Thursday, March 30, 2006

“Yo No Cruce la Frontera, la Frontera Me Cruzo!*”

Well, actually, I was born in Detroit...

* Spanish for “I didn't cross the border, the border crossed me!”

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Who Is Tonio Kruger -- And Why Is He Saying All These Awful Things About Himself?

Tonio Kruger is the user name of one R______ M. M______, a self-styled blogger of Mexican and Polish descent. He originally borrowed the name “Tonio Kruger” from the title character of an old Thomas Mann novella.

Who is this title character? A German writer of mixed ethnic descent who like R______ has a mixed attitude towards almost everything including his own ancestry, not to mention of a history of -- er -- dysfunctional relationships. The literary Tonio is a bit more ambiguous in his sexual preferences than the real-life Tonio; i.e, the real-life Tonio is heterosexual. Yet the two of them still have many attitudes in common.

Quotes from the literary Tonio the real-life Tonio especially appreciates:

1. “He who loves the more is the inferior and must suffer; in this hard and simple fact his fourteen-year-old soul had already been instructed by life; and he was so organized that he received such experiences consciously, wrote them down as if it were inwardly, and even, in a certain way, took pleasure in them, though without ever letting them mould his conduct, indeed, or drawing any practical advantage from them.”

2. “He surrendered utterly to the power that to him seemed the highest on earth, to whose service he felt called, which promised him elevation and honours: the power of intellect, the power of the Word, that lords it with a smile over the unconscious and inarticulate. To this power he surrendered with all the passion of youth, and it rewarded him inexorably, in return, all that it is wont to take.

“It sharpened his eyes and made him see through the large words which puff out the bosoms of mankind; it opened for him men's souls and his own, made him clairvoyant, showed him the inwardness of the world and the ultimate behind men's words and deeds. And all that he saw could be put in two words: the comedy and the tragedy of life.”

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An Exception To The “No Mexicans in Outer Space” Rule?

Alas, I haven't read this book yet, but it is tempting...

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Monday, March 27, 2006

History In The Making?

Writer/blogger Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez aka Queen Sucia probably summed up it best: wow.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

No Mexicans In Outer Space

Interesting quote by writer/director Robert Towne in an article published in the March 18th edition of The Dallas Morning News. In the article, he described actress Salma Hayek's reluctance to play a certain role in his new movie Ask The Dust:

“She looked stricken. She said, 'I can't play a Mexican waitress. I'd be typecast forever. I came to the United States to get crossover roles.' She had just been turned down for a science-fiction movie. They'd told her no one would believe there were Mexicans in outer space. So she was sensitive.”

I'm not sure how serious I should take this story, but if true, it doesn't exactly say great things about Hollywood liberalism.

Why do I get the feeling that the science fiction movie in question wasn't an adaptation of an Octavia Butler story?

Anyway, the big question here is why exactly are Hollywood executives so sure there were no Mexicans in outer space? How would they know? Is there a “no se habla español” sign on the moon that I don't know about? Is there some law restricting applicants of a certain ancestry from being astronauts?

And why do I get the feeling that Mexicans who look like, say, Charisma Carpenter would be more welcome in Hollywood's version of outer space than Mexicans who look like Salma Hayek?

Inquiring minds want to know...

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

V For Vendetta: El Libro Fue Mejor

I saw the movie last night and I found myself gravely disappointed. Somehow, I knew not to expect too much, but even my low expectations weren't quite met.

Indeed, watching the movie V for Vendetta if you're an hardcore Alan Moore fan like myself was like hearing one's favorite Stevie Wonder songs sung by the contestants on American Idol: you want to like the results but geez, some things just shouldn't be encouraged...

Some scenes lifted verbatim from Moore's original graphic novel worked okay, but the scenes in which the filmmakers tried to “update” or “improve” the original material just didn't work that well.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

“Even Old New York Was Once New Amsterdam...”

According to an article in the New York Times, New York City is losing black and white residents and gaining Latino and Asian residents.

What does this mean for the future? I don't know.

We've been getting members of the Nueva York diaspora down here in Texas for years. My first American girlfriend was a former resident of Nueva York. One of my favorite college English teachers was a former resident of Nueva York. And one of my ex-co-workers at my present job was a former resident of Nueva York.

In short, gente have been leaving Nueva York for years. So what's so new this time?

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Thoughts on Cabaret

I've been spending a lot of time recently listening to the 1999 Broadway soundtrack for Cabaret. Perhaps because its blend of dark cynicism and hopeless romanticism just seem to suit my mood right now.

“Maybe This Time” seems the perfect theme for any single person like myself who has a history of -- shall we say -- dysfunctional relationships. And, of course, “Money” has an universal appeal, even to those of us who aren't Republicans.

And yet I don't quite have the same affection for the movie version that I do for the Broadway play.

After all, I saw a local version of the play this past summer and fell in love with it instantly. Then I rented the 1972 movie version and found myself curiously underwhelmed.

It was not just that a lot of my favorite songs -- “Perfectly Marvelous,” for example -- were cut from the movie. Nor do I have anything against Liza Minnelli, who is quite a talented woman who deserved far more musical roles than she has had.

But the movie seemed to miss the whole point of the play. And worse yet, it reshaped itself to fit the needs of Ms. Minnelli than vice versa. Thus, a rather daring piece about a poor showgirl named Sally Bowles became a rather pompous piece about a spoiled Daddy's girl named Sally Bowles. Instead of being a thinly veiled allegory about the rise of Nazi Germany -- with Liza representing the more apathetic elements of the West and his boyfriend representing the more idealistic elements -- it became the story of a poor little rich girl slumming in a Berlin nightclub whose story only occasionally concerned itself about the Nazis.

Some bits were inspired. Joel Grey made an excellent MC, Liza, of course, was great at singing and dancing, and the very lovely Marisa Berenson made an interesting contrast to the ape used in the “If You Could See Her” number to mock non-Aryans.

But it just wasn't enough.

I know the film is supposed to be a classic, but for me, it was just okay. And Cabaret deserves to be a bit more than “just okay.”

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Buscando Trabajo: Day Fourteen

Mi amiga has a job interview today, but I haven't heard from her so I'm hoping for the best.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Bit With Two Dogs In It

My favorite niece -- okay, my only niece -- had her sixth birthday Saturday. Among her presents was a DVD copy of the Disney film Lady and The Tramp.

Ironically, one of the first movies my mother ever took my siblings and me to see in an indoor theatre was Lady and The Tramp. So in a sense, my niece is inheriting a family tradition...

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Buscando Trabajo: Day Ten

Mi amiga C_____* is still out of work and now she has a broken arm to boot. If you thought unemployment was frustrating, try making due with a broken limb. Or trying to get a new cast on said limb despite having no insurance.

Modern hospitals are frustrating enough for those of us who are lucky enough to have health insurance. For those of us who don't, they're a nightmare. You wait and wait and wait and answer questions and then answer more questions and then wait and then go to another area where you get to wait again and answer still more questions. Then if you're lucky, a doctor sees you and asks you the same questions you've already answered twenty times over.

And despite all these questions, the doctors still make mistakes.

I'm worried about mi amiga. Hopefully all this will seem like a sueño malo by next week, but until then...

* Not her real name.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Buscando Trabajo: Day Three

Being between jobs sucks. Even if you're the type of person who saves every dime and sooner parts with a pint of blood than with a dollar bill, it sucks. Without work, you can't plan. You can't pay bills. You can't relax. You can't help thinking in terms of worst-case scenarios, and you can't help but wonder how long it'll take to find another job and whether or not said job will suck even worse than the last one.

I'm hoping my amiga C____* finds a job soon. But so far the news is not inspiring.

Even worse are the signs of false hope. For example, on the first day of her job search, mi amiga just happened to see a sign on a gate marked “Now Hiring.” Just the type of news she could use, right?

Alas, the place that belonged to that gate was not itself hiring. Just the company that owned that place. And the job openings that were available weren't likely to be in that location.

Job searches suck worse when you don't own a car. Like many cities, Dallas has little provision for public transportation. We have a bus system and a light rail system. But that's it. And even those systems don't go everywhere.

In any event, most companies that are likely to be hiring are not likely to be located in a place that can be reached by bus or light rail. You have to have a car to get there, and if you're too poor to own a car, well, tough luck.

Part of my problem with online applications is that they have a similar problem. If you don't have a computer and an internet modem, the only way you can apply at most companies is to go to the local library and use its internet system. However, this is not always a realistic option for most people. After all, many people live blocks away from a library and don't own a car. Nor do they always have a library card -- and most libraries won't permit non-card users to use their internet system. And if they do, such internet access rarely lasts long enough to enable the would-be applicant to make more than one or two job applications. And that's assuming the companies they're applying at don't have glitches in their software that make applying next to impossible.

I always thought that the Internet revolution was supposed to make life better for the average person. But then I guess that depends on one's definition of “average person”...

* Not her real name.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Buscando Trabajo: Day Two

Ay, Dios! If there's one thing I've learned from assisting mi amiga C____* with her job search, it is to really really really hate online application forms. Especially the kind that take forever to load, forever to process, and forever to complete -- if you're lucky enough to manage to complete one without seeing the darn thing erased halfway through the application process.

Mi amiga is a very intelligent person, but unfortunately she's at the mercy of an application process that would make Stephen Hawking feel like a moron.

Yes, I know. Online job applications weren't intended for the benefit of the would-be employees; they were intended for the benefit of the employers. But, geez! There has got to be a better way.

* Not her real name.

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