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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Ineffective Freaking Naked Girls

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I just wanted to take it easy this semester, continue with Portuguese, take an independent study, work a mindless job, and fiddle with my portfolio.  But here’s the chink in my armor: few want to follow us into Portuguese IB.

I go onto the Peralta website  yesterday (there’s a deadly labyrinth if I ever saw one) , and my Portuguese class was canceled.  Apparently, posting naked Brazilians on a blog that isn’t fully marketed specifically to my former class members anyway was not the way to go this time.

Maybe we should have a sit in the admin offices at Berkeley City College.  But I doubt they care, plus it will just look exactly how things look in their offices during registration time anyway.

Maybe we should picket Spanish and French classes and see if we can steal students away if we hand out candy bars.

A naked Brazilian. Mostly naked.

Useless bitches!

Maybe I should just go to class tomorrow, since our teacher promised we would still meet to “figure out what we’re going to do.”  Is she suggesting that she work for free and I toil for no credit?  I doubt she is willing to work for freaking free.   She has enough jobs at separate colleges to begin with.  Is she trying to kill herself so quickly after finishing grad school?  That would be a pity.  Deolinda is awesome!!

And to be honest, I was not impressed with the UC Berkeley Campus, where this class takes place for some odd reason.  For one, I asked people coming out of their lecture where the bathrooms were, and they were clueless.  I may not have been the smartest girl in college, but I always knew where to high tail it to pee when need be.    I may have walked into the men’s room once a few weeks after I had a severe concussion, and not have been able to sort out why  people were staring for a good 30 seconds, but even in that altered state, I knew where the frigging bathroom was.  I also felt while sitting in class that I was going to be entombed in cement if the ground were to shake as it is prone to do in the Bay Area.   Not.  So.  Impressive.   Not to mention that the classroom itself was kind of hard to find…  or maybe I’m still bitter that I didn’t get into Berkeley anyway.  I’d probably not be sitting here doing what I’m doing if I had, and I certainly wouldn’t have that bathroom story.  Bastards!!

I’m sooooo pitching the sit in at THAT meeting.   Yeah, right.

Help us, Desperately!!

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Yesterday in class, a man insisted in the interest of learning Portuguese, he must address me by my Portuguese name.  Which frankly to me, sounds like a regurgitative religious experience when not said in English.   This level of enthusiasm is unique and necessary, since probably it will not matter if this man wanted to call me “Douchebag Princess,”  since we are on the verge of CANCELLATION.

Yes, if my class doesn’t go on, this blog will completely be about Portuguese television stars getting their willies cut off with a wine glass and me complaining that no one has rissois in the Bay Area.   You do not want to see this happen.  It’s sad enough already.  So if you have some skill in Portuguese or WERE IN THE CLASS LAST SEMESTER AND HAVE READ THE UC REQUIREMENTS FOR SEVERAL YEARS OF LANGUAGES, GENIUSES, (I know, I know, you already have Spanish.  Stop being a harpy, A.) enroll now.

You know ya wanna.

A naked Brazilian. Mostly naked.

Again, I tempt you with Naked Chicks. If it's your sort of thing.

I take my HONKEY FRIENDS to Portuguese food- and THEY LOVE IT!!!

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My fish dish at Portuguese Grill.

Best. Fish. Ever. According to two underage honkeys. Honest.

So I have been Facebook friends with the Portuguese Grill, located in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, for months, despite the fact that they are located a full six hours away from where I live, barring traffic.   You gotta keep abreast of restaurants, if you’re ever going to have another Portuguese meal without a transatlantic flight.   At least this is true after one’s grandmother dies.

When I went down to SoCal, I made plans to make a pilgrimage on my own, when my friend D., her boyfriend B. and her boyfriend’s two kids, H. and C. were busy happily hanging out at the bf’s mom’s house, playing the Wii. Who would think cod would ever, EVER trump a half an hour with a Wii?

But later, as we were caravanning in three separate cars (ah, SoCal) to Claire’s, (Claire’s is jewelry store for girls that functions kind of like the La Brea Tar Pits on their parents’ wallet), my phone rang.   My friend D. asks “Can we just go to Portuguese food now?”

“Are you sure the girls won’t be upset?”  You remember being ten and seven.  Claire’s is vital!!

“Oh no, they’re hungry.”   Awesome!!!  So was I.

My friends at Portuguese Grill.

Enjoying that Portuguese food, huh? What was I scared of?

We sat down on the patio for a meal at the Portuguese Grill on an uncharacteristically warm January evening.  As we waited to order, I was nervous, because Portuguese food, though delicious, is a great unknown I’ve talked up for the last ten years I’ve known D.  What if the kids hate it and she has to make dinner again?  Plus she and B. then will have thrown down for TWO dinners.   But our waiter brings out my hors d’ouvre of linguiça.  “Have one,”  I say to the girls.  They grab toothpicks and dig in.  And I see a promising look in their eyes, a look of holding back because they were too polite to sneak more of their dad’s friend’s food, but they really wanted some more of that sausage!

Yes, I let the children have more sausage.  I am not that cold.

And woah, did my friends love the pile of tender, piri-piri-laced meat that they ordered!   And Victor brought out bowls of soup- real, non-canned, homemade Portuguese soup!  And you know what? B.’s mom loved it, my friends loved it, and the KIDS loved it!

It’s nearly- dare I say it- almost a Marketable Fast Food.  Except it’s really not, strictly speaking, fast.  It’s a freaking practically three course meal.  

H. cleaning her plate.

She cleaned her plate!!!

I came for cod, (to be honest, really I wanted my cousin Suzette’s Gomes de Sá, but she died last year…) so I had a french fry, egg, onion and cod combination I’d never heard of- which was AMAZING!   There was still a lot left after I was done, but it magically disappeared by way of little eager hands before the waiter could go inside to get me a box to take it home.   Yes, the girls ate it!!!   I dare say they relished in eating it!!  H. and C. proclaimed that it was, in fact, “the best fish EVER!!!”  Wow.

B. mentioned to D. at the end of the meal that he could stop by there on the way home from his new job (congrats!!) and pick up dinner!  Hey Victor, guess what!!??  You got yourself some honkey customer loyalty!!

So I salute Victor of the Portuguese Grill, raiser of the profile of Portuguese everywhere, eschewer of a secret Portuguese menu, because he tirelessly serves grilled Luso-perfection to people of all stripes in the Inland Empire, even honkeys.  And he even makes their susceptible children want to come back for a real meal of actual food that doesn’t come with a wrapper and a toy.

Evidence of eating- empty plates.

Those bones are EVIDENCE!! Of food love!!

And he regularly sells out of his specialty chicken!!  There’s hope, people!  May someday everyone in the Riverside area know what to expect at a Portuguese restaurant as much as they know what to expect at an Irish pub.  A girl can dream, right?

Junk-ectomy, Portuguese Style

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I can’t believe it. Portugal has its own Versace murder. Maybe saying that is gay bashing, since the only… connection …. is uh… gayness.

No, this much more like Portugal’s own Phil Hartman murder. Without the suicide….  And with a junk-ectomy.

Because of my status as Prodigal with the Portuguese Personhood Office, I have no idea who the murdered guy is. I’m sure my mom’s cousin in Canada does. But that cousin has had RTP, the main Portuguese TV station, since the 70’s. We, alas, instead had the Disney Channel. The closest my brother and I got to Portuguese TV on American soil were reruns of José Carioca.

 

the murdered and the murderer

One's in the morgue, the other's in jail (or Bellevue)..... Better keep 'em separated! Sorry. Couldn't resist the Offspring reference.

But back to the issue at hand.  Apparently this man, Carlos Castro, a 65-year-old gossip columnist was in New York on a New Year’s vacation with his boyfriend, a much younger contestant on the America’s Next Top Model incarnation in Portugal.   Which for all I know, probably wasn’t invented by Americans anyway.  But Castro and his boyfriend were in New York (which I never knew was spelled “Novo Iorque” in Portuguese.  WTF??), where they saw Spiderman and Black Swan, and then things got tense, and tenser, and tenser…. and someone ended up castrated. And dead.

Let’s ignore the human element here: I’m sure the outpouring of grief will come from somewhere, and it’s not going to be here. It’s time to get cracking on how we can use this to raise our profile.

Stabler and Benson

You mean your mother fed you seven times a day and you STILL castrated your boyfriend?

This is what I’m thinking: the Portuguese could totally get an episode of Law and Order out of this.  Let’s be frank: TV has completely ignored us.  From the X Files episode about Romanian folk insanity to SVU’s Burma-o-rama where an activist gets her feet cut off by a kid with too many concussions, ethnicity after ethnicity has a TV episode where Americans get to meet their grossest, honking, wide-brush stereotype.  But they get to meet them, right!? Why not us? It’s not just racism, it’s a way to get our name out there.

So what I’m proposing is a two-pronged letter-writing campaign to crime shows across America…. Let’s focus on SVU; it loves castration, for one, and two, I hate the bland writing on CSI.

Step One: Get someone to green light a script about this unfortunate set of events. Insist Law and Order:SVU consider the murder on a future script. Soon. It’s running out of headlines to rip.

Step Two: Insist they NOT change the ethnicity of the murderer/murdered. Like when they obviously were sucking off the teat of the Bhutto murder but made up a fake country that sounded a lot like Sri Lanka. I want no part of a fake country.   And make sure someone puts a rider on the contract that NBC can’t hire a busload of telenovella actors with Latin American accents. Unless they’re Brazilian. It’s okay if they pull a Joy Luck Club, but you know how crappy we’ll all feel if we turn on SVU and see this as the Columbian Gay Phil Hartman murder!

 

TEN STUDENTS!!

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Okay so I check the stats on my Portuguese Class today, taught by the lovely Deolinda Adão of UC Berkeley but by the Peralta Colleges (please, please, please GO REGISTER!!!)  and there is ONE MORE person in the class.  That means we just need five more people foolish enough to want to dance with the devil future subjunctive.  Come on, it can’t be that bad.

A naked Brazilian. Mostly naked.

One of last semester's presentations. Really.

Seriously, people, Deolinda is HILLARIOUS. You will learn Portuguese and the teacher is quality  entertainment- better than 90% of the sitcoms on TV today.  It is like Youtube, only without high school kids fighting.   Or zany kittens.  Okay, sometimes zany kittens.  But only sometimes.

Blondie, the Lusofreak

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My mom and I are nursing our food coma after Christmas dinner.  We are watching Milionario.

The host guy is like every Portuguese man I’ve ever seen- every one I’m NOT related to.

The host of Milionario.

This is so not us.....

Short, squat, black hair, black eyes.  Tan.  Stubbly little fingers.  Fishy mouth.  Maybe not EVERYBODY has a fishy mouth.  But the host does.  He is fatter than most, like he tells his online dates that he’s a linebacker, but the muscle is a little deep set for those claims. Then again, he probably has no idea what a linebacker is…..

I ask my mother:

“Mom, why don’t any of us look like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like that dude- the host?  Everyone else does- but none of us?  You know- Grandma- blonde, Grandpa- tall.  You go across the street to her neighbors- and you get that…”  I point at the television.  “Not one of our cousins looks like that….. Luis didn’t.”   Luis is her cousin’s grandson from Canada who visited in May.  His being biracial- his mom is Black- didn’t stop him from looking unmistakably like he belonged with us.  And not with the Milionario host.

My mother practically pisses herself, laughing.

“I don’t know, A.  I guess we’re too English. You notice the most bizarre things!”

“But Grandma’s not English…”  Grandma IS the blue-eyed great-grandchild of a Lost Napoleon Soldier.  But we don’t talk about THAT.

“And Jewish”  She says, laughing.  That only explains Grandpa.  Grandma doesn’t have a claim on the Jews either, though my mom swears she does, because “those people in those mountains, they read too many books.”  Too many books not to have a Jew somewhere goading them on in the candlelight…….  Not too many books in general.  For my mom, the only bad book is one she’s read too many times at the insistence of someone else.  Like Lazarillo de Tormes. Don’t mention the torture that is the picaresque novel in front of my mother.  And I’m not sure how blondness is supported by the addition of an odd Jew here or there to the family tree.  Still wondering….

We all start out blond. I’ve darkened into a color that looks disturbingly how I remember my mom’s as a child (though somehow without the grey in front- SCORE!!),  but it’s not quite dark, either.  My mother and I are both whiter than a sheet.  And none of us is squat.  And none, none of us looks like we swallowed a barrel, or has stubbly little hands.  And it’s not just we who are mutants- the mother of my brother’s best friend growing up was routinely not admitted to festas in Turlock, California as a child in the 50’s because she was blonde and freckled.  They thought she was some WASP kid who wandered in to cause trouble, but her dad was, in fact, a Portuguese rancher.  Why they had to keep blonde girls out of a freaking parade is beyooooooond me.

I guess not only am I a Prodigal Lusophone, I am a Dangerous Prodigal Lusofreak.

Millionyarioh! Yeah!

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I hate game shows.   My mother, however, loves them, but not in the typical senior-citizen zombielike gaze of their target audience.  Oh, no.  For this (and for everything with my mother)  this is an educational opportunity.  So she tapes them (YES I said TAPE) and then views the parts of the show which suit her curiosity about the world.  Why, A., why would your mother not just buy an almanac, you say?  Why indeed- she has an almanac.  In fact, my father buys one annually.  But alas, the almanac cannot quiz and challenge.  It just sits there, like a blow-up doll, limp, opening only when and where your imagination can take it….. and unable to flick its shiny lights and ring its bells at you when you find the answer.

Milionairo set

The set. Of WWTBAM Portugal!

Say what you want about Regis, but Millionaire on RTP is no joke.  At least not for my mom.  Who, let me tell you, would swear up and down under the bright lights of Nazi torturers that she does not care about it one bit.  But they would have VCR proof of her quest……

So my mom, in her infinite quest for trivia, begins to  be drawn in by Millionario. Or is it Milionario?? I don’t know which; FOO!! I didn’t study my fatcat nomenclature in our textbook.  I could look it up or check my graphic, but then I’d not really be the Prodigal Lusophone, would I?  She tapes it, not because she’s afraid of missing it but because she’s afraid of there being too much of it.  If Miliynario just went for the questions, there would be millionaires coming out the show’s ass.  This is not the time to be generous with the economy collapsing and all, so instead they spend five to ten minutes before the questions start getting chummy with the contestants.  However, this is in a much more dignified way than on the Portuguese Price is Right, where old ladies kiss the host, a man who looks like he’s wearing a barrel in his clothes, and bring him tokens from their husband’s soccer team.

“I have to pass this,” she says, greedily tromping down the remote button like an executioner, as the contestants smile and point out their children who are in the audience, fingers and toes crossed for the camera.   Though she complains that “young people, A., My GOD they don’t know their proverbs!!”  half the time, my mother has no clue what the answers are, because she left Portugal in 1959 and ended up hooked on Bonanza.  But she does know that most of the answers about California are slightly wrong, and there are a disproportionate amount of questions about Cali.  I guess it’s Hollywood’s fault.  But they said the Golden Gate was between Oakland and San Francisco.  UM NO!! That’s the Bay Bridge!!  Like no one on the production staff has relatives in San Leandro?

milionario logo

Damn. So that's how you spell it.

It’s hard to believe the people you see on these things.  In America, everyone is so average.  In France, there’s always at least one person who looks like they’ve been hit by a car or dying of consumption.  Here, on the special my mom and I watch with  the (apparent) stars and presenters of Portuguese TV, everyone looks like little skinny, over-lipsticked twigs.  The women peer out of platelike, innocent-convinced eyes and shy smiles, like they might sprout wings and fly away with the Blessed Mother.  And two of them profess to have over ten dogs.  I wonder if Animal Planet is up for doing a hoarding show regulating on celebrities across the Atlantic.

This isn’t the way my mother remembers her own country.  This isn’t the way I remember my mother’s country.  And it’s a cold water, slap in the face that things move on just as they move on in the US, that people there, too have gone on with their lives and aren’t living in the 50’s, aren’t the people she remembers.  And it’s tough but at the same time, the smiles are so broad, the joy of 10,000 Euros so palpable that well, it’s almost okay that our Portugal, the Portugal that really never existed anywhere but our hearts is just as gone as the five cent double feature my father swears actually happened in the theaters of Los Angeles….