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

The benefits of Christmas in July

1. If you “celebrate” in July, you can take advantage of les soldes! I was able to get myself some fancy (much-needed) French rubber rain boots 50% off! I love a good deal.

2. It always bothered me in Hollywood movies when kids got bikes for Christmas. I never knew anyone who got one since giving a kid an outdoor toy when there are several feet of snow on the ground is cruel. If you get a bike in July though, it’s the perfect gift!

I got myself a new (second hand) bike to ride to work since my normal bike is way too nice to leave locked up outside all day. This one’s my color (purple!), from my decade (the 80s!) and weighs about 6 pounds (which is nuts!). It’s also genuinely français, so it blends into the Parisian streets. I lurve it a lot and have already gotten it new brake lines and am going to get it a new seat saddle and tires since they also seem to be from the 80s, which is less cool when safety and my butt’s comfort are involved.

My new baby

My new baby

Have a merry weekend!


Leave a comment

My first expat Christmas

My roommate's attempt at making me feel at home. He didn't know I hate Christmas. (Please note that the boxed jamón at left is almost as tall as the tree.)

My roommate’s attempt at making me feel at home. He didn’t know I hate Christmas. (Please note that the boxed jamón at left is almost as tall as the tree.)

I was in Barcelona and had no plan. I didn’t yet understand that EVERYTHING closed on holidays in Spain. I didn’t realize that even if people hated their families, they spent ALL NIGHT with them. I wasn’t prepared to deal with the total desolation of my neighborhood as everyone I knew went to their pueblos [hometowns].

I spent the evening with a couple friends, one of whom had a car. We drove up to Tibidabo, the small mountain range behind the city that seems like it wants to push Barcelona into the sea. There’s an impressive-looking church there, the Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón.

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón, Dec 2005

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón, Dec 2005

My friend, who is a professional photographer, offered to take my picture but didn’t like where I’d chosen to pose. I tried to explain that I wanted to be hidden. I told him that people who knew me would recognize the outline of my Russian-style hat since I’d had it for ages. He really didn’t want to do it, but it turned out perfect.

I can totally tell what clothes I'm wearing too.

I can totally tell what clothes I’m wearing too.

Everything was closed down, but the merry-go-round was creepily lit up and running. There didn’t seem to be anyone minding the place, so my thoughts immediately went to Scooby-Doo type scenarios. (There were probably two kids smoking pot in the bushes and watching the wheel go round and round.)

Maybe it was meddling kids who'd turned it on?

Maybe it was meddling kids who’d turned it on?

It was a weirdly peaceful evening. Excepting the lack of food options, it was pretty nice as far as Christmases go.


9 Comments

The greatest thing about Paris

Everybody loves Paris for different reasons. I’d guess most people like the art or the food or the fashion. Some might opt for the light or the architecture or the general ambiance of romance or loucheness. What I really love about the city is the movie theaters.

If you’ve ever lived in a Real City, you might have experienced something like this.* Every week, there are dozens of old movies playing all over the city. (To be fair, they are mostly playing near la Sorbonne in the 5è and 6è, an area filled with students and expats, but not exclusively.) You can check out the list of only English language movies and see what you’re missing out on, but if you love all kinds of movies, there are too many wonderful places to sit and worship at the celluloid altar, though the cathedral of cinéma is a good place to start.

Some of my favorite moments from the past year include:

→ Seeing FIGHT CLUB on the big screen again and hearing French people love the idea of space monkeys too.
→ Watching GOODFELLAS and hearing a young couple gasp and poke each other as actors they recognized from THE SOPRANOS came onscreen.
→ Hearing people titter during VERTIGO, highlighting both how old-fashioned and how sexually perverted it was.
The time I saw BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and you could hear people smiling practically during the whole thing.

But the best moment for me (so far), a highlight of the last five years of my life really, was seeing GREMLINS on the big screen for the first time in my life at the end of December. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, you may need reminding that, along with DIE HARD and LETHAL WEAPON, GREMLINS is one of the great Christmas movies of all time.

Probably the only time I will ever take my phone out during a movie.

Probably the only time I will ever take my phone out during a movie.

He deserved what he got for being a bigot.

He deserved what he got for being a bigot.

It’s another one of those movies that I’ve seen a million times and I quote it all the time but seeing it projected bigger than I ever had made it so much funnier and scarier and more impressive. The effects, which were mostly practical / in-camera ones (not computer-generated) still looked great and were convincing as hell.

But the best part of this best moment was an older French guy who was guffawing at all the xenophobic comments Mr. Futterman (Dick Miller), the hero’s grumpy old neighbor, makes. I’ve always been a big fan of Mr. Futterman’s character but it was so great to hear the very people he was railing against laugh at him. It made me crazy happy to see that we, the foreigners Futterman hated so much, got to have the last laugh.

And that’s what Christmas is all about.

* The only Real Cities of my connaisance are New York and London. Not even Boston counts, as much as I love it, since the only good old movie houses were all by Harvard which is in Cambridge. I was a member of the Brattle Theatre (the cult of Humphrey Bogart was born there), so I still went over the Charles, but I didn’t like it.


4 Comments

500th post!!!

I never thought I’d get this far. 500 posts. Freshly Pressed. Almost 20,000 page views. Over 1,000 comments. My post on bachelor cheese was linked on Reddit! What a year.

All of these impressive stats mean that it’s also the perfect time to announce that I’m taking a break for the holidays. Readership is usually down around Christmas / New Year’s and if I wanted to tell stories into a void, I’d just talk to myself (which I do anyway but which requires way less typing).

If I were a better American, I’d post again on January 2. If I were a better Spaniard, I wouldn’t post until well after January 7th. Since I’m just me, the ass between both worlds, I’m splitting the difference and will begin the new year with new things on Monday January 6.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite posts that you might have missed or would like to revisit. (If you’re a regular reader, perhaps you’d care to nominate a favorite and I’ll link to it too.)

→ Word Mystery: bleach. This one got lost during one of my no-Internet time periods, but I like it.

→ How rabbits and slugs tried to take over my life in 2013.

→ My sister likes yogurt (or whatever the hell it’s called).

→ Read scenes from my in-progress Spanish screenplay about how horrible Spanish people are.

→ The time I mentioned “Bananas in Pyjamas” gets lots of hits, as do many other entries in the Great Word series.

And if you’re feeling festive, here are some holiday thoughts from the Way Back Machine. Remember to keep your holidays shitty!

→ My favorite scatological Catalan holiday tradition.

→ Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein wish you a happy holiday season.

Finally, since I started doing this as a joke, here’s my official happy dance. (Click to hear the song, though you really don’t want to hear the song.)

peanut butter jelly time


2 Comments

December means time for Catalan shit!

I was very happy to receive the following photo from friends of mine who now live in Maryland.

"I can't wait to shit something good!"

“I can’t wait to shit something good!” thinks the caga tió

They’ve taking the Catalan tradition of the shitting guy that I shared with them to a new country, with a new generation (they’ve got two kids). I am very pleased that my teachings have reached this far.