Friday, October 21, 2011


Even though I have only just recently raised my overall continents-visited total to two, that number is about to increase again, by exactly 50% in fact, to three. After about four minutes of discussion, some of my colleagues and I decided that the air was not hot and dry enough in Spain, so to seek even warmer, more arid climates, we are traveling several hundred miles (or "kilometers", as they ass-backwardsly say here) to the continent of Africa, specifically to the country of Morocco. Many of you may be familiar with Morocco  as the setting of the timeless film "Casablanca", a movie which has absolutely nothing to do with White Houses, despite its misleading title. It also has nothing to do with Humphrey Bogart being a badass and much more to do with him lamenting various lame-ass loves lost, and saying very famous, impetuous lines of dialogue.
Morocco, being an awesome place, has wild monkeys. This makes it rank high on the list of Awesome Countries I Have Visited That Have Wild Monkeys, the only other current entry being Mexico, and I wasn't even in that awesome part of the country. I was in the part with lots of sand and cacti. Not many monkeys. Apparently, based on the fact that Morocco has these wild apes, there hath burgeoned a cottage industry of Chaining Monkeys Up and Making Them Do Funny Things for Tourists. Fortunately, we are visiting Marrakech, Morocco, where this entrepreneurial phenomenon has gained its strongest foothold in the bazaar of Jemaa el-Fnaa, which is one of the busiest and largest public squares in the world, a place I totally, definitely did not just learn everything I know about from Wikipedia. In Jemaa el-Fnaa, which borders on the unpronounceability of the most vowel-lacking Slavic last name, training chained, hungry Barbary apes to do their masters' cruel bidding is one of the area's most lauded past times, and I know that your's truly will soon be checking up on the laws for across-border primate transportation.
To get to our captive-simian destination, we're going to be flying with RyanAir, a blossoming Irish airline with a lower budget than a Canadian MLB team. RyanAir has become famous in recent years for their maddeningly low ticket prices, which they can proffer due in part to severe skimping on every single part of their budgetary expenses, save (hopefully) the wings, fuselage, and other somewhat important, integral parts to a flying machine. I've never flown RyanAir before but apparently the insides of the airplanes are covered in advertisements, as if the passengers have been condemned to fly in the inside of a European soccer jersey or a budget-shortfallen city metro car. Personally, I can't wait for the experience. I don't know about you, proverbial hypothetical ghost-reader, but I have always looked around airplanes and lamented the acres of virgin white space, just ripe and lusting for crass advertisements. It's about goddamn time airlines started making money off stupid bullshit!
Once our Doritos®-sponsored plane out of Madrid lands in Tangiers, in the nothern-most part of the country, we are going to procure the least dangerous taxi we can find and try to get to the train station. Then, we are going to take an overnight train to Marrakech.
And there, my friends, trained monkeys await.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12th - The Rearing Righteous Head of Sloth

I had grand plans of adventures
On Spain’s special day
But alas, instead, both sloth and sorrow
Done wasted my day away.

I schemed to hike a mountain,
I planned to survey the land,
I desired to use my bird’s eye view
To erase my mind’s miles of sand.

But unfortunately, as do the plans
Of mice and men cascade
To the ground, my day’s plans have gone,
And I know they can’t be saved.

So here I am, feeling bad for me'self
My warm computer in my lap,
Writing this quasi-thoughtful poem
As an excuse to take a nap.

So this is for all those wandering, wan souls
Whose days desire to be free,
From wanton plans, demands and schedules
That bind them eternally.

“Oh no, I should be doing such and such,”
Screams the restless mind,
But for fiestas commemorating massacres,
Well, maybe a little rest is fine.
Actually, now I realize
That I can give my excuse more weight
If I add humanistic themes,
Protesting oppressive states.

So my sad-for-yourself and morose masses
Seize upon your sloth
As a symbolic gesture of solidarity
With those whom empires wrote off.

Instead of worrying about achievements,
Engagements, and prior arrangements,
I’ll dedicate my restful nap,
To those who couldn’t take one
Due to imperialism’s trap.

And so with that, my excuse is made
My reasoning aspersion-proof
So fuck all the reprimanding, demanding plans,
With my nap, I fight for truth.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A strange phenomenon / Un fenómeno extraño

            In Spanish, there is no word for “procrastination”.
Usually, with the “-tion” words, one can just change the ending to “-ción”, throw a couple of extra letters in here and there, and voilà, you’ve got your Spanish translation. Sure, sometimes the translated word will not echo the original meaning perfectly, but at least you’ve produced a real-life Spanish word. I’ll show you some examples:
“nation” – “nación”
“position” – “posición”
“station” – “estación”
You get the gist.
Sometimes, like I said, the original word will mean something slightly different than the Spanish “equivalent” you end up with. Take every pyromaniac-pseudo-poet’s favorite:
“conflagration” – “conflagración”
While in English, the former is a nearly-unnecessary word that means a large fire (I’m pretty sure you can almost always say “fire” instead and sound like less of a turn-of-the-century British asshole), the latter Spanish version actually means an outbreak of war, an uprising, or a revolt. I actually like “conflagración” a lot more than “conflagration”, and I think from here on out, it should be used in a lot of really epic Spanish-language metal songs.

Inasmuch, no matter what you do to the word “procrastination” (one of my favorites in good ol’ English), nothing can turn it into Spanish. One would think a simple “-tion”/”-ción” switcharoo, giving us “procrastinación”, would do the job, but alas, we are left with an Anglicism - an orphan of a direct transliteration, a non-word that wants so badly to have its linguistic Gepetto turn it into a real boy. I mean word. Turn it into a real word.
So some people have been asking me in recent days, “Alex, why haven’t you updated your blog yet? What are you doing over there in Spain that is so goshdarned important that it precludes you from signing onto the internet and writing a ludicrously self-indulgent synopsis of your Iberian travails? You mean to tell me that dealing with epithet-shouting, paper-avión-throwing, other-person-starting-it-accusing, million-mile-an-hour-Spanish-speaking twelve-year old Castillian hellions is making you too tired to write a blog entry at night? You mean you want to just drink a 1.65€ bottle of wine and chill out instead of trying to think of something to write at night?

Well, I used to know the word for this phenomenon, but it seems to be escaping at the moment.