Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday May 19, 4:51 p.m.

Well, got through the two lessons without too much of a problem. I'll be getting the same ol' lineup next week along with Farrah....there's a name I haven't heard from in a really long time. She's come back to the fold but she's been learning from the boss since I'd already been committed to the Manhattanite. But with Speedy gone from the office for the next couple of weeks due to business, I'm gonna have a few more lessons to do.

Won't be staying around too much longer. Gotta hit home and cook up some dinner.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Saturday May 19, 1:43 p.m.

Comfortably cool and dry outside, despite some rain and some rather louder-than-usual thunderclaps earlier today. It actually does feel quite nice out there...I guess it must be those negative ions.

Well, just 10 minutes before I was to have my lesson with The Ace last night, the police finally got their man. That yakuza who had been holed up for over a day in Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture (an oddly well-named town since, pun-wise, the name also means "long") was finally caught at about 8:50 last night JST when he dragged himself out of the house. True to form, the thug acted rather cavalierly...although we couldn't hear what he was yelling to the cops, it looked like he was demanding what the hell was taking the fuzz so long to cuff him. In a way, he looked like the imagined Keysor Soze from Verbal Kint's creative mind in "The Usual Suspects".

In any case, The Manhattanite should be here shortly. And then I have The Dentist at 3:30.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Friday May 18, 11:39 a.m.

Well, it hasn't been a good week for morality in Japan. Apparently, Japan's most popular governor, Higashikokubaru of Miyazaki Prefecture, finally got his black eye yesterday; something about some hidden cache of money. But I think me, every other local here and the kitchen sink knew that there was gonna be a downfall sometime for him. Politicians are never clean. I bet, though, he kinda regrets suddenly getting medieval on the journalists' asses a few weeks ago.

Also, less than a month after that incident with that yakuza holed up in the apartment in Machida City, there is currently (at least, it was still current when I left home 40 minutes ago) another similar incident in Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture (near Nagoya) playing itself out. And this time, there is a hostage. Some former gangster went ballistic on his family (shot and injured his kids) and then shot three cops including a SWAT officer who has since died. Right now, he's got his ex-wife as the hostage in a residential neighbourhood. The whole thing started 18 hours ago; I'd thought that the ordeal would have been finished overnight since the police in the Machida incident waited until the thug in that apartment got sleepy to make their move. However, at this time, the screens are still showing a lot of cops in heavy gear milling about the neighbourhood. So, a lot of the broadcasters have been shaking their hands sagely and sadly about what Japanese society is coming to. At this point, I'm kinda wondering what the Japanese underworld is up to. First, the assassination of the mayor of Nagasaki by a yakuza chieftain and then these two apartment incidents. I think the locals are wondering if America's cultural invasion has now included the NRA. Getting back to this guy holding his ex-wife hostage in Nagakute, though, I wonder if the fact that he's now a copkiller will get him the same price on his head that a similar crim would get in the States.

More on the latest teen psycho to make the front pages here....that kid who decapitated his mother on the eve of what would have been her 47th birthday. Apparently, the media have been making hay of his deposition that he wishes that there would be more war and terrorism in the world so that there would be more killing of people, and therefore his act would be justified. Ah...I'd say that he's ready for that straitjacket now. As I said, not a good week morally.

Fortunately, my life has been far more mundane (and hopefully, it'll remain that way forever), although Ichi the Killer (the guy who lived fairly close by) is still at large. Yesterday was virtually a day off for me except for meeting B2 at the usual Starbucks in Mitsukoshimae. It was a good session and she basically prefers just the interview style of lesson since I'm only meeting her monthly. I hope she isn't going to hold it against me that I made her buy a text.

The e-mail has been busy, though, mostly due to The Chipmunk's requests of me to check her applications for her son. For some reason, she wants to claim Canadian residency for her sons. She actually does have landed immigrant status so the path is somewhat easier for her. Also, I've gotten word from The Polynesian about getting back to her lessons. Well, she's proposed this Sunday...I hope she actually does show up this time. If she pulls another fast one this time, then I dump her like a rock.

I did listen to that "Ghostbusters" soundtrack yesterday. Well, it is very 80s...along with 3 versions of Ray Parker Jr.'s title song, there is Air Supply, Laura Branigan and The Thompson Twins, although I don't think their contributions even showed up in the film...and frankly, I don't think the stars would even go anywhere near their stuff. Heck, there was even a nod to the 70s in the form of "Disco Inferno" which was the tune being played during nerd Louis Tully's party (disco did suck back then).

Well, just got the Ace for his 60 tonight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday May 16, 10:28 p.m.

And thus, another long day at the school is coming to a close. I managed to do OK with the model lesson student, a patent judge (at least I know what I'll name him if he does sign up). He looked quite young for a man his age....I almost had him carded.

But aside from that 1 hour and 10 minutes, it's just been doing my share of browsing on the Net via Wikipedia. I can't believe I hadn't done it earlier but I finally got to go through all that stuff on "Saturday Night Live". Man, what a history that show has had. From Chevy Chase to Will Ferrell. Unfortunately, I've missed out on the last 13 years but as some would cheekily say, there wasn't much to miss...even with Ferrell. To be honest, even when I got back to Canada over the Holidays, I didn't really catch SNL all that much. It's kinda like my old comics habit; once you kick it, that's it. Still, I would like to get that DVD of the 25th anniversary special; very much doubt that there will be anything released this year. I don't know of anyone pulling out all the stops for 32nd anniversaries. Well, at least I know I'll be going through a lot of SNL stuff on YouTube when I hit the I-cafe tomorrow.

As expected, despite his proclamations to the contrary, Speedy is still at it on the keyboard despite being borderline exhausted. Hey, his company...

Just got B2 for her monthly. It'll be nice to sleep in...
Wednesday May 16, 4:45 p.m.

May not have too much time here. Looks like in the same way as my home computer did a year ago, this current one I use at Speedy's may also be on its last legs. Crashing seems to be as natural to it as logging on. Well, luckily, I did manage to get that e-Card to DTE for her birthday.

Since I'm here for hours between The Nurse and that model lesson, I took a little over an hour off to head over to Shinjuku. At first, I popped in for lunch at McDs....yup, not the wisest action since I'd had brekkie there this morning. In fact, the lady who served me then was still there; luckily, she had the generosity not to give me a shocked glare at someone who dares go there twice.

Got to Shinjuku...and wasn't shocked to see the usual snake curling around Krispy Kreme, although it was the middle of the week and not the weekend. Anyways, I've washed my hands at the entire phenomenon. I can hope that enough people have become disillusioned at the wait that if and when a new branch ever gets opened, noone comes over in spite.

I finally did get my "Ghostbusters" CD at HMV, along with the latest issue of "Empire" Magazine. The floor wasn't as filled as it was on Sunday with shoppers and diners but brisk business was being had.

And now I just wait for another 3 hours...001 is not showing up today.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wednesday May 16, 11:16 a.m.

Well, had another good one with The Nurse. Looks like she's been doing quite well in the lessons although she isn't looking forward to the inevitable test next week. And that's basically it for me today since I just have a trial lesson tonight. Not that I look at a potential new student any less than a signed one but I've always got one or two model lesson plans up my sleeve ready to go on semi-automatic. The model lesson itself won't be taking place until 8:30, so I've got plenty of down time til then. I will probably do a few more hours of curricula-building and then with Speedy's blessing, I may hop on down to Shinjuku for a couple of hours.

To continue on with yesterday's stuff...I did meet 002 for her regular. She's got just a few points left on her dance ticket before the spectre of renewal rears its head. All of us know it, and she's 90% sure that she'll continue on with us. Speedy, though, is concerned about that 10%, though. Once again, the spectre of conflicting interest also popped up since the lass started asking me about my private, non-Speedy situation. Not a situation I like to find myself in.

My juku Tuesdays will be getting longer from now on, now that Jolly has returned to the fold. Not only that but he has asked to take his half-hour classes into the full-hour ones....which will take me from 10 to 11...and that's taking into account I've usually got the Nurse for a 10 a.m. Wednesday class. So, the money will be great but I am looking at nearly 5 straight hours of lessons with Chip N' Dale, Seven, The Milds, The Siberian and Jolly; I've got a half-hour break which often gets eaten when Seven and I get into a talking groove, but there's the possibility that the boss may put in that high school student later on. Well, the money is good but boy, even the boss is a bit worried at what the long haul will do to my health.

Still, even with the late signoff last night and the early call today, I'm doing quite a lot better than Speedy since he has to do the long hours nightly. He said that come hell or high water that once the demo lesson is done at 9:30 tonight, we are all out of here. But then he has said that before...

In the local news, it looks like less than 48 hours after Mother's Day and a full decade since one of the most heinous murders in Japanese postwar history, we've chalked up another psycho killer. Some high school boy with that loner profile calmly entered the local police station yesterday with a bag carrying his mother's head which he sawed off while she slept. I don't even want to know how that could've been pulled off. It was 10 years ago when the Jun Hase killing took place; a mildly retarded boy was decapitated by a classmate and his head was placed on the school gates early that morning. Unfortunately, in the intervening time, there has been plenty of evidence that a lot of kids are just not normal.

And in the last couple of days, one of the biggies in news broadcasting announced that he's battling lung cancer. Tetsuya Chikushi, the anchor for "News 23", the TBS 11 p.m. flagship news show, confessed that he's gotten Stage 1...not surprising after years of imbibing tons of cigarettes like fish through water. He'll be taking time off the show to go through the rigours of chemotherapy. The story reminded me of that rather sad signoff from Peter Jennings of ABC before he succumbed to the same disease some months afterward. However, unlike Jennings, Chikushi was sounding like his old self so perhaps there is some hope for him....even at his advanced age of 71.
Wednesday May 16, 9:49 a.m.

Man, already past the halfway point this month!

Yep, got the agreement from The Entrepreneur. "Spiderman 3" is the most depressing blockbuster this year...definitely not a date movie. I think the surviving characters would probably be in need of intense counseling. Mind you, they may end up on Doctor Strange's doorstep.

Yesterday was another one of those long Tuesdays. The Beehive had its first session at Becker's. was OK with me and The Teacher but I'm not too convinced that it's our type of place where the ladies are concerned. As was the case last week, it was another free-for-all conversation on the Great Canadian Tour. I've been seeing if there is a good B&B for the group. Not that easy...

The skies opened up again without The Japan Meterological Agency's permission. Well, at least the only casualty on my line was just a forlorn bath towel...back into the machine it went. I spent my three-hour layover between The Beehive and 002 just hanging around the station of JR Funabashi. After searching for a restaurant for half an hour (those restaurants at the top of the department stores are just too pricey), I ended up at the local Fujiya eatery on the top floor of the TOBU store.

Gotta stop off here...The Nurse should be arriving shortly.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday May 14, 10:41 p.m.

Just itching to get out of here but I just had to blog this. I did get my heart-rendering manifesto over to The Tulip...a second time, since my computer decided to have a heart attack the first attempt (curse you, Microsoft Advantage!). I don't know quite why I sent over the reassurance since I don't think she really appreciated my attempts to teach her last year, but I know what it's liked to be raked over the coals. I think part of the incentive was also to reassure myself.

Anyways, on top of my self-help therapy, Speedy had me and the new Girl Friday eat some of the leftover quiche from Mr. Influence's latest kitchen trek...still think I'm a real man, though.

Looks like the trip to the Canadian Embassy is off. Mrs. Travel contacted me to state that things are back on the nomadic front (next stop, Beckers) due to the fact that she has to stay in close proximity to her sick grandson. Works for me since at least I'll be closer to 002 tomorrow.

Anyways, I'm outta here.
Monday May 14, 7:58 p.m.

Well, now that I've got the review for what has now become the top-grossing film of the year so far (don't count "Pirates of the Caribbean III" out), I can take care of the day's business.

Pre-theatre, I had the kids for their regular. The Elder actually took to the more specific worksheet pretty well much to my relief. Over Golden Week, their family had done a bit of traveling to Osaka and to Universal Studios Japan. I got a nice souvenir from the father in the form of a Hanshin Tigers canister of chocolate-and-nuts nuggets. Nice to have for breakfast this morning. Yup, love those Tigers. I guess the Osaka team is to the Tokyo Giants as the Boston Red Sox are to the Bronx Bombers. But the roles are reversed in a way...the Tigers have the really vociferous fans and an instantly recognizable team song.

Afterwards, I had lunch in Shinjuku at that Chinese eatery with the cheap lunch sets in the basement of the Maynrd Building...I really scored a good one by finding this place. On a Sunday when the masses regularly clog up just about every restaurant in the entirety of Shinjuku, I have been able to find a tasty restaurant with a 900-yen meal with all-you-can-eat gyoza and veggies without having to throw Gordie Howe elbows to get through. Of course, Krispy Kreme remains defiantly a source of doughnut idolatry.

I finally got to check the upper floors of Takashimaya Times Square where all the trendy restaurants are. It looks like the floors got a moodier...oops, caught myself using Japlish again...I should say, more atmospheric facelift. Times Square, feeling the heat from all of those whippersnappers such as Tokyo Midtown and Shin Maru Biru, gussied up some of its long-standing eateries while bringing in some fresh blood such as West Side Park Cafe. May be some places to try out with Skippy or even when The Little Dancer's clan comes into town. However, I just checked out the HMV which shares space with those restaurants. I guess my geekiness came to the fore since I was looking for the "Ghostbusters" renewed fondness for the 1984 flick has now extended to the music, although really I was looking forward to the extended remix of Ray Parker Jr.'s magnum opus. I did find it but didn't pull the trigger since I hadn't been sure how much I would be paying for the "Spiderman 3"/Baker Bounce outing. I did find it, though, so its days on the shelves are now numbered.

I headed down to Roppongi Hills. It was somewhat more populated with people than on that Friday a few weeks ago when I could throw my voice in its curvy corridors to field echoes; still, it has peaked. I met up with the gang and gave my congratulations to the upcoming nuptials between Movie Buddy and The Sylph. The Satyr and Ivory were also looking pretty comfortable in their new relationship. Skippy was just there to give us the tickets for the movie, since she suddenly had to take care of her student. C'est dommage but she will be able to see it easily enough in the near future. She would pick us up at the entrance and lead us to Baker Bounce when the film finished. I remarked that she would make a most excellent concierge. Maybe that opportunity will arrive fairly soon. She told me that her company of the past couple of years, IBM, will be pulling up stakes and move to Shanghai come October. Of course, she won't go.

The trailers before "Spiderman 3" reflected what will become a plethora of viewing choices in the next few months. "Shrek 3" and Johnny Depp's latest try at Keith Richards were dutifully advertising themselves. Then, there was "Die Hard 4.0". Almost 20 years after John McClane's run-in with Hans Gruber, the cop-that-never-dies (sans hair) will be going up against a techno-savvy gang, a helicopter and even a Harrier jet. MB and The Satyr remarked later that we needn't see the movie since most of the movie was already shown during the trailer.

After enjoying (or commiserating) Spidey, Skippy was, sure enough, there at the front of Toho Cinemas to escort us over to Tokyo Midtown. We did a bit of browsing around (at these shops, browsing is really all we can ever do there), we got to the hamburger shop. Because of our number of 6, we lucked out by getting the back set of booths which was set up in a way that we got some semi-privacy. I ended up getting a Bacon-and-Cheese burger with a Dr. Pepper. The Satyr and MB got themselves Root Beer for their drinks. I was tempted but then I was reminded by my days at A&W and decided to play it safe. The ladies took a sip of their beaus' sasparilla and decided that Root Beer tasted approximately like a liquid version of medicated Salon-Pas pads (something like Ben-Gay on gauze). Well, to each her own. The burgers were impressive although none of us did order the legendary, Homer Simpson-inspired Double Burger (I, for one, wanted to survive a few more years); however, I was quite taken by the generous helping of Chicken Fingers for just 400 yen. Those were some pretty meaty fillets of fowl. On the other hand, in the Fish n' Chips, apparently the chefs have only decided to define the chips in the merest sense of the plural...only three home fries to complement the fish. All of us finished our most excellent dinner with a round of Apple Pie A La Mode and coffee. Our collective life expectancies may have been lowered by our repast but at least we'll die happy.

Now, as for today, it was another full one. I had my first real session with The Class Act since Golden Week. I heard a rather interesting one from The Matron. Her daughter, The Tulip, a lass who only lasted a few rounds with me and who had always seemed to be someone who never suffered fools gladly, had gotten rather weepy with her Mum after discovering that she'd been a flame target on the notorious Channel 2. How she got on there I don't quite know but Channel 2 pretty much has everything. Ahhh...the tender age of 20 and she's already gotten her first panning. Well, a parallel situation could be made about her and what Mary Jane Watson got in "Spiderman 3". In any case, although her mother rectified the situation well enough, I feel like I should also give my support as well for some reason.

After my usual lunch at Wendy's, I tried to make a quick beeline to Tower Records...yes, I was looking for that "Ghostbusters" CD, but sure enough, the place was closed for its bimonthly inventory. Then, I dipped into the Shibuya HMV but nada there. I hopped on the Ginza Line and went over to SIL's neck of the woods since there would be an HMV nearby in the Ueno ABAB (the unlikely name for a long-standing department store). I was unlucky there, too, but did discover a Sweets Forest restaurant. Sweets Forest is a chain that specializes in 70-minute all-you-can-eat dessert buffets. I put the sighting under advisement.

The interesting anecdotes kept on coming with SIL. Apparently, she has had a neighbour suffering from multiple-personality disorder for several years. Her neighbour (or should I say, neighbours) lives alone and is rampantly loud in all of her incarnations. The police have gotten complaints from everyone in the area but as a lot of plots in suspense dramas go, there's very little they can do unless the offending party actually hurts someone.

Fortunately, The Full-Timer was very down-to-earth today, although disappointingly weak in her Conditionals, according to her take-home test. Still, it was a flying-colours sort of pass. My fourth class, Mr. TOEIC, had to cancel suddenly...something that will probably happen fairly often considering his job. So, here I am, typing this. But I've got many miles to go before I sleep since I have to start up a new curriculum for the re-emerged Jolly tomorrow night. And I also have to think of more stuff to entertain the juku kids, Chip N' Dale. Plus, there's the mini-field trip with The Beehive to the Canadian Embassy as well. Never a dull moment...even as an English teacher.
Monday May 14, 5:03 p.m.


I had always thought that my personal reviews were given somewhat short shrift whenever I tried to jot them down, so I've decided to give them their own entry...something I did a few years ago when I gave my rant on the two Matrix sequels.

So, yesterday, I met up with the newly engaged MB and Sylph, along with the other new couple of The Satyr and Miss Ivory at the former Virgin Theatres, now known as TOHO Cinemas for the latest adventures of everyone's favourite webslinger.

As usual, my take on the movie is somewhat kinder than what a number of critics have said. I think "Spiderman 3" is actually quite a nice addition to what has become (again, my opinion) the best comic book-turned-movie franchise. When I had first heard that Spidey would be taking on not one, not two, but three villains in the latest installment, the red alert lights flashed on and off in my brain....thoughts of the majority of "Batman" flicks flew in my head. But I'm glad to say that Raimi has pulled it off again. He was actually able to miraculously weave the triple threat of New Goblin, Sandman and Venom pretty well. Still, it makes me wonder how deeper the story could've been if any of the three bad guys had been given the solo treatment that Doc Ock got in "Spiderman 2".

The other observation after seeing the third movie is that it was by far the most depressing of the 3 Spiderman movies released so far, and that's saying a lot considering that Peter Parker has always been the Sad Sack of the Marvel Empire. And this observation also rings ironic since this is the flick in which Spiderman finally gets to be loved by New York, a tough audience for any superhero. Think of it..."Spiderman 3" is marketed as Peter Parker's dance with the devil, but Harry Osborn and even Mary Jane Watson in one scene have their chances to be jerks (all three also have their opportunities to show off their dancing "prowess", but enough about that), and all three go through major scarring...physical and/or emotional. By the end of the movie, we just don't know if Peter and MJ have gotten back together or are just holding on after going through some major hell. That's quite the end of a plot arc that started with the two lovebirds making out in a web.

As usual, the famous tagline of "With great power, comes great responsibility" hangs heavy in this installment as well. In fact, the movie illustrates what happens when Peter doesn't just leave it quietly as he did in the last movie, but absolutely shreds it in this one. His turn to the dark side takes down just about everyone he touches: MJ, Harry, Gwen and even the slimy Eddie Brock. But Harry Osborn also does his dance with the dark side and Sandman's haunted profile is the future projection. Of course, at the end, Harry (and maybe even Sandman)is redeemed and given a good end. Basically, this movie was able to show its characters' descent into darkness and emergence back to light (of some sort) much better than "Return of the Jedi" or the "Star Wars" prequels.

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned any of the special effects. Well, they are stunning but it looks like I've paid more attention to the story than anything else, not a bad endorsement for an escapist series. However, although the multiple-villain approach was actually successful, a new series of Red Alerts has now gone off on hearing that Sony Pictures are going for a sextology of Spiderman. Hmmm....thoughts of The Law of Diminishing Returns of a Movie Franchise, or in short, Sequelitis, are dancing in my head. Just how many times can Peter Parker keep being reminded of that "power/responsibility" tagline? And just how many times can MJ continue to be kidnapped by a supervillain, without the kiddies rolling their eyes? James Franco may no longer have to worry, but will Tobey McGuire and Kirsten Dunst be willing to revisit their iconic roles for another decade?

Inquiring minds want to know....nuff said.