Friday, August 06, 2010

Saturday August 7, 3:13 p.m.

It was one of those really bizarre Friday juku sessions, and it all occurred in the afternoon, a rather atypical time for a Friday juku session. The juku boss once again brought up that little misunderstanding with the computer usage...y'know, I was willing to just forget about it, but she just had to bring it up once more with the consistency of cud-chewing. And this time, there was crying involved. She said after that rather tense departure on Tuesday, she'd gone into a bit of a depressive funk for a few days since the last thing she wanted was me to hate her...which I don't. Despite all of the names I've thrown at her...and frankly, which I'll probably continue to do since she often drives me up the wall with some of her antics...I'm still thankful to her for a number of things, least of which is the fact that she's the guarantor of my apartment. Still, I really didn't want to go through another venting with her, but she just felt so guilty about how she handled things on Tuesday that she started weeping. And if there's one thing I can't stand is to see a grown anything cry. I reassured her that I didn't hate was just one of those little tiffs that even friends go through...and I promised her that I would start touching keys again. So, I'm hoping that is the end of that.

The second thing that made things rather intriguing at the juku was that that reporter who wanted lessons with me turned out to be a semi-celeb of sorts. Since I make it a policy to use code names for close friends and students, I'll have to daub him as The Reporter. The Reporter is a known face on the morning wide shows, so as soon as he came on up to the room, I pegged him immediately. The other surprising fact is that he actually lives not 5 minutes away from the juku....a celeb living in old Urayasu. The Reporter confided that he had started out as an actor, and he did have that rather Ricardo Montalban sort of delivery and stance, not in the Khan Noonien Singh way...but more in his old Hollywood days. His English is pretty good if not perfect but I can help him. But his outsized personality and rat-a-tat style of speaking (probably because of his journalistic career) made both me and the boss wonder if he's gonna last a month with us. We're pretty laid back in this corner of the universe. Although he set up a first class for September, I'm wondering if he'll just stand us up since we're too down-home for him. In any case, I'll probably still set up some sort of curriculum for him.

Afterwards, since I had several hours before the night group of the boss, Mr. Nice Guy and The Restauranteur, I made my way out to Otemachi and to Maruzen to pick up some reading material and then make a short pit stop at home before I made my monthly visit to The Restauranteur's diner. I had forgotten the portions served there so I ended up having the Meat Sauce Spaghetti and The Green Salad...both of them individually could've made a complete dinner for a carnivore and a vegetarian respectively. Somehow, I was able to grind my way through both...even The Restauranteur was impressed. My night group was fine and now the juku is off for about a week for the O-Bon holidays.

Yep, the O-Bon launched from this morning when NHK reported on the huge traffic jams on the highways. And next week is gonna look a bit sparse with the big exception of Wednesday since I've got The Businesswoman, The Artist, a model lesson student, 001 and Miss Sony. I would've raised a bit of a hue and cry, except that the rest of my days are going to have huge holes in the schedule.

I just had Miss Prissy and The Publicity Assistant. Both of them had some interesting stories for me. Miss Prissy came in suffering from a slight hangover. The lady has always come across as someone who would collapse if she even smelled beer fumes, but apparently she can almost hold her own in terms of alcohol, but she admitted that she had imbibed a little too much last night, and thus the tiny headache. With The PA, she came in without any sleep for over 24 hours due to the demands of her job. Somehow, she made it through the class without collapsing herself. And she even had the wherewithal to decide to renew with us again.

Almost time to go home...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Thursday August 5, 8:50 p.m.

Well, I've been long finished after The Carolinan's lesson. La Fille is just noodling around the keyboard while the bossman is doing the same in his office. Earlier this afternoon, some lady called in to say that she wanted to get some counseling for some classes and that she would arrive there by bicycle by 4 from some faraway location. The bossman was a bit leery whether she would be able to get here by 5, let alone by 4. Sure enough, she didn't even get here by 5; she didn't get here, period. Just as was probably some dimwit woman...I've had some experience with them recently. Yup, there's still a part of me which is pissed off at the juku boss. My family can hold grudges.

The class with The German went well. We actually managed to get through 2 pages of the text although there was still a lot of gab. 001 may be the Queen of Banter when it comes to me, but The German comes a close second. The Carolinan was her usual quieter self but she was a bit more animated since we did get into some good talk about those missing centenarians. Apparently, the count is about 33 nationwide. That one mummified lady had been dead for over 3 decades...Reagan hadn't even become President when she passed on.

I've only got juku business tomorrow. There is that model lesson....30 minutes of it...with that so-called professional interviewer of the stars. I'm a bit leery though I have gotten my prep done for it. For one thing, he wants to come in anytime between noon and 6 on Fridays but that's an absolute no-no since I've usually got The Shareholder during that time. And for another, he's really going downscale for a guy who chats with folks like Leo, Will and Tom. Why would he want to go to our motley juku in a Urayasu neighbourhood to learn high-scale English? I'm wondering if he'll decide to turn tail once he sees we're in a somewhat dilapidated house. In any case, once that's done I've got 5.5 hours of nothing until the juku boss starts off Friday night. I can go to The Restauranteur's place but that doesn't open til 5.

Mr. Nice Guy has to do a make-up lesson between the boss and The Restauranteur. But his time with us has become numbered since, thanks to his wife, he's managed to secure a position in his dreamland of Hawaii. He won't be leaving until October but he's finishing up with us at the end of this month. To be frankly honest, he is indeed a nice guy but his structure is so wonky that I feel that I'll always have to shore up his stuff with sticks and baling wire so I won't be so sad to see him go, and besides he and his family will get a far better education over there in The Aloha State.

Had a brief misunderstanding with one of my translation clients. I got so eager to get a translation assignment that I hadn't read the fine print which states that it's SOP to find out whether the assignment hadn't already been given out to someone else. Sure enough, it was, and I got a frantic letter from to cease and desist. I gave my apologies and he gave his, and everything's fine now.

Gonna head home soon. But I'm happy that I can actually sleep in a bit tomorrow and can actually enjoy a bit of air-conditioned comfort in my apartment before I head on out.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Thursday August 5, 3:42 p.m.

Man, The Shareholder is gonna be one hard student to have during the summer days. A self-confessed humorless guy, he just has a molasses-like thought process which sucks all of the oxygen out of the room. Barely got out of the room with my wakefulness intact. Glad that I hadn't had lunch until after his lesson. Otherwise, I would've been pretending to be a narcoleptic.

I got those translations done, got something whipped up for that model lesson at the juku tomorrow afternoon, and prepped for The Restauranteur's lesson tomorrow night. I may be dropping by her place for dinner since it has been about a month.

001 was her usual genki self. Not surprisingly, we didn't even touch the text. We basically gabbed about getting those concert tickets for her fave band, Arashi, a hilarious episode of drunkenness involving her and some friends, plus various cocktails.
Thursday August 5, 11:32 a.m.

Just bought my lunch at the 500-yen place. Yep, it's another scorcher out there. Luckily, I'm here until after The Carolinan's lesson tonight. Then, I'm strangely done for the day since The Music Man is not coming tonight. However, before she comes I still have The Shareholder and The German.

The really weird news dominating the local airwaves has been the one about missing centenarians. Apparently, Tokyo's oldest citizen, a 113-year-old woman has gone AWOL for the past several weeks or months. Noone has seen or contacted her. When the media decided to check her daughter who's a relatively youthful 80, she gave the kicker that she hasn't had any contact with Mom in about 40 years. And she hasn't been the only one. Police found the mummified remains of one old fellow who had gone missing and several others are out there incommunicado. Just wonder if pictures of senior citizens will start getting emblazoned on the sides of milk cartons in Japan as pics of kids are on the American equivalent.

Thursday August 5, 9:45 a.m.

Sometime last week, I blogged about the singer Miharu Koshi, and her fascinating career from Japanese New Music idol to 80s technochanson pop tart to turn-of-the-century (20th-century, that is)Franco-German jazz chanteuse. I'd bought a CD of her New Music days and blogged about that. Back on Monday, I bought the CD on the right "Epoque de Techno" which is actually a re-release of her first two forays into New Wave YMO-influenced techno, "Tutu" and "Parallelisme".

To reiterate from last week, my opinion on her New Music stuff which includes songs like "Love Step" and "Snoopy" was that as a happy-go-lucky, tons-of-hair, jeans-wearing singer, she came across as a Junko Yagami or Taeko Onuki wannabe but not her own singer. She wrote up some pleasant enough songs but nothing that particularly stood out. In the liner notes for "Epoque de Techno", Koshi admitted that around the early 80s she had come upon a brick wall set up by a lot of producers who were no longer all interested in her work. Something needed to change, and the catalyst was the Haruomi "Harry" Hosono, one of the three masterminds behind the Yellow Magic Orchestra.
One of her final New Music albums was "On the Street" which had her old persona strutting in a 70s pantsuit. Well, she underwent a metamorphosis along the lines of a caterpillar to a butterfly so that the former glowing girl-next-door type turned into the heavily made-up coquettish gamine shown on 1983's "Tutu", her first New Wave album. Her voice was squeezed into a whispery, higher register with French pop sensibilities, and the music was technopop. Her new songs were definitely more interesting to listen, and although the chances of them hitting the top of the Oricon chart were somewhat lower, she had successfully become her own singer.
The Shibuya-kei sound wouldn't be recognized for another several years but it's interesting that Miharu Koshi came out with her new sound sometime before other artists such as Kahimi Karie, Pizzicato Five and PSY-S, acts that Koshi reminds me of. Now that I've got her middle period of New Wave represented on my CD shelves, I'll have to check her latter period of Franco-German delights.

Thursday August 5, 8:19 a.m.

It seems to be an annual event....once again on Tuesday at the juku, I had to take the boss to task for some idiocy. She's kind, generous and very loyal but at the same time, she's also a scatterbrain and a dumbass with her mouth.

It was about the computer at the juku. There has been that revolving door policy with it. At one point a couple of years back, she allowed me to use for some general Net surfing and e-mail but when it started getting cranky, she asked me not to use it so that it can last a bit longer. And I had no problems with that. Then she got a new computer late last year for which she developed a temporary phobia since for some mysterious reason she had decided to get a top-of-the-line machine although she has nearly zilch knowledge about computers in general. It was getting to be a regular thing for her to come begging to me every time I arrived for some little glitch that she couldn't understand.

However, when things finally settled down for her psychologically, I was apparently allowed to make documents for students and even got to access my e-mail. I did inform her that I would only access the Net just for e-mail purposes, and she was seemingly fine with that. Then, Tuesday happened. I was just checking my e-mail when the boss came in and told me that I would have to delete my cache of documents because the computer speed was slowing down; I hadn't realized that several documents of 11 KB each would cause that much of a slowdown but, yeah, I said I would delete them since they were only for Sugar N' Spice and they were now gone. But then, the boss had to put the boot in and told me that I would have to stop surfing the Net, and she said it in a way that made it sound like I was Netsurfing behind her back. Basically, I was back on the outs when it came to the computer.

Well, perhaps it was the heat, my general fatigue and the fact that she was flip-flopping like an errant senator, but I just went into battle mode and tried to assure her that I was only checking my I had promised her. But she just kept repeating that I couldn't use the computer anymore. Well, that kinda broke my back.

She realized that perhaps she had put my nose out of joint and got me some sort of chocolate thingy from the store as a bit of an apology...but all that did was just get me even more pissed off at her. She basically accused me of lying behind her back and thinks that a cake is gonna appease me? Well, when I left that night after my lessons, she did what she usually does in such a situation and kept on groveling and apologizing...which drives me up the wall with anyone. And finally, I quietly vented at her about what and how she said it. And I just said that if she can't handle the computer policy, then I would just simply not use it anymore. Of course, she said that she will give me access to the computer again...but frankly I'm fed up. I just shrugged my shoulders and just changed the topic to that model lesson student on Friday. But I'm just not get myself involved in that computer anymore.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Monday August 2, 6:20 p.m.
Quite a difference with the regime change in televisions. Out with the old chassis JVC, and in with the slim flatpanel Sharp AQUOS. I was able to hook up the latter pretty much within 45 minutes with cable and DVD. Now, I've got the predecessor just laying on the tatami; I have to give a call to the sodai gomi guys for pickup by Friday...and probably end up paying a good 5,000 yen.
I have Miss Genki in about an hour and then Medicine Man for the final slot. I haven't seen Medicine Man in about a month but I promise I'll have lots to do with him when he comes in.
Monday August 2, 6:04 p.m.

It was one of those lazy summer days for me. Not too many classes so that I had a lot of time to enjoy myself. I had Cozy for his usual lesson this morning bright and early...he apparently had a rather not-so-nice weekend but was reluctant to go into it and I reassured him that he was under no obligation to tell me at all. I could only speculate that there was a major screwup in his work or he and the missus had a tiff.

Then I decided to go watch "Toy Story 3" at Roppongi Hills. The first show didn't start until close to noon so I just had my coffee and dessert at Espresso Americano where I always teach Swank. It was a bit weird there just by myself for an hour and a half without having my student in front of me.

"Toy Story 3" is definitely the final chapter in the lives of Buzz, Woody and least, I hope so. As one critic put it, this series will probably go down as the most critically successful movie trilogy (although I think the guys behind The Bourne Trilogy may have something to rebut about that) in history...and as much as I love the characters, I really don't want Pixar to tempt fate by risking a mediocre 4th unlikely as that may be. It's hard to believe that a decade has passed since the 2nd movie so it is somewhat of a miracle that just about all of the actors from the first 2 entries could make it. Plotwise, the movie basically follows the same premise as that of No. 2 but what sets them apart is that there is a certain poignancy which permeates the flick throughout. Past characters have gone missing and Andy is now going away for good....the final scenes probably had even grown men grabbing for their handkerchiefs, and I did hear some sniffles from my audience. Still, there are some great comic moments including Buzz's Spanish Mode.

As strange as it may seem, I can compare "Toy Story 3" with the Japanese cop movie I saw a few weeks back "Odoru Dai Sosasen 3". Both were third entries, both had tons of old and new characters, and both had their themes of time passing by. However, I think the Pixar entry definitely succeeded far better in that category.