Anyway, the nabe place was fantastic. It's called Mo-Mo-Paradise (or Mo-Para) and located in one of the cinema buildings in Ikebukuro.
You start with a bowl of kimchee broth cooking on your table and then you add as many different ingredients as you want. You can custom-order whatever vegetables and meat you want, which was great. Usually I don't like kimchee or variations on it because I hate cabbage, but this had hardly any. It was all noodles, beef, leeks, nira and spice.
Afterwards, she gave me a ticket to "Switch wo Osu Toki", because it turns out she has a da~te on Sunday. Umm... it's supposed to be really depressing, right? :P Looking forward to it!
I just got some news recently. The good news is that the schools' contract with my company will be terminated and so I can resign. The bad news is that to get back on the contract I have to attend a group interview on Friday with a new company. There's been no mention of my elementary school (in a different administrative region), but I only spend one day a week there and there isn't that same kind of connection.
I'm really worried about all the people I'm leaving behind though. My coworkers who have no paycheck and no plans to do anything other than stay at the company. My bosses who have to sort this whole mess out. I can hear the strain in their voices. Meanwhile, Monkeybridge is (the rumours say) galavanting from hotel to hotel in Tokyo, evading the police, the banks and anyone who used to work for him...
Remember when I started reading all those trashy novels that were passed onto me at my school in Chiba (now sadly closed)? Well, reading the book crabsushi lent me reminded me that I hadn't finished them all. So, I decided to read "Cradle and All".
Wow. This is, without a doubt, one of the worst books I have ever read. If I were to devise a tagline for it it would read "THE NO.1 BEST-SELLING TEEN PREGENANCY FETISH THRILLER". But, actually, that would be based on a misreading of the cover. It's plastered with the phrase, "from the no. 1 best-selling author..." Now, he's certainly a best-selling author, but probably not with this book. I hope not, anyway. It has all the things I love to hate in the modern American thriller -- casual sexism and racism; a different POV every chapter, chapters no more than three pages in length and random breaks to maintain this; characters that appear twice and do nothing and at least one scene where the main female character breaks down into a teary wreck and confesses that the problems in her relationship with the main male character were all entirely her fault. It ends when it's revealed that either the female love interest or gay man or foreign man did it. "Cradle and All" takes these features and runs with them and adds teen pregnancy fetishism, the virgin/whore dichotomy, more sexism, baby worship, child rape, pregnancy as punishment for sex, a rip-off of a scene from The Exorcist, a Nice Guy who never got over the lack of a relationship as the love interest, showing-not-telling in hilarious ways and poor word choice. When stuck for ways to describe a place, the author writes "It was just like a scene from [movie/song set in the area]."
It's also not actually a thriller, but a poor supernatural horror dressed up as a thriller. One of the things that makes me keep reading thrillers -- apart from the fact that they're in English and popular so they're easy to get -- is that the plot is always fast, often well-researched and fairly tense. I suppose a supernatural yarn about two virgins, one about to give birth to the second-coming and one the AntiChrist might sound original to someone who didn't read outside of their own 'popular fiction' niche.
One of my favourite descriptions:
"The sky overhead was ash gray, streaked with long purple slashes. It was quite epic-looking."
Read it if you like trainwrecks, if you're a would-be author who wants a list of things not to do in a story or if you're starved of things to read in English. If you fall outside of these categories, avoid at all costs.