japanesedream_72: (Default)
For those who didn't see it on Facebook, I'm back. :)

Took an extra day, 'cuz of the stupid blizzard, & I got stuck in the train station overnight (on this side of the world, of course, not the clean, efficient, heavenly Japanese side XP), but I did it.

Gotta see if the post office is open today, 'cuz I need to mail back my Japanese phone. Then I have to dig myself out of Snow Hell.

Stories & photos to come, when I'm a bit more rested & my brain's together.
japanesedream_72: (loli)
Hi. Back. Miss me?

Here's a run-down of my weekend...

Got off a tad early Thurs. night, so I spent a good deal of time getting things ready, & beginning a major project (thank you, insomnia) - rearranging my videotape collection. That's still a work in progress.

Left a little later on Friday (Xmas) morning, 'cuz it was s'posed to icy-rain early on, & I wasn't about to drive on slippery roads. Fortunately, the roads were clear, & traffic wasn't a problem. The one drawback was that there was still quite a bit of snow in the road, & my mom doesn't have a driveway, so there was no parking on her street. I had to park about a block & a half away.

We sat & chatted for a bit, then opened gifts. Here are some of the goodies I got!

Hippie-Disco T-shirt )

Kanji Camo )

Boop Boop Be Doop )

Someone will be very jealous of this one... )

And the rest! )

Additional gifts included a pink Snuggie (I got one, my mom got one, Mattie's girlfriend, Bridget, got one, & Danielle got one - plus, the twins got zebra-striped ones...can you say 'slumber party'?), electric blanket, travel-size flat-iron, little light-up teddy bear with flowers that plays "Fur Elise", another shirt (http://pics.livejournal.com/japanesedream/pic/0002ad1g/), & a pair of black jeans. Whew! I think that's everything.

Had lots of yummy food for dinner/dessert & watched bucket-loads of movies & junk. I'd brought a few 'holiday horror' videos with me, so we gawked at "Don't Open 'Till Xmas" & "Silent Night, Bloody Night". Flitted around on tv for a bit, catching pieces of "A Christmas Story" (naturally), & some other stuff I can't remember right now.

There are a few more details from Friday that I must omit, because they're VERY adult. I'll do a separate, Friends-Only post for that. But it's quite humourous!

I think we clunked out pretty early Friday night; Saturday was a bit more memorable. Mark, Danielle, & Anthony were set to come that day, so we had Xmas again!

The gang's all here! )

More prezzies! )

Oh yeah, & Bridget gave us all lottery tickets! My mom & Johnathan each won $2. ^_^


I'm kinda tired, as this has taken me AGES to put up 'cuz it's Mercury Retrograde & nothing will load the way it should (I thought embedding from the LJ scrapbook would be easier/faster than Photobucket, but I keep getting server errors). Stay tuned, I'll finish this soon!
japanesedream_72: (hyde)
It’s been a long, tiring, enjoyable weekend.

Saturday started off pretty crappily. I’d wanted to go to bed a little early, get up early, & do a few things before meeting up with Allison & Glen. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sleep until around 4:30 in the morning, with my alarm set for 6:30. Naturally, I said to heck with the alarm, but still only slept until 8:30. It was already getting humid when I woke up, which means my hair decided it was gonna do crap-all except go super-frizzy, so I opted for a little braid-work. Then I couldn’t figure out what to wear - nothing looked or felt quite right. After, at last, finding something remotely do-able, I managed to get to the bank, the shoe repair shop (my mom fixed the teeth on my one boot, but it still needs a new zipper, which the shoe-man said he could do - it’s a tad pricey, but I’ll have my favourite shoes again!), a quick jaunt to the grocery store for a few necessities (where I saw Gerald from work - or, rather, he saw me), then back home for a quick chat with my brother (Johnathan; my mom was out shopping) before leaving to catch the train.

Allison & I had coordinated beforehand, so we were able to catch the train into the City together. Took the subway downtown, to Christopher Street in the Village, where we met Glen at a little pizza shop, & chatted up a storm while we grabbed a bite to eat.

After that, we walked down to Hudson River Park, which is beautiful! It’s a long pier with little grassy areas, places to sit, & large, tent-like structures for shade, right on the Hudson River. You can see sailboats & the Circle Line ferry-cruiser coasting by, & the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We sat on the steps, chatting, enjoying the view & each other’s company.

I was able to get a few photos & possibly a snippet of video of this lovely place, before my camera up & clunked on me. I thought it might be the batteries - even though they were freshly charged, the ones that worked best are rather old - & planned to buy new ones when we found a store that had them.

Walked back to Christopher & around several other streets, going into various shops in the area. (Some of this part of our day gets a little mature, so I may do a separate, friends-only post, with regard to a few of the finer details.) There were lots of things I’d have liked to have bought - some really nice clothes, music/videos, etc. - but even though I’d brought money with me, I was reluctant to pay some of the prices for things (like $125 for a dress!). There were some groovy restaurants, as well: several sushi places, & a nifty, themed place called Jekyll & Hyde (which they were kind enough, when Glen asked, to let him & Allison walk me through).

Made a pit stop at CVS so I could purchase my batteries, which - sadly - failed to revive my now-departed camera. Ah well. I’d been meaning to get a new one, anyway. (Of course, it would’ve been nice if it could have lasted just this one day, ‘cuz there were still fantastic things to see!) Next, it was a quick duck into Starbucks, where there were glorious nature-related photographs on the walls. Several shots were of wolves! And those who know me are surely aware of my wolf-connection.

Next, it was on to another fabulous place, Washington Square Park. It’s really fantastic! Both Glen & Allison had cameras in their cell phones (why am I so behind the times?), so they took some shots for me, & will e-mail them to me. We sat there, at the edge of the water fountain right in front of the arch, for some time, talking & people-watching, enjoying the cooling weather & the sights & sounds around us. And, to think, all I had to do was walk down 5th Ave., past the Empire State Building, & I’d walk right into the place! I’ve been going to the City for 2 years & I never knew that. Thankfully, I do now.

Glen suggested, somewhat earlier during our travels, that we stop for dinner at Jekyll & Hyde. So, after bidding good-bye to the park, that is where we went. This place is awesome! Well, if you’re a geek-a-zoid tourist with a passion for cheeze & horror, anyway. ^_~

I really wish I hadn’t lost the use of my camera, ‘cuz the interior was groovy! Very old-London, with lots of Gothic horror cliché, but so cool! It was dim (they even have votive candles on the tables), with a big streetlight in the middle of the place. Everywhere you looked, there was something neat. Over the bar was a big glass shelf case with (non-human) skulls, a brain in a jar, animals preserved in glass - bats & spiders & such. A little sad, but beautiful, too. There were skeletal figures perched in various places, as well as a mummy in a sarcophagus, a caged fellow, a mad scientist, a gargoyle, a giant boar’s head over a faux fireplace...you get the idea. There were framed photos of Lugosi, Karloff, & either Frederick March or Lon Chaney (it was hard to see), & paintings with moving eyes. The staff passage was a long hallway that looked like a library, with books on shelves & such.

I found a few shots on the ‘net:

http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/18/d8/20/jekyll-and-hyde-interior.jpg

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/211/474552042_f3f515fb3a.jpg?v=0

http://image18.webshots.com/19/5/93/49/2897593490092702184sKmTZV_ph.jpg

We sat right under the wolf’s head!!

I kept thinking they should’ve brought Hyde there when Vamps was in town...he could’ve even ordered the Hyde Burger! XD They had fun names for the food. My friends got the Mummy & Frankenstein burgers; I stuck with a garden salad, though I did drink an “elixir” - 3 or 4 different fruit juices mixed w/7-Up. Yum! I took a couple of the napkins home with me, ‘cuz even the napkins in this place are cool.

There was a very fitting selection of tunes being played over the PA: horror theme songs, novelty tracks, tunes from movies. These would be interrupted periodically by the animatronic entities, like the gargoyle & wolf’s head (who reacted with the patrons, talking to & occasionally insulting them in a humourous way), the mad scientist & caged “Hyde” figure (who sort of battled each other, ‘til the scientist played “YMCA” & ‘saved’ us from the wrath of Hyde, LOL!), & the skeletal organist (who told bad jokes). The Cockney-maid waitress (actually, I don’t think she did any waiting, she was there purely for entertainment purposes, for which you pay extra ~ warning: as awesome as this place is, it’s a bit over-priced; otherwise, I probably would have asked about buying a t-shirt) was a total hoot! She sat at our table & talked to us...after first putting her head down on the table & complained that she was tired of ‘fake-cleaning’ all day, ha ha!

I can’t even get into all the details, ‘cuz it’s just one amazing blur in my mind, suffice to say I got a complete & total kick out of it, & when I told my mom about it, she said it seemed like a place she’d like, too! I’ll have to try & get her there sometime. :D

It was getting late by the time we left the restaurant, but while we needed to catch the train home, we were having so much fun, so we walked something like 20 blocks, all the way up 7th Ave., from Christopher, all the way to Penn Station! Funnily enough, even though we’d walked so much already that day, I barely noticed it. The weather was quite nice by this time, having cooled off tremendously, & we yakked up a storm along the way, talking about this, that, & the other.

Penn Sushi was closed when we got to the station, or I’d have picked up snacks & such to munch on during the remainder of the weekend (stuff I get there almost never lasts me longer than that). Next time, perhaps. Anywho, it was more yakking on the train. Glen’s stop was before ours, but Allison & I were able to continue all the way to the parking deck, where we parted company & made our way to our cars. We’d taken the train in around 2:00, & it was after 11 when I got home!

Talked to my mom, telling her all about our fun-filled day (& noting how much of it she, herself, would have enjoyed...except, perhaps, for all that walking), stayed up for a little while, but zonked out around 2 am.

Sunday morning, I once again disregarded the alarm & slept a little later. After breakfast, I ordered the tickets for myself & [livejournal.com profile] charaxinae for the horror convention. Still no sign of an events schedule, but I’m looking forward to it, nevertheless. I told Johnathan (when I talked to him on Sat.) I’d pick him up a goodie or get an autograph for him or something. If it’s the latter, I’m hoping it’ll be from Katharine Isabelle!

On to the order of the day - Wal-Mart was kind enough to let me buy the display model of a light green Kodak M320. I looked at the various cameras there for a rather long time (not my first time doing so, either), before deciding on that one. It cost just over $100, with 1-year warranty & rechargeable battery included. The lady even ’cleaned’ it up for me, since it was a display camera & lots of people touched it. It fits my SD memory card (some new cameras, you have to buy a whole new kind of card for), which is fab, too. I haven’t really gotten a chance to do much with it, but at least I have it.

Next, it was off to Woodbridge Mall, where I’d hoped to hit Hot Topic & maybe find the third live-action Death Note film, since I heard it might be out by now (with subs). I didn’t find it, but I did get what I guess is the newest D’espairs Ray album! I think it’s called “Redeemer” - I haven’t made my copy yet (I never play originals, my machines want to eat them) or looked up the Kanji titles, but if this stuff is anything like what’s in that concert video I got, it should be good!

They have an FYE there, so I ducked in on the off-chance I might find one of the 2 other “Ginger Snaps” movies. Would you believe I found BOTH of them?? I was, like, jumping for joy! Watched them both Sun. night, & watched GS2 again today (Mon.). That one has yielded an idea for the cosplay we’re doing for the convention...at least, for the character I’m doing.

The weather seemed to work against me, however good the musical & cinematic spirits had been to me: it was sunny when I left my house, drizzling when I came out of Wal-Mart, & POURING by the time I was finished at the mall! And I’d left my umbrella at home! I was not about to go out into that, esp. since I had to walk a ways to my car. So I figured I could buy a cheapie umbrella & use it, then keep it in my car for such emergencies. Can you believe I had to go into FOUR stores before I found an umbrella?? Actually, 3, but I wasn’t going to pay $14 for the one I found at JC Penny’s. Ended up in some shop I can’t remember the name of (Bilibo, or something), where I got a black umbrella with a pink handle & butterflies on it, for $5. :)

Armed with protection against the dreaded wetness (I really wouldn’t mind rain so much, but the least sign of moisture & my hair goes into afro-drive!), I made the mad dash to the car & headed toward home, with a quick stop in Menlo Park Mall to buy more over-the-knee socks (I got 5 pair for $20!) & grab some Oyako-don at Kabuki in the food court.

And that was my weekend. ^_^

By the way, keep me away from glass. Within the last 2 weeks or so, I’ve dropped a drinking glass, had a picture fall off the wall (shattering the glass in the frame), & accidentally broken one of my favourite glass bowls (which my mom gave me 2 of, so there’s 1 left, but I might not use it for a while). Ugh!
japanesedream_72: (mana)
My mom got a hold of my kitchen, & once she got started, she didn't stop! ^_^

Kitchen 1
The phone & microwave. That colour is known as "Arizona Sunset". If the photo makes it look a little streaky, it's actually a textural technique, meant to convey an antique or pseudo-stone kind of look. (I wasn't getting the effect of warmth & highlights I wanted when it was just plain, solid colour, so my mom improvised!) Hanging on the wall is one of several Italian-motif stove-burner covers one of my brothers got me for Xmas. Unfortunately, nobody realised I have square burners, but she found a very nice use for them!

My mom painted the molding around the cabinets (it used to be white), & found an old clock in the basement that went right along with the "Modern Tuscan" theme. She also painted the backsplashes, & added cork (which she found in the basement) to either side of the cabinets flanking the window. She took a valance that was too long for the kitchen windows & cut it in half (the other half is on the kitchen's other window, next to the "accent wall"). The vine banner was a ribbon wrapped around one of the birthday presents she got at the party we had for her at Cousin JoAnn's house.

My new kitchen table & chairs - purchased for $5 at a yard sale down the street from our cousin Sandy's house! The old table was nice, but too big for the allowable space. This fits quite nicely! My mom found the floral tablecloth among the things stored in the basement.

I'd wanted an accent wall - my mom & I had even looked through wallpaper sample books in one of the home improvement stores. But, lo & behold, she was taking down the old wallpaper (white with a scattering of tiny, blue & pink flowers), & after a few various layers came off, this was revealed! Strangely enough, I'd hoped for a touch of yellow to add warmth to the tangerine-like colour of the walls, & I'd been rather fond of one of the wallpaper samples that incorporated a brick pattern. So this was perfect! My mom even took a little of the wall paint & accented a few flowers here & there, just to tie it all together.

Kitchen 2
Over the sliding door to the back deck is another of my stove-burner covers, but the main thing I wanted to showcase here is the cork my mom added, where the wind chimes & hand towel are hanging.

A few Italian restaurant-esque accent pieces (courtesy of the knick-knack shelves in our basement) accentuate the radiator cover, which my mom painted.

One of the various wallpapers that had adorned our kitchen long before it was ours managed to remain intact when my mom peeled back the layers, in a corner over the refrigerator. I liked this design, so I asked her to save it.

The wallpaper didn't reach all the way to the end of the accent wall - the rest was plywood, but in swoops my mom with Arizona Sunset & voila! The wallpaper does, however, continue on the wall behind the fridge. That doorway there leads to the side steps on one side, the basement on the other.

Kitchen 3
The last of my stove-burner covers, hung, appropriately, over the cabinets above the stove. My mom painted the molding here, too (it used to be white, while the cabinets were always brown).

The artist: my mom, pictured here at Cousin JoAnn's house. This painting is in the dining room.
japanesedream_72: (kyo-love)
Yeah, that’s pretty much been my life for the last 2 weeks, lol.

Guess I should start at the beginning, last Friday night. Turns out we went to Plan B - my stepdad & Johnathan came, & the 3 of us went to Point Pleasant Saturday morning to go deep sea fishing on a party boat, the Norma-K III. It was so cool! I took lots of photos, mostly of other boats in the marina, as well as the water & birds & jetties & such. Got my stepdad to take one of me & Johnathan on the boat, as well. We got there pretty early, so we had breakfast in a nice little local diner-shanty place. Rented our poles & staked our positions on the boat. I’ve never been deep sea fishing (haven’t been fishing in any sense since I was 12), & even though I’ve been on boats before, wasn’t sure how I’d be as far as the waves, so I took a Dramamine ahead of time. Did fine. There were a lot of people on the boat, so it was a little difficult to fish without getting snagged in someone else’s line every so often, but I had a blast. Many of us caught things like skate & sea robins (we were trying for fluke), or small sea bass or fluke that were too little to keep. We entered the pool, where you give, like, 3 bucks a person, & whoever catches the biggest fluke gets all the money. We didn’t win, but I caught a sizeable sea bass (& apparently, made a few blokes on the other side of the boat a bit jealous). After numerous prayers & honouring of fish, sea, & deities, the boat crew filleted the fish (which we later had for dinner). On the way back to the marina, I got some video of the sea birds that kept following the boat & diving for the fish. There were dolphins in the distance, jumping a bit, but they were pretty far out, so it was kinda hard to see. Still cool to know they were there, though. It was only a half-day charter boat, so we were back by lunchtime. My brother bought me a t-shirt before we left.

Back to my house for food & so my stepdad could rest before driving back to PA. Actually, we all passed out for a while. Later, when my stepdad left, Johnathan & I chilled out with a couple of videos. It turned into Italian Zombie Night, with a double feature of “Burial Ground” & “Demons”.

Sunday was a big day. Took Johnathan to NYC. Gave him pretty much my standard tour - about the only thing we didn’t get to was Grand Central Station (but I still have the photos on my camera from last time I was there, so he got the idea). Started in Central Park (the 72nd St. & Central Park West route, to show off the Dakota). He gave some change to a street guitarist (said he always wanted to do that), who promptly started strumming & running off accompanying spoken-word lyrics about “the lady in black” (i.e., moi). We walked around for a bit, took a photo of a nice couple near the stairs overlooking the fountain (& got a photo of Johnathan in the park, as well), then up to Columbus Circle & back to 72nd. Only problem was, we were too early to stop off at Kumo Sushi (it doesn’t open ’til, like, 11:00), where I’d wanted to take him for appetizers & green tea ice cream - I was determined to introduce him to the latter. But, knowing that our grocery store had some (Hagen-Daas makes it), I said we’d stop & pick it up on the way home if we couldn’t get any in the City.

Did the Times Square thing, this time with lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.; I’m on a mission to get my mom there, since she’s really into “Forrest Gump”. It’s a touch pricey (not surprising, as it’s in Times Square, which is tourist trap country), but the atmosphere is nice. Lots of stuff to look at, including costumes from the film, & classic tunes for background music. Besides having the logo on the table, it’s got the names of all the cities where they have the restaurants - including Tokyo & Osaka! The service & food were good (I had a grilled chicken salad, my brother had the Dynamite Shrimp) - it was funny, ’cuz the waiter asked a bunch of trivia questions about the film, & Johnathan got ’em all right, so the waiter said he won the grand prize...all the crackers he could eat before we left. *giggle* If you donate an extra dollar when you pay the check, they put it toward saving sea turtles, so we did that. And since we said we’d get my mom a souvenir, we ordered the fizzy lemon & strawberry drinks in the light-up glasses. When you’re done, you take your receipt to the gift shop & they give you new glasses to take with you! So I have one & my mom has one.

Ducking into a few shops my brother wanted to check out (he ended up with a few t-shirts & a pair of sunglasses), & running into a starving but amiably self-promotional musician, to whom we gave a small donation & from whom we got autographed copies of his CD - he kept high-fiving my brother (we ran into him again later on our travels) ’cuz he asked where we were from & when my brother said PA, he said he used to live there - we made our way to the usual sites: Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, & 6th Ave. for the Chrysler Building, the Grace Building (I always show that one off ‘cuz it’s interesting architecturally, kind of sloped, plus that’s my mom’s name, so I call it the Mommy Building), & Bryant Park. There was something Japanese going on in the park, but we never did figure out what it was. I thought the announcer lady said it had something to do with Obon (the festival of the dead), but a) I always want to think Obon is in August, & b) they kept saying they were going to start doing something, but nothing seemed to happen. I got some video footage anyway, even though you can’t see anyone doing anything. You can hear a little singing, I think, from the 2 kimono-clad chicks, & hear the guy in the hat talking loudly (my brother said he wasn’t even Japanese), but that’s about it.

On to Kinokuniya! Had a nice, long gander, showing off the many, many appearances of Mana-sama in the Goth-Loli Bible (he really is in every issue), & drooled over some CURE articles on Riku & his new band, Chariots. But I saved my cash for upstairs, where I found myself Gackt’s MOON album (nicely completing the trilogy of album, tour DVD, & movie). Spotted a lovely something-or-other going in while we were on the way out. I’m thinking it was male, just from the body type, though all I saw was boots & denim & chains & hair (from the back). Whatever it was, I whispered to my brother that I wanted “one of those”, & told my mom later that I prob’ly should’ve kidnapped it (wonder if it was handy, lol).

From there, it was past the Library & into Book Off. Still can’t quite figure that place out since they rearranged it. They have a new gaijin working there (there used to be a red-headed guy); I figure they must hire Japanese-language students from the local university, ’cuz he understood things they were saying to each other. (*JEALOUS*) Anywho, didn’t spot a whole lot that I needed. However, as Johnathan was kind enough to treat me to lunch, I bought him a DVD of “Resident Evil: Extinction”, & since I was entitled to a discount thanks to a combination of a lust for J-rock & a Book Off member card, it wasn’t expensive. Sadly, though, they’ve discontinued the member card service, so this will be the last discount I get.

Found a new place to pick up snacks (though I didn’t get any on this particular day), right next to Book Off, Chiyoda Sushi. I’d read a bit on their menu & such, but it’s the take-out bento & goodies that drew me. We had a lookie ‘cuz I wanted to see if they sold green tea ice cream (they don’t), but they had lots of other things like onigiri & inari-zushi. Filed that for future reference.

Back to Times Square for a good romp through the Virgin Megastore, with a stop off to take a photo of my brother in the middle of the Square. Back on the subway, but this time up to 5th Ave. to duck into 1 or 2 more places, & show Johnathan the Empire State Building. It was kinda hot & a little late, & we were on the tired side, so we didn’t go in (I’d suggested a few times throughout the day that I’d take him up to the observation deck if he wanted). Next time, we said (maybe with my mom?).

So it was Sayonara to the City & back to Penn Station, where I let my brother peruse the shops, & where he picked up some of his souvenirs & some food/drink, as did I (although Penn Sushi was closed - they must not open at all on Sundays). Got another one of those double-decker trains coming home.

We stopped off at A&P for some snacks (my brother spotted the mini-canoli & couldn’t resist), & I almost had a fit ‘cuz I couldn’t for the life of me find any green tea ice cream! After taking out nearly the entire stock of Hagen-Daas, I found some at the way, way back of the freezer. Bought 2 small containers, & dished out an entire one between the 2 of us as soon as we hit the house. Talked to my mom & then watched Johnathan’s DVD, which was quite enjoyable. Promptly passed out after that, as I had to work the next morning.

The rest of the week will be a bit less detailed, as it’s all sort of blurring together. Please bear with my less-than-functional brain.

Monday, after work (I had half-days the whole week), it was off to the mall (Brunswick Square), where we went NUTS in Game Stop, ‘cuz they were having a DVD sale, something like buy 2, get 4 free! I got lots of anime, including “Berserk”! (Toshie will be proud of me for that one.) He also got a few baseball caps, some clothes, & sneakers for himself & Mattie. We both got some stuff in Spencer’s, too - Johnathan bought me a pretty cross necklace, very Goth, as well as some t-shirts in Against All Odds (I was willing to get them for myself, but he insisted, sweet boy). I bought lunch at Wok Express, where I introduced him to vegetarian sushi & the art of using chopsticks. (He was very good for a first-timer, by the way.) ^_^

After that, some necessity shopping, including the purchase of 2 spools for my weed-whacker. Never did need to use it this week - Johnathan got the lawnmower going, did both the front & back grass, & even trimmed my hedges. We also got my grandpa’s car started, thanks to my stepdad’s battery charger.

Tuesday, lunch at Panera. I had planned to take him to Attillio’s, the little pizza place we’d been going to for ages (& to Panera another day), but it isn’t there anymore! Ducked into Barnes & Noble, where we each got some DVD’s. He got a couple of “Beavis & Butt-Head” box sets. I found Herschell Gordon Lewis’ “Two Thousand Maniacs”! It’s hard to find any of his stuff around here. (I have “Blood Feast” & “The Wizard of Gore” on video, & some clips from his other films on a compilation video.) They actually had a couple others (including the 2 I just mentioned), but I limited myself, esp. since we ended up back at A&P, where I found my beloved focaccia bread veggie pizza, & then at Blockbuster next door to there, where my brother bought some more DVD’s. Snarfed the entire pizza between us that night & watched “I Survived A Japanese Game Show”.

Wednesday was the double-mall run, Woodbridge Center & Menlo Park. Yeah, they have malls where my brother lives, but he says ours are bigger. And I wanted to take him to the Rainforest Café in Menlo Park for lunch. So we jetted around Woodbridge for a bit, ducking into a few places he wanted to check out, as well as hitting my usual haunts of Spencer’s & Hot Topic (where he bought a pair of shorts & I drooled over corsets but decided to save some money), not to mention another Game Stop (more DVD’s!), then it was off to Menlo.

I don’t think we bought anything, though we did a lot of looking, in places like Spencer’s & East Meets West (I’m pretty sure the one in Brunswick Square is gone - !!! - which means this is the only one left in this area), but we did get some yummy food. As promised, I treated him to the Rainforest for lunch, where we split the Awesome Appetizer platter & had fruit smoothies. I also threw some coins into the alligator’s pond (it all goes to rainforest conservation), & snuck some video with my camera. It’s difficult to get clear footage since the place is kept pretty dim, except the statue in the waterfall which is well-lit (I took several clips anyway, including the animatronic gorilla we sat next to, the steam rising from the 'bar', & the 'thunderstorm'), though the fish tank entrance, the alligator pond, & the outside foliage yielded some nice shots. Upstairs at the food court, Johnathan treated me to dessert. He ended up with a strawberry chillata, whilst I had an Oreo swirly. A really cute girl at the table behind us passed out - I was afraid she was dead; I just looked over & she was on the floor. Her cute & sweetly worried boyfriend helped her up & doted on her, & somebody had already gone to get security/first aid. I kept looking in their direction, saying, “I hope she’s all right”. She was, & even seemed a little embarrassed at having fainted in public. It was kinda toasty that day, she probably got dehydrated.

Thursday was Taco Bell for lunch - my treat - since Menlo’s Taco Bell didn’t have the Fruitista Freeze Johnathan originally wanted. It was another pretty humid day, so we stayed in the rest of the day, doing house stuff like laundry, watching videos. I showed him some of my computer goodies, too.

Friday, it was off to the pictures! Back to Brunswick Square, where we had lunch again at Wok Express (apparently, the only place where you can buy Banana Snapple), picked up a couple more things at Spencer’s (I got him a belt buckle & me a Gothic-style heart necklace) , & saw “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army”. We both really liked it. I was kinda groovin’ on the bad guy - give me a hot, martial-artist elf who yearns to resurrect the forgotten, mystic world & I’m there!

Nights were spent watching movies. Some of his, some of mine. A little anime, too - I think Johnathan was starting to get interested in “Berserk”; we watched one episode & he suggested a day or so later that we watch another. ^_^ Of his flicks, we watched “Sweeny Todd” (I think I may buy that for myself at some point - good stuff! Though I think Tim Burton owes a lot to 80’s Goth icons; Edward Scissorhands took a good deal, just in initial impression, from Robert Smith, & Sweeny Todd pretty much swiped Dave Vanian right out of the Damned!), “Night of the Demons 2” (a little corny, the first one’s better), the Rob Zombie re-make of “Halloween” (during which, thanks to my stupid job, I nodded off, but we watched it again over the weekend at my mom’s - it’s actually pretty good, particularly in the way it fleshes out Michael Myers’ backstory), & “Saw 4”. That one was all right (it’s one of those franchises like we had in the 80s - you don’t watch them for the story so much as to see how creatively the expendable cast members will get killed off), but the best part was in the extra features - a video for the ending theme song, “I.V.”...by X-JAPAN!! The reunited original members, sans late guitarist Hide, doing a groovy song on the roof of a shopping centre in Odaiba. You can see the Rainbow Bridge & Tokyo Tower in the background! There are also odes to Hide (they used previously unreleased guitar tracks of his on the song), with shots of him on screens in Shibuya & I think Shinjuku, too. I was able to tape it, so my brother let me snag it.

As I was playing lots of J-rock in the car & whatnot, Johnathan joked (esp. after I told him about Michael from work getting into some of my stuff) that I was “recruiting”. Of course, it wasn’t long before I got him in on the act. Showed him some of the classic Asian flicks, “Ichi the Killer”, “Oldboy”, “Battle Royale”, & “Moon Child”. I think he got quite the kick out of them. I know he dug “Moon Child” ‘cuz he told me so - he wasn’t expecting it to be what it was. I love that movie so much, but it literally breaks my heart every time I watch it. I had to lighten things up a little by following the film with the finale of the Gackt concert DVD, where he brings out the film’s cast (minus Hyde) to sing with him on “Orenji no Taiyou”, the song he & Hyde did for the movie, & which has a part of its own in the story. It’s really nicely done - since Hyde couldn’t be there, Gackt, at the end of the number, sings with & to an empty spotlight, as Hyde’s recorded vocals accompany him.

Afterwards, I also had to show my brother a bit of Hyde in his element as musician (both solo & with L’Arc), & Gackt in his Malice days. Malice’s Klaha-era stuff, Dir en grey (whom I’ve shown him things from before), & Phantasmagoria were also showcased. Johnathan even picked up on some of the same impressions I’d had of certain songs - the way L’Arc’s “And She Said” sounds almost like a Beatles tune, Diru’s “Obscure” having a sort of Korn-like vibe, stuff like that. We wound up on my front steps one night chatting & he’d mentioned that he’d buy some of those CD’s. So I said I’d make him a sampler. Some of the tracks were things I’d shown him from my DVD’s, the rest were among the many I’d played snippets of for him to muse on, & when he found one he considered a keeper, he’d say, “You can put that on,” with a grin.

I designed a nice cover for it - he picked out the shots: for the front, a screen full of Kanji from a Diru “Saku” screencap I took ages ago, & a small Han’ya I nicked off the ’net for the track list:

Malice Mizer (Gackt) - Le Ciel
The Pillows - Carnival
L’Arc-en-Ciel - And She Said
Hyde - Seasons Call
Gackt - Seki-Ray
Gackt - Oasis
Dir en grey - Obscure
Moi dix Mois - Perish
Malice Mizer (Klaha) - Gensou Rakuen
Phantasmagoria - Unknow Zero Distance
Phantasmagoria - Neo Ark
Dir en grey - Repetition of Hatred
Hyde - Prayer
Hyde - Made In Heaven
L’Arc-en-Ciel - Trick
Hyde - It’s Sad

He also seems to want to get into X-Japan (I’m still trying to find X songs I can work with; their old stuff is a touch hair-metal for my taste, but I really like “I.V.”), & said if I find a CD with the D’espairs Ray song (“Squall”) that I taped at his house last time I was over, I should pick that up, too. ^_^

Saturday, up early & off to my mom’s. Between work & showing Johnathan a good time, I was pretty wiped out - that afternoon, I kept dozing off. My mom loved her cup, & she & Mattie saw the photos & video clips on my camera (some of the still shots, I’d printed on photo cards for Johnathan to take home with him). It was one of those really hot days. I went to the store with my mom to quickly pick up some necessities, buying myself a pack of those green bags (they’re supposed to make your fruit & veggies last longer), & then it was right back into the air conditioning. We snarfed Whoppers, fries, & shakes from Burger King & watched a couple of Johnathan’s videos, “Lady In The Water” & “Eastern Promises”. We blabbed about all the stuff we’d done during the week, & later had some snacks, & watched “Brokeback Mountain” since my mom had never seen it. Johnathan passed out (think I wore the poor boy out). My mom made it through the movie, & after a little foray out to the front porch (it was a bit cooler by then), we went back in & flicked around the tv a little. My mom zonked after a bit, & I flaked half-way through the “Death Note” re-run.

Sunday morning, my stepdad made eggs for breakfast, & we looked quickly at some of the extras on Johnathan’s “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” DVD - there’s a part with out-takes that has hidden patterns & such that they explain. You’re supposed to be able to watch those scenes in reverse & see stuff, like words or messages or something.

He also got “300” (which I’ve seen) & the original “Scarface” (i.e., the pre-Pacino version), which he said he’d been looking for for a while. My hitherto unlisted purchases included “The Evil Dead” & “White Oleander” (which I have on tape but have wanted on DVD), the first “Silent Night, Deadly Night” (to add to my holiday horror collection - watched it the other day, but had to re-play the ending TWICE ‘cuz I kept falling asleep; my stupid job wears me out!!), & volumes of anime titles “Heat Guy J”, “YuYu Hakusho”, “Zoids”, “Chobits”, “Inu-Yasha”, “Evangelion”, “Escaflowne”, & “Reign the Conqueror”. I’ve got all of them in varying amounts (ranging from some to all) on video, but wanted the DVD’s (“Escaflowne” I have quite a bit of on DVD, but I’m missing a couple volumes) - if I ever get my computer working right, I’ll have lots to choose from if I need to screencap!

But I digress. After a pizza lunch & the re-viewing of Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”, I got a few goodies to take home from my mom & stepdad, said my good-byes, stopped off for gas, & made my way home.

This week, it’s back to normal - working too long & too hard for too little cash with no energy or brain capacity left by the time I get home.

But that's another entry for another day.

December 2013

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