Some thoughts on accents

  • inquisitive
  • none, oddly (but, then, it is past sleeping time)

Cross-posted from a (friends-locked) discussion on how US accents sound to non-US people, because I'm interested in further input, especially from those whom I purport to represent herein (and apologies if I have misrepresented you in doing so).

I would guess that since most of the American we hear is from movies based in either New York, Washington DC or California, the 'standard' American accent is deemed to be whichever one of those is on at the time. Certainly, when called upon to perform an American accent, most New Zealanders I know will probably hit somewhere around LA, but with a curious over-rounding of certain vowels: New Zealanders pronounce 'car' as 'kaa', not 'kar', but this leads to the over-insertion of Rs in unexpected and random places (like 'farther' instead of 'father') when putting on an American accent.

We read the same things, I think, into the Surfer Dude and Valley Girl accents, but there are some wider regional ones, I think, which are possibly less conscious? I base this list on my experience as an actor working in a company of improvisers who are constantly called upon to provide a variety of accents to portray certain character types, often in a shorthand or caricatured fashion. (Warning: some of these might sound slightly racist or offensive, for which I apologise profusely, but this is just my thoughts on the way these accents are perceived and the associations they entail.)

  • TEXAS: redneck, racist, bible belt, oil tycoon
  • ALABAMA: inbreeding, banjo-playing
  • MINNESOTA: slightly kitschy, family oriented, slow-witted but big-hearted
  • BOSTON: slightly quirky (viz., every Tom Hanks character ever, even the ones not from Boston)
  • CHICAGO: 1930s gangster
  • BROOKLYN: wise guy (seldom distinguished from CHICAGO)
  • QUEENS: Fran Drescher
  • NEW YORK JEWISH: New York Jewish
  • GEORGIA, KENTUCKY: Southern Belle type, or wealthy bourbon drinker, depending on gender.
  • MAINE: Rural type. Possibly about to die horribly.

I think this is most of the ones I would hear being used on a semi-regular basis, apart from GENERICAN, which is the above mentioned pseudo-LA accent. Sometimes we will do entire scenes in GENERICAN for no particular reason (and to the consternation of the Artistic Director). Other times, we will do scenes in our natural New Zealand accents, and a GENERICAN-speaker will crop up. When this happens, they are usually either some kind of rich, successful, famous person, a shifty snake-oil merchant, or THE VILLAIN OMG, in much the same way that many American movies and TV shows seem to use generic (and often awful) English accents to indicate varying degrees of oafishness or perfidy.

Last year I was cast in Catch-22, and had 5 roles. The easiest place for me to start was to pick five different accents, but in case this is interesting:

  • CLEVINGER (cynical, agitated, resigned to his fate): Boston
  • TOWSER (office lackey): Minnesota
  • FIRST DOCTOR (neurotic, ambitious): New York
  • FIRST INVESTIGATING OFFICER (cold, manipulative, evil): Ostensibly Kentucky. Actually, kind of a cross between Christopher Walken and Brian Cox, if you can imagine that.
  • SECOND M.P. (blindly militaristic, mildly thuggish): Alabama (N.B. I think I had a total of two lines as this character, one of which was almost certainly "SIR, YES SIR")

To boldly lurch uncertainly

  • worried
  • Radiohead — All I Need

OK, so. This Star Trek movie thing: I have some questions.

and possibly spoilers, although this is all from IMDBCollapse )


  • consumed
  • Múm — Dancing Behind My Eyelids

If you are currently authoring what will become the four hundredth blog post to turn up in my Google Reader feed today about the new MacBooks (which, it must be said, are pretty damn sexy), kindly do me a favour and refrain from starting it with “just in case you missed it”. There have been so many posts about the announcement that the (ever-so-slightly-) latecomers have taken to prefixing their technogasmic outpourings with this most perfunctory of apologies: so ubiquitously, in fact, that a third wave has begun, in which the authors lament the proliferation of blog posts acknowledging the pervasiveness of other blog posts about Apple's shiny new offerings.

And I, gentle readers, am the surly surfer atop that third wave. Please, no more! Fill my consciousness instead with helpful hints, Papercraft Poes, or (at the very least) barely-literate kittens.

Only, please, no more MacBooks.

Thank you for your consideration.

Good times, good times

  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! — Satan Said Dance

Looking at this, and trying to think of an appropriate caption...

when you've seen the pictureCollapse )

Apologies to people who have no idea what I'm talking about. Maybe Karen, Robyn, Rebecca and Jeff will be the only people who truly appreciate the genius of such a witticism. Maybe not even them.

My very first actual dancing competition

  • rhythmic
  • Daft Punk — Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

So, in preparation for this journal piece, I was looking back over previous entries for all my whiny stressing and stressy whining about the South Island Street Salsa Championships, for which I have been strenuously preparing (at the rate of 10-15 hours per week) for the last three months or so. There wasn't actually all that much, although that perhaps belies the amount of nervous energy I've expended in the last few weeks: that has perhaps been more accurately and immediately chronicled on Facebook, the great magnet that inexorably drains my capacity for self-description in small, one-sentence chunks beginning with the phrase "Matt is".

Anyway, the competition was last night. Salient facts:

  • My dance partner, Lisa, and I, were competing against four other couples in the Under 1 Year Freestyle category.
  • We got second.
  • It was pretty rad.
  • Afterwards, there was lots of dancing and partying and general pleasantness. Then we went out for more dancing (because the place with the first dancing closed), and then, while I was asleep, someone beat me up and stole an hour, so that I woke up late, tired, sore, but quite happy, and with an honest-to-goodness silver medal to prove that it wasn't all just a dream.

    Photos on The Flickr and, of course, on Facebook.

    Back to class tomorrow to start finishing learning the routine we have to have down for the Christmas party in eight weeks or so.


    This comes around again

    • apprehensive
    • That would be telling
    • Put your music player on random.
    • Post the first line from the first 32 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.
    • Let everyone guess what song and artist the lines come from.
    • Bold the songs when someone guesses correctly.
    • Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING!

    Note: I have taken the liberty of removing instrumentals and mash-ups

    1. Sara (spelled without an H) was getting bored (Ben Folds, Zak and Sara: externalcombust)
    2. Stay away from me (Muse, City of Delusion: entomocephalous)
    3. Three: that's the magic number (De La Soul, The Magic Number: enidw)
    4. Are you such a dreamer? (Radiohead, 2+2=5, externalcombust)
    5. Something has to change (Tool, Stinkfist: externalcombust)
    6. Don't fret, precious, I'm here (A Perfect Circle, Pet: externalcombust)
    7. Girl! (Electric Six, Gay Bar: entomocephalous)
    8. I was born in a factory, far away from the milky teeth (Modest Mouse, Steam Engenious: jwm)
    9. Scared of a buncha water? Get outta the rain!
      Order a rapper for lunch and spit out the chains
    10. They all said she's just another groupie slut (Coyote Shivers, Sugar High: cactus_cat)
    11. How does it feel? (New Order, Blue Monday: jwm)
    12. Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten (Beastie Boys, Open Letter to NYC: starlajo)
    13. I feel like a quote out of context, withholding the rest (Ben Folds Five, Best Imitation of Myself: cactus_cat)
    14. We've got everything (Modest Mouse, We've Got Everything: jwm)
    15. Well, he shouted out his last word as he stumbled through the yard (Ben Folds Five, Fair: cactus_cat)
    16. War is overdue (Muse, Assassin: entomocephalous)
    17. They say that life ain't easy (Smashing Pumpkins, That's the Way (My Love Is): entomocephalous)
    18. It's bugging me, grating me (Muse, Hysteria: amarynth)
    19. Where do we go from here? (Radiohead, The Bends: externalcombust)
    20. Do you not hear me anymore? (Ben Folds Five, Battle of Who Could Care Less: genedecanter)
    21. In a falling dream, would you wake me up?
      Or just let me drop?
      (Strawpeople, Beautiful Skin: comikaze)
    22. I'm never coming back; I'm never giving in (Smashing Pumpkins, Fuck You (An Ode to No-One): entomocephalous)
    23. Beautiful girl, lovely dress (Gnarls Barkley, Gone Daddy Gone: anarchangel23)
    24. Girl! (The White Stripes, Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine: entomocephalous)
    25. If it's a bad day, you try to suffocate (Placebo, You Don't Care About Us: jwm)
    26. High above the mucky-muck (Tenacious D, Wonderboy: anarchangel23)
    27. She shone up bright like a knife (The Shins, Turn a Square: angmonster)
    28. Well, things get hectic quick (Beastie Boys, Remote Control: anarchangel23)
    29. Friends say it's fine (Placebo, 20th Century Boy: angmonster)
    30. Monkey play in the jungle
      Robot work in a factory
      They will have a giant rumble
    31. Panic on the streets of London (The Smiths, Panic: anarchangel23)
    32. In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey (Beck, Loser: anarchangel23)

    Didn't they see this coming?

    • weird
    • Hrtsa — Whip

    Normally I am confused by and distrustful of anything fiscal. This slideshow explaining the subprime mortgage crisis, however, has cleared a whole lot of things up.

    I am reading The Confusion at the moment, though, and although it has been long enough since I last read it (and, indeed, since the events it purports to describe) that I forget how it all turns out, it seems to me that this is exactly what Eliza was (fictionally) doing to Pontchartrain in the late 17th century. Which leads me to wonder:

    1. How much of that side of the story actually happened, in some form? and, if it's at least slightly true, then:
    2. Did they actually have three hundred years' warning about this? or, more likely:
    3. Is Neal Stephenson merely some kind of prescient fiscal genius?

    There is no real point to any of this. I am Just Saying It. And mentioning thick books and complicated financial transactions in the same post to make myself seem erudite.

    (It took me three goes to type "erudite".)

    Boy, unedited.

    • Muse vs The Killers — When You Were a Starlight
    Take a picture of yourself right now.
    Don’t change your clothes, don’t fix your hair...just take a picture.
    Post that picture with NO editing.
    Post these instructions with your picture.

    resultsCollapse )

    You wouldn't think they would go together.

    • Editors — All Sparks

    OK, question: how come Interpol and She Wants Revenge sound EXACTLY THE SAME, but there is no discernible connection?

    I am quite enjoying iTunes' new Genius feature. So far its guesses have been quite impressive, even if it doesn't seem to know about Two Lone Swordsmen. It does seem to be pulling up Juicebox by The Strokes at every available opportunity, but on the other hand, it also seems quite fond of Spaceman by Babylon Zoo, which is no bad thing. More edge-case testing needed.

    Things are ticking along. Very little new to report, except:

    • Salsa competition is now less than two weeks away, which is scary.
    • This week is our last week in the old office building, which is exciting.
    • I am (still, again) looking for a flatmate, which is annoying.
    • I am belatedly rediscovering Going Out With Friends, which is lots of fun.
    • I've had my new, as yet unnamed cocktail made for me in a couple of bars, and am playing with the proportions, which is SCIENTIFIC.

    Um. That is about it. But if you have any questions, I will answer them.


    This is how Spring starts

    This is how Spring starts.

    First, the rain stops. Abruptly, and without warning, you wake up one day in September to the feeling that you could survive the day without a jacket and a scarf. Always a feeling, though, never a certainty: Christchurch will always leave you guessing until about four minutes after you’ve definitely and irrevocably left the house.

    And there are daffodils everywhere. They spring up overnight, in little rectangles along the banks of the Avon, golden and optimistic. There are other flowers, naturally, but the daffodils are like a snowflake, a red-brown maple leaf, or a little stylised sun: they are Spring.

    Next, the dust. Also without warning, you find your car, your driveway, your outdoor furniture covered in a very fine, very pale green powder. This is Christchurch: the “Garden City” (even officially so, apart from a brief period a few years ago when the City Council went mad and changed the city’s motto to something ridiculous and forgettable). The trees, which have been holding their breath since March, finally let go a sigh of relief and shower the city in pollen. In Spring, at least, Christchurch can always bring a tear to your eye, even if that tear is the precursor of two months of itching and sneezing.

    And then, once the mild weather and lengthening evenings have lulled you into a false sense of security, the rain starts again. And so, once again, you wake up, and Spring has changed the city. The rain has found the pollen, and the tiles and cracks in the footpaths are limned with a luminous green paste that eddies sluggishly in the gutters but refuses to wash away.

    Spring is suddenly, obstinately, damply here.