If you have completed the QUIA workbook and laboratory exercises and have attended "La mesa de Español", and you need more minutes to satisfy your lab requirement (100 minutes a week), you can do any of the following activities for minutes and post your comments in the blog:
  • Película/Programa de TV: Watch movies/TV shows in Spanish and write a short show or movie about them (a brief explanation of the show and your opinion about it) 50-75 words – worth 50 minutes of labtime,
  • Ex. Title format: Película: "El Laberinto del Fauno" (50 lab minutes minutes)
  • Evento: Attend an event related to Hispanic culture and write your comments about it 50-75 words and post pictures in your blog. – worth 100 minutes of lab. Ex.Title format: Evento: "Hispanic fest St. Louis" (100 lab minutes)
  • Otro: If you have any other ideas/suggestions, check with your instructor to see if this will count as lab minutes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Película: Maria Full of Grace

I recently sat down and watched Maria Full of Grace. The movie was made in 2004 and was directed and written by Josh Marston. The movie is about a woman from Columbia, Maria Alvarez, who is forced to work in a sweat shop to support her family. Maria is faced with some very difficult situations, which forces her to quit her job. She looks for a new job when she is offered a position to transfer drugs. This will make her a lot of money, but is very dangerous. The job requires her to swallow a capsule full of drugs and she is ordered to transfer them to New York City. Maria Full of Grace is a heartbreaking story. The amount of pain and suffering Maria has to go through is awful. It is a very good and interesting film though. I watched this movie at home, but I think the SIUE Foreign Language Lab was offering it to watch for lab minutes! I recommend that everyone watches this movie!

-Ashley Kurtz

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"The Orphanage"

So last Saturday night, October 2nd, as I was finalizing my plans for the evening and enjoying a delicious adult beverage I found a movie in my collection that I had not seen before. Wrapped in plastic, unopened “The Orphanage” was looking me square in the eye. I couldn’t even think of what this movie was about so I pulled it from my stack and read the description. As a fan of horror movies I was not surprised to find it was a psychological thriller. At this point I could barely contain myself I was so excited. It had been quite some time since I watched a new movie. To my astonishment the movie was in completely in Spanish, which might explain why it was unopened. At 8:00pm I had just enough time to pop this bad boy in before I was off to get crunk. I killed the lights and prepared to be freaked! The movie focuses on a small family consisting of Laura, Carlos, and their son Simon. Simon suffers from some illness I believe might be Aids. We learn that Laura was an orphan, at this point Laura, Carlos, and Simon return to her former orphanage with plans of reopening it. Laura wants the oprhanage to cater to sick children like Simon. Almost immediately upon arriving Simon develops and immaginary friend; Tomas. Some of the things Simon says about Tomas are strange and a little disturbing yet his parents believe it’s just his imagination and let it go. Laura seems to not believe this theory and gives the impression that there’s something else going on. At a party celebrating the opening of the orphanage Simon goes missing. Everyone searches the property but to no avail. Carlos and Laura separate because Carlos disagrees with Laura’s theory that something “supernatural”is happening. Long story short Laura discovers a sercret room inside the house where she finds Simon’s body at the foot of some stairs. At this point Laura decides it’s time to die and takes a bunch of pills and kills herself. Carlos returns and finds Laura and Simon dead. Before Laura died she took a necklace off that Carlos gave her for luck until she found Simon. Carlos turns around and sees Laura and Simon together which symbolizes him making peace with the death of his wife and son because he knows that are safe together in the afterlife. All-in-all I think the movie was really good. I enjoyed the story, it was kind of scary and interesting but was easy to follow and explained everything in the end. I thought I was in a bit of a pickle considering the movie was entirely in Spanish but I was able to keep up pretty well and understand what was going on.

-Mike Boerner

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Película: "Frida"

"Frida" is a movie released in 2002 about the life of painter Frida Kahlo (played by Salma Hayek.) The movie was made from the book Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera. The movie begins in Mexico City during 1922. Frida is living her life as a normal 18 year old girl. An accident on a trolley leaves Frida being unable to walk. Unable to walk for a period of time, she turns to painting to help relieve the pain and anger.

After gaining her strength back to walk, she goes and talks to Diego Rivera who is painting at her school. She asks him to criticize her work. Diego tells Frida she has potential and she continues on to paint with him. Frida stays around Diego because he is a good mentor for her and after a short while they end up becoming romantically involved. Finally, opportunity strikes! Frida and Diego go to the United States to paint a mural in New York City. Diego and Frida run into some troubles along the way, which sends them back to Mexico. Frida and Diego have a very rocky relationship because of many things, especially when Diego is unfaithful. I don't want to give to much away! The story is so enticing!

The movie is centered around the relationship of Frida and Diego. Two painters, both entirely different, but brought together by their passion of painting. Frida experiences a lot of trouble in her life but it only makes her a stronger person and a more passionate painter. Overall, the movie was really great. I was kind of depressed watching it but Frida Kahlo is an excellent painter and her story is inspiring. I recommend everyone watch Frida.

-Ashley Kurtz

(For more literature about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, go to page 68 in Capitulo 1 in our Spanish 101 textbook Dos Mundos.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Entre Nos"

"Entre Nos" is an inspiring story about a single mother raising two children in a foreign country where she does not speak the native language. Mariana brings her two children to New York to be reunited with their father who had immigrated to the United States for a job. They live in Queens for a while in bliss but soon her husband is offered a job in Miami. He says it will be just like before, he'll set up a home for them, save some money, and then they can move to Miami to be with him. He never calls to set up the moving date after he settles in Miami. Mariana finally talks to a mutual friend and finds out her husband had no intention of bringing his family to Miami.

This movie is full of heartache and passion. Mariana is so desperate to find a decent place to raise her children and make it in a city where she does not know anyone. The script was very well written and the acting was marvelous. Anyone in Mariana's situation, understandibly, would give up hope. Mariana never loses hope.

Caitlin Huddleston

¡Hola mis amigos!

Well guys September 11th was a beautiful day to be outside. The sky was clear and the temperature was just right. Some friend and I decided to boot, scoot, and boogie on over to Soldier's Memorial Park in St. Louis to take in the Hispanic Festival. I was excited to go because Hispanic cuisine is always so flavorful and delicious.

Not being ashamed of drinking before 3pm I splurged for a margarita served nicely in a fish bowl. As a fan of Patron I was weary of drinking any other brand of tequila but was pleasantly surprised by the tastiness of my margarita.

While guzzling down my ice-cold beverage we perused the various tables around the festival.

Throughout the festival dancers would come to the front of the stage and demonstrate traditional Hispanic dances. I would have to say I enjoyed watching them cut a rug.

As the day went on I began to get hot and grew increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of perspiration I was dealing with so we decided to bounce. In keeping the with Hispanic theme of the day my friends and I dined at a small restaurant west of the city called Las Palmas. I chowed down on chimichangas and one heck of a good taco salad and to keep the party going I helped myself to one strong margarita made with black tequila. What a HOOT of a day it was!

-Mike Boerner

"Sin Nombre"

"Sin Nombre", directed and written by Cary Fukunaga, follows Saraya on her journey to the United States. Saraya is a Honduran teenager who has just recently been reunited with her father who wishes to bring Saraya and her cousin back to the United States with him illegally. Her father plans that they should be able to make it to the Mexico/ Texas border on the back of a freight train.

"Sin Nombre" also follows a teenager named Willy who is pledged to a violent and dangerous gang. Willy considers MS13 to be his family until it's leader kills his girlfriend and Willy begins to question his loyalty. The leader is also questioning Willy's loyalty and takes him on a mission to test him. They board the same train top as Soraya and her family and begin robbing everyone of their belongings and what little money they have. When the leader finally makes it to Soraya he threatens to rape her because they have no money to give him, Willy stabs the leader and shoves him off of the moving train.

Word makes it back to the second in command that Willy murdered their leader and they send several different groups to track him down and kill him. Soraya begins to fall in love with Willy, but he fears for her safety because he knows that he is a dead man walking.

I absolutely loved this movie. Fukunaga did a wonderful job filming this movie. The shots are wide showing the landscape as the train passes through Middle America and creates a lovely setting. Although the movie has a dark topic, the colors are bright and lead the viewer to believe that there is hope for the two runaway teens. I watched "Sin Nombre" in Spanish with English subtitles and was very excited to find I could understand some of what they were saying without the subtitles.
Caitlin Huddleston

Sunday, September 19, 2010

STL Hispanic Festival

On Friday September 17th, I headed to Soldiers Memorial Park in downtown St. Louis for the annual Hispanic Festival. The evening was a bit dreary, but all of the festivities really brightened up the night!
The scene was filled with beautiful and lively hispanic music, people dancing their hearts out, delicious feed, and margaritas galore! Here are a few snap shots of the event...

This was early on in the evening, and that little old lady up front stole the show! She had some mad dancing skills!

Up next, meet the contestants for this year's Miss Hispanic Festival competition. Lovely lovely ladies!

Dinner time! Dos tacos del pastor, y dos tacos de carne. Los tacos son muy rico!

I had to try a margarita.... and it was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

I spent the evening downtown with a friend, and had dinner with two men that were also enjoying the festivities. One of the gentlemen had spent a few years doing art excavation in some of the indigenous regions of Guatemala. He told us countless stories of crazy the interactions that he had with the people he met while he was working there. We had a really wonderful time hearing all of his tales about driving through the mountains, being welcomed into homes for meals, and learning about ancient indigenous art techniques. The world is so full of rich cultures and amazing people... It was really great to get a taste of that in good old St. Louis.

Festival of the Nations

On Saturday August 28 I went to Tower Grove park in St. Louis for The Festival of the Nations. While I was there I got a nice little taste of Peru...

I spent this past summer living in Lima, and made it a point to scout out as many Peruvian things that I could while at the festival....
I split a nice big Peruvian style lunch with my boyfriend. We had some delicious arroz con pollo con ensalada de cebolla, an anticucho de carne, and a papa rellena. La comida de Peru es muy rico!

And now on to my favorite part of the afternoon... INCA KOLA. INCA KOLA became one of my favorite sodas this summer, and I was quite overjoyed to be able to have some here in St. Louis. (I even brought a 6-pack home with me!)

After lunch we hung out at the main stage and were able to see a few dancers perform some traditional Peruvian dance...

While I was there I learned that there is a Peruvian cultural group in the city and was invited to look into it and check out some of the gatherings they host sometime. I really loved Peru while I was there this summer, and I think that I would absolutely love to look into visiting some of the events in the city sometime!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Amores Perros

A few days ago I watched a very interesting movie named Amores Perros. It is three stories that have no relevance to each other until one scene when each story is tied together.

The movie begins with a man named Octavio (on the far left). He is in a terrible car accident and then the movie cuts to three days earlier. He is in love with his brother's wife. Octavio also begins to earn a huge amount of money through entering his dog in dog fights. The second story is about the woman in the middle. She is a model who is married to an older gentleman and having an affair with a younger man who she decides to move in with. This is the woman who Octavio hits. The man on the left find the dog after the accident and takes him in. He is a hitman that is hired to kill an important man.

The message behind this movie is to show that love (for people, money, etc.) makes people do crazy things and can turn your entire life around.

-Danny Newgent

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fui a una fiesta de cumpleaños!

On September 5th, 2010, I attended a little boy's birthday party. Currently, I am dating a MEXICAN :) man and his entire family speaks no english at all. I have been with the same person for 3 years and every time there is a party for a special occasion, many parties like this occur. It is a great listening experience for me and I think i'm starting to actually pick some of it up! :)

The birthday boy is on the left, and my boyfriend's brother is on the right :)

Pinata time! :D

My family! :) I'm behind my sister on the left!

In my boyfriend's family, at every birthday party, it is tradition for the birthday boy/girl to get their face put in the cake! The kids really like when they do this!

I think Jesse enjoyed it too! :)

And here's Jesse and his Mom!

Overall, the birthday was a great time! All the kids had fun and Jesse made out like a bandit with gifts! :)

Feliz cumpleaños Jesse!

Ashley Kurtz
SPAN 101-009