Thursday, August 24, 2006


Excuse me while I steal an idea from Mr. and Mrs. The Big Finn...which they, BTW, stole from someone else.

The idea is this...I crank-up my iPod Shuffle and write the opening lyrics to the first ten morsels of iPod meat that come screaming from the ear buds.

You, gentle readers, must correctly guess each song and its artist.

And, oh are NOT allowed to Google.

Whoever guesses the most songs correctly will win a valuable prize. Bear in mind, however, that winning a prize and actually collecting it are two very different things.

And so, without further ado...let's play "Name That Mystery [iPod] Meat!"

1. [Oh, dammit! Wouldn't you know it! The first song was "Pressure Cooker" by Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. It's an instrumental. Let's try again.]

1. Come stumble my mirth beaten worker/I'm Jezmund the family berzerker.

2. In the mist of sassafrass/Many things will come to pass.

3. Well, I'm standing next to a mountain/And I'll chop it down with the edge of my hand.
[Caffe Franje guessed "Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix. Technically, that's not correct. "Voodoo Chile" is a different song on the same album (Electric Ladyland). The song whose lyrics I quote above is actually "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)." But...since I made the same mistake for nearly twenty years, I'll give Franje credit for this one.]

4. Crimson flames tied through my ears/Rollin' high and mighty traps.

5. When the truth is found to be lies/And all the joy within you dies. [Kudos to The Big Finn (TBF) for correctly guessing "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane!]

6. When I move, I'm feeling alright/Bing, bing, bang and I'm ready to go.
[If anyone guesses this, then I'll personally fly to their house and eat the insole of their most smelly pair of shoes. And I'll eat it without ketchup.]
[Oh damn! Harsh correctly guessed "No One's Lazy in LazyTown" by Sportacus. I sure hope that Harsh has small feet.]

7. It's been such a long time/ I think I should be goin'.
[If anyone DOESN'T guess this, then they must eat the insole of my two year old running shoes.]
[TBF strikes again, by correctly guessing "Foreplay/Long Time" by Boston! Guess I'll have to let Jasemine eat those shoes.]

8. When I get off of this mountain/You know where I wanna go.
[Lady Di's main squeeze, Gert, correctly guessed "Up on Cripple Creek" by The Band. Lady Di remains unamused.]

9. A cheap holiday in other people's misery!
[TBF shows is punker roots by correctly guessing "Holidays in the Sun" by The Sex Pistols!]

10. Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup.

[Euro-Trac emerges from her hermetically-sealed cocoon in France and correctly guesses "Across the Universe" by that band that need not be mentioned.]

Let's synchronize our watches, shall we? Today is August 24. You have a week to complete this mission.

Good luck, 007...and God's speed.


My scholarly dissertation on the Spanish liquor “Anis” is now published in The Spirit World.

Check it out by clicking here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I’m right here. In Spain. But this time, I’m not lying.

Before I begin an admittedly feeble attempt to justify my absence from Blogland, let me apologize to my good friends La Familia Big Finn and Lady “No Longer on the Market” Di—all of whom sought to determine my whereabouts with a tenacity that hasn’t been seen since “Rambo 2.”

So, where have I been all this time? I was in Chicago until yesterday morning.

“ told us last week that you had returned from Chicago...well, last week.”

That’s right. I lied.

I wanted to post something on the VTB last week, but didn’t want to tell all those Nigerians who keep sending me emails that the contents of my house would be available for an unobstructed, week-long harvest. So...I used the miracle of the Internet to spread a bit of false information. And why not? Everyone else does it.

“ DID have access to a computer in Chicago, but still chose to post almost nothing for three weeks?”

That’s right. I’m lazy.

Plus, my brain and energies have been tugged into other parts of the stratosphere lately. But hey...that doesn’t mean that I don’t love you all. Seriously! I don’t not love you all at all.

But enough of that. The tiny flame of creativity in my head is starting to flicker again, so let’s use it before I get distracted by something sumo wrestling on Eurosport.

- WHAT DID YOU DO IN CHICAGO FOR THREE WEEKS?: I spent one week hanging out, the second week working at Acme Low Carb Tongue Depressors, Inc. and the last week hanging out some more.

- HOW DO YOU DEFINE “HANGING OUT?”: Well...I visited a bunch of old friends that I hadn’t seen in years, ate a lot of spicy ethnic foods that Spaniards wouldn't like, and drank Starbuck's Coffee. A lot of Starbuck's coffee.

- HOW DO YOU DEFINE “A LOT OF STARBUCK'S COFFEE?”: Let’s just say that, on one particular day, I nearly equalled Jimmy Stewart’s performance in “Vertigo.” People as naturally-wired as I am have no business drinking Starbuck’s coffee—no matter how bloody good that stuff tastes on ice.

- WHICH WAS THE BEST MEAL YOU HAD?: It depends how you define “best.” In one sense, the best meal I had was baked goat cheese and mini filet mignon sandwiches at Hugo’s Frog Bar in Naperville. In another sense, the best meal I had was take-out Thai food with a bottle of Bierzo wine.

- WHAT?! NO BBQ?: Nope. I had no BBQ on this trip. Nor did I have any Cajun. But I did have Indian at least forty seven times. Sorry Mrs. TBF, but I missed out on that combo sammich. But there’s always next time.

- SO, WHEN ARE YOU GOING BACK? Pretty soon. Although not soon enough.

- ANY PARTING THOUGHTS: Yes. Congrats to Lady Di and Gert. BTW...looooove your shoes!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Man! You guys are a persistent bunch! Relentless, even!

Yes, yes, yes...I've been a posterboy for sloth recently. But, it's not my fault. It's Chicago's fault. That's where I've been vegetating for the past week or so. guys have known me long enough to know that an extended absence from blogville means that I'm probably stuffing my face with Italian Beef on the other side of the ocean.

This latest Chicago trip was, like all the others, fabulous. I saw some friends that I was dying to see, ate a lot of irresistible foods that Europeans would likely poo-poo, and watched enough Iron Chef on the Food Network to qualify as a Japanese language scholar.

About the only downside to my trip was the trip itself. Iberia Airlines--which I praised so highly for upgrading me to Business Class two months ago--blew it's stash of goodwill by overbooking our Madrid/Chicago flight. Ines and I arrived at the airport 2.5 hours before departure, only to be told that there were no seats available. me cynical, but I've lived in Spain long enough to doubt--and doubt very seriously--that 300 of my fellow passengers arrived at the airport and claimed their seats before we did. This is, after all, a nation that can't even sit down for lunch before the sun begins to set.

When they first informed me that the flight was full (despite the fact that we bought our tickets six months earlier), I optimistically assumed that they'd just upgrade us. I was, after all, travelling with a 3.5 year old; plus, I gave this stupid, incompetently-managed airline a boatload of free publicity in Expatica just a few weeks earlier.

Well...Iberia couldn't quite muster two seats in Business Class, but they did muster two seats on a flight to Miami.

Miami. For those of you who are not cartographers, I can assure you that Miami is not exactly a suburb of Chicago.

So, Ines and I flew nine hours to Miami. Then stared at a lot of obese people with sunburns during a five hour layover. Then boarded a three hour flight from Miami to Chicago.

In short, we left our home in Madrid at 8:30am and arrived at my parents' house in Chicago--are you ready for this?--TWENTY THREE HOURS LATER!!!

But the fun continued.

Although our bodies finally arrived in Chicago, our luggage didn't. In fact, our luggage didn't arrive until three days later. And while I certainly appreciated my father's offer to lend me some of his underwear, the five inch difference in our waistlines necessitated a polite refusal and an emergency trip to Target.

Once the luggage did arrive, however, all was well. Ines and I not only returned to Spain with a cache of happy memories...but also, with enough underwear for the entire population of Madrid.