Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday May 15, 7:09 p.m.

It's been a cool pleasant day today. Best to savour these since within a month, the mugginess will roar in like a pride of lions. My subway was a good 7 minutes late for The Bass' lesson. I'd been a bit afraid that I was gonna have to do some major apologizing, and sure enough, by the time I reached JR Funabashi, I saw him going up the escalator heading over to the bakery from last lesson thinking that I'd gone there by mistake. Luckily, I go t him just as he was about to enter. Apparently, there was another in a rash of jinshin jiko (personal accidents); a lot of times, it's a euphemism for suicide jumper. The station official stated that this jinshin jiko was on the tracks which pretty much sealed my thoughts. Anyways, The Bass thanked me for attending his gig at the beginning of Golden Week and took me to a far quieter place down the street. This place was one of those tiny 2-floor European-style cafes that come with a small electric sign by the door. Up on the 2nd floor, there was only an older man, and he soon scurried out once The Bass and I started gabbing in English. He didn't ask and I didn't mention about The Action Freak, whom I'd officially struck out as a student since she never returned my e-mail for the next lesson...which suits me fine. I prefer to have a little cushion of time between The Bow and the juku.

After The Bass, I had to rush on back to Speedy's. With some good timing in arrival of trains and a wise transfer to the express at Urayasu Station, I was able to make it to the school 15 minutes before Miss Prissy's lesson. On the walk over from the station, there was a thuggish fellow wearing an oddly-coloured cardigan just screaming into his cellphone. I could only peg him as a mid-level yakuza since the gangsters seem to have a strange predilection (that is, besides their obvious sociopathy) for weirdly loud clothing; he couldn't have been a low-level chinpira since he looked too old and polished, and I can't imagine an oyabun doing something so gauche out in the open. Lately, there seems to be a trend in middle-aged men to rant and rave out in the open in the plaza near the station.

Miss Prissy kept my record of successful test passes going by scoring a perfect 100% on her inaugural test. She's definitely a keeper. Great student to have. Just some minutes later, Miss Honolulu, arrived for her regular Friday. She's less avidly earnest than Miss Prissy but still a good student to have around.

It was just the bossman and Ray taking care of the administrative duties. It was pretty hectic at one point with phones ringing off the hook; even I had to take care of one call although it only entailed me asking the lady to hold on...that's about all that I will trust myself to do. As such, none of us did any conversing with each other today. Still, I hung around for an extra hour after Miss Honolulu since I had to kill time before heading back to Urayasu, and I wanted to see what Mixi was up to today. B2 is now officially my Mixi Friend; she seems to be looking forward to her time as a full-time housewife. The "Star Trek" community folks are still talking to each other in very detailed kanji....a bit of a wall for me, but I was brave enough to contribute one topic. I've got a feeling, though, that these guys won't be quite as welcoming as the folks at the Ruiko Kurahashi community.

The Wild Guy was the last of the four friends I needed for my passport renewal references. He also caught "Star Trek", and he was absolutely ecstatic about the movie unlike the slightly more reserved response from The Entrepreneur.

Headed back to Urayasu and did my monthly visit to The Restauranteur's place for dinner. She noticed straight off that I looked pretty tired after those early wake-up calls and late-night arrivals. Had my wonderful usual of Sauteed Chicken; she even brought over a new copy of "TokyoWalker" for me to page through while I waited for my meal. I was only one of three customers in the place; by the time I finished up my coffee, I was the only one in there. I realized as I get older and more alone, I'll be relying more and more on the kindness and hospitality of folks like The Restauranteur. I can see myself in 20 years becoming a fixture in some cafe or restaurant with my own coat of dust.

The juku boss was quite envious by my dinner. I reassured her that within a few months, she can join me there. She did say that she felt some sort of growing back of her GI tract. I wondered if she were part flatworm in regenerative abilities. She told me that she put a wooden chopstick in her ice cube tray so that the ice cubes can come out clear. I'm not sure how that is possible, but I reckon I'll have to try it out sometime.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday May 14, 10:48 p.m.

Once again, I'm here to lock up the store after a long day. Both Miss Sedona and The Music Man have passed their tests with flying colours. I'd like to think that I had some influence on their results.

That student of Speedy's may look like she's heading into my circle permanently since Speedy will be too busy on his second business trip to teach her. I'll have to come up with some sort of name for her, too. Well, why don't I just call her The Cracker since she is one.

B2 has sent me the official Mixi request to be her Mixi Friend, and she told me that she and her new beau are tying the knot. I wonder what her ex, B2B, is feeling right now.

I was a little disappointed not to see the Enterprise at the Kabukicho Plaza this afternoon, but apparently I was correct in the location but not the timing. The Enterprise was there but I guess the powers-that-be only meant it to be there for a one-nighter.

Anyways, I'm heading home. Hopefully, I can get some extra sleep before I see The Bass in the morning.

Ahh...The Cracker has asked to be put into 001's slot since my most senior student won't be here next Wednesday, and The Music Man has said that he won't be able to come next Thursday. Plus, the fact that The Carolinan just had her lesson today means that there is a possibility that I may actually have Thursday night off. Wouldn't that be something? Well, better log off here before my shoulder finally cracks.

Thursday May 14, 7:13 p.m.

Finished with The Carolinan. Showed her the pics from Meat Yazawa...there is the pic on the right. Got me thinking about taking The Sisters of State to another Baker Bounce in Tokyo Midtown. Unlike the Greek place I took them to about 18 months ago in Roppongi, I think Baker Bounce will be easier on the wallet.
I've cooled down a bit since I quietly seethed at The Automan's sister's insinuating criticism about my refusal to carry a cellphone, but I've still left the status bar as is on Facebook. She can take the high road and not deign it with a reply.
Thursday May 14, 5:09 p.m.

Came back from a walk through Shinjuku since my fatigue has been wearing me down. Just walked straight down on the main road into Kabukicho, only to find there was no Enterprise sitting in the main plaza. But there was a large poster for the movie over the Milano theatre. Walked down to Tower Records above JR Shinjuku...not much going on to promote the movie; just the soundtrack selling on the shelves.

Over at Facebook, I had received a message from someone that I'd never expected to receive one from, Automan's sister. She's well connected within a number of areas that I'm at the fringe of, and occasionally we meet up when either The Lens or Automan comes into town. I'm not sure why she contacted me (she said she wanted to drop me a line, but...) but then she brought up the topic of cellphones (I'm allergic to them) to which I gave my opinions on them and home computers and then she gave me her rebuttal. At the same time, she also mentioned that The Lens and his wife were soon coming back into town, and his wife and I had gotten a bit snippy with each other over a little kerfuffle concerning a missed meeting a few years ago. I then put up a status report giving my opinion on cellphones once and for all; the ones that matter will understand what I'm trying to say.

Also in the "thanks, but no thanks" category, I sent my polite rejection of 002's invitation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thursday May 14, 9:58 a.m.

Just realized that I still had to make an invoice for those translations I did for The Corner's client. Grumbled a lot until I also realized due to the fine print on those pages, I may make quite a bit of yen. Just the first page alone contained close to 1,500 letters. And I think I have 7 more pages to go through.

I've been reading through some of those Mixi Star Trek community topic pages, especially concerning the new movie. Urk! One guy at least is using some pretty high-falutin' kanji...maybe he's the equivalent of Comic Book Guy. I may actually traipse down to that plaza in the heart of Kabukicho to see that model of the Enterprise that's sitting there.

Grandma Tango should be making her way here in the next 15 minutes. Speedy would be teaching her but he's got a ton of after-action stuff to go through after his trip, so I'll still be taking care of her.
Thursday May 14, 8:38 a.m.

Another long day here at Speedy's. Only thing is that I was expecting to unlock the door, only to see that the door had already been open. The bossman, getting over his jet lag, had already gotten in after his annual epic business trip. He said that it was the usual hectic and sleep-depriving experience...whoever said that business trips were exciting must have been insane. Aside from work, he had no time for any sort of fun.

For some reason, my e-mail messages have been of the "Long time, no see" variety. I got one from The Anime King whom I hadn't heard from since January; unfortunately, he seems to have become one of the many to be restructured, but I've got no worries about him...he can find something or make something on his own. Then, it was a message from Chip Guy. He's been on the Speedy level of things...ever-busy, no time to chat. Even my erstwhile student, 002, sent me an invitation to her party in late May....strange, since I thought since that rather chilly sendoff she gave me due to the kerfuffle last year, our friendship was at an end. And to me, it still is. Even another former student, B2, gave me a greeting via The Ballerina's string on Mixi. Maybe I'm gonna die soon.
Wednesday May 13, 10:44 p.m.

Started up the school today, and will be closing it up some 15 hours later. I had my usual midweek triumvirate of 001, The Diver and The Fashion Designer. 001 was her usual dependably jolly self, The Diver was wringing her hands about the miniutiae of the lesson, and I tried to move the pace some more with The Fashion Designer but we could just make it halfway. I'm not sure if she were a little resentful, but I tried my best.

Didn't want to or intend to but I ended up seeing a few vital plot points on that "Star Trek" movie. Not surprising for the most part but rather wished that J.J. Abrams hadn't changed one of them that drastically. But from the director's point of view, I can understand that after 44 years of history, perhaps a drastic tug is what's needed.

Anyways, time to go home.

Found out from La Fille that Grandma Dynamite has once again cancelled tomorrow. I still have to come in early, though, since I got Grandma Tango within the early zone. I figured that there would be a cancellation of sorts.
Wednesday May 13, 4:23 p.m.

It's been a quiet afternoon. Just Ray, La Fille and myself typing away since there have been no classes, counselling sessions or the bossman around. I've been jumping about Mixi and Wiki. I joined up with a far more hopping Star Trek community...translated, it comes out as "The Star Trek Friendship Association"; sounds far stiffer than it really is. Since that first community of Star Trek seems to be as dead as a Romulan in a Klingon prison, I decided to check out the TSTFA. Hopefully, I can get a bit more talk in there.

Speaking of "Star Trek", I was surprised to learn that the most financially successful of the movies was "First Contact" which made about $146,000,000 worldwide. The new movie made half of that in its first 2 days in the States alone. I rather doubt that it'll be any threat to what "The Dark Knight" made last year, but I have a feeling that this Chris Pine movie has already broken the record set by "First Contact" by a good parsec.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wednesday May 13, 1:20 p.m.

In the long holding pattern that has often been my Wednesday afternoons, especially since The Admin had to cancel today's lesson. Had my two Grandmas: Fado and Enka. They're both sweet old women but it's certainly not easy to keep them from speaking Japanese.

One of my topics in the Mixi community for The Carpenters seems to have taken on a life of its own. I just asked about good cover versions of Carpenters classics by the J-Pop community, got a whole ton of YouTube links and discussion. Miki Imai, the wife of Tomoyasu Hotei (the guy behind the big theme song in "Kill Bill"), came up with a couple of covers over 20 years ago, and Shonen Knife had its own take on "Top of the World". Apparently, the guy who put up their video on YouTube got some sort of "Cease and Desist" order for some reason.

The Ballerina has her own page on Mixi. Her diary entries have garnered her own cheering section. Her latest entry has her coming back from a vacation in Thailand with a photo of her decked out like some sort of Siamese princess. The Ballerina was always an attractive young lady; and this picture takes nothing away from that.
Wednesday May 13, 9:01 a.m.

Ah, thou art a cruel mistress, McDonalds! How darest you to tempt me with Golden Hamburger Week specials like a 200-yen Big Mac!

Ack! Only fell into temptation once via that flyer last week, and that was actually for the Quarter Pounder. Well, if you're go for sin, go for it whole-heartedly.

As for last night, I did get home before the clouds finally did open up luckily. And the rains had stopped by the time I left for work at the ignoble time of 6:30. I did have my McBreakfast for the first time in 2 weeks. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder since I really enjoyed my Sausage McMuffin this time around.

The Entrepreneur told me that while he did enjoy "Star Trek", he said that it was merely good, not great. Like me, he's one of the die-hard Trekkies and didn't appreciate too much twisting of the canon, even though it's been news for some time now in the Trek community that this was a new universe and not the Shatnerverse. Heard the Michael Giacchino soundtrack once again last night before bed...yep, she's a keeper. In other news, The Entrepreneur and his wife have bought a townhouse out in Mississauga. So, he's heading out west again. I'm happy for them but it'll be too bad that I won't be able to see them up at Yonge & Sheppard. Made things a whole lot more convenient for me. Yup, I'm selfish, I know...
Tuesday May 12, 7:40 p.m.

This entry will probably also be a rush job since The Milds should be here in about 20 minutes. Finished with Suzanne almost an hour ago. Another good session. She's the type that can make a Pronounciation lesson fun. Always like to keep those around as long as possible.

Had The Beehive earlier this morning. I had the full group of Mrs. Travel, Mrs. Alp and Mrs. Jade. I think Mrs. Tee will be joining the ranks of Mrs. Perth, Mrs. Pottery and Mrs Tulip from now on and just make cameo appearances due to the demands of her job. Didn't touch Obama's Inaugural Speech at all but gabbed on everything under the sun, including Mrs. Alp's daughter's upcoming wedding and Mrs. Travel's trip up to Iwate Prefecture during Golden Week. Afterwards, I made an appearance at the monthly lunch with them at the nearby Denny's. The Japanese Denny's is nothing like the original American's slate of slams and good diner food. It's just the usual family restaurant fare with lots of hamburg steaks. I actually take more part in the Japanese part of the conversation this time around, although when the three got into their usual gab about griping, I started tuning out.

Actually had a bit of time to do some shopping and crash at home for about 45 minutes before heading out here to the juku. The day was warm and wonderful but supposedly the rain will be hitting us within the next hour, although I'm hoping the weatherfolk miss on that forecast.

Got word from Speedy who's been on one of his annual business trips. Looks like I've got an addition on my Thursday schedule. I've got that really filled-with-beans woman that I'd taught a few weeks back in lieu of the bossman. I've got her between The Carolinan and The Music Man. Filled-With-Beans is also not a bad student to have, since she grabs everything I throw at her and runs with it.

However, I've got Grandmas Fado and Enka tomorrow since Speedy won't be back until Thursday. It'll just be a gabby morning then before my usual Wednesday night lineup returns....unless there's a sudden cancellation.
Tuesday May 12, 4:41 p.m.

Well, there's sad, and then there's pathetic. The sad part was that funeral sendoff to recently departed J-rock legend, Imawano. About 42,000 fans showed up in warm and humid weather on Saturday to take part in the ceremony in Aoyama; the funeral was set up like a day-and-night-long rock festival...just the way he'd wanted to go out. That figure of 42,000 is still a ways below the 56,000 goth fans who showed up for hide's funeral several years ago, but I'd have been brave and foolish mentioning that amongst those Imawano fans. Actor Naoto Takenaka was basically gushing up the waterworks during his elegy...both SIL and I (being really, really cynical) couldn't help wonder if some of that acting school stuff came into play.

The pathetic part was seeing two famous folk who had been on top of the world ending up being crushed underneath it. It was with some irony and coincidence that I saw the pictures of both defrocked Democratic Party of Japan leader, Ichiro Ozawa, and music producer Tetsuya Komuro on the front page of the Daily Yomiuri this morning. Ozawa, barely 6 months ago, was so close to becoming the next Prime Minister of Japan that TIME Magazine had him on his cover (well, TIME Asia anyways); now, because of a little scandal involving his secretary, he's now on the ashheap of Japanese political history although he'll still keep his seat in Parliament. As for Komuro, this is a guy who was once the Svengali of J-Pop in the 90s....he helped out TRF, Globe, Namie Amuro, Hitomi, among other stars. But after an idiotic foray into financial larceny, he's just barely escaped jail time and his reputation is in tatters for now.

The boss' student is in the house so I've gotta shut off.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday May 11, 7:36 p.m.
Ah, yes. The Great Burger Tour...a mission that is neverending and ever-popular. Today was our trek to a place called Meat Yazawa in a residential neighbourhood near JR Gotanda Station on the Yamanote Line. As you can see on the right hand side, Meat Yazawa's reputation has preceded itself. Skippy was somewhat surprised by the lineup...about 30 minutes, par for the course for a popular joint on a Sunday.
As you can see on the left side, it wasn't the usual hamburger joint. Nope, this one was the Japanese style of hamburg steak. Still fine eating, though. Meat Yazawa prides itself on using a brand of beef called Kurobe Wagyu. For a not-too-bad price of 3,000 yen, I could get myself a 300g slab of burger on a hot plate along with the set of beef broth, salad, drink. The place also brags that the burger is so juicy that the so-called fountain of juice that pours out once the knife is inserted is called "Niagara". Well, it wasn't quite the Falls but let's say that any resemblance between it and the scene of Jed Clampett hitting that oil patch on the opening credits of "The Beverly Hillbillies" was purely coincidental. The burgers also come medium-rare with more stress on the latter...the texture was quite chewy. Meat Yazawa also serves steaks but one of equivalent mass to the burger that I ate comes to about 6,000 yen so I think that would be one left for a special occasion. Still, for a nice Sunday dinner, I could hardly complain.

Monday May 11, 5:11 p.m.

Gahhh...what is the problem with this uploader? Anyways, this is the Michael Giacchino album of the new "Star Trek" movie...the movie that has apparently recharged the franchise if the box office numbers are to be believed this weekend. I came across it at Tower Records on the way to my first lesson with The Jyuppies yesterday. Often since Hollywood movies come here several weeks to several months than their releases back Stateside, we have to listen to the soundtracks first before we see the movies. So we can basically imagine what each track is trying to describe. If the movie is anything like what Giacchino has interpreted, I should be having a rollicking ol' time in a few weeks when the movie premieres here.

I already have Giacchino's other effort, his soundtrack for "The Incredibles", another great soundtrack to have. And that with the "Star Trek" CD share one thing in common. The score reflects his obvious love for 50s jazz/action movie music. Jerry Goldsmith may have had epic space opera in mind, James Horner may have been evoking swashbuckling high seas adventure, but Michael Giacchino is mining Hitchcock-like suspense and adventure; his score reminded me of Bernard Herrman's work on "North by Northwest". And that meshes well with J.J. Abrams' approach to the new movie...keep it movin'--and fast! There is the new theme which covers not only the movie but seems to be Kirk's theme (finally, Tiberius gets his own song...some 27 years after Spock got his in "Wrath of Khan"), much in the same way that John Williams' iconic "Star Wars" theme is basically Luke's song. There is also a niko in there, which for some reason didn't get credited, which may describe Spock and the Vulcans. Of course, there is a sweeping version of Alexander Courage's original theme in the end credits. As much as I enjoyed that last track, I kinda thought that Giacchino was being a bit too Pavlovian with the Courage tune. He seems to throw it in three times, almost note-for-note, just to see if we Trekkies will start salivating. Still, a fine disc and I'm really looking forward to that movie now.

As for the rest of the weekend, on Saturday night, I got a call from The Matron stating that The Lady's situation still hasn't settled down yet so it'll probably be a few more weeks before I get a chance to see The Class Act again. No surprise there so Monday mornings will remain free.

On Sunday, I got to see The Jyuppies for their first lesson. Looks like things will be OK. I didn't have their software for them as hoped, but they were cool about it. I could've prepared a bit better for Mr. Jyuppie but Mrs. Jyuppie's lesson went smoothly.

More later as I upload the latest chapter from the Great Burger Tour...that is, if the uploader will allow me.