Lingua Frank

This blog goes fishing in my memory hole for stories that I hope will provide at least marginal amusement for all.


This blog is really about memories from my life...retold for the pleasure or yawns of friends and strangers alike. Bon appetit.

четверг, февраля 24, 2005

The Glories of Language through Crotch Humour

There's a blizzard out, at least by wussy east coast standards. Whenever my co-workers/friends/random people at gas stations wail on and on about the hellish weather in our nation's capitol, I snicker condescendingly. My ass has done time in that gargantuan freezer known as Northern Russia in January, so unless you actually have ice forming on your nose hair underneath two scarves, maybe you should just gird up your loins and deal.
Speaking of Russia and loins...
Although my mild profanities may suggest otherwise, I spent two years of my life as a Mormon missionary in the former-Soviet wonderland. Missionaries come in twos or threes, because who can eat just one? (People always figured we were queer...a misconception not at all helped by the term "companionship" for a set of missionaries. Hi, I'm a strangely dressed American who doesn't date...and this is my companion.)
So one fateful evening, I'm with a fairly new missionary who isn't exactly up to scratch on his Russian, and we're teaching this fun little family the second or third in a set of lessons about the church. Anyway, the greenie is feeling it, and wants to tell them how grateful he is for his membership in the Church. The only problem is, he knows neither the word for "membership" (chlenstvo) nor the fact that you abso-f'ing-lutely HAVE to have the complete phrase "membership in the Church" (chlenstvo v tserkvi).
So, with tears welling in his eyes from his utter conviction on this point, the kid waltzes irretrievably into the annals of linguistic faux-pas history:

"Ya tak blagodaren za moj chlen."
(I'm so grateful for my member)
"on mne prinosil stol'ko schast'ja"
(it's brought me so much joy...)
"...i ja znaju, chto esli ja budu ego pravil'no ispol'zovat, on prinesjot i drugim ljudjam radost'!"
(...and I know that if I use it correctly, it will bring other people joy, too!)

At this point, the tears are welling up in all of our eyes as the family and I all struggle to keep our pants dry from laughter.

"Dude, you're telling them that you're grateful for your wong."

It was, without a doubt, one of those spiritual experiences from my ministry that I will cherish forever.

среда, февраля 23, 2005

An Ambitious Fruit Fly

I have a very distinct memory from my fifth-grade year. Every time I hear the rousing fanfare from Europe's immortal The Final Countdown (which is every couple of years or so), I'm plunged back into the moment...the crowd of kids backing off in a mighty ripple, gaping, dumbfounded, jealous as I descended into the schoolyard, beckoning for Amanda to join me in my gyrocopter that I had constructed out of an old lawnmower and particle-board and then glide off over the Great Salt Lake, free of brine stench and glistening with the fire of the western sun, all to the tune of that masterful power-ballad.
This is, of course, a heap of bullshit. Beyond the obvious fact that the laws of physics and the engineering prowess of ten-year-old boys do not generally combine to produce even decent pinewood derby cars, much less fully functional aircraft, there are the giveaways of the stinkless Salt Lake, the implication that I was at school until sundown, and the fact that Europe, well, sucks. Come to think of it, I was such a hopeless dork that Amanda, I'm sure, would have never gotten into that gyrocopter, and not just because it was a deathtrap that smelled strongly of the ragweed from my backyard.
But to me, it was real in that I was going to do it, just like at one point I was going to build a vacuum-cleaner hovercraft propelled by bottle rockets and construct an underground spy fortress in my buddy Taylor's backyard. Just who we were going to spy on is a bit hazy, now, but I know that I could sit down and reproduce the plans for the fortress, complete with periscope and IT nerve center consisting of Taylor's Commodore 64...playin' Mappy and Spy Hunter all night long was sure to drive a stake through the heart of the Evil Empire.
Nineteen years later, apparently, I haven't changed a whole lot. You see, I'm going to keep up this blog. I'm going to turn it into a clearing house for linguistics, politics, and super funny satire. And while my wife wouldn't necessarily appreciate Amanda jumping into this gyrocopter with me and taking off over the valley o'Zion, I swear I can hear those dulcet tones of the cock-rock gods cooing that I'm heading to Venus....doodle-oo doo, doodle-oo doo doo...