madness in the metropolis 

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Abstract electro-funk acid hop

Found via vixgirl, the ultimate tool for wannabe clubnight promoters - make your own electronica genre.

Posted by chris at 11:57 PM | Permalink

What's a monster boat?

Swerdloff's merry readership have been hard at work suggesting things to keep me occupied with during the coming week in Noo Yoick - thanks guys, even if I have absolutely no idea what Dingo's going on about with this whole Guns'n'Roses monster boat thing. Sounds like a riot, anyway. All suggestions gratefully received...

Posted by chris at 11:29 PM | Permalink

Oh, god, no wonder it tastes so awful

Oh, god, no wonder it tastes so awful. I've just read the small print: Calpis is a "cultured milk drink" - eeeeeeuuuuuuuuwww. Cultured? Meaning it knows which cutlery to use with which course at a posh dinner party? I think not. "Cow piss" turned out to be rather too close for comfort. Yuk.

Posted by chris at 04:27 PM | Permalink

Cow piss

Bleargh! This Calpis (pronounced, for very good reason, "cow-piss") strawberry-flavour drink is grim. It tastes like the strawberry creme bit out of the middle of a Quality Street (good) but somehow pale, offensive and bitter (very bad).

Gak yuk gak. Would you like some?

Posted by chris at 04:11 PM | Permalink

One roach at a time

Okay: travel insurance bought, city tax paid, large bin bags bought in preparation for gassing of flat.

I'm not sure exactly how the gas bombs work, but the instructions are quite clear about putting all your electrical goods in plastic bags to protect them. I guess they deposit a fine layer of dust, or something, throughout the entire room - presumably this can interfere with circuit boards and the like.

They're certainly effective, anyway. The first time I used one, I triggered it in the kitchen (back in the days when I had a kitchen, not just a kitchen sink - ah, the nostalgia) and then left for work. When I came back that evening, I opened the front door to find a cockroach right on the threshold, under where the door had been - dead. He'd obviously either been in the flat when the bomb went off, and only made it as far as the front door before expiring (how tragic - another two inches and he might have lived), or he tried to come in under the door at some point during the day, took two sniffs and then keeled over on the spot. Anyway, I took my umbrella and practiced my golf swing on the little bugger, pinging him out into the car park. I don't think we saw a single cockroach for the rest of the summer. Chris one, Roaches nil. I'm Tiger Woods.

The last time was a couple of months ago, and it was similarly deadly. I went for one of the pedal-operated ones this time. If you haven't seen one of these, then basically it's a short, squat aerosol with a foot pedal on it. You put it on the floor in the middle of the room, press the pedal with your foot, and run as an impressive plume of grey gas hisses forth from the canister. You have to leave the house for at least a couple of hours, until the gas disperses or settles or whatever the heck it does.

So I got back from work to find, again, a dying cockroach in the corridor, six inches from my door. He'd made it further than the last one, I suppose, but even so - he was clearly on his way to the great under-kitchen-sink-area in the sky, twitching forlornly. Sympathy? Save it for the whales. (Mind you, if I ever get a cetacean infestation then sod that - the big blue bastards are toast.)

It is a measure of just how much progress I've made in dealing with my phobia of roaches that I was able to shuffle him onto a stiff Pizza Hut flyer, bundle him up (a practical use for origami skills - at last), put him in a plastic bag and run out of my apartment building, holding the bag at arm's length, moaning in terror all the way to the nearest public trashcan. Trust me - it's a big improvement.

Posted by chris at 02:01 PM | Permalink

Gas the flat

Shit. Running out of time. Got to get travel insurance (for my luggage) and dollars before Monday.... currency can probably wait till the airport, but insurance... probably not. Don't have to worry about Deep Dish tickets - they don't go on sale till next week. Have to ask Dave and Anita to pick a couple up for me instead. Also need to pack... damn. Have to wash some clothes first. And gas the flat.... damn. Need to buy large bin bags to protect the computer first. No time. Must pay city tax tomorrow, too. Arse. It would be so useful to be ill tomorrow... but no. That would be wrong. Helpful, but wrong. Damn.

I'm not panicked... just pressured.

Most important: 1) city tax; 2) insurance; 3) gas the flat. the rest will have to wait.

I'm just thinking out loud now, aren't I?

Posted by chris at 02:08 AM | Permalink

Rafael Vinoly Architects

It turns out that Rafael Vinoly, the architect who built the awesome Tokyo International Forum (see my photo gallery for some pictures), has a Web site, and some ongoing projects in New York. Hope you're reading this, Swerd - I'm starting to compile a list.

Posted by chris at 12:58 AM | Permalink

My baby is a headfuck

Currently rocking out to The Best of The Wildhearts, borrowed from Brian; merci, Brian.

I don't think I'd heard of them before yesterday, but it appears I've been missing out. They're ace, and their AMG bio makes excellent reading, too... sort of the Sex Pistols meets Aerosmith with shades of The Beach Boys... oh, just find a copy yourself.

Posted by chris at 11:23 AM | Permalink

To do

Note to self: things I need to do before leaving for NY:

  • get traveller's cheques
  • check my travel insurance
  • gas my flat so the roaches don't move back in while I'm gone
  • get tickets for deep dish next month
  • pay my city tax
  • burn a few CD-RWs of MP3s for Swerd
  • get a haircut
  • pack some clothes or something
  • get hold of a copy of TONY for the plane

Posted by chris at 02:04 AM | Permalink

A frightened boy

This is very, very funny and not a little disturbing.

Posted by chris at 10:26 PM | Permalink

Travel plans

Okay, time to make an announcement - I'm going to New York next Monday. There - I said it.

From the 2nd to the 7th of July I'll be in the Big Apple, visiting the fair Swerdloff (dot com). Then I fly down to Atlanta for one night to link up with some journeying cousins before flying back to Tokyo on Sunday the 8th.

If it sounds like short notice, then it is. I've been threatening to inflict myself on Jonathan for months, but it came down to a snap decision late last week. Got the time off, phoned travel agent, bought tickets the next day. Apart from a brief but traumatic panic over visas, it couldn't have been much simpler.

So - got any suggestions?

Posted by chris at 09:17 PM | Permalink

Mumble mumble

CD (plural) shopping last night - was planning to buy a bunch of stuff before meeting up with friends for dinner, but I ran out of time and had to dash back later to Tower. Just had time to pick up the following before they shut - at 11pm. Heh.

  1. REM - Reveal (I've heard nothing but good things about this - haven't actually listened to it yet, though)
  2. Tricky - Blowback (again, no time to play it yet)
  3. Freestylers - Pressure Point
  4. mumble mumble a trance compilation mumble mumble
  5. Catatonia - International Velvet (haven't heard it since departure of ex-girlfriend's CD collection... come to think of it, she disappeared round about the same time... oh yeah...)
Also picked up Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon on DVD; thankfully the Japanese edition has the English-dubbed version as well as the Mandarin and Japanese - only Japanese subtitles, though. Better than nothing, however, and all of the extra materials (making of, interviews etc) are in English - hurrah.

What a great film - I remember watching it in January in the UK (O2 Centre on the Finchley Road - oh yeah: what the hell happened to the Finchley Road in the space of the three years I was away? It's... well... nice now. What the hell?) and hearing audience members murmur "christ... bloody hell... shit" during the first fight scene - the one where Michelle Yeoh has to keep treading on the thief's foot mid-fight, to stop her rising up into the air and flying away. It was the first time in years I'd heard people applaud during a movie... awesome. Happy now.

Posted by chris at 10:58 PM | Permalink

The towelling paradox

It's hot. Damn hot. It's so damn hot, I could cook things in my shorts, do a little crotch-pot cooking. (Good Morning Vietnam, if you were wondering.)

Yesterday was my first two-shower day of the season; plenty more will follow. It's getting to the stage where walking seven minutes to the station in the morning wearing an open-necked office shirt is enough to get you sweating lightly, and by the time you have to brave the subway on the way home, you're practically swimming in your own salt solution.

It's not so much the heat as the humidity - Japan veterans chuckle whenever newbies complain about the June heat, smirking into their beer: "Just you wait until August... oh yeah... I remember the humidity of '93... I lost 20 stone that summer, had to be put on a drip for eight months..." etc etc. Oh piss off.

Another eye-opener for freshly-arrived souls is the towelling paradox: the phenomenon whereby the exertion involved in the simple act of towelling yourself down after a shower is enough to get you so sweaty that you need another shower. Most people give up after a couple of iterations, but it could be a bad time of year for all you obsessive compulsives out there.

Posted by chris at 08:35 PM | Permalink

This meeting effectuates trans-company communications, I believe

Combine Japlish with corporate buzzword jargon, and you get the following - this is a genuine excerpt from a memo I received last week:

Thanks to the entire busy member the meeting was successfully brought off for the first inning. We could confirm this meeting effectuates trans-company communications, I believe. Would you, therefore, please utilize this meeting effectively to harmonize mutual works.
Now, I'm not taking the piss here - whoever wrote it deserves praise rather than scorn, if only for managing to get the word "effectuate" into everyday prose. What I love about this memo is that expressing these kinds of sentiments in such a formal setting is absolutely routine, nay, essential, in a Japanese office atmosphere. The original Japanese text, which I also have a copy of, doesn't seem mawkish or odd in any way - this is just how things are done; it's all about oiling the delicate wheels of office interaction and making sure that everybody is "on the same page". Put it in English, though, and it's complete dross. I'm sure the same thing happens in offices all around the world - just with less wild, over-the-top prose, and a damn sight less effectuating.

Right - I'm off effectively to harmonize my mutual works, and I suggest you do the same.

Posted by chris at 05:28 PM | Permalink

Monson snowboard design contest

Uh, I am working on my inbox, really I am... but I got a little distracted. Monson snowboards are having a snowboard design contest, and you can vote for your favourite. I really liked Simple, Transfusion and Billboard, none of which look like they have a chance of winning - the current first placed entry is, of course, actually the one I liked least. There's no accounting for taste.

Posted by chris at 04:44 PM | Permalink

It's a two minute game...

Time to pull on the full-length wellies and wade into the mess that is my inbox... jesus... Out of 136 messages, 53 are actually from me - reminders to look for Goon shows on Napster, zipped batches of files from work, URLs deemed too important to consign to my browser's favourites list (396 addresses in 32 folders and growing) and emails backward-and-forwarded between home and office.

My target is to get the entire inbox down to twenty messages or less. I plan to achieve this by actually replying to people who have written to me (what?), being ruthless with the delete key and copious amounts of painkillers. It's a two-hour game and your time starts... now!

(Chris: "There's a lot of e-mails in a big pile on the floor... there's a shovel, an incinerator and a filing cabinet... I can't see what to do... I'm coming out!" Will someone please tell me if The Crystal Maze is still showing in the UK? Thanks.)

Posted by chris at 04:01 PM | Permalink

Database abnormalization

Hmmm. Today's lesson from the University of Life: Access 2000 programming skills are inelastic with regard to lack of sleep. It doesn't matter if I get ten hours' sleep or three; database design does not become quantifiably any worse or any better. It's just... there.

Posted by chris at 05:41 PM | Permalink

Tacky Shinto

Blogger's new spellchecker function is pretty good - thanks Ev - even if it does turn "Takkyu Ishino" into "Tacky Shinto".

"glowstickers" become "bootlickers", though - a fitting punishment, if you ask me.

Posted by chris at 05:10 PM | Permalink


Last night was a study in serendipity. Wandering past the Liquid Room at 24:30, on our way somewhere else, we (two friends, said friends' passing-through-on-a-stopover friend and I) noticed a long queue; it turned out that Takkyu Ishino (whose first name - and I swear I am not making this up - means "table tennis") was DJing... so we went in.

What a good night. It was busy, but there was still plenty of space to dance (if you can call it that, in my case) to the furiously fast and enjoyable techno - and the crowd were friendly, too. Only two glowstickers, thank goodness. Again, it's a free world, of course, but standing in the middle of the bar (not the dancefloor itself, you understand - oh no) looking like you're trying to marshall extremely fidgety helicopter traffic while sucking a fluorescent yellow dummy isn't my idea of fun. Kids these days, etc. Pass me my slippers, bad cardigan and copy of the Daily Mail.

I think Nick (the visiting friend-of-friends) really enjoyed it; Liquid Room was one of the places he'd heard of before coming to Tokyo, so it was good that we were able to introduce him to it. The 8-storey marathon queue ("what - we're only on the 5th floor? shit") is always worth it for the tunes and great views of Kabukicho.

Met a very nice Japanese girl called Aya, who introduced me to an Israeli friend of hers: "This is <name> - he is Jude-ish". That one took longer to figure out than it should have, but hey, it was 3:30am by this point. She nearly wrecked a promising friendship by horrendously misguessing my age (don't even ask), but apart from that we got on like the proverbial burning abode.

Got home at 4am to a flurry of e-mails and AIMs, trying to sort out travel plans for July - more on that later. Spoke briefly to el parents; Mum expressed disapproval at my being up so late ("I'm twenty-five, Mum") and Dad told me that he'd arrived home from work to find that Andrew had stolen his car, which is more powerful than his own and therefore better suited to joy-riding around the country lanes of Hertfordshire's green belt. Life as usual in Watford, then.

Posted by chris at 05:02 PM | Permalink


Wow. A meeting which, despite being held half in Japanese and half in English, was concise and productive, with all questions answered and clear courses of action decided upon. Why can't they all be like that?

Plus I just found out that the first corporate website I ever designed is now getting upwards of half a million hits a month. Admittedly, that's more due to their marketing department than it is to me, but still... <sniff>... my baby's all growed up.

It's in danger of becoming a good morning.

Posted by chris at 12:53 PM | Permalink

gmtPlus9 redesign

gmtPlus9 redesigned. I generally pop in to have a "quick" browse only to come away hours later, pledging to cultivate my own sense of design and become, dammit, a better person. Get yourself a drink, get comfortable and get over there.

Posted by chris at 12:06 PM | Permalink

Making me proudly

Junk mail through my letterbox this week - a new apartment block is opening nearby. I usually just throw them away without reading them, but this one caught my eye with its sophisticated English slogan:

Invitation for the Proudly Life.

Sign me up immediately, young man. I happy acceptingly some of that Proudly Life.

Posted by chris at 09:35 PM | Permalink

Destroy Tokyo

Oh, and the current cam shot, if you're asking, is a recently purchased t-shirt. I'll return to the legions of the camned myself as soon as the reality of having shaved off my dodgy goatee has sunk in. G'night again.

Posted by chris at 01:31 AM | Permalink

Feeling Like a Dummy - for Dummies

Not much to report today - Monday mostly spent trying to clear up my hard drive, backing things up onto CD-RW, analysing one of our corporate sites, performing CPR on Doraemon (one of the office PCs, not the cat-like robot from the 22nd century), wrestling someone else's HTML in order to fail to get a Flash movie to embed correctly, and not installing Access 2000. It can take quite a while not to install Access, actually - it depends on how much reading you feel you have to do first. Might take all week not to do it at this rate.

I found myself torn between an "Access explained in words of one syllable but without offering you any real insight into what is, after all, a fairly complicated and powerful piece of software" book and an "Everything you'll ever need to know about Access so you'd better be damned sure you're ready for this as you'll feel pretty bloody stupid if you have to buy another, simpler book later" tome in Kinokuniya this evening. Chose the latter. I have some pride, after all, though it may well turn out to be misplaced. I may even install the software later. I'm quite down on the Dummies books as the last one I bought made me feel like, well, an idiot. Go figure.

Posted by chris at 01:00 AM | Permalink

Dogs in elk

This story is truly bizarre. I would love to believe it... so I will, despite the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Via, I bring you Dogs in Elk.

Posted by chris at 10:49 PM | Permalink

Fridge contents

Time to resurrect one of the classic features of the old-style Tokyo Tales - the fridge report. The right-hand-sidebar will now list the contents of my fridge. I predict that, unlike the reading and listening to lists, this one will be dead easy to keep up-to-date - because the contents never change.

Really. The vodka's been sat there for at least a couple of months, the orange juice is at least a week or two past its quaff-by date, and the marge has got a nasty shock coming if it thinks I'm making sandwiches at home any time in the near future. And I don't even like beer.

The Drifter, on the other hand, may not see out the evening.

Posted by chris at 10:40 PM | Permalink


Ah, smugness. You can't beat it.

A crushing 11-3 victory, made all the sweeter by the fact that we were both playing out of our skins for most of the two hours.

The best thing about living alone? No-one objects when you boogie around your flat in a victory dance with a self-satisfied grin on your face. Which is precisely what I'm about to do now.

Posted by chris at 10:24 PM | Permalink

Broken breakfast

Mnyah mnyah mnyuh. 4pm... breakfast.... still got some Drifters left over from Andy's visit - problem solved.

Yellow last night was excellent - great house music, space to dance, beautiful people and good friends. More on that later - gotta dash to meet Raju and whip his butt at pool. Any vestigal traces of modesty or self-depricatory manner are somehow shed - I'm going to cane him today, I can feel it. Yeah. Bring it on.

Posted by chris at 04:06 PM | Permalink

Cubic watermelons

These cubic watermelons were in the Japan Times print edition yesterday, but their on-line version didn't carry it. Thanks, BBC.

Unfortunately they're still too big to fit in my ickle fridge.

Posted by chris at 09:19 PM | Permalink

Beautiful space, rarely crowded

I'm going to have to rethink my caption for the Womb link on my links page: "Beautiful space, rarely crowded". Hah. The first two times I went there it was, indeed, almost empty. Last night, though, there wasn't even room to take your rucksack off in order to remove the damn cat, let alone swing it. The place was rammed tighter than the Saikyo line during rush hour - who were all these people in my new favourite club?

It wouldn't really have mattered if there hadn't been the odd pillock dancing against the flow. I'm not normally one to deride others for being individual (especially considering my alien status in this largely monoethnic country), but if everyone else is dancing facing north, why face east and swing your shoulders around aggressively unless you actually want to start a fight? I don't go clubbing so that I can feel hostile towards people - if I wanted that, I'd read more newspaper articles about Japan's largely incompetent and explicitly racist police force. Or maybe just listen to Britney Spears.

Aaaaanyway. The club was great, despite the clamour. Messrs May and Saunderson were superb; I was almost reluctant to leave when we did (about 4am) as it just seemed to be getting better and better.

By that time we had moved upstairs, to a table overlooking the heaving sardines two floors below. The dancefloor at Womb is a three-storey-high space, from the first floor upwards. The second and third floors have bars, comfy seats and full-length glass windows overlooking the dancefloor, so you can hear all the music, get a better view of the lightshow and yet still hear yourself think - and other people talk. If you can hear other people think, then I suggest you see a psychiatrist immediately. Or keep quiet about it and ask them leading questions.

Then it was time for a shared taxi through the streets of Tokyo, racing (or trying to race - too much traffic) to make it home before dawn lest we all turn into pumpkins. Marvellous.

Posted by chris at 07:50 PM | Permalink

Derrick May @ Womb

Okay, can't stop; just back from post-work drinks, time for the briefest of showers before dashing off to Shibuya to see the godfather of Detroit, Derrick May. I know it's rather short notice, but if anyone else is going to be in the area, you could do worse than drop into Womb - promises to be a great night. Bye.

Posted by chris at 09:26 PM | Permalink

To act, or not to act

The remarkably accurate William Shatner acting simulator is much fun... almost too close to the reality to be satire, though, surely?

Posted by chris at 12:38 AM | Permalink

More kung-fu Flash action

More kung-fu Flash action, this time using scanned photos of Bruce Lee's head superimposed on a line-drawing body... Not quite as slick as the stick figure animation from a couple of months ago, but very cool nonetheless. I wish I could read Korean, though I don't think that would add much. Enjoy.

Posted by chris at 10:07 PM | Permalink


The show on TV at the moment appears to consist of a team of six b-list comedians dressed only in flesh-coloured briefs with fig leaves attached taking turns having nasty things done to them... oh, I see. I think they've formed a pop group... called Green Leaves? and they have a song to promote... it's awful...

Anyway, back to the torture. Two had to remain in a handstand (albeit forcibly restrained by their mates), legs akimbo, while a bag of ice was placed on their nuts. See them scream! What fun. Then one was hit on the head with a mallet - ho ho! Finally, one of them lay down on his front on a mat; his compadres pulled his shorts down to reveal his arse... and then some bearded dude shot darts into his butt with a blowpipe.

The Japanese for "it hurts!" is "itai!". By the sound of things, this little lot itai'd quite a bit. Just another regular Thursday night on Japanese TV...

Posted by chris at 09:05 PM | Permalink

Does my bum look big in this?

I've seen these off-duty sumo photos (actually very on-duty) somewhere before, but I can't remember where. Probably appeared in the paper over here last year some time - some kind of official "meet the sumo" event.

Imagine being a two- or three-year old tot, looking up at these guys... normal sized adults are scary enough, let alone the seventy-five ton Musashimaru. Put them in drag and surely the psychological damage can only increase exponentially...

Posted by chris at 04:27 PM | Permalink

Does exactly what is says on the tin

Grrraaaaahh! Roooaaaaaaar! Grrrowwwwwwlll! Stomp flame stomp stomp crash Grrraaaaahhhh!

Excellent. I want some. I want some bigtime. That's this year's Christmas shopping sorted.

Posted by chris at 03:27 PM | Permalink

Mid-Tokyo Maps

Mid-Tokyo Maps is an interesting Flash site which uses a series of interactive maps to explore aspects of urban Tokyo. (Map #06, Tokyo Mass Transit, is particularly groovy.) If the entire site feels rather like it's been put together by a large construction company which advocates rezoning the middle of Tokyo into a high-density vertical metropolis... then, um, that's because it has - and more power to them.

The one statistic that sticks in my mind, though, is this: the central four wards of Tokyo and the island of Manhattan are of roughly equal land area - about 6000 hectares. Yet the total area of those four wards' green spaces is only 38% of the area of Manhattan's single largest green area - Central Park.

Pah. Who needs greenery, open space and fresh air, anyway....? *cough* *hack*... damn fumes.... *cough*

[NB: You can see my flat via their Shinjuku webcam... if you have superhuman eyesight and a very good imagination, that is]

Posted by chris at 12:47 AM | Permalink

Katana in katakana is カタナ

I mentioned earlier that my brother bought a four-foot-long katana while he was here. Imitation, of course. A genuine one, even of average quality, will set you back thousands, if not tens of thousands, of pounds. We knew there was no way he'd get it on his flight home as hand-luggage, imitation or no, but the BA lady I spoke to on the phone said there would be no problem with checking it in as hold luggage.

Wrong. Apparently, no fewer than six policemen were summoned to the check-in desk; one stern-looking man in a suit was also required to verify that it was, indeed, a blunt, fake sword. According to Andrew, they all wanted a go with it. I've never had such interest shown in my PDA, which I think is much more entertaining, not to mention more likely to contain explosives, but there's no accounting for taste.

I couldn't find much info on katana on the net - until I happened across this page, which is long, detailed and rambling in much the same way that outer space is big, dark and difficult to breath in. Wading through it brought up a number of interesting nuggets, however. For example, pieces such as the one that Andrew bought are fine for export, but if you try to bring one into Japan, it will be confiscated - even if you're not trying to pass it off as genuine - because of its inferior quality.

I wonder if the UK should do the same for some of its cultural exports - like the pop music. "I'm sorry, sir, but there's no way you're bringing that Alice DeeJay album into the country. I don't care if you bought it here originally - why do you think we let you leave with it in the first place?"

Posted by chris at 07:57 PM | Permalink


"You're a what?" the approximate reaction of the majority of people when I tell them my job title: Information Architecture Consultant. "What prat thought that one up?", they ask. I chuckle and say, "You're looking at him, actually."

Some definitions of information architecture limit it to designing navigation systems for Web sites and intranets - which is certainly one part of what I do. To my mind, though, it's more general than that: the organisation of information in order to make it not only easy to navigate, but also easy to filter, assimilate, and even customize or add to. (I also liked the idea of having an acronym you could pronounce "yak".) This could be Web sites, intranets, databases, spreadsheets or even (gasp!) print. People usually start getting that familiar glazed look by this point - if I haven't already taken the hint and shut up, that is.

It was refreshing, therefore, to find this the other day.

The entire site is worth a read, actually. Lots of good stuff on design, media, urbanism and more. It seems they've (he's?) just moved to Tokyo, too - looking forward to more of the same.

Posted by chris at 06:36 PM | Permalink

All hail Santa

Okay, the secret's out.

This website is in fact named after a 1993 live album by an obscure German power metal group.


No, of course not. It was christened Tokyo Tales because I was writing about Tokyo and I needed something alliterative, rather than out of homage to the artists behind Battalions of Fear, Welcome to Dying and, of course, Nightfall in Middle Earth, the 1998 Tolkien-inspired concept album.

Time to break out the Napster, methinks.

Posted by chris at 11:30 AM | Permalink


Many many things happened last week, during the Visit of Brother, that I haven't had time to write about yet - but I was saving this particular piece of news until..... now! The ChrisCam has arrived.

Dad's been badgering me to get a webcam for ages - since I arrived in Japan, actually - so we could videoconference with each other. I know, the phone is enough for most people, but we're gadget freaks. If there's a walnut that needs cracking, we'll choose the GPS-calibrated, voice-activated, night-vision targeting sledgehammer with automatic shell harvesting mechanism over the plain nutcracker any day of the week. As long as it's Palm-OS compatible, of course.

The dream was realised on Sunday - Dad and I are chatting away, waving at each other in our dressing gowns, trying to measure the time delay ("Okay, I'll count to ten slowly and you try to join in.... ready?") and of course he calls Mum in to behold the wondrous technology. See what we have built! We are more then men: we are alpha-geeks. Mum takes one look at the screen, broadcasting and receiving real-time video from six-and-a-half thousand miles away and says,

"It's very slow, isn't it?"

Dad and I just grinned at each other.

Posted by chris at 11:54 PM | Permalink

Evil hair accessories

Why is it that work crises have a habit of waiting until 45 minutes before you're due to finish for the day before rearing their ugly heads?

I'd like to be able to claim that I immediately and swiftly dispatched said crisis with a masterful flourish and contemptuous twist of my pencil-thin arch-villian moustache, but in fact I had to fight through a series of false starts, dead ends and computer crashes to find a half-baked, intellectually unsatisfying workaround, with nothing more dastardly than the odd scratch of my uncomfortably itchy goatee.

I need a better evil hair accessory. Mail me your evil hair photos, so that I may begin my scheming...

Posted by chris at 09:07 PM | Permalink

Sputnik Sweetheart

Oh my god.

That was brilliant. There's probably nothing I can say that will do it justice - read Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. Just read it.

All the way through, I was convinced that it was going to have the same kind of ending as South of the Border, West of the Sun - which would have been fine, considering the tone of Sputnik. But instead... speechless. I'm drained and thrilled.

I'm also gushing far too much. Off to find some tissues. Sniff.

Posted by chris at 02:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Who's a pirate's favorite French existentialist who isn't Camus?

Question: What's the third letter in "pirate"?


heh heh heh heh heh.

Posted by chris at 03:38 PM | Permalink

You twat monkeys good, soldier

The monkeys have you. Now there is no hope.

(via blast!blog, originally via someplace else, because this is how these things work)

Posted by chris at 08:28 PM | Permalink


Yummm. Half a box of cookies discovered under pile of clothes - let there be breakfast.

Posted by chris at 03:33 PM | Permalink

Beautiful from 35,000ft

Gshnarglarsh. Just woken up, 2:45pm, mouth feels like bottom of proverbial parrot cage, knackered after late night and early morning. Actually the second time I've got up today; the first was at 6-fricking-15-am to escort Andy to Shinjuku for his train to the airport - put him safely on Narita Express with suitcase of stuffed clothes, rucksack of assorted crap he might find useful on a twelve-hour flight (books, water, anti-DVT socks) and a nearly-four-foot-long katana. Blunt it may be, but there's no way he's getting that on board as hand-luggage.

By now he'll be over Siberia, maybe looking out of the window and marvelling at how big it is. Because it is. Hour after hour of wideness, mountain ranges and plains, terrain that doesn't so much have features as textures. It's beautiful from 35,000ft, anyway - less sure about closer up.

I'm meant to be going to Brian's gig in.... shit. In wherever the hell the Star Pines Cafe is. Koenji? Ogikubo? Kokubunji? (I would usually swear these are all real placenames, but they seem somehow remote at the moment...) Definitely somewhere Chuo-line-ish. Could have sworn I had a flier. But it starts at five or six and I have stuff to do... flat looks like, well, like it's had two complete slobs dossing in it for the last week and a bit. Can't imagine why.

Okay: time to spring into action. The best bit about futons is that, to get out of bed, you just have to stand up.

Posted by chris at 03:05 PM | Permalink

Brotherfest 2001 update

The brotherfest continues. Lemme see...

Tuesday was souvenir shopping in Harajuku, followed by a trip to Odaiba. Odaiba is an artificial island, built entirely on reclaimed land; rubbish and sand piled into Tokyo Bay until you can walk around on it. It's either a wonder of modern engineering or a rather unsettling reminder of Tokyo's somewhat dubious methods of waste-disposal.

The shuttle to the island runs from Shimbashi, which is one huge construction site. I was expecting Andrew to want to take a few photos of the skyline as we approached the Rainbow Bridge, maybe the bridge itself, Tokyo Bay, the Fuji TV Building - instead, the first half-completed building the train passes, he's like "Oooh! Girders!" and snapping away for all he's worth. Bless.

There's not much to do in Odaiba except shop, go to the cinema, admire the shiny architecture and worry about just how solid all that trash you're standing on actually is, so we didn't stay long.

Back to the mainland for drinks at Dogberry, a really nice bar in Koenji. A few friends of friends also dropped in, and we ended up moving on to another bar with them. Dogberry is full of character without being too eccentric - alien trees, soft lighting, quirky furniture, cheap drinks and excellent music. By contrast, The Hello Kitty Bar, as it's been dubbed, is just plain darned weird. Hello Kitty, Miffy and Winnie the Pooh memorabilia adorn the walls, there are a couple of giant teddy bears lounging around, and the owner sleeps behind the bar. Not in an asleep-on-the-job kind of way: his bedroom / kitchen is actually the space behind the bar at one end of the room. And that's even before we mention the large glossy photos of the owner in his underpants, given pride of place on one of the walls. Or the CD of mewed Christmas carols. Or the drum kit. A deeply personal bar, in short, run by a deeply disturbed individual. Beats Irish theme pubs any day of the week, if you ask me.

Posted by chris at 05:23 PM | Permalink

Snot funny

Gak. My snot is not only copious, it's yellow. That ain't good. I'm waking up these days with odd popping and squeaking noises emerging from my sinuses. I wonder if I should send Autechre a demo tape...

Posted by chris at 04:06 PM | Permalink

Mouse rugs

If you're the kind who uses their computer while doing two or more of the following:

  • wearing slippers
  • smoking a pipe
  • muttering about "kids these days"
  • wearing a cardigan
then you clearly need one of these. Also permissable for those with a keen sense of kitsch...

Posted by chris at 03:01 PM | Permalink

Longitudinal I-beam decking

The brother has landed... hence the radio silence for the last few days. I've been busy introducing him to marvels such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and Tokyo International Forum (see the photo gallery). Managed to walk all the way from Tokyo station to the International Forum underground, arriving in the basement of the main hall - your eyes just get drawn along the curves of the rising walkways as the hall reveals itself to you, leading up to the ship's hull roof: one hell of an entrance.

As expected, his reaction was something along the lines of "bloody hell... bloody hell... f*ck..." - but then, he is a (not-so-) civil engineer. He once spent an entire journey up the M1 explaining to me how the army classify bridges into seven types - the more efficiently to blow them up. "That's a simply supported.... there's a pre-stressed... and that one's an overbridge with longitudinal I-beam decking". Royal Engineers: cold ruthless killers or bridge anoraks? You be the judge.

Saturday was arrival and ensconsement in front of the PS2 and not much else; Sunday was Meiji-Jingu Shrine, Freak Bridge, Omotesando, KiddyLand, sunset and cocktails on the 39th floor of the Prince Shinagawa Hotel, fish and chips in a mockthentic British pub and, finally, a couple of hours of pool in the heart of Kabukicho. Monday was the TMG Building, Tourist Information Centre and International Forum, the Sony Building in Ginza and electronics shopping in Akihabara. Yep - I'm tired just reading the itinerary.

The only disappointment so far has been finding out that the Mt. Fuji climbing season doesn't start until July 1st, so that's a no-no. We'll have to make do with looking at it - if the smog lifts, that is. The atmosphere and visibility reminds me of a line from The Limey. Luis Guzman and Terence Stamp get out of a car high on a hillside in LA, and Luiz points out to the west: "You could see the sea from here... if you could see it."

Posted by chris at 11:28 AM | Permalink

S-Club Satan

The truth behind S-Club 7. It seems their lyrics are far more intelligent than given credit for...

Posted by chris at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Blatantly foreign

On the Am I British Or Not? test, I score a mere 40%, making me "Blatently Foreign" (sic). Not sure whether to feel relieved or homesick.

Posted by chris at 11:42 AM | Permalink

Having a morning-hair-water day

Spotted in a chemist's this evening:

Morning Hair Water

Water to smear on your scalp to tame unruly hair (grrr! back, I tell you, back!)? A potion that makes you wake up resembling a werewolf, but leaves you looking like William Hague by sunset? A pick-me-up tonic distilled from someone else's freshly-shaved 7am stubble? Whatever it turns out to be, it can't be good.

Posted by chris at 12:37 AM | Permalink

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