Friday, July 30, 2010

Saturday July 31, 3:21 p.m.

With the help of some parceling tape, what remains of my glasses is still sticking to my head.

I had my 3 Saturday students in quick succession: Miss Prissy, The Publicity Agent and The Intellectual. All of them were fine in their own way. I should be heading home within the next half-hour.

When I got home yesterday afternoon, I made a beeline toward Yamada Denki and got that new TV. It's an AQUOS, a flatpanel for about 36,000 yen...a pretty good bargain...about 15,000 yen cheaper than the usual asking price. It felt quite strange that I could actually pick it up with one hand and just carry it home like a bag. My last TV required two delivery men to haul it up to my place back in the 20th century. Speaking of which, I have to call up the guys over at sodai gomi (big garbage) to haul off the old set next Friday. I'm gonna try to set it up tonight (didn't bother last night...just too tired) whilst I get ready to see Yajima for the first time in about a month tomorrow.

Tonight's the annual Sumida River Fireworks Festival over in Asakusa. Luckily I won't be going anywhere near that area....a million people per square kilometre is just too much population density for me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Friday July 30, 1:12 p.m.

Not the best start to the day. Just as I was getting dressed, the left frame of my admittedly ancient classes gave up the ghost and fell off. I tried to use some glue to put it together only to get a glob of the stuff on one lens which proceeded to stay stubbornly on. Therefore, I have been flying blind, so to speak, out in The Big Sushi with my lesson with The New Yorker and soon with The Shareholder. So, I now not only have to get a new TV but possibly a new pair of glasses.

It is an interesting experience, though, walking the streets without my spectacles. I'm not really blind but I see everything through a layer of fuzziness. I can make out shapes but not details. In a way, though, it's been easy to walk with my head totally upright since I don't like to make eye contact, inadvertent or otherwise. Since I can't make out people's faces, I can just stare straight ahead.

As for tThe New Yorker, she's been having her own problems. She just got an I-Phone like millions of other people in this nation, and she's just not a real technologically savvy type. She's been having her share of frustrations over the past 48 hours. I just told he that she just needed to practice with it some more, like her English conversation. Mind you, she's been with me now for 5 years still struggling.
Thursday July 29, 8:46 p.m.

Once again, the session with The German was another major chatfest, though liberally humourous. She's slated for another round with me next week; although I wonder if it's really wise to put us together.

That was several hours ago. Since then, I've been mostly fiddling around the Internet: typing stuff on Mixi or playing games via Facebook. But I've got The Music Man coming in about half an hour and then I'll be done for the day.

Thursday July 29, 8:33 p.m.
The man on the left is Keisuke Kuwata, leader of the legendary Southern All Stars. Anyone who has been into J-Pop for a while knows about this guy. He and his band represent all that is summery about Japanese music. From the crowded beaches of Shonan to the white sands of Okinawa, the good time music of SAS has been filtering through the speakers for over 30 years. Perhaps the closest American equivalent would be The Beach Boys but it would be a poor one. Southern All Stars is quite a unique outfit putting out a mix of upbeat beach tunes, some raunchy rock and summery ballads with frontman Kuwata providing some growly vocals while his wife, Yuko Hara, mans the keyboards and sometimes provides some of her own songs. In addition to his band, though, Kuwata has also been doing his solo act for just as long and getting tons of hits.
This may all change. It has become the big news story of the day here that Kuwata has been diagnosed with an early form of esophageal cancer so a new album has been delayed in release. It's still early days so the prognosis is excellent. Still, though, a lot of fans were caught off-guard since the man is in his youngish 50s.
I was never a huge fan of The Southern All Stars for some reason but even I have to admit liking some of their tunes. For me, the most famous tune of theirs was the theme tune from the failed movie "Inamura Jane" back in 1990. "Manatsu no Kajitsu" became their ballad tune, at least until a more recent hit, "Tsunami", pretty much replaced it. SAS songs were on regular karaoke play and it was a very rare outing to the karaoke boxes when a SAS song wasn't sung...usually some drunken fellow.
I'd heard that Hall & Oates were somehow inspired by Kuwata. And Kuwata himself sang a great rendition of "I.G.Y", the deceptively difficult hit of Donald Fagen.
In any case, I do hope that Kuwata is back on the mend.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thursday July 28, 3:50 p.m.

It's been another one of those days spent behind the computer between lessons. However, some respite will be coming when The German gets here in about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, it's been raining the proverbial cats and dogs outside. Speedy just interviewed a new teacher to fill one corporate spot.

Currently the staffer in charge is The Schmoozer...out of all the staff that have come and gone, including Ray, she's the one who loves to mingle and get out the word about our school, which is precisely the reason that Speedy hired her. Miss Efficiency had to leave early to go to a medical checkup, and perhaps didn't impress the bossman by telling him at a late stage. Our newest staffer is still learning the ropes as she's going along, and she's been fending off the annoying sales folks on the phone.
Thursday July 29, 9:37 a.m.

I woke up to the meterological equivalent of Tchaikovsky's "The War of 1812" this morning. The past several days had been notable for increasing heat and humidity but then after that slow first movement came a huge thunderclap at about 6:15 a.m. and then the clouds opened up like the floodgates of Hoover Dam. It actually felt truly cool outside...but very wet. It was a slight hassle getting to work but at least the shift in weather is a welcome one.

I've got quite the Donut Day today. I just had my lone lesson of the morning via The Patent Attorney, and because of Grandma Dynamite's sudden but unsurprising cancellation, I don't have anything until 4 p.m. this afternoon when The German comes in, and then it's another several hours before The Music Man comes in for his lesson.

A couple of murderers got the noose yesterday, and Justice Minister Reiko Chiba was there to witness it all...the first time that a standing minister ever saw people get put to death. It is also significant in that before she became the minister, she had been part of a grassroots organization against the death penalty. I can only gather that she decided to witness the executions so that she can get further food for thought about her personal policies. It's not as if she's gonna be carrying this burden as the minister since she has already decided to step down in September.
Wednesday July 28, 9:34 p.m.

Well Miss Sony did quite well for her first class. A bit slow and stumbly but job well done.

I've been basically without any TV coverage for about a week now, and y'know, it's not that bad at all. I've been able to watch NHK weather forecasts in the morning on the old surviving Victor but that's about it. No "NCIS", no "Burn Notice", no inane Japanese variety shows...but I haven't ended up curling into a ball and calling out for my mommy...or television. But the fact is that I'm still paying for my cable and NHK so I think I should try to get some sort of device up and running by the end of the weekend.

In any case, I've got The Patent Attorney tomorrow morning but Grandma Dynamite has cancelled once more until August. Basically, I've got a huge donut day since after The Patent Attorney, I've got nobody until The German in the late afternoon, and then it'll just be The Music Man to finish up.
Wednesday July 28, 7:36 p.m.

Well, no real surprise but that lady from the real estate agency hasn't bothered to call. I'm not sure what they're up to.

Looks like another television announcer has decided to commit suicide. This one is a lady from NTV. She jumped her from her house balcony in Sendai yesterday morning. Apparently, she had been suffering from depression for some time. I had the impression that the life of an announcer wasn't all that easy, particularly the hours, but I just gotta wonder what would push these semi-celebs over the edge.
Wednesday July 28, 5:58 p.m.

Feeling kinda tense right now....only because my real estate agency seems to be hellbent on contacting me for some reason. A few weeks ago, some lady from the agency tried to contact me once saying that she would call again; apparently, according to the number of hang-ups left on my machine, she was rather insistent. Perhaps I should've called back but I'm not a big fan of theirs. Then, last Saturday, I got a letter from them stating that they did try to contact me several times because they had wanted to inform me that any bicycles belonging to me on the premises had to be registered. I'd frankly thought that this was a dead issue since I not only have a bike but haven't ridden one in several years. But apparently as soon as I got into Speedy's a few hours ago, Miss Efficiency told me that the lady from the agency had somehow tracked me down to the school and would be calling....any minute now.

I went to Akiba this morning to search for a new TV. I went to a number of places such as Yodobashi and Sato Musen but the flatpanels within my price range looked like tinkertoys or didn't support cable. So, basically it was a wasted 3 hours there. So it looks like I'll rely on my neighbourhood Yamada Denki to get what I want. If everything works out, I might be able to get it delivered by Saturday or Sunday.

I got that initial translation done for The Corner. Now, it's just dinner before I get Miss Sony for her very first lesson later tonight. 001 isn't here today.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday July 26, 9:27 p.m.

There was one big difference in terms of weather last night, and that was I could get a good night's sleep without waking up in a layer of sweat. It was actually fairly cool overnight, thanks to a bit of sudden precip. We're actually getting some rain right now so I'm hoping we may get a repeat performance tonight.

Had Cozy for the usual early morning, but since Swank is now off for vacation and SIL is gone for the indefinite future, I just came home. I started researching for my future TV via the local Yamada Denki. Saw a lot of those really thin flatpanels and there are some reasonably priced ones. I didn't make any purchases today; most likely I'm looking at Wednesday when I head on over to Akihabara.

I actually had Mr. Swank for his last class before he takes off with family over to Hawaii for the next month. Looks like he and his staff had a really hot time of it in Vietnam. He was quoting 40 to 45 degrees with 100% humidity! Coming back here to Tokyo must've felt like arriving in Canada in late November.

Otherwise, it was Ms. Genki to wrap up. The Medicine Man is off tonight although I'm still here, but not for long.

Monday July 26, 6:18 p.m.
Yep, I caught it last night with Skippy and Miss Ivory, considerably smaller movie-watching crew than even the "Inception" gang. Afterwards, the three of us hit a cafe in Roppongi to discuss the movie; the ladies enjoyed it but were somewhat befuddled. I had a bit of a better handle on the plot but still it made me think for a good long while. Kinda miss the input from MB and The Satyr since they are currently out of the country. Chris Nolan has once again hit one out of the ballpark. "Inception" mixes sci-fi, film noir, and heist films. To term it another way, it's an amalgam of "The Matrix", "Laura" and "Ocean's Eleven". Probably the closest relative to it in terms of tone would be the very first movie, "The Matrix", made some 11 years prior. However, the difference does lie in the casting. Of course, Leonardo DiCaprio is the star here but pretty much all of his co-stars have had successful star turns in their own flicks (Ellen Page in "Juno", Marion Cotillard in "La Vie En Rose", Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "500 Days of Summer", etc.); pretty top-loaded film.
"Inception" has done quite well for itself since it debuted Stateside a couple of weeks ago, although the reviews have kinda balanced out somewhat from the nearly virtual love-in just before release. And I think part of the reason is that it provides a mythology that will be talked about by the geeks without getting too heavy. Dom Cobb and company give some tidbits about the nature of their jobs but don't end up boring the audience to death like The Architect in "Matrix Reloaded" did.
Of course, over here everyone was wondering how local guy Ken Watanabe would fare, and people were quite delighted to see that he got second billing after Leo in the end credits, but for me, my favorite character was Arthur. He came across as this rather anal-retentive prissy type but he's the one who got medieval on the bad guys in the rotating corridor segment, probably the scene that will be remembered from this movie; it'll probably be regarded on the same level as the scene in "The Matrix" where Neo was bending over backwards trying to avoid bullets. It's hard to imagine that this was the same guy from "3rd Rock From the Sun". And there was a nice friendly antagonism between him and Tom Hardy's Eames...reminded me of those old Spock-McCoy arguments. Hard to also imagine that this was the same Tom Hardy in "Star Trek: Nemesis".
I may be tempted to watch the movie one more time. I'm definitely getting the DVD later this year.