Friday, October 30, 2009

Saturday October 31, 11:57 a.m.

Yep, it's another Halloween. I'm pretty sure places like Roppongi and Shinjuku got a head start last night and maybe from earlier in the week with all of the partying. I've even done my own contributions with my own pumpkin carving as you can see in light and night modes. Didn't take too long...just a little under an hour before my pumpkin from National Azabu Supermarket was transformed into a Jack O'Lantern.

Conversations with the students this past week have touched upon on how Halloween has quickly insinuated itself into the Japanese festival season. Just within the last decade, the annual Witching Hour has gone from one of the many curious little things that gaijin celebrate (usually for one circuit on the Yamanote Line here in Tokyo) to this annual event that frenzies all of the major entertainment areas in the big cities. No big plans here for me, but I just plan to hit Roppongi at the right time tonight and see if I can take some pics of the hilarity that will ensue.
Yesterday, I just had one student at Speedy's...Miss Prissy, who had kindly given me a no-calorie chocolate cake for my birthday (gee, how did she ever pick up on my need for no-calorie?). She's also one of those students who has a molasses-like fluency but at least she makes an overtly gigantic effort while The Medicine Man just sits there with a perplexed look on his face for several seconds (perhaps even a minute?) before he gives up. Guess which one I'm more impressed with?
Only have The Publicity Assistant today. Not sure if she'll be attending any of the Halloween activities tonight. Afterwards, I'll probably be working on some more stuff for Eiken before I take off.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thursday October 29, 12:02 p.m.

Finished with Grandma Dynamite. Again like the last time, the two hours went pretty smoothly more or less. Looks like she'll be going with the double-lesson format. Officially, I'm now off for the day, but I wanted to tackle a bit more of the Eiken 1 project before heading on off for National Azabu Supermarket.

Like Mr. Mild, Grandma Dynamite has taken up the slow, graceful hobby of tai chi. She's been going to a neighbourhood park, Zenpukuji Park, on Sunday mornings and practicing with 29 other folks. Unlike Mr. Mild, she's gotten into it. Mr. Mild told me on Tuesday night that he probably won't continue it himself since it just seems a bit too languid for his style. He's more into cycling all over the place, so just standing still and moving in slow motion would seem a bit out of league with him.

Thursday October 29, 8:12 a.m.
Ahhh...Tokyo truly has the plethora of cuisines. Burgers with Shrek at Brozer's and then pai ko tan tan men with The Carolinan at Foo Foo. It is no wonder that metabolic syndrome has taken permanent hold on the populace nowadays, yours truly included.
Found out via Mixi that The Bohemian is currently in Vietnam to meet a friend. Apparently, he has overindulged himself in Ho Chi Minh City...hopefully, just of the culinary variety. I really don't need to see him on TV.
Since Daddy's Girl has once again gone into hiding, I've only got Grandma Dynamite for the two hours this morning. I'll probably spend some time afterwards doing that Eiken 1 project, before I head on out to Hiroo to pick up a pumpkin. I'd entertained some second thoughts about going, since it seems rather frivolous to carve a pumpkin for oneself, but then I figured, it's my life and I can do whatever I want. Plus, National Azabu Supermarket has far more variety in its stock (no pun intended) of Campbell Soups than any other regular supermarket. And in addition, it'll be nice to be focused on something other than teaching on a Thursday night.
Wednesday October 28, 8:37 p.m.

Did forget to mention my night at the juku last night. It was perhaps the first time that I'd actually seen the boss look pretty frustrated. Apparently, she hasn't been having a good time with her new computer...I think she upgraded a little too high with that MS Vista, and she's nowhere near a computer expert. The last couple of times I've come over, she's sheepishly asked me to help her out on some rather simple tasks. She apparently got into a bit of a fight with an old friend who had come over to help out on Sunday because her friend thought the boss was getting herself too much of a tizzy about her new electronic monster. I would tend to agree to a certain point. I'm no expert myself but I at least know the meaning of the word "scan". The boss is a bit worried about her emotional state since pre-operation, she would have let such a thing just slide off her back. Now, she just gets herself into a lather about one simple operation on a computer.

Wednesday October 28, 7:58 p.m.
These two pictures are from my Saturday foray into Akiba at that festival. The one on the left is of the Tokyo Anime Centre. Since the government has officially cancelled the project to make that huge museum devoted to anime, it looks like the TAC will be it for the next while...or the next election. The one on the right is of that concert outside of the UDX Building where these two performers dressed like anime space pilots were plying their stuff while the rabid fans were literally throwing themselves all over...a lot of them looked a lot older than teenagers, too.
It's been a pretty nice day. Had a bit of a logistical nightmare earlier in the day, though, when I ran a bit overtime with The Magician and had to race to the station to pick up The New Yorker. Hopefully, The Magician wasn't too offended if I'd seemed to have been rushing things. Otherwise, The New Yorker was in fine fettle and then The German and I had a lot of things to gab about as usual. The Businesswoman came in for the first time in 4 months. Looks like she's coming back into the fold since she's started at a new position at a university. She's going away from the Business English and just wants to work on general fluency.
001 surprise there. And even Daddy's Girl has canned her lesson for tomorrow night, which means that after Grandma Dynamite tomorrow morning, I'm done. It looks like I can just head over to National Azabu and grab that pumpkin. Basically, I've been doing a lot of housekeeping on Mixi and here for the past few hours, but I should be headed on my way home in another hour.
Mao Asada, the world champion figure skater and national darling, seems to be in a tailspin instead of a triple axel. A sports columnist for "The Japan Times" wrote an article pleading with the skater to dump her current coach, a famed Russian woman who now seems to have lost her edge. If even the English media are starting to get worried, then I can only imagine how the Japanese media with their jerky knees must be feeling. They probably want to hang the Russian by her thumbs at this point, especially since it's Mao. I was struck by one comment by Jack Gallagher: "Mao is revered in Japan because she possesses the unique combination of beauty, ability and innocence that this country so loves." I can imagine that point for a lot of folks...including currently defrocked Noriko Sakai. That so-called unique combination goes a long way in explaining everything from aidoru to Maid Cafes. As for Ms. Asada, she's virtually a tarento with all of the appearances she's made on TV...mostly in commercials. For her to lose her place at the Olympics would send the sponsors into apoplexy. I think Gallagher also made an interesting point in that Mao is back here in Japan where she's got as much celeb clout and attention as Brad Pitt does in America. That would definitely distract the kid...better that she's out of the nation as a virtually unknown presence in either Canada or the States.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday October 26, 8:39 p.m.

It's been a long, soggy Monday. I guess that would be perfect for the Carpenters ditty "Rainy Days and Mondays". Typhoon 20 is supposed to be just grazing the Pacific Coast tomorrow morning, but it's been leaving quite the calling card so far. My shoes are gonna be properly waterlogged by the time I get home tonight.

I had Cozy for his regular early-morning lesson. Despite the bleary-eyed nature of his classes, he's been a fine student. Can't really complain. Afterwards, I just headed straight back home; it's saying something when I'm coming home from a lesson and the supermarket is still not open yet. I spent the next 6 hours just doing some household stuff.

Once again, fallen aidoru Noriko "Nori-P" Sakai has usurped the news cameras from PM Hatoyama. Our new "alien" leader launched the first day of an extraordinary session of Parliament with his policy speech. However, NHK was the only one to pick it up as the commercial networks en masse went with Nori-P's first appearance in court to face the music against those drug charges. Since this isn't America, cameras weren't allowed in the courtroom, so it was left to young athletic reporters to come charging out in relay teams to breathlessly spit out the goings-on inside. Hatoyama was talking about the future of Japan, the reporters for Nori-P were talking about her clothes and make-up. Such is the state of J-journalism. BTW, the prosecution is calling for 2 years in prison for Sakai, although most likely she's gonna get it suspended. All she has to do is to flash that cute smile of hers, and the judges are hers.

Well, I've got The Medicine Man in about 40 minutes. I'm hoping against hope that he'll be far more lucid than he was last week. I've got some more review with him before I give him the big test. I just heard from Speedy that The Businesswoman may be thinking of coming back into the fold again...after the paycheck I got today, any return by long-lost students would be very welcome.

Monday October 26, 8:24 p.m.
Sunday may have been the visit to Omotesando but the day before was something different altogether. After my session with The Intellectual, I decided to take the train over to Akihabara, as I am occasionally wont to do. Apparently, during the same time that The Tokyo International Film Festival was on, the Otaku Mecca had its own Entertainment Festival. I went there on the 2nd last day. Most of the festa (as the Japlish would have it) took place at the UDX Building, one of the two twin towers that now occupy like Akiba like two dismembered legs from a Gundam. There was a huge mass waiting for some sort of event while there were some stands selling anime stuff but otherwise, there wasn't a whole heck of a lot going on inside.
However, just outside of the UDX was another matter...and that refers to the upper-left hand picture. The 1st floor is occupied by a Chinese restaurant and a Tully's so the crowd is atypically (for Akiba) well-heeled showing some of the new Akihabara. However at the time I got there, some of the old Akiba showed its well-worn face. What looked like something that usually takes place in front of the @Home Cafe was happening in front of that Tully's. A couple of women in space-age outfits was strutting their stuff in front of an adoring (all male) mob. While the girls were wailing away in their mikes, the fan(atics) were just throwing themselves all over the place; I would say that they were just as entertaining as the girls on stage. It's become a custom for Akiba idols to have their cheering section throw their bodies around like interpretive dancers and spit out practiced lines and slogans like a bunch of hirsute cheerleaders. Of course, there were quite a lot of folks training their cellphone cameras on the sight of otaku going nuts. There were a number of uniformed teens looking on rather amusedly and bemusedly. I think a teen's biggest fear would be peering into that mass of black-shirted otakudom and then suddenly crying out "DAD?!"

Monday October 26, 6:31 p.m.
Rotten weather outside due to the effects of Typhoon No. 20. Must be Halloween Week. Went to Omotesando yesterday morning before my session with The Jyuppies to see if I could take some pics of the annual Halloween Parade there. The rain and gloom certainly added to the festive mood but I'd had doubts whether the event could come off. However, when I saw the steady stream of kids and parents come up from the subway, I don't think the organizers could've cancelled it if they had tried. Yup, the entire city has its fair share of orange-and-black decorations, including Jack O'Lanterns strewn all about.
It's amazing how Halloween has taken hold least in the past 15 years. When I came here in 1994, there was no sign of the Great Pumpkin anywhere. There was that custom of drunken foreigners hijacking one car of the Yamanote Line for one loop on the 31st, much to the bemusement of normal passengers and JR staff. That may have been nipped in the bud, but since then, Halloween parties have been popping up like mushrooms over the last decade-and-a-half.
When I was at the old school, I started up the tradition of carving pumpkins and getting the students in their Halloween finest. No such luck here at Speedy's since we don't have nearly the quantities of students. No new students to show my Jack O'Lantern abilities but I may still brave the elements tomorrow after my physical (provided that I can still walk after that and no breakfast) just to head over to National Azabu Supermarket in Hiroo and pick up a gourd to carve all by myself. I've already gotten into the spirit of things by watching "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".