Monday, November 30, 2015

10 Things I like about Kyoto

Not in any particular order:


We met up with our friends and were staying with their family the few days that we were in town.  One of the best experiences during that trip was the friendship and time we spent with them in Kyoto

Washing our hands.
I love the sign that shows you how to wash your hands or "Tearai (?) no Tsukaikata"
Different people will tell your different ways to cleanse but at least, if you didn't know, they have a how-to sign.
The holiest of holy water

3. This Place!
Fushimi-Inari is the shrine with all the Torii and I absolutely adore it.  Apparently each gate represents a business and the owners would purchase a Torii to bring them luck.

There are various sizes and costs but the more money you put into the torii, the bigger the torii and wider the gate for good luck and fortune to walk though it.

These are smaller but I wasn't sure if you can take them to post at your own business or if they have to be posted there.

Apparently after so long, the torii gets decommissioned and taken down to be burned in a ceremonial fire...but I'm thinking that's after a few decades or hundred years or so.
The stakes are the designated spots for the new business that have commissioned a torii erected in their name.

4. These Places!
Kiyomizu & Tofukuji  

Hit and Run Tour of Temples around Kyoto

6. Food!

When you go to a Kaitensushi place, expect to get plates of sushi like this.

Now it may not seem like much when you look at it but sushi is actually pretty filling and the rice can really satiate you.

7. Gion & Ginkakuji

8. Onsen

9. Frozen in Japanese

10. Family
After this trip, I feel like we were adopted into their family and made some great memories.

We had one of the best trips of our life in those two weeks and one of the highlights was coming to Kyoto and spending time with our family from Japan

Friday, November 27, 2015

Movie: Cinderella 2015 Part I

This is a LONG one, folks.

So I just watched Cinderella and I liked it.  It was much better than Disney's revival of their classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent (sorely disappointed!).

I think it's smart of Disney to introduce a new generation of girls to their 'Princess' collection, but revamping it to live action.  And LOTS of BLUE (I'll get to that later).

I wasn't sorely disappointed by the cast, that was for sure:

Image result for cinderella 2015 cast
Lily James...I don't know who she is but all I can think of is Harry Potter

Cate Blanchett

I couldn't keep my eyes off of her!  She's a great actress, yes, but I feel like the person doing the costumes for this movie was all 'princessed' and 'princed' out that they just had a field day with making her costumes because she was absolutely stunning!  If I didn't like Disney, I'd just go to watch this movie just for the costumes.

                          Image result for cinderella 2015 stepmother costume

Image result for cinderella 2015 stepmother costume

Image result for lady tremaine cate blanchett

Is it sad that I find the evil stepmother more charismatic and beautiful than Ella? ...Nah!

Another favorite actress, Helena Bonham Carter

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Definitely a nice transformation from her usual dark look she's been associated with as of late

Image result for cinderella 2015 fairy godmother           

This girl from Downton Abbey, Sofia McShera and this girl from I don't know what:

Image result for sophie mcshera cinderella
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Holliday Grainger!  That's her name!

The cast of Game of Thrones!

This guy... Nonso Anozie who played Xaro Xhoan Daxos

And Robb Stark!  Holy $#*%!  (Not because he's good lookin' but last time we saw him, he was a King and...well, you know what happened! If you don't, <--- Click that link and find out if you really want to know - 3:30 GoT SPOILERS for Season 3)

Anyhoo, enough about the cast and back to the movie!  I liked it and it was cute and cheesy and corny like most Disney films but it pretty good and they kept a lot of elements from the cartoon that I thought were rather charming.  In fact, I feel like there was an amalgamation of Disney's 1950's as well as Drew Barrymore's Flower Production adaptation, Ever After: A Cinderella Story and a tiny bit of Ella Enchanted directed by Tom O'Haver.

Three things - other than it being a very cute movie - stuck out in my mind.  I felt that Ella just couldn't get over how pretty she became during the transformation!  Ella kept on twirling and marveling at all the finery - granted, if I were here and knew it wasn't a drug trip, I'd probably do the same thing - not once, not twice, but all the time!  Maybe she was just doing her best impersonation of being a snooty princess by checking herself out all the time but it was very distracting.  When Ella was dancing with Prince Kit, I couldn't help but notice that she would slip into the doting princess that would swoon around the Prince, and if I was mistaken, I think the Prince noticed her more because she wasn't one of those girls.

Enough about her, now let's talk color the BLUE (brought you by Sesame Street)

There was definitely an overall color scheme in this movie and though the stepmother's GREEN colors stood out a lot - she was green with envy -  BLUE was in your FACE!


I'll talk more about this in my next post but I feel like my eyes are not accustomed either to whatever blue they used or if they digitally enhanced that color, man does it not look natural!

Just sayin'.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the third recurring thought in my mind, especially at the end when they got married (Whoops!  Spoiler! As if you didn't know how Cinderella ended and if you did, Thank GOD you came out from whatever rock you lived under!) I couldn't help but think that someone was going to ambush the castle and kill them all.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

More Insight into 5 Senses

Pretty jagged rocks
Yes, it's another blog post shamelessly talking about my book, 5 Senses.

I've had a few people ask me what my book is about and I always have a hard time explaining it because what aspect do I explain?

Do I tell them too much...not I too vague...should I mention this...?

All those things float in my head but I actually had a great conversation with a local artist about my inspirations for 5 Senses so I'll start there.

I incorporated a lot of nature in this book because it seemed fitting to highlight different aspects of your senses through nature.

Well, let me start with a bit of background info about the book.

For those of you that don't know, the story is told from Jaime's perspective about his friendship with a blind girl named, Iris.

With Iris' influence, he learns to see the world through his other senses just as she does.

The whole concept of this book actually was to reacquaint myself with my senses that I've taken for granted on more than one occasion.  When I wrote this story, I actually remembered my freshmen year in high school contemplating our senses and how we use them.  My favorite English teacher and her student teacher had encouraged us to write stories of our own and one of the exercises had to do with our senses and what would happen if we had to choose one sense to live without.

I remember at the time I chose touch for that assignment and I started to think about how much of our other senses we use constantly but unconsciously.

Nothing like a nice cool dip on a hot sunny day

In college, I thought about that same exercise, choosing a sense I would have forgone and at that time, sight was the one that I would give up over the others.

When I think about that question now, I think I would give up my hearing abilities in favor of all my other senses.  I can deal with silence and still get by pretty well but all those other senses, I feel would be more important at this time in my life - especially if I want to travel.

Ask me again in 5-10 years and I may have a different answer for you.

Yup...Definitely would give up my hearing over all else

Nowadays, I realize that I need to get more attuned to my senses because it's so easy to get caught up with life and forget to just kick back, relax, and enjoy the scenery.

I love this tree!  It watches over this lovely, shallow swimming hole

I feel it's harder for children of this generation to really sit back and just be wherever they are without the constant stimulation, especially in a very urban setting. Many kids didn't know a time before internet and instant gratification.

I'm going to sound old but 'back when I was a kid...' we used to go outside and play and do weird and probably dangerous things that would have taken me and other crazy kids out of the gene pool completely but we're still here today.

If we lived through those events - which, miraculously, we did - we sure learned from the experience.

I'm sure our parents (and older generations) would say that our vise was TV and a corded telephone.  I'll give them that.

However, we didn't have the internet readily at our fingertips.

I'd say in the US, my generation was the last one to really know what it was like before the boom of the internet and cellphones.  When I was in high school, people hardly had cellphones and internet was slowly making its way into households.  Today, I can't think of a house - unless they are senior citizen - that doesn't have internet.  Same goes for cell phones.  I can't think of more than 5 people off the top of my head that doesn't have a cellphone.

Myself included.
(Dramatic GASP!)

I'm sure, if you're reading this, you're probably shocked and thinking, 'Why doesn't this crazy _expletive_  have a freakin' cellphone?!

To tell you the truth, it's probably a good thing that I don't have a cellphone because I'm a slave to my laptop and I'd probably never interact with anyone unless it was through my phone.  I have a very addictive personality so its easy for me to get hooked on simple things (i.e. Triple Town, PVZ, Flight Control - you get the picture)

Getting off topic.... I want and need to 'unplug' myself from my vice (my laptop) every now and then and it would force me to remember that I used to have fun through other means (hiking, swimming, getting lost, etc.)

NOM NOM NOM!!!  Chocolate Fountain = Chocolate Coma = HAPPY
I wrote this book to remind myself to get away from it all and remember there is a world outside of my technology.

You'll notice that there are no cell phones or computers mentioned in the book.

Yes, it's very much a fictional fantasy world emulating a time before instant gratification, answers to questions (I'm pointing fingers at you, Siri!) and having a phone on your person - essentially a mini computer - at all times.

It's my idealized world that's overly simple and unrealistic.

Yeah, I get that....and it sounds ridiculous now that I'm explaining it.

Oh, well.  It is what it is.

Things that influenced me and this book:

Her 'name is Toph, because it sounds like tough!'
Toph Beifong from Avatar the Last Airbender

Granted, Iris' personality is completely different from Toph's but  they both don't need give a shit that they are blind and actually use it to their advantage.

Oh, and if you haven't watched this show yet...WHAT THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN WATCHING IN LAST 10 YEARS?!

At LEAST watch the 2nd season.  You don't need the 1st and you'll figure it out.  Just... watch Avatar the Last Airbender!

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Let me preface my selection by saying this movie is MESSED UP! ...On all kinds of levels.

But beautifully filmed.  The cast is amazing (then again, I think almost anything that Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman touch is amazing, but that's just me) and the story very compelling.  I definitely had a morbid curiosity as to what he was going to do and will he complete his task but very interesting story none the less.

What really inspired me was how much detail and imagery they used to depict the sense of smell or scent.

If you think about it, scent and taste would be the hardest to really capture on screen but they did it so masterfully that I was blown away.

This is also not a movie for kids or YA (it's Rated R) so watch or allow your kids to watch at your own discretion.