Mintia!  Now available in spearmint, wintergreen, and halibut!
Mintia! Now available in spearmint, wintergreen, and halibut!
The dogs...
The dogs...
...are thrilled...
...are thrilled... have me... have me...

I woke up early this morning, made my final preparations for departure, checked out, then spent the greater part of the afternoon strolling through Ginza before catching the shuttle to the airport. I left Tokyo on Thursday, December 4th at 5:20 p.m. and, after a nine hour flight, landed in Vancouver on December 4th, 8:45 a.m., thoroughly exhausted and ready to start my day. Again. I went through customs, picked up my luggage, stepped out into the lobby…and there was no one there to greet me. Had my wife forgotten? Was she too busy to come pick me up? Had she discovered the perfumed correspondence from the Countess, Lady Penelope Fitzwater Pearl, hidden in the recessed bottom of my armoire? Somewhat puzzled, I grabbed a cab and headed home. I was halfway there when I received an instant message on my Blackberry. It was Fondy, texting to inform me: “I’m at the airport!”. I texted back: “I’m in a taxi!”. Apparently, she’d just missed me.

While sitting out on the front steps, waiting for her to show (I didn’t have my keys), I took the time to review my trip. Upon closer scrutiny of the evidence, I’d like to break a couple of the ties I’d announced in last entry’s restaurant showdown. After further review, I’m calling Ukai-Tei the winner in the food category. While both places served up great beef, Ukai-Tei also delivered some other truly stellar dishes like the king crab, abalone, and an out-of-this-world cream of chestnut soup. Finally, in Battle Kaiseki, and again after further review, I’m going to give the slight edge in the food category and, subsequently, the overall title to Kanda. But this one was VERY close.

Also, while at Roppongi Hills, I picked up some prohibitively expensive Noka Chocolates, reputed to be the world’s finest. World’s finest marketing campaign perhaps. While the chocolates were very good, they certainly weren’t worth the price. Save your bucks and buy Amedei instead.

By the way, I’m wondering if anyone is familiar with some Japanese mints called Mintia? They’re made by Asahi and, according to the information on the packet, are both “sugarless” and “Dry Hard”. If you’ve tried them before, my question for you is this: Are they supposed to taste like fish? Is this done to appeal to Japanese consumers? And, if so, doesn’t that kind of undermine the whole breath freshening purpose?

Hey, amidst all the travel scribble-scrabble I neglected to list my Top Reads of November. Well, I was fairly busy so I didn’t really get to hit the books like previous months, but I did read one that proved so good that I made a point of recommending it to Brad before I left for Japan. Frank M. Robinson’s The Dark Beyond the Stars is an exceptional read, a brilliant SF novel that tells the tale of Sparrow, a member of a generational crew, suffering from amnesia following a horrific off-world accident. As Sparrow struggles to reclaim his lost identity, he rediscovers past friendships, secret rivalries, treachery, and the possibility that the accident that led to his standing condition may not have been so accidental after all. Brilliant through and through, The Dark Beyond the Stars has catapulted into my Top 5 SF Reads of All Time. I haven’t been this excited about a book since John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. Highly recommended!

Speaking of reading – I realize this is the busy time of year what with the traveling to Asia and the Christmas preparations and all, but I just wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming Book of the Month Club selections. There’s still plenty of time to pick up and read one, two, or all three of the January picks in time for the approaching discussions and guest author Q&A’s. In the event it’s too much trouble to cast your gaze over to the right sidebar and inform yourselves…

The week of January 14th, we welcome author (and fellow Stargate: Atlantis viewer!) David Weber as we discuss On Basilisk Station, the first novel in his Honor Harrington series.

The week of January 21st, we welcome editor John Joseph Adams as we discuss the zombie anthology The Living Dead, showcasing the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Kelly Link, and many others.

Finally, the week of January 28th, we welcome author and New Weird pioneer Jeff Vandermeer for a discussion on his book, City of Saints and Madmen.

Well, despite the fact that my body is telling me it’s way, way, waaaay past my bedtime, I’m going to try to stick it out at least until 9:00 p.m. I’ll just take it easy until then. Maybe lie back, relax, rest my eyes for just a few minutes…

Today’s entry is dedicated to MaggieMayDay and Davidd who are both going through some difficult times right now.

58 thoughts on “December 4, 2008: The Longest Day

  1. Welcome HOME! and safely too!
    I think the bow wows may have shown a little more enthusiasm than is captured…at least I hope so.

  2. Welcome back to yesterday. Was it fun living with us in the future even if it was for a short time?

    Thanks for the recommendation.
    I’m e-stockpiling for Summer.
    Reading On Basilisk Station at the moment and also an ebook from Tor which is very Stargate meets Indiana Jones. Anubis and Osiris have already been mentioned.

    Never had mints made by Asahi but I have liberally taste-tested their beer. Their beer definitely does not taste like fish. It’s usually the lamb souvlaki you pick up on the way home that causes the need for mints.

    Happy furry kids!!

    Have a good day… again.

  3. Hi Joe, thank you for the virtual tour through Tokyo and i’t culinary establishments. It has been great reading them – despite not reading everyday!!

    @MaggieMay & Davidd {{{HUGS}}} to you both in this difficult time.

  4. Welcome Back! I tried to make an reservation at Fuel today for me and my sister’s trip in February (13th-16th) for my birthday but online it said that I was to early to do so?! My questions for you is if I do end up getting one…
    1) should I get a table or sit at the bar?
    2) what would your recommend for someone who HATES cheese since I can’t see a menu and I really would like to try something to increase my pallet
    3) would you recommend a good time slot?
    I think that will be our only time dining out since it will probably cost me my whole paycheck but you have really peaked my interest. I would love to plan a culinary tour to your fair city one day…hopefully my lotto ticket on Saturday will help me do just that!
    Oh and if I have not mentioned it before–smiling—Brent Weeks The Night Trilogy is 100% out and it FREAKKIN ROCKS!

  5. One quick imperative question: Did you see any Godzillas? Yes, they’re up here and there in Japan…. not life size of course, but definitely big enough to pose next to… 😉

  6. I hate time travel. Messes me up for days. But yeah, if you can go to bed close to the normal hour, it supposedly helps you adjust.

    Of course the dogs are happy to have you back! Just don’t show them pics of the dogs you lavished attention on in Japan.

    I’m hoping to squeeze a book in….but not the zombie one. Not that I don’t have faith in my zombie plan….

    Welcome home!

  7. Welcome back!

    I hope you had a wonderful time.

    You arrived back just in time to see the idiots in Ottawa fight who should be running the country.

  8. Welcome home!

    You threw me for a loop by posting Dec. 4 twice.

    Your final faux paus by not waiting and/or calling Fondy before taking the cab. You, once again, crack me up.

    The dogs really look happy to have you home. I wonder if they are like the dog statue and waited for you at the door and/or come to the door when you come home at night.

    I am glad you were responsible enough to clarify your winner restaurant on your trip.

    I am curious to see if you make it to 9pm tonight.

  9. Thank you … all the mundane stuff keeps rolling by. I’m alright and glad my brother didn’t suffer. So there’s that. I just get weepy … a lot.

    I used to chew a Japanese gum called “Brain Shower”. It was exactly what Vicks Vapo-Rub gum would have tasted like. Whoosh through the brain cells.

  10. Welcome back!

    Wow…left sitting on the front step – that’s even worse than being greeted with a bag of garbage to take to the curb. And the dogs? Cujo comes to mind. Looks like they might be plotting ways to keep the bed all to themselves tonight. I would NOT turn my back on them for an instant… 😉


  11. Well, I think that was a break you’ll remember for a long time to come.
    Of course, I guess you’ll be planning next years trip once you’ve rested, so do you have any thought of other places you feel you need to eat them out of their national food supply? lol

    Regarding season two of ‘Weird Food Purchase of the Day’ (wfpd), are we likely to see more of these most excellent videos over the next few days? Or might you be doing something special in the way for interest christmas foods from around the world?

    yes, i’ll shut up now. LOL

  12. Welcome home and congratulations on the time travel thing. Thanks for the great descriptions of your trip, and even more for the “tie-breaking” decisions. Not sure if or when I’ll ever head back to that part of the world, but if I do I’ll be pulling up your blog for reference material.
    Best wishes for MaggieMayDay and Davidd: I can grok the stress you’re going through. Here’s hoping the holiday season and coming year bring relief and better times to you both.

  13. Hey Joe, Welcome home! Your chestnuts are on their way to the studio, ENJOY! Has anyone heard from Anne Teldy? She has not posted in a while and I sent her a letter and have not recieved a reply! Anne- are you ok? Please let us know!!! Sheryl

  14. Nice nap??

    Yeah, I’m wondering about AnneT, too…perhaps she’s just waiting for Stargate chatter to start up again…

    I hope.


  15. Welcome home, Joe. I’m glad you had such a great trip.

    Here’s to hoping I’ll be able to participate in the January book of the month. I’m enticed by The Living Dead. Of course I am. Sweet and fluffly is not my thing.

  16. Welcome back, Joe! I’m sure Fondy and the pups are glad to have you back. I hope the jet-lag doesn’t last long.

    What is it about the holidays that seems to precipitate disasters — or maybe it’s just my family? I’ve been hearing all the news reports about the “foreclosure crisis” here in the U.S. but just found out that my younger brother and his wife are out of work again, are five months behind in their mortgage payments and may be facing foreclosure. So while the Federal Government is debating whether or not to bail out the Big Three Auto Makers, my own family will be looking at how to orchestrate a bail out on a much smaller but much more personal level. But compared to the people that have suffered the loss of a loved one or are facing major illness in their family, it seems pretty minor.

    As das said, we should all cherish the time we have with the people we care about. And we need to support one another through the hard times. That’s what family is for.

  17. For dyginc, here is Fuel’s URL complete with menu information. And, as you know from Joe’s frequent reports, they do change their menu offerings seasonally or as items are available.

    Bon appetite

  18. Welcome back home! I find that no matter how good a trip was, it’s always nice to be back it my own bed.

    I’ve actually had those mints before! My dad brought some packs back to the US when he went to Japan a year or so ago. I liked the mints so much I went to their website to see if I could order some, only to be disappointed to discover their site is in Japanese (which I don’t read or speak). I thought they were the best mints I’ve ever had (strong but not overpowering), so they certainly didn’t taste like fish. Either I got a unusual good batch or you got an unusual bad batch. Or maybe I just didn’t taste the fish. Who knows?

  19. While I was still living at home, my mother and I have totally pulled the “I’m already home!” “But I’m here waiting to pick you up!” thing a couple times… although getting cell phones slightly dampened that (I could actually call her and say “I’m getting a ride. Don’t bother.”) My mother is bad about that sort of thing, though. She would actually forget.

    I’m psyched about On Basilisk Station and really hoping that I can find it at B&N over my holiday break. If my professors haven’t killed me with all these finals before then!!!

  20. Welcome home Joe!

    I finally crawl out of my hidey-hole I’ve been sitting in for the past year-and-a-half or so, loyally reading every entry, almost every day, to post my first comment:


    I had the same title to my own blog about my travels Down Under, after the long — very long trip from Europe to Australia. I’d been up for 48 hours, so in my mind it was just one day, while in fact 2 days had passed. But I guess you have the right to the title, as your day was in fact the longest, and mine just felt that way. So I forgive you 😉
    See for my longest day. And I can’t believe I just announced my blog to the entire world/universe, while not even the people I work with know about it (except one).

    Anyway, I hope you recover from your jet-lag soon!

  21. Told you that temporal anomaly thing was a SOB! Last time I did it the fun part was making a hotel rez for the Day BEFORE…! About the only time the whole thing will work for you is if you’re travelling over a birthday… one day less of the higher age, etc….

    Anyways, glad to you that you’ve returned safely to the Fast Food Side!

  22. Welcome home.
    I like living a day ahead of most of the world it makes me feel special XD

  23. Quick question for you concerning SGA: According to MGM, the decision to cancel the series was not in their hands; they would have approved a sixth season. SciFi wanted a sixth season as well. You’ve stated you wanted to continue with Atlantis as did the actors.

    So, who made the final call to cancel SGA when all parties wanted to go on? I’m just curious to know how the decision was made and why.

  24. Home safe and sound! And the taxi ride? You were just doing a one-off of your own personal Ground Hog Day. Dec. 4th only had 1 repeat. Yay, huh? Of course Fondy wouldn’t forget you at the airport. You’re her honeybun! Her matchka opera cake, her white chestnut confection…

    (See what you’ve done to us? We can name pastries. Tonight I couldn’t let a spiral-cut ham go naked. I just had to make an orange and ginger glaze for it.)

    You can tell the dogs are happy that Doggie Daddy is back where he belongs. The look on Maximus’ face? Utter, wide open relief. Priceless. Normally his look is classy and content. Those poor pugsies. What’s that old fifties song from my Dad’s CD collection? “Your Daddy’s home, your Daddy’s home…to stay. I’m not a million miles away….”

  25. coucou Joseph! Sa va?
    Moi oui j’ai encore été malade =(, mais pas trés sympatique cette maladie…

    Enfin peut importe enfin le week end.
    Ils sont trop happy de vous revoir vos petits chiens !!!

    Aller gros bisou!

  26. You really can see the joy in the dogs faces. I bet they wiggled for hours and smelled your travel cloths to check out where you had been for so long. Glad you had a good trip, now that your home safe and sound. Goodnight.

  27. Hey there Mr M!

    Glad to see the dogs welcomed you back!! I remember returning from Vancouver and being wrestled to the ground by my dalmation….who was a shade quicker than the three Imperial Majesties…
    Agree re: the chocolates…My buddy (Conor) had some of these and says the same : Save your yen!
    Am midway through On Basilisk Station and really enjoying same!
    Best to you and all the gang…Fondy must be delighted to have you back!


  28. Welcome home! I haven’t been commenting for fear it would create too much work for you while on your trip.

    This has been a fantastic journey to follow. Almost as good as being there, myself.

  29. Glad you had a safe trip home.

    Infection- will be DVRd.

    @readers here, thanks for your support.

  30. Welcome Back to Canada. : )

    Since I loved Old Man’s War as well, I am going to check out THE DARK BEYOND THE STARS. Your description is very interesting.

  31. Hey, Joe – can you go back on Tokyo time? Your overseas blogging & approving time coincided much better with my on-line time…now I have nothing new to read wif me coffee. 🙁


  32. So David, the manager of Fuel just emailed me back and said I could reserve a table for two on the 14th of Feb! He said that since it is Valentine’s Day that they are very busy (that is why I hate having my BD on that stupid day) and that it would be a 5 course Chef’s meal! I am totally stoked but I did tell him that I can not eat anything CHEESE so I am not sure if I will be able to eat anything…so a tad concerned but looking foward to the experience!

  33. Joe Mallozzi said:

    By the way, I’m wondering if anyone is familiar with some Japanese mints called Mintia? They’re made by Asahi and, according to the information on the packet, are both “sugarless” and “Dry Hard”. If you’ve tried them before, my question for you is this: Are they supposed to taste like fish? Is this done to appeal to Japanese consumers? And, if so, doesn’t that kind of undermine the whole breath freshening purpose?

    I’m not familiar with Mintia, but I’ve had Japanese fish-flavored hard candy before. I can’t say that I like them – to me tuna and sugar are not compatible flavors. Isn’t Asahi a major distributer of alcoholic beverages? Maybe the “mints” are intended to mask the odor of alcohol on your breath. Just a thought.

  34. To Das and everyone-you too Joe, I justed talked to Anne Teldy and she’s “OK” and keeping track of the blog. Wanted to let you all know! Sheryl

  35. maggiemayday – ((Hugs)). Health, long life and tons of money (why not?) to you and yours.

    Joe. I hope that you had a good nap!

    Narelle, Stargate meets Indiana Jones? Please elucidate. 🙂

  36. Welcome back to the land of Canadia, Joe. your trip looks like it was lots of fun! Japan looks like a crazy, crazy place (in a good way!) — I’ve always wanted to visit there.

    Quick SG question (I understand if you can’t answer it due to possible spoilers) — Wikipedia and several articles of the Stargate Wiki have been edited to state that in EatG, Sam Carter has been promoted to Brigadier General and is head of the SGC. I find it strange that she would be promoted so quickly. Is this some leaked insider info, a slightly delusional Sam fan projecting all over the place, somebody wanting to stir up fandom speculation purely for the lolz, or a secret encoded message from the future placed by a time-traveler in strategic places on the internet for those worthy enough to decode it and disarm the nuclear warhead buried in the Earth’s crust that is set to go off in 2022?

    ……..yeah, it’s possible I haven’t had enough sleep.

  37. I have to say, Joe, that when it comes to travel reporting YOU are definitely the winner. I havent enjoyed a travelogue so much since … well, since ever! It was wonderful to enjoy your gastronomic vacation vicariously, as I will probably never be going to Japan myself (waaay out of my budget!)

    And I’m sure the pack o’ pugs was glad to see you … but that picture of Lulu looks like she’s giving you the ol’ raspberry …. 😛

    Welcome back!

  38. Welcome home. It’s nice to have happy faces greet you, isn’t it? I hope you got some good rest

    What did you think of the Vernor Vinge book? Had you read “A Fire Upon the Deep?”

  39. @ Sheryl – Thanks for the update! *Waves at Anne Teldy!*

    @ drldeboer – *hugs* I saw you mention your mom a couple days ago, but wasn’t quite sure what it was about, and I didn’t want to pry. Please take care…and I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts.

    @ Joe – I need reassurance! Tell me Todd’s gonna be okay!! I’m ascared to watch Infection tonight… 🙁 But at the same time, I REALLY need a Hot Toddie fix… 😀 Damn this emotional rollercoaster!!

    I think I’m gonna throw up. 😛


  40. OY! Wake up its bed time!

    Good to have you home again Mr M. and thanks muchly for sharing your gastronomic interlude with us mere mortals. Now get back to writing us some SG and quit that lollygagging!


  41. @Das Ok hun, take a deeep breath in ….and out……..and out….now get a grip and remember fanfiction cures all ills (and death)

  42. Welcome home, Joe. Traveling is always nice, but no where near as great as coming home.

    Is it too late to send in questions for Marty Gero?

  43. das, Sheryl, et al.

    1. Thanks so much for the concern but I’m okay. If anything serious happens (major health issue; hospitalization; I become an Ascended Being; etc.), my little sister will let you all know.

    2. I’ve been reading but not posting because I’m wearing a brace on my right wrist and it’s awkward typing. Clicking and scrolling is easy, though.

    3. Thanks for the call, Sheryl. I enjoyed talking with you.

    dasNdanger wrote:

    @ Joe – I need reassurance! Tell me Todd’s gonna be okay!! I’m ascared to watch Infection tonight… But at the same time, I REALLY need a Hot Toddie fix… Damn this emotional rollercoaster!!

    Don’t forget what Mr. M said on August 21st:

    On the bright side, however, the network has greenlit the movie and we do have a terrific idea in mind. Obviously, I can’t say much about it at this point but suffice it to say that it should include the entire cast in addition to a certain gaunt and pallid flowing-locked guest star.

    Doesn’t sound like you have to worry too much about Todd.

    Your packaged arrived. What a nice surprise! There were a few real winners and I look forward to exploring the others. More in a letter when I’m brace-less this weekend, I hope.

    Anne Teldy

  44. @ shiningwit – But, but, but…

    I don’t read fan fic. 🙁 Believe it or not, it’s too sordid for me. 😛 And then there’s the whole ‘lots and lots of little black letters on white pages’ thing. I’m amazed that I even have patience to read this blog…especially the longer entries. I think I should get a cookie or something for that. 😀

    @ Anne Teldy – Ugh. I understand the braces thing. I wear night braces on my hands (they resemble Todd’s hand muzzle in Common Ground, oddly enough) for ‘crappy tunnel’ syndrome, and now a boot brace on my foot for the plantar fasciitis. Still, Mr. Das thinks it’s sexy. He must have me mixed up with the Bionic Woman, or something. 🙄

    As far as Todd goes – survival is one thing, but HOW he survives is another. I fear that if he survives, he will become nothing more than Sheppard’s pet. *sniffle* (If he does, I sure as hell hope he pees in John’s shoes.) 😈


  45. @ Narelle – RE: 11/16 post…

    I’m gonna make this quick, due to a cronic tickle-cough that can only be satisfied by sucking on packets of red hot sauce…and sipping Jager.

    The strep throat wasn’t strep – the pain went away an hour after I woke up, meaning it was just sore from breathing through my mouth. So I skipped the doctor, and went to work. It has now advanced to the annoying-as-hell-throat-tickle-cough stage. *see above*

    Thanks for sharing your ‘baby’ pics – too cute!! I really think you should name the next one Jelly (fish). 🙂

    I can only watch SGA through the eyes of the Wraith as a whole – even watching The Queen made me slightly mad at Todd because he was acting most treacherously towards his own kind. Only his irresistible sexiness, and swishy walk, saved him in my eyes. Then he made up for everything when he threatened to make hand hickies on Woolsey. 😀

    I think I’ve burned a hole in all the Nuada scenes on my Hellboy II DVD. 😛

    Mom was totally sober. 🙂


  46. @Anne Teldy – so glad to hear that you are doing ok! I was sending good thoughts your way each time I was here reading comments and didn’t see you post anything…so sent out good thoughts to you.

    Hi Joe,
    Welcome back! I’m sure your family missed you and gave you a huge welcome back to the family hug. And wow, time sure did go by fast! It seemed like only yesterday that you left for your trip! 😉

  47. Hi Joe,
    Welcome back! hope you are not feeling disoriented by being back in the Western hemisphere, your political situation up there is a bit crazy too. Are you eating home cooking or fast food to make you feel at home again?
    Looking forward to watching Infection tonite.

  48. Why are SciFi under the impression there are only 2 episodes left? I hope they aren’t going to miss one out!!

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