Monthly Archives: December 2007

Before and After

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Sometimes it feels as if time stands still or passes by slowly without us knowing it. Then other times, we put time into perspective. That is what is nice (or cruel) about capturing time in images. Between the left and the right, there are twenty-three years.

The first shot was actually taken by my orthodontist. He wanted to do his own before and after shots to measure the improvement. I didn’t keep the pimple/puberty-stricken close-up from only two years later. Regardless, and I am not sure whether my dentist is to blame, I faired better as a younger person. Nevertheless, from an artistic stand point at least (thanks my “lady friend”), I’ll go with the latter image. And don’t let the shading fool you, I still have a full head of hair.

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The Vatican Croquet

My friend, the infamous Manuocho, has just come out with this video entitled “The Vatican Croquet”. I really don’t know what the video is all about, but I like it. Manuocho and I are thinking about joining forces in a unified effort to bring to life another compelling story: “The Portero”. I won’t give any of the details away at this point, but it might be big. It might be revolutionayr. It might never happen.

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Ali and Nino

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Contrary to what I might have said a few weeks ago, I finished Ali and Nino before the year’s end. Coincendentally, I started 2007 off with Samarkand that deals with 11th Century Persia but also briefly covers pre-World War I Iran, and ended the year with Ali and Nino that commences on the eve of World War I in Baku, Azerbaijan.

I used to have a friend who would also say after reading a book that it was great except for the last page, and actually, I would say the same thing for Ali and Nino. Regardless of the last page, it is a wonderful novel for anyone interested in Middle Eastern or European history. Azerbaijan is especially interesting as it falls on the fault line between Europe, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, and the novel does a great job of putting that threshold into prospective. It is also interesting is to see how much the world has changed since World War I and how much has not changed.

Finally, the author, Liv Nussmbaum (under the pen name Kurban Said), is a novel himself. Tom Reiss has recently published a biography about Nussmbaum, entitled The Orientalist – Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life.

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They Don’t Like Me

They don’t like me, I just know it . . . Actually, maybe they do or maybe they don’t. Does it really matter? They have to put up with me every day either way.
Today, I had my camera at work to take some photos for our upcoming Newsletter, so I decided to make a short video strutting around on the East Side of Alcobendas.

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El Retorno de Rose Superstar

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Después de mucho silencio sobre mi querida Rose Superstar, vuelvo a abrir esta sección con el paradero actual de nuestra crack. Al dejar el Barça por los problemas económicos y estructuarles del club que le obligaron a cerrar sus puertas al baloncesto femenino, Rose ha decidido pasar el año en el Don Piso de Girona. Además Ryan Air tiene vuelos directos a Girona y como es una ciudad muy bonita e interesante, ya me verá la Rose Superstar en el Palco en breve!

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Christmas in Madrid

Yesterday afternoon, we took a long walk through Madrid to look at the Christmas decorations. The Plaza Mayor’s Christmas market was full of the traditional Nativity Scene (called a Belén meaning Bethlehem) figurines, but there were also many other non-Christmas articles that could be purchased like Elvis wigs and other more Halloween-esque costumes. Don’t ask because I don’t have an answer.

Then we walked back towards the Puerta del Sol, down towards Cibeles, up to Colón, then towards the Glorieta de Bilbao, and finally to Chamberí. The streets were more crowded, almost unbearably so, than I have ever seen before either during navidades or any other time of the year.

As promised, I made this low-budget video to compete with Paris’ Christmas lights. Yes, that’s Elvis singing “If Everyday Was Like Chrismas”. I also snuck into the video two local images from local bars: hundreds of legs of Jamón and the typically Madrid snack of Bocadillos de Calamares (squid sandwiches).

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Recycled Post of the Week: The Faith of the Heretic

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Christmas time is here and that has its ups and downs. There is the mad race to finish off the year with the work-related and present-shopping stress. There is also all of the corporate and commercial pressure to make sure that we meet those aforementioned obligations. And for those of us who live abroad or far from our families, we can’t forget the Holiday season highway and airways traffic. It’s almost enough to forgoe of Christmas altogether.

It is almost a cliché that the Christmas spirit of the young saviour’s birth has been prostituted to corporations. For me, though, it is not the saviour’s birth that makes this time of year special. The more and more I think about it, Christianity as a religion has had little intrinsic value to offer. Christianity’s claims to be centered on forgiveness and sacrifice, on a new altruistic concept of love, and on a superior morality are simply unsustainable in history, scripture, philosophy or even in comparative religious studies. In that vain, I dedicate this Recycled Post of the Week to one I wrote in September 2006, entitled “Walter Kaufmann: The Faith of the Heretic“, about an essay of the same name written by Kaufmann precisely on how he rejected Christianity as a child. It is definitely worth a read.

Having said this, I do believe there is something very special about the way children feel during the season that justifies it all, and that is the special something that keeps getting me excited about Christmas every year. It’s not about presents, it’s about “having yourself a merry little Christmas” where those dear to us are near to us and our troubles seem far away. It is about everything that is special about being a child, a parent, or a grandparent. For the moment, I am still into being a child and a grandchild. It really is Christianity’s saving grace.

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