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little irish jackhammer

  • Funny.

    Graham Annable’s blog.
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  • In an attempt to actually make some money from my unhealthy blogging obsesson, I’ve been tweaking this blog (and Deep Kyoto also) a lot recently; adding an extra column and a lot of amazon stuff, mp3 players etc… Let me know if it get’s annoying. Up on Deep Kyoto tonight there is a fresh post on cafe and cake shop Sugary. And on Japanese Reboot there are some foxy phrases here, here and also here.

    Japan Focus has posted a nice piece of non-fiction manga (in English!) by Mizuki Shigeru the creator of the famous youkai series “GeGeGe no Kitarou“. Entitled War and Japan it starts off explaining how it was for Japanese people in general during the war and then tells of Shigeru’s own experiences serving overseas (he lost an arm and many many friends). I read it yesterday and found it very interesting indeed. There’s quite a long introduction to it by Matthew Penney, but you can skip that and just scroll down to the cartoon if you want to. Shigeru tells his own story better than anyone else can. LINK

    This news today in the Independent and the commentary on Worldchanging that we are all effectively doomed, (I mean even more certainly doomed than we already thought we were) was quite depressing.

    Finally, I found this video of bad-ass Taro Aso on boingboing this morning and it made me laugh despite being doomed, so here you are.

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  • Post 101 on Deep Kyoto tonight is on a really nice cafe called Cafe Kocsi.
    And there are two fresh posts on Japanese Reboot; one is a review of the vocabulary studied so far and the latest is a simple kanji lesson: .

    Lately I’ve been highly entertained by the newly animated version of David Rees’ Get Your War On comics. If you’re not familiar with the strip, it features clip-art like office workers having insightful discussions on contemporary politics in general and the War on Terror in particular and being damn funny in the process.

    Now 23/6 have animated it and I’m thoroughly hooked.

    Here’s the link to the comics on David Ree’s website.

    Here’s the link to the animated Get Your War On on at 23/6.

    The book Get Your War On is available at amazon.com, amazon.uk or amazon.co.jp.

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  • A collaborative creative writing Stanford class project to write a 224 page graphic novel over six weeks, resulted in “Shake Girl” and the results are now available as a free online book. I read it today and was very impressed. The story is based on real events, and its purpose is to raise awareness of violence against women in Cambodia. It’s not a happy story but I’m glad I read it. From journalist Eric Pape’s original article on the tragic story of Tat Marina whose story inspired the book:

    The government …is dominated by former Khmer Rouge members who have shown their willingness to use any means necessary to retain their positions of power, from the murder of political opponents to widespread spying and torture. In high society, wives are prepared to battle tooth and nail to avoid losing their husbands and thus their social status to “second wives.” There is even a traditional Cambodian warning to pretty young girls: Beware of powerful men: They may kill you if you refuse their advances. And beware of their wives: They may kill you if you do not.
    Link to Eric Pape article.

    Link to Shake Girl.
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  • Boingboing has a link up today to a full scan of The Usborne Book of the Future: A Trip In Time to the Year 2000 and Beyond (1979). It’s a very exciting (to a schoolboy) and optimistic vision of a now alternate future of undersea cities, space travel, robots, incredible cybernetic advances in medicine… you know all the fantastical sci-fi stuff we dreamed about when we were kids. The thing is, I can clearly remember reading this as a small boy, poring over those beautiful illustrations and it totally coloured in my vision of what the future would be. I couldn’t wait to grow up and travel to Mars! No mention of Bush, the Iraq War or impending recession in there, eh? I’m still interested in visions of the near future, but these days I find myself reading stuff like this:

    Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. Lot’s of good stuff in here; tales of genetic manipulation, the interweb, virtual reality, apocalypse and of emerging technologies that change what it means to be human and so also change the moral and mental landscape. My favorites would be the delightfully amoral “The Dog Said Bow-Wow” by Michael Swanwick, the heart-breaking “Wedding Album” by David Marusek and “The Calorie Man” by Paolo Bacigalupi; a cautionary tale of what might be if we put too much trust in companies like Monsanto. But every story in here had something to teach me, and more importantly it was a damn good read. The anthology is peppered with excerpts from correspondence between writers Bruce Sterling and John Kessel. Here’s a representative snippet from Kessel to Sterling:

    …You are nearer the quick of it with words like ‘wonder,’ ‘transcendence,’ ‘visionary drive,’ ‘conceptual novelty’ – and especially ‘cosmic fear.’ This is the dirty little secret of science fiction: that its roots are planted not in the logical, positivistic assumptions of ‘science,’ but in some twisted apprehension (I use the word in the sense both of understanding and fear) that ‘the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.’ We fear and are attracted by that irrationality. It yawns like a pit beneath our attempts to understand technology’s effects on us; it tugs at us like a cliff whispering, ‘come on, jump.’
    LINK

    Speaking of strange… Last night, I watched the documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore on Altertube. Alan Moore is a brilliant writer, and it is fascinating to hear his insights into storytelling, religion, war, pornography, spirituality & materialism, the very nature of the Self…

    …Now this is the single most important thing that we can ever attain; the knowledge of our own Self. And yet there are a frightening amount of people who seem to have the urge not just to ignore the Self, but actually seem to have the urge to obliterate themselves. This is horrific, but you can almost understand the desire to simply wipe out that awareness because it’s too much of a responsibility to actually possess such a thing as a Soul, such a precious thing. What if you break it? What if you lose it? Mightn’t it be best to anaesthetize it, to deaden it, to destroy it, to not have to live with the pain of struggling towards it and trying to keep it pure? I think that the way people immerse themselves in alcohol, in drugs, in television, in any of the addictions that our culture throws up, can be seen as a deliberate attempt to destroy any connection between themselves and the responsibility of accepting and owning a higher Self and then having to maintain it.
    LINK

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  • I received a very entertaining rant yesterday from a friend of mine on why he finds it difficult to get used to life in Australia:

    …how do you have an intelligent conversation of any kind with someone who either thinks that A) sports is the center of the universe, B) Kylie Minogue is the center of the universe, or C) the horoscope is the center of the universe? Don’t these people realize that comics is the center of the universe! Also, anytime anyone uses a word like “brekky” instead of “breakfast” or “tradey” instead of “tradesman” I have no choice but to assume that either A) they have the mind of a 3-year old, or B) they feel the need to treat me like *I* have the mind of a 3-year-old. Either way it’s a conversation-killer as far as I’m concerned. Too bad 99% of the country does it.

    Said friend will of course remain anonymous as:

    …I would get beat up, I have no doubt! I forgot to mention that Australians also can’t handle any form of criticism about Australia because Australia is the greatest country in the world and they know that even if they’ve never been to another country and never would because why would they when Australia is so awesome and Australia is the center of the universe, and if you don’t believe that they will furrow up their brow in bafflement and not want to talk to you anymore, incredulous that ANYONE could ever think Australia was not the center of the universe.

    Though he doesn’t seem to like Australia much, I think anonymous would like my latest posting on Rock Bar Chigaihouken over on the sister blog. And I know he’d like this free downloadable issue of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing too.

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  • You used to have to pay to read Scott McCloud’s The Right Number. But now you can see it for free! Good story… I’m looking forward to Part 3.
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  • I’m feeling a bit flush these days… well flusher than I have been in a long while so I decided to spoil myself by ordering some books I’ve been aching for, for absolute eons. And hat’s off to amazon.co.jp for getting my books to me within 24 hours! That’s pretty remarkable service really. Pity they don’t take cash payments anymore though…

    Anyway, I’ve already read one of them. Neil Gaiman‘s Dream Hunters.

    This is a very nice volume, subtley blending an old Japanese fable with the world of the Sandman comics, although this itself is not a comic but an illustrated short story. Gaiman himself writes that when he first discovered this story he was “struck by the similarities – some of them almost disquieting – between the Japanese tale and my own Sandman series”. He retells this tale of a fox’s love for a monk very nicely indeed…

    But why am I buying books when there is so much stuff on the web for free? I recently discovered the audio stories on Well Told Tales. You can download them or simply listen to them online, good to listen to while cooking or cleaning or doing other domestic things. I really liked the Hand Of God story about using time travel to undo one of the most infamous injustices of sporting history.

    And there’s a whole bunch of links to the stories nominated for this years Hugo Awards up here: Hugo Nominees. Again, Neil Gaiman’s How To Talk To Girls At Parties is a classic. “Just talk to them… it’s not like they are from another planet!” Brilliant conceit!

    God I love free stuff. Good night.

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  • First off, a quick reminder that our friend Yui Katou’s exhibition started today at Gojo Guesthouse Cafe. She wrote to tell me that:

    AH, WHAT ABOUT YOUR SCHEDULE FOR NEXT SATURDAY NIGHT??
    THERE WILL BE A LIVE CONCERT AT GOJO AND I WILL DO LIVE-PAINTING WITH
    THE MUSIC :) THAT’S SATURDAY THE 24TH!!
    IT STARTS FROM 19:30 AND MY DAD IS PLAYING THE FLUTE AS WELL!

    Now that sounds nice, doesn’t it? Yui’s exhibition is from 1 p.m to 9:00 p.m. and will run until Sunday the 25th of February.

    This next bit is going to make Kumar very very jealous. Yesterday HJ and I went to the Kyoto International Manga Museum that opened up here in November. What a top place! They have an massive manga collection you can sit and read at your leisure. There are also some foreign comics (I read a whole copy of Hellblazer ). There’s a very nice children’s library too, which is really wonderfully designed. There’s a sort of well in the middle with soft flooring the kids can sit in while they read. It’s just the sort of thing kids love to sit in and it was quite moving to see all these little boys and girls in there with their noses buried in their books… Another great part is the 紙芝居 (kamishibai) performances which continue throughout the day. Kamishibai is an old form of storytelling using illustrations in a wooden frame. I’d never had the chance to see it before, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Well, finally we had our pictures drawn by a nice young chap called Seibi. And you can see a video of that below.


    So, I’m a blonde, blue-eyed 16 year old apparently… After the Manga Museum we got a bite to eat and a few pints of the old Guinness at Field and there we met and got talking to a very nice Finnish chap by the name of Mika. And he gave us our first lesson in Finnish:Kiitos! – Thank you!
    Hyuvaa Paivaa! – Good day!
    Nakemiin! – Goodbye!
    Kippis! – Cheers!

    But I think the best quote from Mika last night was “I like some Irish… They are weird like Finns.” If you are reading this Mika, I hope you had a safe flight home and be sure to get in touch next time you visit!


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  • I just had a phone call from my mother in England, which always worries me a bit because she usually doesn’t call unless there’s a very serious reason. It turns out my Uncle Jimmy in America has died. He was 86. I never met him, but I think that’s even sadder in a way because now I never will… These past few years I’ve lost a few uncles and aunties and my parents are getting on a bit now too… When I was little they were the big people showing me how to do things, and standing between me and the big old world, and making me feel safe… Death didn’t mean anything. I thought those big people would always be there, somewhere. When the big people go away it makes the world seem a far far lonelier place. Well, I never met him but he was family. Rest in peace Jimmy Lyons of Kentucky. Hope to catch you next time around.

    On a brighter note I found a nice link on Neil Gaiman’s website to a preview of Eddie Campbell’s latest. I read it. I was intrigued. Check it here.

    And here as promised is the further adventures of the クジラブ wagon, reminding us all that there is more to whales than meat. There are some further whale factoids up here.

    [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/EP2ivPop5Es" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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