Saturday, March 13, 2004

Sunday March 14, 1:22 a.m.

Well, the long day has now become part of my history. It all started with breakfast at McDonalds just across from my station. I was lucky to ply myself down with a generous helping of protein, carbs, sugars and caffeine to carry myself through the day since I would have little time to eat aside from a can of coffee.

I noticed that the refit to the station was nearing completion. Now, we've got escalators and elevators coming out of the wazoo, and there are new washrooms. I checked out the men's washroom; I saw that it didn't take too long for one of the stall s to get soiled.

My two pairs of sisters followed parallel patterns. The older sisters were either lazy or slow to speak while the younger kids were much more on the ball. Such is youth. I'd better appreciate their efforts while they're still in prepubescence.

After my last kid, I took a walk around the Tokyo Dome area. Boy, that area has really developed into some complex. There's an amusement park, a huge shopping complex and an impressive hotel surrounding the home of the Giants. I even saw a Bubba Gump restaurant beside the complex with a mockup of Forrest's bench and box of candies.

I had a couple of hours before I was to meet the Cop and his group for dinner at El Torito, so I browsed around Times Square. Ended up not buying anything although I was interested in trying to buy that Django album at HMV. HMV has a much smaller jazz section, so he didn't rate a mention there. Well, there is always Tower again on Monday.

I met the Cop, his girlfriend, one of the receptionists from the school and later the Jester in front of El Torito. We had quite a wait of about 40 minutes but we managed to keep ourselves entertained with the tale of the Cop having to take care of the receptionist (which included having to get his hand coated in her vomit) after she lost control of her faculties after a beer binge a few days back. It was hard to imagine this soft-spoken young woman pulling off a bender but then again, I've seen the Ballerina go from swan to ugly duckling.

The wait was long but the food was worth it. And certainly the talk was hilarious. Since we had the minimum number of teachers there to rant about our motley crew of dysfunctional staff, the Cop, Jester and I were just taking potshots at some of the weirdos who populate the upper echelons including Ms. Hip-Hop, one of the more colourful teachers. It looks like, according to the Cop and the Jester, that a few vents let off a lot of steam in the last couple of weeks. There was apparently a huge confrontation among the Songbird, the coordinator, the most senior teacher and one of the staff. The most senior teacher hasn't made himself a very popular man on campus. Some of his anal ways have rubbed the teachers the wrong way, and he had a screaming match against the assistant manager this past week when he found out that he would have to take some paid vacation days this week. For that matter, a number of full-timers are being told to take a vacation. What gives? The school is supposed to be having the full slate of high school kids to train for American universities, and a number of semi-privates to take care of. Nothing really surprises me about the machinations of the staff anymore.

After a long day in my roachkillers, I'm ready for bed. I'm just relieved to have another quiet Sunday to let my feet recover. Still, I enjoyed dinner tonight. We just don't have that many opportunities to cut loose without being worried about the students.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Saturday March 13, 7:24 a.m.

I've got a feeling of the fatigue and creakiness that usually comes with an early wake-up call. Luckily, it's gonna be a good day today. None of this SADS thing for me. I'm getting some of the domestic stuff done right now, and I've had the remaining cereal. However, I will be getting a heartier one at the Golden Arches on my way to work. My kids' classes are set up so that I won't get any time for a proper lunch. I do get snacks at both of my kids' houses but dessert does not a lunch make, and that dinner with the Cop won't be happening until 6:30.

I forgot to mention that Tokyo had a jewelry heist of sorts right out of The Thomas Crowne Affair about 10 days ago. One or two pairs of foreigners wearing bad wigs and armed with mace robbed 3 billion yen worth (probably $30 million US) of jewelry from a Ginza shop. To the shock of passersby, the folks got away on a scooter and apparently made it out of the country.
Friday March 12, 9:35 p.m.

It was a pretty easy lesson with 77 and Arwen. We kept a good balance between the text and chat. They were happy about their White Day presents; unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring up the topic of the Kabuki tickets. I didn't bother mentioning anything about dinner although none of us had any dinner plans; we did get together after all on Wednesday, and if the ladies had been that interested in going out together, one of them would have said so.

So, instead I had dinner at the neighbourhood kaiten. I'd forgotten the golden rule about going to the conveyor belt sushi place....go around 6 p.m.. I got there around 8:30, so the conveyor belt didn't hold all that much sushi, and the chef looked rather stressed out.

The Cop left me a message on the machine inviting me to the El Toritos across from Times Square tomorrow night. It looks like The Jester and DTE are coming a s well, so I may also make the splurge, too. I'll have to give him a call. Once I get all that done, I'll make myself a Chai and get hunkered down to smooth out the lesson plans for the kids.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Friday March 12, 12:35 p.m.

It's been a pretty quiet day here in Tokyo, so far. As the weather forecasters indicated last night, it's much colder and it's overcast. I'm still in my bathrobe and I spent the morning watching CNN and planning for my kids' lessons tomorrow.

What hasn't been happening here is a contrast to what's been erupting overseas. The terrorist attacks in Spain are still getting exclusive coverage, and I just saw that the South Korean parliament has just impeached the president. There was the usual brawl in the chambers.

I've also found out that my good friends up in Ibaraki that they will be moving up to the resort area of Karuizawa because the husband was able to get a job. I'm happy for them since he'd been looking for a number of months. I'm also happy now that I have a good reason to go up to the area. I guess if I were to analogize the situation, Karuizawa would be to Tokyo as Banff would be to Toronto.

It looks like the Anime King will be making his pilgrimage to Tokyo in a couple of weeks. He has made reservations at the Hotel Haruhiko for a week.'s been a while since I've had any overnight guests, let alone a long-term one. I may be able to unload some of the stuff that The Iconoclast left to me.
Thursday March 11, 10:39 p.m.

Seeing that massive bombing attack in Madrid just now makes me wonder about Tokyo's subways. The authorities feel that a similar attack over here is remote, and not unjustifiably so, but I'm also aware that Madrid has always been vigilant about terrorist attacks because of ETA and yet this morning happens.

My lesson with the Office Lady went smoothly although my so-called reciprocal White Day present for her wasn't one after all. She had never given me anything for Valentine's Day. However, she was pretty happy and I've apparently got a hole in my head. But since Ms. 77 reminded me last night that she had given me some chocolates a month ago, I won't be messing up tomorrow.

Watching it alternately with the Madrid bombing coverage, I caught a better-than-average Jean-Claude Van Damme movie called TIMECOP. The concept was quite good and it managed to carry the movie despite the thespian underachievements of the star.

The winds have died down to nothing so I was working up a sweat in my leather jacket coming home tonight. As it turned out, the high reached 22 degrees C. However, it doesn't mean that Spring has finally arrived. The temps will be plummeting tomorrow to a more seasonable 10. So, I'll still be seeing more of my breath for a little while longer.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Thursday March 11, 1:27 p.m.

It's been a fun day...meterologically and geologically. On the first part, we've been having some pretty gusty winds scouring through the Kanto. There were some mini-sandstorms being whipped up in my neighbourhood thanks to the dusty schoolyard down the road. Plus, Mother Earth decided to give the area a little kick at about 11:35 this morning. Nothing too serious...just some shaking.

Well, it looks like I may have yet another old student as a new student. The Teacher called me up after several months to see if I would be available to teach her. When I initially got into this freelancing gig almost a year ago, she got me in contact with that Japanese website,, which didn't yield any results for me. Now, her former teacher has decided to head back home to Canada, so she's calling for my services. I can fit her in on Friday mornings. She was an interesting one a few years back when she was one of the students at the school. A lot of the younger ladies despised her for some of the condescending comments she allegedly made in class, and she drove the coordinator crazy with her treatise-sized complaints about the school program. She was quite aware of her persona non grata status although I'm not sure how she actually felt about it. Perhaps, she has been inured to the slings and arrows from years as a high school teacher.

I'm not just slowly digesting a mammoth meal of spaghetti and salad. In previous years, I would have just said "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" and devoured the entire bowl, but being slightly wiser now, I'm just saving the still-sizable remainder for either a late dinner or breakfast.
Thursday March 11, 12:35 a.m.

I managed to win another round against the Scheduling Monster. No, I don't mean the lady who does our schedules at the school but just the usual rigmarole involving my Thursday night student at the juku. I never really got an answer from him by noon yesterday so I just decided to set him adrift and teach the Office Lady instead tonight since I had to defer her class last night due to the farewell party for that Chinese student.

Speaking of whom, I met Arwen and Ms. 77 in front of Studio Alta in Shinjuku at 6 tonight and then we walked down a few hundred metres to the front of the Isetan Department Store where we met the Chinese student along with fellow teacher, The Jester. This is a guy who just cannot turn off his goofy humour...which was fine for the dinner since it was supposed to be a happy affair. We waited there for another 10 minutes until DTE came by. Then, we headed off for the Chinese restaurant that had been recommended to us by another teacher who could not be with us tonight.

The place was literally just a few dozen metres down from the Aussie pub that Movie Buddy and I frequent and perhaps even just across the street from that Turkish restaurant that the Madam and I plus two others had gone to last year. The Chinese restaurant failed to disappoint. Even though Arwen had mentioned that the place was more of a pub than a full restaurant, the fare there was good enough to satisfy me. And the banter generated by the Jester kept us gabbing for a few hours. The climax, and I use the term quite specifically, came near the end when the Japanese word for "circumcision" came up, and Ms. 77 was struggling to explain it to us in English. It was certainly a classic moment culminating in 77's typically boisterous laughter....loud enough to wake up the dead. I think my regular lesson with her and Arwen will be made more interesting on Friday. I do wonder if we're gonna make the after-class dinner a regular thing. I can't think that they would want to do that every Friday night so I'll just let them decide what they want to do. Plus, I do have to get them some White Day chocolates since 77 made some for us a month ago.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had met the Hawaiian after an absence of about 3 weeks. She was as energetic as usual, and I received a nice souvenir of chocolate chip and macadamia cookies from the Islands. I would've devoured a few tonight but I just got home a bit too late. Afterwards I went off to Shinjuku to that branch of Tower Records. I took a look through the jazz section. I may decide to get another Bill Evans CD, but I think the first purchase will be one of Django Reinhardt, the legendary gypsy jazz guitarist. I'm not sure why, but he just stands out, and I think, although I've never heard any of his stuff, I have heard some of his influences on some soundtracks.

Well, I'll be heading to bed in a few minutes. When I wake up in 7 hours, I'll be facing a light day of just getting my usual rubdown, then planning for the Office Lady's lesson followed by some prelim work on the kids' lessons for Saturday (man, I hope I can survive 4 hours of them) before I head out the door.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Tuesday March 9, 11:06 p.m.

Well, the juku owner was back at the house, if not in perfect health. Her personality was as bubbly as ever but she cancelled all of her classes with her regular kids. Fortunately her mother came by from the country to help her although, according to the owner, she's actually helping her mother out on most chores.

I bought a couple of White Day pound cake for my first two students, the only ones to give me some chocolates back on Valentine's Day. They certainly got interested in that restaurant I had gone to today; one of them plans to make that reservation for next month. My second group was also in a pretty good mood. The middle-aged couple had just come back from a short trip to Shanghai a few hours ago, so they got me some candy as a souvenir. My third student was his usual churlish self thanks to a combination of fatigue and second-language induced stress.

I may have made some good choices on my jazz club choices. Jazz Veteran got back to me after she had gone to those websites herself to check out the performers. She said that the bands playing at the two clubs on the 21st are pretty top notch. Now, the only problem is just trying to make the decision of which club to select.

Well, tomorrow I get to see the Hawaiian after her trip over to her namesake islands. Her family had to make an earlier-than-expected return home after the father fell ill. Although the circumstances of seeing her again aren't exactly happy ones, it will be nice to see such an enthusiastic student. Then, I head off to Shinjuku to meet up with Arwen and Ms. 77 and a few other alumni to have a farewell party for that student heading back to China. It does mean that I'll have to re-schedule The Office Lady's class; I just hope that that Thursday night student at the juku does cancel out again.

I just found out from the CNN website that an old member of the extended Star Trek guest star family has passed away. Good ol' Paul Winfield, aka the ill-fated Captain Clark Terrell from Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, passed on. I remember him popping up in a quietly acclaimed episode of TNG and also appearing as one of the main characters' father on Babylon 5.

Well, happy to say that I've got a late wake-up call tomorrow. It'll be nice to loll about in bed, then have a good student followed by a dinner party at a Chinese restaurant.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Tuesday March 9, 3:43 p.m.

Just got back home after having lunch with the Tsudanuma ladies. This time out, they took me to this very hidden restaurant in the area called TAKIMOTO. It's a Japanese place which has some very fine fare in the form of sashimi, broiled fish, and chawanmushi. For a place that is literally secretly esconced in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, the student who made the reservation told me that there is usually a 1-month wait to get a table. Now, that's good word-of-mouth. After the leisurely lunch, we made a brief stopover at that same student's house nearby to check out her Hina Doll display for the March 3rd festival. According to the folklore, the display should be stored away no later than the 4th or it would endanger one's daughter's chances of marriage. Apparently, the student doesn't seem too worried about that for her own daughter although she had confessed in class that she'd never go into a cemetery alone day or night.

I've got a slight waiting time until I head on out to the juku. I've still received no reply from the juku owner, so I'm not certain whether she's back from the hospital or not. I've got the spare key just in case to open things up. If she's isn't there, then I'll have to call up my Thursday night student at the juku to see if he's gonna pull off another cancellation since I'd like that time to teach The Office Lady.

Well, the new lease came in last night along with the insurance policy. So that chapter of bureaucracy is now over and done with for at least 2 years (provided if I'm still in J apan at that point). I still have yet to hear from the Canadian government concerning my birth certificate; it's been 4 months since I sent in the application.
Monday March 8, 11:18 p.m.

Another one of those subtly exhausting days today. I had a new student for her second class, which therefore meant that I was trying out the new material on her. And I had my regular company class which is a bit of a slog. In both cases today, the former forgot to pay me, and the president of the latter wasn't there to pay me for 5 weeks' work. I'm gonna be leaving him a nasty note if I don't see any moola next week.

In between classes, I managed to grab another couple of CDs from Tower. I got the latest by local jazz crooner, Kei Kobayashi. He's got potential but he's still a kid so his voice still sounds a bit on the altar boy side. And as a further tribute to my days of salad, I bought a compilation of old disco hits which include Chaka Khan, Earth Wind & Fire and Prince. They're mostly from the 80s but they're all good songs so who's to complain? Plus, I filled out my point card with the Kobayashi purchase so I was able to get the disco CD for just a measly 400 yen.

Speaking of jazz, I was once again on the search for a decent jazz club for that inaugural trip on the 21st. I found a couple of places that are open on Sunday. One is DUG up in Shinjuku, one of the older jazz places in Tokyo. I can't say the cover charge for either place is cheap but compared to the Blue Note, I think I can live with it. I just hope that the two ladies can as well, although I'm a bit worried about Jazz Buddy since she's living here by herself and just has a part-time job.

Well, tomorrow should be a regular Tuesday with my Tsudanuma class in the morning and then my juku classes tomorrow night. I also have to get some chocolates for the ladies since the upcoming Sunday is White Day, the second half of the Valentines Day celebrations. The men have gotta give stuff to the women this time. If I remember correctly, I may be going out with the morning folks for a bit of lunch afterwards. It should help alleviate my daily food budget since the ladies always insist on paying for the teacher, one of the few and treasured benefits of being a private educator in this nation.

For the past few weeks, the weekly rags have been featuring raunchy pictures of a TV personality who's due to appear in an S & M flick which would put Kim Basinger's tied-up role in "9.5 Weeks" to absolute shame. The TV personality started out as a swimsuit model back in the late 80s before coming out as a popular singer/TV personality. Then she ditched it all to get married for several years. She dropped off the pop culture radar during that time until she got divorced. Probably needing to pay the bills again on her own, she's come back in dribs and drabs on the variety show circuit but nowhere near her former stature. So, here comes this little movie with her in full frontal nudity, seemingly having all sorts of disgrace being heaped on her. If the pictures are correct, then this flick may just have everything short of the actual act. Usually these former idols find it next to impossible to come back but with this flick, maybe this lady will get all of our attention.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Sunday March 7, 8:20 p.m.

I've just been digesting a rather filling meal of four hamburgers, rice, broccoli soup and Pringles...and washing it all down with Tetley's Iced Tea. Yes, it might sound disgusting but give it a shot, then we'll talk.

It's been a very quiet day today. I've had no classes, no social contact with students or friends, and no reason to head down to Tokyo. I even got to partake in a nap. I just bought the fixins for dinner and cooked & ate everything up to the sounds of my jazz CD.

I did give a call to Mom as part of my monthly ritual, and I even got a call from my cousin in Osaka to thank me for sending over that bottle of maple syrup and chocolates over to her family.