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. V

I never thought my brain would be engaged while watching FAST 6, the fifth sequel in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise, but damned if it wasn’t anyway.

The plot isn’t worth going into but in one scene, a group of criminals is about to steal some military equipment. Here’s the establishing shot with the dateline.

Fast 6 NATO base

My inner Annie Wilkes reared her head and screamed, “There’s no cockadoodie Lusitania in Spain!”

But there was a ship called the RMS Lusitania which I know about from war movies. It was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sunk, killing almost 1200 people. I thought that it was important (historically speaking) due to its being connected with the cracking of the Enigma code, but as that code was used in WWII, I probably conflated two separate boat-sinking-in-war time events.

Another bugbear

Earlier in the film, characters and another establishing shot claim that Interpol is based in Moscow which was pretty annoying. The actual headquarters is in Lyon which I know almost entirely because of its location right by one of my favorite movie theaters. The building is so nondescript that every time I showed it to people, they thought I was joking. The actual Interpol looks like a stock photo of a government building which I think is really clever. Hiding in plain sight.


And just to get my last dig in for the day, I find it funny that the big heist at the center of the movie takes place in Spain where incompetence and apathy rule. If I were going to steal something, I’d totally do it there too.


Interesting Iberian Information, Vol. IV

medievaltimesAnother feather in the cap of Spaniards: one of my countrymen is responsible for bringing the concept restaurant Medieval Times to America. Here’s an email from my best friend (all punctuation his), breaking this shocking news to me:

apropos of nothing: i went to a surprise party at MEDIEVAL TIMES last night. i kept thinking, “jesus, americans are absurd people.” and then i got to reading the fake bios of all the knights  — and they all had spanish names. i did some research on the way home and learned that the whole medieval times thing is a SPANISH concept. imported to the US by a guy called javier romero who staged jousts on majorca.

There’s even evidence in the paper of record that this is true. Under normal circumstances, I’d be disappointed or embarrassed by what a pathetic claim to fame this is, but I’ve actually met and lived among Spanish people and I’m guessing that if they know this, it’s something they boast about.

Worse still, Hollywood has decided that there needs to be a movie about this chain of “family dinner theater” establishments. As we say in Iberia, ay Dios mío.

Leave a comment

Interesting Iberian Information, Vol. III

I was watching Bravo’s “Around the World in 80 Plates” (a cooking competition show) and couldn’t believe that I learned something. Worse still, I learned something about Spain. On Bravo.

I’d argue the “centuries ago” part since I distinctly recall empanadas in Galicia being pie pieces as recently as when I lived in Spain (2005). This doesn’t really count as “centuries ago.”

Learn Something

Spain is a country twice the size of Oregon. Galicia is the part which is above Portugal. It is also one of the three provinces which has an active separatist movement. You may remember it from such news stories as the Prestige oil spill in 2002.

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

Interesting Iberian Information

The Romans named all of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain + Portugal) Hispania. The modern name España evolved from it.

The three provinces were Tarraconensis, Baetica and Lusitania. The latter was the namesake for the RMS Lusitania which was torpedoed by a German U-boat in WWI on May 7, 1915. Prior to being enlisted in the war effort, the Lusitania was a luxury liner with service between the UK and the US. The former seems to be Roman for “known lands” though I can find no corroboration for this. Baetica had been Moor territory until the Romans took over and started ruling over everyone.

Santiago (aka James, aka Jacob) was one of the Twelve Apostles. He’s also the patron saint of Spain where he’s been known since the mid-15th century as Santiago Matamoros [James Moor-killer] since one of his jobs is to defend Catholicism against all its enemies which includes just about everyone. Killing in the name of Jesus has a long and glorious tradition in Spain.