Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Learning Arabic, The Motorcycle Diaries and Gael Garcia Bernal, odds and ends links

Listening to Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard by Paul Simon.

First off, exciting news for me: I've decided to teach myself Arabic. I probably won't be able to learn to speak it without a teacher but I should be able to figure out reading and writing the language on my own. Here's a site I'll probably be using, and here's another. I also found a neat page called "How to Learn a Language" on Wikibooks (I keep on discovering new facets of the Wiki empire!). Today is day one of the trek, so I'm just going to print out some pages from the Arabic CNN site and copy the script as best I can, to try to get a feel for the writing; that'll probably be the most foreign and difficult part of the language.

I don't know what it is about languages that fascinates me so...I guess it's just the idea that, unless I learn other languages, there's a huge part of the world that I'll never be able to communicate or connect with. I've already taken Latin, a bunch of years of Spanish, and I'm just beginning French. And, obviously, Arabic. I'm veddy excited.

Speaking of foreign languages: if I had to choose between English, Latin, Spanish, or French, I would certainly choose Spanish. Not because it's easier or because I know a million obscure vocab words; rather, I would choose it because it sounds so sensual. Let's face it: French sounds prissy and pretentious. I'm mostly learning it so that I can live in Paris at some point in my life and not be a tourist fool when I'm there. But Spanish, mmm.

This has always been my opinion regarding Spanish, but it was reinforced last night when I went (finally!) to see The Motorcycle Diaries at the theater. Of course, it was a little independent cinema with screens the size of a classroom blackboard, but it was sweet and really it was the perfect size for a movie like The MD. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal (I pause to catch my ragged breath).

Alright, before I launch into a rave about Bernal, I'll first mention the movie. Which was beautiful. It is, of course, about Ernesto "Che" Guevara's trip across South America with his friend Alberto--the movie's events are based on Che's real diary (Notas de Viaje, I think it was called) of the time, a book that is basically the South American's On the Road. 8,000 miles. The entire film was shot on location, and the scenes were shot after devastatingly beautiful shot of places like Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and the Atacama Desert. At the time of this "journey of self-discovery," Che was a medical student in his early 20's, very shy and thoughtful. One major stop on his trek was at a leper colony where he and Alberto volunteered for about three months. The movie was not about Che, the Cuban revolutionary. It was about that transitional period, that little sliver of his life between what he was and what he became. He saw the world for the first time, and he became alive with it.

The movie, thank God, was understated and lovely. It was exactly as it should have been. As was Bernal. Here are a few more pictures of him (swoon). Now just imagine two hours and eight minutes of Bernal, dirty, wearing a tank top or t-shirt, smiling shyly or taking in his surroundings with a very intense set of his jaw and look of his eyes. Beautifully acted by a beautiful man. Speaking Spanish the whole time. Yes, it was all devastatingly sexy. I can barely handle it. Let me take a break from this post to search for Gael Garcia Bernal fansites...ooh, there are many.

And incidentally, I was happy to find that I understood almost all that was being said in Spanish in the movie without having to read the subtitles (!). And the words I didn't know were mostly curse words. Which I know very well now, thank you very much. I'm storing them up in case I need to cuss someone out when I go to Madrid and Catalonia. I'm much too, er, polite to ever cuss someone out in English. In fact, I almost never swear except for the occasionally well-placed "dammit." But I think that in another language...okay, it's still highly unlikely, but there is a shred of a possibility. Maybe. If I were being mugged or molested. Ah hell, I'll never use my newly acquired hoard of Spanish curses. Dammit.

Listening to Nico's The Fairest of the Seasons.

And now for a bunch of quick links you might like. First of all, a funny lawsuit that pitches comic bookers vs. mmrpg-ers and free-speech advocates. Ooh, sounds heated. Read about it here.

Kottke's a nice semi-geeky blog I like to browse on occasionally. Vitamin Q is also funny (but DO NOT read excessively). Even geekier is The Beat blog (read all about the Uncanny Valley and the Polar Express, heh-heh).

And finally, here's a vocabulary test that looks deceptively easy. I got 162 out of 200 right; my dad got 176 out of 200. Good luck and goodbye!


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