Plain Talk


Norms and mutants by Grant Piper

Tokyo's underground is very extensive. Subway stations are generally very clean, well maintained, are outfitted with modern equipment designed to streamline and enable the immense commuter flow, and at major commuter hubs the underground concourses spread and connect with each other such that, if you are lucky, on a rainy day, or during a typhoon or snow storm a person can spend most of the day under a roof, without having to go outside into the elements.

Often when I am commuting I play an imaginary game with myself. (More than one, actually. If I am not reading or sleeping on the trains and subways then I am usually fantasizing stuff.) While I’m walking through stations and seeing how they are built and connected, how deep they go, how many basement levels, how many pillars they possess to support the streets and buildings above, how long the connecting underground corridors are and how they are built, how many exits there are and where they are situated I imagine American soldiers fighting Japanese in the city in 1945 one neighborhood at a time - at a very great cost in human lives, of course - even one subway station at a time. How would they advance? How would they take advantage of the pillars and other obstacles? Where would they take cover and how would they advance across open spaces? How would they safely and effectively gain entrance through stairwells and penetrate the tunnels? How could defenders stall them? Where are the best ‘kill zones’? Where are good places to set traps, and what kind of traps would they be? What would the price be in dead and wounded to advance from here to there under fire?

Then I renovate the game into a “Beneath to the Planet of the Apes (1970)” kind of thing (except without the apes) and imagine a post-apocalypse world in which no human life remains on the surface, and all the survivors are taking refuge and living in old urban subway tunnels. I imagine ‘normal’ humans, or Norms living in the deeper tunnels safe from radiation, and radiation-damaged Mutants occupying the tunnels and spaces closer to the surface. Everyone lives entirely underground, and every night - it has to be at night - they battle each other (like the 1945 advancing American soldiers scenario) with antique and rudimentary weapons for control of the tunnels and stations, to expand their territories until, finally, there are little kingdoms of warlord-led Norms and Mutant in the old subway system trying to exterminate each other. I don't know why they should want to exterminate each other. That’s not part of the story.

I have an active imagination.

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If you are an aspiring musician or just a hobbyist that wants to train / put their perfect pitch to the test, this app turns it all into a game. It plays you a tone and asks you to guess it; guess wrong 3 times and it's game over. Unfortunately, the sounds are just a sine, which is not really optimal for musicians − a sampled piano, guitar, etc. would be better, so it would train the ear to listen for overtones as well, but even just with sine, you can practice for your next Karaoke night!


Tokyo Voice Column


How to Watch American Football in Japan by R.C. Dilan

So you've moved to Japan; you're happy, and content living in a country with edible sushi at convenience stores and no Donald Trump. But, if you’re from the U.S., and like me, Japan lacks something you desperately need, football. Not the one actually played with feet, but the one where giant me run into each other like crash test dummies.

The schedule for NFL games is pretty easy to figure out; prior to November 6th, most games start Monday mornings at 2:00 or 5:00, after they start at 3:00 or 6:00; while it is early, it`s consistent. NCAAF is tough, because they start anytime. Sunday, my University of Washington Huskies crushed Rutgers at 3:00AM, next week it's 6:00, and the week after TBD.

The real challenge is the how.
Here are a few of the ways I think are the best:

Reddit: Just google Reddit and the game you want to watch. It works for both NCAAF and NFL, there are a lot of bad feeds, but you find really good ones eventually.

Slingbox: If a family member in the States has a Slingbox (or similar product) you can access their TV from your computer or iPad. It works well, and you can record the game to watch later.

NFL GamePass: If you can afford it, this is the best. It’s expensive (27,645 YEN/calendar year), but the picture is clear, the feed is consistent, and if you miss the game live you can replay it anytime you want.

The paid services for NCAAF are terrible, and some aren't even available in Japan; the others only have a limited amount of games.


NFL(ナショナル・フットボール・リーグ)の試合スケジュールは明快だ。11月6日までの大部分の試合が月曜日朝の2時か5時に始まる。3時か6時の開始後は一環している。NCAAF (全米大学体育協会主催フットボール)の開始時間がわからず、厄介だ。僕の母校ワシントン大学ハスキーズとラトガース大学との対戦は3時に始まったが、次の週は6時からだ、さらに次の週は未定、決まり次第発表だ。




NFL ゲームパス:27645円払う事ができるなら、これがベストだろう。高いけれど、高画質で映像にぶれはない。ライブの試合を見逃しても、見たい時に試合がオンデマンドで観戦できる。


Strange but True


Little Bear or Gremlin?

An adorable tot has been nicknamed Baby Bear due to his incredible bouffant mane that he is sporting at just eight weeks old. Mum-of-three Chelsea Noon, 32, says shocked passers-by often stare at her little man Junior and a trip to the supermarket now involves a minefield of questions from curious shoppers. And while she says Junior looks like a little bear most of the time - she admits he is more like a gremlin when he gets cross. The doctors are amazed and said they have never seen a baby with so much hair in all the time they have been working. Everyone’s shocked. But former hairdresser Chelsea has no plans to give Junior’s distinctive hair a chop any time soon.

Changing your profession soon?

A puzzle fan was left devastated after completing the world's biggest jigsaw only to discover four of its 33,600 pieces were missing. Jeremy Baker-Deam, from the Isle of Wight, said it was a huge blow to find several bits were missing from the epic jungle scene - which measures 5.7 metres long by 1.57 metres tall and took more than a year to complete. He built it in sections, with parts put together in different rooms around his house in Ryde. The manufacturers were only able to help after he provided grid references for the absent pieces. Despite his impressive efforts, Mr Baker-Deam is not sitting back just yet. He has already started work on the world's second largest jigsaw, which is a mere 32,000 pieces. "My aim is to complete the ten largest jigsaw puzzles in the world, I expect it will take me ten years - my family think I'm mad, they keep on saying 'rather you than me'," he said.


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