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Friday, April 28, 2006

Dos polvos

Hecho polvo

Echar un polvo

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Get paid or die tryin’

“I’m the chump capable of anything for a little bit of cash.”*
"Sóc el brètol capaç de tot per una mica de calé.”

Jaume Fuster's Enric Vidal in De mica en mica s’omple la pica

I just finished Jaume Fuster’s noir-genre book, De mica en mica s’omple la pica.

"De mica en mica s’omple la pica" is a popular Catalan aphorism which literally translates to “Little by little the sink fills up” which sounds really bad in English, so I would probably translate it to “Drip by drip the sink fills up”, not much better, but there you have it.

This is a good bad book, tending a little more toward the bad (even for the super clichéd detective genre). But it’s bad in an acceptable way, if you get what I mean. I haven’t read many detective books, but as a kid I read lots of Jim Thompson, and noir is one of my favorite film genres, so I can say with some authority that this is unabashedly pulp which makes it funny - but very predictable, and in many cases totally unbelievable.

Enric Vidal, the fall guy, needs money - and doesn’t care how he gets it. He finds himself unwittingly embroiled in a couple of murders, an illegal gambling and drug empire, and the kidnapping of his girlfriend – all for his efforts to make good an unpaid debt.

Because of his unscrupulous attitude, and his need for una mica de calé, Vidal gets involved in a shady money laundering scheme. This takes him on a whirlwind tour of Europe and finally back to Barcelona, with a new mossa de bon veure (good-looking dame) on his arm.

Back in Barcelona he goes to collect his payment from his employer, the shady mitja merde Andreu Rodergues, minion of the baddest baddie in Barcelona, Jaume Romagossa.

Murder on carrer Fontanella, where Mica ... begins

This is where the book opens. Everything goes wrong, as you would expect.

From the opening paragraph:

The office was empty; I mean there was no furniture. On the walls, one could see lighter stains where charts and calendars once hung. Newspapers, used and crumpled, oil stained, which always remain in an empty apartment after a move. The naked lightbulb, 60W, spread a thin light that bounced off the stained straw of the walls, off the dull green of the ground, off the lifeless form of Rodergues.

El despatx era buit; vull dir que no hi havia mobles. A les parets, taques més clares on abans hi havia penjats el gràfic i els calendaris. Papers de diari, d’aquells matxucats, tacats d’oli, que sempre queden en un pis buit després d’un trasllat. La bombeta nua, de seixanta, escampava una claror esmorteïtda que retopava en el palla tacat dels murs, en el verd deslluït del terra, en les formes sese vida d’en Rodergues.

[excuse my translation. All my knowledge of Catalan is from television and passing conversation]

De mica en mica s’omple la pica was fairly easy and fun to read, so it was a good choice for my first book in Catalan. The first half was especially well-paced, with a staggered time structure that kept up the suspense.

Unfortunately Fuster didn’t maintain this style to the end of his book. He changes tenses several times in the last half, goes for a standard linear structure, and in my opinion, falters completely in the last 5 pages with a typical wrap-up where the protagonist has to explain it all.

The deus ex machina is one of the things I don’t like about some noir movies and detective stories (admittedly I don’t know much).

In my opinion a wrap-up reflects a lack of rigor and timidness on the part of the author. What should be explained within the context of the story in action and dialogue, or even reflection, is spelled out for the audience in a tedious sum up, often times with a "happy ending". Poetic justice, pathos, where none is needed. Of course, there are exceptions. But the best noir ends tragically, with a sense of foreboding. Take Sunset Boulevard, or Chinatown for example. Those movies had uncommon impact, and it’s precisely because they’re funny, dark, and not at all rounded out.


*I think I’m going to print that on a T-shirt and wear it to work.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Roundin' up palomas

In the shadow of Francesc Cambo, two men park a white van, get out with a strange boxy contraption, and proceed to scatter bread crumbs. The secret call of the pigeons goes out, and thousands upon thousands of the peckerheads descend upon this island on via Laietana, in central Barcelona. In mid-pecking frenzy one of the men toggles a switch on the boxy contaption and the noontime daze is punctured by a dry explosion. A net - large enough to ensnare a Volkswagen Beetle- shoots forth and captures the pigeons. A lone white pigeon escapes, however.

One thing's for sure: these pigeons aren't going up for adoption.

File under:

Joan Clos Van Damme's crackdown


Mad pigeons and the climate of hysteria

Monday, April 24, 2006

El Pulpo

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sant Pere Mitjà

Thursday, April 20, 2006

King for a night

Meet Pau, a guy who faked getting his credit card stolen to avoid paying a 1,430 euro bill from a puticlub.

That is not a typo. 1,430 euros in a puticlub.

Can you imagine the night this guy must have had? Have you ever heard the saying "Better to be king for a day than a shmuck for a lifetime"? Ol’ Pau took this concept to the extreme. 1,430 euros! Holy shit! What he must have done that fateful night is mind-boggling.

Typical puticlubs

He surely was king that night, but when he woke up the next morning with a massive, cubata-fueled hangover he must’ve had intense feelings of regret:

The boy [the article states that he is 31, so I don't know why they are calling him a boy] reported on the day of the 9th that on the night of the 7th he was the victim of a petty theft and that he was robbed of his ID and his credit cards. The police discovered that on the very night of the 7th charges were made with the supposedly stolen credit cards that summed up to 1,430 euros in the bordello Club Eden de Melianta (Fontcoberta) and an establishment in Vall-llobrega.

[sorry, it was two puticlubs!]

El noi va denunciar el dia 9 que la nit del dia 7 havia estat víctima d’un furt i que li havien robat el DNI i les targetes de crèdit. Els Mossos van descobrir que just la nit del dia 7 amb les targetes suposadament robades s’havien fet unes despeses que pujaven a 1.430 euros al prostíbul Club Edén de Melianta (Fontcoberta) i en un local de Vall-llobrega.

But Pau wasn’t too clever:

… the manager of the bank where he has his account explained that the theft was reported when the transaction with the credit card had already been made and, on top of it all, the police found some of the credit cards on him.

... els responsables del banc on el denunciant té el compte van explicar que la denúncia l’havia presentat quan li havien comunicat la despesa feta amb la targeta i, per acabar-ho d’adobar, els Mossos van trobar algunes de les targetes a mans del denunciant.


I wonder if Pau taught his techniques to this I guy I used to work with, Miguel (he was nicknamed Ronald McDonald – or "Ronahl MacDonahl" as they said it. I think he was given this nickname because he always had a silly looking grin).

One day while we were loading trucks he told me how he was hanging out with some friends in a club called Sr. Lobo when one of them found a lost credit card.

Instead of turning it in to lost and found, the group of them went to a puticlub and did the things you normally do in puticlubs - and charged it all to the stolen credit card. He described the ensuing orgy in explicit detail, which I won't go in to now (the hardest thing was to keep from laughing while Ronahl was describing this, because I was picturing him, and it was just a terrible image to have in my mind).

I’ll just say this: his adventures with the stolen credit card continued after the puticlub, and were even more sordid and ridiculous … but I simply can’t think of a way to justify writing about them in this post so I will leave them to a later date …

Ronahl even had the audacity to steal a crappy transistor radio from the puticlub, which he brought to work and proudly showed to me.

He talked endlessly about that night until he got fired (yet another story).

I guess he figured since I was a guiri I wouldn’t understand what he was talking about.


About year ago I ran into Ronahl near my apartment, in barri Sant Pere. It was pouring rain and everybody was scurrying to the nearest awning, newspapers over permanent hair-doos, pants soaked up to the knees … and suddenly I saw Ronahl bounding up to me with his big stupid grin.

"Ehhhhhh … que pasa tio!"

It turns out that after getting fired from the warehouse he got a job as a "gas meter counter". He had in his grimy hands a notebook, sopping wet, with all the meter indications. Needless to say all the numbers were blotched and smeared by the rain, making them totally illegible. I wonder how many people got screwed up gas bills because of this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sant Pere Més Baix

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sometimes I amaze myself

Who among you can withstand a sonic assault of 80s hits, including various songs from the original Karate kid soundtrack, Madonna, Shakira, George Michael … Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler … (I am not kidding …this is not a joke … not even a slight embellishment … I think my coworkers are trying to drive me INSANE … or at least schizophrenic). Who among you can withstand such an inhumane sonic assault, make a Powerpoint presentation, and finish reading Machiavelli’s The Prince at the same time?

Not many, I know.

I have survived Machiavelli’s The Prince amidst unbelievable adversity. My concentration was crystal, my thought pure … all else became secondary, routine, perfunctory. All I needed was my machine-made coffee (at least 5 espressos per day).

Much to my surprise, I agree with almost everything Machiavelli said. He wasn’t writing from a moralist’s point of view, rather from a pragmatist’s point of view. He hedges on certain occasions so as not to offend the church, but he is surprisingly frank on what tactics a prince must use to gain and retain power. 300 years before Nietzsche he was Beyond Good and Evil.

Some of his shrewd advice could be used in everyday life. Even a plebeian like myself can make use of it:

… because there are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehended; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless …

Now, if you can read him with a twisted mix of euro pop and American 80s hits in the background – in short sporadic bursts, off of a computer screen - and understand him, I will shake your virtual hand. Few have traversed this path and have lived to tell about it.

Next up, Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War.


A post script - On a more serious note: Machiavelli makes it clear in the snippet I pasted above: know thyself, and appreciate what others have to say. The best moments are when someone with a completely different point of view can convince me. That’s what happened with Paul Johnson, one of my favorite authors. He was recommended to me by my liberal mom. Yes LIB-ER-AL, that dirty word (suck on it, hysterical "conservatives"). His book Intellectuals made me look at the world in a different light. In fact, all four of the books I’ve read by him have made me do this. He’s conservative, and states his opinions well - and I often find myself agreeing with him.

But too often conservatives, or those who call themselves conservatives, make blanket statements about people with vaguely "leftist" opinions. They should get off their high horses and point out the hypocrisy all around. They have it all wrong. There are bigots, there are totalitarian despots, there are intolerant populists. To me, revisionist Catalan nationalists and backwards looking Spanish nationalists are two sides of the same coin. When I read about what I am now calling The Hysteria of Spain, it’s hard to say who’s more at fault for the events of the past: lefties, righties, pinkos, fascists, republicans, monarchists, anarchists, falangists … or is just intolerant, impetuous politicians hiding behind a flag and a pithy slogans?

Is it that hard for people to think for themselves?

I really don’t think there are many people capable of doing this. That’s why I agree with Machiavelli, at least on a psychological level, even if he was a dick.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tourist = Terrorist

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lost in translation

Because online language tools are so easy to use, people think they can translate anything by running it through one of these programs and doing minor corrections afterward.

I once worked for a local "what’s on" guide whose staff of unpaid, fresh-off-the-boat guiris relied almost exclusively on Babelfish to translate Spanish to English. After running the text through the program they would make the requisite corrections to fix obvious mistakes. Their Spanish, for the most part, was utilitarian –i.e. good enough to order a shwarma or ask for the bathroom, but not much else.

The problem with relying on automatic translators is that context is completely ignored. Literal translations often times have nothing to do with the actual intent of the speaker or writer.

Farol n. lantern
Oxford study español-inglés dictionary

Farol light
Babelfish translation

Farol n. act of bragging to mislead [someone]
From Larousse Gran Diccionario
del Argot

Farol is often used in conjunction with the reflexive verb tirarse (throw or hurl oneself), as in:

“Me he tirado un farol y he intentado ligar con la pava.”

Google automatic translation:

“I have thrown a light and I have tried to bind with the turkey hen.”

No amount of inductive reasoning could make sense of that sentence. One would have to understand the context, then, given that it is highly informal speech, translate using close approximations in modern English slang. It then becomes: "I bragged and tried to flirt with the chick."

What would you make of this, for example:

A pot of something more cow than sheep, salmigundi the pluses nights, duels and breaks Saturdays, lantejas Fridays, some palomino of addition Sundays, consumed the three parts of their property. The rest della concluded sayo of velarte, stockings of velludo for the celebrations, with their pantuflos of mesmo, and the days of entresemana it was honored with his vellorí of finest. It had in his house a master who happened of the forty, and one niece which she did not reach the twenty, and a young man of field and seat, that thus rocín saddled as it took the pruning knife.

No, this isn’t post-modern Spanglish poetry, it’s none other than Don Quixote after being mangled in Google’s automatic translator.

My aunt sent me an email recently that was similarly incomprehensible:

... We belonged long nothing of you, but we think goes it you good. I find it prettily if you visits …

Her spoken English is decent, but she doesn't like to write it (she’s German speaking, by the way). So, what she obviously did was write the original email in German and run it through Babelfish, or something similar. The rest of her email made absolutely no sense, so I had to paste the text back into Babelfish and reverse-translate it to German, which I only have basic knowledge of … yet suddenly, her email made sense.

I often wonder how many people use this technique. Relying too much on technology could lead to something similar to a whisper chain effect. This is where the story is whispered into someone’s ear and then they whisper it into someone else’s ear, and eventually the story is so altered by the different interpreters that its final meaning is completely different. Imagine your story or your letter being run through an online translator, then re-interpreted by a third person. Your insults could turn into hilariously surreal exclamations:

(capullo can mean many things, including cocoon, but most often it’s used as something approximating dickhead – literally and as an insult)

Or, your aspirations to be the next Don Juan Tenorio could be thwarted by using Google’s translator - turning you into an incomprehensible obscurantist:

And these words that are filtering insensibly your already pending heart of the lips of Don Juan, and whose ideas are inflaming in their interior a germinador fire nonignition still, are not truth, stars mine, that is breathing love?


Cartoons are from the weekly humor magazine, El Jueves

Monday, April 10, 2006

No se permite jugar a pelota

Sunday, April 09, 2006

V is for Viva la Piratería

Just writing about V for Vendetta is painful. This is simply one of those movies I wish I could erase from my memory.

This movie was so bad, so infantile, so pathetically obvious I can find no adjectives adequate enough to describe it.

It’s not even bad in a good way.

What irritates me most is once again I fell for what goes for criticism in Spain. I’ve been fooled so may times by totally clueless Spanish critics, and yet once again I shelled out 14 euros for a total waste of celluloid that could only appeal to the most moronic and feeble-minded movie goer.

I’ll try to keep this short, because it’s not even worth the energy it takes my fingers to type this out …

So we walked into the packed multiplex and sat in our assigned seats. The lights dimmed half-way and, before anything else, we were subjected to a ridiculous anti-pirating propaganda clip with hip music, Parkinson’s style camera work and aggressive editing.

Little did we know, but this was to be the highlight of our movie going experience.

There was more drama and suspense in this minute-long tirade against the evils of movie pirating than in the following two hours of V for Vendetta.

Should I mention the little tart who made comments out loud throughout the whole movie? Sitting right next to us? Oh. Oh dios mio! Oh que susto!

Sometimes I feel like I have a real attitude problem. Especially when I’m in the middle of a packed theater of people like this little tart. I know, this isn’t even the point. I’m supposed to write about the movie! But just to add one other telling detail about her: she even got up several times during the movie to take cell phone calls. What the hell is the point of going to movie if you’re going to get up in the middle of it to yap on your cell phone?

I knew I wanted to leave the movie after the first 3 uninspired minutes, but the fact that I had paid 14 euros for two tickets made me feel like I should stay.

So I did stay, and it only got worse.

V turned out to be this repellent “hero” – I use the term very loosely and ironically – with a Prince Valiant hair cut, wearing a theatrical mask. Not only did he come off as overbearing and foolish, he just looked silly, and he actually made me root for the bad guys. I just wanted this payaso to shut up.

Should I mention it’s supposed to take place in 2020 and the sophisticated police force is using the same exact DELL computer screens I use at work? I know this because of the glaringly obvious and incessant product placement. I mean, seriously, what mental midget did the set design for this atrocity?

Ah yes, I digress! It’s so hard not to!!!!

V is a “mysterious” figure who appropriates the spirit of Guy Fawkes, who in 1605 attempted to blow up the British parliament. It’s 2020, Britain is ruled by very bad pedophilic and homophobic religious conservatives and V is the victim of one of their top secret operations to scare the masses into supporting a radical right wing government.

V must blow things up.

I would never call myself right wing, or left wing, or wear a little pin that affiliates me with any kind of mass movement, but this movie’s lame projection of today’s current events into a hypothetical and extremely cheesy looking future actually made me hate this V figure and his infantile diatribes against the establishment. The amazing thing is – no, the really scary thing is - that critics, at least in Spain, seem to think this is daring cinema. Daring, risqué cinema that’s not afraid to take on big issues. Give me a break. “War is bad”, “Homophobia is bad” are truisms … empty slogans that any numbskull in a multiplex can latch on to. The bad guys might as well have been promoting the spread of genital herpes. There are no intelligent questions posed in this movie. The little tart yapping on her cell phone - gasping at V’s “shocking” surprise appearances when the audience least expects it - could understand these concepts. What she couldn’t understand was the utter stupidity of this screen adaptation, the astonishingly uninspired camera work, and the ridiculous set design (V lives in a cave, he is cultured and mysterious, cooks and wears an apron ... he's sensitive, listens to cool jazz, has a Jan van Eyck portrait in plain sight and piles of fusty second hand books so we can understand this. Oh he’s so clever, this V!).

So did I mention the highlight of this piece of garbage was the anti-pirating propaganda movie at the beginning? This movie is only worth watching pirated, but to tell you the truth, it would be a waste of disc space.

Nevertheless, if you decide to aquire a pirated copy, make sure you have copious amounts of psychedelic drugs because you’re going to need them if you want to find anything profound in this movie.

What irks me most is the swindlers released the movie at the beginning of the month, just a week after I got paid, when I have extra cash. Then they had their lackeys write good reviews of it, and bamboozled me into going to see it.

Never again.


I did some research on the writer for the original graphic novel, Alan Moore, and found this interview. He was so disgusted with the screenplay (by Wachowski brothers of Matrix fame) that he took his name off the credits and is not accepting any royalties. He’s lucid enough to know the hyperbolic crap they were turning his graphic novel into wasn’t anywhere near his original vision:

Now, in the film, you've got a sinister group of right-wing figures — not fascists, but you know that they're bad guys — and what they have done is manufactured a bio-terror weapon in secret, so that they can fake a massive terrorist incident to get everybody on their side, so that they can pursue their right-wing agenda. It's a thwarted and frustrated and perhaps largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values [standing up] against a state run by neo-conservatives — which is not what "V for Vendetta" was about. It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about [England]. The intent of the film is nothing like the intent of the book as I wrote it. And if the Wachowski brothers had felt moved to protest the way things were going in America, then wouldn't it have been more direct to do what I'd done and set a risky political narrative sometime in the near future that was obviously talking about the things going on today?

That’s what I’m talking about. Get some balls. Alan Moore gets my respect. His writing is probably too elusive for the mass of multiplex zombies.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Posts aleatorios

The Rant

I would have written more this week, but work has been a nightmare. We are understaffed and overloaded. I’m surprised I’ve written anything at all … to top it off, one of my coworkers somehow got U2 and Oasis on her Itunes. I truly detest those two bands. With a passion. Sometimes this place is unbearable.

The You Won’t Believe This post

In the most daring method acting since Robert Dinero’s portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, Tom Cruise gains 80 pounds, goes bald and grows a wispy mustache in … Torrente

I’m surprised it took this long for Hollywood to pick up on the Torrente franchise. I hope they don’t water it down, but I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s always some special interest group ready to make a fuss.

The great thing about Torrente is he offends everybody … I also learned Spanish with Torrente, so I’m in debt to him.

I finally saw Torrente 3: el Protector a couple months ago. One night I bought the DVD off a Chinese lady who was selling pirated movies for 5 euros, and I gotta admit, they were 5 euros well spent. It’s the best Spanish movie I’ve seen all year. Highlight of the movie: Torrente’s nightmare about FC Barcelona. It’s a shame the vastly overrated La vida secreta de las palabras swept the Goyas - and this gem was totally ignored. The Goyas, like the Oscars, are judged by spineless fools on payola. They’re a total joke and even being associated with these organizations, in my opinion, totally ruins your credibility.

But, I’m thinking Torrente could only be played by Santiago Segura. If the Hollywood bigwigs are smart (not likely, but I’m hoping they’ll have a lapse) they’ll get Santiago Segura to do Torrente goes to America. They could have him hunt down the Mexican Goatsucker in Tijuana and San Diego – and make an homage to one of my all time favorite movies, Touch of Evil. Torrente is, come to think of it, the Spanish version of Orson Welles’ gloriously corrupt cop, Hank Quinlan, minus the brains and three times the libido.

And finally, A Doubt

Speaking (writing?) of credibility, a friend of mine said he’d invest in a Guirilandia T-shirt line if I decided to start one (suddenly Guirilandia is everywhere. Somebody even bought Guirilandia.com, the jerks, so I had to settle for gurilandia.net). So I considered making T-shirts, but decided not to for credibility reasons.

What credibility? What little I have. I would consider selling guirilandia bikinis, however. Or Guirilandia edible panties. There … now I’ve definitely lost all credibility.


That’s it. No more randomness. I’m off to see some freaks now.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Un aforismo Macho Ibérico

Sitting at the zinc counter of a smoky, fluorescent-lit dive bar in Eixample dreta, watching the FC Barcelona/Benfica match. Off to my right, puro-smoking macho ibéricos knock back cognacs and muse on life during a lull in the game. One says:

"They say when you marry you only eat rice, but when you separate, you eat paella."

"Dicen que cuando te casas sólo comes arroz, pero cuando te separas, comes paella."

Basically it means your wife stops cooking for you and you have to eat in bars, paella being the standard menú fare. You could probably substitute arroz 3 delicias for paella.

If these were macho americanos I guess they would find themselves eating burritos and philly cheese steaks. Macho franceses would eat poulet frites; macho alemáns would eat bratwursts; macho ingleses would eat fish & chips … ah the life of men without women. Dive bars and street vendors await.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Inspirational reading for the workplace

To fully understand the corporate world I’ve been reading some select books, available free online (these are, by the way, easily copied and saved in inconspicuous Word documents so you can read them at work).

So far I’ve read:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

"Four legs good, two legs bad" Remember these words when they stick you in a cubicle and expound the merits of teamwork.

1984 by George Orwell

Everyone should read this book and not assume they already know all about it. Recent cultural manifestations like the TV program Gran Hermano have made the message of this book seem banal. But, to illustrate my point, I once had a boss (in Spain) who was grooming me for a managerial position and he explicitly told me to keep my distance from my future subordinates and to report any suspicious behavior or comments - all the while maintaining the facade of "buen rollo". That’s the essence of the totalitarian future in 1984. Everybody gets pitted against each other. Today’s friend is tomorrow’s enemy. Come to think of it, the current hysteria in Spain is like this.

Beyond good and evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was right. That’s why he went crazy at the age of 44. He blew open everything and laid bare the essence of humanity. His questioning of democracy and equality can lead to many interpretations – some really terrible ones – but his psychological insight has illuminated me. Things at work, past jobs, past bosses, make more sense now.

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

I’m currently reading this. Machiavelli wrote The Prince as a handbook for princes who lived in the tumultuous era of 15th century Italy. Governments and corporations use his tactics to this day. I especially like this part of his foreword:

Nor do I hold with those who regard it as a presumption if a man of low and humble condition dare to discuss and settle the concerns of princes; because, just as those who draw landscapes place themselves below in the plain to contemplate the nature of the mountains and of lofty places, and in order to contemplate the plains place themselves upon high mountains, even so to understand the nature of the people it needs to be a prince, and to understand that of princes it needs to be of the people.

This is going to be good …

Next I plan on reading one of those "10 steps to success" - type books (if I can find one free online, that is). Also, one of those books that tells you how to prioritize your life by making lists. And of course, The Art of War by Sun Zu, required reading for corporate mavens the world over. I think, then, I’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s going on around me.

I got started reading all this after a conversation with one of my bosses. I was helping him with a marketing proposal - I can’t remember for who, but I probably shouldn’t mention it – and he was adamant about using phrases and words like penetrate, last ditch, no holds barred, point of no return, saturation, pervade, launch, strike ... and, more often than not, all in one sentence like:

"We must penetrate the PoS in the target country and pervade the marketplace with strategically placed [name your product] in this last ditch no holds barred point of no return launch situation before the competition strikes."

I had a vision of him – a stocky, perpetually flustered looking man with a shock of red hair – wearing a half-cocked doughboy helmet, pointing at a map of the "target" country, saying "We … must … prevail!" I thought to myself, what the hell has this guy been reading? He’s fucking nuts!

I’m in Spain, and initially I thought things would be different … work wise, I mean. Pues, no. It’s the same exact mentality. Multinationals are especially homogenous in this respect. But in any other work environment, even teaching English in an academy, or doing construction work, you will see the same patterns emerging. Essentially people are the same, wherever you go.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Open letters

Dear Swedish speculator,

Please stop renting the apartment next door to drunken Brits with relationship problems.

I have nothing against Brits, or drunkenness in general, but the combination of the two within a codependent relationship is not a pleasant thing.

Kind regards


Dear drunken Brits,

After waking up at 4 AM to the first of five or six door slammings, my girlfriend and I were subjected to the sordid details of your relationship - which were easily heard through the one foot concrete wall which divides our master bedrooms. We all have problems, who am I to deny that?! But please don’t SHOUT about it, even if you are in a foreign country and you don’t care what Spaniards think. You never know who might be listening.

And dude, when you make your point and slam the door as you’re storming out of the apartment, don’t come back and whine after 5 minutes, it just looks bad. You have to hold out. You have to show resolve.

Just my two céntimos


Dear neighbor across the alley,

I’m happy you could finally move to the big city and be as freaky as you want to be. I really am. But please stop playing your crappy house mix CD every morning. I’m sure you got it free with your Telepizza last summer as part of a promotion, and I’m happy you actually like it. It’s not often that a commercially-oriented compilation CD of Spanish canciones de verano (that have been remixed with standard house beats) finds a genuine fan, so count yourself as one of the lucky few. Just don’t blast it, it hurts my brain. And don’t prance around in your underwear while listening to it. That looks REALLY bad.

Thank you

PS: Actually, I take the prancing around comment back. Do it. I'm all for it. Just draw the curtains next time and refrain from blasting that infernal CD.


Here’s a thought. Do you think the Telepizza guy listens to those promotional Telepizza CDs while delivering pizza? Could he be obligated to listen to it as part of a bonus scheme? Could my neighbor, in fact, be a Telepizza guy? These thoughts consume me at work.