Friday, March 06, 2009

Saturday March 7, 10:51 a.m.

Back at Speedy's for another Saturday round. I've got The Businesswoman, The Intellectual, The Publicity Assistant and The's Archetype Day!

The weather is sunny and will get quite balmy at 14 C. So, thankfully, no wet clothes and umbrellas, but the pollen will no doubt be floating all over the Kanto so I've taken my meds and my mask.

"Watchmen" has gotten mixed reviews so far, but I'm not too surprised by that. The original graphic novel got its legendary status because it delved so deep into the superhero mythos. A number of critics have panned it for being too reverent toward the source material, but Alan Moore never particularly made it for the casual reader, and certainly wasn't thinking about a movie least, not publicly. "Watchmen" is for the heavy-duty comics diehard, period. So what if it comes off like a Chris Columbus treatment of the first two "Harry Potter" movies? Never read those books, but still enjoyed the first one, to be sure. And I'm pretty sure I'll be OK with "Watchmen". Alan Moore may not be, but I will.
Friday March 6, 7:56 p.m.

Very Vancouver out there today. Just nothing but rain almost all day. Only finished up a bit by 6 tonight. Luckily, I had most of the day off although I had to make one round to the supermarket for dinner. Got slightly doused.. Last night, The Music Man's inaugural lesson went off without a hitch, except for the fact that he had shown up a half-hour earlier than expected. No big problem. He's got the latent ability...just lacks confidence and practice. That's true for a lot of students.

The annual White Day purchases have begun. I bought my first present of choco on the way here to the juku tonight. It's for The Publicity Assistant who was kind enough to give me a little something last month. Purely giri, I assure you. In the next few days, I'll be picking up boxes and packets of chocolates as we approach March 14. LIke last month, the chocolatiers will be pummeled once again by purchasers but it won't be women but probably a lot of men. Then again the rates won't be as high for us since men aren't really into the chocolate-buying...must be in the genes. Nope, expect a lot of dinner reservations next week. I've been given a bit of a reprieve in that some of the folks who had given me stuff last month won't be around at all next week due to other matters. I may visit The 100% Chocolate Cafe, that theme place in Kyobashi on Sunday before I meet up with MB and The Satyr; they may have some pretty gimmicky things there.

I took the extra time off today to do a dry run on my income tax return this morning. Not too difficult but not surprisingly, I'll have to pay quite a bit more than last year since I made a bit more, thanks to Speedy and the translation gigs. Still, I gotta contribute to the city somehow.

I got off at Urayasu Station to hear some high-pitched squealing by the gates. There was a whole bunch of agejo, those Shibuya-inspired women dressed up in blonde bouffant hair and eyeliner. Not sure if they were getting ready for a rumble or a group hug. However, I didn't stay there long enough to find out.

Heard that Sanjay Gupta isn't going to be the most high-profile Surgeon-General in US history after all. Citing family reasons, the smilingest of all of the CNN crew said that he would rather remain close to his family. Speaking of Darth Vader's favourite channel, the two Canadian anchors who take care of the international broadcast during the wee hours here were virtually cackling to themselves (and opening themselves up to a ton of hate mail) about Wacko Jacko's annoucement about his curtain call to do some concerts for a worthy charity....himself. I'd say that The Political Mann should be prepared to be suddenly smacked by bejeweled gloves.

"Watchmen" is only hours away from its debut Stateside. It's getting here at the end of this month....which is surprising since it's a far-from-known commodity here in Japan, and even "The Dark Knight" took longer to get here last year. And yet, Tower Records had a sizable display devoted to the movie which not only included the graphic novel, but also two books on the movie itself. Kinda wonder how it will do here; maybe it's something for me to ask The Publicity Assistant tomorrow....after I give her the chcolates, of course.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Thursday March 5, 10:24 a.m.

Grandma Dynamite was back with a renewed sense of purpose in terms of her English which helped my work considerably. Since she'll be off to Honolulu in a few months to see her son married on the sands of Waikiki Beach (the trendy way to get hitched these days for young Japanese), she wanted to brush up her Travel English. Good to have her back the way she was instead of the sluggish old lady that finished up the year last year. If Grandma FON is the same way, this could be the start of a good day.
Thursday March 5, 9:16 a.m.

Well, the Patent Attorney never showed up. Just checked my messages and found out that the bossman had left one stating that he had canned which would also explain his absence so far. And I'm still waiting for Grandma Dynamite to show up, and she usually does comes over 5-10 minutes early. I'm starting to wonder if this is gonna be one of those days.

Ahh...the doorbell just rang. She's here...
Thursday March 5, 8:03 a.m.

A long day today. I've got the Grandmas plus Miss Sedona in the morning, and then I gotta wait several hours before The Music Man's inaugural lesson in the final slot of the evening. Means I'll probably head on down to Shibuya to check out the CDs...still looking for that Art of Noise disc. I don't get out to Teen Mecca all that much these days since lessons with The Class Act are now few and far between, and I think Tower Records down there is still the final word on CD shopping.

The political intrigue keeps on rolling in Nagatacho. The secretary of the leader of the Main Opposition Party was caught with his hands in the cookie jar, so to speak. Probably the vast majority of the pols and their assistants do that on a daily basis, but Mr. Ozawa's aide was the unlucky one to get caught this time. Anyways, the media is now on that story like an oil stain. The governing LDP cannot be that sad about the diversion from PM Aso's sorry state. However, just to keep that thorn pricking at the government's side, the media focused on an empty seat in the Lower House during a major vote...Junichiro Koizumi's.

The Tulip actually contacted me from Toronto after a long while. She's finally found some breathing room after caring for her family to send me word. I told her about the lunch over at Jade's house a couple of days ago.

The Patent Attorney ought to be coming over pretty soon.
Wednesday March 4, 8:17 p.m.

Well, the night's done at the unbelievably early hour of 8. I just saw off 001 out. She and her ski buddies had a great time up in Rushtu in Hokkaido and I got my usual omiyage in the form of those decadent Marusei Butter Cookies; those things cut out the middleman by having the filling look like the stuff in your veins after you had too much of them. Somehow during the lesson, we managed to talk on the resemblance between Bjork and Yuki of Judy & Mary fame.

So, I'll probably be taking off in about another 10 minutes in the cold, cold rain. I heard that an asteroid came within a relative hair's-breadth of Earth back on that would've been a Manic Monday. However, a scientist laughingly calmed us all down by stating that the chances of the big rock actually hitting us were something on the order of millions to one. Basically I would have a likelier chance of winning the lottery.

That friend of MB finalized the details of our meet-and-greet for next Thursday in the afternoon. I'll be meeting him at JR Shinjuku and we'll just see how compatible we are.
Wednesday March 4, 6:00 p.m.

Pretty wet and dreary out there. Much of the afternoon was spent just browsing the Net. Speedy caught that and gave me some tests to mark which took up an hour of my time. Unbelievably, 001 will be my last student today. And then I'm planning to head on out with all due haste so that I can get some rare Wednesday night sleep.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Wednesday March 4, 1:52 p.m.

Just finished off lunch on this Pimple Day. Speedy has just finished interviewing a potential new staffer since Bay will be busy guiding her new husband around Japan and AK is heading for another trip in New York. Apparently, she's a real genki type almost on the level of the recently-departed Trekkie. However, her English ability is somewhat suspect.

I had my monthly chat with Grandma Enka. I did what she asked me to...catch her if she ever lapses into Japanese...which she did a lot as usual. Believe me, it was a bit like trying to grab the tiger by the tail. Finally near the end, she seemed to be getting a bit flustered at my new "attentiveness" so I laid off and smiled inwardly. She will be the latest to do a trip out of the country; she's heading to the tropical island of Lota at the end of the month.

Now, I've got a few hours before my remaining student, 001, shows up. I got the invoice off to Cozy...I'll be looking forward to that money coming into the account. Meanwhile, The Corner got back to me to say that the new assignment...a pretty hefty one...will be heading my way next week.
Wednesday March 4, 11:12 a.m.

My Hump Day should really be called Pimple Day. Last night, I got a call from Speedy stating that The Diver has canned due to a cold. So, I've only got Grandma Enka and 001 for the whole of today. Well, at least, I can get home quickly so I can get some decent shuteye for another early one tomorrow....Grandmas Dynamite and FON are returning to the permitting.

The snow that came down last night was really more sleet...some new vocab for The Milds there so I ended up getting home rather drenched. My Canadianness was showing since I refuse to open an umbrella for anything less than rain. However, in my case last night, I didn't have much of a choice since I was laden down with The Traveler's oranges, a bag of detergent and bathroom cleaner and groceries.

Ah, I see Grandma Enka is here....
Tuesday March 3, 9:47 p.m.

The Past Perfect...the bane of every English learner. It had been coming along swimmingly for The Milds until we hit the acid test of the lesson tonight: a comparative exercise between Simple Past and Past Perfect. Well, things were far from perfect....especially for Mrs. Mild. I had to give some special homework in terms of comparative temporal relationships.

Beforehand, I'd had The Traveler. She's recovered from her illness and she even gave both the juku boss and myself some special oranges which ought to keep the scurvy away for a while. Her bane is still with the numbers.

It's snowing lightly right now. Not sure what it'll look like tomorrow morning since there's still a snowman on the weather map for the next day. But for right now, there doesn't seem to be any chance for accumulation. The boss gleefully remarked that it looks awfully romantic out there...but she doesn't have to commute home like I do.

Well, I was able to tally up the fees for Cozy's translations. I'll be sending him the invoice tomorrow morning. It should be an atypically light Hump Day since I only have three lessons. Grandma Enka (whom I'm still a bit annoyed at right now), followed by 001 and The Diver. 001 ought to have some good stories from her Hokkaido skiing trip last week.
Tuesday March 3, 5:11 p.m.

It's confirmed...yesterday's sun was just a cameo. We're back to back gloomy and rainy....and did I see a snowman on that weather map for tonight?

Got the call last night from Mrs. Travel of the Beehive that the venue was changed from the usual Tsudanuma joint to Mrs. Jade's home in Funabashi. So, I just met the ladies down at JR Funabashi and made the 15-minute walk down the main road. It was the first time in over 10 years' of teaching the Beehive that I'd ever visited Jade's house. Her family's place is quite old but very comfy...the main living room had shoji (paper sliding doors) and ranma (elaborately carved wooden structures over the connection with the manga).

As usual, the ladies brought out some of their cooking. Mrs. Travel brought three lacquered boxes of chirashizushi while Mrs. Tee contributed deep-fried aji (horse mackerel) doused in a sweet-sour sauce, and Mrs. Alp brought some oysters stewed in a combination of sake, shoyu and grated ginger. I usually cannot eat any form of oysters other than kaki furai but these ones by Alp certainly did well by me. I put my digital camera to good use in taking some photos of the traditional spread.

Mrs. Perth had come back to Tokyo from up in Hokkaido where she now lives. She showed us her pics of that snow sculpture that she and 150 others had built for the Snow Festival up in Sapporo. Took them about 2 weeks to build. After lunch, I basically disappeared into the woodwork while the ladies did a combination "The View/Sex In The City", having their little kaffeeklatsch, although the drink of choice was some pretty high-priced wine. Basically, it was the rest of the ladies providing some Girl Power advice to the ever-timid Mrs. Tee about how to handle her husband. I was surprised to find out after my semi-narcoleptic state that 3 hours had passed and it was 3:30. AFter one more trip to the can, I was out of there. The ladies remained to chat some more.

I'd found out the night before that Suzanne had cancelled today's lesson which would explain me writing at this late time. She's apparently got a fever, and today's no day to be outside with the prospect of wet snow on the way. So, it's basically just The Traveler and then The Milds.

I got word from that MB's friend about private lessons. He's truly his own company's president...he pointed out that the first meeting will be a first meeting and not a lesson. I told him I totally agreed with him. We've tentatively set up a meet-and-greet for sometime next Thursday. Hopefully, Speedy won't have any bright ideas to put in any students at that time although I would refuse any requests since I've got the friend down on paper now.

Also I got final word from Cozy that all those translations from the last couple of weeks finally passed muster so I can start calculating the fees. Very good to know.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Monday March 2, 9:35 p.m.

Had a pretty intense one with The Bostonian with her presentation practice but she's still hanging in there. She's booked in an extra lesson for Saturday.

Grandma Enka sent a request via Speedy for me. Apparently, I'm not hard enough on her to stop the Japanese. Nothing gets lower sympathy from me towards students than that sort of request. She has the willpower to come here every Wednesday, she should have the willpower to use more English. I gave Speedy a snarky answer which he didn't appreciate too much. But hey, I'm not taking any blame on that one...that's not MY job! And she's the one who requested me to listen to her babble every 1st Wednesday.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Monday March 2, 4:50 p.m.

Well, March has rolled on in. It would be considered balmy in Toronto, but over here 9 degrees C is shivering weather as far as the average Tokyoite is concerned. However, it is sunny out there, something we haven't seen in some time, and something we probably won't see again for the bulk of this week. The pollen is flying out there, though. My eyes were itching up something awful this morning and the nose wasn't too far away so I dosed myself with the hay fever medicine as usual.

Watched "Young Frankenstein" on DVD on Saturday night. Yup, it was more nostalgic than rip-roarin' funny although there were a few scenes...spearheaded by Marty "Igor" Feldman...that tickled my funny bone. Gotta say that Teri Garr was a dish. And those deleted scenes were interesting to watch although I can understand why they were taken out. Hopefully, I'll have time to catch "Ronin" sometime this week.

Yesterday was the day of Ai Iijima's funeral. The late former J-Porn queen-turned-tarento-turned-author drew over 700 celebs along with 1,500 fans (not sure which phase of her career they represented). Her old show before she retired from show business a couple of years ago, "Uchi kuru?" (Won't You Come Over To My House?), a Sunday afternoon variety show on Fuji-TV had a final retrospective on Ai with some tearful goodbyes from past guests before the show cut away to live coverage of the funeral with her co-host, Hideki Nakayama, providing his very emotional eulogy in front of her giant photo. Although the turnout didn't come anywhere near the 50,000-plus fans who had come out for the funeral of X-Japan's hide years ago, it was remarkable to see so many of Japanese celebdom show up for a woman who had initially been more famous being on the VHS covers in pink-lit backrooms of video shops. The wide shows this morning were covering the event; there was just one panelist, the ever-opinionated Terry Ito, who said that he would have chewed Iijima out for not taking better care of herself and thereby causing all of this grief but everyone else looked properly morose.

Later in the day, I went out and met The Bohemian in front of Shinjuku Bus Terminal, across from the west side of JR Shinjuku. He'd also invited a couple of his friends from his vast collection of Mixi communities. He told me he did so since he thought that I was rather devoid of friends recently and that he would do me a favour by introducing some new blood. One of his buddies was already there...The Bohemian identified him as being a military otaku...something that his buddy tried to deny half-jokingly but rather vociferously; a bit of a character...somewhat frenetic in personality but a nice bloke. The other guy wouldn't show up for about an hour or so. We went to a Chinese eatery nearby...not surpringly, the place offered an all-you-can-drink option for 2,980 yen which sealed the deal for The Bohemian. His other Mixi friend was a more subdued but also amiable type who was into soccer and looked a lot like local cool actor, Hiroshi Abe. The four of us noshed on all sorts of little Chinese goodies and talked up a storm. The Bohemian definitely held court and tried to talk me up to the other two...something that I felt rather uncomfortable about...I felt like a commodity to be sold. The entire grouping was basically a 3-way blind date of sorts since except for our babbly host, none of us had met each other. Our host also showed his casually gleeful racist and sexist side of himself since he was taking full advantage of the all-you-can-drink policy, and he was hitting on the cute waitresses...even giving one of them his phone number. I've gotten used to it (or maybe it's better to say resigned to it) but I'm not quite sure if his Mixi buddies have gelled as well as he thinks; while he was in the can for the 4th or 5th time, the military otaku and the Hiroshi Abe-clone were kinda trading notes where they had met him and referring to his rather large beer belly. I was surprised at the beer belly...The Bohemian had been pretty intense about hitting the gym and entering all those dance classes in the past. But in any case, The Bohemian looked pretty happy when we all said our goodbyes at the station. Not sure if I'll be hooking up with him again anytime this month but it was nice of him to try to get me out socially.

Got home and got the call from MB. It was the first time since I'd declined his offer of employment at his high school that he called me up. Thankfully, the topic didn't come up again. And we instead got into our old stuff of talking movies. In fact, he asked me if I would be interested in catching that U2 3D concert movie on the weekend. I'm not a U2 fan by any means, but I said I'd take a look-see. However, he did mention that a friend of his was interested in private lessons so I gave MB the say-so to give him my address. Sure enough, his friend contacted me a few minutes ago. In these economic times, it doesn't hurt to stock up.

Just had SIL this afternoon and I've only got The Bostonian in a few hours. Probably the quietest Monday I've ever had...not complaining, mind you. I will be looking forward to head home at the early hour of 8:30. That model lesson student became one of the converted. So my Thursday nights are pretty much settled for the next little while. The Music Man will start up this Thursday.