Friday, October 10, 2003

Fri. Oct. 10, 10:28 p.m.

Another week has gone by. Started my long weekend early as my regular oil class had that training session out in Yokohama this week. So, I got my leisurely haircut (always enjoy that) in the morning. I finally informed my hairdresser that my ex and I had indeed gone splitsville since my former girlfriend was the one who had introduced me to her friend's hair salon. She gave her sympathies but she wasn't horribly shocked by it since she confided that she really didn't know my ex all that well, except through their mutual buddy. I received a particularly good shampoo and scalp massage this time out.

Then, it was just some lunch at the neighbourhood Subway (can't live on Big Macs alone, y'know) and then I headed on out to Shinjuku to see if I could pick up a crossword puzzle book at one of the biggest bookstores in Tokyo. Gosh darn t only did they NOT have any puzzle books but they didn't have any interesting magazines. Well, luckily I've still got some mileage on my latest EMPIRE mag and the remaining puzzles. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow at another bookstore.

After that aborted attempt, I returned to my school briefly until a couple of my students invited me for some coffee at the local Tully's. Then, it was back to the school to pick up one more student and a newly-escaped teacher before we headed off for a Chinese restaurant back in Shinjuku. My student, Mrs. O, chose the place, and it was a good choice. The decor, the staff and the food reminded me of the formica-and-lazy susan non-descript eateries from my Toronto Chinatown days.

One thing I found out about the divine Ms. O. She's always been a very up-to-bat student, always willing to speak in English, even outside of class, to her fellow students. However, she seems to have a bit of a forlorn side to her which came to the fore with the imbibing of alcohol. Odd, considering that the others had said that Ms. O became more of a spritely sort when drunk.

After dinner, we headed out to that dessert place that I've come to know and love in East Shinjuku. There, as was inevitable, the talk on what was wrong with our school with its dysfunctional staff bubbled out, especially when my former fellow teacher, a very good sort, announced that today had been his last day. He's going out of the "biz", so to speak, and entering a website planning company in Mita. The students once again lamented the departure of yet another good teacher. I, for one, have become rather inured by it all.

The long weekend (which doesn't mean all that much to me anymore now that my patchy schedule has become a regular thing) will be a fairly busy one. I don't have my kids tomorrow but I have my monthly circle with those two former students at the Tea Room. I kinda wonder what the reaction will be from the staff now that my regular Friday nighters are now a thing of the past. Perhaps I may catch Chip Guy sometime on Sunday or Saturday. The Sunday will be busy meeting Ms. N, another current student, in Ikebukuro for an English textbook fair at the World Import Mart. The holiday Monday (Sports Day) may actually be a work day if my newest student decides to call me up for a session. And in better news, I've got another former student becoming a new private student starting from next Friday.

Hmmm....I see a golden opportunity opening up for tourism in Japan, which has been in the doldrums for the past few years. Let's've got three high-powered movies coming out: the star-powered Last Samurai with Tom Cruise, the Quentin-powered Kill Bill, and the Tokyo-backdropped festival darling Lost in Translation, all of which have something to do with various aspects of Japan. Perhaps with all of these references suddenly popping out into the world cultural ethos, there may be some interest brewing in visiting the Land of the Rising Sun. Ah....there is also the other festival darling Zatoichi.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Thurs. Oct. 9, 9:19 a.m.

Now that Arnie is the Governator, it's interesting to reminisce about his commercials for Japanese TV. He's lifted heavy kettles for no other reason than to hawk Cup O' Noodles. But I think what the US media would love to slaver over is the ad where he was dressed up as a bottle of vitamin drink (the stuff that keeps salarymen going after 13 hours at the company) while starring with then-It girl, Rie Miyazawa.

Tokyo has not been immune to the Schwarzenegger campaign for Sacramento. The media has also devoted time and space to the Terminator, giving full explanations about what a recall is. However, we're not new to celebs-turned-politicos. You might say that we're kinda jaded. Celebrities deciding to become part of government have been around for a long time. The Japanese Senate is chock full of former wrestlers, baseball players and actors. One ex-wrestler who is now part of his local congress refuses to take off his mask in session. And of course, both Tokyo and Osaka had comedians as simultaneous governors; one was pretty much ineffectual, the other was brought down by charges of sexual assault. Hmm...sounds familiar.

But, all in all, we currently have a leader who, for a brief time, went the other way. Junichiro Koizumi became a prime minister-turned-celebrity because of his eclectic personality and wayward hair. But I did say briefly. Now, one half of us believes that the former flavor of the month is now doing "politics as usual".
Wed. Oct. 8, 10:11 p.m.

Well, the Terminator is now in charge of the 5th-largest economy on the planet. Only in California. Susan Sarandon must be having a major migraine. I'll hold my judgement for next year. But the CNN coverage this afternoon made for a nice diversion on this cloudy and cool day.

It looks like the boom in new restaurants is in full swing under my subway station. The new grill chain, Pepper Lunch, was the first to open last week. I actually did try it on its second day. Yep, the decor certainly looks a lot brighter than the one presented by the old Dosanko Ramen greasy spoon that had been there for years. Food was decent enough as well. I had the combo steak and hamburger with bean sprouts and carrot slices. The gimmick is that the steak cubes are brought on a sizzling hot plate while still raw; the customer has to mix it around on the plate to cook them.

I'm not sure but it looks like the new conveyor belt sushi place may also be in operation a few days ahead of schedule. The decor looks slightly different but it seems essentially the same ol' place. Then, there is the upcoming new ramen joint across from it. The only thing I see identifying it as such is the big sign with the huge kanji for noodles.

Speaking of new developments, the relatively seedy street heading straight from the station entrance (a number of izakaya and little hostess pubs) has gotten a bit of class recently. One place that has been built up seems to be some sort of wedding planning office. The outside walls certainly have that appropriately pearly white sheen and there are some rather large picture windows showing what's going on inside. I wonder if they're following all of those TV stations in Manhattan. And a new apartment building has popped up down on the corner with some sort of large office space comprising the first floor.

Then there is the former company dorm just a few meters down from my place which got gutted earlier in the summer. Now, the inside has been altered to show more space and certainly more lighting. In fact, all of the lights in the entire complex have been turned on every night in apparent defiance of TEPCO policy. There is now some sort of French name over the entrance and new plants ringing the front of the building. Got no idea what it is now but I'm waiting to see who the new owners are.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Wednesday Oct. 8, 12:19 a.m.

Well, I got through my 9.5 hours of classes undamaged. I don't feel particularly all that tired, or at least as tired I thought I would be. But then again, I did ingest some chocolates and a vitamin drink just before my last round of classes in Urayasu tonight. Fantastically enough, all of the classes went pretty well.

True to the nature of my biz, I've gotten my share of cancellations. My Thursday night cancelled due to cold, and just now my Wednesday afternoon cancelled due to extra work. To be honest, I'm not all that disappointed. I can do without the long commute to either Jiyugaoka or Yokohama once in a while, and frankly, I've been getting the slightest sensation that things aren't going all that well with the pair.

I'm catching that Larry King "special" on the potentially untimely death of Roy of Siegfriend and Roy because of that tiger mauling. I'm gonna sound like a real heel here but frankly, I'm a bit surprised that Larry has devoted a whole hour to Roy...who is still alive, albeit in critical situation. They seem to already be treating him in the past tense. However, as famous as he is in Las Vegas, I just don't see him earning that much of a full court press.

Now that I have a much more emptier day coming up, I can just try and get some other stuff done. I still have yet to complete a translation request by my computer friend although he labeled it a quick request. I'm not too worried, though; if he had really wanted it quick, he would've been pestering me up the wazoo. I'm just worried about what he expects me of me on the 24th with this so-called interpreting gig between his boss and him. All I say is that he should've just taken Japanese lessons, but he must have sort of hangup about doing that.

Well, on Friday, I've got another dinner date with a group of students at a Chinese restaurant. Nice to be popular.

To my surprise, I caught both the guest of honour from last Friday's party and the expectant barely adult mother at school today. The girl wasn't showing at all but she i s only 4 months into the odyssey. But she does look a little different, now; maybe a bit more grownup. I would've liked to have spoken longer with them (just 2 minutes by the elevator), but with my schedule, it was pretty much futile.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Monday Oct. 6, 9:06 p.m.

I had completely forgotten that tomorrow will be the big showdown between Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis in the California recall. I'd shut off my satellite system for about a week to catch up on some B5 on my DVD that I haven't been watching CNN. Ought to be interesting and quite close, too. The Terminator got a last-minute wrench in the works with the allegations of him groping women over the years. Rather old news since everyone's been reporting on that for years.

Over here, the big news is that the police caught the scumbag and four of his compatriots who killed a 16-year-old and burned her body to a crisp in Chiba last week. The guy looks like a motorcycle gang punk but acts like a true sociopath. He apparently registered his marriage with the victim so that registering for personal loans would be much easier. Hope the guy gets the gallows.

I'm sure that a lot of commuters are hoping that the JR East folks get the gallows, too. Yet another snag on the line this morning caused a 4-hour hangup on one of the major lines crossing through Tokyo. This time, it was a 180-kg shovel which just ended up on the tracks, blocking the train. This makes it the fourth blunder in about 3 weeks for the station. JR has never been known for great service, but it's been an especially terrible month for the railway company. Ironically enough, the JR folks had just opened its newest jewel in the crown last Friday, the new and improved Shinagawa Station now open for Bullet Trains. I'm sure though that the majority of the commuters are hoping more for better service rather than more convenient connections.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Sun. Oct. 6, 8:47 a.m.

After all of the mania with the classes and the party, this past weekend has been marvelously calm and cool. A couple of the partygoers gave me thanks which was nice. Just made a jazz compilation tape and watched some B5.

Heard from my newest student that she probably won't be available tomorrow which suits me fine. I'll just have my regular Monday morning class and then I'll be free. It'll be a nice little segue into the 9.5 hours of teaching time that I face on Tuesday. I'm still wondering if it is the wisest thing to do, but I haven't done one of those in a while and the money will be good.

Just scoured through a new website about Tokyo events. I found some jazz clubs that the Madam and my Monday morning class may be interested in.