Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sunday April 2, 3:47 p.m.

It was quite the movie-laden day and night yesterday. After the session with JJ, I met up with Movie Buddy for the first time in a long while at the main intersection of the Ginza and we walked down a little south toward Tsukiji to catch "A History of Violence" which has been scoring high in the TokyoWalker popularity ratings. One sign that we were in for a good experience was when we found out that the tickets were only 1000 yen each. Considering that most first-run theatres charge 1800, that was a very pleasant surprise. Also, another one was that the seats were very plush in the 435-seat theatre...almost on a par with some of the new movieplexes.

As for "A History of Violence", it was the first time that I'd every seen a David Cronenberg movie on the big screen. I'd never caught any of his old horror flicks like "Shivers" or "Phobia" or even "The Fly" at a theatre. However, I'd certainly known of his reputation for some rather bizarro scenes. "Violence" is probably his most mainstream effort to date. But as is often customary for him, he filmed the movie in his (and my) native province of Ontario (I'd suspected that there was something awfully familiar about his turned out that all of that city's scenes were filmed in good ol' Toronto).
At 96 minutes, it was a short flick but it benefited from the lack of time since it was basically a one-man vengeance movie...however, unlike a Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal or even an ol' Clint Eastwood feature, Viggo's second starring vehicle after that movie about some Hobbits also had some damn fine acting. It also deserved its R-15 rating here as it had brief but truly grisly acts of violence and even a pretty violent sex scene (of course, being in Japan, the censors did have their way with fuzzing up that scene on the staircase and some of Maria Bello's private parts). What also worked was the slow but inexorable deterioration of this once-ideal family model into a breaking-apart-at-the-seams example of dysfunction although there was perhaps a glimmer of hope at the very end. I was glad that there wasn't this "all-is-forgiven-let's-all-hug" scene but was also relieved that Viggo Mortensen's character didn't end up shooting himself in the head.
Another nice little touch at this theatre, the Togeki, was that at the end of the movie while we were all filing out, the staff handed out free bottles of Caffe Latte. I think for some of us, that refreshment was well needed. There was especially one guy behind MB and me during the movie who was wheezing like a patient on a malfunctioning ventilator, although the heavy panting did stop during the sex-on-a-staircase scene....really.

MB and I stopped off at Ginza Yamano Music back at the main intersection since he wanted to find a DVD of some form of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" as a visual reference for something for his kids at school (I guess he may trying to educate them a la Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society"). He couldn't find a good one but he did find a double-pack of "Daredevil/Elektra". He was mulling over whether to buy it since he'd already rented "Elektra" at the local Tsutaya for viewing last night. I just told him one word "Extras". That, plus the fact that he'd really wanted to see the director's cut to Ben Affleck's contribution to the Marvel oeuvre put him over the edge.

We got home and did the usual ordering to Domino's Pizza before we settled for the second movie of the night, "Stealth". Y'know, it wasn't that bad of a movie although Josh Lucas won't be scaring Viggo Mortensen anytime soon. The first few moments of that flick told us all we needed to know..."Stealth" is just one big computer game with a thyroid condition. It was fun and entirely forgettable. I guess where Jamie Foxx is concerned, "Stealth" continues the age-old tradition for recent Oscar winners to follow up their award-winning movies with some light-as-a-feather stuff. Just like Sir Anthony Hopkins with "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Freejack". Discuss. The only big surprise was having perennial British villain-playing Richard Roxburgh come in under the radar as cantankerous Dr. Orbit. We didn't even realize his contribution until we saw his name in the credits.

Next on the mediocrity parade was the director's cut of "Daredevil". Actually, I spake too harshly there. It wasn't too bad when MB and I had seen it at the theatre a couple of years back, but it didn't particularly merit too highly on the meter on the scale of superhero movies. Perhaps it was the "Gigli" effect that Ben Affleck had brought to the movie. However, the director's cut was a far better version than the original. Things actually did make sense this time around. I could actually see the fight scenes without all that murkiness and Affleck actually did acquit himself better. Plus, the new version got back a whole new subplot. The special on the Making of the movie laid out on the line when it came to the theatrical and DVD versions. The producer defiantly argued for the inferior, allegedly snappier, theatrical version while the director politely argued for the original DVD version. I think if this is the thinking for studios from now on, the original theatrical release will be for the marketers and beancounters' satisfaction while the DVD stuff will be for everyone else.

Finally, it was "Elektra". I don't think any DVD version could have saved this one. Nope, it's just not a good movie. Very leaden in pace with a slip of a story. And it obviously tried to ride the wave of all those Chinese wire-fu movies like "Hero". Nope, Jennifer Garner won't be making this her secondary name role next to her star-making turn in "Alias". Terence Stamp was pretty much wasted here. The extras were only notable for some guy involved in the movie who talked and looked a lot like Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons". Couldn't understand half of what he was talking about which put us into the right frame of mind to call it a night and hit the hay.

Woke up earlier this morning to see MB who had risen a couple of hours earlier to continue his love affair with the Playstation Portable. We chatted a bit before heading on out to Skylark for the traditional Sunday lunch that we do after a night of DVD debauchery. It was a good chat with a good friend that I hadn't seen in a good long while. Probably the next flick we'll see is "V for Vendetta" later on in the month. It's hard to believe that we'll be entering Golden Week once more by the time that comes out.

The only news item of note is that the cops got their man in that horrible case of a little kid getting thrown off the 15th floor to his death in Kawasaki. To be more accurate, the psycho turned himself in stating just matter-of-factly that he had just wanted to kill the boy and a cleaning woman (he didn't go through with it with the latter). The tragedy is that the man is a husband and father of three. The wife and children will now proceed through Hell for the next number of years.

Well, I gotta get started on the lesson planning since Monday will now become the busy day for me.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday March 31, 11:22 p.m.

My Star Trek calendar suddenly decided to fall partway down so immediately I thought that someone big in the various casts of the Trekverse had gone to that starship in the sky. Well, as it turns out, nothing untoward has happened of yet.

That 3-hour special of "Music Station" included arguably the most popular singer in Japan today, living Barbie doll Ayumi Hamasaki doing a cover of an old TRF song. She definitely looks more and more like the singer that she's often compared to: Madonna. I was half-expecting The Material Girl herself to suddenly pop on by.

While that music show was going on, I was caught unawares that on Fuji-TV, the final chapter of "Lord of the Rings", "The Return of the King", was playing. Talk about your strategy for counterprogramming. However, it's just Part 1. Part 2 will be on tomorrow night. There probably won't be a dry eye in the house. Strangely enough, I'm gonna be seeing Viggo Mortensen fighting the relatively more mundane Earth thugs in "A History of Violence" instead of evil wizard-created things.

Off in the news, The Democratic Party of Japan is in shambles once again. About 6 months ago, the main opposition party to PM Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party was in a crisis of leadership after having lost big in national elections due to the relative inaction of then-leader Okada. So, in late September, the DPJ chose a young guy by the name of Maehara to lead and rejuvenate the troops. Well, so much for that plan. Just 6 months later and yet another scandal later, he's calling it quits after letting that bumbler, Hisaya Nagata, get too carried away with an unsubstantiated e-mail supposedly accusing an LDP member's son of taking a bribe. Kinda feels like that Canadian political fiasco involving the Progressive Conservatives after Kim Campbell had that summer job of a prime ministerial term before screwing up big time several years ago. In any case, the entire DPJ executive has resigned en masse, much to the LDP's glee. I bet those guys are celebrating in the izakayas and hostess bars of Akasaka tonight. As for the DPJ, it's back to the drawing board.

Looks like there's been a further lead in that horrible story involving a homicidal maniac who threw a little kid over the 15th floor balcony of an apartment building in Kawasaki. The security cameras got a fairly good, if not perfectly sharp, image of the culprit running away after he did the deed.

Having my unexpectedly expensive lunch at Beckers today, I was mulling over the fact that back home in Toronto, Beckers is the name of a convenience store chain while over here it is the name of a fast food chain. And then I came across the realization that there are a lot of English or faux-English words which have different meanings in the West and in this nation.

For example, the word "gorgeous" is used in the West to mean someone who is just extremely beautiful. Over here, the word exists to describe something that looks extremely expensive; back in the US then, the word "opulent" would be more appropriate for what Japan's "gorgeous" is used for.

Another example. "Mook" is a goodfella term for " a guy". Over in Japan, it doesn't have the slightest connection with organized crime. "Mook" is a combination of the words "book" and "magazine" and describes a glossy publication based on one specific topic whether it be on traveling in Korea or a buxom model's bikini shots. So I guess the combination includes the magazine's glossy pictorial style and the book's focus on a theme.

Then there is "gravure" which is a very rarely known expression unless one's in the printing business. It is a certain printing process. But in Japan, it's not only used far more often but it has a more titillatingly exciting meaning to describe pinup models....gravure idols.

And of course, there is the aidoru...the Japanized form of idol. In the West, an idol is a young singing or acting phenom who attracts a lot of attention and worship from the general public. On the other hand, the aidoru is a young singing phenom of very limited talent who attracts a lot of attention and worship from a very otaku segment of the public.

Now that I'm off of my educational kick, I can give congratulations to The Stick for sticking it out and getting that new job. She starts Monday.
Friday March 31, 7:34 p.m.

Smellin' like coffee and cigarettes once more after The Madame and I had our 4-hour chat at the cafe in Shinjuku. Hope the air freshener can take care of this odour by tomorrow night. Once again, most of the conversation centered around the girl's deepening interest in all things spiritual. Well, I listened as much as I could while digesting all that cake and sandwich we'd ordered from the Afternoon Tea Set. I believe that she really does believe in what she says. That's about as far as I will go for now. In fact, I gave her a little challenge...she has to telepathically send her birthdate over to Skippy. Hmmm...this should be an interesting weekend. And next week, when we meet up for our next little trip to the Korakuen spa, L'Aqua, I'm bringing a spoon to see if she could pull off a Uri Geller on it like she claims to have done twice.

I got home to find out that Movie Buddy will indeed be coming to my humble abode for dinner and a movie. I'd asked him earlier to confirm this for which I got a slightly testy response saying that he'd already gotten the discs. Well, if he would've been a bit less vague about it... In any case, The Satyr has given his regrets and I haven't heard anything from Skippy so she's most likely a scratch.

The specials week is still going on strong which means tonight is "Music Station" for 3 hours. Got most of the heavy hitters out there like Mika Nakashima, AI, Dreams Come True and a couple of the Johnny's Jimusho acts amongst others. Flaky Cocco is even appearing tonight after a 5-year hiatus. Once again, she's smiling but not talking. Her song hasn't come up yet but I can only assume she's gonna barely spit out something. I swear, she must have a phobia or something. The show is also featuring blasts from the past. Of course, the ever-present square in the corner of the screen has popped up showing the reactions of the various artists' faces during the clips. Everyone is carefully keeping a neutral expression for some of those old 80s idols' acts or Morning Musume unless an artist they really like appears. But it is amazing how long "Music Station" has gone on starting from those idol-fueled days through the Komuro Family and now to the current love for all things R&B.

Just before I met up with The Madame, I had a quick bite at a fast food restaurant called Beckers located in the basement shopping area of Shinjuku Station. I'm not sure if it's because of the rent or the faux-wood decor inside but their fare is amongst the most expensive of the junk food set. Just a reconstituted chicken-sandwich set with average fries and a cola set me back 700 yen.

Well, still gotta make those plans for JJ before meeting up with Movie Buddy.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Friday March 31, 9:09 a.m.

Well, it's the last day of the month. People are prepping for the annual drunken orgies at Cherry Blossom Viewing. They're gonna have to drink a lot of sake, shochu and beer to keep the unusual chill out, though. Also, a number of the TV shows are getting ready for their annual makeovers. "Mezamashi Terebi", the Fuji-TV show announced the various lineup changes. Fuji's noontime flagship show, "Waratte Ii Tomo" has started jettisoning some longtime resident tarento to replace with some new folks next week. And of course, the specials have been going on all week long.

My neck, and by extension my head, has still been bothering me so I've taken another couple of Tylenol. I think my posture in front of the computer is to blame.

We've got another psycho on the loose. Apparently, some guy dressed in black may have allegedly thrown a little kid to his death from the 15th floor of his apartment building. The same guy may have also attacked a cleaning woman some time ago.

Well, I've just got The Madame today for tea. I think I may be able to catch a quick bite before I head on up to Shinjuku. She really likes that rather staid tea room across from the station that we'd gone to before. I've yet to hear from Movie Buddy about Saturday. I hope he makes contact fairly soon. I would like to bring in Skippy and The Satyr into it but it might be too short notice, especially for the former. I find that the Japanese need a whole week's advance warning at least.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Thursday March 30, 3:27 p.m.

My neck is still feeling pretty sore even though (or perhaps because of) the masseuse's ministrations this morning. She really went down to town on it. I'm sure all you Swedish massage fans must be shuddering in horror. Yep, in shiatsu, the neck is fair game (within reason, of course) for a lot of laser pinpoint acupressure on the scale of an Exocet missile (a salute to all you Falklands War observers) making contact with a piece of tofu. I mean, I can move it all about but the stiffness and pain are ever underlying. Maybe this free weekend is a fateful necessity. The masseuse advised me to actually join up with twice-weekly sessions partially assisted by my National Health Insurance. Hmmm....I don't think things have gotten quite that bad yet. Plus, I can't even afford the time.

I actually walked from my station over to Urayasu Station (took the easy way out by taking the subway back) for my weekly session at the gym. Then, I spent about an hour at the Starbucks across from the station. I ordered their version of the Sausage McMuffin. Pretty basic...just a flat piece of pork (or thereabouts) covered with a slice of cheddar (or thereabouts), both being sandwiched between a couple of English muffins (those were indeed real). Not too bad. Being there after the lunch hour, the population was pretty sparse in there. I neglected to carry along my crossword book so I had to buy one of those English-learning texts at the book store just under the gym to keep me company before I met the juku boss.

Speaking of whom, I met her at 2 p.m. She just said in passing that she actually did have the day off today. I was initially annoyed internally since I could've used that time to teach her but then again, it was her day off and perhaps she wanted nothing to do with English learning this week. Plus, I think I enjoy my time off too. Double plus, she was kind enough to make the 10-minute walk up to the station from her place to give me my month's pay. Put the whole thing straight into my account.

As such and since I still had Speedy's pay for me in my wallet, I decided to splurge and get some stuff for the apartment. I figured that if Movie Buddy will be staying over once again later on Saturday night, I'm gonna have to get those cleansers and air fresheners up and running once more. I also splurged on the groceries. I decided that I'm gonna make the Chinese chicken stir-fry that has kept me alive all these years. One splurge day every few months is not a bad thing.

I saw on The Stick's blog that she hasn't been able to find a new job quite yet. In her second-last entry, she mentioned that she had interviewed for some position but she was being a bit vague about it. I asked her cheekily if she had been trying out for the Japanese version of MI6 or CIA. Over here, noone has any idea who or what runs the intelligence gathering service in this country....the second-largest economy on the planet. A bit mysterious, if you ask me. However, before I get too tangentialized, her last entry read that she didn't get it. I gave her my best encouragement.

As for Movie Buddy, he threw me the offer of "A History of Violence" which, unlike the underperforming "Syriana", has gotten some pretty good numbers amongst the local viewers according to the TokyoWalker website. And yet, the movie is only playing at just two fairly far-flung theatres in Tokyo. One is all the way in the northwest near the Toshima-en Amusement Park (uh-uh for me) while the other is a small place between Ginza and Tsukiji.

Got the word from Speedy that I've got another new student for that "English in Cooking" project on Monday. The student is more ideal for the project in that she needs the English whereas my first guinea pig was overqualified (though fun to talk to). It ought to be a busy Monday.

I also sent one across the bow of The Denmother about that one lesson with her feckless kid in terms of fees to be paid. She did offer to send it by registered mail. And I would like to think that she's still worthy of my trust but I haven't heard from her in a number of days now.
Thursday March 30, 12:32 a.m.

Once again, my neck, shoulders and back feel like a snitch's head in a Mafia vice clamp. The fact that the weather has gone wintry again hasn't helped. I'll see if a hot shower relaxes those tight muscles a bit and then take a couple of Tylenol. I'm still headed for the massage clinic today.

Looks like I got my weekend a little early this week. I've got no lessons slated and then I got a message from the juku boss saying that she had to cancel our lesson on Friday morning which leaves me with just that tea with The Madame. At first, I wondered if some of the boss' famous scatterbrainedness was at work again and she misunderstood about the Fridays that I wouldn't be available. However, it looks like she really did mean this Friday. Still, she gave me further incentive to hit the gym since she offered to meet me at Urayasu Station at 2 p.m....most likely to give me my packet for the month.

I decided to play culinary Santa Claus this afternoon and picked up half a dozen doughnuts courtesy of The Doughnut Plant branch in Otemachi: three of Valrhona Chocolate and three of Caramel. Then I brought it over to Speedy's where SB and the boss himself tucked themselves into some saccharine goodness. We also gave one to 006 since she usually doesn't get time for dinner before her rather late lesson. She said that after that sugar bomb she would not need any more food for the rest of the evening. Always like to be of service.

So, I start my impromptu weekend. Looks like Movie Buddy will be headed over here on Saturday so I figure it's time to clean up the mess chez moi.

Ahhh...but first that shower.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Wednesday March 29, 9:34 a.m.

My body felt like one very tight knot last night, especially after the ferocious squall that hit the area during my time at the juku. Almost felt like I was coming down with a cold or something. The pain has eased somewhat this morning but I think I will really have to get that rubdown; I'll probably be admonished by my masseur for not coming more often but, hey at 1500 yen a pop, it's not something I can really afford to do that regularly.

I found out at The Beehive yesterday that Ms. Tulip's hubby got his marching orders. The whole family is headed for Toronto, my hometown, of all places for the next half-decade. So, part of the class was on some Q & A about home. I'll probably bring some pics for next week. I've already got her going on the "eh?" Most of the ladies once again took me out to lunch near Tsudanuma Station at a restaurant called "Konnichiwa" which serves Japanese-style pasta dishes. Cod roe spaghetti with nori, anyone?

Then, it was off to see The Teacher for her first Tuesday outing. She wanted me to help her fill out a student assessment report for one of her own charges in that Japanese language school she started working at. How years of filling out such reports can help one. I was treated to a sundae there.

But before I could declare my first day without having spent any money on food, I did succumb to dinner and ate out at the family restaurant a few floors under the gym at Urayasu. And then I ended up getting this blancmange-like thing at the convenience store for breakfast...something I now regret. I'm always a sucker for lots of whipped cream (internally applied, of course) but man, that combination literally made me sit up and stay still for a bit.

The juku cat has gotten friskier again. It was taking small chunks out of me and The Siberian during our 90-minute session. At least, the cat was able to keep The Siberian distracted since the latter likes the former so much. I'll appreciate anything that makes a potentially painful class go that much faster.

It was just Mrs. Mild and McGirl in the previous class. McGirl was never really all that much on the ball but last night, she was especially lost. The boss told me that she's become an okkake, or groupie, for this punk rock singer. She actually went all the way up to Aomori Prefecture several hundred kilometres north to catch his concert up there. And she'll probably head over to this live house in Yokohama in the next couple of weeks to catch her throat-screeching hero. I even met her brother who studies under the boss an hour earlier. He comes off as a pretty good well-adjusted kid (same name as me, too); he even stood up and assumed an "At ease" stance while talking with me. Well, they all start that way, but...

Got home feeling distinctly ague-ish last night so I didn't even bother to check things on the computer until this morning. Had about 6 messages waiting for me which is rather a lot for me. The Madame gave her regrets but it'll be strictly just tea due to other plans this Friday. JJ has asked for another 11 a.m. lesson this Saturday which means that I can conceivably see Movie Buddy far earlier than expected. Maybe we'll catch "Syriana". If MB goes for it, I can check if Skippy and The Satryr are up for it as well.

I found out this morning that disgraced architect Hidetsugu Aneha (the toupeed guy who knowingly falsified building specs so that hundreds of people ended up buying units in potential deathtraps) has paid the biggest price yet for his malfeasances. His wife, who apparently had been ailing (which could have forced Aneha to do his dirty deeds for the medical costs), decided to end it all and threw herself off the 7th floor of an apartment building in my city of Ichikawa (also the city of the Anehas)...not theirs, though, since they live in a rather dilapidated house. Needless to say, she didn't make it. I'm not quite sure if the widower is gonna make it either.

I only have the classes at Speedy's tonight. 001 starts the new text and I'm continuing on with 006. I had been thinking about heading to the gym today. I do have the time but I don't know if I frankly have the energy. If I'm procrastinating, so be it.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tuesday March 28, 7:28 a.m.

I'm feeling a whole lot better after going to bed with a stiff neck and a throbbing headache. Glad that I still have the Tylenol. That one bottle has lasted me for years.

Listened to that Ruiko Kurahashi CD single last night. Well, her voice can't really hit the high notes as smoothly as before and it's just a little more ragged now but...well, I can say that it's OK. The song, "Hirenka" was originally written in Korea. Hmmm...the rather overwrought orchestration seems to be have that "Winter Sonata" vibe. It's certainly different from any of the current J-Pop out there.

Could be an interesting day out there. I have The Beehive again. There was talk a couple of weeks ago about my predecessor being back in town sometime this week but I've yet to hear of anything. If he does make a surprise appearance, it'll probably mean lunch somewhere. And then I have to shift into The Teacher's lesson right afterwards, followed by my regular stint at the juku.

For the past few days, there have been massive protests in Calfornia involving thousands of people supporting illegal alien rights. Finally, a counterforce worthy of Lou Dobbs. And Ive just heard that the big guy himself will be in Mexico in a couple of days. Hmmm....stay tuned.
Monday March 27, 10:58 p.m.

It was pretty warm today and the cherry blossoms have started blooming a week ahead of schedule which apparently means that it'll be a good business year. Of course, we all believe that a groundhog can really predict when Spring will come, too, eh?

It was once again just The Lady at the house today since The Matron and her daughter are off searching for Mozart in Europe this week. And SIL was just as animated as ever. We got into this rather hilarious topic about how T-shirts with some of the most unlikeliest choices for kanji printed on them were all the rage back in the 80s and conversely how a lot of T-shirts (and many other products) still pack some of the weirdest English statements.

In between the lessons at the house, I went off to HMV and ended up picking up the latest EMPIRE film magazine for subway reading and I finally got that Ruiko Kurahashi single, her first release in many years. Standing orders are that, even with my current money supply, I pick up anything I deem buy-now-or-regret-it-later.

The Part-Timer was back after a week's absence. She's been doing fine in her grammar. I'm kinda wondering if I should ramp things up a bit. Speedy let me know that I may have another student to teach in "English for Cooking"; unlike the way-gabby student I'd just finished with last Saturday, this one is lower on the totem pole of English ability so I'll probably have to go by-the-book. Also, he informed me that SB's days with us are numbered since she's now looking for a full-time job. It'll be too bad to lose her...she's an excellent speaker of English.

I've had some very intriguing mail today. First off, The Quarterback sent me a message checking his contribution to YouTube in the form of his video. He has a side project with a little film studio. Apparently, the lad has filmed himself dubbing the President of the US in "Independence Day" during that inspirational speech in English. The Q speaks flawless English usually but he gave his dubbing a distinctly Japanese accent. And only the people who know him realize it is him who is pulling this little early April Fool's joke. I didn't find it particularly hilarious but it was intriguing.

The other message was from Skippy. In her usual happy-go-lucky way (I swear, her words dance around like she does), she asked me if I would like to join her in a trip to one of those Maid Cafes in Akihabara. Initially, I was rather taken aback considering that the newest trend for otaku was, I thought, solely a male enclave. I wasn't quite sure what to think or how to respond but then again, I decided that this is one of the reasons I've come here (no, not to wait for a Maid Cafe to evolve for visitation privileges) have any sort of cultural experience in this country. So I can go in my capacity as amused and bemused Canadian. I'm gonna perhaps send some feelers out there although I don't think there will be too many takers as "brave" as me, especially if those folks have girlfriends. I am interested in finding out why some of these young ladies have been willing to put on the cat ears and tails to titillate doughy anime freaks. Physically at least, I do fit the profile. However, I'm kinda wondering how the waitresses will take to serving women...even a self-professed otaku like Skippy. But apparently, the project has begun.

On the news tonight, the top story on NHK was that Aum Shinrikyo guru and the mastermind behind the sarin gas attacks, Chizuo Matsumoto aka Shoko Asahara, had his appeal rejected by the Tokyo High Court for dismissing the death penalty sentence due to insanity. Of course, the defendant's laywers have promised to appeal to Japan's Supreme Court. As much as I would like to see the nutjob get the gallows, I do respect Asahara's lawyers (although the families of the victims will disagree with me) for fulfilling their job to the letter and defending their client most vigourously. I'm sure they have been vilified and perhaps even gotten their fair share of death threats.

On a happier if wistful note, the skier with the adorably hangdog expression, Mr. Harada, officially retired from competitive ski jumping after 28 years at it. His peak was at the 1998 Nagano Olympics when he and the rest of the ski jump team got the Gold. His most famous expression was when he managed to barely spit out in a high-pitched squeal "Ya-a-a-a-tta!" (We did it!) on seeing one of his fellows clinch the top medal, and then break down in tears in front of an ecstatic reporter. But that peak was truly a peak and not a plateau since in subsequent Games, the ski team frankly did bupkiss. After that little screwup in Turin involving his disqualification from one of the events, I guess Harada finally decided his days were up. He got a little misty-eyed in the studio when he was watching footage from those heady 1998 days.

Back to my little world, The OL informed me that she'll have to cancel this week's lesson as well due to the demands of her job. So, hopefully, The Madame still has that Friday night open and is willing to go out for dinner with me.

On a very personal note, I've been slowly coming to the realization that I'm starting to develop OPO...Old Person Odor. Ugh! There is BO (just plain body odor). Everyone (yes, women, too) gets that at all ages after the usual demands and stresses of the day. But there is somethng to OPO. It's this smell of moldy mustiness from a room of deteriorating books and paper mixed in with the usual sweat and reeky mixture of cigarettes, coffee, and especially on a Friday night, booze. But in my case, I don't smoke and I rarely drink. But I do hit the caffeine and of course I sweat. So I think my debut of OPO can just be chalked up to the slow aging of my body along with the other discharges. No wonder the young folks despise the parentals nowadays. I, for one, would like to smell like Old Spice and not Old Person. However, some of my older students have given off the familiar stink, men and women so I'm not alone here. I've tried to splash on a rather generous amount of cologne but that usually dissipates by noon. Well, maybe I'll just have to be a bit more aggressive in my efforts.

I did send that response back to Movie Buddy about Saturday. Yep, I'm open for business if MB wants to do the ol' DVD night.

And I paid my rent for the month. Thus, the huge hemorrhaging of my bank account has finally stopped during this rather steep month of March. I took a look at what I've got left. It's not bad but I vowed at the ATM that the leakage will stop and I will begin to replenish.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Monday March 27, 7:57 a.m.

Looks like my latent bit of ESP has been on the loose again. I simply mentioned in my last blog entry that Morning Musume may be becoming an endangered species due to the up-and-coming AKB 48, and sure enough when I checked out the J-Pop forum, there were no less than 3 topics about the possible demise of the group....possibly all stemming from a 2-hour special of Utaban back on Thursday in which Musume Classic and MM: The Next Generation both showed up.

Having had to teach The Carolinan on that night, I turned on the telly to see the very last 30 seconds of the show in which I only saw members of the old MM walking off the stage with hosts Takaaki Ishibashi and Masahiro Nakai, presumably to some post-show dinner. I guess I must've missed something special, according to the comments from several of the posters who had seen the whole thing. Apparently, the hosts have been accused of bullying the Next Gen girls, with the Classic girls even referring to their kohai as mild as eating a ton of white rice. That prompted a torrent of flaming towards the hosts and the program in general for their tactics; one accusation talks about the fact that the producer of the show is also the manager behind the rival AKB 48. Interesting...considering that up until the end of the week last week, the show and Ishibashi in particular were shown in a vastly different, more positive light. A bit defensive, are we?

Well, for one thing...I think Morning Musume is on the decline but not because of Utaban. Again, the two hosts can be abrasive but they've always been that way and not just towards the MM. They haven't changed. For another thing, the group has been on the decline for the past number of years with songs that seem to be more in tune with kindergarten students. That remake of the kids' show song pretty much summed up the group's career course with me and it was released a couple of years ago. And finally, using that corollary about variety shows being scripted down to the last smirk or joke, the so-called dissing of the recent bunch may have just been that. Plus, also noting the martial culture of Japan generally, the two hosts and MM Classic could have been engaged in the age-old tactic of being cruel to be kind. A wake-up call of sorts.

To be honest, I have a feeling that the group itself will probably sing its swan song later this year or early next year with a few of the girls going on to become full-time tarento or singers. That was the case with the 80s Onyanko Club in which some of the grads have become household names to the extent that most people have forgotten about their original roots.

On even more mundane news, Movie Buddy contacted me after several weeks of being in thrall to skiing and PSP. He just left the cryptic line of whether I was available this Saturday night. This probably means he wants to go for another DVD night at chez Haruhiko. Hmmm....I'm thinking about it. I'm not sore at him for leaving us for a sport and technology. However, I am just wondering if I'm really up for a whole night of movie-viewing. Yep, I'm that tired. Still, I've enjoyed our talk on all these cinematic in the past. I'll get back to him by tonight.

Speaking about confrontations in a pop-cultural icon/family, I'd been reading through my latest hobby of Wikipedia about the various cast in Star Trek Classic. It hasn't been any sort of secret that the late James Doohan and the living George Takei openly despised William Shatner for his showboating arrogance and underhanded dealings with fellow actors. It was a bit of a surprise, then, to read that Doohan finally forgave Shatner in 2004. To be honest, I'm rather skeptical about that claim, and sorry to say, but Doohan was fully suffering by that point. And I think Takei has been rather two-faced about his recent relationship with the good Captain Kirk. He once praised him only to knock him down again on a very recent edition of The Howard Stern Show. Certainly Shatner hasn't changed his ways; in fact, he's been able to use his pettiness to his advantage in becoming a 2-time Emmy winner and...a singer again. I'm sure Scotty is rolling in his...orbit somewhere.
Sunday March 26, 8:07 p.m.

Lazy Sunday night. To punctuate that point, I'd taken a nap...the first in some months...earlier this afternoon. I figured I had to pay back some of my sleep debt, now a medical term that CNN ought to be patenting as its own. I read on Anderson Cooper's blog that along with sleepwalking and sleeptalking, there is also sleepsex. A lot of the responses from people to that article were pretty cheeky on the university frosh level of things. I can only dream of that myself... In any case, I'm sure Anderson was bravely trying to keep his smirk in check.

Was going over my schedule for this week. The way it's looking I may have a pretty light one in the middle. I've only got Speedy's classes on Wednesday and then a completely blank slate on Thursday.

I saw Liza Minnelli on Larry King Live. Man, does she have Jerry Lewis' condition or what? To be honest, I could only watch just a bit of her before hurriedly switching the channel so that I didn't have to suffer the effect of diabetes. I'm left wondering if Andrea (SCTV) Martin's take on her all those years ago was somewhat more accurate than I'd thought.