Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Medley: Pastures of Plenty/This Land Is Your Land/Land"

A musical history lesson by way of the late Woody Guthrie and the still living folk singer Lila Downs.

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Movie Quote of the Week

All my mother does is work. That's how you get to be Spanish.
--Elizabeth Peña, Lone Star (1996)

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TV Quote of the Week

I always dream in Spanish.
--Judy Reyes, Scrubs, "My Identity Crisis"

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

R.I.P. Herbert Lom

Czech-born actor Herbert Lom -- born Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchacevic ze Schluderpacheru and most famous for his role as Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movies as well as the title role in the 1962 Hammer Productions remake of The Phantom of the Opera -- cursed Clouseau for the final time today at age 95.

He will be missed.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

R.I.P. Andy Williams

American singer Andy Williams, most famous for such songs as "Moon River" and "Where Do I Begin" (the theme from Love Story) and for being the host of a 1960s TV variety show called The Andy Williams Show, finished his last note yesterday at age 84.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Les Daniels

Apparently American horror writer and comic book historian Les Daniels died last year as well. He passed away on November 5 at age 68.

His most famous book was the 1971 nonfiction book Comix: A History of Comic Books in America but I remember him most fondly for his 1978 horror novel The Black Castle, in which he created everyone's favorite Spanish vampire Don Sebastian de Villanueva. He went on to write four more novels about this character but I still consider The Black Castle to be the best one.

In any event, he will be missed and I am sorry that it took me so long to note his passing. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

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R.I.P. Joe Bageant

Oh, rats! I just found out last week that writer Joe Bageant, author of the former book of the week Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War, died last year on March 26 at age 64.

Naturally, he will be missed. I'm just a bit embarrassed that it took me so long to find out about it. He was a good writer and we can never have enough of those. Plus he was able to write from a point of righteous anger without giving one the impression that his work should be printed in an all caps format. If you haven't yet had the chance to read his work, please don't hesitate to do so.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "Mexican Americans"

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, it's Cheech and Chong with the one song I can't help thinking about this time of year -- perhaps because I actually have two white friends named Debbie.

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Quote of the Week

I can't remember a time I didn't know who I was; and I have heard much testimony from my friends and other more detached persons to the effect that I thought too highly of what I thought I was.

It seemed to me unlikely that out of six or seven million Mexicans in the United States I was the only one who felt this way.
--Ernesto Galarza, preface to Barrio Boy

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Random Thoughts

It's official. Summer is my favorite season and lemons are my favorite fruit.

You know it's been a hot summer in Texas when you start thinking of 81 degrees as "cool."

Twenty years later and "It's the economy, stupid" is still a valid political slogan.

Believe it or not, many Mexican-Americans born in this country don't really care that much about immigration but that does not mean that continually bashing Mexican illegals is the way to win our hearts. Nor is continually equating mojado culture with Chicano culture. Or for that matter, with Mexican-American culture.

Just once I would like to see Ann Coulter write a book that doesn't look like it should be printed in an all caps format.

Anyone else suspect that many of the same people bashing actor Clint Eastwood for his speech at the 2012 GOP convention were the same people arguing a few months ago that Eastwood should be nominated for president just because he did a really cool voiceover for a car commercial?

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Puttin' on the Ritz"

This is obviously not a Mitt Romney campaign video. And I doubt Barack Obama would approve of it either -- though I did find it ironic that the blackface sequences were censored by the same MTV which refused to play black music videos until David Bowie shamed them into it.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "Tale of the Shirt"

From the 1929 comedy The Cocoanuts, it's the Marx Brothers and company with their rendition of a famous tune from the opera Carmen. And boy do they rend it!

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Movie Quote of the Week

Okay, we're half-breeds. We should go forth and multiply. The day there's nothing but half-breeds, there'll be peace.
--Sara Forestier, Le Nom des Gens (2010)

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TV Quote of the Week

Now don't adjust your sets. You are seeing three Latinos on television.
--Herbert Siguenza, Culture Clash

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Poema de Mi Id: Parte IV

“Amour Noir”

My love for you
is a dark love.
A secret love.
A love that lives
in dark shadow
and hides from light,
dwells in darkness,
thrives in silence.
Someday I will
show you my love
and risk watching
it shrivel up
in the harsh light
of a bright day.
Until that time,
I'll keep it safe
within my heart,
hidden from all,
including me.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning?)

In honor of the heroes and victims of the 9/11 attack. May they never be forgotten.



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Friday, September 14, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "The Godfather Waltz"

Because this week just doesn't seem right for happy tunes.

Plus my late father liked this type of music even though he was not Italian.

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Yet Even More Spanish Words

1. aficionado -- fan.
2. agentes secretos -- secret agents.
3. amor libre -- free love.
4. animadora -- cheerleader.
5. balada -- slow song.
6. basura blanca -- white trash.
7. bronceado -- tanning.
8. calidad de vida -- quality of life.
9. cancioncilla -- little song.
10. canon occidental -- western canon.
11. canto de cisne -- swan song.
12. carne viva -- bare flesh.
13. cataratas -- waterfalls.
14. cazadora -- huntress.
15. chica de sus sueños -- girl of his dreams.
16. choque cultural -- culture shock; culture clash.
17. cine hablado -- talkies.
18. cine mudo -- silent movies.
19. cine negro -- film noir.
20. clase media -- middle class.
21. color natural -- the color nude.
22. combate cultural -- culture struggle; Kulturkampf.
23. conocimiento -- knowledge.
24. conservadores -- conservatives.
25. contracultura -- counterculture.
26. corista -- showgirl.
27. crisis de identidad -- identity crisis.
28. crisis de la mediana edad -- midlife crisis.
29. crisol -- crucible.
30. crisol de razas -- melting pot.
31. cuento de hada -- fairy tale.
32. dama oscura -- dark lady.
33. damisela en apuros -- damsel in distress.
34. desnudista -- stripper.
35. desnudo -- in the nude; nude painting.
36. disparates -- folly; nonsense.
37. diversidad cultural -- cultural diversity.
38. ducha -- shower.
39. el desnudo integral -- full-frontal nudity.
40. el mundo de cine -- the movie world.
41. elite cultural -- cultural elite.
42. espacio vital -- living space; Lebensraum.
43. escritor -- writer.
44. escritora -- female writer.
45. escritura -- writing.
46. esperanza de vida -- life expectancy.
47. estudios de desnudos -- nude studies.
48. furioso -- furious.
49. generaciones -- generations.
50. genio -- genius.
51. genio malvado -- evil genius.
52. Guerra de las Malvinas -- Falklands War.
53. hada -- fairy.
54. hada buena -- good fairy.
55. hada madrina -- fairy godmother.
56. hado -- fate.
57. Hispanos -- Hispanics.
58. hoja de parra -- fig leaf.
59. hombres necios -- foolish men.
60. horroroso -- horrific.
61. humanos -- humans.
62. iconos -- icons.
63. imagen -- image.
64. informe -- report.
65. intelectuales -- intellectuals.
66. la frontera -- the frontier.
67. la otra vida -- the hereafter.
68. Latinos -- Latins; Romans.
69. lengua muerta -- dead language; extinct language.
70. liberales -- liberals.
71. limpieza de sangre -- purity of blood.
72. loro muerto -- dead parrot.
73. matadragones -- dragonslayer.
74. mestiza -- female half-breed; woman of mixed race.
75. mestizaje -- miscegenation.
76. mestizo -- male half-breed; man of mixed race.
77. mezcla -- mashup.
78. minifalda -- miniskirt.
79. moda -- fashion.
80. modelo -- model.
81. modelo de desnudo -- nude model.
82. modelo de portada -- cover girl.
83. mujer fatal -- femme fatale.
84. mujeres -- women.
85. Noche Sombre -- Dark Night of the Soul.
86. noches de soledad -- lonely evenings.
87. normalidad -- normality.
88. noticias -- news.
89. nudismo -- nudism.
90. nudista -- nudist.
91. occidental -- Westerner.
92. ocio -- leisure.
93. oscuro -- dark.
94. pecados -- sins.
95. piel desnuda -- bare skin.
96. pintores -- painters.
97. playa nudista -- nude beach.
98. portadas de revistas -- magazine covers.
99. prejudicio -- prejudice.
100. proceso de datos -- data processing.
101. raza aria -- Aryan race.
102. raza superior -- master race.
103. realidad -- reality.
104. recuerdo -- souvenir.
105. risas -- laughs.
106. sabio -- sage; wise.
107. selva oscura -- dark wood; dark jungle.
108. señor oscuro -- dark lord.
109. serenata -- serenade.
110. simbolo sexual -- sex symbol.
111. sitio web -- web site.
112. soledad -- solitude.
113. solitario -- loner.
114. solo -- lonely.
115. tatuaje -- tattoo.
116. tonto de pueblo -- village idiot.
117. valle -- dale.
118. verano del amor -- summer of love.
119. videograbadora -- video recorder.
120. videojuego -- video game.
121. videoteca -- video library.
122. yanqui -- Yankee.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Movie Quote of the Week

One generation's tragedy is the next one's joke.
--David Arquette, Scream 4 (2011)

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TV Quote of the Week

Oh, I know a lot of things. I'm Maya.
--Suzanne Lloyd, The Twilight Zone, "Perchance to Dream"

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Laws

Barzini's Law: Nations, organizations, institutions, bodies, or single human beings are never as powerful, intelligent, far-seeing, efficient, and dangerous as they seem to their enemies.

Clarke's Three Laws:

(1.) When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

(2.) The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

(3.) Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Hansen's Law: What the son wishes to forget the grandson wishes to remember.

Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Occam's Razor: The law of parsimony, economy, or succinctness; a principle urging one to select from among competing hypotheses that which makes the fewest assumptions.

Poe's Law: Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing.

Sturgeon's Law: Ninety percent of everything is crap.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning?)

I was at home in Texas, fortunately. It was not until I received a mid-morning telephone call from my father that I realized something bad had happened that day.

My sympathies and condolences to all those who did not enjoy the same luxury on that fatal day.

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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Movie Quote of the Week

Where are your troubles now? Forgotten? I told you so. We have no troubles here. In here, life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful.
--Joel Grey, Cabaret (1972)

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TV Quote of the Week

Good thing I brought my axe-cane.
--Hugh Laurie, House M.D., "Bombshells"

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Spinach Cinema Revisited


This is scary. For years I had jeered at the 1980 Robert Altman movie Popeye for being such a bad movie. And yet when I watched a little bit of it the other night, I actually found myself liking it.

Granted, there was always a little bit of me that found it hard to hate the movie altogether. After all, when Robin Williams made this movie, he was just beginning his career as a movie actor which meant he not only put an effort into his performance but was actually quite pleasant to watch on screen. Plus he and Shelley Duvall had a chemistry that I readily took for granted at the time yet find myself missing all too often in many of today's movies. Paul L. Smith made for a convincing Bluto and of course, many of the movie's songs were not only quite good -- especially "I'm Mean," "He Needs Me" and "I Yam What I Yam" -- but hold up quite nicely compared to some of the tunes issuing from more recent movie musicals.

But when I was younger, I used to love to proclaim my dislike for that movie. Who needs a Popeye movie so obviously aimed at the type of people who hate Popeye? I thought. And indeed, the biggest black mark against Popeye back in the day was that it was so obviously not made for the type of people like me who had grown up watching the old Paramount and King Features Syndicate Popeye cartoons.

But that didn't mean it was bad. And though I remember waxing nostalgic for those old Popeye cartoons back in my twenties -- not so much the King Features Syndicate cartoons of the 1960s which were pretty primitive in their animation but the Paramount cartoons of the 1940s and 1950s which seemed a bit more sophisticated -- a more recent viewing of said cartoons convinced me that they don't hold up as well as I had thought they did. Indeed, few cartoons from my youth which were not made by Disney or Looney Tunes hold up as well as I would like -- and yet I never thought of myself as being particularly choosy when it came to cartoons.

However, tastes do change even when you don't want them to and the older you get, the more they change. I can't pretend I entirely hate the Popeye cartoons of old, but I also can't pretend that such cartoons are as emotionally satisfying as Robert Altman's film. Sure, bits of that movie are corny and scriptwriter Jules Feiffer seems an odd choice for a Popeye movie. Given the current political climate, I can't help but think it's funny that most of the gags revolving around the evilness of tax collectors would most likely face more criticism today from political southpaws than from cultural conservatives while said cultcons would be more curious as to why director Robert Altman chose to include a whorehouse in a so-called family movie -- especially one which starred his own grandson! And of course, most young Popeye fans would be curious as to why it took so long to get to the climatic battle between Popeye and Bluto -- and why Altman went to such an effort to make such a fight seem so anticlimatic.

Oh, well. Popeye might not have been the type of film I would have appreciated in my youth but now that I'm older, I appreciate it quite well. The romance between Popeye and Olive Oyl seems quite sweet compared to modern-day movie romances and though the movie is not always as funny as it could be, Altman's comparatively subtle approach to comedy seems more interesting to an older moviegoer like myself than a more conventional slapstick approach would have been. 'Tis a pity that it took me so long to realize this. I guessed I could have used more than a few helpings of spinach in my younger days as well.

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Games People Play"

In honor of the late Joe South, I post one of his most famous songs. This particular tune also won two Grammies, which proves that even the Grammy people get it right every now and then.

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R.I.P. Joe South

American singer/songwriter Joe South, most famous for such tunes as "Games People Play", came to the end of his last recording session yesterday at age 72.

He will be missed.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "Wishin' and Hopin'"

In honor of the late Hal David, a cover version by Ani DiFranco of one of his more famous songs. In case you don't recognize the origin of the clip, it's from the opening credits of the 1997 movie My Best Friend's Wedding. However, that is definitely not Cameron Diaz in the bridal outfit -- gracias a Dios.

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R.I.P. Hal David

American songwriter Hal David, former songwriting partner of Burt Bacharach who co-wrote such famous tunes as "Raindrops Are Falling on My Head" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose", finished his last composition this past Saturday at age 91.

He will be missed.

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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Copperhead Road"

And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do...

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Quote of the Week

Strong people do not go around apologizing for their roots.
--Manuel C. Gonzales, Mexicanos: A History of Mexicans in The United States

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