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    It’s a good thing I’ve found a good man to take care of me

    Now that there are a few people reading this who didn’t know me before I started the site, I think I should warn you all about something: I’m a total idiot. This was borne in upon me forcefully yet again today when…. Well, see, we were watching Columbo, and one of the episodes on the DVD involved murder by locking someone in a safe and letting him suffocate. And there’s this Columbo ripoff here in Japan that started as the usual Japanese series of ten-odd episodes. But it proved so popular that it’s become sort of an institution. It doesn’t run every season, but there’s often, you know, a special movie-length episode over a holiday weekend, or whatever. It’s called 古畑任三郎 (Furuhata Ninzaburo, the name of the protagonist).

    Anyway, I started thinking about some of the better episodes, and remembered one from a few years back. A woman’s lover struck her with a water pitcher she’d used as a makeshift vase for a rose from an admirer. He was caught because, when he looked at the container as evidence later, he called it a “vase.” The idea was that anyone who hadn’t seen it with the rose thrust into it at the victim’s apartment would have just thought of it as a regular old “water pitcher.” It was a fiendishly clever episode, because the whole solution to the thing was right in front of you the whole time…there was none of that cheating where the detective faxes the DMV to ask for information and you don’t find out until he confronts the killer. And since (as you would on Columbo) you saw the murder, you were tempted not to notice how odd it was that the murderer referred to it as a vase, either. You associated it with the rose. The scriptwriter was very shrewd or worked from a great source. It all used your perspective as a viewer against you, beautifully.

    If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering what the point is right about now. Well, it’s not that I’m an idiot because I didn’t notice the difference between a vase and a water pitcher. It’s that thinking about that episode suddenly made me realize how trackbacks work and why people get huffy about them. Until April, I just read blogs. I didn’t have one. So I’d read a popular site, and there would be trackbacks attached to a post, and I’d think, Oh, some blogger wanted to let this person know he’d referred to this particular post, so he left a trail back to this here site I’m reading now. How thoughtful. And then sometimes, I’d see people get steamed up and be like, “I hate when people track back without linking my post on their site!” and I had no idea what they meant or what could be bad about it.

    I swear, it was thinking about that Furuhata episode, with the smug murderer suddenly realizing how he’d incriminated himself by saying the word 花瓶 (kabin, “vase”), that made me suddenly realize my perspective was wrong. You use trackbacks to get people from the site you’ve pinged to come back to you. As sure as I’m sitting here, I just figured this out thinking about a rose in a water pitcher on a television show. Because I’m stupid.

    And now I feel as if I’ve been blogging without a license, or something. Since trackbacks seemed to get people so burned up–for reasons I couldn’t fathom, remember–I made a practice of only putting one in if I’d corresponded with the person I was linking. A few times, I linked a post of someone’s and deleted the URL from the “Ping these sites” box, figuring that using a trackback on a stranger put me in danger of committing a rudeness without knowing…like some kind of excessive intimacy, you know? But every so often, MT would ping the linked site anyway, even after I deleted the URL. And then I’d spaz and hope I hadn’t somehow offended the site owner. I guess it’s okay, though, because I’ve always linked whenever I’ve sent a trackback.

    Um, right? That’s okay? I’m not trying to…what would you be trying to do by tracking back without linking? stealing readers, or something? I’m clearly too much of an airhead to figure this stuff out myself.

    And I haven’t dyed my hair blond for a good three years, even.

    2 Responses to “It’s a good thing I’ve found a good man to take care of me”

    1. “Columbo” was my favorite detective show ever, pricisely because he did things like that “vase” trick.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Okay, so was that the solution on one of the Columbo episodes? I kept racking (wracking?) my brain, but I couldn’t remember. Knowing what I know of you, though, I think you’d love the Japanese take-off. It’s very campy.
      Actually, one of the funniest episodes involved–no fooling–a supposed serial killer who left his taunting messages to the police written on little fortune cookie-type slips of paper in vials…shoved up each victim’s ass! In the climactic murder scene, they showed the killer politely yank the corpse’s trousers down and position the vial at the joyhole, before cutting away. I swear, I almost dropped my wineglass. I knew by then that you could show bare buttocks on daytime and prime time TV here, but “implied penetration” seemed like the sort of thing the Japanese censors wouldn’t go for. You just never know.