Wednesday, April 29, 2015

'Bleisure' portmanteau makes for strange bedfellows

'Bleisure' portmanteau makes for strange bedfellows

San Diego Jewish World humour column

"'Bleisure'? Blah!" -

by ''Leinad Moolb''
BLEISURING in DUBAI -- I am not a connoisseur of words by any means, and my working vocabulary is actually quite limited, but everyone once in while as I navigate the internet, I come across new words and terms that give portmanteau words their money's worth.
Case in point: "bleisure," a portmanteau combination word created by putting ''business'' and ''leisure'' into the word blender. I saw the word in a newspaper headline the other day in an English-language newspaper here in Taiwan, where an Associated Press wire service editor used it in a headline about a travel story about tourist spots in Dubai.
The author of the AP article, Aya Batwary, had the good sense *not* to use the ''bleisure" term in her text at all, and never used it at all in her story, *but* one of her supervising editors in New York decided to stick it to readers in the headline I guess.
When I emailed Batwary in Dubai to ask her about this new ungodly portmanteau -- and ''a terrible neologism',' as the Economist magazine in London has called it -- she replied 10 minutes later in internet time: "Hey, take it up with the AP travel editor."
So I did. I am still waiting for the travel editor's reply --  Beth, I think her name is, Beth Harpaz. ***[UPDATE: She did reply to me, two angry emails, in fact! Oops!]
Here's some background  in this portmanfail brouhaha.
The headline in a recent Taipei Times wire story read: "Blissful 'bleisure' - travelers to Dubai are combining business with leisure and soaking up the sun and souq."
And notice that the word "bleisure" was in quotes in the Taipei Times headline, in order to signify to readers that the term was not a real word and was being used with scare quotes surrounding it.

The worldly Yiddish word maven and former New York Times "On Language" columnist Wiliiam Safire -- l'z -- knew a thing or two about how some portmanteau words fly and how some fail, so I decided to channel the Bill Safire spirit and get his take on this "bleisure" nonsense.

Back in the day, I used to be one of Safire's ''Lexographic irregulars," a group of readers who looked up to him for advice and comment, and he even quoted one of my letters to him as part a book he wrote long ago.
When I asked Safire about the misery of a portmanteau fail, by channeling his revered spirit from my home in Taiwan, he replied: "As you know, Dan, portmanteau terms are named after the French suitcase with hinged compartments -- chuckle and snort blended into chortle, breakfast and lunch fused into brunch, and, in our time, broadcast and the World Wide Web morphed into webcast (still capitalized as “Webcast” by the New York Times copy czar)."

I asked Safire what he thought of this hotel and travel industry portmanteau -- "bleisure" -- blending business and leisure into an awkward, ugly, weird new term, he replied: "Some portmanteau words work and work brilliantly, but others fail miserably and fall down hard."
There's more. An editorial writer for the Economist started off an article earlier this year:
"How's this for a terrible neologism: 'bleisure'. It is used to describe what some people claim is a new type of business traveller: one who fits in leisure travel while on the road."
As I surveyed a new generation of Lexographic Irregulars for this column, I received mostly a thumbs down response for "bleisure," even though if you Google it, you will see that it has caught on already with the hotel industry and most likely cannot be stopped now.
"I don’t have time for bleisure when I bravel," quipped a reporter in New York.

"If it's not the worst portmanteau of 2015, at least it's pretty bad," tweeted a Manhattan word maven.
But a hotel industry blog that bills itself as ''insights for the new travel industry professional; get smart about how and why you travel,'' likes the new word and used in a tweet the other day.

​"How could 'personalization' play a key role in bringing 'bleisure' to life?" the Tweet asked the blog's 800,000 Twitter "followers.
"Ever met a 'blurker'?" the spirit of William Safire asked me as this San Diego Jewish World humor column was coming to a close. "That’s boosted from lurker, 'someone who reads a forum conversation but doesn’t contribute,' and in a blargon portmanteau means 'one who reads many blogs but leaves no evidence of himself behind.'''
So what's your take on "bleisure" as a new portmanteau term, dear readers? Does it work for you? Is it a roaring success that will live on for decades in the hotel industry or is it a huge ''portmanfail,'' as some bloggers are already dubbing it.
Me, I'm voting it off the Dubai man-made islands. But what do I know?


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[PDF]The Bleisure Report, 2014 (pdf) - Skift

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翻譯這個網頁2015年3月19日 - HOW'S this for a terrible neologism: “bleisure”. It is a portmanteau of business and leisure, and is used to describe what some people claim is a ...
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Targeting 'bleisure' business - Hotel News Now

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Bleisure: For Dubai Biz Travelers, Soak up the Sun and Souq › Travel - 翻譯這個網頁
6 天前 - Travel-Trip-Bleisure Bits-Dubai. Tourists and visitors watch and take photos of the Dubai Fountain in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, ...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Eskimo actor makes 'cli-fi' debut in ''CHLOE AND THEO''

Eskimo actor makes 'cli-fi' debut in "Chloe and Theo" - Film is nominated for best movie, best actor, best actress, best screenplay and best director in the upcoming 2015 CLI FI MOVIE AWARDS in Hollywood (see:
by staff writer and agencies
NEW YORK, IN FRONT OF THE UN BUILDING -- Take an engaging and photogenic Inuit man from Canada and put him a 'cli-fi dramatic comedy' that aims to serve as a warning flare about possible global wamring impacts in the far north, and you've got a winner by Hollywood standards.
Meet Theo Ikummaq, the Inuit man who plays himself in the movie that is sure to touch millions. Fans are already talking about the film on social media and will soon be lining up to see it when opens this summer.
"Chloe and Theo"is about a man who comes to New York to try to persade the United Nations to do something about global warming before it wipes his people's homes in the far north off the map. Oh, and Dakota Johnson ["50 Shades of Gray"] co-stars are a young woman who wants to help him.
It's a serious movie, with a cli-fi theme and cli-fi message, but it's also billed as a comedy, too. There's some heavy dialogue, some good comic lines, and it's a tear-jerker that will not only touch your heart but may very goad you into action.
At a recent screening of the movie at World Bank function in Washington, Marty Katz, the founder and president of Prospero Pictures and the producer of "Hotel Rwanda," sat in on a panel discussion about the power of cinema to connect with people over serious issues.

Wagner then asked Katz, producer of the award-winning, historical film Hotel Rwanda, to talk about “what is the essence of film that enables one to create these connections and render such powerful responses and can this be applied to the subject of climate change?”

When asked to talk about how a movie like "Chloe and Theo" might connect with viewers on the pressing issue of global warming, the Canadian film maven responded by asking a few questions himself, according to a transcript of the World Bank event.

''Can film be an agent for social change? Can the arts be an agent for social change? Can anything but the arts be an agent for social change?" Katz asked. "I can’t think of how to change people’s perception or behavior except for the arts. That’s why governments who don’t want people’s behavior to be changed sensor the arts."

"I think that film can be a catalyst for those who can be social agents who can affect change in the world and I think that’s a great thing," Katz said.
Later, he tweeted and I saw this on his Twitter feed:

Like "Games of Thrones," this Enza Sands-directed movie is the latest in an expanding genre of films, novels and TV shows that touch on the genre of climate-change fiction, or "cli-fi."
While climate change can be a scary and overwhelmingly difficult topic that people want to avoid, as Manjana Milkoreit at Arizona State University has blogged, storytelling in movies like "Chloe and Theo" can bring the harsh realities of climate change home to world audiences -- and world leaders!

movie is a keeper. Will it score at the box office? Will it wake people up? Two questions that only time can answer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hola! These Spanish guys in GAS really sing in Chinese in Barcelona


blog post by Dan Bloom

Taiwan -- April 14, 2014 -- Take 6 fun-loving Spanish guys in a homegrown band in Barcelona,

add some lyrics in Chinese to their repertoire, and voila, you've got GAS.

Jordi Riba is the only one who speaks Chinese fluently. He

has studied Chinese at a language school in Spain and does the
translations of the original Spanish lyrics. He also teaches English
and Chinese to kids in his town, as his day job.
To create songs with Chinese lyrics, Jordi transposes the words from

Spanish into a new set of lyrics in roman letters and the band members
sing from those music sheets, according to Salvador Mas, who composes the melodies.

The original lyrics to one of their songs, titled "The Eternal Freshman"
(远的初学者), start off: "Abro los ojos hoy en un lugar que desconozco,
Me lanzaré de nuevo a la vida" (I open my eyes today in a place I
don't know, and I throw myself again into life).
Riba freely translated the lyrics into
Chinese pinyin for the band's music sheet, not word for word, but to
catch the gist or feeling of the words, as: as "wǒ zài yī gè xīn de
dìfāng wǒhěn xiǎng tànsuǒ, nà er yǒu yī xiē xīn de héliú wǒ xiǎng
chàngyóu" (我在一个新的地方我很想探索, 那儿有一些新的河流我想畅游).
"The meaning of that song is about the human desire to find or do something new
every day," Mas told the Taipei Times in a recent email interview. "We wanted to
talk about discovering new things and not being bored in a boring
office job or something every day. Try to change your life to make

your dreams come true, despite of the risk of change."

The band members -- Salvador Mas on guitar, Guillem Oms on guitar,
Jordi Riba as the main vocalist, Marcel Batalle on drums, Oriol
Serrano on keyboard, and
Pepe Zamora on bass --
hatched this dream of singing in Chinese a few years ago, and they
hope to get some gigs in Taiwan and China, if luck is with them and
they catch the attention of music promoters or festival organizers

So far they've played more that 20 gigs in Barcelona and Madrid with Chinese lyrics for the Confucius Institute , the Tranlation University and some Chinese New Year parties.
The band plays on.

"There were Taiwanese people in the audience then, and there were also
people from Hong Kong and China," Mas said. "The reaction was
positive, so we want to keep our dream alive."
The bandmates are not about the quit their day jobs anytime soon, but
they plan to keep plugging their dream of performing in Chinese in
Chinese-speaking countries like Taiwan or China.
To make ends meet and
earn a living, the six men in their 30s work at a variety of jobs, Mas
"Jordi teaches English and Chinese to kids here, Pepe is a
sociologist, Guillem is a street musician, Oriol works as a soud
engineer for a music studio, Marcel teaches percussion at a music
school and has a side gig repairing drums, and I am an economist," Mas

When asked how this concept began, Mas said that a good friend came to one of their rehearsal sessions and asked Riba to translate one of their new Spanish songs into Chinese.
Jordi, who has

studied Chinese and teaches it to children in Barcelona, had the idea
one day during a practice session to try to translate some of the
band's original lyrics, which they normally sing in Spanish, into
Chinese and see if they could sing some songs in a foreign language,
just for fun, as a kind of musical experiment.
"We were amazed at the results of the translation, and we liked the
way Chinese words sound when sung, with their tone and melodious
qualities, so we decided to go for it and try to make this project
work," Mas said.
When asked what the band's name means, Mas didn't miss a beat.
"Well, we took the name from the lyrics of a Rolling Stones song,
'Jumping Jack Flash,' you know -- 'I was born in a cross-fire hurricane,
And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right. I'm Jumpin Jack Flash,
It's a gas! gas! gas!'
-- and we all
thought it was funny. And yes we capitalize the name, all three
For Josh Edbrooke of the British band Transition, which spent time in Taiwan a few years ago and sings some of their in Chinese, too, GAS is worth watching since they care enough about Chinese lyrics to want to create music and songs in that language, he told this reporter.

"My advice to GAS would be to immerse themselves in as much Chinese culture as they can, and not just language," he said. "Food, films, and of course, music will help to enrich their musical style as well as lyrics."

"Back before any Transition members could speak much Chinese, we went to the Spring Scream festival in south Taiwan," he said. "We were inspired by the other bands and the whole indie music scene in Taiwan and this influenced our music a lot, even before we started to write songs in Chinese.
I'd really recommend GAS to look up some Taiwanese indie bands for inspiration, from Tizzy Bac to Fire Ex."

Thursday, April 2, 2015

'Cli-fi' Reaching into Literature Courses in India

by staff writer, The Cli-Fi Report
UTTAR PRADESH -- University classrooms around the world are picking up on the ''cli-fi' genre of climate-themed novels and movies, but for the most part all of such courses have only been offered in academic setttings in North America and Europe.
But now India is getting into the act as well, thanks to the pioneering work of Professor T. Ravichandran of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) in Uttar Pradesh.

Dr. Ravichandran's course, titled "Cli-fi and Cli-flicks,'' is set to begin in late July and consists of 15 modules. covering such topics as eco-fiction, eco-fabulism, and representations of climate change issues in feature films and documentaries.
Aimed at undergraduate students at IITK, the course will be the first of its kind in all of India,
Dr. Ravichandran told me
in a recent email.

"In India, climate change awareness is not as acutely felt as in the U.S. or the U.K," he said. ''My recent research on 'Literature, Technology and Environment: Global and Pedagogical Perspectives,' sponsored by the Fulbright-Nehru Professional and Academic fellowship from USIEF, India, and hosted at Duke University in North Carolina, was a turning point in my career."

Dr Ravichandran said he experienced a paradigm shift in his thinking about the way in which he connects to the natural environment during his fellowship in North Carolina.
When I asked him what he meant, he replied: "It made me to think seriously of my role as a teacher of literature to engineering students. How long will I continue to teach Shakespeare and Shelley and make them aesthetically love the beauty of daffodils or skylarks when in reality they would soon become endangered if climate change goes unchecked?"
To answer his own question, Professor Ravichandran added: "In order to make myself relevant to my existence on this Earth, I thought at least I should cause awareness on climate change in the minds of my students. So that's how I started working on the course. In India, I hope to make this course a successful and effective one."
Since the predominating global concern today is climate change, which obliterates geo-political boundaries and connects humans in search of common solutions, Dr. Ravichandran is appropriating an inter-disciplinary approach for his course, he told me.

"Climate fiction ('cli-fi') and climate films ('cli-flicks') offer an inter-disciplinary study of a looming phenomenon that the humans in the Anthropocene age witness helplessly as if trapped on a sinking ship," he said.

"The real question to be addressed is not, as posed by climate change skeptics, whether this catastrophe is so alarming that humans need to act on it immediately, but how long can humankind afford to remain impervious to something that is so glaring?" he added.

Dr. Ravichandran said that he hopes that havign his students
focus on novels and films in the 'cli-fi' genre will foster a change in mind-set that can open them up to thinking about the sustainable use of scarce resources and ensuring the symbiotic sustenance of the human and the nonhuman on Earth.

Students in the pioneering IITK course will be reading such novels as "Year of the Flood," A Friend of the Earth," and "Flight Behavior."
In additon, movies such as "Interstellar," "Snowpiercer" and "The Day after Tomorrow" will be screened and discussed, Dr. Ravichandran said.

As a reporter from North America who has been closely following the rise of the cli-fi genre in the West, I am glad to see IITK in India offering a course like this to its engineering students.

Call it a meme, a motif, a cultural prism, a buzzword, a PR tool, or a marketing term, -- ''cli-fi'' is here to stay and India has just joined the club.

In fact, with this course, the first of its kind in India, the professor and his students will be making history, and I hope the media in Uttar Pradesh and beyond will pick up this story as a news story in English and Hindi..
Professor Ravichandran's novel course could very well become a role model for other academics in India to follow in the future.

The Window as Mirror - a blog post by Michael Lederer

The Window as Mirror

By Michael Lederer
The author reflected in the window of Les Deux Magots café in Paris. – photo credit: Michael Lederer
Look through a window and we see the world outside. Change of focus, and we can see ourselves reflected in that same window.

As an American writer living in Europe, I feel like an astronaut on Apollo 17. While that mission ostensibly was to explore the moon, ironically the greatest benefit gained may have been the famous “Blue Marble” photograph looking back at Earth. For the first time in the long-short arc of human history, we were able to see ourselves in a wider, deeper context. Eensy-weensy we.
Keep your nose touched to the paint and you can’t see what the painting is about. Microscope and telescope for the bigger picture.
Enough metaphors.

I have lived abroad much of my life, wide-eyed, exploring this or that. As an American in Spain, or as an American in Berlin, or as an American in wherever, that key word “American” is always there. As a character in my novel, Cadaqués, points out, “The tree has roots, darling!”

Okay, back to the metaphors.

We live within an M.C. Escher world. Interconnected. What looks like this could well be that. While I was born and grew up in America, my father was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, which is now called Zagreb, Croatia. My mother’s parents were born in Stettin, Germany, which is now called Szczecin, Poland. History is a lava lamp. Lines on a map set for a nanosecond, about as solid as smoke. Your own grandparents will tell you that somewhere along the way you, too, were probably hyphenated. Even Native Americans were travelers who happened to get there first.

Whether it was on a canoe across the Bering Strait, the Mayflower from England, a U.S. Liberty Ship in World War II, a raft from Cuba, or crossing the Rio Grande, Americans came from other places. Some of us grab our passports and set out once again, hoping to learn how “they” have influenced us and how “we” have influenced them. Because making the ultimate trip, cradle-to-grave, within the confines of a single national border somehow seems limited. That blue marble is small enough as it is.

And yet…we need identity. We can’t be everything or we wouldn’t be anyone, one of us no different than the next. So we take who we are where we are even as we change. Every expat will understand.


Michael Lederer is an American writer who lives in Berlin, Dubrovnik and Cadaqués. His first novel, Cadaqués, was published in February 2014. He has just written his second novel, Don Quixote Saving America.