Monday, July 31, 2006

Duty Honor Courage

Original Posting: July 31, 2006

This is a freshly done arm band tattoo shown in BMEzine’s gallery (July 31, 2006) by James “Devilboy” Robinson of F.I.S.T. Ink in North Carolina (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK). The six-character set supposedly to be “Duty Honor Courage”.

The first two characters are not even close to “duty”, unless the client is a dedicated gardener.

means “enlighten, advance; progress” and is “peduncle or stem of plants”.

Perhaps, they were some kind of “wicked” phonetic translation from English to Chinese or Japanese? But, why?

do mean “honor”, except is missing a stroke.

The last two are “courage” or “bravery” and they are correct.

A quick browse of James “Devilboy” Robinson’s MySpace page (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK), from metal fabrication to graphix (his spelling) design, it seems he is a very talented person. Although, no where it was mentioned on his page if he has ever studied Chinese or Japanese.

Oh right, tattooists are “artists”, and they are not linguists.

Update: August 1, 2006 - James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) has sent me the following angry comment and instant messages:

(larger view)

(larger view)

Update: Aug. 2, 2006 – I have forwarded my experience with James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) to my good friends Shannon Larratt and Marisa DiMattia, hoping not all tattooists are like him and it was an isolated incident.

Shannon Larratt is the man behind the largest body modification website in the world called Body Modification Ezine (, where some of James Robinson’s (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) pieces were originally posted.

Shannon, Marisa, and I regularly exchange tips and emails regarding the tattoo trend. Some of our postings have cross-linked in each other’s websites.

Shannon says:
“That email is hilarious. But it's a pretty typical response. Tattoo artists can be a little like Klingons. :) PS. Marisa will love that you forwarded this to her too -- I was just about to when I saw you had included her. She just had a very similar run-in...”
Marisa replied to me with:
“It's true that tattoo artists should not be responsible for characters that are not native to them. That said, if he really cared about reputation, he would not have Chinese flash representing his work. I don't want to see what the rest of his portfolio looks like.”
Marisa DiMattia is a New York attorney by occupation. In her spare time, she manages and writes a legal column for Recently, Marisa had a run-in with Joseph Smith of Big Brains Productions in Omaha, Nebraska, after she confronted him about theft of work done by someone else.

Referring to James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) as a “tattoo artist” is giving a bad name to all other respectable tattooists in the profession. In my opinion (after his email and instant messages), he is nothing but a man who can hold up a mechanical needle, dipping in ink, and trace color lines on gullible clients’ skin. That is no different from developmentally challenged students to trace color lines in special education classes.

And I am sure those students would have more humanity in them than James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) ever would.

Update: Oct. 21, 2009

from: Nine
date: Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 5:35 AM
subject: Duty Honour Courage - Hanzi Smatter


I'm writing to you in good faith in reference to:

One of my tattooist colleagues is also called James Robinson and we are concerned that the general public may link the individual to whom you are referring, to James Robinson of Nine, Brighton, UK. I myself did a google search and fell upon this page and was quite taken aback as what you were describing fitted in no way with the James Robinson I know and work with. It was only upon reading right down the page that I found the information to which James Robinson you were referring to.

If anyone does a Google search on his name, the following is on the first page of the search:

Hanzi Smatter 一知半解: Duty Honor Courage
Referring to James Robinson as a “tattoo artist” is giving a bad name to all other respectable tattooists in the profession. In my opinion (after his email ...

I am sure you can agree that this is defamatory to James Robinson of Nine and request you specify which James Robinson you are referring to to make it clear.

I trust you can update your page changing all the James Robinson's you list as James "Devilboy' Robinson of F.I.S.T. Ink in North Carolina to make it clear to anyone perusing your page that this James Robinson has nothing whatsoever to do with James Robinson of Nine, Brighton, UK.

I run an incredibly well respected and tight ship here and do not wish any damage upon the reputation of my studio or any of the tattooists working within it.

I look forward to hearing from you about this matter.

Kind Regards,

9 Boyces Street
+44(0)1273 208844

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fearless Gibberish

My friend Mark Swofford has informed me about a new movie called Fearless starring Jet Li, which is loosely based on the life of Huo Yuanjia.

The movie is written and directed by a Chinese person, dialogue is in Mandarin Chinese, and the storyline is about a Chinese person, yet ironcally the characters in the movie's trailer are gibberish.

These are two screen shots Mark has captured from the movie's trailer to show just how ridiculous they are:

Just below COMING SOON is a giant ㄍ. Along the right side of the screen is the following, in zhuyin fuhao: ㄇㄞㄒㄖㄘ. This, in Hanyu Pinyin, would be “maixrici,” which is complete gibberish. The other vertical lines of text are also nonsense in zhuyin fuhao. Again, there’s nothing wrong with how these are written. It’s just that they’re no more meaningful than a random string of letters. (more)

The zhuyin fuhao on the left read, from top to bottom, ㄔㄐㄎㄊㄆ, which would be “chjktp” in Hanyu Pinyin. As I think should be obvious even to those who don’t know Mandarin or any other Sinitic language, this is simply nonsense. (more)

Hopefully the actual movie would be better than the trailer, unlike the last movie I saw Lady in the Water by M. Night Shyamalan which really sucked scrunt's balls.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Asian Font Gibberish 3

From Shannon Larratt's gallery, here is a July 27th posting from Bulgaria:

Two of my earlier postings (one & two) have already talked about some people would download this so called "Asian Font" from the internet and tattoo themselves with gibberish.

If you have not seen Clerks II, Shannon Larratt had a brief role in the movie. He was the "Ear Guy" in Mooby's.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wise Words Very Beginning

Helen of sent in this photo from Zao Tattoo in Macomb, IL.

means "wise words" or "famous saying" and is "beginning" or "initial".

Obviously this person has never heard of the wise words from Dr. Gregory House, Seth MacFarlane, Red vs. Blue, Fox News (it is a bit strange to see "Fox News" associated with "wise words"), and Bill Maher.


Aiko Valentine sent this photo to me a few days ago. Her sister has purchased this parasol from a store called Earthbound Trading Company.

(larger view)

Despite the incorrectly written characters, 伊勢 or 伊勢囯 is a province in Japan. or 時代 is referring to Japan’s Warring State Period which is roughly from mid 15th to early 17th century. 国村 could either be a village or a compound from the Warring State Period.

For those who are not familiar with Japanese history or read the five characters on the parasol as Chinese, might mean something like “Iraqi/Iranian warring/conflicting village”.

The reason why it might mean either “Iraqi” or “Iranian” is because both terms were phonetically translated into Chinese and often abbreviated using just the first character. 伊拉克 is “Iraq” and 伊朗 for “Iran”.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Hanzi Smatter was mentioned in the latest episode of HanselMinutes with Scott Hanselman and Carl Franklin. For those who do not have the patience to sit through over twenty minutes of geek talk, the clip starts at time mark 26:30.

audio: clip 517 KB mp3 or entire show22.5 MB mp3

I use Macromedia Fireworks (now Adobe Fireworks) for most of the graphics work, and Sony Vegas 6.0 for audio and video editing work.

The character in Computer Zen's logo is , typically "zen" is referring to .

Monday, July 17, 2006

House M.D. - Nonconformity

Andy from Texas Tech sent in this screen capture from episode 19 of Fox’s drama series, House (or is it “House M.D.”?).

video: windows media 3.95 MB or mirror

Dr. Roger Spain (First Applicant): Wow, I thought you'd be the last person to have a problem with nonconformity.

Dr. Gregory House: Nonconformity; right... I can't remember the last time saw a twenty something kid with a tattoo of an Asian letter on his wrist. You are one wicked free thinker! You want to be a rebel; stop being cool. Wear a pocket protector like he does, and get a hair cut. Like the Asian kids that don't leave the library for a twenty hours stretch. They're the ones that don't care what you think.

Dr. Gregory House: Sayonara

Many places including tattoo shops advertise as "harmony, peace; peaceful, calm". In modern day Chinese, it only means is frequently used to represent "with" or "and".

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Love Loyalty Truth

From June 29th's postings in BMEzine's gallery, this young man from Lithuania got what supposed to say "Love Loyalty Truth" tattooed on him by a tattooist known as "Blackwo".

The middle character looked like a botched or , which is nowhere near "loyalty".

This young man should have read the March of 2005 issue of FHM Lithuania edition.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Kim Maher's Tattoo

Yusuki Toyoda and I are both scratching our heads about the meaning of Kim Maher's tattoo posted in Sports Illustrated's website.

original photo

As far as I know Kim Maher is not in any way related to Bill Maher, who has commented about the trend of Chinese character tattoos. Her tattoo of is loosely translated as "healthy woman stops achievement flow".

Tattoo Spotted in Russian Night Club

Magazeta in is a community site about China and Chinese culture written in Russian. Its owner named Ma Yuxi emailed me this photo today:

I have no idea what the second character is supposed to be.

Monday, July 3, 2006

The Five-Dollar Fools

While I was walking through Seaport Village in San Diego last weekend, I saw many places that were advertising these "henna tattoo" or "henna painting" along the beach.

Gibberish Henna Template

I laughed at their Chinese characters sections because most of them is either incorrectly written or the translations are way off.

I was tempted to inform one of the shop owners about the mistakes, but I was amazed by the gibberish character henna’s popularity, she was too busy to satisfy customers' $5-per-piece consuming needs.

henna gibberish 1

henna gibberish 2

henna gibberish 3

None the less, there were many young ladies with gibberish painted on their bodies.

The good news is that they will look like fools for only a week or so, and then the henna paint would wash off.