Friday, June 10, 2011

Saturday June 11, 3:13 p.m.

Three months since the big quake. I'm sure all of the channels will be marking this anniversary as they will for every month on the 11th for the rest of the the very least.

The bossman is back in the house, as it were, and he's already counseling a young girl and her mother on a possible study-abroad opportunity in Canada. I've got The Intellectual in about half an hour. It'll be the only class here which is a bit of a pain since 20% of what I earn will go to transportation. Still, The Intellectual is good people.

It's been a rainy day with some heavy downpours earlier today. Not sure if that tingling on my scalp is a result of radiation-filled precipitation. It's deceptively normal out there. Escalators are back in operation and the subways seem to be operating at nearly 100%. And the supermarkets seem to be booming; even the supplies of bottled water haven't depleted any.

"X-Men: First Class", or as it is known here, "X-Men: First Generation", starts today in Tokyo. The Movie Gang is ready for it for next week. MB is probably watching Captain Jack Sparrow as I write this; he's probably the only one of us who is willing to still give him a try. But actually, Skippy did see it already but I haven't really gotten any indication as to what she had thought of it.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Friday June 10, 3:36 p.m.

Feeling pretty sleepy right now but then again The Shareholder can have that effect on teachers. He is so languid with his answers. Earlier in the day, I had Swank over at our new haunt in Arisugawa Park. I was supposed to have had The Godfather as well but he's cancelled due to work. It's always the case with presidents...cancellations are fairly rife with them.

I was able to get home in time to catch the premiere of Season 7 of "NCIS"...the one where Gibbs and the boys rescue Ziva. The reaction in the "NCIS" community of Mixi has been overwhelmingly approving with fans virtually squealing their love, especially for Tony and the boss.

Well, I'm off for the day but I'm just doing some blogging here before taking off for home. The weather has been fairly fine today...somewhat cloudy but not blisteringly hot, unlike in Toronto which got 40 degrees. The Anime King relayed to me that the high temperature did indeed blow off the top of the thermometer but then the bottom fell off and it looks like the low will be around a chilly 13. It's a wonder that Torontonians haven't collapsed.

Now, as for the picture, that's a bucket of takoyaki, or squid balls (no giggling, please). The bossman's wife was kind enough to give me one last night as an impromptu dinner. This was an especially good dose of takoyaki since the surrounding dough was moist and fluffy while the squid itself was tender, not rubbery.

Thursday June 9, 5:56 p.m.

All by my lonesome again at Speedy's. I've got The Carolinan and Mrs. Thursday. It should be a banner day for the latter lady since Season 7 of "NCIS" debuts here in Japan. She may be grilling me with a lot of questions about the season premiere. I'll string her along as I usually do.

Earlier today, I had lunch with former administrators at Speedy's, AK and Bay, at a place in Shinjuku called The Brooklyn Parlor ( located in the basement of the Marui Annex department store. AK, being the honorary New Yorker that she is, of course recommended the bar/cafe/restaurant/bookstore. Yes, it is a multiple-use establishment, and a very handsome one at that. It is a wide space which looks like an underground bookstore except for all of the tables and seats interspersed throughout the facility. Very comfy and welcoming with the de rigueur jazz playing in the background. In the past, a lot has been said about Japan's passion for all these French; well, in these years, it looks like things have been shifting far across the Atlantic to The Big Apple. I had the Panini set which consisted of a large sandwich overflowing with steamed chicken slathered in a mushroom-and-cheese sauce. The three of us ended up spending three hours there talking about New York, and our own little worlds. Bay is heading back to Seattle the day after tomorrow, so basically that was the last time I see the lass in this country. Next time, probably Toronto. She did leave a good tip about using Yamato Moving for my big exodus to Canada.

Speaking of the hometown, I heard from Mr. TOEIC that Toronto may be facing 40+ degree temps today. Even for a meterologically hardened Torontonian like myself, that's just plain crazy weather over there. I hope my parents and niece are OK. Makes what I'm facing here pale in comparison.

The Godfather contacted me to once again cancel his lesson this Friday due to work. Looks like the next meeting will have to be next week. He asked if there were any way to catch him in the morning but with Swank and The Shareholder before him, that's pretty much impossible. In a way, though, I'm happy he cancelled since I would have ended up doing the traffic yo-yo amongst Hiroo, Nakano-Sakaue and then Tameike-Sanno.

Social plans are coming into place. I've confirmed meeting details with Cozy about this Sunday's meeting with him and the juku boss for a dinner of monjayaki. Monjayaki is the ugly stepsister of Osaka's okonomiyaki, which is probably a whole lot better known in the Americas. Monja is a plasticky goop of vegetables, small bits of meat and a whole lot of cornstarch (probably) which is fried up on a hotplate. It's gotten into the gaijin vernacular here as the representative word for vomit...sorry, no other way I could've said this. Anyways, we're meeting at Monzen-Nakacho Station since that's the closest station on the Tozai to the Tsukishima district which is basically monja town.

The other plan involves the Movie Gang. Looks like MB will be on his own to catch "Pirates of the Caribbean 4" since both The Satyr and I felt that the movie wasn't worth our 1800 yen. Felt kinda bad about leaving MB alone on this but in these currently difficult financial times, I don't think I can really afford to watch bad movies. Instead, we'll see if we can go for "X-Men: First Class" the following Saturday. I'm happily hearing that the reboot of sorts has been getting pretty good reviews Stateside; a relief considering that "Wolverine" was just a dog. With "Thor" getting similar reports, this may become a banner year (no pun intended to "Hulk" fans) for Marvel Enterprises.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Wednesday June 8, 5:22 p.m.

Forgot to mention that I watched "Bruce Almighty" for the first time via cable yesterday. Never caught it at the theatres, and despite it being one of the crazy Jim Carrey flicks, I think I was right in saving my 1800 yen. It was fun to watch Carrey mug like he usually does but it didn't strike me as being quite up there with "The Mask". Jennifer Aniston was basically the straight woman and wasn't really a partner in the movie.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Wednesday June 8, 3:22 p.m.

Nearly had a repeat of last Wednesday's rendition of Cancellation Day. When I got to Speedy's, I found out that 001 had cancelled tonight's lesson but the bossman's student did come after canning out of last week. Nice fellow...quite talkative but still has a way before he can come off with a truly polished presentation. In any case, I was finished as of noon.

It looks like I'll have another Saturday at Speedy's since the bossman will probably be recuperating from his annual 2 weeks of overseas business trip. It'll be The Intellectual again, and perhaps Ms. Prissy. Kinda bad timing since MB has just contacted all of us in the movie gang to catch either "Pirates of the Caribbean 4" or "X-Men: First Class" this Saturday. I can still make it as long as it's a night showing. For me, I will go for the mutant superheroes. I was rather let down by Johnny Depp last time.

I got a surprise mail from The OL, of all people. I hadn't taught her in a few years but it looks like she's up for another go-round with me. I had to let her know that this would be the last opportunity since I'll be going home for good at the end of the year. But if she's amenable to an afternoon lesson, then I'll be more than happy.

Well, now that I have the day off, I'll just enjoy the remaining time here at the I-Cafe and then head off for another quiet night at home. Tomorrow, I was supposed to be meet up with AK and Bay for lunch, but the latter may still have remnants of a cold so the thing could be called off.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Saturday April 9, 12:05 a.m.

Yes, still up since for the past hour I've been watching some political drama via CNN concerning the now-delayed shutdown of the US government. The only thing the coverage was missing was a John Williams soundtrack. But the important thng is that Yellowstone Park and the Washington Monument will be open for business today.

I spent some time at Metro Reference Library, one of my favorite hangouts in Toronto since after all these years, it remains one of the largest environments where large numbers of people can read or study quietly. It's also one of the most comfortable areas to read as well. There I managed to find a copy of Dave Thomas' "SCTV". In the 90 minutes I was at the library, I could only scan just the early years. To Thomas' credit, he doesn't hold back the bad stuff which included the disastrous guesting of Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson, and some of his run-ins with the various producers. My respect for him increased further when he admitted that he had been much to blame for some of the rancor that would inevitably occur amongst the cast, especially during the heyday of The McKenzie Brothers. But the surprising fact was on reading that Joe Flaherty and Rick Moranis didn't share too many sketches together because of Joe's resentment over the fact that Rick had never gone through the Second City process. In any case, it's a book that I would like to own.

I still had another hour before I met The Tea Lady so I killed some time at the Indigo branch at Yonge and Eglinton. Some tempting books to buy but I'm holding off til next week.

The Tea Lady and I had dinner at a Vietnamese place called Ginger. It's basically set up as a fast food joint whith one-dish meals. My choice of Curried Chicken and Fried Rice wasn't spectacular but at $6.50 including a Coke, I couldn't really complain. The Tea Lady didn't go on any major harangues although we talked on the quake and its consequences, and about her noisy Portuguese neighbours.

The movie of the night was "Limitless" with the rising Bradley Cooper. It wasn't an epic game-changing movie a la "The Matrix", but it made for a pleasant special episode of "The Twilight Zone". And there was one scene which had the entire audience literally squirming and groaning in their seats...something that I often relish and miss in the Tokyo cineplexes. Robert DeNiro phoned in his performance but his easy roles can often still beat a lot of other actors' more "earnest" approaches.

Saw Robin Williams' umpteenth appearance on Letterman tonight. Man, he is getting old! He's still got that manic energy but he's not racing around the talk show set like he used to do.

9:54 p.m.

I've enjoyed getting together with friends but it's nice to get a free day. Just stayed home although I stepped out out for half an hour to get some chocolates for tomorrow's lunch at The Dancer's place. Then it was dinner out at Zen with the whole family.

Toronto and Montreal had their final game of the season. One is heading for the playoffs, the other is out for the 6th year in a row. I'll give you a guess which is which.

Monday June 6, 4:39 p.m.

Some 6 hours ago, I was in that place to the right. That is Good Day Books near Ebisu Station, and I was there to have some books bought back. So, my move back home to The Great White North has gotten some slow legs by moving out of the cookbooks that never really got much usage over the years. The bookstore is different in that the whole place is devoted to English-language books only...something I haven't seen since Tuttle's closed in Jimbocho all those years ago. I'd read about the policy on book buybacks on their website the night before, so I knew that getting cash from them was pretty much impossible; their payback comes in the form of vouchers, good for an entire year. I was happy, though, that they took 8 of the 10 books that I'd brought with me. The only ones that they didn't accept were "The 9-11 Report" and "Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas". So I got my voucher for 2,100 yen; I may use it when it comes close to my departure or I may just give it to someone like MB or Skippy.

The summer is definitely hot on our tail. Very muggy out there although the sun is also out there. That extra sizzling on my bare arms could be radiation. I ended up having lunch at the Burger King in Ebisu Garden Place. Strangely enough, it's right beside Krispy Kreme. In fact, they're in cahoots with each dividing wall between the two shops, although I can't even imagine anyone in this burg having a Whopper set and then getting a couple of those sugar bombs. That would be more like something in California. I just had a relatively miniscule Cheeseburger Set and have followed that up with a convenience store salad with a vegetable juice. Yes, I guess I'm trying to do something about my weight. I just can't let Mother Nature sweat it off me.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sunday June 5, 4:10 p.m.

It's been an unusual day. No problems with Yajima's lesson in Den'en-Chofu, although he was going along with the setsuden policy (electricity conservation) and keeping his air conditioner at 28 degrees C...things were getting a bit warm in the house, especially with a body like mine. Then I go over to The Jyuppies' place for their lesson, only to find out that the entire family has gone down with a cold. I'm not sure if Mr. Jyuppie was annoyed with me since I resolutely refuse to carry a cellphone but he tried to leave a message on my home phone at around 8 a.m. However, since I had to leave at 7:30 this morning, he had been under the impression that there was no way I could access my messages remotely, and so he didn't leave any message. And I thought that was Mom who had left the usual busy signal on my machine. In any case, I still got my full pay which was very kind of them, but I still feel pretty badly about accepting money for nothing, so I'm thinking of shipping some desserts to them from the usual department store basement, or depachika. I'll probably pay an amount equal to one hour's pay.

I had a similar situation back on Friday when I ended up waiting an hour at the Tully's in Tameike-Sanno to find out that The Godfather had to back out of his lesson due to his own illness. Y'know...I tell them to leave a message on the machine....ain't rocket science.

Last night, I watched "Casablanca" on DVD for the umpteenth time. At first, I had thought that I would finally get tired of watching the 1942 classic but it still held me with all of its style and quotes.

The weather has gotten noticeably muggier over the past couple of days, compared to the relative deep freeze we were all in about a week ago. It is definitely feeling quite moist in my home so I've brought out the fan. I haven't activated the air conditioner since I do want to pitch in my share for setsuden but the question is how long I can hold out in a 30-degree room with over 60% humidity.

What has also gotten hotter is all of the political insanity in Nagatacho. Last Thursday was supposed to be the big handover of the non-confidence motion against PM Kan by a group led by Opposition leader Tanigaki of the LDP. Instead, Naoto Kan pulls a fast one by giving a speech a few hours before the big moment and stating that he would resign....when recovery from the triple whammy disaster reaches a certain level. The non-confidence motion is rescinded and a number of folks in Kan's own party who had decided to side with the Opposition whipped back their resignations. However, that phrase...."reaches a certain level" got everyone screaming at Kan since it looks like a verbal hedge by the Prime Minister. Kan's little gambit may have backfired, and now it looks like he may be stepping down in late August, although the powers-that-be are trying to get him replaced as early as the end of this month. Of course, the folks in the Tohoku have been looking at this display with a mixture of anger and frustration.

I did get a reply from The Matron's husband about my request for guarantorship. Basically, due to his position as an attorney, he cannot do it. Well, things are not looking too good with my apartment.

And I even got more bad news from that restaurant, Enkobo, that would've been the site for our annual dinner with the juku boss and Cozy next Sunday. Apparently, the owner phoned me up to say that the restaurant has been reserved for some big party and so he's had to reject my reservation.