Tag Archives: Argentina

England 3,139 Argentina 1

“No hay mucha diferencia entre Patagonia y las islas. Somos Latinoamérica.”–James Peck

In a major PR coup for Argentina and President Cristina Fernández yesterday, James Peck, who was born in the Falkland Islands, received an Argentinian national identity card, which gives him official status as an Argentine. He’s the first Falkland Islander to do such, even though Argentina has been offering the Islanders that opportunity since…basically forever. And this all fascinates the heck out of me.

As you probably know, the Falkland Islands (called las Islas Malvinas en español) are an archipelago off the coast of Argentina that have been recognized as British property since the mid-19th century…except by Argentina. Argentina ill advisedly invaded the islands in 1982 in order to recoup their property (called the “Falklands War”) , but weren’t around very long before the British army gave them the boot—though not before roughly 1,000 British and Argentine soldiers died in the process. The vast majority of those who live in the Falklands (perhaps everyone) sees themselves as British subjects and has no interest in becoming Argentines. At least that was the conventional wisdom until James Peck came along.

Peck with la presidenta

Peck was not only born in the Falklands, but his father fought there for the British military during the Falklands War. However, Peck’s situation is a bit more complicated than all that. His ex-wife and children live in Buenos Aires, so he moved there a while ago in order to a part of the children’s upbringing. So he doesn’t actually live on the islands anymore anyway. Nonetheless, it makes a good story, especially during a time when President Fernández has been working hard to get the British government to resume talks over the disputed territory.

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Reborn Stone in South America

I’m more than a casual fan of the Rolling Stones, and I’ve been known to throw down the cash to see the geriatric rockers shake their decades-old moneymakers on stage. So my interest was doubly piqued this morning when I heard from a friend that the Stones’ first manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, has become a rock ‘n’ roll guru again…only in South America this time!

Oldham guided the Stones during the British group’s formative years in the 60s. He is credited with contributing to many of their big hits, he was behind their first major record deal, and he inspired their bad boy style, which was directly opposed to the image of their British Invasion rivals the Beatles. He was also the originator of many of the cheeky headlines and catchphrases surrounding the band, such as the classic “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?” (The answer to that question, by the way, is “no.”)

Following a typical rock ‘n’ roll storyline, Oldham got heavy into drugs during his Stones days and almost burned himself out completely. Though he reemerged in the music world a couple of times after his tenure with the band ended, he basically disappeared from public view. But he stayed busy. During that time, he made his way down to Colombia and occasionally helped mentor young musicians on that continent. And over the last few years, as this dilettante just learned, he’s been producing and recording again with great success. This time with Rock en Español acts. Perhaps his best known work is with the Argentine group Los Ratones Paranoicos (The Paranoid Mice), a band with a distinct Rolling Stones-like sound.

Besides the production and recording work in South America, he’s also been the host of Underground Garage on Sirius Satellite Radio since 2005, which can be heard here en Los Estados Unidos. (Where have I been?) In a recent interview he said that he wished his mother could see him now…because for the first time in his life, he actually works a steady job. I, for one, am certainly glad to see that the old boy is making the most of this stage in his life. Keep on rockin’, Andrew.

Red Hot Americas

I hope to goodness that you’re watching the World Cup this year because it’s mighty exciting. Especially for us folks in the Americas. With only two days left in the opening round of the tournament, teams from the American hemisphere collectively have 12 wins, 5 draws, and only 3 losses (2 of which came from the highly disappointing Honduran National Team—I expected so much more from los Catrachos!). Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and the United States have already advanced to the next round. Paraguay and Chile should join them on Thursday and Friday. Only Honduras is likely to be left out of the Round of 16 party. Wait…you say you didn’t know the US had qualified for the next round of the tournament? Really? Watch this…

While I hope the Yanks go far, I’m not naive enough to think they’ll win the whole thing (actually, maybe I am at the moment, but I’ll come back to Earth in a few days after the euphoria of that Donovan goal wears off). Brazil is always the favorite at these things, but I think folks should keep a close eye on Argentina. They’ve been clicking as a team already, and they’ve got one of the most exciting playmakers in the world on their team…Lionel Messi. And if it’s not the US, we want a Spanish-speaking country to win, ¿no?

Personally, I’ve been watching soccer ever since I took my first trip to Europe fifteen years ago. But if the sport doesn’t float your boat normally, I would still suggest checking out a few games or keeping on top of the latest action in the World Cup. Talking fútbol with folks is almost always a great way to break the ice with locals when you’re traveling anywhere outside of the US or Canada. Unless you support the wrong club team…then it might actually get your legs broken.

El secreto de sus ojos : a film by Juan José Campanella

I guess it took winning an Oscar back in March to finally bring this movie to St. Louis in June! But it was worth the wait for sure.

The film begins with former federal justice agent Benjamín Espósito paying a visit to his former colleague Irene Menéndez-Hastings. Espósito has spent most of his life tortured by the events surrounding a brutal rape-murder case he covered with Menéndez and Espósito’s assistant Pablo Sandoval in the mid-70s. Espósito wants to clear the ghosts of his past by writing a novel about the case, and he needs Menéndez to give him the case file for his research.

At that point, the film dives back into the 1970s and most of the narrative takes place in a flashback, as we’re shown the events that lead up to Espósito taking the case, as well as his frustrated attempts to find justice for the husband of the murdered victim. Layered on top of this is an intense attraction between Espósito and Menéndez that has more than one obstacle in its way, some serious drinking problems on the part of Espósito’s assistant Sandoval (my favorite character in the film!), and the political climate of Argentina during the 1970s version of Peronism.

While he hasn’t made a perfect film, Campanella, who has worked on American TV shows such as Law & Order, has certainly given us a crime drama that kicks the butt of almost every US-made movie that came out last year. And there is some great cinematography—such as the following use of fútbol in the film.

(Btw, if you didn’t already know, Argentina demolished South Korea today in the World Cup. “El Pipita” put on a scoring clinic.)

Me llamo Diego. Soy argentino.

Some of the more interesting language tools I’ve come across recently are text-to-speech (TTS) systems that allow users to type in words, phrases, or any old block of text and have a computer voice spit it out at them. This type of system has come a long way since I saw WarGames for the first time. As you can see with Roger Ebert’s “new voice,” mimicry is getting awfully close to the real thing.

One site that I’ve been spending way too much time monkeying around on is SitePal. It’s a pay service that allows users to design their own TTS avatars for websites or business purposes. Lucky for us poor Spanish students, they have a free demo that is more than enough fun to waste several hours on.

The demo allows users to enter text from several different languages, including Spanish, and have that text read by a computer avatar. You can choose from various male and female voices, including some interesting regional variations: Latin American, Mexican, Castilian, Chilean, and Argentinian. Currently I’m fixated on the last one, an Argentinian voice named Diego. I find it stupidly entertaining to hear him pronounce “ll,” as in “Me llamo Diego.” But what is more exciting is the possibilities such technologies hold for students wishing to work on their own pronunciation.

March Madness : Some Spanish Basketball Terms

Whether you call it baloncesto, básquetbol, or basketball, March is usually a pretty crazy month for the sport treated liked a religion in my home state of Indiana. In particular, the NCAA’s annual men’s championship tournament usually draws the attention of the majority of Americans during this time of year. And on the professional side, the NBA tries to spread passion for the game into the Latino and Hispanic market every March with Noche Latina, a celebration of Latin heritage held throughout the month at various NBA arenas.

Now the NBA’s efforts should come as no surprise. Almost every major sports league in the United States is tripping over themselves to draw in Hispanic and Latino fans. But considering the NBA’s almost fourfold increase in the number of Spanish, Hispanic, and Latino players in the league over the last couple of years—from 5 to almost 20—perhaps they are on to something. The Dallas Mavericks, for instance, have the first NBA player ever drafted from Mexico on their roster, Eduardo Nájera. And there are currently five Argentinians playing on various NBA teams. So one should expect that the total number of players from the Spanish-speaking world will continue to go up. In this month’s NCAA men’s tournament, for instance, the #4 seed in the Midwest Region, the University of Maryland Terrapins, are led by Greivis Vasquez, an important NBA prospect from Caracas, Venezuela. Hmm….I wonder who Hugo Chávez‘ favorite player in the NCAA is right now?

Vocabulario:

el tablero : backboard :: la canasta : basket

la red : net :: el aro : hoop

la cancha : court :: la línea de banda : sideline

la línea de tiro libre : free-throw line

la línea de tres puntos : three-point line

el balón : ball :: el jugador de baloncesto : basketball player

lanzar : to throw :: tirar : to shoot

saltar : to jump :: marcar : to cover

botar : to dribble :: bloquear : to block

Dancing Bears and Acrobats? Not in this Hugo Chávez Show

Loving Hugo Chávez’ bit from Auto-Tune the News #9 made me go back and watch an old episode of PBS’ Frontline I first saw last year. “The Hugo Chávez Show” documents Chávez’ rise from the military ranks and idealism of the Bolivarian movement to become President of Venezuela, all the while dancing like frenemies with the media. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in South America, international politics, or media history. Here’s a preview…

The program, which can be viewed in its entirety here in either English or Spanish, pays particular attention to Chávez’ weekly television program Aló Presidente. AP is an unusual show in many ways. First of all, it has no definite ending time. Chávez basically just talks and talks for however long he wants—usually around five hours. Mostly it is unscripted, so you never know when President Chávez is going to switch topics, a fact that has his cabinet on pins and needles throughout the program. Often Chávez will call on one of them out of nowhere—they’re all expected to attend each taping in its entirety—and grill them about the finer points of the Venezuelan state. Give the wrong answer and you might find yourself out of a cabinet post the next day. The location of the show also often changes. So you might as easily get Chávez preaching from a stage as singing in the streets of Caracas or taking a helicopter tour of a construction site.

(Chávez breaks into song.)

All this continues to be relevant for the Americas. Take the most recent flare up over the Falkland Islands, which the Argentines call las islas Malvinas. If you haven’t heard (which wouldn’t be surprising if, like me, you live in the sexy pork obsessed United States), a British oil company has started drilling operations near the islands recently. This lit up the Argentine government. While the islands are considered part of the United Kingdom by many governments and the vast majority of the islands’ inhabitants, Argentina has made claim to them ever since its independence from Spain. This led to a brief but nasty war in 1982 between Britain and Argentina that still simmers. Meanwhile, fellow South American Hugo Chávez is obvious about his feelings on the topic and uses his television program as a pulpit: Give them back, Queeny; the empire is over. Situations like this make me glad I don’t work in international relations.