Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Snuggles est mort

A brief warning to you the fair reader: do not buy Fluffy Soft detergent.

Don't say nobody warned you.

Monday, June 25, 2007


I've been in a very pissy, ill-tempered mood for today. I won't get into details except to say that there are times when being the family's de facto psychiatrist becomes overbearing.

In trying to calm my temper I've been listening to a lot of music that at times is peppy (e.g. Polyphonic Spree) and at times is calming. It's helped somewhat, but hopefully Tuesday will be a far better day.

At least, that's what I hope. The pressure's getting to me.

The Polyphonic Spree - Two Thousand Places

Hannah Hukkelberg - Cast Anchor

Love > Intelligence?

That's what I had in my mind after watching the music video for XTC's "The Mayor of Simpleton" a few minutes ago on VH1 Classic a few moments ago.

It was the first video I had ever seen on that channel and tonight was the first time I had seen it since then.

And yes, I was watching "120 Minutes" yet again. But I doubt I'll stay up until 2am tonight since I've got far too much work to do early in the morning.

Good night!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

La Di Dah

Last week I tried asking a few friends out for a friendly date to see an outdoor screening of "Annie Hall" at Bryant Park. Four friends I asked. Four friends who declined due to work/previous engagements/other responsibilities. Coupled with my anxiety over the stress test I was in a foul mood for a few days.

Imagine my surprise as I was checking the TV listings tonight to find that "Annie Hall" would be on Channel 13. As it has been one of my favorite films for years I made sure not to miss it.

It's true that I enjoy Woody Allen's quips as well as the chemistry between him and Diane Keaton. But aside from that I honestly don't know why I like the film so much. I've never been in a serious relationship (i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend) nor was my family as dysfunctional as Alvy Singer's. (Close but not quite).

About a little over halfway through the film (when Alvy goes to Annie's apartment at 3am to kill a spider "the size of a Buick") I started to think about Ana.

Ana was someone I when I was a freshman in college. I remember the day we met it was for a meeting of a student club we were in. She seemed shy and mousy but there was something about her that attracted me and compelled me to introduce myself to her. After exchanging pleasantries we chatted for quite a while. I doubt it was more than a thirty minutes but it seemed like many hours. We just seemed to get along incredibly well and we got together several times after that. Usually we would be together around campus at the library or at her dorm. A few times we ate out in the West Village.

The odd thing was that I certainly felt a bond of friendship between the two of us but I constantly asked myself if what I felt was more than that and, perhaps more importantly, how did she feel towards me. After much introspection I concluded that there was probably nothing more than just a close friendship yet decided that if I would not impede if she were to pursue the relationship. It was probably an irrational conclusion though it was the one I felt most comfortable with.

A few weeks before moving to Miami I went out with her for lunch at a cafe on Greenwich Street. I was going to drop the bombshell that I would move and that would inevitably alter our relationship. So imagine my surprise when she says that not only has she had a boyfriend for a few years, but that he was her fiancee.

Then she showed me the pictures.

Then she told me about the wedding in a few months time.

Then she told me she might move to the Midwest.

In reality I should not have been shocked and I did my damnedest to give a positive impression to her. In the end, I was her close friend and she deserved support from me. But deep down inside I held on to the hope that perhaps, just maybe we could've moved beyond friendship. Would it have worked out? Who knows. But I would have liked to have given it a shot.

After moving to Miami we remained in touch every once in a while. On a visit to New York we met and she showed me the pictures from her wedding in India. They were very nice snapshots. She eventually moved to Ohio with her hubby. The last time we spoke she was doing very well as a paralegal and enjoyed being with her husband. Ultimately it all seemed to have worked out exceptionally though unfortunately we haven't spoken in over a year.

I guess while watching "Annie Hall" I subconsciously recalled the relationship Ana and I had. Yet like all special moments they are fleeting and great while it lasted.

I just hope that our relationship doesn't end like the last scene in the movie: exchanging some parting phrases then departing on our separate ways forever.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Opera Oink

Well, I’m about to leave to go take a stress test which should hopefully provide answers on my heart’s function. I did this before in March of ’06, but the procedure was done incorrectly and now I’m going to do it again to make sure it comes out right.

There are several discomforts with taking the exam including fasting for roughly 14 hours before and during the exam as well as the nervousness that comes when being injected by odd chemicals to monitor my heart. (It was the latter that was incorrectly done 15 months ago since I was injected with the wrong chemical.)

Yet the thing that is bugging me the most is that I’ve been banned from having caffeine since Monday afternoon. Mind you I don’t take a lot of caffeine in one sitting, but it’s the little bits that add up. A cup of coffee with breakfast, maybe a soda during lunch, a small piece of chocolate after dinner, and a spot of tea before going to bed. The lack of these items has driven me nuts since last night, which is made worse by my fasting and only three hours of sleep. I eagerly look forward to getting the exam done, and enjoying a hearty and caffeine-filled lunch.

In the meantime, I will leave you all with one of my favorite animated shorts of all time. I remember the last time I saw this was at about 5 years ago on the defunct Cartoon Network program “Oh Canada.” Mercifully, I accidentally found this on YouTube yesterday and I’ve seen at least a dozen times since. It’s absolutely side-splittingly funny!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Five (Final Part)

Crap, I forgot all about finishing this series. I’ll be as brief as possible since I have more immediate matters to worry about such as my stress test Wednesday morning.

Part One here.

Part Two here.

Wednesday June 6th

That day was relatively simple and mild-mannered until I received a phone call from my former U.N. supervisor after I finished a quick lunch. We talked for quite a while about many things; chiefly the work I did for her roughly two years plus. The main point of the discussion was that she offered me a fantastic deal to return to the report I finished last year and expand on it. The most exciting part was the possibility that it could be published by year’s end! Though I anticipated taking it easy in the autumn and find employment, the U.N. work takes precedence over that.

Now I split most of my time doing thesis work, U.N. re-research, and a spot of blogging here. Yes I have to work twice as much as I had planned for the next six months, but I have faith and hope that great rewards will emerge from great sacrifices.

Thursday June 7th

I’ll confess that the day was somewhat uneventful; I went to go see my primary physician (he who has the uncanny knack of arguing with my mom every time they should meet. Thankfully, my appointment went well).

To be honest, the most notable part of the day was going out to lunch with mom since we walked nearly a mile in Long island city to chow down at a tiny Colombian joint. The place was full of so many lovely delicacies (e.g. empanadas, rotisserie chicken, three types of homemade soup) that it was hard to pick something small to eat. In the end I had a chorizo, arepa, and small coffee which all hit the spot.

Unfortunately, my camera was out of power which is why the only photo of that day is the one above. Hastily taken, it was snapped as I was showing my mom some pastries I found on the counter.

Now I have this stress test in about 12 hours to preoccupy my mind though I’m not overly worried about it. I just hope it works out and will eventually indicate my heart function.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hands in the (Bloody) Cookie Jar

As the Colombian cliché says- “te cojieron con las manos en la masa”:

(For those that don’t know Spanish, the above video dated “October 2001” showed Colombian president Alvaro Uribe meeting and shaking hands with a right-wing paramilitary leader.)

Oh yeah, Uribe really embodies the role of “a man with great moral responsibility who embodies all the requisites of a statesman”.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh Captain?

Though at times I act like a music snob around my friends and family I confess that deep down I'm really not. I can never be as knowledgeable in music as Stereogum or Chromewaves. It ain't gonna happen. Nope. No way.

Which is why I got on the subject of guilty pleasures after "talking" via e-mail with Venegas. I don't exactly remember how we got onto the subject, but I mentioned several of my "guilty pleasures" that include:
  • Spice Girls
  • "Abracadabra" by Steve Miller
  • Bananarama
  • Spandau Ballet's "True"
  • America

However, there's one group which belongs on that list but is far from cringeworthy - Double. I can't explain exactly why, but I really enjoy listen to Double. Maybe it's the smooth jazz undertones to their songs. Perhaps it's the slightly-accented vocals of Kurt Maloo. Could it be the cheezy synth beat that accompanied their most popular songs?

I just don't know.

One thing's for sure; I can listen to "The Captain of Her Heart" all friggin' day:

I have to admit, though, this is a little too odd for my (flawed?) tastes in music:

Thursday, June 14, 2007


It took me several days, but I finally found the cord to transfer my photos from digital camera to the computer. Over the weekend I might publish a post of pics from the past six months.

In the meantime here's a photo taken yesterday of my mom and our pet dog, Danger. The dog's not the least bit dangerous; rather, he's an old softie. On the other hand, mom can sometimes be the one who's dangerous if someone crosses her the wrong way.
Repeat after me:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Little Bit Off the Top

I'll be brief in tonight's post since I'm tired for numerous reasons. (One of them being trying to find the *%&$$ cord to transfer pics from my digital camera to my laptop.)

Yet earlier tonight I was peeved while watching classic MGM cartoons on Boomerang. The final animated short- Tex Avery's "Magical Maestro". I was upset by their removing a few elements of the cartoon due to sensitivity.

Sometimes I agree with certain instances that may be understood as insensitive, prejudiced, etc. (e.g. I was peeved at Don Imus' remarks against the Rutgers basketball team though I found it more insulting towards women than blacks). Yet there are occasions when political correctness goes to far; I hate the term "handicapable." Blech!

After watching the cartoon, I decided to see if I could find an uncensored version online and I did via YouTube:

I don't understand why Boomerang would show some edited version of "Magical Maestro." If it's too objectionable then don't show it. Place it on Cartoon Network's list of banned cartoons. Otherwise show the cartoon uncensored sans edits.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Wizard

I wasn’t planning on posting until later today, but I just read about this via the always informative

“Don Herbert, who explained the wonderful world of science to millions of young baby boomers on television in the 1950s and '60s as "Mr. Wizard" and did the same for another generation of youngsters on the Nickelodeon cable TV channel in the 1980s, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Herbert died at his home in Bell Canyon after a long battle with multiple myeloma, said Tom Nikosey, Herbert's son-in-law.”

Though I did not grow up watching most of Mr. Wizard’s series, there are three quick anecdotes I have on Herbert and his delightful program:

1- On New Year’s Eve 1999 I vowed to stay up for over 24 hours and pay attention to how different countries and cultures around the world decided to bring in the new “millennium”. (Yeah, I know I was technically off by a year.) I don’t remember what the experiments were about, but I do recall trying to figure out how to covert metric measurements to imperial at about five in the morning.

2- A few years ago I spent an entire Saturday afternoon mesmerized watching a Mr. Wizard marathon on Noggin. It was the 1950s version of the program and it was unbelievable how Herbert was able to communicate about science in a simple yet thought-provoking manner.

3- Lastly, as an avid viewer of Bill Nye: The Science Guy and Beakman’s World I owe an immense debt of gratitude to Herbert and his programs for showing that science can be fun and educational simultaneously.

Thank you Don Herbert. You will surely be missed.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Alternative to Sleep

Monday mornings I usually wake up at six o’clock feeling very groggy and tired from having slept a few scant hours the previous evening. Four hours of sleep is not the best way to commence any week, but I do so sans regrets.

You see, I stay up until two in the morning watching “120 Minutes” on VH1 Classic.

Despite all the cuts at MTV, VH1 and other Viacom entities a few months back, the format of “120 Minutes” is the same as a previous program called “The Alternative”. Though I enjoyed the program more when it was on late Sunday mornings, I gleefully await Monday at midnight when I put on VH1 Classic and hear the terrible faux-goth theme that introduces “120 Minutes.” No veejays. No banter. Just two hours of videos (with intermittent commercials, obviously).

Sometimes the program can be hit or miss since it tries to appeal to several different tastes within the rubric of “alternative music.” Last night’s episode was mostly miss for me though the first 90 minutes though there were a few good tunes from Love and Rockets and The Cure. Yet just as I was about to turn off the TV at around 1:40 am feeling somewhat disillusioned the following quartet of videos appeared (in order):

Morrissey - Last of the Famous International Playboys

The Breeders – Cannon Ball (Directed by the dynamic duo that was Spike Jonze and Kim Gordon)

Blur – She’s So High

Echo & The Bunnymen - The Killing Moon

Brilliance. Sheer, unadulterated brilliance.

It was difficult to fall asleep after watching those vids, I barely slept, and I felt like crap all day. But it was worth it.

And I’ll do it again next week.

No regrets.

Prologue: Venegas is a friggin' genius! Yesterday she told me that VH1 Classic has a daily "The Alternative" playlist via their website. (Todays playlist centered on David Byrne and Talking Heads).

I'm still going to stay up til 2am every Monday to watch "120 Minutes'. But the daily playlists will definitely make thing a bit easier

Gracias Venegas!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Five (Part Two)

That’s me somewhere behind the mic and Bill Broderick’s arm/improvised mic stand

Wednesday May 30th

By that morning I was less worried than the previous day, but still a little jittery from making sure that the speech I was going to give later would turn out to be as perfect as possible. Hence, I made sure to wake up a little late and have a very light breakfast before departing for Manhattan.

The luncheon was hosted in the building of an important financial firm located in midtown. The guests of honor were a delegation of physically disabled children from Ireland who visit the New York area every year on a goodwill trip. Their visit was funded through the same charity that helped pay for part of my undergrad tuition and gave me a boost during my darkest days a few years back: the Physically Challenged Irish and American Youth Team. Unfortunately, it’s not a very well-known charity despite all of the benevolent actions they do including pay for reconstructive surgeries of severely disabled kids. Nevertheless, it was a great honor for me to get to attend the luncheon and try to welcome these kids to the U.S. and New York.

Though I was not told to prepare a speech I knew I had to have one ready just in case I was instructed to speak. Sure enough, after arriving to the ballroom where the luncheon was being held I was greeted with a bear hug by the charity’s director and subsequently instructed to speak to the audience soon after.

“I just want you to greet these kids and welcome them to the States and tell them a bit about yourself.”

“No worries, sir. I’ve had it all planned out for days.”

“Just make it short cause there’ll be a lot of things to do.”

“Trust me Bill. Everything’s under control,” I replied while recalling all the mistakes I had made in the previous year’s speech such as drawing blanks, forgetting my main points, and stammering terribly.

After about an hour where I talked with a few VIP guests/prospective charity contributors, drank a glass of wine to ease my nerves, and headed to the bathroom to splash some water on my face, I was directed to come up to the podium to speak.

A lo que Dios quiera (it’s God’s will now),” I said to myself as I spoke.

In retrospect I’ve replayed those three minutes in my mind many times to try to pinpoint any errors. However, I can say the following without a scintilla of a doubt:

I was flawless.

Though nobody seemed to know who The Pogues were I introduced the song I was about to read as a double metaphor; one for the voyage the Irish delegation took to New York and second, how the charity helps kids in the U.S. and Ireland attain their goals much like the ship in the song. I read some lyrics from "The Irish Rover" including this stanza:

“On the 4th of July, eighteen hundred and six
We set sail from the cold bay of Cork
We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks
For the grand city hall in New York
She was a wonderful craft, she was rigged fore and aft
And oh, how the wild winds drove her
She had several blasts, she had 27 masts
And we called her the Irish Rover”

In the end I got a standing ovation (from those who could stand, that is) and it was then that I was filled with pride in accomplishing both what I had been sent out to do as well as to overcome the mistakes I made in previous occasions.

Throughout the rest of the luncheon I was far more relaxed and I talked to many people. With some I reminisced over old times such as high school or previous charity events. A representative of The Irish Consulate in New York remarked that I should've invited guests to sing "The Irish Rover" with me. (My reply: "Good idea, but we would've needed Shane McGowen!") With one incredibly attractive chaperone of the Irish delegation we talked about the poetry of Yates and Seamus Haney.

After the luncheon, I relaxed by visiting the nearby lobby of the Waldorf=Astoria and killing time before taking the Access-A-Ride back home. My normally dormant ego had blossomed by the time I commuted home, and it would stay that way for a few days.

Redemption truly is a wonderful feeling.

Sunday June 3rd

Like I mentioned in a post that day, Sunday was my grandmother’s 86th birthday. To all of my family it was an important occasion to celebrate another year of life of such an important, loved matriarch. I had the same feelings too but I also looked at it from the pessimistic standpoint of how much longer she has to live. Ever since my dad passed away I have been much more sensitive to issues of death. I just can’t deal with it as well as I ought to.

Sad thoughts aside, I was super glad to call her in Colombia and speak with her for a few minutes. Aside from wishing her a very happy birthday I emphasized that she needed to be more cognizant of her limitations. (For instance, she fell down a staircase in April and ended up very badly hurt). I gave her my heartfelt thanks for caring so much for my mom, brothers, and myself and reminded her of how much we care about her. It was very moving and nearly lost it over the phone but I pulled through.

That conversation really put things in their proper perspective for me and prepared me for the week ahead.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

My Five (Part One)

In yesterday’s post I opened with the following:

“With the weekend upon me, it had been one of those weird weeks that on the one hand I'm glad to put behind me yet at the same time has been very influential for me. I don't know how to explain it succinctly but I'll try to do so”.

Rather than go over the entire week in gruesome detail, the next few posts will highlight the events of five particular days over the past two weeks that have turned things hear over heels for me. I will do my best not to be too verbose.

Tuesday May 29th

Despite my best efforts over the preceding weekend, I did become a nervous wreck by that day since I still couldn’t figure out what the heck my speech topic would be. Twenty-four hours before giving the speech I decided to go to NYU for the first time in over six months. Returning to campus felt really weird since here were relatively few people on campus in comparison to the middle of either the fall or spring semesters. Moreover, I felt like an odd man out since I couldn’t recognize anyone there when I usually tend to spot a celebrity or a friend/colleague during my jaunts to campus. Still, I felt somewhat invigorated by being there and I was able to tie a few loose ends.

When I was a full-time student I would often eat out and my main place to go was this deli located on the southeast corner of Thompson and Bleecker. It used to be a dingy bodega-like store, but then it was renovated and I frequented the place due to its easy access and friendly Mexican staff.

Unfortunately, in my absence the aisles became narrower and I was forced to go elsewhere to satiate my appetite. That somewhere was a larger deli located off 5th Avenue and 8th Street, and it was there that I ordered this really delicious meaty sandwich along with free homemade lemonade.

Oh yeah, that calmed the nerves.

After lunch I slowly made my way to Long Island City (via the M5, Q32 bus combo) since I had an appointment with a cardiologist. Unlike my previous cardio doctor who was flippant and easily dismissive of patient’s physical concerns, this doctor was thorough, patient, and highly attentive. She was a breath of fresh air compared to the previous doc and I left the office feeling far more relieved than before.

It was on the commute back home that I finally figured out what to base my speech on. It was a magnificent stroke of luck that The Pogues’ “Irish Rover” popped into my mind. “Yes, it’s perfect!” I thought as I remembered small snippets of the lyrics.

“It would work.”

“No, it has to work.”

There was only one way to find out, and that would be on the next day.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Pedro the Mier

With the weekend upon me, it had been one of those weird weeks that on the one hand I'm glad to put behind me yet at the same time has been very influential for me. I don't know how to explain it succinctly but I'll try to do so.


In the meantime, the following video is of Pedro the Lion singing "Transcontinental" live in a 2004 concert. One of my brothers has grown increasingly interested in what I suppose can still be qualified as "indie rock" (e.g. Decemberists, Bloc Party). So this is for you lunarejo. Hope you like it:

By the way, the post's title is an inside joke. In case you were wondering.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Soda Stereo returns!

Why have I not blogged lately? A few reasons:
  1. I was busy playing catch-up with my thesis work.
  2. I received good news from my former supervisor at the U.N. which forced me to revisit the work I did for them that I finished last year.
  3. Bills, bills, bills!
  4. I did not want to talk about last week until I uploaded a few pics I took. (Maybe tomorrow, ha ha ha!)
So what was the impetus that made me blog today? Soda Stereo reunites!!! Well, it's not official yet, but like I wrote earlier today in The Latin Americanist:

"According to Argentine news agency Télam, legendary rock en español group Soda Stereo will get back together after being split up for a decade. The article goes on to note that they will perform in comeback tour visiting several Latin American nations including their home country of Argentina."


When I first read about I nearly fell out of my seat with a coronary. I sure as hell hope it is for real and that they perform in the NYC area.

Criminy, I get goose bumps just thinking about the remote possibility of maybe seeing something like this live and on stage:

The excitement is too much to bear!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Feliz Cumple, Abuelita!

No excuses folks. I promised yesterday to write about what happened to me while I was on the road last week but I never did. Maybe I'll write something up tomorrow, though knowing me I might not.

However, I'm in bright spirits today on account of my grandma's birthday. She celebrates 86 years of life and has always been a source of inspiration for me. All her life she resided in La Palma, Colombia (which I somewhat described here), and she has an inner strength that few can imagine. She is the quintessential doting grandmother with her family and is a pillar of unity amongst us. Sadly, age has sapped much of her physical strength though she tries to be as independent as possible. I sincerely hope that I can see her alive the next time I travel over there (whenever that is).

In reminiscing of all the good times with Grandma, I remembered the Bill Withers' song called "Lovely Day." She can be tough at times but for the most part she is one of the kindest, most generous people I've been fortunate and blessed to know. She has the uncanny knack to turn any day into a lovely day, and thus I wholeheartedly dedicate this song to her:

Friday, June 01, 2007

Joe Vasconcellos

The past three days have been the toughest I've had to put up with in quite a while in terms of the stakes involved and the high chance of failure. Yet somehow I pulled through and (obviously) I'm quite relieved by that.

Tomorrow I'll write in more detail about the past week.

Earlier today I was browsing through a few music websites in preparation for this Sunday's post on summer concerts. Fortunately I found Chilean musician Joe Vasconcellos' site and was pleasantly surprised to notice that he will be in NYC this July! Even better will be that it will be near my home at the Queens Theatre of the Arts. Joy!

Vasconcellos' music is absolutely fantastic and varied. He can jump between different genres from rock ("Sed de Gol") to salsa ("Quieto") to a more folkloric sounds like in this music video for "Hijo Del sol Luminoso":

I get goose bumps just listening to it. Extraordinary stuff!