Personal Pieces postsFriday June 22, 2018
A Response to a Request
Here's another tale of modern living.
Last month I received several copies of the same letter from our mortgage company. It began:
Thank you for responding to our request for proof of a current hazard insurance policy on your property. Please note that your acccount has not been charged for any lender-placed hazard insurance.
Well, thank god for that. But wait: Who responded to whose request for what? I didn't respond to any request. I didn't even get a request.
There was a phone number to call. Do I call it? Was it a scam to get me to buy insurance? I wound up tossing it in that pile of stuff I should do something about one day but never do. But yesterday I received another such letter—my fourth—and said fuck it and called.
This was not our original mortgage company, by the way. When we refinanced in 2016, we shopped around and went with a local bank. They had an office nearby in case we had questions. We could walk in. We could see people. But last year, less than a year after the refinance, the local bank sold our mortgage to an outfit in Irvine, Ca.: a loan management service. Sometimes they call themselves “debt collectors.” They often feel slightly off or cut-rate to me. I get the feeling there's just executives and drones and that's it—no middle people doing real work.
I also wonder what other services get to do this besides mortgage banks. Can a gym sell your membership to another gym? “No, sorry, you work out across town now. You work out in Irvine, Ca.” Can your bank sell your savings account to another bank? Why is it allowed with the most important thing you own?
Anyway, the phone call. That letter thanking me for responding to their request for proof of insurance? That was the request. They were asking for proof of insurance. Read it again. It's the worst ask I‘ve ever read.
Oh, and guess why they wanted to know? Because, they said, our previous insurance policy had expired. Except it hadn’t. What they thought was our insurance company wasn‘t, and hadn’t been for years.
Meanwhile, the correct insurance company didn't respond to their subsequent request for information since they had a different mortgage lender on our policy. And not the local one either. The one before that. So I spent a long afternoon sorting shit out.
- There's a lot of bad data floating around, like garbage orbiting the earth, that may one day cause havoc with everything.
- Write clearer sentences.
I think the metadata on me floating around between corporations and their handers is screwed up in some fashion. Everyone I know says when you hit 50, when you immediately hit 50, you begin to get AARP magazine. Or you get some notice from AARP. They reel you in, in other words. I'm 55 (and a half) and I haven't gotten bupkis from them. I almost feel bad about it.
I was hoping it was because I looked young, but today I got some spam snail-mail from Neptune Society that puts that to rest. Literally:
Time passes so quickly. Before you know it, a year has passed, then two. You start thinking about all those things you should do, but haven‘t. Take the time now to make an affordable, sensible choice. Cremation is dignified, inexpensive and has less impact on our environment.
I’ve passed retirement and gone straight to death.
Still practicing my Chinese—slowly but way not-so-surely—and was working on gei or “to give.” Wo gei ni kahn, etc. This is that character:
Oddly, though, every time I'd begin, rather than a straight line under the radical, the part on the left, I'd add three vertical dashes. I did that like three or four times, again and again, chastising myself all the while. “Where did that come from?” I wondered.
It came from the past. It came from muscle memory. Because that's how the traditional character, which I learned 30 years ago, is written:
I do think China screwed up a lot of characters when they simplified. For example: This is ur, or “son,” first as traditional and then as simplified:
兒 vs. 儿
The traditonal always reminded me of a wobbly-headed kid on splindly legs. That's how I always remembered it. It looks like what it is, and it's kinda cute. Don't know what to make of the simplfied version. Just legs? Like spider legs? I'm getting nothing here.
They also butchered dong, or “east”:
東 vs. 东
The first is a rising sun, which, you know, makes sense. The second is ... what ... the Fantastic Four signal? I‘ve got no clue. It’s lopsided, too. I hate writing that character.
I know: Who am I to criticize. 我是什么东西？
In the new session of my weekly Chinese class at the downtown Seattle library, our teacher asked for volunteers to present on one of three topics, and I went with the “My Hobby” option. “Hobby,” I quickly learned, is translated as two familiar characters: 爱好. love/good.
In Taiwan, 30 years ago, I learned traditional characters, and now I'm learning the simplified versions, and this was the first time I'd noticed the difference in “love.”
This is the traditional Chinese character for love: 愛.
And this is the modern simplified version:爱
It may be tough to see the difference, but here it is: They took out 心.
What's that? Xin. It means heart. That's right. To simplify “love,” they took out “heart.” Not sure who was on that committee, but, as we say today, the optics aren't good.
My presentation is below. It's about movie box office, particularly Chinese movie box office—a topic that was way too difficult given my level. Put another way: You have no idea how much work went into sounding this stupid.
China is about to become the world's biggest movie market.
我也写电影评论 。十五年以前，我给西雅图时报写过。 现在，我用我的博客。
今年, 我听说, 中国票房比美国票房大。
- 一一 (Edward Yang)
- 饮食男女 (Ang Lee)
- 警察故事,第一，二， 三 (Jackie Chan)
- 功夫（Stephen Chow： 在美国是“Kung Fu Hustle”）
- 巴尔扎克与小裁缝：Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Not Brand ECCC: 2018
No, honey, not Betty Page.
Last weekend I did something I hadn't done for six years—and before that, whoosh, decades. I attended a comic convention. Specifically, the Emerald City Comic Con 2018. ECCC to friends.
Speaking of: I went stag, which is a bad way to go—although it does make it easier making it through crowds. It also helped that I wasn't in any hurry. Plus I'm still thin enough to—apologies, sorry, my bad—squeeze through when necessary.
My goal again was the comic resellers in the far back of the main room—the whole point of the comic convention when I was a kid, and now an afterthought. I‘ve been reading a book, “Take That, Adolf!” about WWII-era superheroes who, on their various covers, deck Hitler (Captain America) or choke him out (Cat-Man), and I was curious if there were more books about same, or, ideally, not exorbitant copies of originals. Not the popular ones, mind you (I’m a working man), but heroes who didn't last long: Uncle Sam, Steel Sterling, The Shield. How much does a Shock Gibson go for these days? I was curious.
I remain curious. There was one table that laid out their Golden Age comics in easy-to-rifle-through fashion, even as I was extra careful in doing so. These things were almost as old as my father, after all; they had made it through so much just to get here. Some, shockingly, were affordable—i.e., less than $250. I kept thinking, “Hey, I could buy this!” And I kept having to rein in that thought. Because ... to what end? I don't collect. When I was young I had the desire but not the money; now I have the money but not the desire. Well, not an overwhelming desire, but there's something there. Just holding a copy of Action Comics #28 was thrilling. Just the smell of old comics took me back. It's my madeleine.
At one point, thinking practically (i.e., relating it to my day job), I asked after copies of “Betty Bates, Lady at Law.” Ever since I found out about her, about 10 years ago, I‘ve been intrigued that she became a comic-book character at a time when women were, what, two percent of law school grads? And probably less of practicing lawyers? And probably less of comic-book characters? The guys at the Golden Age stand nodded and directed me to another seller, where, they said, they’d seen such a copy. But when I arrived, I didn't see any “Betty Bates”; I saw “Betty Page.” Had I been misunderstood? I asked again. And again, they thought I said “Betty Page.” When I clarified, they exchanged glances and eyed me dubiously, then looked her up in their comic-book catalog. Bupkis, as they'd suspected. I got a “Check yer facts, kid,” look, to which I nodded. I should‘ve checked my facts. She existed, she just never had her own comic. She was always part of “Hit” Comics. (And now a book is available that collects all over her old comics in one place; I might have to get it.)
It wasn’t a bad few hours. I checked out the wares, checked out the cosplay. On some level, these should be my people, fellow nerds, but I feel like an interloper now. This thing that used to be just skinny nerds and overweight resellers has been turned it into a party, a real party, and I'm late to it. I'm late to a party I left early.
If you can't have fun with Deadpool...
Always bet on “Game of Death” yellow.
Harry Potter and the Knight of Dark. Dude even nails Adam West's self-important smile.
This guy caused a sensation. No disturbing lack of faith here.