The Royal County Arbiter

29 November 2005

Genki Sushi?

One of my favourite places in Japan was a kaiten (revolving conveyor belt) sushi restaurant called Genki Sushi. I'm not the biggest fan of "real" sushi with the raw fish on, preferring novelty kid's sushi like the ones with tempura stuck in them or the little cups of jelly, but I am a huge fan of the Genki Sushi logo.

the Genki Sushi logo

The image is bold, striking and crazily paradoxical. You see, genki means happy, healthy, cheerful or lively in Japanese. It doesn't mean furious.

I once asked a co-worker why the Genki Sushi man was so angry and she looked surprised because, to her, it looked really genki - "maybe he's so genki that he looks a bit angry, like when a little kid is really really genki". I suppose one could see how his expression represents a fierce kind of determination appropriate to the making and serving of fresh sushi but my foreigner's eyes can't help seeing a burning fury there.

Genki Sushi man/mascot

What do you think?

Genki Sushi is now a global chain and there are branches across America and SE Asia (see here). Don't eat the Sushi Azarashi though.


Blogger Darrell:

Genki Sushi Man is brilliant.

That's not even his original face - it's a hand-me-down from Mooncat.

10:53 pm  
Blogger pinklefish:

He's so genki, he's in rude health. Geddit. Heheh.

1:43 am  
Blogger ben:

I did read that opening line genuinely as "One of my favourite places in Japan when I was a kaiten (revolving conveyor belt)" which is a side to you I haven't seen before. AND I LIKE IT.

Still, you know how the saying goes - "Dont follow Darrell, or you'll end up at Darrell's house. And dead. Obviously."

12:24 pm  
Blogger Tim Lazyhour:

Ben, I just misread your misreading as "One of my favourite places in Japan when I was kitten...".

Eeeh, it's a funny old world. I think I need new eyes.

2:11 pm  
Blogger ben:

Amazingly, I just read your misreading of my misreading as "I am a big fan of the internet"!!!!

What a world we live in!!!!!

[C Woman's Realm]

11:12 pm  

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26 November 2005

Museum of Childhood - pt.5

Just one more thing about the Museum of Childhood's last day, and it's a world exclusive! We were all surprised to find famous English drug addict Pete Doherty posing as a doll in a Museum exhibit, wearing one of his trademark swanky hats:

Pete Doherty doll exhibit from the Museum of Childhood.

Looks like you've dropped your guitar/needle, Pete!

If you need proof, here's Mr. Doherty wearing another hat.

More from the Museum: pt.1 | pt.2 | pt.3 | pt.4


Blogger ben:

"Heeeeen Albeeeuh-hu-huuuuun I etc etc ends...thats £250 please. I'll do the next 11 numbers when I've slipped out of this museum window..."

4:46 pm  

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Normal service will be resumed

Ahoy! As you may have noticed, we're having trouble with our image server at the moment. Rest assured all pictures will return, even if it means finding a new, non-defective file host.


Blogger han:

why not try flickr? It's reliable and free!
These photos are great, by the way. Keep 'em coming!

12:40 am  

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25 November 2005

Museum of Childhood - pt.4

One of the best things in the section of the museum devoted to doll's houses were these model butcher's shops from the 1850s.

model butcher's shop from the Museum of Childhood

I love all these cuts of realistic-looking meat. Why, it's almost like seeing into meat/Lincoln-lovin' Mark Ryden's brain! Of course, until about 50 years ago, in pre-supermarket days, everyone bought their meat from butcher's shops like these (disembowelled wooden cow optional) and one could get parts with names like brisket and hock.

surrounded by meat - model butcher's shop from the Museum of Childhood

When I was a kid my favourite toy was a model post office so who am I to mock the nineteenth century child-butcher (pictured far right)? Perhaps the reason why we find these playthings so creepy now is that we no longer have a healthy relationship with meat; namely, most people do not want to remember that the meat they eat comes from animals.

another model butcher's shop from the Museum of Childhood

But it definitely doesn't come from that snooty cat, though.

More from the Museum: pt.1 | pt.2 | pt.3 | pt.5


Blogger pinklefish:

You still can get cuts like hock and brisket. Especially brisket, I've seen that in Sainsburys!

12:44 pm  
Blogger Myrtle Peacock:

I am very familiar with brisket and hock unfortunately. My mum buys such cuts frequently in supermarkets and works them into our food.

7:55 pm  
Blogger michael:

Even for a vegetarian these little butchers shops with all the different cuts of meat are fascinating. One of my favourites from the museum too. So glad to see it hasnt changed all that much.

7:14 am  

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24 November 2005

Museum of Childhood - pt.3

One of the highlights of our trip to the Museum of Childhood was a card game, probably from the first half of the twentieth century, called The Great Galumphus – An Amusing Round Game of Cards.

Title card (Great Galumphus), Puttyfaced Popcat, Painted Pooh Pooh.

(clockwise) Title card, Puttyfaced Popcat, Painted Pooh Pooh.

Unfortunately, neither the aim nor the rules of the game were on display, but the artwork speaks for itself. The cards were designed by Miss J. Veal, and were published by J. Jaques & Son Ltd., the oldest sports and games manufacturer in the world. J. Jaques & Son has been handed down from father to son for 200 years, over seven generations.

Hairless Hunkum, Long-Eared Scootler, Spotted Snifflegrub.

(clockwise) Hairless Hunkum, Long-Eared Scootler, Spotted Snifflegrub.

In the early 1800s alone, John Jaques II invented Happy Families, Ludo, Tiddlywinks and Snakes & Ladders. A company history can be found here. The Jaques family lacked the vision and imagination, however, to create anything as striking as Miss Veal’s beautifully-named creatures.

Lunar Lumpkin, Cissling Sand Snapper, Flying Umbratunk.

(clockwise) Lunar Lumpkin, Cissling Sand Snapper, Flying Umbratunk.

A trawl through the internet sadly revealed no trace of either the Great Galumphus or Miss J. Veal. If anyone can throw further light on the woman and her work, we would be grateful and excited.

To see such an unusual and charming set of characters making their way onto the production line of the world’s oldest games manufacturer is a real treat, even if this took place more than a hundred years ago. Perhaps more importantly, these cards have provided the Royal County Arbiter with a wonderful new lexicon of abuse. Isn’t that right, Myrtle, you puttyfaced popcat?

More from the Museum: pt.1 | pt.2 | pt.4 | pt.5


Blogger Myrtle Peacock:

You're nothing but a hairless hunkum and you know it, Lazyhour!

9:35 pm  
Blogger Darrell:

I wonder if there'd be any publisher interested in either reprinting the cards or compiling a book of them?

Compare these dazzlingly witty inventions and illustrations to the charmless homogenised tosh of 'Ricky Gervais's Flanimals' - and that gets into the bestseller charts!

10:05 pm  
Blogger pinklefish:

Miss Veal was Mr. Gervais's Grandmother.


10:33 pm  
Blogger ben:

I am crying.

Not good crying.

I hate you Ricky Gervais.

12:55 am  

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23 November 2005

Museum of Childhood - pt.2

Dolls and figurines were, as you'd expect, well represented at the Museum of Childhood. Here are some exhibits which caught our eye.

Below: Such surly faces! This pair looked like they were plotting something big.

Doll couple, Museum of Childhood

Triple-faced baby, Museum of Childhood

Above: Triple-faced baby. Its clothing is presumably lost for good, but this doll would originally have lived in a large, hooded outfit. Once inside his hood, a twist of the nodule atop the doll's head would have revealed a different face.

Below: Hovering figurine collection. My favourite is the litte fellow with the guitar and pointy hat (left-hand side). They all remind me of characters from the N64 Legend of Zelda videogames. Note giant priest baby in background.

Hovering figurines, Museum of Childhood

Paper dolls, Museum of Childhood

Above: Cute paper dolls. There's something of the Shirley Temple about them.

Below: Finally, I can't decide if this disembodied doll's head - lying in a display box in a nook of the museum - was supposed to be part of the exhibition or not.

Doll's head, Museum of Childhood

More from the Museum: pt.1 | pt.3 | pt.4 | pt.5


Blogger Darrell:

I reckon those evil-browed twins have already carried out their plans - and the results are that picture at the bottom.

2:48 pm  
Blogger Myrtle Peacock:

Too right! They've been so naughty that god has turned them into dolls.

7:58 pm  
Blogger ben:

See more of therse fabulous dolls at:

And they wonder why there's so many murders in the world!

9:36 am  
Blogger Jellie:

And I used to think Blythe was the coolest scariest doll.

11:31 am  

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21 November 2005

Museum of Childhood - pt.1

Museum of Childhood interior

On Sunday 30 October the Arbiter (plus guest) visited the Museum of Childhood in London's Bethnal Green. We were exceptionally lucky to catch this chance as the museum was closing for a year of refurbishment work from 31 October.

visitors drawing the Museum of Childhood mural

A Bon Voyage mural showing visitors' favourite toys travelling around the world was in full-swing by the time we reached the museum and a series of special events, including some highly energetic and slightly creepy performance art, happened throughout the day. There was a feeling of melancholy celebration and one can't help but remember what happened to the Museum of Moving Image, another fantastic London museum, which closed for refurbishment and relocation in 1999 and never opened again.

three toys from the Museum of Childhood

With so many amazing things to see in the museum, we barely had time to take a proper look at all of the many incredible antique toys but, of course, we did manage to get some killer snaps of some of our favourite items. Look out for upcoming RCA entries on such wonders as double-faced dolls, Pete Doherty and the Great Galumphus.

We sincerely hope that the museum will reopen as planned in autumn 2006 because it would be a true tragedy to lose such a collection and one that was open to the public for free. A selection of 20th century toys from the museum is now doing the rounds of the country in a travelling exhibition entitled "Must-Have Toys" (details here).

More from the Museum: pt.2 | pt.3 | pt.4 | pt.5


Blogger michael:

The Museum of Childhood was a favourite haunt of mine when i lived in Stepney many years ago. Sad to hear its closing down for re-furbishment. I hope they don't spoil it. The Museum of the Moving Image was great also and can't belive it hasnt been opened again, especially as the South bank is such a thriving place now.

1:42 pm  
Blogger Darrell:

A place of wonder.

I'd forgotten all about that excellent cat - I'd like to have him round for dinner.

2:46 pm  
Anonymous Kate Bines:

Hello from the MoC team. We're here and working very hard behind the scenes to get the Museum open for November.

Pete's safely in storage for the duration!

2:56 pm  

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19 November 2005

He Is A Vengeful God

Who knew that our adopted God had such powers? Ultraman, look out.

This picture was found on a Japanese imageboard. Photographer and context unknown.

...and we can't explain this, either.


Blogger ben:

Milk has gone too far! Cheese will be totally pissed now...

10:38 pm  
Blogger pinklefish:

In a freak occurrance of synchronicity, my friend found this today:

3:32 pm  
Blogger Tim Lazyhour:

Wow! That is great. Slowly, the Tower of the Sun will take over all websites.

Some of those other 'Stitches' pictures are nice too. I dig this one.

9:39 pm  
Blogger Unknown:

its kaiju. giant batttle monster in the realm of godzilla. nice foto

8:25 pm  

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16 November 2005

Ronald McDonald Counterculture Encounter

A few days ago, I noticed a little logo on the back of a box of McDonald's french fries. It featured child-pleasing corporate spokesman Ronald McDonald putting some litter in a can. Here it is:

McDonald's french fry box stencil design

The stylised, one-colour, stencil-aping design. The excessively gleeful expression. The lunging pose. If I had seen this logo anywhere else (a wall, a magazine, a poster) I would have immediately assumed it was some kind of satire or parody of, well, something. Look at the evidence:

Examples of counterculture designs

"Keep Britain Tidy" trash-depositing designs, along with stencil-rendered faces and logos, have in the last decade been claimed and subverted by graffiti artists and counterculture-junkies across the globe. So much so, in fact, that seeing such a design in a corporate-approved context now seems positively jarring.

It's interesting to me that an innocuous art style can - and has - become so associated with the counter-cultural movement that I found myself looking for meaning where there was none. The power of subvertising.

So, what do you think? What does the rubbish-dunkin' Ronald McDonald logo say to you? Could it be that we've reached such heights of postmodernity that this logo was designed by some hep young advertising turk, fully aware of its alternative connotations?

Or is it just a nice bold logo of a clown being conscientious?

While you're thinking, why not visit AdBusters, home of subvertising?
And here are all the Flickr photos tagged with 'stencil'.


Anonymous Anonymous:

Ronald is running to catch the cup that someone has just thrown away so that he can fill it with sugar and sell it again. TEH IRONIES!

Or he's going to use the cup to scoop the shite out of the bin to sell to customers.

Sorry I swore on your blog.

9:57 pm  
Blogger Myrtle Peacock:

I think we've reached a breaking point in culture. This (trademarked) Ronald now officially means whatever the hell you want it to mean. Let's stencil it around town and get the anti-corporate set in a whirl.

10:06 pm  
Blogger ben:

Yes, I am presently murdering children on my non stop Stab Dem Babies NOW!!!! Tour 2002 but I am doing it "ironically" so it actually means that I see the wrongness in what Im doing, which makes it right. Obviously.

10:53 am  

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08 November 2005

$3,387.24 please

My blog is worth $3,387.24.
How much is your blog worth?

Hot on the heels of news that AOL has bought Weblogs Inc for an estimated $25 million, Dane Carlson has produced a nifty applet that calculates how much any given blog is worth. The sum is based on figures extrapolated by Tristan Louis from the monetary value of the Weblogs Inc sale against the linkage and internet network value of individual blogs in the Weblogs stable. This non-monetary value comes from Technorati, a company that indexes and tracks the content of blogs; it ranks every blog not by traffic but by the number of links it has tracking back to it. Put simply, there are now $$$ attached to the Technorati ranking chart. For those who are curious, the Arbiter stands at 350, 359 out of all the blogs in the whole world.

Come on and buy us, AOL! We're cheap! The RCA is the internet's foremost purveyor of unfiltered content about old boxes, church posters and things found in/that should be taken to charity shops. Inc.

What you can buy for $3,387.24:

  • a Dior Park Lane trench coat
  • 113 Furbies
  • 338 single use Lomo cameras for the ensuing art project


Blogger ben:

Your blog,, is worth $5,080.86 Come on! We're all going to Burger king! Well maybe 13% Meat Product Sandwich Duke instead...

7:27 pm  
Blogger Tim Lazyhour:

Blimey, we're worth a whopping $3,951.78 today! We'll get you, Ben Baker...

12:49 am  

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