29 August 2015


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 124

"Es ist eine Frage der Disziplin," sagte mir spaeter der Kleine Prinz. "Wenn man seine Morgentoilette beendet hat, muss man sich ebenso sorfaeltig an die Toilette des Planeten machen . . ."

This meeting, let's discuss the little prince's home again. I say "again" because the first time we visited was for Locus Focus #89. We didn't really take a good around back then, and I mostly asked everyone about their own "home planets," so I'll make up for that now.

But before we get to Chapters V to IX, I want to announce that Locus Focus will be back for September. The theme will be Sightseeing in September, because there's nothing like all summer vacations being over for the year (New Zealand in February; the Philippines in June; Germany and Italy in September) that makes me want to travel . . . even if only through books. =)

28 August 2015


Life as a Language Learning Challenge, Step 2

As we've established, learning a new language involves the creation of a virtual alter-ego--or as I prefer to say, the discovery of a long-lost identical twin who was raised as a native speaker of your L2. And should you and this other actually meet, you will soon discover that language (as in words) is only one of the things separating the two of you. Another big difference is the way both of you use your hands.

Let's start with a country famous for its native speakers' use of their hands. Notice the way Veronica is counting with her fingers in this video:

Il contando comincia @5:24

Many years ago, a girl who had been raised in another country was tickled by the way I was using my fingers to count. On each hand, I start with my pinkies and work my way to the thumbs. That was how I learned in nursery school and how most Filipinos my age and older seem to do it. The other girl had learned a different method: she started with her pointer finger, went all the way to the pinkie, and then did the thumb last. And she said everyone from her country did the same.

Then there is the way people seem to count in Germany . . .

24 August 2015


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 123

"Warum sollen wir vor einem Hute Angst haben?"
("Why should we be afraid of a hat?")

In fairness to the grownups who have so greatly disappointed our narrator, his drawing really does look like a hat. Perhaps he should have added some scales to it? =P

Der Kleine Prinz is the first "Two or Three" Book Club reread in a very long time--not just for me, but for everyone who seems to be joining in. So I thought it would be good to compare old memories with new impressions. Today we're discussing Chapters I to IV.

23 August 2015


Twelve Things about The Love Affair

12. When you live in a country where divorce does not legally exist but married couples often have differences that they perceive to be irreconcilable, "Adultery Movies" are going to be A Thing. I almost wish I had seen more of them, so that I could put The Love Affair in better context--but they're actually not my "thing," and this is the first of them that I've seen.

11. The movie wastes no time establishing that long-married couple Vince and Trisha are having problems. Vince suspects, with good reason, that his wife is having an affair with his best friend; and her tearful confession, during their drawn-out fight, that she decided not to tell him about the time his best friend made a move on her (because it wasn't as if she reciprocated) only seems to be more evidence of her guilt. We find out later that this is just the straw that broke the camel's back and not a deal-breaker in and of itself--but should she have told him about that stolen kiss?

10. In the meantime, in another part of the city, Adie is at a fitting for her wedding dress when she gets some real evidence of someone else's guilt: her fiance has made a sex tape with another woman. It is the weakest link in the whole movie, all but screaming "Macguffin!" I think Adie's family history, in which her father left her mother for another woman, should have been enough for the writers and the actress to build a three-dimensional character from.

9. On the other hand, I appreciated the way they blended family dynamics with some unusual symbols . . .

21 August 2015


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 122

The results from yesterday's spur-of-the-moment poll are in, and they are unanimous: the "Two or Three" Book Club has another classic to read! =D

I'm sure that many of us have read Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery before, so we won't really be covering new ground. But one thing we haven't done yet is discuss the book with each other. So this should still be interesting!

As I've said, I'm going to be reading in German (and bringing up the Filipino translation now and then), but blogging mostly in English. Mrs. Darwin and Brandon have said that they might tackle the original French. If you'd like to join us with a copy in another difficult language--like, you know, English =P--don't let the book club name put you off. There's always room for one more!

If you're game, let's start the discussion a bit early. Language learner that I am, the burning question I'd like to ask everyone is: What's the story behind your becoming competent enough in another language to be able to read a novel in it?

Image Source: Der Kleine Prinz

20 August 2015


Theme Thursday 17

Long before I realised I'd have to take Shredded Cheddar in a different direction if I wanted it to survive, I was wishing I could do something about my header. When Parajunkee made it for me five years ago, she let it reflect my interests in Catholicism, Horror movies, the 1980s, my guitar, and of course, books. I still like all these things (though now you'd have to substitute "guitar-driven Pop music" for "my guitar"), but I've also come to like others; and to be accurate again, the header would need some knitting needles, a crochet hook, and a set of flags to represent all the languages in which I can competently conjugate verbs.

It is one of those languages that provides a snippet for the theme from 14 April 2011, which we finally tackle today.

UPDATE: What do you think of making the featured book a spur-of-the-moment "Two or Three" Book Club pick?

Today's Theme:

19 August 2015


Life as a Language Learning Challenge

What I've referred to as "the AJATT method" is really more of a lifestyle. You're not looking to acquire the target language, but to become a native speaker of that language. Or if you prefer, to become a person who uses it the way native speakers do--to access all the stuff you want to access. Like cool music--though I admit that Germany never comes to mind first when I think of music.

Welches ist aehnlich dieses Lieblingsliedes?
Oder welches gefaellt Sie besten?

I wish I could find the AJATT post in which Khatz says that no matter what kind of music you like, you will find someone making it in your target language. So go ahead and dump your L1 favourites and look for some new L2 ones. Find out who your long-lost identical twin would have been! Mine listens to Tim Bendzko in the car. But, I suspect, not just Tim Bendzko.

The goal to become a native speaker may seem impossible, but Khatz isn't the only language learner in the world who has become so fluent in his L2 that those who were born native speakers think that he is one of them. But the main reason I think he's on to something is that something like that has already happened to me. Twice.

14 August 2015


Life as a Reading Challenge, Chapter 18

There's more than one way TO CLEAR a TBR Pile. I realised that recently, when I started getting serious about my language learning and decided to commit to the "AJATT method," which lets you simulate L2 immersion in an L1 environment. The first step to creating your own personal L2 bubble is TO CLEAR your room of all your L1 stuff. Yes, CLEAR it . . .

So where do you put the artifacts of your pre-immersion life? Where do you put your English-language stuff? In a closet somewhere? No. You get rid of it. Mp3s? Delete them. DVDs? Scratch, sell or slice them apart. Posters? Post them to someone else. Get rid of it. Delete, destroy, dispose. Suggestions: Sell that stuff on ebay and reinvest the funds in Japanese-language materials. Or, trade it with a kid from Japan who wants to learn English. I know it's hard to give it up. I know you were or are a huge "Self" fan, and you've been in love with their music ever since you heard "Stay Home" on the closing credits of the first Shrek, and you loved their music even more when you found out they'd made an album using only toy instruments. I know, okay? I know! But dang it, son! (and I mean "son" in the unisex sense). This is about learning Japanese. Japanese is your life now. Japanese is your future. And you're not about to give it up--you're not about to let it go--in a moment of nostalgic weakness that leads to an all-night marathon of playing Michael Jackson music going all the way to back to when he was black--not that I would know. This is too important for that. You want Japanese too much. So let go. Get rid of the "Self" albums. Put down the ranger, and become who you were born to be. Become Japanese.

-- from the "The Immersion Environment" by Khatzumoto

08 August 2015


BSC #15: Little Miss Stoneybrook . . . and Dawn by Ann M. Martin

"Oh, hi, Dawn," [Mallory's mother] said. "I'm glad you picked up. I have a special job and I wanted to offer it to you."

. . . Remember when Mallory said that if her sisters heard about the pageant, they'd want to enter it? Well, sure enough, Claire and Margo (who are five and seven) had heard, and they did want to enter. There was just one problem. [Their mother] wasn't going to be able to help them prepare for it . . . She was asking me because I live close by and would never need a ride over. And she was
not asking Mallory, who, of course, would be the most convenient helper of all. She knew what Mallory thought about pageants . . .

"Well," [her mother] finished up, "what do you think? This job would be a little different from most. You'd have to help the girls choose outfits, rehearse for the talent competition, learn to greet the judges, that sort of thing . . . Are you interested in the job, Dawn?"

Now I come full circle: BSC #15 was the first Baby-sitters Club book I ever read--and until I started this reading project a few years ago, also the only one. I had thought I remembered it well, but it was nice to be surprised all over again by a few details. Such as how almost every member of the BSC ends up looking after her own pageant princess. If it had just been a case of one little girl in their circle entering and sparking the interest of all the others, that would have been plausible enough and the story would still have been funny. But Ann M. Martin goes above and beyond: in this novel, the real competition is not for the crown of Little Miss Stoneybrook, but for bragging rights to the title of Best Baby-sitter. Who do you think deserves to win???

Let's hear each senior BSC member make her pitch to the judges . . .

03 August 2015


Twelve Things about The Descendants

12. High School Musical will always be the best Disney Channel movie of all time, but The Descendants can get the award for the Disneyest Disney Channel movie of all time, because no other studio could possibly remake it. Yeah, anyone else could still produce some sort of fish-out-of-water, rags-to-riches, high-school-set, coming-of-age, opposites-attract story with show-stopping numbers (Let me know if I've missed a hyphenated cliche!) . . . but they couldn't also pepper its world with beloved Disney characters you'd know if you met them on Mars. This is the sort of movie you make because you can.

11. But those beloved characters don't take center stage here. As we can tell by the title and the DVD cover, it is their children who get to grab the spotlight. Whose parents can you identify just by looking at them? Answers after the jump!

10. Or perhaps you'd prefer to to match our "bad" protagonists with the Four Cardinal Virtues? It may seem odd to pair villains with virtues, but we could say that each of them learns the virtue that he most needs when he becomes a student at Auradon Prep, the school for the heroes' children. If you haven't seen The Descendants, maybe something in my descriptions of the four will still give you ideas for combox discussion! (Hint, hint!)