I realize I've said some pretty incendiary things over the last several months, and I just want to reach out "across the aisle," if you will, in a sincere attempt to forge a genuinely bipartisan, apolitical, nonjudgemental foundation-of-friendship and mutual respect amongst all of us. To that end, I would like to offer up some completely neutral & unbiased information that each of you may use however you wish to further the betterment and quality of your own lives.
To get right to the point: last week I tried Paul Newman's new low-fat Soy Ginger salad dressing, and GODD*MN if that isn't a tasty friggin' concoction! Seriously, you toss that over your fresh or cooked veggies and you have got yourselves some fantastic eating. Mmm-mmm!!! That's precisely the way I've phrased it to Jane every night at the dinner table for the last week: "mmm-mmm!!!" (Well, alright, maybe I tossed in a few rounds of "godd*mn, baby!" in there too.)
Please believe me when I tell you I have hereby spoken in a wholly uncompromised spirit of interpersonal bridge-building and a deeply felt desire for the abolishment of any sort of ethical/political animosity between any of us; and I really hope we can use this message as a springboard to move forward together - together as one - as an impartial, unbiased, non-grudge-bearing group of like-minded, kinder and gentler Americans for a truly communal platform of productivity, progress and compassion.
Oh, and while I'm at it, f*ck George W. Bush in the ear, and f*ck him in his other ear, too, and f*ck him in the ass for closers.
It isn't a BAD article, but it doesn't say very much which hasn't already been said.
One point on which I disagree:
Gaiman writes: "Other heroes are really only pretending: Peter Parker plays Spider-Man; Bruce Wayne plays Batman. For Superman, it’s mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent that’s the disguise – the thing he aspires to, the thing he can never be."
He's not quite right there. For Batman, Bruce Wayne, is a disguise he must wear during the day.
*I* think Superman Returns looks like it is going to suck pretty badly. I'd be pleased to be wrong. But...look at the advace photos like the one of the left. There's something very wrong with them.
Liz called these roof sculptures "Huey, Louie, and Dewey". I ponted out that there was a fourth and suggested we call him "Darth Vaderie". Liz was not amused. I refrained from making the other, obvious, crude remarks about what these might resemble.
Here's one with Liz in it- this gives one a sense of how large these things are. Liz is sitting beacuse the smell of French Tourists has made her feel faint.
This shot is from the internal courtyard, looking up.
This photo, taken from the roof, shows the undulating walls and balconies.
Other sculpture is less representational....or just...bad.
Here's a peice by Joan Miro (whose work I usually really, really like), also in Barcelona.
Despite all this existing sculture, Barcelona continues to encourage more. This sign for instance, seen in Antoni Gaudi's Park Güell without any textual elaboration, seems to say: Should your dog manage to create notable sculpture, be sure to point it out to passers-by for their enjoyment, and so they can nominate your dog to receive public funding for his future works.
The dog, however, must have a Catalan name. It seems that it is virtually impossible to get public funding for ANY endeavor in Catalunya that uses Castellano (a.k.a. "Spanish").
We took the TrenHotel from Sevilla to Barcelona. Since we had, technically, a 1st class ticket, we were allowed to wait in the 1st class lounge in the Sevilla RENFE train station, Santa Justa.
Santa Justa is a nice station, actually. Air conditioned, lots of seating, decent cafes. The Lounge, however, was SWANKY. Tucked away discretely in one corner, it was quiet and filled with business travellers in suits and ties. It had Wi-Fi, comfy seating and large, flat screen televisions tuned to state-run Spanish news. It had sodas, water, beer, good coffee, tins of olives, cookies...it was enough to make me want to travel 1st class more often. We were clearly the only tourists there.
On the overnight TrenHotel, we had our own Coche-Cama, a little tiny room with bunk beds and a sink. We went to the restaurant car for a very decent and overpriced meal, then crashed for the majority of the ride to Barcelona.
This sort of graffiti isn't unusual to find in the Andalusia region of southern Spain. We found this in Sevilla. Note that it is in English, and therefore intended for the benefit/education of tourists, not locals. Spain is made up of a number of regions, many of which see themselves as separate from "Spain." Among others, Analusia, Catalunya, and Euskadi (Basque Country).
Post-Franco Spain has managed to give a lot of autonomy to these regions that had their individual cultures and languages repressed by Franco's government, and some think that federalism or even separatism is on the horizon.
In Catalunya, for instance, the Catalan language has regained primacy in daily life, though everyone also speaks Castellano, or Castillian, which most in the U.S. refer to as "Spanish". Catala is about 80% Castellano and 20% French. All signs in Barcelona are in Catalan and Castellano.
It is not unusual to find graffiti like this in many regions of Spain. We saw it in Catalunya, too.
I took this photo in the garden of the Sevilla Alcazar.
Built by moorish craftsmen for Christian royalty, the architecture includes mosiacs created by moorish methods. Unlike moorish architecture, though, these include images of real things (Muslim art is never representational). I loved the blue and purple trees that blossomed all over the alcazar's gardens, and all over Sevilla.
The owner of the Hotel we stayed at while in Cordoba (whose name really was Fernando) had a dog named "Princess Caroline of Monaco." Caroline is small, elderly, vision-impaired, and very sweet. She decided she liked me, and obeyed my commands to sit in both English and Spanish. When I stopped petting her, she pawed gently at my leg until I started again. We liked her a lot.
Spain's relationship to Judaism is long and complex. There are definitely Spanish Judeophiles (King Juan Carlos' wife, Queen Sofia, has publically said that Sephardic Judaism was one of her great interests).
But I was disturbed to find this graffiti in a very public, visible area right off Madrid's PLaza Del Sol. No attempt had been made, it seems, to remove it. I asked someone who worked nearby how long it had been there. She said it had been there for at least for several months.
I believe Americans tend to think that European attitudes about race and religion are similar to those held by Americans. I believe this is mistaken. For Americans, WWII was a long time ago. For Europeans, who have a longer view of history, it was just a few days ago.
I also saw a number of graffiti swastikas throughout our travels in Spain. Each time, a circle had been drawn around it, and a bar had ben drawn through it. This is a hopeful sign, but often the swastika was drawn with a different color than the circle and bar.
There aren't many Jews in Spain. That whole Inquisition thing is the primary reason.
But when we ate at the outstanding Café Ricordi in Madrid, we were surprised to find out that they are plentiful enough to serve for dinner.
Here's the menu item in Spanish.
Now...my Spanish is lousy, but it looked to me like this says "Green Jews with Foie."
So we ask for and check the English version of the menu.
Yup. Green Jews. Delicious Green Jews.
We ate here anyway. Everything we ordered was excellent, though we were not brave enough to try the Judias Verdes, with or without foie. I'm a Jew who likes ham, but even my unkosher habits have limits.
The red lights on this cylinder turn green and the cylinder retracts into the ground when the car has come to a complete stop. This ensures that the driver really DOES bring the car to a complete stop.
It is weird about nations and cultures that they can master some complex things and be utterly helpless in others. For instance, the British are gods of Law and Literature, but can't master cooking or dentistry.
I actually like a hell of a lot about the French, but I can't figure out why they still don't believe in daily bathing.
True story: Liz and I walk into a room at Madrid's most famous art museum, Museo del Prado, and my nose twitches. The smell of body odor is strong, and I jokingly tell Liz that there must be French people nearby. We turn the next corner, and run into a group of people discussing a painting in French. And while they occupy only one part of the room, the whole room stinks.
People of France, I implore you: please bathe daily when you travel to other nations. A man is entitled to reek in the privacy of his own home or nation, but to do so in someone else's is just bad manners.
Although it was early in the season, there sure were a lot of tourists. Mostly British, French, American, and German, with a healthy smattering of Japanese. Every time we heard German being spoken, Liz whispered "Whatever you do....DON'T MENTION THE WAR...!" a la Fawlty Towers (Video here).