Posted by: thezedword | November 9, 2008

The man upstairs

Based on all you’ve heard about New Zealand, whether it be through extreme sports magazines, Lord of the Rings ‘Making Of’ documentaries on the special features disks, or, heaven forbid, this blog, what music would you think our college-aged upstairs neighbor listens to?

If on the poll that is supposed to resemble an iPod you picked D, the Grammy-nominated product of the musical pairings of Shakira and Wyclef, you’d be correct.

This is your prize:

A cookie.

A cookie.

Since our house is old and the walls thin, we can hear everything that goes on in our neighbor’s flats. The people behind us aren’t that bad. The husband of the pair has a hearty, robust laugh that randomly bursts through our wall. That’s actually kind of fun.

Remember that scene in Apocalypse Now in which Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore has his solders perform psychological warfare by blasting Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries out of helicopters, then proceeds to bomb the banh cuon out of a Vietnamese village. Here’s a refresher:

The kid who lives upstairs, Andrew, has the speakers that were attached to those helicopters and enjoys turning them up to full eleven. It’s brutal. When I lived in the dorms at FSU, you could hear the neighbors music sometimes and it would just be a little bass and some muffled singing that sounded like the Swedish Chef. When Andrew has the music on, I can hear the lyrics crystal clear. Usually, a twentysomething male that plays music loudly blasts rap, metal, rock and/or roll. Not this Kiwi. He’s a maverick. He plays Shakira.

He also watches soap operas. At 7:00 every night, the most popular soap opera in New Zealand, Shortland Street, comes on. It’s a five-night-a-week, half-hour hospital drama with about 75 characters and more love triangles than Grey’s Anatomy. Compared to U.S. soaps, it has better-than-average production values, decent acting and surprisingly fluid writing. Granted, it’s forced sometimes, and last week’s storyline about the Maori daughter fueding with her uncle over whether to bury her father the “traditional” way verusus the modern way was a bit much and the actors were way over the top — even before the uncle stole his brother’s body … OK, I watch it. Sue me. I like my stories. That’s how I know Andrew is watching it too; some nights, about a half-second behind our TV, we hear the same exact silly drama coming from his TV.

Maybe, I’m approaching it the wrong way. As the brillant Dr. Stephen T. Colbert once postulated, my generation, Generation X-Nay, is one that tackles problems by blogging about them. I should go up there and watch Shortland Street with him. He could be a really charming guy.

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