Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday June 23, 9:29 p.m.

Had another nice class with Mrs. Thursday. We did the usual chat on the previous "NCIS" episode, but we also got into the topic of Country & Western music in the States. It seems that her husband has a thing for Western (yee-hah) culture right down to the fashion. I grew up listening to some of the Bluegrass stuff while Mr. Thursday is more into the Texas 10-gallon hat stuff, so names like Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty and Donna Fargo were quite new to her. However, I did recommend her and her husband to take a listen to Crystal Gayle....her "Don't Make My Brown Eyes Blue" is a classic.

I just got word from Mrs. Speedy that Swank has cancelled her lesson for tomorrow, so it'll just be The New Yorker and The Godfather. It'll make the commuting a bit easier. Mrs. Speedy has offered a bit of dinner to me via her mother....some traditional fare such as takigomi gohan. And I have to go in right now.
Thursday June 23, 7:52 p.m.

I just finished with The Carolinan. As usual, she was pretty languid about it all, but then again, it is feeling rather languid out there meterologically. She and her sister, The New Yorker, will be heading out to Okinawa next week for a few days. Nice to hear that some people can actually afford a nice vacation that doesn't involve escaping from nuclear disaster.

Was sorry to hear that Clarence Clemons, the burly saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, has passed away. I still remember him tooting away in the video for "Dancing In The Dark" all the way back in the mid-80s. I liked that tune by The Boss but my all-time favorite will always be "Hungry Heart" when Bruce looked rather scrawny.
Thursday June 23, 5:49 p.m.

Another hot one in The Big Sushi today. Apparently, Lady Gaga was out and about in Tokyo while giving out her exhortations for tourists to return to Japan. Apparently, in gratitude, the agency director for tourism tried to give her a sloppy wet one on the cheek. He looked like someone who had already one too many at the izakaya or needed an anklet monitor lest he gets too close to a junior high school. But then again, Lady Gaga has probably encountered a lot of weirdness in her life already.

Just two lessons today with The Carolinan arriving in about half an hour, and then my fellow "NCIS" fan, Mrs. Thursday to wrap up. The Godfather got back to me and said that I could teach him tomorrow at 5 p.m. A bit late for a Friday these days, but in these times of limited income, I can't afford to reject any classes right now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday June 22, 7:57 p.m.

It's rather quiet right now. The bossman is just writing away in his office while his wife is reading something in the lounge area, and I'm just blogging. It didn't use to be this way. Around this time last year and in previous years, there would be as many as three staffers (perhaps, Ray, La Fille and the not-so-dearly-departed Ms. Efficiency) puttering around in the office while I regularly had 001. But with the economic difficulties of the past year and then the Disaster of 2011, well, we're basically just a 3-person operation now with the occasional assist by Ms. Schmooze and The Marm. Actually, I got a surprise message from La Fille who's now fully into her own as a Japanese teacher in Korea asking about The Magician's next lesson re-scheduling. I guess the bossman still has her on overseas duty. I've been calling her humourously as our Seoul branch manager.

There was a bit of activity a few minutes ago when the bossman miscombubulated a schedule and didn't realize that he actually had a student at 8 p.m. He'll probably get a talking-to from the missus when I take off after Kirk's lesson.

It looks like my day of 4 will be merely a day of 2 tomorrow since The Magician has re-skedded to next week and The Godfather has once again had to cancel. It'll just be The Carolinan and then Mrs. Thursday in the evening.

Wednesday June 22, 7:35 p.m.

Ordinarily, I would be continuing my banter with 001 at about this time in her final half-hour, but she's off today for some reason. Instead, I am waiting for Kirk to come in on an atypical Wednesday class. Usually, he's a Monday student but he switched it over to midweek for this week. Actually, 001 will be going to some sort of charity event for quake victims organized by the fine boys of Arashi. Of course, she and her fellow Arashi fan friend, Yoko Ono (Yoko, because that IS her name, and Ono, because she is a fan of the Arashi leader, Ono-kun) will be heading off to Tokyo Dome to see their heroes take on even more heroic stature this Friday. I did ask her to come up with a report about their adventure next week.
As I was coming to work today, I came across a banner at one of the subway newspaper kiosks declaring "GoMaki Retires!" GoMaki refers to former Morning Musume member Maki Goto who had been the catalyst for the 2nd, or Golden, Age for the long-running girl group in the ancient days of B.A.K.B. (Before AKB 48). She came in as a gawky 13-year-old girl but ended up spearheading MM's biggest hit, "Love Machine". It was a tune launched in September 1999 but became one of the songs of the year as everyone was trying to sing it at karaoke boxes and year-end parties. However, her solo career didn't exactly catch on fire and then her brother, who had been one-half of a minor dance-song unit called E.E. Jump, ended up getting a career as a jailbird and then I think one of her relatives ended up falling off a balcony and killing herself. And basically, her name started to creep into "Whatever happened to...?" category. Well, if the headline is correct, it looks like Goto will go to blessed anonymity.

Wednesday June 22, 6:25 p.m.

Nope, unlike a couple of entries ago, this young lady may just be a few years younger than Lady Gaga but she is just worlds away from her in terms of personality. If I were being very uncharitable, I would call this one Lady Baka (idiot), but I will be charitable since the Japanese geinokai often demands the de-intellectualization of young female tarento.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Rola? According to Wikipedia Japan, she is all of 21 years of age and has the distinction of being half-Bangladeshi, one-quarter Japanese and one-quarter Russian. Quite an exotic mix and in this country, female exotic mixes often get targeted by heat-seeking tarento scouts. In this case, Rola was recruited in front of a Marui department store some years ago and has had a successful career as a magazine model. Often a number of the young models and pinup gals also get that foot into the door opening into the world of TV personalities. And the reason I even bring her up at all is that I, by accident, caught her on one of those talk shows on Monday night.

The show had a couple of those male manzai comedy duos and one other comic basically playing with her like a Barbie doll-cum-hostess. And unlike the relatively sober-looking countenance in this picture (aside from the stuck-out tongue, that is), Rola looked like something out of "The Rose of Versailles" appearing half-anime girl and half-manga heroine from the days of a French Queen. And she was putting on such a thick rendition of a Betty Boop sounding airhead, I'm not quite sure who was the goofier: her or the five, comedians who were fawning and giggling all around her.

But before I start bemoaning the so-called desired idiocy of model-turned-tarento in this country, I do remember one Uno Kanda around 15 years ago who had started out also as an airheaded model on TV (and even getting slapped by a disgusted baseball manager's wife...not exactly a good person herself), but ended up becoming a shrewd businesswoman and slightly more substantial. So, it's all about the cuteness factor to get into the money and fame before letting the seriousness out. Perhaps Rola will end up the same way.

But I still think Lady Gaga can still kick the living crap out of Rola in her Judas.
Wednesday June 23, 4:53 p.m.

As a bit of a PS, I see from my stats that I've attracted several folks from Malaysia. How do you do. I'm not sure if it gets as hot and steamy over there (I mean, outside of the bedroom and brothels) as it does over here (same conditions), but I do remember a few years ago when one of the local TV channels interviewed tourists visiting Asakusa; some of them were from Thailand and southeast Asia and they said that even they were having trouble adjusting to the virtual warm ocean that they had to walk/swim in this city. If there's one thing we can export reliably annually, it is a fine sense of what humidity really means.

Wednesday June 22, 4:36 p.m.

The Gaga has indeed landed. Yesterday, the Lady Gaga arrived in Japan for an extended stay...apparently, she may be here until the first week of July. Strangely, though, it was reported that 200 fans were at Narita to greet their heroine; I'd been expecting far more fanatics in dark leather and spike heels. Far more came out to greet Korean actors, but I guess middle-aged women have far more time on their hands. One cannot live on their sofas alone. Yes, I am quite sarcastic, thank you very much. Not quite sure what she's gonna be doing for the next several days although I will be very impressed if she actually loses the claw nails and does some cleaning up in quake-and-tsunami ravaged Tohoku. Most likely, though, she'll be shopping through Harajuku and Shibuya, giving a number of interviews and maybe even throwing on some shows. Apparently, she may be due for one interview on The Journo's wide show on NTV next Tuesday....perhaps The Journo may in fact be the one doing the interview. I think his leg has healed enough so that he can walk those few steps from his car to the studio.

However, if Lady Gaga stepped outside today, she may actually end up being called Lady Gag-Gag. The Rainy Season may officially be still on but it's feeling like a blast furnace out there. Summer has indeed arrived along with the Gaga, and it'll be the first taste of it in the new Japanese reality of conservation. I've done my bit by not turning on the air conditioner although my apartment was already above 28 C in the morning, so I was smelling the bacon, if you know what I mean. Still, it wasn't too bad in these early days. But I do worry about the next 3 months. The temperature was supposed to be up to 31 C, which probably means that it'll be one or two degrees higher. Gaga should really consider not using foundation for the next several days, if she doesn't want to look like the lost member of Mummenschanz.

Well, I bit the bullet and called up my real estate agency in Gyotoku, and asked them about my situation concerning my apartment's guarantorship. They said that indeed that there was a guarantorship company within their world, and if I passed an inspection and be willing to pay half of my rent, they would take care of me.

Skippy has started the next round of summer movies. She's asked about catching "Super 8" on the 3rd.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday June 20, 8:36 p.m.

Less than 24 hours before the official first day of summer, and yes, it's feeling rather moist inside of Speedy's as I type this. I finished up with Miss Genki half an hour ago. We actually did do a page or so of the text but we also touched a bit upon "Glee" as we usually do. We did have a conversational interlude in which we spoke about the differences between Japan and America when it came to comedy. I put up a small flow chart up on the board showing that whereas American comedy focused on topical issues and illustrated through sketches or stand-up routines, Japanese comedy seems to focus on oft-repeated catchphrases, bawdiness and slapstick.
Which brings me to the crux of this entry....a few weeks ago, I was flipping through the channels, making my now-rare foray into Japanese TV when I came across a bit of a surprise on Fuji-TV. Apparently, "Saturday Night Live" has landed in Japan. It just so happened that it was the inaugural show and I had found it whilst the first sketch was on. It had veteran comedians Sanma Akashiya and Takashi Okamura doing a sketch involving fat dancing comedienne Naoko Watanabe doing a parody of Lady Gaga. The stage was set up just like the original in New York, and I've just seen the opening credits on YouTube and was somewhat shocked how closely it resembled the opening for the original as well. But watching just a few minutes of the sketch made me realize that it still needs some mighty tweaking. For one thing, it was the veteran comedians basically spearheading the sketch whilst the listed new comics were very much just in the background....just like in any homegrown variety show. That was never the intent of SNL. It just seemed bizarre that the show just looked like any regular comedy show with the SNL logo just smacked onto the screen. And frankly, the first sketch was about as funny as a car accident...a custom that's usually built into the last half-hour back in the New York show. Not that auspcious a start. The musical guest was Ken Hirai...who is really isn't the biggest thing anymore.
At this point, "SNL Japan" is experimental. It will be only on once a month and for just an hour, so Fuji-TV is taking a slowly, slowly approach with it. But if the future outings are anything like what I saw, I think it'll be back to the usual cross-dressing inanities and catchphrases.
Monday June 20, 6:02 p.m.

"X-Men: First Class" made for an entertaining reboot. I would probably put it just under "X2" in the best of the mutant movies. There was a bit more emphasis on character rather than plot, and although the special effects were not on an awe-inspiring level (but then again "The Dark Knight" could be placed in the same boat and look how that movie did), I was a whole lot more satisfied with McAvoy, Fassbinder and Bacon than I was with Jackman in his solo turn as "Wolverine" (although he made for a funny cameo in the new movie). As for the younger Xavier and Lehnsherr, noone can beat Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen but James McAvoy and Michael Fassbinder did a pretty good job with the roles. And having the movie mesh in with the events of The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 made for a fun little conspiracy plot. Although I've heard that the movie isn't raking in as much cash as expected, it's gotten past the golden $100 million line so I'm confident that a second movie will be in the works.

Ol' Sam has left the building, so to speak. After staying a couple of nights at my place, he took off to meet his wife and kid yesterday morning. I have to be honest, though. He's got to be the most embittered cynic that I've ever known. He was just forever kvetching about everything; it almost got to the point where I was quite happy to see him off at the station. I had considered asking him to join me for breakfast at the neighbourhood McDonalds but I quickly got him to the ticket gates. He's a good guy at heart but I've got limits.

A few hours after Ol' Sam's departure, I went out to teach The Jyuppies for the first time in a couple of weeks. I felt badly about taking their money despite not being able to teach them due to a cold coursing through their household so I ended up buying a box of Yoku Moku cookies at the depachika by Futako-Tamagawa Station almost equivalent to my hourly wage of teaching. Just thought it was the right thing to do.

I saw Mr. Swank for the first time in over 3 months at his company today. It was obvious that he has put on the Grecian Formula and, more importantly, lost some weight. He has been very busy trying to save the Pacific coast with his tetrapodal products and also doing his overseas business in Korea and Vietnam. Still his jovial self, though.

I've only got Miss Genki before I wrap up tonight. I have yet to hear from my real estate agency about the fax that I sent last week. I may have to visit the place directly tomorrow after finishing with The Beehive. I don't really want to have to do that but I don't have a choice. The juku boss is probably gritting her teeth for my response.