I've been doing some tidying up of my site and noticed that several of the videos are now obsolete and can't be shown. So I've either replaced them or deleted them. If you have time to kill, you may want to investigate my earlier postings (depends on how masochistic you are, of course.)

So I've included one of Puffy's earliest hits (and had to remove others--SOB!)
Have You Ever Played Mahjong?

It is a game of skill, intelligence, calculation and luck. Depending on the variation which is played, the amount of luck may vary from 20 to 80 percent. In China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and other countries mahjong is often used for gambling. The Chinese word 麻将 literally means "hemp general". In Cantonese an alternate writing, 麻雀, is more common (the same kanji are used in Japanese). In Cantonese this literally means "sparrow", while in Japanese it means "hemp sparrow", and is pronounced mā-jan.

I've never actually played it but it appears to be some weird combination of Gin Rummy and Dominoes. In the game centers here, (which I happen to visit on occasion to play "UFO Catcher") there are all kinds of video games. Well, one of them happens to be Mahjong and I discovered, hidden in the back of one of the centers, that the Mahjong games have an unusual payoff. Rather than receive money or credits towards new games, you can actually undress women. There were several different games gearing towards one's particular fetish. I didn't bother trying to play, but below is a photo of one of the display screens. (Since this is a family-friendly blog, I chose not to get too naughty.)

Next time you enter a game center, venture to the back of the room and Good Luck, you might just get lucky!
Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Big news. I got my hair cut yesterday. Okay, it's not that big a deal, but I was getting pretty shaggy (not shagged.) It only cost me 1000¥(10 bucks)! Men can spend anywhere from 3000-6000¥ to get their follicles pared depending on where you go and what gets done. I've gone to old men or ladies in a normal barber shop, who'll massage you, trim your ear and nose hairs and shave your forehead for about 4000¥. I've spent upwards of 5000¥ at a hairstylist who insists on gooping gel on your noggin regardless of your objections. And I have spent as little as 3300¥ at a friend who discounted me and gave me a "George Clooney" look.

But near my home is a 3:10:1000¥ salon that will give men, ladies or children (3 types) a cut in under 10 minutes. Volume, volume, volume. Churn out the victims in 10 minute spurts and, granted you do get what you pay for. No washing, massage, shaved forehead or trimmed nose hairs, but I now have a satisfactory cut at a satisfactory price. They even vacuumed my scalp for no extra charge.
Next month, I'm sure I'll go back to my buddy and get the "George Clooney" look again, but if I'm feeling pressed for time or in a cheap mood, I'll head back to the 3:10:1000!


Spaaaace Ghoooooooooost!

A true pioneer comic artist by the name of Alex Toth died on May 27th at the age of 77. Amongst other creations, he was responsible for Space Ghost, Jonny Quest and Super Friends and there isn't a comic artist around who doesn't quote him as an influence. "Big Deal!" you may say. Well, his Japanese connection is a Japanese-American by the name of Iwao Takamoto who helped co-create much of the Hanna-Barbera animation of the 60s. I grew up with these toons in the 60's and one of the reasons I'm so warped today, is thanks to them.
And yet another Shaft story envelops...

After dinner, my friend went home and so Ando, Yukiko and I went to Shaft for a nightcap. We got there 9:00ish, there was a HipHop/Reggae night going on and there were only about 10 people there. The first DJ was pretty good, throwing in some jazzy tunes amongst the Hippity-Hoppy and he was worth listening to. Yukiko retired to get her last train and so I remained solo. What else is there to do, but chat up some young ladies? The next DJ's set was some excellent Reggae music, but he had a partner who bellowed over the Microphone every 30 seconds, which I found intolerable. So I invited my 3 young companions to go to Karaoke. They complied and so off we went.

Tomo, Tomo and Mari and I went to a fairly cheap place that they all knew and I was VERY impressed by their vocal talent and in their choice of music! They didn't sing a single recent J-pop tune and warbled some fairly old Japanese standards as well as the obligatory Carpenters. They were all members of a Gospel group, so of course, they had to sing tunes from "Sister Act." All Gospel singers in Japan are convinced that it isn't really Gospel, unless Whoopi is involved. I did a pretty convincing duet of "Unchained Melody" with one of the Tomos, my first attempt at that tune. We stayed for extra hour and kept belting out the tunes until 3:00.

I'll probably never see them again unless they take me up on the invite to the next Echophonyk, but for ships that pass in the night, it was a pretty smooth ride.
I Don't Mean to HARP About This, But...

After the ball game, I raced home to change and get ready for a rendition of Kabuki (歌舞伎). Well, much to my surprise, it wasn't Kabuki at all, but a KOTO concert. Koto(琴) is the Japanese harp, plucked softly it has a rather dulcet soothing sound and most of the night was great. What follows is a blow-by-blow account:

First: 40 Koto (琴) players for 20 minutes--an average performance yet we managed to stay awake.
After a 10 min intermission, about 20 shamisen (三味線 a traditional lute-like instrument) players, 8 koto and 6 old guys on Japanese flutes (shako-hachi 尺八). Rocking for 6 minutes.
Then a young trio of 2 koto (bass and soprano) and one shimasen for 15 minutes and it was the coolest! A good mix and it sounded groovy. I'd love them to take on "Dueling Banjos"!
Wow, most boring yet! One old lady on koto and an ancient guy on flute for 10 min. So incredibly dull and the flute was off key! (They apparently told the story of Genji...an old myth about a monster--the performance was monstrous!)

Finally an orchestra leader came out and led: 15 koto, 1 shou
(a Chinese flute similar to a pan flute しょう), 1 ordinary flute, 1 shimasen, 1 Japanese flute, 1 kakko (鞨鼓) drum, and 1 percussionist (mini drum & triangle). All in all a pretty good performance and it was definitely worth the price of admission. (We had comped-tickets and got in for FREE!)

Thanks to Ando of Shaft fame for rounding up the tix and our companions were very pleasant. We ate at an intriguing Thai place and then headed back to Shaft.
But that's another story...
Jose, Can You See?

I went to the Rakuten Eagles on Saturday and thanks to a Home Run by the DH, Jose Fernandez, we won by 6-5. Pretty good game and I managed to get a nasty sunburn out of the deal. But the oddest thing was welcoming a flock of Americans to the stadium that they paraded around as though they had celebrity status. These half-dozen Osmond family rejects butchered their own National Anthem. They sang off-key and forgot most of the lyrics. Of course they may have been nervous, but they did pull-off a pretty good version of Take Me Out To The Ballgame...I guess the words are easier to remember.


Wan-wan and Nya-Nya

Dogs in Japan bark, "wan-wan/ワンワン or kyan-kyan/キャンキャン" and cats go, "nya-nya/ニャァニャァ". Sure our canine friends around the world speak in different tongues, but for the definitive sound for "Bow-wow/ Woof-woof" or "Meow", go no further than the great Mel Blanc. He knows what a dog sounds like!


The MAPLE LEAF Forever!

You may not think much of Alex, but one thing we can all agree upon is that he has produced one heck of a cute daughter.
May I present to you: Kaede Hutton (楓八ツトン-Kaede means "Maple" in honour of her Canuck half.)
Reality, What a Concept!

These are some "Reality Cartoons" done by various people for some photoshop contest. Check it out for some cool toons.
Da Vinci's Head Cold!

I saw the movie last night and quite liked it. (At least last night I did while in the company of a beautiful woman. Then I sat down to write this.)
It followed the book quite closely, but is that a good thing or not? The book is quickly paced with a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. (Lots of exclamation marks!!! It must be dramatic!!!) The movie drags a bit in places (many places.) Tom Hanks plays a symbologist whose most symbolic when he's pretending to act (he walks through this role). Audrey Tautou plays a cryptologist, but she doesn't sport any Tattoos.(?) I DID enjoy Sir Ian McKellan as a Keeper of the Grail (rather appropriate for a knight.)

Just go see it and/or read the book to see what all the hype is about. Or don't see it and don't read the book if you don't care about the hype.

Everyone seems to be protesting this movie...the Catholics, the Muslims, the Opus Dei, the critics.
But one of the head villains is an ALBINO. Where are their protests? Why don't they get out and boycott or picket the movie? Don't they deserve their day in the sun too?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Have you ever seen it? If not, you're missing one of the most original teen dramas out there...sort of like 90210 with vampires and monsters. You can catch it in reruns or buy the DVDs but to get a flavour of the show, watch this video...


The Ducks Have Quacked Up!

A close game between the Oilers and the Ducks, but the mallards got deep-fried 5-4 in today's 3rd game of the Stanley Cup Semi-finals. It may be time to sweep up the remaining feathers...the Ducks are going DOWN!
Can you use chopsticks?

Hashi-memashite! (箸-めまして!)

This is an inquiry received by all foreigners at least once a week. My friend just emailed me to tell me that an old lady had just asked him that very question, while eating his lunch WITH CHOPSTICKS. He politely responded, "No" and continued eating his meal. She looked puzzled...
(Hashi = chopsticks; hajime-mashite = nice to meet you.)
And now the end is near...

Had my final beer with Mark before he heads of to greener (blacker) pastures in Tokyo. Had a nice little chat at "The Happenny Bridge", yet another Irish pub in Sendai. Great taste, good company, pleasant service. But this morning, the Kilkenny is having a nasty lower intestinal explosive effect. Nothing like the shits to make you fondly remember a friend!


On a Chariot Built for Two.

Back on May 10th, I wrote a top ten list about bicycling. I'd mentioned how young lads seem to travel without care for others...
What Really Happened with "My Dirty Nurse".

DJ Mokugohan and I had dinner at Bueno Bueno and then sauntered to the event around 8:00. We heard a very ethereal sounding band called "sheep herd", consisting of 2 guys, and some very "Twin Peaks-esque" music. The audience stood there like deer trapped in headlights, staring at the duo. I liked them.

Next up was a 5-member girl band called "Nude Crasher", with a very loud Joan Jettish lead singer (and a cute drummer) and I could really only tolerate 3 songs before I went outside for fresh air. The audience had regained some momentum and were now politely nodding their heads to the music.

Now it's time for My Dirty Nurse, which consisted of 3 guitars and Alex playing some electronic DJ-equipment. (If I sound vague, it's because I don't know my woofers from a hole in the ground.) Very esoteric stuff with a sound that I can't really put into words. Very weird yet fascinating; very loud yet soothing. The bass player couldn't really keep up though and the female guitarist was off in her own little world. (I guess it's cool for INDIE ROCK BANDS to turn one's back to the audience. Or maybe they didn't want anyone to see that they don't know the chords.) Only FK could synch with Alex's rhythms and they may become a duet in the future. The audience crept back into full-on ZOMBIE mode and stared off into space, not really knowing how to react. When it was over, were Jason and I not there to applaud, they would still be there, glaring into the netherworld. I asked the opinion of a few onlookers later and they replied, "Wakanai" (わかない means I didn't understand.) MY DIRTY NURSE have a very unique sound and once they find the proper audience, will become very popular.

The other two bands kind of sucked and aren't worth commenting about, so I won't.
I Got Me the Blues Real Bad...

Last Saturday, I was hanging around downtown all day awaiting the impending Sayonara party for yet another friend. So finally at 7:30 I made it to the meeting place, @the "Shamrock-an Authentic Irish Pub." The restaurant was nearby, so I inquired inside as to its location, only to discover that I was 2 weeks early for the party (I'm such a knob sometimes.) So into the Shamrock I entered for a very nice portion of Fish & Chips and a pint. Well then, on comes a Blues band entitled "Blues Station #4". I really enjoyed their first set and settled down for another pint. Then an old friend came in with 5 of her female friends and I joined them. So a few pints later and after some great Blues, I was finally ready to return home and get over my day-long hangover at 11:00pm.


You may be wondering how the "My Dirty Nurse" event went down.

It was something like this video...

"Olly Olly Oxen Free!"

Friday was one of several Sayonora parties for Mark Saito (Keene) and his fiancee, Yuko. We gathered at Hide and Seek(電話:022-214-7978 住所:宮城県仙台市青葉区一番町4-4-5 八百善ビル2F), a very cool and mellow dining establishment near the entrance of Kokubuncho, (The "Buncho" is Sendai's party-central, with bars, pubs, massage parlors, and various other venues of ill-repute.) Several of the Echophonyk DJs have been known to play their more dulcet sets on Friday nights. The food is good, the staff are friendly, but it IS a little steep and can take a dent out of your pocketbook. Unless you plan ahead and show up with a dozen hungry and thirsty people, where you can get several delicious menu items and an all you can drink for 2500¥. We went from there to Evergreen (another good mellow joint) and ended the night at Shaft till about 4:00am.
Last weekend was the APOLOGY festival.

All day & night on Saturday & Sunday, hordes of paraders marched up the main drag chanting "Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry"! Maybe it was the noise caused or the inconvenience to autos and pedestrians, but the AOBA Matsuri
(青葉まつり) participants seemed regretful of their actions. (Okay, I know they really chanted それ/so-ray, but it sounded like "SORRY".)

Actually it's a very cool parade, with teams of similarly dressed partakers waving fans, playing flutes and/or beating drums to the それ-beat. Others carried Mikoshi (神輿、みこし), a portable Shinto shrine. There are hundreds of food booths, selling various forms of meat/fish/seafood on a stick and a cornucopia of other edibles. A couple of my students were selling kaki-gori (カキゴオリ or shaved ice with flavoured syrup) and I had to get one.

It was a lot of fun, but got a bit tiring after awhile, especially when the pounding of the drums equalled the pounding of one's hungover head.


My Dirty Nurse

Seems like an odd name for an event, but that is the name of DJ Mokugohan's new band! They'll be playing at Live ENN House on Sunday starting at 6:30. The cost is only 1500¥ and if your taste goes towards LOUD INDIE ROCK music, than this is the place for you to be.
Not recommended for the faint of heart, pregnant nuns or children under the age of 20.
Don't run for your life...

...to see "Run For Your Wife"! I saw this play last night out in the suburbs and, though the theater was lovely and the performances lively, I didn't really enjoy myself. For those not in the know, RFYW was written in 1982 by Ray Cooder and is a British farce about a bigamist taxi driver who complicates his life when his picture ends up on the front page after having performed a heroic act. Technically, it's a well done production, using one set to represent both households and two telephones at opposite ends of the couch to distinguish one abode from the other. But the play has not aged well for most of the humour revolves around the protaganist pretending to be gay around the investigating policemen and passing off one wife as a drag queen to the other wife. An upstairs neighbour, who is SO flaming he's on fire, tends to fall in love with every male character who enters the picture.

Enough history. On with this production. I imagine that the translation is adequate, for everyone seemed to chuckle at the lines but most of this may be due to the "hilarity" of the actors. British farce seems to translate well to the Japanese sense of humour, with lots of slapstick, coincidences and wordplay. The dialogue was spoken a mile a minute, however, I could figure out most of the goings-on by action alone (but I still didn't find it all that amusing.) The taxi driver, best friend and 2 wives were all played very well but the poufter was WAY TOO over the top for my taste.

What, you may ask, possessed me to pay 30 bucks and go see such a production? The answer should be obvious...a woman (or two). My companion for the evening was Hana, who I've known through the Echophonyk gang for over 6 years. She introduced me to a friend of hers, who just happens to be an actress. We dated for a while a few years ago. Her name is Eriko Kawanome and some of the locals may recognize her as a co-host of an afternoon talk show called "Hey Hey Miyagi" (I think) that aired everyday at 5:00. I saw it a few times and it had fluffy little pieces, such as cooking displays and interviews with local people in and around Sendai. I've seen her in 2 or 3 other productions, one of which was her own One-Woman show where she performed in 6 different skits. It was an excellent show.

Unfortunately, single career women in Japan tend to have their priorities in the following fashion: #1--full-time job; #2--part-time job or hobby; #3--breathing and #4--social life. In-between breaths, we dated a few times but she got busier and busier and our dates became fewer and fewer. Whenever I hear of one of her performances though, I'll jump at the chance to go see it, with the hopes that it'll equal or surpass her One-Woman show (RFYW definitely didn't.) And besides, I may rekindle a spark...

In summation, a good show, not a great show; a good time, not a great time. At the end of the show, during the Curtain Call, several audience members presented the cast with bouquets of flowers. I felt a little inadequate, but Hana encouraged me to do the same, and I tossed my single red rose up on the stage. (Much to the amusement of the crowd.)


Remember When Steve Martin Used to be Funny?

This was one of those times from a guest appearance on Johnny Carson. Since then, he's become blandly Disneyfied and I haven't seen anything approaching his genius since Bolander and prior to that...I can't remember. But this bit on Carson is GOLD.
A Purely UNscientific Fact For You...

I just finished marking over 400 of my students' introductory papers which included their birthdates. Of all those students, only 2 or 3 were born in September. So my theory is: "that when the Bubble burst about 15 years ago, parents were too busy at work or too drunk to have sex in January, 1991."

1981 An Interesting Year
1. Prince Charles got married.
2. Liverpool crowned soccer Champions of Europe.
3. Australia lost the Ashes tournament.
4. Pope Died.

1. Prince Charles got married.
2. Liverpool crowned soccer Champions of Europe.
3. Australia lost the Ashes tournament.
4. Pope Died.

In the future, if Prince Charles decides to remarry, someone should warn the Pope!!
And the Moment You've All Been Waiting For...

A review of last Friday's Echophonyk event... JLoop started off at 9:00 with a rollicking set, and even had 10-15 attentive listeners/ party-goers. Most of them left as soon as Kojima came on (they came back later) but he brought his own following and played one of his best sets to date. (Of course he usually plays at 3:00am and I rarely get to hear him.) DJ Dita hippity-hopped and kept the dance floor hopping, leading into a very funky set by our Guest of Honour, Mark Saito. Alas, during the Farewell blurb, there were some technical mishaps which led to a clearing of the dance floor. But Mokugohan shortly brought them back bopping and his set was a lively endeavour. (Unfortunately, I wasn't one of the boppers, I was too busy chatting up a hobbit-details later.) Mixture did exactly what his DJ name entails and mixed it up with a few of his standards and a groovy rendition of some new tunes. I finally got to hear a set by DJ Tono who started at 3:00-closing and really enjoyed it (details later.)

All totalled there were about 80 people who got totalled. People left and returned and it seemed like more than 80 but everyone seemed happy. Me especially...

The details...There was this one woman who was so tiny that she came up to my chest. And if you know how short I am, you can imagine her height. I did check to see if she had fur on her feet...a sure sign of being an escapee from Jackson-ville (or Middle Earth.) She spoke nary a speck of English, so my Japanese ability was pressed to the limit, but we had a good chat, and may meet in the future. On the other hand, we may not, for when she was conversing with her friends, I got dragged (screaming and kicking of course) onto the dance floor by a slender vixen. She then proceeded to gyrate sensually, including wrapping her legs around one of mine and snogging me intently. I fell victim to her charms and began to become enamoured of her Siren call, when she whispered in my ear, "I love you, I need you, Bye-Bye!" She then bit my lower lip, left and enwrapped herself around another unsuspecting foreigner. Like a whirlwind, she moved from gaijin to gaijin, but to MY credit, she always came back to me. Ever willing to be a pawn, I yet again enjoyed her company (and again and again!) Just as I was starting to get some feeling back into my lower lip, she bit my upper lip and almost drew blood. She then left with her best friend's husband who took her home and poured her into her apartment. 'Twas a very bizarre (but not unpleasant) experience, to say the least. She left her blouse behind and we couldn't find it, so I took her number in case it showed up and I could return it to her.

She called me the following evening at 2:00am, but I missed the call and, to date, I haven't returned it. I'm all for being a pawn, but I'd like to be promoted, not sacrificed!


If Only All Marathons Were Like This...

Sadly, All Too True...


Should Auld Acquaintances be Forgot...

Echophonyk's event tomorrow at Shaft will be the finale performance of DJ Mark Saito. Come on down and show your support for the departing spinster.

There will also be a NHL playoff game shown at 11:00, so you can watch one of the teams get swept away into oblivion.

Use this flyer to get an extra drink, or mention my name...I promise they won't throw you out for knowing me.


Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Riding My Bicycle in Japan

10. When you ride on the sidewalk, you often rattle the bricks that make it up.
9. Riders RULE! Bike riders actually have the legal right of way over cars!
8. When you get hit by a car, you can get a new bike! (Use this one carefully.*)
7. Multi-tasking! You can ride two on a bike, smoke a cigarette, email on your cell phone, hold an umbrella and breast-feed a child while riding a bike.
6. The unpredictability of old ladies on mama-cha-ri-bikes. They hop off their bikes at random, swerve, turn without looking and leap into ongoing traffic. (How did they ever survive to get old?)
5. The predictability of young punks on a bike. They hop off their bikes, swerve, turn without looking and leap into ongoing traffic at random. (How will they ever survive to get older?)
4. You can park at a convenience store, go inside and read a magazine for 30 minutes and your bike will still be there. (No wait, that's for cars, you CAN idle for 30 minutes and no one will steal your car, but bikes get ripped off all the time.)
3. Though bicycles have the right-of-way, cars will nudge their way into an intersection, completely ignoring the safety of the white line or run a red light! (Sorry, that's on my list of why I hate riding in Japan.)
2. Riding home from a late night at the pub at 4:30am and the sun is rising!
AND The #1 Thing I Love About Riding a Bike in Japan is:
Sneaking up behind my students on my way home from school and yelling "Bye Bye!" They then squeal, "びっくりした" (Bikkurishita! = I am surprised) and proceed to respond with "バイバイ" (Bai Bai=bye-bye) in perfect harmony!

*#8 did happen to me. We were both at fault (perhaps I was more at fault) and when I drove into this lady's car and totalled my bike, the cops ruled that it should be settled out of court. Thus she paid for my hospital bills (really sore shoulder, nothing broken) and I got a 300$ Mountain Bike for free! I don't recommend this as a frequent way to upgrade your bike though.

Everyone I know has one or two bicycle stories in Japan, please relay them to me and I'll enlighten the masses.


It's a Small World After All.

While Mark & Yuko were fighting the Red Tape at the US Embassy again, I got to leisurely sleep in and take my time. I decided to go to the Tokyo Metro Museum in Ueno and I got there around 11:30. I was torn between the "Prado" exhibit or the "Rodin" exhibit and since the lineup was a long one, I thought I'd email Marcus to see if they'd be interested in some culture. I got to the ticket booth and had not yet heard from them, when who should I espy at the end of the line but Dear Mark & Yuko. I got our 3 tickets and we revelled in the grand coincidence of it all (okay, it was a tentative plan, made 2 days ago, but nothing was written in stone.)

Very cool exhibit, especially if you like your women on the Rubinesque side. There were also paintings of El Greco ,Goya and a whole lot of Spaniard painters I'd never heard of. I even learned a thing or two from our resident ex-painter Mark.

Back to Harajuku to Fujimama's for chicken stirfry on Saffron rice. Met up with some pals of Mark's at the Exotica Cafe (a family restaurant, no less) in Naka-Meguro and then to JyoJyo Izakaya restaurant (03-5721-7313) for Tuna gills, からあげ karage chicken, beef tongue, chicken stew with demiglace & garlic toast, chicken belly, etc. I had to leave early to meet up with some friends in Kawasaki, but this place is definitely recommended for savoury flavoury favours.


Time For More Exploring...

Went to Wendy's for a Curry-chicken burger. Surprisingly tasty, but you won't find that flavour in Canada.

While Mark and Yuko were preparing for their nuptials at the Embassy, I got to do some solo exploration. Off to Shibuya for some 100yen Comics at: "Comix by manga no mori" (#03-5489-0257). Can't really afford the new issues, so back issues for me. Then across the street to "Mandarake", the coolest Toy store in the city. There are several branches in Tokyo and check out their site at:
Mandarake for all your Manga, anime, toys, models, etc. They often have employees dress up as Anime characters and sing Anime-Karaoke tunes. Didn't really want to haul a whole lot of crap around, so I just picked up a "Nightmare Before Christmas" alarm clock for 420¥.

Met Mark and Yuko back in Harajuku for a late lunch at "Chao! Bamboo" (03-5466-4787) and quaffed a few lagers while dining on various dishes from various Asian countries. By the way, the temperature was between 27-30 degrees and outdoor cafes were a necessity.

Yuko went off shopping and Mark & I travelled to Shinjuku to see a movie. Over 1,000,000 bodies travel through Shinjuku station in a day, so as you can imagine, getting lost is easy. We finally found the Cinema area and the only movie worth watching was "The New World". The theatre was HUGE, but alas there was NO smell-o-vision. Too bad, it might have made the film more tolerable. A Really Beautiful Movie, but it just took Sooooo long to get anywhere.

Back to Ebisu, where we found a petit Yakitori (skewered meat and chicken) restaurant. Very friendly owner who proudly showed off his autographed photo of Paul McCartney. He then let us in on the gag that it was a forgery, and of course, Sir Paul, being a vegetarian wouldn't have set foot in there!

Played some Darts in a little hole in the ground Darts-bar till bedtime and Mark kicked my butt! (I must have been getting tired.)
Meanwhile, Back in Ebisu...

After that repast, back to Ebisu for a few nightcaps at a British bar called "Footniks" where we waited for the ever-late, but always worth it, Archie. Nice guy and he may be a bigger Comix geek than I am! We also ran into one of the Aussies from the Canadian bar there. Boy the Australians really need their own place to hang and give the other Commonwealth bars a break.


Run to the South of the Border!!

Moved our stomping grounds to Ebisu. Stayed at the Hotel Excellent (03-5458-0087), a little steep but REALLY convenient. That night, back to Harajuku to the most amazing Mexican restaurant, Fonda de la Madrugada. The watering of your mouth should commence: Mex Bloody Caesar; quesafodita (soft tortilla stuffed w/cheese) prep @ table; Carne Asada a la Tampiquena- grilled beef fillet w/small enchiladas, refried beans & guacamole (4 tortillas); Brochetas de Camarones, Chorizos, Y Champinones-Shrimps 2 brochettes w/chorizo, peppers & mushrooms; Margaritas (Yummy) and topped off with a Mariachi band-Paloma where they performed a beautiful tune, (coo coo ru-coo ru- brings tears to the eyes). Slip them a 1000 yen, for they definitely deserve it. A little expensive but not outrageous. For those in the area, you simply must go.

Hasta la vista, baby...
We interrupt the Tokyo trip blog for the following public service announcement:

For those of you who have always wanted to see pictures of Richie Rich, Wonder Woman or even Casper getting a spanking, click the following link:

We'll shortly return to our regularly scheduled blog.

Got up before 10 to checkout and woke up my sleepy-headed neighbours at Mark-Town. We wandered over to The Maple Leaf, an all-Canadian restaurant. We dined on hamburgers with back bacon, cheese dogs and poutine. I had two Bloody Caesars (like a Bloody Mary but with clamato juice, not tomato juice) but decided to stop, rather than be pissed all day. During lunch, I was emailed an update on the hockey scores (Ottawa won their series!) and went to regale the crowd of the news. NOBODY CARED! It was then that I discovered that I was the only Canuck in the place. Everyone was either American, Australian, Kiwi or Japanese. The manager was an Aussie, the cook was some odd South-Asian creation and the waiter was a Yank. (Actually considering the motley assortment of patrons, it WAS a lot like Canada.) But I should have known that they didn't bleed Maple Syrup, they were watching Boxing/Wrestling in the middle of the NHL playoffs!
Happy "Day Between Two Holidays" Day!

The beginning of Golden Week started last Saturday for me and after a 2 hour Shinkansen ride and checking into my Capsule Hotel, the Festivities in Tokyo began. I met Mark and his fiancee Yuko and we went for excellent Sri Lankan food at the CeylonInn and a drink or two at "Chanoma" (by the way, a "GIN LIME" is straight gin plus two wedges of lime if you're considering ordering it.) Great atmosphere here; it feels like you're in an asbestos-covered warehouse with lots of pillows.

Back to the capsule. This is slightly different from what you might imagine. It's actually quite upscale, with your own biodome-type deprivation chamber with all the snoring salarymen you might want. It has free towels, robes, TV (ALL the good channels), a sauna and an onsen-clone. The cost is only 3700¥ and is easy to find. Get off at Shibuya, exit via Hachiko, take the left-hand fork @109, go up to the top of the hill past Shibuya Mark Town (odd name and photos are verbotten.) Unfortunately, it's only for guys, so women have to make do with a real hotel or hook up with someone and go to one of the innumerable Love Hotels. Call 3464-1777 for an encapsulating time.
Everything's coming up Milhouse!

This phrase should be used whenever an unexpected turn of events works in your
favour. (Homer once flooded Springfield to make it more like Venice. Because
nerdy Milhouse wears flooded pants, he didn't get his cuffs wet, thus his
squeal of joy.)

Well, I got off earlier than usual (ladies often don't like that) last Saturday and caught an earlier train, thus arriving in Tokyo 2 hours earlier than planned.

And so the Tokyo stories begin...


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