Friday, November 12, 2010

Saturday November 13, 2:33 p.m.

Well, I'm officially done for today. The Publicity Assistant came back into the fold as it were for the first time in 2 months. She was 15 minutes late since she had made a wrong assumption about the class time and she looked exhausted. Looks like she's been burning the midnight oil getting ready for Russell Crowe's arrival on these shores to promote "Robin Hood". Yep, I realize that the DVD of the middling movie has already come out in the Americas, but this is Japan...a place where movies can occasionally take as much as a year to get over.

At the same time, she gave me some dirt on the upcoming live action version of "Star Blazers", aka "Space Cruiser Yamato". It was hardly a ringing endorsement but she related to me that the movie, due out here from December 1, doesn't stink. That's actually a grade up from what I'd been fearing...that the movie would be the sci-fi-anime equivalent of "Heaven's Gate". She told me that there is some resemblance to the new "Battlestar Galactica"...seeing the trailer, the battle scenes are very reminiscent of Cylons vs. Colonial Vipers. Basically, the star of the movie, Takuya Kimura is pretty much acting like Takuya Kimura (kinda like Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise in every movie)...i.e. angry, snarly, semi-young man. But that could actually work for him, since the character of Kodai-kun is pretty much that. The Publicity Assistant also related that the romance between him and Yuki Mori, played by actress Meisa Kuroki doesn't exactly inspire. The two of us also shrugged our shoulders about the news that Steven Tyler of Aerosmith will be singing the image song for the movie. Perhaps the suddenly late creator of the series, Yoshinobu Nishizaki, will be rolling in his urn a lot sooner than expected.

Doesn't stink, eh? Well, maybe I will give it a try.

The Intellectual came in and we had a good talk on the current status of social networking sites. He's become a tweeter but also has an account with Mixi, so I've contacted his homepage in the hopes that he'll become a "friend".

Mom contacted me last night to give the particulars on when and what Bullet Train they'll be coming back to Tokyo on. Dad had stated some interest in trying out a kaiten sushi place. I'd thought about taking them to Sushi Zanmai on top of the Akiba Yodobashi Camera building in Akihabara, but they'll probably be lugging some heavy luggage with them, so I was looking whether a kaiten existed somewhere around Tokyo Station. I may have found one via Internet; it's one of the Genki Sushi chain and it's somewhere in the Yaesu underground mall. I was thinking about checking it out after I get out of here, but I think I'll probably head there tomorrow on the way to teach The Jyuppies since Otemachi Station is not only where I transfer for the train toward Futako-Tamagawa but also smack-dab beside Tokyo Station. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

In any case, I'm heading home very shortly to enjoy a valued night at home and to listen to some Seiko.
Saturday November 13, 11:21 a.m.

We've got a crew of 4 today at Speedy's: myself, Ray, Babydoll and one of the new teachers from the kids' school. But all of us are of the quiet persuasion so the school feels like a library right now. The bossman had come in before Ray arrived but he's out on some sort of errand.

Miss Prissy came in for what was one of her final times with me since I'll be taken off Saturdays in the New Year. I'm gonna have to tell her the bad news at her next class.

The Publicity Agent will be coming in for the first time in a couple of months. I'm sure she'll have lots to say about her job. Maybe she has something for me concerning the upcoming "Yamato" movie.
Friday November 12, 8:25 p.m.

It was sure nice to be back at home...even if it was for just an hour...while the sun was still out. I got back to my apartment at about 4 p.m. and was able to do some laundry which had been piling up in the machine.

Then, I got over to The Restauranteur's place for a nice meal of Beef Stroganoff. It ain't cheap but it is good. The restaurant was fairly busy tonight; I was rather accustomed to eating all by myself in the place but just about all the tables were filled.

Looks like I got my first diss on Mixi...and it was from my former student, Spice, of Sugar N' Spice. Apparently, she actually did enjoy The German Sausage Burger, the second entry in the iCon Chicken campaign at McDonalds. No accounting for taste, evidently. But the diss was half in jest, but my opinion still holds. I kinda half-jokingly challenged her to try the final Carbonara Chicken Burger and if she likes it, I'll give it a whirl.

The juku boss gave me a bit of a she tends to do suggesting that a 19-year-old acquaintance of hers could sub for me and The Iranian while we are away over the Holidays. I kinda laughed it off and explained to the boss how unlikely that would be. Apparently, The Iranian didn't take it as well and kinda gave the boss an earful. I'm not trying to be ageist here but it's awfully hard for me to believe that a kid who hasn't even gone to her Adulthood Day ceremonies can be taken seriously as a sub teacher for folks like Mr. White and The Milds. I mildly suggested to the boss that I should at least have some sort of e-mail communication with her to find out what she's like (who knows? she may be a genius). But I've got a feeling that it'll just be an opportunity for my students to have some free talk with a non-teaching native.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Friday November 12, 12:11 p.m.
Yup, I took a bite out of the third entry in the mysteriously-named iCon Chicken Burger campaign at The Golden Arches this Fall. This was the Diavolo, which sounds as if it should be describing a prototype Toyota instead of something edible. I have a feeling that McDonalds Marketing in Japan must've phonetically transferred from the Spanish word for "devil", due to the supposedly spicy BBQ sauce. I wasn't particularly impressed by the second entry, the German Sausage Burger since it seemed to have been so named merely for the thin layer of mustard on the bottom bun. And I wasn't going anywhere near the first Cheese Fondue. Well, my impression of the Diavolo is that the sauce coating the chicken did indeed have heat but had very little taste. It was like watching "Star Wars" with the sound off. So I couldn't really give this burger the thumbs up. The fourth and last entry is the Carbonara...yep, named after the artery-busting pasta dish, and once again, it looks like I'll give that one a pass.
I had The Photog, and true to form, he had to beg off the regular lesson since he hadn't reviewed nor done his homework due to the rigors of his job. So, it was very much a stream-of-consciousness Dadaist flow of words from him. At one point, he spurted (and I apologize for the choice of verb, as you will soon know why) the word "masturbation" a few times. He was just referring to the fact that simply setting up a photographic scene for shooting satisfaction (oops, sorry there too) was frankly self-serving. Still, I could feel my ears glowing red and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. Luckily, the staff outside either didn't hear or gracefully have deigned not to sass me about it. In any case, he'll be out of the way for the next several days since he will have quite a few places to visit domestically.
We've got a full house today, since Miss Sussex, Miss Revlon, Miss Schmooze and one of the new kids' teachers are all in the office today. There was another flash of anger/frustration from Miss Efficiency at the bossman at how prospective clients can't seem to find the new school. I'm sure there will be a lot of that sort of tone in the sales meeting today but right after I'm done with The Shareholder at 2:30, I'm heading home.
Tomorrow's classes have been shaved by one. The Businesswoman had to cancel and she was supposed to have been the final lesson. So, I'll be done by around 2.
Friday November 12, 9:52 a.m.

The main guys are here. Speedy came in with The Patent Attorney about 90 minutes ago while Miss Efficiency just arrived. Looks like they along with Miss London and Miss Schmooze will be having a sales meeting of sorts later this afternoon. Luckily, I'll be long gone from this area. The four have seen their share of interpersonal conflicts over the weeks.
Friday November 12, 8:07 a.m.

3rd day in a row that I've been getting up earlier than the sun itself. Ugh! Today, it's for the Photog. I checked with the bossman about his progress...there isn't much but he's a happy guy.

Yesterday was a long one for me since that assignment from The Croatian filled up that huge schedule hole quite nicely. I was pretty much on fumes with The Music Man but still kept it entertaining for him. Also, there was the weekly gripe session by Miss Efficiency concerning the bossman. This time, her audience was her predecessor, Ray, who's been in as support staff. It's almost as if she's never left. Ironically, Speedy may need her more than ever from next week since Miss London will be leaving the roost for good after next Monday, and Miss Efficiency herself will be off on a week's vacation in Las Vegas. Strangely enough, Ray touched back on that proposal I'd made months ago concerning having a staff dinner at Tony Roma's. I gather, though, that the bossman will not be kept in the loop about this. I've sent word to La Fille who's currently on some sort of assignment in China. They're gonna have to hurry since my social calendar inside and outside of Japan is filling up.

And Speedy reminded me about the annual Xmas party...ugh! I've never been a fan of the Speedy Xmas party. It's always struck me as being one big other words, overtime work. I like the students fine but since all of our students are man-to-man, whenever there is a big meeting of them, there's always an air of tension (at least to me) since I'm sure a lot of them are reluctant to reveal their speaking abilities to everyone else. Frankly, I think I'm just gonna say to the bossman that I'll be opting out. I don't have to be at any Xmas party if I don't want to. The bossman will probably start sulking as he usually does when he gets bad news from me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thursday November 11, 12:18 p.m.

Looks like I've found a new favorite bento from that really cheap bento-ya underneath Harmony Tower. I've had the Keema Curry box lunch set for the secone time in a row. In all my years of Indian cuisine and Mom's homemade curry, I'd never had Keema Curry until I came to this country, ironically enough. But that ground meat instead of beef chunks mixed in with the sauce really does the trick. Plus, it doesn't hurt that chicken fritters are thrown in.

I've been fighting a rather nasty post-nasal drip this morning, although the medicine finally decided to kick in. Unfortunately, The Patent Attorney and Grandma Dynamite had to face me grabbing tissue every few minutes.

Not unexpectedly, I got a call from the juku boss that The Journo has once again cancelled his lesson for tomorrow. However, that will mean that I can get home a bit early and get some much needed laundry done before I have dinner over at The Restauranteur's.

Even Ol' Sam called me and left a message asking about my availability for the Holidays. Looks like my December social calendar will be filling up pretty soon. The Anime King and The Dancer have already put in bids for my presence.
Thursday November 11, 7:58 a.m.

Tis Remembrance Day in many countries of the old Commonwealth. It's time to give tribute to all those warriors who had fought and/or gave the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.

Of course, over here it's just a regular day. And another early one...I was once again up at the crack of dawn to start another long Thursday here at Speedy's. Mind you, it is a Donut Day. I've got a huge hole in the schedule between Grandma Dynamite and The Carolinan. Regular readers can probably figure out how many hours I'll have in the holding pattern. Still, a lot of that will be filled with proofreading of The Croatian's latest essay and prepping for The Journo's next 2-hour lesson tomorrow.

Saw Tim Burton's "Batman" last weekend. Comparisons are inevitable between the 1989 Burtonized vision of The Dark Knight and this century's more down-to-earth take by Chris Nolan. A lot of folks pooh-poohed the former version once "The Dark Knight" came out, even criticizing Jack Nicholson's Joker as being a bit too slapstick, although one reviewer of a notable film magazine recently came in defense of him and Burton. Although I think there were problems with "Batman", it still holds up fairly well.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Wednesday November 10, 3:22 p.m.

This is the first in four early wake-up call days in a row so I'm probably gonna end up in a fairly feisty mood by the weekend.

Today started with Cozy. Since my parents were at my place on Monday, I shunted his lesson to early today. He was a bit more subdued than usual but he still got the job done. Then I went off to Shinjuku to waste some time before Mr. Swank's lesson earlier this afternoon. I ended up browsing over at Kinokuniya before splurging at Tower Records for a couple of old kayo kyoku CDs by Seiko Matsuda and Yumi Matsutoya. I haven't heard much from either of them recently but at their age, I think they have earned the right to make themselves a bit scarce. The one I got for Seiko is her 1981 release of "Kaze Tachinu", one of her classic discs. Yuming's disc is an even earlier release called "The 14th Moon" (may have been looking at the planet Jupiter at the time of titling), when she was still known by her maiden name of Yumi Arai. The reason I got that particular one was for one track "Sazanami", one of her great Autumn songs.

I had lunch at a place called Rie Cafe in what can be called a no-man's land between the basement of the Tokyo Hilton in Tokyo and the entrance to the Toei Oedo Line's Tochomae Station. So basically the main customers are the salaried types working in the immediate vicinity. I'd passed by the place many times before after I had finished teaching Mr. Swank so finally I bit the bait and decided to have something there. Not exactly the most charismatic of places in terms of ambience but they had a pretty good Hayashi Rice set. Pretty much the lunch hour seems to be the only busy time for Rie Cafe, and even then, that one lineup dissipated quickly since most of the customers were taking out.

Mr. Swank was chatty as usual. And I got quite the loaner from him via several DVD sets of "CSI: Miami" since I'd lent him Season One of "Get Smart". I'll have to get some measure of "revenge" on him by lending him the next two seasons of Don Adams' magnum opus and my Time Travel set of "Star Trek" episodes.

The Overachiever, as I mentioned, cancelled his lesson today. So I have 001 (for her penultimate lesson...Ms. Efficiency will be checking whether or not 001 will be renewing...I'm still doubtful) and then Miss Sony.
Tuesday November 9, 6:47 p.m.

Some normalcy has returned to my life. Not that I regretted having my parents over for about 2 days here. It was nice having people to welcome me home. I very rarely have that opportunity anymore since I'm a confirmed bachelor. However, my folks have gone off to Osaka for the next week to see the relations out there.

It was a smaller lineup for The Beehive today. It was just Mrs. Alp and Mrs. Jade...luckily, Mrs. Alp called up Mrs. Travel to remind her that it was a class day today. Rather atypically, Travel had forgotten about our class.

The next item has to go down as this year's case of tragic irony. The creator of Space Cruiser Yamato, Yoshinobu Nishizaki, was killed when he fell off a ship on Sunday. For anyone, falling off a ship isn't exactly a light injury, but Nishizaki was 75 years old. The ironic part is that his magnum opus (and let's be clear....this series is one of the most beloved sagas in all of anime) will be seeing live action release for the very first time in less than a month. A lot of people think that Reiji Matsumoto was the force behind Yamato but he was actually the lead animator for the various TV series and movies; Nishizaki was the original manga artist.

I had Mr. White today. He was definitely in his shaky mode today. I had to get him a glass of water to soothe his nerves but luckily he was pretty much OK by the time his lesson ended 45 minutes later. I've got The Milds in about another hour; I'm planning to talk with them about the concert on Saturday.

Miss Efficiency called me up today to say that The Overachiever has cancelled his lesson for tomorrow afternoon. She also told me that she hadn't been informed of the fact that I would be absent next Wednesday since I'll be picking up Mom and Dad at Tokyo Station since that was the day she was assuming that I would be teaching him next. So I'm assuming that she'll be having words with the bossman.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Monday November 8, 9:22 p.m.

Well, the parents are in town. I picked them up at Narita yesterday afternoon. According to them, the lineups at Customs were unbelievable...I guess due to it being a Sunday and perhaps even because of the APEC Summit in Yokohama. In any guess, we decided to take a taxi back home. It wasn't exactly a cheap ride but all three of us were grateful for a comfy 40-minute trip that would've taken over an hour by train and involved some walking up and down stairs.

Their arrival was pretty timely since all three of us could watch the final game of the 2010 Japan Baseball season....and it turned out that my local team, The Chiba Lotte Marines got their 2nd title in 5 years after two nailbiting games of ties. The incredible thing was that the second-last game was just left as a tie...there would've been major riots if this had been the case in The World Series...noone likes a tie over there. And last night's game looked to be heading in that direction, but finally The Marines got a run in to finish things up.

It was a regular work day. I was able to shift Cozy's lesson to early Wednesday but I still met Swank in Roppongi. It had been a month since her last lesson...she's been busy with her own work as an interpreter in the Tokyo justice system. Still, after the lesson, I was able to rush home to have a few hours with the parentals over lunch before coming over here to Speedy's to have Miss Genki. Not surprisingly, The Medicine Man pulled another dotakyan with just minutes before his lesson, so I'm planning to head home early.

My folks will be heading off to Osaka from tomorrow for the next week to see the relatives over there. I was busy re-scheduling their hotel reservations; luckily, there wasn't a problem with that.