Thursday, July 30, 2009

Friday July 31, 2:38 p.m.

In a holding pattern right now after having taught The Nurse. She was in good spirits today. Apparently, she'd met The Admin at the local supermarket. I don't think I particularly revealed anything by telling her that I teach her regularly on Wednesdays, although I'm not sure how many lessons The Nurse has left. But, as they say, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I'll probably head on out in about 15 minutes. Since the dinner is at 7, I've got lots of time so I'll hit Nakano Broadway and see if they have any more cheap discs on display. Miss Sedona told me yesterday that she'd gone there to see her dentist whose offices are right in Otaku Central. She said that she felt rather uncomfortable; on a weekday afternoon, too. I could only imagine how she would feel if she ever had to go there on a weekend. Still not quite sure how this shindig is gonna turn out.

The Cornerette has yet to respond to my latest missive to her. I figure that she's on her weekend right now. Not to worry, though. I'd rather go into my long weekend with very little on my mind.
Friday July 31, 11:59 a.m.

It was just a few entries ago that I'd mentioned that this month only saw a quarter of its days considered as sunny. Well, as I was heading home last night, I was accosted by something that I would never have expected at the end of July....refreshing cool mist belted at me by the usual winds in Nakano-Sakaue. The term "air conditioner" never entered my mind as I went to bed and opened the window, and then when I woke up this morning. It felt more like May or October than mid-summer. The weather folks are now openly considering whether this summer will be known as a reika, or cold summer. Can't be too good for the farmers.

I just have The Nurse in about half an hour. And then that'll be it for nearly 4 days. However, I did have that talk with the bossman considering our current cash crunch. So we threw out some ideas and now I have to think about coming up with some seminar ideas for those clients planning to head on out to Canada on study-abroad programs.

Tonight's the night for the juku students to get together at The Restauranteur's restaurant for that dinner. Hope all goes well.
Thursday July 30, 5:57 p.m.

I haven't had one in a long time, but I ended up having a nicely empty afternoon of nothing but surfing through Facebook and Mixi. I haven't had one because I'd been grinding through that long translation project. Still getting through the negotiations about how much I should be making from it, but I'm not fretting too much. Ended up joining two more communities on Mixi, 80s New Wave and Early Miki Imai.

The bossman is having a discussion with the troops (aka Ray and La Fille). I decided to be Santa Claus again and bought a box of ice cream for the folks. I think after a hot day like this, and the ladies were still fanning themselves in the air-conditioned office, it is time for a treat.

I'm looking at a very long weekend. I just have The Nurse here tomorrow and then it's the dinner party at The Restauranteur's with the juku bunch. Then I have two full days of weekend, and then nothing on Monday until The Medicine Man at 9:30 p.m. It's looking like a pretty sparse month in August. I'd been thinking of using that translation money for perhaps a weekend in Yokohama, but I'm now thinking that it might be wiser to hold onto that cash for as long as possible.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thursday July 30, 2:10 p.m.

It's been a very quiet week. Case in point, I only had my first Speedy lesson of the week this morning with Miss Sedona. I'd been in Monday and yesterday but in both cases, I only stopped in to check on the latest negotiation between me and The Cornerette before I headed off on my private lessons. On Wednesday, I only had The Admin and then The New Yorker in Ichigaya. I saw a campaign wagon for the Japan Communist Party drive up in front of the local koban there, and a candidate with a couple of folks jumped on top to give out their campaign rhetoric. It's truly one of the saddest sights to see when old folks wave frantically away while giving out their hopes for the future of Japan, only to be greeted by disinterest. Mind you, they are Communists and they have as much hope to get into the driver's seat as a Neo-Nazi Party.

In any case, I had a very rare Wednesday night off since 001 decided to cancel once more. Looks like she'll be preferring biweekly sessions although she hasn't come out and said so directly to the bossman. I was able to actually catch some prime time television (and managed to survive with most of my brain cells intact). Found out that the World Cup of Rugby will be heading over here to Japan in a decade. I do wonder what that will mean for Tokyo's Olympic chances.

After Miss Sedona, I'll be waiting for the next several hours until The Music Man has his lesson here at 9:15. During my holdover, I'll be waiting for the next missive from The Cornerette, and probably a talk with Speedy about what to do to bring in more students on pain of bankruptcy.

My suspicions were confirmed during the weather forecast last night. July 2009 will go down as one of the gloomiest Julys in history. Only a quarter of the month had any sort of sun which will raise havoc with the crops this Fall. I did notice that there has been a lot more rain than usual.

Ray told me that Grandma Dynamite has asked for two lessons in the last two weeks of August. Hopefully, her attitude has brightened considerably.
Thursday July 30, 1:48 p.m.

It's been quite The Summer of Celebrity Deaths. Yesterday was no different. Woke up early on Wednesday morning to find out that Japanese pop singer, Kaori Kawamura, had passed away at the youthful age of 38.
In my own little world, I've started to make comparisons between her untimely death with that of the much more famous Michael Jackson. Not to diminish The King of Pop's passing, but even the man himself admitted to his first wife that he wouldn't be long for this world and that the news of his death would be one for the record books. And that's what it was. Pure pop spectacle...right from those early reports of him being sent to hospital right to the performance funeral service in an arena which could hold tens of thousands.
On the other hand, Kawamura's passing was truly sad and poignant. Some years ago, she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer which necessitated a single mastectomy. Unfortunately, the cancer came back and finally did her in on Tuesday. She'd had her last hurrah in early May with a concert. But it was just yesterday that a video log of the hell that she'd had to go through to get back onto that stage was released to Fuji-TV. In it, she told of the horrors of chemo but also her defiance in ensuring that the show would go on. She looked truly different from that teenage girl with the pale beauty (she was half-Russian) and punkish hairdo which seemed to make up half of the female demographic's choice in cuts back in the late 80s. Kawamura not only had that slightly rumpled look of a mother, but also a haggard look of someone who's aged a lot faster than would be considered fair.
I was surprised to find out that she'd been the original singer of "Zoo", her debut single in 1988; I'd thought that the tune was made many years later and sung by actress Miho Kanno and one other pro singer during the airing of one of her dramas. I first knew about her during my days on the JET Programme when she provided a couple of tunes for a popular variety show 20 years ago. One is being shown in the picture, "Tsubasa wo Kudasai" (Give Me Wings). That song was one of those hoary tunes which had to be sung at those annual high school singing contests. Kawamura gave it a rock twist which got it a bit more respect.
However, unlike some of her contemporaries, she never became a huge superstar and she quickly faded into the obscurity of late 80s J-Pop history. I caught her once several years ago on late-night TV while she was doing a stint as a DJ at some dance club but that was about it. Then came the news a few days ago. What made it even more poignant was not just the vlog of her truly suffering for her art but her authoring of a book written for her little daughter...notes about her life and wisdom that her daughter won't truly understand until later.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tuesday July 28, 2:05 p.m.

A transition is coming into place on a number of fronts. August is just around the corner so of course, the number of students coming into my view has been decreasing steadily. The Beehive is off for the summer, as is SIL. Also, before I got my latest pay pack, Speedy brought me into the office and told me that things aren't looking too good for the school right now. There haven't been any new students for the past few months; I've noticed I haven't been getting any model lesson requests. Not that I've been complaining....I treat model lessons like I treat medical checkups....they may be necessary but I try avoiding them if I can. In any case, the bossman has once again asked me for any ideas to keep the school up and running. He's done this before over the past five years I've been associated with Speedy. Back then, it was the usual wailing of "Woe is me"...just the bossman letting off steam. But this time, he looked pretty serious. Still, I have to admit that we've been lucky that we'd been able to stave off recession this far into the year. I'd thought I would be breadsticks as soon as I got back home from Canada back in January.

It hasn't just been the Speedy students either. The Smile has left the building, and then last night, I met up with The Full-Timer. She'd literally gotten back into the country in the same day after a 4-day trip in Seoul. She did have that rather fragrant smell of garlic on her. I got a nice box of sweets from Korea as an omiyage. And I also got the message that she may not be able to see me anymore because of her new job at some start-up medical supplies company in Hamamatsucho. She has really become a full-timer....pretty darn lucky on her part in this economy. So, amongst my friends introduced to me via SR, The Carolinan is being let go at the end of September while The Full-Timer is heading the other way.

Since The Beehive is off for the summer, I have most of the day off. The keyman came in to install the chain lock at the request of the owner of the apartment building. Apparently, she was concerned about safety in my area. I'm knocking on wood pretty heavily as I say this but in my 15 years in my neighbourhood, I haven't experienced or witnessed a major incident. And this is a guy who regularly comes home past midnight. Of course, the guy who murdered English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker back a few years ago had lived in the next area over, but I still think he's now lying at the bottom of Tokyo Bay. The keyman was a folksy fellow, not surprising considering that he hails from Osaka. Since my family is from the same area, we had a good talk for the 45 minutes he was there at my doorway checking, drilling and installing my chain lock. True to Kansai hospitality, he even fixed my sticky doorknob and gave me advice on how to keep things from squeaking. Always nice to meet a true professional.

The other day, I caught the latest "Harry Potter" movie with MB, The Sylph and Skippy at the Picadilly in Shinjuku. Basically, it ended up as a 3-hour prelude to the finale. None of us liked it too much, and I knew we were in trouble when MB started putting his head into his hands and started shifting in his seat. "The Half-Blood Prince" should've been released an extra-special made-for-TV event, not as a blockbuster motion picture. This could only have appealed to the die-hard fans who would swoon even if Harry strangled a cat. I'd never read any of the books so it was with some surprise that I found out from MB that there was a major battle sequence in the original book. But instead in the movie, it was just the bad guys up on the belltower with that final quiet assasssination of Professor Dumbledore by Professor Snape. The director, David Yates, left in all that "Beverly Hills 90120" stuff with Harry, Ginny, Hermione (please, do grow up, girl!) and Ron, and decided to take out a key battle sequence from a blockbuster franchise instead. OoooooK....and what is even more mystifying is that Yates is the same guy who whipped up that crackin' battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort in the last movie. I mean, that fight scene was even better than anything Yoda and the Sith could bring up in the "Star Wars" prequels. Just disappointing....