Friday, October 29, 2010

Saturday October 30, 2:32 p.m.

Although it is a rather fitting weather pattern out there considering we're on the cusp of Halloween, Typhoon 14 hasn't exactly laid on the winds...just a steady rain. I gather that may mean good news for commuting home.

I'm in the middle of a 4.5-hour holding pattern until The Businesswoman comes in. Miss Prissy was here earlier, having started the new text. Still plenty slow in delivery since she tries hard to be as accurate as possible. It's just been Ray and myself since La Fille, who's the usual Saturday person has to be away. I've been made aware at how peaceful it once was in our office with Ray back in the saddle, if temporarily. Miss Efficiency has made her complaints about the bossman quite loud and clear. I had forgotten at how quiet Ray was at handling situations.

In any case, my Donut Day continues.

Saturday October 30, 11:22 a.m.
One of those days that makes you want to stay in bed all day. Unfortunately, I'm here at Speedy's. Yup, Typhoon No. 14 is making its presence known in the Kanto. It's been raining up a storm (no pun intended) over the past several hours but it's yet to make landfall here...probably be another 5 hours before the winds start picking up. At about the same time, The Businesswoman will be having her lesson. Makes me wonder if she will indeed show up or perhaps cancel the lesson under the circumstances.
I made maximum use of my rare Friday night off by making dinner. I got those Hokkaido potatoes from Mrs. Tee last week. There was that attempt at making gratin several days ago; last night was mashed potatoes. Everything worked out for the most part but I didn't nuke the taters quite long enough, so there were some rather large not-so-mushy chunks despite all the mashing and the whipping that I'd inflicted via generous helpings of butter, milk and eggs. Still, I was happy to dive into the stuff along with some fried chicken for dinner. I still have half of the mashed potatoes remaining so I've decided to get some corned beef on the way home from work and perhaps I can create some hash.
Apparently, there has been some unwanted excitement on the War on Terrorism. I woke up this morning to turn on CNN, and I saw Wolf Blitzer and "The Situation Room" with the now-familiar black-and-yellow banner denoting "Breaking News" announcing about the discovery of some bomb packages from Yemen headed for a couple of Chicago synagogues. Strangely enough, President Obama was planning on going to his old stomping grounds at around the same time, although the authorities made it clear that Al Qaeda couldn't have known about his arrival.
As for Barack, he's got those midterm elections next Tuesday night. Most likely, he's gonna lose seats (the only variable is by how much). It just seems like far longer than 2 years ago when he was first elected to the Oval Office. By even the most optimistic of accounts, he hasn't come across as an amazing President, but then again the expectations on him were way overblown anyways. My main worry is that he ends up being an ineffectual Chief Executive and perhaps a better ex-President, like Jimmy Carter. Luckily, Wednesday will be a national holiday, Culture Day, so I will be seeing the results live on CNN.
As for right now, I've got a little over 4 hours to kill before The Businesswoman comes in.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Friday October 29, 3:03 p.m.

I've done my lessons for the day so I'm just basically decompressing until I go home in about half an hour. Miss London is currently manning the main desk while Miss Efficiency is off on an appointment. Miss Efficiency was aiming guns at the bossman once again for his various faults, at one point basically calling him as someone who may not be Presidential material. Not sure how this is gonna end.

I finally got my first sample of the iCon campaign at McDonalds by buying their German Sausage Chicken Burger. Well, kinda reminded me of that German Burger I got over at The Restauranteur's a few weeks ago; the only thing that was German was the layer of mustard lining the bottom bun. Otherwise, it was a slice of chicken on top of a Spam-like slice of meat. Hmm...not all that impressive.
Friday October 29, 9:42 a.m.

Fate indeed moves in strange ways. I came into Speedy's early this morning since I have The Photog at 10 a.m. The nearby vending machine ended up eating my coins since it wouldn't send down my drink so I entered the school in a fairly annoyed mood having to drink hot green tea with my bento breakfast. Then several minutes later, there was a chime at the security gate, and it turned out to be The Patent Attorney. I only see him on Thursdays but for some reason, he showed up despite that on the schedule, it lists him as cancelled since Speedy, who is the usual teacher for him on Fridays, has to take care of the new school which starts today.

Apparently, within a few minutes of entering, The Patent Attorney realized that he had forgotten that he had indeed cancelled his lesson, but since he came all this way, I just told him that if he'd like he could have a chat session with me for the hour. He, in turn, graciously told me that he would consider this to be a bona fide lesson and asked me to tell Speedy and Miss Efficiency to count it when payroll comes through again.

So, I lost 100 yen but I made another 3,500 yen.
Thursday October 28, 10:38 p.m.

Well, finished up with The Music Man. It's always good when I have a hook with a student. For The Music Man, it's naturally music...spoke somewhat on Chopin. And the same goes with Mrs. Thursday; in her case it's "NCIS".

I'm going home but I'm coming straight back tomorrow morning since I have The Photog for the first time in about a month. However, it'll just be him and The Shareholder before I go home for a rare Friday night off. Hopefully, things will be more peaceful after the catfight I witnessed today. Apparently, one of the combatants informed La Fille.
Thursday October 28, 7:44 p.m.

The Carolinan has just left. Currently, we have La Fille and Miss Schmooze left here while the bossman and the kids' school staffers are getting things underway for the official launch tomorrow. Apparently, Speedy won't be here for the next two days.

I've only got Mrs. Thursday and The Music Man left before I finish things off tonight. It's been a freezer of a day. I wouldn't even be surprised if I saw a few flakes before I reach home.
Thursday October 28, 4:45 p.m.

Looks like the Cold War has been resolved between Miss Efficiency and Miss Schmooze. Basically, it was indeed a clash of personalities and culture between the more Americanized, shoot-from-the-hip former and the more traditional more roundabout latter. I rather pointedly asked them if the fight has been concluded and they laughed it off as just something that needed to be vented. And to both ladies' credit, they got back to working together as easily as if the fight had never even existed. Hey, as long as they got it resolved without needing to get the bossman involved.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thursday October 28, 2:59 p.m.

I'm not sure if I'm listening in on a philosophical debate or just a very calm fight, but Ms. Schmooze and Ms. Efficiency seem to be having an intense discussion while I'm typing this. Though I'm glad that they haven't started throwing stuff at each other, it is obvious that there has been a major miscommunication or misunderstanding between the two. I'd gotten some faint signs of discord between the two some weeks ago but I hadn't been sure if it were merely a figment of my imagination. In any case, it's painfully obvious despite yakking at each other for the past half hour, they just don't seem to be making any progress of hitting middle ground...and at this moment, it seems like their argument is starting to intensify. I can't really understand completely about what they're fighting about, but it seems to be based on the ladies' areas of responsibility.

I'm kinda wondering if I should talk to the bossman about this later depends; if Efficiency and Schmooze can reach some understanding over the next several minutes, then I'll keep my mouth shut and just chalk it up to the inevitable clash of strong personalities. The problem is that I'm not particularly confident about the bossman's abilities to moderate any sort of conflict between staffers since he has that tendency to run off at the mouth far longer than he should.

In other news....

it has really started to cool down out there. Nakano-Sakaue has always been notorious for its wind tunnel effect but with the lower-than-average temps currently, the wind chill factor has made things pretty darn wintry. I met The New Yorker over in Shinjuku Starbucks. It looks like the lass will be heading over to Asahikawa, Hokkaido in a couple of weeks at the invitation of her new friend to observe the farm that she's working on. It'll be the New Yorker's first trip up to the northern prefecture so she's not looking forward to the cold temperatures. She's not too thrilled about how cold it's gotten here down in Tokyo so I hope she'll be OK.
Thursday October 28, 11:54 p.m.

I've gone through just three lessons, and already I'm feeling dead. Mind you, when you have Grandma Dynamite for 2 hours, the "Batteries Depleted" warning light does tend to click on. I'll really need that vitamin drink now. And I now have to head on out into the cold rainy weather to teach The New Yorker off in Shinjuku. And I'm not sure if I can secure a table, especially during lunch hour.

Thursday October 28, 8:22 a.m.

Yup, it's Halloween which means my annual viewing of the DVD on the left. I'm such a sucker for "Peanuts". The humor and pacing may be rather slow for the current generation of ADD-ridden kids but I still appreciate the work of Charles Schulz. And Vince Guaraldi is pretty much the 10th player on this baseball team...his music really sets the tone for the proceedings, which is why I tend to focus on the Big 3 of the "Peanuts" TV specials. I never could really get into the later specials, and I definitely will never see "Flashbeagle" ever again.

I've got a rash of early morning calls onto Tuesday. I like my work and my students, and believe me, you couldn't ask for a nicer bunch than The Patent Attorney, The Photog, Miss Prissy, Yajima and Cozy. But I would also appreciate a good long night's sleep. Mind you, my Friday work schedule ends at 2:30 p.m. so I can slip into bed early tomorrow night.

However, I have to focus on today since I've got another 7 hours' worth of lessons. The Patent Attorney is first up, followed by a double with Grandma Dynamite since she couldn't make it last Thursday, then it's out to Shinjuku to teach The New Yorker. Then, a few hours later, I've got her sister, The Carolinan, followed by Mrs. Thursday and The Music Man to wrap up. I never got the usual acknowledgements from The Sisters of State to my confirmation e-mail about their lessons...I wonder.
Wednesday October 27, 10:36 p.m.

It's getting late but La Fille and Miss Sussex are still burning the midnight oil here along with me and the bossman. They're going down to the wire in launching the kids' school on Friday. Earlier in the evening, La Fille consulted with me about creating tests for Japanese-language students. Apparently, she is majoring in education and will be joining the ranks of teachers. I gave her the best I got from 23 years of experience, but I still hope that she will become a good teacher anyways.

My lesson with Miss Sony went very well. It looks like when 001 does decide to leave the nest permanently, Sony will be the new Wednesday regular.

Anyways, time to go home.
Wednesday October 27, 6:53 p.m.

It is definitely feeling not just cooler out there, but actually colder. For the first time since the hell that was Summer 2010 ended, it felt chilly last night going home from the juku last night. I may have to consider bringing out the heater in the next few days if these temps keep up (or down). I'll definitely be swapping in the Winter clothes from the plastic hamper for the Summer stuff this weekend.

Up until 10 minutes ago, the outer office at Speedy's was abuzz with the 5 women staffers convening in pairs and other groupings on business...most likely on the new kids' school which should be launching tomorrow or Friday...provided the bossman has found a teacher. Being the lone wolf, I quietly had my dinner in the kitchen and then started up on the computer in the main lounge. I just have Miss Sony for my lone student today. Basically, I had the day off today so mid-morning, I went over to Akihabara and picked up Season 3 of "Get Smart" at Sale. Not cheap at 4,700 yen but it looks like I'll be collecting the entire set. Being able to see the first 3 seasons at a quick pace has enabled me to see how the series had evolved. The first 2 seasons showed Max and 99 as I had known them for decades but from Season 3, it looks like the producers and Don Adams were actually inserting some measure of drama, including Max's slow reciprocation of 99's feelings for him.

I've also been continuing with "The Accidental Billionaires"; yep, it's indeed a pageturner although I'm a bit uncomfortable with Mezrich's pseudo-documentary approach. Mark Zuckerberg may be slightly sociopathic but to have him arbitrarily fictionized in this manner makes me wonder if the author himself has also gone down to Zuckerberg's level in his ambition to get another bestseller on the market. It's all about the Benjamins, I guess.

I saw the last third of "The Score", the heist movie from about a decade ago starring three generations of Method thespians: Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro and Ed Norton. I always seem to just catch fragments of interesting movies. In any case, from what I did catch, I felt that the buildup seemed better than the final execution. DeNiro was DeNiro in Lone Wolf mode, Brando actually looked borderline sympathetic and pathetic, and Norton was the most Method-y with his bizarre Rain Man rendition. Frank Oz directed this noble failure, and it was notable for Brando's active disdain for the director referring to him as "Miss Piggy". Oz actually did play the famed Muppet, but it was obvious that Brando was not being affectionate.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday October 26, 7:10 p.m.

Last night, Speedy asked me about whether I still had any time during the day to spare for possibly a couple of more students, although I explained to him a few weeks ago that I wouldn't be able to give any more time during those daylight hours. I don't scorn him for asking...he has to follow up any lead. But I still had to turn him be honest, I kinda considered what he was asking but in the end I had to say no since I was still pretty adamant that I had to keep my space and time for my own business.

Speedy and I also talked on the fate of 001 whose contract will be finishing in two classes. He asked me what I thought about her chances of renewing yet again. I told him straight that I wasn't too optimistic even though the lass had mumbled "I'll renew" when I asked her in the last class earlier this month. She frankly didn't look too sincere or firm in her answer, and she has been stringing out her remaining lessons over months....something that she never did in her heyday. Frankly, she was never all that enthused with her current text and I don't think anyone should have to pay tons of cash for having chats about Arashi. Speedy seemed rather resigned to the fact that it may be time to say bye-bye to my very first student at the school.
Tuesday October 26, 6:48 p.m.

In the middle of the lull before The Milds come in for their lesson at 8. Just went over to the conbini to get the roast chicken pepperoncino spaghetti. Yup, with the Japanese love of pasta, convenience stores here have come up with so many different kinds of pasta that one can nuke, they really should have their own section. I went for the garlicky stuff today, so I'm hoping that the boss' coffee will nullify most of the smell and aftertaste...for The Milds' sake.

In the last few weeks, I've read a few books which all have a connection with one another in terms of theme. They all deal with success and the fascinating thing is that each book has its own different angle on the concept. The first book I read was "Making the Impossible Possible" by Bill Strickland which has this positive spin on achieving success...almost on a fantastical level. As I was reading about this man who came up from a poor neighbourhood in Pittsburgh to become a pottery master and then a miracle social activist with no business background to speak of, I just suddenly thought of Forrest Gump. Being a cynic, some of his advice just struck me as something that would only be applicable to himself and perhaps a few others like him. The majority of readers simply do not have the titanic reserves of gumption that he has. But power to the very least, readers may be inspired to improve themselves on some level.

"Making the Impossible Possible" came from the shelves of Speedy's classroom. The next book was borrowed from MB over at The Satyr's BBQ a week ago last Sunday. It was "Outliers", the latest pageturner by Malcolm Gladwell. I have read his other books such as "Blink", and I've always enjoyed how he has been able to turn concepts like advertising in such a way that we not only get new insight in how his target topic really works, but we also feel like geniuses for doing so. Gladwell's spin on success is analytical...a neutral charge when compared to the positive spin of Bill Strickland's magnum opus. Gladwell posits that timing and taking advantage of opportunities are the real arbiters of success behind folks like Bill Gates more than good ol' fashioned guts and luck. His theory rather depressed and educated me at the same time.

Then, comes the dark negative spin of Ben Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires -- The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal." I'm only halfway through the book, but I quickly found out why Mark Zuckerberg has refused to talk with Mezrich as well as shun the movie adaptation despite the good reviews. Frankly, the geek-turned-moneybags is, intentionally or not, as either a scheming social misfit or a sociopath. It didn't take long for Mezrich to start showing Zuckerberg in any but a positive light. Very interesting, as are the other two books.
Tuesday October 26, 5:32 p.m.

Well, I kinda was more of a Force-induced thing or a Terran hunch. Mr. White has dotakyan'ed for the 2nd week in a row. He called the juku boss just 20 minutes before his appearance was due here. Considering the gloomy weather out there, I couldn't be all that surprised by his absence. But the boss was quite contrite about the situation since I have basically arrived 4 hours before the remaining class with The Milds. I reassured her it's a sho ga nai sort of thing but suggested that she call him up next time to see if he can give a bit more notice.

However, I did use the time to get caught up on Mixi. Viva sent over another message...this time, on the open diary to see if some more potential foodies may be interested in a get-together next month. The two of us were thinking about Bubba Gump in the Tokyo Dome area. And I've also started a conversation with a fellow via the Christmas Songs community (yup, it exists and I'm on it....just so sentimental about the Holidays); apparently, according to his homepage, he's currently residing over Stateside. I wonder if he's out in Colorado or upstate New York.
Tuesday October 26, 4:18 p.m.

It's another gloomy day out there. With the cold and the rain, it almost makes me forget that a few short months ago, all of us were virtually begging for today's weather.

The Beehive took on a more serious tone as we came across the topic of capital punishment. The catalyst was when Mrs. Travel spoke on the lay judge system getting its first case in which the death penalty is on the table for a murderer who had gone berserk and killed a daughter and mother several months ago. The Hive was all for the ultimate penalty, citing that current justice seems to favor the defendant's rights over those of the victim's family. There was no real resolution but I did glean some interesting insight. The ladies mentioned about that fat toad, Shoko Asahara, the former guru of apocalyptic cult Aum Shinrikyo, who has been sentenced to death but has yet to be executed. There have been rumors that Asahara is being kept alive since the authorities are worried that his death could spark revenge attacks by what remains of the cult. I'm not so sure about that, but it is interesting to note that three of the instigators of the sarin gas attacks have been at large for 15 years. Perhaps the government is worried that they're in hiding and plotting.

Anyways, it's another Tuesday night at the juku. The boss' friend has done up the classroom into Halloween mode for the kids as usual. There won't be any pumpkin carving this year by me since I have noone to do it for. Sugar N' Spice were the only potential students but they cleared out of my realm long ago.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday October 25, 9:10 p.m.

Well, it looks like The Medicine Man did me yet another one of his favors and dotakyan'ed with 90 minutes to spare. So, I'm the only one in the school right now although there's a chance that the bossman may return. Miss Genki was her usual chatty self. There was quite a buzz of activity in the school up to a few hours ago since we had Miss London, Miss Efficiency, Miss Schmooze, The Babydoll and the bossman talking and typing away at stuff. But now it's quiet as the proverbial church mouse.

For some reason, I got two requests for friendship, some two days after meeting Viva for the first time in person. One is a Korean-Japanese who wanted to make friends since I'm from Toronto and yet another simply interested in talking about film. Not sure how she found out about that interest, although she may have seen me in that defunct Old Films category in Mixi.

I've been enjoying "Collected", one of the best compilations for Steely Dan. I've been slowly going through the various tunes from the 70s. I especially like the stuff from "Aja" such as "Peg".

Since I had quite the donut hole in my schedule between Cozy and Miss Genki, I ended up going home and by chance, I was able to catch the Sunday night NFL game between The Packers and The Vikings. For some reason, I seem to have the ability to catch exciting football games even though I'm not really a fan of the sport. Today's game was indeed one of those.

Anyways, I'll be heading home almost 90 minutes ahead of schedule. This week will actually be not too usual Tuesday followed by a Wednesday that only has me teaching Miss Sony at 8:3o in the evening. Thursday will be fairly hellish, though. But Friday only has me teaching just a couple of Speedy lessons earlier in the day and no juku classes.
Monday October 25, 5:05 p.m.

On Saturday, after finishing up my two lessons with Miss Prissy and The Intellectual over at Speedy's, I finally got to meet Ms. Vivacious at JR Shinjuku for dinner. It was kinda odd meeting someone in the flesh that one has been friends with via the Internet for several months, but there we in green (jacket) and she in pink (raincoat).

We had dinner at Foo Foo as promised. I'm very happy to say that she did enjoy the pai ko tan tan men with beer. Our live conversation went surprisingly well...almost as if had been meeting face-to-face during those months. The two of us spent a couple of hours over at my favorite ramen restaurant, a first for me since even with group outings with MB, The Satyr and Skippy, 90 minutes was pretty much the max. I was a gentleman...paid for dinner.

Then, after a bit of walk around hotel-laden West Shinjuku, we settled for dessert at the ground floor restaurant in the Hyatt Regency called Caffe. It wasn't exactly pear compote cost 1200 yen but Viva covered that cost. It was over there that there was a bit of dark talk about her. She's been divorced about 5 years from someone who kinda fills my definition of a monster but somehow her two adult daughters seemed to have survived to become well-adjusted members of society.

Still, it was a good first meeting between us. And I told her that it would be good if we could conduct further dinner outings in the future...perhaps with a few more Mixi buddies. I just gained one friend recently who found me via the 80s Canadian Pop community (yes, such a community does indeed exist...anyone who loves The Parachute Club, Luba and Rough Trade are more than welcome to join us...provided they type fluent Japanese) and lives in my Ichikawa....he can be one candidate to join our nascent Mixi foodie club.

Ms. Vivacious has come across as a good buddy...I don't think she would fit in as a romantic partner since I've pretty much decided on living a solitary life but I think her somewhat atypical personality (reminds me a bit of a mix between Skippy and the juku boss) would fit in as a good drinking (and eating) friend.

Monday October 25, 4:56 p.m.
Yep, saw this testerone-filled version of "Ocean's 11" yesterday with Movie Buddy over at Shinjuku Picadilly. It had gotten middling to downright terrible reviews (Don Morton of METROPOLIS even said without the A-list cast, it wouldn't even have rated "straight-to-DVD").
Yup, I gotta say that neither of us went in with particularly high expectations for this Sly Stallone flick. And sure enough, it didn't really deliver an overall great impression but there was plenty of action. Some 80s stars, some extreme sports stars, a lot of CG gore, a lot of terse cardboard acting and plot holes that one can drive The A-Team van through. Still, considering that both of us managed to survive "Sweeney Todd" and "Clash of the Titans", it wasn't too, too bad. And at least, we did get to see Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger chewing scenery together.