Wednesday, May 31, 2006

San Antonio is a Gemini!

No wonder I get along so well with San Antonio! The city of San Antonio is a Gemini, just like me!

My trip this past weekend (see below) was kind of a birthday present to myself. My birthday falls just at the start of Gemini. And even though on paper I could be a Taurus/Gemini cusp, in reality I am pure Gemini .... and so are a lot of my friends.

Not that we start out being friends because we're Geminis. We're drawn to each other, and then only later discover that we share the same crazy sign. Sometimes we even share the same birthday ...

So it was not all that suprising that my San Antonio weekend was filled with everything Gemini. At least half of the amigos electrónicos I met up with turned out to be Geminis. And appopriately enough, some even had double connections ... I walked by a sign for something called Gemini Ink, which I thought might be a printing company, and it turned out that it is a writers workshop ... at which one of the Geminis I met with teaches, and another one takes classes.

I even bought myself a charm bracelet with a Gemini charm ... and then turned on the TV to hear Kelly Ripa on "Live with Regis and Kelly" talking about how two of her three children are Geminis (which she accurately noted was like having a total of five children).

But the best was my last night in San Antonio, when I took the Riverboat cruise at twilight ... as we floated past the statue of Saint Anthony, I learned that San Antonio was named after St. Anthony because it was founded on St. Anthony's day, June 13.

So San Antonio is a Gemini ... that explains how it can have so many facets, so much creativity, so much energy, so much beauty, and a little bit of craziness thrown in. And maybe it starts to explain why I've always been drawn there.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

How to spend a perfect weekend in San Antonio (Forget the Alamo)

I am in my favorite city in the US, San Antonio ... I needed to recharge my batteries, and this is my charger of choice .... and wow, am I ever recargada!! Culture and connections have abounded, just what I needed to nourish my spirit and refresh my creative spark.

Skipping the traditional Alamo/Riverwalk sights, I spent Saturday visiting the Missions. One look at the picture above is all you need to see how close San Antonio still is to its Spanish roots ... one of the reasons I love it so much. I watched a very well done documentary at the Mission San José Visitors Center, Gente de Razón, on the history of the people of the missions. Maybe I'm just emotional these days, but it did bring tears to my eyes at the end when the narrator (singer/songwriter Tish Hinojosa) said, "I ask my daughter what she thinks happened to the Indians of the missions. She replies, "They're all dead, mamá. Then I tell her to go look in the mirror"....

Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure to meet with Trinidad Sánchez, Jr., a poet and a gentleman – and the first of several people I met this weekend who are amigos electrónicos, i.e., people with whom I'd been corresponding for quite some time by e-mail, but had not yet met in person. Not only did I have the chance to enjoy merienda with him, but he shared his poetry with me and even read me several of his poems as a Spanish guitarrist happened to be playing in the background. I told him that completely made my weekend (it did!) Please, please check out his new book, Jalapeño Blues, an incredibly wonderful, bilingual collection of poetry.

Then, on Saturday night, an unbelievable stroke of el destino gave me the opportunity to see my favorite singer, Patricia Vonne, who happened to be playing at the new Red Room in San Antonio. What a treat; I honestly couldn't believe my luck, and it was a fabulous show in a truly unique venue, complete with gauze covered ceiling and walls, red lights, flickering candles, low tables and lots of huge pillows and cushions on the floor (think of the inside of I Dream of Jeannie's bottle, and you'll be close). She did an acoustic show with just herself and her guitar player, and it was beyond wonderful.

And as for today, Sunday? I drove up to Austin and had the great, great pleasure of finally meeting up with Marisa Treviño, the brains and energy behind Latina Lista, which right now is "just" a blog (go read it and you'll see why I put "just" in quotes), but in the future will be a movement.

Topped off the day with a visit to the San Antonio Museum of Art, and then tomorrow I meet with yet another e-mail friend who is a writer and another source of energy and creative ideas.

With all these incredible, energetic, creative and fabulous people in the same orbit, I feel a critical mass growing .... there is something we are all supposed to do together, and I feel that pretty soon, we're going to start figuring out what it is!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Earl does it again!!

"My Name is Earl" wins the prize again for creative use of Spanish!

(And for one of the best inside jokes for Spanish speakers that I've ever seen on national television!)

For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, the two women characters are Joy, Earl's white-trash and hilariously over the top ex-wife, and Catalina, the kind and sexy maid who has befriended the main character, Earl, and his brother Randy.

Whenever Joy insults Catalina, Catalina responds with a stingingly nasty flurry of Spanish.

The thing is, though, what she's actually saying in Spanish isn't nasty at all! It's a "secret" message to the show's Spanish-speaking viewers. Scroll down two posts to see what Catalina first said to Joy (and to which Joy responded in her inimitable drawl, "I don't speak maid!").

Last night, my kids called me in excitedly to tell me that Catalina had done it again, and they wanted to know what she said. Thanks to Tivo, we rewound, and I saw Catalina saying in her most vicious tone to the exasperating Joy:

"Con esto concluímos nuestra primera temporada de 'Earl.' Estamos muy agradecidos con su acompañamiento. Anticipamos verlos el próximo otoño!"

Translated into English, she said:

"WIth this, we conclude our first season of 'Earl.' We thank you so much for joining us. We look forward to seeing you next fall!"

Well, I'll definitely be there next fall, not only to watch one of the funniest shows on TV, but to keep an eye out for more "mensajes secretos" for the Spanish-speaking public ...

¡Que viva Earl!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Chispa in the news again!

Click here to see a wonderful article about the filming of Chispa's second video, in Visalia, California! We travelled to the Central Valley to film the talented and dedicated young men in the program Sequoia Gateway.

My first video, La Chispa del Béisbol, was officially released in March. It's been featured at several major foreign language teaching conferences and is being used in classrooms across the United States.

For my second video, I went to Visalia, CA to film the absolutely incredible group of academically and athletically talented high school boys who are part of Sequoia Gateway, a program designed to help them get to college on soccer scholarships.

In most cases, these young men come from the crop-picking families of the Central Valley, and will be the first in their families to go to college.

The Sequoia Gateway program provides intensive soccer training, takes the kids to tournaments where college recruiters will see them, provides tutoring and college advising, takes them on college visits, and carries out character education workshops. With Sequoia Gateway's help, these young men plan to become engineers, architects, teachers, businessmen, and whatever other careers they have as their goal. And I have no doubt they will achieve their goals!

I highly encourage you to find out more about Sequoia Gateway by visiting their website. You will be as inspired and moved as I was when I first learned about this group, and as my husband, daughter and two sons were when they came out with me to Visalia.

In fact, my entire family helped out with the shoot, as you can see by the photo above! My daughter showed an incredible knack for picking just the right camera angle, my husband and older son were invaluable in connecting all those wires so that the sound would come out just right, and my younger son repeated his role from the first video as key grip and top production assistant!

The video is already generating a lot of excitement, even before it is completed. It is truly an amazing story, and I am so honored to be able to feature the leaders, coaches and participants of Sequoia Gateway so they can serve not only as teachers of language and culture, but as role models for young people around the country who are looking to achieve their dreams.

And I have to say that, given the tenor of the current immigration debate, I am so pleased to be able to put materials out into the world that celebrate the Spanish language and Latino cultures in the US.