Friday, February 19, 2010

Saturday February 20, 4:50 p.m.

Well, Japan can say that it now has 3 times the total number of medals won back in 2006. Daisuke Takahashi, male figure skater and potential future "An-An" model, got a Bronze for his efforts yesterday. He became the very male skater to actually hit the podium in Japanese Olympic history which makes it all the more sweeter for him. So, of course, he and the other two skaters have been serenaded by all of the TV stations for the past 24 hours.

Over in the rest of the world, everyone else was glued for about 10 minutes when Tiger Woods made his abject apology over all that kerfuffle over the last two months of 2009. Some of the folks on Twitter...or "twits" as I would call them...stated that Woods has no reason to apologize and we have no business in butting in this personal life. Well, yep, I would agree that if he were a normal person, he shouldn't have had to do what he did last night and we shouldn't have had to hear any of the sordidness. However, he is most definitely NOT a normal person, no matter how he or we would like him to be. He just happens to be the most talented golf player on the planet, he is a celeb, and he is a publicly known person. As much as he, and a lot of us, would wish that he didn't have to step up to the podium and basically dress himself down for his sins, being a public person means that, like it or not, he has to answer for things that the vast majority of us can relievedly sweep under the rug. I know it's not fair but it's frankly the price for fame and fortune.

In any case, I just had The Intellectual and The PA today. Pretty smooth going, and The PA aced her Final test for the textbook. She can go onto the next book, and it looks pretty good that she's gonna be renewing with us...which will make the bossman happy. Will be heading home in a few minutes to cook up some dinner.

Friday February 20, 4:35 p.m.
Yesterday, I continued to fulfill that one New Year's Resolution to try new things and go to new places. So, I decided to make the 65-minute train up to Saitama City where I could visit the world's only John Lennon Museum...placed right in Saitama Super Arena. Now, I've got no idea why a museum devoted to one of the 20th-century's premier singer-songwriters was installed in a gigantic soccer stadium. The area surrounding the arena and the closest train station, JR Saitama Shintoshin is an urban concrete jungle, right out of "Logan's Run"...nothing remotely resembling the Liverpudlian skyline. For that matter, I'm not sure why it was even built in the wilds of Saitama. When Lennon was alive, he, Yoko and Sean would head over to Japan on vacation, but to the resort area of Karuizawa (kinda like Banff, Alberta), not to a satellite town on the Keihin-Tohoku Line.
But I digress. I went into the arena where the museum was located. There was a collage of John's photos all the way from childhood to middle age while various Beatles tunes were playing over the speakers. I went up to the 4th floor where Reception was and gave my 1500 yen. Not too many people there but it was indeed a Friday morning. However, I also think that the museum has probably been rather starved of customers for some time now since the announcement was made late last year that the JLM would be closing its doors for the last time this September.
As part of the tour, me and the three other visitors had to sit on a 7-minute mini-bio concering the granny-glassed Beatle which quickly summed up Lennon's life, before we could start the walkabout through the museum. And then it was a pretty straightforward stroll going through the various phases of his life: sad childhood, Beatles, Yoko Ono, retired househusband and then his work on "Double Fantasy" before his untimely end in 1980. It was pretty interesting although I'm not a huge Beatles fan, let alone a fan of John Lennon. The museum itself has been running for about 10 years...a good run, to be sure. But I'm not surprised that the museum will finally be closing up shop...the exhibit was obviously professionally done and with love but, as I've said, it's a pretty straightforward telling. There's no real need to see it more than once, and I couldn't see anyone except for the most rabid of fans making their way across the Pacific, and I think those folks had already made the pilgrimage early on in the 21st century.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thursday February 18, 3:33 p.m.

In the lull of a donut hole right now. I had Grandma FON earlier this morning...still tons of energy for a 78-year-old; peppered me with enough questions to last a whole class. And then later on tonight, I have Mr. TOEFL.

And therefore, I went down to Kinokuniya in Shinjuku Times Square to pick up yet another TOEFL text with accompanying CDs to sate his hunger for dry test runs. I finally got to use that much belated point card that the bookstore has finally gotten to undertake. Picked up the text, plus the issue of "Entertainment Weekly" covering the Oscars. The big question is whether any movie will trump "Avatar"; I just want to know if there will ever be an Oscar show that will be entertaining for 3 hours.

I also picked up a couple of cakes from New York's Gramercy in the depachika section of Takashimaya since both Ray and La Fille are celebrating birthdays...the latter one enjoying her big day today. I would've have already presented the sweets to the sweets, but they're both in a fairly serious meeting with the bossman right now.

Was rather surprised to wake up this morning to see a thin blanket of snow on the ground and roofs, and flurries blowing all over the place in my neighbourhood. Looks like Tokyo got an unprecedented 2nd accumulative snowfall in one season. It truly is an unusual Winter. However, pretty much all of it is gone now since the sun has come up.

The Olympics have settled into their daily groove. No more medals for Japan since they clinched a Silver and a Bronze from their Speed Skating force, but it looks like Bad Boy Kaz Kokubo may be making up for his supposed faux pas in the Snowboard Half-Pipe. Canada's picked up another Silver from their Women's Short Track.

Since I've got nada until the juku lessons tomorrow night, I'm thinking about visiting the John Lennon Musueum in Saitama...just for the heck of it, and because the place will be closing down after about a decade at the end of this year.
Wednesday February 17, 8:49 p.m.

Finished up with 001. Basically, it was just a comedy act between the two of us; no text whatsoever. I think sometimes that such classes make for a good palate cleanser. And yep, she's still addicted to Aiba-kun from Arashi. She'll be heading off for another ski pilgrimage up to Hokkaido this weekend. Must be nice to be loaded with time and money.

Got yet another belated Valentine's Day present from Grandma Dynamite. She apparently had come in during my lesson with 001 to drop off some Godiva's Chocolate. She won't be coming in for a long while this time....maybe after Golden Week in May since she has to tend to her ailing daughter. That list for White Day just keeps getting longer...

Droopy had her very first lesson with the bossman himself since I was busy (gratefully so) with 001. Looks like Speedy has the better touch with her since she apparently said that she actually enjoyed the lesson. I'll be very happy to tip my hat to the better teacher. And as it turns out, she'll be having Speedy on Tuesday next week...the day that I'm not here at the school.

And I am getting hungry since I haven't had dinner be off.

Wednesday February 17, 5:54 p.m.

The CEO was as vivacious as usual. Although the actual material isn't quite that engaging, the student herself helps things go along smoothly.
Got some further belated Valentine's Day stuff from Grandma Enka and Mrs. Speedy. Two more to add to the White Day list. At this rate, I can likely include diabetes as a reason for death.

I read that the Olivia Newton-John tune, "Physical" was rated as the sexiest song in history. Pure and chaste Olivia trumping Madonna and Lady Gaga? Well, not her perhaps but the song itself. Still it's a bit hard to believe that a 1981 pop song could outdo some of the racier stuff from recent years. Just remember my old high school buddies bringing over the album to my place and playing the record over and over again until I was ready to boycott the Aussie.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wednesday February 17, 12:10 p.m.

Ironically, what was once a Hump Day during my week is now a pretty empty one. I've only got The CEO and 001 today...although The CEO will keep me on my toes. I also received a surprise phone call from none other than Swank...another high-level talker on the same level as The CEO. I haven't seen her since the early Fall but she wants to start up those Monday lessons in Roppongi Hills, although I'm pretty sure we won't be outside this time. It's been pretty chilly out there, and we even got some wet snow last night in Chiba.

Speedy has to teach that really Droopy lady I had the model lesson for nearly a couple of weeks back. I hope the bossman has better luck than I do. I will probably know what's happening by the loudness of the silence in the next room.

Actually now, my Mondays and Tuesdays will serve as the Hump Days....pretty logical considering they're at the beginning of the work week. Now that Swank is coming back into the fold, I'll end up teaching as much as 7 hours' worth of classes; Swank has asked for a 2.5-hour session! And my juku lessons have definitely gotten a lot busier since Mr. White has returned and with the addition of Sugar & Spice and Mr. Nice Guy to my evening slate. The thing is, though, The Ace will be finishing off his time with the juku at the end of this month since he'll be going onto new and better things. He and I had a good run...around 3 years.

I'm rather happy to exclaim that Japan managed to double its entire medal total of 2006 Turin in one event. Yesterday, two of the speed skaters grabbed Silver and Bronze behind the South Korean winner. Those South Koreans pretty much own the event.

I did want to catch the Women's Snowboard Cross this morning. I ended up waking up at the slightly more reasonable hour of 5 a.m. rather than 3 a.m. for the Men's Cross, but the Women's event was plagued by several holds due to fog, and a lot of the athletes were just tumbling all over the course. By the time things finally got settled, NHK had to veer away from live coverage to give the news. C'est dommage, but I'm pretty sure YouTube will help out in that cause later on.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tuesday February 16, 1:49 p.m.
Being a child of two worlds (sorry, I did lift that from "Star Trek"), I'm rather lucky to say that I can cover all the angles by supporting both Canada and Japan. And it looks like Canada is holding up its end of the bargain after 4 full days of competition. Jennifer Heil got her Silver in Women's Moguls, a fellow by the name of Bilodeau got Gold for the Men's Moguls while we got another Silver in Snowboard Cross early this morning. And I believe there was a Bronze in there somewhere.
Meanwhile, Japan has still been trying to get a 2-ton gorilla off its back since the Turin Games of 2006 when its Olympic team could only manage to secure one Gold via Shizuka Arakawa in Women's Figure Skating. One of the country's big hopes, Aiko Uemura, was hoping to get any sort of medal after 4 tries, in Women's Moguls but just slipped into 4th place after the very final entrant from Canada got the Gold. And so far, Japan's splash into the Games has caused very few ripples so far. Looks like everyone's gonna be hoping for the two MAs: Miki Ando and Mao Asada in Figure Skating.
I guess even Japan is not immune to bad boys in sports. One dreadelocked and nose-pierced snowboarder by the name of Kazuhiro Kokubo has ruffled some major feathers, mostly within the media, by being himself. He landed in Vancouver wearing his official Olympic suit as if it were a high school uniform worn by a hip-hop punk, and managed to alienate the reporters by having that blase attitude that some celebs have taken during a press conference. Now, I've got no problems with him looking like Eddy Grant...after all, snowboarding is a hip-hop sport; but I think he needed to give a bit more respect to the Olympics. Having said that, the Japanese media has once again overreacted over a fellow who's not an evil dude. Yep, he needs some attitude readjustment...which I think he got a taste of via the JOC leader, former Olympian and current pol Seiko Hashimoto...but I think he just hasn't been exposed to public relations as of yet. He's been given some punishment by not being allowed into the Opening Ceremonies, but then I don't think he really cares about any of that pomp and circumstance. And if he manages to secure a medal later this week, then I think all of that media witchhunting will go out the window.

Tuesday February 16, 1:41 p.m.
Well, the Vancouver Games are finally here. I've been keeping up a steady viewership via NHK and the commercial stations. The opening ceremonies were in keeping with past openings...the happy entrance of the athletes, some fun moments, some boring ones, and some cheesy ones (hello, Nelly).
Have to admit that it was a fine moment to give that tribute and one-minute silence for that Georgian luger who had died so horrifically in the training accident.
As for the musical interludes, the official theme by Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado was the usual "inspirational" pop pap and instantly forgettable. I much rather enjoyed hearing Joni Mitchell's softer version of "Both Sides Now" and K.D. Lang's take on "Hallelujah". Of course, NHK cut those two songs in the rerun and kept the Adams and Furtado thing....I swear that the latter was mincing on the stage as if she were charging 10 cents a dance.
And to see The Great One himself take the final torch pretty much ended any debate on who's the most beloved hockey player, Gretzky or Lemieux.