Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bullfighting – If You’re Not Spanish, You Can’t Understand

There’s a small brouhaha going on over at Notes From Spain. Ben can always get the natives riled up over a nice discussion about the evils of bullfighting - and related pastimes. There were many comments from non-Spanish newcomers denouncing the practice, and a mix from Spanish people alternately denouncing and defending la corrida de toros. As usual, the Spaniards doing the defending were getting pretty offended and I think this time I am on their side.

I was wondering if it is even possible for non-Spanish people to really understand the fiesta nacional. I mean, we probably just don’t get it and never will get it and should just stay out of it. I for one like that Spain has the bullfight. It sounds terrible, but I am willing to sacrifice a few bulls to keep Spain “Spain”. We would not be fascinated with the place if it were not for all this interesting stuff going on. I have only been to two bullfights in my life and they were great, exotic and Spanish. However, I did not catch the bug, but I don’t want them to end either. I like the idea of the bullfight. Are they brutal? Hell yes! That’s life! I think the Spanish people should not try to “defend” bullfights anymore. They should just say, “ Yeahh, they’re nasty, and beautiful, a lot of fun, all ours, and what a show!”

Now here’s where I’m going to lose you if I have not lost you already, I draw a very tenuous parallel between a common Yanqui custom that I do not believe the world can ever fully understand – gun ownership. Yeah, some Americans like guns, they like to hunt, they use them as tools, they like to hone their skills, they think of them as fine machinery, they can be a hobby and a pastime, they are a part of some people’s lives, they are a responsibility. Most of the world dismisses the gun-toting Yanquis as barbarians, or red-necked, violent simpletons (and some are I’m sure). And of course many Americans also think this same way. Sound familiar? There are more and more Spanish people who do not want the Bullfight to continue.

So, just as I wish the rest of the world would at least consider the unique cultural and historic aspects of the gun in America and not judge too harshly, I’ve decided that we non-Spanish types need to keep our noses out of the fiesta nacional and let the Spanish decide when it dies. Likewise, the Americans will decide when to ban the guns. Both are coming of course.

Update: Good Bullfight Article.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Obama's Dirty Secret

Spain dwellers will probably be surprised to hear that a very common Spanish pastime that Barack Obama indulges in is something that he is desperately trying to conceal from the American people. Smoking.

This is a big deal over in Yanquilandia because many people see smoking as a very nasty habit only partaken in by weak-willed individuals. Presidents don’t smoke, at least not modern day Democratic presidents. Smoking is for shady, back-room dealing Republicans.

Obama says he is trying to quit, or has quit, or something. The Barack-obsessed American media sure isn’t going to out him though. They consistently only have great things to say about ol’ Barack. I bet if Hillary even looked at a cigarette it would be all over the papers about what white trash she is.

One good thing they say the cigarettes do for Obama is they make his voice all maple syrupy and smooth, like some kind of jazz radio disk-jockey. People really do love his voice. If he quits smoking he may lose that rich, resonant, authoritative sound that some people say intones “president.”

Maybe Hillary should pick up a pack of Ducados. Her voice could use some toning down. People may be voting solely on which voice they will be subjected to for the next 8 years.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Bota - Is there Anything More Spanish?

Well maybe there is, but the Spanish wine skin, or Bota, has got to be one of the most Spanish icons out there. And I'm not talking about the crappy plastic-lined imitations. No, it has to be the real deal, hand made, with tar inside, or pez.

I bought these two at a Boteria in Madrid, kind of a while ago. The workshop was over in the South of Latina area - one of those streets above Puerta de Toldeo. Like most places in Madrid, I knew more or less where it was but not the exact street or address. I tried to find it once again after many years but had no luck.

So, the other day I was looking at my botas, and I did what everyone does now if they are trying to find something, I Googled "boteria" and came up with several things. One of which was a post that I missed from Sal's Virtual Tapas Bar. It seems that Sal is an aficionado of the bota too and he did a great job of laying out the do's and dont's of bota use and maintenance.

Proper Bota Boozing Technique:

Sal also says that as of 2004 the boteria is called:

BoterĂ­a Julio Rodriguez
Calle Aguila, 12
28005 Madrid
Tel: +34-91-365-6629

I have to check that out when I am in Madrid next - hopefully this June.

I also came up with this great link to a video - complete with flamenco guitar accompaniment - of the bota fabrication process.

I do have to say that I am a bota snob though because mine not only are authentic hand made piel with tar inside, but they also have tapones made of bull horn (asta de toro), not plastic. Jealous?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Interesting Language Story

The Portuguese have decided to go Brazilian - at least in how they speak and write. They are going to adopt Brazilian Portuguese as their official language.

They've done the math, and came to the conclusion that Portuguese from Portugal with it's 10 million speakers, just can't win in the face of Brazilian Portuguese and their 190 million speakers. So, they are going to change about 2,000 words from "Portugal Portuguese" to "Brazilian Portuguese".

Can you imagine a similar thing happening in Spain? There is no way they would adopt "South American Spanish", not that I'm saying they should. Of course there would be the problem of which brand of South American Spanish to adopt?

How about the Brits? That one is a little more clear cut. We all know they should give up on the "organise" and spell it "organize" etc., and just speak like the Yanks already (wink).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Slacking Off

Well, not really. One thing about vacations - it takes too damn much work to prepare for them, go on them, then recover from them. It's almost not worth it.

My real life has been seriously getting in the way of my pathetic web life. I planned a long weekend in Maui but then had to work my ass off at the day job to be able to leave town, then I get back and have to work my ass off because I was gone. And this is just for a lousy self-made "puente" of four days!

Anyway, That's Maui up there, it was nice, etc.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Freedom From Religion

"Freedom of Religion" is on some people's minds these days in Spain, but I think what Spain needs is a little freedom from religion.

This article from El Pais explains that Muslims in Spain want their piece of the subsidy pie - right now mostly reserved for Catholics. They want the State to pay for religious instruction in Islam (which in fact is what the current law says Spain will do). This is in the name of freedom of religion. So, who's next? the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Scientologists? Of course the answer is there should be no public money for ANY religious instruction.

I feel compelled to mention again that in Yanquilandia, where we are all supposedly a bunch of religious fanatics, there has been no public money for teaching religion for, let's see .... never! And yet, freedom of religion is alive and well.