Saturday, April 23, 2005

Sunday April 24, 1:13 a.m.

Once again, I was given a bit of a surprise at my kids' house today when the elder sister actually appeared for a lesson. Luckily, I didn't need to bring anything special for her so I could teach her; it would have been nice if I'd gotten a bit of advance warning, though.

Since JJ cancelled today, I had ample time before meeting up with Speedy and Chip Guy so I had my lunch at Foo Foo, and then I did some book searching. Well, I learned that the soundtrack for "Revenge of the Sith" will be here in about 10 days. However, I did succumb to the Dark Side when I went over to Kinokuniya and discovered not only the third volume of Peanuts but also the novelization of the latest Star Wars film. I wasn't gonna buy either one since Kinokuniya doesn't have a point card system so that my purchases wouldn't have gone for any future benefit. However, I figured that in the last several days, I've inadvertently picked up so much information and pictures of the coming carnage about the movie that it really doesn't matter anymore so I shucked out the yen.

I started reading the first couple of chapters of the book in front of Q-Front, the massive building in front of Shibuya Station before Chip Guy arrived and remarked on my capitulation to the Dark Side. The two of us went off up the street into Dogenzaka and into a building up to the 6th floor. We went to Toriyoshi, a decent izakaya that specializes in chicken. For the first half-hour, it was just us two so we got into detail about Episode 3 and about how the family is doing. Then Speedy and another fellow arrived so we could actually start ordering.

Chip Guy had originally just expected another two guys to come out for a total of six. However, one guy decided to bring his girl and then another three people showed up which caused a few conniptions for the staff. It was very magnanimous of them to give us another table considering it was a Saturday night. It did save us from a very tight squeeze. We ended up staying there for close to 4 hours. All of us started devouring some very delectable chicken wings of which we ordered a huge bushel. These wings are not like the buffalo wings back home. Instead of being slathered in BBQ sauce, the Japanese variety are grilled with a sweet-salty sauce and sesame seeds which made them just as irresistable. It was amazing how much and how fast we could devour those things.

For most of the night, most of my conversation was with Speedy and Chip. Again, I'm not all that effusive with people I don't know very well in a group setting so it was nice that I had these two guys bracketing me. Chip Guy and I had another long chat about the next Star Wars movie; I'm grateful that I can talk about some of my favourite things with somebody. It's just not all that easy to do that anymore. But Chip Guy was starting to fall victim to jet lag. He got some fresh air outside which kept the exhaustion at bay for a while but it came back to him. By around 11, we decided to finally get out of there. Surprisingly enough, he decided to stay with some of the more enterprising fellows for another round which I don't think was the best idea. However, he admirably held back on the heavy drinking; he was a lot more of a drinker in his earlier single days. But a wife and a daughter can mellow a man somewhat. I hope that both he and Speedy are in OK shape to show up at PH's place later today.

Well, I'm just about ready for bed myself.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday April 22, 10:54 p.m.

It was a pretty long day today....of which most of it was spent at The Tea Room. I did have The Teacher after a 2-week absence. She had to take last week off due to an asthma attack. Apparently, she's now chairperson for a couple of committees in her neighbourhood; I'm a bit worried considering her medical problems. However I did have her laughing more than usual, and there is nothing better than a good cure of comedy.

Afterwards, I headed to Maruzen to pick up the latest I, SPY book for my little girl tomorrow and a new crossword book. I came across that "Making Of" tome for the newest Star Wars movie. Unfortunately, I also came across some of the dialogue, although I can't be sure if that will be the final stuff that gets on screen. In any case, I'm not optimistic. So just in case some of you REALLY don't want to know anything about the movie, I'd avoid the next few lines. SPOILERS START NOW...well, I came across lines like "I don't know....I think she's dying of a broken heart." Duh...oh, my golly...couldn't the writers have come up with something like Anakin's Force-influenced psychic link with Padme was responsible for her eventual death as her husband was being pummeled by Obi-Wan? In addition, I saw some dialogue with the coolest Jedi, Mace Windu, which made him look like a total idiot for following Anakin into a trap. I'm not optimistic. SPOILERS END NOW.

Anyways, I had my second trip to that Vietnamese Pho restaurant underneath Maruzen. Definitely a keeper that one. Then I made my way up to The Tea Room. SR first came on up. We ended up talking for 3.5 hours...always good to talk to. Then some forty minutes later, the New Yorker arrived. I had my best class yet with her. The drills and application went well, and the look on her face certainly showed a boost in confidence. She's certainly opening up more. Both ladies rather enjoyed going through the I, SPY book.

Got home to find out that JJ has cancelled her lesson tomorrow afternoon. Not a bad thing since that leaves me some time to do some bookbrowsing before I meet up with Speedy and Chip Guy in Shibuya. And it means that I don't have to plan as much. I've pretty much internalized what I'm gonna be doing with the little one tomorrow. And her Dad's always good for a chat.

Looks like the new Pope didn't take long to lower the boom. He's just denounced the passage of a Spanish law allowing homosexuals to wed. But it's not as if those Spaniards will listen too carefully to that anyways.

And finally, Koizumi has started off at one of those Asian conferences by going humble in his attempts to mend fences with China. But true to his Murphy's Luck, back on the farm, several politicians went to Yasukuni Shrine to "pray for peace with neighbouring countries". Hah, I say!

And very finally, I was walking briskly back through the subway station when I saw some of the captions at the newspaper kiosks blaring that a former famous comedian, Paul Maki (Japanese celebs of a certain age used to take on Western names), had committed suicide today. He never struck me as being as popular as Beat Takeshi or the Drifters on TV here but he was a known face on the tube. His big schtick was his quick twirlaround and snaps of his fingers. Several years ago, he actually converted into a Buddhist priest and retired from the industry. People are still not certain about the cause for his header off a 9th-floor balcony but his manager stated that Maki had been uncertain about what the rest of his life would mean. Considering that I'd grown up seeing him on Japanese variety shows and considering the recent problems with Jazz Buddy, the news did strike me somewhat poignantly.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Thursday April 21, 10:22 p.m.

Despite just one lesson today, I'm feeling pretty exhausted...probably out of just doing really nothing. Did my stint at the gym, then went over to Speedy's. Really, most of the time there was just spent merely looking over lesson plans already done before we had an hour-long meeting on one of the proposed programmes.

Had my lesson with The Carolinan. I did apologize for my behaviour a couple of weeks ago; she brushed it aside with aplomb. The lesson itself went pretty smoothly although at the end, she suddenly got a bit aloof for some reason...I'm not sure what I said but I was too tired to care by that point.

Got home to see that I got "Citizen Kane" from The Anime King in thanks for that future delivery of another pakcage for him. I will definitely be looking forward to seeing that since it has the Roger Ebert commentary; he did a great job with "Casablanca".

Anyways, I'm heading straight to bed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Thursday April 21, 7:55 a.m.

Received a letter out of the blue from DTE who's now somewhere in the Caribbean. I was surprised to hear that she's now heading up a school of her own. I guess promotions are on a faster track there. She says that she doesn't miss the office atmosphere at the school; I don't either.

Now that JB is out of the picture, I have another potential day to hit the gym for the meantime. So I'll take advantage of that before heading out to Speedy's. Then I've got the Carolinan tonight. It'll be the first lesson since that rather unfortunate Thursday so I'll be readying my best apologies.

Chip Guy and the family will be back in town today. I think I should be hearing from him tomorrow about Saturday's plans.
Wednesday April 20, 9:50 p.m.

I'm not surprised but I'm concerned. Looks like the ultrarightists in this country have started to take things into their own hands concerning the current Japan-China crisis. A Chinese bank has had its windows smashed by one of them, and there have been all sorts of threats against various Chinese interests. I can only assume that there will be an escalation.

Met the OL for the first time in a few weeks. I did get that wonderful Korean cookbook from her. Since she'll be taking off for that trip to Rhode Island next week, I won't be seeing her for about a month. Then, I'll be seeing her on our new day of Fridays.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Wednesday April 20, 1:46 a.m.

Well, it's official. The Chilean cardinal came out and announced the new Pope. It happens to be...Bill Cosby! Nah, just joking...Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany is now the new shepherd. He will take the name of Pope Benedict XVI. Still waiting for his debut, but I hear he has a reputation of a taskmaster. Hmmm..I'm not sure if that bodes well for women, homosexuals and pro-choice activists.

He's now out on the balcony. 78 years old, did you say? Hmm...and the previous guy died at 84. Well, I guess it's pretty secure that this new Pope won't be breaking any new records for longevity. However, he does look a lot healthier than his old boss did at the same age. Mind you, he hasn't had quite the strenuous history that John Paul did.

One question on this conclave business. When the new Pope is elected inside the Sistine Chapel, is it kinda like the Miss American Pageant? Does the former cardinal start sobbing and get mobbed by his fellow cardinals? Does one of them start singing, "Here he is...Pope Benedict"? Well, I gotta say that Miss America and the Pope have one thing in common: they both wish for world peace.

G'night...I play at the Sands til Friday.
Wednesday April 20, 1:00 a.m.

Well, I'm here again, and apparently the Pope is, too....the new one. I guess I should count myself lucky to have been witness to a bit of history. The Vatican pulled off the equivalent of a nailbiting 9th-inning, 2-out, full-count homer with its white smoke/black smoke mystery and then using the big bells to signal the election of the new guy. And the crowd went wild! Imagine the father of the Roman Catholic church as rock star. Pretty soon, they're gonna have to add "We Are The Champions" along with a bitchin' stereo system.

Ah, BTW, The Bohemian has also signaled his presence back in Tokyo. He's asked me to keep my eyes peeled for any job opportunities. As if I could...however, I think I can pull off the easier challenge of meeting him for dinner in the early days of Golden Week which starts at the end of next week.

Speedy got my message about not accepting his offer of starting up a second school (although that's way too premature considering the slowness of this school to get off the ground) and my little nudge about some of that help on continuing my stay in Japan. He said that would depend on how many more days I can devote to teaching there. I'm only slated officially for one, so that's fair enough about his request. However, I'm not sure about how much more I can give him. I think I can give him Monday night if I do manage to drop The Company. But if he starts pushing me for more, I'll have to disappoint him.
Wednesday April 20, 12:39 a.m.

Ah, yes, the hour is late but it's always kinda nice to surf the Internet and check e-mail after a long day of lessons and gym. I brought over that bottle of Hungarian port that I'd received from the Matron (of Class Act) to the Beehive. There's no way that I could drink it by myself, not being much of a home drinker, and there was that time last year where the ladies and I imbibed a bottle of good Italian..also from the Class Act. However, I learned that the bottle had to rest on its side for several hours to moisten the cork for easier pullout. Well, since I didn't know that, it looks like we'll have to wait next week to see how this port tastes.

The juku classes were OK although I sometimes wonder if I'm starting to outlive my welcome. Mr. & Mrs Mild were fine but I'm wondering if the Beauty Pair is starting to falter a bit. We've made steady but slow progress over the past couple of years. We're still using the same original textbook. I'm sure that at least one of them would like to pick up the pace but her partner is just not getting it structurally. After a pretty inspiring class last week, The Siberian was once again back to his somewhat denser version. I'm wondering if I'm gonna have to always connect the lesson plan with his love of Kanji. Still, I ended up chatting with the guy until 11 tonight.

CNN has been keeping its eye on the world's most famous chimney in the Vatican to see if a new Pope has been chosen. Black smoke, so it's just nada. It's impressive that all this attention is being paid on what the colour of this smoke is. When Pope John Paul II was elected all the way back in 1978, there was no CNN, no Internet and frankly not nearly as much interest.

Meanwhile, on the pop cultural front, after nearly a week of mania surrounding the resignation of one of Morning Musume's most popular members and its then-leader, the message boards have started to slow down to a more leisurely pace. Things are finally settling down.

Well, I'm gonna take advantage of the late day and sleep in.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Tuesday April 19, 8:38 a.m.

Got another long day ahead of me, as Tuesdays usually are. But this time, the hay fever is, so far, being pretty kind to me. But I still took the medicine. Can't complain about the results.

My washing seemed almost happy to just handle a half-load. I was just taking advantage of the good day today since tomorrow will be a rainy one. It was just chugging along like a train engine.

Seems to be a good day for the Livedoor and Fuji people. They've finally come to an agreement after a long corporate war. Ironically, the denouement was upstaged by the current crisis between Japan and the rest of Asia.

Had another message from GC. Looks like he wasn't too thrilled with the Expo in Aichi Prefecture which pretty much means I'm gonna give it a pass. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime thing but then again, so is a brush with Ebola. I checked out his blog...not surprisingly for a graphic designer, his site has got its own bells and whistles. It's still not 100% completed so he advised me not to tell anyone else just yet. However, strangely enough, The Stick's own blog outweighs his with her multilingual blog. I wasn't aware that she was good at graphic design unless the site is a template. However, I don't think I've ever seen templates that well-equipped.
Monday April 18, 9:25 p.m.

Looks like the hay fever was getting at me to a fair degree today. Despite taking three doses of medicine since early this morning, the best I got were small respites connected by long stretches of sniffling and heavy usage of Kleenex. I was grateful for the urban custom of folks handing out free tissue packs in Tokyo. I'm sure the extra intake of medicine won't do my liver any good but I'm at work and I've gotta be drip-free. Not that I was, in any case.

Had my classes with the Class Act and SIL, but no lunch by the Chef since he was very busy preparing for some dinner guests later tonight. Hey, I was just grateful for the scrumptious mandarin orange cake he whipped up (literally) for us during the lesson. The Lady remarked that her kitchen was now dangerously close to getting its license to be a restaurant on its own. I can imagine a lot of guests begging The Lady for the chance for return visits.

So I did actually have a small break to check out Towers once more. I went up to the 7th floor where the English-language books were located. Strangely enough, the novelization of "Revenge of the Sith" wasn't there (maybe it's already sold out...kinda doubt it though). However, I did find a couple of rather hefty tomes elsewhere on the floor on either the making of or the artwork behind the supposedly last Star Wars. I took a look at some of the photos inside...some visual spoilers there. Let's say that Anakin becomes a food processor with at least one Jedi or Sith.

Checked the e-mail tonight. The messages to help out Jazz Buddy are continuing to come in. I got word from my ex; basically, it was the same message that Arwen and OA had told me on Saturday. I got word from Jazz Expert as well. She will call her up; she was somewhat surprised at my SOS since she had talked with JB about a couple of months and thought that all was fine. Let's hope that it will get all fine for her again.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Monday April 18, 7:45 a.m.

Well, some days ago, I received an invitation from the Outback Steakhouse. Yes, the chain is also here in Japan and has been for some years now. I usually hit the Shinagawa branch. Anyways, I got the invite to their "club" for free so since it's gratis, I thought, well, what the heck. So I put in my application and now I am an OFFICIAL glutton.

Looks like my earlier claim that I'm immune to cypress pollen may have been premature. Early this morning, my nose felt like some fly was bouncing all over inside it so the sneezing started all over the place. I had to get my three rescue pills. It's taken a few hours and an hour of the air filter working but it looks like my nose is back to normal. However, I will put on the mask once more.

GC let me know that he has started up his own blog and encouraged me to start one of my own. Little does he know....