I refrained from replying to S’s inexplicably light-hearted text message. But the next day, I received a follow-up message: “You’re not mad, by any chance, are you?”
I decided I should refrain from speaking to her ever again, reasoning that her safety was at stake but actually more concerned for my own. As evening fell, I received a direct call to my cellular. I glanced reluctantly at the screen. It displayed a giant Japanese equivalent of an S, the rest of her name following like the proverbial stalker following the proverbial me.
“Uggh,” I shuddered, hurling the phone into the garbage bin. I stared at the bin until the ringing stopped.
I immediately second-guessed my rash action on account of the phone not being burnable waste. You have to understand that the town of Tajimi, Japan had very stringent waste disposal regulations, as dictated by the iron-fisted town mascot, the Unagappa, in a massive, forty-four-page PDF document.
S sat rigid at the well-lit bar, surrounded by young men and women enjoying the placidity of each other’s company. All seemed subtly aware of her smoldering, deathly presence, allowing her an exclusion zone two-and-a-half meters in radius. But precautions be damned for the man with a penchant for pain. Radiation suit off, I approached her.
At roughly midnight, we arrived back at my apartment. My Kiwi friend decided to stay the night at my place to avoid a cumbersome walk home. Just before he went to take a shower, I received a phone call. It was S.
“Did you really. . . believe my story?” She spoke in Japanese. Her voice wavered.
“Well yeah, why wouldn’t I?”
On the other end of the phone, S let out a terrible wail. She wasn’t just crying–she was bawling.
A wise or more occupied man would have stopped frequenting the BL at this point. But roughly two weeks later, I went back, for lack of a better idea. I’m proud to say that it was not in forbidden anticipation of once again encountering S, but rather in spite ofthe possibility of. I’m pretty sure.
The day was the vernal equinox, I believe, which in Japan is a national holiday. My Kiwi friend and I were out drinking “bears,” as he called them, at a gaudy but hidden burger joint called Honey’s Diner. It was one of the few places open on the holiday, but two drinks in, they were closing shop.
“Could sure go for another round,” my friend said. “Any places around here gonna be open?”
“Eh, I guess there is this one place, but. . . if we run into any familiar faces, I’m counting on you to bail me out of a situation.”
The next time I went to BL, she was there. She perked up as I entered and explained that she’d been waiting for me to show up. She was alone again. Again it was mango juice. I’ll admit that I’d half expected all this. I’ll also admit that I was struck by a faint flashback to about five different late-’80s and early-’90s Hollywood thrillers that I never saw. Was S to be my own personal Glenn Close? Surely she wasn’t far off. Dahaha. A little Glenn Close humor for you.
I returned to my home in the unremarkable town of Tajimi with a newfound love for beautiful, traumatized Hiroshima and a disgust for something I couldn’t quite name. Not for a specific person or government, but for something as simple and abstract as the concept of enmity itself. Naturally for the Bomb as well. I could still see the logic in why they chose to drop it and then drop it again, but could no longer see that logic as “justification”. How could you justify the mass cooking of a city filled with civilians? I love civilians. And the ones in Hiroshima, among other things, make the world’s best okonomiyaki. Also they deserve to live.
Last April, I participated in the Hotel Utah Open Mic Night and unleashed this smash hit upon the world to great fanfare. “R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-ai! Ai! ! Ai! Ai!” one person yelped.
I’ve always enjoyed playing this song and feel that it’s probably my most competent one, even though it’s also the most maniacal. Dahahahahahahahahahahahaha. If you were to sink my music into the trappings of a genre, perhaps “Manic Competence” would be the most flattering one I could hope for, if not “Melodic Scolding,” which is what I’ve been calling it up until now.
I feel that the formula for good songwriting lies in the aligning of two or more disparate sources of inspiration. Like, maybe you’ll take a visit to the desert one week, then kill a guy in a fit of passion the next. Boom, you’ve got a personal event to write about and an impressive setting from which to draw creative energy and poetic parallel connections and such.
[Man, adult life sure is busy sometimes–even when you hardly have any extracurricks! Anyhoo, let’s all just pretend this blog went up a week ago when I wanted it to, and that its content is still totally timely.]
So hey, here’s a way to get me to care for ten minutes about basketball.
Over the last week or so, my Facebook feed and indeed the internet at large have been all a-flutter with talk of “Lin-sanity;” that is, the state of being driven (clinically) insane by the adept performance of a man named Jeremy Lin, in the sport of basketball.
Ordinarily, Facebook posts about basketball would be like Mario Kart-style speed boost strips under my mouse’s scroll wheel, but this case has proven to be an exception due to the surrounding political drama, and plus I’m on a Trackpad over here.
There are some things in language that can only be seen via the written word and not heard via the spoken. This can be inconvenient when you’re caught without a pencil or have lost both your writing hands in battle with the enemy, but it also stands to reason, in the same way that a painting of an incident differs from a verbal description of that same incident.
The flexibility of the written word also allows the clever to do artistic things with writing, as illustrated in my previous posts by the Japanese examples of ate-jiand fake furigana. To summarize these two concepts for the lazy or overwhelmed, ate-ji is kind of like classy puns made of Kanji. Since you can’t “hear” a Kanji, they must be written. Fake furigana is like typing “read: [blank]” where the [blank] is filled with pointed lies instead of the actual correct reading of the tagged word. Example: “Rebecca is a woman (read: witch).”
So yeah! In my last post on the “unspeakable” foibles of language, I was talking about ate-ji. And then I finished. To summarize, they are kinda neat, kinda annoying, but often serve as a testament to a man or woman’s mastery of kanji. They’re kind of like puns if puns had dignity.
Today I want to talk about the other thing I mentioned in the last post–“fake furigana.”
So first I should probably explain furigana for the noob crowd. Basically, in Japanese you’ve got three writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are what they call “syllabaries,” which is kind of like alphabets, except that each character is a whole syllable, like ka or u or chi or go. Mastering the syllabaries is a simple matter of memorizing some 46 characters (each), which really isn’t that hard at all, given the distinctive vibe possessed by many of these characters; I swear, some of them just inherently look like the sounds they make. か is totally ka and there’s no unseeing it once you’ve seen it.