Monday, June 25, 2007

Japan: The Musical

The kids are out of school. They had an end-of-the-year performance, but I won't inflict another video-medley on you. I will tell you that it involved many Beatles songs and a talent show. Hamza's impression of Fred from the B-52s doing Rock Lobster was the highlight. Now I have a whole summer of the children to look forward to. Actually, it won't be so bad, because next week they are going to summer school for a week, and then to the base for day camp for 2 weeks. As they are going and coming home with Jeff, my presence is superfluous. I am going to Kobe and Nara for the first week, solo. Any suggestions on must-see things and must-drink or must-eat places are hereby being solicited. And soon after that: Eric and Anuska and Olivia, and The Beautiful Mothers Tour '07! Joy!

Anyway, my weekend.

Finally went to Kichijoji (isn't that fun to say? Say it it with me: Kichi-joji) to hang out in Martine's 'hood.

Ate at a great Thai place called Peppermint (or Pepa) Cafe. First good Thai food I've had since I left Seattle.

We bought some beers (I tried some Aussie stuff called, uh, I forget) and went to Inokashira Park with them. There I met Darren, Tim, and Huey. Lovely people. We talked about Cleveland and Gary, Indiana, and punk music. It was raining a bit. I made them listen to TBM on my iPod, to plug for the shows next month (see how I work for you, honey?).

We then went to Moskow, and got to sit on the rooftop. I got my hand punctured by a tiny paranoid cat with a pierced ear who wasn't too good to eat the fries I gave it.

Just don't try to touch me.

After that, the boys split because they are pussies, and Martine and I went to Mikorin. A small bar full of lovely people and alcohol (including Mekong, the wonderful whiskey-elixir we drank so much of in Thailand and to which I was treated a shot by Minako, the fabulous owner-chick. In the red shirt. See video below).

Somehow, disco got played and it turned into a dance party.

On the way home, I rode sidesaddle on the back of Martine's bicycle, and we got pulled over by the bicycle cops (apparently no double-riding). Everyone giggled at the drunk gaijin girls (us), and we walked the rest of the way home. Martine has a wonderful house. Obviously only inhabited by girls. And turtles.

After a late breakfast, a soft cream in the park, from a place that had more flavors than I've ever seen, like Brown Rice and Miso (I had Black Sesame),

and a bit of a wander/shop thru the neighborhood (I got a parasol. Must keep my milky-white skin blinding people everywhere. I feel like such an obasan), I finally made it home about 5 pm. Just enough time to get ready to go out again.

With Jeff. Motomachi. Club Lizard. Buzz Buzz Hey!

Everyone, almost, that we know in Japan was there. The usuals, plus Jay and Geri, Rick, Zukyan, and I even got Helen to show up.

Lots of bands. I don't know what this one is called, but it had Sachiya in it and some guy I thought was a girl for 5 minutes, despite the deep voice.

This is The Soap. I have never seen girls this cute who rock that hard. They were so awesome, I have to put up TWO pictures.

I finally did the after-party thing; our own room in a restaurant in Chinatown. Most of the bands were there, plus fans. This guy has the most facial hair I've ever seen on a Japanese guy. Between that and his missing two front teeth, I wanted to give him a banjer and overalls. Nice guy, tho. His band was the Blues Bimbos. I thought the singer looked like Anthony Kiedis from the Chili Peppers. Helen agreed, even if Jay said I was high. I think he liked Helen.

Helen and I left when Jeff started singing 80s hair-metal songs on request. When we woke up, there were a bunch of people in my house. Nothing new there.

OH! And a mystery was solved last week! Remember the Things That Go Beep entry? Well, our hot water heater overheated last week and ate itself, apparently because we were blocking a vent with a bit of wooden trellis. The occasional beeping I heard was my hot water control panel warning me that the heater was overheating. Anyway, after being without hot water for almost a week (cold water really cut down on the time I wasted in the shower/bath; 120 seconds vs 20 minutes!), today, we got a whole new heater and shiny new control panels. AND I now know how to fill my bathtub by pressing one button. From another room!!! It even shuts off when it reaches the set volume! Can you IMAGINE MY EXCITEMENT???

I knew you could.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turks and Hydrangeas

We went out to dinner with Hakan Abis, a Turkish PE teacher/computer guy from the kids' school, on Saturday. We met him "at the dog," which is a popular meeting spot in Shibuya. Obviously.

He took us to Turkish place called, appropriately, Ankara (the capital of Turkey). We had really yummy food and Turkish beer (which seems odd, as 98% of Turkey is Muslim and doesn't drink alcohol). Hakan paid for dinner, which was super-nice of him.

After dinner, we wandered around Shibuya trying to find somewhere cool to go. Hakan showed us The Coins Bar, which he had been shown by Jason. It was full of drunk American girls acting loud and stupid and bad "R&B"/hip-hop music, but they did have really cheap drinks (300 yen). We couldn't take the atmosphere for more than one drink, tho, and called Macky (who was watching the kids and having a small BBQ at our house) to ask if there was anyplace decent to go in Shibuya. He told us of a place, but we had a really hard time finding it, and wandered around for half an hour.

Happily, with the combination of my ketai google-ability, the local police box, and Jeff's fun-dar, we at last found Garageland. It was small, but perfect, and the bartender played The Cure, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, and stuff of a more punk bent, from his computer behind the bar. I will definitely go back there again, and drag all of my friend.

We left Hakan in Shibuya after that and Jeff finally took me to Playboy's, a small bar in our neighborhood. The other 3 patrons easily were 2 decades older, but they love Jeff there. We started with their signature drink, which is Jinro (a Korean whiskey) and green tea. Tastes like nothing, and therefore super-dangerous. It turned into a Billy Joel karaoke-fest, and I got a free whiskey-soda AND had my karaoke paid for by the guy next to me. I should do this for a living.

On Sunday, Father's Day, we took a walk to Mitsuike Koen. I took lots of pictures of the ajisai (hydrangeas) that were blooming in profusion.

OK, those aren't hydrangeas, but they are really pretty.

And here are some examples of interesting modern Japanese architecture in our neighborhood.

Also saw the saddest litter of stray kittens ever at the park. This one is obviously going to end up blind.

It's litter mates didn't look much better, and M said he and his friend saw one get attacked and killed by a crow last week. My heart was breaking into a hundred pieces, but there's nothing I can do for them. If it had been in Seattle, I would've taken a couple home and gotten them some veterinary care, but here, we can't have cats in our apartment (and Jeff would kill me). Valerie would've scooped them right up, I am certain.

And finally, here's some friendly reminders to pick up after your dog.

This is the kid's last week of school. Yea.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Izu II: Family-style

Please excuse the tardiness of this post. I have been in sinus hell, and I couldn't bear to look at the bright screen of my computer. I am still a bit foggy, so this will be brief as far as narration goes.

We went back to Shimoda last weekend, to see Mooney and Keni at the Paradise Cafe, and to give the rest of my family a chance to experience the wonderful beach.

It rained a lot of the time (it IS June), including a real hum-dinger of a morning thunderstorm, but we had enough non-rain time to enjoy the beach. D & I especially had a great time exploring the side of the beach I hadn't seen before, looking for various sea-critters.

Helen and I saw Mooney and Keni, and did some drinking with them, and some fans from Kamakura, after. Sadly, Jeff didn't get to see him because the kids were being huge pains in the butt and he had to take them back to sleep.

Due to his not drinking the same copious amounts the night before, Jeff was able to get up before dawn to catch the sunrise on the beach and make a new friend.

On the way back home, we stopped under the spiral bridge to see some of the Seven Waterfalls. Very cool.

As always, lots more pictures here.