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Showing posts from August, 2008

Wine Museum

The wine museum in Peñafiel is quite missable.

Chañe Fiesta

I survived the Chañe fiesta. It was hard work. Despite the reputation Irish people have for drinking we are not a patch on Spaniards. Of course the reputation Irish people have for drinking is so great, that most Spaniards simply conclude that I am a poor excuse for an Irishman.

My sister-in-law was one of the reinas de la fiesta. This meant that she got a new dress but had to perform a few official duties. She was more concerned, however, that with only days to go she and her buddies didn't yet have a peña. I thought my nickname of reina sin peña was hilarious, but no one else found it funny. Peña is a difficult word to translate. The best I can do is shebeen. A peña is a drinking den where teenagers go to drink, smoke, and make out. In Spain parents accept that their kids are going to drink. They don't just give them money for this, they often give them real estate too. In Chañe most peñas are disused farm buildings. Not so long ago people kept their farm animals in the vil…

Spanish Journalism Reaches New Low

Spaniards are not big newspaper readers. The tabloid end of the news market in not in print at all but on television. Spanish TV stations are awash nightly with B-list celebrities and their comings and goings -- often from the airport. The sight of a celebrity walking away from the camera, ignoring a "journalist" repeating the same question over and over is a nightly occurrence on TV. Footage, that in most markets would be considered useless, makes it to air in Spain. A celebrity not giving an interview is still "news" worthy.

But today Spanish journalism reached a new low. Perhaps it was the panic. Or perhaps it was the familiar territory of MAD-T4 that caused a lapse of judgment. Today after a plane crashed on take off at Madrid Barajas Airport I saw family members of passengers on TV not giving an interview. One distraught woman was being pursued as the left the terminal building.

Celebrities court the media. The don't get to complain when the attention …

Ella Elle L'a is No.1 in Spain

I am both happy and sad that Ella Elle L'a is No.1 in Spain. I am a big fan of the original France Gall version from her album Babacar. I think it is one of the greatest pop songs of all time. It is also one of the few French songs that have been popular in the English speaking world (Voyage Voyage, and Joe Le Taxi come to mind).

That this tarted up dance beat cover by Kate Ryan has made it to the top is interesting. It proves that you can force something to be a hit if you play it often enough. While the Baila Chikki Chikki EuroVision song promised to be the ubiquitous summer hit this year, interest waned very quickly after the contest itself. In addition this song was only available for sale on iTunes. This of course makes sense. The business of selling CDs has long since died in Spain. Members of the target market for a song like this probably don't even own CD players. And it's a long time since they paid for music in any format.

But if a dance remix of this classic…

Ecological Bullrun

I was at an ecological bullrun yesterday. A bullrun is an event where the bulls are encouraged to run through the town, usually to the bull ring, and the locals run with (although sometimes after, beside, and under) them. The oldest bullrun in Spain is in Cuellar and the the most famous is, thanks to Hemmingway, in Pamplona.

I'd witnessed the Cuellar bullrun once but not participated. But I'd never seen an ecological bull before. An ecological bull is not one with so sophisticated a diet that it has a zero carbon footprint. An ecological bull is like a cross between a wheel barrow and a sittee!

Some children took it very seriously and dressed in the traditional white pants and shirt with red scarf. Others suspended their disbelief and ran terrified down the street as the crowd and bulls approached. Some skillfully crossed the path of the bull, like they'd seen on TV.

The rules for bullruns invariably state that those under the influence of alcohol cannot run. However as th…

I saw a snake

I saw a snake today. It was very small, but seeing a real live snake in its natural habitat is a big deal if you are Irish.

Iscar Fiesta

Went to the Fiesta in Iscar last night. Saturday night is generally the biggest night of any fiesta. We arrived, unfashionably early, at about 11. The band didn't start until 12. The singer was not very good at all. It seems that the fiesta in Iscar was such a big deal that they had two bands!

It was about 3.30 by the time we left. Things were only getting started then.

The siñorita is having trouble finding someone to go to a bullfight with her on Tuesday. She knows better than to ask me. Kill it and eat it, or leave it alone. That's my view on torturing animals for entertainment.