Spanish Movies

I watched 3 Spanish movies (Taxi Gibraltar, Todos lo saben, and Perfectos desconocidos) on the flight. As you all know, I hate movies but I was so desperate to keep hearing people speak Spanish that I was ready to go to extremes and watched more movies I see in two years.

These were ok movies, actually. Taxi Gibraltar was a bit of a dud. But Perfectos desconocidos turned out to be very Soviet-style (a high compliment for me), if a bit too rowdy. A Soviet version would be a lot more low-key but with a thousand times better acting. Here, actors scream and thrash about to indicate emotions that they can’t act. But the idea is good and the script is the best of all three movies. I actually laughed, which, again, I don’t do at movies.

Todos lo saben could be nice but the director is completely impotent. He takes great actors, really talented ones, and has no idea what to do with them.

In Madrid

I somehow managed to get a room at a hotel that’s located right in front of Madrid’s largest bookstore. This wasn’t intended but since the city is suffering from a major heatwave, it’s just as well. I spent two delightful hours browsing through the store’s four floors and have now camped out in my room with food, two liters of celery-cucumber juice, and [I’ll never reveal to anybody how many] new books.

Traveling is definitely better as one gets older. The first time I was in Madrid I was 25 and I was tortured by the feelings of self-consciousness and the fear of looking stupid. It’s really great to lose all that sorry baggage. Of course, there must be people who always felt comfortable and secure. Freaks.


By the way, in Montreal I discovered nail dipping, and I’m absolutely loving it.

The nails stay looking like this for a whole month, no matter how much you cook or swim in salty water. My nails actually started growing because of this technique, and it never happened before.

They have sparkly colors, too, and they keep sparkling for weeks.

Favorite Places

I have great instincts, folks. If I hadn’t decided, completely on a whim, to get into Basque literature, I would have never discovered San Sebastián, which I now love more than any place in the world, including Naples, Florida.

So now my favorite places in the world rank as follows:

1. Donostia, Euskadi

2. Naples, FL

3. Montreal, Quebec

4. Regensburg, Bayern

5. The town where I currently live, and it would rank higher if it weren’t for the atrocious climate. If it had the climate of Donostia, I’d put it at 3 (sorry, Montreal, but that’s how it is until you do something about the traffic and the atrocious public transportation prices. Shame on you for having worse public transportation and worse public services than my little town in the Metro St Louis area).

Santa Klara uhartea

OK, so the most beautiful place in the world? The one I can’t stop staring at? The one that gives me feelings of extreme peacefulness?

It’s called Santa Klara uhartea.

I had absolutely no idea.

Clara with a c is very common, so it wouldn’t be an interesting coincidence. But Basques write it with a K.

That’s so cool.

Book Notes: Olinka by Antonio Ortuño

There is a lot of sexism in promotional book blurbs. Olinka is described as a revenge thriller set in the midst of gentrification projects in Guadalajara. But that’s all crap. The novel is a family drama that could be used to write a script for a telenovela. But since the author is male, the idiot who wrote the blurb had to try to massage the novel into the thriller genre. Which it definitely isn’t.

Olinka is a great family drama, unhurried, gossipy, detailed, and enjoyable to read.

Ukrainian Election

As a result of Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, a comedian will have to negotiate with a pop singer to get a majority in the parliament.

Obviously, the comic and and pop star are puppets for extremely corrupt and vicious oligarchs. But voters are do intensely dim-witted that they take these figureheads seriously.

People get exactly the kind of government they desire and deserve, so whatever.

More San Sebastián

There hasn’t been a single ray of sunshine in San Sebastián today. The sky is completely gray. The water in the bay is cold. It’s paradise.

They sell really interesting, unusual clothes here. One problem is that people here seem unfamiliar with the concept of clothing sizes. You can find any information about an item of clothing except for its size. But that doesn’t matter because everything fits anyway. I know it sounds weird but somehow if you guess the size visually, it all ends up fitting.

The city is extremely beautiful. I liked Valencia but it’s nothing compared to this. (Sorry, Valencia.) This place is majestic.

In Donostia

I’m in San Sebastián, selfying from the hotel balcony.

I’ve been here for three seconds, and it’s already my favorite part of Spain. It’s not hot! The scenery on the way here is stunning. And it’s not hot! The architecture is very dignified. And it’s not hot! My niece tried a pintxo and was overwhelmed with how good it was. And it’s not hot here at all!!!

More tomorrow.