Friday, March 30, 2007

More on Tatooine

Click here to find out what really happened on Tatooine: Boom.

You don't even need to know any of the Spanish. Or much of the English, either.

Early Morning Flight

On Thursday we went out to Majadahonda for our last meal with Barbara and Sindo before their trip back to Pasadena. We took them a big duffle bag full of winter clothes, since there is no way we are going to be able to transport all of our stuff by ourselves when we leave at the end of April. We are going to start mailing boxes of books back pretty soon.

So, before lunch we all went to the Vinoteca on Gran Vía for an aperitivo. S had a class of Toro and Barby had a glass of Rioja. A had a glass of orange juice and Sindo had a beer. For lunch, our aunt Loli had made us a terrific cocido (see our blog of October 1, 2006 for more on the cocido). It was so good and so pure that we were all still full at bedtime. (But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have dinner. Oh, no. There is still far too much to eat and far too little time to do it. The jawa knows.)

We hung out in Majadahonda until 8:30 or so, then Barbara and Sindo walked us to the bus stop where we said goodbye. On the way we stopped at the pharmacy to purchase a sterile cup for our urine sample. It was quite a bargain at 50 euro cents.

By our calculation, right about now Barbara and Sindo are watching a movie somewhere over Iceland, enjoying a chorizo sandwich and maybe a little wine. We miss them.

Nos Gusta Tatooine

El doble crepúsculo que Anakin y Luke Skywalker admiran en Star Wars puede no ser una simple fantasía. Astrónomos de la Agencia Espacial de Estados Unidos (NASA) han encontrado, gracias al telescopio espacial Spitzer, evidencias de que esta escena, ambientada en al árido planeta Tatooine, hogar de los protagonistas de la saga cinematográfica de George Lucas, puede ser bastante común en el Universo.

Por si no lo sabías, Tatooine es un planeta fundamental del universo de La Guerra de las Galaxias, según cuenta la Wikipedia. Su nombre proviene de la región tunecina Tataouine, donde se rodaron muchas escenas -las construcciones de su capital, Bestine, existen y son casas trogloditas-. Aparece en los episodios I, II, III, IV y VI. Es un planeta completamente desértico a causa de sus dos soles Tatto I y Tatto II y, entre su fauna, destacan anthas, rontos, eopies, dewbacks, dragones Krayt y Massiffs. Los nativos son los Jawas, una diminuta raza de alienígenas que se cubre completamente el cuerpo con túnicas marrones para protegerse del calor. Otra especie son los agresivos Tusken Raiders o moradores de las arenas. No tiene un gobierno establecido, por lo que es un auténtico paraiso de bandidos, traficantes y caza recompensas. Su principal atracción son las carreras de vainas, una de las cuáles ganó por primera vez un humano, el pequeño Anakin Skywalker. Él logró a cambio su libertad, pero en el planeta se quedó su madre Shmi Skywalker, que años después contrajo matrimonio con Cliegg Lars. Anakin regresó a Tatooine al conocer la noticia de la muerte de su madre. El planeta estuvo al margen de la Antigua República durante centurias, pero cuando se estableció el Imperio galáctico cayó bajo su yugo.

Una vez que Anakin se pasa al Lado Oscuro, Obi-Wan Kenobi deja a Luke Skywalker al cuidado de sus tíos, cuando era un bebé. Allí fue donde Han Solo y Luke Skywalker se conocieron.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The King, Part Two

Gabriel García Márquez after his fight with the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa in 1976, taken by the Mexican photographer Rodrigo Moya a few days after the incident. One of the great literary feuds of all time. It's not clear whether García Márquez and Vargas Llosa have made peace. But Vargas Llosa did allow an old essay of his praising his ex-friend's novel Cien años de soledad (which he had written before their fisticuffs) to be published as an introduction to the special 40th anniversary edition that we mentioned in our blog of March 27, 2007.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bonifacio Part Two, And Another Day in Madrid

Today we slept in. Then we did some work before meeting Parental Unit Number 2 and Aunt Loli and Uncle Pepe at El Ñeru for lunch. A and B had fabada asturiana and S had fabes con almejas. Sindo, Loli and Pepe had some delicious merluza (file under hake). We recommend having the fabes con almejas as your first dish, followed by merluza a la romana.

Here is a recipe for fabes con almejas from the Asturian-American Migration Forum: Boom. I'm wondering if Sindo knows about this organization, because he is Asturian-American, too. He checked that box on his census form in 2005.

After lunch, we helped Sindo find small carved sheep for his Nativity set at the local Catholic gear shop on calle Bordadores. Then we kept walking down the street to check out the other half of the exhibition, “The Mirror and the Mask: Portraiture in the Age of Picasso," which is housed at the Fundación Caja Madrid, located in the Plaza de San Martín. This part of the show is free.

We looked at Lucien Freud's "Girl with a White Dog," from 1950-1951, below.

And one of our particular favorites was Lucien Freud's "The Painter Surprised by a Nude Admirer," from 2004-2005, below.

This kind of scenario sometimes happens in our studio in Madrid. But this is a family blog, so we'll have to leave it there.

During Michela and Brent's visit the week before last, we found this great cooking shop called Alambique, S.A. We wanted to show it to Barbara and Sindo and Loli, so we walked over to calle de la Encarnación. We bought some Spanish glass jars (for future spice storage) and looked in on a cooking class that was happening there.

After that, we walked up Gran Via and stopped in at the Casa del Libro to look for the Lazarillo de Tormes for Sindo to read on the flight back to LA on Friday.

Now we are at home again, watching a bit of news coverage on the much commented interview aired on TVE1 last night, in which José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero supposed that the average cost of a coffee is 80 euro cents (few people agree that coffee is that cheap, although a lot of cafeterías lowered their prices today after all the buzz created by the show). TVE1's program was called, "Tengo una pregunta para usted," and President Zapatero opened himself up to questions from average Spaniards about politics, the economy, and life in Spain for the average Spaniard.

On another channel, the Spanish national soccer team is playing Iceland in a qualifying match for Eurocopa 2007. Ho hum. March madness indeed.

And to conclude, another Bonifacio for our readers to enjoy:

We really loved Kathleen's interpretation of yesterday's Bonifacio painting. So here is another one. Knock yourself out, K.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bonifacio in Madrid

Today we met Barbara and Sindo at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza at noon to check out the exhibition, “The Mirror and the Mask: Portraiture in the Age of Picasso.” It was great.

Then we walked home via the Atocha train station, where we took a look at the newly inaugurated monument to the victims of the March 11, 2004 terrorist bombings in Madrid. It was very moving.

After that, we had lunch at our apartment and watched a movie while A took a post-prandial nap. At 6 we walked to the Círculo de Bellas Artes to have a coffee and a sandwich mixto. We were pleasantly surprised by the Bonifacio exhibition held in their Sala Picasso.

Bonifacio is one of the most original Spanish painters of the last 50 years. The exhibition we saw was a really great retrospective of his oils, drawings, lithographs and prints produced between 1967 and 2006. It was entitled "En los campos de batalla."

Bonifacio, "Untitled," 1982

Now we are watching "House" reruns en español. It is interesting that when Dr. House is hiding out at the airport, the loudspeakers announce things like, "The flight to Madrid's Barajas airport has been delayed." We've never seen the show in English, but we are pretty sure that House doesn't actually practice in Madrid.

Gotta go. House is getting together with his ex-wife. OMG.

The King

Have you been following the IV Congreso de la Lengua in Cartagena, Colombia? Gabriel García Márquez (file under García Márquez) was the big star of the inauguration of special events the other day, with the king and queen of Spain, Bill Clinton, and another 1,500 people in attendance. It was Gabo's 80th birthday and the 40 year anniversary of the publication of Cien años de soledad, which has become the most widely read book in Spanish after Don Quixote. If you haven't read it yet, you should pick up the special anniversary edition that is being published in its definitive form by Alfaguara.

The great thing about having a king is that he can go out and do all that PR stuff. That's what A said today while we were watching clips of Juan Carlos I speaking at the IV Congreso de la Lengua on TV. Now, this is still just an idea, and clearly we've still got to iron out the details, but we were thinking that maybe if Americans were to make Bill Clinton their king, then perhaps George Bush could spend more of his time on getting the job done.

More Famous People

So, we are back from our trip to Paris. We had a nice time. More on that later.

What we wanted to tell our readers about today is that on Saturday we went to the Corte Inglés with Barbara and Sindo to buy gifts for our grandparents. And while we were strolling up and down the aisles looking at cute tops, guess who came walking past with her two bodyguards? (Maybe we should tell you which Corte Inglés we were at, too. It was the one on Serrano, which is Madrid's equivalent of 5th avenue.)

So, maybe you didn't guess it. We wouldn't have: it was the Infanta Elena. Eldest sister of Felipe, Prince of Asturias and future heir of the (mostly symbolic) Spanish throne. She had her characteristic ponytail and look of quiet determination. And she was much taller than we expected.

Isn't that interesting?

That's her on the left, in a photo we took at her wedding. They had the best butler passed hors d'oeuvres.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Which Spaniards Read the Most, and Other Interesting Things in Today's Paper

According to an article published in today's El pais, madrileños are the Spaniards who read the most, while extremeños read the least. According to a 2006 study undertaken by the Federación de Gremios de Editores 63% of madrileños over 14 years old claim to be readers of books, a reduction from 2005's 68%.

Another interesting fact: the average Spaniard spent 1,355 euros on food in 2006.

Spaniards appear to be the Europeans who most frequently abuse alcohol. According to the Eurobarómetro, in a study made public today by the European Commission, 28% of Spaniards who drink have five or more copas several times a week. They are followed by Austrians and, maybe you guessed it, the Irish.

In other news, we watched House in Spanish last night.

Man, it's hard to keep this blogging thing going.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Berlin Report: Sausage Edition

So, you thought Spain reigned supreme in the world of salted cured meats. Well, you were sorely mistaken my friend. Germany does not only beat Spain in the Champions League. Germany also beats Spain in terms of Love of Sausages and Salted Cured Meats. Allow us to illustrate our point:

Mmm. Salamis.

Mmm. Salamis.

Mmm. Blood sausage and sausage balls.

Mmm. Bratwurst.

Mmm. Salamis.

Mmm. Lomo embuchado. Yes, you can get it in Berlin. Here in Spain, we do Spanische Scweinelende mit paprika right. We do it so good that they import it in Germany.

And this, my friends, is the end-all be-all of salted cured meats. Beneath D's hand you can see the Queen Mother of All Sausages. La salchicha más grande. The mammoth salami that lives at KaDeWe.

Inside that building there, on the top floor, you will find all of these sausages and more. It's KaDeWe. They are celebrating their 100th anniversary right now with insane discounts on a lot of great items: everything from pants and shoes to sausages and Scotch whisky.

No visit to Berlin is complete without a trip to the KaDeWe food court. You laugh, perhaps, but that's only because you don't know what it's like to put your hand on a hundred-pound sausage.