On Friday night, Ellen and I got together and had dinner at Paisan's. The service was really good. No, I mean it. Really good. We had a good time. I had a small vegetarian pesto pizza and a salad. Both were excellent, which is always a pretty safe bet when eating there. If Paisan's closes and does not reopen elsewhere when University Square makes way for upscale student housing I will be deeply saddened.
On Saturday I got up bright and early to go to Mitsuwa Marketplace in Chicago with evil_jim, matt_william, and our friend Sarah.
I decided that we should all have a link to livejournal, but the Sarah I've linked to is NOT the one we went to Mitsuwa with. This Sarah was the first one yielded by a Google search for "sarah livejournal." She'd probably be horrified to learn that some creepy guy just linked to her for no good reason, so whatever you do, don't comment on her journal. On second thought, don't even click the link. In fact, remind me to take that link outta there completely before I post this.
I've never been to Mitsuwa Marketplace before. It's like small mall specializing in Japanese products. Our first stop inside was a bookstore called Ayahiya where nothing was printed (substantially) in English, and where I could've picked up a Japanese copy of OfficeXP Standard for a paltry $350.00. We were looking for a couple of Sarah's college friends who'd promised to meet us there. We found them in the liquor store, bemoaning the fact that there's no good reason to purchase the world's most expensive Jack Daniels (expensive because it's exported to Japan, then imported to the U.S.). We headed to the food court for lunch, and I had beef udon on Sarah's recommendation. The best adjective for beef udon is "interesting." I don't believe I've had authentic Japanese food before. It's different. Not good different or bad different, just different. I think that I'll do some research before next time, so that I know better than to order beef udon.
After lunch, we went our separate ways. I perused the bookstore for awhile, but was eventually creeped out by the exceptional amount of not enough that the eleven year olds on the magazine covers were wearing. I was only slightly more creeped out by the fact that they're probably not eleven -- they're probably more like 23.
Jim and I went to check out game store, which is small and tries to stock too much stuff. It's probably the wrong place to look for something specific, but if it's the right place to browse for toys, anime you've never heard of, and bootleg soundtracks from the lesser-known Final Fantasy games. I didn't purchase anything there, but it was the most interesting cramped space I've been in in quite some time. Jim bought a bunch 'o' stuff and a credit to play DDR. I watched as he stomped in rhythm to remixed Queen songs, and the moment I turned my back, Jim disappeared.
In my search for Jim I wandered into the grocery store and met up with everybody else. Sarah and Matt were purchasing loads of snacks, as were Tim and Robert (the two guys I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, and have neglected to mention since). Tim (who looks suspiciously like Kevin Smith) and Robert (who suspiciously doesn't) are cool guys. They laughed at my jokes, and that's all I usually ask for. I loaded up on Pocky, fruit gummy, Honey Flavored Twist Snack (which are fantastic), and drinks with suspicious names like "Sweat." Then I went to the Yuki Discount Store to marvel at the Engrish.
Yuki's ridiculously huge selection, two-foot wide aisles and rude customers make it kind of like a dollar store in a closet in New Jersey. The selection of wonderfully weird items is just as entertaining as the poorly-translated English that adorns their packaging. My favorite was the vegetable peeler which boasted "For a smart cooker, you could peel with me vegetables! Enjoy a root no skin!" I um, I didn't buy that, but I did buy some chopsticks (now's as good a time as any to figure them out). I joined the rest of the group in waiting for Jim as he finished in the grocery store. We watched the butchers deftly slice up enormous hunks of tuna, and Matt was curious as to how it was priced. He had a look of amazement on his face as he announced that the going rate for .9 pounds of fresh tuna was $53.00. We were all astounded, but in retrospect, that's not so surprising. Fresh fish doesn't last long, so the tuna has to be caught in Japan, flown into the States, and sold quite quickly. When Jim was finished, we ran our purchases out to the car. He hadn't looked at Yuki yet, so everybody headed in there. Jim had had a crepe from the food court earlier and it looked good, so I went to get one.
By the time I came back, several Almighty Tong had been purchased and Jim had discovered a stainless-steel spork. I decided that I had to have the spork, but he'd have to buy it for me because I couldn't bring food into the store. As I finished my crepe, I decided that I should buy a few sporks as gifts. I'm sorry, but if you're reading this, you're not getting one. I took my them up to the checkout, and the woman behind the counter greeted me with a smile.
"You see you friend buy!" she exclaimed.
"Uh, yeah. That's right," I said.
"You friend buy, then you buy too! You bring more friend next time! Good for business!"
I'm sorry, but I was incredibly amused by this exchange.
After Yuki, we left Mitsuwa. It had been decided that we'd stop off at Ikea so that Jim could look for a set of dishes, and then on to dinner. We spent quite awhile in Ikea, which is understandable if you've ever been there. Jim found a few styles of dishes he liked, but they all seemed to be missing salad plates. While we were in the kitchen accessories, he found a scary-ass napkin holder (as opposed to a scary ass-napkin holder, which is located in the bath section). Dinner happened at an Irish pub which was probably called Carragh's, but I'm not sure (which has more to do with the fact that my meal was mediocre than the fact that it was a pub). The guy who served us had (what we think was) an authentic Irish accent, but the guy who seated us dropped his accent mid-sentence and did not bring it back.
The ride home was pleasant, or would have been if not for William Shatner's rendition of Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, which violates parts of the Geneva Convention and inspired this morning's post.
Today was pretty uneventful, which was fine. I mowed about 3/4 of my parents' enormous lawn, and took the What Religion Suits You Best? quiz which is popular on my Friends page tonight. I got "category unknown," and was disappointed to see that the quiz results pretty much group everybody into various Christianities, atheism, agnosticism, and a few of the currently trendy spiritualities. I've a feeling that most of the people I know who identify with a particular system of religious belief would find themselves lumped into "category unknown" by this quiz.
Oh, well. Anyway, it's bedtime.