Friday, April 25, 2008

Saturday April 26, 2:08 p.m.

Just finished with the model lesson student...looks like I've got a lock on him. He's a good student. He's motivated since he's gotta go to Germany in a few months on business and he definitely needs the practice. In a way, Slim...yep, I've got him named...reminds me a bit of Medicine Man; polite and willing to work hard but kinda quiet. Speedy is already negotiating the right time and night for him. It could be tough, though, since my schedule at the school is already quite full.

It's getting rather dark out there. They were only forecasting clouds today but weather forecasters are only accurate 80% of the time at best so my laundry could end up getting a third rinse on the line. least, they're just the clothes. Still, my day is done and I can now go home for a bit of R&R. And the next day is Brozer's with Skippy and Shrek's clan.
Saturday April 26, 12:22 p.m.

Looks like the Olympic torch relay through Nagano City went through without any major hitches. Just some scuffles between the pro- and anti-China supporters and the odd brave/foolish protestor who decided to make a grab for the flame. So, business in the former Olympic city can re-open and citizens can breathe a sigh of relief. Seoul can now take on the stress.

My model lesson student is currently taking the battery of tests that is de rigueur before the model lesson can begin. So far, he's made it past the first checkpoint. He's a tall, slim and not unhandsome fellow. Speedy has assured me that his personality is quite good.

Over lunch, Speedy and I had a talk about the trials and tribulations concerning BC. She's always been a Nervous Nellie....and I know she has a slight phobia about being by herself along with her chronic underconfidence. The bossman has expressed concern about how she's gonna handle herself during his annual business trip overseas in some weeks' time. Plus, there's the fact that we, once again, are out of night staff since the ladies like The Amazon are too swamped with their day jobs to come over. So I've had to send word out to Skippy to see if she has a bit of that seemingly boundless fountain of energy left over to help us out here.

I've been catching up on "The West Wing". SkyPerfect is up to the episodes where Zoey Bartlett is about to be kidnapped. Yup, we're that far behind.

Looks like the bell is ringing for the end of the 2nd test...
Saturday April 26, 10:47 a.m.

Here to teach two...The Manhattanite and a model lesson student. My cough has still not left me, and I still sound like Brenda Vaccaro (maybe you guys over 30 might remember her).

I'm gonna have to realize that whenever Speedy states a time that he is sure to arrive at the school by, I should add 5 minutes more to get his actual arrival time.

The torch relay started in Nagano City at 8:30 this morning. Tons of security of course. Sen'ichi Hoshino, the blood n' guts manager of Japan's Olympic baseball team started things off. No problems there but when the relay hit the downtown area, some guy threw empty PET bottles at comedian Kin'ichi Hagimoto and then a few more kilometres down the line, some pro-Tibetan fellow tried to rush cute little Ai Fukuhara from the world of table tennis. Of course, before you could say "dogpile", there were more cops on that guy than Rodney King. Not sure if there have been any other attempts to disrupt the relay but I was kinda hoping that someone could've dinged something off of loudmouth ex-pro tennis player Shuzo, that guy annoys the hell out of me.

Well, as it turns out, as I was typing the above, a call came into the office and I just knew that it was a cancellation by one of the folks I was supposed to have today. The Manhattanite called in to say that she'd totally forgotten about today's lesson; apparently, she's out in the boonies somewhere. At least I still get paid and I can plan some more for this model lesson student.
Friday April 25, 6:56 p.m.

Well, a lot of my road trip turned out to be for naught. Went up to Akihabara to check out this new mall only to find out that it's really just a big building for lots of trendy restaurants. Appropriately, it's named "Chomp, Chomp!" I kinda wonder if "Cloverfield" had some influence on that choice. The other complex across the street just above the Tsukuba Express entrance also consisted of a lot of yuppie (J-yuppie? Juppie?)-friendly stores such as Book 1st and Mujirushi, and some more restaurants that I really couldn't enter in my fashion. I ended up going to Burger King again. This time it was the BK Double Bacon. Pretty hefty since I'm still really not all that hungry even now....although I did down a couple of rice balls and some peach jelly for dinner's sake.

The naught part of my road trip was that long ride on The Sobu to Musashi-Sakai, one station west of Mitaka. I looked for that miracle discount shop that The Matron had been talking about. Nice neighbourhood but couldn't find any Joshin in the immediate vicinity and since I wasn't interested in taking the bus on a wild goose chase, I just headed back to Nakano and took another walk into yesterday via the Broadway Mall. Also poked my head into Otokichi CDs which specialize in discs from the 80s and 90s. Saw some albums by Eriko Tamura, now famous in America for her portrayal of Yaeko, Hiro Nakamura's love interest in "Heroes". Masi Oka was pretty spot-on when he corrected some reports comparing Tamura to Britney Spears; instead, comparisons to Kelly Clarkson would be more accurate although I think Clarkson would still be considered pretty extreme since Tamura was very much a singer of the synth-friendly J-tunes of the late 80s. Mind you, Tamura did cause quite a ripple in a number of young boys' pants when a poster of her was released wearing just a simple white smock with a definite butt crack showing from the very low-cut back.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friday April 25, 11:02 a.m.

Back at the I-cafe that I'd used to go to...the one with the surlier staff. Unfortunately, the one that I go to now is undergoing some technical problems. Well, at least the surly lady isn't that surly today, although I'm sure she must be wondering where I've been for the past year.

Had my lessons with The Sisters of State in the Ichigaya Starbucks last night. It was packed as usual, but I did get a table within 10 minutes. For a cafe teacher, it's always good to keep one's eyes razor sharp for better seating opportunities. I was placed in between two chatty pairs and considering that The New Yorker is often mouse-quiet and still rather low in fluency, I'd thought that it was gonna be one of those struggles just to hear her out. Then, the table at the very end of the cafe opened up. It was squeezed right by the wall window overlooking the station so as soon as that was vacated, I just grabbed everything and sped over there....nonchalantly, of course, so I didn't look desperate. There is good and bad with everything...I did secure a relatively better table but I was certainly within kissing distance of the next table's occupants. Luckily, the young'uns there weren't too rowdy. And over the years, I've been able to develop a way to project my baritone softly but forcefully enough to The New Yorker. Maybe my clone, Hiro Nakamura, isn't the only J-dweeb with a power.

With both sisters, we got to talking about the newest geinojin to get their 15 minutes in the limelight. Bikini-panted Yoshio Kojima, he of the oft-used catchphrase last year of "Sonnanokankeine!" seems to be sliding off his podium and into "Where-are-they-now?" oblivion; he's not nearly so funny with proper clothes. And the S&M comedienne, Sumiko Nishioka, has started to make the transition from pin geinin to full-fledged variety-show-friendly tarento by getting out of that leather getup.
Now, the new ones to look out for is Edd Harumi, the 42-year-old woman who has gotten her gram of fame by giving Fonzie thumbs and her catchphrase "Gooooooooooooood!" She's now everywhere on the tube. Her talent agency's legal team may be hearing from The Knack soon, though, for pilfering "My Sharona" as her theme song.
Then, there's this completely retarded fellow by the name of Nabe Atsu whose whole shtick is to count from 1 to 40. But the catch is that whenever he comes to 3 and its multiples or any number that contains 3, he says them with a mix of psycho-Jerry Lewis and a sanitarium resident. I can guarantee if he lasts the year, his gag will become the party game at the year-end parties.

Today will be a road trip. After my session here, I'll be hopping the subway for Ningyocho to check out Brozer's...possibly for lunch. Skippy is good for Sunday's meet-and-greet with Shrek and his clan. I'm just going so that I'm sure I know a good meeting place for everyone. Then, it's up to Akihabara a couple of stations away to check out the newest mall opening there. The political ward boss has not so subtly been trying to rinse off Akiba's image as Geek Central (cluelessly not realizing that is the very reason for the area's upsurge in popularity) by trying to drive the otakus off the property and putting up trendoid hangouts....places that could be found anywhere else.
Then I'll be heading all the way out to Mitaka at the far end of the JR Sobu Line to check out that discount shop Joshin that The Matron had told me about. I was intrigued when she mentioned that she saw a CD player selling for just 5,000 yen. Sounds too good to be true, and probably is, but it's worth a look-see. I'll be slowly making my way back east, stopping off at of the refuges that some of the otakus are hitting after the exodus from Akiba, and taking a look at some of the old discount CD shops there before finally making my way over to Urayasu to teach Miss Disney. She'll be the only student today. As it is, it looks like Golden Week will really be quiet...the busiest day will be Monday and that's just with 3 classes. Every other day next week looks like just one lesson per.

They had live coverage of the arrival of the Olympic flame at Narita at about 6 a.m. this morning. Not sure if that is cause for celebration or fear. Nagano City is basically in lockdown. I don't think the organizers of the 1998 Winter Games had any clue that this would be happening a decade later.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thursday April 24, 2:16 p.m.

Now at the halfway point of my day. I just finished with the Speedy classes of The Nurse and The Yogist. For the latter, the chapter of discussion was on postsecondary education. I learned that the Yogist had attended the Japan Athletic University where she'd had to learn just about every sport imaginable...including sumo and rugby. Now, The Yogist is a pretty slim lass so it was awfully hard for me to imagine her in the middle of a scrum...or wearing a loincloth (gulp!) Apparently, one of her instructors in judo was a gold medalist either in Atlanta or Sydney.

I've been getting myself caught up in the world of "Heroes" so I'm now basically up to speed on all of the characters including Noah Bennett, the Horn-Rimmed-Glasses Man. And I've been finding about how the 2nd season has been a bit of a dud...but a lot of that can be blamed on the recent writers' strike. Basically, it's just the usual sophomore jinx that affects everything and everyone from baseball players to hit TV shows. Besides, "24" and "Lost" are still going strong, despite that they may have gone on a bit too long.

My cough is still residing in my throat, although it's not nearly as bad as it was last night during The Diver's lesson. I basically gave myself neckstrain from the hacking expectoration.
Thursday April 24, 9:48 a.m.

A misty day to start off on. Another early one due to The Nurse, so it was another McMuffin morning. Not too many people at The Golden Arches, though. A fairly normal day...have The Nurse and The Yogist at the school and then The Sisters of State for the evening.

Nagano City is bracing for the arrival of the Olympic Torch on Saturday morning. Usually such an event would be heralded with an air of excitement but due to recent geopolitical controversies, the authorities are treating it with a sense of trepidation and high security. The government has even gotten the local hoteliers to keep on the lookout for suspicious types. The main temple, whose monks had decided to rescind their invitation to have the torch start the relay there, got the graffit treatment from either an opportunistic punk or an ultra rightwinger or perhaps even a disgruntled Chinese student.
Wednesday April 23, 10:09 p.m.

Still decompressing after the two classes. Not that they were bad or anything...001 was her usual delightful self and The Diver was doing quite well. But it's kinda like getting home after may be late but I still don't really want to hit the hay just quite yet. After the 2 classes and still fighting a cough, I have no immediate desire to hit the road for home quite yet as well.

Just picked up another model lesson for Saturday after The Manhattanite. Apparently, the fellow is a lowbie who has to get his fluency in high gear for a mid-July trip to Germany on business. Rather intense, if he does indeed to choose us for his school. As for next Wednesday, it looks like it'll be another slow night. I've only got The Diver on the schedule thus far; 001 will be having a day off.
Wednesday April 23, 4:33 p.m.

A good ol' Spring day today. Up to 21 C, at the very least. Hump Day is back to a Pimple Day since I've only got 001 and The Diver tonight. Just watched The Pennsylvania Primary on CNN; as expected, Hillary won over Barack so it looks even more likely that it may take the Democratic Convention in August to finally decide things. One of the pundits came up with an interesting thought: the longer the decision takes to be made, the more likely that it'll have to be a Clinton-Obama ticket.

I guess it must not be a good time to be a CNN staffer. Jack Cafferty is Public Enemy No. 1 in China, Richard Quest gets caught with crystal meth and some sort of sex aid on his person in Central Park, and now I hear that newly-acquired Tony Snow...formerly of Fox News, formerly Bush's Press Secretary...had to be rushed off to hospital. Hmm...has Larry King been checked recently?

Last night at the juku, Jolly finally did show up after 5 weeks away. By the end of the session, I was kinda wondering if he should've even bothered coming at all. He was pretty listless at the end of the class. But he and his girl will be heading off to Kyushu for a bit of pre-GW vacation. At the same time, The Ace and his significant other will be going to Australia. As for me, it'll be the usual stay-at-home avoiding the crowds at Narita and saving money. The boss got back from seeing "Man of La Mancha" feeling pretty satisfied; Koshiro Matsumoto as Don Quixote was excellent (as he would be after thousands of performances of the same character), but the revelation to the boss was his daughter, pop singer/actress Takako Matsu, as one of the other characters. My impression was that the boss hadn't been too impressed with Takako's singing career thus far but apparently her performance last night showed that she'd been hitting the voice lessons really hard.

Yup, it looks like it'll be Shrek and his family for Sunday's visit to Brozers, but Skippy will also be joining us. She's the one who got me going to this burger place in the first place. Glad that she's coming not least for the fact that she's the only one who remembers where to meet in Ningyocho. I asked MB and The Satyr but MB has already got plans and I have yet to hear from The Satyr.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday April 22, 9:10 p.m.

Well, so far, I haven't heard any breathless phone calls from Jolly saying that he'll have to cancel, so I guess I'll be expecting the big guy shortly. The Milds made it here as usual. Mr. Mild will be having his debut as a yoga guy next Tuesday. I wished him luck...he gave me a rather rueful smile.

And here I thought Jack Cafferty was having his problems. A fiction writer with a mean streak couldn't have made this one up. Richard Quest, the uber-Brit CNN commentator, has gotten himself in a moral morass when he got picked up in New York City with some drugs, a noose around his neck and his privates, and a sex toy in his car. Oooooooookay....I can assume that this won't make it onto the next episode of "Quest". Well, I hope wherever he ends up, I hope it's profitable in a spiritual way. It's a foregone conclusion that we won't be seeing him anytime soon on the screen. Kinda too bad...his near-Pythonesque delivery will be missed.
Tuesday April 22, 7:31 p.m.

Jack Cafferty! You just managed to piss off 25% of humanity. What are you gonna do next? You ain't going to Hong Kong Disneyland, that's for sure.

Sorry...couldn't resist that one.

Finished off with Suzanne just now. She's a good student...we tackled some TOEIC Reading. There is stuff in there that we can help her with. The only thing is that the juku will be off on GW holidays for the next 2 Tuesdays. Rather unprecedented since Tuesdays have never been off nights for me. Only have The Milds and Jolly tonight.

Then, tomorrow could be the death knell for the one known as Hillary. But again I may be jumping the gun considerably since Pennsylvania should be her territory. However, as this battle for the Democratic nominee keeps slogging farther and farther ahead, I keep thinking that the likelihood of John McCain becoming the next President gets higher and higher.
Tuesday April 22, 4:12 p.m.

Managed to survive the busiest Monday of the year last night, although there was a bit of an overlap between The Bostonian and Medicine Man. My voice got a bit ragged but not nearly as bad as losing it completely last week.

I only had Mrs. Alp and Mrs Travel for The Beehive this morning. Looks like Kyoto was once again the topic of discussion. Nice enough place to visit in the Spring and Autumn but a place to avoid in the Summer due to the searing temperatures. I had lunch at a family restaurant at the top of a department store in Funabashi. I hadn't had a hambaagu teishoku in some time so I decided to go for that. A bit chintzy but it fit the bill OK.

I saw 002 for the first time in 3 weeks. It looks like she was going through the same Hell that I was last week with a lousy cold. Also, she had to tackle the events surrounding her grandmother's death earlier this year which didn't help her condition any. As it turns out, the next two Tuesdays will be national holidays bookending Golden Week so again there will be another 3-week absence although 002 was hinting that it may be even longer since her schedule has changed once more. As for The Beehive, the ladies there may ask for one of the two holidays as a special class. As of today, I came off the debtors' prison since I paid off the entire advance from their contribution to my rent situation back in February. I'll be most grateful in getting paid again.

It's just me at the juku right now. It must truly be Spring...the upstairs is feeling mighty warm. The boss is off with her cronies watching "Man of La Mancha" starring Koshiro Matsumoto, one of Japan's finest stage actors. One of her young charges accidentally came by, forgetting about the schedule change today. I, though, will have a typical slate of Suzanne, The Milds and Jolly. The boss left a note saying that he would actually show up but I'll believe it when he actually does so. Mild Jr. is off today due to more training in his new job.

It looks like it'll just be me and Shrek for that jaunt to Brozers on Sunday. I may ask Skippy to liven things up a bit but we are entering Golden Week so I'm not sure if she and some of the others will already be heading out to parts unknown for vacation.

I asked The Full-Timer about how things are at her new company of Delta Airlines after the big merger announcement last week. She said that there was some tension but nothing too worrying.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday April 21, 4:36 p.m.

In the middle of one hell of a Monday schedule. I've finished with The Class Act and SIL and now I face The Full-Timer back at smoke-ridden Doutors (too bad that new cafe won't pan out as an option) before racing back for a threesome in the form of The Tippler, The Bostonian and Medicine Man. My voice is still not in the best of shape; I can only hope that it'll do better than it did last Monday.

On Saturday, I was somewhat disappointed with Tully & The Coffeemaker. Neither of them did any prep work so basically the lesson was just doiong the homework in class. Not the most exciting of classes but hey they need to know that they have to put in their effort as well.

Then it was down to Yurakucho for that class reunion of sorts with The Teahouse Ladies. It was at a Southeast Asian buffet restaurant called Bali Hai in the Ginza Inz complex. It'd been 5 years since I met all of them together, although The Operator and The Flautist hung in with me for an extra year after The Argentinian had left with her husband to Evita's homeland. It was kinda like old times with us gabbing like we did in the erstwhile Tea Room up in Ichigaya. But The Flautist is now a married woman though she still has that slight sassiness to her. The Operator was still giggly as ever. Of course, we all talked about the old days back at the ol' school and how everyone there was doing.

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. I saw the last quarter of episodes from Season 1 of "Heroes" on Super Drama TV. Yep, it was good but I don't think it has quite made the splash that folks over here had been hoping for. Maybe one thing is that Masi Oka, James Kyson Lee and George Takei just mangle the Japanese language, but then again that's why they can just switch to the Japanese dubbing.