Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday July 8, 7:02 p.m.

Just minding the store while Speedy gets his I get a good hour of Internet time at least.

I gather that for Prime Minister Koizumi, this past week has been a microcosm of his roller-coaster 4 years in office. His dream of visiting Graceland came true a week ago. Then his old colleague of former PM Hashimoto passed away. And finally, the North Koreans decided to put their own homage in by flipping 6 or 7 missiles into the Sea of Japan. Ahhh....there's nothing like a salute from L'il Kim.

My past week has also resembled that of Koizumi's to a lesser degree. I did get another full Wednesday off, my class with B2 and B2B was actually quite pleasant, and I got an early Friday. But I just finished a threesome of classes today to varying degrees of success. My first class with Farrah was OK but I wouldn't say it was especially noteworthy. Then my second class in the form of an EIC with a new cooking student did work out pretty well. Finally, though, my longest class with this friendly ramen shop owner was a complete bust although I think the two of us did enjoy our conversation. It was a failure in that it was the video class with the pilot episode of "Friends", a show that neither of us were pretty keen on and when we did...briefly...devote some of our time to the actual DVD, the enjoyment factor was pretty much nil. However I did uncover that she would probably like to take some real classes. That, I can do very happily.

However, Speedy gave me the heads-up that The Part-Timer and I may have to vacate our happy classroom on Mondays since there is the possibility that the school may be getting a couple of new students. The Part-Timer is my private student and not a paying student of Speedy's and so I did give her the warning in our first class way back in January. Hm....I can only think of the Doutor Cafe near the station. However, any changes won't be happening for a couple of weeks at least.

I gave a listen to my new Yumi Matsutoya CD which I'd bought on Monday. It actually sounded pretty good which is a pleasant switch. I had once been collecting any CD by hers that came out since she had this way of crafting some good hooks into AOR tunes for years. However, in the 90s, the well seemingly went least for me. However, with this newest one, she seems to have gone back into the time machine and fished out some of those groovy hooks again.

I'm glad that JJ decided to see me earlier this morning. I've got the entire Sunday off tomorrow. Good enough to clean my apartment and just veg out.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tuesday July 4, 10:15 p.m.

Typing this from the juku thanks to the generosity of the boss. I don't have much time, though, so I should get started pretty quickly.

It's been one of those nights again at the juku. Seven and Dr. J (my newest acquistion) were fine but it's been another one of those wobbly juggling acts between The Salaryman and The Milds. In fact, The Milds informed the boss that they were getting a bit nervous about The Salaryman's somewhat higher ability. Well, they may not have too much longer to worry since at this rate, I'm not sure how long he will stay. The Siberian came by for his hour of chat...or at least, a semi-lucid version of one. Obviously, sleep has been a somewhat fleeting concept for him of late due to the demands of his studies. He was giving me a larger than average amount of blank stares when I tried to keep up my end of the conversation.

Well, I've got another free Wednesday tomorrow since my lone student at Speedy's, 007, has pulled another sudden cancellation. I'm not that suspicious of him since he is the president of his own company and therefore cancellations will be a frequent part of his pattern. At least, I can relax somewhat although Speedy hinted that he would like me to get started on another one of his projects. I'll let it go until tomorrow night.

The Satyr and MB got back to me about "Mission: Impossible 3". Looks like the 16th will be good for both of them. Skippy and The Madame have turned me down, the former due to the fact that a pal of hers managed to get some free tickets (lucky bastard....and I mean that in the most affectionate way).

Earlier in the day, I was able to meet up with The Beehive and my teaching partner for the official goodbye party for Mrs. Tulip. All of us piled into two cars and headed for the Makuhari Messe New Otani Hotel in the convention city complex just east of Funabashi City in Chiba. We had one of those nice little lunches in one of those nicely lit restaurants. That old fellow from the early days of the group whom I'd met at a previous party also showed up. My teaching partner let him know how good he looked but I had to internally disagree. He's looking pretty sallow. He told me point blank that his doctor had to fit him with a catheter to provide some assistance with his failing kidneys or that he would die. Kinda makes me think about what my old age may be like. I can't rely on the government to help me out when I'm his age.

Anyways, I'm reaching the half-hour mark and I'm sure the boss is wondering how much longer I have to handle my e-mail so I'll cut off here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Monday July 3, 8:36 p.m.

I'm in that lull between Canada Day and Independence Day. Not that it would mean too much here in Japan. However, there is...or anniversary of sorts to be celebrated yesterday. 40 years ago on July 2nd, The Beatles arrived in Japan for their only concert here on these shores, and basically one of their last concerts, period. To commemorate the invasion of the British, there was a contest held amongst all of the Japanese Beatles tribute bands in the same room of the same Capitol Tokyu Hotel where The Fab Four had held their press conference (considering how glib Paul and the boys were during media scrums in the States, I can't even imagine how bemused the Japanese press were). NHK News even showed some of the musical (?) highlights. The winning band will now get to spend a night in the same suite that The Beatles had stayed in. The rep from that band said that they would breathe in the same air that their idols had taken in from 4 decades back. Considering that those same molecules are probably now scattered throughout the entire globe...I will snicker lightly.

It was good then that SIL made her comeback today. I got the call from The Lady that she would return to the fold after several weeks away to care for her ailing mother. SIL, being one of the big teenage fans here for both The Beatles and Elvis, had some good stories to regale me with about her near-miss with musical legendry at The Budokan. Apparently, she did have tickets to see Paul, John, George and Ringo at The Budokan but her school disallowed any opportunity on threat of expulsion for her or her classmates to step anywhere near hedonistic debauchery. So, the kids were forced to scream gleefully as the police armada escorting the boys passed by their school on their way to the arena. Their teacher wasn't amused....must've been a Pat Boone fan. As for her thoughts on PM Koizumi's brush with greatness at Graceland, she was half-envious and half-scornful about the antics of Japan's No. 1 Elvis fan. I did get some interesting trivia in that the Prime Minister's brother happens to be the President of Japan's leading Elvis fan club.

However, speaking of Japanese Prime Ministers, I was surprised to find out this morning that former PM Ryutaro Hashimoto had passed away a couple of days ago (shows you how much local TV I was watching over the weekend). He was well known as one of the ministers who had gone mano-a-mano with one of the States' toughest Cabinet secretaries over trade policy. Hashimoto left this mortal coil fairly young. He was only about 68 years old. So, unlike the joyful effervescence of last week, the current PM got back and got sober to prepare for the funeral of one of his predecessors. Most of the morning news shows were dedicating a good part of their time to the passing of one of the big lights for the LDP. As usual, sentimentalism came to the fore in the form of tinkly piano music while past footage of the man with the slicked-back hair was shown.

This past weekend was basically two days with SB, late of Speedy's. Saturday, after my class with JJ (an even noisier affair than usual thanks to the attendance of apparently most of the child population of eastern Tokyo), I headed out for the school and after a few hours, Speedy and I made our way to Shin-Okubo, and therefore Koreatown, where we met one other staffer and went to this restaurant called Matsuya. After 40 minutes of waiting in the sweltering heat, SB and Speedy's wife joined us and the five of us went to our table in a thankfully cooler part of the restaurant. Despite the name, Matsuya is solidly Korean in fare so we tucked ourselves into the old favourites such as kimchi, chijimi and namuuru. The main dish basically consisted of pork bones with some bits of meat and jellied collagen. We were gnawing at them like cavemen. As you might detect, I wasn't too impressed with that dish so luckily we finished it all off with some bibimbap.

Then the five of us walked down a block into the seedy neighbourhood of Kabukicho for some darts. Yep, even dart clubs have started up now in pop culture-happy Tokyo. The place we went to is part of a chain known for some pretty sophisticated decor. In fact, the establishment is half-darts bar and half-English pub. We had our drinks at the bar for about 20 minutes before we got our place in front of those computerized dart boards with an underlying sensor board to automatically score our hits. The darts were made from plastic as opposed to the classic metal points. To be honest, if it hadn't been for Speedy's wife's very beginner level at darts, I probably would've been a candidate for the booby prize.

Sunday was another morning with the kids before racing down to Sangenjaya Station, west of Shibuya, for my second trip to Baker Bounce, that burger place. The lineup was different and unexpectedly shorter. That petite lady who could outeat me and the entire New York Giants lineup (I guess I can call her Cygnus...after the galactic black hole) showed up of course, along with SB and Y, one of our students. Y's buddy showed up but decided to bug out due to a stomach problem. A pity since it was she who had started the ball rolling for this plan at Mr. Influence's party a few weeks ago. And Skippy never showed up which was very unusual for her; I later found out that she was also conked out of action with a cold. So it was just the four of us but that would make it easier for us to get a table at the small restaurant. We got squalled once during our 40-minute wait outside Baker Bounce but we were armed with our umbrellas so we were spared much misery. Once we got in, the same waiter seated at the same table just inside the front door. This time, instead of risking my health on The Double Burger, I went for the relatively smaller Bacon Cheeseburger. And my choice was a good one; I appreciated the flavour much more. And the others also enjoyed their selections. We stayed there for a few hours but luckily the hordes didn't show up so the waiter didn't have to throw us out. Cygnus actually didn't go for the menu's largest item but her Roast Beef and Mashed Potatoes Sandwich was no slouch in the size department either. I could see why Speedy was so impressed with her eating abilities. She polished everything off like a real pro. And 75% of us even went for the dessert and coffee. Looks like we've got a good team for future outings.

I did cause one of my usual foot-in-mouth incidents. The ladies talked about their current boom, which is this website community called MIXI. Apparently all three women have set up their own pages there to illustrate and gab with each other. Speedy had also told me about this site and encouraged me to join up as well since there were so many communities including one for the school. Cygnus even admitted that she belonged to a sister community in which she and her fellow villagers shared pics of feline mouths....uhhh, yeah. In any case, I kinda told everyone that I had no intention to join the conversation, perhaps a bit too forcefully which rippled the ladies into brief silence. Oops...I didn't mean to say that I disdained the site (although it seems to share qualities with the notorious Channel 2) but considering that I've kept this blog largely secret for the past three years and I'm using code identities for everyone concerned, I think MIXI would be the least likeliest place for me to hang out. Still, I would be interested in checking it out as a lurker. I did send a bit of an apology to Y afterwards, though.

It was back to work again. I saw The Class Act. It'll be the last time that I see the pair intact for perhaps a few weeks since The Matron and her family will be heading to Seoul this weekend; apparently, the hubby was so impressed with the trip that resistance would be futile. This time, though, the family will be taking a bit more time with Korea than the three of us did a couple of months ago. However, The Lady and SIL will be here next week.

With SB gone to bigger and better (?) things, Speedy's got four new assistants (SB should be impressed that it took four people to take her place) of whom I met half today. One is a motherly type who is point of fact, just a few years older than Speedy and therefore younger than me. The other is a young and quiet university type who would probably get some of those pervert teachers at my ol' school slavering like wolves by the sheep enclosure. I found out from Speedy that my schedule is gonna be filling up this Saturday. I've got my new biweekly student and another EIC student and even the second video student. Then I may also be picking up a Wednesday morning EIC gal; it'll be a bit of a pain commuting here, though, but money is money, and with the government trying to get my taxes in advance, I need every yen I can earn.

Well, tomorrow, I've got that farewell party for Mrs. Tulip at that hotel in Makuhari Messe before heading off to the juku classes. I've shifted The Teacher to this Thursday afternoon. I just hope that The Salaryman can settle in better now that McGirl is history from the class with The Milds. I still don't know whether he's gonna last that long.