Monday, August 27, 2012

Neil Armstrong -- The Man on the Moon

Hero
(courtesy of snapper31
from Flickr)
Monday August 27, 11:56 p.m.

It seemed strangely apropos to hear about the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong while the FanExpo was going downtown during the weekend. While the rest of us guys (attendees, stars, artists) were having our love-in with science-fiction, here was a guy who had been reluctantly thrust into a permanent limelight because of science fact.

His name has become so famous, so seared into our collective consciousness, that hearing those two names said together has become virtually mundane historically. Of course, that's the guy who went to the moon. We all say it as a matter of historical and scientific fact, as if Neil Armstrong was more myth than man, as if he didn't really exist. But of course, he existed and lived, but the myth grew because the man didn't want to have anything to do with the celebrity of what he had accomplished.

And yet in 1969, he did what had been considered impossible. He and Buzz Aldrin went on a mission that supposedly had only a 50% chance of success (i.e. survival). They were alone out there heading to Earth's only natural satellite, and yet they were probably the most-watched two people in history up to that point. And when Armstrong took that first step onto the Moon and uttered those legendary words, the life of everybody on his planet of origin changed. People didn't have to fantasize about going to space, about going to an alien piece of rock anymore. Armstrong and Aldrin and all those people at NASA proved it was possible. People needn't have dreamed anymore; if they wanted to , they could go as well. Armstrong was truly a hero in that sense.

My regret was that I was too young to remember the Moon landing.

Now, taking a page out of my fellow Canadian, Diana Krall, who played this song at a concert in LA in honour of Armstrong, I leave you with another version by Kei Kobayashi.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quiet Weekend

Jamie Bamber
Monday August 27, 1:45 a.m.

Well, I took a look at my analytics and discovered that there was someone looking for Jamie Bamber at the FanExpo, so I've decided to be nice and uploaded a fuzzy photo of him. He's definitely gone a lot more Californian in his hairstyle.

I've had my first totally at-home weekend in a few weeks. No one was calling me up to go out, and there were no Anime King trips this weekend. Next weekend should be a whole different animal, though, since it will be the Labour Day Weekend, and there is that mass migration to the Burlington Ribfest.

It was a good thing that nothing was going on this time around since I've been given my first massive translation assignment. Nothing but tax returns from Japanese to English. My due date isn't for several days, but the assignment editor told me that the client may want some partial uploads of completed stuff within the next few days. It's pretty arduous though. The big boss will be returning from vacation tomorrow so he may be contacting me about what my decision is about accepting that big hunk of translation software. Luckily, my brother has secured a new laptop for me so it's just a matter of waiting one more week.

I think I've also been lucky in that I haven't been contacted by the school for the last number of days. Again, I'm not particularly sure what the higher-ups there think of me since I have declined as many teaching assignments as I have accepted them. But as I've hinted, although the students are nice enough folks, I've never particularly settled in there all that comfortably.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fan Expo 2012

South Building of Toronto Convention Centre
Saturday August 25, 9:32 a.m.

Finally got that chance to head over to Fan Expo 2012 yesterday. I'd heard on CP24 that it's become the 3rd-largest event of its kind in North America...and I can believe it. It wasn't too bad in the morning, although there was a minor annoyance when I tried to get into the South Building entrance and staff told me I had to go through the North Building to redeem my e-ticket. Coulda told me that online, man. But by the afternoon, it felt like old times on the Tokyo subway line during rush hour. The weather was very cooperative, though.


Truly a Canadian sci-fi convention.
The first area I passed through was the enormous food court....just one of three. The organizers were ready for the hungry hordes. Doing cosplay and waiting for autographs can make a fellow rather peckish. I got to the Expo at about 11, so things weren't too busy as of yet....I decided (and rightfully so) to grab a bite to eat before things got nuts there. I ended up not with a HOT dog, but a Tepid Dog. I chowed it down but was worried for about an hour whether I would end up with some sort of gastrointestinal distress. But it seems like my GI tract was up to the challenge. The food was mostly of the basement-friendly variety but I did see an Edo Sushi stand at Food Court 2. Actually, by chance, I ran into an old acquaintance from the Japanese Consulate just before I entered JET. Apparently, he's still working there as one of the veteran advisors.

Artists' Row
This was only my 2nd sci-fi convention that I'd ever attended. The first one was back a couple of years ago when I went to a "Star Wars"-based gala at Makuhari Messe in Chiba-ken. It was a bit more loosey-goosey over there...Anthony (C-3PO) Daniels was more than happy to walk around the area with his video cam while the adoring crowds surrounded him with cellphone cameras. Fan Expo was definitely a tighter affair....everyone knew where they were to be placed depending on their category: sci-fi, anime, horror, etc. 




Yep, she's the one....Sailor Moon!
All of the various organizations, artists and celebs make a convention interesting and informative, but ultimately, what makes it fun are the visitors. I think it was worth my $33 just to see all of the folks who let their inner geek out and play dress up. Every convention just needs to have a Sailor Moon attend. I saw my share of Starfleet officers, Sailor Scouts and Doctors Who walking up and down the aisles.








Christopher Lloyd in profile

Director John Carpenter

John Barrowman
Yup, there were celebs in force out there. Arguably, two of the most famous were Stan Lee and Christopher Lloyd. As at any other convention, you gotta shuck out the bling to get their autographs and even more for a personalized photo with the star. And of course, as at any other convention, people will try to get that photo for free with the wonders of cellphone technology. The convention crew was pretty good-natured about trying to discourage people from taking random shots, although there was the one crew Nazi. Still, I could get Doc Brown on the DeLorean later in the afternoon.


The strictness of the no-photo policy varied greatly though, depending on where you were. For example, I could get a very clear one of director John Carpenter without getting tackled by a crew member. But when it came to Stan Lee, his area was triple-teamed by security...there was absolutely no way he was gonna get paparazzi'ed.









And there's John Barrowman from "Doctor Who"and "Torchwood". I also saw LeVar Burton, Jamie Bamber and Nana Visitor but just couldn't get a shot of those folks. The lines were long and many in this area. Going back to that "Star Wars" convention in Chiba, there was the same setup for the celebs there, too. It was weird seeing a huge snake-like line for the guy who had played Darth Maul, while Peter (Chewbacca) Mayhew was all by his lonesome a couple of tables down....he was just reading a book. No chance of that at FanExpo. The love was spread out pretty equally.


Gotta Dance!

Dang, Sylvester McCoy, you've been regenerating, have you?

"This isn't the droid I am looking for."
Yup, plenty of stuff to do besides playing video games, gawking at celebs and perusing comic books. There has to be some sort of physical activity. Just put aside any inhibitions....and pride...at the door and dance away all that pizza, pop and pretzels.











The "Doctor Who" group was very well-represented at the Expo; they were out in the main foyer, along with the Ontario Ghostbusters (Who ya gonna call, eh?). The members are probably getting fairly chuffed about the premiere of the new season next week. I saw a number of "Star Trek"paraphernalia here and there but there didn't seem to be any central Trekkie booth. May be time to get that next "Star Trek"movie off and running fast.





The Dancer and her family showed up at around 1 p.m. They have a much more logical way of navigating through the convention; just go up and down the rows. I've always been more for the randomized method of ambling to wherever strikes my fancy. The kids were looking for stuff for Halloween, and so one of them got her elf ears while both kids got ocarinas.

My four hours at FanExpo was fun and raucous. I could be enticed to wear a costume next time around, even in the summer heat. Maybe I will shuck out the big bucks for that autograph. I can only imagine what the San Diego ComiCon is like. But now I think I will aim for Anime North next year.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just Wild About Harry

Atypically clothed today.
Courtesy of askmelissa.com
from Flickr
Thursday August 23, 10:18 a.m.

I guess Prince Harry can be considered to be the Charlie Sheen of the British Royal Family, although I'm not sure how Prince William would react to being tagged as Emilio Estevez, and Prince Charles is definitely no Martin Sheen. In any case, in the same way that the folks on "Family Guy"like to say, "Oh, that Quagmire!", the United Kingdom is probably saying the same thing about the little prince (or big....depending on if you were able to see those photos unpixillated).

But I gotta say that even when Harry loses (not just his clothing), he wins. I mean, Strip Billiards with a pair of willing women?! The only problem is that the adage "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" apparently no longer applies with the advent of cellphone cameras. I guess being a member of an insular family means that he may not have been aware of the leaps in communication technology (yes, I'm being sarcastic...in the finest subtle British tradition). And as for his position in the Family: "Me? I'm just third in line to the Throne....whatever..".

Most likely, his commanding officer will tear a few strips off of him...which may not even compare to his dressing down by the Queen. But later on, Prince Charles and Prince William will take him aside to Balmoral, and ask him the vital question: "How was it....REALLY?"

Mind you, I was actually witness to a strip game a couple of decades ago. Two of my friends, a man and a woman, at a New Years' Eve party decided to have a drunken Rock-Paper-Scissors game, strip-style. Unfortunately, the wrong gender lost everything.

Walking Around Front and Lakeshore

Thursday August 23, 9:42 a.m.

Well, after getting the initial report from the doc about being overweight....as if that was actually a revelation (I actually had to convince myself the bathroom mirror was a real one and not the circus one), I decided to make an effort to move around yesterday. So, I killed two birds with one stone and headed down to the St. Lawrence Market to pick up some St. Urbain bagels
Of course, losing weight being my new mission, the first thing I did was make a beeline toward The Carousel Bakery and buy a Chicken Parmigiana sandwich with Coke. Curse my counter-intuitiveness! At $6.20 for the sandwich, I think it is well worth the money. There is heart that goes into this meal: the hot or sweet peppers and the zestfully crusty bread. I could even eat the sandwich without the chicken!

"Thank yuh, thank yuh verra much!"
Now, as for that second bird I killed with my rock, I decided to do a 2-hour walk all around the Lakeshore area. When I went out of St. Lawrence Market, I noticed that some of those buskers were already showing their wares, even though Buskerfest isn't officially open until noon today. There were the usual people on stilts, jugglers and acrobats, but there was also Silver Elvis, getting set up beside his red-and-white convertible.
It's gonna be a great weekend down on Front St. Buskerfest to the east, and FanExpo to the west.



Yup, I can imagine this place as the venue
for a sci-fi convention.
Well, there was even a small sparrow I blew up with another pebble. Since I will be going to the annual Fan Expo (for the first time) with The Dancer and her family tomorrow, I also opted to check out where and how to get to the South Building of the Convention Centre where the Expo will be held. I took the long way over by going through the North Building and going up escalators to the skyway linking the two buildings together. Most likely, though, I will be taking Simcoe Street down when I get there tomorrow. Not sure what I'll be expecting when I attend it a little more than 24 hours from now. Being a geek fest, I may need to be aware of a lack of personal hygiene.


I continued my walk in earnest by going all the way down to the Lakeshore and heading west toward Exhibition Place. Man, has this area all along the waterfront (Lake Ontario) metamorphosized over the past 20 years! Nothing but condos everywhere. It looks like one of the dreamscape scenes from "Inception". When I was a kid, the area was just nothing but an industrial wasteland with smelly sugar mills. I saw one on my walk...I guess as a memento of what was.





I finally made it as far as The Princess Gates, the entrance way for The Canadian National Exhibition. I may head there sometime next week. I hadn't been there in well over a decade, and frankly at my age, nostalgia can be established as a glandular secretion now. I hear that the theme food this year is bacon; not just of the Canadian kind, but all kinds...and in all kinds of food, including those of the dessert variety. Not sure if I'm quite that adventurous anymore.

Perhaps, I was a bit too ambitious with my 2 hours. By the time I returned to Front Street, I was in serious need of hydration and my left hip was starting to bother me. I dropped in on a Timmy's and glugged down an Iced Latte before heading back home. I'll just aim for 90 minutes next time....which I will attain tomorrow as I make my way thought a FanExpo.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Goldstone Gold

Tuesday August 21, 10:52 a.m.

Last Thursday, I met up with Shard for our monthly chat on our blogging projects. After a couple of hours at the Starbucks on Queen & Richmond, we decided to walk up Spadina for lunch in Chinatown. When you consider the hefty prices for merely fair fare at the world's most famous coffeehouse chain, getting a simple but good & inexpensive lunch just a few blocks north is a no-brainer.

We ended up at Goldstone, a Chinese eatery on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina, the main intersection of downtown Chinatown. I ordered the $4.95 bowl of BBQ Pork on Rice. Now, that's good eating! And the crazy thing is that the food came out in less than 5 minutes after ordering. I don't think a restaurant has quite seared itself into my memory for good reasons so quickly.

Blood and Urine

Tuesday August 21, 10:34 a.m.

It was an early wake-up call for Dad and me as we made our way to the nearby medical centre. For me, it was the second part to my first medical checkup in several years after yesterday's initial physical. Not too painful at all. After all was said and done, we were out and back at home within an hour.

Giving blood hasn't been an issue with me ever since I was five, although I noticed that the tech took away four vials' worth of the red stuff....I think even early 2000s Angelina Jolie would've swooned at the sight. But the urine part took a bit of hand-eye coordination. There was an unnecessarily long list of rules right by the toilet as to how to properly leave a good sample of the golden shower....something about providing mid-stream urine as the most ideal sample. Heck, I would've written it this way:

Never early, never late, middle surely, to urinate.

It had been a good while since I left a urine sample. I had a bit of trouble with controlling the pressure...the vial (and my hands) needed some wiping afterwards. But the important thing was that I could leave a healthy 40 ml for the medtechs to have fun with.

William Windom

courtesy of michael
vance 1
from Flickr
Tuesday August 21, 9:59 a.m.

Was watching CP24 this morning when the news scroll suddenly showed the announcement that veteran character actor, William Windom, had passed away at the age of 88.

He was probably more well known to TV watchers as crusty Dr. Seth Hazlitt from "Murder, She Wrote", but I also knew him in his far earlier days portraying a regular heavy on episodes of the original "Mission: Impossible". He was always the sinister foreign politico with the secret agenda to destroy Western civilization as we had known it.

But for me, Windom struck me for just one role....a role that he never played again (except in one of those fan-based labours-of-love productions) but had a huge impact on the world of "Star Trek". He played the tragic Commodore Matt Decker of the USS Constellation on one of the Classic Trek classic episodes, "The Doomsday Machine". His appearance on the show was the first time I'd ever seen him, and looking at his other TV guest appearances over the decades, Matt Decker gave Windom the opportunity to really lash out; in those other roles, he played them crusty or evil but there was always a cap of control anchoring the performances.

What impressed me about Windom's portrayal of Decker was that he didn't play the role as complete hero or complete villain, and I can't even really peg him as an anti-hero. Commodore Decker was just this horribly traumatized starship commander who had lost his entire crew to this extra-galactic ultimate weapon, while he could only helplessly watch from his crippled ship, and simply went insane. The tragedy was that underneath all that rendered insanity was once an excellent captain....something that Windom allowed to show in parts. Watching the episode, I have always wondered if Commodore Decker was a reflection of what James Kirk could have ended up as if Kirk had been the one to face the weapon first rather than Decker. Of course, the "Moby Dick" allusions were spread on pretty thick here.

It wasn't the first time that the crew of the Enterprise had to deal with crazed Starfleet officers, but it was the first time to see a command officer go off the deep end, and it was intriguing to witness this gradual deterioration of a once-proud man due to something that even a Starfleet captain could not handle. "The Doomsday Machine"has regularly been voted as one of the very best Trek episodes of any of the series. The music, the story and the battle against the beast along with the battle of wills inside the Bridge amongst Decker, Kirk and Spock were all responsible for its high favour with Trekkies. And inside all that, it was William Windom's half-hour portrayal of that one character that made this episode one of the classics.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Long Time No See, Medical Checkup

Monday August 20, 3:58 p.m.

This morning, I had my first physical in several years. Yup, I'm probably hearing a lot of "tsk, tsk"right now, but hey, I'm not a huge fan of those. So sue me. But my parents' doctor was pretty cool about it....did all the standard parts of the examination, including the one with the rubber glove (it and I are having cocktails on Friday). Not surprisingly, the doc just told me that I need to lose about 15 kg. Yup, I have gained quite a bit since I got back from Japan...most likely due to the two Ribfests and the biweekly anime-and-foodie outings with The Anime King. Then, Dad and I drove a bit West where a neighbourhood medical centre took care of the X-ray that I'd requested for my left shoulder. Yup, it still aches. I'm hoping that it isn't more serious than tendonitis when the doc finds out in a few days. Still have to give my blood and urine samples tomorrow, so no brekkie for me.

Speaking of The Anime King, I had my all-day with him yesterday. Went over to this place out in the North called Myeongdong, in the same strip mall where that branch of Wild Wings was where we downed a bucket of chicken wings a few weeks earlier.

Apparently, even the Koreans from back home rave about this place, so that was a fine incentive for us to try it out. And this time, it wasn't just The King and I. Another old friend of ours from way back, The Anime Knight, joined us. It's nice to have one more added into the conversational mix.



The menu is actually limited to just a handful of items. Myeongdong specializes in shabu shabu, and two-thirds of the menu was devoted to that. However, we did go for one of the few other a la carte items which were these huge dumplings. I mean, if they were frozen, they would be weapons. Luckily, piping hot, they were simply delicious instead. All that was needed was just a pinch of complementary kimchi and soy sauce, and they were good to go. We also had bowls of noodle soup which were spicy but the dumplings were the winners here.


Afterwards, the three of us went to one of our regular post-meal haunts, the Second Cup on Steeles. I treated for the drinks there. And it was another hour or hour and a half of reminiscing and computer talk.

The Anime Knight went back home afterwards, but The King and I went down into the basement as usual to view the various offerings. We continued with the rebooted "Yamato"saga. I have to say that although the story is along the same lines as the original 1974 presentation, the graphics are entertaining enough to keep me watching. We ran through the 4 episodes that came with his latest shipment, before we viewed the one-hour documentary on the onstage show with cast and crew when the episodes were actually shown at an Osaka movie theatre earlier in the year. Just saw that long line snake down the staircase. Heck, even Isao Sasaki, the singer of the iconic theme song, made a surprise appearance and performance. Probably not a dry eye in the place.

Then, it was an hour of appreciative listening to soundtrack stuff before heading out to a neighbourhood Thai joint for dinner before coming back to watch "Joshiraku"and the latest episode of "Smile Precure". "Joshiraku"is just one seemingly stream-of-consciousness Japanese screwball comedy anime spearheaded by five female rakugo performers that spares no sacred cows in Japan or beyond.



Tony Scott and Phyllis Diller

Monday August 20, 3:48 p.m.

courtesy of snapper31
from Flickr
It's been a busy one for CNN on the entertainment front. First, we get the shocking news of director Tony Scott's apparent suicide. I watched his movies such as "Man On Fire", the "A-Team" re-boot and "Top Gun". And Movie Buddy and I once discussed his style back in Japan; Scott had a thing for jump cuts and all sorts of MTV-ish effects.

courtesy of
pcuneo
from Flickr
Then, just a few minutes ago, I read on the CNN website that comedienne Phyllis Diller has passed on at the age of 95. I've known her since I was just barely a foetus. That whacked-out hairdo, the feathery boa and that nutso cackle....and she had those one-liners which included her late husband, Fang. She lived a good long life. The last time I even heard from her was as Peter Griffin's mother on "Family Guy".

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sunset Grill and Crime

Saturday August 18, 5:08 p.m.

Man, it was pretty chilly this morning. Only 15 degrees out there. Not complaining, mind you. I've had enough of my Japanese summer mornings waking up in a pool of my own sweat back in Ichikawa City. It's a bit unusual today but overall, Toronto mornings are far more reasonable meteorologically speaking.

I met up with Automan once again, this wife with the missus, The Wild Guy, The Egg and The Tea Lady for brunch at The Sunset Grill on Yonge St. The place is always great for All-Day Breakfast. I had my usual Hash Brown Plate with sausages on the side. We had a perky waitress who was endlessly apologetic when she accidentally spilled coffee on Automan's wife.

In this Summer of the Gun 2, there has been a new crime that has taken over the local airwaves in the last half-week. Shades of Luka Magnotta, body parts have been found in the Credit River over the past few days. One foot with yellow nail polish, a head and both hands have been found scattered. And now I just heard that other parts have been found all the way somewhere in Scarborough.

Double Korean

Saturday August 18, 4:35 p.m.

The last couple of suppers have been very Korean-heavy. On Thursday, for my brother's birthday, the family went all the way to Richmond Hill in the north to a place called Bulgogi Brothers, part of a chain of Korean BBQ restaurants. Richmond Hill is known to be an area filled with Chinese restaurants and other stores, so a Korean restaurant in the area tends to stick out.





Of course, our dinner consisted of a lot of grilled meat and veggies. The service was very good there. The maitre d' was very smiley and courteous....deserved a good tip. And the other wait staff was very polite, especially when my sister-in-law was a bit put off when her bibimpap was brought to her cold. It turned out that she'd ordered the wrong type of bibimpap; but the waitress was very patient in explaining to her what she should've ordered. The beef was of excellent quality....even my parents, who are gastronomically very conservative diners, remarked that it was tender and delicious. The only thing is that this isn't quite the restaurant for those folks who usually engorge themselves on all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. Bulgogi Brothers is a bit on the expensive side and the portions are a bit smaller than usual. But for a good meal with fine service, this is a solid place.

Then, yesterday, I joined the Automan's Meet-Up group. Over the past couple of years, I've been hearing of these meet-up groups which get together based on the members' mutual hobbies and interests. Toronto may be the 2nd-biggest hub for such activities, next to New York. Automan was apparently taking care of one of the Japan-based ones, so I met him and his followers up at Finch Station at 7 p.m. last night....last night, being a matter of perspective, since it was still bright and sunny outside. I'd never been part of one of these meet-up groups so I was a bit curious. Luckily, Automan and his members were all mostly repeaters so there was a comfort of familiarity although there were a few first-timers including me.

Yeah, it was good talking to these folks. There were a couple of pharmacists, a man originally from The Emirates operating his own home-based graphic design company, a young structural engineer and a nurse with a huge smile. The nine of us ended up at Seoul City on Steeles Avenue at the north end of the city. I was situated in one corner of the table but I managed to hold up my end of the conversation. What helped was the famous Korean liquor, makgeolli, and yep, that fuzziness in the photo is a fairly good recreation of how I was seeing things near the end of dinner. I had drunk the milky-white rice wine at my brother's birthday dinner and was doing the same here. It's deceptively easy to swallow and therefore probably a killer drink.


Just one of the many dishes we all devoured during dinner. This was some sort of spicy meat-and-kimchi mix with tofu. Very delish! We had all these different types of Korean dishes without any need to barbecue anything.

It was a good first meet-up for me. I don't think I will join every one (I believe it's a weekly thing), but perhaps a monthly night out would be OK for me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School and Out of Work

Wednesday August 15, 3:57 p.m.

Well, just a few hours after getting that bank form to hand into the hands of the payroll officer of my school, I got the call from the supervisor there to sub for a teacher on Friday morning. When I called him up, I got his machine. Just from his voice, I knew exactly who he was. He's one of the more interesting characters in the school; I've seen him from time to time rumbling around like a mix between Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown. Kinda wonder what his students must be like after a full first week with him. In any case, I've got my 'in' to get that form into Payroll. I was asked about Monday morning as well, but I've got my doctor's appointment on that day.

Back at the BBQ at CG's place on Sunday, CG regaled all of us about what a horrible idiot his boss was at his latest job. It was a venting situation at Force 5. Well, The Entrepreneur and I know a little about his situation so we kinda calmed him down. The Entrepreneur gave him some professional advice. And so, today, CG contacted all of us to say that he told the boss to take that job and shove it. From the way he was telling it, CG's boss was Rob Ford and Oscar Madison smashed together. I gave him my good wishes although I wonder what he's gonna do with a full family and a big mortgage to handle.

Bank Stuff and Linda Ronstadt

Wednesday August 15, 3:13 p.m.

It's a pretty quiet day today. But this morning, I went over to my local bank to do some housekeeping, so to speak, concerning my account. Nothing too bad....got everything done within half an hour. I will have to go down to the school....if and when I'm called for duty....to hand them another form so that they can send my pay to the new account.

Listened in bed last night to Linda Ronstadt's "What's New?"CD. I have to say that it's the first disc in a while that I've been able to listen to every track without falling asleep. Such is the magic of Nelson Riddle. I read some stuff on Wiki about the album....I was quite surprised to read so much acclaim for it. Basically, it's been hailed as the saviour for The Great American Songbook after it nearly got snuffed out by The Beatles and rock music. Well, I like my disco, AOR, R&B and New Wave just fine, but it's nice to know that jazz and standards can still claim a place in contemporary music. Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Buble ought to make that pilgrimage to Ronstadt's house.

I like the title track but I've got a crush on "I've Got A Crush On You". And I have to say that Linda hasn't looked so ravishing than when she appears in the video.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Goodbye, Horshack!

Tuesday August 14, 11:19 p.m.

I heard about the passing of Ron Palillo on the news today. As a kid growing up in the 70s, I used to watch that ABC sitcom, "Welcome Back, Kotter" with Ron, a very svelte John Travolta, Robert Heyges, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and of course Gabe Kaplan. Sweathog Vinnie Barbarino may have been the ratings magnet, but I always liked Arnold Horshack since he was such an appealing weirdo....something that I could relate to.

After the series ended, Palillo fell prey to that terror that any actor could face after a successful run on any series: typecasting. Noone could or would hire him after such an iconic character as Horshack. He had a long period of depression and just stayed cooped up in his home for years. He seemed to be able to crawl himself out of it after the 80s, but unfortunately today, he suffered a fatal heart attack....and at 63. He was in his early 20s when he did "Kotter". Time has just warped by.

I didn't even know that Robert "Juan Epstein" Heyges had passed on.


Deeper Into Translation

Tuesday August 14, 11:00 p.m.

Went down to The Beaches this afternoon to meet with The Translator. I hadn't been to that area of Toronto in several years for obvious reasons (look at the blog title). I had been wondering how I would get there since according to the TTC map, there was nothing on Vic Park south that would go that far down. However, there was the 64 bus from Main Street.

The Beaches has been a popular spot for the young and those folks who like gentrified neighbourhoods for several years. Walking east on Queen East, I saw a number of individual shops and cafes with just a few chain stores peppering the street. Plenty of trees....quite a nice place to be although a few months before, there was that neighbourhood-wide lockdown by Metro Police when a gangbanger was on the run. Hopefully, that was just a horrible aberration more than a sign of things to come.

I got there a full hour early and because the rain was starting to pelt down, I decided to take refuge in a coffee shop on the corner of Queen East and Beech. It was pretty empty since it was a Tuesday, but there were a few customers, most of whom were obviously regulars there. The kindly Korean proprietor couldn't speak much English but she was able to mix up a nice Iced Caffe Latte, and I could relax for about 30 minutes reading newspapers by the window. At one point, a couple of ladies came in searching for Wineva Street. They asked me but they garbled the initial pronunciation so I couldn't identify the street so I guided them to the proprietor who led them to the two regulars. Luckily, one of them had a husband who was a taxi dispatcher who just happened to have been having his massage at a small clinic a couple of doors down. All this was done with genuine help....that's a neighbourhood I would love to live in someday.

Met up with The Translator who introduced me to this new translation system. Within about 30 minutes, I ended up looking pretty darn foolish. He gave me this rapid-fire talk on the system, and then told me to give it a shot...just cold. I may look like a geek but the truth is, technology and I don't mix too well. And frankly, I didn't expect him to give me a lesson so I looked like I wasn't paying attention. He was patient enough but I didn't feel too happy afterwards. Still, it looks like I may have some work coming my way within a few days. I may also be trying to get that bigger laptop just because of my emerging status as a translator.

August has been interesting meterologically. The weather folk have been reporting that we're in the midst of a cool wave (as opposed to a heat wave). The high temps haven't exceeded 26 degrees for the past few days. Believe me, I'm not complaining. Today, Tokyo had a low of 27!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Taste of the Danforth and BBQ

Monday August 13, 10:41 a.m.

Since my period of time in Japan was from 1994 to 2011, I had missed out on the birth and maturing of The Taste of the Danforth in Greektown. In a way, I think I still missed out since I dropped by a couple of hours before it officially opened for its final day on Sunday. So, basically, I arrived when people were just setting up. Of course, the question is why would I get to a foodie festival before it actually set up?

Well, I had that BBQ at CG's place all the way out in Oakville so I couldn't stay on The Danforth, but I needed to bring something to the party. If there's one thing that's been hammered into me, it's that one doesn't go to a house empty-handed. Ever.

I was walking around Greektown for a number of minutes, looking for something to get when I came across this bakery called Dough Bakeshop. The folks inside were pretty busy but I did venture whether they could whip up a couple of boxes of sausage rolls as they had advertised on the signboard. I caught a couple of the women there off-guard but just as I was about to rescind my request, the head baker inside yelled out that it could be done and to come back in 40 minutes. I didn't really mean to make such a rush order; I'd thought that I could get whatever was on the shelves but what was done was done. I had the time to spare so I just cooled my heels outside and came back. I was definitely grateful to Dough for the rush order considering that they were probably going to be crazy busy on the final day of The Taste, so I left a nice tip for them. The boxes were definitely warm and CG was grateful.

As for the BBQ itself, everything went off without a hitch. Although the GO Train out to Clarkson was a couple of minutes late, it turned out that CG himself was running a bit late so everything worked out. He and his family had moved out to their new house in Oakville a year ago from Markham, so they live in a pretty grand home. Got to see some old faces like The Entrepreneur and his young family and met some new ones in the form of former Japan hands like me. The weather, which had been threatening rain, remarkably held off so the BBQ could get off the ground without any need to flee inside.

Japanese Dance and Hibari Misora

Monday August 13, 10:15 a.m.

It was a pretty miserable day on Saturday when I went up to The Toronto Buddhist Church to catch my friend's dance recital there. It was actually my first time to the church in its new location and configuration. I'd used to go with my family to the old one on Bathurst St. deeper into downtown way back in the 70s, but not to pray but to watch Japanese drama videos on that newfangled contraption called a VCR. The old church had that traditional thatched-roof architecture, but this new one up north looks more Tadao Ando.

This buyokai was dedicated to the music of Hibari Misora, one of the singing legends of modern Japanese music. In terms of comparative status, I'd peg her with Elvis Presley and The Beatles in terms of how much an effect she had on the Japanese population. Her untimely death in 1989 at the age of 52 may have had Japan unofficially declaring a day or two of national mourning. Misora, through her music, led the people through the dark early days of the Postwar period all the way to the end of the Economic Bubble days of the late 80s. Her nom de genre was enka but she was known to have gone into jazz and even pop. I can't say, though, that I'm a huge fan of hers but since she released over 1,200 songs during her 40-year career, there are a number of them that I know just from hearing the opening notes.

These were the dancers...or at least, some of them...unfortunately, we were forbidden to take pictures during the performance itself. I was joined by The Dancer's family and so we all saw about 20 different performances all done to Misora's songs over the decades. The audience mostly consisted of folks older than me, so I was pretty sure that her music had an even more resonant effect on them. As for my friend, she performed a couple of dances....one in which she portrayed an old-fashioned Japanese thief in all-black, Her daughter also had a dance as well with two other young girls.

I would be rather intrigued if there were ever a similar buyokai done to the strains of Seiko Matsuda. Yes, I am being sarcastic here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Water Torture

Saturday August 11, 10:25 a.m.

My parents were in quite a rage this morning....not with each other, but with the upstairs neighbour. The bathroom ceiling right above the toilet was slowly dripping water. Apparently, this was the 3rd time that this has occurred, and the parentals squarely blame it on the guy upstairs. Not sure why since it could also be the pipes in a pretty old building. In any case, Dad went to complain. The guy upstairs also happens to be the part-time caretaker in our building...and unfortunately, he kinda comes across as a bit of the village idiot: he gabs to anybody about anything including himself, and can only talk at one volume....loud. In any case, my parents hate the guy, and the fellow is the type who simply refuses to open the door to anyone when anyone comes knocking. Dad had to get the super to call him up and drag him down here. Of course, what followed was a few minutes of intense argument with the promise from both the neighbour and super that something would be done.

But it's pretty annoying having to do No. 2 when it feels like the ceiling is doing No. 1 right on you.  It's probably the slowest form of waterboarding that anyone will ever experience. Right now, there is a bucket right on the commode collecting the tea-coloured drops. Luckily, I'll be heading out to my friend's dance recital in less than an hour.

Night Flight

Saturday August 11, 10:05 a.m.

I was doing some channel surfing on the TV last night when I realized that I hadn't checked in on Turner Classics for some weeks. I did so, and came across this movie called "Night Flight" which had been released in 1933. The information button revealed it starred Lionel Barrymore and Helen Hayes, but I later found it was actually a lot more chock-filled with stars. I was looking at  the brave but doomed pilot of this embryonic air service in South America, and in fact, he was played by Clark Gable, several years before he became Rhett Butler. There was one more Barrymore, Robert Montgomery and Myrna Loy in it as well. The story struck me as being straightforward....as it usually was back in those days.....intrepid biplane aces getting mail and parcels through treacherous conditions, including a cyclone, while a taskmaster of a boss sends them off no matter what the situation so that the company reaps the rewards. One interesting thing I got from "Night Flight" was about that ruthless president....for such an old movie, his character was pretty darn complex. He was a hard SOB but on losing two of his pilots, he almost lost it in front of one widow; however, in the end, he was back to form...sternly if now a bit guiltily resigned to the fact that there will be deaths on his watch.

But what I also learned when I started looking up "Night Flight" on Wikipedia was that my viewing of the movie was the first time that anyone had seen the movie in 70 years! It did look pretty clean to me when I first switched it on, so my first impression had been that the movie was made far later. Outside of a 2011 festival sponsored by TCM, it hadn't seen the light of day. Putting that impressive point aside though, I didn't particularly find the movie all that remarkable (although future viewings may change my mind). However, I was struck at how the director or cinematographer used light and shadow to create the drama....and this was 1933, some years before "The Maltese Falcon" with Bogie came out.


Friday, August 10, 2012

They're Back!

Friday August 10, 9:52 a.m.

My parents are back from their little Las Vegas fun with their buddies. So I get to hear the sounds of bickering once more. It was rather nice to have the apartment for my own for a few days at least....although I didn't quite need all of the food that Mom made sure I had access to. Y'know, I actually did a fair job of cooking during my 17 years living in Japan.

As for how my parents described Sin City, there is no reason for me ever to head over to that tourist trap. I have zilch interest in gambling, I was never a guy who went for shows or musicals, I can get my buffets here, and I have a certain aversion to paying $18 for a bowl of udon. They told me that there was still a ton of Japanese tourists scouring the place, though. For me, I'll be happy to see Lost Wages (my old high school history teacher liked to describe the city that way) through "Ocean's Eleven" or the occasional rerun of "CSI".

Unlike the 40-degree weather over there, it's been a very un-summer-like week here in Toronto. Or I should say that it's been a ferociously normal summer....the high temperature has only been hovering around 25. Believe me, there are probably millions of Japanese who would apply for permanent residency here if they could, considering the Hell-like conditions in their country. And considering all of the political turmoil in The Diet and the rising consumption tax from 5 to 10 percent, some of them may just do so....mind you, our HST is 13%, so we Canadians can be forgiven if we giggle a bit and say, "Quit your whining!" But all joking aside, it is scary to witness a tax rate skyrocketing to two times the original within 2 years.

My weekend will be a full one. I head out to see The Dancer's performance tomorrow at the Toronto Buddhist Temple and then there is CG's BBQ out in the wilds of Mississauga. He asked if I could bring an appetizer but when I offered to bring munchies instead (my culinary talents supply palatable stuff just for me), he said that his family had plenty of those and that I should just bring myself. Ain't happening....I never go to a person's house empty-handed. Just wouldn't be kosher. I'll have to find something around Union Station to bring over before I jump onto the Go Train. Problem is that The St. Lawrence Market is closed on Sundays.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fortitude!

Thursday August 9, 10:05 a.m.

Well, Canada's Women's Soccer Team got its medal, scoring the lone goal in extra time at the very end of the Bronze Medal match over France! For some reason, the media has been saying that this was redemption for the controversial loss against the United States in the semi-finals. I don't think redemption is quite the accurate word since Canada did nothing wrong to redeem itself for. I'd say that this was more fortitude on Sinclair and company. In any case, the two countries I'm most familiar with will be represented on the podium later today.

Speaking of fortitude, PM Noda of Japan will have to reach deep down for that inner strength since he may be facing his biggest test in his role as the leader of the country. He's facing a non-confidence motion from the opposition, and two more of his party will be defecting. Most probably, the motion will be defeated but it's still a matter of dying from a thousand paper cuts.

Ah, Japan did quite well at the Olympics yesterday as well. Two of the women wrestlers got their Gold medals. It looks like both Japan and Canada will reach their expectations.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Editing

Wednesday August 8, 12:01 p.m.

Spent most of the morning in my pyjamas editing a translation assignment. Whew....man...pharmaceuticals. Glad I wasn't actually the translator. Would've gone nuts. In any case, I've sent it over to the boss so hopefully, it passes muster.

Been listening/watching the latest round of Olympics coverage. The Women's Wrestling was pretty good, although Carol Huynh has lost to Hitomi Obara. It's always tough when Japan and Canada are up against each other. But apparently Canada has picked up a couple of more medals.

Well, I'm done for the day although I've gotta step out for some bank business later this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Marvin Hamlisch The Entertainer

courtesy of Officer Phil
from Flickr
Tuesday August 7, 10:55 p.m.

There have been quite a few celebrity deaths over the past couple of weeks. Chad Everett of "Medical Center" fame and George Hemsley from "The Jeffersons" have passed away.

Then there was the news this afternoon that composer Marvin Hamlisch died at the age of 68. I was surprised by the age...still plenty young to go so soon. He was younger than either of my parents. I hadn't seen the man in a few decades but he was a fairly common fixture on TV during the 70s. Hamlisch gained a certain amiability from the audience not just for his works on projects like "The Sting" and "A Chorus Line", but also for coming off in front of everybody as this likable nebbish...a musical Woody Allen, so to speak. He had this nonstop nervous banter whenever he was behind the keys in front of an audience. Nothing exudes sympathy more than open neurosis.

I've always like "The Entertainer" and I always liked this entertainer.


Solitary Tuesday

Tuesday August 7, 10:38 p.m.

After the long Simcoe Day long weekend. I've had my first day of solitude. The parents are out with their buddies in Las Vegas for the next few days. It's kinda nice living alone again even if it's just until Thursday. However, my mother....being Mom....ensured that I would be kept well-fed without me having to lift a finger. She stuffed so much food in the form of TV dinners and other fare in the freezer and fridge, it almost looks like she was prepping me for hibernation.

But in a way, I was kinda hibernating since I basically cocooned all day. Didn't leave the apartment at all, except for getting the mail. I got my first cheque from my translation gig. Not too bad at all. Strangely enough, my boss there contacted me for the first time in 2 weeks asking me to do an editing job tomorrow for a few hours. And I discovered a call on the message machine from the school asking if I could warp down there today to teach a class....on less than 2 hours notice. Mind you, the staffer called at about 11 a.m. For some reason, I never heard the call despite the fact that I was only in my bedroom at that time....only discovered the message past 1 p.m. In any case, my policy is to never accept on-the-day classes in any case. In terms of planning and execution, it's just asking for trouble...at least for me.

Canada seems to be having all sorts of bad luck at the Olympics. The Canadian Women's Soccer Team lost out of getting into the Finals due to some controversial calls, a Canadian boxer was eliminated from the quarter-finals due to some strange judging decisions, and Simon Whitfield literally fell out of the Triathlon from a crash while he was making the switch from swimming to cycling. Not sure if The Great White North peeved off some higher deity.

However the good news is that Nadeshiko Japan, that nation's women's soccer team will be playing for Gold against the US on Thursday. I can only imagine that there will be a lot of bleary-eyed folks in The Land of the Rising Sun staying up or waking up in the wee hours to catch this one. But as far as I'm concerned, the darlings of Japanese sports have already accomplished the mission that they are now recognized as a force to not be contended with lightly. Gold or Silver, Nadeshiko has already won.

The Dark Knight Rises...Somewhat

courtesy of
Cynthia Blackston
from Flickr
Tuesday August 7, 5:41 p.m.

Well, after the Scarborough Ribfest, the remaining Anime Court members and I decided to go for the big ticket: "The Dark Knight Rises". So, The King, The Bishop, The Rook and The Mathematician and I drove over to Scarborough Town Centre to catch the final movie in the trilogy.

To be honest, my expectations had not been that high for this one. Not because I had expected it to be a flop, but "The Dark Knight"raised the bar so high a few years ago that I just couldn't see this sequel being able to even be on the same level, let alone surpass it. And sure enough, "The Dark Knight Rises"isn't as good as the second movie. I found it entertaining enough, so it remains residing on a level between "The Dark Knight"and "Batman Begins"....luckily this last sequel is lodged closer to the second movie than it is to the first movie. I'm still not totally sold on "Batman Begins".

What I did enjoy about it were the inter-character relationships. There were the feelings of camaraderie, betrayal, heartbreak and respect amongst the human and not-so-human knots that have woven this complicated web. And sadly, in one major relationship, the string (and the heart) breaks for most of the movie. I enjoyed the banter between Bruce and Selina along with John Blake's lynchpin connection with pretty much everyone. And the ending is undeniably sweet and happy...probably a source of some debate. And of course, what's a Batman movie without some kickass transportation?

What I didn't like about it was the surprising clunkiness of editing in a number of the scenes which resulted in some fairly Tumbler-sized plotholes: Blake figuring out who Batman really is....pre-movie? That overlong captivity in the Pit, and how Bruce manages to find his way into the siege that is Gotham City....among other scenes. There was an overall feeling in parts of patchwork quilting that never struck me at all when I saw the second movie. And generally, there was the genuine concern that this movie was about to collapse under the weight of its own mythology and expectations....much like Batman and Gotham City during their darkest hours. That is what happened with the "Star Wars"prequels...at points, I thought the whole Batman thing was gonna end up being too mythic. And despite the reports that Bane's vocal problems had been cleaned up...I was still straining to understand what he was mumbling about. Between his electronic garble and Batman's bass-end growling, the war for Gotham could've ended up even longer just because of the lack of communication.

But Chris Nolan held it together long enough to get us to the end without dissatisfying most of us. And I'm sure both he and Christian Bale are sighing some relief that it's now all over. All I'm hoping is that it will be many many years before someone decides to start up another franchise with The Caped Crusader (et tu, Spiderman?). But there may be a teensy-weensy chance that Anne Hathaway may inherit her own superhero/supervillain set of movies. Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Nah.

Simcoe Day Weekend Part 2

Tuesday August 7, 5:16 p.m.

Yesterday was my second trip to what has become a standing summer tradition in the GTA: Ribfest. This time, it was Scarborough's turn to host the massive culinary orgy of grilled intercostal muscles from cows and pigs. The Ribfest gang got together which included members of The Anime Court and a couple of others.

As usual, we all got there early to secure a table under the shade. Unlike the one in Etobicoke's Centennial Park on Canada Day, we needn't have worried about baking under the sun for this Ribfest. The sun was there, but the temps were definitely un-August-like. Not cool but it was really comfortable. Tokyo residents would've just wept if they'd even had a single second's exposure to the Toronto air yesterday. It also helped that the organizers were smart and placed the tables under a lot of trees for automatic shade.



A grand picture of one of the rib shops represented. This is Crabby's Ribs...actually a regional restaurant from London Ontario. Another nice thing of getting to a Ribfest early is that there is no real problem of standing in line. There are a few places whose reputations precede them and already attract a fair lineup right from the get-go, but in this case, Crabby's looked a bit lonely so I got there and picked up my contribution to the rib conversation and brought back a half-rack. That, and a sausage on a bun plus fries and gravy. Apparently, I do have a death wish.



These are Crabby's ribs. They were probably the ones that had the thickest coat of tangy sauce on them. As is the usual custom within the Rib Gang, we all buy from different places and share. So, we all had a smattering of beef and pork ribs. I have to say that I prefer my pork ribs since I find them more flavourful and tender than the beef variety.








This wasn't my own dessert, but The Anime Bishop offered, so I took a piece of that great Canadian tradition of funnel cake with plenty of ice cream. The tasters found the cake a bit funky...although I thought the taste of fried dough had an added hint of lemon for some reason. In any case, everyone was grateful for the huge dollops of vanilla ice cream on top to help the stuff go down.

There was karaoke far down the Ribfest area. I managed to filter out some of the more egregious examples of "American Idol"-wannabes, but there was one amateur who actually did sound pretty good with her rendition of "I Will Survive"by Gloria Gaynor.

The bunch of us left at about 2:30 but there were still people just pouring into the area, apparently more than happy to try to find some space and lineup for several minutes for ribs.
As we left, I knew that there was still the final Ribfest to attend....the one in Burlington, which according to the Anime King, was 3 to 4 times the size of Scarborough's Ribfest. But that won't be until Labour Day.

Simcoe Day Weekend Part 1

Tuesday August 7, 4:35 p.m.

Nominally it was the weekend tribute to Ontario's 1st Lieutenant-Governor, but personally, I would peg it as the Anime King weekend.

Sunday was the usual meeting day for The King and I. Neglected to take a picture of the restaurant we went to, but it was a Scarberian place that specialized in inexpensive dumplings (I hesitate to use the word 'cheap' due to the wrong connotations which may be evoked). $5 for a steamer of 15 scrumptious jiaoxu which even contained some soup along the lines of sho ron po. Made them taste even better.






The second dish at this place was a Hot and Sour Soup with the added benefit of udon noodles inside. Huzzah...an idea whose time has come. I've always loved this stuff, especially during the Winter. I've even made a batch of Hot and Sour over the years. The vinegar is the key. Again, this big bowl for 2 is just $5. Brings back memories of $5 Thursdays at Pizza Hut.







Of course, after lunch was the usual stopover at that Second Cup on Steeles. I've been following The King's lead and getting a Paradiso Coffee with a Lemon Tart. Good combo.
I see Second Cup as the happy medium between Starbucks and Tim Hortons. The various Starbucks branches in Tokyo were friendly and warm but I always saw a bit of corporatization in their interior design. Timmies is of course a fine place to go to for the donuts and the Chili Combo, but it's a bit too fast food to savor that coffee for a long time unless it's late at night. Second Cup just has the right sort of atmosphere to enjoy friends while downing that joe.

The anime for that day consisted of a couple of the special movies for "Smile Precure"that pop once or twice a year. The anime series has gone on for nearly a decade and involves different teams of warrior teens every year or every other year. Each of the movies starred every team that has ever existed on Sunday morning television, and by the last movie under this format, there were 21 girls with their own powers along with several cute familiars. Hard to get everyone to talk in merely 90 minutes.

There was also a new anime that The King kindly showed me called "Joshiraku" which has five young female rakugo comics just riffin' on all sorts of nonsensical discussion. No holds barred, no political correctness there.

We took another eating break and so The King and I drove into Markham where we went to a Wild Wings branch. It was a deserted place so space and service were no problem. Ended up having a basket each of spicy and honey-garlic wings with fries and gravy on the side. Yup, we do our protein and carbs hard. If there's one thing I've appreciated since returning from my Japan odyssey, it's been regular access to chicken wings.

But Sunday was merely the beginning.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Doing Good, Canada!

Saturday August 4, 11:25 p.m.

Canada didn't do much yesterday at the London Games, but boy, did they make up for that today. 1 Bronze, 1 Silver...and finally our first Gold...thanks to Women's Trampoline. How must Rosie MacClennan feel right now....instant sports heroine.

It was another scorcher in the GTA....Humidex of 42 degrees or so. Luckily, I stayed inside for the entire day, but I've got a fan blowing in my room right now. I don't think things will change all that much for the weekend.

The folks at Caribana must have been sweating up a storm of perspiration all day downtown. There is a similar if far smaller event in Tokyo called the Samba Festival. It's always held in the traditional quarter of Asakusa, strangely enough, during August. Not surprisingly, a lot of men of all ages take tons of pictures of the scantily-clad women as they traipse down the streets. Still, I'm pretty sure that those dancers aren't nearly as bold as a lot of the Caribana folks.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Kingdom for a Barber

Friday August 3, 10:58 p.m.

Went to my corner barber for that $8 trim. The guy got it done in less than 10 minutes. Still, after having gone there 4 times since my return back to Canada, I'm now wondering if I should opt for something a bit more expensive, a bit more farther away, but with a bit more class. I went into the shop and just saw one....barber....just splayed all over the waiting area chairs like my Dad on the sofa on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Didn't look one bit sheepish either. For $8, I don't expect   Royal service but man, that just wasn't right. I didn't understand the language they were speaking, but the splayed girl probably said to the guy who ended up with my cut, "Hey, it's your turn!"

I didn't get particularly nostalgic for my trips to the barber during my long years in Japan, but I have to say that the service was absolutely top-notch. Despite paying the yen equivalent of $50 each time, I got a great cut, shampoo (twice), head and neck massage, coffee/tea (hot/cold depending on the season) and some good conversation. I actually looked forward to my bi-monthly tonsorials despite the certainty of a lighter wallet. I haven't had the same feelings with my current shop.


Here is a 40-minute video of a visit to a Japanese barber. The barber does everything but the head and shoulder massage which was a bit of a surprise to me.

And this is an excerpt of one other visit to a barber during the scalp-and-shoulder rubdown.

Enjoy!

Weekend and Olympics

Friday August 3, 10:44 p.m.

Went down to that meeting on Thursday at the school. A mere 5 minutes. One teacher remarked that was probably the shortest meeting on record. Am I still getting paid my $22? During that rather quick deposit of information, I heard that quite a lot of regular teachers will be taking off for various lengths of time, so I may be getting quite a bit of work but I've yet to hear anything from my minders. Still, I was happy to get that free butterscotch donut from Timmies.

Today was a stay-at-home. Got my hair cut in less than 10 minutes. And there was a lot of Olympic viewing. I have to say that with 3 different channels showing coverage of different events, Canada definitely has one leg up on Japanese coverage. At the halfway point, Canada is doing relatively OK in the medal count at 12th place. No Golds as of yet, but we've gotten a smattering of Silvers and Bronzes, including one in Judo. And Japan is doing even better in 5th place...got a few Golds. The big thing is the Women's Soccer....no, really. Canada defeated Great Britain on their home soil to get into the semi-finals, while Japan did the same thing against Brazil. We may be looking at an interesting final. And ironically, the Japan-Canada prelim game was the first event to be televised for the Games.

We've got a long Simcoe Day weekend. Nothing big tomorrow but on Sunday, it'll be another round of anime and food with The Anime King. There was some thought about even heading over to the Scarborough Ribfest on the same day, but The Anime Bishop stated that there was a good chance of thunderstorms, so it looks like that may be held off for the holiday Monday. Not a bad thing since I'm not sure if even I would be able to handle spareribs and a good dose of dumplings within 6 hours.

And Caribana is starting up tonight and throughout the weekend. It'll be pretty crazy downtown so I'm glad that I won't be going anywhere near the area. Hopefully, the craziness will just be limited to the legal fun variety.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Full Wednesday

Thursday August 2, 12:53 a.m.

Got through Hump Day with a full day at the school. Again, nice 3 groups of young folk, although I think a few didn't quite know what to make of me with my oddball approach to teaching. And again, I cannot change my stripes on that matter. But at the end of my final class, I even got a few rounds of applause although I think the last few minutes had everyone getting into a bit of good-natured raucousness over the topic of coffee.

I have to head down again later today since the regular monthly meeting is on. If it weren't for the fact that I get paid for attending it, I would be sorely tempted to just skip it since I was rather unimpressed with the last one....even considering the free Tim Hortons donuts.

Had my weekly talk with The Anime King a few hours ago. We'll be making our usual meet-up on Sunday for anime and food. Since it'll be a long weekend coming up, we could be looking at some major hours in front of the screen watching "Moretsu Pirates"and "Smile Precure".