Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tokyo: Puppet House

This is the reason why I don't like organised tours when traveling. What tour would take you to a little store of marionettes in downtown Tokyo? Fortunately for me, the Puppet House (Japanese-only website) was mentioned in my Lonely Planet travel guide.

Upstairs is a small room filled with hand-carved marionettes and finger puppets from the Czech Republic, Germany, and the United States.

Almost all are performable; however, co-owner Takuro Fukazawa explained to me that many are too small for an audience beyond yourself. "Personal puppetry," he calls it. Either way, the puppets are gorgeous, moving or not. He pulled out a "simple" marionette, showing me how to make it walk with balance. Then he handed over the controls to me. Ooops! Well, in my hands, the puppet character exhibited all sorts things: "anti-gravity," "drunkenness"... perhaps "epilepsy." Certainly not balance.

Had I the money and display space I would have bought several beautiful puppets I saw there. Fortunately, you can order them through their website, although it's Japanese-only. I recommend a visit!

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posted by Brian at 8:45 AM 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Google Gmail Marionettes!

Ahhh, Google. You keep impressing me. Now you have Geeks and Puppets coming together to demonstrate how the Gmail Email service can improve communications.

Previously, Gmail was invitation-only, but it has as of Valentine's Day, opened its doors to everyone. I highly recommend it over Yahoo! Mail Beta, a sluggish copy-cat. Although I have used Yahoo! Mail for years, the latest version is slowwwww and heavy if (like me) you have a decade worth of email. Gmail on the other hand, is nimble and has far better searching ability (it is Google, after all). I also like how its Chat client is built-in, unlike Yahoo which has a very heavy downloadable client with far too many features. Most of my friends are using Microsoft's MSN Messenger now (although the two are compatible) or Skype. A few are still using the ridiculous AOL AIM Instant Messenger. And fewer still are using the one that started them all, ICQ.

While we're on the subject, there are the Multi-IM clients, like the Mac-only Adium, the Open Source Miranda, and the popular Trillian.

All of these formerly smallish utilities are growing up to be mini-browsers; browsers are growing to become large applications. The eco-system on my desktop is getting a bit unruly! But I suppose that's the price to pay for a good competitive landscape. Otherwise, everything would be Microsoft.

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posted by Brian at 5:26 PM 0 comments links to this post