there is water underground.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Gaijin Smash*

I was totally stoked (how california does that sound?) to read that my pal Aubrey posted with a line from Jesus "El Saviorrrrrrrr" Christ Superstar. I read that line, and the melody just came right back even though it's been ages since i've heard that soundtrack. Great music - but the bass player on the British cast recording is far superior to the US recording.

Right. In any case, I was cleaning up my hard drive recently in preparation for transferring all of my files to my new computer (which I have not yet purchased), and I came across a bunch of stories and anecdotes from when I lived in Japan. I was thrilled because I thought most of that stuff had been lost or corrupted when my hard drive crashed. I kept somewhat of a half-assed journal/diary during that wacko time, and reading some of that stuff brought back some fun memories... including this:

November 1999

The Japanese language is pretty different than ours. Aside from that whole "completely different character system" thing, they have sounds that English doesn't have... and vice versa. For example, the Japanese do not distinguish between L and R, resulting in difficulty for some Japanese people when pronouncing something like 'fried rice' or 'roller coaster.' Of course, it works the other way as well - English speakers have a tough time saying the sound in the Japanese language... it sounds like R and L pronounced simultaneously, and it took me about a year to be able to do it correctly. There's also no distinction between F and H, and the V sound just plain doesn't exist. Any Vs in English are pronounced as Bs in Japan.

So... my job is to teach English; more specifically my job is to help the kids pronounce their English words the way that a native speaker would. Given the above, it naturally follows that Japanese people would have a tough time differentiating the word "love" from the word "rub." Back in late September, I tested this with a few classes: I would stand facing the blackboard with my back to the class, and I would say either "love" or "rub." The kids then had to vote on which word I said. Aside from a few outstanding students, the kids relied on pure luck... half of them got it, half didn't. It was really funny.

That was September. It's now November, and I've done this a few times with the kids. They're really getting better at hearing the difference, which is very cool. However, I was at the supermarket the other day with Nick and Karen [two other teachers from the US] and I ran into some of my students. Nick and Karen teach junior high, and many of the kids that they taught are now in my classes. So we were all talking, and one girl said in English:

"Andrew-sensei, thank you for the love rub lesson."

(pause for effect)

I had some explaining to do. How dirty does that sound?!?!?! That's not the kind of thing that a 17-year old Japanese high school girl says to a 22-year old teacher. Karen and Nick are not gonna let me live that down. Jeez.

*I have to credit Az with the subject line... it's his term, and it's brilliant.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Remember, Remember the 8th of November

I was procrastinating this morning by checking out one of those "on this day in history, these things happened" websites. Felt it would be interesting to know what other important events happened on the birthday of Mike Rinke. So, without further ado:

November 8, 1938: The Nazis begin Krystallnacht. Off to a fantastic start.

November 8, 1977: Tara Reid is born. Shit. Two for two in the "suck" category.

November 8, 1994: The Republican party takes control of both houses of Congress. Twelve years later, the country says "what the fuck were we thinking??" and kicks them out with style.

November 8, 1793: The Louvre opens to the public. People are now able to see art that the French stole from the countries that they invaded.

November 8, 1895: A German scientist discovers x-rays accidentally. Superheroes caught on quickly and killed him.

November 8, 1960: John F. Kennedy is elected president. Mayor Quimby was only twelve years old, but he idolized Kennedy and found his true calling.

November 8, 1992: The fastest wheelie is performed by a Belgian motorcyclist who reaches a sustained speed of 157 mph on the rear wheel of his Suzuki. Unbeknownst to the driver, he would soon set another record for the largest splatter radius of blood and body parts.

November 8, 1656: Edmund Halley is born. In the 20th century, Bill Haley uses the widely accepted mis-pronunciation of Halley's name to complete his band, Bill Haley and his Comets.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I love my friends.

That's all I really wanted to say. You people (and you know who you are... chances are that if you're reading this, we've known each other a while) are the best that anyone could have ever hoped for.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I need help. Seriously.

This here’s a tale for all the fellas. I remember when, I remember when I lost my mind, I’ve flown over the cuckoo’s nest and I’m never ever coming back ‘cause we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little stone cold crazy. So take me down to the paradise city, where the streets have no name and the wild night is calling. Oooo-weee, de do do do, de da da da. Da da da, I don’t love you you don’t love me, so I had to kill her. She’d lost that lovin’ feeling, so I had to put her six feet under with the man in a box. Her life, in a nutshell, was too hard to handle, and anyone can see that nothing really matters… nothing really matters to me.

(verse two)

As I walk on through this wicked world, only the lonely people are strange when you’re a stranger. Everyone goes south every now and then; I’m goin’ down for the time… my friends are gonna be there too! Like a bridge over troubled water, I’ll be there for you when the night is cold and the land is dark and the moon is the only light you see. Take these broken wings and learn to fly over the rainbow, way up high. Up there, there’s so much room, where babies burp and flowers bloom, and you know every rose has its thorn.

(verse three)

I was born in a small town, but I’m movin’ on up to the east side of New York City, and everything is beautiful when you’re young and pretty. Life is a highway, and I wanna ride it all night long, rollin’ down the street smoking endo, sipping on gin and juice. I like cold beverages – a Malibu and coke for you, a G&T for me. When I was drinking when I was with you, living it up when the rent was due – how we gonna pay last year’s rent? This year’s rent? Next year’s rent? Rent rent rent rent rent! We’re not gonna take it anymore!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I've been putting a list together of things that 1) are facts and 2) I can't seem to get my mind around. They are random and wide-ranging.

1. The Mets blew it.
2. Bob Barker is retiring.
3. George Bush believes that I will go to hell when I die.
4. The first Simpsons episode aired when I was in 7th grade.
5. I'm starting to look at condos.
6. Evolution is still considered a theory.
7. My brother makes more money than me.
8. It is now professionally acceptable to use Google for research.
9. Paul McCartney is now 64.
10. I understand where Dilbert is coming from.
11. There is a kids' cartoon character called Captain Underpants.
12. For Halloween, Adam dressed as a kids' cartoon character called Captain Underpants.
13. Currently in production are Indiana Jones 4, Die Hard 4, and Rocky 6.
14. Next year we all turn thirty.
15. Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face, and the friend apologized to him.
16. Coca-Cola products occupy 3% of people's bellies.
17. There is no direct way to say "I love you" in Japanese.
18. Ol' Dirty Bastard is dead.
19. I have spent close to $900 on coffee in the past two years.
20. Prior to November 2004, I never touched coffee.
21. It was 69 degrees on Tuesday. It might hit 40 today.
22. We are all, in some way or another, going to Reseda.
23. The Klan still exists.
24. Paris Hilton is famous.
25. There's still a team called the "Redskins."
26. Mozart composed over six hundred pieces of music and died at age 35.
27. The largest snake ever recorded was thirty feet long.
28. Some people still don't believe that global warming exists.
29. There is more power in my laptop than there was on the Apollo spacecraft.