Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXI: Our Man In Abiko


Our Man was born in a crossfire hurricaine, er, sorry, no Leicester Royal Infirmary, actually. Was a journeyman journo for some small town US papers including the Jacksonville Patriot and the Log Cabin Democrat, before honing his craft in the Midlands with stints at the Birmingham Post, Nottingham Evening Post and Derby Telegraph before hitting the ejector seat button and crash landing in Japan for a second time with family in tow, shortly before the world economy imploded, though that was not his fault, he doesn't think. His blog can be found here.

What made you decide to start blogging?

Through no fault of his own, Our Man found himself on the other side of the world, yet again, unable to communicate very deeply with the locals, but curious about the folk around him. He missed the world of newspapers. Blogging was a way to express his feelings, communicate with those left behind, and practise his typing.


What is your best blogging experience?

The best moment came early on when one of the top Japanese bloggers about J-politics linked (link here) to one of Our Man's humble stabs at satire. Until that point it felt like Our Man was just jerking off in his bedroom, suddenly he was shagging for real. So to speak.


And your worst?

When Our Man realised he wouldn't be able to quit the day job and blog for a living.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Our Man wanted to recreate the feel of a real gutsy newspaper and for that you need a political cartoonist. Our Man didn't know any so after a little Ozzie-plonk-fueled inspiration, he drew a cartoon on the spur of the moment, scanned it in and the next day Japan Probe linked to it. Here it is here . Wow. All of a sudden Our Man was a step closer to being James Thurber. You gotta love the internet. And not knowing when you can't do something.


Favourite blogs?

Too many to mention. The most influential on Our Man's style have been Guido Fawkes (love the attitude), Wronging Rights (great humour about genocide) Agent's Diary (brilliantly written and gave Our Man the idea for the secret agent persona) Drudge Report (proving that ugly layout can be beautiful). Want some more? Check out the blog roll under Our Man's feet.


Do you think as time goes by, people are becoming less ignorant about life in Japan?

The opposite actually. The myths of Japan being some wildly other-world distinct from the West with a higher spirituality/technical prowess are frankly a crock but are perpetuated by so many here, who should know better themselves (check out here for more ). Japan is different, but it has more in common with than it has different from the West. Our Man has to believe that, otherwise what the hell is he doing living here?


How would you define the Japanese blogosphere?

It's a couple of years or so behind the West. The Japanese have yet to completely embrace the idea of revealing all to every Tom Dick and Haru, maybe it runs counter to their sense of hierarchy, or maybe they've just got more sense than us foreigners. The gaijin (foreign) bloggers here are predominantly techno-geeks/phd students/anime fettishists/fresh-faced English teachers, though with some notable exceptions. It is growing with sterling work by Nick at Japan Soc and Japan Probe's, er, probing of Japan.


You recently mentioned that people in Japan are dissatisfied with their politicians, but isn't the desire some of them have for a coalition, whether right or wrong, a sign that they still have faith in their political system of government?

Could be. But it could be more a lack of imagination. There is frustration with the status quo - but where do you go next? The bureaucrats and the same ruling party have been in power virtually non-stop since the war. The idea of taking a risk on something new has been hammered out of the electorate's consciousness. But, there have not been times like these since the war, so something will have to give.


Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Never been to South America. Fancy following Che's motorbike trip. Or Oz for the plonk.


Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Love to come back to Britain for a visit (that's abroad for Our Man you know), but got no time or money.


Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

Otto von Bismarck. By sheer force of personalty, and backroom deals, he pulled a nation together. Whether that was a good thing or not, not sure. And he could drink two bottles of port a night. Either him or a distant relative, Amos Sherriff - the first Labour Lord Mayor of Leicester who led the poor on a hunger march to Westminster in 1905, along with a certain Ramsay MacDonald, who went on to greater things.



Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Keith Richards. All you need is four chords and a fifth of bourbon and look what you can achieve.


Favourite Bond movie?

Goldfinger. What was that one with the underwater car? Liked that one too.



Favourite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker.


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

YOU ARE MESSING WITH OUR MAN'S MIND. How 'bout Neopolitan?


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

Seen the Stones five times, so who else? Haven't seen Springsteen yet.



In terms of visiting for the weekend, Tokyo, Tokoshima, or Tokunoshima?

Don't know two of those three. Some darn fine bars in Tokyo.



Favourite national newspaper?

The Independent (is that still alive?)


What would you say your hobbies were?

Apart from blogging you mean? Recently, have rediscovered the joys of strumming the guitar.



And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Gimme Shelter, Let it Bleed (Stones) Glory Days (Springsteen). Fatherland by Robert Harris, The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber, and, oh, any collection of Rumpole of the Bailey short stories. Oh, and the Complete Works of Shakespeare, oh can't choose that one, dang. The Bible??

1 comment:

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