Thursday, November 30, 2006
Jawdropper, Showstopper, Collarpopper
Little Ma, the "rock star" of Zhangye, called me this afternoon for the first time in a while. He told me he wanted my help translating something that was in English. The idea of trying to translate Chinese for someone sounded exciting, although I was sure I was in over my head, whatever it was. That's him in the picture, which is from an earlier night at a dance club (and Gary can be seen doing what he does best in the background). When I arrived at his shop, there was an amusing scene: Little Ma and several of his friends hunched with furrowed brows over a big, fancy effects pedal for electric guitar, which had instructions and markings that were entirely in English. It was an elaborate, complicated effects pedal which would take me a couple of long afternoons in a basement to master even in English, so I wasn't of much use at all. Oddly, the Chinese for things like "flanger" and "effects parameters" haven't come up in my textbooks yet. However, I did get the chance to pick up a few useful guitar-related words along the way. I'm meant to go back tomorrow afternoon for practice, and then perform with his band at 3:00. I asked where the performance was, and he laughed and said at a jianlao, a word I didn't know. So, I looked it up in the dictionary: prison. Apparently a policeman invited him to perform there (he seems to know a lot of people). He also mentioned 1000 something-something which I didn't understand, and I can only hope he meant there would be one thousand inmates there. This should be interesting. I've been getting bored of his guitar shop, but maybe he's worth staying friends with after all.