sk4ek comments

Posted in: Burlesque See in context

I guess Cher was too busy getting her lips re-plumped...

(Don't get me wrong, I think she's fantastic)

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Posted in: Noose tightens around WikiLeaks' Assange See in context

I haven't read through much of the voluminous background on this issue yet, but they seem to be pinning the question of who provided the files in the first place on an army private already in custody. How would an army private possibly have access to confidential State Department records (assuming he obtained them prior to his incarceration)???

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Posted in: Time for change See in context

Give 'em an "A" for originality, anyway.

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Posted in: Does J-pop really suck? See in context

My only problem is that I like singers who can actually sing, I guess because I grew up listening to artists like Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, the great jazz singers of the 50s, and--much later--Japanese singers like Chiaki Naomi and Tamaki Koji and Yellow Monkey. So whether it's J-Pop or some other genre, Japanese or otherwise, the quality of the singer's voice and lyrics are more important to me than the style of performance.

Which means, of course, the vast majority of J-Pop as seen on TV these days is pretty much nails on a chalkboard to me.

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Posted in: Chocolate eclair latte See in context

"Discoveries" as in "Discover how much better this tastes when you get it freshly made at a Starbucks and not from some convenience store cold case!"

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Posted in: Tokyo remains top gourmet city in Michelin Guide See in context

In absolute numerical terms, maybe the top, but at 10/60,000 vs. 14/160,000, it doesn't sound like Paris needs to be taking on an inferiority complex anytime soon.

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Posted in: Bull's-eye See in context

Yabusame is really exciting to watch up close. It's not so much the distance to the target (which differs somewhat from location to location) but the speed at which the rider takes the course that makes it thrilling.

As for terminology, "umayumi", along with several other terms and variations, is in the written record as far back as the Nara period, but "yabusame" came into common use in the Heian period and later, with the formalization of several different styles and types of horseback archery. There are a variety of schools today, but as in ancient times, yabusame is still enjoyed both as a sport/hobby and as a formal Shinto-based ritual.

Interestingly, the current head of one of the major historical yabusame schools, the Ogasawara school, has a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from Tsukuba University, and now works for a pharmaceutical company. Apparently the Ogasawara school has a long-established tradition that its head should not try to make a living from yabusame, but have some other 'main' career.

I've seen him run several times--he's a great rider for someone his age (only 29).

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Posted in: Electric assistance bicycle See in context

With an estimated 120 million electric-assist bicycles sold in China alone (as of early 2010), hardly what I'd call a "novelty purchase" with no long-term place in the market. As WilliB notes, it's not a question of speed--especially in Japan where bicycles really are the urban pack mules of many families--but a relatively low-cost power boost.

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Posted in: Electric assistance bicycle See in context

browny1--would'ncha know... :-( Not that I could afford one, anyway, but it sure is an artful piece of design!

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Posted in: Electric assistance bicycle See in context

Now here's a truly beautiful electric-assist bicycle... very pricey though...

pimobility dot com

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Posted in: Low-calorie sliced bread See in context

Actually there is a lot of really good bread in Japan, at least in a place like Tokyo where you can find French, German, Scandinavian, even Italian-style bakeries that sell all kinds of "artisanal" breads--baguettes, peasant loaves, sourdough, rye, nut and fruit breads, etc.--that aren't like anything in the supermarket. It's just that there aren't any in MY neighborhood, and the best the supermarket can do for sandwich bread is a kind of ersatz rye. So my rant about mass-produced loaves stands.

And I do wish they wouldn't sell the smaller portions in packages of three slices, though I understand why they do it.

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Posted in: Matsumoto Castle See in context

This is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. I first saw it on a drive from Kyoto to Tokyo (via Nagano, obviously) many years ago, just before New Years. It was surrounded by snow, and, just before twilight, its lower section was blanketed in mist, making it seem to almost float above the ground. Unforgettable.

The castle is hardly an "identikit" example. While it was renovated extensively in the Meiji and mid-Showa eras, much of the wood and stonework are original to it's late 16th century construction. In the latter part of the 19th century it almost fell to redevelopment, but was saved when the municipal government decided to purchase and preserve the site.

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Posted in: Low-calorie sliced bread See in context

Now if only they would come up with a widely-available whole-grain bread so I can enjoy the occasional sandwich without resorting to the hyper-processed, spongy white stuff.

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Posted in: Slimmed-down comic sings praises of tofu & natto based diet See in context

Shaolin7 -- thanks for the sensible advice. I don't know why I'm finding it so difficult to cut back on carbs here, but at least I've switched to whole-grain breads and 16-grain rice (really good stuff), which is a start of sorts. The rest, well, I should know better.

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Posted in: Apple's iTunes music store starts selling Beatles songs See in context

Yep, exactly.

I don't understand what the big deal is. Anyone who is a real Beatles fan probably has all their CDs, or cassettes, or LPs anyway, and if they also have an iPod or other music player, probably have that music on their device by now, one way or another.

Don't be fooled by the hype--this is just a big deal because Apple is treating it like one.

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Posted in: Slimmed-down comic sings praises of tofu & natto based diet See in context

I switched from eating mostly breads, rice, and eggs for breakfast, and now alternate between a bowl of oatmeal with fruit, or a fresh-fruit smoothie blended with low-fat no-sugar yogurt and soy milk. Three months later and I haven't lost an ounce. (I eat a fair amount of tofu, too). Back to the drawing board!! But nothing will convince me to go the natto route, sorry...

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Posted in: Odaiba Xmas See in context

Good point. It's not about the event itself, it seems to be about how much they can make off the event. Valentines/White Day for example.

If "they" refers to retailers, I really don't see any difference between Japan and, say, the U.S. with regard to how holidays are exploited, and certainly the same arguments about how early to "start" the holiday are common elsewhere--and again, usually in reference to when retailers choose to start decorating, offering sales, etc. I was at a major chain supermarket in Hawaii in early September, and they'd already rolled out their aisle cap displays of bagged Halloween candy, pumpkins, and packaged costumes.

People seem to get upset mainly because the religious aspects of Christmas are more or less absent here, but what do they expect in a mostly non-Christian country? And really, how is buying a bucket of KFC chicken to share with friends and family so much different from sitting around the table to share a store-bought turkey?

That said, it sure is a big ol' gay Christmas "tree", isn't it.

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Posted in: Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka lights up for last Christmas See in context

On a documentary the other night, they were interviewing the guy in charge of the hotel's mechanical systems, and he was going on about the woes of trying to maintain a building that is all of 28 years old... the scrap-and-build mentality is so ingrained in the post-war generation; surely a building like this was designed to last longer than two or three decades. (The hotel may be 55 years old, but the current main tower was completed only in 1982...)

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Posted in: JAL unveils new Executive Class seat and in-flight entertainment system See in context

I hope this fixes some of the horrible ergonomic gaffs found on some of JAL's other business-class seat types: headphone jacks located right at thigh level, where the headphone plug gouges into your leg (and still only a two-prong jack, in this day and age, requiring an adapter if you want to use your own headphones); controllers stored on the top of the middle armrests, so every time you lean on them you accidentally turn on the reading light or call the cabin attendant; tables that don't adjust front-to-back; etc. etc.

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Posted in: Washing machine with built-in dryer See in context

About 20 years ago, I lived in an apartment (in the U.S.) that had a combination washer/dryer machine--in the kitchen, European-style--that basically steamed the clothes after the wash cycle. It would take a couple of hours, at least, for them to dry, and shrinkage was horrific. I hope the technology has advanced somewhat since then!!

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Posted in: Kitcho: Japan's Ultimate Dining Experience See in context

(whispering) "Just say your mind's a blank!!"

"My mind's a blank, my mind's a blank..."

If there were a prize for worst damage-control press conference of 2007, that would've been right up there with "Meat Hope"...

But MrDog's right, despite the family/organizational connections, the two restaurants were run independently, and fortunately the loony misdeeds of the Osaka branch did not reflect the practices of the renowned "honke", which suffered only temporary setbacks as a result of the scandal in 2007.

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Posted in: Uchimura helps Japan to early lead at gymnastics worlds See in context

Uchimura's gotten a little full of himself after being crowned world champion--the last interview I saw with him on Fuji was all about him, and little about the team aspect of the current competition--but there's no denying his electrifying talent. I hope the whole team does well this time around!!

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Posted in: Hello Kitty telegrams See in context

TELEGRAMS???????

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Posted in: Fury at Kyoto Aquarium plan See in context

This is the same kind of action that was taken up against the construction of the monolithic Kyoto Station building, and while I greatly admire these efforts to stop what is a completely inappropriate use of public lands and funds, they will likely be as unsuccessful... As a former Kyoto resident, however, I will sign the petition...

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Posted in: Nadal to face Monfils in Japan Open final See in context

I liked the way Troicki doesn't futz around when he serves--for better or worse, he just does it. Good game by both players.

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Posted in: What happened to all the financial advisers making cold calls? See in context

I've had several calls to my cell phone here in Tokyo, from Hong Kong and (from the sound of it, anyway) India. I always let them introduce themselves, say politely "Sorry, I'm not interested", and hang up. They're barking up the wrong tree, in any case, as I have nothing to invest... :-)

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Posted in: Hilton Tokyo commemorates launch of Hawaiian Airlines service See in context

This is the second time elbudamexicano has made broad, negative generalizations about how non-locals are treated in Hawaii, and I really must say, it's simply not true, whatever his/her personal experiences might be.

As someone who lived and worked most of his life in Hawaii, including 15 years in the tourist industry in Waikiki, I know that, with a few bad-apple exceptions such as you would find in any part of the world, most of Hawaii's people understand the state's continuing reliance on tourism, and a great many of them rely on it for their personal livelihoods, as well. They are in no position to be biting the hands that feed them.

Back on topic, sounds like a great dinner menu at the Hilton! I'd go, but I can probably get the same thing for a lot less on one of my trips home.

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Posted in: Domino's Pizza launches English website See in context

I agree with islandview that it's absurd that it's taken an American company over 10 years (the time period from when many companies have developed their own websites) to develop an English version of their website here in Japan.

But it's not an American company, it's a Japanese company with a license to sell products under an American company's name. Not the same thing at all.

Domino is alright. They make a better American-style pizza than Pizza Hut Japan does, I think. I'll stick with Costco, though, less than 1,500 yen for a huge pizza that can easily be baked at home.

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Posted in: Sonny Rollins at 80 still wows loyal jazz fans in Japan See in context

Well, this just makes me feel silly for bitching about turning fifty...!!

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Posted in: Exterminators lock horns with 'super gokiburi' See in context

After growing up with roaches, centipedes, and all manner of other creepy crawlies in Hawaii, I moved to Yokohama and lived there 10 years without seeing so much as an ant (we were on the 40th floor, which I suppose helped). After moving to Tokyo last year, I've seen a total of three roaches in my apartment, all of which probably came from outside (there's a yakiniku place next door). A generous placement of mini-Combat bait units throughout the kitchen and bath seem to have kept them away, even through this last long, hot summer!

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