Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday May 2, 6:30 p.m.

At the's just spritzing right now. Although the umbrellas are up, I haven't put up mine. In my hemisphere, we don't bother with the brolleys when it's merely spritzing. It's simply not Canadian.

Well, the boss told me to expect a new student with The Milds come the 13th. This, considering that Mrs. Mild is pretty skittish about newcomers and that they're well into the 2nd half of the text. At least, I can warn The Milds about the new guy next Tuesday. Speaking of them, I wonder how Mr. Mild did at his trial yoga lesson on Tuesday.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Friday May 2, 3:40 p.m.

It's fairly warm out there but overcast and some dribs and drabs of precip. May need to bring out the brolley by the time the juku comes about. I've got 2 classes tonight...Miss Disney and then The Ace who has come back from Australia. He should have some interesting stories for me tonight.

Yesterday I pulled the trigger and bought the new microwave and vacuum from Yamada Denki. The oven was just a bit over 10,000 yen ($100 CDN). Unlike my old one, it doesn't have a clock but it promises a bit more flexibility in what it can do. The new vacuum cleaner is a standup number with a collapsible handle and cyclone-like pickup system. And it doesn't smell whenever it's in operation. Unfortunately, with the old vacuum which I'd had for well over a decade, the last time I watered down the filters, a permanent stink was left with them. I had the new oven delivered this morning, and they kindly took away the old oven. No major recipes are in store for today and tomorrow but I may try something out on Sunday....provided I have the funds.

I watched the DVD of "The Bourne Ultimatum" last night. Although I did see it at the theatre last year, it still packs quite a thrill on the small screen. I checked out the deleted scenes as well. Yup, I can see why they were taken out. I also listened to my other purchase, Jane Monheit's "Surrender". Very soothing music....good for the dinner table with a glass of wine.

Not too soothing out there, though. The gas rates went up and apparently, there was quite a hew and cry in The Diet over the bill to pass it. There was the usual literal scrum in chambers, although the Japanese will never come close to the major fisticuffs in Korea and Taiwan. However, some news coming out is that the former Minister of Defense in the defunct Abe Cabinet, Yuriko Koike, may be getting groomed to take over for politically ailing PM Fukuda by LDP sage, Hidenao Nakagawa. We may yet see the first female summit between the United States and Japan in the near future.

"The Prisoner", that weird countercultural British sci-fi series from the late 60s with the notoriously cranky Patrick McGoohan, is back on SkyPerfect. I saw the pilot ep yesteday. It was one of the first TV shows that I remember seeing as a child...a mere tot, actually. Of course, I had no idea what it was all about back then, but I knew I was pretty scared by the big white bouncing ball, Rover. Rover, along with Balok from "Star Trek" (who always popped up as the final freeze frame during the end credits), were the two images that would have me scurrying into the sofa. It's a bit eerie now as well since I'd made a reference to the show a few days ago in an entry without knowing of its return.

And speaking of weird, I can now understand why many a Japanophile author always refer to their adored adopted land as one of paradoxes. I was having lunch in a Japanese-style family restaurant having Japanized western food of Tatsuta-fried chicken and croquettes while the theme song from "Dallas" was playing as the Muzak. One piece of rumoured trivia about that show when it came to Japan. Apparently, one of the most popular dramas in the 80s back Stateside, it never managed to do well here just because Charlene Tilton's character always laughed out loud without covering her mouth....very crude manners...back then. Nowadays, a girl would be seen as a fossil if she did cover her mouth while laughing.

Well, officially, we'll be entering Golden Week from tomorrow although some lucky ones started from the beginning of the week. For me, I've got three whole days of nada. Just gonna cocoon but I do have the juku classes on Tuesday although it is a national holiday.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thursday May 1, 11:48 a.m.

I see that May Day has arrived. Still very pleasant out there. Apparently, back in the Big Smoke, The Anime King reports that the temps there dropped below zero. In a city where I've seen it snow in May, nothing surprises me there meterologically.

Apparently, those supposedly hard-to-unload Mogu dolls have gone like hotcakes. Speedy was somewhat surprised to say that the whole litter of them may be given away by nightfall. I'll probably give California Girl my doll if she really wants one. She's been busy over there on the West Coast whipping a soundtrack for some indie movie. Amazing where some folks' careers go.

Did the books last night just before bedtime. Was a bit disappointed that I didn't save nearly as much as I did last month, but last month was a bit of a fluke in any case. However, message received...will have to be more austere this time. As I usually do, I am dreading the arrival of the premium schedules for NHI and City Tax.

The blockbuster season starts up in America today. "Iron Man" gets its launch; I've been hearing that it's a good, not great, superhero flick. What makes it good is Robert Downey Jr. The Little Tramp becomes Shellhead. I've been reading my issue of "Total Film" with the cover story of the return of Indiana Jones. Should be a great summer...Indy's coming over here on June 21st.

And Ja-a-a-a-a-ck Nicholson made his presence known yesterday here to campaign for his movie with Morgan Freeman. He was his usual smirking self.

Well, I'll be heading home in a few minutes to get some household stuff such as buying a microwave and picking up the cleaning. It'll be a nice switch from teaching.
Wednesday April 30, 9:43 p.m.

Finished up with The Diver about half an hour ago. She was her slightly timid self but did pretty well with the Simple Present. She's off for a bit of diving off of Izu-Oshima during the Golden Week weekend. That's what she lives for. I wasn't quite able to foist one of our dolls on her but Speedy was able to get two onto his student, and Skippy has shown interest. I've sent over pics as a courtesy.

I have gotten yet another Facebook friend in the form of California Girl from the ol' school. I've only seen her sporadically in the past number of years since obviously she's put up stakes in The Golden State. She's an old compadre of SR who introduced me to The Carolinan who introduced me to The New Yorker and BC. And SR also introduced The Full-Timer as well, so I'm quite indebted to her. In any case, California Girl has become the 2nd one from the old school to join the harem of Facebook friends. I've even asked her if she would like a doll from Polygons.

Well, I'll be heading home in about 10 minutes since I'll be back here in less than 12 hours to teach The Nurse. Looks like my May will be even busier since I'll be taking over some of Speedy's students during his long business trip. The money will be nice to have although Mom might be wondering what my students are putting me through.
Wednesday April 30, 7:27 p.m.

Well, I just read off the CNN homepage that the entire family that had been under the domination by that psychopath in Austria finally met all together. Man, that must've been one awkward Brady Bunch moment.

Just finished my dinner of salad, apple/mango juice and fruit-n'-whipped cream filled cake. Not all that nutritious but I'm sure I'll be paying for my culinary sins shortly. A combination isn't ingested without consequences but they should be happening before The Diver comes in about an hour. Speaking of students, Slim has just come in to sign his contract with us here at the school. Very well turned out and polite. I don't see too many like him nowadays but I'm starting to talk like an old man.

During my dinner, Speedy, BC and I were just gabbing about where all the Canadian-themed restaurants in Tokyo have gone. Not that they were like McDonalds in terms of omnipresence but I do remember The Maple Leaf (finally found out from sources that it was the classic case of a rogue partner taking off with the funds) which met its demise a year ago. There is Homeworks which is a place owned/founded by a Canuck which is located somewhere in the Ebisu/Hiroo area. And Fujimamas, the joint in the midst of Omotesando, is run by a Canadian but the fare there is about as Canadian as a pinata. Mind you, Homeworks does have the Canadian Thanksgiving stuff. Still, it would be nice to have a bit of the Yukon in Tokyo again along with NHL games and poutine. But if possible, I would prefer not to have Labatts at 1,000 yen a head.

We were also comparing McDonalds and Burger King. I found out that the bossman is a regular at BK while I seem to be the resident champion for The Golden Arches....although I will be happy to get my share of Whoppers. The two of us educated young BC on the differences between plain frying and flame-broiling. And BC got her acceptance at that Vancouver college starting in September. Most likely, then, the lass will head off to The Great White North in early July. So, in 2 months, we'll have to be searching for yet another new assistant. This is starting to look like the running gag from "Murphy Brown"....or perhaps, "The Prisoner" ("Who are you?....I'm the new Number 2.").

Looks like another one-gag tarento has been hitting the airwaves pretty hard. And this one is a complete fruit loops. Her name is Miyuki Torii and her schtick is to come out in her pyjamas and start flailing away like a maniac scarecrow while screaming some sort of nonsense. I did see her once over the Holidays on one of the comedy specials; luckily, I haven't been exposed to her since then...until this morning on a TV wide show. Apparently, the woman is married...can't really qualify it more than that.
Wednesday April 30, 4:51 p.m.

The last day of the month has taken on very summery tendencies. It's the first day for me to go out without a jacket, the first day that the subways have turned on the fans, and the first day that I've actually built up a sweat walking in the city. It should stay that way for the rest of Golden Week.

Yesterday, I actually didn't purchase the microwave. I did a bit of comparison shopping so I'll do the nasty tomorrow instead. I also have to get a vacuum cleaner as well. However, Yamada Denki does sell a stand-up one for a mere 3,000 yen. Actually, some pretty decent deals can be had if you're not looking for appliances that could do everything but mate with you.

Basically, took it easy yesterday on Showa Day which was the birthday of the previous venerable Japanese Emperor, Hirohito. It should've been renamed Gas Day since that seemed to have been the most popular commodity since the taxes will be going up as of tomorrow. I just watched "Goldmember" on DVD, the last of the three Austin Powers movies. Pretty good although the end kinda sagged a bit. And it is notable for showing a couple of future "Heroes" actors...Masi Oka and Greg Grunberg. I regret not having seen the opening credits with a movie audience. I also caught the 2nd-last episode of Season 4 of "The West Wing" where the last few seconds showed Leo McGarry atypically running to breathlessly tell President Bartlett that Zoe has been kidnapped. Somewhere up there, Mrs. Landingham must've been pouting, "He never ran to the President when I died two seasons ago." Next week, we get to see Jed activate the 25th Amendment and hand the keys to Roseanne's hubby.

Today being the last day of the month, I went for broke and paid off all the bills. And I decided to give myself a little treat by activating the HMV Gold Card and making quite a few purchases such as the latest issue of "Total Film", "The Bourne Ultimatum" and a couple of CDs from different is of the dance music consortium, M-Flo, and their best-of disc, and the other is of jazz chanteuse, Jane Monheit.

I bought the HMV stuff at the Sukibayashi branch just across from Yurakucho Mullion so I had lunch in the neighbourhood. I tried out "The Siam" on the 2nd floor of Ginza Inz 1, not to be mistaken for Bali Hai, the place that I had lunch with the Teahouse Ladies a couple of weeks back. I'm not sure if this "Siam" was the same, recently closed "Siam" formerly on the southwest corner of Ginza 4-chome. It probably wasn't since I wasn't too thrilled with the setup inside. The food was OK but I had to slip off my shoes and share my place with others. For a guy my size, trying to sit down in a pit between other customers is kinda like parallel parking a semi between a Lincoln Continental and a has to be done carefully. And then since I'm not a real meet-n'-greet guy, I had to keep my eyes down since just within breathing distance across from me, there was a woman munching away. I just knew she was a woman; didn't know if she were old, young, middle-aged, pretty, pretty homely...nothing. Just did my three rounds at the buffet table and then got out of there...not exactly conducive to solo eating. Couples or trios would enjoy it better.

I tried to walk off some of the calories by walking around the Itocia complex in Yurakucho. Krispy Kreme No. 2 in the basement still had a lengthy lineup but not nearly as ridiculous as when it opened up about a year ago. Then I saw one of those campaign vans in front of the Mullion Clock, one of Tokyo's famous landmarks. There was a familiar face in the form of a female pol exhorting the audience about the soundness of the Japan Socialist Party's platform. I could recognize her but couldn't come up with the name. Just walked over to the other major CD outlet, Yamano Music. The store had one of its frequent jazz disc sales out in front and I took a listen to some of the old PSY-S discs from 20 years ago at the listening post before listening to Mami "Chaka" Yasunori (the lead singer of the band) in her current job as jazz singer. There is a definite change in her voice to go with the obvious change in genre. Chaka used to have this powerful chipmunk sound to go with her partner's techno music. Now, she's taken on the usual huskiness of a chanteuse.

Made it back here to Speedy's. I just have The Diver tonight and then I gotta rush back here for the lone class in the morning with The Nurse. Then, it's to give away my hard-earned yen for the microwave and vacuum. 002 finally sent a message over...looks like I'll be able to see her at the regular time on Tuesdays after all...for May at least.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday April 28, 10:37 p.m.

Finished up with Medicine Man just now. Surprisingly, he did accept one of the many dolls we have in that huge cardboard box. I think this is the first time I've ever made a referral on this blog, but if you wanna look at the samples of what Speedy and I are in possession of, you can check out . You'll see the cuter dolls there, not the ones that we got saddled with. But the dolls we have...known as MegaMi...aren't that bad-looking. And they have that sand in them which makes them eminently huggable....even though they've been compared to Japanese comedic duo, OgiYahagi, known for their wearing of horn-rimmed glasses; perhaps the two could be a fusion of Hiro Nakamura and Noah Bennett on "Heroes". Well, I'll be taking my MegaMi home tonight where he'll become my bedmate in lieu of anyone cuddlier and more female.

Monday April 28, 7:53 p.m.

My 2,222th entry. I wonder if I should become one of The Knights of Ni (that's a Monty Python joke and a pun on the Japanese word for "2" at the same time...anything for good Anglo-Japanese relations).

Despite dousing my person with the bottle of Febreeze in the school lobby, I still smell of smoke from Doutors after teaching The Full-Timer. Looks like she's been through the wringer yet again due to the strangeness of her section's manager. She's been checking out the want ads for a future position. I did mention to her about our need here at Speedy's for some night staff but she politely didn't address the issue and just said that she'll try and pass the request along. Skippy did the same thing yesterday. The Full-Timer told me that she and her mother would try for a small trip to Korea sometime this week for a bit of the fine cuisine there as well as bringing back a bit of sanity into her life.

Speedy apparently got a huge box of these free MOGU dolls, courtesy of Polygons Inc. These dolls are filled with some sort of artificial sand which convey a certain pleasant feeling while holding them...hopefully in a platonic sense. I've already sent word to Skippy who seems to be one of those cheerfully in thrall to her pop culture. I'll be taking one home and I'll probably send one over to my niece.

I've only got Medicine Man before I finish the day, and he's 90 minutes away. I'll have plenty of time to munch down on my dinner and do a bit more surfing on the Net. I've been reading about that real-life horror tale in Austria concerning that psychopath who managed to keep his daughter penned up in his basement for nearly a quarter-century. He has confessed to this most horrible of sins. The one child who did die from his grotesque mating between him and his girl was burned in an oven. I would say that after his trial, he ought to be thrown into a giant microwave.

Over here, it's...luckily, I guess...the more mundane matter of realizing that gas prices will finally be going up on May 1st. So, the pundits say that tomorrow, April 30th, will see the mothers of all lineups at the gas stations nationwide since it is the last national holiday before the turn of the month. I wonder if the gas station beside my Daiei will have a queue longer than the one at Krispy Kreme. I am so happy that I don't own a car in this country.
Monday April 28, 5:27 p.m.

During the commutes to and from work, my current book has been Joseph Heller's "Closing Time". It's basically the sequel to "Catch-22" and has a few of the characters from the original such as Yossarian and Minderbender. I do remember seeing a bit of the movie version of "Catch-22" on TV once with Alan Arkin and Tony Perkins. The guy who gave me the book, a former teacher at the ol' school, told me that it wasn't easy to get into but that it should get pretty satisfying as I go through the pages. Well, so far so not. It just seems to echo Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros" in zaniness and at one point it not only reminded me of "Dr. Strangelove" but it actually used the man's name. Not exactly light reading.

Over the weekend, I did listen to a couple of discs that I hadn't listened to in some time. One was Swingout Sister's "It's Better to Travel", the trio's inaugural album. A few of the tunes have that dated 80s synth sound but the disc still does have that classic "Breakout" which was used in one of the Softbank phone commercials with Cameron Diaz. Then it was Billy Joel's "The Nylon Curtain", also from the 80s. Kinda reminded me of David Bowie's "Let's Dance" in setup; all of the album's big hits are in the first half. "Pressure" and "Allentown" are classics with the latter being a particular karaoke favourite...well, to me anyways. And it seems that Billy was doing his monomane bit again...this time with The Beatles being their target in "Laura" and "Where's the Orchestra?", compared when he was mimicking The Rolling Stones in "It's All Rock N' Roll To Me" in "Glass Houses" a couple of years back. "The Nylon Curtain" is also notable in that Joel talks about some of the handwringing issues of those days such as Vietnam; in the same year, Donald Fagin released another timeless classic, "The Nightfly", a slightly ironic but hopeful theme album about a utopian America in the late 50s.
Monday April 26, 4:45 p.m.

Well, into the holiday week. Today will probably be the busiest day this GW...known as the O-type Golden Week since Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are considered regular days between the holiday Tuesday of Showa Day (after Emperor Hirohito's B-day) and then all those other holidays starting from Saturday. The rest of the week will just see either singles and one double lesson day on Friday at the juku.

Yesterday I met up with Shrek and his family along with Skippy for that lunch at Brozer's, one of Tokyo's famed burger joints. Not surprisingly, there was a 20-minute wait until we could get in. But that was no problem with us. Skippy, with her effervescence, was able to chat up everybody. I remarked first off to Shrek that Skippy had a natural knack for connecting with kids, and Shrek's son was no exception. She had him eating out of her hand in no time. We were also doing the same since she kindly gave us some confections that she'd bought in Ginza before coming here. She was dressed curiously in a pretty fancy way, though. I asked her what the big deal was and she answered that it was for the shopping in Ginza, but I'm kinda wondering if there had been something else involved. Meanwhile, the rest of us were mulling over the menu about which burger to order since the variety at Brozer's is rather generous, to say the least.

I ended up having the Double Cheeseburger. Skippy remarked that I changed my order from the Bacon Cheeseburger. She's got a better tag on my eating record than I do since I had no memory about what kind of burger I'd eaten last time several months ago. Skippy herself went for the Chili Dog as a change of pace. When the waiter brought it, it looked like those chili dogs I'd eaten back in university. The dog wasn't totally smothered in chili beans and sauce, but there was a pretty sizable mound on top. The Shrek clan was quite satisfied with the results although the son was more into the fries than the burger itself. Afterwards, we went over to the nearby Excelsior Coffee for a bit of java and to talk about the old times back in Toronto. Skippy announced that she would be heading for San Francisco and Seattle to see friends there in early July.

Well, the early morning news shows on Sunday were abuzz with analysts about the now-infamous Olympic torch relay through Nagano City. Yep, there was some pushing and shoving along with some words thrown about in anger, and even a few folks who just needed to grab the flame. But then again, the usual Hockey Night in Canada telecast has that in spades. And we were quite lucky here when compared to Seoul. There was quite a bit more of the disruption there.

The more disturbing news is about the fact that there have been around 50 suicides nationwide in the last four months thanks to cyanide poisoning. The shocker is that the victims could get it easily over the counter at the local drug store. And to add further insult to injury, the successful suicide attempts managed to pull in peripheral victims in the form of apartment neighbours who unfortunately got the whiff of the vapours.

But nothing has topped the news so far this week than that horrifying case of the father/grandfather in Austria who had kept his daughter chained up in his basement for 24 years and bore 7 children by her. This would have been treated like another one of those National Enquirer articles...unfortunately, it's all true.

I've only got three lessons today. I finished up with SIL this afternoon. We spoke on the above news reports and worked on the article concerning the court case involving J.K. Rowling and that guy who just wanted to produce that Harry Potter Encyclopedia. Earlier, I got a chance to walk around Ameyoko, the marketplace in Ueno. Pretty fascinating place to peruse at length. Lots of stalls with gravelly-voiced hawkers selling their wares of fresh fish and vegetables. And then there are the small shops with perfumes and fake jewelry. I also caught a sign for an Indian restaurant called Mantra with a lunch buffet. It used to be the Maharajah. In any case, I'll have to check it out for good curry.

I found out that it might be just Speedy and me tonight. BC has called in sick. I've only got The Full-Timer and then Medicine Man. It is payday today; I was able to make a goodly sum this month so it'll be time to grab that new microwave tomorrow...if Yamada Denki is open tomorrow.