Saturday, July 14, 2007

Of pride and the fall

So this evening, for dinner, I went back to the ribs place. I had bought my copy of El País, and alternated during dinner between reading what the Spaniards think of David Foster Wallace's latest offering "Hablamos de Langostas" (Consider the Lobster) and watching the E-Spanish bersion of that ever-popular American TV staple - the woman who is so fat that she is unable to get out of bed. Parenthetical note - by American standards, the E-spanish señora was a mere piker, weighing in at a puny 210 kg, not even coming close to the 500-pound mark; they don't even pay attention on the Maury Povitch show unless someone is at least 900 lb and needs assistance breaking down the wall of the trailer in order to get out of bed.

Anyway, the ribs were juicy, the waiter was friendly, helping me with vocabulary words, and I was feeling pretty good about my life in general, and my Spanish knowledge in particular. Can you spell P - R - I - D - E ?

The waiter returns with the dessert menu. Nothing piques my appetite, so I decide instead to have a liqueur. With unwarranted self-satisfaction, I order a Drambuie with "un poquito de helado". The waiter seems surprised? Am I sure? Mutual confusion for a half a minute or so, until the penny finally drops. The word for "ice" is not "helado", dammit, it's "hielo".

Though, come to think of it, Drambuie and ice-cream sounds like a pretty decent combination too.

At least the waiter was kind enough not to offer to bring me the English version of the menu.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I knew nothing about Natalie Imbruglia before seeing these videos:

Got to give her major points for good humor and charm.


As part of our commitment to scouring the internet for the good stuff so that you can spend your time at work shopping on E-Bay, here is a link to the exciting and entertaining Bun-o-Vision site.

Rabbits re-enacting major Hollywood movies in 30 second summaries - what's not to love?

1000 demons

As I close in on my final week here in Madrid, I begin, very cautiously, to breathe a slow sigh of relief. One of the worries about scheduling a three-month stay, to span the months of May, June, and July was - well - July in Madrid. Whenever I would mention to a Spaniard that I was planning to be in Madrid during July, there would be an inevitable furrowing of the brow, followed by deployment of the phrase "un calor de mil demonios" (the heat of a thousand demons).

But, I am relieved to report, so far things have been entirely soportable. While daytime temperatures have occasionally climbed to the mid-90's, there is a general cooling off at night, and the humidity has been reasonable.

I have my own theory as to why this has been the case. It is my belief that many of the hard-working heat demons have been seconded by Pope Rat-zinger to the newly reopened infierno, to deploy their little toasting forks in poking at Jerry Falwell and his ilk. This leaves central Spain suffering a seasonal shortage of demons, accounting for the relatively tolerable summer temperatures. Exact figures are hard to come by, but if one thinks that each circle of hell would need 100 demons as a skeleton crew, this leaves a maximum of 100 for Madrid.

I am working on an exact equation to convert the number of demons to degrees Fahrenheit, but my formula is not quite ready for prime time. Here, however, is how to convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius, and vice versa:

F = 32 + (9/5) x C

C = (5/9) x (F - 32)