In which Robin Gets It Wrong (or Has It Gotten Wrong) in a Variety of Ways
I had a conversation with Hannah today. After we discussed the health and well-being of husbands, (human) teenagers and hellhounds, and what we are going to do for each other’s sixtieth birthdays (I’m first, but I’m not going to tell you by how much), she said, So, what was your deal last night? Why are you so negative about this? You even like del Toro’s work. I remember you raving about HELLBOY.* I thought you were flattered when Merrilee told you he was behind Warner’s offer for BEAUTY.
Negative? I said. I didn’t mean to be negative. It’s just I was getting this stream of daft emails from people saying they were so excited that BEAUTY was going to be a movie at last.
Hmm, said Hannah. Well, all those capital letters come across as negative.
I was trying to make a point, I said. That’s all. I was surprised so many people were reading the news items and still thinking it meant they were making BEAUTY into a movie. They’re making BEAUTY into their own thing and then making the movie out of that. Um. Merrilee hasn’t said anything about what I wrote last night.
Merrilee is probably lying down in a darkened room with a damp towel over her forehead, said Hannah. You keep forgetting that while you live your life all in capital letters, most of the rest of the world does not.
I’m sorry, I said.
Don’t tell me, said Hannah. Tell the blog.
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And then I wanted to say thanks to forum members and a few emailers who’ve made suggestions about where I might go for some beginner colloquial Japanese. I haven’t had time to do any tracking-down today but I will.** THANK YOU.
It is possibly worth mentioning however that by the time I’ve asked blog readers if they have any input I’ve already looked into whatever it is I’m asking about enough to know I’m interested—and possibly to have some very vague idea what I’m getting myself into.*** Also remember that I lived in Japan for five years and even as an American military brat you can’t help but pick up some sense of the real life of the country you’re living in—even at nine years old the very very different takes on what constituted politeness, for example, were pretty astonishing. And I’ve retained an interest in Japan and Japanese culture although I haven’t done much about it except hang out in the Far Eastern wings of museums a lot. But last year, rather than getting all my news from English newspapers and English radio, I was listening to local reports on the tsunami and the Fukushima meltdown on the net—reading subtitles but listening to Japanese newsreaders reading—and I was surprised and even shaken by how familiar the sounds and rhythms of the language are even if I remember about three actual words of it. So while I wasn’t planning on a Takahiro in SHADOWS it’s maybe not shocking that he’s appeared. And while I’m only planning on using about six words of Japanese in SHADOWS . . . well, I’d like to enjoy the process of putting them there, you know?
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So at 3:55 this afternoon I rang the garage, having carefully given hellhounds and myself a slightly curtailed morning hurtle in the hope that we would be yomping out to Warm Upford this afternoon to fetch the sound and healthy Wolfgang home for another year of bouncing over potholes and snagging shrubbery and doing sixty-seven-point turns in jigsaw courtyards. I got some random woman on the phone—I know all the regulars but I didn’t recognise her—who put me on hold to check Wolfgang’s status. She picked up the phone again and said, It failed. You can ring again tomorrow afternoon.
WHAT? I said, visions of the engine dropping out in someone’s hands or the glebbershiggleblatz exploding or something. £££££££££££££££££ = new car which I can’t afford. WHAT?
Er—what’s wrong with it? I said meekly.
Would you like to speak to the mechanic? said the random woman.
OH NO, OF COURSE NOT, I’LL JUST GO AWAY QUIETLY AND TERRIFY MYSELF WITH LURID IMAGININGS TILL YOU ALLOW ME TO RING BACK IN 24 HOURS, THANK YOU. VERY MUCH. OF COURSE I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO THE RFFFLLZZZZGGMGGGGNG MECHANIC, YOU . . . RANDOM WOMAN.†
Yes please, I said meekly.
So Blaze came on and said . . . that I needed a new windscreen wiper and the plastic housing of the right rear taillight was cracked and had to be replaced because it had sharp edges and they had some trouble finding a new one because they don’t make new taillights for these cars any more†† but it should be in tomorrow and I should be able to pick the car up tomorrow afternoon.
YAAAAAAY WOLFGANG. Not so yaaay McKinley, of course, for whatever piece of hedgerow took the taillight out. But . . . yaaaaay.
Although I want the random woman’s head on a plate. ††† So, well, I didn’t go to Forza bell practise, because I didn’t have a car, but I also didn’t go because Peter and I had done another of our now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t fumbles with the diary and it turned out we had not one but two of Peter’s offspring here tonight. Whom Peter, bless him, firmly took off to a local pub for dinner‡, and left me to work. I was all set to fly through what I thought was a relatively straightforward scene and get a little ahead again and GAAAAAAAAAAAAH—WHAM as I ran into an unexpected discontinuity. That is, I knew about the discontinuity, but I didn’t expect it there. ARRRRRGH. Person Who Did Not Get A Little Ahead Tonight.
However I have now finished off last night’s bottle of champagne with a little help from Alastair (who was designated driver and therefore couldn’t drink at the pub), whom I am furthermore going to take on a hurtle tomorrow morning which means I’d better go home and go to bed so I can get up again before the morning is over. . . .
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* Hannah is not a big comic-book-superhero person. I don’t think she’s seen any of the X-MEN films. She nearly gave herself a hernia laughing when I tried to tell her how great BLADE and BLADE II are.
** Of course I may also have one or two books. Plus the CDs. And downloads. Or three or four. Maybe of each.
*** Dilettante? Me? —Okay, it’s true, innovative learning JapanesePod101.com has bumped chaos, quantum physics and Why Does E=MC2^ and Why Should We Care. But they’ll be back. And I’m still reading maths in the bath.
^ Okay, how do you get superscript numbers out of Word? They’re not in my ‘insert symbol’ table.
† Hmm. I’m having another capital letters moment.
†† Seventeen years old and PROUD. Oh that German technology. For which they clearly should keep making new parts.
††† Uh oh, I’m being CRANKY again.
‡ I’m not sure whether the mixed report on the food was meant to cheer me up about missing it and the food was divine and they just didn’t want to tell me.
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