madness in the metropolis 

Ninja Tune Zen TV II Timetable up

Just a quick one to let you know that the timetable for this Friday's Ninja Tune extravaganza (see here for an earlier post) is now up on the Beatink website.

As always, there are a couple of annoying clashes, but that's kind of inevitable when you have multiple quality acts spread over three stages in a single night. The big three don't overlap, though. I think I'm going to be aiming for DK, then 30mins of Daedelus, then Matt Black's DJ set, then the first half of Jon More's DJ set, then probably the entirety of the Hexstatic, Coldcut and Kentaro sets in the main hall. Possibly I'll squeeze in little trips to the Spank Rock live set, if only to catch a glimpse of their much-vaunted Air Cock Thrust manoeuvre (don't ask; click if you must, but don't ask) in the raw. Also I'd quite like to catch bits of Skalpel and Rainstick Orchestra. And Dom. Ok, fine: I want to see EVERYONE. Curse this whole being-in-one-place-at-one-time thing.

If you don't already have tickets, grab 'em while you can. I think Lawson and Ticket Pia stop selling them a couple of days before the gig, so go go go.

Posted by chris at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Assorted linkery for April 1st (no, really)

Hah, yeah, I could sit on the sofa and read these magazines, or I could actually spend the entire evening surfing the interwebnet. Top picks:

Posted by chris at 11:56 PM | Permalink

Byte Size 060401 at Bar Aoyama

Fans of fucked-up laptop techno should get along to Bar Aoyama tonight for Byte Size 060401.

Not sure I'll be able to make it, as I'm now very firmly installed on the sofa with a pile of magazines to read through while the missus is out at a hen night. That's how we mice live it up here at Tokyo Tales Towers when the cat's away: The Economist, Empire, and Edge.

Posted by chris at 06:21 PM | Permalink

Sony to Ditch UMD Movies?

I wondered if this might happen: UMD Movies for PSP Now on Endangered Species List

Only one year after Sony launched the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in the U.S., rumors are brewing that production of feature-length movies based on the PSP's proprietary Universal Media Disc (UMD) format will come to a screeching halt.

Since the launch of the PSP, sales of UMD movies have gone from underwhelming to almost invisible, prompting experts to predict that the end is near.

Part of the reason Sony is having this problem, said Mukul Krishna, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, is the proprietary nature of the UMD technology. While most other developers are moving to open formats that offer greater interoperability, Sony's focus on developing its own technologies ties users down to a single device.

"Anyone who is going for anything proprietary is shooting themselves in the foot," Krishna opined. "Unless it is a very niche market, it makes no sense having a proprietary format."

Will Sony ever learn? First they invent an MP3 player that doesn't play MP3s (which they had to phase out when, surprise, no-one bought it), then they sneak malicious, non-removable spyware onto their customers' computers and, when caught, lie about it. (Also, be sure to check out their amazingly invasive and restrictive end-user license agreement (EULA) from around the same time.)

And now, yet another attempt to force users into purchasing proprietary formats comes back to bite them on the ass. Well done, Sony. How long before they just split the company right down the middle?

NB: The article doesn't explicitly mention the UMD's future as the media for PSP games, only movies...

Posted by chris at 12:25 PM | Permalink

Assorted linkery for March 27th

  • I can't wait for this to come true: Google in 20 years [via linkmachinego]
  • From the New Yorker archives on his own site, Malcolm Gladwell on SUVs: Big and Bad. Favourite part: the true significance of cupholders when choosing which car to buy. [via]
  • Interesting photo gallery of the deserted "giga industrial ruins" island of Gunkanjima, off the coast of Kyushu. I'd love to run around this place for a day or two with my DSLR. (The site itself is nasty Flash overkill, sadly, and mostly Japanese-language only. A plainer English site is here.) [via metroblogging tokyo]

Posted by chris at 06:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Spanking size-case

It's been a productive day here at Tokyo Tales Towers. Had a loooong lie-in (I like to get the weekend off to a good start), booked flights back to the UK, researched shipping options, bought assorted sundries related to the move, watched some classic episodes of Frasier.

But the highlight was undoubtedly finding a beautiful piece of Japlish on a neoprene sleeve thing I bought to carry my spare laptop battery. I didn't even notice this until I got it home - you know how it gets in Tokyu Hands; fatigue starts to set in after about the second hour of continually going "Ooh! That's cool! I need one of these!" - but when I actually took the time to stop and read it, I laughed so hard that milk came out of my nose. And I wasn't even drinking milk at the time.




Ah, where to start? So much to admire, so little time. Firstly, the "Spanking!" is in a swirly mock-Ford logo font, whish only serves to emphasise its jaunty Boys Own Adventure pluckishness. Then of course we have the mysterious "it", which we are assured we will find "up completely", not merely "at anytime" but also, miraculously, "at any purpose". I have no idea what they're talking about by now. Something timeless and versatile... maybe Blu-Tac?

And lastly, the Geordie dialect is finally embraced by Japlish copywriters: "That's something, like." To which the only appropriate response must surely be "Hadaway man, ya taakin shite."

Posted by chris at 10:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

May the Telnet be with you... always

Ok, there's having too much time on your hands, and then there's really having too much time on your hands. Like these guys: an ASCII-animated version of Star Wars Episode IV.

You need Telnet for this to work properly; if the above link doesn't work automatically, you can also watch it here via Java. But, you know... bor-ring. Telnet has much more lo-fi geek cred, IMHO.

[Thanks to Peta, Jedi geek in training, for the link.]

Posted by chris at 07:43 PM | Permalink

Heehee heehee heehee heehee heehee heehee heehee

We rearranged our office layout a little while back and the net effect for me has been a horrendous increase in neighbouring chat levels. Actually it's not the chat that I mind so much as the high-pitched Japanese female giggling, which is of sufficient volume and frequency (in both senses of the word) to drive me slowly insane. It's become so embedded in my psyche that it seems to have morphed into some kind of subconcious trigger; I just have to hear one of my colleagues *start* to giggle, even quietly, and I'm immediately furious. Bah.

Enter Noise, a handy little application for the Mac (OSX 10.1 or higher) that plays nothing but static, all day long. It's bliss. It sounds a bit weird to start with, but you soon get used to it and it's extremely effective at blocking out the sounds of any hyenas that might be mating nearby.

Now if I could just find an application to block the smell of their bento lunches... I tried downloading Pong, but it didn't quite work like I hoped.

Posted by chris at 03:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Star spotting

I'd submit this to Gawker, but I don't think their catchment area extends as far as Minami Aoyama. Anyway, spotted Ken Hirai at Las Chicas yesterday afternoon. He and his female companion arrived in a taxi (which then presumably had to reverse all the way back to Aoyama-dori, given how narrow that alley is); he wore sunglasses and a surgical mask, which did nothing at all to disguise his identity, given his height and distinctive (i.e. funny-shaped) head; she ate but he just had a coffee, as far as I could see. A few of the Japanese diners appeared to notice who he was, but all but one (who appeared to be industry anyway) remained too cool to approach him. I think you actually lose seating privileges or something if you do anything to break the studied air of nonchalance.

Posted by chris at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Ninja Tune "Zen TV II" night at Ageha, April 7th

A quick clubbing alert for all you Tokyo Ninjas: you'll want to make the trek out to Ageha in Shin-Kiba (I know, I know, but it'll be worth it) on Friday April 7th for a massive Ninja Tune night of block-rocking breaks and beats: Zen TV II.

The line-up is as follows:

We saw Coldcut at Electraglide last November, and they put on a great show, including a tantalising five-minute slice of DJ Kentaro, who was excellent - can't wait to see him do a full set.

The Ageha website is, maddeningly and inexplicably in this age of CSS and cross-device design, Flash-only, so I can't point you directly to the listing page. To save you wading in through the three (three! count 'em!) separate "Skip Intro" movies, I can tell you that doors open at 22:00; tickets are ¥6,000 on the door or ¥5,500 in advance and can be bought from Ticket Pia (P-code 220-679) or those funky Lawson convenience store vending machines (L-code 38656). There's a shuttle bus service from Shibuya starting at 23:00 and running two or three times an hour until 28:00; see the site - sorry - for more details.

I did actually have a photocopy of a flyer with the complete timetable on it around here somewhere, but I seem to have lost it. Oops. If it turns out I just left it at the office, maybe I'll update tomorrow. So please, people, hold on until then. (Yes, yes, I know.)

Posted by chris at 07:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Taxi for a Mr. Haiku E. Contemporaneously?

You remember our recent spam-sending acquaintance Hildebrand F. Shenanigan? Well, I'd like to introduce you to a few of her friends, courtesy of a mammoth spam-purging session at work last week:

Hobbyist O. Crow
Ferlinghetti G. Headlight
Flank V. Disapproved
Spurts U. Nonaligned
Pushkin D. Outnumber
Fierceness U. Biologically
Repossessed T. Swish
Bouncer M. Frugal
Lamely A. Hopping
Contrivances H. Howell
Profited B. Omnibuses
Hastings D. Business
Haiku E. Contemporaneously
Transitive M. Brazzaville
Parlance B. Conductor
Joaquin P. Special

Almost makes receiving the damn stuff worthwhile, huh? Yeah, almost. At least I'll never be short of suggestions for baby names should I ever have kids. Ferlinghetti Transitive Jennings has a nice ring to it, wouldn't you agree?

On a related note, recently I've been getting a ton of what looks like Polish-language online poker comment spam. WTF? You'd think that whoever programs these bots would bother to check that a site was lacking an approval system for comments before feeding it into their hopper, but apparently not. "Setki foro'w dyskusyjnych, miliony odwiedzin" to you to, pal.

Posted by chris at 06:34 PM | Permalink

Tokyo Tales Glossary launched

Running late, about to dash out of the door for this month's blogmeet at Office in Gaienmae - Stu, if you're reading this, I'm on my way :)

But I just wanted to announce a new toy for you all to play with: the Tokyo Tales Glossary. So those of you readers who don't speak Japanese and find yourselves gnashing your teeth when I pretentiously drop terms like pachinko, pocky, and yoosh into conversation, gnash no more.

I've gone back through past posts and put posthumous pop-up pointers in where necessary - do let me know if you find any that don't work or lead to the wrong definition; it was all done in a recent 3am caffeine and ramen-fuelled rush, so might be a little buggy. Gomen ne. Enjoy.

Posted by chris at 07:11 PM | Permalink

Swivel on *this*, Little Nell

Gah. Too busy to post anything lengthy but I had to share this snippet: the kawaii Japanese female tarento on NHK's "let's learn Italian" show last night was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with, underneath some abstract logo I didn't recognise, the following slice of fried gold:

Dick Swiveller
Oh. My. God.

And yes, I know that Richard Swiveller is actually a character from a little-known Dickens novel, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that, even if our smiling hostess is similarly well versed in the works of England's greatest novellist, she may not be fully cognizant that her t-shirt effectively reads "I spin round on penises".

Posted by chris at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Swedish cockatoo Scalextric game - the return

Oh, fantastic. My favourite online game ever, whose disappearance I had bemoaned only recently, is back: click on "Spela nu" to get going, choose one player or two, build your track, race against the cockatoo. Lose. Be taunted. In Swedish. Ace.

Sadly, I can't get this working on my Mac. Doesn't like Safari, IE or Firefox so far. Damn Shockwave. So finally I guess we have proof that Windows *is* actually good for something after all...

Posted by chris at 11:53 PM | Permalink

Moji: Firefox extension for kanji lookups

Today I've been loving Moji, a Firefox extension that gives you instant translation / detailed on-yomi / kun-yomi / etc of Japanese text in any web page. It's a bit like having sitting permanently on your shoulder, whispering things like "体: タイ / からだ - tai / karada - body" into your ear while you surf. Very cool stuff. [via]

Posted by chris at 08:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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