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776: Streep talk
775: World of difference
774: Shocks and Bonds
773: Viva La Revolución
772: Jacqui Bayne
768: Beyond the universe
767: Yasuhito Endo
766: Aroon Mahtani
765: Dr. Hidemi Akai
764: Badr Hari
763: Mizuki Kubodera
761: Patrick W. Galbraith
760: Jean-Pierre Felix
759: Philippe Grau
758: Emi Kashiwara & Elekiteru
757: Aura Virginia Chirculescu
756: Aaron Davis
755: Happy days
754: Bryan Au
753: Martin van der Linden
752: Qinggelete
751: Chuck Johnson
750: Mike Applegate (aka Magic Mike)
749: Yukie Kito
748: Steve Kaufmann
746: Samira Zarghami
745: Raising the Bar
744: Pierre-Gilles Delorme
743: David F. Hoenigman
742: Miwa Gardner
741: Kevin Cooney
740: Kyle Cleveland
739: JJ
738: Bruce Stronach
737: Yoichiro Dennis Ide
736: Mike Garrett
735: Hiroki Suehara
734: Rise and Shrine
733: Patrik Washburn
732: Michael Bumgardner
731: Patricia Bader-Johnston
730: Darin Maki
729: Hiroshi Fujimaki
728: Misha Janette
727: Jon Mitchell
725: Hokuto Konishi
724: Rita Lamah Hankach
723: Kisui Nakazawa
722: Angela Jeffs
721: Simon Wood
720: Yasuko Yokoyama
715: Jason Kelly
714: Dominica Serigano
713: Erik Gain
712: Genevieve Maylam
711: Masahiro Gono
710: Eikou Sumura
709: Eikou Sumura
708: Malcolm Thompson
707: Makiko Tsuji
706: Dominic Allen
705: Maria Heitanen
704: Beckie Cassidy
703: Jett Edwards
702: Yoshinobu Furuichi
701: Silvestre Jacobi
700: Jah-Light Sound System
699: Daniel Velazques
698: Lynne Charles
697: Eric Bragg
695: Susan Nichols
694: Anna Kunnecke
693: Kenneth Pechter
692: Kazu Wakui
691: Antonio Inoki
690: Hiroko Noguchi
689: Richard Bysouth
688: Eric Bjorndahl
687: Andrew Shuttleworth
686: Sayuri Suzuki
685: Yurie Hatanaka
684: Miogi Takii
683: Thierry Cohen
682: Ahmed M. Elmardi
681: Aya Kitagawa
680: Suzanne Ng and Yoriko Soma
679: Ricco DeBlank
677: Takenari Shibata
676: Kirk R. Patterson
675: Satoko Yahata
674: Flavia Nishimura
673: Ryo Shoji
672: Chip Eckton
671: Yuko Ito
670: Marja Kullberg
669: Laur Meyrieux
668: Slavomir Stanislaw Kowalewski
667: Ryan McGuire
664: Life force
663: Steve Marshall
662: Jeff Klein
661: Ahn Soon Han
660: Straight shooter
659: Marcello Pietrantonio
658: Glitterball 2006
657: Alison Roberts-Brown
656: Girl on the go
655: Rob Hoey
654: Kahori Ochi
653: Ed Wells
652: Haruka Orth
651: Laura Cook
650: Uleshka Asher
649: Full speed ahead
648: Katsumi Namekata
647: Top talent
646: No heels, no life
645: Joanna Roper
644: Lu Nagata
643: Kirill Konin
642: Gabriele Roberto
641: Carlos Gibbs
640: Blair Falahey
639: The Three Waiters
638: Simon Woodroffe
637: Tony Virili
636: Paul W. Creager
635: Randy Channell
634: Mari Takeuchi
633: Stephanie Schueller
632: Tara Tan Kitaoka
631: Katherine Mok
630: Bob Tobin and Hitoshi Ohashi
629: Tommy Kullberg
628: Toshio Nagashima
627: Eiko Kondo
626: Embrey Ramon Williams
625: Neil Day
624: Mong-Lan
623: Tor Hideki Kashio
622: Elizabeth Heilman Brooke
621: Louis Carlet
620: Theo Panagiotoulias
619: Lionel Gougne
618: Sarajean Rossitto
617: Christian Hassing
616: Kiho Takashima
614-615: David Wagner
613: Heather Stuart
612: Erica Angyal
611: Jack McLean
610: Fumine Yakumo
609: Yasutoshi Hirabayashi
608: Yoko Hijikata
607: Jim Frederick
605: Yuka Murakami
604: Chayne Ellis
603: Marco Antonio Nakata
602: Kicking Back
601: Stand by your man
600: Hero worship
599: The Candy man
598: Heart strings
597: Sweet and sour
596: Subtitle subtleties
595: The right moves
594: Mother’s day
593: The clone ranger
592: A career kicks off
591: Woman of substance
590: Final conflict
589: World Ready for ‘War’
588: Fun in the sun
587: New life for an old hero
586: Fun and games
585: Knockout punch
584: Patrick’s day
583: Marcia marches on
582: Brunch break
581: Kingdom come
580: Gentle as a beast
579: Prime time
578: Devil of a time
577: In first Gere
576: Bright spark
575: Rei of sunshine
574: A star is reborn
573: In search of geisha
572: Marshall law
571: In the Nic of time
570: Holding a grudge
569: Bourne again
568: Soap opera
567: Alexander and friends
566: Oceans apart
565: A night at the opera
564: Just joshing
563: McPain in the neck
561-562: Hanks for everything
560: Reading between the Klines
559: Risqué business
558: Sky highs
557: Korean boom
556: Queen Victoria
555: Glitter Ball
554: Peter Miller
553: Ralph Frehner
552: Dimension K
551: Tokyo Game Show
550: US Embassy
549: I, Robot Premiere
548: Mauve
547: Xterra Japan
546: Earth Celebration
545: Idée R-bar
544: Laforet Museum
543: Hara Museum
542: Fuji Rock Festival’04
541: Bunkamura Museum of Art

star struck

Knockout punch
Oscar winners Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman make all the right moves in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby
Text and Photo by Chris Betros

Hilary Swank doesn’t mind taking a few punches if it’s all for a good cause—especially if it wins her an Oscar. The 30-year-old star is still on cloud nine more than three months after winning her second best actress Academy Award for her portrayal as the gutsy waitress-turned-boxer in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby.

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” said Swank, making her first visit to Japan along with co-star and fellow Oscar winner Morgan Freeman. “I’m pinching myself all the time. People have connected with this movie everywhere, probably because it’s not a boxing movie, but a real story about real people.” Freeman, 67, said he was happy just to be part of a team that won the Oscars. “There is an ongoing belief in America about who wins Academy Awards. The conventional wisdom has it that if your character is maimed, hurt or in a wheelchair, and you are up for an award, you’ll get it.”

Million Dollar Baby sure did get it, picking up the best director and best picture awards as well. It tells the story of Maggie Fitzgerald, a woman who is determined to break free of her Ozarks trailer park background. She works as a waitress by day, but dreams of making it as a professional boxer. Maggie turns up at an LA boxing gym and pesters owner Frankie (Eastwood) to train her, refusing to take no for an answer. Frankie’s friend Scrap (Freeman) sees her potential, but Frankie balks at the idea (“I don’t train girls”). Before long, he relents and a father-daughter bond emerges between the two. “I think Maggie is the closest to me of any character I have played,” said Swank who was born in Lincoln, Neb., and grew up in Bellingham, Wash. “We both had a dream that we pursued.”

A former competitive swimmer and gymnast, Swank moved to LA with her mother when she was 16, and the two lived out of their car for a while, according to her bio. Swank landed her first acting job in 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before landing her breakout role two years later in The Next Karate Kid. Her first best actress Oscar came in 1999 with a wrenching performance in Boys Don’t Cry. She followed that up with such movies as The Core and Insomnia. “Having someone like Clint at the helm doesn’t hurt your career,” she said of her mentor. “His gift is that he hires the right people for the job and then lets them do it. Yet, you can feel yourself being led gently under his keen eye. It was the best experience of my career so far.” Freeman also had nothing but praise for his old friend with whom he last worked on Unforgiven in 1992. “Clint is respectful of actors, being one himself. He doesn’t have the traditional trappings of a director. He never says ‘Cut!’ or ‘Action!’ Instead, he eases into a scene with that distinctive voice of his: ‘Anytime you’re ready.’”

Eastwood hired professional boxers in support roles, among them Lucia Rijker, who plays the ferocious Billie “The Blue Bear.” That’s when things got a bit rough. “We had five moves rehearsed and in one of them, I was supposed to go under her right hook, but I missed,” said Swank. “I ended up getting hit many times. It sounds weird to say it, but it was good for me. It made me feel like a boxer.”

Next up for Swank is the 1940s LA murder mystery The Black Dahlia, while Freeman has two movies coming out in this month, Danny the Dog (Unleashed in the US) and Batman Begins.



Leigh Norrie
Welshman with a bicycle and a mission

After eight years of living in Saitama, Leigh Norrie became restless. So last month, the 32-year-old former English teacher from northern Wales jumped on his bicycle to see Japan—all of it.

What brought you here?
I was fascinated by Japanese culture, flora and fauna. Actually that’s rubbish. I just wanted to get as far away from the UK as possible and find a handsomely paid job.

What keeps you here?
The safety of the place; the characters I come across—both foreign and Japanese; anonymity.

So what’s this bike ride about?
It started out about a year ago as a plan to walk from Japan’s most northerly point, Soya Misaki in Hokkaido, to Naha in Okinawa. It’s morphed into a bicycle ride through each of Japan’s 47 prefectures to raise money for the Chi-ki Foundation (www.chiki.ca) that helps desperately poor areas of Laos. My friend Sylvia Charczuk set up the charity two years ago and has basically funded it herself.

What route will you take?
It’s every prefecture so there will be a few zigzags. From Saitama, north along the east coast to Hokkaido, south down the west coast to Kanagawa, and then Nagano, Kyoto, Shikoku, Kyushu, Okinawa and finally Yonaguni (the westernmost point). Roughly.

How long will it take?
Anywhere from five to ten months. If I’m still doing it when I can see cherry blossoms something will have gone wrong.

Where will you stay?
Camping mostly.

What will you do first when it’s all over?
Cry and get drunk.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever seen in Japan?
Winter crab pizza and women playing Frisbee in the park wearing heels.

What’s your pet peeve?
Two people chatting side by side on an escalator; people who don’t acknowledge you when you’ve been courteous; hearing that spectacular sound of astonishment from female Japanese thirty-somethings when something unastonishing happens—yeah, that’s got to be my top pet hate. Oh, and queue jumpers. AV www.leighnorrie.blogspot.com

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