Monday, February 24, 2014

Disney is Sexier in Turkish, or Love = Disney

Oh my goodness. I have really restrained myself from making a post like this, but I knew that one day it would have to happen.

Thanks to the new addition to our household (a 1 Terabyte hard drive), I have been downloading movies non-stop. I don't feel even a little guilt about the ways in which I take advantage of technology. Most of the movies I've downloading are Disney (and Anastasia). That's because as kids, it was the collection I was most proud of, and the one that took up the most space. (God we loved our VHS tapes). No amount of DVDs could ever fill that space, honestly. But perhaps piracy something else can.

Anyway. Since seeing Frozen in January, something interesting has occurred to me. Disney movies are equally as fun, if not more fun, in other languages, even if you barely understand them. Don't get me started on the emotional turmoil. I cried my eyes out during Frozen. In Turkish. Wtf? I'm almost 100% sure I wouldn't have cried if it were English. (I take it back. I probably would have cried. Maybe less).

It has dawned on me that how much one enjoys Disney characters singing in a foreign language is extremely tied to how deeply in love you are with someone who speaks that language. And how much your ideals about love are related to those Disney movies to begin with. Yeah, I'll throw that in, too.

Okay, okay, let me backtrack. I went through phases where I downloaded every Disney song in Spain Spanish. If you had asked me why I was doing it then, I'd have said, "Oh, I'm learning Spanish, so it's helpful." I then did the same for Japanese. And Arabic. But which ones have I kept all these years? which are still on my playlist? The Spain Spanish ones. Hmm. I wonder why.

It never dawned on me to listen to Disney in Turkish until last night. And let me tell you, it was a shitshow. Aladdin is INFINITELY sexier in Turkish. Why does "söyle, prenses" suddenly sound so much better than both "tell me, princess" and "ven, princesa"?




Hell, I'm even attracted to Hercules now, and he was one of my least favorites. It's not normal. Dude, even Hercules' adoptive Dad is hot sounding in this. NUTS.



And whoa. Roll your "R"s one more time, Li Shang.



So, basically, what I'm trying to say here, is my heart is so connected to songs in Disney movies that I now found the Turkish more pleasant than the English, basically because it's more likely that my boyfriend would sing like these guys than the original guys? Wtf?

Mind = blown.


Omg this just killed me. I'm going to be doing this ALL NIGHT LONG.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Reviews

Honestly people, if you hate the movie that much, why do you even review it? Why do you even spend one more ounce of energy on this "complete train wreck of a film" if you think it's that bad?

Phew. Glad to get that off my chest.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Just kidding. No aliens.



So let's get started with THE GOOD:

  • Thranduil is beautiful and majestic. I love everything about his character anyway, but Lee Pace brings it all to life in a crazy excellent new way. Some people seem a bit upset by the "scar" thing. Well, let me tell you what it's all about: it's cool. It adds some depth and spookiness to his whole thing he's got going on up in his cave. He suffers and he doesn't want to deal with the outside world any more. The scar thing kinda gives evidence for that. I think that the scar was an unnecessary bit but it didn't bother me. 
  • Thranduil is awesome, so he gets two bullet points. He is both terrified and terrifying, and I have never witnessed a character like that on screen, really. The actor manages to make him powerful and douchey, but pretty, all at the same time. It's the best. I love it. This is what elves are about. "I am patient. I can wait." Is the single most haunting thing I've ever had the pleasuring of hearing/watching a character say.
  • Legolas being a kind of whiny, annoying little bitch. THIS I saw as completely consistent with Jackson's portrayal of the character in the Lord of the Rings. There were times when Legolas was onscreen and I was like now that is just like his conversation with Aragorn at Helm's Deep! Brilliant work, Orlando! And other times I was gleefully exposed to this whole new side of his character when he started acting possessive of Tauriel. I was like "Oh yeah....he's a Prince." We rarely saw hints of his princeliness in Lord of the Rings (at least in terms of attitude, not appearance of course)! The other good bit with him was when he got bloody at the end of his fight with Bolg. It's obvious that Peter Jackson is trying to help the (at least mildly obsessed) LotR audience understand why Legolas would have joined the Fellowship. He is getting really pissed off with orcs and other evil nonsense, at this point. I like it.
  • Bilbo Baggins' transformation and the quiet moments he has. There are a few key scenes with Bilbo that I really think make this movie more than "A good watch, but a bad adaptation" or a "movie based loosely on Tolkien's works." Those scenes are Bilbo's. When he peeks his head above the trees and awkwardly tries to call down to the dwarves, I was so pleased. The combination of music, scenery, and acting there really screamed "Tolkien" to me, and I couldn't be happier. Another instance when Bilbo is killing the baby spider during the scene where he almost loses the ring...the heavy breathing, the echo-y silence...that also struck me as well done, however little the situation relates to the written work. Yep, the ring's got a hold on him. Yep, he's not sure how to handle it. That was very Bilbo and I loved it. Martin Freeman's acting during the exchange with Smaug was also spot-on. I really loved the way he gave Bilbo a nonchalant, don't-worry-about-little-old-me feel. Excellent work.
  • Bard the Bowman. What a great portrayal of this character. He was so believable and easy to relate to, I felt myself almost rooting for him. His segments in Laketown were some of the most beautiful in my opinion, simply because he made Laketown feel so lived in and similar to Hobbiton, in a way. I didn't know much about the character (neither did Tolkien, apparently), but he was truly great in this film. A lot of fun to watch, and damn handsome as well.
  • Bombur's barrel of death scene. I feel kind of ashamed to admit this, but I loved that scene. I laughed so hard. It reminded me of Gollum's argument with himself in The Two Towers, and it was a very welcome comic relief. Whoever designed that scene deserves to be commended, because it actually was funny. At both viewings the audience laughed at that, me included!
  • Radagast the Brown. I didn't really like him in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and that was because he seemed a bit kitchy. In this edition he is a little more cautious and complements Gandalf well; he puts Gandalf's plans into perspective and seems genuinely creeped out by the goings-on. Also, he's funnier this time around. Great work by his actor and the right direction for this character, I think.
  • Gandalf the Grey vs. the Necromancer & his hordes. I really loved the way we got to see Gandalf's magic in this movie (I remember as a kid eagerly looking for him to use magic and not really seeing much in LotR), especially when fighting against the orcs and the Necromancer (Sauron). The effects with the shadow vs. light were really cool, sound included. I was sucked into that, and surprised by it. I remember not being all that impressed with the Balrog sequence in the Fellowship of the Ring, but this time around I felt Gandalf's power and was truly stunned with Sauron melted his staff like that. Heavy stuff.
  • Character development of the dwarves. I now understand that Bofur is a bit lazy/likes to oversleep but eager to help friends, Fili and Kili are brothers and nephews of Thorin (with a worrywort Mom), Dwalin is a tank, Ori is the helpless young dude, Gloin is a money hoarder, and Dori and Ori are medically inclined. Bombur is rather fat and slow but runs when scared. That is of course not all the dwarves, but at least I got some idea of their characters. I and many others could not distinguish the dwarves by the end of the first film, and I'm really psyched that they are starting to feel fleshed out this time around. (By the way, I already knew Balin was the elder, guide character type...that was the only dwarf development we got last time).
  • Mirkwood. A lot of people were disappointed about the compacted-ness of the Mirkwood scenes. I liked how the effects actually made me feel sick and lost, too, like the dwarves and the hallucinating thing. I also loved the spiders, every bit of it. I actually hate and fear spiders but for some reason I was fixated on the fight. When they started speaking when Bilbo had the ring on, I was really really really excited. That was done beautifully.


THE BAD:

  • Tauriel. I don't like her. She's like an Eowyn with super human healing powers. So basically, I don't think she makes a good elf. This is meant with no offense to the actress, however -- I think she did the best she could with what she was given. I'm just mad that Jackson decided to make her so upbeat. It's not congruent with all the other elves we've seen in his Middle Earth and she doesn't seem like she should be that good in battle or healing. It would almost make more sense to have Legolas do the things she did, including, but not limited to, falling in love with Kili.
  • Galadriel's telepathic Gandalf moment. I don't get it. Why did that happen. What is she doing in Mirkwood. That's not her forest. I would have liked it better if Thranduil had done a bit of telepathy there and been like "yo Gandy, shit's messed up in this wood. Get yo' ass to somewhere else and figure out why. I'll take care of the dwarves, don't worry...;)"
  • Bolg touching and manhandling Legolas. While I understand why it happens, I still don't like it. It really makes me uncomfortable to see Legolas being...touched. This may seem weird, but no orcs ever touched him before, and it didn't seem natural to see him doing hand-to-hand like that. I guess it's okay, but I was so unsettled during that scene it was distracting and made me question everything I knew to be true. Anyway.
  • CGI orcs. I really really do not understand why the production team chose to go with this. They had no issues with real people as orcs. It was amazing in the LotR trilogy and something that separated the film from a lot of the fake shit that was coming out around the same time. I'm massively disappointed by it, just as I was in the first film. I just don't CARE about animations. I want to see actors, with real teeth and eyes. Why!
  • The final 30 minutes of the fim. Considering all other possibilities, I don't know why the film ended the way it did. The gold melting and the Smaug fighting and the craziness was all so out of line, I'm not sure who let who get away with it. It didn't even make sense to me the first time...I had to watch it again to figure out what happened exactly. This is nothing like the chase scene out of Moria, which was wonderfully done. It's an entirely different beast. I'm not happy with any of it starting with the second the dwarves arrive in Smaug's hall. Very awkward and poorly done.


THE UGLY:

  • The barrel scene had some very stupid shots that totally ruined the sequence. Why did someone use a handheld recorder to film underwater, and why is that in the movie? Who edited this? I hope they cut that out before it's released on DVD. Seriously that was sketchy.
  • There are some sections of the fight with Smaug that don't look "finished." The animation isn't textured, or something...I'm not sure. I wish they had WATCHED it first so we wouldn't have to! How does this stuff happen!?
  • The prologue. Other prologues to a Middle Earth film include: EPIC BATTLE SEQUENCES, BROTHERS FIGHTING TO THE DEATH, GANDALF VS. BALROG, and SMAUG DESTRYOING EVERYONE. Who's idea was it to put a quiet scene of Thorin and Gandalf chatting over a beer and creepy-looking food for a PROLOGUE? Talk about bore me to DEATH. I was beginning to expect a terrible film there, and that's not a good sign. Not to mention the ridiculous "12 months later" "6 months earlier" blah blah blah, I don't think it's necessary. Hello? We know the timeline at this point, this is not Episode 23 of a soap opera. Or is it?


THE ?:

Did Bilbo recover the arkenstone? DID HE OR WHAT!? I really wonder...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Back to the Future: Gaming Again

Well hullo e'erbuddy!

I'm happy to announce a new post after a nearly three month hiatus. I'm not altogether sure if I've simply been busy or there hasn't been much to say; no matter the reason, I've neglected my blog for too long. I have a lot to catch up on, but as promised, I'll report about my new job first.

A lot of you may find Facebook games repulsive. I was one of you, too, months ago, who would promptly turn away in disgust should the topic of social gaming arise. But in a few short months, I've become acquainted with a whole new world of weirdness, and it is just too interesting to not share with you guys.

So let's start with a question:

Q: Who do you usually get annoying Facebook game requests from?

A: My grandma. My aunt. My ex-boss. My middle-aged friend who has three kids.

Yep, that's our market. So why is it that this particular market is so excited about social gaming, anyway? I've formulated a few theories, but I can't be 100% sure, of course. My main assumption is that older people on Facebook -- the same older people who used to get by with puzzles and cards -- are now finding ways to turn their home hobbies into semi-social activities. This is, on the one, hand, great news. On the other, it's kind of sad. No more bingo for grandma, perhaps. Your ex-boss who's now retired might not start that puzzle, either. What a tragedy.

But actually, our games are not designed for the older crowd. We are trying to make them what I would call "family" friendly. That is to say, any age could find something interesting about our games. The truth is, if you're a 20-something who liked playing The Sims, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't enjoy playing the games my company is making. The problem is that the Facebook game already has a stigma, and it's much too late for our kind to ever get into Facebook games. I get that.

I'm not trying to shamelessly self-promote. I'm just munching on some food for thought. I've done a lot of research about the social/mobile gaming phenomenon, and it's really mind boggling. I had my first experience with a mobile game in June, after buying my first smartphone. I cannot believe that I found myself wanting to buy in-game credit to beat a certain level. HAD I STOOPED SO LOW?

The truth is, there's nothing "low" about it. Back in the day, a PC game ran us about $20-$30. So, considering that Facebook and mobile games are free-to-play, why shouldn't you drop a bit of cash to make the game, theoretically, more fun?

None of this is really my business, by the way -- I'm just a dialogue writer and editor. It's a rather funny twist of fate, actually. I spent most of the year wondering how to get a foot in the door of the "industry." The magical world of video games. The world I grew up in, but somehow managed to slip out of quietly.

I wouldn't say I have a foot in the door just yet. I'm working at what could more or less be considered a start-up developer in Istanbul. Sure, we have dozens of employees, and awesome office in one of the few 15+ floor buildings in the city, and a laid-back and friendly boss. But I'm still far from the action.

Where exactly is the action, you ask? Well I confess -- since starting my new job, I've broken down and bought a Playstation 3. I use the words "broken down" well because, frankly, the PS3 is already 7 years old. Up until three weeks ago, I had been playing PSone games on my PS2. And I knew I was behind the times, don't get me wrong. I just couldn't rationalize buying a PS3 when the PS2 still had so much life in it, you see.

All of that has changed. The PS3 was no longer a want. It became a need. It's for my career. I must have it. I can buy a PS4 in a couple of years anyway, right? About the time when KH3 and FFXV are released, I imagine.

So that's where the action is. I don't care how many amusing young writers try to tout the age of social gaming as the new era, the only thing that matters, a far more lucrative industry than the console giants can hope to catch up with, or whatever it is they're saying.

All of this has led to a certain vector point: me playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Prior to joining my current company, I was on the verge of forgoing my love of gaming completely. It was just about slipping away. I had one or two more games I was fiddling around with on the PS2, but I was slowly. Letting. Go.

That's over now. I'm head over heels in love with this MMO (massive muliplayer online, for the gaming illiterate), and I have no idea how it happened. I can only say that I wouldn't have it any other way. I feel like one lucky little cookie these days, and I can't help but stare in amazement and ask myself: how the hell did I end up here? Who am I? Is this even a career path, or some kind of weird passing phase? Childhood dreams resurfaced like a dead person everyone gave up looking for. As it were, the dream is a bit rotten and I can't recognize it anymore, anyway.

I never considered myself someone who would give up on a dream, but since graduating, I let a lot of stuff go. I'm over being a JET teaching in Japan. I'm over becoming a US Foreign Service Officer. I'm also over ever continuing my education. To what end? Why should I? What's the point?

But the way things are going, I wouldn't be surprised if a someone stepped through a wall, dragged me to Middle Earth, and presented a wedding proposal from Legolas. I mean, come on...really? What is happening?

Monday, September 30, 2013

After the Fact: My Regrets about Bard

Inspired by this article in the NY Times today, and a few other postings floating around Facebook about Bard, I thought it might be time to share with you all some of my deepest, darkest thoughts about Bard College. Actually, it's not that dramatic, but still, I don't like to admit that I have regrets that often, so take advantage.

The fabulous Blithewood of Bard, overlooking the Hudson River.

Whether you're thinking about Bard, applying to Bard, or studying at Bard....or if you're a fellow alumni...I'm sure you can relate to some of the things I think. If not, well, as many people always say, Bard is what you make it. So if you made it awesome, I congratulate you. If you made it suck, well...you know who you are.

Let me start by saying that Bard could be one of the coolest places on Earth. Where else can you find such an eclectic assortment of people, from all over the world, who are genuinely different? Students' talents and backgrounds vary wildly, the professors range from shocking to strange to simple, and the campus' look changes the more you walk around on it. Foreign languages are thrown around like knives in ninja training and witty people are as common as blades of grass. Weird, sketchy parties with tons of charm are a key part of the nightlife. Fresh air is aplenty, as are quiet places to study, which makes it a perfect space for academia and the unusual.

But this is all Bard on the surface. Underneath all the allure and exquisite detail is something truly unsettling for students coming from lower-income families and small-town backgrounds.

Regret 1: Understanding Finances

My very first Bard regret would be not properly analyzing my finances. If you are a financially independent Bard student (no, not the kind that gets monthly allowances), you need to be aware: in addition to the private loans you probably took out yourself, Bard might be taking out Federal Stafford loans for you, too. These seem small: you get messages in your Bard mailbox around the start or end of every semester, notifying you that Bard is helping you secure $2,000 extra here, $1,500 extra there, do you agree?, sign here, and so forth. This money adds up, and you will have to pay it back to the government, America's worst lender.

While Bard is very open about this process, the college makes little effort to explain the consequences to you. For a student like me on a generous scholarship, I was happy to cover the difference by going $25,000 or even $30,000 into debt. But tell me it's $55,000 in total...and I might hesitate.

And do not forget that students have other school-related expenses throughout the year. Used books are easy to come by, but it would be dishonest to say I wanted to even buy them by the end of my college days. Learning how to get by without books -- or better yet, signing them out of the library -- saved me enormous quantities of money. I also sold back all of my "new" books instantly after using them. I'm a bit ashamed about that.

Regret 2: Actual Quantity of Things Learned

My second Bard regret is the actual quantity of things learned, which more than ever seems rather low. This could be related to my first regret; due the the fact that I did not properly analyze my finances, I jumped right into a full-time job at the nearest cafe in order to fund the only thing that has motivated me since age 15: traveling. Had I known that I was going to be floundering in a pool of debt after graduation, I would have used all or most of this money to start paying my interest. Either way, I would have been working a full-time job, so this point is valid: I spent more time working at the cafe than studying at Bard. This is a solid fact.

Whether or not I would have spent that time studying is really up for debate. If I had 40 extra hours per week, would I have actually read any of those readings my Asian studies class assigned? Would I have watched the movies that went along with my Arabic text book? Would I have actually spent more time on my Senior Project?

At the end of the day, I guess I'll never know. But what I do know is that I did not learn as much as I could have learned at Bard. This is not to say I didn't learn for four years. I just learned elsewhere.

Regret 3: Friendships

My third and potentially most important regret is not forming more than one or two solid relationships. From the moment I touched down at Bard, I had the overwhelming sense of not "belonging." Not in an awkward way (i.e., all these people are smarter or prettier than me), but in a social status/class way. Everyone was immediately talking about going to the "city," whatever THAT was, and spending full years abroad volunteering. My reaction was, "how do you have the money to do that?" but I held my tongue and slowly began to realize that many of my fellow students were, well..."better off" than I was. I was happy to work hard and earn cash to join their crazy outings, but the realization that I often couldn't due to time hit me swiftly and strongly.

Hey, come to my show. Sorry, I'm working. Hey, let's go to NYC this weekend. Can't, I'm working. Emily, will you be attending the workshop on Thursday? Sorry, I'm working. 

I began saying that phrase so often that it came automatically, and I honestly didn't care. It never made me upset. But looking back, it does.

Is that why I was never seen as a particularly engaged student in any of my classes (was I actually disengaged? or did it just look like that?) or invited to any social gathering/event before 9pm? I simply missed out. I missed out on a lot of what Bard had to offer. And that is actually kind of painful.

Regret 4: Professor Relationships

My fourth and final regret about Bard is my absolute and atrocious failure to build relationships with professors. In my world, prior to coming to Bard, teachers were the enemy: they didn't understand your potential, held you back at times, and made you feel trapped in the disastrous grading system. Only now do I understand that Bard professors are nothing of the sort.

While I spent time avoiding my teachers and simply trying to "make the grade" at Bard, my peers were visiting their offices, discussing their lives, ideas, and dreams, and most importantly, networking. In a world where "who you know" is often the single determining factor in getting a job or not, how I missed this point is really beyond me, and embarrassing. I made not one friend among the Bard faculty, and I could not feel more stupid about that (I did make one enemy, during a conversation I am somewhat proud of). My best friend at Bard did try to tell me that I was doing it wrong, but I ignored his advice. Now I know he was right.

Talk to your Bard professors and get to know them. In the long-term, it could be the most important step you take in your career. For me, it's probably too late.

Where professors dwell.

So there you have it. Every time I see or hear about Bard in the media, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling, and I start thinking about what I miss about college. But then, a more somber feeling rises to the surface: I don't actually know what I miss, because I missed so much to begin with.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How I Learned to Stop Taking (Sh)It

Hey e'erybuddy!

So, if you didn't already know, I left my previous company to pursue a new opportunity! Well, that would be the diplomatic way of putting it. What really happened is completely different. I learned a lesson in self-respect, which I now realize I could use more of.

I'm not sure at which age or in which period of my life I began to undervalue myself.

As far as I can remember, I've never been one to complain about anything. I simply hate complaining, complainers, and complaints. But I never realized I had taken it to the point where I regularly sacrifice my self-worth and/or happiness or sell myself short. Rather than say, "I am not being paid enough," "My grade is not high enough," "the people around me are not working hard enough," or "I am not getting credit for my ideas," I have always, simply, made best use of the cards I was dealt.

I also never, ever wanted to be treated unfairly. That is to say, I resented being considered "special," even to the point where I violently resisted being placed in a special class for 6-8 graders who had demonstrated excellent reading/critical thinking skills. The idea of being separated from other kids my age -- simply because of some stupid test results -- was revolting to me, even as a child.

This stems from my belief that no one person has a better shot at life than another. Although it may seem like a gross generalization, I honestly think life is fair. Life has balance. We get what we're given and it is equally bad and equally good. Although bad things happen to good people and vice versa, everything eventually pans out for everyone. So why complain about anything? The actions of other people, and the decisions they make, are of no concern to me. Even if they affect me, my life's course will go on and I will get what I deserve.

This line of reasoning, I have since understood, is flawed. People take advantage of other people. People have no morals. People want to abuse other people to get what they want. Whether or not I choose to accept such treatment is entirely my decision. And to put it frankly: I don't have to take it. I have control over the cards I am dealt.

With this in mind, I chose to change jobs because I realized that I have control over my life, even though it may seem -- at times -- like life has control over you. Words from a teacher in seventh grade,  who I loved very dearly: "You may be having a bad time, but you always have the power to change your fate." Well, okay, it seems cliché and even a bit stupid saying it again now, but really, it's true. In life, attitude is everything. I can make the best out of any situation, but it doesn't end there: I can also affect its outcome.

So, about the new job? Well, I think I'll save it for later. It's still only my first month, after all!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Inspiring Tale of a Pink Wallet Lost in Turkey

Okay, Turks can talk your head off about gypsies, dangerous-looking types, and how careful you should be on public transportation. I have been told time and time again to "be careful," "watch my bag," and "hold onto my wallet." The truth is...

THAT'S ALL TRUE.

Under normal circumstances, Turkey is full of thievery and gypsies just waiting for an adorable blonde American to walk by with her purse half-zipped or wallet sticking out of her back pocket. My co-worker Peter reported that his wife came home from work one day to find her bag slashed in several places by pickpockets, and luckily, nothing valuable was stolen.

So, when I opened my bag on Thursday night to take out some cash and my ID for a night out on the town with my couchsurfer from Austria, and I saw no wallet, I immediately assumed the worst. It had been stolen, and I would never see it again. All hell broke lose. I checked my bed. I checked the shoe cabinet. I checked the bathroom. I checked the freezer, for Christ's sake.

It had disappeared between the bus and my apartment door. A 100-meter walk that I generally consider safe and harmless suddenly looked like a labyrinth of razor-sharp rocks (lit. Emyn Muil).

I called my boyfriend, who was in Italy. He called the bus garage. The bus garage called the driver. The driver called....well, you get the point.

So, what did I do next? I did the logical thing: called all my credit/debit card companies, in order of importance. American cards can be used like credit cards in Turkey, with no PIN or signature, so that was a priority. I ordered a new license from Maine. I ordered a new Turkish airlines club card. I was running hard. But, I didn't hesitate to go out and get iskender and beer in Kadikoy...my boyfriend left one of his credit cards, after all!

I called the police to report the theft. I accepted my fate as a victim of CRIME.

Well, fast forward a few days and it turns out that I'm actually 100% responsible for the DOUCHIEST thing ever, which was actually just LEAVING MY WALLET on the SEAT in the BUS. Instead of a thief swiping it, a nice old lady took it to the nearest Garanti bank, where a lovely teller looked up my number and called me this morning to let me know I can come pick it up before seven, please.

Wow. Sometimes I hate Turkey, but today is not one of those days.

FAITH IN HUMANITY = RESTORED!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Similarities Between Turkey and Japan

I have said this millions of times, and I know that very few people see what I see. But today I want to outline a few points that solidify my point that Turkey and Japan have similar traditions and common linguistic themes.

Let's start with some traditions.

1. Slippers & cleanliness.
Although Turks are not as extreme as the Japanese when it comes to slipper wearing, it is striking to see that a large majority of Turkish families have 5-10 pairs of slippers in the house for family members and guests. Like the Japanese, Turks believe it is healthier and cleaner to wear slippers inside. According to my boyfriend's mom, not only would wearing your outdoor shoes track in unnecessary dirtiness, but bare feet on cold floors could cause diseases or infertility. The Japanese have several different kinds of slippers, depending on the room of the house. Especially bathroom slippers vary in comparison to slippers worn in other rooms. Although I have not seen a great discrepancy between dining room/kitchen slippers and bathroom slippers in Turkey, some homes with Turkish-style toilets (that is, holes in the floor for squatting), do have plastic flip-flops or sandals that are to be worn while relieving oneself.

The Japanese are hyper hygienic at times, a trait not truly shared with the Turks. Turkish people are content with littering and generally making a mess outside. But in the home, opened packages of food, spices, and even shoes are often stored in plastic bags. Shelves are also lined with gift-wrap paper or newspaper to prevent the dirtying of one's furnishings. So, there is evidence that cleanliness is also important in the Turkish home.

2. Toilets.
The aforementioned "Turkish-style" toilet, which I will hereafter refer to as the "squat" toilet, is not a creation of Turkey. In fact, these toilets can also be found in countries such as China, Italy, and Bulgaria, to name a few. The Western-style toilet as we know is just that: a Western creation. Of course, one can find Western-style toilets in both Japan and Turkey, but many locals believe that a squat toilet is more hygienic and the truly  healthy way to relieve oneself. While I agree with that to some extent, the comfort of sitting and reading on the toilet is preferable.

3. Writing history, as they see it.
The international community has time and time again criticized Japan for understating the damage caused during WWII and often leaving it out of textbooks completely. Nowadays, much of they "war story" has to be included in Japanese history books, but events such as the Rape of Nanjing are still left alone. At the same time, 20 countries accuse Turkey of committing a genocide against the Armenians, a charge it denies to this day. For both countries, denying that such events occurred has become a staple of nationalism.

4. Obsession with English
Learning English is the single most important career move for Turks. Although not quite as extreme in Japan (or is it)? every student must pass an English exam to get into college in either country.

Similarities in language.

1. Grammar
First and foremost, I am not being novel in my perception that Turkish and Japanese are similar languages. Linguists can tell you that the two languages have strikingly similar grammar, especially in the subject-object-verb sense. In both Japanese and English, the teacher does not write on the board. Instead, "The teacher board on writes."

2. Key word
The word "good" is the same in both Turkish and Japanese, and is pronounced "ii." In Turkish, it is written "iyi," and in Japanese, it is written いい. This can be used to describe basically anything in both languages. However, it should be noted that Japanese "ii" does not reference how a person is feeling, whereas Turkish "iyi" can describe one's state as being "good" or "fine."

3. Suffixes/particles
The suffixes (Tr.) or particles (Jp.) "de" and "e." These two grammatical tools are used to mean "in, on" and "to," respectively. Although in Turkish the pronunciation of the suffixes does change depending on the modified words vowels, the usage is the same: attach these syllables to create what we call, in English, prepositions.

4. This, that, and thaaaaaat.
Both Turkish and Japanese speakers perceive space and distance differently when it comes to demonstrative pronouns. Last night, while sitting at the table, Husso asked me to turn on "that" light in Turkish. As there are three in the room, I was completely confused. Which light did he mean? In fact, he meant "this" light -- the light closest to him. But, as Turkish has bu (this), şu (that), and o (that over there), the light was far enough away to require "şu." In Japanese, "kore," "sore," and "are" serve the same function.


So there you have it. Why not visit both countries and see for yourself! Or, do you have another point I should add? I will probably add more as I think of them. :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Protests in Turkey and Several Other Things

Hi all! As you may or may not know, I was away for two weeks in the US. During that time, the city I call home, Istanbul, was flipped upside down and spun around violently as the government began doing all kinds of terrible things (behind my back)!

Literally, that's how I felt. I take one step out of Turkey and you make the retail sale of alcohol illegal between 10pm and 6am (read: drink up after leaving the club at 6:30am), start destroying a park in the middle of the square (and violently oppressing all who oppose), and name a bridge after a douchey sultan (flaring the tempers of tons of Alevis). Okay, where's my say?

Oh, that's right. I'm an expatriate, so I have no say.

But wait. Aren't there 15 million people living in Turkey who have every right to participate in these kinds of decisions? Read here for more about that.

I'm sure you all know the timeline of events, and there's no need for me to summarize what's been said by Turkish people, protestors, the government, the anarchists, and the international media. But what you don't know is my timeline of events, and, Turk or not, I have shit to say about this.

First of all, something I want Turkish people to understand more than ever is just how similar American and Turkish politics are. We too have a religious right that constantly strives to implement its Biblical agenda into daily politics, whether by making abortion illegal or discriminating against people who do "sinful" things. Moreover, these people tend to be located in the "villages" of the US -- that is, rural areas, far from the coastlines, lacking diversity.

Prime Minister Erdoğan's people are more or less Republican Americans. They are people who want the country to head in a more conservative direction, and they will happily sacrifice individual rights for corporations. They are even a bit war-mongering. And they are, generally speaking, a huge portion of the population.

That said, there is no beating Erdoğan. Like Bush or Cheney, or even McCain, he is egomaniacal and determined to get his way. It was my original opinion that the Turkish people against him had a bat's chance in hell to get him out of office. But over the past 17 days, I've witnessed the most remarkable resistance. It is what I wish had happened in the US during the Iraq war: a protest against leadership that is acting in its own interest, with complete disregard for what many (if not most) of the people think.

I was very proud of the Turks. And I couldn't believe how brave they were to stand against someone so authoritarian in nature, and so very, very cold. Basically, all of my perceptions about what was happening -- as I watched events unfold from my living room in Maine -- were pretty wrong. Once I arrived in Taksim on Thursday night, I was shocked to find complete destruction and disarray. The Turkish people actually fought a war in that square, I thought to myself. Things will never be the same here.

Here's a letter from a Turk to the Turks with more on that topic...

I felt so alone in my understanding of the situation as Husso & I walked hand-in-hand past days-old burnt-out barricades in Gümüşşuyu, and half-finished graffiti that had clearly been abandoned while water cannons and police moved forward. The sidewalks, everywhere, were torn up. Whether the police or the people did it didn't matter to me -- Istanbul was not how I left it. I was walking over the rubble of a warzone and I felt very disturbed. I was very quiet that night.

Husso, like the city itself, is beyond repair. I don't know the full account of what he witnessed on the front lines while I was away, but I know he hates what Taksim square became by the end. Celebrating masses crowded the square, vandals ran rampant, people took shots of vodka, and in those moments, he and I realized that Taksim had become what Erdoğan wanted it to be: a hotbed of crime and general debauchery. It was almost as if, after all of this, he won. He could easily say to his followers, "Look! See what is happening now in Taksim! Without my control, without the police, it is a gathering of anarchists!"

I'll be honest. That may be what it looks like to an outsider. It could definitely be twisted to appear that way to the blind, uneducated, republican-like masses in villages across Turkey or conservative neighborhoods of the city. But no one can ignore the sound of pots and pans and flashing lights in little old Uskudar every night this week. In my neighborhood -- the hypothetical headquarters of the ruling AKP party -- there is resistance. And for that reason, I know the resistance exists everywhere.

I said it before and I'll say it again -- I'm no Turk, and I have never claimed to be. I understand the people on both sides of this issue and I try not to be biased. But for the love of all that is beautiful in your country -- the perfect blend of religious and secular, eastern and western, young and traditional, and all that lies in between -- don't let Erdoğan ruin you. Don't let him decide for everyone what it "best" or "right" or "in the name of Islam or Allah."

If I could be more involved in this movement I would be, but I'll admit it...as a foreigner living here, I am too much of a wimp. I don't want to be kicked out, labeled "outsider" by the government, or asked to leave for spreading dissent. All I can do is hope, hope, and hope more that a leader comes out of all of this who respects both sides of the country and does his or her very best to make sure that the people's voice is heard.

Isn't that the bare minimum requirement for democracy? The AKP is like...democrazy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The End of Efes Limon

I don't understand you, Turkey. You have a population of tens of millions of beer drinkers, and yet the three local producers have only managed to produce a beer that tastes like nothing. When you finally decide to produce a beer that tastes like something, you stop making it just a year later.




This blog is dedicated to mourning the loss of my favorite Turkish beer, Efes Limon. Although you can still find it now, the factory stopped making them in February. Time is running out. Buy up all the Efes Limon, and sell it on the black market.

Or just give it to me.

I only have about 15 in my fridge, a collection of bottles that I was able to find with the help of my darling friends and roommate. A store close to us claims to have a whole case. I may buy all of them, if it comes to that.

But until then, there's still time. We can bring it back if we insist that all the little convenience stores and grocery stores and all the rest simply demand it from the producer. It could happen. This could be the dawning of the Efes Limon revolution.

ARE YOU WITH ME?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

10 Reasons to Hate Fenerbahçe!

Hi everyone! In honor of my supreme dislike for the Turkish football team Fenerbahçe S.K., I present you with a list of reasons you should not like it. Any other team will do (but it is great to be a Beşiktaş fan)!

1. There's a branch of the team's supporters called "Kill For You for Fenerbahçe."

2. Ex-chairman of Fenerbahçe, Aziz Yildirim, was sentenced to three years and nine months for match-fixing and two years and six months for forming an illegal organization, but was released on bail pending an appeal.

3. Ugliest color combination EVER.

4. Hating Fenerbahçe makes you automatically friends with the fans of Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, and who doesn't want over 10 million new friends?

5. This picture:



6. Goalkeeper Volkan Demirel ruins it for everyone.

7. Getting banned, for everything. See this link.

8. There are 36 times more hits for "stupid Fenerbahçe fans" than "stupid Beşiktaş fans."



9. The fans are just as, if not more violent, than any other team in the world. For example.

10. They are sore losers.

Okay, I think that sums it up for now. Thanks for reading.

REMEMBER: