18 diciembre 2006
03 diciembre 2006
Looking around for traditional Mexican music, I came across this unusual collection called "Yu-Mex" ("Jugoslovanska Mehika" in Slovenian). To quote:
In 1948, the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito broke up with the Soviet leader Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin. Yugoslavia was suddenly between the two blocks.So, here it is: Paloma negra sung by Nevenka Arsova. (It seems/sounds that Paloma negra are the only two words not translated from Spanish.)
Yugoslav authorities had to look somewhere else for film entertainment. They found a suitable country in Mexico: it was far away, the chances of Mexican tanks appearing on Yugoslav borders were slight and, best of all, in Mexican films they always talked about revolution in the highest terms. How could an average moviegoer know that it was not the Yugoslav revolution?
The Mexican influence spread to all of the popular culture: fake Mexican bands were forming and their records still can be found at the flea markets nowadays.
26 noviembre 2006
18 noviembre 2006
12 noviembre 2006
05 noviembre 2006
04 noviembre 2006
30 octubre 2006
28 octubre 2006
No, it was not Penélope Cruz singing Volver in the latest Almodóvar movie. (Which I enjoyed very much.) It is actually sung by Estrella Morente (also the star of La canción de la semana #7) and appears on her latest CD Mujeres. Watch the video of live performance.
16 octubre 2006
08 octubre 2006
06 octubre 2006
04 octubre 2006
30 septiembre 2006
28 septiembre 2006
As there is not really room for 24 cats in her garden, they tend to commandeer the houses on either side as well - though the house where Byron lives does not seem to have too much of a problem. I wonder why? After all he is only a playful 100lb rotweiler.
Not surprisingly, the neighbours get a smidgeon upset when they find a cat on the spare bed with its young. They got so upset this time she thought she may have to have them put down. (It didn't occur to her that the cats may well have a loving family home just around the corner!)
The cats didn't seem like this idea very much so they bit and clawed and scratched their way to freedom as her husband tried to capture them; they simply vanished until things settled down. Anyway, the cats are all still there, Herminia has toddled off to Barcelona until next Easter and Antonio is still feeding them for her – so nothing new there! She thinks the locals are ignorant brutes that hate all animals and that she is the one with a social conscience – me, I'm not quite so sure…Any bets on the number of cats that will be there next year?
I have often wondered why Continental brand names are not used more in the UK. I can quite understand why Paqui Supermarket (In Spanish it is the feminine diminutive for Francesca) may not be acceptable but Nestle Bonka coffee seems perfectly innocent to me.
As I no longer drink tea, I looked for an alternative herbal infusion locally and came up with poleo menta. It has a rich minty flavour and goes down very well. "I wonder what it is called in English?" It's pennyroyal. So then I looked at what pennyroyal is used for…to promote blood flow in the pelvic region, menstrual flow and self abortion. It doesn't seem to taste quite the same any more.
We were sat quietly in the only bar for miles, sipping our drinks, when hunger pangs struck. "Can you do us something to eat? "You can have an omelette sandwich." "OK." There was then much scurrying about when they realised they didn't actually have any bread so the son went round the corner to get a loaf. Eventually, with a flourish, the barman proudly stepped through the swing doors of the kitchen, which promptly swung back and knocked one of the sandwiches from his grasp. "I'll make you another one", he said. Now, we knew he didn't have any more bread and anyway it only took him a moment or two to reappear with the "new" sandwiches. Which one is the good one? We compromised and shared them both between us.
We have always thought that the Spanish were absolute philistines for keeping red wine in a chiller; after all red wine is supposed to be kept at room temperature, everybody knows that! This summer we realised that room temperature in Spain in the summer can be 30C which is a tad hot for any wine. It still feels a bit odd to drink red wine chilled to18C but when you think about it that is room temperature in the UK.
We have sampled two other new culinary delights! You take some stale bread, soak it over night, ring it out and then fry it in olive oil with garlic. You then proceed to eat it with fresh melon – lovely! Or you can savour the delights of freshly-made pork scratchings served as a delicacy. If you ever want to try it it's called cochifrito.
We tried these wondrous dishes on a trip through Extremadura and Castile y La Mancha. If you ever get to Spain, forget the costas and head inland. Mérida has the most wonderfully preserved Roman hippodrome, amphitheatre, theatre, and aqueducts plus a brilliant museum. In Trujillo the Moorish castle has an eerie timeless quality about it. You look out over a plain that has remained unchanged for two thousand years or more. Add to that Don Quixote's windmills and you have an exquisite mix of interest.
We went on the trip to avoid the village fiesta which is four days of non-stop noise from midnight to dawn. As we live in the main square, so we are close to the epicentre and the house quite literally shakes continuously to the beat of the music. We booked our hotels on the internet and most of them were excellent, though we did have a grumpy, unhelpful, receptionist in one of them so I took the opportunity to practice complaining in Spanish! A couple of the hotels had swimming pools so we took a dip. After a few moments we realised that you couldn't actually see the bottom clearly and the water had a funny taste. Then we looked at all the kids in the water and wondered if they had anything to do with it… We now look very carefully before dipping.
On our travels, strolling the streets of Salamanca we noticed an old guy in front of us with a step ladder, a small dog…and a goat. Suddenly he stopped, set up the step ladder in the middle of the pavement and the goat hopped up onto the small platform and proceeded to do pirouettes, with the old guy acting as ring master! It takes all sorts.
Pam decided it would be a good idea for us to paint the window bars and the garage door. For us read Rod! That's 360 fancy cast iron decorations and dozens of bars – upstairs - on the tiled, sloping roof or on a platform. Whilst doing this the local village idiot came along and stood for 1½ hours just watching me paint. (It's better than cuddling parked cars like his brother does, I suppose. Yep, really. Well, I've only seen him trying it on parked cars. Come to think of it I haven't seen him lately. You don't think…?) Rafael has a colourful turn of phrase, so we were treated to just about every swear word in the Spanish language as he passed the time of day with us – and watched paint dry.
The garage door proved quite a challenge as it is galvanised and paint doesn't stick too well. I rubbed down then undercoated and top coated. Victor came over and said "Do you know you have drips on the front?" Whoops. Quick as a flash I picked up the nearest rag and wiped it off – unfortunately the rag was soaked in paint stripper. So I stripped the four ruined panels back to bare metal and started again. Pam said "I like the different colour. Can we have it as a random pattern?" So we now have a garage door with some of the panels painted in a darker grey than the rest of the door. Still, it's a talking point. By the way the garage door took me five days using 5kg of paint – proper job.
We went out for a stroll recently, one hour down the road. I was all for coming back the same way but Pam had other ideas. "I'm sure that track over there will get us back the pretty way", she said. "It's the wrong side of the river", I said. "It'll be OK," she said. So we set off walking east, when home is north. There wasn't a bridge and we walked for 1½ hours in the wrong direction. When we got to Fuente Vaqueros, we found that the buses were only running every 2 hours instead of hourly. So we walked an hour to the next town and hoped for the best, we were (finally) in luck and caught a bus home. So much for a quiet stroll!
We looked out the window the other day and there were four workmen setting up a huge crane which needed tons of gravel in a hopper as ballast to stop it tipping over. They had a JCB but unfortunately only one shovel between them so it took quite a while to spread the gravel out. When I say four workmen I mean one doing the work and the other 3 supervising; come to think of it one of them did spread the gravel around a bit with his foot.
Poor Andrea fell victim to drinking with Pam. As the bar had no tonic, Pam suggested they use Martini Bianco as the mixer with their gin. Andrea drank three of these lethal cocktails and was doing fine until the landlord offered us all an extra free drink – I'm sure he only did it to see how Andrea would cope; badly as it happens. Andrea seemed to lose the plot a little (and probably a lot of brain cells). She rang the next day, from her bed, to ask if Pam was OK. She was, of course, fine! "I seem to have fallen over and cut my lip," Andrea said, "but I'm not sure when." She later remembered dancing in her front room and doing a rather too ambitious twirl…
24 septiembre 2006
15 septiembre 2006
11 septiembre 2006
Anyone interested, please contact the college as usual.
See you there.
09 septiembre 2006
26 agosto 2006
20 agosto 2006
14 agosto 2006
I haven't posted the Dear Diary for a while. There are some chapters still to upload, but here comes the latest. As you can see, Rod is having fun down there in sunny Granada.
Regards to all.
Byron, anís and Spanish cowboys
We left our garage door open again and Byron came to call. No, not the ghost of a long-dead poet but a very large, very live, rotweiler. His arrival was preceded by a loud scream of terror from a visiting neighbour as Byron squeezed through the small gap between her and the car. He was closely followed by Alicia screaming "Byron!" at the top of her voice. Byron ignored her completely and proceeded to explore the garden and pee on every wall to mark his territory. Then he decided to go into the house. "Oh, great," I thought, "Pee on all the furniture as well." and unwisely followed him into the kitchen to shut the door to the rest of the house. Unfortunately this put me between a very large, trapped, dog and the only exit to freedom. I'm not sure if Byron got nervous but I certainly did as 110 lbs of muscle passed by my flabby, trembling frame. He left the garden when he was good and ready and not a moment sooner. I let him take all the time he wanted. At least he didn't decide to take a dip in the pool.
Pam went to visit a local British girl who doesn't drink at all. She was offered a choice of coffee or a glass from an unopened litre bottle of Anis (the Spanish equivalent of Pernod and just as vicious). Pam, of course, chose Anis. Three quarters of a bottle later…Pam came home bright as a button and apparently sober - what a gal - the unfortunate neighbour was by turn paralytic, unconscious, dragged to bed and then closeted in a darkened room for three whole days! The same Brit, surprisingly, asked us along to the local bar to celebrate her wedding anniversary. This time Pam wisely stuck to beer but her mate just chose a liqueur at random from the shelf…and drank the bottle dry! Again we didn't see her for several days but she assured us she had enjoyed herself enormously, had had an upset stomach but had not been sick – a major achievement apparently! When we offered to show her and her husband around Granada she had learned her lesson and took the precaution of swallowing a box of Imodium prior to going out with Pam. A wise move I think, especially as we were gong to try a Chinese meal. This time all went well with no apparent mishaps.
Heard in a local restaurant: "I don't perspire through my legs so they come up in a (sweat) rash." Or, "Yes, we tried paella when we were in Greece."
I was offered a caffeine-free Pepsi Cola light with no sugar and zero calories – what's the point of a drink with all the vices removed? And Pepsi instead of Coke to boot! "Lovely," I said to my host; what a hypocrite I am!
Another time in the bar - honestly, we only go there when we have visitors – there was a great hulking Brit, covered in tattoos with rings or studs in all visible orifices and appendages (and, he proudly assured us, in some that were not visible). During the course of the conversation he said he worked as an "insolvency practitioner". As I know someone with a similar job title I tried to equate his appearance with my degree-qualified relation who works in a highly civilised business environment. It did not compute. Later, we wondered what his job title would have been before political correctness intervened and came up with "bailiff" - as in he enjoys breaking down doors and taking away all the furniture, yep that definition works!
When Pam's sister Mary came to stay I was convinced she would provide an entire Dear Diary all on her own but not a bit of it. She was good as gold and a pleasure to be with. She ate and drank everything put in front of her both at home and in the bars – including an ice-cream on top of 4 glasses of beer, complete with tapas. Mind you…she is convinced she is allergic to eggs after a trip to Scotland some while ago. Apparently the fish she was given wasn't fresh and tasted funny but it was coated in egg and breadcrumbs. Two hours after eating the meal she was ill. Me, I'd have plumped for the fish being off but Mary no longer eats eggs but does eat fish!
Pam took up my offer to teach her how to reverse a car into parking spaces. Rather than cause carnage in the street we went to a plot of open land just outside the village at 07:30 in the morning. The aim being to avoid onlookers as we slotted red broom handles into dustpans, weighted them down with bricks and set them out in a pretty pattern on the waste ground. As Pam set off in reverse for the first time the audience started to arrive and seat themselves on a nearby wall to watch the floor show. She did very well, considering, so a couple of days later we moved on to the square close to our house. We used the Council plastic wheelie bins as cars and not surprisingly gathered another gaggle of interested onlookers. The lesson went really well until one of the locals came up the road with a rubbish bag looking for the communal bins, found them down the street and determinedly moved them back to their proper location. What a cheek, we thought as we sneaked off home, you've nicked our cars. Then we went for broke. We went to Granada airport, paid our 40 Cents for the carpark, and Pam practiced backing into a single gap between two cars as I kept a look-out for Security! The guards saw us but took no notice whatsoever. Result!
Securitas do things differently in Spain; dress code is a bit more flexible. It goes without saying that they all carry automatic pistols but the one I saw wore a gun belt stuffed with bullets. I think they were just for show but over here you can never be sure. If I'd realised the guards were such cowboys I wouldn't have been as confident of commandeering the airport car park for a driving lesson.
Pam has a habit of putting things down and never being able to find them again. One morning she muttered under her breath as she opened the washing machine, took everything out and sifted through it. "What are you doing?" "Looking for the camera," she said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. She eventually found the camera stuffed inside a shoe in the kitchen doorway - where else would it be?
The new British family bought their house from a UK agency with offices in Spain. The first agent showed them the house and told them the price. When they showed an interest his mate turned up and told them that there had been a mistake with the price and it was in fact € 12,000 more. He rolled up to tell them this in a shiny new Porsche 911. I wonder where he gets the money from to run a car like that?
The daughter of the same family is coming over here to live. She and her husband have both already given up their jobs and sold their house in the UK. They plan to put their two children in the local village school. They will need a mortgage from a Spanish bank to pay for their new house. To get a mortgage you need to demonstrate that you have residency and a regular income. They are both confident of "picking up a good job" as soon as they get here but neither of them speaks a word of Spanish. Without papers it is impossible to get an official job…It takes 6 months to get residency. I think they are in for a nasty shock.
29 julio 2006
This week's piece of music is nothing less than Maurice Ravel's Bolero as performed by Jorge Pardo, one of the greatest flute (and sax) players I ever heard. This track is taken from Jorge Pardo's album Mira. Es fenomenal.
23 julio 2006
Por los pagos de mi barrio habia un tipo que se las daba de guapo
Pero su mente estaba revirada le decian:
Por lo mucho que aspiraba
Salia de noche, volvia de dia
No tenia paz ese muchacho
Pero todos le decian vas a tener que parar
Y se pianto nomas ,intoxicado quedo duro como rulo de estatua
Hasta que un buen dia el mate no le dio para mas
Narigón compadre, que hiciste de tu sangre?
Narigón compadre, malevo de pacotilla
Narigón compadre, aprende de un avez a darte!
16 julio 2006
09 julio 2006
Continuing with instrumental music. In this way, our 'La canción' does not have to be in Spanish, as long as there is some connection with Hispanic music.
I would like to introduce a Russian flamenco guitarist Ivan Smirnov. I first saw and heard him live some 20 years ago in Moscow, when he was in a line-up of (then) Soviet jazz-rock outfit Arsenal (!). Tonight's song, Rendez-vous, is taken from this website containing 16 complete audio tracks. I hope you like his music.
02 julio 2006
25 junio 2006
For this week, I chose one of the most popular Spanish-language songs of all time. Maybe the most popular song of all time. Naturally, it is Bésame Mucho, written some 65 years ago by Mexican composer Consuelo Velázquez. This Russian web site provides a good selection of interpretations of Bésame Mucho (including The Beatles, Placido Domingo, Ray Conniff, Dave Brubeck etc etc.) My tonight's choice is The Charlie Byrd Quintet version.
10 junio 2006
01 junio 2006
...is Sur o no sur by Alaskan/Argentine Kevin Johansen. Warning: it's a kind of song you listen once and then hum all day.
- Me voy porque acá no se puede,
me vuelvo porque allá tampoco
Me voy porque aquí se me debe,
me vuelvo porque allá están locos
Sur o no sur...
27 mayo 2006
21 mayo 2006
- Siempre estoy pensando
Dame cinco, dame cinco
Siempre estoy pensando
Dame cinco, dame cinco, give me five
etc. By the way I found the link to this track here.
14 mayo 2006
Tonight, it is Tamacun performed by Dublin-based Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. This instrumental opens their new album which went "straight to the top of the Irish charts" in March. They will play at The Junction in Cambridge on 24 May.
05 mayo 2006
28 abril 2006
23 abril 2006
...is Diferente, from the new album by Gotan Project, Lunático.
En el mundo habrá un lugar
para cada despertar
un jardín de pan y de poesía
Porque puestos a soñar
fácil es imaginar
esta humanidad en harmonía
Vibra mi mente al pensar
en la posibilidad
de encontrar un rumbo diferente
Para abrir de par en par
los cuadernos del amor
del gauchaje y de toda la gente
Qué bueno che, qué lindo es
reírnos como hermanos
Porqué esperar para cambiar
de murga y de compás.
12 abril 2006
Last week, we went to see Lila Downs @ Barbican. Great, as expected, and more than expected!
01 abril 2006
24 marzo 2006
- Aquí canta un caminante
que muy mucho ha caminado
y ahora vive tranquilo
y en el Cerro Colorado
Incidentally, today marks the 30th anniversary of the military coup in Argentina.
17 marzo 2006
11 marzo 2006
...is Ladino Song, performed both in Ladino and English by London-based klezmer fusion band Oi Va Voi. The band's violinist, Sophie Solomon, will perform tomorrow (12 March 2006) in Cambridge Fez club.
03 marzo 2006
Last week, the winners of the 2006 BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music were announced. In Americas category, the winner is none else than Ry Cooder. Listen to this politically incorrect song, Chinito Chinito (check the lyrics).Kirill
24 febrero 2006
18 febrero 2006
12 febrero 2006
05 febrero 2006
27 enero 2006
22 enero 2006
...is not really a song but I post it anyway: Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega. Here you can hear (and see) this famous tremolo piece played by Australian guitarist Sal Bonavita. If you are interested in learning flamenco guitar techniques, go to this page containing short and useful video clips. And if you can read sheet music, here is the thing, courtesy of (check it!) Classical Guitar School, Iceland.
15 enero 2006
- Atrás de las bellas selvas
Henchido como luna llena
Con todo el saber del pobre
Tallado en sus propias costillas
Suda el sudamericano suda, suda
Suda el sudamericano suda, suda
13 enero 2006
12 enero 2006
08 enero 2006
"The recording takes listeners on an intriguing and often unexpected musical journey into the cathedrals of the Spanish colonial frontier. The Nativity story is told here through music that captures the lively cultural exchange between Indigenous, African, and Spanish voices. European motets appear alongside Afro-Spanish guarachas on the recording."
Read more, and listen to more early music in strange languages, here.