Nyan Cat aka Pop Tart Cat

My 10 year old recently discovered “Nyan Cat” – also known as, “Pop Tart Cat.”

Nyan Cat aka Pop Tart Cat, created by illustrator Chris Torres

He likes cats and weirdness, so he became a little obsessed. Soon he was playing Nyan Cat games and watching Nyan Cat videos.

The other day, while seeking more Nyan Cat thrills, he came upon the Mexican Nyan Cat.

“Do you like it, Mommy?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s cute,” I said.

“Do you want a Salvadoran Nyan Cat? I’ll find you one!”

I explained to him that because Mexicans are the dominant Latino population in the United States, a Salvadoran Nyan Cat wouldn’t exist, but I appreciated his thoughtfulness. Minutes later he called me back to the computer.

“If I found a Salvadoran Nyan Cat would you want to blog it?”
“Sure, but honey, I already told you——”


[Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. For English, scroll down! If you participated on your blog, leave your link in comments!]

Muy temprano en este año descubrí un video por internet de un juego hecho a mano que me hizo sentirme muy emocionada. Era un pedazo de madera, plana, con clavos medio metidos – y los niños estaban tomando turnos en empujar un centavito con el dedo. La madera representa una cancha de fútbol, los clavos son fútbolistas, y el centavito es la pelota.

Video credit: ZBalge

Enseñe el video a Carlos y me dijo, “Ah, sí, eso se llama fútbolito. Eso tenemos en El Salvador. Tal vez un día voy a construir uno con los niños.”

Bueno, olvidamos de fútbolito hasta que fuimos a El Salvador y miré uno en venta en la calle. Claro que lo compramos – y mejor porque este fútbolito es bien hecho. Se juega con paletas y una canica.

El fútbolito que compramos en El Salvador / The fútbolito game we bought in El Salvador.

La parte más chévere es que la cancha está bien decorada con la bandera de El Salvador.

Nuestra familia se diverte mucho en tener una Copa Mundial de Fútbolito cada fin de semana.


Earlier this year, I discovered a video on the internet of a homemade game that got me really excited.

It was a flat piece of wood with nails hammered halfway in – and the kids were taking turns flicking a coin with their fingers. The wood represents a soccer field, the nails are the players, and the coin is the ball.

I showed the video to Carlos and he said to me, “Oh yes, that’s called ‘fútbolito.” We have this in El Salvador. Maybe one day I’ll make one with the boys.”

Well, we forgot about fútbolito until we went to El Salvador and I saw one for sale on the street.

Of course we bought it – and it’s a good thing because it’s really well made. This one you play with popsicle sticks and a marble.

The most awesome thing about this fútbolito is that the field is well-decorated with a flag of El Salvador.

Our family has a lot of fun playing “Fútbolito World Cup” tournaments each weekend.

Best of the NY International Latino Film Festival

The HBO® New York International Latino Film Festival presented its 2011 awards at a ceremony this past Sunday. The NYILFF feature documentaries and films in English and Spanish, which reflect “America’s cultural diversity as well as the global urban experience.”

If I could pick which films I’d like to show up in my Redbox machine, here are the ones I would choose. (Because seriously, as much as I love Redbox, I would love them even more if they took out some of the mindless movies and added some more films and documentaries.)


Description: “After a decade of living in New York, 30-year-old Antonio returns to his native Costa Rica for a short visit. When events force him to stay, he is confronted with everything he has desperately struggled to put in the past: a broken family, an ailing father and a violent country. Unable to run away as usual, Antonio must come to terms with his past in order to take hold of the present and build a better future.”

After coming back from El Salvador and knowing friends going through the same thing – this film really resonates with me. Plus the trailer made me literally laugh out loud when he said, “Deje de comer papaya y vaya emprima mi pasaporte!”


Description: “Hector, a troubled teen from the Harlem projects, forms a surprising bond with Lilly, a lonely girl who feels trapped in the restrictions of her Upper East Side life.”


Description: “Fewer than six in ten Latino adults in the United States have a high school diploma. Precious Knowledge is the unbelievable and inspiring story of high school seniors in the Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School. 82% of the students in the program will graduate and go on to college. Their journey will astound you.”


Description: “In the ancient cobblestone streets of Cuzco, Peru, a postcard-selling street kid, Pablo, encounters a 12-year-old American girl, Mary. Her fascination with the Andean culture, alongside his desire to understand a life beyond his own, helps them transcend the language barrier. As their innocent curiosity grows into young love, their lives will intertwine in ways that will alter them forever.”


Description: “A coming of age story reflective of our cynical times, Blacktino gives an honest — and hilarious — depiction of high school life as seen through the imaginative eyes of a bi-racial computer nerd, Stefan Daily, and his misfit friends, Laura Vega and Matt Miyamoto. Raised by his black grandmother in an Austin suburb, Stefan struggles to find his place in a mostly white high school, finally finding sanctuary among the eclectic mix of social outcasts in the theater department.”


Description: “A Mexican immigrant, recently arrived in America, visits a flea market. He spots Lupita, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Lupita reminds him of Mexico, of the Virgin Mary, of his mother. With no money in his pocket, he decides to steal a gift and win her heart.”


Description: “When their daughter runs away, America’s abusive lover unleashes his rage against her. Fleeing her home in the Caribbean, America escapes to New York City hoping for a new life. There she works as a nanny for a wealthy family. She befriends three nannies — a Mexican, a Colombian and a Dominican –and with their help, as well as support from relatives in the Bronx, America is determined to bring her daughter back to her. But as she dares to dream of a life without violence, reality hunts her down.”

I remember reading this book and this looks like one of those rare instances when the film is just as good.

Description: “In the airport of some Western nation, a group of Ecuadorians are pulled out of line and arrested. Among the group waiting to be deported is Prometeo, a young man in possession of a trunk filled with magic — which is fortuitous, since illusion may be their only way out.”

(I wish they’d make a Salvadoran version of this one. It looks hilarious though I don’t know much about Ecuadorians.)

Many more amazing films at the New York International Latino Film Festival website. Chécalo!

¡Que vivan las panzas!

Most people have at least heard of The Vagina Monologues, even if they haven’t seen it. The Vagina Monologues was a one-woman show which told stories about the vagina – with the intention of celebrating the vagina and empowering women.

Now we celebrate the panza with The Panza Monologues. (“Panza” is Spanish for “belly”.) Written by Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga, performed by Ms. Grise, these stories told in Spanglish, are not only diverse and at times hilarious – they are emotionally stirring and empowering.

It’s probably amazing to see Vicki (Virginia), perform live, but I was at least lucky enough to watch her powerful performance on The Panza Monologues DVD. I loved it so much that I wanted to share one of my favorite parts with you. Vicki gave me permission to post the written scene. If you love it as much as I did, please, check her out, buy her DVD, and if you’re able, go see her live.

Panza Power blog
About the show: The Panza Monologues
Buy the DVD



[Lights rise.]

(seductively) I wasn’t always big. I use to be cha-cha thin, tall and skinny like my gringo daddy. I would wear tacones – black with straps that reached across my ankles, boots that stopped short of my knees, diamonds across my feet. Tacones – upper leather, suede, alligator, snake, all leather and in different colors- brown, red, cork, biege, gold, green, black, blue even. Tacones that matched the dresses I wore, dresses that always fit my body, showed shape, whether they were long with slit on the side, in the front, in the back / separating my piernas, or short, showing my thighs. Me and my tacones.

[Vicki stands, pulls the tacones [high heeled shoes]
out of the shopping bag.
Holds them up for the audience to admire.]

And they weren’t puta shoes / girl, they were classy. Tacones made me feel taller. Somehow tacones made me feel stronger, more sure of myself. Not submissive or anti-feminist but like the virgen in a Yolanda Lopez painting, karate kicking out of her blue veil with gold stars, stepping on the head of an angel with her tacones. Pues yo tambien. I throw punches for my raza and I can do it with my tacones on too just like the old school cholas use to do.

[Vicki places one foot on the stool
and begins to put her tacones on.]

And the men, the men were scared of me when I walked into the cantina made up / hair swept, red lipstick and tacones. You see, men like fuckin but they don’t like bein fucked and when I walked in I wuz the one doin the choosin. I didn’t sit back in dark corners waitin for someone to ask me to dance. I asked you. Locked eyes and said “You will dance this polka with me,” sometimes without even sayin nuthin.

Other times I’d say, “Fuck all of ya’ll” and take the dance floor at Daddy’Os all by myself

[Music erupts into full blown conjunto.
Vicki dances across the stage, swirls, turns.
Music lowers, Vicki remains standing.]

They all watched / old school vatos, young cholos, graduate students trying to remember their hometown barrios in a bar east of the freeway, forgetting in between too many beers. Hell even the cholas were lookin. Some worried I’d take away their man. Others, shit others just wanted to dance wid me. Be free. Be free like me.

They say a bar is a man’s space but I owned that motha fucker. I walked in with my own go-go juice in blue bottle cuz my dad once told me, “Beer makes you fat Virginia,” so I drank vodka on the rocks, learned how to play pool “Call your shots. I’m not fuckin around.” And I learned more about community politics/who owns who, who runs what than I could of ever learned workin at a cultural center.

I claimed power through my pussy, and I didn’t even have to let any one in. I just had to let em all know I knew I had one and that I controlled my own cho-cho. Ya, I owned that motha / fuckin bar / ‘till the city tore it down after li’l Danny got cut.

[Vicki sits.]

I use to be cha-cha thin. Proud of my calves, well-defined. Calves that did not look like my mother’s calves. My mom’s calves were more like tree trunks. Her whole body was like one huge bloque. My mother gave us everything, everything but I never remember her having anything. Instead of tacones, she wore chanclas. She use to threaten us with her chancla and it didn’t matter if she were big and old, she could still bend over, take off her chancla, grab us by the arm, and meternos un chingaso, real quick like/good ol’ fashion chancla discipline. My mother use to say that my father wanted boys. We were three girls. My mother never said what it was she wanted. That was her way I guess. I’m not sure if my mom ever loved my dad but I grew up thinkin that women that fell in love were weak.

I never thought my mom was pretty, even when she was younger and I never wanted to look like her but slowly the image of my mother crept into my own body. Slowly after too many two o’clock after closin time tacos, candy bars and coke for breakfast. They startin callin me dis—short for gordis—instead of la vicki. Cha-cha became panza and not little panzita even. The whole body grew and you know, it’s not easy balancin this much woman on an ity, bitty heel. I no longer walked real straight and tall. Hell, I looked more like a weeble, wobble. All my weight on a heel as wide as my pointing finger with my foot arched in the middle. I feel the weight of my panza all the way in the ball of my foot. When your panza gets bigger so do your feet and those thin sexy straps that use to hold your feet well they aint that sexy no more. You’ve got these little lonjitas hangin off the side of your shoe and it causes your feet to swell. It’s like they’re chokin, pulsatin, gaspin for air as they struggle to balance all of you on a tacon. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really feel so strong, so sure of myself anymore. Shit I’m scared I’ll fall when I’m dancin and the people that are lookin at me now are starin because they’re scared if I go too low I might not be able to get back up. They’re worried I’ll hurt someone out there.

There’s somethin classy about cha-cha/medias and tacones but when cha-cha becomes panza and you think you can still pull the same shit you could when you were 21, you just look kinda silly. You loose your tacon super powers and your magic slippers really are just puta shoes. Your dress clings tightly to lonjas and you can’t lock eyes with anyone anymore and talk to them without speaking cuz now they only look at your huge chi-chis and well chi-chis just aren’t as powerful as cho-cho. I don’t know why. Who makes these rules?

[Seductive music rises. Lights dim.]

[During the transition, Vicki sits on the edge of the altar, takes off her tacones and replaces them in the shopping bag on the altar. Vicki remains seated.]

© 2004 Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga
No part of this script may be reproduced, published, or performed without express written consent of the authors.

Disclosure: The Panza Monologues was provided to me for review at my request. All opinions are my own.

Win or Lose, a Day to Remember

I’ve now had two days to recover from the Copa Oro games we went to on Sunday, pero todavia estoy completamente rendida.

The night before, I couldn’t sleep, half from excitement and half from anxiety about the tickets. Following the wise advice of a friend, we arrived hours early at the stadium. (Gracias to Rudy, who we actually got to meet briefly at the game.)

We went straight to the “Will Call” window and I gave them my I.D. I watched them shuffle around and come up empty-handed. I watched them check and re-check. I knew this would happen. They apologized that they didn’t have tickets for me under my name. I called the number of the on-site manager that State Farm had given me in case I ran into problems – he assured me he had the tickets on him. When we met him in the parking lot where State Farm had set up, true to his word, he had the tickets. I resisted kissing him and instead let him tell me about some of the fun things they were doing there.

I talked with someone about the sOccket ball and she showed me how it worked. I also got to check out the State Farm iPhone app, Kick4ACause which allows you to donate electricity just by playing the game. [See video of me playing]

As Carlos and I decided what to do next, a mini-Salvadoran pride parade broke out. Of course we joined in.

The parade went around the parking lot making all kinds of noise. At one point we clashed with a group of panameños, but after dancing with them for awhile, the parade continued on, much to the bewilderment of gringos trying to tailgate in peace.

When gringos tried to interact with Salvadorans though, the Salvadoran response always made me smile. When gringos shouted “U.S.A.!” – the Salvadorans didn’t feel threatened – they joined them in chants for the red, white and blue. I wonder if this made an impression on anyone in that parking lot who had expected a different reaction – to realize that it’s possible to have enough love for the place of your birth, language or culture – but feel equally proud of the country you now live in.

After the mini-parade we sought shade and a late [very expensive] lunch inside the stadium. We found our seats and waited.

Salvadorans seemed amused by my "Guanaco Pitbull" shirt, but I didn't realize how confusing it would be for non-Salvadorans, who seemed to puzzle over what it meant.

While waiting, I observed a lot of Salvadorans who came prepared to not only cheer on El Salvador, but the United States as well. Many wore La Selecta T-shirts, but carried American flags. The “U.S.A.!” chant was alive and well in sections full of Salvadorans during the U.S. vs. Jamaica game.

The game itself was great, but the sky was so cloudy that I wasn’t able to access Twitter on my phone which was frustrating.

After the United States won, we were all full of happiness and hope for El Salvador.

Hearing the crowd sing the Himno Nacional de El Salvador made me tear up a little. To look around and know that all these Salvadorans were here together even though many, like Carlos, were far from their homeland… It’s difficult for me to put in words.

Being at the actual game instead of watching it on television is a unique experience. I’ve watched a lot of Salvadoran fútbol games on T.V. but never heard the crowd whistling in unison. Salvadorans have a unique way of whistling, (I wish I had caught it on video), but when you have thousands of people doing this, it sounds sort of like a forest full of parrots.

Speaking of whistling, at one point in the game, a Salvadoran player fell on top of a Panamanian player in a position that looked somewhat compromising. This got some funny responses from the crowd which I won’t repeat, but you definitely don’t get that on T.V. either.

As for the game – La Selecta missed a lot of opportunities on the field, but they did get this penalty shot which was very exciting.

Another highlight for me was seeing a guy run across the field with the Salvadoran flag. I know that’s frowned upon but it amused me, (and he was really fast. Maybe La Selecta should draft him?)

An unidentified man carries an El Salvador flag as he runs on the field during the second half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Panama and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(You can’t see on my video, but you can see in others that the Panamanian goalie threw the U.S. flag out of the goal. That’s what the booing was about at the end of the video.)

El Salvador was ready to win… and then Panama scored a goal in the last minute… at least they say they scored a goal. I’ve watched the replay two dozen times and can’t decide if it was good or not. If only there was video of it from the other side – pero ni modo, what’s done is done. There’s no use being bitter about it.

Okay…maybe a little.

Cover of El Diario de Hoy / Deportes

Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the game:

As you see, some guys had a banner that proclaimed Zelaya to be better than Chicharito. While I was there to support La Selecta with all my heart, I’m not so sure I agree. My Pitbull didn’t do much better. The game was full of excitement, tense moments, joy, disappointment – the poor Salvadorans around me went from elated to crushed over and over again. One guy often took his frustration out on the empty stadium seat in front of him. By the end of the game I was kind of surprised he hadn’t managed to rip it out as he repeatedly pounded on it screaming “P*TA! P*TA! P*TA! HIJUEP*TA!”

Carlos was calmer than that though I heard him say a few choice words under his breath after the final penalty shot shoot-out decided our fate.

Win or lose, it was an amazing experience. I know it was particularly special for Carlos. I asked him what it felt like being in the stadium surrounded by so many Salvadorans. He said it reminded him of home and the games he used to go to with his friends. The good thing about Salvadorans is that even though Carlos didn’t have his old friends with him, the guys seated around us were more than willing to fill-in for the day. I know Carlos to be a mostly quiet guy, but when he’s with other salvadoreños he opens up and is actually quite talkative. I love to see him uninhibited like that. [ Read Carlos’s post about the day here.]

The game came to an end, but the brotherly love was far from over. On the way out of the stadium I was nearly crushed, (this panicked me for a minute but I knew Carlos would throw people left and right if I were in any danger.) … Then we missed the first Metro train because it was impossible to fit anymore people on it. We waited twenty more minutes for the pleasure of being crushed on the next train. Besides myself, I think there was only one other woman on the train – it was packed with young men wearing blue, and all of us, (myself included), were in serious need of some deodorant after a long day in the sun.

Despite the heat, lack of personal space, exhaustion and loss of the game, the group on the train remained in good spirits.

“Yo soy salvadoreño!” shouted one man still full of pride and warrior spirit, “Soy guerilla!”
A man from the other side of the train answered him back,
“Guerilla mi c*lo!”

(Don’t ask me to translate it to English. Somehow, it’s not as funny like that.)

Disclosure: I attended the Gold Cup games at the invitation of State Farm. All opinions are my own.

Salvadoran “mosca” hunting

When I blogged about the many uses of chanclas, I mentioned that Carlos goes “mosca” hunting with the kids. He can’t stand when flies get into the house and when he spots one, he demands that everyone work together to kill it immediately.

(From the original post): I hear it multiple times per week in the summertime: “There’s a fly in the house! Get a chancla!” … Maybe my husband and kids are weird, but they go fly hunting. They wait until it goes into a bedroom and then the commotion starts, “She’s in your room! Close the door! Quick!” (For some reason my husband always refers to flies as “she”. I guess because the word for fly, “mosca”, is feminine.) … Sometimes the hunt can go on for a good 20 minutes. I’ll hear the chancla hit the wall with varying degrees of force. Sometimes the fly’s escape will be blamed on one of the children, (“You were in my way! I almost got it that time! Move!) and finally, the much awaited killing occurs with much celebration.

Well, last night, while I cleaned up the dinner dishes, someone opened the door and let a mosca in. Predictably, the hunt began so I set up a hidden camera so you could see, I’m not exaggerating in the least. Here is a fairly normal evening with the López family. (Apologies in advance for the generous view of my cleavage. I had taken the boys to the pool earlier and hadn’t changed my clothes.)

Los Americans

I really want to watch this new web show on PIC.tv. It starts tomorrow (May 26) … Check it out:

Show description:

Los Americans is the story of a modern, affluent, suburban Mexican-American family living in the United States. The Valenzuela family is totally assimilated in U.S. American culture, and that’s the way the patriarch, Leandro Valenzuela, or “Lee” as Leandro prefers to be called, likes it. He’s moved on from speaking Spanish and the ways of the old country. As he proudly says, “We’re not Mexicans. Mexicans live in Mexico. We’re Americans.”

Lee is right in that he and his family will face many of the problems and challenges all Americans face, that all human beings face – unemployment, homelessness, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, abortion, immigration, childhood obesity and others. But Lee will also face another problem in that he has forgotten his native language and moved away from his culture, ultimately losing part of who he is and where he comes from, and he will learn that maybe this is not such a good thing. Welcome to a story about real Americans… Los Americans.

The cast of Los Americans

What do you think?


Watch the show online and find out more at PIC.Tv/LosAmericans
Los Americans on Twitter