My fave song of all time

In my life I have tasted more than a million songs. . . I say tasted because there were many that didn’t get past the 10 second mark. Of all those, this is the one, presented in its usual state as well as acoustic, unplugged, unleaded, whatever you want to call it.



Travel Thursday: A Day in Mexico City

For the third Thursday in a row I’ll be gone all day with no chance to post when it should be posted, so here ya go with Travel Thursday on Wednesday night, a strange tradition.

Right after breakfast I hopped into a taxi to the university cultural center, where I bought a ticket for the flamenco show that night; with a borrowed student I.D., I got it at half price. Just to show you how huge UNAM–the university in question–is, I had to take a minibus to get to University Metro Station on the other side of it. Even then I had to climb up and down a lot of stairs to get to the actual subway, trying to have fun with the figures that name the stations, being more than occasionally puzzled when there was no rhyme or reason to it. The streets are even worse: northwest of Chapultepec Park I ran into Avenida Moliere, if you can believe that. It helps if you try to make fun of them.

Finally transferred to Line 2 to get to Insurgentes, where I’m on known turf again. This area is called the Zone Rosa–Pink Zone–not because it’s almost like a red light district, but because. . . I don’t know why. It’s the ritziest shopping place in the city, and I’ve never seen streetwalkers or window-dwellers there, so you’ll have to ask someone else. Walking up Geneva, I of course had to stop off at McD’s for a large fries–haven’t had them in so long!–which ruined my appetite later. From there I walked along Reforma for a while, taking in the statues until I came to a tremendously tall, reflective, skinny building that simply begged me to shoot, even though I had to lie on the sidewalk to get the whole thing. I’d never had vertigo lying down before, and it was not an experience I’d like to repeat.

(You’ve seen this building in frequent postings of Ailsa’s travel themes.)

Wandering a bit aimlessly along the back streets, I eventually arrived at Sullivan Park, where the weekly art show was in full swing. The Unicorn lady was still there after all these years, and she was still doing unicorns, so all was right with the world. And not only was Miniature Guy there, he remembered me! He told me that a VP or board member of Mercedes in Stuttgart had over 500 of his paintings, so I’m shocked he’d remember someone who only commissioned one, but I’ll take it. How he can draw lifelike figures about the size of a fingernail is beyond me, but it’s awesome. I still have it, even if it’s of an old girlfriend. . .

Since I wasn’t in a buying mood, I soon took off west, a very long walk just to get to the edge of Chapultepec Park, and then a long walk to the lake, to buy my ticket for the Swan Lake spectacular they have in the middle of said lake. Noticed in the coming attractions that Ottmar Leibert would be playing, but not until long after I was gone, so shucks on that, as well as the Swan seats being sold out. Dammit!
Feeling more than a little aggrieved, as well as hungry, I took a taxi to Embers, my favorite eatery in the city, which is unfortunately far off the subway lines. With a fun-looking exterior and an open, cheery inside, I quickly ordered my usual and munched on the fantastic bread pieces–so good you might fill up before the burger arrives–and sipped a delicious naranjada while I looked around. No one was behind the keyboard in the corner, probably a good thing right now, because as always the first thing that draws my attention is the sign over the door that says “All our burgers are made from genuine 100% beef.” I don’t know if that’s supposed to make me feel better or just a joke, because underneath is a photo or drawing of two horses laughing! I wish I had a picture of it, but I couldn’t find the one I took.
On the menu are numerous types of burgers, but I always have the same one; as I told the waiter, in Spanish obviously, “I like my burgers like my models: nude.” In case you can’t figure that out on your own, that means I only want the bread, cheese, and meat. {Recently some wise guy insisted a nude burger would be without cheese, so I’ve had to change this to “lingerie burger,” but only when he’s around.} As a fun aside, on a later trip I took a couple of young female relatives along; one ordered the mushroom special, which I prefer not to even contemplate, but the other ordered the Roquefort, which is marinated in champagne. For a girl who had never drunk alcohol in her life, it made for some interesting and very amusing viewing.
So on to the important stuff, right? Not only was it the best burger I’ve ever had in Mexico–whole country–it was one of the best in the world. Yes, the search ended right there. While it’s technically possible that there’s a better burger in town, these are so good I’m not going to bother searching further; I may not be the same kind of connoisseur of burgers as I am of corn, but I feel very comfortable saying that. And every subsequent visit has been just as good. And if you’re feeling up to it, there’s one burger on the menu that is so big it comes out on a butcher’s block. Go ahead, seriously, I dare you. . .
As always I went off to the arcade a block over, for some Galaga and looking for someone to play air hockey against while the rest of my body worked on digestion. Then another pescero–minibus–took me to metro station Normal, which I rode all the way to Tasqueña at the end of Line 2, but that trip took so long I instantly needed another taxi to get to the flamenco at the U.

The show was called Entre el Olivo y la Fragua, which basically translates to “Between the Olive Tree and the Forge,” as in blacksmith’s shop {yes, I had to look that up}.
The first dance was called Benamor, a standard flamenco solo with castanets. Patricia Linares is the main babe of the night, looking gorgeous in the typical flamenco way, therefore she looked younger than she had to be. This piece seemed to be an easy warm-up for what was to come.
Next up was La Alegria de Vivir, which is easy enough to translate: “Joy of Living.” This was the highlight, mostly because the music was Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez, along with its companion Fantasia Para Un Gentilhombre, which as everyone knows translates to “Fantasy for a Gentleman.” They’re possibly the most famous musical pieces featuring guitar as main instrument with orchestra, and I could listen to them on repeat all day. Patricia is glowing in a beautiful lavender velvet flamenco dress with a long tail, playing a solitary soul afraid of others. The five backup gals were having fun with flowers–also a typical flamenco motif, the flower dance; Patricia’s innocent character gets one and loves it. But at the end of the second movement of the Concerto, the most famous part–I’m glad I came, just for this!–she’s lying down with the other girls running around her, giving her a headache and trampling her flower. No third movement as she goes to change into a simply white dress, and to begin the Fantasia the girls go into the fan dance. One can’t get hers to open, shakes it at the important points in the music, so I think it’s part of the act. Patricia comes back out and ends up with all the flowers, as a proper diva should. . .
This intermission, like most, didn’t afford me many thoughts, though I did have some funny moments reading the names of the backup dancers and trying to figure out which was which, though of course I had no clue. Not that I imagine any of them would read this, but just for the heck of it I’ll include their names: Monica Villanueva, Alietta Gonzalez, Adriana Santos, Citlali Iglesias, and Pilar Palacios. If one of them leaves a comment I just might keel over. . .
The third dance, a debut like the previous, was Alborada del Alma, which to my surprise–I didn’t know the first word–translates to “Dawn of the Soul.” Nice. Once again Patricia takes the stage alone for this paso doble fantasy world of a girl in a roomful of props, while clad in a head-to-toe form-fitting purple velvet suit that doesn’t quite flatter her body the way it should. She starts by placing a flower in her hair and lipstick where it’ll do the most good, then on to playing with a shawl, and so forth, until she finds the bull head and puts it on, only to enjoy playing a matador more. As a flamenco fan, I found the concept wonderful but the dancing a bit pedestrian, with mostly just the taps, lacking in body movements and arm positions and so on. . . {holy shit, am I actually doing a dance review in this blog? The world is definitely coming to an end. . .}
But not the evening. The fourth piece is Rondeña, wonderful in its simplicity, the most satisfying–to me. It’s pure group flamenco: five ladies in beautiful tight dresses–two purple, one red, one orange, one lime green–doing what flamenco is supposed to be. The short babe in the green–really wish I coulda gotten their names, or at least hers–was the most fun to watch, as she had a constant magnetic smile that would have taken attention away from the main diva, had she been on stage at the time. They started with the shawl dance, each matching their dresses of course, then brought out the castanets, as you would see in every show. . . but then, that’s what makes it special; that’s what I came to see.
On to the final piece, and it’s a doozy: Los Siete Mundos, easily translated to “The Seven Worlds.” By far the strangest thing all night, it was more performance art than straight dance. Our main diva comes out carrying her stool and singing in a not-bad soprano, clad in a simple blue dress. The others, after leaving the main lady alone for a while, join in with their own stools in a semi-circle, draped in flower dresses. Being true women, they pretend to gossip for a while before starting the clapping and dance solos within the circle. The main gal is at the right end, so she’s the one who sees a masked man come on stage from left rear. Already it feels eerie as she goes over to check what he’s about, scared yet obviously unable to help herself, this new thing is too interesting. When she tells the others about him, they find him too hideous to contemplate and pull her back to the group; this part seems a bit of an archetype, from many movies and plays, but they pulled it off. She pleads with them to let her go, but before she can convince them the masked man leaves. This makes her sad–sniff!–and when the girls split off to go home, she says goodbye to one group while pretending to be with the other, only to fool them by staying.
Next came a number of appearances by the masked man in different guises–and I’m reminded of a Benny Hill skit. As a troll, he gives her a lantern, so she can take the already-illuminated path she needs to travel without fear of stepping off. Rain and wind–mimed–appear, until she finally realizes that with the lantern she’s not limited to the path. For some reason there was a lot of ballet in this section, which didn’t work for me, so I concentrated on the story. Each time the masked man appeared, he would toss her a skirt of the same color and style he was wearing, of which I particularly remember the orange Maya-like garment. With a very nice play of lights a flight of steps appears in the back, and the last thing we see before the lights go out is her finally reaching the top. Apparently this dance was based on Egyptian initiation rituals, which I’ve certainly never heard of, but I can see where she’s going with it there at the end.
The gals and the masked man–who’s actually a woman–take their bows with joyful smiles, looking like they’d genuinely enjoyed the performance. Unfortunately main gal Patricia had to play it serious and haughty, which dropped my appreciation of her a bit, even if she was doing what most of those divas do, but as you can tell I enjoyed–and remembered–most of the performance, so two thumbs up. . . up what, I won’t tell you.

After a long walk to a stand, I took my fifth taxi of the day–I hope that’s a record, and it’ll never be broken–to finish off eleven hours of constant on-the-go low-oxygen Mexico City living. . .


Poetry Tuesday: The Golden Touch

By Rosamund Marriott Watson

The amber dust of sunset fills
The limits of my narrow room,
And every sterile shadow thrills
To golden hope, to golden bloom.

Sweet through the splendour, shrill and sweet
Somewhere a neighbouring cage-bird sings,
Sings of the Spring in this grey street
While golden glories gild his wings.

Clothed with the sun he breaks to song —
In vague remembrance, deep delight —
Of dim green worlds, forsaken long.
Of leaf-hung dawn and dewy night.

My prisoning bars, transfigured too.
Fade with the day, forsworn, forgot —
Melt in a golden mist — and you
Are here, although you know it not.


Shield at Paley

Don’t remember if I mentioned it on the previous Paley Fest blog, but the Ariel Pez doesn’t look much like her, except for the red hair. The pink dress is just too jarring; find a way to give her a clam bra or a tail, dammit. Merida, on the other hand, is uncannily realistic, especially the long red curls; she already has a place of honor in my pocket. . . and no, that’s neither a euphemism nor a “That’s what she said!”
Mel’s again for another orange freeze, the place is much more full this time. Worked it so I wouldn’t be so early arriving at the Dolby, and found my ticket changed from balcony to the back of the floor, still far away but seemingly much closer. Cheesed my way to an empty row instead of seated in the middle and stepping over everyone, so I was feeling really good as the screen starts up with a scene from Sex in the City, with “Coleson” lying about being a doctor after sleeping with the redhead. . . and if you thought I knew their names, you have not been paying attention to this blog.
Finally one of the executive producers–not Joss Whedon–comes out to introduce what’s going on, getting all fan boy about “This is where they do the Oscars! That selfie was right down there!” Finally he remembered to tell us not to spoil–“that’s Latin for bad milk”–what we were about to see, which was the next episode, the one airing on, appropriately, April first. “You all now have level 7 clearance,” so act like it.
Approximately 40 minutes later:
Holy shit, I wanna tell everyone who the Clairvoyant is!

We quickly forgot about that as the moderator was introduced: Felicia Freakin’ Day! And things only got better when she squealed, “Happy Saturday. . . why is everyone laughing at that?”
Um, it’s Sunday. . .
She waves it off. “You don’t want to know what I did last night. . .”
As the cast is introduced, I’m a little horrified by that blue thing Chloe’s wearing {Holy shit, am I going to talk about fashion?} Chloe, look at Min-Na! That’s how you dress sexy!
The first thing that was said, and then said over and over, was that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” opens April 4, and a new episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs April 8–though the guy called it the seventh a few times–and it might be good for you to watch both, in that order. Gotcha, though I’d be a lot more interested if Lady Sif made an appearance. . .
But as usual I digress. There was a fun part early on when Ming-Na and Chloe complained about how the writers never tell them anything, so of course Jed Whedon had to act out the cookiest sneaking around pantomime you’d ever want to see about the actors trying to sneak into the writer’s room.
The best moment, or moments, were about who were Skye’s parents. Ming-Na, who is a helluva lot funnier than May, said she wanted Skye to be the love child of May and Thor, with flashbacks to those scenes.” In case you didn’t know it, she has a huge crush on Helmsworth. Then Clark Gregg nailed it with, “I was gonna say Coulson and Sif.”
In case you haven’t figured it out, I love Sif. . .
Even better were the audience questions, with a lot of people dressed up–one kid was Coulson Jr.–and others sporting “Coulson lives!” shirts. One guy was sporting a shirt that screamed “Coulson Is My Homeboy,” and he pointed out that for a secret group S.H.I.E.L.D. had a lot of stuff with the logo, leading his homeboy to explain, “The organization is not a secret. What they do is.” Nicely put, though even the plane has an espresso machine with the logo. “And Fitz can give you a latte where the foam is the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.”
Always loved Coulson, but Clark Gregg is cool as himself too. He even hopped off the stage to hug fans, and joked about how he came up with 11,000 Twitter aliases for the #coulsonlives thing.
One thing that I’m glad they got out of the way was the possibility of a romance for FitzSimmons. Thankfully the guy who plays Fitz says they’re too much like brother and sister for that. Elizabeth–Simmons–when asked which Marvel character she’d like to have a scene with, chose a cup of tea with Loki, leading “Coulson” to grunt, “I’ve been in a scene with Loki.” Since everyone there knew Loki had killed Coulson in Avengers 1, it got a big laugh.
Someone asked if Felicia might appear on the show, which most likely got the biggest applause. And of course the spunky redhead had to mention that the 10% was in the mail for the person who asked.
There was the requisite mention of Chloe’s past as a teen pop singer in China; I thought she’d be more embarrassed to have that pop up, especially when Felicia, who wasn’t aware of that, asked her to explain, but she seemed more resigned about it.
When it ended it seemed like everyone rushed up to the stage, even beating Security to it. Stayed a while, but figured it would take way too long if ever to get a couple of autographs and headed our for lunch, since I doubted either Ming-Na or Chloe would be joining me. . .

And now some Ladies of Paley. . .






Travel Theme: Pink

This time on the Ailsa Travel Blogging Network, our intrepid leader gets as girly as she’s ever been with the most garish of colors–at least to the male eye.
Which is why I’m so surprised to find I have so many shots in this category. . .

Typical Degas

Typical Degas

A girl with a pink Daisy. . .

A girl with a pink Daisy. . .

Please don't go. . .

Everyone wears pink on breast cancer awareness day.

Everyone wears pink on breast cancer awareness day.


Travel Thursday: Jerez of my Dream, part 5

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art was the only one in the world good enough to be compared to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which basically meant they only taught rich people and gave shows once in a while. With the place being next to the Palace, it didn’t take us long to walk there, even in her high heels, which she admitted she had to get used to walking in every time, let alone dancing in.
“But I’m fine now!” she giggled, and didn’t seem bothered when I didn’t say “Yes you are!”
Instead I went with, “Not after that last drink you’re not. And of course I did hear what that woman said to you, and more importantly what you said to her.”
I didn’t think she’d call me on that, for then I’d have to admit I was eavesdropping, but she simply blushed and hung her head, partly in shame and partly so I couldn’t see her grinning.
Stopping for a moment, I put my hand over her mouth; she fell obligingly silent, always being a good girl, as well as amused. “Wanna be a famous prima dona opera singer?” I whispered.
“Not especially,” she replied with a shrug.
“Do it anyway, all attitude. . . don’t say anything!”
Once there, I never broke stride as I gave the guard at the entrance a terse nod, holding the door open for her. She strode haughtily through it, pretending not to look at the suddenly-gasping guard. Enjoy it, baby, she thought, but immediately reverted to nice country girl and gave him a friendly “Buenas noches.”
“Good thing you wore those boots,” I muttered once we were inside, refusing to explain that, instead scolding, “I told you not to talk!”
She grinned, blushing. “Forgot. But why? What’s going on?”
“This is a show for special invited guests.” I put his arm around her shoulders and steered her, knowing she’d never remember which way to go. “Maybe we can get you off on mental incompetence.”
She chuckled and hugged me. “Afraid to admit it, but when I’m around horses, it’s usually true.”
“Don’t blame the horses.”
As I’d expected, soon enough someone challenged our right to be there, this one a bureaucratic jerk with a clipboard. “I do not know you.”
“You really need to get out more,” I smirked superiorly. “Everyone here recognizes the most famous actress in the world.”
“She is not on my list,” came the repeat monotone.
“Contact the people who actually know what’s going on,” I told the man sternly. “Then we’ll be more than happy to accept your apology.” I turned to her. “Let’s go, madame.”
She managed to hold the haughty this time until we were far away from the man– doing a damn good acting job, if I do say so myself!–before finally managing to look at me in something close to aghastment. “You need to give me acting lessons, mister!”
Making no reply to that other than a grin, I led her into the actual arena and found us some good seats. Reading from the flyer I’d been given, I translated, “A horseback procession celebrating the royal stud farm and the sixteenth century crossing of two Andalusian breeds, which gave rise to the superb horses of today.”
“Howz that different from what we saw at the fair?” she managed a good whine, wishing she could take the boots off for a few minutes.
“Top of the line horseflesh merchandise. Plus we get to sit.”
“Oh good!” She looked around and decided the people reminded her of those at Hollywood parties. “Not the actors, the behind the scenes movers and shakers. The money men and their trophy wives.” Then she grinned and waited for me to say something about her being perfect for that role.
Instead I went philosophical with, “Money can make men–and limber women–do strange things.”
“Limber, huh?” She had to keep herself from rushing into another fantasy, killed the thought with a Rush song. “Big money pulls a million strings.”
“Big money draws the flies.”
Grinning like a mean little kid, she continued the lyrics. “Big money leaves a mighty wake.”
“Big money leaves a bruise.”
“It’s the power and the glory.”
“It’s a war in paradise.”
“A Cinderella story.”
“On a tumble of the dice.”
She made a face. “We already did that part!”
The show started, and she thought of nothing else as she watched the horsies with a fascination that even took the self-proclaimed love of her life out of her brain. Luckily nothing happened to distract her from her happy place; she even gave what sounded like a sexual sigh of satisfaction when it was all over. Still clad in her tight green dress and honey-blonde hair up, plus the stilettos, she towered over most of the men in the post-show drinks room, either embarrassing or merely intimidating them.
Until she completely blew the mood–so to speak–by suddenly asking, “How do you say cucumber in Spanish?”
“Thank you.”
Not about to ask, I turned my attention, along with everyone else in the room, to a little stage in the corner, where two men dressed in centuries-old clothes began giving a fencing performance, unless it was a real duel over a girl or something.
As she watched the thrust and parry–and giggled to herself at the sexual connotations she couldn’t seem to stop thinking of–the younger of the guys was cut on the arm and immediately hustled away by his opponent, which basically told everyone the thing was indeed staged and dropped some of the enjoyment off the whole spectacle.
“Well, he’s dead,” Katarina announced cheerfully.
“Just a little scratch,” the woman next to her argued scornfully.
“A little poison on the sword and he’s done for.” She turned to glare at the woman. “Ever heard of Hamlet?”
Trying not to grin, I patted her ass gently. She, on the other hand, made no attempt to hide her smile. Now feeling completely relaxed, she started working the room, searching out any conversations in English. She’d never considered herself a brilliant conversationalist, but she knew herself to be a good listener, lively and quick to both sympathy and laughter, and with these qualities–added to her great beauty–no girl could go wrong.
So her mom told her, anyway. . .
Finally tired of meeting people she’d never meet again, she gave me a look that he interpreted quickly and easily. “I think it’s over here,” I smirked, and when she realized my cover for her escape was the old watercloset excuse, she clucked and scolded me like a maiden aunt, at least until we were out of earshot.
Instead I led her to a quiet balcony; she would not have been the least surprised if I’d either been here before or had scoped out the place while she was working the room. Wait, didn’t he say he always looks for the emergency exits? Glad he notices other things too!
Unable to stop herself, she looked over the railing and saw a gentle slope about ten feet down, an easy jump in a hurry, even in heels. “Ah,” she grinned. “You found this during your security explorations, didn’t you?”
“No idea what you mean, supposed-romantic lady.”
“Yeah, sure.”
I smirked evilly, as if to say, “Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”
Her only recourse was to douse me with a smile, showing every one of her perfect teeth.
But then she looked out past her little green escape hill, at the sight of the barns/ warehouses/whatever they were, and instinctively wrinkled her nose. “This place is butt-ugly!”
“You’ve never seen your butt, have ya?”
She winked. “Waiting for you to develop the photos.”
“Well, trust me, it’s as beautiful as the rest of ya.”
“Golly golly gosh!”
“Mmmm, I love your innocent character.”
“Knew ya would,” came the un-innocent smirk. “Plan on ravaging me?”
“Not that first time, no, but if you want to play that one day, don’t use your lousy German accent.”
Ignoring all the connotations that didn’t have to do with her acting, she huffed, “I can do a great German accent!”
“That was Russian.”
“Damn! It’s harder than I thought. Show me.”
“Why not?” That wasn’t whiny at all, right?
“I can’t be an actor,” he sighed. “Too exhausting.”
She looked smug, for some reason. “As true as that is, I have faith in you. Show me you agree by kissing me.”
“Not here.”
“So people see us, so what?”
“That would embarrass me.”
She snuggled closer. “I love it! Big man shy about kissing in public! You blush every time, it’s so cute! You’re blushing right now! It makes you appealing, you know.”
I thought about saying “I know,” instead growled at her, a mock carnivore rumble, and she squealed and hid her face in my chest. After a moment she pulled back and propped herself up with her chin on my shoulder to look at me, tracing the line of my nose, then my lips, with one finger. She obviously wasn’t the least bit embarrassed about anyone seeing us
“See how simple it is?” she whispered.
“That’s because you’ve done it so often in movies you can’t tell this is reality.”
“This isn’t reality,” she sighed. “This is paradise. . .”
On the other side of the corridor from the balcony we could look down at the ballroom, if that was indeed what it was called here. Smiling, I pointed to a man in a green tuxedo, whom she had seen and avoided like a plague. In fact, she shuddered as she asked, “Ever heard of a song called Marche funèbre d’une marionette? Classical composers were just as weird as today’s, if they wrote a funeral march for a puppet.”
“Ever see the Hitchcock TV show?”
“Remember the theme? That’s it.”
“That weird little march? Very cool! Really set the tone for the weirdness it preceded.”
For some reason she leaned over and kissed me tenderly on the cheek. . . only to be startled out of her mood at the shout of “Bella Americana!” from what sounded like more than one love starved/drunk guy. And indeed it was a crowd of them, scaring her. But at least they sound fun-loving rather than dangerous.
She did her best to be Hollywood-gracious, even signing autographs, until finally someone noticed how uncomfortable she looked under her façade of cheeriness. “You are indeed a special lady. Any time you need help. . . anything,” the guy added with a last glance at me.
She grinned and remarked, “All I ask is that you treat me no differently than you would the Queen.”
Which seems like the perfect place to end it. . .