Blog - October 2005 Archives
October 2005 Archives
.30 Asagaya Jazz Streets
.29 Shinjuku at 5am
.23 More QP
.23 Odawara Castle
.21 Get Lamp
.20 Laser printers' invisible watermark
.18 Mmm Pop Musik
.15 FPM on TV
.13 Party People
.11 iPod vs CD player
.10 bonnō Girls
.07 Bubble-B's Haxodus
.07 Drink Yon-sama
.07 Kurōto Shikō
.06 DVD drive broken again
.05 Monokuro Boo
.03 QP elucidated
.01 ashita mania~na
October 30, 2005
Asagaya Jazz Streets
Today I dropped by Asagaya Jazz Streets and caught a glimpse of the Suginami Wind Orchestra (東京都立杉並高等学校吹奏楽部). Their performance of Jigsaw's "Sky High" was quite moving! I wish I could see them again.
October 29, 2005
This is a huge poster of Japan's ping-pong young champion Fukuhara Ai (aka Ai-chan), on ping-pong supply maker Butterfly's building in Asagaya.
Even though I generally don't care for sports, I'm captivated whenever Ai-chan's super fast play shows up on TV. According to this news bit, she left yesterday to take part in the China Super League competition on November 5. November 1st is her 17th birthday and she took the resolution to stop eating candy, even though she loves candy so much that she thinks 70% of her body is made of candy... Hmm, that's probably my case too.
Shinjuku at 5am
1. Shinjuku station Marunouchi line before 5am, the line starts at 5:35, so I chose to walk
2. 5:02 50:2, Nishi-Shinjuku
3. Kanda-gawa seen from Ōmekaidō
4. Yamate-dōri at Nakano-Sakaue. See how the street is made of tiles? That's because they're making an underground way below. The question is when will it fall?
October 23, 2005
Can't help but notice more and more of QP's traces since seeing his works at the X-COLOR exhibition. This one was seen at a crossing around Hōnanchō.
Yesterday, despite the cloudy weather, we went down to Odawara, Kanagawa, mainly to visit the Odawara Castle. We took a Romance Car (1996 model EXE10) to get there. The Romance Car is a limited express train on Odakyū line which doesn't have much to do with its name except maybe that the paired seats don't have a central armrest. The route takes about a bit over an hour.
Once we got there, we headed straight to the famous bread/pastry shop 守谷のパン (Moriya no pan: 2-2-2 Sakae-chō), where we bought a bunch of different kinds of breads and donuts. We walked through old streets in Oshare-yokochō where I took the picture below of a mess of cables.
It was then about 12:30 so we went looking for something for lunch. We ended up at sushi restaurant はげ八鮨 (Hagehachizushi: 2-9-46 Sakae-chō) where we had their omakase-don which was a lot more than we expected. Odawara being located on the coast in the south of Kanagawa prefecture, the fish is very fresh and delicious. It was also a very good deal at ¥1155 for a bowl covered with about a dozen pieces of sashimi, tea, miso soup, a grilled fish side-dish, a piece of sweet potato, and coffee. We ended up very full! The bread we had eaten before didn't help though of course.
Then we walked towards the castle. In the court was being held a oden festival and an "antique market", really mostly a regular flea-market. Some stairways later we arrived at the castle. It was my first time at a Japanese castle, and I thought it looked a bit more simple than the European-style castles (the word "castle" does evoke these in my mind). Nevertheless it was quite large and the inside very vast. The Odawara Castle was created in (I think) the 12th century, and was in use until 1870 when it was abolished. It was destroyed in 1923 by earthquakes and fires and rebuilt in 1960. It has 4 floors of which the last one is an observatory.
These are the crests of two of the families that occupied the castle: Hōjō and Ōkubo.
Last, at the souvenir shop, we only bought some water, but it's local water from Odawara. The bottle's design imitates a paper lantern, and it's made easy to shrink for recycling or you even to make it a smaller size when you've drank part of it so that it takes less space in your bag.
On our way back to the station, we met Rirakkuma (relax+kuma) in front of a game center.
October 21, 2005
Back when I was a Color Computer young user in the early 80's, above any graphic and action rom pak game, I got most of my gaming fun with text adventures. Sometimes accompanied with still graphics, the game explains a setting and requires the player's imagination and careful spelling to be able to move on.
My favorite games at the time were ones released by a company called Mark Data, such as Trekboer, The Vortex Factor and Calixto Island. Those games were text adventures with graphics, and one of the appeals I remember was that some screens had subtle animations.
Here's an example with the starting location in Trekboer:
October 20, 2005
Laser printers' invisible watermark
Interesting find today in the news: a lot of color laser printers and copiers secretly add-in a watermark matrix of microscopic-sized yellow dots. These contain the print date and time, and also the printer's unique serial number. While inoffensive in most situations, this can also certainly be a serious privacy issue.
The scheme, while kept secret by most printer makers, was cracked by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group that fights for digital rights.
Inspecting some color-printed paper at work with a magnifier, I did find some of those yellow dot matrixes.
October 18, 2005
Mmm Pop Musik
Teenbeat Records's Mark Robinson can now be heard on his own weekly radio show titled "Mmm Pop Musik", live every Friday night at midnight (EST) on WMBR Cambridge (88.1 FM).
I've listened to the first two shows and enjoyed them a lot, especially for his funny comments over canned applause, and all of the great mmm... pop musik!
The show can of course be heard on the Web, live and archived, and since the archives are in MP3 I took the opportunity to script up a podcast of it.
Update (23:56): Uhm, the feed actually isn't working too well for me, but I think it may be because of the colon (":") in WMBR's MP3 filenames... With iPodder the file downloads but isn't saved properly (a file with the filename truncated at the colon is created but remains at 0 bytes), and with Doppler nothing happens and nothing shows up in the log either. All podcast client coders can't be forgetting to remove odd characters in the filename!?
October 16, 2005
Today we went to eat fried oysters at Sanshūya, an old restaurant hidden at the back of a small alley in Ginza. Delicious!
2-3-4 Ginza, Chūō-ku, Tokyo
October 15, 2005
FPM on TV
October 13, 2005
Long awaited Nomiya Maki's new album "Party People" is out! Of course I got my copy on Tuesday night and have been enjoying it. The album has 10 tracks, one of which is a megamix of all the others, so depending on my mood I'll prefer to listen either to the 9 songs separately or the megamix.
The concept being an 80's revival, the whole definitely has a strong 80's feel with a lot of synths, handclaps and some vocoder. Living up to its title, "Party People" is pretty much fully danceable! Aside one or two exceptions the album was recorded in a same studio by a same engineer, so it sounds very uniform while the large numbers of guests give each track their personality.
The album has a bunch of good surprises such as Maki singing in duet with Kikuchi Naruyoshi (Spank Happy) with even a verse in Thai! Oui Oui also covers tATu's "Not Gonna Get Us", and while I really couldn't care less about tATu, it works, and I can't wait to see them perform it live!
So far my favorite tracks include "Yamate Line" (produced by Yamo (formerly of Kraftwerk)), which comes up just in time as I pass by Shinjuku station in the morning, p&art sasanoooha's "odoru 'oshare techō'", "Princess & Prince Of The Frog" by GTS, Futon cover "High" (with Kikuchi-san), and the great mood-setter opening track "Party Girl".
The tall limited edition package is also very nice! Inside the cardboard sleeve with sparkly design is contained the tall case which holds the regular-size booklet and CD. The booklet is stuck to the inside of the case, and can only be opened while the CD is not in place. On one side of the accordion-folded booklet are several pictures of Maki wearing different hats, on each of which stand the tiny artists who collaborated to the album. The other side has all lyrics and liner notes.
If you're going to buy the album, get it now so that you get this limited edition.
While I was at Tower Records Shinjuku's information counter asking about the Futon album, which I also bought, some client was brought a huge box containing about 40 copies of "Party People"! He was inspecting each closely one by one and putting some on his pile and some rejects aside. I was tempted to ask him if he was related staff or just a crazy fan, and also whether the copy I was holding was good or a reject.
Maki's Party People Party will be held on October 28th at ageHa, I've got my tickets and I can't wait!!
October 11, 2005
iPod vs CD player
Lately I've been digging in my CD collection, mainly removing regular plastic cases to make room for more (or rather, vainly attempt to make everything fit in my storage boxes). Doing so has made me want to listen to a lot of stuff.
For the last few years I've been listening to music mostly on my iPod during my daily commute. While I love my iPod as it lets me carry thousands of songs, it lacks the CD player's spontaneity that lets me pick a few CDs when I'm out the door and start listening a minute later. 10 minutes to rip a CD (my recently bought drive rips at 8x, already much faster than my previous one) is too long when I can't plan ahead what I want to listen to.
What I really need is a way to stop wasting time ripping.
CDs are heavy and changing CDs in a crowded train or while walking is near impossible, but is the iPod's freedom really an illusion until CD ripping is made unnecessary somehow? Especially to someone like me who doesn't care for a shuffle mode?
October 10, 2005
bonnō Girls promotion in front of 109 in Shibuya.
October 9, 2005
Yesterday we went to Cine Saison Shibuya and saw "Nothing", the latest film by Canadian Vincenzo Natali. Having greatly loved "Cube" and "Cypher", I had high expectations.
(Possible spoilers are in white on white, select with mouse if you wish to read.)
I thought the concept of "Nothing" was great, two best friends ending trapped in nothing, and so were the visuals and acting. The movie has a high level of light-hearted playfulness and imagination, and made for a fun watch.
On the down side, I don't feel I'd want to see it again as much as I do for "Cube" and "Cypher". It sure is a unique film, but to me it lacked on the final satisfaction, probably because of my initial expectations. I would have liked for it to be more full of surprises like "Cube", and also to have a surprising ending, but this would have went against the concept of nothingness so I have to understand.
If you see it, be sure to watch past the end credits. That final part gave me at least a bit of hope that something would happen someday in nothing, but left me really wanting to know what it was. Any hope for a "Nothing 2"? If I'd have seen this film in a theater in Canada I probably wouldn't have stayed during the credits, but the Japanese public always stays still until lights are on, and sometimes, like this time, I'm glad I do.
The movie did make me a bit hungry for a "making of", just to know the secret of the white stuff.
Before the movie was presented the NFB/ONF short animated film "Ryan" by Chris Landreth. The 3D computer-animated film is a sort of documentary about Montreal animator Ryan Larkin who also created some short films for the ONF in the late-60's/early-70's.
Having grown up on a lot of ONF shorts, as when I was a kid there used to be a cable channel which would let you order by phone anything by the ONF that you wanted to see, ONF-sponsored stuff has a special place in my heart.
At Cine Saison, we could see the movie for ¥1000 instead of ¥1500 because we brought pictures of things we'd want to be left in an empty world. They're now displayed in the lobby, so if you go, look for Tamo-san. :)
Also I bought my advance ticket to Shaolin Kyonshi, and received some post-it notes shaped and printed like the yellow talisman used to immobilize kyonshi!! The trailer was also played (by the way... TOO many previews!! we got about half an hour!) and it looks like real kyonshi madness, with thousands of them! The movie starts November 12.
I'm waiting for some great kyonshi stuff in the mail, and will show it off when it arrives.
October 7, 2005
Yon-sama sake, for the hardcore fans. Seen in a supermarket in Shin-Ōkubo.
Since my DVD drive died recently, yesterday I went and got a new one.
By looking at reviews on Kakaku.com, I had first pretty much made my mind on the Pioneer DVR-110D selling for about ¥7800 with software (or ¥1000 less without).
A new PC Depot store having opened recently near my job, I went to look at models and prices, and a bit apart from the ±¥10000 drives was a Kurōto Shikō KRDV-4167B at ¥6970, and it had all features of the DVR-110D plus DVD-RAM writing and included software (while I already have more DVD writing software than I could ever need, some more never hurts).
Back at Kakaku.com, the Hitachi GSA-4167B (the actual drive in the Kurōto Shikō KRDV-4167B package) had good ratings, so I went and got it.
I have to say that I really like the Kurōto Shikō very japanesque branding, which clearly stands out amidst all the boring and serious looking brands. They translate their name to "Experts Oriented" and they live up to it by not covering their packages with marketing b.s., but rather simply stating the facts clearly.
Also they have some products that seem quite innovative, like the NO-PCI, a cool-looking simple PCI card that when plugged in cancels undesirable audio noise, it's even sold as a make-it-yourself kit. I'd buy it if I had an empty slot.
Oh, and their logo reminds me of Kajino Shōichi's blog's profile image. :)
October 6, 2005
DVD drive broken again
My I-O DATA DVD+RW drive I bought in November 2003 is broken for a second time. I had it fixed once in August 2004 after some DVD-reading problems had shown up, and now it's happening again. This time I'm out of the 1-year warranty though so I'll have to buy a new one.
I'll definitely be staying away from I-O DATA/Ricoh, and also I'll pick a drive that does both DVD-RW and DVD+RW, as getting a DVD+RW-only drive has proven to be an unfortunate mistake (DVD+RW ended up being the Beta of a "VHS vs Beta"-like fight...).
Drives should last more than about a year.
October 5, 2005
Can't help but dig the San-X character pair Monokuro Boo!
October 3, 2005
Yesterday we went to see the X-COLOR exhibition (日本語) at Art Tower Mito (水戸芸術館), in Ibaraki prefecture. The exhibition showed works of about two dozen Japanese street artists. The exhibition doesn't limit itself to the walls of the gallery, but also spreads around the city, as all exhibited artists have been commissioned to legally paint walls in 13 spots.
My best moment of the exhibition was to find a large installation by QP. If you've been in Tokyo, you've almost certainly seen his works all over the city. Just last week during my three-day seminar, I remember seeing his huge logo from Yurikamome line (I think a bit past Daiba station). The phoenomenon has intrigued Jean too!
This installation showed creative uses of QP's unmistakable logo stretched on adjacent surfaces when seen from a certain perspective. Walking around the room and finding one more huge instance was so much fun!... So much, that I think I even forgot to look at the other works in that same room, oops!
Of the large amount of artwork that amused me, here are a room transformed into a junk yard (one of the cars had a boom box playing hip hop), and a sumo fight.
I love Art Tower Mito for it being a landmark symbol of art and coolness in a city where otherwise it would be lacking. Also, it always hosts cool exhibitions making it almost worth the trip from Tokyo. Last time we went was the great Yes Yoko Ono exhibition.
This time, because of the graffiti exhibition, there were many skater kids around the place. I wonder if it will remain that way after the exhibition ends (December 4).
October 1, 2005
Looking at the ashita mania~na home page now, the cute cat seems to me like it looks a bit sadder than usual. After 7 years airing Monday to Friday, the very short program featuring narrator Hamada Mari (ex-Modern Choki Chokies) announcing entertainment news is now over. Tonight was the last, and their last news was that the show ended, showing Mari-chan receiving flowers. What a shock...
I will definitely miss that one!