Monday, April 30, 2007

All the Classic Books That I Have Read, Part One

I do not have time to compile a complete list but I'll add to this list from time to time.

1. 1984 (1949) -- George Orwell
2. Anna Karenina (1877) -- Leo Tolstoy.
3. East of Eden (1952) -- John Steinbeck
4. Brave New World (1932) -- Aldous Huxley
5. Gigi (1944) -- Colette
6. The Sun Also Rises (1926) -- Ernest Hemingway
7. This Side of Paradise (1920) -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
9. Animal Farm (1945) -- George Orwell
10. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) -- Mark Twain
11. The Adventures of Huck Finn (1884) -- Mark Twain
12. Dodsworth (1929) -- Sinclair Lewis
13. Crime and Punishment (1866) -- Fyodor Dostoevsky
14. Les Miserables (1862) -- Victor Hugo
15. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) -- Victor Hugo

More to come


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Words Fail Me

And I'm sure they're failing other people too in regard to the recent massacre in Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007 (aka this past Monday)--an event being described as the worst massacre in recent US history.

That doesn't mean there aren't people who are already commenting on the event. And it's sad to see how much of the commentary seems reminiscent of the same Monday morning quarterbacking (no pun intended) we witnessed after the Columbine massacre. Once again we'll see a lot of political ambulance-chasing done in the name of “compassion for the victims.” Once again, we'll see a lot of people talk about how people -- not them personally, but, you know, other people -- should have responded to signs that seem obvious in retrospective. (But then such signs always seem obvious in retrospective.)

If you hate immigrants, you'll use this incident as an excuse to bash immigrants. If you hate Koreans, you'll use this incident as an excuse to bash Koreans. If you hate guns, you'll use this as an excuse to promote gun control -- even though incidents like this rarely seem to happen in places like Switzerland in which most citizens are required to own guns. If you hate anything, you may or may not give in to the temptation to blame this incident on that particular item you hate.

Ever since I've heard about the gunman's two-handed gun firing technique, I've been waiting for some jerk to blame this whole incident on John Woo movies.

In the end, all this rhetoric will matter little to the dead. All we can do is try our best to prevent the next such incident. And ironically, if we are successful in doing that, few people will ever know. But at least they'll be alive...

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Movie Quote of the Week

We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time! It's exhausting!
--Edward James Olmos, Selena (1997)

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Let's Go Shopping

I took mi novia to a Hispanic grocery store the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find service there that was superior to the type I've encountered at non-Hispanic grocery stores. Clerks who actually wait on you. Who perform price checks. Who don't encourage you to check out and bag your own groceries. Wow! How come you rarely see this at so-called “American” grocery stores any more?

Add to that the fact that I was able to buy mi novia an agua fresca to drink while we shopped, find foods like cajeta and carnitas that one rarely finds in most non-Hispanic grocery stores, buy fresh vegetables for our dinner together, and then buy her flowers to boot... Hey, it's a shame she and I don't go to stores like this more often.

It would be nice to pretend that this store was part of the Carnival Store chain since that chain appears to have experiencing a bit of controversy right now over their plans to open a store in the local suburb of Farmers Branch. But actually it was a Fiesta Mart.

But that's okay. I've been inside the Carnival Store in Plano, and while it doesn't quite have the same selection as Fiesta Mart, it was still a lot better than one would expect from all the negative publicity they have been receiving in Farmers Branch.

Yes, I know. I'm Mexican-American, so naturally I'm going to be biased toward this chain. But as a friend noted, it's not just Mexicans or Latinos who shop at these type of stores. The same friend noted that she has seen a lot of Indians and Southeast Asians shopping for vegetables in these stores because the selection is so good and the prices so reasonable.

No, I don't work for either chain, and I'd rather not play pitchman for anyone. But I can't help but wonder whether the fact that I've put off going to a Fiesta Mart for so long has anything to do with the notion in our country that anything that appeals so obviously to Hispanics has to have something wrong with it.

I've never thought of myself as a self-hating Hispanic. If anything, I'm all too prone to emphasize my Hispanic heritage and, as one Latina co-worker once put it, “wave the Mexican flag.” But experiences like this do make me wonder what else I've been missing out on because I pay too much attention to what other people think.

As for the folks in Farmers Branch... If they don't want a store like Carnival or Fiesta Mart in their neighborhood, that's their loss.

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What I've Learned Since Last Spring

1. Illegal immigration is the most important issue facing this country.

2. Illegal immigration is the least important issue facing this country.

3. Illegal immigrants are the scum of the earth.

4. Illegal immigrants are the salt of the earth.

5. Illegal immigrants only take jobs Americans don't want.

6. Illegal immigrants only take jobs Americans can't afford to want.

7. The one thing we need is a big strong fence to keep them out.

8. The one thing we don't need is a big strong fence to keep them out.

9. Demographics are changing in Mexico's favor, and that's a bad thing.

10. Demographics are changing in Mexico's favor, and that's a good thing.

11. Mexican illegal immigrants aren't assimilating like other immigrants.

12. Mexican illegal immigrants are assimilating like other immigrants.

13. The last thing we need are more political demonstrations by people who shouldn't be in this country in the first place.

14. Yeah, but those rightwing talk show hosts are all citizens, so what you gonna do?

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