Which English do you speak?

I've been rotting my brain over at the IMDB forums lately, and I keep running across the phrase "plummy accent" and I haven't known what to make of it (but it made me think of the sound you get just after tasting lemon). Today I did a little hunting and learned all kinds of new words, starting with "Received Punctuation (RP)" (how you talk if you go to Eton/Winchester/Rugby and then to Oxbridge), and including "BBC English" and - the modern accent of choice - "Estuary English(EE)." There isn't an agreed meaning for "plummy" but the term is usually reserved for the foppish.

I spent 5 months in Britain in 1997 and paid attention to accents after having a suprisingly rough start. After years of watching BBC tv shows on PBS, I thought I would have no problem understanding people. Ha! On my first day, jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, I said "huh?" a hundred times, unable to understand people-in-a-hurry in London (speaking, mostly, EE).

I had a dire warning from an elderly english lady sitting beside me on a train, "Oh, don't go to Glasgow, you'll never be able to understand them up there; I can't understand them!" I went anyway and found Glasgowegian English easier to understand than Estuary English - it has arr's and tee's and I didn't have to struggle to hear glottal stops where r & t should be.

Good news

Scaryduck linked to NiceCupOfTeaAndASitDown today, and I found the greatest news there. McVitties has built a crumb-test dummy and has been collecting data on crumb generation. It' s like a Mythbusters creation, only serious.



My counter is suddenly a lot more fun.

Someone found me with the google search: marvin the paranoid android quotes analyze molecules. Good news: google knows I'm here. Bad news: I doubt the searcher found what they were looking for (Marvin detecting The Question in Arthur's brainwave patterns, maybe).

Maybe someone gives an award for "most posts in one day after a month-long absence" and I'm their girl today (see below to find out where I've been).

Dolce voce

I grew up in a small town, and the self-declared Singer of Note was a woman named Kitty Bradley. She and I attended the same church, and 2 or 3 Sundays a year I sat through her elaborately nuanced, operatically overblown performances of sacred music.

By the time I was 10, I sang in 2 choirs and I knew I would never have voice lessons. I knew that voice lessons made you vibrate like Ethel Merman. I knew that once you had had voice lessons, you would always sing with baroque flourishes so heavy that the song would nearly collapse under their weight. I didn't want to sing like Mrs. Bradley.

When I was 19 and home on spring break, I happened to hear her in church and realized her performance was rubbish. I guess that as a young woman she learned just enough to be dangerous, and since then she had "developed" in isolation, winding up with an eccentric and unpleasant style.

I signed up for voice lessons the next term.


I just got some rechargeable batteries and have been listening to a walkman every night on walks with the dog. It would be nice to have an iPod in the same way that it would be nice to have a Mini Cooper (ain't gonna happen). I love singing along with music when I'm alone or anonymous, and I can be found walking through my neighborhood singing to myself. I have barely sung at all since I moved home from Oregon, and my ear-voice coordination was getting pretty terrible; now, 2 weeks after my daily dose of music went way up, I'm thrilled to hear it coming back together again.

I have had slightly patchy hearing all my life (probably from having hippie parents. As an infant, I participated in the Colorado live music scene from a corduroy baby-cocoon). These days, I have to watch tv 20% louder than I would like to avoid missing a lot of dialog, and I don't do much better hearing speech in person.

On the other hand, I have good pitch, and my hearing is better-than-normal in some ways. My college roommate was impressed by my feats of aural identification - "sounds like soap," I mumbled in my sleep, half-awoken by a clattering crash one morning - and turned it into a stupid human trick for the amusement of our neighbors.

I'm taking a psych class right now and drinking in neurobiology and the mapping of perception in the brain. I have such a defined problem getting dynamics right whenever I take music lessons, I am suddenly wondering if my ear/mind/brain, which developed around incomplete hearing, has an incomplete ability to hear dynamics. It's a much friendlier theory than the one that says I'm too dumb or lazy to get it right.


Like rabbits

A couple of days ago, I noticed that walking the dog suddenly took a lot longer than before. The dog would find an irresistably sniffy spot in the grass and wouldn't budge - I mean literally, he was leaving drag-marks in the grass when I got impatient and pulled him away. And these spots were everywhere - our standard 3 blocks up, 3 blocks back could take half an hour. What on earth had changed so suddenly? Was my dog going bonkers? or was I?

Walking that evening without the dog, I startled 3 rabbits out of a shadow - they all radiated from one spot and had moony looks on their faces, not at all like they had been browsing. Exactly like they had been courting, or better. So that's the answer to the riddle: Bunny Love.

So. My dog is gluing his face to rabbit-in-heat scent whenever we leave the house. I wonder how many days this will go on for - I had better find my walkman so I can adapt to the new super-slow pace.

So, my stock of deviant thoughts is replenished just in time for the onslaught of Easter goo-gahs in the stores and on people's lawns. I will be smiling to myself for the next 2 weeks. Good doggy!

An exercise in fanatacism

I heard Tim Curry interviewed on the radio last week and have been over the moon in love with him ever since. Would anyone like to make a Tiger Beat joke while the moment's ripe?

The man was utterly tender, funny, kind. He started the interview a little guarded, being faced with too many questions about his first movie and too little interest in everything he's done in the 30 years since; after a few minutes, the interviewer calmed down, Tim Curry relaxed, and the interview just swam along. He told how he and Eric Idle have been looking for a project to work on together for years, and were going to do a send-up of costume drama films called "The Remains of the Piano." He talked about learning to sing all over again after his voice broke, having been a boy soprano chorister. He talked about his first job in the theatre. I was driving across town to visit my brother - who had just come home after knee surgery - and I spent 10 minutes winding around my brother's suburb so I wouldn't arrive before the end of the interview.

At first I tried to rein my feelings in and convert them to respectable feelings like admiration and respect. Then I had a crappy morning at work and consoled myself by spending the afternoon moving between fansites and IMDB, developing an active obsession - a naughty way to spend an afternoon. The endorphine feedback was powerful, just like having a crush on someone in real life. Women are turned on by narrative the same way that guys react to T & A. Must be our biology.

I spent the next day analysing the situation in evolutionary terms. It goes like this: people have anxiety attacks and even post-traumatic stress after watching the news on TV, because the human mind has no means (and has only recently had a reason) to distinguish between events happening in on the other side of your window and events happening on the other side of the TV screen. In light of that, it's natural that I felt a huge warm attraction to the man whose baritone filled my car, telling stories about his life with tenderness and humor, even singing a little Billie Holiday when asked. Most of my brain doesn't understand that he's not speaking from the passenger seat. Reality is I won't have a chance to ask when I can see him again - I don't even have a chance to thank him for a lovely evening.

I spent the weekend listening to Billie Holiday (I even went out to get more when I realized my albums didn't go back to the 1930s). I rented a couple of Tim Curry movies, too. For years I've been avoiding Muppet movies - I had a hard time adjusting to Kermit-as-performed-by- ? after Jim Henson died, and I used to think they should retire the character. Then I watched Muppet Treasure Island, having become smitten with its star, and found that the new Kermit doesn't bother me anymore. Tim Curry's Long John Silver is just wonderful, sparkly eyes and wicked eyebrows and that laugh! The next screening will be Clue. "Butler? or Villain?" says Tim Curry, having bumped into Eric Idle in LA.

I think my feelings are settling down and getting saner, after a setback this weekend. I plunged deeper when I read a description of Tim Curry's home (8 years ago) where he lived alone with his dog and his garden, this man who loves to read and have small dinners with friends. Sounds a lot like me. He's moved house now and the dog, an Aussie, must be gone now. "All the lonely people," I think to myself.

But lonely isn't the right word, at least not for me. I like solitude, like keeping my own company, I like to read whole afternoons away. I like long conversations with a few people, everyone speaking, everyone listening. I like turning the music on, and turning the music off, without lengthy negotiations. I would like to have a lover in this mellow life - preferably someone who has the same tastes in slow time at home and laughter and quiet and words. I don't know how I would find this lover, when I'm at home reading and they are at home planting a garden. Going to a bar on a Friday night is not going to increase my chances. Even less effective is pining over a man whose voice charmed me over the radio.


A quick blogmeme

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

I was referred to the page by Cheeky Prof.

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