Friday, April 30, 2010

Saturday May 1, 1:15 p.m.
MayDay! The day itself and not the SOS. I'm sure a lot of the Communist regimes (what few of them there are left) are having their little proletarian celebrations. I just had my final lesson before I really get into Golden Week. Miss Prissy hadn't been here in almost a month, and unfortunately, it showed in her fluency...or lack thereof. Even in her prime, she was fairly molasses-like in her delivery. Well, today, these were molasses in the dead of Winter. I almost felt like whacking her with a newspaper to speed things up. Instead, I just calmly mentioned that we would be reviewing part of the lesson next time...for speed purposes...a bit of a shot across the bow.
Now, as for the picture above. That is the Akasaka Prince Hotel. The ruffled triangular shape has made the hotel one of the most distinguishing pieces of architecture in Tokyo for decades. I first came upon it via one of my brother's photos when he had come back from his month-long trip in Japan in the early 80s. Seeing that building pretty much cemented the image of The Big Sushi as a technopolis of considerable merit. Well, that building is gonna be coming down next year. I just read yesterday in "The Japan Times" that as of April 2011, the Aka-Puri, as it is known amongst the hoi polloi, will cease operations and most likely be torn down. It's a bit of a pity because of its architectural prominence, but then this is Tokyo. Sentimentality and history haven't had much of a place here as it has in many other major cities such as London or Berlin. Economy of land is one such reason, but the other I guess is the fact that buildings have been razed either from war or natural disaster over the past century.
To be honest, I had actually met Paddy at the Akasaka Prince some years ago. And the lobby struck me as being somewhat faded in glory. Kinda like an architectural version of Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard"; she used to be something but had long been superceded by other more modern constructs. And yet, until recently, the hotel was still the power spot for the political elite...i.e. the LDP wonks...and probably the yakuza as well...which frankly turned me off the place even more.
Still, it'll be kinda weird not seeing that shape in Akasaka anymore. But then again, we all have the Tokyo Sky Tree and other new shapes to look forward in the decade to come. Tokyo is an organic city...even if stuff comes down, there will always be stuff coming up.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday April 30, 3:39 p.m.

Golden Week has arrived...and we've got the weather to match! Finally, weather that doesn't require an umbrella or a sweater to sport. It looks pretty promising for the rest of the holiday, too.

The traffic is certainly reflecting the holiday as well. According to NHK, about 46,000 people were on the move at airports and train stations. Compared to the 120 million who live on this archipelago, less than 50,000 folks may sound like a drop in the bucket but try saying that while looking at the footage of Narita and Haneda. And perhaps the numbers don't include the cars that were stuck on the nation's freeways. The holiday backups of 50 km were back to make the expressways the largest parking lots on the planet.

I'm doing my usual bit for GW and staying put in my little city. Showa Day yesterday had me luxuriating in a long bit of sleep...didn't get up til 11 a.m. And I just went to the supermarket to get some fixins for dinner last night. I actually have an hour worth's of classes tonight with just the juku boss and The Restauranteur. And then it's only Miss Prissy for a rare Saturday morning lesson at Speedy's. Ordinarily, I would've been rather unhappy about having to come to school for just one hour but then again, I did say that I would do some shopping over GW so I'm gonna indulge at Nakano Broadway and perhaps even head over to Shinjuku to pick up some DVDs.

I had to send out my Mother's Day card and present over this afternoon since by the time the post offices are back in operation in the latter half of next week, it'll be too late to send them in time back to The Great White North.

Skippy has sent me that word about getting together next week for Eggs N' Things, that new Hawaiian restaurant that has opened up in Harajuku.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday April 28, 10:46 p.m.

Well, it's been a day. I've taught an art student, a jazz-vocalizing CEO, a nurse with a Germanic accent, a university counselor and a mysterious music man today. Quite the potpourri of students. And now I'm off to enjoy a day off tomorrow due to Showa Day, aka Emperor Hirohito's birthday.

I will really want to luxuriate in sleeping in late and perhaps even partaking in a sinful afternoon nap.

But I have to admit that I got a real kick from my Mixi Doctor Who fan who showed me some YouTube parodies of "Doctor Who" credits done via "The Love Boat", "Dallas" and "Charlie's Angels".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wednesday April 28, 1:24 p.m.

This is basically gonna be a truncated work week since Golden Week is now almost upon us. Tomorrow's Showa Day will start things off. Happily, the temps are now more reflective of the current season and not of the extended Winter. So I can hold off on my pun of Cold-en Week for this year.

Yesterday at the Beehive session, Mrs. London came in. As I've mentioned before, she's the one who got me introduced to The Queen Bees all those years ago. She's been in-and-out of the group over the past decade, but it seems like that she'll be having a bit more regularity in her visits since it's been decided that she'll be appearing at the end of every month, and then she even stated that she would be coming weekly from the beginning of next April. Now, that's an advance reservation.

The juku sessions were OK. Mr. White is most definitely a Koreaphile...he's been working hard on his Korean and has started watching TBS' very first addition of a Korean drama to its prime time lineup last Thursday. The show is titled "Iris" and is a spy drama which was filmed in far-flung places like Hungary, Korea and even this country's Akita Prefecture. As a result, the Korean tourists have been flocking to the northern territory. I only had the one sister...Spice, for her hour. Still did well and gabbed non-stop. As for The Milds, I found out that Mrs. Mild will once again be touring Europe without the hubby...this time, the stop will be The Czech Republic. And Mr. Nice Guy has been stumbling through his grammar gamely.

Today, I find myself with a pretty busy Wednesday. 001 won't be here but I just had a model lesson...quiet but game young university student. And I'll be having The CEO in about 90 minutes, followed by The German, and then later in the evening, The Businesswoman and The Music Man.

The local controversial starlet of these shores, Erika Sawajiri...or Lady the media wonks have dubbed her since she started giving off major 'tude a few years ago at a press conference has been hitting the front pages of the papers way too much since she announced her intention to divorce her hubby. It just so happens that Lady Erika married a guy almost 2 decades older than her...which at her age (early twenties), pretty much made it inevitable that she would be a future ex-wife. In a country where public divorces are a dime a dozen, Lady Erika's breakup should only merit a day's worth of press, but then we are talking about Lady Erika. She (may have) mentioned that she found her husband, kimoi (gross); I think any guy in his 40s who marries someone barely out of her teens deserves the label and should've been obvious to the starlet.

Wednesday April 28, 1:11 p.m.
Next on the list of disaster-movie-in-more-ways-than-one from Saturday, MB and I had our usual DVD Night at his place. We caught "2012" which was basically a mix of "Independence Day" and "The Day After Tomorrow". It starred John Cusack who seems to have an affinity for this kind of movie. It was a purely popcorn movie without the salt and depth to it at all except for the special effects. And of course, there was the perquisite rousing scene of survivors whooping it up at the end.
The next day, I had to leave MB's a bit earlier than usual since I had that 2-hour lesson with my newest student, Yajima, over in Den'en-Chofu. He picked me up at the station and we passed once more by PM Hatoyama's house. Still only 2 cops in front of the place which means that the Prime Minister is still hard at work in Nagatacho. Although for how much longer I'm not sure with his plummeting ratings...perhaps he and the missus will be spending more time there after July. There were about 90,000 angry constituents in Okinawa amassing for a protest against the Futenma Base.
After the lesson, I went over to Harajuku and Meiji-Jingumae just to see the characters there. As it turned out, there weren't all that many. There was that flaming transvestite from last week, the neon pink-haired girl taking pictures with the foreign tourists and folks willing to give Free Hugs. The Free Huggers were making some business but the customers were basically foreign. This is pretty much the wrong country to have that sort of thing since public affection is still sorta frowned upon, but within a couple of generations, who knows?

Wednesday April 28, 10:29 a.m.
Yup, it's been one of those weekends...and weeks. Not enough time to blog until now, and I think I'm taking a bit of a risk by doing so now since I've got a model lesson from 11 a.m.
As for the above, it was indeed a hodgepodge of everything. After having my lone lesson on Saturday, I met up with the usual movie crowd...all masculine this time. MB, Frodo, The Satyr and I gritted our teeth and caught "Clash of the Titans" at Wald 9 in Shinjuku. We'd come in with the assumption that the movie was probably not gonna be anywhere near Oscar-bait. Seeing the title misspelled on our tickets as "Crash of the Titans" was a definite example of foreshadowing...and the literary technique was better used on our stubs than anywhere in the movie.
Never saw the original with Ray Harryhausen and Harry Hamlin...something about seeing a future "L.A. Law" actor in a mini-skirt that didn't attract me. The new movie was basically an excuse for otherwise excellent actors to wallow around in scriptwriting mud! Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes got together for the first time since "Schindler's List" to play Zeus and Hades respectively....only to be saddled with some of the worst dialogue that a B-movie could permit. The other weird thing was that there were a few other distinguished actors in blink-and-miss-them roles that lasted all of one line and three tu, Pete Postlewaithe and Danny Huston? I think the only good thing about "Crash of the Titans" is that it gave the four of us hours of bantering pleasure at J.S. Burger Cafe across from JR Shinjuku. Yup, that was my second weekend in a row on the Burger doctor would have conniptions right now. No real comparison between my Bacon Cheese there and the one at The Great Burger in Omotesando...just the impression that the one at J.S. seemed to be a bit bigger.
Time is growing short before the model lesson. But I will mention about the top left picture. That was at Meiji-Jingu just across from Harajuku where the weekends mean a lot of foreigners taking shots of photogenic goth-loli and other intriguing folks of nature. In fact, the young woman above seems to be a melding of the two...more later.