Friday, July 23, 2010

Saturday July 24, 2:50 p.m.

Finished off my lessons for today. The Intellectual always has something to say but his lesson went a bit flat...maybe the heat. The Publicity Assistant gave her assessment of "Inception" as being a big hit here, although she admits that there have been some points of contention amongst the critics. We were doing a lesson on giving advice using modals and she gave some interesting insights about what to do and what not to do when interviewing celebs. The one points that struck me was on not giving out your station ID to the celeb or to his/her managers. Some of the Hollywood types have specifically taboo'ed certain local programs from conducting interviews with them. The one I know is Nicole Kidman who has banned the Saturday morning show "King's Brunch" from ever interviewing her again. The entertainment reporter there, Lilico, has a penchant of having just too much personality, and Kidman is perhaps a bit too serious for her own good. Will Smith, to no one's surprise, is the most interviewable type in this country.

The Corner has suddenly made contact with me after several months. He would like me to do one translation for him. I told him that it would take me a couple of weeks to get it done but he seemed to be pretty flexible.

Well, I'll be heading home in about a few minutes. Just want to veg in front of the TV...only that I have no working TV.
Saturday July 24, 11:21 a.m.

Had Miss Prissy for the first time in about a month. No big changes....strives for accuracy but at the great loss of speed. She's actually made the rare decision to come for a 2nd straight week next Saturday as well, since most likely she and her hubby will be heading for Hawaii for summer vacation.

Skippy has gotten the arrangements for tomorrow's movie outing for "Inception". We're to meet at the old Almond shop in Roppongi at about 5 p.m. She says that she knows about a few restaurants in the area. Skippy is the go-to gal for eats. It'll be a bit of the skeleton crew since MB and The Sylph are off in Australia while The Satyr is back in Canada.

Well, The Intellectual should be here in about 5 minutes.
Saturday July 24, 9:21 a.m.

Hard to believe it but we're only 5 months away from Xmas Eve. Hard to feel like it since it's already 30 C plus out there right now. I have the quick trio of Miss Prissy, The Intellectual and The Publicity Assistant between 10 and 2 today. That last one should be an interesting session since "Inception" began today.

At the juku last night, the boss told me that she hadn't felt so much as a shiver from yesterday morning's fairly strong quake in the Kanto area. She told me that she's been taking some sleeping medicine so probably a Shindo 7 wouldn't be able to get her out of her coma. As usual, she took it in stride, saying that at least if the entire house caved in and crushed her like a bug, there would be no pain.

Before the juku, I had stopped by Seiyu at Urayasu Station to check out some television sets. Yup, a lot of technology has passed me by since I bought my Victor back in 1998. For one thing, sets nowadays are as slim as anorexic supermodels. I couldn't find a single box-like set with the old huge chassis. And Seiyu is kinda like the Japanese K-Mart, too, but even their wares made my dead TV look absolutely primitive. And the cheapest ones aren't too bad-looking either; the least expensive one was only 21,000 yen. I'll have to measure my old screen just to pinpoint the right set to buy.

I guess the O-Chuugen gift-giving season is in full swing. I got a notice from The Matron, whom I haven't seen in over 18 months, via a mail notice that she'd sent another package of pastries for me. And I also got another notice that my mother's package has also arrived after 6 weeks of sea travel.
Friday July 23, 4:49 p.m.

Got through the two students here: The Stockholder was a bit more animated today but he can still take quite a few minutes to formulate an answer. The Artist was about 15 minutes late but she did quite well.

I've only got the juku boss and The Restauranteur to worry about for tonight. But it'll be fairly busy tomorrow since I have Miss Prissy, The Intellectual and The Publicity Assistant nearly back-to-back.

Gotta see if I can continue to compare prices for television sets. I was thinking of dropping by the Seiyu Department Store at Urayasu Station on the way to the juku to see if I can see some sets there.

"Inception" starts here tomorrow. Skippy and Miss Ivory are planning to catch DiCaprio's latest on Sunday night with me. The gala premiere was back on Tuesday night at Roppongi Hills. It may have been me but Leo looked like as if he preferred to be anywhere but there, but then again, the Tokyo heat and humidity plus the usual inane entertainment reporters can do that to anyone.

I made the reservations for my annual stay in Yokohama via Rakuten. It'll be the same hotel since they were pretty good about things last year, and it is central in Minato Mirai.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Friday July 23, 12:14 p.m.
Listened to the album to the left here...the one showing the early years of the eclectic singer Miharu Koshi. Currently and for the past several years, she's been a mix of French pop and techno coquettishness. However, back in the late 70s, she was a cross between an aidoru and a New Music performer. The album started out promisingly with her first hit in that era, "Love Step". It's a City Pop tune...the Japanese equivalent of AOR. She actually sounded a whole lot like another veteran songsmith, Junko Yagami, in terms of voice and tune, but as the album proceeded, it started to become evident that the songs were starting to sound like not-quite-as-good tunes of the latter singer. And as the 3 years of this early stage passed by, it seemed that she wasn't quite sure how her voice should sound. Some songs had her singing at the falsetto that she's now known for, but in others, she dropped about an octave to reach that earthiness of Yagami. Near the end of the CD, though, there were hints via some synths and her own voice as to where she would change direction. In the liner notes, the author stated that the current incarnation of Koshi has never gone back to those songs of the late 70s, and I can understand why. In any case, I guess I'll have to take a closer look at some of her newer stuff. Perhaps this CD will gradually grow on me.
Had a "Shake and Bake" experience this morning. Of course, the Bake part was just from the heat wave that just about the entire country has been suffering from for the past week (except Hokkaido...the easternmost part had me swooning with high temps of just 23 C); but the Shake part came with a Shindo 3 quake which shook Ichikawa and vicinity. But the epicenter was up in Ibaraki Prefecture where it measured a 5 that's something to wake up to. It doesn't seem as if there was much of any damage, though. NHK went back to regular broadcasting within 15 minutes.
I have The Shareholder and The Artist here at Speedy's before I've got The Restauranteur tonight at the juku.
I guess the heat has really been getting on me. Miss London remarked that my face looked thinner.
Thursday July 22, 8:38 p.m.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out The Carolinan. Looks about as bored as that brat Elder I had tried to teach some years ago, but still is kind enough to give me a special bottle of Bailey's Irish Creme as an O-chuugen gift tonight. I also got a box of Dalloyou confectionaries from Grandma Dynamite this morning, probably for the same reason. Looks like I'll have some lugging to do tonight. And I know I'll be swigging from one of the gifts tonight before I hit bed.

After The Carolinan's lesson, La Fille and I were cleaning up the lounge, lamenting slightly about the departure of our mutual friend, Ray. She's probably enjoying the onsen over in Hakone just about now. As for her replacement, Ms. Efficiency, I'm not quite sure yet. She's certainly nice enough but I'm not sure if she is as johnny-on-the-spot as she indicated in her interview. Both the bossman and I are happy that she's asking questions but sometimes I think she's just desperately trying to catch up.

Well, just The Music Man in about half an hour.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thursday July 22, 3:46 p.m.
Yup, it's a steamer out there. Stepped out for a few hours down to Shibuya via bus to: 1) check out a CD at Tower Records, and 2) to take a look at prices for a new TV set. I've noticed that a third of my diet over the past few days has been liquid in content, notably ion drinks such as Japan's famous Pocari Sweat. The folks at NHK, basically the only station that I can get absolutely clearly on my old TV at present now that the JVC has gone to appliance heaven, have actually been exhorting the populace to guzzle down the Sweat and any other related drinks before and after bedtime to replenish those lost salts. I don't think I've ever seen such a push for liquids in my 16 years here. However, I have been following the pundits and have been downing the stuff like candy. Basically, my body has been pumping moisture into the atmosphere pretty much non-stop.
Now, as for the photos. The Pocari Sweat, of course, refers to the above paragraph. However, the picture showing the far more shaplier figure belongs to one Miharu Koshi, the primary reason that I went down to Tower Records. I'd heard of her over the years, mostly through one-third of the legendary band Yellow Magic Orchestra...namely Haruomi Hosono. Through sources like YouTube and Wiki, I have found out that she started her career life as a Japanese New Music songstress in the late 70s...following the West Coast Sound that a lot of her brethren at the time were emulating. She also looked rather like the usual female New Music singer of the time: long wavy hair and natural makeup. But then starting in the 80s, she made a rather big metamorphosis in looks and song: with Hosono as a sort-of mentor, her music took on a more techno approach, and she started evolving her looks into a more art-deco, cosmetics-heavy appearance. And over the next couple of decades, her music started covering tunes throughout space and time: the space being France, the time being the 30s and could say Koshi had transformed into a space-age French retro-cabaret chanteuse. And that look as a rather sexy cowgirl could've been Photoshopped somewhat but she looks pretty good for someone who's now a half-century old. But I digress...I bought her CD of her earliest period as a West Coast sound singer.
As for my second reason down in Shibuya, I took a look at Labi, the mega-electronics store near the station. The place is definitely more on the high-end of television sets. A lot of those plasma screens which are way out of my salary range. The most inexpensive things there were about 30,000 yen...not too bad, and they're a whole lot slimmer than my dead JVC. In any case, something to further mull about over the next few days.

Thursday July 22, 11:39 a.m.

Grandma Dynamite came in...fortunately, she was in her cheerful mood today. And I was able to unplug that toilet by running out to the nearest supermarket and finding a plunger for about $14. Miss Efficiency was mighty happy about that. Speaking of her, our new employee is still finding her sea legs, so to speak. Well, she no longer has Ray to rely on so it's sink-or-swim time for her.

Well, the bossman has gotten back from his morning classes so I'll probably be heading out to Shibuya and start searching for that new TV. Plus there are a few CDs that I might want to search out at Tower Records. It sure is hot out there, though.
Thursday July 22, 9:14 a.m.

Nice start to the day. Got to the school, had breakfast and did my toilette...only to clog the bowl. And apparently, this school doesn't have a plunger. No monstrous messiness, though. I was able to clean the toilet quite nicely, so there is a good side to this but still that water is only moving one way...up and out. Luckily, The Patent Attorney chose this day to cancel his lesson since he often makes use of the facilities. I just put up an"Out of Order" sign and I'm just gonna wait til after Grandma Dynamite's lesson and see if I can pick up a plunger downstairs at the 100 Yen shop.
Wednesday July 21, 8:50 p.m.

Yesteday was a bit of a hybrid schedule of Monday and Tuesday; my Monday students of Cozy and Swank got placed into Tuesday morning since I had no lesson with The Beehive, and then I had the usual Tuesday night juku group. Well, everyone except for Mr. White. He had to beg off sick. I wasn't completely surprised by the dotakyan since the heat was close to 35 C yesterday, and I'd suspected that Mr. White's fragile constitution wouldn't have been up to the challenge. I had the usual good sessions with The Milds and Mr. Nice Guy.

I had my final session with Swank before she takes off for Hawaii on her annual summer vacation with the family. Probably won't see her until early September. And yet, I'll be seeing her husband next week, just the day before he takes off. Between her and the juku, I ended up stopping by Yamano Music in Ginza to pick up that Sayuri Ishikawa CD. Sayuri Ishikawa is an enka singer by trade but the first track had her singing a jazzy torch song as a jingle for Suntory Whiskey a couple of years back; a tune that has been covered by local acapella group The Gospellers and now by J-pop veteran Mariya Takeuchi. The tune is called "Whiskey, O-suki deshou?" or "You Like Whiskey, Don't You?", and Ishikawa was the first and the best one to sing it. I can just imagine myself nursing that whiskey glass in an oak-and-marble bar while I'm listening to it.

Today was Ray's last day on the job. True to her quiet nature, any goodbyes were low-key; no crying jags with her. And it kinda sounded like more like "See you later" than anything final. From tomorrow, it'll be Miss Efficiency in the main chair with La Fille, The Schmoozer and Miss London as the backups.

I just had The Artist and 001 today. 001 only has 9 more lessons left before it's time for renewal. But I think the string is finally running out on her long relationship with this school. Basically, we've just been carrying on a banter for most of the last several months so I'm not sure if she'd like to pay money for fun conversation.

It was another scorcher out there although I've luckily been esconced in the relatively cooler confines of Speedy's. The bossman is out right now celebrating his wedding anniversary with the wife. And I'm just about ready to head on home. I may just stop by the Golden Arches for a quick bite but it'll be another early one. But it won't be with The Patent Attorney to start since he cancelled his lesson for tomorrow morning. Instead, it'll be Grandma Dynamite to lead off. Then, it'll be several hours before The Carolinan and The Music Man wrap things up.

Wednesday July 21, 8:42 a.m.
Oh, the irony. To TV or not TV? On the left, I witnessed my JVC television of 12 years die a quick death this morning when I turned it on. It actually had been showing signs of dying for some weeks now since it looked like the top part of the image seemed to have been rolling down onto itself. Well, this morning, I just got that horizontal line representing all of the imagery, before the busted chassis quietly went permanently dark. In a way, that line kinda reminded me of a person's ECG flatlining.
Meanwhile, the right picture shows the bedroom TV I've had since I arrived at my apartment nearly 16 years ago...a set that The Persian (the previous resident of this apartment) had picked up from the garbage area, a set that is close to 40 years old, and a set that has old-fashioned dials and no remote control...and it still works. Well, because of the switch from analog to terrestrial digital, that set is also showing signs of dying but the point is that it can still show clear images from a few stations such as NHK. And thus therein lies the irony. This old junker was my main and only TV for the first 4 years of my time here before it got thrown into the bedroom by the JVC, and yet the former has survived the latter by decades.
Well, the moral of the story's time to search for that new TV. I wonder how much this will set me back.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Monday July 19, 11:23 a.m.
One sign that summer is indeed here in The Big Sushi is the first making of my Peach-Banana Smoothie. Here it is in all its glory within the customary Bubba Gump milkshake glass that I'd gotten at its namesake restaurant near Tokyo Dome several years ago. I just threw in some pulped peach, a couple of bananas, a cup of yogurt, a cup of milk, some honey and then some ice cubes to cool it down, and then I blended the whole thing. Tasty and healthy at the same time. Not too many things I can say that about.
That proofreading assignment did come in, albeit late last night. Luckily, it was indeed a proofreading assignment, and not a translating one since I probably would've ended up staying here at the I-Cafe for 8 hours.
It'll be another steamy one here, as it will probably be for the next several weeks, unless a typhoon comes along and dumps a ton of water on us. I may just forego cooking and just have hiyashi chuuka for dinner everyday.
Ended up watching "The Maltese Falcon" on DVD last night. Just a classic in so many ways. And strangely enough, for what is arguably the first Film Noir, it did have a good sense of humour. Not as many remembered bon mots as "Casablanca", though. In fact, I think there was just the one, "The stuff that dreams are made of."