Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Odds and bods

You get so used to the pronunciation of places that you grow up with that it's a surprise when other people come along and mispronounce them. Someone was waiting for one of the Dunedin buses recently and along came the one for Shiel Hill. Now to locals that's a simple name, pronounced roughly: Sheel Hill. Don't ask me now what the stranger thought it read as, but it was a long way from home.
Apropos of that, I'm constantly intrigued by the fact that that pronunciation of the name, Boise, in Idaho, is a source of such confusion. This might be because even the locals seem to have some variations in the way they say it. I'm informed that it's Boyz - rather like Boyz in the Hood, but apparently not everyone says it that way. Anyway, it's a search query on the Net all the time.
As are the characteristics of Eeyore. You'd think these would be obvious, but apparently not.
Well, here for those who want to know, are his characteristics according to one source: He is a pessimistic, gloomy, old, depressed, grey stuffed donkey who is a friend of Winnie-the-Pooh. Eeyore's name is a phonetic representation of the donkey's bray: an onomatopoeia, possibly derived from the baby talk name for the animal. (Excuse all the links - they came with the quote!)
You can see why I don't consider myself an Eeyore, even if one or two others have done so. I'm as optimistic as I am pessimistic, which makes me some sort of optipess, or pessiopt; I'm sometimes gloomy, but certainly not all the time; I'm old, but not as old as some people; I've been depressed in my lifetime, but it's not my normal state; I'm certainly not a grey stuffed donkey, and I never bray. I'm certainly not a Tim Shadbolt, someone who seems to laugh at life and rarely gets down (even when he's smashed up the mayoral limousine), but neither am I the epitome of depression. I'm an introvert with a dash or two of extrovert - particularly when I get on stage.
Incidentally, after I wrote the post about Benjamin Hoff's The Te of Piglet, I came across a long essay written by Hoff on his experiences with publishers. Man, in this essay, he negates all the Tao that he talks about in his books. Gone is the quiet and calm. He's outraged by what's been done to him as an author. But should he have such reason to complain? He was given advances on his books, he made the New York Times bestseller list twice, for 49 weeks the first time, and for 59 the second. That's fairly up there, if you ask me.
He says that he only created his site (in 2007) to tell people that he's giving up being an author (this, quite a few years after his bestsellers came out). He explains in immense and unhappy detail how badly done by he's been by various publishers, how they haven't served him well as an author, and seem to have been singularly careless in regard to their treatment of him.
You have to wonder a bit about it all. I don't know much about being an author really, but in general my understanding of the way authors are treated is that when their books are doing well, they do well too. And the publishers do well, and usually want more of the same 'do well' stuff from the author.
But not with Hoff. Everything that could have gone wrong seems to have gone wrong. It's a sad saga, the writer of which is a seemingly different character from the one who appears in the picture on the site. In fact, he comes across as a positive Eeyore. Which is rather ironic, really, since he plainly isn't one of Eeyore's fans, if The Te of Piglet is anything to go by.
The picture is of the older Hoff - he barely resembles his younger self.
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