Thursday, March 03, 2011

Friday March 4, 2:06 p.m.

I made a new Mixi buddy over the past few days. Over the past couple of years since I've become an active member of the Japanese SNS, I've made quite a few Mixi friends such as Miss Viva and I've even had a few students become Mixi buddies such as Cozy, The Bass and The Intellectual. And I haven't had to question any of my choices to allow them into my little circle until now.

This one I made through a mutual Mixi buddy in one of my communities. Facebook also has clubs but the ones on Mixi seem to be more active. Anyways, this lady (I've got no idea about her age so I'm not sure how young or old she is) asked if she could be my Mixi buddy since we share the same community in music, so I let her in. Then over the past few days she kinda lectures me like a schoolmaster about how my profile page should look while she publicly plays nice with me in the communities. In a way, her personality sounds like our bipolar Ms. Efficiency at Speedy's. Nothing too serious now but I'm keeping my guard up about this one.

Friday March 4, 12:09 p.m.

Back at the I-Cafe since I've got a huge wedge of time between The Bass and the juku hour tonight. Looks like the new regimen of Toastmasters speechwork and pronounciation practice is working out pretty well with my drumming student.

We're into March and I've gone into my final 2 DVD sets, the 3rd seasons of "Robot Chicken" and "Futurama". Although the two styles of comedy are different, there is much hilarity to be had from both of them. From the former, it's been The Thundercats parody while from the latter, it's been "Amazon Women in the Mood". I've been happy to hear that "Futurama" had come back from the dead a la "Family Guy" although my impression is that the tone may have changed to a certain extent. I guess my only regret is that once I finally get through the two sets along with their commentaries, I may be forced to return to Japanese TV. Well, there's always going through "SCTV" again.
Thursday March 3, 8:14 p.m.

Things have been pretty quiet here at Speedy's for the past couple of hours since it's just Speedy and his wife here. Ms. Efficiency has gone home and La Fille has gone home to Kagoshima for the weekend. I've just got The Music Man left before I finish my weekly Hump Day, but I've spent this long break working on Cozy's latest translation request. Pretty straightforward stuff; I've already translated half of it although it isn't due for another week. I should be able to get the rest of it done by early next week.

The big news this week hasn't been the Christchurch Quake (although we're still waiting for the inevitable official notification of death of those missing Japanese there) or the Libyan Crisis. Instead, it's been the discovery that there has been some major Net-influenced cheating in university entrance exams. With some unintended help from Yahoo Q&A, a probable group of enablers assisted a few overambitious test takers in getting through their tests. As far as I know, the police haven't found out who pulled it off, but it seems as if it's going to be very hard to find even the ones who did the actual cheating.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Thursday March 3, 10:01 a.m.

It's another Hina Matsuri Day...the Girls' Festival. There'll be multi-level displays of dolls in a lot of homes today.

Yesterday, I met up with La Fille and Bay by the Shinjuku Station West Police Box. Bay came back to Tokyo for 3 weeks of vacation from her new life in Seattle. The three of us went to a tonkatsu place up in one of the Shinjuku department stores over the station followed by coffee in the Euro Cafe in the basement Odakyu shopping mall. We did the usual catching up and some venting about the bossman and Ms. Efficiency.

Speaking of whom...I guess it shouldn't have come as any surprise but it did come with some relief when I heard late on Monday night that Efficiency has decided to part company with Speedy at the end of this month. Speedy himself was quietly quite happy about the change in personnel. So, basically by the Summer, Speedy will only have Ms. Schmooze as the only old-guard staffer since I will be leaving as well. In any case, Ms. Efficiency's 7 months here had plenty of sturm und drang that this school really could have done without.

001 showed up for her first lesson in 3 weeks. As usual, we started with any reports on her idol, Masaki Aiba of Arashi. She's been faithfully watching his latest series "Bartender" on TV Asahi on Friday nights. And she and her fellow Arashi buddy have applied for studio audience tickets for one of the group's shows on NTV.

Bay arrived during 001's lesson...and after Ms. Efficiency's departure since Bay got rather spooked out by our description of our soon-to-be-erstwhile colleague. Speedy was of course delighted to see her, and the whole bunch of us ended up having dinner across the street at a Korean place. The bossman has been there about 5 times in the past 2 months so he's been designated as a regular. The salt-of-the-earth female owner basically ordered the dishes for us. Considering we were all rather tired, we didn't mind the bit of pushiness at all. I had a draft and a makgeolli...the milky Korean liquor....I didn't get a hangover but it did aggravate my hay fever somewhat.

Got home at midnight and then ended up coming back here by 7:30 this morning, thus reminding me why I've decided to leave Speedy's. I have a fairly busy day today. I just had The Patent Attorney for the first time in 3 weeks. Grandma FON will be here in about 45 minutes, followed by The Shareholder and The Artist. The Artist, by the way, has renewed for another 24 sessions which probably means that she'll be ending her new contract around the time I leave. Then it'll be The German and The Music Man to wrap up.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wednesday March 2, 4:41 p.m.

It would seem that March may be the month for meglomaniacs. We've got two so far: one is teetering on the edge of death or downfall, the other is simply teetering on the edge of insanity or good taste. There is Colonel Muammar Gadhafi (Khadafy, Kadaffi, etc.) who seems to insist that he is beloved by his entire population and that there is no revolt taking place....I guess he really likes sitting in front of his mirror. I'm sure the psychiatrists and psychologists would love to bring him in as a test case in delusional narcissism.

Then there is the American homegrown version, currently known as Charlie Sheen (although names like Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan have been bandied about). It's been a publicist's nightmare (and his has abandoned him) and a journalist's (and a late-night show host's) dream for the son of the former Ramon Estevez to go off on full auto in front of the cameras. He's basically and gleefully admitted that he is a raging drug addict and a troublemaker, and that all of his troubled brethren in Hollywood are a bunch of losers for seeking professional help. All I can say is that "Piers Morgan Tonight" will be the place to be for millions since Sheen will be showing up there tonight. Early in the year, Piers Morgan stated in his promos that he wants every night to be an event. This walking reality show will be THAT event. And from what I've seen in the clips, he won't let anyone down. Dr. Phil, Oprah, Donahue and perhaps even Dr. Joyce Brothers will be dogpiling.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday February 28, 5:46 p.m.

The precipitation has largely gone away so there is a chance that we may avoid the whiteout from 2 weeks ago.

I've been loving my Saturdays off. Mind you, I miss The Intellectual and The Publicity Agent but being able to sleep in late and watch classic movies on Saturday mornings make up for it big time. A couple of Saturdays ago, it was "The Apartment" with Jack Lemmon and Shirley McLaine. Last Saturday, it was "Judgement at Nuremburg" with Spencer Tracy. To me, the movie struck me as being a cinematic crossroads between Golden Age Hollywood and the contemporary era. There were the veterans such as Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift; with the exception of Lancaster who would keep on making movies for at least another couple of decades, the others were getting close to their swan songs. Then there were the new folks such as William Shatner some 5 years before he set foot on the USS Enterprise, Richard Widmark and a very youthful Maximillian Schell.

Plotwise, it was also a crossroads as the epic trial bridged Nazi Germany and the new postwar reality of a Germany as a bulwark against the Soviets. The movie went on for about 3 hours, but the pacing was such that it did fly by fairly quickly. It was all centered on the trial but there were dramatic tangents such as Judge Haywood's friendly dalliance with Mrs. Bertholt, played by Marlene Dietrich, and the brief scenes of an anguished defense attorney, Hans Rolfe, pleading with defendant Ernst Janning for a bit of cooperation. Still, in the courtroom, the shark-like Rolfe came off as every inch of the foil against bulldog prosecutor Colonel Lawson. Their verbal swordplay was a definite highlight as was the actual footage of the horrifying concentration camps. The shots of virtually mummified prisoners would make people cringe now; I can only imagine what reactions they must have evoked in 1961.

What was also interesting for a movie made in 1961 was that there was a relatively un-neat, somewhat bittersweet ending. Haywood's final verdict on the four Nazi judges was unpopular and cost him a friendship with Mrs. Bertholt although it was seen as the right decision by even Ernst Janning. Still, at the end of the movie, there was the final script that none of the people jailed in the Nuremburg Trials were still in jail. Politics trumped justice...was the final postscript.
The movie was actually a dramatization and not a recreation of The Judges' Trial in Nuremburg. Perhaps there weren't any major fireworks in the true trial but for me, one of the measures of a good movie is not just the entertainment value but also whether it gets me to do something. After seeing "Judgement at Nuremburg", I now have an interest in not only reading about the postwar aftermath but also on the entirety of World War II.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monday February 28, 2:51 p.m.

Just when the Haru Ichiban winds brought virtually summer-like conditions to the Kanto on Friday, The New Yorker and I encounter wet snow outside in Shinjuku today. The Little Dancer, my old university clubmate, was remarking on the weird weather in Tokyo. I had thought she was a bit off the mark, but when I saw the fluffy stuff descending on me an hour ago, I thought a bit of Toronto meterology had arrived in The Big Sushi. I just wonder if there will be a repeat of the snowstorm of 2 weeks ago.

In any case, I'm typing this over at the Shinjuku Kinko's and am probably gonna end up paying 1,000 yen for just the hour. But I do this since when I finish with Mr. Swank, I have to rush back to Speedy's and do a tripleheader with Ms. Prissy, Ms. Genki and Kirk. No time for any recreational blogging. Plus, I gotta do a quick prep for The Overachiever's lesson on Wednesday.

Bay is back in town after several months in Seattle. She actually lives there now with her hubby, so she's just visiting. After The Overachiever's lesson on Wednesday, I'm planning to meet up with her and La Fille for a late lunch....presumably in Shinjuku. I'm only half-joking when I say that it'll be a gripe session. I'm sure Bay will hear about Ms. Efficiency's reign of terror.

Just read the results of The Oscars which have just finished. I'm assuming the stars are now drinking and dancing it up at Swifty Lazar's or at some LA hotspot. No big surprises...."The King's Speech" scored the important awards and Natalie Portman got Best Actress. It was nice to hear Christian Bale got Best Supporting Actor in "The Fighter". And "Inception", my favorite movie of 2010, got 4 awards although they were of the technical variety.

Not sure what this week will bring.