Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday December 6, 6:26 p.m.

Managed to run the gauntlet of lessons today. The Manhattanite was unfortunately rather rusty since she was away for 3 months...not sure if she's gonna improve any with that sort of track record. The Publicity Agent and Mr. Pronunciation were fine. And The Bostonian is chatting it up with Ray for the first time. Glad that I finished with The Bostonian...was feeling rather lacking in energy after Mr. Pronunciation.

So, in pretty short order, we'll all be heading over for our year-end party and a good mess of tori nabe...chicken hot pot. Nice for this sort of weather.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Saturday December 6, 12:22 p.m.

First decent day in about a few. I've been getting messages from The Lens, The Egg and Ol' Sam about Xmas get-togethers. Looks like my social calendar is filling up even before I set foot back in The Great White North.

Marcie is in the house, so things should be up and running in little more than half an hour. The Manhattanite should be in for her first lesson in several months.
Friday December 5, 10:11 p.m.

It turned out to be the final lesson for The Ace since next Friday will be his annual bonenkai. I had a feeling that that would be the case. So I said my goodbyes to him. He talked about a couple of tourist attractions in his native Hiroshima. One was the local castle known as Rijo, literally "Carp Castle" since the moat is apparently teeming with them. I think I know why the baseball team there is now named the way it is. The other, of course, is far more famous as the A-Bomb Dome. I found out that pre-August 6, 1945, it used to be the Central Post Office.

The Restauranteur was half-rarin' to go and half fetal position as we took up the challenging topic of learning cooking techniques. I always have to use kid gloves with her since if it's too much over her head, she may just crumple up into herself and just skitter away, never to come back. After losing Miss Disney and Seven the same way, I'm starting to learn.

The rain has stopped. I'm hoping that my way back will be less moist. I guess, in a way, tonight was the last regular night of the year. From tomorrow, I and my world will enter Holiday Mode.
Friday December 5, 7:57 p.m.

Boy, George! What have you got yourself into now? I just read this Breaking News blurb on (y'know...and last week, the Breaking News was all about the Mumbai attacks...I guess CNN is back on the Paris Hilton beat.) that the old lead singer from Culture Club has been convicted of imprisoning a male escort. I would've thought that being forced to pick up litter in orange prison coveralls on the hostile streets of New York City would've been enough to make anyone go straight....oops, sorry about the innuendo there.

I got word from The Lens that he and his wife are coming over to The Big Sushi yet again for a few days. It'll be tight...I can probably only see him for lunch just a day before I head on back to Canada.

Thinking about getting a little something for The Milds as advance thanks for keeping an eye on my apartment while I'm gone. Since The Full-Timer will be off in France all next week, I'll have several hours to get some more shopping done once I'm finished with SIL on Monday.
Friday December 5, 7:29 p.m.

Well, I see I passed the 2,700-entry mark. May hit the big 3,000 by mid-Spring.

The juku boss had been gabbing happily downstairs with a friend of hers on the phone. Ironically, it was about her impending hospitalization and operation. She's probably the only person I know who actually seems to enjoy the seriousness of her situation. In fact, she's just told me that she'll be running out to her brother-in-law's son's house a few minutes away to clear up some things about her coming month. I sent out the e-mail to Cozy about the boss' situation. I'm sure he'll be properly shocked and call her right away.

Since Mild Jr. has cancelled, I've got another 90 minutes of nothing before The Ace and The Restauranteur come. The Restauranteur already knows but The Ace doesn't. I don't think I'll tell him since he's not really a friend or relative of the boss', and hopefully, I won't need to to unless things go south.

The rains seem to have stopped for now. Hopefully, they'll stay that way.

I was listening to an old J-Pop CD of mine from a couple of decades back by Akiko Kobayashi. She had her 15 minutes in the sun back in the mid-80s with her one true hit, "FAll in Love", a ballad that was the theme of a trendy drama. She released several more discs over the years...didn't really hit the charts again but still kept her loyal fans happy with her AOR pop. The one thing I'd always marveled at was how much she sounded like a Japanese Karen observation that was finally echoed just a few months ago when I checked out some of her videos on YouTube and saw the comments. The CD I listened to was the consequence of all that, "City of Angels", which was produced by Richard Carpenter. I even got to ask the lady herself a question about that on her homepage a few years back; she actually answered it and said, yes, Richard was also rather intrigued at the fact that there was a professional singer who sounded like Karen from a country which seemed to have an even bigger love for him and his late sister than their home nation. After listening to the album, my only regret was that Akiko and Richard didn't actually cover an old Carpenters hit. I could only imagine what that would have sounded like. And it's not as if Kobayashi was afraid of intruding on hallowed ground...she did cover Karen's final hit, "Touch Me".

Looks like Warner Bros. can just taste that billion-dollar mark now. I read on Dark Horizons that the studio is re-releasing "The Dark Knight" all over America in late January. It's apparently just a few million shy of that 9-zero line, and of course, it's never bad when Oscar season is just around the corner. I can imagine the late Heath Ledger getting that nomination, but do I think the movie itself should get a nomination? Mmmmm....maybe. But I just can't see it getting the big gold guy. It's still a superhero movie...can't be setting any precedents, can we?
Friday December 5, 5:46 p.m.

We were having a bit of Indian Summer for the past couple of days...that is, until the heavens opened up and the rains came pouring down this afternoon. I don't think I've ever heard thunder in December. The temps are supposed to be plummeting like the economy from tomorrow. Heard that Fukuoka of all places is supposed to get a good dumping of snow.

Had my haircut this morning. I noticed that it's just the two guys taking care of things now. At the front of the salon, there's a small picture with caricatures of the staff. There used to be three of them...the two guys and one woman. Well, the female caricature is now gone. It's rather nice to not have that shagginess.

It was nice to actually enjoy most of a Friday off and have a homecooked meal. I used some of that Phillipine shrimp paste that The Lady had given me on Monday for a stir-fry. Pretty good but used a tad too much maybe.

Got a call from Speedy this afternoon. Looks like my top-loaded Saturday before the bonenkai has been lightened somewhat. Mr. TOEIC who was at the top of the batting order called in to say that he'll have to beg off his double class due to a cold. Knowing society here, he was probably calling in from work. And it's probable that he won't make it to the party as well. At the juku, the boss got a call from Mild Jr. who's also had to beg off due to a cold. Looks like we may have folks dropping like flies over here. I can only hope that we don't end up having a rather cavernous feel at the restaurant tomorrow night. Still, with Mr. TOEIC out, I can at least enjoy another night of good sleep.

It will be the last time for me to see the juku boss this year since she'll be going into hospital as of early Tuesday morning for the next 3 weeks. As usual, she hasn't let a little esophageal cancer bother her; she is still jumping around and having fun. However, since she'll be facing several weeks of very little food after the operation, she's grabbed life by the short and curlies and has been lustfully eating a swath through Tokyo cuisine. Tomorrow, she'll be heading to Kagurazaka to nosh on tan tan men and niku man...not exactly light feeding. Then the next day, she's having a bunch of folks come to her place for some sort of dinner. I also noticed a card advertising those Quarter Pounders on her table. I don't think even Jesus Christ had this many Last Suppers. In any case, I will be sending word to her ol' university buddy, Cozy about her situation. Although she's said that she really doesn't want to have any visitors taking time out of their schedule to go and see her while she's in hospital, I think it would be nice to have Cozy act as my eyes and ears while I'm in Canada.

Well, the Christmas music medley continues on my Discman. Last night, it was the disc with the commemorative "40th Anniversary of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'" by smooth jazz artist David Benoit. No improvements on the original, but still nice to listen to the tribute. Vanessa Williams had a nice little new contribution to the Charlie Brown ethos called "Just Like Me". I'm sure a lot of "Ugly Betty" fans who have heard the album are remarking "Wow, I didn't know she could sing!". I'm sure a lot of them could look at some certain photos from years back and remark "Wow, I didn't know she could do that with a woman!"

I see that Canadian PM Harper has decided to pull off the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass and got the Governor-General to give him permission to suspend Parliament a bit early for the Holidays while he tries to salvage his reputation. I wonder if Prime Minister Aso of Japan is looking at all this and going "Hmmmm...."

With the rain and stuff, I've noticed that there was a long lineup at the taxi stand by Urayasu Station. Then the juku boss told me that the Tozai trains heading eastbound have been stopped. I just hope that things have cleared up by the time I finish in a few hours.

Well, my revised schedule tomorrow will now start with The Manhattanite, followed by The Publicity Agent, Mr. Pronunciation and finally The Bostonian...only one of whom will be coming to the party. Perhaps if more folks start dropping out, Speedy may try to entice a couple of them to change their minds.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday December 4, 5:28 p.m.

Done for the day. Found out why Miss Pronunciation hadn't shown up for the past month. She became one of the many victims of the recession and got laid off. She's been pounding the pavement for a job. At least, she's keeping a happy face on it.

Just before Miss Pronunciation came on in, Mr. Influence came in with his girlfriend...and a ton of groceries for what will probably be the very last Cooking in English class. Influence has been the main guy on this project for over 3 years, but he's finally hit the limit and unless something drastic happens, the plug will be pulled. Speedy was surprised that it even lasted this long.

A bit of suspense as well over here. For the past couple of days, Speedy and the staff have been working on a proposal with some sort of bigwig company for Business English. And apparently, the powers-that-be over there liked the proposal so the bossman will be making a pitch next week. I very much doubt that I'll be doing it since I'm already swamped with my own guys, which may mean a third full-timer to add onto me and the boss. The money will be greatly appreciated.

I'll be outta here in about 20 minutes. Yahoo!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thursday December 4, 2:57 p.m.

Feeling pretty baked, and I still have one more student, Miss Pronunciation. Luckily, I've got an hour before showtime. It was pretty much one after the other from the get-go. Four straight with no breaks. May just want to veg for about 15 minutes before tackling my duties for Miss Pronunciation.
Thursday December 4, 9:22 a.m.

Grandma Dynamite has come in...doesn't look too bad considering her call to beg off from the year-end party on Saturday. As for The Diver, she was getting so jittery about having to speak English, she almost warned me not to make her get involved in any games or introductions. The Big Lug has cancelled due to some death in the family. Too bad, we needed more men to balance things out some more.

It'll be a scrunched-up schedule today. I've got Grandma Dynamite, followed by Grandma FON, The Nurse and Miss Sedona...all within a few hours. There's a small respite before Miss Pronunciation wraps everything up for me. A bit intense but...hopefully...I'll have that Thursday night off.

With Swank having cancelled tomorrow's lesson, I don't feel as much pressure as I had over the past couple of weeks. She's a great, motivated student but I've had to come up with some pretty challenging exercises to keep her engaged. At this point, with Swank and The Big Lug gone from the sked, I won't have to come into the school at all tomorrow. So I'll be able to get that haircut and stay within the neighbourhood.

The Anime King's latest gift has come in so the delivery guy will be bringing it over tomorrow afternoon. I'll just be happy to catch up on some missed sleep.
Thursday December 4, 8:52 p.m.

Back at Speedy's after a 5-hour nap. The Patent Attorney came in so my hosting duties were needed once more. Very cheerful fellow as always but admitted that he has a bit of a hangover from a small splurge of drinking an entire bottle of red wine. Nice liver if you can get it.

Finally got Marcie to share a bit of the Kuglof with me. Pretty good stuff.

Wondering how Grandma Dynamite will be feeling today after calling to say that she's ailing somewhat. Could be a bit of an ordeal teaching her today.
Wednesday December 3, 7:23 p.m.

Well, there have been a few changes since last entry. Grandma Dynamite is still coming for her lessons tomorrow but she's begged off attending the bonenkai on Saturday because of her stomach problems. I'm not quite sure how that works. Plus, Miss Pronunciation is coming for just her second official lesson after more than a month away tomorrow. But the big thing is that Swank has cancelled her Friday lesson due to her workload in the courts. She's a great student but I'm kinda relieved that she's not coming. Her lessons aren't easy to plan. Most likely, I'll get my original student of The Big Lug back since she's not coming

Looks like my Kuglof has been declined. Ray has left for the day, and there's no reaction from the new staffer, Marcie. Ah, perhaps the boss may indulge me.

The Diver should be here in a little more than 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wednesday December 3, 4:28 p.m.

Back from Shinjuku. Ended up having lunch at that Chinese eatery in the basement of the Maynds Building. Never a wasted time there and pretty much guaranteed of a warm belly and a fiery mouth. Krispy Kreme #1 had the usual 25-minute lineup. For some reason, there was a TV crew there...and the 2nd anniversary isn't for another week or so. I'm sure folks in line were a captive audience.

Went into UNIQLO, the inexpensive but trendy clothing store (at least until H&M hit the scene a while back), to buy something for Mom. The Class Act had been telling me about some newfangled line there called HeatTech which is supposed to magically and non-electrically keep all that warmth while sucking up the sweat. Well, ended up buying a turtleneck sweater for Mom for 1,000 yen and even picked up an undershirt for Dad for slightly more. It's a telling sign of the quality of service when the cashier finds a tiny speck of dirt on the undershirt and immediately exchanges it for a "cleaner" package.

Browsed around Tower Records for a short while. The Xmas jazz records are all out there but didn't take the bait. Then, I checked out a food court underneath Odakyu Department Store. I'd passed it all these years but never went inside. Looks like I've been missing out on stuff; there were some nice little Asian eateries in there. I'd been thinking quixotically about getting a box of Krispy Kreme for the staff since they were cooped up in the office while I could go free, but I decided to pick up a Kuglof from the local branch of La Vie Du France. Kuglof? (Geseundheit). It's some sort of German bundt cake with icing. Smaller and far less expensive than a box of KK, but hopefully, the ladies decide to take a bite.
Wednesday December 3, 1:00 p.m.

I think I hit the wall here. Feeling pretty sluggish...had Grandma Enka for one of her monthly stream-of-consciousness conversations; that would usually take me out. Speedy half-jokingly offered The Singer's lesson over to me, but I think both he and I know that I'm not a big fan of suddenly substituting for someone. Plus, I'll be heading out to Shinjuku in about half an hour for some more Xmas shopping; it'll probably be UNIQLO today for Mom's article of clothing and maybe something for The Lens' wife.
Wednesday December 3, 7:39 a.m.

Once again, I've put up my shields against a potential cold. Nothing more depressing than leaving the apartment this morning and seeing that it's still dark outside. I'm gonna have to dump this lifestyle sometime in the next few years. Even more depressing that the Tozai Line had every seat filled despite it being just 6 a.m.

Back at Speedy's awaiting The Smile who should be here in little more than half an hour. Got my McBreakfast in me, along with three cold pills. The Trekkie discovered my chicken scrawls and looked up that Intel site with the cool image of the USS Kelvin from the future "Star Trek" movie. The image would be even cooler if they had a wraparound view of the bridge. The Trekkie gave me one of her cute manga-ized notes thanking me. And this is a future judge we're talking about. I can only imagine what she'll be doodling in her robes while she's hearing cases.

London Calling. I got word from The Dancer that my Xmas card was the first one of the season for her family. She also informed me that the international deadline is this Friday, so I gotta get Paddy's out today. He sent me his address there; he may even drop by Toronto during the Holidays, although I kinda doubt that he'll have the time.

Well, that massive Thai protest sit-in at the airports may finally be clearing up since the courts threw out the unpopular Prime Minister. Meanwhile, airports in Canada may be getting a bit jittery since there is also an attempt to get rid of PM Harper.

Ray just came in sniffling away. Yup, cold season has arrived.
Tuesday December 2, 9:26 p.m.

Feeling a bit out of sorts...somewhat like going through decompression, although I've never dove a single metre under water. I had the first kinda so-so class with Suzanne since she first started with me months ago. She had forgotten all of her stuff and we kinda just drifted through a whole bunch of topics. My second and third lessons with The Artist (she was making up the extra half-hour for her absence last week) went pretty well. She's really doggone eager to get to India, but I'm happy that she's patient enough to realize that she won't be going there for a few years; not particularly secure region since the events of last week. I introduced her to The Milds who had been there earlier this year so they had a nice talk for about a few minutes. As for The Milds, it was like teaching the walking wounded; Mrs. Mild had her mask on since she was still suffering from a cold, and Mr. Mild was looking rather discomfited due to a nagging slipped disc in his back. Still, I am grateful that they kindly consented to checking my mailbox during my time away. I think The Milds were also a bit out of it tonight since the juku boss told them about her hospitalization for her cancer next week. She didn't mind having the truth be known since there was really no way she could've kept it secret for long, and she's so optimistic. In any case, I'll be on my own for the remaining week before I head home. I'm kinda thinking of bringing in the Xmas spirit for next week...just so that I can end the year with a bit of oomph.

I had a call from KDD, the telecommunications company today. I'd initially thought that they were calling me about a missed bill payment. However, it actually turned out that they needed to do a bit of checking about my phone line since they apparently have gotten into the process of my application for Ichikawa cable via the cable company and the domestic phone company of NTT. My phone line was still registered under the name of the Persian, the former resident of my apartment years ago, and so they wanted to check some facts out from me. I think everything should be OK.

I was able to get a couple of novels by the suspense writer, Kyotaro Nishimura, for Dad as requested at the local department store, along with a calendar for The Lens, so I may not need to go out during this slightly increased hole in my schedule tomorrow. 001 has cancelled her lesson, so I've basically got Grandma Enka finishing at 12:30 and then I'll be waiting almost 8 hours before The Diver comes in. Well, I figure that I'll have a lot of time to plan for Swank's next mega lesson.

Looks like the big Speedy bonenkai is all filled up. And there may be a good chance that there may be some more guests piling in on Saturday night. Speedy thinks the students will be separated according to teacher, so Miss Sedona, The Diver, The Big Lug, etc, will be at my table cooking tori nabe.

But, time for me to cut out now so that I can get up with the rest of the crows tomorrow morning. Speaking of which, there was a whole gang of them ripping apart the garbage bags outside my building. The road looked like the aftermath of Times Square at 2 a.m. New Year's Day.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Tuesday December 2, 4:50 p.m.

Well, the juku boss is sewing up the cuffs on my slacks. And she's told me when she's heading into week. So, Friday may be the last time I see her until January. She says that the actual operation will take place a week after her entry and, if all goes well, she should be out to celebrate New Year's. She also said that she's finally getting that new computer to replace the dying one here at the juku. I've been recruited to handle the transfer of all important data to the new home.

During my surfing on the Net back at the cafe, I came across the Wikipedia entry for Japanese horror movies. People back home might assume that all J-Horror comes in the form of atmospheric supernatural phenomena such as haunted videotapes or kids with heavy mascara. Well, the "Ring" series and "Ju-on" represent one subgenre but Japanese filmmakers can also 'fess up to making some of the goriest stuff ever to grace the gory that it makes "Hostel" look like an old Disney movie. Some of that stuff has actually seen some light of day back in America with "Ichi the Killer". Back in my JET days when I was going through the video tapes in the local rental shop, there was one pretty gross movie called "Guzoo" in which an alien parasite managed to literally tear up high school girls from the inside and digest them. Didn't bother renting it but there was a very glossy picture book showing allthe guck. Of course, there's the notorious "Guinea Pig" series in which various people were drugged and vivisected in horrific ways. Apparently, even in the early 80s, the effects values were so good that actor Charlie Sheen, who had seen it (?!), was convinced that he was seeing a bona fide snuff film and called up the FBI. The producers actually had to show stills of the crew making it to prove to everyone that it was just a movie....I'm sure they were throwing high-fives to each other at the quality of their work.

Then, today I came across this little "gem" called "Naked Blood" which had its own entry on Wikipedia. I'd heard and read about this late 80s horror flick in which three women who take an experimental drug which negates all pain end up doing absolutely horrifying things to themselves. I actually did come across some images from the movie via Yahoo. Yup, there's the food-loving woman eating herself...yup, there's the body-piercing fetishist really pushing the envelope on her hobby. Nothing like seeing a woman tearing out and eating her own eyeball to get the point across that J-Horror isn't all ancient spirits and dark forests.
Tuesday December 2, 1:35 p.m.

A bit of a heart-to-heart during the 2nd last Beehive session of the year this morning. The Bees' former classmate and good friend, Mrs. Tulip, who's now living in Toronto with her family, has been going through a bit of a rough patch since her elder daughter has been in the hospital for 6 weeks with a serious ailment. The Bees decided to try and get some sort of care package out to their old classmate since she's been with her daughter almost constantly. And the mule will be me. There was a bit of tearworks from Mrs. Alp and Mrs. Tee over Tulip's plight. I'll see if I can bring over some snacks back home; and it's pretty much assured that I'll be visiting Tulip a couple of days after I touch back down.

Got home last night to see that my laundry on the line did get that unscheduled extra rinse. Wasn't too pleased with the weather folks bungling up the forecast again. However, everything is inside and slowly drying out. Since I got home late as usual, I was able to see the live announcement of President-elect Obama's national security team of Clinton, Jones, Gates, etc. Usually I wouldn't even bother staying up for that, and most other people wouldn't either, but that Obama magic got me to listen in. The man definitely has presence.

I've got my three hours over at the juku. I'm bringing over my de-cuffed slacks for sewing as requested by the boss herself. I wonder if she could even give them a good iron. I have to go hat in hand to The Milds to see if they can check in on the apartment a couple of times over the Holidays, since the boss herself will be cooped up in hospital herself.
Monday December 1, 10:25 p.m.

Caved in and got the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese set (i.e. a Half-Pounder...or the Artery-Buster) from The Golden Arches for dinner. There were a few other folks in front of me who also got McD's newest golden boy. Brought it back to the school and munched away at it. AK, taking a look at my behemoth dinner, noted that it didn't look as big as she had thought, and I have to admit that it had that rather squished look to it. Still, there were probably a good thousand calories smashed between those two buns. But the patties actually did taste like real beef for once.

Just had Medicine Man for the lone Speedy lesson tonight. I have to be grateful to him. Speedy told me that my next pay packet before I head on home would depend on any renewals. And Medicine Man has decided to renew for the whole package. Will need to get him a really good souvenir.

On a slightly down note, The Smile called in to say that she wouldn't be able to come in for the Thursday morning lesson but would like to come in for early morning on Wednesday...which means that I'll have to be heading out the door at the eye-blearing hour of 6:30 a.m. twice in a row. Dang! Mind you, she's a good eager student and, to be perfectly blunt, not a bad one to look at.

On an even worse note, it's raining outside....that wasn't in the forecast...which means I've got some wet laundry on the line.
Monday December 1, 6:12 p.m.

In a lull since The Full-Timer isn't here. However, I do remember that I'd caught several minutes of a movie before I took off yesterday to see The Coffeemaker. It was "Without a Clue", the 1988 Sherlock Holmes parody with Michael Caine and (always call me Sir) Ben Kingsley as Holmes and Watson. I'd never even heard of this little gem before yesterday and although the story itself of Watson being the true brains of the duo had been done before in "Remington Steele", I was just chuckling out loud at some of the comedy being put sounded like the precursor to what I would usually get in a "Fraiser" episode. I wouldn't be surprised if Kelsey Grammer had referred to this as inspiration. It certainly came off better than that other Holmes parody with Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman several years earlier.

It was interesting to see Kingsley playing the exasperated Dr. Watson to the oafish Holmes. This was several years after "Gandhi" and many more years before his current, seeming go-to roles of mad scientists and crime bosses. He wasn't playing noble nor nasty...just a well-meaning amateur sleuth with his issues. As for Michael Caine, it's also interesting to see him in the role of the booby here, while in the same year, he played the brains of the operation in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" to the booby con artist played by Steve Martin. Although his Harry Palmer/Alfie days were long behind him, Caine was still looking rather unlined and young-laddieish compared to the rumpled elder statesman he is now 20 years later. It's a pity that I wasn't able to see the whole movie from beginning to end. But now I'm in the mind to see if I can pick up a copy of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" from the store. Kinda too bad that Steve Martin hasn't exactly impressed anyone recently.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monday December 1, 4:52 p.m.

Yes, the final month of the year has arrived...which means Xmas music. I've already listened to a couple of albums: one a compilation of jazz stuff (Duke Ellington's treatment of "Jingle Bells" is a must for anyone wanting to know the basics of jazz) and The Manhattan Transfer's Xmas CD from 1992. On the first track is "Snowfall" which sounds suspiciously as if the lyrics were written by a haiku master.

I only had The Coffeemaker yesterday for the lesson; Tully was out with a cold. The coffee shop Tully's where I teach the two has already gotten into the Yuletide spirit by offering coffees that walk like desserts...tons of whipped cream and cinnamon on those babies. For the diabetic in all of us. I also told The Coffeemaker about my prospective plan for taking the two out for the annual brunch. I'm thinking about Beacon, that rather classy place next to the UN University in Omotesando that Speedy had brought the staff for lunch a couple of months ago. It used to be Lunchan, the only place in Tokyo that had advertised Meat Loaf. Anyways, their responses are pending.

I got started on the Xmas shopping in earnest after the lesson. Headed out to Shinjuku to Times Square where I maxed out on the calendars for a lot of the folks back home, and a DVD of "Innocence", the sequel to the anime classic, "Ghost in the Shell" for my brother. Got a bit selfish as well and bought two more volumes of "Hikaru no Go" at Kinokuniya. Despite the parting of the cash, I still have a bit more to go before I can say that I've gotten everyone everything. May get a chance to do it on Wednesday since I've got a bit of a patch of time between Grandma Enka and 001.

I even exchanged my yen for Canadian bucks so that I could take advantage of the favourable rates. I figure that I got a few hundred more dollars than I had the last time I was back in Toronto. Shibuya was the branch to go.

Had The Class Act. The Matron was suffering a bit from a root canal due to anaesthetic that just couldn't take. Major Ouch there. I received a bottle of special sauce from The Lady which apparently does wonders for stir-fry. Always appreciate handouts. We also got into a bit of conspiracy theorizing about that psychopath Takeshi Koizumi, who had offed a former Vice Minister and his wife a couple of weeks ago. They feel that Koizumi is just a patsy covering for the real killer...who may or may not be the Mob or an ultra-rightwing group or even some sort of secret Star Chamber in the government. Wouldn't really surprise me.

Went to Wendy's afterwards for lunch and found out that the fast-food chain is fighting fire with fire when it comes to its burgers. McDonalds launched the Quarter Pounder...yes, that Quarter Pounder which has been in North America for years and Japan for the very first time last month. There has even been a restaurant which was set up in the main intersection of Harajuku/Omotesando without any sign that it was a Golden Arches franchise introducing the big burger as the unofficial launching pad. But now, the QP is now all across all of the branches and there were quite a few folks buying the more expensive meal on Saturday when I went to pick up a couple of Big Mac sets for Speedy and me. In any case, Wendy's has launched the even bigger Over One Pound burger...seriously. It looks like a Quarter Pounder on steroids...whether or not it'll entice customers or disgust them is another matter.

The Full-Timer has canned her lessons for the next couple of weeks since she'll be heading for Paris for an end-of-year trip. For her, anytime she can get away from her company is gratefully accepted. So, I've just got Medicine Man much later tonight.