Friday, October 23, 2009

Saturday October 24, 1:30 p.m.

It was an interesting Thursday. I saw The Bow for the first time in about a month...she'd been working on the campaign for her soon-to-be former company, Dyson, to get the word out locally about James Dyson's latest revolutionary invention, the bladeless fan. The Bow spent half the hour on the schematics of the device...basically a large ring on top of a cylinder containing a powerful impeller sucking air in and throwing it out through a gap in the ring. The official launch came out in Omotesando Hills about a week ago with the man himself making an appearance, but sales in regular electronics shops won't be starting until early next year.

Then I took The Carolinan after her lesson to my favorite ramen joint, Foo Foo. Yup, she enjoyed the pai ko tan tan men...just slurped up the spicy broth right up.

I gloriously enjoyed my late Friday. Actually got 9 hours of sleep in bed since I decided to stave off the physical until Tuesday. The need for sleep and the ramen within me made the point rather moot. The juku boss seems to be still suffering from the effects of her operation nearly a year ago. She said her blood pressure was dangling quite low last night. The Ace and The Restauranteur were fine.

This morning, I got up early and headed down to the Shin-Takanawa Prince Hotel in Shinagawa to meet up with my old friend, Paddy. The Prince Hotel chain seems to really want to get that prize of Japanese Holiday Inn. The interior of this one, along with the very first one down in Shiba Park, seems to be stuck in the 60s. Years ago, it was pretty much known as the premier hotel chain in the country, but now it just seems to be hellbent on staying in faded mediocrity. In any case, Paddy was just here to get some family stuff done so we met up in the lobby before heading for one of the small restaurants for breakfast. We made the usual chat on catching up and finding out what's become with some of our old cronies. Since my old friend is now based in London and uses Virgin Airlines fairly often, I was wondering about introducing him to The Ballerina since she's now working in a supervisory position there at Heathrow.

Had my lone lesson with The Intellectual. I'll probably be heading out at 2 to go to Akiba. Apparently, it's the last day of some sort of festival over there. I just want to take some pictures since it's been a while.

Looks like this Monday will be a Donut Day. Both Swank and Daddy's Girl have re-scheduled their classes for later dates, so I'll just have Cozy for the early slot while Medicine Man will come in for his usual last slot.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thursday October 22, 12:49 p.m.

Yup, Grandma FON was in the house, and true to her Force of Nature title, she was just off and running. Almost didn't need to refer to her text. She'd gone to the Basque region of Spain (not sure if she ran into any ETA types) over the summer, along with her frequent hops up to her house in Nagano Prefecture. She'll be heading there next week as well since she loves the countryside so.

Just gotta ingest some lunch and then I'll be headed out for Shinjuku. Feeling a bit weary from the lack of sleep, so it looks like it'll be a heavy coffee day. Thankfully, my remaining 2 lessons will be at Starbucks.
Thursday October 22, 11:14 a.m.

Another early wake-up call to teach Cozy. My shoulders are definitely getting that petrified forest quality. It's been a long time since I had a massage...ever since that financial gouging I got at the Lilac Forest, the massage clinic area in Ikebukuro's Sunshine City, earlier this year, I've been rather trepidatious about entering one. However, Cozy is one good student. Barely got through the one page but only because we were just riffin' on the conversation.

I've got Grandma FON for the first time since July. Wonder how she's gonna be. Most likely, we'll just be gabbing on her latest trips, so probably no need for any textbook but just in case, I've got it with me. Then, after lunch, I'm off to Shinjuku to teach The Bow and The Carolinan. And then good ol' Foo Foo for dinner. I'll be definitely holding off that physical til next Tuesday. When I've got the early wake-up call for a physical plus the requisite of not eating for 10 hours before the checkup versus a fine ramen tonight followed by several hours of good sleep, I think the choice is obvious.
Wednesday October 21, 8:00 p.m.

Basically got some stuff done: a bit of planning for that long-range project of devising an EIKEN 1 course, proofread the latest report from The Croatian, and looked at what I'll have to do with The Music Man. Yep, 001 is off for the 2nd week in a row...ostensibly for a workshop tonight, although I do wonder if there is any alcohol involved.

I've also been wondering if I ought to join the "NCIS" community on Mixi. Yep, even here in Japan, Mark Harmon's magnum opus has got an in-built fan club. Last year during my time in Canada over the Holidays, it was "CSI: Miami" that I was glued to on the tube. Well, thanks to the good folks at Fox Japan, I've been catching the funnier and more action-packed spinoff to "JAG" pretty regularly. And I guess in deference to both the Cate and Ziva fans, FJ has been showing eps from Seasons 2 and 4 (pre- and post- Cate's death) at different times of the day. Ironically, I think FJ will be showing the tragic season finale to Season 2 tomorrow morning. Tragically, I have to be out by 6:30 a.m. tomorrow to teach Cozy.

It's been interesting how "NCIS" has slowly come up through the ratings eclipsing its parent show, that had often been referred disdainfully as the program for retired folk just after Pablum time. "NCIS" just seems to be a different show consistently has elements of "CSI" and "Moonlighting" and even, to a certain crazed extent, "Sailor Moon", just in its plotting. I don't think anyone has ever seen such a fusion of drama, thriller and comedy in one series, and I think the viewers have finally seen the light, judging from the Neilsen ratings.
Wednesday October 21, 5:06 p.m.

A rather Humpless Day with only The Music Man as my student of the day. However, I've kept it interesting. Went over to the Gyotoku annex of Ichikawa City Hall, just one station over and a 5-minute walk, to renew my Gaijin Card. I was apparently taken care of by a reject from the Japanese rock band, GLAY...fiery Dragonball hair, open shirt and a pimp moustache. Nice enough guy, though.

Then, I headed to Kanda/Jimbocho and took a long browse over at Sanseido Books, one of the most famous bookstores in Tokyo. I hadn't been there in years...not too many changes, and still doesn't have quite the English-language book section that Kinokuniya or Maruzen does. Still, my main mission was to meet The Carolinan at 1 for lunch since she works nearby. She took me to a soup curry restaurant (the Japanese seem to like to reverse their word order for compound word dishes) which apparently had been recommended on TV by the currently "in" comedy duo, Audrey. The restaurant itself was one of the usual places squeezed in between old buildings. It had quite the Showa Era air about it...a lot of wood, old 20th-century art and kayo kyoku from the 60s playing in the background...very natsukashii.

Soup curry is as it sounds: it's not the usual spicy and thick concoction poured over a mound of rice. The rice is set aside while the curry is much more watery though it still retains that spiciness. I took the hamburg set, so there was a thick patty doused in my soup, while The Carolinan had the veggie set with carrots, potatoes, and broccoli. It was quite a good lunch to have in such an appealingly old-fashioned environment. Definitely worth another visit. I told my lunch partner that I would have to take her out to Foo Foo to return the favour tomorrow night. Since I only have one lesson at Speedy's in the morning, I'll be teaching her at the Shinjuku Starbucks a couple of hours after I'm done with her friend, The Bow. It would just be short walk to get to my favourite ramen place afterwards.

I've been teaching for over 22 years now, and I've had my spectrum of students: angry, overly peppy, nearly mute, very engaging, etc. But last night at the juku, I had my very first morbidly depressed session. As I've mentioned before, Mr. White has been battling his depression, and he came right at the time where he must have been at rock bottom. He came in hunched over, shuffling and shaking, and as soon as he sat down, he just started breaking down, wracked in sobs. Oh, boy...I kept myself calm since I'd already been advised about his condition by the boss and just let him get it all out, before I asked the boss to get a glass of water and call his wife.

I'd thought that it was probably prudent to have Mrs. White come with the car and pick her husband up, but instead, the missus advised me to teach him as long as possible to help get his confidence up. Apparently, Mr. White has been battling depression for five years, so if anyone knows how to handle him, it would be his wife. So, there was no protest from me...I just set back to work. Used kid gloves on him, of course. And I managed to get him through the lesson. His mood lightened somewhat although he was still very down on himself and spoke in little more than an anguished whisper. I offered to walk him home, but he politely declined. I just hoped he can control himself. After that class, I gained a lot of perspective in terms of my own life.

After lunch with The Carolinan, I went over to Shinjuku and picked up the CD for Cozy's textbook at Kinokuniya. I noticed that the days of the snaky lineup at Krispy Kreme #1 are over. There was only a 15-minute lineup. Also to use up some of those soon-to-be deleted points on my HMV card and bought a couple of jazz discs, one of them being the legendary (and legendarily complicated) Miles Davis' "Steamin". Just don't think I'll be able to listen to it until Friday at least.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tuesday October 20, 2:47 p.m.

Finally get to use the I-Cafe for a bit of recreational surfing other than the slog of translating as was the case last week. Haven't heard anything from The Cornerette yet so I can assume that she's making a long count to 10 before replying back.

Had The Beehive this morning. Mrs. Tee dropped in and was mostly mute for which she got a royal teasing from her friends. That's usually the case for her....not really much for conversing. She and The Medicine Man could make an Ingmar Bergman film just looking at each other. Yup, it was another teeth-pulling session with him last night.

I've got the usual juku crowd...or perhaps it would be more accurate to say just The Milds tonight. I'm not sure if Mr. White will be coming today on account of his depression. This could be the 3rd week running for him. I'll give the boss a call and see if he's indeed coming in.

Well, lunch is confirmed with The Carolinan for tomorrow in Jimbocho. I'll head over after I get the ball rolling on renewing the Gaijin Card. Yup, I didn't bother going after The Beehive session. I figure that I do have some time.
Monday October 19, 8:55 p.m.

I guess I really am making up for lost time. Daddy's Girl showed up...sign of the times...the reason she was absent for 5 months is that the entire temp staff got laid off so the permanent stuff, including her, had to pick up the slack. As it was, she was a bit more conversant than I remembered her back in her first two meetings.

It's just the Medicine Man now and then I'm done for the day.
Monday October 19, 6:06 p.m.

My second entry of the day...the first time I can boast that for a while. Daddy's Girl has delayed her arrival by an hour, so I'll be able to digitally twiddle my fingers for a bit longer.

La Fille and I shared the kitchen table for dinner. We had some of that cheese with those little peppers that Grandma Dynamite had given us last Thursday. Warmed up, it made for a fine topping on cracotte wafers. We also talked about the upcoming Halloween celebrations. La Fille and a friend were thinking about throwing a party on or near the day. She'd never carved out a Jack O'Lantern, so I gave her the basics. I think this might be the first year in a long time that I won't be pumpkin carving...kinda too bad since I now have a digital camera. I would've loved to have taken some photos, but then again, I can just bring home one for myself. There will be the annual Halloween parade down Omotesando...I may put my camera to good use there just before I head on over to The Jyuppies for their lesson on Sunday.

Had a level check last Friday with that high-powered lady Speedy had been talking to me about. She's the president of her own consulting company and used to be a journalist. She's quite the cheerful talker with a confidence not quite bordering on theh cocky. Pretty good English, too...kinda wonder why she would need lessons. It was almost like talking with a female Speedy. Not sure what she's gonna do and even if I would be able to squeeze her into my schedule.
Monday October 19, 4:23 p.m.

Man, what a week. Hardly blogged in since I was spending most of it tackling that supposed translation from The Cornerette, only to get the equivalent of a cease-and-desist order from her. Too late, I spent 10 hours over my weekend getting it done and sent over to her. It turned out that I misread her instructions, and that the assignment hadn't come in yet. I think this would be the point where that muted trumpet sound would start sounding. Well, I sent my apologies and just said that if the assignment does come in, she's lucky since it's already done. I was perhaps a bit cheeky about it, but that is a much preferable reaction from me compared to how I would have reacted a decade ago, when I would probably have sent every epithet imaginable at her.
But then again, it may be just as well that I did jump the gun since I'm not quite sure what the next few weeks are gonna bring in terms of teaching work. For some reason, I've started getting rather busy again with Cozy and Swank becoming regular students among other things.

It's another different scene now on Monday mornings. Up until the Spring this year, for the past decade, it was the sessions with The Class Act at The New Otani and then The Lady's palatial mansion. Now, it's meeting Swank at Roppongi Hills. I've just had her for the past month, but it's looking pretty good. She loves to absorb vocabulary, the more complex the better, and we usually start gabbing about our own personal situations. Today, it was on how much our mothers annoy us. So I get a psychology session AND money. Speaking of Roppongi Hills, the annual Tokyo International Film Festival has gotten under way, not that I'd heard much about it. However, I did notice an increase of well-suited foreigners in the plaza.

This week will be government stuff. Tomorrow, I gotta go to Ichikawa City Hall and renew my Gaijin Card (officially the Alien Registration Card). I got the ball rolling today by taking a few passport photos at the automatic, did I get old, and it looks like 5 years of orthodontics were largely wasted since it seems that my lower jaw has decided to move back a few degrees left of centre. The trip shouldn't be too painful, but then I've got my annual physical in Gyotoku on Friday. Oh, that should be a barrel of laughs...for the nurses. Ever seen what an E.T. body really looks like?

In the midst of all of the craziness surrounding that translation, I did manage to watch a couple of flicks on cable...both of them would probably be considered to be "No Cigar, but Nice Try" movies. One was "Spy Game", that flick with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt (two generations of heartthrobs) directed by Tony Scott. It was good enough to watch at home, but I think the marketing department had screwed up. It's really not that much of an action flick, more of a 70s-style intrigue with most of the movie being devoted to flashbacks and intra-Langley hijinks. It was almost pathetic how Redford's character managed to make his colleagues look like the Keystone Kops.

The second flick was "The Black Dahlia". The powers-that-be really turned on the 40s film noir for this one, maybe even more so than "L.A. Confidential". Still, I think the writers got a little too carried away with the de rigueur plot twists at the end. It turned out to be a ping pong game with Josh Hartnett as the white ball.

I have The Medicine Man tonight in the final slot, but before him, I've got a student who'd only been here twice before putting on a disappearing act in late Spring. I can't even remember if I even gave her a code name. I just remember her telling me that her father had given her a BMW. So I guess Daddy's Girl might be good for her.