Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sunday July 18, 3:16 p.m.

The Japan Meterological Agency officially declared an end to the Rainy Season yesterday, and the Summer took good advantage of that fact. It has been a searing start to the long weekend. Tokyo has now become a heat island once more. All that concrete is reflecting tons of heat into the shimmering air. I was up in Akihabara in the vain hopes that hokoten would start up today, but as of noon, vehicular traffic was still the norm on the main street. Well, if the media is gonna be able to keep its word, there's only one more Sunday left this month.

Yesterday was just a rare day keeping within the neighbourhood. I got my bimonthly haircut, but my barber informed me of another customer who may be looking for my services. I kinda feel like Michael Weston from "Burn Notice"...just picking up potential students from the strangest of places. I'll see if I can help but I'm not sure with my burgeoning schedule. If I get many more requests (I'd gotten a similar request from The Carolinan a few weeks ago), I may have to consider leaving Speedy's.

My rental agency tried to contact me yesterday while I was out. The young lady on the machine said that she would contact me again which gets me off the hook. I would prefer not to have too many dealings with them...I haven't had a good track record with these guys.

Ended up having Domino's Pizza for dinner last night. Just too hot to cook even though my AC was on, and since MB doesn't come over to the apartment for DVD Night anymore (apparently, my friend has an allergy to dumps), there's no real need for the delivery.

On Friday night, I watched one of Nicholas Cage's movies, "8 mm", the action-thriller involving his character searching for the killers in a snuff movie. I couldn't say it was one of his best flicks but at least it provided for a nice enough movie to catch during a holiday weekend.

The one reason I'm over here at the I-cafe today is that I'm supposed to be getting a translation assignment but I have yet to receive a file. I hope I get one before my stint is done here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday July 16, 4:21 p.m.

Natsu bate (Summer Lethargy) and The Shareholder...not a good combination. One of my newest students isn't exactly the fastest or most effusive of speakers. Took 3 minutes just to pick a topic to talk about. Kinda like The Medicine Man. Fridays are gonna feel pretty long if this keeps up.

Yup, this is probably the first truly hot day this year. It's probably around 35 C as we speak, and I'm ready to go to sleep.

Not sure but Skippy may be trying for Eggs N' Things for Sunday but she said that she doesn't want to wait outside in this weather. Can't blame her. But we'll see what develops. I've also, against my better judgement, taken on a short translation project so it won't be a totally free weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friday July 16, 1:19 p.m.

The Shareholder should be here in the next 10 minutes so I don't have much time. I enjoyed my night off from work. Just vegged in front of the telly...nothing better.

It's steaming out there today....probably the first truly scorcher of a day this year. I think it's up to 35 C right now. Had The Bass at the usual place in Funabashi. He gave a good tip about finding out if that Akiba hokoten will be coming back this weekend. I should search for the official Chiyoda Ward website.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thursday July 15, 1:42 p.m.

Grandma FON was her endearingly forgetful self. It's kinda like teaching Aunt Clara from "Bewitched". She'll be off again for the next several weeks at her cottage in Nagano Prefecture. It's obvious that her memory loss has worsened, though.

Meanwhile, we got a visit from an old friend...Miss HGL. She came back from her 3 months in Vancouver and just wanted to drop in. She had a good time there although she didn't particularly like her host family's food (no salt whatsoever) or the fact that she has to wait longer than 5 minutes for public transit. She'll be heading straight back to BC for another 3 months of English training.

Just The Artist to go.

Thursday July 15, 11:19 a.m.
Well, Happy 3,500th entry!

I caught that full trailer for the live version of "Uchusenkan Yamato" (aka Space Cruiser Yamato) on YouTube a few minutes ago. It did its job; it got me interested in the movie. The live version of one of anime's most beloved programmes seems to freely adopt influences from last year's "Star Trek", "Battlestar Galactica" and even a bit of "Matrix Revolutions". I've never been sure of his acting prowess but on the surface at least, Takuya Kimura is well cast as the young, headstrong and angry Susumu Kodai, and I could name a few old Japanese actors who could have played ancient Captain Okita, but Tsutomu Yamazaki fits the bill quite nicely (although my dream casting would've been Sir Sean Connery). The Yamato, in fact, looks fairly packed with the A-team of J-thespianism...well, I put that loosely....a mix of young and popular (Meisa Kuroki as Yuki Mori) with crusty veterans (Toshiro Yanagiba as Sanada). And Yuki's character is not only getting a facelift in the job department but a couple of the male characters in the original anime are getting gender changes, which I think is a step in the right direction. After all, I think it's beyond suspension of disbelief to have just one woman amongst a crew of men and not have a Tailhook scandal.
In any case, I'm looking forward to December 1st.
Thursday July 15, 10:11 a.m.

The whole gang's here. Speedy just came in. Just told me that he's finally gotten the postcard from Immigration that he can get his Permanent Residency. I have told him that he will still need to go there every 3 years to renew his Re-Entry Permit...the Immigration Centre has to have something to continue to drag in the permanent residents.

I read off an Akihabara website an opinion from one of the civic leaders for the area that he's absolutely against seeing the hokoten (Pedestrians' Paradise) re-opened. There still hasn't been any official word when hokoten will start operations again on Sunday; I was hoping that this Sunday would be the day since it's in the middle of a long weekend, but I think that possibility is drying up fast. As for that fellow's opinion, he mentioned fears that a similar incident of spree-killing would was 2 years ago that a psycho went on a rampage and killed and injured over a dozen people in the area which brought about the end of hokoten. I can understand his feelings and fears since he's probably a shopowner and a leader of shopowners in Akiba and would rather not face another attacker. Still, I have to disagree with him; I do agree that there will always be the possibility of another nutso going on a killing spree but I don't think we should let that fear ruin what was one of the unique attractions of the neighbourhood. 9/11 occurred almost 9 years ago...I don't see New York City being shut down. And shutting down a tourist activity hasn't stopped the tourists from coming in and will not prevent a similar killing spree from happening. As the saying goes, if someone is that determined to kill, no security device or policy will prevent it from happening. The cancellation of hokoten just means that any potential targets for a killer are just herded back onto the sidewalks instead of being spread out on the street.
Thursday July 15, 9:55 a.m.

Finished with The Patent Attorney. Some of those documents of his...just too much technical stuff for my brain to handle in the morning.

Miss Efficiency and Ray have come in for the Master-Padawan training sessions. Ray has now got less than a week left.

Thinking about spending another night in Yokohama sometime in August. Need that rest...but I do have that long weekend coming up.
Thursday July 15, 8:25 a.m.

I've been enjoying reading Syd Field's "Screenplay -- The Foundations of Screenwriting". Not that I would write my own screenplay and throw it to some reader in Hollywood...millions of people do that and so it's basically a lottery. However, it's given me some new eyes to see movies with. Now, I've got terms such as "Plot Points 1 and 2" and "Inciting Incident" seared into my brain. I haven't yet seen any of my DVDs armed with such knowledge but I can already identify the things Mr. Field has indicated through my memories of certain movies I've already seen; anything from "Star Trek" to "Casablanca".

The Patent Attorney should be coming in any minute. After him, it's just Grandma FON and The Artist later on in the afternoon. The important thing is that I've got a free Thursday night in which I hope to catch up on some ironing and sleeping.
Wednesday July 14, 8:30 p.m.

001 was another laugh riot. Just gabbed on Aiba-kun but also on the upcoming live version of "Space Cruiser Yamato". We got started on the topic thanks to a photo of Takuya Kimura as Deputy Captain Susumu Kodai in full uniform. Then we saw the teaser trailer of the series which kinda featured the Yamato in battle looking a bit like a scene out of "Battlestar Galactica", the new series. Well, that looks somewhat promising although I'm still not sure what the characterization will be like.

I'm just spinning my wheels for another half hour before heading home. But Speedy is putting on the dog-and-pony show for a prospective client, and he wants to introduce me to her since I'll probably be the main teacher. As long as I'm out of here by 9.

Still gathering my thoughts about "Odoru Dai Sosasen 3" from Monday morning. Basically, I'll have to put it as the least successful of the three movies with the 2nd movie being my personal favorite. It just seemed a bit too maudlin and featured too many new characters too quickly and left a couple of veteran characters out in the desert. I should've felt something was up when the movie started with one of the minor musical themes rather than the big techno theme; there was something that felt minor about the whole proceedings. Methinks that the producers hit the bucket one too many times. And there didn't seem to be all that much hype about the movie despite the fact that it has become a hit financially.

Just spent talking with my newest student, Miss Sony. She works for Sony Life Insurance nearby and will be following 001 every Wednesday for the foreseeable future, so I gather that those empty Wednesdays will be a thing of the past. Kinda interesting how when one student flies the coop, another one comes in. Hopefully Miss Sony's lessons will feel more substantial.

Tomorrow will have The Patent Attorney, Grandma FON and then The Artist. Grandma Dynamite has once again cancelled and will be away for the remainder of the month.
Wednesday July 14, 5:56 p.m.

Had The CEO for what I think will be the last time...just the way she thanked me at the end had a certain finality to it. It was just as well. Had fun talking to her but it just didn't seem that she was all that committed to the cause.

On the good news front, The Croatian informed me that he's paying me his latest amount for all that proofreading.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wednesday July 14, 2:40 p.m.

Saw Swank for the first time in a couple of weeks at the usual place. She was late by about 15 minutes since she had some paperwork to fill out before coming to Roppongi Hills. It was basically the same old chatter.

I've got The CEO and 001. Like Swank, I haven't seen these ones in some time. The CEO has been away for about a month, and today is the day she decides whether she'll renew with us or not. Can't say for sure what she will do. The CEO is truly a social butterfly...she'll flit amongst various interests but won't stay with one for that long in my estimation, so it is very possible that she'll decide to head for greener pastures.

001 has also been away for a couple of weeks. I'm sure there'll be a lot of Aiba news. The Businesswoman was also due to show up for a rare weeknight lesson but she cancelled til next month last night.

Just heard that George "The Boss" Steinbrenner passed away earlier this morning. When his 80th birthday was announced at Yankee Stadium back on Independence Day, he basically got a round of apathy from the audience. Now that he's dead, that announcement might actually get a huge round of applause. He was not an easy person to like.

Yesterday was the day for getting a lot of omiyage. I ended up getting a ton of dark American cherries from Mrs. Travel via Mrs. Tulip back in Toronto. Tulip is apparently heading back here to Japan for a vacation and the bunch of us will be having a lunch party in her honor next month. Then at the end of the day, I got the Mauna Loa Macadamia Chocolates from Mr. Nice Guy due to his trip to Hawaii. Ostensibly, he and his wife were there to get their Green Cards renewed at an immigration centre in Honolulu but that took all of 5 minutes; the rest of their week was spent frolicking on Waikiki Beach and munching at buffets.

Just heard from Ray that The CEO will be 30 minutes late for her lesson.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday July 12, 9:46 p.m.

Well, Medicine Man pulled off a dotakyan about half an hour ago, so I'm now finished. Very sporting of him to cancel so suddenly so that I can still get my money, but then again, he IS a doctor so I'm sure the loss won't harm him too badly. I won't see him for at least 2 weeks since next Monday is Marine Day.

Will be a busy day tomorrow since I've got The New Yorker squeezed in between The Beehive and the juku classes. I'm meeting her at Nihombashi because of time; there is that cafeteria in the Corredo complex there where I used to meet The OL a few years ago. If that place is full, there is always the Starbucks within the subway station itself.

Another HMV bit the dust last month. The big one in Yurakucho went under in June which means that there is no more HMV presence in the Ginza area. According to the sign, the nearest one is in Ikebukuro, although I'm not sure how long that will stay there since the flagship store in Shibuya will be shutting its doors in mid-August.
Monday July 12, 8:56 p.m.

Miss Genki and I basically had a chat session in lieu of a textbook lesson since she had a letter that she wanted me to proofread and then the two of us had both seen "Odoru Dai Sosasen 3". She and I were on the same wavelength in terms of our impressions on the movie. Rather maudlin entry...the second movie is probably the best one of the series. In a way, I guess this entry seems to be the "Indy 4".

I think La Fille really needs to get her act together when it comes to planning or cancelling parties. Miss London only found out just now (when I told her) that Ray's goodbye party for the 18th had to be canned due to lack of committment from several people including Speedy.

Still haven't heard any official word from Akihabara whether or not hokoten will be returning. I hope it is.
Monday July 12, 7:09 p.m.

It's feeling like transition here at Speedy's. It seems as if Ray is finishing her time here this week as she continues to train Miss Efficient. Ray's been sounding about as authoritative as I've ever heard her in 2 years and perhaps sounding like her "real" self outside of work.

I guess it hasn't just been the events in "Odoru Dai Sosasen 3" that have shown transition. The World Cup is now over with Spain defeating Holland in an appropriately nerve-shredding final....down to shootouts. Unfortunately since I had an early class this morning with Cozy, there was no way for me to catch the game since it aired here at 3:30 a.m. Paul the Octopus has been amazingly accurate in his predictions and I gather that his chances of being made into calamari are now nil.

Also, the Nagoya Tournament started without NHK and sponsors...and without a full house, rather unprecedented for an opening day. Still, the show had to go on and it did with yokozuna Hakuho leading the way with a win. And of course, I was bombarded with election results for the Upper House last night. Unsurprisingly, the LDP got some of their groove back from the DPJ. I'm sure Yukio Hatoyama is definitely gonna be getting some cold shoulders now. Still, I think the key guy is now leader Watanabe of Your Party. Of all of the third pillar parties, Your Party picked up quite a few seats so he may now have some pull. I'm sure the analyzes and post-mortems will be going on all week.

Miss Genki said that she would be late by about half an hour.

Monday July 12, 5:05 p.m.
Well, thanks to a sudden cancellation by Swank last night and the extended absence of SIL, I had plenty of time to see the only Japanese movie that I am willing to see....and that is "Odoru Dai Sosasen" or "Bayside Shakedown 3". The series has returned after 7 years (and a total of 13 years after its original premiere on TV) and this new entry reflects a number of changes concerning the fictional Bayside Precinct.
Yuji Oda is back in his immortalized role as Sergeant Shunsaku Aoshima, charmingly feckless but very just-minded policeman in the Odaiba district of Tokyo (he would make a fine Japanese Doctor Who). Over the past decade, he has seen himself go up the ranks to achieve Sub-Section Chief...albeit as just the organizer of the big move from the old HQ to a spanking-new building. Inexplicably, the move has gotten a huge amount of press (as would be the case in a Japanese trendy drama), which has increased the stress factor on Aoshima. But then come a couple of mysterious crime-free crimes, a possible cancer scare for still-fairly young Aoshima and finally the return of an old terrifying enemy...and she comes with acolytes this time.
After watching this latest entry, there is quite a bit to talk about here. There's a lot that's the same but also some big differences...a bit schizoid. Concerning the former, the story follows in the same way that virtually all of the previous two movies, the TV specials and the original series followed: a regular day in Bayside is wrecked by some sort of mysterious crime and further complicated by political machinations involving the higher tainted brass which then leads to an epiphany of what is truly just, just before the crime is solved. Also the director has stuck to his guns (pun intended) and continues to refuse any sort of least overtly...any shooting has taken place offscreen.
As for the differences, the main cast has been expanded and changed...and aged. At some points, Aoshima looked properly plumpily rumpled, and The Three Amigos, the three sycophantic, comically villainous leaders of Bayside Precinct, looked like they were ready to be shipped out to pasture. And it was obvious that the true villain of the piece, Manami Hyuga (played by former aidoru Kyoko Koizumi) has changed from the pixie-ish psychopathic killer that made her debut back in the first movie in 1998 to a warped middle-aged goddess.
In fact, I would say that the overarching theme of "Odoru Dai Sosasen 3" is that of change and the passage of time. And perhaps the biggest fans of the series may have left the theatre feeling fairly wistful. This is really Aoshima's movie. Most of his foils have largely become distanced due to promotion. Tetsuro Yanagiba, as ever-tense elite cop Muroi, has been given a mere extended cameo and the banter between him and of the main things about the limited to just one short scene near the end. Aoshima's mentor, Heihachiro Waku, has gone off to that police academy in the sky...his family replacement is his super-avid nephew, armed with his late uncle's beloved notebook of wisdom. The late Chosuke Ikariya is what is most missed in this movie, although his voice pops up at one point. Basically, only his combative partner, Sumire Onda, is left to give him advice/a kick in the pants. The rest of the active cast are the veteran juniors and some new officers consisting of Yuki Uchida, Shun Oguri and the son of a former Prime Minister of Japan. Along with some other missing old characters and virtually missing ones, things are definitely changing. Even the frenetic opening credits with the familiar techno theme is missing.
A lot of the comic elements have also gone missing, but the presence of an almost "X-Files" main plot in the 2nd half of the movie concerning psycho Manami counters it nicely. However, the subplot of Aoshima mistakenly diagnosed with lung cancer was a cheap device which should've been excised. Also, the subtitle of the movie can be translated as "Release The Bastards" referring to all of the people who were put away by Aoshima in previous episodes, movies and specials. But only Manami gets full billing while a couple of others only get cameos and the other 5 or 6 are just shown in pictures.
At the special preview a couple of weeks ago, Yuji Oda announced that there would be a fourth movie but I'm not sure if it will be the same ol' "Bayside Shakedown". However, the Publicity Assistant told me that the third movie has become a huge hit, so most likely the next entry will be on its way.