Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday January 18, 6:30 p.m.

It was the coldest day of the year today in the Kanto...maybe for the past few years. I don't think I've ever felt this cold...I actually threw on the longjohns for my solo with Jolly tonight. I may have to flip on the air conditioner/heater tomorrow night when MB and The Satyr come over.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thursday January 17, 3:54 p.m.

Well, got through the lessons pretty painlessly. The Yogist was a bit struck for words, though. Looks like I'm done for the day.

I may have mentioned last week about my ol' NOVA trainer who's now this big high-flying author. Well, did a Wiki on him which branched into other sites. Yep, he has definitely found his calling as a writer. He's won his share of prizes and I've read at least one positively glowing review about his series of books. His pic is also liberally out there on search engines. He never had much hair when I knew him but he's even less hirsute now. Really good guy. So I guess my old NOVA school has spawned its share of celebs. One of the other teachers ended up becoming a regular on an NHK Japanese-lesson koza a few years back, and I got to teach a slightly eccentric but charming old lady who had already become famous for being a NOVA spokesperson in the early 90s. There were even two students who ended up on the "Why did you choose NOVA?" series of commercials several years ago.
If I ever met my old boss again, I would probably recommend him to write a fiction about the rags-to-riches-to-rags life of a Citizen Kane-like president of an English-teaching chain in Japan.

Well, I'll probably be heading back for home in about a few minutes. Still feel slightly bloated from all hamburger I ingested last night. I'll grab some relatively harmless sashimi (sans salmonella, hopefully) to use on the leftover rice.

Did forget to mention that kerfuffle in the Antarctic involving Greenpeace and those Japanese whaling boats. Apparently, the Greenpeacers have accused Japan for kidnapping two of their guys who had boarded the lead vessel...which I kinda think is a bit exaggerated. I never thought that the fellows would be warmly welcomed but kidnapping? Come on. However, I'm all for Greenpeace trying to stop the quixotic as the venture might be.
Thursday January 17, 12:01 p.m.

Sunny but cold here in The Big Sushi...very typical for a January day. However, Speedy did make a hatsuyuki sighting last about 2 a.m....the time he usually leaves the office. So, we can finally say that snow did come to Tokyo.

Speedy, and I by association, may also have some good news. The bossman contacted me twice last night about a potential new student for Monday nights and a new EIC student. However, next Monday will be a veritable traffic jam of students. Everyone will be back...hopefully. The Class Act, SIL, The Full-Timer and Mr. TOEIC will be returning. Then I've got these two newbies. I'll make the money but man, it'll be an exhausting day. But I can't complain much; I had yesterday off, I'll be having an early night tonight after TheYogist and The Nurse back-to-back, and tomorrow will just see Jolly...and he may even do a dotakyan. Plus, The Beehive will be off next Tuesday so I can sleep in then til the juku.

Paddy contacted me from London where he's returned. Apparently, his old school buddy, whom I've met over the years (including my trip to Ushiku a couple of weeks ago) has asked for some translation help within his company. I can help him out if the work's not too technical. Plus, the yen would be appreciated.

It's the 13th anniversary of The Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe...can't believe so much time has passed. I'm not sure if the pain has truly subsided for the victims of the quake but the media turned to the gaijin angle today concerning quakes. Apparently, a lot of the signs and notices to warn citizens of evacuation routes and other emergency information are only written in Japanese...not much help to the newcomers here. I'm sure a lot of the ultra right would just snort and tell the invaders to learn some f**** Japanese. Well, it takes a while to pick up the ability to read kanji and even hiragana/katakana, so it would be nice if the goverment can print up some English-language notices. If anyone needs help, I'm right here.

Speaking of which, I read that the government is considering having long-term foreign residents (which would include me) tested on Japanese language proficiency. On the surface, I would agree with it...after all, if you want to stay here permanently, you should know the language. However, I always wonder if the government has an ulterior motive....let's say, charging the folks tons of money for the opportunity to take a test.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wednesday January 16, 3:08 p.m.

Not Hump Day today...quite the opposite, actually. It's more like Pit Day. I've got nothing on the slate since 001, The Nurse and Mr. TOEIC bailed out, although two will be back next week and one will be here tomorrow afternoon. So, just enjoying a slow Wednesday...a very unlikey oxymoron if there ever was one.

Last night's marathon at the juku was OK. Had those two new boys in for the trial lesson with Chip N' Dale. The hour with four kids was fine as could be expected, but I'm not quite sure yet if the newbies are gonna be keepers. One of the boys' mothers said that they had been going to kids' classes at the Benesse Corporation, which happens to be one of the country's educational corporations with all sorts of methodology, texts and trained teachers to boot. And here I am with homemade pictures, a digital timer I got for 500 yen in Funabashi, obviously handwritten Human Bingo sheets, and a not-so-eager disposition to teach children. Kinda wonder why the parents even bothered to bring their sons to a meatball surgery-type of operation like mine.
The rest of the evening was pleasant enough. Mild Jr. had another intensive round of conversation and major spazzing out over his delivery...perhaps I shouldn't really be calling him Mild Jr. His parents were their usual mild selves. They'd gone traveling in Taiwan last expected, they did the sights including Taipei 101 and the sho ron po legend, Din Dai Fon. Their souvenir was one as tightly connected to Taiwan duty-free shopping as Macadamia Chocolates are to Hawaii...Pineapple Cake.
The Siberian and I had another pleasant conversation for the 30 minutes allotted him. We started out on the karaoke party we'd had on December 27 and he'd missed, and we ended up talking about the music of yesteryear....70s and 80s. So, ABBA, The Carpenters and Earth, Wind & Fire all came to the fore. We even went into some detail about Billy Joel's "An Innocent Man". According to last night's banter, I regret that he's now opted for the half-hour classes.
As for Jolly, he finally showed up for his first of the year. We did do a proper lesson which included our remedies for the common cold. He has his own in the form of a DIY hot water bottle via a regular 2L PET bottle filled with 60 C water...good for him. Mines was the one handed down from some of the Nippon Oil boys I'd taught years ago. The guys there just took a very hot shower, downed a couple of bottles of the stronger and more expensive vitamin drinks (the ones labeled Yunker come to mind), and then wrapped themselves in blankets. Basically, it was a matter of exorcising the bad humours through sweat overnight. The result was probably at least one wet smelly blanket but a much better disposition. I tried it once and it wasn't too bad in execution.

Got home a tired man so it was with some surprise that I'd gotten a call after midnight from Skippy concerning our Sunday viewing of "Sweeney Todd". We may have a bumper crop in our party this weekend. It'll be MB and The Satyr with their significant others of course, Skippy and me. I was also thinking of asking The Sisters of State and BC along. The only hangup is that the times and reservations haven't opened up yet, and The Satyr is thinking that Johnny Depp could bring in volume business into Roppongi Hills, so we would need to grab those seats quickly. Dinner may also be a bit tricky since we've got a larger party than usual, but we're aiming for Tony Romas nearby. Haven't had ribs in a while.
Skippy was sounding atypically tired. For a woman who can tire out most of the Olympic Track And Field team on energy alone, she was pretty exhausted. Looks like her latest assignment at a tobacco company has been laden with tons of paperwork. Methinks that the paperwork must be at least a few floors high to tucker out Skippy.

There hasn't been much of a big story here...outside of the return of Mongolian yokozuna, Asashoryu, to the dohyo. PM Fukuda managed to steamroller legislation to bring back the MSDF into the Indian Ocean to resume re-fueling operations for the ships dedicated to The Coalition of the Willing for the War on Terrorism. The media has been talking about the LDP used a little-used rule in the Constitution to start up the steamroller. Not sure what NHK and the boys have been crowing about...I think the LDP has often used the steamroller to slam through the bills.
And there was an interesting incident the other day concerning a bus whose driver had literally been asleep at the wheel. Apparently, a tour bus was driving through the countryside of Japan when its driver, who had knocked back some cold medicine, just conked out. Of course, the bus and the passengers all started re-enacting key scenes from the Keanu Reaves "Speed" until one passenger was able to get the unconscious driver aside while he took over at the wheel. Luckily, noone was hurt although a lot of nerves probably suffered undue frazzling.

And speaking about frazzling, what is up with that Britney Spears? All of the guys on Larry King all but wrote her epitaph last night. Well, I'll be waiting for that breaking news.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tuesday January 15, 3:58 p.m.

Well, it was a pretty quiet couple of days at home. I didn't bother watching the local news. Since it was Coming-of-Age Day yesterday, I would've been assaulted by the images of girls in badly-worn kimono along with future yakuza boys with the latter heckling the mayor or revving up the car to full speed and blasting out of the lot like The Millenium Falcon out of Mos Eisley.

Still, Sunday was the big return of Asashoryu, the disgraced yokozuna from Mongolia. Every media outlet was focused like lasers on this sumo slacker after having been banned from the last two tournaments. He came back in a big way getting his first win in his first match back but then the zabuton were flying yesterday when he got upset by a lower-ranked native sumotori. In a way, I was rather happy at that result...he should be given a bit more humbling by my reckoning. Anyways, another 12 days to go before we find out if he's truly been redeemed by the Japanese public.

I actually caught the downscaled Golden Globes on CNN. Ironically, because of the writers' strike, I was able to watch it for the first time since it was down to just 32 minutes and Larry King really wanted to have it on during his hour. And then the "post-game" was fairly catty with two ladies having a little battle about the boredom factor. It was certainly just as meow-worthy as that battle between the Clinton and Obama camps on the latest little comment to hit the airwaves. One piece of advice, though; make sure that Mary Hart never ever gets to a podium again. At least, I know that "Sweeney Todd" is now premium viewing. The bunch of us will be catching Johnny Depp at Roppongi on Sunday.

Had The Beehive this morning at the usual spot at Beckers. And of course, folks soon pretty much took off around us. We went to Tokyo Chubo, an eatery serving the best of Japanese-Western fusion food such as Hayashi Rice and Hamburg Steak. The talk got really heavy when the ladies started going into a major venting session about various things. Mrs. Travel, especially, got a bit emotional talking about her mother-in-law-from-Hell. I wisely kept quiet.

Well, got the kids...hopefully all 4 show up this time. It should be a full slate tonight which will mean that I'll be exhausted by the end of Jolly's session. At least, I can sleep in tomorrow since I may have no classes whatsoever, depending on Mr. TOEIC's call to reserve tomorrow night.