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Friday, March 31, 2006

A charming Spanish joke

Here's my sketchy translation (the original follows, thank you clueless coworkers!):

Two peasants, Juan and Maria, who are preparing to go to the countryside, begin the following conversation:

"Hey Juan, what is reincarnation?"

"Oh, Maria. Get on the donkey*, here next to me, and on the way I’ll explain."

Once on the way, both now riding on the donkey, Juan says to her:

"Look, Maria do you see that cow? That could be your aunt Gertrudis in her new life."

Next he says:

"Look, see those pigs that are over there in the mud? They could be your uncle José and your brother Paco, the ones that drowned in the river."

And Maria’s blood is beginning to boil.

"Look, Maria, and see that filthy dog? Well that could be your cousin Cipriano."

Suddenly Maria starts to sob and Juan, surprised, asks her:

"Why do you cry?"

She answers him:

"Oh Juan, I feel very sad…"

"But why Maria?"

"Because likely we are sitting on your whore mother."


Dos campesinos, Juan y Maria, que se preparan para ir al Campo a realizar sus tareas, comienzan la siguiente conversación:

Oye Juan ¿cómo es eso de la reencarnación?

"Ay, Maria. Súbete a la burra, aquí junto a mí, y en el camino te lo explico."

Una vez en camino, cabalgando ya los dos sobre la burra*, Juan Le dice:

"Mira, Maria ves aquella vaca? Esa puede ser tu tía Gertrudis en esta su nueva vida."

Y a continuación dice:

"Mira, ¿ves esos cerdos que están ahí en el barro? Pueden ser tu tío José y tu hermano Paco, los que se ahogaron en él rió."

Y a Maria se le va calentando la sangre.

"Mira, Maria, y ¿ves a aquel perro roñoso? Pues ese puede ser Tu primo Cipriano."

De repente Maria comienza a sollozar y Juan sorprendido le pregunta:

"¿Por que lloras?"

Ella le contesta:

"Ay Juan, me siento muy triste..."

"Pero por que Maria?"

"Porque a lo mejor venimos sentados en tu puta madre."

§

* I wonder if this was a burra català … quick somebody call CAC!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Aznar’s jedi mind tricks

I don’t know why, but I find this photo incredibly hilarious.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The real Gas Natural

(… no, not another boring political post about the Endesa/Gas Natural scandal … leave that to the pundits ...)

A curious and forgotten appendix at the end of Salvador Dali’s Diary of a genius is illuminating if you want to learn about the Spanish mentality. In this appendix, the Catalan artist behind such paintings as The Grand Masturbator and The Persistence of Memory explains one of his favorite pastimes: breaking wind, that is, farting.

In the pompously titled appendix, The Art of Farting or The Manual of the Mischievous Artilleryman by the Count of the Trumpet, doctor of the Bronze Horse, for the use of constipated people, he goes into lengthy explanations on what a fart is, its origins in literature, and the etymology of the word fart.

Then he relates the somewhat dubious myth of a man who outwitted the devil in a very peculiar way.

Here’s my translation (it gets knotty, but that’s Dali’s style):

For a long time the devil tormented a man so he would give himself up to him. This man, not being able to resist any longer the persecutions of the malignant spirit, consented finally with the following three conditions that were immediately granted:

1st He demanded a great quantity of gold and silver, which he received immediately.

2nd he demanded that he be turned invisible; the devil showed him how to do it and accompanied him while he carried out the experiment.

"It’s said that, at this critical moment, he ripped a diphthong fart, whose eruption was reminiscent of the firing of a musket."

The good man, in a dilemma, didn’t know what to ask of the devil for the third condition that [the devil] would not be able to please, and as his ingenuity didn’t offer the help that he expected, a great fear empowered him whose excess, by coincidence, saved him by luck from the claws of the devil. It’s said that, at this critical moment, he ripped a diphthong fart, whose eruption was reminiscent of the firing of a musket. Then, taking advantage of the agility of the situation, the man said to the devil:

- I want for you to thread all these farts in a needle, and I’ll be yours.

The devil tried to thread them; but for as much as they gathered on one side of the eye of the needle and stretched to the other [...] he could never finish the task. Furthermore, frightened by the horrible roar of that fart - that the echoes of the surroundings had multiplied - and confused, even furious, that someone had fooled him, he fled not without before ripping an infernal zullón [fart] that infected the whole vecinity, freeing the unhappy man in this way from the imminent danger that he was facing.

According to Dali: the diphthong fart "is a small thunder of the pocket, and is accessible by all; its virtue and healthiness are active and retroactive; they have an incalculable valor and have been appreciated as such in the most remote antiquity; from there the roman proverb: 'A good fart is worth a talent'".

The zullón, from what I read, probably means in modern English what is abbreviated as the SBD, or Silent But Deadly, also known as the Ninja Fart. These, as everyone knows, are the most insidious and foul of all farts.

He goes on to categorize several more types, some of which follow (again, my translation):

Farts of the province: people with experience assure us that these farts aren’t as contaminated as those of the capital, where everything is more sophisticated […] [Their farts] are natural and have a certain saltiness […] They open up the appetite agreeably.

Virgin farts: they say, on the island of the Amazons, that the farts have a delicious taste and are very sought after. It’s said that they’re only produced in this land, but many don’t believe it; in any case, they are, it seems, very rare.

Farts of the young lady: they are delicious dishes, above all in the big cities, where they’re taken for a good almond cake with essence of flower blossom.

Farts of the old woman: the commerce of these farts is so disagreeable that they don’t find merchants with which to trade. Nevertheless, no one impedes one who wants to dedicate himself to it; trade is free.

Farts of the wiseman: these are very valuable, not for their volume, but for the nobility of their origin. They are also very rare, because the wisemen, aligned in their academic seats, when they are not able to, in a public assembly, interrupt an important lecture to rip a fart, find themselves obligated to effeminize them to release them […] They are, on the contrary, vigorous when they are the fruit of solitude and liberty, because, in this day and age, wisemen eat more beans than meat […]

Farts of the cuckold: these are of two types. Some are smooth, friendly, soft, etc. They are farts of voluntary cuckolds: they are not malignant. The others are abrupt, without reason, and furious; one must watch out […]

But, I must add one new category to his list, which was demonstrated to me by a couple of Spaniards, no less.

It’s called the Llama Azul.

To properly explain what it is, I need you to take a trip with me down memory lane, back to a trip I made to Morocco about 5 years ago. I was a lonely young backpacker, fresh off the Algeciras-Tangier ferry. After dodging pickpockets and cunning con artists in the Tangier medina I decided to get the hell out of that godforsaken city and took a taxi straight to the Tangier rail station. After getting ripped off by the cabbie, I bought a ticket for the next train to Marrakech.

It as on this train that I met a couple Spaniards, and one Norwegian girl, all about my age. They were also travelling to Marrakech. The three had met on the ferry, but somehow I hadn’t seen them. Maybe I spent too much time in the bar. Really, I don’t remember.

"All in all, the Norwegian girl and I managed to communicate with the Spaniards through gestures and monosyllabic grunts, like good modern primitives."

Even though I could hardly speak Spanish at the time, they allowed me to join their group, and we ended up travelling together for the next three weeks. The Spaniards’ English wasn’t much above my Spanish, and the Norwegian girl knew less Spanish than I did – but she and I could communicate in English. All in all, the Norwegian girl and I managed to communicate with the Spaniards through gestures and monosyllabic grunts, like good modern primitives.

Ah what memories! Backpacking through Morocco, through the gorges of Toudra, the western Sahara while white-knuckling the roof of a shabby old diesel, everything covered with a fine reddish dust … the purple sunsets and silence of the dunes … the prayer calls at sunset, the sundry stalls of the Fez medina … the cacophony and chaos of the Djem el Fna, the smell of burning oil and roasted lamb … and above all, the incredibly sonorous and incessant gas passing of these Spaniards!

Since our diet consisted mainly of harira and tagin, with ample amounts of alubias (beans), they had no problem fueling a veritable battery of farts. Nonstop diphthongs, for the most part. I couldn’t understand it, because the Norwegian girl and I had eaten exactly the same meals, yet didn’t have the constant need to break wind. In fact, I felt pretty normal (not constipated, I mean), and judging from all outward signs, these were two perfectly average Spaniards, except of course, for their unsavory predilection. One reason for their loose-cheek symphony, and this is mere conjecture, could have been their excessive eating habits. I remember the bemusement on the Moroccans’ faces when we would sit in a stall and eat … these Spaniards ate a lot, very fast, and talked constantly. I have a feeling the disproportionate amount of food and the intake of air while talking produced their excessive flatulence.

So one fine night the Spaniards introduced us to what they called the Llama Azul.

"They would roll back with their legs bent as if in a crouching position – looking, in a way, like upside down toads."

This is how it went. They would roll back with their legs bent as if in a crouching position – looking, in a way, like upside down toads. They would then hold a lit lighter up to the seat of their pants. Then, typically, the conversation would go like this (their real names are used):

Julio: Ostia! Look!!! Look!!!!

Tino: O! Ooooo! Yo tambien!!!

BaaaaaaaaaaRRRRUUUUUUM

BababaRRUUUUUUUUM

A trail of fire sputtered forth from the seat of their pants and quickly spread upward, dying out somewhere near the waistline of their pants.

Both: Haaaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha. HA HAAAAA HAAAAA HAAA HA!

Julio: O tio, my ass HURTS!!!!!!

Tino: ME TOO! Oh mierda! Otra vez!

And so on, ad infinitum.

Incredible as it may seem, they were able to repeat this impressive feat for hours on end. The Norwegian girl, I suspect, thought this behavior was "typically Spanish" and quaint. It was pretty funny for the first 30 minutes, but afterwards we had to evacuate the room (would this then be considered a Hostile Takeover?). These were, after all, an unfortunate combination of the diphthong, or thunder fart, and the zullón, or SBD. Not even igniting them could diminish their effect.

As I stated above, I hardly knew any Spanish at the time, and when they called it the Llama Azul, my immediate (and bad) translation was "The Blue Call" – and this perplexed me for months on end until I found out "llama" could also mean flame. So - my monolingual readers - this was the mythical Blue Flame, Spanish style.

§

A post script: And there’s more, if you can handle it - an International Farting Contest in Catalunya. I swear I’m not making any of this up.

Sant Llorenç de la Muga. – The first edition of the International Fart Contest of Sant Llorenç de la Mugam, celebrated yesterday at the 7th annual Congress of the bean, you can well say has broke wind. Not because it created expectation, and there had been quite a lot, rather because of the name of the participants. Only one person, Blas Romero, neighbor of Figueres, dared to take part in the contest, and he won the prize needing only one try, with a fart that slightly surpassed 102 decibels of potency.

[after some quick internet research I found out that 102 decibels is equivalent to – ironically enough – the sound of those annoying Spanish racing scooters]

Sant Llorenç de la Muga.- La primera edició del Concurs Internacional de Pets de Sant Llorenç de la Muga, celebrat ahir dins el marc de la 7a Fira de la Mongeta, es pot ben dir que va fer llufa. No pel que fa a l'expectació, que en va aixecar molta, sinó pel nombre de participants. Només una persona, Blas Romero, i veïna de Figueres va gosar prendre part en el concurs, i es va endur el premi necessitant tan sols un intent, amb un pet que va superar lleugerament els 102 decibels de potència.

Sadly this year el Concurs International de Pets de Sant Llorenç de la Muga was cancelled due to wind.

For next year’s festival I’m going to call my cuñaooooo who’s a fearsome thunder farter, especially after copious amounts of allioli.

§

For the translation I used the 2004 Tusquets edition of Diario de un genio.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Guiri separatists

It was bound to happen.

Guiris have proclaimed, “Guirilandia is a nation”.

It’s all here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Noches de calidez

My buddy pixelsniper just emailed me a fantastic webpage with links to verdaderas joyas of Spanish music.

Deme, el Castellano tops the list with No te lo consentiré. In his febrile ardor, he proclaims, “I cannot consent to you that a man that is not I penetrates inside you”. A glowing example of the macho ibérico spirit, this is not to be missed.

Download it ye bachelors, pop it into itunes, uncork a little vino tinto and seduce those lovely señoritas. Es seguro.

But, midway down is the salient gem of the bunch: a truly complicit soul, El Pelos & los Mares.

In Yo soy hombre de la noche el Pelo, with audacity and shocking fervor, sings, “I like to drink. I like to drink. I like women that give me much pleasure. Yes, yes, yes. I’m into drinking. Yes, yes, yes. I’m into smoking. Yes, yes, yes. I’m into women. If, if, if, they give me pleasure. Yes, yes, yes. I’m into drinking. Yes, yes, yes. I’m into smoking. Yes, yes, yes. I’m into women. If, if, if, they give me pleasure.”

El Pelo makes clever wordplay with “sí” and "si" which sound the same, but in Spanish mean “yes” and “if” - unfortunately untranslatable in crude English. El Pelo also resorts to tautology in the tradition of the grand philosophers to emphasize what he so wisely knows as the only good things in life, las mujeres, y beber. Y fumar.

Alter this brutally honest refrain, El Pelo launches into a delirium of flamenco only rivaled by David Bisbal.

And then, the best part: “I’m a man of the night. I like the darkness. I’m into the good herb. Señores, I don’t want anything else.”

There’s much more, and the wise critics on this webpage have done a much better job than I. Here’s to your noches de calidez.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Just in case you haven’t heard

Friday, March 10, 2006

So I walked into a bookstore this morning …

… and I asked the woman behind the counter where the philosophy section was. Without looking up from her book she said, “It’s up there, and in the back.” And I thought, yeah, she’s probably right.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Crossed signals (or fun with stats)

Who would have thought six people searching for "sinful curves" would happen upon my webpage*? They must have been disappointed by what I call my Wall of Text. Just words words words and no prurient pics. Also disappointed were the six people that searched for "barmaid girl dirty bar", who probably came across a silly little story I wrote a few years ago which contained exactly one bar, overwrought narration, and not one sex scene.

Then there’s the fellow who searched for "choochi" – that’s there, but probably not the kind of choochi he was looking for. Or the guy looking for "free body builders photo and bigger biceps photos". Sorry dude. I can’t figure out why the search engines directed you to my webpage. I can’t think of any possible context within my webpage wherein those words would be possible. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve ever written "bicep".

Here’s a gem: One search query using "she lights glass pipe crack sex". I’m scratching my head over this one, but I’m pretty sure I’ve used each of those words, just not in that order.

And then the one depraved individual who searched for "spurting cum shots in a woman’s hairy pussy" – and somehow found my page! Reminds me of this untranslatable joke from the late Catalan comedian, Eugenio (untranslatable because of the play of words, not because it’s dirty, which it is):

El saben aquel que diu... Maria, hay una corrida en la tele. Quieres que la cambie? No, que la limpies conyo, que la limpies...

So this gets me thinking. Maybe more and more it’s not the content that matters, but the context. Political discourse and advertising have perfected the art of snappy, memorable soundbites. How often do you read snippets instead of the whole article? Who really, in the 21st century, listens to lengthy political discourses? Who read the entire Estatut? Everything is condensed on TV, on the internet, de-contextualized and projected in whatever way the information purveyors want us to receive it.

Then there’s the question of search engines. Being robots they can search millions of databases the world over in milliseconds – but they are unintuitive. They take in everything, amass it and spit it back out to us ... and unless you use salacious, politically incendiary, or pop culture-related wording chances are your lonely little webpage will be visited by only you and your circle of friends. So dig into that html and throw in as much 50 cent, Madonna, tits, dicks, ass, Bush, and Laden as you can and you’ll get hits. The trick is to keep them there afterward - but, as anybody knows, it’s like trying to pick up in a bar, you have to get noticed first …

The context thing is fascinating. Google could probably write whole new books re-contextualizing snippets of text – like Burroughs 40 years ago with his cut up techniques. Soon we’ll be able to buy customizable novels with ready made plot structures, like the ones Julia created in The Ministry of Truth. Snip a little from here, paste a little there, throw in a little ennui here, a little cynical humor there, make it slightly nonsensical and above all nonlinear and you got a modern literary classic. Awesome. I like it already.

But then what’ll I do? The purported mathematical possibility of monkeys typing Shakespeare is getting nearer. I can hear them pounding on those keyboards already. Virtually, of course. It’s just a matter of time and disc space.

_

* Now it's my re-designed webpage, minus some older stories and with higher quality videos.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Voices in the wilderness

This wild arbitrariness, this constant dialectic, entities that exist at the other end of an IP address … it never ceases to amaze me. Strange how now we connect in realms of pure thought without ever physically meeting. The thesis put forth by one, the antithesis put forth by another, the synthesis of the two somewhere in the capillary networks of the world wide web. Now if people would only be reasonable and take that crystallized idea and work with it and move on to something greater. It’s already happening, I think. At least, in this sense, we are advancing.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Posts aleatorios

Political post:

Let’s see, all this recent Estatut, som un nació, boycotting stuff. What’s really ridiculous is the sanctimonious posturing on both sides.

And one thing I’m sick of is this fantasy some people have of single-handedly being able to reverse the process of multiculturalism. Only a madman, for example, would deny that California is increasingly bilingual. This is the result of much needed immigrant labor which has been the backbone of that economy for the last century. In Catalonia the bilingual roots go much deeper. People speak and understand both Spanish and Catalan because people here are from all over Spain. Kind of obvious, unless you want to ignore it. Some of the offspring of these immigrants are called xarnegos (and although legitimate tax-paying citizens who have been living here for generations, they are looked upon disparagingly by the radical sectors in question). Xarnegos brought up here speak and understand both Spanish and Catalan. Some, naturally, prefer to speak Spanish.

That’s the cold reality of the situation. You cannot force catalanista politics on anyone, and if you do, people will come to detest you. Unfortunately, those Catalans with seny - who inspire me to want to speak Catalan - are lumped in with the independentistas who are pining for a violent schism that would legitimize their actions. Just check out the aesthetic of the JERC and their pals, do they think they're any better than other ultra-nationalist movements?

There’s great quote by Bukowski that everybody I know is probably sick of hearing me say: "Never trust a man with a well-groomed mustache." So true.

It’s also a curious observation that the ERC has its web only in Catalan. Even, gasp, the PP of Catalonia has a website in both Catalan and Castellano. The last time I checked those were the two languages spoken in Catalonia. ERC’s PR people must be drowning in their porrons, or they must love to exacerbate the situation by justifying all the right-wing attacks on them for being exclusive.

It’s a bit like having an argument with a pretentious schoolboy who throws a wall of bookish references at you - as if the fact that you haven’t been fortunate enough to have had the amount of spare time to read all the books they’ve had that that means your mental coefficient is lower than theirs. If the independentistas want to be respected, why not be on the level with everyone else and convince them with clear, reasonable arguments that everybody within - whether they like it or not - Spain, can understand? Why hide behind snide insults and political baiting? Why not rise above COPE, for example, and dish out intelligent non-condescending arguments that everybody can understand? Take a look at the forums and blogs in the ERC web world and it makes you realize some people just love to preach to choirs, as they say.

You enter a reasonable debate, and god forbid, you might have to moderate your stance to accommodate THE COLD HARSH REALITY. Forgive me for stating a truism, a banalidad, if you will, but you cannot reverse time.

At least this guy makes some sense.

Paranoid/sensationalist post:

We will all eat pigeons

We may be eating shwarmas de paloma in the very near future.

German scientists in a recent study have discovered that pigeons are incredibly resistant to all known strains of the H5N1 virus. After repeated exposure to the virus, the teutonic variants of the Columba livia just kept on pecking their little bird brains away. After more than two hundred years of exposure to filthy urban environments these little brutes are as resilient as you can get.

However, one Carme Camps, in a letter to the editor in La Vanguardia, is still frightened:

And the pigeons?

These days we read and feel the precautions that they are taking in our house in front of a possible arrival of migratory birds, carriers of the Avian bird flu. It’s a good thing the European Union shows a unity of sufficiently calming criteria that, for example, reminds us repeated physical contact is necessary with the infected birds to contract the disease. But, the pigeons. If these little beasts can transmit the disease, we should know which measures we ought to take when the Avian bird flu arrives. Pigeons cannot be shut in a farm and there exists physical contact between these animals and the people that feed them, that are, precisely, the presumably more feeble collectives: children and old people.

I els coloms?

CARME CAMPS - 21/02/2006

Aquests dies llegim i sentim les precaucions que es prenen a casa nostra davant la possible arribada d´aus migratòries portadores de la grip aviària. És bona cosa que la Unió Europea mostri una unitat de criteri força tranquil · litzadora i que, per exemple, se´ns recordi que és necessari un contacte físic repetit amb les aus infectades per contraure la malaltia. Però, i els coloms? Si aquestes bestioles poden transmetre la malaltia, cal que sapiguem quines mesures hem d´aplicar quan arribi la grip aviària. Els coloms no poden ser tancats en una granja i existeix contacte físic entre aquests animals i les persones que els alimenten, que són, precisament, els col · lectius presumiblement més febles: criatures i ancians.

Carme, you need not worry. Barcelona’s pigeons are astonishingly robust and brazen. Go to Puerto Olympico one day in the summer and watch how they launch onto the tables of distracted tourists and peck away with utmost impunity. Watch how old women fortify them with leftover pa amb tomàquet in Plaça Catalunya. Marvel at how strange men pet unfrightened pigeons in Plaça Universitat. This legion of Catalan pigeons (no doubt just as sturdy as their German counterparts) might come in handy if the Avian Flu gets out of hand and kills the much needed chicken stock.

And then there’s this news … yikes.

Episodic recapitulation post:

Today I woke up after having a dream about blogging. Not a good sign. I had a café amb llet while checking the internet. Scanned the news. Off to work and the metro stank of stale farts and dirty laundry. Got to work and boss walked by my desk just in time to see me come in late. SOS. Same jokes ripped off from popular TV shows. At the moment: Alejandro Sanz on coworker’s Itunes, trying to finish this post discreetly.

Agree with me post:

Guiris suck.

Comment samples:

I’m totally LOLing! ROFL BTW IMHO yer SO right!

Check this bizarre link out post:

Doom Generation burn-out goes psycho. It’s actually scary after the first 2 minutes.

The perpetual mirror of blogs post:

Check out this blog, which links to all these other awesome blogs. Vacillate in an endless quagmire of information!

Plug post:

My expat pal Pixelsniper is at it again. Check out the bear in San Francisco video. Strange.

Boring post:

I really don’t have anything else to write about today. Check back some other time. Adios. Deu. Bye.

I dreamt about my blog

Blogs. What thieves of time! What displays of vanity for “hard-hitting” misogynists, endless Bridgette Jones-type scribbling, wannabe punditry, ineffectual artists, virtual circles of non-existent friends! Links to like-minded bloggers, links to “cool” pages, links to others that link to the same thing! Where the banal is celebrated and glorified, where your opinions are re-enforced, where the semblance of popularity exists with the amount of commentary you receive!

Yesterday I dreamt about my blog. I dreamt of posts and reposts. I woke up and checked my blog to make sure they weren’t really there. Now I’m dreaming I really had a life.