Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing an earlier film made by Spike Lee, was probably one of the most muddlesome films etched into then, my young mind. Back then, I'd had a crush on an older, more sophisticated man, or so I thought, and he recommended the film to me. My eyes were smeared and innocence corrupted after seeing this film. I am not saying it was the most hideous film of all time. I respect Spike and his endevours as a film-maker but he is certainly not one of my favourites.

What I do and will always admire though is the simplicity of the message.
Hearing the name of the film by itself and not seeing it, it gives off the illusion of greatness.
A poignant and powerful title. Do the Right Thing. And here it is I repeat it again.

I just want to say --- Do the Right Thing in life, no matter how much it hurts. No matter how high the temptation is, no matter what is lost, always, always .... Do the Right thing... No-one may notice, but you're not doing it for other people right? You're doing it for yourself and for the well-being of the other person, whom you should never take advantage of.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Temecula - Wine Country

I failed for the second time at the written driving test to get my California State license; damn those foggy weather questions! I got about 5 of them, and the round lady behind the counter didn't even look at me as she chirped, "You missed by one, come back on Monday before 4pm to re-take!" Great! I thought, I suppose the third time is the charm. I was really frustrated, but I knew the day could only go up from here. I was going to visit the California wine country, not to romantic Napa as yet, but to a place about an hour and a half away called Temecula. One of my best friends and his twin sisters went up there for the day 2 months prior and invited me, unfortunately I couldn't join them because of work, but now I was able to enjoy it, never mind if it was by myself.

I hit the open road with some Drum & Bass from the UK Podcast DJ's, but by the time I'd reached to my Depeche Mode CD, I realized the road wasn't as 'open' as I'd hoped. There were pockets of traffic in between, but I didn't let that spoil my mood. The view was incredible. Mountains, beautiful mountains as far as the eye could see. Growing up in Trinidad & Tobago, we had hills, but our smaller mountains were covered with large trees, it was a rainforest there. Here, you could see gorgeous glistening snow sprinkled in the distance and lovely yellow, orange and purple flowers dabbed throughout. How beautiful it seemed to me.

Exiting from the highway I found a quaint and cozy gourmet Italian restaurant called Gourmet Italia, off Rancho California Road. I sat and had a hearty meal of Gnocchi, which were potato pasta balls with a rich pesto sauce. Delicious! The owner offered me wine, but I obliged him instead to recommend some vineyards that I could visit. He did, and our meeting ended cheerfully with big smiles and several photographs. Everyone, including the owner kept asking me, why was I alone? Why was this gorgeous girl alone? Flattering I must say; however why can't a girl go wine-tasting on a day off. Yea, sure it wasn't the finest of ideas, but I wanted to keep Napa romantic and special in my mind, until I could spend it with someone special. I'd traveled half the world alone; it's really not that bad. Sure you end up taking 'not so good' photos of yourself, but once you've gotten past that, and cleverly humming a tune when someone realizes you're actually speaking to yourself, then trust me, it really isn't that bad.

I had the pleasure of visiting two vineyards, one called Wiens and the other called Wilson Creek. The people working there were darling, so friendly and well educated on the different wines and champagnes made there. My favourites were the Amour De L' Orange, a champagne with an orange rime aftertaste, the Estate Muscat Canelli, a fruity, sweet white wine, and by far the most delectable, the Almond Champagne, the vineyard called it The 'Oh my Gosh' Champagne, and it really is that wonderful. They used almond oil to ferment it, and it not only smells great, but goes down pretty smooth as well. Quite a family typesetting at both locations; one gentleman even was kind enough to allow me into the barrel rooms where they kept the wine cool for storage. I was lucky to visit on a Thursday, because I heard it gets pretty busy during the weekends as well as during the summer. I didn't have to fight with crowds, and got pleasant intimacy at both places.

I interacted with the usual un-recognized but most essential people of the whole business; yes, the Mexican workers. The tourists all had their families, boy-friends, and wine cases to go, and never did look at their humble workers toiling in the unforgiving sun. I was a tourist also, but didn't have any attachments to dwindle my attention; they were kind men; I was fortunate to get a photo with them too! They were a bit hesitant at first, but when I spoke their language and laughed and talked about the World Cup, they really warmed up to me. I talked to 5 workers, and all of them were from Mexico, and all very courteous and humble people. What important jobs they do, for the enjoyment of so-called wine connoisseurs. I wondered if they ever drank wine, and if so, were they offered bottles as perks for their work?

Several wine glasses later, I had a massive grin on my face, and shimmied in my car for the ride home with some Damien Marley and some Chopin. What a lovely trip; would I visit again? Most definitely, shall I bring friends; I hope so. Would I pretend to hum tunes again when people noticed I was speaking with myself if I again traveled solo? Certainly, because what better company to have than that of yourself! J

Find these and other great travel stories in the US and around the world, in Jair Ananda Massiah's travel story book. Just waiting to publish -- any interested publishers out there?? :)

Photos coming soon! ;)


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Earthquake Tips -- Be Prepared

So, growing up in Trinidad & Tobago, I knew a thing or two about earthquakes. In Trinidad & Tobago we are the southern-most Caribbean islands and therefore we are most times protected from Hurricanes, but being so close to South America, we do experience earthquakes. Since moving to Los Angeles, the city of angels (I love this place), it is even on a greater earthquake zone/fault. My dear Daddy with his concern sent this information along to me, and for those people who know little about earthquakes, feel free to digest these useful and life-saving tips. What I find funny about this all; even though it is a serious topic, is that we experienced a mini-earthquake here in LA 2 nights ago, and I remember being awakened by the chirping of birds outside my window, and I rolled around and angrily murmured... "Damn those birds, it's 4 o'clock in the morning, why don't they stop singing and sleep!" and in fact these birds were warning me that the earthquake was coming...listen to the animals people, they see and feel more than we do :))


1) Almost everyone who simply 'ducks and covers' when buildings collapse ARE
CRUSHED TO DEATH. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You
should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. That
position helps you survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to
a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a
void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an
earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If
the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also,
the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings
will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less
squashed bodies than concrete slabs. Concrete slab buildings are the most
dangerous during an earthquake.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll
off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a
much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the
back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor,
next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the
door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a
sofa, or large chair.

6) Almost everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is
killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or
backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls
sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different 'moment of frequency
(they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and
remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural
failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they
fail are chopped up by the stair treads ? horribly mutilated. Even if the
building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a
likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not
collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by
fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest
of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible - It
is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the
interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the
building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in
an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened
with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the
San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all
killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and lying in the
fetal position next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived
if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them.
All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars
that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and
other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids
are found surrounding stacks of paper.

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct.
The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul , University of Istanbul
Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific
test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten
mannequins did 'duck and cover,' and ten mannequins I used in my 'triangle
of life' survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled
through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the

The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly
observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed
there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my
method of the 'triangle of life.' This film has been seen by millions of
viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe , and it was seen in
the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

Spread the word and save someone's life... The entire world is experiencing
natural calamities so be prepared!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Courage

Stumbled across this lovely fable while doing some light reading the other night; there is a lovely message here and I want to share it with my readers; no matter how few they may be. It speaks of having courage to go after your dreams/desires, because even though the path is treacherous at times, your struggles and lessons will bring you to accomplishment. Believe in yourself, you aren't wasting time; you are climbing towards a better you! As the infamous words of Thomas Edison's goes, he spent 99 times figuring out ways how not to make a lightbulb work, and the 100th time he got success. He was never a failure, failure is giving up...but it's courage in yourself you need to become a winner! :)

Excerpt from: The Teaching of Buddha – By the Society of the promotion of Buddhism.

A man living near a cemetery heard one night a voice calling him from a grave. He was too timid to investigate it himself but the next day he mentioned it to a brave friend, who made up his mind to trace the place whence the voice came the following night.

While the timid man was trembling with fear, his friend went to the cemetery and, sure enough, the same voice was heard coming from a grave. The friend asked who it was and what it wanted. The voice from under the ground replied: "I am hidden treasure that has decided to give myself to someone. I offered it to a man last night but he was too timid to come after it, so I will give it to you who are worthy of it. Tomorrow morning I will come to your house with my seven followers."

The friend said: "I will be waiting for you, but please tell me how I am to treat you." The voice replied: "We will come in monk's robes. Have a room ready for us with water; wash your body and clean the room, and have seats for us and eight bowls of rice-porridge. After the meal, you are to lead us one by one into a closed room in which we will transform ourselves into crocks of gold."

The next morning this man washed his body and cleaned the room just as he had been told and waited for the eight monks to appear. In due time they appeared and he received them courteously. After they had eaten the food he led them one by one into the closed room, where each monk turned himself into a crock of gold.

There was a very greedy man in the same village who learned of the incident and wanted the crocks of gold. He invited eight monks to his house. After their meal he led them into a closed room, but instead of turning themselves into crocks of gold, they became angry and rough and reported the greedy man to the police who eventually arrested him.

As for the timid man, when he heard that the voice from the grave had brought wealth to the brave man, he went to the house of the brave man and greedily demanded the gold, insisting that it was his, because the voice first addressed him. When the timid man tried to take the crocks away he found lots of snakes inside raising their heads ready to attack him.

The king heard about this and ruled that the crocks belonged to the brave man and uttered the following observation: "Everything in the world goes like this. Foolish people are avaricious for good results only, but are too timid to go after them and, therefore, are continually failing. They have neither faith nor courage to face the internal struggles of the mind by which alone true peace and harmony can be attained."

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Oscars 2010

The night we've all been waiting for; or at least the night I have been faithfully waiting for. This was probably the only time I got to see the majority of films before the Oscars. I studied them every night for couple months prior, I watched the behind the scene segments, I listened to the musical scores, evaluated the acting and carefully followed the story line, which in my opinion is the most important part of any film. It's all about the story; because without the story, we wouldn't have anything else!

Well, I must say that for the 82nd Academy Awards, I was fairly disappointed with the outcome. It isn't only because my darling Jack (Nicholson) didn't show up, but maybe also because The Hurt Locker took home the majority of awards and definitely most likely because some people I watched it with not only talked through poignant points but placed severe judgment on films they did not even see.

I was unable to catch the display of dresses on the red carpet, but even though the gowns are absolutely breathtaking the incessant chatter is something I don't complain about missing.

I completely loved the interior/stage design, the dancing segment showcasing best musical scores, and my personal favourite, Ben Stiller coming on stage acting and speaking as an Avatar, as well as the ode to best Horror Films! I liked as usual how they gave good edited shorts of nominated movies, tribute to those who have changed film as we know it and also respect and honor for those who have passed on. The animated shorts coming to life for the Academies is always adorable, and the ever delightful and amusing Steve Martin and witty Alec Baldwin was something to see as well. My most touching moment though would have to be the directors and writers of short films that continued on to make future feature length films montage which inspired me a great deal, because they said things like, you've got to get your work out there, and that you should believe in your dreams. A dear friend gave me a lovely plaque last week as a gift that read, 'If you Dream it, you can achieve it'; a moving message that we all should ingest.

My disappointments, The Hurt Locker… For those of you that have read my previous blog on Avatar vs. The Hurt Locker, in the February month, can understand my discontent with this movie, winning over Avatar. Don't get me wrong; I respect Kathryn Bigelow, as a woman, as a director, and as a first time winner of Best Female Director, that is undoubtedly groundbreaking, and quite a feat. But because of my love for Avatar and knowing the tremendous amount of work put into it and its powerful message, I feel saddened.

One of the people in the group that watched the Academies with me said that he was happy Avatar didn't win Best Picture because he thought it was like Disney's Pocahontas. Another said that Avatar was all about the white man winning and saving the day. One fell asleep during it and one said they identified more with The Hurt Locker because the main character had more of a weight on his shoulder with having a family to survive and provide for back at home. How can someone be so dismissive and brutal to say such a nasty things when they don't care about the efforts and overall messages of films? Yea sure, it's great to give your point of view, it certainly counts, but James Cameron and his team took 10 years to make that movie.

This is where it gets tricky because people will not like what I have to say. Firstly, you cannot put Avatar in the same category as Pocahontas. So what if the story of Avatar has been told several times before, it's a story, and it was executed in an entirely unique, stunning and entertaining way. Even though the actors were computer generated, didn't mean that their performances weren't anything but marvelous and whether people want to admit it or not, Avatar IS the most grossed movie at the box-office to date! The Hurt Locker's story has also been told so many times before. It was also told with remarkable cinematography, gritty images and stupendous acting, but really how can you even compare the two.

Avatar shows reality of the ravages of war, of how first world countries or countries like America become greedy and because of their selfish rationales totally devastate communities and societies. The Hurt Locker tells a story of again powerful countries like America supposedly saving an already desolate land from religious fanatics, but still have underhanded motives for being there and in the process of doing good (disarming bombs); still treat it's native people disrespectfully with their arrogance and demolish communities as well.

Both movies done with incredible cinematography, but one done by a female director in harsh conditions, directing a cast of only men, and the other Avatar by a male director, to both male and female actors, as well with a team of technical experts. One for tree-huggers and those who understand the importance of universal peace, the other for people that like to pretend to be a patriot, and try to solve problems, when they still blow things up. The Hurt Locker film giving a feel of grittiness and reality, and Avatar, a journey of enormous beauty and truth.

Let's not forget the other lovely films also nominated. Precious, had phenomenal acting and story, I was quite pleased Mo'Nique won Best Supporting Actress, but truly very gloomy that Gabourney Sidibe didn't get to even hop on stage to hand out an award. She only sat quietly and shed tears from her seat, when truly her performance was astounding. Up in the Air, was an emotional ride for me, only because it reminds me so much of my current life as a flight attendant. It was a story well told. Sandra Bullock winning Best Actress for The Blind Side, very surprised at that. I mean, anyone can play a rich person saving a poor one, I thought that her acting was much better in Crash. Up, the animated film, I loved from the first moment I saw it, it wasn't just for children but actually a very adult story with a twist; a man finding his dream of adventure with the help of young enthusiasm. Invictus, not necessarily my favourite, but Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon always showcase superb acting skills, and a great twist on a story that must be told. My preferred choice, after Avatar though, were The Lovely Bones and Moon, those were the most thrilling and thought-provoking for me.

Why am I so passionate about these films and award shows in general? Because I have worked behind the scenes in films, and for anyone who has done grips, or lights or those who run behind the scenes in extreme weather and has put in blood, sweat, tears and most importantly time into a project can tell you how I feel. For people to judge without realizing the amount of effort people put into a project is quite poor conduct to say the least. I myself hope to win awards one day and these people who win, the writers, directors, actors and all the people who work behind the scenes are people I ought to learn from.

Yes, it does hurt me that James Cameron didn't win Best Picture or Director, but his message and story is put out there hopefully inspiring positive change, and that is the most important thing. All in all those films were nominated because they were the best, and they deserved to be there. I'm really proud of all the people behind the scenes that work together as a team and develop something mind blowingly enjoyable. And for the fans, every point of view is an important one, whether it be American, or foreigner because guess what? You've got to see the BIGGER picture; it's about humans telling a story. We're all connected; sooner or later you'll figure it out. This is what makes great film and by George, I hope they keep making things for us to debate, learn and talk about J

My pledge, for next year's academy awards, get my own tele' to watch it in the quiet comfort of my own home! ;)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Maui Sunrise

Here I am in Maui...again alone. The sunrise is beautiful, the weather warm, and I think of belly-dancing on the beach...or perhaps just roll on the sand with a good book. I miss my family. When I dream, all I see now are them. Can't wait till August :))

- Jair

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shutter Island

Leonardo DiCaprio captivated all women's hearts for the most part in Titanic. Outstanding acting alongside Kate Winslet and incredible boyish charm; his career continued to grow after that film, and he is now a household name in film. His name will never be forgotten and he can date any Victoria Secret model he wants.

From the previews of Shutter Island, I was sure that this one would be a thriller. And yes, there were a couple thrilling parts. Did anyone scream? Absolutely not. Did anyone squirm and wiggle in their seats? Yes!

The director Martin Scorcese successfully was able to evoke different emotions in this film. Acting by Leo, tremendous as always; he truly became the character. Delightful sidekick Mark Ruffalo was just as good. They truly committed to their characters and made each moment believable.

The soundtrack was wonderful, it was reminiscent of Jaws. For me, it seemed to be a cross between One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Others. I really liked the content and the combination they opted to use, good actors, including Sir Ben Kingsley whom I always enjoy seeing. I felt as though, after seeing this once, like The Others, I would never want to see it again, because the plot once found out, you couldn't enjoy it multiple times afterward.

I felt also that there were too many flashbacks, I'd rather them do them all in one-go. It was becoming too unwieldy and drawn out towards the end. I certainly do commend Martin Scorcese, Laeta Kalogridis, writer of the novel Dennis Lehane, and all the actors in the film, but will it make my list of must-see or most captivating films? Unfortunately not.

Would it stand beside other Holocaust classics like Shindler's List or Life is Beautiful? Regrettably no, because there were too many things going on, and Michelle Williams, as cute as a button as she is, kept 'butting in' too frequently between scenes.

The Wolfman

I had been dying to see The Wolfman, starring Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, weeks before it was due out in theaters. Two great actors set in haunting and historic England and then about werewolves; this sounded like a good recipe for a frightful and exciting night.

Unfortunately, I didn't jolt or jump, not even once! My heart didn't race, my palms weren't sweaty, and I didn't anger, because nobody screamed! What were Joe Johnston, Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self thinking when they had such an excellent cast and idea on their side? I admit, I don't scare easily, I could watch a scary movie, by myself, at midnight, in the middle of a foggy cemetery! However, to this day, when I watch The Shining, or Pet Cemetery, something still stirs inside me!

There were so many things wrong with this movie; sad to say, because these are 2 beloved actors of mine but wretchedly it was a tremendous disappointment.

Firstly, there wasn't enough back-story, flash-backs are all well and good, but to truly have your audience commit and believe in something as werewolves, it always calls for thorough research and complete investment in wheedling into your audience's mind. Secondly, the casting was dreadful! Seriously, how can Anthony Hopkins be the father of Benicio del Toro? Why was Emily Blunt even there? And those gypsies, they looked as if they all had a bad spray-on tan. Thirdly, as much as I love Benicio's acting, it was substandard of him to be the only one in the film, not even attempting to speak in a British accent. Yes, what we did get from the little back-story shared was that he spent some time in America. Many foreigners have spent time in America, but we certainly haven't lost our entire native accent!

On a lighter note, the soundtrack was traditional for this type of film, and the cinematography was charming. Acting by Anthony Hopkins was superb as always, and also by the detective played by Hugo Weaving. Good date movie? Not! Film I'd want to watch to get a good laugh? Maybe!

On Love

To all my sunflowers out there, whose petals are closing in or falling off; know that very soon the sun will return, therefore even at night, even when it is darkest, let your beauty shine through. Don't stop being you, spread those yellow petals wide, and say, "Here I stand, smell my lovely fragrance, know that my name is SUNFLOWER!" Be true to yourself. For without the hurt, we would not learn our lessons, and if you didn't learn something, guess what? You're also a teacher, because that other person will learn something, your light will shine in them….always! Tou jours Aimer!

Some words 'On Love' by one of my favourite authors, Kahlil Gibran:

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said: When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God." And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worth, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

And here's another one that most of us have heard at some point before; but never ever listens truly to what it says. This is what true love is:

Love is patient,

Love is kind.

It does not envy,

It does not boast,

It is not proud.

It is not rude,

It is not self-seeking,

It is not easily angered,

It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth.

It always protects,

Always trusts,

Always hopes,

Always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7