Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saturday June 11, 11:54 p.m.

I had another bit of annoyance at the kids' house today. Once again, the mother had forgotten to inform me that the elder sister couldn't make it for her lesson anymore due to the demands of her volleyball club. I realize she's a busy woman but I could've done without some of the extra books in my bag. Still, I was pretty gracious about the whole thing.

Killed two birds with one stone afterwards. I went to Shinjuku to: 1) have lunch at Hansen's, that Coney Island hot dog shop, and 2) search out that Vietnamese restaurant The Madame was all ga-ga about. I'll probably case the joint out again on Monday since SIL has cancelled her lesson. If all goes well, I'll make the reservations.

Most of the remaining time was spent at Tower Records. Looks like there's a permanent fixture in Shinjuku in the form of a mentally retarded fellow who barks at the top of his lungs. It's the third time I've seen him in the area in the past number of months. This time, he was stomping around, yelping like a Schnauzer on the upper floors of Tower Records. Of course, there was the usual moment of freeze until staff and customers figured out who he was.

It was about a little after 4 when I decided to take the long way around the Oedo Line to head for Tony Romas since the reservations were for 5. If I'd taken the shorter way around the loop, I would've just ended up walking around the boring old Tameike-Sanno neighbourhood for several minutes until dinner time. However, the long route wasn't exactly a smart decision either since I miscalculated how long it would take. I had to get off a stop early and make a quick transfer to the Ginza Line so that I could get to TR a minute after 5.

Not surprisingly, Boop and OL were already there. Dinner there more than made up for that rather disappointing outing at TGIFridays 6 weeks ago. The ribs were excellent; once again, I ordered the large plate while the ladies shared the same dish. It was basically a dinner that would blow out any progress that a dieter may have had in the previous 6 days. Dessert consisted of sharing a brownie which we downed with a trio of Irish Coffees. The talk must have been fun...we ended up staying there for 5 hours. During that time, the OL showed us her digital pics from her trip to Rhode Island during Golden Week. After all that, we made plans for our next culinary outing. It'll probably be at the end of July (around Eel Day) at an eel restaurant that the ladies raved about.

Well, memories of a good dinner went down the drain when I got word from The Madame. I'd had a feeling, albeit a tiny one, that she would be trouble. And sure enough, the past few conversations have led us to a conclusion that was painfully embarrassing for me...doubly so since it was my fault. Without getting into much detail, I can say that romance just plain stinks.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday June 10, 10:08 p.m.

Yep, as expected the rains did fall. My umbrella is drying out in the bathtub as I type. Not much to say about today's lessons. It was the usual with The Teacher and SR. Finally got to see The OL for the first time in a few weeks since she's been rather busy of late after her transfer to the business travel section of her company. Despite our respective absence from the Starbucks, the manager came running out to help me when I couldn't get my brolley into the automatic umbrella wrapping machine out front. Yes, over here it's customary to wrap one's umbrella in a big condom (as some of the gaijin so rakishly describe the plastic wrappers) so that you don't carry in a whole bunch of moisture into a store or eating establishment. So typically neat of the Japanese but in these days of environmental awareness, the tons of plastic used to make these condoms must be a hindrance. Well, before I digress too umbrella is a foldable, a bit too thick to fit into the condom (ahem!).

Anyways, the OL came about 75 minutes later. She wasn't too worse for wear considering her 3-week absence. In fact, in the past month and a half, I've only seen her twice due to the new demands of her work schedule. She is indeed looking forward to that big rib eatoff at Tony Romas am I. However, she's told me that there's a good possibility that she can only see me on alternating Fridays due to her work. It would be a pity since she's been one of my most dedicated students since I started freelancing. But on the other hand, there could be an opening for The Matron's daughter. I'll have to talk with the OL about this.

Got home to find another letter in my box from the tax office. Once again, my blood pressure shot up. Now what? Well, apparently I had informed the guys there that I could use a tax consultant so the office sent me the name of someone who could help me. In retrospect, this could be a blessing in disguise since I do need to find out what the heck is going on with my taxes. Do I or don't I pay? Well, the answer may be a phone call away.

Some rather strange e-mail exchanges have been going on between me and The Madam since our "friendship" of sorts got re-started a week ago. I swear that she was coming onto me...well, not that like that...but she seemed to be angling for a date of sorts. And after all that bluster from me about not having a single chance to ever get a GF again. Well, I responded by directly asking her if those are indeed her intentions. Rather weird since she's been dating a Chinese guy for the last little while although she has admitted that it probably won't last too much longer. BTW, she gave me the address for The Delta so I could contact her about the movie plans on the 19th.

I got a message from The Prez. He's given me a bit of breathing room concering the increased pile of translating. I can just talk to him about it on Monday when I get back to class at The Company. That'll help me a lot since I've gotta plan for the kids' lessons tomorrow.

And finally the Teacher came back to me with some information about how to write on PDFs. Nice to have another person in my corner.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Friday June 10, 9:21 a.m.

As expected, it looks pretty overcast out there. The rains should be coming soon. I still did my laundry, though, but they're all hanging inside the apartment. May get a bit humid later on then.

I listened to Josh Groban singing the album version of the theme from "Enterprise". It was interesting that here is this guy who usually sings pop opera giving a Rod Stewart (I initially thought it could've been Stewart singing the tune) spin on an actual vocalized Star Trek tune. Compared to the TV version, which is also on the album, the album version of "Where My Heart Will Take Me" is of course longer and has a lot more strings. Reading the liner notes, I now know that any resemblance between this song and the Aerosmith power ballad from "Armageddon" was purely intentional. As for the rest of the disc, the only other notable track was "Archer's Theme", the only tune that actually sounds like it should belong in a motion picture. The rest is generic Star Trek background music. Scott Bakula ought to be flattered. None of the other captains, even Kirk, got their own theme song. Somewhere, William Shatner is grumbling...along to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" probably.

Well, no cancellation call from The OL, so it looks like I have my three classes today.
Thursday June 9, 10:24 p.m.

Pretty busy day today. I had my appointment at the new hairsalon. The crew is all male, and I think one of the guys plays for the other team. There was also a kindly motherly type woman there who served me some cold pekoe tea. There were already two customers...middle-aged the seats talking up a storm with the guys. It would actually be 20 minutes before I actually got my turn for which my cutter apologized profusely. Good marks already.

The experience was overall a good one. Got my usual relaxing shampoo and scalp massage along with the cut. It felt slightly weird having a bunch of guys in the once-all-female establishment, and especially without the old owner chatting my ear off in her happy-go-lucky voice. However, the two guys who handled my cut and shampoo had a good talk with me, and I left as a repeat customer.

Then, came the latest chapter in what is becoming another annoying phase in this seesaw game involving my taxes. I went down to my branch of UFJ and talked with the lone native English speaker. I told her...twice...about my situation and that the figures listed on the sheet that I'd given her were not in the right position. After about 10 minutes of consulting with the in-house guy in charge of taxes, she came back and insisted that I was supposed to be getting money back. I told her finally with a slight sense of resignation about this seesaw game for which she gave me a sympathetic smile but little else...not that I could expect her to do much about the situation anyways. Still, I'm left in fiscal limbo. I could tell Mrs. Travel once more but she's busy right now with her first grandson; I could tell the tax office guy what happened but I'm afraid that he may complicate matters further. So I'll have to wait and see at least for the weekend.

I walked up the slope up to Roppongi Hills to check about advance tickets for "Revenge of the Sith" but it looks like they're only handling the special preview for the 25th at this point. I'm headed for Karuizawa anyways on that weekend.

I ended up going to the Tony Romas where the OL, Betty Boop and I are supposed to have our ribs this Saturday. Might as well kill two birds with one stone. I needed lunch and I had to make the reservations. I gotta admit about's the only restaurant in town where the actual dish is bigger than the picture on the menu. I ordered the lunch special of spicy chicken sandwich; pretty hefty fellow. But since I was hungry, I was able to polish it off with little problem. And with the soup (a weak minestrone) and a small dessert with coffee, it was quite reasonable at a little under 2000 yen. I made the reservations at the cashier and everything is now good to go.

Afterwards, I took the train up to Ginza. I had about 5 hours to kill before meeting The Carolinan so I took a look through Yamano Music again for the second time in as many weeks. This time, I did succumb to my whims and bought a CD. I actually bought the soundtrack to "Enterprise". I guess I am a sucker for that "ode to a coffee commercial" theme song. I even went up the street to HMV Yurakucho. I saw the soundtrack for "Batman Begins". Talk about your pretentious score titles...the entries seemed to be named after some various species of bats, I assume. Gahhh....I hope the movie is a whole lot better although The Japan Times reviewer has already given it a pretty lame score; mind you, he seems to hate comic book movies as a rule which makes him persona non grata in my eyes.

The lesson with The Carolinan went well. Looks like she's rarin' to go to America with her sister this weekend. Only worked on her speech and a bit of grammar. I wish them well.

Got home tired. I decided to continue on my sadomasochistic course by checking my e-mail. Just when I thought that I only needed to translate those two files from The Company, Junior called up to tell me that there are 12 more pages coming. Looks like that idea about my faxing the translations over was a bust. The faxes arrived there half cut off. In any case, with the added caseload, I'll have to inform them that I probably won't be able to get them done until the end of the weekend at the earliest, and that's if I devote my entire Sunday to the project.

The Hawaiian continued to show what an angel she is by calling up the theatre to find out the times for "Batman Begins" on the 19th. Looks like we'll go for 1 o'clock. The Madame will be out of luck since she'll be working until 2:30. I don't particularly think that she was much of a superhero movie type anyways. Speaking of her, I gave her a bit of an earful in our last correspondence about my prospects for getting a girlfriend....not that I aimed any vitriol at her; just told her that knowing my personality, I think I'm all out of options here. But maybe a miracle may happen....then again, I don't believe in them much either. I laughed somewhat bitterly when she told me that I didn't have to change my personality to attract any woman. Everyone knows that a relationship is full of compromises. I refused to compromise on some of the key ones and that's why my ex is an ex.

Unless the OL gives me a phone call tomorrow, I should be able to see her again for her lesson. It'll be a late one though of 7:30 p.m. since she's started her new position in a different department this week. Could be a bit tight since I have to teach the kids on Saturday.

Well, I frankly doubt I'll be doing any translation work tonight. I just wanna listen to the soundtrack I bought and then hit the hay.

Could be a stormy one tomorrow since Typhoon 4 is gonna brush past us.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Thursday June 9, 12:11 a.m.

I'm sure the beer must have tasted better, the banter must have been happier and the ride home more comfortable tonight. Why? The Japanese soccer team earned their ticket into the World Cup tonight by handily beating North Korea 2-0. I would love to hear the Kim-controlled media try to spin this one...I'm sure they will come up with something like Japanese government agents spiked the water on the North Korean side. For the most part, Japan took the play into the North Korean side much more often than vice versa so it wasn't really too much of a nailbiter. The only contentious part was when one of the North Korean side tried to stomp one of the Japanese players' heads late in the game when he was accidentally thumped by a leg. It was already in loss time so the refs quickly called it a game soon after so that there wouldn't be any additional diplomatic incidents. Japan is still in the Asian doghouse.

I watched the game live at Speedy's after my class with 001. From the second half on, it was us plus The Receptionist watching the game in the beautifully appointed lounge. The ladies were quite squeaky at every little bump and grind. I only reacted when the first goal was scored; it was a beaut.

The only thing I didn't like was the overly rah-rah commentary by the TV Asahi crew after the game. I mean, the Americans are usually the masters of sports propaganda. But the Japanese can dish out the bull like the best of them. It frankly got too sickening for me (hello, Mr. Kabira) so I switched off the volume.

Looks like we're getting quite the army for "Batman Begins" on the 19th. Movie Buddy, Satyr, Skippy, The Hawaiian, The Madam and perhaps even the Delta will be getting together.

Well, I still have to take a look at the final document from The Company. Not sure if I'll be able to get it in by Thursday since I've got a pretty busy lineup despite having only one lesson with The Carolinan.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Wednesday June 8, 10:45 a.m.

I was already awake in my futon but what got me up was a ring from Mrs. Travel concerning my talk with the tax guy. I let her know that he didn't play the late fee card so she didn't have to execute her nuclear option which would've inflicted grievous mental and emotional harm on the guy. He sounded like a decent sort yesterday so I was glad that everything was OK. Still, I gotta make that trip down to the bank and pay up.

Some more signs that summer is almost upon us. I brought out the electric pest repellents for the first time this year. One is now in my living room and was useful in keeping the mosquitoes away. Also, our garbage disposal area downstairs is starting to smell something awful...manna for the flies. Since I live in an apartment building that's usually inhabited by young single men or married guys who have been temporarily transferred here on work, cleanliness is not next to godliness here...and since this is a very secular country...

I got word from Junior at the Company that he got my fax with the first batch of translations. I appreciated the fact that he had appreciated the fact that I'd sent it at 1:30 a..m. in the morning.

Well, I've got the lesson plans done for today. Now, I have just 90 minutes to tackle those other translations for The Company.

Another Hollywood legend has left us, I see. I know Anne Bancroft will be remembered for "The Miracle Worker" and "The Graduate" but I still enjoy her most for her hilarious cameo appearance with hubby Mel Brooks in "Silent Movie". That shot of her hitting her head on the table during the tango scene is priceless.
Wednesday June 8, 1:24 a.m.

Well, what am I doing up at this time of night on a weekday? Hmph...just finished the translation for the first file from The Company. Not sure if I did a great job but I did try my best with my supply of dictionaries and an online translation service. I still have to do another two files; one is a PDF with a lot of pictures in it. I'm not sure how I'm gonna pull off that one. Hopefully, it's just there to help me visualize what I'm doing. I should find out pretty early from The Prez and Junior about how I'm doing.

I've decided to give up the gym for later today since I'll probably be cooped up trying to translate the other documents. Plus, I gotta get ready for my other lessons with The Hawaiian and Student 001.

The juku boss told me I may have two high school students crammed in with the Milds from next Tuesday night. I'm not sure if Mr. Mild was too happy with that prospect. I'm not too sure myself. The New Kid was a good 45 minutes late for his lesson today so I just ended up checking his HW and assigning him his next batch of homework. He was basically AWOL since when the juku boss called up his mother, even she was taken aback about where he could be. Luckily, he did show up to say that he got tied up with a school assembly, so he's not in his Mom's doghouse.

Well, later tonight is the big soccer match between Japan and North Korea. If Japan wins or ties the game, they're assured of getting into the World Cup next year. The teams are playing in the neutral country of Thailand since the North Korean fans got a bit uppity with the Iranian team when they played in North Korea months ago (may explain why the Iranian fans were so hostile with Japan when Zico and the gang came callin in Teheran...we probably look all alike to them). As penance, FIFA threw the game over to Thailand. I'm sure a lot of the natives here will be glued to their set. I'm pretty sure that Student 001 will show up, though.

Off to bed then.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Tuesday June 7, 12:57 p.m.

Well, it's been a good news/bad news day. First, the bad news is that there was yet another mistake in the tax return. After some investigation by Mrs. Travel, I found out that I would have to pay a goodly sum of 120,000 yen in taxes after all (about $1400 CDN). It seems as if that woman at the tax office whom Mrs. Travel referred to as somewhat lacking in imagination, seems to have lacked some additional mental acuity. Still, I thought it was rather too-good-to-be-true that I could actually get money back from the government as a freelancer so I'm not too too upset about it.

On the good news side, I did get my qualification to be a BULATS examiner in the mail. Apparently, a lot of applicants don't get it on their first time, and Speedy could be included in that tally, so it was rather heartening to know that I actually had some smarts in my craft. Now, the only difficult part is to find out those students who need to take the test.

Well, I gotta have lunch and then call up the tax office to find out how I'll have to pay my contribution to the government. The office said that I would have to be slapped with a late fine, something that sticks in my craw since it was they who had screwed things up...twice. Luckily, Mrs. Travel is in my corner on that opinion so if the officer gives me that line, all I have to do is call my student and up and she'll give them Hell. Not sure if she'll be successful or not but it's nice to know that I have someone in my corner. Still, I think any plans for a vacation in Yokohama are pretty much out the window...perhaps. I haven't heard from that lady who had helped me out last year with my two trips so I'm assuming that she's no longer with the agency. Just as well.

Then, I gotta help out on that translation mission for The Company. It doesn't look too difficult but I've seen too much to take things for granted. Luckily, I've basically got my juku classes all planned out last night.

At least on e-mail, it seems as if The Madam and I are back on speaking terms again. She and I trying to get those plans for "Batman Begins" in order for the 19th. Skippy is a possible but she asked me if she would "enjoy" this movie...uhhh...well, if she has to ask me that question, then perhaps she won't. It doesn't matter...Movie Buddy and The Satyr are coming out...I'm satisfied enough with that.
Monday June 6, 8:55 p.m.

Suddenly, I'm finding myself getting rather busy. First, MK refers me to a new student from late this month. The Matron of the Class Act has asked me if I could help out her daughter with her studies (looks doubtful since she's only available from the late afternoon). And now, The Prez has asked me for some translation help. Well, let's see what I can do...

I'm not sure if I'm gonna have The Class Act next week since The Lady and SIL have to head on out on a family matter that day, and The Matron may just as easily pull out. As for today, it was another gabfest for both The Act and SIL with another lovely lunch prepared by Chef in between. Today's menu was rather healthy...vegetable curry with green salad. I also tried out some of Chef's hisbiscus tea. Kinda tastes like a slightly watered-down, tart version of Kool-Aid but I mean that in a complimentary way.

It was pretty hot and sunny today compared to the deluge of Saturday. Now I know the summer is around the corner when I have to buy the Gatsby Mentholated Wipes. Went through two of the suckers today.

I also bought a text of the national English Proficiency Test, Level 2 (heretofore known as Eiken) so that I can do some stuff with The New Kid whom I'll be seeing again tomorrow at the juku. I think those Star Wars articles are getting rather stale.

The friendly and gracious manager of The Tea Room noticed that I actually came in on a Monday afternoon. I told her that I had to do a special lesson with The New Yorker before she and her sister take off this week for Los Angeles on their weeklong vacation. I did my best to give her a crash course on Travel English: shopping and restaurants. She was even struggling with prices...I'm not sure if she'll retain any of the stuff that I did with her today but at least I tried.

The Satyr contacted me about the upcoming "Batman Begins" outing on the 19th. Hmmm..not sure if we should get advanced tickets but seeing that the flick hasn't appeared at all on the TokyoWalker site's Top 10 movies that people wanna watch, perhaps we won't have to worry.

Paddy sent me a terse letter asking me about those problems I've been having with Adobe Reader. He often sends me very short memos but I do wonder if he is starting to get a little annoyed with me about all the problems I've been having with those documents. But hey, nothing I can do...I've tried my best sorting those things out but to no avail.

I actually got that appointment made with the new management of the hair salon. A man answered...hmmm... In any case, I'll be seeing him or whoever on Thursday morning. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sunday June 5, 7:47 p.m.

Nice and quiet day today. Got that massage in; I got the older lady again but I've gotten accustomed to some of her deep thumbs. I actually managed to deposit a good bit of cash into the account today and then I went off to the Daiei and picked up the fixins for fried rice. I was able to devour all of it tonight since I didn't bother having lunch since I had my pancake breakfast. In just one day, I've ingested 5 eggs: two sunny-side up, one in the pancake batter and then another couple in the fried rice. Man, I hope all that talk of cholesterol in eggs is overrated.

Looks like I've picked up another word-of-mouth student thanks to MK. He's a colleague of hers, and probably just as low-level as she is. I'll be meeting him for the first time on the 25th. Hope I don't paint myself into a corner. I'm already starting to juggle students around.