Spinal Tap gets high marks

This past spring, I rented the special edition DVD of the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap because my book is about a guy who's obsessed with a band. I watched the DVD with and without the commentary five or six times, because it was totally hilarious!

And then, I wondered: what do Brits think of the American actors' accents? So I did some research online at UK sites, and found these assesments.

The Guardian says:

“When Spinal Tap fans meet [Christopher] Guest, especially in Britain, they are often amazed to hear him talking in an American accent because Tufnel's rock star mockney is so pitch-perfect."

From a review:

“The all-American cast grunt and preen their way through the proceedings in a word perfect English accent (a rare thing indeed)...”

And a review in DVD Times says:

“Guest, McKean and Shearer all hold down an English accent brilliantly...”

And finally, I emailed a virtual buddy of mine, a Brit who's living in Germany (and is fluent in German, by the way, which I totally envy) to ask for his opinion. He said:
"The accents in This Is Spinal Tap are absolutely faultless...But I'm often blown away by the phonetic skill of some of your best American actors/actresses. Look at Renee Zellweger (if you will...) I was amazed to find out she's a Texan. When she did Bridget Jones I was convinced she was British."

So there you have it, it's been confirmed by various sources. Congrats Spinal Tap. And Rene Zellweger.


It wouldn't sell

Someone recommended a novel by Henry James called Washington Square, and I can barely get through the 19th century English (it was written in 1881).

Here's a sample from Chapter 1, in what seems to be an emotional moment:

"He walked under the weight of this very private censure for the rest of his days, and bore forever the scars of a castigation to which the strongest hand he knew had treated him on the night that followed his wife's death."

Chapter 23 isn't any more exciting:

"During this period she was less considerate; she had an idea - a rather vague one, but it was agreeable to her sense of injury - that now she was absolved from penance, and might do what she chose."

Wow, how I feel the emotion (not). This book reads more like a technical manual than a novel. It would never sell today.


Language Hat

Wow, I thought I was into languages, but this guy is into them big time. His blog reads like an academic journal--and language is just his hobby!

Oh well, all of us language enthusiasts operate at different levels. My interest is the equivalent of eye candy to these more serious-minded linguistic folks.


Today was Stargate Monday, and I watched all of the episodes instead of taping them for another day. It took me a while to get into that show, but apparently they have a world-wide audience.

I think I know why it's so popular: it deals with universal issues, such as good vs. evil, oppression, willing ignorance, greed, struggle, and other aspects of human nature. Whoever works on that show is lucky.


Online English quizzes

Here is an excellent site that has various kinds of online English quizzes. It is very useful for anyone who wants to practice his or her English.

Another site has English and bilingual quizzes, which will be helpful to me as well, since I'm a native English speaker language addict.

On a totally unrelated note: high rise spiders. A friend told me about them last week when he saw one outside my window. And now I've gotten a report from my husband, who's on the top floor of the Wrigley Building. He just spotted some high rise spiders over there, too.



Sometimes I read fiction writers' blogs, and I find them irritating because they write a lot without saying much. Plus, they don't stick to the blog style, which is brief and conversational.

Today I didn't work on the book, but I was online a lot, looking for information I needed. I found an interesting article about fan clubs because my first novel is about a music fan. If you click on the link to see the article, it may take you to E!Online's shopping page instead. I don't know why they've rigged their site like that.

I also found information about William Shatner's book about his exposure to Star Trek fans. I think I'm going to read it.


Camera in Thailand

Some people know that I'm writing novels, and have started the process of submitting the first one I wrote to the "outside world". Part of the story takes place in Thailand, and a few years ago I used to go to this website to get a taste of that country because I don't live there, and haven't been there in a while.

There's a chat going on there, though it's in Thai. But I think they understand English. Right now it's night in Chicago, but afternoon in Thailand.



I said yesterday that I didn't want to miss my Japanese class because I love to study languages. But a big reason why I like that class is the teacher--she's great. I had to leave halfway through the class to go to Woodfield, but I didn't really want to leave because the class was so enjoyable.

The other day, someone told me about Spanish classes at Instituto Cervantes, which is in my neighborhood. They even have classes at 6:45 am. That's the first time I've heard of such early classes.

I think Spanish is the most beautiful language and have studied it before, but have never been to a Spanish-speaking country.


Can't avoid it

I was going to skip my Japanese class to meet with the Metrofiction group, but I decided to do both, because I love studying languages--I study Japanese twice a week, and could do it more often, if I had the time. Lately I've been too busy to do extra studying or finish the translations I'm working on, and I feel like something is missing. I have to be sure to make time for my favorite activity.

Someone in my Japanese class told me about a great website
that translates Japanese, Korean, and Chinese into English and visa-versa. I've only checked out the Japanese part, but it's totally cool.