Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday October 17, 10:43 p.m.

I've just finished the juku classes for the week. Mild Jr. and I just analyzed some of the Halloween songs they're playing at Tokyo Disneyland and gabbed on the origins on the former All Hallows Eve. Then an hour later, there was a bit of a scheduling swap; The Ace was running late so he saw me at 10 instead of 9. The Restauranteur actually led from the bottom of the hour; she's doing well but I'll probably be starting basic question intonation practice once we get all of the Restaurant English out of the way. The Ace was really kind; he was grateful that I could stay for that extra half-hour and got me a small packet of Lindt chocolates. Never a bad thing.

Well, I'm off for two. Got that dinner at 002's place tomorrow. Not sure how that's gonna go considering the kerfuffle from last week. But bringing over the pumpkin and 001's presence there will smooth things over, hopefully. Then on Sunday, it's "Iron Man" with the usual movie crowd.
Friday October 17, 4:41 p.m.

Back here at the juku...the boss is off somewhere; I had to jiggle the lock to get myself in. Dew the attention of Toonces the juku cat since he was there to greet me when I finally got the door open. Not sure but her husband might be in the living room downstairs...didn't bother to come to the door.

Went back down to Hiroo to get that pumpkin at National Azabu. Had lunch at KFC first; not exactly feeling too adventurous to try some of the more pricier stuff in the neighbourhood. The supermarket was bustling with gaijin and locals alike. There was a gaggle of kids in front of the Baskin-Robbins (simply called 31 here)...not surprisingly noisy at the thought of getting ice cream, no doubt. Found a nice-sized gourd for 980 yen and also got a Campbell's can of Creamy Chicken Soup...the Chunky stuff was much larger and more expensive. There were a few American women gabbing away in the middle of the aisle near the finger food; you may change the environment but some habits die hard.

It's clouded over considerably; I'm dreading that the weather forecasters have screwed up again. It wouldn't be the first time this year.

Not sure if it's the KFC lunch but I'm feeling pretty tired again. Maybe I'm still feeling the effects of yesterday. Tonight should be a walk in the park in comparison. Just have Mild Jr., The Ace and then The Restauranteur.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Friday October 17, 1:13 p.m.

Well, what a difference a few innings makes. In my last entry, the Boston Red Sox were getting hammered by the Tampa Bay Rays in Boston 5-0. That lead expanded to 7-0, but now as I type, it's the bottom of the 9th and the Bosox have actually tied it up at 7-7! Baseball is truly an American game.

Got a couple of more pages done up and ready for transmission to The Corner.

And the Bosox have pulled one right from the furnace...8-7! Friday morning over there on the Eastern Seaboard will probably have The Mother of All Watercooler Talks in all of those corporate towers.

As for me, it's time to get that pumpkin but I gotta get some grub first.
Friday October 17, 12:15 p.m.

The Nurse was in pretty high spirits today, after 2 months back. Her new house has been settled in...she even has a picture of her living room in her cellphone. She also gave me a small package of sweet potatoes cooked in honey and yuzu. Ray, the boss and I are currently sharing them; I'm not usually a big purveyor of yams since they tend to expand like a rubber boat in my stomach, but these are pretty good.

Well, gotta back to those translations...
Friday October 17, 10:26 a.m.

Well, back at the school again. I feel better after a deeper sleep than usual after that most marathon of sessions yesterday...not totally refreshed but I think it would take several sessions at a spa to get me feeling that good in any case.

Pretty laid-back feeling at Speedy's so far. It's just me and him, and he's watching what will probably be the last game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Bosox on the plasma screen. Matsuzaka and the Sox are getting their tails kicked right now 5-0. Speedy is saying that ESPN and the other sports outlets Stateside are probably gonna be crying in their beer since the World Series will consist of small-market teams. The Nurse will be here in about half an hour.

Afterwards, I've gotta do some more work on translation and maybe even start the strategizing for that model lesson for that potential pronounciation student next week, before I head on out to Hiroo again to pick up the pumpkin at National Azabu for 002's party tomorrow. I might even pick up a can of Campbell's Soup there. The regular supermarkets also stock Campbell's but apparently the management assumes that the Japanese can only handle Minestrone and Boston Clam Chowder. Me...I wanna go for that ol' style Barley and Beef or good ol' Chunky.

I'll have to get back relatively early to the juku since Mild Jr. will be coming in for what will be his semi-regular stint at 7 on Fridays.

As for those near-perpetual U.S. Elections, the networks seem to be thinking that Obama has got this one in the attitude that I'm sure Obama wants to quash like a bug. I just heard from The Anime King that with the Canadian Elections a few days ago, the polls had the Liberals with a 10% lead over the Conservatives. And guess what happened? The Torys still have their minority government. So all this talk about the Dems starting to put some more daylight between themselves and the trailing Republicans is just talk to me. 19 days away, anything can still happen. And frankly speaking, I think Barack is the first presidential candidate I've ever seen to start the accelerated aging process before November 4. CNN and all of the other networks like to do features from time to time to remind the viewers that being the leader of the free world exacts a physical toll. Well, of all the major candidates that had been in the running during the Primaries and now the General Election, Obama seems to have started looking grayer and slightly more saggier recently. Certainly, compared to that electric keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention and his own pronouncement to run back in early 2007, the Illinois Senator is looking somewhat less fresh. Will he manage to even survive his own Inauguration Day if he gets elected?

Well, in other news, I brought over that Brent Spiner "Ol' Yellow Eyes is Back" disc for The Trekkie. Not sure if she's much for standards sung by an android, but the kitsch factor should be amusing enough for her.
Thursday October 16, 10:41 p.m.

Finally, the Mother of All Hump Days has come to a quiet end. Rather incredible when I think about it....I taught 8 students through 8.5 hours and did survive fairly well. However, I will sleep pretty well, although it'll probably be just the 6 since I do have The Nurse back at 11 tomorrow. I think I can probably take anything now.

That model lesson student was a bit of a mumbly one...flat intonation and delivery. She can sure use the intensive pronounication programme. As for Medicine Man, he got the first question on the test but after that, he blazed through the rest fo a 98% score. Just hope that means a renewal in a month.

Saw the first few shots from the new "Star Trek" movie on the Internet. Hmmm....looks really day-glo, but I'm intrigued about the possibilities. I may give The Trekkie a heads-up on that one.

That final debate between McCain and Obama kinda showed the difference between what the regular folks and the professional pundits saw. The pundits were somewhat divided between the two combatants, but the viewers favoured Obama heavily. This is may be one time that McCain may not be able to pull one out of the fire, but still too early to say definitively.

In any case, time to mosey on home...
Thursday October 16, 7:41 p.m.

Well, I'm starting to feel my old bones but nothing too devastating. I've got two more to go before this Mother of All Hump Days comes to a welcome close. I dashed out to teach The Singer; fine as usual. Speedy takes over for the next few lessons but it looks like I'll be there to teach her in November...apparently, she's a glutton for punishment. Then, I dashed back to teach The Carolinan. She had already gotten there before me but just by a couple of minutes. Looks like she and The New Yorker remembered my me some cookies from Alain LeComte and a lucky charm from their trip to Kyoto. She was rather thrilled when I noticed that she'd lost weight. She's been on that infernal banana diet which has taken Japan by the throat.

Now, I've got this model student in about 20 minutes to check her pronounciation. Then, finally, I have Medicine Man to see if he did OK on his big test. And I slink home. I'll be back tomorrow at a more reasonable time to teach The Nurse. She's returning after more than 2 months away since she's had that big move of hers. It'll be nice to catch up with her.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thursday October 16, 2:34 p.m.

Miss Sedona is done for the day. And I'm feeling that I'm almost done. I'm almost regretting having to go and teach The Singer, but Speedy hasn't returned and I don't expect him to in the next 25 minutes. I will really need to hit the lunch and vitamin drinks before I head over to the studio. Four more to go.

Looks like the results from the final debate are much more mixed. But I think McCain really needed that knockout punch. I still think it's too early to make a final decision on who will get The White House but it's not looking for the Republicans right now.
Thursday October 16, 1:06 p.m.

Finished with The Yogist. Quite a force of nature, she is. She said that she was mastering the intermediate poses which involve a lot of handstands and making abstract art with her legs. She told me that the advanced poses can be nauseating to watch.

AK is back from her New York adventure. Got her fill of bagels but couldn't find places which served Egg Creams. Not that I would heavily recommend them or anything.

So far, I seem to be hanging in big fatigue. And Miss Sedona is always good so I should be in good shape for the rest of the afternoon, at least.
Thursday October 16, 11:39 a.m.

Finished up the morning segment of lessons. The Smile did well; wished me a Happy Birthday and I wished her the same since today's her special day. As for Grandma Dynamite, we managed to survive the double lesson with our collective sanity intact. Got the next round with The Yogist and Miss Sedona in 20 minutes.
Thursday October 16, 7:46 a.m.

And thus it begins....the Mother of All Hump Days. Woke up this morning at the eye-blearingly early hour of 5 and was out by 5:50. Even at 6 a.m., the Tozai Line's seats are fully occupied although there is still plenty of space for standing. The Japanese as a population are morning people...although more by duty than choice. Even the suiciders get their ultimate acts done pretty early. There was already a "jinshin jiko" by the time I got to the Oedo Line.

Had my brekkie almost a full hour earlier than usual at McDonalds, so I'm pretty juiced up now. My lineup is as follows: The Smile, a double with Grandma Dynamite (I'll definitely be in need of sustenance by the end of that one), The Yogist, Miss Sedona, The Singer, The Carolinan, a guest cameo by a model lesson student for 15 minutes and then...finally...Medicine Man to wrap up this English conversation school version of "A Night of A Thousand Stars". Speedy kindly offered to take over The Singer's class if I get overwhelmed, but that was more of a token gesture than anything since he very much doubts that he'll get back from his outside business by the time I need to leave here. In any case, it'll be one for the record books. However, it is nice to know that all of the students are good folk.

Last night, 001 was her usual genki self. In fact, she was probably more genki than usual so I gather that 002 may not have filled her in on the little problem last week. She'll be there at 002's shindig on Saturday. And since I haven't heard from my soon-to-be former student, I guess I'm still on the invite list. Means that I'll be heading back to National Azabu Supermarket tomorrow afternoon to pick up that pumpkin for carving.

The Diver let go of a small bombshell last night. She's quit her job as a nurse. Didn't divulge her reasons (and I didn't press) but I gather that there was a conflict of personalities somewhere. May not be great for us since our renewals here depend on our students being gainfully employed.

My birthday was merely just a footnote but I did get my share of birthday wishes via the good platform of Facebook.
Wednesday October 15, 5:31 p.m.

Should be expecting 001 in about half an hour. Wonder if 002 had told her about last week's kerfuffle. Should know soon enough...001 doesn't exactly hide her feelings.

Taught The Magician earlier. Not exactly the most stable structure but she tries hard.

Looks like Stephen Harper got his minority government once more. McCain is probably wondering how a parliamentary form of government would work.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wednesday October 15, 12:30 p.m.

Well, I've been given the round of birthday wishes from all sorts of folks: everyone from The Entrepreneur to The Ballerina. Don't think the age of 43 is particularly anything to celebrate about. And today is Hump Day 1. Not too bad, especially that The Fashion Designer cancelled tonight so I can try to get some shuteye before coming back here for The Mother of All Hump Days on Thursday.

Speaking of cancellations, Jolly did it again by not showing up last night. The juku boss and I were tsk-tsking about what to do with this guy. If he wants to quit, he should tell us soon.

Finished with Miss Honolulu...she's officially my student but I've only had her second lesson this morning since she usually comes in on Tuesdays, which are strictly my only-in-Chiba days. She's good and conversant but not too quick in terms of fluency.

It looks like the Conservatives will continue to take charge of Canada, according to early results. So, it'll still be Prime Minister Harper. Meanwhile, all that news about an early snap election announcement from PM Aso here has pretty much evaporated until things get settled financially.

The Trekkie left a little note concerning my own love for all things Trek. Of course, "Live long and prosper!" and "Resistance is futile!" all figured prominently in the message. I wasn't sure if this was because of my birthday. I may lend her my Brent Spiner CD. Ray has absolutely no idea what's being communicated between us.
Tuesday October 14, 9:21 p.m.

Finished off The Milds today. Actually, The Traveler couldn't make it due to cold...sign of the times. So, it was back to the old days again. We also got a surprise in the form of the juku boss bringing some imo yokan (sweet potato bean jelly...don't knock it til you try it) and barley tea for dessert. Mr. Mild has been having a good time in his retirement by taking some DIY classes; today, he was practicing installing plastic tiles on the floor.

Mrs. Mild will be off next on a trip to southern France with her buddies next week. When I remarked that Mr. Mild might be somewhat lonely, he just said that he may actually be lucky instead. I could see that knife being thrown by his wife any moment now.

As for that model lesson student, the kid didn't resemble anything like Seven or any typical Shibuya gyaru. In fact, she looked like a sweet little countryside girl...I'd say she looked like she belonged to the panoply of cute Disney characters, which is actually appropo since she works in one of the restaurants in Tokyo Disneyland Hotel as a waitress. The Milds were surprised at the coincidence since Mild Jr. is one of the security guys there. She's a bit on the shy side but has some latent ability. Looks like the lesson went pretty well for her, but she says she has to consult with her parents first...hmmm, as usual, being the cynic I am, it could be a hedge, but in her case, I wouldn't be surprised if she did check with the parentals for every little decision.

Well, waiting for Jolly since he hasn't called to dotakyan. But then he did no-show a couple of weeks back without making any sort of call.

The next couple of days may be the busiest of my entire time at Speedy's. I hope I don't end up thinking of homicide if he asks me to teach any more lessons.
Tuesday October 14, 6:51 p.m.

Just finished with Suzanne. Looks like she couldn't forget her summertime pal during her escapade in Australia earlier this year. She may be taking a little tour of Oz again in December...just has to figure out a way to tell the parentals gently. Now, I'm just waiting for this sudden model lesson student. The boss tells me that she may be like Seven...well, that's not too bad. Seven was a good egg.

Suzanne works in a supermarket. And occasionally, the odd foreigner does come in to ask questions. Today, she got one who was looking for a carton of egg whites. The lass was a bit flabbergasted. Even I hadn't been aware that cartons of just egg whites could exist, but I'm not surprised that such a thing could be sold in America. They probably would be bestsellers as well.
Tuesday October 14, 4:36 p.m.

Well, just looked up that guy who dissed the METROPOLIS Batman wannabe. The Hairy White Prince (couldn't make up that codename if I tried) definitely comes off as someone who's been in this country too long and has become really embittered with it all. His current page has pics of drunks and dweebs sleeping it off in all sorts of positions all over Tokyo with very disparaging captions. He doesn't even hold off on the women, either. To be honest, I think he's my id. Did also come across another site quoting him that his former English student, who was supposed to be in New York learning to become an actress, was outed as an S&M mistress who almost choked a university professor to death. A little beyond Sumiko Nishioka, I guess.

In somewhat more mundane news, CNN's been showing some happy pics of stockbrokers since in what is taking on Phoenix-like proportions, the stock market has been hitting the highs compared to the hellish lows it was plummeting to a week ago. Cue the "Star Wars" Coronation Scene music by John Williams. Oh, and by the way, oil just dropped to $98...
Tuesday October 14, 4:09 p.m.

Well, one of those things I do not really like. I got into the juku where the boss told me that I've got a model lesson right after Suzanne's lesson. I reacted levelheadedly but she knew I was a bit annoyed and offered to call the prospective student up to re-schedule. But I just waived it off and said to go ahead since according to the boss, the student is a 19-year-old who claims to be a lowbie. Man...a teen again...y'know, I want to be charitable but if I just blindly accepted everything that got thrown at me, the boss wouldn't know my limits. Anyways, she's gone back downstairs to practice her koto.

It'll be the usual clan otherwise. Suzanne, then The Milds & The Traveler. And again, I'll be on tenterhooks about Jolly. He said that he would be coming tonight when he'd called last Tuesday to cancel. We'll see. If he does come, it'll be another 90. Grrrrr....

A few weeks ago, there was The Last Word column in the weekly METROPOLIS in which the contributor just about verbally announced his intention to be The Dark Knight and go after all of the scummy pedophiles in Japan. Well, his manifesto of vigilantism got a couple of responses: one who called him a moron and told him to lower the paranoia dial (he even left his website address so he's more than willing to take him on in a flame war) while the other somewhat lauded him but pushed him exactly for details. As for me, the fellow struck me as someone who may have written the article after having drunk a few too many Red Bulls and watching the "Dirty Harry" DVD collection. Nice to know that he's righteously infuriated but y'know, going on the soapbox and promising to bash anyone who comes within 2 cm of molesting any child on the street doesn't exactly strike me as having the most normal behaviour. But I'll have to check out that website of that responder who cut the guy down to size.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tuesday October 13, 1:39 p.m.

It's been a cloudy but rainless day so far, but we're expecting some precip tonight. Met up with The Beehive this morning. Mrs. Tee showed up for the first time in a few weeks. We went down to town on the local political vocab.

Yesterday, I headed down to the tony, embassy-ridden neighbourhood of Hiroo, just a couple of stations down from Roppongi on the Hibiya Line. It isn't exactly an entertainment area but I think the ex-pats who live down there like it that way. It comes off as nice residential area not too far from downtown. I wanted to check out National Azabu Supermarket, one of the most famous international supermarkets in Tokyo since I'm on the pumpkin hunt for this Saturday for 002's party (that is, if I'm still invited...I think things are perhaps a bit tense between us since that unpleasantness last week). Yup, the future Jack O'Lanterns were there selling for about 1400 yen. I also checked out the cosmetics section; they also had decent roll-on deodorant sticks. For some reason, most drugstores here still adhere to the old Ban spray or some really dinky-looking roll-ons with liquid. The Mennen Speed Sticks cost twice as much as they do back home. National Azabu did feel like going through a Canadian Loblaws. A lot of the foreign element were nattering back and forth. I'll probably be heading back on Friday to pick up a gourd.

Then it was off to Shibuya...on foot. It actually only took me a half-hour to get there from Hiroo. The walk was nice but there really wasn't anything spectacular on the way. I could've easily switched the view between Shibuya and Hiroo with a similar experience between Ichigaya and Shinjuku a few weeks ago. I met up with MB and The Satyr there to catch "Wanted". I remember reading an article about a guy who goes around pointing around illogical examples of physics in movies; well, he would have a field day with this one. I don't think I've seen so many bendy bullets and disaster-resistant cars in my life. I guess since it's been about a decade since the first "Matrix" movie, it was about time for another crazed special-effects extravaganza. However, since all of us are now totally inured to the various effects such as "Bullet Time", "Wanted" didn't exactly push any envelopes; it was just summer blockbuster mayhem that was worth its 1300 yen. MB, of course, poked all the holes in the writing logic.

We discovered that that mysterious Krispy Kreme #5 was located in the theatre lobby. It did have a sizable lineup since it was a holiday yesterday, but it was probably still nothing compared to the snake outside of #1. However, after the movie, the three of us didn't go for doughnuts. Instead, we just crossed the street and went to that all-chicken izakaya. I'd been there a number of times with Chip Guy in the past, and since MB is on a perpetual chicken-free existence due to his chicken-hating wife, I thought that was as good a place as any for dinner. There, we indulged in the Japanese-style chicken wings known as tebasaki, along with cheese-filled chicken fritters (a very Homer Simpson dish) and some other poultry-themed stuff. Meanwhile, we got into this discussion...or basically a ranting about the cookie-cutter approach to the local dramas on TV, and also about the most annoying talking heads. We all agreed that The Kabira Bros, foreign tarento Dave Spector and former tennis player Shuzo Matsuoka take the proverbial cake. Looks like next Sunday will also be a movie day for us since that's the day for "Iron Man". Strangely enough, Skippy is eager to catch that one with us; we'd always thought she had little interest in American superheroes. But I haven't seen her in over a month so it'll be good to see her once again.

The news has been continuing to fill up with the latest drama concering The Global Economic Crisis of 2008. However, Japan has also been occupied with a crime drama that reached a rather sudden and jarring end over the weekend. A fellow by the name of Kazu Miura (no connection to the soccer player of the same name) had been involved in the shooting death of his wife in Los Angeles over a quarter-century ago in 1981. He was later arrested some years later as a suspect but was found not guilty. Then, earlier this year, when Miura was in Saipan, the US cops got him there since he was in an American territory. After some back-and-forth in the courts concerning extradition, the news came last week that he could be taken back to LA for a court hearing. He was taken to a detention centre and then was found hanged with his T-shirt around his neck. He is dead and 27 years of mystery are finished. My question is if this guy was of so much importance even nearly after 3 decades, why was he allowed to commit suicide so easily?

Back to more mundane news, those two new apartment buildings in my neighbourhood are all ready to go. Well, one of them just across from an elementary school is virtually all filled up now with residents.

I've still been going through the oeuvre of Mariya Takeuchi's pop career via her "Expressions" 4-CD pack. I have even latched onto a new song that's already gotten a good amount of play from me. It's called "Plastic Love" from 1984. Had never heard it before, and what struck me about it was how atypical it is from her stuff at the time which was kinda along the lines of 50s bubblegum pop. At first, I thought it sounded more like someone else's tune...someone familiar. Then, I came to the realization, this was more Anri's type of tune: urban 80s R&B. In any case, it's been good listening.