Friday, September 19, 2008

Saturday September 20, 3:02 p.m.

Well, got through the classes with little problem. Nice to have a good day. And The Intellectual and The Publicist have signed up for more. Found out that The Publicist is a self-confessed otaku who's into the stuff in Nakano's Mandarake emporium. She even knows about Otokichi. Go fig.

Still gotta go to work on the remaining translations for The Corner. I probably only have time to decipher the difficult kanji before Speedy gets done with his counseling. But I also have to head over to Kinokuniya to see if I can find some translated manga for my brother.
Friday September 19, 7:41 p.m.

Did forget to mention that I dropped into Oazo in Otemachi for the first time in a while. Definitely had to go for my pho ga at Com Pho on the way to Maruzen. Not a guilty feeling inside of me as I slurped down my rice noodles with steamed chicken and veg. I was actually searching for some of the English translations of popular manga for my brother but couldn't find anything that he would like. I doubt that he would be very interested in "Nodame Cantabile". So, I'll see if I can drop by Kinokuniya on the way back home from Speedy's tomorrow.

Speaking of books, I'd only found out just a few minutes ago from "The Japan Times" website that the book distributor, Yohan, went belly-up. That probably explains some of the signs apologizing for the dearth of some foreign magazines at Kinokuniya the other day. However, it seems that I might be OK for now. My movie magazines are still popping up and, of course, TIME and Newsweek are always there.

I was going through the latest issue of METROPOLIS on the subway and came across the usual "Last Word". This one was straight vitriol...apparently, a "loving father of two" gave a Dark Knight-like manifesto to the nation's closeted pedophiles and warned them that their days were numbered. He didn't hold back on his punishments either....castration, slavery and amputation of hands were his choices. Not that I disagree at all with him, and I'm definitely one who wouldn't mind having those sickos put in the lowest Circle of Hell, but I just wonder what kind of responses that this would get, especially from those folks who are those human rights-types. However, knowing METROPOLIS, they'll probably show a letter from some wacko apologist next week. Ironic about this article, considering that a 6-year-old boy had been found strangled to death in Fukuoka just a few days ago.

In the same issue, there was a special pullout on job recruiters and there was one of those cute USA TODAY-like graphs measuring which industries were hot and which were not. The education industry...i.e. the one I'm in...was at absolute zero. The glib comment was "Thank you, NOVA". Yup, no doubts about that, although I think there are other factors as well. In any case, I've sometimes wondered when the lights would finally go out on language teaching in this country. Folks are no longer all that enchanted with the world's lingua franca and some of the sordid tales of incompetence and teacher-student non-educational fraternization over the years haven't helped matters either. The Bohemian once said that I would always have a job here in Japan....considering the fate of NOVA and Lehman Bros, that comment could be the kiss of death for me. But then again, the shrinking of the industry may not be a bad thing...get rid of the schemers who just want a fast yen, and for that matter, those folks who were really not all that much into the learning. Now that I'm getting used to some students coming for a few months before disappearing into the ether (unfortunately), perhaps I would prefer having a smaller circle of very loyal students who actually do have an interest in communicating in English.

The juku boss was a bit concerned for me about the coming typhoon. I didn't correct her, but it's just a tropical storm now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Saturday September 20, 9:51 a.m.

Managed to dodge a bullet since Sinlaku decided to veer east a bit ahead of schedule. We did get our rain last night but nowhere near the amounts of what a full-blown typhoon would've brought. So, it's back to sunny and humid today. Just have The Intellectual, The Publicist and The Businesswoman today. The first two are on their last paid lessons today before renewal so things could be a bit tense for us in terms of whether or not they would like to continue.
Friday September 19, 4:54 p.m.

Well, got my two done today here at Speedy's. The Big Lug and I had a talk about his trip to Hong Kong...all he said was that it was delicious. I can imagine. Then we chatted on the current economic situation and the upcoming elections for LDP President.

That model lesson student left rather quickly after I finished the lesson with her. Not sure if that's good news or bad. However, I feel that I did do my best on the lesson so I don't feel particularly down.

I got that translation off to The Corner. I now just have to finish up a number of other assignments before the end of next week.
Friday September 19, 1:30 p.m.

Typhoon Sinlaku has been downgraded to a mere tropical storm, but that doesn't mean it won't be all sweetness and light tomorrow. Unfortunately, I've got commuting to do on Saturday.

At least last night was a rare night off...just spent it having a tonkatsu dinner (to hell with my low-cholesterol diet...for now) and then vegged out in front of the telly.

Today, I've got The Big Lug in about 1o and then a model lesson student before I head on out to the juku. I've managed to translate and type out the latest translation assignment. Just gotta do one more quick read-through before I can send it out to The Corner.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thursday September 18, 11:36 a.m.

The rain is coming on down now...looks like Typhoon Sinlaku has sent us a preview for this weekend, Saturday at least. Grandma Dynamite talked about her nephew's wedding on Sunday. Apparently, it's one of those shotgun weddings. She remarked that his blushing (and knocked-up) bride would probably need one of those gowns for two. It's interesting that even in custom-heavy Japan that nowadays folks don't even really bat an eye when their progeny fess up that they need to get married because of a broken condom. Dynamite said that in her youth, such an announcement would've been a social devastation but now, the in-laws go into celebration mode.

Well, just The Dentist in a few hours. Hopefully, if I can get through the latest round of translations by the time she comes over, I can get on home early.
Thursday Sept. 18, 8:54 a.m.

I ended up playing babysitter to The Patent Attorney for an extra 20 minutes. Speedy did come in but he suddenly got caught up with a telephone call. Basically, The Patent Attorney got my take on Canadian politics and the Lehmann Bros. fiasco. Maybe I should think about getting my professorial credentials.

Well, my computer station seems to be back online again after that migraine it suffered yesterday due to some cruddy update of a VirusBuster. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

I checked out that website of Danny Choo...the son of shoe designer Jimmy Choo...after watching his exploits as The Shimmying Stormtrooper on CNN. Yup, he's an otaku all right according to what I glimpsed....all the cute anime girls and figurines were in place there. I sent word to The Stick, who's as huge a Star Wars fan as The Trekkie is to Star Trek. Not sure what she'll make of the anime stuff, though.
Thursday September 18, 8:05 a.m.

Rainy out expected since Typhoon Sinlaku is on its way to the Kanto. It should be over us by Saturday; unfortunately, the forecast calls for a smattering of classes with occasional breaks here on that day.

I got pretty burnt out from the translation activities so basically I had just taken that hour off before The Diver arrived to veg a bit. The Diver was fine, by the way. The Fashion Designer was looking pretty haggard though due to the demands of her job. I mentioned it to her although in retrospect that may have been a risky move. However, the lady took it in stride. She might be looking at those dark circles under her eyes a bit more closely, though.

During that big clean on Monday, I came across "The Definitive Star Trek Trivia Book" that I'd gotten from someone as a present. I've decided to loan it to The Trekkie via Ray who'll give it to her next Tuesday. From retired geek to geek.

Speedy has been hoping that I might be able to move around my schedule a bit. He got half his wish. He's asked me to teach The Magician next Wednesday which meant pushing The New Yorker's lesson an hour later. Luckily, The New Yorker had no problems with my request. I'm awaiting SIL's response, though, about getting taught an hour earlier than usual next Monday since Speedy needs me to teach the new kid on the block, The Singer, in the late afternoon. I'll probably be OK, though. Still, I have to contact The Full-Timer to see if she can see me about 15 minutes later than scheduled.

Well, The Patent Attorney should be here any second...
Wednesday September 17, 6:39 p.m.

Pretty much burnt out after several hours of translating, and I'm still only halfway through the page...just too many obscure kanji. My usual computer is still on the fritz although Speedy made the effort to call up a computer service to get the thing rectified. I'm just gonna coast the rest of the time before The Diver comes in since I think I need the transition time to psyche myself up for the lesson.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wednesday September 17, 1:26 p.m.

Last night, I had The Traveler by herself at the juku. Actually, she's coming along pretty nicely. Fairly soft-spoken but her use of Simple Past and Present Perfect were pretty good. At this rate, maybe she'll be able to hold her own with The Milds. There'll be lots to talk about in a couple of weeks (next Tuesday is a national holiday, so no lessons then) when my senior couple talk about their trip to Kyushu.

That model lesson student was a real sweetie. She's this middle-aged lady with the mannerisms of an ojosan who runs her own pasta restaurant nearby the juku. As usual, my initial reports on her were pretty understated. She's nowhere near the tabula rasa that the boss had threatened. She could understand pretty much everything I said but she doesn't have the confidence to respond back in a timely manner. So, it'll just be a matter of helping her along and giving her the practice. When she starts for real in October, I'll be teaching the practical matter of Restaurant English to The Restauranteur.

As for Jolly, he seemed to have been a bit obsessive about some bites he'd gotten from various ticks and mites in his apartment. Unfortunately, an analgesic is one thing I don't carry in my black bag. He's been enjoying his newly-purchased souped-up racing bike. Managed to do the Urayasu-Makuhari Messe run in about 30 minutes.

I just have two students tonight...The Diver and then The Fashion Designer since 001 is off in the Middle East. Quite a few changes in the schedule...I found out from Speedy that The Yogist has cancelled her lesson for tomorrow afternoon which means that I'll only have Grandma Dynamite and perhaps even The Dentist.

My computer at the school is on the fritz due to some dodgy free offer of updating the VirusBuster that the boss took up. It has now clogged the log-in so I'm now on one of the other stations doing this. Luckily, I've got all of my translation stuff in the Central Share so I can access it from anywhere.

AIG became the latest Wall Street company to be hit with potential meltdown. But in its case, the US Government has stepped in to bail it out, unlike the fate of Lehman Bros. The general thinking is that an AIG collapse would create far more harm worldwide than that of Lehman Bros. In today's paper, the front page was just covered in articles about the current economic malaise.

Well, I've got another 6 hours before The Diver gets in, and I've got those translation assignments.
Tuesday Sept. 16, 6:53 p.m.

Just finished with Suzanne. Always an interesting one to rap with....not sure how much longer she'll be with the flock. She's getting that feeling of wanderlust. We spoke on the tried n' true tradition of the high school prom. Proms don't really exist here in Japan, although graduation ceremonies exist for each level of formal schooling (elementary, junior high and high) although they're heavy on the pomp and light on the fun. Perhaps the only equivalent of such a thing would be the celebration of turning 20 on Adulthood Day in January. And usually that just means having a special dinner with the family or a few friends. There's nothing of renting limos, wearing tuxes and gowns, and discovering how debonair or beautiful respective dates can be. I told Suzanne that if she ever infiltrated a high school, she should start the ball rolling for a prom revolution.

Mild Jr. dotakyaned his lesson which isn't too bad; I get an hour's respite before The Traveler comes in. As for this model lesson, I'm not sure how much I can do between The Traveler and Jolly. I would like to check her level and see if she's really the tabula rasa that the boss says she is. The boss doesn't even know her...not even her name. She just goes to her Italian restaurant nearby.

Ray's sent in word that The Dentist has had to cancel her lesson with me this Saturday and she'll have to go with Speedy on Thursday since I have to take care of my own cadre.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tuesday September 16, 3:01 p.m.

Just heard that George Takei (Hiro Nakamura's father on "Heroes"...and he apparently appeared as some sort of space navigator back in the 60s) got married at the ripe ol' age of 71. Isn't that like almost John McCain's age? Man, talk about late bloomers...mind you, that'll probably be the age I finally tie the knot, if at all. Although the 2nd season is well under way here on SkyPerfect, I just haven't gotten into it. Just don't get home regularly enough at night to make it my while.

Tried to get a complete copy of that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler skit from "Saturday Night Live" on YouTube, but I guess NBC has been trying to keep it from circulation. Instead, I just keep getting inserts from some of the other news stations. Ugh! Apparently, Gina Gershon (!) has tried to get in on the Sarah Palin parodies as well.

I finally got word from The Corner about those translations. Everything checks out.
Tuesday September 16, 12:49 p.m.

Well, 3 days from this and teaching. Not too was nice to get away from lesson planning. Quite a few things have happened, too, over the long weekend in my own world and out in the world.

Out in the world, we had Hurricane Ike and then it was Sarah Barracuda, now it's the Lehman Brothers. Looks like the Great American Economic Implosion is progressing rather nicely. I remember less than a year ago when that English-teaching colossus here in Japan, NOVA, went belly-up. The Lehman Bros' debacle kinda went the same way...everyone said that it was too big to ever collapse...well, look at those latte-carrying analysts now...they're carrying cardboard boxes out of the place. And Merrill-Lynch could've easily ended up the same way if it weren't for Bank of America. And look out, AIG. The media hounds here were amassing outside of Roppongi Hills like vultures yesterday where Lehman Bros Japan is (or was) located. Of course, the staffers were as mute as church mice. It would've been nice to have spoken with The Class Act about this since Lehman Bros occasionally popped up in conversation but I won't see them for almost 2 weeks.

Then there is yet another reason not to buy China...tainted milk powder. Of course, Japan shouldn't be tsk-tsking either. The government here has been wrestling with another food-related scandal...this time, it's tainted rice by a company called Mikasa Foods. Its president looked like an old version of a brat who was caught stealing from the cookie jar; he's probably only sorry that he got caught and not for the crime itself.

Another fatal knife-wielding attack off at some festival in the far-flung prefectures. Some psycho got it into his head that someone was making fun of him and so decided to show how sharp his sickle and ended up hacking one guy to death while slashing 6 others. I wouldn't be suprised if there were two or more of these before the year is out.

Sumo is back in town after those marijuana scandals with those Russian rikishi. The new head of the Japan Sumo Association gave a rather sober pronouncement in the dohyo on the first day to the audience to reassure that the sport will stay clean. I guess Roppongi is now off-limits to the young'uns.

I also saw that formal signing ceremony in Zimbabwe between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsangvirai on CNN and BBC last night. Man, that had to have been the most painfully awkward example of pomp I'd ever seen. It was headshakingly obvious that formerly President-for-Life Mugabe and his wife were about as enthusiastic about being there as two homophobes being forced to go to a Gay Pride Parade on Castro St. But Mugabe got a bit of spite back by giving out this marathon, often-rambling speech in which he railed against everyone outside of Africa much to Tsangvirai's discomfort. I can say with some confidence that the trouble is quite over in that country.

And then, I came across this little feature that's been making the rounds on CNN about Jimmy Choo's son not only coming out as a full-fledged otaku but as the Shimmying Stormtrooper. Yep, he's living and breathing Akihabara as he dances around in his Star Wars armour.

Now, in my little world, it was far calmer and a bit more profitable for me this long weekend. For one thing, I finally cleared my point card at the hair salon I go to. This time, I had the other fellow cut my hair...interesting...I've been going there for 3 years now under the new management but the other fellow treated me as if it had been the first time to go there. I'm not sure if he were being tested by the boss. The two of us actually negotiated how to cut my hair; I was surprised that I could spit out the Japanese vocabulary necessary to get my dome shaped. Still, after all was said and done, I got a supply of shampoo, soap and an etiquette kit from the manager as a reward of 3 years' loyalty.

On Sunday, I went out to that Speedy brunch in Omotesando. It was at a place called Beacon just off on a side street next to the United Nations University. The location had seemed familiar, and it turned out it was the former site of Lunchan, an American-style eatery that I'd last gone to 11 years ago. They served some good meat loaf...not hamburg steak, but real meat loaf in good gravy. The last time I'd gone there was when I was between NOVA and the 7-year stint at the ol' school...a real long time ago, just before Princess Diana's death. I'd met an Aoyama Gakuin professor, an acquaintance of Paddy's, who was gonna help me find someone to teach in the interim. Boy, was she a namedropper (I'd been warned by Paddy about her)...every other word was some celeb's name; she was a rather well-connected teacher.

But I digress. As for this new place, Beacon, it was somewhat classier with the de rigueur dark wood paneling and staff dressed up in dark dress shirts and slacks. Our party of 8 ended up in our own room with a glass door. Basically, I felt like the other folks outside could stare in and throw food bits at us. Speedy and I were the only teachers there. The rest were Mrs. Speedy and the admin staff: Ray, AK, Betty, The Lab Assistant and...the Trekkie. The Trekkie was the only one that I hadn't really gotten to know, outside of the perfunctory quick intro during her job interview at the school several weeks ago. The only thing I knew about her was that she was tall and that she was aiming to become a lawyer someday. She was hired but she only works the Tuesday night shifts so I can never see her since I'm at the juku. Speedy had told me a few days previously that The Trekkie was quite the gabby one which was an image I couldn't really imagine from that admittedly minute time with her, since the other staffers were pretty much the prim and proper types. Well, she made quite an entrance...she apparently had to come in a half-hour later due to some volleyball practice...she just burst in huffing and puffing like Darth Vader looking like a cross between actress Shinobu Otake and one of the medal-winning Japanese Olympic wrestling athletes with a spiky haircut. Personality-wise, she definitely came across as a potential life-of-the-party...and she's a huge fan of "Star Trek". Being a retired Trekkie, I did some light grilling about her love of Trek...yup, she was able to rattle off the characters' names (her favourite is Data) and even talk about Gene Roddenberry's use of a sci-fi backdrop to address the injustices in the world...ironically, she got her love from her mother...not her father...who's also a huge fan. Maybe it's just as well that I'll never been able to work with her in the office...the two of us would probably end up just gabbing about Mr. Spock and warp envelope signatures and not get any work done.

Monday was strictly a stay-at-home day...I never got a response from MB about that offer to see "Hancock". Just ended up heading to the nearby Daiei to get a plastic storage box to clean up my lone closet. I got a lot of the books stuffed in the box now; the closet looks slightly less cluttered. The rest of the day was just watching Lehman Bros die.

Back at work today. It was the usual chatfest with The Beehive. This time, Mrs. Alp was there and she spoke about her trip to Germany and The Czech Republic. Was able to get a mug and three Ferrero Rocher as souvenirs. I ate the latter in about 10 seconds flat since those things would've melted into a puddle in my bag. I've got the juku gang tonight. The Milds are away on a Kyushu excursion so I've got The Traveler all by her lonesome so I hope to help her catch up grammatically. Plus, I've got a half-hour model lesson between her and Jolly with the boss' buddy...apparently, according to the boss, she's as low as anyone could be. I have been warned.

Ray contacted me to say that Miss Sedona and The Big Lug have reserved lessons later this week. Pretty good since I'm looking at a rather sparse week. At this point, I've got nothing until The Diver tomorrow night for classes and then I'm finishing pretty early on Thursday.

Typhoon 13 (aka Sinlaku) may be headed our way in the next few days. Not good.