Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday November 8, 5:39 p.m.

Got through the gamut of model lesson, two regular lessons and a double feature with Mr. TOEIC. All this with a sore one point, I thought I was going to become the first active duty mute to teach English. Still, I've survived the ordeal and will be ready to head on home. Speedy was nice enough to get me a box of Chicken McNuggets in between Mr. TOEIC and The PA. Apparently, the PA has gotten a look-see at "Frost Vs. Nixon", that famous interview between the legendary journalist and the notorious president. It won't come out here in general release until next March.

Found out that "Ghostbusters 3" is a go. I think Ray, Pete, Egon and Zeddemore will be packing on quite a few kilos and perhaps even Depends along with their proton packs. Still, it'll be amazing to see such a large cast still kicking in the mortal world almost 20 years after the last movie.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Saturday November 8, 9:57 a.m.

The Ace was horking up a storm last night; the cold has been spreading through these parts like wildfire. Of course, the subways are often a sea of masks but even with the preventative measures, they're a breeding ground for all of the winter viruses. I did catch a bit of it but the juku boss' wonder medicine has been doing the trick.

As for that model lesson student, she was a lot better than she'd been describing...of course, that typical modesty and reserve that often frustrates me as a teacher. Not sure if it did translate into regular lessons but she did hang out talking with the boss for several minutes after the lesson; I assume it may have been more about her daughter.

I've got the lion's share of lessons today; first that model lesson student for pronunciation for the first two hours, and then The Intellectual followed by a double with Mr. TOEIC and finally The PA. It's gonna be quite the wringer. Not to overly stress the demands of being a teacher, but it's more than just gabbing over tea.
Friday November 7, 5:28 p.m.

Couldn't find the TIME wasn't the case that it had already sold out; it just hasn't come yet. Ended up getting another issue of "Hikaru no Go" instead. Well, there's always next week.

Had dinner at the CASA family restaurant by Urayasu Station. I had something called a Chopper particular connection with helicopters or Harleys. Going with that old steak sauce commercial with Dick Cavett in which he referred to hamburgers as chopped steak, I thought the folks there were getting a little too imaginative with their English. But actually, what I got was something that approximated the middle between a steak and a hamburger. It looked like a hamburger but it held together somewhat more tightly than the usual crumbly patty...interesting consistency, and it was juicy.

That model lesson student I've got in an hour is apparently the mother of one of the juku boss' young charges. The mother works at Tokyo Disneyland and sometimes has to handle questions from foreigners...most likely just directions. Not sure if that will actually translate into a long foray into English learning, but I'll see what I can do. Just glad that it's for the half-hour only instead of the nearly 2 hours with other model student at Speedy's tomorrow morning.

A bit disturbed by the events of the last few days surrounding the juku boss. She'd recently had a medical check-up at St. Luke's and found out that she has esophageal cancer. I wasn't overtly alarmed although the boss repeatedly told me that I didn't need to worry. Today, I found out that she may need to rush on the potential operation which could be a fairly long affair. The boss, as she usually does, has kept a very cheerful demeanor...which may help in any recovery. However I am worried that she may be hiding a more serious diagnosis. But the next couple of weeks should reveal more.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Friday November 7, 2:14 p.m.

Had a brief talk with The Big Lug about the US elections and how Obama's election may influence US-Japan relations. We also referred to an article in today's "International Herald Tribune" where Tokyo's attempts to get the 2016 Olympics may be permanently derailed if Obama decides to endorse Chicago, his soon-to-be former base of operations...that would, of course, all depend on whether he's still popular by that time. The both of us agreed that we would be very happy to hand over The Games to The Windy City and Murder Capital, USA.

In the lesson, we were covering adjectives to describe attractiveness of men and women. We ended up talking on the Japanese concepts of the "shoyu" (soy sauce) face and the "sauce" (as in thick Worcestershire sauce) face. Translating them into English, the soy sauce face refers to those faces with delicate features...a pretty boy, if you like. Keanu Reaves fits that profile. On the other hand, the sauce face refers to craggy, leathery, rugged visages such as the ones on Tommy Lee Jones and Clint Eastwood.
Friday November 7, 12:11 p.m.

Pretty promising day out there meterologically speaking. And I actually got a fair night's sleep last night for the first time in about a couple of days. Just have The Big Lug in less than an hour; last week, we had this rather intriguing lesson of me deciphering John McCain's jokes from that formal dinner a few weeks ago for my student. We finished things off by saying that things in the US may be quite different this time; it, of course, turned out to be true...could be an interesting class.

I gotta go over that big model lesson for tomorrow morning. It's gonna be a with a fellow who also wants to improve his delivery and pronunciation, so we'll be taking a page out of that playbook for Miss Pronunciation. Gonna be a battery of tests for the lad, though. Also, I've got another model lesson at the juku tonight for a far more basic lass. I've sent a request out to the juku boss asking if I could have the night before departure to The Great White North off since The California Girl would like to meet me before I go.

I'll drop by Kinokuniya on the way to Urayasu, though. Gotta see if I can pick up that commemorative issue of TIME with the face of Barack Obama plastered on the cover.
Thursday November 6, 7:47 p.m.

Yes, I did promise no more Obama stories, but I did forget about some of the more humourous consequences of his election in this country. Obama City, Fukui Prefecture...yes, (State of) Virginia, there is an Obama's the one that has been mentioned in bits and bytes over CNN in the days approaching November 4. Well, they did celebrate their namesake's win with parties and a hula dance commemorating his birthplace. I'm pretty sure the Obama manju won't be too far away, along with the Hello, Kitty version of Barack...and even an anime of the life and times of the 44th President can't be written off. An anime of Princess Diana was once done years ago. There was also a mock election held at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo in which Obama won there as well by a whopping margin. Y'know, I would love to go there and see what's really up with that place. By the way, obama in Japanese means "small beach"; you can put that notorious picture of Obama in his bathing trunks aside that definition to get that connection.

Mr. TOEIC called up to say that he would be 20 minutes late. Ay, ya.
Thursday November 6, 6:23 p.m.

Had my lesson with The Singer a couple of hours ago. I was left waiting in the hall for 10 minutes before her minder finally picked me up. I was...paranoid, yes, as usual...wondering if the staff was trying to get back at us for that kerfuffle on Tuesday. But it seems like everything was hunky dory. I mixed in my Dancing Bear side with the regular lesson which brought some laughter from her...always good to have the humour; she even asked me about a lyric in some song she's writing.

Back here, I'm now just waiting for that final lesson of the day...that being Medicine Man's class at 9:30. Miss Pronounciation did cancel, but maybe I'll get Mr. TOEIC's lesson back...not quite sure.

I last report on the U.S. elections...and the aftermath. Looks like Obamamania is continuing apace. Front pages of newspapers have been selling out like pancakes...of course, the inevitable scalping has begun. Even I haven't been immune...I actually printed out the front page of "The Los Angeles Times" for a possible frame.

The other observation some 24 hours after the election has been the venomous vitriol from disgruntled Republicans about Obama's victory. I shouldn't be surprised since that was probably repeated by disgruntled Democrats back in 2004 when Bush was re-elected. Still, it is somewhat disheartening to see that this extreme polarization of political views will continue into the future. However, perhaps those disappointed folks may take solace in the fact that Barack Obama will be facing a huge learning curve the size of the slope that John McCain tried to scale and slid upon during his attempts at the Presidency...and most likely, Obama will fail in a number of his initiatives. Even the slightest error or faux pas will probably even get the moderate GOP'ers...let alone the rabid reactionaries, to yell out the largest "I TOLD YOU SO!" to anyone who listens. And the constant knives and attacks will start to rub down on the man over the next 4 years.

On a lighter note, what was up with that hologram of Jessica Yellin on CNN? I was watching some of the comments about it...and the vast majority was very snarkworthy. Yes, I thought it was rather gimmicky...I think having a live reporter on camera is good enough for us. There were a lot of comments like "Wolf Blitzer, you're my only hope!". However, I guess being the ever-faithful Trekkie, my first comment was, "Please state the nature of the political emergency." Mind you, Ms. Yellin is a whole lot better on the eyes than The Doctor of the U.S.S. Voyager. be at home when all of this was going on.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thursday November 6, 2:34 p.m.

Finished off the first three students in short order. Grandma Dynamite was her usual feisty self while the new kid on the block, Grandma FON, conducted herself very well. She's definitely a talker...didn't need to use the text at all. Miss Sedona was great as usual. However, halfway through her lesson, I suddenly came down an urgent need to go to the washroom...20 years of teaching, though, had me able to hold on for the remaining 30 minutes and conduct myself as professionally as I could before making a quick dash after the young lady left the premises.

I'll be heading out in about 15 minutes to teach The Singer once again. I may be doing some deep bowing due to some scheduling fiasco on Tuesday involving her...well, I don't think it's as bad as a fiasco but the bossman feels that apologies may be in order.
Thursday November 6, 9:47 a.m.

Rushed start to the day. Went home exhausted after The Fashion Designer (she was pretty sleepy herself in the lesson). My body took over and decided that it would refuse to let me wake up until I had at least 6 hours of sleep...which meant that I woke up almost an hour later than scheduled....and 20 minutes after I was supposed to have left the apartment. I was out the door in 10 minutes. I was lucky to have been able to get on the subway and get a middle space instead of breaking several laws of physics near the doorways.

The Patent Attorney isn't my student but traditionally since I'm in early...usually...I greet him and keep him talking for about 5 minutes before the bossman gets in. Therefore I took a chance of getting there before he did by taking the subway all the way to Nakano Station and then seeing if I had better luck with the bus. The gamble failed...I got to the school 5 minutes late. Luckily, The PA is an infinitely patient and friendly fellow, and he was just gabbing away on the cell with his office. He even asked about my welfare since I was wearing the mask. I was just lucky that it wasn't The Smile who had to wait for me.

I've got Grandma Dynamite in about 20 minutes. Then, I have that new Grandma...FON (Force of Nature)...right after Dynamite. Grandma FON is that whirlwind of chatter whom Dynamite had brought in several weeks ago suddenly. Everybody on staff, including the usually unflappable bossman, was taken aback at this Yoda of an elderly woman. So much so that I really don't know what text I could use with her....or even if she should have a text. Judging from that first talk with her...she can just go on automatic, and I can just nod and smile.

Then, it's Miss Sedona, The Singer and Medicine Man to wrap up. Miss Pronounciation was sandwiched somewhere in there but she canned her lesson tonight last night. She's a good student but I'm somewhat grateful for the little break. However, I'm getting saddled with a couple of more model lessons tomorrow and Saturday morning here and at the juku. Two more reasons to lose weight and sleep through stress.

But none of my troubles merit even a shallow breath next to what the next American President is and will go through. After all the cheering and crying and celebrating were done, the world is still left with two wars and a financial crisis...and one future leader of the free world to somehow sort everything out. It's kinda amazing how the nutso atmosphere of the night before quickly dissipated to a "OK....let's get back to work" feel, although I'm sure that a lot of people around the world may still carry that grin on their faces. One thing, though....Barack Obama has hit the ground running...he's already offered The Chief of Staff job to Rahm Emmanuel. Best of luck, sir.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wednesday November 5, 4:05 p.m.

On Monday September 11, 2001, I had just back home from Canada to witness one of the most horrific acts ever committed in American history on live TV. Probably billions of other people watched this with me. Now, over 7 years later, on Tuesday November 4, 2008 (US time), I have just seen the antithesis with probably billions of other people....I've become witness to one of the most incredible scenes in American history. Unfortunately, I couldn't see it live but for the past several minutes, I've been going through the various American media outlets and YouTube, and watching the various videos showing the moment when Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. I've only gotten interested in watching politics recently but I can say confidently that I don't think there has ever been this much outpouring of joy in a very long time, and most likely I don't think I'll ever see anything like this ever again. To see millions of people celebrating a political win like this is just impossible to believe. I've seen Reverend Jesse Jackson cry like a baby, the usually cool and collected Oprah Winfrey almost lose it, and a couple of CNN commentators get a little verklempt on camera. I can only imagine that Wolf, Tom and some of the other anchors out there must've dug down really deep not to show a lack of professionalism when making the historic announcement.

Having said that, I also have some sympathy for John does it feel to lose an election of this nature? To have millions of people celebrating your rival's victory in an unprecedented manner? Pretty humbling...but John is made of stern stuff as he proved very well during his 5 years at The Hanoi Hilton.

I think people will be looking at November 4, 2008 for a very long time and analyzing it...and the path that began in Springfield, Ohio almost 2 years ago. I guess the next biggest day will be January 20, 2009. I'll definitely be interested in seeing who Barack will be seeding his Cabinet with. Any place for Hillary?

Time for dinner...
Wednesday November 4, 1:37 p.m.

YES, HE COULD! That'll probably be one of the pithy headlines in the papers tomorrow as Barack Obama gets the presidency. I've been going through some of the videos over the Net; looks like there's gonna be some major celebrating in Chicago, Kenya and maybe even Obama City, Japan. Just saw the McCain concession speech, classy way to go considering that was probably his final stab at the brass ring. Now, it might be time for Sarah Palin to go to school. I have to admit that I was getting chills when I saw the headlines on CNN. I wish I had been home to see all of the hoopla. I guess a new dawn may be coming to America.
Wednesday November 5, 12:46 p.m.

Well, they're still tallying things up in the elections but it's starting to look like Obama is pulling away from McCain. He's got 207 electoral votes so far and that's without California and the other West Coast states, and they've usually been Democratic strongholds. Getting California would mean another 55 votes and he would only be 8 away from getting the Presidency. Plus, Obama is on track to get Ohio in his pocket, and Ohio was a must-win for McCain. Regrettably, I can't see any of this live since this computer refuses to let me see!

The Grandmas were fine. Grandma Tango and I managed to muddle our way through the mixed Japanese and English. It was pretty much the same deal between Grandma Enka and me. Now I have about 5 hours of down time until 001 comes in.
Wednesday November 5, 9:51 a.m.

Well, the first votes are in...apparently, McCain got Kentucky with 11 electoral votes and Obama got Vermont with 3 votes. No surprises there; they were both expected to grab those states. The battleground states are looking pretty nailbiting, though.

The phone's been ringing a few times. I generally tend to stay away from phones since my telephone Japanese is not up to speed in terms of business. The callers don't leave any messages which is a bit frustrating.

Grandma Tango should be coming in sometime in the next 15-20 minutes.
Wednesday November 5, 8:09 a.m.

Back here early since I gotta take over for the bossman who's out on business this morning and teach Grandmas Tango and Enka. I woke up at 5 a.m. just to see how the U.S. elections are going; people were lining up and voting away. I've been trying to see live coverage from the Internet but it seems that my access to that part of CNN and international channels are blocked. Crud! So far, Obama still has the lead. The polls should've closed in some states already.

Feels like that Pablon that the juku boss gave me last night has been doing the trick. I've been drip-free so far.

I got a message from California Girl stating that she would like to see me if there's time before I take off on the 17th for home. Well, she said that she'd be leaving the West Coast on the frankly, I kinda doubt it.

Well, back to CNN...
Tuesday November 4, 9:27 p.m.

Finished for the night...and I'm just feeling finished. That cold has started to germinate inside of me. I was doing some major sniffling during Mr. Mild's lesson. Yep, just Mr. Mild...the missus is also going through her own battle with the cold as well. Meanwhile, in the next room, the juku boss was having her first meeting with a new student and his mother. Fresh-faced and eager boy...wonder how long that'll last. I give him 6 months before the sulleness kicks in. Didn't feel too good about having to make greetings while wearing a mask. Luckily, the boss was kind enough to get me some cold medicine called Pablon. Apparently, it should kick in in about 30 minutes. Good enough for me.

Gotta get home and get some shuteye before the early exodus tomorrow. Meanwhile, half a world away, a pivotal election gets under way.
Tuesday November 4, 7:01 p.m.

As I've said before, Suzanne is a tonic. She might look like a gyaru and act 10 years younger than she is, but she's got a sponge-like curiosity for all things great and small. Today ended up being a seminar on the sub-prime rate disaster in the US and why it caused the financial meltdown and how it could affect the results of the US elections. However, during the lesson, it became increasingly evident that I may be coming down with a cold.

Took a listen to that compilation double album of Ego-Wrappin's best hits: "Best Wrappin'". I hadn't been aware that the band's been about for 12 years. Ego-Wrappin' is this Osaka-based duo consisting of Yoshie Nakano (vocal) and Masaki Mori (guitarist) who's been often categorized as a retro-jazz unit. But that would be kinda like saying The Manhattan Transfer is a retro-jazz unit. Ego-Wrappin' seems to be incorporate various muscial influences from bebop to cool jazz to techno to rockabilly and maybe even psychobilly. And Nakano comes off as a hybrid J-Bjork and Yuki with a voice that sometimes reminds me of Janis Joplin doing standards. Really interesting music.

Speaking of music here, I turned on the telly this morning and saw the face of Tetsuya Komuro, the former Svengali of J-Pop in the 90s when he was behind various bands such as TRF, Globe, and dos...and behind the early careers of Namie Amuro and Tomomi Kahala. Perhaps in the West, he may have been recognized as the guy who came up with the techno version of the "Speed" theme for "Speed 2". Man, what a fall from grace. He was arrested last night on fraud charges based on some sort of copyright. Apparently, he'd been strapped for money and his heyday has been long over.

Well, not sure about the rest of Japan, but there is one city by the name of Obama here in one of the prefectures that's rooting for a certain Senator right now. May even be worth a visit someday.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tuesday November 4, 4:30 p.m.

Well, it's Election Day in America. I gather that if this day were a movie, it would be an epic costing millions of dollars with plenty of twists and turns and a John Williams soundtrack. Basically, all of these things did happen, sans the soundtrack. And there was even a note of pathos this morning on hearing that Barack Obama's grandmother had passed away yesterday. It was sad to see Obama talk about the "rock" in his life and then tearing up a bit at the podium. However, starting from tonight Japan Standard Time, the final craziness begins, the American political equivalent of The Battle Over The Death Star. Is it gonna be tough-as-nails war hero John McCain, or the agent of change Barack Obama? The first exit polls shold be known tomorrow morning...again around 10 a.m. That's 15 minutes before I have to teach Grandma Tango. I have a feeling that I'll be checking ad nauseum throughout the day. It's kinda too bad that I'll be missing out on watching Wolf, J.D., Anderson and John King with The Wall but it's just as well....I won't be able to catch any TV at home tomorrow anyways, since the cable guys will be installing their product....good grief...14 years to the day that I arrived in this country and now they're installing cable?! Go fig on that, the guys have to enter my apartment to make sure the plug-ins are holding.

Yesterday was Culture Day in Japan...a national holiday...which means that kendo was actually televised live on NHK. Otherwise, most folks here wouldn't remember what the holiday is. I made my way out into the city and bought a new text at Maruzen to keep Tully & The Coffeemaker occupied before heading over to Tower Records in Shibuya to contribute my money to Japanese culture and buying an enka DVD for my father.

I also was able to cook my minestrone soup...well, stew, actually...again it was a case of putting way too much starch in the form of pasta and potatoes...for the first time in 2 years. Rather surprised at how cheap I can get all the fixins for the soup...just 840 yen for all the veggies, including the whole tomatoes.

Today, I met up with The Beehive. Mrs. Perth was the first one there. She was back here from Sapporo for about a week. Sapporo is supposed to be getting its first snowfall today. Mrs. Jade and Mrs. Alp joined in. I brought in an article about Obama vs. McCain which provided lots of talk. I was glad that things went well today considering some of the moaning and groaning about how the class was going two weeks ago.

And it was my final lesson with 002. No particular emotional jags there. Some laughter and that was all she wrote. We wished each other well, and perhaps next year there'll be another nabe party at her place.

I've just got the two lessons at the juku tonight...Suzanne and then The Milds. I think The Traveler is gone for good. I'm still not quite sure if The Traveler's news of her manic depression is true or not, but she's not coming here. At least, I can get home early since I gotta leave early tomorrow morning.