If you get pulled over in Arizona . . .

July 26, 2010

Has Arizona’s legislature thought about this question?

Si un policia me dice “papeles” y yo le digo “tijeras” . . . gano yo?


Dan Valentine – Muggy

May 24, 2010

By Dan Valentine

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) likes a staffer around when he speaks, so he can get some immediate feedback afterward, and one night the task fell upon me, his speechwriter at the time, because Paul Smith, his press secretary, who usually accompanies him, was off on vacation.

Afterward I walked him to his car, telling him along the way basically three words. “You were great!”

“What did you think?”

“Senator, you were great.”

“Think it went well?”

“You were great.”

He had strayed from the prepared remarks and rambled all over the place, going on a tangent about a recent Supreme Court decision. (“I just want to say one thing … I just want to add one thing … And let me just say …”) But that’s his speaking style.

As the Senator got into his car, he said, “I’d like to see more like it.”

I closed the door behind him. He unrolled the window. “I need a speech on drugs. Can you write me one?”

“Sure,” I said. “No problem. For or against?” I had lots of confidence back in those days.

He looked at me, shook his head. I watched him drive off. Then, briefcase in hand, I thought to myself: Okay, now for that drink!

I hailed a cab and said, getting in, “A little muggy.”

It was mid-August. D.C. was built on a swamp and even at night the heat is stifling.

The cabbie looked up at me in the rearview mirror. “What’s the–?”

“Muggy?” How to explain? “You know. Hot. Sticky.” I loosened my tie. “Makes you want to take off all your clothes.” I unbuttoned my top shirt button.

“Hot? Sticky? You like–?”

“Muggy? I can take it or leave it.”

He asked: “You police?”

I shook my head.

“Just checking.” He hit the meter. “In my country of Bangladesh, muggi is word for–how do you say?–hooker.” He pulled into traffic. “Redhead, you like that? You want blonde? Two blondes?”

“Just a minute,” I said.

“Short one, tall one? Yes? No? Just let me know. I know big, big blonde.” He took his hands off the wheel to form imaginary large breasts in the air–

“Hey! Look out!”

–and almost ran into an on-coming car. “Very nice. She does everything.”

“Listen–”

“I think you like her.”

“Will you listen?”

“Yes?” he said.

“I think we have a little misunderstanding here.”

“No muggi?” He was very disappointed.

“No muggi!”

“All right, all right. Relax, my friend. No need to get excited. Where do you want to go”

A few blocks later the taxi pulled to a stop in front of my destination. I paid the fare and got out.

“How about twins?”

“No!” I slammed the door. “No muggi.”


Kicking U.S. butt even when we’re trying to study their language

May 10, 2010

Who gets the most out of this exchange?

“This country doesn’t value teachers, and that upsets me,” she said. “Teachers don’t earn much, and this country worships making money. In China, teachers don’t earn a lot either, but it’s a very honorable career.”

Ms. Zheng said she spent time clearing up misconceptions about China.

“I want students to know that Chinese people are not crazy,” she said. For instance, one of her students, referring to China’s one-child-per-family population planning policy, asked whether the authorities would kill one of the babies if a Chinese couple were to have twins.

Some students were astonished to learn that Chinese people used cellphones, she said. Others thought Hong Kong was the capital.

Barry Beauchamp, the Lawton superintendent, said he was thrilled to have Ms. Zheng and two other Chinese instructors working in the district. But he said he believed that the guest teachers were learning the most from the cultural exchange.

“Guest Teaching Chinese and Learning America,”  Sam Dillon, New York Times, May 9, 2010, page A14.


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