GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Japanese in Serenity movie?

POSTED BY: JUNIPERJAYNE
UPDATED: Wednesday, May 2, 2007 03:39
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Sunday, September 10, 2006 11:32 AM

JUNIPERJAYNE


So my newly converted friend swears that he saw Japanese in Serenity along with the Chinese, but since I know neither language, has anyone else seen it? Not improbable if they were trying to include lots of different Asian cultures...


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Sunday, September 10, 2006 12:23 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by JuniperJayne:
So my newly converted friend swears that he saw Japanese in Serenity along with the Chinese, but since I know neither language, has anyone else seen it? Not improbable if they were trying to include lots of different Asian cultures...




Don't know about any Japanese characters in the movie, but the culture is definitly there. In fact, more than anything else asian. So, I wouldn't be surprised if it is in there.

Just one of the breaks from canon that states only China and the US where the cultures to make it.

----
I am on The List. We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Sunday, September 10, 2006 12:45 PM

DAVESHAYNE


Quote:

Originally posted by SigmaNunki:
Don't know about any Japanese characters in the movie, but the culture is definitly there. In fact, more than anything else asian. So, I wouldn't be surprised if it is in there.

Just one of the breaks from canon that states only China and the US where the cultures to make it.



Canon doesn't say that the US and China were the only survivors. Just that they were the dominant cultures at the time of the migration and therefor became the most influential source of culture and language for the 'verse. Still plenty of room for influences from other cultures in a minor way. See also Jaynestown where Jayne uses the spanish pronounciation for Jesus.

As for language in the BDM I think the man in the fruity oatey bar commercial is ranting in Japanese about how ashamed he is that he didn't buy fruity oaty bars for his family. I could be wrong though.

David

"Not completely as well as the series of Firefly..." - From a review of Serenity at amazon.de

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Sunday, September 10, 2006 1:19 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by daveshayne:
Quote:

Originally posted by SigmaNunki:
Don't know about any Japanese characters in the movie, but the culture is definitly there. In fact, more than anything else asian. So, I wouldn't be surprised if it is in there.

Just one of the breaks from canon that states only China and the US where the cultures to make it.



Canon doesn't say that the US and China were the only survivors. Just that they were the dominant cultures at the time of the migration and therefor became the most influential source of culture and language for the 'verse. Still plenty of room for influences from other cultures in a minor way. See also Jaynestown where Jayne uses the spanish pronounciation for Jesus.

As for language in the BDM I think the man in the fruity oatey bar commercial is ranting in Japanese about how ashamed he is that he didn't buy fruity oaty bars for his family. I could be wrong though.




The problem with what you are saying here is that there isn't a small influence of Japanese culture, but a grand one. That is what make the contradiction with canon.

----
I am on The List. We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Sunday, September 10, 2006 1:21 PM

CITIZEN


I'm pretty sure the Kanji used in Japan and China are the same.



More insane ramblings by the people who brought you beeeer milkshakes!
No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006 1:30 PM

STINKINGROSE


My sister is working in Tokyo. She says the kanji are the same in meaning, but pronunciation is different due to having different languages. Japanese can read Chinese writing (since that's where they originally got it from) and get the general essence of the characters, but speaking it is another matter entirely. Of course she could be full of it, but I doubt that.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006 2:10 PM

DANCINGNEKO


Stinkingrose's sister is right. (See what my learning Japanese as a youngster taught me? ) Japanese people use kanji to write with (it's what the Chinese call han-zi, from what I've gathered) but pronounce it differently (or sometimes have even two pronounciations). I've had a co-worker talk about being in Japan and because part of the group can read the characters in Chinese, and others could read it in Japanese, they had to translate it to English -- e.g. "We'll meet at the 'flower-mountain-town' sign." or "Use the 'east-lantern-district' station...." It's kinda funny...

..and Yes, there was also katakana (one of the other ways to write in the Japanese language)...it's one of the things that distracted me during the movie the first time I saw it...Check out the labels in the ship -- I think I saw "serra" or something next to the pantry door where they locked River in... I also think they had hiragana and katakana flowing along with the kanji across the screens in the 'classroom' (the characters flowing across the screens looked like nonsense, but don't hold me to that -- I can read just enough to know if I'm in Japan, or in China.)

Hope I didn't "vague it up" with this.


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Sunday, September 10, 2006 6:01 PM

DAVESHAYNE


Quote:

Originally posted by SigmaNunki:
The problem with what you are saying here is that there isn't a small influence of Japanese culture, but a grand one. That is what make the contradiction with canon.



Not being the worlds greatest expert on Japanese culture I'm not really in a position to argue the point except as far as to say that the elements I recognize as being of primarily or soley Japanese in origin all seem to be coming from the filter of US cultural adaption. The anime oatey bar commercial (inspired at least in part by the Mr. Sparkle episode of the simpsons.) The Zaibatsu like Blue Sun corporation has antecedents in mainstream american scifi since the 80s. Companions while reminicent of geisha also have roots in Italian rennaisance courtesans.

Right off hand I can't think of anything else that has particular roots in Japanese culture. Are there other things you are thinking of?

David

"Not completely as well as the series of Firefly..." - From a review of Serenity at amazon.de

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Sunday, September 10, 2006 9:59 PM

SPACEANJL


The sword the Operative carries owes more to the katana than to the West. Given the Japanese influence within the global economy, it would make sense for them to be around, though given the history with China, they would probably be more inclined to link up with (and probably subtly dominate) the economic elements within the Londinium ie US sphere of influence. Joss already posited the Brits as a '51st state' by that stage, so other cultures keeping some form of integrity within the dominant one could happen.

At least, I hope so. I wrote a character who was manifestly Yakuza.

Other cultural pointers - we've seen figures in burquas (Train Job) and one bloke in a yarmulke (Amon Duul in the Message) It may be that any culturally 'different' elements have been forced out of the Core worlds, (anyone read 'Strength of Stones'? Greg Bear, a future where the squabbling religions have bought up their own planet to have their war on. I rather liked the idea.)

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Monday, September 11, 2006 1:04 AM

STINKINGROSE


Let's not forget the Native American fellow pushing an elder (in full war bonnet) in a wheelchair on Persephone.
I think it's safe to say that there are not only two cultures in the 'verse. It is as much a melange as it is today,possibly moreso due to exposure to otheres on a daily basis. There are two *dominant* cultures (East meets West), but not exclusively two.
Pick and choose your cultural influences, you are probably right. It's a buffet that needs questioning.

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Monday, September 11, 2006 1:07 AM

DESKTOPHIPPIE


Briefly hijacking the thread to say that Joss has hinted at a connection between Japanese Kanji and Goners.

Back on topic, I always thought those four guys dressed in black with the red belts we saw briefly on Persephone during the pilot were meant to be Yakuza. But I may be showing my ignorance of all things Eastern.



More animations available at http://desktophippie.googlepages.com

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Monday, September 11, 2006 7:18 AM

DAVESHAYNE


Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:
The sword the Operative carries owes more to the katana than to the West.



Physically it's not particularly reminiscent of the katana at all. No curve to speak of and esthetically it's more utilitarian than ornate. The operative's attitude to the sword is perhaps a bit more Japanese, "In certain older civilized cultures...." But it's hard to say how much of his demeanor is a reflection of society as a whole as opposed to a partial adaptation of the samurai honorable warior template as a way to shield his moral self from having to reflect upom the immoral acts he performs as an assassin for the Alliance.

David

"Not completely as well as the series of Firefly..." - From a review of Serenity at amazon.de

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Monday, September 11, 2006 2:43 PM

SIGMANUNKI


@DaveShayne:

Though there are few things that can be pointed at with a "See? Right there?" type things that point to a significant Japanese culture, there is the feel of things, how people talk about things (the Operative example is excellent), the city/world where they land to drop Simon and River off (forget the name), etc...

Perhaps I've watched too much Japanese and Chinese stuff, but there is a significant, if not subtle, difference between the two. And the movie gives me a Japanese feel, and certainly NOT a Chinese one.


@all:

There are those in this thread (and I imagine others) that miss the point. Namely, I'm NOT saying that there are "no other cultures in the 'verse". What I AM saying is that in the BDS there was heavy Chinese culture with little to no Japanese influence (at least I didn't notice any). This is in stark contrast to how things work in the BDM where it's pretty much flipped.


Sure there will always be "hot spots" for other cultures in any multi-cultural 'verse. But, nothing in the BDS gave any indication that this would be so on the scale that is in the BDM.

----
I am on The List. We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Monday, September 11, 2006 3:27 PM

DAVESHAYNE


Quote:

Originally posted by SigmaNunki:
[B]@DaveShayne:

Though there are few things that can be pointed at with a "See? Right there?" type things that point to a significant Japanese culture, there is the feel of things, how people talk about things (the Operative example is excellent), the city/world where they land to drop Simon and River off (forget the name), etc...



Beaumonde

Quote:

Perhaps I've watched too much Japanese and Chinese stuff, but there is a significant, if not subtle, difference between the two. And the movie gives me a Japanese feel, and certainly NOT a Chinese one.


I'm certainly not the world's greatest expert on either Chinese or Japanese culture so perhaps there are some things I'm not picking up on. Something to look for the next time I screen the movie.

David

"Not completely as well as the series of Firefly..." - From a review of Serenity at amazon.de

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Monday, September 11, 2006 4:07 PM

TRAVELER


There would be communities where cultures migrate to. Badger has a strong accent. This would not have survived if there was not a fairly large population from the United Kingdom gathered together.

I'm sure other nationalities have done the same.

In my city we neighborhoods that are Polish, German, Italian, Hispanic, etc. You know your in a real Mexican restaurant when you have to point at the menu to let the waitress know what you want because she does not speak English. Had to bring that up because I love Mexican food.

People gather where they find familiar language and culture.


Traveler

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Monday, September 11, 2006 8:12 PM

GOAT


Quote:

Originally posted by daveshayne:
The operative's attitude to the sword is perhaps a bit more Japanese, "In certain older civilized cultures...."



Just to elaborate a little more on that (don't know how much of this is common knowlege)
Quote:

From Wikipedia( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushido#Bushido_ethics):
In the world of the warrior, seppuku was a deed of bravery that was admirable in a samurai who knew he was defeated, disgraced, or mortally wounded. It meant that he could end his days with his transgressions wiped away and with his reputation not merely intact but actually enhanced. The cutting of the abdomen released the samurai’s spirit in the most dramatic fashion, but it was an extremely painful and unpleasant way to die, and sometimes the samurai who was performing the act asked a loyal comrade to cut off his head at the moment of agony



Quote:

Originally posted by desktophippie:
I always thought those four guys dressed in black with the red belts we saw briefly on Persephone during the pilot were meant to be Yakuza.


I always thought of them as looking like a street gang than mobsters, but thats just my opinion.

Another thing that reminds me of older Japanese culture is Inara's character. Contrary to what seems to be popular (western) belief, geishas were not simple prostitutes but entertainers (geisha roughly translates to artist or person of the arts) and could sing, dance and usually play an instrument. The best of the geishas were trained from a very young age (see the deleted scenes from TBDM) to become graceful, "proper" entertainers. Sometimes a geisha would have sexual relations with a client but it would be her choice, not her obligation.
(more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geisha)

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006 6:24 AM

DAVESHAYNE


Quote:

Originally posted by goat:
Quote:

Originally posted by daveshayne:
The operative's attitude to the sword is perhaps a bit more Japanese, "In certain older civilized cultures...."



Just to elaborate a little more on that (don't know how much of this is common knowlege)
Quote:

From Wikipedia( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushido#Bushido_ethics):
In the world of the warrior, seppuku was a deed of bravery that was admirable in a samurai who knew he was defeated, disgraced, or mortally wounded. It meant that he could end his days with his transgressions wiped away and with his reputation not merely intact but actually enhanced. The cutting of the abdomen released the samurai’s spirit in the most dramatic fashion, but it was an extremely painful and unpleasant way to die, and sometimes the samurai who was performing the act asked a loyal comrade to cut off his head at the moment of agony





Of course when it came down to it while the Operative was quite happy suggesting honorable death to his foes he didn't take that option for himself.


David

"Not completely as well as the series of Firefly..." - From a review of Serenity at amazon.de

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006 12:58 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by daveshayne:

I'm certainly not the world's greatest expert on either Chinese or Japanese culture so perhaps there are some things I'm not picking up on. Something to look for the next time I screen the movie.




I've been thinking about this a bit more and I think I may have an explination to how it more of a Japanese feel than a Japanese one.

Joss wrote the comics before the movie. We also know that Joss is a fairly big comic book fan (right? It's what I've heard).

So, then with writing the movie right after the comics (amoung other comic ventures) the way he wrote Serenity was more in the style of a comic book rather than a movie (another example of this type of movie would be The 5th Element).

It does account for the change in world, River, characters in general, etc.

What'd ya think? Yes/No/Maybe?

----
I am on The List. We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006 12:59 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by traveler:

There would be communities where cultures migrate to. Badger has a strong accent. This would not have survived if there was not a fairly large population from the United Kingdom gathered together.




I'd be willing to bet that this has more to do with the actor being born in the UK than it does an intentional comment on the culture of the times. More likely Joss wanted (or liked the idea at audition time) to have someone with a "civilized accent" in a "somewhat lowly" role. Or any number of more plausible explinations that have to do with "real life" than the mentioned intentional comment.


Quote:

Originally posted by traveler:

In my city we neighborhoods that are Polish, German, Italian, Hispanic, etc.

...snip...

People gather where they find familiar language and culture.




Although this is true, you must have a constant influx of a nationality (or seggragation) for the people to keep there accent over the generations. If Firefly has stated anything else, its that this is not so. In every scene there are people from all walks of life.

To use your neighbourhood example, only the ones that imigrated at a "old enough age" to keep there accents actually keep there accents. And even then, over the course of several years, the older folks may "lose" there accent as well.

When it comes to accents, if this were real, what would most likely happen is that people would develope a new accent and all have the same one. Over time (perhaps generations) of course.

----
I am on The List. We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006 4:58 PM

DAVESHAYNE


Quote:

Originally posted by SigmaNunki:
What'd ya think? Yes/No/Maybe?



Joss is certainly a fan of the comic book medium especially the classic X-Men stuff but I don't see that as being an explanation for any particular Japaneseness in the movie. Just because the Japanese culture has more greatly embraced the comic book as an art form doesn't mean that all practitioners of the art have been influenced by the Japanese comics. I think it more likely Joss picked up some Kurosawa inflence at second hand through the classic westerns A Fist Full of Dollars (based on the Kurosowa film Yojimbo) and The Magnificent Seven (based on The Seven Samurai also directed by Kurosawa.) A fistfull of Dollors is probably a very good example of the kind of cultural melange that Joss was atempting to evoke in Serenifly - An Italian film about gang warfare in a small village in Mexico staring an American actor with a script that's an almost word for word translation of a Japanese samurai film.

Actually I will hazard a guess that anybody with Joss' known interests would have experienced Kurosawa at first hand. He is one of the greatest film makers of the 20th century with a keen eye not only for the visual aspect but also for the tiny details of life. He has a knack for bringing the true humanity of his characters to the screen even in the midst of his epic story lines. I can highly recomend seeing just about any movie of his.

Also I think it was the other way around with the comic. He wrote that after he wote the script for the movie to bridge the gap from the end of the series to the begining of the movie and to explain what happened to Book and Inara and a few other minor characters. Without the movie the comic doesn't really serve much of a purpose. Or rather if the movie hadn't been made the comic would probably have developed in a different way.

David

"Not completely as well as the series of Firefly..." - From a review of Serenity at amazon.de

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006 7:14 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by daveshayne:

but I don't see that as being an explanation for any particular Japaneseness in the movie.




I didn't mean the comic thing is as an explination for the Japaneseness in the movie, just for the comic book feel. But, combine the comic book feel with significant Japanese culture and you get anime.

Bah, I'm a little tipsy right now, so I'll see about re-reading you reply later.

----
I am on The List. We are The Forsaken and we aim to burn!
"We don't fear the reaper"

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Saturday, September 16, 2006 7:32 AM

FFYING2


Quote:

Originally posted by JuniperJayne:
So my newly converted friend swears that he saw Japanese in Serenity along with the Chinese, but since I know neither language, has anyone else seen it? Not improbable if they were trying to include lots of different Asian cultures...



I don't think there is any actual Japanese in the movie Serenity. There is, however, a lot of gibberish in Japanese katakana characters and a lot of gibberish in Mainland China's simplified Chinese characters (most notably, the scrolling textbook of Young River and of Grown-Up River's dream and the stuff on the sides of cortex screens).

Someone wanted the movie to have a more multicultural look rather than just English and Chinese writing, so there is some Japanese script and a little Arabic and Hindi script.

Ying

Firefly Funsite http://fireflyfunsite.home.att.net
Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary http://fireflychinese.home.att.net
Browncoats.com http://www.browncoats.com

Blog http://languageandhumor.net

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Saturday, September 16, 2006 7:59 AM

FFYING2


Quote:

Originally posted by stinkingrose:
My sister is working in Tokyo. She says the kanji are the same in meaning, but pronunciation is different due to having different languages. Japanese can read Chinese writing (since that's where they originally got it from) and get the general essence of the characters, but speaking it is another matter entirely. Of course she could be full of it, but I doubt that.



She's not full of it, but she's overgeneralizing. Japan has borrowed many words from China starting over a millennium and a half ago, and writes them in Chinese characters. But the words have sometimes changed meaning over time (even half-a-millennium-ago Shakespeare can be confusing for English speakers). The words have also changed meaning independently in the two countries. Moreover, Japan didn't get the words from Beijing; they got them from the dominant regions of the various times, and words mean different things in different dialect areas. Plus, both countries have created myriad new compound nouns out of Chinese word stems, but the meanings are idiomatic and not often shared.

In addition, while Japanese uses Chinese characters to write most of its native content words, grammatical words (and word order) are different. For example, both Chinese and Japanese have 会 (Ch. hui, J. au) for "to meet," but Chinese also uses it for the auxiliary verb "be able to." Japan has the native Japanese word dekiru, written with hiragana characters (or sometimes with phonetic Chinese characters). Japanese also have verb inflectional endings for negatives, written in hiragana. Chinese uses the word bu (among others).

So, Chinese and Japanese people can make out some words (as I can make out some Latin from English having borrowed so much), but they can't understand much of sentences in depth. A Chinese person has to know Japanese just to tell if a word is a verb or an adjective and whether the verb or adjective is positive or negative, past or present (Japanese treats adjectives like verbs). A Japanese person has to know Chinese to recognize the grammatical words and what they mean.

Then there's slang, idioms, different politeness levels for words...

Ying

Firefly Funsite http://fireflyfunsite.home.att.net
Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary http://fireflychinese.home.att.net
Browncoats.com http://www.browncoats.com

Blog http://languageandhumor.net

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Saturday, September 16, 2006 8:04 AM

FFYING2


Quote:

Originally posted by SigmaNunki:
The problem with what you are saying here is that there isn't a small influence of Japanese culture, but a grand one. That is what make the contradiction with canon.



I think it's only a small contradiction of canon. Now there's some Japanese katakana strewn about, but we don't have everyone breaking into Japanese. Simon doesn't call River "River-chan." (There is no equivalent of "meimei" because "imouto" wouldn't be used to actually address a younger sister.)

Ying

Firefly Funsite http://fireflyfunsite.home.att.net
Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary http://fireflychinese.home.att.net
Browncoats.com http://www.browncoats.com

Blog http://languageandhumor.net

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Saturday, September 16, 2006 8:09 AM

FFYING2


Quote:

Originally posted by Dancingneko:
..and Yes, there was also katakana (one of the other ways to write in the Japanese language)...it's one of the things that distracted me during the movie the first time I saw it...Check out the labels in the ship -- I think I saw "serra" or something next to the pantry door where they locked River in...



セリラ serira, which seems to be gibberish.

Quote:

Originally posted by Dancingneko:
I also think they had hiragana and katakana flowing along with the kanji across the screens in the 'classroom' (the characters flowing across the screens looked like nonsense, but don't hold me to that



They had Mainland China's simplified hanzi characters and Japanese katakana, but it was indeed just nonsense.

Ying

Firefly Funsite http://fireflyfunsite.home.att.net
Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary http://fireflychinese.home.att.net
Browncoats.com http://www.browncoats.com

Blog http://languageandhumor.net

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Saturday, September 16, 2006 8:22 AM

FFYING2


Quote:

Originally posted by goat:
Another thing that reminds me of older Japanese culture is Inara's character. Contrary to what seems to be popular (western) belief, geishas were not simple prostitutes but entertainers (geisha roughly translates to artist or person of the arts) and could sing, dance and usually play an instrument. The best of the geishas were trained from a very young age (see the deleted scenes from TBDM) to become graceful, "proper" entertainers. Sometimes a geisha would have sexual relations with a client but it would be her choice, not her obligation.
(more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geisha)



Joss said that his wife told him to make Inara more geisha-like rather than just a high-class prostitute. However, whether Joss intended it or not, he created more of a 17th century and on Yoshiwara prostitute than a geisha. The legalized prostitutes were limited to Edo's (now Tokyo) closed-off Yoshiwara district. They had high social standing, chose their own clients, and I think even had tea on "dates" before they might actually have sex with the client. Just being a wealthy samurai wasn't necessarily enough for one to make the cut and be chosen by the woman.

Ying

Firefly Funsite http://fireflyfunsite.home.att.net
Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary http://fireflychinese.home.att.net
Browncoats.com http://www.browncoats.com

Blog http://languageandhumor.net

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 4:52 PM

ITSAWASH


I figure you are right about what the guy in the Fruity Oaty Bars commercial was saying. He signed my F.O.B. sticker at the FlanThatAlmostWasnt in California in 2006 by saying, "Washie, don't be ashamed!" Until I read your thread reply here, daveshayne. Thankee for your words.

-Washie

Pic courtesy of KellyofLuthien

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007 3:39 AM

DAVESHAYNE


Quote:

Originally posted by ItsaWash:
Thankee for your words.



You're welcome. I'm not exactly sure for what but you are welcome just the same.

David

"Not completely as well as the series of Firefly..." - From a review of Serenity at amazon.de

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North Richland Hills, TX CSTS Event Sunday, October 13 2019. Serenity Charity Screening. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Charity Screening.
Sun, October 13, 2019 00:12 - 1 posts
THE ROOKIE PICKED UP
Mon, October 7, 2019 16:19 - 13 posts
Prodigal Son
Tue, October 1, 2019 20:47 - 4 posts
Nathan Fillion's The Rookie 2nd season starts 9/29/2019 10 pm eastern ABC
Sun, September 29, 2019 21:58 - 1 posts
Arcata,CA CSTS Event Sunday, Sept. 29th 2019. Serenity Charity Screening.
Fri, September 27, 2019 02:27 - 1 posts
Denver, CO CSTS Event Saturday, Sept. 28th 2019. Serenity Charity Screening.
Fri, September 27, 2019 02:15 - 1 posts
New Berlin, WI CSTS Event Saturday, Sept. 28th 2019. Serenity Charity Screening.
Fri, September 27, 2019 02:06 - 1 posts
Irvine, CA CSTS Event Sunday, Sept. 22th 2019. Serenity Charity Screening and the Fallen Stars.
Sun, September 22, 2019 00:43 - 1 posts
Rocker Ric Ocasek, The Frontman Of The Cars, Has Died
Fri, September 20, 2019 20:40 - 5 posts

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