Jul 27 2017

MySQL / MariaDB 10.2 – Can’t find messagefile ‘/usr/share/mysql/errmsg.sys’

Last evening, I ran some updates on one of my servers. One of the updates was from MariaDB 10.1 to 10.2 (some minor release as well). After compiling, I went to restart, but it failed with:

# /etc/init.d/mysql start
* Checking mysqld configuration for mysql ...
[ERROR] Can't find messagefile '/usr/share/mysql/errmsg.sys'
[ERROR] Aborting

* mysql config check failed [ !! ]
* ERROR: mysql failed to start

I’m not sure why this just hit me now, but it looks like it is a function within the init script that’s causing it to look for files in the nonexistent directory of /usr/share/mysql/ instead of the appropriate /usr/share/mariadb/. The fast fix here (so that I could get everything back up and running as quickly as possible) was to simply symlink the directory:

cd /usr/share
ln -s mariadb/ mysql

Thereafter, MariaDB came up without any problem:

# /etc/init.d/mysql start
* Caching service dependencies ... [ ok ]
* Checking mysqld configuration for mysql ... [ ok ]
* Starting mysql ... [ ok ]
# /etc/init.d/mysql status
* status: started

I hope that information helps if you’re in a pinch and run into the same error message.

Cheers,
Zach

UPDATE: It seems as if the default locations for MySQL/MariaDB configurations have changed (in Gentoo). Please see this comment for more information about a supportable fix for this problem moving forward. Thanks to Brian Evans for the information. 🙂

Jul 11 2017

Best sushi in St. Louis? J Sushi in Arnold.

As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of Asian cuisine, I’m constantly searching out the best restaurants in Saint Louis of the various regions and genres (Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, as well as sushi, dim sum, et cetera). Having been to many of the staples of St. Louis sushi—Drunken Fish, Kampai, Wasabi, Cafe Mochi, and others—I’ve always been satisfied with their offerings, but yet felt like they missed the mark in one way or another. Don’t get me wrong, all of those places have some great dishes, but I just found them to be lacking that spark to make them stand out as the leader of the pack.

… and then it happened. One day when I was driving north on 61-67 (Jeffco Boulevard / Lemay Ferry), I noticed that the storefront in Water Tower Place that previously housed a mediocre Thai restaurant was set to reopen as a sushi joint. My first thought was “oh no, that’s probably not going to go over well in Arnold” but I hoped for the best. A couple weeks later, it opened as J Sushi. I added it to my ever-growing list of restaurants to try, but didn’t actually make it in for several more weeks.

Salmon Killer roll at J Sushi in St. Louis, MO
The Salmon Killer Roll with spicy crab, asparagus, salmon, cream cheese, mango sauce and Japanese mayo
(click for full quality)

Named for the original owner, Joon Kim, (who, as of this writing, is the owner of Shogun in Farmington, MO), J Sushi came onto the scene offering a huge variety of Japanese fare. From a smattering of traditional appetisers like tempura and gyoza, to a gigantic list of rolls and sashimi, to the “I don’t particularly care for raw fish” offerings in their Bento boxes, J Sushi offers dishes to appease just about anyone interested in trying Japanese cuisine.

Since their initial opening, some things have changed at J Sushi. One of the biggest differences is that it is now owned by an employee that Joon himself trained in the ways of sushi over the years: Amanda, and her partner, Joseph. The two of them have taken an already-outstanding culinary experience and elevated it even further with their immediately noticeable hospitality and friendliness (not to mention, incredible aptitude for sushi)!

VIP roll at J Sushi in St. Louis, MO
The VIP Roll with seared salmon, and shrimp tempura… it’s on fire!
(click for full quality)

So, now that you have a brief history of the restaurant, let’s get to the key components that I look for when rating eateries. First and foremost, the food has to be far above par. I expect the food to not only be tasty, but also a true representation of the culture, elegantly plated, and creative. J Sushi delivers on all four of those aspects! I’ve had many of their appetisers, rolls, sushi/sashimi plates, and non-fish dishes, and have yet to find one that wasn’t good. Of course I have my favourites, but so far, nothing has hit the dreaded “do not order again” list. As for plating, the sushi chefs recognise that one firstly eats with the eyes. Dishes are presented in a clean fashion and many of them warrant taking a minute to appreciate them visually before delving in with your chopsticks.

Second, the service has to be commendable. At J Sushi, Amanda, Joe, and the members of the waitstaff go out of their way to greet everyone as they come in and thank them after their meal. The waiters and waitresses come to the table often to check on your beverages, and to see if you need to order anything else. At a sushi restaurant, it’s very important to check for reorders as it’s commonplace to order just a couple rolls at a time. I can imagine that one of the complaints about the service is how long it takes to get your food after ordering. Though it is a valid concern, great sushi is intricate and takes time to execute properly. That being said, I have personally found the wait times to be completely acceptable, even when they’re really busy with dine-ins and take-away orders.

Mastercard roll at J Sushi in St. Louis, MO
The Master Card Roll with shrimp tempura, and gorgeously overlapped tuna, salmon, & mango
(click for full quality)

Third, the restaurant has to be a good value. Does that mean that it has to be inexpensive? No, not at all. When I’m judging a restaurant’s value, I take into consideration the quality of the ingredients used, the time and labour involved in preparation, the ambience, and the overall dining experience. J Sushi, in my opinion, excels in all of these areas, and still manages to keep their prices affordable. Yes, there are cheaper places to get sushi, and even some that offer “all you can eat” options, but you’re certainly exchanging quality for price at those types of establishments. I, for one, would rather pay a little more money to ensure that I’m getting very high quality fish (especially since the flavours and textures of the fish are exponentially heightened when consumed raw).

The Dragon Bowl at J Sushi in St. Louis, MO
The stunningly beautiful Dragon Bowl – as much artwork as it is food!
(click for full quality)

Now for the meat and potatoes (or in this case, the fish and rice): what dishes stand out to me? As I previously said, I haven’t found anything that I dislike on the menu; just dishes that I like more than others. I enjoy changing up my order and trying new things, but there are some items that I keep going back to time and time again. Here are some of my absolute favourites:

Appetisers:

  • Japanese Crab Rangoon
    • Expecting those Chinese-style fried wontons filled with cream cheese? Think again. This amazing “roll” has spicy pulled crab and cream cheese wrapped in soy paper (Mamenori) and rice. It’s deep-fried and served with eel sauce. NOT to be missed!
  • Tuna Tataki
    • Perfectly seared (read: “nearly raw”) tuna served with shredded radish and a light sauce.

Rolls:

  • Master Card Roll
    • Shrimp tempura and spicy tuna inside, topped with fresh tuna, salmon, and slices of mango (see the photo above).
  • Sweet Ogre Roll
    • One of my original favourites, this roll has shrimp tempura and cucumber inside. On top, there’s seared tuna, Sriracha, a little mayo, crunch, and masago.
  • Missouri Thunder Roll
  • Derby Roll
    • Spicy crab and avocado (I swap that for cucumber). Topped with eight beautifully-grilled shrimp.
  • Poison Spider Roll
    • HUGE, double-stuffed roll with a whole deep fried soft-shell crab and cucumber. On top, a bunch of spicy pulled crab, masago, crunch, and eel sauce.

Other:

  • Tai Nigiri
    • Simple Nigiri of Red Snapper
  • Hamachi Nigiri
    • Simple Nigiri of Yellowtail
  • Sushi sampler
    • 5 pieces of various Nigiri (raw fish on rice with a little wasabi)

If your mouth isn’t watering by now, then you must not care all that much for sushi (or Pavlov was sorely misguided 🙂 ). I hope that you try some of the amazing food that I mentioned above, but more importantly, I hope that you check out J Sushi and find your the dishes that speak to you personally!

Cheers,
Zach

Jun 20 2017

The Book of Henry film review

The Book of Henry opening title

This past weekend I went to the theatre to see the newly-released film The Book of Henry (WARNING: the IMDb and Wikipedia pages contain massive spoilers) starring Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, and Naomi Watts. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the film because 1) the trailer piqued my interest, and 2) the cast is filled with some outstanding talent.

Without giving too much away, the basic premise is that Henry (Lieberher) is an incredibly intelligent 11-year-old who essentially plays the “head of household” role for the family. His mother Susan (Watts) has come to rely on him for many adult-oriented tasks, such as managing the finances, setting ground rules, and taking care of his younger brother Peter (Tremblay). When Henry learns that a girl in his class (who is also his neighbour) is being abused by her stepfather, he devises a plan to rescue her and his mother is tasked with helping execute that plan.

Brothers Peter and Henry Carpenter in The Book of HenryBrothers Peter and Henry Carpenter

I went into this film not knowing all that much about it (which is what I prefer: I would rather form my own impressions than start viewing it with preconceived notions and expectations). Based on the opening credits, I anticipated being introduced to a precocious kid that was wise beyond his years. I thought that it may turn into a dramatic representation of his sociocultural interactions at school and how they impacted his outlook on life. Prepared for that type of somewhat slower-paced progression, I was pleasantly surprised to find a stronger emphasis on the family dynamics between Henry, Peter, Susan, and Susan’s coworker and friend, Sheila (Sarah Silverman). As the film continues, we do get to see some of the philosophically advanced aspects of Henry’s worldview, but more importantly we see—through his focus on making the world a better place and his desire for justice—the love that he has for other people.

 

Our legacy isn’t what we write on a résumé or how many commas we have in our bank account. It’s who we’re lucky enough to have in our lives, and what we can leave them with. The one thing we do know: we’re here now, so I say we do the best we can while we’re on this side of the dirt.—Henry Carpenter

Henry and his mother discuss helping othersHenry and his mother discussing helping others

Is that what sets The Book of Henry apart from other films? No, not at all. There are plenty of examples of films where a child protagonist is longing to make a difference in the world (including another one of Liberher’s recent roles [and Watts’s, for that matter] in St. Vincent). Instead, what makes this film special is the way in which it is able to elicit the full gamut of human emotion in such a strong, sweeping fashion. For instance, in one scene we’re reminded of the frivolity of childhood by seeing Henry and Peter playing and inventing in their elaborate fort in the woods behind their home. Thereafter, we see some of the strain on Susan as she tries to balance her own needs and wants with doing the best that she in can in raising her two boys (as illustrated in a scene where she may have slightly overindulged with her friend Sheila 😉 ). Following that somewhat more serious tone comes a tender moment with Susan putting Henry and Peter to bed by singing a song to them and playing the ukulele. It’s this juxtaposition of emotional evocation that elevates The Book of Henry to levels above others in the genre.

Henry and Peter in their backyard fortHenry and Peter in their backyard fort

Focusing again on emotionality, there have been very few movies over the years that have actually made me cry (for the curious, Radio Flyer, Life is Beautiful, and The Fountain are a few). I’ve been misty-eyed before, but there were a few scenes in this film that actually brought me to tears. One in particular was so gut-wrenching for me that I thought I might have to briefly excuse myself from the theatre (thankfully, though, I toughened up). Will everyone react in the same way to these types of scenes? No, but that’s one of the beautiful bonds between well-made films and its viewers.

Even with the moments that were extremely difficult to watch due to their forlorn sentiments, there were plenty of convivial parts that provided an overall undertone of warmth throughout the movie. One key example that sticks out in my mind is at the Calvary Elementary School talent show where Peter performs a magic trick. He comes out in full magician garb (reminiscent of one of Tremblay’s first roles in The Magic Ferret [which, by the way, is a cute short film that can be purchased through director Alison Parker’s website]), and wows the audience all the while smiling ear-to-ear. These types of scenes provided the much needed comic relief from the overarching sentimentality.

The Book of Henry - Jacob Tremblay as Peter the GreatJacob Tremblay as Peter the Great

It is likely this roller coaster ride of emotions (or some of the unusual/unresolved details) that led to the overwhelmingly negative Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Consensus that the movie “deserves a few points for ambition, but its tonal juggling act—and a deeply maudlin twist—may leave viewers gaping in disbelief rather than choking back tears”. Again, that’s the beauty of the world of artistic expression (which, of course, includes film): it can speak to different people in vastly different ways based on what they individually bring to the table. I, for one, thought that it was beautifully done and in no way “maudlin”. Instead of relying solely on the reviews (including this one) of professional critics or viewers, though, I urge you to go see it for yourself and make your own assessment.

8 out of 10 stars:
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Cheers,
Zach

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