Category Archives: Uncategorized

Farewell to our beloved Robin Williams…

It’s taken me a few days to absorb what his loss means to many.  As soon as word of his death began circling, a range of people from my social networks posted how he had impacted them through one of the many characters he had played.  That’s the thing — it didn’t matter what role he was in because his sense of humanity shone through every character and impacted many of us in some vulnerable place.  For me, there were a few, but at the top was Dead Poets Society, where he embodied the ideal educator that strives to free you so that your dreams are limitless and so your love of learning becomes a lifelong relationship.   Not far behind were, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam, What Dreams May Come, Jack, August Rush, Jumanji, The Birdcage and Aladdin (I’m sure I forgot a few).  In every single one of those films he is liberating someone from often self-imposed limitations, and he did it through empathy, fearlessness and love — maybe that’s why we love him.  He made us laugh, cry, reflect, and realize how this ride is one to be shared because that’s where the real learning is — in our every day interactions with the people we love.  So I leave you with a quote from one of his movies – not my favorite of his because I think everyone has understandably posted Whitman’s “O Captain, my Captain! our fearful trip is done” – this one, however, is from August Rush, and I think it embodies what he dared us to do: Dream!

“What do you want to be in the world? I mean the whole world. What do you want to be? Close your eyes and think about that.”

– Wizard

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Funerals, Wakes and Derriere Lifts

The last few days have been tough for my family…the final link from the older generation passed away last week.

My great-aunt always had a smile, a dark sense of humor, and was a confidante to many.

The great thing about being part of a crazy family is that we manage to laugh at the darkest hours, always a good tool to possess given the cheesiness and money-hungry feel from funeral homes.  You hope for Michael C. Hall from Six Feet Under; you get a woman with too much hair spray and make-up, a thick accent, and a polyester suit, engrossed in a phone conversation, ignoring your tear-stained face, a dress belonging to the deceased hanging on your arm, and giving you attitude because you’re trying to get her attention.  Really?  Really.  That was the beginning when my cousins first arrived to make arrangements.  Let’s move forward in time to the wake.

A wake – we (most Caribbean islanders) are a passionate people; we scream, we cry, we faint on command, and we throw things and that’s when we’re happy.  So, when other people have quick memorial services, we prefer pulling an all-nighter with an open-casket, inviting long-lost family members, encouraging dramatic moments, and offering an unlimited supply of Cuban coffee.

At some point during wakes, a priest will come, and do his thing (I have no idea what that thing is because I grew up with an atheist father).  Our family, however, asked one of our priest-like cousins to lead the crowd in a memorial of sorts for my great-aunt; it was heart-felt, sincere, funny, sad, and great.  But apparently, no one gave the actual priest the memo that his services weren’t needed today so he came in 30 minutes later, demanding to be heard, and we all stared.  Really? Really.  That was the wake.  Now let’s move to the burial.

With most of the inner circle present, we said goodbye before the casket was closed.  It was probably the toughest moment.  My cousins went in the non-hearse vehicle while the rest of us carpooled to the cemetery.  We took the Palmetto through Hialeah, which was adorned with billboards recommending you get a derriere lift or a breast enhancement.  We all went in a procession towards the mausoleum where she would be buried with her husband.  All I could focus on were the containers of silicone that were being used to encase my great-aunt and the hydraulic lift supplying the height to the top because my great-uncle always kidded around that no one was going above him in his final resting place.  They seal her in.  They shuffle us out.  They encourage us to walk a little faster.  We get downstairs and are greeted by impatient funeral workers and the next mourning family.  Really? Really. Thanks for downplaying our grief, our reality.  Thanks for making her seem insignificant — I realize we all are in the grand scheme of things, but really?  at this moment?  Really?  Really.

Welcome to Caballero Funeral Homes.

 

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$0.49 Sundays at Blockbuster

    With Netflix’s prices going up, it’s nice to have a respite from the company that started all the trouble originally and is now in a huge financial crisis…Blockbuster.  On Sundays in July, the videos that are usually $1.99 or less, are reduced to $0.49.  It’s a great deal that allows you to feel more inclined to watch those movies that you didn’t want to pay full price for at the theater or even spend $1.99 on.  For example: Red Riding Hood and The Dilemma…
    
I loved Big Love, and I liked Amanda Seyfried’s character in the show, so I followed her to Mama Mia!, and Dear John just to name a couple.  However, last Sunday, I decided to follow her and Gary Oldman to Red Riding Hood and now my significant other has banned me from choosing movies…even if they only cost $0.49.  It was that bad.  It was long.  It was cheesy.  It needed to stop.  Thank goodness I was able to multi-task while watching it, otherwise it would have been a total waste of 2 hours of my life that I can never get back.  
    Then, because that wasn’t bad enough, I popped in The Dilemma…and it was truly a dilemma…do I really have to watch this movie?  How is it possible that the only woman allowed to play me in my movie (Winona Ryder), could choose to act in such a terrible film?  I was distraught.  Vince Vaughn films are usually neutral…everyone likes them.  Not this one.  Keep your $0.49…two quarters will serve you better in a parking meter.
    Now onto the films not chosen by me: Red and The Next Three Days.
    Red: Wonderful.  I loved it.  Amazing cast: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker (who only likes the wild side now), John Malkovich (who is brilliant, particularly with the pink pig), Morgan Freeman (no need for words although I will mention that his presence adds elegance to any scene), Richard Dreyfuss (it’s Richard!), Brian Cox (who is smooth and truly a hidden treasure in this film) and then there’s Helen Mirren (she can watch my back anytime…she was witty, smart and just kickass!).
    The Next Three Days: It was good.  Russell Crowe’s acting is always superb.  Elizabeth Banks is also good (and recently spotted by moi at the Tim Burton exhibit).  
    The point is go check out Blockbuster on Sundays in July!  This deal gets 4 Malkovich pink pigs!

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amywinehouse

Rest in Peace Amy Winehouse…

    What can I say?  We have lost yet another talented, brilliant artist.  She joins the ranks of the tortured, beautiful souls that make our days a little more tolerable:  Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, Edith Piaf, and now, Amy Winehouse…Rest in peace you beautiful women and thank you for sharing your souls with us. 

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The End of Hogwarts & Platform 9-3/4…

    The wound was reopened, and made to bleed once again.  No more new adventures at Hogwarts.  The boy who lived found his way into our hearts through the pages of seven fantasy novels that erupted onto the big screen, all of it ending tonight with the release of the second part of Deathly Hallows.  
    It was slow.  It lacked the artistic flair of the last few, specifically the Goblet of Fire, which in my opinion, is the only one of the films that stands on its own.  However, it is Harry, and so all is forgiven.  Did I cry?  Of course.  Especially when we watch Snape’s memories in Dumbledore’s Pensieve.  Did I cheer?  Yup, especially when Harry rises from the dead and again with Mrs. Weasley when she gets all crazy on Bellatrix.  Am I glad I went to bed at 5 a.m. because I was wearing Potter-style glasses and a Ron t-shirt, while I stood in line with people wearing capes and Gryffindor ties awaiting the release of the final movie?  Yeeeeah!  Not the point though.  
    
Deathly Hallows Part 2 gets 2.5 Elder Wands. 
Harry, Hogwarts & their legacy get 5 of Lily Potter-style Talismans of Love!

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Ruby Slippers & Karaoke

    Why ruby slippers & karaoke?  Is it related to Dorothy singing to theTin Man or maybe a duet with the Wicked Witch?  Sounds like a musical.  Actually, it refers to Thursday nights at Waxy O’Connor’s off Brickell, and a drink called Ruby Slipper, made by a very cool bartender there.
     So here’s a perfect girl’s night out: happy hour at Jaguar’s in the Grove for some mojitos and ceviche (try El Nuevo!), followed by Waxy O’Connor’s.   A gal’s got to let her hair down, and rekindle the fire that life’s circumstances can wear down to hot ashes.
    Waxy’s can kick that moment off for you!  (I’ve been watching Glee too much because as I wrote this I had this desire to form a Rockette line and start kicking really high, while simultaneously fantasizing about singing “Defying Gravity” as Elphaba in Wicked!). This place will make you feel like you’re living an episode of Cheers because that’s how welcome everyone there makes you feel.  Have some delicious sliders, and try their mini beers (these tiny little mugs filled with beer, and topped with some sweet liqueur mixed with cream that is delicious!).  Thursday nights there’s karaoke, and who knows?  You may end up dancing to “Sweet Home Alabama” on top of the bar.  
    Please finish your evening off at “La Baguette”, open 24 hours, near Brickell/Little Havana with a tuna sandwich and lots of water! 

Happy Hours at Jaguar’s (4-7 p.m.)…4 ceviche-filled amazon spoons!
Go to Waxy’s!  I give them 4 mini beers!
And finish your night at La Baguette…4 cornichons! 

Here’s the info on these three great places:

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill, 3067 Grand Avenue, 305-444-0216
Waxy O’Connor’s: 690 SW 1st Ct, http://waxysmiami.com/  (Ladies: This Friday night you drink absolutely free from 9-11PM!) 
La Baguette: 427 SW 8th Street, www.labaguettemiami.com

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Moving in Miami…

      Within a 3 year period, I have moved myself, friends or family a minimum of 15 times.  Therefore, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the matters of moving, particularly in Miami.  I also have spent the last three years doing repairs in my home and other people’s homes.  I’m slowly, but surely becoming Bob Vila or maybe Bob the Builder (I don’t want to even get into how I’ve slowly but surely become a car mechanic!). 
      I know the best way to access great storage unit deals, what handymen to hire and which not to hire, good plumbers & electricians, what floor companies to use and which not to unless you like your walls Pollock-style.  There’s so much time and energy and MONEY invested into moving that when a friend of mine told me she had read an article stating moving as a leading cause of stress in a person’s life, I totally believed her and felt no need to check her sources. 
      I’m here to alleviate some of that for you.  Usually I write happy reviews that celebrate the positives about something, someone or some place, and I will give you that today, but I will also share some of my bitterness, vent and rip at those that take advantage of people at this stressful moment in their lives.  
    If you’ve never owned a home or moved, maybe you’ve been spared some heartache, and it’s best to be prepared for battle, and in Miami, the battle is mainly keeping people to their word…we are a bit flaky here…I attribute it to the amount of sun we are exposed to while lounging at the beach, and not drinking enough water…we must all be dehydrated, and how can’t you be flaky if you’re dehydrated?  That’s why when you make appointments with contractors, repairmen, etc…it’s important to ask them if they’ve had their daily recommended amount of water, otherwise you might be waiting for someone that might never show up (dehydration is a serious matter!).
    
    Here’s the thumbs down list:

All Floor Installers – do you want your closet to look like Pollock was cleaning his brushes in it?  want to be locked into you room because the doors were replaced incorrectly and you can’t get out?  how about just an expensive, crappy floor job — want one?  These guys are unprofessional, and they stink…4 broken laminates for this company!

Miami Moving – Don’t pick these guys unless you feel generous, enjoy giving away money, and want to end up asking close friends and family to move you because these movers didn’t do their job.  2 broken-down moving trucks for them!

    Thumbs up:

A+ Moving – Ask what moving in specials they have.  If you go to the S. Miami location, ask for Wes.  However, you will find better deals at the locations in the NW.
Michael  – plumber – 305-720-8648
Castellan Plumbing – 305-305-7951 (ask for Tati)
Leo – electrician – 305-303-0564
Edin – handyman – 305-281-6699
Amaya Roofing – 305-406-9828

I have more, which I will give you once I find their numbers!  Good luck moving and repairing and remember: make sure they are properly hydrated before making appointments!

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Glee: a remedy for heartbreak.

    Are you sad?  Not feeling quite yourself?  Feel stressed?  Maybe you have a leak in your house.  Maybe your boyfriend broke-up with you once again for the third time, within the same week.  Or maybe your latest hairstyle looks like Annie met that mean gremlin, Spike?  
    Whatever it is that’s getting you down…here’s my suggestion:  put down that candybar that will go straight to your ass, pour out that beer because it’s only going to encourage poor, late-night decisions and give you a belly (and not that cute kind that Ms. Blueberry Pancakes from Pulp Fiction was raving about), and once you finish reading this, go to the address bar and type in www.netflix.com, log in (or if you’re not a member, become one for a month – first month is free), and type “Glee” in the search bar, select “Play”, and now laugh, sing along, dance around the room (make sure no one is watching you in this very carefree moment), and be prepared to feel warm, happy and wanting to sing at your old high school!  
    I give Glee (season 1, and season 2 disc’s are on their way – I just upgraded my membership) 5 Rachel Gold Stars!
    
    

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Game of Sex…

     Can’t wait to see this week’s episode.  What a great show.  Can’t believe you haven’t seen it.  You’d love it.  Blah blah blah.  This is all I kept hearing from people about some new show…Game of something.  Sounded familiar.  I’d heard of it…oh, that’s right, I did see the previews on HBO.  I guess I was intrigued at the moment of seeing the trailers.  
     Now that I had decided to add HBO because of True Blood starting back up, I figured it couldn’t hurt to check out one episode and so I did. 
     Kings & queens, feuding kingdoms, dragons, savages, violence, decapitations, betrayals, brothels, love, and…sex between savages, sex between siblings, sex between friends, sex, sex, sex…how had I not seen this show before?!
     One episode turned into the entire first season’s 10 episodes, available on On Demand under HBO Series until July 18th, and then after that date you’ll have to Netflix it.  Sadly, the second season will not begin until Spring 2012.  Thankfully, True Blood will ease the void. 
     What a great show.  Can’t believe you have haven’t seen it.  You’d love it!

Game of Thrones gets 4 noble thumbs up!   

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U2: a religious experience at the Sun Life Stadium.

    There are two public figures whose presence brings me to tears: the Dalai Lama and Bono.  

    You may chuckle or giggle a little at my previous statement, but if you’ve sat through a U2 concert or rather, danced like a school girl through a U2 concert, you could understand how it is a religious experience.  This group’s compassion and humanitarianism is conveyed during every moment of a U2 concert….and the 360 Tour, which finally arrived in Miami last night, for some of us a two year wait…was nothing short of a religious experience.  
    First, there was the stage, which supposedly is the largest one ever made for a concert tour, and costs between $23 and $31 million to put together.  It was something that teetered between a space ship and a cylindrical video screen, and a huge tower that ran down the middle, creating spectacular lighting effects.  It was pretty incredible.
    Second, there was the band walking onto the stage to the sounds of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.  Amazing.  You knew you were about to witness greatness.
    Third, there was the fact that they opened with 3 songs from Achtung Baby, my favorite album of theirs (you think Bono knew?).
    Then, there was the moment when they showed a video about political violence, while playing Sunday Bloody Sunday, and a video of pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, recently freed by Burmese military authorities from years of house arrest, while they played Walk On.  Bono spoke about  

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet,  a Cuban political prisoner, who was released from prison in March after serving an 8 year sentence in Cuban prisons because he distributed copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which translated into “acts against the sovereignty and independence” of Cuba.  The International Space Station also relayed messages of peace, including a video, originally aired in Seattle, of astronaut Mark Kelly with a message for his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, after she was shot in the head.  
    There were so many moments that connected with you on an emotional level.  It was truly an amazing experience…and then they sang One while numerous people walked onto the stage carrying luminaries with the Amnesty International sign on each.  Wow.  I was more amazed that the audience was not on their feet, with lighters in one hand, swaying…thank goodness they did that for With or Without You.  U2 walked off stage and left video images of the space crew while Elton John’s Rocket Man brought the evening to a close.
    What did not work in this concert experience?  THE PARKING!  Personally, it took me nearly 1.5 hours to leave the lot, and that was with my dear boyfriend looking for pockets that were moving…it was poorly organized, but still well-worth the night.

U2 gets 4 outer space thumbs up and Bono gets 5 sunglass kisses!

Here’s the set information:

 

Opening Act: Florence and the Machine (amazing!)

Walked on stage with David Bowie’s Space Oddity from the album, Ziggy Stardust  (religious experience!)

Main Set: Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Until the End of the World, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – The Promised Land, North Star, Beautiful Day – Space Oddity, Elevation, Pride, Miss Sarajevo, Zooropa, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy (remix), Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, Walk On

Encore(s): One, Will You Love Me Tomorrow – Where the Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender

Exited with  Elton John’s Rocket Man and images of the space crew.

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