Saturday, February 28, 2009

Of Mothers, Playboys & Knowledge

My mom has always been a woman of letters and a litterateur. She also likes to quiz me as well as other people on all things cultural. On any given day (during our daily phone conversation - yes, I call my mami everyday) she will quiz me with the intensity of a debate team coach.

The other day she asked me if I knew who Porfirio Rubirosa was and the name certainly rung a bell. When she started describing him - I remembered he was a character in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. I was surprised to learn he was a real person although I shouldn't have been since I know the book is packed with historical references.

My mom then says "do some research on him, print it out and bring it to me because I want to learn more. That man looked like Marcello Mastroianni. No, he looked like your father." My father, really? Interesting.

Anyway, I've bought my mother La breve y maravillosa vida de Óscar Wao so she can continue her uh, hum "studies."

Bookstores in Spanish Harlem

I think the picture says it all, doesn't it?

I made it using the new app that Indiebound launched, which lets you locate your nearest indie bookstore via Google maps. There are no large retail booksellers in that area either.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Even in Spanish Vampires are Hot

The Twilight Saga (Crepúsculo) Sells Over 2.5 Million Copies In Spanish

"Alfaguara, an imprint of Santillana, has published the series in the Spanish market, including the United States and Latin America. The entire saga: Crepúsculo, Luna Nueva, Eclipse, Amanecer, and the movie companion Crepúsculo: El libro oficial de la película has sold over two and a half million copies. Sales throughout the world, in 39 countries, total forty-two million copies."


KRS-One to Launch Hip Hop Imprint

I have always admired rapper KRS-One, especially after hearing him say he would find refuge in the public library when he was down and out.

Earlier this month, I read that "Brooklyn-based pop culture and art book publisher Powerhouse Books is teaming up with KRS-One in a joint venture to launch I Am Hip Hop, a new imprint overseen by KRS-One that will publish books on Hip Hop and related subjects."

Read more here

And here's a little throwback, in case you don't who he is:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Your Twitter Followers Tweet Says a Lot about You

Cloud via

Margarita Engle, first Latina recipient of the Newbery Award

Great interview:

Guanabee Interviews Margarita Engle, Newbery Award-Winning Author Of The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom.

Margarita Engle is also the 2009 winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award, which honors Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books.

Congrats, Margarita!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Random Things About Me

I've finally succumbed to the pressure and although I was tagged several weeks ago here are my random things about me:

1. I've always taken really bad photos; with fingers on the lens, people w/o heads, etc.,. In 2007, as an attempt to be a true blogger and a better photographer - I bought myself a cute, compact digital camera and now carry it with me always. I think I'm getting better.

2. I have a photographic memory. I can remember things really easily by recalling the mental picture of it in my mind. I can recall definition of words by 'seeing' the image of the definition on the page of the dictionary for example. I also can recall what side of the book it was on and where on the page. It doesn't work all the time though.

3. I've always been small for my age and one day on my way to 1st grade in a windy storm the wind lifted me off the ground. Luckily, an older teen spotted me and grabbed me and helped me inside the building.

4. I'm your typical native New Yorker: no driver's license, low flying planes terrify me, I once had a serious cab habit, I get mad at Manhattan maps that end at 96th Street, I don't do Central Park after dusk, and I have ridden the S.I. Ferry for fun.

5. There's very little that grosses me out. I've owned pet worms, white mice, pet mice (that my cat caught & I rescued). I'm the person who pulls out the splinters in my family and I once asked my mom if we could give my dead fish an autopsy.

6. I bruise extremely easily. I've been bruised by people or things touching me. I wake up sometimes with bruises with the cat looking at me like "Yo no se, wasn't me, I didn't see nothing."

7. I always had really long, long hair. In fact, I had never cut my hair until I was 13. My mom cried that day. I brought my hair home in a baggie.

8. I once believed that if you swallowed watermelon seeds a vine would grow inside of you.

9. I have an aspiration to visit at least one foreign country a year, every year. So far I've been to Jamaica, Bahamas, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

10. I was 13 before anyone ever took me to a beach. I got sun burnt so badly I had blisters to prove it.

11. I started writing poetry at age 8. I also produced my own books with pictures and everything.

12. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little and also a circus acrobat.

13. In the fourth grade, I wrote, produced, and starred in the holiday school show. I was Squeaky the Elf.

14. I've worn contacts since I was fourteen. I'm getting Lasik in March.

15. I can remember DJs spinning records in the school playground at dusk when I was a tween.

16. I've always wanted to be on Jeopardy and Larry King Live.

17. I was taught to write in cursive by my mom and I could write her name before I even knew how to write.

18. The first time I was asked to hand in a typed paper - I went home and cried. I couldn't type and had nothing to type a paper on. Now, I hate to write with a pen and pad.

19. I like to buy myself flowers every once in a while. At least I know what I like...peonies, pink roses and exotic fragrant blooms.

20. I'm addicted to reality shows and networks. I can watch HGTV, the Food Network, NatGeo and other educational shows all day long.

21. I have really expensive tastes or at least an eye for them. I can spot a designer item in a thrift shop from a mile away w/o ever looking at tags.

22. The first place I ever took a trip to was Beverly Hills, California. Lisa Lisa was on my flight back home.

23. I think it's all the little things that count.

24. I once had some of my school art hang in The Guggenheim Museum.

25. Cabbage gives me stomach cramps. I must have this cabbage-hating gene. Gets 14 mil hits in ONE DAY!

Amazing, shocking isn't it? It's the stuff bloggers' dreams are made of or is it?

Is it better to be a little-read blogger or be a Internet celebrity?

I surely don't know the answer to that but it's still shocking to read that received 14,000,000 hits in one day, (compare that to Huffingtonpost's 7.7 mil at one point last month) yesterday.

News via:

Win a Copy of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula!

Stop by Patricia's Vampire Notes to read a great interview with Marta Acosta author of the acclaimed Casa Dracula series starring Milagro De Los Santos.

Poast a comment or ask Marta a question and have a chance to win a copy of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula!The contest portion ends tonight, midnight Feb. 25.

Learn more at Marta's or her blog site

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Los MacArturos

Recently while perusing I discovered a collection of of Latino/a MacArthur Fellows that include bios that she organized. In 1995, she was awarded the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship herself.

You can learn more here:

Sandra is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the publication of The House on Mango Street with a US tour starting in April. Stay tuned here:

Happy Fat Tuesday


I've been told I resemble

It's funny how people will tell you resemble someone and sometimes you see it and sometimes you don't.

I've been told I resemble:

Drew Barrymore


Isabella Rosellini
Gwyneth Paltrow

Miranda Cosgrove:

Haifa Webhe

Mila Kunis:

Rachel Bilson:

Maria Calla:

All pretty ladies if you ask me so I've taken the comments as compliments because otherwise I'd let them know they need glasses.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Books

THE ACCOUNTANT'S STORY by Roberto Escobar with David Fisher

"For the first time ever, Roberto Escobar, the surviving brother of the infamous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, tells the real inside story of the Medellin drug cartel, which was once estimated by Fortune Magazine to be worth in excess of $6 billion. Roberto knows - he was the accountant who kept track of all the money.

In The Accountant's Story, Roberto details everything: the brutal violence, dealing with American drug forces and the CIA, the problems faced against the Colombian mafia, even Pablo's moments of kindness and compassion towards less fortunate countrymen in Colombia. As his brother points out, although many people view Pablo Escobar as a monster, thousands still visit his grave every year to mourn him, and revere him as a savior."

Listen to the podcast here: theaccountantsstory_pc.mp3

Into the Beautiful North By Luis Urrea comes out in May. You can follow Luis @Urrealism.

"Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the US to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village--they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men--her own "Siete Magníficos"--to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.

Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence."

Urrea is also the author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway.

He is the recipient of an American Book Award, a Western States Book Award, and a Colorado Book Award, and he has been inducted into the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. You can learn more here:

Are You a Latina Blogger?

Carrie over at is making a list of Latina bloggers and for those of you who didn't know, a while back I made a Facebook Group for Latina Bloggers too! Please Join.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Taking Books to Heavenly Heights

Check out this very cool and somewhat vertigo-inducing panorama
Papervision's Panorama

Stuff I'm Totally Sweating

Excuse me while I indulge in a lighthearted product review:

Every Sunday (usually on Sundays) after the day is done, dinner has been cooked and eaten and I'm getting ready for the week ahead, I usually take some time and do my nails. I always get compliments on my manicure and most people assume I get professional manicures but I don't. I don't spend a very long time on my nails either, just a quick filing to keep them square and a couple of coats of hardener and polish while I watch a little TV. So when I spotted the new collection of Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Colors at Rite Aid I knew it was a product I had to try.

I have always had a box full of nail polishes at home because I like to experiment and try new colors. Luckily, I have long, slender, pale fingers that show off a variety of colors easily.

I'll never forget the time my grandmother who had toiled hard all of her life looked at my fingers and exclaimed "you have beautiful hands, like a teacher." When I asked my mom what that meant exactly, she explained and told me to make sure my hands always stayed that way. Anyhow, right before our recent getaway to the Dominican Republic I bought two of the Sally Hansen: Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Colors and fell in love right away.

The colors are bright and modern, the polishes go on sleek and shiny, lending the illusion of length to your nails and while the brush is shaped thickly and clunkily square the polish lives up to its name and dries instantly. I've been snapping up some of them every time I see them at the local stores because they aren't available everywhere and you know how cosmetic companies are notorious for discontinuing great products. I hope that doesn't happen here - great nail polishes don't come along everyday.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Most Expensive Sweater on Earth

Call me insane, well my version of insane - I'm in lust with a sweater. This is no garden variety sweater, not an Elmo sweater nor a Kanye sweater. No this is a sweater, a cardigan to be exact, that retails at $795.00 US. I kid you not.

The backstory to the problem begins when I spotted a similar sweater on one of the characters in HBO's True Blood. I fell in love with that sweater. After a short research stint on the net turned up no similar results I let it go for a little while and then...Nordstrom had a sale.

Nordstrom has a fantastic selection of shoes and bags that I have a hard time passing up. So there I was innocently browsing every item when I spotted it: the SoCa St. John Jacquard Knit Wrap Sweater.

It's beautiful but honestly there is no way that I could ever spend that amount of money on a sweater. That's more money than I paid for a 4-day trip to the Bahamas! And in this economy who would actually feel good rocking said sweater?

So what's a chica to do - well, I visit it on the Nordstrom site occasionally, like any normal sweater stalker/shopaholic would do, hoping against hope for a sale or discount. I searched on shopping search engines for another retailer to no avail and finally nothing - just another blog post and another disappointment.

Time Names the Best Blogs of 2009

While Perez Hilton and Gawker have fallen off, Cuban blogger, Yoani Sánchez made the list (although they refer to her as a man) and I can see why she's on the Best Blog list. The blog is wonderfully written and dishes on what its really like to live in Cuba and even reports on the Havana International Book Fair.

I'm also glad to see some of my favorite blogs on the list as well, it means I'm reading the 'right' stuff.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sometimes Pictures Speak for Themselves

Just when some of us were starting to feel like we have made strides in race relations in this country the NY Post offered an apology yesterday for publishing a highly offensive cartoon that depicted Pres. Obama as a dead chimpanzee.

Here's their apology:

Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.
To them, no apology is due. Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

I don't see how referring to an African American man, any man, not just one who happens to be our president, in a racist, stereotypical and caricaturish way can be seen as anything except backwards, ignorant and beyond belief. Then add to that the fact that it is currently Black History Month and the whole affair just leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. Unfortunately, for some of us it's a old, familiar bitter taste.

How far removed is the NY Post cartoon from these popular family cartoons of the 20th century?

These sad reminders/remainders of our past are from Jim Crow Museum's Collection at Ferris State University and more of them can be viewed here:

While I've never been one to read the NY Post (I know some people like it for the gossip and/or sports) I've never forgotten how one of my teacher's referred to it as a 4th grade reading level, biased dirtrag. While the apology was posted yesterday, the cartoon has cummulated into outrage online and across the nation. Some are calling for a massive boycott against the Post and its advertisers, a call for advertisers to back away, the firing of the cartoonist as seen here and here There is currently a protest scheduled this evening in front of their Manhattan HQs as well.

What are your thoughts on the topic?

Funny Friday: Food for Thought

Today I offer you some funny videos I came across this week that while comedic have a lot of truth to them too:

This parody cologne ad for a scent called Cilantro is as funny a dig on perfume advertising as it is on Latino stereotypes. It's written, directed by and starring comedic actors Roxana Ortega and Marques Ray.

Cilantro: Put It In Her Taco -- powered by

I think it's pretty funny because anyone who's ever chopped some garlic and cilantro knows that they way your hands smell afterward isn't very sexy (although my SO says he likes that smell - I think he just likes me to make stuff from scratch).

While this video comes to us from Alberto Ferreras, author of B as in Beauty, due out in April.

Ay, mi madre, the irony!

Visit to keep an eye on this talented writer.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Playing Catch-up All the Time

You ever feel like that like your playing catch up all day long and then the next day the day just rewinds? - that's my life.

“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”--The Red Queen from Lewis Carroll's “Through the Looking Glass”

I spotted a great article on James Baldwin at I'll never forget spotting The Fire This Time in the library and thinking to myself that a book with a title like that had to be good.

I attended the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference 2009 and I'll be at the DigiDay Social next month too.

You can now Join the Grand Central Publishing Latino group on Facebook.

You can browse their latest online now:

Remember to registrar for a free book from Las Comadres National Latino Book Club.

Fans of the novel AMERICA LIBRE are eligible to win an author-signed copy every month.

I saw Platanos and Collard Greens last weekend and was a tad disappointed. With all the hype, it just seemed to me like a low budget college play - great message and themes and acting but not quite enough to impress me.

I want to read this The Book of Night Women by Jamaican author Marlon James. You can watch the book trailer here. I'm currently reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

The Kindle 2 launched and guess what? Still not cute enough for me.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Hump Day News

Here are my tidbits for the week:

Love this: smARThistory - An art history "Web-book" designed and composed by art history teachers dissatisfied with traditional teaching materials. Via Clicked

SaveTheWords - This site tries to save rare English words from going into oblivion. It lists lots of rare words displayed in colorful fonts. Clicking on any word brings up its meaning and an example sentence. via

AcademicEarth - The site provides you with thousands of video lectures from world’s top educators that lecture in top universities like Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Yale. via

I came across a great new blog that focuses on Latino Young Adult books but has a great blogroll and all sorts of resources too: bronzeword

A great presentation on books, reading, and the progression of spoken word vis a vis the digital age! Did you know that reading causes the brain to grow and connect in ways that nonreaders' brains don't? I didn't. via

My cousin gave me a heads up that Push by Sapphire is now a movie! via The post has some interesting points but for me as for many other readers, Push was powerful, poignant and real. It was like The Color Purple of our time. I found it cathartic, raw, tragic and full of hope. You see I knew girls like Precious, Black and Puerto Rican, I was surrounded by them. It brought their lives and their experiences (so often marginalized as ghetto) forth into the spotlight. I'm glad it's being made into a movie, that book deserves to be in urban classrooms across America.

Rumor is the Amazon will introduce kindle 2.0 next Monday. Amazingly, Amazon is calculated to have sold half a million Kindles last year! I have a word of advice for the people who make these ereaders... can you make them sexy, pretty, shiny things to be coveted? You know, like the iPod. Because personally, as gadgets go, they're ugly! Sorry, even the Sony Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Harlequin eReader released just in time for Cupid's love fest doesn't get me all hot and bothered. Imagine, if they were actually pretty!

From the department of Yes, We Can news: Sons of migrant Farm Workers Found a Promising Silicon Alley StartUp.

It's African American History month! Celebrate your favorite African American authors and books everywhere. Not too be missed: Breena Clarke, author of Stand the Storm: A Novel, on NPR “Weekend All Things Considered” interview airs on Sunday, 2/8.

Sad News: Criticas Magazine To Close. I'm hoping they will let the online site stay since they just relaunched it but I haven't heard a word about it.

I came across this Spanish Book TV site and it looks great!

I finally got tickets for Platanos and Collard Greens we're going on Valentine's Day. It was either that or In the Heights but you know I don't really care for musicals and if I go see it maybe I will wait until we discover whether it's true or not that JLo might star in it.

"Nikki Giovanni decribes herself simply as "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." Throughout her 30 year career, the poet has amassed awards, recognitions, publications and honorary degrees. On Thursday, she will talk to Leonard Lopate about her most recent poetry collection, "Bicycles." Listen Live: Thursday, February 5 at noon, 93.9 FM and 820 AM on The Leonard Lopate Show." via WNYC Sound Affects

I recently saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona and I'm dying to see some of the other Oscar nominated films. I don't think I can bare to watch them back to back for hours on end but this seems like a cool deal for die-hard cinéma-fanatiques or something to do when the weather is yucky: On Saturday, Feb. 23, the AMC Best Picture Showcase ($30) will let you waste your entire day watching all five nominees — Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Juno and No Country for Old Men — back-to-back at 81 select AMC theaters. The admission also includes a free large popcorn with unlimited refills all day. via
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