Author

By In book review

Book Review: ME by Tomoyuki Hoshino

“The title of Tomoyuki Hoshino’s new novel comes from a common hustle in Japan called the “me-me scam,” whereby a con artist calls an elderly person and only identifies himself by saying, “It’s me.” The victim, believing that they are talking to someone they know, is then swindled into sending money to the perpetrator, who claims to have gotten into financial difficulty. Scammers in Japan collectively extract $400 million every year from unsuspecting victims in this way.

ME begins with a similar scam, yet it transforms from a simple act of petty crime into an exploration of identity and individualism in a modern corporatized society. Hoshino, who writes both fiction and nonfiction, has won several major Japanese awards and had a number of his works translated into English. ME, first published in Japan in 2010, has now been translated as a result of winning the Kenzaburō Ōe Prize, named for the Nobel-winning Japanese author…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC’s Old Epidemic

“Even for a sport as reliably strange as ours, the past week was a particularly bizarre one. Between the bookends of two excellent fight cards in UFC 217 and UFC Fight Night 120, a month’s worth of weird went down. Yet aside from Conor McGregor’s shenanigans at Bellator 187, a common theme permeated the goings on of the last seven days: the repercussions of getting old in the fight game, or, as I like to call it, MMAging.

Bad portmanteau aside, there’s a difference between getting old in regular life and getting old as a professional fighter. It’s not so much a defined age — though it often is that, too — as it is an accumulation of fight-related erosion…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Are You Not Entertained?

“In the aftermath of any big fight card, hyperbole is certain. It’s as inevitable as a George St. Pierre victory or MMA’s capacity to entertain and surprise us. Yet in the wake of UFC 217 on Saturday, it is no exaggeration to say that it was easily the best card of the year and one of the most memorable shows in a long, long time.

There was a lot to like about the undercard, from Ricardo Lucas Ramos’ spinning elbow knockout to Ovince St. Preux’s lights-out head kick, but the true highlights belonged to the three title fights at the top of the card. Only two other UFC events have ever had three title fights on the same card: UFC 33 and UFC 205. At UFC 33, often considered one of the worst cards in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, both Tito Ortiz and Jens Pulver retained their titles while Dave Menne won the inaugural middleweight belt. At UFC 205, the company’s first event at Madison Square Garden and one of the most memorable shows in recent memory, two of the three champions retained their titles. Then, at UFC 217, all three titles switched hands. That alone made the event special, but more than the mere swapping of belts, the ways in which the fights went down made UFC 217 truly great…”

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Getting Ahead by Getting People Mad

“First it was boos that rained down upon Colby Covington. Then it was booze.

After his unanimous decision win over hometown-favorite Demian Maia in the UFC Fight Night 119 co-headliner on Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Covington proceeded to get on the microphone and call the host country “a dump” and the 10,000 Brazilians in attendance “filthy animals.” Derek Kronig was on translator duty for the event, but Daniel Cormier didn’t bother to pass him the microphone. Covington reveled in it: “We ain’t translating tonight, baby!” As he was rushed out of the arena by security, fans pelted him with cups of beer and whatever trash was within reach. Clearly, no translation was needed.

Covington and his antics became the most talked-about part of the show, despite his fight with Maia being altogether forgettable. On paper, beating a top-five welterweight in his hometown is impressive, but the manner in which Covington won did not make anyone clamor to see him in a title fight. Don’t be surprised, though, if that’s exactly where he ends up. In this era of the UFC, ratings trump rankings, and playing the villain — even when it’s done poorly — continues to work. Covington was the biggest story of the night because he made people angry. He failed to excite anyone with his actual fighting, but angering people is a fine enough substitute. Anger is a powerful source to tap into. It excites and energizes us in real, biochemical ways. Our brains secrete adrenaline, our hearts beat faster and our bodies pulse with the same evolutionary readiness to do battle that was a necessary survival tool for much of human history. Only now, our “battles” mostly take place via seething comments online…”

 

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By In Medium posts

Spooky Spooky: A Definitive Timeline

“Getting scared taps into something deep within the heart of man. The pure, primal adrenaline of fear is still as powerful a motivator for us as it was for our ancestors struggling for survival on some simian savanna.

Embedded within that fear is a labyrinth of uncertainty, the same mystery of death that also imbues the mystery of life. One mystery threatens us, the other drives us towards a cliff of unanswerable questions. We fear what we don’t — or can’t — know: What is my purpose? What causes things to go bump in the night? Is there a real me? How did this Ouija board get back into my house after I threw it away?

Will my next decision result in a trick, or a treat?

These are tough questions. They lay dormant beneath each Halloween celebration, treacherous waters we navigate only with a compass of willfully distracted ignorance. As luck would have it, there is a light guiding us, a modern day Virgil for our Inferno of existential fear: A.J. Jenkins, singer/songwriter for KidsTV123 and poet laureate of all things spooky…”

 

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