Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday March 19, 10:34 p.m.

Well, the night went off without a hitch. And made what was probably the easiest 7,000 yen in recent memory. Speedy had me and the other teacher, The Avid (she's very keen on the profession), host a dinner party/dress rehearsal/special lesson at a nearby Chinese restaurant for his young charges of insurance company staffers before they on out for the real thing in the States later this year. It wasn't all just talking and eating, though. The Avid and myself had to supervise some exercises in socialization for the students. Still, I've had far more arduous classes to earn my money.

The Music Man was my last guy up. He's doing well and he was a good one to finish the week on.

Will be heading home pretty soon. Tomorrow is the national holiday known as the Vernal Equinox. For most people, it means that we have a long weekend. Ironically, I'll probably be waking up relatively early and heading on out to Odaiba to see if I can get into Tokyo Big Sight for the 7th Tokyo Anime Fair. I'm not huge into the art form anymore but I just wanna see if I can get some pics to show the home crowd and perhaps I may even see some old Reiji Matsumoto paraphernalia or stuff from Tatsunoko Productions. If I can't, I'll just be happy getting some shots of the neighbourhood. I'm pretty sure though that there will be some cosplay folks getting their kicks being exhibitionists, despite the rules against them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thursday March 19, 1:59 p.m.

Just finished with Miss Sedona. As it turned out, she was the first lesson of the day. As I was heading out the door last night after another semi-tortuous (self-inflicted, I assure you) session with The Diver, Speedy was reminded that Grandma Dynamite had to cancel the morning's lesson today, so there was no need for the early wake-up. I headed on home and ended up having a late dinner at McD's in my neck of the, not the wisest gastronomic action at my age but what use is a temptation if you're not going to act on it.

As a result, I could take my time this morning which included dropping off at Takashimaya Department Store in Nihombashi on the way to work to buy the final White Day present of the year for Miss Sedona. It was a bunch of Yoku Moku cigares...always dependable. As for the lass herself, she got the good news that she will get her working-holiday visa for Canada, so a major hurdle has been overcome, so her days with us are now officially numbered.

Now, it'll be a few hours of translation time for me as I tackle the latest website from The Corner.
Wednesday March 18, 9:34 p.m.

Finished for the day. 001 was fun as usual. We actually had a good gab on digital cameras. As for The Diver, we ended up spending nearly half the period trying to translate one story. That's one very focused lady.

Well, hope to be out of here within the next 5 minutes and get an extra amount of sleep before coming back here for Grandma Dynamite.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday March 17, 7:45 p.m.

Finished off two of my students tonight. Suzanne is on the poetry kick. We analyzed Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata"; it was a good workout for both of us. She prefers going through vocab via poems instead of the usual vocab books since she feels that the words come more alive in literature. She has a point there. Then I had The Traveler; the lesson was far simpler but still it was a good workout for her, too. Just have The Milds to go.

I heard from The Entrepreneur that he'd caught "Watchmen" with Chip Guy the other night. Not surprisingly, he didn't mention the wife. He gave it a thumbs-up but not a raving one, though. I'm still not deterred, though. I should enjoy it for what it is. I think the DVD of "Ironman" is coming out here tomorrow. After I saw part of it at The Anime King's house over the Holidays, I really need to pick it up.

Toonces The juku cat was doing his usual hijinks during my lesson. At one point, he was digging through my extra handouts on the covered piano. I was afraid that he was thinking of taking a dump on them. Hard to believe that he was such a tiny fellow 3 years ago. The juku boss was thinking of just giving it to someone else, but he's now part of the family.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tuesday March 17, 1:10 p.m.

Just in time for Spring: Spring weather. It's supposed to be hitting 20 C today. The laundry should be bone dry by now...and covered in pollen. My washing machine, after 14 years of faithful service, is finally showing its age. For the past few months, it's been leaking in a couple of places and now I have to turn off the water supply once the wash and spin cycles begin, lest my 2nd-floor neighbour gets some very local showers.

It was an even smaller turnout at The Beehive session today; just Travel and Tee. Jade was a no-show and Alp is busy taking some relatives out somewhere. Travel was just raving about some rustic izakaya her friend had taken her out to Kanda. It's right up Tee's alley since one of her buildings is located in the area and she has a great love of drink.

I took a look at some more pages on the Tokyo Anime Fair which is supposed to start tomorrow, although the public won't be able to get inside Tokyo Big Sight until Friday. The pictures that Danny Choo took of last year's affair look pretty enticing. I can now understand why the cosplay otaku have never been's sponsored by The Man...i.e. Governor Shintaro Ishihara. It's a legit event. Apparently, the controversial bigot used his creation to tongue-lash the folks there in its very first year for not being Japanese enough, and he majorly dissed Mickey Mouse. I think "His Honour" really isn't into anime but just wanted to get on the "Yokoso Japan" bandwagon.

Finally got the security info I needed from The Corner to get access to those web pages. They don't look too, too difficult. Still haven't heard from MB's friend about the venue for tomorrow's model lesson, although I'm to meet him at the same rendezvous point as last week.
Monday March 16, 9:06 p.m.

Now I know I'm getting old...probably one of the best gauges in this country is that now-12-year-old unit, Morning Musume. They were the subject of a Japan Times interview, and the two longest-serving members in MM history, Ai Takahashi and Risa Niigaki, had been two of the littlest munchkins when they first appeared. Now they're a couple of years into official adulthood. And then there is the so-called Fallen Musume, Ai Kago, who has now probably gotten a lot of middle-aged salarymen swooning (and I'm using the term very loosely), due to her contribution to a pictorial magazine series that features various pinup girls and even actresses in as little clothing as possible.

I kinda wonder how the original leader, Yuko Nakazawa, must be feeling. Mind you, she recently popped up in a TV Tokyo travelogue program...and TV Tokyo usually appeals to the middle-aged folks. Then again, the same channel used to have the Morning Musume Sunday show.
Monday March 16, 7:54 p.m.

A slightly off-synch night so far. My session with The Full-Timer was a bit tense, though it wasn't that The Full-Timer was angry at me or anything. The entire lesson was based on correcting and discussing her resume since she'll be leaving soon. She was slightly twisting herself in knots about the arrangement and any additions or deletions...perfectly understandable. However, near the end...she seemed to dawdle a bit and then asked about how she would say goodbye to everyone at her company. Not sure if she were thinking of including me in that statement. Well, it's been over 3 years now...

And then I got the beginning of that huge translation project from The Corner...only to find out that I can't access any of the pages without prior authorization. Having only 6 days to do 6 pages isn't exactly easy with this sort of delay.

Well, let's see what Medicine Man brings to the equation...

I listened to that Art of Noise album last night in bed. It's their first release, "Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise?" Yup, the first 4 tracks got me fired up but then "Moments in Love" came along and lulled me straight to sleep....lovely thing, ambient is.
Monday March 16, 5:10 p.m.

It was a pretty miserable day yesterday for my hay fever. My nose was filling up like Hoover Dam after a major rainfall and my eyes were tearing up something awful. Still, I braved the outside to head out to Maruzen to find a suitable book for MB's friend on Wednesday. Found one. It's called "Face The Issues" which contains excerpts from NPR. It's an Intermediate level book, and although MB's friend was using an Advanced book from the Headway series, he did say he was having difficult with listening to native speech, and this text has got the raw listening exercises purposely made for English textbooks. I hope it works out for him...just gotta ask him if he would mind burning the CD onto an empty disc. Actually, I lucked out on that part. Usually, the accompanying CDs cost a ridiculous amount of money...more than twice as much as the text. But this one is about the same price. Still, I've yet to hear from him about a venue.

There was a special interview show with the ever-unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso yesterday on NHK with a team of reporters and acerbic commentator Terry Ito. He was the guy who kinda blasted the late Ai Iijima for "causing" so much grief to her still-living friends for dying on them. Still, Ito is the guy to have to really give a "Hardtalk" type of interview to the famous. And he didn't hold back, but Aso seemed to bat the questions back with the skill of a Romulan. I've got a feeling that Ito wasn't too satisfied, though. And I'm not satisfied with the fact that Aso refused to answer the question when he would hold general elections.

I'd tried out those Hokkaido pork-and-potato dumplings that The Restauranteur had been raving about and had given packages to me and the juku boss. Yes, they were quite good...kinda reminded me of Hong Kong soup dumplings or sho ron po. In fact, I kept the broth that came with the package and used it to make my own little soup last night.

It's been another good day weatherwise, although I'm sure the pollen has been flying. I've got the meds inside me and the mask on me. In the morning, I went down to the Azabu-Juban branch of my bank to find out what the kerfuffle was concerning the inability of my cable company to start up the furikomi for my bills. The lady that had been manning the foreign customers' help desk ever since I came to this country was still faithfully there. She checked things out and said that the cable company hasn't registered at all on their computers. Odd...I'll resend my application.

Speaking of cable, it looks like I've found a good nostalgia channel called Channel Ginga. It's been broadcasting a lot of old Japanese, British and American shows. Heck, it's even airing "The Andy Williams Show" late on Sunday nights...last night's episode was all the way from 1962, a good three years before I arrived on this Earth. Betty Grable and Lawrence Welk were the guests. My parents were near-religious viewers of "The Lawrence Welk Show", so I recognized Bobby The Dancer (although his regular partner, Cissy, from the show) wasn't his dance partner on Andy last night. Still, it was a hilarious blast seeing the two hoofers doing the foxtrot, the twist and the watusi when they were the hottest dance craze. It was just hilarious watching an old NBC variety show reflecting a wholly different era. It's not all 50s and 60s stuff; they're showing episodes from "Moonlighting" (which in Japanese is called "The Blue Moon Detectives"). Unfortunately, I'm out of the house during their showtimes. I told SIL today about it, and she was pretty intrigued. Well, if they put on any "Laugh-In", I'm there.

After the visit to the bank, I walked it up from Azabu-Juban up to Roppongi...only 10 minutes. It was too bad that I hadn't brought my camera with me. It was a nice day out there and the prettier side of Roppongi with Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown are very camera-friendly. However, the restaurants in the area aren't price-friendly, so I just had lunch at the underground Wendy's by the station. The classy Aoyama Book Store beside the police station had some sort of outlet store sale on the 2nd floor for the past month (ending tomorrow), so I just took a look-see. It was one of those situations where I was the only one in there with the cashier looking expectantly at me so I felt I was obliged to pick up a book (mind you, the paperbacks all cost 500 yen), so I decided to buy a "Star Trek" novel concerning the brooding Captain Pike...the original one by Jeffrey Hunter.

When I walked around Tokyo Midtown, I'd completely forgotten about the Food Court in the Galleria basement. I went inside and found out that although it was the peak of lunch hour, there were some empty tables. The entrees there were more expensive than the Wendy's meal, but I would still like to give it a try sometime.

SIL was the second-last student for whom I got a belated White Day present (she'd given me something back on Valentine's Day). I bought her some cookies from a confectionary shop called Antenor for 682 yen...tasteful but cheap. I still have to get one more present for Miss Sedona when she comes in on Thursday.

Getting back to Speedy's, I found out from Bay that there were two e-mails sent for me. One was from The Bostonian stating that she got through the presentation although the computer was giving her conniptions. The other was from The Nurse who has yet to show up for a lesson since this year has begun. Apparently, her mother had been seriously ill, but is now on the mend. It'll be good to have her back. Also found out that Mr. Pronounciation is pulling out of his lessons; kinda figured that he was gonna do that since he was cancelling on me all the time. Guess things weren't working out.

Will be heading over to Doutor's in about 10 minutes to teach The Full-Timer. I was shocked to learn the other day while I passed the cafe that it's gonna be splitting the place into smoking and non-smoking sections. I really hope that it just doesn't mean putting up signs like in the Ichigaya branch. Still, there is hope that I won't come back to the school smelling like an ashtray. I wonder what The Full-Timer's future with me will be like. She'll be leaving her company in a couple of weeks; not sure if she's gonna be able to continue at this rate.

The Tokyo Anime Fair will be starting up later this week. I'm thinking about heading down to Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba to shoot some pics, but when I took a look at the website, the powers-that-be said that no cosplay will be allowed. Sure...take all the fun out of it. It only costs 1000 yen to get in but I'm not sure if I'll physically be able to enter with the crowds coming in on a holiday Friday. Still, I'm hoping for some rebellious types who'll put on the Evangelion or Ranma garb.

Monday March 16, 4:36 p.m.

While I was reading Howard Schultz's de facto autobiography on his time with the world's most famous coffee shop, I came across the story of his launch of Japan's first Starbucks over a decade ago. And here it is, just south and east of Ginza's main intersection. He mentioned how much he was wilting under Tokyo's notorious summer heat and humidity when he got it started, and he also talked about the huge lineup. I do remember that; I guess it was the Krispy Kreme Japan of its day. Now, it's just crowded inside during the weekends, but I have been able to get inside a few times to grab a latte and dessert. I'm almost finished with the book.