Thursday, July 28, 2005

¡Felíz 28 de julio!

It's Peruvian Independence Day!! Xan spent it basically being held by his Oma and Opa, one of which happens to be Peruvian, though I'm sure he'll at least learn more about how Peru smells with our big party on Saturday. Last year, I kinda forgot to tell anyone I was thinking about throwing a party and so basically no one showed up. And usually people are all excited about our Oscar parties in February and then don't show. This time we planned a little ahead of time and so far 57 people have responded to our invite. Egad!! For those of you in the DC area who read this, you're all invited -- but come early if you want some food, hahaha.

The heat also broke last night, thanks to an amazing thunderstorm, and it's about damn time. My poor parents arrived from wintry, foggy Lima to this horrendous heat wave and then had to sit inside all day yesterday because it was so frigging hot. Today, sitting on the porch and watching traffic with Xan was actually quite pleasant.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Potential masochist? No, just delayed reaction...

We just got back from Xan's 4-month foursome of shots. The amazing thing is that he laughed through the first two. (He realized something was going on by #3.) Still, quite a trooper: it's less than an hor later right now and he seems perfectly fine, shots forgotten.

X sometimes doesn't mark the spot

It is no secret that our son is named Alexander at least in part because of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The real reason is because we had agreed that he should have a name that could translate into the three languages that we speak -- English, Spanish and Polish -- which meant that he would not get my name, which doesn't translate into any other language at all. Alexander fit very nicely: Aleksander, Alejandro. Plus, it lent itself to the possibilities of a nickname with a "Z" sound, which would make me very happy. (My first choice, Zachary, had long been rejected by both my wife and my mother.)

We couldn't bring ourselves to call him "Xander," however, just because it would be a little too close to the series. Not that we don't love the character Xander Harris -- I, for one, perhaps identified a little too closely to his goofy, sad-sack ways and how much those indeed emulated my own high school experience. (Xander was cooler, however, than I was. Jenny can confirm that.) Angela found that a possible nickname was "Xan," which we thought was way cool, and there we go: our child's nickname.

A few months ago, I found out that an old college friend, Angela Lee, was moving to DC and indeed was also pregnant. She informed us that she was having a boy and that they too had decided on the name Alexander. I thought this was great. A couple weeks ago, right after she got to town, she came to see me on campus and she saw my Xander Harris action figure (in camouflage from the Halloween episode, purchased while I was at a conference from the New Orleans Tower Records entirely because it was 90% off). She said, "That's what Xander Harris is like?" I said, "Oh yeah," and then went off describing the character's life as a loveable loser. "Oh great," she said, "maybe I don't want him to be named that after all."

I laughed it off and didn't think about it. This last weekend, we were both headed to Annapolis to celebrate our friend Ric getting tenure at the USNA. (We were there to assure various people that, yes, Ric used to have very long hair.) I also finally met Angela's husband, whose name is Peter Harris.

It took me until the drive home when Angela finally spelled out for me the problem with now naming him Alexander: the fact that his last name would be, as it turns out, Harris. In other words, their son would have the exact name as the BTVS character.

Somehow I missed that.

Of course, she's 36 weeks pregnant and so far the only other name they have for their child is "Moo-Shiu Godzilla" so maybe there will be a real Alexander Harris after all. (Although wouldn't you want to be a kid named "Godzilla"? Your friend at the playground could point at you while you're arriving, then run away screaming while you stomp on sand sculptures emulating Tokyo. Plus, his initials would then be MSG.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The agony of dishpan hands

(To combine two late 70s catchphrases concerning ABC's Wide World of Sports and Palmolive...)

Angela and I have developed something of a routine these days over dinner. Given the garbage that is the summer season (and trying to set a decent example for Xan), we have pretty much stopped watching television. Rather than turn on the TV, we have taken to playing nightly games of Scrabble. This presents something of a problem because, quite frankly, I have become a decent casual player and therefore beat the bejeesus out of Angela. This upsets her... and yet the masochistic minx comes back for more! What to do?

My solution was simple. Usually in our house, one person makes dinner and one person does the dishes -- the catch being that we both love to cook and both hate to do dishes. (And we don't generate enough dishes to justify using the dishwasher, but use enough to make washing a load by hand annoying.) When Scrabble is the form of dining entertainment, however, it's the winner that has to do the dishes. In essence, my exhileration at winning (and her depression at losing) is short-lived, since then I'm faced with suds. Says she, "It makes losing a lot better these days." (Today's winning word: POTHERS (meaning something similar to "bothers," seven letters with the S also making BASICS, for 74 points. Go me!)

I mean, why bother posting anything about my OWN life?

Today was really fun.
I got out of bed really early because I had terrible stomach cramps.

I feel sad, because Sarah and Britney are complete bitches. They told everyone I have an STD, just because I slept with both of their boyfriends on Saturday night.

I'm so happy. I just found out that I have been accepted into Harvard. And Yale. I don't know which to choose... oh, why is life so hard sometimes?

Last night I had to shave my entire body. Apparently, the lice that I caught from Amanda's friend are really hard to get rid of. I look quite strange with no hair and eyebrows. I'd post pictures, but my webcam is broken.

I want to tell the world that my girlfriend Amy is the bomb! She made pizza last night, and even though I burnt my lips on the cheese, it was awesome!!!

I am really annoyed with those assholes at _are_you_hotter_than_us_?, because I am so much cuter than them, and those photos don't do me justice. They can't reject me, so I'm starting my own rating community. Click here to join (the first five applicants are automatically accepted).

Today, I got a digital camera! Yes! Here's ten thousand photographs of my cat.

I want to say thanks to the academy for giving me this award.

I went to the doctor yesterday, and he said I have a terrible skin disease which prevents me from coming into contact with other human beings. And bipolar disorder.

You should all do this quiz! It's amazingly accurate. You just put in your name and birthday, and it will tell you you're a moron.

That's enough for now. But I'll leave you with my favourite Buffy fan-fiction piece I wrote last year when I was in hospital.

[Thanks to Frooder, whose LiveJournal entry involving this made me crack up. Back to reality of sorts next time.]

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Thoughts on Luna (both Lovegood and celestial)

Angela and I just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It took us this long because we tried reading it to each other (very romantically -- also to entertain Xan), although it was quicker for us to read it silently with our heads together tonight over dinner. I have a comment about it in the comments section, which I won't post here since I don't want to spoil it for others yet.

Heather also pointed out that Google is doing a bit of a commemoration concerning the trip to the moon. If you go to this site, you'll find a picture of the moon's surface. Even cooler: zoom in as far as you can into the photo. We cracked up at this.

Monday, July 18, 2005

...and the ugly

On the same day I received my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I also got a notice which notified me I am being called up for jury duty. D'oh!! (I'm thinking I should take Xan to the courtroom when I finally have to go. You think that ploy will get me out of it?)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

My son, the hun

He's looking perhaps a bit too longingly at this postcard, sent by our friend Sachi Ide, who is currently teaching English in Ulaan Bataar for the summer. (This is the same woman who spent last summer learning how to play the steel drum... in Alaska. She's so great.)

"Maybe I can be Genghis Khan..." Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Since we're allready talking about rabbits...

The Dooce has a hysterically funny website where she talks about the trials and tribulations of being a mom in Utah. I love reading her stuff. She got some flak recently for joking that Koreans eat dog meat. She brought this up to her babysitter, whose boyfriend was picking her up – and who happens to be Peruvian. He mentioned the concept of eating cuy. This inspired me, naturally, to bring up my two experiences involving this fine Peruvian delicacy – neither of which, oddly enough, occurred when I was actually living there.

The first incident took place when I was visiting Lima when I was about 12 or so. (I moved when I was 14.) We were out in La Molina somewhere, back when La Molina was actually considered the boonies, at a parrillada. The waiter came over and gave us menus. I knew some fledgling Spanish at the time, but nothing major. Feeling adventurous, I decided to ask my aunt Elsa to recommend something I had not tried before.

“Have you ever had cuy?” she asked.

“No,” said I.

“Well, try it.”

I ordered. My cousin Monica, who is two years younger than me, looked at me as if I had two heads. “Do you know what cuy is?” she asked.

“No, but your mother says it’s good.”

She turns to my mother. “Tía Alicia, ¿cómo se dice ‘cuy’ en ingles?”

My mother turns to me without expression and says, “Guinea pig.”

Adventurous I am, but not quite that much when I was 12. I changed my order to a steak and was the happier for it.

Many years later, in graduate school at Michigan, I am now teaching elementary Spanish. Peru was only brought up in our textbook twice: once in the section that shows the map and tells you that a Peruvian is a peruano and a Mexican is a mexicano, etc.; and once in a sidebar during the food unit. So when we got to the food unit, I could only guess what was coming. I walked into class and the class confronted me.

"So profe, what does cuy taste like?" someone asks.

Little brats. "I don't know."

“But the book says Peruvians eat guinea pig.”

“Yes, I am aware of this.”

“And you say you’re Peruvian.”

“Yes, I am.”

“But the book has to be true. So something’s fishy here.”

I explained to them that cuy is a delicacy, and one usually prepared in the Andes, not from the coastal city of Lima. And indeed, it’s one of the pricier dishes at the tourist restaurants around Cuzco. So no, I hadn’t tried it yet.

“But,” I promised, “the next time I go to Cuzco, I promise to eat some cuy and take some pictures. And if you’re interested, come find my office in a year and we’ll talk about it.”

Sure enough, on my research trip in 1998, six friends came down over Thanksgiving and we all went to Cuzco. And one night, I ordered the cuy with roasted potatoes. Which they brought out for pictures first – complete with a little hat made out of a tomato and a sprig of parsley, and with a carrot in his mouth. Then they brought it back to the kitchen to cut it up.

And I’d love to say it tasted like something else, but it tastes exactly like dark meat chicken. Savory. Mmm.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Which book am I?

Angela got this website from her Mom's group. She took it and came up with Alex Haley's Roots. I was curious with what I would come up with -- and lo, and behold, I like the result. Naturally, I'm curious to know how other people test...

I'm Watership Down!
by Richard Adams

Though many think of me as a bit young, even childish, I'm actually incredibly deep and complex. I show people the need to rethink their assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they build their houses. I might be one of the greatest people of all time. I'd be recognized as such if I weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

How we amuse ourselves these days

Xan and Dad @ Folkfest 05 Posted by Picasa

Mom and Xan chill on 4th of July
Posted by Picasa

Heather has probably posted more pictures at, so feel free to check them out.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Summer teaching, have me a bla-ast...

I got approached to teacha course next summer for the Literature Department and hey, who am I to say no to more money? I decided I should teach an upper-level (advanced undergrad-grad) film class. Since the course is abridges -- two block classes per week for six weeks, I think -- my usual suspects of national cinemas, genre and theory are not really ideal. I have been thinking for some time now, however, about possible courses that I could teach in an abridged format. Here are my two favorites that I'm toying around with:
  • An auteur class on Pedro Almodóvar. AU hasn't offered a class on a particular auteur for a little while now (and when they did, I'm not sure it was done well). I've thought that a full 15 weeks on one director, however, would drive me nuts. This might be a good chance to do it -- and who better than Almodóvar, who has just enough films to make the course interesting?
  • A short class about short films. Sounds strange, but I'm actually very curious to explore the concept of short films as an entirely separate genre, related to the feature film much as the short story is to the novel. There is very little theoretical written about short film (as I discovered when writing my chapter on Peruvian shorts) and I'm thinking this might be my next book project. Thus, an advantage here would be to try it out. But it would be in the beginning stages. Perhaps I should wait a little while on this? But I'm fascinated by it! (Plus: with shorts, there would be fewer screenings...)

What say the hoi polloi, some of you I know which have taken some of my upper-level courses? Do either of these sound interesting? Or might something else be better?

In other news, my son is adorable as all hell. And who needs TV when we have a porch swing on a main road? Watching traffic is not only fascinating (more so than listening to me read García Márquez) but it also usually gives some people a smile on the ride home when they see him stare and turn his head. (This is particularly true about the passengers on the buses.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Linguistic coinkydink of the day

Inspired by meeting a guy in the park who is successfully speaking to his daughter in Kurdish, I'm trying once again to only speak to Xan in Spanish. (Tomorrow I'm bringing home Cien años de soledad to read to him, pairing it perhaps with Alexander y el día terrible, horrible, espantoso, horroroso.) This morning, while playing on the floor, I put a plastic link in his mouth and asked him if it tasted good: "¿Sabe rico?"

Angela was doing something in the kitchen and a moment after I asked that question, she turned off the tap of the water. "What is the difference between 'to know' and 'to taste' in Spanish?"

I thought about that for a moment. "None, I think. Both are the word 'saber.'"

Which makes you wonder. Because right now, my son is getting to know everything by tasting it (or at least sticking it in his mouth). Mi hijo sabe porque sabe.

There has to be something etymologically interesting about this. (Is there a Spanish OED to trace the origins of these two words?!) Either that, or maybe Spanish is simply infantile?

I must be funny-looking...

...because my baby laughs at me when he sees me.

No kidding. He's laughing. And I have absolutely no idea why he laughs, he just does. It's just so amazing, really. And I thought the smiles were good!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Thoughts on Independence Day, 2005

I'm currently decked out in my standard American-holiday apparel: a white t-shirt which reads "MADE IN AMERICA (wth Peruvian parts)." I don't think I could own a better t-shirt. Today's activities: hanging out with some friends at the Takoma Park 4th of July parade, painting a mess of Ikea furniture, playing with a naked baby in the backyard while listening to classical music on NPR (for once, since WETA stopped playing it), making "burgers" out of tofu, mushrooms and pecans (although if you think that we're being healthy, we at that accompaneid with Trader Joe's blue cheese fries... mmm...), playing Scrabble while watching a Capital 4th on PBS.

Some thoughts on today's events:
  • This family needs to listen to more Aaron Copeland. Because, well, he just rocks.
  • This family needs not to listen to the Beach Boys. Because, well, they rock, but badly now. Poor guys, their voices just can't quite hit those notes anymore.
  • Steel drum bands also rock. There were two in this year's parade. (Xan slept through both of them while in the Bjorn. Sigh.)
  • Politicians no longer kiss babies. This, despite me running after one at the parade screaming, "KISS MY BABY!!!" Then again, maybe that's why he got nervous. We'll try again next year, particularly since it's an election year.
  • "Monkery" is a great seven-letter word. 101 points in one turn.
  • Trader Joe's blue cheese fries... mmm... (Oh wait, already said that. They are that good.)

So there you go! T-minus 24 days until my other Independence Day (and T-minus 26 days until the corresponding food fest!!)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Why I can now be considered an expert if NPR needs information about musical demonology

I guess the editors of Slayage needed the article right away for a reason -- my article has indeed been published! And it fits so nicely with the rest of the work there!

For those of you who aren't Buffy freaks, this is a reason to roll your eyes. But for me -- hooray! (And again -- it counts professionally!) It's kind of ironic that it's the most recent thing I've written and one of the first to come out in print. There's something to be said for online publications.