Sunday, March 30, 2003

a very satisfying day

Yesterday was like a totally charmed day. Days like that don't come along too often, so pardon me while I savor it a bit longer.

First, I got all my seedlings started (a little late, I know, but I forgot a couple things I was out of and had to wait to get them back in). It's so nice to look over in my office and see two big covered flats, condensation forming on the domes and all. This year I'm not getting too experimental. I've got one flat full of varieties of impatiens (a double, a mixed single, and my favorite, balsam). The other has a mix of a few things I'm trying out this year, but most of it is full of no-brainers like mint.

Then, a huge baby-shower-in-a-box I'd sent my just-about-to-burst friend Antonia arrived in the literal nick of time. It should have been there Wednesday, but finally got there a few days late, with what we're thinking is about 30 hours left. I made up a mixture of vintage baby items, a few fun things (like the awesome Twink book and CD set), and a bunch of stuff I made which I can now finally write up and start the projects section with.

Next, my regular checking of the More4Less Bargain Blog paid off when I was able to use one of their super-tricky deals to get a Rio MP3/CD-R player for $29 including shipping. (Not to mention a free Harry Potter PC game I can find a home for as part of the deal.) No more CD wallet on those 2-3 hour trips! And, no more burning vintage radio shows to audio format to listen to them in the car.

At that point, Evan got up and suggested we go out for a few hours since the weather was so nice (rainy, but warm). We headed out to Jersey and hit up the Edgewater Target where I was able to get these big metal tubs I want to use as planters. I have these junky big plastic things that the previous owners of our house left behind, and I've wanted to replace them since the day we moved in, but everything I've found was either too small, too ugly, or too expensive. I saw these big enamelled "beverage tubs" for $10 at a Target a week or two ago and thought they might be great to use in the garden. Found them at this Target and went for it, picked up two green and one yellow, for basically the price of one boring oversized planter from the local Home Depot. I can't find anything like them online or I'd show them to you. (My one moment of disappointment yesterday—I wanted the David Kirk Miss Spider watering can to water my seed trays in my office, but it was sold out.)

And finally, we ended our day up at Mitsuwa where we surprisingly didn't find any stuff we wanted to buy (in the toy/magazine/book/hello kitty/dishes/etc side), but had a nice meal (predictably, I had tonkatsu) and then stocked up on foodstuffs. Food highlight (I'll spare you the boring stuff): the instant Hello Kitty cakes I love in chocolate now come in banana and melon, tried the melon last night and it was great. We got some other cool new snacks but they're downstairs and I'm too lazy to go and check on what they are. One is called "chocolate pie", by Lotte, sort of a puff-pastry cookie with chocolate inside (didn't see that coming, did ya?); the other are these little chocolate and macadamia nut mushroom caps on cookie stems. Very cute. Evan also surprised me with a special Wagashi from the Minamoto Kitchoan. The one he got me isn't listed on their site, and I don't remember what it's called, but it's a plum wine jelly with a whole plum and gold leaf flecks in it. Mmmm.

And today's a bit of a loss, we have a family function to go to that'll kill our worktime today, but we should at least get a really good meal out of it!


  1. I'm so glad you and Evan had a (Nearly) Perfect Day!
    My (N)PD would contain, among other elements, my wife Becky, a toaster and fresh loaf of bread and lots of unsalted butter, kites in the park, impromptu jamming with Difford and Tillbrook and Holland, who would teach me that cool low arpeggio-thingy he's got in his left hand, lots of good mail, a nap, lemonade that is brain-achingly cold, corn chowder, "Absolute Beginners" in a real theatre, rain in the dark, tumbling, then soft sleep.
    What would be yours?Evan's?
    dreamy brad in baltimore

  2. Sarah,
    I know I haven't been to Edgewater NJ since 1998(?!?) But, wasn't there a huge Japanese Supermarket (Yohawn?) Is this now Mitsuwa? Also, thanks for the link to Minanoto. I miss going to the NYC store. Sometimes the stuff is just to beautiful to eat.

  3. if it was called Yaohan, i'd be willing to bet that's the same; the Mitsuwa chain bought out Yaohan a few years ago. we've got one around here, too. haven't been there in a little bit.
    i know about those mushroom cap candies though! those are really good. i've had strawberry (ichigo) ones, too---but i think i like the chocolate better. ^^ i end up trading candy with various friends of mine all over the place a lot---one friend sent me a bunch of really neat Mexican candies, so i sent him a load of Japanese ones back. including those mushroom caps. and a tin of those fruit candies (forget what they're called) you see in Grave of the Fireflies...
    did you know that there's Hello Kitty Beef Jerky now? a friend of mine works in a gift shop in Hawaii that sells a lot of Sanrio stuff, and she was telling me about it. i'll see if i can find the scan she put up of one of the packages---O.O;;;
    oh, and i looked at Tokyopop's Kodocha no. 1 sometime last week. it looks really, really good! i've got the original manga at home (well, i'm missing the last two or so volumes, but i've got most of it), but i think i might pick up the version you worked on as well. i was impressed---i didn't think you'd let me down, but i've had really bad experiences with Tokyopop in the past, to the point of really not wanting to touch anything they'd had a hand in. and Obana-sensei's freetalk notes are translated, too! it looks really, really good...:)

  4. Brad -- I don't know what would make a perfect day, I only know it when I see it! There's probably a lot of possible days that would be perfect: any day on a cruise ship being pampered and fed, a day with no obligations or worries and an all-day videogaming session, I could go on and on...
    Marc -- yup, Mitsuwa=Yaohan. We still catch ourselves calling it Yaohan now and then, even though it's been a while. You probably remember the old days when Pony-Toy-Go-Round was still there. I miss that store. The toys stores out there now are so insanely overpriced, we almost never buy anything.
    Janaki -- no, I haven't seen HK beef jerky yet! I do have HK pasta and tonkatsu sauce (along with the instant cakes) in my pantry. There was some new HK soft drink in stock, but it looked nasty so I didn't try it.
    Thanks for the nice words on Kodocha -- I'm in total agreement with you on Tokyopop, I really thought some of their old stuff was blech. That was actually one reason I took the job, I figured if I thought I could better than I should actually try to! I've been pretty happy with the results, although there have been some bobbles, mainly from changing translators and editors several times so far. I've got just two books left, hopefully they'll assign me to something else when it's over.

  5. Alright. Sounds like you had yourself a great day. Considering the morbid nature of the past couple of entries, hopefully this'll be a start of a trend.
    What's tonkatsu? I'm not that familiar
    with Japanese food.
    Kinda interesting to hear what happened to Yaohan. In Hong Kong's Hung Hom district (a kinda little Tokyo), it was a company called Jusco that bought up the space where Yaohan used to be. Practically no difference now from Yaohan.
    It was good to see someone pick up from the remnants. Before Jusco bought up the area the former Yaohan had collapsed into
    becoming a poor excuse of a flea market.
    One thing I love about Jusco/Yaohan was
    looking at the book section and seeing all the art books plus model-making magazines. I even saw a Yoshitaka Amano re-working of Alice in Wonderland.
    Speaking of Hello Kitty, ever gone to
    one of their cafes? Pretty decent,
    especially their hotcakes which is served
    up one on top of each other with a layer
    of peanut butter (kinda like an Oreo).
    I have to agree about some of the Tokyo
    Pop books. I love 'em but sometimes I'm
    left wondering why something came out the
    way it did. Angelic Layer kept having
    its main character yelp out "EEKS" any
    time she was distressed while in Chobits
    everyone else kept their name but
    suddenly the mascot character Sumomo
    was changed to Plum. I can't quite
    understand it but oh well. I have to
    say I'm really liking Kodocha, nice job

  6. wow, just went and looked at that link you posted. O.O;;; will have to visit there more often; that MP3/CD player would have been very nice! particularly for long car trips! oh well. now i'll keep an eye out!
    as for Tokyopop...i was one of those people who was all excited when Mixx Entertainment announced their intentions of publishing Mixxzine. one of their people was on a manga and anime mailing list that i've been on for years, and he started telling us about how they were going to do things, as well as asking us what we thought. not in a sleazy, focus-group sort of way either---he seemed to genuinely listen and be interested in what we had to say.
    at first, Mixxzine didn't seem too bad. there were issues, but it's pretty understandable with any publication, the idea that there will be some growing pains. particularly in something that was as (then) new a concept in doing (at least, for this market).
    and then it got worse. don't know how much you paid attention to it then, but it got really ugly. several other subscribers that i know of (as well as myself) didn't renew after that first year---and then they brought out Smile, which made things even worse.
    what was really terrible is that in the beginning, it seemed like they actually cared what the people who would be interested in buying their product thought---and then turned around and put out something that made it clear that they really didn't care at all.
    (particularly irritating other than the rather spotty translations and "hipping" of the dialogue was the way sound effects used to be changed. and how they'd insert Mixx-related graffiti on walls and such if there'd been Japanese graffiti. grar. :P]
    i've still got those issues. i thought about selling them, but i'd feel bad handing them off to anyone else! :P
    anyway, sorry for the rambling (i do that a lot, i know)...but it's cool that you're trying to raise their quality standards. :) i hope they give you more work too---the only danger there might be that you make everyone else there look bad! :)

  7. Sarah- Yeah, I miss Pony-Toy-Go-Round. To this day, I should have bought that "Dancing Godzilla". At least the Food Court is there. Funny thing, I just flashed back to the old AOL forum days when you were trying the different rice crackers (I remember the "Stinky Crackers" thread??)
    Michael Lo- tonkatsu: Lightly breaded/fried (or broiled?) Fish/Beef/Poultry/Pork served on a bed of rice (I think that's it?I am more a Udon kind of guy myself))
    Janaki- I still can't believe "Hello Kitty" Beef Jerky?!?! Is there nothing that the Sanrio will put that darn cat on..and still manage to make it cute?? I went shopping in Chinatown NYC once a couple of years ago and I really liked the Sanrio "Snoopy/Charlie Brown" stuff.

  8. Michael - yeah, Tokyopop can be inconsistent. In my own case, there have been a couple inconsistencies in the translations, but I've tried to make sure they didn't get into the book. Sometimes it's really odd, because I'm not talking about interpreting phrases, I mean the phonetic spelling of a word that isn't even in kanji. I can look that stuff up myself and it'll be off and...well, I just don't get it. The speed everyone works at is probably the main cause. Although I don't know what explains "eeks"!
    Janaki -- ooh, don't bring up "Smile". talk about eeks. But I have to say, from my limited experience of what's been going on there, it's a much different company now, with a very different attitude. When they first started, no-one was reading their stuff, and now they're trouncing everyone in the bookstores, so they've got a lot more at stake. I used to avoid their books, but I've enjoyed the ones I've picked up lately (Paradise Kiss, I.N.V.U. among others). I hope they give me a new book too, I really enjoy it. (I'd love it if they did more Obana stuff, at least the mansion of water one-shot!)
    Marc - I think know the dancing godzilla you're talking about! It was in a acrylic case, sort of near the entrance? Yes on the katsu, it's breaded (with panko) and fried. My personal fave meal is pork katsu, with rice, served with miso soup and a side of tofu, and various pickles.
    And yes, I'm still eating the "stinky crackers", although they quit selling the kind I liked best. I like the ones I eat now, although what I really love is any baby star ramen snack!

  9. Marc: i'll have to see if i can locate the scan my friend put up of the front of the package of the HK jerky. i wish she'd sent me my own; perhaps i'll have to beg her nicely? have you seen Deary Lou, Queenie Lou, Beary Lou, or Skippy Lou yet? they're some, er, VERY drugged looking new Sanrio characters. i'd really like to know what they were smoking when Sanrio came up with them. o.o;;;
    Sarah: i'm gathering that about Tokyopop---especially after seeing Kodocha. friends have been raving about Paradise Kiss, too---although what they've done to Initial D makes me want to cry. it's awful. but it seems like they're making an effort, so i think i'll be more than happy to support the things they've done that are good. hopefully that will send the message that they should do more quality stuff, if people encourage them by buying it. :)

  10. Janaki: It can't be as strange or sick as the fun strip that Evan did (it's in one of the books..) of Sanrio characters that didn't make it. I have seen some of those characters that you mentioned. I like that mean looking Penguin looking bird/thing..I just blanked on the name.

    They totally have both the beverage tubs and ms. spider sprinklers at the website. v. cute idea, and I does love a storyline which can strike fear in the hearts of children and adults alike ;o)

  12. Marc: i suppose that's true---that strip was pretty good. :) although there really are Sanrio products for every occasion, which are traumatising enough, methinks.
    are you familiar with San-X at all? they are INCREDIBLY twisted, and i love them muchly for it. XD

  13. Janaki: Re: San X It's a bit too cute for me, but if these are the guys/critters/stuff I am thinking of, I like the one character that has what looks like a wedge of cheese for a head. Also twisted fun are some of the figures that toymaker Mike Lau makes from Asia.

  14. Janaki -- I'm sorry to hear that some of the TP books are still, well, crappy. I don't read that many so I guess I'm missing them. I am loving Paradise Kiss, you ought to give it a try.
    Trar -- my beverage tub is a different one, only $10 and bright colors, although that one's not bad! I am spooked by the fact that all the Kirk stuff is on sale already! I'm afraid that yet another celebrity designed line is flaming out at Target...and it's so cute, too!
    San-X is pretty great stuff. I like a lot of the different lines, the more demented the better. I hate hate HATE Afro-Ken though. I like all the ones involving foodstuffs. A good place to see lots of San-X and other non-sanrio lines is here:
    Of course, my favorite alt.sanrio company is actually vooz, because they make my beloved Puca!


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