Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday November 27, 5:06 p.m.

I'm still here at the school. Speedy informed me a few hours ago that if I were to stay over until about 5 p.m., he could take me over to the new school. I have to admit that my curiosity is piqued. I should be leaving within the next few minutes.

I was helping out someone on one of the myriad English-language communities in Mixi when she may have gotten a bit of a chewout from some fellow for a misspelled word. She had typed "appeare" when she obviously wanted to type "appeared". She apologized and then the guy tried to explain himself a bit more clearly but he still came across as being a bit of a curmudgeon. I chekced his page out. He's allegedly 49 years old. Not sure where these guys come from...maybe they're throwbacks from the more militant sections of Channel 2. I've had one similar incident myself with one grouchy fellow....I guess these people just like to have a bit of psychotic fun.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Saturday November 27, 1:36 p.m.

Well, I told my soon-to-be former Saturday students about my status from January. Fortunately, Miss Prissy took things pretty well. She'd been the one student that I'd been most worried about in terms of reaction, but she understood and just asked me what my availability would be like on weeknights. As for The Publicity Agent, she was downright noncommittal so I gather that it's a good thing.

La Fille is out getting some lunch so I'm minding the store. However, once she gets back, I'll have my own lunch and then start getting ready to head on home.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day. South Korea and the U.S. will be holding a joint military exercise in approximately the same area which triggered Tuesday's shelling by North Korea. Things are pretty tense in East Asia right now, but the experts are saying that the attack was more for internal consumption within the Kingdom of Kim rather than as a threat against the rest of the world. Well, I'll be out with Skippy and the bunch tomorrow for "Harry Potter" so if something escalates, I'm sure we'll find out very quickly.
Saturday November 27, 10:20 a.m.

Actually, found out from the juku boss last night that a former student will be returning to the fold as it were. The Ace had struck out on his own after leaving his food chemical company back in the Spring and has been learning the tricks of the trade of helping the elderly at school for the past several months. Well, apparently, he's secured some form of employment in his new field nearby his apartment which means that he will be coming back for lessons at the juku from next Spring. He'll be popping by next Tuesday to give greetings.

Ironic, isn't it? Today I'll be giving my official two-week warning to Miss Prissy and The Publicity Assistant that I will be leaving them and my Saturday shift in January.

Saturday November 27, 10:04 a.m.
Well, the hype surrounding this movie has slowly been building up for about a year...the proper length of time, it would seem, to refit a sunken WWII Japanese battleship into a sleek starship with a hell of a gun...and the conbini have been hawking the goods for several weeks now. Finally, the media is probably going into overdrive, last night's "Our Music", Fuji-TV's Friday night music program, had the two stars basically hawking about the movie, and I just saw the first review from "The Japan Times" online. Yep, in less than a week, "Space Cruiser Yamato" will be landing in Japan. Cue the theme song: "Saraba, chikyuu yo..."
"The Japan Times" was actually quite kind to the latest Takuya Kimura flick, although I don't think KimuTaku has ever been in a project like this. But I think his Susumu Kodai is probably quite well-suited for "Yamato": he usually plays the same type of character...angry, rebellious and heroic for every movie, and Kodai was exactly that in the manga and anime. Anyways, Mark Schilling basically said the movie was an FX-laden barnstormer of a sci-fi epic which blares the message of environmentalism and patriotism. I can just hear the brass blaring out the theme.
As I said, I did catch some minutes of "Our Music" with Takuya and his romantic co-star, years-younger Meisa Kuroki, as a far-more kick-ass Yuki Mori (no Gwyneth Paltrow-like sylph for this movie) who is actually the leader of the Black Tigers, the shipboard air wing, and not Saburo Kato. I couldn't rely on the light banter between the two to gain any insight on how the onscreen chemistry will go between the two characters, but The Publicity Assistant did say that it was just an inert gas.
Yup, I'll be seeing if I can see the pic on December 1st. But most likely, just about every Yamato maniac will probably be inhabiting every theatre on Wednesday. Still, even if I can't get in, at least I can witness the hoopla.
Friday November 26, 8:45 p.m.

Had my 2-hour session with The Journo. Yup, still in fine fettle, and this time we were able to get through 2 different exercises. Looks like his time with Taylor Swift went well; the country star had 60,000 yen worth of bling bought for her by the studio apparently, though.

I've just got the juku boss and then The Restauranteur to finish up tonight. Then, I've got my Saturday students. I have the rather unenviable task of informing Miss Prissy and The Publicity Assistant that I will be leaving them from January. Not sure how Prissy is gonna react.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday November 26, 3:20 p.m.

Finished with The Shareholder. He was his usual laconic self....takes a few minutes to come up with answers.

The medicine has taken some effect but I'm still sniffling although a lot of the drip has been stopped. Not sure how long my luck or my nose will hold. In any case, I will be taking off for the juku in the next few minutes.

Friday November 26, 11:30 a.m.
Just took a quick walk over to the bento-ya under McDonalds for my weekly 500-yen lunch. There's nothing like a short walk in the cool air to relieve my sinuses, if temporarily. My nose is starting to fill up a gas tank again. No keema curry lunch but I did get a pork-and-green pepper set up which looks pretty good. Over here, it's known as jinja-rosu and is a staple in the Chinese restaurants.
Above is the picture of the comely young Taylor Swift. Seems like she's having a bad week. Not only has Kanye West gone Hyde on her once again, but I just read a headline openly wondering if she's Just goes to show that as soon as the public builds someone up, they are just as willing to tear them down. I wonder if The Journo kinda went shark on her last Saturday as he illustrated in his role-play in my class last Friday. Country music isn't exactly a household word in Japan, but she has done gigs here in Tokyo. My impression is that her beauty has more of a pull with folks here than her music. It'll be interesting talking with The Journo tonight. I haven't gotten any messages from the juku boss so it looks like he'll finally break the curse of dotakyan and come for an unprecedented second week in a row.
Friday November 26, 10:18 a.m.

Well, apparently, the powers-that-be have once again shown their sardonic sense of humour. Speedy checked the school e-mail and got a message from The Photog that he wouldn't be able to come due to a cold. So, I was spared the hour of stream-of-consciousness but I also realize that I sacrificed a lot of sleep for nothing. Still, since I'm suffering from an allergy attack or a belated hay fever, I'm rather grateful that I can just noodle around the Net until The Shareholder comes by in a few hours. The bossman gave me some Vitamin C pills but it feels like the meds have started to kick in.

A few days ago, I'd bought "The Marvel Encyclopedia" as the companion to "The DC Encyclopedia". It's just the one tome and it's very glossy and filled with scads of pictures. But I have to say that I've been rather disappointed with the comparatively brief write-ups on the characters, even the major ones such as Cyclops and The Hulk. And I've come across a number of typos and one major faux pas for one of the minor characters. I realize that there are spatial limits to how much text and graphics one can fit into a large book, but in that case, I would've been more than happy to have the encyclopedia come out in multiple volumes rather than the one. And over 20 years ago, there was indeed a less glossier version of such an encyclopedia over several books which I still have stored away back home in Toronto. Strangely enough, Wikipedia seems to be the better choice of a truly comprehensive update on all of the characters..and it's free.

....which is what I did with The X-Men. It's kinda like "24"...once you miss one episode, you might as well give up on keeping up. I stopped collecting the books over a decade ago since the prices are prohibitively expensive...probably around the time before "The Age of Apocalypse". And since then, it's been mindboggling as to what has happened to the characters. Scott Summers is now with Emma Frost, not Jean Grey, Jubilee is apparently a vampire, Nightcrawler and Cable are dead, and Wolverine has just been bitten by Jubilee. But again, knowing the soap operatic nature of the mutants, they'll all come back healthy and alive as usual.
Friday November 26, 9:21 a.m.

Back at the school again. Ended up oversleeping half an hour which for most people would mean I underslept by merely an hour. Still, got my self together and out the door in 10 minutes. The tea and apple-cinnamon roll from Vie Du France helped perk me up.

I've got The Photog in about 35 minutes. Last time he was here, he seemed rather stressed out from the rigors of his job and just couldn't touch the homework or any form of English study; didn't make the lesson any easier with his stream-of-consciousness inability to handle any sort of language outside of his native one. I'm just worried that he may do the same thing again today. I didn't wake up with a mere 5 hours of sleep to come to this sort of class. Then, I've got a few hours before The Shareholder comes by for his one hour. He's also not the easiest guy to rouse since he gives taciturnity a good name.

Fortunately, though, I don't have Mr. Swank today so I can make my way to the juku somewhat more leisurely before The Journo's double lesson. He's a good talker and I've got my stuff ready for him, but he's also the type that I have to be on my guard for. I kinda wonder how his interview with Taylor Swift went last week. Apparently, her arch nemesis, Kanye West, did a double back and started dissing her and George W. Bush. This, after he had apparently asked for forgiveness...and gotten it...from the young country star. I think an especially tight jacket with extra straps may be his Xmas gift this year.
Thursday November 25, 10:33 p.m.

And thus another long Thursday comes to a close. The Music Man and I had an illuminating session, finishing off about the geisha culture in Kyoto. He actually had the opportunity to see an actual performance in an ochaya some years back.

It's raining steadily out there. No way I can bring back the calendars home with me right now in a paper bag. Just hope that this is just a 12-hour thing.

I've got The Photog tomorrow morning. Not sure what he's gonna be like. He was completely out of it last time due to the rigors of his work. Then, I've got The Shareholder before the juku lessons start up with, I assume, The Journo. He's never done consecutive weeks of lessons but I've yet to get a cancellation notice from him via the juku boss this week.
Thursday November 25, 7:49 p.m.

Looks like I've entered the 3700s. Maybe by Spring, I will have reached the big 4,000.

I did some more preliminary Xmas shopping by getting some calendars over at Kinokuniya at Shinjuku Times Square. When I got back, La Fille had come in and the three of us (including Ms. Efficiency) rather got into a spree of playing "Name That Tune" with the help of YouTube. It was painfully evident that there was a generation gap between La Fille and the two of us. Efficiency and I had a grand old time reliving disco songs and 80s New Wave while La Fille had that deer-in-headlights look. Then again, La Fille is 2 decades my junior.

The Carolinan came in and we were able to make maximum use of the remaining two pages of the latest chapter...which was great since I'd forgotten to make a copy of the next chapter for her. I did inform her of the probable move around the corner.

Anyways, I've got dinner waiting for me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thursday November 25, 12:54 p.m.

I'm in the middle of my donut...not the culinary type but the temporal kind. Yep, it's another Thursday Donut Day where I have several hours of nothing between lessons. The Carolinan just confirmed that she'll be coming by later tonight.

My double with Grandma Dynamite went pretty swimmingly. Those 2 hours were my last ones with the lady for this year since she told me that she'll be unavailable for December. She even told me that she'd met up with Grandma FON; FON has been AWOL for the past few months but says that she may show up from January once more. In any case, Dynamite will not be making it for the Xmas party next Saturday which gives me an additional reason not to come.

I've taken a few glimpses of what seems to be a future classic episode from "The Sarah Jane Chronicles". It's "The Death of the Doctor" with old companions Sarah Jane Smith and her immediate predecessor, Jo Grant. Even without sound, Matt Smith as Doctor No. 11 looks as if he has definitely grabbed the mantle from David Tennant. I really do have to get that DVD set for Series Five of "Doctor Who" when I get back to Toronto.

Looks like Mr. TOEFL has been enjoying the culinary fruits of Toronto over the past few weeks. He's been to mine and The Entrepreneur's old haunt of Kom Jug Yuen on Spadina, and he's just been to Mr. Greek on The Danforth. I've informed him of the dessert wonders at Demetre's.

I should be heading on out for some preliminary Xmas shopping in about half an hour since I've got so much free time. But first I ought to take a look at what I will have to teach over the next couple of days.

Thursday November 25, 8:49 a.m.
Can't believe that it's just a month before Xmas. Ah, the picture to the right of me? It's one of the more iconic buildings in Shibuya. I think it's the HUMAX building, although it looks a lot like something an S&M fetishist would live in.
I sent out a parcel of some of the clothes that Mom couldn't take with her back home at the regional post office. At the same time, I had them stop my mail during my time back home. Very easy process...just let them know and you fill out a form with the necessary information. The post office will hold your mail for a maximum of 1 month. And I was a bit surprised to get an acknowledgement letter from them just several hours later in my mailbox.
I have Grandma Dynamite for a double today. May need to drink that extra cup of tea. Then I've got the donut hole before The Carolinan shows up and then it's just The Music Man. I'm gonna have to let The Carolinan know about the big move next year to the new facilities. Most likely, I'll have to meet her at the station and escort her in.
Wednesday November 24, 10:05 p.m.

Pretty easy night since I only had The German and then Miss Sony. The German and I once again didn't touch one page of the text and ended up chatting on Part 1 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" since she had caught it over the weekend. She was somewhat nonplussed by the visual experience since she had read the books previously...and it seems like the books will always be better than the films. Not particularly good news for people like Skippy and myself who are planning to catch it this weekend. Afterwards, The German and I got onto the topic of the oeuvre of Clint Eastwood all the way from his days as The Man With No Name through Dirty Harry and as far as "In The Line of Fire".

As for Miss Sony, we didn't reach quite the conversational heights but it was still fun to teach her. She's got better control than The German in terms of her speaking also.

The big news is that Speedy has pretty much secured the new home of the school. It'll be about 6 minutes' walk away from our current location and right on the first floor. There's a bit of giddiness as well as wistfulness about me leaving the old place that I'd become familiar with for the past 6 years when I head over to Canada and then coming to a new place in January. The bossman showed me through his cellphone camera what the new place looks like. It's awfully hard to get the full breadth of the condo just from some tiny pictures but Speedy told me that I could take a look at it after my final Saturday in December.

Anyways, I've got a relatively busy day tomorrow although The Patent Attorney has cancelled his lesson. I've got a double with Grandma Dynamite but it will be several hours before The Carolinan comes by and then since Mrs Thursday won't be coming it'll just be The Music Man to wrap up. I think I may be starting my Xmas shopping during the hole.

Wednesday November 24, 7:57 p.m.
Yup, Fall is definitely here in terms of the foliage. The above left picture is from outside of Den'en-Chofu Station where Yajima always picks me up for his lessons. However, Xmas is just around the corner as well as this Shinjuku shop display illustrates. the Yuletide lights have started to make themselves known throughout the metropolis in the usual corners of Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ginza. Once December hits next week, then that electric bill for Tokyo is gonna shoot straight up.
Back on Sunday, I met up with The Bohemian for the first time in about 4 or 5 months. We met at our usual place just in front of the Inokashira Line ticket gates in Shibuya. However, this time, he wasn't alone. He had asked an acquaintance whom he'd known at his gym for some months (kinda surprised that he finally found some success there....he usually got asked to leave whenever he tried to make a play for someone). This young lady actually hails from Michigan, The Bohemian's old area from high school days, and looks remarkably like Brent Spiner aka Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation". We ended up going to Toriyoshi, the all-chicken izakaya. She was very nice and actually could endure being with us, despite the fact that I was sniffling all night and The Bohemian got into his drunken, slightly racist mode. Whether she will ever deign to meet us again is another question altogether. Still, it was nice to have a third member.
I did glean some insight about The Bohemian and why he acts like he does. Over the years, he's annoyed the heck out of me with some of his risque and racist and repetitive comments. I've just come to the realization that he must have some sort of Peter Pan Syndrome in that he really hasn't grown up. Just like a little kid who doesn't really realize what he's saying, he just blurts out stuff that other people usually wouldn't in polite company. I'm not sure if this is really some sort of handicap he suffered as a child.
And speaking of children, North Korea decided to throw another temper tantrum yesterday by lobbing some artillery over at an inhabited South Korean island, just because it wants attention from the West. Problem killed two soldiers and injured several civilians. Maybe it's time for the free countries of the world to give it the spanking it so richly deserves.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wednesday November 24, 3:59 p.m.
Yep, it's indeed American Thanksgiving Week, and since yesterday was also Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan, I decided to have my 2nd annual outing to Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi for its Turkey Special. Not too many people in the HRC which was a bit surprising for noon considering it was indeed a national holiday but I wasn't complaining. Just meant that I got my meal that much faster and hotter. But not exactly cheaper...the meal came to about 2600 yen but I also splurged for a soft drink and then coffee and dessert, so the grand total came to about 4200 yen. Definitely not on the cheap side but still a lot of yen cheaper than at some of the other places that offer Thanksgiving meals.
The turkey, the mashed potatoes and the gravy were the highlights...I've always enjoyed the mash as a pseudo gravy boat. The gravy was quite salty but it worked well with the otherwise bland meat. There was also a small cup of cranberry sauce but since the gravy coated the turkey, the sauce was rendered rather superfluous. And the stuffing was the type of stuffing that must've been made after the chefs got the news that making stuffing the old-fashioned way could lead to food poisoning. It just seemed that it was parts of bread doused in the turkey juice. For me, I'm very much for stuffing bread, ground meat and potatoes into the bird and having physics take its course. As for the risk of drying out the meat, well, that's why we have gravy, eh?
True to my legend, I also went for the dessert which was Apple Cobbler. I could've done without the ice cream...for some reason, I was never a fan of a la mode but still I gobbled the cobbler with a cup of coffee. And strangely enough, even with the added dish, I wasn't too filled up.
I'm happy to say that I can give this meal a solid 8 out of 10. I guess the Hard Rock Cafe Turkey Special will become one of my annual habits.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday November 22, 5:15 p.m.

Yup, that's me getting a bit artsy. I used the Sunset filter to get this shot of an Autumn tree in Shibuya.

I won't be writing too much now since I do really want to get home and enjoy a very rare Monday night off...especially since tomorrow is a national holiday...Labor Thanksgiving, although there is no turkey involved. However, I'll be remedying that by heading over to the Roppongi Hard Rock Cafe tomorrow and tucking myself into the Turkey Special that they have annually there.