Here's a useful guide to Japanese snacks from Metropolis:
Snack time Get your fill of traditional Japanese treats at Tokyo's best-loved snack shops
Photos by Sarah Noorbakhsh
Taiyaki These fish-shaped cakes (tai means “sea bream”) are filled with anko (red bean paste) and have been a beloved snack since 1909. These days, it’s not unusual to find vendors selling them with custard, chocolate or cheese fillings, and there are even okonomiyaki, gyoza and sausage varieties.
Opened in 1957, Nezu no Taiyaki is actually just a tiny stall. On the wall is a note from former US Vice President Walter Mondale: “Thank you for the best taiyaki.” The politician certainly knew his stuff. Nezu no Taiyaki’s snacks are renowned for their thinly layered, crispy outer shell. Unlike other shops that cook several taiyaki at once, each “fish” here is handmade. Definitely worth the extra wait. ¥140 each.
1-23-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku. Tel: 03-3823-6277. Open Sat-Mon & Wed 10:30am-4pm. Nearest stn: Sendagi, Todaimae or Nezu.
Ningyo-yaki Literally meaning “baked dolls,” ningyo-yaki are anko-filled cakes that originated in Tokyo’s Ningyocho neighborhood. The treats are made by pouring batter into intricate molds, which yield shapes ranging from shichi-fukujin (Seven Gods of Fortune) to bunraku characters. These days, you can also find Pokemon, Hello Kitty and Little Mermaid varieties, with fillings that include matcha, custard cream and sakura.
Itakuraya is a Meiji-era shop that offers ningyo-yaki with six of the seven gods printed on them—the only one missing is Fukurokuju, the deity of happiness, wealth and longevity. Why? It’s said that the face of this god can be seen in the smiles of customers as they eat. Available for ¥100 each in packs of five, ten and 15.
2-4-2 Ningyocho, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3667-4818. Open Mon-Sat 9am until stocks are gone, closed Sun & hols. Nearest stn: Ningyocho. www.itakuraya.com
Dorayaki Dorayaki are made with a pair of yellow sponge cakes (known as castella) sandwiched around anko. The cakes have lots of honey mixed in, resulting in a moist texture. Japanese people have been enjoying dorayaki since the early 20th century; the name derives from the shape, which resembles a dora, or gong.
Located just outside the iconic Senso-ji temple, Kamejyu has been serving dorayaki for 80 years. The store is renowned for the fluffiness of the cakes and the refined filling, which is made with beans from Hokkaido. The cooks season the paste with black sugar, giving it a characteristically dark hue. Kamejyu also serves a rare white-bean variety of dorayaki. The bustling shop is a favorite of Japanese actors and tarento.
2-18-11 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku. Tel: 03-3841-2210. Open 10am-8:30pm, closed first and third Mondays. Nearest stn: Asakusa.
Karinto Karinto are deep-fried, stick-shaped snacks made with flour and yeast with a coating of brown- or white-sugar syrup. Thanks to their inexpensive ingredients and simple preparation, they were originally considered dagashi, or low-brow treats. But karinto went upmarket after some confectioners began using select flour and sugar while adding ingredients like sesame seeds and peanuts.
Ginza Tachibana offers two varieties of handmade, additive-free karinto: the thick-cut “Koro” and the slender “Saeda.” Delicately coated with glazed sugar, they resemble small glass beads and, unlike most karinto, are not overly sweet. A bag costs ¥800, but for a unique Tokyo memento, buy the ones in a classy vermillion cylinder (¥1,100-¥5,000) or square aluminum cans (¥1,300-¥3,700).
8-7-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3571-5661. Open 11am-7pm, closed Sun and holidays. Nearest stn: Ginza.
Senbei The humble Japanese rice cracker comes in a multitude of shapes, sizes and flavors. Usually savory but sometimes sweet, senbei are traditionally eaten with green tea and offered as refreshments to houseguests. Flavorings can include soy sauce, nori, konbu, sesame seeds or black beans.
Located in Yanaka, Daikokuya looks like it’s been on the same street corner forever—in fact, the wooden structure is said to have survived the firebombing of World War II. Customers can look on as the senbei is cooked and seasoned with soy sauce by the elderly couple who own the place. The crackers have a crunchy outside, and the flavorful soy sauce seeps inside to yield a golden-brown color. ¥120 each, or ¥1,150 for 10—but you’re paying for craftsmanship.
I have been trying to catch up on my reading of literary classics,
so I recently tackled Stendhal’s great novel The Red and the Black. The handsome and intelligent Julian Sorel
is one of the greatest characters in fiction. He is the arrogant peasant
intellectual that upsets high society in the provinces and Paris as well.
Stendhal moves back and forth from different points of view to give a varied
picture of characters and event throughout the novel. His fortunes change once
he is taken into the de Renal household to become a live in tutor of the mayor’s
children. He is successful in that he is praised for his knowledge and he
seduces the mayor’s wife.Ina surprising
turn of event he is rewarded for this by being made the personal secretary of de
La Mole, who takes a personal interest in Julian due to his great intellect.While in this household he seduces de
La Mole’s haughty daughter Mathilde. Perhaps it is Julian overbearing pride that
brings him tragedy in the end. It is a masterful story, entertaining and
stylistically impressive. I will certainly seek out more Stendhal in the future.
As with all Penguin Classic there is a very informative and useful introduction
by Roger Gard.
This is the lovely pool at the Villa Langka, where I stayed in Phnom Penh while attending the conference. I read about it here in the NY Times. I prefer boutique hotels like this when traveling, but my budget could have allowed a more expensive hotel and I may do that next time. I think it might have been better if they had a more expensive room available. That being said it was close to the conference, had a nice restaurant, free breakfast, free use of of a DVD player on request, and free wi-fi.
On June 22, 1954, in Victoria Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, 16-year-old Pauline Parker and her 15-year-old best friend Juliet Hulme bludgeoned Parker’s mother, Honora Rieper, to death with a chunk of brick stuffed into an old stocking. The murder and the trial that followed gained huge notoriety in the country because of the girls’ ages, the pitiless nature of their conspiracy, and the intimations of lesbianism and insanity—connected in mental-health circles at the time—that coursed through their friendship. Predictably, it was also held up as evidence of moral decline, one of those “kids these days” stories that get advanced in the face of the seemingly inexplicable. Parker and Hulme each served five years in prison for the crime, and were released under the stipulation that they never meet again.
Back in 1994, director Peter Jackson seemed like the last person in the world who should be telling this story. Starting with 1987’s Bad Taste, and continuing with Meet The Feebles in 1989 and Dead Alive in 1992, Jackson had come to specialize in homemade, effects-driven “splatstick” comedies that took the horror-comedy of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies to new gross-out extremes. Bad Taste centered on an alien plot to grind up humans into fast-food products for an intergalactic chain called Crumb’s Crunchy Delights; Dead Alive closes with a sequence of mass zombie slaughter that a sump pump would clean up more efficiently than a mop. Of course, we know now that Jackson had much, much grander ambitions for his career, and with the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and King Kong, he established himself as a skilled driver of gas-guzzling science-fiction/fantasy behemoths.
Serving as a bridge between the hand-crafted splatter artisan of old and the epic visionary of new, Heavenly Creatures represents not only a key transition into critical respectability—not that his splatstick wasn’t awesome, mind—but perhaps the best use of Jackson’s talents to date. Obviously, the story requires a seriousness and emotional gravity that Jackson hadn’t attempted before, but a great part of the film’s vitality is that he doesn’t abandon the frenetic energy of his early work. A more austere director might have strangled the life out of this mad tragedy, but Jackson has the audacity to risk a certain amount of vulgarity if it means better connecting with the terribly insular world of these two young conspirators. It’s a delicate tack to take—and probably would not have been possible four years after the crime instead of 40—but Heavenly Creatures seeks to understand and communicate the intensity of adolescence and close friendship, and how the impulse to create can also destroy.
There's also a new feature called Gateways To Geekery. This one is dedicated to French New Wave films:
Actually, the genesis of the movement is youthful and invigorating, sparked by a group of Cahiers du Cinema critics who were bored by the staid, unadventurous “cinema of quality” films coming out of France, and anxious to reinvent the form by incorporating influences ranging from Hollywood auteurs like Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford to the street-level vitality of Italian neo-realism. But getting into the individual directors is much taller order, especially with pricklier figures like Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette.
The Essentials 1. The Wrestler (2008): After a long period in exile, Rourke scored the role and comeback of a lifetime as an aging wrestler with a bum ticker and a lifetime of regrets in Darren Aronofsky’s heartbreaking character study. It’s an exquisitely quiet film about the loudest and flashiest of “sports,” as well as a tender, empathetic, beautifully observed portrait of a professional gladiator in twilight. 2. Diner (1982): The original “dick in a box” is the obvious touchstone in Barry Levinson’s winning debut feature, which went a long way toward establishing a screen persona that would stick with Rourke for more than a quarter-century. But for all his brooding cool, there’s as much innocence to Rourke’s role as there is in the other, less-edgy performances from the rest of the cast. And in light of all the dark places Rourke’s life and career would go, it’s refreshing to revisit the film and see him having a good time before the shadows crept in. 3. Body Heat (1981): An impossibly young, handsome, and charismatic Rourke didn’t need more than a few minutes of screen time to make an indelible impression on moviegoers as a principled arsonist in Lawrence Kasdan’s neo-noir. Rourke turns in the kind of effortlessly magnetic, attention-grabbing performance that makes audiences wonder, “Who is that man and where can I see more of him?” His subsequent career represented a death match between the actor’s ferocious talent and his equally ferocious genius for squandering that talent. 4. Barfly (1987): Rourke’s brawling, soulful persona was tailor-made for the barroom romanticism and purple poetry of Charles Bukowski’s life and work, so it was perhaps inevitable that Rourke would play a thinly veiled version of the cult poet/author in 1987’s shadow biopic.Like the author whose outsized legend and colorful mythology is hopelessly intertwined with his own, Rourke has lived his dangerous art yet miraculously survived, battered and bruised but defiant. 5. Sin City (2005): Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s graphic novel come to life exploits Rourke’s gravelly voice, pumped-up frame, and age-pocked face to great pulp effect as a loveable thug who pummels his way to the truth about who killed his girlfriend. The film itself hasn’t aged well—Miller’s dire The Spirit, which employed a similar style, did it no favors—but Rourke embodies the adrenalized retro-noir feeling that Rodriguez and Miller only intermittently achieve.
True Grit by Charles Portis, is an American classic. It belongs in the pantheon
of American literature with Huckleberry Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird,
and Catcher in the Rye.It is the story of a 14-year-old girl,
Mattie Ross, who sets off after her father’s murderer named Tom Chaney in the
mid 1800s.She enlists the help of
a one eyed U.S. Marshall with “true grit” known as Rooster Cogburn to help her
track the murderer in Indian Country.These are two of the most original characters in American literature.
The masterly first person narrative in recollection is a marvelous reflection
of the southern dialect. It is funny, but it is also an adventure story of the
highest order. Charles Portis has shown that he is an underrated American
Walt With Bashir was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the oscars and regretfully didn't win, but do yourself a favor adn see it. Waltz With Bashir is truly a wonderful spectacle.
It is an animated documentary about the conflict in Lebanon in 1982.It is a curious mix of metaphor,
talking head interviews and animated footage of that conflict, but it is also
about the fluidity of memory and the tricks your mind plays to bury or distract
people from unpleasant memories. It is also the personal journey of the
director Ari Folman to recover his memory from the war. The animation is
original and impressive visually.The
only live footage takes place at the end of the film and makes a strong
dramatic point about the tragedy of war.
It was going to be difficult or nearly impossible for
Revolutionary Road to have the same impact that the novel had. That being said I had
low expectations for the film version, but I felt hat it was very true to the
novel and had some great performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
But it does come off as a longer version of Mad Men. I didn’t agree with some of
the alterations, but understand: for example in the book Frank beat April-they
omitted this in the movie. I think that it is a much more powerful story when
read, but it is a fairly entertaining as a film as well.
EW loves lists like this one, the top 25 active directors, designed to inspire healthy debate. Did they get it right? And what do they mean by active, exactly? "Most talented, in-demand directors behind the camera today?" They're trying to have it both ways--it's a power list measuring fame, heat, influence and at the same time, a qualitative measure of talent.
Sorry, while I get why these guys are listed, their order does not compute. Where's Oliver Stone? David Cronenberg? Oscar-nominated Gus Van Sant isn't even in the also-ran Top 50 list, where filmmakers who are female (Mira Nair and Mary Harron but no Jane Campion), past their prime (Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet), documentarians (Michael Moore) black (Spike Lee), or directors of animation (Miyazaki, Stanton, Bird) are relegated. Also not included are Werner Herzog, Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weir or Terrence Malick. Oy. For those who would ask for a woman to be on the Top 25 list, there simply aren't any in this league. I'd like to see Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) get there some day.