Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thursday July 12, 8:35 a.m.

I had a rather grotty homecoming last night. After a full day at Speedy's, what did I come home to find in my kitchen? Eight...count'em, eight....small cockroaches making a party hall out of my kitchen and garbage bag. Well, I've always been tolerant of lesser lifeforms...even cockroaches, but 8 is far into the freeloading zone. So, I got my green can of whup-ass and blew them all away. Even so, one of them lasted a good long half-hour before finally heading off to roach heaven. I pretty much depleted my insecticide....the kitchen was fairly dripping of the stuff by the time I got through with the was pretty much an re-enactment of Chernobyl. No living thing will touch my kitchen for the next several hours.

So, it was just a mere 10 hours away and back I am over here. But it'll be a relatively short stay since I've only got Speedy's grandmothers for a bit of chit-chat. After that, I may take in a movie before I see The Carolinan. She may be a bit surprised that BC won't be showing up; perhaps that'll be my in to ask for some advice about her since she and her are somewhere between acquaintances and friends.

I got the call from The Dancer. The clan will be saving Saturday for me for Sunshine City in Ikebukuro. So, it'll definitely be Ice Cream City and perhaps Gyoza City although I'm not sure if the kids would be able to handle the garlic...and of course, there is the aquarium. The timing is good since there may be a typhoon flying in from the south overnight on Sunday. I'm just hoping that the adults won't be swept up by the kids' typhoon again. I was just darn exhausted by the time I finished up with the family last Sunday.
Wednesday July 11, 8:21 p.m.

Finished up with 001 tonight. Not exactly her most proficient lesson since she was stumbling through her Present Perfect like a relative neophyte but we managed to salvage things with a stroll down Memory Lane. Memory Lane is always the go-to hook for speeding or brightening up things with folks over 30...well, even the twenties, since I still have a lot of knowledge for J-Pop and anime in the 90s and actually like them.

I've just got the one student left, The Judge. The nighttime assistant will be leaving halfway through the lesson so I'll be closing down the shop....only to come back less than 10 hours later. Mind you, it'll only be for 2 hours. Still, it's a bit of a drag to make that long haul commute between here and Ichikawa.
Wednesday July 11, 5:45 p.m.

I did omit one thing....I found out from The Admin that that former SDF soldier I'd taught before she headed to her 1-year homestay got "Student of the Month" honours at her school. Good for her....nice to hear that one of my own has done good.
Wednesday July 11, 5:08 p.m.

I guess I'm halfway through my marathon session here at Speedy's. The bossman left less than half an hour ago for his honeymoon. As usual, he was running late, rueing half-jokingly that his wife would be berating him again for tardiness. Not sure where he and his missus will be going but I hope he gets some sleep on the plane; he said he only got 1 hour of shuteye last night. So, along with being thin and married as being on the NOT list, I can probably add CEO as well.

So, it's just The Admin and me right now until 001 shows up. I saved myself some money and added variety to my lunch as Mr. Influence had some leftover lasagna in the fridge and some of that veggie soup. Yup, that stuff will keep me satisfied for the rest of the evening. Found out a bit more about The Admin during a chat over lunch. Apparently, a score ago, she had been studying for several months in San Jose (I gracefully refrained from asking if she knew the way there) before getting involved in a number of projects back here before her current stint as the day staff here.

I've read on TVNewser that Part 2 of the Michael Moore vs. CNN prizefight has been fought with apparently no decision although according to the blog, there was plenty of arguing and yelling which I couldn't really imagine from straight-out-of-GQ-and-the-operating-room Sanjay Gupta. Not sure if Wolf Blitzer, Gupta's tag-team partner, was there this time as a referee. But hopefully, that will mean that we won't have to witness any more nastiness on the cable screens anymore. We've got Lou Dobbs for that....although according to the transcripts, his interview with liberal basher Ann Coulter could've also been a script for a "Murphy Brown" ep. Apparently, both Dobbs and fellow curmudgeon Jack Cafferty are no big fans of Moore's either. I would just love the three of them to be in a room together. I'd think that the teams would be evenly matched...physically, at least.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wednesday July 11, 9:08 p.m.

I saw just a small part of that Michael Moore diatribe/rant/berating/non-interview on "The Situation Room". I can see that during those 10 minutes (from what I read on TVNewser, it was about that long....although for Wolf Blitzer, it probably felt far longer), it truly was a situation room...yes, even more so than the newsroom at CBS after Katie Couric slapped her editor for a word faux pas.
As I said, I only saw about a tenth of the attack before deciding it wasn't worth it anymore and switched over to urbane BBC. I haven't seen too much reaction to the scene so far. There has only been one thumb up for Wolf for parrying and defending the CNN realm. However, as much as Moore didn't do himself any favours by just devouring CNN and every other so-called mainstream media outlet without really defending his stats in "Sicko", I can admire his intent and bravery for tilting the windmills of mainstream anything although I probably will never willingly share an airplane seat with him. He is pretty nigh indestructible....happily taking the lusty round of boos and catcalls at the Republican National Convention in 2004.
And perhaps CNN could use a bit of deflating. Ever since Hurricane Katrina, the epiphany of Anderson Cooper and therefore the catalyst for everyone else in the network, the various folks there seem to have become glib to a nearly snarky degree. Do I really need to see Cooper barely grumbling his distate for Paris Hilton on air or various anchors cheerfully whining about some sort of thing during the "happy talk" sessions between features?

Well, yesterday was a pretty quiet day with just The Beehive and the regular juku classes. Just by luck in the morning just before all of us showed up at her apartment, Mrs. Perth came across an advertisement in the community newspaper about a building which is renting classrooms out. So, hopefully by Fall, we'll have a new permanent home.

My Thursday got a whole lot less demanding, though. Not only did The Manhattanite cancel her lesson for 9:30 that night but BC has also canned her upcoming lesson. The latter student was no real surprise. It'll take a while before she gets out of her funk....if she ever does. However, she did hold out hope that perhaps August will be possible to resume her lessons.

However, today will be one of those spread-out affairs with The Nurse in the morning, 001 in the evening and The Judge to finish up late at night. Then I gotta head back early next morning to take care of Speedy's grandmother students while he's off on his long-awaited honeymoon. At least, once I finish with the ladies in the morning, I can take off and breathe.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday July 9, 6:47 p.m.

Well, I'm ready for Mr. TOEIC and I even got some curricula, some more blogging to get out of my system.

On the weird and wacky front of Japanese pop culture:

For the past week or so, we've been hearing about this tarento, Kenji Haga, who's gotten himself into heaps of trouble for intimidating and perhaps extorting money out of someone by threatening to sic a former pro boxer on him. Not surprisingly, he and the boxer were nabbed, and thus another amorphous TV personality has fallen by the wayside. What a way down for a guy who was one of the very first dancers on Tamori's "Waratte Ii Tomo" noontime variety show all the way back in 1982. Since then, the half-American/half-Japanese beefcake's only other notable achievement was as boyfriend to fellow half-American/half-Japanese actress/tarento Anna Umemiya for several years until their breakup nearly a decade ago. Her father, tough guy actor Tatsuo Umemiya, minced no words when he held a sudden news conference outside of the family home a few days ago. He called Haga kidai no waru or "the worst scum ever". Apparently, during the breakup, Haga allegedly tried to blackmail Anna and family for some copious amounts of yen or he would release some rather juicy details to the tabloids. In any case, Haga and company are now resting comfortably on ice and will probably join comedians Masashi Tashiro (drug use and general lechery) and Gokuraku Tombo's Yamamoto (rape of a minor) in that hellish limbo of being well-known ex-celebs afraid to show their faces.

Then, there is the news that another one of the original Morning Musume is gonna have a musume of her own. Kaori "Johnson" Iida, all of 25, is 10 weeks preggers and will be getting married with the father, a former idol singer-turned-regular salaryman. The news is actually over 2 days old so the forums have already had several pages devoted to the story. Well, y'know when idols no longer dance or sing, they gotta put their energies somewhere... I guess Morning Mago is just around the corner with all of the former MM'ers breeding like tribbles.

Did catch some of that Live Earth on SkyPerfect back on Saturday night. They were going back and forth between Sydney and Tokyo with Sarah Brightman finishing off everything in Shanghai. But just when Wembley was about to present those prog rock-turned-80s pop dinosaurs, Genesis, the signal promptly cut off saying that would be all that would be shown unpaid. Mind you, some wags would probably have said thank you. Linkin Park and slinky Rihanna were the folks shown at Makuhari Messe...didn't see any of the J-Pop acts (perhaps a blessing). Some of the guys on the forums were complaining that their idols such as Ai Otsuka and Rihanna herself got as much response from the audience as if they were singing in front of the Easter Island statues. Well, as one guy sagely put it, despite the structure and the intentions of the concert, the audience there probably wasn't there for them. They were more for the rock rappers of Linkin Park. I think the two types of fans would be like oil and water. That would be more the fault of the organizers for putting such diverse acts so close together.
Now, whether Live Earth actually achieved anything....well, as I'd mentioned before, there were quite a lot of folks including Bob Geldof who stated that Live Earth was a colossal waste of time, and more importantly, carbon footprints and CO2. I can understand....having tens of thousands of dancing (well, perhaps not at Makuhari Messe) young folk can probably lead to a footprint the size of Paul Bunyan himself. But practically speaking, how else can one person bring the issue to a huge audience at one time....sorry, but the concerts are the way to go since everyone likes music. Plus, the issue was indeed brought...between acts, I was inundated by black-&-white ads showing everyone from Josh Lucas to Cameron Diaz giving their tips on how to fight global warming. So, one cannot say that the message was buried underneath the music. And considering that Geldof's legendary Live Aid in 1985 really didn't bring about any major or permanent changes in the famine situation in Africa, I don't think The Boomtown Rats' leader ought to be tsk-tsking too loudly.
Monday July 9, 4:51 p.m.

Now, I know why I'll never willingly have kids. I met up with The Dancer's clan again yesterday for that day-long trip through Tokyo. Actually, we just traipsed through the trendy areas of Harajuku, Omotesando and Shibuya. The day was relatively cool and partially cloudy and sunny...which would work out well for our tempers. Actually, it was more for The Dancer's hubby's temper. The hubby's temper was tested last week at that game centre in Fujisawa when his young son pulled off a nasty temper tantrum. Yesterday, it was at Kiddyland, one of the major toy emporia in the world's biggest cities. Hubby was a bit nervous about what a visit to a toy store could do to a couple of kids....kinda like a ko-gal with a gold VISA card in Shibuya. Well, his fears were partially realized when his son demanded to get the most expensive Pokemon set in the store at the very real risk of creating a scene. Then, it was a number of small incidents at Shakey's Pizza next door which got Hubby's temperature rising, including when said son cried that he needed to go to the washroom just when poppa was finally able to tuck into this pizza.
I'd always thought it would be the opposite situation. The Dancer, whom I've known better than Hubby, was always the type to fly off the handle. I remember distinctly back at university when she got into a huge philosophical argument this side with Lou Dobbs with a Marxist-Leninist at Club Day, whereas Hubby was one of the most even-keeled folks I'd ever met. Yesterday, it was more of the Homer/Marge Simpson dynamic between the two.
After lunch, we all waded through the crowds in Harajuku and made our way into Yoyogi Park. I thought after almost 2 decades, those bizarre rockabilly dancers would have finally excised themselves, but there were still half a dozen men reliving the 50s, complete with leather, pompadours and sunglasses. In fact, we saw quite a few interesting examples of cultural colour in our half-hour trek through the park. There was the elderly fellow singing some sort of enka/minyo fusion just a few metres away from a couple of wannabe actresses hamming it up. Then there were the hip-hoppers with a couple of tap dancers hoofing away a la those guys from the final scene of Beat Takeshi's take on "Zatoichi". Some other guys were practicing flag-twirling while some avid otaku were flashing their cellphone cameras at some maid. There was even a real model getting shots taken by a professional crew. The Dancer remarked that the rockabilly guys were boring in comparison. Of course, the kids were oblivious to the scenes. Finally, at the main fork branching off into the roads into Yoyogi Park and Meiji-Jingu Shrine, there were the various maids and goths getting their pictures taken by the tourists.
We were somehow able to get through the literal sea of humanity on Omotesando Dori although we did make a pit stop at this wedge-shaped sculpture spouting off water which amused the kids no end. Hubby was getting tense again since his buggy for the kids was squeaking something awful although I think it was bothering him far more than anyone else. But we managed to make it to the Children's Palace next to the U.N. University in Aoyama, just across from Aoyama Gakuin University. I'd always heard about this place but never been up there...for obvious reasons. Up on the roof, there was one of those huge jungle gyms with tons of crawlspaces and tunnels as if it had been designed by Escher. The kids naturally loved that, and then we downstairs to the tricycle-riding area. As is true with all tiny siblings, the brother made it his mission to try to ram his sister's vehicle. The sister, like any criminal mastermind, merely sped to the nearest empty trike for escape while bro struggled to maneuver his.
The too-good-to-be-true moment of tranquility was indeed that. When we got to the target pitching quarter, bro and sis got into a little battle which got bro into another crying jag and sis getting severely lectured at by momma which got sis into a "IT'S SO UNFAIR!!" weepie. I just kept myself apart from the family moment and hummed happy thoughts. However, the tension lasted for just a few minutes and by the time we got out at closing time, things were back to normal....for a young family, that is.
All of us trundled down to Shibuya trying to figure out what to have for dinner. The bro was seriously finicky with his fave food...which basically amounted to juice, plain white rice and chicken nuggets. TGIFridays came to mind before Hubby threw another condition which was he wanted to get to a true Japanese establishment. Luckily, thanks to Chip Guy's knowledge of Shibuyan restaurants, I knew about Toriyoshi, the izakaya that specializes in chicken dishes. Of course, we had to go through some more seas of humanity before we got there, no small feat with a giant stroller in tow. But we got there.
The maitre d' there seemed (I could be wrong) a little nonplussed to see us...probably our family status automatically signalled no heavy drinking which meant no big payday. In any case, that would've earned him a chintzy tip back in Toronto. Despite the presence of chicken, the bro was still plenty picky about what he liked. He wouldn't touch the yakitori and he demanded that the chicken wings, the piece de resistance of Toriyoshi, be shredded before eating them. And of course, once the meal was over for the kids, they started getting restless. Luckily, I had my crayons which I usually hold for Chip N' Dale...they took to them and the pieces of paper that The Dancer had like ducks to water. That got us down to some fairly peaceful eating.
On the way back to Shibuya Station, and after several hours of often volatile parenting, there was a bit of a victory of sorts. The son finally held my hand when I offered it to him since walking through Shibuya on a Sunday night was often intimidating for many adults let alone a 4-year-old kid. The little kid was finally warming up to me. And so, I was able to get everyone back in the right direction for home. The Dancer's family is a good one....and I'm happy to say that Hubby, despite his usual mild mannerisms, will brook no funny stuff from either of his children. Still, I was quite exhausted when I finally got home. At least, I'll get a week of recovery before I see the clan one more time before they head on out on the 16th.

Luckily, it's a light day today with only SIL and Mr. TOEIC at bat. The week itself will be a bit busier than last week since Speedy is heading on his long-awaited honeymoon. Basically, Thursday will be somewhat of a commuting elastic band. But with the increased Citizen's Tax payments and the dreaded NHI premiums coming up, any dribble of money stream will be welcomed.