Friday, September 05, 2008

Saturday Sept. 6, 10:41 a.m.

Just finished Part 1 of that translation assignment given by The Corner. Not too, too difficult but it's always a good challenge of not just translating Japanese into English verbatim but also to get the right tone of what they are trying to say. The Saturday admin staff, Kay, has come in. She's definitely a quiet one...I think although she's come for the past few Saturdays now, we've only exchanged "Good morning" to each other.

I think I heard something that could be a cinematic car crash. Dark Horizons just posted that "Ghostbusters 3" is in production. Now, rumours being rumours, most likely the story behind it probably has more air than actual substance, but apparently the original cast of Murray, Ackroyd and Ramis are getting back together. Not sure if Ernie Hudson is also coming back; he may still be recovering from "Oz". Although I did like the first one (although the hype overrated it) and parts of the second, I'm not sure if doing another one with the original cast is probably the best thing...for one thing, both Ackroyd and Ramis are as globby-looking as Slimer now, and Murray has kinda gone into that serious, quirky movie area now. Probably a reboot a la the new "Batman" series is more sensible...get a new trio to portray Venkman, Stantz and Spengler...and definitely better and sharper writers.

Speaking of which, MB has confirmed the second viewing of "The Dark Knight" for tomorrow afternoon at the new Picadilly in Shinjuku. This time, The Satyr and Frodo will be joining us. It's been interesting...all the news has been that the movie has experienced flop sweat in Japan due to its overly dark nature, but the TokyoWalker satisfaction tracking system has shown its highest ratings for it. In any case, I'm wondering if it will stand up to a second viewing.
Saturday September 6, 10:07 a.m.

Saw The Ace last night. He and his girlfriend had a good time traveling through rural Fukushima Prefecture which is about a couple of hours north of Tokyo by Bullet Train. He got me and the juku boss a couple of packages of Mamadoru Cakes...pretty dense numbers which require a good strong cup of coffee.

Back for another round of Saturday classes...ugh, my shoulders are killing me. I'll be looking forward to my free Saturday next week. I've got The Intellectual for his first class in about a month, followed by The Businesswoman whom I also haven't seen for a month, and finally a model lesson student. It would be interesting comparing The Businesswoman with the Hip-Hop Girl...probably just 7 years separate the two but you couldn't find more contrast than between these two. The Businesswoman looks like she was born to wear power suits while Hip-Hop could immediately bust a move on the streets of LA.

Well, the search for the new President of the Liberal Democratic Party is starting to look like an American Presidential Primary....or the cast of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". Apparently, some more folks have entered the fray besides the five who have already announced a run to fill Fukuda's soon-to-be vacated post. Maybe Aso should start polishing off his policy positions after all. Maybe it won't be so much of a coronation. congratulations to Shrek and Fiona. They got their second kid just a few days ago.
Friday Sept. 5, 7:35 p.m.

While the US elections have finally entered the final phase of their 2-year battle for The White House, over here in Japan, the government has started its own search for a replacement PM in earnest...well, in point of fact, the president of the leading party, the Liberal Democratic Party, who will be the de facto Prime Minister. Just a few days after PM Yasuo Fukuda threw in the towel, three men have thrown in their hats. Kaoru Yosano is the Economics Minister. Of course, Taro Aso is the man to beat since he was seen as the guy waiting in the wings last year after Fukuda got the nod. And there is Nobuteru Ishihara, a former minister and member of a political/show business clan...a J-Rat Pack, if you will. Nobuteru is the son of the current firebrand governor of Tokyo, Shintaro, the elder brothre of the Fuji-TV weathercaster and tarento, and nephew of the late legendary Yujiro Ishihara, the singer/hard-boiled actor. Couldn't get more connected than that. And CNN is reporting that Yuriko Koike has also decided to officially join the fray. She's currently a minister of something but was once a newscaster for TV Tokyo and speaks fluent Arabic.
Friday Sept. 5, 5:42 p.m.

Finished the final class of The Hip-Hop Girl. Gotta admit that for a teenaged girl who dresses like Beyonce, she was actually good people. I downloaded sheets of the TV Guide listings for Orange County for her since she was rather keen to know about what television was like over there. She immediately circled MTV and I figured. I hope she does well over in her new school.

Well, I'm just about ready to head over to the juku...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Friday September 5, 2:57 p.m.

The rest of my time here yesterday was pretty good. The Yogist and The Dentist were fine; as it turned out, The Manhattanite pulled out her appointment as quickly as she had put it in. Miss Sedona used her return from the States to show me five full albums of her pictures in San Francisco and Sedona, Arizona (I think one of John McCain's houses is in the area) I figured she would. She had a grand ol' time there and her pics reflected some very good angles of the two cities. It was obvious that she loved Haight-Ashbury and cable cars. Her pics in Sedona had the familiar ring of Mrs Travel's photos in the form of lots and lots of Big Sky and mesas. She even showed me an embedded church in one of the bluffs in Sedona; apparently, one of Nic Cage's houses is right across from it. My souvenir from her was a box of Ghiradelli Chocolates, and I also got this tidbit from her....she now aims to pursue her dream of actually going over Stateside to live least for a while. I can understand her feeling.

Right after Miss Sedona, the Hip-Hop Girl came in for her second of three lessons. We went over some hairstyling vocabulary involving lots of hairstyles. We were able to wring out some good talk about it. She was rather shocked about how many channels one could get on American TV; I didn't quite tell her that often enough there was still nothing to watch. She then showed me one of her videos on YouTube performing her dance with her best friend/partner which got her second prize.

Got home at a nearly obscenely early time last night...around 8 p.m. Caught that music program "Utaban" with Takaaki Ishibashi (the Japanese fellow from "Major League 2") and the SMAP leader, Nakai-kun, on TBS. I hadn't seen the program in several months. The kid who sang the theme song from the latest Studio Ghibli flick, "Ponyo", was there. Of course, Ishibashi didn't fail to tease the heck out of her. Then, it was one of those awkward meshings between the Gold Medal-winning Women's Softball Team with the band Every Little Thing whose lead singer, Kaori Mochida, has about as much enthusiasm for TV appearances as she would for a colonscopy.

About 11:00, just as I was about to enjoy the first good night's sleep in a couple of days , my telephone rang. I'd thought it would be Speedy to tell me that someone had cancelled a class or that someone had put in a last-minute reservation. However, it turned out to be The Bohemian which was a bit of a surprise. I thought he was gonna try to ply me with another request to meet him for dinner. It turned out he was out in East Tokyo at some sort of izakaya and he actually asked me if he could crash at my place for the night. It wasn't very Christian of me, but I rejected him immediately. Afterwards, I felt kinda bad about not accomodating him...even him, but frankly his request came in a bit too late for me to oblige.

I actually was able to watch some of the final night from the Republican National Convention. Things did liven up considerably since that mausoleum-like first night due to Hurricane Gustav. Sarah Palin had shown why she is called The Barracuda the night before by plowing into Obama and the Democrats. And then I saw some of John McCain's acceptance speech. No, he will never be compared to Obama when it comes to oratorical skill but he still gave a pretty good accounting of himself and his past as a war hero.

And I'm back here to have the final lesson with The Hip-Hop Girl before seeing The Ace at the juku tonight.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thurs. Sept. 4, 11:28 a.m.

Pretty much a fun ride for Grandma Dynamite and myself. Just gabbed on Canada and her son's secretive approach on his fiancee. Always like it when things click from the get-go. Hopefully, the rest of today's lessons will be like this one.

Haven't seen any of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul but according to the CNN website, it looks like McCain's bunch are out hunting wabbits and Senator Obama is getting whacked. Obama didn't get that much of a bounce despite his rock-n'-roll convention last week, so just wondering if this fusillade will really hurt him.
Thursday September 4, 8:37 a.m.

Typical start to a Thursday morning. Got into the office at 8 after a McBreakfast and then just gabbed with The Patent Attorney for a few minutes before Speedy spelled me. Since my dietary regime changed, I've been taking more notice of the calories. In fact, I checked out the caloric intake of a Big Mac expected, it came to around 1000 calories. There is also nothing like a few friends to bring one down to earth, either. Over the past couple of nights, I've been showing my results to a few of the students due to their connection to the medical industry. Mr. Mild was a medical supplies sales agent, 001 is a medtech and The Diver is a full-fledged nurse. All of them whistled when they saw my LDL Cholesterol numbers and told me to get on that treadmill lickety-split. This reaction was in great contrast to the doctor at the clinic who had told me that things weren't too bad.

The next few Wednesdays could be a bit sparse. 001 will be off on her Middle East trip for the next couple of weeks while The Fashion Designer is off to Shanghai next week. Today, though, will be a Hump Day. I've got Grandma Dynamite, The Yogist, The Pharmacist and The Hip-Hop Girl...and then The Dentist had to cancel her lesson on Saturday so she's slotted herself in as my last lesson. Speedy even tried to get me to teach The Manhattanite tonight. As much as she's a good lass, I just wasn't willing to give up a rare Thursday night off.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Wednesday Sept. 3, 12:15 p.m.

Finished up with that Hip-Hop Girl for her first official lesson. She was 5 minutes late, so I was cynically wondering if she'd just decided to abandon her attempts to brush up on her English since she hadn't paid anything yet. But she did show up and we talked a bit on her American education in a Paul Mitchell school. We went into the different types of hair and I've just downloaded an entry from Wiki. That should keep us going for tomorrow's session.

Well, got basically nothing until 001's lesson at 6 but I'll be busy getting ready for the evening lessons and slogging on with those translations for The Corner. I may find out what was possibly eating 001 on Sunday after Baker Bounce.
Wednesday September 3, 8:54 a.m.

The Milds and The Traveler had a pretty good lesson together last night. Again, it was a case of leveling the playing field a bit...making it a bit easier for The Traveler while making it a bit more challenging for The Milds. The Traveler had encountered a bit of drama over the weekend by apparently falling down a flight of stairs and breaking her fall...with her head. She found out what the inside of an ambulance looked like, but otherwise nothing serious.

Jolly did show up for his 90. It was a freewheeling session. The first third of the class was going over the diet counter thingie that I'd received from the clinic earlier yesterday. Since the two of us seem to be brothers-in-arms when it comes to metabolic syndrome, we were marveling at some of the caloric surprises of the dishes. For example, a bowl of tonkotsu ramen...long reputed to be loaded with actually considerably lighter than a typical Big Mac set. However, it contains a king's ransom of cholesterol; looking at the soup makes that rather evident. The last third of the lesson contained talk on his somewhat latent otaku-like tendencies. He was intrigued about the main Mandarake HQ in Nakano and the old CD store, Otokichi. He was definitely curious about Halloween and the goings-on in Roppongi during the witching hour. That will probably mean yet another run to the supermarket for pumpkins.

Well, I started my first full day in the new dietary regime by heading for that Jonathan's family restaurant branch near Speedy's. That slacker-ish waiter was there to lead me in. I ended up having the Scrambled Egg Breakfast Plate for 598 yen and 600 kcal. According to how much I should be eating, I've already used up a third of my daily allowance.

One would think that the resignation of PM Fukuda would still be consuming the news but now it's been hijacked once more by allegations of drug use in the sumo world. Now it's a couple of Russian brothers-turned-rikishi who were spot-checked and discovered to have marijuana in their blood. Probably from some guy in Roppongi...yeah, that's the ticket.
Tuesday Sept. 2, 7:02 p.m.

Suzanne and I are getting settled into that comfortable pattern of chatting and practicing that Seven and I used to over a year ago...except that Suzanne actually does speak English for most of it. Now that she's had her taste of life in the outside world, she's expressed a desire to live overseas for a bit longer...say 1 or 2 years. I told her to go for it. She was a bit worried about the age situation since she's at the "ripe old age of" 26. I reassured her that she wouldn't end up as a modern-day Urashimataro or Rip Van Winkle. She's also gotten into "The O.C." big time...I kinda teased her about the big shock at the end of the final season (she's only in Season 1 right now)...where Mischa Barton's Marissa ends up dead....but didn't give the reveal.

Now, in less than an hour, I've got The Milds and The Traveler. That'll be a bit more challenging...could help lower my cholesterol.
Tuesday September 2, 4:12 p.m.

Yup, the summer is indeed back....Mr. Mild need not panic about the quality of rice after all. If this week keeps up with these temps, there should be a nice bumper crop this Fall...that is, for those rice paddies which weren't inundated by the floods of last week. As for me, I'm trying not to wither too badly.

Tell you who's not coming back, though. Prime Minister Fukuda tendered his resignation last night after less than a year in office. With him and previous LDP stooge leader Abe, it's starting to harken back to the 90s when it seemed like there was a revolving-door policy when it came to leading the nation...before the age of Koizumi. The Opposition was shaking its fist in indignation at the "sudden" departure of Fukuda. To be honest, people were saying some months earlier that he was probably gonna be flying the coop sometime in the Fall.

So, now we come to another Autumn for not just picking fruits and veggies, but also of Japanese Prime Ministers. The wide shows this morning were already making their bets. It looks like Taro Aso...the heir apparent who lost to Fukuda last year...will finally get the nod. China and Korea weren't thrilled....the former labeling him as "a big mouth" and the latter stating that it would be a nightmare if he were to come into power. Even some folks here, including me, think he looks not unlike a thug in a polyester suit, but apparently he has some popularity across the board since he's pretty rightwing in his thinking...along the lines of Junichiro Koizumi. Kinda wonder if he will suddenly create a cult following like Koizumi did in his first year in office. He does have his love of manga and can speak English well but I think he looks too much like a regular LDP hack to generate much charisma. I can also imagine that a lot of English-speaking detractors will be more than willing to use a common epithet that sounds like his last name to describe him.

The interesting thing, though, is that, according to one wide show which had the pictures of possible contenders for PM, there were two smaller pictures of women politicians behind the big one of Aso. Seiko Noda and Yuriko Koike may be in the wings for now.

All of this political intrigue was happening while I was stuck on CNN looking at the latest in Hurricane Gustav and its effects on the Republican National Convention. There was quite a difference between it and the rock concert that was the Democratic National Convention last week. The RNC looked like the annual stockbroker's meeting for not a particularly popular company. However, I'm sure all that talk about Bristol Palin and her pregnancy will keep the media enthralled for the next few days.

As for me, I went back to the clinic where I had my checkup a few weeks ago to get my results. Happily, the damage wasn't too bad at all. I'm only slightly higher in one form of cholesterol. In reaction, I bought a simple, cheap broiled salmon on rice bento with a salad.I also found out that I am 22 kg overweight....about 44 lbs. Ouch! Well, having to juggle The Milds with The Traveler, teaching that Hip-Hop Girl for the next three days and dealing with the summer heat and humidity may help shave some more weight off.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Monday Sept. 1, 10:39 p.m.

Medicine Man has gone home so we're basically ready to wrap things up here. Both Speedy and I are feeling pretty tuckered out. Kinda wondering if the ventilation is to blame.

Tomorrow, I gotta head on out to the clinic and get the bad news on my checkup...and I'm sure there will be a good deal of tsk-tsking in the report. We'll see...I'll probably be heading on out around the same time as I did when I went to the checkup a few weeks earlier...but I'll be having breakfast for sure this time.

Back on Saturday night, I actually caught that ol' Will Smith chestnut, "Independence Day". Yup, it had plot holes as big as those spaceships but I think it's just like "Star Wars" in that it was another one of those homages to hokey and wholly entertaining sci-fi invasion movies of the 50s. And for some reason, I still get rather verklempt near the end when Randy Quaid's character comes racing up in his jet for that final strike against the saucer...must be the soundtrack. As MB would say to me, I cannot and will not defend it against the naysayers but I've seen far worse and duller wastes of my time.

Anyways, time to close down...
Monday Sept. 1, 7:18 p.m.

Just finished with The Full-Timer. Looks like she's ready to fly the coop come the end of next month. She and her colleagues have been suffering from the classic work-related disease of "My supervisor is a psychopath".

Only Speedy and I are in the house. Betty is ailing tonight and can't come in for her shift. Just The Medicine Man in a couple of hours. The weather today has been fine, though we're back to hot and humid again. In fact, I think it's the first day in over a week that we haven't had any precipitation...knock on wood; there are still 5 more hours in the day.
Monday Sept. 1, 5:43 p.m.

Just tackled a bit of that translation project. It's on hot, a lot of diseases for me to decipher there.

Read something on "Dark Horizons" about how much of a flop "The Dark Knight" has been in Japan. Earlier, The Publicist had also said that it was not doing very well here. The reason stated in the article was that it was frankly too dark. I don't think that's necessarily the case...the one film that launched that brief spate of J-Horror remakes and pale children with heavy mascara, "The Ring" didn't exactly end in sweetness and light either. I think it's because Japanese audiences don't have any particular connection with American comic book characters; the mythology just hasn't been in this country long enough and I don't think it ever will. The Publicist also said that "The Incredible Hulk" was a flop here, and most likely, "Ironman" won't make too much of a dent here either when it comes at the end of this month. I'll have to get confirmation from The Publicist next class, but it seems, though, that "Spiderman" is the one exception....perhaps because Peter Parker is a relatable, attainable character.
Monday September 1, 4:30 p.m.

September 1...Disaster Prevention Day here in Japan and the kids are back in school. Meanwhile, Stateside, it's probably the Jerry Lewis Labour Day Telethon and perhaps the Republican National Convention, depending on what Hurricane Gustav does.

Yesterday, I met 001, 002 and her hubby, plus Speedy and his wife for some burgers at Baker Bounce in Tokyo Midtown. Surprisingly, the manager there was very accomodating and managed to get us a table to seat all of us. 001 even tried some root beer for the first time while 002 and her husband gave some really dry Wilkinson Ginger Ale a go. Everyone except me had burgers while I, in the interests of trying something different, went for the Fats Waller Triple Decker Sandwich. It was good...and easier to handle than the usual gloopy burger. I also had a large chocolate milkshake which probably didn't help my cholesterol count any. It all went well but 001 suddenly shut down and got rather distant near the end of our binge...not sure if I'd offended her in some way or the root beer didn't agree with her. Maybe I'll find out on Wednesday. As for 002, I won't see her for about a month since she's busy at work and she and hubby will be headed out for the Maui Marathon later this month.

Things got back to normal for a Monday. The Class Act got together again...for some reason, The Chef was maganimous enough to make lasagna for both The Matron and me. Still, I ended up using a coupon to get a double decker burger set at Wendy's....I'll never learn. Gonna have to memorize the fact that Wendy's burgers are just a bit too greasy for my liking. I prefer the chicken burgers much better. I also saw SIL after a month off. Gregarious as usual.

I have The Full-Timer in about 80 minutes and then it'll be Medicine Man to wrap up later tonight. I actually got a job for translation on Saturday. The Corner sent me some stuff based on Hokkaido for which I have two weeks to get translated and back to him.