So I was having a pretty good Sunday, but as I was cleaning up the kitchen, “probably going to vacuum” turned into “had to vacuum” as a wire-rack shelf above the sink for drip-drying dishes became detached and spilled its contents over the sink and floor. A few plates and glasses did not survive this descent. That was frustrating in itself, but my next-door neighbour had heard the clatter and came knocking at my door; as I turned to answer it, my foot caught another glass that had so far survived and kicked it into the ceramic-tile depression in front of the door where everybody else but me takes their shoes off* or stands to talk to me, thus finally smashing it, and it was one of my favourites.
* - I try my best to follow the rules in other people’s apartments, but as far as I’m concerned, when you’re in my apartment you’re in the Maritimes, and if you need to hike across the floor with your shoes on to grab something or other, go right ahead. (I mean, as long as they’re not dripping with mud or snow or anything.) Also, that little depression near the door isn’t nearly big enough to constitute a porch, so the kitchen kind of has to double as a porch, so I don’t consider the shoes-off zone, such as it is, to start until you get to the living room anyway. But I should stress that this is for my apartment only. Holy crap, the other night I wore my sandals over to another intern’s apartment and I had unthinkingly left my sandals on the edge of the kitchen linoleum instead of in the tile depression, and she actually criticized me for it.
I took it all in stride (what else can you do?), took some photos of the carnage, and then resumed cleaning up. As I was finishing the subsequent vacuuming, the final day of the New Year’s Grand Sumo Tournament came on.
Chief among my thoughts on the subject is the following: If you sit in the front row at a Sumo bout, you’re taking your life in your hands! A lot of the matches end in throw-outs, and while these Sumo wrestlers are a majestic sight to behold, they’re not a majestic sight you’d want to behold airborne and headed your way.
The final bout had the two Yokuzunas facing each other for the tournament trophy. They had both amassed 13-1 records. One of the Yokuzunas had been out of the ring for more than a year, and this tournament was his comeback.
The crowd went wild as they did their posturing – these wrestlers are, surprisingly to the neophyte, as flexible and graceful as ballerinas. They’re just an order of magnitude bigger. But if ballerinas regularly landed in the audience, the impact would be felt in increased ticket sales and not ER visits.
The match began; they rushed into each other, the younger fellow getting the upper hand early. The one making his comeback fought him off, almost successfully – at one point he had the younger one up in the air, ready to be thrown. But then the younger one found his feet, and tossed the older one. And that was that. The match lasted maybe a minute.
Now I’m watching NHK World Report, and the interesting thing is that they do a better job of contextualizing the news than our media does. They hit things from every angle – political, geographical, and economical. They’re airing an extensive report on the situation in Kenya right now, and it’s informative, interesting, and comprehensive, with lots of interviews and statements from people of all walks of life and all stations of duty. I dearly wish it were bilingual like the nightly news and foreign (e.g.: our) films and television drama are. Yes! If you’re watching an American show or movie, just hit the language button on your TV set, and most of the time you’ll be able to hear it in the original English! Someone must have realized that it’s a great way to attract foreign viewers with little additional cost (the original soundtrack is probably included when they obtain the broadcast media), and also a great way to help people maintain their English.
My particular television also has an interesting feature; if you desire, you can have it output both soundtracks. It’s a stereo TV, so one language goes to the left channel and the other to the right. You could theoretically share earbuds with a speaker of the other language and watch together, each person hearing their own language. This is far more elegant than forced dubbing and/or subtitles. (The Japanese seem to like subtitles; even when people are already speaking Japanese, they’ll air a clip from a statement while printing the text of the statement below. I can’t claim to know what that does for the Japanese, but it helps me reinforce the gnat’s ear’s worth of Japanese script that I know.)
[We do have a feature like this in the Maritimes, it’s called a Second Audio Program, but it is only offered on three cable channels – the Weather Network, CBC Newsworld, and CPAC. Only CPAC, the Canadian Public Affairs Channel, is bilingual – it’s the only channel we get that enables switching between English and French. The Weather Network gives a computer-voiced general and marine forecast while Newsworld carries Voiceprint, a newspaper-reading service for the visually-or-otherwise impaired.]
Alright, it looks like the bilingual news will be on in ten minutes, so I’ll be up-to-date again. By the way, how are the NFL playoffs going? I haven’t heard either hide nor tail of them, and when I’m online I’m too rushed to keep tabs on sports.
Sankanbi (parent’s day) is on Tuesday! If I survive this with even a shred of dignity, I think I’ll be able to survive the term and perhaps beyond. We’ll see!