Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sunday December 12, 3:04 p.m.

Yup, I'm actually writing this over at Speedy's. Of course, noone else is here except for me, but I had to get a copy of a test for Cozy and some exercise sheets for Kirk tomorrow night. Should be on my way home in about 5 minutes.

I'm really into the final days before The Great White North. Still haven't completed the Xmas shopping, but then again I'm never done until the last minute anyways, so it's business-as-usual. Woke up early to get over for my last lesson with Yajima for the year. He had just come back from his first business trip to Germany. It was fairly arduous for him since he was stuck on a plane for 12 hours and then it was basically a city a day for him. He was quite happy to be back in relatively warm Tokyo since Germany was definitely in the grips of a snowy start to Winter. It was a pretty easy groove with him today.

Then I had to do my final poke into Tower Records in Shibuya. Of course, the place was packed with the young of Tokyo. Couldn't find anything that would be appealing to the parents in terms of DVDs so I just used the final points of my point card to grab reading material for the flight home at a hugely discounted price. This is probably one of the last places on Earth that a point card for a CD shop still exists.

Anyways, gotta get home and get some washing and ironing done. It'll probably be spam night tonight for dinner....something simple and delicious with rice. Also, Mom will be calling to make final confirmations before I get back. I was happy to get the last of the nengajo done last night.

Well, tomorrow's the final classes at Speedy's for the year. It'll be a busy about 5 or 6 lessons on tap.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Saturday December 11, 2:31 p.m.

Officially, I finished my final Saturday shift here at Speedy's. It'll be sad to no longer see Mrs. Prissy and The Publicity Assistant but I will appreciate feeling like I can actually get days off fairly regularly. The ladies were kind to get me some parting gifts.

I got a late request from Ol' Sam's wife for a kid's textbook. Shouldn't be much of a problem since I have to drop by Kinokuniya one more time on Monday before the trip home.

Saturday December 11, 12:37 p.m.
And a Happy Birthday to Mom out there.
Met Ms. Viva for the 2nd time in our foodie buddy outing series yesterday in the Tokyo Dome area. Last time, it was Foo Foo; this time, it was Bubba Gump for some pure Americana.
Didn't have the famed shrimps, but I did enjoy the fish n' chips. Bubba Gump is quite a bit more generous in the pieces of fish, and they were surprisingly juicy. Viva had her Seafood Special. But the two of us had to share the Alabama Mud Pie. I actually had to measure the height to make sure that we were indeed eating someting that was 14 cm high. With all that we ate, I didn't have to touch food again for the rest of the evening.
Which was just as well since I was pretty much on the run for the rest of the evening. Had Mr. Swank for his final lesson of the year. It turned out that I didn't need to help him with his speech for his business trip to Vietnam next week since the organizer had apparently found a Japanese interpreter. Still, there was plenty of stuff on the plate to keep the lesson filled and entertaining. I lent him my DVD set of "Star Trek" time travel episodes.
Ran over to Urayasu to teach The Journo. He was also very entertaining. He's quite the raconteur of his adventures in places like Chile and New Orleans. And of course, he kept me informed of the trials and tribulations of Japan's currently most idiotic kabuki actor, Ebizo Ichikawa. Not surprisingly, The Journo was very leery of Ichikawa's somewhat vague and zombie-like delivery.
Also had my final lesson with The Restauranteur. Very nice way to finish my Fridays for the year.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Tuesday December 7, 4:35 p.m.

I just saw that Toronto newscasting legend, Mark Dailey, died last night from cancer. Ah, 57 years of age, way too young. I always liked his stentorian baritone delivery, and for all intents and purposes, he was the voice of City-TV.

It's kinda penultimate day professionally speaking. I had my second-last session with The Beehive this morning and then I've got my second-last sessions with Mr. White and The Milds later today. The juku boss has been wondering aloud of actually getting serious with her English studies, so I showed her a copy of the text that I'd been using with folks like Mr. White and Cozy for the past year. That copy was Book 1 of World Link; she said that it looked kinda easy. I kept my tongue firmly in opinion is that she'll need that book just to strengthen her all-over-the-place structure, but I compromised by saying that will bring over the aptitude test for her to try before any text is decided upon.

Last night, over at Speedy's, I had my first official class with Kirk. It was a good session; we had a hearty talk on Japanese politics. There was no copy of his designated text other than the staff copy. I rolled my eyes at this slight and just gave Kirk that copy. Of course, when I told the bossman, he kinda mewled that he had needed it for his class this morning. Well, Kirk has been signed up for that text for over a week. Why hadn't a proper text come for him within those 7 days? Sometimes, I just want to kick him. However, basically, I had to race home, take my own copy of the text, make copies at the nearest conbini, race home and then try to fax A3 sheets through my own A4 faxphone. Not surprisingly, I got a message from him this morning that the faxes didn't come out too well. Well, I tried. In any case, I would like to give him my suggestion but I'm afraid that he will treat this like a Kennedy-Nixon debate and give a voluminous rebuttal.

Monday December 6, 6:00 p.m.
Yep, the pictures say it all...I'm gonna be geeky in this entry.
"Farewell, Mother Earth...."
I think anyone who grew up in the late 70s and early 80s in North America know about "Star Blazers", aka "Space Battleship Yamato". A lot of my classmates and I in junior high school ran home daily to catch the latest episode of one of the most beloved serial anime anywhere and of all time, especially when the ship fired the almighty awe-inspiring Wave Motion Gun at the dastardly Gamelans. And of course, the theme song by Isao Sasaki always got us otaku and geek on goosebumps so big that we actually gained height. And I'm sure all of us wondered if there would ever be a live-action version of it.
Well, wonder no more. On December 1, the live-action version finally premiered everywhere in Japan. And I finally caught it at Roppongi Hills this afternoon after my lesson with Swank. You might say it was the "Ocean's Eleven" of Japanese sci-fi, although I liked the comment made by one other blogger who mentioned that this was the first example of live-action Japanimation that actually starred real Japanese (well, not really...there was "Casshern"). However, getting back to my "Ocean's 11" analogy, "Space Battleship Yamato" stars pretty much everyone familiar on Japanese TV. Of course, there is Takuya Kimura from SMAP as angry Acting Captain Susumu Kodai, Meisa Kuroki from tons of commercials and dramas as a kick-butting and brooding Yuki Mori, Toshiro Yanagiba from "Odoru Dai Sosasen" as the stalwart Chief Science Officer Shiro Sanada and Tsutomu Yamazaki as the crusty but doomed Captain Juzo Okita.
Well, what did I think? Y'know...taking into consideration the local industry, the budget and the acting in a typical Japanese production, the live version of "Yamato" probably is as good as it gets over here. No, I guess my comment is a bit backhanded but really, it wasn't a bad adaptation. The effects were indeed pretty top notch...although from seeing them, you can't help but get reminded of "Independence Day", last year's "Star Trek" and the new "Battlestar Galactica"; but heck, I'll take that over the cruddy SFX in "Star Trek V" any century. Especially in the first few minutes, and when the Yamato fired the Wave Motion Gun for the first time, I have to admit that I did get those old goosebumps going on all cylinders again.
As for the story, this was a rather long movie...going to 2.5 hours but it did go fast. I was surprised that that much time had elapsed when I looked at my watch at the end of the movie. It just seemed to be an amalgam of the first two anime movies more than a true reboot. All I will say beyond that is that it's very unlikely that there will be a sequel. However, the producers and director did a commendable job of trying to fit certain scenes and have a bit of acting meat for all of the performers.
And speaking of the acting....well, it is typical Japanese TV acting: overly melodramatic and screaming. Never accuse a Japanese production of Oscar-baiting ambitions. Ironically, Takuya Kimura was perfect as Susumu Kodai since the original character was an angry young man, and KimuTaku is the go-to guy for angry young men roles. Having seen my share of J-dorama, I still had to wince at a few scenes since, for supposed settings of gunmetal gray, I could see a lot of brown oak being spat out. However, I really did enjoy Yamazaki's rendition of Captain Okita and there was one scene in which he played it for comedic effect.
The music? There were hints and one half-rendition of the legendary theme but "Star Blazers" and "Yamato" fans may have left a bit disappointed that the orchestra didn't unleash a full version. My eyes were still a-poppin' that Aerosmith's Steve Tyler consented to his very first solo for "Love Lives". The score basically served the story dutifully rather than come up with various themes.
For me, the highlight scenes were, of course, the ones showing The Wave Motion Gun and the other weapons firing on full, and one that could probably have the otaku Stateside applauding with a cameo by Analyzer (IQ9 in "Star Blazers") in Terminator mode. And there were even a few scenes which had me lumping up...a bit.
In the relevant Mixi community, I saw that a lot of the members were raving about the movie. I can't say that I am one of them. It's pretty much along the lines on how The Publicity Assistant stated it. "Space Battleship Yamato" isn't great but it isn't horrible.