TV Time!!

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

A few weeks ago, my manager from my talent agency called me and asked if I wanted to be an extra in an ANA commercial.  Of course, I accepted because I would never turn down a chance to be on TV. Originally the shooting was suppose to last only a day, but my agency asked if I also wanted to be in the second shoot as well.  Although it meant I would have to take a day off from work to do it, I happily accepted. 
Its been a year and half since my last appearance on TV, so I was pretty happy to have been called again, as it is a rare occurance for me. And unlike being on a 60 minute TV show that only airs once, a commercial is usually played several times, which gives me ample opportunity to let my friends know to watch it.  And, although I am only an extra, I did get some air time, so it will be interesting to watch.
The shooting took place last Monday.  It started at 8AM, so I had to get up at 5:30AM to get out to Tokyo to be there on time.  The shooting was suppose to last until 5PM, but my agent warned me ahead of time that these things don’t usually end on time and often goes over.  So I was anticipating on being there until about 8PM.
The shooting was a lot of fun.  I cannot really reveal the contents of the commercial until it begins airing probably next month or so, but I can say that the first part took place in a basketball arena and there was a lot of people there.
When 5PM came around, the director told us that it would be going longer (as my manager warned), but it wound up lasting a lot longer than anyone expected.  At around 10PM, people started getting restless and we all thought that we were about done, but then the director announced that we had alot more shooting to do and that they are aiming to finish at around 12AM.  Some people groaned, and others were very vocal about the long hours.  I was having too much fun to complain.  I was VERY tired, but I could have gone all night.
12AM came and went, and people were getting angry and started walking out.  The director then said, Please! we’re almost done!  Just one more hour please!! Most agreed to the hour extention but others walked out. I couldn’t believe how unprofessional they were.  Afterall, we are getting paid for this.
When 1AM came, it seemed that we still weren’t wrapping up.  Many more people started getting vocal and started complaining.  Although the scene was a bit incomplete, the director called it a wrap.  I eventually got home at 2:30AM that night, extremely exhausted.
I still had another scene to do the next morning, which meant waking up at 5:30AM again. So I slept only an hour and half, and ate very little.  But surprisingly, I was pretty energetic the next morning. Admittedly I was a bit cranky from the lack of sleep, but once I was on the train heading out to the studio, I was able to wake up.
On the second day of shooting, I got more exposure on film.  Its only a few seconds, but it was more than the previous day.  I’m not sure what the commercial is going to look like after the cuts and edits, but I sure hope that I make the cut.  But if I don’t, it was still a lot of fun.
My agent called me yesterday to thank me for being understanding about the overtime and being high spirited.  He promised to try to get me more TV work in the future which was a very exciting thing to hear.
Here are some shots from the shoot:

My manager meeting us at the station

A bit blury, but a picture of me and a pretty well know foriegn talent in Japan.

My hair is a bit funky from the humidity and heat from the lights

We even had cheerleaders

And hung out at an American airport

When the commerical eventually airs I will post the video here.

Bad experience: A trip to the country house

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Family and Friends, Rants and Raves

Last Friday, I took a drive out to the Chiba penninsula to stay at our country house for a couple of days.  I hadn’t been out there in over a year so it was about time to take a trip there.
When we arrived, I noticed that the motion sensored porch light didn’t come on when I pulled up to the driveway, but I figure that maybe one of my cousins must have just turned it off by accident when they used it last.  The area has no street lamps and the nearby houses are pretty dimly lit so the inside of the house was pitch black.  I tried to turn on the light, but none of them worked. The circuit breaker must of been shut off, which is something that shouldn’t be shut off. I managed to find a lighter on the counter near the front entrance inside the house so I used it as a torch and seached for the circuit breaker.
After about 15 minutes of fumbling around the dark house, I managed to locate it in the bathroom.  I noticed that the main switch was on but the secondary switch was off, which meant that someone must have shut it off (even they weren’t suppose to).  I turned the switch on and all of the light came on.  I then remembered something I wished I hadn’t thought of.  Oh my god! The refrigerator!!
I ran to the refrigerator hoping that whoever was stupid enough to shut off all of the power in the house, had an ounce of sense to have remove everything from the refrigerator before doing so.  But, no such luck
When I open the refrigerator door, I felt I had just open a lid on a science experiment gone horribly wrong.  The smell of rotting food pierced my eyes, nose, and brain.  There were living organisms thriving on the bits of food that had been neglected for several months through the hot summer heat and humidity.  I thought about just pretending like I had not seen anything, and just head back home.  But then I thought about my poor grandmother having to have to deal with the cleaning.  I was also tired from the long drive, and I had my own food that I had bought that was going to need refrigeration soon. *Sigh*  time to get to work.
Needless to say, it was a complete nightmare.  Mold and mildew everywhere, even in the tiniest spaces and cracks needed to be removed or it could cause a health problems.  Some of the items I found was appaling!  Any person with even the smallest grain of common sense would have thrown some of the stuff I found away before leaving. Even with the refrigerator running, they should have never been left there.
Some of the item I found were:

  • 2 cartons of milk (both dated April; one opened, the other unopened)
  • Some kind of fruit (thoroughly covered in mold)
  • Some kind of vegetable (that had partially disintegrated into a foul smelling brown liquid)
  • A bag of mochi (soaking in the brown liquid)
  • Sauces and seasonings (in various stages of fermentation)
  • Open cans of sodas and other drinks
  • Something in a plastic container (no longer identifiable because it was covered in mold)
  • a bar of butter ( in surprisingly good shape)
  • And other things that had disintergated into a pool of moldy liquid on the shelves of the refrigerater

I threw everyhing away (obviously) whether they were opened or not. It took two and half hours to thoroughly clean and disinfect the refrigerator to a satifisfactory level.  Not very cool considering the fact that I was already very tired from work and the long drive, and just wanted to relax when I got there.
Over the next day, I found a few other aggrevating things that the inconsiderate slob, who used the house last failed to take care of before he left.

  • Almost every single trash can in the house was full of tissue paper.
  • The bath area had dead insects everywhere and the drains were clogged with long black hair (possibly female)
  • The bedroom I slept in (which was the cleanest bedroom) had the same long black hair on the pillows and sheets.
  • The other bedrooms were pretty messy but I didn’t even bother with them.
  • The outside patio had residue from used firecrackers all over it, and some in a plastic bag that was tossed on the lawn.
  • The remote control for the living room TV was found underneath the sofa.
  • I had to rewash all of the dishes and utensils because they looked suspiciously unwashed. 
  • Someone installed a cable TV receiver that didn’t work (which pissed me off because I thought I’d be able to watch cable!)

On top of all that, I had a pretty severe allergy attack while I was there.  I though it was just my overactive immune system not agreeing with the overgrown and neglected plants and grass in the backyard, but the odd thing is that I felt better when I was outside.  It took me a while to figure it out , but I was reacting to something on the living room sofa.
And to add insult to injury, when I got back to Yokohama, I noticed that I had a lot of insect bite marks on my arms and all down my back. Aside from being in the shower, I always had a shirt on, so I didn’t know what could have possibly bit me.  This morning I noticed that both dogs where scratching uncontrollably.  When I checked them, they were infested with tons of ticks!  I was so mad!!  The poor dogs must have been miserable.  I am positive that they got it from that house, because they have never gotten that many ticks or flees while they’re in Yokohama.
Although I desperately wanted to blame this on my cousin Tsugu (one of the two other people who have keys to that house aside from my grandmother), having lived with Tsugu in the past, I know he wouldn’t have tolerated that kind of mess.  Also, all of the circumstancial evidence ( the cartons of milks, the used fireworks, the tons of tissue paper in trash cans -both my cousin and his son have constant nasel problems, and the long black hair in the drains and beds) strongly indicated it was probably more than likely to be my cousin Ryo, his wife, and kid. He has the other key to house and visits the house more often than anyone else.  Ryo has this “I don’t care about anything” kind of attitude which has slowly rubbed off on his wife over the years, and its really showing through the way they raise their son.  Its pretty sad considering that they just had another kid last month.  But that’s none of my business.  All I care about is that house, because its a really nice house and I don’t want to see it torn apart and neglected by a bunch of careless people who want to use it like a toilet.  I was planning on spending more time out there, but I’m not too sure now.
Anyways, the next time I see everyone they are ALL going to hear it from me.

Boycott Japan Airlines!!!

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Rants and Raves, Travel Blog

As much as I can, I like to take my dogs, Princess and Jenna with me when I travel.  And in order to take the load off of them and the stress off of me, I try to travel by car.  But sometimes when its a long distance trip (a trip that would take more than a day by car) I would then fly by plane.
Before I started taking the dogs on trips with me by plane, I looked for an airline company in Japan that would allow me to carry the dogs into the cabin with me.  Unfortunately, there are none in Japan, and they are also becoming rare, if not already extinct in the States as well.  But upon research, I found that All Nippon Airways (ANA) has the best pet handling and care system of all of the domestic airlines in Japan.  Since, I have been using ANA whenever I can, especially when I need to take the dogs along with me. I really didn’t think too much about it at the time, but I am glad I did the research especially after recent events with Japan Airlines and their pet handling system.
Usually, when I take my dogs with me on the plane, they make me sign a waiver stating that my dogs are in good health and that they will not be held responsible for sickness or death while in their care.  Every time I see that form, I really hesitate to sign it, because it makes me feel as if I might be giving them permission to mistreat or mis-handle my dogs.  However, I did learn that signing this waiver is just a way that the airline companies protect themselves from false claims.  In fact, if something does happen that causes sickness or death to a pet while in their care, and they are found at fault, they will need to compensate despite the signed waiver. But after using ANA a few times, I feel confident now that they are in fairly good care.
Japan Airlines has been the national carrier for Japan for the last 50 years. Its Japan’s flagship airline company and have always had a reputation for impeccable service for several years.  As a matter of fact, to become a Japan Airlines employee is as almost as difficult and rigorous as applying for Harvard or Yale.  This reputation spawned many TV drama and movies during the 80’s and 90’s and as recently as last March about Japan Airlines and their boot camp like cabin crew training.
But in recent years, Japan Airlines reputation seemed to have slipped through the cracks as their safety standards have been quiet poor.  Just last year alone, there were at least two near disastrous incidents (quoted form wikipedia site):

  • On 22 January 2005 a Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft (with 211 people on board) at Sapporo airport, Japan, began its take-off run without being cleared to do so and was told by air traffic control to abort, which it did. The fault was compounded by the failure of the captain to report the event, for which the airline was reprimanded by the ministry of land, infrastructure and transport (ref: Flight International, July 2005).
  • On August 12, 2005 metal fragments fell in a Fukuoka residential area from a JALways’ DC-10 bound for Honolulu after an engine briefly caught fire, underlining JAL’s recent poor safety record. A boy and a man were injured by fragments. The incident also happened exactly 20 years after Japan Airlines Flight 123. The plane was forced to return to Fukuoka Airport and land there. The sight of flames coming from the engine was captured by a NHK film crew which happened to be recording because the service to Hawaii is soon to be withdrawn as it is unprofitable.

To add insult to injury, I have recently found out that not even pets are safe on JAL anymore. In just the last two months alone, there were two reported incidents of accidental pet deaths on board JAL.  JAL claimed no responsibility for the deaths and claimed that their pet care has and always will be the best.  However the pet autopsy revealed that the deaths were caused by dehydration and overheating of the body core temperature.  JAL still contended that their pet care facilities on board and in the waiting areas are air conditoned to an optimal temperature at all times. 
We sent email to JAL asking for detail explanation on what they do to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the pets while in their care.  They were nice enough to send us a very detailed explanation. And at a glance, it seemed that their pet care procedure was not too different from ANA’s, and yet ANA has yet to have an accidental pet death in recent years.
I was just to about to dismiss these two incidents as being just unfortunate accidents.  Perhaps the weather was just too hot for traveling, or maybe the dogs were not properly prepared by the owner before the flight was taken.  But then a third incident happened where a 2 year old champion German Shepard show dog in excellent health, died while in JAL’s care.  The dog was dead on arrival at the destination’s airport. When questioned, JAL denied any mishandling, and even stated that “there had never been a reported death of a pet while in their care”.  After that statement, many complaints went to JAL asking about the last two incidents that had happened just recently. JAL later apologized and retracted their comments.
This really angered me as a pet owner, in that a company like JAL with such an allegedly high standard of service and commitment to its customers would do nothing to improve their onboard pet care program after the accidents, and also blatenly lied and denied incidents that have happended just recently.  In additon, we found a comment from a current JAL employee, who stated that they way the pets are handled during peak travel seasons are sometimes appalling, in that the pets would be place in a very hot and crownded waiting room with other pets for as much as several hours before even boarding a plane. There are independant groups now forming to do independant investigations on how pets are treated while in the care of airlines.  These groups comprised of vetranarians and animal rights activists are willing to equip pets with sensors that monitor the pets vital signs while flying aboard these plans to assess if they are indeed being handled properly.
Howerver,  I am personally protesting JAL for not admitting to their faults and also initially denying any past pet death incidents.  I think that is a very poor attitude for any company of this magnitude to have toward any life, big or small.  So for these reasons, I am going to formally boycott JAL until they can get their act straight all across the board and not only take human lives seriously, but animal lives as well.