This week the students in my literary criticism class are reading El sueño de la razón, a play by noted dramatist Antonio Buero Vallejo. The work is a historical drama based on the last days of Goya in Madrid, when he was finishing his famous Black Paintings. The play is set in December, 1823, a time of horrible political repression set loose by the worst monarch in the history of Spain, Ferdinand VII. Goya had been deaf for some years by that point. In one scene Goya witnesses an argument between his servant/lover and his daughter- in-law and has auditory hallucinations, imagining his lover's voice as that of an ass and his daughter-in- law's as that of a rooster. Something similar happens to me with McCain and Palin. Palin is the rooster and McCain the ass. Today's word from yourdictionary.com: apothegm: "a terse saying that sums up a philosophical insight or conclusion; a maxim, an aphorism." In pondering our recent history, no appropriate apothegm comes immediately to mind. Any suggestions? Months ago I made a half-assed attempt to add one of those 'hit counters' or whatever you call it to this page, so that I'd know if anyone was reading, but I couldn't figure it out. So, in the spirit of polling, which so dominates the news these days, a little poll of my own: if you read this (I think there are two or three of you), send an email to email@example.com, saying, cockadoodledooi'mneitheraroosternoranassandireadayearinmalaga. Comprendes? In the photo, Goya's Saturn Devouring his Son, from the Black Paintings series.
This morning's press here brings news from the small town of Castellar, in the province of Jaen. That's about two hours north of Malaga. Unfortunately, it's a very predictable story. It seems as if the only thing that changes are the names: it begins with an insult or a fight and escalates to a full blown witch hunt against the gypsy minority, obligated to flee. Often it involves enraged parents demanding that the gypsy children be kept out of their school. And of course, the mob is always quick to insist that this has nothing to do with race. We're not racists! It's about security. In Castellar it started with a fight among some teenagers on Saturday night. Over seventy of the small town's ninety something Romani fled in fear for their safety. And some of the few who stayed behind required police protection. When I came to Spain for the first time in 1979 I was struck by the incongruence of Spaniards often asking me why Americans were so racist while I looked in vain to find a single gypsy outside the world of flamenco who had managed to find a comfort zone in the dominant society. (Or for that matter, a single minority group member of any kind.) The small Romani minority was completely segregated and Madrid seemed like an unimaginably homogeneous place for a capital of four million people. (Today it looks just like any other big multicultural metropolis.) At the time I shared an apartment with a black man who was from the Carribean, Barbados if I recall correctly. An invaluable experience for me: we'd be walking down the street and people would stop and blatantly stare. (Alito was an actor, stayed in Spain for some years and worked in theatre, tv, and the movies. He had a very small role in Almodovar's Tie Me Up, Time me Down!) Spain has changed dramatically in the past thirty years. But romaniphobia is still tremendously deep-seated. It plays out differently in rural America, where there seems to be more reason to feel optimistic regarding the eventual triumph of reason and tolerance. I try to be optimistic, though sometimes it's hard. (In the photo above, a street in Castellar.)
It sure looks like Obama is going to win next week. And it will be historic (a greatly devalued adjective that in this case might actually come close to understatement). It will be huge. If they were voting in Malaga Obama would get over 90% of the vote. Last night our book group came here to the apartment for our monthly discussion (this month Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach) and afterwards we ended up talking about politics, a very broad discussion of our current global mess. Asun was with Daniela in Madrid for the weekend, but got back just as our book conversation was getting underway. (Everyone liked this brief novel and we had a good conversation; the consensus was that it's an interesting, minor work.) Anyway, one of the issues that came up briefly was health care, and it's just inconceivable to our friends how it is that the US doesn't have guaranteed universal coverage for all its citizens. I suspect the US may finally get there as a consequence of our current crisis. Obama's current plan, as best I can tell, pretends to sustain our current system of employer-based insurance, but in the long run I don't think it's sustainable. (The annual increase in insurance premiums cannot outpace the rate of inflation indefinitely.) Economics aside, it's simply unethical. Quality medical care should be available to all regardless of your ability to pay. Above, the most famous etching in Goya's Caprichos series: "The sleep of reason produces monsters". That's exactly what happened to the Bush administration on September 12, 2001. And the world has been suffering the consequences ever since. It also describes the condition of the Republican party. A very, very busy week coming up. Here goes...
I don't know if things really surprise me or if I just like to act surprised. After a fun dinner with a bunch of students last night here at the apartment, I sat down with Asun in front of the TV to unwind for a few minutes. Antonio Banderas was on some interview program. Off screen the most I'd ever heard him speak was probably ten or fifteen minutes of chitchat at a 'meet and greet' session after one of his performances in the Broadway production "Nine". That was five or six years ago, I think. Anyway, listening to him speak last night, in Spanish of course, talking about Malaga, about politics, Spanish and international, about the US presidential campaign... I thought, man, this guy is sharp. Really sharp and extremely articulate. I knew that he's an intelligent guy, and from conversations with others who are close to him I had some sense of what he must be like, but his appearance last night was fascinating. Such was his sophistication that after about five minutes talking about politics, one of the journalists said, "well, Antonio, I'm not going to ask you about politics because I don't want you to take our jobs away..." Surprise? The Hollywood image of the 'guapo', the latin lover, is just that, an image. He had some pretty insightful comments on a range of different topics. Speaking of TV, it's funny how things work out. In the US about the only TV I watch is baseball, and the occasional movie. It would never occur to me to put on Fox News. But it turns out Fox is the one American news network we get on our lineup here, so I've put it on a few times. Wow! And they complain about the "liberal media"? These guys are completely over the top. Surprise? What's even more irritating are the the constant advertisements framed as news. I don't know if they are so blatant about it on the domestic feed; maybe it's because here they don't cut to the "normal" US product advertising. In any case, a few samples of that were enough for me. A, yes, surprising news source here is the French TV English language channel. I find it better and more sophisticated than the BBC. Who would have guessed that France, source of hysterical complaining about cultural imperialism, the corroding effect of English, etc., would come up with this fanastic news channel. In English! And one more thing: it looks like we're going to have rain for a second day in a row. That's a surprise!
Daniela was here this weekend and on Saturday we took a walk downtown, ending up at a curious little exhibition of some of the master- works of Banco Santander's collection. (Remember, that's the bank that just bought up Sovereign. Santander was much less invested in subprimes than most commercial banks and is in growth mode; they bought an English bank a couple of weeks ago.) The highlight of this exhibit for me, without any doubt, was a large portrait by Zurbaran, Virgin Child Sleeping (Niña Virgen dormida). In commenting on my visit to Seville's fine arts museum a few weeks ago, I wrote that Zurbaran's Virgins were not as natural as Murillo's. Well, here's the exception. I don't recall having ever seen this particular painting before. What a treat! I can't imagine a better capturing of that ineffable moment when we doze off! The little girl's right eye is completely shut, but her left eye shows just the slightest slit of openness, suggesting a minimal connection to the world of consciousness inhabited by the viewer. The reproduction here is a pale shadow of the original, which has been wonderfully restored. The colors are vibrant, the detail of the flowers in the vase startling (the rose, love; the lilly, purity; the carnation, fidelity). All the light emanates from the girl's forehead, to me suggesting the power and attraction of her sweet dreams. Her own future? I think she's dreaming of rocketing skywards, of joining those silly angel faces that hover above her. Good books do that! Above all, the painting captures a really cute face. A neighborhood girl, someone you'd be happy to have your daughters play with. This kid's life is placid, she's got a good book to read, and no worries. She's a dreamer with a rich imagination. (Could that explain something...?) Anyway, it was a fun little visit. Later, Asun prepared us a nice roast chicken for lunch and afterwards Daniela got to spend some time with a classmate from years ago who she's stayed in touch with.
Last week a lot of news was focused on a baby born in Seville. In vitro fertilization has been around for decades now, so that's not the news. In this case the parents let it be known publicly that their baby boy had begun his existence as a conscious decision made in the laboratory, the embryo chosen for its particular genetic characteristics. It turns out the parents have an older son who suffers a rare form of fatal anemia which now can be treated with "mother cells" in the blood of the new born's umbilical cord. This was the news-another medical breakthrough. It seems like a great story–baby brother saves big brother's life. But not everyone sees it that way. The head of the Spanish Episcopal Conference published a very harsh note condemning this case. The position of the catholic church is well known: discarding unused embryos that result from in vitro fertilization is unacceptable, immoral. It's discarding life. On the surface, in this case that position seems absurd. Do the unused embryos really merit the same consideration as the new born baby? Most people approve of the procedure and do not seem overly concerned about the disposal of unused embryos; after all, they are at the earliest possible stage of cell division and only exist in a test tube. And in this case, the process results in two lives- a new life that saves the life of another. How could anyone in their right mind be against that? Yet, I do believe there is a very tough ethical issue here. The most lamentable observation made last week was by the head of some self-proclaimed bioethical panel. He said the only ethical position to take on this case was not to consider it an ethical issue. Huh? Of course it's about ethics. Is it really so unreasonable to consider that life begins at conception? If you start with that premise, then of course you do have a real ethical dilemma in a case like this. There is no solving this debate for now. But even more worrisome in my view is the lurking danger that in our eagerness to solve horrible medical conditions we end up sliding down a slope of increasingly fascistic consequences (for lack of a better expression at the moment) regarding human reproduction. What happens as the human genome becomes more and more understood, as a series of scientific advances bring having a baby closer to the realm of choosing a meal from a menu? And if it turns out there is a gene for homosexuality, for example? And couples start testing for that, and aborting because of the gene... Is that really so far-fetched? And imagine totalitarian states taking over control of reproduction. It seems like the stuff of wild science fiction. Yet, many see horrible realities already, even without the use of new technologies: China's efforts at demographic control, for example, or the obsession of having male descendants in some societies and the lengths some couples will go to make sure that happens. The church's position can seem cruel, but I think rather than dismiss it so automatically, we would do well to keep alive the debate. (The problem with the church, of course, is that for many of us it has little credibility when it comes to defending human rights.) Regardless, you don't have to identify with the church in order to be a skeptic regarding the direction we're headed in. Maybe, just maybe, some of these bioethical challenges will turn out to be just temporary; that is, maybe someday intelligent decisions regarding reproduction will be made before conception. We might make a modest start by getting serious about having systematic, high quality sex education. No kid moves beyond 7th grade, for example, without a solid understanding of basic reproductive biology and methods of birth control. Reading, writing, and arithmetic. And sex ed. And not of the abstinence only kind. Just a thought.
One of the more predictable, sadly, genres of social commentary in our contemporary culture is the survey or study that proves yet again how illiterate Americans are. In fact, the results are so predictable and so of the can-you-believe-that nature that I usually receive them with more than a little salt. This morning's news brings another example, this one a just-taken survey by the Pew Foundation on Americans' familiarity with current politics. Couldn't be more simple: three straight forward questions. Only 18% scored a perfect three for three. When I saw the headline, then read that only 44% of NPR listeners scored a perfect 3, I thought, geeze, must be interesting or tricky questions. Ok, so here's the quiz: 1) which political party has the majority in the House of Representatives? 2) Who is the Secretary of State? 3) Who is the Primer Minister of Britain? I thought, you've got to be kidding! Not even half of Harper's readers (or of the New Yorker, for that matter!) got all three right! (And it's not as if Gordon Brown had just taken over last week, and in recent days he's been in the headlines a lot with his yearning for a leadership role in redefining the parameters of international finance.) How have we reached this condition? Should I be surprised? Is there a silver lining? Does it matter? Regarding the last question, I do believe it matters very much indeed. Dictators have a much easier time of it when those they hope to dictate to are ignorant. Dictation is a one way street, without dialogue. One way to look at it is this: are there any world leaders whose name could be substituted for that of Gordon Brown that would improve the quiz results? Do you know who the Canadian Prime Minister is? How about the President of Mexico? (Canada, Stephen Harper; Mexio, Felipe Calderon, in the photo above.)
Wow! When it got to 7-0 I admit I pretty much gave it up for lost. Who wouldn't? Indeed it was magical. So many incredible moments. David found his wood. They all did. Coco's at bat to end the eighth was truly memorable. When Drew came up in the ninth I confess it's not what I was really hoping for–I'm always rooting for extra innings, endless extra innings. So we got the next best thing, simply one of the most incredible games in the history of baseball! Thank you, mlb.com! More drama to come. No use being a pessimist with these Sox. As the kids might say: that is so last millennium. Speaking of pessimism, on the 'rest' night, Asun and I went to a very interesting book presentation, this one a gathering to celebrate a collection of interviews with people who were close to the Rumanian writer Cioran, the radical pessimist. Antonio presented the editors, his friends Carlos Cañeque and Maite Grau. There was a nice dinner after the event, and it turned out to be a good opportunity to share a lot of laughs with some novelists. A lot of Cioran's writing was aphoristic in nature. Here are a few examples, translations from the original French (yes, Cioran wrote in French after settling in exile in Paris in 1937), taken from the web: "Consciousness is nature's nightmare." "Existing is plagiarism." Here's an uplifting one: "By all evidence we are in the universe to do nothing." And says I: so what's wrong with doing nothing? But last night, even before the game got started, was for optimists: Asun and I went to an event with another exiled writer, this time a reading by Uruguayan novelist and poet Cristina Peri Rossi. She settled in Barcelona in the early 1970s. I wasn't real familiar with her work. I had kind of a mixed reaction, but it was an enjoyable event, as Peri Rossi turns out to be a very funny woman. If Cioran had gone to NY instead of to Paris, if Peris Rossi had gone anywhere but Barcelona, the resulting cosmic chaos would have been unbearable, and no doubt the Sox would have lost last night. But they didn't. Let's play two (more)!
Yesterday after finishing with work I went to a book presen- tation at the new FNAC store. Juvenal was presenting Manuel Alcántara's most recent anthology. I got there late, but in time to listen to Alcántara reflect on his life (he's 80) then read some poems. Nothing really special about the event itself, which was very well attended, but it was nice to be able to say hello to Manolo. (Speaking of older-young-at-heart poets, Pablo was in town last week and we were able to have lunch together; as always, a wonderful gathering.) Last night I also had the opportunity to meet Manuel Pimentel, a former government minister who decided to engage his interest in poetry a few years ago, after he left the government; he was there as the publisher of the anthology. Last year I translated twelve of Alcantara's sonnets. Here's one of my favorites, which the poet recited last night:
I search for myself in time badly spent
and in calendars whose pages are old,
but the scent of my soul has gone cold,
and the old man I knew he up and went.
The one I was just a one time event?
I want news of myself, news to unfold
the layers of myself, these words of gold
to relieve oblivion, my one lament.
The small adventure of this boat that sails
blue seas and feels the force of big strong gales:
yet no mermaid with any answer sings.
My wine and questions are in the same cup.
Pains and doubts. Everything piles up.
And God's answer is to not say a thing.
We're all searching. The Red Sox too. They just got beat badly again. The lost autumn of Big Papi? He's got one more chance to find it. They all do. I hope today isn't my last chance. I don't think it will be. (First I've got to figure out the 'it' I'm supposed to be looking for; actually this life as search idea isn't really my cup of tea. I just keep rooting for extra innings, endless, infinite extra innings. And it's softball, none of this three strikes and you're out nonsense. Damn, with those rules I'd have been gone long, long ago.) We had a funny family meeting last night: Asun and I here in Malaga video talking to Alma and Cristina, who were rather comically seated in one of the little campus information booths where Alma sometimes works, and Daniela in Madrid participating via speaker phone. A couple of times we had to stop so Alma could give directions to campus visitors. And at times there were several conversations going on at once: travel plans, help with homework, just catching up, boyfriends, etc. Today's word is: Discombobulated. (In the photo, Manuel Alcántara.)
Several months ago I exchanged a series of emails with an old childhood friend. We had not been in touch for decades. In one note the friend expressed apprecia- tion towards my openness, declaring that she, too, considered herself "basically an open book." (Somewhat ironically, I learned very little of my old friend in the four or five messages I received.) I came across the expression reading the press this morning, and I guess that got me thinking a little bit about this metaphor. Perhaps, too, it's because yesterday I read something about another of these destructive, tell-all biographies, this one about John Lennon. In any case, I certainly do not consider myself "an open book". It is one thing to share deeply felt emotions, or to be open regarding certain realities that condition one's life in important ways. This has little to do with revealing all the personal details that traditionally, and for good reason, belong to the realm of the private. Indeed, it seems to be the case often that those who are most eager to hand out the intimate minutiae of their personal lives in some kind of weird groping for "sincerity", are too often really just tossing out the garbage. And an empty garbage can is just that, empty. Maybe our culture suffers confusion regarding the nature of personal dignity. Let me clarify: I don't mean to disparage the rich inner lives of others, not at all. I too value all the little details I hold inside--thoughts, fears, hopes, fantasies, delusions, etc. But some of it would be garbage to others, and as a common courtesy, I try to act as a good filter. Open books can be a dangerous thing; there may be pages that are better left unread, and not really because of the content of those pages, but rather because of their capacity to distract from getting to the truly important pages. Pardon the insistence with this tedious metaphor (which is almost always used in a complementary way: so and so is an open book, isn't he/she wonderful.) Good editing, that's what we need! But what do I know? (Not much!) In any case, now this has got me thinking about Whitman, about the distances between the voice of Song of Myself and the voice of the old man who lived in Camden; the distance between the poet and the man. (By the way, the Whitman Archive website is a marvelous treasure!)
Perhaps no painting impacts me more than Goya's "Perro semi- hundido". No work of art expresses desamparo, abandon- ment, and complete solitude as does this master- piece. It is also absolutely original, a painting without any evident models. Fellow Aragonese painter Antonio Saura described it as the most beautiful painting in the world. I tend to agree, but it is a highly unsettling and disturbing beauty. Goya broke the mold with this one, painting with tremendous liberty and innovation. He was way ahead of his contemporaries. The painting can be seen in the Prado, along with the others in the pinturas negras series, in its totality one of Goya's great accomplishments, and really a defining work of modern art. The poor dog is not just alone, he looks to have been coldly abandoned. He is sinking in an undefinable landscape, enveloped in a strange ochre-tinted light, perhaps on the very cusp of disappearing definitively. He is looking up to his left, but within the boundary of the painting there is no suggestion of rescue. And there is no movement, the image is frozen in a moment of absolute anguish. A mirror? I feel drawn to the painting, fascinated by its unique strangeness, always wanting to understand how the poor dog got into this terrible predicament. Goya, unsentimental realist that he is, offers no clues, no explanations. I thought of this painting last week when Waldo rather suddenly injured (reinjured?) his back and let out a howl that expressed frightening, unbearable pain. That was a bad night, but we got through it. Thankfully, Waldo's situation was far from hopeless. I got him to the vet and he received a shot, then a course of antinflamatories and he was as good as new in no time. Waldo is drawn to the beach, loves the energy of the wind and waves, but usually won't touch the water. The other day he was off his leash and wandered towards the shore, where the beach drops down rather abruptly. For a moment, all I could see was his head against a perspectiveless landscape. Goya. Oh no. Frightening! It was only a moment.
A couple of weeks ago I joked about young Red Sox rookie Jed Lowrie needing some rein- carnation work. He stunk it up pretty good in September at the plate (his fielding has been consistently good, better than you could expect from a rookie), but boy did he come through last night! How about that–the kid gets the game winning hit with two out in the bottom of the ninth. He didn't exactly tear the cover off the ball, but a hit's a hit, and with it the Sox move on to Tampa Bay. Should be fun. (And it's fun in Malaga–Asun arrived yesterday. Superlative. Lucky me. Wow, not being alone really does change my whole outlook. As Ortega y Gasset said, "I am me and my circumstances". The circumstances just got exponentially better.) These long waits they have come up with between post season baseball games are excessive, but in this case I'm not complaining–wanting to see the games really messes up my sleep routine. And sleep is important. So now I get a break for a few days. In getting this photo of Lowrie, I noticed that someone has already entered last night's hit in Wikipedia. The game just ended a few hours ago! Poor Angel fans. But the fans are happy in Malaga: the basketball team destroyed Real Madrid on Saturday and on Sunday the soccer team, back in first division, beat Huelva 0-4. Someone I'd really like to have lunch with: Roger Angell.
Valdes Leal (In Ictu Oculi)
Another great trip to Sevilla. We had beautiful weather and the visits went well. As always, I enjoyed the Fine Arts Museum tremendously. I never get tired of seeing their collection, which is truly outstanding in terms of Murillo, Zurbaran, and Valdes Leal. They even have a couple of Velazquez. The museum is housed in a former convent and the 'chapel', which is really very large, features, quite appropriately, the Murillos, including the giant Inmaculada where the main altar would be. The building was recently restored, and the cupola and ceilings are just spectacular. Leaving that space I was reminded of Stendhal's description of his aesthetic overload during a visit to Florence. He describes it in quite physical terms, as if he had suffered some kind of brief attack, between illness and ecstasy. Although my heart rate stayed perfectly within the normal range, I did feel something akin to an adrenaline rush as I admired Murillo's stunning canvases. Then Valdes Leal ruined it. It's impossible he wasn't familiar with Murillo's Inmaculadas, of which there are dozens. How could he, knowing the precedent, paint the ugliest Assumption I've ever seen? He must have had some kind of perverse streak in him. In his famous paintings in the Hospital de la Caridad, where he represents the Vanitas theme, his dark vision makes perfect sense. But to translate that to the Assumption is just goofy. Looking at Murillo's Virgin, I'm thinking, "Beam me up, Mary!", but Valdes Leal's Virgin is ugly and awkward, as are the dumb angels trying to push her up into a heaven that hardly looks inviting. They look like they're thinking Mary needs to go on a diet. And Jesus? He doesn't look too happy. (You can't see him in the reproduction above, but he's there, looking a little stern.) What's the deal? What kind of a son doesn't get happy seeing that his mother is about to visit? Oh, and it's not as if she were just dropping in from next door. Looking at his paintings, I get the feeling Valdes Leal just didn't like people. Why did he always choose ugly models? Murillo's models are invariably beautiful and he treats them with delicate generosity, always emphasizing their natural grace, a neat trick, since often Murillo is situating his Marys in decidedly unearthly spaces. But they are real people, usually young women, and sometimes mere adolescents. Murillo places heaven in the unique beauty of the female face. Zurbaran's Marys, on the other hand, while endearing, seem much less like living, breathing women. More beauty: after dinner Saturday night eleven students, Manolo and I went to see the contemporary guitarist Cañizares. It was part of Seville's big biennial flamenco festival, but it really wasn't flamenco. Maybe you could call it fusion. Doesn't matter, it was wonderful. He was joined by a second guitarist, a percussionist, and, briefly, a dancer who was very, very good.
Thursday was a most pleasant day, even though it didn't start that way. Sometimes the alarm clock goes off at the wrong moment, and that was the case yesterday. I must have been in a deep slumber, because that annoying jingle my cell phone makes really startled me when it went off at 5:45. I don't always get up that early, but the Red Sox were on and I wanted to see the end of the game. A slow game: I sat down at the computer and it was only the top of the sixth. Beautiful. I was just getting my eyes to stop watering and, crack, Jason Bay smashes a two run homer. Then in the bottom half of the inning Lester boy strikes out the side. And so it went. I go to the terrace and the sun is just coming up, and for the first time of the season, it's rising over the water. Wonderful. I'm sipping my coffee, thinking a little about the Sox and feeling very placid and benevolent, so benevolent, in fact, I decide it's time to really cleanse myself completely: I'm going to forgive the big goat from 1986. No, not Bill, middle name omitted, Buckner. I forgave him years and years ago. I'm talking about John No Brain McNamara. Buckner will always be the poster boy for that historical meltdown, and he of course was the one who blew the routine play, a gaffe that happens to be, for his eternal misfortune, antonomasia for little kid mistake: Billy baby, you stop letting the ball roll through your legs when you're 10 or 11 years old! But poor old Bill should never have been out there in that situation. All through the 1986 season, when the Sox were ahead in the late innings, Dave Stapleton had been sent in as a defensive replacement. So why did McNamara change the routine? He wants the old veteran out on the field for the celebration. Get real! (Compare that to Francona's recent explanation of why he left Timlin off the roster: yah, Mike's a great guy, and it's tough, but this is about putting the best team possible out there. You tell the guys the truth straight up and that's that. We're professionals.) And McNamara pinch hitting for Clemens and sending up Greenwell, leaving Don Baylor on the bench. Don Baylor and his 31 home runs that year! Greenwell was a rookie! McNamara, the bum. The Bum! But yesterday, the sun was coming up beautifully and I thought, it's ok. John is no doubt a nice guy and I'd even like to meet him and I would no longer have any bad thoughts. It's gone. All gone. And so I'd like to meet Buckner, too, poor guy. And while I'm at it, I'd like to meet Bob Stanley, and Mookie Wilson, and even, I'm going out on a limb here, Calvin Schiraldi. It's all ok. But I don't want to meet Dick Stockton. Is there a worse baseball announcer out there? I just heard him durng the ninth inning of the Dodgers/Cubs game. Truly awful. That too, is ok.
Daniela and I have a little routine we enjoy. Well, I do, anyway. Question: What's the deal baby-ooo? Answer: Today's the deal, daddy-ooo. Indeed, today is the deal. (Thanks, Jim.) Sometimes it's hard to stay focused on the present, but as I get older and short term memory becomes more of a challenge, this gets a little easier. Not serious: I don't think I have age-related memory problems. Yet. Recommended reading: read the debate on bilingual education in the Times "Education Watch" section. This debate has been going on for decades now. To me, the issue is not really English Immersion vs. Bilingual Education. Either can work. It's quite simple: you need quality, motivated teachers. Kids will succeed, or fail, regardless of the educational philosophy guiding the instruction, as long as they have good teachers and involved parents. Yes, we do need more money for education. But even more than money, we need a cultural and political shift. Education has to be at the top of the agenda. Always. More recommended reading: Fortunata y Jacinta, by Benito Perez Galdos. It's a biggie, but well worth the effort. We just read this in our book group and everyone loved it. It's available in English (Fortunata and Jacinta).