Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday September 12, 7:47 p.m.

Looks like I got a bit of a second wind back. I was feeling ready to go into suspended animation at Speedy's after all that transcribing of that translation. But I had some dinner at China Quick and waited for that bus to take me over to Nakano Station. Note to self: don't bother taking that again during rush hour. It felt like being back on the ol' TTC. Best take your chances on the Oedo Line. However, I did get some shuteye on the Tozai.

As I said, I just have The Ace here for only 30 minutes since he's caught up on all of his lessons. For some reason, the juku boss has yet to greet me. I'm pretty good with the stealth mode when padding up to the 2nd floor where I teach but she's usually found me out by now.

The next three days will be the long weekend since Monday is Respect-to-the-Aged Day. No income I'm gonna have to be careful with the savings although I have to get my hair cut tomorrow morning and then there may be a movie outing on Monday with MB for "Hancock". There is also that Sunday brunch with the staff at Speedy in Omotesando but the school's picking up the tab. Speedy jokingly warned me that I could only have one, just one, entree.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Friday September 12, 3:12 p.m.

Well, I'm ready for the old folks' home. Man, coaching Mr. TOEIC on his presentation to some Chinese customers and then having to grab a bit of shuteye before heading for Immigration early this morning to get my Multiple Re-Entry Permit. To be honest, I didn't really need to get up that early to head on out since this wasn't a visa renewal situation. But old habits die hard and I just get a bit jittery if I don't get out there and get this out of the way as early as possible. It was the same ol' hourlong wait outside of the the bureau in Shinagawa with folks from what seemed to be China and other Southeast Asian countries. As usual, a couple of folks remarked on the folly of actually lining up outside the glass doors since once 8:30 comes around, people just run on in regardless of order. As with most bureaucratic and medical procedures, most of the time was spent just waiting for the number to come up, and by the time I got the paperwork and paid my fee, I was out of there by 9:30. I was definitely 6,000 yen lighter.

Ended up having brunch as it were at the Shinagawa branch of Hansen's...the New York hot dog emporium. This was the sit-down version with waiters, so I didn't get fries with my dogs but minestrone soup. Interesting. The dogs were actually warm, instead of hot, but the taste was still there.

Just hung about Takashimaya Times Square for an hour or so. That lineup in front of Krispy Kreme #1 was even punier than I'd ever seen it. Just a 10-minute wait now. I was tempted to actually add my own cholesterol-laden corpse but decided that even 10 minutes out in the hot sun (and it is hot today) wasn't worth it. Still waiting for that 5-minute drop.

I spent the past few hours just writing up that second translation assignment for The Corner. I just sent it out now. Not sure how good it is but since it's a translation of a contract, I made it as legalese as I could. The Corner sent me three more documents but I think these can be better handled.

Looks like that singer has decided to sign on with Speedy. Wow...good taste and brains to go along with beauty and a voice. However, Speedy will be the teacher for The Singer's first class since it's on Tuesday and I'm stuck out in my neck of the woods on Tuesdays.

MB sent me his typically terse cellphone memos about catching "Hancock" sometime over this long weekend. I said that that was fine and I suggested the holiday Monday. Haven't gotten a response yet.

I've just got The Ace at the juku later tonight so I've got some more hours to kill before I go. I will have to think about something to eat for dinner since it's now approaching 6 hours since those two dogs.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thursday September 11, 8:06 a.m.

A cool morning...hadn't experienced one of those in a few months. It's nice...reminds me of a typical September morning in Toronto. However, I still have that lingering phlegmy throat, and at around 4 a.m., my sinuses suddenly ballooned to the size of marshmallows and was throwing forth nice cupfuls of snot. Lovely image, don't you think? Downed the pills and within the 90 minutes that I'd resided in half-sleep/half-wakefulness, my nasal cavities toned themselves down.

The Diver did well on the test....85%. The only three errors mostly dealt with Adverbs of Frequency. Still, she maintained her pose of low confidence...even asking me not to throw so much homework at her so that she can absorb what she'd learned at a more leisurely rate. Not quite sure where her logic springs on that one.

Still gotta bulldoze through that translation. I've got one document done. If I'm still pummeling away at the second one, I'll have to type the first one up and send it over so that The Corner doesn't get into panic mode.

The official five candidates to try and succeed soon-to-be ex-Prime Minister Fukuda had their photo-op yesterday. One was notable in that she is a woman...former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike. The odds of her getting the top job are very's definitely not a Hillary Clinton era in this country. The Matron told me that the old fogies in the Tokyo Rotary Club threatened to defect en masse when the idea of allowing women into the upper echelons was dared to be thrown onto the table. And the Liberal Democratic Party, despite what its name may imply, is probably even more conservative than the American Republican Party. The fact that Koike got a high post in the Cabinet (and for that matter, Makiko Tanaka was Foreign Minister several years ago, although the fact that her father was legendary PM Kakuei Tanaka probably had a lot of pull) made for a media cause celebre. But to see Koike as even a potential Prime Minister took a lot of handwringing and twisting of arms. Still, aside from the fact that she's a woman, there is also the point that she's just not experienced enough (not gray or wrinkly enough). Then again, the previous and current PMs kinda make that argument rather moot.

What is also moot is that there may actually be a close horserace in all this. In the next two weeks before the decision (not election) day on Sept. 22, there will be the usual harangues of these pols on top of their vans in major meeting points in Tokyo. But everyone and their dog are ready to give current LDP Secretary-General Taro Aso the big job. Yuriko Koike will have to settle for hoping and currying favour to keep herself relevant. However...and this is admittedly very cynical for me to say...Koike may have a chance to grab the brass ring if there is any growing chance that the Opposition could topple the LDP in the general election, now rumoured to be held by the end of the year. If Ichiro Ozawa of the Democratic Party of Japan threatens to win big, then the cronies of the LDP could pull a page out of the playbook of John McCain and throw Koike out there, a la Sarah Palin. Perhaps the thinking would be that the novelty of having a woman as Prime Minister would be good enough to keep power in the LDP's hands, but still have the cronies remain as puppetmasters. Plus, Koike might only last a year anyways...and that's nothing new...and the upper echelon would only be too happy to throw in a guy to replace her. Yup...pretty cynical.
Wednesday Sept. 10, 9:58 p.m.

Man, I've only got 2 more days before that translation assignment is due. It'll be ready but it's gonna be rough. Still, I don't have much choice.

The Diver got a clear pass although she's still fretting and fussing as usual. However, I'm finished for the day until my Hump Day tomorrow. And I've got my 5: Grandma Dynamite, Miss Sedona, The Sisters of State and Mr. TOEIC.
Wednesday September 10, 4:57 p.m.

Well, that CERN atom smasher project must've gone off without incident since all of us are still here.

Just came back with the bossman from a rare on-site model lesson. My model lesson student happened to be a professional singer of some fame. She was quite nice and not a tabula rasa when it came to ability. The president of her production company was paired up with her...probably for minding reasons. He was your typical blustery shacho...a rowdy, randy guy who has a passing resemblance to Leonard Nimoy. I think we've been given the OK to teach her; just wonder how frequently I can teach her due to the nature of her industry.

Afterwards, we had a late lunch near Nakano Station at a Zat's fact, it was the one where MB, Skippy and I, along with some others, had gone to some years ago. Since it is a Wednesday afternoon, there was noone when we got there. I had the Sasebo Burger (onion, tomato, fried egg, bacon, and the like with home fries....there goes my first attempt at being cholesterol-free.

Still have The Diver tonight. I hope she did OK on the test...I really don't feel like holding her hand. 001 is off for the next two weeks because of her trip to the Middle East and The Fashion Designer is in Shanghai, so it'll be an atypically early end to my Wednesday night. Speedy himself wants to hi-tail it out of here soon after I finish...something that I'll second.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tuesday Sept. 9, 9:19 p.m.

Looks like I may have a full slate tonight. Mild Jr. pulled off a surprise problems since we basically just go over stuff he brings over. And I never got a phone call from Jolly, so I assume he'll be here in the next 10 minutes. Suzanne was her usual laid back self, and the new triumvirate of The Milds and The Traveler. The Milds were fairly exhausted so again the playing field was pretty even. And it may get even easier for The Traveler since The Milds will be off on vacation next week. Not sure, but The Traveler looked a bit pensive; I wonder if she's thinking about taking solo classes. It wouldn't be a bad thing for her.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tuesday September 9, 2:31 p.m.

Had the first Beehive class since summer hiatus at the usual place. Mrs. Travel, Jade and Tee showed up. Mrs. Alp was in Europe, and of course, the others have gone back to their wayward places. Pleasant session. Ended up having lunch at the ol' Tonki, despite the fact that tonkatsu shouldn't be on my menu anymore. But when meat is one of the major sources of bad cholesterol, that really is too limiting for me.

I'll be just a solo at the juku tonight since the boss is off at a musical. It'll be the usual suspects with me wondering if Jolly will show up.

Well, the head of the Japan Sumo Association, Kitanoumi, is the latest domino to fall in this annus horribilis of what is one of the oldest sports in history. It's a sad way for this former yokozuna to be remembered. He still remains the youngest rikishi to be promoted to the top rank of his the tender age of 21. But those halcyon days are truly over now, with all of the scandals that have wracked sumo in the past several months. Politics looks a whole lot cleaner compared to the state that sumo is in. And so, he had to resign.
Monday Sept. 8, 4:29 p.m.

The Saturday lessons with The Intellectual and The Businesswoman went well, but that model lesson turned out to be a waste of time. For one thing, the lady was one of those high-level persons who just felt that the textbook really wasn't all that useful for her...I'd been warned by Speedy that she wasn't too up on taking English again but had this vague feeling that she needed a brush-up...never an easy model lesson to do. For another, I think she was more Speedy's type of student than mine. In any case, as soon as the lesson was over and the student left, I gotta out of Dodge pretty quickly as well.

On Sunday, I saw Tully & The Coffeemaker for the first time in about a month. Happily, it was a good class. They weren't too lively for the discussion on the soon-to-be introduced lay judge plan here in Japan but they kinda jumped on the cute little exercise on recognizing symbols...go fig. Still, it was a nice confidence boost for me after that crappy model lesson.

The weather had initially been pretty decent that afternoon so after lunch at the Sozaiya Kitchen at JR Ichigaya (never cheap but healthy), I decided to walk from Ichigaya all the way to Shinjuku...ended up being a 45-minute journey....a nice if sweaty way to walk off the calories. I passed by the Ministry of Defense whose big boss was rumoured to be yet another entry in the LDP Presidential Race scheduled for Sept. 22. Walking from Ichigaya through Akebonobashi (001's hospital is in the area) to Shinjuku was interesting in that the entire neighbourhood was pretty dead on a least in the early afternoon. By the time I got to Takashimaya Times Square, my shirt was carrying more water than a camel's hump.

I met Movie Buddy, The Satyr and Frodo in front of the new and vastly cleaned-up Picadilly movie complex on Yasukuni Drive in Shinjuku. We used to go to the old Picadilly when it was just a really seedy-looking pile of brick which could have easily housed porn films. There was a Wendy's beside it which is now gone which is a pity. Now, the place looks like Roppongi Hills North; it was a 21st-century cineplex with reserved seating. The 3rd floor looked like the arrivals lounge of an airport. I hadn't seen The Satyr in a couple of months since he was off traveling in England and some other parts of Europe. As for Frodo, I think it had been a good year since I saw him last.

Our movie was "The Dark Knight" again but for Frodo and The Satyr it would be their first crack at the much-vaunted Batman movie. The plan had initially been for the significant others (The Sylph, Miss Ivory and Frodo's wife plus Skippy) to go watch "Sex and The City" while we testosterone-dominant folks would go see "The Dark Knight" but since Skippy couldn't make it on Sunday, the ladies saw Carrie and the girls the night before. So, it was an entire boys' day out.

I'd thought about whether I would get bored seeing "The Dark Knight" a second time but it actually held up very well. Still got as much of a thrill watching the action scenes and the Joker hamming it up as I did the first time...and I actually was able to figure out all those scenes involving Batman's sonar-in-a-visor without getting seizures. MB said that he enjoyed it even more while Frodo was slightly more sanguine (though he also liked it) in his review, saying that he felt Michael Caine kinda distracted him while Heath Ledger wasn't all that impressive with the hype. The Satyr enjoyed this entry far more than "Batman Begins".

When we did get out, the new tropical weather pattern of sudden squalls had started up again but luckily the four of us managed to get through the slight rain to get to The Clubhouse, the Aussie bar in Shinjuku. It had been several years since my last trip there. I was surprised to see the place nearly empty on a Sunday but there weren't any pressing sports events to see yesterday. We tried out the usual stuff: meat pies, fish n' chips and the buffalo wings. MB had said that on his last time to The Clubhouse a few years ago, he'd been greatly disappointed at the quality of the food, but it seemed like things were back to normal. The wings were amongst the hottest that I've tasted on either side of the Pacific, and the meat pies were sufficiently meaty. We were able to gab on movies for a good few hours. For some reason, the management decided to put on a "Sunrise Semester" type of program featuring some ol' Japanese professor exhorting the video students on the merits of the turbo engine. Wasn't quite sure if that was the management's way of trying to get rid of us. It took another hour but we finally did leave. Still, it was nice to have been back to The Clubhouse.

It's a full Monday. I saw The Class Act today as usual. The Matron was late but for good reason. She became a grandmother just an hour before...even showed me her first grandson's pic via cellphone. Then over at SIL's, we managed to carry on a chat without needing to go to the newspaper article. We gabbed on the upcoming elections in both the US and Japan and a comparison between "The Seven Samurai" and "The Magnificent Seven". I can only hope that my remaining lessons tonight are as fruitful (The Full-Timer, Mr. TOEIC and Medicine Man).