more random notes on Ethiopia, including some odd pirated DVD’s 2

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• My week or so in Addis Ababa is the first time I have ever been anywhere during a true rainy season. From the end of June to mid-September, it is the ‘long rain’ season in this part of Ethiopia. They get over half of their year’s total rainfall in these months. Every single afternoon I have been in Addis, it starts raining sometime around one or two for a few hours. It is amazing in its consistency. One quickly gets in the habit of doing any errands needing to be done in the morning, eating lunch, and then making sure that you are in a place that you don’t mind waiting the rain out in the afternoon, before reemerging for dinner after sundown.

I love the rain. I have for as long as I can remember. It has always meant life to me. Water is such a crucial ingredient for all life, at least here on our planet, which is the only one I’m personally familiar with so far. Every time it rains, for some reason, the thought that life is soon to flourish goes through my mind. Now, I understand that in some places in the world, the overabundance of rainfall brings much tragedy, but I suppose I’ve yet to experience that, so it’s easy enough for me to rationalize away.

Thunderstorms are an added bonus. There is something about the power and the fury of it all that fascinates me. Plus, I think its one of the most romantic states of nature. The sound of the rain, furiously beating down on roofs, pavement, and trees. The flash of lighting on a dark night – lighting up the sky for a brief moment – the streaks of the electricity connecting sky with earth. The variety of sound that thunder brings – the low rumble that lasts for seconds – the sharp, whip-snap sound of a lighting burst close by – being able to judge its distance by its volume. One of the single most romantic nights I’ve yet spent in my life was on a covered back porch, overlooking the Arkansas River, at about 9 p.m., as a powerful thunderstorm blew in from the west and quickly overtook Little Rock. What a wonderful night.

• Ethiopian food is pretty good. Much better than the fare that I had during my stay in Kenya. They actually use spices here, which is welcomed. It has been quite a few miles since I’ve been anywhere where food has that good, spicy flavor that opens your senses. Perhaps since Zanzibar.

Most Ethiopian meals are some sort of spiced meat (beef or lamb/mutton being the most common) that is then served in a pile in the middle of a very large pancake-like substance called injera. Its not bread exactly. Nor is it a pancake, as we in the States would recognize it. It’s always served cold and has a slightly sour and vinegary taste and a bit of a rubbery texture. You tear off pieces of the injera and use it to eat whatever the main dish is, with your right hand only of course (we all know what we use our left hands for). The injera isn’t one of my all-time favorites, but once you get used to it, it’s fine. The main dishes that you are mopping up with it though have usually been quite good and more than make up for any shortcomings of the injera.

• This comment is clearly going to come back and haunt me in the bad karma department, since I am hoping my third career is going to be writing (and getting paid for it): I have become semi-addicted to pirated DVDs.

Every time I buy one, I think to myself “none of this money is going to the people that invested time and money into creating this product,” but I can’t stop. There are plenty of times on the road that I don’t feel like reading – though my tally of books read lies somewhere around 25 so far – or I don’t feel like meeting new people to talk with – or don’t really feel like doing anything that remotely involves my brain being switched on.

In those times, its really nice to have seasons 1-3 of Boston Legal and seasons 1-4 of Two and Half Men to vegetate over. Through trial and error I have learned that it is best to buy television shows and skip over the DVDs with a dozen movies on them.

Though, I have bought a couple of the movie DVDs. The “Mafia Movie Collection” is staring at me right now. Godfather parts I, II and III. OK, that makes perfect sense for this collection. Scarface. Ditto. Dog Day Afternoon? Hmmmmm. OK, close enough. The Insider? My friends in various Attorney General’s offices that sued the tobacco industry would be amused to see them included in the Mafia collection. But also on this DVD. . . Scent of a Woman and Any Given Sunday.

I suppose that anything Al Pacino stars in is eligible for a Mafia collection.

These DVDs all seem to originate from China (and I’m now a hypocritical, but full supporter of cracking down on China for intellectual property violations now). My favorite pirate company is one called “AK-47 Productions.” Not only do I like the name – their quality seems the best of the ones I’ve seen so far.

<—– I’ve watched a lot of Boston Legal – anyone ever seen this guy even appear in a single episode, let alone as one of the stars?

Some of the descriptions of the shows on the backs of these packages are written in understandable English. And then there is this description of season three of Boston Legal:

“Boston Legal ABC is the highlight of The practice fringe series, it gives us Alan Shore for a law firm in the course of the story, and how the case. Story on a Boston senior counsel, based mainly in civil cases. These intelligent agent must deal with the law allows them to do and how to combat them not to do so. When basically try, they will be faced with social and moral issues. This is a series of intricate sense of humour to the story of how we have to?”

Seriously, who wouldn’t immediately pick them up off the shelf and buy it. . . for about $2.

If I had to choose between that season and season one – how could I?

“Alan Shore and Denny Crane (Emmy winner by James Spader and William Shatner playing) are good incomes, lawyers Crane Poole & Schmidt team a rare friend. Partner Shirley Schmidt (five Emmy winners as Canice Bergen) in the fourth quarter will continue to reorganize the chaotic office administration problem. Alertness of her eyes, take care of all firms, especial by Denny Crane. It is said that the two had had a love-hate concubine.”

And no, I didn’t mistype any of that. Perhaps my next career is writing legible ad copy for Chinese DVD pirates.

It’s a bit sad that I’m now giving advice on the best pirated DVDs to buy, but I might as well close the circle and finish the thought. The problem with the movie collection DVDs is that they are usually made by taking a camcorder into a movie theater and recording. The lighting is horrible. The sound is pathetic. And occasionally, someone will stand up in front of you and go get popcorn (or start coughing loudly next to you). Or the camcorder operator will accidentally turn off the camcorder for a while and the movie will just skip forward a random half-hour. With the television shows, the quality of the recording is usually good, although a reasonable percentage of the DVDs you buy will be partly corrupted, so that you can’t watch all the episodes on your computer.

Now that being said, if I actually get a book published . . . go pay full retail and buy it in the store. And buy one for a friend.

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About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

2 thoughts on “more random notes on Ethiopia, including some odd pirated DVD’s

  • Elise

    Ok, so i just read your post about the ‘Worst Movie of all time’…and when I saw the link about Boston legal…I just had to see what the cover was!
    Ant and I have watched the entire collection of Boston Legal and have never once seen that guy!! I loved that show, but season 5 was a real let down for me!
    The back of the DVD cover was a classic….I’ve read a few of those weird ones as well…sometimes the funniest thing to do is flick on the English subtitles on a pirated film and read what they say…hilarious, as they are almost never written correctly!

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