take me back to little harbor (reflection)

Yesterday morning was my first day back from a fantastic camping trip in Catalina. As I was sitting in class, for the first time I felt really sad I wasn’t biking in the mountains or snorkeling with garibaldi. What’s funny is I did the exact same trip last year but by the end of it I couldn’t wait to get back home and take a shower- this time I wanted just one more day out on the sea.

We hiked from twin harbor to little harbor which is a really pretty bay on the island right next to the beach with long green grass and thick, low, palm trees everywhere. It is the perfect place to camp- there’s wonderful views and at night you can hear the ocean. Because of the recent rain, there was a river between the campsite and the ocean- but luckily there was a big log nearby so we used it as a bridge to walk on which was really cool.

All the hikes, mountain biking, swimming/boogie boarding in shark harbor, and especially paddle-boarding with my friends was magical. There was a lof of little fun stuff too like boat races and campfire singing and night beach games/talks- all of it made this trip really special.

Above all the fabulous night skies and activities, the bikeride back to twin harbor was the best. There was a long, grueling 2 hour uphill at first- but it was more than worth it. Dropping from that peak was unforgettable, I soared down steep, winding orange roads, on one side of me the pacific and the other lush green mountains. It was like I was on Pandora- I was on a different planet.

I so needed this break. The days leading up to the trip were stressful and too busy. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go to Little Harbor a second time, my only issue was that it was all too short.

pc; me

my bohemian friend

my parents are busy people. So from pre-school to the sixth grade, they asked someone to take care of my brother and I.

They found a Portuguese woman in her 50s/60s, a former teacher with hair always up in some crazy bun -pencils sticking out. Now she is like a surrogate mother to me.

She did what she was supposed to do- help us with homework, drive us to school, pack our lunches, and cook our dinners.

We did so much more together though: she took us thrifting, riding on the trolley around Ojai, showed me what great movies were, and she taught me how to garden in her own yard. We even spent our summers with her, reading on the hammock in her backyard and cooking fabulous meals in her kitchen. Museums, grocery shopping, sewing, we’ve done it all. Some of my favorite moments though were all the card/board games we’d play. We’d use monopoly money to play poker and take Nab-it too seriously.

She is hilarious in her own, unique way. Between her, my brother, and I, we have several inside jokes. Something about the way she talks and the way she says things just makes you laugh. I can’t explain it, but the way older people, like her, words things are just so charming to me. She uses words like ‘lousy’ and ‘baloney.’

I love how practicable and sensible she is, and so down to earth. One of her best traits was always her common sense and wisdom.

When middle school came, we stopped seeing each other every day. Unfortunately, my brother and I were independent enough to take care of ourselves.

It is impossible to put into words the impact she left on me and my life. She played a big role in shaping the person I am today. I can honestly credit her for my love of gardening, Portuguese music, rainbow bridge tea, and a million other of my little traits. She’s the reason why I read the news every morning because she made me. It’s because of her that I say “Oh well” whenever something bad happens. I owe my exclusive love for Annie’s white cheddar mac n cheese to her. I know also, she is the reason why a lot of people comment I’m so different from my own Mom (whom I still love of course).

This winter break I got to visit her for the first time in 4 years, and I am happy to report she is as funny and witty as always. The chemistry between her, my brother, and me is no different. We probably would have never stopped catching up if it weren’t for my Mom practically dragging me out of her house because of a doctor’s appointment or something.

PC https://i.pinimg.com/564x/3b/7c/63/3b7c63826d440c85500815ffb1cded72.jpg

3 things I treasure

The world is constantly changing. When I’m older it will be a lot different than it is now. No matter what though, I will always cherish these.

1.) The rain. I already wrote a whole blog post about it but I love the way the sky looks when it’s cloudy. I love the smell outside. The music sounds better and the mountains look better.

2.) Sitting on the beach and looking out at the ocean at night. Watching the boats or lack of. And of course watching the night sky, if I can see it. (Far from light pollution).

3.) What is really special to me, uniquely me, are the numerous points in Southern China where I can see these beautiful vistas every Summer. My special spots in Hunan where the flora is incredible. And there’s this unforgettable temple too- it’s high in the mountains with very few people. It’s enormous- it has a whole lake, completely flat and silver as the sky. Long, winding stairs carve across the entire temple surrounded by fog. So you’re just walking around from breathtaking building to building, it’s incredible. I can’t believe somewhere like that actually exists.

PC me swimming in Wangling

cry, the beloved country

I watched a new movie this week that by any standards is brilliant and moving. And in my opinion, one of the most underrated films.

“Cry, the Beloved Country” is based on a heartwrenching book that deals with really complex topics in such a unique way. I can’t even remotely relate to the characters yet I still suffered with them. This movie deals with issues of segregation and protests against apartheid in such a beautiful and moving way, combined with topics of fear, corruption, death, and forgiveness.

James Earl Jones was incredible. He manages to convey and make you feel so many things through really minimalistic acting. He doesn’t waste himself on meaningless gestures & histrionics, he lets you see the suffering of his soul.

The movie does a great job illustrating the battered country of Africa– where the land itself is described to be the essence of a man– as he navigates through Johannesburg and experiences all its corruption and violence. Many of the political, economic, and societal issues within Southern Africa in the 1950s are brought to light in this film,

This is a movie about black and white. A well-known theme in Hollywood, but I’ve never seen a movie deal with this subject so excellent as this one. The plot is unlike anything I’ve ever read or seen before. Alan Paton, the author of the book it’s based on, is one talented man.

PC: https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.rogerebert.com/uploads/review/primary_image/reviews/cry-the-beloved-country-1995/EB19951220REVIEWS512200301AR.jpg

scent of a woman

Of the many many movies I’ve watched, only four have made me cry. “Scent of a Woman” was one of them. This movie is more touching than Forrest Gump, funnier than Airplane!, and makes my heart pound more than Whiplash. It is just dripping with passion, has fantastic characters, and in my opinion, is home to one of the best cinematic scenes in history. I can’t think of enough adjectives to praise this movie. You can watch it with high expectations and you will be satisfied.

SPOILERS: (PLEASE don’t read if you haven’t already seen this movie)

This movie. I don’t even know where to start. I went into it totally blind (haha get it). I watched it just because Al Pacino got an Oscar for it – but I was not emotionally prepared for this 2 hr plus rollercoaster.

To be honest I was not very impressed in the beginning. Before he got to New York, I didn’t like Frank Slade’s character. But oh boy does he grow on you. His wit, constant bellowing and all. Even though it was really rocky at first, his relationship with Charlie is moving. Mentor-mentee dynamics are one of my favorite tropes. Also, I relate to aspects of the movies because every week I help elderly people, and they remind me sometimes of Slade- nosy and upfront.

The best moment in the movie -and one of the best in cinematic history- is the powerful scene where Frank Slade comes in defense of Charlie against Baird’s directors and that anal principal. It was so good I replayed it right after my first time watching it. I have never heard a more powerful, intense, and moving speech. I hoped he would keep going after every line. I hoped he would never stop talking. The Gettysburg address wishes it was as eloquent as this.

When Mr. Trask yells to Lt. Slade that “he’s out of order,” Frank just goes off, it is just so satisfying- the expressive way he talks, the words he chooses. I wish I could be half as articulate as he is.

I believe I cried during that one, pivotal scene in the hotel with the gun. I almost cried during the family dinner one too- but back to the hotel. Wow. When Charlie was crying and telling Slade his reasons to live, my face looked like his. Such a stressful and intense clip. Dead Poet’s Society is a cakewalk compared to this.

You need to watch the movie to feel the whole experience. “Scent of a Woman” is a movie that masterfully displays drama, comedy, and sadness. It will move and provoke in you an internal reflection of how you act towards life and its burdens.

PC https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BYjQyNTRkYWEtYzQwYy00NDA1LTk0NTItZWE1MzI0ODU4OWY4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUwNzk3NDc@.V1.jpg

here’s the best scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd10x8LiuBc&t=70s

what i’ve been playing on the piano

Nujabes’ music is so fun to play. I don’t care if he’s mainstream. Almost all of his music is brimming with these beautiful chords and his progressions are fantastic. My favorite pieces by him for the piano are Flowers, Lady Brown, Luv(sic), Battlecry, and Kumomi.

This is weird but I like playing what’s meant for the guitar in like rock songs, for example, Breakthru (Queen) and Big shot are a blast.

Another fun thing you could do is take classic jazzy pieces (misty, autumn, blue in green whatever stuff for old people from like Bill Evans, Chick Correa, Miles Davis, and J Coltrane) and just add like bossa-y chords think m7 or m9s, with a hint of blue scales here and there. Ok, someone who does this really well is this guy on TikTok who wistfully plays. I LOVE what he does.

Obviously, I’m a sucker for big pretty chords. R&B music is a good place to find these, think Bruno Mars, and ok this isn’t the same thing but bossa- Japanese songs (Masayoshi Takenaka) often use like the same chords. Somewhere you can find more eccentric and weird chords -which I also love- is surprisingly in rap. Some of these songs sample really unique piano tracks that are really fun to play. Seriously: Tyler, mf doom, nas, jid and like all the classic rap artists have some songs with super chords.

PC: https://www.gramophone.co.uk/media/206995/t958_artur-rubinstein-1.jpg?&width=780&quality=60

Tom Lehrer Is A Genius

There is a very niche genre of songs my Dad loves.

They’re a blend of weird slapstick-parody comedy. Think Weird Al but more archaic.

Artists like Dr. Demento and Allan Sherman (Camp Granada guy) produce music in this genre. My Dad’s favorite, Tom Lehrer, however, stands out to me.

Like the rest of these creators, he is really smart. In fact, he graduated from Harvard. When I was a kid, I remember watching his song “New Math.” Besides being really catchy, it is overloaded with subtle jokes like the rest of his songs. Anyway, he’s a really clever guy and is one of my favorite satiric songwriters.

I feel like I need to write more so I’ll talk about Weird Al, I guess. I have first introduced to him a really long time ago one night while I was eating dinner. Someone thought I ate too slowly so she started playing “eat it.” I thought it was really funny. Anyway, he’s a cool guy too like Tom Lehrer, really smart. And guess what, he went to Calpoly. Like what’s the deal with all these comedian-songwriters and their impressive educational backgrounds.

PC: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Tom_Lehrer_-_Southern_Campus_1960.jpg

The Best Story

The best reality documentary on youtube is a Vice series titled “North Korean Labor Camps” where they sent a Canadian Journalist, Shane Smith, to investigate the hermit kingdom and bring back cultural learnings with him.

It has everything: politics, humor, wit, fear, camaraderie with absolutely random people, realities of everyday life of common people, getting banned and kicked out, and going into the endless unknown (Siberian Tiga) like a spaceship.

It’s in a blog, video diary format with a pretty bad camera (it was 10 years ago), and it’s just so cool. All seven parts of the series are just insane. He gets in trouble with the FSB, there’s a car chase in the wilds of Siberia, and he befriends the local mob. My favorite part though is all the random people that just helped and tagged along: a cop, ex-chief of police, freelance journalist, and some crazy Russian guy who saved the journalist from angry authorities.

It all started in North Korea, with a video titled “We Tried Sneaking Journalists into North Korea.” In it, you see how unsettling and just off North Korea feels, at least 10 years ago. Anyway, soon he finds out that Koreans are being sent to logging camps for like several years at a time in Eastern Russia and so begins the aforementioned series. I want to do something like this one day.

Besides what he manages to uncover, what’s most shocking is how calm the journalist was despite the tense circumstances. From intimidating drunk guys on trains to North Korean camp leaders telling him no, he just kept his cool and kept asking questions. That’s a Journalist!

PC https://static01.nyt.com/images/2010/12/06/arts/SUBVICE/SUBVICE-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale

frog and scorpion

famous fable I like:

One day, a scorpion wanted to cross a river, so it approached a frog for help. “I’d like to,” the frog said, “but if I let you get on my back, you’ll sting me.”

“Of course, I wouldn’t!” the scorpion said, “that would only kill us both.”

And so the frog let the scorpion onto its back. They swam out into the river, and once they reached the middle, the scorpion stung the frog. The frog called out “Why did you do that? Now we’ll both die!” The scorpion said, “it’s in my nature.” And so they sunk.

“But can’t you resist your own nature?” The frog pleaded, “you could have at least waited to sting me once we crossed the river and on land!”

“Ah,” the scorpion said, “but this is guaranteed to work. You can’t blame me for being a profiteer.”

“No” the frog retaliated, “now you haven’t just done something stupid, but you’re also too afraid of apologizing. You’ve convinced yourself that profiteering off greed is the way of the world- but you’re wrong because the world isn’t fundamentally unfair, the world is just full of creatures that make it so. You’re the problem, convincing yourself that everything is futile so you can give into your cynical impulses.”

“Just apologize and I’ll forgive you, even now, even at the end.” The frog said. “Oh, I never apologize” The scorpion replied, “it’s not in my nature.”

PC: https://i.pinimg.com/564x/70/30/3c/70303c3b108574fac7e07d0043ee20d2.jpg

obsolete tv shows

Besides Spongebob, I grew up on practically extinct shows my fossil of a Dad made me watch instead of like Disney Channel or something.

My favorite one was MacGyver, (NOT the new one with Lucas Till) which is an action series about a guy who can ‘improvise’ his way out of any situation. Instead of combating danger with weapons like you’d expect, he uses his ability to make gadgets to save himself. To this day I still think the premise is really unique and overall it’s a creative show.

Another much more popular show I watched was the A-team. Again, not the newer movies but the 80’s tv series. It’s also an action about a group of ex-military guys who help people in need and try to clear their name from a crime they didn’t even commit. I remember loving one of the members of the group, Murdoc, who was just this really crazy, goofy guy.

Then there are all the detective shows: Columbo, Magnum PI, Monk, Psych -even Perry Mason- you name it, I’ve seen it. My Dad and I are detective show connoisseurs. He tried to get me to watch cop shows, but they were never my thing (Adam-12, CHiPS).

There was a lot of Sci-fi too, I think Star Trek was my first of these old shows (or Rocky and Bullwinkle). I’ve seen both the Kirk and Picard series, but the former is more memorable/nostalgic for me. There was also Time Tunnel, Twilight Zone, My Favorite Martian, The Munsters, etc.

There is more, this is just the tip of my ancient-shows iceberg. There are some really obscure shows I’ve seen. I bet I’m the only person under 50 who knows what the Petticoat Junction even is. Or the Beverly Hillbillies.

Anyway, I’m actually happy my Dad introduced me to these shows from a young age. They really were charming and shaped much of my early childhood.

pc: https://decider.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/macgyver.png?w=646&h=431&crop=1