Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sunday October 8, 1:38 p.m.

Well, unlike the meterological hell that was Friday night, today is downright gorgeous. But like Friday night, I'm typing this from the outside...this time, back at the Shinjuku Kinko's. I would've gone to the Ai Cafe but I figured that it was a bit too far away for me and probably filled with the otakus. Kinko's is somewhat more expensive but I'm currently the only one at a computer booth. Right now, as I type, there is some sort of cheerleader show outside of the Microsoft Bldg where this Kinko's is located going on. As I was coming in, there was a couple of men in eyeball masks entertaining the masses. Some rather odd activities to commemorate Sports Day.

Yesterday was a rare one for me in that I actually had a full day off. Having my hair cut and putting out the mattresses onto the balcony to air out were about as strenuous as it got on Saturday. I was even able to indulge in a long nap. However, I did have to plan for the kids' lessons this morning. Speaking of whom, The Elder was her usual queenly self while The Younger is showing more signs of laziness. I made my yen today.

Skippy called me yesterday to confirm for today's meeting in front of the Shinjuku Koma Theatre for dinner. It'll probably be a party of 5: myself, Movie Buddy, The Sylph, Skippy and The Madame. Strangely enough, we'll be going for Korean; The Madame can't touch the slightest thing spicy without going into a lather but somehow Skip was able to convince her that there is blander fare in the Korean menu. Just wondering if The Madame and MB are gonna get into another dustup about her spirituality again. If so, I'll just focus more on my bibimbap instead. Skippy was rather bouncy...or I should say even bouncier than our brief conversation on the phone. She had trip through Oz...thoroughly enjoyable for her (she could probably sludge through the infamous Smoky Mountain junkyard in Manila and still find some fun in that) although she did say that there was one moment of panic when she got temporarily lost in a national park.

Actually, I may have two full days of nada coming up this week. Tomorrow, being Sports Day, I've got a national holiday. And then because The Carolinan wanted her lesson to be shifted to this upcoming Saturday, I've got nothing on Thursday as well. But along with The Carolinan, I may have The Coffeemaker and her buddy for their first, so I can perhaps make some cash that day.

Although getting my haircuts isn't exactly a cheap thing, I was happy to get rid of the mop from my head. This time, it was the girl who took care of me for the whole hour. As in any tonsorial establishment around the world, she likes to gab, so I engaged her in any sort of talk under the sun. Luckily, there were the typhoon and that Keiyo Line fiasco to talk about. I would have mentioned something about the new Prime Minister, but I didn't get the feeling that she was the political type.

Speaking of whom, it looks like Shinzo Abe is getting started on his first big task. When Koizumi started his term, he set about pushing that reform with the post office. This time, Abe is gonna be mending fences...fences that got broken by his predecessor over the past 5 years. He's off in China for a dialogue with President Hu, and then he'll be going to South Korea to do the same with its president. Of course, North Korea, which ironically doesn't want to be left out of things despite its nickname of The Hermit Kingdom, is making noise in the form of a threatened nuclear test. Kinda wonder what the United States is talking about when it says that it "won't live with a nuclear North Korea". I wonder if I should get a flight out of here sooner.

Newswise, it looks like a few days after my little rant about the bandwagon-jumping nature of Japanese journalism, those guys have done it again. Drinking & driving has been pushing off the radar screen for the topic du jour of capsized trawlers. Apparently, there have been three of them over the past couple of days. And it looks like...all kidding aside and in all tragedy...there's been another suicide triggered by ijime (bullying). Some poor elementary school girl in Hokkaido decided to hang herself in her classroom after deciding that life wasn't worth living due to her ostracism by her schoolmates. Kids are often cruel but whenever these things happen, I ask myself with all the attention placed on the victim and the circumstances, why hasn't there been any (and I'm not asking for a lot here) focus placed on the so-called perpetrators? Obviously, there is the question of being considered innocent before being judged guilty (a legal theory about as empty of meaning and significance as beer bottles after a night in Shimbashi) but for once, I would just like to see some of those little brats get the spotlight on them and find out why they decided to hound a classmate to death. Are they just kids who went too far with their teasing or are they budding sociopaths who've claimed their first victim? Do they show any remorse or are they cackling inside? And what of their they care that their children may have been responsible for abetting a kid's death?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wednesday October 4, 9:27 p.m.

Finished another day at Speedy's. I kept 001 rolling out into the aisles with my brand of humour since she was initially quite sleepy. It also helped that she aced her test of last week. As for 007, it looks like he was under the weather so he did a dotakyan. Ack...that's the way the cookie crumbles. During what would've been his class, I did have the chance to chat with Speedy's wife for a while in the kitchen as we dined on the last of Mr. Influence's apple pie.

Looks like the school managed to snag itself another new student. This one happens to be Mrs. Speedy's co-worker and has the same name (right down to the individual kanji) as 008. And she'll be coming on the same night as my own student. The intros ought to be interesting. However, the new namesake will be taught by one of the other teachers.

Well, gotta get home and get ready. I've got 002 and then B2 (maybe B2B will be back) tomorrow. I'm a bit worried about the weather for the next couple of days. We've got two typhoons coming in back to back. I do wonder about Jolly's little night BBQ on the 7th.
Wednesday October 4, 4:49 p.m.

inshuu unten. It's translated as "drinking and driving". And it happens to be the media's current flavour-of-the-month. A couple of years ago, it was those diabolical revolving doors that caught the attention of everyone via journalists after one of them had crushed a little kid at Roppongi Hills. And then maybe a little before that, it was the roving n' marauding bears in the rural areas attacking defenceless farmers that were getting almost nightly coverage. Now, NHK and the other stations have dogpiled on the drinking n' driving bandwagon since that tragedy several weeks ago in which a drinking driver backended a car off a bridge into a river killing all of the children of a young family. It seems that just about any cab hack or salaryman who's had a bit too much to drink will get his (so far, the idiots caught have all been male) 15 minutes of infamy on the nightly news. A Tokyo police officer has even been cited for DUI despite his protestations that he hadn't drunk that much; the punchline was that he belonged to the section responsible for controlling drinking and driving. Today, we heard that he has been suspended for 6 months but that he plans to turns in his badge.

As usual, the tone in my voice may seem a little snarky. Let me confirm...I am being snarky. Not that drinking-and-driving isn't worthy of media attention. Of course, it is. However, my eyes start rolling because of the faddish nature of journalism in this country. DUI has probably existed since the first cars rolled off the conveyor belts at Toyota almost a century ago; certainly, drinking has existed for the entirety of Japanese history (my old professor told me that some ancient Chinese reports on the island of Wa [Japan] were liberally interspersed with the statement, "...and the people drank"). And obviously, over the decades, hundreds of people have probably died behind or in front of the wheel because of it. So, why is inshuu unten becoming the scourge we must fight today? And how long will it stay Public Enemy No. 1 before it gets bumped off by the next big story (killer tornadoes, anyone)? I think the best I can hope for is that some good comes out of this journalistic feeding frenzy while it lasts. As long as the media has its hot klieg lights on the issue, perhaps the government may do something or the folks may use more common sense after their umpteen rounds at the izakayas or nomiyas.

However, as much as one fellow hoped that the numbers of DUI will come down under this media glare, I don't think there will be much of a dent at all. For one thing, there is still much more of the feeling amongst the drinking and driving public here than in their American counterparts that they would never be caught. Probably a lot of the folks feel that they never drink that much to become a danger to others. And finally, there is just the fact that the Japanese just love alcohol. They can afford to wean themselves off of tobacco but take away their drink, and you've got trouble. I think as long as cars and alcohol co-exist, DUI will always exist in large numbers unless something no less than Prohibition gets passed. And then, the Yakuza, the Triads and the Russian Mafia will start mincing their hands in glee. But that's another story (to dogpile on)...
Wednesday October 4, 4:36 p.m.

A typical Fall day in Tokyo, I guess. Kinda gloomy with the threat of rain; still I don't mind the cooler temps.

Yesterday, the regular Beehive session had us chatting in the main tennis area on the 3rd floor of the building since apparently the floor was closed for something or other. So, while we talked in half-darkness, Miss Travel acted as the sub front desk staff for any other unknowing folks who had wanted a bit of action on the courts.

The juku session was OK. That little kerfuffle between the boss and me last week has been patched up. Seems like the boss had a bit of an argument with her mother and her hubby and some of that frustration leaked out onto me after classes last Tuesday night. She was profusely apologetic. Seven was back after a sudden absence last week due to a cold. She seems to be in the habit of giving me food every week. Her stuff is good but I'm starting to feel a little well as fatter. Also, Jolly put last week's lesson to good use and actually invited me to a BBQ party on Saturday night. Yep, you heard night...somewhere near Tokyo Disneyland. He got a little quiet when I'd asked him whether his girlfriend would be joining us...hmmm, a little problem in Paradise? Again, I'm not too big on parties but perhaps as long as I put on my teacher's mask, I can endure it. And then, Mr. Mild came back to class after being away for a month. I was privately glad that he was back since his wife frankly had a tough time being by herself. The boss told me that The Siberian had called her to cancel out of last night's session due to a cold. The joke's on both of us; I had forgotten that he was back from Korea...I hadn't done anything to prepare for him. Mind you, I never prepare for him since his "classes" are just hope-for-the-best chat sessions.

I just have 001 and 007 tonight. So, pretty straightforward. But it looks like I may have some more students coming into the fold. The Coffeemaker got back to me and said that Saturday mornings might be good for a session. It looks like my Saturdays are getting pretty busy now with Speedy and the kids and the occasional M+M kaffeeklatsch. Speaking of whom, one of the Ms asked me about the 28th for the next meeting.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday October 2, 5:47 p.m.

My Saturday ended at Speedy's with a sudden invitation to dinner by the bossman himself. I joined him, his wife and some old acquaintances of his to yet another Korean place in Higashi-Nakano. This one is called Sonam and it has the honour of having seven of its dishes highlighted on the recently departed show "Dotchi ni Ryori Show" (Which Dish do you Choose?) on NTV. So, Speedy couldn't resist a pedigree like that. The place is small, even smaller than Insadong, the other eatery we'd gone to some weeks ago. However, the dishes were well worth the force yoga position I had to take on that tatami mats. Some really crunchy kimchi followed by the main dish of boiling pork bones with bits of meat and collagen falling off of them. It tastes better than it sounds, believe me. And then I finished up with some kalbi kuppa, that zesty soup with rice, veggies and beef.

Sunday was basically a time out from teaching for which I was eternally grateful as we entered October. Today was another regular Monday. I had The Class Act and SIL for their regular slots. The Class Act won't ever let me live down the fact that I didn't really help in asking for directions during our whirlwind gourmet tour of Seoul. I think my goof was even mentioning that I was going to try and learn a bit of the language. Well, I think if they were truly pissed off with me, they would've had me banished from the magic kingdom already. Instead, The Lady is already thinking of having us try out this steak place, appropriately called The Oak Door. SIL was her usual giddy self. We actually got through the 90 minutes without having to go to an article; we just smoothly transitioned from talk of her mother and relatives to some of the oldies music.

I was able to use some of that commuting time between SIL and The Part-Timer to use the remaining gift certificates to get my niece a couple of presents: an Anpan Man doll and the Cat-Bus from "My Neighbour Totoro". Gotta get that squared away and sent out for her birthday.

Another thing to get squared air ticket back to The Great White North for Xmas. Man, does Air Canada love to gouge! Basically, all I will afford after the ticket and presents for everyone is...nothing. Well, I'm now heavily considering taking the painful yet cheaper route through the US.