Monday, 31 May 2010

Hatoyama and Fukushima: The mountains, but not the cuckoo clocks

Now, as Our Man is sure you are all aware, he doesn't like to think too much or too hard, or for long periods, especially not about Hatoyama and the Futenma thing, which when read in the same sentence are Our Man's secret keyword that activates his sleep-inducing neurons (Our Man takes his responsibilities as a sleeper agent very seriously).

But then, he only got talking about it all with Our Woman, who pays even less attention to J-politics than Our Man, sensible woman that she is, but she was moved to comment seeing a picture on her Yahoo! homepage (they still think Yahoo! is cool over here, go figure?) of what's-her-name getting the heave-ho.

Our Woman: Oooh, it makes me so mad!
Our Man: What does, dear?
Our Woman: This whole thing.
Our Man: Eh?
Our Woman: This is Japan, isn't it? Why do we need American soldiers here. Why do we have to pay for them too.
Our Man: Yeah.
Our Woman: No really, why? If we don't want them here why don't we tell them to go.
Our Man: Well they are here to protect us from China or North Korea or Afghanistan or something.
Our Woman: We could be like Switzerland. You know... they are, what's the word...
Our Man: Snooty?
Our Woman: Neutral.
Our Man: Well, Switzerland is different. There's nothing but mountains and they've got everyone's money so nobody wants to invade them.
Our Woman: We've got nothing but mountains and everyone's money. We haven't got any oil, don't see why anyone would want to come here.
Our Man: Errr, well it's complicated.
Our Woman: You mean you don't know.
Our Man: Yep.

So then Our Man did think about it for a bit. Now, he'll leave the earnest geo-political-Risk-for-PhD-students talk to the far smarter and earnester youngsters at Coming Anarchy, who could probably tell you the likelihood of a Chinese invasion in the year 2035, but these are the conclusions Our Man, er, concluded:

1. Actually, Hatoyama has done more for the cause of Kick the Yanks Out than anyone could have imagined.
2. Before Hatoyama jumped into the fray, Futenma was an editorial-page-only yawner of an issue. By promising so much, delivering so little and handing the spotlight to Earth Mother Mizuho, this is now the story in Japan.
3. Before, the issue was how to placate the Okinawans.
4. Then the issue became: Where is the best place to plonk the barbarians.
5. Now the issue is: Whose bloody country is this anyway?

Is that the debate Washington wanted?

BTW, young Joe Jones at Mutant Frog has an interesting after school project: Mapping US forces in Japan. Gosh, there's a whole-bunch of well-armed foreigners less than a day's march from Tokyo. Imagine that!

Pic lifted from here.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Harmony and the Abiko Air Corps of the Undead

It may be Abiko's finest (er, only - ed.) museum, but we're not talking the Natural History Museum in London. For one thing, it's pretty small. And for another, for a place built to celebrate one of the wonders of LIFE on Earth - rare birds unique to Japan (well, and China and Korea, but it's not the birds' fault they came here from there, they are still Ours Dammit) there sure are a lot of DEAD animals around the place. Cute penguin with sign round his neck? Dead. Fearless hawk? Dead. Family of goosey goosey ganders out for a wander?

Dead. Dead. Dead.

In fact, the whole third floor is devoted to dead birds, though they are none-too-cleverly dangled from the ceiling by wires and placed in oh-so-natural poses behind the glass coffins as if they hadn't been drugged, had their necks wrung, insides sucked out and carcases cemented into money-shot positions for all eternity (or until the city budget runs dry, whichever comes first).

And then there's the Chamber of Bird Horrors. Under the menacing gaze of a fibre-glass two-metre tall dinosaur-bird is Frankenstein's laboratory of bird parts and robotic bird-like limbs that light up and move exactly like a real bird's legs and wings don't.

But don't worry, the Abiko Air Corps of the Undead were willing participants, happy to have died in the service of their city and sempai species. We know this because of the motto of the museum, available in handy English rubber stamps for all kids (and bored bloggers doing all they can not to write about boring old Hatoyama and, yawn, Futenma):

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Kondo and the bluesman comedy enka routine takes shirt off Hatoyama's back

Now, Our Man realises that his headlines have been kinda sucking recently - like he's thrown some words up in the air and left 'em where they fell - you know, Japan Times style...

Shiite terrorist role model Miss USA 2010 pole dancer

...but hang in there, dear reader(s).

So there was Our Man Saturday night, pretty excited to get some live blues in his soul in the big bad downtown Tokyo 'hood of Meguro. And Our Man wasn't just seeing any old two-bit three-chord merchant, but Fusanosuke Kondo. Who? The guitarist here who also does a damn good job as a singer. The set started well with a good bluesified take on John Lennon's Jealous Guy. And yeah, OK, he did do some jazzy blues numbers, but then for every scorching riff and soulful wail there was an equal and opposite reaction. (Get to the point, fig Newton boy - ed.) Cool opener? Then there was the standard standard finale You are so Beautiful to Me... not forgetting the journeyman version of Stand by Me sung by his bongo drummer "and za moon is za onry right we see..."

So far, so so. And then...

Our Guitar Man buggered off and was replaced with a three-man comedy enka troupe, who had the rest of the audience in stitches, but had Our Man and his fellow undercover gaijin, how you say, er (nonplussed?) bored shitless. It was a lot like this, only without the pretty girl.

Anyway, it made Our Man realise pretty girls are very important, and also that the brilliantly talented Kondo had a problem with taste. He ain't got none. How can he sing like he does, play like he does, but decide it would be better to shake the maracas and hand over the mic to a bow-tie-wearing dweeb who couldn't sing? Or play the maracas.

But then in a moment of enlightenment (around the third bottle of Kirin lager), Our Man got it. It wasn't an evening of lounge-bar blues, but the blues song of Hatoyama and J-politics. Dr Crazy Hair Hatoyama too suffers from lack of taste, an inability to know what he should be doing and is bad at maracas. We, the punters, shell out our hopes, dreams and paper money expecting one thing, and we get a mishmash of other bollocks, that nobody expected.

Anyway, not wishing to leave you long-suffering readers with nothing after getting this far, here is Hatoyama's bad shirt, bad Miss USA pole dancing and the bad-ass busker Our Man saw for free at Abiko station on the way to Tokyo for the big city, big ticket blues.

Er, that's it. You can stop looking at the middle pic and put your maracas away now.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Crap. Left the headline till last and ran out of juice. Japanese politics?

So Our Man was heading back to the bunker with a litre of 7-11's second-cheapest milk and happened to notice his neighbours had been diligently putting up pictures of tie salesmen.

Now, Our Man's well aware that, traditionally, J-bloggers like to inform and stuff, and piss higher than everyone else on the I-know-which-bloody-colour-slippers-to-wear-in-the-J-bathroom wanker stakes. But, as regular readers (what the hell is wrong with you people?- ed.) will appreciate, Our Man hasn't the foggiest what's what. But here's what he figured out while sharpening his pencils (For extra marks, he has also shown how he worked out the answers):

1. There is an election on for the town council or something maybe in July? (Saw a comment on a blog post somewhere to that effect on Master Tobias's Rise and Fall of the Great Thesesesi.)
2. Two heads are better than one. Just look at Britain's Dual Monarchy (Dave, Dave, Dave with an extra Clegg, Clegg, Clegg).
3. You know, Our Man would NEVER vote for anyone with stained teeth. C'mon, we want white, not your magnolia/peach off-white of dentist wall fame, but Photoshop White.
4. Taken from a certain angle, in the rain, the true character of the pol becomes apparent:

Would you buy a used Prius from this man?

BTW, these folk are from New Komeito, who like to lay Buddhists or something.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Do you, editors, take this Japan robot press release to be your awful embedded lead?

Pardon Our Man's French, but What the fuck was that? Oh, it was only the AP lead story on the Drudge Report - AKA Let's Laugh at the Japs. But really, Japan, you do make it difficult for folk who like you to stick up for you at parties. Maybe it ain't so silly to replace the mumbo jumbo stick-waving skirt-wearing dude (Vicar? - ed.) with a robot, let's face it Japanese weddings are tedious, but come on.

Look at it!

Would you like to be married by Daihatsu Darlek, no matter how cute the garland on its head? OK, OK, marriage is a business and not a romance for the Japanese, so the experts (a bloke at Harvard who once came on a freebie conference to Tokyo back in '74) keep saying, but Our Man refuses to let his flesh and blood be married by a recycled coffee tin, much less one called I-Fairy.

Speaking of business, may Our Man get down to it now?

No-one (even in Japan) not on the I-Fairy payroll is going to fall for this blatant news-release-corporate-advertising-stereotype-confirming bollocks are they?

Well, no-one except for news sub-editors, obviously.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

What? It's not like he said "dick" or anything

And you thought probing journalism was dead? YOU THOUGHT WRONG!:

Lifted from here.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Drudge, Japan. Japan, Drudge

Hey this Yebisu Post has potential. Our Man knows nowt about it, other than there's a link to Our Man on the site, so clearly the YP has oodles of taste. A Drudge Report for Japan? And why not? When Our Man was a young whipper snapper of a blogger, he had delusions of doing the same thing (until he realised it was far too much like hard work, he knew sod all about Japan politics and even less about blogging - ed) but he safely retreated behind his wall of all-knowing cynicism. Hell, it's more fun playing for laughs anyway.

One day, Our Man will have figured out how to do this thing right, but until then, he'd best link to others who seem to have attained the wisdom.

Let's hope the Yebisu keeps flowing.

Pic lifted from here.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Abiko Typing School for Freeloaders

Our Man has got absolutely nothing to add about anything at all. But, he's just cobbled together a half-decent page for his novel, so he's feeling magnaminous, er magnamaneous, er, pretty good, and wishes to share with you long-suffering freeloaders who keep coming back to Our Man's personal typing school his latest touch-typing practice exercises:

1. Hatoyama has only got one Hatoyama has only got one Hatayama has only got one Hatoyama has only got one.
2. The Clegg Brown Cameron gathers no support. The Clegg Brown Cameron gathers no support.
3. MEP MEP EU EU OH NO EU EU OH NO WHO moved my cheese mountain?
4. nasdaq; nasdaq; enron; enron; Portugal; Italy; Greece; Spain; UK; USA; $¥¥¥=0

Monday, 10 May 2010

Satirists, never lose your faith!

Yes, yes, Our Man knows this here is a couple of weeks old, has nothing to do with incompetent Prime Ministers, Japanese, British or otherwise, and that he really should be getting on with other stuff, but, dammit it's hilarious. Especially the cactus picture.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Futenma: Hatoyama Makes a Decision. Kinda, kinda not

Well, Our Man has been waiting for the usual suspects to tell him what to think on the whole Hatoyama dithering for the nation thing, but Mr Top Cat hasn't posted for a fortnight, Master Tobias hasn't finished his Latin homework and Uncle Jun hasn't got over getting mentioned in a real publication, so it's up to Our Man to make some sense from the loose narrative threads of the pop-up book Hatoyama Makes a Decision.

(Readers in a hurry or with a low threshold for twaddle may prefer to skip this paragraph - ed) Which is a shame, because Our Man would much rather get on with his novel. In fact, Our Man has a new-found respect for proper storytellers. You know, fiction's not as easy as it looks. In blogging (and proper journalism if you know how to type 'allegedly'), if you think someone is a dithering old fool full of shit, you just have to say "I think someone is (allegedly) a dithering old fool full of shit." But in fiction, YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO SAY WHAT YOU THINK, you have to SHOW that someone is a dithering old fool full of shit. That's called narrative, children.

Anyway, fortunately for Our Man, Hatoyama is both showing and telling us he is a dithering old fool full of shit. Yes, we're talking Futenma and relocating the Marines and stuff. Here's the story so far, in prime numbers for all you statistics fans:

1. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama (aka The Earl of Bridgestone) came to power in a Blaze of Glory, but unlike the Bon Jovi song of the same name, he was kinda anti-American in you know trashtalking globalisation and Yankee Imperialism and such.
3. Then he suggested the Done Deal on a brand new Marine base on the back of a giant turtle in the Bay of Futenma was not a done deal and the Yanks could jolly well naff off to Guam.
5. The Yanks said "Er, run that by us again."
7. Then Hatoyama tried moving the base to just about everywhere else in Japan.
11. Everywhere else said, "Oh, honoured leader of this humble nation, go fuck yourself"
13. So Hatoyama did and said, "OK, we'll go back to the LDP plan, sorry for wasting everyone's time."

Too right mate, only now instead of just wasting everyone's time by getting everyone obsessing over where to stick a bunch of high school dropouts, you've pissed off every voter in Okinawa, every voter who thought you represented change in the rest of the country, every voter who thought you didn't, every diplomat who has to explain to the boss what's going on with Japan and everybody else who is sick of watching a ditherer at work and have to read more dull articles about The Futenma Question.

Does Our Man have to tell you how to do everything? OK, here's how you should have answered the FQ:
1. Move the damn base to anywhere in Japan where they vote LDP anyway.
2. That's it.

This time, you can crib from Our Man, but next time you're on your own.