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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Mayday, May Day!

Ha! I actually remembered a holiday! This is BIG NEWS around these parts.

Thoughts on May 1

Another great Midwestern invention.

Another great Midwestern invention.

1. My mother always called the local classical music station to remind them of the date and request they play some version of the Internationale. It was mortifying to hear the smooth-voiced program host mention her by name and play the track. I don’t think my mother has any real Communist leanings, but this is another true story: she totally hung out with Fidel Castro in Cuba one time. Spaniards around the world, unite! [Ed. His parents were from la patria, making him a Spanish national, just like me.]

2. Where I grew up, there was a local tradition of making May Day baskets and “anonymously” delivering them to your friends’ houses. We’d take things like SOLO cups (later used for other things), poke holes in them to thread pipe cleaner handles, decorate them in a spring theme and then fill them with candy. Then you’d have someone drive you around and you would drop the basket at the door, ring the bell, and run like hell. The recipient was supposed to guess who each basket came from so everyone would try to throw their friends off the scent by putting weird things in theirs. It was the definition of good, clean, wholesome American fun and almost seems like an idea Norman Rockwell and Grant Wood cooked up together.

3. In France and Spain, this is a federal (bank) holiday. I love that the way to honor workers is by not working. Such a concept wouldn’t really be able to take hold in the US — to wit, Secretary’s Day where they get flowers but still have to work. In America, workers are a dime a dozen and worth even less. Also, the streets are paved with cheese.

4. My crazy-rich student in Barcelona was eventually slightly impressed by the vast scope of my knowledge. She had taken the exam to be a licensed boat captain (they had a yacht!) and asked me to explain many of the terms she’d learned. I know very little about nautical things but I did know that the international distress call of “Mayday, mayday!” comes from the French for “Come help me!” [Venez m’aider !]. This was a rabies I put together on my own while reading a French novel when I was younger and I was crazy pleased with myself. Little did I know that there would be so many other things in life that would puzzle me.

So much weird knowledge came from PEANUTS

Couldn't find one of WWI Flying Ace yelling "Mayday!" but I'm pretty sure they exist.

Couldn’t find one of WWI Flying Ace yelling “Mayday!” but I’m pretty sure they exist.

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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.

Interpol_Lyon

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.