Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

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I don’t know what I was reading, but I stumbled upon a link to a 1992 clip in the New York Times that explained where the word “hello” comes from, and I didn’t buy it. From my Simpsons-watching, I knew that “ahoy” had once been in the running as the standard telephonic greeting, but surely the word “hello” had existed prior to its adoption as step one of proper phone etiquette.

A quick search in my dictionary says that it’s derived from the 16th century word “holla” which comes from the French “holà.” This made my brain explode in several directions at once. First, seeing it like that, it’s clear that the Spanish word “hola” comes from French. Second, “” means “there,” so it actually translates as “hey there.” Third, like so many things in life, I was reminded of The Princess Bride and the scene when Inigo is drunk in the Forbidden Forest, “waiting for Vizzini.” A member of the Brute Squad comes upon him and says, “ho, there!” which isn’t that remarkable, except that I always thought there was a secret joke slipped in here. Inigo’s reply is either, “keep your ‘ho, there'” or, as I suspect, a little bit of wordplay since Mandy Patinkin‘s Spanish accent makes it sound as if he says “joder” which is Spanish slang for, as the Real Academia Española says, “to practice coitus.” My interpretation is that Inigo’s saying, “go fuck yourself” and no one, especially not the MPAA, was any the wiser.

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Games I play

I am always thinking. About everything. All the damn time. It’s one of the many odd compulsive behaviors I regularly engage in, and it’s pretty annoying. Lots of times, the questions upon which I cogitate are totally random, but I do sometimes intentionally think about stuff, like trying to accurately recall what the real world version of things would be. Take this sign that’s in every Metro station:

The gist of the message is clear enough. An actual translation would be something like “Public Access Prohibited DANGER,” but you’d never see a sign like that in any subway. It would say “Do Not Enter” or maybe “Authorized Personnel Only.”

Many times, my thought process is aided by random stuff, like Alias’s unfortunate fourth season and how irksome, yet memorable, APO was. That gets me thinking about how I used to love Michael Vartan and how I totally need to meet a guy who speaks French and American (totally not the same as English).

Then I go off on tangents about Americans vs. Brits and try to remember if it’s “Brit” or “English” that you’re supposed to call them to avoid offence since Scottish, Welsh and Irish aren’t necessarily the same thing. Then I get annoyed ’cause after so many years surrounded by people from the UK, I still can’t get it straight and I also now spell shit wrong, like offense, which in American English is with an “s” but which is now added to the list of other words that I second guess myself on like “travelling.” (See? Guessed wrong.)

I have no idea what purpose, if any, this game serves. Best case scenario is that I develop greater mental acuity, preventing all those bad things that happen when you get older like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Worst case scenario: when I’m older, I won’t forget anything and won’t be able to stop thinking about everything. All the damn time.

[Not everyone is a language obsessed weirdo like me, so here are some other games people play.]

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Let’s go to the movies!

My local theater is doing a “Kubrick” retrospective. I’m using quotes since I’m guessing they don’t want to get sued. Of course, it’s entirely possible that this movie is about the Undersee Hotel or a place where they don’t like definite articles.

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Pop Musique: Lana Del Rey

I heard Lana Del Rey on the radio here for the first time on Tuesday, which surprised me a bit since she just blew up (though one could argue she imploded) over the past couple weeks. It’s still not clear to me why the Internet hates her so much.

Since I don’t follow music news at all, when I saw her name on some sites I read, I figured she was a new pseudo celebrity that I needed to avoid. When it was announced she’d be a musical guest on SNL, I became a little interested.

Now, I’ve been watching SNL pretty steadily since the early 80s, setting VCRs to record during the years when I was consistently out on Saturday nights, and I can’t recall a single time I was impressed by the musical act. As a general rule, I watch about five seconds and then fast-forward. When Coldplay was on a few years ago, Chris Martin jumped off the stage and ran around the studio a bit and I remember thinking, “wow, that’s a really shitty venue for a music show.” It’s no wonder there’s never any energy; the audience is basically trapped in their seats and are too far from the stage.

Still, I listened to some of Lana Del Rey’s songs on the YouTubes and I didn’t find anything wrong with them. In fact, “Blue Jeans” reminded me of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, which to me = good. Their voices are only so-so, but the songs are fun and have a good beat. In a time when Pop Idol/American Idol contestants and songs from that shit show Glee regularly top the charts and people with actual pipes (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry) mask their voices with processors and dumb outfits, I’m glad to have something that’s actually fun to listen to.

ETA: WordPress wants me to link to the Wikipedia page for “VCR.” Have we seriously come to this?

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Our Tex-Mex

From the menu of a national pizza chain.

What I love is that, of the six items listed, not a single one is in any way “Tex” or “Mex.”

For those who don’t know, chicken nuggets (in their current popular form) were inflicted upon the world by McDonald’s in 1983; chicken wings (aka Buffalo wings) originated in Buffalo, New York; onion rings don’t seem to have a cool origin story; mozzarella sticks are clearly an Italian-American creation placing their point of origin in a town with a significant second-gen population; steak fries and French fries, while sometimes appearing alongside a burger in a Tex-Mex place, still don’t qualify.

For the record, I prefer New Mexican style food if I can’t get straight Mex. Anita’s forever!