Blog - January 2005 Archives

January 2005 Archives


Music .31 Yuka de mix
Food Photo Tokyo .29 Monja-yaki in Tsukishima
Music .27 MeroMero
Food Nakano .23 Tea Room Alice
Technology .19 Let's "nofollow"! (+ time-sensitive patch)
Technology .18 Scope browser for i-mode
Food .17 Godiva chocolate spread
Cinema .16 Allegro Non Troppo
Music .14 Sonore
Technology .04 MT remove_html patch
Tokyo .03 The Nackens in Shibuya
Cinema .01 Vital
Music .01 Nippop
Other .01 Happy New Year!

January 31, 2005

Music Yuka de mix

Yuka Honda "Eucademix"Lately, I'm really hooked to Honda Yuka's album "Eucademix" (Amazon Japan, Amazon US). I only learnt about it a few weeks ago, but it actually came out last September on John Zorn's Tzadik label.

On "Eucademix", Yuka continues to make beautiful music, but this time with more beats and vocals than "memories are my only witness" (2002) which was more spacey and quiet. The new album even features vocals by Hatori Miho (also ex-Cibo Matto) on three songs and also Petra Haden (ex-that dog., which was also one of my favorite bands 10 years ago).
Especially after Yoshimi and Yuka's "Flower with no color", to me this album is a bit of a return to pop music, and it brings out Yuka's composer skills more than ever.

This week I'll be seeing Yuka live with her new project Panikaraqs featuring Shinohara Tomoe on vocals (for who she had already written a song on the album "Dream & Machine" (1999)) et al.

Posted on January 31, 2005 at 13:55 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

January 29, 2005

Food Photo Tokyo Monja-yaki in Tsukishima

Today we went to Tsukishima for the first time, a place especially known for being the origin of "monja-yaki", a delicious meal similar to okonomiyaki but a bit more liquid-looking. Tsukishima hosts over 60 restaurants, most of them located on Nishinaka-dōri shōtengai aka Monja-dōri.

After walking around and looking at the different menus and prices, we chose Ebisu-ya (3-9-10 Tsukishima) which offered a good deal at ¥1500 for a large monja for two people. We picked a spicy-ish one containing cheese, mentaiko, mochi, and Baby Star ramen (ramen-like snack).
You can cook your own monja on the hot plate on which it is eaten or have it cooked in front of you by a pro, not having much of a clue we went with the pro, and it was delicious. :)

Koban in TsukishimaNishinaka street in Tsukishima

When done, we walked on Kachidoki-bashi, a large bridge that can open up its middle part to let large ships pass, through Tsukiji (an important fish market), and then did a little bit of shopping in Ginza before going back home.

We'll probably be going back to Tsukishima occasionally to try other monja restaurants, and we also plan going to eat fresh sushi in Tsukiji someday soon!

Boat under Tsukishima bridgeTraffic lights on Kachidoki bridge

Photos: 1. This landmark small koban (police box) has been there since 1926 (768x1024); 2. Nishinaka street (1024x768); 3. Boat under Tsukishima bridge (1024x768); 4. Traffic lights for pedestrians on Kachidoki bridge (768x1024).

Posted on January 29, 2005 at 21:46 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

January 27, 2005

Music MeroMero

My friend Jens has a new radio show in Sweden focusing on Japanese music, it's called MeroMero.

The first episode aired on Wednesday and was a retrospective of the best new music of 2004. I'm also on there a little bit. I'm Jens' Tokyo correspondant for the show, so I may be showing up once in a while.

This 1-hour episode can be heard online here: RealAudio (lo-fi)

People in Sweden can tune in to Radio AF 99,1 at 22:00 every [second?] Wednesday.

Posted on January 27, 2005 at 23:45 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (5) | Tweet |

January 23, 2005

Food Nakano Tea Room Alice

Today we went to Tea Room Alice, at Nakano Broadway 4th floor (a floor of which about half is unused). Tea Room Alice is part of the recently popular "maid kissa" trend going on mostly in Akihabara. But Nakano being otaku no machi, of course we have one of these too.

The cute-ish girls serving you are all wearing a blue cosplay-style maid dress, not unlike Alice in Wonderland's. The place is decorated with teddy bears and stuff, and the cutlery is small and cute.
Coffee is ¥450, and a cake and coffee set is ¥750. The coffee seemed like instant stuff, and the cake was so-so and maybe a bit too sweet, but one shouldn't expect to go there only for the food anyway. For the hungry there's still a variety of kissaten-style plates (curry, pasta, omrice, etc.).

The ambiance was kind of fun, customers (there were no big otakus at the time, mostly normal-looking people, even a majority of girls) were laughing with the staff. We felt a bit shy to be hanging out at such a place, but it's sure worth a (one) visit.
Customers aren't allowed to stay for more than an hour and a half. Especially since they were playing B'z though, we didn't stay that long.

Pictures were prohibited inside, but if you go it seems like you can buy their original 2005 calendar. I moblogged the outside.

Update: Pictures can be seen here. The girl without glasses is one of those who served us.

Maid guided tours in Tokyo

Posted on January 23, 2005 at 17:45 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

January 19, 2005

Technology Let's "nofollow"! (+ time-sensitive patch)

A great idea to attempt to get rid of comment spam once for all has been suggested by the people at Google to MovableType. It sums up to adding an automatic rel="nofollow" to links posted by visitors (comments and trackbacks). Cooperating search engines (so far Google, Yahoo! and MSN... not bad for starters) will from now on ignore those links, making useless the comment spammers' malicious tactics such as increasing their PageRank.

MovableType has already issued a plugin that does the above. (By the way, the plugin is said to be for MT 3.x and MT 2.661, but I have installed it on my MT 2.64 and can confirm that all seems to work as supposed to.)

However one thing bothers me about this, as was pointed out by many, not only links in spam comments are being ignored, but also the good links posted by legit readers.

In an attempt to compromise, I changed a bit the Perl version plugin ( to make it time-sensitive. This means that it will only add rel="nofollow" to comments/trackbacks that are less than X hours old. X hours corresponds to the maximum time I may be without despamming.
This sure isn't perfect, since some rel="nofollow"'s may remain in my static archives until I rebuild someday, but in my opinion it's better than leaving the plugin as is. Needless to say, if you don't despam regularly, don't use this.

So here's my patch.

Near the top of the file, let's say before the first eval (line 12), add the variable that contains the minimum number of hours. Change the 24 to whatever you like.

my $nofollowfy_hours_limit = 24;  # Number of hours to nofollowfy
                                  # set this to the maximum time you may not despam

Then, in the nofollowfy_hdlr sub, just below the line that reads
    my $out = $fn->($ctx, $args, $cond);

    my $created_on;
    if ($tag eq 'CommentBody' || $tag eq 'CommentAuthorLink') {
        # Comment, use "created_on" from comment
        $created_on = $ctx->stash('comment')->created_on;
    else {
        # Pings, get "created_on" from latest ping for current set
        # (code from sub _hdlr_pings)
        require MT::Trackback;
        require MT::TBPing;
        my($tb, $cat);
        if (my $e = $ctx->stash('entry')) {
            $tb = MT::Trackback->load({ entry_id => $e->id });
            return '' unless $tb;
        } elsif ($cat = $ctx->stash('archive_category')) {
            $tb = MT::Trackback->load({ category_id => $cat->id });
            return '' unless $tb;
        } elsif (my $cat_name = $args->{category}) {
            require MT::Category;
            $cat = MT::Category->load({ label => $cat_name,
                                        blog_id => $ctx->stash('blog_id') })
                or return $ctx->error("No such category '$cat_name'");
            $tb = MT::Trackback->load({ category_id => $cat->id });
            return '' unless $tb;
        my $tokens = $ctx->stash('tokens');
        my %terms;
        $terms{tb_id} = $tb->id if $tb;
        $terms{blog_id} = $ctx->stash('blog_id');
        my %arg = ('sort' => 'created_on', direction => 'descend', limit => 1);
        my $iter = MT::TBPing->load_iter(\%terms, \%arg);
        if (my $ping = $iter->()) {
            $ctx->stash('ping' => $ping);
            $created_on = $ping->created_on;
    # If date found and older than $nofollowfy_hours_limit,
    # return without nofollowfying
    if ($created_on) {
        my @ts = gmtime (MT::Util::offset_time(time, $ctx->stash('blog_id'))-$nofollowfy_hours_limit*3600);
        my $ts = sprintf "%04d%02d%02d%02d%02d%02d",
            $ts[5]+1900, $ts[4]+1, @ts[3,2,1,0];
        return $out unless $ts < $created_on;

That's all. Seems to be working fine for me.
Comments/suggestions/improvements are welcome.

Disclaimer: This has only been tested with my good old MT 2.64 and is provided with no guarantee, so backup your files and use at your own risk.

Posted on January 19, 2005 at 22:39 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (6) | Tweet |

January 18, 2005

Technology Scope browser for i-mode

Finally a decent browser for DoCoMo i-mode phones!

Programmers' Factory's new Scope browser runs as an i-mode application and displays regular Web sites on the mobile phone's small screen, similarly to Opera for Mobile (which doesn't work on DoCoMo phones).

Features include:

* Not included in current public preview release.

Currently supported models:'ve downloaded it and played a bit, and it looks very good, though the touch is a bit slow. Per-page scrolling is possible but not intuitive (numbers 2 and 5 for full page, 3 and 6 for half-page). Nevertheless, it's very welcome, and it's free!
Download by using this QR or accessing from your mobile phone.


Posted on January 18, 2005 at 11:11 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (4) | Tweet |

January 17, 2005

Food Godiva chocolate spread

Godiva Praliné chocolate spreadYesterday we dropped by Godiva in Ebisu Atre, having recently heard about their chocolate spread and being a bit of Nutella fans, we couldn't resist trying it. Actually, Valentine's day being close, they were handing out delicious chocolate samples, and we even got free coffee, so we were even more tempted to buy something.

So we got Praliné Chocolate Spread which is the hazelnut taste version. Godiva's chocolate spread also comes in dark chocolate.

This morning we tried it out, but I wasn't as impressed as I was expecting to be. The taste itself is very close to Nutella, however the after-taste seemed better and softer.
This doesn't quite justify its price tag of ¥1200+tx, but I may still be tempted to try their dark chocolate version to see if it's more worth the price. It definitely won't become a habit though, as we tend to prefer the cheap.

Which reminds me, later at Seijō Ishii (a sort of supermarket with a lot of imported goods, similar to Yamaya) I saw a small locked display in their fridge containing goods such as 18g of beluga caviar for close to ¥20,000. I'm not asking a clerk to open that one anytime soon. :)

Posted on January 17, 2005 at 12:43 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

January 16, 2005

Cinema Allegro Non Troppo

Allegro Non TroppoToday we went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu to see Bruno Bozzetto's "Allegro Non Troppo" (DVD at Amazon US). The Japanese title is "Neo Fantasia", and promotion is putting emphasis on its similarity with Disney's "Fantasia".

Bozzetto is the creator of Signor Rossi, a series I loved when I was little, and recently rediscovered through the soundtrack released in 1999.

Allegro Non Troppo"Allegro Non Troppo" is a 1976 film, and consists of a series of six short animated films each built over and inspired from a classical piece (Debussy's "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune", Dvorak's "Slavonic Dance n.7", Ravel's "Boléro", Sibelius' "Valse Triste", Vivaldi's "Concerto in C-Dur", Stravinsky's "The Firebird").
The whole is stringed together with hilarious live action black and white film showing a crazy filmmaker forcing an animator to create live on stage in real-time, with an orchestra (formed of also forced women) playing the music. Animation also mixes with live action, such as when even Mr Rossi makes an apparition to try to pick up some food for his poor illustrator.

The film is being screened until January 28 and is preceded with other Bozzetto shorts. The ones we saw were "Grasshoppers" (series of civilizations destroying themselves and always giving back place to the peaceful grasshoppers) and "Strip" (a live action striptease shown to animated spectators who can hardly contain themselves). The following week will show "Mr Rossi buys a car".

I recommend checking the Bruno Bozzetto official site for many short films. His recent Flash shorts are also a lot of fun!

Posted on January 16, 2005 at 21:25 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (0) | Tweet |

January 14, 2005

Music Sonore

LemurLast night I met Franck Stofer of Sonore, a record label releasing mostly Japanese indie artists and also an online CD shop exporting the best of the indie scene to the world.

Franck was the coordinator and main writer of the 2001-released book "Japanese Independent Music", a sort of encyclopedia in English of the Japanese indie scene of all genres, describing over 600 artists in alphabetical order. The 362-page book is available at Sonore's online shop.

Right now he's also involved with promoting the brand new and revolutionary Lemur by JazzMutant (pictured), dubbed "MultiTouch Control Surface", a new musical instrument that allows creating your own interface and playing it how you like.
He will be in the US and Canada over the next few weeks to show around the device. (New York 1/30 details)

Readers of OK Fred can find Franck Stofer in #3.

Posted on January 14, 2005 at 08:07 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (11) | Tweet |

January 4, 2005

Technology MT remove_html patch

Just fixed a little annoyance in my MovableType installation, and I realized it still exists in the most recent version (I still run the outdated 2.64 which has been serving me well), so I'm sharing it.

The remove_html global attribute removes anything that looks like a HTML element. This takes care of HTML comments that only contain text, but a commented out HTML element will result into something broken.
For example <!--Hello<br />World--> results in World-->.
This shows up in RSS feeds, etc.

I added a line to remove_html in so that it strips out HTML comments first of all.
Here's my modified version.

sub remove_html {
    my($text) = @_;
    ## remove HTML comments
    $text =~ s/<!--.+?-->//gs;
    $text =~ s!<[^>]+>!!gs;
    $text =~ s!<!&lt;!gs;

Posted on January 4, 2005 at 16:19 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

January 3, 2005

Tokyo The Nackens in Shibuya

Yesterday morning I woke up a bit early (well not really) to go meet my friend Peter and his wife Ritsu in Shibuya. I had met Peter once before, around the end of March this year, but it was the first time I met Ritsu. However I felt she was very familiar since I've been seeing pictures of her on Peter's blog for a few years. We had thai food and then went to explore Don Quixote and Sakuraya.
Peter's blog has more details and pictures of our lunch and Don Quixote (don't miss his discovery of dildos next to the toys section!). :)

Afterwards, I went to Shinjuku to meet my girlfriend and help her through the big department store sales that had just began. I think we don't usually go on the first day, and I understood why... especially Isetan was so crowded. On the second floor where we were all of the time, for some obscure reason they had grouped all cashiers in one place, though not enough of them, and after having collected stuff from all shops the customers had to form one gigantic line. It looked like a real mess. Luckily it didn't take too long to make it through.

After about 4 hours shopping, we came back home. We had invited our friend Keiko for dinner, who just came back from Montréal the day before, after spending Christmas and the holidays there. She brought us some sucre à la crème and carrés aux dattes, two delicious treats I hadn't had for maybe 10+ years!, mmm! She also brought us a lot of other stuff, I got a 750g Toblerone bar (one of my favorites, this time in enormous size!) and a peanut butter Kit Kat (never had seen this flavor before).
For dinner we had pâté chinois and poutine (Keiko had brought us real poutine cheese!) with some pasta and pickles for side-dishes.

Now today is my last day off before going back to work on Tuesday... Only 4 days is way too short.

Our BGM last night: "The Readymade Guide for Honeymooners", "Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown!", Iwamura Manabu "Teorema", "Les grandes chansons de Michel Polnareff", ...
(I also added BGM details to our Christmas feast.)

Posted on January 3, 2005 at 13:55 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (4) | Tweet |

January 1, 2005

Cinema Vital

VitalToday most shops were still closed, most New Year sales beginning tomorrow, so there wasn't much to do. However it being the first day of the month it was "movie day" which allows to see any movie for only ¥1000 (compared to the usual ¥1300-1800), so we went to see Tsukamoto Shinya's latest movie, "Vital".
Tsukamoto was also the director of "Gemini" (1999) which I had liked a lot.

The movie is about a guy who survives a car accident which left him without his memory. He enters a medical school and then progressively has flashbacks making him realize that the body he's been dissecting is his old girlfriend, who had died in the car accident.

It's a quite strange and dark psychologic journey into the main character's mind. Despite the macabre topic it's not horror and contains no suspense or big surprises, it's more of a psychologic drama.
I thought it wasn't bad, and it kept me interested through the end. It's however a slow-paced and quiet film with some lengths. The visuals were especially nice.

Posted on January 1, 2005 at 22:19 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (6) | Tweet |

Music Nippop

NippopI'm told of a brand new site about Japanese pop music of all kinds, Nippop.

Although the site has just started, it already has a nice collection of artist profiles, and will surely keep expanding.

Posted on January 1, 2005 at 14:59 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (0) | Tweet |

Other Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!
  Bonne année!!

This year we had a quiet New Year's Eve.

Around 8 we went to have toshikoshi soba at a small shop nearby, which was rather packed. Then we came back home and watched a bit of the various specials on TV.

At about 1am we went to a tiny shrine, about 2 minutes away from our place, to make our wishes for the new year. We usually go to a slightly bigger one (though not the most popular ones, which was way too crowded), but today having been cold and the streets still being slippery we decided not to go far. We didn't have to wait in line at all and we got amazake for free! :)

Best wishes for 2005!!

Posted on January 1, 2005 at 01:24 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (3) | Tweet |

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