Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sunday July 5, 2:28 p.m.

Yep, another session at the I-Cafe...trying to get most of those translations done today. Watched Episode 7 of Ken Burns' documentary on "Jazz". It dealt with the transition from swing to be-bop; for some reason, the narrator never mentions the word in the whole 2 hours although much of it deals with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. I thought it was interesting how be-bop was to swing jazz as rock was to regular pop standards in the 50s. Would like to get the whole series...but then, I got my premium schedule for NHI. I haven't looked at it yet but I know it's gonna hurt.

Well, off to the salt mines.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Saturday July 4, 12:55 p.m.

Spent another 3 hours on what is supposed to be my first full weekend in a month just hacking away at translations. I may be able to finish it all off tomorrow although the I-Cafe staff wonder if they ought to consider giving me mileage for all of the times I've been coming here recently.

The juku boss freaked out last night during The Restauranteur's session since some kinda virus may have jammed up her Outlook Express. She kept asking me the same questions and apologizing over and over again like a really bad deja vu scene. I remarked...kindly....that it is time to get a new OS. The current one is older than most long-lived dogs.

Some domestic American news has managed to penetrate the wall that is Michael Jackson. Sarah Palin has decided to call it quits from being governor of Alaska just a few years into her first term. Not sure what she's planning to do but the pundits are just calling her an idiot...which means that she may be onto something....or just on something.

The local music video channels have gone onto heavy Michael mode. MTV Japan has even re-broadcast the coverage during the night of his death. I always enjoyed his old videos from the early 80s but some of his later ones just got a bit too maudlin for me.
Friday July 3, 6:41 p.m.

Steady day. No classes at Speedy today. I had The Bass and The Bow plus I've got the Friday night juku pair. Note that I said "pair" and not a "trio". Yes, I think the boss may pull out tonight; when she said she may not be able to come for her half-hour, I gestured toward my stomach, thinking that she may have had another relapse from her operation. Instead, she jerked her head toward the hubby in the living room. Ah.Yup, he's gotta be fed.

Although The Bass is still on, The Bow may be pulling out altogether since she may have squared a full-time position according to an interview she had the other day. Ahhh...just as well. At least, I can keep things in the neighbourhood on alternating Fridays. Between The Bass and The Bow, I sped off toward Shinjuku, and hit Kinokuniya where I got the text for Mr. White's inaugural class next week. Of course, there was no accompanying CD so I ordered one. The lady said that it would take about 10 days so I'm holding them to that promise. At the same time, I also got "The Otaku Encyclopedia -- An Insider's Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan". I'd read the review of it in "The Japan Times" the other day, and decided to pick up a copy. It was written by Patrick W. Galbraith, who has often been seen in Akihabara dressed up as one of the main characters from "Dragonball" who often gives his fellow foreigners a tour of the area. I've only read the first several pages so it is an encyclopedia, there are the various expressions defined very fully as only a true otaku could. But through the first couple of interviews and some of his own insights, he's quite honest about the lot of the Japanese geeks. A few years ago, they were seemingly the toast of Tokyo in an Elephant Man sort of way due to the efforts of that movie, "Densha Otoko". However, Galbraith points out that otaku are still very much ridiculed and have as much social eptitude as a comatose patient. An interview with one anime director by the name of Yutaka Yamamoto was quite revealing; Yamamoto comes off as being a walking and talking paradox...he slags his fellow otaku for their rudeness while admitting that he's one himself with the seeming personality requirements, and nearly has a debate with himself on the concept of moe. Yup, frankly not a guy I want to socialize with.

The bizarro sight of the week was catching the cover of one of the big fancy magazines. The cover showed Bruce Willis with his new wife (!) I guess ol' Bruno had enough of seeing his ex gallivanting with Mr. Punk'd and decided to answer his midlife crisis by wedding with a model two decades his junior. No problems here, Mr. Willis. Robbing the cradle in this country is virtually a national institution. Anyways, the bizarre part was seeing Bullethead and Emma in some weird psychosexual poses while Bruce had red nail polish on his toenails. Glad I had my Burger King way ahead.

Went up to HMV. Yup, Michael Jackson was playing on the speakers. I was thinking of buying his best album but on seeing the list, it didn't seem complete enough. I already have "Thriller". I was looking for "Off The Wall" but couldn't find it, so I've decided to hold off. Instead, I just bought one of the Ken Burns' series on jazz at nearby Tower Records. Speaking of Jackson, I hear that the big memorial will now be held next Tuesday at the Staples Center in LA. So, instead of having perhaps the largest funeral in pop cultural history in a Neverland, far away from the city, the size of Chiyoda Ward, the powers-that-be will have the big sendoff in an arena that only holds 20,000. Doesn't make much sense but I can understand the neighbours balking at having the event literally next door; they probably remember all too well when Jackson had won that court case a decade ago. However, I can see a lot of problems happening downtown next week.

Ended up having dinner at The Restauranteur's. Damn fine Beef Stroganoff. Tons of cholesterol but comfort food nonetheless. And not exactly the cheapest item, but I figure if I had to choose between gnashing my teeth about which cheapo place to eat at or eating at a slightly pricey place with good food, friendliness and service, I would know my answer.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Thursday July 2, 5:06 p.m.

Well, you can add another celeb to the obituary list: Karl Malden, dead at 97. At least, he passed away peacefully in his sleep without any major horrible ending, unlike Jackson, Fawcett and McMahon. Of course, he's known for his roles in "Patton" and "On The Waterfront", but I associate him most with "The Streets of San Francisco" back in the late 70s, when he was partnered with a young Michael Douglas...and of course, his American Express commercials. The last time I saw him was on "The West Wing" when he played a priest and showed up in the Oval Office with President Bartlett. Malden always played those very reassuring, father-type roles.

I guess it made for a very appropriate coda for my last time at Maruzen today. After 2 months of having to wait for a DVD for Mr. Jyuppie because of goofs at both ends of the distribution scene, I went to pick it up after I finally got word and an apology that it had finally reached these shores. When I reached the counter, I gave the young kid behind it the slip I'd been carrying since before Golden Week. I didn't make any trouble, even when the kid started to sweat because he was seeming to have trouble finding the disc; I just hoped that it was there so that I could just get it and go. Luckily...for that moment, it was and he gave it to me. Then, the punchline. This DVD for my Oxford "Effective Presentations" book costs a whopping 18,000 yen! I waited a sixth of a year to pay nearly 2 man for a DVD that should star Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson for the price I've just paid. Well, speaking of American Express, I had to pull out my rarely-used credit card since I didn't have enough cash on hand. I had kinda figured that I would be using the plastic to pay for my air ticket home; well, it got the warmup today. Goodbye, Maruzen.

Furthermore on the segue of ironic bad twists....all those frenetic Michael Jackson fans who have been amassing in front of Neverland, thinking that they were going to be taking part in history's largest public viewing of a dead celeb, got O Henry'ed when they found out that the ceremony wouldn't be taking place there after all. Apparently, the neighbours weren't too keen on having a mass of humanity the size of a small city showing up in their backyards to sing, moonwalk and mourn at the death of their hero. I think the security guy who had blabbed the rumour in the first place is probably going to be transferred to walk the beat in Watts during the graveyard shift.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wednesday July 1, 7:52 p.m.

I've been grinding through the translations from The Cornerette, and she threw me some more stuff to tackle...due by the 5th. Take a number.

I listened to the latest Shena Ringo album...forgot what the title was...basically it's notable for the fact that J-Pop's scariest songstresss is apparently just wearing a pink silk sheet and a frown on the cover. Compared to her last album, which was more jazz-based and had me fully awake in bed, Ringo has gone back to her old raunchiness although she's definitely multi-genre. I think I picked up chanson, rock, jazz and funk at least.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wednesday July 1, 11:02 a.m.

Well, early Happy Canada Day. I realize that it's still 10 p.m. Tuesday evening back in Toronto. No big plans here in The Big Sushi. Maybe I'll light a jar of maple syrup in tribute. Certainly would give the apartment a much needed nicer fragrance. However, the big BBQ at Shrek's this Saturday has been called off due to heat...mostly from his kids who are undergoing a fever of sorts.

It'll be a calm day, unusual for midweek, especially since this was Hump Day earlier this year. 001 isn't in today, The Diver is now gone, and The Fashion Designer won't be in until her usual 9:30 slot...that is, if she doesn't dotakyan again. I've got Grandma Enka for her monthly chitchat with me and then The Admin at the usual place; hopefully, we won't have any bothersome intrusions by low-level chinpira like last time.
Tuesday June 30, 7:38 p.m.

Well, it's been a banner day for both the juku boss and myself in terms of our students. The hyperactive girl was totally cool today whereas Suzanne was finally able to get out of her funk by getting out of her regular shifts at that place. She was back to her considerably sunny self. And it may be the last time I see her since she'll be taking the whole of July off and then considering her options from August onwards. Of course, next week, she'll be heading for The Big Apple for about a week, so most of our extended session today was gabbing about what to do and where to go. She is considering trying places ranging from Nobu in Manhattan and checking out the gospel scene in Harlem...during the daytime, of course.

Hope my luck stretches toward the Milds as well. If Mrs. Mild can actually string some accurate sentences together tonight, it'll be a great night.
Tuesday June 30, 4:35 p.m.

Well, well, well....after 2 months of waiting, that DVD I had ordered will finally come into the hands of Maruzen. I just got the notice from the somewhat chastened staff there after they had gotten my complaint. Supposedly there was a miss on the Oxford side of things but at least the staffer who responded to my letter had the good grace to not make that an excuse for the lousy aftercare. It's coming in on the 2nd so I'll go and grab it then since I've got a huge hole in the schedule on that day between Miss Sedona and the Music Man...would love to get his thoughts on Michael Jackson.

I guess it didn't take long. Since Presley's death in 1977, there have been all sorts of Elvis sightings over the decades, and I don't mean the Elvi in Las Vegas. Now that MJ has gone off to do his moonwalking in other dimensions, according to Jeanne Moos' little highlight at the end of "The Situation Room", the whole of New York may have gotten their first Michael sighting yesterday, thanks to some unusual cloud patterns over Manhattan. Apparently, they're called mammatus clouds since they look like udders; whatever they are, they looked just plain lumpy mushrooms hanging upside down. One formation may have taken on the shape of the lately departed King of Pop himself. Thriller, indeed.
Tuesday June 30, 4:15 p.m.

The juku boss is kinda feeling troubled since that hyperactive girl who had gone into conniptions last Friday has decided to continue her lessons at the juku. The boss isn't quite sure about how to handle her and she was actually looking forward to seeing her quit...if only for the boss' peace of mind. However, she's back. I just said to the boss that if she acts up one more time, then the boss can have her ousted.

Speaking of troubled children, apparently the media has been chatting aloud about that press conference by Joseph Jackson, the father of the deceased King of Pop. Apparently, at one point, Papa Joe had to convince the media that he was actually crying on the inside if not exactly showing his grief on the outside. Perhaps he had undergone the Vulcan custom of Kohlinar. Also, he apparently decided to do a bit of self-promotion on something which had the reporters scratching their heads. Don Lemon of CNN was trying to give the guy the benefit of a doubt....maybe he was still in shock. Well, as for me, I'm in no doubt. I think Joe is a bit of a sociopath. Always has been.

And speaking of other did get a very public comeuppance last night JST. Bernie Madoff (love the name...speaks volumes of his actions). got the century-and-a-half from a hanging judge in New York for that grand Ponzi scheme. Unlike what the judge thought, I don't think even 150 years will deter con artists from plying their trade. Sociopaths live in their own reality. Deterrence doesn't mean much to them. The 150 years is just a salve for the victims.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tuesday June 30, 2:01 p.m.

Had to re-wash most of my laundry from yesterday since it got drenched in that un-forecast rainstorm last night (at least, I didn't hear anything of it yesterday morning....those were a lot of sun icons I saw on the TV).

Man, that translation of all those ceramics articles are just killing me. I almost had a nervous breakdown getting through the one on Mino Ware. I gave the Beehive ladies a look at it this morning. They agree....even Mrs. Tee was squinting at the fine print, and she's an expert. Speaking of Tee, she was in one of her doldrums again for some reason. The other ladies took it in stride, though. Just one of those phases she heads into now and then.

The Michael Jackson hoopla has finally settled down. Now it's just the interminable wait for the toxicology reports to come out in a few weeks' time. I was going over some of the various footage when the breaking news came in last Friday morning JST on YouTube. Yup, it was big. Of course, the talking heads are now starting to rattle off on his legacy and on what made him tick. There was a special half-hour on him on BBC last weekend. The panelists were just going apoplectic on whether one could divide his bizarre personal life with his professional talented one.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Monday June 29, 11:59 a.m.

The screws are being tightened on me. I told The Cornerette about those translations are taking time and that they may not be totally done until early next week. She was blissfully ignorant of my crisis and just asked if she could get them by this morning. Ah, As it is, I've only been able to get one of the remaining half-dozen articles into her. I'd be lucky to get them in by Wednesday.

A bit of the unlucky day yesterday. The Coffeemaker pulled another no-show yesterday morning. I got the e-mail stating that she had come down with a touch of food poisoning. It was unfortunate that I had to put her on notice on such a bad occasion but I frankly don't want to end up twiddling my thumbs again so I just told her sweetly to make sure that she leave a message on my machine next time.

It's been 2 months since I ordered that DVD for Mr. Jyuppie's lessons from Maruzen. And yet, no DVD. I sent them a polite but firm letter complaining about their service.

Then, I had to make haste through steady rain after The Jyuppies' lessons to try to reach the Picadilly by 5 (almost impossible) to meet up with MB, The Sylph and Frodo to catch "Terminator: Salvation". Well, MB and Frodo had their heads in their hands which meant that they weren't too thrilled with it. Frodo especially wanted to burn McG in effigy. They are definitely sticklers for a coherent plotline. I was OK with it but even I was scratching my head over the fact that Skynet had John Connor right in its sights and within itself, and chose only to send one Arnie Terminator to take care of it. All I can say is that I wouldn't want to put Frodo and Megan Fox in a room together. In her usual profane way, she made it quite clear what she thought about critics of "Transformers 2". Still, I can say that I've actually caught two Anton Yelchin movies this year.

It was ironic that I'd had lunch at the Freshness Burger nearby the Jyuppies place. After the movie, MB took all of us to the JS Burger place across from Takashimaya Times Square. My cholesterol probably shot higher than the most excessive Michael Bay explosion last night. My regular burger at Freshness Burger was very juicy while the chili burger over at JS was pretty good as well.

Today, it'll be fairly slow. I've got the return of The Nurse after more than 6 months away. Then, it'll be The Full-Timer and Medicine Man tonight.