Lixus and Larache

July 28, 2008

Up on the coast there is a place called Larache. If you are anything like I am, you’ve heard of it- they’re building a huge new resort complex called Port Lixus there. Golf courses, private villas, the whole shebang. Anyway, I went there this weekend.

The entire ton is under construction. Every road and sidewalk have been torn up and are beeing rebuilt. I guess they’re whipping the joint into shape for the rich europeans that shall shortly descend upon the town en masse. It was sort of weird to be there at a point of such transformation.

They have two portguese fortresses and a tiny museum, all of which were closed, and nearby the ton, on a hilltop, are the ruins of a roman town called Lixus. It’s basically unexplored, no one has done any digging except for a limited number of spaniards during the colonial period and some vandals. It’s mind bogglnig to imagine how many relics and stuff must be buried there. Someone get me a shovel and another research grant, I’ma bring some science to the place.


There Will be Boredom

July 22, 2008

So, I’ve been watching a lot of movies this week. I find it relaxing. But I have a compulsive disorder, and no matter how bad something is I can’t not finish it. And that explains why I watched There Will be Blood last night. I haven’t been at the Triangle for quite some time, so I won’t write a full review, but here are some just some quick thoughts about the film.

Of all the films with no plot, moral, or likeable characters that I’ve seen this year, I liked this one the most. I can only imagine that the orchestra, who spent the entire film tuning their instruments, went on to play some amazing music someplace else afterwards. The film is a little bit long, so I recommend doing something else while it is running in the background. What else could you do while this movie is playing? Well, you could learn Sanskrit. The ladies love Sanskrit. You could watch the entire original run of The Iron Chef. You could read War and Peace. Hell, you could probably write War and Peace. You could construct a ladder long enough to reach the moon. You could cure cancer.

Look, the point is that There Will be Blood is about 40 hours longer than it needs to be, I had at best apathy for every single character in it, and from an audio standpoint it’s like listening to a car rust in fast forward.

Do not watch There Will be Blood.

The Point of the Fulbright Program

July 21, 2008

So I’m walking back from Maarif, the fun neighborhood, Saturday night. I was bored, so I went walking and got some DVDs as well as ate fried fish at a little stand. Here is a partial list of things I find delicious: fried fish.

Anyway, I’m standing on the corner waiting for a cab, and this car pulls up next to me. In it is a young man, probably my age or so, in a djellaba, and a young lady. She’s all gussied up. He asks, in Arabic, if there’s a music festival today.

Now, I don’t really keep up with the Music scene in the US, much less in Islamic North Africa, so I don’t have a clue. Seriously: my MP3 player is full of episodes of Dragnet, and one time when a professor told me she listened to Tool, my first thought was those singing saws that you see at the county fair. Look, suffice it to say I didn’t know if there was a music festival.

So in Arabic, I tell him I don’t know. He repeats the question in french, and I reply in Arabic that I understood the question, I just don’t happen to know if there’s a music festival in town. I thought about it, and then told him there was some sort of fancy new theatre with a stage out front up the street, maybe there’d be a band or something on tonight.

He looked very surprised and asked if I speak French, and I said yes. Then he said “but you’re not french, are you?” I think the fact that I was trying to speak a foreign language pegged me. I told him I was from America. If I had told him I was born on Pluto he wouldn’t have been more surprised. “really? But you speak Arabic?” I told him yes, I mean, in Morocco I at least try to speak arabic even though I’m not good at it.

Of course, the next question was the stock question: are you a Muslim? I think my exact response was “not yet, but if God wills it.” And he and the young lady both looked like they were ready to plotz. We shook hands vigorously and he introduced himself and his lady, and I introduced myself as Haroun, they invoke a wide variety of blessings on me, and they drove off.

Anyway, I get the impression that for the rest of his life, any time anyone says something about Americans, he’s going to say “Dude, one time I met an American that spoke some Arabic!” I like to think that’s the point of the Fulbright program: startling the crap out of foreigners by not being that American  they see on TV all the time. You know the one I mean.

Hot Fuzz

July 18, 2008

I’ve been buying a lot of films over here recently from street vendors. They’re only a dollar and they have an amazing selection. I think I’ve seen ten Jet Li or Jackie Chan movies in the last two weeks. And I got CSI, but it’s in French, so I get to practice my French.

Anyway, last night I saw the movie Hot Fuzz. Could someone please tell me how to feel about it? It was funny, but… it was also not funny. And it was good, but also bad. I am sure someone out there can put into words what I am feeling. Just…. harumph.

Civilization II

July 15, 2008

Cvilization II is a video game that was released in 1996. It scored fourth place on IGN’s list of the best games of all time, though this list included console games and Civ II was specifically for the PC. Want to know how good a game it is? It’s a turn-based strategy game that my sister likes playing. Unlike me, she is not a dork, and therefore is theoretically immune to such things.

I still play it, 12 years after it was released. I follow a simple plan: expand as much as possible during the darker ages, build railroads like a crazy person, and as soon as I discover robotics and can manufacture howitzer units, the game is over. Anyway, I’ve started playing it on the next-to-hardest level, and I have two complaints:

1 The computer opponents do nothing about pollution. The game is always going awesome, and then freaking global warming comes in and turns everything into a swamp. I hate hate hate hate global warming.

2 There comes a certain time when the name of the game becomes HEY GUYS LETS USE THE ATOM BOMB. I have never ever seen an AI so enthusiastic about dropping the big A on me. But it’s absolutely, ridiculously stupid: if the computer were to bomb my cities and then occupy them, it wouldnt be so bad. That would be a big challenge. I’d be down with that. But they just bomb the cities and then leave them there for me to come in and clean up the pollution.

Arg. It’s infuriating. It’s such a sweet game, but these two things drive me crazy about it. And I really wish I had brought the fantastic worlds kit, or whatever it was called, with me.

Your thoughts?

I am a world class dumbass

July 13, 2008

Yeah, it rhymes. That’s not important right now. So I decided to defrost my fridge today. This is actually quite an undertaking- after I’d removed 4 gallons of water that had previously been ice on the freezer, I stopped counting. Anyway, it’s taking forever, so I take a fork and start scraping away the ice. You know, speed the deal up.

Anyway, I punctured the [expletive deleted] line that CONTAINS THE REFRIGERANT. Two facts about refrigerant: one – it is poisonous. Two – it is highly pressurized.

I’m very very upset with myself. Not because I was mildly injured (seriously, it’s nothing, I’m fine) but because I MURDERED A REFRIGERATOR. If I were to go buy an electric car, it would take me 400 years to make up for the damage I’ve done to the environment, releasing all that refrigerant and turning an otherwise awesome refrigerator into a paperweight.

I should not be allowed to own property the [expletive deleted] end.


July 9, 2008

Well the title says it all – thank heavens, I am back in Morocco. I think that when it comes down to it, I like being in other places, and hate the travelling. On the other hand, as soon as I got a little food in me, I was immensely cheered up- and perhaps that’s just because Royal Air Maroc serves couscous on its flights. Not very good but still: airborne couscous. Awesome.

After Verona and Venice, Milan was actually a bit disorienting – it’s an actual city! People live there! There are no constant trains of tourists! I saw the Duomo, which looks like a drippy sandcastle you’d make at the beach as a child, and some huge indoor shopping arcade with Versace this and Armani that and so on. For the second most Catholic country in the world, Italians sure are big on self-glorification and self-idolotry. At least the ones I saw shopping at Versace are.

Anyway, I’ve said it before- the only persons name I want written on my underpants is that of my good friend, Monsieur de la Loom. That’s Mr. of the Loom for your monoglots.