Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


Links Day

On this day, God said, “Let there be links!” and there was much rejoicing.

→ The most miserable US states, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. I admit that I’m disappointed that the state I grew up in is not number 1. Makes me think they didn’t collect enough data ’cause that place is the worst.



→ What would the world be like if ads were replaced by art? Pretty great, I’d say after looking over Etienne Lavie’s “OMG who stole my ads ?” project.  [h/t]

→ Apparently, everyone else in the world is washing their hands wrong. If I were still as germphobic as I was when I lived in the US, this would seriously disgust me. As things stand now, I’m just disappointed in you.

→ People have always (weirdly) been drawn to me, and Mike White (actor / director / screenwriter / AMAZING RACE contestant) may know why. He says he wants people to see him and think,

“Oh, he seems like he’s having a good time. Maybe he has the secret to something that I haven’t figured out.” 

(I’m totally not telling you the secret.)

→ National flags made out of each country’s typical foods. Warning: this will make you hungry. 

→ Jenny Lawson, blogger extraordinaire and author, is someone you should be reading. She’s funnier and more foul-mouthed than I am though we feel the same way about the Important Things In Life, like The Princess Bride.

“I used to think that it was a small sin to waste time rereading silly books you’ve already read. . . but then I grew up and realized that those things were the only things that mattered. . . I’ve decided to give up on caring about wasting time and, in doing that, I’ve suddenly saved so much time I would have spent hating myself for reading The Princess Bride for the 89th time.”

Amen, sister. 

→ British actors with fantastic voices reading aloud. They make even the poetry palatable. 

desmoinespolice→ Buildings that used to be Pizza Huts were featured on the great 99% Invisible podcast. I ate so many free pepperoni personal pan pizzas in buildings just like the one pic’d at right as RIF / Book It! rewards. I wish I could still get free stuff just for doing things I like. 

→ I don’t have tattoos because I think they’re a bad idea. My friends who have them all regret the decision to varying degrees, the most mild being, “I don’t really mind this one too much.” A column in the NYT Magazine nailed my issue with scarring yourself with colors:

“Getting a tattoo is a way for your past self to exert power over your present self.” 

Your past self is always an idiot compared to your now-self. Knowing this when you’re younger helps prevent mistakes in the future. This is the reason I’m not on Facebook.

Next Week

In honor of the Academy Awards (which are this Sunday), I’ll be doing all movie-related posts next week. I can’t keep track of basic holidays (or even my birthday) but I mark the Oscars and the BAFTAs in my calendar because those are important (to me). Priorities, people. We’ve all got them.

Leave a comment


Updates on stuff I’ve written and your comments.

→ In case you missed it, expatlingo asked me to expand a recent Word Mystery and I did. More about ways to bandage wounds here.

→ I frequently joke that the US started to go to shit after I left, but I do suspect that the lack of my patronage directly led to the end of Linens ‘n Things and Filene’s Basement since they were both stores that I went to monthly and rarely left empty-handed. Now, there’s a new building going up where the original Filene’s used to be in Boston’s Downtown Crossing and I wonder if the guy who ran a cart called Boston Red Dogs (the only grilled hot dog cart in the area) went out of business too.

→ I haven’t read any Junot Díaz yet (Pulitzer winner for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), but his place on my list moved up several notches when I saw this:

Junot Diaz quote

→ For the record: this motherfucker will not read a book that’s in Elvish because that shit is BORING. Also: We’re totally taking over.

→ Mavis Gallant is apparently going to be an annual thing. The destitute divorced Canadian writer who lived in Franco’s Spain and who I first heard about last summer is worth another look. Someone quoted in an Atlantic story about her work said,

“The first story I read is called ‘The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street.’ It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it changed my reading life forever.”

Even though I don’t generally like short fiction, I’ve picked up a couple of her books. The mentioned piece appears in a collection called Paris Stories, so I’ll clearly be starting there.

→ Coming across “jejune” recently, something struck me about the word and I dug a little deeper. Turns out that the modern meaning of “naive, simplistic, and superficial,” comes from the Latin jejunus [fasting] and that “without food” became “not intellectually nourishing.” There’s my old rabid friend! You won’t get by me so easily anymore! I’m onto your tricks.

→ Presented without comment: this Buzzfeed list of things that you love about America after you’re not living there. I will say #1, #5, #13 and #34.

→ While I was offline, so many fun things happened on the Internet, including this gem which will have me laughing forever:

the ham is melting, the turkey is suspended in midair, the salami is hatching from its own egg. why did we even come to the salvador deli.

→ After lots of soul searching, I have definitively decided that my favorite activity is sleeping because I can do all my favorite things while dreaming, like watch movies, eat yummy things and go on adventures. Imagine my astonishment at learning that sleeping could be even better! If I were, say, a sea lion, I could sleep with only half my brain while the other half was awake. This ability is called unihemispheric slow-wave sleep and I would do almost anything to have it. I could sleep while actually being productive which is what I will dream about tonight because that would be AMAZING.

→ Possible evidence that everything in the US really did go to shit after I left: nowhere I’ve ever lived ranked on this beer consumption index. Had I been around, I would have certainly impacted the results. New Hampshire may come as a surprise to people who don’t know that it was illegal in Massachusetts to sell alcohol on Sundays (boo, Puritans!). When I lived in a house full of men, someone always made the drive up to get provisions, so, in a way, I’m pretty sure that I *can* claim that first place ranking. [Ed. This blue law was changed in 2004 (yay, libertines!) so I’m back to being confused.]


Things I Did While I Didn’t Have Internet

→ Tried to remember the Greek alphabet. I got 15 out of 24 letters which is pretty good, especially considering that I never actually studied Greek. (It ain’t Latin.) Easily ten of them came to me by thinking of fraternities and sororities in teen comedies. Despite their poor academic standing, those Deltas taught me something after all!

→ Got a haircut. ‘Cause, you know, another year had gone by. (I think I need to schedule them in my calendar, ’cause I clearly need reminding.)

→ Started re-reading the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, (from which HBO’s GAME OF THRONES is adapted). I’ve gotten through 3949 of 4931 pages. There are so many hidden clues to stuff and connections to be made once you know where the story’s going. It’s even better than the first time!

→ Watched all the special features and audio commentaries on the first two seasons of GAME OF THRONES.

→ Re-watched THE SOCIAL NETWORK and then watched all the special features on the DVD (but not the two audio tracks because I can only take so much). David Fincher is one of my favorite directors.

→ LESSON: Physical media is still the best. I likely would have gone insane without actual things to keep me busy.

le guide vélo→ Pulled my bike out of deep storage and tuned it up following the advice in an awesome book I have, Le guide d’entretien de mon vélo by Peter Drinkell. I now know more words for bike parts in French than in English.

→ Got off my ass and actually rode the damn thing. It was awesome. The weather’s been ideal for biking, in the high 60s, low 70s.

→ Had my first dépannage and was able to fix it on the fly ’cause I’d read my book! Now I know to pull back on the galets by the rear cassette to put the chaîne back on the plateau! Tour de France, here I come!

→ [Cassette is the gears which explains where cassette tapes got their name. BOOM! Learning!]

→ Caught up on a podcast backlog of several months, clearing my external iTunes drive of weeks’ worth of audio. Of course, I’ll have over a month of episodes to listen to as soon as I’ve downloaded all the ones I missed, so this is kind of a wash.

→ Put all my summer shoes away in their original boxes and put those boxes in one big box labeled SHOES from which I pulled my fall shoes. There are few things I love more than fitting smaller boxes into bigger boxes, Tetris-style.

→ And, of course, I missed all you Internet people. Since I had visitors fairly constantly from July through the time my Internet connection crapped out, I’ll have to read what you’ve all been up to. I think I need a vacation just to get caught up on everything again!