Speed Racer (2008)

Speed Racer is the Wachowski siblings’ perhaps underrated, largely unsuccessful adaptation of an anime/manga story about a boy named Speed Racer who dreams of being a professional race car driver like his disgraced, deceased older brother Rex. The racing world eats dreamers for breakfast, though, so Speed’s success requires every ounce of determination he has, as well as help from his mom, his dad, his girlfriend Trixie, his best friend Sparky, his little brother Spritle, a chimpanzee—and a mysterious ally known as Racer X.

For me, this movie is a fantastic dramatization of the passion of the expert and the pursuit and achievement of justice in the face of staggering odds. I love it. I love it for reasons that are more like feelings than they are like reasons. I don’t think I can properly explain.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/speed-racer-2008/id285221033

Beware spoilers below.

Continue reading Speed Racer (2008)

Fruit that looks like other objects

We bought this collection of objects (tray and wooden fruit) on our trip to Bali and Lombok, Indonesia.

It occurred to me that each fruit looks like some other object.

The one on the left, which would look like a star in cross-section, is a starfruit. It’s the most familiar of this batch to a North American.

The one that looks like a grenade is a durian. Those are famous for being stinky and prickly.

The scaly fig is a snake fruit (aka Salak). I ate one off a tree while hiking through the woods. It was sticky.

The one at the top is, I think, a rose apple (water apple), and looks like a nose in cross section. This one, however, looks very pear-like and has what look like leaves or a flower at the bottom, which is not typical in my experience. It might also be a pomegranate (delima); that would explain the structure at the bottom but not the pear shape.

The one that looks like a soccer ball is… actually I don’t know. Maybe a sugar apple (custard apple, srikaya)?

We figure we probably overpaid because the guy running the shop gave us the pear-looking-thing for free. I think he also wrote a lower selling price on the receipt and pocketed the difference.

Nevertheless, we love these strange wooden objects. They’re well made, and the detail on the snake fruit, in particular, is amazing.

Books on Singapore English

I’ve been collecting observations of my own about the features of English here in Singapore, but others have published books on the subject (some more serious than others).

I have these four books. They are all a bit silly.

  • English as it is Broken
    Panpac (2007) ISBN: 9789812730497
  • English as it is Broken 2
    Panpac (2008) ISBN: 9789812802859
  • The Coxford Singlish Dictionary
    Angsana (2009) ISBN: 9789814193689
  • An Essential Guide to Singlish
    Samantha Hanna (2003) ISBN: 9789810467081

I would like to have some books written more for linguistic purposes than for mere entertainment.

  • Singapore English: Structure, Variation, and Usage
    by Jakob R. E. Leimgruber (2013) ISBN: 9781107027305
  • Singapore English: A Grammatical Description
    edited by Lisa Lim (2004) ISBN: 9781588115768
  • English in Singapore: Modernity and Management (Asian Englishes Today)
     edited by Lisa Lim (2010) ISBN: 9789888028436

Fast Track: No Limits (2008)

This street-racing movie was set in Germany and had a European flavor.

There are four main characters:

  • the female owner of a family garage,
  • her boyfriend, who’s a street racer and in law enforcement,
  • an American pizza delivery boy who wants to race,
  • the wife of a rich German who wants him to teach her to race.

The primary source of tension (there are several) comes from the struggle to keep the nearly bankrupt family garage open.

What sticks in my mind most is a negative. After some kid loses a street race, one of the henchmen of the crime boss cuts his hand off. Yuck!

Wrinkle in Time (2003)

Madeleine L’Engle’s novel A Wrinkle in Time is an odd mix of fantasy, science-fiction, and Christian self-improvement pitched at young readers and published in 1952. Some aspects of the story lend themselves well to cinematic depiction, but unfortunately the climax is hard to dramatize. That didn’t stop Disney from trying. Although it’s not a great movie (it was made for television, not theaters), I’m glad it exists. I’ve now watched it twice. Yes, that’s a VHS tape.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/a-wrinkle-in-time/id728131941

See below for more thoughts on this adaptation. Beware SPOILERS.

Continue reading Wrinkle in Time (2003)

Signaling tense and aspect

Chinese does not have ‘grammar’ the way European languages do because words are not inflected. There are no plurals, noun cases or past tense. All the memorization of declensions you have to do when you study, say, Germanic, Slavic and Romance languages—that kind of stuff is absent from Chinese entirely (though you would of course be foolish to conclude that Chinese is therefore easy). So how are the relationships between words indicated? Context, adverbs and particles.

Let’s look at verb tense (specifically past tense) and aspect (specifically completed aspect) in Singlish as influenced by Chinese.

Continue reading Signaling tense and aspect

Why Johnny Can’t Read

Why Johnny Can’t Read is a rant, but the rant is justified if the ‘whole-word’ method was as dominant as the author, Rudolf Flesch, claims.

How infuriating that someone assumed, and led a whole country to assume, that because adult readers take in whole words in a glimpse when reading that that was how reading should be taught to children, rather than by sounding out the letters and letter combinations.

Flesch proposes that parents teach their kids at home using a phonetic system very much like the one I’m teaching now.