Thursday, May 31, 2007

B&N Gives 1 Free Book Away per Child this Summer

Last summer, we provided 190,000 free books and participants read 2.3 million books! This year, children can join Jack and Annie from Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House on their summer adventure as part of their own journey in our Summer Reading program. Participation is fun and easy.

Here's how:

1. Kids read any eight (8) books of their own choosing - library books, books borrowed from friends, or books bought at Barnes & Noble.

2. Ask them to write about their favorite part of each book in the Summer Reading Journal. A parent or guardian must sign the journal after each entry.

3. Bring the completed Summer Reading Journal to a Barnes & Noble bookstore between May 29th and September 2nd, 2007.

4. We'll give them a coupon for a FREE book! They can choose from a list of exceptional paperback titles.

*Simply print out all the documents here at B& or pick up Information Kits at your local Barnes & Noble store. These materials are copyrighted, but feel free to make as many copies as you need. Random House has provided the attached permission letter if needed.

* Eligible books will be listed on the coupon. Choices must be made from available stock. No special orders. Limit of two (2) forms per school-age child (grades 1-6). Incomplete forms will be ineligible for free books. Offer not available online.

Hispanic Author's website traffic tops 40,000

Since May 1st, has received over 40,000 visitors, a reflection of the escalating interest in immigration reform and America Libre's role in that debate.

Literanista first covered his book here:

What a Girl Wants: The PC of the Future

This filled me with geek lust and awe:

Pic via suchablog

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Dumb Leading the Blind

Pa. district bans novels by Angelou, Kingsolver

A Lancaster County school district will remove novels by Maya Angelou and Barbara Kingsolver from the fall ninth-grade English curriculum following complaints by parents about the sexual content of the books.

V for Vendetta

God, I love this movie and I swear it's not just because my name is Valerie.

This movie fills me with a sense of hope that society will always demand freedom and liberty from the those who oppress us.

Unbelievably, has the V for Vendetta (Two-Disc Special Edition) for only $9.49.

I just got it for myself.

Oh, yea and ATL was the bomb, came back home glowy, got my BBQ on, and i'm mosquito-bite ridden but it was all good!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

I Heart NY! Especially when it's Fleet Week!

Alas, I'm heading out to Atlanta today, so I can't promise any new posts for the next couple of days but I wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and say thank you to those who sacrifice their lives for our country!

It will be Okay

To Z, & S, and all the brokenhearted, this one is for you!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hotlanta, Here I Come!!!

Can you say "Barbeque!"
I'm off early tomorrow to visit the main's squeeze's fam in Atlanta, and I can already smell the BBQ-laden air.

In that spirit, I leave with some aguas fresca recipes for all to beat the summer heat!

Summer, summertime!

Via: Food & Wine

Parcha/ Passion Fruit Caipiroskas


Brazil is famous for the caipirinha, but less well known for the classic caipiroska cocktail that combines vodka, lime juice and sugar. Michelle Bernstein doesn't love the taste of alcohol so she throws passion fruit puree into the mix, creating a deliciously fruity sweet-tart drink.

3/4 cup frozen pure passion fruit puree, thawed (see Note)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 5 limes), plus 6 thin lime wheels for garnish
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vodka (9 ounces)
6 cups crushed ice

City Grocery Mojitos

1 large bunch of spearmint, plus 8 additional sprigs for garnish
3/4 cup sugar
1 lime, rinsed and quartered, plus 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup club soda, plus more for serving
2 cups dark rum
Ice cubes
White Wine and Sparkling Cider Sangria

1 bottle dry white wine, such as Vinho Verde or Pinot Grigio
1 cup fresh orange juice
Juice of 2 limes
10 strawberries, thickly sliced (optional)
Orange and lime slices
1 1/2 cups sparkling sweet cider

Watermelon-Lime Frozen Agua Fresca
Fanny has always had an infatuation with frozen fruit. (The pastry cooks at Chez Panisse used to freeze raspberries for her; she stuck one on each finger and then ate them.) So it's only natural that she makes an icy drink with one of her favorite fruits, watermelon. This agua fresca has the consistency of a frozen margarita.

1/2 large seedless watermelon, rind removed, flesh cut into 1-inch dice (10 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (5 limes)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum, preferably Jamaican

Put 9 cups of the watermelon cubes on a rimmed baking sheet, wrap with plastic and freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, freeze 6 highball glasses. Chill the remaining 1 1/2 cups of watermelon.

In a blender, combine half of the chilled watermelon with half of the frozen watermelon and half of the lime juice, sugar and rum. Blend until smooth. Pour into 3 of the frozen glasses. Repeat with the remaining chilled and frozen watermelon, lime juice, sugar and rum. Serve the agua fresca at once.

MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 1 up to 2 days in advance.
Passion Fruit Batida

1 1/2 cups passion fruit juice
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 ounces cachaça or white rum (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
2 cups crushed ice
More here:

New Book: The Virgin's Guide to Mexico

The Virgin's Guide to Mexico by Eric B. Martin

"Martin's earnestly beat novel tracks homely, studious Alma Price — resigned to being forgettable — as she disappears from her affluent Austin, Tex., home to trace her Mexican roots.

Alma deferred her freshman year at Harvard hoping to go to Spain, only to have her parents insist that if she doesn't go off to Harvard, she enroll at the University of Texas. Instead, Alma is determined to figure out how her chilly, beautiful Mexican mother, Hermelinda, managed to transform herself from a maid's daughter into a rich dot-com wife.

Armed with a year of Spanish, a lot of moxie and a cache of letters sent to her mother by her grandfather from Mexico City, Alma chops off her hair, assumes the moniker 'The Kid' and joins a gang of young American men headed for the border whorehouses. Alma's perspective emerges in a winning torrent of observations, and though a transvestite prostitute discovers her secret, she makes a pretty good boy.

Alternate chapters clarify Hermelinda's motivations for leaving Mexico and her secret tenderness for her troubled daughter, as Hermelinda and her husband (and Alma's father), Truitt, trace Alma's route to Mexico City with a detective's help. Part bildungs-road novel, part family saga and part identity lit, Martin's third novel is all heart."

- Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Immigrant Laborers as Superheroes

Are you watching Marvel?

Hombre y superhombre
In Neuvo York, heroes are everywhere.

Photo: Dulce Pinzón

If every immigrant, legal or not, suddenly disappeared, New York would come screeching to a halt. Immigrants do the grunt work that keeps Gotham humming, but despite their ubiquity, they’re largely invisible to people outside their communities. According to photographer and former labor organizer Dulce Pinzón, this is especially true of New York’s Mexican labor force, a problem she addresses in her photo series “The Real Story of the Superheroes,” on view at the Brooklyn Public Library.

To make her point, Pinzón, 32, persuaded each of her immigrant-laborer subjects—many of whom she knew from her union work—to don a superhero costume that reflected his or her job. Thus Luis Hernandez, seen with a jackhammer at a construction site, is wearing a costume of the Thing, while Juventino Rosas sports Aquaman’s uniform as he slices tuna at the Fulton Fish Market.

A Mexico City native, Pinzón says she came up with the idea in the aftermath of September 11. “I saw that the concept of heroism had been reborn,” she explains, “so I started to think of tributes to Latinos, who go largely unrecognized by the media.” Her immediate inspiration was finding a Spider-Man costume in a flea market. “I thought, What kind of superpowers would a Mexican have? Well, most of them work 12, 14, 16 hours a day!”

While some of the images were shot guerrilla-style, the picture of window-washer Bernabe Mendez as Spidey took six hours. It was one of the first photos Pinzón wanted to take when she began the series in 2004, but the cost of renting a crane to get the right shot was too expensive. FinallyPinzón decided to use a cheaper method—a harness to suspend herself outside of a building 150 feet in the air. “I thought, What the hell, I’ll just hang. But it was scary!”—Howard Halle

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

We Got Beauty in the Bag!

Latina, Jaslene Gonzalez was named America’s Next Top Model last night on the eighth season of the Tyra Banks’ reality show.

I thought her statement "I'm not your girl next door but I'm your girl down the block in your hood," was cute and humble.

The Personal Is Political

Here's your chance, ladies and gentlemen, let them (and our future generations) know WE were there!

The Veterans History Project, is gathering volunteer interviewers—family and friends of veterans, communities and a wide variety of organizations—to record the one-of-a-kind interviews of wartime veterans, collect oral histories of America’s World War II veterans, and send them to the Project, where they are housed in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress.

To become involved, download a new Veterans History Project field kit from the Veterans History Project Web site, request the kit via e-mail at or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848.

Ay, Matey! New Book in Production:

Author of When I Was Puerto Rican, Esmeralda Santiago's CONQUISTADORA, is a sexy, swashbuckling, historical novel about the settling of Puerto Rico in the mid-19th century, told through the eyes of a headstrong young Spanish woman and her extended family.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Marvel Makes Latino Superhero/Santero

Hmm, I'm not sure how I feel about this one:

NEW YORK -- Like many who become superheroes, Nestor Rodriguez's transformation is rooted in loss: His father, a civil rights activist and New York City councilman, is murdered in front of him. Yet unlike other superheroes who gain their powers through the bite of a radioactive spider or through birth on an alien planet, Rodriguez is changed through an Afro-Caribbean religious ceremony...

And then there is Eleggua, the character that Rodriguez becomes. Quesada says Eleggua and the team he leads, the Santerians, are the first all-Latino comic book team whose powers are derived from the Afro-Caribbean religion of santeria.


Eleggua is the Orisha of doorways and crossroads. He is one of the warriors, with Chango, Ogun, Ochosi, and Osun, and one of the Seven African powers. In the Yoruban tradition that is parent to the Lukumi and Palo faiths, the Orishas are emissaries of God, ruling the forces of nature and the fortunes of mankind. Their aspects are generally determined by their elemental natures. Eleggua is the mediator between humans and all of the other Orishas. Eleggua is the keeper of the gateway between the divine and material worlds. Eleggua is the trickster, a force of chaos and entropy who serves to shake off stagnacy.

On one hand, i'm glad to see a latino superhero, since there are so few (I guess we aren't superhero material, huh? Why do I feel like the geico caveman all of sudden?) on the other hand, why perpetuate the stereotype that latinos are all involved in Santeria, which is most often miscontrued as voodoo.

There is also an underlining lack of respect or blasphemy in taking a religious from one religion and making him into a cartoon character, imagine if it were a more mainstream religion and or someone like Moses...there would be an uproar.

Read more here:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Que Viva Spanish Cinema!

Mexican filmmakers and the multiple Oscar-nominated Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu have just signed a deal with Universal Pictures worth a staggering $100 million.

The three amigos will produce five films for the studio - and direct one each - under their newly formed company, Cha Cha Cha.

Via perezhilton

The Rich Historian

I once believed
in salvaging used things.
Items rich in history and experience,
still carrying the weight
of someone's emotional manifestations.
Heavy engravings,
markers of some past life,
deeply etched
like synthetic veins
on some inanimate object.

I once saw
beauty in that pain.
That rawness that seeped out.
The tragedy which had transpired.
Speaking volumes on humanity.
The abandonment made richer
the victim.
The neglect, part of the glory.
The bounty, mine.
Or is it?

Like an isolated museum hall
do I not celebrate
something which is long gone.
Encased in glass.
Extinct, no longer here,
only a remnant of what once was,
an outer shell.
An eaten peanut,
the seed of a mango
with all the juice sucked
dry by another.
The empty chrysalis of April's butterfly
in December.

What is it I once
believed in?
Collecting things
half gone,
put aside,
broken and dispossessed.
Wading through wreckage
to find that bounty,
that treasure
to deify.
To idealize
and identify.
To give a home to,
still searching to heal the world.

No longer
enough satisfaction in
just stray kittens
but now shattered men
to heal and mend.
Make shiny and new
like that found penny
or pearl button.
Found and lost.

Content with the load
in my small pocket
or yesterday's little dirty fist
of seashells,
and pretty stone,
like that glittery one
at the beach
or the downy feather,
or the fallen eyelash
rescued from your cheek
and some confetti
that descended
from your curls
tight in my grip.

I once found comfort
in my miniature menagerie
of odd artifacts.
Odds and ends.
The salvaged and the wrecked,
the chipped and the flawed,
the old and the timeless,
misbegotten and misplaced.

Growing sedentary
I tire.
The weight
of my altruistic meandering
growing obtrusive,
getting the better of me.

As the day grows old,
my dirty fists
wracked with pain, dirt and blood,
I wonder who will
salvage me?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Crazy Tired!

Somehow I'm crazy tired today and it's raining again here in fact it will be raining and raining some more but it's quite alright it matches my mood.

And for my Columbian Peops, here's some Kumbia:

Damn, if this guy isn't the epitomy of hotness!

So, I had tons of fun in DC, I saw the monument from afar, had cosmos with my hommie at a cool hotel bar (very Sex in the city-esque), revived the excitement of SF expo and,... all in all, it was quite an adventure and as usually is the case with this sort of thing I met a boatload of people.

Speaking of which...

Did you guys read about this treasure:

I can't believe how tired I'm so I'm gonna go just chill out now.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm Tripping!

So, last night I was told by Z, that "I was tripping" and you know what? I have been - it's true, and to make it even more so, I'm heading out to DC for the Tech Cocktail event today, so I leave you, my friends with some trippy music so that you can all join me on my journey!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Severe Thunderstorm in Effect

It's virtually black outside my window right now, luckily I'm wearing the perfect rainstorm gear: a paper thin sundress and espadrilles. Good grief!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Book Snobs Beware!

Since I'm a self professed book snob who totally judges people on the train based on what type of book they're reading, I found this very tongue in cheek and funny:

Ten books assured to creep out fellow commuters

More New Books

The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation Between African Americans and Hispanics by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

More here:

The Sun Over Breda by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Book Review here:

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

The Witch of Portobello

by Paulo Coelho was just released in English. I can't wait to read this one, Coelho is one my favorite, inspiring authors.

Best-selling fabulist Coelho continues to transform his trademark combination of mysticism and storytelling into spellbinding examinations of the human soul. In this deceptively simple novel, a bereaved lover attempts to chronicle, dissect, and comprehend the often-twisted path followed by Athena, otherwise known as the Witch of Portobello Road.

An orphaned Romanian gypsy, adopted as an infant by adoring Lebanese parents, Athena recognized and struggled with the power of her magical gifts at an early age. Spurred on by truths and passions inaccessible to most of her contemporaries, she traipsed around Europe and the Middle East in search of acceptance, enlightenment, and a truer path.

Developing a cultlike following, she became the object of a modern-day witch hunt that seemingly culminated in tragedy. Unable to construct a typically straightforward chronicle of her life, her would-be biographer relies on the divergent recollections and reflections of the people who knew--or thought they knew--her best.

Narrated from multiple points of view, the portrait of Athena that emerges is as provocative and spiritually complex as one would expect from the author of The Alchemist (1993) and The Devil and Miss Prym (2006).

Monday, May 14, 2007

Just Say "No" to MSG!

Lately, I've been on sort of "green" kick and it has spread to what I eat. While I've never been one to munch on unhealthy things ; chips or drink tons of soda, I've been considering how I can make my diet healthier overall. The other day one of my friends told me I should cut out salt of my diet, and I easily responded I didn't salt my food.

Then she asked if I used Sazon or Adobo in my food, to which I replied "of course, I do," I mean what good Puerto Rican cook doesn't, right? That's when her tsk-tsking began - I went home and checked the labels and found that my adobo was obscenely high in sodium and that my sazon was not only high in salt but also contained a lot of MSG.

I did make an attempt to not use those products and my dinner turned out badly, the food was bland and missing it usual sabrosura.

I, then bought the new reduced sodium Adobo, and the "natural" Sazon to my dismay however, both products are very high in MSG. Now while some argue that MSG is not harmful, i.e., Wikipedia, it does note here as well that MSG has an addictive type of quality (read: crack) that has induced obesity in lab rats.

I also found this which doesn't seem like a very credible read but if you want to be petrified, then feel free to check it out:

Not cool, man!

Description unavailable
 (Photo: minusbaby)
So what's a girl to do, when diabetes, lupus, high blood pressure and even autism have reared their ugly head in her gene pool? Well, I decided that unless Goya and all the other ethnic seasoning companies do something serious about lowering the levels of sodium and other "ingredients/chemicals" in our food, I'm going to go the DIY route.

And, I welcome you to join me! So in that light, I'm adding some DIY seasoning recipes with no preservatives (and better for your wallet too).

Homemade Sazon

Latino garlic-pepper-vinegar marinade

Puerto Rican adobo powder

Puerto Rican green sofrito

I'm sure that if you google these condiments you will find an array of ethnically customized versions of all the above.

So get in the kitchen, have fun and stay healthy!

Book News: America Libre

"America Libre, a fictional book by Raul Ramos y Sanchez, highlights the growing social tension caused by illegal immigration and shows a possible outcome of the crisis - a civil war that leads to the redrawing of America's borders.

The recent book by author, Raul Ramos y Sanchez, America Libre, has been met with wide acceptance and has attracted a great deal of attention with its controversial storyline - a possible insurrection within the United States sparked by the growing backlash against illegal immigration, resulting in a bitter civil war. With the resurgence of hate groups using anti-immigrant sentiments to swell their ranks and the recent violent incident in Mac Arthur Park in Los Angeles, this book has been the focus of much attention as a possible forecast of events to come.

In the past two weeks, the author's website, Http://, has been flooded with over 20,000 new visitors, and his online forum that enables U.S. immigrants to tell their stories in their own words,, has also received a sudden influx of new attention and traffic from searches relating to the immigration controversy."

Read more here:

Latinos give PBS a history lesson

Update on the Ken Burns PBS documentary:

"After initially insisting that he wouldn't make any changes, Burns said last week that he would re-edit the film to add stories about Hispanic soldiers -- not as an addendum as was suggested earlier in a lame compromise, but as part of the film itself."

Read the rest here:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day: Felicidades!

Many, many "thank yous" to the divine creators here on Earth, the mothers of the world -- but most of all, I'm eternally grateful to the woman who not only decided to have me but who also raised me amongst many obstacles and tribulations.

Gracias, querida mami!

* Prettiest smile in Ponce, P.R. My mom at seventeen!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Barbie is a Ho!

It's enough to make a grown girl cry!

I was reading the Economist yesterday evening on the train and came accross their book review for The Real Toy Story: Inside the Ruthless Battle for America's Youngest Consumers by Eric Clark.

According to the book:

"Several decades ago, Barbie's creator, Ruth Handler, saw a Swiss doll called Lilli, voluptuous and wearing heels. She was just what Ms Handler wanted for a blockbuster new doll. Ignoring traditional marketeers—shocked by Barbie's breasts—she began an uphill battle in California to manufacture this sexy creature, so unlike cuddly baby dolls. What she did not know was that Lilli was based on a prostitute in “a German adult cartoon aimed at men.”"

How ironic or maybe just plain sad, that the busty, blue-eyed, plastic icon of so many childhood girl's dreams is modeled on a whore?

What does that say about us, about how society views women, and the message we send our kids through our acceptance of these norms?

I remember that when I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, I really understood Pecola Breedlove's desire to be just like her blue-eyed doll because I also dreamed of growing up to look just like my sexy, blue-eyed Barbie - perfect.

But part of me, even as a child, was repulsed by my Barbie's phoney perfection, and I desired a raven-haired doll, one that captured my mother's beauty, a breathtaking, Latina infused version of Elizabeth Taylor and Lynda Carter. When I finally got a black-haired Barbie I found that sadly she just wasn't as "pretty" as my idealized white Barbie.

And, if anyone thinks this has changed today, then they should watch this:

The video was produced by a high school student.

You can watch news coverage of it here:
Toni Morrison had it right!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mmmm, Now That's What I'm Talking About!

The growing Latin American presence in baseball is not confined to just the field.

Yankee Stadium recently got a Latin-style food concession called Salsa on the Go. A joint venture of Bronx native Daniel Garcia and Goya Foods, the concession offers Yankees fans the choice of picking up an empanada and plantains between innings, instead of a footlong hotdog or giant pretzel. Garcia, who grew up in Hunts Point a few miles from Yankee Stadium, owns Salsa Catering, where the food for games is prepared at the business's headquarters on 3rd Ave. in the Bronx before delivery to the stadium.

Via Gothamist
I guess the players aren't the only things hot now.
Well, you know what they say, "Si no es Goya..."

A Dress for my Crocs!

I was amused to see this dress land in my email this morning:

Around The Color Block
Pick up this unusual dress to kick start your summer wardrobe. $72
Available atArden B. (various locations)

Isn't it almost a too-perfect match for my new shoes?

If it didn't make such a gauche combo, it would be funny to rock the two items together.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Brush Up or Learn Spanish!

The BBC offers quality FREE online and MP3 education in languages familiar and obscure, including French, German, Portuguese, Mandarin, Greek, Urdu and of course Espanol.

These are easy-to-use, enjoyable podcasts that allow you to learn while you do errands or go for a run.

However, classes are one size fits all, which fast learners may find sluggish (and slow learners may find difficult).

Food for Thought!

This will blow your mind!

Check this out and as you slowly register the magnitude -- think about why we need to reconsider what we, "we" as in humanity, are doing.

Doing to each other, the planet, ourselves...

I May Not Have a Lot... But I do Have the Hottest Crocs on the Planet

How cute are my crocs?

And, you thought "cute crocs" was an oxymoron...

Jill Scott - Golden

Some inspiration for the week ahead! Z, this is for you, mama!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

We're gonna have a celebration!

My friends over at Papierdoll are having a fiesta, if you're in town, you are all welcome to join in on the festivities!
To RSVP, go to

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May Mélange
- Simon & Schuster has teamed with the Internet video company TurnHere Inc. to launch a "book-centric video channel" that will promote S&S authors and their new books. will begin in early June, and the videos will also be available at, YouTube and the authors' own Web sites. Though S&S has produced videos to promote its authors in the past, the venture with TurnHere represents a stronger and more formal commitment to using video to market authors. S&S will create videos for at least 40 authors, including Mary Higgins Clark, Kathy Reichs, Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, Jennifer Weiner and Zane.
Read more here:

English-only Sparks Lawsuits
- U.S. companies that require employees to speak only English on the job have sparked lawsuits alleging discrimination against immigrants.
Read more here:

TV for US
- L.A.-based television networks take aim at bilingual, bicultural young Latinos. "Young Hispanics in America today are proud to be American," says Michael Schwimmer, CEO of Sí TV, "but at the same time there are very strong ties to their parents' and their grandparents' heritage."
Read more here:

HBO Yanks De La Hoya/Mayweather Fight Off Youtube
- HBO has requested that YouTube pull down footage of Saturday night's championship boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya, according to a Los Angeles Times report on Tuesday. A YouTube user had uploaded the broadcast from Las Vegas, originally shown live on HBO's pay-per-view channel, in a relatively high-quality format later that weekend. That was understandably problematic for HBO, which plans to show a rebroadcast of the match this coming Saturday.The video was removed from the legally embattled YouTube around 4 p.m. PDT on Monday, replaced with a notice that it had been pulled "due to a copyright complaint from Home Box Office Inc."

Mayweather Patronizes De La Hoya's Mexican Heritage
- The Hispanic community has been eerily silent on Floyd Mayweather's patronizing sombrero act after barely defeating De La Hoya on Saturday. Has no one seen this?

Lou Dobbs: Hispanic Journalist?
- On other demeaning news: According to, Lou Dobbs, is now a lifetime member of the Hispanic Journalists Association. After you have a WTF? moment, you can read more here:

Book Swap
- 22 ways to swap your CDs, DVDs, Games, Books, Lease, Contract, and Money from StartupSquad.

- Orli from sends us: to check out! LibriVox Objective's is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet. When was the last time someone read YOU a book?

Broken Paradise
- And, lastly I can't remember if I mentioned this before but... A New Historical (Cuban) Novel, Broken Paradise: A Novel by Cecilia Samartin, Has Hit Bookstores
Read more here:

Nada: Sounds Interesting

Book News: Nada: A Novel (Modern Library)

* By Jonathan Yardley Via Washinton Post

NADA, A Novel
By Carmen Laforet
Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman

This remarkable novel has a long history in Europe, Spain most particularly, but a very limited one here in the United States. A British translation from the Spanish was done almost half a century ago, and a little-known academic publisher issued one a decade and a half ago, but copies of both are limited and fairly hard to come by. So this new translation by the redoubtable Edith Grossman is especially welcome, as it makes available to readers here a coming-of-age novel that is far more mature and stylistically accomplished than the most famous American example of the genre, J.D. Salinger's vastly overrated The Catcher in the Rye.

Carmen Laforet was in her early 20s when she wrote Nada and 23 when it was published in her native Spain and became the first recipient of that country's celebrated Nadal Prize. Its frank, unsparing depiction of Barcelona in the aftermath of Spain's destructive 1936-39 Civil War caused a sensation, and its spare literary style -- impeccably rendered by Grossman -- had considerable influence on subsequent Spanish and European literature. "It has never been out of print," the Guardian reported when Laforet died three years ago, "and, even today, sells several thousand copies a year."

Like virtually all coming-of-age fiction, Nada is heavily though not literally autobiographical. Laforet was born in Barcelona in 1921. Her mother died when she was 12, and her father eventually married a woman with whom she did not get along. At 18, she left the Canary Islands (where her family had moved when she was 2) and attended university in Barcelona, living with relatives. On the evidence of Nada, this cannot have been a happy experience, as the household depicted therein is a nightmare of rivalry, hatred, sexual innuendo and violence -- a microcosmic mirror of Spain itself at one of the most tormented moments in its history.

Eighteen-year-old Andrea comes to Barcelona from the countryside full of hope: for "life in its plenitude, joy, deep interests, love."

Though there are suggestions at the novel's end that in time all of these will be granted to her, they hardly are what she finds in the apartment on Calle de Aribau. Its inhabitants are her maternal grandmother, two uncles, two aunts, an infant nephew, a maid, a dog and a cat. The heat is "suffocating, as if the air were stagnant and rotting." She feels "horribly dirty" and rushes to take a cold shower in a bathroom that vividly establishes the ambiance of the apartment:

"That bathroom seemed like a witches' house. The stained walls had traces of hook-shaped hands, of screams of despair. Everywhere the scaling walls opened their toothless mouths, oozing dampness. Over the mirror, because it didn't fit anywhere else, they'd hung a macabre still life of pale bream and onions against a black background. Madness smiled from the bent faucets."

Looking out the window, she sees three stars "trembling in the soft blackness overhead." Their twinkling "brought back in a rush all my hopes regarding Barcelona until the moment I'd entered this atmosphere of perverse people and furniture. I was afraid to get into the bed that resembled a coffin. I think I was trembling with indefinable terrors when I put out the candle." She has little self-confidence -- "I felt vaguely inferior, a little insipid" -- and experience has rendered her fatalistic: "I thought that any joy in my life had to be paid for with something unpleasant." She is "bitter and intransigent, like youth itself." In other words, she is in poor shape to weather the tensions and animosities of her mother's family's house.

Her grandmother, "granny," is sweet and self-sacrificial but ineffectual and dotty. Aunt Angustias "not only saw herself as strong and capable of leading multitudes, but also as sweet, unfortunate, and persecuted," when in fact she is controlling, authoritarian and arbitrary. Uncle Juan repeatedly beats his pretty young wife, Aunt Gloria, who does what she can to bring money into the cash-strapped household. As for Uncle Román, he is a piece of work, "more original and artistic than most," a gifted musician, but manipulative, disloyal, lazy, irrational and sexually predatory. Andrea is drawn to him, as many women are, but she fears and distrusts him.

Such pleasure as she finds is given to her at the university, where she becomes intimate friends with a classmate named Ena, wealthy and beautiful and magnetic, and falls in with a group of amiable bohemians. She tries desperately not to "mix those two worlds that were beginning to stand out so clearly in my life: my student friendships, with their easy cordiality, and my dirty, unwelcoming house." She is alternately depressed and exhilarated by Barcelona, which in those post-Civil War days was rarely the sun-drenched Mediterranean paradise that it is today. "In the heat of summer, [it] has a beauty that's oppressive and a little sad," but there is also a pervasive sensuousness that awakens passions hidden inside her:

"I remember the first autumn nights and how they intensified my first moments of disquiet in the house. And the winter nights, with their damp melancholy: the creak of a chair interrupting my sleep and the shudder of my nerves when I discovered two small shining eyes -- the cat's eyes -- fixed on mine. In those icy hours there were certain moments when life broke with all sense of modesty before my eyes and appeared naked, shouting sad intimacies, which for me were only horrifying. Intimacies that the morning took care to erase, as if they'd never even existed. . . . Later came the summer nights. Sweet, dense Mediterranean nights over Barcelona, with golden juice flowing from the moon, with the damp odor of sea nymphs combing their watery hair over white shoulders, over the scales of golden tails. . . .

On one of those hot nights, hunger, sadness, and the power of my youth brought me to a swoon of feeling, a physical need for tenderness as avid and dusty as scorched earth with a presentiment of the storm."

Andrea is a teenager in the throes of sexual awakening, which in her case is complicated by the sexual tensions everywhere around her: between Juan and Gloria, between boys and girls she meets on campus, between Román and just about everyone who crosses his path. In recent years, it has become fashionable in some academic quarters to detect lesbian as well as heterosexual awakening in Andrea, but this has far more to do with scholarly trendiness than with what actually happens to Andrea. Her confusion is not about her own sexual preference but about how to find love, tenderness and reciprocated passion in a house and a society that are, as Mario Vargas Llosa puts it in his brief but pointed introduction to this new edition, "brutalized by lack of freedom, censorship, prejudices, hypocrisy, and isolation."

Nada-- again to quote Vargas Llosa, "the unsurpassable title says everything about the novel and the city where it takes place" -- is a grim book, but it is far from humorless, and it declines to pass simplistic judgment on any of its characters. Though at first Andrea is horrified by the people she finds in her grandmother's apartment -- and by the apartment itself -- she comes to understand their frailties and occasional redeeming aspects as they reveal themselves to her more completely. In the end, she certainly is glad to be rid of them, though her farewells are not without fondness, but she seems to understand that she has been through a shaping experience that may ultimately be better for her than she now can appreciate.

That this complex, mature and wise novel was written by someone in her early 20s is extraordinary. The success it enjoyed seems to have weighed rather heavily on Laforet, whose subsequent five novels generally are regarded as less accomplished. But after six decades, this first novel has lost none of its power and originality, and we are fortunate to have it in this fine translation. ·

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hispanos & Pop Culture

Same-Sex and the City

By Sam Baltrusis


Johnny Diaz is experiencing what he calls "first-book jitters." It's exactly one month before the national release of his debut novel, Boston Boys Club, and he stumbles a bit when asked what he thinks about the portrayal of Hispanics--particularly openly gay Latinos--in pop culture.

"Are there any openly gay Hispanic portrayals in pop culture?" he questions, curled over a cup of coffee in a crowded café in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass.

How about the younger nephew in ABC's Ugly Betty or even Ricky Martin? "Honestly, I can't think of one portrayal of an openly gay Latino in contemporary popular culture," Diaz explains. "It's like a Latino code of silence. We know you're gay, but it's in our machismo nature not to talk about it."

Diaz says he's determined to depict a multifaceted professional Latino who happens to be gay. "That's one of the reasons why I wanted to write this book." he explains, wearing a short-sleeved shirt during an unusually cold spring day in Boston. He rubs his arms for warmth and jokingly says he feels like a "Cuban popsicle" throughout the interview. "Hispanics are always portrayed as either street thugs, cleaning people, or as the gardener. And the Latin gay guys I've seen are always hot, overly sexualized tricks from Miami."

In Boston Boys Club the former reporter for The Miami Herald and current staff writer for The Boston Globe follows a trio of friends as they search for that perfect guy at an ultrahip boy bar in Boston, the Club Café. While Diaz insists his story is a fictionalized account of his life after moving from Miami to Boston five years ago, the 34-year-old author admits that he intertwines real-life locales (like the Club Café, which is in Boston's South End), events, and yes, people in Boston Boys Club.

"The main character, Tommy Perez, covers Hispanic-related issues at a paper similar to The Boston Globe," he says, adding that his alter ego works at a pub called The Boston Daily. "Tommy lives in Harvard Square, and I used to live near Harvard Square."

There's one character, Kyle, described as the lean, preening model and former reality show star who makes a red-carpet entrance into the club every Thursday as if a swarm of cameras still follows his every move. The acclaimed journalist claims that Kyle wasn't inspired by Dan Renzi, Diaz's former boyfriend whose romance was chronicled on MTV's Real World: Miami more than 10 years ago.

"Kyle is not Dan," he shoots back. "There are a lot of former reality stars out there who want to be models. The characters in the book are all composites of people I've met and known over the years."

Renzi, who has relocated to Miami after spending years in Los Angeles, laughs out loud when Kyle's background is described. "C'mon, how many former reality stars does he know with aspirations of being a model who ultimately becomes a public speaker?" jokes Renzi. "I mean, the name of the show Kyle was on in the book is called The Real Life."

Diaz's former on-screen boyfriend says he likes the excerpts from Boston Boys Club he's read so far. "We talked about the book over the phone last night, and I still love the guy to death. We'll always be friends. However, there's the character and there's Kyle's story line, and they're two different things. While the description sounds a lot like me, the path he takes throughout the course of the book has absolutely nothing to do with me."

When asked if people still recognize him from his Real World relationship with Renzi, Diaz nods. "Yes, it still follows me everywhere I go. When I see reruns of that season I recognize my voice and my face. But I can't believe it's me. I was only 23 years old back my first serious relationship...and it shows."

The Cuban-American author believes the MTV reality series--which featured the openly gay Pedro Zamora in The Real World: San Francisco dealing with the ups and downs of living with HIV--has lost its edge over the years. "It has become a big AA convention," he muses. "For me, the show lost its focus since Real World: New Orleans. Back then it was less about looks, getting drunk, and hooking up, and more about the cast and their stories."

While Diaz tries to distance himself from his Real World past, he embraces the comparisons critics are making with his book to HBO's Sex and the City. "Move over Candace Bushnell, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda; Tommy, Mikey, Rico and Kyle are on the scene. Summer reading season is almost here and I can't think of a better pre-season recommendation than Boston Boys Club," writes Lisa Alvarado, author of The Housekeeper's Diary and reviewer for the Internet's Blogcritics Magazine.

"I absolutely love the show," he gushes. "With Boston Boys Club I wanted to make a gay version of Sex and the City, and I wanted to showcase gay Hispanics in a positive way."

Diaz, who recently moved to the Boston suburb of Dorchester, says his goal is to create archetypal characters who tug on the heartstrings and tap into that always universal search for love. "I describe the book as a 'Same-Sex and the City' because men and women of various backgrounds related to that show, even though it was about four straight women and their search for Mr. Right," he adds. "I hope that readers who pick up Boston Boys Club will relate to one of the characters, even if [those characters are] gay or Hispanic."

For his second novel—Miami Manhunt, slotted for release in 2008—Diaz focuses on two Cuban-American twins--one is a gay movie critic, and the other is a straight English teacher. "The second book deals more with family and the dualities associated with being a gay Cuban-American. The structure is similar to Boston Boys Club; it's all about the lead character's search for love."

Has Diaz found his Mr. Right? "Yes," he says with a smile. The writer's Cuban-popsicle facade slowly starts to melt. "He's very humble and doesn't like being in the spotlight. But yes, I've found my Mr. Right."

A Mariachi for Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The World Awaits!

De La Hoya vs. Mayweather:

Friday, May 04, 2007

Cinco de Mayo is Tomorrow!

Facts: (via Kaboose)

- Cinco de Mayo means “the fifth of May.” Many people believe it is Mexico’s Independence Day, but that is incorrect. (Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16.) Rather, Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of a battle that took place between the Mexicans and the French in 1862.

- The battle is known as the Battle of Puebla, and it celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French. It also marks a turning point in Mexican national pride. A small, poorly armed group of about 4,500 men were able to stop the French invasion of a well-equiped French army that had about 6,500 or even 8,000 soldiers. The victory made the Mexican people very happy, and helped create a feeling of national unity.

- While Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico, it is mainly observed in the state capital of Puebla. However, in the United States, it is becoming a popular holiday to celebrate Mexican culture. Kids and families can try delicious Mexican food, listen and dance to Mexican music, make and admire Mexican art, and shop for fun souvenirs and products at markets called “Mercado.”

Luxury Tequila:

Ingredients for a Margarita:
Triple Sec
Lime Juice

Quantities for one drink:
1 1/2 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Lime Juice

Blending Instructions:
Rub rim of cocktail glass with lime juice, dip rim in salt
Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into the salt-rimmed glass, and serve

Serving Glass :
Cocktail Glass. Also known as a martini glass. The shape of the glass helps keep ingredients from separating, and the stem allows the drink to stay cool while holding. Size: 4 to 6 ounces

Read more history here:


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Call Mami Too: Free Global Skype Calling on Mother's Day, sponsored by Intel

Skype and Intel just announced their “Gift of Gab” promotion today, with the goal of bringing families and friends together this Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13th).

With the “Gift of Gab,” U.S. and Canadian residents can use Skype to call anyone, anywhere in the world for free all day on Mother’s Day. That’s twenty-four hours to call mom, your best friend or other members of the family, without paying a dime.

It doesn’t matter if that special someone is in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America or right around the corner.

Why Mother’s Day??- Mother’s Day is the busiest calling holiday of the year, so there’s no better day to make calls for free.- Sixty-two percent of moms just want a phone call saying I love you on Mother’s Day, yet only 35% actually receive phone calls, according to a new survey commissioned by Skype.-42% of adults say they see or talk with a parent (especially Mom) every single day, up 10% since 1989.

Now all that chatting won’t cost anything!
Get more information about the “Gift of Gab” at

And, tell Mami, Literanista sends her love!

Don't Forget about Mami: Mother's Day is Quickly Approaching

If your mom is anything like mine, read: grandstanding diva, then you know flowers just ain't doing it for mami on mother's day.

So here are some ideas for el dia de las madres:

Novica: The artsy, ethnic (in association with National Geographic), handcrafted items site is having a combo Mother's Day Showcase & Cinco De Mayo sale:
Purchase today and get $10 off. Enter code: NOVICA243

Literanista's picks:

Earrings, 'On Doves's Wings'
Gianluca Anzani (Mexico)

<Sun, 'Ebony Sun'
Georgina Cabrera (Mexico)

Ceramic figurine, 'Mother and Baby' (Andes)

And, don't forget the bouquet:
That's 1-800 flower's new spanish site!

Celebrate: It's Latino Book Month!

“Today marks the start of the fourth annual Latino Books Month, an event founded by the Association of American Publishers Publishing Latino Voices for America PLVA Task Force. The month-long celebration includes several activities, including a reception and panel at BookExpo America and resources for booksellers, librarians and more. “


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A poem...

My heart leaned
toward the Caribbean
It was a heavy lean,
one weighted in
mangoes, guenepas, coconuts,
and congas newly bathed
in palm oil, freshly pressed.

The weight was laden
with the ritmo of plena,
and the rain cascading
from purple-beaded shekeres,
laden with the mashed pulp
of sugar cane, and aguelo's
sweeping machete.

The unbalance held
the fever
that accompanied
the red-burnt skin
of those who had left
and forgotten
how the coquis sang their song,
as the sun
knelt before the
Earth it had kissed all day long.

Weighted with the
divinity of the trees,
who Huracan left alone,
whose leaves danced in the windsong.

My heart leaned, heavy,
by the thought of you,
swimming in the blue,
swimming, an ocean song, away from me.
Web Analytics