Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saturday July 7, 4:44 p.m.

Well, I'm done for the day. Got through The Manhattanite and The Dentist. The Dentist had one of the more interesting stories this week. Her favourite oden restaurant's owners (the bossman also frequents the place) had just started a second branch in Kanda last week when a little gas accident basically totalled the entire place. No injuries but no insurance, either. That's a very fast way to throw away tons of money...faster than a few rounds of blackjack in Vegas. The Manhattanite will be making another appearance here late on Thursday night...which means I'll have to rush up from Ichigaya where I'm scheduled to teach The Carolinan and BC (provided that BC has recovered from her depression). It would be a long day on Thursday but I've got this rather huge gap in the schedule between 11:30 and 6:30, so I'm not really griping.

Supposedly, Live Earth Tokyo is booming along with some band called The Abingdon something or other right now. Those technopop dinosaurs, Yellow Magic Orchestra, are skedded to play as well. There was an an NHK 1-hour special (you Youtube guys have probably already put it out) last night on Sakamoto, Hosono and Takahashi with a performance. Yep, quite a lot of time has gone by. That was one of the tamest versions of "Cue" I'd ever heard. Quite a far cry from those slick modern Asian boys I saw thirty years ago on the stage.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Saturday July 7, 1:34 p.m.

Well, today is Tanabata Day...the day when everyone dresses up in yukata and ties up little strips of colourful paper with their wishes written on them. I've already seen some of the young and old ladies wrapped up in their kimono today on the streets.

The Dancer finally did call this morning. Apparently, the cell phone died temporarily on the bullet train. But no problems here...I'm meeting the clan tomorrow morning at their apartment hotel in Roppongi and then we'll plan out the day's events. They did mention the possibility of going to Harajuku although I'm not sure what the kids would think. But there is the Kiddyland store not too far away.

The Lady called me this morning as well to cancel this Monday's class due to various ailments. She's got her shingles and The Matron has got another backache. And I may suffer some financial headaches if this continues. Not good considering I've gotta get my ticket for Hong Kong, the National Health Insurance premium schedule is due in this month, and I'll be treating The Dancer's family tomorrow.

However, I did see The Coffeemaker this morning. Tully is back in Japan but he's up in his home prefecture of Nagano to celebrate the remodeling of his family home with the rest of his clan. The Coffeemaker was in good form, as she usually is, and it was nice to have the basement of the cafe devoid of people for most of the hour.

I've got The Manhattanite for the first time in a few weeks here at Speedy's in a few minutes. I'll be lending her a CD called "Shipbuilding" by a Japanese collective called Tomita Lab which seems to specialize in bossa-tinged AOR type stuff. She's a fan of the J-reggae singer, Hanaregumi. He's got a contribution on the disc but it's rather different in tone from what he usually sings so I wanted to give her a listen to it. Then, I've got The Dentist for her 60.

I'm assuming the Live Earth concert has started in Makuhari Messe on schedule. I warned The Ace last night, since he's off doing some sort of qualification test in Chiba City today, that he could be surprised by a lot of kiddies on the train today heading to see Kumi Koda and all those other J-Pop singers. Speaking of Al Gore's musical magnum opus, I've been rather surprised at how controversial it's been. Apparently, Bob Geldof, the grandpa of all these benefit megaconcerts, has slammed the former VP for holding this supposedly ill-advised event. And certainly on CNN, there was no love lost for Gore. Glenn Beck, aka Paula Zahn's replacement, and a representataive of PETA actually agreed on the hypocrisy of this concert in that this concert will probably be pumping a planet's worth of carbon into the atmosphere and that tons of meat will be served which means that another ton of emissions will go into the air from the processing. Perhaps, it's just as well that Al said that he has fallen out of love with politics.

Anyways, got the Manhattanite...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Friday July 6, 1:26 p.m.

The Nurse had her best day as a student here today. She was just spot-on and trying so hard. All of us had to try hard trying to get a slot for her for the next, next class though. I may have done my faux pas of the week when I suggested she could come in on the 21st, a Saturday, since I do have that dreaded DVD lesson. However, both the boss and The Admin kinda froze; apparently, The Nurse has paid for weekday lessons only so basically if she does in on the 21st, she would have to pay extra but Speedy said that he would waive it...just for her. Well, I've said that I have little interest in the business side of things...only interested in making sure the students are happy with their lessons.

Well, I've checked all of my sources. The Dancer has not checked in. So I guess I'll be heading back home for yet another dinner in my place...twice in a row. That's some sort of record. Plus, I did get some of the curricula stuff done so I'm not feeling too guilty.

At the risk of letting my ridiculously long multi-coloured scarf show, I've reading up on the latest "Doctor Who" news on Outpost Gallifrey. It seems as if the BBC flagship show has been starting to attract some pretty big stars a la "24". Sir Derek Jacobi had his few minutes in the sci-fi sun as The Master, Kylie Minogue will be showing up in the season premiere on Xmas Day, and now the rumours are flying about that Hollywood hard guy, Dennis Hopper, may be popping up. Of course, all of us are probably holding our breath (for a few seconds) at that news. I'm just trying to imagine all that in my actor who's been in everything from the original "Twilight Zone" to "Blue Velvet" to Japanese commercials for bath salts to the first season of "24" is gonna be starring next to Everyone's Favourite Time Lord in Season 4. All I can say is that if Hopper does indeed come to The Beeb, I'll be awaiting Leonard Nimoy's cameo. And hey, Paris (pre-convict) Hilton mentioned the good Doctor in an SNL skit.
Speaking of which...I guess "Heroes" has become TV's version of a sci-fi convention. Not only do we have an otaku as the star of the show, but we've also got Mr. Sulu as his Dad and Chris Eccleston (The Ninth Doctor) as another mutant. Plus, apparently, Eric (brother of Julia and The Master in the 1996 Who movie) Roberts is popping up as another character there. I guess it's not surprising but American TV has been promising more of these eerie SF/superhero shows for the fall lineup. It'll be a duckshoot whether any of them survive the current boom.
The bottom line, though, is that The Entrepreneur has taped the first three eps of Season 3 for me and so, I should be expecting a little package by mid-August. I will now hide the scarf.

Anyways, I'm done here. One more check of the e-mail and I'm outta here.
Friday July 6, 9:28 a.m.

Last night was a refreshing one, devoid of any classes. Just had that rare Takaaki Ishibashi night ("Utaban" on TBS at 8, and then his flagship show, "Tunnels no Minasan no Okage deshita") on Fuji-TV at 9. Plus, some major ironing.

I still have yet to hear from The Dancer despite sending an e-mail over to her yesterday. So, I may assume that we aren't gonna meet today...which isn't too bad for me. I'll just have my lesson with The Nurse, do a bit of curricula and then head on home until it's time for The Ace tonight. I'm actually feeling fairly sprightly this morning since I decided to hit the hay early last night at the Spanish dinner hour of 10 and then wake up at 6 this morning.

I've been hearing about Al Gore's (BTW, way to go on raising that neer-do-well son of yours, Al) Live Earth concerts for the past few weeks and was wondering when they would be hitting play. Well, goofy me. I just read in "The Japan Times" that they launch tomorrow. The Tokyo base will be having their contribution to the cause in Makuhari Messe...not exactly in my neighbourhood, but pretty darn close. Makuhari Messe is that convention complex in Chiba which reminds me of what the guys on "Logan's Run" or "Rollerball" could've been envisioning as a utopian/dystopian environment of the future....all white gleaming metal and concrete to reflect all that horrible heat right into the air. I couldn't think of a more ironic place to hold a concert devoted to solving the world's environmental problems. Still, I think the concert will have a who's who of J-Pop history: current flavour-of-the-semi-decade Kumi Koda will be strutting her stuff in as little as possible, and I think even technopop legends YMO will have a hand in the proceedings. I'll have to play my "Rydeen" in tribute....never could figure out what the title meant. I guess it's like Phil Collins' "Sussudio".

Yesterday was also the final day of the current session of the Diet. The Upper House President, retiring pol Chikage Ogi (a former Takarazuka Revue star...and absolutely looks it), gave her best Queen Victoria impression with her verbal "We're not amused" reprimand to the senators for some of the problems over the past few months. I'd say that PM Abe and his LDP may be looking at a rather tough 2 weeks of campaigning starting from late next week....let's see, three ministerial resignations since he started his new job in September (well, two resignations and one suicide), a political fire to put out when one minister called women "baby-making machines", and then there is the little issue of that pension record snafu with a capital "F". As many 50 million records screwed and possibly lost forever...those are a lot of angry voters.
Still, the current political situation here in Japan is rather interesting. Unlike in the US where voters will throw out someone they don't like often enough (re: the last midterm elections), Japanese voters tend to go with the devil they know rather than the devil they don't. And since politicians kinda rank down there with yakuza and pedophiles, PM Abe may only have that security blanket to go with to keep the coalition majority in the Senate.
And the headaches continue....newly-minted Defense Minister Yuriko Koike already has a small crisis to handle. Looks like some hot-headed USN seaman ended up stabbing two young Japanese women in his apartment yesterday.

Well, the Nurse should be here any minute....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Thursday July 5, 12:46 p.m.

One of those warm & sunny summer days. Just had 002 for her 60...nice solo class. If I had only one class to teach for the day, hers would be it. And sure enough, I just have that class today. I decided to eschew the movie outing today since I would've had to wait until 3 to see "The Prestige"; I guess I'll have to wait for the DVD instead. So, just had a ramen lunch at the place just under my station. I don't have to worry about inflicting my breath or body odor to a poor student from the garlic broth or getting bloated during sleep.

I sent out mail to The Dancer to see what the clan is up to tomorrow when they return to Tokyo. I've got several hours between The Nurse at Speedy's and The Ace at the juku. I've got a feeling for the kids' sake, we'll be hitting the Coldstone Ice Cream Shop near their apartment hotel in Roppongi.

Speedy came into the room when 001 and I were just about to start our lesson. Both of us knew there was gonna be a spiel, and sure enough, he wanted to get our bodies over to the next little bit of restaurant hopping on the 28th...this time, for summer purposes, it will be a beer garden in Ebisu Garden Place. Speedy used all his charm to draw 001 with promises of much flowing alcohol, and I thought that just maybe she would actually take him up on the offer. However, 002 informed me that she hadn't received any e-mail from 001 about the party so basically she's gonna let it slide. I wasn't planning on going either since I don't go for large parties anymore, and I know that 001 isn't too keen on them either. The final nail in the coffin was 002's statement that she would have to do something rather early on the 29th so she wouldn't be going.

Anyways, that's it for now...
Wednesday July 4, 5:00 p.m.

Happy 4th of July to the Americans! Hopefully, the only fireworks you see later tonight are the officially sanctioned ones instead of the Al Qaeda ones. Interesting...with all of the hoopla in the States and the UK with the Blair-Brown transition, the Glasgow Airport bombing, the Scooter Libby commutation and now with the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnson, it's all too easy to miss some of the local scandals.

For instance, this political season should be called Fall instead of in Fall of Ministers. PM Abe must be hitting the ulcer medicine something hard after his third member of Cabinet decided to fall on his sword...this time, figuratively. Defense Minister Kyuma resigned yesterday after having made the rather major faux pas of telling an audience his personal truth instead of the official or people's truth. He inferred that it had been inevitable that the US would nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Personally, I have no problems with his opinion; perhaps, the A-bomb was needed to finish off WWII once and for all without having to sacrifice even more lives on both American and Japanese sides as had happened for the Battle for Okinawa some weeks earlier. Still, try giving that explanation to all the hibakusha who are still living and who are still suffering over 60 years later.
So, Kyuma joins the late Minister of Agriculture Matsuoka (suicide) and another minister by the name of Sada (scandal) on the scrap heap of disgraced Cabinet members. But the fun hasn't stopped...the new Defense Minister happens to be a former TV Tokyo broadcaster and a woman to boot, Yuriko Koike. Shinzo Abe must be wondering if any more wheels are gonna be falling off before the Upper House elections in a few weeks.

Yesterday was a typical Tuesday in Mister Canuck's Neighbourhood. Met up with The Beehive at Ms. Perth's apartment. As was expected, a lot of the conversation entailed Ms. Travel's latest adventure...this time in the Himalayas. She certainly had a glimpse of a different world: her destination was totally isolated with destitute people and treacherous roads. I almost envisioned her with a dusty fedora on her head, a whip in her hand and a John Williams soundtrack behind her. We also talked about the soon-to-be departing Ms. Perth's new home in Sapporo. It looks like The Class Act may not be the only group of students who I may be conducting large-scale field trips with. With luck, a trip to the Snow Festival in February may be in order.

The latest round of juku classes was interesting. Chip N' Dale were fine, Seven gave me her usual tribute of confections (this time, it was candied potato sticks) and even The Milds gave me an omiyage in the form of baked chocolate cookies from Shimane Prefecture after their weekend up there. In fact, I also did get an ochugen gift from Seven's mother as well...nice to be a teacher at times.
But the classes of note last night were the last two with The Siberian and Jolly. On Canada Day, The Siberian and a fellow student from his university had entered a Chinese-singing contest in Shin-Okubo. The two had been practicing their tune for a few hours 2 or 3 times a week in the local karaoke box with the shocking result that they actually took the top prize in Tokyo. And so in about 6 weeks, they'll be heading over to Beijing to enter the final stage in China's nationwide singing contest. If they take that crown, then they have their song officially stamped onto CDs for national distribution. I cracked that they could become the nation's equivalent of The Carpenters. The Siberian has always had a facility with foreign languages but he's said that trying to sing the Chinese language was quite a throat-shredding affair.
Then, Jolly told me of his culinary adventure when he and his boss had wined n' dined two clients last week at this pricey Akasaka steakhouse called Lowry's. Yes, it's the same Lowry's that takes care of the salt and pepper business. Jolly, not exactly a petit person, tackled a 1.5 kg steak. Even in this era of big eating in Tokyo did I imagine that a steakhouse would serve a hunk of beef that big in this country. His boss and clients looked on with a mixture of awe and perhaps disgust as my student managed to put away 80% of this former cow. He didn't have many regrets about leaving the 20% since it wasn't his yen. Being a settai, the very hefty bill (probably tens of thousands of yen) is now in the hands of Jolly's accounting department. I'm rather surprised that he hadn't heard of the Outback or Tony Roma's so I recommended them although he may be disappointed in the rather "paltry" portions there.

Today is one of this week's light days. I just have 001 as the lone student on my schedule. I got that haircut this morning for the first time in 3 months. My do was getting quite shaggy. And I finished off the last of Season 2 of "Doctor Who" on the video tape. As I was telling my kind benefactor for the tape, The Entrepreneur, the final parting of the ways between The Doctor and Rose Tyler was chock-full of sappy melodrama as the very first companion of the new series sobbed an ocean's worth of brine and gasping her admission of love for him. That sort of thing never happened in the original series. It was always a pretty stoic scene: the Doctor and imminently-to-be-former companion finish off another breathtaking adventure in the TARDIS with the latter stating that it was time for him or her to leave while everyone's favourite Time Lord would wave him or her goodbye and be off into the vortex without any time for any major emotional upheaval. I could imagine a number of the old fans sticking their fingers down their craw in ewwwww disgust when Billie Piper signed off. Still, just loved the exchange of insults between The Daleks and The Cybermen.

Well, 001 should be just around the corner...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday July 2, 7:43 p.m.

Got through with my second lesson with The Full-Timer. She had a bit of a tough time applying the Past Perfect, so I gently led her into the topic of her upcoming trip to Thailand in a few days. She's a veteran of the place so she shouldn't have any major problems...barring any coup d'etats.

Looks like Mr. TOEIC will be showing up as scheduled. Haven't heard any sudden cancellations on the phone.

That gigantic cinnamon roll from The Doughnut Plant should be categorized as a smart bomb. I'd thought it was fairly light going down but I guess absorbent should be the more appropriate adjective. I feel rather bloated right now so that a few small pieces of sushi and some Pringles is all I can take in at this time.
Monday July 2, 5:35 p.m.

Got through my first student with aplomb. It was the oldish young man who's practicing for a fairly vital job interview at a mulitnational pharmaceuticals company. He did quite well, so he's certainly got the ambition. I didn't think either of us would survive a 90 but we managed to get along quite well.

Afterwards, The Admin and I shared a coffee and my apology offering of cinnamon rolls via The Doughnut Plant. The roll is by far the largest one I've ever seen of its kind amongst the various I've come across such as Cinnabons or Starbucks. And like its birthplace, New York, the roll was big, in-your-face, and not too sweet. However, it was also surprisingly light considering its size....must be the baking powder.

The Madame has made contact after a number of months away. Looks like we've got a "date" of sorts in Shibuya on the 20th at some tea room there. I kinda feel like Doctor Who in a way; I've always got these platonic women weaving in and out of my existence all the time. Now, if I can only regenerate into Brad Pitt's body...

Well, I've got the Full-Timer in about 20 minutes. I'm happy that the cinnamon roll will tide me over until I pick up a fast dinner before Mr. TOEIC.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

MOnday July 2, 1:27 p.m.

After that little tantrum I'd pulled on the phone with The Admin on Friday night, it was a more sober me with the apology gift of cinnamon rolls, courtesy of The Doughnut Plant, that I came here today. Luckily, The Admin was gracious enough to not even have to forgive me. The boss seems a little more quieter though.

I've got a fairly compressed Monday. I've got a class in a couple of hours with one of the bossman's students since he's busy with another student. Then, it's my usual nighttime lineup with The Full-Timer and then Mr. TOEIC. Finally, I've got The Judge for a rare Monday lesson since he won't be in on Wednesday. In fact, His Honour has been filling up the schedule board in August like an I-go opening since he'll be on vacation for O-Bon.

However, the rest of the week won't be too bad. Tuesday will have The Beehive and the juku students with that open hole in between. Then, Wednesday and Thursday will be wide open. I've only got two students in as many days for that...001 and 002 respectively. I've already filled Wednesday morning with a haircut appointment and then I hope to see "The Prestige" at the nearby theatre on Thursday after 002's class. Friday will be another early one with The Nurse, though but there may be a chance I might see The Dancer and her family again in the afternoon before I have to teach The Ace and a potential new student later that evening.

Looks like I wasn't the only one who thought that Anderson Cooper's rather unprofessional behaviour doing the post-Paris analysis was deserving of some tomatoes and raspberries. Some writer at "The Washington Post" threw some very juicy fruits at him and Barbara Walters for AC's undignified handling of the case. Though I really didn't like Cooper that night and though he did deserve to be razzed by the panelists, I guess his act was really just the "bad" side of that serious crusading reporter persona he developed during Hurricane Katrina a couple of years ago to rave reviews. So, we gotta take the bad with the good...

Keeping on the media beat, it was with some sadness but no surprise to hear of Joel Siegel's passing. He was looking rather wistfully resigned to his fate the last time I saw him on TV a few months ago. I watched him for years on "Good Morning America" as he good-naturedly raved and ranted about the movies. I'm sure he and Gene Siskel are having a good time now talking about the latest flicks now.

I saw some of the latest "Doctor Who" eps...well, the remaining ones in Season 2. I saw that ep which was pretty much focused on the Doctor watchers: Elton, Ursula, etc. I recalled reading on the one of the fansites some pretty negative reviews of the show, but to be honest, I kinda found it to be rather nicely bittersweet. For every sweet thing that happened to Elton, there was an equal and opposite thing of bitterness. And we got to see a further deepening of Rose's mother's character. Plus, the main villain seemed to be an alien cousin to that Scottish assassin in the Austin Powers series. But I am approaching the end of the Rose era...since the next set of trailers talks of that premonition of her dying in battle. Of course, since I've caught myself up on the series, I know what really happens to her.

Ach...back to work.