Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sunday October 15, 3:03 p.m.

Things have finally cooled off here after Summer got its last licks in last week. Walking through the megalopolis has been pleasant, to say the least.

Yesterday, I saw The Carolinan for what may become a regular Saturday meeting for her lessons. We got into The Tea Room just when it opened. Before it did, though, we took a look across the street. There was a building which once housed a number of commercial establishments, including an AM/PM convenience store, a manga cafe and a small boutique. Well, the boutique is still there but the rest of the building (and I do mean all of the floors) has been wrapped up in police "DO NOT ENTER" tape. Well, The Carolinan and I got a bit curious and we crossed the street. Apparently, according to the notice that my student kindly translated, the building has been condemned due to structural disintegrity. Good golly...I wonder if it was designed by the defrocked architect Aneha.

After The Carolinan, I met a couple of former students at the station. The Coffeemaker and Tully wanted to brush up their English so they've hired me. We went to the latter's namesake cafe near the station. Since it was just a meet-n'-greet to assess their abilities and find out what they want to do, I didn't charge them anything for which The Coffeemaker seemed to be very grateful. They're both pretty high in level so it'll be a bit of a challenge; certainly, grammar won't be a priority. I'll start officially with them in a couple of weeks so I should have some sort of game plan and text by then.

Then, I met Movie Buddy and The Satyr at my station a few hours later. The Satyr has become, perhaps, the newest addition to our long-running pizza-and-a-movie pilgrimages. But he didn't follow up on the stay at Hotel Haruhiko. We caught a couple of fairly dire pics, Michael Bay's "The Island" and "Sound of Thunder"...the latter picture being a poster child for straight-to-DVD flicks. All of us were quite grateful that we hadn't shucked out the 1,800 yen to catch "The Island"in its original release. The three of us were kvetching like the guys on "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" about this dog of a movie. I think Scarlett Johannsen is one of those thespians who needs to have a good director behind her; she's really pretty to see but certainly didn't wow us in the acting department. The only interesting thing was having Ewan McGregor and Ethan Phillips being good buds on the movie....Obi-Wan, meet Neelix...Neelix, meet Obi-Wan. All throughout the movie, we were all throwing out titles of other movies that "The Island" must've cannibalized: "Minority Report", "A.I.", "I, Robot", etc.

As for "Sound of Thunder", it was one of those straight-to-DVD genre flicks. When the biggest names are David Duchovny wannabe Edward Burns and "I'll do anything for a buck" Sir Ben Kingsley, I knew that we weren't going in optimistically. The movie is about time travel and its paradoxes...stuff that's been explored before, better and more slickly in "Timecop" and any particular episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

However, the last movie was quite good if rather cynical and depressing: "Lord of War" with Nicholas Cage. It takes a very jaundiced and fatalistic look at the arms industry through Cage's character...a guy who resigns himself to playing a devil on Earth...just because he can. I think Cage will never win another Oscar...he always plays the same character in just about every movie I've seen him in.

Well, gotta contact MB. He's out somewhere in Akiba walking around. It's a good day outside for that.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wednesday October 11, 4:52 p.m.

Well, it's been interesting here over the past few days. Monday morning, Kim Jong Il decided to set off his newest toy, a bright and shiny nuclear bomb test somewhere in the mountains of his North Korea. Everybody took notice. CNN went on Red Alert as did NHK. The other commercial stations in Japan took a slightly more nonchalant approach in its coverage but by early evening, every station was focused on the Prime Minister's official response.

Speaking of Shinzo Abe, what a way for him to get his tenure started, eh? I bet Junichiro Koizumi was probably blowing out a breath of air from his hotel bed and muttering "Boy, am I glad I got out when I did." A true trial by fire for the new kid on the block. But in a way, Mr. Abe should send Kim a thank you. Kim's bomb test went off during Abe's fence-mending trip to China and South Korea. There's nothing like a North Korean crisis to bring enemies together. I bet a lot of that Yasukuni Shrine kerfuffle just got swept under the diplomatic carpet once that test got started.

Ironically, The Siberian got back for his first lesson last night for the first time since his trip to Seoul. His homestay family lives just 15 minutes away from the DMZ. They live on the tenth floor of an apartment so I mentioned to the lad that the family must a great view of the North Korean landscape. I got my souvenir of Korean nori. Man, that stuff blows any of the dried seaweed here out of the water (as non sequitur as that sounds). The Siberian enjoyed his first trip to South Korea so much that he plans to visit again with friends before the end of the year; that is, if there is even a South Korea...(just joking..)

As for the other folks at the juku, Seven has plied me with sweet goodies for the 3rd week in a row. She may be singlehandedly responsible for counteracting any benefits from my tofu diet. However, I'm more concerned about reciprocating her kindness. It looks like along with The Beehive, I'll probably be having her make a Jack O'Lantern on the 31st. The juku boss is wholeheartedly on board but I'm not sure if there will be much of a party since everyone is tightly restricted to his/her slot due to work. Jolly didn't show up last night for his lesson; perhaps, his business trip has taken longer than expected.

Yesterday was a tough one for both commuters and staff on the Sobu Line. Apparently, there was another one of those jinshin jiko at Higashi-Funabashi Station, smack dab in between where I started out and where I wanted to go to reach The Beehive. Some person either fell onto the tracks or wanted to ensure that he/she ended up there. In any case, I had to join the mass exodus over to the Keisei Line to get to Tsudanuma. By the time I got to The Beehive, I was 20 minutes late...the first time in my 8 years with the ladies that I'd ever been late. No particular problems with the class itself. In fact, we all went off to lunch at a little bistro nearby called "Pot Au Feu"...thereby helping my rapidly shrinking wallet since the ladies always pay my way. I was the only male in the place but that didn't particularly sway me. Mrs. Jade and I had the Atlantic Salmon lunch. I was OK with it but Mrs. Jade was somewhat disappointed; the salmon wasn't a particularly thick slab of fish. Then, heading back home for a few hours, the Sobu Line once again had a 10-minute delay due to some technical problems.

Got that monthly call from Mom. Looks like she and Dad will be heading to Japan next month. Not surprisingly, she deterred me yet again from visiting the relatives in Osaka. But considering my dribbly money flow, she didn't have to twist my arm too much. At least I will save the tens of thousands of yen in Bullet Train fare. But the parentals will be coming here for a few days. In fact, Mom has assigned me the task of finding a ryokan so that the three of us can spend some quality time out in the woods somewhere. I've already started checking my sources. Mrs. Travel gave me some tips in Hakone, and 002 even told me about a couple of inns that she'd recently visited.

Well, I just have 001 tonight since 007 is off on some business trip. Then, I've got the entire day off tomorrow. I will definitely be using that filled point card for my 200 yen Subway sandwich.

It looks like that next DVD-klatsch this Saturday is an official go. And The Satyr will make it 3 along with me and MB. I think Domino's Pizza may be getting a winfall from us.