Friday, August 24, 2007

¡Ya está!

El examen, he is done. So it's off to the cena para celebrar. At some point, about 10 weeks from now, I will be able to check the Cervantes Institute website and find out whether I passed ("apto") or not. Apparently this is all I will find out - they are not big on giving further information. Speed in grading is apparently also not a priority, which seems particularly shameless since four out of five parts of the written exam were multiple choice, to be corrected by a scanner. But I guess they really want to do justice to those two 200-word essays that everyone wrote.

But, el examen, he is done!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Magic oranges of Spain

This loaded somewhat slowly on my computer, so you may want to open it in a new window (it is worth the wait):

magic oranges of spain

lapiz # 2

Just checking in to say that I will be back to post something of more substance once tomorrow's exam (which takes place from 8:40am to 1:00pm) is over and done with. I have my #2 pencil and my eraser, and am as ready as I will ever be. So I am taking this evening off from studying.

¡Hasta pronto!


The plain people of Ireland: ..
The management: ¡Callaos! Not now.
The plain people of Ireland: But we just wanted to wish you "mucha mierda".
The management: In that case, thank you, and please forgive my ungraciousness.
The plain people of Ireland: Ah, sure that's just the pre-exam stress. Nuala had fierce nerves the whole time she was doing her Leaving. There was no talking to the poor girl.
The management: You are very gracious.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The rules of cuteness

Warning: major cuteness ahead. (The URL beneath each photo links to the site from which it was taken).

LOLcat does HTML

Cuteness trifecta (and possible recipe for world peace)

Hedgehog of the month, April 2007

¿Qué dice la gallina?

I am indebted to my good friend PB for the following link:

Spanish animal sounds and associated verbs

El tiburón de Tarragona, que descanse en paz

It is with a heavy heart that I must report the death of the brave tiburón de Tarragona, who now swims in more peaceful waters:


¡Que descanse en paz!

La prueba oral

Now, I know "prueba oral" might sound a little invasive, but let me assure everyone that no oral probing was involved. However, the first part of this week's exams is over. I am happy to report that it was uneventful in all the right ways - I chattered on, with reasonably fluency, about the various places I have lived, what there was to like and dislike about each. Although I did manage to squeeze in the term "axilla del mundo" (armpit of the world), in reference to Nueva Jersey, it is with great regret that I have to inform my readers that there just didn't seem to be a natural way to turn the conversation to the topic of duck vibrators. So I never did get to work the phrase "patito-vibrador" into my little presentation.

Maybe next time, in the DELE superior.

This afternoon's test was a walk in the park, I am pleased to report.

With apologies to all the fine citizens of Nueva Jersey, which is - of course - a fine place to live. And if anyone has a particular interest in living in Jersey City, I have a fine condominium there that we could discuss some time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shark update

No self-respecting blog would go an entire summer without a shark report. So here's mine:

La Cruz Roja ha capturado el tiburón de Tarragona

Sadly, el tiburón está "muy debilitado" en el Aquarium. On the bright side, the beach is once again safe for frolicking holidaygoers, guiris and españoles alike.

Can you tell I am engaged in avoidance behavior vis-a-vis the oral part of my exam, which has been moved up from Thursday afternoon to tomorrow afternoon at 5. But, as someone once noted, "que será, será". The future's not ours to see.

The Institute of Official Cheer

It occurs to me that, in over 200 posts, I have yet to mention the sheer comic genius that is James Lileks. Let me rectify that right here and now by providing this link:

Warning: you could spend hours of your life exploring the institute's site. But, in my humble opinion, they will not be wasted hours of your life. So, click on the link above, and prepare to guffaw. (Not for those deficient in irony).

Likable Wilma

Likable Wilma
by William Blake

Wilma, Wilma, in thy blouse,
Red-haired prehistoric spouse,
What immortal animator
Was thy slender waist's creator?

When the Rubble clan moved in,
Was Betty jealous of thy skin,
Thy noble nose, thy dimpled knee?
Did he who penciled Fred draw thee?

Wilma, Wilma, burning bright, ye
Cartoon goddess Aphrodite,
Was it Hanna or Barbera
Made thee hot as some caldera?

Well, no, this "poem" was not written by William Blake. It is actually the work of one Francis Heaney, the comic genius behind the slim volume "The Holy Tango of Literature", which contains a series of poems answering the question "What if poets wrote poems whose titles were anagrams of the poet's own name?". Other gems include "Toilets", "by" T.S. Eliot, "Skinny Domicile", "by" Emily Dickinson and - my personal favorite - "Hen Gonads" by - well, you should be able to figure it out for yourself.

If not, here is a link to the content online:

Warning: may cause uncontrollable, hysterical laughter, of the kind which makes you snort liquids out your nose.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Itinerary update

For anyone following my progress by sticking little pins on a map, I added a week here in Salamanca (since I didn't want to have to leave the day immediately following the exam, and - to be honest - I haven't had that much time yet to explore the city fully). Then, on September 1st, it's back to Madrid for a few days, before continuing to Ireland, from where I will leave for London, and my flight back to San Francisco on September 17th.


Just a brief post, prior to Blogger's "scheduled outage" in a little bit, just to say that there will likely be few posts this week, as I am actually trying to study for Friday's exam. Apparently that little striving over-achiever that lives within has not been completely vanquished.

Still brainstorming on ways to work the phrase "patito-vibrador" into the conversation during Thursday afternoon's oral exam. (Snerk!)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Buenas vibraciones (WARNING: ADULT CONTENT)

Ellas también quieren jugar.

So trumpets the headline in one of the articles in this week's Sunday magazine of El País, and who am I to argue? The "ellas" in question appears to refer to eSpanish mujeres in general, the majority of whom, según el artículo, appear to thirst lasciviously for a far greater degree of sensual and sexual stimulation than is currently being provided by their good-for-nothing partners. As a result, it is not uncommon to turn to more prosthetic aids to pleasure, such as the following:

buenas vibraciones

Buenas vibraciones con el 'patito-vibrador'

From the same article:

Esposas en esposas

Esposas y esposas

The word "esposas" in eSpanish means both "spouses" and "handcuffs", a fact which you are free to interpret as you see fit. Personally, even as a card-carrying homosexual (not true, actually, I may have left my card at home in San Francisco), the photograph above gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Then there was this:

For which the caption in "El País" read: "Bolas chinas para ejercitar la pelvis. 'Dildos'. Geles para sensibilizar el clítoris ...... las mujeres quieren que despierten sus zonas dormidas".

Now, please don't get me wrong. I just love it when "El País" talks dirty. And how could I not appreciate that finely placed "despierten", as perfect an example of the subjunctive used to express a wish or desire as one could ever, well, wish or desire. But am I the only one who finds it vexing that "clítoris" en español is a masculine noun?

Of course, the real challenge in all of this will be to figure out how to work the phrase "patito-vibrador" (duck-vibrator) into my oral examination later this week.

Hernández y Fernández

Or, if you prefer, Dupont & Dupond, Thomson & Thompson, دوپونت و دوپونت , Schultze & Schulze, Jansen & Janssen, Skapti & Skafti.

Yes, you've guessed it, it's our beloved pair of bumblers from the Tintin series. Why do they appear on my blog, I hear you ask? Well, because, for some unknown reason, Salamanca appears to have a love affair with Tintin, at least as far as the naming of restaurants and bars is concerned. There is not just one Tintin restaurant, but two:

as well as a bar named for the irascible Captain Haddock:

And, of course, a café called Hernández y Fernández, abbreviated as H'dez y F'dez.
Why this Salmantine obsession with the characters of Hervé? I have no idea. But it was something to blog about.
The widespread changing of "f" to "h" in Spanish (e.g. "faire" to "hacer", "fungus" to "hongo") is a whole 'nother linguistic kettle of fish, one to which I will return in a future post.

(Images in this post are illustrations of a character or characters in a comic book, video game, or animated television program or film. The copyright is most likely owned by either the publisher/producer and/or artist(s) producing the work in question. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of character artwork, for commentary on the character or characters in question, qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law. )

The plain people of Ireland: Here, what's this? You can't fool us. Our Farsi might be a bit rusty, but there's not a speck of difference between them two Persian names above.
The management: How very astute of you to notice. I had the same thought myself. But, truth be told, it was cut and pasted from the relevant Wikipedia article, so believe at your own risk.
The plain people of Ireland: Well, why didn't you explain that in the first place? Sure 'tis a known fact that them Wikipedia fellas are downright shifty.
The management: How sadly true.