From Roland Kelts, a great look at the difficulties of translating Murakami.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if the translation of literature, where the strengths and even personality of the original are embedded in the language, is futile, however heroic. “When you read Haruki Murakami, you’re reading me, at least ninety-five per cent of the time,” Jay Rubin, one of Murakami’s longtime translators, told me in Tokyo last month, explaining what he says to American readers, most of whom prefer to believe otherwise.
Working on my own, much more modest, project last year made me hair-pullingly aware of the hard choices and compromises involved in any translation. Even with a comparatively straightforward text, it felt sometimes like I was trying to cook a curry using only the ingredients for spaghetti bolognese.
By way of retaliation, Harvey tore off the breast pocket of Irv’s shirt. Irv then ripped off Harvey’s. Before the two of them were through, they were both drenched, and their shirts hung down from their belts like hula skirts. Harvey then grabbed the water cooler bottle under one arm, climbed to the top of his desk, took hold of the overhead sprinkler pipe with his free hand, and started swinging from it like an ape.
From Irv Spence’s Cartoon Diary. May 26, 1944
Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #2271 (by Ape Lad)
Years ago, just after I arrived in Japan, I bought a book of Japanese proverbs. I only really learned one, ato no matsuri. Literally translated it means “after the festival” and is used to say that something or someone is too late.
It stuck. I ended up using it all the time - even when a simple “too late” would have been more appropriate. It’s not a common phrase, either. Everyone understands it, but I think I’ve heard it from a mouth other than mine just once in fifteen years.
I caught myself saying it again tonight. I wish I could break the habit, but I guess the horse has bolted.
Geoff Barnes, in his wonderful primer on teaching your children the art of cursing:
Practically, and perhaps ironically, this likely amounts to a whole lot of restraint when it comes to your own cursing around your kids. Focus on promoting rarity, excellence, context, and play.
My daughters, despite being ten and twelve, don’t get swearing. They know there are bad words that dad says while driving but, mainly because Japanese doesn’t really have curse words the way English does, the whole concept is still completely foreign to them. The most interest they’ve shown has been to ask why people say “Jesus Christ” all the time.
The closest either of them has come to swearing has been when warning me not to. Once, after I braked suddenly to avoid hitting a text-cycling fool swerving all over the road, my youngest piped up from the back seat:
Dad, don’t say fa!
On the train this morning I noticed that most of the passengers were women. I panicked, thinking that I had indadvertedly got on the female‑only car. It was a few moments before I realised that I no longer lived in a country that had (needed?) such things.
My wife and I are apparently going to start getting in shape from May 1. My daughter whipped up this handy How To Stretch poster for us.
One of the developers of Forecast wrote up some of the lessons they learned from making their app. It’s pretty good, the last hint especially:
Tap things twice. Swipe at things that shouldn’t be swiped. Touch things that shouldn’t be touched. Mush it and squeeze it and scrape it. Do it when you’re lying in bed, in the bathroom, walking down the street. Over, and over, and over again.
So many apps, both native and web, seem designed to be used in just the right way and woe be to any sloppy tappers or inadvertent swipers.
One of the most infuriating examples of this for me is TweetBot, an otherwise excellent app.
This is the behaviour that drives me crazy: when you tap on a link in a tweet it opens in the built-in browser; when you tap and hold on a link it pops up a menu from which you can choose to, among other things, open the link in Safari or send it to Pinboard. This would by great if my idea of a tap wasn’t TweetBot’s idea of a tap and hold. I am forever tapping links expecting them to open but getting the menu instead.
So app developers, please mush, squeeze, scrape your apps - and make sure a tap and hold requires actual holding.
Kevin is just too unrelentingly nasty. So nasty that he doesn’t seem human. So nasty that it is difficult to believe, in spite of the tremendous performances, that the story is real.
Last night I wasted five minutes shaking my head at iA Writer’s haughty “we know what is good for you” disdain for preferences. I then spent two hours hacking around with FoldingText’s mostly undocumented, completely unsupported theme system.
This is not a joke, but it may be funny.
Last week in science, my daughter’s class conducted an experiment. They had to measure how quickly a piece of chocolate melted in their mouths. They measured three situations: when the chocolate was simply held in the mouth, when it was held and agitated, and when it was chewed.
This week they did the same experiment but with sugar tablets. The teacher counted down, “Three, two, one, GO!” And they popped the tablets into their mouths.
My daughter can’t tell me whether the teacher burst out laughing before the first kid spat out the super sour lemon candy they had been tricked into eating or whether she held on for a few more seconds. She says, though, that she kept hers in until her face turned red and tears came to her eyes.
“Not crying tears, but tears like when you do a big yawn.”
Year Walk is a great little mystery game. It’s not hard, but there were a couple of times that I wanted someone to whisper a hint in my ear to help me move forward. Venturing onto the web I found only step-by-step illustrated walkthroughs made, I suppose, for people who hate to play games.
Here are some proper hints - first some general ones.
Make a map: the Year Walk game world is small. You think you can hold it in your head but you just can’t, Nemo.
Get your hands dirty: if it looks like it matters, it matters. Touch it, drag it, spin it, slide it, twist - unlock it. Technologic. Technologic.
And remember: one hand good, two hands better.
No Companion: if you don’t like mystery, why are you playing a mystery game? Save it till you’ve played though once. You’ll need it to open that darned box, too.
That’s really all you need to know. Here are some extra pointers for bits that had me scratching my head.
Box: the secret hides in the companion app. Leave it till later.
Owls: Make them sing. What? You don’t know the song? Maybe someone is hanging around who can give you some pointers.
Forest: Use your ears. Even if you’re tone deaf you can tell the difference between a high-five and a bad-luck-try-again.
Infants: Not even the Buddha can carry a baby with one finger.
And in case of broken gravity, do a cartwheel.
Church: You’ve seen the answer. You just need to put your fingers on it.
Yesterday I drove 60 kilometres south to help by brother-in-law lay the concrete foundation for a wall he’s building in the back yard. My “help” consisted mainly of levelling of the concrete, scraping stubborn bits of concrete from the bottom of the wheelbarrow, and clumsily collapsing the carefully shaped sides of the trench he and my sister spent most of the previous day digging. In spite of my incompetence I was rewarded with a thanks and a homemade hamburger.
The nicest part of the day, though, was the drive. It’s about an hour each way – perfect for listening to some Pavement. I got through most of Wowee Zowee on the way there and listened to Terror Twilight on the way back, haphazardly singing along as best I could. Both of these records were released while I was in Japan, so it was the first time I had listened to them properly cranked up as I flew along the freeway at 100 kph. I never knew what I was missing.