Friday, August 20, 2010

Saturday August 21, 2:00 p.m.

Finished up two-thirds of the students for today. The Intellectual rushed in 30 minutes late due to a work-related matter so we could take care of his speech. Then The Publicity Assistant and I had a talk on the nature of Japanese thespians, especially on Erika Sawajiri, the current enfant terrible.

Just Ms. Prissy in about 90 minutes. Then I'm off to the gig. The Intellectual is also off to a concert of his own. He'll be seeing Akiko Yano (the former Mrs. Ryuichi Sakamoto) at the Tokyo Blue Note tonight. I had my own experience at Tokyo's premier jazz facility when The Manhattan Transfer came into town earlier this year but although the quartet was great, I just found the seating to be a bit too close to cattle car.

Although Hikaru Utada may be done with singing for the foreseeable future, the media is apparently not done with her. I saw one of those banners at the newspaper kiosks yesterday, screaming in black and yellow: "UTADA IN LESBIAN BAR!" As if that's a hugely scandalous piece of news in this day and age. I've had students and fellow teachers go to gay bars just to enjoy the atmosphere and they're very much heterosexual.
Saturday August 21, 11:41 a.m.

Looks like The Intellectual got hung up with something work-related so he's only going to be able to make it for just the last half hour of his scheduled 60.

I've got the usual Saturday folks otherwise. The Publicity Assistant and Miss Prissy will be showing up later this afternoon. Afterwards, I'll be heading over to Otsuka for The Bass' gig at Welcome Back!

Miss Efficiency is definitely a lot more gabbier than Ray ever was during her 2 years here at Speedy's. Not that that is particularly a bad thing. Found out that the former had dinner with the latter last night, and apparently Ray seems to be a different person...much more stress-free. I hadn't realized that Ray was under such pressure but then again I was never all that involved in that side of the work here.
Saturday August 21, 11:21 a.m.

Well, met up with MB for the first time in several weeks in Roppongi Hills to catch "The A-Team". An interesting comparison can be made between it and "Inception". Both deal with expert outlaw teams. While "Inception" can be seen as slick and intellectual, "The A-Team" was definitely one of those films that can be termed as rock n' roll and something that doesn't require a brain. Just turn it off and then enjoy the ride like a roller coaster. Also the stars seemed to have a switch. Leo DiCaprio, who has often been seen as great eye candy for the ladies, ends up as a cooler-than-dry-ice team leader Dom Cobb, whereas Liam Neeson, who has gravitas coming out of all of his orifices, ends up being cartoony Hannibal Smith. Yep, "The A-Team" was fun and nonsensical, much like last year's "Star Trek", and I could easily see all the hints for a sequel.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday August 19, 10:33 p.m.

And thus another long Thursday comes to a close after The Music Man's lesson. He scored well on his test and we managed to get through the lesson without either of us falling asleep. I'll be logging off shortly.

I just came off of Mixi. I was rather happy to get some comments via a couple of entries from Spice, my former student at the juku. But apparently, her status bar contained some rather nasty comments toward someone of her acquaintance. Spice has always been well named since she has a rather spiky personality...luckily, she never showed her dark side toward me during her and her sister's brief time as students. However, she didn't hesitate to fling some verbal crud toward a friend. Of course, I'm not about to are kids and they can be cruel.
Thursday August 19, 8:11 p.m.

Did the round trip walk to Shinjuku for about 3 hours earlier this afternoon since I didn't just want to be fiddling around on the Internet all day at Speedy's. Actually, it didn't feel too hot out there, but there was still that perpetual layer of sweat between my undershirt and my skin which reminded me of how hot this summer has been. Made it all the way to Times Square and Kinokuniya where I picked up that text for Yajima.

For dinner, I just had a little something over at Burger King in the middle of the office district of West Shinjuku. I had a couple of ne'er-do-well punks behind me acting like the jackasses that young people are allowed to be. While I was ordering, one of them had the temerity to use his finger to poke through my airspace to show something on the menu. I quickly swung my elbow to clear him out. Luckily for me, he was so self-absorbed that he didn't even care being brushed back and just went on jabbering with his buddy. The last thing the bossman needed to get was a call from the local police that one of his employees had been involved in a brawl at a burger joint.

It was buzzing with activity at Speedy's about a couple of hours ago with myself, the bossman, Miss Efficiency, Moe, La Fille, and yet another new assistant, Miss Nice Girl occupying the seats. But most of them cleared out: Moe and the bossman went out to teach classes on site, and Miss Efficiency and Miss Nice Girl finished their shifts, so it's just La Fille and me before The Music Man comes by in about an hour. We finished the last of the Parm chocolate ice cream bars.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thursday August 19, 2:11 p.m.

Just finished with The Shareholder. He's getting steadily more talkative so the lessons are becoming a bit more fruitful. Meanwhile, one of our new teachers, Moe, is having the illustrious Photog. Moe seems to be a pretty laidback button-down sort so The Photog should be OK.

I've now got several hours before The Music Man comes in for the final slot of the day. I'll probably just go over to Times Square to pick up a text for Yajima. He sent me an e-mail this morning stating that he had just come back from Australia. He had a good time but he, as with a lot of other Japanese, had to struggle a bit with the accent.

Thursday August 19, 10:41 a.m.
Up above are a couple of photos from the time I was up in Akihabara on Sunday. As I'd mentioned, there was some sort of exhibition on an anime called "Black Rock Shooter" in the Crossfield Building, complete with pictures, film, cars and real live girls in costumes....everything that the average otaku needs for his viewing pleasure. One of the girls kinda had a passing resemblance to my ex...but if she had been indeed my old squeeze, she probably would've run screaming as soon as she saw me...the otaku would've just assumed it was part of the show.
I had The Patent Attorney as usual this morning. He and his wife had just come back from Vietnam just several hours before. He informed me that, much to his and my surprise, Ho Chi Minh City was a bit cooler and drier than expected. Quite the opposite meterological experience from Mr. Swank's odyssey down there earlier in the summer. Both he and his wife partook in the usual Vietnamese experiences of food, massage and surviving traffic.
Miss Efficiency has settled into her new duties as Speedy's new major domo. She's definitely a lot chattier than her predecessor, Ray. This morning, she was doing a fair bit of namedropping; apparently, she has the talent of being able to run into her fair share of celebrities. To wit, Huey Lewis, Madonna and the late John F. Kennedy Jr. She'd met the extended family of Ms. Ciccone in Harajuku some years back; hang around in Harajuku long enough and a celeb will bump into you. Yep, Miss Efficiency is definitely a lot more ebullient.
The weather was somewhat drier and cooler this morning than has been the case for the past several days...nice to feel although I'm not sure what it must be like outside right now. Probably back to steamy.
MB and I have set up a game plan to squeeze a viewing of "The A-Team" tomorrow after The Bass' lesson. It'll be another trip to Roppongi Hills.
Wednesday August 18, 5:22 p.m.

Well, it's been quite a contrast between two students. I had The Photog and The Overachiever for my first official lessons with them. The Photog is an extremely low student (he makes the juku boss sound like a Rhodes Scholar) who seemingly treats proper syntax as an option whether than a rule, but has a lot of heart. Basically he was able to carry the conversation despite the self-destructive tendencies of his linguistic ability. On the other hand, The Overachiever is a very thoughtful young man with a good handle on his English and has ideas on reform in the dentistry industry. Both were very good classes in their own way.

My stomach is getting the grumblies but I think the time is just a bit too short for me to run out and grab something from the conbini; I'll probably just grab something from the kitchen before 001.

MB has asked whether I would be available anytime during the day and night for a movie since he's still off school for at least another week. I think I can squeeze him in on Friday afternoon since I have nothing between The Bass and the juku classes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wednesday August 18, 12:49 p.m.

I went through the 3rd album of the 5-pack series of The Manhattan Transfer. It is as you can see on the right. If the inaugural "The Manhattan Transfer" was about taking those first baby steps into jazz standards, doo-wop and disco, while "Mecca for Moderns" was about embracing their inner AOR, "Vocalese" was about the Transfer grabbing their entire jazz stylings via Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. The standout tracks are of course "Ray's Rockhouse" and "Blee Blop Blues" (I've always loved the video for the latter song; it was just the perfect matchup having the transfer take on the roles of "I Love Lucy"). However, I was also interested in what didn't get onto the compilation best hits releases. "That's Killer Joe" is definitely one of them. Basically, if a non-Transfer fan were to imagine what the prototypical Manhattan Transfer album was, it would be this one. Of course, since "Vocalese" was released in the 80s, all that vocal styling came with some synth support.
Wednesday August 18, 12:31 p.m.

Well, finally got those glasses I needed. I went to the nearest opticians to my place, just a few minutes away from the subway station. It's called Megane Suupaa...basically, the Glasses Supermarket. The chain has been on a sales campaign touting a change of frames for the low, low price of 12,600 yen...they even have tarento Tsutomu Sekine sporting a pair. Of course, for me, I needed new lenses as well as new frames so I paid about twice as much. There were just a couple of fellows in the place; one of them dutifully and kindly gave me the eye test, which was surprisingly not that much different from the ones I've taken back home in Toronto. Of course, the big difference was there were much more hiragana and katakana in the eye chart. Still, it was good that I have the language skills; an off-the-boat gaijin would've been lost at sea. My new specs will be ready in about a week.

My first visit to the juku in over a week was pretty normal. I just had the usual gang of Mr. White, The Milds and Mr. Nice Guy. The boss told me that she might have a couple of new students waiting in the wings once Mr. Nice Guy finishes his time with me at the end of the month. As for Mr. White, he and his family had gone to Seoul last week since he's the huge Koreaphile; I got a nice box of chocolate cookies as a souvenir.

As for everyone, the overarching topic was the massive heat wave engulfing the Kanto. Apparently, according to one of my Mixi friends, Chiba hit the big 38 degrees yesterday. That's pretty much a red alert. Not sure what's it's gonna be like today, but I'm happy that I'll be in the school all day today.

Got a foursome today. I've got that photog that the bossman has been teaching so far; very little English but plenty of heart apparently. Then I have that dentist who came in for his model lesson last week. He's quite a bit of an overachiever. Of course, 001 will be in for one of her last lessons on her current contract; not sure if she will renew again after 5 years with us. And I have Miss Sony to wrap up.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday August 16, 6:38 p.m.

Managed to spend most of my day in air-conditioned comfort except for one run to the conbini to grab some dinner. Yep, it's steamy out there. Miss London looked like how I felt when she came in.

Movie Buddy is back from Australia so he's already gotten to me about catching any upcoming flicks. I'm thinking about "Salt" or "The A-Team", not exactly top-of-the-line especially after having caught "Inception" twice but hey, it'll be good to hook up with the lad again.

Miss Genki should be here in about 20 minutes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monday August 16, 12:36 p.m.

Well, got that shopping lesson done with The Artist. Kinda crammed a lot of stuff into her pretty little head...hopefully, she'll be able to sift through everything and get through a typical shopping binge in Manhattan in one piece. In any case, I'm already feeling rather zonked. Lucky that I've got several hours to recover before Miss Genki comes in.

Recently, I've heard that former teen J-Pop phenom Hikaru Utada had announced a hiatus in her singing activity. Not really sure how the media reacted to the announcement since I haven't been watching morning wide shows recently, but I could imagine it went overboard. In fact, Utada sent out a second annoyed dispatch to calm everyone down. For me, it was no surprise; several years earlier, she had hinted that she could retire from singing and do something totally mundane such as work in a lab. Not really sure how the population has taken the news. Back at the turn of the century, she was pretty much the word on everyone's lips but throughout the first decade of the new century, her influence has kinda gone down since other stars such as Kumi Koda and AI have gone on the ascendant.

My listening activity last night consisted of tuning into the 2nd of the 5 albums I got of The Manhattan Transfer. Last night was 1981's "Mecca for Moderns", and the experience made for an interesting comparison with the eponymous debut album made 6 years earlier. 1975's "The Manhattan Transfer" had a bit more jazz standard mixed in with a couple of electric guitar funk. But "Mecca for Moderns" had a lot of that AOR/David Foster arrangement which was very popular in the early to mid 80s. "Smile Again" is representative of that sound. But two of the songs on the album struck me as rather bizarre and unsurprisingly have never made it onto any hits compilations. "Wanted: Dead or Alive" was just a weird Jamaican-influenced ditty quoting the various dictators present at the time while "Spies In The Night" was probably trying to recreate the TV theme-based hit that was the earlier "Twilight Zone" but failed with James Bond. Still, considering that up to now I'd only been familiar with their very top hits, hearing these unknown songs has been a revelation.
Monday August 16, 11:01 a.m.

The Artist is gonna be 10 minutes late so I have a bit of time to get my thoughts out. She'll be having her final class before she takes off for New York the day after tomorrow so she wants to have a lesson on shopping in The Big Apple.

Yesterday, I just went up to Akiba to see if the authorities actually did bring back hokoten. I got there at about 2 p.m. and sure enough, the traffic was still flowing on Chuo a broken promise there. But the Maids were out there in force and probably sweating a ton of saline in their uniforms. And there was some sort of anime event involving something called Black Rock Shooter. Had no idea what it was all about, but it apparently involves a bunch of women dressed in tight black outfits. There were a couple of real-life women dressed in costumes and sporting fake heavy military weaponry. As you do. In any case, I'll have photos later on.

My hunt for new glasses didn't end yesterday. I actually did go to that Washin opticians in Seiyu in Urayasu. Frankly speaking, I didn't get any sort of friendly greeting from the sales folks there although I was the only one browsing the frames; and the frames there struck me as being somewhat more expensive than I had been led to believe. So I decided to abort the mission until tomorrow. There is a Megane Mart near my station so I guess that discount shop will have to do.

It was nice to have a full weekend off. However, it is NOT nice to go through 36-degree weather like today. It is indeed a scorcher out there. As soon as I had walked my first steps outside of my apartment at the bleary-eyed time of 6:30 this morning, I was already feeling like a wet dishrag. It's a Donut Day here at Speedy's and ordinarily I would take advantage of the huge gap in time to enjoy The Big Sushi, but it would frankly be suicide to do anything more than breathe outside today. So I'll take advantage of the free air conditioning and Internet here at the school.

Anyways, The Artist has just arrived.