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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Housekeeping

Updates on stuff I’ve written and your comments.

→ My mother says that the Spanish aguacate [avocado] comes from the Nahuatl (pre-Spanish Mexican language) word ahuácatl, which also means testicles. Quoth she: “which, if you think about it, gives a new dimension to eating it.” It’s a wonder I make such weird connections to stuff sometimes.

handeggElizabeth mentioned that the term “handegg” had been proposed as a replacement name for that dumb sport hulking Americans play. I approved the change and then found Internet evidence that suggests this may catch on someday.

→ For a show that had elements of many of the things I love, namely 80s music and spy stuff, FX’s THE AMERICANS left me pretty underwhelmed. The highpoint of the first season was during the finale when the big moments were scored to Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers.”

→ James Cameron’s movies are horrible. Excepting ALIENS (which was based on pre-existing characters), all of his films feature terrible dialogue, worse plotting and zero character development. Given that I have such strong feelings about him and his œuvre (hi Ethel!), it may be surprising that I vociferously criticize the Spanish translation of “Sayonara” over “Hasta la vista, baby” in T2, but that line actually makes sense. The Terminator has spent the whole of the movie bonding with a young John Connor in Southern California where Mexican and surf cultures collide and where “Hasta la vista, baby” is a thing people actually say. Side note: I think about movies too much.

Actual names are the last thing I get to when considering a thing, but it turns out that there may be inherent qualities to some words that affect how we perceive the things being named. Gods, the last thing I need is more things to think too much about.

→ Oh, man. I didn’t think I could like Brooklyn less. After writing about how there’s a concerted effort to train the French to pick up their dogs’ poo in public, I read about New Yorkers who are now teaching their children to poop “on the ground or behind a tree.” It’s like Americans are becoming Spanish! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

→ I swear I’m going to stop thinking about rabbits soon but all my mental energy has finally cracked a life-long mystery. The Easter Bunny’s chocolate eggs look like rabbit poop. The Easter Bunny is leaving poop-substitutes for children. They aren’t eggs at all. They are turds. I find this sooooo upsetting, I can’t even tell you.

→ To cleanse the palette, here’s David Sedaris’s great story about American Easter and learning French. (Scroll down to “Jesus Shaves.”) I clearly remember the first time I read this in Esquire (my boyfriend), lounging on my sofa in my fourth-floor walk-up in Chinatown. How could it have been 13 years ago?

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Я не говорю на русском языке.*

There’s a current show called “The Americans” on FX that’s about two Soviet agents living as Americans in Washington, DC in the early 80s. I love spy stuff and 80s music. I grew up understanding that death by Communists was a real possibility (“Wolverines!“) and I lived in DC for a while, so this show was almost made for me but some things are holding me back from loving it. And one of them is the Russian translations.

I don’t speak Russian and know only the Cold War-related words that were on TV all the time (perestroika, glasnost, etc.) but I am certain that this isn’t correct.

Lev Gorn in THE AMERICANS, "Safe House"

Lev Gorn in “Safe House”(1×09) is not saying “American technology.”

The character pictured above is of the main KGB guy in DC and he says something that sounds like, “Progress capitalismo” which, again, even though I don’t know Russian, I think would more accurately be translated as “Capitalist progress.” (Google tells me the Russian would be Капиталистического прогресса.)

These kinds of things are so annoying and take me out of the story so much that I’m distracted for the rest of the program. Grrr. If you’re looking for a good spy/undercover/kill Americans show, watch “Homeland” (about Islamic terrorists passing as contemporary Americans) which is way better.

If you’ve seen the show, please note how I didn’t mention that the one Hispanic character is called Amador [the lover] and that he’s a ladies’ man. It’s been very hard for me to avoid mentioning how lazy I find such naming practices. Conversely, I find Hiro Protagonist to be a great name for a character. (The latter is actually clever.)

* Google tells me that this is “I don’t speak Russian.”