Friday, January 25, 2008

Saturday January 26, 12:53 p.m.

I've just taught The Manhattanite about an hour ago. In fine fettle as usual. And I've got The Doctor later this afternoon. So far, it's just BC and me in the school since the bossman is taking a rare opportunity to partake in a process called sleeping in. The weather is cold and sunny...just like a typical Tokyo winter day.

I had that three-in-a-row with The Sisters of State and BC on Thursday night. The aforementioned sisters will be heading for Bali in mid-March. Must be nice being siblings who can actually be like traveling buddies. As for BC, she and I had a bit of a talk on our mutual boss, Speedy. Nothing too conspiratorial...but we both agreed that his personality can be a bit intimidating for some students. Could possibly explain why 001 and 002 usually demur whenever I have to be absent from their classes and suggest that Speedy take my place.

I just had The Ace last night at the juku. Jolly tried to get in under the wire by asking to come in just a half-hour before The Ace's lesson. The boss took one look at my face and made the call to decline his request. Jolly's a great guy and has been a good student and even if he couldn't find out until last night whether or not he could come in, I really didn't want to set the precedent that he could just come in on the turn of a dime. Luckily, he was understanding about it. And besides, I'm sure he would probably enjoy a night out in Shimbashi with the guys anyways.

Newswise, it was the tragic case of Mrs. Hatakeyama that took up the reports last night. Mrs. Hatakeyama is the tortured woman responsible for killing not only her own daughter but also the little boy of a neighbour. Her appearance and her case history kinda strike me as being similar to that Charlize Theron character in "Monster". In any case, I think the gallows will be her final destination.

SIL cancelled her lesson for this Monday. Not too bad since I'm pretty loaded down with classes on the 28th. I could use with the 6-hour space between The Class Act and The Full-Timer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday January 24, 12:48 p.m.

I've been reading through Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" as my latest commuting book. It's been an absorbing read so far. Basically, it comes across as a "how-to" manual for creating epidemics or fads. And in his theories about Connectors, Mavens, Salesmen along with his various laws, he weaves in everything from Paul Revere's Midnight Ride to Sesame Street to Bernard Goetz to apply his teachings. I haven't taken in everything at face value...his Power of Context, for example, is more illustration than illumination of something seen and heard before. However, having said that, some of his earlier stuff on the different types of people needed to get a fad started is worthy of thought. Perhaps, I may try something with those Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that I get as tribute from some of the ol' gang from home.

In any case, The Yogist should be here shortly.
Thursday January 24, 12:11 p.m.

It's back to a normal Kanto Winter day....sunny but cold. But we also have some pretty arctic winds blowing through the megalopolis. Not exactly helping the Wind Chill. I've got a quad today on the schedule. The Yogist is first at bat in less than an hour, and then I have the whole gang at Tully's tonight: The New Yorker, The Carolinan and BC. It'll definitely be a busy one on Monday. The entire Monday crew will be back to normal: The Class Act, SIL, The Full-Timer, the new kid on the block...The Diver, Mr. TOEIC...and yet another model lesson with this doctor to wrap up.

I haven't been paying too much attention to the domestic news over the past few days due to all the WWF-style wrestling between the two frontrunning Democratic candidates in the US. However, there is one piece of news that's been festering in my craw since it broke yesterday morning. It's a sad addendum to what has already been a tragic case.
Several days ago, a scumbag managed to rob an apartment by not only tying up a young woman immobile to the fridge but also by slapping on some masking tape over the nose and mouth of her 18-day-old baby so that the tyke wouldn't scream. The money he took was the gift money for the baby from various wellwishers. The baby died.
Now, just a few days after the funeral, the family will now have to hold another one. The helpless 22-year-old mother committed suicide by jumping from a bridge. If there's anything that proves that there is no God...
Wednesday January 23, 8:04 p.m.

Looks like 001 will be making another one of her skiing pilgrimages next week up to Hokkaido. So, it'll be another 2 weeks before her next lesson although she promises that she'll be here for all the Wednesdays in February. Still, she'll be heading to Hokkaido one more time then before she takes off for an aurora tour in Alaska on Leap Day.
I envy folks like 001 and Jolly who head up to the lodge for skiing. Despite my Canadian-ness, I never learned how to get down the slopes. I had done cross-country skiing in Ontario back in the 6th Grade, and tried doing the snowplow during one of the special Ski Days up in Gunma-ken during my JET days but never really acquired the taste or skill for the sport. And over here, skiing is just as much as a lifestyle as it is in Switzerland. 001 is getting together with a couple of buddies on Sunday at Haneda Airport, sending her skis and equipment ahead by courier, and then they'll board the JAL flight to Hokkaido to Shin-Chitose Airport where a shuttle bus will drive them over the next couple of hours to Kiroro Resort. They'll then partake in a few hours of early evening skiing before having a nice dinner at the lodge, a bath and then some well-earned sleep before hitting the buffet, slopes, brunch and that order. Nice but pricey lifestyle...way out of my reach. Sometimes I wish that things had turned out a little differently for me.

Just waiting for the EIC student who'll be coming here in about 45 minutes. The snow has stopped but it's still spitting precipitation out there.
Wednesday January 23, 5:12 p.m.

Well, the snows finally came en masse onto the Kanto from late last night. Still, there are only a few centimetres (if that) on the ground. And in my neighbourhood, it's only been cold rain that's fallen...I guess that heat shield has been in good condition. Of course, the morning news shows have been covering the atypical weather like any other major typhoon.

The last 24 hours have seen the world economy teetering on the brink of recession, and the aftermath of the latest Hillary n' Barack fisticuffs (I just don't see these two ever getting together as running mates). However, the other big news was the surprise demise of actor Heath Ledger. I was just watching CNN's "Lou Dobbs" when the scroll just showed the headline "Heath Ledger dies". I was never a fan of his although he had been coming up through the thespian ranks as a full-fledged actor...not just a movie star. Still, it is a pity that he has left this mortal coil so soon. However, I will finally see him on the big screen, if posthumously as The Joker on "The Dark Knight".

Last night, I had just the usual juku night. Chip N' Dale showed up and it was just them. Those model students from last week never called back. The boss asked Dale about them, and she just replied that their parents were kangaechu (still thinking). Otherwise, it was Mild Jr., The Milds and The Siberian to wrap up. Jolly dotakyan'ed again due to a cold he probably suffered while skiing in Naeba last weekend.

Just have 001 and that EIC student tonight. Kinda wonder if that rain outside is gonna convert into snow once more. Not too much fun commuting in that kind of weather.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tuesday January 22, 4:37 p.m.

Well, the forecasts still keep showing that snowman icon over the Kanto....but I still haven't seen a blessed snowflake.

Managed to survive the loaded night last night at Speedy's. As I said, I had The Diver for her model lesson. She was a lock but she'll be a lowbie for sure. Then, I had Mr. TOEIC for the first time in over a month. Not too bad considering how low he is. And then, I had my final student for EIC. Quite a bit higher than the previous two, but she's pretty soft-spoken.

Met that friend of the juku boss this morning at the station. He kinda looks and talks like a comedian by the name of Cozy I'll just tag him Cozy. Despite the nickname, he's a pretty sobersided if congenial fellow. We went to the nearest coffee shop to discuss business. For one thing, his request isn't a one-shot but an off-on thing involving translation of various documents from his office. He gave me a couple of samples. Fairly technical stuff but he gave me about a week to peruse them before he actually starts sending me the work. So, I'll be looking forward to the extra income, although I don't know what a professional translator would earn on a couple of pages of technical details. The boss told me that I shouldn't go for the low wages she has to pay me but I'll have to consult some folks about what to charge. We shall see.

In any case, I caught the highlights from that debate version of The Thrilla from Manila involving Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. John Edwards seemed to be a trumped-up bystander with his own dais. Man, it is getting nasty out there.

Got another long night ahead of me...
Monday January 21, 8:35 p.m.

Well, got through the first two fingers of the gauntlet. The Full-Timer was no problem, of course. Apparently, her bizarro supervisor has become somewhat more normal after a bit of counseling by powers above. She even went out for coffee with him...I asked her if she'd brought a knife, just in case. She also informed me that her father had to go in for some elective surgery which brought up the topic of tonsils. Over here, the extraction of tonsils is rare, to say the least...while in the West, it's pretty much a rite of childhood passage.
Then, there is my model student-turned-newest regular....ahhh, how shall I christen her? Ah, The Diver. She's actually a nurse but since someone already has that tag, I'll go with her hobby. Anyways, she's not a complete tabula rasa but pretty close to it. However, she is a trooper so that's good enough for me.
Of course, Mr. TOEIC has just called in to say that he'll be 10 minutes late. A pity since I won't be able to extend due to the fact that I still have that EIC student to take care of after his class. Anyways, he's just buzzed in.
Monday January 21, 5:21 p.m.

Supposedly, according to the CNN website, today...January the year's most depressing day. And we haven't even reached Income Tax Day. Hopefully, we don't have too many fluent readers of English in this country...otherwise, we may have to look up in the sky a lot to make sure sure we don't get smooshed by falling bodies. Suicide happens to be one of the leading causes of death here.

Bought a new text for Jolly...something that's specific to his job as a salesman. Then, I had lunch at my usual place of Com Pho underneath Oazo at Otemachi Station. Went for the Sesame Pho which is just clogged with sesame seed paste. I heard somewhere that sesame has a lot of curative properties. If so, I should be Adonis. Speaking of Jolly, he and his girlfriend went off to Naeba Ski Resort this past weekend. He should have a pretty interesting report...provided that he doesn't cancel out tomorrow night. Naeba is the most famous ski slope in the Kanto area, and the singer Yumi Matsutoya are pretty much bonded at the hip with this place due to a number of her songs being used as commercial jingles.
I've yet to hear from the juku boss about those two boys who'd come in for the model lesson last week. I wouldn't be surprised if they decided not to sign and it would relieve me of some extra headaches.

The juku boss actually set me up with this tax accountant friend of hers in terms of some translation job. I'm supposed to meet this fellow, who I'd spoken with briefly over the phone during our viewing of "Blood Diamond" yesterday, tomorrow morning for a meet-&-greet at the station.

I saw the teaser trailer for the upcoming "Star Trek" movie (still basically a year away) on YouTube this morning. It apparently got laughed and sneered at by the audiences back home and Stateside. I'm a Trekkie but I'm also not surprised by the cold reception that it got, considering the poor showings of the last two films and the not-so-warm feelings toward the last Star Trek series. I think the franchise could still use a bit of rest.

Well, I've got The Full-Timer in about 20 minutes followed by a model lesson, then Mr. TOEIC and finally an EIC student. If I don't go mad tonight, I should be OK for that tax accountant tomorrow morning. SIL was her usual self earlier this afternoon.

No hint of snow yet.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Monday January 21, 9:35 a.m.

An intriguing DVD/movie weekend, to say the least. It would seem that the overriding unintentional theme amongst 3 of the 4 movies I saw over the past couple of days have dealt with doomed vengeful sociopaths. And amazingly...Movie Buddy, The Satyr and I played absolute contrarians.

First off, and you folks who actually read my ramblings can see it here. And I will even bold it for you. The Reader's Digest version of my feelings for "Sweeney Todd" is: IT SUCKS! Yep, you read it may be seeing what could be the only negative comments for Tim and Johnny's latest collaboration since it would seem that just about everyone else such as TIME, Internet Movie Database and even the usually garrulous reviewer for Tokyo METROPOLIS loved it. Heck, MB even said that if it hadn't been for the fact that he was trapped in the middle of the row, he would've walked right on out and gone to the solace of his PSP.
As for me, I just couldn't get into the musical. Not that I hate musicals...or even dark musicals (heck, I've got the original London soundtrack of "Phantom of the Opera"...without having seen the play). I enjoyed "Chicago" although it has had its share of detractors over the years since it won the Oscar for Best Movie. And "Sweeney Todd" has actually won 2 Golden Globes already....which is astounding. The songs all sounded the same (ironically like Tim Burton's usual go-to-guy for music, Danny Elfman, when he did "Nightmare Before Christmas"; another overrated Burton production which also had overly similar songs) and there wasn't a hummable one in the bunch. 10 minutes into the movie, I was already starting to fidget and wishing...oh, how I wished....that the throat-slitting could get started. In that respect, "Sweeney" failed to was truly a horror-musical. It is also a horrible musical. I knew that MB was despising the movie since he usually gets fidgety and sigh-y on seeing a waste of hard-earned yen and time...the final clue was seeing him finally put his head in his hands. The only other time I'd seen him do that was for "Revenge of the Sith".
I couldn't really blame the cast...they did try hard. Perhaps, Johnny Depp did merit his Golden Globe and kudos to the other actors. It was just that it was wall-to-wall music of the lousiest kind. Y'know...if "Sweeney Todd" had been just a straight drama, I would've enjoyed far more than I did. As it is, though, I am now fervently rooting for "Atonement" or "Jesse James" to get the Oscar for Best Movie. Perhaps the other title for this one should've been a twist on the aforementioned Star Wars sequel but anagram the final word.

Strangely enough, it was the one of the DVDs on Saturday that the three of us had seen...a flick that didn't get anywhere near the adulation, the advertisement or the cash flow of the abomination that is "Sweeney Todd", but also dealt with a doomed psycho...that provided a good chunk of entertainment. We actually caught "Crank"....90 minutes of pure hilarious mayhem with a juiced-up Jason Statham (we had approached this one with some trepidation at first because of the disappointing "Transporter 2") was just a nutso over-the-top action flick. And that scene between Amy Smart and Statham in the plaza was definitely a highlight.
Also, caught "Smokin' Aces"...a flick that tried to emulate the vibe of "The Usual Suspects" and "Lucky Number Slevin". Basically, it was a movie to see which contract killer would survive to the end. Actually saw Chris Pine (the future Captain Kirk redux) as one of the neo-Nazi Tremor brothers.
Finally, MB and I saw the odd picture out of the theme of doomed psycho..."Blood Diamond". We enjoyed it for the most part although we also thought that DiCaprio was trying to be a little too earnest to get his Oscar. For that matter, the movie was just screaming to be nominated.

Well, in one of those coincidences...we went to Tony Roma's for a hearty meal in Roppongi (we'd caught "Sweeney Todd" at Roppongi Hills). We did the same thing after we'd seen "Revenge of the Sith"...another flick that met with withering criticism from MB. Skippy and Miss Ivory were also part of the movie "experience". The only one who actually enjoyed it was Miss Ivory. Even Skippy said that she wasn't all that impressed.

It was supposed to be wall-to-wall teaching today. However, The Lady of The Class Act had called up a few nights ago to cancel today's lesson since her buddy, The Matron, had to pull out. Still, it'll be a busy one with SIL's first of the year followed by The Full-Timer, an EIC student, Mr. TOEIC and a model lesson student.

I'm currently borrowing a book from The Satyr called "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell; it talks about that important period of time when something goes from nothing to a huge phenomenon. Maybe it'll explain the inexplicable popularity of Crocs...good heavens, they look like those plastic shoes worn in Japanese bathrooms during cleaning with holes punched into them.

Well, the weather guys are still warning about snow and have been for the past few days although I've yet to see a single flake. The skies look fairly threatening but they still haven't put out...yet.