Saturday, May 08, 2004

Saturday May 8, 5:09 p.m.

Got back home about a half-hour ago. I had been expecting to head off to the Curry Master for that BBQ later tonight when I realized that there was a possibility that Movie Buddy would have suddenly asked me up for accomodations since I live so close to the Curry Master. And I'm not too crazy about taking last-minute reservations so I had been thinking about doing some quick cleanup at home before taking off at 6. I also thought that the odds of MB being so thoughtless as to do such a thing were pretty small but I couldn't take any chances.

However, I needn't have bothered. I had left a message with the Master asking if she needed anything from the convenience store. A few minutes later, she called me back saying that MB didn't make it due to a cold. And the BBQ was already well under way so I just begged off. If I'd really wanted to have gone, I would have been somewhat upset by the rather cavalier attitude, but as it were, I don't mind at all. I wasn't particularly up for it. So I just picked up some convenience food for tonight.

At the AM/PM, I heard the typically loud voices of two teenage girls just splatting down on the floor at the back just as if they were at home. I just ignored them and sadly wrote them off as the more extreme examples of emotionally unstable teens. I reminded myself that I have met my share of pretty well-behaved teens and even now, the delinquents aren't all that plentiful, knock on wood. Besides, delinquents have been around since time immemorial, and some of them actually end up becoming pretty decent if hard-bitten folks. Still, that middle-aged lady manning the register looked none too happy. I couldn't blame her.

I'm now reminding myself that I should get Arwen my US copy of SPIDERMAN since she wants to see the English subtitles that her version lacks. She called up late last night to profusely apologize about forgetting to pay me once again. I reassured her that I would be able to survive another week without her money and then I sugeested that she could give me the money when the lesson began like some other forgetful souls have done. I also should remind myself to get some Murphy books for SR.

Old Sam got in contact with me by e-mail this morning. He and his wife will be arriving in Tokyo Sunday night and wanted to ask me if I knew any cheap hotels in and around Tokyo Station. As it turned out, there was one but otherwise, it's a pretty tall order so far but I haven't quite given up yet. I'll give him a call tonight.

Also, Automan, another old friend, contacted me to say that he'll be making another pilgrimage to Tokyo later this month. Not sure if it'll be for R & R or for business. However, I'll try and see him.

I called up Mom. Looks like Dad hasn't been too hot of late. I'm a bit worried although I can't be that surprised since he's not exactly even middle-aged anymore. I really hope that passport gets done soon.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Friday May 7, 10:53 p.m.

Well, I made it through my first day back at work in about a week OK. But there were some variations to the theme. I found out from The Teacher that the resentment and dislike she got from her classmates was very much mutual. She kinda went on her usual soft soapbox rant and stated that she couldn't stand the younger folks' immaturity and lack of core values. However, she did have a few allies in the group, one of whom was someone I remember as being a cultured sort...admittedly a rarity in today's young group.

After lunch at the Golden Arches, I went out to Nihombashi to Maruzen to see if there were any hope of finding a tape to go with that textbook I'm using with The SE. Once again, I was out of luck so frankly I'm not sure what to do now. Then, I went up to Asakusa to see if there were any hope of finding one of those carp kites for a good friend back in Canada. No luck there, either. But I did see some Japanese versions of The Rockettes traipsing through the main shopping avenue of the area for some reason. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of men taking pics of the ladies.

I got back to the Tea Room to see SR. No particular changes there although I will have to think about getting some new material for her somehow. At the end of the session I was surprised to get a phone from the Tea Room owner. On the other end was Arwen who told me that due to a jumper at Ichigaya Station, her main route to get to the Tea Room was blocked so we ended up meeting at the south gate of Shinjuku Station. It sure was a Friday back from the Golden Week; there was a literal flood of commuters ebbing and flowing around the ticket gates.

Arwen reached me and then we walked over to the Maynds Building's Starbucks. It was an intriguing lesson to say the least since at one point, she started wondering aloud about what the system behind a typical Japanese FUZOKU club was. I wasn't about to give her major details in a public place but I said that I would be willing to give her some info over e-mail according to reports from various salarymen I've spoken with over the years. She also asked about the reputation behind YOUNG ADAM, that rather risque Ewan McGregor movie. I kinda wonder about what Arwen thinks about at times. Plus, she forgot to pay me again.

As it happened, our streak of going out for dinner after the lesson ended tonight since we started a full hour late and she had things to do at home. Luckily, I did have a rather forlorn meat pie at Starbucks...not a regular item at the North American branches, I'm sure. Believe me, the English have nothing to worry about when it comes to meat pies from Japan.

I got home to find out from the school coordinator that I've actually been offered classes next week. In fact, I may have a bushel of them through the middle of the week. I guess some of the teachers may be on Intensives. Well, it'll be my first crack at this new crew since the year began for them. It has suddenly become quite busy. However, I may have sacrificed some time with another old friend of mine from Canada.

I still have to get some work done in terms of student reports and then get something planned for the little girl tomorrow afternoon. Plus, I do want to catch some of that grueling testimony that ol' Rummy will have to give to Congress in half an hour.

I found out that one of the most familiar faces on the local political scene has resigned because of that silly pension scandal. Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuda was the No. 3 or No. 4 guy in the government (which would place him in the same ranking as the US Speaker of the House or the Senate President), but for most of us folks, he fulfilled the same role as the Press Secretary. He was a pretty avunculuar sort which made him the perfect sort to talk with the press but he is also the son of a former Prime Minister. I would have said that his father is probably turning in his grave but then again, most politicians in modern Japanese history have had their fingers in so many pies that PM Fukuda is sleeping soundly in his grave.

Shower time!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Thursday May 6, 4:03 p.m.

Just came back from the National Science Museum in Ueno Park where that Star Wars exhibit was located. It's not exactly Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas but it was OK, especially if one appreciates the models that the movies used. After I paid my 1400 yen, I made a rather circuituous route through the original building to the new wing and managed to take one shot just before finding out that I couldn't take any pics inside the hall. Great...I just bought the disposable camera for that purpose.

Anyways, I was greeted by the John Williams fanfare and a 1.5-metre model of an Imperial Star Destroyer. The exhibit was arranged so that the tour goes through the cinematic history of the series from the original 1977 movie to Attack of the Clones. There were exhibits of the various costumes like Obi-Wan's Jedi robes and the different types of Imperial Stormtrooper uniforms. Different excerpts from all of the films played on small flatscreens throughout the exhibit and there were computer screens which allowed people to find out more about the science behind the fantasy of Star Wars. Unfortunately, since I don't read Japanese easily I let that part go. The tour was a pretty quick walkabout...I think I got through it within 15 minutes but I didn't expect all that much.

Back home again and have my first piece of mail in about a week. It's from The Anime King with his two DVDs of his homemade video of Galaxy Angel. It looks like the Cutsoms people were a bit more ham-fisted than usual. Part of the CD case was shattered so there was tape holding it together. I've got some empty cases so I can take care of that problem.

Still overcast. So much for that sunny forecast.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Thursday May 6, 10:39 a.m.

Well, the so-called sun is more of a gauzy brightness. I just hope that the rain hasn't decided to make another appearance. I did my wash; I was rather surprised and relieved that the washing machine didn't do what it somestimes does when it's fully packed. It sometimes conks out or keeps repeating the rinse cycle so taking out the clothes turns out to be a very wet affair.

I've got another free day since my Thursday night juku student has pulled another cancellation. But I won't stay at home; I'll be heading out to the National Science Museum to check out the Star Wars exhibition there. I figure I need to get a bit of exercise. Going to Ueno Park, where the museum is located, may provide a good enough venue for a walk although I'll probably have to skip over some of the homeless folks.

Looks like tomorrow will be back to a full day again. I've got my regular three classes. And then, I think I'll have the afternoon kids. The morning girls are out in at their cottage so I can get some more sleep in. Then, the Curry Master has her BBQ later that night.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Wednesday May 5, 11:58 a.m.

Overcast day and we had some drizzly stuff this morning, although it hasn't come close to the forecast downpours quite yet. I managed to those several hours of sleep I wanted.

Well, it's the final day of Golden Week. I'm sure that the news will be filled with the U-Turn rush and its scenes of jammed highways all throughout Tokyo.

I gave a call to Fujimamas to see if I could make that reservation for Sunday brunch. Sure enough, the guy on the other end told me that they couldn't take any reservations for parties under 5 people, so it looks like the three of us will have to take our chances in the morning. Maybe if we get there by around 10:30, we should get a table. Next, I sent a response to one of my Tsudanuma students concerning her fax about idioms. The way it was structured, I thought she was trying to test MY knowledge about them.

Probably for the next couple of hours, I'll be trying to translate some of this stuff that the Iconoclast threw me for this long-delayed project. I did promise the Prez that I would do something about it as well, although he didn't seem too hopeful. Maybe doing this while listening to some jazz music will get me through it.

Looks like dinner tonight will be relatively inexpensive. All I need to make is some stir-fry; the Engineer was kind enough to give me a present of Nagoya Kishimen. Kishimen is flat noodles, similar to the Pho of Vietnam.
Tuesday May 4, 9:07 p.m.

Well, my last session of "A Dinner with Haruhiko" took place today. I met up with my friend from Shizuoka at the Mullion. She wanted to thank me for helping her with a bit of translation I did for her several weeks ago so we went to COCA just behind the twin department towers at Mullion. Always a good meal. My friend was suitably impressed with the fare as well. Afterwards we walked through the same path that The Engineer and I had gone through yesterday in reverse over to the Tokyo Station underground mall.

The three dinners have been interesting in terms of what each of them and I talked about. The Bohemian went in depth about our uncertain futures, The Engineer and I gabbed about the present and then today, my other friend and I talked about our pasts. She had also been part of our little group back in university in the early 90s, so we spoke of our old friends and what they were up to. I'm sure a few of them were probably sneezing overseas at some of our talk.

Well, the official final day of Golden Week will be a largely empty one. It will be a rainy one, unfortunately. Otherwise, I would have done some laundry and aired out my mattresses. The blusteriness of the winds certainly don't bode well. But at least I'll get to wake up a bit later.

Super Channel has been on a major marathon kick. First, it was the 70 hours of Star Trek, then several hours of Columbo, a number of Frasier episodes, and now we've had 12 hours of the updated Perry Mason movies from the mid-80s. All of the trappings have been held over from the original 50s series: the plot structure of the innocent client framed by the real killer after the murder of a deserving jerk. It was pretty obvious that the new series was filmed in Toronto. I still prefer the original black-and-white show over these new ones but at least with the new ones, we don't get that final scream of admission by the guilty party on the witness stand.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Tuesday May 4, 10:37 a.m.

I met up with The Engineer yesterday at Tokyo Station. I took him over to the trendy spot of the Marunouchi Building. He wanted to have ramen; however, the Tokyo Station area isn't exactly known as a ramen zone like Shinjuku or Ogikubo. So I decided to take a chance and checked to see if there were a chance of such a place in the Maru Biru. Sure enough, there was a place on the 6th floor called Akai Noren (The Red Awning) which served Hakata Ramen, my favourite style of ramen.

Hakata Ramen is notable for the broth which is made from pork bones. The broth is off-white and very rich (no snickering, please). However, both the Engineer, who has traveled through Fukuoka (the modern name for Hakata) and I thought the soup was a bit too watery. However, I couldn't complain about the taste. And the set was pretty generous for a thousand yen: the ramen, kimchi rice, four dumplings and a bit of dessert.

Afterwards, we walked over to another trendy area, Shiodome. Being in Golden Week, there were a lot of people at the NTV Plaza. However, we did manage to get a table at the local Tully's coffee shop for a while before heading over to Shimbashi Station so that E could get his ticket to Kyoto today. Then, we went off to Akihabara to look for some stuff. We did our usual double sessions with the massage chairs in the Yamagiwa store. The sun was starting to set when we walked up to Ueno to look for a place to have dinner. But again, because of the holiday, everything was packed so we just ended up heading home and eating at the neighbourhood kaiten. That sushi chef with the slightly bad ear was there again but this time he was on the ball taking orders.

Finally, we made it back home where we just caught some TV before we retired for the night. Then, earlier this morning, I took him to the station to see him off. My allergies are acting up again so I'm considering downing some medicine before heading out to meet another friend for dinner.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Sunday May 2, 10:50 p.m.

I met up with The Office Lady for her lesson today at Nihombashi Station. We went out of an exit that I usually didn't use from the station, and I was rather surpsised by the new Merrill-Lynch building that towered everything else in the area. We couldn't use the neighbourhood Starbucks since it was packed; however, we only had to walk down a few dozen metres to find a relatively empty Excelsiors.

Afterwards I met The Bohemian at Hachiko. We went up to one of our usual haunts, En, that upscale izakaya on the 11th floor of an electronics store building. It actually opened up at 4 p.m. now so we were happy to find out that we were the first customers in the place. In fact, we got a good window table. We spoke much about our own little foibles in our lives including our love lives. In fact, it kinda felt like my talks with Arwen alone. We managed to go at it for about 5 hours.

I got a call from The Engineer. He gave me the arrival time of his Bullet Train so I can go and pick him up at Tokyo Station tomorrow. But I'm gonna have to wake up a little earlier than I had hoped to get the place spic and span, just in case he decides to stay over. UGH!