Saturday, November 29, 2003

Sunday Nov. 30, 1:04 p.m.

It looks like the downpours have ceased for now, although during the early morning, I had half expected Noah to come rowing by for a pickup.

Well, the first shoe has dropped. Two Japanese diplomats were shot dead by Iraqis near Hussein's hometown. Full court press has been given to the story. The government was already very skittish about sending SDF troops; this incident may have finally put the last nail into the coffin of that idea. Koizumi has always wanted Japan to play a larger role on the world stage, and the deployment of the SDF was his big audition. However, the Japanese public have remained adamantly pacifistic and they have a pretty big shield in front of them: Article 9 of the postwar (American-made) Constitution which officially limits the soldiers from any sort of combat outside of immediate defense of the homeland.

I don't know what's gonna happen in the last month of 2003, but my cynical mind thinks that there will still be a few unpleasant memories in store.
Sunday Nov. 30, 12:26 a.m.

The end of the penultimate month of the year, and true to this wacky weather year, we're getting another typhoon coming our way a full month after the last one should've made its way through. This weekend has been pretty wet already.

The kids were a bit better although I'm happy that I don't have them next Saturday because of the Xmas party next week. Then it was off fo r my monthly chat session at the old tea room before meeting up with Chip Guy and the family for dinner. Through it all, I was feeling pretty tired. I figure that I'm just getting older; now I often just close my eyes on the subway. Resistance is futile.

Speaking of the subway, I was sitting next to an old fart who was lying all over 3 passengers' worth of seating clearly sleeping off a boozefest. It's an interesting thing in this country. Throughout the half hour commute home, noone bothered to shake him from his stupor, even though the train got pretty filled up. Back in T.O., a lush like that would've been either nudged or slapped awake. In NYC, he probably would've ended up the latest murder victim. Here in Tokyo, the only person who would dare wake him up would be one of the subway staff and only when the train reached the last stop. For me, a non-confrontational guy, if he isn't bothering me, I won't bother him.

Another thing about life in Japan. I'm currently watching a late-night variety show where the guest of honour is a flaming homosexual TV personality. Once again, another paradox rears its head in Japanese culture. Japan is probably one of the last countries which will grant any sort of rights to homosexuals, and yet on the TV, clearly gay "talents" or transvestites often reach the heights of stardom. Heck, even some straight comedians act gay as part of their schtick. However, I'm not sure if these folks are truly being celebrated or they're being treated like particularly talented monkeys in a petting zoo.

My time with Chip Guy made me realize that his time in Japan is indeed numbered. Within a few months, he and the family will be moving back to Canada. Now with my ex gone to greener pastures and then my best buddy heading back to the Great White North, I guess I will truly be alone from March.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thurs. Nov. 27, 10:36 p.m.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those Stateside. Turkey will probably be infesting most of the households across the Pacific. I had a feast of my own tonight but it didn't involve the big fowl. Actually, the mundaneness of my long 4-day weekend was broken by a little outing with some of my students to the Ikebukuro area to the Sunshine 60 Building, one of the first skyscrapers to go up in Tokyo.

There, we went to an exhibit called Namjatown, which is a kiddy play zone, but in recent years, the powers-that-be have wisely decided to put in some interesting areas for the older ones. One is the Gyoza (dumpling) Museum. Patterned after the first of the culinary museums, the Ramen Museum in Yokohama, the Gyoza Museum consists of a mini-Tokyo circa 1950 with various outlets of different gyoza. The six of us dove into fried, boiled, spicy, flaky pie-type gyoza, etc. It was all very tasty.

But we didn't stop there. To add to our torture, there was also an Ice Cream City just down the hall. The different types there were highlighted by the Turkish ice cream, which is a lot more elastic than the usual stuff. Everyone of course chose their favorite scoops, but since I've always had the showman within me, I went to the Okinawan ice cream stand and ordered the Adventure which entailed a scoop of just about every type of ice cream in their inventory, topped with corn flakes (a staple in sundaes over here), banana wedges, butterfingers, whipped cream, peach slices, cherries and candy sprinkles. All for a relatively measly 1500 yen. It took us a little over 10 minutes for all of us to devour the stuff down, but we got the job done.

Even that wasn't enough. We had the temerity, if not the good sense, to go upstairs and take a look at the custard pudding exhibit. Yes, perhaps that doesn't have quite the delicious ring of ice cream or gyoza, but at least one of my students was still slavering away. However, the rest of us were too busy digesting to display any more excitement. Still, we managed to share one jar of the stuff.

With each of our purchases in the different food courts, we received raffle tickets which enabled us to engage in a raffle. Usually, the average customer gets one shot at it, but since we were a party of 8 hungry people. we got 10 cracks at the wheel, and ended up getting a number of small prizes which could be of good use as bingo prizes at the annual school Xmas party next Saturday.

I'm feeling pretty good right now but I'm glad that I have the day off tomorrow. I'll keep it close to home.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Wed. Nov. 26, 11:48 p.m.

Well, my work week was very short. I've got nothing for the next 2 days and then we're back into the weekend again. And my work week wasn't all that demanding in the first place. Three classes yesterday and just two today.

It's hard to believe but we're now less than a month away from Xmas. And yet another sign that this is indeed the case is that NHK just announced the lineup for the annual Red and White Song Festival. Twenty years ago, my family and a lot of the other Japanese-Canadian families got really excited about getting one of the network's crown jewels to broadcast in Toronto. Nowadays, it's just kinda considered to be that distant sorta square uncle who pops in for a visit annually. Pretty much everyone either heads out for more appealing events on New Year's Eve or they get the New Year's food all ready while the Festival acts as sonic wallpaper. Seeing that I'll probably be having nothing to do on the 31st, I will probably be cozying up to it myself.