Thursday, July 26, 2007

Colombia, Gwen Stefani Showdown, and the Simpsons Movie

July 20th is Independence Day for the good people of Colombia. I assumed that some amount of fireworks or other impressive festivities would ensue. Instead, the population seems to treat this as any other government holiday that doesn't specifically touch their lives. Yes, everyone gets a day off work, and there is a noticeable increase in national flags, but that was about the extent of it. There is a government sponsored parade that normally occurs in Bogota, however even this entertainment was robbed from me. It seems that Nicaragua has been expressing interest in gaining power over the Colombian island of San Andres for some time now. The national parade was held on the island as a statement that those people are Colombians too. One parade. In the whole country. On an island...

What I did get to see was some sort of anti government demonstration parade walking down the streets(one would think that the government might have just a smallish parade to prevent this demonstration from happening.... but hey, its their country). As I couldn't fully understand what these people were whining about, the most impressive part of the action was the police that were assigned to the march.

Pretty cool crowd control vehicle with a water cannon. Looks like it has seen some past action.

Phalanx of policemen on the march.

We later made a visit to the Museo Nacional. I love museums, but without any written translations anywhere, much of the information was lost on me. One of the most memorable exhibits were mummified natives had had been scrunched into the fetal position and stuck in holes in the side of cliffs. Pretty crazy. I took a few shots of the random artifacts that I thought looked interesting.

The museum's exterior had a stately castle look to it.

"Crab people, crab people, taste like crab, look like people."

Looks like an ancient advertisement for a Coca flavored soft drink.

An interesting story began to unfold one Saturday morning. I had watched a bit of the local news, and it seemed that Gwen Stefani had just arrived at Bogota airport. I still find it amusing that even famous people are occasionally subjected to the same torture as the rest of us at airports, so I watched a bit more then moved on with the rest of my day. That night we all went to Andres Carne de Res(the website is awesome and constantly changes, give it a look). It is a pretty awesome restaurant, with a decorating style the likes of which I've never seen. Even the menu is weird: a small scroll inside a metal box. One must turn one of two handles on the box to scroll through the abundant menu items. Theres an account of my first visit to this place in the 5/7/07 article (accessible through the archive tree to the left of this article). Anyway, on with the story. So aside from being an awesome place to eat, Andres turns into a pretty happening dance club when the sun goes down. People everywhere, hard to walk around: it took us forever to scavenge a table despite our reservation. At one point in the night, the music stops, and there is an announcement. "Someone as important as Shakira is here and wants a table. If someone would give up their table that would be great". (Things to bear in mind: #1 Shakira's hometown is Barranquilla, Colombia. #2 She is the highest record selling Colombian artist of all time.) We all speculate about who it might be, but none of us care enough to go look, and when the music starts up again we all forget the incident. Some time later, the music stops again, bearing another announcement. "Gwen Stefani has left because she couldn't get a table," along with a comment like "we are happy that important people want to party here, but you are all important too." The next song to play on the dance floor was Sweet Escape by the old Gwenster. I laughed my head off about this for a time, remembering the earlier TV coverage. Not only that, but for the rest of the trip, just about every Coca-Cola product that I put my hands on featured advertisements for the Coke-sponsored Gwen concert occurring that Saturday. Very entertaining.

Sweet Escape Music Video

I originally thought this picture was a good way to illustrate the genius of the Colombian practice of handing out little plastic gloves when serving messy foods like hot wings. It also has a bonus Gwen Stefani advert in it. Hehe

"Sorry Gwen, we got here first"

Yesterday I attended an early screening afforded to all of the Springfields that didn't win the (fixed!) contest to host the premier of The Simpsons Movie. I give the movie a so-so review, only because I love the Simpsons and I wasn't blown away. The animation quality was noticeably beefed up with the help of computers, and everything was looking spiffy. No extra hoopla at the showing by Springfield dignitaries, unfortunately.

Springfield, ILLINOIS! Recognize

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