Media, Random

How Was I Into That?

Over the holiday break, I decided to do a little cleaning and went through a box of momentos from the end of high school. I found some things that had me going, “why?” “What was I thinking?”

Then about a week ago, when I was listening to “The Searchers” episode of the Unspooled podcast, something clicked for me about how people’s connections to certain items and other people come about and how life can lead you to a drastic change in viewpoint about those same things.

The podcast is about the most recent AFI list of the top 100 films of all time. The hosts watch one of these films each week and discuss various aspects of the film, including should that film remain on the list the next time it’s done. They also bring on guests who have a connection to the film being discussed that week, or have an area of expertise related to the film.

For “The Searchers,” a John Wayne-led western from the 1950s, they interviewed Joely Proudfit, the chair and professor of American Indian Studies at California State University San Marcos. She is also the director of the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center.

When the discussion turned to cinematic portrayals of Native Americans and her present-day impression of her favorite movie characters growing up, she said the following of the character Billy Jack from the film of the same name:

I cannot believed I idolized this character, but [I came to realize] I idolized what he represented [to me]…Sometimes what we see on the screen is not necessarily what we see on the screen.

When I heard that part it immediately reminded me of going through my stuff. Sometimes we look back and we’re uncomfortable about a thing or two that we once had a huge amount of passion or enjoyment for.

But where is the discomfort coming from? Why are we embarrassed or, in extreme cases, ashamed of the some of the entertainers we liked or some of the things we once enjoyed in retrospect?

I don’t think it’s because we’re sad about the past passion we had for something, but rather we cringe at how we misplaced our energy. With the benefit of time, we realize we weren’t rooting for the surface person/thing. We were rooting for the ideal it represented to us—even in instances where that person/thing didn’t actually represent that ideal at all in reality. They/it did to us at the time in our minds, so it was real. The attachment of that ideal, whatever it was, to that person/thing helped us navigate a process or time in life when we needed it.

So even if it puzzles us down the road, those decisions all were an important piece in making us who we are. Even if it’s cringeworthy to look back at.


2018 Book List

I did music last week, now it’s time for books.

It was another good year of reading. As you will see below I was able to explore a lot of genres, from memoirs to romance to historical fiction and more. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy any of these books. However, my very favorites of the year are marked with an asterisk (*). I also wrote a short note about a few of the books.

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear

True Love by Jennifer Lopez

*New Uses for Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick (It’s nowhere near as vindictive as it sounds.😉)

The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey by Muhammad Ali with Hana Ali

I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of Hollywood’s Legendary Actresses by Robert Wagner with Scott Eyman

Art in the Blood by Bonnie MacBird

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

A Story Lately Told by Anjelica Huston

Watch Me by Anjelica Huston

How to Be an Overnight Success: Making It in Business by Maria Hatzistefanis

*The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger (This book had to be marked as a favorite. I wrote a whole post about it after I read it.)

*Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

Worldly Escapes: Across America and Around the Globe (compilation)

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Forgiveness by Chiquis Rivera (A study in how complex a family’s love can be.)

Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew

Beach Blues by Joanne DeMaio

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani (I didn’t expect the twist at the end of this one.)

*The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Only in Spain: A Foot-Stomping, Firecracker of a Memoir about Food, Flamenco, and Falling in Love by Nellie Bennett

Dead Wrong (novella) by Leighann Dobbs

*The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna

A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope by Tom Brokaw

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander

*Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder


Good Mood Music: 2018 Faves

The end of the year is upon us, and there’s no better time to look back at some of the music that soundtracked my year.

My fave project from any artist this year was Alina Baraz’s EP The Color of You. It didn’t even take any time for me to warm up to it. I loved it–all of it–from the start.

Another person who couldn’t miss for me this year is Cardi B. She gives me this kind of Left Eye energy and frankness vibe with a little Selena earthiness thrown in. From her album Invasion of Privacy to all of her single projects like the “Finesse Remix” with Bruno Mars, “Money,” and her features on “Backin’ It Up” and the ensemble jam “Taki Taki,” if I needed to get hype, Cardi was who I was scrolling to.

One of my songs of the summer also featured Cardi: “Dinero” by Jennifer Lopez. It also featured DJ Khaled.

Continue reading “Good Mood Music: 2018 Faves”

Media, Music

Good Mood Music: Singin’ In The Rain

Recently, I was flipping TV channels and came across the classic movie Singin’ In The Rain. Though it’s more well known for its dance, the song made quite an impact as well.



The song “Singin’ In The Rain” was written in the late 1920s by Arthur Freed. Freed was a songwriter for many Hollywood movies. The music was done by Freed’s longtime collaborator Nacio Herb Brown.

The song’s first recorded performance was in 1929’s The Hollywood Music Box Revue. But the song came to prominence as the centerpiece of the musical movie of the same name, released in 1952. In addition to the legendary dance seen where Gene Kelly performs the song and trademark choreography, the song is also performed during the opening credits of the movie as well as towards the end by Debbie Reynolds.

The song has been recorded and sampled more times than can probably be imagined. One of my other favorite renditions came, for the Movies That Rock tribute, when Usher paid homage to Kelly by performing the song and choreography.


It’s one of those songs that when you hear it transports you to a different place inside your head. Whether it’s because of its notoriously different song structure making it stand out from the other songs you’ve been listening to or you start imagining the choreography as it plays, the song is a good mental reset button when your mind needs a break.


2018 Doha Worlds: Finals Notebook

2018 Worlds are over. As always, it was filled with ups and downs. But I’d say there were more ups than downs overall this year. Here are some notes and observations from the six days of finals. (At least, what I can remember. I forgot to write a lot of stuff down in real time.)

The New Format

Prior to this year, the two teams paired together for the final would compete in blocks  with the three team members from each country competing back-to-back-to-back. For example:

team A, member 1
team A, member 2
team A, member 3

After they went, the first team to perform on the apparatus would be followed by a brief warm-up, then:

team B, member 1
team B, member 2
team B, member 3

Starting at these Worlds, the teams alternated competitors with no 2nd warm-up during the rotation:

team A member 1
team B member 1
team A member 2
team B member 2
team A member 3
team B member 3

There was a little concern about how it would work for certain events, particularly men’s parallel bars and women’s uneven bars, because of the individual preferences gymnasts have for the preparation of these apparatus. From what I can tell, it didn’t cause any major problems during the competition. I noticed that different countries to have to collaborate with each other quite a bit more than normal to make it work, though. For example, I noticed Laurent Landi of the US helping the Russian team set up the bars for their next competitor after a US gymnast had gone.

Men’s Team Final

The medalists for the men’s team final were expected to be (in alpha order): China, Japan and Russia. It ended up that way, but it surely wasn’t straightforward.

At the halfway point Japan appeared to have a decent chance at gold. But a botched parallel bars routine left them concentrating on preserving bronze instead of going for gold.

That left China and Russia battling for the top of the podium. Punctuated by a brilliant vault rotation for both teams, they stayed close through the rest of the meet. Ending on high bar, things were going smoothly until Xiao Routeng, the last Chinese competitor, fell leaving the door open for Russia.

Nikita Nagornyy basically needed the score he received in prelims, but a slight error left him with score 0.049 short of the score needed to win.

But despite coming up short of gold, the Russians had reason to celebrate. The result is Russia’s first worlds medal in 12 years for the guys.

Women’s Team Final

The women’s team final podium ended up in an expected order with the podium being the US, Russia and China, but we had some drama getting there. Four or five teams had a chance at the podium during the last rotation, most notably Brazil and France, but in the end the three usual suspects ended on the podium.

What does the record setting margin of victory by the US say? That despite not being able to trust the organization at present moment, the team members can still trust each other.

A Bit Strange But True: The highest score of the women’s team final was on bars, not vault or floor. And it was by Simone.

Per the new Olympic qualifying procedures, the medalists from both team finals (China, Russia and Japan for the men; the US, Russia and China for the women) are now the first three men’s teams qualified for Tokyo. Continue reading “2018 Doha Worlds: Finals Notebook”


2018 Doha Worlds: Caribbean Gymnast Qualifying Results and Some Other Thoughts

This year’s round of qualifications was—thankfully—less hectic and injury-riddled than last year in Montreal. Here are some highlights from the four days of qualifications.

Caribbean Gymnasts Qualifications Summary

Worlds newcomer Raegan Rutty of the Cayman Islands obviously enjoyed her big stage debut. After finishing quals in 81st position, she had some fun taking pictures.


The delegation from Cuba is probably disappointed with their results. However, the issues started a couple of months ago. It was then that it was uncovered that the federation would not be sending its standout female gymnast Marcia Videaux to Doha because of monetary concerns. In fact, the only reason Randy Leru was able to attend is because Manrique Larduet was able to secure an Olympic scholarship for attendance costs.

Once in Qatar, their fortunes didn’t improve unfortunately. Manrique had to withdraw from from the all-around because of a hand injury, and ended up just outside of the high bar final (he is first reserve in case any of the competitors ahead of him withdraw). Randy missed out on any finals as well, finishing 78th in all-around qualifications.

It was disappointment for Audrys Nin Reyes of the Dominican Republic as well. He struggled on his pet event, vault, ending up completely off the podium (literally) after the landing of his first attempt and almost in the lap of a judge. The Dominican Republic also had to forego sending a woman competitor because of monetary concerns.

Again, the largest delegation from the region came from Jamaica. In fact, it was the first time the country was able to compete as a team on the women’s side.

Continue reading “2018 Doha Worlds: Caribbean Gymnast Qualifying Results and Some Other Thoughts”


Good Mood Music: Best Part

There are some songs that hit you right in the feels, in a good way. “Best Part” is one of those for me. Performed by Daniel Caesar and H.E.R., the song transports me to a place where I just relax and smile–completely taken away in my head. I could try to explain it further, but it probably just be me rambling on and on.

…I just wanna see
I just wanna see how beautiful you are
You know that I see it
I know you’re a star
Where you go I follow
No matter how far
If life is a movie
Oh you’re the best part…