Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adrift with Chico's Angels

So this happened Saturday night....

We treated a few friends to Chico's Angels at the Cavern Club Theater in Silver Lake, starring our favorite Tupperware Diva and high-fashion model from Tijuana - Kay Sedia. In this episode, the Chicas set sail aboard the Love Boat to try to catch a killer bent on murdering Charo. Yes, that Charo. We laughed so hard, and the Chicas somehow managed to crack each other up on stage a few times, which is always fun. Luckily, after saving Charo, we managed to snag a picture with Kay, Chita Parol, and Freida Laye (the "Friendly" one).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

iTunes Saturday - Safe and Sound

The song Safe and Sound from Capital Cities has shuffled its way through my iTunes for quite some time now, and I finally decided to buy the CD. I was a bit leery at first because I hadn't heard any other song from them. I usually don't like to take musical risks, but this one turned out to be worth it. (It didn't hurt that Target sold it for $9.99 plus tax.) The album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, is a good album. The songs carry an 80s vibe finely blended with a modern electronic dance beat. The disc offers some catchy songs, like Chasing You featuring Soseh and Farrah Fawcett Hair featuring Andre 3000 (and spoken word from Frank Tavares of NPR). The disc played in my car's stereo for most of the week, so I guess that means I like it. So without further ado, this week's iTunes selection is Safe and Sound from Capital Cities:

Friday, August 15, 2014

NoSquare

When I switched from from a flip phone to a Blackberry, the first app I ever downloaded was Foursquare. It may sound silly, but the idea of earning badges from visiting restaurants or movie theaters or even the beach clicked with something inside my head. I immediately checked in everywhere -- much to the annoyance of family and friends -- and the badges started popping up left and right. Better still, for me, the incentive of the badges got me to try new things, like seeking out the Portlandia statue while in Portland just to unlock the Bridgetown badge or trying a new Mexican restaurant (which has since become a regular hangout for us) to unlock the Hot Tamale badge. Plus, the check ins created a travelogue of places, and yes, I would scroll back through them every once in a while, looking at a picture I took of the shaved ice from Matsumoto's in Hale'iwa or of standing with my coworkers in front of the CNN sign in Atlanta.

A few weeks ago, my favorite app changed, splitting into two: one to provide tips and designed to tailor new experiences to my tastes (Foursquare); the other to check in to see what my nearby friends are doing (Swarm). The Swarm app looks nice -- very sleek, easy to use -- but if I want to see a tip for a venue at which I was potentially going to check in, the app forced me to login to the Foursquare app. And if I were on Foursquare and found a place at which I wanted to check in, that app forced me to log in to Swarm. To me, that felt counterproductive. The old Foursquare did both -- and awarded badges or unlocked special coupons. With Swarm, the badges were replaced with stickers -- a downgrade, if you ask me. Boy and Girl Scouts earn merit badges, not merit stickers. The term "badge" has more weight and feels more adult.

The fun of checking in for me slowly withered and died. At one time, every other blog post on here was Foursquare this and Foursquare that, talking ad nauseum about how much fun I was having. But, according to Foursquare, I'm in the minority of users, the ones who enjoyed the gaming aspect of the app. So about a week ago, I deleted my account and removed both the apps from my phone. But not before downloading all my badges. Ah, memories....

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In a Family Way

Caesar and I have both been dealing with family health issues the past few days. Caesar's Mom has been in and out of the hospital the past few weeks, with Caesar spending last night slumped in a chair, trying to catch some sleep while nurses shuffled in and out to the beeping of the monitors. As for me, my Mom had what we thought would be a routine skin cancer removal on Monday. It was scheduled for three hours, but she spent the better part of seven hours at the surgery center, winding up with 50 stitches climbing from her chin to just behind her left ear. The good news is that the doctor managed to remove all the cancerous tissue. The bad news is that she had to drive to the clinic herself while I stayed at their house to keep my Dad company as he dealt with a fever of 101 degrees.

So I've neglected the blog, but managed to sneak in a good 100+ pages of reading. And watched more tennis than I ever thought possible.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Quickie Book Review: Sanaaq

by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk

During our brief visit to Victoria, BC, we stopped at a bookstore on Government Street called Munro's Books just to kill some time before our tour continued. I bypassed the popular fiction and located a Canada-specific section, hoping to find something unique, something that I wouldn't find at a U.S. bookstore unless I searched thoroughly, something that I wouldn't recognize. I found that in a unique novel from author and educator Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk.

Sanaaq tells the story of an Inuit woman and her family, living in the icy northwest region of Québec. Most days are spent gathering food, hunting for puiji or natsiq (ringed seal), or fishing for kanajuq (sculpin)or iqaluppik (Arctic char), adjusting to their nomadic homes with the changes of the seasons. Slowly, the Qallumaat, or White people, arrive offering supplies for trade, medicine, jobs, and even introducing some of Sanaaq's family to Christianity.

Sanaaq allows us to see firsthand what life was like for the nomadic tribe, and that's what I enjoyed most about it. Each chapter reads more like a quick story, sometimes showing how the families shared the spoils of hunting, described the trials of hunting on an ice floe, or just went about their daily lives. Some may find that dull and pass on this book, but they would be missing out on the opportunity to learn about the Inuit culture from an Inuit writer. I think that alone makes this a fascinating book.

Sanaaq
by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk
Publications Nunavik/University of Manitoba Press
trade paperback, 227 pgs.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

iTunes Saturday - Walk

With a ruptured disc in my lower back, the doctor advised that I stay away from the gym. No weights, no running, no anything that could put too much pressure on the disc. So I walk. A lot. In fact, my fitbit awarded me a badge for walking 750 miles since I registered in February. It's easier on my joints, plus I like taking a tour of the neighborhoods around here, snapping pictures to post on Instragram, a just being outdoors. My soundtrack for walking is the shuffle feature on my iTunes, and luckily, I have quite a few songs that match or enhance my walking speed, like my selection for this week: Fitz & the Tantrums' The Walker. The beat is perfect for walking, and I like the references to Los Angeles. And yes, I have been caught whistling to it while out and about.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Netflix Finds

I'm enjoying our access to Netflix, though I still wish they had a better offering of recent movies to stream online. I would like to see Chernobyl Diaries or Bad Grandpa, but who knows how long it will take for them to obtain the streaming rights? In the meantime, I've managed to find other movies -- mostly cheestastic horror or sci-fi, which I absolutely love -- to watch, and during the course of those viewings, a few titles actually proved to be much better than I anticipated.

One such title is actually a six-episode television show from 2011 called Forgotten Planet. Each episode highlights two abandoned sites somewhere on Earth, usually linked by such things as a man-made disaster or a mining bust, then tells the backstory of the locations while touring the now-vacant places. The first episode examines Pripyat, Ukraine, a city that housed many of the workers at Chernobyl, and Picher, Oklahoma, which is one of the most toxic towns in the United States thanks to lead and zinc mining. Seeing how nature reclaims each space, how household items and toys and furniture were left without a second thought, empty buildings with collapsing roofs and missing walls -- it's eerie, like something out of a horror movie. Right up my alley.

The second find is an apocalyptic film from Spain called Los Últimos Días. I hesitated before selecting this one to view as the idea of the world suddenly turning agoraphobic seemed a bit farfetched. And it is, but the way the screenwriters, the director, and the actors handled it, turned it into an enjoyable film.

As the story goes, Marc scavenges for food in his office building where he and his fellow workers have been confined after a strange outbreak know as "The Panic" overtakes most of the world. Like the others, Marc is terrified to step outside the building, because that means certain death by a heart attack caused by a reaction to simply going outside. Through a series of flashbacks, the movie recounts -- from Marc's perspective -- the days leading up to the world crumbling: a news report of a Canadian teen who commits suicide rather than leave his house, the strange way Marc's co-worker Rovira continually wears the same clothes at the office, the horrid smell coming from a neighbor's apartment. But after three months of existing within the confines of an office building, Marc's worry about his girlfriend Julia with whom he's last spoken with -- or rather, argued with -- force him to find some way to reach her, and he convinces Enrique -- the man sent to fire him on that fateful day three months ago -- to help him use the subway tunnels to find Julia.

It's a tense roller coaster ride as the two fight their way through Barcelona's subway system, and the film satisfied my craving for apocalyptic stories. Definitely worth checking out.

Image from Pop-Break.com.