Thursday, 31 December 2009

End of Decade Quiz iii: What pre-election promise has Hatoyama kept?

a) To give parents $250 or so a month.
b) To give foreigners the right to vote in local elections.
c) To pay taxes on his squillion billion payments from his mummy.
d) To strengthen the US-Japan alliance.

Answers in the New Year (or later if we wait for Hatoyama to make a decision).

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

End of Decade Quiz ii: What US political slogan did aging Japanese "star" Matsuzaki Shigeru use to promote his 2009-10 tour?

a) The buck stops here.
b) Yes we can!
c) Speak softly, but carry a big stick.
d) You betchaaaa!

Answers in the New Year. BTW, first correct answer out of the virtual hat gets THE ENTIRE Our Man in Abiko Seven-11 empty wine bottle collection. Please pick up any Thursday morning.

End of Decade Quiz: Berlin 1939 or Abiko 2009?

Our Man found this in amongst his IMPORTANT PAPERS while cleaning out his sock drawer, and thought he could turn it into a competition ala The Penguin. Answers early next year.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Another Top 10 list (but his one is by some other folk)

Our Man saw this on his travels and thought of you:

Lifted from here.

Completely unbiased list of the 10 biggest stories ever

Right. Got it now. Why stick to a top 10 of important news stories from the last year, or decade, for that matter, as it's all far too recent (as any historian will tell you) to make a proper judgement, so here are Our Man's Top 10 Stories for All Time:

10. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Hey, that would make a great subject for a book.
9. Susan Boyle's amazing conquest of the world sometime after.
8. The invention of the hovercraft.
7. Discovery of alcohol.
6. Invention of the wheel.
5. Re-invention of the wheel.
4. Election of the first Obama to become a President.
3. The Millenium Bridge wobbling a bit.
2. Something about Shakespeare.
1. Our Man in Abiko's Top 10 List of All Time Top 10 Stories (hey, this is kind of like looking into a mirror with a mirror, which perhaps should have been in this list too).

Sunday, 27 December 2009


Not only is it the end of the year, but also the end of the decade. It's hard enough for Our Man to figure out the top 10 stories of last year, let alone the last 10. Bollocks. Haven't got a clue.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Our Man's world, such as it is

For all those sad bastards checking in here instead of doing something more worthwhile with their last few days of the year, don't feel too bad. After all, Our Man's wasted more time writing this than it takes you to read it, unless you are a really slow reader (or PR news release writer).

But anyway, so Hatoyama's Cabinet has rubber stamped a squillion billion budget, loads of dead anchovies have washed up on Chiba's shores and Our Man has just finished painting his front door "Chocolate Colour" (that's what it said on the tin. It looks kind of rust red to anyone that didn't read the tin though).

Our Man is just killing time while Our Woman rustles up a nabe (kind of like a casserole stew that you cook at the dinnertable) ready to welcome old friends from the motherland who are staying the night. So in Walter Cronkite fashion, may Our Man sign off for the evening with a homely truism:

That's Our Man's world, such as it is.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Out of luck and out of time

There's no doubt, the Japanese Prime Minister is not on the Mainichi Daily News' Christmas card list - this must be the third day running their lead story is slagging Hatoyama. Our Man's had too much of the Christmas spirit to judge, but it does seem the Earl of Bridgestone has something to hide. Like anybody really cares, but if he doesn't start kicking some butt on all the other stuff he's been ignoring in his in-box, he's heading for an early exit.

Oh, and sorry, Our Man has run out of saucy postcards to post. What do you care? And what are you doing reading this? Go play with the kids or something.

Merry Xmas from the Our Man in Abiko family

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Freedom's all relative

Our Man's not much of one for pan-Asian relations. He has trouble enough getting his head round Japan, let alone anywhere else in these parts. But he found himself scoffing dumplings at a Chinese couple's pokey company flat yesterday with their two-year-old son clambering about blanket in hand, and was blind-sided by an observation they made. "We love Japan," the lady of the mansion said "because we didn't know what human rights were until we came here. People are so free here."

Ehhh? Here? The land of the hammer that hits the nail that stick out? Man, if this place is the free world, China must be worse than North Korea.

Well yeah, if you want your son to have a brother or sister.

And China is the great hope for the global economy? Sheesh.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Our Man Wine Club: Yosemite Sauv - lots of bang but little buck (dang that was clever)

So the best newspapers have a wine club. Well, Our Man isn't in to clubs (and they are not in to him), but he does have a 7-11 and they've never refused him entry yet AND they have wine, so let's start there. Now, not too sure, but as far as Our Man can recall he spent less than 700 yen, may even have been 598 yen (about three quid) on a bottle of finest Seven Eleven Californian red Yosemite Road Cabernet Sauvignon (let's just call it Yosemite Sauv and be done with it).

BTW: In the interests of impartiality, all wine reviews will be conducted after consuming the whole bottle (and no spell check allowed). Then, you can judge the grammar and syntax and spelling and such to see if you reckon it's a good 'un by comparing it to other reviews - the worse the revcview, the better the wine.

Enough! Here's the review:

Alcohol: 12.5%
Vintage: Probably last month
Estate: Yeah right. Council?

Er, actually it was quite fruity but not sickly sweet like other dirt cheap wines usually are. It's a bit lacking in punch, but drinkable. Oh, and it's got no nose. How does it smell? Bloody aweful. Haaaaaaa haaaaa haaaaa haaaaa.

You're-my-best-mate-you-are factor: 70 percent.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

For the puritanical, salarymaniacal, and their bosses:

Just a snapshot of a happy thought going through Our Man's mind this morning:

Lifted (with minimal effort) from here.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Sorry luv, your ratios are all wrong

The Japan Times saw fit to serve its loyal reader in Abiko this three-day old wire piece this morning on boffins figuring out the three essential measurements of female beauty - the proportional distance between the nose, eyes and ears. And there was Our Man thinking it was three entirely different measurements that counted. Oh well, Our Man's not a scientist so what does he know?*

For godsake don't tell 'em beauty's only skin deep or someone at Princeton will be measuring just how thick beautiful skin really is.

*The scientists proved their case by citing Shania Twain as the perfect beauty, while those clunkers Angelina Jolie and the heartthrob from the Darling Buds of May (pictured) apparently were shy of the perfect ratio, which is 36%. You got that?

First of the top 10 lists - Our Man at the movies

Yeah, top 10 schtop schten. But, frankly, it's an easy fill and Our Man is knackered from all this Christmas bon homie. So, here's Our Man's personal favourite vids he shot himself:

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Blast of hot air from Copenhagen

Is it just Our Man or was the Copenhagen Hot Air festival a complete and utter blowout? The Japan Times had a loving splash on "accord agreed at Copenyada yada yada" this morning (sorry, stopped reading - it's a broadsheet, remember them? For the benefit of British readers who no longer have any, they were the big things that kept tourists' fish and chips warm).

The powers that be agreed to stick (or not if they don't want to) to a non-binding deal which was exactly what the big boys wanted before they got there, that is meaningless percentage decreases in carbon emissions in the future. You know, akin to campaign pledges like loads of free dosh for parents as promised by Hatoyama and co, who have decided that, actually, they won't show us the money after all.

Think Global Talk 21 has called the Copenwhatsit spade a spade. Why not check out an intelligent rabbit who knows the science too?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Abiko 90210!

One is the Magic Kingdom, the other is the suburban wasteland setting for The Office. Got a lot in common, huh? Now they do. They are twinned.

So, it can only be a matter of time before we get a twinning deal for Abiko and Beverly Hills. Think of all the junket free trips the local pols could swing. Hmmmm. Come on fellow bloggers,

Let's get Abiko 90210 on the map!

Secret handshake to Our Man in Okinawa.

Oh, sorry, nearly forgot the point of this post (?) was to advertise the incoming list on the left there that features all Our Man's interesting discoveries. Of which the Swindon Twinning was one.

As you were.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Shining a light on the yakuza and such

Time to sex up this Christmas turkey that is Our Man in Abiko. And how better than to bring in a new BLOG OF THE WEEK. Well, not new exactly. Our Man clicked on it by accident a year ago when he was young and in need of guidance on how to do this thing called blogging (now he is older and beyond help). Yep, the winner is Japan Subculture Research Center... "founded in 2007 to expose the hidden side of Japan – its underground economy, its sex trade, and all the other intriguing and seedy aspects that keep the country running." It also does a good line in flogging Jake Whatshisname's Tokyo Vice book. And why not? It is his site after all.

But recently, the posts have started flowing again, thanks in no small part to Sarah Whatshername (who wrote the best piece Our Man's read about The Cove dolphin love-in press conference right here).

Write on, sister - the whole (japano-bloggeramishere) world is watching!

Secret saccharine handshake to D, who noticed the blog was back in black.

(Enough of the tedious linking to the bloggerarti - go do some work yourself - Ed.)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Deep within Our Man is... a link somewhere else.

Bollocks, it's cold. Got no feeling left in the end of my fingers, and this being the season of er, filling blogs with top 10 lists of old crap and then looking forward to more shite for the New Year, well Our Man doesn't have the heart to write about much of that or anything else right now. Go watch a video or something. Yes, Our Man won't be going home this Christmas again either.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Komeito Team 3000 - Come on down!

Is this the future? The past? A new salesman for the Insta-Vac 3000, the latest in home colonic irrigation? Think so. Or, this is the new leader for New Komeito - you remember them, the junior partner in the LDP coalition that did such a good job, er, doing nothing. But they do like to lay Buddhists or something. Well these posters are popping up all around Our Man's neighbourhood, and according to the girls in the typing pool the slogan is along the lines of "We're closer to you than you think". Yikes. And there are 3,000 of them.*

Our Man reckons there's more than a little Leslie Crowther in the new chap (and a lot of Grecian 2000).

*The girls in the typing pool reckon this is the number of elected pols they have in the country. Our Man reckons it is the year that they will next be back in power.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Pissing on protocol and other postcards from the edge

Our Man's been asleep at the wheel again, and almost completely missed the hooha about the Chinese Vice Chairman Xi (anything like a Nintendo Wii?) visiting the Japanese emperor WITHOUT THE USUAL ONE MONTH advance warning. The cad! Anyway, also missed Ozawa, the former No. 1 of the DPJ (aka "the kingmaker" aka "the shogun" aka "that big fat odious toad") visiting China. Did Our Man read correctly, was he touring with an entourage of 600? Possibly the only man-made delegation visible from space.

Why, that's not a delegation, it's an invasion!

Speaking of Wiis, other entertaining news just here - Pissed copper nicked for urinating over platform edge.

I missed ya, Japan Times. Welcome back from your holiday.

Vice work if you can get it

It's dark. And all through Our Man's House,
not a creature did stir,
not even a mouse.
So fat chance Our Man was going to wander around in the dark taking pictures -
that hilarious political snapshot will have to wait til sunup.

Meanwhile, seems Jake what's-his-name is doing the circuit, not only appearing on the Daily Show, in the Japan Times, cropping up at Shisaku and Mutant Frog Tavelogue, not to mention mentions at Japan Without the Sugar and Japan Probe, but he even has made Our Man twice in one day if you count this post. BTW, Our Man would happily link to all of the aforementioned, but he can't be arsed doing all that cutting and pasting. Check out the links on the left if you are interested.

But hey, go out and buy his book, dammit. He's an ex-journo, surviving 10 or more years at the Gomiuri. If that isn't reason enough to buy his book, dunno what is. OK, here's one link to his book and a few others you might want for Christmas if you are into Japan and all that.

Pic lifted from here. (NB That's a pic of Tokyo Mice, not Tokyo Vice - Ed.)

Monday, 14 December 2009

Our Man's gift to you... patience?

Dang, another day nearly done and no post. Well, it is a newspaper holiday, so Our Man is a bit lost for news to take the mickey out of. That, and he has been busy keeping the Chinese Communists employed by buying crap from ToysRus for Giftmas.

Anyway, he's hopeful of a post about something later tonight, he spotted something political and ridiculous and Japanese and everything on the mean streets of Abiko, so as long as the light doesn't fail, expect a pic shortly(ish).

In the meantime, why not read about yakuza and the fearless reporter who broke the story (and has a book out for Giftmas too) right here. Plus, reading it will help keep the author alive.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

If it's good enough for George Michael...

The religiously deluded often cite the power of faith to bring peace to the world (uh-huh, that's working out real well) and beautiful music. They obviously haven't heard Dylan's new Christmas album.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Top 10 ways to stop global warming

10 - Save energy. Shut yourself down whenever you hear a keyword (eg "Futenma") in the media.
9. Start wearing two woolly jumpers now. When it starts to get really hot, just take one off. Problem solved!
8. Japan Times - stop wasting everyone's time by printing pols' speeches verbatim (eg Obama's Nobel Prize)
7. Reduce top 10 lists by 50 percent
1. Yomiuri Shimbun - just stop printing, OK?

Friday, 11 December 2009

Murdoch boycott Day 1

So, the Great Murdoch Purge begins. Out go links to The Sun and The Times and (sadly) Asia Exile, oh and the Financial Times, New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. OK, so Our Man never linked to the WSJ, but it's the principle, dammit (meaningless gesture, you mean - Ed.)

In case you are a bit lost, Our Man has decided that if Murdoch wants to start charging for access to his news websites, Our Man will stop linking to them for free

Wanna join in too? Just don't link to any of the above for starters...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Murdoch boycott starts right here (in a bit)

If Rupert the Murdoch wants to charge all comers for accessing his news websites, maybe Our Man should stop linking to them for free. The Thunderer from Down Underer is well within his rights to make a quick buck off of the news, but Our Man is within his to say, ain't gonna help ya do it. No more free publicity for you, Rupe. Whaddaya reckon, readers -

anybody wanna join a Murdoch boycott?

Oh, give Our Man some time to clean out his links list. Shame, he kinda liked Asia Exile (The Times blog).

Ohx2 Here's some interesting reading about Murdoch and such.

What is time?

In sympathy with Our Man's brothers and sisters still in Eikaiwa Hell, this is for you. He feels your pain:

Lifted from here.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Give us your billions (as the lights go out all over Abiko)

Having slagged off some piece of shoddy PR masquerading as journalism (see here), Our Man feels a bit silly (but only a bit) admitting that, well, plenty of folk here in Japan are not exactly happy about their lot in life. Particularly money-wise. See, traditionally, your long-suffering salaryman here gets a winter and summer bonus that amount to 40 percent of annual salary. Now, Our Man hasn't seen any figures, but judging from the sour expressions of his salaryman-neighbours, there ain't nothing to smile about this New Year drinking season - and forget being able to pay off the mortgage any decade soon, honey.

More scientifically, according to the Our Man Xmas Light Index (Omxli), there's about 80 percent less disposable income to blow on stimulatin' anything. That is to say, Our Man's house is the only one round here with tacky Xmas lights (and he can't stand the season too), whereas last year at least four houses bared their garish kack for all to see.

No wonder the government just passed another whopping squillian billion stimulus budget yesterday.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Power of good editing (and ripping off stuff from others)

Guess Our Man must be the last person to see this, but if he's wrong (when does that ever happen?) enjoy this movie, which proves the value of good editing. By the way, the original was based on a Stephen King novel, right? So does this count as a Book Talk Tuesday post? (Sorry, haven't read anything good for ages, been up to my armpits in turgid press releases masquerading as news stories):

A mighty firm secret handshake to the Rev. Paperboy who has got a whole bunch more like this one right here.

Why are you so anxious, Ann?

Our Man doesn't believe in polls. Sure, they exist and all, but so do weather stories - they are there to fill the void between the adverts in the paper on slow news days. Case in point: The Nikkei in a hardhitting report (er, regurgitated news release) has UNCOVERED THE TRUTH - Japanese worry alot. In fact more than any other nation, apparently. In fact, in fact, in fact, everyone is scared shitless about the current global and/or domestic situations and/or the living conditions of their families.

Er, well folk were seriously miffed about the "fiscal deficit," "safety of the food supply," "unemployment" and "global warming," all categories in which Japan's percentage exceeded the global average. "Concern about macroeconomic matters was notable," screams the Nikkei.

Meanwhile, the Japanese anxiety rates were below the global averages for such matters as "the war in Afghanistan," "food prices" and "gasoline prices."


So is Japan quaking or not? Our Man guesses not. Later in the article we learn the survey was "conducted from spring through summer, targeting 11 countries. This is the first time Japan was included in the poll. The figures for Japan are based on valid responses from 500 people age 20 or older by JWT, a major New York-based ad agency and group firm of U.K. advertising giant WPP plc."

Ah-huhh. So, it's dated, over-simplified and from a tiny control group, probably done on the cheap by folk in a call centre somewhere where there ain't no better jobs. Oh, and written by non-journos. Type in the words "Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT" (Anxious Annie is the PR bod who generated this nonsense) and "anxiety" into Google, and you get 70,800 links.

Seems the boss makes a good living worrying about anxiety.

Wanna stop worrying? Stop reading crap.

Monday, 7 December 2009

When headlines are NSFW

Looks like everyone's favourite reactionary voice in the backwoods, Amipantin, is getting lonely, judging by this headline telexed in on the comments wire by Durf of, er, @Durf fame. That is, if we've read it correctly:

Ampatuan private army seeking help from MILF

Story lifted from here. Good luck, Bill, but please no pictures.

The Okinawa Question - Deep Pan or Spicy Italian?

OK, guess Our Man should write something about the US Marines in Okinawa and whether they should eat in or take out. This apparently is a major question of major significance to everyone in the world, so for your benefit, allow Our Man to get his teeth stuck into this kettle of fish and pull out a plum: Here's what you need to know:

1. Japan has been occupied since the war by US soldiers. There are about 36,000 still here (about the same number that will be going to Afghanistan to fight for peace).
2. Most of them are in Okinawa - a tropical island halfway between Japan proper and Taiwan that America only returned to Japan in the 70s.
3. When not raping or killing the locals, the US soldiers there are tolerated as they know pizza. Real good pizza. The kind of pizza that has you doing Robert De Niro impressions just thinking about all that cheese and pepperoni. Are you talking to me? Yeah, I'm talking to you.
4. Would you like to live next to a base full of foreigners armed to the teeth? Whose pizza joints are out-of-bounds?
5. The war (you know, the real significant one) is over. Has been for 65 years.
6. The Okinawans, despite having the highest unemployment rate in Japan, don't want the Yanks on their doorstep anymore - they kinda don't see the point (see no. 5).
7. So the Okis voted for the DPJ.
8. The DPJ is in power now.
9. The DPJ would like to keep the Yanks happy, but more than that, would like to keep the locals voting for them.
10. Folks in Japan are not particularly worried about imminent invasion, or even which puppet is in the hotseat in Kabul, Baghdad or Washington DC.

So, you know, take a chill pill America. Whether your 'copters are in Okinawa, Guam, Taiwan or Hawaii, what does it matter? But then, Our Man is a Brit and we went through all this base business 20 years ago (remember Cruise missiles and Greenham Common?) Somehow, Blighty is still there, mostly doing America's bidding even without staring down the barrel of a Smith and Wesson.

Japan would too, you know, given the chance.

Pic lifted from here.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Welcome to the Japan Times Jungle

Top marks to the sub-editors at the Japan Times for their Guns 'N' Roses headline on an Observer review of Palin's scribblings:

Palin's appetite for reduction
Simplistic wolrdview dominaes 'patriotic' flavor of ideologically incoherent memoir

Pic lifted from here.

Review of old film. Nothing about Japan

Hey folks, OMIA just retrieved the computer from Chick Flick Service, and this time it was a decent film - Revolutionary Road with Leonardo de Whatsit and Kate de Winslett making up big time for Titanic. Yep, they act, they are real and there ain't no Mickey Mouse Happy Ending. Then Our Man and Our Missus watched Jon Bon Jovi on YouTube and the evening got decidedly less cerebral. Hey, it's... my... life. Sometimes.

Bollocks to Christmas - the Facebook group and the Japanese way

'Tis the season to be cynical, and now there is a Facebook group especially for it. Yep, Ourmani has joined, and urges all his loyal disciples to join with him -

- you can join the, er, fun here, though they sadly are not against xmas as such, just shelling out loads on kack from ToysRus, Bah Humbug. Though Our Man notes with unreserved admiration the Japanese habit of giving their children just one present on Christmas Day and being done with it. All the xmas bunting is gone on Boxing Day and you are free to get on with getting hammered to welcome in the New Year.

Secret handshake to mqtod for the Facebook link.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Quelle suprise, au Japonaise, c'est une naff 80s TV series

Go East young man,
As far as you can,
Of course, you will end up in mysterious Japan.

While you may expect to catch
CNN and NHK news at 10,
I'll wager you never thought you'd turn on the box
and see repeats of Bergerac.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Merry Xmas from the Woods family

Secret handshake to a former Gomiuri drinker, er, writer.

Get ready for more hot air in COP(out)15

What's going on here?

Well, if Our Man only had a Peter Gabriel CD to listen to, he'd top himself too.

Expect more of these worthy guilt-inducing vids 'cos in three days it's the Copenhagen Hot Air Show. And expect plenty of the three Rs of doing your bit for the planet: Reduced commitment, Reused statistics and Recycled slogans.

If you really, really want to stop global warming, may Our Man humbly suggest another R that politicians (and possibly the rest of us too) shouldn't do - REPRODUCE.

Oh, hey, What does Our Man know? Go read Time or something.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Advice for the wealthy absent-minded

You'd think with all that cash, the Earl of Bridgestone could find a decent accountant, wouldn't you? I mean, that's what accountants do, isn't it - hide rich folks' cash from the tax man?

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

G'Day and G'Night

For all those expecting great things from Our Man tonight, stand easy. Our Man has been forced to take the rest of the night off as the Missus is commandeering the computer to watch Australia. Anyone know what it's about?

Michael and I

Michael Moore is over in Japan now to warn the good folks here of the evils of capitalism and how wonderful the jobs for life guarantee under the LDP was (remember them?)

Not wishing to nitpick, but aren't you here to, er, promote your capitalist movie product to the masses? And is it just Our Man, or does your growing waistline mean that your share of the cookie jar has been a little inequitable recently? For evidence, see here.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Japanese lesson: Longest five minutes of Our Man's life

Talk about known unknowns and unknown unknowns (as Our Man does most days), he's just recovered from the trauma of his Saturday Japanese lesson.

The regular sensei went off by bullet train to enjoy nature or something, so her relief teacher, a 65-year-old chap, let's call him B-sensei, was in sole charge. Close your eyes and picture the scene. Er, well open them, read this so you know what you are supposed to be picturing, then close your eyes:

A small hall at the local community centre full of 30 earnest foreigners of varying levels of Japanese proficiency (from the lost causes like Our Man, to the insufferably fluent) all nattering away in groups of three or four with their Japanese teachers.

Into this hubbub of conversations, B-sensei decides to start groaning "Uu-uu-uun" accompanied by three claps, followed by "Uu-uun" (with two claps).

Our Man tried his best to rearrange his features from a smirk, to, he hopes, more of a charitable smile to convey to his teacher I'm with you, boss! and simultaneously to his gaijin peers, I didn't touch him.

Uu-uu-uun. Uu-uun. Uu-uu-uun. Uu-uun.

The more Our Man tried not to piss himself laughing, the louder the groaning and clapping became.

Uu-uu-uun. Uu-uun. Uu-uu-uun. Uu-uun.

Then it dawned on Our Man, the deranged chap wants me to join in. So in the spirit of international understanding (and to shut him up) We two became one in our groans:

Uu-uu-uun. Uu-uun. Uu-uu-uun. Uu-uun. Uu-uu-uun. Uu-uun. Uu-uu-uun. Uu-uun.

The longest five minutes of Our Man's life were spent trying very hard not to wet himself, as his peers and betters watched with unbridled mirth.

You may open your eyes now.