Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wine is Fine?

So, I was at work on Friday and about 15 minutes before I was going to leave, the doctor called from Minakami hospital and said that my blood test results were already done. So, after work, I headed to the hospital and talked to the doctor. I was pleasantly (and a bit skeptically) surprised to find that my uric acid level had already dropped as low as 3.9. This is a big jump from 10.7. I guess the medicine was working. The doctor said that I should reduce my dosage to 100 mg a day for the Zyloric. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of pain in my joints (mostly my legs and feet) but he says that the nerves are going to continue to be agitated by the uric acid crystals as my body continues to slowly break them down. Basically, my blood is no longer depositing new uric acid into my joints, but there is still plenty of old uric acid still stored in my joints, so I may continue to suffer gout pain for a while. I told the doctor that I had been trying to avoid drinking and he said that I could drink red wine. He said that red wine wont raise my uric acid level and I should be fine drinking it normally as I would any other alcohol. I just need to make sure I stay hydrated pretty much and I should be fine. I was quite pleased by this news. Even though I don't drink it often, I actually like red wine so im more than happy to drink that over nothing and at least I can still get drunk.

The doctor also said my iron levels were still quite low, so he gave me another injection of Fe. He said to come back in about 2 weeks for another blood test.

After seeing the doctor, I headed to the store and bought a bottle of red wine for the evening. I spent the night chilling at home drinking with Ryoko. I drank the whole bottle while Ryoko drank some whiskey.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I felt fine for the most part. I still had gout pain but it was no different than I felt before I drank the day before, so the wine seemed to have no real affect on my gout. Fuck yea!

Ryoko and I had some spaghetti that I cooked together and then she had other plans for the rest of the day to hang out with her lady friends for a girls night out where they will gossip and talk about girl stuff so it was no guys allowed. So as a result, I went to Tokyo alone.

After arriving in Tokyo I headed to Mikado. I was surprised to see that they were taking sign ups for a GG tournament. It was a 5 player team tournament. I signed up on the list alone to be paired with a team later. Shortly after, some guys came up to me and asked me if I had a team yet. I said no, so they asked me to join their team and I agreed.

My team was:
Me (FA)
Ojima (FA)
Tsu (ED)
Robo-Ky player (cant remember his name)
Millia player (also cant remember his name)

I have teamed with Ojima and Tsu before and they are both really good. The Robo-ky is usually kinda decent but today he was playing extremely solid. He beat me twice in casuals before the tournament.

Our first match was vs a team of
Kakishi (AB)
Gaku (RO)

Gaku and Kakishi are great players and the other guys were pretty good but I dont know their names.

Our MI player went first and beat HOS.
Then May beat our MI player.
Then our RO player beat May.
Kakishi beat our RO, Ojima, and myself. I did alright but fucked a combo up that sorta cost me.
Up last was Tsu and he beat Kakishi, Gaku, and the ED player for the win!

We advanced to the 2nd round.

I noticed that while we were playing our match, that on the cab next to us, none other than Shinjn the Swedish Baiken player was there! I was surprised to see him and said hi. He said that he was just in Tokyo for a few weeks and would be leaving for Kansai after that for about a week and then returning to Sweden. We had a discussion about the current state of the European GG scene. He said that there arnt really any majors anymore and people lack motivation to play very hard. He said that his local scene still plays, but that people have no inspiration to really play competitively since there are no tournaments to practice for and that people just sorta play and hang out sometimes. He said most of the European GG players arnt even playing anything else. They just don't have any GG tournaments to keep them motivated. Its a real shame but the US scene seems to be more or less the same as far as people not playing much GG. Hopefully the community can take more initiative to run their own majors to increase interest again. I also hope that The Midnight Carnival GG podcast will inspire some people to play again more. I realize that is very difficult to get the scene going again and what it really needs is AC with good online (or a new GG) but until then, hopefully people will come out and support the big GG tournaments that people actually DO throw such as Evolution GG side tournament, Chicago Heart 3, and other majors in the US and Europe that people make an effort to throw.

Anyway, our next match in the team tournament was vs the team of:
Nage (FA)
Ochiai (nice PO guy)
Hayashi (footsies KY)
Ain (KY)
JA player whose name I don't know.

We found out that their first player would be Jam. They asked me if I could handle Jam. Funny thing was, I played against this guy about 3 times before the tournament in casuals and lost all of them. However, I didn't feel like he was unbeatable and just needed to step up my game. I said I would go first and would handle it. So, I payed really solid and ended up winning both rounds. If I remember correctly I even dizzied him in the final round.
Up next I fought against Hayashi. I predicted he would start the round by throwing a stun edge and he did, so I air dashed over it right away and cought him with a string of normals. I was doing alright but I sorta made a few execution mistakes and I could have won the first round but sorta screwed up and it cost me. The 2nd round I lost as well, unfortunately.
Hayashi continued his reign of terror and in turn took out our RO player, our MI player, and Ojima's FA all in a row. Finally Tsu's ED came to the rescue and took out Hayashi but unfortunately was defeated by Ain's Ky. Nage and Ochiai just chilled in the background.

Unfortunately that as the end for our team in the tournament. We all thanked each other for teaming up and then I went back to playing casuals for the rest of the night. I fought Karun's Jam and beat him on the first try but then he went and played me 3 more times and beat me. Oh well, at least I beat him. It always feels good to do so since he's a hater. I played a bunch of other matches and players as well but dont remember much noteworthy stuff. Ochiai played me once with his Ky (his 2ndary) and beat me. He has a pretty solid Ky actually.

BTW... I didn't see the finals but I am pretty sure that FAB's team won the tournament. I forgot who was on it but it was all really good top players like Mitsurugi and some other people.

I stayed till closing and then got on the train. Soon after, Ochiai, Ain, and one other guy got on the same car and sat across from me. Ochiai said hi and good game from earlier. I rode 2 stops and then said bye to Ochiai who by that time was already starting to pass out on the train.

I then went to Current. Tonight was a metal event. It was a fairly standard metal event. Not as huge as some of them have been but not the worst one either. A few regulars were in and out throughout the night. This one chick got really drunk and her boyfriend broke up with her, so she was sorta being babysat by her friend. One of the DJs was wearing an Iconoclast shirt which was awsome, but he didnt play any songs from it while I was there unfortunately. Also, some chick was wearing wings and devil horns. and had a tight leather outfit with a concealed sword in her satanic looking cane... which was pretty awsome, but I was lazy and didn't take any pictures. I talked to various people and chilled drinking wine. The staff was a little confused at first when I ordered the wine cuz they thought I couldn't drink at all but I explained that wine was OK. Other people were just surprised to see me drinking wine simply because I pretty much never order it at the bar, but it was all good. Unfortunately Current's wine is 600 yen a glass and isn't very good wine but it got me drunk so whatever.

I stayed at Current till around 3 and then I headed to GODZ cuz some people were there earlier and said it was really packed and went back there. Unfortunately when I got there, most everyone had already left and it wasnt so packed. I sat next to Indian dude and chatted with him a bit. One thing that sucks is that GODZ's wine is 800 yen a glass which is really expensive but its slightly better quality than the wine at Current. I paid for my wine with a 5000 yen bill and Kenji put it on the counter under an ash tray while he poured the drink and forgot about it (but he did give me my change). Later, Hide, the other bar tender, came by and asked if it was the 5000 yen that I paid. I said it was. He the proceeded to put it in the register and was going to hand me change (4,200 yen) but I told him that I already got change from Kenji. A few seconds later, Kenji walked by and overheard our conversation and they both thanked me for being so honest saying that a lot of people would be dishonest and try to get the free money. I told them I like their bar and didn't wanna screw them over. They thanked me and played 2 songs off of Iconoclast without me even asking lol.

Soon after, Chip showed up. He was at Current earlier. We talked for a bit. He was telling me how he was going to go to the Amorphis show last week cuz the bassist invited him (since he knows him) but he couldnt end up going but at least got to meet up with him in Osaka for drinks (as Chip was traveling at the time). He was also telling me about some sorta new rock bar in Osaka thats run by a transsexual lol. He said its not very good.

I stayed at GODZ till about 4;15 when my wine was finished (I sipped it slow). I then considered going to PSY but there was a sign outside that said it was Michael Jackson night and i could hear "Heal the world, make it a better place..." blaring from within the door. I wasnt really in the mood to listen to that so I considered going back to Current, but the problem was that on metal event nights they finish up at 4:30. I walked towards there and someone who was at Current walked by and he told me that everyone was already leaving. I sat down in the smoking area by the McDonalds and had a smoke while I thought about what to do. Then Mandi and this other chick walked by and saw me and insisted I go to PSY with them lol. So... I did. Fortunately, even though it was Michael Jackson night, I guess they got it out of their system and didnt play anymore MJ songs while we were there and took lots of requests, which is what PSY is always awsome about. I had another wine (which is unfortunately also 800 yen at PSY but also better than Current's wine) and chilled for a bit. Other than the 2 girls I came with and myself, there were about maybe 4 other customers in the bar, plus Toru and Natsu. I stayed till a little after 5 and decided to call it a night and went to the manga kissa.

The next day I got up and headed to Shinjuku Sportsland because the new fighting game Aquapazza just came out in arcades and I wanted to try it out. I would have tried it at Mikado but they didnt get it. Upon arriving at Sportsland, there was some kind of Gundam game event going on and they had like 20 cabs set up near the entrance of the 3rd floor, and it was really hard to get passed the sea of people in the way.

So, Sportsland had 2 cabs of Aquapazza. There were 2 guys playing against the computer, one on each cab, and neither looked like they knew what they were doing yet, so I decided to play against one of them to try the game out. I tried out 3 different characters (I dont remember the names... one was the archer girl, one was the samurai girl, and one was the barbarian looking chick with the sorta heavy lookin sword). The game feels kinda stiff and generic but to be fair, I didn't really know what was going on to well. I havnt really read up at all about the game before playing it. The thing I guess that I liked about the game most were the assist system. It reminds me of MvC1 where you choose your assist before the battle starts (except its not random like in MvC1... but I know there were codes to get passed that in that game). The game only has 10 characters and 4 of them are generic looking school girls. I may have more appreciation for the characters if I was actually familiar at all with the separate series in which they all came from (as they are all from other games/manga) but I am not, and find most of the cast to be sorta boring and generic looking. The guy I fought was using the big sword girl. I managed to beat him in that mirror match and then lost. I lost with the other characters I used. The game could end up being good but I really dont know if I feel like investing time and money into learning it. None of the characters seemed to appeal to me and the engine feels kinda generic.

I figured I would check out Club Sega Shinjuku since I hadn't been there in a while. They had 4 Aquapazza machines and they were all being played, once again by people who sorta seemed like they knew what they were doing. I watched a bit but didnt play. I was sad to see that Club Sega Shinjuku now only has 1 GG cab. Also, MIU was there working. I wanted to say hi to him but he was busy announcing a match for a tournament he was running for work so I didn't want to bother him (I dont remember what game it was).

After that, I went to Takadanobaba and I got an awsome cheese pizza and salad at Saizerya (which is actually a great meal for my gout) and then headed to Mikado. Mikado was dead as hell as far as GG. Only 2 guys playing. I beat them once each and they left. I didnt wanna wait around since there were no GG players in sight. Actually, Kyle (Stunedge) mailed me earlier saying he was now living in Ikebukuro for about 3 months and invited me to come hang out. He said he would be playing at Ikebukuro GIGO today. I asked him if there were any people playing GG and he said there were, so I headed over there.

They had 3 GG cabs and they were all full when I got there. Also, that one Jam player dude who has the hot girlfriend who plays Sol pretty well were there. I gave them a nod hello. They were playing on another cab though so I didnt get to play them.

I beat some other Jam and then Kyle challenged me with his Ky and I won. Then some May player beat me twice. At his point Kyle wanted to go check out another arcade cuz he wanted to try Aquapazza. They had 2 cabs at Gigo but they were all full and the people seemed like the knew how to play pretty well already. So Kyle, myself, and his friend who was another BB player that was with him, went to the other arcade, Game Safari. They didnt end up having Aquapazza so we just gave up and went back to GIGO. Shortly after, Kyle said his girlfriend wanted to spend time with him so he left. I continued to play GG. I got a 14 win streak, mostly against some HOS who was very persistant and not bad but he couldnt beat me, and a Baiken, and a Ky. Then, no one was playing me, so I beat the game. I decided I would give SSFIVAE a try. I played some Master Ibuki who beat me up.

I went back to play more GG against some Eddie player. I beat him 4 times and then he quit. He was the only one left playing and no there was no one else to challenge me. I beat 4 stages vs the computer and then just gave up on waiting and got off the cab. I watched more Aquapazza and some dude was using the mage chick character and tearing it up. He had 17 wins and was already doing stuff that look broke. She seems like a great zoning character. Maybe I should have tried her out. I didn't really feel like paying 100 yen a game though vs that guy. I played a little more SSFIV and lost to the Ibuki like twice more. Then I fought this one Ryu who was really good and he beat me and he also was beating the Ibuki over and over. I think the Ibuki was starting to get pissed. I fought a Zangief and won and then I had to fight the master Ibuki again and I beat him this time. I think he was getting angry and started to play sloppier. He played me again and I lost. I fought the Gief a few more times and won and then finally lost to him. At some point I went and got more Saizeriya which was right next GIGO, too. Kyle never came back. Once it was time to leave I just headed out and took the train home.

Overall it was a pretty fun weekend. Got some good GG games in, and I am very glad that I can drink again (even if its just mostly red wine). I'm unsure about my plans for next weekend since there's nothing going on yet as far as I know but I will post again if something cool happens.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Gout Battle Continues (plus live Finnish metal and the crazy old doctor)

Before I start this blog post I just wanna quickly plug the new weekly Guilty Gear podcast called The Midnight Carnival. Its hosted by old school GG players KBNova (Kenji Bliss), J1n (Jason Kim), and Klaige (Travis Nible). Please tune in and check it out!

Two weekends have gone by since my last blog post.

After I was diagnosed with gout over the phone by the doctor 2 weeks ago, I figured it would be good to get some medicine for it. I went to Tsukiyono hospital (a local hospital in my town) and explained to them that I was diagnosed with gout by a doctor at Takadanobaba hospital. They took my word for it but they did another blood test. They wouldn’t know the results until later but they went ahead and prescribed me 100 mg of Zyloric and gave me about a 2 week supply. (A quick note, Zyloric is a brand of the drug allopurinol which is used to lower uric acid levels which causes gout. Using it while you have gout in the first place can actually make gout worse at first. I found that after starting the drug my gout was a little worse but in the long run it should help.)

The follow day (Friday, June 10th) was Andy’s birthday celebration. He was going to have a sorta birthday party in Takasaki at a fairly new restaurant called Kiwi Café. Kiwi Café is actually owned by Grant, the New Zealander who we often play poker with in Maebashi. I decided I wasn’t going to drink to try to get my gout back under control so I drove there. About 20 people showed up (all other ALTs) and we had all you can eat pizza. The pizza was actually excellent and was some of the best pizza I’ve had in Japan. Since I couldn’t drink, I ended up smoking cigs most of the night. We stayed there till about 11 and then about half of us had plans to do karaoke. I was able to leave my car in front of Jen Park’s house (she is another ALT who lives near there). I noticed around this time that I was having another gout flare up. Im not sure what triggered it but it was either the smoking or too much pizza.

When we got to karaoke, everyone wanted to get the all you can drink package for the room. I originally wasn’t going to drink but I caved in and ended up getting a glass of red wine… which led to many glasses of red wine. Wine is supposedly the least harmful alcohol for people with gout problems. I was already having a gout attack so I figured a little wine wouldn’t matter much. It’s difficult for me to not drink when everyone else is getting drunk and having fun, plus I don’t really like doing karaoke sober. Also, the karaoke room next to us was like this huge party size room and it was full of like 30 drunk Japanese people in their 20s. They invited many of us to come hang with them and it was just rowdy as hell in there; pretty amusing. Karaoke was fun and because I drank, I couldn’t drive home, but was pretty tired anyway. A few people were already crashing on the floor at Jen Park’s so she said I could crash there too.

I got up the next morning and drove home. I spent the rest of Saturday spending time with Ryoko at home and not drinking. Also, the new Symphony X album, Iconoclast, leaked on the internet that day so I DLed it and listened to it a few times. I must say, I think it’s a really solid album and there isn’t a single song on it that I don’t like. I wouldn’t say it’s their best work and it certainly isn’t flawless, but I am really digging it and will be enjoying it for a long time. Ryoko slept over and then on Sunday we went to a petting zoo that has lots of farm animals. It was alright I guess. There was this guy from New Zealand who was in charge of the sheep dog show which I found amusing. He LOVES the sheep! They also had homemade icecream there that they make from their own cow’s milk and we split a cone. For whatever reason, I was having another bad gout attack on the way home. It might have been the icecream that caused it but im not sure.

Anyway… skipping ahead to the most recent weekend (June 17th – 19th)…

On Friday (the 17th), we had the Gunma ALT seminar in Maebashi which is a mandatory meeting for all the JET ALTs in Gunma. Its divided half into the people who will stay next year starting in late July (which includes me… and this will be my final year on JET since 5 years is the max) and the other half which is the people who will leave JET. The meeting lasted all day and was your typical same old JET meeting with nothing really worth noting. After the meeting was the farewell party for all the departing ALTs. It was at the rooftop beer garden in Takasaki. I decided I would try drinking again to see how things went now that I was on the medicine for a while. Since beer is the worst alcohol for gout, I drank whiskey the whole time. The whiskey ended up getting me smashed pretty quickly since they made the drinks (highballs and whiskey cokes) using large size beer mugs and put 2 shots of whiskey in each drink. I was drinking them at the pace everyone else was drinking beer and by the end of the beer garden (at 9 pm, 4 hours later) I was feeling pretty smashed.

The plan after this was to head to Tokyo for the rest of the weekend. I rode the train up there with Emmet and Bloodbath. I passed out on the train at some point but by the time we made it to Tokyo I was feeling much better. Bloodbath had other plans, but Emmet and I headed to Current, Godz, and PSY, where we drank until about 5 am between the 3 bars. Not really much worth noting at any of the bars. It was just a pretty standard night of drinking. I requested Iconoclast at PSY which sounded awesome at the bar. We both passed out near the end at PSY. I woke up and Emmet was still passed out so I just went ahead to the manga kissa to sleep.

On Saturday, when I woke up, I was still feeling pretty hung over. I ended up drinking way more than I should have the previous night and was really regretting it. Though I didn’t feel any gout pain last night (probably due to being wasted) I was now feeling it quite heavily. I made myself get up early so that I could go back to Takadanobaba hospital to consult with the doctor about my gout in person for the first time since he originally diagnosed me. He showed me the results of the test and said that my uric acid level was 10.7 mg/dL which is very high. He said that I really should just out right stop drinking for a while. Given that I felt hung over as hell and had pretty bad gout pain, it seemed like good advice. I told him that I went to Tsukiyono hospital and got the 100 mg of Zyloric. He said that that was fine but said I should probably increase the dose to 200 mg. He asked if I wanted more from him. I told him that I would just go back and get it from my local hospital since it would just be easier that way, and I had enough pills to last through Monday, so it would be fine. I should have just gotten them from him, but I will get into that later. He said I should come back in like 2 months for another blood test to check my uric acid levels.

I was pretty tired after leaving the hospital cuz I only got like 6 hours of sleep and was feeling pretty hung over honestly. I went to the manga kissa in Takadanobaba and got a 3 hour package and slept for another 3 hours.

I got some ramen and then I killed a little time playing Guilty Gear at Mikado. I left at around 4;30 because today, I had other plans. I had a ticket to go see Children of Bodom and Amorphis in Yokohama. I took the train out there. I put my backpack in a locker at the station cuz I knew the lockers at the venue would all be full. It was a smart idea aside from the fact that my umbrella was in the locker and I didn’t realize it was raining until after I left the station. On top of that, the map I printed to see how to get to the venue was also in my backpack. I had to just wing it. It looked a bit far on the map from what I remembered so I asked a bus driver if his bus went there. He (for whatever reason) didn’t even know what the venue was (it was called the Yokohama Bay Hall). I ended up just walking in a direction and spotted a guy walking and listening to his headphones who looked like he would be going to the show. I asked him if this was the way to the Yokohama Bay Hall and he said yes, so I just kept walking that way. Eventually I saw a big group of people who all looked like they were going there as well, so I just kept walking the way they were going and I got there soon after.

They forced me to pay 500 yen for a drink ticket after I went inside, which sucked cuz I couldn’t drink alcohol today. I tried to get a redbull with it at the drink counter but they wouldn’t even give me that, so I just got a regular coke. After getting the coke, I turned around and suddenly saw Masami. He said he was here to see the show and that Sushi was here as well. I spotted him shortly after and said hi.

Not long after that, the show started and I got closer to the stage. Amorphis was first to go. This was my first time seeing them live. I’m not quite as into Amorphis as I am into Bodom so I don’t know all the song names that well but they played a good hours worth of songs and it was good stuff. The vocalist has awesome long dreads and does wicked helicopter head banging.

There was an intermission, during which time I had a quick smoke and talked to Masami for a bit longer. He told me that Sachiko was actually here as well so I found her and said hi. Shortly after, Bodom came on. This was my 4th time seeing Bodom live. They always put on a good live show. I think the latest album is so-so. It’s better than Blooddrunk but still not as good as their first 4 albums which I like the best. Overall, they played a good mix of everything though (except no songs off of the first album which kinda sucks). Here was the set list.

• Not My Funeral
• Bodom Beach Terror
• Needled 24/7
• Shovel Knockout
• Roundtrip to Hell and Back
• In Your Face
• Living Dead Beat
• Children Of Bodom
• Hate Me!
• Blooddrunk
• Angels Don't Kill
• Follow the Reaper
• Downfall
• Was It Worth It?
• Everytime I Die
• Hate Crew Deathroll

Highlights for me were Bodom Beach Terror and Children of Bodom.

After the show, I tried to head out quickly to beat the rush of people leaving. I grabbed a quick sandwich and yogurt at Family Mart to eat on the train ride back and headed back to Tokyo. By this point, my gout was starting to get worse.

I headed back to Mikado and figured I would play Guilty Gear until they closed at midnight. I got a lot of great games in. There were a lot of good players there. I guess there was another #reload tournament earlier in the day that I missed due to the concert and lots of them stayed after to play Accent Core. I played a few vs FAB but couldn’t beat him this time. Overall, though, I was doing quite well against everyone else I fought. Near closing time, Satoshi showed up and said hi to me. He seemed happy to see me since I hadn’t seen him in a while. He had just gotten back from the US since he entered the recent Revelations tournament where he won both the BB and GG tournaments. We made some small talk and then I headed out since the arcade was closed.

So now I was faced with a tough decision. I already was 100% committed to not drinking tonight so my decision would be rough. Tonight at GODZ was Hide’s birthday party so I knew it would be pretty hype and really wanted to go. However, I knew that I wouldn’t have much fun if I can’t drink. I decided I would go to Game Versus (the arcade that’s open all night in Nishi Nippori) and try to play some fighting games at least. This place is known for its 3rd Strike competition (which I don’t really play at all and am not good at) but the last time I went there they had some Street Fighter IV cabs so I figured I could at least play that.

When I arrived at Game Versus, I was disappointed to find that they didn’t have a single SSFIV cab (not even Vanilla) set up. No Guilty Gear. They didn’t even have 3rd Strike for some reason! Everyone was playing Super Turbo! I guess they switch their games out pretty often. Don’t get me wrong… I like Super Turbo. It’s a classic game and I enjoyed it a lot back in the day. However, I know I don’t stand a chance against the kinda guys who would be playing ST all night at the arcade until 5 am. I never practice the game and knew that if I decided to stay I would just get destroyed at ST for the next 4 hours straight. So… I decided I would try to catch the train back to Shinjuku. Luckily, the Yamanote line was still running.

I arrived back in Shinjuku at about 1 am. I figured I could at least pop into GODZ and say hi. When I got there, it was really packed. Lots of people that knew me were there so I chatted with them a bit. I ordered an oolong tea and just sipped on that the whole time and smoked some cigs. Chris and Sachiko were supposed to be there but they already went home. Hide was WASTED when I got there. He thanked me for coming to his birthday party and then soon after proceeded to dry hump some chick on the floor with her ankles behind her head. I assume they were friends cuz they she was smiling about it and laughing so it was all in good fun, but it was pretty hilarious and random for sure. It was like right in front of the bathroom door, too lol. After being there for like an hour and a half, drinking my 650 yen oolong tea and smoking cigarettes sober while everyone else continued to get more and more wasted, I decided I might as well just go to sleep. My gout was hurting really bad at this point anyway. I said goodbye to the people I knew and headed out.

I got to the manga kissa and as expected for 2:30 am, it was already all full. I assumed this would probably happen. I checked about 5 other manga kissas and they were all full as well. Big surprise. I didn’t really wanna go back to GODZ so I decided to at least check Current out. That was a mistake. There were 2 customers at the bar who I don’t really know, and then just Emma, Masami, and Mame working while Sushi also sat at the bar. I ordered a tomato juice, much to Mame’s surprise, and explained to them about my condition. They said I was drinking like a fish last night so they were surprised to hear it, but they understood and felt bad for me. I told them I might have to quit drinking for as long as 2 months (since that was when my next uric acid test would be) but I was actually unsure how long I really needed to stop. In any case, I stayed until about 4 am sipping my tomato juice, drinking cigs, and making small talk. I finally headed out and decided to give the manga kissa another try. It was still full. I went to McDonalds and got a small fries and killed some time eating it and listening to my mp3 player. At 4:30 I tired one more time and was successful in getting a room… finally. I was exhausted and every joint in my body was aching. It felt great to finally sleep.

(So you can see how this whole gout thing is really fucking my weekends in Tokyo. If I go to bed early at like 12, I wake up at like 8-9 am when nothing is opened and its boring as hell. If I hang out for a little bit but then try to sleep I have to wait until 5 am cuz the manga kissas are full. If I drink I fuck myself. Maybe next time I should just man up and stay at Game Versus and take my beatings.)

On Sunday morning I woke up after 9 hours of sleep. I only meant to sleep 8 but my alarm didn’t wake me up. I took a shower and headed out. I got some spinach curry and then headed to Mikado where I spent the rest of the day playing GG casuals. It was actually pretty much dead at first (and this was already 3 pm… so you can see why I wouldn’t wanna wake up at like 9 am on a Sunday…). Gradually, a couple GG players rolled in. I played against this one HOS player and beat him like 15 times in a row. At some point he started getting pissed and taunting me and slamming the cab. He wasn’t even that bad but I guess he thought I was some random gaijin scrub and was getting pissed at losing to me so many times. He eventually gave up and moved to another cab. I fought a few other people and beat them and then eventually beat the game with like a 25 win streak.

I went and played a little SSFIV against a Claw player but he beat me up pretty bad. I also fought a Ken and Juri player who I beat about 4 times and then eventually no one played against me so I beat the game.

I went back and played GG for the rest of the day as more people started to roll in and it was finally getting busy. Kunihiro showed up and I played him for a while at first. I played a lot against Kuni’s Slayer as well. We went pretty even. I lost the one match I played against Hayashi. I went pretty even with really good black I-no. I also went 1-1 with Satou’s Eddie. I played a lot of other matches vs various people as well and for the most part did good. It was fun times.

When it was time to go I got some quick yogurt and pasta from Lawson for the ride back home and got on the train.

So that concludes the most recent weekend.

On Monday, I went back to Tsukiyono hospital to get more Zyloric for my gout. I figured everything would go smoothly but I was quite mistaken. When I went in to see the doctor, it was a completely different doctor. (Ryoko tells me that this hospital actually doesn’t have regular doctors on staff cuz they have a hard time finding permanent ones so they just take whoever they can get to fill in…) This guy was really, really old. He started off by trying to speak some broken English and asked me where I was from and how long I was in Japan. I just replied in Japanese and he eventually started speaking Japanese, thankfully. I told him about my gout situation and asked him what the results of my blood test were when I originally went to get the meds about 2 weeks ago (I hadn’t seen the results yet). Midway through explaining my situation he asked me AGAIN where I was from and how long ive been in Japan. I found this a little odd but answered anyway. He got out the chart and struggled to find the information on it. The nurses had to help him out. He eventually found that data and said that my uric acid level was only 5.3 mg/dL. This makes no sense because it’s impossible for your blood’s uric acid level to drop that quickly in a matter of days (it was only a few days between when I took the test in Tokyo and at this place). I asked him if there could be a mistake. I had him call the doctor at Takadanobaba to confirm that it was 10.7 when I went there. He left the room, came back later and said that the doctor there indeed said it was 10.7. So… he decided to do another blood test and urine test.

So I got the test done, and after the drew me blood and I peed in the cup, he asked if I could just wait for about 20 minutes to find out the results. I found this to be rather odd since the blood test usually takes much longer but agreed and waited in the hallway. He called me back in about 20 minutes later, saying that the results showed that my uric acid level was now only 3.7. This made absolutely no sense because that’s even extremely low for regular people who have no problems. On top of that, I had no idea how he could have gotten the data so quickly. At this point, we had a long discussion bout gout and he claims I don’t have it and that my joints are sore from working too hard and he said that I should run and exercise every day and it will cure my problem. I started to get a little more suspicious about this guy when he asked me a 3rd time when I came to Japan and how long I have been here. On top of that, within like this 15 minute conversation, he must have asked me how often I drink alcohol about 5 or 6 separate times! And each time it was like he asked as if it was the first time. Ive worked in a retirement home before and this is the kinda thing I would often see with dementia patients. I think this old man wasn’t quite right in the head.

In the end, he told me I didn’t need the medication anymore and sent me home empty handed. The last thing he said to me while I was waiting by the front desk to pay the bill was asking me how often I drink one more time…. I was pretty pissed that I just wasted like 2 hours of my day on the shenanigans of some crazy old man and had no more Zyloric either.

So… I told Ryoko what happened and she said that Tsukiyono hospital sucks and that I should just not go there anymore. I decided that on Tuesday, I would go to Minakami hospital (even smaller hospital with just one doctor on staff, but he seems competent), I went there and told him the situation about getting diagnosed in Takadanobaba and everything but I left out the part about the crazy old man at the other hospital. He diagnosed me with more meds in addition to the Zyloric and was very helpful in answering all my questions. He also did another blood test and said to come back next Monday to find the results out. Also, according to the doctor in Takadanobaba, I also have iron deficiency anemia, which basically means a lack of red blood cells due to low iron. This is often caused by bleeding from stomach acid problems so I already sorta knew I had this. I told him and he gave me a straight up injection of iron into my blood. He told me that if I stay on the meds and watch my diet that my uric acid levels should return to normal in about 1.5 to 2 months. One good thing was, when I asked him about not drinking alcohol at all, he told me that it was ok for me to drink some red wine. So, it seems like I actually don’t have to give up drinking completely after all. I think im still gonna take a weekend or 2 off for real this time though but at least the next time I go to Tokyo, I can have some wine at the bar and not be completely bored.

So, hopefully this gout bullshit will be over with soon enough. I can't believe im only 28 and have so many health problems though. I dread to think how fucked up my body is gonna be when im an old man (if I even make it that far...)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Soundstone and Kidney Stones

I spent Friday night chilling at home cuz I had a doctors appointment the next morning. Saturday morning, after my appointment, I headed to Tokyo. Today was the first Final Roundbats of the new 2011-2012 season. I called Bull410 to confirm the start time. It seemed like I had some time to spare so I got a hair cut. After that, I headed to the venue.

The venue is now changed to a place called Soundstone in Saitama. The Skylounge from before is no longer going to be used. I figured it would take less time than it did to get there and as a result, I showed up slightly late.

The format of Final Roundbats has now been changed. It used to be just a SSFIV tournament as the main event and sometimes we would play casuals for other games, too. Now, the event would have 4 main tournament games: Mortal Kombat 9, Tekken 6, Marvel vs Capcom 3, and Super Street Fighter IV (this week it was regular Super but it will be changed to Arcade Edition once the patch is released for next time). Previously, we all just paid like 3000 yen to get in, it covered the cost of the tournament, plus all you can eat pizza and some free booze. Since it was now in a bar, the drinks were now to be purchased for 5 dollars each and there was no free food (though they sold some food at the bar). The price to get in was still 3000 yen, but it gave you automatic entry into all 4 tournaments as well as 1 drink ticket. I honestly kinda miss the pizza and bring your own booze but this trade off did have its advantages.

Final Roundbats is now partnered with Gods Garden, which means that the entire event was streamed online. It also meant access to more consoles and TVs so we were able to get 4 setups going at a time. The games sorta rotated throughout the day. Mainly 1 or 2 were used for tournament and the remaining were for casuals. Also, since Gods Garden helped to advertise this event using twitter and stuff, tons more people came out this time. Lots of really good Japanese players were there. Among them were well known Guilty Gear players ABEGEN and Kusoru. Also, the number 1 top ranked player on XBOX live in all of Asia for MvC3 was there. And of course, the man himself, Tokido, was there as usual. Unfortunately, Tokido was only able to stay for the first 2 games so he was unable to participate in Marvel and SSFIV. Most of the regular guys from back at the skylounge tournaments showed up as well.

I showed up halfway through the MK9 tournament. Scott Popular told me I was already DQed but I didnt care because I have never even played MK9 before lol. I told them to sign me up for all the games just cuz it was free with entry but I have never played MK9 and I have also never played Tekken 6 as far as I could remember. I came mainly for Marvel and SSFIV.

Soon after I got there, I played some MvC3 casuals against a few people. I was able to beat all the people I played pretty easily and probably got like 10 wins or something. For now, my team is currently Amaterasu / Hsien-ko / Sentinel. I have been thinking about changing out Sentinel for someone else... maybe Dormammu or Zero but I am still thinking about it. I hadnt played MvC3 for a whole month while PSN was down. I have absolutely no one to play agaisnt offline so PSN is my only way to play matches. I figured I would just stick with the team I have been using for today and if I change it I would wait till next time.

Soon after MK9 ended, they interviewed the winner.

Not long after, they started Tekken 6. Im pretty sure I have never played Tekken 6 before. I used to play a LITTLE Tekken 5 so I figured I would just pick Jack-6 and hope he was similar to Jack-5 (the character I used in Tekken 5). I fought some Japanese dude and managed to get about half his life off each round but wasnt able to win any. I spend half the rounds trying to find out the commands for moves that were changed lol. I didnt care about this tournament anyway so its all good. After it was over, they interviewed Tokido, who won the tournament.

Anyway, after Tekken, I played some more MvC3 casuals. This time I fought a guy who was using Zero / Doom / Tron (I think this was the team). He was tough and I managed to barely beat him. After that game, I said "That was close" to him in Japanese. He didnt seem very pleased and wanted a rematch but this time he picked Zero / Dante / Wesker, which seemed to be his main team. I started Ammy on point and he had Zero. We sorta scrambled around for a bit each of us trying to get the first hit in. Eventually I got tagged in the air by Zero and that one hit led to Ammy dying right out, my next character not even being able to touch the ground and killed, and then finally the same thing happening to my final character. I honestly had no idea WTF to do and felt completely helpess! I straight out got perfected. I felt kinda dumb and wanted a rematch. This time I actually managed to hit him but I dropped my combo on accident and it resulted in me getting hit and the exact same scenario as last time happening. I felt pretty dumb and it really sorta gave me a discouraging feeling right before the MvC3 tournament was about to start. However, shortly after, I asked someone who this guy was. They told me he was the number 1 ranked player in all of Asia on XBOX live. Suddenly I didnt feel quite as stupid. I forgot what his handle is but Im sure if you went on Xbox live and checked, you could find out pretty easily (I dont have Xbox).

My first match of the tournament, I fought a guy whos name was Mike (I think.... and he wasnt the GG player Mike). I forgot what team he used but I almost perfected him and it ended pretty fast. Later, I found out that the tournament was best 2/3. I went back and told him that we had to play one more time but he said he just gave up and said its pointless cuz id beat him anyway heh. I dont think he really plays Marvel much. For my 2nd match, I fought a Japanese guy whos name I dont recall. He used Ammy / Dante / Wesker. He beat me the first match sorta bad. The 2nd match, I actually was doing pretty well for a bit. I had his Ammy in a combo with my Ammy and I went for the 236H relaunch bounce but it completely whiffed cuz im not used to doing that combo against Ammy's small hitbox and it resulted in me getting punished and it all fell apart from there. So with that, I was out of the tournament. There were several REALLY good Japanese players there and I felt like I was really behind since I hadnt played for a whole month. Looks like I need to go back to training mode and re-think my team, as well as get more match experience. I went and got a rum coke right after I lost in the tournament. I hadnt really been drinking much today till this point (only had one beer prior to this).

I was surprised that another good Japanese player that was there ended up beating the number 1 Xbox live guy in a mirror match with his same main team, taking him out of the tournament. ABEGEN did really well with his She-hulk / Thor / Tron team getting top 4. The finals came down to Kusoru vs the guy who beat Xbox number 1 guy. Kusoru used VJoe / Sent / Akuma. Kusoru has gotten REALLY good at this game. His VJoe was really good at zoning and chipping to start out but once he lost VJoe he was just tearing it up with Sent and Akuma anyway. Throughout the tournament I saw his lvl 3 Xfactor Akuma make so many comebacks (though of course lvl 3 Xfactor Akuma does excel at that). He also had one of the best Sentinels I have seen. In the end, he won the tournament and played extremely solid.

I played a few games of SSFIV casuals before the tournament started. At first I completely forgot that it was not AE and was using my Ultra 2 as if it was crappy AE Ultra 2 but then someone reminded me and I started using it like good ol regular Super Ultra 2 again heh. I hadnt really been playing SSFIV much lately ether due to PSN being down and not having gone to Tokyo much (and mostly playing GG when im there lately) so I felk like I was gonna be rusty but I actually was winning almost all my casual games. I was even beating most of the Japanese players there who I played and lots of them said they never fight strong Rose players and were giving me props.

The last tournament was SSFIV. My first match was against a Japanese Fei-long player. The whole time the tournaments were going on, they had 2 setups going for the tournaments and the main one was being streamed while the other was not. Until now, I only played on the one that wasnt being streamed but this time I was on the main setup and my match was being streamed. Format was single elim, one match, best of 5 rounds. As usual, I entered with Rose. I won the first round. Lost the 2nd round. 3rd round was close as hell and he did his ultra which I blocked and would have killed him, but I mis counted the number of hits in it and stopped blocking to punish too early and got hit by the last hit which killed me. Everyone was like WTF, as was I. I got my shit together though and took the last 2 rounds for the win.

The stream was lagging a bit so I was able to see my match on the main computer after it was over. Over 1000 people were watching the stream.

For my next match, I had to fight ANOTHER Japanese Fei-long player. This guy was a bit better and he beat me. I beat him once in casuals before the tournament but couldnt pull it off this time. Oh well.

The finals were between a really good Viper and a really good Ibuki. I believe the Ibuki player took the win. I ended up getting top 8 which is not bad I guess. I think 24 people entered.

UPDATE: The full results and brackets can be found here.

After the last tournament ended and the interview was over, they had casuals for a bit longer and for some odd reason they even had MvC2 and Double Dragon running at some point lol. Originally this event was supposed to last till 4 am with casuals and drinking going all night, but I guess Scott Popular and Bull410 were tired and wanted to wrap it up at midnight. So, I asked the bar tender when the last train back to Shinjuku was and he said to leave around 11:30 and I would be ok. I said bye to everyone and headed out and took the last train back to Shinjuku.

I headed to Current. SPG Chris, Sachiko, and Katsura were drinking on the steps outside. I went inside and there were a few regulars but it was mostly packed with people I didnt know. I ordered a beer and was shocked to find out that they raised the prices of the draft Heinekin beer from 500 yen to 600 yen! I guess it had something to do with the Tohoku Heinekin factory getting destoryed in the tsunami. Considering the draft beers at Current arnt very big to begin with, I dont think I will be getting draft beer anymore and will either switch to hard liquor on the rocks (which is also 500 yen) or Suntory Premium malts bottles for 600 yen but are bigger than the draft beers. For the rest of the night while I was at Current I drank some rum on the rocks.

I mostly sat outside with Sachiko, Chris, and Katsura talking about various stuff. Some random drunken Australian guy came out and was on the phone right by us. Then at some point his phone call ended and he just started butting into our conversation. He started blabbing on about how he cant speak Japanese but he has been living here for like 10 years and he opened some sort of exporting business. At first he wouldnt say what he exported but then he mumbled some stuff about cars. He kept saying how you just have to "do it" and take initiative to start a business but when we asked him out he couldnt even give us a straight answer. He said crap like "I just made hundreds of phone calls" and seemed so drunk that he could hardly get the words out of his mouth. He even would occasionally just say stuff like "wow im wasted". We were sorta laughing a bit since this guy was so wasted and had like this "im better than you guys and cant even speak Japanese" attitude. He started to get pissed off and went away but we didnt even really say anything and were actually being quite polite to him. Shortly after, Chris, Sachiko, and I went to 7-11 across the street for a snack. When we came back, Katsura said the guy came out and tried to hit on her and ask her to dance, so she said she pretended not to speak English even though she was speaking fluent English when he was talking to us earlier, lol!

We got to talking about how lately Current has been going down hill with lots of annoying customers and the staff not playing requests and just playing the same songs every time. We all felt like listening to some metal, so at first we were gonna go to GODZ but then Chris was bitching about how he had to get up early for band practice with his new band. Then Katsura suggested we all just go drink at Chris's place. Chris agreed so we walked there.

Chris lives just outside Shinjuku and just moved to a new place like a week ago. He has a conbini right under his building that sells some good micro brews so I picked up a few Aooni IPAs to drink inside. His roommate was there as well. We mostly just sat around and watching awsome metal music videos on his computer (he has a huge screen on his brand new mac) and drank and talked shit. His roommate let me try his 3DS. Ive never played a 3DS till now. He had SSFIV. I was actually very unimpressed by the 3d effects. I thought the 3D on the 3DS would look much better but in all honesty it seems gimicky as hell. Not really sure Id want to buy one until the price goes down quite a bit.

I was pretty tired and started nodding off at around 4:30. At around 5, Katsura and I left together to walk to the station. We went our separate ways. I went back to Shinjuku station and then went to the manga kissa and she went home.

The next morning I went to get Burger King but was shocked to find that the Shinjuku Kabuki-cho BK shut down. Bummer. I then went to Akihabara cuz I needed some blank DVDs. I was gonna get a kebab there but the good stand by the station was also gone. Bummer again. I ended up settling for some fried shrimp over rice. I got a 100 pack of DVD-Rs for dirt cheap. I then went to Club Sega and played GG for about an hour. I fought against Basara (Ogiwara)'s Testament and beat him for my first match, ending his win streak. Then he went on another cab and I beat a decent Ky a few times. Lost to the Ky once. Beat him a few more times and then beat a HOS. Then some annoying May player came along and beat me like 3 or 4 times. I still fucking hate May with a passion. After that, I decided to play a few games of SSFIVAE. I fought against an Evil Ryu player for the very first time. The guy wasnt very good and I won. I also beat some really bad Claw player. I wanted to catch the next train soon so then I just died on purpose to the computer to get my card back and left.

After I got home, I spent the rest of the evening with Ryoko.

I got in contact with the doctor about my health checkup on Monday and it turns out I have gout. Gout is a kind of arthritus that results from abormaly high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is mostly produced from eating lots of red meat, seafood, and drinking alcohol (espessially beer)... so its no wonder I would develop this condition considering I love drinking and eating meat. I started feeling really fatigued ever since I came back from Korea. I guess 5 days of binge drinking and Korean BBQ got the best of me. So, im gonna go on a special diet for a bit and try to cut down on drinking until the pain in my joints subsides. I gotta get that uric acid level down. Once thats over, hopefully I can go back to drinking like normal. Until then, its gonna suck, but oh well. Could be worse. Unfortunately this also often results in kidney stones and problems related to that, so I get to look forward to the excruciating pain that comes with that some day. yay...

Not sure what my plans are for next weekend but Ill post if its worth talking about.