Sunday, July 19, 2009

New discoveries, even after 3 weeks of discoveries - Saturday / Sunday

Who gets a summer cold while on vacation? Who gets a summer cold at
all? I haven't a cold in the summer since 1956 (the red fever, I think
they were calling it+). The answer: we get summer colds. Jenny got it
earlier. It started as laryngitis for her. For me, it started by
lowering my voice by an octave (the frequency is low enough that PETA
believes it interferes with whale migration patterns^).

I have been using lots of lozenges and avoiding the heat. This is the
perfect time to sit back and relax in front of the TV. However, most
of the Spanish TV is not clicking# with me, with the Spanish and all.
The one exception was the tail-end of a terrific movie in which a kid
who was forced to perform in a school play as a dancing cactus
transforms himself, behind some dry ice, into a disco dancer, followed
by a food fight. This action speaks in all languages%.

So we spent several hours searching for video stores and internet cafes
in Ponte Umbre to find an entertainment pipeline. We found one on the
edge of town just as we gave up and were ready to go home. But the
computers didn't have USB ports to use for downloading movies.
However, I got to talk to my parents cheaply over skype.
When we went home, we had dinner and I posted some blogs through
g-mail using my PDA. I had to buy a so-so tart to get the access code.
Then I started back and looked into Sisters café. It had not just wifi
but 2 computers for €1.50/hr. Later it turned out to be €1.50/half
hour. So close for so long yet so far. Now we can download movies or
stream them there for cheap. It looked like two sisters ran the place
because they were arguing with each other with an intensity reserved
for sisters or any Italian group&. Because the sisters were arguing,
an older gentleman explained the rates to me. Later I used the
Internet for an hour only to discover neither computer could connect
to our USB drive, so another hope for entertainment was dashed.

So we are back to the TV. I watched the tail end of a movie (spoiler
alert?) in which a chimp snowboards down a mountain, grabs a girl as
they both fly off a cliff, pulls a parachute open, and smiles and
makes cute chimp noises the whole way. School of Rock dubbed into
Spanish loses a lot of Jack Black's magic with someone else's voice.
The Simpsons also loses a lot without Hank Azaria as Apu and others
(if Apu has an Indian accent in the original, he should have an
Indian, not Spanish accent when dubbed). However, the visual gags are
still in English, like "Welcome to Winnipeg. We were born here. What's
your excuse?"
Back to the Disney Channel, which features some English programs. We
are not talking about classics, like the Little Mermaid and Wall-E. We
are talking about a girl, neglected by her family, who calls upon Al
Rocher, the weatherman, to help her in a babysitting situation-not a
classic even if it was actually Al Rocher's voice. The infomercial
channels were initially amusing, but they are very repetitive.
Eventually, the vibromax stops being an exercise farce when it becomes
a sad commentary on how society thinks it can jiggle its way to beauty
and health. The lottery channels, which would be very illegal in the
US, encourage, cajole, and then stare you down in silence~ to get you
to call a pay number (not a 900 number because 900 is oddly the toll
free area code here, but it seems to be the same idea). The pay
number gives you a chance to win several thousand Euros. Amusing
personalities, but ultimately sad, it's like QVC, but they take your
money without shipping any smiley perfume or jewelry to your house.

Again, you say, get out there and explore Spain - that's your
entertainment. But coughing and sneezing makes me hurt, and adding in
heat and sun just makes me hurt more. I have taken a few excursions
while trying to stay cool. Walking right along the shoreline has sun
but reasonable temperatures. And the end of the sunset at about 10:30
was an amazing horizontal rainbow of stratified purple hues. As the
sun continued to retreat, I lay down to be surprised as the stars
slowly peaked out of the darkness.

+ I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Communist party,
under my name or any of my pseudonyms.

^ I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the PETA.

# No pun intended nor desired.

% The exception is Tonga, in which it comes across as a tad trite.

& I'm not making a dig at Italians. I find the tone, texture, and
rhythm of a good Italiano throwdown to be art.

~In any culture, I think this stare and silence communicates, "You are
so stupid for not getting in on this great deal. Your inaction and
lethargy are costing you money. Take control of your life and call
now." Ultimately, as it has been said, the lottery is a tax on people
who are bad at math.

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