Saturday, July 03, 2004

Saturday July 3, 10:09 p.m.

Ironically, my class with the kids had atypical results. My older kid actually was on the ball but the younger sister told me the lesson was a waste of time. I didn't take it too personally but it did give me a kick in the pants. Strangely enough, the mother asked me if I would be interested in picking up a few more kids (not really). In any case, I'm pretty tight schedule-wise, so the answer will be no but I will wait a few days before I send over the answer.

I got back home for just a little over an hour to have lunch and then I headed back and took the bus down to the Shin-Urayasu station area. For about a couple of hours, I noticed that the area is a lot more modern looking than plain ol' Urayasu station. There are a couple of new hotels, modern condos and two shopping malls surrounding the station. I managed to while away some of that time by trying out one of those massager chairs in the department stores. Those things are getting more and more sophisticated all the time. My demo model had a touch panel which could determine massage course based on what part of your body you want it to work on. You could also decide how hard the kneading can get and there was even a recliner option. It would be a nice thing to get for Dad but at 228,000 yen not including the freight costs, I don't think it'll ever happen.

I met up with my students at about 6:30 in front of the police box and we walked down a few hundred metres to a restaurant called Yume (Dream). It stood out with its dark exterior. It was one of those trendy bar/restaurants run by a friend of one of the students. The culinary theme was chicken, and there were quite a few sumptious chicken dishes. In fact, I think we overindulged with our choices, and I certainly overdid it a bit with the alcohol. I've got a bit of a hangover right now but I'm handling it OK.

We had been thinking of heading out for karaoke afterwards but since we got out of the place a bit late and with my dim sum outing tomorrow, we decided to call it a day instead. We spent a few minutes figuring out which bus I would take to get back to my neighbourhood when the one who had recommended the restaurant in the first place shucked out some money to my surprise and got a taxi for me. I really tried to refuse her very maganimous offer but it was a done deal. I took a taxi home as her treat. I'll have to get my "revenge" on her somehow by next lesson.

As I said, I've got dim sum tomorrow with The Office Lady and Betty Boop in the morning and then I may have Mexican with Arwen and 77 later in the evening. I think this will be one of those gourmand weekends. I'll try and avoid the booze.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Saturday July 3, 7:36 a.m.

I see that another actor...this time, a great one...has passed away. Marlon Brando at 80. Not a great thing to admit but the first ever Brando sighting I ever caught was his 10-minute cameo as Jor-El in Superman. My record hasn't gotten much better since then; I've only caught the Godfather after that. Kinda too bad to see this acting genius go from great to just gross, though.

Nothing much to say about yesterday. The Teacher and I went over a review of Troy and I had my regular session with SR. Strangely enough, I think this is the longest stretch I've had with her without a cancellation.

It's been pretty cool at night over the past couple of evenings. I can save a bit on the air conditioning, although I'm sure that that will change.

Well, after getting Party Hearty's request to take on another student, I got a message out of the blue from one of the guys from the Maple Leaf outing a few weeks ago to see if I could teach him. My answer is still the same...alternate Thursday nights. Speaking of which, it looks like I may have a free one of those this week.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Thursday July 1, 11:00 p.m.

Well, I see Saddam Hussein is playing his role as a sociopathic dictator right to the last drop. He's already started to stonewall and deny in a way that would make Milosevic proud. It ought to make for some riveting viewing although "Trial of the Century" is a bit much. No matter what happens, though, the record for former brutal dictators isn't too good. Let's see...Hitler killed himself in the bunker, Stalin may have been poisoned, the Ceaucescus were shot to death, Il Duce was strung up.

Had a bit of a surprise at the school on seeing a former staffer come back to the fold, as it were. DILBERT returned to the place that he was basically ousted from a few years back. There are only a few of us left who remember him. There's me, the DJ and the Head. Dilbert actually even sat in on my class for the entire two hours in what raised alarms with the Head. The Head is worried that Dilbert, who was pretty incompetent during his first time there, may be pushing the coordinator out of her position as the head of the all-year program. It certainly looks that way. The Head then started talking petitions about making sure that doesn't happen. To be honest, though I can share my colleague's concerns about having the little eraserhead back in charge of the program, I can't say that I would be all that dismayed or surprised with the coordinator's ouster. She has tried to maintain some sort of stability but that's really all she has accomplished. We haven't gotten any new materials in the past several years and some of the materials we do have are embarrasingly dated. Plus, she has had a reputation among some of the old students as being quite mercurial. But then again, we are faced with Dilbert.

The Head even asked me to subtly inquire our manager about what is to happen. Frankly speaking, I'm not quite sure what a guy like me, who has never had very warm relations with the staff,can do to change this situation if it is indeed THAT situation. I think the manager has his mind made up. There hasn't been any love lost between him and the coordinator, and the fact that we're significantly lower in numbers this year has given him just the ammo he needed to start the pustch. And from what I've heard from the Head, it doesn't seem that the coordinator is all that worried. She probably wouldn't mind getting out of it.

Anyways, enough politics. I was able to pull off my annual Canada Day quiz with the class quite successfully. Then I headed out to see the Curry Master for her regular session. Instead of doing the usual fill-out-the-blanks exercise, she had me proofread a lot of her correspondence exercises from her classes. It seems that her teacher isn't exactly earning his keep, so to speak. Well, at least, I found some weak points that I could help her on. Then, the SE came in. It was the first time to see him in over a month. He wasn't too bad and he told me that the next few months would provide him with lots of English training in the form of special seminars. Great for him. I didn't mention to either of them that my alternate Thursdays are free due to the fact that The Salaryman is no longer my student just in case something came up.

Well, perhaps something has. Party Hearty sent in a message asking if I could squeeze in one more student or ever more. Squeeze is right...I only have that Thursday night open. I sent back the usual dog-and-pony show about what I do.

There's also a possibility that I may have a very rare Monday off. Not only has my company voiced a potential cancellation, but my morning students called up to say that they had to cancel their next session. Mind you, I've sent off a missive to Jazz Buddy offering her the empty morning slot. I hope she takes it since that would mean I have my two classes at the school on Tuesday and Thursday. Now, I know what an exec and his rolodex must go through.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Wednesday June 30, 10:35 p.m.

That overcast morning produced some rather intense rainfall, especially in Shizuoka where a record-setting 81 mm poured down. Over here we got a squall and some thunder, but that was about it.

I got to see The DJ for the first time in a while. But any talk with him was pretty much pre-empted by one of our "up-with-people" teachers who just engaged the DJ in tech talk for pretty much most of the lunch hour. Since I'm not too much into that, I found myself gradually getting moved away and into lesson planning. I had the top class for the first time in a long while. They're a good group of ladies but they don't seem to be nearly as effusive as one big class as they are in pairs.

Speaking of the school, it looks like the Spring Term will be extended well into August. Rather unprecedented since it was a custom for the students to get quite a long summer vacation. However, the coordinator mentioned that a lot of students tend to drop out after the first term so she wanted to nip that bud quickly, especially since we have a smaller crew this year. I don't particularly mind since that will mean more opportunity to pick up some dough.

Shortly after, I headed off to the Starbucks in Toranomon where I would meet The OL. I struggled to keep awake in the 2 hours before the OL came...digestion and age helped out with that. The OL herself was a good half-hour late due to work, but I didn't mind too much. She's earned my respect. She also updated me on our dim sum meet with Boop on Sunday. Instead of the Hong Kong Garden, we'll be meeting out in Jiyugaoka way out west to a Chinese place that the OL knows well. I haven't been out that way since I had those two real estate agents in that late-night Monday class. Gad, I'm happy that I don't have to do that anymore. I'll be reliving the commute although it is a Sunday. The reason for the last-minute change is that the OL had heard that the dim sum over at the HK Garden wasn't too good. To be honest, I heard the same a few years ago but I didn't really think it serious enough to merit telling her about it.

I also made a confirmation with that other student about meeting up on Saturday night. It is indeed the police box at Shin-Urayasu Station. I'll probably head out there a bit earlier since it's been a while since I was last there. I think Clinton was still President then. I can just browse through the MONA shopping mall.

Well, tomorrow is Canada Day. Happy 137th!

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Wednesday June 30, 8:52 a.m.

Looks like my juku boss had been going through some personal hell since her husband's return from the hospital due to a minor stroke. Apparently, he's been pretty erratic but it looks like things have calmed down, and she's back to her happy self.

I've got another outing planned with those first two students this weekend for dinner. The stingy student in the second class did the smart thing and eschewed coming to what would have been her final class last night. Made things a lot easier for all of us. My final student has started going through the red tape for that US visa once he finally starts his new stint Stateside. I told him about my ridiculous woes with my birth certificate.

Pretty overcast right now but it's still gonna be hot. I've got my first class at the school in a couple of weeks. I've also got another one tomorrow there. Seeing that it'll be Canada Day, I'm planning to do a bit of a pop quiz on The Great White North with the students there. And of course, I've got the Office Lady tonight.

It's amazing how Michael Moore's latest movie is just burning up the theaters back home. I'm wondering when it'll get here.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Tuesday June 29, 3:29 p.m.

It's another scorcher out there. I had that morning class followed by the lunch at Takimoto. One of the ladies, a tea ceremony teacher who's always been a bit tentative, tentatively asked me to hold my rice bowl in the correct way. That teaches me how to handle myself in front of the ladies. I've noticed that the ladies make it a habit to harp on their worse halves. When they asked me if they were the only class that did it, I answered quickly in the affirmative. I guess it's a generational thing. Arwen hasn't really griped about Aragorn, but it's interesting to note that my Monday morning folks have never complained about their husbands. It could also be a class thing.

On the telly, I noticed current hot gaijin tarento, Thane Camus (no, it's not a Star Wars name) actually getting into the singing business. It's a gimmick song, mind you, but he is singing. Thane is one of those non-Japanese TV personalities who can speak native Japanese and feel more at home in Japan. The first one of these gaijin tarento was one of the two Kents: Kent Gilbert, a transplanted lawyer whose claim to fame was that he could speak perfectly fluent Kansai-accented Japanese in a squeaky voice. The natives here found him so amazing that he was getting regular requests to come onto the talk shows and chat.

Since then, we've had the other Kent, Kent Delacarte, a Mormon with coke-bottle glasses coming in. In the past decade, we've also had Kaya, an obnoxious woman from Chicago who may or may not be divorced from her former pop idol hubby; another fellow who's even become part of the first bicultural manzai comedy team, and then there's Thane.

I think one of these folks put it best when he said that if a foreigner wanted to strike it big on TV here, he would have to be willing to act like an idiot or an "idealized" version of a foreigner. The worst case of this consists of three black guys who often star with Thane on a Sunday evening variety show. If their act ever got shown in the States, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would have a coronary.
Monday June 28, 9:30 p.m.

Well, we just had our "What the hell?" moment of the week. It looks like the U.S. handed Iraq back a couple of days ahead of schedule. I don't think it'll mean all that much for the volatile situation but it was a pretty shrewd security move.

Over here, the cops caught the bastard who pulled off that armed robbery in Shibuya Station last week. He's a 64-year-old chrome dome with dark glasses and a feisty attitude. In fact, he's playing his new celeb status up so much that the cops are now wondering if he's just a cover guy for the real culprit. The artist sketch had quite a different drawing for the suspect as well.

It was another hot and sultry one today. My collar was already stained with sweat by my first class. My last class actually went pretty well since I had just the low guy for the first hour so I didn't have to do any major juggling of levels. There's a possibility that the company class may be put off next Monday because two-thirds of the class will be off in S. Korea on business. It would be the first time since I started this class last October, outside of national holidays, that this class would be canned. However, it's still tentative.

Tomorrow should be even hotter. I've got my regular Tsudanuma folks and then we're heading for another scrumptious yet classy lunch at Takimoto. Then I've got my juku folks later that night.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Sunday June 27, 8:11 p.m.

Not too hot today. The temps were actually quite bearable. It was downright autumnlike last night on the way back from the Curry Master's.

Four straight hours of talking with students today have left me exhausted. I'm gonna need more stamina food; I may actually get back on the vitamin drink kick again. It will be a pretty busy one this week. I'll have at least two classes everyday until Saturday.

I'll just get some reports written up and lessons made for tomorrow.