Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saturday July 3, 4:57 p.m.

Well, spent the last few hours just twiddling away at the computer. Saw a couple of more candidates for Ray's position after which the bossman and Ray mulled their options. Looks like the leading candidate is someone who may be a bit overqualified for the position...lots of experience and degrees...a regular Miss Efficient (which may end up being her code name if she does work for us). The lady is also someone who's quite a bit older than La Fille and Miss London so the dynamics may change somewhat. It could be a bit more serious than the girls' club that Ray and La Fille have cultivated over the past year. But that's not a bad thing for a company that needs to start growing.

Anyways, the 5 o'clock chime is sounding and I haven't heard anything from Mr. Swank, so that'll mean I'm out of here.

The next week is looking a bit empty, schedule-wise. Not too bad...I could use the sleep.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Saturday July 3, 2:17 p.m.

The Publicity Assistant seemed slightly sleepy but managed to ace the test and plow through most of the lesson. I read in "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Psychology" that adults need to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep to function optimally...which means that most Japanese are probably drooling psychopaths. 7~8 hours of sleep? That's truly a dream to most of us here unless we've been laid off.

Well, I'm just waiting for that possible request from Mr. Swank...other than that I'm done for the day.
Saturday July 3, 11:53 a.m.

I just have The Publicity Assistant today for my Saturday class. I had also been expecting a rather large essay to proofread from The Croatian who's in Europe, but he just informed me that he still hasn't been able to complete the rough draft. Mr. Swank said that he could be sending me a little more stuff to take a look at later today. Speaking of which, I did listen to his staffer give his presentation yesterday at his company. Well, it was obvious that he wasn't too fluent in the language and I didn't work any miracles with him but I did try to smoothen things out before Mr. Swank and him head out to Vietnam next week. Still, it was a good thing to get through that and I even got a very handsome reward from Mr. Swank for helping smoothen out his notes.

After my lesson with The Bass earlier in the day in Funabashi, I came across another one of those pols campaigning in front of the station. But it turned out that the local had some big help via the former mayor of Yokohama, Hiroshi Nakata. The ramrod straight straight-shooter was in an atypical Polo shirt and chinos (middle-aged fogy fashion) trying to greet the passersby. He didn't have much luck as I saw, which was strange since he had cultivated an image of being a charismatic leader of men during his years in charge of the nation's 2nd-largest city, but then again, his star plunged somewhat when he managed to resign just after the debacle that was the city's sesquicentennial last year. For some reason, Funabashi seems to be the magnet for celeb politicians...a few weeks earlier, beloved judoist-turned-future senator Ryoko Tani was supposedly on the stump there.

The 2010 World Cup is starting to get the reputation as the tournament of Goliath-beaters. France, Italy and England all self-immolated, and now the biggest surprise happened last night. Brazil got its can kicked back home by Holland. A lot of people probably lost some hefty bets. I still say Argentina will be one of the finalists.

Saturday July 3, 11:37 a.m.

Yes, he is. Shunsaku Aoyama, the feckless but intrepid green-coated cop of the Bayside Precinct, has once more arrived on movie screens nationwide in the 3rd installment of "Odoru Daisosasen"...otherwise known in English as the horribly titled "Bayside Shakedown" (sounds like a straight-to-video 80s cop B-movie).

And frankly speaking, because of the usual comedic goofing common to a lot of Japanese TV dramas, "Odoru Daisosasen" will never scare anybody on "The Shield" or "The Wire", but this series was never made for anyone except for Japanese audiences. Still the show is notable for the fact that it tackles the inner politics and machinations of the National Police instead of the usual fantasy shootouts in famously gun-shy Japan.

The original TV series premiered all the way back in 1997 on Fuji-TV and featured the ups-and-downs (mostly downs) of Wangan-sho, or The Bayside Precinct in The Big Sushi's Odaiba area, as its cops fought not only the bad guys but also the sneering superiors back in the heart of Tokyo. Yuji Oda, who had been known mostly up to then as the innocent salesman Kanchi in the legendary "Tokyo Love Story" back in 1991, became immortalized as the salaryman-turned-police officer who wanted to do the right thing, in spite of a venal and politicized institution. Following the original series came a few specials and then 2 movies which ended up becoming the top-grossing movies domestically for those years. I remember catching the first movie on the very first day of release which was Halloween 1998. I ended up waiting 4 hours in Yurakucho Mullion.

Anyways, the 3rd one premieres today, and most likely it'll become the top movie of this year as well. The franchise shares a lot of genes with its American brethren like "Dragnet" or even "NCIS": an iconic lead character and a burned-in-memory theme song.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Thursday July 1, 10:45 p.m.

And thus another long Thursday has come to a quiet close. I was stricken with a throbbing headache due to neck and shoulder tension a few hours ago, so I downed a couple of Bufferin. At the time, Ray, La Fille and I were biting into the Krispy Kreme donuts.

At about the same time, The Blue Samurai came back home via Kansai International Airport at about 5 p.m. tonight. The fans were out en masse with their cellphone cameras up in the air like sabres in salute. The warriors themselves looked rather glum since they probably felt they had no reason to smile...just like true warriors; don't celebrate until whole glory has been earned.

Thanks to the Bufferin, my headache disappeared by the time the Music Man came by. I had this rather strangely euphoric and exhausted feeling throughout the class, though my student didn't notice. Still I'm happy that I could get through the lesson intact without falling on my face or doubling over in pain.

Anyways, I gotta go home and get a good night's sleep. It'll be another long one tomorrow.
Thursday July 1, 6:37 p.m.

Ray and La Fille are talking in the main lounge, presumably about the transition when Ray leaves us in a couple of weeks. The replacement interviewees have been steadily coming in over the past week, and La Fille was just phoning up a small batch of them to confirm interview dates and times. Yep, the new person will have some mighty big shoes to fill when it comes to Ray. This time, though, both men and women have applied for the position. It could be an interesting new dynamic if a guy gets hired.

Saw The Bow for the first time in a little over 2 months. We met at the same Shinjuku Starbucks. She's now working for a small Australian wine distributor full-time and it looks like things are going pretty smoothly. She was only able to see me this week since both her bosses are out in Shanghai on business so she has the week off. Basically, after this it's unknown when she will be able to see me.

Afterwards, I went up to Uniqlo, the famed trendy and cheap clothing store in Takashimaya Times Square. It used to be the second-biggest HMV in Tokyo until the walls started closing in on that chain. I bought myself a couple of shirts and a pair of chinos since some of my clothes have become rattier over the years. And on a whim, I bought a box of Krispy Kreme since Ray will be leaving us soon. Even Krispy Kreme has gotten its own Japanese twist...I got a "seasonal" box which consists of half a dozen of the regular glazed donuts and then 3 big star-shaped donuts...presumably to pay tribute to Tanabata, the national festival celebrating the star-crossed lovers.

All I have left is The Music Man in about 2.5 hours. Until then, I've gotta take another look at Mr. Swank's big lesson tomorrow, and then have a very light dinner....just too hot out there to eat anything huge now.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thursday July 1, 11:50 a.m.

Well, after 10 minutes, Ray decided to give Grandma FON to find out why she hadn't arrived yet. It turns out that not only did she not realize that she had a lesson today but she wasn't aware that it was Thursday....ahhh, the ravages of age. Looks like I've got a ton of time now. May want to further check on my plans for Mr. Swank tomorrow.

Feeling pretty sluggish right now so it may have been just as well that Grandma FON is a no-show. I think it's a combination of just 5 hours of sleep and the fact that it's humid out there. Plus, my shoulders have got more knots than a 5-century-old redwood pine. I really could use a rubdown but not of the shiatsu variety. That means my options are awfully limited in this country.
Thursday July 1, 8:13 a.m.

Yup, the 7th month of the year has begun, and I'm sure North America is gearing up for its big holidays. Canada Day is gonna be starting up over in The Great White North in a few hours, and I'm sure America is ready for The Fourth of July on Sunday. Mr. Nice Guy from the juku is gonna be absent next Tuesday because he has to renew his Green Card over in Hawaii; he had a heck of a time securing plane tickets there because of the holiday but at least he and his family will experience the hoopla that goes with a nation's birthday...nothing like it is over here. We've got our own holiday later this month, but it's just Marine Day, basically an add-on holiday so that almost all of our months have some sort of special day off...still waiting for something for June.

It's another humid one today...gonna end up swimming over to Shinjuku later in the afternoon to teach The Bow, so it isn't really a Donut Day but I'll have quite a few hours before The Music Man comes in. Still, I have to prepare for that big presentation class tomorrow with Mr. Swank.
Wednesday June 30, 10:10 p.m.

Did forget to mention that Larry King has finally decided to hang up his suspenders and oversized microphone for good later this Fall. I was kinda wondering when he would decide to retire. He's pretty spry for a 76-year-old but still with a major bypass operation last year, I couldn't see continuing that much longer. I'm sure some folks are quietly hailing the retirement as a move away from softball journalism, a criticism that Larry has always snorted at. But others, notably a lot of his guests, will miss him for the fact that he's been so cordial behind the desk. Strangely enough, though, Larry has had the terrifying Mike Wallace as one of those guests plenty of times.

Well, Happy 143rd, Canada!
Wednesday June 30, 10:02 p.m.

Well, 001 has undergone a few changes since I met her last. She's taken up jogging for one thing, thanks to influence from 002 and The Baker. Her ultimate goal is to tackle The Honolulu Marathon in December just like her friends. I have noticed that she seems to have lost a bit of weight, although I think she was already quite skinny to begin with. And the other thing is that she finally got her membership in the nearly million-strong Arashi Fan Club. She's up in the mid-700,000s. The reason that she went into the club in the first place was to try and get tickets for the group's concerts in the summer. So, she's entered a lottery in the hopes that she'll get selected for a seat.

The Artist had her very first lesson with me tonight. She's quiet but very pleasant, and though she's lacking in a lot of vocabulary and grammatical strength, she does pick up quickly. I found out that she's just started her love of jazz, so I quickly gave her a brief lesson into the different genres of jazz. Not a bad start.

Tomorrow shouldn't be too hard. I've got The Patent Attorney first thing in the morning, and then Grandma FON will be making her reappearance in about a month. And in another reappearance, I've got The Bow for the first time in about a couple of months in Shinjuku. Afterwards, it'll be The Music Man to wrap up.
Thursday June 30, 4:01 p.m.

Well, it was a great run while it lasted. The Blue Samurai finally ran out of miracles last night when they lost to Paraguay, and so they're coming back home from The World Cup. The bad news may have been that they couldn't score a goal during regulation time and extra time, but the good news was that they didn't let the other team do the same either. Solid defence. I didn't bother turning on the TV; I'm sure the various pundits on morning shows were all commiserating in their beer and giving analyses about why Okada's Eleven couldn't pull off another win. I read the kiosk banner that Okada has even resigned from his post. I hope it wasn't because he felt that he couldn't produce a winner...noone had expected these guys to get beyond the Group Stage. I hope it was because that he felt that he had taken them as far as he could and that it was now time for another teacher to take over the reins. Because when it comes down to it, Team Japan did themselves and their country proud.

I guess there's another transition coming in in terms of my students. I lost Sugar N' Spice to the rigours of university searching, but I gained two students via Speedy's. One is coming in tonight for her very first lesson. It turns out that The Artist has decided to join us after all, two months after the model lesson. She didn't say anything to us but just called Speedy out of the blue to go ahead with 24 classes to start. That could be a fine shot in the arm for the school. The other student is The Shareholder, the son of one of our benefactors; his classes are gonna be rather loosey-goosey since he doesn't want to do any texts.

Had The New Yorker for the first time in about 3 weeks. We finally finished that text and I was able to find something for her from Kinokuniya. Not too bad today. I've just got 001 and then The Artist. I'm sure for the former, soccer will be one of the topics...and of course, Aiba-kun.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday June 29, 1:49 p.m.

It's been another rainy day in this Rainy Season. Still managed to get some washing done. And walking hasn't been quite the arduous trek that it was yesterday when the humidity seemed to have been in triple digits. That's one good thing about the Rainy Season along with the fact that it floods the rice paddies...the rains do wash away a lot of the moisture in the air.

Saw the Slovenia-Holland game last night. Slovenia were the giant-killers against Italy but they couldn't quite pull off another miracle against the Dutch so they're now heading home. Tonight's the big game between Japan and Paraguay. I can imagine that traffic will be at a standstill for the hours between 11 and 12:30 tonight. Not sure what will happen but I think a lot of us will still be happy and proud of The Blue Samurai.

Listened to Madonna's "The Immaculate Collection" for the very first time...surprising since it's now 20 years old. I still say that the old Madge is the better Madge.
Monday June 28, 8:45 p.m.

My Mixi Friends list has grown by 2 in the last few hours. Cozy came on board and then Mr. TOEFL has also joined my cadre. Mr. TOEFL is enjoying his 3-month stay in North Carolina and has even sent pics of his new home. Raleigh is quite a far cry from the concrete jungle of Tokyo, that's for sure.

Managed to get that translation off to Mr. Swank a couple of hours ago, and I've already planned for my juku classes tomorrow so I'm just twiddling my thumbs a bit before Medicine Man comes in about 40 minutes.

The 1st anniversary of the death of The King of Pop came and went somewhat quietly by my estimation. I'd been expecting something a bit more epic over the airwaves. Of course, certain areas including Tokyo did have tributes. In Tokyo, there was a massive dance-off by the local fans to "Thriller" seems to be the de rigueur thing to do for Michael Jackson fans. And there was that sleepover by Tokyo Tower on Friday but really, nothing too least, nothing like last year's funeral. I guess the passing of the anniversary will now be kinda like Elvis Presley's....the die-hard fans will just make their annual pilgrimage to Jackson's estate and perhaps the news may pick up on that.
Monday June 28, 4:32 p.m.

Yup, it definitely feels like a Tokyo summer. I could swim through the air with all that humidity, and I feel like I've got that layer of moisture all around me underneath my clothing. The clouds are threatening to burst open but nothing so far as of yet.

Had my usual Sunday students yesterday. Yajima had his penultimate lesson with me in the morning. He just has one more before he heads off to Hawaii for that seminar. Then it was the Jyuppies a few hours later.

It's a bit of "A Tale of Two Cities" in the sports world right now for Japan. On the one hand, the folks here have been enjoying a Prague Spring of sorts with The Blue Samurai delightfully surprising everyone with their fine play, including what could end up being the best goal of the entire World Cup by a fellow named Endo. "Bend-o it like Endo", I say. Team Japan has made it into The Best 16, which makes it a successful run to me. Not sure if they can overcome Paraguay tomorrow night JST but they still have a small chance; if so, it'll be another week of happiness. On the other hand, sumo just seems to be declining onto another lower circle of Hell. With perhaps as much as a third of the wrestlers for the Nagoya Tournament involved in illegal gambling, an indepedent panel has just recommended that those wrestlers be ousted for this tournament. It has been a slow rotting death for one of the world's oldest sports and it seems as if the only way it can be any worse is if one of the yokozuna goes on a killing spree.

This morning, I had Cozy for his regular early morning session before having Swank in Roppongi Hills. Swank will be heading for the Phillipines next week with her kids so I'll have a huge donut in my Monday schedule next week with SIL off indefinitely while she gets her personal issues settled. Ended up doing some shopping in Tower Records. I had lunch in the McDonalds right in the heart of to see some of the ugly young there (loud and brash). I will probably consider Burger King next time.

I just have the Medicine Man tonight but I'm pretty busy. I gotta get those corrections for Mr. Swank's presentation text typed up and headed over to him, and I also have to prep up for the juku students tomorrow. I'm just lucky I don't have The Beehive in the morning.

Speaking about The World Cup, that much-vaunted England-Germany match last night turned out to be a bit of a fizzle. It kinda looked like the second Blitz out there as the Germans seemed to dominate over Rooney and Co. And so yet another so-called favorite gets kicked out. I could imagine "Another One Bites The Dust" playing on the speakers. Probably a lot of pubcrawlers in London commiserating over their Guinness last night.