Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday September 27, 5:26 p.m.

Well, after more than 3.5 hours, I finally got everything translated. Those disclaimers were murder! I had to send a couple of disclaimers of my own to The Corner when I sent the completed document over since I'm still not sure about a couple of parts. In any case, I'm done.

I took another look at a rather entertaining video on YouTube. Just look up World's Greatest Head Massage and you'll know. If only I had such a barber in my neighbourhood...the customer was just soft butter in his hands.

Looking forward to dinner, although most likely I won't be having it until close to 7:30 tonight.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Saturday September 27, 3:41 p.m.

Definitely feels and looks like Fall is on the way, if not here already. It's overcast but dry and cool. I can only hope that it now stays that way for the next little while.

Just here at Speedy's by myself, plowing through the translations. Ugh! I'll have to send The Corner some alarm bells about the quality of a couple of paragraphs...cannot make heads or tails about how to structure them. I'll probably be here for at least another hour or so just to compile the stuff and send them over. I really don't want to continue doing this one on Monday night.

Had Tully and The Coffeemaker this morning. They really like those light questionnaires and quizzes. The Coffeemaker definitely has little interest in politics. Tully was looking like he was on his way to a dance club. He could've just put his finger up in the air and the "Saturday Night Live" look would've been perfect. Both have friends' weddings to attend. For the junior Tully, it will be his first one not involving friends of the family but just plain friends, so he was asking about appropriate presents. young. I'm sure he may be fretting about how much money he has to give.

Last night, the juku boss was giving one of her rare chewouts to a big lunk of a boy for not having his homework done. She's usually so la-di-dah about life, but when it comes to doing her job, she will let any errant kids have it with both barrels.

Well, the first long-awaited debate between Barack Obama and John McCain finally did come off, and McCain did show up despite all that sturm und drang about him suspending his campaign to help solve the current financial crisis. If that had been a tactic to get in good with the electorate, McCain is now looking like he got whapped with an omelette. And according to a pundit on CNN, he didn't exactly look like he won Debate One. The pundit also mentioned that if Obama had two more performances like this one, the winner on November 4 will be a lot clearer. All I can say is that there has been a cross-circuiting of messages on The House That Ted Turner Built when it comes to the effectiveness of presidential debate performances. Various reporters have commented that debates don't necessarily make a president, and yet there was a documentary showing how debates could sink a candidate (re: Nixon's 5 o'clock shadow and fever). In other words, it ain't over til it's over. Still, Jon Stewart will have tons of ammunition for his show this week.

Well, back to the salt mines...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Friday September 26, 3:09 p.m.

Both Speedy and I did get out of the school by 8:30 last hour later than expected, but still a major achievement considering our usual schedules. Because of the cancellation of that model lesson tomorrow, I won't have to go back to the school until Monday (really could stand to not have any more model lessons for a while). Passed by China Quick; it was closed at such an early time which pricked up my attention. Read the sign saying that it was now China Gone...that is to say, the restaurant has closed its doors for good. Kind of a pity, although I didn't really go there all that often. The place did have some nice dishes for just 500 yen.

Man, this year has gotta be The Year of Political Intrigue. I could only imagine that a secret cabal of Steven Spielberg and the ghost of Akira Kurosawa must be behind some of the goings-on in Washington and in Nagatacho. First, John McCain pulls a fast one on everyone and says that he's "suspending" his campaign to help resolve this humongous financial mess that's sucking in the United States, and by association, the rest of the planet. Then, President "Lame Duck" Bush summons both McCain and Obama to the White House along with the leadership of both parties for a big powwow to head off The Great Depression II.

McCain says he won't participate in that first debate tomorrow unless the problem is solved. Not sure what he's trying to do; it's not as if he's absolutely vital to end the castatrophe. And he certainly got slammed by Harry Reid after the rather vicious meeting. To be insulted by Harry Reid for not saying anything productive is like being called slow by a sloth. The next cliffhanger is whether this debate is gonna come off or Obama is gonna end up doing a Town Hall.

Then, over here in Japan, just when not only is Taro Aso is coming off the glow of becoming Prime Minister but also addressing the U.N. General Assembly in fairly decent English, the carpet gets pulled right out from under him by Junichiro Koizumi. Lionhead announced his retirement from politics proper last night, and the media was more than happy to indulge him. The various news shows have shown retrospectives of his five years in office and showed some of the acts that got him called the "Henjin" or "weirdo" by former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka including that swan song tour of Graceland where he channeled Elvis in front of the bemused Presley family and President Bush. Anyone who thinks Koizumi's sudden announcement last night was a random act must be rather naive. He's always loved the drama; at the very least, he just wanted to signal that the era of Lionhead is over. At the most, it was a broadside at Aso who has a distinctly different approach to governance. And for the LDP, at worst, Koizumi is now an outsider. No knowing what he can do now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thursday September 25, 2:08 p.m.

Well, gone through 75% of the classes today. Grandma Dynamite had me practicing giving and taking directions with her. Let's say this....if you ever need her services, bring a good book. Meanwhile, Miss Sedona basically had our little counseling session about her future lessons. The Yogist was a lot of fun...nice to see her again after a few weeks away. She was probably more bouncy than usual since her boyfriend had bought that cappucino machine; she's been going absolutely gaga over doubt, it's been getting heavy usage. Unfortunately, she'll be taking a hiatus for some months after October since she's got a rash of things to do such as travel to Hawaii and Bali and take over an extra yoga class.

Miss Sedona related to me that some guy had tried to pick her up in the aisles of Kinokuniya a couple of weeks ago. She was leafing through the TOEFL books when the geriatric tried to make the moves on my student with an offer of help at first...and then the offer of companionship. She even gave me his business card...he's apparently an English teacher although his card had quite a few spelling errors. The way it looked he probably came by his English in the Ozarks.

Well, it's just The Carolinan. I'm feeling pretty beat but I still got those translations to take care of.
Thursday September 25, 8:07 a.m.

Three more months before Xmas...yeah, whatever.

Yesterday was a true Hump Day...6 lessons, including two 90-minute sessions with The Magician and 001. All 6 students are good folks but I was still quite happy to head on home (for 5 hours of sleep) last night. I was stifling some major yawning action in front of The Diver which didn't go unnoticed but she was a good sport about it. 001 said that she'd had a good time with her buddies going through Syria, Dubai and Jordan but she'll never be a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine. Got some nice Patchi chocolate wafers as a souvenir.

Today will be relatively easier on my sanity...just 4 lessons with Grandma Dynamite, Miss Sedona, The Yogist (been a while since she's been in) and finally The Carolinan. Both Speedy and I are fervently hoping that we'll all be out of here by the nearly obscenely early time of 7:30 tonight. I'm more than willing to hold my end of the bargain.

New PM Aso swore in his Cabinet yesterday (I think China and Korea just plain swore). Usually that would be the job of the No. 2 man, Chief Cabinet Secretary, but Aso decided to do the honours. Looks like a mix of the old with some family connections here and there. For one thing, the new Foreign Minister is Hirofumi Nakasone, the son of that other charismatic Prime Minister in the last 25 years, Yasuhiro Nakasone. And in a bit of a Sarah Palin, Aso apparently called on 34-year-old Yuko Obuchi, the daughter of the late PM Keizo Obuchi, to be a State Minister, the youngest person ever to be appointed in the postwar era. Now, whether this will be a permanent Cabinet or merely a caretaker Cabinet before the Democratic Party of Japan comes into power remains to be seen. There should be a general election called within the next several days.

Looks like Nomura Holdings has started pecking away at the carcass of Lehman Bros. They bought the European and Middle Eastern operations. When I was over at Roppongi Hills, there were some girls taking pictures beside the small marble post with Lehman's name. How a vulture sort of way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wednesday September 23, 10:57 a.m.

Always kinda disorienting whenever we have a national holiday that doesn't lie on a Friday or Monday. Tuesday had a distinctly Sunday feel to it, especially since MB and I went off to see "Hancock" at Roppongi Hills.

"Hancock" won't be one of Will Smith's highlights like the first "Men In Black" or "Ali", but I didn't think it was as risible as some of the critics were calling it. But it's one of those rare flicks that I liked better than MB did. For one thing, since I had read some of the pans of it beforehand, my expectations were about as low as a worm's belly, so I was somewhat pleasantly surprised that it was even OK. Basically, it struck me more as an expensive TV pilot more than a motion picture. There were some funny scenes such as Hancock actually fulfilling his promise to put a prisoner's head in a place where the sun don't shine while the theme from "Sanford & Son" was playing, and then the spiritual redemption at the bank robbery. However, the whole thing about Charlize Theron's connection with Will, and the nearly non-existent bad guy could've easily been excised for a sequel (which I doubt will happen now). Really, if the movie had just been kept to his slow redemption from an alcoholic jerk to reluctant superhero, things would've gone better for it. Well, at least Will Smith can say that he did get his superhero role....something that seems to be the mandatory duty for a lot of Hollywood actors these days.

Afterwards, MB and I had dinner at Tony Roma's where I found out that he and The Sylph finally made it official at the ward office about their marriage. They'd been common law for a few years so the transition was just all in the paperwork. They had to go through the usual bureaucratic crud...including a flimsy piece of paper from the Australian Embassy stating that there is no reason that MB shouldn't marry this woman; that waste of bark cost him 11,000 yen. No real honeymoon yet but they did spend a weekend at the Odawara Hilton...made the error of actually eating in a restaurant in the hotel...surprisingly bad service and overpriced food.

Today is truly a Hump Day. I got no less than 6 lessons between noon and 10:30 tonight. The Big Lug, The Magician, The New Yorker, 001, The Diver, and finally, The Fashion Designer. Could be ready for the funny farm by the time I get out of here. They're all really nice guys, but still... In any case, 001 is back from her Middle East jaunt, so there should be plenty of stories to be told tonight. Forget the text.

Found some new interesting points about the latest Prime Minister, Taro Aso. Along with his penchant for manga and his ability in English, he is a former Olympic skeetshooter and he will become as of this afternoon, the very first Roman Catholic Japanese Head of State. I never thought I could actually associate him with John F. Kennedy or The Pope. Still, depending on how a general election develops, it could be a very short stint for him. But he's made a lot of snide remarks about his Asian neighbours, so he could actually get quite popular here.

Those child murders are starting to catch on again. That boy in Fukuoka who had been strangled to death over a week ago has been solved. His mother has been arrested for the murder; apparently, she finally snapped when her kid started mouthing off at her. Now, there is an investigation going on in my prefecture of Chiba about the discovery of the nude body of a 5-year-old girl in an isolated area.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday September 22, 6:46 p.m.

Back from the lesson with The Singer. She's a good student...pretty low but good. Not sure if we can really make any miracles in four lessons since after that she's off abroad to study English for a few months. I don't really think she should have our regular text but should actually be focusing on Travel English just to be able to get by there.

Earlier, I had SIL. Looks like her crazy neighbour got her involved in a nasty version of Punk'd. The psycho called in an emergency to SIL's house which brought in police, ambulance and fire department officials with all of the vehicles. Rather embarrassing to say the least.

To no one's surprise, Taro Aso became the new LDP President....which means on Wednesday, he becomes the latest Prime Minister. Just wonder if it'll be a month's stint if a general election is called.

Since The Full-Timer cancelled tonight, I'm just waiting for Medicine Man to finish up the day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Monday September 22, 9:35 a.m.

Well, today is the day that the Liberal Democratic Party (which is anything but liberal and democratic) decide who their President and our Prime Minister will be. The odds are that manga-loving Taro Aso will get it. The only woman in the running, Yuriko Koike, is just there for decorative purposes. Hillary Clinton may have put a ton of cracks in that glass ceiling, and Sarah Palin may be itching to smash it totally, but over here, that ceiling still has merely a few scratches. There was a BBC feature talking about how skittish the people are about changing to a new government party; it failed to state that the main Opposition party is hardly a desirable alternate choice. The Democratic Party of Japan just voted in for a third term, Ichiro Ozawa, a man who's hardly in the pink physically and has a 2nd-in-command who's a bit of a twit. Well, maybe there will be a surprise.

It's been quite the weekend for political changeovers. South Africa just ousted President Mbeki, Israel is losing Ehud Olmert and then this little thing here in Japan. Plus, we've got general elections in the States and Canada coming up, and Gordon Brown is fighting for his political life in the UK.

In my little world, my Monday schedule finally got sorted out. I finally managed to get in contact with SIL about seeing her an hour ahead of schedule since I gotta teach The Singer. With my luck, The Singer will suddenly dotakyan. The Full-Timer has done just that due to the rigours of her work...and her slightly wiggy boss who's now taken medical leave...finally.

It was a pretty quiet weekend. Had no lessons at all yesterday...managed to do some cooking and eating. Almost seeing it all once again after I gorged "one tiny little wafer" too much. Those were some rather tense 30 minutes but after downing some bicarb, I was back on the mend. Talked with Mom...looks like my brother will be doing another business trip to Korea this week. Gonna be a long flight for him. Too bad that he can't drop in on Tokyo. Also got things wrapped up for my niece's birthday present.

MB contacted me about catching "Hancock" tomorrow at Roppongi Hills. Another national holiday...the First Day of Autumn. Yes, they celebrate that here. Getting cooler but hardly Fall.