Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


Word Mystery: comic book / bande dessinée / tebeo

Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.

I didn’t read a comic book until well after college which is really weird because I read tebeos all the time growing up. Weirder still, comics and tebeos are the same thing but I never thought it was odd to have different reading material in different countries. See, I had two childhoods which existed independently of one another, something I didn’t realize until this past year.

In the US, I was a kid who rode bikes and went to movies and got hot lunch on pizza day. In Spain, I knew no children my own age, ate chocolate sandwiches for breakfast and spent long days talking to animals without another human in sight. In the former, I read books and MAD Magazine. In the latter, I read books and Zipi y Zape and Superlópez.

This is by far my favorite issue. I didn't realize until 2000 that it was a parody of The Fantastic Four and the Justice League because I had never heard of either of those things.

This is by far my favorite issue. I didn’t realize until 2005 that it was a parody of The Fantastic Four and the Justice League because I had never heard of either of those things.

EN → comic book — comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. ORIGIN late 16th cent. Greek kōmikos, from kōmos [revel].

ES → tebeoRevista infantil de historietas cuyo asunto se desarrolla en series de dibujos. [Children’s magazine wherein the stories are told through illustrations.] ORIGIN TBO, the name of a Spanish magazine founded in 1917.

FR → bande dessinéehistoire racontée par une série de dessins généralement accompagnés de textes. [A story told through a series of drawings, generally accompanied by text.] ORIGIN basic compound construction, drawn + strip.

→ Spanish wins today for being the most bonkers.

→ It’s interesting to me that bandes dessinées in France have always been culturally relevant and weren’t second class literary citizens like they were in the US for a long time. I think Watchmen (1987) ushered in the era of people talking about “graphic novels” which are things that grownups can read without shame. Here in France, that has never been the case and there is a lot of respect and demand for quality stories that are told in pictures.


They’re out to get me!

Finding a cute enough place mat to replace the one (which I’ve used as a backdrop to many pics) I bought in Barcelona many years ago had been one of my goals for this soldes season. C’est pas evident to get the right level of cute without tipping over into annoying or twee, but my search concluded with this découverte in the gift shop of the Pompidou Centre.

By PetitJourParis

Trop cute! (By PetitJourParis.)

The only issue I have with it is that it prominently features both a slug and a rabbit right in the middle of the scene. The coincidence is too great to not be part of a conspiracy against me.

Why are you tormenting me so?

Why are you tormenting me so?

Other “they’re after you?” scenes

→ Arya and Gendry in GAME OF THRONES S2E02

→ ALADDIN, a movie I watched every day after school for a year

→ When BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID are being chased by the Pinkertons.

This better be the last I hear about either of these creatures for a long time because I seriously don’t like them and am starting to take this personally.

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Pur legende

Lou Reed says that “what becomes a legend most is some bad champagne and foreign bottled beer,” but I think it must be a Tour de France t-shirt that says “100% Legende.”

Much merch,

Much merch.

Of course, Lou Reed is a genuine legend and I’m just a girl who buys t-shirts on the street during international sporting competitions, so what do I know?

Other things Lou knows

Not a legend? Tom Cruise.

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If you blog it, it will come

Remember when I was disappointed by bacon-flavored peanuts? Well, my continued faith in the concept was rewarded by the arrival of these Bacon Peanut Brittles in my recent American loot haul.

Just like the first time, this wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. For starters, the package says “brittle” which usually looks like this


but this stuff looks like this:

bacon peanut 3

So, more like FiddleFaddle or Poppycock (both of which I like because peanuts + caramel is always a winning combination) minus the popcorn and + bacon (BOOM! PIG!).

The ingredients are annoyingly vague (“spices”? Seriously?) but I can say that the final product was surprisingly spicy after an initial hint of sweetness. Generally, pretty good, though a tough snack to snack on since they don’t really go with anything and leave your fingers sticky and salty.

This being said, I had no problem polishing off an entire bag but that’s because I am a total glutton.

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Me estoy volviendo loca

The summer of 1982 must have been a rainy one on the farm. It was the only year that I remember watching any TV while visiting my grandparents and something must have driven me to the sewing room where the TV was mounted on a high shelf in the corner by the door, much too high to make for comfortable viewing. The house was located between the sea and a forest in a low valley off the coast so the reception wasn’t good. Not that it mattered; there was only one channel, TVE.

The best Spanish album of all time, imho.

The best Spanish album of all time, imho.

The weather really must have been dire as I spent many days, possibly a few weeks, watching la Vuelta a España, the Spanish version of the Tour de France. It’s the premier cycling competition in Spain and I might have forgotten all about it if it hadn’t been that TVE had chosen Azul y Negro’s “Me estoy volviendo loco” [I’m driving myself crazy] as the theme for that year’s race. It was used as the bumper music in and out of commercial breaks, was frequently the bed music under shots of cyclists riding and accompanied the commentators while they spoke. It was my first ear worm and I had to have it for myself.

That was why 1982 is also the only year that I remember making multiple trips to towns and cities. Normally, I would settle into my routine of running around in the woods with the dogs and taunting the pigs or the chickens and would ride in a car maybe six times total. Two of those trips being to and from the airport. But that year, I went along whenever anyone was going to a town big enough to have a record shop because only I could scat the tune well enough to hope that someone would recognize it, know what it was and put a copy of it in my hot little hands.

In retrospect, it’s good that I was both so young and am a sinvergüenza [shameless] because it’s not the easiest song to replicate with just your voice. It’s all electronic and TVE never used any of the parts that had lyrics so I would stand in front of people and launch into my imitation:

“do, do, do, do, do, do-do, PSH! do, do, do, do, do, do-do, PSH! do, do, do, do, do, do-do, do-do, do-do, do-do!”

Finally, one amused guy knew exactly what I was talking about and handed over a cassette of DIGITAL, the first (of two) Spanish albums I would ever buy in my life.

[I just watched the “official” video for the first time today and it’s so 80s, so Spanish and so bad that I won’t subject you to it. Instead, watch this version, oddly scoring scenes from Woody Allen’s SLEEPER for reasons I do not understand.]

Decades later, my mother sent me the double CD set reissue of Azul y Negro’s greatest hits and I finally retired the tape I’d lugged around with me almost my whole life. As soon as I got the CDs, I ripped the tracks and threw the whole thing onto my first iPod and hit the DC trails, riding to the best biking music that ever existed. Seriously. If you or someone you know loves to clear their heads while riding at a punishing pace, this is the soundtrack for them.