Saturday, July 09, 2005

Saturday July 9, 5:17 p.m.

Well, after 6 weeks of wondering, the saga is now complete. I finally caught "Revenge of the Sith" this morning. I arrived at Roppongi Hills at the early hour of 8. It was rather eerie being surrounded by this huge complex of glass and metal and yet very few people were about. However, that image was laid to rest as soon as I reached the doors of the Virgin Cinemas complex. There were already a number of folks waiting around for them to open. Unsurprisingly, most of them were men/boys and they all had that somewhat otaku-ish look to them; there was one kid who threatened to look cool though with his slightly hip-hop fashion sense.

It was rather interesting during that half-hour outside. I reminisced back 22 years when I was lining up with my two high school buddies for "Return of the Jedi" at the University Theatre in Toronto. We also got there early on a Saturday morning. there was already a very sizable lineup and there was also a sense of fear/excitement...wondering whether if we would get in or not along with how the movie would be. Quite a heady mix. Well, back in the present, there really was no need to line up, although we did so once we saw the staff moving around inside the glass doors. All of the seats in Virgin are reserved so I gather that the queue was some sort of old tribute to epics past.

Right at 8:30, the doors opened and while a majority of the folks lined up for their tickets at the usual counter, I made a beeline straight to the ticketing machines to pick up my Internet-bought ticket. I guess my legs were still as strong as ever since I was the first one to get the ticket. It was simplicity itself.

Well, the Premier screen was, as would befit its title, off in another section of the complex. I was rather surprised when I entered to be greeted by a concierge of sorts and then given a drink ticket!. Instead of a conventional lobby, there were seats, tables and a bar reminiscent of an urban drinking establishment. I got myself an oolong tea although I could have gotten somethng far stronger but I really didn't want to push myself after last night's debauchery. The foreign staffers led me up to the upstairs lounge which was a carbon copy of the same interior design. I spent 15 minutes just sipping on my tea before I decided to make my way down to the theatre itself. There were only 79 seats in the Premier due to the fact that the seats were so wide and comfy and there were actual lighted end tables, not cupholders, for the drinks. Also, leg room was enormous; I could walk to my seat in front of already seated guests without having to even intimate an "Excuse me". The only drawback was seeing the usual 20 minutes of commercials and trailers. Even in the Premier, the bills must be paid.

Now, what can I say about the so-called final Star Wars movie? Well, it IS better than the first two episodes. There are enough lightsaber battles to satisfy even the most persnickety fans, the effects are top-notch, Hayden and Natalie keep their soggy dialogue together to a minimum, Ian kicks his Iago into full warp, and Ewan does make me believe that his Obi-Wan does become Sir Alec's Obi-Wan (although I still think those 20 years between Episodes 3 and 4 are a bit short to age him that much). And best of all, Jar Jar Binks is just a cameo at the funeral.

Yet, the groanworthy dialogue still exists. My eyes cringed a bit at some of the lines that the doomed lovebirds had to throw out to each other. I half-expected a Nelson Eddy-Jeanette McDonald song to suddenly warble through during those scenes. The humour is still pretty lame; it was just as well that noone understood it here. And I was actually a bit disappointed that it wasn't Obi-Wan but Owen and Beru in the final shot. A very poignant scene with John Williams' stirring coda but hardly anything to shed a tear over (I'm just wondering how sensitive that guy on the TV who said he cried was).

Overall, I was OK with "Revenge of the Sith". And I will catch it again, next time with Skippy and some others at a conventional theatre. The Premier was fine but it just strikes me as being a bit too decadent to visit for the vast array of movies. "Sith" didn't suck at all. My brother had seen it a few weeks ago, and though he also liked it, he pointed out that there was something lacking. And I think that something was the swashbuckling from the original trilogy. If that first trilogy can be compared to Errol Flynn's "Robin Hood" with all of the soaring action, music and banter, then this just-completed trilogy is Ingmar Bergmann. Although Ewan McGregor tried his best to lighten things up during his battle with General Grievous, it was just too little too late. Episodes 1 to 3 will always come off as being a bit too heavily laden with the Jedi-Sith mythology. However, Episode 3 did have that spine-tingling, crowd-pleasing moment that all of the other entries, good or bad, have had. But it wasn't the Anakin/Obi-Wan Spar in Mustafar. It was that ode to The Wild West showdown between the two mighty Force titans of Sidious and Yoda.

After the end of the movie, I stepped out to see one couple actually having lunch in the lounge. Seems like the place also serves hot food, too, but the menu looked a bit rick for my blood. I was pretty hungry at that point since I hadn't had any breakfast due to some major bloating from last night's birthday party with the Quarterback. I ended up going to Wendy's before making my way over to Kiba and spending a sleepy 90 minutes at the Starbucks until JJ showed up. She was fine although she was a bit disappointed that she didn't quite make the grade in her STEP test.

On a totally different note, the significance of the bombings in London weren't lost on the folks in Tokyo. Once the news reached here, security was beefed up at all stations and the see-thought garbage cans were taken away. A lot of people were wondering when Tokyo would get its turn to join the dubious club of terrorist-affected nations. Mind you, Tokyo got hit years before September 11th became the date of infamy with Aum Shinrikyo's Sarin attack back in 1995. I still think that the odds are pretty low that Tokyo will get hit directly by Al Qaeda; I'm just worried about that sociopath copycat who decides to create some homemade bombs.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday July 8, 4:34 p.m.

The Teacher's lesson had a bit of everything: some laughs and some tears, the latter due to some news that a beloved pair of friends will soon be heading back home permanently after several years in Japan.

Then, after my monthly visit to the Golden Arches, I set to work on trying to do something about that bed that the Matron had so kindly gotten me. One big problem: the bed is 20 cm longer than the space available. If I'd had insisted on stuffing the bed frame into the room, I would've spent my nights having the blood rush and pool in my brain, and I am very keenly aware of aneurysms. I tried to come up with every conceivable way outside of transcendental engineering to fit the frame in. However for all of my efforts, I ended up temporarily dislocating the doors on my closet and having to move a heavy coffee table which had spent several years gathering dust behind the closet into my living room. It was rather a frustrating effort to know that the frame will now to spend life folded along my bedroom wall. However, I did benefit in that I finally got down to town and cleaned up a lot of stuff under the mattress including a good layer of dust, a ton of useless video tapes, and many paperbacks that would never have seen the light of day again. And I'm gonna get rid of some clothes that have outlived their usefulness. If I can get rid of that clutter, then it wasn't a totally wasted effort. However, my place is still rather cluttered. Still, instead of going to the gym, I did manage to sweat off several hundred calories in my apartment sans air conditioning. I no longer have to worry about that, though, since I have activated it now and am drinking some refreshing oolong tea to replenish lost fluids.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Friday July 8, 7:32 a.m.

Well, not surprisingly, the news is still very much on the London bombings. At least Paddy got back to me and said in his usual concise way that he and his girlfriend are OK. I took a scan of the London Underground map on the Net...yep, the explosions took place away from where Paddy lives and works. I've still yet to hear from The Ballerina but I'm not too worried there since her job takes place way overhead. Plus, the Japanese embassy in London reported that there hasn't been any news of any Japanese injuries. The US and Canada have stepped up their security for their transportation systems; but I haven't heard anything similar for Japan although I think people here rely on the trains even more than anywhere else.

However, life must go on. The bed arrived yesterday a couple of hours before I left for work. It's a big sucker. I'm gonna have to try to install it sometime before I leave for The Teacher in a few hours. It'll be a bit of a struggle since I have to wrestle out three mattresses AND a base mattress that would be fit for a Western bed. But I'm not gonna kill myself over it. If I cannot do it today, there's always Saturday night.

I will actually have my weekly outing to the gym after The Teacher. I may have more opportunities next week. In fact, my week may be even lighter than this week. SIL just cancelled her lesson next Monday. And then there's no Beehive on Tuesday. I have a very rare Wednesday off since The Hawaiian is now history and 001 can't make it for her regular class. And of course, I only have night classes on Thursdays nowadays. Not sure how next Friday will shape up.
Thursday July 7, 9:10 p.m.

Well, a real European drama is playing out in the UK. First, yesterday London was celebrating getting the 2012 Olympics and now I just find out that it got wracked by a series of terrorist bombs. I've sent messages off to Paddy and The Ballerina who live there just to make sure they're OK. Man, as for Paddy...he was there in NYC on 9/11, now in London on 7/7. The whole scene on CNN and BBC reminds me of the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo a decade ago.

Can't really say anything after that...but I'm a bit concerned about what could happen on the Tokyo subways tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Thursday July 7, 10:07 a.m.

It's Tanabata Day in Japan. Y' lovers and all that. Nothing to do with me although I'll be seeing my fair share of trees covered in multi-coloured strips of paper with wishes on them.

Well, as soon as I finished my chat with the alumna, I got back onto the Net and decided to go for that ticket for Star Wars. The site at Roppongi Hills was very user-friendly. I didn't even break out in a bead of sweat. I decided to go the deluxe route and went for a seat in the Premier theatre of the Virgin multiplex. It cost me 3000 yen...yup a good 75% more than the usual high-priced ticket but not only is it reserved but the seat looks a damn site cushier....just like a seat in first-class. And hey, it is Star Wars. Actually, I went for the very first show at 9 a.m. so there were plenty of seats available; the afternoon shows were of course the crowded ones. In a way, I was a bit disappointed since there may not be all that holler and cheering in the morning show but the deed's been done.

Just gonna get some laundry done and hope that the bed gets here within a few hours. In the meantime, I have to plan for my two lessons tonight.
Wednesday July 6, 11:32 p.m.

Another long day. I went down to Roppongi Hills to see if I would have any more success in getting a ticket for Star Wars on Saturday. Well, the clerk told me that advance tickets would only be sold a full 48 hours before the release day. Argh!

I ended up going up to Shinjuku for a late lunch. I went to Maharajah next to the Kinkos again. But the buffet was done so I went for a Tandoori Platter. The waiter was about to advise me on getting something a bit more with carbs but my stupid mouth immediately blurted out that it was OK and I was fine with my choice. Yup, the Platter contained two pieces of Tandoori Chicken, two pieces of fish and 2 sausages. No curry, no rice and just a smattering of onions. It was all good but it would have been nice if I'd had some carbohydrate representation. I felt like I was eating an Atkins Diet version of an Indian lunch. But my mouth decided to act before my brain did. Since I came in at 3, I was the only customer in the restaurant. Although I missed out on the buffet, I think there's some benefit in getting in late. I got some complementary double portion of chocolate cake for dessert.

I went across the street to Kinokuniya to find some texts for The Manager's first real lesson tomorrow. I did get the New Interchange. I couldn't find the business text of choice since the book itself is so old that it's probably out of print. Instead, I got something a bit more slick. It should be OK for him. Man, I really shucked out the yen for the material including a tape cassette. Luckily, I'll be recouping half of it from The Manager.

Got to Speedy's. No food with me this time since all that protein would stay with me for the rest of the evening. My lesson with 001 was fine although I was getting a hint of "Haruhiko Fatigue" from her by the end of the session. So it was good that she wouldn't be able to come next week due to work. A little absence is always good. I may be heading for Speedy's Sunday cooking lesson on the 31st.

I got a rather short-notice announcement from The Homecoming Queen. Looks like her new hubby, The Quarterback, is having a birthday party on Friday. I haven't seen the group since Chip Guy's return during Golden Week. The planners seem to be slumming it a bit in terms of venue. They're holding it at El Torito, that Mexican chain. Then again, PH isn't planning this do. She always goes for the high-grade, high-cost places.

My social calendar seems to have been filling up tonight. I've got the birthday party, the little cookoff at Speedy's on the 31st and I just finished a long chat with one of my old students who's told me of another party on the 24th.

I'm gonna have to send a fax over to that household ware company that's sending the bed tomorrow. I just want to make sure that they bring the bed by 5 at the very latest since I've got head on out for The Manager's lesson.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Wednesday July 6, 9:41 a.m.

I got my wake-up call this morning from a ring from The Matron. Yesterday, I'd gotten the message from that store saying that my new bed frame had come in and that they would like to arrange a delivery day. Unfortunately, they never left a phone number. So I sent an SOS to The Matron via her daughter's e-mail. Well, I got all the information so I'll give those guys a call now.

In another piece of news concerning contacts, for the past several weeks, a former student has been trying to contact me via phone but she never leaves her phone number or addresss so that I cannot return the call. Well, I know that The Songbird is the only other teacher I know who's kept in better contact with her. But I didn't know HER contact address. So I sent another SOS to SR and The Delta. Luckily, the latter person got back to me with a lead. Now, I hope the Songbird will complete the circle.
Tuesday July 5, 11:16 p.m.

Not too sticky today thankfully and we even got a spritzer of rain during the juku lessons tonight. I only have the fan on right now.

The juku classes were a bit more even in execution tonight. The New Kid buttoned down and gave me a pretty decent performance. The Poppy didn't show up tonight. According to the boss, she's probably gonna be doing her fair share of no-shows since she isn't really all that keen on studying English. Oh, joy! She's just gonna wreak havoc with the balance of my class with the Milds for kicks. In any case, I was rather grateful since I could actually progress a bit more quickly with the couple tonight.

I finally got word from Paddy. As I'd thought, his main computer crashed so he only got my second message via his Blackberry. He's in the middle of studying for bar exams so he won't be getting anything out to me before next week. That's fine with me.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Tuesday July 5, 12:56 p.m.

Well, the heat's back on, and so is the air conditioner. The Beehive was its usual genki self. I actually will have a day off from them next Tuesday since their old teacher will be coming back for a rare stint with them.

Gotta get ready for the juku tonight. Now that I've got three kids below 20 amongst my group, it's been a bit harder getting plans made up. The New Kid is now coming in a bit later than usual so I may have to crack the whip a bit for him. Hopefully, The Siberian will be continuing his new and improved attitude. I'm still trying to get the right balance between The Poppy and The Milds.

Now that I don't have to worry about The Hawaiian anymore, I'm pretty much free and clear until the evening when it comes to Wednesdays. I'll probably hit the gym tomorrow, then see if I can pick up that ticket for "Revenge of the Sith" at Roppongi Hills for Saturday morning (fat chance!), and finally search for a Business English text and get a grammar text for The Manager's lesson on Thursday night.
Monday July 4, 9:37 p.m.

It's ironic, isn't it? Last week, Western Japan was dying of thirst. The weather gods overhead, in all their Machiavellian glee. have therefore inundated the area with tons of water for the past few days. Tokyo got its fair share this morning but now things have settled down.

Speaking of things not settling down, The Class Act once again brought up the topic of the Big One. Looks like there was another one of those documentaries last weekend on the inevitable huge earthquake that will swallow Tokyo. News about the Big One pops up periodically like an infestation of flies over my garbage area during the summer. The city is now almost 20 years overdue for one; some people say that Kobe got the short straw and got hit with the Big One instead 10 years ago. I'm pretty fatalistic about it...if it comes with the dreaded magnitude that the experts say it will, then there's really nothing anyone will be able to about it. I'm not saying that I'll be cool as a cucumber when it finally strikes...I have no idea how I'll react when it hits.

Well, not only did I get a so-called Ochugen gift from the parents of the two sisters in the form of gift certificates on Sunday, but it looks like I have become the proud owner of a collapsible paulownia bed frame, courtesy of the Matron. A few weeks ago, she espoused on the wonders of this contraption whose wood can absorb a lot of humidity making it ideal as construction material for closets and chests of drawers. I recall saying it was interesting. Apparently, the Matron took that as a signed deal. The frame is on its way...for free. The Matron coyly told me to treat it as her Ochugen. Well, that's great...I'm not sure if it will fit into my room, though. I'm not even sure if I'll be here long enough to enjoy it properly.

Lunch was once again supplied at the house but this time, it wasn't Chef who provided the yummies but the lead housekeeper. I had some of her homemade hot soba with pickles and fresh fruit with an espresso to finish it off (still felt sleepy during SIL's lesson, though). I'm constantly struck at the hospitality that I've been given over the 2 years since I started teaching at the Lady's house. I mean, the Lady is a wealthy woman and yet, she and her staff have been nothing but kind and generous to me. Maybe it's a bit of reverse snobbery on my part, but I'd always felt that the rich were above us peons and made sure that we knew it.

For The Company, it was the Junior's classmate. He told me that he'd gone and seen "Revenge of the Sith" at the last preview at midnight Saturday before its official opening this weekend. I internally sighed. Earlier, I also found out that the Stick, a huge SW fan, had also caught her favourite movie a couple of days ago. And even earlier, there was even the Barmaiden's first sighting. There's nothing more depressing than on hearing that your peers have seen the most anticipated movie this year days before you do. Well, at least, Junior's colleague was able to whittle away the remaining time talking about the movie.

After some hemming and hawing, I decided to have dinner over at Hansens, that hot dog place, not too far away from The Company. I really have to do something about my ordering skills. I just wanted to get the 2-dog set with fries and drink; I ended up getting another order of fries and another oolong tea. The scary thing was that the server didn't blink twice on giving me a double set despite that I was a party of one. Even scarier was that I was able to polish everything off easily.

Well, back at home now. I'm taping the last program for my parents and then I'll be able to send the latest visual package off for home.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Monday July 4, 7:27 a.m.

Well, kinda forgot that it's the Fourth of July. Mind you, the only country that cares hasn't reached that day yet.

It's gonna be a rainy one all day today. Y'know what they say about rainy days and Mondays...I can just hear that ol' Carpenters tune right now. Just my luck that I'd left my best collapsible umbrella back on the subway yesterday. But thousands end up the same way every day. If the lost and found departments were magically turned into banks, they would become the world's largest funds bar none.

The Matron's daughter sent in the message that she's got a fever so my week's gonna be that much lighter. At least I can get home at a decent hour. With my feeling about the kids, I'm kinda wondering if I should be dumping all of the teens. Believe me, I wasn't too enthused about The New Kid last week. I wouldn't be too sad if he decided to cancel out this week.

Well, Fuji-TV actually put out some stuff about the Live 8 concerts this morning. Y'know...just for those millions of folks who may have never heard about this worldwide effort over the weekend.
Sunday July 3, 8:53 p.m.

Once again when I got to the kids' house, the elder sister did another sudden pullout...ostensibly due to her midterms. I hadn't been aware that she was so diligent (I'm being sarcastic here). When the mother told me, I started getting yellow alert signs flashing in my head; Mom mentioned that she chewed her daughter about it but I'm starting to wonder if the elder has finally had enough of me. The younger sister still made it out but now that I'm nearing the end of her textbook, I'm starting to think it may be time to wrap up things with this family now that the younger sister will be heading off to Australia as well. Even the younger one has started to show signs of Haruhiko fatigue. Well, I'm gonna think about it over the first half of this week and if I still feel the same way, I'll send a warning letter out to the mother.

Afterwards, I checked out Akihabara. Looks like "Cruising The Anime City" had an effect on me. The main street was closed down to vehicular traffic as is usually the case on Sundays but I saw quite a bit more than usual when it came to the pedestrian traffic. I saw a young girl dressed up in some purple anime get-up singing some sort of anime song with a gaggle of admiring men surrounding her. Meanwhile, on the other side of the boulevard, there was a girl dressed up in a high school uniform just flinging herself around in some sort of anarchic dance. There were some other events going on in the streets. I even saw a maid handing out flyers...probably for that maid cafe.

The "Star Wars" marathon continues. Last Friday, it was "The Phantom Menace" on NTV. Now, it's "A New Hope" on TV Asahi, and then "Attack of the Clones" this Friday on NTV. And here I thought NTV Fridays were always known for just showing Miyazaki films. I'm trying to see if I can get a ticket for "Revenge of the Sith" at Roppongi Hills for this coming Saturday since the kids' classes have been re-scheduled again for this Sunday. But the theatre still refuses to sell any tickets online until 2 days before the release day, and the theatre only takes credit cards. I'm still not too trusting of credit card purchases on the Net. TV Asahi still follows the tradition of all the other commercial stations and shamelessly cuts and snips away at the movies it shows.

It's gonna be a rather quiet week, although Monday and Tuesday will be the usual slog. Wednesday and Thursday will just have night classes while Friday will only be The Teacher. Maybe I'll catch "War of the Worlds" then. Looks like I'll have plenty of time for the gym this week.