I'm taking off to Gamera's Stomping Grounds...

I'm heading to Tokyo for a few days, so the postings will be somewhat sporadic. But they'll be back in full swing in a few days.

Happy Green Day! (The Japanese holiday, not the group.)
Credit where credit's due department.

One of the sites that I frequent is POVonline, operated by the co-creator of GROO, a writer of Garfield & Welcome Back, Kotter and one who seems to know everyone who has ever lived in Hollywood, TV and comics. If you want to be astounded by the wealth of info he's acquired, go to: news from me and click around.

So while going through his archives, I discovered a poem performed on the game show "I've Got a Secret" circa 1965. I wrote a similar joke awhile back but this guy did it much better. Here it is:

That one should leave no stone unturned
Is something I quite early learned
But with so many stones around
I could not turn them all, I found
I spotted terns over the sea
One turned around and spotted me
For spotting the best suit I owned
I tried to leave no tern unstoned.
Once again, assimilated by the collective...

Well, I saw the concert and I must say that I got my money's worth. (Of course, had it been free, I'd've been even more satisfied.) It was pretty jam-packed, maybe not capacity but close. I was probably the oldest non-parent there and the only foreigner as far as I could tell (I did meet 2 others on the way out.)

And coincidentally, a half dozen of my students stood behind me (so I had to behave.) It turns out that these six are in the Rhythm Dance Club and were given freebies by my co-worker. But more about them later.

I had a very good time, but I have to admit that I was getting a little restless near the end (I didn't really care whether they encored or not, but it turned out to be worth it.) And there was a lot of banter, chatting between songs for a total of about 20 minutes. Yet, I didn't feel cheated; I found myself understanding about 30% of what they said and the audience sure appreciated the cameraderie.

As for the music, it was cool to recognise their influences. I caught some ELO, WHO, ABBA tributes and I'm sure there were more. I enjoyed most of the tunes, some of which I knew, and I bopped along with the rest of the crowd, singing along when I could. (The TEEN TITANS theme I know by heart.) This was their 10th anniversary tour and they played a medley of their hits with a video screen playing in the background. It showed clips from their TV show "Pa Pa Pa Pa Puffy", which ran a few years ago plus videos and other footage. Pretty neat. My favourite moment was when the bass player did a trademarked Rock jump and landed on his ass, causing Yumi to start corpsing (giggling) in the middle of singing.

Back to the six. They stood there throughout, applauding politely after each song, but not really getting into it. They had obviously never heard any Puffy tunes and it may have been their first concert, so they looked a bit freaked out by the display. I think one of two of the girls wanted to participate, but the glares of the others prevented them. It was interesting to see their mini-collective not swayed by the mass-collective.

All-in-all, a fun night out and I bought a "Strange Virgin" t-shirt that I'll flaunt on the site someday.


Puffy the Magic Drag-Queens...

I've kept it a secret up until now, but tonight I'm attending Puffy in concert! They're here in Sendai for their Japanese tour, promoting "モグラライク" (Mogura-like...it either means "I like moles", or "like a mole".) I've been kind of bubbling with school-boy enthusiasm all week since I picked up a ticket last week (for 5000¥) and I've been trying to find someone with similar eagerness, to no avail.

This is where the "disturbing news" comes into effect...one of my co-workers approached me last night with the news, "I have several FREE tickets to Puffy. Do you know anyone who might be interested?" I was only a little irked in dishing out the 50 bucks last week, but much more irked when I couldn't find anyone to attend with me, and they'd get to go in for FREE! I suspect that Puffy's popularity has waned considerably in Japan, yet they're still hot in America (and possibly Canada too.) Well, I'll take this with its grain of salt and enjoy the concert anyway. Who knows, maybe it'll be so empty that I can meet the band! Dare to Dream!
And now for another musical interlude...

Here is the tune that I sang last year. It's from a Curtain Call musical from 1978 entitled "UGLAHOMA". (See post way-back on April 6th for another song.)

Oh, What a Terrible Morning
(Sung to the tune: Oh, What a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma)

Oh, the sun rose too early this morning.
The sun rose too early this morning.
The light is so bright, that it’s hurting my sight.
We can’t face today after drinking all night.

Oh, what a terrible morning.
We only got two hours sleep.
Last night, good spirits were flowing.
This morning, the tatami sure reeks!

I changed the word carpet to tatami to give it a Japanese flavour.
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome...Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret

So LAST night was the Welcome Party that I so foolishly thought I was attending last week (see April 23rd's posting).


Where there's fire...there's smoke.

If smoke enters a room and the smoke alarm doesn't make a sound, is there a fire? It's questions like this that keep one up at night.

As I was growing up, we always knew dinner was ready by the sound of the smoke alarm reverberating throughout the house. Well, I've kept this fine tradition alive by burning various meals, tonight's charred cuisine consisted of sausages. I'd made similar concoctions in the past, with nary a peep from my smoke alarm. Consequently, last week I decided to change the batteries within my alarm. So tonight, was an ideal time to put the ringer through the wringer. Yet, again, any tintinabulatory tweaks were not forthcoming.

It just so happens that tonight, I had to go pay my rent in person (it'll take a month to get the direct withdrawal set up again this year) and tried to make my point understood that my smoke alarm was not in working order. She finally figured out my meaning and, 10 minutes later, the landlady/ caretaker was over to my abode. She yanked on the cord to the fan above my stove and it seemed to work fine, so she was ready to leave. I pointed to the smoke alarm and she said that it must be the batteries. I insisted that the batteries were brand new and she went outside and rang the doorbell. I thought this was rather odd and tried to show her my burnt pan as the cause of smoke, trying to get her to understand. I pointed to the smoke alarm and once again she went outside and rang the doorbell. She took a gander throughout my apartment and could see NO smoke alarm anywhere. Then it dawned on me! My smoke alarm is actually the doorbell. There is NO smoke alarm in my apartment. I felt like a grade-A shmuck and sent her on her merry way.

It's interesting that when I first got my place, they went to great lengths to install a fire extinguisher near the entranceway. But they don't go to the trouble of installing a method of detecting fire. I guess that'll be on my list next time I go to the hardware store. At least then, I'll finally be able to tell when dinner is ready!


Don't Dilly-Dahly...check it out!

In my leisurely moments (which are getting fewer and fewer these days), I check out various other blogs, one of which is Cartoon Brew which has lots of cool info about vintage cartoons.

They had a posting on Gremlins and it's not the nasty little buggers from the Dante film, but rather a flurry of fine fellows from a Roald Dahl story written in the late 40's and illustrated by the Disney crew. The story itself can be found here, Dahl-ing. The scan is excellent and for those straining eyes, they've even reproduced the script in large print. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is about 50 pages long.

Go to the homepage of the site and you'll find all kinds of Dahl goodies, including teaching guides. I plan to borrow some ideas for my lessons.

I wonder if the cause of modern-day computer glitches can be attributed to Cyber-Gremlins. It would explain a lot!


Strikes, Spares and Misses.

One of the bars that I frequent in the wee hours of the morning is called 305. It's this little hole-in-the-wall place that calls itself a Speakeasy and is very casual and relatively cheap. Periodically, they have a mini-bowling tournament amongst its patrons and it's a fun way to kill a few hours on a Sunday.

A moderate amount of beers is consumed and the events' proceedings include a bizarre Cos-play portion. After the first match, the winners then adorn various costumes and parade around, humiliating themselves and partaking in the next game in Fancy dress. I was fortunate enough to win and got to wear a balerina tutu with a long-necked Swan extending from my nether regions. Other costumes included, Wrestling masks, Nurse outfits, Baby garb...you get the idea. A Swan-shaped extension to ones privates does lead to some goosing and other practical jokes. Well, much jocularity ensued.

I am in no way a prude, but it behooves me to accept horseplay accompanied with large bowling balls. Fortunately no ones' feet were crushed in the pranks where balls were thrown at each other.

Unfortunately, I had to catch a bus so I couldn't attend the post-bowling party but they'll be saving me my First-place prize. I scored much better when I wore a prosthesis. If only real life weren't like that.
I wonder if you can get Spam-flavoured?

I'm really busy today, so just a quick link to MontyPython ice cream. Enjoy it!
MP ice cream.


A word of advice to partygoers...

Before you accept an invite to a work-related party, find out a few more details. I expected a big blowout with all of my work colleagues in what I thought would be a welcome party for new teachers. Again, those nagging details should be ironed out. Never one to turn my nose up at a party, I accepted to go, but before you drop 5,000 yen (about 48 bucks Canajun) on a night out, find out who else is going, why there is a party and the venue.

Now, it was fun spending a couple of hours with these eight colleagues, but it would have been more fun with more people. It took place in a Hotel, so I expected a more grandiose room, what we got was what seemed to be a closet with a long table. Not even a picture on the wall. The food was superb, but nothing that I couldn't get at a cheaper nomihodae (drinking party).

Now, I went into this venture blind. What I don't understand is why people go to an all-you-can-drink affair and then drink tea and orange juice. Sure, they had to drive, and I respect them for not drinking and driving, but why spend 50 bucks?

I sound down on this gig and I'm not. It was fun, it just wasn't what I expected for the money. Caveat Emptor!


Climb Every Mountain,

...fjord every stream. Well, I didn't fjord a stream today, but I did climb a mountain. Today, we took all the students to a temple (SaiHoji??) and then bussed up a mountainside.

The temple was an excuse for the kiddies to run around, say a quick prayer and then dash back into the bus. It is SO unPC to say that all temples look alike, so I won't. But, this temple actually looked different. Apparently the old temple near this site was getting too run down, so they built a new one. Now, I'm not an officiando of temple lore and won't pretend to be one, but I feel that "the Golder it is, the Gaudier it is." But that's just me.

Onto the mountain... I was in the "jumbo-taxi" (an 8-passenger van) with a few select teachers (vps, the nurse and those without a home-room). I had a nice long nap awaiting our arrival. Everyone then eats a bento-lunch (no Kikkoman!), ascends the mountain via a ski-lift, then play some games. I cockily said to one teacher that I could walk up the mountain, before he finishes his lunch. AND I had told all my students in their introductory lesson to me, that a hobby of mine was mountain-climbing. What better opportunity was it for me to prove myself. So after 10 minutes of hiking uphill, I was exhausted (hay fever season, accompanied by asthma and a winter-long siesta from exercise contributed to my fatigue.) But I trekked on, gathering up the lunches that students had tossed off the lift and cheered on by all the kids en route. BUT the teachers were definitely NOT impressed! This isn't normal behaviour for a teacher...shock!

I made it about 80% of the way up the mountain and fortunately there was a spot where I could leap upon an empty seat. I found out that the lifts down will close at 12:30 (I started at noon, it was now 12:25). The guy at the top was also NOT impressed, until I showed him the garbage I had collected and he smiled his one-toothed smile. I was too tired to be nervous on the way down and it was breathtaking (in more ways than one.)

So I reaped in the praises of the students, was sneered at by a few teachers and alas, NO I did not beat the guy to the top. But I had a good time, got some well-needed exercise and survived.

Tonight is a Welcome party for all the teachers, so we'll see whether I collect flack or kudos. Wish me luck.


Congratulations on the Arrival of Suri Cruise!

Actually, who really gives a rat's ass about more news from last year's champion for "The couple whose names we're most sick of hearing about"? But the birth of their Tom-Kitten" is news to some. The parents claim that it's a Hebrew name for "princess". Well, the Israelites state that there's only a very vague connection with that name's meaning. And why is an avowed Scientologist giving his daughter a Hebrew name? So did he really name it after the Hebrew nickname for Sarah or is the meaning more ominous?

In Japanese, the name SURI (掏り or すり) means pickpocket or sneak theif! What kind of a career are Tom & Katie planning for their daughter? Will she be a villain in the next Batman movie starring her mom?
I found my thrills...

...On Silent Hill.

I've never played the game, never read the comics nor ever knew a movie existed. I just like the pun...it should be used in the promos.
If you DO want to learn more, you can always visit the fine people at SONY's Silent Hill.


What the heck is that gibberish?

I have a request of my faithful readers out in cyberland. I occasionally write down some Kanji 漢字(Chinese Characters) in my posts. For those who live in Japan or those who have left Japan but brought their PC with them, reading these characters is easy (understanding them is another matter). I often get emails from home and, if there is any punctuation, it can't be interpreted by my computer and it comes up with some bizarre Chinese characters to try and compensate.

So my request is this: Does anyone know of a program that can be downloaded for free that will interpret Kanji? If so, please send it to me in a comment or to my
aoxoltl atmark hotmail.com
address. I will post it and then I can add more Kanji to my postings and make my Japanese friends happy. YOU may actually learn something too.
(ps. It's not that I'm so lazy that I can't research it myself, but rather, that since I can already read Kanji, I have no idea if the download is useful or not so I can't make recommendations.)
Show me Show You 醤油 Kikkoman

This is just too warped not to share with you. I came across an ad for "Kikkoman Soysauce" (醤油, shouyu is Japanese for soy sauce) featuring a superhero called Kikkoman. If you've ever eaten a 弁当, bento (lunchbox), you often receive a little plastic, fish-shaped container of soy sauce inside. As you can see Kikkoman has a fish-shaped head. I see that he fights ketchup and vinegar makers and helps other needy people (I'm not sure why the dog hangs itself though). Okay, enough blathering...here's the link.
Odorama...coming to a cinema near you!

I just read that "The New World", the so-so historical epic with Colin Farrell will be released in "Smell-o-vision" here in 2 theaters in Japan. Fragrances of flowers and eucalyptus etc. will waft through the aisles during appropriate romantic/ dramatic moments.

I am NOT looking forward to a re-release of Blazing Saddles!
The Seventh Inning Stretch marks

...an interesting tradition. In the 6th inning, in addition to the cute young girls carrying a tankard of draught beer on their backs, snacks or OJ, young hucksters sell balloons to the fans.

Then during the 7th inning, everyone inflates these balloons, which now resemble red or white, meter-long spermatozoa. After the team song, the balloons are released, shooting off into an orgasmic display of delight, then you see fireworks and everyone goes and smokes a cigarette.

I don't know what it does for team spirit, but it got me excited!


They suck, But They Have Fun While Sucking!

(Wait...that doesn't sound right.)
Anyway, I saw a Rakuten Eagles baseball game tonight. It was my first time in the stadium for a professional game (I saw our school's Boys' team play on Saturday where they won 8-2) and it was a ton of fun!

The group mentality of the Japanese people is once again verified during their sporting events. They have a chant and/ or a song for each player that is blissfully bellowed out upon their players arrival to the dugout. They harmoniously announce each player, cheering them on, accompanied by the rattling of megaphones and a hypnotic dance. I was happy to be assimilated into their collective and joined in the chorus as best as I could. Alas, my Canadian companion and myself were unsuccessful in convincing them to join us in a few Canuck chants ("Nah, Nah, Naaah, Nah--Nah, Nah, Naaah, Nah, Hey, He-ey, Good bye" when changing pitchers for example),
but we did get a few odd stares from our neighbours.

The game itself was undramatic. A close 1st inning was tied at one apiece but shortly thereafter the visiting team (Chiba's Lotte...last years pennant winner) took over and trounced us gleefully. The final score was 8-3 for the bad guys.

But who cares?!? It was a great time, a nice night (cool but with no breeze) and the first of many games I plan to attend.

Tomorrow, I hope to tell you about the seventh inning stretch. Now THAT is a sight to behold...


It's genius!

Here we have Monty Python and the Holy Grail "Camelot" scene done with "Lego" bricks. I love it!
A Word of Advice for Hanami seeking men...

If you want to partake in some sake sipping while basking in the odour and beauty of overhanging cherry blossoms, be sure to do so with a couple of guys along. Last night I went to Haranomachi (about a 90 minute train ride south) to go check out the blossoms with 4 female friends (I know, only 4, I must be slipping.) Well after getting our goodies for a picnic under the stars (okay, clouds last night), we went to the main Cherry Orchard. I'd have been better off reading Ibsen.

Upon arrival, the chorus of "samui, samui!" began (English translation...it's really cold.) Well, I concur it was a bit cool, but I came all the way out there to admire the season and after a quick walk around, it was deemed too freezing by the majority (of frigid females) and we got back in the cars and ate our picnic inside a nice cosy house.

All this was tolerable, but I'm sure if there had been one extra y-chromosome, the party would have transpired as planned. Here's where the evening gets bizarre. The hostess is a BIG fan of Kat-tun, one of the innumerable J-pop boy-bands over here. So on goes the video. It was a Shonen special featuring several boy-bands, but I'll be damned if I could distinguish one from the other. There were "Kinki Kids", "Johnny's Juniors", "Kat-tun" of course, and my favouritely-entitled band, the "YaYaYahs". It was a pederast's paradise. All these scantilly clad young men and boys girating around, parading their hairless chests and singing in high squeaky voices.

Eventually my sarcastic protests prevailed and off went the tv and we conversed like normal humans, not like love-sick puppies drooling over a dish. So I got the last train home and the only real cherry tree I got to see well was a display for a phone company in the center of Sendai station. Ironically, once I got further north, it had actually warmed up, the clouds had dissipated and the moon and stars started to peep out. I walked home (about 50 min.) and it was warm enough that I didn't need to wear gloves.

This week, the blossoms should be blooming in Sendai. Do you think I'll attend a Sakura party with a few guys along? You bet I will!
It's a Smigel World After All...

Watch this before Disney sues SNL!

Too late!! The video has been removed. I guess Disney doesn't have much of a sense of humour and don't like to see Walt portrayed as a racist. If you look around, you may be able to see other Smigel videos, but I don't guarantee it.


LEAF no man behind!

Well it may work for George, but it won't work for Toronto. The Maple Leafs (Leaves??) have been eliminated. They poured it on in the end, but too little, too late.

I guess I'll have to root for Ottawa Senators now. Not because they're hot, but because they deserve a chance at the cup. They often got eliminated by the Leaves in the first round. Now they have NO excuse. I can always fall back on the Edmonton Oilers and wouldn't that be a cool Stanley Cup?


Hymenoptera or Hymen-operators?

(Boy is that obscure or what?)

Last nights Echophonyk event was a blast. We had quite a big crowd and everyone had a good time. Especially these two girls...
They were incredibly cute and sexy young (very young) fillies who flitted from gaijin to gaijin like bees gathering nectar. They would hang off the arm of one foreigner and then move on to the next, have a dance and then bounce over to another. It was quite intriguing to see the busy bees dance and I wonder if any cross-pollination occurred.

Dj Mokgohan was in fine form, starting off the night with his eclectic mix of the funky and the groovy. Next came DJ Mark Saito who kept the tunes coming including his funky Police "Every Breath You Take" mix. The newest and cutest DJ, Kuni, played her HIPpity HOPpity melodies and for a diehard HipHop enemy, I surprisingly enjoyed about 30% and tolerated the rest. The audience certainly seemed to appreciate it; they should, most of the crowd were her friends! DJ Mixture continued the beat and, alas, I had to leave shortly after J-Loop started pumping (sorry J.)

But a good time was had by all and as soon as I can figure out how to download photos onto my pc, I'll post some pics.

Next month's Echophonyk Extravaganza will be May 12th. And then on June 9th, it just so happens to coincide with a little sporting event called "The World Cup". It promises to be a jam-packed jamboree!
And stay tuned for big news on DJ Mokgohan and his new band!


How Easter Eggs are made...

I may not have time to post on Sunday, so don't get Cross with me if I wish you all a "Happy Easter" on Good Friday.

May the Bunny be good to you all and your basket overflow with goodies...
Get SHAFTed at Shaft!

In an earlier post (04/06), I let you know a little about Echophonyk. Tomorrow is our monthly event and a good time is expected. COME ON DOWN!

For those in the neighbourhood, you may want to check out the Shaft website for their monthly calendar. From there, you can get LINKed to other party venues within the city. For details, go to: Shaft.
Want to know some trivia about trivia?

My old (really old) Latin teacher explained that trivia refers to a crossroads or the meeting of three roads (tri=three; via=by way of). If you know the old phrase, "All roads lead to Rome." It refers to the crossroads of Rome where the three main roads met (I can only remember the name of one road-Via Appia).

Now that I have that off my chest, let's answer the previous GCTC questions.

What is KD? Well, Americans may better know it as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but to we Canadians who grew up with KRAFT DINNER, that would be its more common nomenclature. Many a weekend lunch would be adorned with this treat and back in my University days, mix it with tuna or tomato sauce for the cheapest of meals (4-5 boxes for a dollar, back then!)

Who were the Horsemen? Well, those stalwart troops who protected our land, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) or Mounties. From the days of "Rose Marie" when Nelson Eddy sang "When I'm Calling You" to the animation of the pun-filled "Dudley DoRight", Mounties will "always get their man" (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

What does "Canada" mean? Canada is named after an old Native term for "village" (mura 村). When Jacques Cartier was first exploring "The Great White North", the aboriginal people (Hurons) directed him to a village which in their language they called "Kanata", the site of present day Quebec City.

What is the name of Canada's group of Superheroes? They are of course, "Alpha Flight", created by Canadian comic artist/ writer John Byrne for the comic Uncanny X-Men #120-121 back in 1983, which starred fellow Canadian and ex-Alpha Flight member, Wolverine. SNIKKKT!

I hope you found that fascinating, and if you didn't, well click elsewhere...it's a free-ish country!

Today's trivia...What famous bear is named after the Canadian city of Winnipeg? (hint: he's really popular in Japan.)

If any of you out their dispute the "facts" that I've recounted, please enlighten me. There's enough BS floating around the net, that I certainly don't need to add to it!


More trivia!

"Thank God! I thought you'd forgotten!", you must all be exclaiming. Here goes an easy one...

What is the name of Canada's own Superhero group? (Hint: Wolverine of X-men fame was once a member.)

One of these days, I may even post the answers to these trivial but fascinating questions.
Working the bugs out...

I finally managed to embed a video for your viewing pleasure. Unfortunately, I can't get rid of the gobbledygook attached to it. Give it time, loyal readers. (Hit the play button on the top picture and ignore the other mess.)
Viewing hints: Start downloading, then open another window and surf the net for an hour or so, then when you go back, hit replay.
One of my latest guilty pleasures is watching "Puffy Ami Yumi" videos or listening to their tunes. I find them to be very versatile in their music stylings are are not your typical J-Pop group. They also seem to be having a lot of FUN while singing/dancing/putzing around.
From time to time, I'll try and embed a few video picks (hopefully, a little more competently next time) and let me know what you think.


Let the Battle begin!

This is an intriguing ceremony called 対面式 "taimenshiki" which roughly translates as "face-to-face meeting". The junior 1st year students 後輩 (kouhai) face their superiors 先輩 (2nd and 3rd senpai), two representatives make a speech, then they bow to one another.

Last year, I made the snide comment that this is the opportunity for kouhai to choose their bully and the senpai to choose their victim. This year, it reminded me of the movie "Battle Royale" and I fully expected the vice principle to shoot one of the chattier students in the forehead and then have the gym teachers proceed to hand out various forms of weaponry, from kitchen knives to machete; pea shooters to bazookas (as in the movie). Ultimately I was disappointed that this didn't happen, but on the other hand, if it had occurred, I'd be out of a job.



Wow, the amount of hits I've been receiving in response to my Trivia challenge has been overwhelming...a grand total of ZERO! Are they too tough? Too inane? Not silly enough?
Here goes #3: What does CANADA mean? (hint- the Japanese translation is 村, "mura".)
If Samuel Clemens can do it...

I've decided to go with a pseudonym at the top (er, ah...actually bottom) of my post. I was hoping to go for a bit of anonymity in case I develop a stalker following. Unfortunately, it appears that I can't change any of my posts under my name, so the point becomes moot. But future postings will be using an alias beside that lovely picture of Kent Brockman.
I've used Michael-Sensei because that is the term used by all the brats I taught a while back in Hicksville (I mean Soma.) They usually yelled out the name "Michael-Sensei" before jumping on my back or even worse doing the old "double-handed, index finger-pointing goose" that kids (and some adults) love to do.
Now if anyone can come up with a better nickname for me, I'll consider all reasonable suggestions. Just don't used the terms: "short", "chubby" or "short chubby" please.
Open the box, you'll be glad you did.

Before I head home, there is one thing that I need to inform you of. There's this pretty cool site that will build your listening library for you. It's called :
Pandora and you just type in a few artist that you like and it'll automatically give you a tune of theirs and then another tune by a similar artist, and so on and so on and so on. You can eliminate the crap, keep the goodies and even buy the tunes if you want, (but who would want to? It's FREE!)
You can send your library to a friend if you'd like (although when I tried, it didn't really work.)

UPDATE: It no longer works outside Japan! Doh!


LOST in translation.

Well, I've watched the first 20 episodes of "LOST" now and am as much in the dark as when I first started watching it. But I must say that it is the best scripted, most intriguing and most wonderfully acted Sci-fi/Action/Drama that I've seen in many a day.

If anyone in the Japan area wants to do some chatting about this show, I'd love to share my thoughts with you on the show. I do NOT want to chat with anyone outside of Japan, because you are one or two seasons ahead of me and it's hard enough keeping the show a surprise when one reads headlines on the net. My biggest fear now is that AXN is going to put the first season into reruns soon which means I have to wait another 20 weeks for new episodes.

(They love to do that here. We're already 2-3 seasons behind in a show and they'll show it here weekly. Then instead of starting the second season, they'll repeat the first one. It gets really frustrating for a TV junkie to get his fix!)

Okay, I just watched a movie about a musical called "The Producers." Now, I didn't see the DVD of the movie about a musical based on the musical about a movie based on a musical, I saw the original movie about a musical that inspired the musical about a musical based on a movie about a musical. Confused? Well, you should be. It's impossible to see that DVD of the movie about a musical based on the musical about a movie based on a musical here in Japan, because it hasn't been released yet. Actually, last week, the movie about a musical based on a movie about a movie about a musical was just released here in Japan. So next week, I hope to go see the movie about a musical based on a musical based on a movie about a musical so that I can compare it to the movie about a musical that I just saw.
If anyone wants to explain the above posting to me, please do so.

(By the way, the pun at the top refers to the Japanese word 懐かしい (natsukashi) which means "Nostalgia" and of course the movie has "Springtime For Hitler", a wonderful tune about Nazis.)

Not much to talk about today so far, so here's another Canadian Trivia question:
What are the "Horsemen" better known as? Hint-Dudley DoRight.


A group called "MONKEY MAJIK" is taking Japan by storm. Well I had a few beers with one of the guys last night, and a nicer guy you'll never meet (unless you meet me of course). You can check out their website if you're interested and maybe pick up one of their cds. You may be pleasantly surprised.
go to Monkey Majik.
It may be a little difficult to understand if you don't speak Japanese, but you should be able to make heads and/or tails of it.
The Great Canadian Trivia Challenge!

I've decided to start a new daily posting. Offer available to all non-Canadians or to those Canadians who never leave their basement and whose only knowledge of the outside world is viewed through a pc monitor. What will you win? My admiration (what more could you possibly need?)

Today's question? What is "KD"? (Hint: you eat it.)
Noise annoys!

As you can imagine after reading last night's tirade (which by the way, I have no desire to reread, so if there are typos, live with it), I had a few pints last night and have a teeny-tiny smidgeon of a hangover today. The last thing you need, is to be awoken by a blaring loudspeaker. Well, that happens here on a daily basis. Trucks drive around the city blaring out their pitch at a pitch that must drive the dogs nuts. Somehow, they manage to reach an aural zone that irritates more than it educates. One truck offers to collect your large appliances from you (I assume they haul away broken items to the dump for you, I don't really know). Just when you manage to nod off to sleep again, they make a second tour of the neighbourhood in order to blast their point into your inner ear again. Other trucks drive around promoting the latest Pachinko and, at night, you can hear the high-pitched whistle of the sweet potato trucks. Do you ever really get a craving for a sweet potato at 11pm? Well fortunately, when they're in season, that craving can be assuaged.
Don't get me started when it's election time around here! Take my word for it, it gets really, really noisy.
Recitat emptor...Let the reader beware!

Really sorry for the previous post, but sometimes in order to exorcise your demons, you need to exercise your demons. Good night and perhaps tomorrow in my hungover state, I'll get back to my jovial self.
Warning: drunken blog alert! (but there is a happy ending)
I've just returned from a friend's party where we were supposed to celebrate the christening of a new child. And you know what, not everything that is posted at this site is going to be gumdrops and sugarplums.
I was happy to party with new friends and old; Congrats to Ed and Ayako(?) to their kid and super congrats to the latest edition of the Ando household, but that's not the crux of this blog.
I had the opportunity to converse with an infrequent acquaintance (Ringo) in whom I see a bit of my past self. (For those who don't know me well, prior to setting up shop as a happy go lucky teacher in Japan, I put in 15-20 years in the social work field. I worked in a correctional facility (met my first psychotic, don't you know, but also prevented my first suicide), then moved onto a homeless shelter where for 5 years, I kept the needy and the not so needy off the streets of Toronto. (As an aside, all of my social work had been met with corruption at some point...in this case, the Director embezzled several thousand dollars, on the pretense of opening a new shelter). Hey, this is where I met my second, (plus...) of many verified psychos, but worst of all I met the victims of some of the most hideous individuals on the planet. But it gets worse. I then moved on to working in Children's Aid assessment homes for another half a decade, again meeting the spawn of some truly warped wackos. Then after most of my lack of trust in humanity had been personified, I moved on to work in Welfare for another 5 years, where I met some of the biggest liars and manipulators on the planet.

Ok enough of that. I quit the life of a social worker and went back to school to become a teacher of English as a Second Language. After a year or two of teaching in Toronto in various ESL schools, I decided to make the big leap and plunged into the scene, teaching in Japan.
This is where the good news seeps into this blog. Many collegues have lamented over the state of teaching here (myself included), but compared to how bad it COULD be, teaching here is a piece of the proverbial cake. For the most part, the students are a joy to behold and I have NEVER regretted coming here in the least. Even when I worked at NOVA (not the best place to have a positive teaching experience), I was happy. Then when an old friend got me a job at a high school in Sendai, I reached the pinnacle of my life...the best job ever (to date). Unfortunately, it only lasted 2 years (financial reasons for the school) and I had to work in a small Eikawa-Juku school for THREE years. But then fortune smiled upon me again and I am starting my second year at another High School, here in my favourite city of Sendai.

Now here is where the happy ending takes place...I spent the night talking about my social work past (not the really nasty bits-nobody needs to hear that crap) and I realised that I have done a lot of good in my past. Now I am working in a field where I am truly happy and damn good at my job! And you know what, I fully expect that one of these days, my personal life will improve and I'll become the recipient of some of the happiness that I know I richly deserve. (Come on KARMA has to work out for me someday.)
Here is where the HAPPY ENDING comes in to play.
The music tonight consisted of "Baila Baila" which is some kind of mutant Latin-Salsa-Samba combination. I tried dancing with a potential paramour earlier in the evening to no avail, but the best part of the night was dancing with my friend's beautiful fiancee in my inimitably bizarre fashion, where for a few minutes, I was swept away in a moment of true happiness.
And you know what, it wasn't such a bad night after all!


More nerd than geek, I'm afraid.

Ok, I'm new at this computer stuff. You can't click on those links and be miraculously whisked away to Webbed bliss. You're going to have to cut and paste. So sue me. (CORRECTED!)
On another similar matter, several people have emailed me asking, "How do I find your blog?" Well, I certainly can't answer that here, now can I? (I hope they can get this message another way.) Another person (see previous photo) has commented that he's unable to rsvp or comment to my entry. Well, blame the fine hosts at Blogger.com for that.
Cheers people: If you'd like to comment, you may have to register with Blogger, or you can write me at aoxoltlatmarkhotmail.com if you'd like to remain anonomous (Then I'll just go behind your back and publish your comments in a separate blog...hehhehheh.)

This fine fellow in the photo is DJ Mokgohan. As yet, he doesn't have any tunes posted on the WEB but should one of these days.
BUT, for those starved for entertainment...
Here are some links to the webpages of some those Echophonyk DJs I mentioned earlier. Click away and scam some of their tunes for your Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and Funerals.
DJ Mark Saito.
DJ Curtis Maranda.
DJ Mixture.
Be afraid, be very afraid...

I just finished Opening Ceremonies at my school...



One of the ways in which I spend my time and money is supporting my DJ friends at one of our local drinking establishments. We have been partying in a hearty fashion for over 6 years under the banner of ECHOPHONYK. Here is a link to the homepage, that admittedly is still in its foetal stage. In the future, there will be lots of pics and hopefully music you can buy or download. In your more esoteric moments, please link to: Echophonyk.

For those of you who live in the Sendai area, come to the next event on April 14th from 9 till whenever. Copy the flyer to get an extra drink. If you don't live nearby, and a 3000km commute is out of the question, browse around the sight.
A musical interlude...

Back in my university days (Guelph Ontario) many, many years ago, I was involved in an annual Musical event called "Curtain Call". We took a famous musical, then stole the tunes, rewrote the lyrics and based the theme in a university setting. I was in 6 of these (I went back to school twice after graduating, just to be in them) and they had Agriculture-related themes such as: "My Fair Aggie", or "Bye Bye Artsie", or my starring roles in "Gidget Goes to Guelph" and "Vet Side Story".
Back in my NOVA days when I first arrived in Japan, it was a less than pleasant experience living in Tokyo and barely scraping by. I took one of the tunes and adapted it to life in Japan and now for your reading pleasure, will reproduce the lyrics for you. Please hum along to "Lovely" from "My Fair Lady" as you read:

Wouldn’t It Be Lovely?
All I want is a room somewhere,
Mine and peaceful, with room to spare.
Sink, stove and fridge, large chair,
Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely?

Lots of blankets to warm my feet,
Nice shag carpets, some central heat,
And home-cooked meals to eat…
Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely?

Oh, so lovely meeting new acquaintances at will,
I have heard so much of those …
with English fluency.

Qualified teachers with skills to share,
Lots of time to give special care.
Large rooms, broad desk, fur chair …
Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely?

BUT, all I got was a tiny room.
With salarymen that’re drunk by noon.
Just pray, you’ll move out soon…
And then, it would be lovely.

Not paper walls, you can hear right through,
Late night partying is all they do.
This place is like a zoo..
I wish it could be lovely.

Oh, how lovely to be living in a cardboard crate,
All you can do is pray that there is no…
Massive earthquake,

Is this really the best I’ll find?
It’s not at all what I had in mind.
Yet, it’s what I’ve been assigned…
But wouldn’t it be lovely?
Lovely, Lovely, Lovely.
JUNO what?

One of the runners up in the Jazz award section of the Junos is an up'n'coming Russian-born, 21-year old, Toronto-based sensation. She has a very mellow and melodious voice and is well-complemented by her back-up band. You can actually hear some of her tunes online (without paying or registering!) at her website and there's another free tune over at her Record Label's site here.

Give it a listen...you'll be glad you did. (Oh yeah, she's cute too!)


I'm GORN to try something:

My first attempt to embed a link to a video.
Obviously I was unsuccessful. I'll try again later.
Homer's Odyssey:

Here's a teaser for the new Simpsons' movie...
By the way, whenever I post a video (which I'll try and do every now and then), I suggest you go do your laundry or run a marathon or something while it downloads. Then go back and watch it in its entirety.

*DOH! Link is defunct!!
Try this instead.

I finally figured out how to set my school computer to English so it's a little more comprehensible to publish. I changed the time on my posts to Japanese time, so now all my previous posts have Japanese times allotted them. They were wacky before, set at some USA standard time, but now they are even wackier (to non-Japan residents anyway). From now on posts will reflect the hour in which they were first published in Japan. Whew.
Warning: NERD ALERT!

Okay, I just finished watching Smallville and it connects to the original movies by having Christopher Reeve show up. I don't want to get too "geeky fan-boy" but I really, really liked the episode. Can't wait for the new flick!


When Nature calls...

I answer. Last Saturday morning, an old hiking companion and I went to a park in IZUMI. She is my longest lasting native-Japanese friend since arriving at this amazing group of islands. We often explore Japan's mountains and oceans and parks and so on. Well we went to 県民の森 (kenmin no mori) a location we went to on one of our earliest outings over 5 years ago. Unfortunately, spring has not yet sprung here and it was pretty bleak, all brown and yucky with none of the verdant green bursting forth. The only Nature per se was a single solitary butterfly (not even a bird!) That is, unless you count the sight we noticed, en route to the park.

There was a car parked along the side of the road barely a kilometre away from the entrance to the park. Squatting beside the car was a young woman who had just completed her business and was proceeding to hike up her panties. My friend and I expressed our surprise for this was not some backwoods dirt road, but rather a fairly major thoroughfare. I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go!

When I lived in Soma last year (for THREE YEARS, hard to believe), I often saw the city being used as a lavatory for the drunken Salarymen stumbling home. A week would not go by without seeing someone relieve themselves at the side of the street (or while progressively staggering down the street.) More often than not, they would partake of this adventure having just departed the facility from which they filled up on liquid. Must be long lineups to the loo inside, I guess. This was just the first time I'd seen a woman do it (and hopefully she wasn't drunk while driving.)

Now, I'm not prudish in any way, for I have been known to unzip and squirt from time to time. Except, I try to do it in a slightly unobtrusive fashion (like behind a tree or in an alley.) And, of course, we Canadian males have a long tradition of priding ourselves in writing our names in the snow. (Perhaps the ONLY area where men are truly superior to women.) The reason I bring this up is...It must be really difficult to write your name in the snow in KANJI! Imagine the precise control you'd need?!?!
Tim Burton:

For any big fan of Burton (like me), http://home.comcast.net/~othastar/TimBurton.html">this webpage) is essential. There are innumerable trailers and teasers, but be sure to watch his Vincent Price tribute in its entirety and the commercials are good (especially The Garden Gnome.) If anyone wants to pick up a copy of OysterBoy for me, I'd be eternally grateful.
Take Me UP To the Ball Game.

Does anyone remember this Nelvana show from the 80's about a baseball team playing against aliens? I can't find much info on it (Maurice LaMarche did a voice...that's it.)

In other Baseball news. The big Toronto Blue Jays opener is tomorrow. Can they overcome their injuries to win? Very suspenseful.

The Sendai team, the Rakuten Eagles, continue to suck...

More breaking news as it transpires...

Ups and Downs:
Yay. My favourite Jazz Singer, Diana Krall won a JUNO award for her Christmas album. A JUNO is Canada's version of the Grammy's. They both mean better sales for the artists and the ceremonies usually have slutty hosts. (Case in point...Pamela Anderson just hosted the JUNOS)
Boo. The Leafs lost in a shootout. Bang, bang, they shot me down. Sure they get one point, but at this point, it's pointless.
My friend, Claire Voyant, sent me this:
"Did you hear about the midget psychic who escaped from prison?
It was reported as a small medium at large."

And I thought up this one: I went to a Palm Reader to find out why I'm so lonely. She said, "I can't help you until you shave your palms."
I fear that this blog is going to become the source of jokes for the Psychic Network. Keep sending them in...I foresee many more dumb puns in your future...Look out Dionne Warwick, you may soon be out of a job (but if she's truly psychic, she'll see it coming.)


Now I feel like Methuselah:
Remember my first posting about feeling old just by putting on a pair of glasses? Well I heard from an ex-girlfriend who tells me that I look like her father. That's just a little creepy.
Now I know how Clark Kent feels. An entire shift in personality just by putting on some specs!
Set your alarms!
It's almost time. Be sure to set your alarm so you don't miss this epochal moment:
On Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06. This won't ever happen again (well not until the year 2107 anyway.)
Of course in Japan, we have to until May 4th at 2 minutes and 1 second past 3 in the morning. Set your alarms again to 06/05/04 03:02:01!
Aum My Gawd!:
I just read about some bonehead blowing himself up in a Tim Horton's donut shop in downtown Toronto. You'd think walking into the washroom with a full tank of gasoline would make someone suspicious. Well the fumes made someone suspicious and fortunately there were no other injuries. As for the Donut demolitionist, he's been blown to Timbits!
I used to work in that neighbourhood and had infrequently frequented that particular Tims. Spooky!
(For the non-Canadians reading this, Tim Horton's is a former Hockey player turned restauranteur. He snuffed it in a car crash a while back, but his legacy lives on. Tims has recently upped their presence, even outnumbering Starbucks in some cities. a Timbit is from the centre of a doughnut and flavoured with sprinkles or jam.)
I'm Von Trapped guy:
Yesterday, I attended a Music Concert...
Yesterday I walked out with a bounce in my step and a song in my heart...I had fun!
ps. I promise not all my postings will be this long. But it needed to be said...dammit!
You really need crystal balls to make this joke:
I plan on adding something remotely profound later, but for now, please forgive me in advance for the following:


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