Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


2 Comments

Word Mystery: hangover / resaca / gueule de bois

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

My first hangoverChalk this Word Mystery up to another one that would have possibly been better served posted on a different date. There are plenty to choose from, last Wednesday would have been a good one, but since I was on hiatus and am the worst at remembering holidays…

Well, there’s no time like the present so grab your favorite libation and take a swig after you’ve ingested some knowledge drops.

EN → hangover — a severe headache or other after effects caused by drinking an excess of alcohol. ORIGIN comes from the original meaning, “a thing that has survived from the past”, in this case, yesterday’s booze in today’s body.

ES → resaca — (3rd) Malestar que padece al despertar quien ha bebido alcohol en exceso. [Ailment afflicting those who awake after having drunk excessive alcohol.] ORIGIN resacar, a nautical verb related to pulling a boat out of harbor and to the ebb and flow of tides.

FR → gueule de boislangue pâteuse et sensation de lourdeur dans la tête le lendemain d’un excès de boisson. [Thick tongue and feeling of heaviness in the head the day after excessive drinking.] ORIGIN Latin gula [throat] + bois [wood], modern meanings of gueule include face, facial expression, animal with a muzzle/snout.

Today’s Winner: Before I researched, I was going to go with French because I love the descriptive nature of “wooden throat” and how that does kind of describe a hangover (though mine tend to be focussed on the head and stomach). However, after looking into all the origins, I’m going with Spanish because I find something terribly poetic and sad about a hangover being like an ebbing in your mind and body.

Bar snacks

Things I never would have guessed were related: French fabric, George Washington’s brother and the word groggy. I’ve got to pick this book up since it sounds crazy interesting.

Today’s image comes from a Worth1000.com gallery imagining real-life Precious Moments figurines (which is weirdly restricted now) but any thought of those knickknacks makes me think of, yes, SNL and Maya Rudolph’s genius incarnation of Donatella Versace who would warn people not to “trash that curio cabinet over there filled with my Precious Moments figurines.” Sadly, no one has uploaded the complete sketches, but here’s a compilation of other great moments from the recurring character. Now, GET OUT!

Advertisements


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


3 Comments

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.


4 Comments

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.]


2 Comments

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.