What do you do when Acapulco shuts down because of the Influenza Porcelina outbreak? You google yourself of course to see what comes up! 

Last time I happened upon an old article from a BGSU newsletter about my Fulbright grant, and this time I found out that I'm a celebrity.

That's right, I have my own Imdb.com profile page. This is the website that gives all types of information about movies, their release dates, the cast, directors, synopses, etc. It also gives you the work history of anyone that you look up. Just so happens that I had a minor
production assistant role in the small indie picture, "Eating Out" filmed in Tucson and released in 2004. (No it's not a porno. And why it associates me with BBS: The Documentary, I have no idea.)

Not only did I help out with moving stuff around on set, the director practically begged me to use a piece of my artwork in his film. I finally caved in and gave him one of my best drawings. 6 1/2 minutes in you'll see a colored-pencil sketch of a face, eyes nose and lips, on the wall above the bed to the left that I actually did senior year of high school. (Warning: this clip contains nudity and is not suitable for children)

I also make a grand guest appearance in the film playing partygoer #10. Fast forward to around 1:50 into the video clip, and don't blink.

Sorry Telemundo, Univisión, Telefutura...

As I walked to the Comercial Mexicana to buy some cleaning supplies for the aseo lady, my mind began to wander from counting all the passersby wearing cubrebocas in the street to a posting I had made a month or so ago about the use of Spanish in mainstream media in the U.S. I realized that what I had done ultimately was exclude Telemundo, Univisión and other Spanish media outlets from the "mainstream," which silences the voz and poder of the Spanish-speaking community in the U.S. 

I do, however, still believe that networks which broadcast predominantly in the English language need to offer a better representation linguistically of U.S. society especially by including characters for whom code-switching is an integral part of their every-day life.

Influenza Porcina

Swine Flu: Mexico Urges People To Stay Home For 5 Days

Este fin de semana, como iba a ser puente "normal," es mi última oportunidad de volver a Guadalajara antes de que me regrese a los EEUU. ¡Gracias influenza porcina!

¿Qué tan preparado está el estado de Guerrero para combatir contra el virus? Novedades Acapulco explica que está grave la situación:

El secretario de Salud en Guerrero, Luis Barrera Ríos, confirmó la primera muerte de una persona a causa del virus de la influenza, aunque precisó que aún no se puede definir si fue del tipo porcino.

El funcionario estatal calificó la situación de la epidemia en territorio guerrerense como "un problema muy grave", al tiempo que admitió que no se cuenta ni con laboratorios ni con personal capacitado para identificar la existencia del virus H1N1, de la porcina.

Reiteró que en Guerrero se han detectado 96 posibles casos de ese mal, a los que se les aplicó la prueba de identificación, y sólo 14 dieron positivos al tipo A, lo cual le informó Novedades desde ayer.
Meanwhile the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alert level to Phase 5. What does that mean exactly? Their webpage has a diagram detailing exactly what each level entails:
Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.

Acapulco Jukebox



Influenza Porcina

Todo el país sin clases por la influenza


Why am I obsessed with trying to come up with "punny" titles for my blog? Okay, so maybe they're not so clever.

Sitting here attempting to finish up a translation for the Americas Program, I experienced my first earthquake. Actually it was my second, but the first time I was in a taxi with friends and we only found out when someone text messaged me: "sentiste el temblor?". But this time I could feel the house start to shake as I gazed out the enormous windows of my living room leading to the street. I heard the sound of a struggling car motor, which initially made me think it was just an enormous garbage truck about to pass by. The neighbors stepped out from their house and curiously looked around as if to ensure themselves everything was still in place. Probably not a doozy on the richter scale, but pretty scary.

It lasted for about five seconds, and now I'm beginning to simultaneously plan my exit strategy/recreate a scene from an action movie: throw computer to ground; run to door; briefly check for falling debris on the balcony; jump down onto the roof of a parked car tucking and rolling off the hood; shimmy around to the driver's door; somersault away from the vehicle drawing my Walther PPK and taking out the snipers in the window on the 3rd floor as the entire building blows up...

Sigh, back to the translation.

Update: 6.0 on the Richter Scale.

Influenza Porcina


Influenza Porcina

Todavía no se ha presentado ningún caso de influenza porcina en el estado de Guerrero, según las autoridades.  Sin embargo, debido a que el puerto es un destino turístico cada fin de semana para mucha gente proveniente de la Ciudad de México, el virus podría estrenarse muy próxmamente en Acapulco. 


Linguistic Variety Show

If you have a passion for linguistics and language change, then you'd
be interested in hearing about the characteristics of the variety or varieties of Spanish
I've encountered while living down here in Acapulco.  A number of things
have caught my attention but I'll start with one in particular.

When my roommate was still living with me a few months ago and we were chatting in my room, I jokingly told him how disappointed I was that he had failed some exams in school.

"Me decepcionas la verdad..." le dije con gesto reprobatorio que después se hizo risa.

A couple of days later he brought up the comment I had made and said something along the lines of:

"Me dijiste que te dececsiono"

All I could think about was how could I possibly have dissected him. That was really the only word association that came to my mind.  "Perhaps it's slang?" me quedé pensando.

Turns out some people, including other friends of mine, velarize the labial oclusives apparently in syllable-final position.

In other words, the soft drink pepsi may become peksi, and, as demonstrated by my roommate, decepcionar possibly becomes deceksionar.   

Because I'm obsessed with non-standard varieties of Spanish you can imagine my delight everytime I hear this feature.


Acapulco Jukebox

I've been wanting to go see the Orquesta Filarmónica de Acapulco for awhile now, that plays in the centro de convenciones as well as travelling to other regions of the nation.  Unfortunately I no longer have the flyer so I do not remember which songs they played nor the name of the opera singer who took to the stage throughout the performance.  They did, however, perform a number of movie themes including El Señor de los Anillos and the Sound of Music.  I recorded the following video with my digicam:



While engaging in one of the most narcissistic activities in which one can partake, googling oneself, I ran across this article that I should have posted before taking off for Acapulco.  It's an article about my grant from August 11th, 2008, appearing in the BGSU Monitor.  I remember being embarrassed while posing for photos for the photographer in the Student Union right before I headed to work at the Bowling Green Language Institute.  Seems like forever ago...

BGSU graduate heads to Mexico as Fulbright Scholar

A study-abroad stay in Spain as an undergraduate was enough to convince Brandon Brewer to change his major. Brewer, who graduated from BGSU Aug. 9 with a master’s degree in Spanish, will now be pursuing his love of the language and culture full time as a Fulbright Student Scholar in Acapulco.

He will teach English at the Autonomous University of Guerrero, one of Mexico’s state universities. “I’ll apply what I’ve learned teaching Spanish at BGSU as a graduate assistant, and some of what I’ve learned volunteering as an English teacher,” he said. “My goal is to immerse students in the language and also give them the cultural aspect.”

But he is most looking forward to Fulbright’s required community-oriented project outside the university, in which he will work with students in a middle or high school. Depending upon the availability of technology, he would like to arrange a “pen pal” correspondence with a group of students in the United States. “The U.S. is having its presidential election, and Mexico just went through theirs two years ago. I’d like to get them into blogging and email to compare the two countries,” he said.

Originally a media arts major, Brewer grew up in the Tucson, Ariz., suburb of Oro Valley. As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, he surprised his family by choosing to go to Alcalá, Spain, for a study-abroad program. “It was a big step,” he recalled. “I had never been outside the U.S., and I hadn’t known anyone who’d traveled abroad at all.”

He enjoyed the experience so much, he said, that he later went abroad several more times, again to Alcalá as a BGSU graduate student as well as to Brazil and Mexico. “I like languages a lot and I want to learn more,” he said, adding that he is also looking forward to the warm climate and living in a Spanish-speaking culture once again.


Sol tras Sol

I'm not even sure if that pun made sense but this is my latest creation-in-process at Ernesto's home studio.  Solo le falta detallar un poco más la botella-la etiqueta, el logo de Sol, las orillas- y arreglar el cielo en el fondo.  No sé si vaya a ser mejor que mi último cuadro pero creo que es por lo menos digno de ser colgado en la pared, ¿verdad que sí?

Y para q puedan juzgar mejor mis habilidades, que, téngase en cuenta, apenas voy desarrollando, les dejo la foto original que tomé en la playa La llorona de Michoacan...I think.

305 million Americans. One bucket.

Due to the rampant water shortages of Acapulco, especially during high tourist season when the hotel zones get priority, it is not uncommon to turn on the shower only to see a few droplets circle around the edges of the faucet until they huddle up and finally plummet to the ground.  There are three options at this point: go downstairs to kindly ask the landlord to pump water up to the tanks resting on the roof; readjust my hygiene standards for the day; or, grab a bucket and head for the emergency water bin to the side of the back door.

Some may see the bucket method, or bañándose a mentadas de madre as one student put it, as too unbecoming. However, I prefer to view it as a potential Green Revolution that could take the U.S. by storm. Imagine for a moment, if you will,  that instead of showering for 5 minutes (or however long you take), we instead filled up a medium-sized bucket to cleanse our bodies.  Having routinely gone through the experience, believe me, it requires very little water to hit the "hotspots." And although it was a bit awkward at first learning to reach all the nether regions, that's the point! It's very easy to stand in the shower for 20 minutes savoring the relaxing jet stream of hot water on your body, but a little more difficult to lose track of time when you have to squat to splash the soap off.


That's weird...

So the story goes that my great friend Judson came to visit about a month or so ago and happened to meet a certain Mexicano chaparrito that works on the costera at El Zorrito or another restaurant beside Galerías Diana, the most super fashion shopping mall of Acapulco only recently eclipsed by the more uppity La Isla.  To stay in contact with said character during his stay, I generously allowed Judson to utilize my celular.  No big deal, right?  As soon as Judson left this guy would either delete or forget the number, right?


Dozens of calls and litters of text messages later this tarado is still trying to contact me.  I'm sure he's a nice boy-- he and I exchanged maybe four sentences with one another in total-- but when he tells me things like "I love you" (in English!) it becomes rather creepy, even if he isn't aware of the meaning lost in translation.

Today I received another gem:

T vi pasast x my work xke t cortas mucho el pelo tkm


I saw you, you walked by my work, why did you cut your hair off (I just shaved my head)

tkm is shorthand for te quiero mucho 

Tonight after dinner at Los Tarascos my friend Rubi had the brilliant idea of calling the pobrecito to pretend as if she had found my cell on the street and had been using it ever since as her own.  She then told him to quit calling and sending weird texts.  He simply hung up.

Going Loca in Acapulco

I am thoroughly enjoying my stint as a guest columnist over at Queerty.com.  My second column is now up in which I discuss how Spanish has allowed me to express myself more openly in ways I wouldn't necessarily dare back home.  Check it out and increase the number of views!

The third topic will be Spring Break set to run in two weeks.


¿Dan Restrepo Makes Historia?

Recently I wrote about lil' Ethan López and my dream for Spanish breaking into mainstream media in a big way.  While I, along with Robert Gibbs, am admittedly ignorant as to if this was in fact the first time a foreign language has been spoken from the podium during a White House press briefing, I sure hope we see a lot more of it in the future.

Restrepo, formerly of the Center for American Progress, used two languages on Monday -- fielding questions from the American and foreign press. On several occasions he offered the same answer twice, catering to, for instance, the Latin American television crews that couldn't broadcast important policy announcements in English.

Acapulco Jukebox

When the galería that I began my painting lessons in was still open (it's now Dubai, a súper fresa karaoke or cantabar), we would listen to a variety of songs from Pita's iPod during class. A retired club owner whose brother and sons have taken over family operations of Clásico, Nenas and the now defunct Salon Q, among other business ventures, she always filled the studio with the stylings of Karen Souza featuring renditions of 90's classics like "Creep" by Radiohead and Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun."  

I miss the ambience of the gallery with its windows to the costera and the random tourists parading by, just around the corner from Starbucks and across the street from unlimited órdenes of tacos al pastor.  I always felt like a free-spirited hippy when I passed through the doors and took a seat at one of the many easels scattered about.

Currently, the classes of pintura have been relocated to the former telenovela star who is my maestro's house, which also allows me to paint very a gusto as the packs of mosquitos attack my sandaled feet.  It's an open-aired house with an long, palm-lined walkway to the door frequently traversed by Ernest's adopted street dog.

Since the move in January I've had a total of 6 classes and am well on my way to finishing my next painting, which is acrílico this time instead of óleo.  Needless to say the process requires a great amount of patience and minute attention to detail.  That is to say if you're a perfectionist.  You could very well chuck a bucket of paint at the wall and call it art, and a day.  I've found persistence and focus is mostly what I need to produce quality paintings.  And of course the proper soundtrack:

Jagged Little Pill is indeed the perfect companion to the strokes of a brush but Ernesto also mixes it up with Eros Ramazzotti and friends:

The only thing better than the pairing of Eros Ramazzotti with Andrea Bocelli, is the matching of the former with Tina Turner.



That's weird...

A while ago the button on my favorite pair of jeans fell off and I went to the lavandería to see if they could fix it.  One of the women there told me she would go to the centro to get me a new one and slap it back on free of charge, since of course I'm a regular customer.  I was very grateful but a little perplexed by her choice...

Tengo mucha suerte de tener una lavandería supercerca de mi casa, two doors down. Les llevo mi ropa cada dos semanas como mínimo porque no sería capaz de limpiar mi ropa a mano con esa madre de piedra que usan mis vecinas. "Qué huevon eres," me dicen. Las mujeres que me lavan la ropa son muy buena onda y cada vez que paso por su tienda nos saludamos. Ayer me encontré con una, la mamá, en el oxxo y platicamos un poquitico. Ella compraba algunas meriendas antes de ir a agarrar un autobús para Cuernevaca u otra ciudad que se me olvida. 
Ésta ha sido completamente representativa del carácter amable de la gente de aquí porque al caérseles el botón a mis jeans favoritos le pregunté a ella dónde arreglármelos. Ella fue al centro y me consiguió un botón gratis como de favor, supongo que gracias a que soy un cliente ya preferido.  Obvio.

Acapulco Jukebox

A few entries back I mentioned the sounds of mangos slamming on the roof outside my bedroom window.  I would love to record that ruido, and in fact one just dropped before I started writing, but it's a little difficult.  Por eso I captured another "sound of Acapulco," this time me refiero al garbage collector.  

That's the cue for me to run downstairs, via the spiral staircase exit not through the carport, which doubles as school restauran on weekdays, with trash bags in hand to make it before the basurero passes by.


Vermont and Iowa Destroy Traditional Marriage

If you haven't heard already in the past week or so, both Iowa and Vermont have given the neon rainbow light to gay marriage while D.C. just voted to recognize out-of-state marriage licenses. As my mom would say, thank you Jesus!

Perhaps they saw this video of hermaphroditic snails mating and realized that "same sex unions" are natural and beautiful... eh awkward.



You know I forgot to blog about one of the most talked about times of the year here for Acapulqueños- Espring Break.  Not only for some of my girl friends who can't wait to flirt with the hot gringos guapos, although I don't think they ever did, but also for the tourism industry hoping for a surge in sales from all the college students looking to spend money and have a good time.  Ever since I got here repeatedly people would tell me, "Oh you just wait until Spring Break!  It's crazy!"  "The gringos come and hacen un desmadre," they claimed.  "Why are gringas such ho's?" one of my friends questioned.  "How many do you know?" I asked her.  "I know some... a few...one" 
Needless to say there was a bit of hyperbole surrounding the whole situation, razón por la cual I started to brace myself at the beginning of March for hoards of wasted espringbrekers roaming the streets and fornicating on hotel balconies (another common complaint).
Finally, the week arrived.  I don't live on the costera but head down there a few times a week.  I saw a couple groups of students.  Heard a lot of English speakers walking down the street scoping out the town.  A few gringos in bars, and I admit I'm guilty of stereotyping myself when it comes to guessing or assuming who's gringo and who's not.
The only desmadre really came from a closed-off pool party in one of the hotels.  I thought about haciéndome el gringo tarado and saying that I had lost my bracelet just to investigate but probably nothing new that I hadn't seen on an MTV or Wild on E! special.


And now for your... buttocks?

Today, one of the other teachers at the LEII where I teach English approached me with a question.   He pulled me aside to make sure that he was telling his students, massage therapists with English-speaking clients, the right terms necessary to do their work and communicate with the tourists.
"So when the massage therapist is about to massage the..." he points to his rear-end, "what term do they use?  Because they don't say ass, right?"  
"Yeah, they don't want to use that term."  I knew ass was not the right fit, but I was literally stumped.  He then asked me what the polite terms were for ass or butt.  "Well," I thought.  "There's rear." 
"But that's the lower back isn't it?" he questioned unconvinced.
"No, you can say rear."
But then I pictured a massage therapist moving down the back declaring, "I'm going to begin to massage your rear."  That can't sound right.  What about "to massage the rear"?  Nope, not that one either.  
I propose, "I think gluteus may be the best fit in this situation."
"How about buttocks?"
Now imagine the therapist, as he or she begins to move towards your gluteus maximus, exclaim, "Alright, now I'm going to massage the buttocks"?  I think this would be more than cause for laughter, would it not?
So, I told them that probably the therapist should stick with "the gluteus muscles" or "gluteus maximus" or "the gluteus" as it manages to both speak in scientific terms and depersonalizes said under-region of the body.  Let's hope it was good advice.