Thursday, September 3, 2009

Texts from Last Night, China style

To Gus, from one of his students: "The new teacher, Joan [sic], is he one of the relative of Phelps, the great swimmer?"

You may be getting tired of hearing about how many people say I look like Michael Phelps, but I promise you're not as tired of it as I am.

Yesterday we offered our first weekly English corner, where students can come to speak English outside of class in a low-pressure environment. Yesterday's topics: Route 66, Lady Gaga, the Tennessee Titans (my students claim that this is a football team; I am dubious). Some students have much better English than others, and one in particular likes to use his good English to cause trouble. We'll call him "Dark." One student was telling me about the American card game "Peanut Butter and Jelly." (Obviously peanut butter has become what Gabe Hudson would call a "trope.") This is evidently what some American children call the bluffing game "B.S.", but, as my student explained, they don't say "B.S." because it's a bad American word. Then:

Student 1: What does B.S. mean?
Me: You can ask a friend. It's not very polite.
Dark: Which is worse, B.S. or a B.J.?
Me: Dark!

Later, I asked Dark what sort of music he liked, and he said that he liked Gothic Metal, but also Guns N' Roses. He told me that he especially liked their last album, [making intense eye contact, making sure I understood] Chinese Democracy. You know, he said, Chinese. Democracy. Wink.


I told him I also especially liked Chinese Democracy because I really like blues riffs and power chords. [Wink.] [That's not true, by the way. I changed the subject, because you don't talk about Chinese Democracy unless you have an Appetite for Destruction. Ka-ching!]

[Hey, by the way: now that Chinese Democracy came out, dozens of hack op-ed writers will have to throw away the shitty lede they've been using for the past decade which compares the interminable production of Chinese Democracy to the actual political situation in China. I can't be bothered to look up an example now, but you know and I know that no one ever found that comparison illuminating.]

Someone also asked me to explain irony, which was sort of difficult, but I Used an Allusion To [ka-ching ka-ching!] Romeo & Juliet to illustrate dramatic irony, which I guess helped.

This afternoon we have office hours for the first time. I'm sure that lots of people will come, partially because I accidently said something about glottal stops during first period today before remembering that I was in China and not only do they not have glottal stops in Chinese but also no one cares.