Saturday, February 8, 2020

My Top 10 Movie-Going Experiences

I don’t have many things to brag about my life, but one thing I can boast about is that I’ve seen a lot of good fucking films. In my late teens and early twenties—formative, formative years—I was blessed to have a couple of friends in my lifeless, pedestrian, suburban hometown of Fremont, CA who had wicked-good taste in films. They opened my impressionable eyes to a slew of gnarly movies. Before I could legally drink, I was an undergraduate film student at San Francisco State and pulling a Tarantino by working at a local video store (which back then was this corporation known as Blockbuster Video). During my two years of film studies—especially the first year—I saw (and slept!) through a parade of fantastic films during my 9 a.m. classes when my night-owl ass would stagger through the early morning hours to commute from my parents’ house to the fog-veiled westerly end of San Pancho.

In compiling this list, I was surprised that none of my all-time favorite movie-going experiences happened at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, the exquisite Castro Theatre (Eddie Muller’s annual Film Noir Festival is always fucking awesome), or Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. I’ve seen a lot of movies at these film houses, especially the Embarcadero Center Cinema, while I was a substandard film student.

This list was originally meant to be five deep with a few honorable mentions, but the longer I sat and rifled through my memories the more my honorable mention list ballooned (much like the budget of a James Cameron film).

But without further ado, here are the top ten I’ve been graced with.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Stroller Landmine

August 2018

It’s 6:35 p.m. Early for your bedtime, but you’re tired. You gave a big yawn while Mama was feeding you. You’re rubbing your eyes and acting sluggishly, so Mama tried to lull you to sleep by holding and rocking you on the bed while giving you lechita from a bottle but you stubbornly shook it off. She got frustrated. I offered to take you for a walk. After strapping you in the stroller, you and me head out the door.

It’s August so the sun is still bright. We circle the block around your abuelitos’ house but you keep sitting forward in your seat; I can tell by feeling the weight shift in the stroller, by peeking through the canopy’s ventilation window. I stop and kneel next to you. I look into your eyes and gently push you back and caress your forehead. Relax, I say to you in Spanish, and we continue on. Not a minute later, you begin to lean forward again, peering out at the suburban neighborhood. As we turn the corner back onto the street your abuelitos live on, I sigh with frustration.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

My Dying Wishes

Written April 3, 2005 (at age 25)

This should be pretty simple: if doctors—especially court-appointed ones (if it were ever to come to that)—find that I am cognizant and mentally capable of making rational decisions for myself, than allow me to make whatever decisions I want with my life. If I’m found to be in a state where I am not conscious and able to make coherent decisions, where my life can only be prolonged with the use of breathing or feeding machines and there is no chance of recovery, then I do not want to be kept alive. I strongly believe this is not true living, so I’d rather join the dead.

I am largely indifferent about my remains (because, you know, I’d be dead). Since my parents brought me into this world, they have every right to bury and mourn my death in whichever way they see fit. If my parents are not alive to make this decision, I give my sister, Mariana, the right to take care of my remains. If she is not available for this, then next in line would be my sister, Carmen. From there, fuck, let anyone who comes forward with the desire to take care of my carcass have the power (no necrophiliacs, though!)

Some tips, though, as to how I’d like my remains to be disposed of:

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Ode to Pantera Dude

Dear Pantera Dude,

Do you remember me?, because I remember you. You were a white boy. About seventeen or eighteen—my age back then. I vaguely remember you had long bleach-blond hair and blue eyes. And you wore Doc Martens, and I think a lot of dark clothing. Our Catholic parental units signed us up for a confirmation class at Santa Paula Parish. I attended the weekly evening class with my sister, who I think you may have had a crush on. That could explain why you hung around us, toward the back pews furthest from our elderly teachers. I remember you sat behind us, or sometimes next to me (I think).

Here’s why I remember you: you brought either a Walkman or a Discman to our confirmation class and played Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power, and, on a few occasions, you let me listen through your headphones and it was FUCKING AWESOME. I had never heard Pantera before. I was just beginning to purposefully listen to alternative rock, which, in time, served as my gateway to a galaxy of rock bands and musical genres in the years and decades to come. But thanks to you, I became familiar with Pantera’s powerful, heavy, testosterone-driven brand of groove metal from listening to songs like “Hollow” and “Walk” in the Lord’s house.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

My Top Five Favorite Warriors (of this Dynastic Run)

I’ve wanted to write this for a while. Since at least last season. With Kevin Durant’s imminent departure, with Andre Iguodala (a.k.a. Iggy) and Shaun Livingston (a.k.a. S Dot) nearing retirement, it was clear that some seismic changes were in store for my beloved Warriors. And the present Golden State Warriors hardly resemble the great squads we’ve had in the recent past. Steph Curry—The Pipsqueak Fundamental—is out with a broken hand. Klay, the second Splash Brother, is rehabilitating from a torn ACL. Iggy was traded to Memphis to create salary cap space to add D’Angelo Russell and his max contract, and Livingston retired after managing to play 17 years in the NBA.

Nothing lasts forever. Impermanence is the only constant, but I want to put down my five favorite Warriors from this historic run. This is basically my ode to them (and probably my ultimate act in sports fandom to date).

#5 - Andrew Bogut
First, a couple of things to know about me:
  1. In team sports, my fandom gravitates toward teams who play outstanding defense. For example, when I used to watch football, I loved teams with a physical, hard-nosed, and unreleting defensive identity far more than teams with a flashy, high-scoring offense. I admired teams with punishing defenses that imposed their will on their opponents.
  2. I generally have a weak spot for assholes.
So of course I loved Andrew Bogut.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

2019-2020 NBA Season Predictions

The 2019-2020 NBA regular season lifts off this Tuesday! It’s going to be quite an intriguing season, but first, let’s zoom back to the NBA Finals because some NBA-landscape-altering shit went down in that series. Then-Warrior Kevin Durant, one of the greatest scorers of all-time, a player who briefly seized the title of Greatest Basketball Player Alive before his injury in the Warriors vs. Rockets series, tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the Finals, which will keep him out until the 2020-2021 NBA season. And then, Klay Thompson, the Iron Man of the Warriors dynasty, tore his ACL in Toronto’s close-out game, which will presumably keep him out of action until the All-Star Break in mid-February 2020. For the first time in four seasons, the Warriors aren’t the prohibitive favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy. After an offseason in which nearly half of the NBA’s players were free agents, a total of 9 teams—by my count—have legitimate championship aspirations if the ball bounces their way (see what I did there?): the Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Rockets, Jazz, Warriors out West, and the Sixers, Bucks, and Celtics in the East.

Rather than project the 1-8 playoff seeds for each conference like I have in years past, I’m gonna change shit up and break down my predictions for conference playoff teams into three tiers: the Cream of the Crop (in Macho Man parlance, or the top-3 seeds), Middlers (not to be confused with the Urban Dictionary term), and Low-Hanging Seeds (bottom-two seeds).

Here we go.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Soundtrack for Ballad of a Slopsucker

Two Soundgarden songs. A song from the singer I would have loved to make it out with more than any other. Two film theme songs. My all-time favorite metal instrumental. A song from my homeboy de Arequipa. An iconic 90s rap song straight outta Oakland. This is the soundtrack for my short story collection.

“Mailman” – Soundgarden

A Pedestrian Question
“Theme from Ghost World” – David Kitay

El Cenote
“De Cara a la Pared” – Lhasa de Sela