A Guide for
Puzzled MexicansFifteen years ago, Mho & Mho Works brought out a new title,
Gringolandia --- A Guide for Puzzled Mexicans.
It was an instant success, getting reviews in
New Mexico Magazine, The Seattle Weekly,
Book Alert/Public News Service, and Books of the Southwest.
The august TLS of England wrote,
It's not hard to like a book which wears its absurdity on its sleeve --- much like the nation it is satirizing. After all, it is time we caught up with how life is being lived in frantic, self-obsessed Gringolandia, if only because that life is starting to catch up with all of us.
And from The San Jose Mercury News:
Now, when we need it most, comes Gringolandia: A Guide for the Puzzled Mexican. This handy illustrated paperback is a veritable operating manual for getting along in the land of Newt Gringrich. With compassion and humor, the authors take readers by the hand through a heady list of topics.
Mho & Mho Works is offering copies of this book at a special discount
Here are some key excerpts:
§ § §WARSOur favorite wars were World War I where we made the World Safe for Democracy, World War II where we made the world safe for Coca-Cola, and the Korean War where we made the world safe for the TV series MASH. However, we didn't like the Viet Nam War because it went on too long and made college students smoke marijuana, march in the streets and grow too much hair because they were angry about their draft status.
The Viet Nam War did give us a few successes, however --- one being that it forced our most important actor, Marlon Brando, out of retirement so he could make a movie about how bad it was.
Each war gives us one or two favorite songs. WWI's were "You Must Sprinkle Me With Kisses/If You Want My Love To Grow" and "How're You Gonna Keep Them Down on the Farm After They've Seen Par-ee?" WWII's was "Rosie The Riveter," and "There'll Be White Cliffs Over the Bluebells of Dover." The Korean War was short, so it only produced one song: "Suicide Is Painless/It Brings On Many Changes." Another reason that we don't like the Viet Nam War was because, although it went on and on, it didn't give us beans for songs.
§ § §OTHER OLDER WARS (GOOD)There was also the Revolutionary War. When the colonists took up arms against the Mother Country, England sent over an army of redcoats and Hessian mercenaries to restore order. The English invasion force landed at New York Harbor, but they were held up for several weeks by the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, which insisted on checking every trooper's passport, vaccination certificate, background, politics, and school record. When the English finally disentangled themselves from the INS, they were set upon by an army of catchpolls and cutpurses who robbed them of half their muskets, three-cornered hats, and hub-caps.
The English bravely fought their way up the West Side Drive, despite heavy traffic, and then took the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey, with the aim of suppressing the rebels in Piscataway. The colonists responded by naming their commander-in-chief after the bridge, and fell back. Adopting guerrilla tactics, they harried the English troops day and night with sorties, ambushes, scurrilous graffiti, and late night telephone calls. The constant ringing of the telephone played havoc with the English command and control system, which was already confused enough by the Hessians who spoke no English --- and barely spoke Hessian for that matter. When the English directed them to dig trenches, they misunderstood and occupied Trenton.
In the meantime, the colonists retreated to Valley Forge, and named themselves the Continental Army because all they took for breakfast was coffee and a cruller, or maybe a piece of Danish. That winter at Valley Forge was a dark time for the colonials. They had too little to eat at breakfast and they damn near froze to death because they had left home in such a hurry they forgot to bring their woolies, furry long-johns, and blankies.
Shivering around their campfires, they listened to rousing revolutionary speeches by their leaders, which made them hot. Sam Adams cried, "No taxation without representation," and John Adams cried, "No taxation with representation," which became a credo for future generations.
General Washington was an inspiration to them all, for no matter how cold it was, his teeth never chattered. He also steadfastly refused to reveal whether his birthday was on February 12 or 22, and to this day nobody knows. Every day, the Marquis de Lafayette, an aristocratic European volunteer, trained the colonial troops in the use of the bayonette, the rapier, the boning knife, the Mouli-julienne, and the poultry shear. Gradually, the Continental Army was transformed from a rag-tag mob (El Bunche Pendejo) into a disciplined kitchen staff.
In the Spring, the Continental Army sallied forth from Valley Forge, their spirits restored. In a brillant tactical stroke, General Washington bypassed Trenton entirely, as everyone has done ever since, and threatened the mercenaries' right flank at South Orange. The Hessians moved to turn Washington's left flank at West Orange, but he gave them the slip at East Orange and regrouped in Nutley. The Hessians went in pursuit, but confused by New Jersey's famous traffic circles, took the wrong exit at Weehawken, where they marched right into the redcoats, who were doing close-order drill. In the meantime, the Colonials invested Tenafly, while General Washington stood up in a boat to cross the Passaic River, and led the storming of Teaneck.
When the colonial troops finally entered Philadelphia in triumph, the redcoats threw in the towel, and their Commander-in-Chief, General Burgandy, surrendered his poultry shears to General Washington. The English took their armies back to the mother country, put King George away in a pub called "The Golden Codpiece," (El Pedazo de Bacalao de Oro) and got on with the Industrial Revolution. As a result, the English invented Marmite, and the United States were left to go their own way and invent the cheeseburger.
In Philadelphia, the revolutionary leaders Sam Adams, John Adams, Adam Smith, Smith Barney, Tom Paine, Peter Paine, and Paine Webber locked themselves up for the summer until they could come up with a name for Constitution Hall. To this day, most everyone else has a similar problem with Philadelphia, viz., "I spent a whole summer in Philadelphia one weekend."
The war we like the best of all is the Civil War (La Guerra Civil). It started because a man by the name of Dreadful Scott was not a person so the North invaded the South and a million or so people died. The most interesting battle was given at Gettysburg. Gettysburg has since been turned into a Theme Park and Civil War fans come to visit dressed up in "Yankee" and "Rebel" uniforms. Using genuine modern antique bayonets, muskets, and cannon balls, they battle it out with each other. Afterwards, they sicken with cholera, gangrene, and the pox, and die like flies.
§ § §OTHER COUNTRIESThe French eat good food, refuse to share their language with anyone, and spend most of their time in bed with someone they aren't married to. They gave us lubricious kisses, Provençale Cooking, Viet-Nam, and the Pox (no se para la riata).
The English eat bad food, think about the old days when they owned the world, and spend most of their time in bed with people they are married to. They gave us the stiff upper lip, blood pudding, the Welch, and the song "Whiter Than the Whitewash on the Wall" which was popular during the first in our current series of wars. In coöperation with India, they also gave us Maj. Gray's Chutney.
Canada lives to the north of us on a vast, icy tundra. The citizens of Canada like to pretend they are not part of the United States. To punish them for this, we send them acid rain, old smog, and draft-dodgers. In turn, they give us the weather, Donald Sutherland, and pulp for newsprint. The stink that comes with the manufacture of pulp they keep for themselves.
The Swiss have the richest economy in the world based on cuckoo clocks and hiding money for everyone else. Once a year, foreigners are allowed in to Switzerland to visit their money. The Italians invented opera, organized crime, and the song "Dat's Amore," which was recorded on a mushroom and anchovy pizza.
The Germans gave us "The Ride of the Valkyries" for our war films and brautwurst for our indigestion. Although the Germans are very orderly, they suffer from a gap in memory that runs roughly from 1933 - 1945 (see TARDIVE DYSKINESIA). Their more recent accomplishments include Arnold Schwarzenegger and the faltering dollar, which may or may not be related.
The Japanese gave us the compact car, the compact disc, and the ability to eat raw fish without looking visibly ill. In return, we vaporized a couple of their cities and then showed them how to manufacture computers and Godzilla. They work twenty-five hours a day and encourage us to visit Tokyo so we can spend $30 for a cup of American coffee or $250 for a T-Bone steak imported from Kansas City. They themselves eat rice, seaweed, raw squid, and spiny rock-suckers, and only import coffee and T-Bone steaks to resell to American tourists. They then invest the profits in American real estate.
The Chinese spend much of their time making babies and electronic parts for Radio Shack. There are now so many of them (the babies, not electronic parts) that there isn't any room left for them in China, so they will have to come to the U. S. where they can work for Amazon and sell the electronic parts that are already here.
There are three types of Indians. Most live in India and speak a funny English that sounds like public television. They don't worry much because they spend a lot of time meditating (meditación). Then there are Indians who left India long ago and came to the U. S. to run restaurants called "The Taj Mahal." They have mostly stopped meditating, except after you place your order. The third type never lived in India, never meditated, and run Bingo parlors. They have names like Dick Comes-in-out-of-The-Rain, Jane Stands-in-the-Doorway, or Kevin Costner.
§ § §OTHER COUNTRIES (BAD)Several years ago, when we were at cold war with the communists, we weren't allowed to travel to Russia or say anything nice about the Russians. Because of this, all we knew about them was that they drank too much vodka, smashed their glasses in the fireplace, produced excessively long novels, and wore heavy beaver-skin hats because of the cold.
Soon enough the Communists got tired of not being able to have In-'n'-Out Burgers and Chuck-E-Cheese franchises so they declared peace and now they've adopted American customs like muggings, drug wars, and teen-age crime. They also bring in tourists to help stabilize their balance-of-payments problems. They visit places where the Romanoffs died, or Lenin, Beria and Stalin used to have statues. The Russians have also introduced cross-country skiing vacations to the Kolyma River prison camps, or flying visits to Chernobyl to see the architectural ruins.
The Russians gave us piroski with sour cream, "The Song of the Vulgar Boatmen," and forty-five years of nuclear heebie-jeebies (bombas atómicas espantosíssimas). Which we gave right back to them.
§ § §EVEN WORSE BAD COUNTRIESThere are other countries that are so bad we are still not allowed to talk to them. One of these is Cuba. Many years ago, the president of Cuba decided that he didn't like us putting all our gambling-houses and bordellos (casas de putas) in Havana so he closed them down. We got angry at this invasion of our sovereignty and told him he couldn't have any hamburger franchises or cars made after 1959. Recently we are having second thoughts since Cuban cigars now cost anywhere up to $100 each.
Another bad country is Iran. At one time, it was ruled by the Shah, who was the American bon vivant Artie Shah in disguise. In 1979, the Iranians grew tired of his incessant clarinet practice and threw him out on his ear, a cruel blow inasmuch as the Shah played by ear. Excited by this success, an Iranian mob marched on our embassy and made hostages of the entire staff of diplomats, including the cleaning women, marines, and CIA analysts. They locked them up in the Embassy basement for 1001 nights, forcing them to watch endless videotapes of William J. Bennett expounding on virtue.
Dismayed at this treatment, the U. S. government promised to send the Iranians 10,000 Long Trouser Missiles if they would free the hostages, or at least send the CIA agents and the cleaning women on to Nicaragua. To negotiate with them, we sent in Col. Oliver Twist, pretending he was Henry Kissinger, complete with dark glasses and fright-wig. President Reagan and Col. Twist forget exactly what happened next, and there is a good chance that the rest of us will too because of an old Persian love-song called "Sweet Light Crude."
There is also a country called Iraq that we are always confusing with Iran because their names are spelled almost the same. Because of our confusion, we aren't nice to either of them which is OK because they aren't nice to each other either.
Finally, there's China. In 1952 North Korea invaded South Korea and a zillion (cien mil de mil de millones) Chinese soldiers came along to help them. We refused to talk to them for thirty years after that. However, now we are thinking of talking to them again because every time we consider selling 1,000,000,000,000 Pizza Hut pizzas or 1,000,000,000 Taco Bell tacos we get so excited we'll talk to anyone.
One recent plus for China involves gastronomy. Traditional Chinese fare (Sea Beef in Black Shrimp Sauce, Leaf Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce, Chinese Bean Stroganoff in Black Sea Sauce) is of such high quality that the President is considering according China "most flavored nation" status.
§ § §CHINESE HUMORAt one time, the Chinese were thought to be a very humorous people, and America was awash with "Confucious" jokes, like:
"Women who wallflower during dance make dandelion on bed"
"Did you hear about Hung Chow the constipated Chinaman?"
It turned out that these jokes were being manufactured in an Artificial Joke Plant just outside of Canton. Not Canton China, but Canton OH. Thus the belief that Chinese have any sense of humor at all has been thoroughly discredited.
If you laughed at either of these jokes, you are a racist and should be ashamed of yourself.
§ § §AMERICAN PEOPLEThere are many kinds of Americans. Americans from Texas talk loud, own oil wells, and say things like "noisier 'n a hawg pissin' on a flat rock." People from New England don't talk at all, certainly not like that. People from the American South talk funny, too, saying things like "coveralls" and "crick" and "shet the doe," but they don't like to talk about anything that happened after 1865.
§ § §CALIFORNIAPeople from California don't talk funny but they own three cars and have hot tubs. Latinos who cross the border to live there are expected to buy cars and hot-tubs and swap husbands or wives with their best friends. When you're not in your hot tub with your best friends' husband (or wife), you drive your car over to someone else's hot tub so you can get in the tub with their husband (or their wife) when they're not home.
§ § §PAUSE FOR A SHORT GEOGRAPHY LESSONAmerican cities are often not where they are supposed to be, and foreign cities aren't either. New York is in New York but Washington is not in Washington. Virginia is in Minnesota and Mexico is in Missouri. Havana is in Florida, Berlin in New Hampshire, Moscow in Idaho, and Rome in New York. Paris is in Texas, along with Floydada, Poteet, Wink, and George's Knee. Liberal can be found in Kansas and Panacea in Florida --- as can Sneads and Sopchoppy. There is no Rotterdam nor Constantinople in the United States, but there is an old drinking song that goes:
Istanbul is Constantinople now,
Yes, Istanbul is Constantinople now
Why did Cons-tan-ti-nople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks.