Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sunday March 12, 6:45 a.m.

I've woken up to a slight headache and another possible attack of hay fever. I've taken care of the latter with my usual medicine; I may take care of the former at McDs with a Tylenol. I would like to give the hay fever pills sometime to actually work. Mind you, my Tylenol is a number of years past its expiry date...strangely enough, though, it still kicks in. Perhaps it's a placebo effect. It took me a little while to get started since my wake-up schedule has been largely truncated today. I only woke up 30 minutes ago and I'll be out of here in unusual habit for me. The day ought to be OK for the most part. It's heading up to 18 C but there will be rain later in the evening.

There have been another couple of famous which will not go particularly lamented, at least by most of the world. Former Yugoslav dictator Milosevic was found dead in his cell after months (years?) of haranguing the Hague Tribunal. As diplomat Richard Holbrooke put it, "I won't shed any tears". I kinda wonder if that will be the only way out for Saddam Hussein. The other death is a Canadian sports one. Boom Boom Geoffrion, the hockey legend who popularized the slapshot, passed away from stomach cancer at 75. I never saw him play since his heyday was in the 50s and early 60s but he certainly kept himself known in the media with his bonhomie and frequent beer commercials.

Well, off to see the kids...
Saturday March 11, 7:20 p.m.

One thing about JJ. Her confidence is fairly fragile. She made a few mistakes on her grammar sheets and got slightly pouty for a few minutes. It's a process...anyways, she lent me a CD in which there's a song that she would like me to transcribe for her friend. I took a listen to a copy on her MD. It's a cover of a Booker T. tune called "Jamaica Song" by a Japanese singer. That extra layer of Japanese (mis)pronounciation made it rather difficult for me so I'm gonna keep on plugging away.

Went up to Speedy's to teach that first "English in Cooking" lesson for a very Skippy-like student. It was originally scheduled for just an hour but it actually took 2 hours to do although the time flew by pretty quickly due to the student's effervescence. I don't think either of us particularly minded the extra hour but Speedy was fairly flummoxed by the time we finally came on out. I wasn't sure if he'd been annoyed or not...with his demeanor, it's sometimes hard to tell. In any case, I'm more interested in getting a good job done more than being absolutely on time but even I had to admit that 2 hours were a bit long. I'll have to be somewhat more careful in her next class in a couple of weeks.

I had been thinking of getting that thank-you package of confections for my uncle after Speedy but there wasn't a whole lot of money in my wallet so I've decided to hold off until tomorrow during the long lull between the kids and meeting up with Skippy & The Satyr in Shinjuku. Still, I think I will have to hit the bank since I also have to buy that reader for The Denmother's kid along with buying the movie ticket and dinner. I did manage to get a couple of little boxes of chocolates for the kids in homage to White Day.

To think, I'm still in the middle of 14 consecutive days of teaching...ugh.

TVNewser seems to have sent out a possible deathwatch for Larry King. Apparently, according to a number of bloggers, the old boy has been looking rather frail of late. Well, he is 72. And he certainly can't keep up the pace he's been holding with his CNN show...even with his frequent built-in nights off.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Saturday March 11, 7:48 a.m.

Well, the sun is shining, the clouds are clear, the temperatures are rising...and the pollen is flying. Thus, another good day in Chiba has begun. I've taken my pills for the last factor already but my nose hasn't completely escaped the twitching...not quite yet.

In a few hours, I'll be off to teach JJ and then it'll be over to Speedy's. I took a look at the notes; it won't be too bad for the inaugural. Plus, the lone student for the class has been rated as a high-intermediate chatty type (the Skippy level) so I think the only main problem is trying to keep on the schedule without any major tangentializing (I know, there is no such word but let's consider it as 21st-century jargon within the English-teaching industry, shall we?). Just in case, I shot one across Speedy's bow by e-mail just now asking him to keep me informed of any last-minute changes.

My uncle sent me back the signed and stamped lease contract so I can send off the final part of my renewal to the management agency, and I can keep my old apartment for another 2 years. I'll have to stop off at the Mitsukoshi in Nihombashi and send over some confectionaries in thanks...maybe even a White Day present for my cousin. I've got a few of those to pick up over the next few days. I gotta get a couple for the kids tomorrow, for instance. Ugh! Gonna hate going over for the early 9 o'clock classes on a Sunday.

Lou Dobbs is doing his victory lap, I'm sure, after helping to get that World Ports deal scuttled in Congress. The only thing is that I would warn Mr. Dobbs to look over his shoulder once in a while. There can always be some Men In Black ready to "thank" him on behalf of the government. No matter what people may think of him, he is quite the stand-up guy for his reporters. He just thanked Ed Henry and Dana Bash on-air in an unscripted moment for their good work.

During my major bout with depression yesterday, I did mention that I was reading through Wikipedia. Most of my scans dealt with comic books. Yep, I was doing a bit of catch-up on my old favourite superheroes, The X-Men. I had been collecting them and all of the other mutant books for some years including the first couple of my stint here. While collectors back Stateside may gripe about the rising costs of comics, I tell them to come over here. Even when I had to stop my hobby about a decade ago, the price of comics was fairly astronomical. 500 to 600 yen for a single issue was common. When I recently dropped into the lone store in Shibuya which sold Marvel and DC stock, I recollect that the prices had gone up even more. And of course, when one stops watching a soap opera even for a day, things can change very dramatically. So, I've missed out on a lot of stuff. Wikipedia was therefore pretty helpful in catching me up on what has been happening with the mutants. At least, I was happy to get a couple of seminal series from both Marvel and DC before weaning myself off of comics: The Age of Apocalypse and Kingdom Come. Nowadays, my only connection with the two premiere comic book companies has just been through the movie versions of the superheroes.

Anyways, gotta hang up the wash...
Friday March 10, 9:11 p.m.

A couple of weeks I mentioned that the manager of that Toranomon Starbucks invited me to this so-called Tasting Party. Well, today was the day. Looks like my expectations were dashed. I had been expecting, according to what the lady said, a nice little intro to some of the new goodies and coffees for free. In actuality, what I saw was a group of people standing and sitting in front of a knowledgeable barista as he gave a seminar on the various coffees of the world. As I was gonna return to my table and crosswords, the manager intercepted and led me gently to the only vacant seat among the four which were arranged like chairs at a blackjack table with the barista in the dealer position. I sat there patiently for 10 minutes while we all sniffed cups of ground coffee beans from Mexico, Guatemala and Indonesia and he talked on the different aromas. Well, I like my coffee but I'm not a connoisseur so during a brief lull in the talk, I just slipped back to my table. There was eventually a tasting but by that time, The OL had already come in, and in any case I wasn't really up to sipping black coffee. I like mine very adulterated with sugar and cream. Good heavens! I was lucky that the OL had decided to come today. Under my previous assumption, I had been willing to come even with her absence. Could you imagine how I would've felt if she hadn't come and then finding out that this party was just a seminar? Luckily, I did have my Caffe Latte and Caramel Doughnut beforehand.

I never did go to The Tax Office this afternoon. I was just in a very dark place emotionally at the thought of having to fork over well over 100,000 yen in taxes to Uncle Osamu. So, instead I just let my cyberfingers do the walking through Wikipedia for most of the early afternoon. Yep, it sounds like a tragic case of procrastination but dang, I've already paid an equivalent amount to renew my lease just last week and I have to face paying this month's rent on top of everything. I'm just seeing my bank account dwindle and I'm almost at the point where I have to hum Bing Crosby's "Counting My Blessings" just to keep sane. In any case, the taxes aren't due til the 15th so I'll head on out on Tuesday after The Beehive. I was lucky that I did have that session with The OL; it lightened the mood for me to get out of the apartment for a few hours.

But in about 30 minutes, I'm gonna get started on the lesson plan for JJ and then that first lesson for Speedy's project. I hope I don't get any surprises from Speedy in terms of scheduling. I do want to drop by Maruzen yet again on the way home to get that simple reader for The Denmother's kid.

Skippy just zipped me a post right now saying that "Narnia" will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday. I can meet her and The Satyr at 3. I've still got to get back to The Madame about next Friday to catch "Munich". Looks like it'll have to be all the way to Odaiba. I don't particularly mind myself since I haven't been to the Bayside Area in several months, but I'm not sure about her.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Friday March 10, 9:18 a.m.

The guys on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" have all but brought out the champagne to celebrate the end of the Dubai World Ports deal...well, everyone except John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, that is, who is wailing in his supposed lone sane man role that the death of the deal will bring economic and diplomatic consequences. Jeff Greenfield also brings a bucket of cold water to the celebrations; he points out in his critique that even if US ports are free from international influence, the Department of Homeland Security is far from being very competent in protecting them. And of course, the "X" word has popped up...xenophobia. The death of the deal may have indeed been partially based on anti-Arab sentiments but I just think that some of the shadier security aspects within Dubai just made it too risky for Americans to embrace. Whichever way the fallout goes, George Bush is starting to hear some quacking.

I've still yet to hear from Chip Guy about tonight with The Bohemian....and after all that flurry of communication. His non-reply ironically sends a message to me. I'm still hoping for some answer but I wish he would've at least let me sooner how he felt about the situation. I know that The Bohemian isn't everyone's cup of tea....he's annoyed me a number of times over the years.

And in a few hours, I'll have to trudge up to the Tax Office once more to pay up. Not looking forward to that.
Thursday March 9, 10:09 p.m.

Can't figure out women sometimes. After taking a shower, I just slicked my hair back with the mousse out of laziness so I looked like a typically slimy old-school Japanese politician. So I head off to The Tea Room and have a seat. Soon, the manager smilingly compliments me on my new do and apparently the other waitresses agree with her. Then, The Carolinan comes in and does the same thing. Man, and I've been trying to figure out for years why these hoary old jiji get the women at the hostess clubs. It isn't the money after all; they are genuinely liked. Personally, I like my blow-dried look better; at least, it gives the impression that I have a full head of hair.

Got home and on the eve of my payment of a ton of tax to Uncle Osamu, I decided to cut down on my food budget even further and just bought a bowl of Sapporo Ichiban instant ramen. Only cost me 68 yen. That oughta help although my body may rebel against having a steady diet of chemically-treated carbs over the next several months. I've yet to fill out the final form so I gotta get that done tonight before I hit bed. Luckily, I have virtually nothing tomorrow aside from that Starbucks Tasting Party and then The OL. My entire morning and afternoon can be devoted to waiting in line to hand over my forms and the cash.

I've got this weird Johnny Depp movie on TV Tokyo right now. I know, it's a bit of a redundancy to say a weird Johnny Depp movie but this is more of a serious weird. The title of the flick in question is "The Astronaut's Wife" (or "Noise" as it's called in Japanese), and it'll probably be a small hickey of a footnote in Depp's storied career as well as that of Charlize Theron who plays the wife of Johnny's "is he/isn't he an alien" astronaut character. The movie was made back at the turn of the century so it's interesting to watch considering that the two leads are now an Oscar nominee and an Oscar winner. It's doubly interesting to see Depp in this serious (as opposed to his usual whimsical) weird role of the villain. The flick seems to be a mix of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Contact"; obviously the comparison wasn't lost on Theron's hairstylist since her character's hairdo is just like Mia Farrow's in the first movie. I'm waiting for this so-called payoff at the end although according to some of the reviews on the IMdB, it's nothing to phone home about. However, I have to say that Charlize looked positiviely cherubic 7 years ago. Of course, the commercials breaks have included the trailers for her new movie, "Aeon Flux".

Since I had to turn down both Chip Guy's and The Bohemian's invitations for dinner tomorrow, I decided to have them dine together since they were also well acquainted when the former used to live here. Just my luck...CG had been keeping up a pretty breathless dialgoue with me about meeting up and then just when I told The Bohemian about CG's trip here, I'm still waiting for Chip's reply.

I got a posting from The Entrepreneur back in Toronto. Apparently, there's one place up in J-town which serves rice burgers now. I told him that we've had rice burgers at Mosburger for years now. I never ate one since I'm a traditionalist when it comes to burgers. All beef is my policy.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Thursday March 9, 3:15 p.m.

My first official lesson with The Denmother's kid was still a search-and-explore one. He didn't look too satisfied but I had been warned by his mother some weeks ago that he gets discouraged pretty easily. I wasn't all that thrilled myself but I hadn't expected all that much from the first class anyways. Still, I managed to get some more information about his abilities...or lack of them. I'm gonna have to start from square one in terms of basic grammar and reading. Hopefully, things will go better next Wednesday.

Did my gym thing but only did the bike, stretches and the treadmill. I wasn't feeling like conquering the world today.

To add further to my melancholy, it looks like Chip Guy and I have given up the ghost in terms of meeting one more time before he heads on back. I just cannot make it on weeknights and he's unavailable on the weekends.

The Anime King contacted me for the first time in a while. I guess he's been busy with his new missus. However, he did ask me to relay one of those Nintendo DS software packs. I should've known that he would have one despite the fact that every one of those platforms have sold out. Not sure when they'll be available next time...not that I'm planning to get one anytime. And The Bohemian has also made his presence after a fairly long absence. He was asking about dinner tomorrow night but I've got The OL so that's out of the question. However, he's agreed to meet me on the 21st, the national holiday celebrating the First Day of Spring.

I picked up my first White Day package for the aforementioned OL Yep, gonna have to do some shopping to get back at some of those female students for getting me chocolates on Valentine's.
Thursday March 9, 8:58 a.m.

I've been watching CNN's "The Situation Room" the last couple of days. Wolf Blitzer, the awkward host of the program, had been in Dubai to cover that part of this World Ports deal snafu. Meanwhile, John Roberts looks to have quickly become the substitute host. And he looks quite comfortable there, may I add. As I watch right now, Blitzer is back at his program but not in his usual Washington post but from the New York studio after having been in the reporter's chair on "Lou Dobbs Tonight". Hmmm....

I'm also chuckling a bit as well...not at George Bush for seeing his Republican allies desert him, but for seeing and hearing that there is actually a Representative named Jerry Lewis. I first heard his name during a Lou Dobbs interview with another pol. At first, I did a double take but couldn't believe the ancient comedian was actually a Congressman. And sure enough, it was just a different guy with the same name. But I'm sure when he first entered the House there were a lot of little nudges and cracks amongst the other folks there: "Hey, Lewis....loved ya in 'The Nutty Professor'! Can you do that walk?" or "Hey, laydeeeee....!"

The Teacher sent me some digital photos of me that she'd taken during the lesson yesterday. I look like a properly disheveled oyaji. My parents will disown me immediately. Actually, there has been a silly little boom (in Japan, most of these fads usually are) in which some of the members of the currently dissed cadre of middle-aged salarymen are getting a bit of the fashion fop treatment. I personally think they look over-the-top but who am I against the fashionistas of Harajuku and Shibuya? And besides, I have been feeling sorry for this caste of Japanese society since the wives resent them and the kids just plain hate them for their stodginess recently. If this silly little boom can bring a bit of sunshine into their humdrum lives, I'm happy for them.

The Bohemian just contacted me right now about having dinner on Friday night. Well, not only do I have The OL's lesson then but I don't think I'll be much in the mood for having a pricey dinner in Shibuya like we usually do since tomorrow will be the day that I fork over my taxes. It's actually kinda like the honour system over here. Like back in North America, I have to figure out the numbers by themselves (those company guys are very lucky since accounting departments take care of the taxes for them). However, unlike back in the home country, I don't wait for the final judgement from the pro bean counters in the government echelons. I write down how much I owe or I get back (the latter course will never happen as long as I'm a freelancer) and pay it at the tax office, right then and there. Still, I'm gonna be hurting. Basically, I'll have to save 50,000 yen for the next 5 months just to get back onto an even keel. Not easy in my job and in this country. So, if I'm very lucky, I may be celebrating somewhat in the dog days of summer.

In any case, I've got The Denmother's kid and then a gym outing followed by several hours of nothing before I meet up with The Carolinan. Every long journey starts with a little step...
Wednesday March 8, 10:18 p.m.

The big news on NHK tonight has been about Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara's stab at a legacy in the form of getting the Summer Olympics here for 2016. He's starting way early since the final decision won't be made by the IOC until 2009. The city of Fukuoka is also interested in getting the nod as well so a decision will be made late next year. I'm frankly of mixed emotions about this bid. Although I would be thrilled at having an Olympics right on my doorstep and actually being able to watch some of the events at a decent hour, I'm not sure if the financial and social costs would be worth it. Toronto was trying for the 2008 Games that Beijing eventually got; I didn't think Toronto would've been able to handle them and I think Tokyo would face the same problems of construction. Mind you, the English teaching industry could get a boost.

I was able to catch a couple of programs that I hadn't seen in a long time since they graduated from late night to prime time. One is "Ai no Apron" (The Apron of Love), a somewhat warped cooking show in which celeb women who wouldn't know a knife from a potato peeler try...and I do mean just make various dishes for a celeb panel of judges which includes the leader of the band TOKIO and the headmaster of a prestigious cooking school, Mr. Hattori (who was a regular on the legendary "Iron Chefs" program). The results can be hilariously bad with the judges often running to the Garbage Basket of Love to throw up (of course, that scene is tastefully not shown). However, there are the few women who actually manage to cook up something delicious.

The other program is the game show "Sarudie" in which celebs figure out some kanji-based braintwisters. When the show was on its old time slot of 11:30 on Monday nights, it was just a panel of four celebs in front of a couple of hosts/monkeys (comedian Takashi Fujii and actor Masumi Okada). The first three guys to solve the puzzle get to run out to the back lounge and have a drink (unlike in the States, folks on TV can take a swig of the good stuff on air) while the loser has to suck it up. The prime time version looks a little more mainstream with no less than 8 panelists on a brighter set. I kinda liked the darker, more intimate atmosphere of the old show.

Well, so much for the warm weather....we're back to just a high of 8 C tomorrow so gotta bundle up again. This yo-yo effect can't be good for metabolisms.
Wednesday March 8, 5:25 p.m.

Haru ga kita...or as we would say, "Spring has come!" any case, we not only got the sun today but we also got 18 C as a high. The way this winter has gone though, it could just as easily plummet to zero again tomorrow. And of course, with most everything, there is a dark side. With the warmer temps comes the clouds of cedar pollen. Not that I was feeling any pain today, though, since I took my medicine earlier today. However, I knew we were very warm since my laundry dried lickety-split on the line by the time I got home. Usually in the winters, it would take about 24 hours.

The Teacher was off and on...sometimes jovial, sometimes maudlin. She did ask for some homework, though, on phrasal verbs. I aims to please.

Slept my way on the Tozai over to The Tea Room. Felt quite refreshed by the end of my trip. The New Yorker got her iPod, all dressed up in a rhinestone cover. She didn't waste any time getting it right after my last lesson with her. We also got a bit of a surprise in the form of SR, who had come with her younger sister for a drink. She was wearing a jacket so I couldn't really tell but it seems that she's just about ready to deliver her baby. She said that the due date would most likely be in a couple of days.

I stopped off at Maruzen to pick up that textbook. Saw some interesting books there but I decided to keep everything but the money for the text strictly in my wallet.

Got word from Chip Guy about his plans. Looks like this weekend will be a washout since I've got The OL on Friday and by the time I get down to the restaurant, it'll be time for his family to head on back to the hotel due to the sleep demands of his daughter. And they'll be headed out of town this weekend for the relatives. Hmmm...I gave him a Hail Mary and asked if he would be available anytime during the daytime next week. He did ask me if I were open tonight. Well, now that I'm back home with the fixins for a home-cooked meal, looks like I won't be able to see him tonight either.

Well, it's another cancelled evening at Speedy's. However, I do have a model lesson there right before The Part-Timer's usual class. It's gonna be tight but Speedy said he would stall for time until I get to the school. If everything works out, the student will be tightly squeezed between SIL and The Part-Timer. The prospective student is a koto teacher, I hear.

Despite the free night, I'll still be busy since I gotta fill out the last of my tax return since I'll be sending it out in the next couple of days and then I gotta look over the stuff for The Denmother's kid before he meets me tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tuesday March 7, 11:42 p.m.

Another long day comes to an end. I was almost able to stave off hay fever on just one dose of herbal medicine but alas the nose-twitching started once more just before the juku classes tonight so in went three more pills.

I think one of us must've misunderstood the instructions today about The Beehive's class. I had been under the impression that I was still gonna be teaching them when in came my partner all the way from Kamakura. Well, I just quickly went over to the students' side of the table and let him take care of things. It was kinda interesting being the special guest this time around. I also found out from my partner that the guy who had introduced me to The Beehive in the first place all those years ago may be heading over here on vacation sometime at the end of this month. That would be a historical meeting amongst him and the two of us.

Then it was off to Ms. Tee's new house just a 10-minute drive away. Once again, I brought over the wine while the rest of the hive brought the goodies. I also met Ms. Tee's husband for the first time. The house itself isn't a huge place but it does look very comfy and the tatami room is made for professional tea serving since Ms. Tee is a teacher in Japanese tea. We even had a truncated education in it later on in the afternoon. One of the Beehive's original members, this 75-year-old man, came over from his retirement home just across from the new house. His English is OK but it could only come out in spurts but it was obvious he was once the great regaler of stories. My teaching partner, who had taught the Beehive when he had been a regular member, told me that he had been trained as a kamikaze fighter in the last part of WWII when the war ended thus ending the need for his self-sacrifice. It was a good lunch in the new home and I got quite a few leftovers that I'll be consuming for breakfast tomorrow morning.

I only spent an hour back home when I headed on out to the juku. The boss told me that that guy who had been asking about the lessons never got back to her. So I'm now assuming that he's a lost cause. He did want to have lessons everyday and usually those types won't settle for anything less. The boss herself became my new 7 p.m. since The Beauty Pair left over a month ago. As usual, it was one of those free form lessons. She can't handle homework due to her workload and I don't think her structure will ever improve that much but I'll see what I can pull out for her. We had an interesting conversation, though, on marriage. She and her husband have been married for many years now but she pointed out point blank that she's regretting the relationship since their priorities have diverged. I've only met her hubby twice but I get the impression that he is quite different in temperament from the more effervescent boss. He's the usual salt-of-the-earth blue collar type of guy...only interested in dinner and not at all interested in traveling to other countries. From this talk and the discovery earlier today that that former kamikaze pilot had just recently divorced himself from his wife of several decades again made me wonder about my current status as a seeming confirmed bachelor. I just told the boss that even in the most ideal partnerships, there will be the high highs and low lows. So if one's gonna get married, he better damn well be sure that his mate is THE one.

The lessons with The Milds, McGirl and The Siberian were all pretty good. Knock on wood, it looks like my week has gotten off to a good start. However, I did find out that my newest student at Speedy's, 006, has once again canned her lesson for tomorrow so I can just head on home after The New Yorker's lesson at The Tea Room in the afternoon. However, I do have to drop by Maruzen but not for anything for The Denmother's kid since I've got all that ready for him already. Instead, I have to pick up another version of the text that I have for The Elder since I seem to have lost my old copy. Her mother has never gotten back to me whether she had found it over at her place. Still, it'll be nice to have another midweek early night.

The Madame asked me about the 17th, St. Patrick's Day, for a movie. Looks like I may be able to catch "Munich" after all. And Chip Guy asked me about my availability for Friday. It doesn't look too good, though. I have my lesson with The OL that night as usual and I won't be finishing til 8 at least. Considering that CG has his daugter with him on the trip, he may balk at a later dinner. So I asked him about Saturday after my stint at Speedy's.

Somewhat mystifying at CNN's "American Morning" tonight. As if it were the death of Osama Bin Laden or George Bush, the O'Briens were giving the 24-gun salute, as it were, to Dana Reeve (Christopher's widow), who had just died of lung cancer. I'm sorry...I will sound like a jerk but despite the obvious tragedy of their son having lost both parents to different ailments and Dana's tireless work for Christopher's institution on spinal injuries, I just don't think that her passing merited a "Breaking News" treatment with Dr. Gupta on standby twice an hour. But there goes that pattern of celebs whose names start with "D" dying again. However, there was a break in it on the news that baseball Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett had gone to that outfield in the sky due to a stroke. I've never been a huge baseball fan but even I knew of Puckett for that strangely stocky body and his huge heart during his time with The Minnesota Twins. Both he and Reeve just left this mortal coil way too early.

Apparently, Anderson Cooper still retains a bit of that cheeky humour from his old pre-Katrina days. On Youtube, I found an uploaded video of one of his broadcasts which showed that notorious variety show in which Japanese aidoru group, Morning Musume, dares to get attacked by a huge iguana by placing raw pork chops on their heads. It must've been a slow news day since that footage had been put on MSNBC months ago. But once again, Cooper put on his favourite Japanese video of that happy MSDF recruitment dance known as Seamanship. The intrepid reporter did make a mistake in the name of the group by calling them Monday Musume. Perhaps he confused it with that Japanese R&B singer, Monday Michiru....or maybe not.

Well, gotta get some shuteye...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tuesday March 7, 7:26 a.m.

My nose is dancing all around my face which means that I have to take the hay fever medicine. Another reason to hate the weather forecasters for their predictions of a far smaller outbreak.

I woke up to see another in the long-running commercial series of pop star/actress Aya Ueto hawking Oronamin C vitamin drink with a celeb. Today's was a revelation. After starring with a Japanese soccer player, one of the Johnny's Jimusho heartthrobs, and a Korean actor, it was time to hit Stateside. This time, it was Michelle Wie's turn to go weird and pick up her million bucks. When it came to thinking out her career, I'm sure Wie didn't consider making a turkey pose to sink a putt as a career-enhancing move.

I've come to the realization that sleep is now becoming a hobby. I will no longer denigrate any of those high school brats who answer with that word when I ask them about their hobbies. I seem to be looking more and more forward to those 6-8 hours of inactivity. Even on the trains now, I go into my trance-like state more than I hit the crosswords.

Well, time to get some quick planning done for the lessons today...
Monday March 6, 10:21 p.m.

"Brokeback Mountain" got its back broke with a "Crash". Umm...well, not exactly up to the level of "Variety" headlines but the sentiment is there. I took a look at the Oscar results earlier today to find out the surprise winner of the Best Movie Oscar. There are probably quite a few cowboys crying in their beer today...notably one Ang Lee, although he can't be feeling too badly since he did pick up the award for Best Director.

Once again, the critics harped on the general ennui and lameness of the coverage. Not that I disagree with them...the Oscars have always been of, about and for the Hollywood industry only. Everyone else can just absorb it with as much understanding or sympathy as they do for the average episode starring Anna Nicole Smith. However, those critics cannot be looking all that sympathetic in front of the readers either since they're just like a broken record. They can only harangue so much before they just sound too shrill. I think everyone and their pet goldfish know that the Oscars will never be un-televised due to all the advertising revenue they can grab over the 4-plus hours. And again, all the pomp and circumstance is just an annual love-in for all the actors, directors and crew. But the critics have a job to do and so they have to criticize. I haven't seen the show in several years which is perhaps not a bad thing. I usually can only catch the red carpet coverage before I head on out but from what I remember of the show, it may be glitzy and glamourous but there is also a lot of vapidity there as well. For the record, though, I am glad that George Clooney got his Oscar. I'm sure 001, who is a huge Clooney fan, is bouncing off the walls. Too bad she won't be in class this Wednesday either.

On the Japan side of things, it was noted that "Memoirs of a Geisha" scored bupkiss on the awards (no surprise there) and that Hayao Miyazaki's latest epic "Howl's Castle" didn't score a win for Best Animation. To be honest, I'm more prone to watching the more fun "Wallace and Gromit" which did win.

Strangely enough, the two nominated movies for Best Movie quietly came into town over the weekend with very little fanfare. "Brokeback Mountain", the bridesmaid (or should I say, groomsmaid), is now playing ( thanks) and "Syriana" have arrived. I really hope to catch that one sometime soon. I still have yet to see "Munich" and I think it's gonna head on out soon.

As for my day today, The Class Act started off with The Matron telling us that her second son snapped a number of tendons in around his collarbone in a slightly altered version of American football...which doesn't allow tackling. And he was still able to injure himself...hmmm. SIL was lots of fun as usual.

My late afternoon and evening at Speedy went pretty well. The Part-Timer was in good form. I've found out that it'll be showtime for me on Saturday afternoon, Monday night and then the afternoon of the 25th for that project. Fair enough. Also, apparently, the lone student I'll have for those classes is way too high for the material so the boss told me that the first class at least will be a breeze. I can only hope.

JJ had sent me a music file for me to transcribe but the size of it crashed my aging computer. However, I did promise her that I would check it once more at great digital risk.

I was taking a look at the weekly METROPOLIS. This week's theme was all the hijinks in the newly hip Akihabara. There was a picture of a smiling maid on the cover to stress this. Strangely enough, one of the news items tonight had to do with this new government regulation that states that all old electronic equipment must have a new seal of approval or they will not be allowed to be sold. This rather renders a lot of equipment that makes up the stock of a lot of the used and secondhand stores worthless. Sellers can't sell them and buyers can't buy them...well, they can grab them for free but you can bet the sellers are gonna hold onto them until the very last moment. A government drone just mumbled that there is nothing he can do. However, there are some pretty high powered musicians who feel that they can do something. Some of the guys connected with 80's techno legend YMO such as Ryuichi Sakamoto have been collecting signatures to throw at the government to change their stand on this regulation. Whether or not they'll make a difference remains to be seen. Perhaps a whole army of otaku should just walk into Parliament and creep out the MPs into changing the legislation.

Well, I gotta pay off my final health insurance premium for the term tomorrow morning before I head on out to Tsudanuma. I'm almost a week late with it but at least I've got the money in cash to pay it off. Then it's the Beehive before the housewarming party with Mrs. Tee. I'll be bringing some wine for the occasion. And once again, it'll be the juku. I never got a call back from the boss about that prospective student so I assume that he was a washout. But at least I'll still get a bit more money now that the boss is my student once more.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Monday March 6, 7:59 a.m.

You know you're getting old (not older, just old) when the word "reminiscing" is no longer a word you teach in class but becomes your entire night. I spent last night just watching this J-Pop oldies channel on SkyPerfect which was unlocked in the monthly "open house" that the satellite service has. Yup, caught up on those 70s and 80s tunes for the entirety of my Sunday evening. Wouldn't mind some of those evenings sometimes.

It's Oscar night! Or Oscar morning, as it were. CNN is doing its usual pre-Oscars telecast right now with all of its reporters all glossed up like Barbie and Ken dolls....and with the equivalent plastic smiles and sayings. It'll be "Brokeback Mountain"'s night, I wager. Wonder when it'll ever get over here. The Razzies came out last night. Apparently, this unknown movie by Jenny McCarthy got the top prizes. But Tom Cruise already got his prize of "Most Annoying Celeb of 2005"; for the record, he said that he wasn't a big fan of any award show that denigrates the "winners". Ben Affleck destroyed his Razzie on "Larry King Live". Y'know, it's never fun to win dubious honours but the Razzies are all about taking potshots at projects that shouldn't have been made but were by people who should've known better. Also, there are two things about humanity: 1) they hate pomposity and 2) they love to tear down their heroes.

Over here, the World Baseball Classic is currently happening here in Tokyo. I'm yawning. For the record, Japan trounced Taiwan 13-4.

Not sure what it's gonna be like today. I've got my Monday regulars. I haven't heard anything from Speedy in the past few days although he was supposed to go to that party of PH's on Friday that I had decided to duck out of. Feeling tired already.