Friday, May 16, 2008

Saturday May 17, 2:29 p.m.

Finished off the two lessons. The Businesswoman had a good business trip to Atlanta although she had to go through the ordeal of traveling in a plane back to Narita during a of my biggest fears of flying since that arrival I had to endure back on September 11, 2001. Yep, that 9/11. In both her and my cases, there was a lusty round of applause when the plane finally hit the runway. As for Slim, back on Wednesday just after my lesson with him, he actually helped out a foreigner at the station who needed to get to a station. Somehow, he was able to help the man out despite my student's limited English which left both people feeling pretty good.

Speedy took the news about me not being able to teach The Manhattanite and Mr. TOEIC on the 24th in good stride, as he usually does. We're seeing what the 31st sounds like for both students.

Did a bit more digging about that Huckabee gaffe at the NRA meeting. After checking out what the former Arkansas governor had truly said, yep....that was a really idiotic thing to say. He did apologize for it, though. Not sure if Jack Cafferty will forgive him but then again, he had to suffer the ignominy of having one of his superiors apologize for him to the entire country of China for what he had said about them several weeks ago. I wonder if Jack is really sorry about his comments and whether that superior and him had a few words for each other before airtime.

Well, just hanging about for another half hour or so before I head on back home.

Ahhh...did want to say that I enjoyed "Last Destination" for the first time back on Thursday night. I had just come back home from that first lesson with The Temp when I turned on the TV and saw that first victim being garroted in the bathroom by Death. I'm not a huge horror fan per se, but I actually saw the movie as more of a thriller/suspense than an out-and-out horror. Some pretty fun ways to die. And there was Ali Larter as a young co-ed before she became the household word she is now.
Saturday May 17, 10:28 a.m.

Back here at the school. I've got The Businesswoman and then Slim for two. Speedy has asked me to squeeze a couple of more oldtimers for next week's slot: The Manhattanite and then Mr. TOEIC. Unfortunately, I'm gonna have to turn him down since I've already got one with Tully & The Coffeemaker although if last month's lesson was any indication, it might be time for my privates and me to part ways. However, I'll see how the bossman reacts...I did say that I would be open from 11 to 5 three Saturdays a month.

Man, it almost felt like I was watching ol' Lou Dobbs' show on "The Situation Room" this morning. First, John Edwards starts acting like a potential VP candidate for Barack Obama (though he maintains that he wouldn't accept the invitation again) and pounces like a Rottweiler on President Bush. And then grumbly Jack goes medieval on Mike Huckabee's butt (deservedly) for a lame joke that he had made at the NRA. I would have to side with Jeff Toobin, though, that Jack Cafferty didn't really to call the former Republican Presidential candidate an idiot-for-life (yes, I know, I know...Jack didn't say that exactly but the sentiment was evident in his voice). I've got a feeling that the curmudgeon has more things to say about Mike than he's letting on.

Speaking of ol' Lou, now that we here in Japan don't get to watch him anymore, I sometimes do miss his tirades beginning with "What in the world....!" and "The idea....!" Mind you, Kristi Lu Stout is much easier on the eyes, though.

Got a request from my brother for Mom when she gets back here next Friday. Apparently, my niece is looking for some cute bunny slippers. No better place than this country to find them.
Friday May 16, 8:20 p.m.

Basically a day off today. Just The Ace in 40 minutes and that is all she will write. I spent the whole day catching up on some needed sleep and then listening to music.

Last night, I had The Temp for her first official lesson. It was a Starbucks lesson in Shinjuku. She's one of those folks who is frustratingly in the middle. Her comprehension and pronounciation are quite good, and grammar is solidly intermediate but she's also underconfident which wrecks her fluency. I could do a lot better with her if I had her in a classroom. However, we did get a bit of excitement near the end of the lesson from a woman who suddenly "Urusaiiii!" (SHUT THE F**K UP!) and then stormed out of the place. At first, I'd thought that the time had finally come for a coffee drinker to protest English teaching in coffeehouses, but actually one of the baristas had approached her politely that the place was closing when she snapped. Not unduly surprised...a lot of kooks and angry people hang about Shinjuku. Although The Temp said that she would like to change the venue since the place closed up a bit too early, I kinda wonder if the angry woman had kinda spooked her out.

Mom called to say that she was enjoying her time in Osaka with the relatives. And she said that she would be returning next Friday...a whole week from now. This, considering that for weeks before the trip, she was griping about trying not to stay any longer than possible in the Kansai. "Meiwaku kaketaku no wa yada!" was her mantra (I hate having to be a burden!). Well, I guess having to be cooped up in my apartment by herself for one day showed her the errors of her thinking. Plus, I don't have to worry about her being in my apartment alone.

The big news tonight was that a Disaster Relief Team from Japan has reached Sichuan Province, the site of that M7.9 earthquake. Nothing but horrors there. That government policy of one child per family has had terrible consequences.

Recently, I've been noticing that there has been a lot of bird poop ending up on the ground outside of my building and some more on my outside washing machine and balcony railing. Either one of the crows is having a bad case of Montezuma's Revenge, or there may be an infestation of birds in progress. I've seen cases of these horrible bird swarms in places like Fukuoka and even in nearby Tsudanuma where literally thousands of the flying rats take up roost in the trees and use the neighbourhood as their toilets.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday May 15, 4:18 p.m.

In the middle of a lull in the action between The Yogist and The Dentist. The Yogist was fun as usual...she's a real free spirit; kinda wonder if she would've loved being at Woodstock. In any case, she's got her 2nd test as a student here.

The juku boss told me that Miss Disney has cancelled her lesson for tomorrow which means that I've got a grand total of 30 minutes' worth of teaching time with The Ace. Nothing against The Ace, of course, but geez, a half an hour's worth of class?! It's quite a switch when compared to the scrums of Monday and yesterday.

As mentioned, I've got The Dentist for the first time since February. I have a feeling that a quarter of the lesson at least will be spent on re-acquainting ourselves. Then, I gotta rush off to that Starbucks where I'd once taught Jazz Buddy to start work on The Temp. However, I have sort of feeling that that branch closes up pretty early. In any case, I hope it isn't too crowded in there; it's not one of the largest cafes. The old Starbucks in Toranomon where I'd once taught The OL and the UL for some years was the biggest one for me.

That Chianti place next door to us has finally re-opened after a couple of months in limbo. Looks like they've gone completely Italian now. I didn't see that burger that they had used to sell. It was probably the biggest of the burgers I'd seen in Tokyo, but I guess that was its downfall. Noone except Speedy and myself probably dared to order it.

After that inaugural with The Temp, I'm done. I'll get home by 9 but it will still be the earliest I've been home all week. I'm feeling the sleep catching up to me, so I'm grateful that I'll be able to catch up on it tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thursday May 15, 12:07 p.m.

Ugh!...can't believe we've already arrived at the middle of the month. Things are warmer, though, than they were up to last night. 001 was her usual jolly self...both Speedy and I talked to her about her upcoming trip to the Middle East in the Fall with Speedy showing her some of the pics from his vacation in Dubai last year. I joked to her that I don't want to see her and her friends' pictures on an NHK bulletin. Unfortunately, since that little kidnapping (which was resolved happily thankfully) of a couple of Japanese women there last week, the joke can become all too real.

The Diver was less angsty than last week but she still has her underconfidence issues. And Slim has been proceeding apace. He's gonna end up having 10 lessons in his first month here. That's dedication!

Well, when it rains, it pours for Hillary. Barely a day after she's taken some solace from her overwhelming win in West Virginia on Tuesday night, John Edwards goes off and endorses Barack. And to add insult to injury, CNN pre-empts her interview with Wolf to make that endorsement announcement. The timing couldn't have been random. Barack's minders were not gonna give Mrs. Clinton any breathing room and the announcement and subsequent official endorsement by Edwards made that interview look nearly concessionary. I'm currently thinking of Off-Course's "Sayonara" as I type this up. However, the die-hard supporters of Hillary must be absolutely livid at the media....months ago, FOX and CNN were cloaking her in the mantle of inevitability, and now it seems that they're ready to put the rose and headstone on top of her political grave.
Wednesday May 14, 5:06 p.m.

Back at the school smelling a mix of tobacco, coffee and Febreeze (the last one was voluntarily added). Yes, I'm back from teaching The New Yorker. We were back at the Tully's and we were down in the dungeon of cigarettes. There was one of those rumpled salarymen (definitely not a 1st-year) a few tables down smoking away, but as soon as I started bantering away in English, he rather huffily took off (as have many a coffee drinker in previous visits); as usual, I just flipped him the bird under the table.

The New Yorker and her sister, The Carolinan, had caught Blue Man Group during Golden Week in Roppongi, replete with all of the ponchos and flying paint and bananas. Still, The New Yorker thought that her first sight of them back in The Big Apple a decade ago was somewhat more thrilling; the far more reactive audience back Stateside was the key...kinda like having a sandwich with far better bread. Also, I'd asked her about the big M6.8 quake last week since she was far closer to the epicentre than I was, and my apartment was throwing CDs around then. She said that she clutched her doggie and just waited it out.

Got back to get a barrage of questions from BC about when The Manhattanite could next have her lesson with me. We've had to run through the scheduling land mine due to our conflicting agendas. However, I will be seeing The Dentist for the first time in a few months tomorrow just before my first official lesson with The Temp, BC's old colleague.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wednesday May 13, 12:03 p.m.

The Nurse was a bit on the spacey side or she was just having an off day in terms of English proficiency this morning. Still, I managed to hand her the test for the first 3 chapters. BC is back; she seems to be back to her usual self...she says that she's calmed down. Ah, we are content.
Wednesday May 14, 9:46 a.m.

Looks like more students are piling onto my schedule at Speedy's since the bossman will be going on his business trip. I've got The Magician now. The rain has been coming down and it's still pretty wet...not exactly conducive to a happier state of mind. Speaking of which, Speedy informed me that BC had one of those crying jags again, is this girl really ready to study overseas? Speedy has pretty much given up since she'll probably be leaving us in June.

Got the call from Mom last night that she got into Osaka yesterday and she's enjoying her time with the relatives. I enjoyed sleeping in my bed.
Tuesday May 13, 9:12 p.m.

Well, all that gnashing about that mystery model lesson student came to naught. He was a no-show. I was relieved and annoyed at the same time, but I should've figured that out when he didn't bother to leave a name with the boss. Plus, Jolly has dotakyan'ed again so I'm finished for the day. Suzanne was her studious if slightly spacey self. Mild Jr. recoiled in some horror as he met the juku cat for the very first time....regrettably, he has an allergy toward cats which manifested itself as the lesson wore on...his throat started getting hoarse and his eyes watered. Lesson learned there for sure.

That no-show student was the big existential obstacle of the week. Now, that he's been unplugged, it's not too bad now; however, there is what to do with The New Yorker and of course, The Diver and her angsty self.
Tuesday May 13, 4:32 p.m.

Got home at midnight as I usually do on Mondays. Of course, Mom stayed up and waited for me. And it was less than 6 hours later when I woke up again. I had a rare Japanese-style breakfast of broiled aji, rice and a potato croquette thanks to my house guest. She's now off in Osaka with the relatives for the next number of days. I hope she does OK there.

I met The Beehive for the first time in 3 weeks at the usual haunt. It was a venting session for Mrs. Travel and Mrs. Alp; they were majorly griping about their husbands...especially Travel. Apparently, she and her hubby are in a cold war right now about a recent House Guest from Hell. Not surprisingly, said guest is a card-carrying member of the Japan Communist Party. In any case, in another couple of weeks, they'll be heading out on their big excursion to Croatia. They did a lot of their planning during lunch which I joined for the first time in several weeks. For me, I was grateful that I was now out of debtors' prison with these ladies. I got my first batch of cash in nearly 3 months.

002 was also another student I'd not met in a few weeks. I had a much more jovial time with her...the 70 minutes just flew by. She talked about a documentary she'd seen recently about the foreign otaku element invading Tokyo to make their pilgrimage to Mecca...i.e. Akihabara. According to her, seeing these Europeans, Asians and other such ilk prancing to the ditties of the Maids was a supremely cringeworthy moment. Mom had told me that on the flight, there were a few young men sitting near her who were breathlessly talking about their imminent arrival to Mecca.

And now I find myself here at the juku waiting for Suzanne. However, the big test for tonight is that new model lesson student who wants to join The Milds...well, actually, he just wanted to join any group lesson, and since The Milds are the only non-man-to-man lesson I have here, he'll be coming in for them. She didn't even get his's never easy to plan for one of these lessons but I've got contingencies.

Slim was good last night in his second lesson overall and first one with me. Speedy told me that he'd underestimated his ability. I'm hoping he'll do very well before his first business trip to Germany in July. The Bostonian is approaching the likes of 001 and 002...she seems to be quite happy to be sidetracked and laughing all the way.

Tomorrow will also be a pretty busy day. I've got The Nurse, The New Yorker, 001, The Diver and then Slim again to wrap up. BC left me a message...obviously she's back at the school...stating that The Tippler, that talkative new student, has to cancel her lone May lesson.

It really hasn't been China's year, considering that this is its turn to shine for The Olympics. All those consumer product nightmares, then the kerfuffle over the Torch Relay and then now this huge quake in Szechuan Province.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Monday May 12, 2:52 p.m.

Just went over the lesson plans for the next few days. I may be spinning my wheels right now, but it sure looks like my week is gonna be a full one. I've got that friend of BC's, The Temp, whom I met almost a month ago for her first lesson this Thursday night. But the problematic one is that model lesson student who wants to join The Milds tomorrow night. Not sure how that one's gonna do.

Speaking of BC, she's not here today. I'm hoping that she's well on the mend after visiting the hospital for whatever's ailing her.

The Summer Drama season is revving up tonight. Actually, a few dramas have already jumped the gun and started last week. But tonight is the big gekku (Monday at 9) drama on Fuji-TV, the sweet spot for all such programs....kinda like the position that movies such as "The Dark Knight" and "Indiana Jones" would occupy for the blockbuster season. And this one is called "Change" with the King of the Dramas, Takuya Kimura...he of the snarly constitution and all of the concept titles such as "Hero" and "Good Luck". KimuTaku plays an elementary school teacher who ends up having to teach another group of children...i.e. the he becomes Japan's next Prime Minister. This time, though, it won't be Takako Matsu who'll be his signficiant other but Eri Fukatsu from "Bayside Shakedown", who has also come across as pretty snarly in previous characters. The theme song is provided by none other than Madonna herself. No idea whether the title was thought up by an Obama supporter.
Monday May 12, 2:03 p.m.

Well, I picked up Mom at Narita yesterday. It's been a pretty cold past few days...more like March than May. When I got to Terminal 1, there was a small press presence by the South Gates; I hovered there for about 15 minutes until my need for food overweighed any chance of catching a glimpse of my first celeb arrival. After handling my Big Mac attack, I returned to see that the little scrum had gone. I wasn't too disappointed. There had been no mass of kids which would've meant a huge movie star or singer, and there were no middle-aged women which would've meant a Korean movie star.

Mom finally made it through the gates at about 4 p.m. Looks like that new security system of fingerprinting and eye scan wasn't too painful for her. After we took care of currency exchange, baggage delivery and JR Railpass, we made our way home where we just supped on supermarket sushi (Mom was never much for being made a fuss over...even on Mother's Day, which she had even forgotten until I gave her the card).

Looks like that dreaded (though potentially profitable) overloaded schedule today will not come to fruition. Both SIL and The Class Act cancelled their lessons for this morning, so I've yet to have my first class. That will come in about 2 hours with The Big Lug. From there, it'll be straight on til late with The Full-Timer, Slim, The Bostonian and finally Medicine Man to clean up.

I'll be meeting up with The Beehive tomorrow morning for the first time in 3 weeks and then it may be another 2 weeks before I see them again since they're supposed to be off for their big trip to Croatia.