Friday, March 04, 2005

Saturday March 5, 1:47 p.m.

Well, met up with MK and my latest student, JJ at the Starbucks. MK was her usual super giddy self. I'll definitely have to move to a warmer table though. The angles and the windflow weren't too conducive to a comfortable lesson for her. As for JJ, she's much more adept at the English language but she seems to have inherited MK's giddiness. Should be fine by next week, though. Looks like I'll have some shopping to do, tomorrow, for perhaps more materials. Certainly, I'll be putting those JCB gift certificates to use. Durable socks is one idea.

I got an e-mail from The Barmaiden. She wants to have that visit to Tony Roma's on St. Patrick's Day. Not the most convenient of days to go for me since I've got MK that night and I don't think I really should cancel on her. However, I'm sure some sort of deal can be made up.

How about that Martha Stewart? Talk about a cat who can land on her feet. Not only did she make bosom buddies in jail but her stock is twice as valuable now. That would piss off her prosecutors more than if she'd sent them a cake filled with horsebleep.

Ah, well. I gotta get some household stuff out of the way.
Saturday March 5, 7:26 a.m.

Overcast day. What else is new? I'll be heading out to see MK and then her reportedly more fluent friend for her initial lesson...well, level check, actually. I'll probably be making the sweet n' sour today since I still have the fryer of oil from the last batch that I'd like to use before final discarding. I'll tell you the Japanese really hit the target when they come up with that coagulant to get rid of that oil with no muss, no fuss.

Apparently, somehow, the e-Trekkies have been able to find out that Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis of The Previous-Previous-Previous Generation will be making an appearance in the final episode of "Enterprise". There's been no mention of it anywhere on the official site for Star Trek but the guys at Dark Horizon have confirmed that the two actors have signed the contract. The rumour also has it that Commander Riker and Counselor Troi will be watching an old holo-program of the S.S. Enterprise from the Enterprise-D. I'm a bit iffy about that part since I think the two of them are a bit too long in the tooth to convincingly play their Enterprise-D selves. If anything, I'd more likely see then on the USS Titan, Riker's first command. In any case, it certainly seems that Paramount has definitely pulled the plug on this franchise, with all due respect to those Trekkies fighting for its survival. Considering the finality of the title of the season-ender, "These Are The Voyages..." and the appearance of the TNG folks, it would look rather disjointed, to say the least, if the series were revived. Just look at what happend with Babylon 5 when they got their last minute reprieve from cancellation. That sudden 5th season has been widely reviled.

I did get some words of encouragement from Jazz Buddy about the somewhat lackadaiscal lesson on Thursday. Still doesn't change anything from my rant the other night.
Friday March 4, 11:06 p.m.

Enjoyed a nice quiet evening. The snow's now a memory. If the rest of Japan wants to laugh at us Kantoites, they'll have to wait another day. Looks like the rest of the country is gonna get smacked by a snowstorm tomorrow.

Used the remaining taco mix powder with some ground beef to not make taco rice (no cabbage, no cheese) but to produce a kind of soboro, a Japanese mix of rice and ground meat. I threw in some diced onions for extra heft. Not too bad at all.

Looked at some old Japanese TV from a time when I couldn't get enough of the stuff. It was a repeat of an old Kato & Ken comedy-variety special. From the hairstyles, fashion, music and guests, it must have come from the late 80s. There were a few faces who are still on the tube who looked positively babyish on the show. Rather nice to watch some of the old stuff.

Just got through a chat with Movie Buddy. Looks like The Sylph's birthday is on the weekend so he's got some nice surprises for her in store.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Friday March 4, 1:51 p.m.

The snow is slowly tapering off, an hour or two behind schedule but we were duly informed of this change in plans on one of the wide shows this morning. The announcer also noted that we may be in for some more of this dumping over the next few days. The Teacher was fine as always; JR didn't inconvenience her a bit.

I'm rather glad that I turned down PH's invitation tonight considering the slush outside. My running shoes couldn't keep my feet from getting soaked so what chance do my dress shoes have? Now I wonder what MK's situation will be like tomorrow morning.

My ex accepted my apology cheerfully. I sometimes wish she wouldn't be so noble.

Well, I've got stuff to do. Gotta get "December" done which should be quite easy since I was only here for half of it last year before taking off for The Great White North. Then, I gotta plan for MK's lesson and think about her friend. That's about it...thankfully. I don't have to worry about the kids. At least I won't have to trudge all the way out to their neck of the woods this weekend. It'll just be one short hop to Kiba and back.
Friday March 4, 8:06 a.m.

Kinda hard to believe that I'm writing this at this time of year, but there's a good ton of snow falling down over our heads right now. Roused out of REM sleep around 4:30 so I just looked out the window; it didn't look white out there so I thought it was another screwup by the Weather Office. However, when I truly got up a few hours later, we had a Winter Wonderland. My subway seems to be in working order so I don't think I'll have any problems meeting The Teacher although she has to take an oft-problematic JR so she may have to leave a bit earlier than usual. We'll probably only get 2 or 3 cm in the immediate vicinity which will probably have the residents in the Tohoku sneering, "WIMPS!" at us. Of course, I'm also quite accustomed to a far larger accumulation where I come from.

My mood hasn't particularly improved since my last tirade, but I think I owe my ex an apology. She didn't choose the night for our lessons, I did, since there was no other night to teach her. On the other end of the romance spectrum, I read Movie Buddy's latest blog entry. Looks like The Sylph had an even bigger surprise for his birthday last week. Not only did she pull off the surprise b-day party but last Saturday she even dragged him suddenly to Haneda Airport for a trip to Kumamoto, a place that he had always wanted to go to, for a weekend trip. As the title of his entry states, "She rocks". I gave him my congratulations.

Well, how the mighty have fallen. Looks like there was an even bigger loser than me yesterday. Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, once noted as one of the richest men on the Earth before Bill Gates wiped out the competition and the head of the once mighty Kokudo conglomerate, got his comeuppance in the form of an arrest warrant for insider trading and irregularities in his stock reporting. He controlled various entities such as the Prince Hotel chain and the baseball team, Seibu Lions. Well, the usual media scrum was there to cover the long line of sober-suited tax guys and police as they marched into his house and picked up boxes of data and most likely, the man himself. This news was competing head to head with the big snow.

I would be watching Lou on CNN right now but my satellite seems to be even more delicate than the JR when a good snow comes down so I'll just settle for finishing off my breakfast.
Thursday March 3, 9:04 p.m.

Was passing through the supermarket when I heard the usual kiddies' songs saluting Hina Matsuri. And just on the eve of a potential snowstorm. Well, I made my contribution to the holiday by buying a couple of cakes with the seal of the festival on it. It's about the closest that I'll ever come to paying tribute to young folk.

I had what I would call a complicated, irrational day. I met Jazz Buddy and went over to the New York Muffin Cafe. It looks like that'll become our new base of operations. Anyways, during our usual talk, she divulged that earlier in the week she and a whole bunch of other students including Skippy and Jazz Veteran had met up for dinner. For some reason, that threw me for a loop...the fact that a bunch of alumni would get together without any teachers...notably me. Yes, it does sound amazingly arrogant of me. I mean, why shouldn't they get together without any of the other teachers. They probably must feel a whole lot more comfortable not needing to speak in English. Still, I was...hurt. It must have shown since JB at the end said that I didn't look or act like my usual pro self; in fact, she stung me a second time by saying that I looked more like her...half-asleep and slightly pale. Well, I managed to mumble a apology before slinking away in a rather foul mood. I sent a more profuse apology by e-mail to her.

The whole ugly internalized affair got me thinking, though. For all of the seeming camraderie amongst myself and the students, I think now that I've put too much stock in our so-called "friendship". I'm not really their friend; I'm their former teacher. Just a walking resource for their second-language hobby. They can't fully relax in front of me and I know I can't let my hair down fully in front of them. That's not a friendship. Perhaps the head teacher of the ol' school who has never shown up for a grad party as far as I've been there may be right after all in not showing up. Well, I know what I have to do now.

To no surprise, my ex cancelled her lesson with me tomorrow for the second time. Frankly, I think she and I are wasting each other's time. Friday night is party night for which she loves. I just told her what I thought and wished her well with her life. End of story.

To add a bit of sweet to my bitter, that other delivery which I'd thought was another package for The Anime King turned out to be gift certificates for all of the big department stores from my new Internet provider. Very nice of them...just don't know what I'm gonna buy.

Back to bitter. As I said, I'm probably making my slow inexorable march toward Curmudgeonville. Y'know, I get all worked up about not getting invited to some stupid student dinner and yet, I've turned down two invitations to PH and Speedy's parties over the next couple of nights. I swear, I think I am twisting into the Dark Side. I only hope noone acquainted ever finds this blog. Just so embittered with life right now!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Thursday March 3, 7:36 a.m.

I was ready for some snow but the forecasters are saying 3 DAYS OF IT?! What the--? Apparently, even downtown Tokyo is supposed to be getting some good accumulation of the white stuff from tonight. But then again, we've been tricked before by the Weather Office so I won't believe it til I see it after 9 tonight.

I've got almost my usual Thursday lineup. I've got Jazz Buddy in the morning, and then I help out Speedy for a few hours at his school. But I don't have MK tonight so I can avoid the worst of the rush hour.
Wednesday March 2, 9:40 p.m.

Managed to finish off the latest tape of "Enterprise" in one day..probably the first time I was able to do that in all these years of The Entrepreneur sending me Trek tapes. Well, if the series is indeed being cancelled, it's sure trying to go out with a bang. The last episode on the tape: Trip jumping ship to Columbia, Reed possibly being one of the first agents for Section 31 and I finally find out what was behind the ridgeless Klingons of the Classic Trek.

In between eps, I managed to head for the gym and got my workout in so at least if I don't go anytime again this week, at least I got it in once. Still have a gut the size of a small house, though.

I was invited to a couple of things. First, the school coordinator told me about the welcome party for the new kids on the block next month. Well, if I'm not gonna be teaching there anymore why should she want me to come? However, I held my tongue. Then, Speedy asked me about celebrating the end of the model lesson season over at his school on Saturday. Well, don't really feel much like celebrating this weekend and since MK and her buddy will be meeting me on Saturday not too far away from home, I declined his kind invitation. Yup, a few more years...and my conversion to the Dark Curmudgeon Side should be complete.

Well, it might actually snow later tomorrow which case, it will be copying one year ago almost to the letter. So, I wonder if we're gonna get a repeat of that horrible summer heat. Feeling a bit tired; I'll hit the hay in another hour.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wednesday March 2, 10:30 a.m.

Took an initial trip down memory blog lane just now to see if it'd been pretty cold a year ago considering this winter's relative freeze. Sure enough, my posting for that week revealed that, yes, things were plenty frosty, and in fact, there had been a bit of snow later on in the week. Little did we know that we were to face the Summer of Hell. I can scarcely believe that it was also a week ago this week that the Beehive and I made that trip to the Edo Museum in Ryogoku.

I was replying to the Entrepreneur that I feel almost giddy that I have noone, nowhere and nothing to teach today. It's been a long time since I scored that triple... I think since I got back from Canada. The first of two packages got delivered a few minutes ago; it was the suitcase carrying my hotplate from the Pancake Day festivities of last month. I still have to wait for one more delivery...I assume it's another purchase from the Anime King. Once that's done, I guess I can get ready for an outing at the gym. Hopefully, I can get some other stuff done like doing another month of bookkeeping beforehand. I was able to catch the first couple of eps of "Enterprise" from the latest tape from The Entrepreneur. "Daedalus" struck me as being a bit overdramatic but then again William Shatner made a point of being so in several episodes of the original. The next episode had a nice gotcha ending which made me go, "Oh, ho!" And it was nice to see the underused, luscious Hoshi Sato show that she's not the quiet goody-goody.

Got a memo from the mother of the two kids. Looks like the 12th will also be a scratch due to school matters. So I actually won't be seeing them until the latter half of the month.
Tuesday March 1, 11:28 p.m.

Well, it's been a quietly eventful day. After finishing off another couple of days' worth of bookkeeping, I received a message from one of the juku boss' friends who suddenly asked me to teach her son. Hmph..I first thought that I'm gonna have to inform the boss that she ought to be checking with me first to see before having her give out my phone number. But my usual initial annoyance gave way to my more reasonable side and thought that, well, I can probably teach him in the hour before I start my regular classes at the juku.

I got to the juku a couple of hours later. As soon as I made my first steps to head upstairs to my classroom, I heard the usual frantic cries of greeting from the boss. Hmm...I know what this is all about, I thought. However, I had a further surprise in store for me when the boss breathlessly told me that the son was already in the room and that I would be doing a quick model lesson for him right then and now. Oh, grand....I internally sighed. For the nearly two years that I've been teaching at the juku, I've always enjoyed the casual atmosphere. However, I think there has to be a certain amount of protocol when it comes to giving a model lesson to a prospective client.

The kid was the usual teenage Japanese boy. Shaved head, gawky and shy as all get out. He was also half-Italian. Not that that was surprising; I've met my fair share of students of mixed parentage including last year's Biologist. One reason that I've never been too fond of teaching kids is not just having to deal with a being that's undergoing major emotional roller-coasters as a rite of passage but also because I tend to OVERestimate the teen's knowledge of the world. I'm so accustomed to teaching complete human beings. Well, I did throw a few curve balls at him unintentionally to which he just gave me a blank look or a mumbled "I dunno". Actually, his comprehension was pretty good and I get the impression that his knowledge of grammar was also fairly solid, but as is true with almost all kids (I've had a few exceptional gabbers in my career), he doesn't have a whole lot of fluency. Well, I gave him a 15-minute tryout; I didn't have anything planned for him and since I had this literally thrusted upon me, I didn't feel any particular obligation to give him the full treatment since I need to actually PLAN a lesson before I give one.

The aftermath of this all came about after my regular classes when the boss called up the kid's mother and had me talk with her. HER English was a far sight better than the boss' so it was easy to talk with her about what her son needs (not particularly wants, since I didn't detect any great desire on his part). Both she and the boss stated that the kid actually liked me (huh?). Well, I guess he had better since he's gonna have to come out 40 minutes by train over here. In any case, if the son is OK with it, I'll be starting with him next Tuesday from 6. Interesting turn of events...I'll be having my juku classes bookended by a couple of teen boys. I wonder if I'm gonna survive this year.

Speaking of the different atmospheres at the juku and at my old school, I ended up talking with the boss about the kid and then we got into some other stuff. Before we realized it, the time was 10:50. Of course, the boss had a major epileptic fit and apologized profusely. She even insisted that I get paid for that hour. Now that's a revelation. It was usually the custom for all teachers at the old school to check their monthly pay schedule to see that they weren't being shafted by the accountant, and the jerks there wouldn't pay for us to write student reports on our own time without resorting to some major yelling from us (luckily, the staff were remarkably resilient when we did confront them). And here was this lady running this tiny juku on a far smaller budget willing to pay for an hour that I didn't teach and just spent listening to her. Something is both right and not right about this situation.

Got home tonight to find out that not only do I not have the OL tomorrow but the Hawaiian as well. She just sent an e-mail over to me stating that she's gotten the cold again so she's gonna bail out. Well, at least I save myself the train money if lose the pay. And I guess I can actually watch my tape of Star Trek episodes that The Entrepreneur has sent me. I can even do the gym now. Still, it won't prevent me from waking up earlier since I've got a couple of packages being delivered my way in the morning.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Tuesday March 1, 2:15 p.m.

I was just about to write down "February"...but understandable under the circumstances. It's still plenty wintry here in the Kanto. In fact, we may still get some snow later this week. Not quite sure what this will mean for the summer. Perhaps hay fever season may be shunted further down the Spring.

Had my first session with the Beehive for a couple of weeks. Ms. Travel was the first one there as usual; she'd just come back from an epic trip to Macchu Picchu in Peru. She was looking quite Peruvian in her fashion. She was sporting an alpaca cardigan with some accessories which had the shape of some of those Nazca etchings. She went by Air Canada since it is the only airline which could pull off the most direct flight from Narita to Lima via Toronto. There, she was able to bring back some icewine and icewine-filled bonbons. The sweetness was so high that there was no chance of the breakdown in decorum that we'd had back in early January

Afterwards, the ladies took me out for lunch for the first time this year. It was one of the domestic restaurants in the soon-to-be-shut-down Daiei department store. Very good stuff there for a reasonable price but then again, I wasn't paying.

Now that I'm back, it's time to get back to bookkeeping and then prep for tonight's lessons. No gym today. However, I hope to get something in tomorrow sometime.
Monday February 28, 11:36 p.m.

I'm going through a little lull right now checking e-mail and doing my usual blog entry. However, I'm racing through stuff. I did a bit of looking at tomorrow's lesson plans, wrapped the Anime King's latest delivery, and even ironed the pile of wrinkled clothing. I've still got to hit the bookkeeping but I gotta feeling that I'm gonna have to do another double-month tomorrow.

I gave my purchases from the sale a test run today. Worked out well. The pants ride up a bit high in the crotch but I gather that they must be worn to be seen more than for comfort. I was most impressed by my shirt, though. I didn't notice until I had gotten it back home but my dress shirt doesn't have any buttons. Instead, it has a zipper. I actually have a pullover dress shirt. I guess higher costs do translate into higher creativity in the fashion industry.

Looks like "Million Dollar Baby" did the million dollar sweep at the Oscars although it didn't approach the heights of "The Lord of the Rings" last year. Kinda too bad that I won't be seeing it; just not into dramas at all. "The Aviator" will probably be the closest that I'll get. And whatever happened to "Sideways"? I think that movie, after all the hubbub of it being the romantic comedy to come into Oscar, got an eponymous look from the Academy. At least the actor who got snubbed won't feel too bad. Everyone got snubbed.
However, "The Incredibles" got best animated feature which makes my day. Can hardly wait to get the DVD.

How about that Halle Berry, eh? She's certainly shown that she has a sense of humour and a lot of guts for actually showing up to the Razzies which probably brought down the house. She's certainly earned my respect although I'm sure that her agent must have taken the heart pills. As for someone who doesn't have much of a sense of humour, look at Sean Penn.

Had my usual class with The Class Act. Looks like SIL never told her sister-in-law that she wouldn't be coming for lessons anymore. Also, her reason for not coming started metamorphosizing into an alibi when my student told me that SIL's mother's cataract surgery was a wild success. SIL said that she would probably need to take care of her mother for the next number of months....ahh...I don't think so. Another one of those face-saving measures that she just wanted to cut out. In any case, the Class Act lessons are starting to approach those of The Teacher's in terms of raunchiness. Last week was on homosexuality; today for some left-field reason, we actually got into one of the lady's daughter's bust size. my job.

Did my usual errands before getting some lunch at TGIFridays. Had a really smiley waitress who was really nice but kinda scared me with that million-watt was almost Cheshireish. The Company class was a bit of a slog.

The OL has cancelled her lesson for this Wednesday which means that it'll just be The Hawaiian. Received a call from Speedy about which text to use for this high-level student. Looks like I'll be doing some research at Maruzen or Kinokuniya again.

In the middle of listening to Michael Buble's latest release, "It's Time". He's doing a few more non-jazz covers this time around, including a duet with Nelly Furtado and even a Beatles classic.

Well, I guess after I'm finished Buble, it'll be a shower and then bed. The bookkeeping can wait til the afternoon. I just hope that I don't have to give up on my gym.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Monday February 28, 8:15 a.m.

I'm starting to those itches in my nose, and my eyes are starting to tear up. Looks like hay fever is back in town. Down the medicine, up the mask. With my bum knee and foot, I ought to look just perfect as one of the walking insane.

Well, it's Oscar Night in Hollywood which translates as Oscar Morning here. The only live coverage for the Academy Awards in on NHK Satellite, which I don't have. I think Japan does it perfectly right here; they just give out the results, throwing out the other 3 hours and 56 minutes of lame jokes (Chris matter what you say, you're still in an emcee straightjacket), bad musical interludes and often stilted presenter dialogue.

Got the Class Act on the new regime of textbook. Hopefully, that translates into better structure for both of them. Then I've got the Company as usual. I have to pay my last installment of the past year's National Health Insurance plan. Will be nice to see that go away, if only until July.
Sunday February 27, 9:41 p.m.

My right foot is acting up again. It can't be toe hasn't swollen to volleyball proportions. The pain is in the left back...not sure if it's the tendon or nerves but I've walking up and down the stairs like an old grandmother...worse...I saw some old ladies beating me. Ah, well...chalk it up to age. Since the average male lives to his early eighties, I figure I'm quickly approaching the midpoint.

Got together with Speedy and his crew in front of Ikebukuro Station to head for this big invitation-only access to a huge shopping fair for some local high-end clothing. I couldn't really say it was a conglomeration of friends aside from Speedy himself. It was more of a bunch of acquaintances and first-time meetings with the same goal: get rare access to some decent clothing.

Speedy was under the false impression that we'd be able to scoot right on in since the massive lineups were back in the morning when the doors opened. Not quite...the lineups still looked like the ones for Phantom Menace before the truth came out about that movie. And with a ton of invite-only folks lining up for some ridiculously low, low prices on fashion, there was the odd incident of venting at the poor staff by a couple who apparently didn't have their invites with them. It's too bad that there wasn't a Rick Blaine type to coolly get rid of the interlopers.

It was naturally crowded in the convention space. A lot of clothing stores were represented. However, it wasn't the rush hour subway situation that I had dreaded. I was able to move about. All of us basically scattered never to see each other again. I didn't buy all that much considering the majority of folks who must have believed that clothes were going extinct today. After about 30 minutes of searching, I managed to buy a pair of slacks, a creamy purple shirt wth matching tie. Came out to a grand total of 10,000 yen. Not too bad for the good stuff.

Sat in the lounge for about another 30 minutes when something told me to look back. Sure enough, my Spidey senses were working well. I saw Speedy and one of the other acquaintances come on up. Speedy hit the jackpot with his stuff, but then again he's no longer just an English teacher...he's the president of a school which automatically means he's been "promoted" to businessman. I don't envy him.

Hobbled home and made some taco rice for dinner. Made enough to choke a T-Rex so I'm eating the rest for dinner. I finally got a response from Skippy in terms of "The Aviator". Looks like we are a go for March 27th. I'm kinda wondering if I should bring in the new graduates into this as well.

I'm currently watching "The Peacemaker". Currently seeing this for the first time, it has already come down in my book as one of the few movies that I regret not seeing in the theater. It really keeps the suspense going at fever pitch...a very intense Tom Clancy thriller that isn't Tom Clancy. Up to this point, I thought George Clooney was cool in "Ocean's Eleven". Not any more. Strike up a target on the DVD hit list.