far too much writing, far too many photos

I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to news from the States when I’m over here. But over the last couple of weeks, a few select items caught my attention.

First: the Red Sox coming back from a nearly-fatal deficit to take the American League pennant, trumping that near-death experience by sweeping the Series. I have friends in the Boston area who were probably in a state approaching pure bliss once the Sox decided to return to the land of the living and get serious.

Next: the Dumbledore-gets-outed brouhaha. It was impossible to miss the stories about J.K. Rowling’s disclosures, but compared to the resulting furor, that initial happening seemed positively shrug-worthy to me. Everyone gets to be who they are, it’s not for me to say what priorities other human beings should have — pretty interesting, though, how fervent some of the expressions of anger/outrage have been. Lost in all the noise: the revelations about Crabbe and Goyle being on the downlow.

And then Stephen Colbert, bless his wacky heart, made his announcement re: the presidential race. Clips of his appearance on Meet The Press seemed to be all over on the web.

(From Meet The Press — After citing the following passage from the book that Colbert is currently flogging: “ON GAY MARRIAGE: The biggest threat facing America today — next to socialized medicine, the Dyson vacuum cleaner, and the recumbent bicycle.”
Tim Russert: The biggest threat, you say…. To you, that means it’s a serious threat to our culture.
Stephen Colbert: Right. It’s….
Russert: Why?….
Colbert: Well, marriage is the basic building block of society. And if gay men get married, that threatens my marriage immediately because I only got married as a taunt toward gay men, because they couldn’t.
Russert: So it makes you feel insecure.
Colbert: Well, I just don’t know why else I got married other than to rub it in gay people’s faces.)

If you’re not sure, yes, it’s satire.

Then Colbert made this last Sunday’s edition of El País, taking up page 11 — all of it apart from an ad, which would have been more impressive if the ad, for Magno brandy, hadn’t been grossly oversized (”Magno. Te lo has ganado.”) — a photo of him, goofy smile in place, cutting through my morning fog.

The final item: Al Gore’s recent passage through Spain. A lightning fast passage, Himself touching down first in Oviedo, where he received the Prince of Asturias Prize for International Cooperation, an acknowledgment of his seemingly tireless work raising consciousness re: global warming. He comported himself with dignity and class, the Spanish media spewed uniformly glowing reports.

A day or two later, Gore took part in the 10th annual Family Business National Congress, along with the Spanish President, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and the leader of the opposition, Mariano Rajoy (mentioned here recently). Not the kind of event I’d expect an ex-V.P./ecological activist to be featured at, possibly a case of the event and the person taking advantage of each other’s high visibility. He was invited to talk about what he is currently going around talking about, and he did so.

Yes, he did. And it apparently caught the attention of Mariano Rajoy, leader of the Spanish version of the Republican party, el Partido Popular. Sr. Rajoy spoke later that day and felt compelled to comment on the global warming thing. “I don’t know much about this subject,” he said, “but…” — and I swear I am not making this up — “…I have a cousin who is a physics professor, and my cousin told me” that after getting together the ten best scientists in the world, “none were able to say what the weather was going to be the next day in Sevilla.” If that’s the case, Sr. Rajoy asked himself, “how can anyone predict what’s going to happen in the world in 300 years? He went on to say, “It’s a matter about which we should be very attentive, but we shouldn’t turn it into a big world problem.”

It’s impossible to know what was going on in this poor bastard’s mind and why he confused meteorology with climatology in such disastrous fashion, but the fallout from these unfortunate remarks was immediate and so intense that I felt sorry for the guy. The phrase “my cousin told me” (“me dijo mi primo”) became the satirical equivalent of a mallet used to beat him around the face and neck in debates and political commentary for days after. A week later, he finally acknowledged that he had “not expressed myself well.” I could only nod my head in agreement with that not-quite-a-mea-culpa.

España, te quiero.

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