On Language

Another silly job today. There are some t-shirts. A little boy says “t-shatsu”. Big sister (not me) tells him how to pronounce it correctly, which he does. End of scene. It took less than an hour to shoot.

Language is a funny thing. I had some time to kill at the office yesterday and stumbled across a French translation of the pop-up book “What’s in the Fridge?” It’s a box shaped like a fridge with an accordion pull-out of illustrations of what you might find in the fridge. I was surprised by some of the words that are the same: chow mein, ketchup, sushi, taco, kumquat. Some were almost the same: soupe alphabet, sauce barbeque. Some I could guess: nouilles (noodles), pieds de cochon marines (pickled pigs feet). Some I would never have guessed: cornes de gazelle (fortune cookies), guimauve (marshmallows), pieuvre (octopus, which by the way is “taco” in Japanese), ignames (yams), vers (worms).

My favorite? Miaoum (cat food). Nom, nom!

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Work, Work, Work

After hardly working at all last year*, it seems like everyone I’ve ever worked for suddenly has something for me to do, and I’ve got a couple of new clients, too. I’ve got script writing, editing, directing, production meetings, etc., etc.

Fortunately, so far at least, there’s a nice balance between educational stuff and commercial stuff, as well as between kid stuff and grown-up stuff, which is important. After spending a day filming with Shimajiro, I need to unwind with the script for a nice documentary about the mayhem in Fukushima, and I don’t mean that facetiously. When I was working with Sesame Street, someone told me that Carroll Spinney would not have survived sickly sweet Big Bird if he didn’t also have curmudgeonly Oscar. I can relate.

Yesterday, I was asked to re-write a dictionary of technical broadcasting terms, and to make as many changes as possible. This is odd, as there’s nothing wrong with the original text. All I can think of is that someone wants to pirate copyrighted work, but the client is a governmental organization, so that seems far-fetched…or maybe not. But it does seem like I’m going to cost more than it could possibly cost to clear the original copyrights.

Food

It’s been unusually cold recently, so lunch today was a very satisfying bowl of piping hot ramen with shrimp wontons. Yum. There’s an excellent selection of Asian food in this neighborhood, but I’ve had trouble finding satisfactory Western food.

The ironic thing about that is we have MickeyD’s, KFC, Starbucks, Dennys, Baskin Robbins, Mr. Donuts and Subway, and the latter is the only one of those places I ever go into. They have the only good sandwiches in the neighborhood. Plus you get to boss the Sandwich Artists around (More olives! Less mayo!) and they’re always nice about it. Just once, the register lady was slightly rude to me. The manager noticed, scolded her, and gave me a ticket for free beverages for six months.

You’d think that after all this time, I’d be acclimatized but I still need my sandwich fix sometimes. Convenience stores and coffee shops have sandwiches, but they always cut the crust off the bread (the best part!), add wilted cucumber slices and slather them in a nauseating amount of mayo, sometimes mixed with wasabi, which, trust me, does not go well with cheese. Apparently you can’t mix orange juice and milk either. See today’s entry on my new favorite blog:

http://themiddlestsister.com/2012/02/01/the-scientific-method/

Fashion, is it?

Today I saw a boy wearing his jeans so low they were practically around his knees. I really can’t understand why anybody would pursue such an unattractive look in the first place. More so here where people tend to be long in the torso and short in the legs. The low-slung pants make the legs look even shorter. The boy I saw looked like he was hobbling along on little stumps. Such silliness really undercuts the typical teenaged sneer.

Girls, on the other hand, are going for high heels with black tights and mini skirts or short shorts, which combination greatly lengthens the legs.

The problem arises when said  boy and said girl are walking along together.  It looks so odd when she’s doing the Julia Roberts Stride and he’s doing the Hobbit Hobble. The only thing weirder is when said boy is walking along with a girl all done up in kimono, but that usually only happens around Adults Day, so one can make arrangements to stay home.

P.S. Many (relatively) small earthquakes these days. It’s terribly unnerving.

Language Problems

A couple of days ago, I was checking a dancing activity where the kids are supposed to jump up, turn around and clap. It is true that a lot of Japanese people have trouble distinguishing between L and R. Do you see what I’m getting at? Yep, there it was, in big letters across the top of the page:

Jump up! Turn around! Crap!

Sadly, our target audience is older than the diaper crowd, so that sort of activity could get rather messy.

The Great Boot Explosion

  We had an unusually heavy snowfall mixed with rain the other night and in the morning the streets were treacherous. I don’t have any proper winter boots right now, so I thought I’d wear my old hiking boots and felt downright smug as I walked to the station and watched other people slipping around in their ordinary shoes.

I got to the office without event, then about an hour later, one of my boot soles fell off. And then an hour after that, the other one fell off. Then I noticed that I was tracking nasty, crumbly, black rubber bits all over the place. We grabbed some packing tape and my colleagues helped me patch myself together.

As we got back to our papers, I said, “It’s just kind of embarrassing. I look like a homeless person.” The woman sitting next to me didn’t look up, just said quietly, “Nah. Homeless people have better shoes than that.”

I made it back to my station, tape flapping and making crunchy noises and people pretending not to notice. Lucky for me, The Amazing Changing Store had just the day before been selling cosmetics, but switched to 1000yen shoes that morning. I bought a pair of brown boots and snuck into an alley to put them on. The good thing is that they fit perfectly. I have Japanese feet—very small and very wide and the standard width here is double or triple E.

The hiking boots went directly into the trash when I got home. Shame on you, L L Bean.

Punch Drunk

I had a dream the other night. We were sleeping and a robber broke in. Rochi jumped up, grabbed Dana, and ran away. I jumped up and punched the guy’s lights out with a quick right upper to the jaw. When I told Sensei about it, he laughed out loud and said, “That’s as it should be.” I told one of my colleagues about it and she said, “Oh, but that couldn’t happen, right?” And I said, “Maybe. He doesn’t know how to punch and I do. After all, I’ve been training for six years.” She’s got big eyes anyway, but they got even bigger.

I’ve said this before but it’s worth mentioning again. In dageki class, which is gloves and mitts, every time I get partnered with a guy who doesn’t know me, he gets a quizzical expression on his face as if to say, “What the  heck am I supposed to do with this itty bitty foreign woman?” After a minute or two, it changes to, “Gee. This itty bitty foreign woman could probably beat the crap out of me if she wanted to.”

I’ve never hit anybody for real, or been hit for that matter, except once in a youth hostel in Greece when an obnoxious German guy punched me in the nose. Two tough Australian women made quick work of him. At this point, I suppose I could probably hold my own.

It’s a Small World

I just love the names of Tokyo’s trains and stations. They fill up my mouth and trip off my tongue in a most satisfying way. And some days I get to experience a lot of them. For example, yesterday, I went to my station, Sangenjaya, and got on the Denentoshi line. At Nagatacho I transferred to the Namboku line and got off at Yotsuya. The job took less than an hour, then back to Yotsuya where I took the Marunouchi line to Kasumigaseki, transferred to the Hibiya line and got off at Hiroo for a different studio job. On the way home, I took the Hibiya line to Nakameguro, transferred to the Toyoku line and got off at Yutenji. The last leg of this odyssey was a quick bus ride home. By the end of the day, the pedometer in my Granny Phone said that I had walked 5.5k, partly because I didn’t read the map carefully and ended up walking a long way the wrong way at Hiroo. Oops.

Here’s where the small world part comes in. I was wandering around the back streets of Yotsuya looking for the studio and ran into a woman I know. It took me hours to place her but I finally remembered she was the cleaning lady who used to work at another studio in a different part of Yotsuya. She was always very friendly to me. The funny thing about this is that there are over 12 million people in Tokyo and I don’t know very many of them, so to run into someone I know, especially on a back street in a part of town I rarely go to, is really something, and it’s surprising how many times this has happened over the years.

Terry the Voice Actor recently stepped into a hotel elevator in Singapore and heard her own voice say “going up.” Hitachi must have exported her recording when they exported the elevator. No, we don’t get residuals for that sort of thing, but still, it’s always interesting to run into someone you know in an unexpected place, especially when it’s yourself.

Rub Me the Right Way

Shimizu-san gives massages at the dojo a couple of times a week. Last year, I gave him some educational stuff for his kids because he’s eager to get them started on English. He liked the stuff and said he’d give me a free massage sometime. Well, I love massages and am always a big fan of free stuff, but didn’t know him well enough to know if that would really ever happen. Then today after class it did, and he gave me almost an hour. Now, Shimizu-san is simply amazing. He does a combination of standard massage, stretching, shiatsu, and some other kinds of arcane stuff that I don’t even understand. Sometimes he puts his hands on my back, no pressure, just heat, and I can feel tension being sucked out of my body. At one point he waved his fingers at my ankle without even touching it. I’m not sure what that was for. But when he was done, I didn’t get off the table, I floated off. Then we spent some time talking about synchronicity and the difference between power and strength. Very cool stuff. If he wasn’t a masseur, I could easily see him as a Buddhist monk.

Well….

The guacamole came out fine. The cake, on the other hand, was an unmitigated disaster, but fortunately I was the only one who knew it, since nobody had ever had “American” cake before. It didn’t rise and was thick and heavy. Maybe my 20 year old baking soda had something to do with it. But people said it was a nice change from sponge. There was much oohing and aahing about the chocolate on top, and many were were surprised that the icing wasn’t as sweet as they had expected. And not one person went into a sugar-induced spastic fit, for which I am very grateful.

People kept asking for my advice, too, like about how the dill pickles should be cut and whether they should be served with ketchup. At first I thought they were just being pestersome, but then I realized they really though I had something intelligent to say.

Go figure.

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