Tuesday, October 31, 2006

La Doge Vita

Um kai. We took 400 photos in Venice and we know that our faithful readers are dying to see them. But it's going to take time, faithful readers. Until then, this is an electronic shout out to La Doge who we know is reading right now. And to all the rest of you faithful readers, why won't you leave comments? Come on. Do it. You know you want to.

In the meantime, please enjoy a photo of amagomundi on the vaporetto out of Venice.

And enjoy another photo, this time of authentic European budget air travel in action. My Air apparently holds significant parts of their planes together with duct tape. It is perhaps no wonder, given the duct tape that keeps important parts of the cabin together, that the entire flying public applauded when we landed in Madrid.

A and La Doge on the Grand Canal. Let us assure you that a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stay the Course, Madrid Style

“My guess is that you might find that in no case will you find a specific date” for assuming a particular task, he said. But, he added, “You might find a month, or you might find a spread of two or three months, a period where they think they might be able to do it.”

Amagomundi, in discussing at a news conference on Oct. 11 the meaning of the phrase “stay the course,” refused to be pinned down.

“Stay the course means keep doing what you’re doing,” said Amagomundi. “Our attitude is, don’t do what you’re doing if it’s not working; change.”

Amagomundi added: “Stay the course also means don’t leave before the job is done. And that’s — we’re going to get the job done in Madrid. And it’s important that we do get the job done in Madrid.”

Sunday, October 22, 2006

One Week Anniversary

Today we are celebrating the one week anniversary of last Monday, when we went to the Círculo de Bellas Artes to see famous Spanish author Juan José Millás present his latest novel, Laura y Julio. The presentation was presided over by the author, a professor of Spanish literature named José-Carlos Mainer, and the Argentine-Spanish supermodel Martina Klein. No wonder there were so many photographers there. And we were thinking that in Spain novelists are treated like rock stars. We had to go home and type "Martina Klein" into the old google search engine to figure out that she was a supermodel. But that still doesn't answer why she was there. To be honest, she really didn't add much to the conversation. But Millás seemed to listen to her very attentively, while Mainer was, well, the odd man out.

The really interesting part of the evening happened about ten minutes into the presentation. A hush spread across the room, and everyone started to titter as the one and only Pedro Almodóvar sneaked in and found a chair in the fifth row, guided by his personal assistant. Then he sneaked out about fifteen minutes before the end of the presentation. He was too far away for the amagomundi photographers to get a shot at him, but it was a cool moment. Later, while we were having a beer and some ham, we saw famous Spanish historian Julian Casanova, author of La iglesia de Franco, walk by. Madrid can sometimes feel like a small town.

So, anyway, S is still reading his copy of Laura y Julio by famous Spanish author Juan José Millás and wondering whether or not he should be marking up the pages since the book now has the author's autograph. But then he thinks that it probably doesn't matter since he won't be selling the novel on ebay or anything. It's not like it's worth more than the 17.50 euros that he paid for it at the Casa del Libro. We guess that the signature just adds sentimental value.

One view of Gran Vía from the fourth floor of the Círculo de Bellas Artes.

And another view from the same floor, with advertisement for palindromic Spanish dancer Sara Baras.

For those intrepid readers who have made it all the way down to this portion of our fine blog entry, we thought that you might like to know about another book that came out last week. If you like the fiction of famous Spanish author Juan José Millás, you might be interested in pre-ordering a copy of True Lies, by famous Spanish literary critic Samuel Amago. He has a really great chapter on Juan José Millás. You can order True Lies on amazon.com: Boom. We have it from a pretty good source that you will probably qualify for free shipping.

Or better yet, you can contact Bucknell University Press directly and order a copy from them: Boo-ya. The book is so new that it hasn't actually appeared on their website yet, but we are certain that you can order your copies without any problem. Indeed, you can be the first on your block to add this handsome edition to your library.

And in anticipation of the inevitable question: No. True Lies makes no mention of the eponymous 1994 film starring Arnold Strong. But you can really help the author out by buying a copy. Or maybe you'd like to buy two? That way you can keep one copy at work and another at home so that the kids on the bus won't make fun of you for reading literary criticism.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Update on Richfield, Utah

Our readers in Madrid have been requesting an update on the current threat level in the foothills and plains of central Utah.

This mountain just outside of Richfield was determined to be out of harm's way. In May 2006, the state of Utah learned that it would receive 8.27 million dollars in Federal Heartland Security Grants, but we were unable to determine how much of this money would be spent to keep Richfield free from dread.

Bustling downtown Marysvale was also determined to be safe. For now.

Please note that these photos were taken in July 2006 and therefore may not represent recent changes in threat levels for sleepy Utah towns.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Parque de las Naciones

On Thursday we visited our friends Dani and Yoli and Marco. We took a walk to the Parque El Capricho. Apparently, Goya used to go there and paint pictures. This is Goya's well known "Self Portrait with my Son:"

Just kidding. That's actually Goya's well known painting of Saturn devouring his son.

Here we have A, Dani and Yoli and little Marco in front of the Parque El Capricho. Notice how A has insinuated herself into the family unit. Dani and Yoli had better be careful.

This is about as far as we got because the park was closed. So we took another walk to another park. This one is called the Parque de las Naciones. It's not as nice as El Capricho, but it was a really nice day, with no lake effect snow or unseasonable blizzards. We had a nice time.

I think this is going to be this year's Christmas card. We take nice photos here at amagomundi. Some of the best.

Unfortunately, no one is allowed to practice piraguismo without shoes at the Parque de las Naciones, so we had to go home. But not before Dani and Yoli fed us some fine Spanish ham and Manchego cheese.

You know, we have been eating so much ham and chorizo that we are starting to experience profound changes in our bodies. Here is a picture of S just before bed: Boom. That's what happens when you eat too many pig products. Freddy had better be careful.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Francisco Marco and the Bull

These images were repeated at least three times on all the Spanish news programs on October 6th. Francisco Marco the matador and the bull that nailed him in the femoral artery and flung him about like a rag doll. Then the bull stomped his limp body while his crew tried to lure it away. One of his banderilleros was pulling ineffectually at the bull's tail, while others waved their capotes in front of the its face.

It is amazing how quickly and easily a human body can become a piece of lifeless meat. And you can see this transformation in its various stages on any given day on the national news. The Spanish media are apparently unafraid to show reality all reeking and raw. Whether it is the tragic end of a bullfight or an average day in Iraq, you can see what really happened on the news.

It's hard sometimes to eat chorizo when you see people bleeding on the TV. But we manage, just like all of our European neighbors. We eat our chorizo and sip our wine and watch the reality happening on the TV.

Ignacio de Zuluaga's Toreros de pueblo.

The latest on Francisco Marco is that he is recuperating in intensive care. Interestingly enough, though, a week later we can't find any recent updates on him. He was all over the news last week and now no one seems to remember that he was gored.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

News You Won't Get in the US

China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States are the countries in which the majority of the world's executions take place. Today's El pais reports that 2,148 executions were registered last year in 22 countries. 94% of those executions were produced in only four countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. These statistics are reported by Amnesty International in celebration (if you can celebrate anything like this) of the World Day against the Death Penalty.

China registered 1,170 executions (although according to Chinese experts there are probably more like 8 or 10,000 people executed every year); Iran 94; Saudi Arabia 86. And the US celebrated its freedom to exercise the death penalty on 60 folks in 2005.

Saudi Arabia, Iran, China and the US. Nice.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fish Whimsy

Yes, that's an enormous fish head that has been propped up to make it look alive. And, yes, those are shrimp placed in the fish's mouth to look like they are being eaten. Now notice the garnish. The vigor in the fish's eyes. Notice the smaller, cuter fish being crushed by the splendid awesomeness of the big fish. And now you might notice how hungry you are and how much you want to eat those fishes. Yes, this amazing culinary advertising ploy has worked. We are going in. And we are going to eat some gambas. Just like the big fish did.

I can't eat any more pronto pups.

All of these fine photos were taken with the implicit permission of the Cruz Blanca bar. Señor Penguin is their mascot.

He's a whimsical fellow indeed.

A Good Date in Madrid

The Cine Doré is a good place to go see a movie with your lady. You can buy a pass for 10 films for 20 euros and then go see classic films every day of the week except Monday. It's almost always a good vibe, except when you have a couple of octogenarian fascists in the crowd. But that only happens sometimes.

The main screening room has been lovingly restored to its old glory. The seats are comfy.

Even the ceiling is beautiful.

This is the front door to the theater. As you can see, there is no smoking allowed there anymore. Which makes the cafe inside a very nice place to have a café con leche with your lady before the movie.

You can also opt for a caña and a piece of empanada. Oh yeah. Go ahead and do it. You won't fall asleep during the movie. We promise.

On Tuesday we saw Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Der schatz (1923), which has been restored by the National Film Archive in Prague. The movie was accompanied by live piano. Werner Krauss played a convincing Svetelenz, and we were surprised by the eerie resemblance he shares with our friend Tom. Granted, Werner Krauss appears much older, and Tom usually doesn't dress up like a ballerina (as far as we know he only did it that once for Halloween 2004). Anyway, we thought there was a slight resemblance that was worth mentioning here. [Personal Note to Tom: if you want us to take the picture down, we will.] All you cinema buffs out there probably remember Mr. Krauss in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. We thought he was much better in Der schatz, but then again, we are suckers for moral fables about hidden Turkish treasures and the redeeming power of love over avarice and greed. But that's just the way we like to do it here at amagomundi.

And after the movie you can walk down the Pasaje Doré and look at the market vendors that line the street. Maybe you'd like to buy some peanuts? Go ahead and do it. You may as well because we never do. Boom.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Franco's Legacy

The Cine Doré is projecting a series of documentary films under the title “Imágenes contra el olvido” [Images against Amnesia], which are all dedicated to the recuperation of repressed memories of the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing forty year Franco dictatorship. Last night we went to see a film called, “Presos del silencio,” which is about the construction of the canal on the lower Guadalquivir river near Sevilla, now known officially as the “Canal de los Presos” [Prisoners’ Canal] because it was constructed entirely by 10,000 Spanish political prisoners. It was one of the biggest public works projects undertaken during the dictatorship. Many of Franco’s public works projects were completed by political prisoners who were often given the opportunity to do forced labor in exchange for the commutation of their sentences. Franco’s regime took advantage of this kind of free labor wherever it could, and in the official newsreels these projects were described as opportunities for the “reds” to reconstruct the Spain that they had destroyed. The fact that Franco and the military (with the explicit blessings of the catholic church) had in fact rebelled against the Republic that had been democratically elected by the Spanish people never made it into any official account of the civil war. Instead, Franco carefully depicted his historical role as a paternal figure who saved Spain from the communists and thus restored its imperial grandeur. The Valle de los Caídos [Valley of the Fallen], a fascist monument devoted to “all those who have fallen for Spain” (except, of course, those who died for the republican cause), offers a graphic representation of how Franco saw himself. While tens of thousands of prisoners of war were executed and dumped into mass graves, Franco is now buried in a massive mausoleum that was built underneath an enormous cross. The entire monument was built by Spanish political prisoners.

During the forty years of Franco’s dictatorship all competing accounts of Spanish history were suppressed through the imposition of state sponsored censorship. It is only during the last ten years or so that documentary filmmakers have begun to make films about the experiences of the losing side of the Spanish civil war. A lot of these films are being shown this month at the Cine Doré.

Something interesting happened while we were watching last night’s documentary. There was an older couple in the audience who were clearly in favor of Franco’s version of events, and consequently dedicated themselves to making disparaging comments throughout the film. Sort of like Mystery Science Theater 3000, only for retrograde octogenarian right-wing fascists. The 15 or so people that were in the audience kept shushing them and asking them to please keep it to themselves, because every time someone on screen would say something about how hard it was to either work under slave-like conditions in the construction of the Guadalquivir canal system, or to live in a pueblo among the very same neighbors who informed on your husband and insulted your children because they were the offspring of “rojos,” this terrible couple would make loud snide comments to each other. An usher was forced to come in and sit in their row to discourage them from talking back to the screen. So for the last half hour, this lady was content to just sigh loudly whenever she didn’t agree with something in the film. And when Franco would appear on screen, or if there was a clip showing the political prisoners kneeling in front of their captors, or if a a fascist procession appeared, the old man would say things like, “Eso!” (which is essentially a way to say, “That’s what I’m talking about!”) It's amazing how horrible these nostalgic Francoists are, and how these deep divisions in Spanish society have continued to exist for 70 years and more. What we couldn’t understand is why these people don’t just stay home and watch the old newsreels. After all, Franco and his regime got to tell the “official” history for 40 years. Let’s at least have some variety.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cocido Madrileño

We had an authentic cocido on Wednesday, prepared by my aunt Loli. Cocido is one of the most traditional of Spanish dishes. It is comprised of three main ingredients: the caldo (broth), which is eaten first, garbanzo beans, which are cooked in the broth along with the other main ingredient: meat. There are usually three kinds of meat in the cocido: salt pork (a big chunk of bacon and a big chunk of cured Spanish ham), sausages (chorizo and morcilla), and some kind of fresh meat. These fine meats are poached in the broth and can be eaten after the garbanzo bean portion of the eating experience. Or, if you are like me, you will eat your meat together with your garbanzos after the caldo. My cousins eat everything all mixed together. It's up to you.

For extra seasoning, there are some vegetables cooked into the broth, too. Like leeks and carrots and potatoes. Spices are minimal. Pepper, bay leaves, maybe a little garlic. That's about it.

We were so hungry that we ate all the cocido before we thought of taking a picture. So we have had to steal this image from the internet. My aunt's cocido looked better, and she didn't put any chicken wings in hers.

While we were looking for images of cocido to steal for this blog, we stumbled upon an excellent blog all about Madrid. Makes our little blog look like a piece of poo. Here it is: Boom. De Madrid al cielo.