Friday, July 6, 2012


On Sunday, like most inhabitants of Spain and of Europe at large, I watched the Euro Cup final.  Naturally, I was rooting for Spain.  I tend to get anxious when watching important sporting events on television, so I was both excited and relieved to see two beautiful goals in just the first half.  This meant that during the second half, I could relax and enjoy the show as Spain dominated defensively, and just to be thorough, snuck in two more goals once Italy was a man down in the final portion of the game.  It was an impressive display of Spain’s characteristic finesse, and immediately after the game, sportscasters were already dubbing the Spanish team possibly the best national soccer team ever.

While I take a greater interest in soccer than your average American, I am still a casual fan, only watching full games when they’re important enough to be on TV.  Here in America, that means pretty much just the World Cup and the Euro Cup and occasionally the Olympics.  So even though I like soccer and I watch it when it’s on, I cannot begin to appreciate the significance of this win to an actual Spanish fan.  For the last few months, if Spain has been in the news, it has been mentioned in the same sentence as the word “bailout.”  Thanks to this team, when Spain has been mentioned on the news, it has been in the context of an unprecedented championship victory.

Considering that Spain is a country of enthusiastic fans at any time, I know that these difficult financial times make this win sweeter than a Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA title combined.  Congrats, EspaƱa, and I’m hoping for more Spanish championships in the future!


  1. I just found out about Spain's biggest contemporary Fiction Author:
    Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    Sounds like you need to read at least one
    book to be fashionable.

  2. The Prisoner of Heaven: A Novel

    by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    Reviewed by Gabriel Constans | Released: July 10, 2012
    Publisher: Harper (288 pages)

    “. . . exquisite . . . dead on”

    The Prisoner of Heaven is a killer. The story has heart, menace, torture, kindness, cruelty, sacrifice, honor, and a deep devotion to what makes humans tick. Nothing is out of bounds and no emotion is left hidden in the recesses or characterizations of Daniel Sempere, his wife Bea, and Daniel’s devoted friend Fermin Romero de Torres in mid-20th century Barcelona.

    The past and present intermingle with possibilities of terror, loss, and hatred, as does the opportunity for forgiveness, release and repentance.

    The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in the series, of which there will surely be another, and continues the story of booksellers, writers, dictatorship, civil war, family secrets, history, and individuals struggling with right and wrong.

    Carlos Ruiz Zafon clearly has Barcelona and its everchanging weather in his bones, as it seeps through the pages with traditional clarity and simultaneous screams at authority.

    Contrition is not easily given or accepted; pretense is seldom tolerated; and contrived conclusions or expectations rarely fulfilled.

    An exquisite example of Mr. Ruiz Zafon’s ability to summarize a character’s reflections about a situation is exemplified when Fermin declares, “If there’s going to be a flavor in vogue in this age of butchery, it will be the stink of falsehood and urine disguised in a thousand euphemisms.”

    This sense of defeat and hopelessness is also conveyed when Fermin tells a doctor in prison, “Sometimes one just gets tired of fleeing. The world’s very small when you don’t have anywhere to go.” There are moments when Daniel and/or Fermin have nowhere to hide from their circumstances, figuratively or literally and the sense of helplessness and vulnerability this creates for readers is poignant and raw.

    Despite moments of longing and desire to give up when they see nothing but pain and suffering in their future, all of the protagonists cling fiercely to living and finding ways to make hope and change a reality for themselves and those they love.

    The underlying compassion and love that Daniel has for his father, wife, friend, and son is palpable, as is Fermin’s for all those he encounters, even some inside the hellhole of Montjuic Castle—a notorious prison for Franco’s foes, those who complained about the status quo or winked at the wrong person at the wrong time—where he is mercilessly imprisoned.

    The Prisoner of Heaven moves like a bullet train. There are few stops along the way (three to five pages for each chapter), and the end of one section jumps headfirst into the next, leaving you no choice but to leap ahead and not stop running (or reading in this case).

    This story, filled with those who have killed or are being threatened to be killed, is dead on. It is not necessary to have read the previous books in the series (though the original The Shadow of the Wind is a masterpiece), as this story stands upon its own merits with clarity and strength. The only shadow that falls upon The Prisoner of Heaven is that readers have to wait for the author to continue his creations and will not find out what befalls Daniel, his family, and friend Fermin until the next book is written.

  3. Two statistics to keep in mind as you head toward SPAIN:
    Summer 2012 in Spain

    Unemplyment 25%

    Sales Tax 21%

    These figures imply the existence of a large black/grey market.
    Get use to the idea of bartering and haggling with street vendors
    for almost every daily need. Great way to master your command
    of street lingo.

    We saw University of Miami JOHN. He mentioned that he bumped into Amanda in the mall. Our only question was were you two willing to smuggle him in your luggage when you go to Spain.

  4. Haha, John already had his shot at Spain! He took an awesome trip through Spain and Italy last summer, so he got his chance! :)