Em oi! #376: นักแปล [nakplae, the translator]

I have the skills to...get bug spray for Andy and Sara's room. Possibly.

Another sketch from our trip to Thailand. This actually happened at a down-at-its-heels hotel in Chiang Mai. Eventually Andy and Sara got to move to a slightly better room…but they didn’t manage to get one with a double bed. At the time, I complained that we had landed in the Chiang Mai version of Pham Ngu Lao, a street in Ho Chi Minh City known for cheap/seedy backpacker hotels. I think, having looked at a lot of other hotel reviews, that most places in Chiang Mai are like that. It wasn’t a bad hotel, exactly…well, it was. But it was clearly a nice hotel about ten or fifteen years ago when it was built. And then nothing was updated again.

My nemesis
My nemesis

There was a fiendish device on the bedside table. You can see it in this photo to the right (and now you all know the name of the hotel, oops.). You push a button and the lights turn on or off. Somehow we managed to push the buttons so that around about five o’clock in the morning, the lights started to turn on and off by themselves. You can imagine, given how jet lagged I was, how well that went over. I thought the place was haunted. I guess this was state-of-the-art in like…1980.

I’m maybe a bit bitter because the room smelled like smoke. But later on that day, after our freaky awakening, B got sick and basically slept in the room for 12 hours. I figured at least the sheets were clean and the AC worked.

A few trial sketches of Andy.
A few trial sketches of Andy.

These are my preliminary sketches of Andy, done to prep for this comic and Em oi! #374. I guess he’s lost a fair amount of weight since he got back to Texas, so these are not entirely accurate.

Today we went to see Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi’s prequel to The Wizard of Oz. I found that in the years since I first saw the original, the details of the land of Oz have gotten tangled up in my head with other fantasy places, like Wonderland, Middle Earth, and Australia. There were some details that struck me as kind of bizarre–why would you have a field of poppies that can cause everlasting sleep right next to the Emerald City? Isn’t that a liability case waiting to happen? The witches were also interesting, although I was sad that they went with the old trope of “dark hair bad, blond-y good-y.” Glinda the good witch, played by Michelle Williams, reminded me of Galadriel (blond hair, long white gown, kind of ethereal expression). Then I remembered that amazing scene where Galadriel almost takes the ring, but doesn’t. Wow, she’s a really interesting character in that scene. Too bad Glinda was just blandly kind. Of course it is nice to have one character who is kind, but… Also I am not sure how I feel about the turning-green-as-externalization-of-internalized-self-loathing? And of course no one can out-evil Margaret Hamilton.

There was a lot about families in it though, and a kind of magical scene where Oz (played by James Franco) glues a little china doll’s legs back on. I maybe got a little verklempt.

Now that I think about it, maybe Glinda was a bit more manipulative in the first film, since she doesn’t tell Dorothy how to use the slippers to get home until the very end of the book…

Today I got up and ran 18 miles (well, 18.25). It was an interesting run. I was up in the night with indigestion (from 2:30-4 am) and only got out of bed around 8:30, an hour later than my alarm was set for. Actually, at 8:15, Bryan rolled over and said, “Why are you still here?” I took some drugs and set out, going easy, waiting to see if anything bad would happen…but nothing did. I got tired, since I did the whole run on only 190 calories (two gels, one 90 cal, one 100 cal) plus the glycogen stored from yesterday’s overeating (the thing that caused me so much trouble). Anyway, I mostly shuffled along at 10:30-10:40 minutes/mile, more than a minute slower than my planned race pace. Toward the end, I tried to pick things up and ran a 9:54, but then my stomach started to ache and said, “Don’t ever do that again,” so I finished slow. (I wasn’t going to call B to pick me up with two miles to go.) At least I finished.

This is wandering, probably because of my weird interrupted sleep. I’d better bring things to a stopping point.

This comic will be filed under P306.94 .L86 2013, for Philology. Linguistics—Language. Linguistic theory. Comparative grammar—Translating and interpreting—Translating services. In case you were curious, if you search for the heading “translation,” all you get is class numbers related to specific translations–translating the bible, translating Emile Zola into English, etc. The correct subject heading for translation as the subject of a work is “translating and interpreting.” I had to look it up.

Em oi! #374: Winning

Chai Yo!

This conversation actually happened while we were in Thailand, and I should have uploaded it earlier but I didn’t. For reasons (primarily, I am engaged in a standoff [ha]with my right ankle and have been busy sulking). But the good news is that it is up now. The guy in the pictures is Andy, you can see him in the background of this picture. The woman is named Wanni–she was our cooking instructor, and she was amazing. Clicking on this link will take you to their website.

In the last panel, the banner says “Chaiyo!” which means “Hurrah.” But I figured you could guess that from context. At the time, I’d spent a lot of the trip feeling like I was struggling to make myself understood…and then conversation with Wanni had been so easy, I was just thrilled. And evidently so was she!

We’ll file this under GN367 .L86 2013, for Anthropology—Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology—Culture and cultural processes—Acculturation. Culture contact—Assimilation. The Chinese have a term for this too–they call it “Zhong guo hua [中国化]” or “Sinicization”–I believe it specifically refers to an outsider adopting Chinese cultural norms. The Thai…I was going to say they don’t have a word for becoming Thai, but they do– “Siwali” or “Civilized.”

So that’s interesting, I think.

Things have been quiet around here. In order to avoid a feeling of isolation while working on my thesis (easy to have, since I no longer have any courses), I’ve rejoined a local martial arts dojo. It is so much fun. And I am, despite being on a rather large dose of ibuprofen, very sore. Yesterday the animals had their teeth cleaned. Maya had to have a tooth extracted (she’d cracked it, maybe chewing on a rock or a bone) and Kali was a bit loopy from the anesthetic, so things are pretty calm (see photograph).

Oh, the excitement.

Here are some other photos from the trip. This is still a tiny fraction of the total pictures I took, so I’ll try to find some more for next week. If you’re interested in more background information, some of these were taken at Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Doi Suthep in the area surrounding Chiang Mai City. Click to embiggen.
pink flowers

espresso con panna
espresso con panna
enhance your appetite
“Enhance your appetite.” I love this one. Also, I think the sugar packets hold more sugar than the ones here.
emily at wat chedi
Me at Wat Chedi Luang
bryan wanni emily maew
Left to right, B, Wanni, Em, and Wanni’s husband Maew.
altar wat chedi
Altar at Wat Chedi Luang
wat chedi
The chedi at Wat Chedi Luang.
Nagas at Wat Chedi Luang
Nagas at Wat Chedi Luang

maybe an orchid

many flowers

girl and naga
Girl and Naga, Wat Doi Suthep


Em oi! #373: What We Talk About on Long Drives

Conversation omitted: "Quick, grab a baggie before the dog drops a vom!"

This was drawn from a conversation we had on our drive back to Madison on Xmas Day. I had the comic 80% done before we left for Thailand, but I didn’t manage to get the last two panels colored and the whole thing scanned until just now. I should add that I know Berkeley was really refuting Locke more than Descartes, but I understand the objections to Descartes much better, so I drew him.

This is hardly the first time I’ve touched on Berkeley’s philosophy in the comic. He has long been an obsession of mine, given that immaterialism (also called idealism) is so damn weird.

The Rumble in the Library

The gentleman with the wig there is Samuel Johnson. According to legend (and Boswell), Johnson had this to say about Berkeley:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, ‘I refute it THUS.’1

Of course, Berkeley would not have accepted this as a refutation, because both the stone and Johnson’s foot exist in Johnson’s mind.
I belieeeeve...in the Czech Republic's existence...

Finally a comic dating from Ly’s tenure in the Czech Republic. If you happen to be an atheist or agnostic, Berkeley’s philosophy becomes very strange, because whose intellect is watching the entire world? It’s troubling. Having just come from Thailand, I suppose I’m pretty sure that it still exists, or at least I’ve got friends there who might tell me if it ceased to exist. But I can’t be sure.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll file these under B1348 .L86 2013B1348 .L86 2007, and B1348 .L86 2007b, for Philosophy (General)—Modern (1450/1600-)—By region or country—England. Ireland. Scotland. Wales—18th century—Individual philosophers—Berkeley, George, 1685-1753—Criticism and interpretation.

Yesterday we came back from Thailand. Yesterday was Friday, but we actually got on a plane in Chiang Mai at 17:30 on Thursday to fly to Bangkok. From Bangkok, at 23:30 we got on another plane and flew to Incheon airport in South Korea (a very nice but intensely baffling place). We’d all been up since about 7:00 on Thursday (although we dozed on the plane, it was that weird fugue sleep you slip into on an airplane), so when that plane landed we were a bit loopy.

We got breakfast. I took some photos:

B's strawberry cream cheese waffle
B’s strawberry cream cheese waffle
Sara's blueberry bagel. I think the other available flavors were "garlic" and "plane."
Sara’s blueberry bagel. I think the other available flavors were “garlic” and “plane.” When I saw the flavor list is when I began to suspect that something about Korea is a giant joke being played (on me, I guess?).
This was called "stick pie." It was crispy.
This was called “stick pie.” It was crispy.

Those are the only photos I took in the airport. I took lots of photos in Thailand, though (about 300 I guess). Here are a few:

Various Thai Fruits!
Various Thai Fruits!
ผัดพักบุงไฟแดง, or stir-fried morning glory. In Vietnamese, the plant is called "rau mung." (Please excuse my lack of diacritics.)
ผัดพักบุงไฟแดง, or stir-fried morning glory. In Vietnamese, the plant is called “rau mung.” (Please excuse my lack of diacritics.)
Sara makes a friend at the place we studied cooking.
Sara makes a friend at the place we studied cooking.
Cooking the morning glory with Maew's instruction.
Cooking the morning glory with Maew’s instruction.

I also took photos of wats, monks, that sort of thing. I’ll upload those later.

Anyway, I started training for my upcoming 50 km races this morning after I got up. The first is April 30th and it’s about 14 weeks away, which also means I have about 14 weeks until my birthday and until my THESIS has to be done and and and. So the 50k is really what I am focused on, since it is a lot less frightening. I thought running was going to be terrible because it is cold out (about 46 degrees colder than Chiang Mai was). But in fact I had a great run. I hit my planned tempo for the majority of the miles, had a runner’s high all day, and felt very strong. I stopped at 14.4 miles, but I could have gone much farther, I think. The only way it could have been better is if I’d remembered to bring water. Whoops.

Well this entry is already treatise-length, so I’ll leave off here. Hope you are all having a good winter/January!

1 Boswell, James. Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson. Abridged and edited, with an introduction by Charles Grosvenor Osgood. Project Gutenberg, 2006. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1564/1564-h/1564-h.htm. 12 January 2013.

Summer 2010 Bibliography

It’s the last day of August, so here is a list of the articles and books I’ve read over the past three months.  Mostly, anyway – it doesn’t count the novel I wrote that I read twice (editing) or the two short stories of mine I also read for editing purposes.  I’ve organized them by place, since I was specifically researching certain countries.  Beyond that, there are a few themes you might note from the titles: sexuality, especially women’s sexuality; modernity and the supernatural; and place and modernity.  Looks like a lot of stuff about sexuality, though.  Huh.

I feel a little bad about not reading more fiction.  To be fair, the one novel I got through was 900 pages long (and I’d been reading it since winter – this only represents the last 500 pages or so).  Also my Vietnamese class took over my life.

It was a lot of fun putting this together.  It gave me a sense of progress and also helped me to keep my thoughts organized.  Maybe I’ll do another one for the autumn.

I haven’t included the DOIs for most of the papers, assuming that you can find the journals without too much trouble.  If you are having difficulties finding the things cited, drop a comment (or email) and I’ll help you out.  I also haven’t included very many comments (and certainly not scholarly comments) because my notes tend to be rambling and, to a certain extent, incoherent.  But if you want to discuss a certain paper, you can leave a comment.

Non-place specific

Oakes, Timothy.  “Place and the Paradox of Modernity.”  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 87.3 (Sept. 1997): 509-531.  Retrieved August 2010 from the web.  <http://www.jstor.org/stable/2564066>.

  • What is it Gertrude Stein wrote, “…it was as if a bell rang within me”?  I really enjoyed this paper.

Tuan, Yi-Fu.  “Language and the Making of Place: A Narrative-Descriptive Approach.”  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 81.4 (1991).  684-696.


Sotheary, Mey Son.  “My Sister.”  Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia. Trans. Tomoko Okada, Vuth Reth, and Teri Shaffer Yamada.  Ed. Teri Shaffer Yamada.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.  45-56.

  • Better in Khmai, or so I am told by those who read the language.  Takes an unusually tolerant stance for the region.


Sinn, Elizabeth.  “Women at Work: Chinese Brothel Keepers in Nineteenth-Century Hong Kong.”  Journal of Women’s History 19.3 (2007): 87-111. DOI: 10.1353/jowh.2007.0062.

  • This was a really fun paper.  I totally found it by accident, too — I was searching for papers on family business for my job.


Mills, Mary Beth.  “Attack of the Widow Ghosts: Gender, Death, and Modernity in Northeast Thailand.”  Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia. Aihwa Ong and Michael G. Peletz, eds.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.  244-273.

  • This was a great story.  My future cousin-in-law (is that a recognized kinship term?) thought this would make a great one-act play.  If I ever figure out how to write plays, I’m going to write it.

Muecke, Marjorie.  Female sexuality in Thai discourses about Maechii (“lay nuns”).  Culture, Health and Sexuality.  6.3 (May-June 2004): 221-238.

Thaweesit, Suchada.  “The Fluidity of Thai Women’s Gendered and Sexual Subjectiveness.”  Culture, Health & Sexuality.  6.3 (May-June 2004): 205-219.

Watarachanakool, Pornvipa.  “Science, Technology and the Supernatural in Contemporary Thai Novels.”  Manusya: Journal of Humanities.  9.1 (March 2006): 38-51.


Duong, Thu Huong.  “The Story of an Actress.”  Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia. Trans. Bac Hoai Tran and Courtney Norris.  Ed. Teri Shaffer Yamada.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.  298-320.

Khai, Hung.  “Anh Phải Sống.”  Anh Phải Sống. Hà Nội: Đời nay, 1934.  n.p.

  • Not the greatest story, but not too hard for beginning Vietnamese readers.  (By “beginning,” I really mean “advanced students who are beginning to read stories and novels in Vietnamese, I guess.)

Khai, Hung.  “You Must Live.”  Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia. Trans.Bac Hoai Tran and Courtney Norris.  Ed. Teri Shaffer Yamada.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.  278-283.

Khai, Hung.  “You Must Live.”  Trans. Truc Huy.  Saigon Online.  Retrieved 25 August 2010. <http://www.saigonline.com/truc_huy/khaihung.htm>

  • Not the greatest translation.  But then again, I wasn’t a huge fan of the story.

Nguyen, The Anh.  “The Vietnamization of the Cham Deity Po Nagar.”  Essays into Vietnamese Pasts. Eds. K. W. Taylor and John K. Whitmore.  Ithaca, N.Y. : Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1995.  42-50.

Quach, Trang.  “Femininity and sexual agency among young unmarried women in Hanoi.”  Culture, Health, and Sexuality.  10(Suppliment, June 2008): S151-S161.

Thu-Huong, Nguyen-Vo.  “History Interrupted: Life after Material Death in South Vietnamese and Diasporic Works of Fiction.”  Journal of Vietnamese Studies.  3.1 (2008): 1-35.


Anderson, Jourdan.  “Letter from Jourdan Anderson to His Former Master.”  Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery.  Leon F. Litwack, ed.  New York: Knopf, 1979.  Retrieved from the web 31 August 2010.  <http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/pdocs/anderson_letter.pdf>

Stephenson, Neil.  Quicksilver.  New York: William Morrow, 2003.

For those who have made it this far, here’s a fun song for the end of summer.  The video is quite avant garde, or less politely, it looks like a bunch of hipsters threw up on the set.  But the song is great: “Dog Days are Gone” by Florence and the Machine.