May 31, 2004

Titty Update

According to the Gartner Group, patrick.com is rapidly becoming the top site for information on restaurants in Japan with the word titty in them. This is quite an honor, but I refuse to rest on my laurels, so:

It turns out that La Sala A-Tittyboo is the upmarket property of the larger Tittyboo chain. I spotted the sign below in Harajuku after a recent haircut:

Secondly, Titty Twister is also apparently competing in the lucrative Japanese wedding reception market. I rode past TT last night and there was a "Happy Wedding!" sign posted out front. Cllick on the pic to get a more legible version:

More news as it develops.

Posted by pmk at 9:19 PM | Comments (1)

May 30, 2004

Email from the Bizarroworld

I got this weird email today at a patrick.com address. At first I thought it was randomly generated text trying to mask spam in an accompanying HTML attachment, but there was no spam to be found. I think this was generated by an actual human being.

It's bizarre and a little bit spooky. Check it out:


    From: "xxxx" <xxx@telstra.com>
    To: bill.wheeler@maps.patrick.com
    Subject: WELL!!!!!!!!

    Well what do you think of this Bill, my friend said that I am a pain in the head, that made me very upset, SO, when I win the $25 mil on Saturday night, I will not be doing the things I was going to do, for example pay off all their bills and anything elso that needed paying off, so they would be debt free, then I was going to take my friend on a year long World Holiday. But then I bet my friend would not come with me anyway. I am finding it very had to cope with the extreme cold weather here.

    Have to break the washing off the line in little bits. Because whats his face had to go back into town to get his money for the Truck Driver and was late getting back I had to help the driver load the goats onto the truck, very cold and very depressing, HE HAD A CATTLE PROD, now I have a burn on my finger. Came back to the house and had a little cry, how unusual. I asked whats his face to change the gas bottle before it left, but it was not done, and I can not lift a full gass bottle, I would have liked to have the gass heater left on all night. Hope you have a great day. LUMUNU

    Mark

Posted by pmk at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2004

One Order of "Lick the Dish Clean", Please!

An excerpt from a recent email, describing this incredible little dish we had at a recent sushi dinner:

The whole meal was exquisite -- about 20 courses of sashimi/"things to have with sake", followed by about 10 courses of sushi.

One of the sashimi courses we had was horse mackarel (aji), chopped up into fairly small pieces along with miso paste, ginger and negi, a long, leek-like scallion common here. We each got a small dish of this simple mixture.

Since mackarel is a pretty oily fish, I was expecting some of that flavor to show up, but it didn't. In fact, the taste of the mixture didn't even really register -- after the first bite, you just knew you wanted more.

After we had finished eating, the chef told us the name of the dish. I didn't get the full name (my Japanese is still pretty rusty), but it was derived from "neburu", which means "to lick". He explained that it gets that name because everyone who has it licks the plate clean -- we were not an exception. The dish was one of the clearest demonstrations of umami that I've ever tasted.

It reminded me of the grapefruit cells + black truffle + salt. A small dish where the whole is significantly greater than the sum of its parts.

Posted by pmk at 4:17 AM | Comments (9)

May 26, 2004

Ashcroft: Clear and Present Danger to America

CNN got the headline right, but the story is wrong:

Posted by pmk at 9:56 PM | Comments (58)

Sad Little Cactus

So leaving the apartment building yesterday, I saw this cactus sitting in the parking lot. It had a note attached that, according to Yukari, said something like:

This is our cactus. We think it needs some sun. Please leave it here. Thank you. Unit #107.

It looked so lonely sitting there in the roundabout in front of the building. It was still there in the evening, when we came back from dinner around 9PM.

Poor cactus! Get well soon!

Posted by pmk at 8:12 PM | Comments (8)

May 24, 2004

La Sala A-Tittyboo

This would be an odd name for any restaurant. But, add in the fact that the place specializes in wedding receptions and you've got True Japanese Weirdness ™.

Posted by pmk at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2004

TX-1 Agonizer Follow-up

After reading about the Agonizer, RS pointed me towards other cool audio ("audio"?) gear.

Rane, a company that produces rackmount audio gear for bands, offers up the PI 14 Pseudoacoustic Infector. It provides such critical features as "Independent Glory and Power Switches" and a "Continuously Variable This/That Level".

Supported applications include:

  • Car Washes
  • High School Cafeterias
  • Funeral Homes
  • Executive Washrooms
  • Cars with Tiny Steering Wheels

Already have a Pseudoacoustic Infector from a competing manufacturer? Try one of Funk Logic's products, then!

Unlike Rane, who actually makes legitimate audio equipment, Funk Logic's entire product line seems to consist of cool looking rack-mount boxes with fancy knobs and lights that do absolutely nothing. The Palindrometer (all text/controls are palindromes -- it even uses "AA" batteries) is a hilarious example, but be sure to check out the others as well.

Posted by pmk at 5:45 AM | Comments (26)

May 19, 2004

The Rainy Season

Well, there is a typhoon creeping our way from Okinawa and it's been wet and rainy for two days running. I think it's safe to say that Tokyo will be kneep-deep in rainy season soon.

Unbearable humidity, searing heat and mosquitos the size of 747s sound like a recipe for a pretty disgusting summer. But, luckily, Starbucks (yes, they are everywhere) has stepped in to help soften the blow.

Starbucks is running a summer "loyalty card" promotion. Everytime you buy a drink, you get a stamp on your special "Make It Your Drink" card. After you've collected enough stamps, you can get some pretty lame freebies, like an extra shot of espresso in your americano or extra whipped cream on your frappucino. If you are super-duper loyal, you can eventually earn a short latte! Woohoo!

But Starbucks has trouble selling coffee on rainy days, I guess. So, if the manager of your local Starbucks decides that it is a rainy day and puts out the magic "rainy day" sign, you get two stamps for each drink. Be still, my beating heart!

I'm only one more rainy day away from my free short latte. Somehow I think it won't be long before I'm able to cash in.

Posted by pmk at 7:34 AM | Comments (1)

May 18, 2004

PMK on Gizmodo -- Whee!

Hey, I'm on Gizmodo! Here's my stunning quote:

Update: Reader Patrick Michael Kane sends this interesting tidbit about Casio's multi-megapixel cameraphones:

Something that hasn't leaked outside of Japan yet, it seems. The Casio 5403CA, the first 2megapixel cameraphone w/ flash & autofocus when it was released here, takes incredibly crappy pictures.

The Japanese cameraphone otaku boards are plastered with complaints about high shutterspeeds, grainy shots, and general poor performance. AU has released a firmware update to try and address these issues, but the general consensus is that it does nothing.

Posted by pmk at 3:05 PM | Comments (0)

Now That's a Salespitch

It's amazing how much I want to buy one of these things after having read the sales pitch. Here's a choice quote:

The TX-1 is the exact opposite of digital: it is entirely analog, and entirely made of vacuum tubes, and does not make anything even slightly resembling 1980s pseudo-nostalgia video-game noises. We hate the 1980s, we hate Super Mario, and the Autobots suck fried maggots. Rainbow Brite and her little Smurf cartoon buddies all deserve to be raped and murdered, and the Agonizer is willing to help. You aren't one of those pathetic creatures who hangs out on eBay constantly, bidding furiously on Rainbow Brite wallpaper, are you? If so, then I suggest you join the METALLICA fans in the pink fairy shop down the street. Ha ha ha.

Sounds cool, I guess. This is exactly the sort of anti-sales pitch that the name We Also Walk Dogs is supposed to be, just with more guts. A lot more guts.

PS - I think more electrical appliances should come with a knob labeled "strangle".

(Thanks Eli! (and memepool))

Posted by pmk at 8:11 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2004

New Domain Holder Spam Technique

Got the following email earlier today:


    From: "Parcon LLC" <parconllc@earthlink.net>
    To: <nospam@example.com>
    Subject: patrick.com
    Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 07:03:28 +0300

    Hello,

    I can pay you USD 1000 for patrick.com Please reply if you are interested.

    Best Regards,

    Parcon LLC


To which I sent my stock reply for unsolicited offers on my domains:

    From: Patrick Michael Kane <nospam@example.com>
    To: Parcon LLC <parconllc@earthlink.net>
    Subject: Re: patrick.com

    • Parcon LLC (parconllc@earthlink.net) [040516 18:04]:
      > Hello,
      >
      > I can pay you USD 1000 for patrick.com
      > Please reply if you are interested.

    Thanks for your note. The domain is in use and not for sale.
    --
    Patrick Michael Kane


About an hour later, I got another almost identical mail from these guys, this time asking about naperville.com:

    From: "Parcon LLC" <parconllc@earthlink.net>
    To: <nospam@example.com>
    Subject: naperville.com
    Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 07:03:28 +0300

    Hello,

    I can pay you USD 1000 for naperville.com
    Please reply if you are interested.

    Best Regards,

    Parcon LLC


Cute trick. Most people who went out and registered domains just to register them will jump at the chance to get $1k for them and will reply. Spammer then gets a list of known good email addresses to spam. Whee!

Posted by pmk at 12:06 AM | Comments (10)

May 16, 2004

Japanese Seaman Recruitment

The Japanese need more seaman, apparently. So they decided to film this commercial. It's incredible and, according to Yukari, currently playing on the jumbo-hypo-mega-plasmatron in Shibuya.

Click on the seaman below to experience the full commercial, if you dare:

Posted by pmk at 5:15 PM | Comments (2)

May 13, 2004

Fugu: Now 100% Less Deadly!

Some scientists in Nagasaki have created fugu (pufferfish) that won't kill you, even if you eat the (normally incredibly toxic) liver.

Tetrodoxin, fugu's deadly neurotoxin, apparently originates in the fish's diet. If you control its diet from a young age, as our intrepid Japanese scientists did, you get a fish that contains no tetrodoxin and is safe to eat.

But, as the amazing Babelfish translation of this article points out:

Not be able to distinguish with the eye which was seen as the liver of natural ones, it is difficult to rescind the liver of the cultivation globefish widely at present time.

This sums up my feelings pretty well. The flesh of a fugu is not poisonous. Assuming your chef, who must be licensed to serve the fish at all, hasn't cut into one of the poisonous organs and then wiped his knife on your piece of fugu sashimi, you're unlikely to keel over. Fugu liver, on the other hand, is a death sentence. Eating it, all the while hoping that someone didn't mix up your safe blowfish with one of its deadly cousins, does not sound like much fun to me.

(PS - Yes, I've had fugu, both as sashimi and tempura. And no, I don't t really get what all the fuss is about. It was good, but not earth-shattering -- a very pleasant, mild white fish. I'm sure this cements my position as an unrefined foreign barbarian with the palate of a three-year old, but there you have it.)

Posted by pmk at 3:19 AM | Comments (3)

May 11, 2004

Tempura Milestones

Went to imoya for lunch today (note to self: write entry about how easy it is to fall into ruts).

Two big milestones!


  1. They turned the air conditioning on for the first time this season.

    It wasn't that hot today, but it was bright, sunny and a bit humid, but it was still nice to get off my bike, walk into the restaurant and be surprised by a cool blast of air. I was even more thankful the AC was on when I sat down at the only available seat at the counter -- it was about one foot away from the big, honking pot of 400 degree sesame oil.

  2. The chef spoke to me. Unbidden. Using more than a grunt.

    Background: I've been going to imoya more or less weekly since we got to Japan in November. I've asked this guy all kinds of questions and have shown a fairly high-level of interest in what's going on. Despite this, he has never spoken a word to me unless I asked him a direct question.

    Today, I asked him about a fish I wasn't familiar with (ayu. My wordtank translates it as "sweetfish", which means about as much to me as ayu. It's a freshwater fish, about the size of a small sardine). He told me "Fish. Small fish." in Japanese and then went back to work. But, then 5 minutes later, he turned to me and said "Later in the season, we get them bigger -- like this," indicating the ayu's eventual size with his thumb and pinky, "they're even better then." I figure by this time next year we'll be golfing together.


Well, they seemed like milestones to me!

Posted by pmk at 7:36 AM | Comments (1)

May 7, 2004

The Worm Within

One man's experience of:

  1. Discovering he has a tapeworm.
  2. Taking medication to kill said tapeworm.
  3. "Disposing" of said tapeworm in a restaurant bathroom.

Absolutely, positively disgusting.

Chris Bishop, the illustrator, does a perfect job of capturing the viceral wrongness of this entire piece with cutesy illustrations.

("Thanks", boing boing.)

Posted by pmk at 4:28 AM | Comments (2)

Beware: Elevator Attack Crabs

Signs warning of imminent personal injury almost always include animals here in Japan. The subways show cats getting their tails caught in the door while rushing for the train, anthropomorphic dogs warn of the danger of being hit by your neighbor's backpack etc.

I spotted another example of this puzzling trend in Hibiya. Be careful of the door, the sign says. But the picture seems to add "lest our ELEVATOR ATTACK CRABS leap out and slice your finger off!"

Posted by pmk at 3:55 AM | Comments (0)

May 6, 2004

Grocery Store Sashimi

An easy meal for us at home is rice, tofu, a small appetizer (tonight, shrimp gyoza) and sashimi.

In the US, I would never buy sashimi or sushi at a grocery store, even a Japanese one. You just don't know how long the fish sat around in the store freezer before it was packaged, whether it was handled properly by the folks who prepared it, etc.

But here in Japan, we regularly buy our sashimi from the local grocery store. They actually have a small "fish kitchen" at the store. There are only a few kinds of fish available at any given time and turnover is very quick. Firefly squid, a late spring cephalopod, made its debut recently. I can't wait to see what the summer brings.

The most amazing thing about grocery store sashimi is that it is easily better than 95% of the sashimi I've ever had in the US. $8 here gets you snapper and chuutoro of a quality that you would be hard pressed to find in the US, regardless of price.

Small PS -- The link above goes to the firefly squid museum here in Japan. At the hotaru ika museum, you can learn all about the wonders of this amazing, beautiful creature, then step into the restaurant and chow down on some tasty glowing squid.


mmm...tasty!

Posted by pmk at 6:52 AM | Comments (2)

May 4, 2004

More Than You Want to Know

Yukari has a blog.

Warning: blog contains gratuitous use of the words "tomato", "penis" and "sex".

Posted by pmk at 9:00 PM | Comments (1)

May 3, 2004

Talking Subway Stations

The Tokyo subway system rebranded itself on the 1st of April. It's now the "Tokyo Metro" and features a curvey French-looking logo.

There have been other changes, some positive (station signs now have the name of the station in a larger font than "SUBWAY") and some negative (a totally asinine station identification system, supposedly of help to foreigners, whereby Ginza station becomes "G-07").

However, the most puzzling change seems to be the introduction of talking subway stations. See the poster below:

Station: Where are you going today?
Girl: My sister had a baby, so [I'm going to see her].
Girl: I'm meeting my younger brother here.
Station: He's arrived.

I've not yet had a station talk to me, but with talking garbage trucks running amok, I figure it can't be long.

Posted by pmk at 9:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 2, 2004

Life Altering Food

As our token celebration of Golden Week, we went to Ginza for sushi on Saturday. We ate at Kyuubei (or Kyubei -- folks seem divided on whether you include the extra う in the transliteration or not).

This is about as far from 100 yen sushi as you can possibly get. After a brief wait on the 4th floor, where the restaurant founder's pottery is displayed, we were ushered back down to ground-level and seated in front of the head chef.

He immediately greeted us with "Hey, haven't seen you in a while" and started asking Yukari questions about her mom. This would all be fairly pedestrian, I guess, but the last time we had seen this guy was three years ago.

We ordered omakase (Japanese for "hey buddy, we'll eat whatever you think is good"). The food was incredible. Highlights included Hokkaido sea urchin and an amazing lightly seared piece of tuna cheek. Ohh, the tuna cheek. It was like o-toro, but even more succulunt and without the slightest hint of sinew. I had this same tuna the last time we went to Kyuubei and have thought about it ever since. As such, I was somewhat concerned that it would not live up to expectations. I shouldn't have worried.

The service was the food's equal. Drinks (draft beer and nihonshu) appeared out of nowhere at blazing speed, "courses" were perfectly timed and the chef was more than happy to answer my annoying questions, asked in pidgin Japanese.

This experience does not come cheap, however. Our dinner ran well north of $600 for two people. Amazingly, other chefs we talk to describe Kyuubei as a place where you "don't have to worry about paying too much and getting ripped off." It's scary to think you could drop an even more ludicrous amount of money on raw fish.

Posted by pmk at 7:52 PM | Comments (1)

May 1, 2004

Hello Kitty and FedEx, Two Great Tastes...

FedEx Japan wanted me to sign my life away recently. I was supposed to autograph the document, then return it to them via the mails. They kindly included a hand-addressed, stamped return envelope, so I wouldn't even have to pay for postage. So thoughtful!

But, check out the stamp they used:

Yes, Hello Kitty's reign of terror continues.

Posted by pmk at 10:08 PM | Comments (2)