Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday May 29, 8:18 p.m.

Ugh! I think I'm starting to understand what President Obama goes through day by day. So many decisions, so little time. Well, perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. Of course, there was the boomerang commute. I went over to Maruzen to see if I could pick my month-long order. I could get half of it, and at least, it was the right half...the audio CDs for Mrs. Jyuppie. The DVD for Mr. Jyuppie's lesson is still in stasis somewhere but I was planning to work on his intonation and stress anyways so I might still be able to get away with it for yet another week. I'm not sure if month-long waits are the norm for Japanese book orders but the rather cool attitude on the part of the staff didn't help their reputation in my eyes. I also got the text and CD for The New Yorker for which she was quite happy to get. Perhaps that may have explained a better result on her delivery today.

Then it was off to Tsudanuma to see The Action Freak. It was the first time I've seen her in over a month. A bit of a frustrating meet, to be honest. She's only in her twenties but just seems to want me to make the decisions about her future with me. The month between her model and official first lessons told volumes about what erratic appearances would mean to (low-level) students. She was 15 minutes late in coming in, asked me to make the decision on the textbooks; she has potential but she needs the heavy-duty practice. And then we went half an hour overtime just having her gnashing her teeth about where she could find the consistency of time to make it for my lessons. The answer is: she doesn't. She's in nursing training right now and her mercurial supervisor has told her that she wouldn't have any time for even part-time jobs, let alone playing around with English. I tried to tell her easy but it looks like she's gonna have to make the decision to either cut out English altogether for the next several months (or years), or find a teacher with a much more favourable schedule for her. I just can't open the time for her.

I sped back to the juku. The boss has been searching for a new kids' teacher since the regular one won't work on Saturdays anymore. Maybe there could be a new student for me in the offing. However, once I get The Ace and The Restauranteur done tonight....I'll finally be able to chill a bit...until tomorrow's lesson with The Coffeemaker.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Friday May 29, 8:18 a.m.

Looks like Rainy Season has come a bit early this year. It's been doing the cats-and-dogs thing for the past several hours. My "good" shoes are waterlogged which pretty much means that I'll be replacing them sometime next week. I'll be getting rid of the sneakers, too, since they're starting to resemble Birkenstocks.

MB has advanced the time tomorrow for "Star Trek". Apparently, Roppongi Hills is all booked up, so we got Wald 9 instead. It's all good. I'm pretty much ready to ask Ray to close down the school on Saturday since we haven't got any classes booked...knocking ferociously on wood.

Got a message from Mrs Travel of the Beehive last night. Since Mrs. Perth is making one of her semi-annual pilgrimages to Tokyo from this weekend, she suggested having a lesson/luncheon over at her place instead of the usual cafe. No problems on my part; I'll have to confirm with her before Miss Prissy comes in.

Yup, it'll be another long day. After Prissy, I gotta run on out and find out what the heck happened with my Maruzen order. I really don't want to face The Jyuppies again this Sunday and tell them that their discs have still not come in. Plus I gotta pick up a new text for The New Yorker...whom I'll be whipping back to Ichigaya for her lesson this afternoon. Then, the bungee commute continues...perhaps...with The Action Freak. Finally, it's the usual The Ace/The Restauranteur tandem at the juku. After this lineup, I may actually think of demanding Ray to keep Speedy's closed tomorrow.

Found out by chance that today is Jay Leno's final bow on "The Tonight Show". Can't believe it's been 17 years since he took over for Johnny Carson...mostly because I've spent most of his tenure here in Japan. Always enjoyed his newspaper headlines.
Thursday May 28, 8:29 p.m.

That newest student in the Thursday night lineup is just a heck of a tonic. Basically, beat my vitamin drink in revitalizing me. Works hard, great sense of humour, and sounds a whole lot like Andrea Martin's Pirini Scleroso character from "SCTV". Could use more like her.

Earlier I had The Carolinan. Looks like my introduction for The Sisters of State to the wonders of Baker Bounce is slowly getting under way. I just have to ask The New Yorker tomorrow about what her schedule will be like.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thursday May 28, 2:36 p.m.

In the midst of a 4-hour holding pattern until The Carolinan shows up. The return of Grandma FON was pleasant but she was showing a bit of rust. The good thing is that unlike a certain other Grandma, when we get into a lesson, FON focuses like a laser and holds on a like a Rottweiler. She's gonna be heading onto another excursion in July, though.

Then, I had Miss Sedona. Was really pelting her with the jokes today for some reason. She was floored by the fact I possessed neither a cellphone nor a driver's license. I politely remarked that I'm a bit special, although I'm sure other folks term me a freak.

The 4-hour first half of my Hump Day tapped almost all of my reserves so I was lucky to have had that burst of vitamin drink energy earlier today. I've got a bento and salad within me now so I should be good to go for the final half tonight.
Thursday May 28, 10:58 a.m.

My shoulders are so tight, they can crack walnuts. Lack of sleep, being planted in front of a computer, and ambient tension do not help.

Managed to survive the double with Grandma Dynamite. She wasn't exactly bouncing off the walls but neither was she planning to collapse either. Did a pretty good round in the first hour, but I guess that taxed her enough in the second hour; just languidly turned the pages in the textbook before deciding to call it an hour after 45 minutes. I wasn't about to disagree. Plus, she's heading out to Hawaii next week to celebrate her son's wedding.

Next, it'll be Grandma FON...hopefully...not sure if she remembers today's session since it's been over 6 weeks and she's not exactly the youngest spring chicken on the block. Just wonder if I'll be sentient by the time Miss Sedona gets in.
Thursday May 28, 8:48 a.m.

A long day ahead of me. I thought I was gonna see Bay at McD's for breakfast but alas, she couldn't muster the strength to wake up in time so I just did the usual Sausage McMuffin set and headed over here. Speaking of strength, I downed a vitamin drink to get me through some of the day at least; it actually has perked me up. At least, my eyelids aren't threatening to collapse anymore.

Got a full six lessons including a double in ten minutes with Grandma Dynamite. Hope she's more in her perky mood today, although I'm not all that hopeful considering the weather is pretty dank and gloomy outside. Afterwards, I have Grandma FON for the first time in almost 2 months and then Miss Sedona. Then I've got the night crew with The Carolinan, The Cracker and finally The Music Man.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wednesday May 27, 2:26 p.m.

Got through the first half of the day without too much of a problem, although I was a few minutes late getting out of class with The Big Lug...there was a counselling session in the next hour, and the potential student was sitting outside; luckily, she was writing down the survey. And I think Ray isn't the type to fly off the handle whenever the schedule gets a bit askew. As for The Big Lug, he's been in his new digs for about a month. He's been enjoying it and says that there has been some sort of festival nearby every Sunday since he's moved in.

The Grandmas were fine although Grandma Fado (sorry, that was Fado not Tango) had some memory lapses which slowed the class down considerably.

I'm thinking of hitting out to the conbini to pick up some lunch once that counselling student gets out and under way.

MB has sent word about "Star Trek" on Saturday. Looks like I'll be able to see it no matter how many students end up showing up on Saturday here; he's pegged it for 6:40 at Roppongi Hills.
Wednesday May 27, 8:06 a.m.

Here early for the first of three straight early mornings...ugh! Actually, today isn't too bad, but tomorrow will be the Hump Day. Not very sporting of me, but I kinda hope that Grandma Dynamite actually cancels her double least, if she still has that attitude from last week.

It'll be Grandmas Tango and Enka this morning, followed by The Big Lug (first time for him in over a month; kinda interested in hearing how his new loft is shaping up), and then a few hours of respite before 001 and The Diver show up. The Fashion Designer has also canceled her lesson for tonight, so I can get home a bit early which means that much more needed sleep before another 6:30 a.m. exodus.

Saw The Milds last night. Mr. Mild got himself a military-style buzzcut; if he weren't so self-effacing and so interested in being the Renaissance Man, I would've said he had been converted into a ultra-rightist. But he just decided to jump the gun on the heat and humidity, and shaved most of his locks off. I told them about the dinner at the end of July; everything rather hinges on their schedule since they are my most senior and loyal students. Happily, they agreed to the date and time. I also inquired about a fire that had occurred not too far from their home last Friday. The Restauranteur had first told us about it when she had come in for her lesson which prompted the boss to call The Milds up. Luckily, though, The Milds reassured me it was more smoke than actual flame. Apparently, a low-rise apartment some 30 metres away got a bit smoky. It looked scarier than it actually was.

The news announced a 7-year-old kid has become the latest victim to catch the new flu. However, I think the rate has started to decrease; not surprising since the weather is warming up. And the North Korean situation has put the flu news solidly in the background.

I listened to the remainder of that Kaoru Sudo album, "Hello, Again" last night. Actually, it is starting to grow on me. There is that City Pop flavour to it, and one of the tracks is quite a winner. I'll have to send further compliments to that Mixi fellow, though I don't want to seem fawning.
Tuesday May 26, 7:39 p.m.

Not sure what's worse...having too many lessons to teach or having too much time on my hands. Now that The Traveler is history, I have to spend my hour cooped in my section of the floor as the juku boss teaches that little girl every Tuesday. Suzanne was in a rare mood of dropsy today since she felt mentally tired because a co-worker seems to have been making goo-goo eyes at her. Well, she won't be here next week either as her real boyfriend is taking her to a Lotte Marines game in Makuhari Messe. I've told her about the 5th anniversary party at the end of July. She's game. Hopefully, the Milds are as well.

Had to make my way out to the conbini just to get some air. Picked up a small cup of Dean & DeLuca Strawberry Ice Cream...yup, even our stores carry those. Pretty good and saved about 20 yen compared to the usual Haagen-Daas.

North Korea is continuing to rattle its sabres by throwing a couple of more missiles. May be thinking bomb shelters soon.
Tuesday May 26, 4:37 p.m.

Several years ago...11 years ago, in fact...I went to the wedding party of a former student from NOVA. During the party at the former Twin Star nightclub in Kagurazaka (supposedly the launching point of that late 90s dance boom called Para Para), the emcee exalted about the fact that the happy couple were enjoying their most important day in their lives and then the groom and bride also gave their speeches about how happy they would be from now on with each other. A few of the male students and I at the party muttered half-jokingly "...yeah, for now".

I had a talk with the juku boss just now about the woman who had first brought us together almost 5 years ago. I did have a code name for her but since I lost touch with that lady, her name has been lost somewhere in my calcifying neurons...I guess I'll have to re-name her The J-Brit. In any case, The J-Brit got married a couple of years ago and then just last night, she phoned up the boss out of the blue, and a few minutes later, the boss switched her over to me. The J-Brit was always a bit of a sensitive type....absolutely hates the concept of staying over at a friend's house since she's extremely uncomfortable about imposition.

Today, the juku boss and I brought her up again in conversation, and the boss wondered aloud about whether marriage is all that it is cracked up to be. I mean, she herself has been married to her salt-of-the-earth husband for several years and everything has settled in for them. However, she believes that it seems to be a shame that a lot of these women, who are highly educated and talented, seem to end up in divorce court after perhaps getting a bit suppressed by alpha male tendencies (not a new concept at all even in this country....Italy or Brazil machismo, though, Japan has not). She feels that women end up being very unhappy in marriages. I could totally empathize with my friend's opinions....guess why I'm still a bachelor. I've never really seen much advantage in the so-called sacred institution, and probably won't at this late date. The juku boss has always admired The J-Brit for her talent and vivacity but also feared for her well-being since she's a bit emotionally fragile. During her part of the conversation on the phone back on Friday night, she implored The J-Brit to come on over and unburden any heavy loads. The J-Brit may just do that since she has said that the boss' house is the only place where she has been able to relax.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tuesday May 26, 12:55 p.m.

Well, if there were one way that the news of the Swine Flu in Japan can be overshadowed, North Korea found it yesterday. Yup, Kim Jong Il decided to play global kick-the-can again with the can being world public opinion and the leg being a combined nuclear test and missile launch. I was out all day yesterday so I only found out about the afternoon incident several hours later. I can imagine all of the media was going haywire about it. Kinda wonder how much more brinkmanship the world can take from this guy.

Yup, yesterday....went over to the usual family restaurant to meet The Admin instead of the usual Wednesday morning since I've got the Grandmas at Speedy then. The Admin never showed up; when I called her later, she sheepishly got the days mixed up. She thought it was gonna be today; lucky I did call her then. Still, I got to try some lunch at the famiresu since The Admin and I usually only go for the drink bar. But The Admin was very magnanimous by insisting that I take the 3,500 yen from the advance that she always pays me.

I went down to Shinjuku. It looks like the 12-1 hour is the sweet spot for getting into Krispy Kreme #1. No line whatsoever. If I had been heading back to the school at that time, I would've gotten a dozen for the ladies back there but just wasn't meant to be. Instead, I went over to Kinokuniya and got that official graphic novel prequel to "Star Trek", "Countdown". It gives a good elaboration on how Spock Prime got himself into Nero's bad graces. Rather tragic story, really. Bought books 13 and 14 of the "Hikaru no Go" series. I'm now caught up with the distribution of the English version of the manga which means that I'll probably be waiting a lot longer for those future editions to come out.

After getting some ink cartridges for the juku boss' printer, I ended up going to HMV upstairs again before walking over to Tower Records. There, I ended up buying a disc by 80s J-pop singer, Kaoru Sudo, on the recommendation of one of my new Mixi acquaintances. I don't think it's quite the bees' knees that the acquaintance is saying but, Ms. Sudo has a pleasant enough voice. For me, I'll still take Akiko Kobayashi or Ruiko Kurahashi anytime.

My Mixi habit is partially responsible for why I didn't blog in yesterday. I'm just getting so caught up in virtual conversation in the various communities. I made a new friend yesterday with some lady who apparently read my profile. She's not only a Trekkie but also a fan of a lot of old TV series from America, such as "The Untouchables", "Perry Mason" and "Ironside" (man, she's really into Raymond Burr....kinky. Wonder if she knows that Ray was gay.). My new Mixi friend seems to be somewhat younger than me which is a bit of a surprise.

I finished off that Mo Hayder novel, "Tokyo", that The Satyr had lent me a few weeks ago when we all met for dinner at Meat Yazawa. Yup, it turned out pretty well. Didn't exactly end the way that I had expected (which is good) and didn't end happily (which is even better), but I was a bit annoyed by that character, Nurse Ogawa, since she seemed to be there just as a token supernatural killing machine with no explanation of who she ever was. I certainly didn't expect her to be killed off in a hail of gunfire and a smart-alecky crack from the heroine, but I would've liked some more information on her. Even Wolverine would've had trouble with Nurse Ogawa, let alone a guilt-ridden neurotic woman.

Up at Tower Records, one of the small screens was showing what was a Japanese take on "Hostel" called "Grotesque". Ironic, since the "Hostel" and "Saw" series kinda mined the splatter horror series from Japan for ideas. Even the cover of the DVD was done up almost exactly like the one for "Hostel". Apparently, the talk on the Net is that this Japanese movie is so filled with gore that it makes any of the torture porn stuff in America look like a picnic in a park. And Tower Records was showing this in open public?! Well, I only saw up to where the deranged surgeon was showing his weapons to the poor couple so I'm not sure whether the video stopped at that point and went back to the tame hospital scene.

Anyways, The Beehive was doing fine. Even Mrs. Tee was there for the 2nd time in as many weeks. Mrs. Alp was beaming since her daughter got married over the weekend. She was proudly showing off the photos. Mrs. Perth will be making one of her occasional and welcome visits to us next week, so definitely won't be doing an I-Cafe session. Got the usual juku folks today. I'll be talking with them about their schedule at the end of July. It'll be 5 years since I joined up with the juku so I wanted to have a bit of a dinner at The Restauranteur's place with everyone.

Got another promise of translation work from The Corner. Always nice to make the yen.