September 2009


Cheese and shiso gyozaReading sleepytako’s review of Gyoza 603 and it makes me hungry for dumplings…

Cheese and Shiso gyoza, thats different but also scrumptious if done right…

We have been trying to find someone who imports good gyoza but nothing beats a freshly made gyoza dumpling.

hands down my favorite issue so far of Oishinbo manga is the Ramen and Gyoza issue.


Su-jsl-yubimojiNow that I am getting a grip on the basic syllabaries of Nihongo, I decided to explore the vagaries of the Japanese sign language.

Best place to start seems to be with the equivalent of the manual alphabet in ASL, the Japanese manual syllabary. This might actually help me a lot with bridging the gap between thinking in English and beginning to think in Japanese. Learning the syllables by how they are pronouced instead of using the romanji as a crutch.

Wiki actually has a nice compilation of the manual syllabary. Fantastic! I lurv the internets on somedays ….

signo_bl_j63Really really want to order some pens for kanji/kana with fine points.  The Uniball Signo .28 mm pen that I got in Kyoto is now my favorite pen to use.

Jlist has Uniball Signo pens in 0.18mm, hrmmmm,  so tempted….

Pen Otakus Unite!!

photoshopI spent some time learning to use the Batch Processing tool in Photoshop Elements tonight. How to use it to add watermarks and rename files, etc.

Wow, is my copy of Elements out of date, 4.0 and current version is 7.

Got a batch of photos done and prepped for Flickr, will need to blog about them later. This was from the September Game day my wargame group organized.

openslotreceiversWe take a little time out here to talk a little bit about college football. I have been reading Chris Brown’s analysis of the USC-OSU game that ended in a Trojan victory. I think Chris’s analysis of the blatantly unimaginative Buckeye offense is dead on.

Tressel’s style has been so bland and predictable over the last few years. I really think OSU needs a reall offensive coordinator and a QB coach who will teach the QB fundamentals to a raw talent like Pryor. I don’t think Tressel should be fired or any of that captrap; he is doing fine as a head coach. He likes to play a “conservative” game. Get a lead and sit on it, run the ball to control the clock, etc. etc. This is so frustrating to watch because you always get the feeling that the Bucks leave plays on the table. That there were essential plays missing. etc. Then there is this, look at the pic on the side:
USC literally lined no one up over the slot receivers, and yet not once did Tressel instruct Pryor to immediately take the snap and throw the bubble screen. For most teams this is an automatic check or sight-adjustment, and it is by no means difficult (every high school runs it). Unless you force the defense tocare that you are spreading the field, then all you’re doing is hurting yourself; Tressel would have been better keeping an extra fullback in the game. Thus the rushing results were obvious. In the diagram above, USC has only one safety back and eight guys in the box, compared to seven blockers for OSU, not counting Pryor. Tressel called an inside handoff that was stuffed — USC had more guys than OSU could block.

Pryor is a raw talent, he needs solid coaching on fundamentals of QB’ing, not how to throw, but how to make reads and checkdowns, that kinda stuff. Tressel Ball is too staid and old fashioned, all Pryor will learn is throwing mechanics and handing the ball off. Throwing to the open receiver to keep the defense honest and open up the running game is sound football strategy. Otherwise the D will load the box and kill your ground game. If the D gives you an open slot receiver then you take it until they learn to stop  it.

Its a testament to the players and the staff that the game was as close as it was. I am not meaning to disparage anyone. I just always get the feeling that something is missing when I watch the Buckeye offense, now I feel that others see the same missing elements and they are able to give concrete examples.

Check out more of Smartfootball.com, for some good analysis of the X and O’s side of the game.

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I am going to try something a little different: translation practise – Japanese into English. Lets look at the first line of this little card i picked up in a soba shop in Shibuya.

The kana in the first line is サ-ビス or saabisu and according to my trusty Kanji book the final kanji is ken, which means ticket.  Looking up the defintion of saabisu we get that it is “service”. since katakana is used for a lot of foreign loan words;  saabisu is the Japanese-ified pronunciation and spelling of the English word servie. “saabisu ken” literally means “service ticket”. Rocket science, this definitely is not.

Tomorrow lets tackle the next line down.

mclaren_mp4-12cMcLaren , the Formula 1 Championship racing team that also makes civilian supercars, took the wraps off their latest – the MP4-12C. Via Jalopnik:

Until today it’s been known as the P11. Now, we’ve got the first official photographs of what we told you earlier is now called the McLaren MP4-12C — the first bespoke McLaren road car since the F1.

but what we all really want to know is what makes the get-up-and-go:

It’s a 3.8-litre 90-degree V8 mounted amidships and producing ‘around 600bhp and 443lb ft’. ‘It delivers the highest horsepower to CO2 ratio of any car on the market today with an internal combustion engines – and that includes petrol and diesel hybrids,’ boasts Antony Sheriff, MD of McLaren Automotive. Expect a CO2 output somewhere just south of 300g/km.

Contrary to earlier speculation, this is McLaren’s own V8, dubbed M838T and breathed on by twin turbos and driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (no manual is available). The V8 has a dry sump and a flat-plane crank like a race engine, to lower the centre of gravity and allow a higher rev limit of 8500rpm.

Every single component of the MP4-12C is unique, vows McLaren. Not a single switch or part is pilfered from a rival’s parts bin.

Drool! I cannot wait till Jeremy Clarkson waxes poetic on BBC’s Top Gear while thrashing one of these about. Check out the full photo gallery on Jalopnik. Hehe, switchblade doors reminescient of the Lamborghini Countach of my teenage daydreams.

paddle shifters and very spartan dashboard. I like the layout of the controls but I want to see it in action, lit up. Hopefully there is a HUD display for the windscreen:

mclareninterior

rc_ramen_cartfrom the this-is-so-useless-its-totally-cool dept:

The latest in a long line of strange and wonderful gadgets from Japan, this remote-controlled vehicle is modeled after one of those Ramen noodle carts you might see on the streets of Yokohama (mama).

The tiny noodle cart runs on 4 AA batteries, and can cruise along at up to 5 kilometers per hour. Luckily, it’s not really a runaway cart, and can be stopped, started and steered with the included RF remote control.

via Gizmodo and Technabob. original (Japanese) from Rakuten.

the hidden bladeContinuing on with the theme of Samurai movies: The Hidden Blade is a 2004 production which embodies the current trend in samurai films, the move away from the “severed limbs and fountains of blood” that I touched on earlier. The current move is toward more humanistic portrayals of samurai, focusing on the emtional conflict between giri/ninjo (duty/morality) that happens when orders to do something which the samurai find morally wrong. From the Wiki:

The Hidden Blade (隠し剣 鬼の爪 Kakushi Ken: Oni no Tsume?, literally “Hidden Blade: Oni‘s Claw”) is a 2004 film set in Japan of the 1860s, directed by Yoji Yamada. The plot revolves around several samurai during a time of change in the ruling and class structures of Japan. The film was written by Yamada with Yoshitaka Asama and, like its predecessor The Twilight Samurai, based on a short story by Shūhei Fujisawa. The soundtrack is an original composition by Isao Tomita.

To sum up the plot without giving spoilers:

The epic tale of Munezo a samurai being displaced in a rapidly changing japan. After a failed political coup he is ordered to prove his innocence by finding & killing Yaichiro a former friend samurai & brilliant swordsman. Munezo enlists the help of their old teacher who entrusts him with a secret technique.

I love the attention to detail in the props. Like the teapot and the hot water bedwarmer.  The photography is gorgeous and the high production values really shine. The story really uses the northern Japan setting to its advantage, you never miss Edo. This was just an excellent movie all around. Action fans craving flashing swords and the aforementioned severed limbs will be disappointed since the pace is slow in building to the climatic swordfight. But I prefer the drama and conflict. The resolution between Munezo and Kie is very satisfying. Very highly recommended.

47RoninI have been into a movie kick lately. For some reason I have been getting into samurai movies big time lately. There is a trend to make samurai flicks more dramatic, more human and get away from the “fountains of blood” approach prevalent in the 70s and 80s.

Watched Kon Ichikawa’s 47 Ronin over the weekend. Its the classic story of the Loyal 47 Ronin. (See the Wiki synopsis of the true story of the Asano ronin here) The revered story of devotion to duty and loyalty (giri in bushido) has been made into countless movies, TV shows, books, and manga. This particlar adaptation is well filmed but very quick, almost rushed. It jumps into the middle of the story and proceeds forward before suddenly bactracking to Lord Asano’s seppuku and their oath that starts the Chushingura story. It also rushes through several subplots with barely a pause for breath. best quote of the movie: “A samurai who doesn’t know accounting is useless.” The action gets rolling at the end and the pacing suits the story well as the battle unfolds. The editing of the battle in Kira’s compound needs some work as the movie fails to get a sense of layout of the mansion grounds across and the logic and planning that went into their attack is lost. All in all the styling and wonerful photography do redeem the movie along with very strong acting especially from Koji Ishizaka. I really want to know more of what happened in the story and plan on getting more on this historical event.

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