Monday, March 10, 2008

Found in Translation


Write the first three lines of a very simple scene. Two people. A simple relationship and setting.

For me, it's a teenage boy and his stepmom. He has just walked into the kitchen through the backdoor. She is cutting carrots. He has peeled off his backpack and left it on the floor. he goes over to the refrigerator and opens it up. He takes out a milk carton, looks at her, and drinks from the carton. She looks at him and continues cutting.

STEPMOM: The principal called today.

BOY: He doesn't like me.

STEPMOM: Really? Clearly, he just hasn't taken the time to get to know you like I have.

Now, take the three lines of dialogue and head over to AltaVista's Babel Fish.

Take the dialogue and translate it into French.

STEPMOM: Le directeur a appelé aujourd'hui.

BOY: Il ne m'aime pas.

STEPMOM: Vraiment ? Clairement, il juste n'a pas pris le temps de finir par vous connaître comme j'ai.

Then translate it from French into German.

STEPMOM: Der Direktor hat heute gerufen.

BOY: Er mag mich nicht.

STEPMOM: Wirklich? Deutlich hat er soeben die Zeit nicht in Anspruch genommen, durch Sie zu beenden, zu kennen, wie ich habe.

Then from German back to English.

STEPMOM: The director called today.

BOY: He does not like me.

STEPMOM: Really? It just did not take the time up clearly to terminate by you to know how I have.

So, from here, I forget about what I started with and see what I think about where I ended up. "Principal" became "director." I could keep the relationship and have the scene be about how the boy is screwing up in a play. Or maybe it's his first professional gig. I love the last line, it's a lot of words that create a basket full of nonsense. Not very useful, but I like the word "terminate" which means the boy's future as an actor could be on the line. The stepmom could also be trying too hard to manage the boy's career, either sincerely trying to help or trying to live through her stepson.

Is it better than what I would have come up with on my own? Probably not. But given that I write from my own particular brain, it's a way to consider language or situations that I wouldn't normally be pulled toward.

Speaking of brains...


WNEP Theater Presents an Exhibition reading of


by Joe Janes

featuring John Wilson, Don Hall, Dana Black, Sharko Bizarre, Merrie Greenfield, Nancy Friedrich, Rebecca langguth, Kevin Gladish, Micheal Brownlee, Joe Janes and Dave Stinton

Saturday, March 15th (Don't say it!) 7pm at the Uptwon Writer's Space, 4802 North Broadway, suite 200. Tickets are $5. There will be wine, if you are wondering. SEATING is LIMITED. First come first served...that is the world's way.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Comcast SportsNet was called upon to apologize and discontinue an ad that mocked the name of a which town?"

33% said "Butte Face, Arkansas"
- Hey. Stop calling me Butte Face. Call me by my real name. Cliff.

22% said "Diquewad, Montana"
- The great founder, Jeremiah Diquewad, would be offended by this.

22% said "Titz, Nevada"
- Where all the Vegas showgirls come from.

And another 23% got it right with "Athol, Massachusetts"

According to WWLP Channel 22, Comcast SportsNet is apologizing for making Athol the butt of its jokes (their words, not mine). The cable sports network is also pulling print ads leaders of the small central Massachusetts town called insulting and offensive. The ads read: "We can pronounce Worcester without sounding like an Athol." But leaders of the town point out their community isn't pronounced like the similarly sounding vulgarity -- but "ATH'-ul." Comcast SportsNet spokesman Skip Perham says the ad was intended as a humorous play on words.

Perham said this while dipping into some snuff and daintily dabbing his nostrils with a handkerchief. Well played, Mr. Perham, well played.

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