The Calling Part 6

January 7th, 2011 by Wordsman

Day 2:

“Meet a man three different times and you will meet three different men,” may have been a famous quote by Ben Franklin.  Or Officer Escobar might have made it up himself.  He wasn’t sure.  Either way, he felt it was true.  In the morning, when baked goods are at their freshest, he was pleasant, cheerful, occasionally even buoyant.  Later on, typically around 8 PM, which just happened to be closing time at the Dough-Re-Mi, his mood tended to droop.

Wondering if it might be the same for the woman who uttered macabre gibberish late at night and practiced persuasive speaking in the morning, he decided to try hitting Simon Park Station in the afternoon.

The traffic was worse than during the morning rush.  Commuters on their way to work are tired, but they’re also orderly, trying to get into a business frame of mind before getting to the office.  People coming home are even more tired, and if you’re the only thing standing between them and the freedom to fling off their ties, kick off their shoes, dump their briefcases and plop down on the couch, you can hardly expect them to be polite.

Escobar waded through the eager crowd of people, most mere minutes away from blissfully mindless, television-induced inactivity.  Once inside, it took him only a few seconds to locate her pillar.  He appreciated consistency.  Whether they were perps, informants, or just persons of general interest, the easiest people to deal with were always the ones that never moved.

Naturally, as soon as he thought this, the woman stood up and strode purposefully toward the nearest pedestrian.

Officer Escobar was not prepared for this situation.  Unpredictable women, while fascinating, have the problem of being difficult to predict.  He had no idea what would come of the encounter.  He did not know if she would talk of bees, mysterious adventures, or both.  What he did know was that, as a cop, his patience and his tolerance for the weird were much higher than those of the average citizen.

Dying to find out what was going to come out of the strange woman’s mouth this time, he edged closer, positioning himself to prevent any disturbance.  Whatever she had to say, he doubted the commuter would be interested.  The only reason the average telemarketer doesn’t end the day with a broken nose is that you can’t punch someone over the phone.

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This Day in History Entry #99

January 4th, 2011 by Wordsman

Who’d have thought that a little gray ball
Could so greatly the U.S. appall?
But it was just a phase
After ninety-three days
Plucky Sputnik would back to Earth fall

Event: Sputnik 1 burns up in the atmosphere
Year: 1958
Learn more:

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Know Your Picture Characters Entry #37

January 3rd, 2011 by Wordsman

A. 雁 B. 雉鳩 C. 卿 D. 黒歌鳥 E. 鼓手 F. 小間使い G. 淑女

H. 白鳥 I. 笛吹 J. 雌鶏 K. 山鶉 L. 指輪

And now, after having delayed a week in order to allow everyone to become thoroughly sick of Christmas stuff, we present the answers to this “Twelve Days of Christmas”-themed puzzle (hopefully everyone figured that part out).  This challenge would be somewhat intimidating even to a long-term student of Japanese like me, simply because of the sheer quantity of birds.  A full half of the types of things given in the song are birds.  You’ve got birds staring at you from every direction.  It’s just like that Alfred Hitchcock movie with all those birds in it.  I think it was called Psycho or something like that.

Thus, the intelligent thing to do is to avoid our fine, feathered friends altogether, which is why the smart money in the early running should have been on Theoman, who is more interested in girls than he is in fowl (and who can blame him?)  He correctly spotted the nine ladies dancing (NOTE: the kanji are only for the most basic parts of the gifts, without the descriptors, i.e. “ladies,” “lords,” “pipers,” etc.) as G.  This means that A Fan’s guess that G was lords a-leaping is incorrect, which is too bad, because he seemed so sure about it for some reason.  The lords are hanging out at C, wedged in between the pair of turtledoves (B) and the quartet of colly birds (D).  Yes, that’s right, I said “colly birds,” which is what there were originally four of in the song (it’s another word for blackbird). Look it up.

We will forgive Shirley for being busy with travel preparations, which meant that she only had enough time to make five times as many guesses as anyone else did.  Contrary to typical KYPC results, however, the shotgun method failed to yield a correct answer.  Overall she was pretty good at identifying which ones were birds and which weren’t, but the specification of species eluded her.  To be fair, if I was trying to do this without a dictionary, I would probably have similar results.  A is our goose a-laying and H our swan a-swimming.  C, as has already been explained, is our wacky lords, who probably told everyone that they were only smoking pipe tobacco, and hey, who’s going to argue with a lord?  Those stuck-up foreign hens can be found at J, and F is our milking maid.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “Hey, the characters in F do mean ‘maid,’ but it’s a maid like a housemaid, not a milkmaid!”  And you are correct (I think).  But where is it said that it has to be a milkmaid?  All the song says is “maids a-milking.”  It is not specific as to the type of maid.  This is Christmas time, remember.  Sometimes crazy things happen.  Just look at those lords.  How often do you see lords leap?

Dragon came at this puzzle from an interesting angle, attempting to read hidden meanings into my every statement.  As a matter of fact, she was correct: the things are listed in alphabetical order.  Unfortunately for her, it is the Japanese alphabetical order (which is a misnomer, since it has nothing to do with the English alphabet), and therefore it did not help her.  But it was a good thought nonetheless.

Let’s see, what’s left . . . people seem to have mostly ignored the musicians.  E is the drummer and I the piper–at least they have the sense to be doing things that suit them.  L is the ring, significant in that it is just about the only item on the list that a sane person would give as a gift.  And, last but not least, our most famous pear tree-dweller is sitting there at K.

A new year is upon us, a time for looking ahead to the future.  Ah, forget the future.  Let’s look at the past instead.  Here comes the second official Periods of Japanese History Quiz!  Your options this time are the Yayoi Period (300 BC-250 AD), the Tomb Period (250-538), the Asuka Period (538-710), the Northern and Southern Courts Period (1336-1392), the Warring States (or “Country at War”) Period (1467-1573), and the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1603).  I’d like Theoman to look for Asuka, because . . . because I said so, that’s why.  You may notice that some of these overlap with times covered in the previous quiz; several of them are smaller divisions sometimes identified within a larger historical era, such as the Muromachi.  And sometimes, looking back at things centuries later, historians can’t always decide exactly in which year one period ended and another began.

A. 飛鳥 B. 安土桃山 C. 古墳 D. 戦国 E. 南北朝 F. 弥生

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