What I’ve Been Doing 30 Sept – 14 Oct 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Oct 14th, 2013 by Dan


Just adding to my “pictures in front of ballparks with Katie” collection.

Man have I been busy! So much has conspired to keep me from getting this out until now between going to Boston and the government shutdown and all kinds of craziness, but no excuses now! We should be back to our regularly scheduled programming from here on out.


Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks deserves serious accolade for the way he played this role. It was just perfectly done and the movie itself was tense and nervewracking as things started to fall apart and the outcome (that we honestly already knew) started to become clearer. Worth seeing. It won’t be Best Picture, but maybe Hanks will get something.

Django Unchained – Watched this with Katie to add to our ridiculously tense/heavy movie tally. Still holds up almost a year later. That scene at the dinner table where everyone’s making their moves is so tense and easily the best in the movie.


House of Cards – I can’t even remember when we actually finished this, it was so long ago. The first season kind of stops right in the middle of some interesting storylines, but, on the other hand, this means that the second season will be able to give Peter’s murder room to breathe as the central conflict. I’ve never seen the British House of Cards, but I wonder if the US version is going to let Underwood win or have him be hoisted by his own petard. It was fascinating when he was being assaulted on all sides, but I’m also not sure if not letting him have some victory will feel satisfying for me as a viewer.

New Girl – They went and pulled the trigger on keeping the Nick and Jess thing and it’s turned out to be not that bad at all. So far it’s seemed that the show isn’t in danger of getting boring or losing quality because of it, which is great, but I still think that, despite the increased attention on his character, there’s very little for Winston to do that’s not pathetic or weird or just…odd.

The Mindy Project – Chris Messina is secretly the best thing about this show. He’s got incredible delivery and timing as Danny and his chemistry with Mindy is pretty great. It’s too bad I hear this show is dangerously on the bubble for next year.

Parks and Recreation – I’m several episodes behind, but I didn’t really feel the England episode. It was funny and all, but it felt like setting up the season more than anything else. That’s fine (and it’s still funny), but it just lacked that oomph. Not to mention I think Leslie’s behavior was a little out of character.

Masters of Sex – At first glance this show looks like Shotime T&A exploitation instead of a serious tv show, but man am I impressed with the way that they’ve handled the show. I don’t totally love the way that Lizzy Caplan chose to change her speaking style in the first episode, but the way that she and Michael Sheen relate on screen has this simmering heat to it. It’s just a fascinating show to watch. I read on Jacob Clifton’s TWoP recap that the show has a female showrunner and I think that’s pretty clear by the way the show deals with relationships and sex (ie: maturely and with real depth). Check this one out. It’s good.

Parenthood – After watching the first episode of this season I told Katie that it reminded me of Friday Night Lights. Turns out that it’s got the same showrunner. Parenthood has that same improvised dialog style that allows for much more natural and genuine interaction between the actors. I don’t like the show as much as I liked FNL, but I think it could easily grow on me by a lot. This style of show (ie: filled with verisimilitude) is my bread and butter, although I think the plot about the lady running for office is dumb.

Pushing Daisies – I was looking for something cute like this to watch with Katie and I think it’s just the thing (in small doses) for filling gaps in what we’re watching on a given week.

The League – I only had a chance to catch an episode and a half of this while Katie was busy doing other things, but it’s still just as solid as it’s ever been. At this point this show is what it will be until it’s done. If you like that kind of thing it’ll always work for you.

Homeland – All caught up on this one, actually. I enjoyed the Brody/Carrie-centric third episode, but I’m predisposed to like anything that takes place in Latin America with tons of Spanish in it. Drug addiction stories bore me, but let’s see where they take this Brody stuff. How cool would it be if this was how he quietly exited, stage left? I think this show would have been better if Brody died in S1. The lack of a clear-cut antagonist has made the start of this season feel kind of aimless, mostly because I’m not as taken with either Carrie or Brody. We’ll see where they go, I guess.

How I Met Your Mother – Great for aimless, distracted watching.

The Amazing Race – I’m not sure how these racers compare to all the past seasons, but I do know that this race has felt way harder than the past two seasons already. Flight drama, language stuff, bus difficulty, and tasks that have, in general, seemed more interesting. I bet I sound like an apologist to the diehards who have seen the classic seasons, but I’m really digging it so far. Too bad the NFL guys got eliminated. They were the best and they didn’t deserve to go so soon due to just terrible, snakebit flight luck.


I heard this track on All Songs and I dug it. “Make It Up” by The Blow


Nope. Maybe next week?

Video Games

Civilization V – I’ve been lagging behind on turns, but I’m in the score lead in both games, I think. Dave fell pretty far behind in the 3 Mesa game.

SMT IV – Didn’t manage to finish this before Pokemon came out so we’ll see if I actually finish it any time soon. I think I’m right on the cusp of making my big moral choice, but it’ll be a while.

Candy Box – Silly and weird and oddly addictive, but the impending release of Candy Box 2 on the 24th made me want to hold off on getting too into it.

Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies Demo – It’s nice to have this game series back. I’ve missed it so much while it was gone. The new 3D engine and the new sound samples aren’t the same and that’s a little distracting for now, but I was also encouraged by how weird and interesting the witnesses still seemed to be even though they were 3D models instead of pixel art. We’ll see if they’re able to capture the right aesthetic anyway.

Cookie Clicker – How do I even start talking about Cookie Clicker? Katie randomly came home addicted to this game and I’ve been roped into clicking cookies and buying upgrades and it’s so fun and I can’t stop clicking…:click::click::click::click::click::click::click::click::click:

Pokemon Y – The game I’ve been waiting all year for is finally out. New region, new 3D engine, new system. Holy crap is this everything you’d want a new Pokemon game to be and then some. So much fun. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say as the week progresses, but I’m also doing a Nuzlocke again (and I lost on the first gym).

The Walking Dead – Started playing the first episode with Katie and I had a really good time watching her make decisions. A lot of them were pretty similar to the ones I would make when it came to being compassionate or caring toward other people (and children), but I was also way more secretive about being a convict and I didn’t like to keep silent whenever I had the opportunity to talk. Fascinating stuff and lots of fun. I hope she continues to want to play with me.

Memories of Blue and Silver [GO]
Oct 19th, 2012 by Dan

I never pick Squirtle, but he’s still pretty awesome. (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

Way back in 1998 (holy crap, that was 14 years ago!) Nintendo Power started the long game of hyping up this weird little Pocket Monsters game that was exploding with popularity in Japan. This quirky little RPG was coming stateside and they wanted us all to know about it.

I’m sure you can guess that I was once a proud subscriber to Nintendo Power and a bigger RPG fan then than I’d say I am now. In those days David and I still sometimes shared a room. We spent many a night chatting about video games and pretending we were superheroes.

Pokemon was an instant hit in our imaginations. A sweet Gameboy game that was reliant on trading and would allow us to battle each other? It’s perfect. When you have a brother you’re close with, co-op or otherwise 2P games are always a sweet proposition, not to mention that we’d have something to do together on road trips because it was portable.

That Butterfree doesn’t stand a chance (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)


What torture, though, that the game was announced in January, but wouldn’t launch until September. Until then we were forced to look at pictures of the creatures and plan out our approach. David would get Red since Charizard looked the coolest. My starter would be Bulbasaur because it was cuter than Squirtle.

I might be mistaken here, but I doubt we even received it until Christmas. On that fine day it was finally ours and it was incredible. Our devotion to the trading game started early as we restarted our games to trade each other the three starters. There’s a memory kicking around in my head of doing this in the family van, probably on a road trip. It’s crazy to think of now, but this was all pre-Pokemon breeding. That meant we had to redo the intro and unlock trading five times to give each other a full set. Pretty involved stuff, but well worth having access to all three starters.

I used to think it was cheap that your Rival (named Dave back then, but always Min now) always picks the one you’re weak to. (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)


I name my Totodiles Albert after the Gators nowadays (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

1998 wasn’t as tough as 1997 was for me, but I was still a 7th grader and the scars of the last year’s mocking and difficulty fitting in made me wary about sharing my inner Pokemaniac. There were friends of mine who openly played their Gameboys before class, but the consensus among most of the people I knew was that Nintendo’s Pokemon marketing was geared toward elementary school students. The hours I poured into Pokemon, the afternoons I spent watching the Pokemon episodes I’d taped that morning, those weren’t socially acceptable for me. I had friends who played video games, but I didn’t have friends who were video game nerds.

I sometimes regret not just being open about the things I liked, but that’s also part of growing up. It’s why Pokemon Silver, while still an incredible and epic journey (I mean, you collect the Kanto badges too!), captured my attention a little less. It’s also why I never bothered with Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald until much later.

David just found his Red/Gold carts and I’m sure I could find mine if I started a concerted search, but I can’t even imagine how many hours must have been logged on my copy of Blue. I mean, each version I’ve bought in my adult years easily have > 100 hours on their system clocks so Blue must be even higher!

The biggest shame about the series, really, is that the Gen I and II games aren’t compatible with Gen III and beyond. Sure, the mechanics of the Special stat and the lack of Pokemon Abilities would make it tough to move those guys forward, but I really wish I could have my first Mewtwo or my first Gengar still with me all the way from 1998. As it stands now, those poor guys are doomed to an inevitable death as their battery backup slowly fades.

Thankfully Phantasma (as I’ve named every Gengar I’ve ever caught from day 1) will always live on in my heart and memories.

Remember how the anime told us to use Gengar against Psychics, but his Poison typing and poor programming meant that this was a terrible mistake? (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

Did You Know Gaming? – Zelda [GO/ER]
Jul 17th, 2012 by Dan

Some neat little tidbits I hadn’t seen or thought about before. Didn’t know that the Zelda timeline includes one where Link lost. Pretty crazy.

Did You Know Gaming? has also made a video about Pokemon that’s pretty cool too:

IBNttT in 2011 [U]
Jan 2nd, 2012 by Dan


It’s time to look at the most popular posts on the blog over the last year. I was a little more apathetic about updating this year and my traffic suffered accordingly, dropping off by ~4,000 hits. The top posts haven’t changed too much, but here goes:

Top Posts

Remixed Objection, No Yakuza 3?, L4D2 (Again), and Pokémon Cosplay [Game Overview] (402)

I know precisely why this link is top of the list. It features a stunning picture of Jessica Nigri very liberally cosplaying a Pikachu. It seems sex sells. Surprise!

The Great American Ballpark Tour: Citizens Bank Park Review [Wednesday Morning Quarterback] (391)

My ballpark review was featured in an article talking about the ivy on Citizens Bank Park’s walls and the site was flooded with viewers.

Great Dwarf Fortress Stories [PC] (347)

I guess Dwarf Fortress is still niche-y and hard to find content about online. Surprise, haha.

Mother 3 Review [Big N] (304 )

I’m still super proud of this review. It was something I worked really hard on and I think it’s one of my better reviews.

Game Overview: The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 6 (114)

I can’t believe how many hits these things still get despite it being far from what I do on this blog any more. Interesting.

Runners Up:

Otakon 2010 [Photographic Memory]
The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 10 [Game Overview]
White Guilt and The Help [FB]

Otakon always gets tons of hits come con time, but the popularity of both The Help and talking about how quasi-racist it was got that post tons of hits on my blog that have tapered off since release.

2011 Hit Totals By Month

Jan: 3,248
Feb: 2,460
Mar: 2,384
Apr: 2,722
May: 2,599
Jun: 1,960
Jul: 2,321
Aug: 2,111
Sep: 2,068
Oct: 2,412
Nov: 2,031
Dec: 2,360
Total: 28,676

I can understand the hit drop off in 2011 based on how much I kept up with blogging. We’ll see if I’m more on top of things in 2012.

New Game + For Pokemon [GO]
Nov 1st, 2011 by Dan

Chrono Trigger DS Case

The first game I ever saw New Game + in and my favorite one too!

I was thinking about Pokemon this morning (like I usually do) and I was lamenting the fact that the campaigns, while fun, are hardly difficult. The hardest battles you ever face are gym leaders and the Elite Four. In later versions of the game they added in bonus bosses or battles that were more difficult and challenge rooms, but it’s all post-game stuff and it doesn’t have a real narrative tied to it (most of the time).

I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but how much cooler would it be if they added a New Game + option with better AI on every trainer, not just gym leaders, coupled with better battle teams. It would be so much more fun if you didn’t face a guy with six Magicarp that he thinks are so awesome. How are those battles even fun, anyway?

Squeenix had it all figured out with Chrono Trigger. Beat the game once, get your standard ending and all that, but come back in NG+ with all your equipment and levels and take on a harder boss or challenge yourself to beat the game at weird times. I know for a fact that RPG devs worry about used game sales on their titles, so they feel like they have to pad them out with all kinds of cruft. Why not just include a NG+ option instead and add in a few optional bosses? Some games just add in optional bosses that require near maximum levels. The problem there is that you’re stuck grinding levels out in the endgame with no real distraction. I loved grinding out levels in Chrono Trigger by playing the campaign. It gave me something else to think about other than walking around in circles killing the same monsters over and over again.

IBNttT in 2010! [U]
Jan 2nd, 2011 by Dan


About a week into January of 2010 Eric found and installed one of the best wordpress plugins I’ve ever seen, Stats. Thanks to that, I’ve got some performance numbers for the site to share.

Top Posts

Remixed Objection, No Yakuza 3?, L4D2 (Again), and Pokémon Cosplay [Game Overview] (1,182)

I know precisely why this link is top of the list. It features a stunning picture of Jessica Nigri very liberally cosplaying a Pikachu. It seems sex sells. Surprise!

Great Dwarf Fortress Stories [PC] (412)

There’s a rather large gap between #1 and #2, but it’s thanks to Dwarf Fortress’ niche status that anything Eric or I post on the topic gets consistent hits. It seems not many other sites cover it, but people regularly look for info.

The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 11 [Game Overview] (404)

My most popular villain feature isn’t FF VII it’s an MMO that I never played and did a rather half-hearted job writing about? Weird.

The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 10 [Game Overview] (355)

Considering how popular FF X is, I’m not that surprised.

Mother 3 Review [Big N] (313)

This is my proudest part of the top five. I spent a lot of time on this review and I’m glad so many are finding it.

Runners Up:

Otakon 2010
Scott Pilgrim

Otakon gets high on the list thanks to its cosplay pictures (some of which also feature hotties) while Scott Pilgrim benefits from internet popularity.

Now for the big announcement:

2010 Hit Totals By Month

Jan: 1,733
Feb: 2,015
Mar: 2,284
Apr: 2,353
May: 2,015
Jun: 2,137
Jul: 3,058
Aug: 3,629
Sep: 3,461
Oct: 3,806
Nov: 3,077
Dec: 2,844
Total: 32,412

I honestly never expected so many people to see my random ramblings and I’m quite proud. I think October stands out as hit leader thanks to all of the cosplay pictures being used for costume ideas. Wow, 32k hits. The gauntlet has been thrown, 2011. Can you beat this?

Otakon 2010 [Photographic Memory]
Aug 3rd, 2010 by Dan

Street Fighters

Most impressive ensemble goes to the gaggle of Doctor Whos, but this was definitely my favorite Otakon cosplay ensemble.

The USA’s second largest anime convention came and went and I took pictures of it. Yes, Otakon 2010 happened, but, no, I didn’t want to actually pay admission to go in since I don’t watch as much anime anymore and I didn’t know any of the artists that were appearing, so I freeloaded along with my brother and took pictures of the cosplayers who were coming into or leaving the convention center on Saturday.


As long as there are anime conventions there will be Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon cosplay.

I’d only ever been to one similar convention before, MegaCon in Orlando, but I was thoroughly impressed by the degree of cosplay on display. Maybe it’s because it’s an anime convention and not a general comics convention, but it seemed like the majority of the attendees were in costume rather than just shlubbing it like I did back in the day.

Phoenix Wright!

I refused to leave until I saw some Phoneix Wright cosplay.

We spent two hours or so just hanging around the front and side doors (we weren’t allowed inside without badges) snapping pictures of cosplayers who didn’t mind the attention, marveling at all the costumes. I don’t have much more to say beyond that, so here’s a gallery of my favorite costumes from Otakon 2010 (sorry dialup users!).

Faye Valentine

Good to see such faithful Bebop cosplay is still going strong



No Clue, but Cute

I have no idea what anime this is from, but this girl is quite good looking, so I snapped a shot. For bonus points, check out the old man behind her looking at her ass. EDIT: It appears to be a Disgaea 3 Gunner costume.


"I can't get over how FAST they all are, it's not even fair. I'm calling zombie bullshit on that, you know? They're not...ALLOWED to be so fast." Plenty of L4D cosplay, which makes me a very happy Dan.

Doctors Who

The Tenant Doctor Who on the right was actually a fairly good looking lady. Great costume, too.

Ash and Pikachu

Anyone who visits this blog knows I love Pikachu cosplay.

Servbot Crew

A crew of servbots! Not super complicated, but it works. Makes me want to play Dead Rising...


One of the most impressive costumes of the show. This is an amazing Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke.


A MUCH more elaborate servbot cosplay.


All he was missing was a chocobo in his 'fro, but he had the L'Cie brand on his chest and an accurate magicite thing (I forgot what they were called!)

Yoko from Gurren Lagann

Very accurate gun and costume for Gurren Lagann.


I love all Ace Attorney cosplay! We need to see more Apollo Justice too!

Depp Mad Hatter

Fantastic Burton Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter


It's a shame this girl had the huge Buster Sword with her becasue this shot is so far away from her elaborate costume and ridiculously blue eyes (HAD to be contacts)


Great Red-Haired Shanks cosplay.

Bayonetta Cosplay

Bayonetta. Her heels aren't guns, but still a good costume.

L4D2 Nick

Nick's got a bile jar!

Buggy the Clown

The most fearsome pirate on the seven seas, Buggy the Clown

Otakon 071

Mihawk cosplay. Nice sword and costume!

One Piece Cosplay

A great cast shot of One Piece. I took this one mostly because I noticed Water 7 Nami in there.

Rockman X

I could never pass up Rockman X cosplay.

Super Saiyan

SUPER SAIYAN! I love the level of dedication to make blond eyebrows too


Mugiwara (Straw Hat) no Luffy. He asked me if I wanted him to pose. I said "Of course!"

Code Geass

The heroes of Code Geass

Sora and Namine

I was wondering why she didn't move out of the shot until I realized she was Namine. Great cosplay pair.

Doctor Who Crew

Doctors Who throughout the ages.


BONK! Great Scout costumes!


Better Scout Cosplay

Soldier and Engineer

I love that she's even got herself a turret!


Another convention staple, Yuffie the ninja.


"I think I hear a hunter!"


A fantastic Lucario costume that is crazy detailed. Too bad the Internet ruined such things for me by making me immediately think furry.

Team Fortress 2 Spy

I also photographed a sniper. Wait a second! It's a spy disguised as a sniper!

Dark Sora?

Dark Sora? Elaborate and awesome all the same.


Amazing attention to detail with the full L'Cie brand there too. Wow.


Growing out those sideburns takes real dedication.


Not cosplay, but my favorite part of the convention. So cute!

State of the Table: January [Uncat]
Feb 2nd, 2010 by Dan

Way less hot.

Not quite the Pikachu cosplay most people come to the site for.

Here at IBNttT we like to take a moment every so often to look inside and get a feel for what’s popular and important to people coming to the site. With that in mind, here are the top search terms and pages from the month of January (remember kids: I only started taking data on 4 January, so some of the data is missing).

Page Views

The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 10 [Game Overview] – 51 hits
(Pink) Masks [Game Overview] – 37 hits
Game Overview: The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 6 – 30 hits
The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 11 [Game Overview] – 29 hits
Game Overview: The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 1 – 27 hits

The Heroes of Final Fantasy series comes directly from the success of my Villains series in attracting so many visitors to my blog. Four of the top five are from that series while the second highest comes from a long comments discussion with readers that I had in the post.

Search Terms

final fantasy concept art – 29 hits
jecht – 28 hits
cosplay cleavage – 16 hits
pokemon cosplay – 15 hits
ffx – 13 hits

The concept art, Jecht, and FFX searches can find what they’re looking for with the links above. The other two, cosplay cleavage and pokemon cosplay, are probably a result of me posting that picture of a blonde at San Diego Comic-Con cosplaying as Pikachu in a mini-skirt and corset.

It’s interesting that my Villains of series is so popular and attracts so many views. I really wasn’t expecting that much attention for them, but that shows what I know. Welcome to any newcomers seeing this page. Maybe I’ll do a search terms post like I did once before to try and answer questions that people coming to the site are asking sometime soon.

Super Ichiban Travel Blog Part XIX: Epilogue [II]
Nov 6th, 2009 by Dan

No Game Overview today, we’re gonna finish this up since I didn’t get to it today (World Series business)

And so it came to pass that I went to Japan, saw some baseball, and came back home with a greater appreciation and understanding of Japan. If you remember the first entry in this series, I outlined a set of questions that I wanted to try and address while I was out there. Here’s what I found along the way:

1. What do they do during the 7th inning stretch out here?

I’ve addressed this myself in a previous article, but there are slightly different customs in the 7th for a Japanese baseball team. As recently as last year, there was a tradition of firing off a stream of balloons that make a streaming noise. It’s a really striking and cool sight, at least in video, but I didn’t get to see it in person.

Sadly, the tradition seems to have ended this year thanks to H1N1. When you’ve got a whole stadium full of person-filled balloons flying around, launching spittle everywhere, I guess you can forgive them for changing their mind about this tradition this year. I can only hope that it will return when the flu concerns start to disappear, but it’s also possible this great tradition is gone forever.

2. What kinds of crazy foods do they serve at the concession stands?

Yet another question that I’ve done my best to highlight as many times as I could in each entry. Each stadium had food ranging from typical American food, like hamburgers and hot dogs, to more typical Japanese food like takoyaki, miscellaneous bento, and curry. I’d say it was the highlight of the trip really, especially that seafood pizza I got in Fukuoka at the Hawks game.

3. Just how rowdy do the fans get during games?

Given the more typically restrained culture in Japan and the insistence on not bothering others (combined with the supposed American boisterous, wild behavior), I thought that Japanese games would be more restrained, controlled, and structured. I was half right on that.

The Japanese are plenty loud in baseball games, but in a very structured way, like I thought. Each team’s fans cheer for their own hitters with specific cheers for each batter, but, beyond that, they keep quiet and definitely don’t really boo the other team at all.

There’s only one rare exception: drunk fans. Since beer flows throughout almost the entire game, some fans drink without restraint and end up screaming randomly, but it’s rare. Very unlike a passionate fanbase.

4. How different is it to fly internationally on a Japanese carrier compared to a domestic carrier?

There was another article almost completely about this, but the differences are subtle and distinctly Japanese. I hoped that we might have more space on the plane, but the space was tighter, due to a smaller average size for Japanese people. Other than that, the expectations I had were all spot on. The food was way better, the service was more polite and more attentive, and, overall, I had a much better time of the flight than I’ve had on domestic carriers.

5. Do cities outside Tokyo get crazy during game releases? At least one major game franchise (Pokémon) will have an iteration released while I’m out, but I won’t be in Tokyo when it comes out.

I was a day off from catching this release and it didn’t seem all that wild out in the area, but within all the stores, the game was sold out and impossible to find anywhere other than a Pokémon Center.

6. How rock and roll do the Japanese get? If I can, I’m going to try and make it into a show somewhere.

Didn’t make it to any shows. I’ve got no opinion on this.

7. Is the fashion at Harajuku as crazy as everyone says it is?

Another shame, I was in Harajuku on a school day and during work/school hours too. I hear Sunday’s the big Harajuku day, but I didn’t see much.

8. Sumo. Great sport or greatest sport?

I’m torn on this one. Sumo is a great thing to see and experience, but I’m a little bummed at how long it takes for a match to happen. Just as soon as we’re ready to finally start, it’s done. It’s great to see and all, but I think that it might be better to just watch the highlights reel the way they do it at times on ESPN 2.

9. Is Akihabara still the mecca of electronics that it once was?

I don’t know why I end up inflating expectations on this sort of thing, but I always figured Akihabara for some kind of wild, Neo Tokyo, super-exaggerated, sprawling, mega-techno city. Instead Akihabara spans, at most, 6 blocks by 3 or 4 blocks filled with curry, music stores, movie stores, anime shops, video games, and straight-up electronics shops.

Was it ever bigger? I have no idea, but it doesn’t quite feel like the one-stop shop that it should be and it feels a lot less epic than people made it seem.

10. How much cool stuff can I find in a used game store?

Lots of cool stuff. From arcades with vintage games to the most obscure Famicom or any other random Japanese system you’ve never even heard of. The best thing I ever got were those great Mario noise keychains. Good stuff.

I wish I bought me a Dragon Quest slime too.

11. Is Coco Curry House Ichinbanya still amazing?

YES! So good. Oh man was it great. I need to go back out there or buy some curry mix and get it shipped in.

12. How long can Dave and I sing in a karaoke box before we’re kicked out to salvage what’s left of the clientele’s hearing?

Two nights, but, to be fair, we did travel from Hiroshima back to Tokyo to avoid the karaoke police. It was definitely fun.

13. Do I have the nerve to go to a public bath?

Turns out I don’t, but I also didn’t really go looking for them. It’s also possible that I wouldn’t have been admitted since there can be some anti-foreigner sentiment in those types of establishments.

14. Is the Japanese train system as punctual and efficient as advertised?

While it has its share of idiosyncrasies, the train system runs punctual to a ‘T’. Not only do they show up precisely when they say they will, but they almost never miss their arrival time. The only time a train was even remotely late was the shinkansen to Fukuoka. Even then it was only 10 minutes and I’d bet that the Amtrak never keeps it that punctual.

15. What’s the strangest item I can find in a vending machine?

Turns out nothing too bizarre for the States. Soda and the occasional alcohol or cigarette machine. Even those suckers are harder to buy from nowadays thanks to a crackdown on youth consumption of both.

Capsule machines are kind of a different story, I guess, but they’re mostly anime, video game, or sports team merchandise. Nothing like the famous women’s underwear stories.

16. Are Japanese arcades really dying?

Well, I saw a few, but it’s not so easy to tell what’s going on with arcades when you’re looking at them in Akihabara. I do know that I didn’t see all the fighting game cabinets that I thought I would, but they seemed to be doing ok when I saw them. I didn’t get enough exposure to the arcades to have an informed opinion.

Super Ichiban Travel Blog Part XVII: In Which Our Hero Casually Greets Professional Players [II]
Oct 29th, 2009 by Dan

Thats the second largest autographed baseball Ive ever seen!

That's the second largest autographed baseball I've ever seen!

The last full day of the trip! Even though I was ready to go home, it still felt like I had unresolved business out in Japan. I wanted to go home and be back in my apartment and not traveling, but I also wanted to stay and watch more Japanese baseball and chow down on more curry.

After an early morning check-out from the Tokyo Garden Palace and a short taxi to the train station, we made our way deep into the station’s bowels, down several storeys on our way to the station that housed the shinkansen bound for Sendai. Along the way I got my last taste of onigiri, only this time it finally looked like it normally did in the cartoons.

Finally, onigiri that lived up to the expectations and stereotypes I held.

Finally, onigiri that lived up to the expectations and stereotypes I held.

Deep in the cavernous depths of the station, the stations were so tall that I saw my first double-decker trains. The Poke-craze continued down there too as I saw whole trains decorated with Pokemon characters.

A summer travel-themed Pokemon train.

A summer travel-themed Pokemon train.

The train ride to Sendai was rather uneventful. Once again I failed at napping, but I did get more Devil Survivor time in and achieved another of the six or so endings of the game, but this is all boring, so let’s fast forward. Sendai is one of the major cities of the Northern part of Japan, but we didn’t really have much time to explore. Our train arrived in what seemed like the heart of the city and we left the station to go to our hotel, a grueling 300 meters away. We were too early to check-in, but our bags remained while we all spread out to explore and I set out to get Min a gift.

Pictrued: What I should have got Min. Not pictured: The book of piano music that I actually did get him.

Pictrued: What I should have got Min. Not pictured: The book of piano music that I actually did get him.

If you saw the spoiler above, you already know what I got Min. Thinking that I might see something cool in there and looking to kill time, I stepped into a music shop to see what kind of stock they had. Since an instrument was totally out of the question, I was about to head out of the shop when I noticed a huge shelf of music books. Inspiration struck and I remembered that Min is a pretty good piano player who plays both on a keyboard in his room and on a grand in a Hopkins practice room. Shelf browsing produced a book containing a “greatest hits” piano selection from the Final Fantasy series.

Unrelated: This public sink does everything. Soap dispenses from the left, water from the right, and holding your hands over the inside (closest to the handwasher) activates a hand dryer.

Unrelated: This public sink does everything. Soap dispenses from the left, water from the right, and holding your hands over the inside (closest to the handwasher) activates a hand dryer.

My next task was to find a replacement sake cup for the one I broke. Lucky for me, there was another Seibu Loft right next to the train station. After exploring the building with the music shop and seeing a convenience store and an anime/manga store, I went back to the station to explore the Seibu Loft, hoping that they would have the sake cup, unlike the one in Tokyo. Lucky for me, they not only had the same set, but an even better looking one. I decided to keep the more spartan one whose glass I replaced and get a new set for a gift.

I did see a ridiculous timepiece at the Seibu Loft that I have to share here:

When retro goes too far.

When retro goes too far.

Another welcome surprise in Sendai was spotting some Eagles-themed vending machines. Like the Carp in Hiroshima, the Fighters in Hokkaido, and the Hawks out in Fukuoka, the Eagles are pretty much the only team in their region, allowing them to spread out and create an identity for the team, unlike the over-congestion of teams in the Tokyo area. This sight started to turn me to the Eagles, but for the time being I was still wearing my Marines jersey and looking to root for Chiba that night.

Looks like the lame crushed penny machines are on this side of the Pacific too...

Looks like the lame crushed penny machines are on this side of the Pacific too...

Lunch that day was pretty cool too. I ordered a dish that was the “kitchen sink” of this omelet restaurant. It was complete with shrimp, crab croquettes, hamburger steak, a tempura shrimp, and the Japanese-style omelet that has rice nestled inside the egg.

Rice inside omelets...strange, but delicious.

Rice inside omelets...strange, but delicious.

Once enough time had elapsed, it was time to check-in and then hop on the train toward Kleenex Stadium.Miyagi. As I waited for my bags to be retrieved from the back room, I noticed a steady stream of surprisingly Marines-themed dress coming out of the elevators. It suddenly dawned on me that we were staying in the same hotel as the Chiba Lotte Marines. These were the players coming down to the lobby to head over to the stadium to prep for the game!

Instead of freaking out, I decided that I would play it cool. When one player walked by, I pointed at my jersey and then at him and nodded to show my support. Since I’d received my bags by then, I shot out a smooth ganbare as I passed by him. When the elevator discharged another Marines player, I said the same and headed upstairs to my room.

After dropping some stuff off and settling in, we met again downstairs to take the train to the JR station. Like other teams in good fan regions, the stadium station, nicknamed Baseball Station, was chock-full of Eagles decals, colors, and spirit. My kind of station.

The Baseball Station in Sendai has a lot of Eagles pride.

The Baseball Station in Sendai has a lot of Eagles pride.

Kleenex Stadium Miyagi has a pretty unfortunate name thanks to the evils of corporate name sponsorship, but it’s actually a really nice ballpark. Since the team is so new (started in 2005, I think), the stadium is filled with open hallways, bright colors, and a modern look.

Its unfortunate that thinking about this place makes me think of blowing my nose.

It's unfortunate that thinking about this place makes me think of blowing my nose.

Outside the ballpark they had a stage with live music being played and a bunch of food stalls and games for kids. Also present were these go-karts that had the names of the mascots written on them…but there was something strange about the naming convention.





...and...Mr. Carrasco...? Where did he come from?

...and...Mr. Carrasco...? Where did he come from?

Since the Eagles were having a great year (they ended up finishing in second place), they were also advertising for the Climax Series and selling merchandise, but they chose a different phrase from the Lions and Hawks.

Its super different. Now it says Go *TO* Climax

It's super different. Now it says "Go *TO* Climax"

The other great thing about the stadium was that all the employees were dressed like Gordon’s fishermen.

They make fishsticks in between innings.

They make fishsticks in between innings.

Before the game, I picked up a Masahiro Tanaka jersey, one of the two real ace pitchers for the Golden Eagles. When I noticed that he would be taking the mound for the game that night, I decided to switch allegiances and throw on my Tanaka jersey that night. It turned out to be a good choice for me, since the Eagles won 9-5 and I found myself drawn to the team, allowing them to become my Pacific League team.

Batting Practice at Kleenex Stadium Miyagi

Batting Practice at Kleenex Stadium Miyagi

The only real downside of the Golden Eagles is that they suffer from too many mascots. Aside from Clutch, Clutchina, and Mr. Carrasco, there were two walking cacti, a hawk-man with wings and talons, and three gnomes. Too many mascots…

You can see tons of the mascots in the distance.

You can see tons of the mascots in the distance.

Another great thing was this group of drunk salarymen whose boss had way too much to drink. All game long (that he was there for), he was yelling and rooting for Todd Linden, no matter who was up. It was hilarious and the crowd around him started to join in and scream about Linden too.

The outfield and the scoreboard.

The outfield and the scoreboard.

The game was fun, but the most hilarious part was when I got back to the hotel. Right when I arrived, staff was setting up spaces for people to wait for the players to arrive, but I quickly noticed that all of the fans awaiting the players in the hotel were young ladies. I got to walk past a bunch of groupies who cared nothing about me on my way up to my room. Another crazy early morning was ahead of me. The last day…

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