Friday, July 01, 2011

Saturday July 2, 3:21 p.m.

Finished up with my two classes. It was another serious but good lesson with The Intellectual. We got into the discussion about the government's handling of the Fukushima Crisis.

I've just been diddling about the Net since I don't particularly want to head home while it's still feeling like a blast furnace. Not that it's that much different when I get home at night. I really have to open the windows. I did manage to put my Japanese writing skills to good practice by blogging down about the fact that it'll soon be 30 years to the day that I made my 2nd trip to this country and stayed at the Tokyo Prince Hotel for my first 5 nights. The place hasn't changed one whit since 1981. A lot of water under the hashi since those teenage days.

Saturday July 2, 12:12 p.m.

Sad to say but I almost forgot to mention that it was my country's birthday yesterday. 144 years young! Mind you, the only thing I did to commemorate the anniversary was to listen to a little-known Junko Ohashi tune called "Canadian Lullaby" which has absolutely no reference to Canada in the lyrics. Maybe I should drink down a bottle of maple syrup in penance but since one of those bottles of Medium No. 1 now cost close to a thousand yen a pop, I think I'll have to settle for the usual pancake breakfast tomorrow.

Finished what was probably my final lesson with Mrs. Prissy; certainly she thinks it is since she got me a couple of Peanuts postcards as a gift. Plus, she only has a few lessons left on her current contract so there is a possibility that she may not renew in any case.

Saturday July 2, 10:28 a.m.

Just a picture of a small brook in the middle of Shinjuku that I'd taken back on the hottest day of the year a few days back. But actually, the past couple of days have been slightly less volcanic in temps much to my delight. We did get some rather intense squalls shortly after my walk through Hell on Wednesday which cooled things down nicely. Just going up to 30 C today....believe me, taking into accounts recent heat and humidity levels, that temp is a blessing!

Yesterday turned out to be a triple cafe day. I had The Bass in our usual coffeehouse in Funabashi. There was a barfly of sorts knocking back beer (yes, I know, this is a cafe but beer still flows just as easily there) while belching and having his dirty feet on the seat, but thankfully outside of bad manners, he didn't bother us. Then, it was some hours later when I came across The OL for her first official lesson with me in 3 years. We met at our old haunt in Nihonbashi's COREDO complex...the Ueshima Coffeehouse...a lot fancier than the Funabashi place but definitely more crowded. The two of us had to occupy a couple of tall stools by the entrance. The OL was somewhat lamenting the fact that although she and her two sisters (my former student The UL and the otaku sis) are now well into their 30s they're still nowhere near marriage. Hey, join my club. I've got jackets!

And finally, I had The Godfather in the Tully's in Tameike-Sanno. Although we're basically having the lesson without a net (i.e. no text), we've been having good sessions talking about the birth of his new company and the fact that he's already got 3 projects on tap...all having to do with the recovery of the Tohoku area after the tsunami and earthquake.

I have Mrs. Prissy and The Intellectual today. It may be my final time with the former since she's reported that she can only come on Saturdays now and I'm just coming here as a favor to the bossman.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tuesday June 28, 2:26 p.m.

Going gaga for Gaga....sounds like going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. But that's what the crowd at NTV studios were doing since their heroine showed up there for what seems to be a nearly annual custom. She's done her concert in Makuhari Messe and now she's doing the media rounds.

Had my usual Beehive at Cafe Nard in Funabashi. The demand for rooms at the community centre in Tsudanuma is high so we couldn't score a room until late July. So, this little cafe will do for the next few weeks. Travel, Alp, Jade and myself expressed some worry over our friend, Mrs. Tee, since apparently she's been going through some major stress in her family life. She's been absent from our little group for the past month or so. Afterwards, we had a nice lunch at a classy Chinese restaurant on the Chiba Kaido.

I finally set foot into my real estate agency to explain my guarantor predicament in person on the way back home. It didn't hurt too bad; the nice clerk there confirmed what I was asking for and he gave me a form to fill out which required to put down an emergency address. I can drag it out some more. However, another clerk had to deal with an irate foreign customer over some sort of problem; I would've disdained the lady but then again I remember that I was in the same sort of mood a few years back when I'd first entered the agency.

After a few days of relatively cool weather, we're back into the blazing heat again....explains why I'm in the I-cafe for the next few hours instead of at home. I can take advantage of the fans and all-you-can-drink option.
Monday June 27, 7:35 p.m.

Well, got the news from the juku boss that she's decided to shut down the offer of English lessons. I can't say that I'm surprised about it since neither Mr. White nor The Journo will be coming back anytime soon if ever. So, the only thing left for me is to nullify her guarantorship of my apartment tomorrow and basically my links with the place that I'd been teaching at for over 5 years will be gone. I'm still not too happy that she's decided to do this.
In Lady Gaga news, apparently, the Lady has found a new appreciation for the popular izakaya cocktail known as a Lemon Sour (shochu and lemon juice). Rumor has it that she was in one of the branches of the popular izakaya chain, Tengu...maybe in Shinagawa, a rather odd place for a celebrity of her stature. Shinagawa Station splits the neighbourhood into a strictly residential area filled with drab apartments and new condos and a neighbourhood filled with hotels and upper middle-class houses...not exactly celeb territory. And it also has the gigantic Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau....unless Gaga's gotten herself into some trouble, I don't think she'll be anywhere near there.

Monday June 27, 5:22 p.m.

I kinda figured that it was due, but I still had to sigh sadly when I heard about Peter Falk's passing on Saturday night via NHK. Lieutenant Columbo was a favorite of Dad's, and I occasionally watched one of the movies on cable. There was a certain appeal about this rumpled detective ultimately getting the best of his targets after having to suffer from their arrogant slings and arrows.

Columbo was part of the rotating lineup on "NBC's Sunday Night Mystery Movie" along with "McCloud", "MacMillan & Wife" and "Hec Ramsay" back in the early 1970s. The theme of the series by Henry "Pink Panther" Mancini ended up becoming Columbo's theme .

But for all of the TV detectives that proliferated in the United States over the past few decades, it was only Columbo who not only made it through the Japanese cultural filter but thrived here in Japan. He had a large fan following and his movies have seen repeated viewings. I can theorize that it was because of Columbo's kindness, humility and quiet deductive brilliance that garnered him his enormous popularity on this side of the Pacific. A lot of the TV detectives here in the weekly suspense dramas also contained these traits but Peter Falk added that something extra with his beat-up raincoat and car, his cockeyed and seemingly confused expression and his "Just one more question, sir..."

Falk even got his chance to do a commercial in Japan for some sort of whiskey, and one of the most famous scriptwriters here even created his own popular detective hero, loosely framed on Columbo. Furuhata Ninzaburo (definitely more difficult to pronounce than Columbo) took on his own eccentricities and keen genius reasoning, and even the show followed the same format of having the plot show how the detective solves the crime rather than who committed it, but Furuhata didn't share the same cuddliness that Columbo had.

I figure that there will be a lot of fans here who will be searching throughout the cable universe over the next few days and nights searching for that episode of "Columbo".

Monday June 27, 5:16 p.m.

Part of that Friday recce included taking a look into the old Tokyo Prince Hotel in the Shiba Park area. Just located a few hundred metres away from Tokyo Tower, this was the Ground Zero for what my life was to become. Almost 30 years ago, I stayed in this place and discovered that Japan was the place I had to study. And strangely enough, the very first of the Prince Hotels hasn't changed one whit in those 3 decades. It was almost as if Doctor Who had plopped a Time Bubble around the structure. I would love to spend a last night here before heading back to the Great White North for good, but with my financial picture looking rather bleak at the moment, just not sure....

Monday June 27, 5:11 p.m.

After finishing with The Godfather in Tameike-Sanno, I ended up spending the next 2 hours doing a walkabout through that area and even down into Tokyo Tower territory. Since I know that I'll be leaving for home by the end of the year, I've started taking photos of the myriad areas that make up the largest metropolis on the planet. It was a bit of an undertaking since it was warm and humid out there but managed to do the recce without fainting. As you can see, I do love the Sunset function on my digital. And I was able to even get a few night shots.