Saturday, July 17, 2004

Sunday July 18, 10:17 a.m.

It was another scorcher yesterday. No hope of rain. After my morning lessons, I just headed out to Foo Foo again for another savory lunch set there and then I spent the next 6 hours just browsing the bookstores and CD shops. I did pick up a couple of old ones. Then I met The Engineer, Shrek, the Chipmunk and a few others for dinner at that same place we'd gone to last time The Engineer was in town. When we got there, we nervously asked if they had a table for 8 since it was a Saturday night and things looked fairly crowded. We were then pleasantly surprised when the waiter had no problem securing a table for us. The restaurant was a lot bigger than we'd initially thought.

The Engineer noted that it was basically a eating session more than a drinking one. I've got no complaints here...the food was good. I kept ordering this Mango Smoothie which was listed in the cocktail section of the menu. It kinda struck me as odd since I couldn't taste a single atom of alcohol in it. I downed three of the Smoothies and the fever was catching. A couple of others followed my lead and ordered the same cocktail. However, I guess there must've been something in it since I developed a bit of a throbbing headache by the time I got home.

Well, I've got Chip Guy coming back for a short business trip in the middle of this upcoming week so hopefully I'll be able to meet up with him. Then, next week will be that yakiniku fest with The OL and BB. I decided to make it Toraji in the big Parco Department Store in Shibuya. The place that the Prez took me to in Shin-Okubo was definitely more in the Korean vein, but I thought it was better to go with what I knew in terms of price.

It looks like Sgt. Jenkins will be arriving tonight from Jakarta. It should be another round of wall-to-wall live coverage by the local media. I'm wondering how the US is going to handle this situation.

Today, since I'll be at home all day. I'll spend a good part of it just cleaning up the place with notable emphasis on the bathroom and the kitchen. Then, if I still have the stamina, I may just head out and buy myself another pair of shoes. I've got three pairs (not exactly in Imelda's league) at home of which my sneakers are the only undamaged pair.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Friday July 16, 9:02 p.m.

9 months and 2 protest letters to Thunder Bay later, that little piece of stiff paper which has prevented me from traveling outside of Japan for almost 2 years finally arrived. My birth certificate, this thin 3x5 slip, came in this huge Purolator envelope literally stuffing my mailbox tonight.

Now that unnecessary odyssey is over, now I've got to start up the process for renewing my passport, so I have to look over my dusty pile of instructions from the Embassy and then try to find some time next week to head over there. I think most likely it'll be Wednesday or Thursday.

Also on the bureaucratic angle, this time from this country, I received my payment schedule for my National Health Insurance. The only thing is that I never got the card to go with it. It usually comes in at the end of March but when it never arrived, I just assumed that being just a part-timer meant that my coverage had been abruptly cut off. Well, obviously that's not true. My premiums are quite a lot smaller now since I'm no longer earning that much money. I'm not too worried if I don't get a card, though, since the last time I really needed the card was 5 years ago when I busted my ankle, and that had happened during work so my school actually paid the medical fees out of the company policy.

My lesson with The Teacher went quite well since we were on more friendly ground with a movie article...An Interview With A Vampire. And the lesson with SR was also quite smooth. This past week has been a good one compared to the somewhat off-kilter one last week. In between classes, I had a chance to have lunch at my neighbourhood kaiten sushi place. Not too good today. The fish seemed rather dry on the edges...not a good sign at all. Then I went downtown to the Ginza to check out the CDs and see if there were any Michael Buble CDs which contained the Spiderman theme. Apparently in Japan, Buble's discography only goes as far as late last year. His take on Spiderman came out all the way back in 2002.

We had a small squall when I came out of the station. but that quickly passed. It was still so hot that the rain and resulting humidity made the outside feel like a sauna.

During my lesson with SR, we touched upon the Jenkins story. It's starting to look more probable that the deserter will be taking up Koizumi's offer to come to Japan for that medical treatment. However, I'm still suspecting that there is a certain "spider-to-the-fly" ominousness to the invitation. Of course, the US has warned that it will ask for their old citizen back. To be honest, I'm happy that at least the State Department has been upfront about their request.SR and I thought that Jenkins would already be on his way up here but since I haven't seen any major bulletins on NHK, I gather that he is still thinking about it.

Well, I got a message from Arwen stating that she'll be taking up DTE's invitation to head out to Yokohama on Sunday to catch the fireworks. Power to her. But not surprisingly she won't be asking me to teach that lesson to her after all tomorrow. So I've got 6 hours to while away between my lesson with the kid and her father and the dinner with the Engineer. What to do? Well, I guess I can always head down to Shibuya and continue my search for the Buble CD. There are a few places there which may contain some imported discs. I also sent off a missive to Jazz Buddy to see if we're still up for Monday. JB isn't one of those people who answers on the first ring, so to speak.

Gotta get ready for the little one's lesson tomorrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Friday July 16, 9:00 a.m.

Well, that threatening thunderstorm never came to pass last night...thank heavens. However, the Curry Master wasn't exactly on full power due to her intense classes during the day. But we managed to get through the class. SE was his usual diligent self.

It'll be another hot one here. Nothing too different today. I've just got the Teacher and then SR later on today. The Engineer set up a time and place to meet for Saturday but I've sent in my regrets to DTE for the Yokohama Fireworks Festival. The meeting time has even been put one hour later to 7 p.m. Now, there's absolutely no way that I can do that and be lucid for Jazz Buddy's class on Monday.

I see that the Martha will be sentenced later today. Well, whichever prison she goes to, I'm sure that it'll be left looking far better and more tasteful.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Thursday July 15, 3:42 p.m.

Looks like we've got a major thunderstorm coming our way out there. It was a furnace outside; probably the hottest I've felt this year. Hopefully, the downpour cools things a bit. Strangely, while we've been baking here in the Big Sushi, it seems like everywhere else has been getting majorly flooded. The news has even managed to register a blip on CNN.

Well, on the good side, I managed to save quite a bit the past month but on the flip side, I only got a pittance from the school this month so things may be a bit lean going into August since several of the students will be going off on their usual travels next month.

The Biologist was quite good yesterday if a bit nervous. I have to remember that for all her maturity, she's still very young. She gave her brief presentations and I just advised her on delivery and structure.

DTE sent me a change in plans for the upcoming get-together on Sunday, much to my chagrin. They've decided to catch the annual Yokohama Fireworks Festival and then head out to drink. I almost forgot that it was once again the season to fire off those things. Well, I'll probably skip that; I'm not really into broiling outside with thousands of others while watching a mere hour of pyrotechnics only to spend the next two or three squishing myself in a train. I've gone through that Hell enough times. There have also been a fair share of crushing accidents in the past during the rush home. Wouldn't be surprised if there were instances of "road rage" as well.

I got the Curry Master in a few hours plus the SE. Hopefully, if there are any pyrotechnics of the natural kind, they'll sweep by in the next hour. I have no desire to get drenched on the way over to her place.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Wednesday July 14, 8:50 a.m.

It's amazing how temperatures can change within a few hours. On the way to the juku, I was sweating a fountain's worth of water. Four hours later, it felt like an early spring evening.

The Engineer has contacted a whole bunch of us for dinner on Saturday. It looks like it'll be in his usual haunt of Ikebukuro. I invited Arwen and indirectly 77, but I kinda doubt that they'll take the bait. After that slight fiasco the last time he met them and because there is that party for DTE the next day, I think they'll probably be just happy with the lesson. In fact, I'm not even sure if Arwen will even make it at all for anything this weekend considering her job from Hell.

As the baseball All-Star Games are getting underway on both sides of the Pacific, there may be a crisis brewing here. Last week, the group of baseball team owners got together and decided that there may be another merger between two teams to go with the probable one between the now-Ichiro-less Orix Blue Wave and another team. Well, the players and the public didn't take that too well and so the players' union have not only asked the owners to reconsider their decision but they even hinted at going on strike.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Tuesday July 13, 9:32 a.m.

It's gonna be another scorcher today. Back to 35 degrees! Ugh!

Well, I did actually get a reply from Arwen. It looks like that stupid rule of leaving only after the boss leaves is pretty much the rule there at her new company. As a result, she's not too sure about whether she can make it for DTE's party which is a shame. However, she and 77 have asked whether I'm available for a lesson on Saturday. It's possible, but I thought she said that she wouldn't be sure about her plans until the weekend. Hmmm...

Still haven't gotten any reply from the Scheduler about any classes this week, so I take it as a given that I'm gonna be free all day until juku time. One thing about the Scheduler...a lot of the teachers over the years have complained about her iciness which thaws only briefly when she needs something. However, at least her sociopathic tendencies are dependable.

Not too sure about what I'm gonna make for early dinner. I've got some odds and ends in the fridge that I need to take care of.
Monday July 12, 10:28 p.m.

Looks like the week has gotten off to a good start, knock on wood. I only had one of my Monday morning students (the other had to attend to some family business. But they both got me some summer presents (we do have that summer and winter gift giving season). The one who couldn't make it today gave me a bottle of Italian wine; knowing her, she probably got me something that I would have to pay on the installment plan. And then, my other student got me some jellies to go with my yogurt. She also tipped me about this old restaurant in Nishi-Ogikubo which has very cheap and very filling Western food. I doubt that I'll ever be in the area but I passed on the info to Skippy who so loved the Outback last night.

Then it was off to the Andersens in Shinjuku to meet up with Jazz Buddy. Happily, I think it was the first class with her that was actually quite successful. I managed to copy a whole bunch of telephone dialogues so we pretty much spent the two hours on that. We'll probably be making next week's class a bit of a special one in terms of venue since next Monday is Marine Day. Perhaps, it may be the Keio Plaza buffet.

The class with the company went well enough. It was the first time in a month that everyone was present. The performance wasn't too bad but it's still a low crowd

But boy, three classes and lugging around the wine and the jellies along with my usual bag of books in the hot summer took its toll on me. I'm pretty exhausted right now. I'm just glad that the coordinator didn't call me in for tomorrow so that I have absolutely nothing until the juku classes tomorrow night. The last e-mail call was her last chance to get me to come in. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm not called in at all this week since I heard from DTE that there is a new full-timer who just started which probably means that he'll be getting the year course students as part of his training.

Speaking of DTE, it looks like her party is being set up by two of the receptionists at the school. I've tried to relay the message to Arwen and 77 since DTE can't seem to get her messages to go across to their servers. Well, it looks like my attempts have failed, too. But the addresses I've got for them were their cellphone ones so I've sent another one to Arwen's home computer.

So what shall I do for most of tomorrow? Well, I wish I could just lay around the apartment but I do have to do a bit of prep work for my newest student, The Biologist, which means another trip to Maruzen. And I'm gonna that rubdown at the clinic. Lugging those two bags have pretty much ossified my shoulders.

I had a bit of a small debate with The Doctor over the e-mail today concerning Spidey 2 and the Sgt. Jenkins situation. Doc wasn't too impressed with the first Spidey but I held up my end. He also felt that Sgt. Jenkins should be keelhauled before a Military Court of Inquiry. I agreed with him that the 64-year-old deserter has to face up to his crime but before we drop the Sword of Damocles upon him, we should consider about his family. No, they weren't involved with him when he defected to North Korea, but they are part and parcel of his life and he is also of theirs. It will be a lot more complicated. One part of me wishes that the US will grant him amnesty or some other way for him to pay his penalty without forcing him to be separated from his family.

The Engineer called me 20 minutes after the deadline I had set for him. He got my message concerning my schedule so I'll leave it to him about his whereabouts on Saturday. Also, the Big Guy contacted me to see if I could make it out for his buddy's birthday party. Well, I've already got DTE's shindig to go to so I had to decline.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Sunday July 11, 11:30 p.m.

I recall over a year ago writing a diatribe against Matrix:Unloaded. Well, I'm happy to say that a year later, I'm once again writing about a much-anticipated sequel to a blockbuster movie and it's a good review this time.

Yup, caught Spiderman 2 today down in Odaiba with Movie Buddy. Pretty much since Chris Reeve's Superman back in 1978, we've been getting these big-budget, symphonically-scored superhero epics especially within the last decade. I can probably say that S2 is arguably the best one I've seen so far. For me, the acid test was being able to root for Peter Parker the regular nebbish and not just for his alter ego. As much as I enjoyed X2 and despite the fact that the X-Men was the Marvel Comic that I had collected the most, I couldn't really connect with the mutants as much as I could with the Webhead. I felt sorry for him in the first several minutes of the film when he got all sorts of abuse heaped upon him from all sides including Mary Jane. I felt happy for him when he had that brief giddy freedom from being Spiderman. And I felt for him..period...when he admitted to Aunt May the events that led to Uncle Ben's murder. I really wasn't sure how she was going to react.

But the big money shot for me wasn't the spectacular battle on the subway although that was great. It was seeing Mary Jane's face when she finally discovered what Peter Parker had been really doing for the past two years. She could've melted the heart of Mr. Spock with that look.

I thought Spiderman 2 was also superior to the first outing in that it just came out more evenly. The first half of the first movie which dealt with the origin was handled expertly but the second half didn't hold things as well since it was hard to take the Green Goblin's outfit too seriously as a US Army battle prototype although Willem DaFoe made a great villain. This time, all of the main characters came out on top. Doc Ock was a tragic villain born out of one simple moment of arrogance while the future villain, Harry Osborn, has gone down a more gradual path of self-destruction.

There was just that one moment of hokiness back on the subway where the passengers took care of their unmasked hero and promised not to tell anyone. Uh,yeah, right...I would've expected such promises from any midwestern village whose name ended in "-ville", not the Big Apple.

All in all, a great movie and it basically foreshadowed the entire premise for Spiderman 3. The ending also looked suitably enigmatic as would befit a middle movie.

Since I'm also somewhat interested in the soundtrack, I enjoyed the familiar Danny Elfman suite and even the strange insertion of B.J. Thomas' "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head". And it was only just 30 seconds' worth at the tail end of the closing credits but Michael Buble put out a fun big band version of the Spiderman theme. I will definitely be on the lookout for that although it wasn't on the official soundtrack CD.

Well, after all that, Movie Buddy and I headed out to Shinagawa where we spent an hour at Anna Millers, that Mecca for the otaku who love their short-skirted uniforms. I told MB about it but he didn't seem too perked up by that. In fact, the two of us spend most of that hour just perusing reading material: I was looking through his edition of the Japan Times and he was reading through my EMPIRE magazine. It all seemed so domestic.

Then, we met up with Skippy, The Maid, DTE and The Kid just under Anna Millers to head up to the Outback. It's safe to say that everyone had a pretty good time there. Skippy was just going through a major orgasm delighting in the tastes of her steak and her dessert. Gabby joined us a bit later although she was suffering from a toothache. After dinner, The Kid had to take off but the rest of us went down to the front of the Wing Mall for a bit of coffee outside. It looks like Skippy is looking forward to the next outing. It looks possible that we may be trying out that Grand Central Station oyster bar in Shinagawa Station next month.

During the events of tonight, Movie Buddy informed me about the Hawaiian, my former private student of several months ago. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, her father did pass away. She and the rest of the family seem to be taking things pretty well considering, though.

When I got home, I got a message from The Engineer. He is indeed here so I did send him a message but I won't be able to see him for his two days here. He's headed out to the boonies on business for the rest of the week but I did tell him that I'd be able to catch him on Saturday.