Friday, November 28, 2008

Saturday November 29, 4:49 p.m.

Finished the gauntlet. No big problems with the four, but it looks like next Saturday just before the bonenkai is gonna be packed. I'm gonna be working for my dinner that night...and I still have to pay 5,500 yen.
Saturday November 29, 9:35 a.m.

It took a while but someone finally realized that I had been wrapping a rubber band around my left pant leg last night. I was wearing some slacks for which the stitching on the left leg had broken completely and so had to fasten with the ring of rubber...I can handle sock darning or button sewing but cuff stitching is totally out of my league. It was The Restauranteur who found me out...and it figures...she's the salt-of-the-earth type who's amassed a life's experience of making quick observations from her work. The juku boss had a big laugh about it and it was just like her to just drop everything and forced me to sit down, put my left leg on the piano bench and set forth on taping the cuff with Scotch tape...despite the fact that she had a very close encounter with my well-worn and therefore probably malodourous foot. She even demanded that I bring in the slacks on Tuesday for her to sew up. And who am I to refuse the boss?

It'll be another long day. Basically it'll be a full day with four being a double with Mr. TOEIC. Good guy, though.

CNN and BBC have been showing nothing but the carnage from the Mumbai attacks for the 3rd straight day. I'm not going to go as far as actually throw out the conspiracy theory, but I think it's very interesting that the attacks did the country's financial capital...just as CNN was doing its "India Means Business" series. I mean, there is something purely O. Henry about this, and it's been known that terrorists also have time to watch Wolf, Christiane and the folks. I think the series could be re-named "India's Terrorists Mean Business." No, not particularly funny, but I wasn't trying to be. What has also been ironic is that just a few days ago, me and MB and The Sylph were enjoying an Indian dinner with Bollywood music videos playing happily in the background.

I just found out that The Diver will actually join the party next Saturday. This, considering that she's admitted that she's far from a partygoer, is a heavy smoker and hates party games and is terrified of speaking English. Well, I guess I'll really have to be Dancing Bear.

Tomorrow, once I finish with Tully & The Coffeemaker, I'll be making my big purge to get ready for the trip home by buying up all those Xmas goodies. I'll have to make plans tonight once I get home. No rest for the weary.

I read in the paper that even permanent residents like me and TC will be eligible to get that government handout in this period of world economic crisis. I don't know what the exact amount will be, but I've got a feeling that it'll be just worth a nice dinner...and not even in Ginza. And adages like "The check's in the mail" and "I'll believe it when I see it" are playing around in my mind like schoolboys.

And in the "'Oh, Wow! Big Surprise!' Said Sarcastically" department, that Russian wrestler Wakanoho has retracted all of his accusations about match-fixing in his former world of sumo and tearfully asked for his old job back at a press conference. To be honest, I'm surprised that it just took this long for the mobsters to get to him. He refused to give any details saying that he and his family may be harmed if he squealed. And thus, crisis averted.
Friday November 28, 6:04 p.m.

Today was a fairly good day. The New Yorker was pretty much out of her league, though, in the lesson. Some of the most basic questions were unformable for many years have I taught her now? However, I had much better luck with Swank. I used the entire Listening section of a downloaded Eiken 1 test to help her out. Now, it's just that the Eiken people are very stingy about releasing stuff out on the Net, so I gotta see if I can cobble something together for next week.

I later got a message from Speedy stating that my newest student, Mrs Cute, has now officially signed up and will have her first lesson on the morning of the 12th. It would've been the 5th but I asked for that morning since I needed to get my haircut. I'm not sure if the bossman is even aware of it, but he has a pretty understated but sneaky way of trying to put the guilt trip on me. For Mrs. Cute, he slid in that she would have her first lesson in December but then would have to wait a whole month before her second lesson.. He also did earlier this week when he was asking me about whether I could teach Swank on January 9th, less than a day after I get back from Canada. I declined since from hard experience, I need the extra day to decompress, but so again came out the trip about it being the last lesson before her big Eiken test and that her lessons were only for the test and yadda, yadda, yadda. Guilt trips don't work too well on me any more...they just slide right off. However, I had sent him an e-mail asking about my December pay packet before I got the call. I wonder if that may have sharpened his blade a bit. Bad timing.

Got a call last night from's a bit unusual for her to call on a weeknight since I'm hardly home at a decent hour at that time, but she was lucky...she got me just as I stepped through the door. Dad apparently had to head back to the hospital for some prostate problems; ended up staying a week there, but no problems since OHIP covers everything. Still, it was a bit unnerving to hear her say that despite all of the medical problems Dad has had recently, he was still good to go. I sometimes wonder about the family genes. Were we descended from Titans? In any case, Mom also informed me that he's lost some weight since he was on a strict non-bulk diet so there was one good side effect.

The juku boss gave me my usual pay packet along with an advance packet for December. That will definitely help in terms of Xmas shopping and the like. Not sure if Mild Jr. is gonna show up; the boss lists him as pending. He called in to say that he's got a cold so he's not sure whether he'll show up or not. Not that I have to prepare anything....he usually has his own materials for me to peruse. And then, I've got the usual tandem of The Ace and The Restauranteur.

At this point, there has been just one Japanese casualty from the Mumbai attacks. The odds of him/her being someone I knew were astronomically low, I know, but still, it was a relief to hear that it hadn't been one of mine, although I feel sorry for the man's family. The Yogist was perhaps planning a trip there, and I knew my now-erstwhile student, Jolly, had to make a business trip there.

Prime Minister Aso may become known as the George W. Bush of Japanese rulers in terms of his own Bushisms. Apparently, while much of the population has come down with colds, he's come down with a bad case of foot-in-mouth. But it has nothing to do with his grammar but just the content. Earlier this week, he basically accused the medical profession of being a bunch of quacks which had him quickly backtracking. Then yesterday, he got "caught" lambasting unhealthy slobs and the infirm for inflating medical insurance premiums. Mind you, I put the word caught in quotations since, even though I'm one of the guys he's probably targeted, he does have a point about complaining about why he has to foot the bill to take care of future heart attack cases since they refuse to take care of their bodies. The problem is that, frankly, fried chicken and hamburg steaks taste a whole hell of a lot better than raw veggies. So sorry but that's my opinion.

Tomorrow, I've got my Saturday round of a double with Mr. TOEIC, The Intellectual, The Publicity Assistant and Mr. Pronunciation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday November 27, 5:19 p.m.

It's been a pretty quiet day. My lessons with both Grandma Dynamite and Miss Sedona went well. Since then there's been nothing. Ray and the new staffer have been gabbing it up since Speedy went off to teach The Singer. During all that time, Tokyo got doused in a chilly and chilling rain although it's let up now.

Just have The Carolinan in about 40 minutes followed by Mr. Pronunciation at 8. I've gotten the stuff done for Swank tomorrow...keeping my fingers crossed.

Heard about the attacks in Mumbai. Pretty scary when I consider a number of my students and friends including The Yogist, The Milds and The Satyr have been there. And there has been one Japanese death along with an injured party as well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday November 27, 9:28 a.m.

The one good thing about a cold is its end...rather pithy thing to say so early in the morning, and it does lift from a more important adage, but it is true. After 2 weeks, I've finally come out from the general malaise and symptoms that a cold inflicts, and feel a whole lot more energized, even though I had to get out of the apartment by 6:20 this morning. However, it could also be the meds along with a cup of McCoffee and an especially astringent cup of tea I had with The Smile for her lesson. But I am definitely feeling much better.

A good thing, too, since we have gotten off to a busy start. I had The Smile for her early Thursday morning, plus The Patent Attorney came in and then Grandma Dynamite. Because of the vacated slots by The Nurse and Grandma FON, I've got a few hours to prepare for Swank's lesson tomorrow before Miss Sedona drops by.
Wednesday November 26, 5:37 p.m.

Managed to get the class planned out for Swank's Friday lesson. Speedy's approached me on whether I can come in on Friday Jan. 9 to teach her since that would be her final lesson before the big test and he's unavailable. I told him I wasn't too sure if I would be in good enough shape less than 24 hours after coming back from The Great White North.

Looks like my Thursday is getting less humpy. Not only has The Nurse pulled out but Grandma FON has also cancelled since he has to attend a memorial for her late husband. So, I've got 2.5 hours of downtime between Grandma Dynamite and Miss Sedona. Now, if only The Fashion Designer cancels tonight, it would be perfect. I like her fine as a student but it's also nice to get home at a decent hour since I've gotta teach The Smile tomorrow morning first thing which means a 6 a.m. departure from home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wednesday November 26, 1:18 p.m.

First truly decent day this week, and probably the only one. I took advantage and put the laundry out on the line. My cold has made a resurgence so my nasal passages were plenty swollen...shucked out the money for medicine.

I don't have any lessons until 001 this evening but I ended up getting up at around 7 since my mind perked up at the possibility that I could have had a lesson with Miss Honolulu this morning, and I didn't get any message on it. Sent in the phone call to Speedy Central. Luckily, Speedy called back a few hours later to confirm 001 was the first. However, I've gotten some more changes to the schedule; The Nurse has canned her lesson tomorrow between Grandma FON and Miss Sedona due to a cold while The Manhattanite, another student who hasn't poked her head here in several months, will be showing up next Saturday. Then, I got another call from the juku boss stating that Mild Jr. may also be skipping his lesson this Friday due to his own battle with a cold. Ah, by the way, that model lesson student decided to cancel. The boss tried to re-schedule but it looks like this guy will slip between the cracks.

I came in early since I've gotta get some work done for Swank's double lesson. Looks like my Wednesdays may be like that until I head off for Canada.

Apparently, Koizumi the Psychopath links his murderous rage last week to the putting down of his beloved pet dog decades ago by The Ministry of Labour and Health, and not to the pension screw-ups. At first, I thought this guy wasn't just a cold-blooded killer but also a bit of a jokester, but being a psycho, I gather he could've kept this resentment within over the years like a grain of sand and just built of layers of anger like nacre to create this pearl of madness. How's that for an analogy?

I know that the end of the year is truly near when the media announces the lineup and the hosts for the annual Kohaku Utagassen (The Red and White Song Festival). Once again, it is SMAP leader Nakai-kun and actress Yukie Kazama as the celeb hosts...not a bad setup since they would be walking ads for that movie they're in that's out in theatres right now. Jero, the African-American hip-hop enka singer, is not surprisingly in the lineup; good thing for him since he hasn't been all that much in the spotlight since that big start much earlier in the year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tuesday November 25, 1:15 p.m.

"Blades of Glory" ended up being the best of the 3 DVDs that Movie Buddy, The Sylph and I enjoyed the most. "Ghostbusters" back nearly 25 years ago was supposed to have been THE "Saturday Night Live" and "Second City" comic opus, but I didn't really laugh at it too much. However, this contribution from three of the SNL'ers and Napoleon Dynamite did have a number of laugh-worthy gags and lines. Certainly guffawed at the flaming Olympic mascot and the initial North Korean attempt at the Iron Lotus. Will Farrell, like Jim Carrey, does far better as the comedian than as the straight man ("Bewitched").

Unfortunately, I had to head on out into a steady cold rain over to Shibuya. MB was mulling the prospect of coming out with me for a bit of shopping himself, but the lousy weather outside made up his mind for him. Smart decision, too. It was pretty miserable as I suffered from soaked shoes and feet for 6 hours. Got to Shibuya to make a purchase of a huge envelope for one of my first Xmas present deliveries at Tokyu Hands. I'd also been thinking of getting some sort of packaging to send The Entrepreneur's presents over by mail, but just decided to take the things with me on the plane.

Met The Bohemian in front of Hachiko at 6. Even in the foulest of weather, there was a huge crowd in front of the dog. Luckily, The Bohemian was already there so there was no need to wait. He was back in his "serious" fashion mode: plain jacket, short hair and briefcase. Over the years, he has alternated his look between serious and "hippie". We ended up going to an Okinawan restaurant in a side street famous for its sex shops. Since the weather was so bad, I gathered that the proprietors took in the leather whips and bondage gear. The two of us went for an all-you-can-drink + 5 dishes for 3,300 yen. Not too bad considering that the individual dishes weren't exactly super cheap....especially for an izakaya.

The surprising thing about The Bohemian was that his serious mode wasn't strictly limited to his attire. He actually did lame attempts to pick up women and he kept the raunchy talk and inadvertent insults to a minimum...although near the end, his 10 mugs of beer were starting to talk when he went into a soliloquy about his observations of sex shops in Europe. Perhaps, his current unemployed status may have put him into a more sober state of mind. The Sylph, though still gainfully employed, also stated that the situation with her current company isn't too good, just happens to be an American company with dealings in real estate. As you know, the words "America" and "real estate" are akin to "nitro" and "glycerin" right now.

I had The Beehive for their 3rd last time for the year. It was Mrs. Jade, Mrs. Alp and even Mrs. Tee. Mrs. Tee has been pretty much limited to a cameo for the past several months due to her other committments. The other surprising thing was that Mrs. Travel didn't show up; apparently, she had to take her grandson to the hospital for those innoculations.

The sun is shining out there but the rains may be coming back again tonight. I've got the regular juku crowd today including that model lesson student.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Monday November 24, 1:58 a.m.

A very early entry on Labour Thanksgiving Day...just another excuse for a holiday here, not the Norman Rockwell re-enactments of carving turkeys and watching NFL games that are in the American equivalent. I'm currently typing this in MB's apartment in Jiyugaoka which would explain the lateness of the hour...MB and The Sylph have retired.

Earlier in the day...or I should say, yesterday...a second cable guy came in to finish up the work that the first guy did a couple of weeks ago. That first guy took care of the digitalization of my TV broadcasts as well as add some more stations; the second guy meshed the phone line in. Took him about 40 minutes to get the job done.

Afterwards, I headed on out to Jiyugaoka. We picked up the DVDs for the night, and actually The Sylph became our third...The Satyr wouldn't show so I'll have to think about alternate ways to get his very belated birthday present out to him. We had dinner at an Indian restaurant, the Taj Mahal, near the station. For 1980 yen, I could get the special dinner, which consisted of very generous helpings of kebab, tandoori chicken, naan, veggie curry, saffron butter rice and salad. My hosts warned me that the special dinner could be a bit much for me...but I actually could plow through the meal without feeling too much like an overstuffed beanbag. There was a big-screen TV showing Bollywood song-n'-dance routines...reminded me of my Sunday mornings back in Toronto when I would see CFMT-TV showing the same thing during my pancake breakfasts. Interesting fashion observation: the same tight striped sleeveless shirts which these macho guys would wear unabashedly in India would probably get these same guys escorted to Shinjuku 2-chome....the gay quarter of Tokyo.

It was back to the apartment to view 2 of the 3 DVDs. First up was "Jumper", the other Hayden Christensen movie that everyone will probably know him for. Speedy and his missus had seen it some months ago, and the bossman was quick to give thumbs down, as did many critics. Maybe it was because I saw it for basically free that I didn't find it too bad, then. However, I thought it was really 80% of an OK just ended a bit too anti-climactically. The idea was interesting and that jumping battle between Hayden and Jamie Bell was fun to watch, but all in all, the sequel...if there is one...will probably be a straight-to-DVD one.

Then, it was "Hitman" with Timothy Olyphant (not quite sure how the actor feels having a name that sounds like the one for a Tolkien creature) and Dougray Scott...two guys who are better known for having played arch villains in blockbusters were playing two sorta protagonists. Didn't particularly make much sense but No. 47 sure sounded a heck like Keanu Reaves.

Tomorrow morning will be "Blades of Glory", the "Saturday Night Live" tribute to all that's figure skating.

Well, the cops finally got their man. After last week's murder of a former parliamentary vice minister of the Health and Labour Ministry along with his wife, and an attempted one of the wife of another former vice minister, the Japanese police nabbed the perpetrator almost 24 hours ago in Saitama, where the first murders had taken place. A few days previously, one of the so-called experts predicted that the killer would be some guy who had decided to take on this mission in a twisted display of justice against the injustices of the scandal-ridden ministry, the psychopath has indicated that he had a grievance against the ministry. He's definitely one guy who hasn't shown much remorse...unlike other suspects who have the jacket over their heads, this guy just kept his head up high looking defiantly indignant. And he actually has the name of Koizumi....just like the former star Prime Minister. He apparently was quite the terror in any of the apartments he had lived in...screamed at anyone making noise and threatened to use a cleaver.

Super Drama TV has been showing off the original "Star Trek" with all of those re-done space shots of the Enterprise. Yep, looks real pristine but to take a line from the recent U.S. election campaign, it's like putting lipstick on a pig. Not particularly necessary, but I guess it was a labour of love for one well-financed Trekkie.