Rabu, 25 Februari 2009

Reader Eric C. emailed me this ad for aussieBum underwear.

From Engrish & Hanzi Smatter

The top two characters appeared to me as mirrored 决心 ("determination"). I have no idea what the reference of two characters below, , is about. means "[to] cut down", and means "big".

Oh dear...

I think the model has unintentionally tattooed himself with "determined to cut down something big".

Update: I found a photo of the same male model via Google, who is he?

Selasa, 24 Februari 2009

Yes, just as the title says, it is true, finally (*rolls eyes*) filled with self-doubt and trepidation, I am finished climbing the mountain. Factotum MBT Book3 1st Draft is complete! Now all that is left is to climb all the way down the other side.

Now for some celebratory answers!

Sylvenger was wondering ... 'in the video from Youtube for Lamplighter, it pronounces Europe's name exactly like the continent "YUR-up". I don't know, when I read the books I just thought it would be pronounced with a little more sophistication, like "yoo-ROE-puh".'

Actually, when used ordinarily it is said "YOO-rup", though for more formal situations you will find it written Europa and said "yoo-ROE-puh".

Ben Bryddia was wondering "... how nearly the present editions of Books 1 and 2 match their original drafts. In hindsight, would you have written them very differently?"

The final volumes you all have read bear marked differences from the very first drafts, pace, detail, the fleshing out of a situation to enrich events and characters, the reduction or moving of detail to the Explicarium, the tightening of my language, refining refining refining have been the usual process for making a final draft of both of the previous two MBTs. Friends how have had the dubious 'honour' of reading the first and final drafts inevitably comment on the general air of tightness and little improvements throughout the final text. I am looking forward to the process of improvement for Factotum upon whose threshold I now stand.

We are getting there folks; thank you all for sticking in there with me and for you most excellent minds and your support.

Kamis, 19 Februari 2009

I would just like to take this opportunity to correct the doggerel that Rossamund recalls of Swill early in Lamplighter. I got the metre all out o' whack and would like to offer to you a slightly improved version (and so let you in on my restless and constant polishing of the H-c)

Honorius Ludius Grotius Swill
Will saw off your limbs, but eschews the pill;
For coughs he takes fingers, a sneeze he'll take toes,
But fevers will cost you your ears and your nose.

So no its syllable count for each line is 11, 10, 11, 11 whereas before it was 11, 9, 12,11 - which does not sound like much but I like the rhythm in the more even structure of the new version better - sounds more lilting in my head.

If at this point you think I a little nuts, you just might be right...

To answer a couple o' questions:

Yes Jenny M, MBT will be a trilogy but I truly intend and hope to bring you other tales from the Half-Continent over the years in what, Lord willing, will be a long term relationship between me and you all, an ongoing expounding of this pretend place through story and reference, a picture book (cheers Differlot) maybe film, and what ever else can express it best. What the next book after Factotum will be, I can as yet not really say... I do have ideas though.

Kathryn I will be showing the little man's face in Book 3.

And right now Portals I am just about to finish the 1st draft of Book 3 (such as it is), and for most f this year shall be editing it (several times), drawing character illos, writing the Explicarium for Book 3 (which may need to be shorter to make room for the story), complete the cover for the US edition and tweak the ANZ cover, attend various public events, finish off the map for Book 3, finalise the Appendices for Book 3, make all necessary corrections to all of the above... And in the period between handing everything up and it going to the printers I will be taking a great big breath.

Senin, 16 Februari 2009

From www.rankmytattoos.com:

I'm Robert (aka. iluvchickswithinks81), I got these Chinese and Russian characters at Hardcore Tattoo, also the tribals on my shoulders that go up onto my neck, my last name inside my arm in old english lettering and last but not least my nipple pierced.

Robert's back is covered with random characters. All of them are poorly done and some of them are not even correct. I have yet seen the Russian characters he is referring to.

This is absolutely shitty tattoo work.

Sabtu, 14 Februari 2009

from: Nick B.
to: tiangotlost@gmail.com
date: Sat, Feb 14, 2009 at 9:56 AM
subject: Tshirt query

Hi Tian,

I've been wearing this shirt for years. Having just discovered your site I'm now a bit worried...

Please tell me it doesn't say something stupid and make me look like more of an idiot than normal.



(ps: keep up the good work! :D)

Alan and I had a good laugh at this shirt and here is what Alan said:

Well, I'll tell you what it says, and you can decide whether it is stupid or not.

From what I can tell, the text on the T-shirt appears to have been cut-and-pasted from the warranty information for an IBM Japan (now Lenovo) computer.

I can tell this because the phone number 0120-20-5550 on the shirt is that for the company's Japanese support center.

Also, just to the right of the neck of the shirt, you will see BMサービ, which was obviously cut from IBMサービス・センター (IBM Service Center).

The Japanese text itself says things like: "In the case that a malfunction should occur, only repair service will be offered." or "We do not accept orders by FAX."

The text is incomplete and overlapping and hard to read, so it is pretty pointless to try to read much more than this, but I think you get the point.

I don't know, but it might have a certain Japanese computer geek allure, although I have no idea if that is up your alley.
from: William P.
to: tiangotlost@gmail.com
date: Sat, Feb 7, 2009 at 11:43 PM
subject: Tattoo Help

I got this tattoo years ago. It's supposed to be the Chinese character for smooth. I'm just wondering whether or not that's what it means.


Tattoo Help

means "[to] slip/slide" or slippery".

Update: Reader Traveler was unsatisfied with my entry and offered an addition of his own:

Tian, I love your site. Though, to toss in a friendly comment, IMHO you often respond to inquiries with just a simple explanation of what some character means. Without delving into the writer's real, unspoken question: "Yeah, but does this make any sense as a tattoo?"

So, if I may humbly attempt to give this poor defaced person some extra context to help understand what he's done to his arm :

The character with meanings of "slip/slide/slippery" is perhaps the closest one could get to a single character meaning "smooth" – but just in the literal sense of "non-rough (surface)". Unless I'm mistaken, it carries no Chinese/Japanese meaning equating to the English slang meanings of "smooth" - sophisticated, cool, polished, urbane, etc. - which I would guess is what Mr P had in mind.

Often, you also (kindly) decline to comment on the artistic merit of the tattoos you present. But, assuming that Mr P would bravely want to know:

It's awful. Just hideous - yet another hack job by an "artist" who simply has no idea how a character is properly constructed.

So, assuming Mr P really wants to know whether his tattoo makes any sense or not: No, from the perspective of a Chinese/Japanese reader, it's both meaningless and ineptly drawn. That said, from the perspective of people who don't read Chinese/Japanese - presumably the majority of this tattoo's "audience" - well, I suppose it may be just fine. Mr P can tell people it means "smooth", or "smooth operator", or "Ninja samurai dragon honor", and that it's an expert artistic rendition by Shaolin calligrapher monks... and few will be the wiser. In that sense, he can go forth and feel comfortable with it!
from: Richard K.
to: tiangotlost@gmail.com
date: Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 9:21 PM
subject: hanzismatter submission

I am writing this with my hands over my eyes, peeking through my fingers to see if I get the answer ... I got this tattooed on my back in retaliation (yes, a permanent mark in a fit of spite) for an ex-girlfriend's own tattoo of some trampy "angel" that spanned from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. Even if this tattoo means "homosexual lover" it's not as bad as the cracked out Tinkerbell on her back (at least that's what I keep telling myself)! Help me out, because I'm eager to know if this is what it says it is. If not, I have to get it covered up with a giant penis or a hamburger or something else somewhat less ridiculous.

Should add that I expected it meant "to give love".


Richard K.

Since has almost no meaning in Chinese, I asked Alan to see if he can dig up something in Japanese. He replied they have no meaning in Japanese either.

Happy Valentine's Day Singles Awareness Day!

Rabu, 11 Februari 2009

from: James T.
to: tiangotlost@gmail.com
date: Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 3:00 PM
subject: hanzismatter.com submission

Hi, thought you might get a kick out of this. I saw it in my local Asda supermarket (in the UK). I take it to be 女耳魚号日月 (woman, ear, fish, number, day, month) and 雨馬魚耳雲 (rain, horse, fish, ear, cloud), with the middle two 実神 meaning 'true god'. Dunno if thats the same that it is in Chinese, but I have to say that no truly authentic Tokyoite from Shinjuku would wear this shirt, except ironically I guess!

Loved the site for years!

from: Laura I.
to: tiangotlost@gmail.com
date: Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 1:31 PM
subject: Japanese/Chinese characters

I recently bought a poster with Chinese/Japanese characters on it, and I wanted to be sure the characters actually said what the poster told me they meant. Can you verify that they do mean what they said they mean? I've enclosed a picture. Thanks!

I have seen similar posters before where is used incorrect to represent "harmony". It means "key".

The character does not mean "prosper", rather "spoon".

Senin, 09 Februari 2009

This is an updated, slightly more "polished" design version of a previous rough for Europe's final harness in Book 3.

That's all...

Jumat, 06 Februari 2009

from: Emily B.
to: tiangotlost@gmail.com

date: Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 2:55 PM
subject: Tattoo

i got this tattoo years ago it was supposed to mean warrior- now I'm just really questioning whether or not that's what it means.
Can you help? Thanks,



It looks like this "warrior" had some combat injury.

Actually, by itself only means "military; martial, warlike".

Perhaps the same person did her tattoo work also painted these handicap parking space logos:

Armless Handicapped Parking Spot 01

Selasa, 03 Februari 2009

You might be wondering what the new poll asking about a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure [TM] style story is all for. Well, I was reckoning that when Book 3 1st draft and maybe edit passes are finally done we could embark on a project together where I write an entry upon a certain Half-Continent character, list a poll of options for their next action, give you a week or two or three to choose which way next, write that, give you more options to choose for the next bit and so on (am I making sense?) and maybe build story together. So I have put up a poll to start and we shall go from there.

Thoughts anyone?

To add a little spice to the entry I am also including some sneak peak appendices proposed for Book 3 (though constraints of book length might mean some do not make it in... we shall see) Until then, I hope you enjoy these.

If you find any errors (such as the one for "parry" on the sabrine adept image) don't fret, these have yet to go under an editor's scrupulous eye.

Minggu, 01 Februari 2009

from: Kim
to: tiangotlost@gmail.com
date: Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 2:14 PM
subject: Requesting help - possible wrong kanji for tattoo

I was recently in Hawaii, got a tattoo that was suppose to be the kanji for HOPE however now that I am home I have done some searching and everything I am finding is not what I actually got. Could you possibly have any idea what actually I have now tattoo'd to my back?


by itself means "a period of time, date".

is "hope" and is more common.