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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mike does Illustration Friday - "Under the Sea"

We had our painting session this afternoon. Mine looks like wallpaper so unless I have a brainstorm I'm not posting it. This is Mike's.

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A cure for broken watch bands

I'm hard on watches so I always buy cheap ones. In the old days, the wristbands lasted as long as the watches, but in recent years the bands have cracked and broken while the watch still worked!

Solution - crazy glue. How satisfying!

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The Pratie Heads: fiddling at the barbecue

Yesterday's gig was casual. Foster's Restaurant has a narrow lawn covered with picnic tables sandwiched between the building and a busy street. We sat up under the lovely portico and played to a small audience which included the Moomin Light family (it's so much fun to meet blog friends) and a few more internet acquaintances as well as real-life friends and strangers.

This was our trial run on leaving the music stand at home. We went cold turkey on charts and played 2-1/2 hours of music by heart. These last few days have felt like cramming for an exam - we're getting ready for the Celtic Festival and Highland Games at Bethabara Park on May 13.

There were a few flubs but by and large, the synapses are still firing!

I think Bob and I are playing better than we ever did, and we're playing for the joy of it.

Long ago, we took everything so personally - did they play our music on the radio? Did we make "Best Bets" in the local paper? Did enough people come to the show?

Now we both seem to be on the same wavelength: being able to do this is the goal, is the blessing. If other people enjoy it, of course that's great - but maybe we're mostly making this magic for each other.

There was a time in the late 80s when I had trouble with my hand and thought I would never play again - so the good fiddling years since then have been a gift. This is a corollary to "every day above ground is a good day."

And besides that - they fed us chorizo sausages with green salsa and a wonderful jicama slaw! How could this not be an excellent thing!?

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Remember when?

Zed, my son at Wesleyan, sent me the schedule of events for his dorm's outdoor festivities today. Doesn't this make you nostalgic? So while I'm fiddling my fingers off, he'll be here:

Buttstock - Saturday - 1:30 till 6

Live Music
Live (cooked) food
Green, green, lush-green grass
T-shirt stenciling (bring yourself some shirts!)
Butts merchandise (t-shirts, etc.)
Bizarre free drinks in market-testing phase
Only special biodegradable plates, cups, etc (awesome)
Dirty feet
Clean souls
Aaron running a kissing-booth for ... charity

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Badaunt struggles with memo

From Present Simple, one of my favorite blogs, written by Badaunt, a New Zealander teaching ESL in Japan

Mystery memo

On Wednesday one of the Japanese teachers approached me in the teachers' room.

"I have a question about English," he said. "It's just a quick one, won't take long. Do you have time?"

"Of course," I said. "What's is it?"

"I'm wondering how to translate this into English," he said, showing me a memo we'd all received a few days ago.

I stared at the memo. It looked vaguely familiar.

I remembered we'd got a bunch of stuff in our mailboxes, and rather than struggle through them I'd taken my usual easy way out by asking the lovely secretary, and chucking away the ones that weren't important. I seemed to remember that this was one of the 'not important' bits of paper. But I couldn't understand anything on the memo, and felt stupid.

"Which one is that?" I asked, staring at it and struggling to understand even a few words that might give me a clue.

The teacher stared at it, too. "It's about ... it's about ... Well, that's the problem. I don't know how to say it in English."

"How about in Japanese?" I asked. "What's the main topic of the memo?"

He hesitated, looking embarrassed.

"Well, actually, I don't know that, either," he said, finally. "That's why I was asking you. I thought maybe you could make it clearer by putting it in English."

What a sneaky man! He didn't want to admit that he couldn't understand a memo written in his own language, so he asked me to translate it into English so that I would feel stupid instead!

"That must have been one of the ones I threw away," I told him. "Let's ask some of the other teachers."

He really didn't want to, but I insisted. By now I was curious and didn't care whether his feelings would be hurt.

We both stopped feeling stupid when it turned out that nobody understood the memo, including the secretary. Her response to it was to laugh and say,

"Don't worry about it."

Nobody could even begin to explain the TOPIC of the memo, in ANY language.

We decided that if the memo turned out to be important, our lack of response would inspire somebody to write another, clearer memo, and if it wasn't, it didn't really matter.

But now I really want a copy, so The Man can have a go at translating it. I'll have to see if I can get one from another teacher next week. This is the problem, not having adequate Japanese - gems drop in my lap and I don't even notice. That memo must have been a positive MARVEL of obfuscatory prose.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Tips for Fantasy Writers

Found at Pub Rants:

Extracts from
The Fantasy Novelist's Exam
By David J. Parker (Additional Material By Samuel Stoddard)

Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too... Frankly, we're sick of it, so we've compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering "yes" to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once.
  • Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?

  • Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?

  • Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn't know it?

  • Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?

  • Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?

  • How about one that will destroy it?

  • Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about "The One" who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?

  • Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?

  • Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?

  • Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?

  • Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?

  • Does "a forgetful wizard" describe any of the characters in your novel?

  • How about "a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior"?

  • How about "a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons"?

  • Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?

  • Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?

  • Would "a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword" aptly describe any of your female characters?

  • Would "a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan" aptly describe any of your female characters?

  • Is any character in your novel best described as "a dour dwarf"?

  • How about "a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage"?

  • Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?

  • Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?

  • Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like "The Blasted Lands" or "The Forest of Fear" or "The Desert of Desolation" or absolutely anything "of Doom"?

  • Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you've read the entire book, if even then?

  • Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?

  • Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?

  • Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you're still many sequels away from finishing your "story"?

  • Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?

  • Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?

  • Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?

  • Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?

  • Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named "Tim Umber" and "Belthusalanthalus al'Grinsok"?

  • Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?

  • How about "orken" or "dwerrows"?

  • At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?

  • Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don't?

  • Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?

  • Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won't break the plot?

  • Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?

  • Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?

  • Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?

  • Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?

  • Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?

  • Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?

  • Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?

  • Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an "on the road" meal?

  • Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?

  • Do you think that "mead" is just a fancy name for "beer"?

  • Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?

  • Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?

  • Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?

  • Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?

  • Read that question again and answer truthfully.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

A local concert announcement

Watch Melinama and Bob play without paper!
The Pratie Heads at Foster's Market in Durham, NC
Saturday, April 29, 4-6:30 pm

2694 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd (489-3944)

My day

Yesterday started with a bat bouncing around my room at 5 am. Perhaps she was the founding mother of this year's maternal colony.

Bob came over at 9:30 and we practiced till noon. We are trying to make the shift from reading our music off charts to having it all memorized. In the 1980s we had about four hours of music down pat - and, happily, some of it stuck through the intervening decades - but there's a lot to pack back in there and some of it keeps falling out. Kind of like the stuff on my closet shelves.

I went to school earlier than usual so I could show "Duncan y Dolores" to Menticia's teacher. Last week I got Menticia to translate the book into Spanish (she did it fairly casually while eating french fries at MacDonald's). I posted a page from this book earlier, and here's another:

Menticia looked calm as her teacher exclaimed, "This is awesome!!" but I've learned to read that calm face and I know she was pleased as punch.

Then we went to an Italian joint for snack. There was only one other customer, an endomorphic young man sitting in a nearby booth with an entire sausage pizza. Menticia ate two pepperoni slices while she explained the algebra game they've been playing in math class, and then we played and she bounced up and down with excitement and hid her own equations (the ones I had to figure out) by writing them very small on her napkin and hiding them with her hand...

Then the talk swung around to telenovelas. She's enjoying La Fea Más Bella, a comedy about a secretary who's too ugly to get a good job. The pretty bimbo idiot girl in a skintight miniskirt gets the good office, and Lety, the ugly one, works in a closet. (Let's see, do you think in the end Lety will lose the braces and the glasses and the ugly clothes and turn out to be pretty?)

I said, "This isn't entirely invented - I've read that pretty people make more money and have more success - and that ugly and overweight people suffer discrimination at work."

To my surprise, the endomorphic gentleman across the way piped up and said, "I did my research on that topic." So naturally I just took Menticia and we plopped ourselves over in his booth and I started pumping him for info. Menticia is so short she could barely see him around the pedestal which supported his pizza.

He is now a law student, but worked with a researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill as an undergraduate. They interviewed people about their success or lack of success at work - and graded them as ugly or beautiful on that quantified scale developed by countless people voting on random faces.

He said: In fields where brains are most important (according to him, the hard sciences and computing) obesity is not an impediment, but in fields such as marketing and sales, it is very damaging. He said: The richer people are, the more thinness matters to them. He said a lot more but I've forgotten most of it now - he may send me a link to his research and if he does I'll share it with you.

That was a serendipitous meeting! Menticia was quite interested (though she maintained her calm, of course).

We went home and finished the algebra. Negative numbers made their first appearance in our work -- thus it was that I found myself drawing number lines for the first time in a long, long while. That was fun, I like number lines... Menticia can now multiply fractions, though she still can't tell me what half of a third is.

This is the first picture I ever took of Menticia in which I caught her laughing! Success! I snapped it as she worked on her South Carolina report. The way they do it, these days, there's a long list of required data, for instance:

1. State Bird
2. Agricultural Products
3. State Senators

So this is what you do: put "South Carolina Senators" into Google, and out comes the answer. So you cut and paste it into your file, and on to the next question.

I don't want to be a fuddy duddy, and I realize the method used when I was Menticia's age was not so great either. We did our research using ten-year-old encyclopedias and patronizing, dumbed-down books for juveniles. But with the modern method it's pretty easy for information to pass from window to window - via cut-and-paste clipboard procedures - without coming anywhere near the actual brain.

There were a zillion South Carolina questions (far more than we could have been asked to answer in the old days, when we actually had to write the words down ourselves, with pencils, on pieces of paper) so we were at it till pretty late.

Luckily, we had suitable music as we worked: we'd discovered, via Google, that the Sea Islands off the Georgia coast fall notably into the required "other landforms" category. (At least until global warming submerges them.) So I dug up my cd of Georgia Sea Islands Songs and Spirituals and Menticia really liked this rhythmic, mostly a cappella music.

We had some spaghetti and baby carrots, and Menticia read Redwall to me as I drove her home.

Then I watched half of the new 9:00 telenovela, Barrera de Amor. This one stars a laughably unlovely guy I call Unibrow as the love interest, but the real star is the evil mother. Beware of telenovela mothers who dress in black and carry canes! The last one (in Alborada) poisoned her own son; this one is poisoning her daughter-in-law, and just tonight burned two women alive while calling to God, "You are guiding my hand! Your daughters are already standing before you!" She also killed her husband - who had the hots for another woman - by siccing a giant ravening bull on him. If you want to know more, you can of course visit the new telenovela site, Caray! Caray!.

UPDATE: after I finished writing this and turned off the light, the bat started bouncing off the walls again. It was in here all day! Now I'm creeped out. Might as well just get up and start the next day already. Caray!

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

From "The Quotations Page"

If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon.

George Aiken

Reminds me of the famous Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment.

My evening

Last night was the annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). (Here is Wikipedia on Yom Hashoah and here is another relevant site and here is my 2005 post.)

I've been singing for this event every year since the mid-1980s. Organized by Yiddish professor Sheva Zucker and biology professor Ron Grunwald among others, the committee features a holocaust survivor each year who relates his or her personal war experience. Members of the community light candles for friends and family murdered by the Nazis.

Tonight I sang Mayn Shvester Khaye, an incredibly gorgeous poem by Binem Heller set to music by Chava Alberstein. Sheva's daughter, a student in 6th grade, sang "Tsum Besern Morgn" (To a Better Morning) and she slayed me. What a pure, intense voice she has, and her Yiddish accent is very good, too, as one might expect. This dark, beautiful child, slim and haunting, gives a face to the many children who died in the concentration camps and never had a chance to grow up.

Watching extremely elderly members of our Jewish community struggling up to the bimah to light commemorative candles, I feel a shiver, stronger each year, seeing our eyewitnesses dwindle and fail.

Our speaker was Esther Gutman Lederman, who has written of her experiences in a memoir called "Outlasting Hitler's Armies." I couldn't find it on the internet, perhaps it hasn't been published yet. Esther and her boyfriend, as teenagers, hid in the woods without food for days and were then sheltered in a house behind a secret wall for 22 months.

Well, all that emotion didn't keep me down for long. On the way home, still dressed in my concert duds, I was hungry and stopped at Subway for a sandwich; the only customer in the place was Carl Jones, a great picker whom I met long ago when Joe Newberry (who has the best pipes in the Triangle) brought him along to play for the Solstice Extravaganza. You can download a free mp3 of Joe and Carl, with Andy Cahan, singing "In the Bleak Midwinter," here.

Carl is a real down-home kind of guy, so I experienced a little culture shock there in the Subway after the Holocaust Memorial service... but his down-home attitude certainly cheered me up! We talked a bit about our kids, happy that we've passed bits of ourselves along to the next generation - his daughter is singing and playing Cajun music, my son has an international music radio show at Wesleyan - "Around the World with DJ Zed." In a sober synchrony, while I was singing at our service, Zed was at Wesleyan's service, signed up for a half-hour of reading the names of the dead.

And there's Melina, of course, blogging here with me! She'll be taking over when I go to Seattle next week...

Anyway, sitting there at Subway, both a bit more grizzled than we were when we last met, teaching at Pinewoods Camp, Carl and I allowed as how we're glad our hands still work.

This morning, friends, I was woken up by a bat in my bedroom! How did it get here? Is it an early arrival, preparing for this year's maternal colony? I opened my balcony door, dived back in bed, and waited for the bouncing around to stop. I think it's gone now.

My last thought for now is - our president is an idiot. I'm afraid I'm going to be put on a security blacklist for saying so - but how can his answer to high oil prices be to stop putting oil in the Strategic Reserves? "There, I've fixed it." Or how can politicians think "rolling back" gas taxes is a fix? These responses remind me of that excellent bumper sticker: "The Lottery Is a Tax on People Who Are Bad At Math."

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Biodiesel and cleaner air from algae

Extracts from
Algae - like a breath mint for smokestacks

By Mark Clayton for The Christian Science Monitor

BOSTON – Isaac Berzin is a big fan of algae. The tiny, single-celled plant, he says, could transform the world's energy needs and cut global warming.

... Dr. Berzin, a rocket scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology ... came up with the idea for using [algae] to clean up power-plant exhaust.

Bolted onto the exhaust stacks of a brick-and-glass 20-megawatt power plant behind MIT's campus are rows of fat, clear tubes, each with green algae soup simmering inside.

Fed a generous helping of CO2-laden emissions, courtesy of the power plant's exhaust stack, the algae grow quickly even in the wan rays of a New England sun. The cleansed exhaust bubbles skyward, but with 40 percent less CO2 (a larger cut than the Kyoto treaty mandates) and another bonus: 86 percent less nitrous oxide.

After the CO2 is soaked up like a sponge, the algae is harvested daily. From that harvest, a combustible vegetable oil is squeezed out: biodiesel for automobiles. Berzin hands a visitor two vials - one with algal biodiesel, a clear, slightly yellowish liquid, the other with the dried green flakes that remained. Even that dried remnant can be further reprocessed to create ethanol, also used for transportation.

GreenFuel has already garnered $11 million in venture capital funding and is conducting a field trial at a 1,000 megawatt power plant owned by a major southwestern power company. Next year, GreenFuel expects two to seven more such demo projects scaling up to a full production system by 2009.

One key is selecting an algae with a high oil density - about 50 percent of its weight. Because this kind of algae also grows so fast, it can produce 15,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre. Just 60 gallons are produced from soybeans, which along with corn are the major biodiesel crops today.

Berzin calculates that just one 1,000 megawatt power plant using his system could produce more than 40 million gallons of biodiesel and 50 million gallons of ethanol a year. That would require a 2,000-acre "farm" of algae-filled tubes near the power plant. There are nearly 1,000 power plants nationwide with enough space nearby for a few hundred to a few thousand acres to grow algae and make a good profit, he says.

In 1990, Sheehan's NREL program calculated that just 15,000 square miles of desert (the Sonoran desert in California and Arizona is more than eight times that size) could grow enough algae to replace nearly all of the nation's current diesel requirements.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Melina: the minor adventures (Fire Island)

Last week, when it hit 80 degrees and the sun was shining, I took the day off work to go to the beach. I picked Fire Island because it looked cool, and was far away from New York, yet it seemed you could get there on public transportation.

I went to Penn Station and stood in line with all the drones watching the electronic board obsessively, so that we would know the exact soonest second possible when the train would come.

While on the train, I finished my book too quickly and was forced to pass the time experimenting with face art.

Once you get to the correct railroad stop, it's a 20 minute walk to the ferry terminal. The ferry terminal, this early in the season, was filled with people trying to refurnish their second homes for the summer. Each family carried the things they considered the most indispensible for the beach season: the practical folks were toting giant packs of toilet paper; the ambitious were bringing garden plants and gallons of latex paint; and of course, many were just bringing enormous cases of beer.

You get on the ferry with all these people and ride over to the island. There are no roads between the "communities" of fire island, only footpaths; so you have to know which of the several ferry stops to take, and then you're pretty much stuck there. I got off at Ocean Beach, which was recommended to me by the ferryman because "They have public bathrooms there." I would only later learn what a significant statement this was.

The ride was beautiful.

About Ocean Beach itself, I have a mixed recommendation. The beach was stunning: pristine, empty. Couldn't be improved on. It inspired me to new heights of face art.

The town itself, though, sort of gave me the creeps. It reminded me of the prefab ye-olde-townes that proliferated in the New South suburbs where I grew up. You know, where all the artful wooden restaurants date to the exact same era (1997), and ye-olde-streetes are made wide enough for four lanes of SUVs, which gives you a sort of agoraphobic, windswept feeling when you cross the street from ye-olde-corner-store to ye-old-ice-cream-shoppe.

I'm actually fairly tolerant of this stuff in practice. No matter what kind of pre-fab siding they're wearing, ice cream shops are an unequivocal public good. But what made it so weird on Fire Island was that the town WASN'T SET UP YET for the season. It was ye-olde-in-progress. Day laborers were hard at work erecting the faux-antique facades and hammering together 2x4"s for ye-quainte-pier. There were about 30 people in the whole town: 2 leathery old ladies running the general store, 4 high school girls pretending to be comfortable in their teeny bikinis (ah, the bad old days...), and the rest in construction.

There wasn't even anywhere to pee, as the public bathrooms were not yet open for the season. (And yes, I considered the ocean, but it was too cold to even go in up to my ankles!) Lucky, some old guy took pity on me and showed me to a fully functioning bathroom inside a half-built building behind a protective security fence.

The other disturbing thing about the town was that there were are all these rich-white-totalitarian laws in effect - there are actually laws against eating outside in certain areas of the town. The signs say so. What the hell kind of a beach town *is* this? Whose idea of paradise excludes the eating of an ice cream cone on the street? I later read that it was only last year that they decided homeowners could barbecue in their own back yards.

I killed a solid few hours on the beach, in perfect blissful aloneness and peace. However, I did leave sooner than I thought I would - I was disturbed by the fact that I had no high school posse, nor a beach home to retreat into, nor a construction job. Thus I felt like a vagrant, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong, that ye-olde-Ocean-Beach policeman might be about to drive up and arrest me for something. Maybe taking pictures illicitly, or having untied shoes.

Anyway, ocean paradise is well and good, and I never thought I'd say this, but next time I'm going to a beach with more young vagrants, cigarette butts, and disorderly conduct. Oh yeah, and public bathrooms.


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The ant and the elephant

I heard this joke at the end of an episode of Hill Street Blues, which I was watching while I worked out.

An ant and an elephant make love all night.

Next morning, the ant wakes up and finds that the elephant is dead.

"Damn," says the ant, "one night of passion and I spend the rest of my life digging a grave!"

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

So I've Achieved Success ?!

From The Quotations Page:

You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what you're doing is work or play. -- Warren Beatty

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Make Lemon Pie

From the lovely "Prepare to Meet Your Bakerina," this post:
When life hands you lemons, make lemon pie

For someone who spends every blustery subzero February singing to the universe to bring spring forth already, I have not been adjusting well to spring this year, dear friends.

I had thought that the arrival of longer days, bright yellow sunshine and ridiculously-saturated blue skies would have been just the thing to clear winter's cobwebs away, but instead all that sunshine has done is illuminate just what a poor job I've done keeping those cobwebs from forming in the first place.

It's not that there is anything wrong, outside of the usual collection of irritants and whimsies of which life consists; it's just that my attitude about it all has been so terrible. To call it pessimism is to miss the mark slightly: not only is the glass half-empty, but if I had been a better person I would have remembered to buy more water so that the glass could always remain full.

...if there is one thing worse than morose torpor, it's realizing that you have given up the past week/six months/ten years of your life to morose torpor.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

The party's over, the guests all leave.

Well, friends, my marathon project of blogging the five-day-a-week telenovela Alborada has finally ended.

Last night, my readers mixed themselves margaritas and settled in to watch the 90-minute Grand Finale. I sat down with my clipboard and blogged my little fingers off.

I'm exhausted from staying up so late every night, but it's been a great adventure.

For one thing, this blog went from about 250 visitors a day to as many as 1200 on big Alborada days.

For another, these new visitors were kind and enthusiastic and left lots of comments. They helped me with my Spanish, looked up historical anachronisms, and called their mothers-in-law in Puerto Rico and Mexico when none of us could figure out some obscure phrase. They laughed at my jokes.

What an amazing experience it must be for telenovela actors. A typical production comprises about 80 hours, somebody wrote. That's got to be months and months of spending all day long with your fellow actors, in beautiful clothes, creating, but also living, an intense fantasy.

Another funny thing about my new visitors is that they really let themselves drool over the protagonist (left). A couple times the producer let this guy take off his shirt and show his (anachronistic) big muscles. My readers fell off their chairs, they told me...

There is a grand showcasing in the telenovelas of an old-fashioned, regal kind of acting - usually portraying the villains and villainesses - which was born on the stage, centuries ago. I enjoyed it very much. Our gringo villains are rarely so impressive, rarely drenched in blood, their heads held high, giving wonderful speeches completely lacking in remorse!

This particular villainess, dying of cancer, last night prayed to God, with her rosary wrapped around her knuckles, as she knowingly drank poison. Then she had her indian servant (who in real life was one of the directors of the novela) put this tiara on her head! And she staggered down the hall to her son's room - he was dying of syphilis, but not fast enough - and poisoned him too! And lay down in bed with his corpse, wearing her tiara, and died!

Friends - you can't beat that. Regular programming at Pratie Place resumes tomorrow.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Telenovela Alborada, #36 (the end)

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.

Friday: OK friends, here we go for the last time!

Flogging time for our adulterous heroine. Did you notice that, although it's Hipólita who's getting flogged, it's Ada who needs three people supporting her as she sobs? And how do you like the big fat executioner in spandex tights? Doesn't he remind you of tweedle-dum (or tweedle-dee)? Is he a leftover from some wrestling show? Or will he, perhaps, turn up again some day as the next pudgy veterinarian love-interest?


In the crowd, below the flogging-station, Marcos asks Cristóbal: "What if Luis doesn't get back in time? Higinio and the guys are ready, will you give the sign?" Cristóbal sighs at the innocent people who might get hurt, says it's the hardest decision he's ever made, and then says OK, we'll do it ...

Hipólita watches another woman, a thief, being flogged. Then it's her turn. They drone away about her sin, the evidence, and her confession. They tear her dress down the back and start flogging. (At least the executioner is behind her so she doesn't have to see his ghastly fat belly hanging over his black leather belt.)

OK, that's it: Cristóbal gives the sign! Higinio and his gang surge forward! The dignitaries in wigs stand in astonishment!

And suddenly, Luis gallops up! "Let her go! I have her pardon from the Viceroy!"

Fray Alvaro doesn't believe the Viceroy really issued a pardon, and even if he did, the Church is a higher authority than civil government. Alvaro says, clear the way so the punishment can continue...

... but just then, up rides a guard: "Stop in the name of the Viceroy!" Here comes the Viceroy's carriage, and here is the Viceroy himself. He gets on stage and says "Faith can't win with cruelty, it wins with piety and understanding. The Inquisition has been abolished in Spain, and as of today, it is abolished here in New Spain too!" Alvaro is discomfited, Team Luis hugs. Luis helps Hipólita off the stage.

In a darkened bedroom, Modesta and Juana discuss the dramatic rescue, and Eloise's father's request that his daughter's marriage with Diego be annulled.

Juana: "Here are two letters, one for the regidor with my confession and the other is for Luis. I told the regidor you're not to blame for anything. After ... I hope you'll go back to your hometown. Asi es y asi sera. Juana drinks the poisoned wine, a rosary wrapped around her wrist. She kisses Modesta's hand.

Cristóbal tends Hipólita's wounds. Luis: "Forgive me for not getting there sooner." She says it was her proper punishment, he says it was cruelty. Dagoberto comes in and says: "Antonio is dying and wants to say goodbye to Hipólita." She hadn't known about his fight with Diego, and his attempt to lie for her to the regidor.

In his own dark room, Diego tells his servants to make his cushions comfy and bring him wine. "The doctor only wants you drinking infusions." "I don't care what that fool said, I don't want his disgusting potions, I want wine."

Here comes Modesta with wine ... very SPECIAL wine, Diego ..."Here, it will help you recover your strength." "See, you imbeciles? Bring me a whole bottle." He drinks, but it isn't the best vintage.... "This is dreadful, bring me the good stuff. ... How's my mom?" Evasively, Modesta replies: "Praying for herself and for you."

Perla's with Antonio when Luis and Hipólita appear. She retires, rather unwillingly; Luis and Antonio acknowledge each other with dignity and Luis retires too. Hipólita: "They told me what you did for me, Antonio, I appreciate it with all my soul." Antonio makes the final of his many deathbed speeches. "You earned it ... Diego promised (to retract) and then attacked me treacherously. ... You're at liberty now. I just wanted us to say goodbye so I could die in peace." "I'm sorry, I feel so guilty." "Let's be done with guilt and fault-finding, it was I who made the first mistake."

He continues with his self-analyzing (he talks like a guy who sees a shrink regularly): "You know what my problem has always been? I always sought the approval of others, first and foremost my mother and, later, you. It never occurred to me that the only one who had to approve of me was - me." She mentions others who've loved him. He interrupts and changes the subject: "You love Luis, I understand, he's a good man and he really loves you. But I, I also loved you, in my way." "I also love you a lot." "I know I don't have the right to ask this because I was never affectionate with Rafaelito, but my deepest desire is that you take care of my child." She says she will. They smile, hold hands, he dies. Por fin!

Just outside the deathbed scene, Perla complains again about Antonio inconveniently dying before he could give his name to the baby. "I'm a child of the earth, I never cared about name or family, but I hoped my child would have a decent life."

Luis crossly says she needs to do something about it herself, and she says she wants to. Marcos looks on, sort of hang-dog. I guess it's supposed to be love ... Perla contines: "Also, Antonio wanted me to marry a good man, but who would marry a whore who's carrying another man's baby?"

Voiceover of Juana praying in Latin; we cut to her not looking so good after drinking her poisoned wine. "Do you think it's time?" Modesta nods and puts Juana's tiara on her! We wouldn't want to die without our tiara, would we?

Juana and Modesta stagger down the hall to Diego's room. The servant reports: "He got the wine he asked for and now he's asleep." Juana: "All of you, get out!"

Diego's lying in his longjohns with his creepy white mask. Juana gets in bed with him! She gives her cane to Modesta, she won't be needing it any more!

She embraces the sleeping Diego, saying "Pardon me, my dear son - I couldn't allow you to face people's scorn. It was all my fault. I ask God's pardon, for both of us." She holds his mask over his face! Modesta cries quietly, head bowed in sorrow. The mask falls! A wonderful wind blows the curtains open and a beam of light falls across the bodies in the bed!

Now Modesta uses the creepy mask as a death mask - and we realize this scene was set up months ago...

Isabel arrives, barking that Diego and Juana must write a confession (that Luis is the true Count) and vacate the castle immediately! Modesta says "They're, uh, asleep" -- Isabel bustles right by and starts shouting at them. But they're dead, she soon discovers. She's really freaked!

Modesta gives Juana's letter for Luis to his servant and then sits with the Regidor as he reads the letter Juana sent him: "I exchanged the babies... [etc]" Modesta says: "I know the note says I'm guiltless, but it's not true, I helped the whole way. ... before the eyes of God nothing is hidden, nobody escapes, and now I put myself in your hands to be punished. Juana and Diego are now in front of the Creator - she asked me and I poisoned them, they're dead." Beyond indignant, he yells: "Put her in jail and then straight to the gallows, no trial for her!"

Luis and Cristóbal visit the corpses. Luis kneels. "Seeing them thus, I finally understand why she did what she did - she loved her son above everything." Cris thinks there was more to it - ambition? "We are complicated beings..." "They say death purifies, and I think it's true because all their anger is gone. ... All that's left to me is profound pain."

Luis reads Juana's note: "You always thought I didn't love you, but it isn't true. I was never an affectionate person, and I didn't want to enflame Diego's jealousy of you, but in this last moment of my life, I confess to you that I would have preferred a thousand times that you had been my son. I beg pardon for all the damage I did you, even though I know neither you nor your father will forgive me." He holds the note to his heart and then burns it.

Juana and Diego lie in state together, all in white, many important people in attendance at the funeral. Incredibly, their sins are never revealed -- after the Old Dude, Sara, and Dagoberto all tell the Regidor they were eyewitnesses to Luis being the Count, Regidor points out that a family as important as this one should suppress this sort of irregularity. Luckily, since Luis is the next Count anyway, there's no need to air the gossip... The Regidor gives Luis the special Count-of-Guevara beanie and secret handshake. There are manly hugs all round and brass fanfares. Cristobal gives his usual sanctimonious advice.

Elsewhere, Perla cries and asks Marcos to thank Luis for taking care of Antonio's funeral mass and burial. "Now I'm alone and pregnant..." "I always told you to count on me." They embrace.


Felipe is ripping black crepe off his house. "Enough already with the mourning, I want us to be happy again." He's bought Carmela a pretty not-black dress that she can wear to Luis and Hipólita's wedding next day. She says she's happy at his side. They embrace quite fervently. He tells her she's beautiful. Aww!

Luis and Hipólita wed at last. These long crowd scenes are, I think, an opportunity for the cast to say goodbye and enjoy their last moments in the sun. Isabel wanted a bigger event. Felipe says he feels proud, like a father, whereupon Carmela tells him he will, in fact, be a father again - she's pregnant. There is a long, stupid dance in the plaza (no comparison to that magnificent ballroom scene in Amor Real).

Perla complains to Marcos: "I'm fatter every day." "And sexier!" AGAIN she complains about her child growing up "the child of nobody." Marcos: "I don't know how to say this. You know I've always liked you, and I understand your life - once you told me I'm not your type - but I'm a good, honorable man, the kind Antonio told you to find..." "But I'm expecting a child that's not yours." "I didn't know MY father, either, but Don Felipe took care of me, raised me, helped me, gave me affection -- why can't I do the same for your child?" "Why didn't I ever notice you?" "You did..." "I always had affection for you, Marcos."

Luis and the very pregnant Hipólita have some sweet kissies. My guess is that a lot of people complained to Ms. Estrada about there being no happiness for the protagonists at the end of Amor Real - in the last scene of that telenovela, Colunga was deposited, half dead in a wagon full of straw, at his love's farm after months or years of her thinking him dead! No kissies! That was no fun! So now, kissies.

Elsewhere, Asunción is bustling along saying "NO!" Francisco promises, "Everything's going to be different." "I don't believe you, I'm tired of your reproaches, your nastiness, your wine, everything! I've decided!" He barks, "You're not going! because you're my woman." "All you care about is the hacienda, you don't care about your son or daughter, I'll talk to them and explain what hell my life has been at your side, they'll help me." "If you leave, don't come back!" "I don't intend to come back." She drives off in a carriage! Hurrah!

More months pass. Hipólita has her baby. All the women are in the room exhorting. Catalina is scared but she wants to stay, to see what she has to look forward to. The guys are out in the hall, Luis is hyperventilating. It's a girl, and she's "completita." They name her Aurora, after Luis's mom.

Later, Asuncion tells Hipólita: "You're a wonderful woman, daughter - your determination and courage used to scare me but now I admire you. You're the best mother I've known - I'm sorry I didn't defend you the way you defend Rafael - forgive me for abandoning you, and for being such a lousy mother when you came to find me again."

Francisco shows up and wants to talk. Asunción crossly asks him what he's doing there. "I ask you to come back - I miss you, I need you - I never told you but I always felt affection for you." "You never showed it." "Hipólita and my son taught me a lesson."

Oh, how I continue to hate Francisco as he selfishly continues: "I don't want to live alone. Also, I'm your husband, I'm ashamed that you're living with your children." "That bothers me a little too - so I'll think about it. But at the first provocation, I'll come back to them forever." "I'll never give you reason to complain." "Also it's lonely out there, so I want to spend part of my time there and part here." He agrees.

Really, I'd prefer that she dress in black leather and put her spiked stiletto to his throat and whip him, but you can't always get what you want.

Last scene: It's a group baptism, I think, with a zillion people.

The producers rented a boatload of babies for this scene. Everybody has a baby. They spent extra to get those special, quiet, calm babies. The babies that come from the pod people.

In the crowd, Francisco gives Asunción a flower; seeing this, Isabel gets a little sneer of suspicion on her face, just as I do.

Lastly, Aurelio rushes up and gives news to Cristóbal, who immediately jumps up on the stage and delivers it to the crowd. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the struggle for independence has succeeded, we are a free country, Viva Equality!"

He, an aristocrat loaded with dough, looks happy about the revolution. But I have to say it - I really must - concerning equality: There is not much of it in evidence, not back then and not now, either!

But let's not be churlish! As our cast jostles happily, hugs, and enjoys their armfuls upon armfuls of eerily clean quiet babies, I bid you good night!

Any future blogging of telenovelas will take place at My complete set of Alborada recaps, however, will remain here at Pratie Place indefinitely. The full list 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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This is why I love Language Log...

This is why I love Language Log. Josh Fruhlinger at the Comics Curmudgeon had posted this picture and this commentary:
So this is the cookie aisle, right? And all the boxes are arranged on the shelf so that their fronts, with their lovingly detailed close-up pictures of delicious, delicious cookies, are turned so as to be largely invisible to hungry shoppers, while their sides, with detailed information about the massive amounts of fat, industrial chemicals, and animal byproducts in said cookies, are prominently displayed for all to see. Plus, the boxes are all a muted brown. Where do these people shop, the Depressing Store?

Also (and this next paragraph is an extended shout-out to my professional linguist homies over at the Language Log, who have linked to me several times despite my near-total absence of linguistics content), I’ve always found the verb construction Mom’s deploying here pretty stilted and weird. It’s a verb of being governing a negative infinitive, which makes it … well, hell, if I knew that, I’d be writing "I analyze syntax so you don’t have to," or, you know, the Language Log, instead of this thing. I reached back a decade and rummaged around my half-remembered memories of Latin for a while and came out with the phrase "hortatory subjunctive," but I don’t think that’s right...

And Mark Liberman at Language Log responded:
As far as I know, [this construction] doesn't have an established name in traditional grammar. The OED gives sense II 11b. for to:

Expressing duty, obligation, or necessity. (a) with inf. act.: is to..= is bound to, has to.., must.., ought to...

and gives these citations, among others:

1591 SHAKES. Two Gent. II. iii. 37 Thy Master is ship'd, and thou art to post after with oares.

1598 -- Merry W. IV. ii. 128 You are not to goe loose any longer, you must be pinnion'd.

1887 'L. CARROLL' Game of Logic i. §1. 9 What, then, are you to do?

And CGEL distinguishes among six uses of be (p. 113):

  1. She was a lawyer. [copula be]
  2. She was sleeping peacefully. [progressive be]
  3. They were seen by the security guard. [passive be]
  4. You are not to tell anyone. [quasi-modal be]
  5. She has been to Paris twice already [motional be]
  6. Why don't you be more tolerant? [lexical be]

The be in iv is called "quasi-modal" because it "has clear semantic affinities with the central modal auxiliaries, and syntactically it resembles them in ... [that] it can't appear in a secondary form:
  • I resent being not to tell anyone
  • The meeting had been to be chaired by the premier.
It lacks all the other modal auxiliary properties, however..."

So I guess the right terminology would be something like "quasi-modal be with an infinitive of obligation" ...

[In the CC comments section, Jimmy says "Thel should have said you weren't to open those until we got home," which is a usage of the Past Future Perfect Laudatory Declamatory Tense Twice Removed...

and Scipio tries heroically to assimilate it to Latin: "I think what you're searching for is negative future passive participle, specifically,
"tibi non aperturum est donec domi revenerimus."
"it's not to be opened by you until we shall have returned home."

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Telenovela Alborada, #35

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.

FRIENDS: the current plan is to migrate the telenovela adventure to starting with Jean's recap of the Cristina show appearances of the Alborada cast. We are going to pick up with Barrera de Amor, the new 9:00 novela, midstream. I have already posted the synopsis and the cast of characters, with commentary and pictures. There will be one more recap here, of the Friday finale, and then - we're off! But please come back here to Pratie Place to visit, anyway, OK?

Wednesday: To judge by the comments, an awful lot of you are obsessed with the possibility of seeing Luis without his shirt on again. I have to say, I think the chances are slight, so don't erase those old beefcake episodes from your Tivos...

Speaking of beefcake, the Wednesday episode opens with a splendid procession of lots of good-looking guys on horses galloping through the dust. It is Team Luis, back from witness-gathering operations in Valverde (where Old Dude Epifanio was picked up) and Monforte (where they collected Sara, aka La Poderosa).

There is a large tree, just the one, by the side of the road, and it has ten bandits craftily concealed in it. They are like my squirrels, who feel similarly well hidden when they are on a tree-trunk.


Higinio, who signed onto Ramon's operation out of curiosity and with the idea, perhaps, that he could thwart some evil-doing, idly asks Ramon (who was hired by Diego to murder Luis on this return trip), "Who is it we're we killing today?"

Ramon says he has trust issues and Higinio should mind his own beeswax. "But aren't we all thieves, don't we all have dead consciences, doesn't money rule us all?"

Before this persuasive argument takes effect, Team Luis rides up. Ramon and the hired help aim their rifles - but at the last minute Higinio pushes Ramon's rifle and Luis, though thrown to the ground somehow, is not dead. Pandemonium ensues.

Sara pokes her head out of the carriage to see what's going on and the sight of her electrifies the hired help, some of whom had probably been members of her own lowlife rabble. "It's La Poderosa, don't shoot!" All scatter as Ramon shouts: "Don't be cowards!"

Ramon rushes toward Luis, who's still on the ground - but Luis skewers Ramon before he himself can be skewered, and Ramon falls dead. Everybody gallops off except Arcadio, who kneels sadly and nobly over his dead - well, hmm, what do we call the guy who's not the sidekick?

Isabel, Catalina and Ada bustle into the dungeon with an all-important permission slip and the supplies they gathered for our beleaguered heroine. (I'm surprised Ada didn't bring that stuffed boy Rafael and shove him in the faces of all the bloody screaming people.)

Going down in the dungeon is like those toll-roads in New England where you stop every mile or two to throw in your quarters - even WITH a permission slip, Catalina and Isabel are putting coins in every outstretched hand as they go deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth!

Hipólita is crouched in a corner in her pearl-covered dress, crying. They swear they'll get her out and all hug and sob. "You have to eat, for the baby's sake. ... and whatever happens, deny the adultery. Say Rafael is solely Luis's child and that you're now pregnant by your husband." "Maybe Antonio won't lie for me. ... I'm afraid for the baby, I don't want to lose her."

Diego grandly tells his mother Juana: "Yes, I accused her (of adultery), because in front of my wife she shouted that I am not the Count of Guevara." "Do you realize you've dug your own grave? Luis will never pardon you - she's expecting a second child by him." "Yes, I know." "You KNEW, and still you did this?" "Don't worry, he'll never know..." "You've hired somebody to kill him AGAIN?" "I've spent more than 30 years as the Count of Guevara and I'll never step down, I'd die first." "Dead you'll be." Juana staggers off.

In an interesting series of long, silent shots, Diego cries soundlessly. Meanwhile, Juana tells Modesta: "We're falling apart from the inside." Her mouth is bloody. This is great TV.

The placid Fray Alvaro sits complacently in his office as always. Juana has dragged her sick self there to say: "Diego isn't right in the head and he was mistaken in his accusation." Alvaro: "What, another crazy person in the palace, like Esperanza?!" (Maybe it's the water.) Juana: "He drinks and loses his senses." (Oh, so it's the booze.) Alvaro: "Nevertheless, I have to investigate - adultery is a serious charge, with a severe punishment." "I swear she's not an adulteress."

Aurelio gallops up to Team Luis and tells them Hipólita's in prison. They gallop away to save her.

Antonio gets home, gets the news, and immediately goes to Fray Alvaro. "My spouse has never been unfaithful." "The count, though, said Luis's child is hers and that she's expecting another by him." "Not true, the baby is mine." For some reason, the Count's word carries greater weight with Alvaro than the testaments of Antonio and Juana.

As Antonio is leaving the office, Team Luis arrives. They descend into the depths to see Hipólita, but are blocked because they don't have the magic permission slip. This just turns out to mean that instead of one coin per hand, Felipe has to follow behind Luis handing out hefty little bags right and left. Luis and Hipólita have a tearful, intimate reunion, perhaps not wisest in view of all the guards...

Luis wants to kill "half the world" and kidnap Hipólita away, but it's pointed out that four against lots is not good odds. Luis: "Then I'll tell Diego I'll renounce the title if he'll retract his accusation."

Juana: "Diego, you must tell Alvaro you were misled by rumors." "No, she's a bitch and Luis isn't coming back." "Luis has more lives than a cat, how many times have you told me he wouldn't be back, he'll be back this time too, and it will be the end for you." Diego breathes heavily through his narrow aristocratic nose, I bet that nose was key in his getting the gig...

Here begins one of the greatest scenes of Alborada. Antonio storms into Diego's chambers and demands that Diego retract the denunciation. "Wine, or sherry?" is the response. Diego continues: "Why would I retract, since it's the truth?" Antonio throws his wine (or sherry) in Diego's face. Diego: "It looks like you enjoy defending prostitutes. Or is it because you can't get it up with them - you're not a man..." Uh-oh, as has been carefully set up before, these are magic fighting words to Antonio!

Antonio hisses: "It's you who aren't a man. Listen up, if you don't take it back ..." "What, you'll kill me?" A very dirty fight now starts - first laughable sissy slaps, then kicking, then swords. Antonio jumps on the table and I laugh again when he insightfully points out in the midst of this mayhem: "And to think, you complained that you don't have any friends! Who would be your friend?" (Did this make you laugh?)

Diego's answer: "Someone of my own stature -- and that's not you." The sword fight continues with Diego boasting: "You're good, but I'm better!" Juana and Modesta enter. Next, Diego wraps Antonio in a brocade tablecloth and bites him (I told you this was a dirty fight) and smashes his head in with the butt of his sword. Dagoberto prudently crawls under the table.

Antonio looks absolutely magnificent covered with blood! He's as good as Sarah Bernhardt! He gores Diego, then holds his sword point at Diego's throat and says "If you don't promise to retract I'll kill you!" "I swear, I swear!" Antonio walks over his vanquished opponent and goes outside; he is swaying, more wounded than he'd appeared.

Diego gets to his feet, rushes out - and stabs Antonio all the way through, from behind!

Antonio crashes like a bull elephant and tumbles down the outdoor stairs in slow motion, coming to rest in a bloody tableau. Everybody just watches. I thought he was dead! Otherwise, why weren't they screaming for the doctor?

A great, great scene.

Diego is carried in and NOW a doctor is shouted for. Do they really say, "We can't get a doctor, it's Sunday?" "Then bring me clean rags and water!" (or something) Diego whines to his mother, "My arm hurts." "It's your conscience that should be hurting, you used treachery!" "Get me a tourniquet, I'm bleeding!" "When Modesta was hurt, you didn't care that she was bleeding! ... And what's with you anyway, Diego, your syphilis has affected your brain!" This is unwelcome news to him: "Syphilis? Syphilis? ¡No puede ser!You're just making that up to scare me, you've always ... (great vocabulary word alert) ...

Ningunearme: "treat me like dirt [nothing]."

... and you think I'm an imbecile and now you say I'm crazy, I'm not!"

Juana tells Modesta: "He's my punishment in life, what a terrible mistake I made!" "You thought things would go differently" is Modesta's weak consolation. Juana: "It can't go on like this..."

Team Luis goes to Fray Alvaro's office. Alvaro: "Though everybody and his brother has been traipsing through here denying the adultery, I have the word of your cousin. And now, excuse me, I have other things to attend to." Cristóbal's usual cry for calm is derided more hotly than usual and Luis calls Diego an S.O.B.

In the street, Luis sees the carriage carrying the bloodied Antonio (who had to scrape his own self up off the steps, I guess, while everybody fussed over Diego). Antonio reports on what's been going on. Dr. Cristóbal notices he could see daylight straight through the center of Antonio, which is not a good sign.

Luis gets home and Isabel says she's been trying to reach the regidor, but he's out of town. She wants to go to the top, to the viceroy. Luis enters Diego's rooms to hear Diego shrieking at the doctor. Luis jumps on him and says if he doesn't retract next day, he'll murder him with his hands.

Dagoberto gets a quick switched-baby recap from Ada and remarks that he, too, was witness to the burned-leg thing. We hear that Antonio, on his deathbed, wants to see Perla.

Isabel looks very good in her green dress as she gazes upon the sleeping Diego. She touches him, he wakes and asks "What did you come to do, finish me off?" "I'm trying to find some trace of my brother in you. Something physical, that is - because on the inside, you've nothing at all." There is burned-leg talk, he tells her to go away, she says: "Go away?!!? This is MY palace, I can throw both of you out at any time ... I'd like to feel something good towards you, since we share the same blood, but I just can't."

With astounding chutzpah Diego suggests: "Aunt, tell Luis not to denounce me - he loves you and will do as you ask. If my father hadn't died, my life would have been different ... Aunt, help me, it's not my fault, I was raised thinking I was the Count [liar!] and now I'm not, and I'm afraid ... I beg you..." She says "I'll care for your daughters, they won't grow up unprotected"' and as she leaves he mutters: "Wretched old woman!"

Though she had appeared unmoved, Isabel demurs when Luis says "I should have killed him long ago." "He's your cousin, he's my nephew ... though how could Leopold have fathered such a monster?"

We end with Team Luis wondering how to make matters right.

Thursday: MAGNIFICENT! I have chills.

Antonio, dying, tells Cristóbal: "Luis has to get Hipólita out [of jail]. It's my fault, I should have let her go..." Perla comes and says: "It's my fault, I let my friend spread that gossip - Diego heard it in the brothel - I swear I didn't mean to!" Antonio dictates one of those deathbed wills to Cristóbal: "Hipólita will make out all right with Luis, so I leave everything to my son." [Don't you hate how they just assume it's a boy?]

Luis busts in on Diego and tells the attendants: "Get him dressed or I'll take him as he is!" They dress him and put him into a chair and carry the chair through the palace - Juana staggers behind it, shouting, crying, falling to the floor coughing. Wonderful!

Guards come for Ada and Rafael (who luckily manages to remain calm no matter how many guards with guns threaten him or how much Ada shrieks and cries).

[Did you notice Toyota and McDonalds are advertising on Alborada today? The bigtime!]

Guards take Hipólita to Fray Alvaro's office on a rope; there, Ada and Rafael are waiting. Rafael, seeing his mother shriek and cry, luckily remains calm. Fray Alvaro only has to say: "A true mother never renounces her child," and Hipólita cries, "Yes, he's mine, I'm an adulteress." Alvaro smiles happily. Is HE going to get HIS? No, of course not! And why is it only the WOMAN who goes to jail for adultery? Don't bother answering, that's just a bitter rhetorical question.

Diego has been carried through the streets (did you notice he was TIED into his chair so he wouldn't fall out?) and is brought to Alvaro's office - Luis having offered to renounce all claims to the title "until the day you are consigned to hell" if Diego will retract. They go in and Luis shouts and prods at Diego to retract, but it's too late, because Hipólita already confessed. She's taken back to her cell and will be flogged the following day. This flogging thing must be pretty bad indeed since everybody assumes it will cause her to miscarry.

Diego is taken back to the palace and when his wife Eloise asks him something, he slaps her and says "I don't want to see you again." She huffs and puffs: "I never thought I'd entered such a perverse family - I'm going home and telling EVERYBODY!" She flounces out and he mutters, "Fat idiot ... hey, put me to bed, I've opened my wound, call the doctor." Juana asks what he said to Eloise and he replies, "That old one disgusts me."

I missed a little here but Team Luis is trying to figure out how to rescue Hipólita - maybe they can nab her in the plaza - it will take a lot of men. Isabel says there are no more permission slips, they won't be able to visit Hipólita in the dungeon.

Isabel and Luis decide to find the viceroy and see if he can arrange a pardon. She is against the "blood and fire" technique of rescuing Hipólita...

Antonio gets Extreme Unction. To Perla: "Promise you'll be a good mother, don't make him feel bad, no matter what happens, no matter what he does... Give him love and security, try to understand him, tell him his dad would really have liked to play with him... [OK I admit it, I cried a little at this point] ... I would have liked to have said goodbye to Hipólita..."

Juana tells Modesta: "I want to confess."

Sara is shmoozing with Higinio at her old hideout when she gets the news. "Even if the Viceroy does grant clemency, it won't come in time - they're flogging Hipólita tomorrow." "So soon, and she's pregnant?"

Sara goes to Juana's, wearing a strange fur-lined bathrobe. Seeing Juana's ravaged face, Sara says: "Life is making you pay for everything you did." "I thought we'd never see each other again." "Why did you accuse my family of heresy?" "I told you, I didn't, I just said that to make you go away." "Well, who did, then?" "Your father's business partner, money was his motive, he ended up with everything. He waited until after my brother was dead - my brother would have protected you. I was too busy switching babies to help..." "And planning to usurp the position! You can't deceive me - I know Luis is Carlos's son! why did you do it? I'll tell you why - you wanted the recognition and power, and to be Countess of Guevara!" "I loved Diego, but I created a monster... I wish he'd been like Luis..." "Luis is good-hearted and might take pity on you, but I won't! If you don't denounce Diego, I will."

So Juana, in the midst of her tears, makes an evil, horrible face and hisses: "What makes you think anyone will believe a JEW?" Sara is unbowed: "There's irrefutable proof - the scar - and there'll be justice for Carlos and Aurora!"

Sara leaves and Juana tells Modesta again: "I don't want Diego to suffer for what I did, it's not fair."

Sister Teresa and another nun are wondering why they didn't get their monthly money from Juana when a note comes. Teresa gets permission from the Archbishop and visits Hipólita. There is some reviewing and they pray.

Isabel and Team Luis are granted an audience with the viceroy, who has lots of rings and a big cigar. He listens to Luis's story: "There's a woman being accused of adultery, yes, she did it, but there were unusual circumstances. If anyone should be flogged, it's I, not she..."

Higinio is collecting men to prepare a rescue in the plaza next day. There will be a lot of deaths! Be ready!

Juana tells Modesta to bring paper and pen.

Cristóbal shows the efficacy of the era's medicine when he tells Perla to administer tea and honey when Antonio is awake. Perla cries, "He told me he'd give his name to the baby!" "Unfortunately, we can't register an unborn child."

Luis and all are galloping home - on horses! in the dust! [Those of you who crave naked torso shots are out of luck, but I, who enjoy guys galloping on horseback in the dust, am doing pretty well!]

Diego is sprawled in his longjohns. He has a fever, but not much of one. Juana, on the other hand, looks like hell and, after she visits him, staggers back to her room leaning heavily on Modesta's shoulders. How grand and creepy this scene is! As she passes guttering candles in dim passageways, she says: "Let's go - the hour has arrived."

Perla hears Antonio's pre-death rattles. He gets to make another farewell speech (I don't mind, he's doing a bang-up job with them). "I never thought it would be so tiring to die! I don't want to, but it's come. Perla - find a good man, who'll give his name to the child. Don't cry. I regret - I regret - that I didn't pay more attention to Rafaelito [ooh, that one got me too] - children are not to blame for their parents' mistakes - my mother was so unfair to me - if she'd understood, my life would have been different..." Perla cries and says he was the best man she'd ever known. He says: "You've really loved me! ... Find somebody who will accept and love my son..."

The guards come for Hipólita.

One more update, will be posted 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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At the heart of the modern age is a core of grief.

Earth is dying - and so are you
At the heart of the modern age is a core of grief.

by Richard B. Anderson

At some level, we're aware that something terrible is happening, that we humans are laying waste to our natural inheritance. A great sorrow arises as we witness the changes in the atmosphere, the waste of resources and the consequent pollution, the ongoing deforestation and destruction of fisheries, the rapidly spreading deserts and the mass extinction of species.

All these changes signal a turning point in human history, and the outlook is not particularly bright. The anger, irritability, frustration and intolerance that increasingly pervade our common life are symptoms associated with grief.

The pervasive sense of helplessness and numbness that surrounds us, and the frantic search for meaning and questioning of religion and philosophy of life, are likewise often seen among those who must deal with overwhelming sorrow.

Grief is a natural reaction to calamity, and the stages of grief are visible in our reaction to the rapid decline of the natural world. There are a number of steps that people go through in the grief process. The first stage is often denial: 'This can't really be happening,' a feeling common among millions of Americans. Eighty percent of American adults say they are concerned about the environment, and there is some awareness of the gravity of our situation, yet a widespread awareness has yet to be felt in practical terms. We know the facts, but we're ignoring them in the interests of emotional survival.

The second stage of grief is often anger. We go into the 'I'll fight it' mode. Many environmental thinkers and activists put a lot of grief energy into constructive work. That energy is a factor in the undeniable successes of environmentalism, yet it is a sign of suffering and is probably a constraint on the intellectual vitality of the movement.

The third stage in the grief process is often despair. We feel that 'no matter what I do, it's still happening.' Because the planetary future seems so grim, it's likely that many Americans have despaired, turning away from the quest for a meaningful solution.

The final stage of the grieving process, for those who can achieve it, often brings a more hopeful state of acceptance, even serenity. When we emerge from the bottom of despair, we may find the inner strength for a peaceful accommodation to reality. We can continue to take positive actions, but we are no longer in denial, rage or despair.

Even if we face the consequences of our assault on the natural environment, we may still find that the problems are too big, that there's not much we can do. Yet those of us who feel this sorrow cannot forever deny it without suffering inexplicable disturbances in our own lives. It's necessary to face our fear and our pain and to go through the process of grieving because the alternative is a sorrow deeper still: the loss of meaning. To live authentically in this time, we must allow ourselves to feel the magnitude of our human predicament.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Menticia does Illustration Friday: "Spotted"

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Rube Goldberg lives on!

Zed sent this one to me:

Purdue defends title in Rube Goldberg nationals

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue Society of Professional Engineers defended their national title in complexity and inefficiency during the 18th National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest with a machine that used 215 steps to shred five sheets of paper.

The annual competition rewards creatively and inefficiency in completing a simple task. This year's task was to create a machine that employed principles of engineering and physics to individually cut or shred five sheets of paper in a minimum of 20 steps.

The team's theme was "The Rube Goldberg Machine Ate My Homework." In route to accomplishing the contest's task, the contraption used an alarm clock, tank of water, hammer, marbles and a "Rube Goldberg-style player piano that played the "Hail, Purdue!" fight song.

The machine, called "Monster," was designed as a child's bedroom inhabited by monsters. A monster under the child's bed completed the task of cutting the paper.

The contest honors the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical, complicated machines to perform simple tasks. The student-built machines are judged on completion of the task, creativity, the number of steps involved and how well they embrace the Rube Goldberg spirit. Teams also are judged on the creative use of materials and related themes.

In previous contests, students' machines have been required to raise, secure and wave an American flag; select, clean and peel an apple; make a cup of coffee; toast a piece of bread; put a stamp on an envelope; and drop a penny into a piggy bank.

Here's an example of the original Rube Goldberg inventions:

As you raise spoon of soup (A) to your mouth it pulls string (B), thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off sky-rocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth thereby wiping off your chin. After the meal, substitute a harmonica for the napkin and you'll be able to entertain the guests with a little music.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Telenovela Alborada, #34

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.

Change of schedule for this, the last week: I will post the Wednesday and Thursday recaps on Friday, and the Friday (final) on Saturday. Jean will recap the Cristina show that features the Alborada cast - and her post will appear on the new blog,

For an advance article on the visit of the Alborada cast to the Cristina show (with picture, click here! Did you know Colunga has made porno videos???

Monday: Isabel, wearing a technicolor dress, comes in to see Juana. "I'm her sorry I wasn't at Diego's wedding, I was at Marina's." "How is Sara?" "Good, they moved to Monforte." Did you try to convince her I didn't denounce the family? "Yes, but she didn't believe me." "And what was said about Luis?"


"That he's very handsome and looks an awful lot like your brother Carlos." Undiplomatically, Isabel continues: "I saw Eloise this morning, couldn't you have done better?" "Diego chose her." More unflattering remarks. Finally: "Juana, my love, isn't it time to tell Luis who he really is?" "I did." "No, you didn't." "There isn't more..." Disappointed, Isabel leaves. And Juana soliloquizes: "And if I were to tell the truth? I'm going to die - Diego will be judged and ridiculed - I can't allow that - I'm the only one to blame."

Team Luis discusses the terminated duel - and the trip to Valverde to find the old dude who can testify that the true Count has a burned leg. Cristóbal tells them that in the midst of all this sadness, he has his greatest happiness - his wife is pregnant. Manly hugs all round.

Diego is out at night again, throwing money. He stops to invite Antonio to go to the whorehous with him, but Antonio says no. "YOu keep rejecting my invitations! I insist you come! " "Yesterday you married..." "She's a horror - at night, I can't get it up with her - Why do you think I hired you? To keep me company and be my friend." "I thought you hired me for my business acumen." "Oh, well, that too .. I know what the problem is, you're saturated with women. I know your lover, she was Luis's before..." "I don't meddle in your private life and I expect the same respect from you." Diego proposes a three-way with Antonio, Perla and himself. This sort of disgusts Antonio, even if it's a joke. Diego: "It's no joke, but maybe my proposal is a bit sudden. Think it over... it would be fun... OK, I have to go to the whorehouse now." He says he knows the way to Antonio's "little house" which I assume is Perla's...

In the whorehouse the girls are chattering, as requested, about Hipólita, Antonio, Rafael the "bastardillo," and Luis. Diego chuckles: "Then Antonio is a perfect, absolute cuckold."

Hipólita can't sleep and scolds herself for having lost the courage to say no. "Laws, papers, what people say, I don't care! I want to live with him..." Luis, in his laboratory, is similarly brooding about her and Rafael.

Diego is carried home by loads of servants. He he says "The Fat One is waiting for me - I don't want her - take me to my study and bring wine! I want to embriagarme till I lose my reason! I'm so unlucky and it's all my infernal mother's fault!" [This guy needs an intervention or an encounter group of some kind -- Ed.] The servants muse that Diego's mother, Aurora, has been dead a long time. They say, something unusual has taken place here, and His Excellency is going crazy!

Asunción is saying goodbye to all and sundry at the Palacio de Lara, in floods of tears. She dreads going off to the new hacienda with her awful husband. She and her daughters promise to see each other - if Don Francisco allows it ...

Eloise waits for Juana and reports that Diego didn't come to her room in the night, and was in his study in the morning. "You know that's the way men are." "Yes, they go to the whores, or take lovers. But after only two days of marriage?"

Finally, the meeting to dissolve the partnership. Malaquías, Antonio, on one side; Luis and Felipe on the other. Diego, on his throne, hungover...

Hipólita tells her sister, "If I weren't such a coward I'd ask Luis to take me with him." Catalina says they were raised differently, but she will never reproach. Hipólita: "Our granny was a sincere, open, unprejudiced woman who believed we should follow the heart's impulse." "Very different from our mother!" "I got here, where everybody is a hypocrite, and I have to do what's expected, even if the cost is to feel lost inside." "I think we have to be honest with ourselves." "You weren't, in the convent." "But I was resigned..." "I don't want to be resigned, it isn't fair for me or my children.... if some day I do something crazy, don't reproache me." "Never."

In the street, Ramon and Arcadio stop Hipólita saying they have important information for her. She refuses to pay but Higinio shows up with a money bag - they say Perla is expecting Antonio's child!

Hipólita tells Ada she's happy to hear it, hopes Antonio will go live with Perla, but she's angry that ... (we've heard it before and we'll hear it again). She writes Luis a note saying she wants to see him at Felipe's house, then goes and has the same whole conversation with Antonio that she just had with Ada.

Felipe tells Malaquías it's now time for Luis to get back the money he's owed by the partnership. "The problem is, Diego doesn't have cash and needs a long payment period. "No!" Diego: "How am I supposed to pay?" Malaquías: "You want him to pay with property? He owes so much, you'd end up with most of his places." "I don't care." "I beg, in consideration of his parentage, give him time, two or three years?" "No!" "You want me in ruin, yes?" "Yes." "I'll die first!"

They leap up and there is a great fight with swords, shrieking, overturned furniture, slashed candles, jumping [I bet many business meetings are full of men fantasizing about treating each other in exactly this way...] ... "I'm going to prove you're a liar and a fraud."

Modesta comes in and, trying to stop them, gets in the way of Diego's sword and gets slashed. "What have you done, you imbecile?" "That lousy Indian meddled..."

Luis calls for a doctor and the wounded Modesta is carried to Juana's rooms. Diego looks mildly surprised with himself. Antonio is incredulous. Juana is horrified, even though Luis says the wound is not serious. Luis says that once again Diego tried to kill him, and now Luis just can't see hold back any longer...

Antonio scolds Diego - "You shouldn't have taken out your sword, that doesn't resolve anything. Besides, if my accounting is correct, Luis is right. "He's a bastard!" Luis busts in and says: "I'm not a bastard - you know well who I am. Many times you've tried to kill me, too bad for you you didn't succeed, I'm going to Valverde and when I get back we're going to have a confrontation."

Then, excellently, after Luis stalks out Felipe reminds Malaquías there's business outstanding: "The money, or the properties." Infuriated by this unpalatable choice, Diego draws his sword against Felipe! Felipe holds up his own hilt and says "Don't mess with me - maybe Luis holds back but I won't. I *will* kill you." Antonio takes his sword away, then growls in his face the very mild and anachronistic observation: "You are being irrational."

They were all great in that scene!

Ada delivers Hipólita's note and goes back in her sedan chair. How those sedan-chair bearers stagger! They are not going to get even as far as the street if you ask me!

Juana tells her son she doesn't want to talk to him. He asks, "Who's in Valverde?" "Someone who will bring our end - that's why you should reconcile with Luis." "Reconcile with that idiot?" "YOU are the idiot!" She starts hitting Diego with her cane - he pushes her down and she coughs up blood and tells him she's dying of cancer. She says: "Luis knows, and that's why he's gone easy on us, but I'll be gone soon, and I don't know what will happen with you. In Valverde is an Old Dude who can prove you aren't the count, because of the scar." He kisses and holds her. Great scene.

Diego tries to order one of his servants to take a lot of guys to intercept Luis on the road to Valverde and kill him. "Don't fail like those idiots of Gasca. You work for me, it's an order." "I'm not a killer." Diego's ordinarily persuasive ways fail him, the guy continues to refuse, so Diego fires his ass and then drinks more and then crushes his wine glass right in his hand! Just the power of Pure Rage! And then wine dribbles out of his mouth and he looks happy about it!

Antonio scolds Malaquías, saying: "I had no idea of the real situation, and I'm angry because Diego betrayed me and so did you." "Understand, I work for Diego and Doña Juana and have to follow their orders." "What will happen with the vanilla plantation?" "It's such a small place, Luis will probably overlook it." "And Diego is ruined?" "For ordinary people, no, but for rich folk like them, yes." "Why did Luis call him a fraud? [No answer.] It's true Diego's tried to kill him several times? [No answer.] Antonio continues this conversation later with his new right-hand man Dagoberto. "Why Valverde?" "Well, people there have known the Guevara family for generations, and it's near where the fire was..."

Hipólita comes in and asks whether Antonio plans to recognize and maintain his bastard by Perla. Yes! "Then why won't you allow Luis the same opportunity?" "It's different, because you're married and have a spouse!" "Well, Antonio, [duh] so do you!" "Luis is in love with you and Perla doesn't mean a thing to me!" "We're not talking about sentiment, but the rights of a father." He says he doesn't want to talk about it [usually a sign a person knows he's in the wrong], the business is closed. She tells Ada Antonio is a vengeful egotist.

Isabel to Luis: "Everytime you go on a trip, there's a disaster." "I hope not this time." "Does Diego know you're going?" "Guess so..." She says:

Las patadas de ahogados, son las peores: "The kicks of drowning men are the worst!"

Felipe reassurse her that he'll watch Luis's back.

They leave for Valverde! Ah, those guys on horses! Sigh. (Diego follows behind in his coach.) They go to say goodbye to Cristóbal but he doesn't want to miss the fun and says Catalina is healthy, she'll be fine without him. He suggests they swing by Monforte and pick up Sara, who can also testify about the burned leg of the "real" Diego.

Luis tells his team he has to go to Felipe's to talk to Hipolita - he'll meet up with them out of town...

Tuesday: Having failed to get his own henchmen to murder Luis, Diego goes to the eminently corrupt and bribable Captain Nicholas Pardo (he who was complicit in the kidnapping of Rafael). However, even Pardo thinks this is too dangerous. Even though Diego threatens to go to the regidor and rat Pardo out if he doesn't comply, Pardo stands firm and generously offers to forget the whole conversation. At this point, half the men in town know Diego is trying to kill his cousin. How imprudent.

Since Antonio has gone to visit the baby vanilla plants at the nursery, Hipólita bolts with Ada and Rafael and goes to Felipe and Carmela's house, where she has a dull review of the situation with Luis. He, in turn, tells her he is the Count of Guevara and she needs to be patient till he gets back from Valverde with the old dude, his proof.

The whores continue gossipping about Hipólita's adultery as requested.

Cristobal's sister comes to congratulate her brother and his wife on the impending baby. Cristobal says el hombre propone y el Señor dispone, (man asks and God provides) which makes an interesting contrast to the Yiddish saying, a mentsh trakht un Got lakht, (man thinks and God laughs). There's got to be a dissertation in there somewhere.

Diego shrieks to his mother, this is all your fault. Juana: "If Luis finds the old dude, I'll take all the responsibility and say you didn't know a thing." "I don't want to lose my position or my title, I want to go on being Count!" He flounces out, leaving his wife Eloise, perplexed, choking on his dust.

Having failed to get Pardo to murder Luis, Diego orders Vicente to find Ramon and Arcadio and bring them in. He waves gold at them and Ramon happily takes on the challenge. Diego: "Luis will have his two servants and Cristóbal with him, so you better get a lot of guys."

Luis and his team get on their horses, ahhhh, I wouldn't mind having one of them thangs myself. Cristóbal rides up, giddy that Catalina didn't mind his coming on the expedition. "She's a queen!"

Perla massages Antonio, who muses: "Diego lies, and I can't stand his gross jokes and insinuations, I'm going to quit .. I can do without the money, I got a bunch of bucks from Panama, and when the vanilla crops is harvested I'll get part of my investment back." He plans to buy a ranch where Perla and he and the baby can live. She doesn't look too happy about becoming a hayseed, but he doesn't want her living in the house Luis, her previous lover, bought for her.

When he comes home (by the way, he has gotten to be SUCH a jerk and a hypocrite, for a while they wanted us to like him but that's all over) Hipólita tells him she's been to see Luis. "YOu gave your word, and so did he." "I just promised so he wouldn't kill you." (Huffily:) "Well *I* could have killed *him*!" "Either way!" "If he'd come humbly and begged, maybe I would have considered letting him see Rafael, but he came with arrogance... I'm going to forbid you to to out AT ALL!" "You're locking me up? You want Rafael to grow up within four walls?" "You use any pretext to see that jerk!" She says Luis is away on a voyage so the issue is moot for a while, and that Antonio had better think carefully about their future - "It's going to be an inferno, because I will never stop trying to get the best for my two kids, don't forget there will be two..." "WHORE" "Well, maybe, but the mother of your child is a whore too!" He throws stuff and says, "God, I made a big mistake." He fondles his whip.

The excellently competent Higinio, who saw Ramon and Arcadio when they were summoned to the Count the previous evening, now sees them collecting men for the upcoming assassination adventure package, ten men altogether including Higinio, who signs on after talking with Isabel in the plaza and realizing the target must be Luis... the ruffians plan to ambush Luis's team on the way back from Valverde, next morning.

Antonio goes to the palace, where Diego is still fencing and falling, and quits his job as adminstrator. "Are you afraid that wretch Luis will leave me penniless?" "It's not that, I'd just prefer to work for myself." "No, you're a coward." "No, just looking out for myself." Diego says he heard at the bordello that Hipólita was pregant by Luis again. Antonio denies it but then goes and yells at Perla, who denies spreading the rumor. Perla, of course, is lying.

Eloise complains yet again to Juana: Diego never shags her, he just comes home very late, drunk, and just sleeps. "How does he expect to make a baby this way?" Juana tells her, you've had a man before - just convince him...

Isabel comes to see Juana and beg her to confess, ask for mercy, have Diego step down voluntarily and avoid scandal. "Fat chance," says Juana, then: "When you go to Hipólita, please ask her if I can see Rafael."

Isabel hears that Hipólita and Catalina are both pregnant and is ecstatic, asking to be godmother for both babies. Hipólita doesn't want to bring Rafael to see Juana, but Isabel says: "Think of it as a last request. She's dying."

Luis and Felipe successfully collect the old dude, who had been sitting idly under a tree with his niece or his young wife, thusly: "Come with us to Cuencas!" Old dude puts on his hat. He's not too well, we hear. Meanwhile, Cristóbal and Marcos collect Sara. They all rendezvous and leave for home.

Antonio leaves for the vanilla plantation. Hipólita goes to the palace and sends Rafael to Juana with Ada - she herself can't bear to see Juana. While she waits in the hall, Eloise sweeps through and makes probing, semi-polite conversation. Tren Diego sweeps in and says, "Why is my wife talking to the official adulteress of Cuencas, my cousin's little whore?" Hipólita, incensed, barks impetuously: "Your sins are much bigger than mine, you're a fraud, a usurper, you're not the real Count - when Luis comes back he'll squish you like the worm you are!" Diego, who had fallen on the floor, says: "I'll squish him first, and you too, bitch!"

Ada whines, "Why did you do it? He's still the Count!" But wait, here come the marching automaton monks of the Inquisition! They've come for Hipólita, the Adulteress! They won't say who denounced her! As she is dragged sobbing through the streets, Ada, that moron, pushes Rafael in Hipólita's face! The better to see her anguish and be powerless to prevent it! Is Ada trying to give this kid a psychiatric problem to last his entire lifetime?

Perla and her friends are aghast, they never thought it would come to this! Isabel is aghast too at the thought of Hipólita in that horrible dungeon, she collects blankets, food, and wine.

Eloise, who is (a) a day late and a dollar short (b) in the wrong place at the wrong time, just piteously keeps asking what's going on. Just as she asking Juana why Diego would want to squish Hipólita, Isabel busts in and tells them that the very same Hipólita they are discussing has just been taken by the Inquisition, "and Juana, she's expecting another child by Luis! When he gets back there will be no pity for you or your son!"

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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