Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Say it ain't so, MTC

Is it good news or bad? MTC (Mr Top Cat to the likes of you and Our Man) of Shisaku blogging fame says as of yesterday, no more anonymous blogging. Our Man hopes this merely means he's going to make an honest man of his blog and tell us what MTC really stands for, and not, as all right-thinking-folk fear, that it spells the end of the best English language blog on Japanese politics, bar none.

Say it ain't so, Mr Top Cat, say it ain't so.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Dogs and Demons: Or, Deft but Dated

So, did y'all see that Haruki Murakami is working on his third 1Q84 book? (Secret handshake to Japan Probe). This should come as no surprise to regular Our Man readers (nothing surprises them anymore) because Our Man tipped 'em off that another was in the works right here. Don'tcha love it when Our Man gets it right?

In other book "news", Our Man has finished reading Dogs and Demons by Alex Kerr and can concur (dang, that was clever) that it is indeed a great take on all that is wrong with Japan. But, it is showing its age a little. D&D makes the case that Japan's ills are largely down to its own misguided effort to maintain its Japanese spirit with Western tools. The result, as should be clear to any clear-headed observer is the mess that Japan is in today - stuck with a 1960s technocratic vision of the future, allied to an outdated sense of morality and inability to move on. Something like that.

But then the DPJ swept in and what seemed an impossibility back when the book was written in 2000 or so, has come to pass - the smashing of the LDP machine and maybe the end of the road for the construction state, stifling bureaucracy, deficient education and Japanese fatalism.

Sacred cows of Those Who Know Japan are being put out to pasture day by day - the rule that women had to change their names to marry was scrapped just the other day for example - which makes Our Man think that everything we think of as being quintessentially Japanese is nothing of the sort. All the odious qualities of sheepish conformity, obedience to the loudspeaker and Ganbatte! (struggle through) spirit are not the true qualities of Japan, but are simply the qualities of its inflated bureaucracy.

But what would Our Man know? He's just a regular gaijin with a blog, an eight-year-old book on the place and loads of red ink. Oh, and a virtual fuzzbox.

Pic lifted from here.

Monday, 28 September 2009

LDP choose old nag Tanigaki Sadakazu in race to oblivion

They really don't get it and don't wanna get it, do they? Eh? Our Man's talking about the rump of the formerly invincible Liberal Democratic Party selecting a dead horse to flog the new boys - the currently in the saddle DPJ. Think Michael Howard vs Tony Blair or maybe more like Iain Duncan Smith. Who? Exactly.

Knocking on 7-11's Door

So here's Our Man's latest... featuring pornographic manga and an elephant! Just, have a look, OK? (and crank up the volume on your PC, Daddio!):

A few sleeve notes:
Our Man shot the live footage while popping out to his local 7-11 for some Saturday Night Specials
Our Man did each track in one take (practice really wouldn't have improved it). First he did the guitar and sang on Saturday night after consuming said specials.
He had to keep it down though as the kids were in bed (hence the subdued singing, well, and because he is crap at it too...) Can you hear the crickets chirping in the front garden?
Sunday afternoon he could be a bit noisier so added the harmonica and slide guitar tracks.
By the way, he only has one made-in-China acoustic guitar, but by the wonders of the iMac and free software, he ran it though a virtual fuzz box (the particular fuzz was appropriately enough called British Invasion).
That's all folks!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Our Man's on a roll or two

Hey, it's been a while for Our Man to blow his own, er, trumpet. But here's something worth mentioning:

Not only has Our Man been placed on the blog roll at that rather industrious Guyjin newcomer, but now he's on the sushi of the blog rolls of Japundit - and they wrote about him and everything, right here.

Now, if he could only figure out something worthwhile to do with all this added attention. Ooh, how about WORTHY-BUT-DULL POST - sponsor Our Man at the widget on the top right for instant holier-than-thou karma (see here)? Or UP-HIS-OWN-ARSE-WITH-IN-JOKES POST - It's not so much the Yomiuri, more the Gomiuri Shimbun? Or INSIGHTFUL INSIGHTS POST - Hey, the Hatoyama honeymoon will be over shortly.

Nahh, y'all would only see through the BS. How about just a link to someone who clearly knows a lot more than Our Man about Japanese society and politics and doesn't write in funny colours and point sizes? Try here.

Want something even tastier? Howsabout this fledgeling flame war between Justin McCurry of the Guardian and Ampantanmantpan (or something) guardian of all things Japanisible (as relayed here by Japan Probe). Tasty, huh?

Friday, 25 September 2009

Hey it's funny Engrish, written by natives!

Lifted from here.

Hatoyama's speech: Hot air in anybody's language

Yes, more hot air as predicted, but my, don't he do well in English?

Lifted from here, which has a link to a funnier video.

Five things Japan's new prime minister must do

Ran out of inspiration about three hours ago and got sick of typing the name HATOYAMA, so Our Man thought lists. When in doubt do a list. You don't have to type much and you, dear reader, don't have to read much. So here goes... Five things Hatoyama should do (written in five minutes or less... Our Man is into negative beauty sleep already):

5. Give Korean-Japanese the vote (and then, you might have to give Our Man the vote too!)
4. Ban the word "Fraternal" from all future speeches.
3. Forget "free highways" think "free pizza"
2. Show us the money (you know the $250 monthly payouts? Our Man has two kids, and pizza doesn't grow on trees you know)
1. Find a higher profile job for the DPJ's Kumiko Hayakawa (gratuitously pictured above pushing someone's buttons - lifted from her blog.)

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Twitter and the new stupidity

Lifted from here.

Brotherly love - Hatoyama's new hymn

Our Man has been trying to think of a good theme song for the new Japanese Prime Minister. Judging by these quotes (lifted from here) from his brotherly love-in with China's President Hu...

In a relaxed atmosphere, I was able to frankly express my feelings

The sea of dispute should be transformed into a sea of fraternity

We should promote diplomacy so that we can recognize differences between us. This is true diplomacy based on a spirit of fraternity

... Hatoyama's hymn has to be this one.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Never interview a fool...

... people might not notice the difference.

Hatoyama's hot air mission to New York

Start spreading the news, Hatoyama's leaving today for New York, N.Y. Or has already (but that kind of ruins the intro, never mind). Yeah, he's going to one of those tedious hot air conferences that folk from all corners of the world attend to collect more air miles and score brownie points pontificating about how much they might do to save the planet, in the near future, honest miss, just as long as you go first. Japan's new PM has crooned about making a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gasses on 1990 levels by 2020, if everyone else agrees. What does this mean?

Our Man hasn't got a clue.

A few problems off the top of Our Man's head:

1. What greenhouse gases are we talking about?
2. How reliable are the measurements of them (ie which bureaucrat lackey came up with Japan's fictitious figure?)
3. Does anyone remember what was so hot about 1990?
4. Was that the year the Channel Tunnel opened? Guns N Roses released November Rain? (guitar solo at 5:30)
5. Who is going to measure whether Japan has succeeded in its noble mission?
6. None of these pols will be in power in 2020, so whadda they care?

Hatoyama says he wants a society not dependent on carbon. Our Man too, but Our Man also wants an undersea secret base like Dr No where he can sup martinis when he's not churning out pulp novels and playing craps in his own casino with leggy temptresses with all their own teeth. It's not gonna happen is it?

How have we powered anything since we first climbed down from the trees and fancied a fry up? We burn shit. Branches, charcoal, coal, oil, methane, fag packets, uranium - you name it, we bung it on the fire and cook our toast, drive our cars, recharge our iPods and power up Google.

Sure, we should conserve what we've got left to burn (and aren't we doing a good job at that), but ultimately we're gonna burn it and burn it all. Short of a technological miracle, really, the only viable solution is a lot fewer people. Unfortunately, the Earth seems to be arranging for that to happen.

You wanna stop global warming? Start leading, quit whining and get used to hardship.

Anyway, enjoy your trip to NY, good luck with your numbers, Mr H.

Pic lifted from here.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

When Fox News gets caught with its knickers down

Oh, saw this the other day and thought maybe y'all should see it before it gets so old it stinks. Yep, Our Man is doing all he can to make himself unemployable to any of the Murdoch minions.

Make me get off my arse and do something worthwhile

So what has Our Man done to make the world a better place? How about a list?

1. Made smart arse comments about dodgy Japanese politicians.
2. Taken the piss out of crap robots.
3. Found any old excuse to run pictures of the DPJ's Kumiko Hayakawa (here's her latest from her blog)

4. Er, that's about it.

Well now he really is going to do something Inspirational, Selfless and Sweaty.
Yes, he's going to do something for charity. He's going to teach the world to sing in total harmony. Well, not really. In fact not at all. Here's the deal:

1. Our Man runs/walks/crawls round the Abikan Inland Sea (also known as Teganuma - a formerly putrid cesspit that is now a place of cement, er, scenic beauty) in a half marathon (21km - that's 13 miles in old money) on October 25th.

2. To cheer him on his way to a heart attack, you dear reader, can sponsor him with as little or as much as you like on his fundraising page right here. It's painless because you can use your credit card, or someone else's. That works even better.

3. The money goes to Justgiving, a disreputable holding firm with a world HQ in Bermuda - just joking - a well-established charity site back in the UK.

4. They then take a tiny cut to pay for their subscription to the Guardian and the rest of the money goes to Book Aid International. For every two pounds (¥300/$3?) they can get a brand new book into the hands of someone who really needs it in Sub-Saharan Africa and other war-torn places where reading is a valued skill, not a way to spend the workday "researching" on Facebook. The charity is right here. But don't take Our Man's word for it, John Irving is into it and David Cameron.

5. So, click here, donate, and Our Man will thank you in a personal pre-typed bog standard message.

6. Now, Our Man just has to start training. Ahem, piece of cake.

Monday, 21 September 2009

47 seconds at Shinjuku Station

Here's Our Man's latest movie - in letterbox format - which he made while hanging around the women's toilets in Shinjuku Station. Enjoy:

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Thank the lord for funnier people than Our Man

Ooops. Almost forgot again. Dunno how old this is, but Our Man found it today, so that makes it newsworthy, right?

Nearly forgot to post something...

Avast! The scurvy dog that is Our Man's memory missed the international Talk Like A Pirate Day. How about something far more sensible (diplomatic folk say "nuanced")- reasons why the world should welcome Hatoyama and the new boys.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Tombstones and confusing Britain

Another Saturday, another surreal Japanese lesson. Today, Our Man learnt:
Britain is a v. bad term because it means the same as England, but England is not Scotland.
When you say you have to do something in Japanese you are really saying "if you don't do something, that would be bad."
There was much more (and less) to the lesson, but Our Man forgot, engrossed as he was by sensei's 3-D sketch of his family's tombstone.

Japanese robot nurses? Pull the plug. Now.

The latest high-tech robot innovation that will make our autumn years sunnier? Err, it's not cute. It's sinister ("Pedobear" as it is becoming known). Well it would be sinister if it were anything more than a sodding hydraulic lift with a skirt on. What was wrong with the Filipino nurses doing the rounds anyway?

Dear reader, if Our Man should be incapacitated and require one of these things to transport him from bed to bog, please put him out of his misery with the nearest pillow. After you mercy kill the orchestra first, mind. Oh, and if you see this thing coming at you with a straw and a blue drink - KICK IT DOWN THE NEAREST FLIGHT OF STAIRS BEFORE IT UNDERCOOKS YOUR TOAST.

Vids lifted from Pink Tentacle here.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Be a man, be a weatherman dammit

Oh sure, you like Hatoyama now...

So, there was only one story on the daytime TV playgound here in Japan. Not the one about the actress and the bishop (OK, there was no bishop), the one about the new boys. Sadly, from the satirist's point of view, Hatoyama's gang seems to have everyone gushing, from the smart bloggers to Our Yomiuri-Shimbun-Reading Mother-in-Law who actually applauded the TV when the nutty natterers (indispensable to every TV show in Japan) lauded Hatoyama for insisting that his gang should be able to speak for themselves without getting notes from their bureaucrat prefects. Whatever next? Does Hatoyama really think the new boys can tie their own shoelaces? What would the Yomiuri Shimbun say?

One of the joys of the DPJ winning is watching the old boys squirm. Full marks for effort, Master Hatoyama, but now you have the keys to the tuck shop, we're waiting for the gobstoppers.

Pic lifted from here.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Seen some hideous ties, but this one...

New Japanese Cabinet: Just the interesting bits

KATSUYA OKADA: Foreign Minister, 56, avid collector of frog figurines. Honestly.

TOSHIMI KITAZAWA: Defense Minister, 71, he's a pacifist. Full marks for irony.

HIROHISA FUJII: Finance Minister, 77, is not thought to have all his own teeth.

MASAYUKI NAOSHIMA: Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, 63, a former Toyota trade unionist, a strong advocate of cutting wasteful government spending. We'll see, Brother, now the shoe's on the other foot.

HIROFUMI HIRANO: Chief Cabinet Secretary. An avid runner, 60. Let's hope he doesn't feel the urge to write an autobiography about it.

KEIKO CHIBA: Justice Minister. Hey, isn't Keiko a girl's name?

MIZUHO FUKUSHIMA: Population, Consumer Affairs, Gender Equality and Food Safety Minister (plus Makes the tea for the boys): OMG - another woman!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Doubts already on experience of Japan's new Cabinet members

Snippet snipped from Yahoo Asia Pacific News here.

The Cabinet and all that

Well, the new PM Yukio Hatoyama has revealed his new cabinet. Our Man hasn't had time to study the names to find who might be the best source of humour and/or scandal, so he'll get back to you on that score. Meanwhile, check out here for the list and official links.

Japanese politics blog of the week - He's a guy and he's a jin (?)


Hey, whatever happened to Blog of the Week? Well, it's been hanging around the back of the virtual bike sheds having a fag or two (in the British non-public schoolboy sense) biding its time. And that time is now, shall we christen it Blog of the Week Wednesday? (Howabout Got Naff All Else to Write About Wednesday - Ed.?)

Well there are a couple of close-but-no-cigar entries like here (really, two posts - no matter how good - in as many months just doesn't cut it) and here (great stuff, but lordy, waaaaay toooo loooooonnnnngggg, Our Man would like to be able to finish reading a post before his wine turns to vinegar, you know? But Secret handshake to Yumeiji's Theme all the same).

So the winner is here - who very nearly got disqualified for the name Guyjin (but then, hey, here's the kettle calling the pot black) and for asking for link love (breaking one of the Our Man 10 Commandments).

But, Mr G posts regularly, frequently about J-politics and happily lacks the gravitas that makes so many political blogs dull to read - in short he doesn't seem to be up his own arse.

Welcome aboard, your reward is membership of the Field Agents feed to the right there, which plonks the most recent posts on top. So keep it coming Mr G. - you don't want to hang with the nearly sunk Smashed and Sinking or (hardly ever) Daily English Show who post even less frequently than the snappily titled Reconciliation between China and Japan: A search for solutions (A search for bloody posts, more like).

Irrelevant pic lifted from here.

Clean sweep of the Japanese vice bureaucrats

It's hard to fathom as a Brit accustomed to the perverse whims of Prime Ministers becoming national policy thanks to the elective dictatorship of one party in control of the government and the legislature (spit it out Our Man - Ed.), but here in Japan a little elective dictatorship is precisely what's needed to shake up the bureaucrats who have been running the show for donkeys. Well, seems the asses are out on their asses (10 points for cleverness - Ed.) already - the "vice ministers" who have been convening for official policy-making meetings twice a week since the 19th century - get this - held their last meeting yesterday.

Shame that they have decided to continue meeting secretly though, and told everyone as much. Dohhh!

Picture of gratuitous "robot" vacuum cleaner and woman (hey, would you prefer to look at a Japanese bureaucrat?) lifted from here.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Talk about strange fruit

Sorry for picking the low-hanging fruit in the last post, but Our Man is just waiting around for the DPJ to release the names of its "cabinet of all stars". Yes, Our Man is sure you are as excited as he is.

Some people say Fox News is full of shit...

...but Our Man wouldn' know any of them.

Actually, Our Man has no problem with folk inserting their opinions, after all, there is no one true take on anything. Except for Our Man's, some people say.

Tokyo Underworld in Seven Minutes or less

Our Man hates deadlines. Here's his latest. Seven minutes. After that, it's time for bed, So here's a post written in 420 seconds or less. Er, howabout a book review? Our Man got stuck in to Tokyo Underworld by, err, Robert Whiting. And it's really good. All about a poor Italian American on the make in postwar Tokyo who manages to join the general corruption of the day and turn a tidy profit flogging Uncle Sam's wares on the black market. Three Minute warning. Sheeet. Er, anyway, Our Man only got to page 60 when his other deadline approached (the bus pulled up outside Shinjuku station) so there may be a whole lot of other good stuff to come. It did remind Our Man of the contractors on the make in Iraq and he can't help but think endemic corruption is part and parcel of 40 seconds, er, all wars and their aftermath. G'night all.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The naked truth on Meiko Tanaka

Our Man is always the last to know. In fact, he only found out because of a google search for "Meiko Tanaka Topless" that found Our Man (bizarrely). Hmmm. Maybe because her name should be spelt Mieko (Ed.)

Our Man's new movie - Hello Hatoyama aka "Voices"

Well Our Man was hanging with his favourite pussy - Kitty chan - the other day and lo, this is what he saw and heard:

Hey, this one came as much as a surprise to Our Man as it probably does to you. Remember the Hatoyama essay (no, neither does he) in which Japan's new prime minister waxes lyrical about wanting a more equal relationship in the special relationship the country enjoys with America (Japan = occupied power / America = occupied shoppers) and it got him thinking:
Everybody's been talking about who translated it, who leaked it, who typed it and who put it on the NY Times' website, but nobody's actually, you know, talking about its content - because it's nonsense, right?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Japanese health care: The ear nose and throat full monty

Don't know if this qualifies as Our Man's contribution to the health care debate, but the other day, Our Man thought he was going a bit deaf in his left ear, so he popped round to the ear nose and throat doctor's practice above his nearest Mister Donut to get it checked out.

He'd thought long and hard about how to explain his condition using his best Japanese on how he had gone to a summer firework display a week or so ago and the noise could be the cause of it... but there was no time for any of that. Before Our Man could open his mouth:

Some grumpy 60-year-old bloke in a mask shoved him into a seat and stuck a metal milkshake spoon in his ear poked about a bit (owwww) made him sit in the smallest broom cupboard he'd ever seen in his life stuck a pair of headphones he hadn't seen since the time stereos were items of furniture then out of the cupboard it was stick this tube up your nostril and another in your ear and then he turned the vacuum on OWWWWWW then the next nostril OWWWWWWW then it was stick these two pipes up your nose and wait until the light goes out that's ¥3,100 take these pills twice daily see you in two days for your next treatment.

Friday, 11 September 2009

What a difference eight years make

Wasn't it 9-11 today? Our Man was sure there was some significance to that number. Or was it 11-9? 7-11? Oh, bollocks, cant remember. Here's a cool vid instead featuring a llama:

Top 10 reasons not to read this blog

10. The author has no insider knowledge of what he's writing about.
9. The author has no intention of making friends with the tossers who grace these posts.
8. The author is not trying to flog you anything cool.
7. The author is not interested in really weird Japanese shit that's really weird, lol.
6. The author often makes mistakes and sometimes even admits it.
5. The author often says shit and occasionally fuck.
4. The author has no plans to change what he writes about to be more popular.
3. The author never reciprocates link love to boost hits.
2. The author doesn't love the sound of his own voice.
1. The author is not taking this at all seriously. He's just having fun.

Pic lifted from here.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Humour versus the racists

Lifted from here.

Understanding the Japanese election (the Ourmani way)

Our Man is back in one piece from his Secret Mission and can fully debrief you: He went off and wrote a straight piece about Japanese politics for another website. And he got paid for it. He does feel a little dirty about it, but only a little. He of course donated his fee to charity, but anyway, here's the Gospel (in 600 words, stay awake on the back pew there) according to Ourmani Nabiko. Click here for the authorised version as it appeared on the rather good travel website Matador.

By Ourmani Nabiko

Forget what you think you know about Japan. You know, the wacky game show hosts humiliating their guests; super-high-tech robots about to usher in a new dawn of pampering; or geisha girls, earthquakes and tea ceremonies typifying the "otherworldlyness" of the Land of the Rising Sun. Maybe, just maybe, for a fleeting moment last Sunday the world caught a glimpse of the real Japan.

That would be the Japan that just voted out of office the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which apart from an eight-month period, has been in power continuously since 1955.
Is this a revolutionary change? Or just cosmetic?

The numbers speak of an electoral earthquake: In the 480 seat lower house of the Japanese parliament, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) took 308 for themselves, leaving the former party of government with a rump 119 seats and less than a third of the popular vote.

Ah, this is all about Change. True, that was a strong element of the election. Talk to just about any Japanese person and they will tell you they are proud of finally changing the party in power. But there's more to it than aping Obama or just rejecting what went before. In the next breath, that same voter will tell you, "But you know, in Japan, the bureaucrats run everything."

And this was the key issue identified by the DPJ and went a long way to explaining their victory. But a war on bureaucracy doesn't mean the perfunctory criticism of public sector budgets and cliched cries of "Cut the red tape!" common to elections throughout the West.

In Japan, the bureaucrats really do run the show. The ministries keep their ministers under tight rein and keep the private sector beholden to the bureaucrats, who can make or break companies by awarding lucrative contracts or revoking a key license. The diligent bureaucrat then gets a nice retirement with a cushy job in a company that he (and it's always a he) was supposed to be regulating. This is standard operating procedure, for a recent example click here.

That incestuous relationship is ignored as an unwelcome but bearable fact of life when the economy is growing, but with years of economic stagnation and (official) unemployment rates at a postwar high of 5.9 percent, voters had a right to feel old ways just didn't work anymore.

Did that mean voters turned their back on the free market and the right? You might have read throwaway lines about the DPJ being a hodgepodge party of the left - the unions back the party after all. Does this mean the country has veered away from the US and into the arms of China, as Conservative commentators in the US fear?

Well, left and right tags aren't that helpful. The man who will become Prime Minister on September 16th, Yukio Hatoyama, has some powerful relatives. He is the grandson of a former PM and is married to the heiress of the Bridgestone fortune. In short, he's no Red, and neither are the senior members of his party, many of whom started their careers with the LDP.

Sure, the victors offered voters nanny state payouts - more cash for farmers; a higher minimum wage; $250 for each child, every month; slashing school fees; and axing freeway tolls (there is a toll on every freeway). But what they didn't offer was the massive dam projects, the concreting of local scenic spots, or the bridges to nowhere that are the beloved policy tools of the LDP and the bureaucrats to stimulate the economy. Already, the future's looking bleak for the cement mixers.

If the election meant anything lasting it was this: the interests of the consumer won out against the interests of the producers for the first time in living memory in Japan.

There's just one catch. To pay for all the promises, the DPJ is banking on reining in the bureaucrats. And they may have other ideas.

Poster politician: Yukio Hatoyama - bureaucrat basher? The poster reads "A change of government". From here.

Ourmani Nabiko is a former newspaper journalist who has worked in Britain, the United States and Japan. His blog on Japanese politics (mostly) can be found here.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Radio Friendly Song - but NSFW ;-)

Well, beats the bloomin Beatles re-re-re release being hyped everywhere Our Man turns.

Japan is not about to go Red

For all three of you regular readers yearning for great political insights from Our Man, and not funny videos by other folk - Our Man says: what is wrong with you? Besides, Our Man has been on a Secret Mission to spread the gospel according to St. Ourmani, and he's hopeful of being able to report back with news to warm the home front very soon. But, until then, may he offer his expert analysis on some of the chaff that keeps obscuring his radar:

1. Take a chill pill, conservative commentators, Japan's new governing DPJ is not a bunch of red-eyed Stalinist Satanists.
2. Neither are they completely inept, wet-behind-the-ears herbivores. Well, some of them aren't anyway.
3. About this whole "centre-left" thing and getting closer to the mainland and dumping the Yanks and following the British Cabinet system as a role model. Remember Tony? Tony Blair when he was just a PM of a middle-ranking country and not the McSaviour of the Earth? He came in In a Blaze of Glory promising (in his best French) to push his uniquely unique island nation closer to the nearest continent, and further from the Yanks, and to embrace social inclusion, yadda, yadda and Our Man says again, yadda.

Well, it didn't quite work out like that in the end, did it readers?

Pic of British democracy in action lifted from here.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Her name is Amy Walker and she's from...

Haruki Murakami: Marathon slog through his short memoir

Our Man finally got round to finishing reading one of his holiday picks, Haruki Murakami's What I talk about when I talk about running. Well, Our Man didn't actually make it to the end of the memoir. Funny, because it's a slim volume and Our Man likes Murakami and likes the idea of running (sort of) but something happened two-thirds into the race to finish it. Something he thought he'd never say: He got bored with Murakami. Why?

For a personal memoir we learn virtually nothing about Mr M. personally. Does he have kids? Did he fall wildly in love with Mrs M.? Did he dream of being a rock star or a train driver when he was little? We don't know.
Fat is easy to gain and hard to lose. Muscles are hard to gain and easy to lose. No shit, Sherlock.
We do learn that Mr M. is obsessive-compulsive about running and writing. But never why this should be.
Sure, it's a book about running (as a metaphor for writing and life and such) but being told the ins and outs of his injuries and how his knee was giving him jip was as interesting as when your elderly neighbour corners you and does the same. The difference being with Mr M. that you can shut him up when you please.

Pic lifted from the New Yorker lifted from here.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Swine flu unwelcome pork for the new pols in town

Maybe Our Man can't see the trough for his snout, but he reckons this swine flu thing will be the first test of the DPJ's super non-stick, non-bureaucratic decision-making people power thing. Two kids are off from Our Little 'Uns school with swine flu and 15 schools are closed in Kashiwa, the big city down the road, according to the neighbourhood gossip (Our Woman).

Whatcha gonna do about that, Mr Hatoyama?

Japan Rewound 2.0 - Backwards Bloopers and Forwards Fails

Rejoice! The wait for more rewound action is over (translation: Our Man is cashing in on past glories):

A few notes:

In another great leap forward for Our Man's movie-making abilities, it features TALKING (and sniggering).
There is only one swear word in the whole thing.
The video was of course shot backwards and then replayed forwards, to give it gritty realism.
Our Man's Little Sister is back in Blighty and has made a full recovery.

No idea what this video was about? Check out the original here (it's had nearly 7,000 hits!):

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Three out of four (links in one post to Japan Probe) ain't bad

Fell asleep reading the Japan Times (hey it was in the 30s this afternoon, and Dilbert wasn't very good today, OK?) , so looked for some moving news on Japan and found these two items. My, Japan Probe's James (no relation to Mr James of McDonalds infamy) has been busy:

Pic of McDick lifted from here. (Ok, that's five links in one post, but who's counting?)

Summering with Col. Custer and friends

Lifted from the Rev. Paperboy.

Coming (and going) to a blog near you

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Two birds in the hand are worth all the tea in Taiwan

You'll no doubt be as relieved as Our Man that school has started again. Yep, for Our Man that means his surreal Japanese classes have started up. Today he learnt:

His teacher's first name means crane (presumably the bird, not the machine).
A fellow student from Shanghai's first name means sparrow.
Taiwan is famous* for its uron-cha (a kind of not particularly pleasant tea).

*This "fact" was amazingly unknown to the fellow Chinese students in the class.

Flaky First Lady on a Top Secret Mission

Why even bother looking for farce when it rides in on a New Age Spaceship with brass nobs on?

Yes, this here, on the flakiness of "Japan's First Lady". By the way, that ain't no First Lady, that's Hatoyama's wife.

Anyway, apologies for the relative oldness of that link, Our Man has got a Top Secret Mission of sorts to be getting on with, so he can't reveal anymore about that until Monday. In the meantime, here's (another aging) vid, (secret handshake here) that you twintterfacers will probably have all seen already, but here goes:

Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids

Friday, 4 September 2009

Tedious piece about Japan-US relations (and link to Aussie snot)

There now follows an ever-so-tedious piece about US-Japan relations, so if you are looking for something a bit more interestinger, try here, where you can see Australians sneezing in slow motion. It's pretty cool, if a little snotty.

So anyway, Our Man found himself reading this New York Post article, America's New Japan Challenge, by some Bruce Murdoch money-taker who argues it's going to be tough for America to deal with the new guy in charge here (does Bruce know that Hatoyama, the new guy in charge here, means Pigeon Mountain? Once you know that, there really is nothing to be afraid of, now is there?) To summarise his masterwork:

See, apparently the DPJ has no plan, but it does have a plan (?) to move the country closer to China (?) This is bad for the US because they want a more independent Japan that follows America's will (?) by building up its military so that it can help America's National interest by ferrying more Americans to their deaths in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But the US is also worried about China, so having a loyal ally like Japan make better friends with China is v. bad (?)

Dunno 'bout you, but Our Man reckons America's Japan challenge is understanding what on earth Bruce is on about.

(You don't think Bruce really just wants to flog F-22 Budget Busters to the Japos do you? Nahhhh, couldn't be that.)

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Backwards Japan - the prequel sequel limited release

Remember this smash hit? (Actually it's had 6,000+ hits, so not bad for Our Man) Well, click right here and you can get an exclusive sneak preview of Rewound: The Making of a Blooper. But be warned, it's on limited release (first 25 hits only) until Monday, when it goes on general release. (Why bother, Our Man? Dunno, just seemed like fun).

Knew Our Man had seen this Hatoyama chap before

Coincidence? Our Man thinks not:

Yoda, showbiz puppet

Yukio Hatoyama, Japan PM

Hatoyama pic lifted from here.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Thinking of a new career in Japanese politics

You can learn the darndest things from the telly. Today, for example: Did you know that taxpayers foot the bill for secretaries for Japanese members of parliament - to the tune of ¥5 million to ¥10 million each a year (about 30,000 to 60,000 quid). Hmm. Quite a nice salary, but they are doing the nation's work. And...

Members of the lower house get an expenses budget of ¥1.5 million a month (9,000 quid a month), paid by Greater Abikans, naturally. If that sounds a tad generous, that's because IT IS!

With that kind of money, it's a wonder that any pol would ever want more, eh readers?

Oh, didn't catch what their actual salary was.

Top 10 tips for Japan's new prime minister Yukio Hatoyama

Japan's next PM a softie at home, says wife ...

10. When someone asks "Who's in charge here?" don't point to Ozawa.
9. Don't let anyone know that you like watching films "in which the protagonists are animals".
8. Encouraging comparisons to the Kennedy clan is all very well, but remember, it didn't work out too well for them in the end, did it?
7. Have you thought through your war on bureacracy thing? Those red flashy light poles beside parked bulldozers don't hold themselves, you know.
6. If you can't make the budget balance, just reach for your wife's purse.
5. For Chisssakes, don't let your secretary put your money on a "dead cert"
4. You can't buy a nuclear umbrella at the 7-11
3. When slagging off the Yanks, do it in a Japanese paper, they'd never think of translating it and putting it on the Net.
2. Two words: Pigeon Mountain.
1. Comb your hair and look at people who are talking to you.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

DPJ's Japan - the Dawn of the New Rising Sun: The Soundtrack

Tears in the eyes. From this chap here, bless 'im.

Japan Election: Lizard People win the only poll that matters

Dunno bout you, but Our Man has had enough of polls for a bit. So, guess it's time to call time (dang, that was clever, PhD clever!) on the Our Man poll that was hanging on the wall to the left. Well, of 615 votes cast in 28 days (some of them not even cast by Our Man) we have a new winner: The World Economic Community Party. However, there is nothing even remotely funny about that, so Our Man declares Lizard People the winner, if nothing else to get the hits from wacky David Icke's disciples searching the far off corners of the webternet for more evidence of reptilian infiltration. Who says it's only the Japanese who follow loons?

Anyway, here are the results in full:

Poll Results

Question: Who would you vote for in the Japanese General Election?

LDP - they know graft
DPJ - they know Jack
Commies - they know it all
Happiness Realization Party - I know Jack

World Economic Community Party
official moster raving loony party (UK)
aaaaa - Hideki Tojo
Douglas Macarthur v2.0
Mr. James
the bloke who used to run Nova
Keith Richards
Our Man's Little Sister
New Party Japan
Our Man in Abiko
The Rev. Paperboy
Coalition for Subsidized Arbitrary Yanking
Death to Japan Party
Haruki Murakami
I would spoil my ballot on purpose or write "None of the above" on it.
japan sucks party
Kouichi Toyama
Lizard People
Monster Raving Loony - Vote for insanity! You know it makes sense.
my mate Tim Williams
New Japan
Notorious Roppongi Gaijin Drug Dealer
restore the fuckin emperor!
Um, totally not Kodos this time
would make any difference?