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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The Endorsement: Tekserve

119 W 23rd St. @ 6th

119 W 23rd St. @ 6th

The situation: You’ve got a Mac and Macs sometimes get problems. Occasionally, they’re serious problems, like when my computer decided to freak the hell out and destroy years’ of data and all my iTunes metadata and basically stop functioning. Other times, your Mac just runs slow or makes a loud noise when the fan is on. Sometimes, your Mac just wants to get kitted out in the latest fashions or check out what kind of upgrades it can get.

The solution: The best place to do all these things is an Apple-authorized store called Tekserve in Chelsea in Manhattan. Sure, you could go to the real Apple Store where no one will be able to help you for ages and you’ll be jostled by all the tourists and youngsters and people just milling about. It’ll be loud in there too and you’ll probably forget an important question you had and leave none the wiser.

At Tekserve, you get a number and you sit in a little area and you’re called up in a reasonable amount of time. (You can also drop off and they’ll get in touch with you later.) The person who helps you will know just about everything you could care to ask. They will address your issue(s), give you options if serious work needs to be done and make sure you’re okay about every step of the process. They understand that you live on your computer now, that all of your life is there and they treat it, and you, with the care both of you deserve. And lots of times, they won’t even charge you.

And this can happen

I was there on a day ending in Y so I was wearing a purple coat, purple hat, purple glasses and was carrying a purple shopping bag. I’d stopped in to get my purple hardshell-protected laptop air-blasted ’cause it was making funky sounds. An employee walking behind the counter passed me, observed how insanely I was coordinated and said, “She knows what’s up.” I *do* know what’s up, but so does that guy.

The location can’t be beat

After servicing your computer, you can go to the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Who doesn’t want to have a legitimate reason to eat a ShackBurger?

Go here. Do it!

Go here. Do it!

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Happy Thanksgivukkah

jdate_fr

The day before I left Paris for the US I noticed ads like the one pictured at right all over town.

JDate, in case you can’t tell from their pretty straightforward logo, is a dating site for Jewish singles.

Days later, while in New York, I saw ads like the one below which alerted me to the confluence of events now known as Thanksgivukkah (since Americans will never turn down an opportunity to portmanteau).

Gobble Tov

People who can math have said that this is the first time in history that both holidays have fallen on the same day, though this is kind of a cheat since Thanksgiving didn’t exist as a nationally recognized date until 1863 and the Hebrew calendar isn’t as immutable as the Gregorian one (has been since 1582). Regardless, I won’t be celebrating either holiday for two simple reasons: I’m not Jewish and I don’t have an oven. (You totally need an oven for Thanksgiving.)

Turkey bread

In French, a turkey glougloute [gobbles].

Here’s hoping that next year I’ll be able to cook up a bird and some green beans and maybe get a fancy bread like the one I saw at Poilâne.

UPDATE: Man, I was really trying to avoid making more SNL references for a while but then HAIM, who appeared on my 2012 Winter Playlistreleased a cover of Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” first performed on Weekend Update on December 3, 1994, so I clearly need to link to it.


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Word Mystery: shower head / alcachofa / pomme de douche

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

Exactly like it happened to me. (Except it not being a bath. And me not being a man. Or Greek. Or bearded. Or super buff.)

Exactly like it happened to me. (Except it not being a bath. And me not being a man. Or Greek. Or bearded. Or super buff.)

Well, that was surprising. Not long after an exchange with Suzanne about what things they’ll find odd when they move back to Canada, I found myself a bit confused in an American shower because I’d unknowingly adapted to those European hand shower nozzle spray things. It was weird to realize that I’d have to turn my actual body around if I wanted to rinse off instead of moving the nozzle around me. A little difference, but one that I never would have expected to get used to since I really hated those damn things for a long time.

Then, like Archimedes before me, I exclaimed “Eureka!” when I realized that there was both a Euro Adapter moment and a Word Mystery just over my head like an idea bulb.

EN → shower head — a perforated nozzle that distributes water over a focal point of use, generally overhead of the bather. ORIGIN of shower: Old English scūr [light fall of rain, hail].

ES → alcachofaPieza agujereada por donde sale el agua de la regadera o de la ducha. [Holey piece from which water comes out in a watering can or the shower.] ORIGIN Hispanicized Arabic al-ḵaršūfa possibly from Pahlavi (Middle Iranian) *hār čōb [spiny stick].

FR → pomme de doucheElément, généralement arrondi, percé de multiples trous. [Generally round piece pierced by multiple holes.] ORIGIN Latin poma [fruit (plural)].

alcachofa showerSpanish Note: the definition given is the seventh of seven listed by the RAE. The first one is for the edible plant “artichoke” but once I learned that I showered under an artichoke every day, this definition became my favorite. If you look at one with this in mind, you can see how it resembles the cross section of a ‘choke.

Today’s Winner: Tough again today. I came into the WM already favoring alcachofa, but I hadn’t known that pomme, a much-used word in French, meant “fruit”. Then I imagined Richard Burton saying scūr (his reading of Beowulf is the only time I’ve actually heard Old English spoken) and I really like the sound of that…so I don’t know. Spanish, I guess? Other opinions welcome.

Since I apparently only reference SNL or Monty Python

It’s worth mentioning that Archimedes is the one who finally initiates the winning goal in the “Philosophers’ Football” sketch, easily my favorite football match of all time. It almost makes me feel bad for the Germans to lose so badly. (Just remember: Don’t mention the war!)

[Ed. The editorial board has determined that a FAWLTY TOWERS reference counts as MONTY PYTHON, so double negative points for lack of originality.]


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London Loot 2: It Came From Under the Thames!

A Cadbury sampler that looked like this recently made its way into my hands all the way from London.

Cadbury Snowman sampler

I was really excited because all of these chocolates have featured in at least one British story I’ve read, like The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole or the “Bridget Jones” books and I’ve always been mildly curious about what fictional characters fixate on. (General tip: Don’t read the most recent Bridget Jones — it’s dreadful.)

Anyway, with the exception of Easter-time Cadbury Creme Eggs, Cadbury hasn’t really made any impact on the US candy market and, after taking a bite of each of these things, I know why. America already has one crappy chocolate brand (Hershey’s) so they don’t need to import another one.

Crunchie: tastes like a Whopper (the malt ball, not the burger) but long instead of round. Decent but significantly loud.

Dairy Milk: very thin, totally boring regular milk chocolate bar. Comparable to Hershey’s in every (bad) way.

Caramel: the caramel itself was nice and appropriately gooey, but this Cadbury chocolate is just not worthy.

Crunchie: it certainly was. The chocolate surrounds a substance that looks like hard bath foam and tastes even less good.

Flake: this seems like a mistake invention like Teflon or Post-its. Unlike either of those two things, this needn’t exist.

Fudge: this almost gets a pass because I generally don’t like fudge.

Chocolate Buttons: nothing to recommend.

the noidIn conclusion: I don’t know what they’re all on about. Awarded this site’s lowest ranking, The Noid.


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All the cheeseburgers I ate in New York

The first one is my traditional first-meal-back Shake Shack Shackburger but I was so hungry, so tired and so excited to eat it (and the shallot-n-cheese covered hot dog) that the picture came out terrible.

2013 Shack Burger 1

The second was a fancier pub style burger at 67 Burger which was also covered in shallots.

2013 Burger 2

The third and fourth ones were also from the Shake Shack, all from different locations. Upper East Side was first, then the original and best spot, Madison Square Park, and finally the Upper West Side (the least good one).

A good cheeseburger is my favorite thing.

Learn how it’s done

It makes me sad that most non-Americans think that McDonald’s sells a “classic” burger. Even for a fast food chain, they don’t make good burgers (I prefer Burger King in that race) but there are many, many different kinds which you can read about here. Some of them are among the best things to eat in the world. I like griddle burgers — meat that’s seasoned and slapped on a hot flat-top, causing it to get a crusty sear on the outside and provide lots of nooks and crannies for cheese to melt into. Mmmm, melted cheese on meat.

Obligatory SNL link

C’mon! It’s a classic! For a historical note, the cheeseburger bit was inspired by Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern. When I was stationed in that city for three months, I worked near the location said to be favored by John Belushi.