Japanese government internet TV

The concept is cool: the Japanese government posted a bunch of videos at a government "TV" site though they're not the most interesting on the planet. But still, it's a good idea. Some of the videos are in Chinese, Korean, and English.


Impact is a verb

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "Impact has been used as a verb since 1601, when it meant 'to fix or pack in,' and its modern, figurative use dates from 1935." But for some reason, I thought it wasn't a verb, because people used to say (or so it seems) "it had an impact on..." instead of "it impacted..."

I guess it's because I'm one of those people who's been affected by "its frequent appearance in the jargon-riddled remarks of politicians, military officials, and financial analysts." I had a loathsome job where a boss kept using that word, and I thought they were trying to sound "modern" and "slick" because they were about appearance, but apparently they used the word correctly.

Check out the usage notes for contact: it was originally a noun, and "was initially frowned upon" when used as a verb. Which means that "impact" is legit, while "contact" is newly legit.


I think I'm gonna be sick

I was just reading Mary Beard's blog and saw that she mentioned mine, which is unbelievable, not only because not many people link to me, but because she's part of one of the most prestigious schools and publications on the planet, and she thinks my little blog is "excellent". Actually, we met a couple days ago when she was doing a lecture in Chicago, and she's really nice and interesting, and open-minded, especially because I don't have a "title" or a byline or whatever "matters" to successful people.

I've been lucky to meet some well-known people, and I currently work with someone who was quite popular on Chicago radio for years. In fact, when I mention his name (not to be a name-dropper but just because I work with him and see him every day), people smile and some are "impressed" though that's not what I'm going for.

One time I met someone whose stuff I'd read for a while, and it was the kind of content that made me laugh out loud and lifted my spirits, especially when I was doing tedious work. They're too well known for me to mention them here by name, but their success has gone to their head for sure. I sensed they could care less about me, so I didn't say much and was very polite, but that didn't matter--I was a nobody and didn't have hot looks to make up for it, so they were quite snobby and distant, and I don't read their stuff anymore. And there are other people I've met who are either successful and don't want to interact with non-successful people, or there are non-successful people who only want to meet people who "matter" to boost their image or whatever.

Anyway, Mary Beard is not like that at all, even though she's achieved a lot more than most people, and she also has a comfortable career that doesn't "require" her to be friendly or curious about anything outside her elite world.


Precious and cold

I thought I hadn't seen The Last Emperor, so I just sat through the whole thing, then realized that I saw it a while ago. I know it won a bunch of awards and everyone loved it, but I found it precious and cold, as in *too* precious and cold. Yeah, I know that we "should" like it, but it seemed like the movie was a series of story boards, like every scene was carefully planned like a painting. Maybe that's what they wanted: to create a movie that's like Chinese panels. Or maybe they kept it safe because the Chinese government back in the 80's gave them permission to film it in the Forbidden City, so they couldn't cross any lines by suggesting anything negative or even emotional.


Who's buying fiction

The PIC (Publishing Industrial Complex) has become so consolidated (like radio), that they need to churn out blockbusters to make the profits they want. So obviously, the people who are buying those blockbusters are the general public, but it seems like the folks who buy the other kinds of fiction are writers or wannabe writers. I didn't really think too much about this until I saw all the books that are being featured at Karin Gillespie's blog. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But I sort of "wish" the PIC wasn't so big. That way, they wouldn't be so impatient to only accept authors that are going to hit it out of the park the first time they're at bat.


The office in Japanese

I work with some folks who watch "The Office" (the American version), but I don't usually watch it because it doesn't seem that funny. This clip is funny, though, not only because they're speaking Japanese with odd accents while maintaining their Americanisms, but because it pokes fun at British humor as well (what Ricky Gervais says at the end). It's also funny to see how Westerners portray Japan (though I bet a well-informed person wrote the sketch, because it has some good Japanese details).


It still sounds negative

There's a billboard in my area that advertises an airline, and it says that people will leave "disgruntled" but arrive "gruntled."

They're playing with words, but it still sounds negative: "gruntled" still has the sound of dissatisfaction about it, so I don't think that ad campaign is going to work.



The past few days have been quite translating- and radio-oriented, so I haven't been writing outside of work, but I did have time to see an interview with John Grisham. I've read a couple of his books, which were okay, but the bottom line is that he makes a ton of money from his writing, so he's obviously doing something right!

I didn't watch the whole interview, just the part where he talks about writing ("chapter 5"), and he said what a lot of people say: make an outline. But for some reason, even though I've heard that advice many times before (usually from blockbuster authors who create thrillers, mysteries, etc.), his emphasis was pretty convincing.

I think I haven't followed that advice because I'm not writing a thriller or anything like that, though I'm definitely not writing "literary" fiction, but I will probably create an outline because it makes sense.

When Grisham was working on his first book with an editor, he had to get rid of hundreds of pages and change the rest (which made me wonder how he got a publisher in the first place, and how it's "unfair" that he didn't write stellar stuff and still got into the Publishing Industrial Complex), which convinced him that an outline would reduce the amount of throw-away material.

So I've been reading about how three-act stories break down, and I feel more sane. I've written complete drafts, but I always have to go back and fix a lot of it or get rid of it altogether. I'm still tempted to write whatever and meander down a path, but I think structure will help keep me on track and finish something that might see the light of day one century.


Like and go

Someone sent me a link to an article about the ugliest two words which the editors of the Webster's New World College Dictionary say are really annoying: "like" and "go." When I was younger, I used those words a lot when I was quoting myself or someone else in a conversation (example: I go, "How can you do that?" and she's like, "Because I want to.").

They also have a list of other annoying words, including the "Most cheapened cherished word: Awesome; a C+ on an algebra test is mediocre, not awesome. Dude."

I remember when "awesome" became popular in the 80's, especially with the whole Valley Girl thing (there are still valley girls because the San Fernando Valley around L.A. still exists). I agree it's been cheapened: the Grand Canyon used to be awesome, and other stuff was "cool" or whatever, but now everything is "awesome." And I'm guilty of using that word too, though I sort of joke around with it, or I use it in a light way.


I gave in

At first, I could care less about Barbara Walters or her memoir, but after reading an article about it in the New Yorker, I became interested, so I've started reading it. I borrowed it from someone, which means I have to read it asap so that they can finish it. So far, it's quite good and chock-full of juicy info, though I feel a bit cheap "looking in".

UPDATE: I can't take it anymore--her writing has a lot of subject-verb constructions, and seems like TV. And her voice is so arrogant and smug--too annoying to continue on. So I've stopped reading it. I don't care about her, and now I don't care about her writing about her.


Mysterious d

I was reading an interesting article in a British newspaper, and the woman featured in it mentioned a "Liverpudlian accent", which made me do a double-take: I figured "Liverpudlian" represented the adjective of "Liverpool", but it seemed odd because they threw a "d" in there. Why? Can't they say "Liverpulian"? It sounds weird, but Liverpudlian reminds me of "Lilliputian" for some reason.

(Side note: when I was reading the article, the woman seemed American, due to her drive, straightforward manner, and the fact that her wedding planning business was successful, and I was right--sort of: she spent many years in the U.S. when she was growing up, so no wonder I sensed the American "vibe". I'd love to hear her accent :D)


I think I know what my problem is

I was working on my story [novel] today (which will probably not see the light of day, though I want it to eventually) and I realized that I really need to find my voice.

"Finding your voice" is an overused and vague phrase, and I used to not think it was as important as plot or other stuff, but now I've realized it is. I think I had that attitude because it sounded so fake: "find your voice." And it seemed impossible, and part of some requirement for writing like 100 years ago, when fiction didn't have to be so hyper-commercial to succeed.

But I've noticed in different creative mediums that people hit their stride when they find their voice, whether they're singers, painters, writers, musicians, radio talent, or anything that requires a person to dig deep within themselves to share their craft with the world. I've been able to spot and develop a voice in non-fiction writing, but for some reason, I didn't want to accept that I needed to hone it in fiction until I started feeling fake about what I was writing.

So today I worked on the story, and anytime I felt like I was being fake, I got to the "truth" by getting to my "voice". But the problem is, I still haven't settled on a voice, so I have to keep working at it.



Even though I'm a native English speaker, I always assumed that people pronounce the word "insurance" like "in-SUR-ance". But my husband and some other people say "IN-surance" (ie, the stress is on the first syllable instead of the second).

I looked it up at Merriam-Webster and expected them to have just "my" pronunciation, but they have both! Check it out--they have audio samples of each.

So the question is: is there a "correct" way to pronounce it, and if not, then why are there two ways?


The right decision

Because I'm totally wiped out from some crazy work hours, I decided to watch Gulliver's Travels which was made in the mid-90's, though it was a mini-series back then. Tonight they showed the entire series in one night, which has made me even more fatigued.

Some of the American actors faked British accents, and while they weren't perfect (as is usually the case, though I don't know personally because I'm not British, but can recognize a bad British accent when I hear it), I was glad to see that Ted Danson (who did a great job) did not try to speak with one. I was surprised, since actors always seem to attempt it, but I accepted he was British because that was his character. Which just goes to show that you don't need to speak with a certain type of accent (especially if you're going to butcher it) when you're playing a character from another culture. Well, it'd be good to have an accent, but only if it's convincing. Otherwise, a bad accent is distracting.