Archive for September, 2013

The Meanings Behind South American Cities

Posted on September 26th, 2013 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

A treasure chest of history and culture, and mass of land consuming almost 4% of the earths surface, filled with more than 590 million people, from different paths and walks of life. What I will be giving you today is an insight into the names and meanings of some of the most well known cities in South America.

Machu Picchu

Lets start the trip off with Cusco, a legendary city located in the heart or Peru; founded in 1100, a population of 360 thousand and very close to a popular Incan trail to Machu Picchu. A popular destination for any travels making the trip to South America, Cuzco has its name rooted in the Aymara language, the indigenous name is ‘Qusqu’ which originated from a phrase, ‘qusqu wanka,’ meaning ‘Rock of the owl.’ When the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s, they translated the name to Cuzco, and now both this spelling and the ‘Cusco’ spellings are recognized.

Next up is Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, and an often overlooked place within South America. Calm and relaxed compared to it’s neighbors in Argentina and Brazil, Montevideo homes about 1.8 million people, and is currently under the watchful eye of one of the most humble presidents you could find in José Mujica. Cerro de Montevideo is a hill nearby the city, ‘Monte’ is Spanish for ‘mountain’ and thus it is here where the first part of the cities name originates from, unfortunately the rest is under debate; there is the belief that Montevideo came from the phrase ‘Monte vide eu’ a mix of dialects that translate to “I saw a mount,” yet this idea is refuted by some.


To mention Colombia will probably cause images of cocaine traffickers and armed soldiers to roll though your imaginations, yet this country has become far safer than its violent history would suggest, and is quickly becoming a tourist destination due to the amazing beaches and wonderful wildlife. Within Colombia there is a city that was chosen as the most innovative city in the world, big words for the city known as Medellín, which sits in the center of the country with a little over 2.7 million inhabitants. The name has changed many times in the past: Abúrra de los Yamesíes, San Lorenzo de Aburrá, San Lorenzo de Aná, Valle de San Bartolomé, and Villa de la Candelaria de Medellín. There is a city in Spain with the same name and that is where the name came, sorry about the rhyming, but it’s true; the Spanish city was founded as Metellinum in 75 BC. Later the President of the Council of the West Indies asked the Spanish monarchy to give the name to the Colombian city, and the request was granted.

Buenos Aires

There are of course many other interesting and history filled cities within the great continent, to name a few more there is Buenos Aires, meaning Good Air, Rio de Janeiro, or the River of January, and Santiago, which is named after a figure from the Bible.


Do you know of any other cities interesting past or etymology? Are there any you would like to know?

The Man with the Machete: Danny Trejo

Posted on September 25th, 2013 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

It is National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th, and as such I wanted to take the opportunity to profile a selection of famous and influential people of Spanish and Latin American decent from all different professions and backgrounds.

Today I will start the series with the man that’s almost a myth, Danny Trejo; quickly becoming a legend of film the tough-man actor is more recently known for portraying a violent, death-defying hero in the Robert Rodriguez produced films ‘Machete’ and the soon to be released ‘Machete Kills.’ He has in fact been around for quite some time playing small roles and making appearances in films ranging from ‘Desperado’ and ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ all the way to ‘The Muppets’ and ‘Anchorman.’

Grind House

He was born in 1944, in Los Angeles, and of Mexican decent. He had his troubles when he was young, spending time in jail and having an addiction with drugs, but after completing a 12-step rehabilitation program he changed his ways and turned the corner for life anew. After his rehab Danny met another lost soul with a cocaine addiction that called him for help, they met on a film set and due to his tough look was asked to be an extra, combined with several other fortunate events he unexpectedly made his way onto the big screen to the point where he is now an arguably underrated and popular addition to many Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino films.

Since his big break into the entertainment business Trejo has been a rather prolific actor, averaging almost four film appearances a year, in 2009 he somehow accomplished nine, thats no small feat. He is an obvious man to recognize, this might be why he’s become such an icon, the scary looking machete wielding father of four has a giant tattoo of a woman with a sombrero on his chest and stomach, you’ll see it often if you watch any of his movies; along with his consistent mustache.


2007 saw the release of the Grindhouse films, Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof; during the beginning of these there are a series of ‘fake’ trailers to other films, a rather humorous look at films in a gory action genre meant as a joke, however, due the popular reception garnered by this, several of the films went into production, ‘Hobo with a Shotgun,’ ‘Machete,’ and ‘Machete Kills.’ Machete was the first film to feature Trejo as the lead character, and he pulls it off perfectly, as he stars alongside well-knowns such as Robert De Niro, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Steven Seagal. Trejo will reprise his role in the upcoming ‘Machete Kills,’ to be released October 11, this time he acts alongside another plethora of stars in Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, Mel Gibson, Amber Heard and Cuba Gooding Jr. Whats even better is there are already plans for a third installment  entitled ‘Machete Kills Again.’ My advice is to see them, the films exploit the old B movie dynamics in a bloody, violent and hilarious way thats sure to give you at least a chuckle or a slight cringe.

Danny Trejo is quickly acquiring legend status as a unique and special character, and it’s due to this and the difficulties he experienced when younger that I feel he can be an inspiration to others, and appropriate to be profiled here for the Hispanic Heritage Month.


Can you think of any other famous Hispanic actors or actresses deserved of being mentioned?

Unlucky Numbers and Beliefs

Posted on September 18th, 2013 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Are you superstitious? Do you believe in ghosts? The undead? All around the world there are beliefs and common myths concerning unlucky numbers, days, actions and events, and now I’m here to present you with the best of the fearful bunch.

I’ll begin with one of the most obvious ones, Friday the 13th, there’s no clear definition of when it originated but there are numerous reports of it being an unlucky day, one fine example is that of Gioachino Rossini, the famous composer whom was said to have a fear of both Fridays and of the number thirteen, and he just happened to die on Friday the thirteenth of September, 1868. The number twelve is said to be divine due to things such as the twelve months of the year, twelve hours in a day, twelve apostles of Jesus and more; the number thirteen undoes this and is considered irregular, if you have a fear of the number thirteen you are considered to have triskaidekaphobia.

friday 13th

In Spanish cultures there is a similar belief regarding Tuesday the 13th, there is no definitive origin of the reason it is on a Tuesday and not a Friday, but there is a common saying “en martes ni te cases ni te embarques,” which tells you not to get married or start a journey on any Tuesday.

I’m sure most of us know other popular superstitions within western culture, such as one should refrain from walking underneath any ladders, this came from the Christian belief of the Holy Trinity, breaking a triangle is considered blasphemous. There’s the black cat that due to its connection to witches and black magic strikes fear in the hearts of those with a mystical nature. The number 666 is related to Satan, breaking a mirror gives you several years of bad luck, and bad luck always comes in threes.

What you might not be aware of is the others that exist in the Spanish culture: Salt was once a symbol of friendship, and it is believed to break that friendship if any of it is spilt. Wine too can cause problems when it leaves it’s intended destination, to rectify this one must dab it on the forehead or on the earlobe if it’s champagne. You should never take a used broom to a new house, never place bread upside down, and never place your hat on top of your bed.

Spilt Wine

I don’t want to cause anybody to live in fear, and I hope that everybody takes these all with a grain of salt; if you do treat them with too much of your everyday life then I sincerely apologize, I’ll end with something that might pick you back up:

In Russia, if a bird ‘does its business’ on you, your car or your house, it is supposed to make you rich, the more birds that treat you as a bathroom, the better.


Do you believe in black magic? Do you think it’s all just a load of baloney? Do you believe in any others that I didn’t mention?

Learn Spanish in 3 months

Posted on September 9th, 2013 by nataly in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Samuel was asked in his final interview rounds whether he knows Spanish. He had to confess. Being intelligent, he added, that if given some time, he would speak Spanish as good as Spanish localities. He was confident and that was visible in his attitude.Learn Spanish in 3 months

Samuel got the job offer along with a period of 3months to learn Spanish. The fight was his existing job did not give him enough time to spare for a 45mins classroom session. He was in a fix when his friends told him about this unique opportunity to master the Spanish language in the comforts of his home. He knew it was no magic formula and that he had to put in enough hard work to learn the language proficiently.

His search started and thus he got through this concept of learning the language in as minimum time as 3 months, that too in the assistance of a good teacher in his own home. Samuel was almost amazed to counter through this learning process. The teacher used an approach called “guided imitation”. The approach is divided in to two parts. First part involved the learning of a small amount of material so that the learner can reproduce the language fluently. This takes a bit of time and is helpful. It actually helped Samuel to speak Spanish the way regular Spanish language is used. The process is called “over learning”.

Then came in the next and the final step of learning the language! Samuel found the entire process to be enormously interesting. He was given a disc and there was an English transcript to follow on with what he was hearing. Samuel made it a point to carry the disc wherever he went. To office, gym and coffee chats. He just carried them along and kept on practicing

learn Spanish

the language. Admirably he never referred to the transcript wherever he was stuck. Instead, he repeated the last sentence aloud and that gave him the correct sentence to repeat. In addition, he kept on conversing in Spanish to himself and yes in almost “no time” he started speaking the language. Not as a native Spanish speaker, but far ahead than “just a beginner”.

Gradually he started translating everything in Spanish and he discovered that in 6months time he could speak an adept Spanish.  He had a new job and there it was hard for the people to believe that Samuel learned the language just few days back.