Truly a lot better than your worst thoughts.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Quality Time...

Just spent all my afternoon watching Hitchcock's movies (To Catch a Thief, Rear Window and Rebecca) and eating GOTA* sandwiches... Simple recipe for a truly good day.

* GOTA: Garlic, Onion, Tomato & Anchovies
(Mrs. G says I ain't getting no kisses for a couple of days at least!!!... Do you think she doesn't love me anymore???!!!)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Some things are just like that...

Isn't it incredible how good YOU LOOK when you look at MY blog!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

To bee or not to bee...

Otra historia de abejas... (y un título de post horrible, a propósito)
Another curious bee tale... (and a horrible post title, by the way)

La banda sonora de hoy es Blind Melon. Y esto se debe a un motivo sencillo, pero sugerente.

En mi post anterior,
Kiwi Merlina me dejó un comentario diciendo que esperaba a que, con la imagen del post, estuviera escuchando a los Blind Melon… Y yo, en aquel momento, no entendí muy bien por qué... La verdad es que todo lo que alguna vez tuve en mis manos de los Blind Melon fue grabado o adquirido de forma “dudosa”, así que la carátula del disco que encabeza este texto hacia ya a?os que había desaparecido de mi cabeza (si es que alguna vez estuvo en ella). Hasta aquí, sin embargo, nada nuevo…

Lo interesante vino al día después. En mis comentarios le había preguntado a Kiwi Merlina por la razón de sus palabras, pero creo que ella no volvió a pasar por mi blog aquel día, porque no obtuve respuesta... Sin embargo, el destino se encargaría de darme la respuesta… Exactamente un día después del comentario, estaba dando vueltas por las tiendas de discos de Barcelona y en eso que me meto en un conocido local de discos viejos y lo primero que veo (entre miles de cd’s!!!) es a la extra?a abejita de este primer disco de los Blind Melon…

Para mí, no sé si para ustedes, me pareció una coincidencia increíble. Yo, personalmente, siempre siento que hay cosas en mi vida diaria que me recuerdan a ustedes o algunas de las cosas que han escrito. Pero creo que esta vez la cosa fue más allá…

Hasta hace un par de días, los Blind Melon eran poco más que un recuerdo. Ahora, seguro que, gracias a Kiwi Merlina, nunca más me olvido de ellos.

Por supuesto, esta vez, si que compre el disco.

Today’s soundtrack is Blind Melon. And this is due to a simple, but suggestive reason.

In my previous post,
Kiwi Merlina left me a comment saying that she expected that, due to the pic of the post, I’d be listening to Blind Melon… and I, at that moment, didn’t really understand why... Truth is that any Blind Melon’s music I ever had in my hands was not “legally” acquired or recorded, so it had been a long time since the CD cover you see above had disappeared from my mind (if it was ever there, to begin with)… Up to this, however, there is nothing new…

The interesting part came a day after. In my comments, I had asked Kiwi Merlina for the reason of her words, but it seems she didn’t visit me again that day, because the doubt remained unanswered... But destiny, however, would grant me the answer… Exactly one day after the comment, I was browsing through Barcelona’s music stores when I happened to walk into a very popular old recordings store and the first thing I see (among thousand of CD’s!!!) is the strange little bee of this first work of Blind Melon…

To me, I’m not sure if to you, it looked like an incredible coincidence. I personally feel that there are always things in real life that remind me of you or what the things you write. But this time, I think things went a bit beyond…

A couple of days ago, Blind Melon was sort of like a distant memory. Now, thanks to Kiwi Merlina, I’m sure I’ll never forget them again.

This time, of course, I did buy the record.

(BTW, Kiwi Merlina is a wonderful writer who you better read now that she's blogging, 'cause I'm sure one day she'll be publishing and you'll have to pay to read her words... So now, go practice your Spanish and check out her blog afterwards... If you feel just like dropping and saying hello, you can always say "HOLA"!...)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The bee charmer...

Image hosted by
We were enjoying a coffee on a terrace of the Kazimierz District, Krakow’s Old Jewish Quarter, when a young little girl –ten years old or so- suddenly appeared in front of our table and muttered a few words in Polish:

“Lo siento, no entiendo polaco” – I said, unconsciously, in Spanish, not meaning to be rude.
“Do you speak English?” - She inquired again, very politely and very sure of herself.
“Yes, I do… Why?” – I replied, curious.
“I wanted to show you my pictures and see if you want to buy one. I draw them myself” – She answered in basic, but fluid English, without the slightest hint of hesitation.
“Ok, let us see…” – I told her, still surprised by her language skill, and she took a bunch of postcard size pictures from her pocket and laid them on the table.

Mrs G. and I started looking through them. And it was true; they were handmade with colour pencils. A whole zoo of zebras, hippos, giraffes, elephants, ladybugs, dogs, etc, etc…

We had a great time browsing through them. They were very child-like, but indeed beautiful. In love with the artist hand and, just as important, her determination, we finally selected a piece: the happy looking bee you see above.

“How much for this one?” – I asked.
“Oh… whatever you want” – She replied calmly and not the least eager or imposing.

I searched through my pockets and gave her 10 szlotys for the cute bee. She grabbed the coin, then picked the rest of her pictures, thanked us delicately and left for another café.

Once she was gone, Mrs G and I couldn’t help commenting with excitement about the “little artist”. She was no beggar or anything like that – in fact, she dressed very clean and looked like the kind of child you would think is all A’s at school-. Since our first day in Krakow, we had been talking about how we felt Poland was such a beautiful country, but you couldn’t help feeling moved all the time, just by evoking that not that long ago, in those wonderful cities, little towns or landscapes, there was probably not a single place where someone had not been running or hiding to save his/her life.

The Kazimierz District, as all European Jewish ghettos during World War II, was one of those places where horror struck in its most sinister forms.

The view of the “little artist”, in that same old Jewish neighbourhood, today, helped us to remember –and most important feel-, how the beauty of life can always shine again.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Today I'll be serious...

Today is Election Day in Chile. President’s election, to be more specific…

If citizens so decide, tomorrow Chile will have the first woman President of its history as a country: Michelle Bachelet (who, in case of being elected, will also be one the scarce female leaders running a country (4%) on the global scene, we might add).

If the case is the contrary, Chile will now be in the hands of a multimillionaire business man that the media has baptized as “The Chilean Berlusconi”: Sebastian Pinera (the owner of Chilean main airlines company, a nationwide television channel and the holder of other important and various investments).

While Bachelet represents the “center-left” wing coalition governing the country in this moment, Pinera is the “center-right” wing candidate aiming to kick the coalition out of the government, after a decade and a half of being in power. And the victory of any of the two would be somehow significant:

- Bachelet’s for the obvious “female” factor detailed above.
- Pinera’s because he would become the first “right-wing” President to be elected since Chile’s return to democracy in 1988, when Pinochet’s regime was rejected by the masses in a plebiscite (a process, however, in which Pinera stood against the old dictator)

Truly, within the limits one can grant politicians, they are both valuable candidates. And, thus, it’s no surprise than polls prediction gives them a current 5% average difference (though it must be considered than Bachelet reached 46% all by herself, against 26% of Pinera´s, on a first round, of a election a month ago, with the presence of two other candidates).

Despite what biased supporters might say, Bachelet’s is not the “hard line red leftie” that conservatives claim she is hiding behind her smiles, nor Pinera is the “Berlusconi” his opponents try to portray (Chilean political, legal and finance controlling systems are by far more organized and less corrupted than Italy’s – and quite a few others “leading” developed democracies, as well).

The buoyant economy and political stability, most chileans’ top priorities, will remain the same, no matter who wins. Used to a standard of living continuously improving in the past two decades, Chile’s biggest challenge, in this moment, reside on a “much to be improved” distribution of richness and the implementation of a truly wide and effective social coverage system (both in terms of pensions and health related issues).

If I were in Chile, I would back up Bachelet’s candidature because I believe her election would benefit dealing with the most urgent needs of the country. I also consider here that in the case she got elected, it would also be the first time than both the Congress and the Presidency would be in control of the same coalition since the return to democracy and that would greatly benefit the impulse of long awaited social reforms.

On a more personal ground, I like her profile. On a country with a strong conservative tradition (which covers the whole spectrum from right-wing to left-wing individuals), the idea of a successful divorced woman, with three sons of two different marriages, appeals to me for all it represents against the oppressive conventionalism of Chilean society. And somehow feel that this is the first time Chile has got the chance to change (for the better) its view on a lot of things.

Let’s say, on this occasion, I think Bachelet is a much better bet than Pinera. And I think I know what I’m talking about...

After all I backed Pinera for a Senator seat, over a decade ago.

Why do I post all this???
Well, it doesn’t hurt that you know about it, does it???

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Friday the 13th: A tribute to Jason Voorhees...

I planned on writing a long, cerebral post to commemorate this flick, but I’ve got no time, so I’ll have to make it short:

Summing it up:
- I was not even 10 when the first part of Friday the 13th was shot.
- And I got a pretty good scare with it.
- But the funny part is that I didn’t even get to see the film (at least until a couple of years later, on its video version).
- The first time, I was told the story by one of my mom’s cousins who saw the film and enjoyed scaring the shit out of little children (he was a damn good narrator).
- Reason why I couldn’t see the film on a movie theatre was that, back in those days in Chile (and I’m not sure if still now) you had to be over 18 to see horror movies with explicit violence and nudity.
- Thing is that I really just caught up with Jason teenage-killing hobbies when I went to live to the US, a bit after the mid-eighties. And I loved it. Especially on Halloween re-run specials, when I spent all the night watching the guy at work and, at the same, devouring endless packages of Doritos. (There was this weird synchronicity between guys getting killed on the screen and the number of tortilla bags I ate, I think…)
- What can I say on my defense?… not much, I guess.
- I could argue that I like eating raw meat or admiring metal things like knives - or even keys and bottle caps openers-… but I think that just doesn’t help much in clearing my case.

Now, where is the cerebral part of this whole post, which I planned to talk about, in a longer post I couldn’t write, anyway…

Here it is:
- This post is against oppression.
- And freedom of communication (???) : P
- I should have been able to see this flick, at the movies, as soon as it came out.
- And thus I would have been able to internalize its violence in an appropriate manner.
- And I would have not turned into the sardine cans openers collecting psycho I am nowadays (*sob*)
- I blame it on the system!

Of course, nowadays, Friday the 13th is not even grosser that a lot of animated cartoons we see on TV daily… But, that’s another story… And this is a different era… And I like a lot of these cartoons too, so I’ll better keep my mouth shut…

Now that I think of, I’m posting this on Saturday the 14th (which doesn’t scare the shit even out of little babies), so, who knows, maybe I shouldn’t even have posted this…

Have a bloody good weekend, mates!!!

Friday, January 13, 2006


Monday, January 09, 2006

A CRR Update...

Image hosted by A week after being introduced in the country, the new smoking regulation has begun to affect Spanish society.

Forced now by law to decide whether their places would remain smoking or non-smoking, small bar owners have reached a decisive conclusion:
Almost 90% percent of them will allow smoking in their properties.

Reports say this is leading to some very peculiar situations:
(reconstructed conversation)

Non-smoker: Err, excuse me, would you mind moving your cigarette?
Smoker: What???
Non-smoker: I was just wondering if you could…
Smoker: This bar allows smoking, my friend!!
Non-smoker: Err… yes… I know, but I was just…
Smoker: It says so, right there on the sign!!
Non-smoker: Yes, I see, but…
Smoker: You want me to go against the law???
Non-smoker: No… That’s not what I meant… I…
Smoker: You were the guys who wanted a new smoking law, right?
Non-smoker: Yes… Hell, no! You are…
Smoker: If you want some fresh air, go grab some!
Non-smoker: err…
Smoker: You want me to call the cops…

Small groups of non-smokers have also been witnessed to step out of bars to catch a breeze of smokeless air.

Other fonts even speak of long time non-smoking people going back to smoke… To keep up their social life.

From Barcelona,
A Penguin with a Bow Tie, for CRR news.

(CRR is a registered trademark of The Chronicles of the Radical Reality; this text does not necessarily represents the editor’s point of view)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Of life and changes...

If you like reading international news or checking CNN’s curious World updates, there is a very good chance you know by now that a new Smoking Law was introduced in Spain on January 1st. The most restrictive smoking legislation ever approved in this country (following the trend of places like Ireland and Italy), the issue has raised quite a public debate, not because of the measure itself, but mainly because of how well will Spanish society really adapt to the variation of one of its most traditional habits.

As you all know (I think, if not check up there on my profile), I live in Barcelona, Spain. More precisely, in El Raval. Quite a colorful neighborhood, in the heart of the Old Quarter, with an important share of immigrants. Among those, Pakistanis.

Before the new law, you could get tobacco almost anywhere. Now, it is absolutely forbidden to sell it in any place that is not a tobacco shop or an authorized machine in bars/restaurants which decide to allow smoking (if less than 100 square meters, it is up to the owner to decide whether the place is going to be smoking or non smoking).

Personally, as a smoker (even if a very light one), I just love what the sale prohibition and Pakistanis combined is bringing to my neighborhood. A new flavor, very much in the style of an old spy’s movie.

Pakistanis are really hard working people who come here, usually set up a small personal business of their own and then work as much as they can so that, one day, they are able to bring the rest of their family into the country or just move back with better possibilities. Lots of them open small food stores or mini-markets. And I’ve always loved their shops because I’ve got over a dozen close to my flat and, should I need anything, it seems as if they were eternally open. Of course, they also used to sell tobacco. And they made an important profit out of it. But now the law forbids them to do so…

So this is what has been happening, since January 1st, when I go… err… let’s say for “sugar” to my usual Pakistani shop:

Store keeper: Hello Amigo!!
MrG: How are you?...

(strange looks exchange, between us and around)

MrG: Well…?.
Store keeper: ummn…

Then the guy in front of me moves a hand quickly and leaves “sugar” for me, hidden behind some candies, on the corner of the counter...
Then I move my hands quickly and put “sugar” on my pocket, casually and “unconsciously” dropping a few coins, right behind some candies’ boxes, on the corner of the counter…

Funny, but when I get home, the “sugar” tastes just like my old Lucky Lights.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Introducing... 2006!!!!!

Hola, hola, hola!!! (*trumpets*) Ok, lucky readers. Here you have my first post of 2006. I just got back from Toulouse yesterday night and, yes, I did have a good time (as you all did too, right?). Good thing about going to France is that I get to practice my basic French and drink lots of good wine. And the more wine I drink, the more I practice the language, and finally everything falls into some sort of vicious circle in which I do enjoy myself a lot, but probably give a lot of headaches to the poor native French trying to understand what I say… I remind everyone here that my French is very basic and that, being Spanish also a language derived from Latin, I do tend to make a up a lot of words which might mean nothing in themselves, but which I disguise with a poor imitation of a French accent and just go on with my life, while people keep darting me with these menacing looks of “bien, mon amie, vous etes plus agréable avec la bouche a fermé” (“well, my friend, you look nicer with your mouth shut”)...

Anyways, things worked out just fine. No messy confusions or anything like that. Only inconveniences showed up when trying to decide our lunch on a Chinese Restaurant on January 1st (yep, guys, French dudes owning restaurants were probably recovering from New Years’ Night, so only “ethnic” food was available on the streets that day, at least at lunchtime)… Why the problems? Well, just picture yourselves trying to understand a menu written in French… Got that? Cool… Now picture yourselves trying to understand a menu written in French of Chinese cuisine!!! When we understood the French part, we didn’t understand the Chinese one. And when we got the Chinese part down (you know, international things like low-mein and that), we got completely lost with the French part… Luckily they did have numbers on the side of the dishes list, so we made a random combination of odd and even numbers and ended up having a pretty good meal…

As for New Years’ Night celebration in itself, well I have to say that I was very impressed by the festive spirit of Toulousians. After all, the night was mighty cold and a bit rainy, but people just didn’t give a shit about the ugly weather and they kept strolling down the boulevards and intricate alleys of Toulouse’s Old Town, throughout the whole night, making the city extremely friendly and welcoming for any foreign visitors without any previous plans… (I don’t know what is it with Mediterranean people that they gotta keep moving while celebrating something)… “Bonne Année” shouts were heard on every corner and smiles where all around… When the clock reached twelve on December 31st, we were having dinner on a cute little restaurant (nothing fancy, but good and tasty)… On the first minute of the year everyone stood up and started sharing kisses and best wishes. We got kissed on both cheeks by everyone in the place and amused them back a bit with a few happy sentences in Spanish. Later that night, we did what most Toulousians seemed to be doing in the streets… That is, kept moving from bar to bar… A few hours later we were… (how can I say this), well… a happy couple, slightly drunk… But it was all for anthropological reasons… I swear!!!. ;)