A Few Stitches Short

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Reader Theresa emailed in this cross-stitching template and wants to know if all the Chinese characters were written correctly. This template titled “Bonsai and Buddha” was designed by Nicholas Charles and manufactured by a company based in Reading, PA, USA called Dimensions.

is missing a few dots in the partial.

is missing a horizontal stroke.

should have written as the traditional version of to be consistent with the rest of characters.

is missing a top dot.

Interview with "Sky High" Supermom Kelly Preston

I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Kelly Preston and I'm really glad she wasn't wearing that "supersuit" from her new movie "Sky High". I don't think I'd have been able to utter a single sensible word confronted with that outfit :). Anyway, here is a really great interview with her that covers such things as the movie, family, Scientology and psychiatric drugging of children (quite a mixture): Kelly Preston in "Sky High".

Language Misuse Go Round and Round

Here at Hanzi Smatter, my associates and I have spent endless hours chuckling over miswritten Chinese character tattoos. We also know that on the other side of the globe, there are probably some Asian schmucks that have English gibberish (or Engrish) tattooed on them as well. Even though we believed our prediction would be true, there has never been anyone that sends us photographic evidence to prove it.

That is why we were so excited when Reid Barrett sent this photo to us from Beijing. Along with the photo, Reid had this to say:


I'm a big fan of your site. Unfortunately like all Blogger and blogspot sites, it is blocked in China and so I have to go through proxies to keep up with your page.

Anyway, I was on the subway one day and noticed this Chinese guy standing next to me with a tattoo. When I saw what it was and the significance clicked, I was glad I had my camera with me. He let me snap off a pick just as he was leaving. Sorry it's not a great picture, but hopefully you and everybody else will get a kick out of it: a crudely made tattoo of a clichéd phrase in English on the body of a Chinese guy who doesn't understand a word of the language.

Yup, it says 'I love you!' but as you may be able to see the 'o' and 'v' are smashed together, the 'y' is written rather sloppily, and the 'u' is only half finished. It is a perfect parallel to poorly written Chinese and Kanji."

There are two reasons why we are ecstatic about Reid's find in Beijing's subway:

1. Superficial knowledge and misuse of language happens everywhere. Just look at Engrish.com.

2. Asians are not the only people that carry cameras, although the stereotyping is still funny and often true. I am doing my part to "representing" and keeping the stereotyping alive by purchasing another camera - Canon Powershot S1 IS.

Scientologist Giovanni Ribisi

Giovanni Ribisi is a Scientologist and a very successful actor. He first came to prominence as "Wade" in Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" and has gone on to star in everything from serious drama such as "Cold Mountain" to popcorn such as "Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow". If you saw him in "Flight of the Phoenix" last year as the nerdy but ruthless Elliott, you'll realize what a versatile actor he is. In a recent interview when asked what had interested him in Scientology he said, "... it was just applying something that was getting results. ... In Scientology when you standardly apply a, b and c, you always get this result." He's referring to the fact that Scientology is an applied religion, It provides methods of addressing problems and situations in life, methods that if applied correctly, get a successful result every time. A great example of this is the Scientology course: "How to Improve Conditions in Life".

Carisa Anderson's Upside Down "Devotion"


Reader Andy emails me several photos of Dennis Anderson and his new bride Carisa at their wedding in Las Vegas earlier this year. For those who do not know who Dennis Anderson is, he is the driver of monster truck, the "Grave Digger".

The new Mrs. Anderson seems to have an upside down on her right arm.

= loyalty, devotion, fidelity

A Successful Career for Scientologist James Barbour

James Barbour is considered one of the most sought after performers on Broadway today. He has a powerful and very musical voice which can be heard in many musicals and on the "Assassins" soundtrack. He can be see on August 14 at the Hollywood Bowl, playing Lancelot in "Camelot" opposite Jeremy Irons and Melissa Errico.

Dummies for Kanji

Reader Dan has pointed me to today's "Joe and Monkey" by Zach Miller.

The two-character phrase featured in the comic means "idiot".

Just a side note, even though both Japanese and Chinese use same if not similar characters, when they are used as Chinese, the characters are "Hanzi", and as Japanese, they are referred as "Kanji".

It Says "Princess" in Japanese


Reader Heather has send me a link to today's Questionable Content webcomic by Jeph Jacques. One of the characters, Raven, decides to get a Japanese tattoo, and of course end up with a tongue lashing from others.

= princess

"Tranquility" Lost

I saw this "Wall Hanging Asian Character" for sale at a local Bed Bath and Beyond store. The character has an English caption stating it means "tranquility". The truth is far from "tranquil".

Depends on how is used as in a phrase or sentence, it has many meanings including "catch; receive; suffer", "to make known; to show; to prove; to write; book; outstanding", and "plan; settlement; to wear", but none of them means "tranquility".

Support from San Diego for Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons when he spoke up about the dangers of antidepressant drugs and called psychiatry a pseudoscience. Here is one columnist who begins, "I can't believe I'm defending Tom Cruise." and goes on to say "My friends who are doctors tell me that they are constantly being lobbied by drug companies, trying to convince them to prescribe some of this and more of that." and concludes that "Tom Cruise raised a serious issue, one that deserves serious attention."

It's not the celebrity, it's the subject

Psychologist backs Tom Cruise

Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D., a psychologist, is a professor at American University's School of Public Affairs. In this editorial he comes out in support of Tom Cruise and the comments he made that psychiatry is a pseudoscience, that the "chemical imbalance" theory has never been proved and that psychiatric drugs hide the real problems. Schaler also talks about Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist who also calls psychiatry a pseudoscience and has called for its abolition: Cruising Szasz

Editorial by Scientology Celebrity Kelly Preston

Scientology Celebrities Kelly Preston and Kirstie Alley have called on the FDA to strengthen warnings on stimulants (like ADHD drugs) and antidepressants, especially when prescribed to children. These drugs have been proven to cause hostility and suicidal behavior in children. Kelly Preston went further and wrote this editorial: Kelly Preston: Arianna's Call For Drug-Violence Investigation Never More Timely

Hotdogs Tattoo in Big Brother Australia


Reader Amy points me to an article posted on Big Brother Australia's website about one of their housemates' tattoo:

Hotdogs took some inspiration from the East when it came time to choose his tattoos. On his right arm is a series of Chinese characters, during his first day in the house Dean and Glenn joked that these might represent Hotdogs favourite meal at the local Chinese takeaway. Hotdogs explained that he understands the characters to mean: "strong, fierce, the heaven is eternal, the earth everlasting, King."

Alma Yuan a translator from Australian/Chinese company Uni-Pacific Services confirms that the four smaller characters in combination do mean 'everlasting'. However, rather perversely, one of the larger characters is a posthumous title for Zhu Youjian, the last emperor of Ming Dynasty, who notoriously hung himself as the rebels approached to conquer Beijing. (more)

Tricky Tiger Saloon

Reader Aylwin emails from Canada:

I spotted this shirt on display last weekend at The Bay (a Canadian department store chain) at Bloor & Yonge in Toronto..."

The character on the upper left corner means "rescue" or "save". According to my Hong Kong native friend Angela, the four characters in the Chinese seal (or Japanese hanko) is a Cantonese slang about cool good looking guy. literally means "[to] have shape" or "shapely", and means "good looking guy". In Mandarin Chinese, is used to describe a good looking guy.

The only conclusion I can draw from the shirt is that "in order to be a cool good looking guy at the Tricky Tiger Saloon, one must rescue a tiger from a white wife-beater tanktop".

Scientology Stars Crusade Against Antidepressants

Kelly Preston and Kirstie Alley have come out in support of Tom Cruise in his condemnation of giving dangerous psychotropic drugs to children. Following on the heals of new FDA warnings on side effects such as "hallucinations and psychotic, suicidal and violent behavior" the two mothers have spoken out in defense of children and in support of parents who have been misled about the dangers of these drugs: Scientology Stars Crusade Against Antidepressants

Neurology Expert Backs Tom Cruise

Another article about a medical expert who agrees with Tom Cruise when he said that Psychiatry is a pseudoscience and that children are given psychotropic drugs unnecessarily: Author Joins Scientologist Cruise in Criticizing Psychiatric Profession

Gamer Shirt


From reader Sarah:

"Hi. Been watching hanzismatter.com for a while now, and as a Japanese education major must admit that I have giggled uncontrollably on more than one account.

Anyway, just thought I'd pass on this beauty my boyfriend sent my way. The actual website has 先週 listed as meaning "gamer". Even my ex-roommate, who only took a craptacular Japanese class for two years, had to giggle and comment on how 'close' 先週 is to "gamer" (can you feel the sarcasm just leaking from that?).



I have seen "gamer" been translated as ゲーマー in Japanese but never 先週.

[せんしゅう] last week/the week before

Talk Nerdy To Me

From Reader Malinda:

"Tian, long time reader first time emailer. I bought this shirt on Jinx.com - now I'm nervous... Does it really say 'Talk Nerdy to me?'"

Other than is missing a dot on top (thanks to anon.), I forwarded her question to my associates and here is what they had to say about the shirt.

Aaron replied with:

"Well, it's not WRONG, as in poor Japanese, but it's not really 'Talk Nerdy to Me' either. It says 'Konpyuuta gengo de hanasou ze.' This translates roughly to 'Let's speak in the language of computers!' The dirty/nerdy wordplay is, of course, obliterated once you get into Japanese.

Also, nerds are, of course, not just computer people, and not all computer people are nerds. I usually translate "nerd" as "otaku," although that conjures up more of an anime/manga freak than a computer/DnD freak... It's basically not the sort of thing that translates very well.

That being said, having taught Japanese and having just met up with some of my former students in Tokyo the other night, just having the shirt in Japanese might be sufficiently nerdy to impart the intended meaning."

Ken replied with:

"Not a bad translation although I wouldn't say it's a natural Japanese sentence. Grammatically, there's no problems.

I'd re-translate this Japanese into English as: Shall we talk in the computer language?

1. Real nerds wouldn't say "the computer language".

2. The letter at the very end which reads "ze" is written in katakana instead of hiragana. This is like, wRi71ng 3nGlisH LIk3 THis. Well, not this much, but basically it's a word play. In any case, using a katakana letter at the end is way out of fasion.

Having said all the above, I like this T-shirt. It's funny enough to make me laugh. Come to think of it, it's so much better to have an awkward sentence on a T-shirt than to have a perfect sentence. It draws more attention. That's what a phrase on a T-shirt is supposed to do."

Now you know, and knowing is:



or "Knowing is half the battle".

Poor Brooke Shields

I feel very sorry for Brooke Shields. Without knowing it she is being used as a pawn by drug companies in their game of profit at any cost. While she promotes the use of antidepressants, the FDA warns of their dangerous side-effects. I hesitate to say this, but would you listen to a coke addict extolling the virtues of snorting cocaine? No? Then don't listen to a Paxil addict doing the same for her drug of choice. Anyway, here is the article: CCHR: While Shields Promotes Antidepressant Use, FDA Warns of Suicide Risks

Tom Cruise Was Right

Enough beating around the bush. On NBC's "Today" show, Tom Cruise said a lot of things about psychiatry and the abuses that occur in that field. Amongst other things he said that he had carefully studied the history of psychiatry, that it is a pseudoscience, that children are being put on psychiatric drugs against their will, without their parents knowing the side-effects, that Ritalin is a drug available on the street, that there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance, and that psychiatric drugs do not cure anything but merely mask the real problems. So let's cut to the chase and give you the links that show he was right:

Psychiatric Watchdog Comes Out In Support of Tom Cruise

Well, by his remarks on the "Today Show" on June 24th, Tom Cruise seems to have initiated a national debate on psychiatric drugs and the "chemical imbalance" theory that is used as the excuse for prescribing them. A couple days later a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School said that Cruise was right when he said there was no test to show a chemical imbalance even existed. Now a psychiatric watchdog has come out in support of Tom Cruise: Psychiatric Watchdog on The "Chemical Imbalance"

American Psychiatric Association Admits Tom Cruise Was Right

I saw the "Today Show" piece where two psychiatrists were asked about Tom Cruise's comments that there was no test for the chemical imbalance theory which justifies the prescribing of drugs for mental disorders such as anxiety disorder, depression, ADD and ADHD. You know, antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, etc. and stimulants such as Ritalin. The first psychiatrist (a Harvard psychiatry professor) said there was no evidence at all to show that any such chemical imbalance existed. The other psychiatrist was the president of the American Psychiatric Association and he agreed. The amazing thing was that the prez of the APA, Steven Sharfstein, first of all came out swinging, calling Tom Cruise all sorts of nasty things like "irresponsible" and that the things he was saying were "dangerous". Then one point at a time, Sharfstein admitted that Tom Cruise was right on every point he made. Sharfstein even admitted to People Magazine that, "We do not have a clean-cut lab test." That's a good one. In other words: there is no test and there is no chemical imbalance, but we have to keep prescribing these drugs for these mental disorders because the insurance companies will pay us for it." (That's another thing that the two psychiatrists admitted on the "Today Show".)

Anyway here is an article on this topic and at the bottom of the page a whole list of further reading: American Psychiatric Association Admits There Is No Test For "Chemical Imbalance"

Dogging the Past

In Spring of 2003, Junko Hamaguchi wrote an article titled "Lost in Translation - Here’s what those cool-looking Japanese tattoos really say" for Echo Magazine, a student magazine for Columbia College Chicago. The same article was then republished in Chicago Tribune.

One of the photos was this one:

The photo's caption says:

The tattoo belongs to Marcus Gonzales
  • What he thinks his tattoo says: "strength" and "courage."
  • What it actually says: The left part of the symbol appears to say "dog," while the right part conveys something along the lines of "time moving into the past." Smushed together, the two symbols amount to gibberish.
The amazing thing is that I have found an exact replica of it in July 2005 issue of Tattoos for Women magazine!

The legend continues...