To whom it may concern (i.e. anyone who experiences the passage of time):
Happy New Year!
With some welcome holiday downtime, Machiko and I celebrated with some baking (and punning). Our logic went like this:
In Western Europe, the winter holidays have a strong association with gingerbread. In Japan, the biggest celebration in December is New Years, when most people make a visit to their local Shinto shrine. The Japanese word for shrine is “jinja” (神社).
Jinja…ginger…see what we did there? It’s looks like this:
2016 ought to be an eventful and interesting year. Here’re some things I’m looking forward to.
January: Electronic Superhighway is an art exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery about the way computers and the internet have inspired artists over the last fifty years.
February: I will become an uncle. As I write this, my sister is very pregnant.
June: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens with Noma Dumezweni playing Hermione. I know some people raised (obviously racially-motivated) questions about the casting, but there’s no doubt she’s a great actress and it’ll be a big, popular show. I met Dumezweni briefly when she starred in Linda, which Machiko worked on with the show’s production design team, she was lovely and her performance in Linda was stellar.
May: On the 9th, the transit of Mercury will take 7.5 hours to pass between Earth and the sun. It’ll be visible from eastern North America, as well as most of South America, western Africa and Western Europe.
July: Director Shinji Higuchi (“Attack on Titan”) releases his new Godzilla movie. I will always have a soft spot for the big scaly behemoth. Also from the world of Japanese popular culture, July will also mark the English publication Kenji Tsuruta’s Wandering Island comic, which looks quite good.
August: The Rio Olympics.
November: The United States general election, which is taking for-ever to arrive. I know I’m not alone in thinking Donald Trump has badly lowered the bar for public discourse in America—and come November, we’ll discover if it stays there.
December: The last remaining American, British and Australian troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
Like I said, eventful and interesting. A bit like all the others. Happy 2016!