Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday August 29, 4:05 p.m.

During my lesson with The Publicity Agent, I found out that the lass has become a fan of the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica". Well, I managed to spend the next several minutes regaling her about the original and simpler version with Lorne Greene (although I didn't mention his name). However, I did mention that Dirk Benedict of "The A-Team" was the original Starbuck which elicited some surprise since she has only known Kara Thrace. I asked her if she knew anything about "Doctor Who", but I regrettably got a nada there. I wonder, though, if my former Anglophile student of a decade ago, The Stick, would be a Whovian.

Well, I got that translation request from Cozy done and sent back out. And I managed to get a couple of more sections done for Speedy. I'm just about ready to head on home.

Ahhh...did forget to mention that Noriko Sakai finally got that indictment for drug possession. However, the amount that she had on her person was far, far lower than what a regular addict would have. But it would seem that an atom of the stuff is enough for Japanese police (perhaps Sir Paul McCartney may have some input on that) to convict. I kinda wonder if there is a bit of that desire to make an example of a celeb. In any case, her talent agency didn't waste time; after all that time of publicly worrying about her, the president made what was probably his last press conference and announced that she was fired.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Saturday August 29, 11:56 a.m.

Another hot one out there...The Japan Times laughingly forecast a high of 26 C today...I guess it's not only Kyung Lah who's screwing up figures in this country. It feels more like a 32 C, which is what the local channels are saying. So much for a cool transition into September. However, there is a typhoon on the way, straight towards the Kanto. Could be fun on Election Night.

Speaking of which, the men of SMAP put out a huge ad in the papers exhorting their young fans to go and vote...nominally for the LDP. They didn't mention Aso by name, but just to give the guys in power a chance and support them. Not sure what their popularity is like right now, but I think it could actually get voters choosing the DPJ instead. In any case, the papers and pundits are still predicting a landslide victory for DPJ's Yukio Hatoyama. I saw an article in the paper about his wife who's seems to come off as a bit of a new-age flake. Since I made a Canadian referral to Hatoyama as being similar to the ineffectual Joe Clark; maybe his wife could be Japan's version of Maggie Trudeau.

The Carolinan mentioned on Thursday night that although she did receive a ballot, she wouldn't be voting. Normally, I would internally tsk-tsk her decision, but when the top two choices are Hatoyama and Aso, I guess I couldn't really blame her.

At the juku last night, the juku boss told me that she'd never given up on searching for a new place for the juku, which was news to me. When I started up there 5 years ago, she'd exhorted that she was searching for such a place but that talk seemingly petered out. However, she has said that she just didn't mention anything more to me. She's looking for a house in the Urayasu area. So I guess both of my main sources of income may be on the look for new homes.

I only got The Publicity Agent today, but I have some more of that extra work in making up the prototype handouts for study-abroad students who may need some remedial English help. And I just got a translation request suddenly from Cozy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday August 28, 12:13 p.m.

Death by alternating weather....that would seem to be the message for us for the remaining weeks of Summer. Yesterday was warm but dry and comfortable. Today is back to the normally torrid weather of Tokyo summers past. At this rate, I can expect a major snowstorm for Election Day.

It'll be my busiest day, relatively speaking. I've got The Nurse in less than 15 minutes, and then I gotta rush out to see The New Yorker in Ichigaya as usual, followed by the mini-lessons with the juku boss, The Ace and The Restauranteur.

Speaking about Election Day, the coverage is starting to pick up steam internationally. CNN has started talking about it, although the current reporter for the Tokyo office made a big bungle by stating that the only time the LDP hadn't had power in its half-century of dominance was in 2003-2004. She was a decade was 1993-1994. C'mon, Kyung could do better than that.

I was just getting out of the shower at the stroke of midnight when I got the call from The Romantic. Don't get any ideas...I've known the guy since university when he was wooing one of our club members. He was definitely one of those "a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou" types. I was...and still am..."a bottle of Coke, a chocolate bar and youse" type. Anyways, I digress...he's married to Automan's sister now. He had been trying to contact me without success for the past few weeks only by phone for some reason...I don't think he's a Luddite like me...but finally got me at home. Apparently, he's asked for some help in some various research projects for his company. He didn't go into much detail about these far as I'm concerned, they could be on anything from current macroeconomic models to assassinating dictators. Still, the money sounds good...on a par with that last translation project....just don't know if I'm the one to do this.
Thursday August 27, 7:56 p.m.

Not only did I finish my dinner of Bacon Epi (it's from the neighbourhood bakery, La Vie Du France...bacon-wrapped bread...genius idea) and salad, but also finally got rid of that last peach we'd gotten from Grandma Fado a couple of weeks ago by splitting it up and feeding it to La Fille and Speedy. After more than a fortnight, I think that pome was ready to evolve. Luckily, our resident cryogenics chamber managed to stave off any cellular disruptions.

Just read on the Fuji-TV site that singer/actress/commercial queen Aya Ueto had received a major death threat via Internet. I would think that death threats were a normal thing for any celeb in this country. As for that latest banner of Noriko Sakai's getting into S&M, my only question would be whether she was Master or Servant...cue Depeche Mode.
Thursday August 27, 7:19 p.m.

Yes, we do have those elections coming up this Sunday, don't we? A choice between the Devil we know or the Devil we don't. In a way, it's almost like having the US elections but with McCain vs. McCain. I can even inject a bit of Canadian political history into this as well: Taro (Jean Chretien) Aso vs. Yukio (Joe Clark) Hatoyama. The LDP's Taro Aso has that swagger, arrogance and that sideways talking of Chretien while the DPJ's Hatoyama seems to have that somewhat clueless fragile look of Joe Clark. I'd been thinking of putting my digital camera to use on Saturday since I only have The Publicity Assistant at Speedy's so I can track down where the candidates may be doing their final round of stumping in Tokyo; however, when I looked up the schedule for the probably-soon-to-be-former PM Aso on the Liberal Democratic Party website, his only appearance in Tokyo is at the east exit of JR Ikebukuro at 7 p.m. I don't think I'll wait quite that long for him, thanks. No appearance in the capital at all for the challenger from The Democratic Party of Japan.

Had my lesson with The Carolinan. Seems like she's come out of the blues since she found out that her company was bought out by its rival. Since she finished and with both lessons by me and the bossman cancelled, that means we're technically done for the day, but I've got some more paperwork to do and with the evening rush hour at full bore right now, I'm not that eager to commute just yet.

Thursday August 27, 4:59 p.m.

Yes, please look at that rather glum fellow on the right. He's glum for a reason. His name is Nozomu Sahashi, and he used to be the President of what was the largest English conversation school chains in Japan, NOVA...which, ironically, imploded into a black hole of bankruptcy almost a couple of years back. A lot of foreign residents ended up finding out how tough it was to be poor in the world's most expensive city while Mr. Sahashi lived high off the hog in his gold office...that is, before the end came. Well, the courts slammed him with a 3.5-year prison sentence today (most likely to be appealed...cell walls aren't gold unfortunately). Luckily, I was far gone from my former employer by the time the axe came, but even during my time there in the mid-90s, I'd thought that things were somewhat spread too thinly. I'm always reminded by that joking response by the orientation manager on my first day in the former Harajuku offices, when some greenhorn dared ask whether NOVA would ever collapse: "Pshaw! NOVA is too big to go down!" Kinda reminds me of the Titanic.

Well, met up with Miss Sedona this morning. Her time with us is fast approaching its end. Looks like Toronto will be her destination; she'll be heading for Seneca College. When she mentioned Finch Station, I reflexively mentioned the Mr. Greek's there. I may have one more person to meet during my vacation back home. Maybe by that time, she'll be ready for brunch at The Sunset Grill.

Since The Music Man has canned for tonight, I've got just The Carolinan in less than an hour. I came back from teaching The Bow in Shinjuku.

The last of the original generation of the Kennedys has passed on. Edward Moore "Teddy" Kennedy passed on yesterday. The writing had been on the wall for the past several months concerning the senator's brain cancer. The death immediately signfied a media response usually reserved for those of presidents: long-term coverage of his life and half-mast flags. The funeral, slated for this Saturday, will probably be as lavish.

As I was coming back from Shinjuku, the kiosks had the banner showing the latest headline concering NorikoGate: "S&M with drugs!" Talking about way too much information....if it's even true.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday August 26, 9:02 p.m.

Just waiting for the last student to show up, The Fashion Designer. She just has two lessons left, including tonight. And provided that she shows up next week, that'll probably be it for her according to what she'd told me a couple of weeks ago.

My session with 001 was the usual loosey-goosey one with lots of back-and-forth, and a bit of work on the actual text. Looks like one of her co-workers got Swine Flu...not good, especially she works in a hospital.

I actually caught one of the third-season episodes of the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica" on Super Drama TV yesterday. It was "Collaborators", and though I read that it was one of the lowest-rated episodes in the entire series, I was definitely quite impressed by it. But trying to keep up with the series is liking trying to keep up with series like "24" and "Lost"; almost impossible with my schedule. Someday, when the prices of those DVD sets plummet, I'll probably invest in them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wednesday August 26, 1:52 p.m.

A bit of whimsy to start off this entry. On the right is good ol' Colonel Harland Sanders in a happi coat (and yes, he certainly looks happi). I took this shot at Chuo-Rinkan Station on Sunday when I met up with The Jyuppies for sushi. My childhood love for the chicken covered in 14 (15? 25? 399?) herbs and spices has shrunk to the occasional craving...ever since I picked up a breast (chicken, hee hee) and it just oozed grease. Still on that occasion, I get my money's worth. However, my days of grabbing a bucket are now over, along with ingesting supermarket day-glo birthday cake and butterhorn danish.

Apparently, there was some hooha over the national Earthquake Early Warning System here yesterday, when it had mistakenly predicted an imminent Shindo 5+ in the early morning for the Chiba area. Since I slept very soundly until 10 a.m. yesterday morning, it was obviously a glitch in the system. A couple of sheepish officials from the Meterological Agency did their deep bows in apology; one guy looked like he was on the verge of tears over the mistake...he did say that he'd gotten a lot of "concerned" calls. More likely, they were screamouts by frightened citizens. Still, the big one will be hitting our neck of the woods sooner, rather than later.

I posted up a lot of the photos from The Jazz Singer's gig onto various arenas. Found out that the lass is also up on Mixi...she was able to track me down and thanked me for the free publicity. According to her Facebook page, she's also quite a cook.

It was just Mr. White and Mr. Mild for their respective lessons last night. Mrs. Mild was out sick with a cold. Her husband figured it was from fatigue from their hike up a mountain in Toyama Prefecture last Wednesday. With the fears of Swine Flu edging closer as we approach the Fall, I couldn't quite keep that thought out of my mind. Also, the juku boss had a bottle of ethanol for sterilization purposes on a chair in the genkan for anyone going up to the 2nd floor. I got a box of dried apple senbe from Mr. Mild via their stay in Nagano Prefecture. Pretty tasty.

And I also got an omiyage from The Admin whom I met for the first time in about 3 weeks. It was an idea from her stupid son (her words, not is almost a duty to put down one's children...something that I don't agree 100% with; there's being humble, and there's being downright nasty) in the form of ramen with the taste of the famed Ise Prawn. The Admin's family had been in Kyoto, partially on business. Would like to go to Kyoto one more time someday.

Just the usual reduced schedule today...001 and then The Fashion Designer. I've already gotten one cancellation for tomorrow. The Music Man has decided to not come so The Carolinan will be the last student. And I got my pay for this month from Speedy; as expected, not nearly the winfall of last month, but I've got that translation pay still pending along with the juku pay packet on the way on Friday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday August 24, 10:48 p.m.

Finished off with Medicine Man just now. He was a bit more forthcoming today. Meanwhile, Tokyo got hit with some a major squall which has thankfully abated, so I won't have to fight the elements on the way home. We had a similar situation earlier this afternoon in Chiba, but I also managed to elude the worst part of that.

It'll be another quiet Tuesday tomorrow, but I got word from The Admin that she'll back ready to talk on Wednesday morning. Still, this week is looking pretty sparse, except for Thursday.

Monday August 24, 6:37 p.m.

Before heading out to see The Jazz Singer, I had met up with The Jyuppies for dinner in Chuo-Rinkan. I'd gotten there about an hour early since I didn't want to cramp The Sylph's style. MB certainly didn't mine me staying over at his place since I make for a good video games partner, but I think the missus wanted a bit more personal time.

For years, I only knew Chuo-Rinkan as the distant endpoint of the Den'en-Toshi Line, the extension westward of Tokyo Metro's Hanzomon Line past Shibuya. With the express train, it takes 30 minutes from Shibuya to Chuo-Rinkan. Basically, the place is just another suburban commuter hub with the requisite shopping mall surrounded by all sorts of apartment complexes. I found out from Mr. Jyuppie that Chuo-Rinkan is in the city of Yamato, a smaller urban area just north of Yokohama.

It was just The Jyuppies themselves, sans baby daughter and dog. They took me up to their favourite sushi restaurant called Nakamizo. Mr. Jyuppie swears by the fare in this place...all other sushi places can take a very far backseat in his estimation. He'd been going there since he was a teen. The place is pretty small...just a counter for five or six and then tatami seating for just two groups.

I have to say that it was a treat eating at Nakamizo. For one thing, I was able to eat two dishes that I wouldn't normally go anywhere near anywhere else: kanimiso (crab brains) and uni (sea urchin). In my (former) estimation, they were about as close to Klingon ga'gh in desirability. However, the versions at this place were on a different playing field. The crab brains I had for an appetizer were creamy and delicious with some very rich crab flavor that would make a Boston crab cake lover swoon. And I was definitely impressed by the uni. As Mr. Jyuppie had insisted at his last class, I would be made into a convert by this sea urchin. And he wasn't wrong. There was no strange smell with this stuff and the taste was far better than sea urchin from other was almost a different animal. However, the effect was that I now know that I will never try any uni at any other sushi shop.

Of course, since Nakamizo is a sushi restaurant, we of course had the sushi platter with toro, ika, kinmedai and aoyagi...all very good. But I was especially taken with the osumashi, the clear soup that's de rigueur at any sushi shop. Usually the soup is basically just gulped more as the ritual culinary entrance to the bigger dishes in store, but I had to remark to my hosts about how rich this soup was. There were several big hunks of bony fish inside which helped to bring out the flavour of the soup.

As a finish, the waitress then brought out a big bowl of anago-don...grilled sea eel on rice. Another hit out of the park. Mr. Jyuppie had been worried whether I would like the taste and the portions. He needn't have was about as 5-star a place in terms of ambience and taste as Quintessence, the Michelin-anointed French restaurant that The Class Act had taken me to back in April. Mr. Jyuppie told me that restaurants in the Chuo-Rinkan area come and go, but Nakamizo has been around for well over a decade and it often gets lineups. In fact, the owner-chef had to turn down a few folks who had come in during our 90 minutes there. Always a good sign.

The Jyuppies, as all Japanese hosts would, apologized that I had to come out all the way from Chiba for dinner. But I reassured them that good food was good food. I don't think I would make weekly trips across two prefectures for sushi, but I wouldn't mind seasonal trips to this place.

Monday August 24, 6:26 p.m.
Well, it was a busy weekend socially. After my two classes here at Speedy's on Saturday (BTW, The Intellectual did sign up...a drop in the bucket in terms of our finances, but like a thirsty man in the desert, we'll take it), I had that DVD Night with MB in Jiyugaoka. Ended up staying perhaps a bit too long at his place than I should've. I think I got too much in thrall with MB's games. "Watchmen" was quite a bit of fun; I had a good rapport with my character of Nite Owl, although I have a bit in common with Rorschach as well. Also, the new "Wolverine" game was addictive...kept me there until past 3.
In any case, the little lady, covered in The Jazz Singer, my former student. After my dinner with The Jyuppies last night, I rushed over to The Satin Doll in Roppongi for her debut performance, although she said that it would probably be her last performance there as well. She was just in the Sunday amateur night. Still, she did a fine job in her gig, and it looks like "Summertime" may be her theme least with me. The Satin Doll is a pretty nice place to listen to some good jazz. The performances there were along the lines of Cool Jazz of the 50s. I went to DUG, the jazz bar up in Shinjuku several years ago, but I like The Doll better for its space and ambience. They also serve up some French fare which her contemporaries had already ordered; they offered me to dig in but I politely declined since I'd already eaten.
The Jazz Singer sent me a thank-you e-mail for coming out last night. Hopefully, she'll get that CD out so I can have some bragging rights.