Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sunday October 14, 2:55 p.m.

Managed to survive Saturday intact. The Dentist and The Manhattanite were in fine fettle. Just spent dinner at McDonalds before hitting home and catching "Odoru Dai Sosasen--Rainbow Bridge wo Fusaseyo!", otherwise known as "Bayside Shakedown 2" elsewhere. Fuji-TV, being the originating network for the successful series of TV eps, specials and movies was more than happy to harp the fact that it's been a decade since the series first aired. So, the series has been airing in reruns for the past several days in the afternoon, the two movies have aired over the past couple of nights, and then next Friday and Saturday, the sequel movies based on two of the supporting characters will also get their TV debut.
Much was made throughout the original series about how the Bayside Precinct was this do-nothing station out in the middle of nowhere in Odaiba, the development by Tokyo Bay. And at that time, that was was basically hectares of reclaimed land surrounding a few buildings such as the Fuji-TV studios, a Meccano-like structure. I remember walking there way back in 1995 when it was even more desolate...there was absolutely nothing. Now, it's one of the bustling places-to-be for the young folk in Tokyo. And "Bayside Shakedown 2" reflected how much things have changed.
Speaking of the series, I have often surprised some of the students when I speak of one of the actresses in the Bayside series, the lovely Eri Fukatsu. Everyone assumes she was always an actress, and even Wikipedia says just that. However, she started out as a fresh-faced aidoru singer in the late 80s...and I finally found the proof, thanks to YouTube. Some fellow uploaded an old video of hers performing live at some shopping mall. So, that pretty much means that almost all of the main cast have put out some sort of music.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Saturday October 13, 2:46 p.m.

Some of the more interesting things hitting The Big Sushi in the last 24 hours:

I seem to be pretty lucky these days when it comes to commuting mishaps. Yesterday, I was indeed lucky enough to not have needed to go into Tokyo. The reason being that at 600 stations throughout the metropolis, all of the computerized ticket gates decided to stop functioning. Apparently, it caused quite a bit of chaos for the commuters despite the fact that between the hours of 6 and 10 a.m., the folks could go the gates free of charge. The cause of the problem was some sort of computer glitch between the gates and the sole server controlling them. Sole server? Talk about asking for it. And the big thing is that it wasn't just JR but some of the other private companies such as Tokyo Metro and the Keisei Lines.

Then there was the boxing match which turned into a K-1/wrestling hybrid, involving one of the Kameda boys...the family of flamboyantly cocky, trash-talking Osakan boxers who would make Muhammad Ali in his prime swoon. The youngest, Daiki, had his big match against the defending champion...a downright bookworm compared to the Kamedas who had to endure the bombast from an older Kameda brother during the press conference. Well, things went downhill from there in the match when Daiki suffered some sort of psychotic episode during the 12th round and just proceeded to hug and maul the guy onto the mat. It was a foregone conclusion that the champ kept his belt and Daiki suffered the indignities of being booed by his own fans (well, most of them...there were a few gyaru who were resolutely behind him in an interview only to be shouted down by some fans of the champ) and now he has a faces some pretty stiff penalties for unprofessional conduct. Not everyday you see a Kameda getting a black eye, physically or otherwise. Daiki boasted at the conference that he would commit seppuku if he lost...well, he won't need to now.

The latest shopping mall opened up behind Yurakucho Mullion yesterday. Called Itocia (where they get these names, I'll never know), it's basically a new Marui Department Store surrounded by all sorts of eateries, including the 2nd Krispy Kreme outlet in Japan (the other major cities in the country must be wondering if Tokyo is the only city allowed to have supersweet donuts). Not surprisingly, the new KK had a 3-hour wait. And I guess the effect was to have another huge lineup form outside KK 1 in Shinjuku as I passed by it today. So much for finally getting a chance to get into the place at last. There was an article in yesterday's Asahi Shimbun about the opening of KK 2, stating that it was the latest arrival of the popular US chain. I have to correct them on ain't anything in's all about Japanese popularity.

As for little ol' me, I just had The Coffeemaker for her lesson. Tully pulled another disappearing act. And now I've got The Dentist and The Manhattanite coming up.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Friday October 12, 11:40 a.m.

Did forget to mention during my talk with Mom that we spoke on the issue of New Year's cards this year. Since my grandfather had passed away earlier in May, according to Japanese custom, I am forbidden to send out any nengajo and I'm not supposed to receive any. My mother pressed the point home that I must not get any of the cards...I guess there must be some bad luck involved. So I have to send out official notices to all those folks that I had received cards from last year. Usually the traditional way is to send out a special postcard informing them via kanji of the sad obituary notice, if you will. I will have to do that for some of the folks, but for most of them I've just sent them an e-mail just now. Mother gave her blessing and it certainly saves me the wear and tear of my arm, plus several hundred yen.

On a totally different note, Jamie Foxx, doing his part for his latest movie, "The Kingdom", dropped by Fuji-TV studios to do his promotion. He had his cellphone, which he used to take pictures of the giddy hosts. I'm sure he also got the usual questions of what he thought of Japan and if he liked Japanese women...yadda, yadda, yadda. I'll just ya-da.
Friday October 12, 11:12 a.m.

Well, it looks like Speedy will be getting that house visit from BC and her friend who helps run some sort of English-language school out in Vancouver next Wednesday. In fact, Speedy and her friend have actually crossed paths before since they've both been in the industry for a while. So, it'll be a case of a reunion...will make things go much more smoothly.
As for BC, I was afraid she was gonna start going into another depressive funk last night, but she managed to keep the brine in. However, I was surprised that she was the first person to acknowledge my upcoming B-day with a card. I guess we must've talked about our common Libran heritage.

Spoke with Mom this morning since I thought she was trying to contact me all this week. It turns out that she wasn't, but it was a good chance for her to inform me that she'd already sent my present a couple of days ago...probably clothes as usual. She doesn't know if my b-day gift of a Doraemon doll to my niece has gotten through yet. Mom, as she usually does, flew off the handle a bit when I gave her the heads-up about Mrs. Tee having a gift for her via Mrs. Tulip. Probably part of the reason that she emigrated to Canada all those years ago was so that she could escape all that gift-giving nonsense that is entrenched in Japanese society. I calmed her down within a few minutes but was reminded that I've also developed a similar hair-trigger temper in the last few years. The parentals are pretty private folks...they tend to shun large gatherings like the plague...again another trait I've inherited over the years since I now get away from those things, so don't particularly expect me to ever attend school reunions. My father also isn't the most polished speaker in the world which gives further impetus for him to avoid meeting new people.
I've also hinted to her that I may not be heading back to The Great White North due to the rotten exchange rates right now. She didn't seem too nonplussed.

As for the rest of the day, I'm gonna see about polishing off the rest of that herb butter via some more homemade Chicken Kiev later this afternoon. The juku boss contacted me to say that Jolly will be coming in tonight. Good...more money.

In my latest foray into YouTube, I came across this old 80s video by this unit called Wax called "Bridge to Your Heart". Man, what a whacked-out video. The animation just about tops the video for "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel. There should be a warning about watching it in a dark room lest it cause seizures in children. The song itself is pretty fun as well...very 80s with heavy synths. As far as I know, it never really hit the big times but that's not too surprising since it doesn't really sound all that novel, especially when compared to the stuff that was coming out at the time; in fact, I think there are some echoes of "Tarzan Boy" in it. However, with all the hip-hop, rap and metal out today, "Bridge to Your Heart" has a nice nostalgic touch.
In the comments for the video, one poster asked where the "Questionnaire" video by Chaz Jankel went off to. I'd like to know the answer to that one myself.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday October 11, 2:38 p.m.

Came out of the longest workday of the year not too badly. I had The Nurse in the morning yesterday, then it was The New Yorker a few hours afterward, followed by 001, Mr. TOEIC and The Judge in quick succession. As for The Judge, Speedy told me that his last class before a possible renewal is coming up in a couple of weeks and so the two of them had a short powwow before my lesson. The Judge told him about how busy his schedule is...which set off yellow alerts in my mind. When that word "busy" starts getting uttered by students, that usually means "not coming back here"...since I'm a glass-is-half-empty type of guy.

Luckily, I had the morning off so I could be a bit more leisurely today. So instead of last week's healthy tofu lunch with The Madame at Ume no Hana, I ended up at a Chinese buffet just across the street in the INZ plaza in Yurakucho. For 1,880 yen I could indulge myself in all the noodles and deep-fried things I wanted...and I did. I think I can pretty much survive for the rest of the day on just coffee.

Just three classes today...I'm wrapping up that phone intensive with that woman here today, and then it's The Carolinan and BC. I've printed out an article on the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau to feed BC's Canuck-o-phile imagination. Ol' PET makes the flamboyant Junichiro Koizumi look like a wallflower with some of his own antics. I don't think even Lionhead would dare do a pirouette behind the Emperor...that's what the Canadian PM did behind Queen Elizabeth's back.

I see that Lou Dobbs is back with a vengeance. His tonsillitis did nothing to damage those vocal cords of his. When I saw him back on Monday, he just mauled the Democratic panelist Zimmerman (as he usually does) like a Dobermann on a stuffed toy and called Senator Harry Reid a moron. That probably brought a lot of standing O's in the living rooms of CNN viewers.

Anyways, I'm back at work. The student should be coming in any minute now.
Wednesday October 10, 5:44 p.m.

Man, this has been the busiest day I've had in years. I have 5...count 'em...5 lessons here at Speedy's today and in that scrum I had The New Yorker for her latest. The day started out a bit crankily today, though, as the bossman once again failed to inform me that his usual morning student wasn't coming out so I had to wait 40 minutes outside the school door before The Admin came to open up. But once that little trial was decided upon, I got down to town with The Nurse before rushing out to Ichigaya to teach The New Yorker. Then it was back here to take care of a new student for 1 lesson of a 4-lesson Intensive. Now, it'll be back to the regulars of 001, Mr. TOEIC and The Judge.

On the other hand, yesterday was fairly quiet with just 002 and then the usual juku folks. Actually, Jolly dotakyaned again yesterday so I could get home at a decent hour for some sleep before today's behemoth of a schedule. However, I found out that The Milds' son may be interested (or being pushed) in for some lessons. The model lesson was supposed to have been last night but it looks like he'll be too busy for the rest of this month.

And on the holiday Monday, I went to that koto concert with the juku boss' troupe in Kayabacho. It was actually not that bad...I was kinda thinking that I would snore through another exhibition of Japanese traditional art like I did a few years ago at the National Theatre when I had the "privilege" of watching kabuki with Arwen. Instead, the 2.5-hour performance actually kept my eyes open...although I did let my mind wander at times...and there was even a highlight during a rendition of the whole orchestra of koto and shamisen of "The Grass of Autumn". The boss was decked out in a kimono as were the other performers, all of whom were wearing kimono of very individual design. However, I heard last night from the boss that one of the performers who had been very lax in her practice got a tongue-lashing from the teacher and was told only to play "air koto"...basically just pretend to play so that her rusty sounds wouldn't ruin the other's performances. OUCH!

I had to run out in the last half of the concert so that I could meet Skippy for that dinner near Tokyo Station. I met her in front of Nihombashi's Takashimaya Department Store at about 7. She informed me that the gyoza shop that she was supposed to have taken me to was closed on holidays so instead we walked over to the Tokiya Building near the Maru Building for some good ol' Osakan okonomiyaki. The restaurant was in the basement and when we finally got in, the atmosphere was very Kansai. A lot of loud voices from the staff and very friendly, too. Plus, the main dish and yakisoba had a very distinctive flavour in comparison to the Kanto variety. Skippy always manages to find the gourmet gems. We ended up having some coffee inside one of those trendoid cafes right by Maru Biru. We even had a quick look inside Shin Maru Biru and rather gawked at the prices for Godiva Chocolate Parfaits.

Looks like things are getting into place for that next little restaurant hopping trip with The Sisters of State and BC. Skippy (maybe) will be taking us to that Mo-Yan curry/manga shop on the 21st.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Monday October 8, 12:42 p.m.

Well, it's yet another holiday Monday here in Japan...this time, it's Sports Day. However, the weather is far from suitable for sports. Pretty gloomy and rainy right now. And pretty gloomy for the sumo world. Yep, that brutal sumo stablemaster, Tokitsukaze, has attained in infamy what no one else has in 2,000 years of the sport...he's been banished by unanimous decision. The coverage of the guy reached Watergate proportions with media scrums surrounding the fallen oyakata and the stable itself. No idea what's gonna happen with it and the sumo rikishi inside.

My weekend was pretty good, though. I had a couple of classes at Speedy's on Saturday. I saw The Manhattanite for the first time in a while. She gave me back the CD I'd loaned her weeks ago and she lent me a CD in return...somebody called RAD, a funk princess of some sort. The Dentist was her usual giggly self. She said she would be helping out in a friend's restaurant up in the resort area of Karuizawa today...she would actually be waiting tables. I bet her smile would be worth a lot more than the ones sold at McDonalds.

On Sunday, I just had The Younger. Apparently she'd had her Sports Day event at her school in which she and a fellow competitor had a major crash and rollover during the 100-m dash. She only suffered a couple of scratches. Later on that evening, I met up The Wild Thing...and finally, his wife, The Enigma...the lady of my friend's dreams...and frankly a woman whom most people had thought was just a dream in his head since she was very reticent to be seen.
Actually, she was a pretty nice lady...kinda reminds me of Mrs. Egg. She even gave me yet another present in thanks for putting her new hubby up in my apartment for several days. It was a box of cookies from the Takarazuka acting troupe's gift shop. Yep, that Takarazuka...the one known for the all-female troupe whose plays are all variations on "The Rose of Versailles" theme. She's quite the fan, apparently.
Interesting dinner...the three of us went to an Indian place called Masala near Shinjuku Station only to see a ton of people inside. The maitre d' put us at ease by telling us that there was a smaller branch that had just opened at the northern end of Kabukicho. He even took us to the street, hailed a cab, and even paid the 660 yen. Now that's service. It was a 5-minute ride (there was a bit of traffic) and we got off across from the smaller...and empty branch. The staff inside came out to greet us and we had our dinner of curry and naan. We were basically the first and last customers there for the night. There were a few groups which came in, including one with one of those punch-permed, loudmouthed yahoos who may/may not be yakuza-connected. I mentally wished him fingerless and went on with my meal. Having been the first to actually meet the missus at last, I am dying to post that fact to the rest of the gang but I'll leave that to The Wild Thing. The Enigma has definitely had a mellowing influence on him...he only got close to sermonizing just twice that whole night.

Well, today, it was just lesson planning and some cleaning. In a couple of hours, I head off to that koto concert in Kayabacho and then it's dinner with Skippy. Wednesday should be a barnburner of a lesson schedule. I've got no less than 5 lessons there that day...the most I've ever had there since I started with Speedy over 2 years ago, and I even have to squeeze The New Yorker between The Nurse and this new student.

Saw a new music video by techno/pop outfit M-Flo this morning on MTV Japan. I like the song "Lotta Love" (definitely not to be mistaken for the old 70s song by Neil Young) but the imagery kinda creeps me out a bit as well since they've got a whole bunch of elementary school children decked out in nightclub clothing and gyrating to the music.