Yes, I know it was yesterday, but I’m certainly not going to call it Superbowl linkdump.
The New York Times has a great article about Gérard de Villiers, a French writer of pulpy spy novels, which happen to be oddly predictive of real events due to Mr. de Villiers’ extensive contacts in the international intelligence scene. Found via the Passive Voice.
Also at the New York Times, there is an opinion piece about the treachery of translators by writer and occasional French-English translator Andy Martin. As a translator myself, I find Mr Martin a bit too flippant (e.g. it shouldn’t have been too difficult to find out the English names of the dozens of fish in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea), since I always try to match the spirit of the original as closely as possible. Of course, you sometimes have to make changes and adaptions for a different culture, though I usually consult with the author whenever possible. I can certainly understand why the Dutch translator skipped the porridge line, since it would almost certainly not have worked (for starters, cause the Dutch don’t eat porridge). I had a similar problem with grits once – myself and another translator discussed at great length how to translate it and finally decided that it didn’t really matter, since Germans don’t eat grits. As for tightening excessive verbiage, I’m probably guilty of that one, since I once translated a contract from a muslim country which began with “In the name of Allah, the great and merciful and glorious…” – well, it went on like that for a while. I quickly ran out of new synonyms for “great” and finally decided to tighten the whole preamble to three adjectives, because my customer was not muslim and less interested in the glory of Allah than the terms of the contract.
Lynn Viehl at Paperback Writer has a nice post about using vintage diaries and other personal documents as story material. Germany biggest archive of diaries, letters and other personal documents is not far from where I live and of course it was founded by a writer who used it for research.
The Atlantic and iO9 both offer their appreciation of pulp cover artist Margaret Brundage. I’d love her to do some of my covers. Though it’s pretty sad that iO9 labels Margaret Brundage’s art as “potentially not safe for work”. I mean, really? Seventy to eighty year old art is considered “not safe for work” these days. What’s next? Michelangelo’s David, “not safe for work”? That said, I’ve never understood the idea behind the “not safe for work” label. I assume that everybody has enough sense not to surf porn sites at work, so why is there a need for warnings regarding perfectly harmless content like vintage pulp covers?
British archaeologists have dug up a skeleton in a car park in Leicester, which may well be the remains of Richard III. I love the Guardian headline about “the skeleton who would be king”.
In the past few days, Germany has experienced one of the more bizarre crimes of the 21st century. It all started when a gilded butter cookie was stolen from the facade of the headquarters of the Bahlsen company, manufacturer of pastries and biscuits including the iconic Leibniz Butter Cookie, in Hannover. At first, vandals or metal thieves were suspected, but then a newspaper received a ransom note from none other than Cookie Monster of Sesame Street fame, including a photo of Cookie Monster or someone claiming to be him, biting into the golden cookie. The ransom demand was a load of Leibniz butter cookies – the good ones with milk chocolate, not the plain ones and not the ones with “that icky dark chocolate” – to be supplied to the children’s ward of a Hannover hospital. At the moment, no one is sure whether this is the work of a prankster or an elaborate publicity stunt by the Bahlsen company. Spiegel Online and The Independent also report.
Finally, here are some photos and videos of Bremen Samba Carnival, which took place this weekend and is allegedly the biggest event of its kind (i.e. a specifically Caribbean/Latin American themed carnival, since German carnival normally tends to be very different) in Germany. Since the Samba Carneval is as much political demonstration as festival, this year’s theme was fair trade.