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November 2010
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Ten Japanese Movies I Somehow Missed In 2010

I've used the caption 'my girl loligoth' before, I thinkI think this website's commitment to Japanese cinema has been pretty well established by now. Compared with some others, though, I'm just a rank amateur. If you're curious about what sort of movies are being released in Japan both now and in the near future, then one of the best resources is Nippon Cinema, Kevin Ouelette's splendid blog accumulating news, gossip and copious links to trailers.

But even Ouelette had to admit recently that Logboy had out-geeked him. Logboy has been keeping comprehensive records of domestic releases, and at the end of the year he's produced a list of every Japanese film released in the country in 2010, complete with bilingual titles and links to official sites. If you have even the faintest interest in Japanese cinema, you could spend ages happily clicking through all those links discovering about movies that will never see the light of day over here, and revelling in the joy of only having visual cues to tell you what the hell's going on.

Well, that's what I've been doing over the last couple of days, anyway. If nothing else, it's forced The Belated Birthday Girl to teach me the Japanese for 'trailer' so I don't have to keep asking her to show me where the video clips are on these sites. (It's 予告篇 if that's any help to you.) In a way, it's like being in a video shop in the mid-eighties - you're attracted by the most lurid titles and outrageous imagery. Here are ten that particularly caught my eye.

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Spank Gold Volumes 1a/2a/3a/4a/5a/6a: The Digital Editions

Note the rare version of Spank's LFF Diaries Volume Two with the badly cropped title panel. It was about a year ago that I announced the publication of my first book, Monkey Round The World, in a desperate attempt to grant some degree of permanence to the nonsense I spout off here on a regular basis. Throughout 2010, I've added more books to the range, so that I now have six of them in total, all available from the good people at lulu.com.

And now, bringing the whole thing full circle, you can also buy them in digital form, so they can be read on the electronic device of your choice. As long as that electronic device supports PDF format, of course.

So. Have you bought someone a Kindle for Christmas, but don't have anything for them to read on it? Or have you left it far too late to buy them anything, unless it was something that could be instantly transferred by email? Or maybe you're looking for a present for someone in a coma who's not likely to wake up till at least the second week of January 2011? In that latter case, maybe you could order them the paper versions of my books, as they still take a couple of weeks to turn around. Otherwise, why not consider a PDF of one of my books, each currently available for a measly four quid? Full details of all six books are below.

Merry Christmas! All major credit cards accepted.

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Simian Substitute Site for December 2010: Santa Claus' Story (aka Monkey Christmas)

Santa Claus' StoryMONTH END PROCESSING FOR NOVEMBER 2010

Books: Jim Bob from Carter USM has written a novel, and it's great. Storage Stories has a vaguely autobiographical bent to it, given that its protagonist is a pop star who isn't quite as famous as he used to be. In a series of short vignettes, we meet the various people he encounters in his job as the manager of a self-storage facility. Plenty of jokes and smart wordplay as you'd expect from Jim Bob, but there's a real heart in there as well, along with some charmingly slapdash illustrations which bring to mind Kurt Vonnegut's doodles in Breakfast Of Champions. Alternatively, you can get my own best-selling* book Monkey Round The World at a 10% discount if you buy it before December 15th 2010, by entering coupon code GIFT305 at the checkout.

Telly: I've been rewatching old episodes of the 1982 TV show Police Squad, following this week's news of the death of Leslie Nielsen. It just might be his best work, I think. Made by the Airplane! team a couple of years after their cinema hit, it tried to apply the same scattergun gag-a-second approach to the cop show format, and died on its arse after a mere six episodes. These days, of course, we know it better as the early development stage of what became the Naked Gun movie franchise. Except Police Squad does it better, because it shows Nielsen doing the thing that all the obituaries have praised him for: playing his role completely straight no matter how ridiculous the comedy gets. By the time of The Naked Gun, he's become convinced that he's a Comedy Actor, and spends all his time gurning and pratfalling like there's no tomorrow. The deadpan approach suited him better, and it's a shame he gave it up at the tail end of his career. Seeing as everyone else has been quoting Nielsen lines all week as if he wrote the bloody things, here's my favourite exchange from Police Squad.

Travel: As I mentioned back in the LFF Wrap Party, I spent a week in Gibraltar recently. Aside from the monkey pictures that I quietly hid inside the article, what else is there to recommend? Well, I stayed at the Eliott Hotel, having picked up a spectacularly good deal online from MyGibraltar - six nights for three hundred quid, the only downside being that I would have had to pay over a third of that again to use their wi-fi. (Happily, there are plenty of bars and restaurants which offer it for free.) Most of the social activity is based around the King's Bastion Leisure Centre, which includes a perfectly fine pair of cinemas that only cost a fiver to get into. Nice places to eat include Cafe Rojo (a rare bit of class in Irish Town - who would have thought a street full of badly-lit fake Irish pubs would be so dispiriting?), the quayside delights of Waterfront (although The Belated Birthday Girl was horrified by my tales of chicken stuffed with black pudding and wrapped in ham), and the cheerful little pizzeria Mamma Mia which you pass on the way to the fabulous cable car ride up to the Barbary Apes. Most mind-blowing discovery of the trip: Gibraltar is so small that the approach road to the airport and the runway are on a level crossing.

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