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David Tennant's American accent
I was watching a news show and saw a promo for Gracepoint, which is the American version of Broadchurch. I can't believe I haven't seen Broadchurch since I've seen a lot of other British TV shows, but now I'm interested. But what I'm more interested in is David Tennant, who has an American accent in Gracepoint.

He's Scottish, but he's already stretched himself by using a British accent for the various TV shows he's done there. But in Broadchurch he has a strong Scottish accent, so I'm sure he was able to relax. However, in the American show, I bet he had to work very hard at developing the right sound. I don't know how successful he is because I can't find videos online that show his performance at length. All that seems to be out there are previews, like this one:



A number of British press outlets have quoted Alicia Lutes from her interesting analysis of his accent, and props goes to the Guardian for providing the link to the article (others didn't). Lutes criticizes his accent but I don't think it's so bad, at least the tiny parts I've seen. Maybe if I could watch an entire episode, I'd be a better judge.

Actually, Erica Buist gives an interesting analysis in the Guardian that is a counter-argument to Lutes' criticism. But I am not taking sides since I don't have enough to go on.

A nerdy type took the time to put together a comparison of the two TV shows' trailers, so you can see how Tennant switches between his Scottish and American accents. You can also see how similar the two shows seem to be, which seems risky since anyone can see either and might be annoyed at how close they are.



One person whose American accent is weak and who seems self-conscious about it is Poppy Montgomery (which I criticized before). It seems like she's trying so hard to have an American accent, it makes her acting suffer because she doesn't show much emotion and seems like she's in accent-survival mode. Because I'm aware of her struggle, it keeps me from just sitting back and enjoying her performance. I've seen her shortcomings in Without a Trace and a TV movie she was in called "Murder in the Hamptons", but TV Guide includes her in a "Worst American Accents" list for her "confusing" accent in Unforgettable. She's really Australian, yet doesn't seem to use her native accent in TV interviews, either.

Anyway, we'll see how David Tennant does in the new show and if other people approve or criticize him in his American portrayal. And for the record, there are plenty of Americans who can't do a proper British accent or even southern American accent, so it looks like various actors need good voice coaches.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Margaret Larkin)
Publ.Date : Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:38:00 +0000

How blogs used to be
I came across a blog that was linked from Twitter, and it really reminds me of what blogs were like before Fakebook became popular. It's called Random Thoughts from an Info Junkie by David Eppley, and what strikes me is how personal it seems. I've been reading blogs for several years (mine is going to be 10 years old next year), so I remember when blogs were the way people communicated with each other, discussed issues, shared feelings, and even became friends.

Then social media became more mainstream, and people started sharing more there. I can understand why, because you get a more immediate response, you have a closed system of friends, and essentially a captive, engaged audience. Uninformed "analysts" claim that social media has made blogs obsolete, but I disagree because information can be shared in different ways online.

But what's emerged are a lot of informational blogs, blogs built for business, marketing, and other pragmatic functions, and it seems like it's becoming harder to find the more organic, honest, and non-commercial blogs.

I sort of miss those blog-dominant days because a network grew that allowed a variety of voices and styles to be read outside the mainstream media. It came to a point where I stopped reading some established columnists because their observations seemed inane, and they seemed arrogant. I remember the "media elite" dissing blogs and other online expression, and I even wrote a post about it around seven years ago. So as they hunkered down in judgement of "us", I alternatively found lots of great writing and thoughts from people who had a passion to express themselves but hadn't had a vehicle before.

Even I started posting at Fakebook more than here (as you can see from the dwindling post numbers over the years), but it sort of backfired. I assumed Fakebook was a briefer version of blogs, thus thought there was nothing weird about posting my feelings and struggles about challenging pursuits. But when someone said I appeared unhappy and some others showed concern that I was posting such stuff online, I looked around and realized the bloggy aesthetic had morphed into a shallow, vain expression that sets out to impress rather than share. I didn't think my FB posts were a big deal and not that revealing or pitiful, either, but I wasn't successfully conforming to the environment the FB bosses had created (as described in the book I read), so I seemed "unhappy", that "something was wrong."

So yes, count me as someone who's sort of lamenting the loss of the blog world as it used to be, though I'm sure those blogs can still be found in a few corners of the Web.

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Margaret Larkin)
Publ.Date : Mon, 03 Jun 2013 22:51:00 +0000

Acknowledgments with a twist

This week, John Records Landecker's memoir, Records is Truly My Middle Name, is being released, and he has written Acknowledgments that end like this:

I would like to thank everyone who listened. I would also like to thank everybody I ever worked with — but if you’re one of those people who made my life a living hell — go f--- yourself.

I don't think I've seen such sentiments in an author's preface, but I'm sure he said what lots of people want to say.

BTW--the book was produced by Rick Kaempfer, a fantastic author who I interviewed for this blog about his books  and The Living Wills.

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Margaret Larkin)
Publ.Date : Mon, 25 Mar 2013 22:19:00 +0000

In too deep: a stilted translation
I saw a post at Madameriri and decided to translate it because it was titled: "I often tell foreigners 'I don't watch anime'." What I should've done is finished reading it before I dived [or dove] in, because I thought it was about a Japanese person who doesn't like anime. So I slogged through it, and by the end I realized that the writer *did* like anime, or at least didn't mind them.

Not only did I spend a lot of time translating it, but my translation ended up sounding like stilted English. And that's the problem a lot of translators have: do you try to stay true to the original text, or do you write/edit it to make it sound really smooth and natural in the target language, thus majorly reworking the original author's word choice?

I've been trying to figure out what to do. I'd spent all this time translating it, plus the title was deceptive, and the original writing seemed sort of vague and circular in how the author was trying to make her point. I was thinking of not posting it because it sounds sort of odd, but I didn't want all that work to go to waste. So I've decided to post the stilted version instead of rewriting the English to sound like a regular blog post. Did I do the wrong thing?! I don't know! But I hope it makes sense. I need to let go and move on! So here it is, the translation of「私は日本のアニメは見ない」という外国人にありがちなこと:
Japanese anime have been popular abroad for a while. But even now, there are a lot of people throughout the world who have a prejudiced view of anime. Japanese anime are for "geeks who like Japan" or they’re what "kids" watch, so I decided to not watch them.

Until now, when foreigners asked me which anime I watch, I’ve usually said, "I don't really watch them." If I had seen any, it was just one of Ghibli’s, or what I'd occasionally watched with my siblings. Basically, I hadn't really seen them--that's because I decided I didn’t like them, and because of the image they have.

When I’d hear people talk, I’d think, "How pitiful." As a result of deciding not to watch anime, I've probably missed out on seeing a lot of great ones. It’s up to the individual to watch or not watch anime. And even if they disappear from society, they'll still live on. But saying, "I don't like that thing" can give the wrong impression, and that person’s life and outlook can seem narrow.

Other than anime, these things have often come up:

"I don't trust raw fish, so I don't eat sushi."
"I've never eaten blue cheese and it seems impossible. I will not eat it."
"Indian movie? I haven't seen one, not interested."
"Since I get along well with Japanese people, I don't need foreign friends." …etc.

A while ago, I met an American foreign student who wanted whatever she ate and saw explained to her. For instance, when we ate champon, she asked questions such as, "How was this soup made?" "What kinds of seafood are in there?" "Is the seafood in here also in America?" "Where does the shrimp come from?" etc. She ended up not eating champon, and I was disappointed that I couldn't introduce her to that delicious Japanese food.

Perhaps if she'd trusted me and tried the champon, she probably would've thought, "Unforgettable Japanese flavor." It would've been good for her to take even just one bite. It would’ve been good to do it, even if it tasted just slightly good.

It’s better to try eating something instead of being afraid. Then someone can decide if they like it or hate it. If someone doesn't eat it, they won’t know how it tastes, so they can't say anything about it. Even if it doesn’t taste good, it's good to understand that it's "bad."

A while ago, I didn't like anime or manga. At that time, after my foreign boyfriend (who's now my husband) pretty much forced me to watch anime, I thought, "Japanese anime are wonderful." Until then I'd decided, "Anime are something kids watch" and thought I was stupid for believing that.

Inside of me there's a subconscious "decision" box that's been cleared, but it's difficult. I really want to protect the box, and by making the box important, I protect myself, though it reverses unexpectedly.

When I try Out of the Box thinking (thinking outside boundaries), the best benefit for me is that I am not like others. And if I don’t like myself, I have to first try.

Maybe I will start to know things my entire life.

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Margaret Larkin)
Publ.Date : Fri, 09 May 2014 20:51:00 +0000

An extrovert in an introverted world
I've been thinking about this for a while and have searched online for blog posts or articles about extroverts dealing with an introverted culture, but have barely seen anything. Some articles tend to be about the characteristics of extroverts vs introverts, or how extroverts are misunderstood. But in my case, I've had to submerge my more extroverted qualities to survive in the introverted world.

First of all, I'm not struggling as much as I was several months ago when I was doing a lot of work that didn't require much talking because I've been teaching, which requires talking and the ability to connect with people. Plus, my coworkers are extroverts and are truly interested in people, so I feel like I've been liberated from the introverted shackles that surround people like me who just want to be ourselves. When I first returned to teaching after a couple semesters off, my boss asked me what was wrong because I was so quiet. I told her that I had been silenced and limited for months, and had to act a certain way to survive and be tolerated. It seems like a weird concept in a place of extroverts, but I eventually adjusted to that more open environment and have felt satisfied. And in my non-teaching work, I don't deal with people directly but I work with people who like to chat, so it's a good balance. Still, it shouldn't be so rare that I have to write about the exceptions.

I'm married to an introvert, so I know very well what they're like. They're drained by people, they need alone time, they feel pressure to talk, etc. There are several articles and blog posts about introverts' trials and tribulations, especially since Susan Cain wrote the book Quiet, which I read with amazement. What world is she talking about?! In many workplaces, it seems that only certain people are allowed to talk or even attend meetings and conventions. But I see those people as part of the elite, or in highly paid jobs that are hard to get. When a meeting is required, usually the managers are the ones that go, and if more people are invited, the lower level employees aren't really allowed to give feedback or show their personality (especially if they work in a hierarchy of personality), so they have to stay quiet. Yet Cain was talking about meetings, social functions, group work...she was a highly paid attorney in a high-powered job. The average worker doesn't have such opportunities. And it's more apparent when an extrovert has to deal with such a situation. A lot of work has to be done on a computer, and that has nothing to do with people interaction. I'm sure she had to work on a computer too, but she was in a privileged position that allowed her to walk away from the screen to attend the extroverted functions she abhorred. Hey Susan Cain, if you have a Google alert activated and see this blog post, please contact me and explain how I can get a piece of your extroverted chores. I will gladly take on speaking engagements (she's become so successful, that she has expanded the opportunities from her extroverted-oriented jobs to having to do speeches, including the impossible-to-score Ted Talk), social activities, and other tasks in a life that seems far from the usual drudgery that people have to put up with.

For an extrovert, jobs shouldn't have to be totally people-oriented to be satisfying (like nursing, teaching, customer service, retail). I don't want to always work with people because I like to write, research, read, take care of website content, and do other introverted things. But hey, people like me who like to do such work also want people contact and to laugh and socialize. We want social interaction to break up the silence. We don't mind being interrupted. We want to use our minds but occasionally use our mouths, too, and we want a lively atmosphere because we like people-oriented stimulation. But I've noticed that in situations where computers are a necessary tool and there's a certain power structure in place, the ones who are in the special segment get to do more than just stare at a screen. They get to go to functions and conduct training sessions and socialize with others in the upper echelon.

And it's not just attaining such access to those more extroverted activities, but being able to be ourselves. That in itself should be a blog post, because I think it is very difficult to be yourself, even if "experts" in American culture say that's the ideal goal. Actually, being yourself can be detrimental whether you're an extrovert or not. One time I talked to someone who loved acting, loved becoming someone else, loved becoming a character. I've always maintained that I would love to be...me. We're too busy trying to survive by not being who we are, that becoming someone else seems to be superfluous. However, even if it is rare, it is possible to be who you are if you're working or circulating in social/extracurricular circles where such tolerance to authenticity exists.

Then there's the changing workplace, where work isn't done at a company with other people. I often hear about the great economy that existed after World War II and for several years after that, where people got jobs...somewhere physical. Now companies are fractured and people freelance or work alone. What a perfect economy for an introvert but a nightmare for an extrovert. Even if someone has a job at a place, they may not be able to stay there long or establish relationships with their coworkers due to downsizing, layoffs, dysfunction that results from paranoia and restrictions, etc. But in Cain's baffling world, people have jobs, they work with others, they have to survive a workplace where collaboration and communication are required. What a great concept...can you hook me up with your nightmare?

Anyway, other than work is just the world that we live in--it's more introverted because technology has created walls. A lot of interaction is online or through other digital tools, and people don't know how to communicate offline so well. That's another reason why I find Cain's book puzzling. She talked about the school culture, which is very well suited to my needs, since there are lots of social opportunities and clubs to join. But once we leave school, we're faced with a hyper-individualistic culture where people use their phones more for texting than talking, and where people like to stick to small talk, if they talk at all, because they haven't been socialized too well to actually deal with people. Everyone says introverts don't like small talk, and guess what...extroverts like me don't like it either. We like to communicate with live people and have fun, but that doesn't mean we want to talk about nothing all day. Also, people assume that extroverts like talking to just anyone, but I really clam up when I encounter phony people. That's when I do seem like an introvert.

In fact, I've worked or been in so many situations that were restraining, thus were better suited for introverts, that I've learned how to be more introverted myself. I've gone days without talking, and inside my head I was suffering, but outside I seemed like a bland, quiet person who didn't have much to say. People have even told me I'm introverted and have been surprised when I've said I really am not. I'm just not a shallow extrovert (and there's nothing wrong with those kinds of people--at least they're excited to live) but rather someone who really is energized by people--as long as they're interesting and not phony :) So to those introverts who feel like they have to be extroverted: I have had to be like you to survive as well. In fact, if Cain did hire me to work for her introverted empire, I'd fit in well because I not only could take on her extroverted tasks, but I would be able to conform to her introversion because I've already been doing it for years.

I did work in a situation that required both introverted and extroverted characteristics, and I had a great time because I worked on a computer for hours, but sometimes salespeople or other extroverts would come in to ask questions, request certain projects, or just chat. It was fantastic because I could use my mind and analytical abilities but could also socialize once in a while. On the flip side, I worked in a situation where there was no extraneous talking tolerated, and I wasn't allowed to ask questions until the end of the day. Or I had to gather up the questions to ask them all at once sometime during the day. So if an extroverted person were to blend work talk with social talk, we'd get in trouble.

Introverts are lucky that they have technology and air conditioning and other things that take them indoors away from people. If you're suffering in a world of extroverts, think about how many times you have to work on a computer, or when you have the option of a computer and phone over live people. There are many opportunities to not socialize with people, especially if you have a drone job instead of a people-oriented one, and you don't have to go out after work, either. There's TV, Internet, books, a solitary walk, and lots of other things introverts can do. But if you're an extrovert and want to score an invite to a cool social event where there are people you can click with, or want to have a job where talking breaks up silent tasks or a top-heavy structure, then good luck! Maybe my short tale of struggle will cause other extroverts to share their stories, thus counter the abundance of pro-introvert stuff online, which is where introverts seem to love to hang out.
Author : noreply@blogger.com (Margaret Larkin)
Publ.Date : Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:50:00 +0000

Are we supposed to play roles?
I've been reading the book Lonely, and it's made me wonder if we're expected, or if society is set up, for us to play roles as we get older. I think when we're in school and we have an outgoing or social personality, we naturally make friends who we can call or hang out with at random times. We don't need structure to connect with others because our interests and personalities help us to bond with them more organically.

But as we get older, most of us have to work to pay bills, and to advance in our careers, we have to navigate tiresome interactions that cut into spontaneity. Not everyone can be trusted because they have their own agenda or they're simply not good people. Or they could just be boring conformists.

Some people amazingly stay in touch with their school friends, so even if they're isolated in a new situation, they manage to have some type of social life that doesn't require them to be anything than who they are. There is so much movement and individualism in American society (the one I know best since I live here), that it's like people are putting up fences around themselves as they proceed on their own tracks. So crossover seems to occur in structured situations: work, kids' schools and activities, or groups people join.

There are many causes of loneliness (which I want to discuss in another post sometime), but one of them is the lack of connecting with people through natural interactions. If someone gets involved in an organization, it's easy to communicate with people through formal events or plans. But what would happen if the organization ceased to exist? Would those people want to hang out and even help each other? What about mothers who are in the suburbs raising kids and connect with other moms around them through sports, park programs, PTA, etc? When those kids grow up and move away, they won't have the kids' activities and goals to work within to connect to other parents. So their role is a mother, a working professional's role is entrenched in a socially inclined workplace, and another person is on the board of some group. Their roles are set, and they come with places they belong.

But is it possible to belong without having a formal title or role? I know only a few people who don't tie relationships to roles or responsibilities. They just like to connect with people and make an effort to communicate despite the context. But it seems most people expect pieces to be in place, and when a piece of the environment is gone, the cord is cut.

American society seems transient and temporary, which I think causes isolation and loneliness.


Author : noreply@blogger.com (Margaret Larkin)
Publ.Date : Sat, 12 Apr 2014 17:59:00 +0000

A typo on Canada Day
Today is Canada Day, and while I'm not Canadian, I like that place and have been there more than a few times. Actually, I'd like to go again, but my passport has to be renewed :D

I was looking at different Canada Day articles, and discovered a typo that the Canadian radio station, Newstalk 1010 (CFRB), committed: using "it's" instead of "its". "It's" is a contraction of "it is", and "its" is the possessive form. Oh well, maybe those Canadians will eventually learn proper English :p


Author : noreply@blogger.com (Margaret Larkin)
Publ.Date : Sun, 01 Jul 2012 14:02:00 +0000

The Help
Yesterday I did a post about The Hierarchy of Personality. This is part two:

I'm talking about radio, but I'm sure the entertainment business and TV news also have talent who treat people like The Help. Some people who are on the air haven't gotten the memo about the democratization of the media. They think they are the most important figures in the culture and think people are there to serve them, whether they're producers, interns, sales people, or even station management. They are the performers, they seem to think, they're the ones disseminating information, and it doesn't seem to occur to them that they are human beings who are equal in worth to other human beings.

Talent who see others as The Help express such an attitude in various ways. When sales people go to talk to them, they see it as a waste of their time and might grant an audience for a brief moment before they say they have to leave. They think sales is not supposed to be in the vicinity of their craft. After all, they are the talent, and the sales people are "over there"; why would they want to spend time with them? They're part of the bean counter class; they don't get it. And when station management wants the talent to participate in a meeting, they don't see it as necessary because meetings are for regular workers who have to do what they're told. They think management doesn't understand how hard it is to talk into that microphone every day, to come up with something witty and compelling. They're just a bunch of suits that don't get it either. And producers: who are they? They're supposed to have everything ready and do everything, even when the talent change their minds. It's as if the talent are lying on a divan and are being fanned by large feathers which The Help hold. If the talent want the fanning to go faster, they end up complaining that it's too fast, even though they requested it. They'll keep changing their speed requests and are never satisfied and complain that The Help are inept because they're not able to deliver what they want. Or it's as if the producers are holding buckets that must catch every drop of liquid that spills over from the talent's cup, wherever the talent go and however they're holding the cup, even if it's not correct or structurally sound.

Sometimes the talent will appear really nice, but they're really being condescendingly benevolent because if they don't treat The Help graciously, they won't get what they want. But behind closed doors, when they're talking to what they perceive as their equals, they'll complain about The Help, no matter how small the perceived infraction is. They'll smile and speak in a seemingly professional way because they need a technical issue resolved, which makes The Help feel like they're interacting with talent who are really "cool". But once The Help walk away when equipment is working again, the Talent will roll their eyes to those in their inner circle and nitpick about other problems that are always, in the end, The Help's fault.

But woe to the talent who are confronted with talent who are greater than they are. All of a sudden, they are faced with someone more important, more powerful, more beloved than they are. They get upset when those bigger stars don't respond to them or treat them as The Help. They have no condescension as they do for the lesser people who usually surround them, but aspire to be like that greater talent and even envy them. They look for approval and become disgruntled if they're not considered equal to those higher beings. But it doesn't occur to them to take their negative experience and apply it to those people they treat as The Help. They just resume their attitude and continue their status quo.

But not all hope is lost, because there are talent who understand that the media is no longer the monolith it once was, that they're merely human beings in a business who are interacting with other human beings in the same business. The talent that do not treat others like The Help speak to people respectfully, without condescension. If they're rude, they apologize to those they've yelled at or whom they've been overly demanding towards. They realize that if someone were to behave towards them in such a negative way, they wouldn't like it, which is why they have the humility to recognize they were out of line. They also don't see the people around them as in a caste system, who reside in a lower tier. They see everyone as part of the team, whether it's the intern, producer, management, or janitor. But even if the media weren't in meltdown mode, no talent should treat anyone as The Help, no matter how much power they think they have.

Author : noreply@blogger.com (Margaret Larkin)
Publ.Date : Wed, 26 Jun 2013 20:13:00 +0000
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