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Say "cheesy"

I've added a page of messy, blurry, madly exposed photos taken with my four-lens Lomo Action Sampler to the gallery section - some of which actually came out okay, contrary to expectations.

Posted by chris at 07:58 PM | Permalink

Signs that you may be hung over, #24

Signs that you may be hung over, #24: you try to put the volvic cap back on the ibuprofen bottle (too small), realise your mistake, and then try to put the ibuprofen cap back on the volvic bottle instead (too large). Back to bed - somebody wake me when this "theenking" stuff has got appreciably easier? Thanks.

Posted by chris at 07:05 PM | Permalink


Oh ho ho ho - I wasn't going to mention this lego figurine creation tool, but that was before I realised I could use it to contrast the state I was in last night (Dave's resplendent 30th at Fujimama's in Harajuku, Sky Lounge in Vision Network and UFO at Yellow)...

...with how I feel now.

Posted by chris at 01:27 PM | Permalink

What goes up...

Dimensionality - The latest Mid-Tokyo flash movie is on-line. #22 explores Tokyo's three-dimensionality - or, rather, its lack thereof. I'm sure many people have a vague mental image of Tokyo as the ultimate highrise city but in fact it's flatter than a three-day-old coke. Unending urban sprawl, on the other hand, we do very well.

Posted by chris at 12:32 AM | Permalink

How to motivate your staff

The Subway sandwich franchise near my office are running a healthy eating campaign at the moment - although their idea of "healthy" appears to consist of lots of tofu sandwiches; tofu is bland enough on its own, but tofu in a bread roll... if it's possible to be superlatively mediocre then these guys are pushing that envelope for all they're worth.

In an unfortunate piece of visual comedy, the rather plump member of staff who took my order was wearing a large lapel badge reading simply "Diet!". My first thought was that it was a little harsh of her colleagues to make her wear it; I mean, sure, she was a little on the heavy side, but that hardly justifies ritualized hazing. You gotta love that Japanese humiliation mindset - let's shame the poor girl into shedding some pounds.

But it turns out simply to be their attempt at a snappy healthy cheery feel-good slogan. Which is a shame, because I was hoping the targeted lapel badge idea might catch on. Badges I'd like to see in fast food joints back home include: "Pay attention!", "No, please, go ahead and chat to your slack-jawed burger-flipping idiot co-worker; I didn't want the damn quarterpounder anyway" and "Christ! How hard can it be to operate one of those picture-coded tills correctly?"

Posted by chris at 06:23 PM | Permalink

Hide with Spread Michelle Gun Yellow Elephant Monkey

<voice tone="strangulated">garnet crow is a.... perfectly... normal... name... for... a... pop group.... *urk*</voice>

Posted by chris at 01:32 AM | Permalink

Oot and aboot

Tuesday was the opening night of an exhibition of works by Nicole Collins at the Canadian Embassy in Akasaka. The opening hours are rather restrictive (don't plan to go after work or at the weekend, for starters) but it's worth the journey if you can make it; a really nice collection of abstract paintings awaits you, done in the main with various paint/wax mixtures - highly recommended.

I was invited along a while ago but it was Tuesday afternoon before I got around to checking what time it started: 6pm, sadly, or 45 minutes before I could possibly hope to get there. I asked the embassy staffer on the other end of the line if we'd miss out on anything especially important... "Well..." he said, pausing to give it serious consideration, "you'll probably miss ze best cheese."

His concerns were well founded - Rich, Minako and I arrived to find a number of dozen people milling around drinking wine and admiring the artwork but also, sure enough, a hard core of serious-faced, slightly shabby middle-aged gentlemen clustered around the buffet tables, hungrily scoffing all the soft cheese they could pile onto their teensy baguette slices. You get a better class of homeless in the embassy district, clearly.

Nicole has, incidentally, the honour of being in the first ever mirror project photo - back in the day when it was still called jezebel's mirror. I'd just like to state, for the record, that I have NOTHING AGAINST T'PAU. That is all. No reason. :)

So it was great to meet Nicole, the exhibition was very cool, the Canadian embassy was extremely impressive (any building where you have to go up to the fourth floor just to get in the front door is okay by me), my wine glass just seemed to keep refilling itself somehow and there was even some agreeably powerful cheese left over. Bonus.

The three of us strolled back through Aoyama Cemetary towards Gaienmae. The cemetary is another one of those strange little distortions in Tokyo's time-space continuum; acres and acres of tightly-packed shrines, neatly ordered in rows with a precision that Tokyo's urban planners can surely only marvel at. Trees line the alleys, roots flexing open the road surface and giving the place an atmosphere that's more leafy Home Counties village than teeming uber-urban metropolis of 27 million. Then turn a corner and *pop* - you're on Killer-dori, perfectly positioned among the chic boutiques for for dinner at Hong Hu Asian followed by drinks at GetsuBetsu, both of which are useful additions to my mental map of the area - Hong Hu is open till 3am and GetsuBetsu has superb wax-encrusted candelabras and comfy eclectic furniture.

I feel I have to make the most of these spring nights before the humidity kicks in - which means walking home where feasible. There was no convenient train route home anyway, so I cut cross-country and made for Yoyogi, catching the Chuo-Sobu line the rest of the way - another great Tokyo evening. I could get used to this... though I think, perhaps, the longer it stays fresh and interesting, the better.

(sample, Nicole Collins, The Canadian Embassy, Akasaka, (03) 5412-6200, April 17 to June 14, closed weekends and May 3 & 6)

Posted by chris at 11:50 PM | Permalink

Fuji Rock Festival 2002

Fuji Rock Festival 2002 - the first sniffs of a line-up are wafting in and the odor is promising... last year (Orbital, Coldcut, New Order, Manic Street Preachers, Tricky, Two Lone Swordsmen, Ritchie Hawtin and the rest) was a toughie to beat, though.

Posted by chris at 01:00 PM | Permalink

Boil the dog

Dave, get the iron-on printer paper ready - I want to make myself a t-shirt that says:

(via lynne again)

Posted by chris at 10:34 PM | Permalink

European cats

Heads up, Japlish afficionados in the world! Let's have viewing of Lynne's Japlish pages, fill with snippet examples such as the like of

European cats
Many cats are doing usual life
In the beautiful scenery and the streets.
We can see that one part.
(We can see that one part of, yes, "usual life" - but what about the other cats of whom parts we CANNOT see them?!?!? What they are up to? I am frighten.)

(Memo to self: in future, reserve own synthetic Japlish dialectical generator for internal monologue *only*. That is all.)

Posted by chris at 08:57 PM | Permalink

Care for some gopher?

It's already on the sidebar down there, but just deserves an extra-special dose of pimping.

Posted by chris at 08:45 PM | Permalink

Navel Academy

Oh *there* it is - I was looking for that.

The will to blog. Found it down the back of the sofa. I was afraid I might have outright lost it rather than just misplaced it, so that's a relief.

The last couple of weeks have been rather introspective... there have been some major developments at work which have left me if not depressed then certainly at least perturbed; add to that a couple of bouts of sickness and, I shouldn't wonder, a dose of bad Feng Shui, and the net result is rather more time spent gazing at my navel than usual. I mean, it's a nice navel, sure, possibly rather more hairy than it really needs to be, yes, but it does its job well enough - all the same, I'd rather not be staring at it 24 hours a day. That's what the PlayStation2 is for, after all.

So anyway. Every time I've found something worth blogging over the last couple of weeks, I've invariably gone "ooh, that would be a good thing to... nah. Let's have another go with this navel."

So this is not a relaunch - because I'm too lazy to redesign and people keep telling me they like the colours. It's more of a reassessment. I've been trying to identify what bits of the blog work well (that these bits should even exist may come as a bit of a shock to some of you, I'm sure) and what bits don't work so well. More of the former, less of the latter; more stuff I'm actually interested in, fewer fillers on slow news days. In short, more good Japan-related stuff and fewer teenage russian lesbians.

What about you, then?

Posted by chris at 11:42 AM | Permalink

The superior trainability of the domestic pigeon

Ever wondered how Google actually works? Now you can find out. It works best if you imagine that "now" is two days ago, though.

(via many many places)

Posted by chris at 11:14 PM | Permalink

Tsujimoto admits receiving policy secretary's salary 'donations'

I just popped back online to see
I could remember off-hand / turn up with minimal digging, but got bored after I hit eight in as many minutes.

Bed now.

Posted by chris at 02:14 AM | Permalink

Mizuho Wank

This weekend saw, finally, the completion of the merger of Fuji Bank, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank and the Industrial Bank of Japan. The new entity, Mizuho, is the largest banking group in the world, with combined assets of 145 trillion yen - which certainly sounds like a lot of money. Don't ask me how much exactly, because I'm hazy enough on the difference between American billions and British billions (especially given that most Brits seem to use the American system without realising it), let alone willing to bet on what system the English-language Japanese media use.

Very often with impressively large yen figures, you find that dividing by the UK exchange rate gives you a rather less impressively large amount; I've lost track of the number of times I've found myself reading that some junior level bureaucrat has been caught embezzling an obscene amount of money ("12.5 million yen! bloody hell!") with which to buy racehorses, only to do the maths and realise that in fact we're talking about a considerably less earth-shaking figure ("hang on - that's only 65 grand") - more Robin Hood than Nick Leeson. Sure, £65,000 is considerably more than most people make in a year and is certainly not to be sniffed at - it's just that it's no wonder that these kinds of fraud aren't spotted more regularly at the Japanese Foreign Ministry; your average career bureaucrat could drop more than that on a single sushi business lunch without rippling the surface of the Special Emergency Guest Luncheon Fund.

But I digress. All of that aside, you can rest assured that 145 trillion yen is most likely a very large figure in whatever mainstream Western currency you feel happiest patronizing larger-denomination Asian currencies in.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that, over this last weekend, the largest banking group in the world was unable to open a single one of their ATMs for business. Not one. And now that today is Monday, the merger is completed and normal banking hours are upon us once more, does my old DKB card work in the local legacy Fuji ATM? Does it bollocks.

The merger was announced (wait for it) nearly three years ago. Now I will readily admit that I might be somwhat biased here, having spent the greater part of this Sunday cycling fruitlessly around Tokyo trying to find a legacy Fuji, DKB or IBJ ATM that would allow me access to my own money so that I could pay my rent - which of course has to be paid in cash because this is Japan and it's only the 21st century, after all - but I would nonetheless put it to you that after THREE YEARS of intensive planning (for there is no other sort in this country), it would not be unreasonable to assume that they could have had the collective brains to ensure that their ATMs worked as advertised.

In the end, what did I do? Went to the 24hr Citibank in Shinjuku.

I don't want to come across as a raving prick or anything (no more than usual, anyway) but I think it says something about the appalling state of retail banking in Japan when it's easier for me to get a cash advance, on a credit card, from a foreign bank with minimal presence in Japan, which I do not even have an account with, than it is for me to make a withdrawal from either of my common-or-garden debit accounts with the largest bank in the world, with 6,000 branches and ATM lobbies nationwide.

Rant over. And thanks to Christine for buying me lunch today - I'll pay you back as soon as the ATMs are working again...

Posted by chris at 11:53 PM | Permalink

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