far too much writing, far too many photos

Yesterday: amid everything else going on my little life these days, I managed to squeeze in a viewing of The Aviator. (If I ever drink big glasses of liquids an hour before going to a long, long movie again, would someone please give me a gentle shot upside the head?) I’ll say this: whatever one might think of Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorsese is unbeatable. And I could watch all over again, with no trouble at all, the sequences that feature DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett. Chemistry, big time.

There’s a lot of talk about The Aviator here right now because everyone considers it to be in direct competition with Mar Adentro (released in the States with the title The Sea Inside, though a more accurate, better-sounding translation would be The Sea Within), putting Leonardo DiCaprio in direct competition with Javier Bardem, who gives a killer performance in Mar Adentro.*

Lots of talk about that here right now. Lots of talk about lots of things here right now, from strange political tensions to the cold wave that arrived yesterday.

The turn in the weather: every winter, at least once, a cold front of serious dimensions settles in over the Iberian peninsula, and each time it is headline news beginning two to three days in advance, the media ensuring that everyone is hyperaware of the sure-to-be-apocalyptic weather that’s on the way. On the way home from the film yesterday evening, I stopped in at a neighborhood joint for something to eat, found myself watching the local news go on and on and on and on about the coming weather, reporters interviewing people on the street, consulting with government types, talking among themselves in good-natured, head-shaking amazement at how FREAKIN’ cold it was going to get, providing lists of precautions to take if you were planning on (a) going out, (b) staying in or (c) going out then staying in. All of it so earnest and yet so unashamedly reaching to be sensational, or at least fill up major chunks of air time, that it got me smiling and kept me smiling.

Yesterday did develop some snap, several people asked me asked me how it compared with the weather I was used to back in the States. When I replied that in the January version of northern Vermont it was common to wake up in the morning to thermomenter readings of 20 to 30 below, they took a moment to absorb that, mouths slightly open, then said, “Well, so you’re used to it, you’re prepared. It’s going to kill us, though!”

The person who actually put it in those specific words (in Castellano, of course) was the woman who’s teaching a Spanish class I’m taking all this week. Why, I ask myself, did I choose to take on this extra torture this week when I already have a mountain of work to do? Don’t know, can’t explain it. Maybe I’ve been too relaxed and decided to do something about that.

So I’m passing an hour and a half every day with a 20ish American guy, a 20ish Austrian woman, a 20ish English guy (when he can pull himself out of bed, post-all-night bouts of clubbing) and our late-20s profesora. All good folks to spend some time with, all 20 or so years younger than me, a difference that normally doesn’t mean poop. Felt like it did yesterday, though, during a discussion about reality shows. Our teacher must have noticed I remained silent, finally asked me if I watched that stuff, me shaking my head no, saying programs like that don’t interest me. The temperature in the room fell a few degrees, I suddenly felt SO OLD.

Ah, well. It passed. Today everything got congenial again.

*Two people have let me know via email that the Oscar nomination were announced — Mar Adentro is up for best foreign film. Javier Bardem did not get a slot.


If you’ve spent any time nosing around this journal during the last couple of months, you’ll have noticed images disappearing and reappearing without logic or reason, all of it due to problems at pbase.com, the outfit that I’ve been using for storage and linking of images. They’ve experienced repeated troubles since late November, forcing me to re-upload and re-link images multiples times. On top of which pbase management has steadfastly refused to communicate in any way with subscribers about what’s been going on. All of which, taken together, has been at least as much fun as having fingernails pulled out, one by one, and I would recommend it for anyone with a weakness for that kind of thrill. The good part is that it gave me the final push to make a move I’ve been considering for the last year and a half. So I would like say a sincere thank-you to pbase for getting me off my adorable butt.

A temporary downside: the process of making the jump from blogspot to my own teeny cyber fiefdom seems to have provoked another wave of broken links. That may remain the case until all images are transferred here. And given the excessive number of images I tend to inflict on, er, you, that may take a while. I grovelingly ask for your patience.

Profuse thanks to Kristen Fox for her know-how, creativity, great attitude and the technical skills that turned some design ideas I had rattling around in my little head into a new webpage.

Madrid, te quiero.

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