Monday, April 13, 2015

Guanajuato: Viol da Gamba Comes to Town

To be up close to the musicians, try an early concert at Maz+Ahuas, the gallery in Casa Cuatro..Last Saturday at 7, at a da gamba concert, I decided the angels in heaven don't play harps, they play the instrument I was hearing. This  time, there was no paper program, I don't know the name of the musician I heard, only that he and the keyboard player during the latter part of the concert will be playing with Armando Lopez' Los Tiempos Pasados in this year's Cervantino Festival. For this concert, he was dressed conservatively in black, but with roguish dark sunglasses perched on his head.

Like a cello, the viol de gamba (viol of the leg) is played, yes, between the legs but a closer look shows how the two instruments differ. With the viol da gamba,: the player holds the bow palm up, the instrument has a flat not rounded back, has no stand supporting it on the floor, six strings rather than four, and what is not apparent to the eye, it is tuned differently.

Thanks to a tip from another writer covering the Cervantino Festival a few years ago, I went to hear Jordi Savall, the world's most renowned viol player and his group play music from the age of Cervantes. How happy I was to have another chance to hear beautiful music written centuries ago for this instrument. Let's not forget it was contemporary music then!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Guanajuato Theatre: World-class Evening at the MIQ

One Friday each month is Theater Night at the Museo Icónografico. If the line for last Friday's performance in Spanish based on estadounidense David Mamet's The Duck Variations (!Patos! Historias Desgraznadas) was typical, arrive a little before 7pm to insure getting a ticket.

At the MIQ, The museum patio serves as the stage, with the audience sitting on two sides, so the audience is in an intimate setting close to the actors.

When Mamet wrote this two-character play, he was in his thirties, but already with a command of dialogue. Two old men sit in a park, talking about almost every subject under the sun. Somehow they keep bringing ducks (which neither know much about) into their conversation. So, even when the theme is death, the two couldn't be more alive, playing off each other

Bruno Ruiz adapted the work, in which he and Kaleb Osguera played the characters as young men. They worked together as if they were trapeze artists, both of them masters of physical theatre, timing, expression and their lines.

The set and props were simple and the lighting effective, with the visible, topical ending coming as a great surprise. Thanks to Carlos Vidaurri who arranges the theatre programs at the MIQ  and to the Mexico City team who brought this Cervantino-quality production to Guanajuato.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Guanajuato: first of the yellow corn

Oh, but I love the corn on the cob I grew up with! Available now along calle Alhondiga near the main bus stop. On a stick with the coatings of your choice - cream, mayonnaise, grated cheese, chile. Or in the interior of the Embajadoras market, ready to boil or microwave.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Guanajuato to Celebrate el Día internacional de la mujer Sunday, March 8

Head for the Jardin on International Woman's Day, always a lively scene.

You will see the tables set up under the trees where women have come into town to sell their wares. I always head for the jam at the table set up by the Santa Rosa Women's Cooperative. By the way, it's doing very well these days, thanks for a partnership with a Mexican business that buys much of what it produces, but they will still change your pesos into jam or wine.

By the way I'm also a fan of the goat cheese a woman sells Thursday and Sunday mornings outside the Mercado Hidalgo (left side looking toward the entrance.) Unpasteurized, but I've never had any problem, although I have with the cheese she sells made from cow's milk.

postscript: Turns out the big hit of the day was the Guanajuatense singing group, Hijas de la Guayaba, who performed son at a special concert at El Museo del Pueblo. The chapel was full and the music captivating, some of it accompanied by dancing. What a group of accomplished women--and music is only their avocation!. .
Three Hijas backed by Chavez Morado's mural

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Guanajuato food during La Cuaresma (Lent)

Last Friday when I went by Lauri's restaurant, located at the beginning of Paseo de la Presa just past where the buses come out, I was surprised to see that no one was eating pozole, the usual Friday offering.Why?

Because we are now in the Lenten season and every Friday Lauri offers a Lenten menu (maybe the other days too, I'll check today). Shrimp-tomato soup (big shrimp in this restaurant), nopales and fish; capirotada, the sweet bread pudding of the season for dessert. Comes with tortillas and agua fresca. Informal seating below where you can watch the action, more formal above. 55 pesos.

To read more about Mexican food during Lent, see the photos and explanations at Mexico Cooks! Look for capirotada in other restaurants too. Each cook makes it differently but the basic ingredients are dry bread, eggs, piloncillo, raisins, cloves and a sprinkling of cheese.

The viernes de dolores,  when students party and everyone eats ice cream, is March 27, two days before Palm Sunday. The holiday is especially meaningful to the mining community. If you go to to ex-hacienda in Cata, you will see the seed painting there and take your turn in line for your ice cream cone.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Moon will be full tonight after Cine Club

Look up when you come out of Cine Club's Turkish film tonight even if you don't stay for the whole film--this one's three hours long. This cycle of international films is NOT at the usual place but at the Principal instead.
Starts at 4 & 7:30.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Good news for me . . . and I hope my readers

As some MEXIGUANA readers know, I publish online. Today I received an acceptance from Mad Scientist Journal for a fake classified ad for a past-o-tron. I'll even get a token payment. The ad will appear in the summer edition of this witty webside that parodies science writing every week..

A reprint of my flash fiction story, The Revenge of the Pasta, is due online later this month on Indiana Voice Journal. I sneaked in because my family vacationed in the Indiana dunes one summer...

My story Dr. Octopus, that I read locally at an open mic night here, will appear mid-month on Short Fiction Break..

Sunday, February 01, 2015

European Clown Yann (Jan) Costa at the Juarez tonight 7pm

One of my favorites. Here's a photo I took of him at the Off-Cervantino a few years ago. The event tonight is probably free; part of the Festival of Urban Actors.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cine Club UPDATE: Tonight's Leviathan (Russia) starts at 4:30, 7, 9:30

Note the times. This long movie received eight stars on IMDB . The.main character, who lives in northern Russia by the Barents Sea, attempts to keep his repair shop despite the bureaucratic cards stacked against him. Said to have wonderful cinematography and two slow scenes but mostly fast-paced. Without music except two pieces by Philip Glass.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

University of Guanajuato Cine Club's Annual International Film Festival

UG’s Cine Club annual International Film Festival is underway in the small theatre Euquerio Guerrero at the back of the patio between the main UG building and the Compañia church.

Image result for Ida film images

After looking at the program notes online, my top pick is, Ida, a Polish film shown to a small audience during the Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF) last summer.At the time, I was told the film would start a half hour late; when I returned in twenty minutes, I had already missed the beginning. 
I plan to go to this powerful movieagain on Sunday, February 1--and not just for the part 1 missed.. 

As the producer explained at the Juarez in July, getting the film funded took years; no one wanted to back a film to be made in black and white. The producer and director stuck to their guns, resulting in this film with its period feel. It has two intertwined themes, the decision facing a novice nun who learns her Jewish family brought her to a convent when she was a baby to shelter her from the Nazis, and the bitter look backward by her aunt, who took part of the harsh Communist regime that controlled Poland after the Second World War.

Shooting the film in black and white (blanco y negro in Spanish) was an inspired decision. A leading Polish actress plays the aunt. The young woman playing the nun is on screen for the first time.

The festival ends February 7, with each film shown for  one night. Showings generally start at 5, 6, & 9.
For a complete schedule of the festival, go to