Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Did You Make Any Money?

Take a moment to check out this total downer of a gallery featuring our good friend the Japanese salaryman. The black and white photographs capture the ever-weary Japanese businessman in his natural habitat--that is, work and work-related environments. Looking at these pictures I'm reminded that these guys are human. They are tired, they are bored, they like to smoke, and for some reason, they keep on taking it, day after day.

And why? Contrary to popular belief in the West, it hasn't always been like this. As recently as thirty or forty years ago the prevalence of arrangements such as tanshin funin, by which the husband/father lives and works apart from his family, would have been unthinkable. Since the 1970s, however, many Japanese corporations have been exploiting certain shaky ideals about the Japanese ie, or household, to structure their workforces advantageously.

Google "disintegration of the Japanese family" and see what happens.

To anyone who has ever been to Japan, the images will be at once familiar and striking. To those who have not, it's probably enough just to imagine.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

That's Nice, Dear

For the first time in decades, a party other than the Liberal (not) Democratic (anything but) Party rules Japan by a significant margin. While on the surface this seems like a good thing and a progressive turn for Japanese politics, I am not so certain. After all, the new prime minister's wife appears to be totally out of her mind. Venus? Tom Cruise? And worst of all... Takarazuka?

Consider her husband's nickname: "Alien." Are you thinking what I'm thinking? That he's some kind of Manchurian Candidate--a puppet who sets the stage for world domination by really cute aliens? What will happen when Japan, our planet's most tested vanquisher of bizarre creatures, is governed by them? We are all in deep trouble, that's what.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Picture Us Bigtime

When it rains here on NPFK, it pours. New pictures should be up on the right in the usual place. They're from two different trips: one to the island of Shikoku in a rented car, and the other a slow train ride to Tokyo via the city of Kanazawa. Both trips were excellent, and I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Aw hell...

Some things I've been enjoying back home in Mississippi, in no particular order:

1. Dogs (especially Beulah, pictured)
2. Trucks (including one very excellent '81 El Camino)
3. Guns
4. Beer (though not with the guns or the trucks)
5. Books(tores)
6. Air-conditioning
7. Food that will kill you
8. Swimming

Late summer in Mississippi is an exciting time, because it means that summer is just about over. Unfortunately, late summer in Mississippi does not really start until October, so there's a while yet. Here I exaggerate slightly, if at all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Japan: Why We Likes It

What do you make of this:

Apparently that thing in the middle is his... uh... he's a robot? They are robots? Who are they, and why is whatever this is happening?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

sha-la-la-la-lee! yeah!

Despite the enormous amount of time I spend in record stores, I hardly ever make impulse buys where music is concerned. Most of what I buy has been in the back of my mind for a while. That said, when I saw this Sunnychar collection in a used shop the other day, I couldn't turn it down. Turns out it was a huge score.

The band is an early 90s Japanese pop and/or punk group with girl-girl vocals, and the songs range from the sugary teen movie soundtrack item to the kind of slanted indie cuteness that shows up on a Beat Happening record. If you'll allow me to get even more obscure, the band they most resemble is That Dog. In other words, kind of like Weezer, but the Japanese girls are in the band instead of in the lyrics. Count me in!

There's something very seditious about this band. What is considered "quirky" and who is considered "talented" in Japan--especially where female performers are concerned--has nothing to do with creativity, personality, or the ability to actually write a song. The girl on the left in that picture is responsible for just about song on this collection, and they are presented without a dab of polish. The songs are imperfect, incomplete, and better off for it.

There's also a funny cover of "Have You Ever Seen The Rain," by Kuriidensu Kuriauootaa Ribaibaru (KKR?). Well worth the price of a used CD.