A Bit of Seriousness…Again?!?!


It is with deep sorrow, and a little fear as I clutch my Michael Kiwanuka tickets for tomorrow, that I extend my condolences to the people of London, Manchester and Manila. The threat of terrorism is unfortunately an uncomfortable reality that hangs over high-profile, popular events and locations. We should be able to gather for work and enjoy entertainment without fear that we may not return home. I’m not going to leave this post up long…I’ll probably delete it soon because I don’t want to dwell on dark topics…but I wanted to express sympathy to those of you who may have been affected, or know someone who was.

It’s not something new. It’s been present in our literature, cinema and art for longer than Guy Fawkes masks have been around. Thomas Harris’s first book wasn’t about Hannibal Lector; it was a 1975 thriller about the race to stop a blimp from bombing the Super Bowl.

Throughout my childhood, the specter of hijackings hanged over the act of flying but the first time terrorism really registered as something in my consciousness occurred as a kid, visiting London in the 80s at the end of the Troubles, when unable to return to our hotel because of a bomb threat. Then, during high school, the attacks in Oklahoma City and at our own Olympic Games in Atlanta captured our attention. And though I knew about it, the sarin attack in Tokyo occurred but the gravity and reality of it didn’t really hit me until I found myself in Kasumigaseki station many years later.

The events of September 11th didn’t really surprise me. I had been in the lounge at the top of one of the towers of the World Trade Center 6 months before, watching the birds circling below my feet and wondering what would happen if a plane was lost in the city. It had happened before, and it has happened since. Usually by accident, but it wasn’t hard to imagine an event where it wasn’t. And over the past 18 years, whether it be Bangkok, or Nairobi, or Paris with frustrating regularity there seems to be another attack which has me concerned about friends I met at that location, or family I know who frequent it, or friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends.

I work in DC, next to the Navy Yard, and was at work when a laid off contractor slipped through security and killed 13 people, one of whom had been evacuated but succumbed to his injuries in front of the CVS. We were locked down that day, just as our kids were last year when a divorced security guard started killing random people in parking lots around Montgomery County. That reminded my neighbors of the heightened fears during the DC sniper events since one of the shootings occurred at the gas station a block from here. I’m pretty jaded now.

It is madness, and I offer no advice or answers. I have none. I can only offer my sympathy and hope that this last one was the last one.

Where Has Sumo Gone? – Jungyo! (巡業)


For international Sumo fans, it’s a long wait between the end of the Nagoya basho and the September basho in Tokyo. but in the 2 months between tournaments, for those in Japan, Sumo goes on tour! Referred to as Jungyo (巡業 – Literally, to “make the rounds”), each day  consists of exhibition matches, training sessions demonstrating how Sumotori work out, and sessions where local children square off against Rikishi for fun and entertainment.

The schedule includes a slapstick Sumo bout called “Shokkiri” (しょっきり), which seems to be straight out of the 3 Stooges in places.

These tours in between tournaments helps raise public awareness of Sumo and build the audience for the sport.  It appears to be working, as the popularity of Sumo has risen in Japan during the past few years.

The Sato-Shuffle


Screenshot (168)Kisenosato surprised the world with his dodge of Kotoshogiku. Well, forgive the hyperbole but he sure surprised me…dunno about you all. He’s getting close and yusho talk is picking up. The last time he was 9-0, he actually kept winning until Day 14 when Hakuho put an end to his yusho hopes. He finished 13-2 behind Hakuho’s zensho yusho. This time, though, Hakuho is already one loss back.

But obviously they’ve got several fights before a potential showdown with the yusho on the line. Hakuho will face a weakened Terunofuji who had his hands full of Toyonoshima. Kisenosato will face a Kakuryu hoping for redemption from getting bounced by Goeido of all people. Goeido secured his kachi-khoshi and stays in the yusho mix, tied with Hakuho.

Sadly, Ikioi fell one more loss off pace in an entertaining bout with Harumafuji. No words are needed. The picture below summarizes the bout brilliantly:

Screenshot (167)
Harumafuji (L) vs Ikioi (R)

NekoDamashi x2 + Henka = Angry Japanese Press


Okay, the hilarious Hakuho/Tochiozan match had more going on than I noticed when I watched this morning. I obviously saw the henka but I didn’t notice the hand-clapping. The clap is called neko damashi. Mainoumi, who is frequently the Japanese commentator for NHK, was famous for this move. Apparently the Japanese media is all aflutter because they think the trick is not becoming of a yokozuna, nevermind the fact that he did it twice and topped that with a henka.

Mainoumi could get away with it because he was tiny and needed to pull out all the stops to succeed. This is another bit of silliness.

November 2015: Kakuryu Falls


Kakuryu fell to Goeido in the final match and biggest upset of the day. Previously, Hakuho’s failed henka was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. Tochiozan stopped his momentum before falling out, so Hakuho had to run over and shove him a few times to get him out of the ring.

After Shohozan’s loss to Ikioi, Takayasu’s loss to Kyokushuho, and Kisenosato’s loss to Toyonoshima (arguably a bigger upset than Goeido over Kakuryu), Harumafuji stands as the lone competition trailing Hakuho who still controls his own destiny. If Harumafuji wins out, including victories over Hakuho, he will win the tournament.