Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday October 11, 5:08 p.m.

Well, finished for the day. Mr. TOEIC and The Smile were fine. I just found out that my Thursday will be The Mother of All Hump Days, though. I've got 8 hours of lessons...the vast majority taking place at Speedy's. I'm probably gonna have an even earlier start to my Thursdays now since The Smile requested the 8:15 a.m. slot just before she heads off to work. I may be needing that straitjacket after all.

I got word from 002. Her message was understanding about the whole messy affair about taking her on as a private student, but I did detect some annoyance about me fessing up to the bossman himself. But I countered that I just couldn't hold something like that in for long; Speedy may be a bit too anal but he's been a good boss and friend.

In any case, I'm off for the next couple of days. Just want to de-pressurize before the next week comes about.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Saturday October 11, 9:53 a.m.

Back at Speedy's for two today: Mr. TOEIC and then The Smile. I see that my fax for The Singer's remaining lessons in October got to the school OK. I'm sure that the bossman was groaning a bit about having to teach her for her last two lessons; not that she doesn't like her or anything, but he's a pretty busy man and his other responsibilities for those study-abroad programmes are kicking into high gear later this month. I would be happy to teach her but she's asked for Tuesdays and I'm not in the neighbourhood on those days.

The lessons last night with The Ace and The Restauranteur went swimmingly, although The Ace was 5 minutes late which kinda squished things a bit near the end since The Restauranteur had already shown up near the usual end time. The Ace was pretty keen about the Halloween Pumpkin carving so that means at least 2 of the gourds to get for the 28th. The Restauranteur was somewhat more sanguine.

That unforecast spate of showers did do a number on my laundry but I managed to get them in to dry out inside. It's still pretty wet on the ground but it has stopped raining. Hopefully, the forecast will actually stay on schedule today and we get some sun later this afternoon.

The current global financial meltdown is finishing its second week. Stocktraders all over the world are probably thankful that the weekend is now here. In Japan, the Tokyo Stock Exchange folks are even more grateful that it's a long weekend. It's supposed to be Physical Education Day on Monday; dunno if too many of the guys from the bourses will be in any mood to get outside. US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson broke some news that the government will be buying stock in a number of banks to stem the tide; basically, the White House is taking control. I'm sure there are a number of extreme right-wingers who are starting to make like Chicken Little and screaming that America is going Communist. The survivalists in the northwest are checking their cave gear right now.

As for me, I'll just be happy for a little rest after my two today.
Friday October 10, 6:32 p.m.

Well, so much for my laundry being dry when I get home. Another reason for me to hate weather started spritzing just when I reached the juku. I hadn't expected anyone to be home since the boss had said that she would be visiting her student undergoing the heart operation and I thought it wouldn't be too bad if I had some downtime upstairs. But not only was her hubby watching TV in the living room but the boss was in the kitchen preparing supper. A bit embarrassed. However, it's all water down a duck's back for the boss. In any case, since I got to the juku way early, I was fortunate enough to get a sample of her home cooking.

I passed by the newspaper kiosk at Urayasu Station when I saw the banner read, "Akiko Wada--Hair Nude!" And I just groaned. Of all the female celebs that would be willing to expose herself completely in front of a camera, she's the one I least suspected...and least do so. For those who may not know who this person is, Akiko Wada is well into her 50s and is this relatively tall force-of-nature R&B singer from Osaka. She's also a fixture as a suffer-no-fools-gladly tarento all over the Japanese TV spectrum. One of the early running gags against her is that she was often mistaken for a man. As for the hair nude part, although Japanese mags and rags have had pinups of unclothed women for decades, until about 17 or 18 years ago, the censors always covered up women's nether regions with a big black dot. But then, in the early 90s, actress/singer (the latter part is in a very loose sense) Rie Miyazawa broke that mold completely with her nude pictorial, "Santa Fe" which actually did show the barely adult lass au naturel; most of the pics of her had her breasts hanging out there and her legs tastefully crossed, but then a couple of shots had the hair showing.

And the floodgates opened (uh...don't think too deeply about that one). Then it seemed that every actress or female tarento up or down the fame ladder had to completely expose herself. Pretty soon, these nude pictorials had very little difference with those Playboy centerfolds. And so, we come to Akiko Wada....singer, tarento, TV host, and centerfold. Ay ya! I would've said this had to have been an April Fool's joke but we are 6 months away from that, aren't we?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Friday October 10, 3:14 p.m.

I guess it's time for Pi(e)! Little physics joke there...and getting littler by the second, probably...

The Singer's class yesterday went pretty well although the lady herself admitted that she was feeling pretty sleepy...8 glasses of plum wine will do that to even the hardiest drinker, I suppose. We had to move from the empty air-conditioned lounge to the warm and cramped studio president's office just 5 minutes into the lesson due to other matters. Didn't make my student any more lucid but she hung in there.

Then I met my old students, The Flautist and Miss Prim, in front of Maruzen in the Oazo complex in Otemachi a few hours later. Time has flown since their days (and mine) at the ol' school. The Flautist, for one thing, is now married and preggers. And Miss Prim recently came back from a 9-month Canadian odyssey . We had dinner up on the 5th floor at a place called the Tsubame Grill, a salaryman's restaurant with a distinctly Germanic bent. They had their sausages and dark beer. We spent about 3 hours there. Miss Prim, who had always come off in class as a pretty soft-spoken but serious student, had quite a time in places like Vancouver and Calgary. She learned to be quite independent there...just traveling here and there by herself. She even had to multitask at a motel for a few months before getting fired by the harridan-like owner for not being born with enough arms and legs. She's now temping at a company in Otemachi. As for The Flautist, she'll be working for another few weeks before taking maternity leave in November. She and her hubby are fully in domestic mode.

This morning, I woke up to see that stock markets, including our Nikkei, were doing what a lot of stockbrokers and investors are thinking of doing...dropping off the face of the Earth. And the yen is appreciating like mad....98 of those suckers to the US dollar. Me, I'm not particularly all that panicky about it...just ended up watching one of my discs from the 6th season of TNG for the morning.

Got my b-day present from the parentals....Dockers pants, as usual. Only have the juku folks today. One hour and two students: The Ace and The Restauranteur. I called up the juku boss; she may be away from the house for a bit since she has to check on a student who's going in for some serious surgery.

The weekend should be pretty nice. I've only got a couple of students at Speedy's tomorrow: Mr. TOEIC and that model student conversion, The Smile. And then it's off for another long weekend. Monday should be the day that MB and I at least will catch "Iron Man". He and The Satyr were supposed to have seen "Wanted" last night at Roppongi Hills; wonder how that went.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wednesday October 9, 1:03 p.m.

Looks like we've added to our grandmother contingent. Grandma Dynamite brought another friend of hers along with her usual enthusiasm. If Grandma Dynamite is analagous to the Klingons, then her buddy is definitely The Borg. In her little quiet way, Grandma Borg is relentless in asking questions and giving requests. I think this little lady managed to tucker all three of us (Speedy, me and Ray) out in a span of 5 minutes. Didn't go through the counselling and the model lesson, and she paid up-front. Luckily, we have some breathing space since she'll start officially from November.

Finished with Grandma Dynamite and The Yogist. The latter one was a bit drowsy due to some medicine that she'd taken for her allergies. She wasn't quite out of the woods yet according to her sniffling. Miss Sedona should be here in the next 5 minutes. Then I gotta get out of here to see The Singer. I don't think I'll have anytime to resume translation work today.
Thursday October 9, 8:27 a.m.

It's completely sunny today...usually a sign that it's gonna be a good day. As obvious as that reads, for me, it's quite appropriate considering the situation from a couple of days ago. It looks like that little crisis amongst Speedy, myself and 002 has abated. 002 sent me an e-mail telling me that she understood the situation but nothing really more than that. I'm sure she's disappointed and maybe there's a chance that that slight discomfort where the bossman is concerned has now grown into something a bit more malevolent...though that's hard to imagine with 002. But I did offer her the chance to get together for coffee once in a while and chat without remuneration.

Today is the only other day, aside from Tuesday that would be considered to be busy. I've got my usual lineup of Grandma Dynamite, The Yogist, Miss Sedona and then The Singer. However, I've got another Thursday night off for which I'll be meeting my former students from the ol' school in Otemachi. It's possible that we may hit Maru Biru for dinner. Luckily, I've got some funds with me.
Wednesday October 8, 9:19 p.m.

Well, it looks like the small crisis between Speedy and me has sorted itself out. I receive yet another one of his epic e-mails but it was a much cheerier one with an apology for some of the harsher words. I returned my own little apology in turn. However, the loser in all this will be 002. I've yet to hear from her.

I finished up with The Diver. Still having numerous problems with singular/plural. Still, happy to have taught her since I was rather caught up in the drama over the past 24 hours. Just have The Fashion Designer and then I'll be done.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wednesday October 8, 3:05 p.m.

Had lunch over in Odaiba, the 2nd time this year I've gone over there...setting a precedent, I guess. Quite a contrast from 6 weeks ago when I'd gone there last time. I was just dying from the heat and was ingesting lots of fluids back then. Nowhere near as hot and humid but I was still sweating from under the rain jacket. Went over to a Chinese buffet restaurant at around 11:30; I did get what I paid for (1,050 yen)...pretty mediocre fare in great quantities and in a setting that reminded me of a faded hostess lounge from decades past. Not even an o-shibori. Still I'm pretty much set for the rest of the night.

Took the free Odaiba shuttle bus for a bit of a spin from Decks to Mirai-kan, a building exhibiting the future. Walked it over a bit to Telecom Centre, one of the stops along the Yurikamome Line...the area did remind me of the world surrounding James Caan's original "Rollerball"...should be even better at night. The Odaiba monorail had gone as far as Ariake, by the convention centre Tokyo Big Sight, but it now extends all the way back to the mainland to Toyosu on the Yurakucho Line. One of the stops along the way was called Shijo, but the other kanji reading for it is Ichiba (market) as in possibly the new location of the world-famous fish market that's been located in Tsukiji for decades. Governor Ishihara, who's been the only big cheerleader to bring the 2016 Olympics to Tokyo, has been thinking of transplanting the fish market to this big field in Odaiba. I guess Shijo must be it...the station itself is right beside a big barren field. The only problem is that the chemical readings in the soil there are enough to breed a whole new bunch of Godzillas.

After a few subway connections, I ended up in Shibuya's Tower Records where I kinda looked through some books, including a pretty gritty graphic novel up on the 7th floor based on another mutant group known as The Umbrella Academy. Actually bought the latest copy of "Total Film".

Now, I'm back at Speedy's. The bossman and I exchanged greetings but that's been it so far. I told him that I wouldn't broach him on the topic concerning 002 but that he would be free to ask me if necessary. Since Ray is here, I think he may wait until after I finish with The Fashion Designer tonight. Had a bit of a tremor some minutes ago but no particular problems. May want to check what my apartment looks like when I get home, though.

Checked on the second debate between McCain and Obama. Looks like Obama came out on top again...slightly. But McCain...if I'm to read the pundits correctly...really needed to land some knockout punches, and the polls look like Obama is ahead by some points now.
Wednesday October 8, 8:57 a.m.

Well, sent my response to Speedy about the kerfaffle over 002's future. Basically, she will have none with least, in a professional capacity come November. I was somewhat less long-winded (yep, it still stings) than the bossman but I told him that I understood and will decline her offer. However, I couldn't help telling him that I was rather stung by the indirect insinuation that I had no sense of ethics. I also sent a letter of regret to 002 about the matter and asked her to keep things quiet. I hope the bossman does the same on his end of things.

As for last night, The Milds and The Traveler were all there for the lesson at the juku. And things went pretty well considering that I'd been feeling a bit down. The Traveler is doing quite well in her remedial grammar. That kid who'd been given the chewout by the boss 10 days ago was back and although the boss was giving some direct opinions on his answers, she was pretty unsteamed. Jolly cancelled again, although he did call this time. But again, it looks like I'll be facing a series of 90-minute classes with him.

The tributes are just flowing in about the late Ken Ogata all over the media. He may not have been known outside of Japan, but he's certainly getting the Paul Newman sendoff. Apparently, it wasn't his heart but his liver that finally got him...had the cancer there.

The rains have been coming in pretty hard overnight and this morning. Pretty unusual weather.
Tuesday October 7, 7:07 p.m.

As I reported in my last entry, Mrs. London came by The Beehive...timely since she was the first one to greet me over a decade ago to introduce me to the ladies back in Tsudanuma. After our talk, we had lunch at the nearby sushi shop where she showed me some pictures of her recent trip to Los Angeles to see her daughter's family. She had quite a career as a dancer in all sorts of genres: ballet, interpretive, etc. And in fact, she had appeared as a regular dancer on an old NHK variety show back in the 60s. Very impressive.

Met 002 for the first time in a month. She was rather busy with a number of things such as going to the Maui Marathon over in Hawaii. Looks like that party she was planning for on the 18th will be a go. The problem is that my plans to teach her as a private student have probably been dashed by Speedy himself. I told the bossman as a courtesy that 002 approached me about teaching her privately after her official lessons with the school were over. I...probably quite naively...thought that it wouldn't be a huge deal. I got an e-mail in short order from him thanking me for my honesty, and then unloaded with a huge lecture on the nature of loyalty and the possibility of stealing students. Well...again as a show of my naivete....I'm feeling rather hurt right now, and as such, I will not answer him right now since I could end up saying something that I will regret later. From my view, though, I don't think it's stealing a student when 002 asked me to teach her instead of me recruiting her. But now it looks like the bossman and me will be having a rather huge talk tomorrow. I'm not gonna put up a pitched battle since I need the money I make at the school; I'll just say I will give my loyalty to him and will leave 002 to her own devices.

Before I got the bullet from Speedy, though, I did have a good lesson with Suzanne. She's really into "The O.C.". She watched the famous "Chrismukkah" episode and asked me all about it which got us talking about the various religions in the United States. Amazing what a TV show can do, huh? Looks like the annual pumpkin carving is on at the juku. Suzanne is up for it on the 28th. I'll see if some of the others as The Traveler and The Ace may be up for it, too.

Come to think of it, though, I may have told Speedy this news at probably a pretty bad time for him and the school....although by his reaction, anytime would've been bad to get this type of news. Recently, a year after the supposedly unsinkable NOVA collapsed, a study-abraod brokerage firm by the name of Gateway 21 has also gone by the wayside. It took in tons of advance payments from prospective students who had wanted to go overseas to study thing like English only to have the money somehow disappear...probably through payment of loans at high interest rates to consumer loan firms and some other nonsense. I'm not sure right now, but it seems as if the president of the company didn't spend the cash on redecorating his office in gold like NOVA's CEO, Nozomu Sahashi did. And the president, to his credit and his great humiliation, did face up to some furious customers and did the dogesa...prostrated himself on his knees and apologized. Sahashi hasn't done that and probably won't. For the customers, the demand for money will be an empty one...just a very big venting session since all that money is not coming back. Speedy also has a study-abraod service as well, and anytime one of these companies goes belly-up, it looks bad for all of us as a whole.
Tuesday October 7, 4:49 p.m.

I did meet up with The Beehive at the usual place this morning. Mrs. London, the one who had introduced me to all of them also came by for a rare appearance. It was timely since my association with the ladies had just passed the 10-year mark.

Ah, but the kid is here for the juku boss....gotta go...
Tuesday October 7, 4:15 p.m.

Shibui. When it's applied to fruit or vegetables, the word means "bitter". But it's also often applied to people. In that case, it doesn't mean "bitter" but is a bit more complicated. You can't really use one word to define it in that sense. Probably the closest word is "cool" as in James Dean cool, but for shibui, you need to have a qualifier. A qualifier such as "austere". "Austerely cool" would be the best. Clint Eastwood would be an example of, maybe "craggy" could be another synonym for it. Tommy Lee Jones is another one, BOSS Coffee commercials aside. Maybe even Paul Newman in his later years.

Just like Newman, Japan has its own crowd of shibui actors. Ken Takakura, the guy who played the detective friend of Michael Douglas in "Black Rain" is probably the most shibui. And then there is Ken Ogata. Internationally, he was nowhere near as famous as Ken Takakura in the Ridley Scott movie (not to say that Takakura became a household name in Hollywood, and sorry, but Ken Watanabe doesn't particularly reach shibui in my eyes) but he did make an impression on me in his role as famed author Yukio Mishima in the biopic of the man over 20 years ago. Like Newman last week, Ken Ogata passed away over the weekend at the relatively young age of 71. Unlike Newman, who'd been known to be ill for some time, Ogata's passing was a bit of a shocker in the media this morning. He had just completed what was to be his final role as a country doctor in some drama and a lot of the wide show folks saw him to be well in his last appearance plugging the drama last week. However, his heart apparently had given out. In what was another surprise for the pundits, none of them found out until his older sister called them up...after the wake, usually a de rigueur media-covered event in Japan for departed celebs, had already been performed.

As I said, I first knew about Ken Ogata in the 1985 film, "Mishima". I'd caught with some university buddies back in my First Year in downtown Toronto. It was a fascinating movie about the man's life (filmed in black & white) intercut with dramatizations of some of his more famous novels such as "Kinkakuji" (The Golden Temple); the cinematography for that particular part of the movie was breathtaking. There was also a dramatization of one of his more kinkier books about a woman who would tie up his husband and make tiny cuts all over his body and licking his wounds, until she finally loses it and ends up killing him and herself. The husband was played by Kenji Sawada, a rocker who used to be known as the David Bowie of Japan. Of course, the scenes of Mishima's homosexuality and his turn to the extreme right wing were shown, including his death by seppuku in the Self-Defence Forces HQ in Ichigaya in the early 70s.

What was even more interesting about "Mishima" was about the furor about it offscreen. Yukio Mishima's widow has kept the movie outside of Japanese borders for the past 23 years. The Beehive ladies and I were discussing about Ken Ogata, and they were surprised that the movie had been made at all, and it was then that I realized why Mrs. Mishima kept it out of Japan. Mrs. Travel remarked that the widow is an extreme aesthete and she was very protective of her husband's legacy. I think that his latent homosexuality may have been one of the reasons for her banning it from these shores. Not that I think Japanese Customs has kept a standing rule to search all incoming luggage for "Mishima" DVDs. I think some folks in these have seen it. But certainly some of the more beautiful scenes deserve to be seen on the big screen. With Ogata's death and perhaps the widow's passing (she's probably in her late 80s by now), maybe the ban will be lifted. Ken Ogata was also an actor in "The Ballad of Narayama", another Japanese film that has had some fame amongst the cineastes. However, I think his performance as one of Japanese literature's most complicated members is something to be considered.

However, as shibui as Ogata was, he did have a sense of humour. Like Tommy Lee Jones, he did some commercials about 20 years ago for Kirin Beer with him drinking down the suds while "One" from "A Chorus Line" was playing in the background. And I remember seeing him do a parody of "Dracula" with the comedy team of The Tunnels on their Thursday night show. The last I'd seen of him on TV was as part of that hit game show from a few years ago on Fuji-TV, "The Fountain of Trivia" in which it was found out that the actor was a big fan of the famed cartoon character Doraemon. For a guy who's played Mishima, yakuza and other roughnecks, that would truly score a ton of points.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday October 6, 7:38 p.m.

The Full-Timer pulled another one of those mother-daughter trips outside of the country again over the weekend. This time, it was Saipan. Considering all the trips she's taken in the few years I've known her, I was a bit surprised that she'd never been there before. And from Japan, it's just a few hours on the plane. I got the usual tropical souvenir in the form of Macadamia Chocolates. Things seemed to have calmed a bit this past week for her and her section. Apparently, it's a section in her company that all of the other sections try to avoid with a passion due to the somewhat hysterical management there. I did teach her the expression "psychopath" last week.

Last night at the dinner with the juku boss and Cozy, we all spoke on the year 1981. That year was the one in which I came to Japan for the 2nd time and provided me with the biggest turning point of my life, and it was the one in which those first met at university. Once again, we all got nostalgic about the times. Strangely enough, in one of those coincidences that have peppered my life recently, when I got home and just happened to switch on MTV Japan, I found out that there was a 3-hour 80s Videos Marathon on the channel, so I just had to watch. Sure enough, it started with the video that started MTV off, The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star". And then, I got to see Madonna's "Borderline", The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" and even a small medley of glam metal vids with bands like Ratt and Quiet Riot. Of course, Duran Duran was represented by "Union of the Snake" (I would've thought "Girls on Film" was a better choice). A bit ironic on The Buggles video since that shiny suited guy with the mullet playing keyboards just happened to be the guy responsible for "The Dark Knight" soundtrack a quarter-century later.

With The Full-Timer tonight, our very last tidbit of conversation before wrapping things up was about her colleague's decision to go for the Lasix eye treatment to correct her vision. My student was mulling the possibility of undergoing the expensive laser (170,000 yen) since she's on contact lenses. No thanks for me...I won't even put soft contacts into my eyes. Although since she doesn't wear glasses, there would be no dramatic change for her from other folks' view. But I did mention that for we four-eyed types, the transition from glasses to no glasses would be like Jekyll and Hyde....I think that would be literally true for me. Sure enough, in yet another coincidence, I get back to the school and didn't recognize one of our own staffers since she didn't have her glasses on. She actually looks better with the lenses off.
Monday October 6, 4:08 p.m.

Did get my CD...and manga...fix on Saturday. Yep, looks like I've gotten fully into "Hikaru no Go". I bought Vols. 2 and 3 at Kinokuniya in Shinjuku. The pattern seems to follow that of "Nodame Cantabile"...that of schoolkids being obsessive over a certain subject; in "Nodame", it's classical music while in "Hikaru", it's the game of I-Go. My own interest in the game has cooled somewhat in the last several months. It is easy to learn but far from it to master or even become half-decent. One reason is that the books I've bought on the game give the basics but hardly scratch the surface. I'm hoping that the manga series will give some down-to-earth insights.

Then, it was the raid into HMV on the 12th floor of Takashimaya Times Square. I bought a potpourri of stuff. First off was the soundtrack to "The Dark Knight" by Hans Zimmer. Pretty much as I had expected it would be...lots of sturm und drang with synths, strings and some amazing Shostakovich timpani. The next CD was a 180-degree turn in the form of J-techno-ized unit, Perfume, and their first megahit album, "Game". There were a few songs with some catchy hooks but basically it struck me as "Alvin & The Chipmunks do YMO". Another sudden musical veering with my next purchase of Bird's "Free Soul". Bird is this marvelous singer who has the chops for jazz, R&B and bossa nova and has been demonstrating this ability for almost a decade. This new album seems to be a "Best Of" disc in terms of her more middle-of-the-road stuff; perfect for Sunday brunch listening.

And finally, I got "Expressions" by veteran J-popper chanteuse Mariya Takeuchi. This is a lady who's probably second only to The Queen of non-aidoru J-Pop, Yumi Matsutoya. However, unlike The Queen, Princess Mariya's voice has never really changed in her 30 years of still has that beseeching velvety quality. Also, Mariya has a better command of the English language...I guess 1 year of high school in America can reap a 3-decade-long career. Whereas Yuming's area of expertise started out in West Coast Pop, Mariya initially strutted her stuff sounding like a Japanese Connie Francis...going for an American 50s bubblegum kitschy pop sound in her early years ("Fushigi na Peach Pie" or "September" come to mind); heck, her early single covers have her looking like a teenybopper from "Happy Days". In recent years, though, like Matsutoya, Takeuchi has embraced all sorts of influences from jazz to Merseybeat. Still have another two discs to go in that megaalbum.

On Sunday, I met up with The New Yorker for a rare weekend lesson at the same Tully's shop. She was certainly a bit more conversant in English than is typical for her. Maybe that little exposure to her sister's buddy's visit from North Carolina was an inspiration. The Carolinan's old college roomie arrived on Saturday. The family took her to the city of Narita right from the airport where they had her try unagi...eel (!) That's kinda like having me go up against an I-Go 9-dan in a pick-up game. Not surprisingly, the roomie wasn't all that impressed...I think they should've just gone for something closer to Western tastes like tonkatsu or sushi.

Later, I met up with the juku boss and Cozy for dinner in Toyocho. All these years I had passed through the area via the Tozai Line but never stopped there except in the old days when the subway didn't last as long as it does now and I had to grab a taxi topside from the station (the last train only goes as far as Toyocho). I was surprised that I had to walk quite a ways to reach the meeting place in the Hotel East 21 but there was a pretty nice outdoor mall at the bottom of the hotel. For a hotel that's not exactly in the city centre, the place had a pretty sophisticated air about it. The three of us were meeting at Cozy's invitation; aside from our very first meeting earlier before Spring, our only communication between me and him was by e-mail. He took us to this classy Chinese restaurant in the hotel. It was definitely not a restaurant for the faint of finances but it served some very tasty fare, including the de rigueur dish for such a place, Shark's-Fin Soup. The three of us had some very good conversation about how Cozy and the boss had met a quarter-century ago, the state of raising children in Japan, and how I came to end up here for the past 14 years. We even got into a proposition about possibly going together for a trip up to Hokkaido early next year. The boss later asked me whether this was Cozy's true intention or if it had been the alcohol talking. Not sure myself but I would still be pretty interested in heading back up there. During the course of dinner, the boss informed me that my old student at the juku, The Siberian, had quit his job of about 18 months due to the various stresses on the job. Strangely enough, he was working for Dai Nippon Printing, a company that I've had lessons for over the past several years, and Mr. TOEIC is also gainfully employed there. The Siberian had been assigned all the way up in Saitama Prefecture...pretty distant for a guy who lives in Chiba. And frankly, sales isn't his forte. I think with his genius-level knowledge of languages, he should be taking the more academic route in his career.

Looks like it will be a quiet week for me. I still haven't had my first class today. That will be the Full-Timer from 6 p.m. followed by Medicine Man. Tuesday will probably be the busiest day with the usual Beehive and juku classes. However, 002 will be back in between; it's been over a month since I saw her last. Wednesday and Friday will just have evening classes and I might have an early Thursday night off. Right now, Speedy is off teaching The Singer.

I heard back from Miss Prim...another old student from my days at the ol' school. She'd just come back from a stint on the Working-Holiday programme in Canada. She had gotten together with The Flautist and talked about me and some of the old days. In any case, Prim wanted to know what my schedule was like for dinner sometime this month. I said that I could have this Thursday night off early. Of course, at the same time, MB sent a message right after asking what my schedule was like on the same night to catch "Wanted" at Roppongi Hills.

Also got word from my brother. Looks like he had a successful business trip in Korea. Loved the food but the stomach had a distinctly different reaction which resulted in some frequent trips to the washroom on the plane back. But he asked me if I would like the DVD set of Season 1 of "Get Smart" sent over for my b-day. Great timing since the movie with Steve Carell starts here this Saturday.

Still have yet to hear whether PM Aso is gonna pull the trigger and dissolve Parliament for that much-expected general election in November. His minions are starting to get a bit antsy about it.

Also heard about another fall from grace in the geinokai. Taishu Kase, a washed-up actor (at least in this country) who had his heyday back in the early 90s, got busted for marijuana possession and cultivation, and there quite a few syringes found at his place. He'd been the darling of a lot of office ladies everywhere with his appearances in trendy dramas and "Inamura Jane", a surfing-in-Shonan movie that was more remarkable for the Southern-All-Stars-heavy soundtrack. I remembered watching him in a fluffy Monday-at-9 Fuji-TV dramedy, "Let's Go To School", with Yuko Asano and a very young Nakai-kun from SMAP. He got married but divorced less than a decade later due to his womanizing and wife-beating. He then escaped to Taiwan where he found his second wind in dramas there. Looks like he should've stayed there.