*Mayo Siempre es Duro

Este confinamiento me pone mucho mas reflexivo que antes…. Me paso este mes reflexionando sobre esta crisis global por la que estamos viviendo, y no puedo evitar sentir cierto alivio que mamá no este pasando por estos momentos de tanta incertidumbre. Me imagino la ansiedad que ella estuviera sintiendo en estos momentos, y en cierta forma me alegra que no este sufriendo ni pasando por esta experiencia con aires apocalípticos por la que estamos viviendo.

Pero al mismo tiempo, extraño mucho a mi madre, y daría cualquier cosa por escuchar su voz una vez mas — Escuchar en el tono de su voz esa preocupación por mi bienestar que yo solía sentir al escuchar su voz cuando me llamaba. Especialmente en estos meses que me he sentido un poco down, no sintiéndome muy bien. 

Pero ahora ya me encuentro razonablemente mejor. Volviendo a sentirme mas normal. 

El mes de Mayo siempre es duro… es el mes de las madres. Ya han pasado cuatro largo y miserables años desde que mamá se fue. 

Digo que han sido miserables por la falta que ella me hace, y no por la calidad de vida que llevo, la cual es mucho mejor que antes. Mas bien me refiero al luto que llevo conmigo permanentemente. 

Y no puedo evitar sentirme solo…. pensar que la única persona que estaba dispuesta a dar su vida por mi, ya no existe.

Aunque se muy bien que no estoy solo — que tengo gente cerca que me aprecia y disfruta mi compañía. Mi soledad esta centrada en una nostalgia de algo y alguien que ya no existe. Entiendo muy bien la naturaleza de la vida….pero eso no quiere decir que la acepte. 

Vivir es una experiencia solitaria — Todo lo que sentimos y todas nuestras experiencias como seres humanos son experiencias solitarias. Nacemos, vivimos y morimos solos…sin importar cuantas personas tengamos a nuestro alrededor. Cargamos con todo el peso de nuestra humanidad solos.

Mi única familia inmediata por 24 años fueron solamente mi madre, mi hermana y nadie mas. Fuimos una familia de tres y ahora quedamos dos. Recogiendo los pedazos y empezando de nuevo lentamente…. día por día, semana tras semana, mes por mes, año tras año. 

Ahora mi madre ya no existe, y mi hermana vive en otra ciudad lejos de aquí. 

Vivo lejos de todo lo que por 24 años fue nuestro hogar. Lejos de aquellas calles, edificios, restaurantes, y lugares que siempre me recordaran a mamá. Tenia que alejarme de todo aquello que me traiga recuerdos de momentos vividos, las alegrías, las tristezas y todas aquellas experiencias compartidas.

El exilio era mi única opción — y quizás por eso es que me siento tan solo….  

Mi soledad es triste, pero es justa. Es lo que yo quería, es lo que yo busque, es lo que yo necesitaba.

Yo todavía era un niño cuando mamá tomo la audaz decision en dejar toda una vida atrás — dejar a su familia y emigrar a Virginia. Se enfrento a la realidad de un mundo desconocido e incierto completamente sola — Y lo hizo con huevos de hierro. 

Todavía recuerdo esa noche oscura y tibia, cuando nos despedimos de la familia en el aeropuerto. 

Esa noche en al aeropuerto parecía que aquellas despedidas eran solamente algo provisional, y no adios un para siempre. 

En esa noche oscura y tibia de Febrero, mamá abrazo y sintió el calor de su familia por ultima vez —Después de esa noche, mamá nunca mas volvió a ver a su familia.

Dia de las Madres (Mayo, 2007)

Pero al mismo tiempo, se muy bien que ella estaba feliz con su vida en Estados Unidos…. con su estilo de vida, y con su rutina. Estaba resignada a vivir acá con sus dos hijos — Muchas veces me confeso sus deseos de vivir el resto de sus días cerca de nosotros. Me hablo tantas veces de lo que teníamos enfrente por lograr los tres. Ella quería que volvamos los tres a vivir bajo el mismo techo…. quizás para mi hubiera sido un poco difícil, por que yo ya tenia planes de mudarme a New York City—su muerte, acelero mi cambio de ciudad. Pero al mismo tiempo, estoy completamente seguro que mi hermana y ella hubieran vuelto a vivir juntas eventualmente, de eso no tengo la menor duda. 

En estos momentos de tanta incertidumbre, me imagino a mamá sentada sublimemente en el balcón de su apartamento — en ese apartamento donde ella vivió sus últimos años sola, la imagino un poco triste, con su mente envuelta en pensamientos de nostalgia y soledad. Me imagino a mamá recordando esa noche oscura y tibia de Febrero, cuando abrazo y sintió el calor de su familia por ultima vez. 

Mis intensas y personales conversaciones con mamá durante tantos años viven permanentemente en mi conciencia. Es allí donde ella sigue existiendo. Es allí donde nos volvemos a encontrar… donde volvemos a conversar intensamente.

Eso es lo mágico de la perdurabilidad de su memoria — Es precisamente allí donde, a mi parecer, reside eternamente el verdadero amor.

Quizás por eso es que me he puesto a pensar últimamente en la nostalgia y soledad que mamá debió haber sentido en todos esos 24 años lejos de su familia. Puedo entender muy bien lo que ella debió haber sentido. Tal vez por que ella y yo compartimos muchas cosas en común — una sensibilidad profunda por el pasado, por ejemplo.

Siempre fuimos nostálgicos por naturaleza.

Admiro su fortaleza por haber dejado una vida atrás y empezar de nuevo con garra y tenacidad. Admiro su incansable búsqueda por ser feliz, y por una mejor vida — Para mi, todo eso es como una fusion nuclear de inspiración para seguir viviendo. Las promesas incumplidas ahora están envueltas en nostalgias. 

Emigrar a este país fue algo que me toco tiempo entender bien, y dejarme acá solo, fue como un regalo que estoy recién aprendiendo a apreciar. Y ahora mas que nunca…entiendo mas claramente a mi madre. 

¿Pero cómo no voy a entenderte mamá?…..Si tu y yo compartimos esa misma nostalgia y soledad.

Dia de las Madres (Mayo, 2011)

*MOVIE RECAP: THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY

It took a global pandemic to start catching up with the movies and TV series on my long-ass “To Watch List,” I had this movie on my Netflix watch list since 2018, and I finally got around to watch it…. And what a pleasant watching experience it was.

The story is set during the German occupation of the island of Guernsey, and how a group of villagers created a book group to amuse and distract themselves during the Nazi occupation. Within the first few minutes of the movie, you will find out why the book group is called The Guernsey Literary Potato peel Pie Society (a mouthful indeed).

The main character is Juliet Ashton (Lilly James), a writer who, during world war II has become a successful writer and begins to exchange correspondence with Dawsey (Michiel Huisman), a pig farmer from Guernsey, who is a member of the Book Society. Lilly James has an exceptionally charismatic screen presence in everything I have seen her in, and she is excellent here as well.

Juliet finds herself creatively and emotionally unfulfilled, so she decides to write about the literary society, visit Guernsey, and attend a meeting of the Book Society. Her American boyfriend Mark (Glen Powell), whom I think is supposed to be an OSS officer, proposes to Juliet right before she leaves for Guernsey.

While in Guernsey, Juliet embarks on a journey of self-discovery. She begins to take an interest in the mysterious disappearance of one of the book society’s founding members. Romance, literature, and the power of letters are central to the narrative here—the importance and relevance of culture during a dark and nasty time in world history.

Essentially, this film is an ensemble piece made up of seasoned British actors; Penelope Wilton (Amelia), Tom Courtenay (Eben), Katherine Parkinson (Isola), Kit Connor (Eli), Jessica Brown Findlay(Elizabeth), and Matthew Goode (Sidney). All the characters are compelling, quirky, and engaging. I admire how it was shot, the tone, and the color palettes capturing the atmosphere of the period — Gorgeous scenery depicting small village life, full of beautiful customs and settings.

This movie is a beautifully rendered adaptation of the novel by the same name — written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Screenplay by: Kevin Hood, Don Roos, and Tom Bezucha. And Charmingly directed by Mike Newell.

The film feels a bit light within the context of the horrors of the Nazi occupation — I wanted to see more of what life was like for those who lived in Guernsey during the occupation. However, as is, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been one of my most enjoyable viewing experiences during this lockdown.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society (2018). Streaming on Netflix

*MOVIE RECAP: DARK PHOENIX

The complete dismantling of the X-Men series finally came full circle with this mess of a movie.

Dark Phoenix was the last movie made by FOX in the X-Men film series before handing over the entire MARVEL universe to Disney. Hopefully, for the better.

I came to this movie completely open-minded and ignoring all the bad reviews I saw online, and for once, the online trolls were right. Glad I didn’t spend any of my hard-earned dollars on this disaster of a movie in the theaters.

X-Men First Class (2010) and X-Men Days of Future Past (2013) were fucking fantastic — Love those two movies—X-Men Apocalypse (2015j, was not up to the standard set by the previous two installments. Still, it was an enjoyable and entertaining movie.

The first 15 minutes of Dark Phoenix were promising. The car crash sequence was nicely shot — I was all in, but then, the script falls apart. The whole thing is 114 minutes too long.

Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) accidentally absorbing this cosmic energy and gaining ” Phoenix Power” was far-fetched and ridiculous. Turner’s Jean Grey came off as dry and lacking any excitement. She was pretty good in X-Men Apocalypse, so I suspect the screenplay is the culprit here. Famke Janssen’s portrayal of Dr. Grey provided the blueprint on how this character should be approached.

The rest of the supporting cast was uninspiring. Storm now has a British accent? Cyclops was forgettable. Jessica Chastain, who is always great in everything she does, seemed uninterested in playing this dual character. Jennifer Lawrence (Raven) also seemed disinterested.

Michael Fassbender (Magneto) and James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) are pure magic together. Their storyline is super compelling. Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) was great. The climactic action sequences at the end of the movie were pretty impressive. Everything else was poorly conceived.

We go from X-Men First Class set in 1962, and then we come to Dark phoenix set in 1992, and both Magneto and Professor Xavier look like they have not aged at all. It feels like filmmakers do not give a damn about simple little things that we fans take seriously.

Both Days of Future Past and Apocalypse attempted to reset the convoluted X-Men timeline. However, there were still a bunch of holes and discrepancies — Now Disney is in the unique position to fix the series or start over with a complete reboot of the series. Maybe James Mangold (Logan, 2017) should be seriously considered to take the reigns of future X-Men movies.

All in all, Dark Phoenix is worth watching at least once. The final scene between Magneto and Professor Xavier was a sweet send-off to twenty years of X-Men movies.

Two out of Five popcorn Bags 🍿🍿

Dark Phoenix (2019j.

* TRILOGY RECAP: UNBREAKABLE-SPLIT-GLASS

It took me a few years to finally catch up with this complete trilogy, and it took a global pandemic to allow me the time to watch them all in order.

The Unbreakable Trilogy, also known as the Eastrail 177 Trilogy — Comprises of Unbreakable (2000), Split (2016), and Glass (2019). All of them written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

I had lots of fun binging through these three films. I love the groundbreaking premise these films push forward and the deconstruction of the Superheroe comic book movie. Superheroes are real; They are all out there—they have always been out there, and any one of us could potentially be one.

M. Night Shyamalan broke into the movie industry with the Sixth Sense (1999), a Well-made Horror-thriller — I still remember the joy I felt when I walked out of the movie theater; I saw it at the newly opened Ballston Regal movie theater in Arlington, Virginia, all the way back in ’99.

M. Night followed the success of Sixth Sense with Unbreakable. I remember that I went on a date with a girl who wanted to see it badly on its opening weekend. She was a huge horror fan and loved watching anything that sounded scary or might potentially be scary. I guess she figured, since it was the same Sixth Sense writer-director, it might be along the same line as 6th Sense. We had no idea what exactly we were walking into, and it was definitely not marketed as a superhero movie. My date walked out of the theater perplexed; she did not like it.

I, on the other hand, loved it—the whole idea of what if superheroes could exist in real life was fascinating. The unique concept that we live amongst superhuman beings and how discovering their existence would change the way we perceive ourselves. It was a more realistic take on how superheroes could be like in the real world; Working regular jobs, living an everyday life without really knowing their powers and weaknesses. David Dunn (Bruce Willis), never remembering being sick, never realizing that his only weakness is water. The choice of having Dunn wear an oversized poncho that resembles a superhero cape was genius. The dialogue was very deliberate, and the scenes are shot kind of like a comic book. It was an excellent movie-going experience, and we were teased for more films, but it took M. Night 19 years to complete his trilogy.

When SPLIT came out, I had no idea that it was connected to Unbreakable. The Marketing once again omitted to mention any connection to David Dunn or Mr. Glass. It wasn’t until I heard the online chatter regarding its relationship to unbreakable that it piqued my interest. Sadly, I could not see it in the theaters. I was going through a rough patch in my life, and I could not afford to spend money or time to go to the movies. I eventually saw that it was streaming on HBO, so I set up my DVR and recorded it to watch it sometime in the future, which I finally did during this lockdown — I only wished that I had seen it on the big screen when it came out.

Jame McAvoy is out of this world with this performance — He is terrific here, playing all those characters. However, I kept wondering where things were heading….waiting for the Unbreakable characters to show up. Still, I was patient, knowing full well how M. Night hits you with those unexpected mind-blowing twists like he did in some of my other M.Night personal favorite films: SIGNS (2002), THE VILLAGE (2004), and THE VISIT (2015).

Anya Taylor-Joy was amazing here playing Casey — we get to see how she begins to develop a type of Stockholm Syndrome connection with Kevin. All in all, SPLIT is a solid stand-alone sequel.

Right after I finish streaming SPLIT, I streamed GLASS.…. You have to watch GLASS with a clear understanding of the first two movies as reference points. I was excited to see Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson back together, but they barely get any screen time. David Dunn did almost nothing, somewhat relegated in the background. Its been 15 years since the events of Unbreakable, and it is reflected in the movie. Bruce Willis’s character is visibly older.

Sarah Paulson was an excellent addition to the cast; she was subtle and effective in all of her scenes. Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey, and It was cool to have Joseph Dunn back played by the same actor now all grown up (Spencer Treat Clark). He is now more of an Alfred type of character, assisting his father on crime-fighting vigilante escapades while keeping his true identity a secret.

I was not expecting to be as disappointed with how the story unfolded as I was. I had some issues with the mental facility where all three extremely dangerous prisoners are being kept. It seems to be a minimum-security facility and guarded by blatantly incompetent staff members….. The whole thing seemed far-fetched.

And what about the typical and expected M. Night movie twist?…. Well, it is an underwhelming twist; A shadow organization that has existed for thousands of years. They identify and track down superhumans while suppressing the truth from the public. What is the grand plan from this secret society?…. Maybe this concept could be explored further and potentially become a setup for future films within this universe.

After 19 years of waiting for the conclusion of this trilogy, I was expecting something epic, but it left me a bit underwhelmed. I was under the impression that Glass was going to be M. Night’s crowning achievement. Nevertheless, I still found these three films to be remarkable filmmaking achievements. I consider myself a fan of M Night Shyamalan filmmaker; he has proven to be a director, not afraid to try different things. With his last few projects, he seems to be returning to his origins as a filmmaker.

As a complete Trilogy: Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

*MOVIE RECAP: CAPTAIN MARVEL

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) finally catching up and giving female superhero characters their own front and center movies is long overdue…. (Cannot wait for Black Widow, 2020).

Captain Marvel is essentially the precursor to Avengers Endgame, putting the last piece of the marvel cinematic universe puzzle together — I confess that I waited until most of the Avengers movies were available on streaming to catch up… (thanks Disney+).

I am not a massive expert on MCU or DC Extended Universe (DCEU), but I consider myself to be a fanboy of some of the individual characters like Captain America, Winter Soldier, and Thor. I have been reading this excellent comic series: Red Skull by Joshua Williamson and Hail Hydra by Rick Remender I highly recommend them. The Captain America movie trilogy is fantastic, by the way —watch all three in one seating if you can.

I have some mixed feelings regarding Captain Marvel — there were a bunch of things I liked, and a few I did not: The Stan Lee appreciation opening logo was awesome. Everyone should stand and clap whenever this new logo hits the screen. Sam Jackson’s de-aging CGI was impressive. Jude Law is always fantastic in whatever he is in, and he is exceptional here again. Ben Mendelsohn, as Talos, is pure joy to watch. The twist with The Skrulls storyline was my favorite part, and the end credits easter eggs/spoilers are also pretty cool.

However, it was hard for me to connect with Captain Marvel as much as I connected with other marvel characters or even Wonder Woman. Trying to turn Captain Marvel into MCU’s version of Wonder Woman was not a success, which is what this movie attempted to accomplish — Simply put, she is not as charismatic as Wonder Woman. I saw a bunch of online criticism surrounding Brie Larson’s performance, but I cannot entirely agree; I think Brie Larson is an outstanding actress… the hell with it; she is an Academy Award-winning actor. So If you want to blame anything, blame the script.

We all know where Captain Marvel fits within the hierarchy of Superheroes. We all know she is the most powerful Avenger in the MCU, so we know the stakes are low as far as danger or vulnerability is concerned. Plus, we know where she and the rest of the superheroes will end up — which makes this movie just a simple origins story and, in a way, an introduction to Carol Danvers/Vers AKA Captain Marvel to a casual and more extensive audience. Even as an origin story, this movie rushes in and comes off as flat and unoriginal.

There was way too much military jargon and overplayed military terminology being used. Even the friendship between Rambeau and Danvers was not compelling enough for me. Annette Bening was terrific, but I felt like her Supreme Intelligence/Dr. Wendy Lawson’s character needed more screen time.

By far, Captain Marvel is the least impressive of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero movies; nonetheless, some interesting and compelling parts make this movie worth watching a couple of times.

Two out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿

Captain Marvel (2019).

*TV SERIES RECAP: HIGH FIDELITY (Season 1)

First of all, I am a purist when it comes to original content, so it is essential to emphasize how much I dislike reboots or remakes…. I get the sense sometimes that Hollywood is hitting rock bottom when it comes to creating original content; however, this TV version of High Fidelity was a pleasant surprise. Based on the High Fidelity novel by Nick Hornby, which was released in 1995 and made into a well-received film in 2000 starring John Cusack.

Gender roles are reversed for the TV version: The main character Rob is now short for Robyn, played by Zoe Kravitz. Rob owns Championship Vinyl in Crown Heights Brooklyn, a small but well-curated record store with only two employees. The story revolves around Rob revisiting her top 5 heartbreaks while tracking down her former lovers and attempting to make sense of where things went wrong in those past relationships. Zoe Kravitz shines here; in terms of owning this character — in her scenes, she comes across as natural, organic, and very charismatic —Which is a significant difference from John Cusack’s Rob.

In the movie version, Rob is not as likable as the TV version of Rob. Kravitz plays a more empathetic, warm, and down-to-earth version of this character that feels more grounded in reality. She is a hell of a lot more open-minded and less judgmental than the movie Rob…. and although TV Rob has an eclectic and well-cultivated music taste — she doesn’t care about how well curated your music collection is. She is open to different types of musical tastes. Zoe Kravitz’s mom Lisa Bonet was also one of the stars of the movie version, which is a cool connection here.

The loud, opinionated, and annoying Championship Vinyl employee Jack Black played in the movie version is now Cherise, played by Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Both versions share similar characteristics, but Cherise’s character development was a bit slow…there is an air of mystery about her, which I am sure will be further explored in the second season. The other record store employee Simon is played by David H. Holmes, who is more reserved and thoughtful about his opinions. The chemistry between the two Championship Vinyl employees and Rob is excellent.

Brooklyn hipster life is depicted beautifully here. The vibe and tone of Crown heights feel lively, with people walking around in the background, things happening all over. The whole place is teeming with life. The local Bodega and the local dive bar are both featured prominently, which are essential staples of New York City living. Rob’s state of mind is often displayed through music, showing us where she stands emotionally at that particular moment. The scene when she is walking home from the club after her birthday celebration while Frank Ocean’s Nikes play in the background fits perfectly with Rob’s emotional state. Also, showing her messy apartment as a projection of the disorder in her personal life complemented the narrative well — Rob eating cereal like a broke college student is another display of the emotional chaos in her life — she is supposed to be a business owner, and her surroundings do not really scream serious small business owner.

Considered just on its terms, High Fidelity is a well-made music-centric, progressive love story that is both moving and entertaining. As I binged on this show, I could not help getting a bit nostalgic and appreciate the small things this lockdown has taken from all of us who live, work, and play in New York City.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

High Fidelity (Season 1). Streaming on HULU

*MOVIE RECAP: ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

There are only a handful of directors that provoke excitement from me when I see their names attached to a project — Quentin Tarantino is hands down one of those directors. Hell, I still remember how I felt the first time I saw Pulp Fiction in November of 1994 at the Shirlington Movie theater in Arlington, Virginia. It was such a powerful movie-going experience that I will always remember fondly.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a revisionist fantasy film based around the murders of Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and four of her friends by followers of the Charles Manson cult. I heard Tarantino wrote the end of the movie first and then worked his way backward — He came up with the whole story and concept of the film to justify the end.Genius.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Rick Dalton, and Brad Pitt is Cliff Booth — These two are pure magic together. Brad Pitt received a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Rick Dalton is a Western action star, coming to terms with the realization that he might no longer be a leading actor. Cliff Booth is a Hollywood stuntman and Dalton’s best friend. There are whispers of foul play regarding Cliff’s wife and his involvement in her death. Cliff spends most of his day driving Dalton around town due to the suspension of his drivers’ license for DUI — Pitt’s driving scenes are very cool and stylish. There is this amazing chemistry between DiCaprio and Pitt. I wanted to see more of these two.

After watching it a few times, I have a few quick observations…. First, you get the sense like the movie is heading to Spahn ranch since the beginning — which is where some of the most exciting parts of this movie take place. There is a lot of moving parts at the ranch to keep an eye on; people walking around, lots of dogs in the background, which shows the place is alive — there is a lot of movement, and there is a lot of stuff happening throughout the ranch. Bruce Dern and Brad Pitt’s scene at the ranch is a beautiful thing to watch. I did not mind the slow pace; it works for me. The dialogue is excellent, as you might expect from a Tarantino written film. The set designs are great, and so are the atmospheric shots and angles.

… and for the supporting cast: 

Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 2019)

There are so many cameos all over the place, like Al Pacino, Luke Perry, Dakota Fanning, Clifton Collins Jr., Maya Hawke, Harley Quinn Smith, Michael Madsen, and many others, but Kurt Russell’s brief cameo was one of my favorites, his line: “I don’t dig him, and I don’t dig the vibe…” was a beautiful piece of dialogue. Charles Mason, played by Damon Herriman, who also played Manson in the superb Mindhunter Netflix series, was a perfect choice. The way Sharon Tate was portrayed by Margot Robbie was outstanding. She did not feel like another Tarantino type-character — she felt like a real person. Sharon Tate, at the movie theater watching herself on screen in the 1968 film The Wrecking Crew, was beautifully executed. She was brutally murdered, robbed of her life, and we get to see her living her life casually as a real person, unlike the other real-life character in this movie, Bruce Lee. He ends up getting turned into a Tarantino caricature type of character.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is by far the less exceptional film and my least favorite of the entire Tarantino filmography; nevertheless, it is still a splendid filmmaking achievement and a gratifying movie-watching experience. It is well written, beautifully shot, and packed with excellent performances.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

*TV SERIES RECAP: THE FRANKENSTEIN CHRONICLES (Seasons 1 & 2)

The Frankenstein chronicles grabbed me from the first episode of the first season. It is essentially a gothic murder mystery thriller — set in early 19th century London during the pre-victorian era, mixing historical events with science fiction and some gothic horror.

Sean Bean is excellent as always, playing John Marlott of the River Police, tasked with investigating the mystery surrounding the discovery of a body that washed ashore. This dead body appears to be made up of body parts sewn together from different people. Very similar to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel, which was released a few years before the events of the show. Mary Shelley is a character here, but not a central character, and it is cool to see her featured in the show. Other historical figures of the era are also featured, like William Blake and Sir Robert Peel, as the Home Secretary, who was instrumental in founding and creating the modern British police force.

The first season is excellent, using the events of the historic passage of the Anatomy Bill as a backdrop, and with the strong opposition from religious groups and all the anti-science sentiment of the historic period. We see the early days of forensic science being explored. We have mad scientist-type doctors conducting all kinds of weird experiments on dead and living bodies. The show captures the grim, gloomy, and dark vibe of the era. There are beautiful shots of 19th century foggy London — The divisions between the upper class and the underclass are clearly distinguished. Additionally, the characters are interesting enough to keep you invested in the show.

Season 2 is not as satisfying as the first, mainly because the second season tends to drag a bit — with a lot more exposition than season 1. However, it is still compelling enough to keep you watching.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

The Frankenstein Chronicles (Season 1 & 2). Streaming on Netflix

*05-08-20 (53 días de encierro)

Este era un año que para mi se perfilaba con muchísima actividad, y ahora, no me queda de otra mas que aplazar y retrasar todos los planes. Mi cuarentena empezó el 16 de marzo….ya llevo 53 días aislado completamente de todo. Las primeras semanas del confinamiento estuve muy preocupado por la incertidumbre de las cosas — Arregle mi situación de víveres y me encerré, pero no tenia muy claro que mas hacer, pensando mucho en la catastrófica realidad que tenemos enfrente.

Hay sobredosis de información y opiniones en todos los medios — Algunas buenas, pero la mayoría malas por falta de conocimiento medico acerca de la realidad de este virus. Y por encima, la incertidumbre de no saber como sera el futuro inmediato, ya que estamos a punto de dar un salto imprevisto hacia el futuro — Apunto de despedirnos del mundo que conocemos y de nuestra forma de vivir y entrar a nueva realidad.

¿Que va a pasar cuando todo esto termine?

¿El orden de las cosas a nivel mundial se reestablecerá?

¿Que pasara con los bares?

¿Los restaurantes?

¿Las discotecas? ¿Conciertos? ¿Estadios?

¿Y que pasara con el transporte publico?… Lugares donde se solía amontonar a las personas casi encima de cada uno, como en los buses, trenes y aviones. ¿Se tendrá que replantear la forma de movernos?

Por eso mismo pienso que esta crisis va para largo y supongo que con el paso de los días nos iremos acostumbrando a este nuevo ritmo de vida. Aunque la vida sedentaria es peligrosa, y estar en buena forma física y mental es fundamental. No nos quedará de otra más que re-programar nuestra manera de vivir.

Leo mucho sobre la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y encuentro inquietantes paralelismos con muchas cosas que están sucediendo a nivel global. Lecciones que muchos ya han olvidado — y algunos han tratado de que las olvidemos completamente. Existen muchos lobos acechando, dando vueltas a nuestro alrededor. Buscando formas de aprovecharse de la vulnerabilidad global y usar esta crisis para consolidar mas poder. Buscando formas de implementar el fascismo a un nivel mas grande.

Veo lecciones similares en la reconstrucción de Europa después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial centrada en el Estado del bienestar. Donde países Europeos colectivamente pusieron énfasis a la importancia del bienestar común — Beneficios económicos y sociales que algunos seguidores fieles de la supuestas leyes del mercado y el turbo capitalismo nunca reconocerán. La importancia y urgencia de que el Estado sea el encargado de sostener las economías, seguridad social, sanidad, salud pública etc…. Esos conceptos serán cruciales para poder enfrentar futuras crisis.

Desde mi punto de vista, acá en New York City, estoy viendo lo importante que son los servicios públicos y que, como sociedad, tendremos que poner mas énfasis a la sanidad publica en lo que sera esta nueva etapa de nuestra historia humana — Y al mismo tiempo sera importantísimo como seres humanos restablecer nuestra espiritualidad y el respeto por la naturaleza…. Apreciar mas nuestro alrededor. Nos creiamos invulnerables — Y este virus esta revelando nuestra fragilidad. Esta pandemia nos lleva a ponernos mas humildes, y a sentirnos mas pequeños. El mundo va a cambiar después de esto y la percepción de lo que realmente significa “existir” sera mejor. Pienso que sera de las pocas cosas positivas que vamos a sacar de esta crisis.

A nivel personal tengo mis altibajos. Tengo algunos días buenos y otros días down…. me paso días sin afeitarme, dejándome crecer la barba, la cual no me gusta — estoy acostumbrado a mantener mi cara siempre limpia y afeitada, mas que todo, por que me crece súper rápido….es un fastidio. Tener un rostro limpio siempre a sido parte de mi carta de presentación — pero tal vez algún día me la dejaré crecer completamente, quizás cuando llegue a mis 60s. Pero en estos días que no tengo que lidiar con el público no existe urgencia por mantener mi look habitual.

Con tantos días de encierro, ya echo de menos mi rutina urbana —Es que soy muy urbanista, extraño mucho caminar por esas gastadas calles de New York… Entrar a un bar, ordenar un Mezcal Negroni, o compartir una botella de Monastrell, o Tempranillo con buena compañía. Extraño aquellos bares de Jazz típicos de New York City que se han convertido en parte central de mi vida nocturna.

Me siento como Joaquin Sabina en su canción Lo Niego todo: “Me echaron de los bares que usuba de oficina.”

Quizás, lo que mas beneficio tiene este confinamiento es que me estoy poniendo mas al día con la musa y dejando que ella me busque y me hable. Siento que la estoy escuchando mejor sin el ruido y las distracciones de la rutina diaria. Evitando cosas que paralizan la creatividad.

Y al mismo tiempo, es súper fundamental continuar inmerso en esta trayectoria de sanación que estoy viviendo, tanto en lo personal como en lo existencial y creativo.

Paso los días escribiendo mucho, tarareando en este guion que estoy escribiendo, y al mismo tiempo dandole forma a una novela que lenta y simultáneamente estoy estructurando, inspirada por la vida de mi madre, utilizando su vida como base, alrededor de los años 70s, 80s y 90s, con el trasfondo histórico de los principios del narcotrafico en Bolivia. Mis intensas y personales conversaciones con mamá durante tantos años me están sirviendo como una invaluable fuente de información. Pero necesito ir estructurando mejor mis ideas — tejer un hilo narrativo mas claro y preciso. Acercarme más hacia el concepto de Nietzsche de el eterno regreso. Creo que lo que necesito es instalarme en un lugar aislado por unos 8 meses y poder escribirla completamente. Una cabaña en las montañas o en una casa de campo seria ideal. Pero eso es algo que atacare mas adelante.

Voy sobrellevando el encierro como puedo, apoyandome de las personas importantes a mi alrededor — como mi hermana, mi hija y mi pareja…. y algunos amigos cercanos. Mantener una comunicación directa y frecuente con ellos es importante. Pero la inquietud de no poder viajar a Virginia para ver a mi hermana y a mi hija es agobiante….

El contacto físico que no estoy teniendo ahora sera lo primordial que buscare cuando todo esto termine — y una vez las cosas empiezen a volver a la normalidad, pienso retomar los planes estancados por la crisis: Ver mas seguido a mi hermana, y llevar a mi hija a una tienda de vinilos, elegir y comprar discos juntos — luego pasarnos a tomar unos cocteles, entre padre e hija como nos hemos prometido. Ella heredo mi passion por la buena música y es coleccionista de vinilos igual que yo. Así que nuestras conversaciones musicales son intensas.

Es importantísimo usar este tiempo de confinamiento para ponerme al día con mi lista inmensa de películas que tengo pendiente. De mis libros amontonados en lista de espera para leer. Lista de cosas que tengo que hacer… ir tachándolas. Y cuando me encuentro con pensamientos negativos en estos días de encierro, el cine y la música le dan un toque de luz a los días grises. Me encuentro con algunos de mis discos favoritos que no pasan de moda y los estoy volviendo a escuchar. Esas cosas son mi refugio intellectual. Y aunque suene raro, la música y mi colección de films me están salvando de no caer en el desquicio.

Ultimamente llevo escuchando música de mi adolescencia, discos emblemáticos de mis años locos….vinilos de U2 (Pop y Achtung Baby), Draco Rosa (Vagabundo), Oasis (Whats the Story-Morning Glory?), y los Greatest Hits de Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers y Green Day. Esas grabaciones son obras cumbres, no solo en lo musical si no también en lo lírico…. y me traen recuerdos de aquellos años locos, cuando yo era un salvaje…. (bueno, creo en cierta forma, sigo siendo un salvaje). Escuchar esos vinilos durante este encierro es como hacer un ejercicio de arqueología, sobre todo cuando se trata de lindas ediciones en vinilo, que siempre me regresan a lugares y momentos felices de mi pasado.

En resumen, estoy usando estos tiempos de confinamiento, para hacer un honesto análisis, hacer recuento y ver lo que va quedando con el paso de los años. Y reflexionar sobre los vaivenes de mi vida pirata — pensar que todavia me queda tiempo… quizás no mucho, pero aun me queda tiempo para ser un mejor humano.

El soundtrack de estos 53 días de encierro.

*TV SERIES RECAP: THE KOMINSKY METHOD (Seasons 1 & 2)

I wanted to see it when it first came out but never got around to it until this quarantine started. Episodes are roughly about a half-hour long, with 8 episodes per season, making it easy for me to power through the first two seasons in a couple of sittings.

At the center of the story is two friends, Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas) and Norman Newlander (Alan Arkin). Sandy Kominsky is an acting coach who had a successful acting career but now has been forgotten by Hollywood.

Norman is a veteran power Hollywood agent who owns a high-profile agency. He is also Sandy’s agent and best friend. Their chemistry is excellent, and it feels natural.

Both Sandy and Norman are going through their twilight years, revisiting their past decisions and choices. They both have difficult and complicated relationships with their daughters, whom they neglected while growing up; plus, they both are sharing similar aging issues while at the same time navigating the nuances of dating life.

Apart from being a hilarious show, it also deals with mortality, health and getting old, the prospect of sickness, and the fragility of aging. I was not expecting to be moved as much as I was, especially with the scenes dealing with real human emotions like grief.

The casting is phenomenal. Sandy’s love interest Lisa (Nancy Travis) and Norman’s love interest Madelyn (Jane Seymour) are both excellent here. Paul Reiser is hilarious, especially when sharing scenes with Douglas and Arkin.

Sandy’s daughter Mindy (Sarah Baker) was great, but I felt like her character did not get enough time to develop as much as Norman’s daughter Phoebe (Lisa Edelstein). Maybe season 3 will explore Sandy’s and Mindy’s relationship a bit further.

Phoebe’s complicated, love/hate relationship with her father was deeply emotional, and their storyline of healing and mending their whole father/daughter relationship was outstanding.

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Sandy’s acting studio scenes are remarkable — the ensemble of acting students is made up of young talented actors to keep an eye on. Most notably: Jude (Graham RogersSmitty on Ray Donovan), Theresa (Emily Osment), Darashani (Jenna Lyng Adams), Breana (Ashleigh Lathrop), Margaret (Melissa Tang).

There is also a bunch of cool guest appearances and cameos sprinkled throughout the first two seasons. Bob Odenkirk, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Leno, Ann-Margret, Elliot Gould, Patti LaBelle, and Allison Janney.

There are a few nostalgic throwback scenes with Danny DeVito and Kathleen Turner — they both co-starred with Douglas in a couple of 80s classic comedies: Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile….. This was pretty neat for a movie nerd like me.

The Kominsky Method is definitely not a typical network sitcom. It is a sophisticated show, full of relatable characters — It feels to me like a Chuck Lorre show for mature adults, full of grown-up humor. It is a Chuck Lorre creation without any restrains or the shackles of network television. One of the better “dramedy” shows I have seen in years.

Five out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

Streaming on Netflix