Friday, August 15, 2003

August 15, 10:30 p.m.

Well, shortly after my last entry, I find out that nearly a fifth of North America got blacked out. Toronto just can't buy itself a break. I'm hoping that I can get in contact with someone back home. I am happy though it wasn't a terrorist attack.

I can actually say this: I wore a black Tokyo. I am very confident that this is the first time and probably the last time that I will ever pull this off. It was just so cool today as well as rainy. Some deity is playing the shell game with our weather.

It was full-time with my part-time status as I taught the oil guys. Then I met up with a motley crew of a couple of teachers, and three current students for an impromptu lunch at the izakaya right beside the school. I never knew that I could get a pretty decent lunch there. We may have dodged a bullet (or not) during lunch though as we made mention of a recent grad who really didn't deserve her diploma; I think some of us forgot that she was a friend of some of the students there.

Afterward, we hit a cafe for some coffee. Ostensibly, one of the teachers was supposed to have come with me to meet up with a couple of recent grads (deserving ones), but she decided that she would stay with the lunch group. I didn't force the issue, but I thought it was pretty poor of her to make that quick switch like that.

Anyways, I met up with the two grads across the street at a Starbucks, and for th e next four hours we gabbed on just about anything and anyone in our sphere of influence. By around 5, I was getting mighty exhausted, so I was happy when we did break up, although I was happy to have seen them and to continue to see them.

Well, after that I went down to Yurakucho for a bit of CD shopping before meeting up with my Friday night circle for Chinese food, since our regular venue closed up early due to the O-Bon holiday. Very pleasant food and talk.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

August 15

I wake up at 4 am to a very cool August morning. There is definitely some wackiness to this summer worldwide: people dying of heatstroke in Europe; we're shivering here in Japan. Toronto has our temps.

I checked over my finances last night before payday; surprisingly, even with this sparse working month, I was still able to save a bit of money. For me to actually stay above the red line is a miracle.

I've been kinda thinking about this possible thing between me and the former top student. I had asked her via e-mail subtly about going out for brunch on the coming Sunday. Unfortunately, she already has plans but I also noticed a certain brevity and coolness in her last dispatch. Perhaps she's giving me the signal, NO. I must admit that I'm starting to think that this was a flight of fantasy after all. We both may like jazz, speaking French and movies, but this is a woman who has professed her love for Ben Affleck and muscular fellows, and she has been going through the OMIAI route of matchmaking, so she's definitely interested in someone with a more lucrative career than an English teacher. Eck!

Well, after my lone class today with the oil guys, another teacher and I will be meeting up with two just-grads for coffee or lunch. Hmmm...if they decide to hang around long enough, I may just invite them to dinner with my Friday night circle. Our regular cafe is closing early tonight because of the current O-Bon holiday, so we've decided to head out for Chinese in Yurakucho. It could be a very nice meeting.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

August 13

A relatively cool day, this has been an unusual summer. It was a pretty normal day. Just had three hours worth of classes...all of which went fairly well

Looks like The Hulk got majorly pulped in the Japan Times today. The impression I got from the critic is that he must think comics are probably the lowest form of literature and that Stan Lee is the Antichrist. Well, Mr. Fazio, I respect your opinion about the was certainly no great shakes; on your other stuff, though, I heartily give you an extended finger in response.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

August 12, 11:30 p.m.

I had a nice day today. It reminded me of the fact that I do have a very unusual, and perhaps even enviable, life now. I went back down to Roppongi to see Chip Guy for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, complete with very American sullen service. Then we caught The Hulk.

Once again this year, a superhero movie managed to do better than expected in my eyes, despite mixed reviews Stateside. Like its title character, The Hulk is well-meaning but flawed. On the up side, the story was fairly good, the CG was handled well, and the subtext between the two fathers of the piece was interesting. On the down side: a slow beginning, flat performances by Eric Bana (who must have assumed that repressed meant emotionless) and Jennifer Connelly (who needs to get advice from the Star Wars actors on how to react to CG), and a bit of a tacked-on battle sequence at the end which could've been much better developed in a sequel. I guess the producers wanted to take no chances. On the Marvel movie rankings, The Hulk rates somewhere between the inferior Daredevil and the far superior Spiderman.

Afterwards, I had my lone class at the Tuesday juku. My new boss is certainly a talkative one; I didn't have any time to prepare at the school itself, although I had things pretty much laid out this morning at home. She again brought up the issue of a new second base of operations with me as the new resident. I said that I would think about it, provided that certain conditions are met.

Monday, August 11, 2003

August 12

A very exhausting trip home from Yokohama, Tokyo's younger and hipper sister. I went over this afternoon to meet my usual Monday night students for a special afternoon "lesson" at the female student's swanky apartment overlooking the bay. They were quite up for this cocktail production; they bought up all the fixins for a B-52 and a martini...not too cheap. I offered to pay for some of the stuff but they refused.

Then it was off to the apartment where we spent several hours just mixing, eating and drinking. We ended up making that dry martini and the B-52 along with a few other drinks from my mixology guide. The B-52 was delicious but potent; instead of Kahlua, though, we used Godiva chocolate liqueur...very decadent.
Two more guests came by. Both were former co-workers of my female student. At one point, one of them went into a major harangue about her boyfriend; I just listened very patiently and answered where necessary.

What made this feel even more like a weekend was that we decided to do some karaoke in downtown Yokohama. The kicker for the entire night was that I was still paid my full fee despite the fact that I hadn't taught a thing and the fact that the two had also paid my way at the karaoke box. I don't feel particularly good about accepting the cash but since they insisted, there wasn't much I could do, and once again, I'm not going to look a gift uma in the mouth.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

August 10, 11:03 p.m.

Ugh! It felt like the hottest day of the year so far this year. And yet, I decided to abandon the comfort (and high bill) of my air conditioner, and go down to Roppongi to try that breakfast at Roti's. According to the ad, it boasted the best breakfast in town.

I was surprised when I got there at about 11:30 a.m. that there weren't all that many people there, but the cashier told me that things usually got hairy past noon with the tourist crowd. The place had friendly service and I was surprised that I was spoken to in English right off the bat despite my stealth gaijin status. It took me a tenth of a second to hook up to native Canadian mode.

As for the food, it was good enough but I just didn't think it earned that best breakfast bit with me today. The pancakes were very good: two large and fluffy flapjacks with whipped butter on the side and real Canadian syrup. The side dish of hash browns was nice but the sausages came a bit mis-seasoned; not underseasoned nor overseasoned. They just tasted a bit off. The buffet table with fresh fruits, breads and cereal seemed a bit skimpy considering that the restaurant expected a lot of folks for an all-day breakfast. However, it was nice to get bottomless coffee.
I wasn't too happy with the surcharge they threw at me, though. Overall, it was good enough and I would bring someone there if they weren't too picky on the money per value aspect of it.

After breakie, I took a quick look through Roppongi Hills for no other reason except to just be part of the crowd. I did take another look at Wolfgang Puck's bistro. The menu did have a reasonably priced lunch at 3000 yen.

Then it was back up to Nihombashi to the Maruzen bookstore to do some prospective shopping for my newest student for a new TOEIC study manual. There was a pretty good practical one issued by Oxford Publishers at a reasonable price, but the CDs and tapes were another matter. I will have to check with her to get her OK.

Next, it was down to Shibuya to Tower Records. I found a good mixology book by Mr. Boston, the bastion of bartending. It ought to be quite good for tomorrow's "lesson" on martinis. I managed to get a juice break in the steam heat before making one last stop at Tokyu Hands to get a teddy bear for Chip Man's baby daughter.

Finally, I swam through the humidity to neighbouring Daikanyama where Chip Man lived. The heat just seemed to get worse, probably because of the reflective surfaces all over and the refractive nature of concrete. I just had enough energy to slog into the nearest convenience store to grab some snacks for Chip Man before making that last 7-minute trek to his house.

I got to meet the littlest member of my extended family. She was an adorable tyke with a good set of pipes as I was to hear sporadically through my visit. It had been several weeks since I'd seen them, so we caught up on a number of things while we watched a couple of episodes from his DS9 DVD collection. I greedily gulped down most of his cranberry juice; my colon should be squeaky clean by tomorrow.

Mommy came home so we ordered in a pizza and just relaxed in cool comfort before I headed out once more. Luckily, the temps had lowered quite a bit to make my trip home bearable.

Now, I just have to confirm that I'm still on for that trip to my student's apartment in Yokohama tomorrow for that class in English mixology. That guide I bought should be quite nice for some of that rum and cognac I have just lingering in my home.