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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Too short for the Star Wars universe

Well, I always knew I was too short for a storm trooper, but I’m apparently too short to talk STAR WARS with French nerds too.

Star Wars hostess job

First “qualification”: must be over 1,68 m tall (5 foot, 6 inches).

This is kind of a bummer because I’d actually really like to see what a bunch of French sci-fi fans are like but would only attend such a gathering if I was working.

On not actually being a nerd

My parents didn’t love me so I never had any STAR WARS toys growing up. I am a child of the 80s though, so I love me some Degobah system references and was one of those people who saw THE PHANTOM MENACE multiple times in the theater because I couldn’t believe that what I’d seen the first time was the actual movie.



In college, I met whole communities of nerds while working at a video store and learned that they’re generally very nice, socially awkward guys with whom I share a lot of interests. But I am missing that elusive characteristic (obsession? total immersion? loneliness?) that makes a true nerd, so I have to content myself with just being really, really into stuff (like ASOIAF).

I am the right size to be Salacious Crumb though, so that’s something.


French Bandstand: Gaëtan Roussel – La simplicité

OrpailleurThere’s something about Gaëtan Roussel… I don’t know how he does it, but he basically tapped into my brain’s musical pleasure center and took all of the things I love and made another damn song I can’t get enough of. <<La simplicité>> is the first track off last year’s <<Orpailleur>> and it’s essentially the best.

Here’s the chorus:

Ça parait toujours avoir existé / It appears to have always existed
Des heures entières à la chercher / Whole hours spent looking for it
A tenter de l’apprivoiser / Attempts to tame it
Ça parait toujours avoir existé / Appear to have always existed
La simplicité / Simplicity
C’est rien mais c’est si compliqué / It’s nothing but it’s so complicated

I quite like the video too, which isn’t usually the case. Despite being part of the first MTV generation, my parents didn’t love me so I never had cable and, possibly as a result, music videos kind of detract from a song for me. Nothing ruins the pictures in my head like actual pictures. But, as I said, this one’s nice — all graphic designs and patterns — and reminds me of the great, great Chuck Jones’s animated take on “The Dot and the Line.”

Annoying to me

One of the maddening things about <<La simplicité>> is that it features a repeated noise in the background that sounds like a phone ringing. There should be laws against this as it’s totally distracting and could cause all kinds of accidents.

DEADWOOD's one of the few shows that continues to grow in my estimation.

DEADWOOD‘s one of the few shows that continues to grow in my estimation.

Learn a thing?

An orpailleur is a gold miner or a person who pans for gold. I don’t immediately see the connection between the album title and the songs, but I’ll go back with a more critical ear and see if I can rustle something up. Regardless, I now have a chance to post a pic of the always-excellent Jim Beaver as the wonderful Mr. Ellsworth on DEADWOOD.


Word Enemy: ménage

Word Enemies are words that cause me problems because they’re bastards. Specifically because they either exist in two or more languages I speak and have different meanings in each or because they have multiple meanings which aren’t necessarily obvious to a non-native speaker.

Everyone knows what a ménage à trois is. At least all Americans do and I’m not sure why. I took French for five years in school and lived en famille twice and I certainly didn’t learn the phrase there. Also, since my parents didn’t love me, I never had cable TV so this was clearly something I learned “on the streets,” though my streets were all well-tended and predominantly used by mid-price foreign vehicles.

I bring this up because the first time I heard “Mon manège à moi” I thought the title was “Mon ménage à moi,” which made no sense. “My [something sexual] to me/myself”? Of course, now I’m a total expert in all kinds of ménage-related business because the word comes from the Latin for “house.”

If you’re moving house, that’s déménagement. If you’re cleaning house, that’s faire le ménage. If you’re watching a popular French comedy about different couples and the problems they have, that’s “Scènes de ménages.” (They just had their 2000th episode. Two thousandth. It’s très popular.)


Learn something

Just because you think you know what a word means, you’re not always right. My dictionary lists ten primary definitions for ménage and more than a dozen idiomatic expressions related to ménage and that’s before getting into different forms with prefixes and suffixes. Fais gaffe lest ye make a gaffe yourself.

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Great eggs

I didn’t grow up eating eggs ’cause my mother didn’t love me. Actually, she claims that she never made them because she had some traumatic egg experience a long time ago, but the fact remains that it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I ate a plate of eggs.

My boyfriend at the time made them for me and I was really apprehensive since he was trying to impress me and I didn’t know if I liked eggs. Generally if I don’t like something, I’ll just spit it out, even if I make it myself, but I knew that his ego wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of rejection.

Fortunately for us both, I thought eggs were great. After that, I went on kind of an egg overload and tried cooking them all different ways to see which was best and discovering along the way that eggs go well with just about everything on the planet, meaning I totally agree with their incredible status.

Since those early days, I’ve settled on a few different ways to prepare my eggs at home and have been perfectly pleased with them.

Until I discovered Gordon Ramsay’s eggs. I was looking for info about Soccer Aid 2012 (don’t ask) and somehow ended up watching this video.

Holy shit are these good eggs. I made them last week, changing some things around. I only used two eggs and ate them in a baguette which I’d torn open and melted some cheese into. There are my new Go To Eggs. I want to eat them all the time.