Friday, November 09, 2007

Saturday November 10, 1:42 p.m.

A miserable day out there...and it will probably extend itself to a miserable weekend. November is the autumn's February. Past Halloween but nowhere near the jollity of Xmas. A seasonal no-man's land.

BC is here for her first official day of training as a new temporary staffer at Speedy's. Strangely enough, that lousy model lesson actually did turn into a sign-up. No accounting for taste, is there?

After The Manhattanite and The Dentist, I've got a special with The Admin about some sort of English interview she has to undertake with an American official...kinda hush-hush, at least from the bossman.

Y'know you're becoming an old Canuck when you find out Eric Lindros is retiring. I remember when he was the junior wunderkind that all NHL teams were dying to get. And then, the erstwhile Quebec Nordiques claimed him in the draft only to have Lindros spit in their faces. I'm pretty sure that the NHL's newest retiree will still hesitate to go into La Belle Province after all these years.

And y'know you're becoming an old Trekkie when you find out that Winona Ryder has been cast as the new Spock's mother in the upcoming redux of "Star Trek". I just had to laugh at the writeup at where it said that Ryder stole hearts during the 80s; she did some stealing of something else in the 00s. Then, I hear that Bruce Greenwood is gonna be the new Christopher Pike. Ever since "Thirteen Days" when he played JFK, Pike has been getting the soberly stolid leader roles. Pike would be a perfect fit for him.
One of those weird connections is starting to be formed between "Thirteen Days" and "Star Trek". There's the Greenwood casting. Then the actor who'd played RFK in the former movie was given a cutting-room-floor role as the new XO on the Enterprise-E, Commander Martin Maddox, in the alternate ending of the last TNG movie. Didn't see it? That's OK...very few did. It would be a troika if Kevin Costner got cast as Sarek. With all of these Hollywood stars dogpiling on the new Trek movie, I wouldn't be surprised.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Friday November 9, 1:22 p.m.

Yup, can actually say that the last 24 hours haven't been great ones for me. That model lesson didn't work out too well. Before it occurred, Speedy was bouncing off possible times and days that I could teach her since the impression he'd gotten was that she was ready to plonk down her yen. The student was I'd mentioned before, she's a yoga instructor. But as the lesson was going through, I got the impression that things weren't going to what she'd been expecting. And by the time I finished up an hour later, she told me that she would let us know in December since she was "really busy with appointments this month". "Really busy" here means "Don't call us, we'll call you".
Well, I quickly made a beeline straight for the door since I had to go off to teach The Carolinan and BC. Of course, the bossman made a beeline for me and asked about how I did. He could tell pretty quickly from my face that things hadn't gone according to plan. And since I didn't receive any messages on my machine last night informing me of her first class, I gather that the yoga teacher won't be plonking down her yen.
To be honest, I could see where I could've done better on some things but I also thought that there wasn't really big chemistry between us...not to say that I was trying to get a date with her or anything. But I meshed with 001 and 002 just fine during their model lessons, but the yoga instructor just wasn't it.

My lesson with The Carolinan was fine but my session with BC just quickly devolved into another joint commiseration about her life and just some of my little outbursts at Speedy's. Didn't feel good taking her money but at this point, I don't think I can afford to be too ethical considering my financial situation.

Met up with The Anime Duke today since he had to pick up the last of the King's boxes. He was quite taken with the fare at my neighbourhood tonkatsu place. He even remarked that the fare there was probably the best of the deep-fried pork cutlet he's had during his tour of foodie. He's off now to Akiba to meet up with the rest of the Court. As for me, I've just got Jolly tonight (provided that he doesn't is Friday, y'know). Considering yesterday's failed attempt to get a new student, I went over my lesson plan with him with a fine-toothed comb.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thursday November 8, 2:28 p.m.

Another rousing one with 001. However, she'll be away for the next 2 weeks due to other concerns. After that, I raced over to Shinjuku Station by the West gates where The Court of the Anime King was waiting amongst the flowing masses of commuters. The five of us ended up at Tsunahachi, one of a chain of fairly high-end tempura restaurants, several floors above the tracks. And accordingly, it wasn't too cheap though we were able to avoid having to wash dishes and the menu was written in very cursive Japanese. So, the Court left it to me to decipher the kanji and order stuff. Not one of my favourite tasks.
However, I was able to order up some deep-fried goodies such as tendon, the bunch of shrimp and other veggies on rice along with some one-offs such as various kinds of fish, eel and veggies. We knew we were in a pretty high-class establishment when we saw the platter containing four different kinds of salt for the tempura itself. And as expected, the tempura that came out was nice and light and crunchy on the outside, but tender and hot on the inside.
Meanwhile, The Anime Duke regaled us about the Court's travels through Japan all the way from Hokkaido to Okinawa over the last couple of weeks. These guys are definitely foodies. Their main aim was to try the various delicacies. They even went to Kobe to try the famous Kobe beef. They weren't disappointed although their wallets were definitely lighter. I think I heard the price 30,000 yen being quoted. Amongst some of the other goodies they tried were the freshest sea urchin (they were sold on it; I remain unconvinced), Genghis Khan and okonomiyaki (the stuff in Toronto is horrible, they say).
By the end of our 2 hours at Tsunahachi, we'd pretty much come to the level of talking about those vending machines in Kabukicho selling soiled girls' underpants, so it was time to to end our session. However, I gave one of them some suggestions about what kind of R&B J-Pop singers to give a listen to. The Anime Duke still has to make one more round over to my place to pick up the last of the packages for The King tomorrow, and The Chamberlain is asking for one more meeting with him before he takes off next week.

I just have a model lesson in a little over an hour. Could be interesting...she's apparently a yoga instructor. I met her briefly the other day...sounds a bit like The Chipmunk. Then, I gotta rush out to teach The Carolinan and BC. Incidentally, BC will be popping by on Saturday for a prelim training at Speedy's.

The saga playing out for erstwhile NOVA continues to take another turn...this time, maybe for the better. An education company from Nagoya is in talks to take over a fraction of the more successful branches although they won't pay for any lost wages or fees to teachers or students. Which means that the news means bupkiss for most of the lost teachers and students.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wednesday November 7, 4:59 p.m.

Well, the parents of the Younger got back to me and agreed on my offer to resign my position. Didn't take them too long, did it? They asked me to come once more on the 18th...I frankly would rather have them fire me right out...hate goodbyes.

On happier notes, The Beehive was having another grand ol' time reminiscing about their Canada trip yesterday. Looks like the winner was the Madison Manor Hotel in downtown, if any of you young Japanese folk are looking for a place to stay near the University of Toronto and don't mind paying between $120-$150 CDN, look up the old Mad on the Net.
Looks like the 27th will be set aside for a reunion of the Beehive. Mrs. Perth will be coming down from Sapporo while Mrs. Potter will be coming up from Okayama. Most likely, the party will be held at Mrs. Travel's house.
The ladies came to a tentative decision to keep the smaller configuration, considering that they believe that trying to bring anyone into the tightly-knit group could be difficult. It would mean that I would be restricted to just 3 weeks out of the 4 for lessons but I was pretty much that way for several years anyways.
Afterwards, we made our way to the local Parco Department Store by JR Tsudanuma. We ended up having lunch at a bakery/restaurant called Baget on the 6th floor. The chefs whipped up 10 different kinds of breads, rolls and croissants for our all-you-can-eat pleasure when we order the lunch of the day. Pretty good stuff, although the ladies would have preferred the stuff more freshly baked. I didn't mind. The rolls were tasty enough to sop up the gravy from my burger plate. Definitely worth another visit.

My session with 002 was fun as usual. I actually received a gift of some Mandarin Oranges from her via her mother's orange tree. Yep, we are south enough to have those. The juku was shortened by a couple of hours since both The Siberian and Jolly cancelled out. So I just had the kids and Mrs. Mild. Kept the kids happy with a series of games. Although I missed out on the extra 6,400 yen, I was able to hit the hay much earlier. Actually got 7.5 hours of amazing feat on a Wednesday morning when I have to head over to Speedy's to teach The Nurse. Speaking of whom, she was in a much better mood today...this despite giving her next take-home test.

Just before I went back into REM sleep last night, I got a call from The Anime Duke. Looks like he and his clan made it back to Tokyo, and we set up things for dinner tonight after my lesson with 001. The three of them are off to the Tokyo Motor Show in Makuhari Messe so they should be enjoying the new concept cars and campaign girls that go with them. The Duke and I separately contacted The Anime Chamberlain so that he could come by my place and check out that huge box of dollies that The Anime King had ordered so long ago.
And sure enough, at 1 p.m., he showed up at the station and we made a beeline for my place. I was amazed when he took a look at the huge crate and said that he could transport it as part of his check-in luggage. He even lugged most of The King's stuff with him back to the station! Mind you, he gave up a lot in sweat but he said that he had handled far worse. We did have some lunch at the neighbourhood Japanese-style family restaurant. I found out that he's quite the persnickety gourmand. He was trying out the specialties throughout the various areas in Japan from Hokkaido to Kyushu. The Chamberlain has always been rather sardonic and straight-to-the-point, and he didn't hold back on some of his comments about the more mediocre fare he had to engulf. But he did love the sea urchin sushi up in Hokkaido.
I wonder where I'll take the guys tonight in Shinjuku. I know a tonkatsu joint and Foo Foo in the station, but The Chamberlain tells me that the Anime Court is all ramen'ed out, so the latter choice is a no-go, and I'm not sure if the middle of the week is still pretty crowded in the restaurants.

For a while, I was all by my lonesone on my apartment floor. The clan of Filipinos in the one unit and my immediate misanthropic neighbour cleared out within a few days of each other. One has apparently moved into the apartment formerly occupied by the Filipino family but the other unit is still empty according to the green tape on the mailbox and the sheaf of papers hanging off of the door knob. I wouldn't mind if the place stayed empty for the rest of the year.

Well, NOVA President Sahashi has finally wormed out of the woodwork, although it's been via his lawyer. He has come clean on some of the illegalities that he'd perpetrated for years but has remained defiant on other aspects. I did have to laugh when I heard him maintain that his office...which looks like something out of Rich Dictators' Weekly...was merely apportioned to entertain foreign dignataries and show off one of NOVA's projects, Chanoma Ryugaku, the PC-based English lessons. I don't know of too many students' houses which have rooms filled with golden swords and furniture upholstered in rich Corinthian leather. Ricardo Montalban would swoon.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday November 5, 6:00 p.m.

It's been a weekend of some transitions. Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, the official Opposition party, pulled a Shinzo Abe and suddenly decided to resign his position since he couldn't get the DPJ execs' approval to get the party into a grand coalition with the governing Liberal Democratic Party. Ozawa considered that snub a lack of confidence and so he held a late-afternoon press conference yesterday. A bit of a lame reason to resign...kinda like the previous Prime Minister's alibi for his resignation...ironically, Ozawa was the alleged reason for Abe to cry boo hoo.

The other transition is one of my own making. I've decided to give my own resignation to the parents of the Younger, after some thought. Yesterday, the parents and I had a brief chat. They didn't really come and say it and I'm not sure if they intentionally hinted at it, but I could get the feeling that there was writing coming onto that wall. The father, nice guy he is, also expressed some shock and dismay at his daughter's recent English test results. I made the argument that perhaps the Younger just had a bad day...not to save my own skin but just to reassure the folks that their girl wasn't ending up as a delinquent...but the father said that probably wasn't the case. The key point was when they mentioned the idea of having The Younger go to the juku specializing in English. She would get the push she needed. I'm not much of a pusher; again, I've always been reluctant to teach kids for the simple fact that they have to learn, not want to learn. I do well with those adults who are pretty keen and avid about language study.
Well, when the idea of a juku came up, I just thought that having that instruction plus her regular English classes at school and my thing on top of that would frankly be too redundant for her. Plus, she's busy with other stuff as well such as her volleyball, piano and singing practices. That was good enough for me. I sent in the e-mail an hour ago. Frankly after 3 years with the girls, and having the Younger screw up on some basic stuff while the Elder flees, I think it's time to save on that money and time I have to spend on getting all the way to their neck of the woods from Ichikawa.

While losing one long-term client, I may be regaining another one. On Friday night at my own juku, the boss informed me that Seven is indeed coming back...allegedly. In fact, the boss had been planning to visit her at the hospital on Sunday and therefore invited me. However, on Saturday, Seven was released so that rendered the matter moot.

On Saturday, I saw Tully and the Coffeemaker for their semi-regular. The Coffeemaker told me that she'd seen "2001: A Space Odyssey" for the first time. I then asked her if she'd seen it sober, especially for the last 20 minutes. She shook her head for NO and shook her head again since she couldn't really wrap her head around that psychedelic trip. I reassured her that most teetotaling folks couldn't and recommended that she watch the much more mundane sequel "2010: The Year We Made Contact".

After the somewhat awkward conversation between myself and the Younger's parents, I took the subway down to Shiodome on the Oedo Line. I had to grab yet another plaything for my niece since apparently Canada Post has been bogged down with a deluge of packages and therefore, my b-day present for her may now be inhabiting the 9th level of Postage Hell. Whoa betide the sorters and carriers when Xmas Card season starts in earnest in a few weeks. Since it was on the way, I had lunch at my favorite hot dog place, Hansens, in the NTV Plaza. Y'know, sitting outside on a cool but sunny November day while noshing on two franks with fries brought a small respite of contentedness that I hadn't felt in a long time.

I then made my way over to Hakuhinkan, the Tokyo equivalent of FAO Schwarz, and quickly bought a cute little Miffy bag with candy for the niece. Not surprisingly, the Xmas decorations were already up in the store and there were enough headache-inducing kids running around. Ginza was closed off to regular traffic as would be the case on sunny Sundays so I took a little stroll down the main street before heading off home.

Today, The Class Act was off so I started with SIL. However, before my first lesson, I went to Com Pho, the Vietnamese lunchery underneath Maruzen for an early lunch. I guess the Krispy Kreme Multiplier Effect has really expanded. Even though Com Pho was several hundred metres away from Itocia where KK No. 2 is located, the place was already getting crowded even though I got there just shortly after 11. I had the usual Bun Bi, that cold mix of pho, pork strips and veggies in that sour soup.
Went up to Maruzen's 4th floor to pick up the latest METROPOLIS issue and see if there were anything else worth picking up. I did notice that there were some "Doctor Who" novels in the shelves; I guess the good Gallifreyan is making inroads even into this country.
I walked down to Yurakucho from Otemachi. Walked past the ticket booth for that Marunouchi double-decker bus tour. Would be interested in trying that out someday. The fare is just 1,200 yen for adults...pretty good bargain for a pleasant hour's ride around downtown Tokyo. I would've asked The Madame but with the drama from last Thursday, I don't think that's an option anymore. I also went through the main plaza of the Tokyo International Forum where all the food trucks. Another thing I'd like to try, especially since one of the trucks is selling souvlaki. I dropped by BIC Camera to see how much a copy of MS Word would cost....uh, well, I guess I'll see if I can grab a copy of it somewhere. And then I went into Sukibayashi HMV. The latest Yuming album was playing on speakers...a bit strange hearing the old "Blizzard" since I've always considered HMV to be a bit too hip to play some of the cornball stuff.
Got to SIL's neck of the woods 45 minutes early so I ended up cooling my heels in the rooftop game centre of Matsuzakaya in Ueno-Hirokoji. There was mix of mothers, children, retired folk and lunching salaried types in the centre. As for SIL, NOVA didn't pop up in the talk but Ichiro Ozawa's stunt did. We also talked about Frank Nagai, an enka singer who had unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide some years ago, only to end up with the mind of a 6-year-old.

So, I'm here at Speedy's. Those of you who actually have been brave enough to stick through my blog all these years may be sharp enough to realize that I shouldn't be typing this right now. I should be teaching The Full-Timer. Well, The Full-Timer cancelled her lesson today on account that her grandmother is ailing. So, I've only got Mr. TOEIC to wait for. The bossman informed me I've got another model lesson coming up this Thursday with a woman to whom I was briefly introduced a few hours ago. Sounds pretty high....kinda reminds me of The Chipmunk. If everything works out, she'll be my Thursday afternoon regular. Might make up for the loss of income from losing The Younger.

The Anime Chamberlain is back in town apparently. Got a message from him...says that he can come up to the apartment this Wednesday to check on the packages. Well, the only inconvenience for me is that I'm stuck here at Speedy's between The Nurse and 001. Plus, he and The Anime Duke's clan will be headed for The Tokyo Motor Show in Makuhari Messe. So that may leave just Thursday morning. The Duke also hinted at dinner on Wednesday. Well, if it's in Shinjuku, it's doable although it'll have to be after 8:30.

I've also sent word to the folks at home that I probably won't be heading home this Xmas due to the actions of the Canadian dollar and my own dwindling money supply. Too bad but I had a feeling about this for some weeks now.