Saturday, December 25, 2010

Saturday December 25, 6:16 p.m.

And a Merry Xmas to you all. I've been back in Toronto for the past 10 days and I have still yet to reach the halfway point of my long vacation...that's how long my trip is this time.

As you can see, this is the City Hall skating rink, one of the most familiar local sights during this time of year in Canada's largest city.

For me, it's been the usual round of meeting friends and family. I'm currently waiting for the turkey to finally get done at my brother's place. Apparently, the oven thermometer isn't working too well so my brother and sister-in-law have been pacing around the oven for the past several minutes.

I've done my fair share of local noshing over the past 10 days here. I've met folks like The Anime King, The Egg, Shard and Automan for lunch and dinner. And I've had my Mexican, my Quebecois (poutine) and Chinese. Toronto is definitely a foodie's paradise. I even had a chance to meet up with Mr. TOEFL last week during his time here. Took him to The Madison Ave. Pub, my old haunt. He definitely enjoyed the wings there, and he's certainly a lot more cleaner with his eating than I am.

The weather's been pretty cold although not frigidly so. It's at about a reasonable -7 C and there is snow on the ground, so we did get our White Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wednesday December 15, 4:33 p.m.

Well, I guess it had to be my turn in the Airport of Fate. It happens to all air travelers once in a while. I got delayed. I arrived at Narita in plenty of time to find out that my flight will be 2 hours late getting underway. And then, the lady who took care of my booking sheepishly told me that the reservation computers crashed. Not sure how the other passengers took the news but I know a bit about these things can happen so I didn't give her any hassle. In return, I got a food voucher for 1,000 yen so I took advantage and enjoyed lunch at the Fujiya's in the mall. I kinda wonder if this is a prelude to a bad flight. Glad I brought the meds with me.

Still after I returned to the counter, the ladies there very cheerfully escorted me over to the young lady who had taken good care of me and finally got me squared away. And I've just told my brother that I'll be a couple of hours late arriving at Pearson. But you never know, the plane might just catch a good tailwind.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tuesday December 14, 4:28 p.m.

Had my last lessons at the old Speedy's last night....yup, old Speedy's. When I next set foot in my Nakano-Sakaue school in January, it'll be in the new school around the corner...and next door to a very appealing bakery; that should really screw up any attempts to start losing that Holiday flab. Had my trio of Miss Genki, Kirk and The Medicine Man. All of them went smoothly although I was feeling pretty tired by the end. I'd been up since 5 a.m. Monday morning. Miss Genki told me in her lesson that she'd treated herself to a luxurious trip to a hot spring in Hakone over the weekend thanks to her semi-annual bonus. Must be nice to be able to do that. Unfortunately, Speedy's is nowhere near that sort of profitability, and I think the bossman would have to think very long and hard before instituting that policy.

This morning was my last session with The Beehive for 2010 in Tsudanuma. It was the gathering of all of the vets who had first met me all the way back in 1998: Travel, Tee, Jade, Alp and Buckingham. Of course, being the final one before The Holidays meant that there was a small lunch in store. Unfortunately, Jade had to pull out at the last minute since she was suffering from dental problems. We walked all the way down to what used to be our old haunt at the Ace Lanes Bowling Alley and beyond until we reached Chez Como, a French restaurant that we'd visited once before several years ago at Ms. Tulip's suggestion. The food there was indeed excellent although I will definitely be grabbing something for dinner between Mr. White and The Milds later on.

I've pretty much finished my Xmas shopping and just have to start packing the suitcase when I get home tonight. I'm fairly confident that I will get things done before I hit the hay at about 1 a.m. And then I just have to have breakfast, clean things up in the apartment and do a final check of luggage before heading on out to Narita.

I do have to say that I did finally catch the pilot episode of "NCIS: LA" over the weekend. Yep, it is quite different in tone from its parent show, "NCIS", much in the same way that "NCIS" was different from its parent show, "JAG". As Chris O'Donnell points out, there are no clones of any of the "NCIS" characters within the LA characters. And it doesn't hurt when you have an Oscar winner in the form of Linda Hunt as the operations manager.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sunday December 12, 3:04 p.m.

Yup, I'm actually writing this over at Speedy's. Of course, noone else is here except for me, but I had to get a copy of a test for Cozy and some exercise sheets for Kirk tomorrow night. Should be on my way home in about 5 minutes.

I'm really into the final days before The Great White North. Still haven't completed the Xmas shopping, but then again I'm never done until the last minute anyways, so it's business-as-usual. Woke up early to get over for my last lesson with Yajima for the year. He had just come back from his first business trip to Germany. It was fairly arduous for him since he was stuck on a plane for 12 hours and then it was basically a city a day for him. He was quite happy to be back in relatively warm Tokyo since Germany was definitely in the grips of a snowy start to Winter. It was a pretty easy groove with him today.

Then I had to do my final poke into Tower Records in Shibuya. Of course, the place was packed with the young of Tokyo. Couldn't find anything that would be appealing to the parents in terms of DVDs so I just used the final points of my point card to grab reading material for the flight home at a hugely discounted price. This is probably one of the last places on Earth that a point card for a CD shop still exists.

Anyways, gotta get home and get some washing and ironing done. It'll probably be spam night tonight for dinner....something simple and delicious with rice. Also, Mom will be calling to make final confirmations before I get back. I was happy to get the last of the nengajo done last night.

Well, tomorrow's the final classes at Speedy's for the year. It'll be a busy about 5 or 6 lessons on tap.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Saturday December 11, 2:31 p.m.

Officially, I finished my final Saturday shift here at Speedy's. It'll be sad to no longer see Mrs. Prissy and The Publicity Assistant but I will appreciate feeling like I can actually get days off fairly regularly. The ladies were kind to get me some parting gifts.

I got a late request from Ol' Sam's wife for a kid's textbook. Shouldn't be much of a problem since I have to drop by Kinokuniya one more time on Monday before the trip home.

Saturday December 11, 12:37 p.m.
And a Happy Birthday to Mom out there.
Met Ms. Viva for the 2nd time in our foodie buddy outing series yesterday in the Tokyo Dome area. Last time, it was Foo Foo; this time, it was Bubba Gump for some pure Americana.
Didn't have the famed shrimps, but I did enjoy the fish n' chips. Bubba Gump is quite a bit more generous in the pieces of fish, and they were surprisingly juicy. Viva had her Seafood Special. But the two of us had to share the Alabama Mud Pie. I actually had to measure the height to make sure that we were indeed eating someting that was 14 cm high. With all that we ate, I didn't have to touch food again for the rest of the evening.
Which was just as well since I was pretty much on the run for the rest of the evening. Had Mr. Swank for his final lesson of the year. It turned out that I didn't need to help him with his speech for his business trip to Vietnam next week since the organizer had apparently found a Japanese interpreter. Still, there was plenty of stuff on the plate to keep the lesson filled and entertaining. I lent him my DVD set of "Star Trek" time travel episodes.
Ran over to Urayasu to teach The Journo. He was also very entertaining. He's quite the raconteur of his adventures in places like Chile and New Orleans. And of course, he kept me informed of the trials and tribulations of Japan's currently most idiotic kabuki actor, Ebizo Ichikawa. Not surprisingly, The Journo was very leery of Ichikawa's somewhat vague and zombie-like delivery.
Also had my final lesson with The Restauranteur. Very nice way to finish my Fridays for the year.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Tuesday December 7, 4:35 p.m.

I just saw that Toronto newscasting legend, Mark Dailey, died last night from cancer. Ah, 57 years of age, way too young. I always liked his stentorian baritone delivery, and for all intents and purposes, he was the voice of City-TV.

It's kinda penultimate day professionally speaking. I had my second-last session with The Beehive this morning and then I've got my second-last sessions with Mr. White and The Milds later today. The juku boss has been wondering aloud of actually getting serious with her English studies, so I showed her a copy of the text that I'd been using with folks like Mr. White and Cozy for the past year. That copy was Book 1 of World Link; she said that it looked kinda easy. I kept my tongue firmly in opinion is that she'll need that book just to strengthen her all-over-the-place structure, but I compromised by saying that will bring over the aptitude test for her to try before any text is decided upon.

Last night, over at Speedy's, I had my first official class with Kirk. It was a good session; we had a hearty talk on Japanese politics. There was no copy of his designated text other than the staff copy. I rolled my eyes at this slight and just gave Kirk that copy. Of course, when I told the bossman, he kinda mewled that he had needed it for his class this morning. Well, Kirk has been signed up for that text for over a week. Why hadn't a proper text come for him within those 7 days? Sometimes, I just want to kick him. However, basically, I had to race home, take my own copy of the text, make copies at the nearest conbini, race home and then try to fax A3 sheets through my own A4 faxphone. Not surprisingly, I got a message from him this morning that the faxes didn't come out too well. Well, I tried. In any case, I would like to give him my suggestion but I'm afraid that he will treat this like a Kennedy-Nixon debate and give a voluminous rebuttal.

Monday December 6, 6:00 p.m.
Yep, the pictures say it all...I'm gonna be geeky in this entry.
"Farewell, Mother Earth...."
I think anyone who grew up in the late 70s and early 80s in North America know about "Star Blazers", aka "Space Battleship Yamato". A lot of my classmates and I in junior high school ran home daily to catch the latest episode of one of the most beloved serial anime anywhere and of all time, especially when the ship fired the almighty awe-inspiring Wave Motion Gun at the dastardly Gamelans. And of course, the theme song by Isao Sasaki always got us otaku and geek on goosebumps so big that we actually gained height. And I'm sure all of us wondered if there would ever be a live-action version of it.
Well, wonder no more. On December 1, the live-action version finally premiered everywhere in Japan. And I finally caught it at Roppongi Hills this afternoon after my lesson with Swank. You might say it was the "Ocean's Eleven" of Japanese sci-fi, although I liked the comment made by one other blogger who mentioned that this was the first example of live-action Japanimation that actually starred real Japanese (well, not really...there was "Casshern"). However, getting back to my "Ocean's 11" analogy, "Space Battleship Yamato" stars pretty much everyone familiar on Japanese TV. Of course, there is Takuya Kimura from SMAP as angry Acting Captain Susumu Kodai, Meisa Kuroki from tons of commercials and dramas as a kick-butting and brooding Yuki Mori, Toshiro Yanagiba from "Odoru Dai Sosasen" as the stalwart Chief Science Officer Shiro Sanada and Tsutomu Yamazaki as the crusty but doomed Captain Juzo Okita.
Well, what did I think? Y'know...taking into consideration the local industry, the budget and the acting in a typical Japanese production, the live version of "Yamato" probably is as good as it gets over here. No, I guess my comment is a bit backhanded but really, it wasn't a bad adaptation. The effects were indeed pretty top notch...although from seeing them, you can't help but get reminded of "Independence Day", last year's "Star Trek" and the new "Battlestar Galactica"; but heck, I'll take that over the cruddy SFX in "Star Trek V" any century. Especially in the first few minutes, and when the Yamato fired the Wave Motion Gun for the first time, I have to admit that I did get those old goosebumps going on all cylinders again.
As for the story, this was a rather long movie...going to 2.5 hours but it did go fast. I was surprised that that much time had elapsed when I looked at my watch at the end of the movie. It just seemed to be an amalgam of the first two anime movies more than a true reboot. All I will say beyond that is that it's very unlikely that there will be a sequel. However, the producers and director did a commendable job of trying to fit certain scenes and have a bit of acting meat for all of the performers.
And speaking of the acting....well, it is typical Japanese TV acting: overly melodramatic and screaming. Never accuse a Japanese production of Oscar-baiting ambitions. Ironically, Takuya Kimura was perfect as Susumu Kodai since the original character was an angry young man, and KimuTaku is the go-to guy for angry young men roles. Having seen my share of J-dorama, I still had to wince at a few scenes since, for supposed settings of gunmetal gray, I could see a lot of brown oak being spat out. However, I really did enjoy Yamazaki's rendition of Captain Okita and there was one scene in which he played it for comedic effect.
The music? There were hints and one half-rendition of the legendary theme but "Star Blazers" and "Yamato" fans may have left a bit disappointed that the orchestra didn't unleash a full version. My eyes were still a-poppin' that Aerosmith's Steve Tyler consented to his very first solo for "Love Lives". The score basically served the story dutifully rather than come up with various themes.
For me, the highlight scenes were, of course, the ones showing The Wave Motion Gun and the other weapons firing on full, and one that could probably have the otaku Stateside applauding with a cameo by Analyzer (IQ9 in "Star Blazers") in Terminator mode. And there were even a few scenes which had me lumping up...a bit.
In the relevant Mixi community, I saw that a lot of the members were raving about the movie. I can't say that I am one of them. It's pretty much along the lines on how The Publicity Assistant stated it. "Space Battleship Yamato" isn't great but it isn't horrible.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sunday December 5, 11:52 a.m.

Well, as half-expected, it was a bit of a misunderstanding in that message I got from Ray yesterday. She was actually asking about last night's Speedy party when she was asking whether I would be showing up. Of course, I did not. However, she was asking whether La Fille and I can be available for lunch sometime before I head on out.

Last night, instead of heading out to a party that I wouldn't have enjoyed and would have lost 5,500 yen for, I just went home and enjoyed a nice small dinner of fried chicken, rice and salad. And just spent the night reading, listening to Xmas music and writing some more New Year's other words, it was bliss.

I came to the I-Cafe and got some stuff done for AK and Cozy. Now, I'll be heading on out to get some Xmas shopping done since I'm in my final full week before home.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Saturday December 4, 3:48 p.m.

Man, what a day! I made it halfway on my commute to Speedy's when I realized that I'd left the textbook for the first model lesson back home. I got into "24" mode and made it Jack-style back home after leaving a frantic message on the bossman's machine. I managed to finally get back to the school with 20 minutes to spare before show time. And luckily enough, the model lesson went swimmingly. She's signed up and will actually be having her first class with the bossman and will probably be seeing me in January. She'll be Miss X-Ray since she is an X-ray engineer.

The following two lessons went well although The Intellectual got a bit of a shock when I told him that I wouldn't be able to teach him anymore past December. I think I should've told him a bit earlier.

Strangely enough, Ray is still willing to meet me tomorrow for Tony Roma's even though no one else can come. So, after my stint at the I-Cafe tomorrow, it'll be downtown, get some Xmas shopping done and then meet up with the lass in Roppongi. I won't mention anything about my recent conflicts with Miss Efficiency but if she asks about her....
Friday December 3, 8:03 p.m.

When I woke up this morning, it sounded and it looked like the deluge that launched Noah's Ark out there. I don't think I've ever seen that much rain hit the dirt that quickly and that intensely since a 1995 typhoon. I'd thought that my chances of seeing The Bass were going to be severely hampered. However, by the time I got out of the apartment 90 minutes later, it was sunny and if Canada had lent us Indian Summer. I don't think I've ever seen that type of meterological switchblade snapback in this country.

It got up to about 21 C today...I had to remind myself that this was early December. Even at this latitude, having the temps reach early summer levels at this time of year was pretty darn unusual. And although the floods subsided, the winds were smashing bicycles and anything not lashed down on the streets. When I got out of Urayasu Station tonight, I was lucky in that as soon as I got out of the ticket gates, the Tozai Line promptly stopped service due to the winds. The line for taxis was reaching Krispy Kreme proportions. Hopefully, the subway will be back online by the time I finish my lessons at the juku tonight.

I was able to teach The Bass over at the Funabashi cafe. Looks like he's been having his usual mellow time with practicing with his band and taking care of his drum business. After my lesson today, I won't be seeing him until late January. Getting over to Speedy's, I had The Shareholder. He was a bit more sluggish today but nothing too surprising. Then I got over to West Shinjuku to teach Mr. Swank. He was as jolly as ever and we had a great time discussing about watching 2009's "Star Trek" again. I have one more lesson with him before the Holidays begin for me.

Once I escaped Urayasu Station, I walked through the gales to The Restauranteur's place. It was atypically bustling tonight, and I went for the most expensive item on the menu, which was the Veal Fillet in Mushroom Sauce. I did promise her that I would have it before I went back to Canada, and I gladly fulfilled my promise and filled myself up with some really tender meat. The Restauranteur was quite surprised by my order.

Anyways, as the winds are still whistling out there, I have to get one more sheet made up for The Restauranteur's lesson later. Yep, once again, The Journo has canned his lesson tonight and his lesson for next week. I take it that the Ebizo Ichikawa nonsense on TV has been keeping him busy. He was reporting on it yesterday.
Friday December 3, 7:24 p.m.

It's been a slightly tumultuous time at Speedy's. I had my 2nd spat with Miss Efficiency in as many days yesterday. On Wednesday, it was about the fact that she objected to my not attending the Xmas party. Yesterday, it was just the two of us in the office when she started her usual haranguing about the bossman and the state of the company. I was in agreement with a number of her issues but then when I tried to sympathize about the fact that she was having a tough time in the office, she unleashed an accusation that I was trying to get rid of her, which took me aback. I tried to explain that that was not my intention but she wasn't hearing anything of it from me, and so the temperature chilled rather suddenly in the office. And I don't think anything has changed today.

I was also slightly disturbed by a couple of statements that she spat out like verbal diarrhea. She said that she didn't trust a single soul; just herself. And then she spoke on her "friend" who she slightly denigrated by complaining that she always tried to change the environment and just listened when Efficiency started getting sore. A friendship without fighting is a fake friendship, she said. Although I know that friendships have their ups and downs, I think Efficiency's level of acceptable battling is much higher than most people would like in their relationships. From some other stuff she mentioned in her diatribe, this is one lady who has Issues.

After that rather tense discussion, I decided to leave the office since I had to teach The New Yorker in Shinjuku. And though I would like to give her a benefit of a doubt, I'm gonna increase the distance between her and me. At least, she and I apparently can still interact professionally since we did talk about work amicably enough.

But the last couple of days has taught me that Speedy may be right in that Miss Efficiency is not helping things by openly shrieking her grievances at anyone who may be in the room. The bossman has his faults but she is bringing morale down. And I discovered that I was starting to harangue like her when I got caught up in her discussion.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Thursday December 2, 8:20 a.m.

Nice crisp Autumn day out there...yes, I do realize we're in December but we're also officially still in Fall.

With the help of Shard, my old friend in Toronto, I was able to secure my very first appointment with a massage therapy clinic when I get back to the ol' hometown. I've had the shiatsu massages here in Japan before although my last visit to a kori toru clinic was several years ago (just didn't think that they were too effective anymore). Over the years via YouTube and several books that I'd bought, I've seen the Swedish version and have always wanted to experience that at least once. Perhaps, Shard's friend can finally reach those knots and untie them. Perhaps I may actually become a new man.

A bit of a Donut Day, as Thursdays often have been, for me. I've just got The Patent Attorney in a few minutes and then some hours later, it'll be The New Yorker and a couple of hours after her, it'll be The German, Mrs. Thursday and The Music Man. I'm sure Mrs. Thursday will have some insights about the second-last episode of "NCIS"'s 6th season.
Wednesday December 1, 8:04 p.m.

Saw 001 for the first time in a few weeks. She'd had a grand ol' time at the Arashi concert on the 19th and so a lot of the lesson revolved around that. But we did have some time to try a mini-TOEIC quiz. She'll be heading for the Honolulu Marathon next week with 002. She's got quite the schedule.

"Space Battleship Yamato" started up today in theatres nationwide. Kinda wonder how the tickets are selling. I still can't believe that Steven Tyler was convinced to give his very first solo song as the romantic theme for the movie. Maybe he was a "Star Blazers" fan 30 years ago.

Anyways, I've got Miss Sony in about 20 minutes.
Wednesday December 1, 5:38 p.m.

La Fille called in just now to say that she won't be coming in tonight since she's got a rather bad cold. Looks like the probability of that Sunday outing to Tony Roma's is getting lower and lower. I got word from Miss London that she can't make it on Sunday and my shot-in-the-dark choice of Skippy turned out to be just that. Well, I'll ask La Fille...if she can come in tomorrow...and if she says no, I'll send over my regrets to Ray and ask if she would like to re-schedule.

In any case, I'll have 001 in about 10 minutes. I haven't seen her in a few weeks, so most likely we'll be talking about her Arashi concert at Tokyo Dome last week. But she did request about TOEIC so I'll get something ready for that as well.

I'm just kinda wondering if all of us are in desperate need of some R & R.
Wednesday December 1, 5:09 p.m.

It was good that I had The Overachiever for the hour just now. While I was teaching the lesson, it did give me time to reflect a bit on what had happened between Ms. Efficiency and me a couple of hours ago. Basically after The Overachiever had left, I apologized for snapping at her and she took it gracefully. Neither of us apologized for our opinions however, so I am still staying away from the Xmas party this Saturday.

The Overachiever was his usual great self...he can carry on the class all by himself. I think the stress levels would've been much tougher for me if it had been someone like The New Yorker or The Medicine Man.

Still not feeling all that great right now despite the mea culpa. But at least I know I still have a nasty temper.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wednesday December 1, 3:34 p.m.

Well, I guess it had to happen sometime. Miss Efficiency has gotten into arguments with Speedy and I witnessed one between her and Ms. Schmooze. Now, I'm just doing a bit of simmering after a brief exchange with her concerning the party. I said that I wouldn't go since I don't generally enjoy parties anymore; unfortunately, I also mentioned the fact that there were two ladies whose company I don't enjoy. Miss Efficiency kept saying that she wasn't pushing the issue but she was. And finally after 5 minutes of back and forth, I just snapped at her that I no longer appreciated talking on the issue and wish that she would back down. She has and there is a lingering frigidity in the atmosphere right now. Miss Efficiency is definitely the first of her kind that we've had here.

However, before things exploded, she had told me that Kirk has officially signed up as a student and would be starting next Monday.

I really don't like to lose my temper although I rarely do. And I don't feel too good about it right now. However, I don't feel much like apologizing to her.
Tuesday November 30, 7:26 p.m.

The Ace came by as promised about an hour ago. It had been about 8 months since he last set foot in the juku. He has always come across as being a shoshoku ningen or herbivore, probably one of the few words that will get the prize of Catchphrase of the Year in a couple of weeks, but he is also a true gentleman. He dropped by bearing a gift in the form of some rather expensive cheesecakes...and this only for a half-hour visit just to say that he would like to come back into the fold in another 5 months.

There have been a few changes in his life during those 8 months. He has, of course, been continuing his education in helping the disabled and will be working next year in a special centre nearby. But, unfortunately, he has broken up with his longtime girlfriend. He also said that he gained a few kilos...I can't really see it myself but I'll take his word for it. However, he said that he will be rejoining my lessons from the Spring.

I've come to enjoy having people over for visits whether it be in the form of lessons such as I have at the juku weekly or a purely social event such as The Ace dropping by after a period of several months. I frankly like those much better than I do full-fledged parties.

Speaking of which, that little trip to Tony Roma's on Sunday may face cancellation since it seems like Ray and I are the only ones that can go. I sent quick word to Skippy but not surprisingly, she already has plans.

I've got The Milds coming over. Mrs. Mild has come back from her trip to France so I gather that the bulk of today's hour will be spent on poring over digital photos and talking about her trip to La Belle Pays. I'm sure that won't bother my students at all.

Tomorrow, the last of 2 packages for The Anime King will be landing on my footstep in the morning, so I may have to stay at home up until noon. I'd been thinking somewhat faintly about watching "Space Battleship Yamato" since Dec. 1 is the release date. But I can catch that anytime this week....and frankly I'm also waiting for the reviews from actual viewers.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuesday November 30, 4:31 p.m.

Tomorrow is December, eh? Oooh, boy. It's been a fast year. Well, it's appropriately chilly out there, and I hear that my ol' hometown got its first official snow in the last couple of days.

I had what could be considered by newest student at Speedy's. I think I'll call him Kirk. He's quite a fluent fellow and likes to talk about stuff on the international front as well as about other news-related items. But his delivery is interestingly disjointed....just like a certain Star Trek legend. Anyways, he could start as early as next week.

Met up with The Beehive for the first time in 3 weeks. It kinda felt like a vacation. Mrs. Jade had a touch of laryngitis, but otherwise the three other ladies: Travel, Tee and Alp were in good form. Actually, we didn't talk about the Korean situation but instead got onto a local topic: another celeb getting into trouble. A so-called genius kabuki actor by the name of Ebizo got his bare face reshaped into putty by three punks. Before you start feeling sorry for the guy, though, Ebizo was majorly barhopping himself into a drunken stupor (this on the eve of a major news conference) and ended up at his final bar and got chatty with those chinpira. Of course, the punks were also not too sober, and so one thing led to another, which included the actor smacking the lead punk's head into the counter and pouring whiskey on him. And obviously, the three took rather big exception to that and teaching him a rather major lesson. His relatively new wife had a major panic attack and called the police. Now Ebizo has ended up causing the cancellation of a major annual performance in Kyoto over the Holidays, and I'm sure the idiot will be making his prostrations to the flashbulbs of the media in the coming weeks. I wonder if all that training to become a kabuki actor will now include classes on maturity.

Monday November 29, 6:57 p.m.
"Don't call me Shirley".
That one line turned a character actor's career right around. Good ol' Leslie Nielsen passed away. Another Canadian goes to that Great White North in the sky.
Since I was born in the mid-60s, I knew Leslie Nielsen originally as one of those actors who popped up on just about every TV show that had been broadcast in the States...but in absolutely dramatic roles, whether it be "MASH" or "The Fugitive". But then when "Airplane" came out in 1980, a comedic hero was born.
Nielsen, as Dr. Rumack, came out and just slew everyone with his deadpan delivery, born of years as the straight man, and his hilarious asides including the one up above which opens this entry. Then a few years later, he cemented his newfound status as comedian by portraying the role that he would be forever known, Lt. Frank Drebin, in the original TV series of "Police Squad". The show only lasted 6 episodes, but an insane program like that one couldn't last too long. So, next came "The Naked Gun" several years later which I remember watching on the big screen. The laughter just poured out of us nonstop, as I remember. Regrettably, Leslie Nielsen couldn't really lasso his career into any more different directions and basically nullified any lasting effect by playing the same type of character in other parodies.
Still, he will be known as the character actor who didn't end up fading away in the 70s but ended up making us laugh right up to nearly the end of the century.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Monday November 29, 3:39 p.m.

I've got The Artist coming in about 20 minutes. And Ms. Efficiency and Ray are continuing a custom that has been going on to a disturbing extent since the former started a few months ago. They've been griping non-stop about the bossman's way of doing things, and I've been passively been picking up stuff about what has happened "behind the scenes" of the school. Apparently, Ray at some point in the past rather confronted the bossman about the possibility of a mass walkout by staff.

Venting is par for the course for any company's administrative staff. The president has his/her way of doing things and obviously it won't rub well on everybody. But Ms. Efficiency's tantrums have struck a sympathetic chord with Ray and perhaps a number of the other staffers here and at the kids' school. I think this is going beyond just simple stress release.

Strangely enough, back on Saturday, I ended up having dinner with the bossman, mano e mano, at a nearby ramen place. I softshoed some questions at him about his feelings toward Ms. Efficiency. And true to his personality, the bossman was somewhat less blunt with his comments, but it was also obvious that he also had some gripes of his own about his supposed major domo in terms of her own inefficiencies. And he also had some concerns about how her very open criticisms within the school are affecting staff past and present....and he has every right to be considering what I'm hearing right now.

Before the ramen place, Speedy took me and La Fille to see the new place around the corner. It's on the first floor so we lose the view of Shinjuku. But it is noticeably bigger (mind you, the apartment is unfurnished) and there is a pleasant enough brick patio. The way it was lit, it kinda looked like a jazz bar stage.

Well, anyways, stay tuned for another episode in "As The English School Turns".

Monday November 29, 2:49 p.m.
It was another lunch-movie-dinner Sunday for MB, The Satyr, Skippy, The Wedding Planner and me yesterday. Of course, the movie was "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1". MB and I had our trepidations about this one since we had been so deathly bored by "The Half-Blood Prince" a couple of years ago. But although The Satyr wasn't too happy with it, I noticed that MB and I were not griping nearly as much as we did about the penultimate entry in the Harry Potter series.
And to be honest, it wasn't as bad as "The Half-Blood Prince" although it was still a far cry from "The Prisoner of Azkaban", which I think was the best one in the series. I think the thing that put "Deathly Hallows" a bit above the previous film for me was that it came across as a gritty road more Etonian uniforms and little spats between the different tribes. The war between Harry and Voldemort has begun in earnest with a few deaths having already been committed.
The teen angst, though not completely eliminated, at least has been reduced considerably in this one which makes me quite happy. However, there was that CG rendition of Harry and Hermione doing the nasty that kinda got some of the audience tittering uncomfortably. I have to admit that I was kinda averting my eyes since it rather brought to mind of seeing my own kids having sex.
I will be watching the final chapter when it hits theatres here next August just so that I can say that I finally saw the whole thing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday November 27, 5:06 p.m.

I'm still here at the school. Speedy informed me a few hours ago that if I were to stay over until about 5 p.m., he could take me over to the new school. I have to admit that my curiosity is piqued. I should be leaving within the next few minutes.

I was helping out someone on one of the myriad English-language communities in Mixi when she may have gotten a bit of a chewout from some fellow for a misspelled word. She had typed "appeare" when she obviously wanted to type "appeared". She apologized and then the guy tried to explain himself a bit more clearly but he still came across as being a bit of a curmudgeon. I chekced his page out. He's allegedly 49 years old. Not sure where these guys come from...maybe they're throwbacks from the more militant sections of Channel 2. I've had one similar incident myself with one grouchy fellow....I guess these people just like to have a bit of psychotic fun.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Saturday November 27, 1:36 p.m.

Well, I told my soon-to-be former Saturday students about my status from January. Fortunately, Miss Prissy took things pretty well. She'd been the one student that I'd been most worried about in terms of reaction, but she understood and just asked me what my availability would be like on weeknights. As for The Publicity Agent, she was downright noncommittal so I gather that it's a good thing.

La Fille is out getting some lunch so I'm minding the store. However, once she gets back, I'll have my own lunch and then start getting ready to head on home.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day. South Korea and the U.S. will be holding a joint military exercise in approximately the same area which triggered Tuesday's shelling by North Korea. Things are pretty tense in East Asia right now, but the experts are saying that the attack was more for internal consumption within the Kingdom of Kim rather than as a threat against the rest of the world. Well, I'll be out with Skippy and the bunch tomorrow for "Harry Potter" so if something escalates, I'm sure we'll find out very quickly.
Saturday November 27, 10:20 a.m.

Actually, found out from the juku boss last night that a former student will be returning to the fold as it were. The Ace had struck out on his own after leaving his food chemical company back in the Spring and has been learning the tricks of the trade of helping the elderly at school for the past several months. Well, apparently, he's secured some form of employment in his new field nearby his apartment which means that he will be coming back for lessons at the juku from next Spring. He'll be popping by next Tuesday to give greetings.

Ironic, isn't it? Today I'll be giving my official two-week warning to Miss Prissy and The Publicity Assistant that I will be leaving them and my Saturday shift in January.

Saturday November 27, 10:04 a.m.
Well, the hype surrounding this movie has slowly been building up for about a year...the proper length of time, it would seem, to refit a sunken WWII Japanese battleship into a sleek starship with a hell of a gun...and the conbini have been hawking the goods for several weeks now. Finally, the media is probably going into overdrive, last night's "Our Music", Fuji-TV's Friday night music program, had the two stars basically hawking about the movie, and I just saw the first review from "The Japan Times" online. Yep, in less than a week, "Space Cruiser Yamato" will be landing in Japan. Cue the theme song: "Saraba, chikyuu yo..."
"The Japan Times" was actually quite kind to the latest Takuya Kimura flick, although I don't think KimuTaku has ever been in a project like this. But I think his Susumu Kodai is probably quite well-suited for "Yamato": he usually plays the same type of character...angry, rebellious and heroic for every movie, and Kodai was exactly that in the manga and anime. Anyways, Mark Schilling basically said the movie was an FX-laden barnstormer of a sci-fi epic which blares the message of environmentalism and patriotism. I can just hear the brass blaring out the theme.
As I said, I did catch some minutes of "Our Music" with Takuya and his romantic co-star, years-younger Meisa Kuroki, as a far-more kick-ass Yuki Mori (no Gwyneth Paltrow-like sylph for this movie) who is actually the leader of the Black Tigers, the shipboard air wing, and not Saburo Kato. I couldn't rely on the light banter between the two to gain any insight on how the onscreen chemistry will go between the two characters, but The Publicity Assistant did say that it was just an inert gas.
Yup, I'll be seeing if I can see the pic on December 1st. But most likely, just about every Yamato maniac will probably be inhabiting every theatre on Wednesday. Still, even if I can't get in, at least I can witness the hoopla.
Friday November 26, 8:45 p.m.

Had my 2-hour session with The Journo. Yup, still in fine fettle, and this time we were able to get through 2 different exercises. Looks like his time with Taylor Swift went well; the country star had 60,000 yen worth of bling bought for her by the studio apparently, though.

I've just got the juku boss and then The Restauranteur to finish up tonight. Then, I've got my Saturday students. I have the rather unenviable task of informing Miss Prissy and The Publicity Assistant that I will be leaving them from January. Not sure how Prissy is gonna react.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday November 26, 3:20 p.m.

Finished with The Shareholder. He was his usual laconic self....takes a few minutes to come up with answers.

The medicine has taken some effect but I'm still sniffling although a lot of the drip has been stopped. Not sure how long my luck or my nose will hold. In any case, I will be taking off for the juku in the next few minutes.

Friday November 26, 11:30 a.m.
Just took a quick walk over to the bento-ya under McDonalds for my weekly 500-yen lunch. There's nothing like a short walk in the cool air to relieve my sinuses, if temporarily. My nose is starting to fill up a gas tank again. No keema curry lunch but I did get a pork-and-green pepper set up which looks pretty good. Over here, it's known as jinja-rosu and is a staple in the Chinese restaurants.
Above is the picture of the comely young Taylor Swift. Seems like she's having a bad week. Not only has Kanye West gone Hyde on her once again, but I just read a headline openly wondering if she's Just goes to show that as soon as the public builds someone up, they are just as willing to tear them down. I wonder if The Journo kinda went shark on her last Saturday as he illustrated in his role-play in my class last Friday. Country music isn't exactly a household word in Japan, but she has done gigs here in Tokyo. My impression is that her beauty has more of a pull with folks here than her music. It'll be interesting talking with The Journo tonight. I haven't gotten any messages from the juku boss so it looks like he'll finally break the curse of dotakyan and come for an unprecedented second week in a row.
Friday November 26, 10:18 a.m.

Well, apparently, the powers-that-be have once again shown their sardonic sense of humour. Speedy checked the school e-mail and got a message from The Photog that he wouldn't be able to come due to a cold. So, I was spared the hour of stream-of-consciousness but I also realize that I sacrificed a lot of sleep for nothing. Still, since I'm suffering from an allergy attack or a belated hay fever, I'm rather grateful that I can just noodle around the Net until The Shareholder comes by in a few hours. The bossman gave me some Vitamin C pills but it feels like the meds have started to kick in.

A few days ago, I'd bought "The Marvel Encyclopedia" as the companion to "The DC Encyclopedia". It's just the one tome and it's very glossy and filled with scads of pictures. But I have to say that I've been rather disappointed with the comparatively brief write-ups on the characters, even the major ones such as Cyclops and The Hulk. And I've come across a number of typos and one major faux pas for one of the minor characters. I realize that there are spatial limits to how much text and graphics one can fit into a large book, but in that case, I would've been more than happy to have the encyclopedia come out in multiple volumes rather than the one. And over 20 years ago, there was indeed a less glossier version of such an encyclopedia over several books which I still have stored away back home in Toronto. Strangely enough, Wikipedia seems to be the better choice of a truly comprehensive update on all of the characters..and it's free.

....which is what I did with The X-Men. It's kinda like "24"...once you miss one episode, you might as well give up on keeping up. I stopped collecting the books over a decade ago since the prices are prohibitively expensive...probably around the time before "The Age of Apocalypse". And since then, it's been mindboggling as to what has happened to the characters. Scott Summers is now with Emma Frost, not Jean Grey, Jubilee is apparently a vampire, Nightcrawler and Cable are dead, and Wolverine has just been bitten by Jubilee. But again, knowing the soap operatic nature of the mutants, they'll all come back healthy and alive as usual.
Friday November 26, 9:21 a.m.

Back at the school again. Ended up oversleeping half an hour which for most people would mean I underslept by merely an hour. Still, got my self together and out the door in 10 minutes. The tea and apple-cinnamon roll from Vie Du France helped perk me up.

I've got The Photog in about 35 minutes. Last time he was here, he seemed rather stressed out from the rigors of his job and just couldn't touch the homework or any form of English study; didn't make the lesson any easier with his stream-of-consciousness inability to handle any sort of language outside of his native one. I'm just worried that he may do the same thing again today. I didn't wake up with a mere 5 hours of sleep to come to this sort of class. Then, I've got a few hours before The Shareholder comes by for his one hour. He's also not the easiest guy to rouse since he gives taciturnity a good name.

Fortunately, though, I don't have Mr. Swank today so I can make my way to the juku somewhat more leisurely before The Journo's double lesson. He's a good talker and I've got my stuff ready for him, but he's also the type that I have to be on my guard for. I kinda wonder how his interview with Taylor Swift went last week. Apparently, her arch nemesis, Kanye West, did a double back and started dissing her and George W. Bush. This, after he had apparently asked for forgiveness...and gotten it...from the young country star. I think an especially tight jacket with extra straps may be his Xmas gift this year.
Thursday November 25, 10:33 p.m.

And thus another long Thursday comes to a close. The Music Man and I had an illuminating session, finishing off about the geisha culture in Kyoto. He actually had the opportunity to see an actual performance in an ochaya some years back.

It's raining steadily out there. No way I can bring back the calendars home with me right now in a paper bag. Just hope that this is just a 12-hour thing.

I've got The Photog tomorrow morning. Not sure what he's gonna be like. He was completely out of it last time due to the rigors of his work. Then, I've got The Shareholder before the juku lessons start up with, I assume, The Journo. He's never done consecutive weeks of lessons but I've yet to get a cancellation notice from him via the juku boss this week.
Thursday November 25, 7:49 p.m.

Looks like I've entered the 3700s. Maybe by Spring, I will have reached the big 4,000.

I did some more preliminary Xmas shopping by getting some calendars over at Kinokuniya at Shinjuku Times Square. When I got back, La Fille had come in and the three of us (including Ms. Efficiency) rather got into a spree of playing "Name That Tune" with the help of YouTube. It was painfully evident that there was a generation gap between La Fille and the two of us. Efficiency and I had a grand old time reliving disco songs and 80s New Wave while La Fille had that deer-in-headlights look. Then again, La Fille is 2 decades my junior.

The Carolinan came in and we were able to make maximum use of the remaining two pages of the latest chapter...which was great since I'd forgotten to make a copy of the next chapter for her. I did inform her of the probable move around the corner.

Anyways, I've got dinner waiting for me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thursday November 25, 12:54 p.m.

I'm in the middle of my donut...not the culinary type but the temporal kind. Yep, it's another Thursday Donut Day where I have several hours of nothing between lessons. The Carolinan just confirmed that she'll be coming by later tonight.

My double with Grandma Dynamite went pretty swimmingly. Those 2 hours were my last ones with the lady for this year since she told me that she'll be unavailable for December. She even told me that she'd met up with Grandma FON; FON has been AWOL for the past few months but says that she may show up from January once more. In any case, Dynamite will not be making it for the Xmas party next Saturday which gives me an additional reason not to come.

I've taken a few glimpses of what seems to be a future classic episode from "The Sarah Jane Chronicles". It's "The Death of the Doctor" with old companions Sarah Jane Smith and her immediate predecessor, Jo Grant. Even without sound, Matt Smith as Doctor No. 11 looks as if he has definitely grabbed the mantle from David Tennant. I really do have to get that DVD set for Series Five of "Doctor Who" when I get back to Toronto.

Looks like Mr. TOEFL has been enjoying the culinary fruits of Toronto over the past few weeks. He's been to mine and The Entrepreneur's old haunt of Kom Jug Yuen on Spadina, and he's just been to Mr. Greek on The Danforth. I've informed him of the dessert wonders at Demetre's.

I should be heading on out for some preliminary Xmas shopping in about half an hour since I've got so much free time. But first I ought to take a look at what I will have to teach over the next couple of days.

Thursday November 25, 8:49 a.m.
Can't believe that it's just a month before Xmas. Ah, the picture to the right of me? It's one of the more iconic buildings in Shibuya. I think it's the HUMAX building, although it looks a lot like something an S&M fetishist would live in.
I sent out a parcel of some of the clothes that Mom couldn't take with her back home at the regional post office. At the same time, I had them stop my mail during my time back home. Very easy process...just let them know and you fill out a form with the necessary information. The post office will hold your mail for a maximum of 1 month. And I was a bit surprised to get an acknowledgement letter from them just several hours later in my mailbox.
I have Grandma Dynamite for a double today. May need to drink that extra cup of tea. Then I've got the donut hole before The Carolinan shows up and then it's just The Music Man. I'm gonna have to let The Carolinan know about the big move next year to the new facilities. Most likely, I'll have to meet her at the station and escort her in.
Wednesday November 24, 10:05 p.m.

Pretty easy night since I only had The German and then Miss Sony. The German and I once again didn't touch one page of the text and ended up chatting on Part 1 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" since she had caught it over the weekend. She was somewhat nonplussed by the visual experience since she had read the books previously...and it seems like the books will always be better than the films. Not particularly good news for people like Skippy and myself who are planning to catch it this weekend. Afterwards, The German and I got onto the topic of the oeuvre of Clint Eastwood all the way from his days as The Man With No Name through Dirty Harry and as far as "In The Line of Fire".

As for Miss Sony, we didn't reach quite the conversational heights but it was still fun to teach her. She's got better control than The German in terms of her speaking also.

The big news is that Speedy has pretty much secured the new home of the school. It'll be about 6 minutes' walk away from our current location and right on the first floor. There's a bit of giddiness as well as wistfulness about me leaving the old place that I'd become familiar with for the past 6 years when I head over to Canada and then coming to a new place in January. The bossman showed me through his cellphone camera what the new place looks like. It's awfully hard to get the full breadth of the condo just from some tiny pictures but Speedy told me that I could take a look at it after my final Saturday in December.

Anyways, I've got a relatively busy day tomorrow although The Patent Attorney has cancelled his lesson. I've got a double with Grandma Dynamite but it will be several hours before The Carolinan comes by and then since Mrs Thursday won't be coming it'll just be The Music Man to wrap up. I think I may be starting my Xmas shopping during the hole.

Wednesday November 24, 7:57 p.m.
Yup, Fall is definitely here in terms of the foliage. The above left picture is from outside of Den'en-Chofu Station where Yajima always picks me up for his lessons. However, Xmas is just around the corner as well as this Shinjuku shop display illustrates. the Yuletide lights have started to make themselves known throughout the metropolis in the usual corners of Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ginza. Once December hits next week, then that electric bill for Tokyo is gonna shoot straight up.
Back on Sunday, I met up with The Bohemian for the first time in about 4 or 5 months. We met at our usual place just in front of the Inokashira Line ticket gates in Shibuya. However, this time, he wasn't alone. He had asked an acquaintance whom he'd known at his gym for some months (kinda surprised that he finally found some success there....he usually got asked to leave whenever he tried to make a play for someone). This young lady actually hails from Michigan, The Bohemian's old area from high school days, and looks remarkably like Brent Spiner aka Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation". We ended up going to Toriyoshi, the all-chicken izakaya. She was very nice and actually could endure being with us, despite the fact that I was sniffling all night and The Bohemian got into his drunken, slightly racist mode. Whether she will ever deign to meet us again is another question altogether. Still, it was nice to have a third member.
I did glean some insight about The Bohemian and why he acts like he does. Over the years, he's annoyed the heck out of me with some of his risque and racist and repetitive comments. I've just come to the realization that he must have some sort of Peter Pan Syndrome in that he really hasn't grown up. Just like a little kid who doesn't really realize what he's saying, he just blurts out stuff that other people usually wouldn't in polite company. I'm not sure if this is really some sort of handicap he suffered as a child.
And speaking of children, North Korea decided to throw another temper tantrum yesterday by lobbing some artillery over at an inhabited South Korean island, just because it wants attention from the West. Problem killed two soldiers and injured several civilians. Maybe it's time for the free countries of the world to give it the spanking it so richly deserves.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wednesday November 24, 3:59 p.m.
Yep, it's indeed American Thanksgiving Week, and since yesterday was also Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan, I decided to have my 2nd annual outing to Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi for its Turkey Special. Not too many people in the HRC which was a bit surprising for noon considering it was indeed a national holiday but I wasn't complaining. Just meant that I got my meal that much faster and hotter. But not exactly cheaper...the meal came to about 2600 yen but I also splurged for a soft drink and then coffee and dessert, so the grand total came to about 4200 yen. Definitely not on the cheap side but still a lot of yen cheaper than at some of the other places that offer Thanksgiving meals.
The turkey, the mashed potatoes and the gravy were the highlights...I've always enjoyed the mash as a pseudo gravy boat. The gravy was quite salty but it worked well with the otherwise bland meat. There was also a small cup of cranberry sauce but since the gravy coated the turkey, the sauce was rendered rather superfluous. And the stuffing was the type of stuffing that must've been made after the chefs got the news that making stuffing the old-fashioned way could lead to food poisoning. It just seemed that it was parts of bread doused in the turkey juice. For me, I'm very much for stuffing bread, ground meat and potatoes into the bird and having physics take its course. As for the risk of drying out the meat, well, that's why we have gravy, eh?
True to my legend, I also went for the dessert which was Apple Cobbler. I could've done without the ice cream...for some reason, I was never a fan of a la mode but still I gobbled the cobbler with a cup of coffee. And strangely enough, even with the added dish, I wasn't too filled up.
I'm happy to say that I can give this meal a solid 8 out of 10. I guess the Hard Rock Cafe Turkey Special will become one of my annual habits.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday November 22, 5:15 p.m.

Yup, that's me getting a bit artsy. I used the Sunset filter to get this shot of an Autumn tree in Shibuya.

I won't be writing too much now since I do really want to get home and enjoy a very rare Monday night off...especially since tomorrow is a national holiday...Labor Thanksgiving, although there is no turkey involved. However, I'll be remedying that by heading over to the Roppongi Hard Rock Cafe tomorrow and tucking myself into the Turkey Special that they have annually there.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Saturday November 20, 12:50 p.m.

Not a lot of time before my 4 hours at the I-Cafe are up, so I'll type fast. Got that checking of AK's translations done. Not difficult at all...just a bit time-consuming.

And I heard that one of the best coaches to take care of The Toronto Maple Leafs in recent memory has died. Good ol' Pat Burns succumbed to cancer. He was supposedly one of the scariest men to cross in sports history but he really did a fine job with our usually losing team and almost got them to The Stanley Cup in the early 90s. I'm sure the Air Canada Centre will be announcing that fact at the next home game.

Good on ya', Pat.
Saturday November 20, 9:13 a.m.

It was a fairly hectic Friday. I had The Bass for the first time in almost a month. He'd been pretty busy with his own business. His injuries seem to be healing steadily since that motorcycle accident a few months ago; still think his doctor was pretty la-di-da with his diagnosis. I suggested a second opinion but he said that it would be way too troublesome. In this country, I wouldn't be surprised.

Then it was off to Shinjuku. I had lunch at Foo Foo. It was the first time that I'd seen my favorite ramen place packed to the gills but then again, it was about 12:30. The operation was very smooth...the head guy was cheerfully exhorting customers to come in and try the noodles while the kitchen and wait staff did their things quietly and efficiently.

Next, I met up with my old colleague from Speedy's, AK. She's now fully self-employed as a professional translator of movie and TV shows. We met over at The Blue Square Cafe in the Cocoon Building...a cousin to the Gherkin in London in shape. She needed some fresh eyes on her latest translation for the American series, "White Collar". So, after this, I'll be spending the next hour or so looking and checking via the USB she gave me. I updated her on the latest machinations of Speedy so the new kids' school took up a lot of the conversation. I also invited her to that nascent plan to head to Tony Roma's next Saturday but she looked rather doubtful.

Of course, I had Mr. Swank later on. He was still pretty jolly but sent a friendly shot across my bow concerning his wife. She seems to be at a loss about what to do for future lessons with me on Mondays. So I took it as I should pull the reins a bit tighter and not engage in so much light banter with her.

Then, it was off to Urayasu and the juku since I had my double with The Journo. Looks like things are going pretty well. He showed his fairly tenacious approach in the art of interviewing during an exercise I concocted. He actually interviewed Kiefer Sutherland some days ago and today, he's got a few minutes with country star, Taylor Swift. I rather begged him NOT to ask her whether she likes Japanese men. I think my mission in life should be to teach local journalists not to ask Hollywood celebs what has got to be the stupidest question in this nation.

Strangely enough, I have no lessons today at Speedy and this wasn't at my request. It just so happens that none of the regulars filled up the space today. I plan on heading over to Shibuya since it is one of those special point days at Tower Records.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday November 18, 5:54 p.m.

Deep in the middle of this donut hole. My last lesson ended at 3:30 p.m. Don't have anything until Mrs. Thursday at 8 p.m. Would've liked to have just gone home but with the round-trip commuting time, it wouldn't have made too much sense to do so. I'll probably just go on and buy something from the conbini.

Found out from Mr. TOEFL, who's now residing in Toronto, that he's going regularly to one of my favorite eateries in Spadina Chinatown, Kom Jug Yuen. Kom Jug Yuen is just located on Spadina south of College St., so not far away at all from The University of Toronto. It's got great BBQ pork and duck on rice for a very pleasant price, and it has some of the greatest chicken soup this side of Canada. The interior and service would take a pampered Japanese customer by surprise but, heck, all I care about is the food.

Kinda hard to believe that in less than a month, I'll be back in The Great White North. Gonna have to start getting ready for the big trip.

Found out that my old friend, The Wild Guy, is now a father to a son. I'm very happy for him and his wife since they'd been trying for years to have a kid. And true to The Wild Guy's nature, his baby is wailing up a storm.

I've asked Shard about his friend's massage service. Found out the prices aren't too bad, especially since I've become well inured to the costs over here in Tokyo. I may take up the offer to get that full-body rubdown.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thursday November 18, 4:13 p.m.
Yep, I think I have fallen in love with this bento right here. Keema Curry is something that I hadn't known existed until I came to this country. I had been so accustomed to just seeing chunks of beef or chicken...and then came this wonderful minced meat sauce on top of rice. And even better, this whole bento comes for the grand price of 500 yen. Truly a one-coin miracle!
Had The Shareholder and The Artist in quick succession. No big problems. So I just have to wait until 8 p.m. for my next pair to come in. In the meantime, La Fille has come back from her research trip in Taiwan. Looks like she had the motherlode of food there according to her Facebook pictures. And strangely enough, Speedy was kind enough to present outgoing Miss London with some cakes from a Setagaya bakery as a goodbye gift. It is her last day today.
Looks like the trip to Tony Roma's is starting to gel a bit more. So far, La Fille, Miss London and Ray may be good to go for the 27th. And crazily enough, it seems as if I've got a completely unsolicited day off on Saturday since no students have reserved classes then.

Thursday November 18, 10:35 a.m.

Well, the past couple of days have been rather focused on this pairing. Yup, Prince William finally popped the question to longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton. Of course, BBC virtually declared a National Holiday when the news came in. Considering all of the dreary news that's been infecting The British Isles recently, something like a Royal Wedding was worth its weight in gold. But then again, data doesn't weigh anything so my metaphor is pretty much meaningless, isn't it? In any case, the Japanese here are also probably quite keen on this news since the Imperial Family over here also has some cultural cachet but not nearly the glamor that the British Royal Family has. I remember watching the wedding of Charles and Diana almost 30 years ago...ironically over in Osaka with the relatives. My memorable crack was about the laundry bill for Diana's wedding dress train.

Also, on this end, I guess all of us folks here must have caused a huge jinx on yokozuna Hakuho a couple of days ago. All of us were guessing that he would get the all-time winning streak in sumo. And then, guess what? He gets toppled on the 2nd day of the Kyushu Tournament. Still, there is nothing wrong with having the 2nd-longest winning streak either.

I took the day off yesterday since I had to pick up the parentals at Tokyo Station. Any thoughts of heading out for kaiten sushi went out the window as soon as Mom suggested that we get home. Plus, Dad preferred to stay home and watch sumo. Mom and I headed out to the local supermarket for about half an hour to pick up an eclectic mix of fried chicken, sashimi and salad for dinner. Still, it was nice having a family dinner.

Today looks like it's gonna be a sunny day...good for the laundry. My parents are at home today. I kinda feel bad about leaving them there but I gotta make my money for the trip home next month.

I had The Patent Attorney this started with the upcoming nuptials of William and Kate and then went into the nuts and bolts of The Royal Family. Grandma Dynamite cancelled her class, so I've got nothing until The Shareholder and The Artist come in back-to-back. Then, it'll be the regular lineup of Mrs. Thursday and The Music Man tonight. Would like to ask Mrs. Thursday about that episode of "NCIS" which debuted last week about the backdoor pilot of "NCIS: Los Angeles".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday November 16, 6:45 p.m.

Yep, last night was cold. Not cool as in "Ha! I laugh at the Tokyo version of cold" cool, but actually cold. It went down to 4 degrees C which is pretty much the Tokyo equivalent of a deep freeze. I had the blankets on full standby and I even actually turned on the heater for the first time this season.

It wasn't quite a bombshell since I had been hearing the possibility of it from Speedy for some time now. Last night, just before I went out into the deep freeze, the bossman confided to me (he hasn't told anyone else) that it is very possible that by the time I get back from The Great White North in January, the school will be inhabiting new digs...about some 10 minutes walk away from our current location. Basically, it's come to the point that Speedy can no longer keep our current abode and his own apartment without causing some sort of financial meltdown. So, if everything works out in terms of guarantorship and financing, we'll be moving to a first-floor condo that's actually a bit bigger. And the kicker is that the bossman and his wife will be living in the part of it while the school occupies the rest of it. It'll definitely save on his financial wear and tear but those posters of our school showing the skyline of Shinjuku will be going the way of the dodo.

There was no Beehive session today. Instead, I had The New Yorker at our regular Shinjuku Starbucks meeting place this afternoon. She had just come back from Hokkaido to see her friend. Despite the frigid conditions up there, she said that she'd had a good time. I also got my omiyage in the form of scallop crackers...don't knock it. They are pretty good.

I also had Mr. White today. He was in fine form. No sign of any depression. But he was also feeling the chill outside. I've only got Mr. Mild before my day is done. Mrs. Mild is off on some sort of Italian trip again.

I finally caught the pilot episode for "Torchwood", the profane and grittier spinoff of "Doctor Who". It actually did work out pretty well, although seeing the "upcoming episodes" bit at the end of the show, I'm kinda wondering if Russell T. Davies did have sort of agenda by seemingly having every major character in the show shagging a same-sex guest character. I kinda wonder if Messrs. Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee are rolling in their graves.

Anyways, I just downed some MOW ice cream and hot coffee...not my choice but the juku boss gave them to me. Now I have a sudden urge to hit the can.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday November 15, 9:14 p.m.

It looks like the rain has let up for now. I've only just realized that I had left the bathroom mats out on the balcony this morning. So I'm gonna be coming home to a pair of soggy fabrics that I'm gonna have to dry out by the day after tomorrow when the parentals come back (not an easy thing). Luckily, it looks like tomorrow will be a nice day.

Miss Genki was certainly her usual genki self, although she had a rather lousy bout with food poisoning over the weekend. Looks like that soft-boiled egg did some rather hard things to her stomach. Generally speaking, though, eggs here...even the raw variety...have a trustworthy reputation, which would explain why the Japanese love to use raw eggs for sukiyaki. Believe me, I'm not one of those folks who particularly likes using them, but I can tolerate the stuff if I have to. I don't think I would have that bravery back in Canada.

Looks like The Intellectual has joined my flock on Mixi. And he even joined my foodie community. Not sure if he's gonna give any feedback to any of my comments, though. Still, I am appreciative of his membership. Speaking of the foodie community, I would still love to have an event involving the members but the one person I would like to invite isn't available on the days I would like. Basically, Viva is looking at either the 21st or the 26th. However, I've already got plans with The Bohemian on the 21st (and I'm not quite ready to introduce Viva to someone as Bohemian as The Bohemian) and the 26th is a regular work day...if I'm lucky, I may have some time in the afternoon. I had been looking at American Thanksgiving as a possible incentive to have the first event but it doesn't look really possible.

Anyways, it looks like the bossman is about ready to give up the ghost in terms of his energy levels, so I'll be shutting off myself.
Monday November 15, 7:22 p.m.

Miss Genki should be here in the next few minutes so I'll keep this short. Just an observation. Tonight, Miss Efficiency is away for the next week on her trip to Las Vegas, so it'll be in the capable hands of Ray, who's officially an ex-employee of Speedy's, and even Miss London who will be officially an ex-employee as of tonight, but will still come in on Thursday to fill in. And La Fille is still out there somewhere on vacation. Is there anyone here who is so on a permanent basis?

And speaking of ex-employees, AK contacted me about some possible translation checking this weekend. One's work is never done.

Monday November 15, 6:26 p.m.
I was watching the latest in Season 6 of "NCIS" last night, and it turned out to be the episode "Legend" which was the backdoor pilot for "NCIS: Los Angeles". So, I got to see G. Callen and Sam Hanna with Gibbs and McGee helping to launch things off. I could also say that I got to see a former Robin and a former rapper.

Heard some rather tragic news involving a popular actor. Ken Matsudaira has been around for years and years but he had a bit of a boom a few years ago when a showstopping song called "The MatsuKen Samba" zoomed up the charts. And this year, he's been getting the attention again as a live action version of a beloved anime character. Well, any happiness he may have been gathering over the months just got blown away. His latest wife of a few years committed suicide by hanging in their own home this morning. Sometimes, you just don't know even the closest of loved ones.

In somewhat happier news, the sumo world is abuzz once more since The Kyushu Tournament started yesterday. Hakuho is still on the hunt to get the longest winning streak in sumo history. He got off to a good start by defeating his opponent. So he just has to win 6 more times. This will be done on Saturday. I would be very surprised if the sumo arena doesn't have a full house this weekend.
Monday November 15, 5:08 p.m.

Had another round of hilarious banter with The German instead of the text. She always ends up looking in shock when she sees the clock and the hour has already dried up. The first part of the hour was spent on her griping about her second trip to see the Japanese production of "The Phantom of the Opera". The big problem there was seeing Ken Watanabe's daughter, Anne, in the pivotal role of Christine. When I heard about the casting, I was rather surprised to see that a model was cast in a rather demanding role. Apparently, the encores were very few.

The rains have started falling, and Miss London is shivering from her brief trip to the conbini.

Did forget to mention that President Obama made his little excursion to Kamakura yesterday after all that was APEC had been completed. The lucky tourists who were visiting the venerable town...just several kilometres away from the thrill of their lives when they were able to shake hands and take pics of the Prez. And I'm sure that sales of matcha ice cream are going to go through the roof for the next few months since the media were taking tons of pics of him sucking on a matcha popsicle.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Monday November 15, 1:46 p.m.

Gonna be a rainy one later tonight...and the temps are gonna be plummeting down to about 9 C. That's not too bad for Toronto weather, but for Tokyo, that's considered late December, so the coats and scarves will be coming out.

Had a good session with Cozy this morning before heading over to the Yaesu Underground Mall underneath Tokyo Station and checking out this Genki Sushi place. I was doing the recon for my parents who are coming back on Wednesday afternoon. I could find the place easy enough but it's a fair walk from the station and even worse, it'll be an even further walk from the kaiten to the Tozai Line. I'm not sure if Mom and Dad will be that willing.

Then, I hopped on the Tozai all the way to the end at Nakano. Of course, I just had to drop in at Broadway and the Recomints discount CD shop on the 3rd floor. It was the first time for me to go there in the morning. Most of the places had yet to open since things really don't get going until noon. However, I was lucky with Recomints. Ended up getting yet another Yumi Arai CD, "Misslim", and a Ruiko Kurahashi album. Supposedly, Misslim is the best album that Yuming, whether Arai or Matsutoya, has ever made. Considering that this was 1976, that's not exactly a great sign, but I still think the Queen of J-Pop came out with some good stuff in the 80s such as "No Side" and "Love Wars". And "The 14th Moon" is still aces with me.

Looks like I've got an early night. I've got The Artist in a few minutes followed by The German in a couple of hours. Miss Genki gets in half an hour later than usual, but The Medicine Man won't be having any more lessons until the end of this month, so when Miss Genki is done at 8:30, so will I.

Although Miss London doesn't officially finish her time with us until tomorrow, it'll be my last time to see her today since I don't have classes at Speedy's on Tuesdays. It'll be sad to see her go since she's probably the closest in terms of our mutual like for popular culture.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Saturday November 13, 2:33 p.m.

Well, I'm officially done for today. The Publicity Assistant came back into the fold as it were for the first time in 2 months. She was 15 minutes late since she had made a wrong assumption about the class time and she looked exhausted. Looks like she's been burning the midnight oil getting ready for Russell Crowe's arrival on these shores to promote "Robin Hood". Yep, I realize that the DVD of the middling movie has already come out in the Americas, but this is Japan...a place where movies can occasionally take as much as a year to get over.

At the same time, she gave me some dirt on the upcoming live action version of "Star Blazers", aka "Space Cruiser Yamato". It was hardly a ringing endorsement but she related to me that the movie, due out here from December 1, doesn't stink. That's actually a grade up from what I'd been fearing...that the movie would be the sci-fi-anime equivalent of "Heaven's Gate". She told me that there is some resemblance to the new "Battlestar Galactica"...seeing the trailer, the battle scenes are very reminiscent of Cylons vs. Colonial Vipers. Basically, the star of the movie, Takuya Kimura is pretty much acting like Takuya Kimura (kinda like Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise in every movie)...i.e. angry, snarly, semi-young man. But that could actually work for him, since the character of Kodai-kun is pretty much that. The Publicity Assistant also related that the romance between him and Yuki Mori, played by actress Meisa Kuroki doesn't exactly inspire. The two of us also shrugged our shoulders about the news that Steven Tyler of Aerosmith will be singing the image song for the movie. Perhaps the suddenly late creator of the series, Yoshinobu Nishizaki, will be rolling in his urn a lot sooner than expected.

Doesn't stink, eh? Well, maybe I will give it a try.

The Intellectual came in and we had a good talk on the current status of social networking sites. He's become a tweeter but also has an account with Mixi, so I've contacted his homepage in the hopes that he'll become a "friend".

Mom contacted me last night to give the particulars on when and what Bullet Train they'll be coming back to Tokyo on. Dad had stated some interest in trying out a kaiten sushi place. I'd thought about taking them to Sushi Zanmai on top of the Akiba Yodobashi Camera building in Akihabara, but they'll probably be lugging some heavy luggage with them, so I was looking whether a kaiten existed somewhere around Tokyo Station. I may have found one via Internet; it's one of the Genki Sushi chain and it's somewhere in the Yaesu underground mall. I was thinking about checking it out after I get out of here, but I think I'll probably head there tomorrow on the way to teach The Jyuppies since Otemachi Station is not only where I transfer for the train toward Futako-Tamagawa but also smack-dab beside Tokyo Station. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

In any case, I'm heading home very shortly to enjoy a valued night at home and to listen to some Seiko.
Saturday November 13, 11:21 a.m.

We've got a crew of 4 today at Speedy's: myself, Ray, Babydoll and one of the new teachers from the kids' school. But all of us are of the quiet persuasion so the school feels like a library right now. The bossman had come in before Ray arrived but he's out on some sort of errand.

Miss Prissy came in for what was one of her final times with me since I'll be taken off Saturdays in the New Year. I'm gonna have to tell her the bad news at her next class.

The Publicity Agent will be coming in for the first time in a couple of months. I'm sure she'll have lots to say about her job. Maybe she has something for me concerning the upcoming "Yamato" movie.
Friday November 12, 8:25 p.m.

It was sure nice to be back at home...even if it was for just an hour...while the sun was still out. I got back to my apartment at about 4 p.m. and was able to do some laundry which had been piling up in the machine.

Then, I got over to The Restauranteur's place for a nice meal of Beef Stroganoff. It ain't cheap but it is good. The restaurant was fairly busy tonight; I was rather accustomed to eating all by myself in the place but just about all the tables were filled.

Looks like I got my first diss on Mixi...and it was from my former student, Spice, of Sugar N' Spice. Apparently, she actually did enjoy The German Sausage Burger, the second entry in the iCon Chicken campaign at McDonalds. No accounting for taste, evidently. But the diss was half in jest, but my opinion still holds. I kinda half-jokingly challenged her to try the final Carbonara Chicken Burger and if she likes it, I'll give it a whirl.

The juku boss gave me a bit of a she tends to do suggesting that a 19-year-old acquaintance of hers could sub for me and The Iranian while we are away over the Holidays. I kinda laughed it off and explained to the boss how unlikely that would be. Apparently, The Iranian didn't take it as well and kinda gave the boss an earful. I'm not trying to be ageist here but it's awfully hard for me to believe that a kid who hasn't even gone to her Adulthood Day ceremonies can be taken seriously as a sub teacher for folks like Mr. White and The Milds. I mildly suggested to the boss that I should at least have some sort of e-mail communication with her to find out what she's like (who knows? she may be a genius). But I've got a feeling that it'll just be an opportunity for my students to have some free talk with a non-teaching native.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Friday November 12, 12:11 p.m.
Yup, I took a bite out of the third entry in the mysteriously-named iCon Chicken Burger campaign at The Golden Arches this Fall. This was the Diavolo, which sounds as if it should be describing a prototype Toyota instead of something edible. I have a feeling that McDonalds Marketing in Japan must've phonetically transferred from the Spanish word for "devil", due to the supposedly spicy BBQ sauce. I wasn't particularly impressed by the second entry, the German Sausage Burger since it seemed to have been so named merely for the thin layer of mustard on the bottom bun. And I wasn't going anywhere near the first Cheese Fondue. Well, my impression of the Diavolo is that the sauce coating the chicken did indeed have heat but had very little taste. It was like watching "Star Wars" with the sound off. So I couldn't really give this burger the thumbs up. The fourth and last entry is the Carbonara...yep, named after the artery-busting pasta dish, and once again, it looks like I'll give that one a pass.
I had The Photog, and true to form, he had to beg off the regular lesson since he hadn't reviewed nor done his homework due to the rigors of his job. So, it was very much a stream-of-consciousness Dadaist flow of words from him. At one point, he spurted (and I apologize for the choice of verb, as you will soon know why) the word "masturbation" a few times. He was just referring to the fact that simply setting up a photographic scene for shooting satisfaction (oops, sorry there too) was frankly self-serving. Still, I could feel my ears glowing red and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. Luckily, the staff outside either didn't hear or gracefully have deigned not to sass me about it. In any case, he'll be out of the way for the next several days since he will have quite a few places to visit domestically.
We've got a full house today, since Miss Sussex, Miss Revlon, Miss Schmooze and one of the new kids' teachers are all in the office today. There was another flash of anger/frustration from Miss Efficiency at the bossman at how prospective clients can't seem to find the new school. I'm sure there will be a lot of that sort of tone in the sales meeting today but right after I'm done with The Shareholder at 2:30, I'm heading home.
Tomorrow's classes have been shaved by one. The Businesswoman had to cancel and she was supposed to have been the final lesson. So, I'll be done by around 2.