Thursday, 30 April 2009

Rocking all over the world (except Japan)

Our Man's been a bit busy these last couple of days, so hasn't done his homework. To recap, apparently Obama has been in office for 100 days and the swine flu is still around. While Our Man gets his head back into 0081-mode, check out this here viral video (that's much better than that media-manipulation "reality" Susan Boyles clip doing the rounds).

The voiceover at the beginning reminded Our Man of Mr O. The whole thing may be impossible to recreate now that all non-essential trips around the world (except for Aso's to China the other day) are verboten. Anyway, enjoy the sentiment while you can:

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Nakasone rights a major injustice; or forget swine flu, I've just rented a crappy DVD

News just in. Indiana Jones movies are not very realistic. The Japanese Foreign Minister has just become aware of this. We should thank our lucky stars the higher ups are making time to keep up with popular culture of yesteryear. It's not like they've got anything else a little more pressing to do, eh readers?

Nuke the Fridge

Image lifted from here.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Boar War begins

Red Mill Mr Porky Pork Scratchings (20G)

What to make of this swine flu panic? Our Man's mother-in-law is ready to barricade the entrance hall and ban any pork byproducts from Our Man's fridge (JESUS CHRIST, NOT THE PORK SCRATCHINGS, WOMAN!) but then, she was also looking out the window for a glimpse of Kim Jong Il's big Ding Dong II rocket the other week. And it should also be noted, she was attacked by a stuffed polar bear in Our Man's garden the other day, but that's a story for another blog entirely.

Well, why not take a peek at the chalk board on the right for a completely unrepresentative round-up of the flu stories making the rounds? Should we panic? No, of course not. The government will protect us! Why, Mr Aso has asked a high ranking bureaucrat to draw up some policies forthwith to save us all. We're still waiting for his recommendations. (Our Man would have linked to the report which he read in the Japan Times the other day about this, but he is finding it hard to concen... oink, oink, oink, oink!!!!!!!!!

Everybody needs a Hiro

Speaking of salaryman adventures and such...

Lifted from here.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Japanese blogs: Three for the price of one

Can you believe it? It's been over a month since Our Man had a Blog of the Week post. Shocking, huh? But fear not, Our Man has been around the world and he's found not one, not two but THREE blogs of the week, all for the same crazy price. But hurry, this is a one-off, first-come, first-served deal. (Free subscriptions for a year if you can spot the connection between them):

Janne in Osaka - He blogs with panache, and often with professional pics, frequently about J-politics. Recent post here.

Kurashi - He blogs about greeny stuff, but don't worry he's funny and good - see here.

Adventures of a Foreign Salaryman - Not so political, but very funny observations about, er, the adventures of a foreign salaryman. If Our Man were a betting man, he'd say this one was the most likely to get a lucrative book deal in the future. Check out a recent post (where Our Man got the picture from too) here. 

Oh, the connection? They are all written by Swedes. Wow. If Our Man were still in local newspapers the headline would be Swede dreams or Swede and sour. Thank the Lord that Our Man's just another blogger.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Money for nothing (and your votes for free)

What will you be doing next Saturday? Bet you won't be having as much fun as Our Man. He's planning on picking up his wheelbarrow of free money. Yep, he just got his summons in the post and all he has to do is pop along to Abiko City Hall and the friendly bureaucrats will shower him with cash. For free. No strings attached. Our Man is eligible for ¥12,000, as is Our Woman, Our Kids are worth ¥20,000 each, as is Our Mother-in-Law. So come Saturday night, the Our Man household will be ¥84,000 richer than in the morning - that's about 500 quid! Just in time for Golden Week (a three-day national holiday from May 4th). 

Now, Our Man is naturally feeling quite warm and fuzzy toward the powers that be. In fact, he reckons he may have been uncharitably hard on the LDP's motives and the effect of the stimulus. Shame for them they are not holding an election this week. Instead, they are running the risk of cock-ups and long lines ruining the moment.

You know, if the economy keeps getting worse, maybe we'll all need another 500 quid or so. Make it a grand, and Our Man will be backing the LDP all the way. It can't be wrong if it's legal, right readers?

Pic, and interesting story behind it, lifted from here.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Pyjamas and the fish monkey

It's far too early in the morning here in beautiful downtown Abiko to come up with anything profound/political/vaguely relevant, ladies and gents of the jury, so allow Our Man to offer these two scraps from his dinner table, before pleading the fifth (of bourbon):

Elder daughter: Dad, why do you like pyjamas on cheese so much?
Our Man: Ehhh?
Elder daughter: You always put loads on your spaghetti.
Our Man: Ohhh, Parmesan cheese.

Younger daughter: Dad, dad it's the fish monkey!
Our Man: Ehhh?
Younger daughter: The fish monkey is coming!
Our Man: (Looks out the window) Ohhh, the fishmonger.

Friday, 24 April 2009

SMAP poll

Hey folks, hows about a little pop quiz? Spot the odd one out:

a) Taro Aso (prime minister)

b) Shoichi Nakagawa (ex-finance minister)

c) Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (aging drunken boy-band celeb)

Answer: None of the above - they are all arses? Nahh, Aso of course, he's the only one who shows his arse even when's he's sober.

(Oh, there's a couple of stories about Kusanagi floating about... have a look-see to your right.) 

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Y is for Yasukuni Shrine

Our Illustrious Leader, Taro Aso found time between mixing wallpaper paste to offend the Chinese the other day by leaving a wreath and his calling card at the CONTROVERSIAL Yasukuni shrine, dedicated to the 2.5 million or so poor sods who died in fighting for the East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere and a 1,000 or so bona fide war criminals. Popping round at regular intervals to the shrine has a habit of really pissing off the Chinese and Koreans, so naturally plays well with conservative voters here. Consequently, PMs and other VERY IMPORTANT POLS have to decide which side their bread is buttered on - truth, justice and the Abikan Way (and therefore steer clear of the place), or the need to get the old codgers out to vote. Wimpy pols take an imagined third option and visit the shrine, but only in a private capacity. This has the predictable effect of pissing everybody off. Aso at least put his money where his mouth is - and left his little present with his prime-ministerial scent all over.

By the way, when Our Man was a whipper-snapper of an English teacher at Berlitz in Kudan, many summers ago, he used to have his sandwiches beneath the shade trees of the Yasukuni shrine, though he always went in his private capacity, naturally, so as not to upset anyone. He also used to play badminton and snooze  on the otherwise unused lawns of the Imperial Palace just down the road, but that was as close to royalty he has ever come.

Pic lifted from here.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Papering over the cracks and other PM chores

It's a tough life being a modern prime minister. Not only are you supposed to do the traditional things, you know, like getting tanked up at the taxpayers' expense, but you have to talk about getting rid of dry rot and how not to paint yourself into a corner. Ehhhhh? (as they say in Japanese). Well according to an agent provocateur, Our Illustrious leader T. Aso, prime minister, has been talking DIY to the emperor. See here:

   09:02   Attended a cabinet meeting. Foreign Minister Nakasone stayed on.   
09:56   Made an informal representation at the Imperial Palace on decorating.   
  11:03   Put his things in order at his private residence in Kamiyamacho.   
11:42   Returned to his official residence.   
13:02   Attended a Lower House plenary session.   
14:38   Met Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuda at the Kantei.   
15:15   Met LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Hori and LDP Japanese Economy Revitalization Strategic Council Chairman Machimura, followed by Foreign Ministry Okinawa Affairs Ambassador Imai.   
16:13   Met Finance Minister Yosano, Cabinet Office Policy Director-General Matsumoto, followed by Vice Finance Minister Sugimoto and Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs Shinohara.   
17:17   Attended a Central Disaster Prevention Council meeting. Afterward met Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura.   
18:03   Attended a Council for Science and Technology Policy meeting. Science and Technology Minister Noda and Cabinet Office Vice Minister Yamamoto stayed on.   
19:42   Dined at a French restaurant in Marunouchi with METI Minister Nikai, Vice METI Minister Mochizuki, Deputy Director-General for Policy Coordination Ishige, and Economic and Industrial Policy Bucreau Director-General Matsunaga.   
  22:00   Returned to his official residence. 

So is Aso giving or receiving advice on papering over the cracks? Or is he thinking of replacing those felt chairs in the Diet that chafe one's ankles so cruelly? Wonder who will be footing the bill?

Moving the deckchairs around (on the Titanic)

It's not as easy as it looks to take the piss, you know. See, for one thing, to be funny you need to understand what it is you see before you, before you can (here comes a technical expression) rip the royal shit out of it. Yeah, so? So, Our Man has been somewhat humbled by the good, witty and knowledgeable posts coming from the likes of Japan Without the Sugar and Armchair Asia recently (both former winners of the OMIA blog of the week award, you know), not to mention the excellent Herr Penguin's recent post here. So, how to respond? Why, by following a classic newspaper approach to a crisis: It's time for a re-design. Well, ish. Our Man has increased the number of stories he links to from three to 10 in Ourmani's Daily Specials board, which he has rebranded and moved over to the right for the time-being. Why? 'Cause there's some good shit out there that Our Man (and you chaps) should know about.

Pic lifted from here.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Relaxation the Abikan way

The following is Our Man's last-minute entry in the Japan blogathon Matsuri thingy here, on the theme of slow times and relaxing in Japan, though the eagle-eyed may notice he has tried his best to sex it up with gratuitous references to politics.

Hmm. Slow times in Japan. Are there any? Japanese sleep less, work more and practice more synchronised swimming than anyone on Earth.* Even pursuits that are considered pleasurable in other countries (playing golf, going for a walk, watching telly) are turned into great feats of endurance in Japan. Things that are considered a chore abroad (having a bath, making a cup of tea) are elevated into great forms of relaxation here.

But on the other hand, Japanese have more public holidays and moon-viewing, flower-snapping, sea-appreciating days than anyone else*, so clearly they do value their downtime. Our illustrious leader, Taro Aso, noticeably enjoys shooting the skeet, even though he claims Japanese uniquely enjoy working. This is clearly nonsense. Talk to any salaryman and he'll tell you, between sniggers of embarrassed honesty, what he really wants to do is sleep or get pissed (there's a new verb for that - to be nakagawad), so Our Man concludes they are really just like the rest of us.

So, to answer the question, how does Our Man enjoy himself in Japan? Snigger, snigger, he gets pissed and sleeps. 

*These facts were completely fabricated, but could well be true. Pic lifted from here.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Sino-US diplomacy: A morality play

Overheard at meeting between Bush and Wen:

Wen: Frankly, we can't do business with an unelected centralist, big government anti-free-marketeer like you; and your human rights record is appalling. Thank God you're yesterday's man.
Bush: Damn you, capitalist pig dog! The workers are revolting! Think we still have some workers left...

Original article and pic lifted from here.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Headline of the day

Our Man fired off the last post in such a hurry that he forgot to mention the headline of the day:

Dominatrix talks of mounting challenges

Methinks the subs were having a laugh, bless 'em.

Headline from here.

Who's the boss?

It was a good day for Japan Times readers today. Not only was there a good article on that tosser who won the Chiba governorship, but they managed to print the Chavez comment about meeting Obama: "President Obama is an intelligent man, different from the previous one." This was rendered as "President Chavez was critical of Bush" if you only read the Japanese Asahi newspaper, proving again the Japanese papers' gut instinct is to bury any remotely interesting quote.

Oh, the amusing Tommy Lee Jones ad taking the piss out of celeb politicians is here (lifted from the good folks at Japan Probe):

Media mogul? Yep, that's Our Man


Know what day it is? Nahh, me either. Oooh, let Our Man do a flowery AP-news-feature style intro to enlighten you:

(ABIKO, JAPAN) -- When the history of satirical web logs vaguely about Japanese politics comes to be written, Sunday, April 19th will be known as Day One - 2.0.

What are you on about old man? Well, you might have missed it what with season seven of 24 (and, er, is Lost still on the telly?) but Our Man has gone all multi-media on you. Eh? He's only gone and set up a YouTube channel to amuse the masses who can't be arsed to read. Just go to the FOR YOUR EYES ONLY section on the right of this old skool blog and click on the ABIKO CALLING TV link, where you can see all the great videos Our Man has shot as well all the vids he's linked to. What? They are just repeats? (reruns as you Colonials call 'em). Of course, but at least Our Man doesn't charge a licence fee. Yet. 

Oh, pic lifted from here.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Tokyo 2016: Hoop dreams or just a load of skeet?

What bollocks is this about Tokyo and the 2016 Olympics? As George Orwell put it: "Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting."

Mind you, it does make for good telly. Well, actually it doesn't here in Japan, unless you are into lots of synchronised swimming and pre-pubescent girls throwing ribbons about.

So, Our Man is nonplused that Aso and co are putting on their best smiles* to bring the 2016 Olympics to Tokyo. The Koreans are less than thrilled too, according to this report. Thank goodness the Olympics are never used by unscrupulous pols to prop up their ailing regimes, eh readers?

*Note to linguists, an excerpt from Aso's news conference shows off his excellent use of passive voice: "Whatever needs to be done, will be done. Whatever needs to be built, will be built. Whatever needs to be financed, will be financed.” Not quite "We will fight them on the beaches"  material, but pretty close. 

Is it just Our Man, or is Aso acting like the LDP might actually win the next election? Set your skeet rifles on kill!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Japanese Politics: The truth hurts

Chiba Gov. Kensaku Morita is pictured on April 6 in Chiba's Chuo Ward. (Mainichi)

Remember that nice chap from TV, what's-his-face who is the new Governor of Chiba? Seems some folk have been getting their knickers in a twist because he said he was independent, but everybody already knew he was the candidate for the LDP (the forces of evil, remember?). Our Man did and he's usually the last to know. In the interests of clearing things up for the literal minded: When folk say they would love to see your 300 slides of your trip to Disneyland, they don't really mean it. Shocking huh?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Back in my day we had to dial a number - by hand

Here's a fun video that Our Man found himself agreeing with. Does this mean he's reached old fogey status? Must be, because he doesn't even care anymore.

Lifted here from his favourite Canadian rock-philosopher (not boring old Bryan Adams, silly, JJ of Fatblueman of course).

Oh, Our Man will get back to J-politics shortly.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Everyone's a wiener...

Our Man's got a hundred and one things to do today, so he has no time to think up smart stuff to say, or even any time for silly stuff. Instead, he's passing the buck to you dear reader(s). Here's a silly picture of a hotdog, cute plastic fork, green tea cup and Wedgwood plate on Our Man's dining table. Can you think of a funny caption? Comment if you can. Here's hoping for a better response than the last time he ran a caption competition. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Making friends and influencing people the Our Man way

And there was Our Man thinking no-one paid him the slightest bit of attention... click here to prove otherwise. By the way, check out the links, they are hilarious, if likely to turn the air blue. Guido's the Man, as the kids used to say, but Okumura's the San. Hmmm. Lemme work on that...

Another win for the LDP

Norihisa Satake, right, and his wife rejoice at his election campaign office in Akita, Akita Prefecture, on Sunday evening. (Mainichi)

Well, Our Man was hoping to be a bit wiser this morning about the victory of another LDP candidate (they are the bad guys, remember?) over the supposedly unstoppable forces of change (that would be the DPJ). Seems one of the black-dyed forces of evil has won the governor's race in Akita Prefecture. But none of the uber-bloggers who usually knows what's going on appears to have time on their hands to consider the northern county famed for, er, its apples. So, Our Man will just have to wing it.

None of the reports Our Man has seen bothered to relay information like final vote tallies and Our Man doesn't have the time to research whether Akita Prefecture is a rotten borough, but methinks the place probably is no people's republic of Islington judging from this about the winner (from here):

Descended from an Akita domain lord from the Edo Period, Norihisa Satake is the 21st head of the Satakekita family.

Does this amount to a hill of beans? Dunno. But it might be time to push forward the expected date of the General Election. How 'bout them apples?

Robots as smart as pundits

It was another of those pesky newspaper holidays on Monday, so Our Man had to fish his Japan Times out of the rubbish to have something to read with his Frosties and found (yawn) yet another article about the robot brave new world that is apparently upon us. Our Man was going to just link to it here, but instead, he thought he would write what was going through his sugar coated mind in red as he read:

I, robot, am looking forward to a very bright future
When robot history comes to be written, April 2009 will occupy a prominent place (Eh?). Future robots will look back, perhaps with pride, at the events of this month. (Err, I don't give a f*ck what a future robot will look back to) A robot has been created that has, for the first time, independently advanced scientific knowledge (Er, I doubt it).
We've already got robots that build cars (yes, hasn't that worked out well for everyone?), robots that look like women (Rowan, you really need to get out more often), robots that help around the house and robot pets. Soon we'll have robots that can baby-sit and nurse us (can't wait). But robot scientists? It's a moment that science-fiction writers have anticipated for years, and it's exciting to see it happen in real life (a dream come true).
In fact, the news of the robo-scientist will encourage those who believe — and those who hope — that the next great turning point in human history is almost upon us (when we stop believing everything experts tell us).
What happened is that (human) scientists at Aberystwyth University and the University of Cambridge in Britain designed a robot... that hypothesized that certain genes in baker's yeast contain the instructions for making specific enzymes, which drive biochemical reactions in yeast cells. Beforehand, the function of those genes was not known (Our man knows a few good uses for yeast too).

Ross King, who led the research, said that if science was more efficient it would be better placed to help solve society's problems (like too many blinking robot stories). "One way to make science more efficient is through automation," he said. "Automation was the driving force behind much of 19th- and 20th-century progress." (Think McDonalds, KFC, FaKin).

King's comments will thrill those futurists (tossers) who talk about "technological singularity" — the next leap forward in progress (A McDonald's in every house?). The American futurist Ray Kurzweil, among others, predicts that will occur when superhuman intelligence is created (Oh, he must be the prototype). Kurzweil and others have plotted the changes in economic growth throughout history. What they have found is that the world economy doubled every 250,000 years until the Agricultural Revolution took off about 12,000 years ago. Then the economy doubled every 900 years. However, starting with the Industrial Revolution just over 200 years ago, the world economy started doubling every 15 years (past performance is no guarantee of future performance, yadda yadda yadda). When the revolution caused by superhuman intelligence — the singularity — kicks in, the economy is predicted to double at least every few months, and perhaps every week (Oh goody. Sure there's enough oil left for that Rowan?). More to the point of this column, the line between human and machine will be blurred and we will enter the age of the "transhuman." (Our Man bloomin' won't, mate)...

Kurzweil says robots will reach human-level intelligence by 2029 (they have already surpassed newspaper columnists'). I can't wait to see it.

Mind you, if Rowan is right after all, Our Man would just like to state on record, he looks forward to serving his robot overlords with gusto.

Monday, 13 April 2009

High fives for the Japanese commuter

Our Man's taking the morning off for his littlest one's nursery school entrance ceremony, but there is nothing to stop you enjoying a typical taste of commuting in Osaka. Oh, with the addition of some wacky gaijin.

Lifted from Japan Soc here.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Top tips on how not to land that dream job

Our Man recently had another one of his near brushes with greatness and managed to fluff his lines, yet again. There was a faint possibility of a tasty journalism job going with a very big, very professional non-Japanese outfit and Our Man blew it with possibly the most unprofessional (but quite amusing) e-mail self-introductions he'd ever fired off. Cometh the hour, cometh the clown.

Anyway, it got Our Man thinking (uh oh...) perhaps the good folk of greater Abiko could do with some job-seeking advice to get through these hard times. So, here's Our Man's Top Tips of What Not to do If You Want to Land that Dream Job (all of which he has bitter personal experience of):

1. Don't back your car into a lamppost, obliterating the wing mirror, after leaving an interview for a reporter's position, in full view and earshot of the editor and publisher. Also, don't then drive off at speed as if nothing had happened.

2. When trying to impress potential employers in Piccadilly with how cool you are about working with the big boys in London, don't sweat profusely, which although a natural reaction, can become a freak show if you wear a wool suit in July and decide on the spur of the moment before the interview to run up the six flights of stairs to the office so as not to get stuck in the lift.

3. Find out the name of the person who is going to interview you. Close approximations formed from a half-heard answering machine message don't quite cut it. (Yes, I'm here to see Mervin Goo? Melvin Goop? Mr Good? The editor? Assistant editor? Somebody?)

4. Don't exaggerate your German-language-speaking prowess on your cv. An A-Level and copping off with a young lady in a youth hostel outside Innsbruck don't constitute fluency. You will be found out. By the German-speaking publisher. Yikes.

But, Our Man's not a born-again pragmatic fatalist for nothing you know. You what? It all works out in the end. In case 1, he got the job anyway, in 2, he didn't land the job, but two years later everyone there was laid off. In 3, his heroic failure led to him being available for a better job at the Yomiuri, oh, and 4? Well, who really wants to work for Cranes Today anyway? It's all summed up nicely here, folks.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Slow down, you must be doing 6 mph

Our Man is one of the legions of non-drivers in Japan. But being in possession of a British licence, swapping it for a Japanese one is just a matter of filling in some forms. Pity his poor colonial cousins who find themselves living over here. Americans have to take the test from scratch. So? So, you should read what they have to face - Kabuki driving on the absurdities of the Japanese driving test. And you thought the British test was tough...

Look after the trillions and the millions will look after themselves

Here's a fun little late-night/early morning maths problem for you smart cookies out there: What's 15 trillion divided by 130 million? That flummoxed Our Man because his calculator doesn't have room for all the zeros. But using only the power of his mind, and a pencil and the back of an envelope, he figures that's as near as dammit 115,000. So? Well that would the number of yen for every man, woman, child and gaijin in Japan that Our Beloved Leaders have decided to spend stimulatin' the economy. Our Man can't quite work it out through the laboured prose here, but he thinks this is in addition to the ¥56 trillion already promised to get us in the mood. Fortunately, Our Man's got a big envelope, and he can confidently figure that to mean ¥546,000 - 4,000 pounds or so - for every person in the country. Great. Can Our Man request his in 10s and 20s please?

Friday, 10 April 2009

Nice weather we're having

Gosh, is that the time? Our Man had written a little missive and posted it in the early hours of this morning, before deleting it after deciding it wasn't up to the high standards you, dear reader(s), may have come to expect. It's so unlike Our Man to not have a fallback post to pull out the hat, but bear with him, he's hopeful of getting back in his groooove shortly.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Off-message moment of reflection

So, there was Our Man trying hard (well, OK, not that hard) to think up something witty or oh-so-telling about the current state of play in Japan, and all he could do was listen to Little Feat's silly song on the previous post (by the way, it's good but not a patch on the late Lowell George's singing or slide guitar, check it out here). Anway, Our Man tried but failed to get much beyond the Southern rockers, so this is the post you're gonna get instead:

Confession time. Our Man may like milk in his tea, but he's not completely British. His grandmother was American. She was a politically astute Arkansan who saw out the defining moments of the 20th Century - The First World War, Great Depression, Second World War and Cold War. She single-handedly brought up three children, one of whom was Our Man's mother, and was part of some astounding changes in the South, including Civil Rights and the march of women from behind the sink to behind the desk.

Our Man used to visit her every Wednesday night in the early 1990s, and bring her copies of his latest newspaper opinion columns, and she would feed him dinner (Our Man definitely got the better end of the deal there). Then, together, they would watch a little of the McNeal/Lehrer Newshour on PBS. She would nod wisely when a Democrat was on and scowl when a Republican spoke. Roosevelt's New Deal policies had kept her family in food and, in return, she was a Democrat for the rest of her life. Her proudest possession in her latter days was a Christmas card signed by President Bill Clinton, thanking her for her contributions to the party. The feeling was mutual.

Anyway, forgive Our Man his off-message senior moment, normal service will resume shortly.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Any Commie Dictators in the house?

This one's one for you, Kim Jong Il:

So, has everyone had their say on the Norks, now? Can we go back to homegrown incompetence and corruption? Nahh, thought not. How about this chap, a frequently lampooned Congressman talking some sense about North Korea (sorry, that should read some COMMIE NONSENSE. of course):

Don't you just love it when the fools speak the most sense, eh readers?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

My fellow Abikans,

Obama in Berlin, Germany

Our Man is truly humbled that, in this time of both political and economic global incompetence, when the nincompoops and the charlatans who got us into this pappekak are now promising to get us out of it with our money that we haven't even earned yet; that you the People - Democrat and Republican, gay and straight, medical doctor and non-medical doctor, black and white, yellow, green and read all over - have chosen to come together and propel this shining beacon upon a dunghill of a blog past the 4,000-hit mark.

But Our Man couldn't have got where he is, standing with his eyes peering into the middle distance of the future, with left leg in, left left leg out, shaking it all about, without the vision of Our Founders. Our Man is not talking of the uber-bloggers with their technocrati name-dropping connections, but the little guys in pursuit of their piece of the happiness pie. We're talking The Ghosts of this world; the selfless Dr Datsun Kildare who never lets a post lack a comment; The Penguin who corrects Our Man's German; and Motsowhatsit whose Dutch ability is matched only by his eye for amusing cock-ups in print; and let's not forget Winchester Whisperer, who surely is far too smart a cookie for these parts, oh and Armchair Asia who adds a feminine touch to the otherwise masculine world of talking bollocks.

Blog bless you all.

Oh, and the odd link from James at Japan Probe and MTC at Shisaku, didn't hurt either.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Our Man gets his crayons out

Eagle-eyed readers may notice Our Man has been messing, ever so slightly, with the colour scheme. It has always been Our Man's intention to give this site the feel of a newspaper, and he wants you to go away with the feeling of newsprint being smeared on your fingers. But more than that, Our Man has a soft spot for all the loons who used to write in to the editor. The very loony used red ink, but the truly deranged used green. For now, all comments and links in the copy and sidebars will be in red ink (which reverts to a slightly less garish cyan when you click on them) and Our Man reserves the right to splash green ink all over the copy whenever he feels like it. Whaddaya think? Toldya he was gonna get all arty on you.

Cherry blossom viewing; AKA Daddy, what did you do in the war?

In this exclusive secret video, that Our Man shot secretly, at great personal risk, we can see the SHOCKING disregard for protocol by the Abiko Home Guard. Don't they know there's a war on?  Oh, actually there isn't. Though you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise, what with the wall-to-wall coverage of the North Korean Ding Dong rocket. If you spent your life in front of the TV, you'd think the massed ranks of the Nork Synchronised Swimming Invasion force were just round the corner, as documented here. Fortunately, the TV has an off button. Something the good folk of Abiko have always known:

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Rejoice (the war is over)!

Victory is Ours! The Abikan All-At-Sea Maritime Self-Defence Force is victorious! The Norks failed to destroy Our Way of Life or Our Man's afternoon stroll along the promenade. Anyway, without further ado, here's the goodly womenfolk of Abiko awaiting the return of Our Boys in time-honoured way, with a little Abikan Accordian music. Rejoice!

Are we in mortal danger or what?

NO, NO, THIS TIME WE REALLY ARE UNDER ATTACK. No we're not. Yes we are. 

Oh, Our Man gives up, can't keep up with the ever-changing threat/non-threat of the Norks. Read anything good in the papers recently? How about here.


Er, actually we aren't under attack.  As you were. Patch up your neighbour as best you can. 

Run for your lives!

Abikans, we are under attack! Everyone into their bunkers! Shoot anyone you don't know who tries to get in your bunker!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Aso's shrinking profile

Have trouble putting a name to a face? If you are anything like Our Man (you FREAK!) then you probably do. Seems the subs at the Times (of London) suffer the same plonk-induced lapses as their more illustrious forebears. Do they still have subs? Hard to tell in their lovelily laid out double-page spread (above) about the (yawn) G20 bigwigs and their impact on the world. Love the creative use of white space, darlings, good use of cutouts and nifty circles and such. Er, one small problem - The Times can't find its Aso with both hands. Let's zoom in a little closer, shall we?

Mind you, pity the poor subs. It's not as if Aso is a well-known figure in the world. Oh, by the way, since when were there 30 leaders of the G20? And Aso started with such high hopes from here, eh readers?

Anyway, nice spot from Agent Provocateur Motsamai. 

Friday, 3 April 2009

Abiko still here

Just a quick note. Abiko is still here, despite the immanent Nork rocket attack. Somehow we're managing to carry on as normal(ish). There will always be an Abiko.

Pretentious plonkers and how fun that looks

Our Man missed it, but apparently the place to be on Tuesday night was the 24-hour Kashiwa central post office. Kashiwa, dear not-so-knowledgeable-readers, is the big city two stops down the line from Abiko. They've got a Mos Burger and a Freshness Burger, so you can imagine the cosmopolitanatiousness of the place. Anyway, the joint was hopping just before midnight with wannabe rock bands, unpublished authors and other ill-asorted arty types all brandishing their latest demo CDs, novel manuscripts and, er, easels. How come? It was the 31st. So? Just before the fiscal New Year. Yeah, so? Just minutes away from the deadline for many a Japanese national competition for newbie writers/rockers and painters to post their precious works of art.

Anyway, that event, coupled with the recent post about the seven stages of Gaijinhood and this money-spinning idea from an agent provocateur to write about the Abikan Maritime Self-Defence Force for cash! and this philosophical post from Our Man's favourite footwear-flinger got Our Man thinking (lock the drinks cabinet, Our Woman): What's he doing messing around blogging about the periphery of J-politics when he could be writing That Fantastically Fantastic Cult Novel? (Well, because he's got sod all left to say to the world, and besides, he kinda likes blogging).

Fear not loyal reader(s) Our Man will soldier on, but he might start getting a bit arty farty on you (pretentious quote and pic lifted from a funny post here).

You have been warned.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Aso: A little historical perspective

A week in politics is a long time, but six months is a bloody eternity:

Trip down memory lane lifted from here.

The more things change...

Another day, another loss for journalism. No, not another ill-conceived, poorly executed post from Our Man, silly, (well, OK, a bit), Our Man just heard of two former newspaper colleagues have taken redundancy rather than battle on in a downsized, centralised Centre of Excellence. It's the recession and changing world. For sure. But Our Man notices things don't change for the tax-haven-hiding proprietor of the Daily Mail, little Lord Rothermere, whose Northcliffe group can't afford to keep on a handful of sub-editors with any local knowledge.  Are you tightening your belt, your nobness? No, you're bloody not: see here from Private Eye (let's hope that institution survives).

Slightly irrelevant pic lifted from here.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

All fools

Don't know how it escaped Our Man's attention, but today is of course April Fools' Day. Our Man hasn't prepared anything especially foolish for the day, as far as he is concerned, every day is All Fools' Day. But here's a very good site that almost escaped Our Man's goldfish-like attention span (were it not for Japan Probe) in which you can rate on a scale of naff-ness the quality or otherwise of Obama impersonators here in Japan. Here it is - Prepare yourself. 

Abiko tells it like it is