Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday November 16, 8:17 p.m.

Now into my 2,001st entry, and I'm writing in a classroom that is currently empty. Jolly has failed to show up, but he did say last week that he may be able to come. Since he's usually on time when he does show up, I can assume that he will not do so tonight. So, it's just The Ace tonight.

Had my mess of hire (lean) tonkatsu and deep-fried oysters at the tonkatsu place tonight. That will tide me over til breakfast tomorrow quite nicely...of course, the mound of shredded cabbage ought to clean me out in the washroom before bedtime, if you know what I mean.

As I was eating away in the restaurant, the television was showing a live press conference of veteran actress, Yoshiko Mita, tearfully relating the announcement of her 2nd son's arrest due to drug possession...the third time that the 27-year-old has been caught for the same offense. It was interesting watching this since earlier today I'd been watching CNN's Larry King interview the Osmonds. There, Marie Osmond admitted that her 16-year-old son had just been taken into drug rehabilitation. Although Marie kinda misted up on telling this, her reaction was far more matter-of-fact than Mita's. Not to say that Mita was overly emotional at all...the comparison between the two was an interesting one of culture. Since Japanese society is one based on shame, it must've truly been wrenching for her to not only admit her son's crime a first time, but also a second time. And this was a full court press, not the interview type of setting that the Osmonds were in.
And yet, it was weird to see that even the angelic Osmonds weren't without sin.

Well, since Jolly is evidently not gonna show, I'll start thinking of my Santa list for the folks back home. I'll have to keep things pretty light due to my financial circumstances. Luckily, tomorrow will be a full day off...the first time in a couple of weeks that will happen...knock on wood. Maybe I'll be able to catch "The Bourne Supremacy" on DVD before I finally catch the newest flick.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Friday November 16, 4:04 p.m.

Well, 2000th entry...whoop-de-doo! But as always, any auspicious occasion in this blog carries a bit of bittersweetness.

One of the things that I've come to realize being in this profession of English teaching is that unlike a lot of other folks, I have to say goodbye a lot. It's kinda like being Doctor Who. Companions join him and have some frights and adventures for a little while and then they have to leave ultimately. In my case, I have students who do the same thing. In fact, in the last month or so, I've lost a few of them. There was Seven...although she may be coming back. Then, The Judge finished his time with me a few weeks ago. And of course, I've lost The Younger for which I have to face the final class this coming Sunday. And last night, I had to give my sudden farewells to B2, The Ballerina's former colleague and friend at her airline company.

B2 has been having a good run for the past few weeks. She found a new job with an airline company, one of the domestic carriers, for which she'll start 6 weeks of training in December. And she also found a new boyfriend, some fellow from her soon-to-be former company who's more in line with her age (mid-20s), unlike her old flame who was closer to me in age. And then her sister tied the knot just last week. It's been quite a change in outlook since I first met her back in February 2006. She apologized and said that she would try to consult me once training is over but I can't really see how she could do that regularly being a flight attendant again. Basically, I'll take her plea as a polite way of stopping her classes.

But before I drown myself in sorrow, it's important to note that despite the recent departures, I have gained some extra lessons. Mr. TOEIC has started a 2nd class with me, I have another student at Speedy's starting from December, The Yogist, and even The Admin has asked for my semi-regular help...away from the bossman's prying eyes. So as much as I have said goodbye in these past few weeks, I've also said my hellos as well.

However, I found out that my nearest convenience store, just 2 minutes around the corner, will be closing down for good on the 28th. UGH! It did fulfill its role as a convenient store for picking up bento and making photocopies but now I'll have to walk another 5 minutes to the second-nearest place. So, another goodbye there.

And yet another hello. As a new resident in the Facebook universe, I suddenly got a message from a grad from the ol' school. She's an old classmate of The Ballerina and Skippy. But I use "old" to mean former...the lass herself, Smurfette, is still in her early 20s...and a mother for the past four years. Apparently, there was an...ahem...accident between her and her boyfriend one day.

Speaking of Skippy, it looks like my 2nd visit to that celeb's house...the one whose son Skip is teaching...will be on the 25th. I'll be putting on my cap as human tape recorder's something that I have a lot of experience as due to my days as a JET teacher.

In other news, I caught what I think is the last U.S. Democratic Candidates debate in Las Vegas this morning on CNN. Yep, Hillary is back and Barack is back down. And John got slapped down. Should be an interesting Primary season in January.
And there's no joy in Mudville...if Mudville were the entirety of Major League Baseball. Barry Bonds got indicted for perjury for that steroid thing. Amazing...he's the alleged home run king of baseball, and now he's one of the few players to get federal charges against him. Kinda makes the news on our rogue yokozuna here pale in comparison.

Just have the juku guys tonight, Jolly and The Ace. But the boss herself is having a vacation of sorts in Osaka tonight. So her mumbly husband will be downstairs while I teach upstairs. I'll be having tonkatsu before I head off to the juku, though. Last night it was ramen at that local place which is trying to get into the Guinness of World Records for the largest amount of garlic in one bowl of noodles. There was one angry drunk salaryman a few stools away from me who'd obviously had a bad day. He even cursed his cellphone e-mail but otherwise, he kept his dark thoughts to himself. The staff wasn't too concerned so I wasn't.

Also found out that the preparations for the arrival of "The Simpsons - The Movie" are in full throttle. All of the Japanese voice actors are famous local celebs. Bon vivant George Tokoro will be playing Homer while Marge is being played by loudmouthed, Sawajiri-hating, blues-singing legend, Akiko Wada. One half of the comedy duo London Boots will be voicing Bart and tarento darling Becky will be taking care of the Lisa duties.

And I guess, finally, it wouldn't be a 2000th blog entry without talking about the city that spawned the corruption scandal surrounding the rogue architect Aneha. My city...Ichikawa. Actually, it isn't really directly connected with the fallen designer. However, it has to do with a half-built condo complex which was supposed to be the shining light in Ichikawa...only to find out that most of the necessary supporting metal bars to hold the thing together during earthquakes haven't been put in due to some unbelievable oversight. As Homer would say, "D'oh!" Or as Wile E. Coyote would say, "Back to the drawing board."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday November 14, 5:47 p.m.

An uncharacteristically quiet hump day. I only have Mr. TOEIC at 8:30 tonight. 001 is off for the next 2 weeks and The Nurse had her lesson yesterday morning. It was fairly hopping yesterday since there was that grand commute from west of Shinjuku to Funabashi for 002's lesson. Had lunch at KFC near Moto-Yawata Station. I figure that since I'll probably be having the Colonel for Xmas dinner, I might as well get re-acclimated to greasy chicken again. I know I'll never go to a restaurant solo for Xmas since that rather uncomfortable experience at Fujimamas 2 years ago.
I got the OK from the juku boss for those two days off next month...Xmas Day and the 14th for the Lady's annual party. However, she still wants me to make up for Xmas Day since for all the Yuletide hoopla that's invaded these shores for decades, the 25th is still a regular day. I said that the 27th would be long as it was a bonenkai of sorts. I just don't think the span between Xmas and New Year's should be used for work. So, the Milds and The Siberian have been tipped off about it. Now, it's just what to do for such a party. I can hardly be magnanimous and put up the tab for a catered affair...

Despite the late class tonight, I did leave earlier today so that I could visit Maruzen and pick up something for B2. I only see her monthly so I'm not sure what good it'll do, but I bought an advanced reading text for which I'll be copying exercises for her. Plus, I copied down some TOEIC exercises as well. That should keep us hopping for tomorrow.

Speaking of bonenkai, Speedy's already got the place and date set. We're headed for someplace called Fungo in Nishi-Shinjuku. The grandmas have already made their reservations. I asked 001 and 002, but not surprisingly, they declined. 001 has to work overnight that day but I also think neither of them are really into the big parties...just like me. They prefer the more intimate ones like the ones that 002 has bimonthly.

I guess one more entry will put me into the 2,000s...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tuesday November 13, 9:48 a.m.

A rare Tuesday appearance at Speedy's as The Nurse had decided to take her regular Wednesday morning lesson today due to the rigours of her schedule....which means that I'll be doing another crosstown commute to teach 002. However, I'll keep it within Chiba this time around since I'm just heading to the juku afterwards. I've just asked the boss if I could get the 14th and 25th of December off; the 14th is for the annual Xmas party at The Lady's, and of course, the 25th is for tradition only. I'm fairly confident that I can get both off although Xmas Day may be a bit problematic since the boss doesn't like to let go of a Tuesday easily for accounting purposes. Plus, there is the fact that by coincidence, Xmas Eve will actually be a national holiday since it will be compensating as The Emperor's Birthday on the 23rd. It should be a pretty busy weekend for parties.

Mr. TOEIC definitely showed how weak he is in grammar. I proofread his letter to his homestay family in Toronto. I don't think I used quite that much red ink on a single piece of writing in many a year. Glad that he's opted for a second class a week to devote solely on grammar. Still, it will be a long haul since he seems to have the retentive ability of an old sieve.
Monday November 12, 5:52 p.m.

Looks like the party season is starting up again. Speedy's setting up the school's year-ender pretty quick off the mark by dating it on December 1st at some Shinjuku eatery called Fungo; it's some French/Italian fusion thing. And today, The Lady gave the first sign for her annual Xmas shindig. It'll be about 2 weeks later. I've already sent word to Speedy (who was just frothing at the mouth the last time he was at the house) and Skippy (who was merely starstruck). I may even ask The Sisters of State and BC as well.

Yesterday, I ended up having just Tully for his regular lesson without his mate, The Coffeemaker, which was a bit of a switch. Usually, the latter had been the faithful one but this time around, the lass just tuckered herself out from work. It was a good session, though. He really enjoyed studying about the different ways to create interest in the beginning of a presentation. Hopefully, I'll have the duo again in a couple of weeks.

After Tully, I headed over to Shinjuku for lunch. The Maynds Building is a culinary godsend for those who would like to avoid the horrors of having to find any sort of table at a restaurant on a Sunday in the area. As long as one isn't too fussy about the quality, you could get Subway or a quick Chinese dish. I opted for the latter at my favourite eatery in the neighbourhood. For just 900 yen, I got myself an admittedly greasy dish of pork and veggies with unlimited amounts of rice, condiments and dumplings in uncrowded surroundings.
Of course, Krispy Kreme 1 had its perpetual line of 1h40min waiting. I just headed into Takashimaya Times Square. I saw that the latest volume in the epic "Complete Peanuts" series was there but I'm gonna hold off until closer to Xmas. I was actually there to see if I could find something useful for B2's lessons. She needs some work on TOEIC Reading and higher grammar. I did find a book for the latter but won't buy it until Wednesdays. As for the former, I'll probably grab something from one of the texts here at Speedy's. Since Xmas is relatively around the corner, Times Square was already filled with the decorations and the 2008 calendars were filling up the 3rd floor.

I took the Sobu Line to Akihabara where I was to meet The Anime Chamberlain at 3. I got there about a half-hour early so I did an early recce. As usual, the maids were at the Electric Town gates handing out flyers for their respective cafes. Despite the gloomy weather, the main street was closed off so the otaku masses were out there. I went to Akky, a so-called duty-free place, to pick up a bottle of cologne for 1,500 yen. All of the fare there smelled the same to me.
The Chamberlain showed up as expected and we took a look through the main streets for the usual performers and their otaku fans. Sure enough, there were the usual throngs of camera-holding, grubby jacket-wearing males surrounding diminuitive girls in sailor uniforms with high-pitched voices and tunelss singing. The Chamberlain pulled out his camera and vidcam and started rolling.
However, the really interesting performer was located at the northern end of the hokoten, usually dead space in terms of prancing and dancing. The two of us came across this really kooky girl (woman?) dressed up like a 1960s scooter babe...replete in sky blue one-piece dress, white go-go boots and helmet. She was just cooing and slinking about in a Betsy Boop voice some sort of gibberish and managing to stun/charm the gradually increasing audience around her. She was demanding people to dance with her...and actually managed to get a few saps to twirl. She even got a foreigner to banter with her and then when she found out that the lad could speak Japanese pretty fluently, she mockingly admonished him for not telling her sooner. Of course, The Anime Chamberlain got all this on tape and will get me a copy. I think TV is beckoning her.
The two of us then went through the side streets where The Chamberlain was looking through some equipment such as LED flashlights. There were some scruffy folks on the side selling some rather risque photos...such as young girls dressed up in gym outfits...don't the cops patrol these areas? We got back onto the main drag where we saw some nutbar dressed up in not all that much just nattering to himself. I also decided to show my companion up to the 5th floor of the Don Quixote building where the world's most famous Maid Cafe was...The At Home Cafe. There wasn't any performance that time but there was a pretty long lineup for the cafe itself. The distinguishing thing though, compared to the time that I'd taken The Satyr up there, was that the cafe was now populated by women along with the usual otaku guys. Looks like At Home has gone legit and touristy. We didn't bother going in.
It was back to the station via the bridge connecting the UDX Building with the large plaza at the back end of JR Akihabara. We were thinking about food but decided that we weren't quite that hungry yet so we took a look inside the building across from the station. We went to the 2nd floor where Sale, the foreign import DVD shop, was. We also went upstairs to K-Books; this was definitely a deep otaku's paradise. Tons of anime characters. There were collector cards with some of the female characters in.....well, I don't think I really should say here. Let's say, some of the stuff should be rated R-18. Frankly, I felt pretty dirty when I left.
We took a quick dip into Gamers, another popular otaku hangout, before we finally took the plunge and went to Yodobashi Akiba, that mammoth electronics store which has taken over the eastern end of Akihabara and went straight up to the 8th floor where the restaurants were. It took us a while but we finally opted for The Kanda Grill, a restaurant which featured teppan hamburg steaks and other grilled goods. The Anime King gallantly told me that I could use the money that he'd sent me for shipping (it was no longer really needed since his Court was taking home this year's goodies) as dinner fare. The Chamberlain ordered a mess of hamburg and deep-fried shrimp while I opted for kari kari toriniku...crispy really wasn't crispy since it was slathered in gravy but I wasn't complaining. We even had some dessert on The King's coin.
By the time we got out, Akihabara was starting to close down for the night. Stores had shuttered up, and of course, the main street had been opened up for main traffic a few hours earlier. Had to admit that yesterday's foray into Akiba was one of the more interesting dips there.

It would've been another regular Monday except that I got a breathless call from The Full-Timer this morning asking to cancel another lesson. Last week, it was to visit her ailing grandmother. Today, it was to say that her grandma had passed away. So I had The Class Act and then SIL. SIL's always fun to gab with since she's more hep into the local entertainment scene than The Class Act. We were gabbing about the good and bad of the notorious actress, Erika Sawajiri.
Now, I'm just whiling away the time until Mr. TOEIC gets here in about 2 hours. I've already got everything planned. Mr. TOEIC has actually decided to expand his time to two nights a week. So, he'll be following 001. Only thing is that 001 will be gone for the next 2 weeks so Mr. TOEIC will be the only class on Wednesday. Nice guy, but to come all the way here for one lesson late at night...
Yup, actually, The Nurse will be having her early class tomorrow instead of her usual Wednesday. She was very lucky since The Beehive usually has the slot but is off tomorrow. Then, it'll be off to 002 at the other end of town before the juku. Lucky thing is that Jolly said that he couldn't make it out tomorrow night so I can head home at a somewhat more decent time.

"The Bourne Ultimatum" finally reared its head on this side of the Pacific on Saturday. The reviewer for METROPOLIS magazine, who is one of the more snarkier folks I've read, was just about fawning over Matt Damon's magnum opus as perhaps the best action movie ever. Considering the existence of "Die Hard", that's pretty high praise indeed. I've started reviewing the series by watching "The Bourne Identity" on DVD this past weekend. I'll see if I can catch "The Bourne Supremacy" sometime this week. I'm pretty sure that MB will be asking me about it sometime soon.