Friday, 30 December 2011

Back In The Day

The New Year's party season is almost upon us. Unless you live in Japan in which case the New Year's cleaning, eating cold food, and humouring aged relatives season is upon us. Anyhow, it seems an appropriate time to talk about why, while I still drink, I very, very rarely actually get drunk any more.

That sounds fairly dramatic, doesn't it? Don't get your hopes up, it involves very little in the way of humiliation or bodily fluid. At least on my part.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

I, Partridge

We Need To Talk About Alan
Alan Partridge (with Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Rob Gibbons, and Neil Gibbons), 2011
(December 2011)

I didn't read this, but listened to it as an audiobook. Despite hearing good things about them from a fair few people, I'd never really gone for them before, but couldn't pass up the chance to hear it read by the man himself. I listened to it on my commute, so my fellow passengers had to put up with me giggling like a twat every day for a week.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas is over (if you want it)

Easter is the most important festival in the christian calander, but christmas comes a pretty close second. Anyone who’s had an even nominally christian upbringing will recognize the significance of gathering together to celebrate - if not the birth of christ - then at least the communal warmth of friends and family in the middle of a long, cold winter.

Not that that’s what christmas is all about these days, of course. These days it’s a graphically indulgent gang-bang of venal (and possibly venereal) grasping and wanton consumerism. I say ‘these days’ but I suspect it was ever thus. You need, at the very least, an appreciation of the irony of it all to shepherd your psyche through the bruising month(s) long assault of branding, annoyance, and false cheer which comprises the ‘holiday period’. Can you imagine experiencing christmas in a country which lacks not only religion, but worse, any sense of irony?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Monday, 19 December 2011

Epistemologically Unsound Conclusions Concerning Japan and the Japanese, Based on Japanese Television

Number five in a series of some.

“Japan is a deeply christian country.”

How else do you explain all that praying? Look at this. And this. Also this. Sure, a few of the early Japanese christians may have been crucified, beheaded, and burned alive, but what religion hasn’t experienced a little youthful exuberance in its formative years?

Japan has to rank as one of the most pious and devout countries in the world, forever and ever, amen.

Friday, 16 December 2011

7 Deadly Virtues – Part the Second

Previously, on This is How She Fight Start...


In last month’s exciting episode I said I’d explain myself on issues of equitable treatment. But this is a work in progress, and the vague framework I had mapped out is breaking down already. Yay me. So this time I won’t be talking about equality. No. This time I’ll be talking about Doraemon.

Try to contain your disappointment

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Last Werewolf

(November 2011)

I’ve talked about horror before. Though that post was basically just a massively long and self-indulgent set-up for a punchline having a pop at a bunch of teenage girls. Still, the sentiments were true enough, in that as a genre I can take horror or leave it. But I’d not really describe this as horror, more like a contemporary James Bond with fangs.

Friday, 9 December 2011


One of the unexpected benefits of living in Japan is the lack of annoying ambient noise. That might sound slightly strange if you’ve been here a while. Certain towns do love their pointless communal loudspeakers, and noise pollution is pretty endemic.

It’s more personal than that though, because my Japanese is still at a level where I have to concentrate to make it work. I have to consciously ‘turn it on’, and if I don’t then it’s possible to float around in an innocent, prelapsarian state of incomprehension. There is a lot of noise, but it’s devoid of all meaning. Given that I’ve now reached an age where shouting at the TV news is a legitimate hobby, sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

I remember going back to the UK and getting picked up at the airport. Having listened to the ads on the car radio for all of three minutes, if you’d offered to cut off my bollocks so I could use them as earplugs I’d have given your proposition serious consideration.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Not funny pictures of cats, but the original coinage’s meaning. Ideas which propagate themselves across time, almost independently of their media of propagation (language, art, thought). It’s one of those comforting ‘we’re not so different after all’ realizations that certain stories, certain characters are universal to all societies, regardless of time, space, culture or race.

There are all the obvious, big, important myths, such as Creation (Kamiyonanayo, Gaia) and Destruction (Revelation, Ragnarok). Character archetypes are also universal, from the Trickster (Anansi, Coyote) to the Sage (Merlin, Mr Miyagi).

Wax on, Wax off

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Importance of Context

I know I’ve harped on about this before, but it really is so essential. The prior experiences you bring to any situation inevitably colour your understanding. And as I’ve also said before, that’s good and necessary. That’s sometimes called learning, and it would be nice if more people did it. It would also be nice if more people realized the limitations of their understanding; that their prior experiences aren’t necessarily shared by other people. Take, for example, this oft-quoted trope I regularly hear from otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people –

“Japan is a small country.”

No. No it fucking isn’t.