Friday, August 10, 2007

Furry grim reaper

Oscar, the pussycat of doom

Thanks to my dear friend, Anna, for this link.

Cebra salmantina, con zapatos rojos

cebra salmantina

Emergency vocabulary update

la conejita Playboy : the Playboy bunny

The plain people of Ireland: Could you use it in a sentence, please?
The management: Certainly. "Un juez ha prohibido la difusión de un video en el que se ve la operación para aumentar sus pechos a la que sometió Anna Nicole Smith, la conejita Playboy fallecida en febrero". (A judge has prohibited distribution of a video showing the breast augmentation surgery undergone by A.N.S., the Playboy bunny who died last February).


In Wednesday's entry, I mistakenly identified the "photo which has escandalized eSpain". Here is a copy of the (correct) photo in question:

The princess of Astúrias is on the left; la Reina Sofía (the person, not the art gallery) is on the right. Picture courtesy of those fine paparazzi at ¡Hola!

Just thought you would want me to set the record straight.

Doesn't "taste like chicken"

Culinary update: yesterday evening, after the culture class (peoples and countries of Hispanoamérica) I joined some of the other students and we went to a tapas bar. One with tapas exóticas. For the first time in my life I tasted ostrich meat (avestruz) which, oddly enough, did not taste like chicken. We decided to pass on the other possibility of kangaroo meat. If only because the eSpanish word for kangaroo (canguro) also means "nanny", so one couldn't have been 100% sure of what one was actually ordering.

Afterwards we went to the heladería in the Plaza Mayor which always has the longest lines and I had some of the best ice-cream in my life (queso con arandanas and queso con membrillo - cheesecake with cranberries and with quince jelly, respectively). Right up there with the frutas del bosque in Sevilla and Granada.

Unfortunately, it has to be mentioned that something on the tapas menu didn't agree with me (problemas gastrointestinales), so that I didn't actually make it to class today. More's the pity.

Despite today's absence, I still feel that I have learned a bunch since coming here 10 short days ago, and have high hopes for the next two weeks of classes as well. I now read the paper from top to bottom (de cabo a rabo), even the boring economic articles. You never know what might come up on the test!

Meanwhile there is tomorrow's excursion to Toledo to look forward to. Life is good.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

They groom horses, don't they?

Just in case any of the male readers of this blog ever find themselves in Spain in need of a haircut, I will just offer that the more useful phrase is "peluquería de caballeros", not "peluquería de caballos". Though, speaking from experience, use of the latter phrase will make a Spaniard laugh so hard they snort agua mineral through their nose.

Meanwhile, for a pictorial tour of Salamanca, including photos of the Don Quijote piso de lujo (where I am currently living), click on the link below:

The street where I live

The street where I live.

Vocabulary update

Three recent acquisitions that I enjoyed particularly:

ayuno: meaning fast, from the verb ayunar. Hence the word desayuno, for breakfast.

antojo: meaning a craving, caprice, or whim. It also means birthmark, because of a putative association between unsatisfied cravings during pregnancy and the occurrence of birthmarks.

ajo: meaning garlic. More interesting is the derived phrase "estar en el ajo" (literally, to be in the garlic), meaning to know the score, to be clued into things.

The plain people of Ireland: Here, wait a minute, it looks like you were too lazy to go beyond the A-entries in the dictionary. What's up?
The management: I can see how you might get that impression, but I assure you that it's not an accurate one. All parts of my dictionary are grubby and well-thumbed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mujeres desesperadas

I'm sure that fans of "Desperate Housewives" (a show I have never actually seen) will be as delighted as I was at the news that David Beckham and Robbie Williams will be featured in the upcoming season as a gay couple who move into the neighborhood of Honeysuckle Court or Cherry Blossom Crescent or Magnolia Mansions, or whatever the hell it's called.

Appointment TV, for those who like that sort of thing. With the addition of this type of metrosexual and ????sexual talent, the sky is the limit!

Bicentennial post, achieved without steroids

After mature consideration, I decided how better to celebrate this 200th post aquí en España than with this (unfortunately rather small) reproduction of the photo about which everyone is talking this week, that of the future queen, Doña Letizia taken in her beach wear, as the royal family spend some time in their residencia estival (el palacio de Marivent de Palma de Mallorca).
Note that a subscription to la Semana, which - unfortunately - I do not possess (even I have to set limits somewhere) would allow you to weigh in on such important questions on whether or not you believe that Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson engaged in some offscreen canoodling, as well as whether the Infanta (and future queen) Leonór resembles her grandma, Queen Sofía.
Anyone with strong views on either of these two burning questions is invited to leave a comment on this blog.
The plain people of Ireland: Funny that "estival" means the same thing in English as it does in Spanish.
The management: Your erudition astonishes me, frankly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More pictures of Salamanca

My apartment is just around the corner from the DonQuijote café.
Coming tomorrow: post #200!

The Curator

If this doesn't move you, nothing will:

The Curator (a poem by Miller Williams)

El País

"So, David", I imagine my adoring public asking me, "how do you keep up with current events, while you are over there in Iberia? It must be hard to stay abreast of the latest Bush administration atrocities."

Indeed, though it seems fair to point out that not keeping completely abreast of said atrocities might be considered a major advantage of living here in eSpain. Depressingly enough, it's not as if they are going to go away any time soon, and there will presumably be ample time to catch up with things upon my return to San Francisco.

Nonetheless, the question is a fair one, and deserves a serious answer. I have two primary sources for keeping up on current events while I am over here. The first is the always-informative, who can stop sending me e-mails already - I renewed my subscription last night, OK? Smart, eclectic, funny, informative, with a definite liberal bias (they are, after all, San Francisco based), Salon is also host to Table Talk, a highly eclectic, intelligent, funny, muy simpático community of subscribers, who have been an invaluable group of online friends for me during the past year or so.

My second major information source these days is the newspaper El País and its online website. Among the main Spanish dailies, it would be considered the most left-wing, in contrast to the ultra-conservative ABC, (a reliable mouthpiece for - say - the view of the Catholic hierarchy, as well as of those remaining diehard franquistas), or the more middle-of-the-road El Mundo. I generally buy El País at least three days a week (to read it daily would be an impossible time-sink; articles in the Sunday magazine section alone can keep me going for days). For whatever reason, it seems to suit my level exactly - the articles are interesting, generally well-written, and understandable, while still presenting enough of a challenge to keep expanding my vocabulary. Often as not, at 3:30, after the morning´s classes have ended, you'll find me eating lunch in a local café, poring over the newspaper, underlining unfamiliar words for subsequent lookup. I wish I could say that the percentage of unfamiliar words is steadily decreasing, but this doesn't yet seem to be the case. On the other hand, it is really good for my vocabulary.

Helpful hint: for up-to-date news of goings on in the Bourbon family, the País website is far superior to the paper itself (way more photos). Though of course, for special occasions, such as the recent royal baptism of the Infanta, it may be worth splurging on one of those magazines specifically dedicated to this aspect of eSpanish life. Might I suggest Hello! magazine? They have a special subsection devoted to the goings-on of assorted European royal families, and Eurotrash generally.

As a public service, here is the link:


Domestic bliss

So, here I sit, in the piso de lujo of Don Quijote, just hanging out, doing laundry. ¡En casa! Quite a change from the laundry-challenged days of Granada. Why, I think I may just have to put on a fresh pair of socks. Just because I can. Courtesy of the lavadora por excelencia, pictured below:

lavadora en casa

The plain people of Ireland: ¿Laundry? ¡Laundry! Is that the best you can do? You expect us to care about your laundry?
The management: Why, no and no, since you ask. Read my next scintillatingly insightful post about Spanish print media, complete with links to la prensa rosa.
The plain people of Ireland: Oh, fair enough so.

Monday, August 6, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night

Previously on this blog, we had cause to mention Edward Bulwer-Lytton, and his eponymous contest, to find the worst opening sentence for an (imaginary) novel.

Well, this year's contest results are now available:

My personal favorite is the winning sentence from the adventure category for this year, reproduced below in its full glory:

As the hippo's jaws clamped on Henry's body he noted the four huge teeth badly in need of a clean, preferably with one of those electric sonic toothbrushes, and he reflected that his name would be immortalized by his unusual death, since hippo killings are not a daily occurrence, at least not in the high street of Chipping Sodbury.

Tim Lafferty
Horsell, Woking, UK

But there are many more, equally hilarious, entries at the link given above. Check it out!

OK, maybe just one more, from the children's section:

Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was Polartec 200 (thanks to gene splicing, a diet of force-fed petrochemical supplements, and regular dips in an advanced surface fusion polymer), which had the fortunate side effect of rendering it inedible, unlike that other Mary's organic lamb which misbehaved at school and wound up in a lovely Moroccan stew with dried apricots and couscous.

Julie JensenLodi, CA .

There's just so much raw talent out there. It makes a person think.

Nueva semana

This morning, four more students piled in to our preparatory class for el DELE intermedio, bringing our total to 8 (the maximum number in any Don Quijote class). Since I have been spoiled in the past months by being in classes where the typical number of students rarely exceeded 5, it feels distinctly crowded. Oddly, though there are only 3 students in the conversation class that I take immediately following the four hours of DELE preparation, this class too leaves something to be desired, as the other two students are at a considerably lower level.

As a result, I feel oddly disgruntled, while recognizing how unreasonable this response is. To keep things in perspective, I should note that I still feel like I am learning a hell of a lot. In particular, I am happy to note that my almost complete inability to speak Spanish (or any language, really) a week ago today, when I arrived back in Madrid, has been completely cured, and that I am yapping away at full speed again.

But I simply cannot manage to watch two hours of Spanish TV daily, as has been recommended by our teachers. The risk of permanent brain damage is simply too great to be ignored.

On the (very) positive side, Salamanca is proving to be a charming, highly accessible, fun city. The fact that my age is at least twice that of the average student is something I simply choose not to obsess about.

Well, maybe just a little.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Classic headline

"Turkey swears in new parliament"

Plucked from the headlines. The backstory: the regrettable recent rise in meleagrine Tourette's syndrome.

El museo de brujería

El museo de brujería

Por desgracías, el museo estuvo cerrado cuando estabamos en Segovía.