Friday, January 09, 2009

Saturday January 10, 4:51 p.m.

Finished up with The Intellectual and The PA. The Intellectual was as talkative as he usually is. The PA seemed a bit sleepy-headed although she did appreciate my omiyage of a Canadian calendar. My photos from Toronto helped drive the lesson throughout the day.

Over the last couple of days, I have been in surprise communication with an old high school buddy whom I hadn't heard from in about 25 years. He somehow managed to track me down on Facebook. He had some maturity issues back then but it looks like he's fully grown now with his own business to boot. He even got me onto another old classmate who's on the forum so I've sent him a message.

I had our staffer look through that letter from KDDI; apparently, they said that they would cut my service with the Internet provider that I never used so that I don't end up paying money endlessly. Serves me fine. I'll send a letter in response just so that they know what's happened in good faith.

The Corner has sent me the final 7 pages to be translated for that Hokkaido website. Nice to be able to make a bit of money on the side.

Speedy informed me that The Trekkie has left the coop since she was only meant to work until the end of the year. Pity about that...she was quite a character. I was going to ask her about what she thought of the passing of Majel Barrett.
Saturday January 10, 1:42 p.m.

I'm halfway through the lessons. Finished up my double with Mr. TOEIC and then the single with Mr. Pronunciation. Was regaling both about my culinary exploration of Toronto's restaurants, especially for the latter guy since he'll be studying there for the latter 6 months of the year. I showed him the pics from the Sunset Grill, the breakfast place that Automan had taken me, The Wild Thing and their significant others a couple of weeks ago. Man, I'm gonna spoil Mr. Pronunciation before he takes off.

Just very briefly spoke with the bossman since I'm in classes and he's in interviews for that new teacher. I figure that he'll want to talk with me after my lesson with The PA is over about what's been happening over the past few weeks.
Saturday January 10, 9:51 a.m.

Have a brief respite due to a late Mr. TOEIC. Back at Speedy's right now. Looks like it's gonna be a busy one but not just for me. Speedy is apparently going to be interviewing three folks to potentially take over for one of our part-timers who will be leaving us. I was gonna suggest that we could use another full-timer to give me a bit more breathing room.

Mr. Mild came by with all of my accumulated mail during my absence including a number of New Year's cards. I also got a letter from KDDI concerned about my decision to cut off my NTT line; apparently, they didn't get the memo about my switching over to Ichikawa Cable. I rather expected that this would happen.
Friday January 9, 8:10 p.m.

Just found out that there may be a good chance of sleet or full-blown snow heading into the Kanto tomorrow. Ohhh...just great...right in time for my first full day of work at Speedy's. And over here, if a single snowflake were to get onto a JR track, there would be mayhem. I'm gonna have to keep a good eye on the weather and traffic reports tonight.

The juku boss came in right now to give me a piece of cake, stating that she can only eat a quarter of what she could eat up to early December. I kinda wonder if she underwent gastric stapling

Did forget to mention that I'd also seen "Tropic Thunder" on the plane coming back. Yep, fairly funny and very profane. There was absolutely no way that even Air Canada censors could cut out the swearing. Otherwise, the movie would've been just 5 minutes long (reminds me of that sight gag on the "South Park" movie from a decade ago about a non-profanity version of the kids' favourite movie). So, the censors gave up and kept a lot of the potty-mouthed results in. Yep, Tom Cruise still has the moves after 25 years. I think those closing credits have garnered him more respect than anything in "Valkyrie".
Friday January 9, 2009, 7:44 p.m.

Back at the juku for the first time this year. I initially had come by around 5:30 but the house was locked and I had forgotten to put back my house key into my wallet. However, it was good that I already had a Plan B in mind. I ended up having dinner at The Restauranteur's place just down the street. Friday nights are usually pretty quiet there. I was the only one there for several minutes before some factory workers came on in. The Restauranteur became the first of my omiyage donees as I gave her my Ontario calendar. She inquired about the boss' health so obviously she hadn't seen her in almost a month. After my hearty dinner of wafu hamburger there, I spent the next hour just glancing through an issue of TokyoWalker, the weekly magazine on what to do in The Big Sushi.Most of that time was actually just spent walking through the crowded, musty corridors of my mind since I really can't read kanji all that fluently. However, The Restauranteur glanced at my supposed reading and was impressed by my Japanese ability.

I took another look at the juku after dinner, and relievedly, found the place back open. The juku boss was thinner but not alarmingly so. She was quite happy to reiterate how the surgery went. I was just happy to see that she was recovering nicely although apparently a few of her wardmates didn't survive. Just as I passed through the genkan, Mr. Mild called to say that he would be dropping by the juku at about 10, at the end of my lesson with The Restauranteur with my mail. Looks like I'll be able to give away all of today's omiyage, thereby lightening my load considerably.

Speedy left a message on the machine for the first time this year. Yep, it'll be a busy one tomorrow starting with that double with Mr. TOEIC. And The New Yorker sent word abouther next lesson.

With all of the changes going on in pop culture, the next big one I've heard is the announcement of the next Doctor Who...a much-anticipated event in Britain along the lines of a selection of a new Pope. Apparently, it isn't The Next Doctor, David Morrissey, but that was pretty obvious. Instead, the producers are going even younger than baby-faced David Tennant and going with a junior Thin White Duke type named Matt Smith. Geez, he does seem to be David Bowie's love child...he's even younger than when Peter Davison took the role. Of course, there has been some griping that the new kid simply cannot have the gravitas to play a 900-ear-old Time Lord. But then again, I'm reminded of all the furor against the new James Bond and where did those naysayers go? So, I'm not too worried and it'll probably be another year before we actually get to see the Eleventh Doctor.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Friday January 9, 3:29 p.m.

Well, I'm back after 3 weeks of Christmas vacation in Toronto! A very belated Happy New Year to you all. I was watching the first season of the original TV series of "Get Smart" with Don Adams and came across the episode in which Agent 86 remarked with some surprise and resentment that certain others were getting 3 weeks of holidays. I hope that is not the reaction I'm getting from some students...well, not that it would matter anyways...I'll get my 3 weeks every time.

Got back home last night after several hours of flight time elongated by a stopover in Vancouver and a delayed takeoff from Pearson due to the snow. I'm back here in relatively warmer weather of 5 degrees C and rain. It felt a bit weird to be back in Japan even though I've been living here for over 14 years...almost as if I didn't really fit. I guess my latest trip back to the hometown had some poignancy since my father has definitely become one of the elderly and my friends have become harder to meet up with due to the increasing demands of family life. Still, it was good seeing everyone.

The flight itself was filled with movies to watch and a book to read. I managed to see "WALL*E", "Hellboy 2" and "X-Files: I Want To Believe". "WALL*E" was worth catching twice...I realized I caught it on this small screen but it was that good....had to be for me to choose it 2 times on an airplane. Definitely will get the DVD. "Hellboy 2" was good enough to catch once although the final battle was somewhat anti-climactic...but I've got a feeling that "Hellboy 3" will be in the pipe. As for the latest X-Files, that only deserved to be shown as an extra-special TV episode, not as a motion picture. The gruesome plot was interesting but not enough to launch it anywhere as a hit movie. And it should prove as a cautionary tale to those directors on the risks of having romantic tension collapse.

The Holidays are ironically also a time in which celebs seem to die off. Just in the past 3 weeks, we've lost Van Johnson, Eartha Kitt and Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the matriarch of "Star Trek". And here in Japan, I saw the late Ai Iijima's face on a number of ads for tabloids wondering aloud about the circumstances behind her death.

I've been watching as a bit of weaning from life in North America the 1st season of "Get Smart". I had vaguely remembered the pilot episode as being the only one to be shot in black & white in the entire series. I had forgotten that The Cone of Silence was actually introduced in the pilot. Never forgot that Barbara Feldon was such a babe. And she's now even older than my Dad! I've got quite a few DVDs to get through...sets of "Family Guy", "Futurama" and the 1st season of "Mission: Impossible". Plus, I also have the classic "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" with Steve Martin and Michael Caine.

My omiyage season starts today. I've got calendars to give out to the juku boss, The Milds, The Ace and The Restauranteur. The Ace gets the added bonus of getting some Second Cup and Tim Hortons coffee since he's such a connoisseur of the stuff. Plus, The Milds get some T-shirts from me. Unfortunately, my stupidity resulted in my bottle of Crown Royal for Mr. Mild getting confiscated during the Customs search back at Pearson...I somehow hadn't realized that the restriction on liquids also extended to alcohol. Well, I'll fix that. The juku boss sounded a bit hoarse on the phone but otherwise, she was still pretty genki despite that rather major piece of surgery last month. I hope she looks as fine as she almost sounded although she had warned me that she might look a bit gaunt for the next little while.

I got a pretty full slate at Speedy's tomorrow although The Bostonian has cancelled her lesson. I've got Mr. TOEIC, Mr. Pronounciation, The Intellectual and The PA before we go into the long weekend of Adulthood Day on Monday. I fully expect to hear of delinquent teens making trouble though I will probably be curtailing viewing of Japanese TV for the next several days due to my DVD purchases.

I've been reading the biography of the late, great Torontonian interviewer Brian Linehan since I got on the plane. Probably not many regular folks would either know or remember him; it was more the media and entertainment cognoscenti who would, though. This was the monkey-faced fellow who had the mind of a steel trap filled to overflowing with all sorts of minutiae on his interviewees...a fact that got him parodied by Martin Short on SCTV in the character of Brock Linehan. Brian Linehan garnered a lot of respect and love from a good bunch of Hollywood types because of his interview style and a good deal of resentment and jealousy from his fellow journalists. He could either be seen as one of the most unique and best interviewers that the media had ever seen or will ever see or as a sycophantic suck-up with a vindictive nature against those who crossed him. I think the book shows him off as both by his best friend, George Anthony.

Not sure what this year will bring. This will be the year of uncertainty for everyone here in Japan. But I know that I will be changing a number of things about myself. My least the interior will be one of the first things.