Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saturday April 22, 9:36 p.m.

The kids were their usual selves today. However, I gotta admit that the Senior has gotten a lot more fluent in English. I'm not sure if she's finally seen the light or her mother finally yelled it into her. I actually did ask their mother about the Junior's comments about me smelling like fish. I probably shouldn't have asked her about it since I didn't want to get the girl into trouble but curiosity got the better of me. The mother and the Elder insisted that I didn't smell like anything piscine.

I had lunch at China Quick, part of a chain of cheap Chinese restaurants. The branch I went to was just a few dozen metres away from Speedy's place. The food's pretty decent...I had the hoi koro plus half-ramen set. The ramen tasted like anything that could be made from an instant cup but the hoi koro, Japan's equivalent of chop suey, was tasty. It just cost me 880 yen. China Quick's direct rival is probably the Bamiyan chain which is a more family-restaurant type of Chinese eatery. However, I think that someone should've told the owner of Bamiyan that China hasn't exactly invaded Afghanistan quite yet.

The second half of my day went pretty well. I had that low-level student for her second of three pre-cooking English lessons and then I started the inaugural lesson for the "Friends" video lesson. The student who showed for that one was a real aficionado of American TV: "Friends", "ER", "Full House"...she would probably be a Nielsen viewer if she lived in the States. And she didn't do too badly either with the pilot episode of "Friends"...she said she could pick up about 50% of what was going on without the need for Japanese subtitles or dubbing. Speedy and I are crossing our fingers that we've got a keeper here.

The important thing is that I've managed to pass the gauntlet of today. Celebrated with just a Lotteria meal, albeit it was the largest burger set on the menu. Tomorrow, I just have JJ for her first lesson since I got back from Korea so I've got her nori for her. And then I'm off to Shinjuku to see The Madame with Skippy and The Satyr for lunch and then "The Libertine". One of the M's of M+M contacted me to see if I were available for a session on the 29th. Well, if she's willing to come after the first lesson for The OL's sister, then I'm willling to talk with her. Otherwise, it'll have to be the week after.

My Friday will be completely open so I'm kinda wondering whether I should ask The Madame out for dinner or just spend a nice quiet start to Golden Week at home.

The reaction to that news of J.J. Abrams breathing life into the "Star Trek" movie franchise has been decidedly mixed. According to some of the Trek news forums, some of the folks are rolling out the champagne (Chateau Picard, of course) while others are just rolling their eyes. I say that it's too early to say.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Saturday April 22, 7:00 a.m.

First decent day for laundry in a while. Got a bit of the cloth to clean and put up on the line. There was another tremor off in the Izu Peninsula a couple of hours west of Tokyo about an hour ago. Nothing felt here but I think we may be in for another "season" of earthquakes.

Another girl got murdered yesterday. Some junior high school student was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in an abandoned pachinko parlour in Gifu Prefecture. The police later announced that it was her boyfriend, a 15-year-old boy, that had been behind the killing.

I see that Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating 80 years on the planet (not on the throne, though folks can be forgiven for the thought). It's kinda mind-boggling that for my entire life, this lady of Windsor had been reigning for several years before my birth and continues to do so. She also happens to be Queen of Canada (calm down, you anti-Royalists). I remember the times that I had to sing "God Save The Queen" in class after the Canadian national anthem. The Britishers were certainly doing that today and last night in a huge festival; apparently, all that kerfuffle about Princess Diana has now been put solidly into the least where the Queen is concerned. Japan also celebrates royal births. There is the current Emperor's birthday on December 23rd (awfully sporting of him to be born just a couple of days before Xmas) and then there is the previous Showa Emperor's birthday on April 29th, now known as Green Day (although I don't think the band has ever been invited to the Imperial Palace) which nicely starts off Golden Week.

All this celebrating in England mustn't be helping the mood of the increasingly besieged King of Nepal. Not that he nor the rest of his erstwhile subjects would be looking at the TV right now.

B2 turned down my offer to teach her and B2B next Friday night. It was my alternate date since we are going into Golden Week and therefore the couple won't be available on their regular day. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, the 28th is indeed the night before Green Day so folks in The Big Sushi will be whooping it up even more than usual. B2 and B2B will be two of those celebrants. She did ask me about the 11th but that's my night for The Carolinan so I'm afraid it'll have to be the 18th.
Friday April 21, 10:16 p.m.

Well this morning got off to a bit of a rocky start literally with a Shindo 4 tremor hitting the Kanto. No particular damage but it was pretty rare for a shaker that strong to hit in the middle of the night. I'm not saying that earthquakes punch a clock like regular humans but usually the bigger ones have hit during the early morning just when people are getting ready to head on out.

Speaking of heading on out, that's what I did this morning early when I went off all the way to Ikebukuro to meet up with The Madame for the tour in Yokohama. Since I hate rush hour, I left at the wee hour of 6:45 a.m. and got to Ikebukuro at 7:30, a full 2 hours before I was to meet her. I just decided to kill time while having a cuppa at Excelsior Coffee (the chief clone and rival to Starbucks in Tokyo).

When I met her at 9:30, she informed me that The Satyr, as expected, couldn't make it out due to work so it would be just the two of us. We headed out on the Shinjuku-Shonan Line to Yokohama at 9:53. It wasn't too full and we could actually get seats after departing Shibuya. The Madame was as giddy as a farm girl going on her first solo trip to the big city. Can't believe that a born-and-bred Tokyoite had never gone to this city, a mere 40 minutes away.

We switched over to the still spanking new Minato Mirai subway line from Yokohama Station and headed straight down to Chinatown. Unfortunately, April is the month for all sorts of junior high schools to send out their kids on school trips so we often came across noisy gaggles of uniformed brats in the area. As we entered through the East Gate, I saw that Chinese buffet restaurant I'd visited almost a couple of years ago when I'd spent a night in the port city at The Pan Pacific. But that was no dice with The Madame because of her bird appetite. After searchng through the various eateries, we settled on one place whose maitre d' had all the charm of a mortician but we didn't let that get in the way of having a good meal for a pretty inexpensive price. For 850 yen each, we had soup, salad, a variety of dim sum dishes and a mango pudding. It made me forget about that all-you-can-eat buffet and its 3,000 yen price since even I got pretty full on it. Not surprisingly, The Madame could only finish two-thirds of her stuff so I resuscitated my old university habit of finishing off my colleagues' dishes and scarfed down whatever she'd left. I also discovered that I did have some chivalry and just had her pay a fraction of that original price tag.

Afterwards, we walked down a few dozen metres to this tea shop which served bubble tea, a drink that The Madame hadn't forgotten from our Taiwan trip last year. She was even able to get the tapioca stuff hot while I settled for the cold version. We didn't stay too long since the actual cafe itself was tiny, and the lady managing the place was starting to give us the evil eye when more potential customers entered the place. So we took off and continued course our way through Chinatown for another half-hour before we made our way out via Yamashita Park and up the main street. Boy, can that woman talk a mile a minute. I had to tune out just before she made her washroom break halfway since I was in danger of going into a grand mal epileptic shock from trying to process all that she was gabbing about. The break calmed her down luckily.

We finally reached the Minato Mirai area in mid-afternoon and headed first to the World Porters Mall taking a break on the second floor deck outside for a while before heading down to the 1st floor supermarket area. I found out that she has a bit of a fetish for looking at all foods foreign; we took a good long scan at everything from that ol' Canadian breakfast classic of Weetabix to the cheeses in the refrigerated area. I told her that Weetabix not only looked like a scrub brush but it did much the same thing inside one's stomach. Then, it was up to the top floor to look at another one of The Madame's favourite things: living room furniture.

Leaving World Porters, we crossed the street into the amusement park area where one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the world was located. I guess being a weekday may have explained it, but the place was largely deserted. However, the Madame decided that we would go on that big wheel later in the evening. We then walked into the heart of Minato Mirai and into the triple building complex of Queen's Centre and searched for another place to dine at. We couldn't find anything there so we walked next door to the Landmark Mall and down a couple of floors into the garage area. We were surprised to find a few more restaurants abutting the gray concrete there. We went into a restaurant whose chain specializes in Asian food. Currently, The Madame has a major love for pho, the Vietnamese noodle dish. Being only 4:30, it wasn't too hard to get a table especially when we were the only ones in the place. We got ourselves a few dishes, and in fact, I repeated last week's Seoul food experience of dining on bibimbap. The Madame usually share our food but the bibimbap was off limits to her since she can't touch anything that's remotely spicy.

Double in fact, I think today's Yokohama trip was as much a gourmet tour as the trip to Seoul was with The Class Act. After the Asian dinner, we went upstairs to The Croissant Cafe for a bit of coffee and dessert. I was later to find out that I'd broke the bank today on the food budget.

Finally, night had fallen and so we returned to the big Ferris Wheel for that ride. I have to confess that I didn't show a very good side of myself. I rediscovered my fear of heights by going up that thing. The problem was that it was one of the largest Wheels in the world and that the most of the cabin was plexiglass. As we climbed higher and higher, I started getting the cold sweats in the feet and hands. Finally, I had just to close my eyes for most of the 15-minute ride; The Madame had to pep talk me in the latter half of the ride just so that she could take my mind off of the heights and the high winds. Nope, not a proud moment but at least I know that my second trip on a Ferris Wheel in a month will probably be my last one for a good long while.

The trip ended, The Madame and I made our way back to Minato Mirai Station and headed home. Just like the train back from Haneda Airport last week, the train home was another lustily packed affair. The increase in carbon dioxide in the car made it easy for me to get some shuteye. The Madame had a good time in Yokohama...that was the important point, though. And I'm gonna see her again in a couple of days with The Satyr and Skippy in tow for the "The Libertine".

Man, I gotta get some prelim work done for tomorrow's lessons. I've got the kids again first thing tomorrow morning and then I've got those special ones at Speedy's later in the afternoon.

I heard that J.J. Abrams, the guy behind "Alias" and "Mission: Impossible 3" will be giving, or trying to anyways, the comatose "Star Trek" franchise a booster shot for 2008. I kinda wonder if there were groans all around collectively when the announcement had been made, notably from LeVar Burton who commented that the franchise should either be buried forever or at least brought back from the dead no earlier than a decade later. Then again, I think how "Battlestar Galactica" and "Doctor Who" have been brought back to a miraculous success. Maybe Abrams might have something here although I have yet to find out how the new "Mission: Impossible" will fare. And I'm not too impressed about the initial idea of this new movie dealing with how the young James Kirk met Spock at Starfleet Academy. Just how is anyone gonna ever replace William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thursday April 20, 10:11 p.m.

Well, got through B2 and B2B. The latter was too pooped so he was strictly in listening/snoozing mode tonight. B2 was chattier today so she got a lot of talking time. Still not completely sure if it's working out but I think we may be coming to a happy medium here.

Gonna be hitting the hay in the next 20 or so minutes since I gotta head on out to Ikebukuro to meet The Madame, and perhaps The Satyr, for our adventures in Yokohama tomorrow. Since we're meeting at 9:30 a.m. there, I'd have to leave during the worst of rush hour, and I vowed I would not knowingly put myself in that sort of hell, so I'll leave just before 7. I'll need to find a cafe in the neighbourhood to spend an hour before meeting the lady.

I see that CNN's Jeanne Moos finally caught onto the fact about the reaction of TomKat's baby, Suri, in Japan (for the record, once again, suri means pickpocket in these here parts). Her feature talked about the strange lack of common sense that occurs in celebs when it comes to naming their kids. Apple Paltrow? Moon Unit Zappa? Suri Cruise? I guess Gwyneth (oh, there we go again) and Tom can afford those bodyguards for their kids when they get eventually bullied by their classmates.

Good night.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Thursday April 20, 1:33 p.m.

The juku boss was even loopier than usual today. She was getting into a couple of laughing fits over some misuse of vocab during her TOEIC practice. Not a bad way to earn 6000 yen. Mind you, I had to fight a mightly squall on the way home. The rain itself wasn't too bad but the winds were able to whip them up into something rather ferocious. My collapsible umbrella was DOA. Luckily, I have alternates to fall back on. Right now, though, it looks like everything has calmed back down.

Movie Buddy contacted me last night to compensate for that chocolate tour that he and The Sylph missed out on last Sunday. He threw in a suggestion for a hamburger tour. I can't really believe that he would suggest going out to multiple restaurants considering the slight frames of both him and his girl but I think he meant focusing on one non-Mcdonalds place. I forwarded his idea to some of the others; I'm not sure if I'm gonna get any nibbles on this one. Chocolate is a good food to go after with the ladies when it comes to buffets or cafes that specialize in it, but they seem to be rather skittish when it comes to any of the meats. However, The Madame didn't fare too badly with her Bucket O' Trash at Bubba Gump's.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo lived up to his name and fame as Japanese baseball's bona fide movie star a couple of days ago by announcing his retirement after this season in front of his homefield crowd in Sapporo without having told a soul beforehand...including his manager. The manager, an American, looked rather shellshocked in front of the media. I don't know if Shinjo did bupkiss as a New York Met but over here, he is the glamour god. He not only has been doing commericals for a travel agency dressed up in a airline company uniform seemingly designed by Sgt. Pepper's but now he's doing a series of underwear ads. He obviously is taking good care of himself. The problem is that he does the Hollywood thing too well...he looks like a living mannekin on screen with his shiny skin and teeth. He may just be a little too superficial, even for the day-glo world of Japanese tarento TV once he leaves the baseball field. This morning, in fact, the cameras shot him coming down initially soberly down a hallway in the arena (oh, is he reflecting sadly on the coming end to his career?). Suddenly, he flashes his pearly whites and does a little hop before yellng "Good morning!" to the media and going into a strut. As they would say over here, "Sasuga Shinjo." (That's Shinjo for you).

I'm waiting for that disc from Maruzen. I called up the automatic switchboard for deliveries at The Pelican Delivery Service asked them to send the disc over between 3 and 6 today. I would've done it earlier but since the earlier slot was between 12 and 3, I couldn't take the risk of having the guy bring it over at something like 12:05 since I was still coming home at that point. I hope he doesn't decide to wait until 5:59. I would like the chance to at least tape it for B2's sake tonight. Speaking of her, since I have so much nori left over, I'll give her and her beau a pack of the stuff. I'm still hoping that things continue to slowly improve between me and them. I still don't think we're quite out of the woods yet. It's a bit hard to believe that it was a week ago that I'd headed over to Seoul.

I just finished off watching an episode of "CSI: Miami". It seems like the CSI franchise has become part and parcel of TV Tokyo's noontime programming. I gather that the station can't live on travel and cooking shows alone. The ep was the paparazzi show with the suspect being this obvious Tom Cruise clone. I forget the actor's name but it looks he's trying to outdo the rest of the room in charisma through his character of Horatio Crane. He sounds like a combo of Jack Webb of "Dragnet" and Don Johnson of "Miami Vice".

Anyways, I guess I'll just keep the vigil for that textbook CD and plan for B2 and B2B.
Thursday April 20, 7:49 a.m.

Lou Dobbs is especially sarcastic and flippant today about everything from China to illegal immigration. Sometimes, I do kinda pine for those days when newscasters just reported the news without injecting any of their opinions.

The students at Speedy's last night were fine enough. I had my typical sessions with 001 and 006. 001 was her usual happy-go-lucky self...taking a few cute potshots at me, while I took a few snide swipes at her. 006 was her demure button-down self so I was a lot more serious in her situation but a few peeps of my humour did poke out from time to time.

It looks like I'm gonna be one busy guy on Saturday. Speedy informed me that the new student in EIC is coming for her 2nd session on the 22nd just before I start my inaugural video lesson involving "Friends".

Looks like my computer has been acting up again...this time, with Hotmail. It takes a good minute to send out each response. This has happened to me before. I think I will have to check some of my diagnostic programs such as Ad-Aware and see if they will clear up the problem.

Well, I'd continue but it looks like Blogger is gonna be shutting down for some maintenance so I'm outta here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wednesday April 19, 9:29 a.m.

Shard delivered his version of wake-up OJ in the form of a link showing Natalie Portman rapping as part of a Saturday Night Live sketch. I think Eminem may have to watch his back. I have forwarded it to some of the folks on this side of the Pacific who may still see her as dead Queen Amidala or Leon's little lover.

More on the celeb scene...CNN has brought up the news that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are now the proud parents of a baby girl named Suri. Zain Verjee breathlessly told the captive audience that the name Suri means princess in Hebrew and rose in some other language. Well, over here, it means pickpocket (snicker, snicker).

I've gotten some interesting responses from my e-mail forwarding the photos and commentary on my trip to Akihabara a week and a half ago. The Egg made a comment of some fear for my sanity and then told me that he and the missus would be delaying their trip here another number of months before going into some of the movies that he's looking forward to. The Doctor completely ignored the content and asked me a sage question about the employment situation in Japan...not that I minded. I've always enjoyed giving my angle on what's been happening in my part of the world.

Well, I'm just waiting here for that textbook CD to finally arrive on my doorstep...maybe. So I'm in a holding pattern until the early afternoon. Mind you, I do have a pile of ironing to do.
Tuesday April 18, 11:25 p.m.

Well, the Korean nori has been getting some good reviews from the students. Looks like its reputation precedes it. The juku boss quickly ingested her souvenir with her mother downstairs right after I'd given it to her. Hopefully, there will be some leftovers for me once I'm done with my Souvenir Santa Claus act. It was just the Milds tonight; I gather that McGirl is off being a groupie again for her favourite punk rock singer somewhere in Honshu. Then, it was another one of those near-esoteric talks with The Siberian.

I had to send a fax over to Maruzen to find out what was holding up delivery of that textbook CD for B2. I got a fast reply back apologizing and guaranteeing delivery within the next 48 hours.

Speedy is pretty happy with the new state of affairs concerning that video thing this Saturday. I'll have to give the plans the once over at work tomorrow. I'm kinda wondering if Student 006 is gonna be pulling out again.

I was just browsing through the local channels before heading off to the juku when I came across this entertainment piece on NTV. I found out that one of the grads from Morning Musume has gone into some rather serious thespianship. Natsumi Abe, one of the original members of the girl supergroup has taken on the role of a Japanese woman who ends up doing time in a penitentiary in the States for getting involved in some nasty drug business thanks to her Mob boyfriend. It was rather odd seeing this aidoru in scenes involving being shaken down by FBI agents, being stripped search in The Big House and basically ending up in this Japanese version of "Women In Chains" considering that the worst thing this Musume has ever done was just innocently plagiarize some other authors' works during her attempts to write her own book of poetry (although the media made it sound like she assassinated Kennedy). Well, good on her; it's probably about time that one of the Musume finally breaks out as a serious anybody instead of having to freak out on roller coasters in front of the camera or sample food in restaurants. I do wonder, though, if this will start a trend in former Musume taking on some meaty roles. The whole thing reminds me of former Brady Bunch actress Eve Plumb doing "Dawn: Diary of a Teenage Runaway" (after all, I don't the Abe special will quite hit the heights of something like the prison drama "Oz"). So, will we see fellow MM alumna Maki Goto play a lesbian serial killer a la Sharon Stone's Catherine Trammell? Or will lithe Kaori Iida play the newest raw recruit for the SDF's version of Special Forces? Or will the very first leader, Yuko Nakazawa, play a ciggy-smoking, hard-drinking gang leader...wait a minute, I think she actually was one of those before she joined the group.

After some more surfing, I came across one of these in-depth reports on one of the other channels on a much more serious topic. Apparently, according to the report, the notorious cult Aum Shinrikyo, which perpetrated the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo Metro 11 years back, may be on the move again to some prominence. The charismatic guy who took over the group (now called Aleph), when mammoth guru/psychopath Chizuo Matsumoto aka Shoko Asahara was arrested, may be trying to bring back the cult to its philosophy of the old days apparently. Fumihiro Joyu was this media-savvy and telegenic representative of the group in the days and months following the attacks who fended off the slings and arrows of the media in frequent press conferences. Then he went underground for several years. Well, it looks he may be popping up again, albeit on hidden cameras. The image of him was fuzzy at best but he seems to have gained quite a few kilos and lost some hair in the decade since. However, the report also said that there is a philosophical schism forming within the group with the line splitting between those who support the return of Joyu and those who don't. Meanwhile, you can bet that the media won't let this go. And the reluctant neighbours of Aleph HQ have been reminding the group of their past crimes in the form of a very big and long banner on the side of the building wall. It alarms me that Joyu may be trying to bring back the cult to its former glory. Does that mean he wants to bring back Aum as an apocalyptic fringe group?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tuesday April 18, 3:55 p.m.

It's always a bit of a soap opera with the Beehive. No, not that there has been any recent catfights amongst the members. In fact, the only catfight that I've witnessed in my 7 years with the ladies was a few years ago with one lady who made the mistake of antagonizing Ms. Travel. Her ouster was quiet and immediate. Nope, the soap opera aspect in this case is one of cast rotation. Ms. Tulip will be heading with her family for Toronto in midsummer but it looks like one of the former students may be coming back into the fold...Ms. Potter. Hopefully, she'll be more talkative this time around since she was usually quite mute during her first time with us.

Ms. Perth gratefully took my crutches for her injured husband. I had to make a quick return trip back home just when I was about to enter the subway station because I'd left the verdamnt things in the apartment. Still, I managed to get to the classroom on time. Ms. Perth was the first and only one to arrive at that point. Ms. Travel has finally returned after a few weeks away taking care of her ailing brother. Not sure how he's doing but it looks like Ms. Travel herself is OK or at least hiding any sorrow very well.

Since I was due to meet The Teacher at Beckers inside of Tsudanuma Station at 1, I decided to hang out at the local Maruzen across from the station. I ended up just browsing through the mags for about a good part of an hour before heading over to the fast food outlet. Our new venue looked more stylish than the old cafe at Myoden Station, and the prices reflected that. Like at the Shinjuku outlet a few weeks ago, my lunch set cost me 700 yen and I had to pay for it since it was a fast food joint. Hm...The Teacher chose wisely. She took a look at the pictures from Korea with The Class Act. She laughingly pointed out that it was very evident from the fashion sense of The Lady and The Matron that these ladies occupied a higher tax bracket. I didn't particularly notice anything different about what they wore, but then again I'm just a Neanderthalic man, aren't I? It looks like Beckers will be our main venue for the next little while.

I picked up my suit from the cleaners and then sent my negatives from Seoul and Akiba to the photo shop for those reprints. I got the good news from JJ that she would be willing to change her lesson day and time to Sunday from Saturday. Last night, before I was to leave Speedy's, the boss man himself received a phone call from a lady who wanted to join our video class programme which had remained empty since its offiical inception at the beginning of March. Speedy wasn't too happy (although he covered it well) on hearing that I'd had JJ on Saturday afternoon considering that this was my project to begin with. However, I'm not willing to hold onto a whole bunch of empty Saturday afternoons open for the mere possibility of a student coming in when I could get my regular guaranteed private students during those 2 hours. In any case, I've sent the good news onto Speedy.

Well, gotta get ready for my juku lessons tonight. There'll be more Korean nori handed out and hopefully a lot of questions about my trip last week.
Monday April 17, 10:03 p.m.

Doing a rare entry from outside....Speedy's computer, in fact. I figured that by the time I got home, it would be too late to write something in considering that I'll probably have to go straight to bed. Tuesday will be another long one.

I'm somewhat troubled after my first stint with The Class Act since our Seoul trip. Although I think things are still OK, my raging paranoid Spidey Sense was tingling with some remarks from The Lady about how quiet I was during stretches of our time in Korea, notably during the rides on the subway, and wondering if I were having a good time. Well, when you have two middle-aged Japanese women gabbing away, I'm not exactly gonna be able to jump in...I made that point obliquely clear to them. Then, I recall having a slight talk with The Matron back at the hotel on the morning of our second day there, and asking about how their evening was. She giggled and gestured that the two of them were griping. I'm kinda wondering now if The Lady was griping about me and my seemingly noncommittal behaviour. I always had the feeling that I wasn't really helping the ladies out during our time there aside from asking the concierge at the hotel in English about directions. She may have been resentful about this since she was picking up my tab for the trip. I don't feel good about this although I may once again be making a huge Mt. Everest out of a molehill. But the fact is that I'm just not gonna be very talkative outside of class with a bunch who will only use Japanese at high speed. That, and the fact that The Matron's kids made a slightly snide remark about me ( good-naturedly or not), got me in a rather dark mood for my time at lunch and my commute up to Speedy's. Y'know, I try to be on my best behaviour at these things, but.... In any case, I'll be a bit more selective when it comes to these junkets from now on (not that I'll probably be invited to anything like this in the near future).

Well, at least the Part-Timer was in good form tonight. However, it was a bit of a juggling act with the EIC class. I had the one gabby young lady for the last of her 3 lessons but she was paired with someone new who hadn't even joined the regular Sunday cooking session. The new person wasn't exactly a tabula rasa when it came to English ability but there was an obvious gap between the two. And she didn't exactly look too beamingly by the end of my Wallenda class but I tried my best with all of the humour I could muster. Enh...I can only hope that the new one will be on her own next week so I can use a bit more TLC with her.

Skippy sent me a reply to my little apology about the raunchiness of yesterday's Subway sex chat. She reassured me that the reason behind her quiet mood had to do more with the velocity of The Madame's iterances (in a good way) more than the content. Well, all I can say is that she has brushed it aside so that's that. As for the Madame, she's gleefully sent out a blanket mail to all of us concerning what will be happening on Friday and Sunday.

Speedy told me that he and the missus went to L'Aqua yesterday for a bit of well-needed R&R. This would mean that we weren't all that distant from each other on Sunday since The Madame, The Satyr and I were just less than a kilometre away at Bubba Gump...the antithesis of all that's spa-related. However, we did share the fact that a good amount of money was parted from us. Speedy was a bit surprised at how much he had to shuck out for his time there after a couple of full-body massages. I tried to rationalize it by stating that if he just treats his time there as an annual thing instead of a weekly pilgrimage, then it wouldn't sound so expensive.

In any case, I'm just about ready to head on that long subway home. I'll probably hit Chiba by around midnight. And then it'll be time to get up and at 'em by early tomorrow morning for my first session with The Beehive in a couple of weeks. Ms. Perth has asked me if her hubby could borrow my "borrowed" crutches from my ankle accident several years ago. It would seem that he snapped his Achilles Tendon in a tennis match late last month.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Monday April 17, 7:27 a.m.

My time with the kids yesterday was pretty run-of-the-mill. We just exchanged...wait, that wouldn't be the right word...I pelted the sisters with questions about their ski odyssey in Italy and Switzerland while they just merely looked at my photos of Seoul. The Junior is definitely turning into the usual teenager. She even accused me of smelling like fish! Good heavens. I was reminded of my chemistry class of producing esters. I recall the bunch of us high school kids getting a lot of space on the bus home that day despite the fact that we didn't look anything like gangbangers.

The rest of my day was a mix of culinary excess and explicit folly. I met up with The Skippy, The Satyr and The Madame at Kyobashi Station in the early afternoon. We gave the 100% Chocolate Cafe a try. We were lucky to get a couple of tables there since seating is restricted to just 18 people. The Satyr and The Madame hadn't eaten any lunch and were wondering about getting something more savory before the sweets, but the waitress quickly cut them off at the pass, warning that we arrived just before things were to get busy. My cynicism immediately congratulated her on her sales tactics but another part of me did think that she was on the up-and-up with her kind consideration. We had to order things first before getting our seats. Almost all of the food and drink were chocolate-based. For the food, we could have things such as a nice little tarte or a long breadstick with chocolate cream inside but we had to specify which type of chocolate we wanted from a menu. The six choices were in large buckets in a refrigerated case, kinda like at an ice cream parlour. I chose the Chocolate Tarte with Chocolate Whip, and an iced tea. Each of us even got a complementary chocolate square of the day. Apparently, the place has devoted each day to a certain kind of chocolate. The 16th was devoted to Ecuador Hi-Chocolate. No idea what today will be. Behind the tables was a display case showing the various chocolates from all over the world. The cafe wasn't Willy Wonka's Choclate Factory by a longshot but it's proven to be a popular place with the resident Tokyoites for the past 18 months. I did get a much reception to my Seoul shots with my more sympatico adult colleagues.

Afterwards, we decided to hit the local Subways around the corner from The 100% Chocolate Cafe. Since Kyobashi is a business area, the sandwich shop was virtually empty when we came in which was grand for us. The Madame needed a bit of help ordering the sandwich for which I, a long veteran of all things submarine, provided able assistance. It would seem that she gets a bit nervous about the choices she has to make. However, she certainly wasn't lacking in the more raunchier aspects of gab. For the next couple of hours, a lot of our blue talk kinda centered on the nitty-gritty of previous mates' sexual congress for which The Satyr and I were perfect foils for The Madame's stream-of-consciousness thoughts. She even managed to render Skippy silent and even slightly embarrassed at points...which is saying a lot considering that Skippy is usually a very open young lady....see the entry for April 9th during our trip to Akihabara. Then again, Skippy was the only member of our menage-a-quatre who was in a relationship; it's awfully hard discussing the politics of taking baths with boyfriends when one currently has a boyfriend. However, some of the randiness was offset by another tangent of discussing some of the grislier angles of people getting sick on amusement park rides.

Skippy had to take off for another engagement for which I'm sure she had plenty of fodder for chat with her other friends. She said she would leave names out of it but I'm sure that The Madame wouldn't have minded either way. However, she, The Satyr and I headed out for Korakuen to fulfill a wish that The Madame had after our time at L'Aqua a week and a half ago.

The three of us had dinner at Bubba Gump's, the culinary emporium devoted to Forrest Gump, on the outer rim of the Korakuen complex. It was ironic that a lady with all the appetite of a hummingbird would want to have a second try at this very American of establishments. But then The Satyr pointed out correctly that The Madame is a mass of paradoxes....someone who seems prim, proper and nervous about ordering anything from Subways who can yet talk about sex with the Xmas glee of a little girl. I just welcomed him to the club and told him that we have jackets.

Our waitress was one of those ladies who believes that speaking in a high, whiny voice like one of those members of the endangered elevator girl speices was a virtue. Along with the rest of the ambient noise in the restaurant, we were just barely able to make out that she was asking whether it was the first time for us to come here and what we would like to order. The Madame, again most ironically, ordererd The Bucket of Trash whilst The Satyr had some sort of Mahi-Mahi dish over rice. I went for The Southern Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes. Very unironically, I ordered a Mama's Favourite....a concoction of Kahlua and other sweet stuff, a milkshake. The portions were certainly generous. It's been a long time since I had fried chicken on those dimensions.

Talk at Bubba Gump's, unlike the R-rated stuff at Subways, was all centered on The Madame's exploration of her spirituality. It was just as if one of those supernatural beings she often talked about got her brain and voice box set to automatic. For the next few hours, she proceeded to relate to The Satyr all of the stuff that she had been pelting me with for the past several months. The Satyr took it all in very liberally and also said that he was quite open. However, by the time she started talking about her past lives on various planets, The Satyr and I traded little "Are you kiddin' me?" looks. There was another party at anothe table whose members could speak Englsih...I did wonder if they had picked up any of the conversation.

By the time everything had been exhausted, it was close to 10 p.m., so the three of us made our way back to the nearest station. The Madame also invited The Satyr for our planned jaunt to Yokohama on Friday since he may be having a free day on the 21st. For dim sum, the more the merrier. Plus, there is "The Libertine" the next Sunday. It was evident that The Madame has become our resident social planner. When the girl went off to the other line, The Satyr and I made our way to The Tozai. He mentioned that he was able to renew his passport without too much hassle but that he deplored the conditions at The Tokyo Immigration Centre when it came to transferring the visa information to the new passport. I told him that I understood his feelings...the TIC will never be a favourite place of mine in The Big Sushi. I'm convinced that the seeming understaffing and the crowded conditions there are all part of a conspiracy based on security control. However, I informed that immigration facilities in any of the major US cities would probably make TIC a veritable paradise in comparison. For one thing, the staffers in Shinagawa have been unfailingily polite.

In any case, once I got my rumpled self back home, I sent off a letter of apology to Skippy lest she was unduly offended by the talk earlier in the afternoon.