Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday May 13, 10:45 p.m.

And another teaching day comes to an end. I finished up with The Carolinan and The Music Man tonight. The Carolinan had a couple of revelations for me: 1) she confessed that she has been doing omiai duty...omiai meaning "arranged wedding" meetings with prospective suitors, and 2) she's just dying to see the cast from "Sex and The City" when they come over either in late May or early June when the movie gets out here. It might be time to call in a favor from the Publicity Agent.

Then with the Music Man, we entered the topic of exotic food such as bee larvae. Japan has its own batch of intriguing cuisine, starting with tsukudani, grasshoppers covered in soy sauce and sugar and boiled. The Music Man told me about a small town in Sardinia in which the folks there eat maggot-ridden cheese...what a conversation piece.

Anyways, time to go home.
Wednesday May 13, 4:24 p.m.

Feeling a bit run down...going at it for 2 days straight can do that to a man in his forties.

Just came back from Shinjuku after teaching The New Yorker. Looks like she had a bit of musical excitement after she and her fellow salon mates were given free tickets by the leader of The Tower of Power at her salon to see his band's performance at Billboard Live last night at Tokyo Midtown. She'd never heard of The Tower of Power let alone seen them live but said that she enjoyed them. My attempts to educate her via the band's association with folks such as Huey Lewis & The News and David Sanborn only revealed that she was never really into the 80s. The free tickets were a good thing, too. She would've had to pay 9,000 yen a person otherwise.

Just two more lessons to go.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thursday May 13, 11:12 a.m.

Well, got through the first two with little problem. Found out from The Patent Attorney that he'd had a number of odd jobs when he was a young man, including that of set designer for concerts. He got to see folks like Tom Jones and The Eagles for free. Plus, I also found out that he had been a Boy Scout...not that Boy Scouts and Tom Jones would have anything in common.

Then there was Grandma Dynamite. Somehow, through our free-association type of class, I was able to come up with a plan for next class in terms of the English being used at her stationery shop.

I should be heading out in the next 15 minutes since I've got The New Yorker at the Starbucks in Shinjuku.
Thursday May 13, 8:17 a.m.

Still rather chilly out there in the mornings. One would think that Tokyo was in the Southern Hemisphere rather than the Northern Hemisphere.

I'd heard that the new UK PM, David Cameron was the youngest leader of Great Britain in almost 200 years but I was still rather surprised that he and his deputy, Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, were both all of 43 years of age. A year younger than me and ruling one of the big nations.

It's one of those "hit bed for a few hours then get back to work" days. I left here last night at about 9:30 and then was out of the apartment by 6:30 since I have the Patent Attorney and Grandma Dynamite back onto the morning schedule. Just glad that both students are talkers. Then I've got The Sisters of State in the afternoon before I finish up with The Music Man.

CNN's naivete was showing in full form yesterday with its entertainment article title "Most Disturbing Movie Ever?" It was focusing on a horror flick called "The Human Centipede". Apparently, cinema is still not done with torture porn quite yet since this deals with a mad doctor who sews together three folks surgically...a reverse-engineered Siamese Triplet operation, so to speak. From what I've read on sites such as Wikipedia and even from Roger Ebert, it's relatively mild compared to stuff like "Hostel" and "Saw", although there is one rather disgusting scene that I'll leave out of this commentary. Still, I think there are far more horrible and horrifying films out there....the notorious "Guinea Pig" series of Japan comes to mind and perhaps even the French "Martyrs" and the recent "Grotesque" by a taciturn Japanese director.
Wednesday May 12, 9:39 p.m.

Well, managed to get through the day intact. Basically, it was just chat with the teacher. Grandma Enka was the first, and then The CEO, who is a natural conversationalist, just helped breeze away the 90 minutes. Then, 001 was her usual lively self. And finally, Mr. TOEFL may be a bit more button-down than the ladies but we had some thoughtful discussion on belief systems (as you do). So I'm done for the day but I'll be back in less than 12 to have another long day.

The Anime Chamberlain, who's the very last of the otaku gang to still be in Tokyo, called me up to arrange lunch on Friday. I'll be taking him out to Genkatsu, the tonkatsu place in Ginza known for its famed mille-feuille katsu.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wednesday May 12, 2:32 p.m.
I was now in the second half of my odyssey from Asakusa to Shibuya using the Ginza Line as a guide. After getting out of Shimbashi quickly due to the loudmouthed ultra-right wingers, I ended up on the other side of the aural spectrum. Do you remember that scene in "Vanilla Sky" where Tom Cruise's character is running through a deserted Times Square? Well, I entered my own little version of that whilst walking through the next leg of Toranomon and Tameike-Sanno. Since both areas are heavily populated with office buildings, the holiday meant that the area was largely devoid of cars and people. It was like going through the concrete jungle after a neutron bomb had gone off.
However, I did come across one place of buzzing activity and that was the Free Cafe, Harimaya Station. Grandma Enka had first put me onto this cafe in the downtown area which boasts free tea and rice crackers. The only catch is that there is a showcase selling rice crackers right where the doors are so that the guilt factor can quickly impose upon one to buy something. I didn't even have the chance to feel guilty since the place was packed to the gills. Still, I will try it out sometime in the near future.
Then, I hit the ritzy entertainment district of Akasaka-Mitsuke where I came across the legendary Akasaka Prince Hotel with its jagged triangular design. All good things must come to an end, and so it will also be the same with this place since it has now been slated for demolition in about 10 months. During its peak, the Aka-Puri was Ground Zero for celebs and pols; the LDP even had unofficial headquarters on one of the floors for some time. But I gather that the shelf life has pretty much gone by. When I met Paddy there for dinner some years ago, even then when I traipsed through the lobby, I already had the impression that the place was now a faded had that archaic 80s look to it. Still, it'll be sad to see the ol' girl go.
Wednesday May 12, 1:32 p.m.

Had my monthly session with Grandma Enka. Always appreciate that she loves to talk.

Now, I'm just waiting for the remaining three students. I've got The CEO, 001 and Mr. TOEFL. Should actually get onto planning the lessons.

Pretty darn windy out there, even for Nakano-Sakaue. My work neighbourhood has always been affected by wind tunnel effect but at times, I wonder if even I could be literally swept off my feet.
Wednesday May 12, 11:15 a.m.

A bit drippy out there but it should start to dry up later this afternoon.

Met The Beehive for the first time since Golden Week. Mrs. Jade had gone on a bit of a recce through Shanghai, the site of the current expo. She brought back some interesting dried cherry tomatoes that taste like giant red raisins. Good with beer, she says. I tried them...yup, they're fine with me but the reaction was split with the students at the juku. Of course, Sugar N' Spice being teens had a completely wacky reaction with them.

In any case, it was a very long day on Tuesday since Cozy requested his lesson yesterday morning before I went and saw The Beehive. Then, of course, there were 4 hours of juku folks. Sugar N' Spice are nice kids and they like English, but I've come to the conclusion that they're not initiators by any means...they would be very content to be just spoon-fed their stuff, which means more work for me.

Some guy named Brown got his butt kicked once more and is now leaving with his head firmly between his legs. But this guy isn't Charlie but Gordon. After five days of one of the most exciting general elections in recent memory in jolly ol' England.

More later...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday May 10, 8:45 p.m.
Continuing on from last week's odyssey from Asakusa to Shibuya...after the relative excitement of Akihabara, the next half-hour of walking was fairly...well, pedestrian (ha-ha). Quickly scooted through Kanda and Mitsukoshi-mae before hitting the grand bridge of Nihombashi...that is, before it was overshadowed by a huge ugly expressway. Then, it was under that and straight through Kyobashi before hitting the Ginza. Since it was a national holiday last week, Ginza had its pedestrians' paradise (hokoten) so everyone was out in force on Chuo Avenue. I did see the latest addition to the grand avenue....another branch of Forever 21. There wasn't the kilo-long lineup but it certainly looked plenty crowded.
Then it was on to Shimbashi, at least the modern side of things, otherwise known as Shiodome. I went into the Shiodome City Center and up to the 42nd floor. Unfortunately, all of the restaurants had taken all the great viewing windows so I had to sneak in a couple of tight shots through the skylight. Then it was back down and I started walking over to Toranomon. Unfortunately, those pesky right-wingers and their black trucks started harassing some of the companies over toward Hibiya although the riot police kept them busy.