Saturday, May 09, 2009

Saturday May 9, 4:42 p.m.

Still inexplicably here....after The Bostonian left Speedy's almost 2 hours ago. Just got too much into Facebook and Mixi, I guess. Speaking of The Bostonian, she technically tied the knot with her fiance over Golden Week by registering over at the nearest City their tracksuits. Talk about laidback. It was another counseling session with me, and with 2 more lessons left in her current set, I'm kinda wondering if she'll just be flying the coop once she gets through with them.

As for The Intellectual earlier, the lesson was atypically sloggy to a small extent. We finally got to the finish line a few minutes earlier than usual.

Still haven't heard from either Maruzen about my order or The Action Freak about what to do concerning her still-yet-to-be inaugural lesson.

Well, The Entrepreneur is the first out of my group of friends on either side of the Pacific to see the new "Star Trek" movie. As a fellow Trekkie, he was absolutely ecstatic about it. The lucky bastard!

Sent the word to Mr. Jyuppie that I'm coming over tomorrow but sans software for their texts. Well, we can still pull off the lessons.

I'm outta here for dinner. I've already spent too much time here today.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Saturday May 8, 10:15 a.m.

Got through my Indiana Jones-like odyssey of lessons last night. Luckily, The Ace and The Restauranteur were the good....dependable...soldiers. The juku boss wondered about The Traveler's status. To be honest, I'd completely forgotten about her. She hasn't responded to the boss' messages, and I've frankly already written her off.

I received a couple of e-mail from The Action Freak about whether I got those phone messages. I just sent back a neutral reply stating that I got them and inquired about whether the 29th would be open for her. I have to teach The Bow's next lesson pretty late on the 22nd which pretty much nixes any chance for The Action Freak then and I'm simply not gonna give The Freak any more opportunities to hang herself for the next week. Perhaps asking her whether she would like to attend at the end of May would give me some indication about how really interested she is in English.

So instead of my myriad lessons and commuting yesterday, I just have the two here at Speedy's: The Intellectual and The Bostonian and a straight back-and-forth commute between here and home. I was hoping that I would already have the CDs for The Jyuppies' official inaugural lesson tomorrow but it looks like that won't materialize so I'll have to improvise. But there shouldn't be any big problem.
Friday May 8, 7:19 p.m.

April showers bring May showers, too, apparently. The clouds have been opening up on us for the past few hours now. Kinda fits my mood...The Action Freak once again left me at the altar. Mind you, she did leave a message on my machine just after I'd started with The Bow. I just didn't bother checking it since I felt I had to get on the Sobu Line to head over to Tsudanuma as quickly as possible. My plans would've been drastically different obviously if I had checked (which is what has gotten me into this mood) but what hasn't and what wouldn't have changed even if (try to follow the syntax if you can) is that I'm even more skeptical about this girl now. She said that she had some sor t of class again that she had to attend or some sort of thing and that she'd like to re-schedule once more. Well, I kinda wonder about how available she can be if she keepsdotakyan'ing like this. Mind you, I haven't made it easy for her since I can only give her that one-hour sliver on Fridays but that's my schedule. Well, in any case I was able to try that Becker's burger platter while I was waiting in vain.

Also had a few more changes to tomorrow's schedule. Initially, it had been The Intellectual with The Publicity Assistant. Then, Mr. TOEIC entered the mix as the first student. However, The Publicity Assistant pulled out due to work (I wonder if Mr. Hanks or Mr. Howard had anything to do with that). Then, I found out today that Mr. TOEIC once again did another one of his quick cancellations, so I thought I was gonna have the one student. But then, Ray informed me that now The Bostonian has requested a mid-afternoon appointment. I'm pretty sure the stage is set; no more shell game. At least, I can get an extra hour of sleep.

Sounds like CNN, at least, is swooning over the revamped "Star Trek". My Trekkie appetite is getting whetted. I can only imagine how The Trekkie is feeling just about now.

Heard about the passing of Dom DeLuise yesterday. Nope, he really wasn't too much of the comic force for the past 20 years but for those of us who grew up in the 70s, we really appreciated the fact that a fellow fatso could be loved. I might watch "Silent Movie" again tomorrow night.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Friday May 8, 12:53 p.m.

Writing this on the fly since Miss Honolulu should be in here at any minute. My marathon commute all over Tokyo is now in session. Finished off with The New Yorker earlier today in Ichigaya. The aforementioned Miss Honolulu, then it's off to Shinjuku to teach The Bow and then off to the wilds of Tsudanuma to teach The Action Freak before landing in Urayasu for the usual juku classes. I should be earning points from JR and Tokyo Metro for this!

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard were in town last night or the night before for the Tokyo premiere of "Angels and Demons", the sequel to "The Da Vinci Code". More later...

Thursday May 7, 7:23 p.m.
Ahhhh....that wonder of Turkish cuisine that has invaded Akihabara: the doner kebab. Layers of meat with veggies and a zesty sauce stuffed in a pita. All for just 500 yen...a bargain in this town. Not quite sure what happened with that left picture, but it is one of one of the many doner kebab stands in Tokyo. Doner kebab has become a fixture in what has been the ever-cosmopolitanization of the world's largest city in terms of food culture. Doner kebab used to be just served from various trucks but now enterprising folks have set up more permanent roots in Akiba in the tiniest of nooks and crannies. However, I do remember seeing a similar place in my neck of the woods near Moto-Yawata Station.
Well, I made my way in the spitting rain down to the Canadian Embassy. The receptionist directed me to head down to the 4th floor. 4 was pretty dark since consular services were over for the day; they're only available from 9:30-11:30...go figure on that. However, I only needed to pick up the necessary documents to start the passport renewal process going. There was a couple ahead of me getting advice from the person behind the glass and since there was actually an Alex Ross book on "Superman" on the shelves, I was almost disappointed that the couple didn't stay talking with the staffer. However, the embassy official was very friendly and helpful to me...reminded me of me when I was helping out years ago at the university. She told me about all of the necessary references and identification that I would need to bring once I had everything written out. And then I was off around the corner to get my passport photos done. That old studio on the 2nd floor of the Aoyama Twin Building closed down so the official directed me to another place around the corner. I got my photos lickety-split but boy, do I take some horrible photos. I look like I should be on the Aum Shinrikyo wanted list. But passport photos are not supposed to be model shots in any case. I ended up having lunch next door at a cheapo soba restaurant. For 700 yen, I was able to get some mori soba with a bowl of rice with a patty of negi toro and one croquette. Looks like I've been getting some food bargains this week.
I stopped off at Kinokuniya to see about getting a new book for The New Yorker but looking through the prospective text, I decided that it was just as well that I could just photocopy from the stuff here at Speedy's. A number of the pages wouldn't be too relevant for her and I could save myself some yen. Speaking of texts, after asking The Action Freak a couple of times over e-mail, I finally got the word from her that I should pick out the right text for her. Man, I wonder if I'm biting off more than I can chew with this one. After all, The Bass couldn't really make this a personal recommendation since she'd only met her once and that was under a stage name (since The Action Freak was working in a bar of sorts...I kinda wonder what kind of establishment this was). In any case, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
It's gonna be a pretty hectic day tomorrow. I have to do a lot of fast commuting to get to see The New Yorker, Miss Honolulu, The Bow, The Action Freak and then finally The Ace and The Restauranteur at the juku. Luckily, Ray told me that my Saturday load got a bit lighter because The Publicity Assistant had to cancel due to the rigours of work. I wonder if she's getting a ton of Hollywood celebs coming in....uh, celebs with the names of Chris and/or Zachary, perhaps?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Thursday May 7, 8:07 a.m.

Well, back to the grindstone again after almost a whole week off. No income whatsoever but I did catch up on some sleep. Woke up bright and early at 5 this morning though. No McBreakfast since I had the time to down Corn Flakes and those Betty Crocker Muffins. Man, I didn't realize that the American stuff could be so dense. I could feel the gravity getting heavier.

Looks like I'll be the only show in town as far as the school is concerned today since Speedy himself is on his annual round of business trips. Just have Grandma Dynamite, then Grandma Tango, Miss Sedona followed by Music Man some hours later. In between those last two, I gotta head on down to the Canadian Embassy to start the process of renewing my passport. Would like that stuff to be done by the end of May since I should get my ticket for Christmas by June if booking last year was any indication.

Saw my last Hexagon show for the next several months on Fuji-TV last night. Yep, some of those folks are as dumb as wood planks.

Kept on the listening path. Listened to that Best Of compilation of all of 80s aidoru Naoko Kawai. Well, all I can say is that I guess I collect some of my CDs for cultural posterity than for actual enjoyment. I mean, I like some of her earlier stuff like "Smile For Me" but when she started making that transition from run-of-the-mill teenybopper to artiste like so many of her compatriots have done, the results can be wildly wacky. One of those transitional singles sounded so much like WHAM's "Careless Whisper" that my ears were cringing throughout.
However, I also listened to one of those 100-yen discs that I'd gotten at Recomints in Nakano Broadway the other day, Miki Imai's live offering from 1993. That CD was far more satisfying.

Watched through "WALL-E" twice in as many days. I think that movie will go down as one of the flicks that I regret not catching at the movie theatre. A lot of those jaded critics were screaming CLASSIC in the mags; although I'm not quite ready to say that yet...I have to wait a few more years..."WALL-E" is definitely up there in great entertainment. It did what any movie is supposed to do and more....made me forget about the outside world for 98 minutes. Lots of heart, that one.

Speaking of flicks, "Star Trek" is now just less than 72 hours away from general release Stateside. I kinda wonder if the Trekkies are decking the halls with their Starfleet braids in anticipation.

Skippy has made contact. Not surprisingly, it's for another in the great series of The Burger Tour. Looks like she's making it for Sunday night in Gotanda. Interesting area.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wednesday May 6, 11:59 a.m.

Been a while. I've been enjoying the first extended holiday without any classes since Xmas and it's almost over. Yup, it'll be back to a regular work schedule from tomorrow and I start off with another early one with Grandma Dynamite. Golden Week has been mostly fine in terms of weather although today and yesterday have been filled with rain.

Last Saturday, I went to the Bass' gig in Otsuka at a small club called "Welcome Back". I'd never been to Otsuka, just the next station east of Ikebukuro on the JR Yamanote Line. Well, at least I know where Tokyo's lone streetcar begins. It just comes off as a regular little commercial hub, although I've heard that it's also another centre for the tons of love hotels along with Shibuya and Ueno. As I said, "Welcome Back" is a small basement live house and Saturday proved to be Amateur Night for which The Bass was acting as drummer for his band. The gig was about 45 minutes and there was a small but dedicated audience; he said that his band was a tribute group for a UK unit called Porcupine Tree but I definitely heard elements of The Who from the waling guitars...and yep, they were waling away. However, I was most surprised that there was a couple with their infant son. Apparently, he wasn't too upset at all by the sonic assault on his tiny ears. Must be getting him primed for his adolescence. I had a chance to speak to The Bass briefly before I made my way back home.

On Sunday, I decided to check out Akiba again with my digital camera. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be still won't bring back the hokoten. However, I did manage to take some shots of the area. Did see some maids handing out flyers but I'm not sure if the Maid Cafe phenomenon is heading onto the J-Pop Culture garbage heap along with loose socks and Amurers. Then again, the pheonomenon may have become so ubiquitious that it's part of the landscape now. I had some lunch from the just-as-ubiquitious doner kebab sites; man, at 500 yen a pita, the doner kebab can beat a Big Mac anytime. I walked all the way down from the Otaku Mecca to the thematically opposite Ginza...a 30-minute trip on foot. Akihabara may have been packed with otaku, tourists and Maids but just a few minutes away, the neighbourhood was pretty deserted. I did come across the actual Nihombashi along the way. It's a pity that the original bridge is now overshadowed by massive highways while underneath it is a river that can rival Toronto's Don River in terms of pollution. Tokyo is too warm in the winter but I'm sure that river would probably gel instead of freeze. And yet, I saw a couple of folks actually jet skiing...I wondered if the Cloverfield monster would end up devouring them.

Ginza, ironically, still has a hokoten on Sundays but didn't see any Akiba-like performance art. I did pick up yet another CD (an old Naoko Kawai) and the DVD of "Wall-E" at HMV. No sign yet, though, of the "Star Trek" soundtrack. They're having the sneak previews here next Monday, but of course any chances of me catching them are close to nil since duty calls.

Yesterday, I headed out all the way to Hiroo to drop in at National Azabu Supermarket. Since it was Children's Day, I saw a lot of the little ones scurrying around with balloons and ice cream cones (there's a Baskin-Robbins next to the supermarket). There was even a catering truck containing a coop's worth of chickens roasting on spits. Now that is a fine dinner takeout! I went all the way out to this supermarket just to get a box of Betty Crocker's Blueberry Muffin Mix. Yep, when I get obsessed on something...well, I hadn't baked in several years and since I wanted to try out that function of my oven...

I was wavering about it but after Hiroo, I finally made the choice to head on out to Nakano Broadway to check out the second Geekville in Tokyo. It was raining but there were a ton of people coursing through one of Tokyo's oldest covered malls. Nakano Broadway had a lot of the geek factor along with French nationals milling about on its four floors. My main reason wasn't to observe them (although I did take my fair share of photos) but to see if I could pick up some diamonds in the rough at that CD shop, Recomints. Spent a good half-hour filtering through the various bins...found a lot of old discs from the early 90s such as Pizzicato Five and Miki Imai. Cost me just 100 yen per disc. The bins are perfect for picking up those CDs that you've always been curious about but not enough to shuck out 3,000 yen. I always enjoy walking through the corridors of Broadway...someday I may even be brave enough to try out some of the local fare.

On my way back I came across yet another young bickering couple. I'm not sure if it's because of the law of averages of walking through the masses in the largest city in the world, but I've been encountering a lot of these argumentative nitwits lately. Just emphasizes how happy I am to be single and unattached.

Over the past week, we've had a celeb death or two. One was the passing of the very first chanson singer of Japan, some fellow who died in his 90s. This French form of enka-like balladry has had a huge niche of fans...usually amongst the older crowd. The Prez is one. The other obit comes for an arguably much more famous person. The name Kiyoshiro Imawano may sound like a name for some kabuki actor for those outside of these shores, but he was actually one of the big names in Japanese rock. He died over the weekend from cancer at the still fairly young age of 58...a shock since he does appear on TV from time to time. I'm not sure if he predated David Bowie in glam rock but he was well known for his war paint of eyeliner, mascara and nail polish, literally decades before the hip-hop guys decided to do the same. The song that I always associate him with is "Ikenai...Rouge Magic", his duet with Oscar-winning Ryuichi Sakamoto who was going through a New Romantic/Glam Rock phase himself.

I've been listening to my latest cache of CDs over the past few days. Happily, most of them do very well by me, although the latest Pet Shop Boys release seems to be going more Art than Pop. Joanna Wang and Yuming also did well although I'm still a little creeped out by that 50s-style cover girl look of The Queen of J-Pop on the cover. However, Superfly is quite a revelation. That 70s style that Shiho Ochi takes isn't quite as hard as Janis Joplin but she is sure fun to listen to. I'll have to give my compliments to Miss Sedona tomorrow.