Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Benjamin Button

Yesterday I ignored the bad reviews and saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I'm glad I did. It reminded me a lot of Brad's performance in Legends of the Fall. The backward aging process was cool, if a little disturbing at times. Brad Pitt, playing himself in this clip (Round Table Discussions), looks his actual age. He looked about twenty in a few scenes. It's easy for Hollywood to make actors look older for a film, but I'm really curious about how they made him look so much younger.

Now I want to track down F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story that the movie is based on. I'll let you know how they compare.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Danger of Books

Books aren't usually considered dangerous objects (unless they're used as impromptu weapons). But for me, books are dangerous. I get way too wrapped up in a good book. I burn dinner. Dirty laundry piles up. Clean laundry piles up. I temporarily reside in the setting of the book.

I spent about a week in November with Edward Cullen in Forks, Washington. I read the four books of the Twilight series in less than one week. That's 2,560 pages in less than seven days. Now my burnt dinners make sense, huh?

Last week I picked up the new issue of Writer's Digest with Megan McCafferty on the cover. The article intrigued me and I had to go pick up Sloppy Firsts, the first book in her Jessica Darling series. I was hooked. On my next trip to the bookstore, I picked up books 2-4.

As a writer, I have learned something from Stephenie Meyer and Megan McCafferty. The secret to young adult cross over success is creating a compelling, average American girl heroine and a reformed bad boy hero, creating heart-melting dialogue, and only allowing the average girl and the reformed bad boy to appear together on a limited number of pages. It's driving me nuts.

I keep reading to see how these relationships are going to work out. When the average girl or the reformed bad boy does something stupid, I get mad. I don't really think this archetype is fair to young women. It sets them up for expectations that few men will be able to fulfill. That's why books like these are unfair to men and women.

But at least Marcus Flutie is a little more . . . attainable? . . . than Edward Cullen.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Marley and Me the Movie

The book-to-movie films of the last few months have really reinforced my preference for books over movies. I had high hopes for Marley and Me but the movie was kinda shallow. The benefit of books is that the author is able to express a depth of feeling and a wide arrange of emotions that actors can only "show" in so many ways.

If you haven't read the book but want to see the movie, I recommend seeing the movie first. It's kinda funny in certain parts, but the book is hilarious. The movie is kinda sad at the end, but the book is a tearjerker.

Marley makes my Sofia look like a little brown angel. Marley, as portrayed in the book, is probably the worst case scenario for potential lab owners.

The best actor award for this movie has to go to Dr. McSteamy from Grey's Anatomy as John Grogan's reporter friend. McSteamy's character wasn't in the book at all as far I recall, but that addition to the screenplay made the movie edition better.

High points of the Marley movie: cute dogs and McSteamy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Marley and Me en espanol

Hace un rato vi un libro de un labrador travieso. Marley and Me esta escrito por el dueno del "peor perro del mundo" y un escritor estadounidense. John Grogan cuenta su relacion con Marley y como Marley estaba involucrado en cada paso de su matrimonio.

Como duena de Sofia, mi labradora chocolate, entiendo mucho de lo que escribe Grogan. Tambien estoy muy contenta de que mi Sofia no se porta tal mala. Pueda ser super-necia a veces, pero al menos no come el sofa como Marley.

Ya tengo planes de ir a ver la pelicula de Marley. Ojala sea mejor que otros libros que se convierten en peliculas.

Marley and Me

I just finished reading Marley and Me. I started it several weeks ago, but about halfway through I got sidetracked by Twilight. I had meant to read Marley for a while now, but the impending release of the movie provided me with motivation to read the book. I'm really hoping this is a better book to big screen adaptation than Twilight.

As the owner of a chocolate lab, I can identify with a lot of John Grogan's woes. Marley's antics make Sofia's stubborn spells seem like no big deal. So what she ran all over the yard with a dead blue bird in her mouth yesterday while I chased her in the freezing cold wind storm? At least I've never had to "search" for a necklace she swallowed.

I have a feeling movie theaters could really sell some tickets if they let dog owners take man's best friend to see this movie.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Proof Labs are the Smartest Dogs

I love this story. It's great that a story that could have ended in tragedy had a happy ending. The lab going back to save the other dog gave it a nice touch.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sofia's Christmas Album

I am admitedly one of those loonies who thinks dogs are substitute children. I really wanted to make Christmas cards with a picture of my husband and I with Tiger and Sofia. I'm running out of time, so I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the family pic will have to wait till next year. But then tonight I got a brave moment and decided that maybe I could just put a cute pic of Sofia in front of the Christmas tree on the front of a card. I mean, wouldn't a pic of a beautiful chocolate lab be pretty cool?

Then my problem became getting her to sit in front of the Christmas tree. When I said sit, she sat wherever she was. I wish I had reinforced tree in her puppy vocabulary. The treat in my hand was more interesting, but at least she was in the general vicinity.

I think all the hard modeling work made her a little bit sleepy.

It really wasn't as hard as I thought it might be. She only grabbed one ornament, but it had already fallen off the tree. She triedto hide the evidence for the picture.

Bottom line: I think I'll skip a photo Christmas card this year. The glowing eyes look like they belong on a Halloween card instead. But at least I have an "album" of Sofia's first Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ana and the Lamb Soundtrack

I started working on my submission for A Knoxville Christmas 2008 in late September. It took a little work for me to get in the Christmas spirit in the early fall. I turned to my iTunes list to see what Christmas music might inspire me. Here are the songs that did the trick:

Noche de Paz (Silent Night) from Ponle Salsa en Tu Navidad collection
Estare en Mi Casa Esta Navidad by Luis Miguel
Va a Nevar (Let it Snow) by Luis Miguel
Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano
The Little Drummer Boy by Johnny Cash
Oh Come All Ye Faithful by Johnny Cash
Mamacita Donde Esta Santa Claus by El Vez
Navidad by Gipsy Kings
Navidad en Mi Barrio by Victor Manuelle
Cascabel by Yomo Toro

It's a unique mix. I needed something to blend the American and Mexican since I was writing about a bi-cultural Christmas experience.

Now to begin the quest for love songs for Valentine's Day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


En las ultimas semanas he estado empezando mi blog personal. (Me tienen que disculpar porque no puedo usar accentos con este programa.)

Voy a empezar a traducir articulos que he escrito en ingles. Si ves problemas en mi espanol, por favor mandame un correo electronico para que lo puedo cambiar.

Desde junio yo escribo articulos de opinion y un blog para el periodico local, el Knoxville News Sentinel. Mis articulos salen el domingo cada dos meses. Yo escribo en el blog como se me pegue la gana. Mi tema principal es latinos. Yo vivo en un parte de los Estados Unidos que apenas esta sintiendo el crecimiento latino que lo demas del pais ha visto hace anos y decadas.

Tambien escribo cuentos cortos. Por supuesto se tratan de latinos, mexicanos en particular. Ya tengo dos cuentos publicados local. Uno se trata de una nina mojada cruzando la frontera. El otro es de una chava que quiere hacer borrego para su primera Navidad con su esposo americano.

Mi intencion en empezar este blog era explicar cosas a los guerros de mi vida americana-mexicana. (Yo soy gringa, nacida en Tennessee, casada con un chilango.) Hay cosas en mis cuentos que quiero explicar a los americanos que los lean. Mi meta es educar a los americanos a traves de mis cuentos y articulos. Decedi empezar a traducir unas cosas para que los latinos que me visitan aqui puedan aprender algo de la vida en gringolandia y tal vez aprender un poco de ingles.

Y por supuesto escribo aqui de mis perros, Sofia y Tiger.

Bienvenidos a mi blog desde gringolandia.

My First Lamb Taco

I was in a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Sevierville the first time I learned that Mexicans eat lamb. A couple insisted on taking me out to lunch after I had accompanied them to their daughter's appointment with a doctor to translate. Those were the early days of my Spanish acquisition. I was much better at talking to the American doctor than I was the Mexican parents, but they didn't mind.

The hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant specialized in tacos, and not the kind Taco Bell offers. When the waitress told me the options, the only one I recognized was tacos de carne asada. After the waitress left, the couple began explaining the other options.

I understood what carnitas were when they said puerco (pork). After a few minutes, we gave up on tacos al pastor. Pastor automatically translated into preacher and I didn't want to go there.

Next: tacos de barbacoa. It looks like barbeque tacos, but I had a feeling that wasn't right. They decided to explain the animal it comes from. The man said it had four legs. The woman said it had a lot of fur. Then came the next word: perro. A look of terror crossed my face. They expected me to watch them eat dog tacos?

The woman realized the mistake in her choice of words. She assured me that the tacos did not come from a dog. She then resorted to making the sounds the animal makes. Baaaa - Baaaa, not Ruff Ruff. I kept asking questions until I was sure we were talking about a lamb and not a dog.

Our tacos arrived and I was relieved to have ordered the most normal thing on the menu. Then they insisted on ordering me a taco de barbacoa. I gave myself a pep-talk and took a bite of a piece of meat. It wasn't really that different than steak.

I ate the taco. I lived. But it was a slippery slope of sorts. Once you've eaten a lamb taco, what's the big deal about a pastor taco, whatever that is? (But don't worry, I draw the line at tacos de lengua, or tongue tacos.)

The World of Books

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Knoxville Christmas 2008

The Knoxville writing community is releasing its second anthology of the fall. A Knoxville Christmas 2008 is the second Christmas anthology published by Knoxville author/editor Cyn Mobley.

My story "Ana and the Lamb" is the second story I've had published this fall. "Ana and the Lamb" is the story of a young Mexican woman living in East Tennessee who is determined to make her first Christmas with her American husband special. Ana remembers the steamed lamb her family made for Christmas in Mexico City, and she is sure that continuing that tradition will make her Christmas special. Or at least she believes that until she prepares it by herself for the first time.

The anthology is a collection of short stories, poetry, and essays inspired by Christmas time in Knoxville. Authors will be at Carpe Librum on Kingston Pike Sunday, December 6, at 2:00. Books are also available from


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Obama and Latino Vote

Is this why Latinos voted for Obama?