Le cul entre les deux chaises

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

Leave a comment

Interesting Iberian Information, Vol. II

Spain claims to have invented many things, including the lollipop, the mop and foosball (table soccer/football). I don’t buy those stories, but this one seems like it might be true. The cigarette originated in Spain.

The homeless and gypsies (before they were called Romas) used to work the docks unloading all the booty from the New World. Small tobacco leaves often “fell” out of the packages and the workers collected them and rolled them in rice paper. They called the creation cigarillos since the final product looked like a cigarro (cicada).

Even if it’s not true, it’s an interesting image to ponder, especially if you’re trying to quit.


Leave a comment

Unexpected happiness

For the past few years, one of the things that’s made me really happy has been Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review, the podcast of the BBC 5 show. I eagerly await the availability of each week’s episode and am incredibly sad when they go on holiday and I have nothing to look forward to. If you like movies, pedantry, silly inside jokes or weird insight into British culture and sport, I can’t recommend this podcast enough.

Mark Kermode (the film guy who’s easily riled) reviewed What to Expect When You’re Expecting last week (he thought it was pants) and got into a discussion with Simon Mayo (the presenter/sane half) about the book on which this filmed abomination was based. Simon said he’d never heard of it and that he learned everything he needed to know before the birth of his children in an “anti-natal class.”

Of course, I realized less than half a second later that he’d said “antenatal” but I would prefer a world in which things like anti-natal classes exist. (I don’t like babies).

This made me think of one of my ex-roommates, who I call China Pig for reasons that I may go into some other time. When I moved in with her, I didn’t know that she was an incredible slut, basically sleeping her way around Barcelona trying to find some guy to marry her.

I think one day we were talking about how my BFF got knocked up which led to a general discussion about pregnancy (I’m also opposed to this) and babies in general (I seriously don’t like them) and the possibility of motherhood (I vote no), etc. During one of my little rants against unplanned pregnancy, she said something like, “Oh, I totally agree. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to take an anti-baby pill.”

It turns out that, at least among a certain group of Spanish women, RU-486, aka mifepristone, aka The Morning After Pill, is known as “la pastilla anti-baby.” Even I found this to be incredibly crass, which isn’t easy since one of the things I really like about the word crass is that it has “ass” in it which I find appropriate and amusing. Given this, China Pig was a total nightmare, but at least she had the decency (selfishness) not to inflict more of herself onto the world. For that I am thankful.

Leave a comment

Blast from the past

Very close to the set I had at the time

Came across a list of weird things I discovered after I’d unpacked the three suitcases I initially brought over to Europe with me in 2005. The stress and the heat in DC that summer conspired to make me include some truly weird items and over-estimate my need for others.

  • 10 pairs of shoes
  • 8 plastic iced tea glasses
  • 8 pairs of jeans
  • 6 pairs of yoga pants
  • 4 almost empty tubes of toothpaste, 3 new
  • 3 rolls of toilet paper
  • 1 packet of Day-Quil

Whatever this partial list says about me, I don’t think it’s good. Thankfully, I can say that the Current Me would no longer include most of these things.


The Grey (2011)

Caught up with The Grey recently, which is the movie where Liam Neeson kicks some wolves’ asses. It was a pretty big hit when it came out so I was surprised by how little I liked it. The marketing led me to believe that it was like Liam Neeson’s previous ass-kicking title, Taken, which featured significantly more butt whooping.

If any of the movie had been fun, I would have forgiven its language failure, but given nothing else interesting to latch onto, I’ve got to call it out on its bad Spanish.

At one point, Liam’s position as number one bad ass among the survivors of a plane crash in Alaska is challenged by a fellow passenger. “Nomass,” he says, rhyming with a Colorado ski resort. I didn’t really understand how this comment could make the other guy back down until a later scene pans across the sleeping group.

The guy in question had “no mas” tattooed on his neck. This is odd because apparently he was Hispanic (which wasn’t made clear earlier in the film) as well as illiterate since the only way to spell this phrase meaning “no more” is as no más, with an accent. Also, it’s not even remotely pronounced like Snowmass.


In Spanish, “illiterate” is analfabeto, meaning “without alphabet” which is kind of lovely except it always makes me think of Dr. Tobias Fünke’s profession.