Friday, May 11, 2007

Saturday May 12, 3:56 p.m.

Writing this after completing the day's classes. I had Tully and the Coffeemaker for the first time in nearly a month. Of course, both were customarily 10 minutes late. But I wouldn't have The Manhattanite for a few hours, so I wasn't too nervous. Tully is pretty chuffed about doing his special stint at Georgetown next month for an English programme. I told him that he could actually secretly sit in on one of George Tenet's lessons. The lad could learn Public Griping. As for the Coffeemaker, man, did she look exhausted. She had to pull an emergency all-nighter at her company since her boss fell ill with the measles (man, I hope the guy's already had his kids); she just came from work and had to head back again. Not a situation I would trade with anybody.

Didn't have much time for lunch so I just downed a small can of Chip Star before I had The Manhattanite. Looks like she and her mother were on the move; they'd gone to Barcelona for Golden Week. They (and I did tell her this) were quite brave folks in that they eschewed the regular comfy tour for their own trip...and neither of them are very strong in English, let alone Spanish. Despite the lass' low level, the lesson was fun, and Speedy finished it up nicely by bringing in some Red Wine Frappe concoction that Mr. Influence had whipped up for one of the school's rare cooking parties last night. Yup, that frappe certainly made things go a whole lot smoother. In fact, I'm still feeling no pain right now.

I'm still here on account that I just made up a worksheet for The Elder daughter for her lesson tomorrow morning. She was back in sullen mode the last lesson and since "Communication Strategies" should be done by students who are actually interested in English, I thought that the supplementary material was key for us to keep our insanity. Luckily, The Junior is a whole lot less high-maintenance. But I will be heading home within the next half-hour. Gotta get dinner on the table and iron.

A bit of a pity for tomorrow's outing with the movie gang for "Spiderman 3". Looks like Skippy, despite her being the organizer for the meet, has to pull out for the movie phase of the outing since her student's mother has decided to switch days on her. She could have just as easily declined but I guess Skippy is very committed to the family; can't fault her on that. Still, she said that she would make it out for the Baker Bounce dinner segment.

Last night, after I had my lesson with The Ace at the juku, I got back home and decided to watch "Ghostbusters 2" on the DVD. I had been remarking that the disc got short-shrifted in the specials commentary, no making-of documentaries, just trailers for the two movies that are already in the "Ghostbusters" DVD. It was the third time for me to see the 1989 sequel, including catching it at the theatre and a second time catching just part of it. As it is, it wasn't such a bad movie although I remember not being too impressed with it on first viewing (mind you, I wasn't supremely impressed with the original, either; it was a movie that had to grow on me). But I could see why it didn't do all that well critically (although it apparently was one of the top-grossing films of that year), and perhaps why there weren't any specials.

For one thing, "Ghostbusters 2" should've been called "Ghostbusters 2.0". It was basically a reset and copy of the original, better movie in terms of plot. The boys had to (re-) prove themselves to society, and once again, we had the montage of them busting ghosts (although this time, Winston is in on the fun), and once again, Dr. Venkman had to prove himself worthy to Dana, and once again, the final scene featured a nearly identical fight with a massive opponent (although Vigo is arguably far scarier-looking than Mr. Stay-Puft). I could see why Ramis, Reitman and the producer didn't bother to provide a commentary for this one; they would only have needed to pick up the transcript for the first one's talkfest. Of course, there were some slight tweaks and alterations such as a less nebbishy Louis Tully, a more boho Janine Melnitz and a more human Egon...and would you get a load of the New Jack haircut on Winston?! However, there was a nagging similarity to the proceedings which had left me with a "been here, done that" feeling when I left the theatre all those years ago. And in fact, I'd just read on Wiki that Harold Ramis and Dan Ackroyd had only meant to make just the one movie, but the Columbia beancounters just couldn't resist the mucho box office and how well the cartoon, "The Real Ghostbusters" did and so put the pressure to bear on the lads to come up with the redux. Still, the guys did pull off the passage of time and how the characters mellowed more with each other which was probably the best thing in the movie. The original movie had a lot of heart through its characters, and the sequel still showed that. More creative plotting would have guaranteed a better reception.

Still, I was surprised to read that Dan Ackroyd had mentioned earlier this year about getting "Ghostbusters 3" off the ground in CG. I was even more surprised that the somewhat reclusive and taciturn Bill Murray would even consider providing his voice to this project. Still, I'm keeping an open and cautious mind to it. I still think that a live-action treatment with more contemporary comedians could pull off a re-introduction.

Well, I'm just about done like dinner.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Friday May 11, 12:33 p.m.

Well, happy 1800th entry. May I live to reach 2000. In any case, this auspicious occasion comes on the heels of one of those horrible events that often plagues the average Tokyo commuter...the shutdown of the only line into the city. Yup, that is what happened to me this morning as I made my way to the station at the early time of 6:50 a.m. I should've noticed something was up when I heard those winds whistling past my window on waking up. Sure enough, I was greeted by a huge mass of humanity flowing beyond the ticket gates and down the stairs into the street. The Tozai Line had to be shut down in Chiba since the winds were flying at a zippy 25 m/s. Of course, any delay on the Tozai in the mornings and evenings ends up being a traffic cataclysm of Biblical proportions. I think one piece of advice should have been given to the station staff immediately....shut down the up escalator. People, including me, were getting crushed by folks coming up the thing. Somehow, after lounging about the ticket gate area, and I mean lounging as in waiting in an old-fashioned movie theatre before "Star Wars" comes on, I plowed my way through the seething masses and trudged over to the nearest McDonalds for brekkie. On the way, I saw that any alternate ways into town were eradicated as there were huge lineups for the bus and taxi. The lone girl manning the counter at the Big M was clearly overwhelmed by the sudden inrush of hungry and frustrated salaried folks...she forgot to give me my cream, sugar and maple syrup for the hotcakes.

I headed back home and contacted Speedy. I gave him the heads-up about my situation and promised him a final update for a go or no-go. Luckily, I didn't have to go for the Abort option as the Tozai got back on line within a minute of me calling the boss. So once again, I trudged to the subway. Yep, it was quite a squeeze but luckily everyone here is very accustomed to these delays, so I managed to ride out the storm. It's always an interesting feeling being ridden into town nearly breaking that Law of Physics which states that two solids cannot occupy the same space. It felt like being surrounded by human air bags. I couldn't have moved if I had even wanted to; still, I kept my hands absolutely still and pointing downwards lest my actions were to be construed as a chikan's opportunity.

I've always headed out early in the morning whenever I've had early classes since I detest rush hours. However, this ride into town wasn't too, too bad. By Otemachi, things came to a decent sense of space. Still, I will still maintain my rule of avoiding the dreaded Tokyo commute.

As it is, I just had The Nurse for her 60. You might think that I would be rather miffed about going through all that hell for just an hour of class, but again my philosophy is that if the student is good, I'll go through Hell AND Earth for him/her....but I wouldn't quote that too loudly. And I was finally able to get through the second draft of all that text curricula. I hope to be out of here within the next 30 minutes.

My contact at the U of T asap got back to me about The Beehive's possibilities on local B&B's. I hope to find something good for the ladies.

Yesterday, I just had the twosome of 002 and The Carolinan with several hours of downtime in between. I actually got the chance to take a look at the first "Ghostbusters" on DVD. I'd seen it countless times before but it was the first time to have seen it in some years. Taking this fresh look at it, I was quite surprised at how zippy it went....always a good trait in an escapist summer movie, and how much Sigourney Weaver was pretty much just the damsel-in-distress.

When I first saw the movie, it was back in the steamy summer of 1984 in Toronto, in between my high school and first year of university. "Ghostbusters" may have been all the rage but I remember distinctly catching a matinee show at a nearly empty theatre, perhaps a couple of months after its debut. Mind you, even back then, it probably didn't take long for a blockbuster to quickly lose steam. As it was, I realized that the movie was the big Second City Comedy Troupe flick, or the big merger of folks from both "SCTV" and "Saturday Night Live". It wasn't (and still isn't) a laugh-out-loud funny movie but it did have a lot of heart within its cast. I think Bill Murray was the keyman here...if you're a fan of his, you should be OK with it; if not, look elsewhere. Although I wanted to see the movie again after so many years, I really also wanted to check out the specials. And I wasn't too's good to hear the commentary by Harold Ramis, someone who I've known since I was 10 years old watching the original SCTV on Global TV, and Ivan Reitman. Not surprisingly, Bill Murray isn't though. I got the feeling that he's not much on re-living past events, and Ramis & Reitman have laughingly hinted that he was a bit of a kvetcher during the shoot.

It is interesting to note in my twin pack that the original "Ghostbusters" got the special attention as being "The Collector's Edition", while its sister disc of "Ghostbusters 2" got bupkiss...well, virtually bupkiss. I guess the second movie really was the ugly stepsister. Still, for all that talk of making a 3rd movie, I think the probability is that if a third entry is made, it will be in the re-imagined vein of what the Batman, Superman and Doctor Who franchises have all gone through. Both Ackroyd and Ramis look like they wouldn't be able to fit into ECTO-1 anymore (ouch!), although if there is a need for a live-action Slimer...(double ouch!). I'm all for a new version of the paranormal investigators and eliminators...there certainly is room for some additions from the current crop of Second City alumni (Mike Myers, Will Farrell, heck, even Dana Carvey could use the paycheck), and obviously the SFX have been amped up a lot in the past 23 years.

Anyways, time to head on home...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wednesday May 9, 8:21 p.m.

Well, it's been an eventful week. The Queen has finished her trip to the States on a good note, despite being the victim of a Bushism; the French have elected an unpopular politician (talk about the contrarian nature of these guys); and I was gonna make the punchline about Hitomi Yoshizawa graduating from Morning Musume. But I was skunked by none other than a former Musume herself. On Tuesday morning, I turned on the telly and sure enough, there was my clone, Karube the entertainment reporter on Fuji-TV, breathlessly announcing that the littlest Musume, Nozomi Tsuji at the tender age of 19, was not only going to be getting hitched to some teen idol, but she was gonna have her own musume in several months. I checked the J-Pop forums, and boy it was like watching the politico forums on Election Day 2000. Massive shockwaves.

Speaking of betrothals, I got a laconic message from MB stating that he and The Sylph will be making that big leap into permanent bondage withone another. Now, I guess the next couple will have to be The Satyr and Ms. Ivory, The Sylph's good buddy. Skippy got the same message, too. No doubt she'll be bouncing the walls at this time. Anyways, I'm sure we'll all be chatting about it on Sunday.

Tuesday was a busy day, as it usually is. The Beehive and I started our new life as nomads at the massive food court in the AEON shopping complex (probably named since it seems like it takes an aeon to reach the court from the entrance) just 5 minutes away from the north exit of JR Tsudanuma. The ladies had a ball of a time for their 90 minutes negotiating their agenda for their eventual tour across Canada in October. Even though I won't be joining them, they've assigned me the task of searching for a B&B for them. Well, I've sent an SOS to an old friend of mine back in T.O. If everything works out, I hope there can be one in The Annex, the gentrified neighbourhood just across from the University of Toronto. In any case, the ladies are quite serious about the big trip. Next week's session will be a field trip of sorts to The Canadian Embassy in Aoyama. It seems that there is a rotational element to our nomadic existence; the week after next, we'll be setting up stakes in the Beckers hamburger joint in JR Tsudanuma itself. The variety is nice but I do hope that a permanent place will be found within the next several months.

Afterwards, it was off to Ichigaya to teach The New Yorker. It looks like she and her sister, The Carolinan, had a so-so time at this ukelele concert in Yokohama over Golden Week. I didn't get too much detail from her about it so I'll be asking the big sister tomorrow night during her session.

Then, it was back to Urayasu for the juku classes. Man, it was a pretty full session there. I was glad that my lesson with the kids, Chip N' Dale, went well. The last few classes were pretty lacksadaiscal affairs. I think the two maple chocolates helped. Class with Seven was its usual friendly and laidback self...I shared a wedge of Baum Kuchen with her this time. The Milds were twisting themselves into knots trying to unravel the mysteries behind Present Perfect. But not too much damage. The Siberian only had a 45-minute chit-chat; we always manage to get onto some new topic. Last night's was on international swearing. He was rather amused by my relating that American hip-hop songs played over the speakers at stores are the unvarnished versions and not the ones with the swear words excised. From my talk, he was reminded of Gwen Stefani's "Hollerback Girl", the original version with four-lettered vocabulary intact.

I got my surprise when I opened the shoji to my room and saw Jolly sitting and talking with the juku boss when I finished up with The Siberian. Well, look what the cat dragged in. In any case, his new time slot will be 10-10:30 on Tuesdays (if he does come in regularly...he didn't seem too confident about that). The expression on my face wasn't lost on the boss, and in fact she realized that she'd forgotten to tell me about that little tidbit of information. I wasn't too miffed although I did let her apologize profusely.

Well, I'm gonna have a rather large hole in my schedule tomorrow since The Dentist cancelled her lesson. So, it's just gonna be 002 in the morning, followed by The Carolinan in the evening. At least, I'll have some time to look at that old 80s cinematic chestnut, "Ghostbusters" whose twin-pack DVD set I bought at HMV today. I guess I'm waxing a bit nostalgic. If I ever run into Ray Parker Jr. near The Imperial Castle (I hear he jogs regularly there), I'll have to swap stories with him. Just in case you didn't know; apparently, he has set up digs in The Big Sushi...along with Kobe Bryant's dad.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday May 7, 7:35 p.m.

Glad to get the Bufferin just in time. By the time I met up with The Part-Timer, my head was throbbing to the point that I couldn't help but take on a Clint Eastwood squint. So I quickly downed the 2 tablets with my veggie juice at smoky Doutors (Clint, being a jazzbo, would love this coffee joint since it's got all the atmospheric smoke); it was a bit touch-and-go but as the lesson went on, the pain and pressure slowly dissipated. I was feeling downright buoyant when I said my goodbyes to my student.

BTW, I have to promote The Part-Timer since she's no longer technically a part-timer. She became a full-time employee as of May 1, so as mundane as it sounds, she's now the Full-Timer. She's not quite sure what her new position will entail but I hope it means more benefits in terms of bonuses. She had a fairly quiet Golden Week. She and a friend of hers went to an autograph session (sign kai, as they would say it in their pidgin English here) at the Sanseido Bookstore in Kanda over the holiday; her buddy was off to see a K-1 athlete by the name of Genki Sudo. The Full-Timer wasn't too overcome by the thrill since she's just got a passing interest in the sport of kickboxing, but her friend and the other folks in line were basically frothing at the mouth. Some were crying in joy, others were shaking. Kinda reminds me of the time I was in Shibuya years ago when by chance that ancient boy band, The Backstreet Boys, were visiting the Tokyo-FM studio. I came across dozens of high school girls sobbing, screaming or shaking in their loose socks after they were allowed to be in the presence of pop cultural greatness.

Looks like Mr. TOEIC is gonna be a half-hour late. Kinda figured that he would do that. His job in sales is a prime candidate for sudden temporal changes. Looks like I can get some curricula stuff done...or not. In any case, Speedy is currently training yet another new face. I dub she Miss Monday. Pretty (and) fresh, she is too. She answered her first phone call with a very crisp business response when Mr. TOEIC called. Ahhhh...the wonders of young adulthood.
Monday May 7, 5:44 p.m.

That headache is not going away. I've tried the usual massage on the scalp but that never really had much effect on me. I guess my head's just tightened up too much...along with the rest of my upper body. I may have to make a detour at a nearby drugstore to pick up some Bufferin before The Part-Timer. One thing for more coffee today. I realized that I've drunk 5 cups of the stuff in the past 11 hours. Heck, even my urine smelled like it needed cream and sugar; my apologies to those who are drinking the jo as they are reading this.

In any case, I listened to the last of my binge purchases over the weekend. I gotta admit that the newest MISIA release, "Ascension", may be one of those discs that will have to grow on me. I just didn't find it particularly that absorbing. It was a case that most of the songs sounded a little too similar to me. I think "Luv Parade" and perhaps one other song were the standouts although I already have the single to the first tune. Her very first album all the way back in 1998 had the same problem but I just blamed that on first-album jitters. I kinda wonder if her stuff is suffering from the usual Dreams Come True syndrome: solid singles but ho-hum albums.

Anyways, gotta head out to the drug store. Speedy doesn't have any headache pills on hand here.
Monday May 7, 5:03 p.m.

Just my luck that it's 25 C out there and I had to wear the good suit...the good suit for winter; I don't have a lighter summer suit. But if I bought a Men's Aoki suit here, I would always be afraid that if the slightest bit of water got onto it, it would disintegrate like cheap Kleenex. In any case, I had to wear my suit instead of the usual garb by Hiro from "Heroes" since today's session with The Class Act took place at a French restaurant.

Actually, I almost forgot about the special meal out today; luckily, I had started planning the week's lessons yesterday afternoon when I saw the schedule change. The Matron had called me up a couple of weeks before to inform me that all of us plus her hubby and son would be heading to a small French bistro just metres away from her hubby's office. Well, the roll call turned out to be much was the five of us with The Lady's brother-in-law (damn fine command of English), the hubby's secretary and the hubby's nephew who's starting his career as a French chef. The place is called Aux Provencale, a little hidey-hole that noone outside of residents, both domestic and commercial, would know about. The Matron's husband kindly introduced us to the head chef and we were all seated at the long table.

Not surprisingly, the food was great: Duck A L'Orange and other such stuff with a generous dessert plate at the end. Some of us, including me, did indulge in a bit of champagne; I should've held off since I did have SIL afterwards. However, it wasn't so much that I was afraid of losing SIL's respect in my lack of professionalism, but just that I was in that lousy world between tipsiness and hangover en route to SIL...which I had to rush, by the way; never good in an inebriated state. Still, a very pleasant way to start off the post-Golden Week.

I was also lucky that SIL and I decided to dip into nostalgiaville again with all of our favourite TV shows coming back to mind. Everything from "The Untouchables" to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was covered. I even discovered that the lady is a passing fan of The Pet Shop Boys. I will have to bring over the DVD of their videos next week.

Still feeling pretty full after that buttery lunch. So I'm just going to have a couple of rice balls before I do my first lesson with The Part-Timer in a few weeks. I did make a take-home test for her. Then, I've got Mr. TOEIC for his 60 afterwards. I don't think I'll have a chance to tackle any curricula stuff tonight since I've got another full slate of classes tomorrow. Looks like this week is very much back to normal. However, at this point, it looks like I'll just have 001 for Wednesday.

Skippy is getting the plans for "Spiderman 3" under way for this Sunday. But instead of our usual target for Shinjuku, she wants all of us to try Roppongi Hills instead. It would seem that she wants to try out Tokyo Midtown for the dinner afterwards. I've got a feeling that Baker Bounce will be getting a try out from us.