Saturday, October 30, 2004

Saturday October 30, 11:43 p.m.

As expected, it was a drearily cold and wet day today. Just had my lesson with the one sister and her mother. Then I went all the way down to Tama Plaza to see Movie Buddy over at his girlfriend's place. Tama Plaza is just one of those residential places centered around the station. We had some good and spicy ramen before buying a bunch of very caloric foods such as Haagen-Daas Apple Pie ice cream and watching a double feature on his DVD player.

Dark City was a small but interesting flick made for the comic book set. It had 24's Kiefer Sutherland as a doctor with a Peter Lorre shtick and Jennifer Connelly, who seems to be naturally attracted to these ingenue roles in sci-fi movies. And the supposed lead actor is an absolute unknown to me. The whole story struck me as being a template for the Matrix without the groundbreaking effects but it was still a good timewaster.

The Recruit was also in the same vein, especially on a rainy day. It was entirely predictable. I had pegged the real villain within the first 15 minutes. Al Pacino toned down his usual histrionics but it's still hard to believe that this is the same actor who portrayed Michael Corleone even if it were 30 years ago.

Afterwards, I spent another hour gabbing about all sorts of sci-fi stuff such as Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5 before I made my way across town back home. I won't be here all that long either since I'll be meeting MB yet again...this time with Skippy and maybe even The Ballerina to watch COLLATERAL. Just gotta think of a place to eat afterwards.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Friday October 29, 8:07 p.m.

A rather deadly side effect has been arising from the Niigata earthquake. Economy-class syndrome may have claimed the lives of a good fraction of the deaths. Among the tens of thousands of evacuees, a lot of them have been spending their lives in the cramped surroundings of their cars. And just like being in the economy class of an airplane for several hours, these people have been risking blood clots from staying within their cocoons without stretching. They're simply afraid of staying in buildings which could collapse.

My lesson with The Teacher turned me into the sounding board or stressball once again. A couple of times, she vented about her hubby and her son's homeroom teacher. Luckily, later on in the lesson, I brought out my ol' Vegas standup routine which had her in stitches.

Then I met The Engineer for lunch in the Ginza. We traveled around the area for a while before finally deciding to dine on eel-on-rice. He remarked that it wasn't the best eel but for only 998 yen, what can we complain about? I ended up helping him out on an errand which had me just lug a heavy suitcase for a bit. I definitely got the better deal of the bargain by not only getting the usual Reeses Pieces from him, but also getting a free lunch. The next time I see him will be back in the ol' hometown.

I'm currently watching MUSIC STATION, the Japanese equivalent of American Bandstand...without the dancing, though. One thing I have to wonder got all these live acts of various genres performing. Well, I have to wonder what these acts must think of their fellow colleagues when they perform since the quality level varies greatly. Morning Musume is up there singing their latest tuneless hit; it was sung so off-key that I had to switch off the volume for the duration.

Well, I've got the kids tomorrow but that's about it. It'll be another cold rainy day.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Friday October 29, 12:32 p.m.

Looks like another school Halloween party is in the can for another year. It's possible that we had our largest number of costumed students yet. And we had our second consecutive year of transvestitism with one of our more delicate-looking guys ending up resembling supermodel Ai Tominaga except for the fact that he was several centimetres shorter. Still can't believe that the real thing is preggers.

I had the Carolinan afterwards. I was stung a bit by her when she innocently asked me if I'd gained weight. OUCH! I guess I really need to get back to the gym tomorrow night. Well, after downing 7 slices of pizza, I guess I did look a bit bloated. However, I still decided to head over to the post-event party at a nearby Chinese restaurant across the river where the coordinator and some of the other remnants of the party had some dinner. I still managed to down a bit of soup and fried rice before stumbling back home.

Finally got word from Skippy. She will still join us for Sunday. Gotta hit the hay though so that I'm semi-lucid for The Teacher. Luckily, the "lesson" for her is pretty much on automatic but I gotta keep up appearances.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Wednesday October 27, 10:38 p.m.

Pretty straightforward day. Got my lunch at Foo Foo, that ramen place in Shinjuku Station. It's been a while so I had my usual Pai Ko Tan Tan Men. Pretty garlicky but good. And they actually got the order right this time.

I guess the Fall is definitely here to stay. There was actually a bite to the coolness tonight, quite a far cry from the torrid heat of a couple of months ago. I think a lot of the locals are trying to escape from the cold now. The Starbucks where I usually teach the OL was pretty packed tonight. However, I was able to gradually sidle to a good table.

I guess I really lack sleep. On the way from my lesson with The Hawaiian, I decided to take a nap on the subway down to Starbucks only to overshoot my destination by a couple of stations. Usually an internal alarm gets me up a station before my arrival. Not this time. But luckily, I wasn't in any major hurry.

My Messenger has been quite busy today. I had a brief conversation with The Bohemian on it before he decided to talk with me on a real phone. He's not into "chat" and I can understand. He's be up in the north for well over a couple of years now and he still can't seem to make any friends up there. He does have a rather intriguing personality but I can't believe it's been that difficult for him. Later on after I got back from work, I got into my second chat session with The Movie Buddy. Unlike the Bohemian, he seems to really thrive in chatroom mode. It looks like it could just be the two of us for COLLATERAL. I have yet to hear from Skippy and the Scarecrow turned me down.

The people up in Niigata have been going through some major difficulties because of the earthquake but they've also been major troupers. It seems like relief efforts have been very organized from the setting up of temporary shelters to the food supplies. Still, every aftershock sets everyone on edge.

That Japanese fellow who got kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents isn't an SDF soldier but just a traveling civilian who decided to throw common sense to the winds and traipsed into a danger zone. Several hotels rejected his request for a room and two people warned him not to enter the country but he brushed them off with the typically foolish bravado of a man in his twenties stating that he wouldn't be captured. Well, he's learned a bit of reality now. His parents held a press conference tonight begging for their son's release and apologizing for all the trouble that he has caused. I know that I'll be seen as being very cold hearted by saying this but the abductee is truly an idiot...but I won't go as far as saying that he deserves to be killed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Wednesday October 27, 11:18 a.m.

About half an hour ago, Niigata got rocked with a tremor that was just a shade weaker than the quake that hit the area during the weekend. Of course, it was felt all over the place. I was just sitting around when the apartment started to do a bit of rocking. It was a relatively weaker Shindo 3 here but Niigata was up to 6-. All of the channels are back on war footing again.

I had been thinking about hitting the gym this morning but for some reason, I just wasn't feeling up to it. Sometimes, my instinct tells me to do or not do something. And perhaps I was a winner again with this quake. To be honest, I've been feeling pretty tired for the past few days now. Not sure what's up.
Wednesday October 27, 8:25 a.m.

It had to happen. Earlier this year, three Japanese civilians had been kidnapped and threatened with gruesome immolation by Iraqi insurgents. Luckily, they were released. However, the news has now come in that an SDF officer has been taken by the Zarqawi gang, and they've had a record of beheading everyone they've taken. The strange thing, though, is that the abductee looks more like a hippee than a soldier although perhaps his long hair may have been a result of his length of stay and no barber. At this point, however, Koizumi is more afraid of the U.S. than he is of the insurgents so the abductee is at the mercy of his kidnappers.

It looks like the first snow has come into Sapporo. The place looks like a winter wonderland right now.
Tuesday October 26, 10:50 p.m.

Mission accomplished. I was able to lug the two pumpkins over to the juku despite a steady if light rain. Everyone had a great time carving Jack O'Lanterns out of them. The juku boss showed her somewhat scatterbrained side when she thought we would be having another pancake party. I set her straight. She also recruited me to come with her in mid=November to check out a potential new site for a second school all the way up in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture. Well, if it gets me out of the city once in a while...

One thing about using the new Hotmail account for e-mail. It is certainly efficient and I don't have to use the spam filter anymore but I also feel a bit "lonely" in that the responses have been few and far between. One of the M+M just told me that my reply to her request came out as "Invalid Text" so I'm wondering if the others are getting the same sort of thing and not bothering to tell me.

The death rate keeps creeping up from that Niigata quake. Currently at 31 and probably climbing...the sad thing is that a number of the deaths have been due to exhaustion.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Tuesday October 26, 2:40 p.m.

Dreary. The rain has been falling steadily. Just my luck that I have to lug two pumpkins over to the juku later today. Hopefully, there will be a little respite in the precipitation. Otherwise, it's gonna be a bit tricky taking those gourds and bobbling an umbrella. Plus, I still have the texts.

Got treated to another lunch today after my lesson with the ladies. Today, it was sushi...nice thing to be treated to.
Monday October 25, 9:00 p.m.

There must be some sort of enervation switch that automatically comes on when one turns 39. I have been feeling pretty beat over the past few days. Most of the time I've been nodding off on the subway...much to the mirth of some other riders at times. Tonight I was lucky I was reading something...something with large glossy colourful pictures (thank you, TOTAL FILM) which kept me awake although the fatigue was ever present. Maybe it's time to hit the multivitamins from here on end.

I downloaded MSN Messenger at Movie Buddy's urging. Man, am I amazed at how fast ADSL is. 30 MB downloaded in less than a minute. Back in my dialup days, 30 MB was the impossible dream; now it's just a fleeting thought. Sure enough, as soon as I had activated it, MB was ready and waiting for my log-in and we had a nice chat for 10 minutes. He said that he'll looking forward when I get that mike set up so that we can actually talk via IP phone. It does make me scratch my head, though. Why would one want to discuss stuff over IP phone when we have perfectly fine analog ones?

Then, just before I took off for work, I got a call from The Engineer. We won't be able to meet up for the group dinner on Thursday but I will be catching him for lunch in the Ginza on Friday.

After my lesson with The Class Act, I headed out to the nearby Don Quixote to pick up the remainder of my costume. Don Quixote, you ask? It happens to be a chain of discount stores...I'm not sure how the name came about although I could imagine that the founder initially thought starting a chain of cheap product stores in brand-name-crazy could have been a windmill-tilting venture. He needn't have worried. The store is doing fine. I bought a wig...right next to the row of vibrators.

I was planning to pay my rent at the nearby bank but the lineups there resembled those for Star Wars (the original ones), and then I realized that it was the 25th and therefore it was payday for most of the working public. I just headed for lunch at the TGIFridays and helped myself to a wonderful Philly Cheesesteak.

I passed by the Shibuya branch of Parcos, a major department store. Apparently, Victoris Beckham, former Spice Girl and current wife of soccer great David Beckham was due to show up some 20 minutes later. However, I decided to save myself from the close encounter. Instead, I went over to the HMV. I did pick up that TOTAL FILM magazine (and boy was I glad to pick it up, too) and was tempted to pick up a swing jazz CD compilation. It had some of the classics such as The Peter Gunn and Pink Panther themes by Henry Mancini, and "Sing, Sing, Sing", a song that is getting dangerously overplayed on movie trailers dealing with the old Jazz Age. Currently, a movie's come out dealing with local high school kids struggling to become a swing band which has renewed some interest in the old genre. Being the jazz fan, I'm happy to hear about the comeback but I think it'll probably be just a brief blip. There was a similarly short but intense flourish in ballroom dancing after "Shall We Dance?"'s release. I don't hear too much about the waltz or the rhumba right now.

Back home again. Just gotta get some prep work done for tomorrow's classes. Won't be hitting the gym, though, since I've gotta lug the two pumpkins over for the "lessons" at the juku. And I frankly don't wanna have to try to stuff two oversized gourds into the locker. Plus, I gotta get some Trick or Treat candy.

I'll be checking what's up with the earthquake situation at 10 on NHK. But I get the feeling that things are starting to stabilize a wee bit.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Monday October 25, 7:57 a.m.

Can't believe it's 2 months before Xmas.

There is a Japanese adage that describes the great four fears: earthquakes, thunderstorms, volcanoes and Dad. Well, the first one has been scaring the population of Niigata for the past few days now. I was awakened this morning by a slight tremor so I checked NHK. Sure enough, I saw scenes of a town in Niigata getting rocked by a Shindo 5 aftershock. It was very sad seeing evacuees scrambling for very limited supplies of food and water, and huddling in blankets as if they were from a third-world nation. I can't even imagine what it would be like if that Saturday quake had hit Tokyo straight on. What's worse for the prefecture is that there's heavy rain on the way which could trigger landslides.

I've got the Class Act and then my usual company class today. I'm sure the quake will make up some of the talk today. In between classes, I have to get the remainder of my costume for Thursday.

I started the ball rolling for next Sunday's next outing to catch Tom in COLLATERAL. Not quite sure what the turnout will be. Could just be Movie Buddy and Skippy.
Sunday October 24, 5:32 p.m.

Made that trip to Omotesando. I had lunch over at the crowded Kua'Aina burger joint. Not cheap...but the fare was almost worth the price (double the cost of a Big Mac set). I only say almost since although the burger was great, the fries are still pretty chintzy. The Mac fries still hold the top rung for me.

Then I got my two pumpkins at that same flower shop that the bunch of us had gone to yesterday. I was quite happy to see that those gourds were really inexpensive. The average US pumpkin at Kinokuniya costs around 3000 yen. We could get the 3 of them for the same price at the flower shop. Sure eases up on the party budget.

For some reason, my Hotmail decided to throw all of the correspondence from Shrek and The Engineer into the Junk Mail folder. I was pretty lucky to check it before it all got thrown out. The Engineer will be coming again to Japan for a wedding but it looks doubtful that I'll be able to make it out for dinner with them since I've got that Halloween party over at the school and then I have The Carolinan afterwards.