Still catching up on zzzs so just a brief post tonight. While in Tokyo, I stumbled across a new KitKat that I haven't yet seen in my neck of the woods. Gran Wafer sounds as though it should be much larger but it is just this teeny thing made of a bitter chocolate and it was slightly stale.

In one of the Gas stands along the highway (I think it was Mito), there were some of those unique yet expensive boxes of KitKats. I saw a Cheesecake, something unknown and a Wasabi. Wasabi has been my Holy Grail. I first saw Wasabi-flavoured in a UFO-Catcher bin in one of those impossible to win scooping crane games. I just tasted it and I must say I was thoroughly disappointed.  Tasted like a Green Tea and had absolutely NO hotness whatsoever. Booo!

Sad to say that I may have to give up my KitKat-Kwest. I've already cut out all other sweets, so I think this may be my last KitKat. (Unless something else cool crops up, that is.)

Deck Blue Note with Cole of Holly.

Falalalala, lalalalaa.
I've been incognito of late, mainly due to a brief sojourn to Tokyo. It was a last-minute decision; I wrangled a ticket & booked a Hotel room* on Wednesday, and convinced my coworker, Dan to be my copilot. (*He actually booked the Hotel room and though the bed was slightly uncomfortable, overall it was cheap and sufficient.)

I didn't buy much loot but I did visit several pals, details of which I'll describe later. For now, let me tell you about Holly Cole, who I saw at Blue Note.
Holly and I go way back. I first saw her in the late 80s at Clintons and then at Ontario Place and a few other gigs over the next decade. I never quite made it to stalker status, though I did miss an opportunity to chat her up once. Big City Improv held a Star Trek parody. They'd take classic TOS episodes and then perform them live to a studio audience. I recall seeing Amok Time and maybe one other. Every show, they had a different "Celebrity Red Shirt" who would have the honour of dying on stage. I heard through the grapevine that Holly would be that night's casualty so I promptly booked a ticket to see her. While waiting in the wings at half-time, she was right in front of me ... our eyes met ... I opened my mouth to speak ... and then wimped out and said nothing. (Worst stalker ever.)

In an alternate universe somewhere, I engaged her in witty repartee and we now have several kids together.

The last time I was hoping to see her was in March 2011 but that didn't occur thanks to the Quake/ Tsunami/ Meltdown triumvirate. From what I hear, she was so devastated by the catastrophe that she hadn't performed for months afterwards. I'm glad she chose to return!

The first thing that struck me upon entering Blue Note is how tiny it is from the outside and how huge it is inside.

She has a new album out entitled, "Night" and performed most of the tunes from it. (Click for track listings.)

The musicians walked in singing "Walk Away" and she blasted out a sultry version of the Tom Waits tune.

Next up was "You Only Live Twice". I whispered to the trio of college gals that it was a James Bond tune and they piped in with a "Naruhodou" (You don't say.)

We also got a very cool smooth version of "Viva Las Vegas" and Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind." An original tune of hers, "You've Got a Secret" and "If You Go Away" were favourites of mine. The tune I loved the most was another Waits, "Whistlin' Past the Graveyard".

Upon walking out, I finally fulfilled my ambition of speaking to her with "Thank you very much, Holly" to which she replied with a "You're so Welcome" and she grasped my hand. WOOHOO!

Her encore consisted of "Calling You", "Tender Trap" and "I Can See Clearly Now", all highly appreciated. During this exit, she walked out with Aaron Davis and David Piltch and I murmured, "The Holly Cole Trio" which made Aaron beam with pride.


A Post Post.

I have a Net-pal who is a huge Oz fan, so I sent him a little package including an Oz book and a pamphlet advertising the new Oz movie. I don't want to show any photos now so it can remain a surprise for him. Got some cool Snake & Disney stamps for the envelope too!
Nice scribbling job, eh!

I also sent a package filled with Hulk paraphernalia to another Net-pal. In return, he's sending me a set of Mars Attacks cards! Woohoo! More Snake stamps!

I'm not just sending stuff though, today I actually received some stuff! My pal Hinnie who is a recent recipient of some Masking Tape sent me some goodies in appreciation. A Spider-Man mug and some Captain America socks! Yay!

She's a devious one though, she also ordered a pair of socks for herself, another tape and an incredibly cool Stay-puff man for her iPhone.

 Not a problem though, I forgot to send her some stickers last time and I recently acquired several new tapes for her as well. I can't wait to see what new loot I'll be getting in return!


Nice Pair!

As a Christmas present to myself, I picked up a pair of SW mugs. Originally priced at 3800yen each, I landed them for 3 bucks a pop! Those are really ugly.

I had a problem with accessing my blog last night, so this is a test entry. It appears to be working. If I feel like writing something more substantial later, I shall but I think I'm heading to bed soon!


Wacky Weather.

This is my first winter in Japan with wheels and I wasn't sure whether it'd weather the weather but it came out relatively unscathed after our first major snowfall. Yesterday was a holiday, Coming of Age Day and a fire festival wherein participants burn their New Year's decorations and their Rabbits* dubbed Don't Sigh. (*They don't actually burn Rabbits, rather their icon from last year's Year of the Rabbit.) It was damned cold yesterday and it snowed ALL day culminating in over 15cm of the white fluffy stuff. I didn't attend the bonfire but for the first time I was fortunate enough to see the 裸参り (Hadaka Mairi = Naked Pilgrimage).

It's a purification ritual intended to measure one's endurance. A piece of paper, sometimes with a coin enwrapped, is gripped in your teeth to ensure quiet contemplation. I think it's to keep one from shivering and complaining. One of my friends has done the trek three years in a row!

I spent a good hour in the morning brushing off my car and shoveling around it. I made two guardians to protect it from the snowstorm.

I popped into NHK to see what the latest Balloon creature would be and then had lunch at Sasebo for an Avocado burger. They too had a pair of guardians.

I returned home a few hours later and discovered that my guardians had become mummified!

 My drive to work only took an extra hour today (Japan has a policy of not removing the snow but rather having trucks and buses driving over it with chains on their tires crushing the snow into the pavement and making millions of mini-speed bumps.) Once I arrived at the school, I had to dig out a spot in the parking lot in order to park my car!

I wonder what tomorrow shall bring?

The Envelope Please.

I intended on doing this post earlier and now the darned Golden Globe winners have already been announced. In an effort to do my predictions unbiased, I've tried to ignore them but those darn Internetters won't yell Spoiler Alert! (Ok, I heard that Wolverine won something, Brave won something and Les Miz won something.)
The complete list of the 83rd Annual Academy Award nominations were announced Tuesday and just like last year, I will put my desired win in bold and what I think will win in italics or both if they overlap.
I think every year I see fewer and fewer Oscar movies so this will be as tough as ever. To aid my vast Japanese readership, here is a link in Japanese.

Amour     Never heard of it. Probably something to do with Love.
Argo      I almost saw this but it disappeared quickly. I wouldn't mind this winning something as it shows Canadians as heroes.
Django Unchained     Not released yet. Definitely want to see it. Hope it wins!
Les Misérables     My favourite joke about this: "The name's Miserables, Les Miserables." (Victor Hugo via Ian Fleming.) In theatres now, doing well. Will see it someday.
Life Of Pi     I like movies about math but doesn't this one go on ad infinitum?
Lincoln     I am really shocked that the movie about Lincoln fighting Vampires got so many nominations!
Zero Dark Thirty     Never heard of it. Probably something to do with 00000X6.
Beasts Of The Southern Wild     Never heard of it. Probably something to do with wild beasts of the south.
Silver Linings Playbook     Never heard of it. Probably something to do with clouds & silver linings.

I haven't seen any of these and have little desire to see any of them either. None of these strike me as winners, so I'll have to guess!
Life Of Pi - Ang Lee
Lincoln - Steven Spielberg
Amour - Michael Haneke
Silver Linings Playbook - David O. Russell
Beasts Of The Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlin (Long shot or what!)

Yet again, all unseen. It would be nice to see a male lead in a musical win an Oscar. When is the last time that happened?
Denzel Washington - Flight
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix - The Master

I like all of these actors so it's a tough call.

Alan Arkin - Argo
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln

Not only do I know nothing about the movies, I know very little about these actresses. I think I'll go with a longshot.

Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Naomi Watts - The Impossible

Since Meryl Streep wasn't nominated for anything, maybe we'll see a new winner this year.

Amy Adams - The Master
Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables Again crossing my fingers for a singing role.

Helen Hunt - The Sessions
Sally Field - Lincoln "They like me, they really really like me again." I'd like to see this as Sally's opening acceptance speech.
Jacky Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook

Curiously three out of five are stop-action and none are CG. Liked Brave, loved Frankenweenie, will probably enjoy the other three on DVD since they won't come here in English. Slightly irked that "Up on Poppy Hill wasn't even considered.

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists

I'm going to go with the Canuck connection. Winner may go to the Lincoln logs.
Chris Terrio - Argo
Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin - Beasts Of The Southern Wild
David Magee - Life Of Pi
Tony Kushner - Lincoln
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook

I'm going to go all in with QT.

Michael Haneke - Amour
Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola - Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins - Flight

I'd like to have a movie that I've actually seen win something, so Skyfall!!

Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained - Robert Richardson
Life Of Pi - Claudio Miranda
Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall - Roger Deakins

Ever since Edith Head died, I have no idea who'd win in this category.

Anna Karenina - Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables - Paco Delgado
Lincoln - Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror - Eiko Ishioka She's Japanese so she gets my encouragement by default.

Snow White And The Huntsman - Colleen Atwood

Huh? No idea. 

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How To Survive A Plague This might have zombies, so it gets my nod.
The Invisible War A complete guess.
Searching For Sugar Man

Huh? No idea again.

Inocente It sounds as though it could be French Canadian.
Kings Point
Mondays At Racine
Open Heart

Argo - William Goldenberg
Life Of Pi - Tim Squyres
Zero Dark Thirty - Dylan Tichenor, William Goldenberg
Lincoln - Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook - Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers

Amour - Austria Wait, isn't this also up for best picture?

Kon-Tiki - Norway
No - Chile
A Royal Affair - Denmark
War Witch - Canada Duh.

Because The Hobbit was in super-duper high-def, some could see (I couldn't) that the makeup was less than pristine. Therefore I'm going to go with the master of suspense.
Hitchcock - Julie Hewett, Martin Samuel, Howard Berger
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater
Les Misérables - Lisa Westcott

Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli
Argo - Alexandre Desplat
Life Of Pi - Mychael Danna
Lincoln - John Williams
Skyfall - Thomas Newman

'Before My Time' from Chasing Ice
'Everybody Needs A Best Friend' from Ted
'Pi's Lullaby' from Life Of Pi
'Skyfall' from Skyfall I actually like this song. Very retro-Bond sound.

'Suddenly' from Les Miserables

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life Of Pi

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head Over Heels
Maggie Simpson In "The Longest Daycare" Oh please, please, please...


Buzkashi Boys It sounds pretentious and the Academy likes that.
Death Of A Shadow It sounds cool.

Django Unchained
Life Of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Les Miserables
Life Of Pi

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life Of Pi
Marvel Avengers Assemble The only Comic Book nomination, so come on!
Snow White And The Huntsman

It's late so for the last several entries, I did away with a commentary. Good luck everyone!!


Vital Vittles Via Vittel.

I popped into a local grocers today and lucked out with some goodies. I rarely go there and it rarely has premiums but there's an energy drink called Vittel and it offers 4 different Active Snoopy Magnets. Snoopy quaffing a Vittel, pumping barbells, bouncing on a balancing ball and riding a bicycle.

There's some kind of a contest in which you can  win Snoopy's brother, Olaf. If I can figure out how to do so, I shall attempt to win one for he's a beagle after my own heart.

I also bought a bottle of Rolling Gold which proclaims "The Rolling Stones are the greatest rock 'n roll band in the world." It tastes a bit like ginger ale with a kick. I can get some SATISFACTION!

Tomorrow: my annual Oscar Prediction!


You Blockhead.

If there is ever going to be a Justice League movie, I want it to star the Justice League of Blockheads! One of my roving reporters pointed these capsules out to me and we've only ever seen them in one machine out in Iwanuma. I have one complete set and a few doubles of these put out by Kitan and the lineup includes スーパーマン バットマン フラッシュ グリーン・ランタン and ワンダー・ウーマン. The only disappointment for me is a lack of Aquaman.

I'd expect the movie to look something like this:


Clear a Thrill.

One of the nice things of being a geek in Japan is customer loyalty means something. There's a Lawson's en route to work that I frequent about thrice a week. I pick up a tea or coffee with some omake (premium freebie), purchase one of their 500 yen give-away chances or buy some snacks in order to get the omake clear file. Consequently, this morning (when I was in a tremendous hurry), the saleslady took her sweet time rummaging through a box and handed me a pair of clear files and some mini-tapes*. I have a friend who collects these tapes, so I popped in there after work and she gave me a dozen more and two more clear files! Amazing!

Here are the files, a couple more Doraemon & Rirakuma.

 Here's a smattering of other Clear files I've amassed recently.

Finally a pal of mine in Toronto will enjoy these if I ever get around to sending them to him...

* I will show a picture of the mini-tapes once my friend receives them. I want them to be a surprise.


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