Saturday, November 20, 2004

Saturday November 20, 5:09 p.m.

The lessons with the girls went OK. Even the older girl was more on the ball. Decided to get a bit fancy with dinner tonight. I'm making my famous Sweet N' Sour Chicken for the first time in several months. May even take a look through those tapes of US TV although I'm not particularly all that interested in them outside of The Simpsons.

Will have to turn in a bit early since I've got that "business" trip up north to Chichibu, Saitama with the juku boss.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Friday November 19, 7:50 p.m.

The allergies were bothering today so I picked up some medicine along the way. Still, I had to reach for the Kleenex discreetly several times during The Teacher's class. And frankly, they never truly went away, probably due to the clammy weather.

I was able to pick up those books that Shard's wife had asked for. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. There was a distinct section at Maruzen for beadwork.

Ended up talking with SR for three hours today on such cheerful topics as the next terrorist attack and the inevitable Great Tokyo Earthquake. The Tea Room was uncharacteristically hopping today due to some sort of event nearby, but by the end of our chat, it was back to just us two.

The coordinator sent me a message asking if I could teach next Thursday. That day would probably be better for me, content-wise, since it's just a regular conversation class. However, I do have Jazz Buddy until 1:30 so that's impossible. I assume I still have the Friday assignment which is Speech class. Unforunately the topic is the wonderful world of Capital Punishment. I can only shudder if I have to take care of the lowest class.

Well, dunno if it's raining tomorrow too but I've got the kids in the morning. I'll have the elder sister for the first time in a month so I can only imagine what Miss Sullen will be like.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Thursday November 18, 9:38 p.m.

Well, Jazz Buddy was better today. I used another source of material which seemed to have worked better. I also found out that my e-mail just isn't getting through to her cellphone so I can only rely on phone or when I meet her. Then, I suggested to her that our last meeting before my vacation could be held at a deli in the Park Hyatt.

I kinda followed a hunch and went back to the school to have lunch. I was just wondering if the Coordinator had even relayed my proposal for a trip over to the Gyoza Museum tonight. Sure enough, she didn't say anything but my visit did give me the chance to start the ball rolling for that visit. It'll just be put to the 2nd instead. Looks I may have a couple of goers. I also heard from the coordinator that a newbie teacher had a major shouting match with one of the higher students due to some misinterpreted slight. Needless to say, he is no longer teaching the kids. Mind you, I think I was probably the same way when I first started teaching. At the same time, it was nice to see the kids and teachers such as Movie Buddy, The Jester, The DJ and The Veteran.

I did make it to the gym today. I even upped the weight for my machine training so I'm sure that I'll be in even more pain tomorrow. I'll have to let The Teacher know that I won't be able to teach her next week since I may be filling in at the school then.

The top story on the news today was the murder of a young girl by a sociopath-at-large. The nut even sent a message to the dead girl's mother via the girl's own cellphone stating that he had her. Hope the police hunt him down like a rabid fox.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Wednesday November 17, 8:11 p.m.

Well, in a feeble restaurant critic's attempt to be punny, LAST wasn't quite first. I got there around 11:30 just when it opened. It's a much smaller place than the Farm Grill and the variety and amounts of dishes were appropriately similar. The owners are gonna to have work a bit on their selection. The usual buffet favorites were out there such as Spaghetti Pepperoncino and Rice Curry, stuff that will fill you up fast and make you want to get that extra drink. However, the Chinese soup was laughingly just chicken consomme with green specks, and the fried chicken tasted fried but that's about it. Still, for a thousand yen, it was OK but I could imagine the food critics fainting in disgust. The decor was all in American Diner and the music was country and 70s music. Yup, definitely Californian. I'll probably tell Movie Buddy about it but I won't plan a group outing around it.

I met The Hawaiian and her aunt today. At first, I was a bit apprehensive when the Aunt came off as a bit quite and immediately leaned on her niece for translation but once she got more used to me, I realized that she's quite the enthusiast for English. Her listening was surprisingly high but her responses lacked any sort of proper syntax so I do have my work cut out for me. Still, she'd be a welcome asset at the school. The Hawaiian is starting to get a bit itchy about heading over to Oz for a few months at least next year, so I'll probably lose her again pretty soon. Still, I can't really teach her much since she's so high a student.

When I got back to the neighbourhood, I shopped for a fresh supply of undergarments since some of the stuff I have now is starting to resemble some of Brando's wardrobe in "A Streetcar Named Desire". Plus, I got a stack of cheap audio rare as they are now in this age of prep that pronounciation exercise for Jazz Buddy. Man, I wonder if I'm gonna have another round of psychoanalysis with her tomorrow.

And I actually picked a little something for dinner tonight despite my lunch at the buffet. But in fact, I didn't really eat all that much.

The top story on NHK News tonight was the various scenarios about if a Shindo 7 earthquake were to hit Tokyo straight on. The way it looked, I'm pretty much dead in my neighbourhood. I just hope that I'm not anywhere in the metropolis at all when it hits. Let's say that it doesn't bode well for the 12 million there.

Since it doesn't look like I'll be getting any takers for this immimently-to-be-aborted trip to the food cities in Ikebukuro tomorrow, I'll probably load up on lunch after JB before hitting the gym again. It's a step in the right direction anyways...loading up on gyoza and ice cream or loading up on the exercise.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wednesday November 17, 8:53 a.m.

I think I am pretty achy this morning which has got me started in a bad mood. I got a bit snippy with The Hawaiian when she sent me a letter stating that there was a bit of confusion over today's meeting time. In retrospect, the language was pretty mild so I don't think she'll take offense but still, I know the intent was there on my part, so I still sent a second missive apologizing.

Well, I'm achy. So no trip to the gym today. Instead, I'll follow the Devil today and try out LAST for lunch just before heading out to see The Hawaiian and her aunt. I hope they have some very strong coffee there.

Plus, Shard gave me a request to find a book for his wife. Should be easy enough to do.

CNN has started showing teasers for Bill Hemmer coming over here to do his American Morning show next month. Interesting timing...I'll be leaving for home the same week.
Wednesday November 17, 12:01 a.m.

Had my lunch at the kaiten sushi today. There still wasn't too much running on the conveyor belt so I did order some of the stuff from the chef. I had my first workout at the gym for the first time in 8 days. Surprisingly, I was half a kilogram down from what I posted last time. I'm thinking about whether to go there tomorrow morning before I meet up with The Hawaiian. It'll depend on how achy I feel when I wake up. I've got a new student in the form of the Hawaiian's aunt so I'll have to be on my best behaviour.

Had quite a few letters in the inbox tonight. Had my usual long "chat" with Shard over the minutiae of popular culture. Always enjoy that.

The classes at the juku went well. The Beauty Pair came back after convalescing from their cold last week. I even got a present from Mr. Eccentric via them. They'll be heading off for Las Vegas from this weekend so they're pretty pumped about hitting the slots. Just hope that the slots don't pump them out of too much money. My boss was OK if a bit more scatterbrained than usual.

Listened to that Tom Jones CD. Yup, it was pretty good but I can't help but feel that he brings a certain sameness to everything he does, no matter all the accolades that have been written up about him in the liner notes. Then again, I've yet to hear all the tracks. It's also unbelievable that I can remember seeing his old ABC show when I was a mere baby back in the 60s.

The Hawaiian has taken up my invitation to catch The Incredibles on the 5th. So that's probably a 6th member now.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Monday November 15, 9:52 p.m.

Ready to kill my computer right now. Crashed 3 times last night and it did the same thing tonight. Not only that, but it managed to somehow screw up everything with my resume so spent the last 20 minutes fixing that.

Looks like I'm officially in charge of this party for DTE. She made my job easy and hard for me simultaneously when she told me that she had no preferences for restaurant. Well, I can always check out that LAST place in Shiodome although some of the group may ask why I'm picking out a distinctly American place for an American's goodbye dinner. Well, I figure that I can just always go DOMA DOMA, that upscale izakaya chain. Problem is that those places always require a set dinner for large numbers. In a way, I hope we don't make it too big although at this point, it looks like it'll be DTE, myself, MB, Skippy and Arwen. JB has yet to respond but she never does which irks me.

The rain came down pretty heavily this morning but by the afternoon, there was some sun filtering through. It amazes me that just a couple of months ago, we had been going through the Summer of Hell. Today, I wrapped myself up in my jacket and scarf. Tomorrow, blizzard? During the break between lessons, I hit HMV for three CDs. I couldn't find anything in the jazz category. But I did buy, believe it or not, the Best of Tom Jones. Well, I bought it for two tracks being that collaborative cover of Prince's KISS (is he still going by that sign?) with The Art of Noise.

The other two were J-Pop. One is an interesting choice for me: a rap/pop/R&B song by a female duo called Bennie K. The single is known as Sunrise, which sounds something that the B-52s would sing. It's very catchy in a ROAM type of way. The girls themselves have taken on the mantle of J-Pop hit female duo which has been worn by pairs like Pink Lady and Wink. The two girls, though, like a mix of Stepford Wives and Shibuya gals. And my final purchase was the second single of new band Tokyo Jihen with formerly solo Shiina Ringo as the lead singer.

My lesson at The Company was pretty smooth. I just had the one best student of the class, and not surprisingly, he managed to catch up from his absence last week. In fact, he even exceeded his fellows by a page or so.

Well, I'm a month away from heading back home so I gather that it's time to throw on the Xmas music. Yee-hah!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Monday November 15, 7:52 a.m.

Gonna need an umbrella for most of the day. Drag. Kinda feel considerably older than 39 right now. Bring on the Geritol and Metamucil. I'm sending off the video of Japanaese TV shows and Seirogan. What's Seirogan? It's the local equivalent of the worst-smelling medicine you can think of...but it works. I think there was a cough syrup that had the same boast.

Last night, I caught a movie on Pay called Flowers and Snakes. Lest one assumes that it's a nature movie, it is an S&M flick. Now, let me say right from the start, I'm not a purveyor of whips-and-cream cinema. However, what got me to watch this was that it had been released last year to rather lurid fanfare in the magazines and talk shows. Not that S&M is a new deviant activity in the porn industry; I'd say that it's had much of a place in the underground as it's had in American porn. No, the reason that Flower and Snakes garnered such "acclaim" is the lead star/victim (I think I may have mentioned about this very briefly in an entry last year...not that I expect you to remember). Aya Sugimoto started out as a sports car model and then came out with a few songs on CD (virtually anyone who becomes a regular on TV here apparently has a clause in his/her contract that demands an attempt at singing despite the obvious lack of talent) with frequent appearances on variety shows. In other words, she was the run-of-the-millTV personality, albeit a gorgeous one. But somewhere down the line she got married, disappeared for several years, before popping out again after a divorce.

So it was with some shock and titillation that she came out with some nude pictorials and then this S&M flick. Think of Vanna White turning on a spit instead of turning letters herself, and that was the feeling going around here in its initial release. Mind you, the shock was tempered by the fact that Sugimoto has always had that Amazonian sex appeal so most people weren't downright scandalized in a way that they could have been if someone like, say, veteran pop idol Seiko Matsuda had starred in it. Still, the shock came from how far Sugimoto was willing to go to play the victim. Basically nothing was left to the imagination although certain "key" scenes were obviously simulated and of course, her private parts were pixillated as is the law in Japan.

According to some of the Net reports from the ordinary people that had seen it, they were frankly left cold by the experience. Nothing particularly arousing about it aside from the fact that a famous celeb was willing to be strung up. In fact, to me, it seemed like that the entire enterprise was a summer stock-like beginner's exercise in S&M film for trendy drama actors. Along with Sugimoto, there was a former idol singer playing her husband and an actor playing a very dirty, very old man (I swore it's the same actor who plays the lovably tetchy boss in those iced coffee commercials). Well, I can actually say that I saw it and for a good deal less than if I'd seen it at the theaters or paid the money for the DVD. As for Sugimoto, she can be seen occasionally on a celeb cooking show. I gather that she knows her way around pointed utensils...

Well, off to work I go...
Sunday November 14, 5:20 p.m.

Just came back from dinner. Thought I was going to tuck myself into some sushi. But as it turned out, there was hardly anyone in the place and the conveyor belt had very little of the stuff rotating. Since I don't particularly enjoy having to order dishes up every minute, I gave the restaurant a pass and did some window shopping of sorts before I settled on that new ramen restaurant just down the mall. I had a bowl of ramen loaded for bear with BBQ pork, garlic and miso. I also threw in an extra 200 yen for some garlic rice which had enough power to knock down a T-Rex. My pullover definitely smelled like I had a ton of garlic. That's why Febreeze is such a hit in Japan.

Earlier in the day, MB got back to me via chat. It looks like he and his girlfriend enjoyed themselves at Phantom last night.

Luckily, it didn't rain today although things were kept pretty overcast and cool.