Maria Antonieta On A Midnight...


Saturday. Almost an hour before midnight, my friend Antonio and I were still curled up on his sofa listening to his old bolero tunes.
With lyrics such as ¨I love you so much/ I can’t live without you/ I will die without you / please come back to me¨, the room is filled almost suicidal boredom, so thick, you can cut it with a knife. We planned on going out for a drink just like normal Saturdays but because his stomach was in outrage because of the cake he ate that morning, we opted to do something else. That something else is called nothing.

I suggested maybe a glass of whiskey will do him fine. He resented.

Actually, there are ways to spend a cold night without going out. A good book, a glass of wine, or the telly are always good alternatives but because because of the long holiday season until now work was quiet, in fact, the whole world was quiet, I needed some distractions or I else, I might go ballistic and end up in an asylum.
And then Antonio´s phone rang.
It was Jorge (pronounced hor-he not George), our Argentinean friend inviting us to go to the movies. I was delighted.

¨So what are we gonna watch¨, I asked him.

¨Maria Antonieta¨, he said

¨Huh?¨

Then I suddenly remembered I was in Spain.

So after a 5 minute shower (at least I showered), we were off to the cinema in Jorge’s car. We call Jorge ¨La Divina¨ (the divine) because that’s what he is---the seemingly cultured, socialite, knows-everything-type of fag. He works in a gay sauna (hahaha!) as an architect and during the afternoons he does his usual rounds to each room with only a towel wrapped around his waist (now that’s a dream job for a gay man, really) but obviously he’s been doing that for so long, he now knows everyone, slept with practically everyone, he can even tell you the card numbers of the members by heart. He is so bored with his job; he recently applied as a pastry chef. Bless him.

So we got in the mall. I freaked out when we checked the popcorn stand. They only had plain popcorn! When I asked Antonio if could ask for cheese flavoured ones he looked at me as if I was asking for coffee from the North pole or mangoes from Africa. Flavoured popcorns do not exist in Spain. So obviously, I settled with what´s available and promised myself I would eat as much barbeque or cheese flavoured popcorns as I could in G4 when I get back to
Manila.

The Cinema was practically empty for the last full show at 12:30am. I was not surprised to see that majority of the viewers were either girls or gay men. I mean, what to do you expect from a movie about Marie Antoinette but frivolities---shoes, gowns, wigs and yes, cakes and sweets. Well, maybe a little bit of French history but honestly, who cares about history on a cold Saturday night? So amidst 17 year old girls and their equally eye-candy boyfriends and a bunch of Dolce and Gabbana muscled Marys, we were off to the beautiful city of Versailles.

The Movie
The opening scene of Kirsten Dunst on a recliner surrounded with pastel coloured cakes and an attendant fixing her shoes is stunning. Her expensive gowns are marvellous. The scenery—the castles, the luscious greenery, the production design in general—is breathtaking. The movie is moving; but only on its first 20 minutes.

I admit I am an admirer of Ms. Coppola´s films. In fact, I am a fan of hers. With her first film, The Virgin Suicides, she captured the loneliness and depression we all, in one way or another, experienced when we were in our teens. It was a tragic film but a GOOD tragic film. Her first film proved that her Coppola blood is alive and potently running through her veins and that she´s got talent, not only a name.

With Lost in Translation, she made me cry. It is one of those movies which encourage the viewers to think, to participate and to make their own ending. Her documentary type treatment to the movie was fresh, making it worthy for an Oscar. Aside from that, I believe, the actors were fantastic. I remember I had to see this film twice to hear what Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johanson´s ear just to realize, there was actually nothing (that you can hear).
With Marie Antoinette, Ms. Coppola bored me to death. The first time in my life (being a movie maniac myself) I was about to sleep in the moviehouse; and I promise you I haven’t slept during a movie in my 28 years.!

What´s so boring about it ? Let me tell you.

This is a movie of a girl walking. She walks to and fro…on and about…up and down…from one side of the screen to another. Of course she sometimes sits. She sits for her meal, maybe dance with friends and such and then…she walks again. She walks inside the palace, the hills, the grass, and everything but a tightrope and on the water. During the movie, I was like…¨where the F&”% is she going?¨ There was a bit about French revolution but I think Ms. Coppola was just lazy to elaborate it. I don´t care at all about history in movies, anyway. If I want history, I´m gonna read a book, not go to a movie. It is more precise and accurate but with this movie, I was just appalled with the lack of it or the at least the very little that they showed. What she (Ms. Coppola) was showing was the pains and struggles of the beheaded queen. How sad it is to wear different Manolo Blahniks everyday, how lonely it is to eat all the cakes that you want in the world and how painful it is to have a hot Swedish lover that she had. Yeah right! Very minimal dialogues too. In fact, it is close to a silent film. I´m sure the director wanted the viewers to feel the emotions through visuals instead but when you analyze Kirsten Dunst’s face, you see nothing but flawless skin. Good thing there was Madamme du Barry which was the saving grace of the movie, aside of course from the production design and costume. However, the hilarity of Madamme du Barry´s character did not last long. She was thrown out of the palace after the first King, her lover, died. Too bad.

Music by New Order, The Strokes and Bow Wow were provided which is rather cool, but it is just too much it made the film look like a looooong music video.

In the end, everybody was like ¨That was it? ¨

I spent almost 10 euros (600 pesos) for this movie with an additional 1000 calories gained from popcorn and coke and I was left confused? Well, just before the credits come up, the divine Jorge (again, pronounced hor-he) was shrieking, ready to join the war in Iraq. Obviously he was doing all the bashing so I decided to shut my big mouth up (you know me i´ve got a BIG mouth. Imagine HIS). Meanwhile, Antonio´s stomach got worst. I didn´t know if it is because of the ice tea that he had, or the film.

However, looking back and thinking about the film, I mean, REALLY thinking about it, what Ms. Coppola was trying to achieve was to use Marie Antoinette´s life as a metaphor in our too-much-too-soon world. It is about how sad life can be in the world of Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans; how depressing it is to be on top and be on it forever; that behind those Manolo Blaniks, coutoured gowns, perfect skin and a closet full of money, is an empty person, searching for the true meaning of happiness and love. Too bad only a small portion of the society will understand that; for the majority of the human population gets depressed for the lack of food and money.
If the director’s goal was to show how boring it is to be on top, I think she´s done perfectly well on that part. So good, in fact she bored the audience as well. The goal is good. However, the execution failed.

But…but…but!!! Since the director is THE Sophia Coppola, she can obviously do whatever she wants to do with her movies. She can show a pair of converse on the background while the young queen. was trying on her new shoes (yes, it was there, you wouldn´t miss it), or use 80s music for a period movie for all she cares. With this, I give Miss Coppola a thumbs up. Her attempt to break Hollywood’s conventionality with her rebel attitude is admiring.
Anyway, the movie left a sour taste in my buds, I ended up salivating for a pastel pink cake.

when shit hits the fan...and my foot.


Achtung: The combination of the winter season and shit can be fatal.

After a what seemed to be a century of work in the office, I finally ended with enthusiasm of what the evening might bring. I was suppose to meet my English friend David, a violinist, who called me up in the morning to say that he is the coast after a 3 day stint in San Sebastian and was aching to see me. So, I pulled all my gear, put on my scarf and my heavy coat ready to wage war with the chilly air outside that I can never be accustomed to.
When I finally got out of the door, It was not the biting frost that almost made me faint. It was the diabolical smell of...SHIT! It turned out that they were working on the septic tank in our office as it hasn´t been fixed for days due to heavy rain.
So, barely breathing,half asphyxiated, I ran to where our car was parked. On the pathway,an anaconda-sized septic tank hose was lying as if waiting for it´s next victim. I confidently sashayed down to the carpark where my Argentinean officemate (he´s straight and married but hey, you would not know what luck might bring!) was waiting for me to give me a lift.
And then the unthinkable happened: The step of death.
The hose, suddenly did its deadly suction, moved to the hilt, and whipped my foot like Linda Carter with her magic lasso in her wonder woman heydays. The next thing I knew I was down on the floor with white pain shooting up until my head! Man, I cannot remember the time I lost my cherry but I´m sure this was far more painful than that! Good thing, the hose didn´t explode or anything or else I could have been in a more shitty and embarrassing situation!

So, I lost my poise, my grace and style. Good thing Ariel (the Argentinean stud) was a real gentlemen and helped me until I reached home. I felt like a total damsel in distress. All the way home, he was like, ¨ÿou´re gonna be fine¨..don´t worry about it¨ . I was thinking, honey, a little kiss would be a lot more helpful than that. But I was in deep pain, flirting was the last thing on my mind.Once home, I turned off my phone in case David the Violinist would call and painfully dreamt of his Stradivarius renditions instead.

It has been more than a week now since I had my accident and obviously, my foot is still in bandage. I hope there wouldn´t be any of the prince charming´s butlers around, asking everyone to try the magical shoes because even Ru Paul´s size 50 Manolo Blahniks wouldn´t fit my elephant foot right now! Gosh!

Anyway, this accident made me appreciate the unappreciated end part of my long svelte legs. When it gets to heal, I promised to have it pampered like how Paris Hilton pampers her dog--luxurious. However, blood clots and bone misalignments did not stop me from going out (well, yeah..for a week I din´t go out but one has to rest. I AM NOT A MACHINE. I AM JUST GORGEOUS).
Last night, in the blistering cold, my Spanish friend and I hopped to town and join the last day of the 2 day vacation week (You say, Mrs. Macapagal Arroyo is addicted to giving holidays? In Spain, there is at least 2 working holidays each month!). At the end of the night..I was able to practice my 3-second flirting skills (THAT would be another topic altogether) and thanks to my badly bruised foot, I got almost everyone´s attention---¨awwww...poor thing....your foot...how did get it..what´s your name?¨
Hit me baby one more time.

paellaland


Malaga...South of Spain..Andalucia..Costa del Sol...Picasso´s ( and Antonio Bandera)birthplace..flamenco´s hometown. This is where I live. I´ve been here for almost two and a half year now. I know the rules, I know the game (or at least I would like to think so). Now let me share them with you, my dear friends, who have been wondering what and how I am doing in the land of Toros and home of the Paella. Welcome to my adventures in España!

Yes, it has been two unbelievable years since i came to the land of toros. Just like anyone who´s new to a foreign land, a lot of things were quite odd to me, sometimes bizarre. However, as times go by, you begin to adapt.Adaptation leads to understanding and knowledge, and knowledge leads to acceptance. I resisted to adapt at first. But it was futile. I was in a different world which meant I had to shed a part of my being to gain some...to be apart of whole.

Anyways, i don´t want to sound philosphical in any ways. This is my blog and not the New York Times for Christ´s sake and I am just a normal bitch who wants to kill some time adulating AND a lot more hell of a time,bashing the idiosyncrasies of the new exciting world I am living in at the moment.So let the bloody fun begin.

TALK THE TALK, OR HOLD YOUR SILENCE FOREVER.
In Spain, small talk is non-existent. You either spew out saliva or you hold your silence until vanish in thin air. An average "hello´s" and "how are you´s" in Spain is about 10 to 20 minutes, in which, you should have already recapped all the circumstances that happened to you from the previous day until the time of conversation. If not, they think you are just plain stupid, boring, or impolite.
Conversations start obviously from how you are doing today..yesterday plus, what´s up with your family etc. but what´s weird is, Spanish people do not stop to chat you up until you are both out of topics to talk about. It seems like it is a never ending talk at the bar or an intimate reunion with your grandparents after years of not seeing them, when in fact, they just wanted to say hello to you seeing you standing on the street for your 9am bus to work! Obviously, you could come up with a valid excuse to avoid long talks but it only means that there will be a second time around since you´ve cut it short. That is more scary because it might end up with a coffee or a beer at 9am (that is altogether another story which i will tell you later) and ending up missing your bus.On the telly, talk shows become shout shows although until now, I haven´t seen one which ended up in violence (thank Goodness. We already have too much of that thanks to Mr. Bush).
This is how a typical talk show in Spain goes. 5 reporters. 1 subject on the hotseat. A reporter will throw the the first question. The subject opens his mouth to answer, reporter number 2 adds up something.reporter number 3 throws another question. Subject answers, reporter number 3 shouts out his inaccordance..and so on and so forth. They scream and shout and talk AT THE SAME BLOODY TIME!At the end, no conclusions are made if the subject is right or wrong or if he was just a decoration on the set. Whew! Still, ratings are high and the people love it. However, I tell you, these are all norms.
Remember when your grade school teacher or your mom told you to shout your mouth and listen while somebody else is speaking? It does not apply here.Here, if you have a point, even when somebody else is speaking, cut him off by raising your voice..increase your volume to ¨high" or better yet shout. In this way, you will win a debate. One time during my first year here in paellaland, I was in a restaurant seated near the bar where the chef, the manager and the staff where having a a meeting (or so I thought it was ). Obviously, I was oblivious of what they were on until I heard the word that was quite familiar to me---REGLA. Dubious but quite keen on finding out what they were passionately on about for the last 30 minutes, i had to ask a spanish friend to translate the conversation for me(we were not being nosy, it´s just that they talk so loud, I promise you wouldn´t miss even a low sigh) and Yes! i was correct! They were talking about THE regla that we know. It turned out that they were talking about the chef´s daughter who at 10 years of age has had her first menstruation....and of course, the rest were just throwing in their own bloody tales as well. I found it odd, don´t you, to have a conversation about menstruation in a restaurant, openly, with the complete entourage of staff considering that the next that the clients on the nearest table if enjoying their steak, medium rare.Oh, and I have to add, it wasn´t just your normal carinderia type restaurant, honey. This one is where one can have lazy sunday lunches for a price of 2 dinners combined. Anyway, let us talk about HOW they talk.
Think of Kuya Cesar and how he can get you to sleep with his first 500 words....think of Kris Aquino and how arte you think she buzzes the buzz..and finally, think of Miriam Santiago and how powerful and eloquent she censures the administration (then finally going on board to ERAP´s team.poor girl). The nearest manner to which the Spanish way of speaking resembles, is that of Miriam x 10! Yup. They speak as fast as lightning with all the conviction there is to prove a point. This is complemented with hand or head gestures, a mixture of a facial expressions and sometimes, a combination of them all.
Once at work, I was on the verge of bursting into tears when my boss spoke with me. Little did I know that she was just telling me to stay a few more hours because another staff had an accident and had to be taken to the hospital because he suffered broken bones...etc..etc..etc..as if I needed to know the details. I thought she was fuming mad mad at me or something.I repeat: there is no ¨low¨in the spanish volume way of speaking, you start with ¨medium high¨ and end with ¨Shout¨.

Spanish language for me is not quite as subtle to the ear unlike French and mind you, it is quite difficult to learn. Good thing we have a lot of their words in our vocabulary which makes it manageable if you are just beginning to learn it. In the Andalucian parts like where I am now, it is just more complex and convoluted. They have a thick accent similar to speaking with a mouthful of popcorn, or just dead lazy. They do not pronounce the ¨s¨ of a word ending with it; say, ¨gracia¨for gracias or ¨torremolino¨for Torremolinos (a town in Malaga). As a result, foreigners like the British (the majority of the population of expats and foreigners in the coast) do not even try to learn and moreso speak the language because it is different from the textbook Spanish that they know.
Smile. that is enough to be comprehended.
I remember my former boss, she was a black englishwoman. She didn´t speak a word of Spanish. Her ignorance led her to nervous breakdowns whenever someone tries to speak in spanish with her. One time I heard her on the phone probably with a local telemarketer on the other line. I thought everything was okay until i heard her on the top of her lungs shouting..¨WHO ARE YOU?????!!!!!!!!WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME???!!!!!!GET OFF MY PHOOONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!¨ I thought and still think it was hilarious.

Do not get me wrong, the ¨talk¨ culture of Spain is one of the many charms that this country has. Once you get used to it though, you would not stop. My Spanish isn´t perfect yet although it is far more than good. I still have to do my lessons every week and get my daily dose of ¨OPERACION TRIUNFO¨(POP IDOL) and GRAN HERMANO (BIG BROTHER) to polish the craft although my spanish profesor would always tell me ¨JENO! VE LAS NOTICIAS Y NO ESAS MIERDASSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!¨ (JENO, WATCH THE NEWS AND NOT THESE GARBAGES! (OR SHITS)).