Monthly Archives: November 2009

Joys of eating turkey neck

It took years for turkey to become palatable for me, especially in light of memories of witnessing turkey slaughters in Buena Vista, a little settlement near Mora.

Although my older siblings insist our visits to the home of Uncle Margarito Lucero were brief and sporadic, I still recall clearly an exposure to matters more agrarian than my city-slicker being should know about. And these memories appear to span several summers.

We’d visit the small farm in the summer, enjoy navigating the ditch, picking apples in the orchard and eating fresh-picked peas. We got our first bareback ride on a tired gelding named Paul. Once, on a trip to the post office, a half mile from the Lucero homestead, we noticed how Paul moped along while carrying us away from the fertile farmland and how he picked up the pace on the way back.

That gave us an idea: If Paul is walking faster on the way home, let’s speed him up even more, just like in the movies. Accordingly, my older brother, Severino, dug his heels, Gene Autry-style, into Paul’s sides, and in seconds, Paul transformed into Mine That Bird, the recent Kentucky Derby winner. Obviously, we got transferred to the ground, and Paul wouldn’t let us near him for the rest of the day.

Thanksgiving turkey, for an 8-year-old boy, was something the folks bought at Safeway, not something that’s beheaded on a tree stump, Pilgrim style. Continue reading

Happy over haplology

There’s little more flattering than receiving a letter, call or e-mail from a reader in a “gotcha” moment. “I caught a typo in your last column. You were supposed to have spelled it ‘proofreader,’ not ‘poofreader.’”

Well, yes, the first spelling is what you’ll find in the dictionary. The second — done for effect, honest — usually appears in this column.

I once read a list of disclaimers for aging, one that when people reach my age, they’ve earned the right to be eccentric, as in “nobody should argue with me for that’s the way I do things.” In addition, many attribute to us extreme forgetfulness. Just look at most of the senior-based jokes and cartoons in the popular media.

But I’m not pleading any of these. It’s a cop-out to blame our eccentricities on age. Haven’t we seen some of the same quirks that afflict the elderly manifested in the young? How many students one-third my age have used the excuse, “I forgot to bring my term paper”?

As an unrepentant language cop, I chase words and commas. I’ve written entire columns on single words, and this column might shape up to be one of those. Continue reading

Just wachate, amigo

My dad, who lived almost 95 years and who passed away in 1998, might have believed that he and his own father invented the Spanish language. The few times I watched him become passionate about an issue often dealt with the language he so loved, usually a lament about the deterioration and especially adulteration of Spanish.

Let me explain:

J.D. Trujillo once quoted his father, Severino Trujillo, as having said, “If I knew English as well as I know Spanish, I’d be difficult to get along with.” I pondered that bit of braggadocio: Is that what it comes down to? Does that mean the goal in acquiring languages is to reduce one’s circle of friends? Polyglots then earn the right to become hermits?

Any abuse of Spanish caused my father to enter his sardonic mode and quote imaginary abusers by saying something like, “Wachate, ese” (“watch yourself,” as Zeus said to Narcissus), or “Tengo un typewriter, vato,” instead of the seven-syllable maquina de escribir.

As a youngster, I’d ask him how anyone could prevent the proliferation of Spanglish, whereby we simply put a Spanish-type ending on an English word for a new coinage. For example, a dime would become “un daime,” a quarter a “cuatta.” A penny? Don’t go there. Continue reading

King Thong or Nightie Joe Young

As one with entirely too much time on my hands, I concocted a series of unusual movie, book and TV titles, usually with a letter or two altered to create an entirely different scenario.

I received three e-mails from readers, Steve and Yolanda Jensen from Springer, Richard Lindeborg from Las Vegas, and Ben Trujillo, who lives in Albuquerque.

We can dispense with Ben’s contributions in just a few words because 1) he answered only three of the 25; 2) he justified his failure to attempt the other 22 “because,” he said, “they were too easy”; and 3) he’s my son.

What impressed me was the way the participants came up with answers radically different from mine, or one another’s, and yet, well, still had some good submissions. Some were better than mine.

For example, one item read: In this J.K. Rowling’s flick, a diner in the cafeteria ingests a turkey morsel soaked in jalapeño juice. My answer was Harry Potter and the Giblet of Fire. The Jensens and Lindeborg chose Gobbler of Fire. Continue reading