Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What a week!

Between a tight deadline, helping Asterisk move to it’s new space and discovering that I not only needed a new tire but a new rim as well, I barely had time to see the Handsome Family, let alone blog. Well, in spite of the heat, this week promises to be a bit easier so let’s get started!

In a previous blog, I promised to post some of the audio I collected for my senior thesis, What is Animation? This is not that post, but I promise it will follow shortly. For now, you’ll just have to make do with a nostalgic entry.

As you know by now, dear reader, I taught English in Japan which, by the way, is a great way to squander two years of your life. I was what is called an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) at Kannari Junior High (in fact, for those who can read katakana, they've actually labeled my apartment complex now on Google Maps: it's called Rainbow Heights (or haitsu reinbo) and is right next to the school soccer field). The textbook we worked from was the very popular (in Japanese English classes, that is) New Horizon books. When I left Japan, I managed to smuggle one of the books out with me.

This one’s for the san-nensei class (a.k.a - the 9th graders). Inside are loads of dialogue based lessons aimed at teaching the kids phrases like “How long have you…?” and “It’s difficult for me to…”

It also has several stories that the kids are encouraged to memorize and repeat back to me for a grade at the end of the year. Most of them are stupid…

A few are horribly depressing…

And some are both…

In fact, there was only one story that ever caught my attention as being even remotely clever. Titled The Hole, it was found in the ni-nensei book (which, sadly, means I don’t have a copy of it) and told the story of a young man who discovers a hole in his backyard. No matter how much garbage he throws in the hole, it never fills up. As a result, it becomes a new town dump and in a matter of months, the small town has become a huge, immaculately clean city. Then the twist: one morning while outside working a stone falls from the sky - the same stone the man threw in the hole months ago to see how deep it was.

Apparently, this is a ‘well-known’ story. Or at least, that’s what my JTE (Japanese Teacher of English) Mutsuko-sensei told me. I’d never heard of it before. Since then though, the tale has popped up repeatedly in the most random and wonderful of places:

That’s one of the great things about learning new stuff: it helps you appreciate brilliance even more when you come across it.

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