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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spending habits of sports celebrities, impulse buying science special and a comic soap opera

Every sports freak knows superstar pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka's strikeout stats and salary details, but do they know the really important things about the Red Sox pitcher, such as what his wife spends their money on? This and other vital information will be revealed on "Sports Legend" (Nihon TV, Monday, 9 p.m.), a quiz-format special program that will look at astonishing and yet unknown anecdotes related to some of Japan's most famous athletes.

For instance, we'll find out about an odd 5 million yen purchase made by veteran soccer player Kazuyoshi Miura and whether or not it's true that the famously natty "King Kazu" actually sleeps in expensive suits. Other objects of scrutiny include boxer Koki Kameda, figure skater Mao Asada and tennis star Maria Sharapova.

Most human behavior can be reduced to psychology, so it isn't surprising that the seemingly mundane matter of impulse-buying has become a subject of academic study. This week, NHK's science-you-can-use variety program "Tameshite Gatten (Trial and Success)" (NHK-G, Wednesday, 8 p.m.) will attempt to explain the mechanism that caused you to buy that purple sweater you've only worn once in two years.

Researchers have found that impulse-buying is basically the result of a malfunction. There is something in the brain known as a "compensation-reward network," and when it is switched off the person cannot make logical judgments.

The entertainment quarters of Tokyo's Asakusa district is the setting for the weird new family soap opera "Suriru-na Yoru: Kosodate no Tensai (Thrill Nights: A Genius for Childrearing)" (Fuji, Friday, 11 p.m.). The series focuses on two families with odd heads-of-household. Taizo Harada plays Tetsuo, a "discount obstetrician" who doesn't think twice about taking a break from helping a woman deliver her baby to gossip with a neighbor. And pompadoured comedian Gori plays Kinta, who is probably the slickest salesman of home Buddhist altars in Japan.

In this week's episode, Tetsuo is worried because his son Keita seems to have an "unhealthy" attraction to other boys and he enlists Kinta's help in "straightening" him out. Kinta decides to reveal to Keita the wonders of the female sex and dispatches his own daughter, dressed in wild and revealing clothing, to Keita's room as a "tutor."

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