Friday, November 10, 2006

Saturday November 11, 1:25 p.m.

Pretty dreary outside right now as I type this at Speedy's. I've got an EIC session, the first one in a while, with a newbie. For those not in the know, EIC stands for English-in-Cooking, and it's our mini-course for folks who want to try the Cooking-in-English class with Mr. Influence but aren't too confident in their English abilities. I'm the one who designed EIC but I've never been all that comfortable with my brainchild...not quite sure why but I think it's just because it seems a bit dodgy just to teach 3 classes of food-connected English when the student can just pick up stuff in Mr. Influence's classes. I mean, why shouldn't the student pick up the vocab during the regular session? Ach...I'm just griping...mostly because EIC has had its share of growing pains and the fact that a lot of my students only bothered to come to the first two sessions.

Last night, I saw The Ace after all. One call to him from the juku boss got him to come later last night. But he'll be away again next week...which means that I'll only have the 2 hours with the boss herself next Friday. So, with The UL away next week as well, I'll only make half the earnings but at least I can keep things within the neighbourhood..

Then again, The Baker contacted me about potential lessons last night. At last week's party, she had mentioned this topic and was deciding whether to go with me as a private teacher or go to Speedy's as an official student. Of course, that kinda put me into a spot. The Baker has further complicated things by stating that she would now prefer to have me as her private teacher since it would be a pain for her to come all the way up here to the school from her homebase in Shiodome, near Ginza, and Speedy won't refund any money for emergency (namely on-the-day) cancellations. Hmm...gonna have to break it to him gently since he was really hoping for a hat trick with 001 and 002 safely in the Speedy arena. However, I am thinking now whether to have a prelim meeting with The Baker for her lessons on Friday night since I've got those two cancellations. Another wrinkle is that I just don't have any weeknights free to teach her. It's either that she has to become a floater or strictly a weekend student. I don't mind teaching her on either Saturday or Sunday but I wonder if she would be willing to come down to Tokyo all the way from Saitama. I ain't doing house calls all the way up there.

Had The Coffeemaker and Tully for their biweekly. Again, a pretty good session and the lesson seems to be taking on a more formal character than a lot of my other sessions...which is, of course, not a bad thing.

I actually caught the very first episode of The Sopranos last night on Super Drama TV, the SkyPerfect channel. Yep, just when the acclaimed HBO programme is (or has) wrapped up back Stateside, Japan has finally decided to start with it. For years, I'd just been hearing or reading all the badda-bing-badda-boom about James Gandolfini's magnum opus. Now that I finally got to see an episode, I can say that it truly delivers a punch...plenty of swearing and nudity. Not sure if I'll stick with it but it was a fun diversion before bedtime.

Well, gotta get ready for EIC, and then I have to get ready for the parentals' arrival tomorrow afternoon.
Friday November 10, 8:00 p.m.

Well, got over to Toranomon Starbucks for what may be the final time since The UL actually found a more centrally located cafe in Otemachi. Just as well...that branch of the cafe chain had already started belting out Xmas jazz tunes. Yeah, I like my Yuletide songs like anyone else not named Scrooge but having to go through 4 weeks of that...don't think so. In any case, The UL is off next Friday due to some tea ceremony practice.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Friday November 10, 12:46 p.m.

It's been a fairly peaceful couple of days. I only had The Polynesian for her 11:00 yesterday. Unfortunately, I was blindsided by a sudden spate of sneezing which necessitated the medicine. The first half-hour was trying my best, therefore, to direct attention away from my runny nose. Luckily, that herbal stuff kicked in from the second half-hour but I gave her a full 90 minutes of time since those first 30 minutes were lousy.

Today, I've got the juku boss for her 2 hours and then The UL for our first post-Tea Room session. Looks like my nighttime stint at the juku will be a washout though since Jolly has once again canned his lesson, and The Ace has no idea about when he can come here from his conference. I would rather not be waiting for a class that may never be. I can always use another early night off.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wednesday November 7, 9:08 p.m.

Well, it's been the usual fun n' games during the last couple of days. Yesterday, I didn't have The Beehive but I did see The New Yorker, sans our late lamented venue of The Tea Room. We decided to have our inaugural Tea Room-less lesson at the Starbucks above Ichigaya Station. I was surprised that we could get ourselves a table at the usually packed cafe but the noise level was even higher there than it was during our last lesson at The Tea Room. However, I was relieved that the lass did better than she did last week. It looks like the next time we're gonna go for the Italian restaurant next door, To The Herbs, just to see if we can operate in a more audibly quieter environment.

Then, there was the rather unusual start to my night at the juku. Toonces the Juku Cat was crawling around my room again when he was scratching at the screen window behind me. Since the boss had always let him roam around outside, I simply opened the window and let him loose, safe in the thought that he would return home. However, when the boss was made aware of his meowing outside the window, all hell broke loose. At first, she stormed in on me and demanded to know why I'd let him out, not realizing that she had never told me about the new rule change that Toonces could no longer be let outside due to an incident the day before in which the puss was mysteriously and sinisterly trapped into the covered drainage ditch. Once she realized that I was innocent, we, along with the student that she'd been teaching at the time, ran outside to try and grab him. Toonces is just over a year old which would make him equivalent to a 7-year-old boy. He was certainly as energetic and as rambunctious as one which made him impossible to catch so after some running around like a trio of Keystone Kops, we just let him be until he tuckered himself out and came in from the cold.

Seven had cancelled out and Jolly once again dotakyan'ed so I just had The Milds. We've come to the end of the second book. Once the lesson ended, we kinda gave each other a look which may have had a bit more significance than usual. It's been over 3 years now and though the couple has improved somewhat since their nearly mute days...I'm kinda wondering if they've reached the end of their time with me. The Siberian finally showed up. Had a nice chat on Shakespeare and some of his most famous quotes.

Today was a full Speedy day. I did my usual house call to 002. Looks like the afterglow from that nice party on Saturday was still dimly suffusing the atmosphere. Strangely enough, 002 still had that Jack O'Lantern although it was probably a breeding mold factory by now; but she reassured me that it would be in the trash by tomorrow morning. Then, I made the long commute back to home base to teach this young lady who's doing the crash course in English before she takes off for a 1-year working-holiday programme in Australia. I think it's going to be a regular Pygmalion process. All of us have gotta change this very low lass into a relatively conversant lady in 2 weeks. I think we're still at the beginnings of "The Rain in Spain". Of course, 001 was her usual guffawing self.

Well, it's a new day in least when it comes to the government. I was watching CNN's coverage of Election Day, so it was the whole gang of Lou, Anderson, Paula and Wolf tackling all the number crunches and the grande version of Milton Bradley's Battleship. Democrats must've been partying til the wee hours of the morning since they finally got the House and perhaps even the Senate. But I think even if the Senate is still held by the Republicans, Pelosi and her gang can still celebrate. Besides, I think folks would feel a little more secure with a balance in power.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday November 6, 5:45 p.m.

Did also forget to mention that I had met The Madame for the first time in a while for lunch on Friday. We met in Ikebukuro this time, nearer her home. We ended up having our meal in this somewhat trendy little basement Japanese eatery. Prompt service and a reasonably-priced delicious set but the first half of our meal was marred by some shouty mother, misbehaving kids and the ineffectual father. And people wonder why I've stayed single this long... A couple of times when things were coming to a head..I quickly turned my head and did a bit of a glare at the brats but families always seem to develop a Cone of Ignorance during these times.

Looks like Speedy's given The Part-Timer her eviction notice. Things are starting to hop here at the school so since The Part-Timer is my private student and not an official student so Speedy told me that we're gonna have to find new accomodations of sorts. Speedy, being Speedy, was kind enough to recommend a cafe just across the street. He says it's pretty empty so getting a table should be easy (although I wonder how much longer it can stay in business with that type of rep). As for the Part-Timer, she was already given the 2-minute warning about finding a new classroom so she should be OK. Plus the fact that there will be a 1-week absence should cushion things nicely. I'll be sampling the place myself on Wednesday before 001's regular lesson.
Monday November 6, 4:56 p.m.

Been a while. There've been a few social events and my parents have arrived in the home of their ancestry. To start off, my latest class with B2 and B2B wasn't quite as bad as a total crash n' burn but...let's say that all 3 of us were pretty winded by the end. I kinda thought that I should've just cancelled the lesson first off and gone on to The Coffeemaker's party.

Then again, that party and the party I had at 002's on Saturday make for an interesting comparison. I got down to Shibuya on Thursday and met up with the ol' school gang at that same restaurant where over a year ago Scully had stepped on that dead rat. I'm just amazed at how willing the gang was to try that place again after that incident...especially in cleanliness-obsessed Japan. The Satyr, Scully and Tully were there along with a few others. Unfortunately, The Barmaiden and The Okinawan, the two other ringleaders of this latest reunion couldn't make it...the former due to the demands of work, and the latter due to personal problems (ie. the boyfriend, I assume). By the time I got there, everyone had already had their fill of food and drink so I was very much in the role of cleanup hitter. In other words, I just ordered my own drink and little dishes. I guess the digestive process must've already kicked in since the conversation was fairly low-key. And I never really chimed in with some of the guys there even during their school days. Basically, it was just some fairly polite conversation from former teacher to students and vice versa.

On the other hand, the 002 get-together was oh-so-comfortable and nice. I brought the Cabernet Sauvignon (a gift from that Halloween event with The Satyr and Skippy) and the pumpkin for carving. Of course, 002's hubby was there along with The Baker and 001. Speedy was right in that I could've read the telephone book and the ladies would've been rolling in the aisles. The main course du jour was something imoni-nabe; now that the Fall is truly upon us, nabe or hot pot cooking is back in vogue. Imoni is this really starchy potato dropped into the usual mix of broth with carrots, onions, beef and other stuff. All very tasty. Beforehand, we all tried our hands at making onigiri...rice balls with different fillings such as flaked salmon and mentaiko (salty cod roe). As is the case with many a thing that I try to learn, my attempts at making the simple rice ball ended up with me making something to a Henry Moore sculpture. However, the laughter was graciously kept to a minimum. 002 even decided to go Okinawan and made some spam onigiri. Yes, you heard me...the quiet culinary trend in Japan has been to place some slabs of Spam onto a rice ball and wrap it in nori. It's pretty darn good...but then again, I'm quite the Spam connoisseur. MB would probably be heading for the toilet on seeing this entry. After filling ourselves up on nabe and other stuff, we got started on the last pumpkin carving of the year. 001, 002 and The Baker had a ball of a time carving the Jack O' Lantern; as I said, anything could amuse them. Of course, once Jack was ready, the cameras came out to take pics of the lit-up pumpkin. As you can see from the size of this paragraph as compared to the other one for the other party, I think I was much more at ease with 002 and the bunch there than I was with the ol' school gang...not that I like the latter any less but I think things are much easier when there isn't that barrier of teacher and student between me and them.

Sunday was by contrast a very quiet stay-at-home day. Mind you, I did get to see Saddam Hussein finally get his comeuppance live on CNN. With the exception of Fidel Castro, it would seem that dictators' life spans are quite short. But at the same time, they also share the same sociopathic trait of blaming everyone else but themselves for the misery they'd put their populace under.