War of the Worlds Premiere Video and Slideshow

You can see a video and slideshow of the War of the Worlds premiere. See Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes ride up the red carpet on Tom's motorcycle! War of the Worlds - A Yahoo! Movies Exclusive

War of The Worlds

Well, it comes out today, and if it's half as good as the trailers I've seen this movie will smoke! If you've ever read the original by H. G. Wells then you'll be pleased to know that, although set in the modern day, the movie stays true to the book. I won't get to see it until the weekend but I'm chomping at the bit! Here's an article on Tom Cruise and the movie: Cruise in Control

Scientology: What is it?

Here is another great reference to answer you questions on what is Scientology: Scientology

Carpe Diem


Reader Johan emails:

"I recently met a girl with the tattoo on her arm. She claimed it meant something like 'Carpe Diem'. I've never seen it before and I can't find anything in dictionaries that would support this.
Any idea about it?
A picture can be found in this entry in my blog: http://garbolino.blogspot.com/2005/06/midsummer-in-dalsland.html

Thanks for a very entertaining site."

"Carpe Diem" is a Latin phrase that means "seize the day". The character shown in the photo is no where near that meaning. The only two definitions I have found are:

1. name of district in Anhui
2. capital of Yin

As mentioned on Johan's site, "carpe diem" is translated with "及时行乐":

及时 [jíshí] in time; promptly
行乐 [xínglè] seek amusement; make merry

Personally, I don't agree with that definition completely.

Interestly enough, I have seen artwork pieces and shirts designed by Paul Nicholson at Terra Tag that has captured the "carpe diem" theme:


The phrase is loosely translated as "to [rely on] wait[ing] is foolish", which is very similar to what "carpe diem" is trying to express. In my personal opinion, is the best translation so far for "carpe diem".

Scientology: The Press are Squawking about it, but what is it?

I've just read several articles from various sources about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and Scientology. I have to say that the descriptions of Scientology are getting more accurate. Time was we'd get a couple of lines that either said nothing or said something entirely inaccurate. Now I've seen a whole range from wildly inaccurate to 90% correct. That's a big change and I think Tom Cruise is the guy to thank for it. Because I've not seen any 100% accurate descriptions yet, I'll give you my quick overview and then I'll provide you with some links to accurate data:

Scientology is a religion which has solutions to the problems of everyday life and methods you can use to improve your abilities and reach your full potential, which is much greater than you ever thought. It contains methods you can use to improve any condition in any part of your life. It is a religion because it addresses a person as a spiritual being. In Scientology you are a spiritual being, not a body or a brain. Because the words "spirit" and "soul" have so many possible meanings from thousands of years of history, we use a different term. We use the term "thetan" (from the Greek letter "theta"). You don't have a thetan you are one. It's like when you are driving your car, you don't have a driver, you are one. That's my inadequate, fast rundown of Scientology but as a last comment I will say that I have been able to use Scientology to make my life much, much better and much, much, much happier. That is what Scientology is all about - making life better and happier.

For a much more thorough description What is Scientology? is an extensive site that covers everything. If you really want all your questions answered this is the place to go.

Or for fast answers to specific questions try the Scientology FAQ.

Watch the Tom Cruise Interview on the Today Show

You have to watch this video. Yesterday I read the transcript, but the video is so much more! In the first half you see clips from "War of the World" and behind the scenes footage, which is very cool. In the second half you hear the actual discussion between Matt Lauer and Tom Cruise on the pseudo science of psychiatry and dangers of psychiatric drugs. It's important to see the video because the way someone says something is so vastly different to what comes over when you just read the words on the transcript. Actor Tom Cruise talks with 'Today' host Matt Lauer. (It's also much more entertaining.)

Tom Cruise Tells It Like It Is

In this interview on this morning's Today Show (The movie star discusses his new film, his new relationship and Scientology with the "Today" show's Matt Lauer), Tom starts off with talking about War of the Worlds but the discussion moves to a brief mention of Scientology and then Matt Lauer gets him onto the subject of Psychiatry (starts half-way down this page: Cruise on Psychiatry and continues on this page: Cruise on Psychiatry)

Tom brings up a couple of point that I wanted to highlight: "If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories." The "chemical imbalance theory is just that: A THEORY. There is no actual proof that an imbalance actually exists in any brain. Next: "Where's the blood test that says how much Ritalin you're supposed to get?" There are no actual physical tests that demonstrate a chemical imbalance and there are no tests to show how much of any psychiatric drug is needed to "balance" the imbalance. In other word the whole thing is a fraud.

Katie Holmes Talks about Scientology

Katie Holmes' interest in Scientology seems to have become an obsession with some journalists. They keep talking about "conversion", which, as I said in an earlier post, is not a concept in Scientology. You can be a Scientologists and a Christian, Muslim. Jew, Buddhist, etc., etc. It's entirely up to you or in this case, her, which, incidentally, is something mentioned in this article: Katie Holmes Embracing Scientology.

The Art of War


Thanks to several readers for emailing this gem in.

This "The Best Selling Translation" edition of 孫子兵法 (Sun Tzu's Art of War) on Barnes & Noble's website has all the Chinese characters mirrored on the front cover. Since Amazon.com, Borders, and Barnes & Noble all share the same database, similar image can be seen from all three online retailers' websites.

孫子 = Sun Tzu (also commonly written in pinyin: Sūn Zǐ) was the author of The Art of War, an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy (for the most part not dealing directly with tactics). He is also one of the earliest realists in international relations theory.
= soldier, troops
= law, rule, regulation, statute

Scientologist Geoffrey Lewis as dad of the "Fat Actress"

Actor Geoffrey Lewis has a resume that is so long it hardly fits onto the page at the Internet Movie Database: Geoffrey Lewis. He can be seen in the hit Showtime series "Fat Actress" playing Kirstie Alley's father but, as can be seen from the IMDB page, he is also in 5 movies so far in 2005 alone. I guess he must be as busy as his real daughter, Juliette, who I highlighted yesterday.

Funnily enough Geoffrey also has a sort of music career with the band Celestial Navigations. The band consists of Geoffrey and a couple of musicians. He tells stories with musical accompaniment, but that is like saying Mozart wrote music, it tells you nothing. When Geoffrey tells a story he creates the character and transports you into the story. You experience the emotions, the hopes, the laughs, everything! It has to be heard to be understood or better yet, seen live. Anyway, visit the Celestial Navigations web site and listen to a couple of sample tracks, if you got a soul, brother, you'll love 'em.

Scientologist Juliette Lewis Rocks

Juliette Lewis is best known as a successful Oscar nominated actress but in 2003 she decided to form a band, Juliette and the Licks. So in the past two years not only has she maintained her successful acting career but has toured with her band and produced an EP and a full length CD. If you ever wondered how someone like Juliette keeps so slim, then just watch her performance in the music video of "You're Speaking My Language" on the Juliette and the Licks web site. I get out of breath just watching it!

When she formed the band she said, "My intention is for our music to serve as an antidote to self-doubt, apathy and fear, which has become rampant in society right now." I've only heard the songs on the web site, but her music and performances sure communicate her intent.

Chick Corea Exploring Flamenco

Anyone familiar with jazz will know of Scientologist Chick Corea. His career was launched when jazz great Miles Davis had him play on two of Miles' wildest albums in the late 1960's. In the years since then Corea has consistently demonstrated his tremendous talent, winning seven (or is it eight?) Grammy's and getting on for 20 nominations. I personally am a big fan, especially of his work with the Chick Corea Elektric Band (I have all their albums). Anyway, lovers of his acoustic side (I have a ton of those albums too) will be exited at the news that he will be releasing a live album from his current flamenco oriented tour: Versatile jazz giant revisits flamenco influences for fun

"Light Painter"

Reader Gordon emails:

"Hi there,

I stumbled across your site looking for some info. I admit to having gotten a tattoo a couple of years back, and like many, I am now concerned that it might not mean what I hope it means. Am I correct in understanding that you're willing to help translate characters correctly for people in my situation? I'd love any info you might provide.
Now that I am faced with the proposition of finding out I am not sure I want to know. Having it lasered off doesn't sound too pleasant.

Admittedly this tattoo is a combination of two ideas. The top character meaning "light" or having some inference to light. (not heavenly light, but actual light, though either will work.) The bottom two characters dealing with the idea of "Artist" or "Painter" I realize when placed on atop the other the grouping may mean nothing, or something else entirely, but I've always thought of them as top and bottom both withholding their individual meanings.

Go easy on me! I hope I am not terribly disappointed here.

Although the calligraphy is bad, the characters are at least recognizable.

The top character is the simplified version of , which means "lantern" or "lamp". (or traditional version ) means "painter/artist", but in the tattoo is missing a top dot.

Ambiguous Design Element

Annoymous emails:

"Hi, I do color separations for silkscreen printing. Lately I have been getting a lot of designs with Hanzi like the one attached. Do they mean anything or are they merely used as an ambiguous design element?"

From my previous email exchange with representatives of apparel companies, these Chinese characters are used randomly as design elements or marketing tools.

= long, perpetual, eternal, forever
= forgive, excuse, show mercy
= bright, light, brilliant; clear
= air, gas, steam, vapor; spirit
= trust, believe; letter
= petal, flower, leaf; brave, a hero; England, English

Romance is not Dead

Can you think of a more romantic place to propose than the Eiffel Tower?: Tom Cruise Proposes to Katie Holmes

A bit more on Tom Cruise

I've been finding it hard to locate real news in amongst the copies of copies that some news sites churn out. I mean how many times can you quote someone quoting someone quoting someone quoting someone ... who interviewed Tom Cruise? Well, many news sites seem not to care that they are cluttering up the Internet with duplicate stories that were not even very accurate in the first place.

Anyway, enough griping, here is a not bad article on something Tom Cruise said in an interview: Cruise says Holmes 'digs' Scientology

Ultra Violent Skin Block

Reader Xavier emails:

"Good evening Tian! I love browsing through your site, and seeing you agree to translate non-tattoo, I'd like to know the significance (if relevant) of this one.

It's a t-shirt I have, and love. When people ask me about the meaning, I often answer that it means "please kick me" or "Asian people are lame" or "very small penis", or anything silly for that matter.

I'd like to be able to answer them correctly for once.
The writing itself, "ultra violent skin block", seems to belong to Diesel clothing line, but I could find the same kanji letters while browsing the Web (and didn't think of checking if my shirt is a Diesel, meh).

Could you let me know if there's anything interesting written on this ?
Thank you."

I am not sure if this shirt should be considered as Engrish or Hanzi Smatter because it has characteristics for both.

The phrase means "[Big] Japan Spirit" or equivalent. 大和 as a single word is "Yamato", the old word for "Japan". 大和魂 itself is a phrased used to refer to the Japanese nationalistic spirit and pride (thanks to Rikoshi). During World War II, Japanese Imperial government used it and similar theme phrases as propaganda slogans to unite the Japanese.

The apparel company Diesel does sell a line of shirts that are called "Ultra Violent Skin Block".

Update: Shirt has been featured in Engrish.com

An email from Engrish saying a similar version of the shirt "Yamato Damashii" shown above has already been featured in Engrish.com.

Jenna Elfman on Tom and Katie

When Jenna Elfman was asked about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes "enthusiastic public displays of affection" (which the press seem so obsessed with) she made the most sensible comment I've heard so far, it also says a lot to say about out present society: "Happiness is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated and supported. If that has become so unreal to our culture, then that's a problem."

The full article can be seen here: Plenty of 'Allure' at this Hollywood event

Sydney Morning Herald - Radar Section


Reader Sputnik emails:

"Hi Tian, love your site. I discovered it after reading an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. The Hanzi Smatter article was in the Radar section of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper June 15, page 7."

The charming article was written by Erin Biba titled "What your tattoo really says":

Tattooing meaningful words on your body in Chinese characters is hip, but it's a risky business when you don't read or speak Chinese. Just ask contributors to HanziSmatter.com, a weblog dedicated to the misuse of Asian characters, most often in tattoo form.


However bad those may seem, Tian put it best when he consoled one victim of tattoo misfortune: "On the good side, it does not say donkey butt."

Thanks to Sputnik, Erin, and Sydney Morning Herald!

July 2005 Issue of Flash Magazine

Sometimes I wonder if anyone in the tattoo community really care about the accuracy of tattoos of Chinese Hanzi and Japanese Kanji characters.

After flipping through a few pages of the July 2005 issue of FLASH magazine,

and I see this:

I don't expect every single tattoo artist to hold Degrees in Asian Language Study, but when you are a major publishing company, please have some decency and do some checking, so the same error will not continue.

Not only the image (I hope it is only the image but not the tattoo) is reversed, the character (love) is missing a middle dot on the top.

"Converting" to Scientology

As usual reporters in the entertainment field are demonstrating their ignorance by proclaiming that Katie Holmes is "converting" to Scientology. To "convert" implies that you are joining one religion to the exclusion of all others. That's not the way things work in Scientology. You can be a Scientologist and a Catholic (in her case) or a Scientologist and a Muslim (in the case of a friend of mine) or a Scientologist and a Jew (in the case of some other friends of mine) or ... the list goes on. For more data see the letter from the director of the Scientology Parishioners League, written to the Asian Tribune: "Change No Man’s Religion" is a prime policy of Scientology. Also there is an article in the My Scientology blog Katie Holmes "converting" to Scientology, I think he covers it pretty well.

Katie Holmes - Can I add her to this blog yet?

According to a recent interview Katie Holmes has looked into Scientology and she likes it: Holmes says Scientology "a wonderful thing" (you can also see a video of Katie Holmes being interviewed).

It is a refreshing change to have someone actually find out about a subject before expressing an opinion of it. I wish some in the press would try that unusual step. If any of them read this then I suggest they try: What is Scientology?

"Talking Dragon Love"

Reader Mikael emails:

"Tian, my cousin just got this tattoo on his chest. He claims that it i’s a pure sound message, but I wanted to check with you, so that he hasn'’t screwed up or anything. He didn'’t want to tell me what the sound message was either, so if you know, please tell me. Best Regards."

Regardless what "sound message" he is trying to express via his tattoo, the last character (love) is missing a few strokes backwards. Although the top two characters are not the best in terms of calligraphy, at least they are correct.

= speak, say, talk; to explain; to illustrate; explanation; directions; caption
= dragon
= love, be fond of, like

Billy Sheehan - More

I got so carried away yesterday in all the accomplishments of Billy Sheehan that I forgot to talk about his new album, Cosmic Troubadour. I don't have it yet, but I do have his first solo album, Compression which is a great album. Billy has a great singing voice, he reminds me at times of the early David Bowie. On Amazon Cosmic Troubadour has 4 1/2 stars from customer reviews and Compression has 4 stars.

Scientologist Billy Sheehan Releases his 2nd Solo CD

Billy Sheehan has won so many "Best Bass Player" Awards in his career that he's probably lost count - 5 times in Guitar Player Magazine, 14 consecutive years in Japan's Player Magazine and numerous others in Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy and the list goes on.

A Scientologist since 1971, in a recent interview in Celebrity Magazine, Billy attributed much of his success to his studies in Scientology. He said that directly after one particular Scientology service, "I had the biggest career success ever. The best success ever in my life ... I sat in the #1 chair on The Tonight Show, I had a #1 single, I had a platinum record and a #1 video."

Billy is a big supporter of the Church and was one of the celebrities who helped open the new Church of Scientology of Buffalo.

Madonna Demonstrates Religious Tolerance

Madonna has had to put up with a tremendous amount of crap from the media regarding her own faith, Kabbalah. The fascinating thing about the media is that whatever they say about a religion, be it Kabbalah, Scientology, Islam or anything else, it's usually completely wrong. Time and time again reporters demonstrate that they are not journalists. A real journalist actually does some research in order to understand what he or she is writing about.

So it's good to see Madonna demonstrating her understanding by supporting Tom Cruise's outspoken support for Scientology: Madonna Defends Cruise's Scientology

Lenta Smatter

Reader Konstantin has emailed me an excellent piece about Hanzi misuse in Russian media, Lenta.ru:

"You'd think that [Russian] having a long border with China would make a difference, but..."


"I don't know"


Why waste the money and effort to state the obvious?

Anime Junkie Trash

Reader Peng Guo emails:

"Tian, Being a fan of Hanzismatter, I'd like to show you something. I entered the store, 'Hot Topic' and discovered the t-shirt with a kanji. I wonder, how does the (the simpified form of ) connect to the words, 'Anime Junkie'? The meanings of the kanji, 'discard' or 'terminate', aren't close to the words..."

The slang meaning of "junkie" is "one who has an insatiable interest or devotion".

Perhaps the designer of this t-shirt wants to tell everyone that anime fans are "waste" and they need to be labeled as "trash" and "discarded".

= abrogate, terminate, discard

Scientologist Marisol Nichols is Another Success Story

Marisol Nichols stars in the hit TV series Blind Justice as Detective Karen Bettancourt. She is a talented actress who, early in her career, received a Golden Eagle Award for "Most Promising Actor or Actress", She has certainly lived up to that, appearing in both hit movies and TV shows. Her performance in the TV film, The Princess and the Marine earned her an ALMA nomination for "Outstanding Actress". A Scientologist for many years, she is a strong supporter of both the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and The Way To Happiness Foundation.

Her new website: Marisol Nichols

"Book From The Sky"


Reader David Stone emails:

Dear Tian,

Thank you for producing your wonderful blog "Hanzismatter". I check it daily.

As someone who reads modern (simplified) Chinese, I am also annoyed and puzzled by people who chose to tattoo Chinese characters on their body without a clear understanding of what the characters mean or what they should look like. Americans like to laugh at people in China and Japan for wearing silly "Engrish" t-shirts and the like, but at least people there aren't stupid enough to tattoo the crap on their own living skin.


In order to end the ugly trend of embarrassing Chinese tattoos, I suggest that we look to Xu Bing, a graphic/fine artist from China and creator of "Tianshu" ("A Book From Heaven/Sky"). "Tianshu" is a piece of art consisting of thousands of faux "characters" that are made up of various elements of Chinese characters, but don't actually exist as part of the written language. Xu apparently created wooden block type for the characters by hand, and printed them is a manner suggesting ancient religious texts.


My proposal is that someone ask Xu Bing to make a catalogue of his fake characters available to the general western public. That way, people can just chose meaningless "characters" at random for their tattoos, allowing themselves to indulge in their stupid trend while sparing the rest of us who can read Chinese from knowing just how bad their judgment is.

I am, of course, being facetious... But it's kind of funny how this work of art relates to what appears on your blog regularly.

Here's a description of "
Tianshu" from an art dealer. Forgive me if I seem pedantic for describing something you are already familiar with.


Thanks for the amusing and interesting blog. Keep up the good work!

-David Stone

Personally I think Xu Bing's pieces are in the same realm as glossolalia (speaking in tongues). They maybe artistic and interesting for some; but to others, they are completely meaningless gibberish.

Evil Hand Bag

Reader Matthias emails:

"Hi Tian, attached you will find a picture of a hand bag that I saw in Germany. If I'm not totally wrong, the kanji means 'bad', which is the perfect kanji next to a heart symbol. :-)"

I wonder which outfit would match well with this hand bag, perhaps an "I hate myself and I want to die" sweat shirt?

= evil, wicked, bad, foul

A for Alexa

Reader Alexa emails:

My friends and I are getting tattoos. We are getting each others first initial in Chinese. After reading some of the horror stories on your web site I want to make sure I get the correct letters:

A for Alexa
C for Crissy
T for Tonya

Again we just want the letters. I am also interested in a phrase like friendship or something to that effect. I appreciate you taking time to read this and please respond, I don't want "crazy diarrhea" on me for life.

Thank you,


It may be a common misnomer that Chinese is like any other Romantic language that follows an alphabetical system.

Actually it is not so.
(example: tattoo's owner claim the characters are her son's initials)

My good friend Dr. Rick Harbaugh of Zhongwen.com has a Frequently Asked Questions section where this question has been answered in detail.

Mark Swofford of Pinyin Info is also planning to launch a new Frequently Asked Question to help out with some of these questions. The following is one of the example questions/answers, I think it is very useful for future tattoo seekers:

I want to get a tattoo with kanji / Chinese characters. What do you recommend?

This is probably not what you want to hear: Don’t get the tattoo. Most tattoos with Chinese characters are seriously flawed.

The chances of you getting something that looks good – and not just to you but also to others, including the hundreds of millions of people who can actually read Chinese characters and know how they’re supposed to look – are quite low.

Moreover, tattoos of Chinese characters are seldom written properly or represent a correct, idiomatic translation of the wearer’s desired meaning. On the other hand, the chances of you ending up looking more or less like a fool – at least to those who know Chinese characters – are uncomfortably high.

These are important considerations, given that you would need to go through pain and expense to have someone permanently stain your skin with an image that very likely will be done wrong in some important way.

Tom Cruise on Scientology (Access Hollywood)

I've seen a ton of news articles that have used quotes from an interview Tom Cruise gave to Access Hollywood but I hadn't seen the interview itself. Well today I finally found it. It wasn't hard to find when I started looking, all I had to do was go to the Access Hollywood home page (duh). Anyway, here it is: Tom Cruise on Scientology