a digression on bus-tv

…and on grammar.  The bus that I’m accustomed to taking back from the IMS has a little TV which plays a program called Notícias em Movimento (News in Motion), which is often hilarious and generally always puzzling.  For one thing, one night they devoted an entire segment to a performance from a jazz-samba ensemble.  This is a muted program.  So we passengers were treated to five minutes of musicians evidently enjoying themselves very much; but, since the music was instrumental, there weren’t even subtitles to keep the visual from becoming monotonous very fast.  It was like they were so excited about the music, they’d forgotten that nobody would be able to hear it.

Last night I saw a couple segments, one of them called Nosso Português é Brasileiro (Our Portuguese is Brazilian), in which they did man-on-the-street interviews about common grammatical mistakes.  “Ontem assisti um lindo filme” was the sentence – more or less, “Yesterday I saw a lovely film” – but nobody could figure out what was wrong with it.  “Ontem fui ao cinema, e lá assisti um lindo filme,” corrected one old man.  “Yesterday I went to the cinema and there I saw a lovely film.  As I understand it, you say where you went, and then you say what you did.  That’s correct.”

The problem with the sentence, as the reporter went on to smugly explain, is that the verb assistir in the sense of “to watch” requires the preposition a.  Otherwise, it’s “to assist” or “to live.”  “Assisti um lindo filme” would be “I helped a lovely film.”  This admonishment delivered, the reporter signed off.  The Nosso Português é Brasileiro closing credits rolled, and a promo for Bus TV came on:

Você está assistindo… NOTICIAS EM MOVIMENTO!

Well, they tried.


renew, reuse

A few nights ago I was out on Copacabana with a friend, and one of the peanut sellers came by and put down a few peanuts on a napkin on our table – a sort of sample.  “I never eat those,” my friend warned with a wrinkle of his nose.  We kept on talking, and a couple of minutes later the peanut guy came back to see if we wanted to buy any.  When we politely refused the offer, he reached over and gently took the napkin, and peanuts, and placed them on an adjacent table.  Tempting!  That is to say, while Rio may have a dearth of recycling bins, cariocas do recycle.

salve estácio

Well, there is an upside to being a redhead who speaks Portuguese:  people are absolutely flabbergasted, to the point where I was cheered in a bar in Copa for singing Palpite Infeliz* and subsequently hailed as “a representative of America singing Noel Rosa” (it sounds more impressive in Portuguese).

One lawyer seemed extraordinarily skeptical that I wasn’t somehow secretly Brazilian, and I had to explain for about fifteen minutes that, no, my university is just very good.  Well, goodness, let’s hope that the people administering the placement test next week are similarly impressed.

*After being strong-armed into it, naturally.

this post goes out to pedro

Spent the rest of yesterday editing at VideoFilmes.  It was a welcome distraction, but, as always, left with me with saudades pra caramba de the interviewees.  Things have been going very slowly on that front, unfortunately, because of scheduling issues – on Tuesday we finished the limpeza, cutting down the raw material to about 2 hours of selections that another editor will look over in the next couple days.
After packing up at VideoFilmes, I walked down to Oi Futuro Flamengo, where José Miguel Wisnik was giving a talk as part of a Forma e Sentido Contemporâneo series on poetry.  I got there about an hour and a half too early, so I walked around and took in a few of the exhibits.  The building gives the impression of straining to be ultramodern – LED-flickering walls, undulating orange couches, glass everything – but mainly it felt like the MoMA store ca. 2004.  Continue reading

real gabinete português de leitura (mas não de livros pessoais)

Just look at it.  Why in the hell did it take me so goddamn long to visit this place?

I swear I’d written down “Real Gabinete Português de Leitura” on some notepad with a list of things to do in Rio, but it must’ve gotten lost in the predeparture shuffle.  Anyway, today, finally, before heading off to VideoFilmes, I cruised up to Centro to see the RGPL for myself.  It was either that or the Museu de Arte Moderna – I could walk down to Glória from either one – but the RGPL won out after I dawdled long enough in Jardim Botânico that there was no time to give the museum a proper visit.   Continue reading

samba da ouvidor

At the recommendation of a Good Samaritan, I headed back to Centro this Saturday to catch an open-air roda de samba in the heart of historic Rio – the Samba da Ouvidor.  After getting off the bus and walking in the wrong direction for maybe half an hour, I oriented myself and found my way to the Rua do Ouvidor.  From the Lagoa to the bay, Rio is a curvy city, which tends to mess with my head navigation-wise.  Whenever I try to orient myself using the beach, I end up royally confused (near Arpoador, I can go in circles for hours); that is to say, even the geography of the place dribla as expectativas.  Anyway, better lost and nonchalant than pulling out a map and incurring the scorn of everyone within a 2-block radius, is my motto.

By this point I’m used to things not being there when or where they should be, so I braced myself for disappointment.  The street was narrow and clogged with construction equipment, and as I walked my ears kept on trying to make out a batida de samba from the clunks and thuds of heavy machinery.  Finally, just as I’d nearly given up hope, an unmistakable, gorgeous flute soared over the jackhammers.  I made a beeline for it and soon found myself standing on the fringe of a large, festive crowd.   Continue reading