Friday, May 21, 2010

Saturday May 22, 1:06 p.m.

Finished with The Intellectual. Always a fine conversationalist...and he makes some of the finest speeches on the simplest topics. He doesn't have perfect structure but his speeches have a lot of heart and honesty in them. The Intellectual is one of those students that I don't really have to prep too much for (although, as a (ahem) professional, I still do) to get a good performance from him. The Businesswoman is also one of those on that list, along with The Beehive. But on the other side of things, there are certain students that I have to carefully construct a lesson plan since their level of proficiency or confidence or both are low. And also there are those whose demands and expectations are seemingly quite high. Such students include The Medicine Man and The CEO here at Speedy's, and at the juku, there is Mr. Nice Guy and Sugar N' Spice. And amongst my private students, there is The New Yorker. These students are sprinkled liberally throughout my week, so in a way, it's good to keep me from going complacent.

I asked Ray and she hasn't heard anything from The Medicine Man since his sudden cancellation on Monday. He probably now has the record for the student to cut his lesson so soon before start time. At this rate, it's possible (knock on wood) that I may end up just having Cozy and Swank this Monday with the rest of the day free. SIL is off next week and after her, it's just several hours of waiting before Medicine Man shows up in the last slot of the day.
Saturday May 22, 11:18 a.m.

Back at Speedy's for what is just one lesson. A bit of a waste, but The Intellectual is always a good student.

Yesterday was basically an unofficial start to Summer. The mercury went all the way up to 29 C; that's good sweating weather, and by the time I finally got home last night, I was funkier than James Brown. Not quite as hot and humid today but still nice out there. However, the next couple of days will see a prelude to the Rainy Season.

Had my usual round of Friday students. The Bass had a good session with me in the morning. Enjoyed the listening exercise on earthquakes. He also has a gig in Shinjuku next Saturday which I plan to attend...partially in penance for missing out on his other concert back during Golden Week. The venue is in Kabukicho...hopefully, nothing too untoward will happen to me out there.

Made a brief pit stop home and had o-bento before I hit the road again and went to teach Mr. Swank. Good guy but not exactly as high as his wife in terms of ability. Speaking of Swank herself, I'll be catching her next Monday. Hopefully, she'll be over her cold by then.

Then I got back over to Urayasu. Had my biweekly dinner over at The Restauranteur's. This time, I went for a Hamburg Steak with Mushroom Sauce. Pretty good and packed with meat; The Restauranteur was glad that I'd enjoyed the dinner since children have come to remark that the hamburgs were a bit too "tough"...apparently, the stewed burgers are in right now and they basically break apart at a single touch.

Actually bought a couple of discs at Tower Records in Shinjuku on Thursday. Quite disparate, too. One is Donald Fagen's "Kamakiriad"...his second solo album coming about 11 years after the legendary "Nightfly"; Donald seems to enjoy releasing discs about once a decade. I think his third, "Morph The Cat" just came out 4 years ago. Not a bad disc...somewhat funkier than "Nightfly".

Then, the other one is New Order's "Technique"...basically an 80s dance disc. Haven't had a chance to listen to all of the tracks yet but I definitely had a go with "Fine Time" and "Round & Round".

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thursday May 20, 8:03 a.m.

One of those late night-early morning transitions that I'm getting really tired of. And it's raining, to boot. I felt exhausted last night for some wasn't as if I'd had The Medicine Man; actually it was a good lineup of Mr. TOEFL, The Businesswoman and The Music Man. Mind you, The Businesswoman looked and spoke like she'd run a couple of marathons and lost. With the Music Man, we spoke about that maggot-ridden Sardinian cheese, Casu Marzu...yes, lovely stuff to read about during breakfast.

At least...for now, anyways...I should be finishing things astonishingly early today. I've got The Patent Attorney and Grandma Dynamite here and then The New Yorker over in Shinjuku. And that will be all she wrote. No night classes at all. And it looks like I may have a completely free Sunday since Mr. Jyuppie sent word that he has to make a sudden trip over to Manila on business.
Wednesday May 19, 8:00 p.m.

Got through Mr. TOEFL's 3rd-last lesson with us before he makes that great big leap to North Carolina next month. Quite a contrast with that other student.

I was looking forward to that grand re-appearance of Grandma FON after a couple of months away, but La Fille informed me that the lass has had to cancel her lesson tomorrow since she's still having heart problems. Not a good thing to hear especially at her advanced age, and especially she lives alone in a house.

Well, I've just got The Businesswoman and The Music Man and I'll be done for the day.
Wednesday May 19, 6:02 p.m.

Just finished with Speedy's student, The Young Turk. Nice enough fellow but pretty loosey-goosey attitude. As it was, we just barely got through 2 pages of the text. The bossman gave me his usual bemused attitude when I told him.

Mr. TOEFL will be about 10 minutes late which gives me a bit of a breather. Lackadaiscal attitudes can drain one.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wednesday May 19, 3:28 p.m.

It was another long but interesting gig at the juku last night. First off, Mr. White and I had another one of our sidetracking talks away from the text about Korean alcohol and the like. In a way, he reminds me of The German here at Speedy's since that is what we usually do here as well.

Then it was Sugar N' Spice. Man, these kids are probably the giddiest teens I've ever taught. Always drain myself teaching those two, but in a good way. Way more fun than Chip N' Dale or The Elder/The Younger.

As for The Milds, Mrs. Mild came straight from Narita from her trip to The Czech Republic last week, and we spent the hour on her pics of the country. A lot of Middle Age architecture and palaces. Ended up getting an envelope, postcards, a pen and a coaster as souvenirs.

And finally, I had Mr. Nice Guy. He peppered me a ton of questions, as he usually does. I really appreciate that...I'd rather have a guy like that instead of someone who just seems to want to absorb stuff by osmosis insteasd.

I've yet to teach my first lesson today but that should be remedied in little over an hour from now. So I enjoyed a somewhat leisurely morning and early afternoon. Watched "Leverage" and "Lie To Me" on Fox Cable over the past 24 hours. I've become a dedicated fan of both shows. Always enjoy the two Tims (Hutton and Roth).

Ended up going to Shinjuku again and bought some patching stuff for the holes in my trousers. Being the size of guy I am, tears are just gonna be a part of my life.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tuesday May 18, 2:34 p.m.

Definitely feeling a lot like summertime out there. It's even feeling rather stuffy in the I-Cafe. Had The Beehive this morning. Mrs. Alp will be going with her husband over to Portugal for a week starting from tomorrow, and Mrs. Mild will be returning to Japan from The Czech Republic after about a week there today...that is, if the planes haven't been grounded due to that volcano in Iceland.

I have the usual lineup at the juku tonight. It'll be another 3h45 min of classes. Fortunately, I don't have to start until the late afternoon tomorrow.
Monday May 17, 10:13 p.m.

Well, I guess it's better late than never. Medicine Man called in with just 15 minutes before his class was to begin to cancel. I think that's a record dotakyan. I don't really mind, though, since he can be rather tiring to teach and at least I could do a lot of stuff on Facebook and Mixi before going home. Friends on both sites must be wondering how much time I have on my hands, though.

Also, I still get paid since Medicine Man canned his lesson on the day of. Not a bad policy at all.

Anyways, I'm pretty much tuckered out so I'm headed home now.

Monday May 17, 8:18 p.m.
Swank called me last night to cancel today's lesson due to an illness so I found myself with several hours to kill between Cozy and SIL, so I just headed over to Akihabara once more. The main reason is that I just had to get my share of doner kebab...the seemingly de rigueur dish of Akiba. The slowly rotating vertical cylinders of reconstituted meat seem to be downright ubiquitious in the area. There's now even a corner area right in the heart of things which has three trucks, two of which serve the kebab.
I went for the chicken doner kebab this time around since I usually have either pork or beef. It was still the same price for the Big Boy...600 yen and I bought myself a Coke Zero, but with all those calories packed into the pita, I don't think even a zero-calorie soft drink would've meant much.
As it was, I think I would prefer my usual beef or pork kebab. For some reason the halal chicken just didn't do it for me. Oh, it was good but not quite as good as the other two meats. I was lucky in that the trucks provided benches for me to enjoy the lunch. The other locations for doner kebab are purely standing room. As I ate, I could see the maids still plying their trade on the street. And strangely enough, one of them managed to snag one customer. The lass led him to the cafe of choice.
I have The Medicine Man in another hour. Hopefully, he'll be just a bit more talkative tonight.

Monday May 17, 6:50 p.m.
With a rare Saturday completely off and just Yashima on Sunday for lessons, I was able to get an even rarer weekend of cooking in. I decided to go with the Changuumu cookbook for my choices. "Changuumu" was a popular Korean drama imported during the still-popular Hanryu Boom (all things Korean) into Japanese pop culture; it dealt with the kitchen staff of the ancient Royal House of Korea...perhaps when it was still known as Kogyuryo. The show often presented some of these royal dishes being deliciously made. A cookbook was published under the auspices of NHK, which was responsible for its being shown here, and my old student, The OL, got me a copy a number of years ago.
There are several recipes in the book but I've only always gone for two of them: meccho and miso chige. Meccho is basically pork slices mixed into a miso mixture of sake, sugar, sesame oil, green onions, etc. while miso chige is a hot pot-like dish with beef, clams and spicy Korean miso.
As you can see, the reality was quite different from the fantasy. For the meccho, I got the pork from the juku boss who somehow procured a good amount of pork shoulder from her niece (I always get the most interesting of side benefits at the juku). The recipe called for the pork to be fried in a pan but the show had the slices grilled so I decided to go with my fish grill in the oven. Hmmm....I'm now a bit wiser about that. The pork was still very much pink in the middle, and since I really wanted to spend a weekend sans worms, I ended up using the pan anyways. Thus, I got a somewhat more charred dish...still pretty good to eat with the rice.
The miso chige underwent some rather major changes. Instead of beef, I used chicken. Instead of Korean miso, I used regular Japanese miso. And the veggies that were to go into the pot also got changed. Basically, it was more of my own hot pot than that depicted in the book. Still, I was quite happy with the results there as well.

Monday May 17, 6:34 p.m.
Ironic I'm starting this entry about one of my favourite restaurants while I'm starting to get hunger pangs.
On Friday, I met up with the Anime Chamberlain at Ginza Station's Exit A3 on a warm, sunny Spring day so that I could show him the culinary pleasures of Genkatsu just across from the Wako Clock Tower.
Genkatsu is a tonkatsu restaurant with a difference. It specializes in making its pork cutlets by slicing the pork into 25 thin slices and then putting all those slices together into one cutlet and letting the oil do the rest of its magic. The result is tonkatsu with an airier but still flavorful taste with plenty of juice to gush out in the mouth. Taking full advantage of that fact, the restaurant also stuffs the space between the layers with options of garlic, cheese, shiso leaf or sesame. It's all good to me.
The Anime Chamberlain and I both went for the most expensive item on the menu since it was a special occasion...the 2,250-yen kurobuta course. As you can see from the upper left picture, we got our usual share of shredded cabbage, miso soup and rice. The actual tonkatsu itself looked smaller but plumped up. And it still provided plenty of mouthwatering satisfaction as we downed it. The Chamberlain is usually a pretty finicky eater. During the various times that I've eaten with him in Tokyo, he has been somewhat less than whelmed with my picks of restaurants...and that even includes my fave ramen joint, Foo Foo. However, even he admitted that Genkatsu provided the best tonkatsu he's ever had. Success on two fronts. I ended up getting a point card from the restaurant...I don't know if I'll be going that much, but I figure that a lot of the other items on the menu are half the price of the kurobuta course so it shouldn't hurt me too badly if I go there once a month.