Saturday, April 03, 2010

Sunday April 4, 11:10 a.m.

Love ya, YouTube. Or I should say the person who uploaded the very first Matt Smith episode of "Doctor Who"...the entire episode of "The Eleventh Hour". And I had been thinking over an hour ago that I would be waiting over a year to see the ep.

I think in terms of premiere episodes, "The Eleventh Hour" beats the Eccleston and the Tennant eps, "Rose" and "The Christmas Invasion" hands down. There's still a bit of the Tennant Doctor in the new and improved version, but Matt Smith seems to have fit into the Doctor mold quite nicely; and I'm sure the fans will concoct the theory that since it was immediately post-regeneration, an echo of Doctor Ten was still knocking about in Eleven.

As for Matt's rendition, the Eleventh Doctor seems to be babbly and witty and gangly...all legs and arms and floppy hair. I guess the nickname of the Raggedy Doctor may stick, although I think that was more for the ripped-up clothing from Doctor Ten. And I had read somewhere that Matt had gained some inspiration from the cartoon Pink Panther for his version of the Doctor...and y'know, I could see some of that debonair savoir faire in him. And I'm hoping that will also mean less manic screaming that we had gotten from David Tennant and Chris Eccleston.

As for the episode itself, it was a great start with the new companion, Amy Pond, literally growing up in the span of 10 minutes...growing up with the dream-turned-reality visions of the Doctor in her head. And she truly is a feisty one...reminds me a bit of young Sarah Jane and a slightly calmer Donna Noble. The Doctor may not suffer fools but neither does she.

All in all, it was a different and grand start to the new season. And the best thing it did was get me out of that funk from being chewed out by Paddy. I guess I'm stuck with this personality but I'll survive.
Sunday April 4, 9:34 a.m.

Got a bit of a tongue-lashing from Paddy after I had asked him whether I should be bringing money to the wedding as per Japanese custom. For future reference, never ask the host about this stuff. I should've asked The Cat, who'll be going with her family tomorrow...but I just thought that going straight to the source would be the best course. In any case, I now feel compelled to give be frankly honest, I don't want to considering my current financial situation, but...well, that's the way it goes.

In any case, there was a bit of bitching about on the Mixi forum amongst my Anglophile Mixi-tomo about John Barrowman, the lead in "Torchwood". Apparently, they said that he was being a bit of a "bitch" himself for ragging on Chris Eccleston's somewhat serious attitude in Season One of "Doctor Who". There is no doubt where their allegiances lie. Not that I'm a huge Barrowman fan by any means, and for that matter, I do like Eccleston...I kinda still see him as the poor man's Tom Cruise...but if Eccleston can opine that his time on DW was "mixed" at best, I think Barrowman can also give his opinion; perhaps I can only criticize that it's never all that great to air dirty laundry.

Today, I've just got The Jyuppies. The main reason that I'm at the I-Cafe is that I wanted to get going on the Croatian's essay, but he has yet to send it over. He did write the caveat "...hopefully done by Saturday...", so I'd been warned. Well, it looks like it'll be a rush job for Wednesday.
Saturday April 3, 5:30 p.m.

Waiting for Ray to be finished in the kitchen before I rinse out my glass and can.

Just read about Erykah Badu's brush with the law since she decided to peel off her clothes in an unaware neighbourhood in Dallas for a video. Well, I'll get the groaner out of the way first: Bad(u), Erykah! Bad(u)! And as for the stripping itself...I mean, that's not particularly original anymore. We've had everyone from Madonna to Alanis Morrisette to Bjork go au naturel for their art. Good heavens! Even Beth Ditto has gone starkers for a magazine. I don't think a lot of readers have had their sight fully restored after that one.

Was waiting for The Croatian to send over his latest proofreading assignment but it looks like he's gonna be later than earlier. So I'll have to make a visit to the neighbourhood I-Cafe tomorrow and print it out.
Saturday April 3, 4:40 p.m.

Yep, that's a small group of cherry blossoms whose picture I took back on Tuesday when I was walking through Kinshicho. O-Hanami is now in session throughout the weekend. The combination of the new fiscal year and the yearly tradition of meeting under the cherry trees to drink, eat and be merry has brought out the festive side of the well as the darker side on the subways.

I don't do much of that myself, since I don't drink very much and I'm not a big fan of sharing park space with thousands of other folks. I really haven't done O-Hanami in a number of years; I think the last time was with Tully, The Coffeemaker and a few other students from the ol' school in Ichigaya Park. You can be sure, though, that the masses have descended upon that park, Ueno Park and Chidorigafuchi, right by The Imperial Palace to eat, drink and be merry...and oh yeah, perhaps look at a few pink flowers right into the night. As for me, I'll be content by walking past them or just seeing them on TV.

The Intellectual, in his truncated time here today, talked about the effect of certain videos on young people. His timing was quite good, since there was a CNN feature on the notorious Japanese hentai computer games. "Hentai" stands for pervert, and the games feature some very nasty stuff such as the user being able to grope, and even rape/torture anime-style girls or women. My student felt that, though the games aren't suitable at all, clamping down on them is tantamount to censorship and therefore hinders free speech. He also stated that there has been no physical proof that such materials or the adult videos have had an effect on folks. I could've pointed out the case of the recently-executed child murderer Tsutomu Miyazaki, but then again, he was already batty probably before he started buying his first snuff videos. Still, I'm not sure if the case can be made that such porn has absolutely no effect on the weak-minded.

The Intellectual and I also spoke about the arrival of the iPad on American shores. The arrival had all the pomp and circumstance of a royal coronation. One female reporter for a computer magazine was just gushing as if she had met Johnny Depp. Even "The Japan Times" hasn't escaped the hype machine. An entire page was devoted to the iPad. Hmm...I've hinted to folks that I might be willing to break my self-imposed exile from personal computers in my home for this latest Apple contraption, but then again I am saving money for more important things.

The PA came by as well. No particular problems. And since then, I've just been doodling about on the Net. The bossman has even come in and gave both Ray and me a couple of sweet, juicy Fuji apples. However, I should be getting ready to take off for home pretty soon. I've also got to prep for The Jyuppies' lesson tomorrow afternoon.

Mr. TOEFL has reserved a lesson next week for the first time in almost a month. And MB has given me the word about getting some get-together going for Skippy's birthday later this month.

And speaking about royal about 2 a.m. JST Sunday morning, the 11th Doctor Who makes his official first appearance on BBC screens. I'm sure everyone in Great Britain will be slavering away to see him....and his most comely companion, Amy Pond.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Saturday April 3, 11:45 a.m.

The Intellectual is gonna be rushing in about a half-hour late, according to a phone call I got from him. I very rarely ever answer the phones since I've got no talent for answering them in a Japanese-language business context, but since the phone was ringing off the hook incessantly, I had to take it. Luckily, it was him and not some inquiry.

Looks like another old TV face has gone off this mortal coil. This time, it's John Forsythe of "Dynasty" fame. And he's also the voice of Charlie from "Charlie's Angels". Looks like Farrah won't be alone anymore.
Saturday April 3, 10:55 a.m.

First potentially decent day of the month. It may be fine for Ohanami for the masses (and I do mean, masses). Since the financial year started on the first, I've been seeing a number of young (and not so young) drunken types on the train; so far, no puddles of vomit on the subway platforms, but I'm sure that'll be rectified soon enough.

It's hard for me to say this in many ways, but I think I've actually across someone who's at least just as scatterbrained as the juku boss. Mr. Nice Guy came in last night a full half-hour ahead of schedule despite being repeatedly told by the boss herself that his appointment was supposed to be at 8:30. Not only that, but his wife has apparently lost the envelope that the boss gives to every student for them to pay their monthly tuition. And not only that, despite both being told by the boss that they are to inform her if they have to cancel classes ahead of schedule, both Mr. and Mrs. Nice Guy simply forgot. Even the boss was left at a loss for words when my newest student gave some rather blank-faced apologies. Not the brightest light bulb in the chandelier.

I have The Intellectual and The PA today. The Businesswoman was supposed to come as well, but she's cancelled.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Friday April 2, 1:15 p.m.
On the left is the ever-growing Tokyo Sky Tree, fated to become one of the tallest towers on Earth..perhaps only to be superceded by that Dubai tower. It's situated smack-dab in the middle of stodgy old Oshiage, although with this huge thing coming up in the world, it's hard to imagine that Oshiage will remain that way for much longer.
On the right is the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower, planned to be built in London just in time for the 2012 Olympics. It kinda looks like a cross between a psychotic's version of a roller coaster and a scrunched-up rubber band. It may not look all that graceful but it'll certainly be the talk of the town.

Thursday April 1, 8:32 p.m.

Well, I was an April Fool for about 30 seconds. I came across the headline on the Net: "Canada Buys Half of Hawaii", and was so gobsmacked that I even put it on my status bar in Facebook. Then, with the realization, came the superimposing of a "SUCKER" sign over my face just like in those old "Looney Tunes" cartoons. Still, I was able to spin the headline acknowledging my momentary lapse in sanity.

Aloha, eh?
Thursday April 1, 5:49 p.m.

I guess it isn't just the juku boss who got kinda scatterbrained about mixing up the schedule this week. After forcing Mr. Nice Guy to run to the juku for no reason at all on Tuesday night, it was Speedy's turn to screw up...but it was a joint effort. I found out when I came in...unusually...late afternoon today that Grandma FON did show up for her lesson, only to find out herself that I wasn't there. She had just naturally assumed that the staff would just log her in for the next lesson unless she said otherwise. I did mention to the bossman and Ray a couple of times earlier this week that it was strange that FON hasn't said anything about her next lesson, but they didn't act upon it. Not that I was all that put out, although I feel badly that FON showed up all this way for nothing. I was able to get some decent sleep in this morning as well as get some ironing done. Not that I mentioned this to the bossman who wouldn't have taken that news too well.

And I was fortunate that I also had the rest of the day off yesterday after Miss HGL's lesson since 001 wasn't available last night. I just sped back home and bought some new clothes at the neighbourhood stores, including the shoe shop. I've been very lucky in terms of location since my neighbourhood shoe store has a Big Shoe section. Since I'm a Size 9.5 (a Japanese 27.5 cm), I would be out of luck in a lot of other stores, but for this place, I was able to get something to my liking. The formal shoes weren't exactly anywhere too expensive but they should pass muster when it comes to Paddy's party next Monday. I also used up the rest of the coupons that Mom had sent me and bought up some briefs, a shirt that actually could fit my neck and a new belt to replace the one that's about to go under mitosis. Nice to have an evening and a morning to myself.

From next week, it should be an interesting one. On Monday, the Anime King and his Court will arrive on these shores for 2 weeks of fun and anime. I also got word from Automan that he and his new wife will be in the area, and there is Paddy's party.

I've been reading "Watching Anime, Reading Manga" by Fred Patten, that tome I had bought over at the Aoyama Book Center for a mere 500 yen, on the subway. It's been a good read for knowing about the history of Japanese pop culture slowly creeping into American society. They've covered the landings of classic anime such as "Uchusenkan Yamato", "Gatchaman" and "Macross", the appearance of legends such as Osamu Tezuka and the crusty Hayao Miyazaki at the conventions, and of course, the Simba-Kimba controversy involving "The Lion King" and Tezuka's "Jungle Taitei". The issue has long become moot in the past several years, especially when the stage version is doing so well on these shores. Not surprisingly, Patten and just about everyone else has concluded that Disney did borrow aspects of "Jungle Taitei" for "The Lion King", and that Disney has acted like a schmuck by not acknowledging this fact. From my point of view, it's unfortunate but not surprising. Back in the early 90s, Disney was riding on a tidal wave of renewed popularity due to its triple smash of "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty & The Beast" and "Aladdin" and prior boasts of making the most successful original animated feature ever with "The Lion King" just about had the beancounters and shysters of The Mouse House telling the other employees to keep mum. Also, with Michael Eisner at the helm...and I have heard about some of this apparently dilettantish ways...I wouldn't have been surprised if he had sent a memo to everyone not to so much as utter a syllable of Osamu Tezuka's name during press conferences. For me, it is enough to know that the truth is so very obvious.

I've just got The Music Man on tap tonight.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wednesday March 31, 12:50 p.m.

Spring may have finally come into the Kanto, some 10 days late. It feels balmier than it has been over the last several days so the Ohanami festivities can possibly begin from this weekend. Whatever the case, I'm sure the millions of people of this megalopolis will be very happy to start doffing off the heavy Winter wear.

Yesterday was basically a day off except for the three hours of juku classes. I scooted over to Oshiage on the Hanzomon Line; basically, it's an unremarkable shitamachi neighbourhood, except for the fact that there is a 350 m-and-climbing structure growing by leaps and bounds right in the middle. Yep, the Tokyo Sky Tree is making its way up in the world. Took some shots along with several other avid photogs. Then I walked down the main road as far as Kinshicho. There was a small mall there which looked appropriately modern, but there was also a promenade with plenty of cherry trees. It was a bit early for the salaried folks to start doing their Ohanami quite since it was still pretty chilly.

At the juku, Mr. White had the day off, but Sugar & Spice kept me on my heels. I think they are the only kids that I've ever had that I've actually been enjoying as students. But the only cost is my energy levels. Kinda glad that The Milds are truly very mild. The boss showed her scatterbrained side once more by insisting that Mr. Nice Guy had a make-up lesson tonight, even as going as far as calling his wife to get him down to the juku only to find out as he rushed breathlessly in that he hadn't needed to in the first place. She gleefully apologized and he gleefully accepted that apology, so I didn't vent too much steam.

I got word from both The Cornerette and Cozy that my work has passed muster with them, so I will expect some money from them in the couple of days. I've only got an hour with Miss HGL today; then I head off back home to get some clothes shopping done for next week's wedding party for Paddy. Luckily, I've got some remaining coupons at Daiei.

A number of new shows have been popping up on cable recently. I caught "Leverage", another show starring a former top movie actor, Timothy Hutton. I'll always remember him as the idealistic, doomed hero from the 80s movie "Taps", but here he's playing a grizzled, haunted former insurance investigator leading a group of con artists. It's in the same vein as "Mission: Impossible" and "The A-Team". Not a bad pilot. And I've been enjoying "Burn Notice" more and more. Tim Roth's "Lie To Me" will be starting up next week; would like to take a look at that, although The Satyr has said that it's really nothing special.

On the Japanese side of TV, they're into the Spring specials now. I caught "Pussuma", the late-night variety show starring loudmouth Yusuke Santamaria and formerly humiliated SMAP'per Tsuyoshi Kusanagi. But that little bit of idiocy that Kusanagi got into last year with him drunkenly ranting in the nude in a posh Roppongi neighbourhood has basically been forgotten. Last night's episode consisted of dusting off a classic variety show scam called the ne-dokkiri. Basically, it involves certain tarento ambushing other tarento in their hotel rooms and rousing them from sleep, just to show them what they look like without all of the cosmetics on. One of the victims was former Morning Musume leader, Hitomi Yoshizawa, for which the fans will pounce on and scour through YouTube, I'm sure. However, the best was saved for last with "victim" Egashira 2:50, a tarento who's basically an insane asylum resident allowed out on a permanent day pass apparently. In the last few minutes after getting roused from sleep, he crazily took off all his clothes, terrifying the female victims who had come along for the ride, including the aforementioned Yoshizawa, and then he even used a shaver to start maniacally clip his armpit and pubic hair. Only on Japanese late-night....will love to see the comments on this one over on the J-Pop forums.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday March 29, 7:55 p.m.

The cold weather continues. I'm still actually wearing my sweater, Winter jacket and longjohns today...and I don't think even back in Toronto that all three are usually necessary. So, I think it's safe to say that this Winter...and it isn't Winter anymore, surprisingly enough...was one of the coldest the Kanto has ever seen. At this rate, the cherry blossoms will end up freeze-dried.

Happy to say that I saved myself a trip to the I-Cafe yesterday and got that proofreading over to The Cornerette on Saturday after working on it for about 3 hours. Fortunately, the bossman hasn't said anything about the extra usage of electricity. Still have yet to hear from the lass. Basically, yesterday was a rare relaxer...actually slept for over 8 hours and took my time through the lesson-less day. Ended up watching episodes from Season One of the original "Mission: Impossible".

Today is probably going to be the busiest day of the week for me. I had Cozy for his early-morning session. Looks like the two translation jobs are good to go with him, so I can just send him the bill on Wednesday. Then, I saw Swank for the first time in about 3 weeks, and it'll be another month before I see her again due to work. The lucky thing, though, is that I got a referral from her to none other than her husband, so of course, the bossman is quite happy. I'll be seeing him in about 2 weeks.

The session with Swank lasted just an hour so I had time to browse through Aoyama Book Centre nearby in Roppongi. Didn't find anything there except for the weekly METROPOLIS magazine, but I did drop by their annex at the back of the building where they have discounted books. Ended up buying a book on anime/manga for just 500 yen...a sixth of the original cost. Really can't consider myself an otaku on either field...and don't think I've ever been one. I've only really liked certain anime such as "Space Cruiser Yamato" and "Macross"; I think I'm far more of a kayo kyoku fan, and now that's pretty much limited to the old days of the 80s and 90s. Still for that price, I can read up on what has grabbed the world's attention from Japan for the past few decades.

SIL was fine as usual. Just talked a lot about the past, as we usually do. Got back to Speedy's where I planned for a lot of the other lessons in the next couple of days such as the juku classes and for The Medicine Man. I hope my last lesson of the day will go rather smoothly. I'll actually be starting at the juku a couple of hours later than usual, since Mr. White is off tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I'll be checking out the slowly rising Tokyo Sky Tree near Oshiage Station since I've got no session with The Beehive. The rest of the week is looking a bit slow since I only have Miss HGL on Wednesday for just an hour. Just as well, since I'm planning to get a few clothes in preparation for next Monday's wedding party for Paddy.