Friday, November 27, 2009

Saturday November 28, 1:38 p.m.

The Intellectual seemed a bit less talkative today but that was still way more lucid than some folks such as The Medicine Man. Since the chapter was on animals today, and specifically on cruelty towards them, the topic of the dolphin massacre in Taiji was brought up. No real tension but I let my opinion be known that I hope that particular "custom" dies a quick death after the release of the movie.

Now, I've got a few hours to kill before I head on out for the nabe party. I've been checking in on Mixi. Looks like I hit the motherlode of active communities when I signed up on the overall Movies Community. Topic responses seem to pour in by the half-hour. However, Roger Ebert need not lose any sleep; a lot of the chatter have revolved around fave flicks and a couple of shiritori games involving movies and actors. The number of folks enlisted in it is over 100,000, the population of one of Toronto's suburbs. Meanwhile, my Ruiko Kurahashi community barely rates hamlet status.

Earlier this morning, I caught the first half-hour of a 10-year-old movie called "The Bone Collector" with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. It's hard to believe that those are now a decade older...they seemed not to have aged. Denzel has gained some heft although that was more because of his role on "The Taking of Pelham 123". In any case, for this flick, I'm just catching it in bits and pieces. I caught the last 10 minutes of it one night, the middle portion another night and now the beginning. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get the entire movie fit together like a jigsaw eventually.
Saturday November 28, 11:06 a.m.

Just got the one today here at Speedy's...The Intellectual. After that, I've got my ol' university buddy's nabe party beyond Ikebukuro. It'll be the first one for the pot is always good when the temps drop. Got my favourites in yosenabe and mizutaki. The latter is the one that my family usually goes for....just some boiling water, Chinese cabbage, tofu, and chicken; simple yet so satisfying. Yosenabe is the de rigueur hot pot over here...kinda like the Hot Pot 101 for beginners. It has a bit more stuff in it like salmon or firm white fish, and green onions boiling away in some fish broth. However, the piece de resistance is at the very end of the meal when the chef mixes in some beaten eggs with some extra broth and then adds either udon or rice to create a great porridge...tastes even better the next day for breakfast.

Last night, I had my usual dinner at The Restauranteur's was the Beef Stroganoff this time. And I had my 2.5 hours of work since I was pulling double classes with The Restauranteur and The Ace. I'll be doing the same next week to make up for the time I'm away in December.

Today's "Japan Times" had a 1-page article on what could be the slow fall from grace of Scientology; I wouldn't bet money on its demise just yet...the media just love to prematurely pounce on anything or anyone who dares dis the Fourth Estate. Still being a cheerful atheist, I was eating up the fact that there have been some fairly high-level defections from Hubbard's House of Horrors of late....although Tom and John are still quite esconced.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Friday November 27, 1:14 p.m.

Well, I'm 2 for 2 in the model lessons. Scored my newest student earlier this morning. The Do-Gooder is a middle-aged lady who would be just at home with The Beehive. She's fluent although not perfect and likes to absorb vocabulary. Went through the whole gamut with her and got the good word from Ray who was handling the deal.

So I treated myself to one of those calorie-laden bento for the almost obscene price of 400 yen and am enjoying a bit of Internet before I head on out to Nakano Broadway.

Looks like that Speedy bonenkai is a bit low on attendance so far. So far, we've got just some of the Grandmas and a handful; at this point, the staff outnumber the students.
Friday November 27, 9:19 a.m.

Back at the office to take care of a lone model lesson in about an hour. The bossman reminded me that I needn't have to go to the regular text for the model, so I've set food as my theme and will have the student go through the hoops with count/non-count, imperatives and tastes & textures as the tools.

Looks like my weekend will be entering Holiday mode even before December arrives. On Saturday, I'm going to the house of my old university friend, Seiko-chan, for a nabe party. I had gone there much earlier in the year in a driving rain so I'm hoping that the weather will be a whole lot more cooperative.

Then, I'm supposed to be going to the apartment of my former student, Miss Honolulu, on Sunday in Shinagawa for some sort of party. Not sure if she had invited any other former student from Speedy's, but at this point, I'm assuming that I'll be going in without knowing anyone there...never a favorite time for me. Speedy and his missus will be coming but some hours later. I kinda feel like I'm going in as the entertainment.

I've got double lessons with the juku students, The Ace & The Restauranteur, tonight since I have to make up lessons in December due to my vacation back home. Still, I'll have a lot of free time between the end of the model lesson and their lessons, so I may just drop into Nakano Broadway one last time for the year and see if there are any bargain-basement CDs to be had.
Thursday November 26, 8:25 p.m.

End to a rather steady day. Finished up with the Sisters of State. Neither met the other in passing...since there were 20 minutes between the departure of the New Yorker and the arrival of the Carolinan. The bossman remarked that my scribblings on the whiteboards for both sisters were markedly different in terms of vocabulary level. That's a bit of an understatement.

Just about ready to head on home but I don't particularly want to hit smack dab into the second major rush hour so I may decide to stay another hour or so as nuts as that may sound. Even more nuts is that I may have to have another dinner at the Golden Arches since I'm not that all that enthused about the other choices out there.

I've got that model lesson student tomorrow morning. She's an older woman and perhaps somewhat less challenging than The Toughie yesterday afternoon. Still, such thinking can lull me into a false sense of security. I'll have to brush up on that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thursday November 26, 3:26 p.m.

I've still got The Sisters of State to teach in about 90 minutes but I'm already feeling rather knackered after having both Grandma FON and then Grandma Dynamite. Both of them are back in form...just prattling away at warp speed. Even Ray and La Fille have also tasted the mighty speed of their tongues on the phone when the grannies have made their appointments. Most of the Grandmas are coming to the party on the 6th...FON is still an uncertain, but Grandma Enka is a definite out since her husband is of the old school which means that she must accompany him to his own bonenkai.
Yup, that is indeed the display case at a Krispy Kreme branch...the one in Shibuya right inside the theater complex...a stroke of genius. MB, Skippy, The Bride and I went there after "Inglorious Basterds" to grab some donuts, especially since MB had never had one of those cholesterol bombs before. The place was crowded but only because it had collected the group coming from the movie. Actually, those days of 2-hour-long lineups are now largely gone, even at the No. 1 branch in Shinjuku. People still have to line up but these are much more reasonable now. It's hard to believe that we're approaching the 3rd anniversary since this dying franchise limped into Japan and basically regenerated like Doctor Who to become this wildly successful behemoth.
I've been faithfully listening to Xmas music, both Western and Japanese. The one that I've been putting on heavy rotation is "Christmas Carol no koro ni wa" (Around The Time of the Christmas Carols) by AOR crooner Jun'ichi Inagaki. He shares a point with another J-Pop legend, Tatsuro Yamashita, in that both singers are probably more on the summery side of AOR and yet their most famous tunes are Xmas-y in nature. Unlike a lot of the J-Pop Xmas tunes, it isn't a ballad at all; instead it is this rather driving tune which seems incongruous with its original purpose of being the main theme for a trendy drama of nearly 2 decades back called "Homework" which has been shown on reruns recently on the cable version of TBS. I saw the opening credits of the drama and it has the tune playing while the main characters are cavorting as either university students or shinjinrui in distinctly non-Xmas weather. I think the tune is far more suited for some sort of action series taking place during the Yuletide....a Japanese "Die Hard" perhaps.

Wednesday November 25, 9:14 p.m.
Yeah, might seem a month early for Xmas for this sort of menu, but this was actually for Thanksgiving. Yep, this is the high cholesterol dinner I had back on Sunday at the Roppongi Hard Rock Cafe. It was a bit of a contest to get all this down with coffee and cola but I succeeded if barely.
Well, that model lesson with Toughie was a success since I am using her code name here. And yep, as a president of her own consulting company, she had the demeanor of a friendly but pretty fierce lady. I told her so which surprised (and I suspect, delighted) the lass. In any case, she's on board but I won't have her first lesson until the New Year, which suits me fine.
001 was quite a nice person to come home to (slangily speaking of course) after getting through that model lesson. Lots of fun as usual.
I'm just about ready to call it quits for the day. Tomorrow, Grandma Dynamite has shifted her lesson over to the afternoon which means I can still get up at a rather decent time. I've also Grandma FON and then The Sisters of State. I asked the elder sister, The Carolinan, whether she and her sibling would like to go to Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi for that Thanksgiving dinner since they're both birthday purveyors of the place but she politely declined. I already had my fill of the stuff so I'm OK.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wednesday November 25, 3:34 p.m.

The bad karma continues to hang over us like a low cloud. We still haven't found that rogue text. I even made a flash visit to Kinokuniya over in Shinjuku to see if I could just buy it there, but true to today's luck, of all of the various books in the series, that text was the only one sold out. So, basically, all I got out of it was just a good 40-minute workout.
Wednesday November 25, 1:30 p.m.

Could be that some bad karma has landed on my circumstances. I'd suspected something was up existentially when I found out that I'd forgotten to pay my gas bill (2 weeks overdue); there was one other thing but can't quite remember. Now I find out from the bossman that one of the texts for that big model lesson later today is missing. Not that it is a huge disaster, but it would've been nice to consult before the prospective student comes in.

Then I found out over lunch from the bossman that that needed extra funding from The Patent Attorney has fallen through since it looks like his company has also been in the doldrums. So, it may be possible that I might be coming back from Canada to an empty school. Such is life.
Wednesday November 25, 11:14 a.m.

A month before Xmas...and there is a Hump Day here at Speedy's, although it's not necessarily mine. True, I have a rather important model lesson with a president of some sort of media company later this afternoon but it's just her and then 001. The Hump Day really lies with everyone else here since the bossman is swamped with counseling sessions. He even asked me to take Grandma Enka's lesson in 15 minutes since he needs the extra time to head to the bank. I think all of us will have to be a little extra nice to him, lest he implodes by the end of the day.

Usually when I head over to the station from home, I walk along the street that's filled with the bars. In recent years, there was some sort of attempt to make it a little more family-oriented, via the appearance of a cafe/playroom for the toddler set. It was ironically built just across from a hostess bar (Dad goes this way, the wife and kids go the other), and I would often see the kids just playing around in the indoor jungle gym while the mothers would have a respite at the cafeteria tables chatting away. I thought it was a good idea, especially in these uncertain times when the outdoor playgrounds have attracted their fair share of paedophiles and psychos. Unfortunately, in the past month, it has become apparent that the project has come to an abrupt end. Some weeks ago, the place was empty again with a telephone number asking for any potential tenants. However, the boxing gym next to it still seems to be doing quite well.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tuesday November 24, 1:07 p.m.

Been a while.

On Saturday, I met up with Skippy, and another former student, The Bridesmaid in Shibuya. We had dinner at a small burger joint called Pakutsch...sounds Russian, but I think it's a riff on the Japanese sound of popping in a burger in one's mouth. Their Pakutsch burger wasn't too bad on either the palate or the wallet. Skippy is apparently finishing up her time at her latest company after 18 months; she's given up on dealing with her boss. I can understand her feelings completely after my 7 years at the ol' school. Skippy should be fine, though; she always seems to land on her feet even in these financially troubled times.

MB, our fourth, was late in coming from that speech contest of his so he missed out on the burgers but made it for our viewing of "Inglorioius Basterds" (gee, did I misspell it correctly?) at the nearby theatre. As I recall, "Kill Bill" didn't exactly get the greatest reaction from the locals here since parody/satire don't travel particularly well overseas to Japan, so I wasn't sure what this film was gonna be like. As far I was concerned, all the hype surrounding Quentin's latest was surrounding the fact that Brad Pitt was in it.

As it was, "Inglorious Basterds" was pure Tarentino....a lot of chatter conservatively interspersed with brief moments of ultraviolence and, of course, a scene involving a woman's foot....this time, the IT girl was Diane Kruger. That one scene in the basement bar almost got me to the breaking point of boredom before the shootout finally got under way. I was virtually begging for another scalping scene. Brad Pitt was fun to watch and listen to as Lt. Aldo Ray, and Eli Roth just looked like Zachary Quinto's younger and more evil brother. However, it was the fellow who played Colonel Landa who got my attention. It says something when the villain is the most charming character in the movie. All in all, not a bad movie, and MB could finally say that he was actually could like this of only two or three he liked all year.

Back in my days in Canada, I could always look forward to turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not anymore. Even my forays back home over The Holidays are now pretty much turkey-less. For one thing, my mother isn't exactly in the mood to cook up a roast due to age, and my sister-in-law is simply not a turkey fan. So I'm out of least in The Great White North. However, I have options in Roppongi...namely the Hard Rock Cafe. I went there on Sunday since they have an American Thanksgiving dinner deal during this week. So a typically gray gloomy afternoon, I went over to HRC and got my annual shichimencho fix. The waitress told me that I would have to wait 20 minutes. Heck, no problem....I've been waiting nearly 2 years.

So what did I get for my 1800 yen? I got three huge slices of seasoned roast turkey with veggies, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. The piece de resistance was plentiful gravy poured into the "cup" of mashed potatoes and all over the slices. In other words, I was quite satisfied. In fact, in the three forays I've made for restaurant-based turkey dinners in The Big Sushi, Hard Rock Cafe was the most inexpensive and the best. ROTI was just too expensive to enjoy (I think the chefs must've enjoyed what I paid on their own turkey dinners), and I still sting from that lousy greeting that I got from the hostess at the erstwhile Fujimamas a few years ago. I was fairly full from the meal...and this was without any rolls...but I took a chance on having dessert. And it was a big-ass apple cobbler. I almost felt like Mr. Creosote from that Monty Python movie by the end of my epic meal...should've held off. I certainly didn't need to eat anything more for the rest of that Sunday.

While I lay on my sofa like a roast turkey on that Sunday, I ended up watching my DVD of "Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels", one of the best comedies I've seen in the last half-century. Not easy to imagine Sir Michael Caine being totally comedic these days, especially his latest role as a geriatric Charles Bronson in "Harry Brown", but he did great funny with Steve Martin 2 decades ago.

Yesterday, I had my lessons at The Jyuppies...the last ones for the year and the last ones with them in soon-to-be former home. They'll be moving in December to Futako-Tamagawa. Some regret from them since they were so close to one of the best parks in the Kanto...Komazawa Park, but at least in their new residence, they'll be right next to the station so that Mr. Jyuppie can reduce his commute considerably.

Started my day early with Cozy. He'll be getting ready for his mini-marathon on Sunday. He seems pretty confident since he eats 10 km for breakfast. Then, I was off to see The Beehive. The ladies will be heading on a short jaunt through Hokkaido from tomorrow, which will mean meeting Mrs. Perth in Sapporo halfway through the tour. I've got The Milds later tonight.