30 June 2010

Mind Game

There are ten countries in South America excluding Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana, and whatever other miscellanea are up there in that corner. A nice round number. That is South America, not Central America. How many of the ten can you name from memory? Your own memory, that is.

It is certainly not necessary to reveal your score or respond in any other way right now. That is not the point. You must not look ahead in this posting until you have tried, however.

Now, then, what approach to this problem did you use? Did you try to visualize the continent and. . .

1. work from south to north?

2. work from north to south?

3. work from east to west?

4. work from west to east?

Or did you use some other methodical approach?

Or did you try to name the countries in a random fashion?

Or, preferring a greater challenge, did you attempt to recite the names of the 54 countries of Africa instead?

Or, because of your own background, did you attempt to name all seven mortal sins according to the modern Roman Catholic Catechism instead?

Did you abstain entirely, preferring instead to make lists of items the inclusion of which is a matter of opinion?

Did you abstain for any other articulable reason at all?

Did you abstain for no reason at all?

Well, just what the hell did you do then? Have a cookie?

And while having your cookie, did you look ahead, as I specifically asked you not to do, and ruin this entire goddamned mind game?

Fuck it! It will be a cold day in hell before I ever again go to the trouble of putting together a mind game for you. I mean that.

A Light Puzzler

I am going to keep these blog entries more appropriately short for awhile. At least I am going to try.

This is the big Centennial and Bicentennial Year in Mexico. Big. It is the two hundredth anniversary of independence from Spain and the one hundredth anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, every bit as important an event for Mexicans.

I am not going to attempt to explain the connections between Francis I. Madero, the father of the Mexican Revolution; the novel A Suitable Boy set in India; and the Bhagavad Gita, one of the sacred Hindu scriptures. But there are coincidental connections among the three.

Let us simply set out this verse from the Bhagavad Gita:

More glory in doing your own duty badly
than in doing another man's duty well!
Better to die doing what is right for you!
Shun doing what is right for another man.

Setting aside for a moment the obvious objection that this is pulled out of context—or perhaps because it is pulled out of context—it is a fascinating statement to consider.

Just exactly what is intended with the use of the word “glory?”

Just exactly what is intended with the use of the word “duty?”

Just exactly what is intended with the use of the word “right?”

And assuming one can work through those questions to satisfactory conclusions, is this statement really true?

If it is true, is it inconsistent with the structure of our Western civilization as it exists today?

If it is nonetheless practicable, regardless of the answer to the last question, is there a price that must be paid for the practice of it?

Having posed these questions, I wonder whether any of them are the pertinent ones. It seems to me that the correct questions are out there somewhere even if the correct answers are not.

28 June 2010

What the Hell Got Me Started?

I freely admit that there is always something that tips me over into a nearly obsessive interest in a subject. There is an incident that led up to my historical disquisition in the previous entry. On March 21 I encountered this plaque on a little plaza in Mexico City:

A Little About the Intervention in Mexico

News? None to speak of.

I enjoy a comfortable routine of reading things—mainly enormous history books—that I have not had the time nor the inclination for before. (I have stuck to my resolution to read no more novels after 2666 with the one exception of A Suitable Boy, a novel set in India that I had started before undertaking 2666.) Hit the gym in the afternoon. Then I bask in the late day sun and lick my wounds from the game with Argentina.

This is a life that is mellowness itself.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I cannot tell you how fascinating the story of the history of Mexico is. It is a story more fascinating than that in any novel I have ever read. I must make a few comments now and again here simply because it is on my mind. . . .and nothing else is going on.

22 June 2010

Fabien Report

In the meantime, I am trying to decipher the following email that I received today from Fabien, the French backpacker, who is back in France for a time after performances in Guatemala and Montreal. I get the sense that things are going well.

Mexico Advances.

How does a country celebrate backing into the next round of the World Cup with a loss?

Very quietly.

21 June 2010

Father's Day Dinner

The big Father's Day dinner in La Mexicana's courtyard last evening. Mother's Day in Mexico is celebrated on a different date than in the United States. Father's Day in Mexico is on the same date as in the United States. For some reason.

18 June 2010

Night Time is the Right Time

Some miscellaneous night snapshots from the weekend in my neighborhood plaza.

I cannot recommend the fruit juice loaded with chili powder, even with the wedge of pineapple on the side.

Bloggingheads: America's Soccer Problem

Bloggingheads: America's Soccer Problem - Video Library - The New York Times: "Dayo Olopade"

First, I had no idea that opinions concerning soccer break out along political lines before I watched this discussion.

Second, and more importantly, I wanted to acknowledge the greatest choice of an adjective that I have encountered lately. Dayo Olopade characterizes soccer as "tantric." That is a perfect word choice in my opinion.

17 June 2010

A Very Big Game Day

The venue for game day today here in San Miguel was Manolo's at the corner of pila seca and zacateros. Manolo's is an adjunct to an Argentine restaurant called Casa Payo.

16 June 2010

Family Affair

For little Missy VanDreissen of Tuckerton, New Jersy, who won the competition in connection with the 13 June entry:

One child grows up to be
Somebody that just loves to learn;
Another child grows up to be
Somebody you'd just love to burn.

Mom loves the both of them;
You see, it's in the blood.
Both kids are good to mom;
Blood's thicker than the mud.

15 June 2010

Tree House Followup

I have received an enormous number of emails from up north asking for followup on the demolition of Wing's tree house about which I reported here and also here. Specifically, many are wondering whether the remains of the tree house were ever cleaned up.

I am delighted to report that a dumpster was brought in and the remains of the tree house are in it, thanks to my good friend and comrade in the anarcho-syndicalist movement, Spike.

Credit here to Spike, God's instrument at this time and place.

Photos courtesy of Wings, who obviously does not give a damn what date his camera is registering. Time measurement device maintenance is not worth the effort.

* * * * * * * * * *

Also, a stunning hummingbird photo out of Stephen's new Nikon, the time/date function of which is probably set correctly to the second in conformity with the U.S. Naval Observatory's time/date function.

Day of the Crazies IV

I do not really do parades, but I am a whole lot less cynical about them than I used to be. Sunday we did not attend the parade proper. We did, however, walk along the street where the parade was forming up. I will close out my over-reporting on Día de los Locos with a few snapshots from that walk.

The corner of ancha san antonio and calle cardo under repair
on a chilly day last February.

The corner of ancha san antonio and calle cardo
on a hot day last Sunday afternoon.

My own favorite snapshot of the day.

The clean-up ladies brought up the rear.

La Mexicana's special, jim dandy, hand-painted Dia de los Locos tennis shoes.

Probably the best way to watch the parade, sitting outside on a box in the shade watching the television inside with a couple of cold liters standing by.

14 June 2010

Día de Los Locos III

Photo courtesy of Stephen and his new Nikon.

With the onset of the fiesta season, it is time for another entry featuring fireworks. I have written before about the somewhat cavalier attitude toward safety around here during the firing. That all adds zest the experience of these homemade fireworks.

San Antonio, like San Miguel, apparently loves aerial bombs.

Aerial bombs awaiting the evening in the plaza.

These are some photos of the superstructures for the fireworks on the ground Sunday evening.

Lastly, a rough video wherein I tried to capture the feeling of being in among 'em when the fireworks are touched off.

13 June 2010

Día de los Locos II

The lead photo in the preceding entry was of the San Antonio fountain on calle 20 de enero a block from the plaza.

This morning it was time to rally again at Plaza San Antonio for a singing mass outside before the start of the parade. The featured tune: "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan.

Most of the participants in the parade gather here at the plaza first.

The singing mass took a long time.

It's a family affair. (The title of a great song by what group?)

Finally, comes the time to migrate the couple of blocks over to the east past the tennis courts to the main drag, ancha san antonio, for the parade. . .