27 August 2006

Night of Contrasts

I went down to the feria Saturday night with some people from work. I accidentally ordered two sandwiches, somehow, at a grilled meat booth and had to shout to be heard by the guy. At first he shrugged and pointed at the cashier. I must have looked pitiful because he went and intervened for me. I had grilled pork loin on a fresh chunk of bagette bread. Good eats.

Our pre-25 years workmate wanted me to do a ride in the carnival. We ended up on two different ones. The first was a scrambler type thing only it went in circles and hopped up and down. It was vigorous, fast, and fun. Nearly lost the coat I was sitting on - worked it's way up and almost out the back of the car from all the bouncing. The operator had a microphone and shouted at us, in addition to playing loud music and blowing smoke on us during the ride. He'd yell things like, "You want some more of that? Raise your hands!" in Spanish of course. Then he'd drop the cars and you'd fly out of your seat and hit the security bar. I'd never been taunted by the operator of a ride. It was funny.

The next ride was a giant swing of sorts. The fist that held all the people twirled and simulataneously swung back & forth. Up to that weightless bounce but not all the way upside down. The music was so entirely loud you had to scream full volume to be heard. We had to wait one round before we got on and the supervisor joking with me made the sign of the cross over the group before us. The whole carnival was loud but this was insanely loud and my throat hurt afterwards from yelling and screaming on the ride. (Both for conversation and for fun.) My ears were ringing which concerned me - the second half of the evening was to be refined and I hoped to hear it.

Three of us had a civilized "coffee" at a sidewalk cafe and went to a chamber orchestra. It was in a room that reminded me that Italian courtyard at the Nelson. The one with stone arches and the sky/ceiling feels like outside and night, you know? This was a 3 story courtyard of ancient stone, carved beautifully. Two slim cyprus trees pushed up to the open sky in one corner. Moths danced in the stage spotlights. Stars shone overhead. When the strings started on some of Mozart's most familiar stuff, it was truly magical. The venue really made it shine.

The midnight crowd for the orquestra was mostly over 60, though there was a sprinkling of young people in the mix too. I looked around several times and never saw anyone nodding off. It was such a quiet acoustical environment that you heard every cough. One lady opened her purse to put her fan away and it sounded like someone was doing the rasberries. When it got quiet between songs, you could hear the band thumping away some rock music in the main plaza nearby.

The second half had a dancer who did some flamenco style dancing with castanettas. It was interesting the way she could keep up with the classical music with the little wooden clakers. It wasn't quite tradiitonal flamenco, but it was interesting expression of the dance style with classical music.

We were headed home about 1:45 am. The streets were still hopping with people and the band in Plaza Cervantes still sang strong. It felt like a truly Spanish night. An epiphony -- of knowing that the people do this late-night thing, but here it was for real to see with my own eyes. A fun sensation to experience it and not simply know of it. Probably won't do that every weekend though!

25 August 2006

Feria de Alcala

Since last weekend the feria of Alcala has been going on each day and every night. There's actually a huge carnival with lots of rides run by Romanians and food booths, lots of churros and waffles, bad soggie french fries and grilled meats. There are white tents of differnt clubs, some which serve food or have entertainment. But it is only a handful compared to the Seville Feria. Some of the tents are run by things like: The Communist Party of Spain, or the Socialist Party with Zapatero (the current prime minister). Some are just groups, like Elks Lodge clubs. Groups of people get together and drink and hang out and are a main feature of the feria.

People aren't dressed up like in Sevilla either. Some little girls I've seen in the pokadotted flamenco dresses, but no grown ups. Plaza Cervantes, our main square, is lit up with lights over a band stand and the streets surrounding have a light design hanging across the road. Think the Christmas decor on street lights only bigger and across little skinny roads. The Plaza Cervantes has been full of tables and chairs for summer, but now they all have people in them. A little brass band plays in the plaza after marching through the streets with a different "elks lodge" type group behind them singing each night. Then the band plays in the Plaza Cervantes. Then at 11 pm at the other end of the Plaza Cervantes another band will play and people will dance (more of the older set, not the rock and roll set) Supposedly later they play younger music. Other features are occuring in different parts of town in other plazas.

At midnight there is a main attraction each night all week. Sometimes several. One night was a flamenco ballet, one was a zarzuela - a sort of classical story/sing/dance almost opera type thing but Spanish. Those cost money. So far I haven't got anyone to stay out late to check it all out. But we've seen bits of the bands hangin out in Plaza Cervantes or passing through on the way for a walk or back to the car.

The later you're there the more crowded it gets. We could barely get out the entrance of the carnival at 11pm Saturday, so many people streaming in. We tried to eat lunch there Sunday - nothing was open at 3 pm. Nothing, like a ghost town. Definitely a night time event. Friends from church said they went to the fair to eat after a concert last weekend and it was still in full swing at 2 am when they left. It's a different world.

We took Dulce down Tuesday night. We figured it would be good socialization. She couldn't possibly growl at every stranger. She did good except when we sat still then she felt she could growl at certain people. Not sure how she picks who she's going to growl at.

This Saturday I'm going to go to the symphony concert at midnight (5E) with a couple other people. Everyone from the office is going to bring tapas and chairs and go watch the fireworks from the bosses's neighborhood Sunday night for the finale of the feria. The fireworks are, yes, you guessed it, at midnight.

14 August 2006

What comes around, goes around

I'll tell you why I used this title. I was at the mall Friday night and I was seeing some really familiar things, sort of repurposed or different colors, but I've seen these before. I saw a lot of things from the 80s, maybe the early 90s too, I wasn't in a shopping phase then.

Argile, yes quite a bit of it. This makes me think early 80s preppy. Leggings with long shirts and short skirts, this makes me think later 80s. Shirts that have the torn up shoulder look, a la the movie Flashdance. Sweaters and shirts that are long (to the hips or past) with huge v-necks. Gathered sleeves and pull strings to scrunch up shirts, I remember those kind of sleeves were the option on one of the bridesmaids dresses I was looking at, and I discarded that one because I thought the sleeves were too trendy.

One store, Mango, had touches of 80s in their dresses and sweaters but they keep sort of a roughed up victorian touch to their clothes so not the classic 80s look. Another store, Zara, had dresses, coats and skirts straight out of the 50s or 60s. I'm not as clear on time periods here but I know these are the styles pre-me existing that I see in old movies. Some of these styles I really like. The coats with 3/4 sleeves and huge collars not so much but they are certainly striking when you see them. Not sure these flared June Cleaver dresses but with plunging necklines are really me though.

I was taking someone else to the mall that I'd been promising to go with. I didn't expect all the strange fashion stuff to strike me. All I wanted was a pair of denim crop pants. I tried on LOTS. The jeans here all seem to be low riders which are not my favorite. I noticed the new fall clothes were moving away from the low rider, ripped, dirty, faded unevenly jeans to a uniform dark denim. I may not end up with denim crop pants for fall.

What's in style at home?

04 August 2006

The Stained Glass Ceiling

I read an interesting book a few weeks ago that a coworker loaned to me. What Paul Really Said about Women, an Apostle's liberating views on equality in marriage, leadership, and love, by John Temple Bristow. This was an amazing book. While not based on the book, the link to the following article sums it up very well: The Stained Glass Ceiling.

What amazed me was that basically it took all the passages of the Bible that have made me feel awkward or doubtful of my role as a female in the Christian world order, so to speak, and explained them in a way that I always wanted to be true. I always wanted to think that God was saying, you are a whole and worthy human being, I want you to participate in kingdom completely, no holds barred. I wanted that to be true, but felt guilty from my background and with my cultural reading of these "difficult" "cultural" passages that this was not the Truth.

Perhaps I have just found a liberal theologian who is saying things I want to hear, at least I can imagine someone making that criticism. However, the book is very specific and backs up the points thoroughly. Plus the coworker that loaned this to me is very conservative and intellectual both, so I feel fairly confident it's not a kook idea being thrown out there.

I'd encourage anyone to read the book. It is somewhat academic, but a short book so not a rough read. But it explains first how the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman perspective on women colored the interpretation of the Greek writings until it became accepted as the norm. Mind boggling to me that we could lose something as culturally significant as letting women learn and participate in the Gospel as full partners. Not as big an issue in our denomination, but some of those applications to Paul's awkward scriptures I've heard in my lifetime, in our churches. Fascinating.