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Sunday, April 27, 2003

CHANNEL SURF

Time after time, show after show

Though Cyndi Lauper is much more than a one-hit wonder, her sudden stardom in 1984 made the subsequent lack of fireworks in her career seem as if she'd put everything she had into her debut album, "She's so Unusual." It's not entirely true, but in any case that LP went platinum five times in the United States. alone and spawned four Top 5 singles, which was a record at the time for an album by a female singer.

"Time After Time" was the only one of those singles to hit No. 1 in the U.S. and the only ballad on the album. On April 27, the music-documentary show "Soshite Ongaku ga Hajimaru (And The Music Begins)" (TV Tokyo, 10:54 p.m.) will focus on that one song: how it was written; how it was recorded; and the cultural context that made it a lasting hit.

Lauper has said that "Time After Time" is the most personal song on the album, most of which was written by other people. The song is autobiographical in a metaphorical way. Lauper, who was 31 when she made "She's so Unusual," had been a bar singer since she'd dropped out of high school and had already declared bankruptcy when her band Blue Angel fell apart in the early '80s. Raised in Queens and Brooklyn by a single mother, she was always an awkward girl, picked on by her peers. Only her mother understood her, and she pays tribute to her in the video of the song, in which a girl leaves a small town to pursue her dreams.

Lauper, who remains popular in Japan, is interviewed on the program and talks about the song and her career.


Speaking of leaving home, this week's edition of NHK's weekly nature series, "Fushigi Daishizen (Wonders of Nature)" (NHK-G, Monday, 7:30 p.m.), is an extended 75-minute special about the natural process of "leaving the nest."

The animals profiled are mammals. Generally speaking, humans are exceptions to the rule when it comes to nurturing offspring. Though there are many theories, nobody has explained satisfactorily why Homo sapiens' babies are born so helpless. Most other mammalian species become self-sufficient much more quickly, even when life-spans are taken into consideration. Nevertheless, the timing of an animal's "independence" from its parents is extremely important, and changes widely from one species to another depending on environment and other factors.

The special looks at a number of cases and compares them to human nurturing in terms of affection, "wisdom," and knowing when it's time to leave (something many children, especially in Japan, can't even conceive of). Among the species investigated are harp seals, which seem particularly harsh in preparing their offspring for life on their own: Two weeks after they're born, they are abandoned by their parents. And in the case of lions, only the males eventually leave the pride, while jackals have developed a kind of methodology for dealing with youngsters who don't want to leave. Orca pups, however, stay with their parents as long as 14 years.


The Roppongi Hills housing-office-entertainment complex is receiving most of the PR attention in Tokyo this Golden Week, but on May 1 another complex opens that actually offers more in the way of excitement: the newly renovated Korakuen amusement park area. Korakuen -- the home of the Yomiuri Giants, the birthplace of Japanese boxing and pro wrestling, and for years the biggest amusement park in Japan -- has a special place in Tokyo's cultural history.

On May 3, TV Tokyo's neighborhood exploration show, "Admatic" (9 p.m.), will look at the new Korakuen, which has been renamed LaQua, a take-off on the word "aqua," which sums up the main attraction of the new complex: seven hot spring baths, including a rotenburo (open-air bath) located on the ninth floor of one of the complex's new buildings. Korakuen's operators had to bore 1,700 meters into the ground to hit water for the baths.

The improved amusement-park facilities include the Big O, which is said to be the world's largest "centerless" Ferris wheel, the Thunder Dolphin roller coaster and four Korean-style saunas. The program will also explore the park's seven shopping malls and wide variety of eateries, many of which are already famous for being patronized by Giants' players. There is also a baseball museum and one of the world's biggest stores dedicated exclusively to professional wrestling. They stock 300 different types of pro wrestling masks, which should come in handy for anyone planning a political campaign.



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