Saturday, November 01, 2003

Sunday Nov. 2, 1:24 p.m.

Well, I got further vindication at my students' house yesterday why I'm grateful for my single status. This was my kids' class. Just before the older sister came into the dining room where we usually have the lesson, she and Mom got into a brief but lively row about something. The fact that the daughter is just 12 means that the two of them will probably be facing a lot of those spats over the next decade. Can you imagine the father having to deal with that?

Otherwise, it's been a pretty calm weekend. The weather has been cooperating for the most part. I'll probably just head out and do a bit of grocery shopping. Chip Guy sent over an e-mail to see if I were up for dinner tomorrow night. He also threw in the fact that he'd like to treat me for my 38th B-day. I don't think in our over-decade long friendship, he's ever offered that; I'm wondering if this is some sort of peace offering after our own little argument on the Web concerning "Kill Bill".

It seems as if the two main types of crimes getting attention on the news here have been the frequent pedal-by slashings of female students by psychotic men, and the rice rustlings in the rural areas. Only in Japan.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Fri. Oct. 31, 9:04 p.m.

It's been a long day thi s Halloween but it all went well. Got into my "costume" of sorts: filled in a dark suit and an eye mask to complete my disguise as one of the Crazy 88 of "Kill Bill". Not particularly elaborate but it was cheap and still made anough of an impression. I just had the morning oil class and then it was all gravy after that.

The annual Halloween party at my school was probably the most successful yet. Not everyone brought a costume; it was pretty easy to know who would and who wouldn't according to temperament. For the ones who came, their costumes were imaginative enough to fulfill the entire quota. The Rapper went against type and dressed up like a high school girl with makeup no less. Another of the male students went the transvestite route as well. We had two nurses, a devil, a bunny and even the course coordinator dressed up like a sumo wrestler. I helped her out do the "Trick Or Treat" round of the classes before settling for a couple of hours of downtime.

Then some of us who had some time before the official party went downstairs to the karaoke box for a couple of hours. Then the festivities began in earnest as the whole bunch of us tackled the various pumpkins fairly chaotically before things settled down into a more coordinated rhythm. Then came the pizza and then the apple bobbing. Of course, we had the official Trick or Treat bags of candy ready as well. It just took 2.5 hours. Afterwards, some of the folks were to meet up with a former teacher down in Shibuya for some further partying. I would've liked to have gone but with my kids' classes tomorrow, I don't think there would've been any way that I could've pulled it off.

I'm tired after all of the events and hijinks but it's a "good" tired, the one that I don't nearly get enough of anymore. I just hope that the Xmas party is just as happy. It was nice to see students getting interested in something that they hadn't experienced before. It made for a good change of pace from the usual classes.

Last night, I met up with the boys from last year's old oil class for dinner. We went over to ta another restaurant in the Shiodome City Center, a place which bases itself on chicken. I listened to a lot of confidential information about the company...none of which would really concern me anyways. For once, one of them became almost wistful about fate when he described his trips to an expensive hostess club to discover that some of these women who talk to people for a living are often university grads from home who couldn't find a more appropriate job.

It looks like that volatile interpreting session last week was merely a bandage, but a bandage that is holding for now. According to my friend, both sides are pretty much entrenched. However, it looks like I'll be getting my first corporate job as a private teacher from the middle of November.

The weekend will be fairly quiet. I don't have anything after my kids so I'll be able to relax a bit. I might meet up with a couple of old friends on Sunday, and then I have nothing on the holiday Monday.

I would prepare for my kids' classes but I'm tired. It can wait.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Tues. Oct. 28, 11:29 p.m.

Finished another long day. I was just starting to putter out on my last class. Luckily, the guy is pretty laid back.

Hmm...I may have set off some sparks when I sent out my reasons for not enjoying Kill Bill so much. Both Chip Guy and another friend pointed out that Americans and other Westerners get just as singled out for ridicule by the Japanese, so why should the Japanese get their shorts in a knot? Simple...for the same reason that the Westerners get their shorts in a knot. Two wrongs don't make a right. Well, if any more flames come my way, I'll just do my best to extinguish them.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Sun. Oct 26, 10:58 p.m.

Well, I saw "Kill Bill" today, and all I can say is this: it won't be getting the praise here that it's getting anywhere else. It was an interesting dichotomy: the Westerners who saw it with me gave it thumbs up while my Japanese friends gave it a thumbs down, and judging from the audience reaction, not too many of them would have disagreed with the Japanese friends.

In a society that's: 1) not known for ironic humour and 2)always looking for what the outside world thinks of Japan, "Kill Bill" is probably not going to win many fans. Being a person who straddles both the Japanese and Western worlds, I could see that I would've appreciated the flick far more back in Canada, but I still would have cringed at some of the dialogue and the scenes, especially in the Battle of the Tea Room which I did today. For the final battle between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii, it was almost jaw-dropping how these so-called warriors bantered about the Japanese language as if they were just two high school kids showing each other the latest Game Boy software. There was a lot of unintentional laughter there. And then, the battle ends with an enka song that could have just been at home for a sake commercial.

Now before you folks quote me the fact that QT had intended the movie to reflect every bit of non-reality in hi s homage to grindhouse cinema, the sad fact of the matter is that the Japanese like their stories straight up: no lavish spackling of irony and accurate depictions of what Japanese life is like. The very sharp differences in reaction left a slightly awkward feeling among us afterwards which forced all of us to temper our reactions.

As it were, some of us headed out for a Russian place for dinner. I had never had Russian food before, but for a place that was buried in a sub-basement, it had a lot of good food and it was filled to capacity. However, I think the food was more reflective of Eastern European cooking overall than of Russia proper, although the usual borscht and peroshiki were available.

Then, the remaining three of us went off to the Living Bar, a reasonable but trendy looking establishment, just around the corner for 3 hours of lively banter.