Monday, February 13, 2012

Booked #63

I usually try to keep this blog at an arm's length from my ulterior activities with writing and muzak - usually, but occasionally I fail. This is going to be one of those times, and apologies if you want to debunk the posting since it's hardly focused on Japan at all.

Over in the USA there's a highly-esteemed weekly podcast called Booked, in which two avid readers (Robb Olson and Livius Nedin) review and discuss books (mostly noir), conduct author interviews, and make recommendations for good books they’ve read. Their goal, they say, is to deliver book reviews by everyday readers, for everyday readers.

They've previously overseen tomes by Caleb J. Ross and interviewed Allan Guthrie and Gordon Highland.

For Episode #63 however, which just aired, they set their sights on my novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. In fact they spend the first 28 minutes of the podcast doing an analysis/review. Obviously, I'm pretty darned chuffed (actually, I'd steer towards "decked").

These guys just rocked my little world.

You can tune in or download this podcast here, if you're at all curious. Regardless, Booked is a cool, laid back show helmed by two guys who are passionate about the page, and I highly recommend you bookmarking (boom-boom!) their website.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Odd Bedfellows on a Plate – Part 2

As I mentioned in the first part of this article back in December, Japanese food isn’t just about the sushi.

Or the fugu.

There’s a whole lot more, starting with the biggest meal of all – that consumed by... the sumo.

Sumo is one of Japan’s more internationally famous sports, probably because the spectacle of two exceptionally plump men – in a nation of exceptionally skinny people – wrestling one another, clad only in loin-cloths is, well, fascinating.

Sumo wrestlers would be nothing without their diet, though we do dangle the word “diet” here in an ironic sense.

Chanko-nabe is the food of the sumo. It’s a huge, simmering hot-pot that is chock-full of meat, fish and vegetables, best mixed with soy sauce, but sometimes also blended with mirin, miso, sake, and dashi stock (shavings of dried skipjack tuna mixed with edible kelp).

Leftover broth is often then consumed with a hefty plate of noodles.

It’s as highly nutritious in protein as it is gut busting, and is the principle dish gorged by sumo wrestlers to extend their hefty waistlines and add to already-impressive girths.

Some wrestlers enjoy the concoction so much that they quit the ring and instead become the chanko-cho, or chief chanko chef, for their wrestling stables, and eventually open their own restaurants – often with sumo memorabilia from their workhorse days adorning the walls.

READ MORE @ FORCES OF GEEK, with commentary from Japanese DJ/producers DJ Wada, Jin Hiyama & Lili Hirakawa.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Long in the Roof

Is this old? ...yes, it is bloody archaic!

This is the oldest abode I've yet discovered in Tokyo, a tumbling down hovel I accidentally discovered today in someone's enormous backyard in Ōokayama - yep, the same wonderland I explored in my last entry (see below).

I had to climb a fence and was harassed by an over-friendly Corgi "guard-dog" (it made me wonder if Queen Liz was in town), but was able to rattle off a few pics.