Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday June 10, 4:22 p.m.

Doing a rare entry at Speedy's. Just as well since I probably won't be coming here on Monday. The Part-Timer has cancelled her regular lesson and I just got word from SIL that she'll have to take care of her ailing mother. The lack of lessons is never all that great but to be honest, I wouldn't mind the occasional Monday afternoon off. And I can catch "The Da Vinci Code" finally. But I'm also catching "Poseidon" tomorrow as well. Hmm...two movies in as many days. 3,000 yen down the drain...well, it's life.

I got word from the juku boss that The Fortune Teller will only be coming for another couple of sessions before finishing his time. She reassured me that he didn't have any problems with the lessons but then again I said the same thing about the gym when I quit that a few weeks ago. There was a problem with the gym...I wasn't enjoying it. And since I never got the word that The FT's lessons were temporary, I can only assume that he wasn't all that thrilled with them. To be honest, I wasn't all that thrilled with his lessons although he himself is a nice enough guy. It's just that there's only so much that could be gained with him just explaining his fortune telling each week. The boss also told me that I'm gonna be having another model lesson from 9 to 9:30 next Tuesday which is usually The Siberian's time slot. He's also another guy who could be jettisoned. Now, if I can only get rid of B2 the same way...mind you, I'll see what the next week brings. If it's more of the same way, I'll probably send my own "Dear John" letter over to her.

To add insult to injury, the kids this morning were about as animated as granite. I came rather close to strangling one of them. However, I swallowed my pride and just chalked it up to another round of puberty. Luckily, I had JJ who's always been gung-ho about her English, if not all that confident. And it looks pretty good that I'm gonna have 002 again after several months' absence. The lady came in to have a consultation with Speedy about me coming over to her neck of the woods from July. She said that her hubby may be a little antsy about me coming over to her house each week while he's off at work. I told her that she can just show one of my bloated pics to him and he can rest easy.

To show how gung-ho Japan has become about The World Cup, which started today, one just has to compare television priorities over the last few days. Over in the States and on CNN, the big news has been the assassination of Iraqi Public Enemy No. 1, al-Zarqawi. Meanwhile, over here, it's just been about Japan's chances in the soccer tourney in Germany. However, there has been the other big coverage on that tragic figure of a woman, Suzuka Hatakeyama, who killed young Goken Yoneyama in Akita Prefecture because she snapped over the death of her own daughter some weeks earlier.

Well, gotta head on off to Mr. Influence's big party.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Wednesday June 7, 5:42 p.m.

Quite a hodgepodge of weather so far today. We had squall activity earlier this morning and then it's back to early summer right now. I was considering whether to catch "The Da Vinci Code" since I had no classes in the morning but that was rendered moot since I had to wait for another package going to The Anime King. It did arrive.

Looks like Speedy is finally getting back on track in getting his students. It looks like I'm gonna have another two new ones...or to be exact, one new one on Wednesday afternoons and an old one returning to the fold: 002. After some soft but persistent chipping away for the past several months, she's finally agreed to have me come over to her neck of the woods to teach her.

Mr. Influence is having a home party on Saturday so it looks like I'm gonna be in for some really good cooking. It's gonna be a long day, though. I've got the kids early on Saturday, followed by JJ and then heading over to the school to see Speedy and 002 for some prelim talk on her future lessons. Mrs. Perth of The Beehive had asked me whether I would be available on the same day for a thank-you dinner since I had lent her husband my old crutches to aid him during his convalescence from a torn Achilles' Tendon but that's not gonna happen. In fact, I don't think any of the June Saturdays will be open but I let her know that I'm still flexible on Sunday.

Speaking of The Beehive, the bunch of us and I had our occasional lunch at that hidden restaurant in Tsudanuma, Takimoto. Some really good food there. I'll be getting a rare Tuesday morning off from them next week since my increasingly rare teaching partner will be showing up for them. Perhaps I can see "The Da Vinci Code" then.

I caught the first of two appearances of Larry King in the grounds of San Quentin Prison this morning. It was rather ironic seeing this since I'd caught "The Shawshank Redemption" the other night. There were the 5 inmates sitting across from Larry. It was obvious that Larry was interested in getting the tabloid fodder: y'know...bull queens, shank fights, sordid pasts...but there was especially one lifer, a guy who resembled a middle-aged Chris Rock, who was openly disagreeing (civilly, though) with King's approach and who wanted to emphasize all the good things about life behind bars via various reform programmes. I could certainly understand his need to show a more civil side (if one can be found) to life behind bars, especially in a maximum-security installation, but I couldn't also help feeling that there was a bit of spin and advance coaching for the five. But the representative for the staff himself just reduced the hard life by describing about "a few knuckleheads" if the only scary inmate was Curly Howard of The Three Stooges. Part 2 is tomorrow so I'm gonna see who else is coming on.

Anyways, gotta get ready for 001...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Monday June 5, 10:15 p.m.

Yup, still here but since Speedy's is the only place I have free Internet access. I will be headed home in the next 15 minutes. I do have The Beehive tomorrow. I certainly hope that I won't be getting more of that whiny pouting from Mrs. Tee...if there's anything that gets me on edge..

My model lesson with that writing student seems to have gone OK. Her alleged first class will be on the 26th but I'll believe her when I see her. Her writing sample shows some good usage of vocabulary though she said demurely that her dictionary was her ghostwriter and paragraph structure is in order but she's gonna need a lot of work on structure and punctuation.

It looks like Skippy will be joining The Madame and I for dinner if not for "Poseidon". Movie Buddy and The Sylph have bailed out since they had caught it today. MB reassured me that it's a harmless roller coaster of a thriller. Problem is, I throw up on roller coasters. Skippy, being the ever happy social butterfly, has already thrown out the possibility for the weekend of the 17th as the chance to head out to hip Shimokitazawa, west of Shibuya. She knows a place with really good okonomiyaki and curry buns. Always thinking with her stomach....I like that.

In the big news, police may have caught the killer of that little boy who had been murdered almost 3 weeks ago in Akita Prefecture. The sad strange twist is that the killer may be the mother of a girl who had been murdered fairly recently in the same area. Apparently, the police have found some CSI-level evidence in her car and around her home. The theory is that the mother got so frustrated with the police being supposedly so slow in finding the perpetrator that she finally snapped. There was even filmed footage of her talking with the media about the boy's case; she looked very worn physically and mentally. So the sad thing is that instead of finding a serial killer, the cops may have come across a person who's both victim and killer.

And then there was that earlier case of that 51-year-old woman who strangled her 19-year-old daughter to death in the daughter's apartment where three fossilized children were found. Well, according to SIL, that mother was responsible for birthing all three kids decades ago and killed her adult daughter because the two of them were caught up in a love triangle with the same man. You couldn't get more film noir than this.

I heard about that thwarted terrorist attack in Toronto. I'm sighing in relief. Apparently, those 17 folks were targeting The CN Tower or CSIS HQ. Frankly, the world is getting just a tad too exciting for my comfort.
Monday June 5, 7:45 p.m.

Still going through the backlog that was my life last week since my access to the Internet is now severely curtailed. I just finished up with The Part-Timer. Good student to have...a tonic after especially having a deadweight student. Too bad that she'll be away next week. Kinda biding my time before the model lesson student comes in about half an hour.

Well, continuing on the movie beat...along with "The Shawshank Redemption", I have been enjoying the Star Trek DVDs. I even splurged and got myself The Director's Cut of "Star Trek - The Motion Picture". When I caught this flick as a painfully Trekkie-ridden and shy boy on a drizzly Saturday in November 1979 with my brother, I came out wondering if I'd seen the new Star Trek as filtered through "2001: A Space Odyssey". It just didn't seem like the ol' Star Trek, despite seeing Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Everything and everyone seemed as washed out as the new uniforms. And gad...that excruciatingly long voyage through V'Ger...20 minutes (or so I thought) of having to see reaction shots through an unfathomably convoluted and dark spaceship. My brother basically treated the human adventure as a chance to catch up on some sleep. The faint applause when the Enterprise escaped the huge special effect at the end of the movie was probably more for relief that the movie was just about over.

This Director's Edition was done back in 2000 with some new effects and obviously before the passing of director Robert Wise, composer Jerry Goldsmith and James "Scotty" Doohan. With the passage of time, I've become more accepting of it. I don't openly yawn at the long ponderous voyage through V'Ger and I've gotten a bit more used to some of the bizarre (even for Shatner) hammy moments. Still, this first movie will still be the prototype for the pattern of bad odd Trek pics and good even pics. Well, it's not quite that bad but it still doesn't really match ol' Trek. The best thing about The Original Series was the relationships amongst the big three. It certainly wouldn't be the special effects although to be fair it was the 60s. The Director's Edition may have completed some patchwork on the effects but it was really the writing and the pacing that needed the most work and those are the things that couldn't be altered. I only got hints of the old banter and sparkle amongst Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley. I heard that the actors had given the writing staff and Wise some hell about what the characters should have said. Well, apparently even the actors didn't know all that much either. Still, I enjoyed the scenes of the re-launch of the NCC-1701 along with the legendary Goldsmith score (I think there must have been a button on Sulu's panel called "Soundtrack"). I'll be looking forward to seeing the picture again just to hear the commentary track with Wise and some of the others. Of course, neither Shatner nor Nimoy could be bothered to provide their insights since apparently providing DVD commentary is about as distinguished as cleaning out the toilets at Taco Bell after 3-Bean Salad Night to a number of actors. However, Shatner did give some comments through that really puffy face of his.
Monday June 5, 5:44 p.m.

Well, well,'s been quite a while since the last entry. I would've loved to have put down a few lines last Wednesday but Blogger was out of commission.

Well, where do I begin? First, I guess, is that Michael Jackson's fairly long trip in The Big Sushi finally ended on June 2 after 5 days of pinpoint shopping and looking around...of course with his usual entourage and the frenzied media & fans. I think for a world-famous celeb who wasn't here for a concert, 5 days is one long vacation. He was sighted at the MTV Japan Awards but then he popped up in a Chiba pachinko parlour, bought something in a Yurakucho department store (it wasn't a cellphone...he could've borrowed one out of hundreds thanks to the amassed fans by the entrance) and then bought 3 boxes of books at a bookstore in Omotesando across from Aoyama Gakuin University (apparently, the receipt was on the order of 5 metres long). A friend of mine also noted that he did visit a few orphanages along the way (kinda like asking the fox to guard the henhouse, if you ask me). And as we are all to find out at 10 p.m. tonight, he made a surprise visit to the SMAP boys during filming of tonight's show (somehow, I don't think I'm gonna be able to see that but it would be a pleasure to see that look of shock on KimuTaku's face after years of sullen surliness on that mug of his). After the better part of a week, even the usually frenzied entertainment media folks were wondering aloud when The Gloved One would finally be heading home. Well, he's gone now but we were all left thinking whether Jackson was actually thinking of setting up stakes here. And I do have an empty apartment beside me and a house across from me that's just been emptied. Hmmm.....

Connected with the above story, I picked up a new word from the manager of The Tea Room. It's kashikiri. When I taught The New Yorker there last Monday, the manager was grateful that I did come in when I did since she couldn't otherwise reach me. Apparently, The Tea Room was off limits last Thursday and Friday until 5 p.m. both days due to this kashikiri. Kashikiri means "closed off for special purposes". Well, as it turns out, I wasn't planning on coming on Thursday since I had B2 elsewhere and I ended up not turning up on Friday either. I got there at 4:45 on Friday. The place had pictures of various Disney characters splayed all over the front. I got into the place where the manager gave me her usual enigmatic smile and told me in no uncertain terms that the place wouldn't be open for public use until 5 sharp! I kinda wondered if MJ had decided to use the place for his own thing. In any case, The UL showed up just a few minutes after I did and decided to take me over to the station Starbucks, and since The UL was the customer, not the manager, we made our way back down the street. Hopefully, the manager isn't one to hold a grudge.

The weekend was fairly uneventful. I spent most of it watching DVDs. I finally caught "The Shawshank Redemption" for the first time, some 12 years after its initial release in theatres. That's quite a lot of time for great reviews and hype to build up. So one of my students had lent it to me. And y'know, it was indeed a fine flick but I was surprised since one of my assumptions has been broken. I thought Shawshank was about the prisoner, Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins and his slow crawl back up from the dregs of prison life to some form of strength and eventual escape, with the help of his buddy, Red....after all, the latter half of the title is Redemption. However, aside from his battles with the brutal bull queens and the tyrannical warden, Dufresne just seemed to have this grand plan all along. He and the plan just resembled Verbal Kint and his grand act in "The Usual Suspects". And Red was just the buddy and not really a co-conspirator. The great friendship between the two was there, though. The other surprise was in the casting. I was amused by seeing William Sadler, who usually plays very deadly bad guys in stuff like "Die Hard 2" and "Star Trek: DS9", play a none-too-bright but essentially nice (well, as nice guys go in a maximum-security prison) guy. And then there was the veteran actor James Whitmore playing the sadly doomed Brooks; it was also interesting to see this actor whom I've seen play it crusty or kindly from everything from an old ep of "The Twilight Zone" to cereal commercials actually swear like a sailor in one scene.

Anyways gotta get ready for that next class...