Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday November 20, 2:11 p.m.

Well, had a good session with The Bass in terms of the new text. We're going rather analog with some old News Tapes the next 6 months should be in check. The Bass is good that way; he's straight with what he wants but he's nice about it.

Had lunch at the Burger King across from JR Funabashi. I saw yet another foreigner behind the counter speaking very fluent Japanese while taking my order. Not that I mind it at all, but I also saw a Eastern European woman and a South Asian man doing the same thing back on Monday morning at McDonalds. It's amazing how things have changed in 15 years.

The Doctor Who community on Mixi has seen a considerable uptick in activity since David Tennant's 3rd-last episode in his tenure as The Tenth Doctor was shown a couple of days ago. Apparently, it's a pretty significant ep since it basically shows the good Doctor having a nervous breakdown, or the Time Lord equivalent of it. My DW friend and I had a good talk about what's to happen in the next few months for this programme.

Seems like the Japanese Miss Universe contestant has entered the world of Paris Hilton and Rob Lowe with her own sex tape with one other contestant and her boyfriend. Well, that is so 1990s. That woman from "Ugly Betty" beat her to the punch years ago when she was in the Miss America pageant.
Thursday November 19, 8:57 p.m.

An off-kilter day, all in all. The Nurse was fine...told me about all that all-you-can-eat tempura restaurant that she and her hubby had gone to a few weeks ago. I'll have to remember Tenta for future reference. However, things started going a bit pear-shaped when Grandma FON missed half the lesson since she had some sudden errands that needed to get done.

Had lunch at that Chinese eatery in the basement of the Maynds Tower for the first time in a while. Glad to see that the 950 yen for their lunch specials is still holding. Went upstairs to the Starbucks where I taught The Bow. Looks like she'll be staying with Dyson a little while longer than expected since her supervisor continues to need a stable hand while the company goes through a bit of turmoil with the delayed launch of their bladeless fan.

There was some further offing to my kilter in Ichigaya when I taught The New Yorker. She was rather out to lunch on the homework, and it didn't help that even the 5 o'clock slot had the Tully's crowded to the gills with folks. I was feeling a bit down at the fact that I've been teaching this one for close to 5 years and yet she can't pull together decent questions and answers. But the real disappointment came with Mr. TOEIC tonight. There's nothing more depressing when a student comes raring to go and then finds out that he flunked his test. That smile disappeared in a hurry, so I had to ease him down gently although I could still feel some tension from him at the end. Ironic since 24 hours earlier, The Music Man had just scored a perfect mark on his test.

Well, I'm done for the day but La Fille has some work that she has to get done, and since I'm the only one with the keys. I wasn't planning to head out immediately anyways since the evening rush hour is still going on.

The tough part will continue tomorrow with The Bass since we've completed the last text and we have to come up with a new curriculum. He still wants to work on Listening although since his lessons are cafe-based, it's not easy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thursday November 19, 9:11 a.m.

It's definitely looking like November out there today. Overcast, cold and gloomy...reminds me of a Toronto November day. But at least, they can get The Santa Claus Parade over there.

Fairly heavy lineup today. I've got The Nurse, Grandma FON and Mr. TOEIC here at Speedy's while I have to go outbound for The Bow and The New Yorker at two different cafes. I will definitely need my sleep tonight. However, there's always a chance that Mr. TOEIC could cancel out at the last minute, but even if he doesn't, I get to finish at 8:30 instead of last night's 11 p.m.

My entry on Xmas in Mixi certainly got a lot of happy responses from folks. I guess the Japanese are very sentimental about their adopted holiday. I always aims to please. Speaking of the Yuletide in Tokyo, I just read that after an absence of 11 years, Xmas illumination will be returning to Omotesando, which would be a real surprise since the reason that it had been taken down was that the humongous crowds just made it unbearable for the residents who actually lived there. I could understand their feeling. In my first Xmas in Tokyo in 1994, I went down with Chip Guy on Xmas Eve to see what all the fuss was about on Tokyo's widest promenade. Well, the fuss included thousands of young couples being herded down Omotesando like cattle to a slaughterhouse. And it was just as romantic. The cops were yelling at everyone to move along while Chip Guy and I were trapped in a sea of youth. Oh, so this is Christmas in the world's largest city. And of course, being December 24th, finding a restaurant to have dinner was kinda like finding a snowflake in a desert...pretty next to impossible. After creeping down the avenue for 45 minutes (the usual walk would have taken 10), we had to settle for hamburgers at the local Lotteria. Not quite sure what the return of Xmas lights to Omotesando will signify.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wednesday November 18, 2:11 p.m.
It's been a relatively peaceful couple of days so far. My session with The Beehive yesterday was enhanced by Cozy's food analyst magazines. One of the features was on how to talk about sushi in English. The ladies mopped up on that vocabulary.
The rather fuzzy shot on the left is that of the LED-led Xmas illumination infiltrating Shinjuku. These rather electric blue trees can be found just across from Krispy Kreme #1. There was a 10-minute waiting line outside of the donut shop. Nothing says "Merry Xmas" more than loading up on empty calories.
As has been the case for the past few weeks, it was just The Milds at the juku last night. The boss told me that she had spoken to Mr. White's wife and that it was agreed that Mr. White will just take the rest of the year off to recuperate as best he can before he gives me another go. I can agree with that. As for The Milds, it was definitely Mr. Mild's show last night since he was rattling some of his diary at me followed by my giving him a copy of the Eiken 3 test and then lending him my book of idioms. He was looking at the book with an equal sense of wonder and dread...I guess awe would be the best word here.
The weather has finally gotten sunny after a few days of cold rain. I think the temperature only needed to go down a few more degrees before the whole thing would transform into a blizzard. And despite the fine day, the high is only gonna be around 14 today. That's pretty chilly for Tokyo.
I just have 001 and The Music Man, but I've been pretty busy with a bunch of errands. First off, I sent out some letters to some of my nengajo tomodachi....those "friends" who only make contact through the annual New Year's cards. As per custom whenever a relative passes on, I have to alert everyone that I won't be sending any cards and that the tomodachi should also refrain from sending any to me, lest bad karma hits all concerned. At the same time, I also finally got down to town on what to do about my mail during my absence. Since I no longer wanted to impose on folks like The Milds and the juku boss to pick up my mail over the Holidays, I checked with the neighbourhood post office. Fortunately, the night before, the boss was kind enough to write down what I should request for. And sure enough, I found out that Japan Post can actually hold mail for up to a month. All I had to do was fill out a form with just my name, address and the duration of my absence and that was all she wrote. Too easy! The postmaster there also asked me for some ID...he seemed a bit stern but that was understandable; it would be his head if there were any illegalities committed.
I headed over to Oazo in Otemachi once more. I had my pho at Com Pho. Found out that the place opened right from 9 a.m. Apparently, the salaried class around Tokyo Station don't mind searing their insides in the morning. I had the Spicy Pho with some added hot sauce. It didn't kill me but my mouth was rather numb for an hour or so. I got an early start to lunch at about 11, which was good since by noon, there was a sizable lineup outside the place.
I also went back into Maruzen to see if I could find a Listening-based book for The Bass. Found plenty of texts but nothing that would really challenge him. He was able to handle the intermediate stuff in his last text fairly well although he needed a few passes on the CD, but the material I found would just be insulting to him.
Then, it was one station over to Nihombashi to get a food gift for my newest Mixi friend. He had been kind enough to send over a burned CD of some Xmas music by Ruiko Kurahashi all the way back from 1991. Well, I couldn't just let that go unrewarded so I went into the depachika of Takashimaya and searched for something appropriate. I didn't want to overwhelm him by getting a 4,000-yen box of chocolates or a bottle of wine...when exchanging gifts in this country, parity is very important. So I got him a 1,000-yen bag of Shiseido Xmas chocolates and had it sent out by Yamato Express right from the booth. The Mixi friend left his return address on the envelope that the CD had come in, but I had to look up the postal number. Otherwise, it was clear sailing.
And looks like the Xmas party is a go with the Speedy bunch. It's gonna be held at a restaurant called Ken's Cafe in Shinjuku. According to the website, it looks pretty trendy and there is a not-unreasonable set.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday November 16, 7:01 p.m.
Yes, Xmas is in the air...or in the retail areas of Tokyo, at least. This tree is in the Oazo Mall just across from Tokyo Station. Japan is very much into the Xmas spirit. The nighttime illumination is also out in force in Shinjuku.
Yesterday, I had the second half of one of my MB weekends in Jiyugaoka. MB, me and The Sylph had breakfast in a new place called Cafe Copenhagen. Nice breakfast set: coffee, bagel with butter, and homemade yogurt with honey and nuts. I also had one of their slices of apple pie to seal the deal. It would've been perfect if only The Sylph and MB didn't get into an argument in front of me (to be accurate, The Sylph sniffily chewed MB out about something stupidly silly...the usual couple can see my views on marriage have remained unchanged). But the storm quickly dissipated as soon as it had appeared.
While The Sylph went out to meet her friends for lunch, MB and I just doodled around on his latest game purchase, Marvel Alliance II. I don't get to play games much so it was nice getting out some stress by doing some whup-ass as Ironman and Daredevil. Then, the two of us went over one station to Den'en-Chofu to try out a new culinary discovery called Katsukyu, a tonkatsu restaurant. Not exactly cheap at 2,400 yen but the hirekatsu set was very tasty and plentiful. Usually hire katsu is pretty lean and therefore there is a possibility of getting something a little too dry, but this one came out pretty juicy for a hire...almost ranked in as a rosu. And the de rigueur miso soup was made with aka (red) miso, always a sign of class in such an establishment. The two of us basically waddled our way back to the apartment. It was then another round of Marvel Alliance before I headed back home.
It was another early wake-up call this morning since I had Cozy in Toyocho. At the end of the lesson, he was kind enough to give me some of his food analyst magazines. Yep, you heard me. There are such people around...people who undergo through seminar-based training and restaurant-based experience to get qualification as food analysts. According to one of the magazines, these folks can help out in anything from food design to cuisine blogs and secret supermarket inspections. TV personality tarento Kaoru Manabe is the celeb representative; I usually see her hawking zit cream on TV. If her food credentials include chocolate ingesting, then she truly is a shrewd operator. In any case, Cozy's contribution goes back to our dinner with the juku boss a couple of months ago when he noticed me taking pictures of the dishes. Frankly, though I do like cuisine, I'm not sure if I would go the lengths to become a food analyst to know that I like the stuff.
Now, on another topic, I went down to that huge post office across from Tokyo Station to see if I could get some questions answered about Japan Post being able to hold onto my mail during my absence over the Holidays...only to find out that the big building is under demolition. Well, I guess I'll have to do more investigating via Internet then. I did some further walking around Ginza and then lunch before I headed to see SIL. SIL and I had a bonanza of stuff to talk about since last week was chock-full of news: Obama, Ichihashi, Akihito, etc. I think amongst all of my students, SIL is probably the most in-tune when it comes to Japanese pop culture, quite something considering that she's in her mid-50s, but then again a lot of her knowledge is based in the 60s/70s/80s, also my era.
...which reminds me when I was browsing around in the DVD area of Yamano Music. Recently, the various TV stations have been releasing box sets of some of the old shows. I came across a new set of a variety show that I'd watched pretty religiously 20 years back. The program, "Yamada Katsutenai Terebi", featured Kuniko Yamada, back then the Queen of Variety. The lantern-jawed comedienne was basically the Carol Burnett of Japan, and every Wednesday night on Fuji-TV back during my Gunma days, I turned on the telly at 9 p.m. to watch her and her Vicki, Lyle, Tim and Harvey....otherwise known as tarento Toru Watanabe, Hiroko Moriguchi, Hikaru Nishida and Tsutomu Sekine (the last one still quite active and now with a daughter, Mari, becoming a familiar face on contemporary primetime), horse about and showcasing some of the now-natsukashii singers who were hitting the top of the pops: Kan and Mariko Nagai. I feel rather tempted in getting the box set but, of course, 10,000 yen has to give me pause.
After SIL, I went over to Shinjuku to pick up the latest issue of "Hikaru no Go" at Kinokuniya and then browse around for a potential replacement text for The Bass. When I made my purchase, I found out that the bookstore has finally gotten onto the point card bandwagon. Sure enough, outside, there was plenty of LED Xmas illumination all over South Shinjuku.
Got over to Speedy's. The bossman finally got the Xmas party set for December 6th, a rare Sunday at a place called Ken's Cafe in Shinjuku. He and the missus tried to get in to check the place out but it had already been rented out for a wedding party. Perhaps a good sign.
Also found out that the last weekend of the month will be a very social one. On the 28th, I'm heading to a nabe party at the house of my old university friend, The Socialite, and then the next day, I've been invited indirectly by a probably-former student, Ms. Honolulu, to her apartment in Shinagawa. Apparently, my reputation has preceded me...Mrs. Speedy told me that Ms. Honolulu wants me to come over as early as possible to entertain her friends with my comedic regaling. Ay, ya!
I've got Medicine Man in a couple of hours. I just don't know what to do with that guy. Told me last class, he really doesn't want to talk about himself in class. Sheesh...why bother learning English then?