Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sunday September 18, 9:58 a.m.

Thought I wasn't going to make an entry until after coming back from Namjatown. But then my curiosity on our hotel in Taipei got the better of me so I decided to do a bit of research. I saw a number of sites which showed the Paradise Hotel with photos and the usual description of services and amenities. I was rather surprised to see how much the hotel had considering the very spartan description on the document that I'd gotten from the Tobu Travel Guy. Then again, I am going to be on a Japanese tour; there probably won't be any time to enjoy any of those things. The hotel boasts the most luxuriously appointed in-house karaoke suite in Taipei. I also read a review dated 2003 in which the fellow said that the Paradise was a decent hotel but the rooms were dark and humid. Cave dwelling? Hopefully, things have improved since the prehistoric days of the early 21st century.

Speaking of humidity, it's feeling pretty sweaty in my own place right now. I gather that means it'll be another hot one out there.
Sunday September 18, 1:26 a.m.

Yep, home after a long day. I think Tokyo is in Festival mode this long weekend. The Kiba mall usually has some sort of street performer in front of the Starbucks I teach at, but today there was a jazz combo belting out Dixieland. Not surprisingly, it was all for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Would've loved to have taken digital pics of that and sent them into CNN. Japan cares! JJ was her usual happy self.

I joined up with The Madame at Ikebukuro afterwards to get the itineraries for Taiwan in 10 days. The guy there did confirm that it would be better to not drink the tap water and stick to the Evian instead. What we take for granted... I paid the incidental costs for insurance, fuel and all that in what turned out to be quite an expensive day for me.

We had a bit of a small lunch to eat at the upstairs Fujiya on the restaurant floor of the Tobu Department Store. The Madame was right when she said that the old family restaurant franchise had improved its cuisine. The salad and pasta were quite good. The latter was even al dente. The Madame and I basically talked somewhat on her long interest in spiritual matters such as remote viewing. I'm keeping an open mind about it despite my healthy skepticism about things like that. In fact, what she told me about it rather reminded me of the premise behind "Orion's Arm", that epic sci-fi website I've been visiting lately.

Raced down to the Shinjuku Picadilly to meet Speedy. That woman who had drunkenly tried to pick me up on the cruise a couple of weeks ago was there. I was a bit worried at first that she was quite cool to me but she was OK although her outgoing nature was definitely more tempered last night than the first time I'd met her during my first Speedy Movie Night. There was one more woman from the other night as well but that was it. Just five of us. And we had a bit of a surprise in that "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was practically sold out. There was only standing room available. Even the discount ticket shop behind the theatre had sold all of its tickets for that movie. So we made a quick decision to watch "Cinderella Man" instead. Yesterday was its premiere but it got a far smaller audience. From what I'd heard of its performance in the States, it seems like Russell Crowe's latest may also be quite anemic here.

And that would be a pity that I wouldn't understand since it was a pretty good flick. It was a Ron Howard movie so the story direction was predictable: hero on top of the world at first, then hits bottom before crawling up the heap to victory again. It basically followed "Apollo 13" almost to a tee. But once again, "heart" came through. Crowe played a thoroughly decent guy and the other characters were very sympathetic...that is, with the exception of the near-sociopathic Max Baer. Didn't realize that Jethro's father was such a jerk. Or maybe that was just a bit of hyperbole on the part of the writers. Certainly, I don't think Baer's descendants would like how he was portrayed on film. But I digress. I think the movie succeeded, for me anyways, because all that 20s and 30s atmosphere wasn't allowed to overwhelm the core story. And I think Crowe's performance is deserving of a possible Oscar nom if only because his James Braddock made us forget for 2 hours what a jerk he can be in real life. I swear that Russell Crowe may be paralleling William Shatner's career, albeit Crowe has more talent. Crowe's last role as Captain Aubrey in "Master and Commander" just reminded me so much of Captain Kirk, and now the Crowe/Braddock dichotomy can compare to Shatner/Kirk. As I paraphrase the late James Doohan...Doohan would be very happy to follow the iconic Kirk to the ends of the universe but he would leave the vain and pompous Shatner in the dust.

But back to the review. Along with the performances, I also enjoyed watching the thrilling fight scenes and how the trainers simultaneously coached their charges. There were also a few standout dramatic scenes such as the first tearjerking one in which the once-proud Braddock goes literally hat in hand to get some cash from some of his old minders. The other was seeing how Braddock handled his son's stealing incident. One wouldn't be blamed if he thought the boxer would wallop his errant son. And yet, Braddock gave his son one of the most gentlest and wisest admonishments that would easily rival any disciplining that Charles Ingalls would give his kids on "Little House on the Prairie". Finally, I would have to say that despite the similar setting, Renee Zellwegger made us forget Roxy from "Chicago" and in fact made us forget her more iconic role as Bridget Jones. What didn't work was a superfluous subplot involving the Braddocks' neighbours in crisis, the Joneses. I couldn't really see any point to their inclusion except to emphasize the angelic decency of Braddock. Mind you, that subplot did educate me about what Central Park was like during The Great Depression.

The movie worked its magic on The Madame. She was tearing up at the end so I gave her my tissue. However, her love for Adonis physiques continues as she confessed that the really loved Craig Bierko as Max Baer. She even had me spell out his name on her cellphone screen for further reference. Well, for her information, we both underestimated his age. He's even older than me. At least one of the other ladies also confessed to some lacrymal activity but both women said that they felt more exhausted after watching the brutal scenes of pugilism. I told them that Rocky Balboa looked far worse in his first movie.

I'm not quite sure why "Cinderella Man" failed to make a big impact in the States and didn't do all that much in its first night here. I mean over here, the story would be perfect for Japanese viewers: the tale of a protagonist who has to go through Hell and Earth to reach final victory and vindication. But then again, Russell Crowe, although he's a known face here, doesn't hold a candle to Johnny Depp's flawless visage. And perhaps with the exception of "Gladiator" half a decade ago, his films haven't really caught fire here. As for its disappointing performance in the States, you got me. Perhaps Crowe's antics outside of the film have turned moviegoers off; perhaps, moviegoers have finally tired of boxing films going straight for Oscar greatness after "Million Dollar Baby" and "Ali".

Two final points about "Cinderella Man". Once again, Ron Howard brought in his brother-as-filmic trademark. Clint Howard came in as the referee in the first match. And I was rather tickled during the end credits when I saw that Ron Howard and Penny Marshall had produced the movie. Can you imagine that? Richie Cunningham and Laverne DeFazio putting up a movie. Or if you wanna go even further...Opie Taylor and Myrna Turner. Who would have thought that 30 years after their heydays on "Happy Days"?

After the flick, The Madame had to rush home but I decided in what wasn't the most sound of ideas financially to accompany Speedy and his two mates to a Thai restaurant, Erewan, not too far away. It was just as well that The Madame took off. The food was pretty darn spicy and I know that her tongue is far from asbestos-lined. I ended up paying 5000 yen for dinner tonight. Well, the food and surroundings were good, and besides, this movie night thing is more a monthly deal anyways.

It was the usual massive scrum at Shinjuku Station for the trains. My long experience and good twisty right knee, though, cut me through the horde like a knife through butter. I did envy my dinner companions, though, since they only had to take the Marunouchi Line a couple of stations west before they were home. On the Tozai Line, I had to contend with another one of those young thuggish types sitting beside me and trying to muscle as much space away from me. I held my own though and he just had to make do sullenly. I was thinking some very evil thoughts about his future all the way back home.

In any case, I've been at this for more than an hour. It's time for bed since I gotta head on out again for what could be a futile trip with The Beauty Pair to Namjatown.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Saturday September 17, 11:51 a.m.

In a word...lovely. The weather is looking that way outside: not too cool, not too warm, sunny with plenty of fluffy white cumulus clouds. Couldn't ask for a better day. In homage, I'll be wearing something a bit more casual for work and then meeting up with the Madame. Ah yes, not only did she agree to an earlier spot of coffee before Speedy's Movie Night but she recommended that we meet up to pay some of those incidentals at the travel agency and get our itineraries for Taiwan.

I just heard that Renee Zellwegger and her hubby have called it quits after just 4 months. She was just in Japan not too long ago to plug "Cinderella Man" which opens either today or next Saturday. There was a welcoming committee at Narita asking about and congratulating her on her marriage. Hmmm...something we said?
Friday September 16, 10:22 p.m.

Another week gone by without too much incident. The weather has become cooler here but it feels like my apartment has a bit of catching up to do. I have to have the AC on to cool things down.

After The Teacher's lesson, I made my way down to Immigration. The process had that "across the bridge, over the hill, to Grandma's house we go" type of vibe to it. But in this case, it was two subways, a JR train and a bus. Not surprisingly, the place was rather packed with waiting visa holders or aspirers of various nationalities. I wanted to pick up the "Extension of Visa" application form but they were no longer placed on the writing desks littered all over the 2nd floor. I had to go pick it up at a central desk on the 1st floor. There was an older couple taking care of things behind the counter in a most C-3POesque if polite way. It was kinda like watching the Japanese "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Ricky and Lucy" or "Archie or Edith". There was one woman ahead of me who seemed to be having a lot of trouble about her form and was therefore pelting the both of them with tons of questions. Luckily, the female half of the comical duo was able to wean herself out and get me that form in a few seconds.

Once I got out of there (including the round trip bus ride, the entire odyssey at Immigration took 45 minutes), I decided to have lunch at Hansens again. Yup, Shinagawa Station has its own version of the restaurant at the swanky new Konan Exit side. Unlike at the two other branches I've had hot dogs in Shinjuku and Omotesando, the Shinagawa branch, trying to match in with the upscale surroundings, was a sit-down restaurant replete with suited maitre d' and bloused waitresses (who looked like they hang out in Shibuya in their spare time despite the uniforms). Imagine that...a chi-chi sit-down hot dog restaurant. Well, I guess if it works for burgers... Apparently, this Hansens didn't have a Philly Steak sandwich on the menu. C'est domage! So I opted for the Cheese Dog set and one more plain hot dog on the side. The Cheese Dog was OK but I think I prefer having the cheese slices rather than the cheese sauce that I got smeared on the dog. Just a bit too gooey for me. The other dog came with plain potato chips.

Afterwards, I took the Yamanote Line again and headed for Shibuya. I actually made it to Tower Records after an absence of several weeks. I succumbed to my latent fever for 80s music and bought yet another compilation. Plus, I got the latest issue of TIME dealing with who dropped the ball on Katrina.. I also did a bit of browsing about Taiwan. I read one of those Lonely Planet books. I was rather intrigued by the fact that it recommended that we only drink bottled water there and there was a good chance of getting dengue fever unless one plastered on the insect repellent. Aye...that didn't sound too welcoming so I've sent an inquiry to The Anime King for confirmation. I also told him about what was happening to Akihabara.

After taking a brief scour of HMV since it was on the way back to the station, I hopped the Ginza Line and got off at Toranomon to my old Starbucks. Yup, the staff still remembers me. The manager and one barista gave me a healthy "Konnichiwa!", and the former asked what had happened to The OL and me. I just responded that things had gotten a bit busy for my student. Hm...I'm kinda wondering if I should try to groom the same relationship with them that I've had with the Tea Room all these years. I don't take these relationships for granted. I really do appreciate being welcomed. I just wish my old school staff had had the same amount of respect. But then again, if they'd had done so, I wouldn't be in my current circumstances.

The OL came in a few hours later. She's still not too happy with her job and the long absence from the lessons have taken a slight toll on her. Her listening wasn't too hot today but she definitely got in her two yen. Fortunately, she will see me next Friday on the national holiday (her company doesn't observe them...rather reminds me of NOVA). The Starbucks in Toranomon does observe them so we'll be meeting instead at the Canadian version called Blenz in Omotesando. Not quite sure what the crowds will be like next Friday. Since it will be the first day of a long weekend, perhaps a lot of people will be fleeing the metropolis or they'll just head for the cafes and restaurants in Tokyo. But since I'll be in town anyways teaching the kids in the morning, I figure that I can just grab a table a couple of hours in advance and just while away the time doing crosswords.

I got word from JJ that she'd like to advance the lesson time tomorrow to 2. No problems here. I just sent The Madame a proposal of meeting her earlier for coffee since I don't think 45 minutes will do us justice. I got signalled that a reply has come back from her. If she doesn't take the bait, well, I can always scour the CD shops or bookstores in Shinjuku until it's time.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Friday September 16, 8:05 a.m.

My shoulders feel as hard as granite, I've got a slight rasp in my throat and it's much cooler outside. I hope this means that Fall is finally on its way. After the heat and humidity of earlier this week, I'm feeling practically giddy with my physical ailments.

Well, I've got my teaching mixed in with some Immigration today. Gotta send that envelope to my mother's hometown town hall for some documents to help my Permanent Residency bid and then between The Teacher and The OL, I've gotta run down to the Immigration Centre and pick up an application form to extend my current visa. Man, I'm lucky that I have several hours between lessons but to go that circuituous way just to pick up a piece of paper...gahh! It's the commuter's version of bureaurcracy. I've yet to hear from The Matron of an update on her hubby's kind proposal. I know it's early but I hope she does come through.

The news hasn't been all that compelling here since the avalanche win of PM Koizumi. Just another report on how all the Japanese Major League ballplayers were doing, another bad police officer getting busted for copping (ouch!) a feel off a woman. However, I did see the televised chew out of the leadership of the Democratic Party of Japan by its members for its big meltdown on Sunday. The members seemed to take the opportunity as a practice session for future campaign speeches.
Thursday September 15, 9:32 p.m.

Strangely enough, it seems like this month, more than June, is the time for engagements and least in my sphere of influence. Not only has Yumi Adachi tied the knot...mind you, it was an Oops! wedding...but I heard that Movie Buddy's buddy, Sam, and his live-in, made it official a couple of days ago. And now the two students I had tonight announced to me that they're engaged. Yep, MK and the Manager are now one step away from matrimonial bliss. My congratulations to them.

Kept my first gym workout in a couple of weeks pretty light so as not to overtax my atrophied musculature, and for the blunt reason that I just wasn't feeling particularly into working out. But I am paying my money to the gym so I'm obliged to not waste it.

Still have some stuff to do before I hit bed tonight. I got my weekly pile of ironing to get through, get ready for The Teacher and the OL and then get ready to send out some key letters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Thursday September 15, 8:29 a.m.

Well, what do you know? The temperature did drop. I actually felt a little chilly with my electric fan going on. It's only going up to 27 today. Very relieved. I'm hoping that this day signifies more than the fact that it's the middle of the month.

However, I am feeling signficantly older. I read on the site of local celeb, Eriko Sato, that former child star, Yumi Adachi, has gotten married. When I first arrived in Japan a decade ago, this little girl, this Japanese reincarnation of Shirley Temple, was all over the airwaves as this sweet-smiling but snarly-mouthed urchin who would twist anyone's sympathies to survive in this drama called "Ienaki Ko" (A Homeless Child). Her big catchphrase: "If you love me, give me money!" Hm..charming. Now this morning, I checked the wide show and found out that this young adult who still looks like she needs to be carded has not only gotten married with some comedian but has got a bun in the oven. Oy vey!

I even have a secondhand reminiscence about little Yumi. One of my minders in NOVA told me that she had been her student for a short time at the Okachimachi school (a note to all Yumi otaku: don't bother looking for it; it was closed down years ago). Adachi never got past the lowest rank due to the rigours of her work. However, some of her rabid fans got wind of what she was doing and proceeded to mob the little branch. Well, Yumi quickly got out of her English-teaching hobby after that incident. My old trainer hadn't even realized how famous she was, at least not until the siege.

Well, gotta get those plans done up for MK and The Manager. It's been a while since I've seen those folks. Then I gotta get some more work done for the project.
Wednesday September 14, 11:33 p.m.

I feel not unlike a warmed-over Cinnabon. It was another blazer here in The Big Sushi. But apparently today will be the last of the great hot ones for at least this week. It should be dropping to a relatively frigid 30 degrees tomorrow.

Well, that trip over to Kinshicho was a wild goose chase. The optical store that The Teacher had recommended couldn't install existing lenses into new frames so that was that. Still, I could finally take a look at this centre briefly. With the atypical (for Tokyo) grid-like pattern of its streets and the cubic buildings jutting out into the sky, it felt more like walking through Sapporo than the nation's capital.

I hopped onto the Sobu again and ended up in Shinjuku. I walked over to have lunch at Hansen's, that transplanted hot dog emporium. Since it was the latter half of lunch hour, the place was pretty packed but a very happy, smiley staffperson eagerly told me that he saved me a table in the back. Man, THAT is service with a smile! Since I didn't want to get into that confusion of ordering a double-dog set since I've come to the conclusion that Hansen's has canned that idea, I ordered a Philly Cheese Steak set with an added hot dog on the side. Of course, the crinkle-cut fries were still there. The Philly was quite good but could've used more cheese. No complaints about the dog though.

Then it was off to the Starbucks nearest The Company since I got to the area a full hour before my scheduled drop-in at The Company to pick up my pay. When I did get there, it was a pretty quick chat with the Prez. Just a few words with him while I took in the yen and gave him the receipts and then I was off again to Speedy's.

Speedy had a rather bad day technologically. Apparently, a virus managed to infiltrate the school system and wipe out a month's worth of work. To add insult to injury, a fix-it man will have to repair the damage for a cool 70,000 yen. Still, I was able to get access to the Internet. 001 and 002 were fine as usual but I was quite sleepy. It took some pretty superhuman strength to get through the day but I also noticed 001 stifling yawns during the lounge session.

I spent about an extra hour getting stuff done for the great Immigration project. I didn't intend to stay at the school that long but when I checked my e-mail, Paddy was kind enough to do a lot of the legwork when it came to paperwork and so all I had to do was print it out and put my stamp on it. This past week has been interesting. My project is twin-pronged: Paddy and The Scrivener have been helping me with the Permanent Residency end of things while The Matron and my old friend from NOVA have been tackling the extension of my current visa. I'll be so happy, though, when things finally clear.

Skippy has given me some new addresses to replace her old ones since one of them was getting spammed big time. She's still confirmed for not coming to the Saturday movie night with Speedy. I told her it was just as well since it looks like it'll just be him, me and The Madame for "Charlie". The Barmaiden sent me a progress report on her first few days in Toronto. Looks like she's been having a good time so far. I told her and 002 about the wonders of The Madison Avenue Pub near U of T. Luckily, there was a website to refer them to.

I was hungry when I got back to my station. Serves me right for buying a chocolate eclair and a packet of peach jelly and calling it dinner. I couldn't get anything substantial at this late hour at the risk of waking up nauseous but my stomach was pretty adamant that I just had to throw something into it, so I ended up ingesting a small bag of peanuts and rice crackers while downing it with a Calpis Water. It ought to do the trick.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Wednesday September 14, 8:28 a.m.

Another scorcher today. At least, it won't get any hotter but 34 degrees is still 34 degrees. I think I'm gonna have to take another shower.

Although at this time I start teaching at 4, it'll probably be a long day since I gotta do some errand-running. Get some new frames for my glasses and then pick up some money from The Prez. I would have stopped at Akihabara to see if this metamorphosis were really true but I don't think I'm gonna have time. Besides, Wednesday isn't the day to visit to get the full effect. Sunday's the day but then again, I'm meeting up with The Beauty Pair on that day. Perhaps once I get the money, I'll treat myself to Hansens, that transplanted hot dog chain. I was talking about it with The New Kid so my culinary memory has been sparked.

Well, gotta get that lesson planning going.
Tuesday September 13, 11:25 p.m.

The heat was down a good deal when I left for the juku this afternoon. The climate may not be too disciplined but I can always depend on the seasonal angle of the sun to bring the temps down.

It was an interesting start to my night at the juku. When I got to the house, it was totally devoid of life. I had to go upstairs to switch on all the lights and the air conditioning. Man, was it a sauna there! The paranoid part of me thought that the boss took my notice too seriously and just wanted to escape from my sight. I was already into my class with The New Kid when she finally came back home. She burst into my room to tell me that her mother had needed some emergency surgery on her eye and so left in quite a hurry. But it looks like her Mom is on the mend.

The other two lessons, The Beauty Pair and The Milds with McGirl, went quite swimmingly. Much better balance in the latter class. I was also quite relieved that The Siberian had cancelled his lesson today. Still not sure what to do with that guy. Instead, I used the hour vacated by him to have a heart-to-heart with the boss about my situation. It was quite heartening to hear how much she wanted me to stay on with the juku since both she and I feel that if I were to go, my entire group of students would quit their classes. That would be a pity. So it looks like all of us are depending on The Matron to rescue me. As for The Beauty Pair, I'll be meeting them on Sunday to head over to check out all those massage places in Riraku no Mori in Namjatown. I hope we can get in. It is a Sunday after all, and not only that, it is also the middle day in the first 3-day weekend of the month.

Well, it looks like The Prez will be in the office tomorrow so I can pick up my pay. It would be nice to get my balance up above the million mark again. I'll probably head on over to The Company once I get my new frames in Kinshicho. At the very least, it'll be interesting visiting the area.

I actually got two replies back from The Coordinator. She says she'll try and help me. I'm not too hopeful for a response...quick or otherwise.

I need another shower badly.
Tuesday September 13, 4:17 p.m.

Well, I've spent most of the afternoon just planning lessons and listening to old music...a bit of a calm in what has been the small maelstrom of my visa. The curtains are drawn and the air conditioner has been on for a few hours so things have a pleasntly cool vibe. I've also been reading through the much-belated (it was printed before the debut of the new Doctor Who) issue of SFX highlighting all of the good Doctor. From reading through it, I've come to the realization that with the exception of the new and improved series with Chris Eccleston, the only saving graces that this series had had in its classic form were the characters themselves and the idea. It certainly could not have been the special effects (well, the TARDIS interior always looked good).

Skippy called to say that she won't be coming out for Speedy's Movie Night after all due to other plans. I kinda wonder if the old boyfriend decided to make an appointment with her instead. The Madame is all good for a bit of coffee before the main event though. M+M have set their next date with me. It'll be all the way on Halloween weekend. Should have plenty to talk about by then. I've yet to hear anything about my requests for assistance from my old school. Not that I'm really expecting any answer from them. I've burned quite a few bridges there but then again, the majority of the staff deserved a bit of demolition.

I've just gone through an entire bowl of pork kimchi on rice, daikon salad and fried chicken. And I drank it all down with oolong tea. Well, my insides ought to be getting a good cleaning by now. But I do have to get ready to get going to the juku within the next half-hour. Hopefully, the heat's come down somewhat.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tuesday September 13, 1:29 p.m.

I will be so glad when scientists come up with artificial time limits on seasons. This summer has already worn out its welcome with me. Just way too hot out there! I'm gonna have to sacrifice the shirt I'm wearing to the washing machine. It's already soaked with sweat.

Well, the announcement to the Beehive didn't go as badly as I had feared, especially since I did dangle that little piece of hope in the form of that proposal by The Matron's husband. Still, I did feel like a guy giving a press conference in front of an eager group of journalists with the ladies pelting questions at me. They did get a kick out of the news that soon-to-be-former Princess Nori may be living at the perhaps-newly-posh address of Akihabara.

I've started getting replies to my announcement on Sunday. So far, the reaction has been pretty muted which kinda signifies that perhaps I'm making an emotional mountain out of a molehill. I am anxious to find out something from The Matron, though.

Gotta get the lesson plans done for tonight's outing at the juku. Got word from The Madame that I still gotta pay some incidental fees sometime in the next week for Taiwan. I'll be meeting her for coffee before Speedy's movie on Saturday.

I found out from "Dark Horizons", the movie website, that there is a new sci-fi show on the horizon called "Threshold" oddly enough (horizon...threshold, get it?). What struck my eye was that it starred Charles S. Dutton and Brent "Data" Spiner. According to the cast bios, Spiner will be playing a very mercurial and confrontational NASA microbiologist. I guess he's still trying to shake off his landmark role. It rather sounds like a 21st-century version of "The X-Files" so I'm kinda holding back any praise despite the accolades, deserved or not, it's already getting.
Monday September 12, 11:48 p.m.

Well, it's been a day and night. I had The Class Act as usual. After having sent my rather sad notice last night, one of them offered to help out. It's been an interesting exercise today. I've got help coming out from all angles. It almost feels like running a company. Perhaps watching "The Apprentice" would have helped.

The Madame sent me a so-called emergency message to pay the rest of that money for the Taiwan trip. Apparently, she found out that there were no less than 3 contradictory pieces of information concerning when to pay up. I did wire that money in although it was a bit depressing seeing my bank account dip into the six-digit range for the first time in a few years (remember I'm being paid in yen). Ah, well. Mind you, I do have quite a bit of money owed me by The Company. I may have to drop into the place during a non-teaching day to get my money since I won't be seeing those guys until October. The Prez hasn't been in whenever I've been there for the past few weeks.

Speaking of the Company, once again I just had that one guy who's been coming relentlessly for the past several weeks. Junior just can't or won't show up. I think it's becoming clear that his attendance will be moot. I'm now considering whether it would just be an easy thing simply to drop the class since his classmate is just studying stuff that he probably won't ever use. And it was just another struggle today with the listening segment. However, he and I usually have some good chats in Japanese at the end of the class. One was about that article with The Teacher concerning the fate of Akihabara. He certainly doesn't sound too disappointed about the gentrification of the area. And he dropped a bit of a bombshell....he said that he'd heard that one of those two Gundam legs will possibly end up being the building housing the soon-to-be married Princess Nori and her husband. Since marrying a commoner will mean the loss of her royal status, the two will be living in just a regular condo. But what an address!

I was feeling pretty exhausted after The Company. But I still had one more house call. But it wasn't The Poppy. Instead, I went over to meet the juku boss' friend over at Nishi-Kasai Station to help him get through the oodles of English legalese for some contract. We went over to his apartment and pored over the pages of the contract. I managed to keep it focused on just the English language although at a couple of points, he threatened to swing thngs into legal territory for which I'm obviously woefully ill-prepared for. He even had me go through the entire book of the contract just to give it a once-over. Well, all I could possibly was scan it and then just focus on a few areas to make sure the English was in good form. But I got my pay for my troubles. Not sure if I really did help him. The boss apparently informed him of my visa situation. I'm gonna have to sit down with her tomorrow and update her on the movements of this past day.

I'm plenty tired since it was one of those energy-sapping humid days. I didn't even bother eating any dinner. I just had one of those rice crackers that the juku boss' friend's wife so kindly gave me as further compensation for my hour there. At least, it'll keep the grumblies away until morning.

I'm gonna be talking turkey with the Beehive first thing since I sent a fax over to Mrs Alps this morning. Could be an interesting start. But all I'm interested right now is a hot shower and sleep.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Monday September 12, 7:19 a.m.

So far, I haven't gotten any fallout about my big announcement last night. I did get a response from The Madame, though, to ask me to pay the rest of the cost for the Taiwan trip ASAP since she read something in the contract which contradicted what the woman at the travel agency had told us. Ahhh...the wonders of bureaucratic confusion. I think there has been a lot of news on that lately.

Well, Mr. Koizumi is savoring his landslide victory. The others are verbally licking their wounds, much to the glee of the LDP faithful. Of course, the elections were seen worldwide. China, Korea and presumably much of Asia aren't too thrilled while the US is quite happy.
Sunday September 11, 9:52 p.m.

Well, I've started the ball rolling on informing my private students about the changes that will occur in about a little over a month. I've contacted folks like The OL, SIL and the like. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but it wasn't a pleasant thing either. I have to come up with Japanese messages for The Prez and the New Yorker since their English isn't quite up to reading speed. I've also gotta inform The Beehive. This one will be, by far, the most difficult group to announce this to. I just mentioned last Tuesday that this was the beginning of our 7th year together. I don't want to shock the folks by just blurting it out in person this Tuesday so I'll send a fax to Mrs. Travel's house tomorrow morning.

It was a good thing that I did the laundry early this morning. As I was checking out "Orion's Arm" earlier this afternoon, I noticed things outside darkening dramatically. In fact, I just saw this massive great wall of gray-black rolling in with sounds of thunder. I quickly brought in the dried clothing and closed the windows. Man, it got so dark that I thought a total eclipse was coming overhead. Then, I heard these very distinctive pings hitting the balcony railing. Initially, I thought that we were actually gonna get hailed on. They turned out to be very big drops of rain thrown down from the heavens at high speed. For about 30 minutes, the deluge was on. Fuji-TV's regular Sunday broadcast of live horseracing showed a racetrack just a few stations away from me getting absolutely doused. It was basically a re-enactment of last Sunday night after the cruise.

Beyond 8 tonight, it's been pretty much the Lower House Elections on all of the channels. It looks like Koizumi will easily get his mandate. However, I think this will mean political deadlock as usual. The people may have given The Lionmaned One his mandate but his big raison d'etre of privatizing the postal system will just continue to be kicked about in Parliament. The guys who broke away from the LDP in protest against the privatization attempts and made their own parties have only scored a paltry 5 seats so far. I'm not sure if what those politicians are wiping off their faces would best be served scrambled or sunny side up.

It was rather hilarious watching the coverage on Fuji-TV. The producers there have labeled their show, "Senkyo Wars" (Election Wars) and the opening minutes had wall-to-wall John Williams music from a certain sci-fi movie while the newscasters chatted away. I think they quickly did away with that idea since I don't hear it now. I think the music was blocking out a lot of what the talking heads were saying. However, I've been keeping it mostly to NHK since it's the only channel with English dubbing.

Between 8:30 and 9, I was switching between NHK and CNN where "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart was playing. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure how Stewart would handle the Katrina affair but boy, did he hit another one out of the park. Mind you, picking on FEMA and Bush hasn't been new since last week but he even knocked Larry King for a bit of inappropriateness during a talk with a sobbing Celine Dion. Then again, I've known that King is hardly in Ted Koppel's league when it comes to interviews.

Well, I gotta make that fax up for Mrs. Travel. Gad, I'm gonna hate this.