japanesedream_72: (Default)
Those were the top 3 questions I got when I first posted the notices about the holiday cruise.

Well, it's come & gone, & I guess we pulled it off okay (even if it almost killed me!). We found one or 2 tiny glitches to iron out for the future, but overall, I think everybody had a good time.

I'll try & do a bit of a write-up on it soon, but for now, here are a few photographic highlights:

Won't you let me take you on a sea cruise? Me, Matt, & my mom in front of the boat. Due to cancellations, & was able to bring her, too!

Room with a view. This was actually on the other side of the dining room, but there was so much to see, I took pictures out of every window - all from my seat! The zoom on this camera is great.

There she goes... We stopped by a few sights, like the Statue of Liberty. I got LOTS of shots of that, at various angles & distances. We got to go out on the observation deck for those.

No, it's not the 3 Stooges, or even the 3 Musketeers, it's me, Mattie, & my mom. Oh, & that Liberty chick. Photo by Jessica, from Sales. EDIT: She took 3 shots of us, & since my face looks weird in that one, I thought I should post the other 2.

Point of entry. Ellis Island, where some of my ancestors (& probably, some of yours) came into the country, many moons ago.

In a New York state of mind... The Brooklyn Bridge - we went under it!

So much to see! Another scenic shot, featuring the Empire State Building.

Doppelganger! There was another boat from the same cruise line touring at the same time as us. But I think they were from the NY side, & ours was from the Jersey side.

Oh yeah, there's a party going on... I took so many photos of the scenery, it took me a while to remember to take some of the people! Here are a few of my co-workers, gettin' their groove on.

Death goes dancing. I still felt like hell, but Ashley & Sherry pulled me up on the dance floor anyway, just for a minute or 2. Which was long enough for Heriberto to snap this photo. Just so you all know, I cannot dance to save my life. I'm happier in a mosh pit, to be honest!
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.

August 2017

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