Friday, April 04, 2008

Saturday April 5, 2:41 p.m.

Nice day out there...perfectly Spring-like. I haven't needed to put on a mask, although I did hedge my bets by taking in some of the medicine. The trains were fuller than usual...the long passageway between the Tozai and Marunouchi Lines at Otemachi Station (I think there should be a line to cover that gap) was as full as it usually is on a weekday lunch hour. I can only assume that folks are heading for that last weekend of O-hanami debauchery. I unfortunately had the bad seating to be pressed up with some little brats. One kid seemed to insist on facing me even though he was talking to his mother several centimetres up. I was glad that Mom showed the good grace to tell him to face her. But then once those two got up, some Korean-speaking kids came in with their mothers, and they decided that their picnic site would be right in the middle of the train by the doors. One of the future thugs wanted to put his derriere where my elbow was; he's now thinking twice about that tactical error. Then the kids got further lessons when they sat down right on the subway floor; as soon as the doors opened, the salarymen thought little about steamrolling through them. I was laughing...brats deserved it; strangely, the mothers didn't do a thing about it.

Anyways, I cleaned up the place this morning for DVD night. I just have The Manhattanite for the first time in several weeks in about 40 minutes.
Friday April 4, 5:53 p.m.

Had that dinner at Spyro's last night. I got there right at 7:30 and found out that I was the first one there....and would be for the next 15 minutes. The perpetually smiling head waiter came up to me at 7:40 and somewhat unctuously remarked that my dinner companions were running a bit late. I mumbled my agreement and apology while inside I was wondering if I were gonna through another schedule snafu in as many days after the stuff with The Lens and his wife yesterday. Not sure why the staff would get antsy anyways. Aside from me and one other trio at another table, the place was empty.
But The Sisters of State finally did arrive at 7:45. The Carolinan said that the two of them got lost on the way. If I had been hitched to either one of them, I probably would've been snapping at them since I did ask them if they needed guidance to get to the restaurant. They had said no. Well, they did need the guidance, didn't they? But since I'm just their teacher, I just waved it off and just thanked the heavens that they did arrive.
Mind you, they were kind to give me some goodies in the form of snacks from Kinokuniya. The sisters had never eaten Greek before so I gave them a basic grounding in the delights of saganaki, taramosalata and moussaka. They were rather floored to discover that there is a true Greektown in Toronto. The Japanese staff at Spyros don't have that floor show that places like Pappa's Grill back home have in which the waiter flambes the saganaki of goat cheese before serving. But the ladies did enjoy the dishes. Ironically, we didn't order the souvlaki since we were all getting pretty full by that point. The ouzo didn't really catch on with them, though. Anise isn't exactly a household word here. And The New Yorker wasn't too hot on the baklava. Still, the experience was a flying pass. And next time, we'll be heading for Okinawan.

Today is a perfect Spring day. 18 C and sunny. We're entering the latter half of cherry blossom season...the petals are starting to accumulate on the ground. Had the morning off so after planning the lessons, I sent off a parcel to the parentals before hitting the Daiei. I ended up forgetting to check out that magic Phiten shirt that The Lens had informed me about the other day but did take a look at some prospective microwave ovens across the street at Yamada Denki. I did catch a few of them within my price range and they actually did look pretty decent. So, perhaps if I can hold off for another 3 weeks, I can save up a couple of man and get myself a new nuker.

Met up with The New Yorker less than 24 hours after the Greek expedition. She and the New Yorker are probably enjoying the blossoms in Yasukuni Shrine at this moment. After almost 3 years with me, she's finally finishing her first text. Last night, I'd ask her subtly if she really wanted to continue onto another text. I would be happy to keep her as a student but I wasn't sure if she really wanted to keep on slogging away with a higher text. I think I actually did get a positive response. It was another sloggy class but at least we weren't sitting beside anyone that I personally wanted to kill.

I listened to that Kokia CD that The Anime King had ordered for me last night. I gave it the futon text. That is to say, I heard it on the Discman while I was laying in bed. If I could actually listen to the whole thing without dozing off, then I would have a hit disc. Well, it didn't quite work out that way. Kokia seems to have this neo-folk vibe...maybe like Feist from Nova Scotia. Her rendition of The Eagles' "Desperado" was pretty good. I think that song should be used as the acid test for anyone on "American Idol". Still, I didn't last to the end.

I've only got Miss Disney tonight. The Ace cancelled his lesson and the boss has yet to hear anything from AWOL Jolly. Looks like Skippy is taking the lead on the "Cloverfield" tour for Sunday....she usually does.

I got that translation off to Paddy's friend a half-hour ago. I had Paddy proofread it since he offered that privilege. He couldn't believe all that conceptual tripe from the original Japanese. I was glad that I wasn't the only one who felt the same way. Well, we'll see what the client says.

Now, for a somewhat more down-to-earth dinner...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Thursday April 3, 2:17 p.m.

Looks like the fates decided to choose today as the day of my Hay Fever suffering. Glad that I did get the meds this morning, although the two that I'd taken earlier don't seem to be taking much effect. Picked up a ton of toiletries since I've MB coming over on Saturday night. The Satyr will not be joining us and it's still up in the air about Sunday. However, Skippy most ebulliently pronounced that The Kid and The Wedding Planner will be coming along for the "Cloverfield" ride. Could be Wald 9 in Shinjuku or Roppongi Hills.

It's also the day of foodie-ism. After I'd had my lunch, courtesy of La Vie Du France, Speedy informed me that the remaining McDonalds coupons were gonna be expiring today, and never let it be said that I would let a Big Mac set go to waste. So I've basically eaten two lunches and I've got that Greek dinner with The Sisters of State tonight at Spyros. Not surprisingly, my stomach has been doing some subtle backflips since then.

As for The Yogist, I did confirm that it was indeed The Tippler who had suggested that The Yogist join our little flock. Speedy surprisingly remarked that he hadn't known that. Now it's possible that The Yogist herself may recommend us to another mutual friend. Always love the word of mouth.

I've got a few hours before dinner so I gotta get that translation done and doublechecked by Paddy since it's due tomorrow...and I don't come here then.

During yesterday's little trek through Victoria Sporting Goods in Shinjuku with The Lens, my old friend told me about this shirt produced by a company called Phiten that claims to increase overall strength due to the metal either interwoven or placed into the fabric. Immediately, my skeptometer blipped, and The Lens isn't a gullible guy by any means, but he thinks that there may be something to this. Sure enough, there is also a display at the nearby Daiei in my neighbourhood. I will be taking a look at microwaves tomorrow morning so I may just try to find this display.
Wednesday April 2, 9:40 p.m.

Huzzah! A landslide victory by The Diver. Scored 95% on the test and got her lone mistake on just screwing up the opposite of "clean". She said she felt kuyashii (frustrated) by that one error but she looked pretty happy by my estimation. So, The Lens and I may have screwed things up on the meeting today, but the most important thing of that day was pulled off successfully. I've just eaten a Skor in celebration.

Now, back to the translation....
Wednesday April 2, 9:09 p.m.

The Diver is doing her test right now. Man, did I have to really review the stuff for her. She's still not getting her countries and nationalities right...I think, though, there are no such questions in the test...I hope. Well, we shall see how she does in about 20 minutes.

001 was her usual giddy self. Again, it was a lot of extrapolation. It's amazing where we end up just from one little text question. However, she'll be away next week due to another night shift she's pulled at her company.

The Lens and his wife gave me a box of chocolates...courtesy of the Hershey Corporation. O'Henry, Skor, Reeses...plenty of reason for me to gain diabetes in no time. I cannot risk my health so I've given the box over to Speedy's for sharing. I did hear the theory that giving actually makes one very happy. Well, I should be very elated...if it weren't the fact that I'm just exhausted.

I just heard back from The Satyr. The lad came back from Canada just an hour ago. He's understandably conked out from the flight, so he's kinda taking a wait-and-see attitude about whether he'll make it for both DVD Night and "Cloverfield". Did also hear from Skippy. She will come out to "Cloverfield" and may even bring an old student....The Wedding Planner.

I still gotta stay here for another hour....provided that The Diver will let me go after the test. I gotta work on that translation. Still pretty rough.
Wednesday April 2, 5:00 p.m.

Back from Shinjuku and lunch with The Lens and his wife. It started out somewhat awry though when they didn't show up at the expected time and way beyond. They were supposed to be there at 12:45 but when it reached 1:00, I decided that maybe one of us got our directions mixed and so I started doing a recce around the station and then checking my machine. Nada. I then went upstairs to the restaurant floor in Lumine, having given up on my friends, but couldn't find anything of interest so I checked the phone one more time. Well, finally, The Lens' wife left a message perhaps just a minute after the first check. It was now a good 30 minutes later.
Finally, I scooted down back to the JR East Exit to see the two standing there. I think all of us were a bit pissed off at each other initially (I know I was) but we all quickly calmed down and had lunch back upstairs at a Japanese place which served zarusoba. We had a good time just talking about the past 6 months and home. Mrs. Lens then had to scoot off to some sort of business thingie but The Lens and I had an extra hour for him to take a look at the Victoria Sporting Goods Store across from Takashimaya Times Square before one final cuppa at Starbucks.
No need for dinner tonight but Speedy, BC and I are noshing on some of those chocolate bars I got from The Lenses.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Wednesday April 2, 11:35 a.m.

Got through The Nurse's lesson alright although both Speedy and I were sneezing our internal organs out at the beginning. Hay fever isn't kind to us today. The winds were blowing up something awful yesterday so the JR lines were pretty slow. I could see the pollen flying all over the place. I was able to get away without it for a couple of days but I'm gonna have to hit the drugstore on the way to see The Lens and pick up some meds. With the winds up and my laundry out, I did suffer a few casualties in the form of two undershirts and one dress shirt but all in all, I think I was rather lucky.

However, Jolly did a no-show last night. Waited half an hour before the boss officially called the whole thing off. Not sure what happened but he has done it before; he ended up sleeping it off on the subway.

After lunch with The Lens, I just have 001 and then The Diver. That last one is gonna be one to keep my eye on. She's gonna be pretty freaked about her test.
Tuesday April 1, 9:13 p.m.

Suzanne is the new Seven. She's quite a bit more conversant than her predecessor but she has the same sort of personality...has that slight gyaru-ish look to her, but is actually a pretty nice person. I think the key to her will be to try and not to stray too far from the main topic. Mild Jr. got that job at Tokyo Disneyland at last so he's a happy camper. And the Milds were fine as usual. Just waiting for Jolly. He hasn't called so I assume he'll be coming.

Finally got that document to be translated from Paddy's associate. Will have to start work on it tomorrow although I also have to meet up with The Lens for lunch in Shinjuku. May mean some extra hours at Speedy's after The Diver's lesson.
Tuesday April 1, 4:40 p.m.

Another April Fool's Day....the day when all the newspapers can intentionally put out all sorts of crap. I got another pay day from Cozy for that little translation effort. I was surprised to see that I got quite a bit more than I had supposedly earned. Hopefully, that wasn't part of April Fool's. In any case, I gratefully sent a thank you not to him. Still haven't heard anything from Paddy's buddy.

It was another Beehive treat for me for lunch. They took me out for sushi at the nearby restaurant. I'm grateful but considering that I'm still paying off their advance, I'm gonna be making myself scarce again for the next few weeks after the lessons. 002 was her usual cheery self; she and her husband had gone to Kyoto for a little R&R a couple of weeks back. Looks like they have a recommended restaurant for me. It's a place called Hinode (Sunrise) Udon which specializes in Curry Udon (about as close to Indian Curry as a Big Mac would be to a hambaagu in this burg). Apparently, it's all in the creaminess of the curry sauce which has fish stock in it.

I've got my juku crowd in about an hour. It should be OK...Suzanne, The Mild Family and then maybe...just maybe...Jolly, if he hasn't been pulled into some Fiscal Year Opening Ceremony gig.

I've been looking for a microwave oven between classes. I first took a look at Loft, the oh-so-trendy equivalent of an Ikea in Funabashi, but it seems that they only have the smaller kitchen stuff and not really appliances per se. Then, I tried the Seiyu by Urayasu Station. I did find one for a little less than 10,000 yen which is really bargain basement for microwave ovens. And it certainly looks it: no digital display; it's basically a toaster-oven with radioactivity. But I'm in no real hurry to get one. I've still gotta save up and besides, I've got alternatives to warm up my coffee anyways.

Speaking of Big Macs, first there was the Mega Mac which was introduced here early last year. Then there was the Teriyaki Mega Mac. Finally on Friday, we'll have the Mega McMuffin for breakfast. Won't be around for the debut, but if The Nurse schedules another early Wednesday class next week, I'll definitely check it out.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday March 31, 10:45 p.m.

Well, another long Monday night comes to an end. Still, it was a good trio. The Tippler had a good first class...very conversant, just like in the model lesson. The Bostonian was a bit all over the place but she has a good sense of humour about it all. Medicine Man is quite sobersided but we had some good discussion on some philosophical matters. If Monday nights are locked like this, then I should actually enjoy my time.

The Lens called up to say that he would be willing to change the venue over to Shinjuku to facilitate the contact on Wednesday. Very magnanimous of him. And I think the variety in restaurants is far better there than at Suitengumae. I've yet to hear from Paddy's associate about the translation gig. I hope I hear something by tomorrow.

But I'm a tired teacher right now and I have kilometres to go before I sleep....and that I shall do for the next few hours anyways.
Monday March 31, 7:01 p.m.

Yes, I guess I have a lot to get off my mind today. For one thing, I just read that John Roberts of CNN's "American Morning" (which will be having its last appearance on CNNj tonight before we're stuck with "CNN Today" for the foreseeable future) is thinking of being a bit more hep, a bit less scripted. So I wonder if this means that he's going to be bringing back more of his old 80s J.D. Roberts persona from "The New Music" and "Muchmusic". Will he grow a mullet or will he play air guitar once more? Inquiring minds want to know. Maybe we're getting rid of "American Morning" at just the right time.

The Anime King got back to me to say that he's ordered a CD for me in thanks for all those packages I've redirected to him. It's by Kokia...a name I've heard before but can't really peg. It's a woman, by the way.

It'll be a busy early half to the week. I'm pretty solidly booked up until Thursday. I've only got The Yogist then and then dinner with The Sisters of State in Roppongi. 002 will be back online tomorrow afternoon to fill up the gap between The Beehive and the juku gang. I wonder if Jolly will show up tomorrow night.

Rather ironic considering the migraine I suffered on Saturday that I haven't had any major hay fever outbreaks. I did take the meds yesterday just in case but there hasn't been any need for me at all to do so today. Just as well, since I used the last two pills on Sunday. One reason is that there was a major downpour this morning as I was heading out to Shibuya; all that pollen just got washed down the drain. Tomorrow could be problematic, though.

It's possible that the cold snap of the last couple of days may preserve those cherry blossoms for a few more days. Friday night was a literal washout due to the rain then but yesterday brought out the masses for O-hanami. It was pretty darn cold to just sit around though. I actually felt sorry for the children on NHK's cameras; they were shivering like anything.

Well, The Tippler should be here shortly...
Monday March 31, 6:32 p.m.

Finished off my dinner of slimy bamboo shoot salad and the bacon epi. I also redeemed my 5 cards, each of which I got with every 500-yen plus purchase at La Vie Du France for a cute little bowl...just what I more bowl with the dozens of other bowls stuffed in my cabinet. Well, if any newbie needs any bowls...or would like to trade for a dead microwave...

Looks like I missed my opportunity this Saturday to teach The Manhattanite for the first time in some weeks. She wanted to get something after 4:30 but I'll be heading home by that point to see MB for DVD night. I'm glad that Speedy is rather generous about that sort of thing...he could've easily reminded me that I promised to keep 11-5 open three Saturdays a month, but he just said he would teach her himself.

Automan is really making his reappearance known for this month. He's got two parties going for the 11th and 12th of April and has sent the invitations via Facebook. I have given my RSVP for the Saturday since Friday is my juku night. Speaking about see old faces, I'm supposed to be seeing The Lens this Wednesday during a small window since I'll be fitting him in between The Nurse and 001.

Going back to the Ol' Teahouse Ladies, it was curious that The Operator invited me and her two fellow ladies, The Argentinian and The Flutist, but not The Stick. Curious, but perhaps not surprising. For one thing, The Stick was never part of the regular Friday night group at the ol' Tea Room, and despite her status of being one of their classmates back at the ol' school, I had always gotten the feeling that she was never the most popular of people...she had a very moody side...kinda Jack Cafferty-like despite the fact that she doesn't look anything like him.

Well, I've got my threesome starting up in about 35 minutes. The new student, The Tippler, is on deck first, followed by The Bostonian and then Medicine Man. The Tippler should be interesting. She is more fluent than her buddy, The Yogist (and she's no slouch herself); I just hope that I can be challenging enough to her. The Bostonian should have her good draft of a Request Letter done...she's a bit of a variable...I really can't prep for her since she always has a request on the day of the lesson itself. Medicine Man isn't the most voluminous in terms of speaking but he is dependable. It should be a good 3-pack. And you may be wondering why I haven't mentioned The Full-Timer. Well, she's off today since she's in Accounting and of course, today is the last day of the fiscal year. I think she probably wishes that she were having her English lesson right now.

I also got Suzanne's textbook for her first lesson tomorrow. She should also be another talkative type. As much as I'll miss Chip n' Dale, I think I'll be able to be less stressed out with a full-grown adult again in the 6 o'clock slot at the juku.
Monday March 31, 4:49 p.m.

It's been a weekend. After taking care of the Businesswoman on Saturday, I headed to Akihabara in the afternoon. Definitely some more evolving going on there. Another oh-so-trendy shopping mall is set to open later this week just a few metres down from the gigantic Yodobashi Akiba store. That trendy/geeky mix is getting more and more interesting. The main road in the area wasn't shut down (that's usually on Sundays) but the place was still hopping. I saw quite a number of foreigners milling about...including some cool-looking French guys in front of an anime shop. The French love anime, doncha know? I picked up several pamphlets on massage chairs and Blu-Ray DVD players for The Lady, and even something on Rolly, that cute little music player that rolls in tune with the tunes. It's a Sony!
I would've gone into places like Animate but they were filled to the gills with the otaku and tourists, so aside from the electronic shops, I went upstairs into the building across from JR Akihabara and toured the various floors like Sale, the import DVD shop, and some of the other otaku-friendly "boutiques" on the various floors. Yep, the foreign element was very lively there, too.
However, the jaw-dropping event came when I came across the usual Maid crowd in front of the station. Not that the Maids were there....they've become a fixture...but then I saw these Caucasian Maids...little elementary school girls of blonde hair. That got a lot of attention from the cellphone-camera-carrying otaku. Plus, there was a guy in mask and body stocking touting his charms as a champion of justice.

Also went into Yodobashi Akiba and to the Tower Records there. I ended up buying my first CD in several weeks....Kaela Kimura's "Jasper". Ever since I saw the video on YouTube, the song hasn't been able to get out of my head. Not surprising, since it was written by Takkyu Ishino, the guru from techno unit Denki Groove. He can really come up with the hooks. After listening to it, I thought that the video was still needed to make the fun complete. Her second song was back to her alt-rock roots so I gave it a pass.

Got home to make dinner which came out rather mediocre as stir-fry goes. And then to add insult to injury, I suddenly came down with this lousy near-migraine. The last time I had anything like that was back in October when I was with The Class Act in Hong Kong. Well, I wasn't about to gut it out since there was a good tendency for the pain to hit my stomach, and since I really wasn't interested in seeing my dinner a second time resembling monjayaki, I raced out to the nearest drugstore to grab some Bufferin. Came back home, swallowed the two and basically shut the TV off and took a 1-hour Jedi healing trance. Was right as rain after that. During that time, it was the TBS quarterly All-Star Quiz Festival...the one where 100 of the tarento and actors get together to answer trivia questions and do all sorts of hijinks. As usual, Governor Higashikokuburo of Miyazaki Prefecture, staying close to his old comedian roots, took part in the mini-marathon around TBS Studios.

Yesterday was the final lesson for The OL before heading out back to her university classes in April. She and her mother had gone down to Ise the day before on some sort of individual tour. And she brought me back some Akafuku sweets. The company got rapped on the knuckles by the government last year for selling the stuff past its "best-by" date. Well, this time the date was clearly marked on the package. Actually, I polished the anko-coated mochi this morning; not bad, but I don't think I'll ever be ordering the stuff anytime soon.

I think I should've looked at the microwave ovens when I was in Akihabara on Saturday. My oven decided to die on Sunday night. I had put in the freeze-dried rice and nuked it for the 3 minutes...only to have it come out the same way as I'd put it in. I tried it out with some other stuff such as water...same thing. Well, it gave me a decade of faithful service, so I guess I can't be too surprised. It's a bit of a bummer with the timing, though, considering my current financial circumstances. But in a way, I'm kinda excited about being forced to buy a new electronic appliance. Well, I guess I'll have to head out to Yamada Denki sometime this week. But in the meantime, it's back to gas. And I'll have to deal with the need to call up the sodaigomi guys to have the old oven picked up. Right now, it's basically a giant clock.

Just the usual bunch this morning with The Class Act and then SIL. SIL and I were doing a bit of pop psychoanalysis since we'd discussed an article on John Lennon's brief dalliance with May Pang in the mid-70s. One topic: Did Paul McCartney have a jealous fit about Yoko Ono for stealing John? Discuss.

MB finally contacted me about catching "Cloverfield" on Sunday. Yep, the Blair Witch/Godzilla crossover hits these shores this Saturday. I sent word to Skippy and The Satyr whom I've also not seen in several weeks. And even one of the ol' Teahouse Ladies contacted me about lunch with the old crew sometime next month.