Friday, October 03, 2008

Saturday October 4, 3:32 p.m.

Well, the three lessons came off without a hitch...very pleasant, all of them, actually. That model lesson student did sign up...thereby breaking my winless streak. We connected quite well (cough, cough). The Intellectual was his usual level best, and the return of Mr. TOEIC had us talking about that trip to Taipei; he actually didn't need to give his English presentation since half of the audience couldn't speak English and all of them could understand kanji far better.

I see that O.J. Simpson got the book thrown at him pretty hard...this is what I call the most roundabout version of Al Capone's arrest for tax evasion. In any case, O.J. should've been fully charged with stupidity, more than anything else.

Despite my Mac Breakfast, my stomach was growling at me by the time Mr. TOEIC got in. I've managed to eat a piece of out-of-date white chocolate and a vitamin drink. Hopefully, that'll tide me over til dinner which will probably won't take place for another number of hours.
Saturday October 4, 11:20 a.m.

The full crew is here: me, Speedy and The Lab Tech. Plus, that model lesson student is now in the middle of her level check tests. Pretty good result on the first one, although there were a few silly mistakes for a person of her level. Could be nerves. I've got some myself...I even brought my blazer to make a full besuited teacher of myself...or a fool. So far, no cheerfully snarky remarks from the bossman. Actually, I'm gonna get the full support from him for this model lesson. He was supposed to have gone off to teach The Singer this morning, but she cancelled again last night. I'll probably buy one CD of hers during my spree at HMV later today.

Was basically going through the Wiki stuff on "Heroes" since the 3rd season has started. 001 finally made it through Season 1 via overnight showings on NTV. She wasn't too impressed with "How to Stop an Exploding Man"; I guess she was expecting an "X-Men" like super battle. I should've told her that even Hollywood studios have budgets to maintain. In any case, it seems like Tim Kring is pulling out some stops for "Villains". Over here, Super Drama TV has shown the first half of Season 2. It's heartening to find out that sci-fi may have a rosy future out there in TV land after all with "Heroes" and "Battlestar Galactica". Certainly, it helps that on the motion picture front, "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man" have been keeping up the side for all of us nerds who'd always been sci-fi and comic book nuts.

Well, it looks like the model student has finished the e-mail writing test. Speedy has just raced into the room. Probably another 5-10 minutes and then I'm up.
Saturday October 4, 9:00 a.m.

Yep, here on an early Saturday morning. I thought I might as well get here early since I've got a model lesson, and I haven't had much luck on my model lessons lately...get myself psyched up for it. Again, it's one of those higher-than-average folks who wants Business English. I always do better with those lower-than-average types who just want conversation.

I did catch that Palin-Biden debate yesterday morning on CNN. Folks had been expecting the equivalent of an especially crash-filled Indy 500, but instead we got a veteran senator who didn't spout verbal diarrhea and a neophyte Alaskan governor who didn't have verbal constipation. In fact, I would say that it was just about as close as possible to a debate in its purest in which the two combatants gave out their opening statements and then looked for weaknesses in their arguments. It was downright Greek! Sarah Palin didn't screw up mightily which had the Republican Party sighing in relief, and Joe Biden didn't spout some horrible miscue which had the Democratic Party doing the same. Actually, the only real nastiness came from the partisan pundits going at each other post-debate about who had actually won. For me, it was Biden, and apparently more than of those polled afterwards agreed with me. He did come off sounding pretty presidential for a guy who was actually going after the 2nd-highest post in the land. However, kudos to Palin for holding her own, although I think she overdid it slightly on the folksy girl-next-door bit. Sounded a bit like amateurish dinner theatre at times....uber-Palin, if you will. The two things that struck me was that moment when Joe choked up when he brought up the topic of the loss of his first wife and daughter, and then right after the debate when not only did the two debaters actually showed how friendly they were with each other, but the two families got together in a near-"Mary Tyler Moore" finale hug. Quite a bit different from the tension of the first Obama-McCain debate.

After all that, the bailout bill finally got passed and I hear that George Bush has already signed it. I don't think I've ever seen a bill get passed into law quite that fast, but these are rather desperate times. I think it got passed faster than that ol' cartoon "I'm Just A Bill Sitting on Capitol Hill". The pen must still be smoking. I know that Lou Dobbs is.

Last night was an uncharacteristically busy night at the juku. Had three: Mild Jr. (who'll now come sporadically on Friday nights), The Ace and the new kid on the block (figuratively, since the lady is in her 50s), The Restauranteur. Actually earlier in the evening, the juku boss was feeling a mite peckish and so asked me out to go out for a bite to eat at The Restauranteur's establishment just around the corner. The place was one of those homey little establishments that come in the middle of the fast-food/family restaurants and the purely ethnocentric places. Those places are notable for the little lit-up sign outside the door which often has a sponsoring tag of Key Coffee. The Restauranteur was a bit surprised at our entrance but got us to our table. The boss was right...the portions were huge. I barely made it through my bowl of Meat Sauce Spaghetti...kinda reminded me of the large bowls at the chain known as Capricciosa. As for the lady's first lesson, she did well. Good student to have.

As for today, after that model lesson, I've got The Intellectual (who did sign up for more...the masochist) and then Mr. TOEIC; it'll be the first lesson with him after his trip to Taiwan. Must ask him how he did on his presentation. He's still not exactly the smoothest speaker in our school. I think after those three, I'll be ready to treat myself to some CD shopping. Never did buy anything at HMV on Thursday night since I discovered that it'll be Triple-Point Day today.

Instead, I ended up buying my first manga since I set foot in this country nearly 14 years ago at Kinokuniya on Thursday. Bought the translated version of "Hikaru no Go", a manga created by a high school student about a young lad destined to be an I-Go champion, thanks to the centuries-old spirit of an I-Go Master. Unsurprisingly, the I-Go Master is supposed to be a guy named Fujiwara-no-Sai but "he" looks and acts all effeminate...a typical manga characteristic. Pretty fun reading and there was even a cameo appearance of my old stomping grounds of Ichigaya. I may just end up getting a couple of more in the series.

Man, it's been so NOT fun for the Japan Sumo Association. Truly an annus horribilis for one of the oldest sports in the world. First, this year, there was the first ousting of a stablemaster in sumo's history because of beating one of his charges to death. Then, there was all that stuff about Asashoryu, the controversial yokozuna; then, the first ousting of active rikishi due to drug possession, and now a court case has begun about Asashoryu and others throwing games. The JSA has sued a non-fiction writer on charges of slander and defamation because he accused sumo of being tainted by corruption. Would love to see the proof of that. And my cynical side thinks that there may be a death or two before all this over. Seriously.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thursday October 2, 2:43 p.m.

Wrapped up with The Big Lug and Miss Sedona. Pretty easy breezy to quote an unfortunate title from a Hikaru Utada song. Quite a bit of sidetracking with both students. The Big Lug is on an apartment search while I found out that Miss Sedona is a big fan of Crosby, Still, Nash & Young; she seems to have that 70s vibe about her. She even mentioned that retro group, Superfly.
Thursday October 2, 10:58 a.m.

Pretty light day today...just two: The Big Lug and Miss Sedona. I may indulge...against my better judgement, of go on my monthly spending spree and get a rash of discs at HMV, including the one by The Singer.

Looks like that bailout plan by the U.S. Congress passed the Senate, but just not sure how it's gonna be back on the floor of the House. Still, all the financial horrors of the past two weeks may have an impact on the Diet elections here in Japan. Now, the LDP is mulling holding things off until the economic picture gets a little rosier.

The bigger news here right now seems to be that fire in Osaka which killed 15 men in an adult video box theatre the other night. The culprit who had lit the fire has been's another one of those nutcases who finally decided to cash in his chips in a blaze of murderous glory. It's been interesting how certain Western media outlets have described the place where the fire took place as "a sex-shop". Images of heavy curtains and breathing, whips, chains and whipped cream; nope, nothing so sordid. Just a bunch of compartments, each with its own comfy recliner, DVD viewing area, and two-ply tissue. And a number of the customers are just salaried guys who need a cheap place (an all-nighter there costs just 1,500 yen...even the most inexpensive business hotels cost three times more) to flop for the night. I think some of them are now getting that eternal sleep.
Wednesday October 1, 9:43 p.m.

Finished off my day here. 001 and I basically coasted again in the lesson...I think we'll have to get back to the text but she's off next week, so I figure we may have some more material for coasting on the 15th. The Diver was fine although the last half-hour became an Intensive on Pronounciation.

Had my schedule changes today. Got some more tomorrow. Grandma Dynamite has canned so I can actually come in at a decent time, and Mr. TOEIC also cancelled his class for the evening, so I'm gonna end up with yet another early Thursday night. He'll end up taking over the slot vacated by The Businesswoman on Saturday.

That Trekkie is definitely quite a different young lady from people like Ray and AK. Speedy was correct; she's always asking the questions. She'll be perfectly trained for cross-examination when she gets her day in court. I'll see if I can dig up those blueprints of the Enterprise.

Speedy and I ended up having the last of the goodies that Grandma Enka had kindly brought us this morning. We split the tonkatsu sandwich and the shrimp burger. We are always grateful to the grandmothers for their culinary contributions since the younger generations don't follow such customs.
Wednesday October 1, 5:11 p.m.

Been a pretty quiet day of translation efforts. Got my assignments off to Cozy and The Corner. And looks like Cozy's wish will come true; he, me and the juku boss will be getting together in Toyocho on Sunday for a Chinese dinner at the East 21 Hotel.

The Yogist came by for her atypical Wednesday lesson. She was suffering mightily from a ragweed allergy. Had to bring over the wastepaper basket and two boxes of Kleenex. By the time class was over, the basket could've been called The Yogist's Used Tissue basket.

The Trekkie has actually come over to do a night shift. It's the first time I've seen her at the school. She returned my "The Definitive Star Trek Trivia Book". I'm currently reading the 10th anniversary coffee table book for TNG which she quickly swiped up and started doing show and tell with Ray...who's nowhere near a Trekkie. I could be talking with her right now, but it seems like she's a pretty diligent worker so I'll just stay quiet.

001 should be here in another 45 minutes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wednesday October 1, 10:52 a.m.

We're into October now...nice and cool and not rainy. I could use more of this kind of weather.

Some more changes in store for me...instead of seeing The Businesswoman this Saturday, I won't be seeing her until November. But 002 is coming back into the fold for a couple of lessons this month starting from next Tuesday.

The latest chapter in the most politically crazy saga in America in recent history is gonna be another vote on this bailout plan. Lou Dobbs, who we no longer get on CNN, was doing one of his populist rants whose transcript I read on the website. After this gets done, it'll be that showdown debate between VP candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. Man, what a story about Palin...coming into enormous cheers a month ago and now, folks in her own party are thinking about ousting her because of some of those interviews she's had. I've got most of Friday off so I'll be able to catch the debate. Just wonder if viewers will be watching this version of The Indy 500 for excellence in debate racing or just plain tragic crashing.
Tuesday September 30, 10:19 p.m.

Well, it looks like this month is ending with a few cancellations and a no-show. Jolly once again pulled the latter off. No call, no show, no money. Will love to hear his excuse next week. Then, I found out that The Fashion Designer has canned her lesson at Speedy's tomorrow night. And The Lady called up to say that she'll be cancelling The Class Act's session for Monday. Means it'll be one sparse Monday next week.
Tuesday September 30, 9:13 p.m.

Well, a few changes to my predictions about tonight's juku session. The Milds came back from Kyushu but The Traveler couldn't make it due to the rigours of work. So, basically we just jammed about their trip, and also about their 18 km walk all the way from Hibiya Park in the heart of Tokyo to Shin-Urayasu which is close to Tokyo Disneyland. The 5-hour march was a test run of sorts for over 3,000 participants just in case a major earthquake struck the capital. I got a souvenir from them in the form of satsuma-age...fried fish paste which goes well with hot pot, ramen and just with a dab of gingered soy sauce. I think my breakfast tomorrow will be a savory Japanese one.

As for Mild Jr., it looks like he'll be permanently on the Friday shift along with The Ace and the new student, The Restauranteur. Suzanne was her usual cuddly self. Still on that "The O.C." kick. The juku boss informed me about that high-flying TOEIC student I did a model lesson with all the way back in early summer, and her supposed return in October. Well, I'll believe her when I see her. But at this point, my Fridays here may become almost as busy as my Tuesdays. Good for business.

Didn't bother having dinner since I basically engorged myself on a tonkatsu lunch earlier today before my weekly run at the I-cafe. I even had seconds of rice and tonjiru (pork soup), something that I never do.

Halloween is here in another month, and maybe it'll be time to whip out the pumpkins for the newbies here such as Suzanne and Jolly. Speaking of whom, it looks like he'll be coming by after all. Maybe the Traveler might be interested as well. Can't believe it's October tomorrow.

It'll be another Hump Day on Wednesday, although not nearly as riotous as last week. I do have five, though. Looks like Grandma Enka is now part of my schedule, although only on a monthly basis. She'll be doing the same thing as her sister, Grandma Dynamite is doing. Then, it's an atypical appearance by The Yogist, one of her last ones until her 4-month hiatus (maybe permanent) followed by some open time before the usual nighttime trio of 001, The Diver and The Fashion Designer come by.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuesday September 30, 2:37 p.m.

Another rainy one out there. Had The was just Mrs. Travel, Mrs. Alp and Mrs. Jade. Travel had just come back from Hokkaido to visit Mrs. Perth in Sapporo. I showed her and the others some of those Hokkaido translations I'd been doing for the past few weeks. They showed their knowledge of Japan's northernmost prefecture...probably putting the original publishers to shame. The ladies will be going off on some sort of hot spring and trekking tour from Thursday somewhere in Gunma.

I've got the usual gang at the juku tonight. The Milds will be back from a trip of their own. This time, it was purely domestic...just a journey to Kyushu. I have a feeling that there'll be a lot of photos and back-and-forth between The Traveler and The Milds. Not sure if Mild Jr. will be here...or for that matter, Jolly.

Looks like this annus horribilis for sumo may be reaching a breaking point. One of the disgraced Russian sumo wrestlers (for possessing a spliff in his wallet) has threatened to testify against all of his former sport about all of the corruption going on. It sounds like a case of "If you take me down, I'll take you all down with me". However, I'm just kinda wondering if this guy now has a bounty on his head via the underworld. I wouldn't be surprised if I hear of some sort of death threat against the fellow. But before that, I'm sure that the Japan Sumo Association will try to "mediate some sort of deal".

Prime Minister Aso may have lost a minister but I'm wondering if the U.S. Republicans may be losing the election. That big bailout plan got KO'ed in Congress this morning....all stock markets plummeted like huge rocks. John McCain is looking more and more clueless, despite all the spin, for his little tactic last week. And the honeymoon with Sarah Palin seems to be completely least where the media is concerned. Now the big question is whether Palin is truly worthy to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. That debate between her and Joe Biden...another person prone to verbal mile-high pileups...may become the Must-See TV of the Fall.
Monday September 29, 9:14 p.m.

Managed to get through half of the current translation. Have to admit that I've gotten my routine down to brass tacks. If I'd had another hour, I would've been able to finish it off but I needed the breathing time to psych up for Medicine Man.

Not sure what it is, but I'm getting hungry again...can't imagine that I've used that many calories in a few hours, especially since I chowed down a salad, a hot dog and a glazed donut before coffee with The Full-Timer. And I even ate a couple of those chocolates I got from 001 last week.

Boys all around the world are mourning the loss of Scarlett Johannsen's single-dom. The woman got married with Ryan least, she married Canadian. Got taste.

I asked MB and The Satyr about Sunday for "Iron Man", but looks like the two of them (with their significant other, I assume) are headed for a Radiohead concert.
Monday September 29, 7:13 p.m.

Well, if the rest of my week goes like my first three classes have gone, I should be feeling pretty good. Actually, The Full-Timer has been ailing pretty badly because of her mercurial supervisor. I think a revolt may be in order, but this being Japan, she'll probably gaman for another few months and then fly the coop...of course, after leaving a proper letter of resignation. Yup, I feel for her....I've had my fair share of lousy bosses, Speedy being a remarkable exception.
Monday September 29, 5:26 p.m.

Would be remiss if I didn't mention the passing of Paul Newman...maybe one of the last folks from the Golden Age of Hollywood. I have to say with some embarrassment that the very first Paul Newman movie I'd seen was "Slapshot", his atypical movie with him playing the captain of a minor-league ice hockey team. I did get to see "The Sting" and "The Towering Inferno" but I've yet to see his classics such as "Hud" and "The Hustler". SIL definitely recommended "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" with him and Elizabeth Taylor.

Strange thing about passings of legendary stars these days. They always seem to have their swan songs in some very odd...or bad...films. Paul Newman's very last role was as a speaking car in the Pixar "Cars". Then, the late Raul Julia's final movie was as a character in the movie version of "Street Fighter". And I distinctly remember Fred Astaire ending up in a colonial Viper (in the hangar, mind you) shooting down some bad guys while saving his son, Starbuck, in the original "Battlestar Galactica".
Monday September 29, 4:53 p.m.

Summer may have come in and gone out slowly but Fall has definitely made its presence known in a hurry. A few weeks back...the last time I taught the Class Act...I was dying for air conditioning as I made my way up to The Lady's house; even took a pit stop at the nearest vending machine for some juice. Today, I was fighting rain and cool temps in my raingear.

As for The Class Act, nothing too exciting for them...well, outside of the fact that The Matron has been enjoying her new status as a grandmother. The Matron also enjoyed The Lady's kindness by taking advantage of The Lady's reservation at Quintessence, the swanky French-Japanese restaurant in ritzy Shirogane. Reservations are about as easy to get there as mortgage loans now from the U.S government (topical humour alert); The Lady had been supposed to go there with her hubby for dinner but had to cancel at the last moment but decided to give the opportunity to The Matron and her family. The Matron and company were suitably happy for the 4-hour experience of dining on such things as duck.

With both The Class Act and SIL, the topic was about the current economic situation and that Transport Minister who decided to cut his throat...politically speaking. Yup, I'm sure PM Taro Aso did a major double take on hearing that someone else beat him to the punch in spewing forth verbal diarrhea. Aso came home from New York to hear that Nariaki Nakayama threw out some red meat at the expense of the Ainu and the left-wing Japan Teachers' Union. The new Prime Minister thought he would've been the first one to throw the stuff out, but nope, it was one of his ministers. It's gonna go down as the shortest tenure of any minister in postwar history....a grand total of 5 days. Nakayama did resign, but he made it clear that he wouldn't take back anything he said. Interesting thing about him...his wife happens to be one of the kidnapping victims in North Korea who had been taken from him in the mid-70s.

Now, I'm kinda wondering how the LDP is gonna handle this vis-a-vis its call for a general election and dissolution of Parliament. The pundits are saying that the Nakayama resignation wouldn't affect the supposed announcement on October 6th; still, I'm sure PM Aso would've liked to have been in a stronger position...not that he was in a good position to begin with. His Cabinet has started out with a less-than-50% approval rating...second from the bottom with only PM Mori (just before the 5 years of Koizumi) lining the litter box. Perhaps people would like to vote in the DPJ, but is there really anyone there who would make for a positive change? I think not.

The Lady told me that before taking the top job, Taro Aso could be seen running by himself in her neighbourhood. Now, she tells me that he's still running there but with a security detail of 7 folks.

I've just got a couple of more students before wrapping up today. The Full-Timer will be heading to Doutor's in less than 45 minutes. I was wondering if she would be coming today as well since it's the end of the month, but since I've gotten no cancellation notice from her, I'm assuming we're still a go. And of course, there is Medicine Man in the last slot tonight.

I was talking with AK just now. She'll be taking off for New York tomorrow for a 10-day vacation in The Big Apple. I introduced her to the concept of the egg cream. Not surprisingly, she was somewhat intrigued and disgusted at the same time.

Got word from The Corner. That one sentence in the translations on Saturday which caused all sorts of conniptions for me turned out to be a wrongly-written statement. Ahhh....I should've demanded hazard pay. Still, I should have a tidy sum for that work in my account by tomorrow evening.