Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sunday July 27, 2:28 p.m.

Well, Murphy's Law has struck again, I see. In the last few days, I've contacted The UL's friend no less than 3 times by e-mail. No response. I finally called her up on her cellphone only to get a message machine last night. I dutifully left a message. No response last night or this morning. I checked my own messages twice, before and after seeing Tully. Nothing...I did leave my phone number.

Then, when I checked my e-mail, I suddenly get two stinkin' responses from The UL's friend stating that she couldn't get a cellphone signal in her house and that she has been busy all week. Well, so have I! What the hell was she doing that she couldn't send one lousy brief response? And she still didn't address the commuting distance. It was all La-di-da. Obviously, my response to her was more diplomatic...I just said that I sent all those messages to her without any sort of response so I (naturally) assumed that she was no longer interested and that I had decided to come back home.

A couple of minutes ago, I checked my e-mail again. I got the third response from her in less than 12 hours...whoa! Let's break out the champagne glasses! Her answer was "Does that mean you're not coming today?" DUH! If I only had a computer virus to send her...still, I was terse but polite and confirmed her question.

I didn't want to involve The UL but I just had to let her know the situation. It'll probably be somewhat embarrassing for her and may put some strain on our acquaintanceship but just in case her buddy decides to call her out on the carpet, I decided to give her full knowledge of the situation. Frankly speaking, I think I have to take partial responsibility as well...for leaping before looking. Well, they say one learns far more from bad experiences than good...and I think I learned a lot today. Just got a bad feeling that this isn't quite over yet. And the problem is that she has my phone number now.

As it turned out, it was just Tully today. The Coffeemaker got stuck at the office due to some mechanical problems. He'll be heading to Xian, China next month with a friend from that city for some vacation. It should be very interesting.

The first of the two telethons are on TV today. It's the Fuji-TV one which doesn't seem to have anything to do with any fund-raising. Last year, the theme was on all those wacko comedians; this year, it seems to be focused on one comedian....Akashiya Sanma, the obnoxious Osaka veteran with the horrible overbite. Even this year's logo has a smiley face implanted with a huge wall of upper teeth. I won't be seeing too much of him today, that's for sure.

Well, lousy mood. Just gonna go home and get some cleaning done before dinner.
Saturday July 26, 4:59 p.m.

Got through The Bostonian's lesson without so much as a scratch. The chapter itself wasn't exactly the most thrilling one but out came The Dancing Bear, and everything was all right.

Cozy has another assignment for me to be done by Tuesday. No problems. I've still yet to hear from The Circus about that translation assignment...maybe they found a professional translator to do that one.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Saturday July 26, 2:55 p.m.

3 down, 1 to go. Just have The Bostonian left on the agenda before finishing up today. The Businesswoman was in fine form; she's learning bossa nova guitar right now along with English. Never thought she would be the type. That new model lesson student is a movie publicist...just up my alley. Our talk was good enough so that she's signed up for 4 lessons. And she was pretty impressed by my meeting with David Cronenberg years and years ago. Right now, her project is "Hellboy 2". Then, there was The, he's a sweater...I mean, he must be suffering in this heat..he was just sweating litres. Got to see The Manhattanite who's been scheduled with Speedy the last couple of lessons. She managed to eke by on her last test.

I've sent yet another missive to The UL's friend. This time, I'm asking her to call me tonight at home to confirm things up.
Saturday July 26, 10:41 a.m.

Apparently, Gunma Prefecture got majorly hailed upon last night (never thought I'd see hail in this country...even on TV), and Saitama Prefecture got the buckets of precip while Chiba Prefecture remained as dry as a bone.

Back here at Speedy's. It's just BC and me for now. Speedy himself should be here during my lesson with The Businesswoman. Feeling pretty lethargic...kinda wish I was just vegging out in my apartment. But I've got four lessons today, including another trial lesson. I'm gonna try to keep my energies and my mood up.

Still nothing from the UL's friend. Hmm...
Friday July 25, 8:08 p.m.

Well, Murphy's Law was back in session just now. Sure enough, just four minutes into the Witching Hour, Jolly called the boss up to say that by the time he got back from work, it would be past 10. Therefore, dotyakan. I'm now off...until tomorrow at 11 when it's back to Speedy's for four lessons.

I'll just hang about for another 20 minutes, then I'll be headed for home. I'll take one more check to see if that UL buddy did respond.
Friday July 25, 7:34 p.m.

Back at the juku. Keeping my fingers crossed about Jolly. The witching hour for him is usually between 8 and 9 in terms of dotyakan. I doubt that he'll forget this time since I'm sure the boss kinda boxed his ears last week for that little error. After my stint at the I-cafe, I ended up having dinner at The Colonel's. With all of the pop I've imbibed over the past few hours (2 Cokes at the I-cafe, a ginger ale at KFC and now the usual iced coffee here), I should be properly diabetic.

Still no word from The UL's friend. I may just give her a direct call tomorrow night when I get back from work.

Weatherwise, I guess Tokyo's heading toward a Meditteranean-type climate. Searing hot during the day but refreshingly cooler (but not cool) in the evening. Still, walking toward the juku, I can work up quite a sweat.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Friday July 25, 3:48 p.m.

It's probably the hottest I've felt this year so far. Certainly didn't help that a lot of Akihabara consists of concrete. Managed to get up into the coolness of the gigantic Yodobashi Camera near the station. Since it was after 2 p.m., the lunch time crowd had all dissipated from the food floor. I got over to the kaiten sushi there and got an easy stool. Wolfed down 10 plates of sushi...not great in variety but a lot of chu-toro and o-toro for my liking. Even though I had a coupon slashing 777 yen from my bill, it still cost me about 2,000. Still, considering that the news has been proclaiming that Japan is running out of fish, I decided to get my fill before the sushi chefs start filling in the gaps with fake crab and soybeans.

As I sloshed my way from Yodobashi to the main drag of Akiba, the sidewalks were just flinging the heat right up in our faces. My handkerchief (a necessity in this weather) was permanently attached to my right hand. It was lucky then that I did try out three cologne testers at that duty-free shop before getting my new bottle. At least, if I'm fragrant, it'll be on the good side.

Heading back to my neck of the woods, I was wondering whether to just go home, veg out under the AC, and get some household stuff done or come here to the I-cafe. The latter choice obviously won out since the idea of doing the household stuff in this heat wasn't particularly appealing to me.

It's been several hours since I sent out my plea to The UL's friend's cellphone and still no response. Well, time to take the reins...if she doesn't respond by tomorrow morning, I'll just make up an excuse and call the deal off. I think it's been plain rude of her not to respond to any of my queries, and frankly I'm not really all that keen to head over to Yokohama in this heat.
Friday July 25, 10:31 a.m.

Got home at a relatively more decent hour last night...11:30 p.m. My internal alarm clock was more on the ball, too. I woke up on the subway just before I reached my station instead of overshooting.

Well, I had to send over that final letter over to The UL's friend. I was trying to be subtle to get her answer in the past couple of e-mails to her about whether I would need to come over to Yokohama every Sunday to teach her (nay I say). Since I didn't get any hint about her feelings on that matter, I've finally had to ask her the question point-blank. Hopefully, that'll get a response coming over quickly. If not, well, I may have to think about giving her a pass.

Anyways, I've only got The Pessimist at Speedy's. And then, it's just Jolly tonight...maybe...The Ace cancelled his lesson again. I'll probably be heading over to Akiba, but not for anything electronic. There's one store that sells supposed cologne at fairly low prices. And considering the heat out there, I'll definitely need a new bottle since I'm almost out at home.
Thursday July 23, 10:03 p.m.

Another day has gone by. Managed to survive the rest of my lessons. Miss Sedona was her smiley self. And that model lesson student was quite good. For a lowbie, she's got a pretty good handle on structure...and oh-so-polite. Not sure if she's gonna take the bait, though. Usually, Speedy comes right on out and asks about availability on my schedule but tonight, she's gonna think about it.

As for BC, not sure about if and how we'll get her farewell party together. Not even sure if she really wants one...knowing her mood.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thursday July 24, 3:35 p.m.

Well, so far so good. I've gotten through 3 out of 5. Grandma Dynamite was her usual explosive self while The Yogist seemed to be even more ebullient. The new EIC student is so high that I wondered why she would even want to take the 3 lessons but Speedy just told me that she needed something to do during her summer vacation. There are some vocab holes that needed patching, though. She's now working for City Hall but used to work for the governing body of the JET Programme, CLAIR, a few years back. She was rather surprised to learn that I used to be a JET back in the day....probably couldn't believe that one of us dinosaurs would still be alive in the English teaching industry.

Well, Miss Sedona should be here in about half an hour.
Thursday July 24, 8:16 a.m.

Looks like I won't have to worry about acting as babysitter for The Patent Attorney this morning. He's apparently cancelled his lesson so I just have to wait for the bossman to show up.

It was one of those pissy nights last night. Since I had the late shift with Medicine Man and then Grandma Dynamite this morning, I had to rush on home to catch a bit of sleep...of course, I did that on the subway and ended up overshooting my station by a stop...which meant that I didn't get home until well past midnight. For a guy who has to be out of the apartment by 6:30 a.m., that's not good.

So, even a M6.8 earthquake off of Miyagi Prefecture in the north which sent some strong tremors through my area didn't break my bad mood. I figured something was up while I was shaving when I heard the silverware shaking like maracas all of a sudden. NHK was on the case within a minute and the other commercial stations followed suit...of course, after the funniest parts of the late-night variety shows were gotten through first.

I got sent a novel by Shard last night...a sci-fi called "Starquake"; should be interesting. The Entrepreneur thoroughly enjoyed "The Dark Knight". And DTE has been having her 15 minutes in the sun as an extra in "Shanghai", a film currently under production with John Cusack and Ken Watanabe. Apparently, she got recruited purely by accident.

That last book I leafed through, "Busting Vegas" was the first pageturner that I've gone through in some time. "Closing Time" and "Warped Passages" were just an ordeal, so it was refreshing that a book on The MIT Blackjack Team could read like a thriller. It just seems so strange that the recent flop, "21" with Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth (the new Tracy-Hepburn?) was based on the author's first book, "Bringing Down The House". I think "Busting Vegas" would've been a better base. I could even envision the actors who could've played the roles: Tobey McGuire and Kirsten Dunst/Gwyneth Paltrow as the romantic leads with Jake Gyllenhall as the team leader. And as the quietly terrifying Jack Galen, I could've seen a younger David Bowie (remember, this is just the Hollywood version of Fantasy Baseball here).
Wednesday July 23, 10:32 p.m.

Well, another full day and night at the school. Managed to keep myself busy on lesson planning and browsing through Wiki. The Diver was pretty spot-on tonight although the giddiness remains and Medicine Man was his usual steady self. But I'll be back first thing tomorrow morning with Grandma Dynamite and the usual cast of characters for Thursday: The Yogist, Miss Sedona and then a new model lesson student.

Looks like my last EIC student is gonna stay on as a regular student. Gonna have to find a new code name for her.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wednesday July 22, 12:51 p.m.

Enjoying my cool cocoon at the school although I know that I'll have to go out sometime to get dinner. As for lunch, though, The Nurse took care of that by giving me a bowl of some rice with aburaage, flaked tuna and mushrooms. Not sure what the occasion was but I'm happy to know that things with her husband are going well...I'd been a bit worried for the last couple of weeks. And The Pessimist, though slow, is doing OK in class.

The new kid on the block, Ray, is a quiet one although I'm wondering if that could be because of BC's influence. She seems to be settling in OK. Not sure how good her English is, though. Now that I'm halfway through, I just have some stuff to prep for the evening classes and perhaps even for Thursday's lessons as well. Once again, since I'll be finishing here late with Medicine Man, it'll just be a quick 5 hours of sleep at home before I'm back at it tomorrow morning.

I got word from The Chipmunk for the first time in several months. She's just changed her cell number and address. She was asking about The Wild Thing.
Wednesday July 23, 7:57 a.m.

Well, the unusual scheduling at the juku continues. I ended up just teaching one lesson there last night, the one for Suzanne. I don't think I've ever finished that early on a Tuesday since I first started teaching there 4 years ago. It was another one of those half-English lessons, half-counselling sessions for her...a lot of talk on the ever-shrinking circle of friends over time but the deepening of those friendships that are left. Pretty deep talk with a 26-year-old woman who looks like a Shibuya gyaru (but without the lousy attitude). Yep, got home at the unprecedented time of 8 p.m. last night...Mild Jr. and Jolly got bogged down with work, and The Milds are out in Germany right now.

The heat is definitely on now. We've had a full week of temps in the daytime of over 30 C. And so, the weatherman has given the inevitable warning of conserving water but trying to drink in as much liquid as one can. I woke up this morning at the ripe ol' time of 5:30 and had to contend with an even riper towel under my head soaked in my sweat. Glad to have gotten out of there.

I did go off to Shiodome on the holiday Monday to see if I could grab a hot dog at Nathan's...made the mistake the other day of calling it Hansen's...but the place had a huge lineup. In a way, though, it was good to see since I had been worried that the, perhaps the only branch left in Tokyo (I haven't checked the one at JR Shinagawa)...would leave us devoid of any decent franks but it looks like at least that branch was doing fine. Instead, I just bought something at my local supermarket for dinner. However, I did buy the latest CD by that kissing cousin of Genki Rockets, Perfume...that trio of mannequin-like girls who have taken the J-Pop world by storm this year. After that (backhanded) complimentary review of their "Game" album, I ended up buying their latest single, "Love The World". The techno beat is rather catchy, I have to admit, and it's probably closer to club music than the more teenage sound of Lumi. I think the song is almost a throwback to the eclectic sounds of the 80s band, PSY-S since the vocoder gets the girls' voices to resemble that of PSY-S' lead singer Chaka. Well, depending how soon I get my latest batch of cash, I may get that "Game" album pretty soon.

I have sent off that letter to The UL's friend...the one who wants me to come all the way to Yokohama for my dog-and-pony show this Sunday. Well, I just told conditions for teaching her, the main one being that I will teach her in Tokyo and not Yokohama. I sent the letter off when I was here on Monday. I have checked the inbox for the past couple of days but there has been no response....the fact that I sent it to her cellphone address means that she did get it. The fact that I've yet to get any sort of answer may mean that she's now musing very hard about my reluctance to commute to her neck of the woods. I'd be asking for a transportation fee along with the teaching fee in that case.

I've got word from The Lens that he and his wife will be coming back here again in a couple of weeks. Just about the worst time for them to come in terms of weather...if they're not weatherproofed for the hellish conditions, they'll probably be trying to look for every little nook and cranny of relatively cool shade.

Not quite a true Hump Day. I've got four on the floor today....The Nurse and The Pessimist in the morning, and then The Diver and Medicine Man in the evening. In between there will be 8 hours of downtime. I was actually thinking of going out into the city, but considering the heat and humidity, I may just enjoy being behind the monitor today.

Newswise, it's been split between two stories of sordidness. One is about the big scandal involving the prefectural board of education in Oita Prefecture in Kyushu. Apparently, some of the senior members have been involved in some influence-peddling and bribery in terms of getting promotions and padding examinations. And then, there's the case in nearby Saitama Prefecture where a junior high school girl apparently snapped and stabbed her father to death in the middle of the night. When this news broke late last week, the media had reported that the family was just one happy clan but now little bits and pieces of teenage angst and resentment are starting to ooze out of the woodwork.

This week is leading up to Doyo no Hi (The Day of the Ox)...but the food of choice is, of course, eel...preferably grilled in that savory-sweet sauce and placed on a hot bed of rice. Eating eel has that ability (true or not) of restoring stamina during the dog days of summer. And this is gotta be a true Only-In-Japan story...there have been cases of eel rustling...yep, bastards have been stealing some valuable squirmies from the eeleries to re-sell at top prices. Also, there has been the scandal of various eeleries mislabeling Taiwan-raised eels as Japan-raised squirmies. As slimy as that practice is, I think some of the blame has to be placed on the public as well for being so snobbish about how an eel should taste like.

The new kid on the block here at the school started her first day yesterday. Speedy called me up to tell me about a new model lesson in a couple of weeks, and he's kinda worried about how BC is training her. So far, it doesn't look like the newbie will be fleeing from us so that's a good sign.

Well, I guess with all the accolades that "The Dark Knight" has been getting, it just had to be inevitable that some bad luck would befall the movie. Nothing about the movie itself, but the star player...Christian Bale. Apparently, his mother and sister have accused him of assault at a London hotel. The headlines are already coming out with the terrible puns of "A Dark Night for The Dark Knight" and "Bale got Bail".

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Monday July 21, 1:20 p.m.

Well, it's been a full weekend since my last entry. I'm now doing this at Speedy's. I knew that finally getting de facto access to the school would pay dividends. I needed to get some copies done for 002 tomorrow so I came all the way here for that...and free Internet access. Meanwhile, the bossman and his wife are probably enjoying the hot springs.

Back on Friday, I was witness to something rather new...a double dotakyan. The Ace called in with an hour to spare to give his regrets. And Jolly just plain never showed up. The juku boss was quite apologetic but it was really no problem with me. I would've been far more annoyed if he did show up half an hour late than not at all. Besides, I could get free AC, free Net access, free iced coffee and even some experimental cooking from the boss in the form of bacon-wrapped asparagus spears...that, and I still got 1,600 yen just for showing up. Better than paying the 680 yen at the I-cafe.

I finally gave in to the Dark Side and headed out on Saturday to that Star Wars Convention in Makuhari Messe. As it has been for the past week, the heat and humidity were just crazy. And the fact that the convention complex is all done up in white concrete just raised both factors. It must've been 40 degrees C alone there without taking into effect the humidity. When I got to Makuhari Hongo Station on the Sobu Line, there was a pretty long line waiting for the bus. It turned out though that the vast majority of people there were waiting to catch the bus to Marine Stadium for the baseball game (the Chiba Lotte Marines scored 10 runs that day...and still lost since the other team managed to score 17), so it was a pretty empty bus just to Makuhari Station at the other end of the route.

Yup, it was as hot as Mos Eisley as I got off the bus. I didn't know exactly where the convention was taking place but I decided to have some lunch at the nearby Tony Roma's. Makuhari Messe is definitely a place for Western conventioneers. There were plenty of examples of good ol' American cooking. Tony Romas was there and across the street, there was an Outback Steakhouse and even the McDonalds had quite the few portly Americans. It'd been several months, if not a couple of years, since my last visit to the best known ribhouse in Tokyo. And Tony didn't disappoint. Had myself a Rib Lunch with what turned out to be a half-rack of Baby Backs with cole slaw and fries. Not too bad at all.

I approached the main convention centre and I knew I was coming to the right place when I saw folks going the other way carrying various Star Wars paraphernalia. It was interesting that the people carrying the stuff were the parents and not the children. As I entered the airport terminal-like building, I had still been wavering whether I should part with my 4,000 yen. Well, the conveniently positioned ATM and then the "Star Wars" fanfare playing on the stereo speakers finally crushed my hesitation. For my 4 bills, all I got was an ID collar. Then again, for that special audience with folks like Anthony Daniels and Mark Hamill, I would've needed to at least cough up another few more bills. Sorry, my economic status just wouldn't let me be that footloose and fancy-free.

The convention took up three full halls. As I went down the escalator, I descended into what would've truly been Mos Eisley if it had been transplanted into multiple airplane hangars. All it was missing was those bubbleheaded aliens playing "The Cantina" song from the original movie. There were plenty of the exhibitors and the exhibitionists....the former showing off their wares in the form of drawings and posters while the latter was represented by all sorts of Jedi, Imperial stormtroopers and one Princess Leia-as-the-slave-girl (rather too bad, I only saw one of those). There was even one Japanese fellow who had a very neatly trimmed beard and moustache to go with his Jedi robes...methinks, he's a big young Obi-Wan fan. And even the Gomp droid...that little walking box in that Jawa transport was ambling along, much to the little kiddies' delight. In addition, there were mockups of the Snow Speeder from "The Empire Strikes Back", the Speeder Bike from "Return of the Jedi" and that reptilian animal that the stormtroopers were riding in "A New Hope" set up for the kiddies and photo ops. Of course, the Lego guys were there with their more geometric versions of The Death Star, some other stands selling figures and even Tokyo Disneyland was still hawking Star Tours...the ride that I'd gone on almost 2 decades ago.

Of course, a Star Wars convention wouldn't be a Star Wars convention without the big guest appearances. I went to the autograph area and sure enough, I saw David (Darth Vader) Prowse and Ray (Darth Maul) Park taking pictures with the fans. I even brushed by Prowse as he was limping along on his walking stick so that I finally did get my brush with greatness (although it was with The Dark Side). Still, I kinda felt sorry for some of the other minor guests such as the woman who supposedly played one of the minor Jedi Knights and even Peter (Chewbacca) Mayhew; they were just fiddling their thumbs by their lonesome while Park was getting Krispy Kreme-like lineups. However, a major scrum developed in the centre of the hall, like one of those sudden thunderstorms that had been hitting us the week before when Anthony (C-3PO) Daniels just popped out of his autograph cubicle to meet-and-greet the masses. A sea of cellphone camera-toting fans was just clicking away like crazy. I could actually see the man through the outstretched arms by some miracle. As for the man-of-the-hour...Mark Hamill...a bunch of folks like me who didn't bother paying the huge tribute necessary to see him in the flesh just hovered outside the curtained-off sector as he was being introduced. I could barely recognize his voice through all the microphone reverb.

Not being a huge Star Wars fan anymore, I was a bit struck at how empty the convention was. I think the organizers could've easily fit everything into 2 halls instead of 3. Mind you, it was the first day...maybe yesterday and today have been a bit more crazier. I only went home with that ID tag as the souvenir. There really wasn't anything I wanted to buy from the merchandise. I could only imagine how The Stick would've reacted to all this stuff, though. However, she has probably grown out of her obsession as well.

Sunday was the day that I finally gave in and turned on the AC for the first time...but unlike previous years, I set the temp to 27 C and had it on for just 5 hours. Still, that 27 C felt like a freezer when compared to the 32 C temps that I'd almost gotten used to. GC called me up in what seems to be a return to those old night conversations that we'd done from time to time before an absence of several years. He told me about the "Watchmen" trailer which I caught on YouTube some minutes ago. Looks interesting. I hope it gets the buzz and acclaim next year that "The Dark Knight" has been catching like flypaper.

The Weather Office officially announced the end of the Rainy Season on Friday. Yep, the dog days of summer are here. I even heard a cicada buzzing away. But what is far more ominous is that food prices are going up yet again from August 1.

Well, I'm pretty much done here. May head over to Shiodome and grab myself a Hansens hot dog...that is, if the place still exists. I think the lowly frankfurter has lost the battle against the hamburger in this burg.