Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dukes of Vegas

I hadn't been out to Duke for their poker games for quite a while, so when I noticed on their forum page that they were planning a nomikai (drinking gathering), I decided to go show my face. It also helped that they were planning to do it at Chinese Cafe 8 in Roppongi Hills, which I've been to several times before. They have excellent Peking duck that will feed 3-4 people alone for less than $10 a person, which is a hell of a deal for Tokyo.

So about ten of us showed up for Peking Duck and lots of other chinese food and drinks. Cafe Eight is good fun -- very amusing decor as well. Someone had fun decorating the place, as the rafters are all lined with casts of tits and asses, all painted the same color as the walls so you may not notice them immediately. Once you clue in on that and start looking around, you notice the huge buddhist bell hanging in the center of the room. Most giant bells at the monasteries have a large log suspended on ropes hanging next to them, which can be pulled back and then rammed into the bell to ring it. But at Cafe Eight you clue in pretty quickly that the ringer is an eight-foot phallus wrapped in Christmas lights, and the elaborate designs cast into the bell just happen to form a three-foot high vagina on the surface to be struck by the ringer.

I've never seen anyone get rowdy enough to stand up and start whacking away at the bell with the giant dildo ringer, but it must be quite a sight.

Service at the cafe is at a reasonably Chinese level. They ignore you, speak Japanese poorly, and give you that exasperated "what do you want?!" look when you manage to flag one down to order something. It's wonderful when a restaurant makes that little extra effort to provide that final touch of authenticity.

We didn't even talk that much about poker most of the evening, enjoying the food, drinks, and atmosphere. Most of the group headed to Vegas the following week was there - Kuroda-san, Bushi, Mari, and Saeko. J.O. was going as well, plus one other who I can't remember. So there was a lot of talk about their plans for Vegas and the casinos and shows, and it got me really jealous that they'd be in Vegas the next week and I have to wait until December. Mari was trying to get people to go to "Ka", the new Cirque Du Soleil show.

Me: "You're going next week and you haven't bought tickets yet? Oh man, you're never going to get in! When I bought tickets for 'O' I bought them a month in advance and there were already only a few seats left! You're screwed."

Mari just looked slightly thoughtful and nodded. Two days later I found on the forum that she'd scored six very good tickets in the front left section with no problems. She used a Japanese ticket reservation system and had no problems -- apparently they set aside a good block of tickets for Japanese visitors that aren't available to us white boy slobs. Shows how much I know.

At one point I got into a contest with the sexy Saeko, who had seen some tv show recently that got her wondering how many states in the U.S. and had looked them up to memorize them for later. That's a pretty tall order, considering that I'm quite sure I'd come nowhere near being able to name them all and I was frigging born there, so the challenge became if I could name more Japanese prefectures than she could name American states. We both managed about 20 each, but I think I came out slightly ahead - we were all drinking and not paying the closest of attention. We should have put a bet on it. If I had actually tried to memorize the prefectures at any point in my life I would have done much better, I am sure.

Anyhow, their group of six hit Vegas for about four days last week, gambling hard, entering poker tournaments, going to see "Ka" before me (bastards!) and generally having a good old Vegas time. I really wish I had been there for that. They're a fun crowd and it would have been a blast to be there to hang out with them. Ah well. Their next trip is scheduled for July - maybe I can plan for that one.

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