about how snowy it's been in Tokyo...two snowfalls a year is cause for alarm in this city. Then, we've got this Blizzard of 2006 which has been whomping the Northeast part of the US and Canada and I feel much luckier.

CNN International has been showing off its facelift for the past few days. On TVNewser, it's been getting some rave reviews over the new graphics: no more red ticker tape flowing across the bottom...just this flip card effect with full sentences. I'm not all that impressed especially with putting "Breaking News" in yellow. Yellow?!

Speaking of CNN, I've not been a huge fan of Anderson Cooper since he saw the light of Katrina and became crusasder of the masses. Not that what he's doing is bad in any way although TVNewser has also soured on him for other reasons, but it's just that he's become less fun...which is what separated him from some of the other anchors. He's done very few of those Letterman-esque wisecracks and I haven't seen him pull out that recruitment video from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force that he used to love with fetishitstic delight. Mind you, he did pull out a couple of "eww" features today, one being about this woman who has this morbid need to get plastic surgery all the time. Believe it or not, my gorge was heaving quiet a bit at this mannequin. At least, Cooper cracked wise about the woman's claim that she is comfy with her identity. And then there was the feature by Smilin' Sanjay Gupta on a rare group of Sufis who like to impale themselves with spears to get closer to God. I'm kinda wondering if 360 is trying to attract the grindhouse fans. And speaking of the doctor with the 20 MW smile, were he and political contributor Carlos Watson separated at birth or what? Or it is interesting that we never see the two together on the same screen....hmmmmm.....

Well, gotta do my planning for my lesson with The Milds and McGirl tonight. I'll be talking with The Siberian to come up with some curriculum for him. Plus, I should be thinking about what to do with the new 006 since she'll be premiering next Wednesday.
Tuesday February 14, 12:27 a.m.

I got some more giri choco from the students yesterday. The Class Act got me some of the good stuff of course. I figured that SIL wouldn't get me anything...not that I resent her or anything; I know it's just the way she is, but I did put my voluminous coat over my small bounty to avoid any awkward moments. The Chef made me my lunch today. It was one of the earliest examples of Japanese fusion cuisine, a good century before any of this Frapanese stuff came out. It was Hayashi Rice...Japanese-flavoured beef stew over white rice. The Chef still has a special place in my heart...and stomach.

At Speedy's, The Part-Timer did show up for her second lesson after cancelling last week due to a cold. Good job as always. I also found out how much of a tonkatsu fan SB is. She almost leapt out of her chair when I asked if she were still interested in joining us for that trek to Kimu Katsu, the home of the mille feuille tonkatsu steak. I found out from Speedy that SB's nickname got it, Katsu. Hard to believe considering how petite she looks.

Speedy's wife had just come back from a tour of Taiwan this afternoon. So, the two of us got into a chat about dim sum. Well, he mentioned The Hong Kong Garden, a long-famous restaurant somewhere in tony Azabu-Juban. I have heard of this place over the years but never managed to get there. I'd heard differing opinions on it. The Lady and Betty Boop have said that the place was vastly overrated. However, Speedy stands by it. And I would like to give it a try. So, perhaps sometime in April, we may take a gang over.

Well, my working schedule may be getting a boost. The Teacher has scheduled her next two lessons for Wednesday mornings and I got some e-mail from The Ballerina's old working buddy who now works back in Tokyo. She and his beau would like English lessons. Hmmm....another romantic couple. I haven't had much luck with them. My first failure was with one such pair although they never admitted it as such. And then the recent bailout with MK and The Manager has made me rather wary about teaching couples. Well, I gave her a proposal so we'll see if she takes the bait.

I even got mail from The Denmother. She and her Scouts would like to try out The Maple Leaf sometime although I think it'll probably be sometime after the Olympics since I can't imagine getting a big table during the big hockey matches.

As for the Olympics themselves, Japan's woes continue. Yesterday it was the Men's Snowboard team to wipe out. Today it was the Women's team to end up with nothing. A couple of the women literally did wipe out on the young girl having to be taken off by stretcher since it looked like she smacked her back on the top edge. The Men's Speed Skating is going on right now although it doesn't look like the Japanese members will be medaling in this one either.

But misery loves company. After the Japanese Women's Moguls team did bupkiss on the hilly slopes back on Sunday, the US team was even more disappointed it also got the same results; just wasn't their Olympics.

I had completely forgotten that Vancouver would be the next site for the 2010 Winter Games. Well, I doubt it but perhaps I might be able to try for those Olympics since I was completely immobilized during Nagano 1998 due to a cracked ankle (mind you, my convalescence allowed me to see the Japanese Ski Jump team win Gold live). Then again, I've got relatives there whom I'm estranged from. Perhaps I can get some revenge on them though since they came all the way over here last September without so much as a courtesy call to me. It'll be even more rotten to see those Games on TV here than these current Games. Vancouver is 17 hours behind us. Virtually all of the good stuff will be shown in the wee morning hours.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Monday February 13, 8:02 a.m.

Well, this will be one for the U.S. historical archives. VICE PRESIDENT SHOOTS A MAN! And he wasn't even a Democrat or Michael Moore. Just a little hunting accident, that's all. Somehow, Dick Cheney mistook his 78-year-old buddy for a bunch of birds. Not quite sure if this will hide the Halliburton controversy, though. My only thought was "How would President Bartlet handle this?" But then he's been cancelled, hasn't he?

Speaking about drama, man, the Japanese Olympic team hasn't had a great start in Turin. The Men's Snowboard team doesn't qualify for the finals, the highlight being overcaffeinated Domu Narita pounding the snow and crying in frustration with the TV camera oh-so-tastefully giving a ground-up view at his teary visage against the Italian sky and sun. Struck me as a drama queen moment...sorry, but despite all that hip-hop bravado, he just strikes me as being a bit on the effeminate side.

Then, there is the slight screwup that ski jumper Masahiko Harada pulled off with one of his skis being too long for regulation. He therefore got disqualified...not that he was in any danger of medaling but still this is probably his last hurrah since he is 37 and in his 5th Olympics. I thought he would have been a bit more careful. Still, he's got one more event to do so there is a chance of redemption. It's still just the 4th day but I'm already getting thoughts about the fact that the 2002 Japanese team did relatively bupkiss. And the wonders of 1998 Nagano are fading into long memory. Just lucky that the 2004 Summer Games were a bountiful harvest, though. Then, you couldn't throw a gold medal without it hitting a Japanese athlete. I wonder if judo can be shifted to the Winter Games. The judoka have to wear white, after all.

I always gripe about Olympic coverage as probably do many others back Stateside and in Canada. I think griping should be made into an Olympic audience participation sport. Over here in Japan, it's different. All the major networks have a hand in broadcasting the Games instead of the American tradition of having the 3 or 4 big networks fight over sole TV rights like a pack of dingoes. NHK is of course the lead broadcaster because it's the government mouthpiece. But the commercial networks also get a chance at showing some coverage. The only problem is that all of the networks use the same feed so it's always the same two guys providing commentary. And even worse is that perhaps after the initial live broadcast on one of the channels, the others tend to rerun the same thing. I know...the repeats are probably for those who couldn't catch it the first time but why have Fuji-TV and NHK broadcast the Ski Jump and Snowboard Halfpipe respectively and then switch the coverage immediately afterwards? I mean, haven't the guys there figured out the concept of remocon surfing?

The East Coast is getting doused with a huge snowstorm....which probably means that Toronto is getting its share as well. I guess Mother Nature is compensating for the snowless January. Here, it's just been cold.
Sunday February 12, 10:19 p.m.

Got to Speedy's this afternoon to find out that he'd only read my message to him just before I got into the door. And apparently, they had only bought enough ingredients for me to have just one serving. Ah, least, I did get some work done on the computer for the project and the food was good. And I only had to shuck a fraction of what guests usually have to pay at the cooking class. The afternoon session had two young ladies, one who had done a working-holiday stint in Australia and could therefore speak quite well while the other was purely tour-group material. Still, with good food in front of us and Diana Krall playing in the background, it was a pleasant dinner.

After the women left and we men did the final cleanup, Speedy, Mr. Influence and I had a brief discussion about respective projects. Somehow, the topic got into concerts. When I mentioned that I'd been to a Misato Watanabe concert over 10 years ago, Mr. Influence told me that he'd been a big fan of hers from way back. He also said that it'd been a long time since he heard any J-Pop. I wasn't surprised. I'm not such a huge purveyor of the genre anymore when compared to my ravenous time in the 80s and 90s. To analogize, it's kinda like little kids devouring junk food and still wanting more but then when those kids mature into adults, their tastes are more demanding and refined.

Getting back home, I decided to do a bad thing and buy a convenience store bento after 9 p.m. since I didn't have all that much at Speedy's. I figure I'll be up for a few more hours yet so digestion should be pretty much completed by bedtime.

I've got the tube on The Olympics again. Tonight, it's the Snowboard Halfpipe (I have this near overwhelming urge to call it Stovepipe for some reason). The Japanese entry is this 20-year-old by the name of Domu Narita, a diminuitive fellow who seems to down several cups of Blue Mountain by the way he just bounces around and makes like the baddest hip-hopper. He should get a medal just for ambience.

Some heartbreak on the ice. I just read that Michelle Kwan has pulled out of the Games due to a groin injury. I don't follow figure skating at all but even Kwan's name has its existence in my head and I was surprised that she hadn't won a Gold...and the way it's reading, she never will since the media is painting this would have been her final try for the big medal. She's won other championships but there's something about The Olympics which makes it the gold standard.

On totally unrelated news, how about that Ariel Sharon? He's still in a coma, probably never to come out of it, he's just had some of his gangrenous intestines taken out and yet the Grim Reaper can't quite sickle him to the other side. The Palestinians must be looking up into the sky and asking Allah, "Why...oh, why?"