Saturday, July 16, 2005

Sunday July 17, 7:45 a.m.

It was another nice and quiet Saturday night at home. It seems like all the action is happening on Sundays now. But I can get accustomed to this state of affairs. Just did the usual thing for a single guy on the edge of his 40s: made dinner, did crosswords and listened to jazz. No, nowhere near cool but also nowhere near the dreaded oyaji label either.

And so why am I up so early on a Sunday morning. Well, I do have my second stab at "Revenge of the Sith" today. Plus, it is another Pancake Sunday and I take time making that breakfast. With the fan on, it feels just a little cooler than it must be outside. But the humidity is still ever present.

As a watcher of CNN, I will have to admit to a bit of shame. I have only just noticed that the "American Morning" set seems a bit emptier than usual. Then I realized that Bill Hemmer and Jack Cafferty haven't been around. At first, I thought Mr. Blow Dry was off on another one of his vacations when I checked out on the Internet to see that both he and Cranky Cafferty had left the building over a month ago. What the--? Tells you how much of that program I'd been seeing lately. To be honest, I never quite warmed up to the group. Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien seemed to hit me as a bit artificial and Cafferty was just annoying. Since the producers of the program seem to be in some major housecleaning mode, I could also suggest that they get rid of "90-Second Pop"! Frankly, it's bad enough that I have to read some of the reviews from these unctuous critics...and then I have to see them on the air. As for the new guy, Miles O'Brien...well, let's say that I prefer his namesake on "Deep Space Nine" better.

It seems like CNN has been undergoing some major overhaul recently. Not only has "American Morning" gone under staffing changes, but it looks like a number of programs have been jettisoned according to what I've seen and not seen lately. "The Capital Gang" and "Inside Politics" are gone. I could actually like the two shows but I can understand the reason behind their ousters. All of the major CNN programs are already heavy on the political news. And then there is the spectacular meltdown of "Crossfire". Oh, how I would hear the bombastic theme song of CNN's tribute to WWF and then promptly switch to BBC. If Jon Stewart is ever forgotten for all of his stuff from "The Daily Show", he will be still remembered as the guy who brought down this lousy program like an enormous dart pricking a gigantic hot-air balloon. It was amazing to check the Yahoo Search Engine and see all of the listings for this incident. I wouldn't be surprised if this October 2004 show became one of the Top 10 TV moments in history. However, I have to disagree with one critic's article; she stated that Jon was just being successfully satirical a la his character on "The Daily Show" and that the two idiots, Begala and Carlson, just fell for the trap. No, I think the critic was just flying a little too high on her flight of fancy. The simple truth is that Stewart hated "Crossfire" with a passion and when he got invited, he used his opportunity to bring it down. The stuff he said, the incident that happened...the best scriptwriter in the world couldn't have made this.
Saturday July 16, 5:15 p.m.

Woof! Am I exhausted! Just between the usual exertions keeping students happy and having to deal with frigid interiors and the torrid outside was enough to sap me of energy.

The kids were OK today. I got a lot more out of the elder sister; perhaps the fact that she was already jazzed to head out for volleyball practice after the lesson may have given her that extra spurt. I've finally finished the vocabulary text with the younger sister after more than 2 years. But since she will be heading out to Oz later this month on homestay and I won't be having any lessons at the house for August, I'll wait til September to come up with the new text.

I did a recon out to Shinjuku in the blazing heat (although I did keep things cooler by using the underground passageways) just to see how the traffic for "Revenge of the Sith" was like at the Scala-Za, the theatre that The Madame, The Satyr and his girlfriend and I will be heading to tomorrow. It was about 12:20 and it looks like there were stil seats available for the 1:20 show so I think the meeting time should be good enough.

Couldn't find anything for lunch in Shinjuku (Foo Foo was too busy) so I just ended up having it at this corner healthy food eatery near Ichigaya Station. I used to go to its predecessor for lunch often during my days with the school. Then I headed up to the Tea Room. M + M were feeling mighty cold inside as the air conditioning took on very chilly proportions. Even I was starting to drowse out by the end so we stopped things early.

I'm expecting another package to be delivered here for shipping off to the Anime King. And I know that summer is truly here now that this year's premiums schedule for National Health Insurance has arrived. I'm rather dreading how much I have to pay for the next several months.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Saturday July 16, 5:49 a.m.

Yep, up and at 'em (Atom Ant). I've gotten up with the birds so that I can make it out for a 9:30 session with the kids. Fortunately, I got things planned yesterday afternoon so I can afford to be a bit leisurely right now. Not too hot right now but it's plenty humid. I've had the fan on all night.

It was a bit weird heading out at 6 in the evening. It felt like going to my juku except that I was heading far further for far fewer hours. It was for what is turning out to be increasingly rarer meetings with the OL. At the Starbucks, the woman who took my order was the one who seems to often screw up my order. She and her cohorts seemed a bit giggly with me...something I've never too comfortable with. I am a natural comedian but ironically when I don't know why the laughs are coming, I get rather tense. Well, it doesn't matter...I won't be seeing the Starbucks all that often anymore.

When the OL did come, she was certainly a different sight. She looked very stressed and for the first half hour, I was once again in the counselor mode. I thought it would be the second Friday in a row that I had to witness a student tearing up in front of me (I do seem to elicit emotions of various types these days from my students). However, the OL managed to hold things together as she related how much she hated her new position and her company. I was careful not to throw an avalanche of advice on her as all men are wont to do (the only thing I learned from that book on relationships that I'd gotten during my own erstwhile relationship); I just listened and gave her one piece of advice: if things continue to be that rough, she should consider leaving. She has skills and experience which could be put to better use at a better company. In any case, I won't be seeing her again until our Eel Day with Betty in a couple of weeks.

That session, along with the rush hour ride home and hearing a woman chewing out her brat put me in a fairly Dark Side mood, so I just listened to an hour of jazz before hitting bed. I hope today is a bit better.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Friday July 15, 1:39 p.m.

Yep, I'm back in my apartment in air conditioned comfort. We're definitely back to sunny and hot days. The undershirt I'm currently wearing is drying out. You must be thinking, "Are you nuts wearing an undershirt in 30-degree plus weather?!". Yes, when I first got here, I too eschewed undershirts during the blazing summers in Tokyo until one day one of my business students remarked that the lowly undergarment does soak up the sweat. I must admit that during my days of going quarter-commando, it did look rather unseemly to have my dress shirt stick to my skin and reveal, albeit translucently, my unimpressive thorax. And so since then I've been saving my students a lot of visual grief and wearing my Hanes under my shirts even in this torrid weather. And actually, I've gotten quite used to it. My undershirts might peel off like sticky candy apple wrappers when I get home but my dress shirts are relatively nice and dry.

Today's topic with The Teacher was on some obscure Andy Garcia movie she'd seen recently. Called "The Man From Elysian Fields", ol' Andy plays a struggling novelist who is forced to take work as an escort at a place, Elysian Fields, run by...get this...Mick Jagger! I tell you, the folks who brought us "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" ought to update this game to have Garcia at the core. I don't know of too many actors who have starred with a ton of other A-listers, the lead singer of The Rolling Stones, AND Japanese TV personality, Takaaki Ishibashi. Sir Anthony Hopkins (remember "Freejack"?) comes close but he hasn't starred with anyone from this nation. The Teacher and I also got into "Star Wars" since her hubby is also a big fan. The two of us were talking about why Haley Joel Osmont and Leonardo DiCaprio were NOT selected for the two versions of Anakin Skywalker. Well, Osmont was flat-out rejected by Lucas (probably too talented for Lucas to handle), and DiCaprio probably fled from the script as if it were a rabid skunk. The Teacher then talked about Natalie Portman's distinguished turn as a Harvard grad. I rather floored her when I told her that Yale grad, Jodie Foster, was a hair's width away of taking on Princess Leia. I probably would have killed her if I'd told her about Foster's connection with the Coppertone baby girl.

Movie Buddy sent me a cellphone message stating that The DJ, a man who I haven't seen in several months, might be up to catching Episode 3. That would be a big thing for The DJ since he's been pretty much tied down taking care of his daughter.

I guess I can start off my new "Philosophy in Japanese Advertising" series. My first adage is from a very necessary everyday product: "This is soft touch and comfortable toilet roll paper. This makes your life clean and happy." Hmmm...I'd like to know what the company meant by "life".
Friday July 15, 8:03 a.m.

First sunny morning in almost a week. And the temps are going up accordingly. I've already got the air conditioner on.

I made my first trip to the Tea Room in over a week since it had turned out that I didn't have any students scheduled last week...something the manager cheerfully noted when she served me last night. I asked her if things had been busy, but she ruefully replied that the place was in a bit of a downturn in terms of customers recently. She's just grateful that regulars like me do come in often enough to keep things going. It would be a great pity if the Tea Room, a place that I've been frequenting for over half a decade, would go the way of the dodo. In any case, The New Yorker was still disappointingly slow; obviously she doesn't do much practicing outside of her twice-monthly lessons. Her sister was as dutiful as ever though.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Thursday July 14, 11:11 a.m.

Another overcast day...seems to be the meterological theme of the week. At least, I got another good night's sleep....had to put on the robe again to keep warm, as unbelievable as that may sound in this city at this time of year.

Movie Buddy officially confirmed what I'd already known about Sunday. He's off to the seaside with his girl. Looks like he's been having a pretty light week, schedule-wise, as well...and he's still offiicially with the ol' school. But the Madame has confirmed her attendance for Sunday. Still not sure whether it'll be a good idea for her to see "Revenge of the Sith" or not. It's increasingly looking like it'll just be the two of us since Skippy has yet to reply.

I also got some word from The Stick. Looks like she's been starting out on a pretty good note at her new job.

Well, I won't be going to the gym today. I've gotta get those lesson plans for The New Yorker and The Carolinan made up, and wipe down all the surfaces in my apartment after seeing a baby cockroach skittering (the best word to describe its movement) in my kitchen last night. I think I took care of it with a blast of repellant. As for the gym, my arms are still aching which makes me wonder if I did overdo it on Tuesday. And it looks like my scale has a distinctively Machiavellian streak. After a week of not going to the gym, my weight balloons up 4 kg, and then after 2 consecutive days of workout, it goes down again over 2 kg.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Wednesday July 13, 10:49 a.m.

Happy Birthday to Patrick Stewart and Akina Nakamori! Talk about your cross-pop-cultural references.

Well, in all my years here, I've never experienced a morning like this one. It is approaching the middle of July and I actually had to reach for my robe to cover myself since it felt so chilly. Usually by this time, I've got my fan on all night. And back on Sunday evening, that's what I needed to do. Quite the opposite today. Pretty chilly high temperature, only 23 C.

I gather that I have a few hours before I head on out to the gym for some more punishment. My muscles are feeling pretty sore right now...but that's a good thing, isn't it? Torn fibers are mending into stronger versions of themselves and all that. My upper body certainly feels more inflamed than usual.

Knock on wood...looks like I'll be having that full day off. Speedy, do not call.
Wednesday July 13, 12:58 a.m.

Rather weird...I knew something was up when I, strangely enough, DID NOT get redscreened with that virus notice I'd been getting two or three times for the past couple of days. Then when I decided to do my Live Update from Norton, the process just wrapped up far faster than usual with the message stating that I didn't need it. And then I did a Symantec WinDoctor scan; it actually came across two problems which I solved, and then after that I did a final Antivirus scan to find there was no more virus. I tracked down the offending file to find out that it was no longer offensive. Well, I won't gripe about it.

I got word back from The Madame. No, she won't be able to see me tomorrow since she's still jetlagged. But I'm not too disappointed since I think I would cherish the rare opportunity to be at home all day in the middle of the week. However, she will see me for Sunday's trip to see "Revenge of the Sith" again. I was a bit surprised that she would come for that. Mind you, she did mention that she has only seen "A New Hope" and expressed concern that she would need to see the others. I reassured her that she wouldn't...and frankly she shouldn't...need to see the other movies since Obi-Wan Kenobi basically referenced all the events in Episode 3 in that brief scene in his Tatooine house. The Satyr also got back to me. He's not too sure yet; he may have plans on that day but he'll let me know ASAP.

Well, I can sleep in and I can still head out to the gym in the afternoon. I may need to get some new shelving to accomodate my burgeoning collection of textbooks.
Tuesday July 12, 11:16 p.m.

Well, my sin of sloth last week has cost me an increase of 4 kg when I went back to the gym today. Man, back to the drawing board.

Last year at this time, I was probably blogging about the persistent heat wave that we were all under last summer. Well, it's been a different story so far this year. Yesterday was a hot humid mess but, I've got my windows open for air conditioning. It's been pretty cool here. I'm sure metabolisms have been getting a beating.

The juku classes went as smoothly as can be expected. I haven't heard anything from The Madame or Speedy so I'm assuming that I'm gonna be keeping it to the neighbourhood tomorrow...aside from visiting the gym again. I have some catching up to do.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Tuesday July 12, 8:30 a.m.

The fan did the trick. I kept pretty cool and got well rested....well, rested for 6 hours of sleep anyways. It's pretty overcast out there. May get a few spritzers out there.

MB got back to me. He didn't say it directly but I could pick up the message that he's definitely pulling out of the 17th. He's heading over to the "in-laws" this weekend. I haven't heard anything from The Satyr either; I can only assume that his girl is also tugging on his leash. Skippy has also yet to reply but she usually takes her time in doing that.

I'm currently watching Anderson Cooper 360 and the title character's annual tradition of being in the path of a hurricane. Apparently, CNN has been putting his "moment of truth" scene on heavy rotation. Y'know...the one where he and fellow journo John Zarrella watch in awe as the Ramada Inn sign collapses in front of their eyes? Sorry, my cynical armour has just popped up. I'm sure being in that storm was a fairly terrifying experience and if I or some other civilian were in that situation, I would probably be doing something that I haven't done since I was five. But Mr. Cooper, as I said, seems to be the go-to guy every year when it comes to hurricanes, and I'm sure he's seen his fair share of houses and signs being torn apart by Nature's fury. So seeing this "moment of truth" scene just seemed like so much Hollywoodization. Probably won't be getting that Xmas card from him this year.
Monday July 11, 9:20 p.m.

I see that BLOGGER finally updated my number of posts. I'd thought I would always remain stuck at 425 posts..the blogger version of Jack Benny (probably most of you can't imagine who I'm referencing).

Well, summer was back today. Pretty hot and blazing. I was reaching for those mentholated wipes big time during the day. I knew that things were gonna get hot when I woke up sweating. Looks like from tonight, the fan goes on night duty for the next couple of months. That should keep the boys at TEPCO nice and happy.

I only had The Matron today for her lesson. And I got some Beethoven pages from her daughter for translation. Looks like I may be putting that extra free time this week to good use.

I went up to Huang Viet for another shot at their buffet. But this time, I was rather disappointed. The food seemed to have gone into warmed-over leftover stage. Nothing particularly all that great about the selection. But then again, I think every buffet I've been to has had that sophomore jinx...and that includes the late, great Farm Grill. Still, I got rather bloated; my stomach felt as hard as a rock when I left. It certainly didn't help that there was very little air conditioning.

After that very filling lunch, I walked through the shimmering heat and made my way over to Tower Records at the southern exit of Shinjuku Station, mostly for proper air conditioning and a good washroom. Now that Star Wars has finally landed here, the top floor which contains the soundtracks and magazines was playing all the familiar John Williams themes. I did fall prey to the Dark Side and bought a Premiere magazine and then plodded my way across Shinjuku to the Starbucks near The Company and sipped on a Tazo Chai Tea Latte for half an hour for some thirst relief.

I only had Junior's classmate again. We've started on a new text which is one of my old business texts unlike the Side By Side grammar texts I'd used on them for the past couple of years. He wasn't too bad considering the sudden change in pace. For the last ten minutes, though, we got into a rather serious discussion about how safe Tokyo is considering what had happened in London last week. We both agreed that it wasn't a matter of "if" but "when". Despite the stringent screening (supposedly) at ports like Narita Airport, I think sleeper cells could exist in Tokyo and bombs aren't all that difficult to make within borders. We both shuddered when we thought of such a device going off at Shinjuku Station during rush hour. The casualties would most likely be a lot higher than those in London (remember, this is a city whose transportation system embraces the term "200% overcapacity"), and the hysteria could go way overboard. Japan has always had a latent streak of xenophobia...not on an individual-by-individual level but just on a societal one, and with the current siege mentality as a lot of its neighbours are not being too kindly disposed toward this current government, well...I'm a little concerned. I go through life here daily wondering about the probablilites of not just the big overdue earthquake but also our own initiation into the club of terrorist-affected countries.

Got home tonight. Yup, my place was back on oven mode. So my air conditioner is back on full. I was grateful to see that my mattresses were indeed taken away along with the cardboard. When I'd left this morning, I still saw them there despite the passing of the pickup hour of 8 a.m. so I got a little annoyed at how anal the pickup guys were. But they're gone so I'm happy.

I got word from Movie Buddy about the possibility of heading out next Sunday to see "Revenge of the Sith". We've both forgotten that there is a long weekend coming up so he and the Sylph may be heading out to her folks. I was then kind of wondering if I should just postpone the entire operation then and there when I got word from The Madame who's just come back from her whirlwind North American trip that she would be OK for Sunday. Still gotta hear from Skippy.

Well, I gotta get started on tomorrow's lessons. I won't have the Beehive, a very rare occasion, but August is coming up which means that I'll have a 1-month hiatus from them. I'll get that rubdown in during the morning, pick up that blanket from the cleaners, and perhaps do a bit of translating before hitting the gym. I just hope the juku boss hasn't already found some students for Tuesday afternoon. I'm also wondering if Speedy will throw me a demo lesson in lieu of 001's cancellation on Wednesday.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Monday July 11, 7:37 a.m.

Well, it's a rather mixed bag outside in terms of weather right now. I hope that it doesn't rain although the forecast said yesterday that it would rain later today. I'm currently doing a large load of laundry right now. I finally got rid of all that cardboard that had been cluttering the space between the fridge and the kitchen cabinets for over 6 months. I am also hoping that the garbage folks don't get too picky about how I tied up the cardboard pieces and the mattresses for that matter. The manual that the apartment management company had sent on garbage disposal struck me as being somewhat anal. My big beef about garbage disposal isn't so much that than having neighbours "secretly" sneaking their own garbage to our own area so that it can be taken care of faster. It would seem for some bizarre reason that our garbage disposal area has a different schedule from the apartment just 5 metres down the street!

Not too harried to get things done although I'm now looking at a large damp pile of clothes on my sofa. Luckily, the weather report has been revised so that it'll now be just cloudy with only a 10% chance of rain.

Movie Buddy has gotten back to me about catching "Revenge of the Sith" on the 17th so I'm ready to see it for the second time. I've sent out the call to The Satyr and The Madame although I think the latter probably won't bite.

As it turns out, I'll only have The Matron and The Company today. Nice to have a light load on Monday for a change.
Sunday July 10, 9:03 p.m.

Had the sisters today. Not too bad. The elder sister is about as enthused as a damp sponge but she did her duty...I'm sure with some prodding from Mom. The younger sister was a bit more on the ball. All in all, I'm happy that I didn't send in my resignation notice that I'd been thinking about last week.

What I'm not happy about is that my computer was attacked by four viruses in the last few days. I did some Norton Antivirus on both regular and Safe modes and managed to get rid of three of them but I still have to contend with the one stubborn Trojan Desktop Hijack B. It seems to have embedded itself into a critical file so I've sent out an SOS to some of my more computer-literate buddies.

Got a message from Movie Buddy. He wanted to find out what I was up to. Then I got e-mail from the OL. Looks like she's a lock for Friday but the rest of July is a scratch for her.

I've got a bit of household duty ahead of me. Gotta throw out a ton of cardboard along with some old clothing and books. And I'm finally pitching out a couple of old mattresses which have been with me for the past decade. Their time has come.