Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Look me up on Facebook or Google+ instead. :)
I'm working on something of my own, but it'll be a while.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
It's been a while since I went to Japan; a full year has passed since I visited the country I love so dear.
Kind of a luxury itch, I know, but compared to the frequency of my visits over the years since 2004, it's been a while. :)
The reasons for that are evident for those close to me; buying a house, for instance, isn't something you can do on the cheap.
However, I have something to look forward to; celebrating my birthday in Japan!
I won't be doing this alone; three of my closest friends are joining me, and I just bought my ticket, together with the others.
We're not there yet; we will also need Rail Passes and somewhere to stay, but first things first.
Anime 2011 is right around the corner, together with the new house, so that'll be the first order of business. We can book a hotel later on.
Saturday, April 09, 2011
The track above is regarded as the mother of mainstream house music; the track that spawned the avalanche of dance and house tracks that has come over us in the past 25 years.
Love Can't Turn Around made it into the UK charts and paved the way for a whole new generation of producers and fans of the genre.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
I won two tickets for tomorrow's premiere show of Taiko-group Yamato. Very curious of how it will be.
Probably loud. ;)
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Whew, it's been a while since I've had really something to write about: it's been a busy and tough couple of months, but I'm still here-re-re-e. (echoes, as my two readers have been gone for ages)
I've been doing all sorts of things, keeping tabs on the new house (the builders got it watertight right before the snow started and are close to finishing the outer walls), built a model of it in Lego to play with the colours and furniture, and have been working my job. :)
Not much on photography I'm afraid: while I have been shooting stuff, it's mostly been work shoots (which I can't share here) and private stuff (which I won't share here).
Big news on other fronts: we managed to secure an honest-to-god real Japanese band for Anime 2011, Niels has been keeping up with anime series to put the video programme together and I have been tinkering with thin clients and LED-panels.
Now, I have told you guys about my radio days in the past. As far as I'm concerned, those stay in the past unless I get to do it full time, but now and then, I'm getting a little bit of radio spotlight.
One of those moments will be come Friday, as I will be one of the first candidates at a music quiz during Stenders Latevermaak on Radio 3fm.
I'm really looking forward to this: not only am I getting a vast opportunity to see the 3fm-studio's for real, I also get to meet a few of my radio heroes. :)
One thing though: the Zeroes-week starts on Friday evening, so here's hoping the Quiz won't be covering Zeroes only.
I've never been a big fan of the music from the Noughties, so I'll be really embarrassed if that's the case. :)
You can hear AND see me making an ass of myself on the radio and through 3fm.nl on the webcam in the Social Radio-pages.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Wheh, back home yesterday after a tiring but fun weekend in Denmark.
We (Niels, Michel, Matijs and I) were invited by the organisation of J-popcon
to do a Quiz on anime, manga and Japanese culture in general, as well as doing a panel on foreign conventions together with some of our colleagues fron Germany and France.
On Friday, I saw a live peformance of Haruko Momoi; a Japanese singer and voice actress. Her concert was great, and I took some pictures.
The next day, our Quiz was held, with questions made by Morten and us.
It was a little undercrowded, but that's mostly because the quiz was pushed forward on an earlier time slot at the last minute, making it hard for people to know when to go where.
In the end, 46 people participated.
It was the second live run of our Quiz setup, and we managed to build it all up in just 60 minutes with 6 people. :)
After that, I went to Haruko Momoi's panel, where I managed to snap some pics, had my picture taken with her and asked some questions about her roles in The Soultaker, Komugi-chan and Popotan.
The Cosplay Show this year was a mix of many brilliant and some avarage performances, but all in all, the Danish proved once again that they can perform. (still, us Dutch ended higher in the English EuroCos finale ;)).
We went for dinner afterwards, but due to various circumstances it was well past midnight when we finally managed to get some food. I hope I don't have to endure that again.
On Sunday, the panel on foreign festivals happened, and we got through OK, I guess. A lot of people in the halls told me afterwards that they liked the panel. :)
The Danish AMV-competition apparently runs into the same problems as we do; many, many submissions. Fortunately, they managed to do a pre-screening, filtering out what the judges think is the top ten, and go from there afterwards.
I had a lengthy talk with J-popcon's Tech Crew, swapping war stories and hearing what the others do to solve specific problems. Also had a good look at their kit, and got some ideas for Anime 2011.
I tried to get something from Humon Comics
, but I missed her on Saturday, and by the time she arrived on Sunday, her table was very crowded, and we needed to go back home.
Michel and I went by car to carry the Quiz setup to Copenhagen, which meant roughly 800km of motorway, spread over 9 hours of driving (including breaks, ferries and whatnot). It was fun, though; Michel and I share the same tastes and we're very good friends.
Thank you J-popcon for having us, I hope to return in 2011.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Japan churns out a lot of anime and manga each year; on anime alone, over 30 series are started annually.
Most of it is outright bad, just fluff or just mildly interesting; only a very few of them are worth their salt to see again.
A couple of weeks ago, I watched a few episodes of Azumanga Daioh again with a friend of mine while we were waiting for the ferry to arrive. It then occurred to me that Azumanga Daioh is one of those series that seemingly never bores me, no matter how many times I see it.
AD isn't very elaborate; it's just a slice-of-life series showing a group of six girls making their way through three years of high school.
The emphasis lies in the funny aspect of those three years; no overt drama, love triangles or sad girls in snow here.
AD does not have great jokes either; many of them are announcing themselves light years ahead and you'll need to have a good grasp of Japanese language and culture to catch them all (though there are translator notes available if you don't).
However, for a series based on a yonkoma-type of comic (yonkoma is a four-panel type of comic, like in the newspapers), they really managed to make it into a nice flowing anime, which makes you laugh almost instantly due to the sheer bizarre-ness of it.
The music helps as well; a light-hearted soundtrack with up-tempo tracks as well as slower ones.
The cast is a well-balanced group, consisting of the six aforementioned protagonists, some schoolmates from different classes and three teachers with very different personalities.
It would be wrong to say that the cast is representing real people, but that doesn't really matter; they're just there make you laugh and it's therefore a great stress reliever.
There are only a few series that really stick, but Azumanga Daioh is without a doubt one of the best purchases I ever did, both in manga and anime.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Today was education day; a one-day course on work safety. While I didn't get an official diploma or anything, I'm now supposed to be able to prevent work-related injuries. Advising the managment, co-operate with Facility and Human Resources, and tying in with the Works Council.
Time will tell how all this is going to work out, but I've got my work cut out for me, sort of.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Yesterday, I finished the manga Mukuro Naru Hoshi Tama Taru Ko
, also known as NaruTaru.
The story starts out lightly, with protagonist Tamai Shiina finding a starfish-like creature that turns out to be a Dragon Child, which she names Hoshimaru.
Soon, Shiina finds out that there are more Dragon Childs and that there is more to them than it seems.
So much even; the world will never be the same again.
NaruTaru is not for the faint of heart, due to the gruesome material that appears as the plot progresses. Despite the young main characters and cute monster designs, the story quickly takes on a much darker and more disturbing tone, with later volumes involving some graphic depictions of gore and sexual violence.
The version of the manga released by Dark Horse has many edited scenes; entire pages even were removed from the seventh volume.
Despite that, this version of NaruTaru is a riveting story, well-written and correctly paced.
The only way to the manga is through the 'net, these days, which is a mix of the US Dark Horse-release and fan-translations, but some things do get lost in translation.
All in all a good read, albeit not for everyone.
Monday, September 06, 2010
I've got a good reason not to.
Today, I got word from the bank: my mortgage is approved! This means that as soon as the notary gets the relevant documents, I get an invitation to put my John Hancock on some of those and thus becoming the owner of a house!
Technically, it's still a piece of dirt right now, but the builders expect to erect something resembling a house within the next ten months or so, which will be mine. :)
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
It came as fast as it went by; the action-packed Abunai 2010 was held for the first time in De Koningshof (DKH) in Veldhoven. DKH is far from unknown territory for me: Anime 2000 through Anime 2002 were held there and it was apparent that the location didn't lose its charm over the years, including insane prices for a small amount of food, cranky staff and heaps of things that went wrong.
However, despite that, we still had fun.
Naturally, we were there as well with a stand in the Dealer Room, while our own Jeroen and Henri organised a fun-filled Voice-over event on Saturday evening.
I was lucky enough to be able to shoot pictures from just about every angle, and give my new camera another run.
I also attended the concert, performed by a singer called Yuuki and was the only photographer allowed at the interview afterwards. Some of those will pop up elsewhere; more on that later.
Our friends of MangaKissa were there as well, providing nourishment for every manga-hungry visitor.
I've had a blast seeing everybody again and talking to people, getting new ideas for Anime 2011 and generally having a great time.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I just learned that Satoshi Kon
died of cancer yesterday. This saddens me greatly; he was a gifted director and I'm a big fan of his films.
This also means that Paprika
will probably his last feature film; the chance of The Dream Machine
being finished is slim to none.
Domo arigatou sensei; I think I will have a mini-marathon of Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress and Paprika sometime soon to commemorate.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I finally got a great opportunity for breaking in my new camera; the Streets Festival was held downtown last Friday, so I took off with my cameras in tow.
Cameras? Yes, since I wasn't sure whether I could get close to the stages (not for safety, but due to various people in my way), I decided to take the 24-105 AND the 70-200. But switching lenses is a bit tedious in a festival setting, so I put the 70-200 on the 40D and the 1Ds got the 24-105.
The drawback is that you have 6 kilo's of gear to lug around, but the benefits outweigh that little horde, as you are very flexible in deciding to go wide or zoom. :)
The 40D's crop factor adds to the focal length, essentially turning the 70-200 into a 112-320, while the 1Ds gives you the 24-105 the lens provides. This gives you loads to play around with, and enables you to switch from wide to closeup to wide again in mere seconds, without having to resort to full-range lenses that will not make you happy in nightly conditions.
An example of what I shot:
It's kind of noisy, since I had to resort to a high ISO value, but I like the shot very much.
Now to sort out the rest of them. :)
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Today, I finally bit the bullet and graduated to FF with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II
This is a professional camera, and a little more than I initially aimed for (I was kind of waiting for a 5D mkIII to come out), but a friend of mine wanted to sell his camera body in favour of the lighter 7D, and was willing to part with it for a very reasonable price. Add that to the fact that a new 5D would be considerably more expensive and I'm working on some things that will be revealed later, so this quickly became a now-or-never decision. :)
It's a beauty, it's quick, it's sturdy (wheaterproof even; you can take a shower with this beast), it's kind of heavy and you can cave somebody's head in with it; it'll keep on working.
You can even put two memory cards in and have them act as a RAID 1-set; in the event that one of the cards dies, the other will have the same data on it.
The batteries need some work though; one of the batteries I got with the camera is fairly good, the other two are on the brink of death. I'm going to see whether the refresh-setting on the charger will help, otherwise I'm going to try and refurbish them with some Eneloop replacement cells, which is considerably cheaper than a new Canon battery for this type of camera. :)
I'm as happy as a Danish guy in a tax-free liquor store.
Monday, July 19, 2010
At my job, we also train interns. Everybody has to learn sometime, right?
We've had a few since I started working there; some of them were okay, others were good and one even absolute rubbish.
I'm still plucking some of his skeletons out of the proverbial closet now and then.
My new intern (he starts at the beginning of September) turns out to be a J-pop/rock fan. He asked me whether he could plug in a set of headphones to listen to his music, which, according to him, is somewhat alternative. When I asked him what kind of music he wanted to listen to, all was revealed.
Apart from that, he seems to be a reasonable chap, so I'm looking forward to having an intern again.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
tells the story of Asumi Kamogawa, and her dream of becoming an astronaut (or rocker driver, as the then 5 year-old Asumi tells her class during Parent Day). She has to endure many hardships, not in the least beause she's kind of reluctant to share that dream with her father, who became a widower after is wife died in an unfortunate accident involving a Japanese space rocket gone haywire and crashing onto the village they lived in.
Obvously, there is more to this, but that will be revealed in later volumes.
It's finally translated into English, so I picked up a copy of this manga yesterday, and it's beautiful. The drama hits a sensitive snare, and instantly reminded me of the also highly recommended Futatsu no Spica anime, which also nearly brought me to tears because of the wonderful story that's being told.
Seeing that the manga came first, it's remarkable how well the animation studio managed to translate the drama into the anime.
Unfortunately, I never succeeded in collecting the fourth DVD, so I have to make do with the fansubs I picked up years ago; if someone manages to find the 4th volume or the box set, please please please let me know.
Every once in a while, something truly remarkable hits the shelves; Twin Spica really hits the spot.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pop the series' soundtrack into the player.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Judging from the sounds on the street, I gather that the colour Orange will stay until Sunday.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Of which Friday was one.
It started out with an early rise: because of the heat left from Thursday, I got up at around six and managed to get in the office around seven.
Both my colleagues had the day off, but if all went well, I could get an early weekend by leaving at around 16:30, but a shocking rise in temperature in the server room nullified that resolution.
When I almost made it home at around 19:00, the gearbox of my car went haywire, blinky lights on the dash ensued and I had to drive very slow and carefully to get the last few kilometres behind me.
I have to call the shop tomorrow to have my car picked up for repairs, which will be costly without a doubt.
I had dinner and a few pleasant hours with a friend of mine, but when I drove to Schiphol to pick up my mom, the motorway was largely closed, and limited to 70kph. When I finally arrived at Schiphol at 23:25, I just missed mom (flight arrived ten minutes earlier, luggage came quick) and waited in vain for well over an hour until I got hold of her on her house phone.
So I went back, but tried to get a drink from a vending machine first, which swallowed my euro, but refused my 50 cents. Hitting the refund-button didn't work either, so I kicked the machine and headed for the car (not mine).
After spitting out some additional profanities and being forced to take another exit (the card reader refused to read my card), I finally got on my way and eventually arrived in Utrecht at 1:40.
Next day, it turned out that the air conditioners at work kind of kicked the bucket, so yesterday was largely spent monitoring the servers and calling my co-workers so that they could try and do something to lower the temperature, while the maintenance crew worked on reviving the airco's.
Currently, everything's running cool again, and I got to spend yesterday evening babysitting my niece. She was an absolute angel, which kind of balances things a little. :)
However, this was a weekend to remember.
Saturday, July 03, 2010
After having seen the first two episodes, it's safe to say that Arakawa under the Bridge
is brilliantly weird.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
It's kind of echo-y in here, don't you think?
That's right, I had to abandon some things a couple of weeks ago to avoid going south, and this was one of them.
So I'm going to get back to the regular things, odds and sods, which also means writing down some of my rants down in here.
I guess you could say the past month was really something else; along with my job, my side of the preparations for Anime 2010
took a little more time and effort than last year, due to me doing the technical check for the AMV-competition, subbing some video, keeping the technical bits in check (projectors, audio equipment; stuff like that) and keeping myself in check by relaxing a bit.
The result of all that hard work was a great festival; people had a good time and really like to return to Almelo for Anime 2011.
The city of Almelo came along with a camera in order to get some footage for their promotional video. That's right; our festival will be part of a vid meant to promote the City of Almelo as a cultural hub in that area; how cool is that? :)
We also had a little something at Stripdagen Haarlem; a manga and anime-corner, together with a couple of dealers, the lovely people from MangaKissa and crews from MangaFique, Ani Nation, Yaoi and Yuri-Con and Abunai.
I have never been to the Stripdagen; I must say it's a fun weekend, despite the inevitable "collectors" who are bent on European and American comics, regarding Japanese comics as inferior and without substance.
Luckily, we also spoke quite a lot of people who are more open-minded and are willing to see beyond their own horizons.
I'm going to try and get some pictures online soon, and see whether this blog has any right of existance any more. :)
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
No, not the band, but my life right now. Anime 2010
is around the corner, which means crunchtime again.
While I managed to do lots of stuff before I went to Japan, some things decided to go haywire.
Looking ok, but only just. :)
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Today is May 5, the national liberation day. Traditionally, I helped out as a tech-person.
Family Square and Sports was all I knew when I arrived this morning, and it turned out to be an easy gig with two acts needing voice amplification and music.
Unfortunately, this is what they gave me to work with:
Yes, that's an el-cheapo DVD-player to play the music off of, and the speaker cables were something like 6 meters... I guess the EV100 wireless mic costs more than the rest of the equipment combined.
Fortunately, the dance act provided me with a real player, and they brought an extra EV100:
They were also the act with the best way to attract crowds; dance music and Zumba-moves.
They really made it happen. The other crowd magnet was a Belgian guy who's very adept with soccer balls. Too bad his act didn't last longer than five minutes.
All in all a nice day, the sun was shining and everybody (including me) had a great time.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
So we returned home and I got to work right away while battling a cold. Not the best way to return home, but it's sometimes the only thing you can do.
Despite that, I'm planning to have at least one extra day off next time. :)
With me kind of back to normal, it's time to get some things out and prepare for three weeks of crunch time, but first; the final verdict on KLM.
Last time I flew with KLM was back in 2005. Hardly an undivided pleasure with poor substitutes for food, old planes and back-breaking chairs, so I was kind of dreading the flights this time.
As I already said, the flight to Osaka was very good, and made me revise my opinion on KLM. With the return flight, the new opinion stands, but crumbles a little.
You see, the overall service is good. Nice flight attendants, the seating is good, the food is very good and they managed to stay out of turbulent area's for most of the time.
All in all, I'd say that KLM has managed to put itself back with the top dogs of air travel.
They feed you well, make frequent rounds with water and juice during the flight and tend to your needs.
However, there are some small things that are handled differently by the likes of JAL and ANA.
The cabin attendant woke me for dinner, for example. I just managed to get some shuteye when she tapped me to ask what my preference was. Whyyyyyy!?!
As a result, I pretty much didn't get -any- sleep for the rest of the flight, and thus completed 24 hours of being awake (being alert is another story) at the end of the day.
For comparison; JAL cabin crew just checks visually whether you're awake or not, and in case you're not, tries to avoid disturbing you and leaves a note stating that they didn't want to disturb you and that you can give them a signal once you're awake again, and while they might not have any dinner left by that time, they sure try to accommodate you in a different way.
Most often you aren't given the chance to signal, by the way; they keep an eye on you. :)
Another thing is the entertainment. These days, all long-haul flights have personal entertainment systems (PES) in every seat which allow you to pick from a vast collection the inflight movies you want, or to pick and sort out a play list of songs, play a game or just enjoy the view provided by a camera at the bottom of the plane.
KLM's 777-planes are equipped with a PES, but when the person in front of you is reclining, the viewing angle is discolouring the image. Add that to a dodgy plug for the headphones, and you'll understand why I was kind of relieved having brought my personal music player along.
I managed to see Avatar and Inglourious Basterds, but with shoddy colour and without sound.
The 747 on the return flight was even worse.
Not with the predicted CRT monitors and projector, but TFT-monitors hanging from the ceiling, which was basically it. The plane itself looked like it was refurbished, so I fear that part of KLM's passengers will keep on flying in a blast from the past.
The seating was OK though, but I was glad I got a new DSi LL and a personal media player to keep myself occupied for my inability to get some sleep.
Summary; KLM has come a long way, but they aren't there yet.
My apologies for the crappy pictures; this is the best the DSi LL can manage and I was unable to get the dSLR out.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Well, this is it; tomorrow, we're going back home.
I've been fixing my suitcase and I'm a little over weight, so I reckon I will have to stop at the post office at the airport if push comes to shove.
It's been fun, here's hoping for Christmas.