Lupin III – Fujiko to Iu Onna

April 4th, 2012 10:04 pm

As many fans would know by now, a brand new Lupin TV series just started airing this week.  Leading up to now, I was pretty sure I was not going to like the series, despite my overall liking to the rest of Lupin series.  Boy, was I wrong.

Yes, this is a completely different Lupin III than anything we’ve seen up to this point.  The artistic direction is completely different from what we’ve gotten used to with last twenty-odd TV specials and OVAs and such.  They don’t even make any attempt to going back to the good ol’ days of Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle of Cagliostro style.  They go much further back.  It’s back to the style that I’m not very familiar with – hard boiled, original Lupin III style from 60’s comic series.

I knew this was going to be different from the recent Lupin outputs.  And that’s exactly why I thought I wouldn’t like it.  They completely went the other way.  They made it different AND good.  Tempo of the story is different.  Music is different.  Art is different.  Even the characters feel different.  But they all mesh well.

I’m sure there are those who disagrees with me.  But my point is this.  I like this Lupin so much that I’ve decided to translate this series.  Or I’ll at least attempt for a few episodes.

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Happy 200th birthday, Chopin

March 2nd, 2010 1:03 pm

This post is one day late.  But it’s better late than never.

Two weekends ago, I went to hear the Wichita Symphony performing Chopin’s 1st piano concerto.  It was…  okay.  It is one of two skills showcase pieces performed by the orchestra this year.  When a composer makes a piece to showcase his skills, the piece often suffers from lacking orchestra part.  I noticed that clearly with Paganini’s violin concerto.  It was mentioned in the program note for this piece too.   The local music critic agrees too.  I thought Chopin was better than Paganini as far as orchestra part goes.

But beyond that… I really couldn’t get into this piece like I wanted to.  One of the reasons for going to this was to hear Nodame’s orchestra debut piece.  Now I need to listen to piece over and over again, and familiarize myself with it, to be ready to get excited about the piece.  (Man, that sounds so backwards.)

off topic #1

When you watch the performance of Dvorak’s 9th, you start to see some funny facts.  1) Tuba just sits, doing nothing for the most part.  He gets to play intro and outro for the 2nd movement.  The quiet movement.  While the rest of the orchestra is hitting fortissimo finale, he’s just sitting and waiting for the piece to end.  2) Cymbal is even worse.  You get one note.  The saving grace is it’s marked as “solo.”  (Yes! Cymbal solo!)  But once again, it’s a very quiet note.  You miss this solo, and some people probably won’t know you missed it.  And you get to sit through the entire piece, doing nothing.  (That’s not entirely accurate, since you’d probably be playing the triangle in the 3rd movement.)

off topic #2

I’ve written how I like Mahler.  I’ve also written about Wichita Symphony getting a new musical director next year.  Those two are going to come together with a big bang.  I’m excited.  But I’m worried too, after seeing their Mahler’s 5th performance.  Will they really be able to pull together a piece that’s even bigger?  They’re tackling Mahler’s 2nd.  My absolute favorite symphony.  I’m now eager and anxious for the next season.  And for other popular cloud pleaser,  they’re also doing Rachmaninoff’s 2nd concerto.  I know lots of people like it, if I can find a case so close to me.  :P

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Mahler! Mahler! Mahler!

February 5th, 2010 1:02 am

I’ve been a Mahler fan for quite some time now.

Let’s start with a quick music history lesson.  Gustav Mahler was a German conductor and composer from the late Romantic era.  He did not compose very many pieces.  But what he wrote were usually very large scale.  It got so massive that his 8th symphony required over 1000 performers on and off stage at its premiere.  (That’s why it’s know as Symphony of A Thousand.)

Wichita Symphony Orchestra, our local group, recently performed his 5th symphony.  It’s a very intricate work.  It is the second of his composition I became familiar with, about 19 years ago.  I like the piece a lot, and I had some high hopes for this performance.  And they let me down >_<  As a critic for Wichita Eagle said, the piece demanded more than the players could deliver.  Some of the players were quite good.  Some others weren’t so.  And, sometimes, the whole group sounded unsure.  It’s easy to get to that stage with this piece.  This performance took about 70 minutes.  That’s one freakin’ long piece!  Imagine having to focus for 70 minutes straight.  It’s nearly impossible.

What was amazing was performance by the conductor, Andrew Sewell.  I could tell that he had really good ideas with the piece.  It was fun to sense his intentions.  It was also fun watching him.  He reminded me of Katahira Hajime from Nodame season 2.  He did not jump on the podium.  But he was dancing quite a bit.  I’ve never seen him make such big gestures as a conductor.

Now, switching the subject.

This week’s Nodame Cantabile features my favorite symphony–Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.  I first heard this piece 20 years ago.  It was Dohnányi conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.  It was electrifying.  It’s a massive piece.  It employs a large orchestra, as well as a choir, just like Beethoven’s 9th, only bigger.  And hearing this piece again in this piece made me fall in to the same state as…  Let’s just say I felt like Nodame did at the concert.  I won’t spoil anyone.

Viva, Mahler! Viva, Nodame!

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Ranting about IE again

January 28th, 2010 12:01 am

I’ve already ranted about this damned browser.  It’s cursing me.  Again.

At work, I support several web sites, some intranet and extranet sites.  My employer officially supports IE6.  Yuck, I know.  But most of the employees still use this nine year old browser.  I’m on IE7 tester group, so that’s what’s on my company PC.  And this just bit me.  Hard.

On Monday, I received an email from the extranet user, reporting that they cannot print the web pages correctly.  Yes, in business, printing can be a critical part of business. (Bleh.)  I luckily isolated the problem to IE8.  And the problem goes away when I use compatibility mode.  And I can force this mode using a meta tag.  That’s all fine and dandy.  The problem is, I cannot do a proper testing of this, because we have no IE8 where I work at.  And without proper testing, nothing gets rolled out to the production site.  What am I to do?

Then today, I received an email from one of the intranet users, reporting a certain page is not working right since the latest update made to it.  This was weird.  We tested it before the update was rolled out…  But this time, I find out that all testers were using IE7.  The page breaks on IE6.  This is so wonderful.  What am I to do?

Luckily, IETester lets me tests the pages in IE5.5, 6, 7, and 8 mode.  I can fix the second problem using this.  Fixing first problem is also possible, but… bleh, I would be wasting so much paper for that.  I’d rather use print preview to test it…

So… two things.  Damn Microsoft for producing this bastard child, then marketing it so well.  And damn the corporations for using these bastard technologies.

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Translation – it’s all in the context

January 26th, 2010 11:01 pm

First, some off-topic stuff:  I was just updating this page today – Frostii’s project list.  It’s quickly getting big and out of hand.  I knew it was going to be like this eventually.  But it happened sooner than I expected.  It’s about time that I write another WordPress plug-in to make this easier.  Also, something struck me – we have almost as many current projects (12) as completed projects (13).  No wonder it feels like I’m working on releases all the time.  It’s not a bad feeling.

Back to the real topic:

masturbation-generator

I’ve received some questions from fellow members, as well as trolls from other people, regarding the 8th sample shot on this Ji-Hi site.  Frostii’s translation is clearly different from the other two.  Translating it “private power generator” might seem too literal.  One dictionary actually lists BSS’s translation – “masturbation.”  It seems fitting.  Clover’s “self pleasure” is along the same line of meaning.  So, what is wrong with this seemingly correct translation?  It even sounds good in the context – Nodame is getting her pleasure by sniffing on Chiaki’s shirt.  It’s not too sexual, but it’s kinda like masturbation.

The answer is in Nodame Cantabile Paris Chapter, episode 5 @ 4:33.  There may be other reference like this too.  The point is, Nodame runs on Chiaki energy, just like computer runs on electric energy.  So, in that old episode, Nodame was recharging on Chiaki power before he left for a concert tour.  This time, she’s generating that Chiaki energy using his shirt as the fuel source.  It sure accentuates Nodame’s eccentricity.  And that’s what makes this show fun!

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Fancy comments box for WordPress

January 13th, 2010 1:01 am

I’ve been trying to get this working on frostii’s site and this site for quite a while, on and off.  I finally found how to make it work.  At the same point, I’m very dissatisfied with the current state.  This is going to be 100% web programmer’s talk.

The issue

The fancy comment editor is enabled using the plugin called MCEComments.  It works beautifully on the plugin author’s page.  It worked on the sites that I manage, as long as I didn’t enable the threaded comments feature in the WordPress.  I like threaded comments.  As soon as I had both the threaded comments and this plugin, things weren’t working right.  When I click on “Reply” link, I see two rich text editor boxes.  Only one of them work right.  It’s confusing, and it’s just not right.

The cause

One of the rules in HTML, especially when working with DOM – never use same ID in multiple elements.  And this is what causes the problem.  In this particular case, the violating ID name is “comment_parent”.  And this is how the whole issue is created.

WordPress uses a hidden <input> tag, with ID “comment_parent” to keep track of the comment’s parent, so it can display the threaded comment.  Also, it uses a <textarea> tad, with ID “comment” to let the visitor type comments for the blog post.

TinyMCE, the WYSIWYG editor that can be embedded in HTML, does some magical stuff to enable its WYSIWYG system.  It creates this rich text editor environment in place of any <textarea> that the site designer designates.  During its process, it creates a new <div> tag, with ID name with whatever the original <textarea>‘s ID, plus "_parent".  That’s how the second “comment_parent” HTML element is created.

The temporary solution

The problem is universal.  It actually is still present in the plugin author’s site too.  So, why does it break sometimes, and not break the other times?  It’s the placement of <input type="hidden" id="comment_parent"/> in relation to <textarea id="comment">.  More precisely, the WordPress function, <?php comment_id_fields(); ?>, needs to be placed after the said <textarea>.  And voila, the plug-in works as intended.

The real solution that doesn’t exit yet

The issue still doesn’t solve the issue entirely.  On one hand, WordPress depends on the two tags, <input id="comment_parent"> and <textarea id="commetn"> to make itself work.  On the other hand, TinyMCE does its job by creating a wrapper <div> tag with ID name with whatever <textarea>‘s ID plus “_parent”.  Both are happening mostly behind the scenes.  Trying to fix either component will be a daunting task.  In object oriented terminology, this is called the violation of the name spaces.  Two distinct components of a program is trying to use a resource that shares a common name, and stepping on each others’ toes.  It’s ugly.

It’s so ugly, that the PHP language developers thought it’s a good idea to add the namespace feature to their latest version of their product.  Perl, Java, Python… they’ve all supported it for a long time.  But HTML and javascript?  I doubt it’ll ever happen.  Name spaces in HTML?  That sounds so wrong.  But if it ever happens somehow, that’s one solution.  But that’s not for us common folks to fix.

So, the real solution #1 – let WordPress allow change the ID of either the hidden <input> tag or the <textarea> tag.  This will involve coding change in the core of WordPress.

The real solution #2 – Change TimyMCE to stop using such blatantly common ID like [original_tag_id]_parent.

Both solutions are easy by concept.  But both deals with the core of each components.  It won’t be easy to do.

The realistic, real solution

Are ya kidding me?  There is no such thing!

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Fire in the neighborhood

January 11th, 2010 8:01 pm

I came home tonight after a long day, and this is my apartment complex.

I counted at least 10 fire trucks on the site.  It wasn’t my apartment, or even the building I live in.  But it’s still in the same apartment comlex.  I can see that one unit is completely burned—it’s the conspicuously dark unit above the left most fire engine in the photo.

That’s kinda scary.  It was really scary driving into the parking lot, not knowing what was going on.

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Revisiting old code

January 6th, 2010 12:01 pm

At work, I’m fixing an old-ish application.  It’s a web app, originally written in 2000, last updated in 2003.  It’s amusing to see these old codes.

<tr>
  <td align="center" width="50%" nowrap>
    <font color="#0000ff" size="3">
      <strong>
        <a href="summary.php?id=" target="_top">
        <?php print $type; ?> Summary
        </a>
      </strong>
    </font>
  </td>
  <td align="center" width="40%" nowrap>
    <font color="#0000ff" size="3">
<?php
if ($type <> "P")
{
?>
      <a href="detail.php?id=<?php print $id;?>" target="_top">
      <strong><?php print $type; ?> Detail</strong>
      </a>
<?php
}
else
{
  print "<strong>&nbsp;</strong>\n";
}
?>
    </font>
  </td>
</tr>

Holy cow, the font tag? Which half of it does not work anyway? (The font color gets overridden by the <a> tag’s default color.)  And what’s this line 24?  Using PHP’s print tag to print straight HTML code… that’s not so bad.  But using <strong> around the &nbsp;.  That’s absurd.  And too many <font> and <strong> tags and such – those should be handled with CSS, especially because this is a part of a tabular data.

Man, old codes are scary.

Not to mention, the entire PHP code for the whole app was a huge mess.

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Kinpira – another recipe

January 6th, 2010 12:01 am

Since I get at least some positive responses on recipe posts, here is another one.  I made this tonight, and it’s delicious.  I just bought 4 burdock roots just the other day, so this is a perfect dish for me.  And it’s a perfect side dish I can put in my packed lunch.  It’s good warm or cold.

kinpira

Ingredients

  • Burdock root – 1
  • Carrot – 1
  • Soy sauce – 2.5 tbsp
  • Mirin (sweet cooking sake) – 2.5 tbsp
  • Red chili powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds – 1tbsp
  • Dashi – 50ml

 

Preparation

  1. Cut budock root and carrot julienne (see the picture)
  2. Heat up a pan well, on high heat
  3. Add oil, then heat it well
  4. Add chili powder, and mix well
  5. Add vegetables, and quickly sauté
  6. Add soy sauce, mirin, and dashi, and cook until half of the liquid evaporates – it doesn’t take long
  7. Stop the heat, and sprinkle the sesame seed

 

Notes

  • For vegetable oil, I use extra virgin olive oil.  Some people use regular vegetable oil, or sesame oil.
  • For dashi, I used the different dashi I used from the ozoni recipe.  This powder dashi is much handier, especially for small quantity like this.  I also use this dashi for miso soup every day.
  • The original recipe I used calls for 4 small whole chili peppers to be sautéed first, until they turn black.  I couldn’t find these tiny, hot chili peppers locally, so I substituted it with chili powder.  There’s some room for experiment in this area.
  • Sesame seeds are optional.  But it’s good for your health, so why not add it?  For extra goodness, you can have the sesame seed toasted lightly, then have it ground.  Now it won’t look as good, but it brings more flavor, and it’s easier to digest.

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Getting ready for the new year (my ozoni recipe)

January 1st, 2010 12:01 am

Today, I went to the Asian food market I normally go to, hoping to get something appropriate for the new years. I was vaguely hoping for some red beans to make oshiruko – Japanese sweet red bean soup.  They had canned red beans, but not dried beans that I wanted.  Instead, I found burdock and mochi.  That made me want to make ozoni – vegetable and mochi soup, also often seen during the new years season.

Only now I’m realizing that using burdock in ozoni is very unique to my family recipe.  So anyway… this is what I made.

Ingredients

  • Water – 7 cups (1750ml)
  • Shiitake mushroom, dry – 4
  • Dash pack – 2
  • Chicken, white meat – 1 lb
  • Burdock – 1 (about 80cm, or 31 inches)
  • Carrot – 3 small (about 1 inch dia, 6 inch long each)
  • Daikon radish – 2.5 inch dia, 6 inch long
  • Spinach, fresh – about 30 leaves
  • Soy sauce – 4 tbs
  • Mochi – to your liking.  Optional

Preparation

  1. Start boiling the water, with shiitake in the water
  2. Cut chicken to small bite size
  3. Cut burdock and carrot diagonally, like making ovals
  4. Cut daikon into half circle, or quarter arc, depending on size
  5. Cut up spinach leaves to bite size (2 inches?)

Real Cooking Steps

  1. Once the water boils, drop the dashi packs in the pot, and let it boil for 15 minutes on medium heat
  2. Throw away dashi packs
  3. Pick up shiitake, and slice them.  Be careful not burn yourself in this process.  Put shiitake back in the soup
  4. Keep the pot on medium heat during steps 5 through 7
  5. Put chicken in the pot.  Bring it to boil
  6. Put burdock and carrots.  Bring it to boil
  7. Put daikon.  Bring it to boil
  8. Simmer until all vegetables are well cooked (30-40 minutes?)
  9. Put spinach in. Let it cook for a minute
  10. Put soy sauce in, adjusting the quantity to your liking
  11. When you’re ready to serve, toast mochi, and put 1 to 2 pieces into each bowl
  12. This should make about 6 servings

…but it was so good, I finished more than 1/3 of the pot on my first meal.  It is different from what I remember, but that didn’t bother me too much.

Some notes…

Normally, komatsuna is used instead of spinach, which really brings the real taste of ozoni.  It’s impossible to get that here in Kansas, so I made this substitute.  Also, remember, the use of burdock is NOT common at all.  And one more thing – this is one of those dish that varies greatly from family to family, or from region to region.  There is no single definite recipe for ozoni.  If you feel brave, you can make your own variation.  I think my family also used satoimo (Japanese taro).

And most importantly…

Happy new years to everyone!

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