Sunday, November 06, 2005

Yesterday's post

We're having a warm snap. This has brought mosquitoes back into our lives, determined to get one more feed of blood before the real cold weather arrives.

The warm weather is very nice. The mosquitoes are not.

We were woken early (for a Saturday, which is not very early) by a lot of crashing and banging across the road. We gave up our lie-in when it became obvious the noise was not going to stop, and eventually went out to do a little grocery shopping and so on. As we passed the neighbour's place we could see workmen putting the final touches on a new door. We stopped briefly.

"New door, eh?" said The Man (in Japanese, of course). "We wondered what the noise was."

One of the guys stared at me with an idiot grin and nodded repeatedly. It was a little disconcerting. The others ignored us. None of them seemed inclined to chat, so we carried on.

"Was that guy a bit ... backward, do you think?" I asked The Man, a little further down the road.

"Hard to say," said The Man. "He looked like it, but it might have just been because of you. You know, seeing a gaijin surprised him ..."

(Workmen drop IQ points when they see me. Ooh, the POWER.)

Later we had coffee at a coffee shop we don't normally go to. They were playing J-Pop, too loudly. J-Pop is, in my opinion (in both our opinions), the most horrible pop music ever invented. Sometimes I ask my students what kind of music they like, and 80 or 90% of them tell me they like J-Pop. I just DON'T GET IT. The singers are usually talentless, frequently off key, and the music itself is all the same kind of thing. It sounds like it was all written by one unimaginative songwriter with a very limited range of musical expression. (The Man tells me it mostly is, and that the guy is very, very rich.) To make things even worse, J-Pop is often full of bad English. (Ai rub yuuuuuu!) I would say it is boring music, except that it is too irritating. It is boring in the same way the sound of fingernails on chalkboard is boring.

After we came home The Man decided to have a nap, since the noise had stopped. The mosquitoes waited until he'd been asleep for a while before they attacked, in order to cause maximum exasperation. (I'm sure they do this on purpose.) He woke up grumbling, and I went downstairs and got a mosquito coil.

(Short sidetrack: A while ago in one of the 100-yen stores we bought some especially long lighters, the sort used for lighting gas stoves. One of these lighters turned out to have a couple of design flaws: It's hard to get it ignited, and it's hard to tell which end is which.)

I lit one mosquito coil, but we decided to break it and put one bit in the bedroom and the larger bit by the window in the hall. The Man broke the coil and picked up the long lighter. He tried to light the other bit of coil, and as usual the lighter was difficult. He persisted, and eventually succeeded. I could tell because a large flame shot out of the wrong end of the lighter and up behind his elbow.

It was REALLY SURPRISING. He collapsed in a heap, shouting and throwing the lighter in the air.

It took me a while to stop coughing. (I still have a cold, and laughing makes me cough.) I wiped my eyes, gasping and holding the door frame, and The Man glared at me.

"That was DANGEROUS!" he informed me indignantly, but I could see he was having difficulty keeping a straight face.

"It was also really, really funny," I said.

Later, he made a truly awful Japanese-English pun.

Recently I read in a language teaching journal that Japanese has only 108 phonemes. (English has 1808.)* Punning in Japanese very, very easy. We pun all the time, and in my case it generally by accident. In fact it takes real genius to AVOID making puns, and this is why I told The Man that I thought his lighter trick was funnier than his pun. Anybody can make a pun in Japanese, but how often do you get to see somebody shoot flame out their elbow?

*I don't know if this is accurate. The writer of the article did not reference these numbers, and could have pulled them out of a hat for all I know.


The Friend said...

Yes it does work on Safari. At last I can confirm or dispute the odyssey of Eastern Europe. Oh what happy memories!

Wiccachicky said...

J-Pop IS awful. I'm sorry to hear it's still around. Wait, it's Japan - no I'm not. ;o)

Ms Vile File said...

That IS funny!

Interesting about the phoneme thing. When I was reading The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagun (sp?), it seemed all the people whipped out clever, punning haikus at the drop of an ink stick. I wondered at how they did it. I don't feel quite so inadequate anymore.

*P.S. Thanks for the book recommendation... I will look out for it..!

Pkchukiss said...

Am I glad to find out that I am finally normal!

I think that J-Pop is just loud noise, and my friends feel that I am abnormal, since J-Pop is one of the hip things to listen to in town now-a-days.

It feels great not to be a freak to hate J-Pop!

Badaunt said...

my friend: Yay, you're on! BEST HOLIDAY EVER. We're doing it again, right?

pkchukiss: J-Pop is APPALLING NOISE. It is not tuneful. It is not harmonious. The singers are dreadful. Sometimes they look good, if you have the sound turned off. Then you turn the sound up and it is torture to anybody with any musical sensibilities AT ALL.

You are, indeed, perfectly normal.

Ms Vile File: I guarantee, if you started learning Japanese you'd be making brilliant puns by the second lesson, WHETHER YOU WANTED TO OR NOT. It's the most irritating thing. Every time I open my mouth a pun drops out.