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Thursday, September 15, 2011

TV Topics: Late Night Snacks/Girls

TV work has been good lately.

In America, we have what we call sweeps week: the period of time when the ratings for television shows are measured, and used to make decisions about programming. There are a couple of those periods each year in Japan where they measure the 視聴率 しちょうりつ; shichouritsu)and determine how they're going to proceed with their respective bangumis.

For the people who work on camera, if you think about it, this period can be nerve-wracking, because if the viewers don't think you're entertaining, your show might get cancelled, or you might replaced. But as it actually plays out in real life, the directors and producers are planning a bunch of special segments that are so much fun to film that you don't really think about the consequences.

Last week I spent two days traveling around Kumamoto with this guy, Nakashima Tsugumasa-san, visiting "power spots," beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and rivers. Spent the night drinking and laughing, at a funky little mountain lodge, and woke up the next day to film a segment straight out of Power Rangers. I have footage of myself being jumped and pummeled by men in rubber suits built to look like a mutated boar, fly, and wasp.

Next week we're going to film a segment in Oita in which we go river fishing, barbecue our catch, and then play with dolphins at an aquarium. I would seriously pay money to do this shit, and instead, it's my job. And it's getting busier and busier.

Starting in October, I'll be working with the channel KBC in Fukuoka, and over the last few months I've been making very small appearances on a show called 「イケメン学園」on TNC (also Fukuoka). I discussed that show briefly in my post on rivalry, but I guess they were happy with my level of "talk," because yesterday I got an invitation to appear on another show of theirs, which brings me to the bulk of today's post.

The show is called "Gee Bee," which stands for "グルメ; gourmet" and "ビューティ; beauty." It's a "girl's talk" bangumi and you can check out the link for the TV show here.

What will I be doing on a girl's talk bangumi? I'm assuming they're asking me because of my self-proclaimed 料理人りょうりにん;cook) status, because the themes for the show during my appearances will be food. Here's the information I received:

The subject will be "late night snacks" for women.
"Popular late night snacks in America," or "You can make this late at night, really easily!" or "If you mix this and this together, it's ACTUALLY really good!" are the kind of topics they're imagining.
So I have to be prepared with a number of conversation topics that will fit in along these lines.

If you guys have any suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comments. The more I have on deck, the easier and better the filming will be.

Keep in mind, these have to be not only true (ideally), but also things that will resonate with a Japanese audience. Even though the first thing that pops into my mind is "Taco Bell," there are no Taco Bells in Japan, very little Mexican food, and even less marijuana. So while I could potentially tell them "Actually, Mexican Food is very popular in America, and there's a fast food restaurant that's open 24 hours, so everyone goes there when they're stoned...." it might get like a 「ああ、そうなんだ。」out of them at BEST. Also, it's probably better to avoid the weed talk entirely.

The dog is even harder to access, culturally....

So here are some of the things I'm thinking about so far:

  • Eating Ice Cream Straight Out of the Tub:

    This is something that I've actually had Japanese women ask me about a LOT! They see it on TV and in movies, and wonder "Do American women really do that?" I guess... yes? I mean, I used to do it. But I think in movies, it's most often used as a way to communicate that the female character is stressed out, or depressed, like what you would call やけ食いやけぐい;yakegui) in Japanese. Putting it in a bowl is just too much of a pain in the ass... and you're probably gonna eat more than a bowl anyway.
  • Chocolate Popcorn:
    I knew a girl who used to put chunks of hard chocolate and caramel in with microwave popcorn. Also small marshmallows too. That would all melt and once the popcorn had popped, she'd give it a good stir and it would coat the popcorn. I'm not really sure how she worked out the timing in terms of WHEN do you add the meltables... but in the end it tasted... really strong. Like popcorn covered in melted chocolate and caramel. And it was really gooey and messy to eat. But she seemed to love it.
  • Pizza Toast:

    The key to a good late night snack is being able to work with whatever you have on hand, and in many American kitchens, you're likely to have bread, tomato sauce, and cheese. Even if you don't have sliced bread, maybe you have a bagel, or a hamburger bun, or crackers... you make do. For a Japanese version, people are not so likely to have tomato sauce, but they are likely to have oily canned tuna and mayo. If they're lucky enough to have bread and some kind of processed cheese, maybe tuna melts?
  • Instant Ramen de Pasta!
    Again, this kind of hinges on whether or not you have sauce. When I was little and wanted something fast and simple, but not something really bad for me, I'd throw away the Top Ramen flavoring packet. I'd just cook the noodles in boiling water, and then season with salt, pepper, garlic olive oil, and toss in whatever vegetables I had on hand. It worked just as fine with tomato sauce, any kind of cream sauce. Parmesan cheese is pretty rare here too, but that made a great addition.
  • Salad Dressings as Meat Marinades/Sauces:
    Another quick/healthy fix was to take a piece of fish or white meat chicken and leave it in a bag of Italian (or other oil/vinegar based dressing). Even if you don't have the forethought to do that, you can pan-fry the meat or fish, and pour the dressing directly into the hot pan just a bit before it's about finished. Toss to coat, salt and pepper, and you're good.
  • Poached Eggs in the Microwave:
    I'm not sure why we called these poached eggs... they were more just like, fried eggs, but in the microwave. You would lightly oil a small microwave safe bowl, crack an egg into it, season, cover with wax paper, and microwave at a low heat for like, 45 seconds. We used to eat those over toast maybe 3 times a week. Fried Eggs for people who always break them in the pan... or for people who don't want to wash a pan after? That might work.
If you have any other suggestions or interesting anecdotes (and you don't mind the idea of me talking about them on TV), please let me know!

*I promise, I'm working on setting up a new system where I can post videos of my TV work online, where blog-readers can find them, without drawing major attention to them and violating any copyrights or getting fired. I'll let you know as soon as they're available.

*Would you guys be interested at all in a vocab post about TV production jargon?

1 comment:

giselle said...

I think the ice cream is a good one as well as the pizza, i would suggest to make up some easy and fast recipes, with green tea and cookies. I remember when i used to hang out with my friends late at night, by the way they are japanese, and they would bring some pops and japanese candies like pocky or some chicken popcorn with teryjaki and sesame ... or here in Mexico is more common to have ice cream, juice or some alcohol drink and chips with a hot/spicy sauce or nuts with lemon, maggi seasoning and salsa valentina but i bet there is not such thing in jp!... that is all i can think of, hope it was helpful