Posts from 8th May 2004

May 04


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 383 views

HOLY SHIT IT’S A NEW ARTICLE! – FT is proud to present publogger William Crump’s write-up and photo-log of his night out at Morimoto, the self-named restaurant of the Iron Chef star.

Sumo in crisis

TMFDPost a comment • 158 views

Sumo in crisis

I’d not been able to see any sumo wrestling since ITV Digital went under a couple of years back. I’ve had Sky now for five months, and there was no sign of it – I thought maybe it wasn’t on any channels I have. But then this weekend it shows up on British Eurosport, which has made me pretty happy.

It’s a widely misunderstood sport, often caricaturized as a couple of hugely fat men smacking into each other’s bellies. My last post here was about old British wrestling, and that was indeed all you got from Big Daddy, but it’s not something you actually see much of in sumo. The average weight for sumo’s top division is almost exactly Big Daddy’s weight, in fact. But the big difference is in the athleticism. These huge men may not look like athletes in any other realm, but their strength, speed, balance and skill are all very impressive. And there are many different ways of fighting: I think my favourite two, both ozeki rank (with only the single current yokozuna Asashoryu above them), make a nice contrast. Chiyotaikai, a protege of certainly the greatest I ever saw, Chiyonofuji, who was the best belt wrestler ever, is a bulldog-like character who launches from the squat with mighty thrusts up at the throat and jaw, one hand then the other, until the opponent’s head is forced back and up, at which point he is generally knocked over or out of the ring. Kaio is the other interesting character: an erratic fighter at times (he’s said to be a very heavy drinker – and I can barely imagine what counts as heavy drinking for men built on this scale – which sometimes leads to a lacklustre showing, and his occasional threats towards becoming a yokozuna have never quite worked out), but with immense strength, and seeing him grasp the belt and throw a fighter down dismissively is one of the great sights in the sport.

But sumo has a big problem nowadays. Its popularity is slipping in Japan, and this seems to be because there haven’t been many great Japanese sumo recently: Takanohana was the last Japanese yokozuna (‘supreme champion’) and he had a troubled time with the other two yokozuna at the time, the colossal Musashimaru and Akebono (he was 6’9, 40 stone), both foreigners, both generally finishing ahead of Takanohana. Asashoryu looks very good right now (and has won 28 bouts in a row as I write this, an outstanding record), but he is Mongolian. Sumo may have lost its grip in Japan, but I think it still has a special place in their zeitgeist, and they don’t like it that the biggest and best have been foreigners. The top (makuuchi) division has a couple of other Mongolians and the first ever European (a Georgian) to reach so high, and none of the four ozeki look to be on the verge of earning yokozuna status right now (though this is based on a brief snapshot after some time away, so I could be wrong). A more global intake is surely a good thing, but the Japanese really need a new national star to rise to the top, and very soon.

“A compromise would be nice

Do You SeePost a comment • 341 views

“A compromise would be nice but in establishing factors for canonicity we cannot bend.”

Thus spake the self-appointed arbiter of what may constitute a proper Doctor Who story. The only reason I found myself reading this was to see what the popular opinion is as to whether Paul McGann is generally accepted to be the eigth doctor, of if Christopher Eccleston’s stories will ignore him. I had some vague awareness that there are fans who take this seriously, but GOOD GALLIFREY I didn’t reckon on this. A twenty three page essay with footnotes.

And what prompted his unwillingness to compromise? It was the lovely and appalling K9 and Company, which apparently almost counts, because it was made by the BBC with the characters from Doctor Who, following a Doctor Who story and is refered to in other Doctor Who stories (well, The Five Doctors, but that’s still more than none).

BUT! It does not have the words ‘Doctor Who’ in its title, and so therefore, no matter how much evidence is weighed in its favour, it can under no circumstances be considered a part of Doctor Who continuity. Sorry, that’s it. Final. Fails the second law of canonicity. Nothing he can do. Hands are tied.

So what of the Doctor Who movie? Apparently it would only be considered canonical if it had become a series, but it didn’t and so it isn’t, although if it does then it will.

Funny, that sounds like a bit of a compromise to me.

A dirty job so HERE I AM!!

Do You SeePost a comment • 204 views

A dirty job so HERE I AM!!

Of the original six only one (by some way the least repellent, I always felt) has ended up w.someone outside the original six – that boringly nice and blah guy who in this ep talked her OUT of her proposed comedy namechange (a namechange which wz funny cz of Kudrow’s timing and sheer glee). It’s telling that Phoebe’s strand here was the least meh (though its closure wz yuck). OK Rachel wz dumped by Ralph Lauren and rejected by Gucci, but is just abt to start dating Bloomingdales Paris ‘ so how’s that a change? The others all have their pathologies intact, and unexamined as such (well, I guess at a stretch you could argue that Joey’s endshot phonecall w.the eight-year-old girl was a subterranean critique of the roots of his sexuality…) Longrunning series endings on TV are hard, bcz they have to acknowledge a reality outside the Shaping McGuffin (Buffy’s wz of course exemplary ‘ the entire final series devoted to exploration of how the characters realise, react to and transform the McGuffin). The underlying engine of Friends wz basically ‘Afraid of being nothing much yrself? = it’s OK to laugh at outsiders as scary weirdos’ ‘ and within this fairly hateful ambit it was always well-written. But the ‘hasn’t been yr month or even yr year’ rang more and more hollow as their upscale comfort-bubble grew ever more cushioned. Seinfeld w.Hugs and Learning, to spell it out ‘ and these guys had several years to build on the lesson of how Seinfeld ended. OK bored now.