Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Transmetropolitan Vol. 1 and 2

Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson, 1997
(November 2011)

Comics (and let’s be unapologetic and actually call them that, none of your ‘graphic novel’ guff here please, because then you’re no better than the people who bought the Harry Potter novels with the moody grown-up covers in a cravenly transparent attempt to look like they weren’t reading a children’s book. ‘High’ and ‘low’ culture are such false opposites anyway, and can only exist if you actually feel embarrassed enough by your tastes to fork out an extra couple of quid simply for a cover with fewer cartoon owls on it. For fuck’s sake man up and like what you like) are something I’ve only recently got back into.

Monday, 28 November 2011

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

Number four in a series of some.

“Japanese beer is the infection vector for an ongoing alien invasion.”

You should turn off the sound for this, and don't watch each clip for more than a few seconds, either. I won't be held responsible for any further spread of the contagion. Besides, you’d have thought we’d all know what to look for by now. It’s not like they’re even trying to hide it. Look at this. And this. Also this. Notice how they often (but not always) cut away to wide shots briefly after the initial infection, in an effort to hide the full horror. The male host organisms are able to continue acting in a vaguely human fashion, but the poor female immediately starts to receive orders direct from the mothership.

While I for one welcome our new alien overlords, I do have one small plea to make. It’s all very well making examples of your successful conversions, but please try to avoid showing us the less successful attempts. The looks of pain and fear as they realise what has just happened to them is almost to much to bear.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Virtual Light

(November 2011)

‘They shouldn’t oughta said that. About Godzilla, I mean.’
Yamazaki found himself blinking up at the earnest face of the girl behind the counter.
‘I’m sorry?’
‘They shouldn’t oughta said that. About Godzilla. They shouldn’t oughta laughed. We had our earthquakes here, you didn’t laugh at us.’

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Google Image Search is a Joy

But I'm sure you knew that already.

I know my writing can be a bit wordy, so it's nice to break it up with some pictures and pretty shapes and colours. Recently I was doing that and stumbled upon the oeuvre of Jade K Scott. There's been a bit of hand-wringing about people using Kindles and the like for reading smut, instead of the relentlessly improving works they might otherwise be grinding through if people could actually see the covers. I, however, can only applaud Ms Scott and her ilk for identifying a potential market and pursuing it with such verve and consistency. It would be beneath me to suggest that she's just a pseudonym for a bunch of cut n' paste merchants and/or monkeys with typewriters.

I now present a selection of titles from the first two pages of a Google Image search for "jade k scott", for the elucidation of those of you who remain unhappily ignorant of the canon.

Monday, 21 November 2011

7 Deadly Virtues – Part the First

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


Prejudice has got an unfair reputation. It’s not always a bad thing. In fact it’s often useful, and even necessary. We all make initial assumptions about people based on any number of things, including sex, age, dress, accent and race. No matter how fair-minded you think you might be, this stuff all gets accounted for at the unconscious level. I’m male, young(ish. Stop sniggering at the back there), wear a suit to work, speak with a fairly regionless middle-class English accent, and I’m white.

Got a good mental picture there? You realize that it’s almost certainly wrong, of course, but you just can’t help it. There I am, sitting in your head (clean up in here, will you? It’s filthy), half-formed and you’re already coming to opinions about what kind of person I am. Judging me, even though your mother told you not to.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Blood Meridian

Some people apparently keep a notebook of every book they read. This seems a little OCDish to me, but I have several tendencies in that direction anyway so let’s go for it. For the next year, or however long, here are all the books I’ve read/will read. Plus you get the added benefit of my pearls of wisdom. These won't be reviews as such, just stuff I noticed or thought about while reading.

So it's probably best not to expect any searing insights. I did A-Level English Lit., and my understanding really hasn’t progressed all that much since. I have fairly obvious pretensions in that direction (really, just read anything else I’ve written here and you’ll get that), but I often get the feeling that I’m missing a whole lot of stuff as well.

Plus having a kid really cuts into the time you can spare for, well, anything. So this little exercise will hopefully provide a bit of an incentive for me to read more and think more, instead of just wasting time on the Chive. Prepare yourself to be astounded at the depth of my ignorance.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Please Put a Penny in the Old Man's Hat

Because I'm skint. Have you any idea how expensive making a christmas cake is over here? I could feed it with unicorn tears for the next six weeks then ice it with crushed dilithium crystals, and both would be amongst the cheaper and more easily obtainable ingredients.

And of course, shortly after writing that little screed, I see this, which both puts things in perspective and makes me feel like a right arsehole. Go. Donate. Do the right thing.

Monday, 14 November 2011


Call me cynical. Go on, I won’t mind. I’d prefer ‘sceptical’ but it’s all good. Regardless, when I saw a segment on the news the other day it did prompt a couple of less than generous thoughts. The first is that Japanese curry is pretty special, and not the good special either. I'm no foodie purist, insisting that my food must at all times be ‘authentic’; that it ‘just tastes so much better when you’re actually there.’ I love Thai food, but some of the most disappointing I've ever eaten was in Bangkok.

In fact this assumption that “authentic=good and inauthentic=bad” extends across all spheres, and is frequently wrong. There’s a real question as to whether pizzas are better in Italy or America, and I’d happily put Baltis up against almost anything India has to offer. And that’s before we’ve even gotten on to Chicken Tikka Masala.

Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum

Friday, 11 November 2011

Jumping on my Tu-Tu

I was trying to prepare for a debate lesson the other week. Teaching debates in English class is very popular over here. And like lots of things which are very popular over here it’s a nice idea on paper, but awful in practice.

I love debate, argument. I’m such an ivory-tower idealist that I still cling hopefully to the concept of public discussion as meaningful way of approaching a mutually acceptable truth, as opposed to the diametrically-opposed cock-waving sessions it appears to have devolved to. So I adore the idea of teaching it, and of students learning it.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

I Want a Second Opinion

"According to an education ministry report last year, 8,627 public school teachers took a leave of absence for health reasons in fiscal 2009. Of these, 5,458, or 63.3 percent, did so due to psychological problems.
The number of teachers taking temporary leave for mental health reasons has been steadily rising since fiscal 2000, the report said. While 0.24 percent of public school teachers took a leave of absence in fiscal 2000, the percentage rose to 0.60 in fiscal 2009, it said.
The education ministry official cited so-called monster parents, who make unreasonable demands, and an increasingly digitized society as some of the reasons behind teachers' increasing stress."

Monday, 7 November 2011

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

Number three in a series of some.

“Japanese people are Endopterygota.”

Which is to say that young Japanese 'women' are no such thing. They are in fact just the larval phase of the organism, and will eventually metamorphose into their adult stage, more commonly known as 'old Japanese men'.

I know it seems preposterous. “You idiot,” you cry, “They’re different sexes, not different stages of the same creature’s lifecycle!”

Well, I put it to you that it is you, Sir/Madam, who is the idiot in this discussion. Look at this. And this. Also this. In each case we see the typical example of an older male presenter (often with suspiciously dark hair) paired with a much (much, much) younger female. It is never the other way around.

Friday, 4 November 2011

7 Deadly Virtues – General Prologue

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a westerner in Japan in possession of half a brain will not be in want of an opinion on race. This is a good thing – race, ethnicity, and national identity are all big, important issues and need to be thought about. Of course in an ideal world they wouldn’t be issues at all, but to ignore it is to bury your head in the sand like the stereotypical bleeding-heart liberal, insisting that ‘we’re all one race - the human race,’ and incidentally that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

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

Number two in a series of some.

“Japan's national psychosis of choice is Puer Aeternus.”

Or Peter Pan Syndrome to you and me. Look at this. And this. Also this. The first involves celebrities answering 'pressure study' questions while dressed as schoolchildren. In the second they actually spend an entire day doing actual exams in an actual (well, fake) classroom while dressed as schoolchildren. In the last they are trying to judge the prices of high-end restaurant food. While dressed as schoolchildren. Because, you know, that whole schoolchild - haute cuisine connection there.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

This Ain't No Technological Breakdown

"Making use of an electronic blackboard, the teacher made expansive gestures to encourage the children to imitate the authentic pronunciation produced by the board."

The authentic pronunciation produced by the board.

Frankly it's too beautiful to sully with any further thoughts. I'll just leave it here for your edification and enlightenment.

Except to say this: I strongly suspect the only parts of the Japanese manufacturing sector which aren't being affected by the ridiculously strong yen are paving slab manufacturers.