Friday, November 18, 2005


Today was a relatively easy day at work.

First period was my only class of the day. My 3rd year Beta students are going to do presentations on their favorite movies, so I had them do some research on the Internet. I corrected some quizzes and helped them with any English questions, but it was nothing very taxing. Second period, I covered a class for a teacher who took the day off today. Third period, I watched part of "Dawn of the Dead" with Jack, because neither of us had a class. Fourth period, I covered another class for a different teacher. Lunch was provided by the lovely third year ladies, who were cooking for their Home Ec class. I got some sushi and some pork soup out of the deal. Free lunch is always a good thing, even if it is your students who are making it. Fifth and sixth periods, I helped coach a couple of students on their interview tests for their college entrance exams. After school, I took the Japanese archery club members over to the practice range, and then cruised back to help Eisaku with a high school recruitment meeting he had that evening. This time, the meeting was for the parents, not the students, so the pressure was on big time. I talked about the English program at Kaisei. My hands shook the whole time, and when I was finished, Eisaku had to fill in a bunch of information that I forgot to share. I got the important stuff out, but I felt like I kinda screwed up. At the end of the presentation, I got a good laugh from the crowd, because I had been sitting in the formal Japanese sitting style (see also: kneeling) for about twenty minutes and my legs had gone numb. SOOOO, when I tried to stand up, my legs gave me the leg equivalent of the middle finger and would not work right at all. Plus there was that uncomfortable numb prickling tickling in my feet and lower legs. I managed to stumble out of the room, making enough of an ass out of myself that Eisaku was able to cover up the fact that his legs had gone numb too. I think, overall, that helped, though. It was a genuinely funny moment. We finished and were out of the school at 7:40 P.M.

Geez. Now that I look back on it, today was kinda hectic.

After we left the junior high school, we drove out to Tomakomai. The original plan was to try and catch "The Brothers Grimm", but the timing didn't work out. So we went out and did some shopping at Tower Records. I picked up Batman Begins...and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.

It was only 980 yen.

Besides, I love Scooby Doo.

When I was little and living in Pocatello, Idaho, I was addicted to cartoons. (I can hear the peanut gallery now..."You still are!") The Smurfs, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Looney Tunes...and Scooby Doo.

Every day after school, I would come home and watch Scooby Doo. It was a daily ritual. I remember one time I read the clock at home wrong and was all upset that I'd missed Scooby Doo. Let me watch my cartoons, and all is well, but if I miss them...look out. I always enjoyed the episodes with Don Knotts or The Harlem Globetrotters. Classic stuff.

Then the networks stopped showing Scooby and the gang, and I moved on to Star Trek. But I've always held a special place in my heart for Scooby Doo.

Back in 2002, when I was still living in Hakuta, I took some time off during the summer and went on a two-and-a-half weeklong trip around northern Japan. I loaded Wasabi-kun on a ferry at Maizuru, in northern Kyoto, and headed north to Hokkaido. I visited shrines and temples all across northern Japan. 2600 miles later, I came back to Hakuta. I was exhausted. I'd been mainly living out of my car, stopping at hot springs to clean up and finding rest areas to park my car in so I could get some sleep. The shrines and temples were all amazing, and I learned a lot about Japanese culture, but I think I burned myself out a bit. So after I got back, I cruised over to the local theater (MOVIX Hiezu) to catch a movie.

Let's see...random Japanese period piece...Korean action pic featuring the muscle head of the month...huh? What's this?

Scooby Doo?

You know, that sounds like just the thing...

So I went in, bought a ticket, bought some popcorn and a drink, and went in to the theater to watch my childhood heroes on the big screen.

Matthew Lillard absolutely OWNED Shaggy. The voice, the movements, the overall goofiness...he had it down PAT! Scooby was great, too. The movie played around with the general Scooby Doo patterns, twisted them around, tweaked them a bit, and came up with a generally entertaining story. The fact that the villain was none other that Scrappy Doo made the experience that much better.

When the lights came up, and people started filing out of the theater, I realized that I was in Japan. The entire time I had been watching the movie, I felt like I was back in the States. The more I thought about it, I realized that not only had I felt like I was back in the States, I felt like I was eight years old and watching Scooby Doo downstairs in the old house in Pocatello.

It's a rare experience for me to get that sucked in to a movie. The Japanese subtitles usually get in the way. But this time, I didn't notice...I didn't care. It was Scooby Doo.

I enjoyed the first one so much that I picked it up on DVD. When I heard they were making a sequel, I wanted to go see it, even after I started reading bad reviews of it on the Web. When it finally came out where I was, they were only showing the dubbed version.

No way.
No chance.
No how.

I'll just wait for the DVD.

But when the DVD came out, I always hesitated. One reason was because I'd read so many bad reviews. Another reason was because DVDs are expensive over here. Which doesn't stop me from buying them, much to my father's chagrin. But I always held back from buying Scooby Doo 2.

Until today. Hey, 980 yen for a DVD is a good deal!

So I came home and watched it. I didn't get the same "time machine" effect that I got from the first one, but I was smiling the entire time I watched it. A bunch of the old "ghosts" from the TV show were featured, and I waxed nostalgic.

Shaggy's line of "Well, I'd love to do this all night, and something tells me we could, but it's time we make like your personality, and split." was genius.

Now, I'm not trying to claim that the Scooby Doo movies are the pinnacle of American cinema. I won't even try to defend them as particularly good movies. But I had fun watching them, and when you get down to it, isn't that what's important?


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