Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mozart: better than Prozac

More and more I am using music as a kind of relaxation therapy. I put on the headphones, close my eyes and I do a 45 minute escape. And frankly, the music I am using for this is the kind of silly looking CD's that feature classical music. These days it's "Mozart for Massage". Last week it was "Bach for Relaxation". I can imagine classical music fans being outraged at this kind of use of classical music. But I love it. For a few minutes I listen to this music and everything is fine. Better than Prozac. Better than so many things that ruin your health. Put on some "Chopin at Midnight" and all destructive thoughts just dissappear.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Swiss Chalet, the Under the Trees. Some memories.

I am dedicating these two photos to my parents. They show two places from their youth. Places where they got together to talk, to have something to eat, perhaps have a soda. They were both located in Condado in De Diego Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Under the Trees was a restaurant that specialized in sandwiches, chicken wings. It was the Dunbar's of the 1950's. I remember going there, but it was no longer a popular place.
The Swiss Chalet was a special restaurant. They had the best tasting bolitas de queso in the world. I remember going there on Sundays with my whole family. My parents, my grandparents, aunts, uncles. And after having lunch we would sometimes go to catch a movie at The Riviera theater. located around the corner. It was such a wonderful time in my life. There was something so reassuring about having everyone I loved together in one place. Now most of them are gone. But as I write this I am remembering them. Keeping them alive through my thoughts. And recalling small moments that will never happen again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

back to work

Tomorrow I am going back to freelancing at an agency. A small miracle in a way. These are tough economic times and very few places are looking for freelancers. But thanks to Facebook I was able to get a two week gig. And one that involves working until 4pm only. Which is wonderful. I will leave work while the sun is still out. Now that's a miracle.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

box office karma

Seven years ago, my favorite movie theater, The Riviera in Calle Loiza, was torn down. Here is a photo of the old box office before the destruction. In its place stand two towers that have been a financial disaster. Karma indeed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A taste of happiness

As summer of 2008 fades into history, I am re-reading a book about the wonders of that season. It's "Dandelion Wine" by Ray Bradbury. The author is best know for his sci-fi classics such as "The Martian Chronicles" and "Fahrenheit 451 (not so much fiction anymore in this world of Sarah Palin and her library censorship ways).

But this book is different. It is a summer tale full of whim and magic. It takes place in the summer of 1927 in a small town in the United States. We meet different characters and many small things happen. Small things that show us that what is significant in life is not the big moments, but the small ones. In this book happiness is anywhere, even in the simple joy of drinking a glass of dandelion wine.

Reading this book, one enters a world of good, decent people. A place of magic. But it is magic far different from the one in Garcia Marquez's world. This is a place one would love to visit. Because it reminds one that sometimes people can be good. That good things can happen. That sometimes all one needs to be happy is a bit of refreshing, sweet dandelion wine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Three Comrades

A few years ago I decided to re-read Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet in the western Front". I enjoyed the experience so much i decided to read some of his lesser known works. And they are truly remarkable books. One of those I read was "Three Comrades", a book about 3 friends trying to survive in the tough years following the First World War.

I had no idea that a movie had been based on that novel. So it was really interesting to tune in Turner Classic Movies and see it.
And it truly is a good movie. Not suprisingly, the movie tones down on the politics present in the book and tends to concentrate on the friendship between the 3 comrades and the ill fated love affair of one of them with a woman stricken with TB. Still, it's remarkable movie, considering it was made in 1938, when the US still mantained a certain neutrality towards Nazi Germany.

A wonderful find indeed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When cool chicks ruled the earth

A month ago one of my childhood's favorite movies finally arrived on DVD. It's "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth". I remember reading about the movie on Famous Monsters magazine and seeing the photos of the cool dinosaurs and the incredibly beautiful Victoria Vetri. I could not wait to see the movie. Unfortunately in those days, movies took about six months after their US premiere to get to local theaters. So I waited patiently.

Until finally I saw the poster on the Puerto Rico movies theater in Santurce. And it was more than a poster, it was a huge cutout showing amazing Ms, Vetri and the dinosaurs. That first weekend it played, I was there with a couple of friends. And I loved the movie. I think I probably saw it again at a double feature.

Seeing it again, I can understand why I liked it so much. The effects are very good for its time. The movie was fun and fast paced. But I also see that part of the appeal was watching Victoria Vetri. I was 9 years old and discovering the beauty and appeal of women. So, in a way, she was my first movie crush. Yes, that was it. And looking at her so many years later, I must admit I had pretty good taste.

This movie is shown for the first time in its original, uncut version featuring some nudity. A nice extra that the 9 year old who saw it at the Puerto Rico theater would have loved.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

high school reunions

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of my graduation from High School. I didn't go to my 10th and 20th reunion parties. Somehow I didn't feel like seeing people from that period of my life. I was never part of the cool group there. My friends and I were the under the radar crowd. So I had no sense of nostalgia that would drive me to one of these events. The few people from high school that I cared about, I would occasionally see here and there. The rest, well, I didn't care much about them.

Then something interesting happened this year. I went to my niece's high school graduation and somehow felt a sense of nostalgia about the old high school. I sang the school song and for a few minutes felt part of the whole place. I never thought I would feel like that.

Now, I'm part of my class Facebook group and I'm seriously considering attending the event, especially if some of my old friends living in the Mainland decide to attend. 30 years down the road, I finally feel at ease with my high school years. Took me a while, I know. But better late than never.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Remembering the Cinerama

The Cinerama theater in San Juan, Puerto Rico was one of my favorite movie theaters when I was a kid. It's curved screen and spectacular achitecture made it a special place to watch movies. The Cinerama specialized in showing epic movies, but even the cheapest exploitation movies (and they ocassionally showed those), looked great on the giant screen.

One reason I am posting about the Cinerama is that this week a special edition of the movie "How the West Was Won" appeared on DVD. This was the first movie shown at the Cinerama way back in 1962. It was also the first real movie shown in the Cinerama process which featured three projectors showing the movie at the same creating, creating an effect which made scenery even more real than today's IMAX. Unfortunately, the cost of making movies and the fact that only a few theaters in the world could show real Cinerama made it unprofitable and Cinerama died.

So it is interesting to think that San Juan was one of the few cities in the world with a Cinerama theater. I was too young to see "How the West was Won" there, but I remember seeing " Reds" and "Krakatoa, East of Java" there. Unfortunately, the Cinerama, like most Santurce theaters became a victim of the urban decay and crime ridden 1980's and it closed. I was able to take a photo of it before it became a carpet store. A carpet store, What a sad ending to one of San Juan's most special, magical places.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vicki Cristina Barcelona

Maybe I have been concentrating too much on movies I saw as a kid. So it's time to comment on recent movies I've seen and liked. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is the new Woody Allen movie. It is not advertised as an Allen movie I guess because people these days have a negative attitude towards his movies. Which is a real shame. Because even a bad Allen movies is more intelligent and better than 99% of the trash that clogs the multiplexes. But such is life in movieland these days.

Which does not mean this is a bad Woody Allen movies. This is one of the really good ones. It's fun, it is witty, it is very sexy without being explicit about it. Even though Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson get all the headlnes, it actually Rebecca Hall as Vicki that makes this movies special. Her low key performance is truly wonderful.

So go ahead, enjoy a movie about romance, love, Spanish guitar music and Barcelona. You cant go wrong with it

Monday, September 01, 2008

a 10 year old again

One of the wonders of the DVD era is that once again one can enjoy the movies one saw as a boy. And with my new LCD I can see them even better than I did when I saw them on the local movie house. Which takes me to one of my favorite movies as a child.

I saw "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun" at the old Cortes I theater in Miramar back in 1970 in a double feature. I remember being blown away by it. I may have even seeing it twice. And now I can see why. This was way back when the Space Age was at its peak. The Apollo 11 had just landed on the moon. And boys everywhere were obsessed with anything dealing with space. Then this movie comes along full of cool gadgets, showing how life could be a century from 1970, although people dressed in cool 1960's clothes.

The plot is this. An astronaut travels to a just discovered planet on the far side of the sun. But when he gets there he finds out the planet is a mirror image of the sun. Which means that when gets there, to him watches work the other way around. He is completely disoriented because everything is a mirror image. It's a pretty cool concept.

I loved seeing this movie again in my big LCD. The colors are cool, the gadgets are pretty silly now, but still...this is a pretty interesting movie. Especially if you spend an afternoon at the Cortes 38 years ago.

these days

I have been out of work for quite a while. I did work freelance for a month and a half, but things have been pretty quiet. These are tough times for the advertising industry and tougher for a 47 year old copywriter in an industry that only wants young people. So I have been back to basics, trying to create a portfolio and all that. I have also been given a chance to see this a sort of sabbatical in which I have been able to relax, read, meditate, exercise and watch movies on my new LCD.
So I am enjoying myself. I am relaxed. After 22 years of almost non-stop stress....maybe it was all for the best.

here again

It's been quite a while since my last post. I bet nobody is visiting this site anymore. So here I am promising once again I will write.