Blog - May 2007 Archives
May 2007 Archives
.29 Email catastrophe
.26 Kiiiiiii vs Tabooooooo live report
.26 LinkedIn being vulgar
.23 Firefighter ceremony and a robot
.22 Kowabunga, dude!
.21 Secret arcoroom
.16 Man at work
.13 Meeting Rocketman
.11 #beck memories
.09 Passport good to go!
.09 No finger for me after all
.06 Sally Soul Stew live: report
May 29, 2007
Yesterday Thunderbird went nuts and I lost my whole inbox except for the last 24 hours or so.
If you emailed me at this domain over 24 hours ago and are expecting a reply, perhaps your email was on my "to do" list and now it's gone. When in doubt, please resend.
May 26, 2007
Kiiiiiii vs Tabooooooo live report
Yesterday I had a fun time at Kiiiiiii's first "one-man" live show, held at small cozy venue Shinjuku Red Cloth. The place was packed!
First on stage was newish act Tabooooooo, two "high school boys from Hokkaidō". They were more of a comedy sketch, telling about themselves and about the upcoming song that would always ended brutally after one bar, whether it was because of a broken [cardboard] guitar string or forgotten lyrics. Funniest of all was that everything was pre-recorded and the
girls boys just lip-sync'ed over it! I really liked their full rap song.
After a short break, Kiiiiiii got on stage and they played for over an hour. As always their set was full of non-stop energy! Aside from being longer, it seemed pretty much the same as what I recalled from seeing them at Marquee's Girls Punk Party over a year ago. Nevertheless I was in need of a Kiiiiiii recharge, and I was pleased.
I want that crocodile!
LinkedIn being vulgar
Today I received a request on LinkedIn (a social network for business partners) from someone named Christopher, and the interface abbreviated his name to "Christ..." resulting in a somewhat insulting button. :)
May 23, 2007
This week a workmate was cleaning up some old boxes of stuff ready to go to trash, and I could save these few floppy disk sleeves. Although these are all Japanese, the front designs are all in English since that's considered somewhat "cooler". Instructions on the back are bilingual though.
I've submitted this to The Original Disc Sleeve Archive where I hope they'll join the great collection.
3, 4, 5. FujiFilm Super HR
6. Fujitsu FM Series
7. Fuji Xerox
8. Fuji Xerox System Service
In my book, the Fujitsu one is a real keeper! "FM Series" refers to their home computer line, such as the FM-8 which used a 6809 CPU, the same as what was in the Radio Shack/Tandy Color Computer that we had at home in the 80's. Someday (when I have more space) I'll get me a FM-8!
Firefighter ceremony and a robot
On the way back from the Wada pump facility, I witnessed this ceremony held by firefighters. I wondered if those were vintage firetrucks or if they still have a purpose.
And here's a bonus invader robot, seen a bit later in Nakano-sakaue. Don't get in front of his laser-throwing fingers.
May 22, 2007
On Sunday we went 50 meters (164 feet) underground Suginami-ku and visited a gigantic reservoir meant to drain water when it rains way too much. This is a last resource fall-back mechanism that's only activated when the sewer system is totally full.
The main reservoir, that takes the shape of a 2.2km tunnel of 8.5m of diameter (as high as a 3-story building), can hold up 120,000m², or the equivalent of "500 elementary school swimming pools". Ok.
After the rain has stopped and the sewers and Kanda-gawa are back to normal, the water is pumped back up 50 meters by huge pumps in two locations, and sent to the water processing center after which it's then put back into Kanda-gawa.
In our journey, we wore our blue hats into Wada pump facility, walking 14 floors down through a small staircase. There we walked through a smaller tunnel that led to the large reservoir. After some explanations, we went back near the bottom of the stairs and peeked up the "drop shaft", a vertical tube that has a screw design inside meant to carry the water smoothly down 30 meters, because if a lot of water would fall 30 meters straight it would be very loud and would also cause damage to the structure.
Then, we went up about 10 floors, this time we peeked down the drop shaft, peeked into two more tunnels that lead water here from the sewers.
Back outside, we were taught some more stuff and got freebies and some tea.
So here are some of my out-of-this-world photos. For more, check my Flickr.
Oh and, no, I didn't get to meet the Ninja Turtles.
May 21, 2007
Takanami K-taro and Nishimura Ikuyo, their new unit arcorhyme has done a first CD-R release!
Turns out that since early P5, K-taro is friends with Nagato Yoshirō, who used to be the owner of a record shop called Pied Piper House. Nagato-san now runs the shop Recomints in Nakano Broadway. For that reason, they did a special interview with Recomints and are selling that demo CD-R at the shop, only it's limited to 20 copies!
Of course, Nakano being my 'hood, I didn't wait any longer and got my own of that rare-to-be item! The CD-R, titled "himitsu no arcoroom" ("Secret arcoroom") is autographed by both members, and included is their microfiber handkerchief and a lyrics sheet. Would you believe that I even got #001? :)
The songs are beautiful, fresh-sounding pop songs, and being K-taro's music with female vocals they do remind me of early P5. The three songs are interleaved with talk in the spirit of their "arcoroom" podcast, talking about things like their first visit to Nakano Broadway and the reason for the "arcorhyme" name ("arco" is Italian for a return to bowing after "pizzicato"...!).
Next I'll be looking forward to see them live!
Actually, they'll be performing in an all-night kayōkyoku event next Friday at mona records (Shimokitazawa), but it seems they won't be playing their own songs. Sally Kubota and K-taro will also be DJing.
May 16, 2007
Man at work
Here are my latest photos of 安全太郎 (Anzen-tarō, or John Safety if you will), a favorite photography subject. This one was hard at work waving the orange stick across from Nakano Sun Plaza.
And once again the Flickr Uploadr glitched on me. Eew. Now I just upgraded to the latest version, hopefully that will help.
May 13, 2007
Today I went down to HMV Shibuya for Rocketman's CD and book signing event!
That's right, it's comedian Fukawa Ryō. I'm a big fan not only of his music (his two latest solo albums are great!) but also of his one-liner gags and his old disco gym lesson-like videos. It was great to finally meet him. :)
May 12, 2007
You might remember that I had leg problems about 2 years ago. After some months it had got better. But now since a month it's back, and for the last 2 weeks it's been worse. Whatever I do my left leg is constantly hurting, though more acutely when I'm sitting.
Today I went back to the same clinic to get it checked, and the doctor diagnosed that it must be spinal disc herniation in my lower back. I was sent to another place to get a MRI scan. It was my first time, so I was a bit nervous but turned out that it wasn't a big deal.
I changed into hospital clothing and after waiting a bit I was called to the MRI room. There I laid down on the thin bed, with my legs slightly elevated on some sort of table. I was told that the MRI machine is quite loud, and was lent some special headphones through which streamed some soft music. Since no metal is allowed inside the MRI, the headphones don't have wires but instead vinyl tubes.
The bed was lifted up and entered the MRI machine, only the top half of my body, and the test started. The machine was quite loud indeed, ranging from gabber-ish loud bass beats to some dot-matrix printer-like sounds, I thought it was a little bit entertaining. It only lasted about 15 minutes, and cost about ¥7000.
I was given the huge slides which I'll have to bring to my doctor on Monday. Just knowing the result won't fix anything, but hopefully something can be done from then on...
May 11, 2007
I think it was over 10 years ago when I would hang out all the time in the #beck channel on the Undernet. There were a lot of nice people in there all the time, and here are some memories.
First there was operator Truck. He was a very nice guy though I think he'd often speak non-sense that no one would understand, or he'd be out with a weird away message. For a while I recall he was called Pants too. Anyway, he ran a great Beck fan site back in the day at http://www.rain.org/truck/ (dead), when Beck didn't have a site for himself. It contained all lyrics known to the human species and a lot of other cool stuff. The design was simple, using frames, but it was perfect. Years later Beck hired him to start beck-web.com (dead) that later became the beck.com that we all know. Truck still runs the site to this day, and without his old fan site today's site surely wouldn't be as complete.
Tell me about a success story where a guy who does what he likes gets hired to do it better, yeah!
I also remember a guy called Port who was also almost always there, he was a good friend of Truck. He lived in the mid-east U.S. I think, while Truck lived in California. Port made some music (so did Truck), and we'd sometimes exchange our MP3s in the channel. I can't remember any of it, but well maybe it's still sitting on a hard disk somewhere..!? Or maybe not. Together they had made a beautiful Flash fan site for Warp Records band Plone.
Next, can't remember nicknames, but there was a guy in Canada (Ontario I think) who put together a fan Beck tribute tape. Users from the channel recorded covers of Beck songs, or simply a Beck-inspired original song, and all sent them by mail to the guy who put it together and sent it back to everyone. I participated with my band Glad en Mono, and it was a lot of fun! We did a version of "Hot Wax" that was much too close to the original. When submitting our track by tape in the mail, I had somehow left some unrelated outtake on the B-side, and it ended up as a hidden track on the tribute tape. I think Beck was also given a copy of the tribute.
Other people I remember well were Magoo and Beany of the Philippines. They were in an experimental band called Faust! formed of 4 teenage siblings of the Syjuco family, Magoo being the youngest at about 12. Vocals were in English but a song or two was in Tagalog. At the time they posted their entire album in MP3s on their web site (maybe it was faust.com.ph (dead)), which seemed to be an unpopular thing to do at the time, and they got some press attention from that in their country. They sent me Faust posters, which I was very proud of (maybe I was the only Canadian with a poster of their band on my wall?). I found this interview from 1998.
Anyway yesterday I was Googling these people by curiosity, and found out that Magoo (real name Maxine) has become a model and also poet and performance artist in the recent years! I was delighted to find some video on YouTube, as recent as a month or two ago. I like these bits with her band Utakan: 1, 2. More stuff here.
Why all of these flashbacks all of a sudden? It's some MySpace user representing T-shirt brand named Truck (unrelated it seems) that triggered this blast from the past. I allowed their add just because of that. Thanks!
May 9, 2007
Passport good to go!
Last week I received my new passport from the Canadian Embassy, it's good until 2012 (5 years). The Japanese are lucky because they can choose to get a passport of 10 years with twice the amount of pages. Us Canadians can pay an extra $5 for more pages, but it's still only good for 5 years.
So this morning I headed to the Tokyo Immigration Bureau again, and got my visa and re-entry permit transferred to the new passport. Last time I was there I had the genius idea to get the necessary form, so I just had to drop it at counter A (which this time wasn't crowded at all), and then wait.
I got my #55 at 9:08. Sometimes the pace was quite fast and I thought I'd be out by 9:30, but it got stuck now and then for a few minutes. I was out by 9:50 though, which is not bad at all.
Next step: go to the ward office and get my new passport number written on my alien registration card. That will be no big deal, I can go at 8am when there's usually about no one and it only takes a few minutes.
Then I think I'll be free of bureaucracies for a while. Hurray!
While in Tennōzu Isle I took these photos from the bridge.
No finger for me after all
Last year, most banks added to their ATMs a small scanner that checks your identity by scanning one of your fingers. Banks don't require to submit your finger data, the service is optional and only for increased security, and it doesn't replace the usual PIN which you still have to enter.
They didn't advertise it at all, but the post office (which also offers a banking service) also did the same to their ATMs, and for a while they even offered a free upgrade from the normal magnetic ATM card to the new IC card that's necessary for the biometric check. Comparatively, my bank (Mizuho) asks for a ¥1000 fee to do the same thing, unless you sign up to their "mileage" credit card that I don't want.
Being the curious type that I am, I upgraded my post office ATM card, and added my biometric data to it. So every time I did a withdrawal, I had to verify my identity by putting my finger on the scanner.
What's stupid though is that the finger scanning is actually optional, you can skip it and only enter your PIN, or simply use an old ATM without the finger scanner, and you can still withdraw. More stupid is that it makes logging in slower than usual (I guess that the ATM downloads your biometric data from somewhere), and also the scanning fails about half of the time.
The only real advantage to doing the scanning is that it does allow you to withdraw larger sums, but personally I only use my post office account as a backup where I keep a small amount to withdraw during the weekend (withdrawals being free at the post office, and they have ATMs in a lot of places). So in my case it was just a hassle, and I got tired of it and ended up getting them to delete my biometric data.
At least I keep the IC card which can also be used to store Edy electronic cash, but otherwise I didn't get anything out of this. :)
May 6, 2007
Sally Soul Stew live: report
First, here's a mini-biography, right from the top of my head, for those who don't know Sally. (Shibuya-kei 101 graduates can skip.)
Sally Kubota (a man, don't double-check) is a bassist that's been active in the music scene since the mid-80's, and has went through a variety of genres and bands. In the late-80's, he was in a neo-GS band called The Phantom Gift. In the early/mid-90's he led a band called Les 5-4-3-2-1, there he wrote and produced songs ranging from French pop to idol pop to club music, and the whole was classified as Shibuya-kei. The unit's former singer was Hitomi and was later replaced by Matsuno Arimi (formerly of idol group Ribbon). After Les 5, Sally also had a band called Pillow Talk 4, said to be a mix of neo-new-wave (neu neu!) and psychedelic rock, together with Kojima Mayumi and surf guitarist Naka Shigeo.
In 2007, Sally is back with Sally Soul Stew, a name he had used at least once a long time ago for a song on a compilation. The album "uchū de Rendez-vous ~Rendez-vous à l'univers~" self-covers songs mostly by Les 5-4-3-2-1, a few by The Phantom Gift, and features a bunch of guest female singers. All the styles Sally has played since he began his career are found mixed up together.
There was first an opening act by The Young Folks, a neo-GS band featuring three members of The Strikes, plus a girl bassist who also did some singing. Their set was rock'n'roll and fun, reminding of The Beatles (as The Strikes' early-90's album artwork does).
After a bit of DJing, Sally Soul Stew came on stage! Sally looked great in a vertical-striped jacket and checked pants, he stood in the center with his signature Rickenbacker bass and white coiled cord. The backing band was Great 3's drummer Shirane Kenichi and three members of Hicksville: Mashiro Megumi (on chorus/vocals), Nakamori Yasuhiro and Kogure Shinya (both guitars)... but instead of naming their current bands, Sally presented the members by their neo-GS band names, Shirane and Kogure of Wow Wow Hippies, Nakamori of The Hawaiis and Mashiro of Paisley Blue.
The show saw Sally perform most songs from the album, and featured a bunch of the female vocalists featured on the album, including of course Les 5-4-3-2-1's former vocalist Hitomi, but first on stage was just Sally and the band, and they performed Sally Soul Stew's Theme. Then the show went on with guest singers coming up in turn, each singing a few songs.
Hitomi (ex-Les 5-4-3-2-1): uchū de Rendez-vous (aka Rendez-vous à l'univers), Jazuru kokoro (aka Le cœur qui jazz) and otoko no ko onna no ko (aka Un garçon et une fille)
Kuminko÷Grape (budō÷Grape): Dance senka (aka Les 5-4-3-2-1 et leur style de danse) and Non! Non! Non!
Hayashi Ito: ??? (I remember the song but gotta figure out the title and fill it in later) and Miracle Manège (aka Le manège magique)
Juicy: HeyHeyHeyHey (which included a long solo part where she played the flute)
The guest vocalists were all great, and it was wonderful to see Hitomi on stage singing some of Les 5's best songs! Kuminko÷Grape was especially very cute and funny, I think I wouldn't even mind seeing Les 5 come back with her as a 3rd generation vocalist (as a 2nd choice after Hitomi, of course).
Then, all guests got back on stage for a finale and sang Heart ni OK! together, and also getting the audience to sing "OK!". Of course, the band got back on stage once for an encore of one song, they played Tunnel tengoku.
There was quite a bit of dialog throughout the show, but mostly announcing each member's upcoming activity, no kind of announcement of anything to come from Sally Soul Stew. Was this just a short 4-month come-back? I hope not!
Unfortunately I couldn't manage to take good photos from where I was standing, and the selection you see here are the best ones, you can view the rest (and larger sizes) at Flickr.