Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday December 25, 2:33 p.m.

Well, it's been quite an interesting week for me since I officially went on Xmas hiatus. The plane ride was actually rather uneventful, and I think the stopover in Vancouver was better for me than a direct non-stop since it gave me a chance to stretch my legs and look at something other than the personal screen for 13 hours straight. The only downside was having to wait over half an hour at both VCR and YYZ for my suitcase to pop out of the carousel.

Meterologically, Toronto hasn't let me down. It has been a showcase of all kinds of weather...the climactic version of "A Night of a Hundred Stars". First off, we've had two or three snowstorms blast through T.O. but today is a balmy 6 degrees C and Saturday promises to be a blistering 11 C. All this after going through the first few days of -15 C weather.

My social calendar has been OK although the first five days were spent virtually at home or in the immediate neighbourhood. Actually, I had my first outing with friends a couple of nights ago with some of my old classmates from university. We were supposed to have met on Friday night, but the first storm left those plans in tatters. And that other night wasn't exactly the greatest night either. Ironically, the guy who planned it all, Ol' Sam, ended up taking 3 hours to get from his place to The Keg since traffic was tied up from the snow. Still, he and his wife made it to see me, The Engineer and his new wife, and some of the others for dinner. Our waitress was almost annoyingly perky...still, I gave a generous tip. The Engineer remarked that a lot of these food service professionals are trying for thespian careers.

Yesterday on Xmas Eve, I pulled off a double by meeting The Entrepreneur for lunch at The Mongolian Grill near Don Mills, and then braving the horrible slush downtown and meeting up with Shard in his renovated house. Muddy slush is one thing I will never miss being in Japan.

Back on Monday, I met up with my old student, Mrs Tulip, at Hospital for Sick Children. Her elder daughter has been hospitalized for about a couple of months, but hopefully, she'll finally be discharged tomorrow. I am hoping for good news there. I'd never been in the world-famous I was rather impressed to see that one wing looked like the atrium of a huge hotel. Beforehand, I had walked through the deserted environs of U of T since it was on official holiday. Ended up having lunch at Swiss Chalet, one of my must-dos whenever I get back into Toronto. I wasn't disappointed although I waited for over half an hour to get a table. The special sauce is one of the most hotly debated topics anywhere. The university always seems to gain some new sparkly building. There was another one at the north end of the St. George campus which looked like Kal-El's crystal ship.

Today, it was the usual thing of getting up early and then being whisked off by my brother to the morning church service. His family has started going to another bigger church with more developed facilities. The main sanctuary looked like the bridge of the Enterprise with its own wide viewscreen at the front. There was a little play performed on stage about the reason behind guy did act like Shatner.

Every time I get back home, I usually fall into the habit of catching one particular show on the telly. Last time, it was "CSI: Miami" but this time around, I've been catching a lot of "Robot Chicken" and "Family Guy". Would love to grab those DVD sets.

The other strange theme I've been encountering this trip has been one of life and death. Since I got back here, I've been encountering new and upcoming births and the pitter-patter of little feet. Ol' Sam's wife is expecting, Chip Guy has just gotten a second daughter and of course, my niece is just running and gabbing around. But to counter that, I found out from The Bohemian that his grandmother had just passed away...which adds a third person to be excluded on the don't send list for nengajo. Unfortunately, he didn't send me the news until two days after I'd already sent out the cards. But the somewhat surprising news was a celeb death on Xmas Eve back in Japan. Ai Iijima, the hardcore porn actress-turned-TV personality, was found dead in her apartment yesterday. I found out the news yesterday morning during breakfast; my jaw hit the table momentarily. But then again, I shouldn't have been surprised...she'd retired from show biz less than 2 years ago under some mysterious circumstances with the rumours of serious disease and depression swirling around her. It's definitely a very sad end, though. Iijima was one-of-a-kind for show biz....anywhere on the planet. Porn actresses have ended up breaking into other genres or completely different industries (such as that woman in Italy who ran for its parliament) but they still built their new fame on top of their old one. Ai Iijima was also well known for her original career and it did help her get into the more mainstream one. However, she's the only ex-porn star I know who was able to make the full transition into regular tarento without ever needing to use her former status as a crutch....unless it was to make a point, which she did several years ago with her book, "Platonic Sex" which was made into a movie and a 2-part TV special. Although I have no doubt that most people beyond their teens knew about her more sordid past, they saw Ms. Iijima as just that regular talking head on the tube...bantering about food and throwing insults at the comedians. As I said, a very sad end to a woman who had a tough but interesting life.

Speaking of colourful personalities, I finally did get a chance to take a close look at cooking's enfant terrible, Gordon Ramsay, on The Food Network, the other day. I knew about his reputation as a profanity-spewing, chef-destroying force of nature and figured him to be a vainglorious bully opportunist. However, after having caught an episode of "Restaurant Nightmares", I've changed my mind on him slightly. He was called in to save an Italian restaurant from the mismanagement of its young and arrogant chef-owner. What I saw wasn't an ogre breaking down a chef into little bits just for some psychopathic fun but a version of a military drill instructor showing a raw recruit a bit of tough love...breaking him down of his ingrained bad habits before building him back up into a better chef-businessman. It was interesting to watch; Ramsay showed up on a local interview show last night as well...he came off as being quite personable although with some very straight answers.

Anyways, just got off the phone with X. Looks like everything is coming into place for Saturday's get-together at Yonge-Eglinton. Tomorrow will be a day with The Anime King and his Court. And in a few hours, it'll be Xmas dinner with the whole family.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wednesday December 17, 3:21 p.m.

Well, had that dinner at Gen Nakamura. Not a person's name but the name of a restaurant in Ebisu. It's actually a reconverted apartment, and by the looks of the interior, it must've been a pretty large apartment. It did look like a true restaurant inside. The Carolinan made the call on this one and she picked well; the fare was a bit more different from the usual run-of-the-mill izakaya. The main dish was a hot pot for which the broth was 100% collagen...a woman's best friend in Japan. It looked rather groady since it looked like pale yellow blocks of wobbly stuff and it didn't have much of a taste but when it melted during the cooking and we put in the chunks of chicken and veggies, it made for a satisfying meal.

Some of the old folks from the ol' school were there: SR, The Jazz Singer, and of course, California Girl with her hubby and buddies. The Jazz Singer just got engaged last week so she was fairly glowing...even without the collagen. Both she and SR were asking about my services once again, but not sure if I can even fit them into the schedule.

And it looks like Ol' Sam has been getting the old gang together for dinner on Friday night. Looks like City Hall will be the meeting place.
Tuesday December 16, 6:11 p.m.

It's been a busy last few days. I've had to prep stuff for Speedy since he'll be spelling me for the next couple of lessons for Swank...and prepping for Swank is always a bit of an epic. Finally got the shopping out of the way. Bought two more books for the parentals and got stuff for The Anime King and his court. Binged at the Akiba kaiten sushi place at the top of Yodobashi Camera and sacrificed over 3,000 yen; worth every little silver yen.

Officially, I'm on holiday but I'm here at Speedys, having taken the past several hours to write up the stuff on Swank. Ray and The Trekkie are having a mock debate on the significance of Santa Claus. The Trekkie was gobsmacked when she found out that Kris' abode is in my country. I naturally pointed out the fact that his clothes are indeed red-and-white.

On Sunday, I did take Tully and The Coffeemaker for brunch at Fujimamas. It was one of the rainiest and coldest days that I'd experienced all year as I explored Kiddyland for a few minutes while waiting for the two. The third floor is now devoted to Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. As for Fujimamas, there was no sign of that snooty waitress who had the temerity to snort at my single status when I'd arrived at the place for Xmas dinner some years back. I once again had The Plate, the dish of just about every breakfast item available. It used to be served on big long platter but now apparently too many customers probably complained about the syrup getting into all of the savory stuff like the sausages so now the hotcakes come on a separate dish. Tully and The Coffeemaker enjoyed the fare there. I even got a present in the form of a Swiss Army Knife from them.

Later in the evening, after some running around for Xmas, I met up with Movie Buddy and The Satyr plus their significant others, The Sylph and Miss Ivory, and Skippy in front of Picadilly in Shinjuku. Unfortunately, Skippy had to skip out to a prior engagement so it was a very brief round of greetings between her and me. The rest of us ended up having dinner at Foo Foo for the usual pai ko tan tan men. Even with the walk up from Omotesando to Shinjuku, I hadn't completely walked off all those calories from the brunch, so it was a bit of a slog to get through the huge bowl of ramen at Foo Foo. Still, I had enough room in the ol' belly for dessert at a place in Lumine.

Yesterday was my last official day of work for the year. It was a full slate of The Class Act, SIL, The Full-Timer and Medicine Man. Even The Businesswoman managed to squeeze in an hour in a rare Monday appearance. The Full-Timer had just come back from France after her first trip there. She definitely had a good time. Her theme was also food-based; she showed me a rash of the dishes she and her colleagues had noshed on there. She was also pleasantly surprised that the French in Paris were not at all rude and snooty.

In about 20 or so minutes, I'll be heading out to Ebisu to meet up with California Girl and her hubby, SR and The Carolinan for a reunion of sorts at some apartment-converted restaurant near the station. Can't really stay too long since I'm gonna be pretty busy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Saturday December 13, 12:34 p.m.

Well, got through the guys. Mr. TOEIC and I basically noshed on favourite foods. We exchanged ramen and burger tales. I gave him my point card for the amazing Foo Foo. TOEIC remarked that the burgers at MosBurger, arguably producers of the best burgers of all the fast food chains in Tokyo, have shrunk due to the oil shock of '08. The Intellectual and I spoke on more esoteric fare such as the increasing numbers of elderly and how to take care of them.

I was talking with Marcie about this year's crop of nengajo or New Year's Cards. I wasn't quite sure when I should send them Every year at this time, there is an official date set when it's OK to send the cards out so that they get to people's homes on January 1. Marcie reassured me that probably Monday will be OK. If it had been much later, I would've had to give them to Speedy or someone to send out and I would much rather face 001 in a chug-a-lug contest than do that since my calligraphy is just horrible. Any resemblance between my kanji and that of a Grade 1 student is purely coincidental. And I just can't seem to keep the letters in a straight line. The recipients of my nengajo must wonder if my printing has a bad case of scoliosis. Well, at least they should get a nice laugh out of it.

Just munched down too much lunch again. I had to share my dessert with Marcie. Next up are three ladies.
Saturday December 13, 9:21 a.m.

Coming across some entertainment stuff of the sad, surprising and not-so-surprising variety. As for the sad part, I just read that actor Van Johnson passed away today. Even as a child, I remembered his name for some reason...I think he popped up a lot in guest roles on TV shows and commercials. But of course, he was the wishy-washy Lt. Maryk on "The Caine Mutiny". Never won an Oscar or got nominated for one.

Of the surprising variety, I also read that Hugh "Wolverine" Jackman is gonna host the next Oscar Awards. I can just imagine Jon Stewart and David Letterman having a field day with this one.

And then, there is the news that the revamped "The Day The Earth Stood Still" has been getting bad reviews. No, not all that surprising, although the casting of Keanu Reeves as Klaatu was pitch-perfect.
Saturday December 13, 8:45 a.m.

Once again typing early at Speedy's. Got another 5 here: Mr. TOEIC, The Intellectual, The Businesswoman, The Publicity Agent and The Bostonian. Plus, I gotta get stuff prepared for the bossman's go with Swank. It's gonna be another busy. Luckily, I was able to get an hour of lunch into the schedule between The Intellectual and The Businesswoman.

Did get to see those old Number Painter sketches with young Paul Benedict and Stockard Channing. (for your information, try the numbers 4 and 5) Yup, pretty fetching...Stockard, I mean. I also came across her audition tape on Youtube for Christopher Reeve's "Superman".

Had to decline MB's offer of catching "Tropic Thunder" tomorrow. It was a bit of a tossup since I had a couple of hours between the brunch and the movie outing, but I'm gonna be doing a lot of crosstown commuting to get the remaining stuff for home so I just said it'll be dinner. And I did want to see how Akihabara was looking these days. I read something to the effect that the Sunday hokoten was back after a few months of reflection following the killing spree there in June. Tourism apparently plummeted there since the authorities pulled the weekly event.

In another possible sign that PM Aso's is going through the Reader's Digest version of George Bush's "success" in office, his own coalition ignored a direct order concerning his intention of increasing the consumption tax rate within 3 years. And his approval rating is about the same as Bush's...20-25%. I may have to pick up that Aso manju the time I get back from vacation, it'll be replaced by the latest confection for the next flunky to become Prime Minister.

Read an article in today's "Japan Times" about the word "o-mae" which is one of the ways to express "you" in Japanese. The instruction manual on this word states that this "you" is supposed to be used between sempai and kohai or folks who have a very close relationship with each other...spouses, family and the like. However, it's become rather clear and very belatedly that the targets of o-mae greatly resent being addressed like that. I can vouch for that. Even if I know the person very well, I would feel stung if I got called that way. Perhaps it's because as a child, my parents used the term when they weren't too thrilled about something I did or didn't do. And so, o-mae is a word that I wouldn't mind seeing expunged from the Japanese lexicon. Plenty of nicer ways to use the 2nd-person singular. Of course, the crusty older generation who can read English would probably be chewing this article and spitting it out like chewing tobacco, and railing very loudly about the further oversensitization of the current generation.
Friday December 12, 10:00 p.m.

Finished my last lesson at the juku for the year. The Restauranteur was alternately bashful and cheerful...good combination. We both hope for the boss' safe return. I remarked that it was pretty quiet up here.

Had Misia playing on the stereo before The Restauranteur came over. It'd been a while since I played her. I may have to take one more listen before I go. Can't believe it's been a decade since she hit the airwaves. But then again, the same can be said about Hikaru Utada. Frankly, both have seen better days professionally.

Time to go...still, miles to go before I sleep.
Friday December 12, 9:04 p.m.

Well, will wonders never cease. Even at my advanced age, I can still pick up an eye-opening piece of trivia. Yes, it's been a very quiet night...Mild Jr. never showed up so I've been pretty much alone with Toonces (who did get back in) for the past 3 hours. Was able to get some of my nengajo (New Year's cards) written up in bad kanji and got the lesson ready for The Restauranteur. A neighbour came in about an hour ago to take care of some household chores for my hospitalized boss.

As for the trivia, I was tooting about Wikipedia just to keep myself occupied when I came across the fact that it was a young Stockard Channing (aka Rizzo of the movie version of "Grease" and First Lady Abby Bartlett on "The West Wing", both characters who could hardly be called wallflowers) who played the cute and mute doe-eyed woman on those Number Painter skits on "Sesame Street" all those years ago. And the Number Painter himself was played by Paul Benedict, who would find further TV fame as the somewhat bizarre Mr. Bentley, neighbour to The Jeffersons. And I also found out that the man had just passed away less than 2 weeks ago...and that he wasn't even British but a native New Mexican. I remember those old Number Painter sketches (whoops!) with the ragtime piano theme and ol' NP painting single digits on stuff such as sandwich bread and bald heads. I went straight to YouTube but with the condition that the juku computer is in, Internet Explorer just kept giving up the ghost whenever I tried to start the video. Well, guess I'll be taking a quick look when I get in to Speedy's tomorrow morning.

I'm not sure if it's because my ol' Canadian persona of being a culinary vacuum cleaner is coming back before I head home, but recently I've been getting some major cases of the late-night munchies...which I should definitely not be doing at my age. However, I've just been feeling that dinner hasn't been all that soul-satisfying. Then again, I haven't had any lunch for the past couple of days so that might be causing these stomach grumbles. Tonight, I went over to KFC...the set was OK (Mariya Takeuchi's annual Xmas theme song for the franchise was playing in the background) but again I'm feeling that I could pick up a little something on the way home tonight. Last night, I ended up getting an instant shio yakisoba pack to munch on...and this was just an hour before I hit bed. I had a slight case of the bloat when I got up at the obscene hour of 5 this morning but not as bad as I used to remember them. Not sure what I'll get tonight...maybe it'll be another instant noodle pack or just some kaki-P (spicy rice crackers and peanuts). I also have to remind myself that I need to pick up the new scheduler for 2009 since students have already been starting to fill up my January slate.

The Matron has sent over another package to me. I checked the undelivered notice and it said that it doesn't seem to be food...her usual parcel. That would be good since I can't really eat her usual stuff within the time I have left before departure. I just hope that it isn't a request for me to bring something back to the parentals.
Friday December 12, 6:39 p.m.

Got through the latest double with Swank. She did well with the Reading stuff; glad that was what she wanted to do...I was pretty thin on the other stuff. Tried some of my homemade exercises on Ray and Marcie; they made it up to Eiken 2. According to Speedy, the gap from Eiken 2 to Eiken 1 is about as wide as the Grand Canyon. I think I rather depressed Ray after she couldn't hack too many of the questions. In any case, that'll be the last time I'll see her for this year since she doesn't come on Mondays and that'll be my last day.

I was able to get back home with my pressed and cleaned sweaters plus a box of cheap sneakers that I'd bought at the neighbourhood store for the measly price of 1,900 yen. Yep, they could melt in the heavily salted streets of Toronto, but I only need them for the Holidays. And I managed to get a bit of dinner in before getting over here. Once more, the place is empty. Even Toonces is out there somewhere. I am assuming that Mild Jr. will be showing up in about 15 minutes since I haven't received any cancellation call. Then, it'll be another 90 minutes of downtime before The Restauranteur shows up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friday December 12, 1:11 p.m.

Just waiting for Swank to show up. I've got as much done as I could. Hope it all holds together. Had The Smile and that model student from Nov. 21 who got converted into an official student. She reminds me of a slightly older and shyer version of Skippy. Not sure what I'll tag her as...perhaps Miss Cute. In any case, she did quite well although she looked rather tired by the end.

I was also able to get material done up for The Restauranteur tonight for what will be the final lesson at the juku this year. The Ace will be gone for a bonenkai tonight. I'm assuming that Mild Jr. will be showing up earlier in the evening. However, between Swank and the juku classes, I gotta pick up my cleaning and buy some cheap sneakers for the trip home. I certainly can't wear my loafers in the snow and salt of Toronto.
Friday December 12, 7:38 a.m.

Ugh....I really gotta do something about these lousy early wake-up lessons. I mean I like the Smile and all, but...

Tried to smash in as much information as possible for Swank's lesson today but still gotta putter around a bit for her, plus I got that new student in between her and The Smile. This may not be a good day.

The Lens got back to say that most likely Saturday night will be a wash. I'm not too put out since I'm probably gonna be too busy getting stuff done myself.

Well, gotta get ready....just hope I don't end up stressing myself out of a trip.
Thursday December 11, 7:32 p.m.

Well, it's been another long day. Strangely coincidental as well...on Tuesday, I ended up being the guy to open up and close down the juku with the boss being in hospital. And today, I opened up the school here at Speedy's and will most likely be the one to close up here as well unless Speedy gets back in within the next 10-15 minutes. Ray couldn't wait up for me to finish with The Carolinan (I always end up spending extra minutes with students unless there's a lesson immediately following...can't help it, I'm intellectually curious), so she left me. Mind you, the bossman will return sometime tonight.

Didn't have time even to grab a quick lunch from the conbini since I had to take care of the stuff for Swank tomorrow. In fact, the lady did come in to pick up the text. Had to do a bit of the verbal softshoe since she was asking so many questions about Eiken/TOEFL with me. I'm kinda glad that it'll be my last one with her before I take off but Speedy still expects me to make enough material to last him for the next couple of lessons. I can try... However, I found an ace in the hole by using some of the taped stuff from The Smile's textbook. I don't really want to spend a whole lot of time tonight making up questions since I've got an especially early departure tomorrow morning. Plus, I gotta make up material for The Restauranteur's half-hour tomorrow night. Don't even know if Mild Jr. is swinging by.

As for the other lessons today, Grandma FON took up the slack that Grandma Dynamite left in her wake. And Miss Sedona spent a good chunk of the lesson doing the after-action report of the bonenkai last Saturday. Miss Pronunciation was doing pretty well...things seem to be settling in nicely for her.

Well, just about to take off. I'm fairly famished but it looks like I may end up grabbing something from McDs due to time constraints. Shouldn't but don't really have a choice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thursday December 11, 11:26 a.m.

Man, that was a drag and a half. It wasn't a great day for Grandma Dynamite. She was pretty much Grandma Wet Fuse today. She has those days from time to time; Speedy sometimes warns me that she's not up to speed. This was one of those days. I even had to roll out the family photos to keep her attention. Still, we finished about 10 minutes early since it was no use beating the dead horse that was this lesson.

At least, I have a bit more to hold onto with Grandma FON who should be here any minute.
Thursday December 11, 9:51 a.m.

Another one in the series of late nights and early mornings. I was able to get Mr. TOEIC to shave his class from a double to a single on Saturday morning, but I'll still need to leave the apartment at around 7:15...ugh! And I've got The Smile tomorrow morning for her usual early lesson at 8:15, but at least I'll finish with The Carolinan tonight at 7, so there's a good chance that I'll get some reasonable dose of shuteye tonight despite the early call.

On the walk from McDs to the school, I was suddenly greeted by a guy. At first, I thought I was being accosted by a Mormon asking whether I could attend a prayer meeting, but it turned out to be The Pessimist. Remember him? The one who finally begged off the lessons citing major depression several months ago. Well, he had a rather large smile on his face when he greeted me. It was just an exchange of greetings before we set off on our respective work-related paths. I just asked him if he was OK...and he just nodded. Not sure what to read but I just hope he's gotten over his funk.

Last night, I had my triumvirate of Wednesday women. 001 was just coming off of a cold; she actually had to miss her workplace's bonenkai, which irked her no end. Anytime she misses out on consuming mass quantities doesn't sit well with her. As for The Diver, my homemade review went pretty well; I hope the take-home test will be similarly as successful. In any case, I won't know until I get back from Canada next month. And The Fashion Designer was in fine fettle as usual.

I did my usual warm-up act with The Patent Attorney before Speedy took over this morning. We were talking about the lagging economy and the fact that SONY threw 16,000 people out of work yesterday. I'd remarked that while in past economic downturns Tokyo seemed to put itself out of harm's way while the rest of the country hit the doldrums, it now looked like even the capital may also experience the tough times.

Still kinda working the kinks out with the preparations for Swank's next lesson for her Eiken 1 test. I've been looking at some interviews on and some traffic reports from the States to help out in the Listening section. There are some potential gems in there but I'll have to do some on-the-fly monitoring.
Wednesday December 10, 5:04 p.m.

It's been a quiet couple of hours here with just the staff and myself in the office. Speedy has been out teaching The Singer. I think she's supposed to be heading out Stateside for those several weeks of English conversation training. I went off to see The New Yorker out in Ichigaya. I was going to have lunch at that somewhat pricey Japanese deli right by the station, but even at 1:30, the place was chock full of people, so I ended up going to the King Of Curry (that's the actual translation) and had a mess of Keema Curry. Filled me up just nicely although I have that faint whiff which may get some questions from my nighttime students.

The New Yorker was a bit more on the ball with the lesson today. She also showed me some of her pics from Okinawa. She seems to have the artist's hands and eyes. There was a picture of a clay statue of an Okinawan lion (shiiza) that she'd actually made. Couldn't distinguish it from a professional's creation.

The mail from Canada keeps coming in about my return to The Great White North. The Engineer has gotten married with that young lady she'd introduced me to a couple of years back in that Chinese restaurant which provided some unintended entertainment in the form of a gang fight between two punks. The Engineer and his wife promised me that they'll be taking me to a far more sedate place which has Surf n' Turf...I wonder if they mean The Keg? So far, that's the first officially scheduled night out. The Entrepreneur and his wife have invited me over to their place on New Year's Day for a potluck, but Jan. 1 is strictly a stay-at-home with the family so I'll decline politely.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Wednesday December 10, 10:41 a.m.

We'll be "broiling" at 18 C today. Go figure on this weather. Meanwhile, Toronto has been freeze-dried then snowed upon. Should be quite a transition. The social calendar continues to fill up back home. I may once again need a vacation to recover from my vacation.

There's been a bit of a respite injected into my so-called Mother of All Hump Days tomorrow. Mr. Pronunciation has canned his lesson smack dab in the middle of the log jam and put it off until the New Year...thanks for the Xmas gift. Of course, The Trekkie had a couple of errors in there. Still gonna be busy.

After The Nurse today, I'm heading out to teach The New Yorker over in our old haunt of Ichigaya. Just don't wanna use this school as a crutch although Speedy himself will deny that.

Looks like corruption in Illinois is as deep as Chicago pizza. The governor there has been arrested for some rather sleazy politics. I think most of the citizenry is just yawning.
Tuesday December 9, 9:26 p.m.

I've finished my final Tuesday of the year at the juku. Not quite the same way without the boss nattering away with some student or in the far rarer case of chewing him/her out. Toonces is back inside after drying himself out on some of the futon inside the closet. I just hope that water was the only thing he has left there. He's very dry now.

The Milds were very kind in taking care of my place during my absence. I gave them my package of Yoku Moku Cigares as an advance thank-you gift. Of course, there was the usual token give-and-take about it, but they accepted it. Mr. Mild actually pinpointed my apartment, thanks to Google Earth and was even able to get a photograph of the side of my building...which is a bit disturbing to find out.

Well, I'm ready to head home although it's gonna be through a mess of rain. Looks like the weather folk have got a lot to answer for again, since this stuff was supposed to be restricted to the late afternoon hours. I'm gonna have to put The Beehive's gifts deep into my bag.

It'll be a fairly usual Wednesday tomorrow. I've got The Nurse to start things off...thankfully, she's asked for a 11 a.m. slot which means that I don't have to wake up with the rooster. Then, I'm heading out to see The New Yorker in Ichigaya (I just don't want to use Speedy as the default place all the time) and then I'm coming back for the usual nighttime trio of 001, The Diver and then The Fashion Designer. I'm sure the latter two will want to talk about the bonenkai from last Saturday.
Tuesday December 9, 7:52 p.m.

Got finished with Suzanne and The Artist just now. Looks like Suzanne is getting that wanderlust; most likely, she'll be heading outside Japan sometime in the next year or so. Can't imagine her sticking around the juku for that much longer. She's thinking about spreading her wings and I'm all for that. Referred her to "What Color is Your Parachute?" to help her gauge her capabilities.
Tuesday December 9, 5:22 p.m.

Currently at the juku with Anita Baker's Xmas CD playing on the old stereo. A bit jazzy, a bit R&B, all Anita. I think she is indeed the reincarnation of Sarah Vaughan. The New Orlean jazz treatment of "Frosty The Snowman" will probably be a tune that will have to grow on me, but so far, the album is going pretty well otherwise. Toonces The Cat has been in and out. He'll probably come back when he's thoroughly drenched. Don't know where the towels are for him.

Made the call to Fujimamas to make the reservation only to have the waiter refresh my memory that they don't take reservations for under 6 people. I just sent word out to Tully about the change in venue, so hopefully he and The Coffeemaker will be OK with meeting at Kiddyland.

The rains did come while I was in the I-cafe, and continued on while I made my way over to the juku. Unfortunately, my thank-you gift for The Milds got mildly wet but not too much damage.

I've got the sniffles right now and I've developed a bit of a rash on my hand, both probably due to some allergic reaction from Toonces (happens now and then), so gonna be taking the meds. At least, I'm better than Mild Jr., who just blanches at the sight of a cat due to his somewhat stronger allergic reaction.

I couldn't a candy cane for Suzanne but settled for some cute pieces of Xmas cake from the local supermarket. Don't think I'll be getting any dinner tonight since I engorged on some rather cholesterol-rich fare today.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tuesday December 9, 1:07 p.m.

Supposed to be raining right now, but the sun's still out. Had my final lesson with The Beehive this morning. When I got into the Tsudanuma Becker's, my ears were assaulted by the cackling of several soccer moms taking up a whole side of the second floor. I was worried that our little own kaffeeklatsch was finally going to be usurped after over a year, but not too long after Mrs. Travel arrived, the group quickly parted like The Red Sea. Mrs Jade and Mrs. Alp came in and I took in their gifts for Mrs. Tulip back in Canada, throwing a little something for Mom. The gifts won't take too much room in my carry-on, I hope. I splurged a bit this time at the Becker's...opting for a gravy-laden poutine with my tea. I guess it wasn't a good idea that I decided to go for The Double Quarter Pounder set at McD's for lunch. My arteries are probably gonna end up looking like downtown Tokyo at 6.

Found out that my destination for that thank-you brunch for Tully and The Coffeemaker on Sunday, Beacon's, is gonna be kashikiri...i.e. the entire restaurant has been rented out...probably by a pesky bunch of wedding folk. Ah,'s gonna be Fujimamas then. At least, it'll be closer to the JR for Tully to get to his part-time job in Shinjuku quickly and it'll be a bit cheaper for me since I'm picking up the tab. Still sting a bit from that rather rude waitress from a few years back on Xmas Eve but I'll give it another try. Plus, The Lady had told me one class that some sort of marketplace has opened up in the area, which strikes me a bit strange since this is fancy-schmancy Omotesando we're talking about with all of its Jimmy Choos and Hermes and other boutiques. Anyways, I'll make the call tonight.

Got a message from Speedy about Mr. TOEIC asking for one of his doubles on Saturday morning. Well, I've got The Intellectual right at 11 and since I've got a stack of classes right after him, I'm assuming that TOEIC will be asking for bright and early in the morning. Well, I'll give him a single but no more than that...bad enough I'm coming in from crosstown twice this week for early classes but not on a weekend.

Should be a quiet night at the juku since the boss is now in hospital. It'll just be Suzanne, The Artist and The Milds. I've brought some Xmas CDs for a bit of atmosphere and hopefully, I can get some sort of Xmas candy for everyone.
Monday December 8, 9:02 p.m.

In the midst of all that coffee talk over the best restaurants in Tokyo, The Lady did give a pretty funny story about the father of a friend of hers. The father, an elderly fellow in his 70s, accidentally bumped into a few fellows somewhere. The fellows happened to be key members of the Waseda University rugby team, and apparently they took extreme umbrage at the old guy invading their personal space and decided to make an example of him. My immediate thought was that any person in their 20s who would even think of beating up on an old man for a slight bump should be in extreme need of anger management, but I digress. In any case, just when the three were going to show the old man a very up-close-and-personal look at their physical skills, the old man showed them some of his own...he happened to be a 6-dan karate expert a couple of decades back, and much to the rugby players' regret, he still was. Several bruised ribs, broken teeth, and a round of applause from the adoring crowd later, both parties were at the local police box where a university official pleaded with the head officer to release the players. Under the circumstances, the police let both the embarrassed players and the Yoda go. I believe the Waseda team did win their match the next day, although without the assistance of the three idiots who dared take on a Jedi warrior. Showed them some manners, he did.

Meanwhile, MB signed in to see if I were available to watch "Tropic Thunder" on Sunday. I had to give one of my rare apologies and decline since I have to wrap up some shopping. But I did say that I was available for the after-action dinner. Looks like I may not be able to see Skippy before this year is up since she said she could make it for the movie but then has to head out to a concert afterwards.

Looks like my social calendar is taking shape in Canada. I've got my old university buddies talking to me about dinner, the Anime King and his otaku for another round for Chinese dinner or dim sum, and people like The Entrepreneur and The Egg asking me as well. My sister-in-law has officially asked me about the annual service on Xmas Day.
Monday December 8, 5:05 p.m.

Feeling a bit off-guard right now. I thought I was gonna be swamped with stuff to do with attempting another translation for Cozy, figuring out Swank's next lesson plan and then the fact that The Lens is coming to town. Well, Cozy has cancelled the assignment though he expressed his worries about the juku boss' upcoming operation on her cancer, my plans for Swank may involve stuff that I can't really do about until the day of, and I got The Lens' arrival time all wrong. He's in town now, but no chance of me getting to see him for lunch since all of the students here want a piece of me before I head off for Canada. I threw him a line for Saturday night for dinner, but if he were available he would have told me that fact already. So, I'm actually quite a bit freer right now.

My week is gonna be rather busy, though. Thursday will be another in the series of Mother of All Hump Days. I'm looking at 6 hours' worth then, and I'm only lucky that The Smile decided to move her lesson to Friday morning that I may not end up with an aneurysm on Thursday night.

Today may be the only really slow day this week. I just had The Class Act and SIL. The Full-Timer is still on vacation in France, so it's a few hours before Medicine Man comes in. The Lady gave me a bottle of Italy's best extra virgin olive oil to give to my parents, but frankly speaking, I don't think Mom is that much of an Italian cuisine freak and since the bottle isn't exactly light, I may decide to just use it for my own purposes. Nope, not exactly kosher but the flight home is already aggravating enough. The Matron was all decked out in her kimono for reasons that I'm still not sure about. Basically, the 2nd-last lesson of the year for them was them going all bonkers for various restaurants. It turned out that they'll try and get some sort of lunch thing with me included going at Quintessence, that French restaurant in tony Shiroganedai, for sometime in February (this place is one of those places which needs those 3-month-in-advance reservation calls).

Beforehand, I did drop by Tower's and picked up this year's Xmas album in the form of Anita Baker's CD. Might as well.

SIL's lesson was partially stand-up act with my dislike of flying being the topic du jour. Of course, we once again went down memory lane with our favourite American TV show of the 60s. Did mention the fact that CBS, although ironically called The Tiffany Network back then, was far more famous as The Farm Network with its string of countryside comedies such as "The Beverly Hillbillies", "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Petticoat Junction".

Back at Speedy's. The bonenkai on Saturday worked out well. It was at Nakamura, that celeb-owned izakaya. The course was worth 5,500 yen (but as a bonus, Speedy told me to hold onto my money) and included the 2-hour all-you-can-drink option and a chicken hot pot. On the staff side, the bossman and I were there along with Ray and AK. A lot of my students came out as well including The Diver, The Intellectual and Miss Sedona. I was initially worried about The Diver since she's such a Nervous Nellie. When I saw her take the farthest spot at the end of the table, away from the bunch in the middle, a Social Yellow Alert sounded. So I quickly made my way out to the end and engaged her in conversation. Luckily, The Intellectual sat by me and then my semi-regular student, The Germanic Nurse, sat by The Diver. The Intellectual is also a diver and since The Diver and The Germanic Nurse share careers, the conversational cross-pollination did the trick. Actually, Speedy and I were a bit worried about the Grandmas...they just seemed to be in their own little world. Grandma Fado looked somewhat mute and withdrawn, but then again, she was like that last year. I gather that she's not really all that communicative in group settings. However, I tried my best and engaged them in conversation.

I found out at the party that the part-time teacher who comes out on Mondays is a full-on sci-fi freak of the highest level. The Geek, as she herself calls herself, is a jovial young lady whose birthday was right on party night, so of course, the bossman led the requisite chorus of "Happy Birthday!". I had the best conversation of the night with her talking about Trek and Who. I'd also found out earlier that she's been a longtime anime otaku. This lady is a convention organizer's wet dream. And to think that she and The Trekkie have yet to meet. The friend that she'd brought to dinner even had a passing resemblance to Billie Piper, aka Rose Tyler.

Meanwhile, Miss Honolulu was going full bore on the 2-hour all-you-can-drink rider and regaling her newfound friends like The Fashion Designer and Miss Sedona with lots of stories. She was definitely the tipsiest out of the students there and was more than happy to lead the folks to the second party. I opted out politely. I don't think I can really do more than an after-dinner coffee and dessert.

Sunday was a walk in the park. Got to stay totally at home...or at least in the neighbourhood. Just did some shopping and then drew up the map for The Milds to get to my place when they act as guardians. I bought a pack of Yoku Moku Cigare Cookies as an advance thank you gift for them. I even got started on my New Year's cards.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday December 6, 6:26 p.m.

Managed to run the gauntlet of lessons today. The Manhattanite was unfortunately rather rusty since she was away for 3 months...not sure if she's gonna improve any with that sort of track record. The Publicity Agent and Mr. Pronunciation were fine. And The Bostonian is chatting it up with Ray for the first time. Glad that I finished with The Bostonian...was feeling rather lacking in energy after Mr. Pronunciation.

So, in pretty short order, we'll all be heading over for our year-end party and a good mess of tori nabe...chicken hot pot. Nice for this sort of weather.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Saturday December 6, 12:22 p.m.

First decent day in about a few. I've been getting messages from The Lens, The Egg and Ol' Sam about Xmas get-togethers. Looks like my social calendar is filling up even before I set foot back in The Great White North.

Marcie is in the house, so things should be up and running in little more than half an hour. The Manhattanite should be in for her first lesson in several months.
Friday December 5, 10:11 p.m.

It turned out to be the final lesson for The Ace since next Friday will be his annual bonenkai. I had a feeling that that would be the case. So I said my goodbyes to him. He talked about a couple of tourist attractions in his native Hiroshima. One was the local castle known as Rijo, literally "Carp Castle" since the moat is apparently teeming with them. I think I know why the baseball team there is now named the way it is. The other, of course, is far more famous as the A-Bomb Dome. I found out that pre-August 6, 1945, it used to be the Central Post Office.

The Restauranteur was half-rarin' to go and half fetal position as we took up the challenging topic of learning cooking techniques. I always have to use kid gloves with her since if it's too much over her head, she may just crumple up into herself and just skitter away, never to come back. After losing Miss Disney and Seven the same way, I'm starting to learn.

The rain has stopped. I'm hoping that my way back will be less moist. I guess, in a way, tonight was the last regular night of the year. From tomorrow, I and my world will enter Holiday Mode.
Friday December 5, 7:57 p.m.

Boy, George! What have you got yourself into now? I just read this Breaking News blurb on (y'know...and last week, the Breaking News was all about the Mumbai attacks...I guess CNN is back on the Paris Hilton beat.) that the old lead singer from Culture Club has been convicted of imprisoning a male escort. I would've thought that being forced to pick up litter in orange prison coveralls on the hostile streets of New York City would've been enough to make anyone go straight....oops, sorry about the innuendo there.

I got word from The Lens that he and his wife are coming over to The Big Sushi yet again for a few days. It'll be tight...I can probably only see him for lunch just a day before I head on back to Canada.

Thinking about getting a little something for The Milds as advance thanks for keeping an eye on my apartment while I'm gone. Since The Full-Timer will be off in France all next week, I'll have several hours to get some more shopping done once I'm finished with SIL on Monday.
Friday December 5, 7:29 p.m.

Well, I see I passed the 2,700-entry mark. May hit the big 3,000 by mid-Spring.

The juku boss had been gabbing happily downstairs with a friend of hers on the phone. Ironically, it was about her impending hospitalization and operation. She's probably the only person I know who actually seems to enjoy the seriousness of her situation. In fact, she's just told me that she'll be running out to her brother-in-law's son's house a few minutes away to clear up some things about her coming month. I sent out the e-mail to Cozy about the boss' situation. I'm sure he'll be properly shocked and call her right away.

Since Mild Jr. has cancelled, I've got another 90 minutes of nothing before The Ace and The Restauranteur come. The Restauranteur already knows but The Ace doesn't. I don't think I'll tell him since he's not really a friend or relative of the boss', and hopefully, I won't need to to unless things go south.

The rains seem to have stopped for now. Hopefully, they'll stay that way.

I was listening to an old J-Pop CD of mine from a couple of decades back by Akiko Kobayashi. She had her 15 minutes in the sun back in the mid-80s with her one true hit, "FAll in Love", a ballad that was the theme of a trendy drama. She released several more discs over the years...didn't really hit the charts again but still kept her loyal fans happy with her AOR pop. The one thing I'd always marveled at was how much she sounded like a Japanese Karen observation that was finally echoed just a few months ago when I checked out some of her videos on YouTube and saw the comments. The CD I listened to was the consequence of all that, "City of Angels", which was produced by Richard Carpenter. I even got to ask the lady herself a question about that on her homepage a few years back; she actually answered it and said, yes, Richard was also rather intrigued at the fact that there was a professional singer who sounded like Karen from a country which seemed to have an even bigger love for him and his late sister than their home nation. After listening to the album, my only regret was that Akiko and Richard didn't actually cover an old Carpenters hit. I could only imagine what that would have sounded like. And it's not as if Kobayashi was afraid of intruding on hallowed ground...she did cover Karen's final hit, "Touch Me".

Looks like Warner Bros. can just taste that billion-dollar mark now. I read on Dark Horizons that the studio is re-releasing "The Dark Knight" all over America in late January. It's apparently just a few million shy of that 9-zero line, and of course, it's never bad when Oscar season is just around the corner. I can imagine the late Heath Ledger getting that nomination, but do I think the movie itself should get a nomination? Mmmmm....maybe. But I just can't see it getting the big gold guy. It's still a superhero movie...can't be setting any precedents, can we?
Friday December 5, 5:46 p.m.

We were having a bit of Indian Summer for the past couple of days...that is, until the heavens opened up and the rains came pouring down this afternoon. I don't think I've ever heard thunder in December. The temps are supposed to be plummeting like the economy from tomorrow. Heard that Fukuoka of all places is supposed to get a good dumping of snow.

Had my haircut this morning. I noticed that it's just the two guys taking care of things now. At the front of the salon, there's a small picture with caricatures of the staff. There used to be three of them...the two guys and one woman. Well, the female caricature is now gone. It's rather nice to not have that shagginess.

It was nice to actually enjoy most of a Friday off and have a homecooked meal. I used some of that Phillipine shrimp paste that The Lady had given me on Monday for a stir-fry. Pretty good but used a tad too much maybe.

Got a call from Speedy this afternoon. Looks like my top-loaded Saturday before the bonenkai has been lightened somewhat. Mr. TOEIC who was at the top of the batting order called in to say that he'll have to beg off his double class due to a cold. Knowing society here, he was probably calling in from work. And it's probable that he won't make it to the party as well. At the juku, the boss got a call from Mild Jr. who's also had to beg off due to a cold. Looks like we may have folks dropping like flies over here. I can only hope that we don't end up having a rather cavernous feel at the restaurant tomorrow night. Still, with Mr. TOEIC out, I can at least enjoy another night of good sleep.

It will be the last time for me to see the juku boss this year since she'll be going into hospital as of early Tuesday morning for the next 3 weeks. As usual, she hasn't let a little esophageal cancer bother her; she is still jumping around and having fun. However, since she'll be facing several weeks of very little food after the operation, she's grabbed life by the short and curlies and has been lustfully eating a swath through Tokyo cuisine. Tomorrow, she'll be heading to Kagurazaka to nosh on tan tan men and niku man...not exactly light feeding. Then the next day, she's having a bunch of folks come to her place for some sort of dinner. I also noticed a card advertising those Quarter Pounders on her table. I don't think even Jesus Christ had this many Last Suppers. In any case, I will be sending word to her ol' university buddy, Cozy about her situation. Although she's said that she really doesn't want to have any visitors taking time out of their schedule to go and see her while she's in hospital, I think it would be nice to have Cozy act as my eyes and ears while I'm in Canada.

Well, the Christmas music medley continues on my Discman. Last night, it was the disc with the commemorative "40th Anniversary of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'" by smooth jazz artist David Benoit. No improvements on the original, but still nice to listen to the tribute. Vanessa Williams had a nice little new contribution to the Charlie Brown ethos called "Just Like Me". I'm sure a lot of "Ugly Betty" fans who have heard the album are remarking "Wow, I didn't know she could sing!". I'm sure a lot of them could look at some certain photos from years back and remark "Wow, I didn't know she could do that with a woman!"

I see that Canadian PM Harper has decided to pull off the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass and got the Governor-General to give him permission to suspend Parliament a bit early for the Holidays while he tries to salvage his reputation. I wonder if Prime Minister Aso of Japan is looking at all this and going "Hmmmm...."

With the rain and stuff, I've noticed that there was a long lineup at the taxi stand by Urayasu Station. Then the juku boss told me that the Tozai trains heading eastbound have been stopped. I just hope that things have cleared up by the time I finish in a few hours.

Well, my revised schedule tomorrow will now start with The Manhattanite, followed by The Publicity Agent, Mr. Pronunciation and finally The Bostonian...only one of whom will be coming to the party. Perhaps if more folks start dropping out, Speedy may try to entice a couple of them to change their minds.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday December 4, 5:28 p.m.

Done for the day. Found out why Miss Pronunciation hadn't shown up for the past month. She became one of the many victims of the recession and got laid off. She's been pounding the pavement for a job. At least, she's keeping a happy face on it.

Just before Miss Pronunciation came on in, Mr. Influence came in with his girlfriend...and a ton of groceries for what will probably be the very last Cooking in English class. Influence has been the main guy on this project for over 3 years, but he's finally hit the limit and unless something drastic happens, the plug will be pulled. Speedy was surprised that it even lasted this long.

A bit of suspense as well over here. For the past couple of days, Speedy and the staff have been working on a proposal with some sort of bigwig company for Business English. And apparently, the powers-that-be over there liked the proposal so the bossman will be making a pitch next week. I very much doubt that I'll be doing it since I'm already swamped with my own guys, which may mean a third full-timer to add onto me and the boss. The money will be greatly appreciated.

I'll be outta here in about 20 minutes. Yahoo!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thursday December 4, 2:57 p.m.

Feeling pretty baked, and I still have one more student, Miss Pronunciation. Luckily, I've got an hour before showtime. It was pretty much one after the other from the get-go. Four straight with no breaks. May just want to veg for about 15 minutes before tackling my duties for Miss Pronunciation.
Thursday December 4, 9:22 a.m.

Grandma Dynamite has come in...doesn't look too bad considering her call to beg off from the year-end party on Saturday. As for The Diver, she was getting so jittery about having to speak English, she almost warned me not to make her get involved in any games or introductions. The Big Lug has cancelled due to some death in the family. Too bad, we needed more men to balance things out some more.

It'll be a scrunched-up schedule today. I've got Grandma Dynamite, followed by Grandma FON, The Nurse and Miss Sedona...all within a few hours. There's a small respite before Miss Pronunciation wraps everything up for me. A bit intense but...hopefully...I'll have that Thursday night off.

With Swank having cancelled tomorrow's lesson, I don't feel as much pressure as I had over the past couple of weeks. She's a great, motivated student but I've had to come up with some pretty challenging exercises to keep her engaged. At this point, with Swank and The Big Lug gone from the sked, I won't have to come into the school at all tomorrow. So I'll be able to get that haircut and stay within the neighbourhood.

The Anime King's latest gift has come in so the delivery guy will be bringing it over tomorrow afternoon. I'll just be happy to catch up on some missed sleep.
Thursday December 4, 8:52 p.m.

Back at Speedy's after a 5-hour nap. The Patent Attorney came in so my hosting duties were needed once more. Very cheerful fellow as always but admitted that he has a bit of a hangover from a small splurge of drinking an entire bottle of red wine. Nice liver if you can get it.

Finally got Marcie to share a bit of the Kuglof with me. Pretty good stuff.

Wondering how Grandma Dynamite will be feeling today after calling to say that she's ailing somewhat. Could be a bit of an ordeal teaching her today.
Wednesday December 3, 7:23 p.m.

Well, there have been a few changes since last entry. Grandma Dynamite is still coming for her lessons tomorrow but she's begged off attending the bonenkai on Saturday because of her stomach problems. I'm not quite sure how that works. Plus, Miss Pronunciation is coming for just her second official lesson after more than a month away tomorrow. But the big thing is that Swank has cancelled her Friday lesson due to her workload in the courts. She's a great student but I'm kinda relieved that she's not coming. Her lessons aren't easy to plan. Most likely, I'll get my original student of The Big Lug back since she's not coming

Looks like my Kuglof has been declined. Ray has left for the day, and there's no reaction from the new staffer, Marcie. Ah, perhaps the boss may indulge me.

The Diver should be here in a little more than 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wednesday December 3, 4:28 p.m.

Back from Shinjuku. Ended up having lunch at that Chinese eatery in the basement of the Maynds Building. Never a wasted time there and pretty much guaranteed of a warm belly and a fiery mouth. Krispy Kreme #1 had the usual 25-minute lineup. For some reason, there was a TV crew there...and the 2nd anniversary isn't for another week or so. I'm sure folks in line were a captive audience.

Went into UNIQLO, the inexpensive but trendy clothing store (at least until H&M hit the scene a while back), to buy something for Mom. The Class Act had been telling me about some newfangled line there called HeatTech which is supposed to magically and non-electrically keep all that warmth while sucking up the sweat. Well, ended up buying a turtleneck sweater for Mom for 1,000 yen and even picked up an undershirt for Dad for slightly more. It's a telling sign of the quality of service when the cashier finds a tiny speck of dirt on the undershirt and immediately exchanges it for a "cleaner" package.

Browsed around Tower Records for a short while. The Xmas jazz records are all out there but didn't take the bait. Then, I checked out a food court underneath Odakyu Department Store. I'd passed it all these years but never went inside. Looks like I've been missing out on stuff; there were some nice little Asian eateries in there. I'd been thinking quixotically about getting a box of Krispy Kreme for the staff since they were cooped up in the office while I could go free, but I decided to pick up a Kuglof from the local branch of La Vie Du France. Kuglof? (Geseundheit). It's some sort of German bundt cake with icing. Smaller and far less expensive than a box of KK, but hopefully, the ladies decide to take a bite.
Wednesday December 3, 1:00 p.m.

I think I hit the wall here. Feeling pretty sluggish...had Grandma Enka for one of her monthly stream-of-consciousness conversations; that would usually take me out. Speedy half-jokingly offered The Singer's lesson over to me, but I think both he and I know that I'm not a big fan of suddenly substituting for someone. Plus, I'll be heading out to Shinjuku in about half an hour for some more Xmas shopping; it'll probably be UNIQLO today for Mom's article of clothing and maybe something for The Lens' wife.
Wednesday December 3, 7:39 a.m.

Once again, I've put up my shields against a potential cold. Nothing more depressing than leaving the apartment this morning and seeing that it's still dark outside. I'm gonna have to dump this lifestyle sometime in the next few years. Even more depressing that the Tozai Line had every seat filled despite it being just 6 a.m.

Back at Speedy's awaiting The Smile who should be here in little more than half an hour. Got my McBreakfast in me, along with three cold pills. The Trekkie discovered my chicken scrawls and looked up that Intel site with the cool image of the USS Kelvin from the future "Star Trek" movie. The image would be even cooler if they had a wraparound view of the bridge. The Trekkie gave me one of her cute manga-ized notes thanking me. And this is a future judge we're talking about. I can only imagine what she'll be doodling in her robes while she's hearing cases.

London Calling. I got word from The Dancer that my Xmas card was the first one of the season for her family. She also informed me that the international deadline is this Friday, so I gotta get Paddy's out today. He sent me his address there; he may even drop by Toronto during the Holidays, although I kinda doubt that he'll have the time.

Well, that massive Thai protest sit-in at the airports may finally be clearing up since the courts threw out the unpopular Prime Minister. Meanwhile, airports in Canada may be getting a bit jittery since there is also an attempt to get rid of PM Harper.

Ray just came in sniffling away. Yup, cold season has arrived.
Tuesday December 2, 9:26 p.m.

Feeling a bit out of sorts...somewhat like going through decompression, although I've never dove a single metre under water. I had the first kinda so-so class with Suzanne since she first started with me months ago. She had forgotten all of her stuff and we kinda just drifted through a whole bunch of topics. My second and third lessons with The Artist (she was making up the extra half-hour for her absence last week) went pretty well. She's really doggone eager to get to India, but I'm happy that she's patient enough to realize that she won't be going there for a few years; not particularly secure region since the events of last week. I introduced her to The Milds who had been there earlier this year so they had a nice talk for about a few minutes. As for The Milds, it was like teaching the walking wounded; Mrs. Mild had her mask on since she was still suffering from a cold, and Mr. Mild was looking rather discomfited due to a nagging slipped disc in his back. Still, I am grateful that they kindly consented to checking my mailbox during my time away. I think The Milds were also a bit out of it tonight since the juku boss told them about her hospitalization for her cancer next week. She didn't mind having the truth be known since there was really no way she could've kept it secret for long, and she's so optimistic. In any case, I'll be on my own for the remaining week before I head home. I'm kinda thinking of bringing in the Xmas spirit for next week...just so that I can end the year with a bit of oomph.

I had a call from KDD, the telecommunications company today. I'd initially thought that they were calling me about a missed bill payment. However, it actually turned out that they needed to do a bit of checking about my phone line since they apparently have gotten into the process of my application for Ichikawa cable via the cable company and the domestic phone company of NTT. My phone line was still registered under the name of the Persian, the former resident of my apartment years ago, and so they wanted to check some facts out from me. I think everything should be OK.

I was able to get a couple of novels by the suspense writer, Kyotaro Nishimura, for Dad as requested at the local department store, along with a calendar for The Lens, so I may not need to go out during this slightly increased hole in my schedule tomorrow. 001 has cancelled her lesson, so I've basically got Grandma Enka finishing at 12:30 and then I'll be waiting almost 8 hours before The Diver comes in. Well, I figure that I'll have a lot of time to plan for Swank's next mega lesson.

Looks like the big Speedy bonenkai is all filled up. And there may be a good chance that there may be some more guests piling in on Saturday night. Speedy thinks the students will be separated according to teacher, so Miss Sedona, The Diver, The Big Lug, etc, will be at my table cooking tori nabe.

But, time for me to cut out now so that I can get up with the rest of the crows tomorrow morning. Speaking of which, there was a whole gang of them ripping apart the garbage bags outside my building. The road looked like the aftermath of Times Square at 2 a.m. New Year's Day.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Tuesday December 2, 4:50 p.m.

Well, the juku boss is sewing up the cuffs on my slacks. And she's told me when she's heading into week. So, Friday may be the last time I see her until January. She says that the actual operation will take place a week after her entry and, if all goes well, she should be out to celebrate New Year's. She also said that she's finally getting that new computer to replace the dying one here at the juku. I've been recruited to handle the transfer of all important data to the new home.

During my surfing on the Net back at the cafe, I came across the Wikipedia entry for Japanese horror movies. People back home might assume that all J-Horror comes in the form of atmospheric supernatural phenomena such as haunted videotapes or kids with heavy mascara. Well, the "Ring" series and "Ju-on" represent one subgenre but Japanese filmmakers can also 'fess up to making some of the goriest stuff ever to grace the gory that it makes "Hostel" look like an old Disney movie. Some of that stuff has actually seen some light of day back in America with "Ichi the Killer". Back in my JET days when I was going through the video tapes in the local rental shop, there was one pretty gross movie called "Guzoo" in which an alien parasite managed to literally tear up high school girls from the inside and digest them. Didn't bother renting it but there was a very glossy picture book showing allthe guck. Of course, there's the notorious "Guinea Pig" series in which various people were drugged and vivisected in horrific ways. Apparently, even in the early 80s, the effects values were so good that actor Charlie Sheen, who had seen it (?!), was convinced that he was seeing a bona fide snuff film and called up the FBI. The producers actually had to show stills of the crew making it to prove to everyone that it was just a movie....I'm sure they were throwing high-fives to each other at the quality of their work.

Then, today I came across this little "gem" called "Naked Blood" which had its own entry on Wikipedia. I'd heard and read about this late 80s horror flick in which three women who take an experimental drug which negates all pain end up doing absolutely horrifying things to themselves. I actually did come across some images from the movie via Yahoo. Yup, there's the food-loving woman eating herself...yup, there's the body-piercing fetishist really pushing the envelope on her hobby. Nothing like seeing a woman tearing out and eating her own eyeball to get the point across that J-Horror isn't all ancient spirits and dark forests.
Tuesday December 2, 1:35 p.m.

A bit of a heart-to-heart during the 2nd last Beehive session of the year this morning. The Bees' former classmate and good friend, Mrs. Tulip, who's now living in Toronto with her family, has been going through a bit of a rough patch since her elder daughter has been in the hospital for 6 weeks with a serious ailment. The Bees decided to try and get some sort of care package out to their old classmate since she's been with her daughter almost constantly. And the mule will be me. There was a bit of tearworks from Mrs. Alp and Mrs. Tee over Tulip's plight. I'll see if I can bring over some snacks back home; and it's pretty much assured that I'll be visiting Tulip a couple of days after I touch back down.

Got home last night to see that my laundry on the line did get that unscheduled extra rinse. Wasn't too pleased with the weather folks bungling up the forecast again. However, everything is inside and slowly drying out. Since I got home late as usual, I was able to see the live announcement of President-elect Obama's national security team of Clinton, Jones, Gates, etc. Usually I wouldn't even bother staying up for that, and most other people wouldn't either, but that Obama magic got me to listen in. The man definitely has presence.

I've got my three hours over at the juku. I'm bringing over my de-cuffed slacks for sewing as requested by the boss herself. I wonder if she could even give them a good iron. I have to go hat in hand to The Milds to see if they can check in on the apartment a couple of times over the Holidays, since the boss herself will be cooped up in hospital herself.
Monday December 1, 10:25 p.m.

Caved in and got the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese set (i.e. a Half-Pounder...or the Artery-Buster) from The Golden Arches for dinner. There were a few other folks in front of me who also got McD's newest golden boy. Brought it back to the school and munched away at it. AK, taking a look at my behemoth dinner, noted that it didn't look as big as she had thought, and I have to admit that it had that rather squished look to it. Still, there were probably a good thousand calories smashed between those two buns. But the patties actually did taste like real beef for once.

Just had Medicine Man for the lone Speedy lesson tonight. I have to be grateful to him. Speedy told me that my next pay packet before I head on home would depend on any renewals. And Medicine Man has decided to renew for the whole package. Will need to get him a really good souvenir.

On a slightly down note, The Smile called in to say that she wouldn't be able to come in for the Thursday morning lesson but would like to come in for early morning on Wednesday...which means that I'll have to be heading out the door at the eye-blearing hour of 6:30 a.m. twice in a row. Dang! Mind you, she's a good eager student and, to be perfectly blunt, not a bad one to look at.

On an even worse note, it's raining outside....that wasn't in the forecast...which means I've got some wet laundry on the line.
Monday December 1, 6:12 p.m.

In a lull since The Full-Timer isn't here. However, I do remember that I'd caught several minutes of a movie before I took off yesterday to see The Coffeemaker. It was "Without a Clue", the 1988 Sherlock Holmes parody with Michael Caine and (always call me Sir) Ben Kingsley as Holmes and Watson. I'd never even heard of this little gem before yesterday and although the story itself of Watson being the true brains of the duo had been done before in "Remington Steele", I was just chuckling out loud at some of the comedy being put sounded like the precursor to what I would usually get in a "Fraiser" episode. I wouldn't be surprised if Kelsey Grammer had referred to this as inspiration. It certainly came off better than that other Holmes parody with Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman several years earlier.

It was interesting to see Kingsley playing the exasperated Dr. Watson to the oafish Holmes. This was several years after "Gandhi" and many more years before his current, seeming go-to roles of mad scientists and crime bosses. He wasn't playing noble nor nasty...just a well-meaning amateur sleuth with his issues. As for Michael Caine, it's also interesting to see him in the role of the booby here, while in the same year, he played the brains of the operation in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" to the booby con artist played by Steve Martin. Although his Harry Palmer/Alfie days were long behind him, Caine was still looking rather unlined and young-laddieish compared to the rumpled elder statesman he is now 20 years later. It's a pity that I wasn't able to see the whole movie from beginning to end. But now I'm in the mind to see if I can pick up a copy of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" from the store. Kinda too bad that Steve Martin hasn't exactly impressed anyone recently.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monday December 1, 4:52 p.m.

Yes, the final month of the year has arrived...which means Xmas music. I've already listened to a couple of albums: one a compilation of jazz stuff (Duke Ellington's treatment of "Jingle Bells" is a must for anyone wanting to know the basics of jazz) and The Manhattan Transfer's Xmas CD from 1992. On the first track is "Snowfall" which sounds suspiciously as if the lyrics were written by a haiku master.

I only had The Coffeemaker yesterday for the lesson; Tully was out with a cold. The coffee shop Tully's where I teach the two has already gotten into the Yuletide spirit by offering coffees that walk like desserts...tons of whipped cream and cinnamon on those babies. For the diabetic in all of us. I also told The Coffeemaker about my prospective plan for taking the two out for the annual brunch. I'm thinking about Beacon, that rather classy place next to the UN University in Omotesando that Speedy had brought the staff for lunch a couple of months ago. It used to be Lunchan, the only place in Tokyo that had advertised Meat Loaf. Anyways, their responses are pending.

I got started on the Xmas shopping in earnest after the lesson. Headed out to Shinjuku to Times Square where I maxed out on the calendars for a lot of the folks back home, and a DVD of "Innocence", the sequel to the anime classic, "Ghost in the Shell" for my brother. Got a bit selfish as well and bought two more volumes of "Hikaru no Go" at Kinokuniya. Despite the parting of the cash, I still have a bit more to go before I can say that I've gotten everyone everything. May get a chance to do it on Wednesday since I've got a bit of a patch of time between Grandma Enka and 001.

I even exchanged my yen for Canadian bucks so that I could take advantage of the favourable rates. I figure that I got a few hundred more dollars than I had the last time I was back in Toronto. Shibuya was the branch to go.

Had The Class Act. The Matron was suffering a bit from a root canal due to anaesthetic that just couldn't take. Major Ouch there. I received a bottle of special sauce from The Lady which apparently does wonders for stir-fry. Always appreciate handouts. We also got into a bit of conspiracy theorizing about that psychopath Takeshi Koizumi, who had offed a former Vice Minister and his wife a couple of weeks ago. They feel that Koizumi is just a patsy covering for the real killer...who may or may not be the Mob or an ultra-rightwing group or even some sort of secret Star Chamber in the government. Wouldn't really surprise me.

Went to Wendy's afterwards for lunch and found out that the fast-food chain is fighting fire with fire when it comes to its burgers. McDonalds launched the Quarter Pounder...yes, that Quarter Pounder which has been in North America for years and Japan for the very first time last month. There has even been a restaurant which was set up in the main intersection of Harajuku/Omotesando without any sign that it was a Golden Arches franchise introducing the big burger as the unofficial launching pad. But now, the QP is now all across all of the branches and there were quite a few folks buying the more expensive meal on Saturday when I went to pick up a couple of Big Mac sets for Speedy and me. In any case, Wendy's has launched the even bigger Over One Pound burger...seriously. It looks like a Quarter Pounder on steroids...whether or not it'll entice customers or disgust them is another matter.

The Full-Timer has canned her lessons for the next couple of weeks since she'll be heading for Paris for an end-of-year trip. For her, anytime she can get away from her company is gratefully accepted. So, I've just got Medicine Man much later tonight.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saturday November 29, 4:49 p.m.

Finished the gauntlet. No big problems with the four, but it looks like next Saturday just before the bonenkai is gonna be packed. I'm gonna be working for my dinner that night...and I still have to pay 5,500 yen.
Saturday November 29, 9:35 a.m.

It took a while but someone finally realized that I had been wrapping a rubber band around my left pant leg last night. I was wearing some slacks for which the stitching on the left leg had broken completely and so had to fasten with the ring of rubber...I can handle sock darning or button sewing but cuff stitching is totally out of my league. It was The Restauranteur who found me out...and it figures...she's the salt-of-the-earth type who's amassed a life's experience of making quick observations from her work. The juku boss had a big laugh about it and it was just like her to just drop everything and forced me to sit down, put my left leg on the piano bench and set forth on taping the cuff with Scotch tape...despite the fact that she had a very close encounter with my well-worn and therefore probably malodourous foot. She even demanded that I bring in the slacks on Tuesday for her to sew up. And who am I to refuse the boss?

It'll be another long day. Basically it'll be a full day with four being a double with Mr. TOEIC. Good guy, though.

CNN and BBC have been showing nothing but the carnage from the Mumbai attacks for the 3rd straight day. I'm not going to go as far as actually throw out the conspiracy theory, but I think it's very interesting that the attacks did the country's financial capital...just as CNN was doing its "India Means Business" series. I mean, there is something purely O. Henry about this, and it's been known that terrorists also have time to watch Wolf, Christiane and the folks. I think the series could be re-named "India's Terrorists Mean Business." No, not particularly funny, but I wasn't trying to be. What has also been ironic is that just a few days ago, me and MB and The Sylph were enjoying an Indian dinner with Bollywood music videos playing happily in the background.

I just found out that The Diver will actually join the party next Saturday. This, considering that she's admitted that she's far from a partygoer, is a heavy smoker and hates party games and is terrified of speaking English. Well, I guess I'll really have to be Dancing Bear.

Tomorrow, once I finish with Tully & The Coffeemaker, I'll be making my big purge to get ready for the trip home by buying up all those Xmas goodies. I'll have to make plans tonight once I get home. No rest for the weary.

I read in the paper that even permanent residents like me and TC will be eligible to get that government handout in this period of world economic crisis. I don't know what the exact amount will be, but I've got a feeling that it'll be just worth a nice dinner...and not even in Ginza. And adages like "The check's in the mail" and "I'll believe it when I see it" are playing around in my mind like schoolboys.

And in the "'Oh, Wow! Big Surprise!' Said Sarcastically" department, that Russian wrestler Wakanoho has retracted all of his accusations about match-fixing in his former world of sumo and tearfully asked for his old job back at a press conference. To be honest, I'm surprised that it just took this long for the mobsters to get to him. He refused to give any details saying that he and his family may be harmed if he squealed. And thus, crisis averted.
Friday November 28, 6:04 p.m.

Today was a fairly good day. The New Yorker was pretty much out of her league, though, in the lesson. Some of the most basic questions were unformable for many years have I taught her now? However, I had much better luck with Swank. I used the entire Listening section of a downloaded Eiken 1 test to help her out. Now, it's just that the Eiken people are very stingy about releasing stuff out on the Net, so I gotta see if I can cobble something together for next week.

I later got a message from Speedy stating that my newest student, Mrs Cute, has now officially signed up and will have her first lesson on the morning of the 12th. It would've been the 5th but I asked for that morning since I needed to get my haircut. I'm not sure if the bossman is even aware of it, but he has a pretty understated but sneaky way of trying to put the guilt trip on me. For Mrs. Cute, he slid in that she would have her first lesson in December but then would have to wait a whole month before her second lesson.. He also did earlier this week when he was asking me about whether I could teach Swank on January 9th, less than a day after I get back from Canada. I declined since from hard experience, I need the extra day to decompress, but so again came out the trip about it being the last lesson before her big Eiken test and that her lessons were only for the test and yadda, yadda, yadda. Guilt trips don't work too well on me any more...they just slide right off. However, I had sent him an e-mail asking about my December pay packet before I got the call. I wonder if that may have sharpened his blade a bit. Bad timing.

Got a call last night from's a bit unusual for her to call on a weeknight since I'm hardly home at a decent hour at that time, but she was lucky...she got me just as I stepped through the door. Dad apparently had to head back to the hospital for some prostate problems; ended up staying a week there, but no problems since OHIP covers everything. Still, it was a bit unnerving to hear her say that despite all of the medical problems Dad has had recently, he was still good to go. I sometimes wonder about the family genes. Were we descended from Titans? In any case, Mom also informed me that he's lost some weight since he was on a strict non-bulk diet so there was one good side effect.

The juku boss gave me my usual pay packet along with an advance packet for December. That will definitely help in terms of Xmas shopping and the like. Not sure if Mild Jr. is gonna show up; the boss lists him as pending. He called in to say that he's got a cold so he's not sure whether he'll show up or not. Not that I have to prepare anything....he usually has his own materials for me to peruse. And then, I've got the usual tandem of The Ace and The Restauranteur.

At this point, there has been just one Japanese casualty from the Mumbai attacks. The odds of him/her being someone I knew were astronomically low, I know, but still, it was a relief to hear that it hadn't been one of mine, although I feel sorry for the man's family. The Yogist was perhaps planning a trip there, and I knew my now-erstwhile student, Jolly, had to make a business trip there.

Prime Minister Aso may become known as the George W. Bush of Japanese rulers in terms of his own Bushisms. Apparently, while much of the population has come down with colds, he's come down with a bad case of foot-in-mouth. But it has nothing to do with his grammar but just the content. Earlier this week, he basically accused the medical profession of being a bunch of quacks which had him quickly backtracking. Then yesterday, he got "caught" lambasting unhealthy slobs and the infirm for inflating medical insurance premiums. Mind you, I put the word caught in quotations since, even though I'm one of the guys he's probably targeted, he does have a point about complaining about why he has to foot the bill to take care of future heart attack cases since they refuse to take care of their bodies. The problem is that, frankly, fried chicken and hamburg steaks taste a whole hell of a lot better than raw veggies. So sorry but that's my opinion.

Tomorrow, I've got my Saturday round of a double with Mr. TOEIC, The Intellectual, The Publicity Assistant and Mr. Pronunciation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday November 27, 5:19 p.m.

It's been a pretty quiet day. My lessons with both Grandma Dynamite and Miss Sedona went well. Since then there's been nothing. Ray and the new staffer have been gabbing it up since Speedy went off to teach The Singer. During all that time, Tokyo got doused in a chilly and chilling rain although it's let up now.

Just have The Carolinan in about 40 minutes followed by Mr. Pronunciation at 8. I've gotten the stuff done for Swank tomorrow...keeping my fingers crossed.

Heard about the attacks in Mumbai. Pretty scary when I consider a number of my students and friends including The Yogist, The Milds and The Satyr have been there. And there has been one Japanese death along with an injured party as well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday November 27, 9:28 a.m.

The one good thing about a cold is its end...rather pithy thing to say so early in the morning, and it does lift from a more important adage, but it is true. After 2 weeks, I've finally come out from the general malaise and symptoms that a cold inflicts, and feel a whole lot more energized, even though I had to get out of the apartment by 6:20 this morning. However, it could also be the meds along with a cup of McCoffee and an especially astringent cup of tea I had with The Smile for her lesson. But I am definitely feeling much better.

A good thing, too, since we have gotten off to a busy start. I had The Smile for her early Thursday morning, plus The Patent Attorney came in and then Grandma Dynamite. Because of the vacated slots by The Nurse and Grandma FON, I've got a few hours to prepare for Swank's lesson tomorrow before Miss Sedona drops by.
Wednesday November 26, 5:37 p.m.

Managed to get the class planned out for Swank's Friday lesson. Speedy's approached me on whether I can come in on Friday Jan. 9 to teach her since that would be her final lesson before the big test and he's unavailable. I told him I wasn't too sure if I would be in good enough shape less than 24 hours after coming back from The Great White North.

Looks like my Thursday is getting less humpy. Not only has The Nurse pulled out but Grandma FON has also cancelled since he has to attend a memorial for her late husband. So, I've got 2.5 hours of downtime between Grandma Dynamite and Miss Sedona. Now, if only The Fashion Designer cancels tonight, it would be perfect. I like her fine as a student but it's also nice to get home at a decent hour since I've gotta teach The Smile tomorrow morning first thing which means a 6 a.m. departure from home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wednesday November 26, 1:18 p.m.

First truly decent day this week, and probably the only one. I took advantage and put the laundry out on the line. My cold has made a resurgence so my nasal passages were plenty swollen...shucked out the money for medicine.

I don't have any lessons until 001 this evening but I ended up getting up at around 7 since my mind perked up at the possibility that I could have had a lesson with Miss Honolulu this morning, and I didn't get any message on it. Sent in the phone call to Speedy Central. Luckily, Speedy called back a few hours later to confirm 001 was the first. However, I've gotten some more changes to the schedule; The Nurse has canned her lesson tomorrow between Grandma FON and Miss Sedona due to a cold while The Manhattanite, another student who hasn't poked her head here in several months, will be showing up next Saturday. Then, I got another call from the juku boss stating that Mild Jr. may also be skipping his lesson this Friday due to his own battle with a cold. Ah, by the way, that model lesson student decided to cancel. The boss tried to re-schedule but it looks like this guy will slip between the cracks.

I came in early since I've gotta get some work done for Swank's double lesson. Looks like my Wednesdays may be like that until I head off for Canada.

Apparently, Koizumi the Psychopath links his murderous rage last week to the putting down of his beloved pet dog decades ago by The Ministry of Labour and Health, and not to the pension screw-ups. At first, I thought this guy wasn't just a cold-blooded killer but also a bit of a jokester, but being a psycho, I gather he could've kept this resentment within over the years like a grain of sand and just built of layers of anger like nacre to create this pearl of madness. How's that for an analogy?

I know that the end of the year is truly near when the media announces the lineup and the hosts for the annual Kohaku Utagassen (The Red and White Song Festival). Once again, it is SMAP leader Nakai-kun and actress Yukie Kazama as the celeb hosts...not a bad setup since they would be walking ads for that movie they're in that's out in theatres right now. Jero, the African-American hip-hop enka singer, is not surprisingly in the lineup; good thing for him since he hasn't been all that much in the spotlight since that big start much earlier in the year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tuesday November 25, 1:15 p.m.

"Blades of Glory" ended up being the best of the 3 DVDs that Movie Buddy, The Sylph and I enjoyed the most. "Ghostbusters" back nearly 25 years ago was supposed to have been THE "Saturday Night Live" and "Second City" comic opus, but I didn't really laugh at it too much. However, this contribution from three of the SNL'ers and Napoleon Dynamite did have a number of laugh-worthy gags and lines. Certainly guffawed at the flaming Olympic mascot and the initial North Korean attempt at the Iron Lotus. Will Farrell, like Jim Carrey, does far better as the comedian than as the straight man ("Bewitched").

Unfortunately, I had to head on out into a steady cold rain over to Shibuya. MB was mulling the prospect of coming out with me for a bit of shopping himself, but the lousy weather outside made up his mind for him. Smart decision, too. It was pretty miserable as I suffered from soaked shoes and feet for 6 hours. Got to Shibuya to make a purchase of a huge envelope for one of my first Xmas present deliveries at Tokyu Hands. I'd also been thinking of getting some sort of packaging to send The Entrepreneur's presents over by mail, but just decided to take the things with me on the plane.

Met The Bohemian in front of Hachiko at 6. Even in the foulest of weather, there was a huge crowd in front of the dog. Luckily, The Bohemian was already there so there was no need to wait. He was back in his "serious" fashion mode: plain jacket, short hair and briefcase. Over the years, he has alternated his look between serious and "hippie". We ended up going to an Okinawan restaurant in a side street famous for its sex shops. Since the weather was so bad, I gathered that the proprietors took in the leather whips and bondage gear. The two of us went for an all-you-can-drink + 5 dishes for 3,300 yen. Not too bad considering that the individual dishes weren't exactly super cheap....especially for an izakaya.

The surprising thing about The Bohemian was that his serious mode wasn't strictly limited to his attire. He actually did lame attempts to pick up women and he kept the raunchy talk and inadvertent insults to a minimum...although near the end, his 10 mugs of beer were starting to talk when he went into a soliloquy about his observations of sex shops in Europe. Perhaps, his current unemployed status may have put him into a more sober state of mind. The Sylph, though still gainfully employed, also stated that the situation with her current company isn't too good, just happens to be an American company with dealings in real estate. As you know, the words "America" and "real estate" are akin to "nitro" and "glycerin" right now.

I had The Beehive for their 3rd last time for the year. It was Mrs. Jade, Mrs. Alp and even Mrs. Tee. Mrs. Tee has been pretty much limited to a cameo for the past several months due to her other committments. The other surprising thing was that Mrs. Travel didn't show up; apparently, she had to take her grandson to the hospital for those innoculations.

The sun is shining out there but the rains may be coming back again tonight. I've got the regular juku crowd today including that model lesson student.