What a year it has been! (And I don’t mean that as a compliment.) Indeed, if I were to call 2020 a “crazy year,” that would be, by most accounts, an understatement. From COVID-19, cases of which continue to climb as news of rival vaccines suggest that hope is in the not-so-distant horizons, to seemingly-endless California wildfires, to dual hurricanes ravaging the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, to meth gators, murder hornets, and giant Saharan dust clouds – and to one exhausting presidential election in which the candidate that officially lost still refuses to concede – it seems that planet Earth has been on its collective toes since the year began.
Let us reflect:
Continue reading “Bidding Adieu to 2020”
Eight years ago, I began this blog as wide-eyed expat who had just arrived in Mexico City. While the occasional post might have been about movies, family members back in the U.S., or travel memories to other parts of the world, the general theme was about my new life abroad – settling in, taking in the sights, navigating my blossoming relationship with a CDMX local, etc. Content was added, on average, once or twice a week.
Fast forward to 2020, the year to end of all years, and I hardly write at all, and just once about Mexico City. I am finishing up six years of Tennessee residency, and wondering what my employer’s recent announcement, that our Knoxville office will be permanently closing next year and all employees in it remaining 100% virtual, means in terms of remote living possibilities should a fish-out-of-water such as myself want to move to a different city.
First things first, though: we have an election to contend with…and it is sure to be a doozy. With a general sense of anxiety in the air, with a pandemic that seems to be rising in new cases, with a passionate #BLM movement that has staked some equally-passionate flames on the other side of the aisle, I feel that the stakes have never been higher.
Continue reading “Election 2020: All Bets Are Off”
It is just four days into June as I write this, yet it seems as if the world’s been quarantined for about two years now. Even after COVID-19 infections level off (still a ways to go on that, methinks) and the police officers responsible for George Floyd’s death are brought to justice (again, still a ways to go, I think), we will continue to face an uncertain rest of the year. For one thing, hurricane season has already begun. For another thing, in April the government announced the existence of aliens, and I wouldn’t be surprised a whit if there was an actual landing. For yet another thing, the murder hornets are still on their way from the Pacific Northwest to the rest of the United States.
(GringoPotpourri note: I am both serious and joking in my comments about aliens and murder hornets. I mean really, what’s next?!)
At least there are streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to pacify us. Movie theaters are closed, and sadly, I suspect that many of them will never open their doors again. The new golden age of television has given entertainment junkies much to binge watch – I recently finished season five of AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” and season three of Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I look forward to the next season of Prime’s “Jack Ryan,” and may tackle HBO’s “Chernobyl” in the meantime.
That being said, I am much more of a movie geek than a TV geek; if you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you surely know that. There is good content to be found online (or in other formats, such as DVD and Blu-ray; I subscribe to both regular and DVD Netflix). Below, in no particular order, is a sampling of ten films that I’ve watched since the COVID quarantine began. Since a part of believes that things are opening up too quickly, and that new cases will spike as a result, I’m sure we’ll be in this for some time to come. If you’re at loss for something to watch, and have diverse tastes like I do, you may find something that appeals to you from the following selections. Enjoy!
Continue reading “By Special Request: A Quarantine Movie Marathon”
See those pictures above? They are of Mexico City, a teeming mass of humanity and my favorite city in the world.
Continue reading “For My Mexico City Friends”
It has been one month since I lost my best friend.
I am talking, of course, about Molly, the world’s best golden retriever, who died unexpectedly while supposedly on the mend from a bladder infection.
We mourn the passings of our beloved fur babies because they are in our lives for such a short period of time, and because they ask us for so little, yet give so much affection in return. I grew up with dogs from infancy, and, like my parents and sister, have always treated them like part of the family. They sleep inside, not out (and on our beds much of the time). They have Christmas stockings and receive birthday cards. They go with us on family vacations.
But Molly was even more special. She was the love of my life.
Continue reading “Remembering Molly”
For the second time in a row, the Oscars will be host-less. Last year, original host Kevin Hart, whose name had briefly become associated with homophobia, dropped out, lest the Oscar broadcast become besmirched in controversy. The end result was a leaner show, still long at three hours, 23 minutes, but a full hour shorter than the longest-ever Oscars, 2002’s four-hour, 23-minute snooze-fest.
Aside from the “Oscars so white” outcry that popped up again this year with just a single major-category nominee of color (the excellent Cynthia Erivo of “Harriet”), this year’s pre-show drama was decidedly low-key. I expect a show with lower-than-normal ratings, considering that many fans of “Joker,” the year’s most-nominated film, probably aren’t the target viewing demographic for the Oscars, and that last year had a much more mainstream slate of nominees but disappointing ratings nonetheless.
Here are my picks for the winners. Interestingly enough, this year’s acting categories each seem to have all-but-guaranteed winners, which is unusual. That being said, there are always surprises; last year, I was wrong on both Best Actor (Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Best Actress (Olivia Colman for “The Favourite”).
Mark your ballots!
Continue reading “Oscar 2019-20 – predicting the winners”
As I look back on the 2019 year in cinema, two thoughts come to mind. The first is that wow, I saw a lot of movies last year! The first few months of the year saw the release of “Us,” the sophomore film by “Get Out” director Jordan Peele, of “Captain Marvel,” straight out of the MCU, and of “Glass,” a miscalculated sequel to both “Unbreakable” and “Split,” if you can imagine such a thing. Later, we got the sentimental “Toy Story 4,” the ribald, “Superbad”-esque comedy “Booksmart,” and a quiet little think piece called “Avengers: Endgame.”
The second half of the year gave us a few above-average horror films (“Doctor Sleep,” “The Lighthouse”) and a few below-average ones as well (“It Chapter Two,” “The Dead Don’t Die”). Finally, the end-of-year Oscar-bait bombardment gave us such diverse fare as “Richard Jewell,” a compelling true story from octogenarian director Clint Eastwood, “Uncut Gems,” an intense thriller of sensory overload starring a better-than-usual Adam Sandler, and a slate of Netflix titles given the briefest of Oscar-qualifying runs, such as “The Two Popes,” which posited an imagined meeting between Popes Benedict and Francis.
Phew! I try to avoid seeing bad movies at the theater, and enjoyed most of what I sought out. A few films disappointed me, like the mis-marketed Mr. Rogers movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and the Brad Pitt-starring “Ad Astra.” Still, there was much to like, and I tried to catch up via Netflix or Amazon Prime on anything that I may have missed in the theater. Good thing for those reward points – lots of free popcorn!
Here are my picks for the Top Ten Films of 2019:
Continue reading “Top Ten Films of 2019”
2019 has been an interesting year both nationally – presidential impeachment, drought-like conditions for much of the country throughout the summer – and internationally – Brexit woes for the U.K., Chinese trade tariffs, and a hurricane-ravaged Bahamas.
On a personal level, it was a pretty good year. I explored more of Tennessee and the Carolinas, spent time with my precocious nephew over Thanksgiving, and ended the year with a bit of good financial news.
Continue reading “Merry Christmas!”
Each November or December, since this blog was created in 2012, I have waxed nostalgic about fond holiday season travel memories from years past. Some entries were about end-of-year trips to places far (Singapore and Malaysia, 2006), others about places not so far (Puebla, Mexico, 2003). Some entries were about time spent in cold places (Québec City and Montréal, 2008), others about places more tropical in nature (León, Nicaragua, 2016-17).
This year’s entry finds me thinking back to six years ago, during what would turn out to be my final trip back to the states for the holidays while a resident of Mexico City. While en route to Knoxville for a Smoky Mountain Christmas, I found myself “in transit” for four great days in Chicago, the city of my childhood. I grew up outside the Windy City, and have fond memories of school field trips and family car rides to the city’s museums, lakefront, ball parks, and shopping districts. Although I don’t regret my decision, circa 2000, to leave Chicago and move to Los Angeles (pre-Mexico and pre-pre-Tennessee), I find myself missing Chicago at times, and with fewer friends and relatives living in the city now than in 2000, I simply don’t get to return as often as I’d like.
Time passes and people move in and out of an individual’s life. It happens – and often without fanfare. I haven’t been to Chicago in what seems like ages, so this post is, in some ways, just the nostalgia trip that I need. In other ways, however, it is an exercise in catharsis. While the trip itself was great, one of the players who had a bit part in the story is no longer with us, and a second is in failing health. I hope you enjoy the tale…but as you read through to the end, know that it was written with a heavy heart.
Continue reading “Holiday Travels – Part Ten”