Saturday, May 22, 2004

Words I learned today: serviceberry (also known as Juneberry, shadblow, and shadbush), junket (not that kind of junket; it's a cheesy dessert), Sexagesima (the eighth Sunday before Lent), shaddock (it's like a grapefruit), and Dardic or, better for Scrabble fiends, simply Dard (to which Shina, Kowar, Kafiri and Kashmiri once belonged).

You say, "Once belonged?"

Apparently. Oddly enough, Merriam-Webster has altered the ever-useful Indo-European languages table since the Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (my hard copy) was published in 1991.

Back then, Kafiri (or Nuristani, a group of languages spoken in eastern Afghanistan) was lumped together with Shina, Khowar and Kashmiri as a group called Dard, belonging (right alongside Sanskritic) to the Indic sub-branch of the Indo-Iranian languages.

But check out the latest table. Dard's nowhere to be found, and Kafiri's its own sub-branch. The others are classified as Sanskritic.

Now I know what you're thinking. Where exactly, pray tell, did they speak Polabian? On the Labe, no doubt, but more precisely: Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, as well as eastern parts of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. Poor little tongue went the way of Dolly Pentreath (of the Mousehole Pentreaths) sometime in the 18th century.
Agency: Chalabi group was front for Iran: "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday.

Ha! And you thought we were the stooges of Israel...

Friday, May 21, 2004

Two big events at Tulip this weekend:

First and foremost there's tonight's inaugural "Sofistica" dinner-and-DJ gig (tagline: "A night for grownups") with DougieGyro spinning. The sound portion of the evening commences at 10 p.m. with Doug's trademark Brazilectronica.

Click here
to download Sophistica Vol. 1!

DougieGyro (a.k.a. Doug Arellanes) will be playing the lounge every second Friday switching off with DJ ADM (mature West Coast house, light breaks, spoken word samples, tribal bits and so on) on the Fridays opposite.

The second thing is our second Sunday BBQ. The last one was such a success -- especially given the less-than-optimum weather situation -- that we're toying with the idea of doing it on a regular basis, perhaps every other Sunday. Again, all you can eat and drink with tons of grilled meat and veggie in our greenish summer garden, starting this Sunday at 3 p.m. Cost is 300 Kc, beer and wine included.

Call 224 930 019 for reservations for either event.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I'm back.

Just noticed there's a nice little discussion going on over at Arellanes.com about what to call this godforsaken country we live in.

I don't have a solution, but here's my 20 hellers.

First, we have to recognize the actual problem, if there is one. There is one. Traveling in Egypt and Jordan over the last nine days, I went back and forth between saying I was from America and saying I was from the Czech Republic. (This was for a number of reasons, the big ones being that people think you have more money if you're from America, they want to talk your ear off about their cousin working in Jersey City, and being from the Czech Republic is just hella more interesting than being from the U.S.A. Fear of anti-Americanism is actually sort of low on the list, but I can't deny it's there. My fear, I mean.)

Where we traveled, everybody upon everybody recognized us foreigners (we are white) and many of them called out, unprompted, "Hello! Welcome to Egypt! How are you? Where are you from?" and so on. (Coming from here, talk about culture shock.)

As I see it, the main problem is that "Czech" is too short for a country's name, and more to the point, it will never, ever register for foreigners. I recall one person who recogizned "Czech Republic," out of the dozens on whom I used the words.

Czech? Check? You want the cheque? A chick? A shack? Shaq? You wanna shag? I'm sorry, it just doesn't work.

"Czechslovakia?" OK, now you're talking. Everybody knows Czechoslovakia, even if they have no clue where it is (sorry, was). Five years ago I thought it was just a matter of time before people got used to the non-existence of Czechoslovakia. But now I've given up. In 20 years, I think the situation will be the same, or only marginally better at best. Heck, do you realize they still say "Czechoslovakia" in most of Western Europe?

The problem's the name itself. You want to do something about this, get to the root of it. People, you need a long name that sounds funky, just like you had in the olden days. And "Czech" just isn't working.

To test this hypothesis, I'd be interested to know how Slovaks who travel abroad are received. In other words, do people recognize "Slovakia" as an obvious component of the former "Czechoslovakia"? I bet they do, or at least far more so than "Czech."

A modest proposal: "Czechoslavia." And why not?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Dateline - Wadi Mousa,Jordan

Wow,this is the most suck-ass internet cafeon the face of the planet!halfthekeysdon't work. Especially thespace bar.

OK, I have one minuteleft so all I can say is --

I suppose if aliens invaded the earth with giant spaceships the size of the Death Star and then gave me an all-access pass to explore on of their spaceships, that MAYBE would be a bit more amazing than hiking around Petra. Maybe.