Saturday, June 27, 2009

The 1st Portuguese

This is another no-budget big production, brought to you by Bloguistan to honor the 1st King of Portugal - King Alphonse I - the man who dreamed to start his own country and actually achieved that, within his lifetime, with flying colors. This is his epic, true story.

Born in the early years of the 12th century, his father was a French nobleman and his mother the youngest daughter of the King of Castile (Spain). His parents were the administrators of the Portucale County, edged between the Atlantic and the Kingdom of Leon, it was basically the current North of Portugal down to the town of Coimbra.
To the South layed the Moors.

Much of what happened back in the day is hazy as the chronicles are scarce and mixed with legend.
There is still much debate about King Alphonse’s birth place, his early years and his physical constitution - some sources say he was born frail and sickly, others that he was a “giant”, others that he was in fact puny but was either replaced in childhood by another boy or simply was a late bloomer and also thanks to a divine intervention got stronger as he grew up – well it’s a matter for debate even today, because his tomb was never opened. Almost happened once, but some bureaucratic/political/stupid decision prevented the studying of the remains, at the last minute…

Legendary is also the fierce independence feeling that was apparently passed through the generations in the area. It had been the centre of a short-lived Germanic (some people say Slavic) kingdom, ruled by the Suevi (probably from Swabia other people say from the word Slavic).

What is certain is that Count Henri, his father, was already involved in the separation of his county from the northern county of Galicia. Young Alphonse continued his work but took it to the next level.

Galicia, once in the periphery, was now concentrating the political and religious centres. Things got to the point where the Galicians came to Braga, the once capital of the Suevi Kingdom and highest priory, and they translated the holy relics of the saints buried in Braga to Santiago…
The Portucalensis barons and clergy decided they had enough of it and would not become second-best.

Young Alphonse couldn’t read nor write but he was from start a shrewd man. He had it all, basically. He was so full of courage and confidence and defiance that he armed himself a knight at age 14. Then he entitled himself Prince. From there it was a straight arrow to leading armies against his Christian “oppressors” and the Moors alike.

He succeeded in liberating many important towns like Lisbon, and doubled the size of the county he received from his father, in little more than 20m years, making it a Kingdom – and thus, Portugal was born. Without King Alphonse, there wouldn’t have been the age of discoveries (at least when and as it happened); there wouldn’t be a Brazil, so the world and football would be very different than it is… :D

Friday, June 26, 2009

The King of Pop

My first music album was Thriller.
It was well before my teens but I was really impressed.
An older cousin of mine had Thriller and he made me terribly jelouse - he had that slick album that not only had great music even a kid could like, it had lyrics printed on it too!
Next day I asked my mom to buy it for me. I still have it today. I started learning English from it and it has been the soundtrack of my Summer holidays in the 80's till I discovered Scorpians and Dire Straights (yeah, my Summers were quite drepressing).

Anyway, I was not Michael's most die-hard fun but I didn't en joy see him called "Wacko Jacko".
As I grew older he grew wearder, but what was worse, in my view, was that his last great album was "Bad" - I was 16 if I'm not mistaken.
After that, Michael Jackson became kind of a footnote for me. I would hear about him in the news but didn't really pay a lot of attention.

Yeah, he was a guy that wasn't easy to understand but we weren't really trying as well.
When that documentary came out and Michael was taken to Court, I was acctually sorry for him. I can't say he was inocent or not ; but I do believe he was inocent at heart. Only someone so completely "inocent", naive like only children can be, could actually turn to the interviewer and say with upmost honesty that he slept with children on his bed and add something like: "wouldn't you?" like it was the most natural thing in the world to do.

In his world of Neverland it was. He may not be Peter Pan but he probably was like little King Arthur (only the pure at heart could lift the sword from the anvil)...
In our devious, dishonest adult world, no, it's not natural and cannot be tolerated; but in his "neverland" world, in his lost childhood, it may be possible that a unique person, an artist, a dreamer, a child trapped in a grown up's body, could acctually see no harm in sharing a bed with another child.
Just because we are tainted doesn't mean that everybody's like that. A burp after a good meal, is considered rude in most places; in China is expected, and rude is the guest who doesn't rip one out.

I know that Michael settled out of the Court, but probably most famous people would be advised by the lawyers to do that just to avoid the media circus.

I don't acctually know how to explain his most bizarre choices and actions. Even Bubbles probably acted more wisely than his master...
I mean, we all understand that he had a "tough" upbringing and felt lonely and misundertood, but so did thousands of people in this planet and they don't end up looking like Skeletor...

Nevertheless, he hadn't turn stiff for long and people were coldly insinuating that he did this and was that... well, this kind of malice, I don't think Michael had. But, at the end of the day, what really matters is that he will be remembered for his talent, his music , and above all, his moonwalk...
Michael Jackson, the uncontested King of Pop, has joined the other king, Elvis Presley. They have left the building but live on in their artistic legacy. RIP.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Welcome back, Conando! :D

“In the year 3000, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will merge into one super time-wasting Web site called YouTwitFace.” -Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ALGARVE by Lift and Escalators

Albufeira (Ar. "Castle of the Sea")

Albufeira, in central Algarve, is a great place for holidaymakers that fit the following profile:

- any basically breathing, warm or cold blooded creatures, especially those that like basking in the sun on the beach during the day and tour the bars and clubs at night.

But this is not your run of the mill holiday location... this one is so unique that, until proven differently, it's the only place in the world one can actually take either a lift or the softly rolling escalators down to the lavishly clear sands of the beach and the inviting greenish-blue waters...

It can't be a coincidence that the word "lazy" in English and "lazer" (leisure) in Portuguese are no excuses not to leave the old wheel chair behind and go have a swim.

The worst thing about Albufeira old town (centre), is really the "waiters" (now I know why they're called that) acctually waiting outside the Restaurants and soliciting passers-by to go into their Restaurants quite vehemently...

If you aren't into that at all and care for a more relaxed, posh holiday site, then you can still go to Albufeira but stay in the outskirts. There are many clear-sand, greenish-blue water washed beaches nearby.
One of them is Vilamoura. Famouse for its Marina, it's a delight to go down the boardwalk, day or night.

I went in April, which, on one hand is good because there are no crowds at all, but on the other hand, the weather is a gamble - one week can be just like summer, another week windy with springtime showers. Nothing a heated swimming-pool and some great warm food can't cure, though.

In the stomach department I do have to recommend "O PESCADOR" (The Fisherman) in Vila Real de Santo António - a bit out of the way but well worth if you have a car. It's right near the border, in front of the river, overlooking Spain.

Obviously I suggest the fish - any of the day's specials; but if you like seafood and are not squeamish about what that animal on your plate looks like, then ask for "Arroz de Lingueirão" ( Rizzotto with a narrow-shelled Mollusk, picture in the video).

Have a great summer!