Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Wikileaks: The view from below

Steve Bell cartoon lifted from The Guardian.

Wikileaks: Abiko off the hook

The mayor of Abiko can rest easy tonight. Our Man has downloaded the wikileaks document and he can say this: Apart from a cable about Taro Aso reporting that the Chinese President was feeling "tired" and that a couple of Brit journos in China were being harassed by some goons, there was little of interest to Our Man.

But he'll have another crack at it tomorrow. There were only 220 of nearly 250,000 documents released. And there should be in the order of 6,000 cables (secret messages) coming from the US Embassy in Japan to sift through.

But don't worry, I'm sure the Japanese press will do a better job than Our Man. Oh yes.

Carry on.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Sorry, was that history being made and Japan not reporting it? Nahhh. Couldn't be

I wonder, dear consumers of Japanese media, was this bit of history being made (uncovered by an Our Man field agent) reported anyplace? The smart money says not.

But, money talks. And this seems to be what's driving the Japanese Government to finally start saying sorry for the war, and really mean it.

Wouldn't it be nice if that was reported here, in Japan?

As you were.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Urgent Breaking News of the Korean Kind

Duh de Duh de Duhh DUHH DUHH DUHH

Here is the breaking news from Our Man's Backyard Bunker (in highly apt bullet points):

  • The Sorks and the Yanks were busy playing soldiers and the Norks wanted to play too.
  • The Sorks said naff off.
  • The Norks started lobbing stuff at the Sorks.
  • The Sorks are on high alert, ready to retaliate and knock out some Nork missile bases.
  • The Yanks have been scrambling jets all day, according to Our Man's Twitter sources living near US military bases here. (If you live anywhere in Japan, you live near US military bases).
  • The Japanese PM was woken from his afternoon nap (sort of, if you see TV footage of him addressing the nation, think he was still asleep).
  • Japan will set up a committee to look into what to do.
Our Man has no dog in this fight, but guess we should cheer for the Norks, cos, well they are the underdogs aren't they? And they'd be no match for a Japanese committee. (Oooh, can just see the headline in tomorrow's Japan Times: "War immanent; PM mulls plan to set ad hoc panel over spat."

For some historical perspective, go here, from Our Man's Field Agent who is (a couple of clicks?) closer to the DMZ.

Anyway, it's put Our Man in the mood to read his copy of Hidden Moon, an Inspector O whodunit set in North Korea. And then write loads of his novel. And not drink any wine.

You complete me

You know what day it is today? Oh, come now, you can't have forgotten. Well, OK, Our Man did forget, but he hastily put this post together to celebrate this blog's Second Birthday.

Don't time fly when Our Man's having fun?

Now, Our Man is well aware he's been neglecting this blog, ever since the new baby - his novel - came along, not forgetting that pesky twitter, but the blog, clunky and lacking in content as it is, is still what he likes to think of as home.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Naoto Kan: Is that a microphone or are you just happy to see me?

There was Our Man disrespectin' the Japanese PM, Naoto Kan, saying he was ineffectual and no-one was listening to him (translation: Our Man wasn't listening to him) yadda, yadda, yadda, when blow him down (Our Man, not Naoto) he only went and started his own blog (Naoto, not Our Man).

Anyway, here it is:

(presumably a pun on Kan and Awful and, er, full. And Blog. and The.)

Er, enjoy.

Secret handshake to GaijinPot and Asiajin which has details about what on earth Kan-Full means.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Letter from Abiko

So, what else is going on in Japan apart from Our Man drinking low quality plonk and writing his high quality novel?

Let's see:

A. An English language chain school (Shane) has been taken over by a Japanese cram school. Why should you care? Because it was the only big one flashing the Union Jack in Abiko. With that bunting gone, how will Our Man celebrate Bill n Kath getting hitched?

B. The pols keep trying to do stuff but nobody is listening. Kan (the PM) is as ineffectual as the rest, so we might as well await the impending nationalist insurrection to offer us some gumption.

C. Our Man is the proud owner if the coolest T-shirt in Abiko that just arrived in a care package from the States.

D. That is all

Bordeaux circa 711

What a cheeky, presumptuous tart thou art, as Shakespeare may well have said.

Yes, it's time for winos of the world again, email edition. Anyway, as you can prolly tell, Zour Man is a little the worse for wear and tear. Now, he was well fooled that this would beva quality wine cos it had that telltale red wrap around the neck deal, but when our man unwound it, blow him if it wasn't a blinking screw top. Man, lucky it ws only ¥700, if Out Man's memory serves.

Bottoms up!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Half life

Our Man had something of an epiphany today at Tokyo Disneyland.

Now, he could go on about what a fascist nightmare of a parody of capitalism the place is, and in fact he has, both here on this blog last year or so and up there on his twitter feed today. So he won't labour the point. Again. Much.

But, anyway, maybe because of the horror of being stuck there FOR 10 HOURS and forced to assume an air of joviality for the benefit of the kids, his mind wandered Winston-Smith-like to a private world where Our Man could call the shots, reorder reality and make his very own Magic Kingdom come true (and inflict it on others in due course).

His novel.

Up till today, Our Man had got a nifty set of characters all doing their thing, a half-decent plot, a premise he's been eagerly proving everyday, baby. He'd even got a subplot and some comments to stick on the cover from celebs who innocently showed their arse to Our Man on Twitter, unaware of their import.


He wasn't sure how he could smooth all the rough edges and fill in the plot potholes. UNTIL TODAY.

Today, he knows how it's gonna end, how all the important loose ends are gonna get tied. In short, whodunit.

So, in the interests of writing something worth reading, it's time to start loosening up to air a few ideas to you brave few. Here's what Our Man can say for sure:

1. The protagonist is Hana, a 19-year-old hafu (English dad, Japanese mum) with the worldly-wise cynicism of her absent dad, but trepidations of her do-the-right-thing mum.

2. It's written in the first person, which is quite a stretch for Our Man, being the third person that he is. And a bloke. And many summers past 19. But, frankly, if first person's good enough for Holden Caulfield, it's good enough for Ourmani.

3. The premise is lying to yourself ends in death; or, the best way to fit in is to not fit in.

4. It's set in Abiko, mostly.

5. The kickoff (sorry, don't know the literary term) is an American dad searching for his abducted daughter.

6. Think of the novel (if you do at all, freakozoid) as a roadtrip through Japan. Well, suburban Japan. Beginning with an "A".

7. Minor characters include a local yakuza boss, his ageing henchman, a wet-behind-the-ears apprentice, juxtaposed with Our Heroine and her sidekick a Shinto priest. Oh, and the mysterious missing kid with her own twitter feed.

8. There's also a tramp kappa-like shadow shogun who breeds hamsters by the swamp. And a ditzy CNN reporter babe. And need to flesh out a cop figure.

9. Can't think of a ninth point. Other than to say it ain't gonna be high art, but Our Man reckons it's a bit profound. So that means others will think it's a comedy. Ok.

10. It's gonna be called "Half Life."

There it is, as it stands.

Thanks, Walt. Fascist.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Our Man: 'Like Nirvana before MTV'

"Like the way you felt about Nirvana until MTV got their hands on them... that's how I feel about Our Man and his work."

Our Man had hoped for fame and fortune by now, but he'll happily take whatever he can get from his blogging jolly; and blow him if being compared to a pre-sellout Nirvana by the mighty Loco wasn't pretty nifty for this blog powered as it is by nothing more than hot air, an elastic band and standard issue handkerchief (knotted).

Cheers Loco, now get back to your novel. Abiko expects.

PS: Our Man is happy to sell out. But he won't do a full frontal in any fishy vids leaked to YouTube in the public interest. (Unless you think that would make him more popular, Director Sir.)

See the full, gushing and completely unselloutable review here.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Black, white and dead all over (Geddittt????)

Our Man wasn't going to write about the whole newspaper extinction thing that hit the blogs and twitter a week ago, because, well, it seemed so obvious that newspapers were heading for the wastepaper basket and that anyone in their right mind could see that. Then he realised that the only people unaware of this were, er, how to put this kindly, those fuckwits who will be most affected by this - the poor deluded folk still working in newspapers. For a reasoned critique of the extinction theory see here (written by people still working in newspapers, so you know they know what they are talking about and will be completely unbiased). For Our Man's take from his backyard bunker, please continue, brave reader, but beware bullets and the bleedingly obvious.
  • If you, as a journo, spend your whole time checking stories on the internet, using the internet to set up meetings, to research stories, to archive stories on the internet, er, why do you think there is a future for you or your newspaper off the internet? Anyone can do what you do at home, for free, if they could be bothered.
  • If you have to do double shifts because there aren't enough folk to cover the rota when someone takes a holiday (Our Man is looking at you, Japan Times) is that the sign of viable business?
  • If you have no choice but to accept a 9.75% pay cut (howya doing Daily Yomiuri?) time to think about jumping ship. To something with a future. Like nail salons, maybe. Look, everyone's got nails, right? You can't digitize that, right?
  • If you can't even give your product away for free, you've got problems.
  • When the whole What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor thing erupted and the Japanese government (let's just say for instance, OK?) leaked the video of the drunk Chinese skipper ramming the Japanese coast guard boat - it wasn't leaked to one of their friendly kisha-club plants in the press or TV stations. Nope, it was leaked directly to YouTube.
  • If you want the single best news source on Japan (or Hobnob biscuits for that matter) go to Twitter. Start following folk who tweet about Japan (and/or Hobnobs) and very quickly you'll set up your very own wire service that works better and faster than any single newspaper. Because it's done by folk interested in the news, but who don't care where they get it from. In a good way. If you see what Our Man means. If you do, please tell him, he'd like to know too.

By the way, Our Man likes newspapers. They are cool things to have around the house. They make great paper hats and cockroach swatters. But they are going the way of the codpiece. Face it fellow journos, and move on.

But don't worry, the way things are going it won't just be newspapers extinct by 2040, but biodiversity, oil, the ozone layer, snow you name it.

Never mind, just watch another time lapse of Tokyo at night with funky music and repeat:


By the way, when Our Man was an assistant chief sub-editor (that really was his title by the way. So much nicer than fuckwit in the middle with no power and all the responsibility) we used to tell ourselves newspapers would always be around because what else lightweight could you take to the toilet with you to read? That was before smart phones and Kindles, mind.