Saturday, May 28, 2005

Chiquita, dame una cena

I love when Google tries to be helpful, especially in another language!

I am a Latin music junkie and have more CDs than I should probably admit to (and certainly more than comfortably fit in my shelves). Many of these CDs have been tracked down through detective work by yours truly, thanks to this common scenario:

I turn on a Latin radio station.

I hear a song that I've never heard before, and love it.

I anxiously wait for the announcer to mention the song title and/or artist at the end of the song.

It never happens.

All I can say is, por suerte existe el internet, because it is through web searching that I have been able to find all these songs! So my strategy now is this:

I turn on a Latin radio station.

I hear a song that I've never heard before, and love it.

I grab whatever envelope, napkin, parking ticket, or other scrap of paper is available in the front seat and scribble down as many lines from the song as I can (preferably while the car is not moving).

I go home and type the lines into Google. (If I don't do this right away, I will later find weird scraps of paper with odd Spanish phrases on them, and not be able to figure out what they mean....... thank you, perimenopausal amnesia!)

I find the artist, go to Amazon to check out the CD, and it joins the other CDs in my overflowing connection!

Today, though, was one of those days when Google was a little overly solicitous with its help. My search was for a catchy, definitely dated tune with the phrase chiquita, dame una señal.... a very fun song for my next fiesta. If you grew up with Latin music, you might immediately recognize this a song by Roberto Jordan (and later Cox) called Hazme una señal (I believe it's a cover of an English one -- "Just gimme some kind of sign"), but having led a Latin-music-deprived childhood, I needed Google to help me out on this. And help me out it did, so now that CD is winging its way to my sagging CD shelf.

But you know how Google sometimes thinks you couldn't possibly be searching for what you've typed in, and offers its helpful suggestions? This is indeed helpful when you've actually misspelled something. But it can be inadvertently humorous if you haven't, and the mistake is Google's.

Here's what Google wrote at the bottom of my search:

"Did you mean to search for 'chiquita, dame una cena?'"

Kind of changes the meaning of the song.... but maybe it could be a new hit for Roberto Jordan and/or for Cox, whose version is the catchiest. Are they still around? And are they hungry?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Las tres mamacitas

Las tres mamacitas Posted by Hello

My Three Muthas partners -- Martha and Nikki -- and I just launched our line of T-shirts for moms -- they're fun and funky shirts that say it all so moms don't have to.... Go to your room, Because I said so, What's the magic word, I need a time out..... A favorite at our first big sale this past weekend was the simple, yet universal, help....

We plan to add a Spanish line (What's Three Muthas in Spanish? las tres mamitas? las tres mamacitas?) and are looking for similar sayings that Spanish-speaking mamás always say to their kids. I've started an informal poll, and here are some of the suggestions we've gotten so far...

Pregúntale a tu papá

Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres

¡Cierra la boca!

¡cierra la puerta!


¡¡¡Ven acá ahorita!!!

¡Te amo! ¡Te Quiero! ¡Bechito!!

¿De quien es ese culito? ¡¡de Mami!!



¿Te cepillaste los dientes?

¿Estás sordo? ¿Como que hablo chino?

¡dije que no!

¡ya basta!


¡puchica vos! (new to me, but apparently what my Salvadoran friend's mom said all the time!)

If you have any great ideas, either for an English or Spanish camiseta, please pass them along -- if your idea is new to us, and we make it into a t-shirt, we'll send you the shirt for free!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Funny things that happen in the classroom

I always love it when a student tells me about a connection he or she made at home, between what we're learning in Spanish class and the real world. Sometimes they tell me about a trip they took or a restaurant they went to, where they were able to speak Spanish to someone there. Other times I hear about what they shared with their parents or babysitters. In fact, often I hear "My babysitter says you teach the wrong word for .....", which leads to a great discussion of regional differences in Spanish.

Sometimes, though, despite all the planning and teaching and reinforcing, the kids go home with their own version of things.

My favorite was after I had taught the song "Me duele la cabeza," which is a fun way to review parts of the body. The refrain is, "La cabeza, me duele la cabeza; la cabeza, llámale al doctor." (My head hurts, call the doctor.) It goes on to include the throat, the stomach, the back, and the feet. Lots of movement and lots of fun for the kids as they dance through the song and act out all the different body parts that hurt.

One of my younger students came back one day and said, "Señora Kunstadter, I told my parents about that song you taught us, la cerveza!!

I waited for the phone calls to come, but either the parents like Mexican beer as much as I do, or they have a head on their shoulders and knew that their child was reporting it wrong. Gracias a Dios for parents who take these things with a grain of salt! These days you can be served your cabeza on a platter for just about anything you do in the classroom.....and then you would really need that cerveza... o dos.... o tres!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Cubano, but with a Mexican/Puerto Rican/Spanish accent

I wonder if "The Mambo Kings" will ever be played by Cuban actors? In the 1992 film version, the two main characters, brothers Nestor and Cesar Castillo, were played by Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante. The pre-Melanie Antonio spoke all his lines with his native Castillian accent (and recited his English lines by learning them phonetically, since he didn't yet know English). Armand Assante, meanwhile, is New York-born, of Irish and Italian parents. I'm not quite sure what kind of accent he spoke his Spanish with, although he was so magnetic in the part that I didn't really care.

Now comes the stage version, and here's the latest from Yahoo Entretenimiento:

11 de mayo de 2005

Dolencia obliga a Billy Dee Williams a dejar "The Mambo Kings"

(AP) - NUEVA YORK (AP) _ El actor Billy Dee Williams se retiró de la obra en preparación "The Mambo Kings", un musical programado para estrenarse en agosto en Broadway, debido a una dolencia agravada de la cadera.

Marc Thibodeau, vocero del musical, dijo el martes que en breve se anunciará un reemplazo para Williams, de 68 años, quien tenía previsto interpretar el papel de Fernando Pérez, dueño del club nocturno en la obra teatral.

"The Mambo Kings" relata la historia de hermanos Néstor y César Castillo, quienes dejan La Habana en la década de 1950 para ingresar al temerario mundo de los clubes nocturnos de Nueva York. El superastro mexicano Jaime Camil interpretará a Néstor, mientras Esai Morales dará vida a papel de César.

El reparto también incluye a la ganadora del Grammy latino Albita y a Justina Machado, una participante regular en la serie de televisión "Six Feet Under".

El musical, basado en la novela ganadora de un Pulitzer "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love", de Oscar Hijuelos, se estrenará el 18 de agosto en el Teatro Broadway. Las presentaciones de preestreno empiezan el 20 de julio. "The Mambo Kings" será llevada posteriormente al Teatro Golden Gate de San Francisco, del 19 de mayo al 24 de junio. La obra fue llevada al cine en 1992, con Antonio Banderas y Armand Assante en los papeles estelares.

OK, so we have (or had) Billy Dee Williams as the Latino club owner, Mexican Jaime Camil as Néstor, Mexican-American Esai Morales as César (somehow, I suspect I'm not going to care if he doesn't speak with a Cuban accent, though....what is it about that character, and the men who play him?), and Puerto Rican-American Justina Machado from Six Feet Under. Talk about a pan-Latino/Americano cast!

I'll be interested to see who pulls off the best Cuban accent, or if they even try. Sounds like a great show, though, and worth a ticket! Imagine being transported back to those Latin nightclubs of the 1950s.... I thought the movie did a great job of that (who can forget Tito Puente in that part?), and I can only imagine that on Broadway, you'll feel like you're right in the middle of that pulsating music and those swirling skirts. I know I'll be there!

Monday, May 09, 2005

De regreso

Lamentablemente, I have been remiss in posting for almost three months now.... but it's time to get back in the swing, since so many things are happening.

In linguistic news, I was dismayed to learn that a school in Westchester County, NY had sent home two different versions of a school notice, one in English and one in Spanish. Unfortunately, the Spanish version contained two sentences not included in the English version: one sentence saying that all bodies and clothing were required to be clean, and another warning about involvement with gangs. Unbelievable.

This is one of the reasons I am working to create culturally authentic Spanish and bilingual videos for kids and teens, highlighting U.S. Latinos. The Hispanic cultures here are so rich and diverse, with so much history and so much life, color, and chispa! Yet these stereotypes still exist. It's time to celebrate and honor the Latino cultures and Spanish language that contribute so much to the sofrito of life in the United States.

On other fronts, in addition to making strides - slowly but surely - on my video project, I also published an interview with Soraya (1994 Latin Grammy winner) in Cuerpo Magazine, as well as a book review. I have a new article on "The Soul of Bilingual Music," featuring Michele Greene, in the July/August issue. You may remember Michele from her Emmy-nominated role as Abby on LA Law, but she is also a bilingual singer/songwriter (her mother is Mexican/Nicaraguan), as well as an author and film producer. Talk about doing it all!

Still collecting essays for the anthology, The Bilingual Soul, about the split personality/dual soul that we feel as we move from one language and culture to another. I know I am a completely different person when I speak Spanish, and I know I'm not the only one! It's so interesting to see what others are writing on this topic. It is so personal and individual, yet so universal at the same time.

I am also working with my wonderfully crazy and creative friends, Nikki and Martha, on two new endeavors, both under our new company, Three Muthas. We got together to do a funny but real documentary about the psychic experiences of suburban moms, and ended up with a hilarious clothing and t-shirt line too.

I guess I'm a little ADD -- it runs in the family -- although I prefer to think of it as multi-faceted! But I'm loving all these activities and working with great people. Thanks to each and every one of them, especially my Chispa Circle!