Friday, January 21, 2011

Saturday January 22, 12:44 p.m.
Not sure if any of you folks back in the Americas are finding this in your local McDonalds, but the Japanese branches have started up the "Big America" campaign for the 2nd year in a row. Last year, the Golden Arches unfurled a series of 4 "Big America" burgers: the Texas Burger, the New York Burger, the Hawaii Burger and the California Burger to some success. I tried all four and found The New York Burger to be the best of the lot while The Texas Burger was more of a work in progress. Kinda wondered if George W. Bush had been the "inspiration" for that one.
Well, Mickey Dee's has decided to roll out the sequel, starting with Texas Burger 2. I tried it out at the neighborhood branch. It's actually an improvement on the original: it's smokier, has a bit more heat in its salsa sauce and the patty remains meatier. Apparently, the Idaho Burger is next although for the life of me, I have no idea what they would be put in an Idaho Burger (potato stuffing?).
It is indeed my 2nd Saturday as a free man...that is, with no more need to head over to Speedy's. I was able to get my laundry done, get a haircut and get some prints made to send back home. No way I could have gotten that done if I had still been mandated to teach Miss Prissy, The Publicity Assistant and The Intellectual. Having said that, I do miss those guys although it looks like Miss Prissy doesn't seem to want to let go of me that easily; she had her first lesson of the year with me last Monday and has done so for the next Wednesday. The Publicity Assistant will not be showing up until at least March and nothing has been heard from The Intellectual.
I've got that farewell party for Ray tonight over at the Shinjuku branch of Wolfgang Puck's. The burgers there are pretty good, but tonight Ms. Efficiency for the course option for 4400 yen.
Speaking of Speedy's....we got that tiny excerpt on our school on that variety show "The King's Brunch" on TBS about 20 minutes. A bit disappointing since it was basically just one question from the bossman followed by just some very quick shots.
January has customarily been DVD month for me since I've been going through all the sets that I'd bought back in Toronto. I've just gotten done with 2 sets of "Family Guy" which I think now is the animated comedy to beat, and Season 5 of "Doctor Who". Matt Smith's Time Lord has definitely made his mark on the fans....David Tennant hasn't been forgotten but his replacement has more than made himself welcome in my home. The 11th Doctor has that certain delivery in his voice; someone mentioned there was a bit of David Niven's Pink Panther in there, and I could certainly agree. I'm now gonna try out one more set of "SCTV" and "Futurama".
Because of all of the DVD viewing, I've missed out on quite of news. For me, the biggest one domestically has been the sudden resignation of Governor Hideo Higashikokubaru (probably the regional leader with the longest name, outside of governors of provinces in Sri Lanka or Thailand). Over the past 4 years, this former mediocre comedian under the wing of Beat Takeshi has been able to become the most popular governor in the country since he virtually threw himself into the Bird Flu crisis in his home of Miyazaki Prefecture. He earned the tycoon's worth of political capital from that point onwards. During my lesson with The Journo last night at the juku, we discussed about his future plans, and it's very possible now that he may go for the governorship of Tokyo in April after Governor Ichihara's long-awaited retirement. I'm a bit skeptical about what he could accomplish in the halls of Tocho; it's one thing to be the best salesman of a rural province of Kyushu but it's absolutely another to be the head rep of one of the world's largest cities.
The Journo had his trip to The Golden Globes last Sunday. He was just able to score a few minutes with Justin Bieber on the red carpet. What has made The Journo's lessons so interesting for me is that he has the inside track, of course, on what goes on behind the scenes in politics and entertainment. Plus I was able to help him last night figure out all of the snarky comments that Ricky Gervais had been firing as host. I taught him to understand about the host's traditional role as Chief Sardonicist.
Yesterday, I also had the rare opportunity to teach both Swank and Mr. Swank back-to-back. I learned that Swank is also a closet Trekkie, albeit more of a fan of one character in particular: Seven of Nine, which kinda knocked me for a loop. Then from her hubby, I found out that he is the only one who knew who Ruiko Kurahashi was right off the bat. Ruiko is that 80s singer that slipped through the fingers of superstardom and even stardom but has had a very loyal following.
Well, basically you and I are caught up now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday January 20, 7:03 p.m.

Well, the film crew from "The King's Brunch" came by this morning, just a few minutes after Grandma FON had made her first appearance at the school in over 6 months. She's also one of those people who effortlessly lives the Life of Riley, this despite the fact that she has titanium rods in place of a femur. She had her trip with 6 of her old classmates in a hot spring near Osaka, and then she told me that next month, she'll be heading over to Paris to stay at the exclusive Four Seasons George V Hotel.

The film crew wasn't all that noisy, although the two pop tart reporters were doing their usual squealing on camera. Must really work for one's supper, apparently. The footage will be shown this Saturday in the afternoon.

Had a bit of a small snafu later in the afternoon concerning The German. Apparently, she never got the word that Speedy's had moved. So when she didn't show up on time, we immediately got concerned, and sure enough, some 10 minutes later, we received a frantic phone call stating that she was stuck over at the station not knowing where we were. We sent out a rescue party and got her inside within 5 minutes. Happily for all concerned, she wasn't angry.

The Music Man cancelled tonight so I'm basically ready to go home. Not quite sure what I'm gonna do for dinner since if I head on home now, it'll probably be too late to nosh taking into consideration digestibility timing. My choices are not too good in the Speedy neighborhood since I said I would try to stay away from the Golden Arches.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday January 19, 10:10 p.m.

Another long night has come to an end. 001 and I managed to get through the lesson although I was wondering how much I could cut loose since I was teaching her in the open space part of the school where I was well within hearing distance of La Fille and Miss Schmooze. 001 showed me some pics from her Honolulu Marathon experience and I got my souvenirs as usual from her. I gave her some Chocolate Pretzels...not sure if beer is the right match for those, though.

Looks like students are falling by the wayside. Not only has The Patent Attorney canned for tomorrow but also my last student, The Music Man, has decided to pull out as well. And then, The Medicine Man also cancelled his lesson for next week. I'm gonna end up with a pretty easy day tomorrow.
Wednesday January 19, 8:06 p.m.

Saw 001 for the first time in over a month. Looks like she had quite the travelogue. Went to Hawaii for the marathon there and came in at 5:47:14; not too shabby at all for a beginner. Then she went skiing in Hokkaido and then to a hot spring in Hakone. Kinda wonder if her bonuses are all that small.

Not particularly a good sign but I seem to be getting rather sleepy at night. Hopefully, I haven't offended my nighttime students too badly when I try to stifle a yawn. I can probably chalk it up to age and a heavy dinner.

Anyways, Miss Sony should be here in about 20 minutes.
Wednesday January 19, 5:14 p.m.

Ran down to Kinokuniya to get a text and order a CD for that text before getting back here to have my lunch/dinner. I've got 001 for her very first lesson of the year....and her very first lesson in the new school. Should be interesting getting her reaction. And I would like to know how she did in the Honolulu Marathon last month.

Last Saturday, The Bohemian and I met in Shibuya as usual to find some sort of cheap little izakaya since he's been out of a job for several months. He found out about a Korean place just a few doors down from Tokyu Hands called Ton Mura (translated as Pig Village). It's a place that had a 1,480-yen all-you-can-drink option for 2 hours and small plates of various Korean dishes for 200 yen each. Pretty cheap. The strange thing was that for most of those 2 hours, the place was virtually empty. It was only within the last 30 minutes of our stay there that the place finally started to fill up.

As I said, The Bohemian has been out of work for several months, and has just been hitting the gym and doing a bit of trading on the Net. He's pretty lucky that he's been able to stay with his parents all these years. But to be unemployed at his age all this time can't bode well for his prospects.

The plan to have Ray's farewell party has been cemented. Looks like the karaoke option has been buried, and the five of us will be heading toward Wolfgang Puck's eatery over JR Shinjuku.

Tomorrow, there will be a camera crew coming in from the popular Saturday morning variety show, "The King's Brunch" to film one of our one-coin lessons. "The King's Brunch" is a fairly big deal since it is a popular program with the young bunch and talks on upcoming movies and trendy restaurants.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wednesday January 19, 1:48 p.m.

Well, I have heard of everything now. Tokyo has become quite the foodie emporium with cuisines from Ethiopian to Mongolian hitting our shores. And as amazing as it sounds, now even that dish of ultimate decadence has arrived: Turducken. The culinary equivalent of Russian Matrioshka Dolls has come to the rarefied area of Aoyama of all places. I rather mention this last point since Aoyama is known as a place of rather expensive haute cuisine, not really a battleground of stuffing three birds into each other a la The Human Centipede.

However, there's indeed a place with the horrible name of Fatgroove ( that has started to serve Turducken. As a foodie, I have a rather clinical and perhaps morbid interest in what this Frankenfood might offer. At 15,000 yen for the triple bird dish, I'll have to find 9~10 other folks to partake, but frankly speaking I'd be hardpressed to find even one person who would join me in this endeavor. I can't even be sure if Turducken would last a year; Tokyoites have become foodies of late, but this meal may still be too far-fetched for most.

Wednesday January 19, 9:55 a.m.

It's another chilly one here in The Big Sushi...relatively speaking. Of course, Toronto is far colder but since homes here don't have the option of central heating, the cold just lingers that much longer in supposedly more subtropical Japan.
The chill reminds me of all that poutine I had back in Toronto over The Holidays. I went twice to Smoke's Poutinerie on Adelaide St. And had myself the traditional mess of fries, gravy and cheese curds (that sound you hear is arteries hardening) on my first visit, while having the killer Triple Pork on my second time. Wouldn't mind having a box of the stuff now but I've vowed that I would be better on my body.

In any case, I've got Grandma Fado in about 15 minutes and then The Overachiever comes in.