Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thursday May 24, 2:15 p.m.

The past couple of days have been downright summery. Reached up to 28 C yesterday. No wonder I had to scrape my shirt off when I got home.

Kinda wonder where Japan is headed morally. Yesterday, I found out on the telly that some regional cop answering his apartment doorbell ended up with a knife to the stomach by some thug who is still on the loose. Then, initially I had assumed that NHK was leading off with the same story but realized that they were talking about another incident in which an emotionally unstable guy stabbed a middle-aged housewife to death in her own kitchen yesterday afternoon in a quiet neighbourhood in Shinagawa. Shinagawa ain't anything like the raunchy areas of Shinjuku or Roppongi. That's what makes this incident so sordid. Schools in the area immediately called a Red Alert and had parents pick up the kids as soon as the news got out. But unlike the first crime, the Shinagawa stabbing solved itself within a few hours. The psycho did himself in by hanging himself in another apartment. Methinks that Japan will really need an influx of mental health professionals....although that's gonna be next to impossible with National Health Insurance probably becoming a dinosaur in the next two decades. And Ichi the Killer is still out there.

I found out from the juku boss that Jolly had called in after I had left the place on Tuesday to say that he wouldn't be able to come in. Talk about a lack of timing. The boss told him to call by 10 p.m....uh-uh; make him call by 9 p.m. if he's to be a cancellation. So I guess that fellow who passed me on his bike at warp speed wasn't him, after all.

Looks like Speedy sealed the deal with 002. I saw her today and she told me that she signed, albeit a bit reluctantly, for another 48 classes. The lass tried to squeeze out a lower rate from him but it was like trying to do the same to a rock for blood. I told her that the boss always makes it a habit to ramble about how much in the red the school is during a sparse month. However, potential crisis averted.

I've only got The Carolinan tonight for her 60. BC is indeed back but under the weather so she's pushed her next class to the 31st. Also, I've been helping The Beehive with their reservations for their hotels in Canada. It looks like one of them has done right by us pretty quickly.

After a few hours at Speedy's, I was flush with cash...ironically, though Speedy lamented about the lack in profits this past month, I did make quite a few yen so I put most of it into the bank like a good saver...and then went crazy with the rest of it. I made a quick pit stop in tony Omotesando and picked up a couple of bottles of Extra Light No. 1 maple syrup at Kinokuniya Supermarket before heading off to Ginza...where the real yen drain occurred. Yup, I filled up my Yamano Music point card for the second time this month. The theme of my purchases was strictly 80s, from both sides of the Pacific. I got another couple of re-releases by pop chanteuse Hiromi Iwasaki, City Pop icon EPO, Joe Jackson's "Body & Soul" and the Scissors Sisters' only major hit so far, "Don't Feel Like Dancing". I realized that Joe Jackson had already been exploring the jazzier side of himself over a decade sooner than his stylistic twin, Elvis Costello. As for Iwasaki, the purchases were a reunion since I already have the original LPs back gathering dust in a storage room in my family's apartment complex...not exactly using record players anymore. So, it was nice to listen to her dulcet and velvety tones again. I've been going rather ga-ga collecting her remasters but it's been interesting to get this decade-long soundscape from her initial days of her as a typical teen aidoru to a vocally talented kayo kyoku kashu (singer) to a chanteuse who could thrive in front of a full orchestra.

Had lunch at Bamiyan, the Chinese restaurant chain near the station. Yes, I realize that Bamiyan is a rather strange name for a Chinese eatery considering the namesake is located in Afghanistan but, hey, if the food's good.... Strangely enough, it's one of the places in the neighbourhood that I seldom go to; I think the last time there was about 2 or 3 years ago. I think it's because Chinese food is stuff that should be enjoyed with a group of people with a lot of different dishes. Going there by oneself would just be a wasted opportunity.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wednesday May 23, 1:58 p.m.

Just finished off a beta version of a midterm test on Telephone Conversations. I tried to keep out some of the more raunchier answers from the multiple choice section...

Not too often I get to opine on a celeb in the media but since I see this guy just about everyday on CNN. It looks like Lou Dobbs has finally gotten that accusation that I figured would be aimed at him eventually. Nope, it's not about that he's anti-immigrant...he's gotten that for years since he went on that crusade about America's porous borders. Nope, it's the accusation about him bullying various correspondents on the air. Apparently, an Andrea Koppel fan has gotten on Dobbs' back for his one of his nightly tirades on the Congress while his heroine got caught in the crossfire (no pun intended).

For one thing, I think Dobbs can be lauded for his perseverance about not letting up on something he fervently believes in (he's already trashed the theory that journalists must remain fair and balanced), but yep, anyone going on his high horse night after night will inevitably be called a nag. And of course, after a while, even yelling will just have no effect on viewers once it just continues ad nauseum. However, I think that anyone working in news probably already has burnished steel plating for a skin, so the fan needn't worry too much about Koppel or anyone else (although that was quite a smirk she had on her face during Dobbs' latest outburst). At the same time, the correspondent in charge of the Pentagon (forgot his name) did half-jokingly say at a meeting a few years ago that the only person he fears is the Dobbman himself.

On that note, I'm out of here...
Wednesday May 23, 12:18 p.m.

Well, The Nurse had been looking a bit glum until I told her that Speedy couldn't get that test done up in time for her. Then, the lass looked considerably up. Lucky for all of us. Just did some worksheet writing for Tully and the Coffeemaker for Sunday's lesson. Still haven't heard from the juku boss about whether Jolly did show up and whether she had eviscerated him.

Not doing too badly considering I didn't get all much sleep between the late night and the early morning but as Robert Frost once wrote..."still have many miles to go before I sleep."

I read in "The Japan Times" this morning over my uncomfortably sweet McGriddles sandwich that meat has supplanted fish as Japan's choice of protein. Not great news for the various fishmongers in Ameyoko or Tsukiji here in Tokyo, but that may mean some relief for the environmentalists. One seller in Ameyoko (American Alley) in the Ueno area complained on the news this morning that the young folk couldn't even distinguish their fish properly. As if I'm interested in telling the difference between albacore and bluefin tuna.

Getting back to my schedule yesterday, we had a switch in venue with The Beehive in the morning. Instead of going to Beckers as originally scheduled, Mrs. Travel had the rest of us over to her place. She complained that she couldn't really hear me at that fast food restaurant despite the fact that I was sitting right across from her. I don't really mind the chance since I've never been too comfortable teaching groups in a public space and we can't do things such as repetition practice there. Also, we don't have access to the Internet at Beckers which is what we were pretty much doing the whole time in preparation for their grand tour of Canada. We made some preliminary reservations for B&B's in Ontario and Quebec. Not sure if The Beehive will therefore now stick with a rotation of Travel's and Perth's homes.

The New Yorker was definitely under the weather with a cold yesterday. She could've just given me a ring to cancel but she said that she hadn't had my phone number. I rectified that situation although she could've just called up her sister to get it.

The long haul at the juku wasn't as bad as I had dreaded although I was feeling pretty glad that Jolly had AWOL'ed. For one thing, Jolly did desert and for a second thing, I'd forgotten that Seven had informed me about cancelling her class last night. So, basically, I had 90 minutes to just stare at the ceiling and play with the juku cat.

Speaking of the lass, I'd always wondered why Seven looked so familiar. After perusing the Wiki entry of "Saturday Night Live", I finally found out as if a thunderclap had exploded just above my head. Seven has this rather eerie resemblance to SNL alumna Victoria Jackson in both looks and voice. If my student can recite poetry while doing a headstand, that'll just seal the deal. Jackson was never one of the main forces in her time with the show but she had her moments.
Wednesday May 23, 9:44 a.m.

Well, off to an interesting start...I have my usual 10 a.m. with The Nurse so I had brekkie at McD's. I actually gave that new menu of McGriddles a try. I think I'll just stick with the usual breakfast fare from now on. McGriddles is a new series of McMuffins except that instead of the English muffin, some psychos at HQ decided that they should give raisin-filled tiny pancakes a try at sandwiching all that greasy sausage and egg. I like my Sweet N' Sour Chicken but I will keep my pancakes and savory fare separate from now on. Plus, McGriddles is also a bit more premium in its prices which made my decision all the easier to make.

Then I get into Speedy's and find out from The Admin that the computers have been acting haywire again which affected a lot of files on the bossman's HD. And this is on the eve of his 2-week business trip...which doesn't give The Admin a lot of confidence about her stint as the acting head. Plus, Speedy gave me the wrong test to administer to The Nurse.

Speaking about screwups, I think Jolly is back in the juku boss' doghouse once again. This is the same guy who had requested the hour-long class last week...against my better judgement. Well, on the first night of the new regimen, he allegedly doesn't show calls, no e-mail, no nothing. I twiddle my fingers for about 15 minutes before the boss huffs and gives me the go-ahead to go home. As I was shuffling back to the subway station, this portly fellow on a bike just whips by me in the other direction. I wondered if it had been Jolly arriving at the juku nearly a half-hour late. If it hadn't been such a late hour, I would have probably stayed and waited but he didn't give us a heads-up, plus I have an early class today so my judgement was pretty much made up.

I only have The Nurse today but I'm gonna see about doing a bit more curricula and talking some last-minute stuff with the boss (provided that he's calmer) before heading out the door in the early afternoon down to Kinokuniya Supermarket to pick up the rare and golden Extra Light No. 1 maple syrup for Pancake Day next week. I shall be looking forward to a rare Wednesday night off, since it'll probably be the last one I have for the rest of the year now that The Judge has been added to my schedule.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday May 21, 7:45 p.m.

Got finished with The Full-Timer. She isn't having nearly as tough a time as The Polynesian is with her boss from Hell, but the shift to a longer workday hasn't been all that easygoing either for her. Still, she was skimming quite nicely through my introduction to Passives. Now, I've just got Mr. TOEIC, and if everything goes well with him, I will proudly be able to say that I will have gone through the cycle. 001 called up to say that she won't be able to make it for this Wednesday either. Well, I will be killing myself with the late finish at the juku tomorrow night and then the early start with The Nurse here but at least I can probably make a quick beeline home...although most likely I will be doing some shopping for the pancake party next week.

Yep, Cannes is with us once more. Why would I say that? Well, of course, the Japanese contingent consisting of 50% of the SMAP gang has descended upon the French shore once more. KimuTaku and Shingo Katori are there to promote their respective movies, "Hero" and "Saiyuki" although I wonder how two glorified trendy dramas are gonna make much of a dent in the jaded, and often hostile, press there. During the press conference with the two, Katori even managed to earn a few boos for his stupid comments....although not nearly the raspberry crop that Pamela Sue Anderson earned for not sticking around long enough for the photographers' liking. Mind you, Cannes darling, Beat Takeshi is also there, and even one half of Downtown, acerbic Hitoshi Matsumoto, is making his directorial debut with his flick which seems rather similar to some of Takeshi's work in terms of absurdism.

I see that Shrek has handily beaten Spiderman in the blockbusters' sweepstakes overseas. But what could beat a big, green ogre that has stomped a spider? Of course, a fey androgynous pirate...I've got no doubts that Captain Jack will smash some records of his own come Friday/Saturday.

Anyways, Mr. TOEIC should be shuffling in right about now...
Monday May 21, 5:23 p.m.

Well, back to more conventional surroundings doing this blog. Back at Speedy's just now. I'm starting to get the feeling that things will be getting busier this week. I've been getting the lesson plans for The Full-Timer and Mr. TOEIC, and I've had to spit out a worksheet for Chip N' Dale. Plus, I just realized that I have to make up something for Jolly tomorrow night. Eeesh!

As I was telling SIL earlier this afternoon, Japan is truly a safe country. I say this because this is the only country I know whose media would make headline news out of the fact that 8 bullets were fired from the gun of that former yakuza who had taken his ex-wife hostage last week. In contrast, the 75 shots fired by that nutbar in Moscow, Idaho yesterday (a small town of 21,000) was reported incidentally.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Monday May 21, 8:40 a.m.

Kinda rare day for me to start off my Monday here at the I-cafe, but I was playing a hunch that I would need to check my e-mail. Well, my hunch was pretty much crap...nada. I was kinda hoping to hear from 001 about her schedule on Wednesday whether she would come or not for her 90...the main reason being that my Tuesday night/Wednesday morning transition this week is gonna be hell. I've got Jolly for his 60 from 10-11 on Tuesday and then I gotta head out the door early next morning for The Nurse's 60 some 12 hours later.

I met up with The Polynesian for her first lesson in 2 months. It looks like she's undergoing the suffering that everyone does in corporate life at least once...the office bully. I did read in an article that psychopaths aren't just the killing machines; they're also the unthinking, uncaring and paranoid folks which often populate the various levels of a company. Unfortunately in The Polynesian's case, her bete noire is her immediate supervisor. None of her colleagues, including the big boss, will come near the poor lass since they would face the bully's wrath. Ahh...I sense there will be a change in The Polynesian's life soon enough.

Speaking of psychos, once only took a few days for another lurid sensationalistic crime to hit the media. A gang of four high school students took it upon themselves to punish a fellow female schoolmate for spreading bad rumours about them. They kidnapped the girl, beat her to a pulp, before chopping off her pinkie, yakuza style. I think the sociopathic morons only legitimized the rumours.

I caught the finale of Season 3 of "The West Wing" last night on SuperDrama TV. It looks like the show seems to revel in pathos-laden season finales. However, I would have to agree with some of the commentators on the Net that the killing of Simon Donovan was pretty forced. They shot Josh in Season 1, killed off Mrs. Landingham in Season 2, and they decide to have C.J.'s potential love interest assassinated because Aaron Sorkin felt that he couldn't have dutiful Ron Butterfield done in. However, this season finale did take on operatic overtones on the level of a Shakespearan tragedy with President Bartlet's decision to have the Defense Minister of Qumar taken out. At the same time, though, some of that high-toned drama kinda lost a bit of air with me since another West Wing-finale trademark, the message-laden song, was the same one played in the first "Shrek". Just couldn't reconcile C.J. Cregg's crying jag with a big green ogre moping around. In any case, next week will be some sort of special concerning "The West Wing" with all sorts of real West-Wing politicos such as Leon Panetta. And then it'll probably be December until Season 4 starts up. I hear that's when the show jumped the shark.

Anyways, I got my usual big four today.