On Japanese TV. I was flipping through the channels and happened upon a show about “eco housing.” The show featured a young lady showing two young men around a test village with eco adjustments like organic farming, using a French press to make coffee (to save paper filters), and an outdoor oil drum used as a bath. I’m not sure why an oil-drum bath is “eco” (I couldn’t see how the water was heated) but one of the young men immediately stripped naked right on camera (there was a modesty block on his family jewels), lowered himself into the steaming vat, and pronounced it “good.” There was also the normal Japanese TV show picture-in-picture feature that showed the panel of semi-famous, in-studio people watching and reacting to the show. I don’t know why the Japanese love to see other people watching the same show they are watching. Perhaps the audience members feel reassured when some pop singer looks confused/sad/amused about that which they too feel confused/sad/amused. After the eco demonstration, again, per normal, the show cut to the in-studio panel for discussion.

When the young woman took the men (sporting green jackets with embroidered “ECO” logos) into the organic greenhouse, she pulled up a turnip. She wiped it carefully on her pants leg and handed it to the comedian of the pair. Comedy-san took a bite of the raw turnip and thought about it for a moment. She asked, “Well, how does it taste?” And he deadpanned, “Like dirt. [Pause] 100% dirt.”

The three of them cracked up in the greenhouse (as did the studio audience and the panel). I sat very satisfied with myself that I had understood lame humor in Japanese. I’m giving myself small prizes for tiny victories: last night I gave myself a pizza. Then I watched my cooking show where I learned how to make a cold cream of fava and shiso soup. It was a full evening.

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