Monthly Archives: February 2007

Setsubun – the face smashing festival

Are you imagining that phrase? Now while keeping that image in your head, slowly replace those words until it becomes “like hurling heavy beanbags at immobile foreigners trapped in a crowd about 25 feet away from you from an elevated wooden platform.” And then add “oh and you’re a gigantic muscular sumo wrestler.” It was, as they say, all fun and games until someone got hurt, and that someone would have been the random old lady who took one to the dome with a rather sharp and alarming plastick-y “srrrMMMMGAAAACCCKKK!” as the beanbag caught her with a glancing blow to the temple. She stumbled back for a second, dazed and shell shocked, then bumped up against the chest of a larger guy behind her trapped by the surging crowd and could retreat no further. I watched as she valiantly tried to struggle to her feet only to catch another round straight in the forehead, chin snapped straight back from the force of the impact as she slowly sank into the murky darkness of the trampled ground below the crowd line, one hand upstretched piteously, palm splayed, grasping uselessly at the heavens, mouth echoing out its last plaintive gasp: “Damn you ….. beeeeaaaannnnnsss………”

A Panda in London (France Pt. II)

As you may recall from my last entry, the French have somewhat of a laissez-faire attitude towards things like immigration or knowing who’s in their country at any given time. In their opinion, procedures such as “passport control” or “customs” are really nothing more than minor irritants impinging upon their cigar-smoking, cheese-consuming time, not to be taken seriously, or perhaps even done away with all together if the fancy strikes.
The British, on the other hand, regard the question of knowing who’s entering their country as a matter of utmost import and accordingly, the immigrations queue for the train heading to London from France wound halfway down the terminal as at the head, friendly, but quite severe looking English inspectors dutifully examined, stamped and returned passports and papers all the while chatting to themselves in that delightfully undulating British accent that made the gate area sound very much like the opening scene from any Guy Ritchie film