Lola (1986)

What was Barcelona like in the 1980s? Lola, the 1986 film from Catalan director Bigas Luna, gives us a glimpse of the nightlife of the time. ¿Cómo fue Barcelona en los años 1980? Lola, la película de 1986 de director catalán Bigas Luna, nos da un vistazo a la vida nocturna de la época.

After a sexual experience that became too violent, Lola (Ángela Molina)decides to escape her life in the village and ends up in Barcelona, where she meets the Frenchman Robert (Patrick Bauchau). She ends up pregnant from that first encounter and marries him. Years later, Mario (Féodor Atkine), the guy she escaped, tracks her down in Barcelona and believes the daughter is his and begins to stalk Lola. Después de una experiencia sexual que volvió demasiado violento, Lola (Ángela Molina) decide escapar su vida del pueblo y huye a Barcelona, donde conoce al francés Robert (Patrick Bauchau). Se encuentra empreñada de este encuentro y se casa con él. Años después, Mario (Féodor Atkine), el tio de quien se escapó, la rastrea en Barcelona y cree que la hija es suya y empieza a acosarla. 

The film is typical Luna, with the bizarre sex scenes while trying to give more agency to the woman than other films of the time might do. However, it doesn’t always mean he succeeds. Son de mar has a similar plot, and the years long plot is present in both Son de mar and Huevos de oro. The film doesn’t rise above a mediocre thriller unfortunately, and the horrible dubbing doesn’t help. La peli es típica de Luna, con escenas de sexo raras, aunque intenta da más agencia a la mujer que otras pelis de la época hacen. Sin embargo, no significa que lo ha logrado. Son de mar tiene un argumento parecido, y la técnica de un argumento que dura años está presente en ambas Son de mar Huevos de oro. La película es un thriller mediocre lamentablemente, y el doblaje horrible no ayuda nada. 

If you’re a Luna completionist, or if you want to see a young Ángela Molina, by all means check it out. Otherwise, you can save an hour and a half of your time. The film is available on Flixolé.  Si quieres ver todas las pelis de Luna, o si quieres ver una joven Ángela Molina, te la recomiendo. Si no, puedes ahorrarte una hora y media. Está disponible en el Flixolé. 

Destination: Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a vibrant city of with an estimated population of 595,351 in a metropolitan area of over 2 million people. It’s a short drive from the state capital, Madison. Located on Lake Michigan about two hours north of Chicago, the city dates back to 1846. In addition to the lake, the Milwaukee River runs through downtown. Milwaukee es una ciudad vibrante con una población de 595.351 personas con una población de más de 2 millones de personas en la área metropolitana. No está lejos de la capital del estado, Madison, y está ubicado en Lago Michigan a unos 2 horas al norte de Chicago. Fue fundida en el año 1846. En adición al lago, el Río Milwaukee fluye por el centro de la ciudad. 

My boyfriend and I arrived to Milwaukee around 4. We checked into our hotel, Home 2, and rested a bit before finding a coffee house so I could get some classwork done. This is typical of a graduate student life. The work never ends. However, by getting some research out of the way, I had Sunday and Monday morning freer to explore the city during the day. Mi chico y yo llegamos a Milwaukee sobre las 16. Hicimos check-in en el hotel, Home 2, y descansamos un rato antes de buscar un café porque quería trabajar un poco. Es típico de la vida de un “grad student”. Siempre hay trabajo. Sin embargo, para hacer mi investigación el sábado por la tarde, tenía domingo y lunes más libre para explorar la ciudad durante el día. 

The coffee house we stopped at was part of the Colectivo Coffee Roasters chain located in Milwaukee. There are 21 locations in Milwaukee and Madison. I ended up getting a cute t-shirt of a dog with the word “coffee”, which is totally me as I love dogs and coffee. Fuimos a un café de la cadena de Milwaukee, Colectivo Coffee Roasters. Hay 21 locales en Milwaukee y Madison. Me compré una camiseta guapa de un perro con la palabra “coffee” (café en inglés), que encaja genial conmigo porque me encantan los perros y el café. 

We stopped at a local pizza place whose name I don’t wish to recall because it was that bad. Screaming children and a long wait for a mediocre pizza. Cenamos en una pizzeria local cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme porque era tan mal. Había niños chillando y una espera larga para una pizza mediocre. 

Sunday morning was bright and sunny, however, and after breakfast at the hotel, we went to the Milwaukee Public Market. While not quite as nice as Seattle’s Pike Place Market (and honestly, what market is?), it was a quaint market. I found some Spanish wine for only $10. How I miss my Rioja! Nos despartamos domingo a un día asoleado. Después de desayunar en el hotel, fuimos a Milwaukee Public Market (mercado público). Aunque no es tan bueno como el mercado de Seattle, Pike Place Market (y creo que no existe un mercado tan bueno como ese), era un mercado pintoresco. Encontré una botella de Rioja por solo $10. ¡Como echo de menos Rioja! 

Next we walked along the river despite the cold (It was about -2C/upper 20sF) to the Bronze Fonz. The statue of the Happy Days character is famous and was dressed for St. Patrick’s Day. Luego, paseamos por el río a pesar del frío (hizo unos 2 grados bajo cero) hasta la estatua del Bronze Fronze. Es del personaje de Días felices y era vestido para el día de San Patricio. 

We went up to the North Point Lighthouse and walked around some more, enjoying the views of Lake Michigan. Después, condujimos al Faro de North Point (Punto norte) y caminamos más, disfrutando de las vistas de Lago Michigan. 

After lunch at a local kebab (apparently they’re giros in the US? To me, they’ll always be kebabs!), we went to the hotel for siesta. I’m slowly bringing back proper Spanish customs to the US. Después de comer en un kebab local, volvimos al hotel para echarnos una siesta. Poco a poco, estoy llevando la cultura español a los EEUU. 

Post siesta, we drove up to Port Washington. I was a fan of Step by Step as a child, and I was curious about the town of 11,250 residents. It has a beautiful downtown area, and we ended up having a great dinner at the local Italian restaurant, The Pasta Shoppe. Después de la siesta, fuimos a Port Washington. Como joven, era un fan de Paso a Paso, y tenía curiosidad del pueblo de 11.250 habitantes. El centro es precioso, y fuimos a cenar en el restaurante The Pasta Shoppe. Allí, se come muy bien. 

I woke up Monday morning to realise I had left my scarf and Barcelona jacket at the restaurant. I had bought the scarf my first winter in Spain, so it had meaning for me, and the Barcelona jacket I was wearing under my heavier winter coat for extra warmth was a brand new Christmas present. The restaurant didn’t open until 16, so we visited the St. Josaphat Basilica before exploring the Third Ward and Bay View neighbourhoods. Me desperté el lunes para darme cuenta que había dejado mi bufanda y chaqueta de Barcelona en el restaurante. Compré la bufanda durante mi primer invierno en España, y para mi, es especial. La chaqueta del Barça que llevaba abajo mi abrigo para más calor era nuevo, un regalo de Navidad. El restaurante no abre hasta las 16, entonces, visitamos la Basilica St. Josaphat antes de explorar los barrios del Third Ward y Bay View. 

After heading back up to Port Washington to retrieve my left items, we drove back to Urbana, tired but great after our first weekend getaway together. Después de recoger mis objetos perdidos en Port Washington, volvimos a Urbana, cansados pero bien después de nuestra primera excursión de fin de semana juntos. 

For the first part of the trip in Madison, click here.
Para la primera parte del viaje en Madison, haz clic aquí.


¡Felices fiestas!

Bones festes!

Boas festas!

Zorionak eta urte berri on!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I hope you have a great one! No importa cual festivo celebras, ¡espero que lo pases bien!

The regular scheduled Monday post will be tomorrow. La entrada de lunes de siempre saldrá mañana. 


The 35th Season Interview

Here at Setmeravelles, we are excited to announce the beginning of the 35th Season of The Pablo Show. Every year, on the protaganist’s birthday, we take a time to interview him and see where they have been and what the future season may hold, although we try to stay spoiler free! Traducción a español al final de todo. 

SetMeravelles: Hola
Pablo: ¡Hola!

Setmeravelles: First, let’s just congratulate you on getting renewed for a 35th season. That’s a long time. Do you feel old yet?
Pablo: I still feel 17 or something. I don’t feel old.

Setmeravelles: 2016 was a shit circus, pardon my language for so many reasons, but you seemed to have experienced a good year on the personal level.
Pablo: After the results of the 2016 American election, you cannot say it was a good year on the personal level for ANYONE.

Setmeravelles: Touché. Ok, well, go ahead and comment on your personal triumphs.
Pablo: Well, I left Bilbao for Valencia and was met with the rainiest autumn in Valencia’s history. It rained like 10 days this autumn.

Setmeravelles: Raining only 10 days in a season in Bilbao would be a drought, you know.
Pablo: Cállate.

Setmeravelles: Ok, fine, continue.
Pablo: Where was I? Ok, so trying to make a life and find a better job in Valencia. The travel highlights of the year were many. I made it to Berlin, Prague and Bratislava and did a week on the Camino del Norte. In addition, I finally made it to Tenerife after eight years of dying to go! To top it all off, I just spent a birthday weekend in Barcelon and Turin. Did you know you can have French fries/chips on a pizza?

Setmeravelles: No, I did not. The Italians think of everything.
Pablo: They do! Anyway, almost did 40 hiking routes, two day trips to France and a trip to the Black Lagoon.

Setmeravelles: Awesome. So do you have any travel plans yet for the 35th season?
Pablo: Well, there’s the obligatory trip to visit my mom in the States. This year, it comes with an overnight layover in Dublin. With any luck, I’ll cross the last 5 provinces off the list and finish the Camino de Santiago. Semana Santa plans are still up in the air, but I know where I want to go.

Setmeravelles: I can’t wait to write about it!
Pablo: I’m sure.

Setmeravelles: Let’s continue. What were the bad parts, the parts that nearly lead to cancellation?
Pablo: Oh, the fact that my job is incapable of paying me anywhere near on time.  I’m doing a lot of good work in therapy and self-help books, and I’ve come to a point where I know that I would like a relationship, but the quality guys out there are hiding, plus my introversion makes it extremely difficult for me to meet friends. And plus, rain.

Setmeravelles: We REALLY want to see the producers cast a decent guy for you. Why is the audition process so difficult?
Pablo: Chemistry, timing, the fact that gay men (and really, today’s society in general) is easily distrac IS THAT A GOLDEN RETRIEVER?

Setmeravelles: WHERE? WHERE?
Pablo: Sorry, that’s another goal. I want a golden retriever. I digress.  Like I said last year, I am an Audrey in a world full of Kardashians. I am a Hillary  with a 2000 page detailed report of my goals as President (except I know how to e-mail) in a world full of Trump Tweets. I am a Pam in a world of Sookies. I am just meant for another place, another time.

Setmeravelles: Very interesting way of putting things.
Pablo: Thanks!

Setmeravelles: What else do you have in store?
Pablo: Hoping to get my novel published while trying to find a better job in the meantime. Continuing the battle against depression and anxiety.  Getting a B2 in català-I-mean-valencià. Learning how to cook.

Setmeravelles: Great, so you’re going to burn down the house?
Pablo: Probably.

Setmeravelles: It’s been great talking to you. Anything else you’d like to add?
Pablo: Buen camino de la vida.


A Setmeravelles, nos emocionamos decir que El Show de Pablo vuelve para su 35ª temporada. Como todos los años, publicamos una entrevista con el protagonista y ver como ha sido el año pasado y que planes tiene para el próximo año, aunque somos “espoiler-free”. 


SetMeravelles: Hola
Pablo: ¡Hola!

Setmeravelles: Enhorabuena en la renovación para una 35ª temporada. Es mucho tiempo. ¿Ya te sientes viejo?
Pablo: Todavía me siento como si tuviera 17 o algo. No me siento mayor.

Setmeravelles: 2016 era un año de mierda para todos para muchas razones, pero me parece que has tenido un buen año en un nivel personal.
Pablo: Después de las elecciones estadounidenses, no se puede decir que era un bueñ año en un nivel personal para nadie.

Setmeravelles:Tienes razón. Pues, nos comentamos sobre los exitós.
Pablo: Pues, me marché Bilbao por Valencia y me encontré con el otoño más lluvioso de la historia valenciana. Llovió como 10 días este oño.

Setmeravelles: En Bilbao, solo llover 10 días durante una estación sería una sequía grave, ¿sabes?
Pablo: Cállate.

Setmeravelles: Vale, sigue.
Pablo: ¿Dónde estaba? Vale, estoy intentando mejor mi vida y encontrar un mejor trabajo en Valencia. Los buen viajes de este año era muchos. Fui a Berlín, Praga y Bratislava. Estaba una semana caminando a Santiago en el Camino del Norte. Además, por fin fui a Tenerife después de 8 años con muchas ganas de ir. Para acabar el año, acabo de pasar un fin de semana (de cumpleaños) en Barcelona y Turín. ¿Sabías que puedes comer una pizza con patatas?

Setmeravelles: No lo sabía. Los italianos piensan en todo.
Pablo: Pues sí. Pues, casí he hecho 40 rutas de senderismo, dos viajes a Francia por el día y un viaje a la Laguna Negra.

Setmeravelles: Genial. ¿Tienes algun plan de viaje para la 35ª temporada?
Pablo:Pues, hay el viaje obligatorio a los EEUU. Este año, incluye una escala de noche en Dublín. Si tengo suerte, tacharé las últimas 5 provincias españolas de la lista y terminar el Camino del Norte. No sé donde iré en Semana Santa, pero sé donde quiero ir.

Setmeravelles: ¡No me puedo esperar para escribir de ello.
Pablo: Seguro.

Setmeravelles: Seguimos. ¿Cuales eran las malas rachas, las partes que casí canceló la serie?
Pablo: Pues, el hecho que mi viaje no es capaz de pagarme puntualmente. Estoy trabajando mucho con un psicologico y libros de auto-ayuda, y ya entiendo que me gustaría una relación, pero los chicos buenos están escondiéndose. Y con ser introvertido, lo tengo difícil conocger gente. Y bueno…la lluvia.

Setmeravelles: De verdad, queremos ver los productores hacer casting un buen chico para ti. ¿Por qué el casting es tan difícil?
Pablo: Química, casualidad, el hecho que los chicos gays (y para ser sincero, la socidedad de hoy en dia en general) se distrae muy fácilme ¿ES UN GOLDEN RETRIEVER?

Chemistry, timing, the fact that gay men (and really, today’s society in general) is easily distrac IS THAT A GOLDEN RETRIEVER?

Setmeravelles: ¿DÓNDE? ¿DÓNDE?
Pablo: Perdona, es otro reto. Quiero un golden retriever. ¿Dónde estamos? Como dije el año pasado, soy un Audrey en un mundo de Kardashians. Soy un Hillary con un ficha detallada de 2000 páginas de mis metas como Presidente (pero sé como mandar e-mails) en un mundo de Tuits de Trump. Soy un Pam en un mundo de Sookies. Viviría mejor en otro sitio en otro tiempo.

Setmeravelles: Un perspectivo interesante.
Pablo: ¡Gracias!

Setmeravelles:¿Qué otros planes tienes?
Pablo: Espero publicar mi novela mientras intento encontrar un mejor trabajo. Voy a seguir con la guerra contra depresión y ansiedad. Voy a sacar el B2 en català-digo-valencià. Voy a aprender a cocinar.

Setmeravelles: Vale, entonces, ¿vas a quemar la casa?
Pablo: Probablemente.

Setmeravelles: He disfrutado nuestra conversación. ¿Hay algo más quieres decir?
Pablo: Buen camino de la vida.


Buñol, home of La Tomatina.


Buñol is famous for La Tomatina, a festival which involves throwing tomatoes at people. The festival attracts over 40,000 visitors every year and is held on the last Wednesday of August. Legend says the festival began in 1945 when the villagers rebelled against their city council. Others say it was just a food fight. Franco tried banning the festival because it had no religious affiliation, but the festival returned after his death stronger than ever. In 2013 they added an entry free and limited the number of participants to increase safety. Buñol es famoso por La Tomatina, una fiesta donde las personas se tiran tomates a sus amigos y colegas. La fiesta atrae más de 40.000 visitantes cada año y siempre se celebra el último miércoles de agosto. La leyenda dice que la fiesta empezó en 1945 cuando los habitantes se enfadaron con el gobierno y echaron tomates a ellos. Otros dicen que solamente era una lucha de comida. Franco intentó prohibir la fiesta porque no tenía nada que ver con la Iglesia, pero la fiesta volvió más fuerte que nunca después de su muerte. Desde 2013, hay una entrada de 10€ y un limite de participantes para aumentar la seguirdad. 


I wanted to see the city on normal terms, seeing as being hit with tomotes repeatedly for an hour is not my cup of tea. So on my second day off, I hopped the Cercanías from Requena to Buñol and explored the city. The day was cloudy, but there was no rain. Perfect exploring weather as I didn’t need the regular sunscreen. Quería ver la ciudad en plan tranquilo, como no me apetece nada ser golpeado por tomates durante una hora. En mi segundo día libre del campamento, cogí el Cercanías de Requena hasta Buñol y exploré. Había bastantes nubes por Valencia, pero no llovía, el mejor tiempo para explorar. Ni hacía falta crema solar. 


The train station is about 15 minutes out of town, and after a better breakfast than in Requena the week prior, I used Google maps to find my way to the main part of the city. I went to the bank and then went up to the castle. I was impressed with the views. I can only imagine what the town of nearly 10,000 residents is like during La Tomatina with the tomatoes cleaning and disinfecting the streets. La estación de Renfe está a 15 minutos caminando desde el pueblo, y después de un mejor desayuno que en Requena la semana antes, aproveché de Google Maps para situarme y encontrar la parte principal del pueblo. Fui al banco y después visité el castillo. Me impresionaron las vistas. Solo puedo imaginar como sería el pueblo de 10.000 habitantes durante La Tomatina con los tomates limpiando todo. 


What I enjoyed most were the parks around the River Buñol. There were lots of green areas for the small town. Lo que me disfruté más era los parques del Río Buñol. Había muchos sitios verdes por ser un pueblo. 

Buñol is located on the highway between Valencia and Madrid. It is one of the most liberal villages of all in Spain and at times has elected a Communist Government. It’s reachable by Cercanías trains and bus from Valencia. Buñol está ubicado en la autovía entre Valencia y Madrid. Es uno de los pueblos más liberales de España y a veces ha tenido un gobierno del Partido Comunista. Se puede llegar a Buñol en transporte público. Hay trenes de Cercanías y autobuses de Valencia.  DSCN3042

My story.

Sí, soy gay.

I’m not a very good gay. I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t go on a lot of dates, I don’t go to Pride, I haven’t even gone to either of the gay discos in Bilbao in the three years I’ve lived here. I don’t fight for rights (but I do support LGBTQ rights, of course). I don’t have a six pack, I’m not a bear, I’m too “overweight” for the twinks, too thin for the bears, too young to be a daddy, over 30 so non existent to many. The people who I leaned on while coming to terms with my homosexuality are an ocean away with their own lives. I’m too well-adjusted with my homosexuality for the gay support groups, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t use that support. I just feel awkward in those groups…very out of place.

I was cut off from communication in the Sierra de la Demanda (entry coming soon, I think June 27th ;)) Sunday when the Internet was shocked by the news of the shootings at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. When I got back in the land of 4G, it was my turn to be shocked. The news is affecting me a lot. It’s triggering my anxiety and depression. I thought it might be a good way to deal by writing out my coming out story and my first trip to a gay club and where I am now.

Growing up, I had some notion that I was different, but exposure to my father’s conservative radio programs meant that whatever “gay” was, it was a choice, so I chose to ignore those feelings. It worked during high school, but after a year in a Christian college (university) group, I was feeling very confused. When Ewan McGregor broke into “Your Song” in Moulin Rouge, it made me realise something. I was attracted to men.

I spent the summer agonizing what this meant. In October 2001, I went to a college newspaper conference in New Orleans, snuck away from my friends and went to a gay bar where I saw that hey, there were other gays in the world! I wasn’t alone!

I continued to struggle with accepting myself, and my struggles increased with every broken heart. In autumn 2003, I studied abroad in Toledo, Spain, and on a trip to Barcelona that October, I went to a gay club called Arena. I loved dancing and the Catalán nightlife. In 2011, I went back to Arena and relived my very first time. It was in Spain where I felt it was truly okay to be gay and started to accept myself.

Ever since, though, I feel pressured to go to gay bars/clubs even though they’re not really my thing. I’m not a big drinker, as the second glass of wine can have me tipsy some days, and instead of hang overs, I have anxiety the day after. Not worth it. I am pretty introverted, so it’s hard for me to meet people in that context. Once in a while, I need a night dancing, and it usually happens when I’m in Barcelona.

I struggle to find my place in the gay world where I don’t fit into any of the subcultures. I keep feeling like I’m trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. I’d rather spend my money on travel, and I’d rather spend my weekends in nature than at the disco. Different strokes for different folks.

Saying this, the news is upsetting because for everyone there, they just wanted to have a good time and to dance the night away with their friends and loved ones. This night was turned into hell on earth for them.

I still deal with a lot of fear that results from being born gay. I’m not out to my family for fear of their disapproval. I don’t talk about it at work (but if a co-worker asked, I wouldn’t deny it.) for fear of what may happen if someone who is homophobic found out. Many in the gay community need a place where they can be themselves without fear. Although more and more people find the courage to come out and be themselves every day, there are even more who are scared of this.

The anxiety and depression that this fear creates is not healthy. It causes undo stress. I fear that after the attacks, it could create more and more fear. My heart goes out to the friends and family of the people who lost their lives in Orlando. Hug someone you love today, if you can. Or let people you know they care for them. Try not to live in fear.

As I am embarking on my move to Valencia next week (!), my heart continues to hold to hope for the future. A future where no one has to be afraid to be who they are. A future for me that involves a great Valencian guy, two golden retrievers, a writing career and a house on the Mediterranean. A future where stories like this are a thing from the past.


2015 in Review, and a look forward to 2016.

2015 had a lot of bad stuff, but it had a lot of good stuff to balance it out. On a whole, it was better than 2014, despite the bad stuff being pretty bad. I still struggle with depression, anxiety and social anxiety, but I do have my culo in treatment for that. Being in treatment is one way I took the lemons 2015 threw at me and made vodka limones. Aunque pasaron muchas cosas malas 2015, también muchas cosas buenas  pasaron para darle al año un equilibrio. Era mejor que 2014, tengo que decir, a pesar de las cosas malas que eran bastante malas. Todavía lucho con depresión, ansiedad y fobia social, pero estoy en tratamiento por ello. Estar en tratamiento es una manera en como hico vodka limones de los limones que la vida me tiró en 2015.

There was the way I didn’t get paid for six weeks with my summer job, teaching English at a local university. This lead me to doing a week at VaughanTown and having a blast, and it provided me rent for September and October when the money finally came in. Fui seis semanas sin cobrar con mi trabajo de verano, dando clases de inglés en una universidad. Pero hice una semana en Vaughntown y lo pasé bien, y también me dio el aquiler para los meses de septiembre y octubre cunado la pasta me llegó. 

I thought I was making a group of friends, the oh-so-important “cuadrilla” in Bilbao, but in the end, they taught me the difference between “acquaintance” and “friend”. Their ultimate rejection of me was tough, but I perserved and learned more about my introvert self and got over my fear of rejection. Being rejected will do that to a guy. This lead me to be more careful with the word friend. Pensaba que estaba haciendo buenas migas, el importante “cuadrilla” en Bilbao, pero al final, me enseñaron la diferencia entre “colega” y “amigo”. Aunque era muy duro cuando me rechazaron al final, sobreviví y aprendí más sobre mi mismo, como es ser introvertido, y he superado mi miedo de rechazo. Ser rechazado lo haré a un chico. Ahora ando con más cuidado con la palabra “amigo”. 

I changed schools, but have the same job. My new school is a better match, and my private lessons are going better than the previous academic year. Cambié de colegios, pero sigo con el mismo trabajo. Me encajo mejor en este instituto, y mis clases particulares van mejor que las del año pasado. 

The highlight of 2015 was, without a doubt, the Camino de Santiago. I made it from Zarautz to Santander between March and September. I had some incredible days on the Camino. The Camino is my Zen. I also had a lot of great local hikes close to Bilbao. Lo mejor de 2015 era, sin duda, el Camino de Santiago. Hice etapas desde Zarautz hasta Santander desde marzo y septiembre. Pasé unos días geniales en el Camino. El Camino es i Zen. También hice unos senderos bonitos cerca de Bilbao. 

Other travels including visiting a friend in Antwerp and seeing Bruges, Gent and Brussels; a weekend in Burgos; Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca and Firenze in Italia; a weekend in Barcelona; a week at VaughanTown, a weekend in León and a weekend in ValènciaOtros viajes incluye una vista a un amigo de Amberes y ver Brujas, Gante y Bruselas; un fin de semana en Burgos, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca y Florencia en Italia, un fin de semana en Barcelona, una semana en Vaughan Town, un fin de semana en León y un fin de semana en València. 

I read a ton, saw a ton of films, started The Almodóvar Project, something I have been wanting to do for some time, ate a lot of pintxos and drank even more cafés con leche. Leí un montón de libros, empecé El Proyecto Almodóvar, algo que he querido hacer desde hace mucho tiempo, comí muchos pintox y bebí aún más cafés con leche. 

While a lot of bad things happened, I survived to look at the positive. 2015 wasn’t the greatest year ever, but I am going up. I have a lot of hopes for 2016. Aunque haya pasado muchas cosas malas, sobreviví para mirar lo positivo de 2015. No era el mejor año de mi vida, pero las cosas están mejorando. Tengo muchas esperanzas para el 2016. 

In short…I survived. En resumén, he sobrevivido.

My completed goals for 2015? Submitted novel for publication (to two publishers.) Rejected two times, but all the best are rejected. I made it to Santander. I worked on making a social circle, even if most attempts backfire. I also finally sorted out iTunes! I tried my best to find a permanent job and nearly had one in Oviedo, but things fell through. 2016 is another year. ¿Las metas para 2015 cumplidas? He mandado mi primera novela a dos editoriales. Me han rechazado dos veces, pero siempre rechazan los mejores. Llegué a Santander en el Camino. Intenté hacer un grupo de amigos, aunque mis intentos no van bien. Intenté encontrar un trabajo fijo y casí lo conseguí en Oviedo, pero al final no era mío. 2016 será otro año y otra oportunidad. 

Goals for 2016? ¿Metas para 2016?

1. Come out to my mom. It has to be done. Live a life free of lies and a meaningful relationship. (saved from 2015! Okay and every year since 2002!) Salir del amario a mi madre. Tengo que hacerlo. Vivir una vida libre de mentiras y una relación con sentido. (Guardado de 2015…y todos los años desde el 2002.)

2. Continue submitting my novels for publication. Seguir intentando publicar mis novelas.

3. Eat healthy, learn to cook. Every Sunday, I will learn to cook a new dish. For real. (Saved from 2015!) And go back to drinking more water and no more than three coffees a day. Comer sano y aprender cocinar. Todos los domingos aprenderé hacer un plato nuevo. De verdad. (Guardado de 2015). Y beber más agua y no más que tres cafés al día. 

4. Go back to the gym. Continue the progress at the gym. Lose body fat. Go to Body Combat at least once a week, go to Body Pump at least once a week, go to Body Balance once a week. Be able to do 100 pushups and ten pullups (at the moment I can’t do one) by the end of the year. Volver al gimnasio. Seguir con el progreso en el gimnaso y perder graso corporal. Ir a Body Combat una vez la semana, ir a Body Pump una vez a semana y Body Balance una vez a semana. Poder hacer 100 flexiones y 10 pullups (ahora no puedo hacer ni uno) antes del final del año. 

5. Try surfing again and go kayaking. (Saved from 2015!) Hacer surfing una vez más y hacer piragüismo.

6. Arrive to Oviedo on the Camino, if not Santiago. Llegar a Oviedo, si no Santiago, en el Camino.

7. Continue to work on a social circle and find a boyfriend. Seguir intentando desarollar una vida social y encontrar un pareja. 

8. Work toward finding a permanent job and figuring out grad school. (Saved from last year). I am looking in Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao. I’m open to coastal areas, and while I know I will probably have to teach, I would love to write full time. And grad school at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona or Universitat de València would be amahzing. Intentar conesguir un trabajo fijo y mirar hacer un máster. (Guardado del año pasado). Estoy buscando en Barcelona, València y Bilbao. Estoy abierto a zonas de la costa, y aunque sé que es probablemente tener que dar clases de inglés, me encantaría poder escribir a jornada completa. Y hacer el máster en la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona o la Universitat de València sería DPM. 

9. Show depression and anxiety that I am the boss of them and not the other way around. Mostrar a depresión y ansiedad que les controlo YO y no me controlan ELLOS. 

10. Be able to afford a studio apartment and a golden ‘triever dog. Poder vivir solo en un estudio y con un golden ‘triever perro. 

11. Learn to relax and enjoy the moment. Try to see the positive. Aprender relajarme mejor y disfrutar del momento, y siempre intentar ver el positivo. 

12. Visit the other six provinces I haven’t been to in Spain and pick up a few new countries or return to Greece. Visitar las seis provincias que no conozco en España y visitar unos paises nuevos o volver a Grecia. 

13. Learn yoga and medidate every day. Aprender yoga y meditar todos los días.

14. Find my way back to God and explore Buddhist Christianity. Encontrar Dios y explorar Buddismo Cristianismo.

Another tradition I do is list all the places I’ve slept in the year. I feel as this is supposed to be a travel blog, that this might be the best part of the entry for most! Otra tradición que hago es nombrar todos los sitios donde dormí durante el año pasado. Como es un blog de viajes, puede ser lo más interesante para la mayoria de los lectores. 

Places I slept: Over the Atlantic, Bilbao, Antwerp, Burgos, Cinque Terre, Firenze, Madrid, Barcelona, El Barco de Ávila, Ávila, Salamanca, Guëmes, León, València, Lawrenceburg. He dormido en: un avión sobre el Atlántico, Bilbao, Amberes, Burgos, Cinque Terre, Florencia, Madrid, Barcelona, El Barco de Ávila, Ávila, Salamanca, Guëmes, León, València, Lawrenceburg.

And a meme I’ve done since 2002 I believe.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?: I climbed to the top of Gorbea!

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?: Some, and I always have goals for the New Year, as seen above.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?: It seems everyone is having kids this day.

4. Did anyone close to you die?: I don’t believe so.

5. What countries did you visit?: Spain (and Basque Country and Catalunya), Belgium, Italia, US

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?: Dogs, money, and a social life.

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?: Any day on the Camino!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?: El Camino

9. What was your biggest failure?: Coming out, financial issues, social issues.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? A couple of colds, and depression-anxiety.

11. What was the best thing you bought?: Plane/train/bus tickets 🙂

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Anyone trying to make a positive change in this world.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?: Donald Trump, certain ex-friends of mine

14. Where did most of your money go?: Travel, café con leche, books.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?: Traveling. Always 🙂 València. Barcelona winning 4-0 over evil Real Madrid.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?: Downtown by Macklemore and Ryan Lweis

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? thinner
iii. richer or poorer? about the same (poor!)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?: Writing, travelling, hanging out with friends.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Procrastinating, being afraid to be who I am, worrying

20. How will you be spending Christmas?: I spent it with my mom in the States.

21. How will you be spending New Years? Eating grapes at 6 PM Eastern Standard Time

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?: EZ. No. A few crushes, one may develop into more.

23. How many one-night stands?: Even Americans living in Euskadi never kiss and tell.

24. What was your favorite TV program?: Fargo, Community, Veep, Nashville, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Empire, American Horror Story: Hotel

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?: I dislike a few people.

26. What was the best book you read?: Tocados by Damian Alcolea, and a ton more. I read over 100 books this year.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?: Music was horrible in 2015.

28. What did you want and get?: I’m still in Spain.

29. What did you want and not get?: A lot. But I am dealing.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?: The Last Five Years

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?: 34 and I went to València.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?: Stability and less anxiety/depression/loneliness!

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?: Preppy-casual

34. What kept you sane?: Jordi, my iPod, the Camino del Norte.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?: David Villa, Cesc Fàbregas, Mario Casas, Jeremy Jordan

36. What political issue stirred you the most?: The Spanish elections.

37. Who did you miss?: Fallon Fey. Still.

38. Who was the best new person you met?: Let me answer this in 2016 🙂 It may have changed.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015: Colega does not mean amigo.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: I can do better than that.


La última parte solo está en inglés. Igual más tarde lo traduciré si hay demanda 🙂 Disculpen las molestias. Esta entrada ya es muchas palabras.

The 34th Anniversary Post.

It’s been a tradition to write a post on Facebook or my old Livejournal where I interview myself as if I were a headwriter of a show about plans for the upcoming season. So as today is my 34th birthday, and I’ve taken off to Valencia to celebrate the event in style, I think I’m going to carry on the tradition. Read ahead. (Warning, there are travel spoilers!)

The Pablo Show has just been renewed for it’s 34th season, and as usual, we set down with Pablo to discuss the past year and hope he gives us some spoilers for the year to come.

SetMeravelles: Bona nit.
Pablo: Bona nit!

SetMeravelles: We always like to begin these interviews with reviewing the prior season’s success stories. The 33rd Season took us to Belgium, Italia (Tuscany and Cinque Terre) and several days on the Camino de Santiago del Norte. Enhorabona y zorionak.
Pablo: Moltes gràcies and ez horregatik.

SetMeravelles: You also participated in a week at VaughanTown and travelled to Burgos, Ávila, Salamanca and León, plus Cantabria a few times, and Santo Domingo de la Calazada in La Rioja. Is there a rincón of Spain you haven’t seen yet?
Pablo: There are quite a few. Every day I find out about some new place I want to go to or visit. I am hoping to make it to Huesca and Albacete very soon, plus I have a February trip planned to Andalucía. If I can pick up Albacete on that trip…perfect.

SetMeravelles: And the other provinces?
Pablo: I would’ve gone to Zamora when I was in León or Salamanca, but I just didn’t make it due to money or being sick issues. . Whenever I arrive to Santiago, I’ll take advantage of crossing off the two Galician provinces plus Zamora off my list. And then Tenerife. Maybe I’ll just run away to the Canary Islands when the Basque rain picks up.

SetMeravelles: Congrats on surviving those three months straight of rain. And then another two months after that break of four days. It even rained on you in Pisa.
Pablo: I swear to God, if the Basque rain is that bad this winter, I’ll marry the first Catalan or Valenciano I find and live on the Mediterranean forever. In fact, even if it isn’t that bad this year, I want to do that!

SetMeravelles: What is up about the casting of the boyfriend for you?
Pablo: I like to think that I’m a good catch. I’m an Aubrey Hepburn in a sea of Kardashians. So it’s going to take a special someone to catch my eye, first of all. Then it’ll take a special someone to understand me with all my tics. I mean…it will take a great guy, and it’s hard for introverts to meet people.

SetMeravelles: While you tend to work on personal goals for New Year’s, your travel goals are often set on your birthday. You mentioned Andalucía and hopefully Huesca and Albacete…where else?
Pablo: I would love to go to Austria/Czech Republic/Slovakia or Germany for Semana Santa and spend a few days in Barcelona too. We’ll see what works out soon.

SetMeravelles: Awesome. We also saw you switch schools this year, and the new school seems to be a better fit. Any other career plans?
Pablo: The 33rd season saw my attempts to get my novel published. I’m stacking up the rejections. I am also looking for a new job in either Valencia or Barcelona. I have yet to decide if I’m going to throw caution to the wind and apply for Illes Baleares for my backup, or stick with the devil I know and stay in Bilbao, Capital del Mundo.

SetMeravelles: You just think you’re going to get more blog hits the more you type Bilbao, Capital del Mundo.
Pablo: Bilbo munduko hiriburua da.

SetMeravelles: The 33rd season also saw some continued struggles with depression and anxiety, which although painful, we feel you’re starting to get a grasp on how to cope poco a poco.
Pablo: It’s something you just take day by day tío.

SetMeravelles: Ok, good advice.
Pablo: I am going to continue hiking, which really helps me find my ZEN, and I hope to finish the Camino de Santiago, or at least arrive to Oviedo if not Galicia. Maybe take up yoga, get back to the gym, continue trying (and hopefully not failing) with meditation. That sort of stuff, you know?

SetMeravelles: Exactly. And good luck with the writing venture and your continued quest to find happiness, love and a decent job in the greatest peninsula in the world.
Pablo: I’m in València. You can say Spain today.

SetMeravelles: *looking around* Viva España.
Pablo: And Gora Euskadi and Visca Catalunya too.

Setmeravelles: Gracias, gràcies/merci, eskerrik asko, graças…that’s gallego, right?
Pablo: I think so.

Here’s to the best year ever.

Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón


Title sequence screenshot of Pepi, Luci, Bom

Almodóvar’s first film, Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón is a time capsule of Madrid in the early 1980s, recently released from 40 years of Franco’s dictatorship. It’s a product of the times, and it’s apparent that Almodóvar is a novice director. It’s most famous for a certain scene in the kitchen (which actually used beer). It’s considered somewhat of a documentary of the early movida madrileña movement of the 80s.

Pepi (Carmen Maura) is growing marijuana on the balcony of her apartment, and when a policeman (Félix Rotaeta) comes to investigate, he rapes her. Pepi is hellbent on revenge, so she has her friends, dressed in traditional Spanish outfits (only seen these days at Spanish festivals) attack the police officer. Too bad it’s his twin brother. She then befriends the cop’s wife, Luci (Eva Siva), in a plan of revenge. During her first knitting class, Luci confides to Pepi that she has a masochist side her husband never lets her explore. Pepi’s young punk rocker friend, Bom (Alaska), stops by. Pepi tells Bom to urinate on Luci. This liberates Luci, who decides to take a walk on the wild side. The trio explore the movida (the wild Madrid nightlife of the 1980s) and get into misadventures, including a “General Erection” contest to parody the 1978 Spanish General Elections (I’ll leave it to the imagination what they were voting on). Cecilia Roth has a cameo as the star of a commercial for women’s underwear which Pepi is writing the ad for.

As I am a Hispanic studies major who has studied Almodóvar at length, I might be seeing things here, but I believe the film can be read at a deeper level. Luci is a metaphor for traditional Spain (IE Francoist Spain) , Bom is New Spain (not to be confused with New Coke. This is the 80s!), and Pepi is the thread connecting them (La Transición). Of course Almodóvar, a member of new, non traditionalist Spain, wants to mark his territory on Spanish tradition and give his opinion on the Franco regime. Watching the film with these metaphors in mind, viewers can appreciate an otherwise average film (especially when we see what Almodóvar is capable in his later career) in a whole new way.

Rating: B

Almodóvar Checklist:

Chicas Almodóvar: Carmen Maura, Alaska, Eva Siva, Cecilia Roth
Antonio Banderas: No
Poisoned Gazpacho: No
Madrid: Sí
Galicia: No
Drugs: Sí
Musical Sequence: Sí
Men Too Gay To Function: Sí
Transvestites: Sí
Furniture Ikea Could Never Market: Sí
Surreal rape scene: Sí
Meta Slow Camera Pan To Show How Much He Really Loves Cinema: Sí
Mirror Scene: No
Dress from Lady Gaga’s rejected pile: No
Aspect of Spanish Culture Turned On Its Head: Luci, representing Spanish tradition, becomes seduced by Bom, representing modern Spain. Rooms traditionally kitchens are now toilets. Women are shown as strong and independent.
Nuns: Surprisingly, no.
Catholic Church As Bad Guy: No.
Taxi: Yes
His mother: No
Odd Advertisement: Sí.

La primera película de Almodóvar, Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del mónton es una capsula de tiempo de Madrid durante el inicio de los años 80, recienmente liberado de la dictadura de Franco que duró 40 años. Es un producto de la epóca, y se nota que Almodóvar era un novato.  Tiene fama una cierta escena de la cocina (que en actualidad usó cerveza.) Se considera la pelicula un documental del inicio de la movida madrileña de los 80. 

Pepi (Carmen Maura) cultiva marijuana en el balcón de su piso. Cuando un policia  (Félix Rotaeta) viene para investigar, le viola a Pepi. Pepi está determinada vengarse su violación. Contrata a sus amigos para atacar el policia (vestidos en la ropa tradicional de España que solo se ve en fiestas españolas). Una pena que sea su gemelo. Después, se hace buenas migas con la mujer del policia en su plan de veganza. Luci (Eva Siva) va a dar clases de punto a Pepi, y durante la primera clase, Luci confide a Pepi que tiene un lado masoquista que su marido nunca le deja explorar. La amiga joven punkera (Alaska) de Pepi viene a visitarle, y Pepi convence a Bom orinar Luci. Eso se libra a Luci, quien decide soltarse su lado salvaje. El trio de chicas explora la movida y encuentra aventuras, incluso un concurso de “Erecciones generales” que es una satira de los elecciones generales de 1978 (os dejo la imaginación para adivinar lo que estaban votando).  Cecilia Roth tiene un papel pequeño como la estrella de un anuncio de bragas (Pepi es la escritora del anuncio). 

Dado que estudié estudios hispánicos en la universidad y estudié mucho sobre Almodóvar, quizá esté viendo cosas que no existen, pero creo que se puede leer la peli como algo más profundo. Luci es una metáfora de la España tradicional (la España de Franco), Bom es Nueva España y Pepi es el enlace que se ata (La Transición). Desde luego, Almodóvar, un socio de la Nueva España anti-tradicional, quiere dar su opinión de Franco y la tradición española. Ver la peli con estas metáforas en la mente, los espectadores pueden apreciar una peli mediocre (cuando ya sabemos lo que puede hacer Almodóvar) en un nivel más profundo en una manera nueva.