Busy having fun

I was going to post something here yesterday, but I had to teach and then I hung out with John Banas. I went there around 6 pm, so I figured I'd be back in time to do other stuff, including translating and posting stuff here. But I didn't leave until after 1 am, and since he lives two counties away from me, I didn't get home until after 2 in the morning.

But at least we got to talk about writing. He likes to write thrillers, I like to write non-thrillers. Right now I think I have a good enough idea to not want to discuss the details, even with him. Because, as "they" (whoever "they" is) say, if you talk about it, sometimes you won't write about it.


Is it still popular?

Whenever I see advice about learning kanji, I think about the book Remembering the Kanji. When I was living in Japan, it seemed like everyone who wanted to learn how to read Japanese had that book. I bought it, too, but I didn't finish reading it. I wonder how many people nowadays have that book, or if it's as popular as it used to be. It seems like a book that people buy, but don't finish.


Shocking news

Well, even though radio opportunities are shrinking due to consolidation and syndication, I miraculously got a production gig with a locally produced show. Even though I'm in the third largest market in one of the wealthiest and largest nations on earth, locally produced shows are very rare. Seriously--do an online search for media companies, and you'll see that very few companies own the media, which means very few opportunities to work in it.

Which means that I've achieved the impossible.

(btw--because the gig isn't full time, I'll still be able to do language stuff, so it seems like a shockingly good situation all around)


Had to resort to Spanish

I've been reading stuff about Pancho Villa, and wanted to know more about Don Luis Terrazas, who was a very rich landowner in Mexico during Villa's time. The English info I found online seemed to talk about his wealthy and powerful life, but not his origins, and I really wanted to know why he was so rich. So I gave in, and did a search in Spanish and found something that will help get me started: Breve Historia de la Ganadería en Chihuahua.

I didn't want to read stuff in Spanish because I'm lazy and don't know all the words, which means I'll have to look them up, but it couldn't be avoided because English just wasn't enough. (I could get an English book, but I'm already reading other books and don't want to add a huge history to my list.)

Sort of related: what's great about the New York Times is that they post old articles that you can read for free: I found one about Luis Terrazas II's release from Pancho Villa's torturous imprisonment and escape to the US. I was going to post the article as a pdf here, but it's copyrighted, and I don't want to get in trouble with them :D


What's the point

I was planning on working on the novel tonight after Japanese class, but I started feeling quite sick, and am not even well enough to do a decent blog post right now. But I thought, "Who cares if you can't write--that novel is never going to get published! Why waste your time?"

When I write, I know I'm doing the right thing. But when I'm not writing, I wonder what's the point. The point is to create something, but it might never see the light of day.

[whining is over]


The river really is green

Every year in honor of Saint Patrick's Day, the city dyes the Chicago River green--seriously. Here's a cute report about it by a TV pro who is now doing radio (lucky guy who's also really nice).


He's British!

I've never watched an entire episode of House, but I have caught parts of it, and I thought the main character was American. But he's British! In fact, I already knew who he was (Hugh Laurie), but I didn't make the connection: he was on the British show Jeeves and Wooster, which is actually too annoying to watch too often.

Here's a video of Hugh Laurie auditioning for House--you can sort of detect a slight British accent in the beginning, but when he's in character, he sounds like an American, and believe me, I'm American, so I should know what an American accent should sound like. Also, here and in the show, he behaves like an American. So it's not just the accent, but his manner. Bottom line: he's convincing!


I think I saw a VNR

I'm almost done with Fighting for Air, and it is really good. If you work in the media, if you want to work in the media, or if you care about the media, I highly recommend this book.

One of the things I've learned about is VNR's, which are video news releases. Basically, they are created by PR agencies, businesses, governments, and anyone else who wants their story to be covered by TV news organizations. They're sent to media companies and are either broadcast in their entirety as a "news" story, or they are edited down, or interspersed with a local reporter's voice and even image, as if they're "interviewing" someone from the story. The book has a lot more to say about VNR's, and so do plenty of websites.

I think I saw a VNR tonight: I was watching the news and saw a health story with dramatic music that seemed to have a slick production quality, and even though the local health reporter's voice was in the story, it still seemed too smooth, especially because they were saying that a particular pharmaceutical drug was helpful for the ailment.

I emailed the news station to ask them if that story was a VNR, or if it was researched and produced by the local reporter. I'll see if they respond :D


gusset from machi

The more Japanese I read and translate, the less katakana I seem to know. I think it's also because more katakana words have entered the language because of globalization.

I was recently confounded by the word マチ (machi). It didn't originate from English, because it was describing the bottom of a bag. So I did a search, and found out that it means gusset, which is "a usually diamond-shaped or triangular insert in a seam...to provide expansion or reinforcement."

I also found some websites of companies that sell bags with gussets. What's lame is that I'd never heard of a "gusset" before. It sounded like an old word, and I was right about that, since it comes from Middle English (16th century). I'd also never heard anyone use the word "gusset", and I'm sure if I were to ask people if they knew what it was, I'd get different responses.

Now that I know the meaning, I still don't know what language "machi" comes from.

Update: commenter Paul said that "machi" isn't a foreign word (マチ), but is the reading (まち) for ! My bad :(


Good play

I just saw A Steady Rain, which is going to be in Chicago until late April. It's not the most uplifting story in the world, but it's good, and very Chicago. If you're around the area, I highly recommend it.

The two actors (there are only two) are excellent, and I was lucky to meet them after the show. They are so intense on stage, I thought they'd be almost devoid of personality off the stage (since some actors are good at disappearing into their characters to "escape" the blandness and insecurity of their own) or at least be too wiped out and drained to speak to anyone. But they were actually cool and friendly, and they told me to tell my friends about it.

If I was involved with a radio show, I'd try to get them on the air, but since I have no such outlet, I might as well mention the play here.

It's at the Royal George theater, which is easy to get to and is a really nice space. I want to go there again.


Noodle is complicated

Often in Japanese, we see the word for "noodle" in hiragana: めん (men). But sometimes it appears in its kanji form:

For such a simple word and concept, that kanji is certainly complicated. Though the reading is easy to remember, since the right-hand side has a character that is pronounced "men". So at least we can relax about that.


Over 100k

I am posting this for the record (because I work at least marginally in the "media" and want to publish one century): I've gotten well over 100,000 unique visitors here. I will probably reach the 110,000 mark soon. And the visitors have come from all over the world.

Thanks for visiting!