Saturday, June 05, 2010

Saturday June 5, 4:10 p.m.

Listened to that soundtrack from "De-Lovely", the "nice-try-but-no-cigar" attempt at the Cole Porter biography with Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. The movie may not have been any great shakes but the songs were pretty nicely handled, although I do remember that the critics had their knives sharpened for Sheryl Crow's rendition of "Begin the Beguine". It's not the greatest version (Ann Margret is still the standard bearer for me) but it's not nearly that bad. There's also a "Doctor Who" connection in that John (Captain Jack) Barrowman and Jonathan Pryce (The Master in the parody "Curse of Fatal Death") both give their contributions. Well, if there were ever a "Doctor Who--The Musical".... The critics who slagged the movie fully give higher recommendations for "The Cole Porter Songbook"; so I ought to feel very happy about acquiring that album then.

The Intellectual was his usual dependably hard-working self. He finally got that iPad and showed it to me. It was a bit heavier than I thought, and frankly I'm not impressed by the fact that it's not multitasking, but my student was confident that there will be better versions coming out in the next few years.

As for the Publicity Assistant, she told me that she had been at the red carpet treatment for the ladies from "Sex And The City 2" in Roppongi Hills on Tuesday. Apparently, many of the women, dressed to the nines, were also openly weeping in joy and ecstasy at the appearance of their idols which apparently had Sarah Jessica Parker and one other cast member (I don't think it could've been Kim Cattrall...she just seems too armour-plated for waterworks) misting up something awful as well.

Well, I'm just about done here. I did some Mixi and got everything planned for Yajima's lesson tomorrow in Den'en-Chofu. Should be interesting as he drives me past the Hatoyama residence. I wonder if we'll have to go through a throng of security and mass media. I can't imagine him hanging out in Nagatacho anymore.

It'll be an interesting week next week. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday will be loaded for bear with lessons...potential nervous breakdown to follow...while Tuesday and Friday will only have the juku folks.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Saturday June 5, 11:09 a.m.

Got a couple today: The Intellectual and The Publicity Assistant. As for the latter, it ought to be interesting how the "Sex And They City" gang fared on Tuesday night.

It was a fairly easygoing day yesterday. I had my Friday regulars: The Bass in Funabashi, Mr. Swank in Shinjuku and then the juku boss plus The Restauranteur in Urayasu. Looks like The Bass and I will be heading out on the 19th for deepest, darkest Chiba to The Bingo Burger, a place that The Bass enjoys for good hamburgers. Will definitely be bringing my A-Game appetite for that one.

Mr. Swank has been an easygoing guy for me...perhaps a bit too easygoing. I realize that he's the president of his company which means that his time will be limited. But it's a bit tough to teach a person who's high enough to be roughly fluent but low enough to need help, and he doesn't really prep all that much for the lessons. He's already scheduled his next lesson the week after next and that'll be it for June. I'm just kinda wondering if he's decided to limit his lessons since he's no longer really up for weekly sessions.

Found out from the juku boss that I got Mr. White's request all wrong. He didn't want to change permanently to Fridays but only for that one Friday.

Japan's revolving door policy for wayward Prime Ministers has turned once more. After the fall of Hatoyama, we now have Naoto Kan, former Finance Minister, in the top job...or bull's-eye, if you will. Kan seems as if he will be less waffling than his predecessor, but again, it's anyone's guess how long this guy will last. If he lasts beyond a year, we should hold a national celebration. I'm sure the puns will start coming fast and heavy in the newspaper headlines. Since he's also known as a rather short-tempered fellow, my contribution can be "The Wrath of Kan" (for all those Japanese Trekkies).

The Satyr and Skippy seem to be really putting their all in planning the next movie-and-dinner outing for some reason. Skippy, The Sylph and Miss Ivory really wanna see "Sex and the City 2" while the guys will catch "Iron Man 2". The problem is that our schedules are now a bit tough to arrange; for me, I've now got Yajima and The Jyuppies on Sundays, and Skippy is unavailable on Saturdays.

Lastly, I also wanted to point out that Akiba's hokoten, gone from Chuo Dori for 2 years, may/will be making its reappearance from late July supposedly. That will be good news for everyone involved...from the most hygienically-challengend otaku to the most successful businessman in the area. I'm probably thinking over the Marine Day long weekend. All I know is that if it does come to pass, those 6 hours on Sunday will see a major ball to rival that of Rio. And I'll be there.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Thursday June 3, 1:14 p.m.

Grandma FON came in for her first lesson in 3 months. Considering her age and long absence, she only forgot a few words. Otherwise, she still brought her quiet storm of an A-game. And she'll be away again for the next few weeks since she's planning to head to Como Lake in Italy for a bit of a vacation. This is considering that she is 78 years old and needs a cane to walk. I wish I have her gumption when I'm that age.

Well, I'm done for the day but I'm just gonna stick around until 2. I'm feeling beat after only 5 hours of sleep but I figure I need to warm down a bit.
Thursday June 3, 10:53 a.m.

Another one of those late night-early morning transitions that I'm getting weary of. However, after the Patent Attorney, I just have Grandma FON and then I'm done for the day. I will be anticipating getting home and getting some shuteye.

Saw the trailer for the new "Hawaii Five-O" series on CBS. It's definitely not my generation's "Five-O"...more bickering amongst the younger characters. Plus, for the sci-fi guys, it's got Daniel Dae Kim from "Lost" and Grace Park from another rebooted series, "Battlestar Galactica". Of course, the iconic theme song is there.
Wednesday June 2, 10:05 p.m.

Well, back by myself. La Fille has just gone home. 001 was in fine fettle; not too much into the textbook. She's quite happy dealing with small talk. As for Mr. TOEFL, he was on the ball but friendly. He's got another couple of lessons before he takes off for North Carolina in a couple of weeks.

No more big word about the bombshell announcement by now-former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. Most likely, the new President of the Democratic Party of Japan will be announced on Friday and then he'll be the new PM. Most likely, it'll be the Vice Premier, Naoto Kan. I don't think anyone's particularly getting excited about the news.

Anyways, I'm coming back here in several hours but since The Music Man has cancelled his lesson, I'll get home early tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday June 2, 4:19 p.m.

The picture on the left is that of my little snack (well, little to me) before Yajima picked me up back on Sunday for his lesson. It's the Maison Kayser (kinda Franco-German thing going on with that name), a popular trendy little patisserie located just across from Den'en-Chofu Station. I'd heard about the place from MB, whose school isn't too far away. Expensive but good, he said.

I ended up having a cup of coffee with a raisin danish and something called a Kouign Ammaann; that would be the pastry just above the danish. I'd never heard of such a thing in my life until a couple of months ago when the juku boss had given me as a dessert one night. I tend to learn about new desserts here in this country. I'd neither known about Austria's Zacher Torte until I hit a Starbucks here in Tokyo. Not sure where this Kouign came from, although from the spelling, it sounds Dutch or Scandinavian. Whatever it is, it's loaded for bear with butter. And it's crispy on the outside due to the icing and rather chewy on the inside; kinda like an Old World Krispy Kreme. Quite tasty and goes down well with a cup of coffee, but in deference to my health, I think I'll restrict my intake of the stuff to once a month.

I'm fully into the donut hole of this Donut Day. It's been hours since I finished with Grandma Enka. I have no more need of sustenance today since Enka gave me a dinner in the form of some takeout tonkatsu, courtesy of the famed shop Maisen. That, plus a long-awaited bento from Yatai Paradise, will keep me going for the rest of the evening. Enka even threw in some rice balls; I think those would've tipped me over the edge so I kindly contributed them to Ray, Speedy's wife who came in for a few minutes and the newest staffer, The Mingler. The Mingler is our outgoing face of the school. Even someone as happy-happy as the bossman can't compete with The Mingler in terms of advertising us and working the rooms, which is the reason behind her hiring.

001 should be heading over here in about 90.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Wednesday June 2, 1:57 p.m.
Toonces the Juku Cat was sleeping soundly on his cushion last night. I'm sure ex-Prime Minister Hatoyama may be doing the same from tonight since he rather dramatically quit his job of 8 months this morning. Well, I would assume that the pressure would be off him now and on the next, I mean, the next honored politican to put on the mantle.
From what I've read of the translation on CNN about Hatoyama's resignation, it seems that "The Alien" as he is known in Parliament is rather defiant about what he had tried to do over the better part of the year, basically giving a "Wait, you'll see how history defines me" tone in his farewell address. Well, sounds a bit like Bush.
I had Grandma Enka for what turned out to be 70 minutes since we really got into the conversation. Very little on Hatoyama and a lot more on her more drastic way of losing weight. She apparently came down with a nasty bout of something during her trip to Hakone with some friends the other weekend which resulted in a night of dizziness, nausea and diarrhea. She looked quite a bit thinner than usual. However, I will eschew that method.
Looks like my day tomorrow will no longer be donut. In fact, it may be ending (knock on wood) as of 12:30 p.m. Not only has Grandma Dynamite cancelled but the guy at the other end of the donut, The Music Man, has also just cancelled his lesson in the evening. Not a bad thing at all.
Wednesday June 2, 11:00 a.m.

Well, I didn't expect it to happen quite so fast, but I just got it over the wire that Prime Minister Hatoyama resigned as the leader about an hour ago...ostensibly to take responsibility and probably just to escape into his Den'en-Chofu home from the rest of the world. I thought he would at least stay on until the end of the July Upper House elections but what's a month to an unpopular head of state? Probably some extra ulcers and a potential heart attack.

I had been wondering what could possibly trump the arrival of the cast from "Sex And The City 2". I will wonder no longer.
Wednesday June 2, 9:20 a.m.

Looking pretty nice out there. Still a tad cool in the mornings but I'm not complaining.

Some changes are in store at the juku. One is just hopefully temporary. I came in to be greeted by a feverish juku boss. Basically, she was out for the count last night and we just spoke further near the end of my long night there. However, she found one restaurant prospect for the annual dinner amongst us and Cozy. Not sure if it handles dinner for an inexpensive price, though.

The other changes are coming later in the month. Mr. White is gonna shift over to Fridays from Tuesdays since he's gonna have a new class starting up elsewhere. And Sugar N' Spice may be taking a hiatus of sorts for the next little while as Sugar and her mother look around for prospective universities.

I've got a Donut Day of sorts coming up today. Supposedly, I've got two of the Grandmas, Fado and Enka but for some reason Grandma Fado isn't up in the schedule. Then, it'll be several hours before 001 and Mr. TOEFL come in. And apparently, according to the phone call log, Grandma Dynamite has cancelled tomorrow's session. But Grandma FON is returning after several weeks away.

Man, my shoulders feel as tight as the skin on a snare drum right now.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tuesday June 1, 1:37 p.m.

I kinda figured that it would happen sooner or later. This morning, at the Tsudanuma Becker's inside the station, an older woman who looked like someone who would make a typical member of The Beehive took Mrs. Alp to task for speaking too loudly in the cafeteria. The lady didn't make a scene about it but she quietly but sternly made it clear to Mrs. Alp that my student should lower the volume. My chastened Queen Bees apologized quickly and the volume was lowered. The remarkable thing was that even when the lady left the cafe some minutes later, the Beehive continued to act properly. Anyone younger would've probably raised the volume and slagged the woman behind her back.

To be honest, I'm surprised that it took 3 years for someone to finally tongue-lash us since I'd always thought that The Beehive made their presence rather known in Beckers. I'd been worried that we would get warned by either staff or irritated customers...or even worse, been banished from the premises. I think that is still in the cards. I still miss not having our own private space in our old bowling alley. Well, now that that has happened, perhaps the ladies will now keep their voices down, although I am worried that the irritated woman may just be someone who just doesn't appreciate English circles.

Still, that little incident must be seen in perspective. Yukio Hatoyama must feel far worse since one of his lieutenants in his fragile coalition government has not only left but also took her party with her. And to add insult to injury, Mizuho Fukushima of the Social Democratic Party may now side with the opposition to post an non-confidence motion against the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. Not that such a motion would get anywhere near passage since the DPJ has an absolute majority in the Diet. But the message is clear, the leadership is shaky. PM Hatoyama looked absolutely stonefaced in his last press conference.

It's now June but the morning was stilly pretty chilly. Shows how odd our weather has been this first half-year. Not sure what the rest of the week will show in terms of temps. It'll be the usual guys at the juku tonight. Although Speedy is away on his annual business trip, my week isn't that much busier (knock on wood), but next Monday looks like an artery-buster schedule.

As I may have pointed out last night, the "Sex And The City" gang are here in Tokyo, and the big national premiere of the second movie is up tonight in Roppongi Hills. The Carolinan looked really excited...she's usually pretty sanguine by nature but last lesson, she looked positively ebullient. Being a superfan of the series, she said that she would pop down to the Hills after work and see if can actually catch a glimpse of the ladies. I kinda figure though that they'll be busy touring Ginza, Omotesando and Harajuku for fashion stuff.
Monday May 31, 9:09 p.m.

I've been finished for over an hour but gosh darn it, just can't seem to get away from the Internet.

I was checking my Mixi when I remembered that Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and the rest of the "Sex And The City" gang are in Tokyo tonight to get ready for the Japan premiere of the latest movie in Roppongi Hills tomorrow night. Then, I decided to let everyone know about the Sarah Jessica Parker I had first known some 30 years the gawky teen outcast, Patty Greene, in "Square Pegs", that televised paean to the 80s. Certainly puts "Glee" into perspective.

Anyways, I should get going home pretty soon. I gotta pay my bills and rent.
Monday May 31, 6:32 p.m.

A couple of celeb deaths over the weekend. One wasn't surprising...Dennis Hopper finally lost his battle with prostate cancer. Perhaps he was at the tail end of the Golden Age of Hollywood but his career spanned from "Giant" with James Dean all the way to "Speed" with Keanu Reaves. He even had time to film a Japanese commercial involving bath salts. I also remember him from a "Twilight Zone" episode in which a babyfaced Hopper portrayed a failing leader of a nascent political movement who basically sells his soul to the ghost of Adolf Hitler to become a ruthless uber-Fuhrer.

I guess the second wasn't too surprising, either. Gary Coleman of "Different Strokes" fame also passed due to some brain hemorrhage at the tender age of 42. He never really got going after his magnum opus finished up in the 80s. Just ended up getting into all sorts of trouble. He has completed the sad curse that seemed to have affected all of the show's kid characters. The guy who played Willis ended up being incarcerated for several years for some major stuff, and Dana Plato went through her own drug-inflicted hell before dying from some sort of heart attack. I think the thing that kinda puts Coleman's plight into clear perspective was a subplot from an episode of "The Simpsons" in which his animated form is seen just standing outside the house as a lonely figure.
Monday May 31, 5:39 p.m.

On Saturday night, after work at Speedy's, I had my usual ramen dinner at Foo Foo near Shinjuku Station. Instead of the usual pai ko tan tan men, I went for the chashiu men; not bad, but I think I'll stick with my spicy dependable next time.

Then, I walked deep into the wilds of Kabukicho, the racy quarter in Shinjuku to catch The Bass' band perform at a place called Crawdaddy Club. It was about the furthest into the sleaze den that I've ever gone into. The immediate surroundings around the club were occupied by all sorts of host clubs with spiky haired and inexplicably popular (at least by me) young guns waiting for their rich (and much older) patronesses. Crawdaddy Club was a basement operation; pretty small but definitely one catering to those fans of 70s prog rock...there were lots of posters of Janis Ian and Eric Clapton on the walls. I was sitting next to one amiable fellow with more hair on his scalp than on an entire subway car of middle-aged men's heads.

I ordered a Corona with the requisite lime wedge. It cost me 23oo yen(!)...most of which was for cover. And no wonder...hardly anyone drank more than the one glass of libation. It was crowded inside. I opted for a stool at the back bar. Pretty much as soon as I came in, The Bass started up the drums and the band was off for some several minutes of screechy and sonic wailing. MB and The Sylph came by a few minutes later. MB didn't mind the music but he kinda wished the volume hadn't been set at 11; he defintively eschewed the empty front seats since he actually cared to live life with working eardrums. After the set, The Bass came by to chat with us for a few minutes before we took off. In fact most of the folks took off as soon as the set was over; over here, folks don't stay to watch everyone...they just come for the guys they want to see and then they wonder, the cover charge was so steep. Afterwards, the three of us just had some donuts and coffee over at the iconic Mister Donuts outlet just on the rim of Kabukicho.

The next day, I had my double with Yajima and then The Jyuppies in the west end of Tokyo. As Yajima was driving me over to his place, we did pass by PM Hatoyama's private residence. There was more security, including a small hoosegow planted firmly in front of the small gate. The Prime Minister hasn't had a good 2 weeks. He's basically lost the Futenma debate, much to Okinawa's anger and disappointment, and now he's lost his Consumer Affairs minister, Mizuho Fukushima, who has her second job as the leader of the Social Democratic Party, the junior coalition partner. Mizuho was fired by Hatoyama since she refused to go along with the much-hated US-Japan agreement concerning the moving of Futenma Base. I wonder how long it will be before Hatoyama loses his own job. I'm betting it'll be after the July Upper House elections.

After the lessons, I met up with The Bohemian in Shibuya for dinner. He's still been looking for a job all these months and he even managed to get himself kicked out of Mixi and even that group of Korean and Chinese students in Takadanobaba. According to him, it was a misunderstanding and overreaction from one of the organizers of the friendship association that got him his latest persona non grata status. But I also remember that he got kicked out of a gym, so I just wonder if he's been trying to rove around again picking up women. The izakaya we went to had a 1,000-yen all-you-can-drink option which was more than enough for The Bohemian. But I kinda found it a bit lacking in the food department, and I'm not a huge drinker. He also got into his usual obnoxious drunken repetitiveness after downing a majority of the beers so I made sure we wrapped things up by around 8.

I went over to Tower Records and ended up buying that first disc with the "Glee" kids and even the soundtrack from "De-Lovely", the Kevin Kline biopic of Cole Porter. The movie itself was only so-so but I did enjoy the contributions by folks such as Natalie Cole and Diana Krall.

My Monday started out as usual with Cozy, Swank and SIL. There were a couple of the ultra-rightwing black trucks blathering out their usual military music and propaganda coming up into wasn't a national holiday so I could assume they were protesting the Prime Minister.

Since Medicine Man will be away for the next couple of weeks, my day would've ended right then and there, but since the bossman is off on his annual business trip through North America, I have to teach one of his students in about an hour.