THE SAN DIEGO PARTICIPANT OBSERVER Participant Observation is the Process of Learning by Observing and Participating in Cultural Life
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July 10, 2020 (Click Here for Previous Issues)
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May 15, 2020


Local Cultural News and Nifty Things to Do Whilst Homebound:
Some interesting, helpful and fun activities from our staff and friends (if you know of any more, send them along!):

World Music Living Room Learning We are totally excited about this brand new series of engaging and fun instructional videos produced by the awesome team at the Center for World Music! Check them out!
World Heritage Tour - An awesome website featuring 3-D tours of hundreds of the world's most interesting cultural sites.
60 World Rituals - While now's not the time to go, hopefully you will get to behold some of these in future travels!
Take a Virtual Trip to Kamang, Indonesia! - This link will take you a Google "street view" of Kamang where my wife and I lived in the late 1980's. It starts at the Pintu Koto, where the bus from the city stops. Beautiful place, awesome people.
Find a Pen Pal! - Everybody's (including us) is saying "We are all in this together"! We embrace that notion globally. Here is a list of sites where you may find a pen pal in another country. Obviously you should do this with a bit of caution, but it just might expand your world!
How to Design a Pen Pal Program for Your Classroom - I know we have several teachers who receive this newsletter, here's something you might want to do with your students!
Learn a Language with Duolingo - We don't know if this is the best way to learn a new language (actually being there is) but heck, its free and they have lots of languages to choose from! Unless you pay for the "Plus" account ($10 a month), you will see ads.
List of Micro Nations - A long list of "Micro Nations" places where people have declared their sovereignty, but are no recognized as such (by anyone). Kind of fun reading the rationales behind such, some are quite serious but most are just zany! First on the list is The Aerican Empire whose motto is: Mundi est ridiculum; custodiunt illud quod modo "It's a silly old world; let's keep it that way".
Geo Guesser Game - shows you a Google Street Map for a location, you guess where in the world it is. The free version is limited, but still lots of fun.

Kid's Corner: I say "Keep 'em busy!"

Face Your Manga - A site to create manga faces with a huge number of options. If you wish to download your creations you must register and pay a small fee, but otherwise it's free.
1000 Things to Do... A HUGE daily listing of virtual events for kids and teens.
Learn How to Make Origami - Lots and lots or origami creations to make! All you need is some paper!
Art for Kids - Art lessons for your kids.
International Recipes - to make with your kids.
Quarantine Stories From Kids All Over The World!

Music & Dance for Your Soul:

Radio Time Machine - THIS IS AWESOME! Click on a place in the world and a decade (from 1900 to now) and hear what was playing there and then! It's a fun interface too.
International Dances - A nice collection of dance videos from around the work courtesy of the French site Numeridanse
15 Traditional Folks Dances from Around the World - A collection of videos with short descriptions
A History of World Music in 15 Instruments from the British Museum
Putamayo World Music Sampler 15 songs from the Putamayo collection.
Chan Chan from "Playing for Change"
Anoushka Shankar in Berlin - Anoushka Shankar (whose das is Ravi Shankar and half-sister is Nora Jones) plays brilliantly

Food Stuff:

All the Sandwiches in the World - A very long list of sandwiches (with pictures and links) from around the world (Wikipedia)
Glass Noodle Stir-Fry (Pad Woon Sen) - From Pailin "Pai" Chongchitnant's Hot Thai Kitchen. She is a wonder and has tons of recipes and very helpful guidance on ingredients and what to look for.

11 Classic French Dishes - from Spruce Eats.
45 Traditional German Recipes - from Taste of Home
Indonesian Recipes - A large collection of Indonesian as well as Vietnamese and Chinese recipes from Daily Cooking Quest
30 Traditional Brazilian Dishes - from iheartbrazil.com

Books to Make You Forget You Are at Home (International Mystery Series)

Homer Kelly Mysteries - most of Jane Langton's HK mysteries are set in New England, but there are ones set in Florence, Venice and Oxford. Each mystery is framed around a famous thinker, artist or place.
Leilani Santiago Hawai'i Mysteries by Naomi Hirahara. Also the author of the Mas Arai mystery series.
Inspector Chopra Mysteries - by Vaseem Khan. Crime novels set in modern day Mumbai.
Chief Inspector Gamache Series - by Louise Penny set in Quebec, Canada
Inspector Chen Series - by Qiu Xiaolong, set in modern Shanghai.
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Set in Botswana, this popular detectives series Alexander McCall Smith. Featuring the exceedingly clever and indefatigable Precious Ramotswe, the series has now reached 21 books!

International TV:

The House of Flowers (La Casa de las Flores) (Mexico) Netflix

House of Flowers is a Mexican Telenovela (or more accurately a "millennial telenovela" which satirizes the form and is filled with social commentary) about a dysfunctional wealthy family who owns a flower shop, La Casa de las Flores. Unbeknownst to most of the family, the father also owns a drag queen cabaret by the same name. For more reasons that you can count, the family hits bad times and has to re-adjust all their relationships to each other and try to save what's left to save. Wonderful performances throughout, particularly by Cecilia Suárez who plays the overly earnest, controlling, "on the verge of nervous breakdown" Paulina. Her character (greatly aided by her voice that has become a meme in and of itself) is an uncomfortable delight. The House of Flowers is billed as a "black comedy" but the show is not particularly dark particularly because it seems that all the character's crises seem to be self-generated and almost deserving. The show does have some tender moments too which redeem many of the characters. The set designs are extravagantly colorful. Sometimes compared to the work of Pedro Almodóvar, the show is a lovely guilty pleasure to watch. One reviewer said that people should watch the series if they "were not getting enough family drama during quarantine!

Detectorists (English) Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play

I'm not a doctor, but I'm quite sure that watching Detectorists will lower your blood pressure. Andy (played by Mackenzie Crook who also wrote and directed the series) and Lance (Toby Jones) have absolutely no clue as to what to do with their lives. But they know what to do with every spare daytime moment; metal detecting. In the rural expanse of Essex, the two characters, along with the other odd members of the Danbury Metal Detecting Club scour the fields for metal refuse, their ultimate goal is to find a Roman gold coin (or something comparable) but mostly they find more recently discarded pull tabs from beverage cans. Much of the show consists of conversations between the two who are both unrelentingly cynical, fatalistic and whimsical all at the same time. Quiz shows are their preferred entertainment when the sun goes down. The ensemble cast is a delight (including Diana Rigg and her equally elegant daughter Rachel Stirling!). The Danbury Metal Detecting Club's nemeses are the "AntiquiSearchers" whose two most prominent members are referred to as "Paul and Art" because of their physical resemblance to Simon and Garfunkle, a joke that neither gets. The show also features one of the best delayed punch lines ever (taking a session and a half to setup) regarding the Danbury club member Varda. The series is warmly charming from beginning to end.

International Movies

Abe (US/Brazil) Amazon Prime

Abe (or Avraham or Ibrahim depending on which grandparent is talking to him) has an identity problem. His mother's side of the family is Jewish and his father's side is Palestinian and they all live in Brooklyn. Abe describes himself as "half Palestinian Muslim, half Israeli Jewish, half Brooklyn American. And Gryffindor.” Each side of his family constantly squabbles with the other and each side tries to pull Abe to their own political and cultural worldview. Abe loves to cook and so his parents enroll him in a cooking summer school, but a soon as he enters the class he realizes his own skills are far beyond the simplistic cooking lessons offered. So he skips summer school, jumps on a subway across town and discovers a food truck operated by Brazilian chef "Chico" (played by the wonderful Brazilian samba singer Seu Jorge) who specializes in fusion dishes. Abe begs Chico to teach him how to cook. Chico finally agrees, but tells him that any good cook starts at the bottom with dishwashing and garbage duty. But Abe hangs in there and eventually he is taken under Chico's wing. Abe thinks that perhaps "fusion" cooking can bring his fractured family together, but that task seems to be rather too tall a mountain to climb, until . . . Directed by the Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Grostein Andrade, film is charming if not overly sophisticated, both Noah Schnapp as Abe and Jorge give memorable performances and the food is delectable.

Children of Heaven (Iran) Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes and Google Play

Children of Heaven is an multi- winning (winning top film at the Los Angeles and Montreal international film festivals) Iranian film by acclaimed director Majid Majidi. Roger Ebert said of the film, "Children of Heaven is very nearly a perfect movie for children, and of course that means adults will like it, too. It lacks the cynicism and smart-mouth attitudes of so much American entertainment for kids and glows with a kind of good-hearted purity." Set in modern day Tehran, the film is about a young boy, Ali, who charged with picking up his sister's only pair of shoes from cobbler, but on the way home he accidentally loses them (they are picked up by a blind trash collector). Knowing his parents can ill-afford to buy a new pair of shoes (and fearing their disappointment), Ali and his sister Zahra concoct a plan to hide the fact that the shoes are gone. When that doesn't quite work out, Ali hatches another plan . . . The film is sweet (particularly the relationship between Ali and his sister Zahra), touching and relatable. Even though it has subtitles, its a great film to watch with your kids. The film is extremely rich in "ethnographic" details, showing the everyday experiences of a family trying to live and love under difficult circumstances. It's beautiful.
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