Friday, July 09, 2010

Saturday July 10, 3:41 p.m.

Finished my two lessons. Both The Publicity Assistant and The Businesswoman seemed a bit like they were going through natsubate...summer lethargy. Couldn't blame's pretty steamy out there, although it's the first time in a while since the skies have been clear and sunny. The bossman is now talking it up with Miss Efficiency about her first day at work. Not too busy for her since it is a Saturday so it's an ideal way to ease herself in.

Would've loved to have seen The World Cup final but according to The PA, it's coming on at 3 a.m. Monday morning JST so I'm just stuck with the highlights.
Saturday July 10, 12:25 p.m.

One-third of the way through July, and I think the Rainy Season is quickly coming to a close. Brilliant day today with the heat to match. Safe to say that I'll be hitting the on switch for the air conditioner when I get home today.

But the Rainy Season did make its presence very well known last night when the skies opened up during dinner at The Restauranteur's place. Almost expected to see Noah's Ark floating by. But luckily by the time I got out of there, the taps were almost turned off.

Just have The Publicity Assistant and The Businesswoman starting in half an hour. The new staffer to replace Ray, Miss Efficiency, has arrived. We did the usual greetings and for most of the morning, Ray has been showing Miss Efficiency the ropes. Miss Efficiency has been absorbing the information and asking a lot of questions. Sounds like we've got a keeper.

Read in "The Japan Times" today that because of the straitjacket rules of political campaigning in this country, candidates sonically assaulting us via megaphone is the only way they can get their message across. But to be honest, I would take that over having them bothering me by knocking on my door...which is illegal. So are the other American favorites such as blogging and holding food-based activities.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Friday July 9, 3:43 p.m.

Got through that model lesson with that benefactor's son. Nice guy, if a bit avuncular. He's pretty economical with his words...a mix between The Intellectual and the Medicine Man. I'll probably call him The Shareholder. Anyways, Speedy informed me that I was able to seal the deal so he'll be in from next Friday.

The model lesson was the big thing on my mind for today, so it'll be fairly easy from here on in for the rest of the day since I just have the juku folks later tonight. I'll stop off at The Restauranteur's place for dinner since I haven't been there in a month.

Tomorrow will be slightly quieter than expected since Miss Prissy has cancelled her lesson. I'll just have The Publicity Assistant and The Businesswoman. Not too difficult there but I have to plan for The Jyuppies on Sunday.
Friday July 9, 12:28 p.m.

Back in the salt mines again. I've got a model lesson in about an hour with the son of our main benefactor...shouldn't be too bad but I've got a tie on in this weather. Hopefully, it'll all go well.

I was talking with La Fille about our fave television shows last night. Now, I've just finished talking with Miss London about fave comic books. Interesting what comes up.
Thursday July 8, 9:02 p.m.

Just The Music Man before my long day is up. Had a nice chat for several minutes with La Fille about our television likes. Looks like she's also into the American police procedural such as "NCIS" and "Criminal Minds". I cottoned her onto "The Mentalist"; I've only seen one episode of the Simon Baker series...looks pretty good.

I've managed to avoid most of the heat and humidity today since I've been inside the school all day. It won't be too bad tomorrow either. I have that model lesson here and then the usual Friday night juku students...basically, just The Restauranteur and the boss.
Thursday July 8, 6:08 p.m.

The Carolinan should be coming in soon. Ray has gone and so had Speedy, so it's just La Fille and myself. I had my brief dinner since my lunch was rather bulky. It was a hiyashi chuuka: basically egg noodles topped off with BBQ pork, egg strips, bamboo, sprouts and a slice of hard-boiled egg in a soy-vinegar sauce. Hit the mark so I should live beyond The Music Man's class.

Well, it's gonna be a Holland-Spain final...who'da thunk? I had been expecting an all-South American final but it turns out that it'll be an all-European affair. Not sure if ratings will plummet on the South American or African continent since it'll just be these two guys playing. It should be interesting, though.
Thursday July 8, 4:58 p.m.

Well, Speedy has made his decision. We got Miss Efficiency to replace Ray. She'll be coming in on Saturday to get her training, although it sounds like she may end up training us.

Unfortunately the big goodbye party for Ray on the 18th is off since almost noone can make it on that day. Well, I guess I'll make my way to Tony Roma's on my own. And the possibility is that the Akihabara hokoten may be revving up on that day anyways. I just have to see.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Thursday July 8, 3:27 p.m.
At the end of July, there's Japan's lone observed holiday devoted to one foodstuff...unagi or eel. Known as Doyo-no-Hi or Cow Day (don't ask me what the connection is), the date isn't particularly's just somewhere in the last week of this month. This year, it's on the 26th. So, you can bet your bottom dollar that all of the eel restaurants will be packed to the gills (pun unintended) and that a lot of the expensive Japanese eels and the cheapo Chinese variety will sell out in the supermarkets.
Thus, I decided to enjoy things a bit early this year by buying a huge flank of unagi on Tuesday. This one was fished in China so the cost was just 680 yen. I just brought it home, threw it in the frypan, doused it liberally in sake and the sweet sauce the eel came with and warmed it up for a few minutes on each side. And then I threw in onto some warmed white rice. It was now unadon, and after sprinkling some herbal sansho on it, I dove into it.
Now, why with all the hubbub over something most Westerners would flee from? Well, since Japanese summers have that annoying tendency to sap energy from even the hardiest of citizens over here, stamina food is a must. Eel fits into that category, apparently due to the oil that suffuses its meat.
Basically, my mega-unadon cost me perhaps 800 yen. At the legit restaurants which specialize in unadon and unaju, something far smaller and far more stylish in lacquered boxes would cost at least 3,000 yen. I like my eel but I'm not sure if I would really ever go for that. Still, I beat the crowds by 2 weeks.

Thursday July 8, 3:17 p.m.

Well, Grandma FON came after over a month away. She can still comprehend what I'm saying, but I'm a little worried about her retention. Had a bit more trouble getting her words into her mind, let alone out of her mouth. She'd spent a couple of weeks in Italy, namely Lake Como (I wonder if she waved at George Clooney). Still, she does a whole lot better than most other 78-year-olds.
Ah, as for the pictures....that's from Genkatsu, one of my favourite tonkatsu restaurants. Home of the mille-feuille cutlets...the pork is cut thinly into 25 slices and deep-fried as one unit...I went for the less-expensive lunch sets. I had my choice of sauces, so instead of the usual thick Worcestershire-like sauce, I went for shiotare, or salty sauce. Good choice. As you can see from the picture on the right, that sauce just got soaked up by those pork layers. Dem's good eatin'.
I've been proofreading The Croatian's latest essay. I've finished it but I think I'll give it another run later on. Lunch and a bit of chocolate got me drowsy so I may have glossed over some other stuff but it's never easy reading a paper on macroeconomics on a full stomach.

Thursday July 8, 10:52 a.m.
One of the discs I got during my latest CD spree was one by J-Pop veteran, Mariya Takeuchi. She's been going at it for over 30 years, and this album to the left of me is one of her earlier releases called "Love Songs". I have to say that she's the complete package: damn fine looks, fine voice, fine (if not totally native) English and a West Coast sound to force many an AOR singer to gaze at his/her loafers.
"Love Songs" offers young Mariya in various genres, something that she's been adept at and shown during her long career. At that time, it was a lot of 50s girlie standards, country-and-western, disco and AOR...pretty much a tribute to the American Songbook. I don't know too many other singers of that time who went all out for musical fact, I don't know any.

Thursday July 8, 10:44 a.m.
Yup, that's Toonces the Juku Cat....just doing what every human in this country would like to do right now, considering the heat and humidity outside...just veg somewhere cool. Going up to 32 today in the Big Sushi.
Got to go home early yesterday, which surprised the bossman. He'd thought that 001 was coming in...and maybe he was a bit jealous about it, too. In any case, I got back and bought myself a new pair of sneakers and just spent the night watching Disc 3 of Ken Burns' series on "Jazz". I always appreciate a night off.
I thought I had a sizable enough hole in my Donut Day that I was thinking about catching "Odoru Dai Sosasen 3" in Shinjuku, but then Ray sent me word that Grandma FON reserved a lesson for 11:30 today, so I'm holding off until probably next Monday after Swank's lesson. Instead, I'm just gonna appreciate the air conditioning and hole up here at Speedy's since I've got The Carolinan and The Music Man later tonight.
Looks like even with 70% of the callers supporting cancellation before NHK's decision to not broadcast this month's sumo tourney, the callers afterwards gave NHK hell for cancelling. Just can't please everyone. Still, it's the first time that a sumo broadcast has been cancelled in over 50 years....should be interesting how sumo fans will handle the withdrawal.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Wednesday July 7, 11:03 a.m.

It's been a fairly quiet week so far...just 3 lessons on Monday, and the same number yesterday. The juku crowd was just down to Mr. White and then The Milds. Although it's too bad that Sugar N' Spice are now gone, in a way I'm glad that I'm not so winded anymore. I just have the two lessons today. One is with Grandma Enka for her monthly chit-chat session and then it's my newest student, The Artist in mid-afternoon. No 001 today so I'll be heading home early and have myself a home-cooked dinner. I'm also stopping off at the neighbourhood shoe store since my sneakers are making the inexorable metamorphosis into sandals.

I had a good session with The Beehive despite the fact that the lady who had rapped Mrs. Alp's knuckles last month was once again nearby. The ladies did lower their volume quite a bit. Almost the entire 90 minutes was centered around the sumo scandal. The overriding conclusion was that the sharp rays of education were desperately needed to smash through thousands of years of archaic custom within the sumo stables. I can't say that all of the gambling vitriol would not have happened if the lads, often recruited just after junior high school, had been given a good dose of morals education but I think the damage would've been minimized. But as it is, a stablemaster has been ousted, ozeki Kotomitsuki has been fired (but with pension) and several rikishi have been banned from the Nagoya tournament. Not a good situation right now since the ranks of sumo have been thinned due to bad-boy yokozuna Asashoryu being kicked out earlier this year and now the 2nd-tier ozeki. NHK hasn't been impressed with the Japan Sumo Association and its attempts to clean house. The station made it official...they WON'T be televising live coverage of the Nagoya tournament. Apparently, I'd misunderstood the original report. I'd thought that the station had fielded phone calls in which 70% objected to the coverage being cancelled. In fact, those 70% demanded that the coverage be cancelled.

Sunday July 11 will indeed a busy day in many ways. The Nagoya tournament starts, the Upper House elections will be held and the final World Cup game will take place. My life has gotten a bit politicized by association. The CEO told me a couple of months ago that she has had political aspirations but just didn't have the time to register for the elections, and I found out yesterday that Mr. Mild has a friend who's running for office in the Kojimachi district. I've been sighting the various vans exhorting the values of their candidates via megaphones.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Monday July 5, 9:16 p.m.
I was initially surprised when I saw the news earlier today that Takeru Kobayashi, the former hot-dog eating champion, was arrested and taken to jail after disrupting the annual contest sponsored by Nathan's. Apparently, he just couldn't help throwing himself onto the stage after supposedly hearing his name being chanted by his fans since he could no longer participate in the pork-pigout due to contract problems. I guess it was too much for the lad to see his main rival, Chestnut, win for the 3rd year in a row. To be honest, I'd always seen him as a bit of a nutcase, and he certainly had that "I'm a psycho" leer on his face as he was being led away in handcuffs. Well, he apparently also has the world record in eating cow brains, so I guess some of that BSE might be responsible.

Monday July 5, 8:09 p.m.

Yep, I bought another Carpenters album recently. Up to now, I've only purchased compilations of their best songs and their Xmas album, but "Voice of the Heart" is my first original album by Karen and Richard.

Took a listen last night as I was hitting bed. "Voice of the Heart" also happens to be the album released posthumously...a few months after Karen's untimely death back in 1983. I'd heard reports that this album was quite different from previous albums in terms of musical direction, but after hearing it last night, I'm pretty convinced that the reports must've referred to another LP. I just thought that there were a lot of familiar musical cues with some of the songs...such as far bigger hits like "Close to You" and "I Need to be in Love". And because of the circumstances of the time, the album seemed to have a rather funereal tone. I didn't really detect any sort of really upbeat melody. In a way, "This Is it" seems to have gone the same way after Michael Jackson's death. And for those in the J-Pop vein, the album "Cruise" by 80s aidoru Akina Nakamori also had that feel since it was released just a couple of weeks after her suicide attempt.
Monday July 5, 6:37 p.m.

Well, then there were just 4. In another upset, Germany tossed Argentina out by an overwhelming 4-0! But at least, we were spared the potential sight of Coach Maradona strutting naked at the victory parade.

Not surprisingly, Yajima informed me that he would like me to continue teaching him although the next time I see him will be on August 1. I'm gonna see if I can at least time it so that both he and The Jyuppies are on the same day. I would like to have a Sunday off, y'know.

I'm starting a fairly sparse week this week. For example, after my early morning with Cozy, it was a huge gap of free time before coming over here. I've got Miss Genki and The Medicine Man tonight. My Tuesday night at the juku is gonna get empty again since Sugar N' Spice are no longer on the roster and Mr. Nice Guy is off in Hawaii.

The Japan Sumo Association finally let us in about what they did to "make things right" concering all that illegal gambling within the various stables. They apparently "fired" ozeki Kotomitsuki, although that is apparently one level below outright "expulsion"...which begs the question about what "firing" means. In any case, the Nagoya tournament is on track for this Sunday although without 5 major sponsors and perhaps even live coverage by NHK, although I think the station will give a late-minute reprieve. After all, there are probably a lot of folks who only watch NHK for the sumo and they may decide to refuse to pay their bimonthly fees. In any case, one of the most ancient sports in human history is in the dumps right now.

I actually fired up the air conditioner for the first time this year. Yep, Summer has come!