Friday, June 25, 2010

Saturday June 26, 10:35 a.m.

Yup, it's starting to feel like a typical Tokyo summer. Had my first 2-shower day of the year yesterday and bought some heavy-duty air freshener for the living room. Once the air conditioner goes on, I'll know the season is on. Haven't reached that stage yet.

Yesterday was basically an off day except for the juku classes. Went to Genkatsu, home of the mille-feuille pork cutlet, in Ginza for lunch. For a tonkatsu restaurant in the world's most expensive piece of real estate, the place serves pretty reasonable lunch sets. I had one for 1,290 yen and got a small but filling piece of multi-layered pork along with the usual mountain of shredded cabbage, pickles, rice and miso soup. But instead of the de rigueur brown sauce for dipping the pork, I got another one of negi-shio tare or salty onion sauce. Pretty darn nice and there were plenty of nooks and crannies in the pork to hold it.

Then it was off to Shinjuku Kinokuniya to see if I could find a pronounciation text for Mr. Jyuppie. Really couldn't find anything too useful for him there so I'll take a look at Maruzen in Otemachi after I finish with my classes here today. I still had a few hours before the juku classes so I decided to check out Nakano Broadway just on a whim...perhaps I could find a few used CDs. I should give my whim a raise. I went to Recomints and found an EPO disc, the soundtrack for "When Harry Met Sally" and Madonna's "The Immaculate Collection"...all of them for a grand total of 900 yen. The soundtrack was the one that I really wanted...and I saved myself a lot of money by finding it there for just 3 coins instead of paying full price at Tower Records.

I had a coffee at Urayasu Starbucks...or I should say that I had a liquid dessert there. It was some sort of Frappucino topped with a ton of whipped cream and orange syrup. Basically, it was the coffee version of a hardcore porn movie. The lady who took my order must've downed a few of those before I came in...a little too genki she was.

I'm starting to see the future of my juku classes and it will be sparse. Mr. White did a dotakyan again for the 2nd week in a row; his wife called in a couple of hours before game time to say that he was sick. Either he's gone into depression again or he's nursing a hangover; the last time he canned was for that latter reason. Either way, it doesn't bode too well although I did get half the money. Also I found out from the boss that Sugar N' Spice's temporary absence from the juku will probably head all the way to next March! In other words, I think they may as well come back as freshmen again next year. I've got their final class next week. They wanted it to be a small party of sorts.

I've got just Miss Prissy and The Intellectual today. Considering Thursday's morose powwow with Speedy about the school's chances of survival over the summer, I'm kinda wondering what's gonna happen with my students if and when the hammer falls. Despite all those ideas that the two of us were throwing about like wads of paper, I don't think any of those have really any chance of getting off the ground within the next month.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday June 24, 4:46 p.m.

Well, spent nearly an hour with the bossman in what was an impromptu meeting. The only reason he ever calls me into a meeting is because the school is in financial woe again. And yup, it was another shot across the bow. I'm sympathetic to his plight since I know what it was like to be near the end of one's financial tether. But sometimes I think whether it is probably better to euthanize the patient a la Kevorkian. I gave him some ideas for which I think only one perked his interest and that was to actively recruit students for group classes...something that should've been done years ago since that was one of the things offered at Speedy's. I'm not sure if it's a case of too little, too late.

Talking about too little, too late....tomorrow is the 1-year anniversary of the demise of The Gloved One. Hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since Michael Jackson's death. I remember the day of June 25, 2009 very clearly. I had woken up to see BBC delivering the bulletin that MJ had been rushed to hospital early in the morning. By the time I got to Speedy's, the news had already been reported that he was dead. There will probably be tons of coverage all over CNN, BBC and the other major outlets...a lot of marathon MJ video clips throughout the day. Even in Tokyo, there will be a mass sleepover for 50 of his die-hardest fans at the foot of Tokyo Tower which will cost each of the "lucky" ones a cool 100,000 yen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thursday June 24, 12:34 p.m.

It's been a fairly quiet week so far. I once again had the empty Wednesday to split up my work week into two mini-weeks. My Monday was also quite sparse since Cozy had re-scheduled to Tuesday morning and SIL has stopped her lessons...for the next little while, at tend to some family matters. So, it was just Swank in the morning followed by Miss Genki (who's now my regular sheep in my flock) and then Medicine Man.

On Tuesday, The Beehive welcomed back Mrs. Travel, the first time she's been with us since her daughters had given her two more grandsons in the past couple of weeks. She was fairly beaming with pride. It was also a pretty sparse Tuesday as well since at the juku, both Mr. White and Mr. Nice Guy were away. Sugar N' Spice were filled with beans as usual. Unfortunately, I'll just have one more lesson with them next week and then they're off for the summer at least.

I was determined to keep anything about school off the schedule yesterday during my day off. Just watched TV and ironed away. The World Cup has now finished its second week, and it's been predictably unpredictable. The big news is that the French populace were hoping to get a big case of the Les Bleus, only to get a really big case of the blues. The only thing that the French team were able to pull off in South Africa was a horribly public implosion in which one of their leading strikers was ejected from the tournament, the other players actually became strikers of a different sort, and the captain was demoted before what would be their final game against South Africa. It all showed on the field as the team looked like a bunch of Sunday amateurs against a quixotically enthused South African team. South Africa may have become the first hosting team to have been kicked out of the tournament in the very first round, but they had oodles more class than their opponents. I bet that the plane ride back to Paris must've been a truly silent one. The Japanese team have one more game to see if they'll join South Korea, Mexico and Maradona's Argentinians in the knockout round starting this weekend. They've gotta defeat Denmark in the early morning our time to ensure this. I'm not quite sure how many rabid fans will be willing to get up at 3 a.m. in the morning to catch the game.

The other local news is that just a little over 2 weeks after the 2nd anniversary of the Akihabara Massacre, some disgruntled former temp worker for Mazda in Hiroshima went postal and tried to do the same thing against his former colleagues....the weapon of choice in his case was a car. He managed to injure 11 people and kill one man. As the psycho was being taken away, he had this anguished look on his face and looked askance at heaven. I kinda wonder if this may have any affect on the scheduled return of the Akiba hokoten next month.

That sumo scandal involving rikishi making illegal bets on baseball and hanafuda keeps spreading. Several wrestlers, stablemasters and hairdressers have been caught in the police investigation and now the cops are looking for a 38-year-old former sumo-turned-yakuza thug who had extorted ozeki Kotomitsuki out of millions of yen as hush money. In a way, I kinda wonder where else ex-sumo could go after their days in the dohyo...if it isn't entertainment, then I could only imagine enforcement. But even NHK has started to pull its weight (no pun intended) on the matter by threatening that it could decide not to show the Nagoya Tournament next month if the Japan Sumo Association doesn't come totally clean. I don't think I ever heard of a tournament being shunned by the network. Already a lot of sumo fans have called in to berate it, but I think NHK may be onto something here.

It's a fairly busy Thursday. I had The Patent Attorney and a double lesson with Grandma Dynamite since she cancelled last week's session. Then, it'll be The Carolinan later tonight followed by The German and then The Music Man. Pretty busy but then again I've only got the juku folks tomorrow night. The Bow has sent word back to me that she wants a lesson next week since she's got a day off then.

Thursday June 24, 12:28 p.m.

The second half of my foodie weekend involved meeting up with the juku boss and Cozy in Kinshicho for dinner at a hotel restaurant. It was the polar opposite of the journey to Bingo Burger the day before. Instead of being at picnic benches in the wilds of Chiba Prefecture, I was on top of the Tobu Hotel Levant in a place called Ren. The three of us had a rather heftily-priced but delicious kaiseki course dinner. For 8,000 yen per head, we were able to dine on sashimi, lobster and the like. We always enjoy our annual trio dinners so Cozy is thinking about having them on a semi-annual basis. However, it almost turned out to be a duo since the juku boss had sent me a phone message stating that she'd come down with a fever, but I was surprised to see my smiling boss with her old friend in our private room.

Thursday June 24, 12:13 p.m.

Yes, it's been a while. I was just too busy to blog on Monday and I didn't have access for the past couple of days. 001 was once again off so I had a completely free Wednesday. That will end next week on Canada Day.

Last Saturday, The Bass and I made that 2-hour pilgrimage from our neck of the woods in Chiba all the way to the other end over 100 km away to the small town of Tateyama, just so that we could grab some hamburgers at this stand called Bingo Burger. The drive there was somewhat easier than I'd thought. The ride on the expressway was free of incident. It's rare for me to see the countryside by car and Tateyama is in the deepest wilds of my home prefecture.

I'd first thought that Bingo Burger was this rustic restaurant in the middle of nowhere, but as it turned out, it was a glorified burger stand in the middle of nowhere. The only sitting space was just behind the stand in the form of a few picnic benches. The Bass and I were lucky in that the dreaded rains never came. I had my default Bacon Burger and what I got was this pretty large American burger with a big slab of bacon wrapped around the patty. The fries came in an American stars-and-stripes paper bag and I chose a bottle of Coke....a cola is the only acceptable drink for a burger. The place did remind me of a Midwestern burger stand....right down to the somewhat sullen slightly overweight proprietor. The only thing that was missing was a radio playing The Everly Brothers. The cook even supplied a complementary gaggle of Hershey's Chocolate Kisses and a lollipop. Afterwads, The Bass and I visited a temple and we did a short stopover at a roadside souvenir shop for some ice cream, but it was for the Bingo Burger that our mission was about. It didn't disappoint, and despite the 4-hour round trip, The Bass and I agreed that it would be worth another visit. Next time, though, I'm gonna go for the Super Bingo with twice of everything, including patties