Friday, April 10, 2009

Saturday April 11, 2:47 p.m.

Some transition taking place here. The Bostonian looked out of sorts today since she's apparently getting married...still not a done deal, according to her...the fiance has gotta meet her mother tonight. Kinda wonder why she's wearing black then. At one point, the stress of work (her firm is an insurance company...not the most stable of places to be at right now) and the stress of engagement threatened to have her eyes brimming, so the counselor's pad, pencil, ears and soothing voice came on out. Kinda gotta her out of her funk with some well-laid oyaji joke mines. So, I probably won't be hearing from her for several weeks until she and future hubby register their marriage on Children's Day during Golden Week.

Then, The Businesswoman came in. She had a good, educational time in The Windy City at the end of March. Got to dig into Deep Dish Pizza and caught a blues show in one of the nightclubs. Her business trip was basically her last act for her company; now, she's gonna pound the pavement for the next little while, so she said that we probably won't see her (if ever) for the next few months. Wasn't too surprised since she was coming up to her final paid lesson. Did get some Chicago chocolates from her as an omiyage (goodbye gift?).

As for The Publicity Assistant, she came in rather groggy due to the demands of her job and sleep. So, it was time for another round with Dancing Bear. We gabbed a lot on movies and TV so didn't make much progress but at least she stayed quite awake. Unfortunately, she's not promoting "Star Trek" here in Japan. She'll be catching "Watchmen" on my suggestion tomorrow, but she still hasn't read the book. I gave her a friendly warning that the movie may fly over her head.

Will be heading home in about 15. Gotta do some laundry before it gets dark.
Saturday April 11, 10:22 a.m.

Back to the coal mines again. At least, it's a nice day out there. And it looks like I can put away the masks and meds for now since it seems as if my hay fever has started to fade...knock on any wood except cedar. I'm sure there are still some johnny-come-latelys who will be going for O-hanami this weekend although the cherry blossoms are well into falling off the branches and littering the streets. However, when it comes to modern-day cherry-blossom viewing, most folks aren't particularly focused on the trees above but on the beer below.

Bay has come in for the first time in several days since she tied the knot. Looks like married life has been suiting her well. However, she hasn't gotten over her hay fever quite yet.

It'll be a typical Saturday lineup: The Bostonian, followed by The Businesswoman and The Publicity Assistant. The Businesswoman is looking at her final lesson before renewal today (I think I may have already pointed this out last night); not sure if she's gonna go for another round.

I got word from that friend of the Bass. Looks like she wants either an evening or Sunday. Well, my Sundays are starting to look I may have to squeeze her in between The Bow and the juku classes on Fridays. Hmmm....not sure.
Friday April 10, 7:24 p.m.

My 2,900th entry! No, not really much to least for another 100 entries...I think that could take anything from 1-3 months. Speaking of milestones, you'll forgive me if I admit that I only found out now that "E.R" had finally wrapped things up after 15 years...well, what's a week late? How's that for being the video isolationist? To be honest, I never got into the series even though the show has also been a hit over here as well for the past several years. I think the last medical drama series that I was into was "St. Elsewhere" close to 25 years earlier.

Did a whole ton of copying for that model lesson on Sunday...and still have to do some more tomorrow. I sent off the tapescript to The Bass earlier. I hope I don't give him a guilt complex.

I know that I've been needing sleep. I've been nodding off on the subway very easily these past two days. I've been going through the latest book from the Speedy library. It's "Labyrinths of Reason" by William Poundstone...not the best thing to read if you want to stay riveted awake, but I tried my best. Would love to see Mr. Spock tackle this one.

I got there a bit early but I went over to The Restauranteur's place for dinner...a monthly habit now. I had my usual Sauteed Chicken course. And as usual, it wasn't all that busy...just a mother-daughter duo for the most of it before 4 kids and 2 mothers poured in. That was my cue to head back to the juku. Looks like The Restauranteur took the boss' urgent advice after all about having her head checked after that spill last week. The bruises are starting to fade away.

Tomorrow, I've just got my three students: The Bostonian, The Businesswoman and The Publicity Assistant. I'm seeing The Businesswoman for the first time since she'd gone on her business trip to Chicago. Would love to hear how she did. And it could be her last time with us...she's on her last lesson before the decision to renew, and I haven't heard anything from the bossman about her re-upping. The last few lessons have been amiable with the listening practice and all, but perhaps she may be feeling that it's time to move on. I wouldn't blame her and wish her well. I think it was also the case with The Yogist several months ago.

Unfortunately for me, being too curious about upcoming movies, I could never resist trying to get the latest info on them. And so I'm still digging for tidbits about "Star Trek"....hmmm...apparently, Vulcan gets smushed by Nero, and if the scenes look as they are, it could be for good so that this new universe's Spock may end up being truly alone. No Pon Farr, no reconciliation with Sarek, no storage of his katra. J.J. Abrams really wants to shake things up.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Friday April 10, 2:58 p.m.

Well, I'm done with the Speedy half of the lessons today. Prissy was fine and Mr. Pronounciation was in good form. It'd been several weeks since our last meeting. He has just left his firm so I think the stress levels have dramatically decreased. He'll be heading for Toronto on a long homestay in a little over a month from now so I'm sure the questions will be dribbling in.

I also got word from that word-of-mouth friend of The Bass. She used only Japanese so I'm not sure if I'll be dealing with a total beginner. Not even sure if I can even fit her into the schedule. Also that model lesson couple for Sunday contacted me to remind me of the lesson. I've got a basic idea of what I'm gonna be doing for them...just gonna have to see how it goes.
Friday April 10, 10:04 a.m.

A bit of a flurry of activity as I speak as The Music Man suddenly had to come in to see if he'd dropped an important memo last night. The timing is good for Speedy, though, since the bossman needed to give him his bill for the next round of lessons.

I've been reading about that Billy Bob Thornton kerfuffle at a Canadian radio station a few days ago. Not surprisingly, the ugly citizens from both Canada and the U.S. have plopped from their morass and started venting at each other. There's even one fellow by the code name of TrueAmerican who's not even bothering to put together any sort of cogent argument (not that the forum on which I saw the venting would particularly demand it) but just throwing his volleys of anti-anyone-not-American anger across the border...which makes me wonder if he's just doing it for the sake of winding people up or he's really a secret Canadian just punk'n his fellow Canucks or perhaps it's really Sacha Baron Cohen. As for BBT himself, he never struck me as being the most stable fellow in Hollywood in the first place, and that is saying a lot; I mean, this is the guy who was carrying vials of his own blood to profess his love for pre-rebirth Angelina Jolie, and has a phobia of antique furniture.

Mark Wahlberg was in town promoting his latest movie, "Max Payne", and gave an interview to "The Japan Times" on condition that his words would only reach the local Japanese/foreign residents. Apparently, Marky Mark must still think the Internet is only available to those folks at DARPA. Also, his agent "advised" the interviewer that Mark will not be addressed as "Marky Mark". I think Mark should just be worried that he will be addressed as Max Payne for the rest of his life.
Friday April 10, 8:27 a.m.

I gotta get out of these late night-early morning up and out of the apartment very reluctantly at the eye-searing hour of 6:30 a.m. Had The Music Man last night...he'll be taking off for Milan next week, so he obviously won't be coming in. However, I may be spelling one of our other teachers' students around that time next week, so I don't think I'll be catching "Utaban" or the Tunnels' old variety show anytime soon.

Got word from The Admin surprisingly stating that she liked my introduction of the word "soothing" and that she would like to use it for her hubby's shop promotion. I didn't have quite the heart to tell her that the word has also been used for Speedy's school. I've always had the niggling suspicion that she didn't have as good a time in the school as some of the other staffers who have passed through our gates. However, she'll never top the manic-depressive BC.

Took a look at some of those Joanna Wang vlogs on YouTube. Yup, as just a regular 20-year-old, she does come off as somewhat self-absorbed and rambling...but hey, she's 20 and she's human. There were a couple of responders to one of those vlogs whose comments were apparently so disdainful that they had been deleted by the site managers. I checked one of those folks' sites out; yep, he/she isn't a particularly popular person...there were a lot of profane comments directed at him/her. I kinda figure the fellow is a cyber-crank...the type of person who ends up sitting next to you on a virtual park bench to harangue you about everything and everyone. As for Joanna, she seems to have been given everything to her on a silver platter according to some of the gushing notices I've discovered elsewhere on the Net (although I'm sure she's paid her dues), but I think she'll hit her rough patches sooner or later. Even the one she's been compared most to, Norah Jones, has been cruelly labeled "Snorah Jones" by her critics.

Well, I've got Miss Prissy in about 90 and then Mr. Pronounciation some 2 hours after I've finished with her. Luckily, I was able to get the needed texts yesterday instead of today, so I really only have to take care of some massive copying for the model lesson on Sunday afternoon. May just enjoy walking in Springtime.
Thursday April 9, 5:41 p.m.

Well, this could be a real kick in the pants for the Japanese entertainment industry. I only just heard (apparently, the news is now 3 days old) that Haruka Minowa of the female comedienne duo, Harisenbon, has gotten tuberculosis...the really contagious kind. Considering how close-knit the geinokai is in terms of appearances on TV and on stage, this could be a pretty tense week for everyone not just in showbiz here but for those who had been watching the duo do their shtick live between December and April. And the duo has done some photo layouts as well with gaijin tarento Marie...I wonder how she's feeling. I didn't see Harisenbon at that TBS All-Star Festival on Saturday night so at least some of those celebs can sigh some relief.
Thursday April 9, 5:30 p.m.

Did some further text buying by rushing out to Maruzen and getting that audioscript for The Bass and a potential text for that model lesson on Sunday. Still, I had enough time to enjoy lunch at Com Pho...always good to go there after the lunch crowd has disappeared.

Met up with The New Yorker in Ichigaya. Her fluency hasn't improved all that much since coming back from New York but her listening has gotten a boost and her confidence has gone up a bit as well. What she has dropped has been some weight. She's looking about as slim as I have ever remembered her. She has decided to make the leap over to The Big Apple later this year but again when I asked her what she would like to do, she demurred.

Earlier in the day, Grandma FON got me hungry for Vietnamese pho through her usual energetic attitude in class. But once again, she's gonna disappear for another 5 weeks due to her various travels. Amongst her targets will be her cottage in Nagano, Kabuki-za in Ginza, and a tour of Croatia. If that latter country sounds familiar in this blog, it is because The Beehive ladies had gone there almost a year ago.

Now that I've gotten that textbook shopping done today instead of tomorrow, I have a whole ton of hours between Mr. Pronounciation and the juku classes. I figure some of that time will be spent making copies of various texts for the model lesson on Sunday and whipping some further material for The Restauranteur.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thursday April 9, 8:25 a.m.

Another one of those late night-early morning transitions. However, my Mega Hump Days have been downgraded to just Hump Days. The Fashion Designer pulled the dotakyan last night and Grandma Dynamite has cancelled her lesson for today. Speaking of morning students, what has happened to The Patent Attorney? I think he probably pulled another cancellation on Speedy.

Still, it'll be fairly busy today. Luckily, no model lesson...we've yet to hear back from that lady from last Thursday so I think it's safe to say that she won't be a convert. I kinda had a hint of things (not) to come when I saw a bit of a look in her face which seemed to say "Hm...nice but I dunno...." I've got Miss Sedona first off, followed immediately by Grandma FON. And then I have to run off to Maruzen since I got a fax yesterday from them stating that that tapescript for The Bass' book has come in. There was a strange excerpt of a message on the machine which I now assume to be one of the bookstore's staffers. There was a bit of background talk before a spate of girlish giggling and then the click-off. One of the managers probably had one of the newbies try to leave a message in Japanese or English and he/she couldn't quite hack it.

Then, it's off to see The New Yorker in Ichigaya. It'll be the first time to see her since she got back from The Big Apple. I had realized it was a bit of a reach for me to think that a mere five days in Manhattan would transform Eliza into a linguistic "My Fair Lady" but still it was slightly disheartening to see her confirm today's lesson with 80s-like Japlish catchphrases.

I see The New Yorker's sister here at Speedy a few hours later before Music Man wraps everything up for me. Yup, a long day today.

Since I'm here early, it was another McBreakfast nearby. This time, instead of the usual Sausage McMuffin, I decided to try the newest entry in the Golden Arches' morning menu: the Mega Sausage Hot Dog set. Yes, Virginia...there is a Homer Simpson in all of us here. Now, for some bizarre reason only known to the (probably secretive) local Planning Division in the House that Ray Croc Built, the Japanese McDonalds has decided to introduce regular hot dogs and the aforementioned Mega Sausage dogs for breakfast only. As I was in the waiting line, I was debating whether to go slow and just go for the regular dog or go for the gusto, and the latter finally won out (no cracks about compensating for something, please). In any case, the Mega came with mustard and ketchup already on was pretty good, although the late and lamented Nathan's would still win out. Not quite sure if it'll win over customers here though since Nathan's ultimately couldn't do it.

I've been keeping up on the aftermath of the unofficial debut of "Star Trek". So far, all of the reviews have been quite positive with particular kudos to Karl Urban's portrayal of Dr. McCoy, although the clip that I've seen of him on Yahoo seems to show him just as a snarly hillbilly hypochondriac. At least, Urban can play a whole range of characters...I couldn't see any similarity between Bones and his characters in "Lord of the Rings" and the Bourne series. I think the only negative response connected with the movie thus far has been to just one of the fan reviews which managed to get his brethren to turn on their flamethrowers. I may indirectly ask The Publicity Assistant this Saturday if she will have any connection to the movie's promotion here. It's coming out in Tokyo on May 29th, by the way.

Speaking of J.J. Abrams, it looks like Leonard Nimoy isn't quite done with him just yet. He's apparently signed on to Abrams' latest baby, "Fringe", as probably one of the oldest recurring characters to come on a TV show. I saw a couple of episodes of the show back in Canada; it will probably end up coming onto SuperDrama TV in the near future. With Nimoy's return, it means that all of the surviving cast members of Classic Trek have found second lives, starting from Walter Koenig's role as Bester in "Babylon 5". James and DeForrest must be fuming somewhere.
Wednesday April 8, 9:52 p.m.

Surprised that I'm typing this at this time since normally The Fashion Designer would be facing me in the lesson. However, as soon as I finished with The Diver, La Fille informed me that she had called to cancel. So I'm officially done here. The Diver is coming along pretty well; certainly, she's come a long way since her nearly mute ways a year ago. As for 001, she was as genki as usual. She told me of her interest in Hokkaido food so I told her about the jaga buta dumplings I'd had a few weeks ago by way of The Restauranteur. I showed her the picture of the box that I'd taken with the digital camera so she can try to track it down at the next Hokkaido event somewhere in Tokyo.

The first cockroach sighting was made last Saturday. Yep, as is usual in Japan, she was a biggie; I could imagine this one must've had tattoos on its thorny legs. Since unlike the vast majority of the population here, I'm not afraid of the bugs, I just picked it up and put it outside like any pet. I could imagine all of my students screaming in horror at my act. I should've just taken a picture of it and put it on my Facebook.

Well, I'm headed home in the next few minutes. It'll be nice to get a bit more sleep before Mega Hump Day 2.
Wednesday April 8, 5:39 p.m.

Well, The Big Lug and I had another cordial lesson. We spoke on the Starbucks phenomenon including our favourite branches (his is in Kamiyacho...near Roppongi; mine is in's often big and empty on Friday nights, perfect for teaching while downing that caffe latte) and I also found out that he finally found his new pad in Okachimachi. It's pretty close to the old Ueno NOVA branch that I'd started at over 14 years ago, so he was impressed at the places I knew there such as Takeya, a discount store that was there years before the 100-yen shop became a common part of the urban landscape, and AbAb, a Ueno department store legend. He's quite lucky to get the apartment there: he has three train lines serving the area, including the JR Yamanote Line which is probably the line that closes the latest in Tokyo, and a ton of restaurants to choose from.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wednesday April 8, 2:36 p.m.

In between The Admin and The Big Lug right now. Just had enough time to chow down on a Filet Chicken Sandwich set from The Golden Arches. Gave my glowing reviews of Joanna Wang to The Admin much to her delight. I said I would probably get her first album; she said that she would be happy to borrow it next month. Unfortunately, my hay fever decided to strike during the lesson so in a lesson which dealt with the importance of etiquette, I was breaking a few rules right then and there.

Gotta say that it is a nice day out there, though. Plenty warm.

Read some of the first reviews of "Star Trek" from that lucky crowd in Austin. A lot of superlatives were thrown out...keeping my fingers crossed. If The Publicity Assistant could only get that assignment...
Wednesday April 7, 12:34 p.m.

Well, as I was saying...those lucky Trekkie bastards in Austin, TX got to see the full "Star Trek" with Leonard Nimoy a couple of nights ago. At least the buzz seems to be good, although a lot of Star Wars fans came out rather blissfully when they'd seen "The Phantom Menace" a decade ago; then, the realization dawned really wasn't that good a movie.

Grandma Enka had a grand old time on Lota Island with her 14-strong family last week. The area is still undeveloped and therefore doesn't have the touristy cynicism that perhaps Guam and Saipan are now saddled with but still has the pristine nature. She was lucky in that her daughter not only works for the company which plans these tours but Lota Island just happened to be her daughter's assignment.

Anyways, I gotta be taking off to see The Admin in a few minutes...luckily, she's just over at the nearby family restaurant. May have to wait a while to get a table since it's the peak of lunch hour.

Looks like my schedule got slightly readjusted. Grandma Dynamite has cancelled her class for tomorrow and has opted for a double next week, and Mr. Pronounciation has slotted himself for early Friday afternoon. So, a bit of a respite for the second Mega Hump Day.
Wednesday April 8, 11:17 a.m.

Well, the United States has been full of surprises these past 24 hours. First, Barack Obama pulls a Uwie on Air Force One and heads to Baghdad in a sandstorm. And then Leonard Nimoy shows up in Austin to present the very first showing of the rebooted "Star Trek"

...and Grandma Enka has just come in....too early...later.
Tuesday April 7, 9:23 p.m.

Finished my day. The Milds came in with Mr. Mild getting a buzzcut for his new job at the sports facility. He's one of the many retirees who's going for a second career of sorts. He's doing everything right now from reception, taking care of IDs and Lost & Found. Mrs. Mild was suffering seemingly from a rather bad headache. She was periodically massaging her temples. However, she'll be heading over to Italy next week with her buddies; a bit worried due to that earthquake there.

The juku boss gave me an extra treat in the form of chocolate almonds and maboroshi o-senbe or The Mystery Rice Cracker. Apparently in Urayasu, this treat made from the rice usually devoted to producing rice cakes has picked up a reputation for itself as a much-savored and hard-to-get local delicacy. The rather mercurial producer refuses to say when and how much of the stuff he can make, and whatever he makes gets quickly snapped up through reservations so folks passing by the shop very rarely, if ever, can buy the crackers straight off the shelf. However, the juku boss got lucky and was able to pick up one bag. To be honest, the two crackers I ate tonight were OK but didn't seem to be worth all the hoopla, but in the interest of keeping intra-Urayasu relationships sound, I didn't say anything.

Well, heading home now but I got word from La Fille that Mr. Pronounciation wants to get another class in sometime this Thursday or Friday. I've sent word to Speedy that Friday would be the better day since I'm pretty full up on Thursday.
Tuesday April 7, 7:07 p.m.

Well, Suzanne certainly likes to punch above her weight...she's very unique amongst my students for that reason. Since she has been reading James Allen's "As A Man Thinketh" (translated into Japanese as "Cause and Effect"...a theme that is stated from the very first page) and I got my own original copy from Shard, we decided to tackle the first chapter. It was from easy for her with all of the dated English and concepts and by the end she was feeling distinctly exhausted. Apparently the Japanese translation doesn't have quite the religious slant that the source material has. In any case, we switched over to Margaret Atwood's "In The Secular Night"...which strangely enough seemed to be a philosophical rebuttal to Allen. This was easier but not easy. However, we did enjoy analyzing the poem. Maybe we have something there. I printed out an Allen Ginsberg piece for next week. But I'm now thinking if we could even do a song....let's say Donald Fagen's "I.G.Y."

Automan is back in town with his fiancee for the next couple of weeks. Looks like there may be something over at Shrek's on the 18th. The Bohemian sent me word about some sort of get-together with those Mixi buddies of his whom I met last month in Shinjuku. Not quite sure if I'll say yes to that one considering how obnoxious he was under the influence.

Apparently, there was someone planning President Obama's demise in Turkey. However, it was quickly defused. Not particularly alarmed...all US Presidents are targeted for assassination and sadly, Obama, has an even bigger bullseye on his back due to the fact that he is the first African-American president. But he's been getting the rock star's welcome everywhere he's gone in Europe. I could only imagine what it would be like if and when he lands in Japan.
Tuesday April 7, 4:11 p.m.

I think Spring has finally come. Last night, we all probably had the first pleasant night to walk home. No need to bundle up at all. And today has been a glorious day. Didn't bother to put on the tie. I met The Beehive at the usual place. They'd had a good time in Okinawa last week with Mrs. Perth and Mrs. Pottery who's now living there. I got the usual chinsuko cookies (crammed with pig lard) and a decorative binder as souvenirs. The session was a bit dominated by Mrs. Travel who was crowing about the fact that she and her husband had fought the morning after she got back. I'm not sure about relationships but I don't think boasting about her fighting techniques is particularly the most conducive to English conversation.

Did the usual I-Cafe gig in the afternoon. Seems like Joanna Wang, like Barack Obama, was using the Net to promote herself throughout last year. She had posted a number of her songs throughout her inaugural year on YouTube from the comfort of her room. She looks rather mature on her CD but on video, she comes across as the usual latter-day teen in her delivery. Nothing too profound in her statements...just straight intros.

Just spoke with the juku boss about that model lesson student. She never called back despite the boss' call to her about her interest in the lessons. So I'm assuming that she will be a no-go.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Monday April 6, 9:09 p.m.

Yeah, me again. Got a message from the juku boss. May or may not have a brief model lesson tomorrow with this young lady who apparently speaks in decibels according to a rather loud phone call she had sent the boss a couple of weeks ago. May be a gyaru. I cringe but then again, I'd thought as much about Seven and then Suzanne, and they both ended up to be decent ladies.

Speaking of Suzanne, she told me she's been reading the Japanese translation of "As A Man Thinketh" by James Allen, the same book that Shard had given me over Xmas. Small world. I'll be lending my version to her and maybe we can analyze that one.

Got the Beehive back tomorrow in Tsudanuma. I think most of the 90 minutes will be spent on their trip to Okinawa last week and my trip to Quintessence yesterday. I'll be bringing over the Exilim. Perhaps I'll bring some sort of article but most likely I won't be needing it in class.

I've gotta think about that big model lesson with The Sylph's friend and his wife whose house we all had visited a week ago last Saturday after O-hanami in Komazawa Park. Could be a big one but they still have to hear my price quote and they've been interviewing other teachers. I may be doing some more text purchasing on Friday.

I also gotta say that maybe I've passed the peak of my annual hay fever. I did take the meds but I've managed to survive the outside without donning a mask.

Monday April 6, 8:41 p.m.
Yes, I guess it's a pretty slow night but I should be getting ready for Medicine Man in the next 15 minutes.
Anyways, you can enjoy a little bit of Shinjuku skyscraper-dom. I took this on the main street between Nakano and Shinjuku. Actually, during my night out last night in Yoyogi, I took a few dusk pics which might look pretty good in future entries.
Well, in my free time, I got a chance to read some reviews on the restaurant I'd dined at earlier this afternoon, the Michelin 3-star Quintessence. Not surprisingly, the professional critics weren't as generous in their praise as The Class Act and I were. One wag even remarked that the ambience, service, and food were somewhat cold and robotic in tone so that he would more likely head out to a cheap ramen place instead of a 2nd trip to Quintessence. OUCH! However, the ones that I did read did agree that that goat's cheese with the macadamia nuts and olive oil was the hit dish. It was called bavarois. Finally, I can make sense of what the Japanese for years have been calling this dollop of slightly firm creaminess. All I could make out was the katakana pronounciation, babaroa. At first, I was wondering if this was something that the late Desi Arnaz would say to Lucy. Well, the linguistic mystery has been solved.
Also an update on that singer I've gotten interested in: Joanna Wang. It looks like a lot of folks in cyberspace have been calling her the Chinese-American Norah Jones and that she's more categorized as a folk singer. Well, I did see that YouTube entry by the woman herself armed with a guitar and singing "Dream A Little Dream of Me". Yep, she's good. Her album was just released earlier in Japan this year, while she had become quite the rising star in the rest of Asia the year before. Hmmmm....I wonder if she'll be discovered in the notoriously fickle world of Japanese music. She mentioned a singer by the name of Yoeko Kurahashi as one of her inspirations. In any case, I'll have to give my respects to The Admin for lending the CDs to me.
Monday April 6, 8:14 p.m.

Looks like The No-Timer has been enjoying her nearly one week of freedom. And it also looks like she'll be the next of a few students who will be flying the coop sometime later this year. She's been considering doing a tour of duty on Working Holiday in Singapore for about 6 months. But it is going to be a temporary deal compared to Miss Sedona who's hoping for a permanent stay in Canada, and perhaps even The New Yorker who should be back from her namesake city by now. I wonder how she got along in The Big Apple.

As I've said, I've got Mega Hump Days coming up on Wednesday and Thursday. So it was with some relief (knocking on wood) that Mr. Pronounciation decided to have his comeback lesson tomorrow with Speedy instead of me on Wednesday. With 6 lessons already, even if all of my students are great folks, I don't think I would've survived having 7 on my plate. I don't think Speedy looked too happy though.
Monday April 6, 4:23 p.m.

Had a terrific lunch at Quintessence. Made my way over to tony Shiroganedai via the Namboku Line. It was just a brisk 10-minute walk from the station to the restaurant itself. I knew I was in for something other than the usual "Is that for here or to go?" speech at Wendy's as soon as I entered the air lock and a young lady with a beaming smile in a smart suit greeted me. She looked faintly familiar as if she had been a model in the mags or on TV, but I had just enough class not to ask.

I waited in the front lounge for a few minutes. Another couple came on in and sat down but I didn't make any eye contact; I had the impression that such a place reeked of discretion. The Matron came in dressed in a kimono she'd designed herself. It had a sakura motif...I really gotta get her and Mrs. Tee together since she's also often decked out in traditional dress. The noon hour passed by but The Lady was yet to show up...very unusual for her. A phone call from The Matron quickly revealed that The Lady had completely forgotten the lunch and was now rushing to get over. On that note, the impeccably suited waiter showed us to our little chamber for lunch.

I'm not sure about the dinner part but the lunch menu is all up to the owner/chef...a genius who only uses the freshest local ingredients. Nothing frozen or artificially preserved. Of course there were the drinks....The Matron went for sparkling mineral water since she had driven over and I was gently persuaded to try some champagne (for which I downed two fluted glasses...a personal best). While we waited for The Lady, The Matron caught up on life over the past 6 weeks. She'd been busy with various parties including one graduation and one for her grandson.

We'd just finished the first interesting digestif consisting of tomato-based soup seasoned with spices like paprika and some carbonation; tasty although I don't know if I'll ever across its like again....when The Lady rushed on in being absolutely contrite for having forgotten. Of course, we were just happy that she could make it at all.

The rest of our dejeuner de France was consisted of dishes that I'd never eaten and probably won't eat for the rest of my life...I told the ladies that I was getting goose bumps (not an overexaggeration) at the food I was trying. The second course was creamy goat's cheese topped with salted macadamias and drizzled with olive oil. Then came the main course of grilled swordfish steak and rare Iberian pork. Finally, we got two desserts...a tiny crepe that was made from the best sugar, butter and flour...the quality was so high that there was no need to add any filling. The second dessert was another interesting creation of layers of bitter chocolate mousse, crackling caramel and a foam made of espresso coffee. All throughout we were given the play-by-play by our waiter. Yep, he knew his stuff...and we had to have it explained since the dishes were so new to us. Not sure if some people would appreciate the commentary, though; I think there would be folks who would rather have their meal in peace, but then again I don't think such people would come to Quintessence in the first place.

As I'd been told before, we spent about 3 hours in the restaurant but the time just seemed to fly by because the pacing of the wait staff was so immaculate. The two glasses of champagne had me flushing into two shades of scarlet but I was able to hold onto my alcohol until the end. Of course, The Matron paid for everything although I tried to at least make the pretense of pulling out my wallet. The owner/chef and our waiter showed us out the door. Yep, he's a young dude...was surprised to see him own and operate his own 3-star restaurant. Would love to come here again for lunch but the reservation process is extremely strict. You can only reserve exactly 2 months in advance...nothing sooner, nothing later. The Matron was jokingly complaining aloud about that restriction while the wait staff smilingly bowed their apologies.

While The Lady had gone back to her car, The Matron and I walked up to hers. She confided that she'd been worried about her over the past month since the news came out about her husband's financial downturn. There had been some worry that her wonderful house and staff would have to be let go, but it looks like that hurdle has been cleared, thankfully. Not sure if there will be any Xmas party this year, though.

Still, it looks like I won't be resuming any Class Act lessons with them for another 5 weeks; they've requested me to wait until after Golden Week. I don't mind too much since I appreciate the late Monday sleep-ins.

Now that I'm back at Speedy''s back to normalcy. I've got The Full-Timer...or perhaps I should say No-Timer since she should have finished her time with her now-former company last week. And then I've got Medicine Man in the last slot.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Monday April 6, 9:33 a.m.

Well, I guess we're in post-launch Japan now. Yup, Kim Jong-Il launched his newest plaything over Japan yesterday at 11:30 a.m. local time. I just managed to turn on the telly just when the news flash came in...and this time, all of the stations chimed in breathlessly from the first reports of the launch to the Chief Cabinet Secretary's press conference at noon. TV Tokyo remained resolutely nonchalant about it, though. As usual, they provided alternate programming for those folks who preferred travelogues over breaking news.

The weekend was pretty quiet. TV-wise, we're in the Spring Specials week between trendy drama seasons, so being Saturday night, TBS put on its quarterly 4.5-hour All-Star Quiz and Marathon show. Hosted by longtime veteran comedian/commentator Shinsuke Shimada and former aidoru-turned-tarento Wakako Shimazaki, the show has 200 tarento and actors (the former vastly in the majority) answering various trivia questions for prizes while chosen celebs have to run a mini-marathon around TBS Studios in Akasaka. Of course, the governor of Miyazaki Prefecture, former comedian Sonomamma Higashi ran in it since he's a big marathon fan, and there was the throw-in of a veteran Olympic marathon runner; not surprisingly he passed through the tape first. The new things about this version is that now because my TV is part of the digital revolution, I could also play along with the other tarento through the interface. Alas, didn't do too well...I ended up in 151st place out of 201. The other thing is that they actually had some of the pretty female tarento getting down and dirty in some of the crazy races. For example, there was one race in which selected tarento had to get across a short track all slicked down in gooey lotion (guess we can thank the porn industry for that novelty). They actually had some of the prettier ladies have their own race; usually if women took part, they were the homely (to say the least) goofball comediennes. Well, this time, new half-American/half-Japanese SHELLEY got into the finals alongside two other men, one of the local Japanese comedians and transplanted gaijin tarento Bobby Ologun from Africa. Shimada astutely pointed out it was the first time that any of the special's races had a totally multicultural look. In any case, despite all the mess, Shelley won the championship but only after she got a bit of a spurt via Ologun "accidentally" poking her in the butt with his fingers.

On Sunday, it was a nice, quiet one but I did go out to Yoyogi to meet up with MB and The Sylph for dinner at a yakiniku restauarant called "Yakiniku no Ganko-chan". It wasn't the usual group of The Satyr, Miss Ivory and Skippy; this time, it was just one other person, a former co-worker of The Sylph's. I wasn't sure if MB was trying to set me up with her, but although she was a nice sociable type, I didn't get any particular chemistry between us. The yakiniku was good, though.

I'd been wondering about what the schedule was gonna be like today. I was supposed to meet up with The Class Act for the first time in a month but never got any calls. Fortunately, the call came in just as I was about to head on here from The Matron. Yep, I'm off to that Michelin 3-star restaurant, Quintessence, so I'm in my dress blues. I'm probably gonna to have take some money out of the account, though...lunch over there costs over 7,000 yen. No, not too bad for a 3-star but then I'm the type of guy who only gets to see stars in his menu when they denote spice level. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to take some pics of the fare.

Not quite sure what my fate with The Class Act is gonna be. The Matron told me over the phone that The Lady was doing quite well when she had spoken to her last week. However, since I haven't seen them and have gotten accustomed to having Monday mornings off now, the lunch may be my goodbye meal with them. We'll see.

As for new privates, I was not only surprised to hear from The Bass that he was OK with the lesson (considering how unimpressed I was with myself last Friday) but he had already recommended me to a young acquaintance of his. Yow! At this point, I'm wondering whether I should think about making moves to leave Speedy's. Nah...

Musically, I may have come across an epiphany in the form of a very young Chinese-American chanteuse by the name of Joanna Wang. In return for borrowing that Miki Imai CD from me last week, The Admin lent me a couple of her CDs. When I first put on the headphones last Saturday night, I had been expecting to just listen to the first track and then hit bed, but her voice just sounded so different and appealing that I ended up listening to the entire album without getting the least bit drowsy. The way the Admin described her, it sounded like Wang was one of those singers getting into the jazz vein but she does a wide range, including a nice cover of that old Paul Anka tune which had been used for all those Kodak commercials decades ago. Her voice has got a certain smokiness and lilt...a mix of Lisa Ono and Sheryl Crow, if you can imagine that fusion. Tried to look her up at HMV yesterday before I met up with MB and company...couldn't find her in the jazz section but found her in the World Music section. The album I'm borrowing is just her second release and discovered that she's perhaps all of 20 years of age! She looks and sounds quite a bit older (and that is a compliment, by the way). May be thinking of getting my own copy.