Winter Adventures in Warm Temperatures.

 

In clock-wise direction:

  • Fort Myers, Florida, Unites States of America
  • Lima, Peru
  • Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Countryside – drive between Cusco and Puno
  • Floating Islands, Lake Titicaca, Peru

A little Haiku:

Hot, warm, and humid

But mesmerized by the clouds

Unlike London fog

All photos taken by the GoPro HERO4.

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Reflections on my week in BOSTON… and a peek into Harvard/MIT.

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Reflections on my short trip to Boston:

  1. I personally found Boston to be the older and more attractive sibling of New York: the streets are cleaner, the people are friendlier, and the architecture is diverse. (Boston is the perfect mix between tradition and modernity). Plus, Boston is quite small, making the walk from the North end all the way to Cambridge a charming afternoon.
  1. The city has a bustling culture scene. I was fortunate enough to catch a Puerto Rican festival this past weekend. First, my friend and I stumbled upon a full free night concert and the next day we saw a parade! The atmosphere was absolutely joyous due to the wonderful Bostonian people and hispanic pride. The cultural diversity of the city adds to its dynamic ambiance. (Fun fact from a local: Boston has a large Puerto Rican community).
  1. Boston could easily be identified as a university area. The actual city is filled with names ranging from Northeastern, Berklee School of Music, Tufts, Boston University, and Boston College. And just across the Charles River are MIT and Harvard in Cambridge. As a student aspiring to their high calibre, I found the two prestigious universities to be aweing and yet normal. By talking to current students, it became clear that going to Harvard or MIT was difficult (but DEFINITELY not unattainable through hard work). Insider information: Harvard students pee on the statue of John Harvard, so DON’T rub the foot. Also, MIT students love climbing on things… buildings, the alchemist statue, etc.
  1. The transportation was easy to use and efficient. I was staying at MIT in Cambridge, which was closely connected to the city through the T (metro). There were also buses and other quick links. I’m biased because I live in London, but hey, for an American city the public transportation was pretty good!
  1. So much to do! So much to see! So much to enjoy! There are museums, historical sites, comedy clubs, malls, movie theatres, Red Sox games, food markets, parks and so so so much more. Additionally, the city appears to care for its citizens. For example, the greenway is a park stretch from the North End to South Station. AND there’s free wifi on this strip (it also has benches, tables, fountains, and vegetation).
  1. The people were absolutely lovely. The population sample was probably skewed away from students because it was summer, but I found Boston to have a nice mix of students, young professionals, and established business suits. Although it heavily depends on the area, Boston also has a nice balance between the different socio-economic classes.

Personal recommendations for places to visit:

  1. Boston Commons
  2. Faneuil Hall Marketplace/Quincy Market – bustling food and clothing stores
  3. Beacon Hill – where the rich people live
  4. North End – Italian part (must try cannoli)
  5. Newbury Street – shopping and beautiful area
  6. Freedom Trail
  7. The financial district
  8. The Boston Harbour Inn
  9. The different university campuses (especially Cambridge)

Food/Drink:

  1. Eat lunch or dinner on top of the Prudential Tower for an amazing view of Boston
  2. Coffee and a sandwich at Thinking Cup
  3. Coffee shop experience =  Flour Bakery and Cafe 
  4. Brunch in Cambridge – Area Four (they serve pizza!)
  5. Boston Common Coffee (why go to Starbucks when Boston has its own chain?)
  6. La Burdicks – for a hot chocolate experience like a true Harvard Student
  7. Georgetown Cupcakes – there’s one on Newbury street

Final Conclusion: Boston… I’ll be coming back for you someday. You absolutely took my heart away!

Simple Fact about AIRPORT MORNINGS (and tales of travels):

Simple Fact about MORNINGS (and tales of travels):

I love eating breakfast at the airport. Why you might ask? Well, it’s quite simple, I love arriving at the airport extremely early to ensure that I have plenty of time and will not be stressed. And then, after checking in, getting my boarding pass, checking-in my bag, and passing airport security… I can finally plop down on a chair in a café or restaurant and leisurely wait for my plane to start boarding. The airport food is always better than the plane food, so I always stock up on calories for the journey. Plus, once you’re inside the terminals, you no longer have the giant bags and the opportunities to people watch are endless (businessmen, lovers, families, school trips, groups of foreign friends… you name it, Heathrow has it wandering around Terminal 2). But for me, the ultimate enjoyment originates from the peace of mind that comes from tranquilly waiting to board. I’ve already passed every hoop from packing to getting to the airport without 10 ml of liquids in your carry-on. I’ve never understood people who always arrive just before their flight. Aren’t you going to pass out from the stress of crossing an international border or the prospect of missing your thousand-dollar flight? But I guess people are different in their approaches to time management. Some don’t like waiting around, others don’t like last minute running through Gates B11-B34. I personally ALWAYS chose to enjoy my coffee and croissant with an hour and a half to spare; all while watching the woman in sweatpants dodge little children in hopes of making her flight (by the way, British Airways to Geneva is in Wing C, not Wing B). But I sigh as there’s nothing I can do to help her at this point… so I return to my latte, that has properly cooled down, to take the first sip of my calm wait for Chicago.

Suburban Life in America as Depicted in Cinema is quite Dystopian.

Some Films to Watch: 

All that Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)

American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999)

Back To The Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)

The ‘Burbs (Joe Dante, 1989)

Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)

The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)

The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)

Happiness (Todd Solndz, 1998)

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)

The Oranges (Julian Farino, 2011)

Pleasantville (Gary Ross, 1998)

The Stepford Wives (Bryan Forbes, 1975)

The Stepford Wives (Frank Oz, 2004)

The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998)

Some Academic Writing to Explain: 

“Hollywood’s anachronistic vision in this regard stands as testament to the profound cultural influence of the suburban landscape in the postwar years: for the development and subsequent massive expansion – particularly in the years and decades following the end of World War II – of ‘suburbia’ entailed the construction of not only a new kind of physical landscape, but new psychic and emotional landscapes as well.”

– Robert Beuka, “’Cue the Sun’: Soundings from Millennial Suburbia,” Iowa Journal of Culture Studies 3 (Fall 2003). Accessed Online. 

“Americans are obsessed with houses – their own and everyone else’s. We judge our selves and our neighbours by where and how we live.” 

– Dell Upton, Architecture in the United States (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 14. 

“The city started out as the culprit. But by the postwar era, the suburbs had elbowed their way into that maligned position – the site of social dysfunction and pathology. Hell, it seemed, moved from the city to the suburbs – like everyone else.” 

– Becky Nicolaides, ‘ How Hell Moved from the City to the Suburbs’ in The New Suburban History, eds. Kevin Kruse and Thomas Sugrue, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 80. 

 

How do you feel about your white picket fence now? 

UPA #2 (The Unicorn in the Garden)

UPA #2 (The Unicorn in the Garden)

More than likely, you’ve never heard of the UPA (United Productions of America) … AKA the Animation Studio that opposed the Disney Style from the 1940s to the 1970s. There was an exodus of animators from the Disney Studio in the early 40s that lead to the foundation of UPA. This is a colour storyboard from one of their most famous films, The Unicorn in the Garden (1953).

Some key visual characteristics of UPA:
1. The backgrounds were usually kept plain and minimal.
2. The movements were exaggerated and caricatured.
3. The colour could bled outside the outlines.
4. Every director was allowed to create a different style for their short film.

Click on the picture to watch The Unicorn in the Garden.

Some other ones to watch include:
Rooty-Toot-Toot
Mr. Magoo
The Tell-Tale Heart

CalArts and the Legendary Offsprings of room A113 are featured in Vanity Fair.

CalArts and the Legendary Offsprings of room A113 are featured in Vanity Fair.

Well, well, well… anyone who’s watched an animated film in the last 15 years has probably seen the result of this legendary class of Character Animation at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts). Most of PIXAR’s founding members were students of the classic Disney artists in the 70s and 80s. This Vanity Fair article is such a good summary and insight into the cultural climate and history of animation at the time – the lead up to the animation revival of the 1990s/2000s. It is definitely worth a read. (Just click on the photo to go to the article!!)

I get so inspired by this story (and this group of youngsters). But I think the lesson to take away from this is that you must be determined, hard-working, but also courageous to take risks and new opportunities. Today, there is no guarantee that graduating from CalArts will automatically lead you to become an animation director. These directors graduated at a different time in history and I believe that there will be a new wave of animation in the future. The question is, who is willing to create a new path and lead this revolution?

The man in the arena… According to Teddy Roosevelt.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

–   Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910