Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friday September 25, 1:03 p.m.

The Nurse was one of the millions who braved the Kan-Etsu Highway up to Gunma Prefecture during Silver Week. It took her 8 hours round-trip to stay 2 hours there. I think the payoff was somewhat lacking.

Well, the pay packets are almost done. Once I get mine, I'll probably take off soon after since I still gotta get the bereavement card for my late uncle...I went to Ginza's Ito-Ya yesterday but although I could get a birthday card for my niece, I couldn't find anything remotely appropriate to send to my aunt. My only other choice is the Matsuzakaya Department Store in Nihombashi.

Also, during my short recce in Ginza, I found out that the HMV in the Mosaic Building in Sukiyabashi had received the axe a couple of weeks earlier. The music store had once taken up the entire 4th floor but then several years ago, the place was downsized to just a third of its original size, and then the final farewell in early September. To be honest, I guess there was a certain inevitability since there is a more accessible HMV just down the street in the Ginza INZS complex.

Spoke to Ray about her going to Akihabara to help out the bossman tomorrow at the fair. She's not looking forward to it because of the weekly infestation of otaku.
Friday September 25, 10:40 a.m.

The end of a 2-day work week. Not surprisingly, not feeling all that tuckered out. Just have The Nurse in about 20 minutes and then it's just the juku folks tonight. And that is with The Ace out of the picture since he's got plans.

Heard that the bossman and Ray gotta head out to a study abroad fair out in Akiba tomorrow. Oh, joy! In the midst of Otaku Central on a Saturday. Hope Ray doesn't go into Maid Rage there.
Thursday September 24, 10:30 p.m.

Had my lesson with The Music Man. Yep, Renault came up. As expected, both of us agreed that the car company got off with a slap on the wrist after what will probably go down as one of the most egregious scandals in any sport. He also mentioned that he thought that Michael Schmacher is truly a dangerously competitive driver.

A bit of an odd topic to finish the day on, but it's been something that's been trying to get out of my mind and onto blog for a while, so I'll see if I can get this written down before I get out of here. Being a veteran Trekkie and a soundtrack fan, I was intrigued by the reactions on YouTube concerning the Michael Giacchino score to the current reboot of the franchise. Excerpts of the CD have found permanent status on the site. There have been a lot of raves about the tracks including Track 5, "Enterprising Young Men", which is also a favourite of mine. But there are those who think that Giacchino's accomplishments pale in comparison to Jerry Goldsmith's contribution to Trek Lore with his famous theme for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". There was even one nod of support to the score for "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (the one with the whales) which I frankly likened to a DeVol score for a late 60s sitcom. Not that I hated that one, but let's say that neither Giacchino nor Goldsmith should be particularly threatened.

For me and for the record, I think there is room for not just Giacchino and Goldsmith, but also for James Horner, the composer for the score for what is arguably the best of the entire franchise "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan". The score fits the movie. Goldsmith's majestic score fits in with Robert Wise's laudable but doomed attempt to create a space opera out of hammy acting and a huge space turd in a cloud. James Horner created a swashbuckling seafaring motif which goes hand-in-glove with the adventure and space battles that characterized "The Wrath of Khan". And then you have the most recent contributor to Trek Music, Michael Giacchino, who has whipped out this frothy, frenetic and fun score to celebrate Star Trek's return to its roots. Giacchino even gets all illogical...much like much of the plotting of the thrusting in the legendary Alexander Courage TV theme in various parts three times. I was somehow able to get over that strangeness and have listened to the CD now even more times than I have Giacchino's other great soundtrack, that for "The Incredibles".

So, Trekkies, rejoice. You can enjoy all the pieces of Trek Music without guilt.
Thursday September 24, 7:48 p.m.

Well, I guess I had a lot of energy all stored up from Silver Week. Used it to get ready for lessons, come up with a strategy for Swank who I'll be seeing next Monday (actually, she'll be the only student I'll be seeing on Monday...The Medicine Man has cancelled his lesson), copied off a couple of tests for Mrs. Jyuppie this Sunday and Mr. White on Tuesday, and got the final part of the review done up for The Restauranteur's lesson tomorrow night. Not too bad.

On my way to Speedy's, I came across a rather unfortunate scene on the opposite platform. It looked like some high school kid had stopped breathing. He was splayed out unconscious and the paramedics were applying the defibrillator to his bare chest. Never a good sign, but I hope he's OK.

Should ask The Music Man about that Renault verdict. Earlier in the week, Renault missed the proverbial bullet by just getting a suspended sentence for intentionally asking a driver to crash for the company's benefit. The Music Man is also an F1 enthusiast, and in fact, he was the first to tell me about this scandal.
Thursday September 24, 4:45 p.m.

Back at the grindstone, as it were. Just today and tomorrow before another weekend crops up. Silver Week was basically made up of my cocooning at home for the most part (except for a Tuesday afternoon outing to Jimbocho) while the rest of the Kanto apparently enjoyed parking out on the highways for 5 days. Basically that is it for the very first extended holiday in September...I guess Silver Week will only occur when the holidays align themselves like they did this year. Newswise, it was also the week when PM Yukio Hatoyama played debutante at his ball at the United Nations. His English was pretty darn good...but then again the lad did go to Stanford for 6 years. Also, domestically, the new Prime Minister faced his first big challenge to his administration by proxy...Land and Infrastructure Minister Maebara got the screws tightened on him by a good chunk of the people of Gunma Prefecture as he had made the decision (or that is, his party made the decision during the election campaign) to cancel one of the big projects that had already been started by the name of the Yanba Dam near the city of Naganohara. This project had been tossed about for half a century before it finally had been accepted by the locals, then last week came the axe by Maebara. He's not a popular figure out in the boonies. And he had probably been feeling more sorry for Pension Reform Minister Nagatsuma for getting such a cold welcome by the bureaucratc staff.

Also, the countdown has begun before the IOC Selection Committee makes the final decision about which city gets the 2016 Olympic Games. Tokyo is in the final running and the choice will be made on October 2nd. I'm sure Governor Shintaro Ishihara will be feeling pretty cranky next week.

Got the call from Mom this morning that one of my uncles had passed away earlier this week. I had met him a few times early in my childhood and adolescence, but like with virtually every relative that I have, I was never very close to him. However, I am sending his family a card of condolence.

Just have The Music Man tonight. However, I did go out earlier today to wire over my airfare back home to the parentals. Made another recce through Roppongi, Ginza and Shinjuku. Had some lunch at Stackers, the small sandwich shop on the 12th floor of Takashimaya Times Square. Their burger plate doesn't really stack up (oops, sorry) but the BLT plate fits the bill. I was also in the nearby HMV. Looks like Madonna has released her best album in a single and double-CD format.

Tomorrow is the official last day for that old CD shop, Otokichi, in Nakano Sun Plaza. I may just take a gander there tomorrow since I have a big chunk of empty time (sign of the times) between The Nurse's lesson and my lessons at the juku later in the evening.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monday September 21, 1:36 p.m.

The first day of Fall and, more importantly, smack dab in the middle of Silver Week. Due to a fluke in national holiday scheduling, Respect-for-the-Aged Day and the official First Day of Fall fall in the same week and just one day apart. So, there is a so-called Citizen's Holiday on Tuesday to buffer the two. However, throw in the weekend, and we've got ourselves a Silver Week. For the first half, though, I've been basically coccooning in my neighbourhood. The I-Cafe has been as far as I've gotten out of my own apartment in the past 3 days. The weather has finally become more suited to a Fall. Meanwhile, being a major holiday week, the highways have once again become the largest parking lots on the planet.

A lot of time with coccooning, there's a lot of watching of movies on cable TV. I had my own share on Saturday. I actually finally caught "When Harry Met Sally" in its entirety. Up until then, I'd only seen the famous faked orgasm scene. I have to say that I did enjoy the 20-year-old flick by Nora Ephron. The director seems to be (or was) the female Woody Allen, at least in terms of her directing style. I'd seen "Sleepless in Seattle" before, and it comes off as being a sister movie to "When Harry Met Sally" (and perhaps a godmother to the illegitimate brat known as "Knocked Up"). Ephron likes tons of banter with her romance, New York City, and jazz music as an underscore. Plus, she apparently liked Meg Ryan as well. Being a score guy, I'm now rather interested in acquiring the soundtrack. I liked the leads of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan...they came off as likeable and real people with all of their strengths and weaknesses shown to the fore. Enjoyed the quip of "the white man's overbite" and I'm sure all of the women in the audience back in 1989 all sighed wistfully when Harry gave his short and sweet reasons why he loved Sally at the end of the movie. Just a pity that Ephron couldn't bring some of her magic when she did "Bewitched"; I think she just just overreached herself there.

Sunday was just a lot of US crime dramas on Fox Japan and Super Drama TV along with a couple of I-Go games. Yup, "Criminal Minds" and "NCIS" have kept me entertained...almost felt like I was back in Toronto. And just this morning, I caught a NFL game. I've never been a huge fan of American football, but the game between Dallas and New York did have quite a bit of everything. It actually came off as what a Super Bowl should be more like.

Newswise, it's also been a bit of everything. The Perils of Noriko Sakai continue apace...her cottage deep in the wilds of Chiba was torched by an unknown arsonist....perhaps a fanatic with feelings of betrayal. Yoshito Usui, the creator of the comic with the Japanese equivalent of Bart Simpson, "Crayon Shin-Chan" was killed when he'd fallen off a high cliff in Gunma Prefecture...there have tributes from all over East Asia. And buried in all that, is new PM Hatoyama's first trip to the United Nations since getting sworn in last week. Talk about hitting the ground running.

What little of a work week I have is gonna get even smaller. The Carolinan just called in to say to cancel Thursday's lesson since she will be busy making the transition from her old workplace in Aoyama to Jinbocho.

Automan officially got hitched last weekend. I got some of the first photos from the wedding via a mutual friend. Her brother-in-law called last week to say that Automan and the missus may be coming over to Japan next month, and maybe even The Lens and his wife again. Plus, Mom also called to let me know that the VISA bill has come in for my air ticket. So, I'll be shucking over some cash at my bank on Thursday. At this rate, I'll probably be ready to declare insolvency at the end of this year.