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Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Wine Label LIARS (Maybe)…. Of Bullfighting.

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When I was growing up I loved hearing this story from my mother:

A Portuguese Matador stabs his bully bull bull

Heck, yeah! Savage-free fighting. That's with a capital 'S."

There was once a bullfighter who came over the border from Spain to show off his illustrious matador skills in Lisbon.  This was in the 50’s, but my mom was not present because, well, her family was apparently far too snobby to regularly attend bullfights.  We’re funky like that.  Or they were broke from seeing all the Westerns that she would eventually force me to watch unwillingly 30 years later on Sunday afternoons.  I am not sure.  I leave it up to you for your own Salzar-era Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.

So anyway, though no Savages were present (yes, that’s our family name, deal with its Irishness….) this renown bullfighter mounted his horse, and fought valiantly his worthy opponent, a Luso (meaty meaty) bull.  Mmmmm.  Except.  Um…. The bull was supposed to become the meaty meaty treaty AFTER the fight was over.  Out of the sight of the public.  This is what Portugal considers “Kissing  up to the PETA folks.”

Being Spanish, our guest bullfighter freaking killed the damned bull right there in the ring before God and everybody.  Amor de deus!

So he got arrested.  His defense was (and this is where my mom would begin a sweet girlish giggle that would let you know that the story was coming to a close only to end AWESOMELY!!! So imagine that sound RIGHT NOW!!) ummm… sorry to recap, his defense was that he forgot he was in Portugal and killed the bull out of habit.

But the mo-fo was on a horse.  Matadors do not hoof it in Spain, unless they are using their own matador shoes.  Honest.  You think he would notice that there was a giant animal creaking and crawing and pulsating between his legs.  Most people notice that.

Maybe he was just getting too popular as a matador.  Yes, that means the nasty thing I’m implying.  Go ahead and call my Portuguese Teacher and my mom and report me for lewd insinuations between man and horse.  And hookers and bananas and blow.  I am just that ordinaria.  Like I had my finger in my nose and was cleaning the salon.  You.  Bet.

My mother would then go off on a tangent about how difficult it is (and therefore BETTER and requiring SUPERIOR SKILL) to control both a horse and a bull in the ring, over the thin, anemic, airheaded skill of just being on the dusty stadium floor with a cape.  Yay Portugal.  Boo Spain.  Even though Miss Savage has only ever been to one bullfight (in the 70’s) and ONLY because her cousin gave her the inside scoop that the President was going to be there that night, and so it would be an especially exquisite pagan bloodletting event, she is poised to make such a delicate judgement.  And I have only heard about it, so —so am I!

Our wayward Spaniard sat in jail till the Portuguese officials had the decency not to completely shag his career, freeing him.  Despite his brush with the law, he went back to waving capes, probably cursing Portugal forever on the way out, and swearing he’d never sit in a jail for killing a bull 15 minutes early, ever, ever again.

Well, today, I notice as I round out my bottle of Portuguese wine  this abomination:

Bottle of Portuguese wine with a SPANISH bullfighter!

Um.... Hold the phone! Who did the graphics here?

The other abomination is the dust on my antique mirror.  Screw off, dust haters.  I’ve had a hard week.  There’s more about the mirror here.

Clearly, it’s Portuguese wine.  It was made in Portugal.  Really.  It says so on the back!!!  Nevermind that I never heard of the city.  I haven’t heard of EVERYTHING!

And um… can’t you see that “velho” has an “h?”  Clearly NOT SPANISH!!??!!

Um… so where’s the matador’s um.. .HORSE?  Did my mother make that story up?   Am I going to call her and admit I’m questioning her integrity over a wine bottle label?   Do I admit I didn’t buy it out of luso-loyalty, but because it was one full liter rather than 750 mL, or will that cause her to suggest I attend meetings?

Seriously, here’s a closer look:

a portuguese wine label with a spanish bullfighter!

Ummm..Where's your HORSE???

That could be the dude in Ferdinand the Bull.  The fricking SPANISH bull.  There is no way that bratty flower-smelling bull was Portuguese.  He didn’t miss or long for anything and was happy smelling the flowers.  Puhleeeze.  No saudades?  He might as well be one of those happy California cows from the cheese commercials.

I looked on the web (which is always reliable, right?), and I was quite disappointed to actually see that Portuguese matadors weren’t ALWAYS on a horse.  But the majority were.  And of those who weren’t horsemounted, they were coupled with captions that clearly lumped Portugal and its bullfighting tradition in as an afterthought.  Thanks, folks!  Other than that, there were the kamikaze guys in knickerbockers who jump on the bull’s horns- my favorite part, always!

Why didn’t they put those guys on the bottle?  Come on, man belly-to-bull-forehead contact takes real balls. Those guys are much cooler than any party dance you can do with a cape (unless you’re Nosferatu) and at least if they had graced my wine bottle, I would never have felt the need to complain on a Saturday night about a sport that I have only seen on RTP.  And that kind of balls would sell the hell out of wine in a fair and luso-aware world.  In our world, however, the real one, people see that and say “I bet that wine was made by Ferdinand’s owner!!  Cool!!”

I love my mom’s story anyway.

You should hear my mom’s story about the lawsuit over the chamber pot with the Lady of Fatima emblazoned on the front.  It’s a real high point of Southern European Catholic lore.  You don’t think I’m serious?

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Miss Angola Kicks Lusophone Ass!

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Lelia Lopes is the new Miss Universe.  Personally, I am not the biggest proponent of beauty pageants.   And I would have preferred to eat glass than to have watched the whole ceremony on TV.   And I’d never, ever be writing about it if someone who spoke Portuguese hadn’t won.

And it doesn’t hurt that she’s so damn cute!  I’m not really evaluating how pretty she is here; all those girls range from slightly scary but gorgeous to really effing gorgeous.  But no, this one has a sweetness about her that made me take notice.  Plus she’s gorgeous.

I love her expression here!

Photo of Lelia Lopes of Angola hearing she won "Miss Universe."

Come on! Who can resist that genuinely joyful face?

  I think we need a better look at that smile!!

Close up of Lopes

See? Too cute!

I really don’t know much about her, but from the slide show of the contest, she looks a million times more genuine than some of the other plastic contestants.  It’s also nice to see a story about Angolans that does not involve the words “desperate,” “violent,” “your cousin got attacked,”  “war-torn,” or “bombs.”   Hopefully, she will help shatter those images.  Good luck to her.

DE-nied! I’ll Stay Home and Fondle My Textbook

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So eat my shorts!  Bite my butt!  Slap my face and call me Charlie!

There’s no Portuguese class at ALL this semester!!  Unless, as my former teacher informed me this weekend, I want to drive to San Jose.  In the middle of the day.  While I’m trying to work.

I combed through half a dozen possibilities.  The closest Portuguese class is at UC Berkeley.  It  currently costs more to take this through UC Berkeley Extension than it did for a quarter – sixteen units of real, enrolled student worth – at UCSD ten years ago.  Um… can we say… outta my league! SEVENTEEN HUNDRED BUCKS!

For that, I’ll sit home with my textbook from last year and imagine my grandmother saying what I’m reading.  I used to do that while I studied, and it actually works pretty well.  If it’s something my grandmother used to SAY!!!   Like “calças.” Or “Nada no chão!”   I’m sure half the words I’m reading are mispronounced in my head, but to save 1700 bucks, I’m willing to learn Portuguese half-assed.

Let’s be honest.  I just don’t have the money to begin with.

The real losers are the BCC student body; why are we ignoring Portuguese when Brazil is so close, and has almost as many consumers as the US?  I’m sure they’re teaching Italian.  And German.  I’m all for teaching all of those languages, but where’s the sense in killing Portuguese?   The first semester was bursting at the seams.  The second… not so much.  People chicken out.  And realize it’s not a magical freebee language if you speak Spanish.

I also read that the study abroad class Deolinda teaches in Portugal through UC Berkeley has been canned.  I couldn’t sign up last year for personal reasons, but I was all revved up to sock away something to do it this year.

And it’s dead.

I hope, not for long.  Though one has to wonder why one class in the East Bay costs 1500, but one that globetrotts is 7000.  The former should offer some traveling component.  And I don’t mean down the 24 to fight for campus parking.