Am I watching a movie or a commercial?

When I watch a movie I do not expect to be bombarded by product placement. It is bad enough that watching the super bowl has turned into a lets watch the super bowl commercial affair. The game could completely be mediocre but we watch just to see what Budweiser uses for frogs this year.

Man has Nick Cage done a 180 on my book. He used to be an actor that I though was excellent, Raising Arizona, Face Off, even Gone in 60 seconds. Now he just seems to want to be the center of the movie that is narrated by him, with only the product that he is pedaling to compete for camera time. It was an all out assault on my wallet to watch weatherman. It seemed like the guy selling the product placement during the movie had a fast food addiction. I think every single place for fast food was represented either as being eaten or thrown at Cage.

The movie also seems to be getting paid to drop the F bomb. Almost every single character in the movie uses it like it was part of their contract.

That was not the sad part about the movie. One of the characters was reduced to being a smoking kid that is called camel toe… and while the kid seems oblivious to what the insult means, the movie does a very graphic job at explaining to us what camel toe is. Keep your kids away for sure. While the movie does do a couple of PSA with don’t let your kid smoke, and don’t let the guidance counselor fondle your teenager, I recommend you stay away from this movie. It will for sure make you want to throw some junk food at the screen.

How far is heaven?

I have been saving this topic for quite some time. It is one of those topics that runs around my head, sometime just at a slow pace, sometimes running as if stole something. It has been just a rant about heaven but it was brought to the forefront of my mind this weekend. I was asked do I know for sure if I will go to heaven? I did not hesitate to say sure. I am not sure why Christians have such a complicated way to look at the concept of eternal happiness. It seems to want to become the most complicated question that transcends even existentialism. The why am I here? becomes, I should want to be somewhere else, I should long for eternal happiness. Then you mix in the whole “Salvation” concept and the “rules” that one must not break so that St Peter meets us at the Pearly Gates and lets us into heaven. Being Catholic complicates matters just a little further with the concept of Purgatory.

It would take me years to fully explore those subjects. A process that at times seemed to me the only appealing thing of becoming a priest and joining the seminary. I would have joined if I could accomplish quest for knowledge and understanding of all those subjects that I stated before. The whole rest of rules that becoming a priest involve kind of shut down that idea, but Theology has always been an interesting subject and one I feel I have not studied enough. I have visited plenty of Churches and even worshiped with the for periods of times, but it would almost be like saying that I am an expert on Mexican cuisine just because I eat quite often at taco bell.

Personally I believe in a very simple way. I know I am a good person, I know I try to do the right thing in most situations and truly try not to harm anyone. Am I perfect? Of course not. Am I still making mistakes that I should have put behind me years ago? Yea, that is what makes me human. However I do follow a path that involves a lot of self-reflection and self-actualization. Before I completely get off the subject I want to state something that bothers me about the concept of heaven.

Why don’t we have heaven here on earth?

It really bothers me that religions (at least most of the ones I have studied) believe in another plane, an afterlife, another universe where everything is happy and ok. Why don’t we believe in making our life here and now heaven? Why do we have to wait to go to heaven to be truly happy? Why can we truly be Christians and be happy about our time here on earth. I have always thought that Jesus was a very cool guy; to me he is the ultimate friend. I think the Christian religion missed God’s point of sending Jesus to earth. I think God send Jesus not just to save us all, but to show us that life here can be heaven on earth. If we follow his message and love one another and everything that the thought entails I think heaven can be here on earth. Let me know what you think.

You don’t speak Mexican?

If Mexican were a language, it would still be hard for me to speak it. The biggest reason would be that I was in Colombia and not in Mexico. Even though I was born in Colombia, I don’t speak Colombian. I know it seems strange doesn’t it. Now if people put a little thought into it, they would realize that words like Hispanic, Spanish, and Latin have more to do with language than actual ethnicity. Not too long ago I wrote about the subject and how I am proud of in a way being Mexican by being Latin.

There is something to be said about the American school system. I remember in Colombia learning about every country in the world, knowing what language they spoke, their currency, population, flag and type of government. I knew that in the United States they spoke English. While it could be debatable if Americans really speak the Queen’s English or an American version of it, the language is still called English and I have never asked anyone if they speak American. That would make a lot more sense since even the aliens on the movies speak English. The bad guys for some reason have an English or French accent but that is a whole other post.

Yesterday enjoying lunch with some coworkers the subject of ethnical identity came up; it was stated that to most non-Spanish people, when they see someone that looks Spanish they are automatically deemed Mexicans. Now this has been true for both Michigan and Illinois. I am not sure if in New York people think all Spanish people are Puerto Rican or in Miami everyone thinks they are Cuban, but in the Midwest being Spanish automatically makes you Mexican.

I had experienced this same conversation before with various groups of people. Most people then get very defensive when I tell them that I am not Mexican, and ask why do I care if I am called Mexican. I have nothing against Mexicans, my sister is married to a Mexican, I have Mexican friends, love Mexican food and furthermore I think that the Aztecs and Mayans were civilizations to be admired. However I am also very proud of my own heritage. I am very proud of being Colombian even though my country does not have the most positive image in the world’s eyes.

The other question that is often asked is: “What is your real name?” A lot of people, including some Spanish people think that I changed my name once I moved to the United States. I’ve had people try to call me Juan, which is the translation of John to Spanish… but not my name, I was born John, it is the name my parents picked. So talk to them about naming me with an English name. Do me a favor and don’t accuse me of “Americanizing” my name.

While language unites Spanish people, or Hispanics, or Latinos, or whatever it is politically correct to call us these days, we are not a united front. There are very deep division lines betweens people from different Spanish countries and a lot of people outside of our ethnicity do not realize that. People from different countries seem to just dislike you for being from a country different that theirs; I have experienced this dislike first hand. I do seem to get along with pretty much anyone, but because of food similarity, or music taste I have always seemed to get along with Cubans and Puerto Ricans. But it does not stop there, I am also a big fan of Spanish rock and thanks to it I was got to meet couple of guys from Guatemala during high school. I believe the only person that I know from El Salvador is JorgeQ. I hope that I never experience that country segregation and that someone will not read me just because I am from Colombia. Overall though there is a division, I am not sure if it is Central Americans vs. South Americans or what, but what I do know is that no one likes Argentineans, “they are kind of stuck up.” (Joking)

I am not trying to offend anyone here; I like everyone for who they are as people and like to find out where people are from just because I love to learn about cultures, not because I am not going to like you because of where you are from; Even if you are from Argentina. I am trying to point out how ridiculous it is to have all the prejudice that we see between Spanish people, or for that matter between humans of all races. It is cool to be proud of where you are from, of who you are, but make it a springboard for unity, find common ground. Do not make the color of your skin an excuse to find differences and things to divide you from your fellow humans. I am extremely proud of my flag and I wear it on my arm (literarily), but I want it to be taken as a sign of pride and not arrogance. While Colombians are very proud people, at times a little too loud and at times just annoying, I can tell you that as a group of people we have “ganas” (drive) and hearths as big as our houses.
On the spirit of humor one of my coworkers found a little Homies figurine depicting a Mexican Mariachi. I thought it was hilarious, now it is going to be eaten by my dragon.

Latin Pride

You all know how proud I am to have been born in Colombia. One label that I was not aware of until I moved to the US is that I was also Latin. While I was aware of the word and that Spanish was one of the Romance Languages, languages that were derived from Latin, what I did not know was that I was going to have to wear this label as long as I lived in the U.S.

While for a lot of people it really can be a painful thing to be segregated by the color of their skin, I try to concentrate in the positive side of being Latin and look at all the things positive things that my culture brings into my life. I grew up in Colombia not knowing that Latin countries influence each other quite a bit. Musically for example, “Cumbia” a rhythm very popular in Mexico today actually originates from Colombia. “Rancheras,” a very popular music for some Colombians comes from Mexico. Mariachis are in some sense the international ambassadors from that country to the world. You can actually find Mariachis playing “Rancheras” in Colombia. If I remember correctly there is a bar called Mexicali where you can go listen to “Rancheras” live. A lot of times when someone thinks of Mexico the first image that comes to his or her mind is a big Mariachi sombrero.

I am not one for stereotyping, and in a way saying that Mariachis are the ambassadors of Mexico could be misconstrued as a negative representation of all that Mexico is. I know that there is a lot more to Mexico than just Mariachis. When I make the statement about Mariachis, I mean to make it in the most positive way, and I am proud that as a Latino I can consider them part of my culture. I am also very happy to have had the opportunity to sample a lot of homemade Mexican food. A misconception of a lot of people is that all Latin food is hot spicy. Actually Mexican food is one of the only types of foods where hot spices are a main staple in the cuisine. For example in Colombian food, there is only one sauce that accompanies Colombian “Empanadas” called “Aji” that is actually supposed to be hot spicy. The rest of Colombian dishes are not hot at all.

One of my favorite Mexican foods is “Mole”. A chocolate based sauce with a kick. There are many variations of “Mole” sauce and I like “Mole Rojo” over chicken the best. I have had “Mole” in the brain for like the last week. This Sunday I went to our favorite Mexican restaurant, “Los Cuatro Amigos” and I was very excited when I was the “Mole” on the so I ordered it, keeping in mind that it might not be as good as some of the homemade “Mole” I’ve had in the past but I was wrong. The “Mole” was excellent. One of the other good qualities at this restaurant is that they use very good cuts of the meat, so the whole dish was excellent pieces of chicken. If you ever venture into a Mexican restaurant that has “Mole” I dare you to try it.

I finished watching the Kill Bill saga by watching part 2. The special features which had a concert by Chingon a band created by Director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Desperado and Once Upon in Mexico.) Rodriguez actually scored Kill Bill 2 for free. Chingon (Which means badass) played “Malaguena Salerosa” a Mariachi styled song that wounded excellent and made my heart beat a little faster. It has to be the Latin blood that runs through my veins.

Saturday I got another huge surprise that I was not expecting at all. I attended my Company’s holiday party. I know a little late, but believe me it is a lot better than trying to fit it in during the holidays. The festivities were hosted at the Saginaw Club. An excellent location but it had one flaw, tons of stairs. Anyway, they had four different styles of food being served buffet style, but there were actual cooks keeping all of the dishes fresh. They had Japanese, Caribbean, Italian and Mexican. Along with the great food and free drinks, for entertainment they also had a Mariachi band. While it was not a huge one, I counted 6 members. I requested El Rey, which to me is probably the classic “Ranchera”. They performed it flawlessly and I felt very connected to my Latin roots during that moment. What can I say; I had a very Mexican weekend and enjoyed every second of it.

Car Skating?

That is what it felt like this morning trying to drive in the freezing rain. I have only experienced this kind of driving a couple of times and it is quite scary. Midway to work and almost 1 hour of driving a route that takes most days 20 minutes we headed back home and I decided to telecomute. Be safe out there.