Fun

Samurai Tut


Need something to do in San Francisco?

  • King Tut, de Young Museum, June 27, 2009 through March 28, 2010
  • Lords of the Samurai, Asian Art Museum, June 12 through September 20, 2009

Thighs, Ponzu, Spam, Steak, and BiscuitPeachGingerCrack


My sister’s in town for business, so…

No, wait, let me start again.

My lovelytalentedarticulatestylisheducatedsensiblesuccessful sister’s in town for business, and arranged to come in early so we could spend Saturday together in San Francisco, and Sunday down at my house.

Friday, while working from home, I prepared for her visit by lighting up the smoker and preparing a double batch of spicy smoked chicken thighs. I think she’d have disowned me if I’d shown up at the airport without them.

Saturday, I picked her up at SFO and handed over the chicken, then we bummed around Japantown and Chinatown for a few hours (praising the heavens that our mother was not along to see the everything-must-go final-auction-starts-at-noon Chinese antique shop), sat impatiently in the bar for several hours while the hotel prepared our rooms, and then headed out for dinner and Spamalot. Since both hotel and theater were in the theater district (which should be renamed the theater&bum district), all we needed was a good place to eat, and a Zvents search turned up Ponzu, an asian fusion place that has some delicious food. Whatever else you get there, order the kalbi beef and the fried chickpeas, and eat them together. Trust us on this one; we ordered a second helping of the beef to use up the leftover chickpeas.

After that, it was off to Spamalot, which Ticketmaster shamelessly lied about the cast of, but the touring cast was by no means a disappointment. It’s a terrific show, very Python but hip, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it came back to SF for a longer run in the future.

Inexplicably, the rows in front of and behind us emptied out completely at intermission, and we heard one of the groups complaining about John O’Hurley’s inauthentic British accent. In Spamalot. Monthy Python. Farce. They just couldn’t get past it. Either they were season-ticket-holding Serious Theatre Patrons™, or they inhaled a bit too much of the pot smoke that was drifting in from the nearby exit door, and were just friggin’ high.

Sunday morning, it was off to my house, which, for a change, was quite clean in the rooms that weren’t sealed off. More chicken was consumed, and for dinner, giant juicy Costco steaks, coated with rub and tastefully incinerated on my nuclear grill at a safe and comfortable 725°. Served with cheesy toasts and wine, life was good. Also surprisingly grownup-like, with candles and music and a centerpiece and both of our laptops shoved firmly to the side. Not at all like my usual combination of a frozen dinner and a web browser.

Dessert was the fresh peaches she brought from Chicago, sliced, sugared, and milked, on freshly-baked canned biscuits, topped with crushed Shouga Tsumami (aka “Ginger Pinch”, aka “Ginger Crack”, aka “Ohmygodthesearegoodgivememore”).

Flexible, Cuddly


Out of nowhere, I remembered her first name, and Google turned up a solid link to her last name: Jennifer Collins. Sadly, her career in the circus arts doesn’t seem to have prospered enough to turn up any news since 2003. I don’t know how she compares technically to other contortionists, but as an entertainer, with a warm, funny stage presence, she’s top-notch.

The truth about Death Knights…


In the new World of Warcraft expansion, Death Knights are a playable class of formerly-dead, formerly-enslaved minions of the Big Bad. Even freed of their loyalty to the evil Lich King, they’re, um, not very nice people, specializing in pestilence, disease, corruption, raising the dead, and assorted other unsavory hobbies.

Naturally, this led 99.94% of the customers who created one to choose a grim, death-y, stupid name. I went a different route. In the previous expansion, the race of draenei were added to the game with “Hollywood Russian” accents, so I created a female draenei with a name that used the accent to project her cheery outlook on after-life: Vanakudl.

The armor available for the first ten levels made me wonder if I shouldn’t have named her HelloSailor, but eventually she acquired a grim, cold-blooded killer look that just wouldn’t do. So I followed Arthur’s advice and made her an herbalist, sending her around the world to gather flowers.

This morning, I was presented with a bit of commisioned fan-art:

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Frequently bought together


Gosh, I can’t imagine why…

Dr Horrible costume parts

(now available on DVD from Amazon, it’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog!)

”…and that’s why we had to put him down”


This is claimed to be a real product, not just a design concept, but I can’t imagine anyone actually using one. Certainly not in a home with kids, pets, or, say, people. I understand the motivation, but antlers at ankle level?

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Kyoto Muzak


(all vacation entries)

There are some nice restaurants in the Kintetsu mall near Kyoto Station. While perusing the menu outside of one of them, the muzak system turned up a familiar-sounding tune. I just couldn’t place it. Dave didn’t recognize it at all, and then it hit the refrain, and was revealed to be this.

The next time we went by that place, they’d cranked the silliness higher, with a muzak version of this.

There’s a perfectly good reason why the Japanese cowboy is para-para dancing. If you were hanging out with these Shibuya gals, wouldn’t you?

Lessons Learned


(all vacation entries)

Culled from the blur of the last two weeks. Likely to be updated with pictures and additional commentary.

  • The reason there are frequent TV ads for Tadashii Kanji Kakitori-kun is because there's a new release that includes all 1945 Jouyou kanji, including readings and meanings. Buy it if you have any interest in learning to read and write Japanese.
  • There's surprisingly little anime on television.
  • Hotels don't get the interesting TV channels.
  • Except for porn, with free previews. The first thing we saw on TV was a large-breasted woman squirting milk.
  • Much later, we found an iron-chef-style show best described as "real chefs with goofy assistants inventing novel dishes".
  • 1-yen coins are indeed the correct tool for opening the battery compartment in older Japanese cameras.
  • Hello Kitty is everywhere. Everywhere.
  • So are schoolgirls in short skirts. Every day of the week. Mostly cute as buttons. Their legs looked cold.
  • Hello!Project isn't quite everywhere, but random channel-surfing turned up Tsunku (hosting a catty-woman game show?), Tsuji (new mother announcement), Gal Sone (out-eating a sumo family), and a few others. And the abruptly-retired Maki Goto is still quite visible on a large Guess ad at the airport.
  • The downside of putting a lot of effort into learning to speak Japanese quickly and smoothly is that people respond at full speed. I really need a private conversation tutor.
  • Needing to use your Japanese dramatically improves your memory.
  • Haibane Renmei saved my friend from an allergic reaction.
  • When entering a comic book shop, the prominent sign reading "BL" means "wrong store".
  • Any knowledge of Japanese helps. Being able to read hiragana and katakana helps a lot. Any ability with kanji is icing on the cake.
  • The easiest-to-understand person that I conversed with in Japanese was a little old lady in a Kyoto incense shop.
  • Strict censorship laws did not prevent me from finding an explicit hardcore Hanaukyou Maid Tai doujin collection. At a major retailer in Akihabara. Accidentally. Which had futanari Catholic school girls as the backup story.
  • Beautiful young women in kimonos are not everywhere. Except in Kyoto on weekends.
  • Opening a metal bottle of Pepsi Nex does not in fact summon a maiko, despite early evidence to the contrary. It only works when you're using the vending machine outside of the Gion post office.
  • People in Kyoto are, on the whole, friendlier than those in Tokyo.
  • Shibuya may be home to Japan's fashion victims, but the extensive public transportation network makes them visible everywhere.
  • A Suica or Pasmo card is the single most useful thing to have if you're going to be in Tokyo for a few days.
  • Shinagawa has little to offer except the easy ability to go elsewhere. [update: that is, the area around Shinagawa Station, which isn't really in Shinagawa-ku]
  • Tonki really does have great tonkatsu. And you want to get there when they open at 4pm.
  • Junsei has excellent kaiseki.
  • JALPAK does great work for a great price.
  • Habits acquired in a country where coins are chump change result in overstuffed pockets in a country with $5 coins.
  • The morning JAL flight from Osaka to Narita leaves you with an eight-hour layover before your flight home to San Francisco. This time is best spent around Narita-san, particularly Shinshou-ji.
  • On the way there, you'll pass a small restaurant that serves fresh unagi, grilled over a wood fire. That's fresh as in "they were still swimming a few minutes ago".
  • I should have bought a second bag of Maiko-san no Ochobo-guchi. Now I'm going to have to hope they're available somewhere in San Jose or San Francisco.
  • In addition to the popular maid cafes, Akihabara now has both nun cafes and little-sister cafes. [Update: Nun cafe, Little-sister cafe]
  • There's a lot of used porn on the market. Used. Porn.
  • Aya Matsuura's first DVD single collection does not include the most entertaining of her early videos, Momoiro no Kataomoi, so I didn't buy it. [Update: Ah, there's a different DVD that does include the song.]
  • The Hozugawa river trip is worth it. Sadly, I couldn't keep up with the guide's rapid-fire running commentary, but he was apparently hilarious. I did at least catch the joke about the 7-11 main office.
  • 富士山が見えたんです。