Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wednesday July 12, 4:41 p.m.

True to form, 007 pulled off another dotakyan (sudden cancellation, to you non-Japanese types) just 10 minutes before he was due to come. Ah, well....when one's president of a small company. So, it'll be just 001 and her trip to South Africa. At least, I still got my full pay for today since I also had that surprise class with that little ol' lady.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wednesday July 12, 2:22 p.m.

Feeling my age as I groggily start writing this entry almost a couple of hours after lunch near Speedy's. There's a branch of a restaurant called China Quick which has been making inroads into Tokyo for the past couple of years. I can't gripe about the price..880 yen for a lunch of stir-fry meats and veggies in a heavily-cornstarched sauce over rice plus a half-bowl of ramen.

Perhaps part of the reason for my sleepyheadedness is because I got up at 5 a.m. so that I could avoid the worst of the rush hour (the Tozai Line is probably the worst or second-worst subway line for that) and get to Speedy's without having to sacrifice my sanity. I had to teach an EIC to a student who had no need for the kid gloves approach. She was rarin' to go and just spewed forth a lot of questions and stuff on cooking. In fact, it took a good yank of the reins just to keep her penned in. I even got a free class with that sweet ol' lady that I'd taught about a couple of months ago during Speedy's business trip. Later on today, I've got 007 for only the 2nd time in his time with us since he's been pulling off dotakyan for the past month; can't blame him too much since he is the president of his own company. Then, I get to meet 001 since she got back from South Africa. She should have lots of stories to tell me.

Yesterday was quite a busy day or almost was. I had my usual stint with The Beehive and then I met The Teacher at Beckers. She was in full gripe mode about some of her fellow mothers in the local PTA. She seems to get loaded down with most of the work since she's the only one, according to her, that can jockey a computer and speak English. Mind you, I managed to keep my eyes open.

I had my first home lesson with 002. She and her hubby live in a surprisingly remote suburb near my neck of the woods. I say, surprisingly, since her station is only a couple of stations away in any direction from fairly large transportation hubs. And yet, the only thing I saw around the station that yelled of commercialism was the neighbourhood Lawson's convenience store. It was nothing but houses and apartments. 002 picked me up and led me to her apartment just a minute's walk away. The lesson went quite well since she and I were just picking up where we had last left off a better part of a year ago.

My stint at the juku was a lot shorter than I had first thought or dreaded. Seven and The Inspector did show up for their respective lessons but The Siberian once again canned, and even The Milds had to cancel. The Salaryman didn't even bother to show up; no telephone call or nothing...which kinda gives me the hint that he may be pulling out. I'm not that surprised since his 3 weeks with me probably didn't go too well with him. His ability was just a little too high for The Milds, and Mrs Mild was a bit intimidated by him. If he had come, he would have been alone and I would've addressed the mismatch issue and offered him a Friday night solo. But I gather that it's too late now.

Meanwhile, in Roppongi Hills, the equivalent of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood when it comes to movie world premieres, Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom held court in front of 5,500 rabid fans to commemorate the special showing of "Pirates of the Caribbean 2". Again, he may have outstripped even The Cruiser in terms of fan following. Speaking of whom, the Internet (or at least Yahoo and CNN) is running rampant with the rumours about where TomKat's baby Suri is. I would probably say to the media to mind their own business.

Still, the Japanese journalists are still scratching their heads about what could've possessed Zidane to headbutt the Italian player in the World Cup final. Well, it's starting to sound like a case of "He says, he says" between the Italians and the French. Even that sweet ol' lady in today's class mentioned the incident. She said that she could never imagine anyone on the Japanese team pulling off a stunt like that due to that streak of good sportsmanship that seems to be genetic within all Japanese athletes. However, she also admitted that same lack of vindictiveness could also explain Japan's lack of aggresiveness on the pitch. A bit of chippiness couldn't hurt once in a while. The occasional rush to the pitcher's mound by a wronged batter, an extra slap to the head of a sumotori or an overly strong spike aimed at an opposing player could bring a bit of well-needed oomph in Japanese sportsdom.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday July 10, 8:28 p.m.

I finished off The Part-Timer's lesson an hour ago but here I still am. I would've gone home lickety-split but then I got an e-mail from The Engineer who will be making his occasional trips to The Big Sushi and who also asked me if I knew a cheap hotel nearby. So I dutifully did a bit of research and found the hotel where Ol' Sam and his missus had stayed a few years ago. It's out in Kiba where I teach JJ, about 10 minutes' walk from the station. It has the "only-in-Japan" name of Day Nice Hotel (I'll have to strike them for word order infraction) but when I visited Ol' Sam there, the place was pretty nicely apportioned and reasonably priced. I'll probably be seeing The Engineer himself next weekend probably just for the Sunday since I'm gonna have a full slate of classes on the 22nd.

In any case, I'll probably be lingering around the office for about another 45 minutes since I want to avoid the worst of the nighttime rush on the Tozai.

Looks like we've recruited another Canadian for the cause at Speedy. He was even on the JET Programme during my tenure there. Seems like a good sort but I doubt I'll be seeing him all that much since he's just here on Thursdays.

I had my lesson with SIL. As usual, there was a lot of talk on days gone by. We got onto the topic of old favourite J-Pop acts such as Anzen Chitai. This was one of the big bands in the 80s in this part of the Pacific. I don't just mean Japan either....this Hokkaido-based group was not just big in Japan but also in Hong Kong. They used to be a back-up band for another Japanese pop legend named Yosui Inoue until they hit it big in 1983 with a moody little piece called "Wine Red no Kokoro" (Wine-Red Heart). For several years after that and until the turn of the decade, Anzen Chitai, led by the charismatic Koji Tamaki, dominated the charts along with other bands such as the poppier Checkers and C-C-B with a more urban contemporary sound. Nowadays, the band has long become a part of the cobwebs of J-Pop history although it still releases the occasional album; it's been buried under the heap of the current R&B-influenced stuff-and-fluff by Orange Range and Soul'd Out. It's a pity (and forgive me for sounding like a grouchy old man) since Koji Tamaki still has one of the best voices in the biz, but his music has gotten increasingly more elegiac and mournful. It's not that I've completely abandoned current J-Pop as a listening hobby; there have been acts in the 90s and 00s that I've cottoned onto but generally speaking, I'm just not all into this current trend to emulate the hottest US musicians.
Monday July 10, 5:41 p.m.

One of the big disadvantages of living in this part of the world if one is a sports fan is that most of the live coverage of big sports events takes place in the middle of the morning. And thus it was that the final game of The World Cup, supposedly seen by a billion people (the Japanese contingent being very bleary-eyed) worldwide, was broadcast at the ungodly 3 a.m. this morning, J.S.T. I was rather surprised to have even caught it but since it is summer now and since that means it's becoming stifling in my room, I couldn't help but turn on the telly at 4 a.m. and see that France and Italy were going at it in the second half. It was 1-1 and I then turned it off to catch some more shuteye...or try to anyways in spite of the heat. I woke up 90 minutes later and turned on the TV to see that, surprise surprise, the game was still going on at the very end of Extra Time and into the dreaded penalty shootouts, the soccer equivalent of baseball batting and pitching in the bottom of the 9th inning of the 7th game of the World Series with the count at 3 balls and 2 strikes with bases loaded. I gotta admit that even I, not a huge soccer fan, was somewhat more alert watching this final phase of the tourney. Of course, Italy won, Rome roared in celebration, and I assume Little Italy back in the ol' hometown was pumping out cars with fans waving the Italian flag.

I had missed the big highlight of the game, though, which was France's Captain Zidane doing a very boneheaded thing by using his bonehead to head butt one of the Italian players in frustration. This was a guy who was basically treated like the Second Coming of God in his country and he pulls this stunt. From God to goat in one second. And this was supposedly his very last game before retirement. As one analyst put it, this thing won't tarnish his legacy too badly but Zidane could've used a better way to exit the game.

Since Japan got cut out early in the World Cup, it's doubtful that many folks here got up that early to watch the game...aside from fans of either Italy or France or folks who are really into the beautiful game. HMV tried to rally the troops by stating that Japan rooted for both its team and England (thanks to Japan's adopted son, David Beckham) but then England got knocked out as well. And now with the soccer out of the way for the next 4 years, that is pretty much it for huge global sports spectacles for the rest of this year. The Winter Olympics, The World Baseball Classic, The World Cup...and even Wimbledon (the Japanese hold a very affectionate spot for that Russian beauty) are now gone so there's really nothing left except for the rest of the baseball season and sumo.

Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom arrived in Narita, and there were hundreds of ladies there to be the welcome wagon. I think they got a bigger reception than even Tom Cruise did a few weeks ago. Just a sea of cellphones in photographic salute mode as the two sheepishly passed by. As usual, the women were all hearts a-flutter. It was truly like watching that opening sequence in ABC's "Wide World of Sports": the thrill of victory (the girls got the shot), the agony of defeat (the girls didn't). In both cases, there were women just weeping like American bobbysoxers for Elvis. All this for "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" which comes out here on the 22nd. Strangely enough, the critics haven't been kind to the sequel with one guy saying that it was just as meaninglessly thrilling as a ride at Disney. Well....duh. Breaking the record for best weekend box office should salve any wounds that the pundits have thrown at it. I kinda wonder if Depp and Bloom will be hanging out here for a couple of days.

I just had The Lady this morning for her regular. The Matron and her family have gone off to Korea for a longer round of vacationing. The Lady talked about the hysteria at Narita concerning Johnny and Orly. The Lady could only marvel and sigh wistfully about experiencing that sugar rush of meeting one's idol. I have to admit that I haven't felt that much joy about anything in several years. I think the last time was when the Blue Jays had won their 2nd World Series in Toronto back in 1993.

Speaking of movies, it looks like we're a lock for Tom Cruise's (remember him, Japan?) latest flick for this Sunday in Shinjuku. I've got JJ first thing in the morning but then I can race over to the theatre with Movie Buddy and The Satyr. I'll have to talk with JJ as well about Depp since she's a huge fan of his.

It's gonna be a heck of a Tuesday. I've now got 002 for home teaching. She's being slotted between The Teacher and my juku classes. I'll be raking in a nice amount tomorrow but I'm also gonna be rather smoked by the end...and then I've gotta take off early Wednesday morning to teach an EIC at Speedy's.