Saturday, July 05, 2008

Saturday July 5, 5:55 p.m.

Just chilling after a round of McDs...

The "Doctor Who" forum on Facebook is just having a rousing ol' time about this season's finale which should be coming out in a few hours. One of the main fan sites for the show has been talking about the meltdown that the United Kingdom has been experiencing over the past 7 days since "Stolen Earth" managed to drop plenty of jaws across jolly ol' England. The Brits may have stiff upper lips but I can imagine millions of them were embarrassed to sponge up their saliva from the living room carpet last Saturday. All sorts of theories are being thrown about like a rugby ball: a new Doctor in the form of James Nesbitt, Robert Carlyle or David Morrissey, Donna Noble actually being Romana III, and David Tennant playing two Doctors. As the line in The Art of Noise's "Cut to the Edit" goes: "Oh, to be in England..." Well, Xmas should be here soon enough.

The legend of Joey Chestnut continues. One of the greatest names in American folklore has pulled off another win at the Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest by Nathan's by ingesting tons of furters in 10 minutes. The previous winner, Takeru Kobayashi, was looking pretty buff for an otaku but just couldn't bring back the title to Japan. Just as well...Joey Chestnut rolls off the tongue far more smoothly than Takeru Kobayashi.

I listened to the two CDs of the so-called virtual band Genki Rockets. Hmph...I don't particularly consider them a truly virtual, computer-concocted musical group. I found out from the liner notes...which got onto Wikipedia in short order...that this blend of voices that make up Lumi's pipes is actually a fusion of two....model/singer Rachel Rhodes and voice actress/singer Nami Miyahara. Rhodes is actually a real person, not something concocted in a hard drive...I knew those dance moves looked far too realistic to be anything CG. So, basically we're looking at a dramatized singer done up futuristically. We've seen plenty of those...from The Partridge Family to actress Miho Kanno's singing character from a TV drama years ago. Having said that, Genki Rockets' first release, "Heavenly Star", is a small gem of a pop song. I can probably see Miley Cyrus covering it someday...once she gets over her hate for her ex-boyfriend.

One of those three model lessons did convert into a sale...the middle one who's going off to San Francisco and Sedona, Arizona next month all by her lonesome. And she's going for the 90-minute classes...only 001 has had those. My Thursdays are now jam-packed...Speedy and I had to do some juggling to the sked. I guess then she'll be called Miss Sedona. Just imagine when Emperor Palpatine dubbed Anakin Skywalker as the new Darth. It's as lame as all that.

As expected, The Full-Timer has cancelled her Monday class which gives me a bit of breathing room between SIL and Slim. But that Wednesday and Thursday are looking pretty killer.

Gonna have to head on home and try to relax in my sauna of an apartment.
Saturday July 5, 4:13 p.m.

Man, am I baked! I finished up with that model lesson on pronounciation with a pretty fluent (I'd probably say near-native) speaker. I'd never done such a lesson before so I think it frankly showed, and I wasn't sure if the lass bought the package. Probably won't sign, although I've seen stranger things happening. I'm always reminded of The Yogist's model lesson as an example.

Met up with The New Yorker at the Tully's this morning. For a change, there was nobody there for most of the lesson. Nice to be able to hear The New Yorker once in a while...something that she also remarked upon. After 3 years, we finally finished the textbook and will make a course correction.

It's pretty darn hot out there. I think it's probably in the low 30s in Shinjuku if the heat island theory is in force. But so far, so good on the rain. I've got wash that couldn't wait on the line outside right now.

Before that exhausting model lesson, I had The Manhattanite. She was decked out in her finery since she was heading to see the performance of "Wicked" in Shiodome. She doesn't come out too often for lessons so her fluency is pretty low right now. I gave her the take-home test; I wonder if she may have to face doing a make-up. Still, Speedy will have to take care of her there since she'll be coming next time on a Friday night...the night that I'm at the juku.

Speedy is doing some phone counselling right now, but he should be getting off pretty soon. It'll be time for McDonalds. He made the proposal, and right now I don't particularly feel like finding my own food, let alone cooking it. He also helped me out in purchasing my tickets for Canada this Xmas...that's right, in this blazing heat, I've already reserved my flight home for the Holidays. Good thing, too....the seats were filling up. It's quite nice to be able to even reserve the seats online. I've already informed the family.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday July 4, 6:51 p.m.

At the juku computer...which is dying a slow, agonizing death, much like my own SOTEC a couple of years ago. I've got vertical streaks slashing down the screen and a lot of the sites are showing up skewed. I can't even correctly get Hotmail.

Of course, with my memory failing in dribs and drabs, I've forgotten to mail The Anime King's envelope for his Idolmaster CD. Well, I've been looking for a post office that is open on Saturdays but even without the "help" of this malfunctioning computer, Japan Post also seems to have a labyrinthian website which vaguely points out that some of its branches may be open to the public beyond regular hours or even on the weekends. I guess in the Land of Zen, it is rather appropriate that we have to figure out for ourselves which branches are open. However, I believe I still have the 7th to get that envelope into Roppongi.

Instead I walked over to Shinjuku in what I later found out was 32-degree C heat with corresponding humidity. I didn't do too badly, actually. I guess it wasn't too humid, then. There were a lot of young women walking about in various alien costumes which I suppose are the latest trends in fashion these days. Walking by Krispy Kreme #1, I saw that the lineup did increase to a 25-minute wait. Nothing like piping-hot donuts to entice people to wait in summer heat.

On the way, though, I stopped off at Burger King #1 which is located in an underground enclave in the Shinjuku I-Land complex. It kinda looks like it's located in Uncle Owen's and Aunt Beru's joint on Tatooine. Not too many people in there which was nice but I kinda wonder how that would be for business there. I had the usual Whopper Meal. It's quite satisfying if a bit messy.

The dog days of summer almost being upon us (no cicadas yet, though), I strategized about how to make my way from West Shinjuku to Takashimaya Times Square without melting further under the sun. It wasn't a complete success but I decided to scoot through the West-facing Odakyu Department Store over JR Shinjuku in air-conditioned comfort before having to come down the escalator from the overpass into the Century Tower area where KK#1 is. I managed to survive the walk over to Takashimaya and then it was just a matter of getting up to the 12th floor to get to HMV. Yes, I did buy the two Genki Rockets geekiness is assured.

Some more avoidance of the heat. I went down the elevator to B1 and made my way over to the underground passageway starting from the Kinokuniya Supermarket to the Fukutoshin Subway. I decided to go all the way from there for what was probably a good kilometre and a half underground to the Oedo Line. 75% of it wasn't too air-conditioned but it was at least cooler than above ground. From about under Studio Alta westward, the blowers were there to cool us off. Still, I'm feeling characteristically funky this month.

Almost a pity that I only have to teach 30 minutes to The Ace but again he's a good guy. Tomorrow, I've got a semi-full day with The New Yorker and then at Speedy's, The Manhattanite along with yet another model lesson.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Friday July 4, 3:07 p.m.

The way The Big Lug was mopping his brow, it must be scorching out there. It is sunny to be sure, which is contrary to what the weather forecasters had been saying for today. Not that I'm complaining although I'll probably be taking the train to Shinjuku instead of walking over there. Yep, I'll be hitting HMV or Tower Records to get that Genki Rockets CD.

As for the Lug himself, he did well on the test so we've finally gotten that out of the way. He also spoke on his regular visits to the manga kissa, or comics cafe. You might say that it is the precursor of the current I-cafes although both are in ample existence. Like the latter, folks often use the manga kissa as a really cheap alternative to hotels. And the foreign backpackers haven't been naive to that fact, either.

I've been doing a bit of a recon on Air Canada for tickets going back home during December. Man, the seats are already filling up so I gotta move on them. I'll probably make the final purchase tomorrow when I'm here yet again. As expected, the prices are sky-high.
Friday July 4, 11:55 a.m.

Looks like The Pessimist is settling pretty nicely into his role of student here at Speedy's. In terms of appearance and temperament, he reminds me of that teacher I used to work with on the JET Programme nearly 20 years ago...which probably means he's got a ferocious temper. My old days on that programme also came up in conversation, although it had nothing to do with my observations. He told me that he'd spent a year as a ronin. "Ronin" means masterless samurai. In the West, ronin refers to a famed comic book character and to that great spy movie with Robert DeNiro 10 years ago. In regular Japanese life, it refers to those high school graduates who couldn't pass the university exams and have to spend a year or more cramming to finally get into the hallowed institutions of higher academia. I kinda probed him about it since I hadn't really known all that much about the life of a ronin. The Pessimist told me that it felt a bit like limbo...between two different worlds, that of the cramming high school child and that of the free-as-a-bird guy on campus. He felt a little lonely and isolated although not to the level of a hikikomori or shut-in, but he knew four other fellow ronin from his school. It sounds as if cramming was a pseudo-job for him from day to night followed by meeting up with the guys for a drink.

After the lesson, Speedy got a call from one of our more unusual students. He's a government official assigned to one of the remote islands south of Tokyo. He comes up to the mainland once every few months on business, so it's during those times that he tries to come in for lessons. He's asked for a pretty late slot tomorrow night. Usually Speedy doesn't stay open on Saturday nights but the bossman has decided to make room for him since the last time he came over, there was a misunderstanding on the schedule and the poor man ended up coming all the way to a closed school.
Friday July 4, 8:59 a.m.

It's with some irony on this 4th of July that one of America's recently grand (or grande) commercial institutions is going through some economic doldrums right now. Starbucks apparently will be closing 600 of its shops from later this month and cutting a good chunk of its employees. Seattle is not having a good year. Starbucks is being ravaged, and the Mariners are just tanking...I think they're even mathematically out of the playoffs now. However, the Japanese media will always report that Ichiro managed to reach .301 at the plate the other day.

Well, Japan then continues to be the equivalent of The Land of Lost Toys (if you remember that scene from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Over here, various commercial enterprises and some people find a second act in this country after sputtering back in the home country. I have heard no particular worries from Starbucks Japan. People here are still lining up for their lattes and macchiatos. Krispy Kreme may have become virtually extinct in Canada after a brief heyday in the late 90s (I think the usual line at a branch in Canada now is "Would you like a litre of gas with your dozen, sir?"), but here, although the ridiculous lines seem to be finally getting a bit more flaccid after its first 18 months of Viagra-ism, the now-5 branches of KK Japan are doing fine business. 7-11 convenience stores which could just as well describe some of the prison time spent by some of its grungier customers back Stateside are thriving here. A number of singers from across the Pacific have often opted to hit the Oricon rankings in Japan rather than make it big in the States. Ever heard of The Nolans? Disco-era femme fatale singing group? "Feel the need for dancing, romancing?" Still beloved here. Jimmy Osmond and that kid from "Webster" have had hit songs here. It's kinda like David Hasselhoff being big in Germany.
Friday July 4, 8:16 a.m.

Another early start to the day. But neither Speedy nor his student are here. Not sure if ...check that, the student has just chimed in. But the bossman is probably hustling over here right now...and in fact, Speedy has entered the house (to give you the sense of time, during those dots at the beginning of the line, 5 minutes had elapsed since I was keeping his student company). The bossman doesn't look too well, though. Another long night, little sleep and an early wake-up call. Man, just don't know how he does it sometimes.

In any case, while Speedy and I aren't too relaxed right now, I know 300 million other folks across the Pacific who are about to have their annual Independence Day celebrations. Happy 232nd Birthday, America! You don't look a year over 231 (that age could best be put to the current top two folks in the administration).

Since this is my third early day in a row, I actually went to La Vie De France to pick up some brekkie, instead of either McDs or Jonathans. The baked goods there are good if a little expensive. I've got The Pessimist first thing today followed by The Big Lug in the afternoon. Then it's off to teach The Ace later tonight.
Thursday July 3, 9:41 p.m.

Finally the Mega-Hump Day is over. I'm pretty much intact for the most part but I'm looking forward to home with a side visit to McDonalds for a much-earned Big Mac set. The place should be open for another hour when I get there. I've just finished up with Slim tonight. He's got that big party tomorrow with a bunch of Germans, so we went over some of the potential questions and answers. He's pretty nervous about it but I'm sure he'll do well.

Speedy had put out the thought about going to Chianti next door since they're having the last of their 3-day half-price menu. But I have to let it go since I don't think I'm really up for it and I've gotta be back here again early. I have to make another choice between McDonalds or Jonathans. Besides, Speedy didn't sound too good physically and it looks like he'll be stuck behind his computer again for the next number of minutes or hours.

3 model lessons, if I can pass through this, I can probably pass through anything this school can throw at long as children aren't involved. But I've got another model lesson coming up this Saturday with a lady who wants to work on her pronounciation. Another challenge...
Thursday July 3, 6:43 p.m.

Man, I'm baked! Just finished off the last of the 3 model lessons, and then I even had to spell Speedy for a few minutes with his veteran student while he took care of the after-action with that model student. The first model student came in between Grandma Dynamite and The Yogist. She's the nurse buddy of Mrs. Speedy who's already signed up with us but was going through the model lesson motions, so in point of fact, she was having her official first lesson. She'd lived in Hawaii for about 18 months several years ago but she's pretty rusty. Let's call her The Lanai, shall we?

The second model lesson student is a pharmacist who's actually quite a bit better than might be the case. In one of those weird and wonderful coincidences, she'll be headed over to Sedona, Arizona at the end of August, the very place that Mrs. Travel of The Beehive had visited a couple of weeks earlier. Not sure if she's gonna join us yet so no code name.

And then there was the friend of The Dentist, a makeup artist and hair stylist who's had a lot of location work overseas. But of the three, she was by far the lowest student. Tried my best with her but not sure if I really sold her on me. The lass was pretty game right up until the final bell when she seemed to get depressed about something. Again, like the pharmacist, I won't tag her until I know she's signed, sealed and delivered.

Well, I'm gonna completely veg until 7:30 when I have to get prepped for Slim at 8:30. I've gotta help him out on his conversation skills before he debuts at that party tomorrow afternoon with that bunch from Germany.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Thursday July 3, 11:24 a.m.

Just finished with Grandma Dynamite. Speedy had quietly told me that she wasn't burning on all 4 cylinders today but she was pretty sprightly with me. Helped my energy reserves a bit, that's for sure. We spoke on her love for Yon-sama, the Korean heartthrob for millions of middle-aged Japanese women everywhere. She said that she has never been at Narita Airport with a good portion of that huge segment of the population whenever he makes his occasional appearances here in Tokyo, but she does make some pilgrimages to Shin-Okubo, the Korean quarter. Apparently she's also been learning some Korean. The hanryu boom is now several years old now so that it's really not a trend anymore but a fact of Japanese pop cultural life.

In about an hour, I've got the first of 3 model lessons. This first one happens to be a friend of Mrs. Speedy. She's the one I've said who's already bought the lessons but for propriety's sake would be taking the model lesson. In the meantime, I'm just gonna try to veg a bit. Despite Grandma Dynamite, I'm still feeling pretty worn out. 5-hour sleeptimes plus the humidity can do that to me.
Thursday July 3, 9:31 a.m.

Well, Grandma Dynamite is in the house gabbing away with Speedy. I hope she's like last week; otherwise, this could be a long leadup to my first model lesson.

I got the latest request from The Anime King last night via some stickers and a request slip. Looks like he's ordered another round of Idolmaster paraphernalia. Idolmaster is this computer game featuring these anime girls who dance in a creepily realistic way.

I've been reading this book called "Prisoner's Dilemma" by William Poundstone which has a bit of everything from game theory to a mini-bio of the guy who came up with it John Von Neumann to the early years of the Cold War. Considering the scientific angle of the book, it's been a pretty engaging read compared to the last couple of books that I'd given up on. That sequel to "Catch-22", "Closing Time" was way too Ionesco for me, and I have to admit that, try as I could, I just couldn't get into "Warped Passages", way too brane-y (and that ain't a spelling error...just being a little punny there).

The Sand Dollar sent over a rare e-mail asking some of us to listen to his brother's musical contribution to that contest back home for the new "Hockey Night In Canada" theme. Haven't listened to it yet but if it sounds anything like the "Wayne's World" song, count me in. But it'll be hard to top that original theme.

The Whovians are still gabbing away more rabidly than the guys at The Hot Stove Lounge during the Stanley Cup playoffs (how's that for an analogy?) about "The Stolen Earth", the penultimate episode in Season 4 of "Doctor Who". I've got a sneaking suspicion that that person from Sudbury, Ontario is probably close to the resolution but Robert Carlyle still has 2:1 odds to become the next Doctor. Still, I saw a picture on one of the British newspaper websites showing pics from the upcoming Xmas special with David Tennant still as the Doctor. And in that same round of photos, I saw actor David or John (?) Morrissey from "Basic Instinct 2" fame (or should that be infamy?) in what looked to be a pretty good new Doctor costume. Well, if the guy is willing...

That first official album by virtual band Genki Rockets got released yesterday. I'm considering purchasing it for posterity and for the music. Not that I think Carole King will need to worry about being usurped by a well-realized cartoon, but like one of the YouTubers remarked, the songs have just embedded themselves into my cranium. Virtual subliminal advertising...the time has come. Strange thing about the songs...again, folks like King and Madonna won't have to worry about their legacies since the tunes "Heavenly Star", "Breeze" and "Star Line" sound as if Hannah Montana could cover them; still, I guess the poppiness is rather catchy enough to have made some sort of buzz on the Net. Of course, it takes me a whole year to discover them. I'll never be accused of being a trendspotter.
Thursday July 3, 8:50 a.m.

Speedy owes me once more. I had been lounging around McDonalds after another Sausage McMuffin breakfast thinking I would come in about 9 a.m. when something told me that I should be getting there an hour earlier. Sure enough, I was the first one in and the first one to greet his first student. The bossman was once again running late. Can't say I blame him, though. He's been through the wringer battling a cold and a recently busy spate.

I don't usually talk about international politics or intrigue but I am happy that Ingrid Betancourt was finally rescued from FARC earlier today.

It'll be a long day today. Got those 3 model lessons; Speedy says that they're virtually a lock (in fact, one has already offiicially signed up and is therefore ready for regular lessons) but they're no less stressful. Also, BC is off on holiday in Korea for the next few days which will mean that Speedy or I will have to handle the phones.

Recently, I've heard that a number of the various Olympic teams will be coming here to do their final training before they make the jump to Beijing for the big event next month. Rather logical due to proximity and advanced training facilities. Plus, they can get themselves acclimatized to the hot and humid weather without having to deal with the air pollution that seems to plague China's capital. Not sure if that will be resolved by Games time.
Wednesday July 2, 8:17 p.m.

I'm officially off now that The Diver has cancelled her lesson tonight. Good thing, too...I'm bushed. 001 and I are kinda slowing down in our long educational relationship. A bit of a slog. The reading assignment didn't exactly enthrall her and the current text isn't all that much of a win for her, either. I'm kinda considering creating something on my own. She's a huge "Heroes" fan, so there may be an idea there.

I'll probably be taking off in about 45 minutes but I'll be back first thing tomorrow morning. Today may not have been much of a Hump Day, but Thursday will be more than compensating for it. I've got no less than 3 model lessons along with the three regular lessons of Grandma Dynamite, The Yogist and Slim. It'll be a fairly killer day although I'll be earning the yen.

GC and I have been having a running dialogue on this cliffhanger for Season 4 of "Doctor Who". My old friend was able to catch the ep and thought that surprise ending was the only thing going for it; otherwise, it was just a mediocre show with some old-style bad special effects. There has been a lot of commiserating on the Facebook "Doctor Who" fansite about what is to become of David Tennant. One woman from northern Ontario has told everyone to take a powder and just calmly told everyone what will happen...David will be back. Not quite sure how she knows this so well since BBC has been virtually crowing about how it was able to pull the wool over everyone's eyes in this Net-infested society and keeping an iron seal on letting any information out about what is to happen for the finale this Saturday. Obviously I'm merely speculating myself but I've got a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Tennant will be back healthy and unregenerated. But whatever the case may be, the cast and crew of the show must be reveling in the publicity.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wednesday July 2, 3:42 p.m.

My first lesson with The Pessimist went as well as could be expected for a fairly low-key type of guy. He's currently on a leave of absence from his company to hone his accounting and English skills. Looks like my days are definitely gonna be filling up since he wants to come twice a week, and then I have those three model lessons tomorrow, and Speedy has been assuring me that they'll be locks.

I'll be trying to grab something for dinner before 001 shows up in a couple of hours.
Wednesday July 2, 11:51 a.m.

I should be getting a retainer for services rendered for psych counselling. The Nurse came in 10 minutes late...which is no problem with me, of course. However, as soon as I brought in the tea for her, she broke out in tears. She didn't really elaborate and I didn't pry but she said that she'd gone through a short crisis, so basically the waterworks were ones of relief. I dutifully pulled out the box of tissues. After that, we had the usual lesson.

Looks like "Doctor Who" has truly hit the pop culture zenith of its long history. The Internet has been abuzz about the penultimate episode of the 4th season which apparently has David Tennant's Doctor mortally wounded and regenerating once more in the final scene. So, the fans have been speculating like mad about what the Time Lord's fate will be. I gather that this episode is to Whovians as the TNG episode "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1" was to all Trekkies. Everyone goes nuts whenever a regeneration takes place...who'll play the new Doctor? Probably the most high-profile name that's been bandied about so far is Robert Carlyle from "Trainspotting" and "28 Weeks Later" fame. Of course, all this is moot for me since I won't be seeing any tapes from The Entrepreneur for several months since CBC usually doesn't get the new season for almost a year after the BBC's initial showing.

Speaking of The Entrepreneur, he, me and The Dancer have been having a talk on Gmail about the wonders of Swiss Chalet Chicken Sauce. As I may have said previously, all Canadians can be split into two groups: those who think SCCS is a wonder garnish for the rotisserie chicken and those who think the sauce is little better than brown-coloured dishwater. Ah, to elaborate, Swiss Chalet is this Canadian chain restaurant serving BBQ chicken that is practically a culinary institution in our 141-year-old nation. The chicken comes with this sauce for dipping. The Entrepreneur and I are devoted fans while The Dancer and The Egg are definitely anti-sauce. For me, the tradition is whenever I get back home, the first thing on the dinner table is Swiss Chalet takeout for which I sloppingly dip all the chicken, fries and roll into the cup of heavenly sauce. The Dancer has also admitted that she cannot stand ramen, especially Sapporo Ichiban. If there were ever a reason to bring back CNN's "Crossfire"...

I now have an open window until 2 before The Pessimist has his very first official lesson with me. I'm hoping that despite his code name he'll be up for the class.
Wednesday July 2, 9:30 a.m.

As expected (and hoped for, though I like him), Jolly did dotakyan last night, so I could get home at a relatively decent hour. The Milds wrapped everything up for me. Mr. Mild is certainly earning his new label as a Renaissance Man. He'll be going up Mt. Fuji with a few of his friends next month...he has actually done the climb three times before, which means, according to local folklore, he's a bit of a baka for doing so. You only get the respect if you do it once.

However, I gave up my extra hour of sleep to catch that Tuesday night variety program, Pussuma, starring loudmouth tarento Yusuke Santamaria and SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi. I've found it to be pretty fun watching with some of their little mind games. The surprising thing was seeing (former?) heartthrob Takashi Sorimachi on the program taking part in the hijinks. Usually there is a bit of a glass barrier when it comes to "real" thespians appearing on the oft-Keystone Koppish variety programs. In his case, he was trying to plug his new drama on TV Asahi...which is a bit of a sign that his star is starting to decline.

Since I've got The Nurse early today, it was breakfast out but this time it was at the nearby Jonathan's instead of McDonalds. Compared to the relatively raucous atmosphere at the Big M, Jonathan's is a bit of a church....barely anybody and no music piping over the airwaves.

Looks like I've gotten lucky tonight as well when it comes to early nights. Speedy got the call that The Diver has cancelled her lesson. I'm outta here as of 8:00 since the bossman is still under the weather.
Tuesday July 1, 4:22 p.m.

A Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canucks out there, although the only celebrating I've done so far is just to mention it to The Beehive this morning.

We finished up at Speedy's pretty early last night since the bossman was ailing due to a cold. Not sure what his situation is today, although the fact that I have yet to receive any sort of SOS on my answering machine bodes well for the schedule tomorrow. Can't say that he would have recovered...not the way he was feeling yesterday.

It was Mrs Travel, Mrs Jade and Mrs Alp in Tsudanuma for the weekly session this morning. We spoke on this book that Travel had just finished about this true-life bureaucrat spy in the Japanese government who ended up getting burned by the media and political enemies. Of course, Travel lent the book to Alp, who's a huge espionage fan.

For lunch, I just went by myself to this tonkatsu restaurant in Funabashi. I had been there once before and recalled that I wasn't too, too impressed with it. But the regular ten-don place was already uncharacteristically full (it was before noon) so I decided to try the tonkatsu again. Not a huge mistake but now I've convinced myself not to go there again. I ordered the cheapo chicken katsu set and got an overly fried piece of really webby chicken certainly wasn't breast and I wasn't even sure that it was thigh meat, either. The breading looked like it had soaked up a good deal of oil. Man, the tonkatsu joint at my station could teach these guys a thing or two. Afterwards, I just headed up to the rooftop garden in the department store and just vegged for an hour. It was warm and sunny but thankfully drier.

002 was her usual fun self. I mentioned to her 001's assertion that 002 looked like model/actress Saki Aibu, the current flavour of the month in commercials and dramas. She, of course, demurred. Ironically, she said that her hubby did like her.

So I believe I've got a full slate here at the juku tonight. Suzanne, Mild Jr, The Milds and Jolly. Again, Jolly is always a question mark up until the 8:30 mark.

The cops have started swarming all over Chiba as well in the run up to the G-8 Summit. Mrs. Alp mentioned that there were several of them patrolling Makuhari Messe, that convention centre complex in Chiba City, and I saw a few of them at JR Funabashi and even near Urayasu Station. I can't even imagine why anyone would try anything at that corner. Still, I think we'll feel very safe for the next couple of weeks at least.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday June 30, 8:56 p.m.

Looks like I kinda blew Slim out of the water again. We tried out a game which is your typical Snakes N' Ladders version of reviewing the main points of the textbook he's been using over the past few weeks. Man, I should've told him to review the chapters a bit more since he went into quiet panic mode. All that confidence just drained out of his face at warp speed. Ah, well. In any case, his next lesson will have training general getting-to-know-you conversation since he'll be meeting up with German clients on the 4th of July.

It also seems like California Girl, my old student, has been rubbing shoulders with some of the prestige in the music field. Just saw a pic of her with none other than Ms. "She's So Unusual" herself: Cyndi Lauper. Maybe they talked about Cyndi's old job in the Japanese restaurant.

Anyways, I got Medicine man in about half an hour.
Monday June 30, 7:13 p.m.

Just finished up with The Full-Timer. Speedy was kind enough to let me use the other room here to teach her instead of smoky ol' Doutors...I think part of the reason was that I spelled for him with that other student. He's still ailing which might explain the presence of Mrs. Speedy. In about 15 minutes, I've got Slim. He's finishing up with his text today so I gotta play the role of used car salesman and show him some of our other texts. Then, an hour after he finishes, it'll be Medicine Man to wrap up.

Looks like The Full-Timer and her section have been having trouble with the supervisor who's been this extremely high-strung type with pendulum-like mood swings. Apparently, the supervisor had a major meltdown on Friday due to some little conflict with the higher-ups. For that reason, my student may be escaping to Singapore for a bit of decompression next week.
Monday June 30, 5:06 p.m.

Before the movie, I'd had a couple of hours so I decided to head up to Tower Records by Shinjuku Station. My timing couldn't have been more perfect. I got there just as tarento/pin-up model Yuko Ogura popped up to do a little talk. There was a fairly sizable scrum of men, women and cross-dressers there to cheer her on. As for the woman herself, she was truly the sprite-like girl with the helium voice. Her makeup was fairly caked on...she looked like a porcelain doll given life. I only stayed for a few minutes. She was there to promote her song which had been playing on the speakers before her appearance. I just needed to see that she was a real live flesh-and-blood person.

After the movie, the bunch of us headed once more to Mo-Yan, that Japanese curry place in West Shinjuku. Surprisingly, all 7 of us managed to get in within a few minutes. I ended up having the extra-large The Works Curry. I almost made it, too. I had to leave the last couple of spoonfuls lest there was a major accident. Still, I seem to have been able to down a sugar doughnut and a latte at Starbucks later on.

I was back in Shinjuku today to see if I could pick up a new textbook for either Jolly or Suzanne. I ended up deciding that Suzanne may be able to make it through Communication Strategies, a text that I've had for several years and currently use with folks like The Ace and The Full-Timer. As for Jolly, I may try excerpts from some of the business texts we have here. I noticed that Krispy Kreme #1's lineup is getting ever smaller. Now it's just a 15-minute wait there. Still, that queue will need to go down another 10 minutes for me to line up there. Skippy told me that yet KK #5 opened up in Shibuya the other day, which means that the craziness may finally be disappearing.

I had to do an emergency lesson with one of Speedy's students just now since the bossman has been feeling under the weather today. Well, another 3,500 yen for me. I just paid my bills including that first premium for this year's Citizen's Tax so I'm gonna have to scrounge for every coin.

There's definitely been a bigger presence of the cops on the streets of Tokyo these past few days since The Lake Toya G-8 Summit up in Hokkaido is close approaching. It certainly gives some comfort for the citizens here although some psycho still managed to bite one cop on the arm the other day while he was trying to get away with some ill-gotten goods. Luckily, the man was finally arrested. Ironically, it happened in Akihabara.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Monday June 30, 3:44 p.m.

The end of the month but I can't really say it's all that summery out there. But it is humid..I've been through a few mentholated wipes already.

"Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"....hmmm, well we did catch it at The Shinjuku Plaza yesterday. It was a pretty good turnout: Movie Buddy, The Sylph, The Satyr, Miss Ivory, The Wedding Planner, me and of course, Skippy. Gotta say that Harrison's latest flick has guaranteed probably his first $100 million plus movie in several years. Just don't think it's worth all that much merit, though. It just struck me as being an extra-special episode of "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles". In other words, this was probably good for television but as a motion-picture-worthy movie...nahh.

The basic premise behind Indiana Jones is that this was Steven Spielberg's tribute to the swashbuckling adventures of the 30s. Note that I did emphasize that decade there. This movie takes place in the late 50s. I thought ol' Professor (Colonel) Jones looked awfully out of place in the middle of a nuclear testing field right at the beginning of the movie. I could see where Spielberg was going with this, though...have Indy confront the famed dangers of that decade: atomic testing, UFOs, Commies, leather-bound punk kids.

There was a definite funereal feeling with this latest (and hopefully, last) entry in the Indiana Jones series. Indiana was feeling (and looking) his age and his mileage, and there were glimpses of the late Henry Jones Sr and Marcus Brody along with accompanying musical cues. Plus, Indiana spending several minutes with his son just going through endless exposition basically slowed the whole thing down for the first half. The movie just felt old. Not a good sign for a franchise that's supposed to be all about the action and smart banter....I was so glad that Karen Allen popped in, even though the dialogue between Marion and Indy became somewhat more domesticated.

Generally, I think "Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" comes down with the rest of those recent unearthings of old 80s franchises such as "Die Hard" and "Rambo". It's one of those cinematic reactions to mid-life crisis.