Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm Back...Back in the Big D Groove

I was out for about a week owing to an operation that I'm still recovering from. It will probably be about a month before I'm fully recovered but at least I'm able to do more than I was allowed to do last week.

Mi novia, who has been assisting me during my recovery period, has been an absolute angel. So is mi mejor amiga, who allowed me and mi novia to stay over su casa (her house) as guests of her and her husband while I was going through the first week of my recovery period.

My operation can best be described as one of those operations that wasn't a matter of life and death yet could not have been put off indefinitely. The type of operation about which it is still embarrassing to talk.

However, I like to think I've gone through the worst of it by now, knock wood.

Muchas gracias a mi novia y mi mejor amiga para su ayuda. (Many thanks to my girlfriend and my best friend for their help.)

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Gatita Ballou

It would be nice to make some snarky remark about Bandidas representing the true history of the American Southwest or how it demonstrates how the West was really won. However, that would make it sound like the type of dull, boring film that only a hardcore Chicano Studies major can love.

Instead, it seems far more cool to point to the scene in which Penelope Cruz stands on a horse while motioning it to get closer and closer to a wall she's trying to climb over. In short, a scene involving a cute girl on a horse. If that's not something with universal appeal, then I don't know what is. (Besides, this movie takes place in Mexico, not the American Southwest.)

Anyway, it doesn't hurt that the two stars of the movie -- Salma Hayek and Ms. Cruz -- are cast against type. Cruz, la infanta (princess) of Spanish cinema, is cast as a simple farm girl and Salma Hayek, the ultimate mexicana, is cast as an arrogant Spanish aristocrat. (If you know something about the perverse love-hate relationship Mexico has in regard to Spain, Ms. Hayek's role seems especially ironic.) The two of them join forces when Hayek's father is killed and Cruz's father is nearly killed, and eventually they start robbing banks.

Unfortunately, Steve Zahn comes along as a thinly disguised MacGyver character whose chief purposes in the film seems to be (1) giving the two women someone to fight over, and (2) providing clues to the culprit who killed Hayek's father. (What? Hayek and Cruz's characters couldn't figure that out on their own?)

Zahn is not necessarily a bad addition to the cast, but he doesn't add as much as you would think. Nor does it help that the plot liberally borrows from other movies (Cat Ballou, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, etc.) without coming up with many original ideas of its own.

That final scene is cute though. No Thelma y Luisa finale para Penny y Salma! And not just because they did not have automobiles back then.

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Skin Color

My first notice of skin color came when I started to notice that some of my relatives had darker skin than my mother, my siblings and myself. I specifically noticed it when I took note of the cinnamon-brown skin of my favorite female cousin and her little brother one day when the three of us were playing in their family's basement.

At the time, I was naïve enough to blame the difference in skin color on sunlight. If only I had spent more time in the sun, I reasoned, I would be as dark as my two cousins and I would be normal.

Please note that last part.

My first response to the fact that my two cousins had darker skin than me was not: “Oh my God! I'm related to dark-skinned people.”

It was: “If my skin was as dark as theirs, I would be normal. I'd fit in. I'd belong.”

And I wanted desperately to belong, to fit into a group which at the time I considered to be perfect.

Of course, as I grew up, I realized that this was not a normal response. A normal light-skinned person was not supposed to envy the skin color of a dark-skinned person. True, there were tanning salons, but it was just accepted in all too many areas of American society -- even the most liberal areas -- that dark skin was only acceptable when it was temporary. When it was permanent, it just wasn't that fashionable.

Of course, my relatives never promoted this idea for obvious reasons. And part of the reason I envied their skin color undoubtedly lay in that fact. For that matter, I was influenced a lot by the pride my dark-skinned cousins seemed to have in themselves. They weren't perfect, but in my childish eyes, they might as well have been. Whenever my siblings and I were tempted to slack off in school, my Polish-American mother would inevitably talk about how my Aunt O_____ (my favorite cousin's mother) always insisted on her children finishing their homework and how many of them were honor students as a result. In other words, when my mother wanted us to do well in school, she did not cite one of her own relatives as an example to emulate; she cited relatives on the Mexican side of the family.

And I never realized how odd this was until I was much older.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Movie Quote of the Week

Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash, and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.
--John Neville, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

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Literary Quote I Like

We observed that the wind always changed when Mrs. Pardiggle became the subject of conversation; and that it invariably interrupted Mr. Jarndyce, and prevented his going any farther, when he had remarked that there were two classes of charitable people; one, the other who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.
--Charles Dickens, Bleak House

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Science Fiction Quote of the Week

The first generation asea clung and sighed for the culture of NEMET, consoled itself with its patriotic sacrifice; any relief was better than none at all, and Grenville’s Convoy had drained one and a quarter million population from the huddle. They were immigrants into the sea; like all immigrants they longed for the Old Country. Then the second generation. Like all second generations they had no patience with the old people or their tales. This was real, this sea, this gale, this rope! Then the third generation. Like all third generations it felt a sudden desperate hollowness and lack of identity. What was real? Who are we? What is NEMET which we have lost? But by then grandfather and grandmother could only mumble vaguely; the cultural heritage was gone, squandered in three generations, spent forever. As always, the fourth generation did not care.
--C. M. Kornbluth, “Shark Ship”

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

42nd Street Redux

Major props to the Self-Styled Siren for acknowledging me in this post. It doesn't hurt that she also describes more than a few of my favorite scenes in 42nd Street. As much as I liked Ruby Keeler, I cannot pretend that it was a major injustice that Ginger Rogers went on to have a more successful career than her.

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Quote of the Week

Labels, when used properly and fairly can be tools of enpowerment; labels, when used improperly and unfairly, can be tools of marginalization. Let me repeat that. Labels can be used to enpower people, or they can be used to marginalize people.
--Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, “Misunderstood...again,” La Queen Sucia, July 5, 2007

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At Long Last Links

I finally broke down and added some links to my home page. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it; I still have a lot to learn about the blogging process and one might argue that this entire blog is still at best an experiment.

But the links I've added thus far seem to be working okay. I'm just sorry I haven't yet found a way to link to my nephew's blog.

If anyone on the sites to which I have linked objects to have a link to their site posted on this site, please let me know. Otherwise, I'll assume you approve or at least feel neutral about the whole matter.

Anyway, major thanks to Lynn Lee, MaryAnn Johanson and the way cool if a bit mysterious Campaspe for giving me hours of pleasure with the writing on their respective sites.

I will probably add more links in the future. If you're interested, please stay tuned for further developments.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Libro de la Semana (Book of the Week)

It was inevitable. I just had to buy this book. With my family background, I had no choice.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Fourth of July

I'll be working on the Fourth this year. But I hope you all have fun.

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