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Friday, March 31, 2006

Scientists ask: why does music exist?

Extracts from
Caveman Crooners May Have Helped Early Humans Survive
by Sharon Begley for the Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2006

In Steven Mithen's imagination, the small band of Neanderthals gathered 50,000 years ago around the caves of Le Moustier, in what is now the Dordogne region of France, were butchering carcasses, scraping skins, shaping ax heads -- and singing.

One of the fur-clad men started it, a rhythmic sound with rising and falling pitch, and others picked it up, indicating their willingness to cooperate both in the moment and in the future, when the group would have to hunt or fend off predators. The music promoted "a sense of we-ness, of being together in the same situation facing the same problems," suggests Prof. Mithen, an archaeologist at England's Reading University. Music, he says, creates "a social rather than a merely individual identity." And that may solve a longstanding mystery.

Music gives biologists fits. Its ubiquity in human cultures, and strong evidence that the brain comes preloaded with musical circuits, suggest that music is as much a product of human evolution as, say, thumbs. But that raises the question of what music is for.

Back in 1871, Darwin speculated that human music, like bird songs, attracts mates. Or, as he put it, prelinguistic human ancestors tried "to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm."

"Music was shaped by sexual selection to function mostly as a courtship display," Geoffrey Miller, of the University of New Mexico, argued in a 2001 paper.

Studies in neuroscience and anthropology, however, suggest that music did help human ancestors survive, particularly before language. In "The Singing Neanderthals," which Harvard University Press is publishing today, Prof. Mithen weaves those studies into an intriguing argument that "language may have been built on the neural underpinnings of music."

He starts with evidence that music is not merely a side effect of intelligence and language, as some argue. Instead, recent discoveries suggest that music lays sole claim to specific neural real estate.

Consider musical savants. Although learning-disabled or retarded, they have astounding musical abilities. One savant could hardly speak or understand words, yet he played flawlessly a simple piano melody from memory despite hearing it only once. In an encore, he added left-hand chords and transposed it into a minor key.

"Music," says Prof. Mithen, "can exist within the brain in the absence of language," a sign that the two evolved independently. And since language impairment does not wipe out musical ability, the latter "must have a longer evolutionary history."

If music is indeed an innate, stand-alone adaptation, then evolution could have nursed it along over the eons only if it helped early humans survive. It did so, Prof. Mithen suggests, because "if music is about anything, it is about expressing and inducing emotion."

Music can manipulate people's emotional states (think of liturgical music, martial music or workplace music). Happy people are more cooperative and creative. By fostering cooperation and creativity among bands of early, prelanguage human ancestors, music would have given them a survival edge. "If you can manipulate other people's emotions," says Prof. Mithen, "you have an advantage."

Music also promotes social bonding, which was crucial when humans were more often hunted than hunter and finding food was no walk on the savannah. Proto-music "became a communication system" for "the expression of emotion and the forging of group identities," argues Prof. Mithen.

Because music has grammar-like qualities such as recursion, it might have served an even greater function. With music in the brain, early humans had the neural foundation for the development of what most distinguishes us from other animals: symbolic thought and language.

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For those doing their taxes.

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Telenovela Alborada, #29

This is a recap of the Univision telenovela Alborada. In order to read the whole post, you click "read the rest" at the bottom of this summary!

If you are new, please visit the recaps in ORDER - they are listed to the right under a picture of Doña Juana and Modesta. See the bottom of this post for more information.

My guest re-cappers and I, plus a few more generous souls, are considering continuing this project into the future, but on a different blog. We need a catchy title for our new blog, the only one on the web where telenovelas are recapped and discussed in English. Do you have an idea?

Wednesday: Ada finds it hard to believe that Diego and Luis are brothers! (Both are now supposed to be sons of the former count, Don Carlos.) She jokes with Rafael the stuffed boy, calling him "usted" and "condedito" (the little Count). She calls Luis handsome and a good person; her opinion of him has changed because he behaves well and loves Rafael. Hipólita: "I'm glad that, no matter what happens, Rafael can count on a father who loves him and will provide for him." "What do you mean, no matter what happens"??!


Marina receives the blessings and hugs of Isabel, Sara, and Victoria. Francisco's demand of a hacienda in his own name comes up. Isabel is furious: "It isn't fair caray caray!" but Sara and Victoria don't care, they have enough to give him a hacienda. Marina says Andrés should decide.

Wearing our favorite hat, Cristóbal rides home where Isabel is expounding on Luis's being the son of Carlos. Cristóbal doesn't think her "proof" (Juana's tears) holds much water. Still - Luis looks like Carlos, while Diego has the eyes of Doña Juana.

Victoria to her mother, Sara: "Why you want to see Diego?" "To see if he looks like Aurora." "Some kids look like neither parent." V still thinks Luis is Carlos's bastard. "If he's a bastard of Carlos, I'll have to revise the opinion I've had of Carlos through the years - that he was noble and responsible. There has to be another explanation." [They all must all be tired of acting so stupid about this. -- Ed.]

Felipe wants to see if Diego really believes Luis to be dead - he proposes breaking the business partnership and watching the reaction. "If he's sure you're dead, he won't accept my demand - and if Juana accepts your being replaced, then she's guilty too." "Why does he want to kill me?" Marcos thinks it's for money. Felipe says Luis better write a will. "I'll leave everything to Hipólita and Rafael. I also want you to put in some bequests." Looks fondly at Felipe and Marcos.

Modesta thinks Juana should tell at least part of the truth; it's absurd to deny Luis's parentage when he looks so much like his father. Juana is crying again, wanting Luis to have a proper Christian tomb. "What if he's in the morgue?" "Luis is so well known, if anybody had found him we'd know." "Well, then, did they throw him in the lake? I ask the Virgin for mercy, because I don't dare ask my brother, he'd never give it." It's a little late for this, Juana.

Decorously, fully clothed in bed, C&C think it's ridiculous and dangerous for H&L to run off together, even though they're desperate. Cris says it would be very difficult for Antonio to get a divorce, even if he wanted to. Hipólita could be charged with adultery. "But if we all testify that Rafael is not her son?" "We would swear falsely in front of God?" "You think God wouldn't understand?

Antonio comes to discuss the new job with Diego. Diego gives a long, long list of things Antonio would be in charge of "because business bores me." "How about Luis, I'm still worried about his return." "I told you not to worry, I have the right to a substitute administrator - and if he comes back, I have the right to keep you on, at least for my part of the business. Don't you trust me?" "Yes, but I don't trust Luis." Diego sends Mal out of the room and says "Don't tell anybody, but Luis won't be back because he isn't one of us. We made a deal we wouldn't tell anybody and would let him keep his name if he left and never came back." "And he accepted? .. and what about the money he has invested in the partnership?" "He'll withdraw it little by little, not all, just part." "And won't he be back to see his son?" "I doubt it, he never cared for that squirt, he just pretended so he could get into Hipólita's pantaloons, and when she went back to you he lost interest. So are you gonna sign?"

I guess so, because the next scene Antonio is happily and energetically telling Hipólita how much he will learn, and how much salary he'll get, as administrator. He says he'll visit all the business locations and burbles happily about vanilla. She mentions the possibility of Luis returning, and he parrots back the story Diego fed him and tenderly tells her he's sorry for her, because she still has affection for a wrong guy like Luis.

Hipólita is now convinced Diego ordered the murder. She tells Ada she's afraid for Antonio, who has been kindly and well-behaved. "Then tell him!" "Luis says I can't."

Modesta is back from jail. "I had to conslole Gasca because he's afraid and the trial is coming up tomorrow." "What will we do, are you sure your plan is going to work?"

Marina tells Andrés her mom and grandmother agreed to give Francisco a hacienda, but he suggests Francisco be not the owner but the administrator. Then: "I don't know how I'm going to feel about marrying such a rich woman. And I can't get over what a jerk I was. I love you so much. Can I kiss you?" It's a nice kiss.

Francisco is furious to hear: "Marina and I are willing to put you in charge of a hacienda." "As your employee?" "No, as my father." "And I'd have to consult you about every little thing?" "No, you could behave as if it were yours." "But it won't be?" "No."

Francisco flounces out and complains to Asuncion: he had things all worked out with Sara and Victoria that he would have a hacienda in his name, and now his lousy son has wrecked it. "Las Tunas wasn't yours, and you were happy." "The Guevaras owned that - Andrés will own this, it's different." "You never stopped reproaching me for not being a virgin, but with Marina it doesn't matter?" "She isn't pregnant, and you were carrying that misbegotten Hipólita." "Whom you were willing to install as a rich man's lover so you could live off her." He almost hits her.

Luis tells Carmela, at the farm, that his pain is receding faster than expected. He asks how she's doing. "I think about Martin every day but I'm resigned to the will of God." "I haven't had a chance to tell you I'll never forget him." "Thanks, and *I* want to tell *you* that I felt so much pain at the death of my son, I had to blame it on somebody..." "... and you chose Hipo -- but we were all guilty, me first, because I should have told Martin from the beginning, and I'm sorry." She says maybe nobody is to blame.

Asunción visits Juana. She hasn't been at the Guevara's for a long time. She says Andres and Marina are marrying. "I'm surprised your husband didn't seek something better." "The dowry is insuperable (heh), her mother and grandmother have tons of money." Juana is struck to hear the names of Sara and Victoria come up again. They decry Francisco's deterioration - and blackmail - and drinking. "Men are a disaster." Juana tries to get info from Asunción about how much Catalina and Cristóbal know. Asunción lies, badly.

Mirtha is telling Sara about Esperanza, the love potion, Diego, the baby, etc. "The rich never go public with their sins." They discuss the fire on the chalana and Mirtha is struck to hear that "Diego," miraculously saved by an old man who took him to the river's mouth, has a burned leg. "Was Don Luis also in that fire?" (One step closer...)

Felipe rides up (damn he looks good on that horse). Diego is woken. "So early?" "It's not so early, Excellency." Modesta toddles through and reports to Juana on Felipe's arrival with his stack of papers. "Get me dressed quickly." Juana wonders if Asunción knows something, she seemed nervous. "All of Cuencas knows something."

Disingenuously, Juana asks Felipe for news of Luis. "There isn't any, but I'm here on his behalf to discuss business with Diego." Diego arrives. Felipe has instructions from Luis. "When did he give them?" "Before his trip." "And where is he supposed to have gone?" "To the capitol."

At Felipe's news, Juana and Diego gnash their teeth in tandem. "Break the partnership! No way!" Felipe: "It's what he wanted, and he gave me the power to act on his behalf." "Right now it can't be done, and his money can't be withdrawn either." "Those were his instructions." Diego: "Have him come and tell me to my face." Juana: "It will cause Diego a lot of trouble if Luis withdraws his money, better to wait." "Sorry, Doña Juana, but those were his instructions." Again Diego says slyly, "Well, have him come tell me himself."

Felipe leaves and Juana asks Diego: "Don't you understand how serious this is? Since there is no declaration of Luis's death, Felipe has the right to do this. If they take their money and break the partnership, we'll be in ruin." "Well, my clever request that Luis come in person buys us some time to think of something, not that I have anything in mind ... Something will come up."

Diego tells her about hiring Antonio and again she hits the roof. "Do you want the whole world to know Luis is dead? When he doesn't come back they'll be suspicious that you knew from the start! Why are you so impulsive?" "Everything has been done in a cool and calculated manner! So don't worry, ma, and you should rest, because you don't look so good. And by the way, are you dealing with Gasca?"

Antonio visits Perla to tell the good news about his new employment and give her the monthly allowance. "It's enough for you to live well, and to hire somebody to help in the house and keep you company." He burbles about vanilla. He tells about Luis's journey, and that he himself will be on business trips and looking at the vanilla plantation. Burbles more about vanilla. [Dang, now *I* want a vanilla plantation. -- Ed.]

Marcos visits Perla with a rough and mysterious air. Walks right in. She says: "I hear your boss is on a trip." "Antonio tell you that? I just saw him walk out of here. He must be a very special client." "You gonna take this gossip to Hipo?" "No." They go over the Guevara gossip. He lies that Esperanza was never pregnant. She says Antonio is a good lover and she's falling for him. "Now I'm his alone. He understands me and treats me like a lady." "He maintains you?" "Now who you going to tell?" "Nobody, thanks for the water. Can I come to visit, with no special intentions?" "As long as you know you're not my type, and I'm exclusive, come when you like."

Happy campesino music as Isabel, Hipólita, Rafael and Ada come to the farm to visit Luis. Isabel talks at Luis and Hip about his being Carlos's son. The only new thing is Isabel's comment: "I don't know where that wretch Diego came from. Maybe *he* was the one plucked out of nowhere." Hipólita tells Luis that in time he'll get used to his status as bastard - she's lived with it all her life. "But I want to know who I am! What hurts is the lying - for more than 30 years I was Juana's son, now it turns out not to be true! You, at least, knew the truth (of your being illegitimate) from the beginning. I've been living a lie." She flatters and nuzzles him.

She says again" I'm worried for Antonio and want to warn him - he's a good man." "Have you told him anything?" "No, I promised not to." Luis doesn't want people to know he's alive until he's determined whether the murder attempt was Diego's.

Thursday: Felipe takes Luis's instructions (to dissolve the partnership and "retire his capital") to Malaquías. "Here's the power of attorney, look it over and see if it's in order, and here are our account lists, compare them to the ones you have." Malaquías hadn't heard about any of this but has a note that Juana wants to see him - he wants to put off this discussion till afterwards. Felipe: "They may oppose it, but if they don't agree we're going to court."

Luis apologizes to Hipólita again for boinking her in the dark in Santa Rita. "I swear I didn't intend to. When you called to me, I kissed you so the guy outside wouldn't hear. I began to feel something I never felt before, soon I realized I had a special woman in my arms, sincere and spontaneous... and as for you - you had no doubts that I was Antonio?" [One has to wonder - Antonio is quite a bit softer and rounder than Luis - Ed.] "I thought you were a 'different' Antonio [Hee hee - Ed.] and after that I didn't think any more."

"I'm not irresponsible, I swear - I'm so sorry I hurt you, and I bless fate that I found you again. Are you sorry it happened?" "I wish it had happened differently, but when I think of Rafael, I feel that night was a gift from God." "For me, this whole voyage has been the best thing in my life. I found my woman, across such a great distance, and I have my son. I swear to God, I'll love you till my death ... and I desperately want to make love to you." Nuzzle.

Antonio runs into Felipe leaving Malaquías's office. "I thought you went with Luis." "No, I stayed behind to do some business for him." "Then it's true he's not coming back?" "Who told you that, Diego? Well, I really can't say."

Antonio asks Malaquías what Felipe came for, but doesn't get an answer. "Is there a problem?" "Oh, no, but I'm hurrying out just now to see Doña Juana." "When can I visit the properties? I want to leave as soon as possible."

Juana is playing the harpsichord when Modesta arrives to report that Luis's body is not in the morgue. Juana then tells Malaquías: "Diego insists on hearing the news from Luis personally." "But Felipe has valid papers and threatens to go to court." "It's your job to protect the Count's interests - don't let this happen." Malaquías says he'll try, and says Antonio wants to visit the properties so he can take administrative control. "Don't tell him about this." "He already saw Felipe, but I just told him blah blah blah." "Send somebody with him." "Last time Gasca went..."

Antonio gets a note - he can leave tomorrow. He asks Andrés if he'd like to go along - Andrés says sure, it's his job. "Even though it's for a month? And with your wedding coming up?" Andrés says he's worried about marrying a rich woman but is happy with Marina and hopes God will send children quickly. Antonio: "Children ... I'd like a son too..."

In the square Perla tells a friend she has a great new protector, sweet and delicate. The friend deduces that he's married with children. "Just one, and it's not his." "Do you use protection?" "Of course!" "Because if you get pregnant, your luck might change..."

Modesta has visited the jail so often she's chummy with the guard. He says Gasca's been tried but the sentence won't be set till next day. She asks Gasca, "What happened to the old guy?" "He died. ... I told them I was innocent and only confessed under torture. [cries] If they decide I'm guilty they'll burn me alive." "Diego has everything set for springing you." "When? When I'm cold [in death] already? ... I know a LOT about Diego, things that would send him to the gallows, so he'd best get me out."

Juana is very worried to hear the sentencing is next day. "This is the most dangerous time, when he knows he's going to die."

Hipólita gets home. Antonio tells her he's leaving next day for a long journey. "I'll leave you enough money." "Please be careful." "Diego says there won't be a problem. ... I'm glad you stayed with me, I love you, don't worry." He nuzzles, she resists, he promises never to force himself on her. "But you want kids! ..." "I'm patient. When you're ready, leave a rose on my bed." [This sounds like a final goodbye to me. I speculate that Antonio will not be coming back from this journey. -- Ed.] Hipólita tells Ada she loves Antonio like a dear friend, a brother, and that he's behaved very well.

Team Luis desides Juana's behavior implies she "knows" Luis is dead, though she was probably not complicit in the murder attempt. Marcos reports that Antonio is "maintaining" Perla, and knows nothing about Luis being dead. Luis: "Hipólita says Antonio is well-intentioned and is being manipulated by Diego." "If that's true, too bad for him." They agree to go ahead with suing Diego. Felipe is embarrassed he's been named a beneficiary in Luis's will. Luis: "Well, you two and Marcos have worked for me for many years, it's fair." I didn't understand Felipe's final remark.

Marina is sad Andrés is leaving. "You don't need that work now." "I will so, until we marry, and I'll work then, too. Or do you think you're marrying an holgazán?

Holgazán: "idler, lazy-bones." holgazanear = "To loaf around." holgado: loose-fitting, comfortable (clothes). viven holgados: "They're comfortably off." Great collection of words.

He says the trip will be 4-5 weeks, I'll miss you so much blah blah, nice kiss Andrés! I think this lad has a good future in the telenovelas... They toddle off to sign the marriage contract.

Meanwhile, Cristóbal's will is being signed - he leaves everything to Catalina. She says, "What about your sister?" The sister says she already got hers, not to worry. Catalina demurs again and her dad Francisco says "Shut up and accept the money." He'd probably like to kill Cristóbal as soon as the ink is dry.

Modesta and her picnic basket return yet again - Gasca has been sentenced to death tomorrow. "We have to hurry." "Don't worry, I have it under control."

Out in the garden, Diego is fencing and falls down. Antonio arrives and says: "Felipe didn't say Luis is not coming back, he just said he didn't know when ... is it possible Luis lied to you?" "With a pride like he has? No way. Let's fence." They fence all over and Antonio wins, flipping Diego's sword out flying over innocent defenseless heads.

Sara and Victoria cry at the signing of Andrés and Marina's wedding contract. Even the dwarf cries!

Malaquías tells Felipe the Guevaras want Luis present personally to dissolve the partnership, and Felipe says: "See you in court." "But it will be a scandal!" "They should have thought about that sooner. And remember, Diego's such a bum, if it weren't for Luis he wouldn't have a peso left." He ascertains that Malaquías is innocent of the Luis situation.

Francisco steams about not getting "his" hacienda, and Asunción, who is finally developing some backbone, points out that on this very day they've assured their kids' futures with very generous and wealthy spouses. "Cristóbal didn't even ask for a dowry! And all you think about is that there's nothing for you?" (She uses "usted" with this awful spouse.) He grabs her and points out it's her future, too - "we have nothing." "Cristóbal gave you work, and Andrés has offered you charge of a hacienda." "It's not the same - I want my own - should my son be my boss?"

Isabel to Marina: "I never thought Sara and Victoria had so much money! You're rich." Marina feels awkward about it but Isabel assures her she'll get used to it.

Catalina is happy her husband is so generous. "When I see him it feels like my heart will explode with pure love." Hipólita, on the other hand, is afraid her own dreams won't come true. [I don't want to have to write this again -- Ed.]

Juana watches Modesta mix poison. "Only that much?" "More will burn out his guts." She takes her basket off to jail. Gasca: "Are you getting me out tonight?" "Tomorrow you'll be taken out of here to receive your sentence personally from the regidor. There will be armed men in the plaza to rescue you; you'll be given money to start a new life in another city." "You're not deceiving me?" "No. Diego will take care of you, but your liberty depends on your revealing nothing about him. And here's some booze from Juana to calm your nerves." He gets drunk and reminisces, "How was I supposed to know he was the brother of the Inquisitor? And afterwards, that Jew whore, if she hadn't shown up none of this would have happened." Modesta fiddles with her little flask. "You're drunk, have a little water." "No!" But he does - and he chokes chokes chokes as Modesta watches quizzically. Nerves of steel, that little lady.

Antonio says one last goodbye to Hipólita. "But I thought you were leaving in the morning?" He gives a lame excuse and departs - perfumed and bedecked, as Ada points out. Hipólita says it's great if he has a lover, it will keep him away from her bed, but Ada points out men spend money on women and Antonio doesn't have much...

Antonio goes to Perla to get complimented and kissed and I hope that was the end because it's where my tape cut off.

No show Friday.

New updates Wednesday and Saturday. The list of Alborada recaps is to the right - below the picture of Modesta and Doña Juana, just above the elephant. Click on the numbers in order!

You can buy (cheap) souvenir cards I painted in honor of our Alborada adventure
Amor Real
Entre el Amor y el Odio
"Telenovela villains meet lurid, dreadful deaths"

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Calming Noises

The MetLife building faces the north exits of Grand Central Station. It has big passageways cut through the bottom of it so that all of the commuters can trudge right through it and head up Park Avenue without going out of their way.

The walls of these passageways through the MetLife building are some serious advertising space. Makes sense, since thousands of people walk through them every day. They're decked out with gigantic glowing screens and speakers so that the ads can have sound effects.

I walk through one of these tunnels twice a day. I'm usually half asleep on these walks, and for some reason this has enabled the advertising to take a strong effect on me.

A series of smarmy hotel ads featuring a bichon frise take up half the wall space of my preferred passageway. In one ad, the bichon frise sits behind a gigantic brown desk and a laptop, saying, "Let's get down to business." In another one, the bichon frise pokes his head into a jewelery bag, saying "For me?" In a third one, the bichon frise looks sad, and says "it's a sad day when you go away."

I don't care much for this dog but I've developed enough of a relationship with him that I don't like to look at the ad where he looks sad, because it makes me kind of sad. If I look, I have to promise him I'll see him again tomorrow.

Still, I find the other series of ads in the passageway even more compelling. They are ads for, I think, the Bahamas - gigantic panels of luminous backlit photographs of what it would look like if you were scuba diving in Aruba instead of trudging up Park Avenue.

These ads also have a sound track, of what it would sound like if you were scuba diving and you expressed your wonderment via electronic keyboard. The sound track is heavy on the bubble sounds, which are backed bye an endlessly repeating series of four soothing synthesizer chords.

This ad is particularly effective in the middle of winter when it's just awful outside, but the soundtrack has started to stick with me throughout the day even when the weather's good. Lately, on occasions when work gets stressful, my eyes start drifting out of focus, and I start to hear the bubbling of my air tank and the four-chord sequence of the Bahamas ringing in my ears...


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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A very easy dinner

This was simple but unexpectedly satisfying:

Boil some lo mein noodles.
Steam some broccoli.
Cook some stir-fry style beef.
Mince 2 scallion stalks.

Mix together. While the pasta is still hot, mix up this sauce and add it in:

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons chicken stock
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
pepper to taste

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Menticia does Illustration Friday: "Monster"

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Bleary-eyed blogger.

I spent yesterday mired in taxes. Tax software has simply enabled the government to make everything more complicated - it's a wash. Anyway, papers are ALL OVER the floor in my office area, I have to tiptoe through them on a narrow path. I tore myself away to have lunch with a friend, and then it was back to the grind.

In the late afternoon I realized that today is my one and only rehearsal with a wonderful pianist I've known for years, for a gig this weekend.

Robert and I traded singing and piano lessons many years ago. Since we are both teachers, we were highly amused to hear ourselves giving each other the same whining excuses we'd heard hundreds of times from our own students. "I didn't have time to practice, it sounded better at home..." blah blah blah. We'd say: "one two three GO," and we'd let loose all our complaints and excuses at each other at the same time. It was fun. He learned to sing but I was a lousy piano student. I can oom-pah but that's it. (I enjoy it though.)

This gig we're doing is a pre-wake for the customer's dad - i.e. the dad is still alive and everybody wants to meet and celebrate his life while he can still enjoy the event with them, and they can sing along with Melinama (the dad loves to harmonize), isn't that a great idea? Problem was, the customer was supposed to have sent me the list of songs he wanted but I suddenly realized I hadn't gotten the list.

You know how you look ahead, trying to find the moment of leisure into which you will insert the task you forgot about? I looked ahead and realized: 6:00 pm, i.e. RIGHT THIS SECOND, is the only such moment before I meet with Robert tomorrow at 11:30!

So I called the customer in Maryland, and luckily he answered, and he said he'd sent the list on Saturday, but it was one of those mysterious lost emails (I don't usually believe people when they say "I never received your email" but this time, since it happened to me, I do believe), so he re-sent it, and I had only an hour or so to FIND the nine specified pieces of music, arrange them, and print out the charts for rehearsal.

And then I punched holes in the charts, because pianists never do that, they just chuck them on their pianos and let them slide off over and over, and that drives me crazy, so I punch holes in the charts so they can go in notebooks. And then I put the charts in order, because otherwise Robert will flip flip flip through the pages and that also drives me crazy.

I finished printing out the music, grabbed a banana for dinner, and dashed out the door for a 9 pm (!) rehearsal at Duke's Nelson Music Room. This was dress rehearsal for a Duke Collegium concert. Remember, the a cappella group I joined in order to have some music in my life which I'm not the boss of? In which I can stand in the back with the basses who sound like a huge wonderful organ? Greasy, greasy, greasy, in the very best sense of the word? Our concert of Spanish renaissance music is this Saturday (immediately after the pre-wake). I'm the one singing alto in the back row...

Our fearless young leader (he's extremely cute) was fiddling with a fog machine when we got there. He had a light, with a red gel, focused at the fog. It all looked quite demonic. Perfect for the Inquisition, but not the heavenly atmosphere one might have expected.

I got home at 11:30 and was taking notes on the night's Alborada episode by 11:40. My mind was not at its clearest after a day with the (demonic) tax software so it took me till 12:50 to finish watching... I started blogging ... and fell asleep. I started again this morning at 5:00 and, now that I've finished that, I'm writing to you.

Next, I have to do my Spanish homework and get my violin and leave for Spanish class. After that I'll go straight to Robert Griffin's house, and then straight to pick up my little friend Menticia. Watching her paint a monster for Illustration Friday will be my first moment of peace. (Yikes, it's barely Wednesday and there are already 801 monsters on the "Illustration Friday" wiki!)

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Telenovela Alborada, #28

This is a recap of the Univision telenovela Alborada. To read the whole post, click "read the rest" at the bottom!

If you are new, please visit the recaps in ORDER - they are listed to the right under a picture of Doña Juana and Modesta. See the bottom of this post for more information.
In case you haven't seen them - I painted a set of four scenes from Alborada and reproduced them as a souvenir of this blogging experience! You can look at them here...

Monday: I had another VCR disaster so when I got back from rehearsal I'd missed half the show. So Jean nicely blogged the first half for me. Here's Jean's half:


Jean: Modesta returns from seeing Gasca in prison and reports to Juana. They discuss springing Gasca from prison. Money isn't a problem but to bribe that many guards - someone might talk. Modesta says she will try and think of a plan.

Andrés tells Antonio he's spoken to Sara and Victoria and has agreed to marry Marina in two months. He needs to tell her, though, and asks permission to go talk to her. Antonio congratulates him and says he'll be sorry to lose such a good assistant.

Hipólita comes in to says that she's going to to visit her sister and mother. She looks a little guilty but Antonio doesn't seem suspicious. She also congratulates Andrés, who runs off to see Marina.

When they are alone, Antonio says he doesn't want to be fighting with her all the time. Hipólita agrees. Antonio asks about Rafael visiting Juana. Hipólita says she doesn't understand why Juana is interested in seeing Rafael since she isn't really his grandma, but she agrees - provided she goes along to make sure nothing happens to the stuffed boy. Antonio then says that Hipólita looks especially lovely today. Hipólita thanks him awkwardly and miracle of miracles doesn't start to cry.

Juana is making the most incredible mess of wool with her spinning wheel. Modesta comes in. She has been thinking in the laundry. Gasca will be sentenced to death for the murder of Victoria's husband; until then, he won't say anything about Diego because he believes that Diego is trying to free him from prison. A plan occurred to Modesta in the laundry but we don't know what it is ...

Hipólita gives the good news about Andrés and Marina to Catalina and Asuncion. Catalina is ecstatic - Asuncion is not so pleased. She doesn't want her son to marry into a Jewish family. Francisco comes in, helps himself to a drink from a locked cabinet without offering any to anyone else. When told about the engagement, you can see the dollar (or peso) signs in his eyes. He wants to speak to Andrés as soon as he gets back from the Palacio. Hipolita tells Catalina about visiting Juana with Rafael while the kid is yakking away in the background. Once again Hipólita discusses with Catalina her latest decision to run away with Luis. Catalina is doubtful.

Cristóbal in his hideous hat goes to see Sara and Victoria to tell them Gasca has confessed. They thank him for his help in bringing Gasca to justice and Victoria can't wait until he is executed. Victoria passes on the news of the Andrés/Marina engagement to Cristóbal. He points out that now they will be related by marriage.

Luis is stting up in bed giving orders to Felipe and Marcos. He wants his clothes and his horse. They plan his strategic withdrawal to Cristóbal's farm. Luis wants Marcos to go with him but they end up deciding that Marcos, Felipe and Carmela will all go.

Felipe tries to get Luis interested in his business dealings but Luis persists in his plan to give up all his money because he isn't really a Manrique. Felipe gets fed up and leaves while Hipólita and Rafael come in. Luis assures Hipólita that everything will come out ok and to trust in him.

Juana is talking to Diego who is in his underwear with hair unbraided. He doesn't understand what the delay is in getting Gasca out of prison. Juana says that it is dangerous for Modesta. 'So what,' says Diego, 'she's only an Indian.' 'Don't call her an Indian,' snaps Juana, 'You're going to owe her your life.' Juana wants Diego to not do any more stupid things. He agrees. Juana notices that he is walking in a funny way. Diego shrugs it off saying it is a result of his fight with Luis. 'But it was the last of his cursed life.' says Diego. WHAT DID YOU DO? demands Juana. 'Luis didn't leave on a trip,' says Diego, 'I sent him - on a voyage to eternity.' Juana staggers back to Modesta and tells her that Diego had Gasca kill Luis. 'Where is his body? Did they throw it in the lake?' she sobs. Modesta says maybe Diego will calm down now. 'I didn't want that at the cost of Luis' life,' says Juana.

Andrés shows up at the Palacio Guevara and finds Isabel walking with Marina. Andrés goes off with Marina and Marcos shows up. Isabel tells Marcos he's lost his opportunity for a rich wife. Andrés assures Marina that he loves her and is not marrying her for her money and they finally acknowledge their love for one another.

Vincente passes on to Isabel and Marcos the news about Gasca's imprisonment. Isabel says she doesn't like to see anyone tortured but Gasca deserves it. Marcos then says that he has come for Luis's clothes and explains about Luis going to the farm. Then in a very funny scene Cirilo appears and Isabel says she wants some of Luis' clothes. 'Why?' says Cirilo. 'Um, to give to the poor' says Isabel, thinking quickly. 'To give to the poor?' says Cirilo, very confused [Cirilo is very cute - I wouldn't mind having him for my body servant -- Jean]. 'Yes, to the poor,' says Isabel, exasperated. 'But Luis isn't here,' says poor Cirilo, 'it doesn't seem right..' 'I'm his aunt,' says Isabel, 'how can it not be right?'

Cristóbal returns from his errand and is told that Ramon and Arcadio have disappeared. Once again the news about Gasca's confession is passed along. However, the disappearance of Ramon means there is no proof against Gasca for the murder of Augustin.

Melinama staggered home and continued: Marina was bouncing up and down with happiness as Isabel and the ever-gallant Marcos were congratulating her on her upcoming wedding.

Leaving, Isabel and Marcos came upon Mirtha, Esperanza's mulatto servant (or slave), who bursts out saying: "I was only obeying orders." She's afraid the Inquisition will burn her up for being a negro.

Marcos is sympathetic and says nothing was Mirtha's fault, but Isabel snaps: she was responsible in that she slyly carried out Esperanza's shameless plans. Marcos reminds Isabel: servants who don't obey their masters get sacked. Isabel says Mirtha should leave the country, tells her how to find La Poderosa and ask for help, and says "I'll pay the bill later."

Mirtha then asks the location of "Consentido (Spoiled)," Esperanza's fluffball dog. Evidently he's been slumming in the stables. Isabel says she doesn't want him - he'd fight with her cat - so she lets Mirtha take him.

Mirtha takes the dog straight to Sara's hideout with her! As she arrives Victoria is saying she wants Marina to have a splendiferous wedding while mother Sara is saying it would be better to keep a low profile since they're Jews. "But my daughter was raised as a Christian!" "Nevertheless..."

Sara likes the dog ("Did you steal it?"). She and Mirtha pat it as they discuss getting Mirtha out of the country.

Andrés and his father Francisco have another argument. "I hear you're getting married." "Yes, in two months." "What about the dowry?" "We didn't talk about it." "Good, I'll take charge of that." "No, dad, I don't want you asking for anything." "Are you crazy? There are things you don't know [that Marina's people are Jews]." "I do know, and I don't care." "Well, I do! You're my only son, and if I'm going to agree to this marriage [with Jews] I'm going to get something in return - some of the dowry, and a hacienda in my own name!" This ends with slapping and Andrés saying "Before I let you get your mitts into this, I'll renounce any dowry entirely" "Then you won't marry." Andrés stalks out.

Finally I get to see Diego's intended! The families and lawyers are around a table signing a marriage contract. The woman is kind of silly and wears a hideous brownish dress of no particular century or cut. She giggles, "I was born to be married." Juana (who rolls her eyes continuously through this scene) replies: "Marriage is the best state for a woman of childbearing years." "I was so sad to be widowed, now I'm so happy and excited that Diego has chosen me!" "The most important thing is that Diego have a male heir." "Of course! I want lots more kids, as many as God sends. Also, I want you to know I will carry the title of Countess with dignity." (Giggles.) (Diego and Juana roll eyes at each other.)

The marriage contract is signed, Diego tickles his fiancee with the quill and swats her bottom.

Isabel and Luis are glad Gasca confessed and Victoria will finally be free after years of hiding. Isabel: "See, there can be justice." "Not always." He asks after Juana (formerly his mother) and Isabel says she's worried, Juana has not looked good since her illness. "Something's tormenting her - something beyond what she's already confessed to..."

Isabel tears up a bit over her supposedly dead nephew, buried with her brother. She wants to go visit them in the cemetery and then - speaking of visiting - asks Luis if she can visit him when he's hiding at Cristóbal's farm. "You don't need to ask, aunt." "Never stop calling me aunt!"

Marcos and Felipe have been preparing Luis's horse and clothes for his country retreat. As Marcos is leaving, Carmela comes hustling in: "I'm going to the market, can Marcos come?" Felipe tells her about the upcoming retreat and invites her to go there too, since he and Marcos will be there with Luis and she doesn't like to be alone. She loves this idea until she hears Hipólita will be visiting too. "Don't make that face, it wasn't her fault what happened to Martin."

Gasca's trial will be coming up soon because the case is so important to the Inquisitor (being as how it was his own brother who was murdered). Santiago is distressed to hear that Ramon, the man who can link Gasca to the death of Santiago's father, has disappeared. He says he and his sister are leaving town, say goodbye to Luis (I think we've had this scene about five times already). Cristobal and Felipe agree: There has to be something very important behind all this, something which involves both Diego and Juana, something big enough to make it worth assassinating Agustín!

Modesta takes her picnic basket to Gasca in prison to the sound of menacing music.

I love this next scene, of Antonio burbling happily about vanilla cultivation to Hipólita. We've never seen him this animated. He wants to buy his own land, near Diego's, and have his own plantation. When Hipólita suggests he see how the first one works out before buying a second, he dances about saying: all Europe craves vanilla! and the best vanilla comes from Mexico! "I never saw you so passionate about anything in Santa Rita." "Well, my mother thought I was a good-for-nothing and the land I inherited from my father was barren..." What is bitacora?

Diego shows up uninvited and falling-down-drunk (of course whatever mysterious ailment he has which causes his knees to buckle doesn't help). "I've come to celebrate my engagement" (falls on floor under table). Hipólita bolts and in the back room complains: "He barged in as if it were his own house - as a Count he should have some manners. That poor woman he's marrying! She may think she'll enjoy being a Countess but life with that lout is gonna be hell."

Diego asks, what's to drink? and Antonio says: water. Diego wants to hire him to be his administrator general: "Malaquías is a number cruncher, I need you to do what Luis used to do." "But his aunt says Luis is coming back." "Luis isn't coming back." "How do you know?" "I know."

Antonio says he's honored, but he doesn't know anything about Diego's many operations. "Malaquías will show you the ropes." "But why me?" "Because I trust you." Scene ends with, I think, Diego unable to get his wine into his mouth. Is that what happened?

Juana is sick in bed. She asks Modesta, home from her perhaps-malign errand: "How's Gasca?" "Better. Trusting."

Tuesday: I got back from a rehearsal at 11:30 pm and was watching my tape by 11:40. Now it's 1 am...

There is out-of-tune singing and anachronistic guitar playing (I bet the natives weren't playing seventh chords in folk songs back then) as Francisco comes to visit Andrés. "I'm just a little tomado, not drunk ... (He's had a few.) ... I started to drink when I had to leave Las Tunas, it's my only consolation." "But dad, you have work..." "As an employee of my son-in-law who can barely tolerate me. I used to be the boss. See how low I've fallen ... living all squished in ... locked between four walls in this reeking city when I always used to be out in the fields ... my pride's gone, you've no idea what it costs me to stay here. I feel humiliated, I'm so unhappy - help me, Andrés!" OH NO. Now they're trying to rehabilitate FRANCISCO? Let him burn! Let him be crushed by goats! I don't want him to survive!

Andrés says he'll help and they hug.

Isabel tells Marina she'll visit Victoria tomorrow and they'll plan the wedding together. She winks and says "I would have preferred Marcos for you." "Yeah, I like him, maybe if I hadn't met Andrés first..."

Juana cries in bed. Modesta: "You're sad because deep down you always loved Luis." "I loved him, yes, but it also hurts me that Diego did this." "He'd already tried a few times." "Yes, but now there was no need... Where's Luis's body, what have they done with it?" "Wherever one dies, wherever one is buried, we become dust. I'm sure Luis is with God." They expound upon his virtues: he was noble, generous, without rancor, people really liked him. "My brother will never forgive me." "If Rafael is here, he's of his bloodline, that'll do it." "But now with Luis dead..." They decide to go say a mass on the morrow.

Luis is READING! in bed. Cristóbal comes in, he's been cleaning up the farm so Luis's wound won't get infected. Luis asks if he can be godfather to Cristóbal's first son. "Who else would I choose?"

Some joshing about Cristóbal going off to Catalina prompts his actually knocking on her door! She lets him in, he says he doesn't want to wait any more, this time she's ready. There is new VERY bad nuzzling music, morphing into the old (also bad) martial nuzzling music. The nuzzling continues all the way through the commercials. In their robes in the morning they look pretty cheery! Cristóbal tells his wife to consider his room as hers. "What will the servants think?" "They'll think the boss finally did as God directs." Both tuck into breakfast.

Hipólita and Antonio discuss Diego's offer of the administrator's job to Antonio. "But that was Luis's job." "Diego assures me Luis is not coming back.... I guess they talked about it before Luis left." He's pretty excited about this opportunity. The vanilla plantation thing will go on as planned.

When Hipólita tells Luis: "Diego assured Antonio your "voyage" was permanent," Luis is indignant and says he now will not renounce a penny of his money. "How could Diego be so stupid as to offer my work to Antonio without even being sure I'm dead? Antonio was a fool to accept the job, it wouldn't be easy to straighten out Diego's business messes."

Cristóbal says it's time to go to the farm. Luis takes a minute to nuzzle with Hipólita and tell her he will never leave her side, it's a sacred oath. "Come visit often with my aunt." Then he leaves her side.

Diego greasily assures Fray Alvaro: "Esperanza lost her wits long ago and lied about me being father of her fetus, no, no idea who it really was or where to look next, sorry I can't be of more help. Oh, and you've no idea how SHOCKED SHOCKED SHOCKED I was to hear I'd been working side by side with an assassin these ten years past! Shocked. Just shocked. I hope this won't stain my reputation." Alvaro sucks up to him, beaming, and says it won't be a problem.

Malaquías: "You can't have a new administrator until after Luis gives up the job! It's so complicated." "Well, make it happen. That's why I pay you." "Have you talked to Doña Juana about this?" "I'm TIRED TIRED TIRED of this question. My aunt has no voice nor vote in my affairs... Suppose my cousin died, what would happen?" "I know he has no will, so everything he has would go to his mother and the business partnership would be dissolved. But not to worry, he is in good health." "But he's gone and we don't know when he's coming back! I need somebody to carry on right now." "I can do it ..." "NO YOU CAN'T. Can't I have an interim administrator? I want Antonio, draw up a contract." Malaquías, doubtfully: "You think he's up to it?"

Isabel, who's come with Marina, whispers to Hipólita that she'll be visiting Luis tomorrow, they should go together. "Tell Antonio you're visiting me, no, better, tell him I'm planning to buy a farm and am going to look at some and asked you to come with me."

Andrés enters and all are pleased to see him, especially Marina. "Now that you two are getting married, you should get closer." They smile and slip out.

Isabel suggests it's time for Hipólita and Luis to flee; Hipólita fears Antonio will denounce them to the Inquisition and hound them mercilessly. "Well, find him somebody he will love more than he loves you, would he prefer a girl or a boy?" "He's not gay." "Oh, what a pity! ... wait, you haven't slept with him have you?" "Eew, no." Another discussion of whether Luis is Don Carlos's son.

Juana is still in bed, doesn't want to see anybody, tells Modesta to plan the murderous Diego's nuptials cause she, Juana, doesn't have the heart for it.

Jovial arrival of Luis at the farm, Felipe is no longer angry with Luis and will draw up the papers pulling Luis's money out of the family businesses (and date it to before his "murder"). Carmela feeds them, asking petulantly "but where's MARCOS?" her pet substitute for her dead son.

Team Luis laughs scornfully at the idea of Antonio (who didn't even know what vanilla looked like before he first visited his beans) taking over for Luis. They want Antonio to be caught in fraud with Diego, Cristóbal says it's undignified. I think they're trying to figure out a way to blackmail Antonio into giving Hipólita a divorce, they say they can't just take the indignity of all these lies and assassination attempts. "Shall we just offer our necks, like sheep, to be cut off?"

Juana is still in bed. Diego arrives, saying Fray Alvaro asked him about Gasca and Esperanza, "but I denied everything and all is well." "Aren't you worried about Gasca squealing?" "I'm sure the two of you will fix it." "What if we can't?" "You always can." He leaves and Juana says she wants to kill him. From her, these are serious words.

Hipólita arrives at the palace with Rafael, and Juana, joyful, struggles out of bed; she enters as Modesta is trying to teach Rafael, who is COMPLETELY UNINTERESTED, how to juggle. When Juana sees Rafael, the spitting image of his purportedly-dead father Luis, Juana can't stop crying.

This kid can talk a little now but he seems autistic. Drugs? He will not be winning an Oscar for this work. He almost never pays attention to anybody or anything. He's always looking off into the distance (at cameramen, probably). How come his mother doesn't notice he has a serious problem?

Isabel comes in and sees Juana tearfully promising stuff to Rafael, who is ignoring her. Marina, in her wake, whispers cheerfully to Hipólita (now that she's engaged, Marina is very pro-marriage): "Oh, your husband seems so nice." (Wearily:) "Yes, that's how he seems with other people."

Meanwhile, Isabel approaches for a kill. "Juana, Rafael looks SO MUCH like his father Luis, doesn't he?" Juana agrees, still crying. "And Luis looks SO MUCH like your brother Carlos! Tell the truth, sister-in-law: Isn't it true that Luis is Carlos's son and that this child is your nephew? The three are identical." (Wait, wouldn't Rafael be Juana's grand-nephew?) Juana gasps and bolts. Isabel smugly feels she has confirmed her hypothesis.

Modesta tries to console the sobbing Juana. "Don't worry, nothing will happen to Diego. Just say Luis is Carlos's illegitimate son and everything will be fine." "I'm so afraid." "Luis isn't here, and nobody will question your word. Diego may be angry but he'll just have to deal with it."

Isabel and Marina visit Sara and Victoria at the hoodlum hideaway. La Poderosa vehemently denies that Luis could be an illegitimate child of Carlos - she remembers how Carlos adored his wife Aurora. Isabel: "Maybe it was just a - slip." "In that case, Carlos would have told Aurora and they would have taken the child in and given him their name. Luis is not Carlos's bastard! I want to see Diego!"

New updates Wednesday and Saturday. The list of Alborada recaps is to the right - below the picture of Modesta and Doña Juana, just above the elephant. Click on the numbers in order!

You can buy (cheap) souvenir cards I painted in honor of our Alborada adventure
Amor Real
Entre el Amor y el Odio
"Telenovela villains meet lurid, dreadful deaths"

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bacteria attack styrofoam

Bacteria Make Styrofoam Earth-Friendly
By Tracy Staedter, Discovery News

March 27, 2006— Bacteria that converts Styrofoam into Earth-friendly plastic could lead to a new kind of biodegradable plastic that breaks down into the soil.

The method could help reduce the 2.3 million tons of petroleum-based plastic waste that makes its way into U.S. landfills each year, said research leader Kevin O'Connor, who heads the bioplastic research group at University College Dublin in Ireland.

O'Connor and his team's research results will appear in the April 1 issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

Scientists have used microorganisms to break down the kinds of chemical products found in Styrofoam, but no one has been able to create a useful plastic byproduct, commented Mannfred Zinn, a research group leader at EMPA, the materials science and technology lab that is part of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

From Discovery Channel

Just wondering

I had a great discussion over home-made waffles with home-grown blueberries (eat your heart out) with my friend JM this weekend. She will soon be, as I am, an empty nester who lives alone in the woods - her son's going off to college in the fall.

As I did, she wonders what purpose a longtime mother has when her job is "over." (She says in her birth family the rules state: "Eighteen and OUT.")

I started Pratie Place when my son Zed began his last semester of high school. It's seen me through the transition my friend is anticipating. I was very anxious not to become one of those eccentric, lonely women who talk to their cats. This is why I adamantly refuse when Zed says I should get an animal. If I don't have an animal, I won't talk to it. (This is the same way I avoid eating Oreos - I keep them out of the house.)

After Zed left for college, I sat in a haze for a couple months. I wondered if I was just "finished," period. Maybe the world had no need for this ex-mother.

It was a blogfriend who proposed, when we met for the very first time, that maybe I was just resting.

He and I were both at low points when we met in November. I was feeling washed up, he was suffering from what proved to be a run-up to congestive heart failure. For me, our lunch was restorative - and the ballet was fun, too!

Then another friend turned me on to the Artist's Way. Though I found the book a bit too touchy-feely, it started me writing in a journal every morning, which helped me move away from my obsession with morose moribundity.

When my friend and I met again, we were both doing better - post-hospitalization he could walk clear across town and enjoy it (and he did!) and I had a new life full of interesting activities to tell him about.

Well, here's the question, which I've buried down here so only people who actually read this post will see it: Is anybody outside the Alborada horde still enjoying (or at least monitoring) this blog?

Please leave me an encouraging word, if you get this far. If I get no comments, I'll assume I'm writing for myself. Which has its own charms, I suppose.

The existential discussion will be continued at a future date.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

A Man Without A Past

Saturday night I finally had time to watch something other than Alborada - I chose an Oscar-nominated movie from Finland, made by Aki Kaurismaki, called "A Man Without a Past."

It reminded me, often, of one of my great favorites, Brother From Another Planet, another movie about someone far from home, adrift, helped and befriended by others whose luck is just as hard.

Be warned - the first twenty minutes are painful: there's a brutal head-cracking and the protagonist is left for dead three times. There is also ambiguity about whether it's going to be a fantasy: after his vital signs have flatlined and the doctor and nurse have covered his face and walked away, "M" briskly rises from his hospital bed and twists his nose back into place.

"With little more than a shrug and a sigh (Peltola has the scruffy implacability of a silent screen comic), the amnesiac picks himself up and stumbles into the street."

M, who lost not only his memory but his wallet and welder's helmet - who had his very boots stolen off his feet as he lay comatose on the beach - settles peacefully in a Helsinki junkyard "where life's discards live in abandoned truck-size shipping containers. They live frugally and, for the most part, amiably."

Once he begins to speak again ("until now there was nothing to say") he reveals a magnificently dry sense of humor. In fact, all the actors cracked me up without ever themselves cracking a smile. The sly little jokes come fast and flat - Finland's answer to West Wing.

Here, for instance, is M's interchange with the hardnosed landlord of Container World when he shows up with a small, sweet white dog (named Hannibal) to demand the rent: "If you don't pay up, I'll set my savage dog to bite your nose off." "It only gets in the way." "You wouldn't be able to smoke in the shower."

M turns out to be a strong and ingenious man; he plants potatoes under a tree by the ocean and finds work at the Salvation Army, where he entertains himself by livening up the band's repertoire. (The sound track is wonderful.)

He falls for a sour, homely, lonely Salvation army spinster (Kati Outinen) who listens to rock and roll in her room at night and whose sense of humor is as dry as his.

Their courtship is decorous and brusque. (From a Netflix review: "Some call the Germans rude, but I've just learned they are practical and darn efficient. Well, it appears the Finns make Germans look like Greek emotions gone wild.")

It's hard to live in society without a name; M even gets put in jail for 'failure to cooperate' because he can't produce one. Late in the movie, when he is handed his true identity, he leaves his second life, briefly, with supreme reluctance, in order to revisit his first; we see that, despite the absence of the "better things in life," he is happier the second time around.

A final homage to "Brother From Another Planet" has the folks of this wretched neighborhood rising up, armed with nothing but their determination, to stop the thugs who first attacked M. ("I thought we killed you already.") As in Sayles's movie, we see that people who have very little often help each other, knowing full well nobody else will.

Even those above the waterline are clearly aware that the difference between sinking and swimming is a matter of mere inches. The electrician who hooks up M's power refuses payment, saying only: "If you see me lying face down in the gutter, turn me on my back."

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Converting Cheese Waste to Ethanol...

I heard this tidbit on NPR this morning and you can read the press release at No Whey!, from the "Wisconsin Ag Connection."

With a little $29,000 state agricultural grant, a Wisconsin company has successfully tested technology that converts cheese waste into renewable energy.

Cheese whey permeate is a by-product of the cheese-making process which currently costs the cheese-makers quite a bit to dispose of. The new process converts cheese whey permeate into ethanol, creating at the same time a high-nutrition cattle feed. I think they are left, then, with salt and water.

"State agriculture officials say the cheese waste to ethanol technology could save cheese makers millions of dollars annually in disposal costs."

This isn't the first such conversion. For instance:
(February, 2001) The Golden Cheese Company, a division of Dairy Farmers of America, is located in Corona, California and employs 375 people. They process 5 million pounds of milk per day into cheese. Cheese whey, a residual product of this process, is then converted into ethanol. While Golden Cheese had produced ethanol for over 10 years beginning in the mid-1980s, production had been halted due to the lack of an ethanol market in California. More.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Souvenir cards for my Alborada friends!

In honor of Alborada's "final episodes" I decided to merge my two hobbies and paint four pictures of scenes from the show (see below).

You can buy the set of four for $4.75, first class postage, shipping and handling included (if you are in the United States) or $5.75 (if you are in another country). As you can see, I am a BEGINNING painter. I used a color copier to make these: to make them at a high quality (giclee) would cost ME $13 per set. So these aren't perfect, but they were made with love...

They are shown at approximately full size. This is a cottage industry: I copy four of them on a letter-sized piece of cover stock and cut them apart with my little scissors.

I'll mail your cards with a note of appreciation from me, Melinama at Pratie Place, to you.

Use the appropriate PayPal button below to purchase your set of four cards about 3.7" x 5" (not all the same size exactly). Thanks!

UNITED STATES PURCHASES: Click here to pay $4.75, everything included, for first-class shipping to a United States address (which you will provide during the ordering process).

OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES: Click here to pay $5.75, everything included, for first-class shipping to a foreign address (which you'll supply during the ordering process).

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Illustration Friday - "Monster"

I started this one by using up some colors while I was waiting for Menticia to finish last week's Illustration Friday prompt. Today I "finished" it waiting for somebody else to finish a painting. I feel very tender about this monster. I think I may be this monster.

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Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

Perhaps my favorite postcard of all time.

From "The Silver Fantasy Series" by Jim Haberman, 1984

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Telenovela Alborada, #27

This is a recap of the Univision telenovela Alborada. In order to read the whole post, you click "read the rest" at the bottom of this summary!

If you are new, please visit the recaps in ORDER - they are listed to the right under a picture of Doña Juana and Modesta. See the bottom of this post for more information.
UPDATE: Alborada souvenir cards (painted by me, Melinama) for sale here.

1. THANKS for all the nice comments! You make it worthwhile and fun to do this. Thanks for all the help with history and vocabulary and all the entertaining speculation.

2. I asked how many more episodes we have to go, and Margarita has already given us an answer: EIGHTEEN. !!

Wednesday: Santiago asks his sister to keep quiet about Gasca being their father's murderer. She wants to go home, but he says he can't leave till the Gasca matter is settled. They decide to move to the hostel to get away from the crazy Guevara family which houses and protects an assassin.


  • Isabel confabs with Sara, who muses: "No wonder when I returned [to the Guevara Palace] she [Juana] wouldn't let me see the children..." "Because you'd have noticed that Luis wasn't Luis!" "Do you think Diego knew?" "I don't know, probably ... Oh, how I hate that scrawny (esmirriado) guy." "Diego isn't fat like his father, Don Carlos?" "No, the one that looks like Carlos is Luis!" [But Luis isn't fat!?]
    UPDATE: Margarita says: Corpulent (corpulento) doesn't necessarily mean fat (although it could) but rather stocky or "filled out."

    Marina tells her mom about the unsatisfactory conversation with Andrés and says she doesn't want a forced marriage, better she should stay single, if she can't have Andres she doesn't want any. The older women try to convince her she could find a better one - "They're making them thangs every day" - "How about that Marcos? He's of humble origin but well educated."

    Victoria says she can't stay in town much longer, it's too dangerous for her (there is that warrant out for her supposed murder of her husband) and Sara says that she, for her part, is tired and wants to retire and leave the control of the underworld in the capable hands of Marina's future husband, whomsoever he might be. (Wow, what a dowry!)

    Sara reminisces: "On my last visit [to the Guevaras], even though Juana wouldn't let me near the boys, from afar they certainly seemed to be Luis and Diego - and if Luis is not Juana's son, why does he have such a marked air of the Guevara family?" She thinks Luis is Carlos's son. Victoria: "Maybe he is Carlos's bastard." "No, Carlos was in love with his wife." "Aw, mom, men get hot and have sex with whatever comes along."

    Knock on the door - Pardo, the corrupt commandant, has arrived. Victoria hides. Sara bribes Pardo to bring Gasca to justice even despite Gasca's protected status as the Count's man.

  • Felipe fills Luis in about Gasca killing Agustín. They agree it had to have been Juana or Diego's idea. "Juana didn't want anybody to know that Hipólita was Agustín's bastard daughter - Juana protected him for years." "And it was just when the medallion was proving him to be her father that the murder occurred." "Or maybe it was because you weren't really her son, and the murder protected that secret."

    They remember Modesta jumped to agree with their suggestion that Luis was an unknown baby substituted for Juana's dead baby. Why would she do that? Surely not, if it was in fact the truth... "She was afraid?" "No way, Modesta is made of stone." "Well if Juana and Modesta are lying, then perhaps I'm not actually the child of nobody parents."

    Felipe says he's told Luis for years that if somebody wants something desperately, it's for rivalry in love, business, or fear. He suggests perhaps Don Carlos's money was somehow in play ... Cristobal: "Maybe Luis is Carlos's natural son." Felipe says he needs to work on extricating Luis's fortune from the Guevara family. "Don't give up your money - a lot of people depend on you." Cristobal and Felipe bundle themselves out of the room like the Keystone Cops.
UPDATE: I thought Francisco called Cristobal a "patron blanco" but Bob and Margarita agree he said "patron blando:" a soft boss, an easy mark. This goes with my guess that soon todo el mundo would either be living or working at his palace...
  • With the aid of a little bag of gold, Francisco squeezes the name "Sara de Oviedo" out of Ramon and Arcadio. He queries Asunción, who remembers Sara from when she (Asunción) was very young and newly under Juana's protection. She says Sara's people were rich Jews, that Sara was a dear friend of Aurora (the former Count's wife), that she was thought to have burned in the fire on the barge, that her family was later burned up in the plaza for being heretics. "No, Francisco, this is not a proper family, and besides, they're Jews and you can't let your son have relations with them." "QUIET! I'm thinking." The accounting-machine tape is rolling behind Francisco's eyes (remember, his son Andrés says he's very good with numbers.) On the negative side: they're Jews. On the positive side: they have Money. What to do? What to do?

  • Hipólita dutifully tells Antonio dinner was delicious. He nuzzles her neck, she shrinks away, he says "Why wait longer?" "Antonio, it's no good. I have a lot of affection for you but Luis is the only man I've ever loved." "Don't you see you're hurting me?" "Yes, but I have to tell the truth." She rolls out the old it's-your-fault story and he yells that he's tired of hearing it. The only new element to the argument is his defiant assertion: "I've been with HUNDREDS of whores and I was able to satisfy them!" [Yeah, because you paid them. --- Ed.] "Then marry one of them!" He almost hits her, then fondles his forelock instead. Hipólita points out their life has become the hell they'd feared for Marina and Andrés; she reminds him he promised to give her a divorce if things didn't work out. But he says "No! You're my wife and we made a promise before the altar to stay together until death." [With this statement, according to the rules of the telenovelas, Antonio has condemned himself to death. Never get between the man and woman who have top billing. -- Ed.] "Well, don't expect me to desire you."

  • Diego is very drunk when Pardo arrives to say Gasca has been detained for the murder of Agustín. Pardo and Diego remind each other of their special arrangement (hint: it involves money) and they mutually surmise: surely the jeweler (the Sevillano) is lying and it surely couldn't have been Gasca who did the vile deed... "I've enjoyed our collaboration as always."

  • Gasca strolls in the plaza eating something (Gasca eats? I thought he sucked blood by night); guards come to arrest him. He tries slashing them with his sword but they tie him up in ropes and drag him away. Andres, Antonio, and Higinio are watching.

    Santiago is pleased to see Gasca rushed past him at the Commandant's headquarters. Gasca tells Pardo: "The jeweler was lying and I know no man by the name of Ramón [the other witness]." "Well in the mean time you'll have to stay in jail." "The Count won't allow this."

    Higinio reports Gasca's arrest to Sara and Victoria. Victoria wants to go look him in the face and say she hates him and make him confess to the murder of Victoria's husband and the robbing of Marina. Sara says it's dangerous. Higinio says they'll need a reliable witness; Victoria says Luis will do it, he owes her one.

  • Juana discusses Pardo's visit with her hungover son Diego. Diego says Pardo came for payment - for the time Diego told him to treat Luis as badly as possible when he was charged with murder after the escape-from-the-nunnery fiasco. "You never told me about that." "I don't have to tell you everything."

    Suddenly Diego starts to moan and stagger. This is how we really know the novela is ending - the villains are starting to topple. Juana later tells Modesta of his pain, the rings under his eyes, weakness in his legs, marks on his face, and that he is ... well, she uses the word sobarse, which is a good one.

    Sobarse: handle, finger oneself; feel up, grope oneself; massage oneself. (When non-reflexive, sobar also means, in Mexico: "to suck up to.")

[By the way, I fell asleep in the middle of doing this recap; when I woke up this morning the big ol' dictionary was still at my side on the bed. It's time for this to be over, my friends!!]
  • Hipólita goes to the Palacio Lara to see her sister - or rather, to see Luis in his sequestration at Lara. Ada of course objects, saying if Antonio found out "instead of a divorce he'll give you a nice tomb."
    UPDATE: Margarita writes: "I think Ada said 'una tunda' instead of 'una tumba' when she told Hipólita what Antonio would give her instead of a divorce. A 'tunda' is slang for a beating. Back then, as we all know, wife beatings were common practice. I will say that Antonio has my sympathies for in his own clumsy way, he's trying to make things right. If only he would get some sense and grant Hipólita her divorce and marry Perla (as Hipólita so wisely suggested) and all would be happy!

  • Victoria, on her way to see Luis before visiting Pardo, stops the carriage and pops out to say hello to Hipólita. "But how dare you greet me, when it's your fault Martin died?" "Oh, I see you regained your memory. It wasn't my fault..." but Hipólita walks off and tells Luis she wants to turn Victoria in, reminding him that in her previous incarnation as the Pirate Queen Victoria had not gotten a doctor for Martin after he was wounded. Luis says there really weren't any doctors out there and there wouldn't have been any time to help Martin anyway, but Hipólita is not moved.

  • Victoria and Isabel chat about Agustín. Isabel remembers his jewels, the ones sold to the jeweler by Gasca. She is doubtful that Gasca could have done the murder but is happy to hear he's detained. "I hope they send him to the scaffold." "But first I need him to confess to murdering my husband and stealing my daughter. I need someone to testify for me." "Well Luis is away - but I'll do it!" I love Isabel best of all.

  • Catalina tells Cristóbal her matchmaking (between Marina and Andrés) sputtered out, and then asks if he thinks it's improper that they leave Hipólita and Luis alone together. "Well, it certainly isn't proper, but it's hard to tell Luis what to do."

  • Hipólita, wearing the worst hair-bow in the world, tells Luis that Rafael says "Daddy" all the time... She explains Antonio refuses to divorce her - not just because he hates Luis, but also because he wants to vindicate himself for the past. To her credit, she keeps Antonio's secret. Our tenor Placido Domingo strikes up the theme song as Luis and Hipólita get mushy and she says she loves him and wants to live with him. (Luis, not Placido.)

You know how gmail provides you with links based on the content of your emails? I got an email from reader Catalina, correcting me thus:
"Hampa" does indeed refer to the underworld, but the article it takes is "el" ("el hampa") simply because it begins with a stressed "a", like "el agua," "el alba," el "el arpa." It is, however, a feminine noun. I do know this kind of thing because I was a professor of Spanish language and literature for many years, and I am now a nationally certifed courtroom and medical interpreter.
The site google matched this email with was The Grouchy Grammarian. Good one, Google!

Thursday: Victoria, Isabel, Marina, and Marcos come by carriage to the jail. Isabel is planning to listen in and be witness to any confession Gasca might make to Victoria, but Cristóbal comes along and says no way a lady should enter the jail, he'll do it. Isabel stomps her little foot and says she WANTS to see the jail, but she reluctantly agrees to go home. Victoria tells Marcos to stay with Marina while this odd errand is going down.

Marcos cheerfully attends Marina and she reviews with him. He doesn't think it will be easy to trap Gasca into a confession. Andrés barges in, all jealous. Marcos suavely escorts Marina to a bench and then hisses to Andrés: "You said you weren't interested! She's pretty, let me try - I don't care if I'm not her first." "Don't you dare!" "Of course I dare, and anyway you've rejected her because of your stupid prejudices." "My prejudices aren't stupid!" They're pursing their lips at each other like angry fish. "Yes, they are - and since you don't want to marry her, you've lost your chance." But then Marcos kneels sweetly next to Marina and says that while he'd like to audition for roll of sweetheart, he knows she and Andrés love each other. "Andrés' hard head is in the way ... he'll come around." How charming Marcos was in this scene. Is he the nice guy who never gets the girl? Andrés sulks behind a pillar.

Isabel reports to Hipólita and Luis, who are decorously holding hands in bed, and suggests that Luis rob Hipólita and Rafael away.

Andrés is wringing his hands and pacing madly in very charming style as he asks his sister Catalina if she'd known Marcos was interested in Marina. "Of course I'm bothered, I thought they were just friends," he splutters. Andrés is very cute here, bouncing in and out of the chair and flapping his arms with jealousy. He then warns Catalina that Antonio is growing suspicious of all the visits Hipólita is making to the Palacio de Lara...

Malaquías tells Juana he hopes getting married will help Diego take an interest in the businesses. Antonio's desire to spend money on planting new vanilla bushes (trees? vines? tubers?), Luis's absence, and supposed resignation from the family businesses, and Diego's lies cause Juana to equivocate.

Later she hisses to Modesta, "My son is a BOCON," which I couldn't find in my dictionaries.
UPDATE: Bob and Margarita both write that bocon is a bigmouth, a blabbermouth.

Pardo smoothly covers for Gasca when Victoria and Cristóbal arrive to see him, mentioning importantly that the primary witness in the Agustín case - "Ramón" - is not to be found. We, of course, know he is at Cristóbal's palace learning how to use a broom, wear knickers, and comb his hair.

OK, it's time for Hipólita to take off that silly hair-bow. Catalina warns her that Antonio is getting suspicious (there's a big build-up about this, I wonder if it will fizzle).

Antonio keeps his appointment with Juana. He mutters his suspicions about Luis's supposed trip and then listens as she makes her case for Rafael staying at the castle from time to time. He agrees to her request.

Gasca is peeing in his smoky/foggy cell when Victoria shows up. Cristóbal lurks behind her in the hallway where Gasca can't see him. Surprisingly, Gasca is soon admitting that he killed Victoria's husband and stole her baby - "because there wasn't much of value in the house and I thought I could get some ransom for her ...

Gasca calls the baby an escuincle, (esquincle?) which Bob thought might be of Indian origin, and of which Margarita wrote: "it's slang and almost derogatory for a child; much like "mocoso(a)" which literally means a "snot nosed kid."

... but when I found out who the dead guy was, it seemed best to disappear." "Why did you kill my husband?" "He got in the way." Victoria, crying, shouts, "you're garbage - you'll be in here till the day you die." "His Excellency will get me out." "If you get out, I'll kill you."

Cristóbal rushes to Fray Alvaro and reminds him of the indictment of Victoria found in the archive. "Oh, yes, I remember, she was a Jew." "Jewish or not, we're all children of God. She's lived in hiding for 15 years because of this accusation. But she's innocent - today the real killer confessed." "Was it a forced confession?" "No, spontaneous. And I give you my word - it was Amilcar Gasca."

During the review at Sara's house, the only new datum was Victoria's murdered husband's name: Felix.

Fray Alvaro goes to Pardo's headquarters asking for Gasca. Pardo glibly tries to put him off, saying the witness (Ramón) still hasn't shown up. "I come for religious reasons." Alvaro tells Pardo about the testament to Gasca's confession; he will take him away that very moment "to be interrogated until he confesses." "But Gasca works for His Excellency the COUNT OF GUEVARA!" (imagine little jewels hanging between the letters). Fray Alvaro, who looks a little too much like Santa Claus to be believable, says: "The church is far higher than aristocrats and oropeles

oropele: "tinsel, frippery."

His arguments silenced, Pardo hands Gasca over. Knowing he's in for it now, Gasca shouts "That Jewess is a lying traitor dog."

Cristóbal watches Gasca dragged through the street to the church with ropes tied around his neck; the monks waddle placidly behind, their crosses waving in the air. In the torture room, Gasca confesses and your recapper gets some rest. Bald torture guy, screws, racks, etc., Gasca cries out for pity! "Pain purifies and the truth appears" is the calm rejoinder. Later: "OK, I killed him!" "Now tell us how!" Hot branding irons. Gasca is upside down.

Cristóbal then goes home and tells Ramón, who is arranging flowers: "You'll have to testify whether you're terrified or not." He asks Marcos to continue covering for Luis. Marcos asks if Gasca also confessed to shooting Luis. Cristóbal said they hadn't gotten around to that line item yet, but "perhaps Gasca is getting punished for all his sins at the same time."

Antonio tells Hipólita he's given Juana permission to have Rafael visit at the castle. "But she isn't even his real grandmother ... I'm not comfortable with this: Juana doesn't love Luis, she kidnapped Rafael and she tried to kill me." (Typing that made me laugh, she makes such excellent points...) He says he has to stay in good with the Guevaras, he's far from home and his finances "aren't splendid. ... so it behooves us to suck up to important people."

Pardo isn't happy to tell Diego Gasca is being tortured by the Inquisition. "Oh no, he could tell things about me and my family. Kill him, Pardo!" Pardo says it's too hard and even though Diego offers "as much money as it takes" Pardo doesn't want to meddle in the church's affairs.

Diego tells his mother, Juana, about Gasca being in the clutches of the church. She is truly horrified to find out that Diego ordered Agustín's murder. "Well, ma, you yourself told me he was the only person who knew we babies were switched." But back to Gasca: "He could tell about my attempts to kill Luis, ma! We're lost!"

Modesta, looking dreamily away, suggests there are privileged prisoners who get food and drink from home. Diego suggests poisoning Gasca and then - seeing how strung out his mother is - he buries his head in her lap saying "I know I'm worrying you." "You're killing me little by little..."

Fray Alvaro cheerfully reports to Cristóbal that Gasca confessed and then asks, is Diego sick? because he hasn't come yet for his visit to clear up the "problem of Esperanza."

We see Gasca, bloody, dragged through the streets.

Friday: I see we have now gone from ultimas semanas to ultimos capitulos!!

Oh, I have to admit I felt a little sorry for Gasca lying there in the dungeon covered with scratches. I never really bought him as the worst guy in the world. If it were up to me, it would be Francisco lying there. I really hate that dude Francisco.

Santiago seems a little miffed that Gasca is going down, not for the murder of Santiago's father, but for the murder of Marina's father.

Luis is grumbling about being in bed doing nothing when Hipólita arrives. They review. She asks if he knows why Juana would be wanting Rafael to visit her, seeing as how he's not actually her grandson. Luis has given up trying to understand his mother's machinations. He tells Hipólita: "My team thinks I'm Don Carlos's bastard."

Hipólita is afraid Juana will steal Rafael again - and she's not thrilled with the prospect of Rafael being the next Count. "I just want him to grow up happy and normal, not as a despot like Diego." She says Antonio won't give her the divorce - "his life has been unfortunate." "Well how about your life and mine? Hunh." Luis plans to go hide out on a farm (nearby, so H & R can visit) to convalesce; if Diego did indeed instigate his murder, it will be less dangerous if he thinks it was successful.

Asunción is muttering, "Jews!" to Catalina. "Your father is obsessed with that hacienda and dowry." Catalina again brings up as-long-as-they're-happy, the mother says "Happinesss doesn't exist." "It does for me, with Cristóbal." "Just wait, you'll see." "You actually WANT me to be unhappy?" "No, I want for my daughters a life without pain." "I'm sorry for you, mom - you were deceived by your lover, and then you got a husband who's vulgar, insensitive, egotistical..." "That's your father you're talking about!" "Well, he shouldn't humiliate you." "I'm his wife, he has the right to." "Cristóbal says wives and husbands have the same rights." "Just pray he doesn't change."

Francisco, in the headquarters of EL Hampa (i.e. Sara's hideout), is muttering about their being Jews. "Is that inconvenient for you?" "We're Catholics." Sara points out that Victoria converted to Catholicism when she married the Inquisitor's brother, and that Marina was raised Catholic, but Francisco says he's a hidalgo (the lower ranks of nobility) and things need to be put right. "What are you asking?" "I'm asking that you put a haciendo and lands in my name for my lifetime." Victoria, with a twisted smile, reminds him his son doesn't want her. "I'll make him marry her." "She deserves better than a forced marriage, she's young, pretty, rich, and pure despite Diego. Your son's awfully fussy (remilgado). There are others who'd love to marry her."

Francisco leaves and rants at Andrés: "I'm tired of your stubbornness! You'll never have another opportunity like this!" "Matrimony is life-long." "You'll be RICH life-long, like Cristóbal and Luis." "Money's important, but so is dignity." "Don't be stupid, money confers dignity and prestige. When you have money the whole world respects you. Don't be a zopenco (blockhead)." Hits his blockhead son's head. "You better decide, those women have their eye on another candidate." "Marcos...?"

Well, yes. Isabel has Marcos over and asks if he likes Marina. "Yes, but she's in love with Andrés." "Love, pishtush, it comes and goes. You can conquer her, you're a cute guy." "I don't want to put one over on my friend Andrés." "Victoria is considering you as a possible husband for Marina." He looks stunned.

In the market, there is chanting as Modesta toddles by. She has a picnic basket and puts coins in the hands of every single soldier the whole way down the dark tunnels to Gasca's cell. He's sleeping on the floor, shirtless, covered with cuts. "I've come from Juana and Diego." "Can they get me out?" "Of course. Here's food and drink, and I brought salve for your wounds. Did you confess anything?" "Yes, I couldn't take the pain." "What? Did you mention Diego?" "They didn't ask." "When they do, don't talk." He cries and chokes as he stuffs bread into his mouth. Modesta suggests he share the food with other prisoners but he surrounds it with his arms jealously there in the dirt.

Ada's shrill complaints have become so repetitive I want to hit the MUTE button when I see her face. When Hipólita hears her husband Antonio won't be home for dinner, she says she hopes he's with a woman. "I hope he falls in love."

Well, yes. Antonio shows up at Perla's; she's looking very good in her red dress. They've missed each other. "You're the only person in this city I feel happy around." "Everybody feels happy around whores." She complains that the work Francisco promised hasn't come through. "I'm tired of seeking clients in the street. I thought when I had a house things would be better, but they're the same, walking hours in the plaza looking for a good client, a decent man who doesn't hit me and who doesn't leave without paying."

Antonio suggests he could give her a monthly allowance so she wouldn't have to look for anybody. She jumps on the idea - "I'd be your lover? I promise I'll just be yours, I'll be faithful. It isn't my fault I ended up like this ... blah blah blah ..." Now, you and I have heard her make this exact speech before, but it really resonates with Antonio when she says: "Nobody defended me." "No, children can't defend themselves," he says. "People didn't see what was happening to me." "No, they don't..." "Others only see that I'm a whore, disgusting (cochina), a sinner." Antonio remembers his mother shouting about his sinning. "It really comforts me that you understand" "More than you know... We all have a dark side." "You too?" "Why not? I'll tell you some other time, now I have to go. Next time I'll bring your monthly allowance." She picks up one of the coins he leaves and makes the sign of the cross with it!

Juana tells her son Diego, "I need you to help me and all you do is drink." "I'm nervous and only wine calms me down." "You use any pretext." Modesta shows up and gives them the welcome news that Gasca hasn't yet spilled any beans about Diego. "He'll stay quiet if you get him out." "We'll just have to kill him," Diego responds.

Cristóbal and Felipe muse some more about Luis's parentage and then discuss Antonio visiting Perla. "Do you visit whores, Felipe?" "Once in a while, but I've never left Carmela's side." "How is she?" "She's good -- Marcos has been a tremendous comfort." "Isn't that boy ever going to marry? It's good to have a family." Then, stricken, Cristóbal remembers about Martin and apologizes for the sore subject. "There's not a moment of the day I don't think about him." Cristóbal in turn says there's never a time he isn't thanking God for Catalina.

Luis doesn't want to hide out in Valverda, it's too far, he needs Hipólita to visit, "And don't tell me it's a sin, I don't care." He's interested to hear about Antonio and Perla.

Ada noticed Antonio getting back very late, perhaps drunk. Hipólita: "He didn't used to drink." They have the usual conversation. Hipólita says she's going to accept Luis's offer - she'll leave town with him and start a new life. Ada says Antonio will send the authorities after her, but Hipólita's willing to take the risk.

Marcos tells Felipe: "Victoria is considering me as a husband for Marina. I like her, but even though Andrés is being a jackass about it, he loves her and I don't want to betray him. I'm not in love, but I could be a good husband." Felipe says Marcos is a great guy and deserves the best, and suggests he go talk to Andrés.

So he does. He tells Andrés "those women," Marina's mother and grandmother, are seeking a new husband candidate. "Marriage is often not about affection but is a business arrangement, so if you have the luck of liking your future wife, you shouldn't let it pass. I know you have reservations, but what is your guarantee that any future wife would be faithful? Look at Esperanza... So, decide: you go for Marina or I will."

Isabel mentions she saw Modesta leaving with food. Juana: "It's for the, uh, orphans. You don't believe it but Modesta is a good-hearted woman." Isabel tries to figure out what Juana knows about Luis's disappearance. "What has Diego said?" "Nothing."

Then Juana tries to find out what Isabel and Sara de Oviedo discussed. "Sara lives here in Cuencas. She hates you and never will forgive you for denouncing her family." Juana says it's a lie. Isabel: "But I saw you threaten to denounce Sara herself to the Inquisition." "It was just to get rid of her, she was such a busybody (mentiche)." "So you didn't do it?" "Of course not, just cause I didn't like her doesn't mean I'd get rid of her that way." "You did it to keep her away from the palace -- because she'd know Luis wasn't Luis! ... How could you bury your little baby and hide him, all for the money of my brother! ... Did he have a wake, a mass? " "Yeah, the works." "Had he died before you 'found' Luis?" (Juana computes and answers no.) "Did you ever take him flowers? "I did at first" "Shall we go take flowers sometime?" "Yes."

We then see Modesta on a second picnic-basket trip, driving right past the orphans to the dungeon of the Inquisition. She crosses all the palms with silver yet again. Gasca's lying with his head in the breadcrumbs from the previous visit.

Andrés goes to the mistresses of "El Hampa" (the Underworld) and asks if their offer is still open. He'd like to marry Marina. "Is it for the money?" "No, that's not important to me." Victoria smiles.

I post the new update every Wednesday and Saturday morning. All Alborada recaps are now listed in the sidebar to the right - below the small picture of Modesta and Doña Juana, just above the elephant. Click on the numbers (ONE TWO THREE ... ETC) to find them!

Amor Real
Entre el Amor y el Odio
"Telenovela villains meet lurid, dreadful deaths"

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