ZIP Beep #7
Cameras, videocassette recorders, cars, and now computers are
coming under the influence of Taiwanese English.
Taiwanese English is that dialect with the ability to obscure or
add a second meaning to product instructions, usually in a
Taiwanese writers are not responsible for all Taiwanese English.
Some of the best examples come from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, as
well as non-oriental sources like Germany, Scandanavia and Latin
You've probably chuckled over your share of Taiwanese English
phrases. Use the CorkBoard to tell us about them. For now, here
are a few memorable examples to jar your memory.
A plastic "Magic Spider" that slowly crawls down walls came from
Taiwan with these instructions: "Throw the SPIDER against the
glass of window or every smooth area of wall, it will crawl down.
PLEASE WASH WITH WATER OR SOAP IN CASE OF GETTING DIRTY." A
"CREEPY CRAWLY SCORPION" of the same variety had these
instructions: "Throw him to a window-glass. He will stick on the
glass and he will squiggle down the window slowly with funny
movements. If he does not stick well, wash him with mild soap.
Hold under running rap then pat dry with cloth, before use."
A handbag advertising a feminine hygene product in Puerto Rico's
International Airport proudly stated that the product made women
feel "only a little safer!"
A JVC turntable came with a tag on a screw used to stablize the
platten during transport. The tag said: "Remove this screw
without any fail!"
Taiwan was also responsible for the "Super-Speed MICRO ZOOMERS"
race car set. The cars contained mainsprings that could be wound
up by rolling the car back and forth before letting it loose.
The instructions said: "1. THE WAY OF ASSEMBLING TRACKS"
(followed by an illustration), "2. THE WAY OF OPERATING CARS:
PRESS THE CAR ON TRACK, MOVING IT FORTH AND BACK UP TO HEARING
"KUH KUH", THEN LOOSE. THE CAR WILL RUN IN HIGH SPEED ON TRACK."
This was also followed by an illustration, as was: "3.CAUTION
Because the plastic bands with static electricity absorb dust on
wheels and tracks, you will find out the wheels running with
lower speed. If so, please clean the dust as per the following
way: Please wipe the wheels with clean dry cloth. Please wipe
the tracks with clean dry cloth."
And just to show that there is a version of Taiwanese English
that is native to the USA, the company that made "Big John"
sandwich spread a few years back were interested in marketing it
to the French-speaking population of Montreal. When they renamed
the product "Gros Jacques," they didn't know it had a secondary
meaning that was a rather crude synonym for Large Mammary Glands.
Interestingly enough, the Grand Teton mountains were named after
the same subject by a Frenchman who was aware of the visual pun.
This is not an example of Taiwanese English. But your knowledge
of this fact might impress your geography teacher ....
ZIP Beep #7
GERRY'S BACK, AND OUT FOR BLOOD!
reported by Steve Anderson
In an unprecedented move Geraldine Ferraro has agreed in
principle to appear in a cage match at the St. Paul Civic Center
early this April. Although no opponent has been announced, word
has leaked out that it would be a "Jean Kirkpatrick type". This
rumor has been fueled by Kirkpatrick's recent resignation from
her post in the Reagan administration, as well as the natural
match between a feisty youngster on the way up and a hardboiled
veteran on the way out.
Ferraro followers cite the former Congresswoman's insatiable
thirst for the limelight as reason for her questionable new
venture. Others insist that it was pop singing star Cindi Lauper
who urged Ferraro to enter the squared circle as a forum for her
political views and as a springboard for future campaigns.
Undoubtedly Ms. Ferraro will be well prepared for the rough and
tumble action of the cage after coming from the Bronx and being
handled by "Honest" John Zaccaro.
Oddsmakers have installed the "Bronx Bombshell" as early
favorite but this is an early line designed to pull in some right
wing money. When contacted at his exclusive North Oaks estate,
Walter Mondale wasted no time in lauding Ferraro's latest
maneuver as an historic one but quashed any notion of possible
tag-team involvement. "Once is enough," he told reporters.
ZIP Beep #7
A GUIDE TO NEW NAMES FOR OLD PLACES
Minnesota? Oh, no. It's not Minnesota. It's the heart of the
Silicon Prairie. Other regions are devoting their identities to
the great glassy god. Some businesses in Omaha believe they
operate out of the Silicon Cornfield. Houston thinks it's the
Silicon Oilfield. A Fargo/Moorhead business says it's in the
Silicon Wheatfield. And we all know where the Silicon Valley is.
No doubt about it. Gotta have a Silicon name to get those high
tech bucks into the area. In our never ending efforts to help,
even when it's unnecessary, ZIP Beep suggests the following
ST. JOSEPH, MO: The Silicon Stockyard
NEVADA: The Federal Silicon Reserve
NY CITY: The Silicon Jungle
VERMONT: The Silicon Maple Syrup Tree
FLORIDA: The Silicon Citrus Grove
ALASKA: The Silicon Ice Field
NEBRASKA: The Silicon Interstate
HAWAII: The Silicon Surf
MAUI: The Silicon Silly Land
DETROIT: The Silicon Breadline
ATLANTA: The Silicon Land of Almighty Turner
NEW MEXICO/ARIZONA/WEST TEXAS: The Silicon Desert
IDAHO: The Silicon Spudland
WEST VIRGINIA: The Silicon Illiteracy Zone
MILWAUKEE: The Silicon Brewery
WASHINGTON (STATE): The Silicon Ciderkeg
WASHINGTON, DC: The Silicon Gasbag
KANSAS: The Silicon Sunflower Field
HUMBOLT COUNTY, CA: Same as Maui
PITTSBURG: The Silicon Steel Mill
QUEBEC: Silicon Frogland
MAINE: The Silicon Forest
OREGON: The Other Silicon Forest
NEW JERSEY: The Silicon Turnpike
HOLLYWOOD: The Celluloid Silicon Land
BEVERLY HILLS: The Silicone Valley
CAPE CANAVERAL: The Silicon Nosecone
ARKANSAS: The Silicon Hills
MONTANA: The Silicon Sky
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Silicon Lotusland
GUAM: The Silicon Outpost
FORT KNOX: The Silicon Goldmine
SALT LAKE CITY: The Silicon Theme Park
COLORADO: The Silicon Mountains
THE PHILLIPINES: The Silicon Puppet Theater
ZIP Beep #7
DUDLEY RIGS INTERVIEW - Part III
Dudley Riggs concludes his ZIP Beep interview with thoughts on
some Brave New Workshop alumni, Cuba, and other matters.
(Parts I and II can be found in ZIP Beep #5 and ZIP Beep #6.)
Z: So anyway, you're saying that it's just splitting hairs to
say where any of this started.
D: Yeah, I had a talk with Bernie Sahlins at Second City, and
all of a sudden they're at their 25th year this year. And it's a
year or 2 behind when we said 25 years. But I don't know that it
means a heck of a lot. We could certainly be the oldest and
still not be as well known and, uh . . . well, it's sort of the
wrong direction to push it. The other obvious suggestion is that
if some of these things go on forever -- and I not sure that
should be true -- the fact that we change as much as we do helps
keep us from getting stale. I mean, there are some areas we
don't change. But in terms of the content of the show, it's real
easy to get involved doing 8 or 9 shows per week and not pay any
attention to what's going on in a show. And after you do 15
weeks of a run, you know, and suddenly you're satirizing
something that Doonesbury's doing a better job satirizing. Or
maybe you're kicking a dead horse. My principal job is trying to
keep the company away from doing lame ducks. You know, we have
to justify the enemy every time. That's the hardest part.
Z: I've heard you say that Brave New Workshop seems to turn out
writers more than actors.
D: Well, I think it could be that, for one thing, so much is
done communally in terms of the development of material that you
don't develop, and you don't have, that kind of a star system.
You know, where somebody clearly is more important in the cast.
Everyone in the cast is pretty balanced in their importance. And
they contribute pretty equally. So, I think that serves as a
kind of a built-in governor, if you will, on the runaway ego
kinds of situations. Now, we still occasionally get somebody who
reads a review that singles them out as just being wonderful.
And they'll just tailspin right off. They'll lose their
perspective easily. Suddenly they're getting very positive
strokes, and some of them will buy it. Most of them don't. And
that's one of the reasons why the people who leave the workshop
and go to LA and are real successful are the ones who avoid
Hollywood Brain. Because they were here long enough to pay their
dues and really learn their business. The movies "Police
Academy" and "Bachelor Party," both of which were aimed at a
young audience last summer, were written by Pat Proft and Niel
Israel. Pat Proft did 11 years with us. Now, you take someone
like Proft. He has done those Sunday matenees when 10 people
show up. Or less. And he has done the midnight show the night
before. And he has done 10 shows per week. And he's gone
touring on the off days. And he's gone months and months without
getting time off and worked all those audiences. And those
audiences are where you learn. So usually what happens is they
know their stuff. Where a lot of the people who come more from
the acting side hit Hollywood wanting to be actors and they bite
the Hollywood Apple and stay that way. I think most of these
guys who are the most successful now are really down-to-earth
sensible guys who have tried mightily not to go crazy with "Gotta
get a new pool! Gotta get a new sauna! Gotta get a new
Mercedes." Where do we contribute to that? Well, one of the
ways is that we're up in the sticks, essentially -- we're out of
the mainstream of the casting agents. They don't come through
here every Friday night like they do at the Improvisation in Los
Angeles. So somebody can come here and work for a few weeks
before they're discovered. A lot of people get discovered much
too early. Somebody discovers them for some little small part of
their talent and exploits that. And when that's all used up,
there's nothing to fall back on.
Z: Shall we make this the only interview you've done in quite a while where you were not asked to talk about Franken & Davis?
D: (Laughs) That's just fine.
Z: It's only because their tenure with Saturday Night Live made
them the most visible Brave New Workshop alumni.
D: Yeah. Those guys are, uh, let's see, what can I say about
those guys? Well . . . deep down, they're shallow.
Z: You want us to print that?
D: (Laughs) No, they're good friends.
Z: Well, we'll print that, too.
D: They're good friends. BUT -- deep down, they're shallow.
Z: Who are some of the other people ZIP Beep readers might
recognize who have gone through the Brave New Workshop?
D: Well, Carl Lumbley on Cagney & Lacey, Annie Reirson on
Private Benjamin. Those are people who are in front of the
camera. All of these people like McManus, Proft, Tom Sherohman
they all get work in front of the camera, too. It's just that
their principle predictible earnings are coming from writing. To
some extent, out of that whole Minnesota Mafia, just about
everybody is making a living. Some are making very good livings.
Some are getting wealthy. We don't have very many hardship cases
out there. Some go east, including Tom and Al, of course, and
Peter Tolens more recently. But for the most part the folks who
leave here go west. Peter is more of a stage writer. But by the
time many of the people leave here, they've taken a couple of
film writing courses at Film In The Cities. Some of them will
even have written a couple of little mini films for me. That's
one of the side benefits of the workshop. If you want to do
film, you can do little ideas within our little budget. So I
think, for the most part, the fact that people are not highly
visible in Minnesota tends to slow down their careers. But that
might be beneficial to most of their careers. Because they don't
go rushing headlong into that Vegematic.
Z: The company used to tour to some unusual places, like Cuba.
D: Yeah. Well, I didn't go to Cuba. I couldn't get security
clearance (laughs). No, basically, our touring company isn't
very active this year. They did Morocco one year, Cuba another
year, and I think Caracas and some island states another time.
They went to Alaska for the U. S. Government. They went to the
Aleutian Island outpost somewhere out in the middle of the frozen
wasteland. But that is kind of dormant for the moment. We
discovered that everytime a touring company came back from an
extended tour, the company would want to dissolve. Because the
travel was pretty rough. A couple of our members joined the
Peace Corps as a result.
Z: Did the company set out for Cuba thinking they would have to
do things a little bit differently there?
D: No, the conditions were . . . well, obviously we were trusted
by the State Department to not create an incident, but the comedy
of that particular tour had a sketch called The History Of The
United States In 5 Minutes. It was a physicialization, almost a
rhythm poem, of the discovery of America right up to date. Each
used the most Spartan symbols, so that a famous character would
be established by his tone of voice and by something he said, but
it would be only part of what he said. "Ask not what your."
That's about as far as you have to go. So those things were very
suitable. It's somewhat self-satirical of the United States.
And at the same time, the show was pretty much down on war in
general and was pretty much for all the good things. Virtually
any audience will sit still for you doing all the good things.
So unless you get to the point where you're trying to do as the
Democrats were just trying to do with Reagan, well, obviously the
audience didn't sit still for that because they voted for Reagan.
But the thing is, if you overamplify, the audience will turn on
you anyway. So the secret of making a good political satiric
pitch is to go right to the edge of something and let them take
the other step in their minds. When you have a language barrier,
that's almost easier because you refine it down to very visual
terms, and short phrases.
Z: What's running in the theaters now?
D: Well, we are just opening something which is called "Time Is
On My Side, I'm Having It Removed." Basically, that show is
about time and time travel, and attitudes about time. A lot of
time travel, going both directions. That's playing at the
Hennepin theater Tuesday through Saturday. At the Etc. we have
something that's called "What's so funny about being female?"
It's an all-woman show with a feminist perspective.
Z: And tickets are reasonably priced, I'm sure.
D: Yes they are.
Z: Any kid with a video game budget can get in.
D: Generally speaking, we have always tried to price tickets so
they're slightly higher than a movie. For the most part, we were
able to succeed in that when movies were $3 and we were $4. That
worked out nice. But as it's slid along, inflation has caught up
with us, but it's still half the expense of going to the Guthrie.
Z: Thanks very much for your time. If any ZIP Beep readers want
more information on tickets and shows, they can leave a message
on the Corkboard, Humor Catagory. Or they can call CBC during
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