Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday March 27, 7:08 p.m.

Well, I have been here overtime. Ray left over an hour ago. I've just been able to complete 19 pages' worth of proofreading for The Corner's associate. Dunno what to name her...will wait until Monday or until I regain full use of my brain cells...whichever comes first. I need my sustenance right now. It may have to be Mickey D's once more, but there has to be more out there than Big Macs.

The proofreading wasn't too difficult but it was just long. At least, I won't have to go to the I-Cafe tomorrow. I've sent the whole kit and kaboodle back to her. She needs to know how to use quotes more judiciously. I had to muddle through whole series of conversations written like full paragraphs.

Looks like I've got Ms. HGL for my lone 2 hours on Wednesday. I was thinking of seeing the half-completed Tokyo Sky Tree up close and personal on that day; I can still do it though. But at least I've got most of the day off on Tuesday to get some nice duds for Paddy's big party the following Monday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Saturday March 27, 12:05 p.m.

It was one of those busy commuting days yesterday. In Funabashi for The Bass, then over to Shinjuku to see The New Yorker and The Bow, and finally over to Urayasu for the juku students. The New Yorker managed to survive and even enjoy her time in San Francisco, although she did undergo the infamous 3rd-degree grilling of Customs and Immigration post 9-11. I took a look at her photos...yep, there is a reason that The City By The Bay is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I even got a souvenir in the form of a package of Ghiradelli's Chocolate...shared those with the juku folks.

The Bow should've had her dinner with The Carolinan and four others in Tsukishima last night. The diner de jour was ankou nabe or angler hot pot. I've heard about this delicacy for years but one would have to pay me good money to get near that...I'm not into eating anything that looks like a cross between a fish and the Alien. And just the way the thing gets cut up into bits has never endeared me to it.

It was The Ace's last night at the juku...and at his company, for that matter. From April 1st, he'll be starting his new career via school and a part-time job as a care counselor. I guess, then, it was appropriate that we did spend an hour instead of his usual 30 minutes before he left us for good. It was quite a time for collecting goodies...the New Yorker with her Ghiradelli souvenir, and then The Ace with his goodbye gift of Japanese confections, and even the juku boss got me some snakcks made from soba flour. The Ace's departure was atypically good; usually, folks leave me awkwardly by just saying that they are "busy" (The Full-Timer) or by disappearing (The Coffemaker) and even on bad terms (The Jazz Buddy).

Today, I've just got The Publicity Agent and The Businesswoman for the first time in a month. There will probably be a lot of catching up. Plus, I'm on standby for a massive proofreading job from The Corner's former associate. I have to wait until 6 p.m....hopefully, the bossman doesn't show up today. In any case, I'll probably be in the Internet cafe for a few hours getting that job done.

Ray is back here in front of me. She isn't 100% yet but markedly better than on Thursday.

Rumor does have a certain destructive power. There was an incident yesterday on Takeshita-dori, the Harajuku street for teens that often has a population density of 1 million per square metre on the weekends. Well, a record may have been set unfortunately. There were false rumors on Friday that some famous tarento was in one of the myriad shops there which sent hundreds of kiddies on their Spring Vacation running. And then basically there was the Mother of All Scrums in which kids started falling dominoes. Miraculously, only 4 teens had to be taken to hospital.

Speaking of incidents, I was on the JR Sobu Line, heading from Funabashi to Shinjuku when the train got terminated at Suidobashi Station. Apparently, there was one of those jinshin jikou at Yotsuya Station. The line was forced to stop for a few hours, which usually means a jumper's guts had to be wiped off the tracks there. Just ended up having lunch at Mickey D's right across from Tokyo Dome and then walked the 10 minutes to the Toei Shinjuku Line.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday March 25, 7:40 p.m.

Another one of those somewhat lackadaisical sessions with The Carolinan. She kinda had that mopey demeanor throughout. But when she greeted La Fille, she was all smiles and slightly chirpier. I guess The Carolinan and I have just known each other for so long that we've become the equivalent of an old need to put on airs. However, it's only half-working; I'm still the teacher...I think I still have to put on my game face for a student.

Well, just one more lesson with The Music Man. I'm thinking of grabbing something across the street but the weather is so miserable outside. However, hunger calls...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thursday March 25, 4:05 p.m.
Well, this actor beside me must be wondering what he's in store for (although I think he must be admiring himself in the mirror here). Now, when one Googles "Matt Smith", there will always be the words "Doctor Who" beside his name. He's been basically typecast as the latest reincarnation of the Time Lord for about a year now, but I'm sure he's still wondering how everything is gonna go in a couple of weeks, when the entire sci-fi world will be tuning into his premiere. David Tennant must be googling his eyeballs, while he's twiddling his thumbs waiting whether or not his American sitcom, "Rex Is Not My Lawyer" will ever get the green light, as he watches all of the media hoopla surrounding his replacement's arrival. I don't ever recall the media blitz for him or Chris Eccleston ever being quite so intense. You'd think BBC has gone completely HOLLYWOOD. The trailers have become increasingly exciting with one scene of battling Spitfires in outer space harking back to the final battle scene in "Return of the Jedi".
And his new companion, Amy Pond, is getting a lot of attention and leg shown. In fact, some shrew is publicly complaining that "Doctor Who" should remain absolutely family-oriented. Uh-uh, lady....this is not your generation's "Doctor Who" and it hasn't been for years. Captain Jack's kissing both The Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler made sure of that.
In any case, I'm awaiting the first reviews, if not the first scenes. Unfortunately being here in Japan means several months of waiting.

Thursday March 25, 3:52 p.m.
Just when we old TV viewers were getting used to a world without Peter Graves, who had passed away last week, now I've just heard that Robert Culp of "I, Spy" fame has left this mortal coil. Over here, "I, Spy" never became the cult US hit that "Mission: Impossible" has been, but people could possibly remember him from his role on "The Greatest American Hero" or in his occasional villain roles on "Columbo". His partner on the show, Bill Cosby, has become the more high-profile celebrity over the decades, but there was still Culp's handsome good humour in what was a lighter spy series.
At this rate, Robert Vaughan might be getting a tad nervous. He's pretty much the only one left of all of the TV spy series stars of the 60s. Then, The Grim Reaper might start to go after the second bananas like Cosby, Landau and McCallum...and that last one has been enjoying a renaissance on "NCIS".
Thursday March 25, 3:16 p.m.

In a very long holding pattern right now. Ray left Speedy's a few hours ago since her cold was getting the worst of her. La Fille is filling in the time. Not that there is much to students and the bossman is out on business and will be for the rest of the evening. In fact, The Carolinan is still 3 hours away and The Music Man is 6 hours from now. That's quite a hole in this Donut Day.

Did get confirmation that The New Yorker is back safe and sound from her trip to San Francisco last week. If only that translated into improved English ability.
Thursday March 25, 9:00 a.m.

Back in the saddle again. I'll be here for the next 13 hours, and yet I only have 2 official Speedy classes and one private. There'll be a lot of work on Farmville, Cafe World and Social City today, of course without having the boss notice too much.

It is downright wintry today. Getting home last night, the hand holding the umbrella almost fell off due to the icy winds. I actually had to dust off the longjohns and heavy winter coat to get to work today.

I received an interesting memo via Shard on some advice that profane writer David Mamet may or may not have written to the writers on the long-defunct show, "The Unit". It was a good read. Basically, any scene that has two characters talking about a third is "....a crock of s**t". Gee, I kinda wonder what he must have thought of "The West Wing".

A strange thing....I received e-mail from one of The Corner's associates, a woman who I had a small tangle with over procedure during the translation project for Japanese ceramics last summer. Basically, my relationship with The Corner ended after that. But she apparently has her own gig now, according to her e-mail address, and has asked me to proofread a ton of material over the weekend. She initially asked me to tear through 40,000 words, but I said that would be difficult and counterproposed half of that (which would still be quite an undertaking for the weekend). So, probably no weekend for me.
Wednesday March 24, 8:48 p.m.

I opened up the school this morning, and I'm gonna close it in a few minutes. Ray has gone home feeling rather miserable due to a headache and a potential cold. But the trouper that she is, she's coming in for the early shift tomorrow. I don't think I can really pull that off anymore.

001 came in for her usual 90. Barrel of laughs. She still has that major crush on Aiba-kun of Arashi. She was disappointed that one of the Arashi shows finished its run, much to her surprise and dismay, on Monday. I told her that it may be because NTV is prepping them for a prime-time series, especially since one of Fuji-TV's flagship programs "Smap x Smap" will be wrapping up 14 years next week.

Anyways, I gotta head on home so that I can come back here bright and early again.
Wednesday March 24, 5:54 p.m.

Back to the present. It's been a lousy cold day today although we have officially passed the First Day of Spring...which is why we had the national holiday on Monday. I think I even saw a flake or two fly by the window during Miss HGL's lesson.

It seems as if a few people around me have been suffering from the cold or something. HGL was feeling somewhat chilly today, and currently Ray is under the weather. Even The Milds were not feeling anywhere near 100% last night, although they were game enough to come to the class.

Well, President Obama managed to pull off that miracle. He got his Health Plan Bill passed which he signed into law yesterday. It doesn't necessarily mean that he's saved his presidency; half of the population will probably make sure of that. However, it does mean that he doesn't necessarily have a failed one.

It's been a fairly quiet day with just Grandma Fado (the bossman is off at a fair today), HGL and now 001. It should be about the same tomorrow...Grandma FON and Mr. TOEFL have canned their lessons which just leaves Miss Prissy in the morning, and then The Carolinan and The Music Man in the evening. That'll be one big Donut Day!

Wednesday March 24, 4:50 p.m.
Some hours before my date with destiny at Blue Note Tokyo, I had met up with The Lens and his wife once more in Myogadani. The neighbourhood is one of those well-to-do areas near Ikebukuro. The couple is staying with The Romantic and his wife who live there for the week. We ended up having lunch at an Italian place called La Croce just across from the station.
La Croce didn't have much in the way of pretension. It was just one of those neighbourhood restaurants that catered to the local folk. The five of us had the lunch specials with mine being on the upper right. My special came to about 1250 yen...a good bargain considering where we were. I'm basically of the opinion that outside of the source country itself, Japan has the best Italian.
Then, we took a bit of a walk deeper into Myogadani before we reached a recommended gelato place called Super Frutto. The Romantic's wife (when she wasn't sending some of her snarky comments at me....the two of us don't get along too well [I'm a retired otaku, she's an ambitious shrew]) is a big fan, and as it turned out, the gelato was a refreshing contrepoint for the heavier lunch.
Wednesday March 24, 4:35 p.m.

While Saturday night was made for listening and seeing The Manhattan Transfer, Sunday night was the time for "Sherlock Holmes". In between was the mother of all windstorms. Overnight, there were some fierce gale-force winds which beat down on the Kanto.

As for the World's Greatest Detective, the movie had come out originally in North America right on Christmas Day but only came out last Friday here in Japan. MB, The Sylph and Skippy came out to see Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. It ended up being a split decision. MB liked it but I wasn't all that impressed.

Whereas Basil Rathbone was the embodiment of deductive logic in his deerstalker cap, and Jeremy Brett was the effete Doctor Who version back on 80s BBC, Robert Downey Jr. went for a mix of Tony Stark and perhaps his dissipated character from one of his earliest films, "Less Than Zero". I don't know...the film just seemed as foggy as the stuff that rolled across that film's London. And I just got somewhat bored of it all. It just seemed narcolepsy-inducing. Strangely enough, MB and I didn't really discuss it at dinner...not much to discuss really.

Afterwards, the four of us went to another Skippy recommendation nearby in Shinjuku. Lately, the new flavor of the month has been this Korean dish called Sundubu, a piping hot bowl of kimchi, tofu and other stuff. Restaurants selling the stuff have been hitting the various city centres. We tried out this one place in the basement...pretty small place, too. My version was the spicy one...and it sure had its fair share of capsicum. But it was awfully tasty.

Skippy was able to land on her feet once more in terms of job search...well, this time, it took a little while longer at 3 months, but she's working for some medical supplies company; something that she's never tried so it was a pretty fast and hard week for her.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wednesday March 24, 9:39 a.m.

A lot of stuff happened between Saturday and today, so I'll just segregate my entries. This one is on The Manhattan Transfer.

Yep, I finally entered the premier jazz joint in Tokyo to see one of the premier veteran jazz groups of the past century. Blue Note Tokyo is located in the appropriately swanky neighbourhood of Minami-Aoyama, the same area where I'd caught Ruiko Kurahashi back in December.

On entering Blue Note, it was kinda like entering an old-style theatre with a lot of the plush golds and browns. I went down to the basement where I gave my ticket and then got a paper disc with the number 38 denoting my place in the order of getting seated. I waited just half an hour before the count began.
When I heard my number called, the staffer led me further downstairs to the main hall where another staffer took me to my seat. He asked me nonchalantly whether I wanted to get a close-up view of the stage. I certainly did. And he escorted me to one of the tables. And that's one of the drawbacks of Blue Note that I'd heard about. The place is big but the non-reserved tables rather remind me of being in Economy Class on a plane. My image of a swanky jazz club has always been that of round tables with a certain discreet distance amongst them. However, the tables were all jammed up against each other as if we were in a cafeteria. So, I was all by myself between a couple and a group of middle-aged folk. And I had to make some yoga-like turns to face the stage, but then again, I was just 3 m away from it.
Also, came the fact that the food and beverages are pretty pricey. I would say that the food is overpriced. However, for the sake of being there, I ordered the Mas Que Nada cocktail for 1,000 yen....basically a tropical Shirley Temple. I definitely savored that drink at that price.
Then, came the Transfer. The radio-like announcer proudly introduced the group, and after being a fan for 35 years, I finally saw Tim Hauser, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel and Cheryl Bentyne in the flesh....3 metres away. At first, when they trundled up on stage, I became rather aware that they were no longer spring chickens. Alan looked like a retired hippie professor with a bit of a paunch showing on his otherwise still-lean frame, Janis had that motherly look with the glasses, Cheryl was showing a bit of wag in her arms, and Tim looked like my Dad in the Polo shirt and blazer...but then again, Tim has looked like my Dad for decades now. But when they opened their mouths, the glory days were back. It was just like listening to the CDs. They were not just old, but they were old pros.
Their raison d'etre for their current tour was to promote their latest album, "The Chick Corea Songbook", and the tunes were fine enough so that I'm thinking of buying my first original Transfer album in several years. But it was of course when they sang their hits such as "Route 66" and "Birdland" that the audience was just jumping. One fellow behind me believed that he was the secret 5th member and was just bopping and singing in the audience. Still, it was nice that the guys can still elicit this much love. It was almost eerie to see these four right in front of my eyes. They really brought the house down with "Trickle, Trickle".
The set itself was less than 90 minutes. But not too surprising considering their age and the fact that they have been pumping out 2 shows a night all over Japan at full blast.