Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday July 18, 7:02 p.m.

The Big Lug was sweating a bucket in his blazer...incredible how anyone can wear anything more than a shirt in this mugginess. Unfortunately for him, not only today but the rest of the long weekend will be anything but since he's in the insurance biz. Still, he manages to get to some pretty swanky destinations on his days off. Monaco, anyone? I found out he's quite the beer connoisseur. He ravenously wrote down the other American beer brands I once knew like Schlitz and Pabst when we got onto the topic. Also, we got on to talk about ol' Slowhand himself...Eric Clapton, and the fact that he may have a condo in Aoyama. He wouldn't be the first music star to take up residence in The Big Sushi, though. I think Ray Parker Jr....he of "Ghostbusters" also a regular here and has been for some time. Strangely enough, we actually did do some of the textbook but we sidetracked once more to talk about "Batman"; we both watched the campy TV series as kids...another old program that made it to these shores like "Bewitched" and "Combat".

Not much happened after that. Speedy interviewed another woman to take over on the night shift. I guess the bossman must've been very impressed (she was wearing the usual dark blazer and skirt that a lot of newly-minted grads wear in March) since once the talk was over an hour later, he introduced her to BC and me as the new Tuesday night admin....which basically means that unless there's a blue moon, she and I will probably never meet since I've got classes here at the juku.

The skies did open up during The Big Lug's lesson but by the time I left the school a couple of hours later, it was wet but not raining. We'll all be doing our own thing over the weekend. Speedy and his wife will be enjoying their 6th anniversary at an onsen while BC may be doing another trek with her walking buddies, and I may just hang out at Makuhari Messe to see what erupts at The Jedi Temple.

I've been enjoying a new book from the Speedy bookshelves. This one's called "Busting Vegas" and the plot sounds notoriously like the one for that Kevin Spacey movie "21". It's likely the movie was based on the novel. It's been a good pageturner; I've always liked flicks which show the internal workings of a world....whether that be the world of the military, the world of espionage or in this case, the world of breaking Vegas.

I had dinner at that family restaurant near Urayasu Station. The last time I passed by the place, it was undergoing renovation. Well, some weeks later, I stopped by again since I felt I was too early to arrive at the juku. The new place reminded me of that after picture of Veronica's Restaurant in one of my World Link textbooks. It was spanking new with some hi-tech drink dispensers. I was glad to see, though, that the menu still had the same stomach-filling hamburg steak plates.

One of the reasons that I like my job as English teacher for the masses is that I can get some great stories from my students. The Temp gave me one story of an inadvertent adventure about her time with some buddies in Los Angeles several years ago. Apparently, their rental car got stolen from a shopping mall parking lot in the evening but a Good Samaritan in the form of the manager of the store they were in assisted in trying to get the car back (of course, they didn't get the whole thing back). The manager surmised (correctly and unfortunately) that the car had probably been dumped in South Central LA...far from a pleasant little neighbourhood at night...and proceeded to drive my student and her buddies on the search. On the drive into, through, and out of the area, the manager's car got thumped by some homeys while the manager reassured everyone that everything would be OK. The Temp must've thought that she was on safari in the wildest jungles of Africa. She said that she felt as if she had been in an MTV hip-hop video. She said it was the longest 10 minutes of her life. She never explained how they got the car out of there, but I think by the time they got out of the area, she was just happy that she and her friends got out with their lives. Just one of those stories that will never get printed in a Fodor's.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Friday July 18, 12:40 p.m.

Eerily quiet here at Speedy's...not sure if the bossman did something to get BC moody again, but I think she's able to do that all by herself.

Yesterday as expected, I was run a bit ragged by the schedule. There was a bit of a time scrunch as I had to immediately make the transition from Miss Sedona to The Carolinan and then to The Temp over at the cafe. And then the cafe was a lot noisier than usual which made communication a bit on the difficult side. The Carolinan and BC went off to meet their mutual friend for dinner at Mo-Yan, that curry place I've been going to. Kinda surprised that BC would go again since even an 80% of normal size dish would probably have her writhing in pain.

I just have The Big Lug in about an hour and then I'm done here at Speedy's. I do have the Ace and Jolly at the juku tonight, though. After that, I've got nada for the next three days since we're entering the long Marine Day weekend. I'm kinda debating about going to that Star Wars Convention at Makuhari Messe. Automan told me that I shouldn't miss the opportunity but frankly I'm also a bit wary about ordering tickets online; I'm showing more of my analog self when I say that I would prefer just to buy the ticket at the site itself. And frankly, being a long weekend, I'm not sure how many otaku will show up for the three days. Could get kinda scary on the buses and trains heading into the complex...imagine sitting next to Darth Maul. I was surprised to find out that "Star Wars" hadn't come out to the Japanese theatres for over a year (July 24th, 1978) after its debut in the States....which is why the celebration is taking place 31 years later. Still, I'll probably head out Makuhari if only to get out of my sauna of an apartment. Happy to say, though, that my TEPCO bill isn't significantly higher than last month's which means that my air conditioner austerity is working.

It's looking pretty ominously dark out there to the north. The weather forecast did say rain was coming. I'm just worried we may get a repeat of that short but nasty downpour from Saturday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thursday July 17, 8:50 a.m.

Another morning, another chat with The Patent Attorney, another long day ahead of me. Luckily, I was able to get most of the photocopying done last night. Still from 3 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., it'll be virtually non-stop teaching with just 15-minute breaks in between lessons. Whoa! Memories of NOVA...
Wednesday July 16, 10:16 p.m.

Feel pretty baked after a long day. 001 was her usual life-of-the-party self. Next Wednesday will be her day off so she couldn't be bothered to show up here all the way from her neck of the woods in Kanagawa Prefecture. The Diver was fine but was showing a few bits of her old skittish self.

I just got a bunch of copying done for tomorrow's lessons. Things could get kinda hairy since I've got 6 of them: Grandma Dynamite, The Yogist, Miss Sedona in between both Sisters of State and then The Temp to wrap up. Thursday will be the Hump Day of the week for sure.

Looks like Mild Jr has only been at his new post for a week and already he's been meeting some of the weirdos. Apparently, some guy has been coming into The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel holding a silver spoon and asking where Mickey Mouse is. He's become such a regular that Mild Jr. and the others have gotten to calling the local wacko Spoonman. Then, there was the time a few nights ago when my student was doing the night patrol and found a woman sleeping in one of the banquet halls. She nonchalantly asked what time the buffet would be starting up. Mild answered her and then politely asked her to come back when the buffet begins. She complied peacefully and ended up sleeping outside on one of the benches. Life is indeed a parade.
Well, BC was pretty normal today thankfully. If she can hold onto this persona, then the rest of the month will go smoothly. TM had her latest stint here with no problems. Speedy has hired another night person for Tuesdays, and a new Saturday person will be starting up from next week. That full-time person to finally fill The Admin's shoes is still out there, though.

One of those jaded Western critics in one of the free English-language magazines (nope, it's not METROPOLIS) gave a decidedly not-negative review of the first album by Perfume, that trio of vocoder-assisted girls. He even gave some compliments on the album version of the group's very first hit, "Polyrhythm". Well, I guess "Game" may be worth a look-see. It'll certainly be my second vocoder-influenced album this year after getting Genki Rockets.

Got word from The Stick that she won't be able to go to that Star Wars Convention this weekend. Not that I'd been asking her to go out with me, although that was what she had thought.
Wednesday July 16, 5:34 p.m.

Now that I've passed the big 2,400, I like to send a belated birthday wish to singer Akina Nakamori who turned 43 on Sunday. The "Shojo A" girl hasn't really been seen all that much lately aside from releases of compilation albums of her hits from the 80s. After that suicide attempt of hers almost 20 years ago, she hasn't been the same since.

It's been a quiet interval since The Pessimist's lesson several hours ago. BC has been holding steady; she hasn't given any "Woe is me!" remarks, which is OK although I would've preferred saying that she was finally gonna do something about her depression. Speedy had that interview with that woman who'll become the new Tuesday night desk jockey. We still gotta find that full-timer during the day, though.

That revamped restaurant owned by that TV announcer has been collecting the flower displays and signboards with well-wishes from the celebs. Whenever a new business establishment is started up, whether it be a new company or a new pachinko parlour, people send over flowers and signboards with the donor's name or his company's name etched onto them. As I was passsing by the place, I recognized the names of tarento Hiroko Moriguchi and actress Keiko Takeshita. Actually, Speedy and his wife had gone into the place late last night for dinner. He said it was like an upper-class izakaya...not particularly cheap but good for a special occasion. He even saw that announcer come down from one of the upper floors and wish everyone a good appetite. As for me, I just went to the convenience store next door and picked up some fried rice and cheese-filled chicken nuggets with a mango juice. Yup, you guessed it...I did hit the washroom some minutes later...the stuff works better than Ex-Lax.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wednesday July 16, 12:51 p.m.

Well, so far so good. BC hasn't broken down into a puddle of lacrymal fluid. As long as she stays that way, we'll all be very happy.

The Pessimist came in and had his best class so far. He still wasn't the fastest kid on the block, but I tried to keep the questions straight and simple. He's cancelled his Friday class...we're entering a long weekend so he probably wanted to extend things even more for his family, so I don't have to come in til early afternoon when I teach The Big Lug. I wouldn't be surprised if The Lug even decided to can his lesson.

I'm wondering about attending that Star Wars Convention which will be taking place over the Marine Day long weekend. It's taking place relatively close to my neighbourhood in Makuhari Messe (what a perfectly Star Wars-y name for a convention complex), but I'm not exactly sure what I'll find. I did find out that Mark Hamill is due to show up for the first couple of days for autographs. But he'll be charging about 20,000 yen per signing. A little too rich for my blood. I guess for me it'll just be another round of looking around at all the costumed folks walking with their lightsabers. I've yet to hear from The Stick about her opinion. Kinda wonder if the local restaurants in the area such as The Outback will be serving special dishes with cheesy names such as Dagobah Donuts, Cheese Han-burgers or Force Fries. If any noodle shop comes out with Jar Jar (Binks) Mein, I'll seriously consider renting the Death Star.

Anyways, time for lunch...
Wednesday July 16, 10:25 a.m.

This could be a long least, in terms of administration here at Speedy's. I came into work about 20 minutes ago. The bossman was just about to enter his class with Grandma Tango when he let me know that BC was in major sob mode all day yesterday. The two of us were wondering about fast-tracking that hiring process for the new day-to-day person.

Still, it'll be a relatively easy day in terms of lessons. Just 3 of them today with The Pessimist followed by 6 hours of downtime before 001 and The Diver arrive here. Mind you, that first student almost tapped me out of energy with his molasses-like responses.

Jolly did arrive last night, and although he was the last guy of the night, he was in pretty high spirits. We actually did gab about what our futures could be like in about a couple of decades. He's fallen in love with Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu recently, so he said he'd like to open up his own little pharmacy there someday. I'm sure The Ace would probably like to start his own coffee shop as well. I did use some of his gift of strong coffee grounds (he ground them himself) from his Starbucks seminar the other day to produce some iced coffee over the weekend. Well, I guess I'll be well covered in 2028 to get some medicine and coffee.

Man, that Heath Ledger...what he has apparently achieved in death....the critics are swooning about his take on The Joker for "The Dark Knight" which will be hitting Japan in a couple of weeks.
Tuesday July 15, 9:15 p.m.

Well, barring an unannounced dotakyan (which he has done a few times in the past), Jolly ought to be showing up tonight after 2 weeks away. Suzanne still had some drama to divulge considering her boyfriend situation. At this point, she's apparently given him the heave-ho although it seems to be more of a request for some distance than an outright break-up. She still wants to do a bit more traveling before settling down. I also found out that she's part of the yoga group.

Mild Jr. has been experiencing the growing pains of The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel which is par for the course, especially for a place that seems to rival Rhode Island in sheer size. Junior told me that the hotel can hold close to 3,000 guests in its 700 rooms, and that she's all booked up until well into January. Well, I guess asking for a reservation would seem to be out.

The Milds are just getting prepped for their own little excursion to Germany from this weekend. Ironically, Slim has taken off for Deutschland on business today. I don't think they'll be meeting by coincidence. The Milds will be visiting the former East Germany while Slim is firmly entrenched in Munich.

As for BC, I haven't heard anything from Speedy in the form of an SOS or anything, so at least things seem to be stable for right now. Not quite sure how tomorrow morning will be in terms of things between me and her, since the last time I spoke to her on Saturday was when I lightly chastised her for feeling so sorry for herself. Not sure if she'll be continuing her sullen posturing and cold shoulder treatment. Well, there's nothing more that I can do...she has to come out of it by herself. Otherwise, it'll be a long 3 weeks before she finally leaves the coop.
Tuesday July 15, 4:15 p.m.

The dog days of summer are definitely here to stay in The Big Sushi. Another scorcher. Had the morning off so I could get some ironing done and even catch "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN. Anderson was basically acting as referee between conservative Bill Bennett and that Ragin' Cajun guy who looks like an alien/human hybrid. Just saw 002 for the regular house call, and enjoyed some tea and watermelon slices.

Got the usual juku folks. Along with Suzanne and The Milds, Mild Jr. should be here tonight. He was away last week since he was pulling security during the grand opening of The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel in Urayasu. If the poster is any indication, the hotel should merit its own postal looks like it could be bigger than Monaco. And I think Jolly should be here tonight although one well-placed phone call after 8 p.m. could determine things once again.

Got a call from Speedy this morning. I thought it could've been that dreaded call that BC has finally flipped and the ambulance took her away. However, he just told me that Medicine Man had to cancel his lesson for tomorrow night. So I may be able to hit home a bit earlier. Definitely not a Hump Day tomorrow. I've got The Pessimist at 11 followed by 6 hours of Internet time before 001 is in the house and then The Diver.

There have been a number of strikes across the planet by various segments of labourers complaining about rising fuel prices. Well, it was Japan's turn today when a whole bunch of fishermen held their own strike decrying the high price of gas for their boats. Not sure what this will accomplish since PM Fukuda can do little than shrug. Speaking of whom, the media apparently gives him another couple of months before he leaves his post.

This weekend could be a huge one for Star Wars fans. Apparently, Makuhari Messe in Chiba City will be hosting a Star Wars convention for the long weekend. I think the complex will be a perfect fit since it does seem to have some Coruscanti influences in layout. The Stick, my old student, is the biggest native Star Wars fan (she even like Jar Jar Binks, go fig); I kinda wonder if she'll shuck out some yen (actually for a 1-day pass, it is quite cheap to take part in some of the general activities...about 3,000 yen and change) to head over there in her Jedi robes and lightsaber. I can just see a whole bunch of Padawans, Knights, Masters and Darths strutting about in Tatooine-level heat...I can also see a whole bunch of emergency workers attending to this bunch as they collapse from heatstroke. They will also swoon when they see people like Mark Hamill and Peter Mayhew show up. Carrie Fisher was supposed to come as well but cancelled at the last minute...maybe the sight of otaku begging her to come out in her slave girl outfit from "Return of the Jedi" was too much for her to bear. But then again, seeing her now in her slave girl outfit may be too much for me to bear. Still, I think this love-in for the Lucas crew could outstrip the hoopla surrounding the premiere of "The Phantom Menace" almost 9 years ago. I have absolutely no plans this weekend, so you never know, I may just take a look-see.

I was surprised to find out from Speedy last night about this restaurant across from the school. It had undergone a renovation of sorts recently, and the grand re-opening was last night. The bossman told me that it was owned by one of the big announcers on local TV...not quite on the Tamori or Mino Monta level, but still a very well-known face. He was wondering if the place were open to anyone or if it were in kashikiri (private party) lockdown with celeb buddies. In any case, I just passed by the place and opted to go for a late Big Mac set.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday July 14, 8:07 p.m.

And no, Slim, ain't here yet. Looks like he screwed up the time again. He's a really nice guy but I could've appreciated getting out of here a bit earlier than usual. I know that he'll be greatly apologetic, though.

As for the continuance of yesterday's odyssey in the shimmering heat, after Ginza I took the subway down to Omotesando via the Ginza Line. Getting off there, I checked out Echika, the underground food court that's connected to the station. I was a bit surprised to see that there were still quite a few tables empty although I could hardly call the area devoid of life. Getting topside, I walked down the famous avenue to the main intersection which divides swanky Omotesando from funky Harajuku. There have been a few changes around that area. For one thing, there is no more HMV next to LaForet. Looks like it's been replaced by some sort of non-descript CD/magazine shop which still had some sort of event; there was quite a lineup going up the stairs for at least a few floors. There were the usual Harajuku fashionistas in their various rags waiting. Of course, the old regional HQ for NOVA is long gone, and the hot dog place has been replaced by a B1 taco stand. I did the crazy thing and walked the gauntlet through Takeshita Dori, the busiest street in Harajuku. I think it's alternately called Killer Dori, and in consideration of yesterday's heat, it was aptly named. The temperature was probably a good 3-5 degrees hotter than the rest of the area due to the crowds milling about in there. There were the usual Harajuku Girl shops and crepe stores. But I did see an incongruous site at the other end. For some reason, Wolfgang Puck has built one of his Express cafes there. I also noticed that the Peanuts shop has been replaced by some other shop.

Took the Fukutoshin Line for the 2nd time up to Nishi-Waseda, but it was not to explore the area once more but just as a connection to get to Takadanobaba Station on The Tozai Line. Again, it wasn't too arduous a walk but I did appreciate getting into cooler surroundings on the subway, although it was a short hop to Nakano Station. It was time for a Sunday visit to Sun Plaza Nakano. In the past few years, I've only visited the HQ of Mandarake during the relatively empty weekdays, so it was nice to visit with all of the otaku there. There were quite a few Goth-Lolis walking about, and there was even some sort of Maid Cafe action on the 3rd floor. Judging from the conversation, it sounded like one of those cafes in which the Maids first verbally abused their customers before putting on the nice act. In any case, no thank you. A lot of the CD shops were selling old stuff for 100 yen/disc. Too bad, there wasn't anything worth even getting the coins out. I was a bit tempted by an Orquesta De La Luz album but decided to hold off.

Well, I held off for as long as I could but I had to head off for home. My place was registering a good 32 degrees when I got home. Still, I didn't turn on the AC...that could all change.
Monday July 14, 7:16 p.m.

Back at the school after teaching The Full-Timer. She's refreshed from her trip to Singapore; yup, she had been able to get the ticket. She had a good time there...she got treated to Shark's-Fin something or other, and took part in a night safari. I got a nice little bookmark from her as an omiyage.

As for Lulu's first official lesson, she was pretty good. Had some rust on her since she was struggling for words, but otherwise pretty solid on the basics.

Just now waiting for my final lesson of the day...Slim's final lesson before he takes off for Germany tomorrow...the raison d'etre for all of the lessons here for the past several weeks. It should be an interesting one. Hopefully, he doesn't get too hopped up on the beer and sausages.

As for the weekend...well, I was rather surprised to find out that while Speedy and I were unfortunate witnesses to BC's emotional storm, there had been a very localized but super intense natural storm of Biblical proportions in Ginza, Shibuya and Ebisu. The skies had darkened here in Shinjuku but no precip...however, those other areas got majorly poured upon, bringing down a crane at one construction site (just one injury, thankfully) and a tree in Ebisu.

I taught Tully & The Coffeemaker yesterday morning. Actually, the lesson went pretty well. Just stuck on one topic and managed to sidetrack nicely. Despite the fact that temps had gone up into the mid-30s (and of course, that would be Celsius degrees), I decided to make a bit of a recce into various parts of Tokyo instead of hitting home and sweltering there for countless hours. Yup, it was hot walking but at least I could get respites in the various department stores and other shops. I first hit Yurakucho; just ended up at The Colonel's for lunch and had their newest menu item in the form of Boneless Chicken. Not surprisingly, they look a lot like the shaka-shaka chicken of McDonalds.

Then, took a side trip into both HMVs in Yurakucho and then into Itocia. Quite a lot of lineups at the various restaurants, as would be expected on a Sunday afternoon. Krispy Kreme #2 also had one but only one requiring 25 minutes max. I walked down to that other major music store, Yamano Music. It was pushing their jazz discs once again. Unlike Akihabara, Ginza still maintained their hokoten despite the heat. A news crew was there interviewing various pedestrians about how they were coping with the sweating.

Anyways, more later...Slim should be here any second now.
Monday July 14, 4:26 p.m.

Another scorcher out there. I've been going through the canned drinks and the menthol wipes as if there were no tomorrow. Should be around 32 C although it's probably higher in the city. Saw The Class Act for the 2nd last time before the summer hiatus. The Lady was regaling us about her latest culinary find at a place called Quintessence in the tony area of Tokyo called Shiroganedai...any of the ladies there are shiroganeze, doncha know? Apparently, the chef there is a young genius at the way he can whip up French dishes out of local ingredients. No chance I'll ever get there but perhaps I can let some of The Beehive know. I also saw SIL for her 90 today. I really appreciated the frosty air conditioning there since I'm not using any of mine yet til it's absolutely necessary...the way it's going, I'll probably be accessing it first thing tonight.

The Nurse just called up. Speedy is out of the office and AK is out in Thailand, so I had to handle the phones. She's cancelled the class for this Thursday, so my Hump Day won't be quite as Humpy as expected. I'm currently waiting for one of my new students....Lulu. Yeah, I know, a rather weird name, but since I've already got someone named The Hawaiian (although she's no longer on the radar), I've just named her after the capital city of the state that she used to live in some years back.