On Fictional Immigrants, Accents & Why We Like What We Like

I’ve mentioned my love for Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) and his accent, on more than one occasion, but yesterday a thought occurred to me – a sort of, “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” sort of question. I wondered, was it already pre-programmed within me to like accents and Ricky Ricardo just happened to be the first to ignite it? – Or was there something about Ricky Ricardo that created a preference for that specific quality?

Whether it’s accents or ice cream flavors, who can really say why we like what we like? Maybe a psychologist or brain specialist of some sort would be able to explain this better – I’m not really prepared to delve into that today, or probably ever.

What I do want to talk about are fictional immigrants in film and television, as well as actors putting on an accent which is not native to them, because these are stories and characters I’m very often drawn to. There’s a fine line between creating an authentic character and one that reinforces stereotypes, but I’ve had some favorites over the years. Here they are in no particular order.

Actor Bronson Pinchot played the very loveable Balki Bartokomous on the sitcom Perfect Strangers. Balki was supposed to be from a fictional island in the Mediterranean Sea called Mypos. Pinchot is an American actor born in New York.

Actor Tom Hanks played Viktor Navorski of the fictional country Krakozhia in the movie, The Terminal. Tom Hanks was originally born in California, and you probably already know what his regular speaking voice sounds like.

Actor Adhir Kalyan played Raja Musharaff, a Pakistani exchange student sent to live with a family in Wisconsin on the TV show Aliens in America. In real life, Adhir Kalyan was born in South Africa and speaks with a lovely South African accent.

Actor Naveen Andrews played Sayid Jarrah, an Iraqi character on the TV show LOST. Andrews was actually born in London, England and is of Indian heritage. His regular speaking voice is with a British accent.

Can you think of other actors who played characters from fictional countries or who put on an accent that wasn’t their own?

Chicharito and #WorldCupWives

Oh my! Chicharito, you like white bread? Why didn't you say so? Aquí estoy, guapo.

Oh my! Chicharito, you like white bread? Why didn’t you say so? Aquí estoy, guapo.

Image source: Gary Denness

This morning, up before the sun, I grabbed my phone and started going through email before I was even out of bed. I don’t really encourage this habit, but some days, like today, I will come upon something in my email that puts a smile on my face and wakes me up on the right note.

The smile on my face this morning was put there by a video posted on Mi Blog es Tu Blog, (which I subscribe to because Laura Martínez is awesome at discovering really interesting and often hilarious things.) The video she posted is actually a re-blog of something she discovered back in 2011, but I’m glad she re-blogged it because I had never seen it, and maybe it’ll be new to you, too.

The video was uploaded by a creative young woman by the name of Brittany Young, who is apparently a soccer fan, and a Chicharito fan in particular. (A girl after my own corazón!) – The song is set to The Beatles’ “Let it Be” and is called “Little Pea.” ¡Me encanta!

I actually heard a rumor that Chicharito may play for Barcelona, (Chicharito and Messi? Hello, unstoppable team!) so I hope we can anticipate a Javier Hernández tribute song to the tune of a Julio Iglesias or Gypsy Kings song. Anyway, while we’re on the topic of Chicharito songs, have I ever shared “El Chicharito”? – I don’t think I have. Be prepared to have this stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Jajajaja…

Carajo, while we’re here, let’s just make a Chicharito playlist.

Okay, not really – those are actually the best Chicharito songs, so I’ll stop there, but since we’re talking about fútbol, I wanted to mention a new project one of my fellow gringa bloggers is working on called “World Cup Wives.” Sarah of A Life With Subtitles and her friend Katie are going to be doing some video commentary of the games this summer. Apparently their husbands tend to be “less than enthusiastic” regarding their comments on players’ cuteness, family lives, attractiveness of uniforms, and such. (I understand where they’re coming from because I’m probably going to have to pay for that little piropo I made at the very top of this blog post about “white bread.” Carlos won’t be amused.)

Anyway, you can see the first #WorldCupWives blog post here and the first video here, (both are hilarious and worth checking out!) … If you’re a blogger and relate to being a #WorldCupWife, you’re also invited to share a post or video about how you were introduced to the world of soccer using the hashtag.

Less than 50 days to go until the start of the games! Until then… El Chicharito, el Chicharito, el Chicharitoritoritooo!…

Note: I am not an official sponsor or partner of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Any mention of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ was editorial in nature and should not be interpreted as an endorsement on their part of myself, my opinions, or this website. I am just a soccer fan sharing with other soccer fans. All opinions are my own.

Libros for All Kids

meg-medina-books

Hola! This is a guest post by Cuban American author, Meg Medina, as part of the Latinas for Latino Lit 2nd annual Día Blog Hop, which we’re proudly participating in for the second year in a row. Check it out! (And then check out the other L4LL’s Día Blog Hop posts from other Latino/a children’s and YA authors.)

Libros for All Kids

A guest post by: Meg Medina

Something happened to me recently at the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference that gave me a glimmer of hope against the dismal  - and now familiar – news that we are still publishing too few kids’ books that feature Latino characters.  

I had been asked to talk about my young adult novel, YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS.  It earned the Pura Belpré medal and the CYBILS Fiction Award, among other nice distinctions, and it was one of the measly two percent of children’s books by or about Latinos that was published last year.

If you’re unfamiliar, my novel is set in Queens, New York, and is the story of 16 year-old Piedad Sanchez who finds herself in the cross-hairs of a school bully.

After my talk, a librarian named Erica came to find me. It’s always such an honor when someone tells you they connected with your story. But I was especially happy to hear from her. She grew up in suburban Wisconsin with all brothers. There were no Latinos to speak of in her world.

“I read your book and I thought, oh my God, that’s my story.”

I could have kissed her whole face.

She’s right, of course. It is her story. It’s her story exactly the way Charlotte’s Web once felt like my story as a kid, even though I’d never seen a live pig and I lived two-hundred miles from the nearest farm in New York.

It’s no secret that I write stories that feature Latino kids and their families – the whole glorious ajiaco that I grew up with and that shaped how I move through the world.

But I do not write stories only for Latino kids. I write books for all kids about the universal problems of growing up. You remember that horror, don’t you? The frustrations with your family? Being betrayed by peers? Falling in love with creeps? To me, it doesn’t matter if a girl is named Fern or Piedad. What really matters is that her story is told with honesty and compassion.

When I think of books and what we want reflected in them, I say that it’s wise to cast a wide net. All kids benefit from stories that not only affirm their own experience but that also that allow them a peek at those same experiences through a slightly different lens. The magic of such books is in that beautiful spot where the unique and the universal hold hands like good and faithful friends.

meg-medinaMeg Medina is an award-winning Cuban American author who writes picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction. The first American citizen in her family, Meg was raised in Queens, New York by her mother – and a clan of tios, primos, and abuelos who arrived from Cuba over the years. She was the fortunate victim of their storytelling, and credits them with her passion for tales.

Meg’s work examines how cultures intersect through the eyes of young people, and she brings to audiences stories that speak to both what is unique in Latino culture and to the qualities that are universal. Her favorite protagonists are strong girls.

Her books are: MILAGROS GIRL FROM AWAY; TIA ISA WANTS A CAR, for which she earned the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award; THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, a 2012 Bank Street Best Books; and YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS, which was the winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Medal, which is presented annually by the American Library Association to a Latino writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

When she is not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or literacy. She lives with her extended family in Richmond, Virginia.

Follow Meg’s blog at www.megmedina.com

Connect with Meg on Facebook and Twitter

Calles de Tierra

Image source: Flickr user Mircea Turcan

Image source: Flickr user Mircea Turcan

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Descubrí un hermoso poema escrito por un poeta mexicano sobre la vida en la zona rural de México que quiero compartir. Aquí está:

Calles de Tierra

Nunca voy a olvidarme del rancho
siempre voy a sentirme orgulloso
como extraño sus calles de tierra
cuando bebíamos agua del pozo.

A las cuatro los gallos cantaban
a las cinco ladraban los perros
a las seis el molino da vueltas
y al trabajo van los jornaleros.

Un pedazo de tierra sembrado
Cuatro vacas, un puerco en engorda
Una yunta jalando el arado
y mi apa’ desgranando mazorca.

El comal con la leña del cerro
y mi abuela torteando a las siete
los frijoles hirviendo en la hoya
y mi abuelo afilando el machete.

Un sombrero viejo y maltratado
tres camisas y dos pantalones
los huaraches ya están desgastados
pero no me da vergüenza ser pobre.

Nunca voy a olvidarme del rancho
siempre voy a sentirme orgulloso
como extraño sus calles de tierra
y a las señoras con su rebozo.

Bueno, tengo una confesión. Esta “poema” es en realidad letras escritas por Espinoza Paz. Sé que algunas personas desprecian a Espinoza Paz. Algunas personas lo llaman “naco” y no ven su valor, pero yo quería demostrar que cuando uno lee estas letras como un poema de un poeta anónimo, se puede ver la hermosura de las palabras; uno puede ver que hay corazón y talento detrás de las palabras. Esta es una lección, espero, en no juzgar basada en la superficie de las cosas; mejor buscamos más profundo e intentar una perspectiva diferente.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I found a beautiful poem written by a Mexican poet about life in rural Mexico I want to share. Here is my translation of the poem to English (which doesn’t do it justice):

Dirt Roads


I’ll never forget the ranch,
I will always be proud,
How I miss its dirt roads,
When we would drink water from the well.

At four o’clock the roosters crowed,
At five the dogs barked,
At six the mill spins,
and the laborers go to work.

A piece of land sown,
Four cows, a pig being fattened,
Oxen pulling a plow,
And my father threshing corn.

The griddle with the firewood from the hill,
My grandmother making tortillas at 7 o’clock,
The beans boiling in the pot,
And my grandfather sharpening the machete.

A hat, old and battered,
Three shirts and two pants,
Sandals that are already worn out,
but I’m not ashamed to be poor.

I’ll never forget the ranch,
I will always be proud,
How I miss its dirt roads,
And the ladies with their ​​shawls.

Okay, I have a confession. This “poem” is actually lyrics written by Espinoza Paz. I know some people look down on Espinoza Paz. Some people call him “naco” and don’t see his value, but I wanted to show that when one reads these lyrics as a poem by an anonymous poet, you can see how beautiful the words are; one can see that there is heart and talent behind the words. This is a lesson, I hope, not to judge based on surface things; we should instead look deeper and try a different perspective.

Bohemian Shakira-style Brass Washer Bracelet

bracelet_latinaish_604

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

I don’t know why, but whenever I see an armful of pretty bohemian-style bracelets I think of Colombian singer, Shakira, and she’s the inspiration for this bracelet made of simple yet surprisingly elegant-looking materials. Cotton string and brass washers are re-imagined into a piece of jewelry that will be sure to attract attention and compliments. With the holidays soon upon us, this is an idea you may want to add to your list of crafts to try. It’s affordable and quick to make, plus your favorite amiga, hermana, sobrina or prima will be sure to love it.

Bohemian Shakira-style Brass Washer Bracelet

What you need:

10 to 20 flat brass washers (small #8S, Blue Hawk/HILLMAN)
string (Blue Hawk twisted cotton twine)
scissors
sticky tape

Directions:

1. Cut 4 pieces of twine to 4 feet long.
2. Tie the pieces together at the top leaving about 4 inches above the knot. (See photo below.)
3. Tape the knot to a surface to secure in place.
4. Tie string #1 around strings #2 and #3 in this way: String #1 goes OVER strings #2 and #3 then comes back UNDER strings #2 and #3, then over itself.) Pull gently so the loop moves up and tightens at the top. (See photo below.)
5. Tie string #4 around strings #2 and #3 in the same way as described in step 4. (Note that strings #2 and #3 always remain together in the middle.) Repeat step 4 and step 5 about five to six times.
6. Slide a washer onto string #1 or #4 (alternate) before tying around strings #2 and #3. Repeat step 4 and 5 before adding another washer. Keep repeating steps 4, 5, and 6 until bracelet is long enough to tie around your wrist.
7. Tie the bracelet off the same way you tied the strings together at the top in step 2.
8. Cut off any undesired excess string.
9. Bracelet is worn tied around the wrist, (I double knot it to keep it from falling off.)

The supplies

The supplies

The method.

The method.

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Desi y Lucy en What’s My Line?

desiwhatsmyline

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Hoy descubrí videos de un programa de juegos de la década 1950 que se llama “What’s My Line?

En este juego, un panel de personas que están con los ojos vendados hacen preguntas para adivinar la identidad del invitado famoso.

Lucille Ball y Desi Arnaz ambos han aparecido en el programa y fueron divertidos como siempre. Me gustaría que este programa todavía existiría.

Desi

Lucy

Desi y Lucy

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Today I discovered videos of a game show from the early 1950′s called “What’s My Line?”

For this game, a panel of people who are blindfolded ask questions to guess the identity of the celebrity guest.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz both have appeared on the program and were amusing as always. I wish this program still existed.

No moleste

Image source: Flickr user Justin Shearer

Image source: Flickr user Justin Shearer

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

¿Han oído hablar del comediante Tig Notaro? Un tiempo atrás escuché su historia conmovedora en NPR y me encantó tanto que me puse a buscar a los vídeos de su comedia. (Todavía quiero comprar y descargar “Live” – que sigo escuchando muy buenas críticas.)

Éste vídeo me hizo reir tanto, y porque incluye español, sabía que ustedes lo apreciaran también.

(A propósito, hay una camisa que dice “no moleste” en venta!)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Have you heard of the comedian Tig Notaro? I heard her really touching story on NPR awhile back and loved her so much that I started looking up videos of her comedy. (I still want to buy and download the “Live” set I keep hearing rave reviews about.)

This one had me laughing so hard, and because it includes Spanish I knew you guys would appreciate it too.

(By the way, there’s a “no moleste” shirt!)