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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Diary of a Spanish Student

Diary of a Spanish Student

I have just discovered what could be the biggest technological leap forward in the learning of foreign languages. This new high-tech device will undoubtedly improve my Spanish at an exponential rate and I am looking forward to the quick results. The new technology is the FM radio on my new MP3 player. I listened to Spanish radio all day yesterday and I feel that even after one day my Spanish listening comprehension has improved. I probably should have started listening to the radio long ago but I suppose that my Spanish is just now reaching the level where I am able to actually understand broadcasts in Spanish.

I brought an iPod with me for the purpose of listening to music and books on tape in Spanish. The iPod met with a rather untimely demise after I dropped it my first week in Valencia. Piece of shit technology. Besides the iPod, I have thus far lost two laptops, a 300 gig external hard drive along with everything on it, a digital camera, and some odds and ends. Planned obsolescence is the phrase that comes to mind when I think about my dead tech objects. I suppose that none of these things—with the exception of the external hard drive—were actually meant to live very long.

I want to put audio books in Spanish on my MP3 player but I haven't had much luck finding them. I have dozens and dozens of recorded books in English but have so far only downloaded three in Spanish: Isabel Allende's novel La Ciudad de las Bestias, Don Quijote, and The Da Vinci Code (how to be insulted in TWO languages!). I listened to about five chapters of the Allende novel yesterday. Not a particularly skillful work but I understand almost 100%. The reader speaks with a Latin American accent—not any sort of a problem but I would prefer a Castillian accent being the snob that I am. If anyone reading this knows where to track down more audio books in Spanish, please point me in the right direction.

I watched Stephen Soderberg's Che: El Argentino about Ernesto Guevara's revolutionary struggle in Cuba. This movie seems to be the inspiration for the fictitious movie Medellín in the HBO series Entourage. It is Soderberg's white whale. He seems to have shot the epic without a script as the movie is without much of a story besides the backdrop of the Cuban revolution. There are a lot of parallels between the Che and Medellín especially the part about the final product being somewhat of a disaster. I enjoyed Che for what it was, a language tool for better understanding Cuban Spanish. Benicio del Toro was superb in the movie and even looked quite a lot like Guevara. The movie makes me want to go to Cuba and smoke enormous cigars (I can live the Cuban cigar fantasy right here in Valencia).

I am reading the Mario Vargas Llosa novel Conversación en la Catedral which isn't good, it's absolutely grand. It is the best stream-of-consciousness novel I've ever read. William Faulkner's stories just never resonated with me. Vargas Llosa remains one of my favorite writers in any language.

P.S. My turtle seems to have developed a rather unhealthy relationship with one of the sea shells in his new tank. I think he has made the shell his prison bitch.

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