[Monday, December 29, 2003]

Survived Comiket. (Was going to blog last night, but the cigarette smoke in the lounge drove me away faster than the 10 yen per minute Internet charge. Add to the fact that it's cold and dry here in Tokyo and warm inside buildings. Nosebleeds that only show up as blood clots. Ewww.)

Day 1: Arrived safely with Neffy-Poo, Ange and her sister. Will never quite get used to the six row deep switchback line for foreign passports at the airport. Chugged off for hostel. Hostel reminds me of room at U--only hostel room at U was actually larger. Went to Akihabara--there's a seven storey Animate, Tora no Ana, K-Books and more game stores than I have ever seen before. Picked up Comiket 65 guide--frickin' heavy phonebook. (I have no problems with doujinshi shops featuring drawn women with boobs the size of their heads--however, I am the only one in this group who doesn't have issues with hentai/yaoi/yuri.) Had to rest after several stores as legs were cramping. Ow, ow, ow.

Day 2: Shinjuku and Nakano. Mandarake at Nakano was good--wish I had more time. Trotted off to Harajuku to do some wish-fulfilling because Ange wanted to do tea in a cafe on Ometo-sando Dori. Was then alone as Neffy-Poo went with Ange and sister to dinner with Japanese friend-of-the-family. Went to the Harajuku Book Off. Could have cried for all the manga that was there. So near, yet so far . . . Told self that I had 'till six to browse before Shibuya. Left at 6.15 and rushed for Shibuya to wander dark side streets searching for dj shops. Found the KAC Shop. Very good for newly published dj and Copic Markers. Also go if you want to crawl around on your knees browsing through the dj on the bottom shelves. Found Meikido with ease by 7.10pm (people who go to eBay to shop for dj should see this). The sight of Japanese fangirls in a small pokey little shop flipping through dj at about 20 books per minute was heartening. Joined in because shop closed at 7.30pm. Was handicapped because I was flipping one-handed--should have taken a basket. The other Saiyuki fan and I came to an unspoken agreement to browse different parts of the shelf at the same time. (Plow harder! Harder! Faster! Faster!) Was happy with dj. Then the worst happened. Thank goodness I brought the Synflex.

Day 3: Comiket! Got up early and made way to Shimbashi and took the line across the bay to Daiba and the Big Sight. Nice view of Odaiba along the way. Neffy-Poo and I got there by 8.50am and we were herded to form the second battalion beside the first one that stretched beyond the main promenade. Scary. Totemo kowaii desu. The people in the front were probably there since 5am in the morning or something. Stood in line for almost an hour before the organisers started giving orders to move. Very tidy. You could make the LotR Trilogy with extras to spare with the fanboys and girls at Comiket. The March of the Fangirls with battalions armed to the teeth with spears luggage trolleys and shields their Comiket guide maps and wages of salt doujinshi. But it was very neat and orderly, so we managed to get in easily without fuss and made for the event halls. Neffy-Poo was a good sport to help me queue for dj. Unfortunately, the popular circles were sold out and packed up by the time we got there. Left halls by 11.30am and headed for the industry booths. Saiyuki booth was easy to find--just follow Sanzo's sullen mug. Bought the book with the Homura manga in it (at last!) and picked up the preview for Saiyuki Reload. Left by 12 noon to go join Ange for lunch.

We survived Comiket! (Even if we walked *really* quickly past the cosplayers.) Dj, dj, dj . . . But still want more. Bad addiction, very very bad addiction . . .
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[Friday, December 26, 2003]

Was packed since Monday, but had to unpack stuff like the shorts and white t-shirts my mum keeps adding in for a trip to a city that's about 6 degrees Celcius on a sunny day. My mother is weird, in her own naggy, normal way. (And she's going to be late, which I know from painful experience, and that means I won't get to the airport by seven unless I get a taxi on my own. And I live ten minutes away from the airport, which only adds to my embarrassment. I don't mean to be snide, but I'm normally on time when I'm not travelling with them . . .)

And I get told to bring the charger for the camera, because I really want everyone to know what I shop for in Book-Off, right? My dad is weird, in his own exceedingly normal, patronising way. (Then again, my dad doesn't know about the insides of certain bookshops we're going to. Eh, what do I need a camera for anyway?)

Must go buy more stuff from the supermarket that my mum always forgets to get . . .

May not have Internet connection for the next few days. Will be in Tokyo.
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[Tuesday, December 23, 2003]

Went out with most of the BIG gang yesterday. Alex is back and I almost forgot the wackiness of a full scale BIG meeting. Prince of Patties . . . Oh dear.

And only these wackos would buy Freudian bread from a well-know chain of bakeries . . .

My sister said to me this morning, "You know what that looks like, don't you?"

"I have weird friends. See, this is the bread version of Mount Doom and this is the One Bread that will rule them all."
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[Monday, December 22, 2003]

Weather is pretty cold right now even for the monsoon season. After a weekend of indulgence, I dutifully went for a swim. (Best thing to do when one feels a cold coming on--jump into a pool of cold water.)

Saw RotK. The hobbit love, the hobbit love! ("Sam, oh Sam, you've become so intense and manly! Hobbitly, whatever. Hold me!") If they don't get the little naked gold guy for special effects, I'd be surprised.
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[Sunday, December 21, 2003]

Yesterday: Went out with the friends who have known me the longest for a lot of catching up. Three hours in a sushi bar followed by 2 hours in a chocolate bar plus 1 hour of shopping. We haven't met up in ages since everyone started working, so this was to make up for it. (Watching plates of sashimi going round and round . . . *drool*)

Today: More sitting around and eating at kit's place. Will grow fatter at this rate. Must exercise.

Ange--get well soon!

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice according to the Lunar Calendar. Which means it's time for tang yuen . . .

Just finished making the tang yuen, all ready to boil in the morning:

Plain tang yuen, no filling:
- A 500g bag of glutinous rice floor will make more than enough (a lot more than enough) to feed a family of six
- Cooking oil
- Water
- Food colouring if preferred (We use red and it turns out candy pink.)
- Two large flat plastic platters
- Clean hands

Soup/syrup thingy.
- One large pot (large enough to stew a chicken)
- One small pot
- Pandan leaves
- Ginger, peeled
- Rock sugar or gula melaka or brown sugar

Pour all the flour on one plastic platter, make a well in the centre and add a little water and a large drop of cooking oil. (I don't know how much--we never measure anything.) Repeat until elastic dough is formed--stretchy but easily breakable. (If colouring is desired, three drops of food colouring in the water will suffice. Knead until evenly coloured.) Roll dough into long tubes about the width of your thumb. Pinch off thumb-length sections and roll into balls between both palms. Arrange balls separately on platters so that they do not stick to each other, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

The next morning, boil water in the smaller pot and cook tang yuen in small batches. The dumplings will swell slightly and float when cooked. Fill larger pot 2/3 full with water and bring to boil. Shred pandan leaves lengthwise and tie strands into a knot before adding to the larger pan of boiling water. Add peeled ginger and sugar to taste. Transfer cooked tang yuen from the smaller pot into the pot with the ginger soup. Boil and serve to family. Eating too much tang yuen will result in slight constipation.
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[Friday, December 19, 2003]

Went back to the lab for X'mas party. Miss the old place. They've renovated the carpark entrance and it's now an ornamental garden serving as the official entrance to the department. It *used* to be an unloading bay with a place to store the dive crew's equipment and all the tanks. The carpet grass and wooden benches with the curly metal bits look a bit out of place.

Gang at lab has grown larger by one UROPS student. He's doing his project on German cockroaches. *suppresses parental pride*

To do:
- Wrap presents
- Prepare guide to Tokyo (shops all done, train routes left to go)

For cynical humour, Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David is a good read to burn away the sap accumulated from reading fantasy novels. Despite the title, the humorous bits appear to be fewer than the grim bits. Peopled by a cast of unlikeable characters, fuelled by cynicism and ironic destiny. (Must go get The Woad to Wuin now . . .)
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[Thursday, December 18, 2003]

Christmas shopping . . . on Orchard Road of all things. Argh. Coupled with errands at the post office and early registration for Japanese classes.

Have SatC from M. Used discounts coupons in Borders--Pirates of the Caribbean on DVD! (And then, in the middle of it all, my sister called from where she was having her hair done at Far East Plaza. She said she didn't have enough in her account to pay for the hair-straightening treatment and I was conveniently in the vicinity. I almost choked when I saw the hair-dresser's bill. I can get haircuts for 10% of the price she paid and I can live with having curly hair. Am glad she's starting work soon--at least she wouldn't be perpetually in debt.)

Lab party tomorrow--potluck and I'm bringing strawberry pie. My ex-supervisor's idea as usual. I hope she'll be nice enough to spring for some wine . . .

Must trot out after dinner to pick up library books and pie filling . . .
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[Tuesday, December 16, 2003]

Have seen TeniPuri Musical, thanks to Ange. Am scared now.

Went to the Body Worlds exhibit yesterday morning with friends to check out the educational value of plastinated dead bodies. Educational, if a little disturbing sometimes. Not really that gross because everything's been plastinated. Some of the exhibits would probably be considered art pieces if not for the medium.

Duran Duran in concert last night: One thing that hasn't changed for 7 years is how the show doesn't start until 45 minutes after the time stated on the ticket. And the only thing to do in 45 minutes is to watch the influx of fangirls, the expat fangirls, the SPGs, the Japanese fangirls and all the guys who got dragged along with them. And the fanboys--who dance like the TeniPuri Musical actors. (Being local and under 25 puts me the minority. Yikes.) Another thing is how your eardrums get blasted numb when the band starts up--nostalgia.

Not as frenzied as the concerts in '95 and '96--it's been very tame around here since body-surfing was disallowed. Average age of the audience could have been another factor.

Reading: Finished Kushiel's Dart and Kushiel's Chosen without pausing much in between. Fantasy and warped-European-history. A very good read. Hope it doesn't end like the Symphony of Ages trilogy--started out good and fizzled a bit at the end. (It comes with m/m, f/f/, m/f, B&D, S&M and angst aplenty--so it's not boring in that respect. No wonder I wound up buying it. ^^) Must wait for paperback edition of Kushiel's Avatar.
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[Thursday, December 11, 2003]

Saw the parents off at the airport (with minimum fuss and no lost luggage) and went to watch a late showing of Master and Commander.

I really should stop seeing the slash in movies, but . . . it was the only surprising part. Asides from all the surgery without painkillers. *shudder* Should not play predict-the-plot with friend in cinema. (But the narrative imperative can only swing in a certain direction and you can see the a-ha moments from a mile away.)

The surprising part: Bet that wasn't in the original books. ^^ (Can't help it . . . especially when there's an abundance of slashiness. Not helped by the fact that I used to read The Bounty crossover slash back in the days when I was dipping my toes in SW: TPM.) Fortunately, there's no place on that ship that allows for the physical tussling that could have accompanied the UST.

(1st Lt. Pullings for the Looks Great in Breeches Award. ^^)

Have a few days to read doujinshi in relative peace . . .
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[Wednesday, December 10, 2003]

String of minor annoyances that just added up . . . The workmen came to fix the leak in the water mains.

*Ding dong* We need to turn off the water.

Uh yeah, okay. *goes to fill up water bottles*

*Ding dong* Can you check if the water is flowing now?

Yes it is.

*Ding dong* We're turning off the water now.

Yeah, definitely no water flowing now . . .

*Ding dong*

Can I just ignore it this time?

*Ding dong* We turned the water back on.

Okay, the taps are working fine.

*Ding dong* Okay, we're done now.

Okay. *gritted teeth* Now go away and quit ringing the doorbell. Everytime the doorbell rings I have to clomp down from upstairs to the ground floor to check. The help and my gran are of no help even though they're already downstairs.

Home phone was bombarded with recorded SMS messages from the same person who probably keyed in a wrong number and got our house by mistake. Six times in a row. Had to explain to my gran that it was a recorded message and there's no way to make the annoying recorded voice shut up or speak in dialect.

Bet that never happens when Ellie's at home. *grumpy* Things like this only happen when she's run off to a chalet with her friends until the next day.

Managed to make passable quiche despite the number of times the oven got turned off in the middle of baking by the unhelpful help.

Am also compiling Tokyo for the Anal-Retentive Fangirl Travelling at the End of the Year. Anyone know when the subways and JR stations open every day?
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[Sunday, December 07, 2003]

Plan plan, plot plot . . .

Making X'mas gift list. And shopping lists.

Have not cleared out everything yet. My sister still owes me four shelves of space.

Learned a new thing. I can play ogm files now!

Have seen caps and heard snips of the Fan Service that is Reload episode 10. (It deserved capital letters.) Looks like everyone's been taking protein shakes and doing abdominal crunches. Or something similar. Bad fanfic plot, but there's HakkaiXGojyo in a hot-tub Fan Service . . . (That still doesn't make up for the one with the killer meat buns, btw . . . )

<<<< Dumped goldfishie's stuff, kit's Hellsing dj and my Saiyuki dj on auction. (The GonouXKanan one is kit's because I don't read Saiyuki het.)

Edit: A whimper, a whine . . .

Everytime a reminder from the old fandom pops up, I get nostalgic. Then gulity. Then depressed because I'm a slow-poke at updating even though kind people have been sporadically sending me stuff so that I feel gulity at suitable intervals. Am not the fan from three years ago, that much is true.

Then I get the occasional fanfic that makes me think of the First Fandom and the days spent as an editor of fics written by 13 year olds--eh, Dee's probably heard this rant before years ago. I love grammatical fanfics, yes I do. It makes reading them easier. It makes less than average plots more bearable. It makes the smut . . . well, *taste* better. Then there are the ones that come from fans who don't live where English is spoken outside the classroom at all. And it's not just the grammar that's bad . . .

The worse part is trying to tell them politely to get the thing beta-read because I don't feel up to doing *that* right now. (*That* as in "correcting the structure of every sentence".) A part of me wants to avoid speaking to them entirely, but I have an unfortunate habit of replying to all mail. The more cynical part just wants them to sod off and read the submission instructions more carefully. Then the teeny, tiny voice of conscience rears it's head and goes Noooooooo, don't scar them! They might only be 13 year old kids who can't spell to save their lives, but you can't tell them off for that! It's probably detrimental to the developing psyche or something . . .

It's a sad thing to discover that deep inside, I still have soft spots for bad fanfic authors.
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