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Web Log Archive

Postings 141 to 145

Log #145. Christmas Starts Now

Madrid's xmas lightsThe city's Christmas lights have been set-up and switched on. This year the ayuntamiento (city council) says it has made an extra special effort to bring in each and every shopping street although naturally the biggest and brightest displays can be found in centre town and the shopping hotspots of Serrano, Goya and Ortega y Gasset.

Retiro park has a couple of big fir-trees set-up with electric neon decorations and the 4Torres skyscrapers have been illuminated as well - which can be seen from some distance. Traditionally, one of the biggest and best seasonal decorating jobs is done on the main El Corte Inglés flagship store in Preciados. People always make a detour to check out what the theme is each year (and sometimes, if in luck, catch some freeby presents thrown out by Santa).

Log #144. ¡Por qué no te callas! Part II

Quick as a flash, the latest must-have ringtone for mobile phones is a soundclip of King Juan Carlos's hilarious put-down of Hugo Chavez (see log#143 below). Gleefully played on all the early evening news talkshows the phrase has become an instant classic.

Log #143. ¡Por qué no te callas!

Today the Spanish newspapers are all covering the same story on their front page. In a terrific finale to the end of a three-day boreathon Ibero-American summit being held in Chile, King Juan Carlos told total loon Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela: "Why can't you just shut up?" It was a beautiful, beautiful moment. Even more so because the King used the diminutive form of the verb 'to shut up' which is normally used when addressing annoying children. For an all too brief second Chavez was left gawping like a goldfish.

The exchange took place with all the government leaders were sat on the main podium while Spanish Pesident Zapatero delivered his final address. Despite the fact that his turn had finished, Chavez would not stop talking and he just kept droning and on, with some insulting words for Spain and its former president Aznar. Everybody on the podium were rolling their eyes and Zapatero was trying to keep calm and politely asking for Chavez to finish, and then the King made his interjection. Pwned!

The evening TV news bulletins kept playing the event over and over. Great stuff!

Reyggaeton Remix

Log #142. Non-Funky New Billboards

An example of the new billboard screens in Madrid. Loads of new advertising billboards with large screens have started popping up around the city. They're rectangular in shape and range in size from 3x2 metres to 12x4m, and there's a strip version at 4x1m. The authorities have authorised a company called Clear Channel to build 899 of the things in total and run them for ten years, for a price of 160 million euroweenies.

Naturally, the socialists on the council have objected, with the IU claiming they will impede pedestrians and create distractions for drivers. It's what PJ O'Rourke calls the Liberal Safety Nazi tendency whereby human beings are regarded as nothing less than incompetent idiots who need to be told how to live by interfering busybodies from the government. Oh my God! It's a big screen with an ad on it! Shit! I just crashed my car into the monumental fountain in the middle of the fucking road! The PSOE are on stronger grounds with their objections citing various procedural problems with authorisation. Apparently, approval for this project was whipped through very quickly and certain executives at Clear Channel have strong connections with the ruling party (PP). Amongst the general public, the biggest complaint is that the screens are old fashioned. With the sort of technology available these days they could have at least gone digital.

The billboards are dubbed pantallazos, which sort of translates as 'big screens'. A pantalla is a screen, a pantallazo a bigger version. Get it? The Spanish add 'azo' at the end of nouns to make things 'bigger' or 'greater', e.g. mi coche = my car - mi cochazo = my super fab car. ¡Gol! = Goal! - ¡Golazo! = Stevie G thirty-yard screamer into top corner.

Log #141. Public Holiday in Madrid

Today is a public holiday in Madrid (only here, not in the rest of Spain) - we're celebrating the Virgin of Almudena who is the city's patron saint. They're big on virgins over here. Keeping your legs crossed seems to guarantee at minimum a decorative fountain constructed in your name. Cunningly, Madrid has two saints - a male and a female - so we get 2 of these holidays every year. Even more cunningly, each barrio has a patron saint so you get local holidays as well. If you live on the border of 2 or 3 barrios you can get an extra 3 days off each year. It's a wonder anything gets done!

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