This post won’t be as long as my E3 one, but it will probably still be pretty long. Also note that I spent over an hour writing this, but then Firefox decided to crash on me (does that even happen?) so I lost the whole thing. This second version will either be better and more concise, since I’ve already done it once, or worse because I am tired and lazy. We all got together this past weekend for the second A-Team reunion. It was an awesome time; better even than Halloween I think. Bryan lives in Chicago, Ari was able to shuffle his flight back to LA from school, and Seth Brian and Nick had interviews at AEON on Thursday. So everything kind of worked out and we got to all meet up and be awesome.

I drove up on Wednesday afternoon with Nick and Brian. Arrived later than planned (as Ari predicted), and we played Cube for the night. Good times. The next day, Ari and I went to go meet up at Brian’s hotel downtown, where he and Nick stayed so they could be close to AEON. Seth and Mikey got in early that morning from their Amtrak ride. Me, Ari and Mikey went to lunch with Bryan while the other 3 got ready for their interviews. We got some Giordano’s Chicago pizza, and there was a typhoon so Bryan had to take a 2 hour lunch break. Oops! Anyways, after that me Ari and Mikey went to explore downtown Chicago a bit, since we had an afternoon to kill. one hell of a bean We first stopped at the giant bean, which is massive and shiny, as you can see in our reflections here. After that, we went to some tourist information building to get out of the rain, and some overenthusiastic guide there was telling us about some of the buildings and stuff downtown. According to him, almost everything we asked us about “incidentally, is the largest ___ in the world,” which I didn’t really believe but it was funny anyway. Eventually decided to go back to the AEON building to meet up with the other guys, but this turned into a 2 or 3 hour walk around all of Chicago, since we kept getting lost. We passed about 30 each of Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and McDonalds as well. Eventually, met up with everyone, and went to Shin Jung for yakiniku paradise. Good (no, amazing) as always. Mikey re-established Chicken County, which was later invaded by calbi town, haha. I ate so much there that I was pretty much “drunk on meat” and was tired as heck. As soon as we got back, after parking about 15 minutes away (residential parking in Chicago sucks, more info later), I passed out for the night.

Friday was a pretty lazy day. Ate at this Mexican place near Bryan’s, where the cook looked like Horatio Sanz and had some mysterious stains all over his apron. It was a good burrito though. Drove downtown to pick up Brian and get everyone’s stuff out of the hotel, which took a long time since traffic and our directions were pretty bad. After that mini-adventure, we went to the Tower Records on Clark for an autograph session with some of the Play! Symphony people. Watched Angela Aki perform her theme song for Final Fantasy XII, and got her signature along with Nobuo Uematsu’s (the guy that composes all the FF music). Arnie Roth, the conductor for the symphony, was also there, but I didn’t know it was him since he wasn’t really signing stuff, and I just thought he was a translator. I don’t think I’m the only one who made this mistake. Mikey had Uematsu sign his DS, and I heard Uematsu say “もったいないですな,” which means “what a waste/shame,” trying to imply that he wasn’t worthy of signing the DS (a way of humbling himself). It was cool to hear him say that. Also Angela Aki happens to be the daughter of the president of AEON, so that’s a kind of cool connection.

The next day was pretty much our nerdiest day. We woke up and got breakfast at this place near Bryan’s, some diner, then on the way back went to an old arcade that was kind of dark and outdated, but still cool because they had some decent games including Time Crisis 2, which is always fun in the arcades. Went back to Bryan’s and did our routine of playing Gamecube and watching MXC on Tivo while taking turns showering and using the bathroom, which with 7 people usually took about 2 hours. We drove out to Mitsuwa, the Japanese shopping center, to do some grocery shopping and for dinner. Had miso ramen for the first time in almost a year; it was great. There were a lot of nerds and otaku at Mitsuwa, as predicted, including this chick in a green shirt that we couldn’t tell if she was pregnant or just fat. Either way she was butt. I got a picture on my cell phone, which became the “Yuji scary face” trick picture for the rest of the trip. After Mitsuwa, we went to the Rosemont Theatre to see the Play! Symphony, which was kind of a last minute plan but definitely worth it. It was an orchestra performing video game music from Final Fantasy, Mario, Zelda, and a lot of other sweet games. It was a really good performance, with the only negative being the idiots in the audience, almost all otaku and other social ingrates who don’t know how to act in public let alone in a symphony hall. I mean, it’s video game music, but still you have to have some respect for the performers. People would yell things out, laugh, and etc at inappropriate moments. I felt bad for the conductor and orchestra. Koji Kondo (wiki article here), the guy behind video game music such as the Mario theme everyone knows and Donkey Kong, etc did a solo piano performance of the New Super Mario Bros theme, which was awesome. He was rocking out on the piano, and idiots in the audience were laughing and stuff. I really wanted to go kick some people in the face, but I just sat back and enjoyed the music. I could have done without the PC game music (the nerds loved it though), but overall a great concert, no matter how nerdy.

Sunday we woke up and did our normal routine of taking turns showering and getting cleaned up and playing Cube while waiting for people . We headed out to see X-Men 3, which was pretty good. A little cheesy at times, but for a comic book movie it was good. Worth watching for sure. I won’t spoil anything, but definitely stick around after the credits for the secret scene if you go see it. Arclight (I think that’s who it was) had the worst haircut ever; short and greased up but with a thick curly-Q on the front. Me and Seth kept cracking up everytime she showed up. At least I think it was a chick; couldn’t really tell. After the movie, we went to get some more Chicago pizza, then walked around Northwestern campus. It’s a lot different from IU, but still pretty nice. We saw a sign for a Bunkasai, but it was already closing up. Walked around for a few hours, including around their lake, where we saw some old guy on a tandem bicyle playing old showtunes or something on a book box. Come on! A-Teaming Wrigley Went back to Bryan’s to hang out and reminisce about the old days in Japan, going through the old stories, making fun of the scabes, and watching the Spider-Man video. Good times. After Bryan shotgunned 3 beers, it was time to go out and get some late night food. Mikey was in top form, kicking stuff, running off, tachi shonben-ing, etc. We passed on the McDonalds walk-up widow line and went to IHOP, which was close but just so happened to be in the gay district, meaning that the clientele at 2AM there was very interesting to say the least. I didn’t know that anyone actually rocked the leather pants and leather vest with no shirt, but I saw it there. Brian, who was wearing a Parks Department shirt or something, got hit on by some old guy, which was hilarious because the conversation went as follows.

Guy: So, do you work at the parks department?
Bryan: Not anymore.
Guy: Oh, so you used to?
Bryan: No.

That was hilarious. I don’t know if Bryan was even coherent enough to know what he was saying, but it was genius. After that, the old guy went back to his table and high-fived the guy he was sitting with.

BBQ in the backyard

The next day, Monday, was Memorial Day, so Shin Jung was closed. Bryan found another yakiniku buffet place, but they wanted to charge dinner prices, so we all decided against it because we were all very poor by now. Grilled burgers and hot dogs at Bryan’s place, which was good times. A fine wrap up to the A-Team Reunion. Oh but the adventures don’t stop there. The previous night, I had parked next to Wrigley Field, which is a few blocks from Bryan’s apartment. The sign said no parking on game days, and I figured there wouldn’t be a game the next day, and there were other cars on the street at like 11 when I got there. After the BBQ, I’m walking down the street and see all the commotion and crowds at Wrigley. Yeah. There was a game alright. I got that sinking feeling in my stomach as I got to the street, and I knew what was coming. My car, along with any other cars that might have been there, were gone; towed. Bryan gave us a ride to the impound that afternoon and after waiting in line for a long time, I finally got things straighted out. Since the car is registered to my parents, I couldn’t pay with credit card and had to go get cash. There were some girls there that were having the same type of problems, so we all went together to get cash at an ATM a few blocks away. On the way, we passed by a mini-gang of like 9 15 year olds, one of whom was carrying half a bottle of brandy or something (hobo brand, I’m sure). Not soon after we passed them, they threw a bottle of OJ and booze at us! It didn’t really get or splash us that bad, but it was kind of funny. I’m not sure if it was because they heard me mention the brandy to Bryan, because I was Chinese, because everyone else I was with was white, or because there was Cubs and Cardinals and college clothing among the group, but whatever. Wasn’t worth trying to do or say anything.

After waiting in lines for another 30 minutes or so and paying my hefty $160 fee, I got my car back and we were home free. I wasn’t that upset, since it was pretty much my fault for parking there, but you still have to complain when stuff like that happens. I figure it’s just karma for the 0 tickets I’ve gotten at IU, even when I part in ridiculous spots like the fire lane at the Union. Apparently there was a curse on all of us, because Ari’s flight got delayed to the next day for weather related problems (there was line of 100 planes waiting to leave O’Hare), and Mikey and Seth’s train was delayed at least a few hours. Chicago just didn’t want us to leave. Got back home to Bloomington a little after 1AM.

It was a great weekend overall, got to see everyone and live up the good times from Japan. I think most if not all of us will be back in Japan to work this coming fall, so the next reunion just might be at Y’s, where we will reclaim the holy ground. 夜露死苦! 機械犬! ワンワン!