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The Deal with SNOW Magazine

As promised, here’s the deal with SNOW Magazine and what’s going on.

First off, even though you are now greeted by a hiatus announcement on the front page when you get to the site, please note that you can still access all of the site’s archives.

So why a relaunch? There are quite a few reasons, actually, and I’ll try to cover as many as I can here. I think the first thing I need to say is that for a few months now, I’ve been feeling more and more like updating the site was a chore. I wasn’t having much fun doing it anymore, and so I started thinking about why I was doing it.

If you’ll recall, it was a year ago that the site launched — towards the end of January — and there were a few reasons for doing it. In short, I wanted to continue the art/design/culture covering from Japan I’d been doing for years on my blog, but wanted it to feel less like a blog, and more like a proper site or web magazine. The other goal was to bring together a whole bunch of voices, to build a community out of people I love and respect, to help spread “our” view of this country.

That last part is where the site has mostly failed. Although I did realize that it would be difficult to get a whole bunch of people to contribute regular columns (that I was hoping to be “mostly” monthly) for no pay, that’s why I tried bringing together such a large group — I was hoping that the sheer volume would ensure a regular stream of newness. But if you don’t count the re-posts from N√©ojaponisme, Papersky, and Art Space Tokyo, the only regular contributor has been Bianca with her terrific “Japanese Package Design” series, and she deserves my eternal thanks for that (and it’s the reason I wanted the final post on the site to be her latest column). Now, I don’t blame anyone, as I certainly know what it’s like to want to contribute to something, but simply getting too busy with all of the other things in your life.

And this resulted in another problem with the site. Since this community aspect of the site was so important to me, I really wanted all of the columns to act as the “meat” of the site, with my contribution being a regular stream of smaller news items and links, to keep the site feeling alive with daily content. While doing this, I also purposely changed the way I wrote these — as opposed to how I would cover them on my blog — giving them a more neutral style. In part it was because I wanted to give the site an authoritative voice (more objective, less subjective).

But in the end, as a friend of mine remarked, what was interesting when I used to do this kind of coverage on my blog was that it was usually placed in the context of how I encountered it — the anecdotes that went with them were part of the fun. On SNOW, it came off as dry, and since the site was pretty much resting on these due to the lack of columns, it made for a relatively boring read.

The other elephant in the room is, well, a big one. I alluded to it recently when I addressed something Momus had said in a recent podcast, and it’s the fact that I’m just not particularly inspired by the creative output of this country these days. This feeling has been growing over the past year, and although I’ve constantly tried to explain it as “just me,” thinking that I’d just been here for too long and that my constant focus on this particularly topic had maybe burned me out on it — and hey, that may really be the case — I do feel like there’s a serious lack of exciting development happening here. That’s not to say there aren’t some amazing creators doing some amazing things, but it’s no longer enough for me to want to base the entirety of my writings on — especially the kind that I do on my own time.

So what do I do? Although I haven’t completely finalized the exact shape that SNOW Magazine will take — and that’s why I’m giving myself a few weeks to flesh that out — I do have a few thoughts on what I’m going to do with the site. Some of these changes include an end to outside contributions to the site, writing longer opinionated/subjective pieces (probably 3-5 times a week), and — the big one — no longer tying myself to covering Tokyo/Japan-related content exclusively. As you’ll notice with The Magaziner, I don’t have a problem writing when it’s something I’m passionate about, and that’s what I want to bring back to SNOW Magazine.

These changes will also bring with them a drastic change in the site’s design, especially since I’ll want it to better reflect the difference in content and frequency.

I would like to thank everyone who has helped me with feedback in the past week or so — your comments and suggestions have been priceless — as well as everyone who has contributed something to the site over the year. Although it may sound like I ended the year with rather negative thoughts about the site, the idea to bring changes has really been invigorating — and liberating — and I’m absolutely positive that SNOW Magazine in 2011 will be even better than what you experienced in 2010, and I can promise that you’ll be seeing other SNOW-related projects happening as well, so stay tuned!

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2011

Happy 2011 everyone! We’re just past midnight here in Tokyo, and I’m writing this just before heading out to a nearby shrine for hatsumode (the first shrine visit of the year). As I just tweeted, SNOW Magazine is, as of now, on hiatus for a bit. I’ll be writing a long post later today that talks more about this, and explains the reasons for why this is happening. I’ve been predicting a year of changes for 2011, and this is but the first one.

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Film Meta Music

Codex 12

I came back home from a night of drinking, and you’d think I’d just want to take it easy, but no, I was in the mood to do an episode of the Codex, and so here you have it. Since it’s the last episode of the year, I felt like it didn’t really make sense to play new music, so instead I cover some of my favorite tracks from film soundtracks of the past few years.

You can download the episode below, and find the playlist, or also subscribe to an RSS feed so as not to miss any future episode. The show is in the iTunes Store as well.

Codex 12 (36.6MB)

1. Sex Bob-omb – “We Are Sex Bob-omb”
2. Sondre Lerche – “Family Theme”
3. Wreckless Eric – “Whole Wide World”
4. Mulatu Astatke – “Yekerme Sew”
5. David Holmes – “165 Million Plus Interest (Into) The Round Up”
6. Stephin Merritt – “Epitaph for My Heart”
7. Karen O and the Kids – “All Is Love”
8. A R Rahman – “Paper Planes (DFA Remix)”
9. The Breeders – “Bang On”
10. Meaghan Smith – “Here Comes Your Man”

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Cafes Meta Web

Cafe Pause Mini-site Updated

Not that it’s really worth mentioning, but I updated my Cafe Pause mini-site, taking away the blog and simply keeping it as an info page — basically, somewhere to link to when I mention the cafe in a post (since the cafe’s own site is in Japanese). I used the lovely illustration Luis created for the Cafe Pause Poster series as the header.

And let me take this opportunity to clear up a few things, as a lot of people seem to be confused by my relationship with Cafe Pause. No, I am not the owner of the cafe, I’m just good friends with the owner and staff, which is why I’ve been able to produce events and host PauseTalk there. I was managing the gallery space, but don’t really do so anymore — although I’ll still help out if a foreigner wants to rent out the space for a show.

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Winding Down the Year, Prepping for the New

As the year winds down to a close, it’s always the time where I start to re-think everything I’m doing, and what I should be doing in the new year. After all, it was around this time that I was prepping for the launch of SNOW Magazine (it went live towards the end of January), and now I need to re-evaluate what the point of the site (or platform) is, and where it should be going in 2011. I already have some strong ideas on this, and I’m going to take the next week or two to properly plan this out and figure out what is best.

This “re-thinking” mode also affects every other personal project I have online, in some way or another. For example, the site I have up for Cafe Pause and my involvement there. As evidenced by the level of updates to it, it doesn’t make sense to keep that going as a blog, and I’m certainly going to modify it to make it more static, more of a pointer for info instead of news — and to be honest, I just haven’t been as active there as I have in past years, due to lack of time, and a focus on other things.

And even new projects, like Codex, which was launched less than two months ago. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s working, but I’m sure I’ll be tweaking things here and there. I’m having an absolute blast creating new episodes, and I’ll probably look to expand on what I’m doing with it.

So just a little post to say that I do like when this time of the year comes up, as it’s a good excuse to really re-evaluate and come up with new ideas to get the new year rolling at a good and energetic pace.

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Media Meta

Codex 11

It’s Christmas Eve, and so what better time to record a new episode of the Codex (11). It’s my “favorite tracks of 2010” episode, based on what I listed in my recent “Favorite Media of 2010” post. As I explain in the show, it’s impossible for me to really say what my absolute favorite tracks of the year were, so this is mostly based on my iTunes play count. I hope you enjoy it, and just a reminder that if you’re in the mood for some Christmas music on the Eve or on the day itself, there’s last week’s Christmas episode to download — and if you liked Michael Bojkowski‘s recent Codex Coda contribution, he’s put up a great winter podcast episode as well, the “Antimix Special: Snowbound.”

The link to download the episode is below, as well as the playlist, or you can subscribe to an RSS feed of the show so as not to miss any future episode — it’s in the iTunes Store too.

Codex 11 (46.2MB)

1. The Books – “A Cold Freezin’ Night”
2. Mark Ronson and the Business Intl – “Bang Bang Bang (feat. Q-Tip and MNDR)”
3. Royksopp – “Happy Up Here”
4. Black Francis – “Threshold Apprehension”
5. Caribou – “Odessa”
6. Wavves – “King of the Beach”
7. Arcade Fire – “Rococo”
8. Four Tet – “Circling”
9. Stereolab – “Everybody’s Weird Except Me”
10. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – “Pieces Form the Whole”

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Meta

JeanSnow.net Page on Facebook

As you get towards the end of the year, it’s usually a time to reassess the way you do some things, and one thing I’ve decided to do is to take my personal Facebook account and make it just that, personal. For the past year or so I’ve just been adding whoever sends me a request — I imagine after I’m discovered through this site — and it’s gotten to a point where my Facebook account is practically unusable now.

What I’ve done instead is create a new JeanSnow.net page on Facebook, which I’ve also added as the “Facebook” link that appears at the end of every post on this site. A few years ago I had created a JEANSNOW.NET group, which I’ve never done anything with, but decided to get rid of it as I think it makes more sense to go as a “page” and not a “group” — on Facebook, SNOW Magazine and The Magaziner each have pages, but PauseTalk is a group, which I think makes sense.

So apologies in advance if you send me a friend request and I don’t approve it — from now on I’ll be limiting interaction with my personal account to people I actually know.

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Meta Music

Codex 10, the Christmas Episode

As I mentioned yesterday when I posted episode 9 of the Codex, it’s only after I was done that I thought it would be a good idea to do a Christmas episode, and I wanted to get it done as soon as possible. Here we are then, an extra-sized holiday episode with 20 yuletide tunes that I hope make for a Christmas soundtrack that’s a bit different from what you tend to hear everywhere.

As I said on the show, a lot of the tracks were found thanks to a great holiday music round-up post on Pitchfork. Here are also links to some of the compilations I mentioned, that you can download for free: The Christmas Gig, Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada Deux, and A Familyre Christmas Volume 3. Also, you can still download the Christmas episode of Radio OK Fred (15) we did last year (me, along with my co-hosts Yoshi and Ay2).

You’ll find the link to download the episode below, along with the complete playlist, and you can subscribe to an RSS feed so as not to miss any future episode. The show is on the iTunes Store too.

Codex 10 (61.8MB)

1. James Kochalka Superstar – “Christmas in Dimension X”
2. Pine*AM – “Snow! Snow!”
3. Blazer Force – “Electronic Santa”
4. Sufjan Stevens – “Put the Lights on the Tree”
5. Low – “Taking Down the Tree”
6. Bishop Allen – “You’ll Never Find My Christmas”
7. Best Coast/Wavves – “Got Something for You”
8. Coconut Records – “It’s Christmas”
9. Summer Camp – “Christmas Wrapping (The Waitresses Cover)”
10. Los Campesinos! – “Kindle a Flame in Her Heart”
11. Dressy Bessy – “Hopped Up on Xmas”
12. Dent May – “Holiday Face”
13. By Divine Right – “Mall Santa”
14. The Zolas – “Snow”
15. Paper Lions – “Jingle Bells”
16. The Mountains & The Trees – “My Favourite Sweater (Happy Holidays)”
17. Ben + Vesper – “Planet Witness”
18. Rachel and Jon Galloway – “Glory”
19. Joshua Stamper – “To Us a Child of Hope Is Born”
20. Halcali – “Strawberry Chips”

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Film Games Media Meta Music Technology TV

Favorite Media of 2010

For some reason I’ve always avoided doing year-end lists of favorite things — I don’t really know why — but I just felt like doing one this year, and so here goes. Now, of course, this is all based on what I’ve actually seen/played/used/listened to, and so consider this a personal compilation of the favorite things I experienced this year in the world of media (it’s not a “best of” thing) — and note that it is limited to things that were released in 2010. Two categories that may be conspicuous by their absence are books and magazines — I just don’t feel like I read enough books to justify a proper list, and for magazines, I don’t have five truly favorites that come to mind.

So here then is my highly unscientific, truly subjective list of favorite media obsessions of 2010. Each category includes five items in alphabetical order (I think it’s silly to rank them in order), and I’ve occasionally included a few honorable mentions, things that I really wanted to have in those favorite fives.

Favorite Games
As you’ll see, my favorite genre tends to be RPGs (with a strong emphasis on action RPGs), and then racing games too. I could probably have done a separate downloadable game category as well, but decided to just put them all together.

  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
  • Red Dead Redemption

Honorable Mentions: Costume Quest, Fable III, Limbo, Heavy Rain, Split/Second

Favorite iPad Apps
There are many more apps that I really like, but these are the ones that I use the most, that I have in my dock. I decided to only list iPad apps and not iPhone apps (same for games), since I do really spend a lot more time on my iPad, and my iPhone is just something I pull out when I’m bored waiting somewhere (most used apps on that would be Twitter, Instapaper, Camera, and listening to podcasts).

  • Cloudreaders
  • Instapaper
  • NYTimes
  • Reeder
  • Twitter

Honorable Mention: Air Video

Favorite iPad Games
I’ve kept this to real iPad versions of games only — I did play a hell of a lot of DoDonPachi Resurrection on my iPad, but it’s really just an iPhone release.

  • Carcassonne
  • Infinity Blade
  • Plants vs. Zombies HD
  • Robot Unicorn Attack HD
  • Word with Friends

Honorable Mentions: Highborn HD, Small Worlds, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, Canabalt, Puzzle Agent HD

Favorite TV
This year was absolutely amazing for TV, and you’ll see that my tastes are definitely on the cable series side of things (Community is the only network show to be included) — that fact that you can be truly mature is one thing, and the shorter seasons (and so more focused storylines) is another.

  • Eastbound & Down
  • Dexter
  • Mad Men
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • True Blood

Honorable Mentions: Community, Treme, The Walking Dead, Louie, How to Make It in America, Bored to Death

Favorite Movies
This was difficult because I obviously haven’t seen a ton of movies that came out in theaters in recent months in North America, so my list could honestly have included movies that came out towards the end of 2009 as well. I know the two Mesrine films originally came out in France in 2008, but I felt like I could include them since they came out in North America this year.

  • Cyrus
  • Inception
  • Mesrine: Killer Instinct/Mesrine: Public Enemy #1
  • The American
  • The Ghost Writer

Honorable Mentions: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kick-Ass, The Social Network, Exit Through the Exit Shop

Favorite Albums
Music is also very difficult, since I listen to so much of it, and to such a variety — which is one of the reasons I started Codex — but I think I was still able to come up with a list of favorites, in part based on the “most played” count in iTunes.

  • Record Collection (Mark Ronson & The Business Intl)
  • Swim (Caribou)
  • There Is Love in You (Four Tet)
  • The Suburbs (The Arcade Fire)
  • The Way Out (The Books)

Honorable Mentions: The Social Network Soundtrack (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross), King of the Beach (Wavves), Not Music (Stereolab)

Favorite Tracks
Again, these are mostly based on the “most played” count in iTunes.

  • “A Cold Freezin’ Night” (The Books)
  • “Bang Bang Bang (feat. Q-Tip and MNDR)” (Mark Ronson & The Business Intl)
  • “Happy Up Here” (Royksopp)
  • “Threshold Apprehension” (Black Francis)
  • “Odessa” (Caribou)

Honorable Mentions: “King of the Beach” (Wavves), “Rococo” (The Arcade Fire)

Favorite Comics
This was the hardest category for me, because I read A LOT of comics, and so it was hard to narrow it down to just five — and these five are basically the things that I could remember really liking — and the reason I don’t even include any honorable mentions is because it would be ridiculously long.

  • Justice League: Generation Lost
  • Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit
  • Scott Pilgrim
  • Sweet Tooth
  • The Unwritten
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Meta Music

Codex 09

Following last week’s special two-parter (episodes 7 and 8), Codex is back this week with a regular episode. After I was done recording it occurred to me that maybe I should have done a Christmas episode, and so since I’d like to get that out at least a few days before the C-day, I’ll try and record one this weekend.

The link to download the episode is below, along with the playlist, and you can also subscribe to an RSS feed so as not to miss any episodes — the show is on the iTunes Store too.

Codex 09 (38.2MB)

1. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – “40 Day Dream”
2. The Lowbrows – “Blue”
3. Junior Senior – “Take My Time”
4. Kid Cudi – “Revofev”
5. Deerhunter – “Coronado”
6. Duck Sauce – “Barbara Streisand”
7. Djako – “Devil Train”
8. Halcali – “Tandem (Mutable Chromosome Remix)”
9. Halcali – “Peek-a-Boo (DJ Mitsu the Beats Remix)”
10. Momus – “The Thunderclown”