Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cantinflas Can't Even Entertain Us

Cantinflas is one of those English and Spanish films that Latinos in The United States are supposed to make their kids watch so they can appreciate their cultural roots. Yet, culture worth celebrating and preserving doesn't have to be forcefed. This movie is as barely Latino as it is proudly Latino - like Eva Longoria. The director apparently wanted to use every possible device to imply that Mexican comedian Cantinflas was the funniest guy ever, except one: showing Cantinflas actually being funny.

Instead, the movie beats viewers over the head with two very silly propositions. 1) Cantinflas was a truly great Latino, because he stood up to the gringos, saved the gringos, and got the endorsement of the gringos. 2) Cantinflas was a truly great Latino, because he was able to marry the palest whitest woman you've ever seen. (The fact that she is uglier than a monkey's butt is irrelevant to her function as a status symbol.)

For gringos living in Latin America, this most warped reasoning is somewhat familiar. Despite proffering some of the world's most satisfying food, music, women and life perspectives, Latin America often suffers from a cultural inferiority complex as unexplainable as the superior attitude of certain unrefined ignorant American goobers. Nevertheless, me thinks the movie doth protest too much. Perhaps it needs to do so, because a rigid Spanish actor (Oscar Jaenada) with little of the physical suppleness and silliness of Cantinflas is cast in the lead role. Apparently, we needed to import a high-class foreign actor to help prove that Mexican actors are just as great as high-class foreign actors. I never doubted the greatness of Mexican cinema until seeing this lame defense of it. Of course, this year's Academy Awards may inform us "the time has come for a Latino film to win Best Picture." If so, we can all pretend this was a good movie.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Primal Wilderness Rambling From The Adirondacks

When you say “New York,” people generally think of the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan skyscrapers or endless entertainment in “the city that never sleeps.” Yet, there’s more to New York than the “Big Apple.” A different type of adventure awaits in the Adirondack Mountains of the Empire State.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Music is the Universal Language

In my experience, music is the universal language, because it communicates passionate sentiment directly to the heart with or without comprehension of the lyrics. Plato wrote that music is a powerful irrational force capable of almost anything, because it commands the listener to dance with or without a reason to do so. Perhaps the most powerful music is that which reflects love and loss, which are perhaps the most beautiful and painful of all experiences.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Public Drunkenness As Performance Art

We're not breaking the law, just taking a break from the law.
My students may look a bit like criminals, but they're actually just really friendly drunks. That is me hiding in the back. Right before this photo, I was asking two Mexican cops whether there was any problem with us getting shitfaced in a vacant lot next to the highway from the university. Noone was asking if it was legal. What the bloated self-important polĂ­ticos decide for the rest of us in a galaxy far far away rarely comes up in Mexican conversation.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tasteless Ethnic and Gender Humor

During this photo, I was hoping Victoria was grabbing my butt not Harold.
The mind is the most attractive part of an elegant woman, but damn sure not the only part. It is ironic that the internet can reduce one's attention span to where a book by a great mind becomes unreadable and also rivet the attention to where music, candles and massaging an extraordinary woman seems old school. I must admit that I find the minds of great authors and the smiles of great women more captivating than online blogs or video games. This may make me a Luddite. I only know that I like nature and people more than gadgets and gizmos, and I'm generally a happy guy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams Stamps His Own Passport

Robin Williams starred in what is likely the most life-affirming movie ever made, Dead Poet's Society, but he ended his own life this week, echoing the despair of a suicidal actor he wept for in that film. What can we learn from this? Williams was one of the world's most gifted, sensitive and intelligent artists, yet he wasn't very happy. What does that mean for the rest of us? In Awakenings, Good Morning Vietnam and What Dreams May Come, Williams personified lust for life. In his last day, he devoted his sharp mind and manic energy primarily to stopping his own heartbeat. What do we make of all this?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Best Person I've Ever Known

The greatest person I've ever known, Maribel Diaz, died this week. Her traditional Mexican funeral was a tutorial on what matters in life. When I arrived to see her casket in the primitive garage of a crumbling house in a poor neighborhood, I wasn't disturbed at all. She was a global traveler who worked at an aristocratic country club. Yet, she preferred to hang out in the barrio with her family and loved ones. Like Jesus, she was royalty (of character not bloodline) riding on a donkey. I lay a palm branch at her feet.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Road Babe Mittie Roger Fills Out

Not only will I be reading my work this Friday at the Garrison & Garrison Books anniversary party, but Mittie Roger (who pioneered the Road Babe Dispatches column in this magazine) truly fills out the program with a reading from her new book. Oh, you thought I'd say she really fills out a dress. No, this is a high-class literary publication.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Join The San Miguel Bookstore Fiesta

This is a bimbo-friendly bookstore with millions of shorter words.
In a selfless humanitarian effort to combat illiteracy, I'll be reading from my canonical works at the anniversary celebration of Garrison & Garrison bookstore in San Miguel on August 1st. Thus, all you supermodels holding a book upside down with a confused but photogenic expression need not panic. I'm here to serve, because that's just the kind of guy I am.