Saturday, 26 May 2012

OUR MAN AND THE MAN OF THE CLOTH


Our Man had a rather good time interviewing a fake Christian priest the other day. He is quite the real deal and is even writing a book about his experiences, who knows maybe as an Abiko Free Press original. See Our Man's interview with him here - LIFTING THE VEIL ON THE JAPANESE WEDDING BIZ. Click now, or forever hold your peace.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

JAPAN'S ANNULAR ECLIPSE- THE TRUTH*



Our Man has no idea why you pop by here, it surely isn't for the latest videos (Our Man's old enough to remember when this one wasn't being spoofed. Back in the day this was pretty cutting edge by UK standards. We pasty Brits even talked ourselves into believing we could give the tanned Yanks a run for their money on the creative stakes, the deluded fools that we were... remember ZX Spectrums? The Sinclair C5? Buggles? Exactly.) but he is glad you do pop by here. Because Our Man has some literally earth shaking news. Actually, not literally. Or even metaphorically. Or even news, exactly, since it is at least a couple of days old.

Our Man didn't want to rain on anyone's parade the other day, but he was a bit underwhelmed by the Ring of Fire Anal Eclipse (think you mean annular - Ed.) This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity had Our Man standing outside his bunker peering up at the skies waiting for it to get all dark and King Arthur to release his Connecticut Yankee.

The problem is this: Every picture you see of eclipses in papers and on the internet looks something like this (unless it's taken by the Japan Times in which case the eclipse has to be be partially eclipsed by the Tokyo Sky Tree too):



But here's a dirty little secret that Our Man noticed even folk who actually saw it with their very own eyes didn't let you in on. Ready? Bookmark where you got to in Chrysanthemum and Sword and pay attention... ready? It doesn't look like that at all unless you want it to. This is how the eclipse looks to the naked eye (and iPhone):



And pretty much that is how it looked to Our Man. He stood for a few seconds and between his fingers he actually saw a sort of lumpy thing moving across the sun, before he could look no more. Yeah, it was bright, dazzling even. NOT AT ALL "DAY TURNED TO NIGHT". Yeah, it was a bit darker than it normally is on a sunny day at 7:30 a.m., but only a bit. Sort of like it does when it's just beginning to get around to being dusk. But not dark. Nothing like the pictures that you see beamed around the world that say "Look, we're so cool we had a once in a lifetime experience when day turned to night! (and you didn't)"

If you feel bad that you missed the Big Annular One (Anal One? - ed.), don't. There will be another one in 80 years in Hokkaido. Or you could just wait a couple of hours and day will turn into night.

Literally.

*The truth of course is Our Man should just buy a blinking proper camera or iphone app that has all the filters, give you folks what you want and stop whinging. But where's the fun in that?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

UPWARDLY MOBILE WITH OUR MAN


Our Man finally got round to updating his Linked-In profile. It now contains no out and out lies, although claiming a skill in Public Relations may be pushing it just a bit.*

Why bother? Why indeed. Our Man is too old and unsuccessful to be a Yuppie, and he has no intention of looking for another job, but he notices folk keep wanting to friend him (presumably it's called something more thrusting on Linked-In, maybe "acquaintancing" or some such). But you never know if his publishing lark takes off and then serious, non-Twitter people, who say things like "win-win situation"** might want to, er, win-win with him.

Anyway, it's not Our Man's place to tell folk how to contact him, but if Linked-In is your thing, Our Man is RIGHT THERE ON LINKED-IN. Do stop by and, er, compare business models?

* Also, GACOPS - the Greater Abiko Co-Prosperity Sphere is not strictly speaking a professional association, more a state of mind.
** Our Man once said "win-win situation" in an interview about QUAKEBOOK and had the piss mercilessly, and deservedly, taken out of him by his fellow Quakebookers.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND FORMALDEHYDE


Live in Japan long enough and you become immune to the cacophony of loudspeakers.
If it's not the old fellow hawking tofu around the neighbourhood, a woman screaming at the disenfranchised Our Man to vote Ta-ka-hashi vote Ta-ka-hashi, then it's a warning to look out for one of several dozen senile elderly who escape their handlers every other day, but invariably find their way back the old folks' home, coincidentally right next door to City Hall, in time for tea.
So it was that Our Man thought nothing of the loudspeaker van cutting through the hinterlands around his bunker at lunchtime Saturday repeating a brief, urgent announcement not to drink the water. For health reasons, don't drink the water. In fact, they were cutting the water supply to all homes in the area from 1:30 p.m.
It was 12:15 p.m.
They hadn't said anything about not using the water for cooking. Which Our Man decided to take as tacit approval since he'd just that moment finished cooking a pot of pasta for lunch. It would have been possible to find something else to eat for health reasons -- the five-teaspoon dose of pesto had yet to be administered after all -- but, really who cared? Like all the other garbled warnings from passing vans, they never had anything to do with Our Man.
But Our Woman wasn't so sure. After a phone call and extensive research, she had an explanation.
"It's got a really long, complicated name. It's the same stuff they put in little packets in our food to keep it from going off. But it gives you cancer."
"Perhaps they shouldn't put it in our food."
"They didn't. They put it in the Tonegawa."
The Tonegawa is Japan's longest river. It forms the northern boundary of Abiko. And apparently we drink its water. Or rather, we did until today.
"Who put it in the river?"
"I don't know."
"Somebody must."
"I don't."
"Is it safe to brush our teeth? To have a bath? To wash clothes?"
"I don't know."
"How long will they shut the water off?"
"They don't know."

Of course Our Man had been here before. We all had, all of us who were around on March 11th, 2011, when the big one hit, the shelves ran empty and the lights went out all over 7-Eleven. Our Woman knew exactly what to do.
She had already rustled up two four-litre water camping canteens and was busy filling the bath before Our Man had tasted his bowl of noodles. Our Man did have time to wonder at the point of all the excess water storage capacity. If the damn stuff was too toxic to drink, maybe we shouldn't be bathing the kids in it either. Could you wash the car with it? That would probably be OK.
Our Woman read Our Man's mind. "You can use it to flush the toilet. But we'll need water from the shops to drink."
"I'll put my shoes on."
He was out the house before you could Google translate "formaldehyde."
When he returned 15 minutes later, every vaguely three-dimensional object in the house was full of the potentially deadly, but flushable water.


They didn't have any drinkable water left in the shops, but Our Man did make it back with a case of green tea, a six-pack of beer and a bottle of red wine. Well, Our Man wasn't going to die of formaldehyde poisoning. Or green tea poisoning. Not today anyway, the all clear was sounded at 9:30 p.m.


Thursday, 17 May 2012

OUR MAN'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FOR SELF-PUBLISHERS

Our Man got to thinking about self-publishing and came to the probably erroneous conclusion that despite all the talk of revolution in the publishing world, nobody had written a declaration, a rallying cry for self-publishers (Give me ebooks or give me death? - Ed.). Until now. This (CLICK HERE) is Our Man's attempt.

Yes, yes, the scribble by Our Man of the iconic pic isn't from the War of Independence (which one? - Ed.) but it was on Japanese soil, and er, it sort of is about freedom? Sacrifice? Working together on an ebook? Oh look over there, gay weddings at Tokyo Disneyland or something.

Monday, 14 May 2012

IT'S A NORK WORLD AFTER ALL


Our Man made it back in one ideological piece (as can be seen from his twitter feed) from the obligatory trip behind enemy lines of Tokyo Disneyland. It seems like only yesterday he had infiltrated the Magic Kingdom, IN FACT IT WAS  THREE YEARS AGO. This time, however, he took his notebook and he shall be fully baking his thoughts at a future date when he's got his novel finished.

Yes, it's a dream, but he's sure Dear Leader Walt would approve. Or probably not.


Monday, 7 May 2012

EMPEROR'S NEW INVISIBLE PLANES



Pity the student Our Man. He ain't so hot at mathematics, but he's passable at history. See, he remembers WAY BACK IN DECEMBER that Japan was going to buy 42 F-35 invisible planes from their Operation Tomodachi pals for ¥420 billion, give or take a couple of billion. Seems now the price tag has gone up to ¥802 billion ($10 billion) according to the US Defense Department, AS REPORTED by Kyodo in the Japan Times on Saturday. Gee, you'd think nearly doubling the price would raise a few red flags, if not white ones.

But as Our Man says, he's not so good with numbers. Sure, 42 is the meaning of life, according to Douglas Adams, but according to Our Man, that's not a lot of invisible planes. Let's see, a third of these will be in the shop getting new oil filters and printer cartridges at any one time, which leaves 28 to defend the nation. Presumably they will be operating a shift system to cover the 24 hours, so that would be nine planes in each eight hour shift. Probably less during Golden Week.

Given these austere times, Our Man could probably sell a couple of invisible planes for a lot less, if anyone asked him.

Pic lifted from here.

Friday, 4 May 2012

ABIKO'S FINEST: TOKYO IN THE UNDERBRUSH


Time to raise your glasses, the Abiko Free Press has a new book out... FROM RIGHT HERE.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

MEDIA, YOU DESERVED THIS

The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media
Just got round to reviewing Brooke Gladstone's rather good comic book The Influencing Machine, all about the media, and how we get what we deserve (even Rupert Murdoch, fancy that!) Worth a read if you are the type of person who still buys print books. Our Man's review is HERE ON GOODREADS. (Capital letters mean click here, not that Our Man is shouting. Although, coincidentally, he was shouting at that moment when he typed those words, though by the end of this long, pointless sentence other than to fill space so that the thumbnail picture of the book has some text flowing around it, he has calmed down and is no longer shouting.)