gung-ho godzilla groupie 

Fictionsuit (singular)

Well that's a coincidence. No sooner do I blog about my ex-Fictionsuits partners in crime and what should I find on Misuba's homepage but his latest project, called, er... Fictionsuit. It's a collaborative-fictive community, and it's well worth a browse.

Posted by chris at 10:14 PM | Permalink

Fictionsuits archive - a retrospective

For a brief few months in 2001, I was part of a group blog, the Fictionsuits. It ran out of steam and we eventually dissolved the project, but for a while there it was a fun, lively little place, with some good writing (not my bits, so much) and some extremely heated arguments in the comments. Happy days.

Now that I'm re-launching Tokyo Tales, I thought I'd take the opportunity to re-publish the few pieces that I contributed to the original site, albeit stripped of the original visitor comments. They appear in the category Fictionsuits alongside any Tokyo Tales posts that I made at the time, pimping the group site.

The other writers were:

I saw Swerd most recently (and met Brian in the flesh for the first time) last year, as I tore through NYC on a 22-hour stopover; Ethan I haven't heard from since he was mid-way around the world on a cruise ship built entirely from bootstrapped Unix servers a couple of years ago, and Mike I have never actually met - he could be an AI construct for all I know. A canny bunch of f**kers, and good people to share a blog with. Cheers, fellas. <raises glass>

Posted by chris at 08:07 PM | Permalink


Ethan has returned from the sea, the Fictionsuits are finally full strength, and I think things are going to start hotting up over there at last - though that's my fault as least as much as anyone else's. Check out Swerd's latest post, and wade in on the comments board - it's time to start pimping (and writing for) this thing properly.

Posted by chris at 12:55 PM | Permalink


Things I found myself thinking about while on the treadmill at the gym this evening:

  1. 45 minutes at 14 km/h is three-quarters of 14 km which is 7 km plus 3.5 km which is 10.5 km

  2. 10.5 km is... um... divide by eight and multiply by five... one and a bit... 2.5 over 8 is five sixteenths, which is one sixteenth more than a quarter... 0.25 plus...uhh... half of an eighth.. 12.5 percent... 0.0625? that and a quarter is.... 1.3....1...25, multiply that by five... oh, shit...

  3. 10.5 km is a long way

  4. I'll do 50 minutes, not 45. I can take it.

  5. I'll do 45 minutes if I survive the next two

  6. I could just stop after 15 minutes and no-one would be any the wiser, would they?

  7. I can't believe I only looked at the timer 45 seconds ago

  8. that guy really needs to wear looser-fitting shorts
You can read a little about why the hell I'm subjecting myself to this here.

Posted by chris at 12:19 AM | Permalink

Three and a half hours at twelve kilometers an hour

Note: The following post first appeared on [?]. Reproduced here with one edit for a since-expired link, and without original comments.

Boring! So damn boring! God, I remember why I let my gym membership lapse now. I need an MP3 player, preferably solid-state but with a huge amount of drum'n'bass and Richie Hawtin on it, *now*. Actually, I needed it earlier this evening, about 7:30 pm, when I started walking on the spot, then striding on the spot, then jogging half-heartedly on the spot, then finally really running on, surprise surprise, the damned spot, a state in which I remained for another 45 minutes: welcome to Treadmill Hell.

I have to remind myself why I'm doing this; it's because, of course, I'm insane. No, hang on, I'm sure that wasn't it.... which is undoubtedly why I need reminding every now and then. The whole point is that I want to do a marathon. Soon. Why? Because it's there, of course... oh, no, hang on - that's mountain climbing, isn't it? Yeah.

It's because I think I could. In fact, screw it, I know I could. I'm pretty sure I could do one tomorrow, actually, as long as by "do one" you meant shamble round the course at slightly faster than walking speed for just over five hours, stopping perhaps to vomit occasionally and asking those guys on the camera motorbikes for a lift.

But I'm not going to do that. No. Because that would be a half-arsed way of doing it, and there's little point in building yourself up psychologically for something like running a marathon, climbing a mountain or setting fire to your own house to claim it on the insurance, and then just scraping through it. If I'm going to commit arson and insurance fraud, metaphorically speaking, I damn well want the place razed to the ground and to stumble, blinking and coughing, out of the rubble with at least a minor (but convincing) case of smoke inhalation.

Here's the maths: one marathon = 26.2 miles / 42.2 km - call it 42 km for simplicity's sake. 42 km is the equivalent of:
a) 10 km/h for 4 hours 12 minutes
b) 10.5 km/h for 4 hours
c) 12 km/h for 3 hours 30 minutes
d) 14 km/h for 3 hours
and I reckon option (c) ought to be achievable. I'm already running at 14 km/h for 45 minutes without much problem - apart from the DAMN TEDIUM OF IT ALL, THAT IS... ahem - sorry. I need to get that up to at least an hour at the same kind of speed, three times a week. Then try for longer. And longer. The problem is that treadmills don't work so well for distance targets - you picks yer speed, and off you go. So I'll have to build up a ton of hourage, rather than mileage.

And that's it: three and a half hours of running at 12 km/h in, say, six month's time. Three and a half hours. One quarter of a flight from Tokyo to London. The period of time from arriving at the office to wondering where to go for lunch. Seven episodes of Blackadder or Fawlty Towers. Doesn't sound so bad when you put it like that, does it?

The only problem, apart from blisters, shin splints, ingrowing toenails, muscle cramps, inflamed tendons, dehydration, dizzyness and possible heart failure, the *only* problem apart from all that is the boredom of all the training. It's not much of a hobby, when you think about it. Running. Running for a bus is one thing - you have the thought, "oh shit oh shit oh shit shit shit I'm gonna miss the bus oh shit..." at the forefront of your mind, with either a "phew!" or a "crap!" appended, depending on how things turn out. It's hardly the dreaded wall, now, is it? But running for three or four hours against the better judgement of every sinew in your body? It's different. Difficult. A mental challenge. Which is, as I think I'm beginning to realise, why I'm going to do it.

I don't want to do this because I want another hobby; I'm not planning to do one because I want to end up the kind of person who runs marathons for fun, who flirts with the idea of moving on to triathlons and ultra-distance running, or who sits around discussing his personal best with other runners. Not at all. I want to be the kind of person who ran a marathon once because he wanted to see how hard it was, because he wanted the t-shirt - even if it was only so he could hide it at the back of his wardrobe. I want to do it precisely because I want to *prove* that I can do it.

Which is why I'm only going to do it once. Train for the next six months, do the damn thing, then stop. Never go near a treadmill again as long as I live. Stick to real-world cycling and the odd multi-gym contraption for exercise. Start fencing again. Develop other hare-brained schemes. Not boast about having run a marathon. Do other things. Prove other things.

And occasionally, just occasionally, I'll get the secret t-shirt out from the back of the wardrobe and wear it... but only when no-one else is around.

What's your secret t-shirt going to say?

Posted by chris at 07:05 PM | Permalink

Please turn off your cellphones for the duration of today's feature

Note: The following post first appeared on [?]. Reproduced here in full but without original comments.

I know it's been said to death but admit it: you couldn't help but reference the events of last week via special effect-laden movies such as Die Hard or The Siege, could you? It's hardly surprising, really - after all, how often do we see this kind of thing in real life? Hardly bloody ever, thank god.

I suppose that one danger with subconciously registering this spectacular as the opening scene of a billion-dollar blockbuster is that we've come to expect happy endings by the time we get to the bottom of our popcorn buckets. Easily-defined enemies, a daring plan, snappy dialogue, gung-ho heroics and possibly a bit of personal sacrifice on the way to a climactic retribution, soot-blackened faces, a satisfying resolution and the closing theme music.

Bush is certainly working on the first three, but how far will we get with the remaining plot devices? Is this going to be a Bruckheimer, a Spielberg or a Malick?

But anyway. The reason I brought you all here tonight was to point you towards this excellent New Yorker article, from a film critic's perspective. Touching and genuine, the first piece I've read that adresses the undeniable cinematic angle so eloquently, while rooting the tragedy very firmly in the real world, where it undeniably belongs. (via, as always)

Then you might go and watch this and this. And then this, I suppose, if you really must; just don't be surprised if things don't turn out quite that way.

Posted by chris at 07:28 PM | Permalink

Not to scale

Note: The following post first appeared on [?]. Reproduced here in full but without original comments.

The Japanese need for context, the desire to have things explained to them in a precise, detailed manner, manifests itself in some odd ways sometimes. Few TV news features, for example, are complete without one of the presenters holding up a little placard bearing some important statistics, which they then have to hold steady as the camera zooms in on it.

It's not that they can't, or don't, use digital graphics, it's just that sometimes they feel the need to make the presentation of this information more personal, more involved; they'd rather hold the viewer's hand and talk them through something, pointing out the salient bits along the way. Hence the subtitles (yes, in Japanese) on every late-night variety show, making sure that no-one misses a single joke, that everyone shares the experience, that no-one is left behind.

I used to think it was odd; now I just think it's Japanese.

All the same, last week's mission on the part of the TV networks to explain the events of Tuesday to the masses left me a little shocked.

One of the networks on Wednesday used an intricate little desktop model of the World Trade Center complete with scale-model 767s on stalks, which they manoevered, by hand, up to the sides of the buildings. The aircraft nudged lamely to a stop and I noticed, with a mixture of approval and despair, that they'd set the heights of the stalks to correspond to the exact heights of the collisions. Christ, why not go the whole hog? If only they'd bothered to make the towers out of paper, they could have had the planes actually ripping into the interiors of the skyscrapers. Thank god, though, that they stopped short of rigging up pyrotechnics, or pushing scale-model people out of the windows of the immolated floors in their quest to elucidate.

Not to be outdone, one of the other networks followed that the next night with seven-foot-tall models of the towers on the studio floor, with the relevant scorched storeys painted black. Fair enough, they were detailing the respective locations of the many Japanese banks located in the building, a number of whom lost staff in the attack, but still - do you really need a walk-through model to accomplish that?

But the piece de resistance was the network which put a female "reporter" (one of the ones that don't do any actual reporting) in a flight training simulator, the kind that are mounted on massive hydraulic jacks (I'm talking about the simulator now, not the reporter), and had her fly a virtual 767 into a building. Twice. She hit the first one okay but fell short of the second one, grunting as she tugged at the controls and then giggling at her own ineptitude as the plane ploughed into the ground. I will admit that I started, briefly, thinking "Oh, that's a good idea", until I was suddenly overtaken by an angry desire to throw the fucking TV out of the fucking window.

Insensitive? Or just another example of cultural differences? Bit of both, I guess. Maybe I'm all wrong, and there's nothing odd in any of this, but I'm sure that kind of reporting would bring immediate outrage back home or in the States. Someone please tell me I'm mistaken, and that Channel 4 News had Jon Snow throwing airfix jumbo jets at a model of the Pentagon?

Posted by chris at 06:47 PM | Permalink

Rejection Club

Swerd has written an ace piece on rejection, over at Fictionsuits. I'm starting to get excited about the whole group blog thing, now. Looks like it might... just.... work...

Posted by chris at 02:08 PM | Permalink

We are the Fictionsuits

Wasn't so bad today, actually. I feel no need at present to vent about Tuesday's move, which means you are spared the story of our company's Covert Operations Directorate, which seems to be staffed entirely by wizened OAP gentlemen in casual clothes and bum bags. It can wait.

And it's finally time for me to come clean and 'fess up: I have joined a group blog. Yes indeed; we are the Fictionsuits. We will probably take some time to get into our stride, but we're taking no prisoners. It's going to be interesting to see whether I develop distinct styles for the two (Tokyo Tales / Fictionsuits) - interesting for me as a writer, anyway, but quite possibly more like dental surgery for you as an audience. Open wide, anyway.

Apart from giving me a chance to find out what Greymatter can do and forcing me to dig out awful photos of myself in bad suits, It's probably most worthwhile for introducing you to four other fine young men: Swerd, Ethan, Doc and Misuba, all of whom are more than worthy of a share of your Webattention.

Posted by chris at 03:03 AM | Permalink

Time to wade in

Note: The following post first appeared on [?]. Reproduced here in full but without original comments.

Enter the fifth suit. I had to be the last to post, really - not so much because I enjoy having everyone's attention as I make my dramatic and fashionably late entrance to the party, like I was walking onto a yacht, my hat strategically dipped below one eye, my scarf it was apricot... sorry, got distracted there for a second... but more to do instead with my shocking ability to prevaricate like it's going out of fashion.

Which leads us to an interesting corollary: by the time I actually post this, it may well have done.

You can only prevaricate so long, of course, before "fashionably late" becomes "turning up just as the booze runs out". In the realm of a blog, supposedly the distillation of Web publishing into its purest, most instantly gratifiable form (until we all have FTP clients installed on our wristwatches - or, better still, Web servers embedded in our skulls), does pre-post-polishing even have a place? Which is better, post-haste posting or prior preparation and preening?

a) You should act, and act now. Carpe the diem, the noctum, and everything inbetween. In fact, screw it - carpe anything you can get your hands on that ends with the letter "m". Now. Don't look back, don't look forward, just look at the present as it's all any of us really have. If you must look back, then it's better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven't done. Try, fail, and try again. And again. Better yet, try, succeed, and suceed again. Even better still, try not (you don't need no green latex goblin in a swamp to tell you that there is no "try") - just do . Do everything you've always wanted to before Swerd's ice cream truck gets you, as life after death is, in all likelihood, a lot like actually being dead.

b) Look before you leap. Fools rush in. It's better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven't done unless the something you have done is get a couple of your friends killed because you all thought it would be a good idea to carpe that stolen Porsche for a joyride on a whim, even if whim does end in "m". It's a bad idea to charge in half-baked, ride a motorcycle half-cut, or take hard drugs half-heartedly. Afraid you'll fuck up? Yeah, well, your chances are greatly increased if you do something ill-considered. So step back, sit down, breathe deeply. Look around, look back, look ahead. Take your time, take it slow, prepare carefully so that when you do arrive, you arrive ready and you arrive well.

Your turn, reader. (a) or (b)? No half-way, no "it depends" or "a bit of both", no sliding scale. You cannot phone a friend. Which are you - do you take the plunge, or do you play it safe, and does your strategy serve you well? Polarize, people. Me? I think it's about time I learnt how to hotwire a Porsche.

Posted by chris at 07:22 PM | Permalink

May 2007
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    


Categories Archives Recent Entries

Syndicate this site (XML)



Gallery [at]


The Kanji SITE

Jeffrey's J-E Dictionary
Moji (Firefox plug-in)
Babel Fish Translation

Disperse peacefully

an englishman in osaka
arakawa riverview
boing boing
geisha asobi
gen kanai
hanzi smatter
joi ito
melissa havergal
metroblogging tokyo
ninja polymath blues
sushi zume
tokyo times
undercover in japan
[not blogs:]
tokyo clubs info
tokyo food page
tokyo art beat
superfuture tokyo
tokyo train routefinder
the japan times
japan today

Flash design by

[disable Flash banner?]

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from chris_san tagged with fbadge. Make your own badge here.

Hosted by


Powered by

Movable Type 3.2