Sunday, December 1, 2013


Oh man, I have been neglecting this blog MAJORLY.  Sorry about that folks, you know how busy college life is.  I'm back with a new spiel about the latest movie Frozen.  Let's start with the best part: the animation.  The scene where Elsa builds a grand ice castle for herself with a few waves of her hand is absolutely beautiful, and basically any scene where the "snow queen" uses her power is a sight worth seeing.  You can never knock magic sparkles.  Elsa's sister Anna is a very spunky and adorable character whom I enjoyed watching throughout the film.  She's free-spirited, but the love that she shows for her sister is a real tearjerker (especially at the end).  My dad said he would've liked to see Elsa's character explored more, but doing the movie in Anna's point of view does keep things a little more upbeat.

I don't like putting major spoilers on my movie reviews, so I can't tell you all of my reactions to the plot twists (now matter how twisty they were).  However, I can say that I appreciated how the movie's message about love didn't revolve exclusively around the romantic kind of love.  There are certainly other forms of love and I feel that the movie did do a good job of showing that.  As for Olaf the snowman… whew, he is a trip!  Practically every scene he was in made me laugh, and his musical number about how he wishes it were summer only made him more funny/endearing (Kristoff: "I'm gonna tell him.  Anna: "Don't you dare.").  That leaves me with Kristoff, the ice guy.  Pretty handsome dude.  I'm gonna leave it there.

So, what's the final sum-up?  Frozen is a pretty entertaining movie and you should see it if you like funny snowmen, mushy lovey-dovey stuff, and reindeer named Sven.

P.S. I didn't find out until after I saw the movie that Flynn/Eugene and Rapunzel from the movie "Tangled" make a cameo appearance!  You only see their backs, but be on the lookout for them when people are entering the castle of Arendelle for Elsa's coronation.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Me-Shaped Hole

Inspired by this post

Me-Shaped Hole

There is a Me-Shaped Hole

In my parent's house,
Which creaks and groans in mourning
In the wooden desk,
Which stands stiffly and lonely
In the old brown couch,
Which slumps in its silent space

There is a Me-Shaped Hole

In my mother's hands,
Which used to always cook for me
In my father's eyes,
Which used to nightly read to me
In my sister's mouth,
Which used to eat my food for me

There is a Me-Shaped Hole

"We miss you."

There is a Me-Shaped Hole

In my high school's bookshelves,
Which are filled with new favorites
In the scrawling whiteboard,
Which has new lessons, new tricks
In my old teacher's brain,
Which brims with new things to learn

There is a Me-Shaped Hole

In far off friends
Who ventured to distant Dreams
In misplaced classmates
Who have gone to Who-Knows-Where
In acquaintances
Who traveled to AfterLand

"I miss you too."

There is a Me-Shaped Hole

There is a Them-Shaped Hole

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What Is Home?

Inspired by my mother accidentally calling my college dorm my "home."

What is home?  Frankly I can no longer tell.  About thirteen years ago I was planted in a humble house that didn't have much to it other than the foundation, the walls, and the roof.  I didn't budge for many years, but oh how my heart dreamt of going beyond the horizon, where the dull flat earth collided with the limitless expanse of the sky.  Sometimes I could envision myself floating up higher and higher, so that my fingertips could slide along the outline of the circle of the sun.  Something real would always pull me back down.

Yet what was imagined is now real, and what I thought was the future is now here.  There is a me-sized hole in my parents' house.  I call it a house because, well, I don't know what my home is anymore.  It is a new reality that I must grasp.  What is mine?  Who have I left behind?  Who is just ahead of me?  Where is my home?  My body is being stretched everywhere at once, but I can't reach far enough to touch anything.  I am suspended between wonderful, almost-forgotten memories of an old world and a new universe that becomes more and more familiar with each day I spend there.  I am no longer content in my parents' house.  They know that, and I know that, but I still think of them everyday.  I want to soar into the new and unknown, but I still embrace the olden days.  Is where I live now my home?  The question spins around my head in an endless whirl of I-don't-know.  Will I ever know?

The answer is to be decided.

Monday, August 26, 2013


I first started writing this little piece for my youth group at my last summer camp.  After the first draft I didn't touch it until I realized how quickly my time at New Heart was drawing to a close.  So, after A LOT of editing, this is the final product.

To New Heart Youth Group

Something funny about a memory is that I can never remember it.  I know that day happened, but my mind’s view is as foggy as the mirror after you take a shower.  I wish I could remember so well that it would be as if I’m reliving the moment in its pure, crystal clarity that I’ll never see again.  There will always be an inadequacy when it comes to remembering any time.  The time when we played Apples to Apples for the first time, or I climbed up the rock wall at camp, or someone stole your Koole-Aid.   I will always be reaching, but never quite touching what I long for.  What is it that I truly ache for, and why do I go on about an essence that can’t be regained?  What is the reason I want to remember so desperately?  The reason is you – as crazy and irritating and funny as you are.  Though my last time here will inevitably become a blur, nothing will change the fact that for all this time you have been a very dear friend.

I finished my childhood with you, which automatically makes your place in my life extremely special.  Don’t get me wrong, there were times were I felt like throwing you out of a two-story window – sometimes even a three-story window.  Ah, but I have to admit that you guys were pretty story-worthy.  There was “Kike’s Koole-Aid,” “Picturesque,” a few poems, and memoir I wrote in Creative Writing about the time I got face-slammed by a snowball.  Out of all the memories I share with you, those creative pieces are only scraps of paper out of an entire novel.  You’re my friend, and though I wish we wouldn’t end, know that your face has been permanently sketched into my brain.  Your image, though half-muddled in the chaos known as memories, will be with me for as long as I can hold on.  All I ask is that you hold onto me, too.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Despicable Me 2: Not at all despicable!

So I saw Despicable Me 2 yesterday with a friend, and I have to say that it did not disappoint.  Gru was on the good side, but I could still see the remnants of his former "evil" (i.e. purposely blasting his neighbor with water when she tried to set him up on a date).  True to his role as a dad, Gru continually tried to block his oldest daughter Margo from any association with boys (does it matter if she's texting a boy or girl? no, UNLESS IT'S A BOY!).  The minions (of course) were hilarious every minute they were on the screen, and the three daughters were absolutely adorable.  Gru's developing relationship with his partner Lucy Wiles was great to watch as well; it was endearing to see how nervous Gru got whenever it boiled down to asking a girl out.  Plus, the scene where Lucy first meets Gru - involving a LIP-STICK TASER - was both funny and shocking (pun totally intended!).

Considering the loving family dynamic Gru had with his girls and the comedic antics of the minions, I would say that sequel is definitely on par with the original movie.  I was a little disappointed that Vector didn't make a reappearance as the villain, but the new one served the necessary purpose regardless.  I genuinely enjoyed being reunited with the characters I fell in love with in the first movie.  If you liked the original Despicable Me, get off your butt and watch its sequel!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vacationing in Hawai'i

There were several things I learned on my recent trip to Hawai'i: (1) ocean water is supposed to be transparent, (2) do not, I repeat, DO NOT feed the animals (especially pigeons), and (3) my Aunt Renee looooooves shopping.  I'll give a synopsis of each day in a few sentences.

Day 1 (Arrival): I had three more hours of the day than I thought I would because of the time difference, and thankfully I didn't get air sickness.  Flushing the toilet on the plane is kind of scary (you might know what I'm talking about if you've been on a plane).

Day 2: Sunday morning means going to Mass at the local Catholic church.  My aunt and I then went to a little museum to learn about Father Damien and his work with lepers in Kalaupapa.  After that, HELLO WAIKIKI BEACH!

Day 3: We went on the Pearl Harbor tour in the USS Missouri (also called the Mighty Mo), where the peace agreements were signed to end World War II.

Day 4: 'Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the U.S. used as an official residence by a reigning monarch (the last being Queen Lili'uokalani).  After that the Foster Botanical Garden, which was absolutely breathtaking!  More beach time afterward.

Day 5: Polynesian Cultural Center was a great source for learning about the traditions of Hawai'i, Tahiti, Tonga (whose pronunciation is still disputed between me and my aunt), Fiji, Samoa, and New Zealand.  Plus, seeing half naked guys ALL day?  Not a bad deal!

Day 6: Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.  I got water up my nose, but it was totally worth it.

Day 7: At the third oldest aquarium in the U.S., I tried identifying all the fish I saw while snorkeling.  In the evening, I went to the hot tub while Aunt Renee went shopping.

Day 8 (Departure): I saw the largest Hawaiian T-shirt IN THE WORLD at Hilo Hattie's, where I impatiently waited for Aunt Renee to finish her last-minute perusing.  We watched Jack the Giant Slayer for the first time on the airplane ride home.  Ah, back to breathing smog.

One of the best parts was - oddly enough - the plane ride.  Being on a par with the clouds, and eventually soaring so high above that they looked like puffy white islands on the ocean, made the sky seem so much more touchable, obtainable.  It made be believe that those sky-high dreams I have are more within reach than I always thought.  My head was literally in the clouds for a few precious moments, and that was okay.  I have a little more hope now.

All in all, I had an amazing trip that I'm not likely to forget.  I'm grateful for such a wonderful opportunity, especially if I never get to come again.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Graduation 2013

My mother asked me what I would have said if I was the one making a speech for graduation instead of the valedictorian.  At the time I told her that I didn't know, but now I realize what I would have said.  Pulsations of thrill spread throughout my body as I made that final walk with my classmates to begin the graduation ceremony.  The flurry of familiar faces blinded me to the single fact that flailed its arms frantically to try to gain my attention.  Only when I had received my high school diploma, turned around, and beheld the football field did I recognize that this was the last time I would see most of these people, either for life or at least until the ten-year reunion.  How many times had I rehearsed my excitement in my head?  Yet there I was, stricken by the revelation that had failed to beat down the doors of my enthusiasm for all of senior year.  It was really over.

As much as I hated the last-minute weepy feeling of nostalgia and loss, I would not have lived my last four years any differently.  It is a far better thing to have seen every smile, heard every laugh, and felt every tender embrace than to have lived an ignorant but painless four years without the people I have met.  At West Covina High School, I have learned what it means to be a true friend, how to balance extracurriculars and academics, and how much a great teacher can affect a student's life.  The mundane yet life-altering experiences that confronted, greeted, befriended, and surprised me will never lose their mark on my heart.  Never would I trade the dear people I have loved and lost in West Covina.  So as much as I hate to say goodbye, dear friends, I would hate it far worse to give up saying hello; the memories of you are too life-changing to let go of.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

EPIC... was it really that epic?

So today I went with my family to see Epic, based on a book written by William Joyce, and I had a good time.  Dad said that it had a weak storyline, and I agree mainly because I find the concept of secret-world-with-little-people a regurgitation of Arthur and the Invisibles.  However, it was really great to be hearing the voice of Josh Hutcherson for the whole movie and I liked the romantic intrigues.

The movie did succeed in having me thinking, "WHEN IS EVERYTHING GONNA BE OKAY ALREADY?!"  Needless to say I was absorbed into the movie and was sufficiently entertained with suspense and humor at the same time.  I laughed my head off several times, mainly due to the slug and snail.  For me, the animation gets a resounding ten out of ten - seriously, the animators should get an award.  The scenery of nature was absolutely beautiful, that's how well they nailed it.  The ending was really sweet, since everything is wrapped up with a reconciled father-daughter relationship.  Though I wouldn't necessarily describe the movie as totally "epic," I give the movie an overall score of an eight out of ten.  If you want an excuse to get out of the house and have a nice time, I recommend seeing this movie with your friends.  Later, bloggers!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Neil Simon's Plaza Suite

So Saturday night, I went with my dad to see West Covina High School Theater Department's production of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite.  I saw the play for two reasons: (1) as a theater lover, I always want to support my school's drama department, and (2) it's the last play of senior year, duh!  The play showed three different acts with different characters in the Plaza Hotel, suite 719.  The first act featured a woman who realizes on her 24th (or 23rd) anniversary that her husband has been cheating on her with his secretary (oh, how original!).  The second focused on a real scandal, consisting of a Hollywood producer seducing his old high school sweetheart, a married woman.  The third, my favorite act, was about two parents who are frantically trying to get their daughter Mimsey out of the bathroom so she can get married.

There were definitely some laugh-worthy moments, and the set was a job very well done (kudos to Tech Theater for setting that up!).  My dad seemed to like the background music playing before the play started.  Was the production worth paying $8 at the door, even though I'd read and seen the movie version of the play already?  Definitely.  The third act especially did its job of making me crack up, but I liked the other acts as well.  Overall, I'd say the theater department's time and effort were well spent on this play.  Go Bulldogs!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Shrug

Since I haven't made a post all month, I figured I might as well put one up now.  I wrote a poem a while ago called "The Shrug," inspired by a conversation my dad and I had about the constant use of the word "shrug" in stories.  I poked at the poem a little bit today to edit some things, so hopefully it has come out all right in the end.

The Shrug

I despise that thing you do,The symbol of simply not caring,The portrayal of plain lazinessIn preference to spoken words.

When I ask you a question,Or request an opinion,All I get is the tensionOf your shoulder muscles.

The upward, then downwardMotion of your bare shouldersCauses the vomit to scream up my throat.I become ill at the mere sight of you.

Oh, where is the cure?The refreshing articulationOf your smirking, grossly underused lipsIs all I need, and all I want.

No one does it as much as you.Thankfully I know others more eloquentAnd capable of accomplishing moreThan your infuriating shrug.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Satire About Damsels in Distress

So, I had to do a satire for Creative Writing, and I decided to target damsels in distress.  I don't know if you've ever heard of The Onion, so in case you haven't it's a website full of fake news articles that make fun of some part of society.  I modeled my piece after a typical article from The Onion.  It was fun playing up all the stereotypes about men and women, and I hope you enjoy reading this.

Local Damsels Purposely Remain in Distress
From The Bunion
MIAMI, FLORIDA – Just a few days ago, Hurricane David swept over the entire state of Florida in a rush of the devastating fury of nature.  The hurricane hit hardest in Miami, wiping out thousands of homes within the span of mere moments, and leaving catastrophic wreckage in its wake.  To make matters worse, a tsunami caused the Florida coast to be flooded for miles and miles inland.  A wave of U.S. National Guards have extensively explored the aftermath in search of survivors.  Unexpectedly, a group of them recently stumbled upon a gathering of young women, who were huddled together on the roof of one of the remaining houses.
All the women were sitting on the sole island that had emerged from the surface of the flood, and they had not budged from the spot since the natural disaster occurred.  An inflatable boat was lodged in a tree’s branches only a few yards away from them, but the women had wisely chosen not to retrieve it.  Sally Finkle, one of the women who were trapped on the roof, stated that, “We were not going to risk our lives by swimming a few yards in that nasty water!  Men are the only ones suited for that sort of physical work, so we patiently waited for them to come to rescue us, as they always have.”
When questioned, National Guard John Buffman agreed with Finkle, asserting that “Us men are fully capable of doing all the work for women.  My wife knows better than to do any physical labor – unless of course she’s making dinner or cleaning the house.  All I ask of her is that she remains home, sewing quietly until I demand a round of beers for me and my friends.”
If the women had stayed a day longer, the roof would have probably collapsed and they would have drowned.  Upon learning this, the women were of course even more grateful to the men who came just in time to rescue them.  Finkle and the others assured everyone that even if it cost them their lives, they were determined to preserve the name of chivalry, and the coyness that always lures men in – as this event has clearly demonstrated.
“If we had taken the liberty of escaping the danger on our own, what would have happened to all the hard-working men who saved us?” asked Finkle.  “They would have been disheartened and felt so unappreciated that they would have given up opening jars, changing tires, and having belching contests with their friends.”
The families were ecstatic to have their loved ones back safe and sound; Finkle’s parents were extremely proud of their daughter’s bravery in helplessly waiting for her knights in shining armor, rather than cutting to the chase and saving herself.  They advise all women to follow Sally’s example, because listlessly lingering is what those of the female gender have been doing in patriarchal societies for centuries.
“Let men have all the fun,” dismissed Finkle.  “They deserve it after working so tirelessly to protect us and put food on the table.”
Unfortunately, America has lately had the trend of women stepping out more and more into the limelight – whether by building their own careers, obtaining higher education, or occasionally leaving the husband behind to watch the kids.  Hopefully the recent events at Miami will inspire women to take a stand, and slink back into their houses where no one will ever see them again… as it should be.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reading My Children's Book

Hey guys, I have AWESOME news.  My Creative Writing class took a field trip last week to read our children's books to the kids at my old elementary school.  My teacher asked me to write an article about the experience for the school newspaper, since no one in Creative Writing this year was taking Journalism.  So, I whipped up my article and saw it in print TODAY in fifth period.  I am super proud and thank God for this opportunity to see my name in Newsbytes.  If you can't read the article from the pic, I cut and pasted the typed version below.

"I think Mr. Pirraglia nailed the purpose of my Creative Writing class visiting Cameron Elementary when he said, “They’re not reading today, they’re connecting today.”  My fourth period class did not spend a month churning out ideas, refining them, and illustrating them for our children’s books to be merely graded.  Reading to the kids at Cameron – my old school – was our way to give back to our community, while also identifying with the children in an experience that we will never forget.

Curious eyes as wide as saucers greeted my three classmates and me as we entered Room 16.  My fourth of the class huddled around me like bees hover around their hive, and gazed at me shyly.  After gulping a few breaths of air, I began my story, titled “Jenna B. Gumbo,” which is about a girl with bubble gum for hair.  My intent was to teach kids about the hurtfulness of bullying and the necessity for kindness.  As the groups rotated, I saw more and more enthusiasm among my listeners and gained momentum in my confidence.
Earlier I said our purpose was to give back to our community.  Well, in the end it turned out to be a way for our community to give even more to us.  Receiving the smiles and hugs from the appreciative children made my heart swell with joy.  Honestly, I describe our field trip to Cameron as a mutual exchange of fun, excitement, and blessing."

Monday, February 11, 2013

What Is Love?

Hey guys, there's a love poem contest going on at my school.  Do you think I got a shot at winning?

What Is Love?

Love is the pink petals of a newborn rose
Love is the soft sunlight of a dawning sky
Love is the crude kiss of a wandering wind
Love is the sustaining soil of a verdant earth

Love is the chubbiness of an infant’s cheeks
Love is the depth of a smile’s dimples
Love is the swelling of a woman’s heart
Love is the yearning of a man’s soul

Love is the embrace of a faithful father
Love is the caress of a marvelous mother
Love is the jabs of a bothersome brother
Love is the smack of a smirking sister

Love is the world’s word of misuse
Love is the child’s emblem of hope
Love is the star’s source of light
Love is the sage’s center of thought

Love is the seamless intertwining of fingers
Love is the undeniable power of Shakespeare
Love is the potent adversary of hate
Love is the purest essence of life

Love is the cross of Christ on a hill

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Little Shop of Horrors

Hey guys, I'm back with another review!  Okay, so from Wednesday night to Saturday night, West Covina High School's Theatre program put on a production of the musical "Little Shop of Horrors."  My dad and I agree that it was a great performance - it was totally worth the twenty two dollars I paid for his ticket and my ticket.  For those of you who haven't heard of this musical, here's the synopsis: a geeky guy named Seymour works at a rundown flower shop and finds an alien plant that feeds on human blood.  Seymour and the plant make a deal that if the plant continues to bring him fame, he'll keep feeding the plant human bodies (I know, it's gross).  By the musical's end the plant eats Seymour and his friends and it lives happily ever after.

The plot was certainly interesting as well as kinda disgusting, but in this review I'll stick to West Covina High's performance.  Although everyone had beautiful (or at least decent) singing voices, the ensemble singing could have used some more work.  Only one person sang so clearly that I could understand everything she was singing, and that was Andrea Franco; she was an Alumni playing the lead female role.  Not only did she have a great singing voice, her enunciation and acting was superb.  From what a cast member said, Andrea was not a part of the original cast, but rather filled in two weeks before the show's premier.  If so, Andrea pulled herself together masterfully.  I also appreciated the street urchins' singing, save for the times they tried to sing together.  Every time they tried, the words got somewhat muddled.  I don't know about you, but I personally like to understand what the actors are saying.

Musical performances aside, I think Everett Cabon was the perfect guy to play Seymour; he looked and acted the part very well in my opinion.  Stephanie Torres was an awesome Mrs. Mushnik, which I will tell her personally when I see her in Creative Writing.  It was kinda funny seeing my friends acting as homeless people, sitting lazily for most of the musical; I imagine that was loads of fun during rehearsals.  Oh, I also LOVED the live music being played throughout the whole performance; that was a job extremely well done.  Overall I think the Theatre department should be very proud of all their hard work and I can't wait to see their rendition of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ode to a Friend

This post is dedicated to Grace Moore, whose birthday is today.  Love ya, chica!

Ode to a Friend
For Grace Moore

My love so dear,
Should I want another sister,
It would be you, I fear.
None can quite understand
The bonds that have us entwined,
Yet none would reprimand.

I do oft wonder
Whether anything vexes you,
For wrongs roll down your shoulder
So very smoothly,
Without a scratch on your skin.
You endure my remarks so patiently.

Rejuvenating camaraderie,
Overflowing in your fountain,
Quenches me for free.
Yet not so free, perhaps, 
For when you need me,
I'll join you in your mishaps.