The Royal County Arbiter

28 February 2006

Train! Train! Traingrfgsflgsflkfsgsfklg!!!11

Just when you thought it was safe, Japan drops another coquettish bomb.

Densha Otoko DVD cover

Densha Otoko (Train Man) is the true story of a socially-retarded otaku (geek) who rescues a refined young woman from a train groper. The original book, released in November 2004, chronicles their burgeoning romance through the forum posts that he makes soliciting advice on the internet BBS 2ch. It has since spawned a film, a manga series and a TV series which ended this month; there has even been talk of an anime series being produced that is based on some of the animations from the TV series' opening credits.

Although it is being touted as a true story, there are those who have reason to believe it to be nothing but media-generated hokum - see Marxy here and here. It does seem rather too steki to be true: an otaku with a heart of gold, a beautiful unpretentious girl and the wild outpourings of Japan's largest internet community all working to remodel the geek/hero into a suitable suitor. Hollywood's probably already bought rights to the story.

Project Densha: the wonderful and hugely entertaining English translation of the original BBS posts (last chapter incomplete - gah!)
Densha Otoko: complete archived BBS posts in Japanese
Kaomoji: Japanese emoticons (see also Shift JIS art and East Asian emoticons)

Who cares if it's fake when we have this? (;゚Д゚)


Blogger Tim Lazyhour:

Surely the spin-off videogame can't be far off. I hope it will be a Game Boy Advance puzzle game. Or "Densha Otoko De Go!"

12:29 am  
Blogger ben:

US Title: Mr Titty Touch - The Musical (2006)

Train Man voiced by John Goodmans.
Woman voiced by John Goodmans.
Train voiced by 'Mr Dad'.

No childrens.

7:37 pm  
Anonymous Old Guy:

I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it.

Sure, it was a bit slow in spots and showed the geek as overly emotional (I thought), but hey, he was in love and trying to express himself the best he could.

I take all movies with a pound or two of salt (as opposed to a few grains), but if Train Man is viewed in that light, it gives at least some insight into the Japanese (perhaps even Asian?) young peoples' culture, which I'm sure is evolving because of western influences and Hollywood.

Anyone who thinks anyone in America is who they see in the movies is a dreamer. (I'm including Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears--everyone is exaggerated by magazines and the movies for one reason--it sells!)

Americans (and your favorite movie stars) are as boring as everyone else, including you and you and you. But the fantasy is what counts and dreamers we all are.

8:35 pm  

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27 February 2006

Reader's Digest Makes Interesting Choices

If you were making a cassette of Elvis Presley's Greatest Hits, what picture would you use for the cover? Presley was one of the most photographed people in the world, so there must be thousands upon thousands of pictures to choose from. Hawaii Elvis? Army Elvis? Hip-thrustin' Elvis? It's no easy task.

For the Reader's Digest design team of the 1980s, however, the answer was obvious: Moribund Elvis.

I wonder if their decision was questioned at any stage of the production process?


Blogger Darrell:

"Spitting Image Elvis"

7:11 pm  
Blogger pinklefish:

And the award goes to Lazypants for best use of the word "Moribund" ever.

10:11 pm  
Blogger Jonathan:

Looks like a photo of an Elvis statue !

11:15 pm  

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23 February 2006

Hello I'm Latte!


"Come on in! We're small enough to fit in your palm. But working together we'll make the best coffee you've ever had!"

Who could resist such a thing? Despite being only 4cm tall these Tenorikuma (bear on your palm) have opened a coffee shop and are working their little stripey raccoon tails off to bring you simply the best coffee experience you've ever had. It's the American dream.

My favourite character is Mr Steam, a ghost that lives in your drink. Get the low-down on Latte-kun, Maple-chan, Chai-kun, Frappe-kun, Macchiato-kun and, of course, Mr Steam here. Better still, watch short Tenorikuma stop-motion animations! Kyaaaaa!

Can't get enough of the Sanrio-Starbucks crossover? Check these:

Tenorikuma goods: peruse the latest merchandise
Cute Barista!: a fan-listing with lots of pretty link buttons for you
TENORI-ON: no raccoons here but light and sound from your finger! Rad.


Blogger Spider-Sam:

Oh no! As if drinking coffee wasn't scary enough, now I'll have to check my every cup for ghosts!!

12:34 pm  

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14 February 2006

The Boy Crosses Over The Rainbow

Harold and Maude Japanese poster

Looking for a romantic, life-affirming film to watch on Valentine's Day that won't offend your hipster sensibilities? It is possible!

1971's Harold and Maude is certainly one of my favourite films of the moment - a love story that is neither saccharine and predictable nor gritty and dark. It's funny, warm and full of fantastic subtle touches. I feel sure that it must have played a large part in influencing the work of Wes Anderson, particularly Rushmore. Indeed, Bud Cort (who plays Harold in Harold and Maude) appears in The Life Aquatic, bringing the whole thing full circle.

This charming educational diagram should help to explain the story:

diagram showing relationships in Harold and Maude
Please do click for a large, readable version.

There's suicide, joyriding, philosophy, Vivian Pickles (cf. Robert Vinegar), love, satire and a banjo. What more could you ask for? I thoroughly recommend this film.

Bat-shit crazy link content rating level running from high to medium:

HAROLD AND MAUDE -- a hand-drawn map, pictures and some strange fanfic/comprehension exercises on this German site (in English) for possibly a school project about the film
Harold & Maude: the unofficial Homepage -- comprehensive
R-V Caps -- astounding archive of hundreds of screen captures from the film


Anonymous r:

This is one of my favourite movies and one I'm always happy to recommend. I would disagree with you though and say it's very much a hipster movie. It’s all hips in fact, much like a pumpkin wearing a belt. It’s on par with other hipster favourite Withnail & I.

Entertaining Mr Sloane is a fab movie if you can find it. Wait a mo, it must have been finally released on a something other than many-times-handled-eBay-VHS (or MTHEVHS)

Thanks for the tangent!

8:36 pm  
Anonymous routard:

hey, I said that! :P

You know the wobbly writting you have to type in here before you post, the anti-spamming thing? Do you think it's sticking two fingers up at dyslexic webusers?

8:39 pm  

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05 February 2006

My Treasure

A few years ago I taught English at a Senior High School in Japan. A common class assignment was to write a few sentences in English about your most treasured posession. Naturally, almost all of the kids chose to write about the most mundane objects possible, in the most simple English possible. "My treasure is my soccer ball. I play soccer. I kick the ball. I want to win!!!" and "My treasure is my camera. May I take a picture? I love pictures!! My camera is very nice! My dream is to be a photographer. I will fight!" are two traditional arrangements.

In amongst a pile of students' past essays on the subject, I found a submission which immediately became my treasure.

My Treasure: Japanese student essay

Here's the text for you high-screen-resolution nuts:

"My treasure is a picture of my dog.
The dog's name is Taro.
I had had him since I was four years old.
But he had died of old age when I was in the ninth grade.
There are only two pictures of Taro for those eleven years.
So I think that I will take care of them."
Writing in a difficult foreign language can condense emotion and thought into a pure and unfiltered form. The results are often blunt and amusingly to-the-point ("Oh! You are very very thin!"), but on occasion they can break your heart.

Deep down, I think I'm a sentimental sap.


Blogger Spider-Sam:

You're a silly old sentimental sausage , T.L.

And that's why we love you

6:06 pm  
Anonymous Old Guy:

Sentimental, yes.

Sap, no. (At least, no more than I'd call myself a sap. Hmmm, ASAP?)

I felt the lad's pain. Losing a dog at that age is like losing your best friend. After all, who else would listen to him attentively as he expressed himself during to Taro during his formative years? Mom, certainly. Dad, perhaps. But Taro---for SURE!

Our dog yellow Lab, "Cookie", is now 9 and my 19-year-old son is wondering how much longer we can expect her to live. Cookie has been a wonderful "runner" since she was a pup. She still likes to show off her skill. But she's slowing down and I'm afraid we will have her only a couple more years, at best.

I feel sorry for my sons when the day comes that she has to be put down. She's been a great listener, even for me...

8:49 pm  

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03 February 2006

beget a painful wonder

a page from A Humument by Tom Phillips

A Tom Phillips micro-retrospective is coming up at the Ashmolean in Oxford, running from 9 February to 23 April. He's also giving a series of eight weekly lectures under the banner Making Art Work which will culminate in a musical performance of works by such luminaries as Brian Eno and Real Composers I Haven't Heard Of - see here for details.

Tom Phillips is perhaps best known as the creator of A Humument, an art book made from the painted-over pages of a forgotten nineteenth century novel called A Human Document. He describes it thus:

"I plundered, mined and undermined its text to make it yield the ghosts of other possible stories, scenes, poems, erotic incidents and surrealist catastrophes which seemed to lurk within its wall of words. As I worked on it, I replaced the text I'd stripped away with visual images of all kinds. I began to tell and depict, among other memories, dreams and reflections, the sad story of Bill Toge, one of love's casualties."

It is a genuinely beautiful, astounding and funny work of art. Come and see it at the Ashmolean, you leaf. Man-sized props to this dude for getting us hep to A Humument.

The Tom Phillips Web Site: writings, art and other kinds of good stuff
A HUMUMENT: online gallery of the first printed 1970 edition
Reincarnation - an altered book: someone else has a go


Blogger pinklefish:

Don't call me a leaf.

You toenail.

1:31 am  
Anonymous Kristen:

I love Tom Phillips' stuff. Have you tried giving an old book the Humumnent treatment? It's addictive - a black fineliner and a bumper pack of felt pens and you're away!

4:26 pm  

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01 February 2006

"She Brought Them Gumbo And A Coffin"

First new entry in a long time. Please forgive our tardy ways.

Now, on with the meat: I found my first ever BookCrossing book last week! The sticker on the title page reads:

Howdy! Hola! Bonjour! Guten Tag!
I'm a very special book. You see, I'm traveling around the world making new friends. I hope I've met another friend in you. Please go to and enter my BCID number. You'll discover where I've been and who has read me, and can let them know I'm safe here in your hands. Then... READ and RELEASE me!
We visited the site, and found that it had travelled in a package of books from the city of New Orleans. Here it is:

Voodoo in New Orleans, by Robert Tallant

Voodoo In New Orleans, by Robert Tallant. First published in 1946, but this copy is from 1974, and is subtitled "The bizarre practices of a strange and living cult - from Africa to practices of the present day." Mr. Tallant died in 1957.

We haven't yet read the book fully, but Myrtle and I have found some choice quotes to give a rough idea of what's inside:

"That Voodoo woman kept snakes and black cats, spiders and trained roosters and all sorts of other awful living creatures in that house."


"There was one rich family my mother knew who had a daughter who wanted to marry a man they didn't like. They went to Marie Laveau and paid her a lot of money and she promised to break up the affair. She took four pigeons and got 'em drunk and she wrote four letters and put one in each of the poor drunk pigeons' mouths. They flew away God knows where, and that boy and girl never did get married. Oh, she was an evil woman!"


"The chicken we found was a big rooster and it was all dressed up in a coat and pants, a hat, a collar and a tie. His legs was tied wit' about a hundred yards of white cord. On the tomb where he was, I found three nickels. I took that rooster home, but the poor thing died."

Most interesting to us so far is a merchant list of Voodoo supplies. Here are our top picks:

Drawing Powder
Cinammon Powder
Delight Powder
Yellow Wash
Van Van
Get Together Drops ($1)
Dice Special
War Water
Moving Powder
Draw Across Powder
Boss-Fix Powder (25¢)
Lucky Lucky Powder
Good Luck Drops
Mad Luck Drops
Extra Good Luck Drops
Fast Luck Drops
Luck Around Business
Robert Vinegar
Easy Life Powder ($2.50)
Lucky Jazz
Come To Me Powder
Mad Water
Mexican Luck
Angel's Delight (not this)
High John Root
As You Please Powder
Bend Over Oil
Goofer Dust (50¢)
Controlling Powder
Devil's Shoe Strings (25¢)
XXX³ Cross Powder
Lucky Floor Drops

Myrtle's favourite is Robert Vinegar. Immaturely, mine is Bend Over Oil. As a wild stab at interactivity, what's yours?

BookCrossing is a really great idea, and I'm thrilled to have become inadvertantly involved. I wonder who will be next to read about Marie Laveau and her dressed-up roosters?

Now, take this Goofer Dust and follow our links!

Great R. Tallant photographs from the New Orleans Public Library. answers some questions.
Buy Voodoo In New Orleans today, complete with ugly new cover!


Blogger pinklefish:

You can buy quite a few of those supplies in markets in parts of London. I've seen 'Come to me' powder!

11:08 am  
Anonymous Robert:

I have some Robert Vinegar if you'd like some. I will swap it for a quart of controlling powder.

2:49 pm  
Blogger pinklefish:


1:36 am  
Blogger han:

I'll have a quarter of Mad Luck drops!

12:33 am  
Anonymous routard:

Another excellent entry. My mate is a keen rambler but because he is under 35 he calls himself a nu-rambler ;) He has one of those sat-nav systems and the ramblers play a game where they bury a tin at particular co-ordinates and leave messages and things for other ramblers who find it. I’ll try and find out the name of it.

12:36 pm  

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