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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Whiskey Robber

Here’s a great story in Salon about the infamous Whiskey Robber, Attila Ambrus.

Originally from Romania, he escaped to Hungary right before the collapse of the Soviet empire on the underside of a freight train. To survive he tried just about anything from smuggling animal pelts to goalkeeping for the national hockey team.

It was a time of transition, when the country felt the first pangs of rebirth after decades of communist oppression. Attila explains how the power dynamics merely shifted, and it continued to be as he always remembered it: corrupt. Everyone had their little "side" job to get by. He soon discovered that his charisma and penchant for small time crookery could land him bigtime money.

In a low moment he went to a flea market and bought a wig and a toy gun and robbed a post office for a small sum. The incredible ease of it was what hooked him to the thrill of the heist. This was 1993, the beginning of his 6 year career as the "Whiskey Robber".

Always the gentleman, he even brought flowers to the female tellers before walking out with bundles of cash. The cops on his case were incredibly inept - crashing into each other, getting directions wrong and passing right by him, one was even known as "the dance instructor" for his side job as a ballet instructor.

The comic cat and mouse game made Attila a living legend, and a folk hero in Hungary. He was finally apprehended in 1999, and he shortly thereafter escaped from a maximum security prison by lowering himself to freedom on a cord of bedsheets and telephone cable. He resumed his heisting and loving before he was caught living in the middle of the city three months later.

Amazingly, he never once hurt anyone in any of his escapades.

Apparently Hollywood already has the rights to his life story, and Johnny Depp has expressed interest in playing Atilila. Some have said Colin Farrell resembles him, but I hope they don’t let that dweeb do it.

_

The moniker Whiskey Robber was given to him because before his heists witnesses often reported seeing him in a bar across the street from whatever bank he was going to rob, taking shots of Johnnie Walker Red Label – his favorite.

One of the greatest honors has been bestowed upon him: his own cocktail. Here’s the recipe (from author Julian Rubinstein’s website):

The Whiskey Robber

One 1/2 ounces Johnnie Walker Red

One ounce of sour mix

3 dashes of bitters

Dry ginger ale

Orange slice

Crush orange into bottom of ice-filled Old-Fashioned glass. Then, in an ice-filled shaker, add Johnnie Walker Red, sour mix and bitters. Shake well, strain into ice-filled glass, spritz with dry ginger ale.

Sounds pretty good.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Off topic …

… but then again I never intended this blog to be solely about Catalonia.

I started writing a monthly column for Barcelonareporter called Stranger than fiction – the title is a truncated version of the old adage "the truth is stranger than fiction", which continues to inspire me somehow, and make me write.

Wordriot is a cool ezine, and they have just published an oldish short story of mine called Slice-of-life-vignette-story. There’s something in there for everybody: dipsomaniacs to nymphomaniacs; disillusioned partners; even would-be womanizers. Oh, it’s got strippers too. [note: the font turns to bold for some reason about a third of the way through the story, I don’t know why. I’ve already mentioned it to the editor.]
_

Aside from that little outburst, I got a couple random comments.

Just a couple days ago here in Barcelona some pijos with fascistic tendencies burned a homeless woman alive. The worst part of it - aside from the repugnant image of a yuppie kid with a sweater around his neck, some ultra pins and a can of gasoline - is that they laughed about it the whole time.

So when the civil ordnance pushes the homeless people out of the more visible centric neighborhoods, they migrate up to the more expensive neighborhoods and there some sick kid with a superiority complex burns them. It just disgusts me to think what kind of men these kids will grow up to be.

Aside from that, I just read Animal Farm for the first time, online, in a few hours at work. On the down-low of course. This book is amazingly prescient, and should have been required reading when I was in highschool. Orwell, who fought in Catolonia with proto-anarcho syndicalists saw first hand the evil two-sided coin of fascism and communism. Idealists are dangerous because, they, like the rest of us are human, but they have unflinching faith in themselves, and the ends always justify the means. I don’t want to get political, but this tale should be a cautionary one, especially in Spain where the political rifts are deep and righteous finger pointing rampant. Read it here.

Which reminds me of the story about the student in Massachusetts who checked out Mao’s Little Red Book for a paper he was writing and was subsequently visited by the Homeland Security force. I’d recommend he stay away from "trips" with CIA airlines for a while. Read the original story here (originally linked to by boingboing).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Of men, monkey balls, and whiskey

This is my liberal translation of a joke from Catalan comedian Eugenio.

So a guy walks in bar and orders a whiskey. It’s a fairly classy place with a stride piano player. He gets distracted by the scenery and when he tries to take a swig he realizes a monkey has put its balls in his glass of whiskey.

The man angrily asks the bartender:

- Hey … is this monkey yours? Do you know why he put his balls in my glass of whiskey?

- No, look … the monkey belongs to the piano player so you should ask him.

The man approaches the piano player and asks:

- Hey … do you know why the monkey put his balls in my glass of whiskey?

- Well, hmmmm, I really don’t know, but if you sing it maybe I can play along …


Esto es un tio que entra en un bar y pide un whisky. Total que el tio se despista y cuando se da cuenta ve que hay un mono que ha puesto sus cataplines dentro del vaso de whisky.

El tio cabreado le pregunta al camarero:

- Oiga... este mono es suyo? Sabe por que ha puesto los cataplines dentro mi vaso de whisky?¿?

- No mira... el mono es del pianista, asi que mejor preguntele a el.

El hombre se dirige al pianista que esta tocando en el bar i le pregunta:

- Oiga... usted sabe porque el mono ha puesto los cataplines dentro de mi vaso de whisky?¿?

- Pues mira, esta no la se, pero si me la tararea.....

Friday, December 09, 2005

Jesus Christ in a bar

WARNING: This might offend you. If it does, too bad.

This is a Catalan/Andalusian/Galacian/Basque/Castilean – oh what the hell - Spanish joke I hear every year around this time. My quick translation is followed by the original Spanish:

Jesus Christ in a bar

An Englishman, a German, and a Spaniard are in a bar having drinks together.

Suddenly the Englishman says to the others:

- Hey, that guy over there looks just like Jesus Christ.

- C'mon likes it's really gonna be Jesus Christ.

- Yeah, yeah. But he's exacly the same. The beard, the tunic… It's Jesus Christ for sure!

The Englishman gets up, goes to the man at the table and pesters so much that the man whispers to him in English:

- Look, basically I am Jesus Christ, but please talk low and don't tell anyone anything because you're going to create a huge spectacle in the bar. If everyone finds out …

The Englishman, overwhelmed with happiness, says:

- I have a bum knee that I got while doing sports as a kid. Please, cure me.

Jesus Christ lays his hand on his knee and cures him.

And the Englishman goes to his table and, of course, tells everything to the
German and the Spaniard.

The German gets up and runs to Jesus Christ's table and says:

- Hey, my friend said you're Jesus Christ. I got a glass eye, please cure me.

Jesus Christ lays his hand on the eye and cures it.

Then the German goes to his table and tells his friends.

Jesus Christ starts to think that momentarily the Spaniard will confront him, and, like all the others, will ask him for a miracle, but time passes and the Spaniard doesn't come.

Then Jesus Christ, irritated and somewhat intrigued, gets up and goes to the table where the three men are and lays his hand on the Spaniard's shoulder and asks:

- Hey, you. Why not you?

- EHHHH!!!! EHHHHHHH!!!!! DON'T TOUCH ME!!! I'M ON SICK LEAVE!!!!!

Jesuschristo en un bar

Se encuentran un inglés, un alemán y un español en una cafetería y toman unas copas juntos.

De repente el inglés le dice a los otros:

- Oye, ese de ahí de enfrente es igualito a Jesucristo.

-Bah, que va a ser Jesucristo.

-Que sí, que sí. Pero si es igualito. La barba, la túnica... Ese de ahí es Jesucristo seguro!

Se levanta el inglés, se dirige hacia el hombre de la mesa y tanto le insiste que ya el hombre le susurra al inglés:

-Mira, efectivamente soy Jesucristo, pero por favor habla bajito y no se lo digas a nadie porque me vas a formar un escándalo impresionante en la cafetería. Como los demás se enteren verás...

El inglés loco de alegría le dice:

- Tengo una lesión en la rodilla que me hice de pequeño haciendo deporte. Por favor, cúrame.

Jesucristo le pone la mano sobre la rodilla y le cura.

Y el inglés se va a su mesa y, claro, se lo cuenta todo al alemán y al español.

Se levanta el alemán y va corriendo hasta la mesa de Jesucristo y le dice:

-Oye, que me ha dicho mi amigo que tú eres Jesucristo. Tengo un ojo de cristal, por favor cúrame.

Jesucristo le pone la mano en el ojo y se lo cura.

Entonces el alemán se va su mesa y se lo cuenta a sus amigos.

Jesucristo empieza a pensar que en breves instantes aparecerá por allí el español queriendo, como todos, que le haga algún milagro, pero el tiempo pasa y el español no va.

Y entonces Jesucristo, ya mosqueado y picado por la curiosidad, se levanta y se va hacia la mesa donde están los tres y poniéndole una mano en el hombro al español le pregunta:

-Oye, ¿tú por qué no...?

Y el español salta de la silla y apartándose violentamente le dice:

-¡¡¡¡EH, EH, EEEHHHH!!!! ¡¡¡¡SIN TOCAR QUE ESTOY DE BAJA!!!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Barcelona, largest Spanish speaking country in the world

This from tabloid rag the Sun, which has compiled some of the all time stupidest quiz show answers.

Presenter: Which is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world?

Contestant: Barcelona.

Presenter: I was really after the name of a country.

Contestant: I'm sorry, I don't know the names of any countries in
Spain.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

All I wanted was Torrente 3 …

… and what I got was Private's "Big Member" Here's the story. I'm doing a little research (really) on macho Iberico/kitsch phenomena and I figured what better example than Torrente, that overweight Spanish cop unwittingly emulated by about 86% of the young male Iberian population.

So, for the last few weeks I've been searching on a P2P engine for a legit bittorrent but most of them have come up with warning flags saying: invalid, corrupt, etc.

Nevertheless, among about 20 choices, I thought I finally found the legit file.

Two days later, much to my surprise, when I open "Torrente 3" instead of a greasy wannabe cop spouting one liners it’s these Hungarian porn starlets spouting badly dubbed English. Instead of "Ei ei chinita" it was "yah yah right THERE!".

What induces people to sneak porn onto a "normal" movie file?

I mean, it's a process to rip a DVD, compress the file into DIVX or something similar, than look for a movie title (I don't know, pick your choice: Chicken Little, Batman …), change the name, and link it to the torrent.

The same thing happened to me when I tried to download The Lord of the Rings. I got something approximating the fantastical look of the Lord of the Rings, but the sword fights were of a different sort.

Why would you want to hijack a movie with CoolXXX Babes part 23 or the adventures of Buttman?

I wonder ...

Am I a target audience for these cyber pranksters?

What is actually the better movie: Torrente or Big Member?

Is this castigation for "sharing" files on the internet?

Is hijacking with porn a benevolent or subversive act?

***

I'm actively looking for a "top manta" with DVD rips. But, now that I'm looking, I haven't seen a one in three days. I haven't even been accosted by those shady guys and gals whipping out folders full of the latest Hollywood blockbusters and Michael Buble CDs.

So, amiguetes, anyone want a porn movie? And, can anyone point me to a good "top manta"?