Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sunday March 5, 1:43 p.m.

Thought I was going to have to head out to Maruzen today to pick up some books for The Denmother's son. However, I came across a perfectly good book on academic writing deep in my clothes drawer which seems suitable enough for our purposes. As for the reading bit, I found a site which could also fit the bill. But the big hit was this spelling check website which I checked out to my satisfaction and then sent the address over to the kid himself. If it saves me some yen and the time, I'm all for it.

The juku boss gave me a surprise call today about a potential new student who would like to be taught everyday. No can do, said I, since I've got my other classes but I did send her a list of available times and days. She'll be checking.

Well, I guess I'm back in work mode once more. Gonna have to come up with some curriculum for Student 006 unless she decides to pull a 004/005. Then, I'll be looking at the prelims for the rest of the week. Still haven't gotten word from Speedy whether I'll be doing the first night of the project tomorrow night. I know that I'll be busy with it this Saturday.

Of course, I also have to deal with my taxes. I should get that in by the end of this week. Ugh!

I finally got to see that acclaimed two-parter which started off the 2nd season of "The West Wing" yesterday on SuperChannel. Yes, I's five seasons later and the show is about to finish its run and John Spenser has passed away. The two-parter was the aftermath of the attempted assassination of President Jed Bartlet but in a twist of ironic fate, those Neo-Nazis were actually going after Charlie for dating Zoe. I'd been half-expecting that the show was just gonna deal with how the Feds try to find the thugs but all that was wrapped up in the pre-credits sequence of Part 2. Instead, the show mostly dealt with how Bartlet got to become the Chief and how the whole gang got to get together. It was a grand episode handled very well and I must admit that there was a lump in my throat in the last couple of minutes when Jed and Leo head off down the airport with his Secret Service entourage, still able to shake hands with the common folk at that point, while his nomination speech rang in the background and then we're brought back to the operating table where the injured Josh regains consciousness. I would love to see how the very final episode goes.

I got word from JJ. She's OK for Saturday morning. She's also sent me a song with lyrics for me to transcribe. My work's never done.
Sunday March 5, 11:10 a.m.

I saw the pollen alert last night on NHK. Most of the Kanto was covered in a sea of red...which would mean that my eyes would be, too, as well as my nasal passages. Well, I haven't checked the mirror yet but sure enough, my eyes have that sensation of stickiness and dried leaves and my nose has been on automatic sniffle. Time to take the medicine.

I have been watching the Sunday digest version of "Waratte Ii Tomo" now. One of the guests on "Telephone Shocking" was the popular young singer, Kaela Kimura. She's 21 now but she's definitely plugged into the teen or Shibuya zeitgeist. There's usually a ticker running by at the bottom of the screen for a few seconds giving small biographical details. I just caught the tail end that her mother is Japanese; which can only mean that her father is from somewhere else. Kimura does have that paler complexion...actress Rie Miyazawa, who's half-Dutch, has the same sort of face. I guess, though, that she didn't quite hit a homer on Tamori's interview segment since the editor just showed the first couple of minutes before it went onto the next day's guest. Usually a four-bagger would mean an entire interview plus the "during-the-commercial" segment and the tail end in which the guest invites the next day's subject. It's kinda like Johnny Carson giving the OK sign or the invitation to come onto the sofa to a stand-up comic after his/her routine.

I listened to the third of my 3 CD purchases last night. Yuko Ando's "Merry Andrew" is the 2nd full album. She's also a model and actress, apparently, although I've never seen any of her work for the latter. I can only gather that she may be following Miki Imai's route of starting off as a thespian but ending up a full-time singer. Ando's voice is reminiscent of that of cool pop singers, Chara and Yuki although Ando comes off as being slower-paced than Yuki. She shows off her vocal range with her high notes warbling in that off-kilter way that the folks over here seem to like. The songs themselves were all written by Ando herself and they kinda explore different genres but all in all it's a solid pop, non-aidoru, album. Nice assist by The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.
Saturday March 4, 8:40 p.m.

Nice to spend a quiet night at home for a change on a Saturday. Made some taco rice...made a few necessary alterations; used bean sprouts instead of lettuce. It was all good.

I watched a special 2-part "Biography" on George Lucas tonight. I saw the trials and tribulations of the man, the myth, the legend. Liam Neeson seemed quite cordial about the man despite some of the rumours about how he'd felt about "The Phantom Menace". I gather that there was a lot of editing involved in his contribution. I think a lot of people forget that before his name was synonymous with "Star Wars", he had been the force behind "American Graffiti". I ought to watch that movie again's been well over a couple of decades. I used to listen to the soundtrack at my brother's friend's apartment quite a lot. I'm not a huge fan of music from the 50s but for some reason when it comes to this movie, the music sounds just fine.

Also caught a bit of the shouting match between the McCartneys and the put-on-the-spot Premier of Newfoundland on "Larry King Live" over the annual seal hunt. Sir Paul's wife was definitely playing the bad cop. I'm trying to reconcile the image of this Liverpudlian protesting against the clubbing of these mammals with his image as the cute Beatle of over 40 years ago.

Now that Shizuka Arakawa has gotten her fame, her first public performance in Japan since getting the Gold attracted a standing-room-only crowd in the arena. And sure enough, she performed it at the Ariake Coliseum in Odaiba, Tokyo.

I'm gonna enjoy the remaining hours of my day since from tomorrow I've gotta get back onto the English prep work for Speedy's projects and the Denmother's kid. Looks like that trip over to Maruzen will be in order.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Saturday March 4, 12:42 p.m.

Feeling very much like MacBeth after his soliloquy on the murder of sleep during the past week, I was very grateful that I finally got my 8 hours of shuteye last night...or shall I say, this morning? Yep, I was up until 3:30 a.m. listening to my newly bought CDs and surfing the Net. The two activities were actually connected.

I first listened to the 2nd 2-CD pack of the best of Stevie Wonder that I've bought. Unlike my first purchase which had been produced in 2002, this new set was produced a decade ago. And yet, I enjoyed it better than the 2002 one. Obviously this new one does include two of my faves, "That Girl" and "Ribbon in the Sky" but overall the 1996 version has more listenable (to me, anyways) AOR stuff although of course I like "My Cherie Amour". I think, though, that "Do I Do" should have had a shorter single version. Like any 10-minute magnum opus by any singer, no matter how brilliant he/she is, those epic songs just end up being too repetitious. And I'm sorry, but just a few toots from Dizzy Gillespie doesn't a cameo make.

Then, I took a listen to a few tracks from the "Bewitched" soundtrack. The movie may have been mediocre at best but for some reason I the music (thank you, thank you...I play Vegas 'til Sunday). I gather that reason was that the CD contained samples of my favourite genres such as jazz (Steve Lawrence's take on the iconic TV, he actually IS a singer...who knew?), 80s (The Police and The Talking Heads are in there) and even a bit of avant-garde. The movie started off interestingly with this band called Persephone's Bees doing this song called "City of Love". I thought it was an intriguing mix of French pop vocals and California interesting way to start off an update of an old 60s sitcom. And it was for this first track that I was slowly hooked into buying this CD.

At first thought and for just a few minutes, I pondered the theory of whether Persephone's Bees was just a cover for Nicole Kidman stretching her singing chops and listening to her delusions of "Moulin Rouge" grandeur. Part of that was fueled by the Elizabeth Montgomery/Pandora Spocks story. But as it turns out, and this is where we make our transition to the Internet, the band's lead singer is a Russian woman. I visited their website where "City of Love" and "Nice Day" were playing repeatedly. The band plays this weird combo of new wave, French pop and 60s would've been perfect for local Japanese chanteuse Kahimi Karie. The group still seems to be just dancing around the edges out of fame since their first album has yet to come out despite the fact that they've been around for at least 3 years but "Bewitched" may have finally opened some eyes. That website got me to go to Youtube where I caught the two music videos for the songs. Angelina Moysov comes across as a bit of a honorary B-52s member and her voice reminds me of a one-hit wonder singer from the 80s who hailed from Ottawa. In any case, I'll be keeping an eye and ear out for that first album.

Finally, we have some grand weather out there. My laundry is waiting inside the washing machine to be thrown out on the line so I'll have to get started on that. I think tonight's dinner will be taco rice once more since I still have half of that El Paso taco mix in the cupboard. I'm gonna be keeping things strictly non-English-teaching today just to give my overworked brain a rest.
Friday March 3, 9:36 p.m.

Well, I did the dirty deed and paid off the renewal fee and sent off the contract for my uncle to sign. Goodbye money. So what did I do to drown my sorrows? I decided to get meself some CDs at HMV. I ended up getting another Stevie Wonder compilation of his best since the disc that I'd been looking for, "Musicquarium Vol. 1", was the only one of his collection that couldn't be found in the shelves. Then I picked up the soundtrack for "Bewitched" for its jazz content and finally, I got that Yuko Ando CD. So what's the story, morning glory? Funk, jazz and J-Pop. If I'm gonna poor, might as well listen to good music on the way down.

I think the sun was playing hard-to-get today. It was peeking out at points behind a wall of very fluffy and then very dark gray cumulus clouds. We even got some spritzing as well. The good ol' Toranomon Starbucks was especially crowded when I came in at about 5. The staff was trying to ply off their quiche on me. I went for it since it was somewhat cheaper than the tuna melt that I'd been planning to go for. It's amazing what can be gotten away with at the Japanese Starbucks...the staff regularly go around the tables and having customers try out samples of new coffees and food. I'm not sure if that sort of thing happens in the Canadian or American branches. One would think that there would be hazard pay involved over there. However, the crowds gradually dissipated as usual by the time The OL got there. Another good hour but she may not be coming next week due to a farewell party on her part. So I'll probably be just going for that Tasting Party the manager had invited me to. I would still go...always good for public relations...and it is free food and drink after all.

In a way, I think having that quiche was a mistake since the dish only managed to whet my appetite for more heartier fare. And with the cold and damp weather outside, I just had to answer my craving for ramen. I ended up going to the one just below the subway station. But I eschewed any of the typical garlic-infused bowls since I didn't really want to defumigate my apartment the next day. Instead, I just had a simple bowl of chuukamen (Chinese noodles). Nothing too garlic-laden about it but it hit the spot.

I had left my computer on to go through defrag. However, when I checked up on it, my computer's slow descent into madness was evident since the defrag program only managed to take care of a mere 2%. Maybe I ought to call my SOTEC Marlon from now on.

Looks like JJ is good to go for the morning of the 11th. That's very magnanimous of her.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Friday March 3, 12:09 p.m.

I've been doing this blog now for over 3 years. My blurb was that I wanted to give my little observations about living in The Big Sushi. Obviously, my observations and ramblings have gone beyond talking about the latest pop fads and kaiten sushi restaurants so for the first time in these 3 years, I've adjusted the blurb for accuracy's sake. I thought about changing the name, too, but since the title comes off as being somewhat ironic to me, I decided to keep it. I took a look at some of the other blogs and I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably a garden variety blogophile. I don't think I know anyone who's put out as many entries per day per week as I do. Serves me right for not having a wife or girlfriend.

I sent off a parcel to Mom with the latest video tape and one of the women's weeklies since it has a big picture of Shizuka Arakawa on the cover. I thought that she'd be interested in reading up on the Sendai native. I'll be sending off a good chunk of my income over to my rental agency as the renewal fee shortly...grumble. I called up the agency itself to let them know that my contract won't be able to get there on time for today's deadline. The guy there reassured me that kneecappers won't be coming to my door for another month or so. Sure....give me a heart attack. But then again, it's a technique to get the slowpokes off their butts and get started on the paperwork.

JJ finally got back to me about the next session. Sure enough, tomorrow won't be doable so I've sent her a proposition of either the morning of the 11th or the afternoon of the 18th. She'll most likely take the latter...I don't think she's a morning person.

The dreaded kafunsho, or hay fever, has struck me again. Luckily, I took some of that herbal medicine in pill form so I'm sitting pretty right now. The guys say that it'll only be 10% as bad as last year's sneezefest but I'm not all that convinced. I had a major sneezing fit just before I took off for the post office.

There was a feature on Paula Zahn about all the "Brokeback Mountain" jokes that have been popping up over the airwaves along with the parody trailers like "Brokeback to the Future" and "The Empire Brokeback". Apparently, some of the folks back in America are taking a bit of offense at some of the perceived homophobia. I think it's all much ado about nothing. It's a movie that has garnered a lot of great publicity and will probably earn its share of Oscars in a few days. The naysayers should thank their lucky stars that this movie has impressed itself upon the American consciousness as it has. I'm hard pressed myself to remember what won Best Oscar last year. was "Million Dollar Baby". I didn't hear many parodies about that one. It'll be Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" that'll be helming the ceremonies this year. Once again, the pundits are out there wondering how he'll do and if he'll necessitate the censors' buzzing. Again, much ado about nothing. Chris Rock came off OK to just about everyone except hypersensitive Sean Penn. David Letterman had been seen as the go-to guy after Carson but he was a bust. Stewart could go either way.

Gotta write that letter to Uncle...
Friday March 3, 9:40 a.m.

I think that affair with humiliated greenhorn DPJ MP, Hisayasu Nagata, is almost done. After that press conference a few days ago in which he apologized for not being able to prove anything of the authenticity of that notorious e-mail but not for the accusations he made (imagine the uproar stirred up by the other side), Nagata finally cried Ojisan and admitted that the e-mail was probably fake.

Yesterday, again in front of a supremely clattering bunch of cameras in the Parliament, Mr. Nagata was the very first MP to appear in the hallowed chamber as he walked stiffly to his new seating assignment. It wasn't at the back or the front...just somewhere in the middle where he just sat and meditated for a few minutes. Gradually, the other Members entered, a few of whom patted him on the back or presumably gave a few words of encouragement...I'm assuming none of them were LDP. And then, once he saw his accusee enter and take his seat, he bounded and strode over to Mr. Takebe to bow and apologize. Takebe in turn did the same although I'm not sure how willing to forgive he was. However, Nagata's ordeal isn't yet complete. The Disciplinary Committee has yet to come up with a proper punishment for him. One of the things that he may have to do is publicly apologize in front of the entire Diet. With all of the bowing he's done in the past few days, he should be considering getting some extra-strength liniment.

Mind you, I may be doing my own little bit of prostration today. I completely misunderstood and misread the conditions for my lease renewal. Although the renewal fee should be easy enough to handle at the post office, I have to get in my completed contract into the rental management agency by today. Well, that just ain't gonna be happening since I've yet to send the contract to my uncle for his guarantorship. Time to polish off my keigo and phone the agency up.

In any case, I've gotta be sending another package off to the post office anyways and then prep up for The OL tonight. My weekend will be strangely empty...completely devoid of any activity unless JJ finally gets to me about a lesson or Chip Guy gets back to me about dinner on Sunday. That wouldn't bother me too much...with all of the thinking for yesterday's new students, I wouldn't mind a weekend of down time. Still, I gotta head out to Maruzen to pick up some ideas for that kid's studies over the next month.
Friday March 3, 9:15 a.m.

It's Hina Matsuri today or "Girls' Day". Basically, it's the reason for folks in their homes to set up multi-tiered stages of ancient Japanese dolls as a sign of good luck for their daughters' marriage prospects. The mother of those two kids that I teach on the weekends told me that she's put up three of the stages at points around her house. I guess she's covering all the bases.

I checked out Movie Buddy's blog just now to find out that he's put up his first new entry in half a month. Not exactly a fanatic like me when it comes to blogs. According to the latest item, he went to a drinking party with his fellow teachers at the junior high school he's been working at for the past number of years to celebrate the end of another school year (memories of my time on JET are returning to haunt me). Apparently, he encountered some of those wriggly fish in alcohol that one drinks down live as a North America, that would be called a dare. Either way you look at it, he pulled it off although he did wonder about the state of his stomach.

I had my own near-misses with live food in pristine Japanese circumstances during my earlier incarnation as a lousy teacher in the junior highs. One time, some office ladies from the City Hall and I went on a small day trip to the wilds of the Izu peninsula where we dined at some nice little restaurant. There, one of the dishes was a live kuruma shrimp on each platter. We were to quickly snap its neck (thereby providing a humane way for it to jump its mortal coil...uh-huh) and then dip the twitching body into a piquant sauce before ingestion. Well, imagine me (who wouldn't even kill that most feared of scourges in this country, the cockroach, out of pity than of fear) and a bunch of giggly office ladies not much older than the kids that I'd taught. Before the execution, all of us had to pour a little glass of sake on each of our crustaceans (the condemned's last drink?). Well, that got the party started! All of the shrimp started doing a little jig and broke the rules by just hopping off the platters. After 30 seconds of all this unexpected entertainment, I decided the hell with this, and opened the window overlooking the ocean and threw my contribution out. I didn't know how much that individual shrimp cost but I'm sure it didn't come cheap. In any case, that shrimp's descendants now owe me big time!

My second near miss had come even earlier with a teachers' trip to approximately the same area about a year earlier. We had accomodations at this ryokan near the ocean. All of us got together in the main dining room. All of our dishes were great, and then these dainty yukata-garbed servers entered with some wriggly mollusks. Abalones, they were...prized shellfish. Each of those abalone was put on a tiny grill over a can of sterno and the ladies set them alight. Part of the glamour was seeing the abalone cooking in its own juices as it writhed to its agonizing death. One of the teachers had humorously cracked that I looked almost as green as the thing I was about to eat. Well, it isn't everyday that I hear my meal scream. In any case, once the ordeal was over, those dainty little ladies took out their cleavers and proceeded to hack the hell out of the now-dead abalones into rough slices. I gathered that their culinary muse wasn't Nobu or Rokusaburo Michibata but Jason & Freddy.
Thursday March 2, 10:42 p.m.

Before I forget once more, I'd like to say that the neighbourhood kaiten sushi restaurant closed down last week. It was no had been very bad for some time before the end. In the last few months, my usual sightings of the place consisted of a chef behind the conveyor belt but few or no customers. I won't be one to mourn the loss too much since I was never a huge patron of the place. It was just a tad too rich for my wallet to go there that often. And frankly, I think the cost/benefit of it being placed in a suburban neighbourhood should've been considered before the place had even gone up. I think kaiten sushi places should just be solidly set up in urban centres like Shinjuku where there will always be a large crowd for fast cheap sushi.

My first official lesson with B2 and B2B was a rather contrarian affair. I had been worried that B2B would just be spending his time twiddling his fingers while I was spending most of the hour with his girl. However, I think it was B2 who seemed a little less than satisfied with the inaugural class; but then again, I'm not sure if it were just a case that she was getting a bit down on herself for not being able to answer all that quickly. On the other hand, B2B was quite happy listening to most of what was going on although I did try to include him in some of the Q&A. His listening is quite good, actually. There was quite a bit of the playful teasing back and forth common to all couples although I wondered at times whether B2 was getting just a little exasperated. That and her lower self-confidence reminded me a lot of the Ballerina and some of the histrionics she pulled once in a while. Once again, my venue was a smaller Starbucks which was even more deeply buried in the urban jungle than the Toranomon branch. As for Mitsukoshimae itself, the area was a much darker and quieter equivalent of Nihombashi, with the Mitsukoshi department store and one other huge monolithic skyscraper being the only places of note outside the station. I'm gonna have to further think about what to do with B2 if I'm gonna be able to hold onto her.

Earlier, I dropped off at Maruzen to pick up a new crossword book but also to look at some of the material proposed for The Denmother's kid. Some possibilites on the shelf but I didn't make any purchases this time around. I'll probably go on one of the weekend days.

Well, tomorrow will be a very quiet day outside of my regular with The OL. Gonna have to fill up that daytime slot on Fridays now that The Teacher has moved herself to Wednesdays. It would be nice if I could get another group of friendly middle-aged ladies like The Beehive or The Class Act.

But I do have to pay off the lease renewal fee by tomorrow, don't I? Man, I'm gonna hate paying that hefty fee.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thursday March 2, 3:40 p.m.

One down, one to go. Met The Denmother's kid at Urayasu Station. I got there at the exact same time as last week. He wasn't there so I automatically started thinking, "Aw...not again." But 5 minutes later, he showed up and we went over to the cafe. I had only expected just an hour with him but our first session went to 90 minutes. He's a good kid despite the screwup last week and all the stuff that The Denmother had unloaded upon me about him. It looks like unlike my other students who want conversation, he wants work on writing and reading. I asked him to write a small essay so that I can check out what's wrong and right with him. I did tell him that even if I see him on both Wednesday and Thursday for the next month, my stuff will only be a start not an end. Keeping my fingers crossed on him...

Actually, did some gym today. Not too bad now but I'm sure my muscles are gonna be aching by tomorrow morning.

When I got home, I was surprised to see "On the Waterfront", Marlon Brando's masterpiece, playing on TV Tokyo. Then I remembered that the station often goes into classic mode in the afternoons leading up to the Oscars. I was only able to catch the movie from the famous taxi scene but after having done so, I would be interested in catching it in its entirety someday. Kinda weird then that Eva Marie Saint and the late Brando will be together once again in "Superman Returns" later this year.
Thursday March 2, 8:44 a.m.

B2 finally got back to me late last night about the time and meeting place for the first official lesson. It'll be at Mitsukoshimae Station, the stop between the CBD of Nihombashi and the shitamachi of Kanda. I've never stopped off there before. It ought to be interesting to see what kind of area this is considering how disparate the two bracketing areas are. I'll be throwing her and B2B a few photocopies of various texts to see which one would be a good fit for them.

I could be losing quite a few calories just meeting them and The Denmother's kid today. Although all of them are very nice people, they don't strike me, initially anyways, as the most ideal teaching targets. I'm still not confident about the idea of teaching a romantic couple, especially when the two lovebirds are so different in ability. And there is the seeming fecklessness of the kid. I wouldn't be too surprised if he pulled off another no-show. The man's got issues.

I was watching "Mezamashi Terebi" again this morning. The bespectacled entertainment reporter, Mr. Karube, decided to focus his special today on the fact that glasses have once again become in vogue. A lot of the young and hip are sporting them including the plethora of comedians also in vogue. In fact, they had one busking singer do a little concert outside a building with and without glasses. Not surprisingly, at least for the broadcast, the camera showed more spectators milling around the young lady when she sported the coke bottles. Part of me thinks that the Fuji-TV crew may have helped load the bases, so to speak, by a few well-placed signs or some earnest entreaties to passersby.

Also, I see it was time for the annual Golden Arrow awards...just another excuse for the talent agencies and agents to show off their wonderful clients. The variety award went to Lazer Ramon HG, the faux-gay Village People loving tarento, the trendy drama award went to the go-to girl of 2005 Misaki Ito and the Nankai Candies got the comedy award. I'm sure there will be a lot of heated discussion on Channel 2 about this affair.

I was switching between CNN and Fuji-TV's morning wide show at one point. Lou Dobbs has basically made his entire show into the Anti Dubai World Ports program. Meanwhile, Fuji-TV was reporting that someone had been caught in Iraq for slicing off the head of that idiotic kid, Mr. Koda (I'm sorry, but it's something if some poor fellow got caught in the crossfire but he, for some unfathomable reason, went deep into Iraq despite all of the media reports and official warnings...the only sympathy goes to his family) a couple of years ago. As for the crusading Dobbs, you may disagree with his soapbox oratory but to his credit, he is more than willing to show the naysayers as much as the yeasayers on his e-mail segment. There are definitely folks who are just as willing to punch Lou in the nose as to hug him. I had been wondering what was up with the left side of his face tonight. He did address it at the end as a sunning error. Whatever that means...

Then, I came across this New York Observer article via TVNewser (I'm not sure of what political bent this paper is) just now. It was on Nancy Grace, that former prosecutor-turned-CNN attack dog who has now become in a very short time the saving grace (sorry...) for CNN's Headline News. The reporter deconstructs the myth behind Grace's raison d'etre as a buzzsaw lawyer and commentator. All the way back in 1980, her fiance was murdered in a senseless robbery. The ensuing trial so disillusioned the young Grace, or so it goes, that she found a rallying voice within her and pursued her law degree since she felt that the justice system was a farce. People can be forgiven if they saw this as a prelude to a superhero's career. Well, as it turns out, the reporter has put it out that much of Grace's sob story is a tall tale. The kernel of truth is indeed the murder of her fiance and the subsequent incarceration of the killer, but everything else surrounding was pure fact, the story purports that in the true case, justice was indeed served.

I've never been a fan of Grace's. In fact, I did mention in this blog several months ago that she was ironically the antithesis of her name. I don't particularly mind in-your-face people since they're the ones who actually do get things done but I just find her brand of bracing commentary just a tad self-serving. And the brother of the fiance has gone on the record and said that she had struck him as "a dingbat" when they first met over 20 years ago; not sure what he thinks now.

Anyways, over to a guy who has plenty of grace and genius. I was listening to my so-called "Definitive Collection of Stevie Wonder" last night. It's not definitive enough for me, though. Such are the tons of hits that the 2-disc set couldn't have room for "Ribbon in the Wind" and "That Girl". I'll have to remedy that...maybe I'll pick up the "Musiquarium" disc. Also I heard that Wonder picked up a couple of more Grammys for his probably now-creaking-under-the-strain mantelpiece. Knowing the man, he could probably record the creaks and still make a Top 10 hit out of it.
Wednesday March 1, 6:32 p.m.

Just about ready to make dinner. It'll be that Chicken and Broccoli Fusilli recipe that I came across some weeks ago. Good for a miserable day like today. But first, it looks like I'm gonna have to get rid of some junk from the computer again; my kanji is not showing up. Darn annoying.

Well, as expected, the news has been reporting that a lot of the country has been emulating Shizuka Arakawa's Inabauer technique by bending over backwards. Not surprisingly, the incidence of backache complaints has increased in the last few days. Right now, the TBS crew is oohing and aahing over the girl's medal itself since Arakawa is now on live in an interview.

The Satyr got me on chat just now. He's good to go for the 12th for Narnia. Movie Buddy is still iffy since he and The Sylph are still on that skiing kick. Despite this last blast of winter hitting us today, the weather folks predict that a lot of places are gonna be getting Cherry Blossom Season a few days earlier this month.

I was watching a few of the Chinese and Korean channels on SkyPerfect a few hours ago. Interesting the distinct differences in the languages. However, the Korean channel was showing some sort of variety program with a lot of kids in tastefully distressed school uniforms and punkish hair. One tanned girl with a nose stud even did her imitation...a good one, in fact...of Christina Aguilera. Just goes to show that some things are common.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wednesday March 1, 1:59 p.m.

I'm telling myself that in a few months we'll all be begging for this rain and cold as another miserable day descends upon the Kanto. Wouldn't be surprised if a few flakes were to come.

Though not as free-wheeling as SIL, The Teacher was quite happy-go-lucky today. She was given her rejection notice from the job that she'd been applying for. It was the usual example of bland evil disguised as polite business correspondence. I, in turn, helped her write just as banal a counter-response.

I've been savoring this rare day off but I will probably be vacuuming this place as well as rearranging some things. It's kinda nice to do something that isn't connected with English teaching. And then I plan to take a nap. I haven't taken one of those in a while.
Wednesday March 1, 8:06 a.m.

What is this? Celebrity Death Month? First, it's Don Knotts. Then, it's Darren McGavin. Now, I hear that Dennis Weaver has headed for that big studio in the sky. I didn't think any of these guys would have registered over here but Fuji-TV's "Mezamashi Terebi" actually gave a 1-minute obit on Weaver. Apparently, his most famous character of Sam McCloud had also been shown in Japan along with his NBC Sunday-Night-Mystery-Movie mate Columbo. However, the scenes that were shown were from Steven Spielberg's very first motion picture feature, "Duel" which had Weaver as the terrified driver.

It's a bit eerie that these celebs whose first name starts with "D" have just died within days of each other. At first thought, I would've sent a warning to the Davids (Hasselhoff and Cassidy) and to the Doris' (Day and Roberts) but Weaver, Knotts and McGavin all passed on in their 80s so perhaps the big dark guy whose name also starts with "D" won't be going after them just quite yet.

Speaking of detectives, during my lesson with SIL back on Monday, we once again touched on the topic of ham actors. Of course, William Shatner's name popped out from my mouth (as much as I enjoyed him as Captain Kirk). SIL was somewhat surprised at my example since she'd only known the Canadian as the pop culture icon. Then, I reminded her of "T.J. Hooker", and she went "Aaaahhhh...". She also threw out her contribution on behalf of Japanese viewers, Masakazu Tamura aka Japanese Columbo-like tec "Ninzaburo Furuhata". I was also a bit surprised in turn since I also knew him pretty much only from his most iconic character. Mind you, Tamura gives a rather stylized performance as the eccentric sleuth. According to SIL, he has about as much range as a rush hour train has empty seats.

Looks like that battle in Congress over the Dubai World Ports deal is not dead after all. The Democrats are putting up another resistance, and Lou Dobbs is there.

I saw a rather bizarre feature on yesterday's "Mezamashi Terebi" which could only be re-enacted on an episode of either "Family Guy" or "The Simpsons". I couldn't quite get the entire gist of what was happening there since it was the morning after all (never my best time of the day), but I saw a young female duo actually go to a prison to give a concert of their poppy songs a la Puffy Amiyumi. Hmmm...maybe they were inspired by "I Walk The Line" (which has snuck in here into one small theatre...not a lot of Johnny Cash fans in Tokyo, I guess). Now, comparing a Japanese prison to a SuperMax facility in the States is kinda like comparing apples to asteroids but it was still weird to see these two women performing little ditties in front of a possibly hardened group. At one point, one of the girls asked everyone if they were doing OK and then mildly admonished them for the sparse response: "I'm not hearing you!" was the phrase used, I think. Sounds like something Ned Flanders would say. Now, just imagine these two kids pulling that stunt at even an Alcatraz of the 30s and 40s. There would probably be an incident much on the level of what goes on in the smuttiest joke in history, "The Aristocrats".

It must be a "Mezamashi Terebi" theme for this entry. You know Spring is coming around the corner when the morning show changes its theme song. For one year, it was that rather enh Dreams Come True song "Sunshine", it's some sort of rap ballad. I don't think the show has had a good record when it comes to getting theme songs. A number of these usually dependable J-Pop artists like Yuming and TUBE have contributed rather mediocre songs to "Mezamashi". I can only speculate that they save their "A-sides" (forgive the old reference to 45 rpms) for actual single releases and give the "B-side" dregs to the show. I think the last decent song to grace one of Fuji-TV's flagpoles was over a decade ago with Chisato Moritaka's "La-la Sunshine" ancestral relationship to the DCT's entry.

Anyways, I've gotta get started on my even sparser lifestyle now...
Wednesday March 1, 12:21 a.m.

Ugh! Just did my books. Man, I got beat bad for January. Luckily, I didn't lose nearly as much for February. Still, it's not been a good start to the year financially. I came this close to letting Skippy know that I wouldn't be available for movies for the next little while, but I thought if I had to skip friends, I might as well just pack the whole thing in. Still, I'm gonna have to tighten the belt even further.

Well, at least I know that the juku boss will once again become my student from next week. The classes with The Milds, McGirl and The Siberian all went OK. I was able to use a page out of my handy-dandy grammar book to good effect with the last guy.

However, my two classes at Speedy's have been canned due to work today. Goodbye, 10,000 yen. And the worst thing is that 001 will be gone for two weeks. Just grateful that at least I'll get something from The Teacher now that she's switched over permanently to Wednesday mornings.

Newswise, it's been a toss between the triumphant homecoming of Shizuka Arakawa (and the somewhat sheepish return of the rest of the Olympic team) and the lengthy apology of the greenhorn pol Nagata for that botched up e-mail thing in Parliament.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tuesday February 28, 1:42 p.m.

We may be on the cusp of March but there is a definite December pall outside. There's an overcast gray, cold temps and people bundled up out there. Just waiting for the jingle bells now. It certainly won't be snow since the local weather office has bungled those forecasts enough times.

The Beehive and I talked over the Arakawa win and the Nagata humiliation. Ms. Tulip gave all of us some tequila-filled chocolates via her hubby who had been in Mexico on business. Hmm. Not as eyewatering as I had been dreading. Ms. Tea, who's got a love for alcohol, gulped it down like....well, chocolate. Next week will be the big housewarming party at Tea's new house. I'll be bringing my bottle of wine that I've been holding onto for several weeks. I would never dare to actually cook anything in front of these professional housewives. The big party will be a reunion of sorts with my teaching partner and two former members showing up.

"CSI: Miami" was playing on TV Tokyo a half-hour ago. It's been good that the CSI franchise has found a home during the lunch hour. I only caught the last 15 minutes of Horatio Crane and his crew...would've enjoyed seeing the entire episode. I much rather prefer watching a plot-driven cop drama instead of those character-driven ones such as "Hill Street Blues" and "Homicide: Life on the Street". As "Dragnet"'s Sergeant Friday would say, "Just the facts, ma'am." I'm not at all interested in what a cop does off-duty. It would probably explain why I've always liked watching old shows such as "Dragnet", "The Untouchables" or "Mission: Impossible".

Speaking about old shows, I did catch a DVD of the updating of "Bewitched" thanks to a loaner from The Teacher the other day. I had written an extensive review of it the other day but due to server trouble it got discarded so here I am trying again.

I remember watching the original series in colour with Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York as a little kid. I think Montgomery was one of those women whom people my age wanted to have as their mother or as an object of lust. The series has also been aired frequently over the years in this country and one of my first memories of Japanese TV was seeing Samantha herself twitching her nose while she hawked some local product.

Well, fast forward ahead some 40 years (yes, can you believe it's approaching half-a-century since the series first premiered?) and now came this Nora Ephron version of the witch who wants to go native in Mortalsville. I could see why people didn't warm up to this version last year. Ephron didn't seem to know what to make this movie: a sappy romance, a magical comedy or a satire on the production of a TV show. Of course, when you go all three ways, you end up going nowhere. Mind you, it was nice to see Nicole Kidman do her best impression of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha or really, Isabel Bigelow the so-called true witch. And Will Farrell was off-and-on funny although he made me wonder what Jim Carrey would've have brought to the role. To Ephron's credit, she tried to approach it from a more meta level with the actors playing actors playing the original characters from the show. However, it wasn't totally successful since some of that meta developed some holes such as having Aunt Clara and Uncle Arthur popping up for "real" in Isabel's life. I'd say things would've been better if there hadn't been any of this weird cross-pollinization. Nowadays, I would probably more or less treat the original series as an excuse for some aural wallpaper or a reason to zone out blissfully; the show probably does fall into the category of those programs that always seem to be better in reminiscings rather than in actual reruns. I think the same should be done with this movie. Just check your brain at the door, watch happily and snap your fingers at the Steve Lawrence cover of the theme song.
Tuesday February 28, 7:55 a.m.

The Arakawa effect is still being felt all around Japan. Yesterday, Puccini's "Turandot" sold out at one HMV, at least. Even the one skater who should've been at Turin but couldn't due to age requirements (15-year-old Mao Asada) is now coming up in a comical little commercial. And the ratings when Arakawa was on the podium getting her Gold reached a peak of 43.1%. That's a mark that even drama king Takuya Kimura could only salivate at. And in all likelihood, that Puccini piece, along with the name of the prized technique that the skater had used to wow the crowds (the Inabauer?), will probably become two of the "Words of the Year" at the end of the year.

The Class Act admitted that they had teared up during the performance. And I'm sure all of the Beehive will say the same in a couple of hours. As for me, perhaps my Neanderthalic side is showing but through the umpteen times I've seen Arakawa giving that skate and through the umpteen times that I've heard "Turandot", I haven't shown any particular emotion either way. I guess figure skating will never impress anything on me. Enh....maybe it's a woman thing.

Well, first there was that former member of Dreams Come True who got arrested for drug possession. Now, in a case of bicultural parity, a former member of Wham! gets busted for his own possession once again. George Michael got to meet some cops one more time. No idea if he got any public washroom benefits, though.

A couple of ol' TV vets have left this mortal coil. Don Knotts passed away at 81. I barely remember him from "Andy Griffith" as a baby although I have seen the reruns a number of times. I think the movie that left the biggest impression on me, though, was "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" in which Knotts turned into a fish for the latter half of the movie. Also, there was his Mr. Furley from "Three's Company"...which I think was closer to his real personality than goofy Barney Fife. Then, there is Darren McGavin who passed away at 83. I remember him chiefly from, despite all of the other guest appearances and TV shows, as the ever-unlucky reporter Kolchak in "The Night Stalker", the proto-"X Files". For kids growing up in the 70s, that was the most terrifying show.

Lou Dobbs is probably in either in the grouchiest or most depressed mood today. Looks like Congress will be kowtowing to Bush after all on that ports deal. Perhaps the idea of the Teflon President should be better applied to George than to Bill Clinton. And speaking of CNN, TVNewser has finally cottoned onto the fact that it has been repeating the same features over and over for the past couple of months...such as that grotty pedicure one. I can understand if they repeat a piece a few times during a news cycle but rerunning it for a quarter of a year is beyond me.

Anyways, gotta get ready...
Monday February 27, 10:13 p.m.

As expected, NHK News at 10 has been wrapping up the Olympics. And just as expected, the head of the Japanese delegation apologized for its poor showing and promised that the next team for Vancouver will be leaner and more strictly chosen. But to be honest, a number of the athletes placed in the Top 10 in their events with a few of them even placing 4th including figure skater Fumie Suguri. The head also mentioned that there will now be talks about setting up an athletic centre for future Winter Olympics hopefuls to train properly. Here, here!

My classes today were the typical ones. The Class Act was going off on tangents once again. However, The Lady actually did address the topic of heading to Korea but now the trip has been tentatively set for mid-April since both her and The Matron will be on other trips next month. So I guess it's a go. The Lady's already got some ideas about how the tour will go so The Matron and I will leave it in her capable hands.

SIL's lesson was the usual rollicky joke-filled chatfest interrupted by a newspaper article. She did look at that hilariously edited new version of "The Shining" that I'd told her about. I'm most grateful for having a class after lunch that doesn't leave me super sleepy.

Heading up to Speedy's, The Part-Timer did pretty well in my test of her abilities on Present Perfect. I also gave her a briefer on numbers but since she's in the accounting division, she became the first student in my freelance career to breeze through them. It was the usual diligent effort.

Looks like Speedy's brush with celebrity is continuing. One of his newest students is a pro magician who's probably done some of the TV shows. And once again, Mr. Influence's cooking classes has gotten the attention of another media outlet...this time, TokyoFM. The DJ for that one, who's also apparently one of the lovelies that appear in the background on the TBS show "The King's Brunch" on Saturdays, will be coming to the kitchen. I'll be curious as to who this person is. Unfortunately, I won't be anywhere near the school on that day. And in fact, I just got a call from the boss himself stating that 006 will be a scratch this Wednesday due to work concerns. But Speedy did dangle a potential carrot in the form of a possible student for Wednesday afternoons.

I got my monthly salary from Speedy and quickly deposited it into the bank. And yet, despite being a good boy and not lavishly spending on my favourite things and depositing as much as I can over the past few weeks, I'm still nowhere near where I want to be. It sure does stink to be poor in Tokyo....and I've got to pay my rent tomorrow.

Ah, on the cultural front, there have been these Kameda Bros from Osaka who have been flooding the airwaves with their own brand of je ne sais crois. Who they? Well, they're teen boxing phenoms who look like the same kid at different times in his life. The boys are a mix of Bruce Lee, Jedi Padawan and The Louisville Lip. Yep, along with their deadly fists of fury, at least one of them has the mouth and cocky attitude of Muhammad Ali. Being Osakans, they're unsurprisingly in-your-face and arrogant and snidely denigrating when it comes to their opponents. Usually when it comes to getting some words from an athlete before game time, he usually gives the lip service of "Issho kenmei ganbari masu" (I'll give it my best shot). Not the Kameda Bros. They just sneer and say that they'll pulverize the bastard. I mean, professional wrestlers talk trash in this country, too but I don't think the Japanese have ever seen kids this young talk the talk and walk the walk like these three. And at this point, they're doing both quite well, thank you very much.

But of course, eventually and inevitably, they'll meet their comeuppance, their Waterloo due to the ravages of age, broken bones, overconfidence or some guy who's younger and hungrier (there is always some guy like that). And the maturing and humbling may set in. Certainly, the former Cassius Clay has been the most dramatic example of this but recently, people like Bode Miller and that Henrick speed skater from the just-ended Turin Games may join the club as well. Henrick still talks the talk despite his unexpected losses but braggadocio crumples up very fast without the results to back it up. However, it's best to be cocky when you're young and you feel that you can take on the whole world. A lot of successful risks have been taken by the not-so-meek before wisdom and maturity start blunting their courage. So, a salute to the Kameda Bros. May they win as many bouts as they can get!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Monday February 27, 8:06 a.m.

Well, the Turin Olympics have finally ended. The flag has been handed over to the mayor of Vancouver and the sweepstakes are on for the next Games. Shizuka Arakawa has already gotten into the commercial mode; a cute one selling rice made its premiere this morning. And the music to which she did her medal-winning performance, "Turandot", may be selling like hotcakes in the next little while. But then again, this was said by the entertainment media, and I know how the media hype turned out for the rest of the Japanese athletes. It's kinda nice that I have this bicultural heritage. Japan may have flopped but Canada had one ot its best showings at the Games. Now that the Olympics have wrapped, it'll be another couple of days and nights of post analysis by the pundits and then we'll back to the usual world political backstabbing and wars. Nice to be normal, eh?

From the pop culture front, former Dreams Come True keyboardist Nishikawa (41) got nabbed for drugs in his car yesterday. It's his second offense, I believe. He looked rather pained on the TV but that footage could have been from his first offense. He had also been involved in some car accident where he had been at fault some years ago which may have indirectly led to his resignation/ouster from the band.

I've picked up a couple of students but this week could be rather tough. I've gotta pay off my lease renewal fee, along with my regular rent....ouch! Perhaps peanuts and rice crackers could make for a nice dinner.

I've got my usual lineup for today: The Class Act, SIL and then The Part-Timer. However, I've also got a lot of strategizing to do for 006 and for the projects at Speedy.

Hay fever is striking back again although I took my medicine over half an hour ago. I've started to sneeze like an oyaji now inside my apartment...that is to say, I sneeze like a bazooka. But, I keep my explosions within the house unlike the other old guys who feel the need to expectorate anywhere and everywhere, seemingly especially on the trains. I must admit that there is a certain relief to making as much noise as possible when sneezing. Plus, there's been a bit of folklore attached to the fine art of sneezing/howling. The legend goes that people try to be as loud as possible so that there is a feeling that all the bad spritis are being blown out of the body. However, I'll still use my silencer on the train.

I got a message from SR. It looks like the baby is due anytime now. She'll probably be incommunicado for the next several weeks at the very least but I did offer her the invitation for her and The State Sisters for some dinner sometime when she has a sliver of time from the baby. And The Ballerina sent me a letter. She didn't refer directly to my meeting with B2 and B2B yesterday but I know that she must've gotten a message from them last night. Finally, I got a second mass invitation from PH for that party of hers on the 3rd. I've already sent in my regrets so I'm not sure why she's doing so again. Besides, Chip Guy said that he wouldn't be able to go due to work. And after paying my bills this week, I definitely will not be willing to pay 4000 yen for dinner with the rest of the drinks.
Sunday February 26, 10:48 p.m.

Got a reply from B2 stating that they had enjoyed our first contact and not to mind B2B. I'm not exactly sure what I can read into that but I'll let it be. I've already started on the planning for their lesson but I think it'll take a few revisions before Thursday.

I've also started the dry run on my taxes. Tonight was practicing how to fill in the deductions sheet. A lot of calculating to be had there. Still, I'm glad that I've finally gotten into it. I'll probably show the Beehive to make sure I'm on the right track. The ladies were invalauble for their assistance last year.

I'm currently watching the Ice Hockey Finals between Finland and Sweden. I'm sure for the Nordic countries, this is the dream matchup. However, I heard from Chip Guy today that the Canadian Broacasting Corporation is singing some major blues over the fact that neither North American team made it where Finland and Sweden are right now. But I'd like to think that players like Teemu Selanne and Mats Sundin would still attract some attention. The funny thing is that TV Tokyo is showing the coverage live. Funny, because the hosts for the program are model/tarento Kaoru Manabe and comedian Takashi Fujii (aka Mr. Matthew Minami of "Lost In Translation" fame). Can you imagine these two hosting international hockey? At least they had the common sense to admit that they've got zilch knowledge of the sport. To help in that, they have been ably assisted by a former Japanese hockey player and a current captain of a team. Mind you, these guys are calm and collected, dressed in suits and I swear, they may even have their own teeth. These aren't the usual sweaty hulks in their soaked jerseys with permanent 5 o'clock shadow. For several minutes before the action got started on the ice, all the viewers got the tutorial on the sport itself and then there was a segment in which it was very ably demonstrated how powerful a slapshot can be. A former Boston Bruin who's now playing for a Japanese team gave the honours and blasted the puck through 15...count 'em, 15... styrofoam panels into the goal. He even swung that puck to crack a concrete block hanging from the net, much to the awe of the pretty TV Tokyo announcer.

Ice hockey in Japan will forever remain a niche sport along with curling (despite the hype surrounding a newly released movie about a group of high school girls taking up the sport). Even a Takuya Kimura drama last year which had him as a hockey player didn't do much to raise the consciousness of the sport.

In any case, the game will probably be the very last event of the Turin Olympics before the Closing Ceremonies tonight. For me, the biggest thrill will be Snowboard Cross...hands down. Even my students were talking about that one. Perhaps if they showed that on a regular basis somewhere on the tubes....

But none other than sole Gold Medal winner Shizuka Arakawa kinda proved The Beehive's point about the waning interest in winter sports being responsible for Japan's poor showing in Turin. She pointed out at a news conference that the dearth of skating rinks in Japan made things difficult for her to train in her home country which forced her to move to the States. She's hoping that her win will turn that around. Being the "glass-is-half-empty" type, I'm not so sure. However, maybe Snowboard Cross can help things somewhat (here I go again)....
Sunday February 26, 6:49 p.m.

It's even worse than Friday. The rains have been unrelenting since the afternoon which indirectly cut short my time with Chip Guy.

But first I met with The Ballerina's friend and her boyfriend, heretofore known as B2 and B2B respectively (love my code names) at Shingawa Station. I was pretty nervous beforehand since this was a couple and I just haven't had the best of luck at keeping couples for long. Sure enough, I'm still left wondering if this will turn out well after our first meeting. First off, during our hourlong powwow at the Shinagawa Station Starbucks, B2 was friendly and gracious enough (being a former flight attendant helps) but B2B was rather stonefaced. Great....even greater was that B2 was a far more accomplished speaker than her boyfriend whose utterances consisted mostly of words and phrases. And the "greatest" thing of all was that they would like to be taught together during that one hour. Now I'm not about to turn down a customer but I think this will take some strategy. In my attempts to negotiate a price, I may have slightly offended the ol' boy by referring him as "a special guest" when it came to the lesson format since he volunteered to listen to us at least for the first few classes (which frankly cramps my style as a teacher) so I did send a bit of an apology to B2. Well, what else could he be if he's just gonna sit there? In any case, I'll be meeting them on Thursday. I'll try my best but I won't have any high hopes for a long-term relationship. Interesting....with The Denmother's feckless kid and then this couple, my alternate Thursdays could be the toughest ones.

Afterwards, trying to keep the thinking of the couple's lessons to a minimum (it is a Sunday, after all), I headed off to the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku where Chip Guy and his family were staying. The two of us headed off to that okonomiyaki restaurant in East Shinjuku where a bunch of us had gone before catching "King Kong" some weeks ago. We got sent to the "couples" table...two side-by-side seats facing the window. At first, I thought Chip Guy was gonna make some "Brokeback Mountain" jokes but the table turned out well. One thing about okonomiyaki; it's great stuff to make and eat but man, it sure leaves the greasy odor on you all day. I've stripped down to my undies and bathrobe but I still smell like a pot of tempura oil. Anyways, the two of us talked about our old topics: movies, TV, electronics, old friends.

We then headed to look for a cafe. The rains were coming down harder then but CG, being the typical Canadian, didn't bother bringing an umbrella and didn't particularly want one. Over here, commuters just have to feel a rise in humidity on their faces to open up. Back home, it would take a fairly heavy deluge for a lot of us to bring out the brolleys. Being the long-term resident here, I dutifully kept mine over Chip Guy at the expense of my wet coat. As for cafe, we ended up going to that old-style cafe that The Madame and I had patronized a few days ago. Being not only a Sunday but a very wet one, I'd thought we would have to wait a while but we got our table pretty quickly. There, CG let me know that he and his wife had been involved in a bit of a nasty business with a harassing Japanese woman back home after a little fender bender at their daughter's school. Thankfully, CG's threat of a lawsuit brought things under control. But it did bring up another one of those cultural differences. Over here, simple harassment is not really considered to be a prosecutable offense by the cops which kinda helps explain why it had taken years for the Tokyo cops to finally send that sonic-assaulting nutcase woman into the rubber room just recently. That Japanese woman back in Canada found out the hard way that the natives play a bit more hardball there.

Not surprisingly, CG decided to bail out early after a promise of lunch and dinner. The jet lag was bringing him down slowly over the course of our time in the cafe; even the premium coffee couldn't keep his eyes open. Plus, the rain was getting rather depressing. It started pelting down so even he immediately ran under my small collapsible. To be honest, I was glad that things finished early. I find myself now with a lot of stuff to do after a couple of months of very slow time. Still, there is always next weekend for the whole of CG's family and I to go out for dinner.

Skippy has sent me word that she'd like to catch "Narnia" in a couple of weeks so I've sent word out to the usual suspects.