Success places Boise Basque Soccer Friendly in jeopardy

jaialdi3After all of the work that the organizers have put into arranging the Basque Soccer Friendly, scheduled to take place on July 29 in Boise, what might actually cause the biggest hiccup is Athletic Bilbao’s own success. They finished 7th in the Spanish League, meaning they qualify for the qualifiers of the Europa League, the first game of which is on July 30. There is no way they can play both games, and the Europa League comes first.

The one possible way to keep the Boise match on schedule is if Bilbao beats Barcelona next week on May 30 to win the Copa del Rey, which would give them an automatic berth in the Europa League, bypassing the qualification round and keeping the Boise game on track.

So, if you didn’t already have enough of a reason to cheer Bilbao on next week, here is another. Aupa Athleticjaialdi3

Basque Book Roundup

There has been a lot of news about Basque books…

51ERBzMF2ULIt’s Hammer Time! (am I dating myself?)

Begoña Echeverria’s book, The Hammer of Witches, was just chosen as Editor’s Choice for the month of May by the Historical Novel Society! If you haven’t heard about the novel, I mentioned it here. The story of a young girl in the grips of the witch hunts in a 1610 Basque town, The Hammer of Witches is “a gripping page-turner of horrific historical events” and is the first book [the editor] “ever read that made me feel what it must have been like to be a victim of unfounded suspicion, forced to rely on personal faith, or recant all one holds true.” High praise indeed! Zorionak Begoña!

TOBM_1024x1024Revisiting the transformation of Bilbao

Joseba Zulaika, once the head of the Center for Basque Studies at UNR, has just released his most recent book, That Old Bilbao Moon, which is more about the Basque generation of the 60s and how the Guggenheim Museum has come to symbolize, in some sense, not only a rebirth of the city of Bilbao, but maybe also a touchstone for that generation that had been defined as much by ETA and socialist politics of the 60s as anything. A deep introspective, the book connects the lives of that generation with the city of Bilbao. As Paddy Woodworth says, “Part tormented hymn, part searing personal memoir, all ruthless interrogation and self-interrogation, it is also a tribute to the Basque city of iron and titanium, Bilbao, an unblinking if at times uneven gaze from its gutters to its skylines.

61RUgbFhl-L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Basque mythology, for kids

Basque mythology is full of great characters, from the basajaun, the giants of the forrest, to the bedeviling lamiak and Mari, the Lady of the mountains, and herensuge, a giant serpent that has between one and seven heads. Olentzero, the Basque Santa Claus, was originally a giant, the only one to survive the news that Jesus was born. These are great stories, and now there is an illustrated version of these stories for children. At this time, it is only in Basque, Spanish and French,  but maybe it will be translated to English too! I’d sure love to share these stories with my daughter!

Basques finally free to visit Iceland without fear of death

10929559_342159199324028_2431577313259576547_nYou may have already heard about this story, as it has been published in quite a few different places. You see, Iceland — or at least one district within Iceland, West Fjords — has had a law since the 1600s allowing for Basques to be killed on sight. It was only on April 22 of this year that the law was revoked, finally freeing Basques to visit without fear.

In the 1500 and 1600s, the Basques had a thriving whaling industry in Terra Nova, Labrador, and Iceland was a frequent stop on the way. In 1615, a group of Basques was stranded in Iceland after their ships were dashed against some rocks. Maybe because of some of these Basques taking some dried fish from a house, the Icelanders attacked them, first killing a group of 14 Basques and then later another group of 18. The local sheriff decreed that all Basques were criminals and that any Basques that stepped foot in the West Fjords should be killed on sight. What came to be called Spánverjavígin, or the “Spanish Killings”, was the last documented massacre on Iceland soil.

In April, there was a conference commemorating the event and, as part of that conference, the law was officially repealed. Finally.

Of course, many Basques have visited Iceland since then and not been in any harm what-so-ever. Repealing of the law is more a formality and a nice exchange between the Icelanders and Basques.

That said, my PhD advisor is an Icelander. I’m glad that, if I ever visit him in his home country, I won’t have to fear for my life.

jaialdi3

Jaialdi is coming, are you ready?

jaialdi3Jaialdi is getting closer and closer. Are you excited? I know I am, ready to see friends and family and a few kalimotxos too. Lots of people are working hard to get things ready. I thought I’d share a few things I’ve come across as we get closer to the big weekend.

The official website for Jaialdi is www.jaialdi.com, where you can find information about lodging, the schedule of events, vendors, sponsors, and more. Things start off on Tuesday and Wednesday with Welcome to Boise, but things really get going on Thursday with Sports Night and Street Dance. Events wrap up on Sunday at the Expo and a final Street Dance to close out the festivities.

In conjunction with Jaialdi, Athletic Bilbao, one of the premier soccer teams in Spain, will come and play Mexico’s Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente in a friendly match at Albertson’s Stadium (the stadium where the Boise State Broncos play) on July 29. Tickets are already half-way sold, so if you want to join in on the fun, you better hurry.

A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to get this friendly to happen. Originally, Athletic Bilbao was going to play a MLS team from the Pacific Northwest, but that fell through. And regulations state that the game has to be played on real turf (not that blue stuff the Broncos play on) so that had to be arranged. One of the drivers organizing this event is Argia Beristain and in this article in the Boise Weekly she gives up some of the dirt on how this was all pulled together.

What else should everyone know about? What are you looking forward to the most? Me, I’m looking forward to a kalimotxo on the Basque Block, talking to old friends, and maybe a few new ones too.

Luze ta oparo bizi: Leonard Nimoy’s Basque connection

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.34.17 PMLeonard Nimoy, beloved actor who is best known for his role as Mr. Spock, died today at the age of 83. He is of course world-renowned for his contributions to the Star Trek franchise, but he was a versatile actor, appearing in many movies, television series, and on Broadway. What I didn’t know was that he also had a Basque connection.

This NPR story highlights how Nimoy, before he got his big break on Star Trek, was a journey-man actor, playing primarily ethnic roles. One of those roles was on the TV show Wagon Train, which follows a wagon train as it makes its way across the American West, from Missouri to California. In the 4th episode of season 3, entitled The Esteban Zamora Story, the plot deals with a trio of Basque sons, one of which is found dead with a knife. When their father joins them from the old country and learns of his son’s death, he is honor-bound, as are all Basques, to avenge his son. Leonard Nimoy plays one of the sons, Bernabe Zamora. Ernest Borgnine, that venerable veteran of film and TV, plays his dad, Esteban Zamora.

This bit from the Basque media outlet EITB, playing on the resemblance between Mr. Spock and the previous Lehendakari of the Basque Country, Jose Ibarretxe, examines in detail the show’s interpretation of Basque culture, including the quite stunning outfit that Mr. Borgnine wears in honor of his home town.

At the risk of spoiling the show, here is the synopsis from IMDB:

Scouting ahead of the train Flint discovers a young man bleeding to death from a stab wound and a knife nearby. He takes the body and knife to Sheriff Hixon who he knows. The Sheriff recognizes the body as that of the youngest Zamora brother who has a reputation as a trouble maker. His father Estaban Zamora, a Basque from Spain, is on the train planning to join his three sons in the new country herding sheep. The sons tell him a horse fell killing his son but Estaban quickly realizes they are lying. The Basque tradition requires the father to exact revenge for the killing of a son. Everyone including the sons want to prevent Estaban from following the tradition. As Esteban asks questions, he soon learns his youngest son was running with a group of sheep rustlers and the family name is smeared. The Sheriff tells Estaban there is little evidence showing him the knife Flint recovered. Estaban recognizes the knife as one he made for his sons and confronts the eldest son Manuel. His wife shows Estaban Manuel’s knife to protect her husband forcing Estaban to learn the painful truth.

Thanks to Guillermo Zubiaga for translating “live long and prosper” to Euskara!

 

Berriak for February, 2015

Here is a round-up of a few items I thought were notable.

463858986Inaki Williams became the first black player to score a goal for Athletic Bilbao in their 117 year history. You may know that Athletic Bilbao only recruits Basque players, players from the Basque Country. Inaki was born in Bilbao to parents from Ghana and Liberia. Clearly his parents have pride in their new home, as they named their son Inaki.

basque-soccer-friendly2Keeping with the soccer theme, there is an update on the effort to bring Basque soccer to Boise. The effort, lead by Argia Beristain, has secured participation by both sides. The teams have not been finalized, though it is likely to be the same Athletic Bilbao against a MLS team from the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Portland, or Vancouver). And, a date has been set: July 29! More details can be found here.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 2.42.25 PMIrene Peralta of Munchies magazine has a five-part series on the food of the Basque Country. In 5 roughly 15 minute videos, she covers the txokos of San Sebastian, the markets, and some of the best restaurants in the world. A great introduction to Basque cuisine.

51ERBzMF2ULBegoña Echeverria is a professor at the University of California, Riverside, who has had a long interest in Basque culture and, more specifically, the world of Basque witches. Her researches led her down a path that has culminated in a novel, The Hammer of Witches. Inspired in part by songs she heard as a child, the novel explores the life of a young woman in a small Basque town that has its share of mystery.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 3.02.06 PMCanoe.ca has a series of photos of the ancient carnival of Ituren, in which men dress up as bears and other mystical creatures, a carnival centered on sheepherding. Some anthropologists argue that it is the oldest pre-Indo-European carnival still being practiced in Europe. Regardless of the origins, the photos are simply fantastic. Taking place at the end of every January, this looks like something to make a trip for.

musean.jpgThe site fivethirtyeight has an interesting article about games for kids, with the main point that a lot of kids’ games (think Candyland) do not really challenge kids in any real way. Interestingly, they highlight the Basque card game Mus as a game that does challenge kids and is highly rated precisely for the way it encourages critical thinking and mental skills.

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