Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Osaka basho, sans Dan

The Osaka sumo tournament came and went without Dan in attendance for the first time since 2003. So many happy memories of queueing for tickets, watching the palookas in the morning bouts, getting drunk, betting on east versus west, etc.

Thanks to youtube and the crappy video stream on the sumo association website, I was able to keep up with the tournament's progress: Hakuho strode to an unblemished 15-0 tournament victory, while Asashoryu, after, a very promising start, slumped in the second week and finished on 11-4.

Easily the best bout I saw was Harumafuji vs Kisenosato on the second day, both having lost on the first: Harumafuji got all mixed up after the tachiai and ended up with his 178-kg opponent behind him, pushing him towards the edge of the ring.

Unfortunately for Kisenosato, he had neglected to get hold of Harumafuji's belt; Harumafuji did what most normal human beings would do (and very few sumo wrestlers can do)- he span out of the way. Kisenosato suddenly found himself pushing at thin air and, unable to stop his own momentum, leapt rather gracelessly from the ring and into the lap of some lucky soul in the VIP seats.

I laughed and laughed, although I was a bit stumped as to how the judges were going to record the kimarite (winning technique): deftly pirouetting out of the way of an onrushing opponent, before watching him jump his fat ass into the front row doesn't correspond to any of the (admittedly few) kimarite I recognise.

I had a feeling that it ought to have been recorded as a hiwaza (a victory achieved without the victor doing much), as Kisenosato had jumped out of the ring entirely under his own steam. The judges, rather bafflingly, declared the bout to be Harumafuji's by virtue of hikiotoshi (described on the sumo association homepage as a hand pull down).

Well, whatever. Harumafuji marked on to a respectable 10-5 record and, on the very day he tossed Asashoryu out of the ring, I received the following in the post:

Harumafuji keitai cleaner!

Big thanks to the Man in the High Castle- hope you had a good time at the tournament without having to share a masu-seki with my malodorous socks.

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Territorial dispute

We're in the curry house, and Joe is taking up way more than his fair share of the table. I decide to speak out.

"Oi, this isn't Kashmir- move over."


Monday, March 23, 2009


Farewell, El Tel

L-R: Tel, "Iron" Mike Tyson, Dan, Joe



Fox on the box

We had the rare and special experience of seeing Coventry City FC on the idiot box a few weeks back, courtesy of their having drawn Chelsea in the quarter final of the F.A. Cup.

Sadly, cup glory will have to wait at least another year, as Chelsea romped to a 2-0 win that might as well have been eight. At least Cov's stadium looked halfway decent on the telly as they'd managed to sell out every seat in the house for once.


ITV COMMENTATOR: Oh, and -- er, what's going on here?

I opined that not knowing what was going on was pretty much in conflict with the duties of being a commentator, a commentator being employed to enlighten the masses, rather than confuse them further with his ignorance.

Joe went one further, declaring that there was no need for commentators, full stop. He than modified his position by conceding that they were fairly useful for the radio coverage.


Also, the pundits that the Beeb trot out for us: Darren Anderton got a cameo role on the Football Focus sofa recently and proceeded to justify whatever appearance fee he was getting by sitting there with his mouth firmly shut for most of the hour-long show. When asked to deliver any kind of analysis/opinion, he stammered bashfully and wouldn't look any of the other pundits in the face. Well worth the licence fee.

Last week, Dan, Joe and Tel watching Match of the Day; Alan Pardew in the studio waxing lyrical on Michael Essien's hussle in the Chelsea midfield.

AP: Essien's raped him there.

We look disbelievingly at one another. Is this really the BBC?

TEL: Did he just say--

JOE: Yep!

High fives all round- finally, a pundit worth listening to.

Pardew apologises for rape remark


Friday, March 20, 2009


Speaking ill

The mum makes some observation about the untimely passing of Natasha Richardson; I feel fairly sure that the mum didn't even know who Richardson was until her skiing accident hit the front pages this week, but now she's suddenly the girl next door.


Although generally disinclined to join in the ghoulish tongue-wagging, I do wonder aloud how exactly Richardson came to suffer her head injuries.

"She probably hit her head on the ski instructor's pelvis," is Tel's ribald suggestion.

A thousand miles away, deep underground, the devil himself looks momentarily appalled, shakes his head, then continues sharpening his pitchfork.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009


Tourneur quote

Madonna, there is one, as they say, a thing of flesh and blood, a man I take him by his beard, that would very desirously mouth to mouth with you.

What's that?

Show his teeth in your company.

I understand thee not.

Why, speak with you, Madonna!

Why, say so, madman, and cut of a great deal of dirty way.

The Revenger's Tragedy

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Friday, March 13, 2009


The fine line between scepticism and tempting fate

Sometime in the 19th century, the Royal Navy attempted to finally dispel the old superstition among sailors that beginning a voyage on a Friday was certain to bring bad luck. To demonstrate the falseness of this belief, they decided to commission a ship named HMS Friday. Her keel was laid on a Friday, she was launched on a Friday, and she set sail on her maiden voyage on a Friday, under the command of a Captain James Friday. She was never seen or heard from again.

-Urban legend


What the legend doesn't mention is there was a woman on board. Oh, and that her hobby was shooting albatrosses with an air rifle. And she had a black cat.

And that some idiot put her in charge of the gyroscope.

Personally, I'm not superstitious - wait for the inevitable "but" - but most of these superstitions have a solid basis in common sense, so it's not a good idea to mess around with them.

I present to you, my sceptical reader, Dan's explanation of why so-called superstitions are completely logical and fair enough:

In many countries, the number thirteen is considered unlucky and generally bad. Originally, this is because it's one more passenger than you can fit into three taxis: you have to get a fourth taxi, which hits everyone in the pocket. In Japan, the number nine is considered bad luck as it is one person more than you can fit into two taxis.

The Japanese also consider the number 4 unlucky, citing some waffle about inauspicious pronunciation.

Dan says bull, and here's why:

the first four numbers in Japanese

"As easy as 1-2-3" is particularly apt for the Japanese writing system, but a lot of Japanese school kids don't get a firm handle on writing "4" until they're well into their teens.

So there we have it: so-called superstitions are actually the wisdom of the ages and are not to be sneezed at.

Mind how you go!



Things that go jump in the night

An Australian couple thought they were being attacked by an intruder when a kangaroo crashed through their bedroom window and started jumping on them.

"My initial thought, when I was half awake, was it's a lunatic ninja coming through the window. It seems about as likely as a kangaroo breaking in," Beat Ettlin told local media Monday.

The three-meter (9 feet) kangaroo smashed through the window in Ettlin's Canberra home Sunday night.

While Ettlin and his wife and young daughter took refuge under the blankets, the injured kangaroo jumped on top of them, gouging holes in the furniture and smearing blood all over the walls, said the Australian Associated Press.

The next thing Ettlin heard was his 10-year-old son Leighton screaming from his bed: "There's a 'roo in my room!'"

Ettlin, a 42-year-old chef, wrestled the bleeding kangaroo, got it into a headlock and dragged it out the front door. The kangaroo disappeared into bushes.



The headlock was a great move: my preferred technique, the half-nelson, is virtually useless against kangaroos on account of their short arms.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Those that deserve death

At the quiz, the inevitable happens: a Japanese question comes up. Tel and I look sheepish.

Which group of Japanese people's name means "those that serve"?

The dad's knee-jerk answer is "Samurai." I consider the alternatives, Geisha and Ninja, and conclude that Samurai is probably closest to the mark.

We put down our answer as "Samurai" accordingly. Then the team waterboy pipes up:

"Hang on, what about Geisha? Because they were like Chinese prostitutes or something weren't they?"

"That's absolutely correct: Chinese prostitutes," I concur, somewhat indistinctly: it's not easy to speak through clenched teeth.

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