Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday July 12, 5:44 p.m.

Just myself in the school while Speedy is interviewing a potential new student. BC was no longer sniffling and spoke in her usual quiet voice but her last few minutes here were a bit stormier. Maybe my ears were cleaner than usual, but I think she was clinking and slamming glasses a bit loudly. Well, if she's ticked off at me, I'll actually take that as a good sign...she may actually get fired up enough to get back into life. Well, hopefully, she'll get her act together before she leaves us in 3 weeks.

I'll be taking off in about 15 minutes or so. I'm not in that much of a hurry to return to a sauna of an apartment. Not sure what I'll do for dinner quite yet. I may end up going to McDs...not a healthy alternative, though.

Going back to Japanese pop culture, it's been my observation that the tarento management agencies seem to be fastracking their rising stars. Unlike previous flavours-of-the-year such as Razor Ramon HG and seemingly fading Yoshio Kojima, he of the bikini pants and his arm-pumping ways on YouTube, the new stars like Edd Harumi, Sekai no Nabeatsu, and Sumiko Nishioka are getting put into the variety shows in roles that don't primarily use their raison d'etres some months ahead of schedule. Edd is in a drama, which makes sense since that's what her original bread-and-butter was. Sumiko appears on shows now without her famed S&M gear which had gotten her finally noticed on "The God of Entertainment" on NTV after years of toiling in obscurity. And I saw Sekai no Nabeatsu, the bouffant-headed comedian who does the count to 40 while going nuts when saying any number with a "3" or a multiple of it, is apparently a co-host of a quiz show devoted to identifying sounds (!). He's still doing his schtick but he alternates with the usual emcee banter.

Speedy has finally finished up his appointment with his client. We just spent a few minutes commiserating over the perils of BC. Apparently, she was doing a slow burn when I (intentionally) ignored her during her morning bout of depression according to the bossman. I'm sorry if I seem to be acting like a total jerk but we've all had to deal with her for several months getting all verklempt without doing anything about it, and I think both Speedy and I agree that enough's enough. It's time for the tough love.
Saturday July 12, 4:42 p.m.

Made it through the gauntlet of the 4 lessons. The Businesswoman was very competent and cooperative. It's hard to believe that she and Suzanne from the juku are the same age; Suzanne is very much a girly-girl while The Businesswoman is very professional though also very friendly.

Then, The Bostonian...she's somewhere between the two other ladies...had me look over another example of some catchcopy she's gotta show at her company. I had The Intellectual for his first problems there. And finally, I had Slim as usual. Looks like I also picked up another couple of model lessons for later this month.

BC is in one of her depressed moods again. Speedy warned me that she was in another state. She's currently sniffling away behind the keyboard. I didn't read her the riot act, but I did make it clear to her that she's not doing anyone any favours by continuing to whine about her lot in life while not doing anything to cure. I asked her if she's gone to see a specialist; she just gave me those sad brown-cow eyes. Just told her that she won't earn any more sympathy from me if she keeps moping. Her friend had admonished her for continuing to feel sorry for herself...which is also another reason behind the moodiness today. Gahhhh...and she's supposed to be heading to Canada in a month to study.

Tried to find something useful for Tully & The Coffeemaker for tomorrow's lesson. I may have something but it's getting more and more difficult.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Saturday July 12, 10:29 a.m.

Back at the grindstone again. Just ate a croque-monsieur (a fried sandwich with ham and cheese) plus half a cheese dog from La Vie Du France before coming to Speedy's. I got the message from Speedy that I'll be using the hot classroom instead of the cool lounge for 3 of the 4 classes today. Not the greatest news in the world.

That friend of the UL's has gotten back to me about the 27th. She acknowledged and appreciated that I would be coming in from Chiba for the prelim meet-and-greet but didn't say anything about the future. I thought I was pretty least in the diplomatic way about not wanting to come to Yokohama every week.

Today, it'll be The Businesswoman, The Bostonian, the new Intellectual, and then Slim to wrap up things once more.
Friday July 11, 6:48 p.m.

Found out where that rendezvous with The UL's friend is supposed to take's all the way out in Yokohama. I said I wanted to go there this summer but for a day or a weekend, not every week. I immediately let her know that I would go there for the 27th but used the tried-and-true Japanese phrase of " would be difficult..." to let her know of the possibility of me going all the way out there regularly. I had a few months early in my freelance career in which I had to go all the way out to Jiyugaoka every Monday at 10 p.m. for a 90-minute lesson to teach me that that won't take for long. I sent it to her cellphone address and haven't gotten a reply...which may mean the deal is off. I wouldn't mind too much.

After that exercise in teeth-pulling with The Pessimist this morning, I made my way out to Takashimaya Times Square yet again for the 2nd Friday in a row. Again, it was a walk straight from Speedy's down to Shinjuku...which took about 30 minutes. I varied the route from last week. I turned right onto a street from Ome-Kaido, just a block behind from where I turned last week. It was a main road but much quieter with a lot of inner-city type apartments above various restaurants, including the 2nd branch of Mo-Yan Curry. I walked down for about 5 minutes before turning left and finding myself across from Shinjuku Central Park. I passed by the restaurant where Speedy had last year's Xmas party. They had a pretty nice lunch deal for 1,000 yen. Not sure if the staff had ever forgiven the bossman for letting the party exceed its hadn't been kashikiri...other customers were allowed to come in. Then I hung another right onto Shinjuku Park Avenue before I entered the park itself to get onto one of the overpasses which led into the heart of Tocho (Tokyo City Hall). From there, I walked to the end of the street which bisected City Hall and which ended at The Shinjuku Washington Hotel, a white slab with tiny windows...looks a bit like a warped cheese grater. Then, I turned left onto that street and made one more right before finding myself on the major avenue which led to JR Shinjuku's South Exit. Once again, a 30-minute lineup waited for those Krispy Kreme donuts.

After looking for an interesting book for Tully & The Coffeemaker (no luck) in Kinokuniya, I went back up to HMV. The big campaign of the week was for the latest vocoder-influenced girl group, Perfume. I'm afraid that J-Pop music may never let us hear singers' real voices, but then again, that might be a good thing.

I ended up having lunch at Stacker's, which is a sandwich place across from HMV. I had their Burger Sandwich Plate for 1,050 yen. Not too, too bad. The fries were spicy affairs...never a bad thing. The Plate itself looked like a combo between a hamburger and a BLT plate. The burger meat itself was an interesting mix of a regular real-burger (i.e. not any of the fast food varieties) and the Japanese menchi katsu. It was a bit softer and crumblier.

As I was eating, I was going through the latest edition of METROPOLIS. The cover article was about the supposedly "gayest man in Japan" by the name of Charles Ayres, a very flamboyant (I guess in this case, you could pronounce the word in the French way to heighten the effect), and his very haunts in and away from Shinjuku's 2-chome area, Tokyo's equivalent of San Francisco's Castro St or Toronto's Wellesley and Church.

However, the page that got my attention was the final page for freelancers to give their two yen. This week's contribution was about a phenomenon that I've mentioned over the years....foreign celebs coming onto Japanese variety shows and being interviewed by airheads in NOVA Level-7 English (et tu, "Eigo de shaberanaito"?) The biggest recent example was Harrison Ford coming on Bistro SMAP for some robatayaki cooked by the boys. With his SMAP-cooked dinner, he also got some impromptu entertainment in the form of Indiana Katori cracking his whip, much to Ford's bemusement. I've always wondered what these Hollywood stars must be thinking whenever they're "feted"...or just plain the local tarento. The author was spot-on when he hinted that a big sense of humour and a large suspension of disbelief are needed....for which Will Smith and Robin Williams should be hailed as heroes for not only enduring the weirdness but happily taking part in it. Apparently Madonna looked like she was gonna be firing major swathes of her staff after her guest appearance on Bistro SMAP. And Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones had to be gently coaxed to get with the purogurammu...but that's OK; a lot of the non-tarento Japanese (read: serious) actors and actresses are similarly unimpressed-looking on these variety shows, too. Another revelation in the article was that celebs are contractually obliged to show up in Japan to promote their movies...yikes! Hours and hours of being interviewed by broken-English-speaking tarento? Yup, I can see where tempers can grow short. Apparently, actress Yumiko Shaku, a former regular on NHK's "Eigo de shaberanaito", told of being refused further questions by one movie star who'd just had enough of the silliness. Yup, I wouldn't have wanted to be watching that cringe-inducing moment. But I would've paid money to have seen Sylvester Stallone's little punching game with a group of Japanese actresses recently. Robert Downey, Jr and Christian have been duly warned.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Friday July 11, 12:59 p.m.

Yow! Just after noon and I'm already bushed! The Pessimist can actually change any teacher into one himself. It was like pulling teeth from this guy. And just about every question I asked him seemed like I was asking him the most efficient way to fuse two helium atoms. Nice guy and all, but still...

As for The Nurse, she revealed that the reason for her crying jag last week was due to a spat with her husband just as she was about to come here for her lesson. Yep, I kinda figured...

I found out from BC that that model lesson student from a few days ago who'd gone to Halifax is an amateur psychic. She apparently sent a letter of compliment to me on my teaching abilities, but then again, she would've already known that, wouldn't she?

Now, I'm wondering whether I really should take that trip to Yokohama. Any more bruisers like that with The Pessmist, and I'll be ready for the rubber room.

I got the details from that friend of The UL's for the 27th. She wants me to meet her...and her a station called Okurayama on the Tokyu-Toyoko Line...hmm...sounds a bit far for me. Not sure about this one.
Friday July 11, 9:49 a.m.

Ah, I did forget to mention that the crazy season has arrived once more in Akihabara. No, there hasn't been another maniac stabbing folks in a mentally-deranged spree. People have been lining up for as many as 3 days to get their dibs on the I-Phone. I haven't seen anything like this since Windows 2000 came out. The Sisters of State had each wondered aloud about getting one of those as well. As the cellphone-less oddity in a country where cellphones nearly have voting rights, I turn a rather glazed brown-cow eye. I guess the new Softbank commercial with Cameron Diaz hoofing with a dozen dancers to Sheena Easton's "Morning Train" didn't do much to stem the tide. I'm sure you can now catch it on YouTube.

Speaking of the diversion, I have to applaud Weezer's fun little video of "Pork and Beans". The band took the piss out of American pop culture by placing themselves into a scene from "Happy Days". Now, they've collaborated with a number of YouTube celebs such as the hermaphrodite berating everyone to leave Britney alone, and those guys who discovered the explosively entertaining way to combine Mentos and cola.
Friday July 11, 9:30 a.m.

Speedy's first student of the day (and just about everyday), The PA, just left. Since I now have de facto access to the school first thing in the morning, I'm usually letting him in since Speedy has been rushing in late recently due to very late nights. The PA is a patent attorney of some standing, and a very pleasant man to boot. Along with his day job, he's got teaching positions at some pretty prestigious universities. He set me right about the eccentric Dr. NakaMatsu, the so-called inventor of the floppy disk. I'd always believed the rumours about him, but The PA told me that though Japan's most flamboyant inventor had a hand in some of the components making up the disk, he could hardly be considered to be the father of the disk itself. Basically, it's like Al Gore's hootin' and hollerin' about the Internet.

Speedy is in one of his moods again. Not that Speedy is breathing flame or devouring unsuspecting staffers; he's not that way. He just rambles away at warp speed with periodic stops for giggling. Apparently, the pleasant problem of him being able to pick n' choose some new administrative staffers for the schools has emerged into the cold, hard light of reality. The two people he'd selected as the newbies sent in their rejections late last night. The bossman had forgotten that these people were also doing their own pickin' n' choosin' from the various companies they were interviewing at. When it comes to salary, our school will not be particularly competitive. So, Speedy has to start from scratch again. I do sympathize with him but when he gets that way, I usually nod and ignore him and do something else...such as write blogs.

I'd been thinking about taking a little R&R in Yokohama later this summer. Y'know...head into Chinatown, grab some good Sino-grub and maybe even stay overnight. I've checked out some of the cheap hotels over there...and they are indeed very reasonable. 5,000-6,000 yen is a godsend for this city. But then again, my cold, hard light of reality bursts into my head like an aneurysm and reminds me that earlier this year I had a rather nasty financial crisis, and the rationalization bubbles up about why I would even need to get accomodations in a city that is perhaps a couple of hours away from my home by train and whose nightlife doesn't really interest me....I haven't been a clubber in a couple of decades and I'm a teetotaler when I'm by myself which pretty much erases 95% of my options right there. I would just be lying in the hotel bed watching TV...which is what I would be doing at home for free.
Friday July 11, 8:53 a.m.

I was thinking that perhaps we had a chance to last through this month without really needing to access the air conditioner, but I saw the forecast for this weekend. It'll be another scorching one. However, it hasn't been too bad this week.

Another 5-hour sleep before heading back here for another round at Speedy's. But this time, I just have two classes with The Nurse and The Pessimist. Hopefully, The Nurse won't be having another emotional breakdown like last time. I seem to get that from time to time from various students.

Not sure what I'll do afterwards. I may just head over to Kinokuniya again and see if there might be something interesting for Tully and The Coffeemaker on Sunday. The two didn't seem all that enthused last time.

The Bohemian left a message on my machine while I was in the shower last night. Of course, he called late so I was grateful that I didn't pick up (I would've thought initially it was Speedy telling me of an addition or cancellation to the schedule); he's definitely true to his name when it comes to calling folks up at inconvenient times. And he's either got a tough skin or a dense brain...I'd thought that our last meeting together frankly cooled down our friendship. I've become less patient about his opinions than I used to be.
Thursday July 10, 9:54 p.m.

Incredibly enough, I'm still standing after teaching 7 lessons being a 90. Actually, I had the best combination that I could get in a marathon session. Grandma Dynamite was probably the only tiring point since she's pretty much all over the place as befits her name. The Yogist, and that EIC student were just fine and dandy. Then came Miss Sedona's first lesson; she became only my second student here as a 90-minute. But that's only for the next four lessons before she takes off for the States on that voyage of self-discovery; if and when she returns for more, it'll be as a regular 60. Then, it was my private students in the form of The Carolinan and BC. BC was about as regular as she could be in the lesson. I'm not sure if that will be the very last time I have her as a student before she takes off for Canada.

Then, it was Slim to wrap up. He looked pretty exhausted but we managed to carry on a good conversation...on jet lag, of all things. The countdown has begun for him before his fateful flight to Germany next week. He's gotten a bit of envy and perhaps even some resentment from some of his compadres since he got a business-class seat to Munich...he's only an assistant manager; only the top execs get that much-dreamed-of full-flat. I'm thinking the powers-that-be may be sending a message about his future prospects.

Anyways, that friend of The UL's has taken a bite. We'll be meeting on the 27th for a preliminary meeting to see if we are compatible (sounds almost like an omiai).

Just about time to go...only to come back here again first thing in the morning for The Nurse and then The Pessimist....followed late by The Ace. Still, it'll be a lighter day than the past 2 days.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thursday July 10, 9:34 a.m.

Grandma Dynamite has entered the building. The Carolinan is coming here thankfully for her lesson tonight, although I was pretty confident that she would. Makes all our lives easier. Got most of the paperwork done in preparation for today's mountain of lessons. I just have to wonder whether I'll have time to grab any sort of lunch today. I think the only sizable window is between Grandma Dynamite and The Yogist...which'll mean I'll be on water and rice crackers and any remnants of chocolate left in the kitchen between 1 and 9:30.

It's ironic that the new night staffer, TM, and I were talking about her old haunt in Christie Pits in Toronto. I just read on the site that some poor fellow got mugged a million volts of lightning.
Thursday July 10, 8:37 a.m.

Same ol' same ol' Hump Day...the 2nd one in a row this week. Grab brekkie at McDonalds and then open up the school. The new tradition of gabbing with Speedy's student, The Patent Attorney, before the bossman rushes in is taking root.

The last couple of days have been reasonably warm though still kinda humid. But I have been able to sleep rather comfortably. Let us hope that things continue that way for a while longer.

That friend of The UL's contacted me last night about the lessons. I gave her the only bone I could which is Sunday afternoons.

The "Doctor Who" forum is still buzzing away about "Journey's End". This must truly be the best of times for the world's longest-running sci-fi drama. Ratings have gone through the roof, the cliffhanger managed to get onto the front pages of UK papers, and the fans have been debating and diatribing about everything and everyone from Donna to the entire episode. And perhaps this little piece of news hasn't quite arrived at the forum yet...I just saw on a major website that the ol' Brig is coming back...albeit not to the TARDIS, but to "The Sarah Jane Adventures".

It'll be a majorly busy day today. I think for the first time in recent memory, certainly the first time at this school, I'll be teaching 7 lessons over the day. I may have to apologize to Slim if I actually have that cardiac arrest mid-lesson.
Wednesday July 9, 5:32 p.m.

Well, got through the first half of Hump Day 1. It wasn't too painful. The Pessimist, true to his nature, was a bit dour since he had a bit of a row with the missus but we managed to get through the lesson. The EIC student was a pleasant revelation...pretty high-intermediate. As for the model lesson, I'm kinda wondering if I'm in some sort of slump...just not really grabbing these folks. Today's student was a nurse who had spent a week in Halifax; her comprehension and delivery are pretty good but has very little syntax or grammatical foundation. Really not sure if she's a keeper.

Got the 2nd half starting in about 25 minutes with 001. Hump Day 2 is gonna be even more busy with 7 lessons on the slate...including The Carolinan and...surprise, surprise...BC.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wednesday July 9, 10:29 a.m.

Nice to be here at a more leisurely time than the usual early-morning rush into Tokyo. I should try to schedule more lessons from 11 a.m. I see that I don't see The Pessimist's textbook on my desk...I'll have to have a word with Speedy, although I know that won't get the text here any faster.

Looks like that logistical kerfuffle about the G-8 leaders having a supremely gourmet meal while talking about how the rest of the world seems to be running out of food has been gaining some very thick, hairy legs...even hairier than the Hairy Crab Bisque (it doesn't sound too appetizing, but Hairy Crab is a direct translation from the Japanese ke-gani, and is a known delicacy in these parts) that was on the menu. I think it was indeed a boner of planning; the organizers could've been a bit more sensitive about the dinner but the Japanese really do care about how they're seen in the eyes of the world in all areas...including on how to put on a spread for visitors, and perhaps the chef got a bit overzealous in trying to impress his guests.

The UL contacted me suddenly last night about referring her friend to me for lessons. Regrettably, I had to decline her offer since I'm pretty much plugged up most weeknights between the juku and Speedy's. I did offer Sunday afternoons, although I hope that she doesn't pick me up on that offer.

Well, I've got The Pessimist in 25 minutes, followed by a new EIC student, then yet another model lesson student. A 3-hour break follows and then I have the regular nighttime crowd of 001, The Diver and Medicine Man. It'll be a busy one.
Tuesday July 8, 9:11 p.m.

Well another night at the juku, another dotakyan by Jolly. Seems like the lad has been pretty busy of late. This time, the boss will be giving me half the rate since she's given up on having him make up lessons. Suzanne is currently living out her melodrama in terms of her potentially soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend and her perhaps long-distance romance with an Aussie. I could've just imagined putting a TV frame around her and calling it "The Perils of Suzanne".

Mild Jr. was off taking care of the opening night at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. But The Milds came by for their hour. Apparently, the Gyotoku Chuo Clinic, the place where I will probably go for my checkup next month, was one of Mr. Mild's clients when he was still working as a medical supplies sales rep. He didn't sound too negative about the place; apparently, it's a medium-sized facility. Strangely enough, Mrs. Mild had her physical last weekend at some facility in The New Otani in Akasaka, my old haunt with The Class Act all those years ago. She went through the battery of tests, including X-rays and ECGs, along with the mandatory gulp of barium. She said that she could get some strawberry-flavoured barium to ingest, although I would hardly call that an endorsement. The Milds are also heading for Germany in a couple of weeks for a bit of vacation, so that'll make it 3 students who'll be in Deutschland at the same time, Slim, of course, being the 3rd person.

Well, I'll be heading home early and get some shuteye for what will be the first of 2 Hump Days tomorrow. At least, I was able to schedule The Pessimist for 11 a.m., and therefore not need to take an early train into town.

I wonder how that G-22 is doing up in Hokkaido. I hear that they're talking about food shortages....over an 8-course meal supplied by the Japanese taxpayers.
Tuesday July 8, 4:20 p.m.

Rather incredible how fate works for one. About an hour ago after having my 3 hours at the I-cafe, I checked my messages. And I got this rather loud cheerful voice talking about some situation or somesuch any case, after listening to it twice, I still couldn't figure who it was and who she was representing. Then, all sorts of options came into my head: maybe it was my rental agency harassing me again or a new staffer at Speedys not having developed good phone skills or perhaps the Idolmaster company calling me up to say that I'd sent in the envelope too late or Air Canada contacting me about my ticket. In any case, I suddenly got this itch in my stomach that I don't like.

I went to the Urayasu branch of my bank to update my bankbook so that I could check that I did have a record of sending my rent. Then, I came across this item in which for some reason, Suruga Bank apparently had taken 64,000 yen out of my account for some reason at the end of last month. I didn't recall any business with that bank. That itch got a bit more fiery, and so that was another possibility added onto the Whodunit. I walked briskly over to the juku and tried to remember what business I ever had with Suruga Bank but couldn't come up with a thing. Finally, I had to ask the boss for some help. We tracked down the phone number for their call centre and tried to get down to the bottom of the matter. As it turned out, the 64,000 yen was the money that I'd withdrawn at a convenience store last week to pay off my bills; the ATM in the convenience store belonged to Suruga which then made its presence known in my bankbook.

As for the strange phone call, I accessed it again from the juku phone which seems to have a better handle on the tone and volume of the message. It turned out it was the cleaners; the lady there just wanted to inform me that she'd overcharged me for taking in the blankets. Man, amazing what life can throw at you to get something resolved.

Mild Jr. has his hands full today. He won't be coming to a lesson tonight for the very reason that his base du guerre, The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is having its grand opening. I saw the poster in the subway and it's a huge behemoth of a structure. I'm sure just patrolling inside the hotel would be a major expedition.

And then I came across another picture...this time of that Gherkin Building clone in West Shinjuku. It's actually known as the Cocoon Building because of its wrapped look outside. It's due to open in October. There is a smaller globular building being built next to it. The picture in the subway had the complex on it side. Frankly, from that view, the complex kinda looks like a twig and berries...if you know (cough, cough) what I mean.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tuesday July 8, 1:43 p.m.

With most of the day off, I have been able to get some of the domestic stuff out of the way such as sending two of the winter blankets finally off to the cleaners. They were piled on top of the others to form a rather formidable obstacle into my bedroom. Well, the pile is now less formidable....and so is my wallet...goodbye 2800 yen.

My trip to Ichikawa City Hall was not in vain. There were two people at the Foreign Residents' Help Desk who looked for a decent clinic to have that checkup. Apparently, there is a place straight down from Gyotoku Station that will have me looked at. Now, all that needs to be done is go over and bend over.

Afterwards, I had an early lunch at the nearby KFC. They've been campaigning their newest concoction, their super hot chicken sandwich. Well, it didn't exactly have been begging for water, but it did have a bit of a sting to it.

I did succumb to my impulses and catch the last part of the finale from Season 4 of "Doctor Who" on YouTube. Again, I see that the good Doctor doesn't seem to get along with the mothers of companions. But it was tragic to see how Donna became a better person, only to revert back to her self-absorbed mensch. Still, I'll have about a year before I actually do get to see Season 4 on tape. Although I think that some of the previous companions will probably show up again now and then, I think the show has reached a crossroads and should take off in a new direction without needing to lean on Rose or Captain Jack anymore. The changing of the guard between Russell Davies and Stephen Moffatt, plus the fact that 2009 will only have 3 specials should make the transition easier.
Monday July 7, 9:09 p.m.

Slim ended up having an easier time of it at that party with the Germans on Friday. I'm sure that must've boosted his confidence no end. He's gonna be bringing in some conversations that he'll have to use when he takes off to the land of sauerkraut and Steffi Graf next week. He's already booked another couple of lessons before he does take off. Still waiting to see what Miss Sedona wants to accomplish in the time before she takes for her namesake place.

Had a pleasant conversation with the new staffer, TM. She's done her time in Canada, which seems to be a pattern with our previous staffers with the exception of The Admin. She used to live on Christie for a couple of months, so probably had access to a lot of that fine Korean cooking.

Well, tomorrow I just have those juku classes but I'll probably be taking off a bit earlier to: 1) escape the heat in my home, and 2) talk with someone at City Hall concerning the physical checkup I'm due for; it'll probably be a pipe dream but perhaps there may be some clinic which has an English-speaking doc in Ichikawa. I did get my NHI premiums, by the way. Not too harmful to my health although I would prefer not paying them.
Monday July 7, 7:08 p.m.

I guess my Genki Rockets obsession continues. I checked out the conversation on one of the Japanese pop music forums. The string has been on since the 2007 Live Earth Concert Tokyo exactly a year ago. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thought that Genki Rockets opening the Tokyo leg at Makuhari Messe (the clip is on the DVD of the new album) wasn't the best strategic move...especially that cheesy speech by Lumi. Man, I had to take off the headphones to avoid getting diabetic. Not impressive. I think a speech given by Goofy at Tokyo Disneyland had more gravitas. For a concert that had Linkin Park and Rihanna as headliners, starting Genki Rockets that way must've been a bit of a laugher for the folks who did show up early. It may not be surprising that the songs in the clip had a sudden fade out before they were to end. Faint applause is as bad as faint praise.

Still, it must be wonderful to be so youthful...from what I gather from the conversation string, all of the folks are under 20; they are just gushing about "Heavenly Star". I'm gonna have to take a second listen to some of those new tracks. None of the new ones hit me like a brick but they have the kernels to grow on me.

Looks like we've got a new staffer; she's being given the basics by current staffer AK who usually works the Monday day shift. TM is who she'll be.
Monday July 7, 5:15 p.m.

Today's forecast: cloudy and warm with scattered policemen in the Tokyo area. It is the start of the G-8 (more accurate to say G-22) Summit up in Lake Toya, Hokkaido (or if I can be permitted to be a bit Jacksonian, LaToya). Although the meeting of the world leaders is taking place at a fortress-like hotel hundreds of kilometres away from the capital, The Big Sushi itself is on high alert. There are cops crawling everywhere in the stations and in the major sections. The officers are sporting those red vests that seem to have become part of their regular blue uniforms; I've seen solitary men in blue sporting a huge baton, standing on large blocks at strategic points in the stations and at intersections just looking like landlocked lifeguards. As I was walking through Shibuya towards The Lady's house, I saw a scrum of about 10 cops conferring; The Lady sardonically remarked that they were probably thinking about what to order for lunch.

That was one of the topics we covered during the chat with The Lady and The Matron. Another topic was on something that I'd never would've believed could happen to either woman...a form of snobbery. One time, The Matron and her hubby, a fine lawyer, went to a pretty exclusive French restaurant in Tokyo. Her husband doesn't really drink and normally that wouldn't have posed a problem, but apparently no less than the manager came out and "suggested for future places" other restaurants that would be "more accomodating to" teetotalers. In other words, they were being dissed for not opting for alcohol...always the product in fine restaurants which tend to inflate the bill...and therefore incomes. Well, hubby had a bit of a temper tantrum; not sure if the pair did stay for the dessert but they made sure they wouldn't go back again. And frankly, I couldn't blame them. Such a place dips into the level set aside for ramen shops whose tyrannical owners forbid speaking from the customers during ingestion of their noodles.

SIL was also another student I haven't seen in a couple of weeks. She was doing as fine as usual; we just gabbed on the latest news of the week. Apparently, the 2008 rankings for the first half of the year for "Fresh Faces" have been released. Pop cultural phenomena such as the cute techno unit Perfume, and late Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita's grandson, tarento DAIGO were up in the Top 10. However, topping off the men's side was Sekai no Nabe Atsu, the comedian who has given everyone a fun way to count to 40, and for the women was Edd Harumi with her "Goooooood" schtick. Will either of them be still popular this time next year? Maybe Edd can hang on since she's a trained stage actress (she's already slated as one of the main characters in a hospital drama this quarter) but I have a feeling that Nabe Atsu will end up on the pile of has-beens which include Razor Ramon HG, The Guitar Samurai and, I suspect, Yoshio Kojima.

It'll be a quiet Monday since I only have one more student at Speedy's. It'll be Slim at 7:30 since there are no other students slotted here and The Full-Timer has gone off to Singapore for some R&R. And for tomorrow, it'll be just the juku crew since the stars have conspired to have both The Beehive and 002 off this Tuesday. Not too bad for me since things get really nuts for me on Wednesday and Thursday.

Yesterday capped off the first truly hot weekend in the Kanto this year. I was literally sweating to the oldies in my oast of an apartment. It went to 31 degrees C in my humble abode but did I turn on my AC? Nope, I gaman'ed by just putting on my tiny electric fan and then taping on some of that load of dry ice packs that I've collected over the years from culinary presents needing refrigeration. Why the insanity? Well, I simply don't wanna pay the just-as-insane prices to TEPCO. I'll hold off as long as I can...I am lucky that I'm not home a lot of the time but I think I'll have to succumb in August.

Well, the cliffhanger that had all Whovians on the edge of their seats for a week was finally resolved on Saturday night. With all of the imaginative plot possibilities that had been bandied about amongst the "Doctor Who" fandom all week, the final episode finally had some of the fans (including that fellow in Sudbury, Ontario) saying "I told you so" a certain extent. There was still one little happening which probably did catch everyone off-guard. So, all of that talk on who'll be replacing David Tennant can be held off for at least another year.

I'm gonna have to be checking out some of those reviews for my recently acquired Genki Rockets disc. The Tower Records catalog classified it as an example of House music while HMV called it a Club album. I may be missing something but I just thought it was something descended from "The Archies" much as I did like it.