Let’s Link—Week 6

Ah, vacation. Isn’t it great? I never choose to spend my Christmas holidays traveling, as many do, but instead I venture home every year in order to spend time with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and many more. (Mario stays in Spain to be with his family work.) This means I think less about blogging and more about baking Christmas cookies, watching IU basketball, and hanging out with my parents. Yeah, I’m that cool. Fortunately for me, I’ve had the opportunity to reunite with some close friends from high school. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time! It’s great to be with people who you really identify with. I’m beginning to see why I’m okay with not wanting to live in Spain forever.

Anyway, all that to say: let’s link! Are you ready for some thought-provoking bits of information? Of course you are!

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I really enjoy reading Janet Mendel’s blog. She writes about her kitchen and culinary adventures in southern Spain. Like me, she is a Midwesterner. She wrote about a traditional Spanish Christmas food I’d never heard of—the cardoon.

Cat wrote about her favorite Spanish Christmas traditions, which include Sevilla’s beautiful Christmas lights.

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Lo Sabe, No Lo Sabe

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Our new(-ish) favorite game show is called Lo Sabe, No Lo Sabe. If you speak even a little bit of Spanish, you’ll know that this translates roughly to He/She Knows, He/She Doesn’t Know. It’s one of those rare instances in which the Spanish version is shorter and more concise.

Juanra Bonet

This show began on July 30, 2012, and is broadcasted on the Spanish television channel Cuatro (Four) and hosted by Juanra (short for Juan Ramón) Bonet. Juanra (Twitter) is hilarious and makes the show as funny and entertaining as possible. The show is an adaptation of the original Israeli game show Smart Face.

How does the show work?

Juanra and his crew walk around the city looking for their next victim—okay, contestant—from among the passers-by. The contestant who agrees to participate is presented with a question, but they are not allowed to answer the questions for themselves. They must find someone to answer the question for them.

But—here’s the catch!—the person isn’t always supposed to actually know the answer to the question. Let’s refer to the show’s title: Lo Sabe, No Lo Sabe. Sometimes the selected answerer should know; sometimes he or she should not know. You will often hear contestants asking Juanra, “Tiene que saberlo/no saberlo, ¿no?

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[Source]

Usually, it goes a little something like this: if the person should know the question, it’s more difficult. If the person should not know, it’s easier. Obviously, the easiness/difficulty of the questions increase as the quantity of money to be won gets greater.

Lo Sabe No Lo Sabe Pregunta

This question (source), for example, is worth €100 and is quite easy for any educated Spaniard. So she just has to find someone who knows it.

Once the contestant has reached €1000, he/she has the option to plantarse, leave with the money and go on his/her merry way. However, the contestant may also continue to win either €3000 or €6000, depending on whether Juanra is wearing the red tie (or red scarf if it’s cold). The contestant then chooses whether they want a Lo Sabe or a No Lo Sabe question. If they choose lo sabe, it’s usually quite difficult, and if they choose no lo sabe, it’s much easier.

How do they choose whom to ask?

Well, how would you choose? Do stereotypes always hold true? Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you ask a young person a question that most young people aren’t likely to know, and they know it. Sometimes an elderly person surprises you with his/her knowledge of popular culture. It just depends.

Mario and I like to guess who we might ask based on the question. For example, last night, in a quest to win €6000, a man choose no lo sabe, confident in the “ignorance” of people, which is generally a good bet. The question was: “Which famous extraterrestrial in the movies said, ‘Phone home’?” Even I know this, and I haven’t seen the movie (released before I was born, okay?). And so this guy goes and asks a man who seems to be about late 50s, early 60s! I was astounded at this, because I would have asked someone who seemed to be about 18 years old, a person not as likely to have seen the film!

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Luckily, this guy still had his emergency call. So he ended up winning and taking home the €6000. But sheesh. (See it here.)

I Couldn’t Win

I couldn’t win this, at least not in Spain. A lot of times the questions are, naturally, based on Spanish popular culture, children’s songs, celebrities from Mario’s childhood and earlier, and I have no idea what they are talking about. Sometimes they are more general, but not always. I suppose I could end up winning by accident, but I’m not as sure. I need a US-centric version to be sure!

Have you seen this show?

Currently

I’m a sucker for Currently posts. You know, where the writer lists what he/she is doing currently. I’m also pretty nosy. Are those two related? Couldn’t be.

Here’s what I’ve been up to … currently, I’m:

  • Watching: Homeland and Dexter. If you’re not watching these shows, you’re either busy, ignorant, or just plain weird. My favorite of the two is Homeland, which captivated me from the very first episode, but this season of Dexter is helping to wash away the bad memories from seasons five and six, which I found to be subpar (for Dexter, anyway). These two shows are both from Showtime, and I would like to offer them my sincere gratitude, in the form of wine, cheese, or both (my favorite things, you know). Dear Showtime, you make my lazy Friday/Saturday nights on the couch with my husband so much more fun.

Los Simpson in Spain

My parents forbade me from watching The Simpsons when I was younger. It was on our taboo list, along with anything on MTV. (Honestly, anything on MTV should still be on everyone’s taboo lists, due to its atrocious content, and yes, I’m looking at you, Jersey Shore.) When I got older, The Simpsons was never on my radar, for better or for worse. I preferred Nick at Nite reruns of I Love Lucy, Happy Days, and Wonder Years. I don’t doubt that I’m better for it. It was much more helpful to spend my nights with Elizabeth Montgomery and Lucille Ball than any other so-called celebrity. Upon my arrival in Spain in 2008, then, I was unaware of the show’s fame. I’d no idea just how ubiquitous American music, television, and film were. I know, how utterly naïve of me. But as I soon found out, American culture is everywhere, in the places you’d least expect. It’s not limited to pop culture or celebrities. Indeed, even words like parking are used in Spanish to indicate a parking lot. (More hilariously, footing means jogging.) I was amazed, and somewhat disappointed, when I first came upon McDonalds, Burger King, and even KFC in Europe. If we had to export something, why was it mass-produced chicken “meat” and gummy instant mashed potatoes?


The Simpsons, in contrast, are somewhat respectable. Seriously.  The show’s creator, Matt Groening, has a sharp eye for satire and does a respectable job at lampooning American culture’s more dubious elements, including hyper-fundamentalism and a lack of focus on education. The series has been running for 20-plus years now, having debuted on December 17, 1989. That sort of run is no mere coincidence. Yet whenever I explain to my friends and family that, indeed, the Simpsons are the most popular American family in Spain, they stare at me slack-jawed. “But why?” they inquire, their confusion palpable. It’s just that no one I know watches the show as often as Spaniards. I don’t even know when it’s on in the states. I mean, of course there are people who watch it in the U.S. It wouldn’t have survived 20 years if that weren’t the case. But there is something about the program that has become deeply ingrained in the Spanish psyche. As with all cultural aspects, it helps to get a Spanish boyfriend (and/or girlfriend, whichever way you swing). Mario is my window into all aspects of Spanish-osity and –isms, and I thank him for it, even if sometimes he probably gets annoyed with my intermittent ranting and raving when I fail to grasp the finer aspects of the culture. I was somewhat surprised to find that his family often (but by no means always) eats dinner with the television on, something I thought the proper Spanish would never do, as food is not only eaten, but relished here. At his house, and in most Spanish households, lunch is eaten between 2:30-3:00 and doesn’t end until 3:30-4:00.During that time period, two vitally important T.V. programs are aired: The Simpsons and the news. While Americans may find it odd that the news is on at three o’clock, rest assured that it’s not. The three o’clock hour is one upon which the news stations can count. That’s when the siesta is, after all, and that’s when their viewers will be most numerous. They can’t deny their appetites and they also won’t turn off their televisions. The dollar signs begin to appear in your eyes. Thus, The Simpsons’ producers have either had inordinate luck or are just geniuses because they have assured themselves the 2:30 spot, the time just before the lunch hour when the children are sitting in the living room, their little tummies growling hungrily as they wait for mamá to bring in el primer plato, or “the first course.” Naturally, what’s on that’s appealing to them? The Simpsons, who, at the end of the day, aren’t really that offensive and can be counted upon for easy laughs. Homer is always eating and Bart is usually slacking off, something a lot of little Spaniards, at least in my experience, will have no trouble relating to.

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I asked Mario for his opinion, and he said (translated from el español): “I think it’s because the humor isn’t harsh, it’s funny at times, and people love Homer. I like it because it’s a cartoon and because it shows the life of a normal American family as well as showing that they are normal, with faults as well as virtues. Homer is very impulsive and stupid at times, but he has a good heart.” Now you’re famous too, Mario. Famous on the Internets. I’ve come to my conclusion, then. If someday I decide to produce my own television show (a very unlikely possibility, but bear with me), I will try my damnedest to have it on at 2:30 PM or 9 PM, the hours right before the meals. In reality, the 2:30 hour is preferable, but I’ll take what I can get.  It wouldn’t hurt for it to be animated. Hey, it worked for Matt Groening, why not for me?