Friday, January 21, 2005

Saturday January 22, 6:30 a.m.

Again up early on a Saturday. Erggh...I hope this is just a temporary measure.

Looked at some of those Peter Gabriel videos last night. I'm not a huge fan of his but "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time" are fun songs. Actually, I enjoy more of his funkier numbers which just make up a small minority of his work. But there is "Shock The Monkey" which actually scared me a bit when I'd first caught it in the early 80s. There was also his very first video back in 1977 which therefore would probably be one of the very first music videos, period. It has a lean Gabriel stalking up a moving walkway in a fencing mask and what looks like to be a hockey player's undergarments. Uh...yeah. Well, at least, he was always trying to be innovative. The man has aged considerably since then, especially in the last 10 years. He looks more like an aging ex-motorcycle gang leader than the former frontman for Genesis when the band was much more prog-rock than Top 10 pop.

Looks like JB and I are doing a back-and-forth with the ticket deal. Well, all this indecisiveness isn't too bad right now since I don't have to pull the trigger until Monday anyways.
Friday January 21, 8:43 p.m.

Had a good day with The Teacher and SR. I got an Escher calendar from The Teacher, I guess, because I gave her the souvenirs from my Xmas trip. That'll make it 5 calendars scattered throughout the apartment. Movie Buddy might think I've got some fetish for them.

Speaking of fetishes, I may have to seriously think about applying the same strict discipline to DVD purchases that I have applied to staying from McDonalds. I had a few hours between lessons so I headed to Ginza's Yamano Music. Sure enough, I took the longest time mulling over whether to get the Peter Gabriel DVD of his videos or not. I succumbed and then to add further insult to injury, I bought "Casablanca"...hey, it was the double-disc with all of the documentaries, irresistable for an old movie buff like me.

Quite a lot of customers in the Tea Room today. The manager told me that there was some sort of event nearby and so, the folks all poured into the place. There was also a slightly larger foreigner contingent than usual...there was a couple of Americans sitting next to SR and me, and further down, there was a Spanish woman.

Back home, I just finished off the last of the spaghetti along with some store-bought salad. I've gotta get those lesson plans done for the kids tomorrow. It'll be another early day for me. Plus, I've gotta do a bit of shopping for SR to help her with her TOEIC training.

I got word from a new friend, Braces, whom I met last weekend at Speedy's launch party. She's invited me to a party that won't get under way until late next month.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Friday January 21, 8:19 a.m.

Looks like the Inauguration went off without a hitch. Tried to stay up until the big swearing-in ceremony but just got a bit too late for me. However, I've got the highlights to go over again and again.

JB has done some of her own investigating about getting those tickets. Apparently, she may be able to acquire some so I'm holding off on the payment until I hear from her about what she's been able to do. I'll just pick up the postal money order just in case. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that nothing gets screwed up.

Thursday January 20, 5:37 p.m.

Well, a few changes in my teaching schedule. Jazz Buddy asked me if I could revert her lesson down to an hour instead of the two hours. To be honest, I figured that this was coming for a while. Frankly, I don't think we had made much progress for the past number of weeks and she's been in the doldrums for a while. When I suggested that perhaps the lessons should be put on hold for a bit until she's back on her feet emotionally, I swore she looked slightly teary-eyed. Apparently, she would still like to see me but she just can't afford 2 hours at the moment. Well, I'd also say that the 2 hours were just not very purposeful at all and perhaps tightening the time would actually help her cause some more. In any case, I started this new austere regime by lending her some TOEIC materials since she'd professed some problems with the reading comprehension section of that test and then we did some sample problems. Hopefully, this will rectify matters somewhat.

Afterwards, I went over to Speedy's school. Looks like I'll be starting my new stint there from next Thursday afternoon. At this early time, I'll most likely be helping in making lesson plans since the real onslaught of students probably won't be felt until the Spring. Good enough for me...producing materials and getting paid for them.

After the above two experiences, I'm now thinking seriously about how this entire freelance thing has gone over the past couple of years. I've had some pretty successful stints with the OL, SR and The Hawaiian. However, I've also had some disappointments with Arwen/77, The Stylist and now Jazz Buddy. And frankly, I kinda wonder how effective teaching The Beauty Pair, The Company and the kids have really been. I'm kinda wondering now if I should just get myself more involved with the new school and ditch some of the freelancing. I mean, my record is pretty par for the course....I know that I can't please everyone even amongst my friends but that fact plus the tax and immigration angles are making me reconsider things.

In the meantime, JB and I's plan to catch Diana Krall are slowly coming to fruition. However, I'm less than impressed with this online reservation system. Hotmail doesn't seem to be an acceptable address to make reservations so I had to call the ticket agency directly. I think I've got things OK with this postal transfer business. Unfortunately, the Friday show is all sold out but I did manage to get tickets for the Thursday night show. Up in the balcomy, but it's the best I can do. But, hey, maybe it's a blessing in disguise...Thursday night isn't the supremely crowded time that Friday is. We could probably get some dinner beforehand pretty easily.

The crimes are just getting a bit nuts here. After police had caught that sociopath in Nara for killing a 9-year-old girl last November, I just heard about some new nutso that attacked a kid within his elementary school today. Thankfully, the vice-principal managed to manhandle him down. Back in Toronto, the big crime problem there has been teen violence. Over here, it's pedophilic maniacs. It's all bad.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Wednesday January 19, 10:59 p.m.

Had my second outing at the gym in as many days. Luckily, I'm back on the reducing streak. Mind you, the next time I head out there again is next Tuesday.

My regular stints with The Hawaiian and the OL were fine as usual. The OL asked me about heading out on the afternoon of the 29th with Boop for that delayed dinner at the dumpling place in Daimon. Since I've got the kids then, that doesn't sound too likely but I did suggest either the evening or the next day. I'm waiting for the counter-counter proposal.

The Carolinan asked me about teaching her sister on the alternate Thursdays. Hmmmm...that'll depend on what happens tomorrow with Speedy and his school. The mother of the kids then sent me e-mail asking me to do the early class again with the girls. I have the impression that the early shift will become a permanent one.

One of my old students has sent me mail inviting me for a drink with some of her old mates on Saturday in Shinagawa. Always nice to be remembered so I'll be heading for that.

I finally got that reply from Jazz Buddy about Diana Krall. Kinda wish she could be a bit faster on the keyboard about replies. In any case, the tickets for the March concert had gone on sale all the way back in late November so I'm not sure if there are any good seats left but the fact that I haven't seen any SOLD OUT signs is promising. Perhaps, we may be able to nail things down tomorrow morning when I have my regular lesson with her.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tuesday January 18, 11:01 p.m.

Had a rude awakening on the scale at the gym this afternoon. Found out that I actually gained another kilo which made me heavier than what I had been when I first started out there. Well, I gather I had to pay for the weekend's debauchery. In any case, I punished myself with an "original" session on the bike which involved a computer-randomized simulation of a hilly course. That was enough to shed some grams but I'm gonna have to hit the gym tomorrow as well AND cut down on the calories.

It didn't help that earlier in the day that The Beehive all brought goodies to the table including that bottle of wine that I'd gotten from The Class Act back in December. I made one try at The Beehive Xmas party to open up the bottle but ended up just boring some cork bits out. So, one of the ladies brought it over for a second try. Luckily, one of her mates could finally get the cork out of the bottle. And the rest of the class brought cheese, crackers, marinated tuna and Godiva chocolates. Talk about your spread. The wine certainly livened up the party...everyone got rather giggly. One lady was loose enough to rag on her husband for some malfeasance. All this was happening while they were attempting to try out a high school test in English just for kicks. I can only imagine what the kids at those university entrance exams would've done with a few good bottles of Beaujolais.

The night at the juku was a pleasant one. I got there more an hour before first class after the workout at the gym. Unfortunately, I'd left my crosswords at home so I was left staring at the walls for much of that time. However, the classes went off without a hitch. I passed a calendar to one of The Beauty Pair to relay over to Mr. Eccentric. Recently, he seems to have gotten on the girls' nerves for being a bit too nice.

Had my usual chat/lesson with the boss. She had one of her pie-in-the-sky ideas. First, it was finding that site for a second school (not sure what's happening with that if at all). Today, she was wondering aloud about purchasing a house in Canada for use as a rental to Japanese tourists. Brought her back down to Earth at least temporarily when I told her about all the paperwork and money involved in the potential transaction.

I noticed that the second season of CSI actually is showing on TV Tokyo. Well, I guess it did make some sort of impact. Too bad that it's being shown during the noon hour which means that only housewives and freelance English teachers will catch it.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Monday January 17, 10:51 p.m.

Thank the heavens for online translation services. Had to crack the last couple of lines on the application for the income tax return before completely filling it out. Even so, it's a bit of a shot in the dark. Even the accounting half of The Class Act couldn't figure it out off the top of her head. Still, she reassured me that a friend of her son's will be able to help me out since he's an accountant with several yaers of residency in Canada. That's a big shot in the arm.

Picked up a couple of CDs at Tower. One was the latest Diana Krall CD, "The Girl In The Other Room". I was a bit iffy about it before purchasing it since the songs were mostly compositions by her and new hubby, Elvis Costello, so I wasn't sure if they would really be in the jazz vein. Needn't have worried. It's a very relaxing album to listen to...and it's still very much in the piano jazz vein of Bill Evans. Now, I WILL try and grab a ticket for that concert in March.

The other CD was also a jazzy one albeit the source material is vastly different. It just happens to be the soundtrack to "The Incredibles", an homage of sorts to the spy-and-adventure swing stuff of the 50s and 60s.

I was crossing the street in Shinjuku on the way to The Company when there was a rather interesting re-encounter. You may have recalled a few months ago when I reported on a rather intriguing woman on a bike who seemed to be venting at some crows calling them "Idiots" in Japanese. Well, it looks like she was back again on her bike but this time, she was aiming her venom toward other members of the animal kingdom, notably we human pedestrians. Her vitriol now included the word "Crazy". Sad to go insane in this city. However, anyone in the Tokyo area who reads this is now well informed. And I'll refer to her from now on as the Psycho Woman.

Sent off a courtesy e-mail to a few people that I met on Saturday at Speedy's launch party. They seem to be pretty nice folk who've been to Toronto so I wanted to see if I could make some friends out of them.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Monday January 17, 7:33 a.m.

While much of the world, including Japan and Hollywood, has been rallying to help out the victims of the tsunami, another solemn moment is currently being commemorated here. It's been 10 years to the day that The Great Hanshin Earthquake ravaged Kobe and the surrounding area. Citizens there amassed at a special plaza early in the morning, and at 5:46 a.m. (the time that the tremor hit), a minute of silence was observed. Over the decade, the city has repaired and rebuilt itself; however, Kobe has 5000 gaps where people used to stand. NHK has been covering the anniversary extensively but I'm sure that the commercial stations will be providing their own special coverage over the day.

Apparently, there was a more lighthearted festival up in the Japanese Alps recently. Called Mukonage (Throw Into The Beyond), it involves citizens coming to the area from all over the country to see locals throw deserving (I guess that's supposed to be in a good way) folks down a snow-covered slope. The slope is fairly steep but not to the extent to cause any major injury. I have no idea as to the significance for the ritual but considering that the one guy I saw on TV was a recent groom, I guess it would be for luck....and possible winfalls for the local hospital.

Colin Farrell and Oliver Stone have come over to plug their critical flop, ALEXANDER. Farrell came over with a hairstyle best described as not having been washed in a week tied in a ponytail. Later that night, he was decked out in a proper suit instead of his backpacker duds; the hairstyle remained. He didn't seem too impressed with the original cocktail made for the occasion. Not enough beer, I imagine.

It's actually gonna be warmer and sunnier today. The sun has actually started to beam through my window so there's hope. I meet The Class Act, SIL and the Company for the first time since I got back. Once again, the souvenirs are coming out.

Sunday January 16, 11:37 p.m.

Glad I didn't go out too far today. Just getting to the supermarket and back was a struggle with the wind and rain. We may get some respite tomorrow since the forecast calls for some sun while the Tohoku area gets nailed with a snowstorm.

On a cold day like today, minestrone was the dish to be made along with some homemade hamburgers. The minestrone is always a no-miss in quality, but the hamburgers turned out a bit pale and raw in certain areas, so I had to re-fry those.

Watched "Spiderman 2" on DVD tonight. A good addition to any collection.