Tuesday, April 22

Ginny, Sidney and the Olfactory Afternoon Delight (Or choose a topping)

© 2014 Rob Castro

Sidney:  Hmmm  I can smell the organic garlic in your hair.
Ginny:  Shut up.  Can't you tell that I haven't shampooed in weeks?
Sidney: Oh, is that why you are wearing that silly hat?
Ginny:  You mean this one?  I found it at the Asian food mart.  They were using it to measure the jasmine rice.
Sidney:  Hmmm jasmine rice.

Monday, April 21

Easter at Chino Hills

This was our Easter lunch menu: grilled flank steak, flat bread, and mango/strawberry salad.  We had Tenuta del Fant's moscato d'asti wine as a starter, followed by Louis M Martini's cabernet sauvignon to wash down the meat.  Well, that's the order of Rose's drinking; I may have drank it the other way or done some combination gulps of asti and cabernet.  No dessert so in search of sweets, we ended up eating a chunk of the chocolate bar we bought from Avila, Spain which was intended for hot chocolate drinks.  Weather is warm now so the chocolate was better eaten as dessert instead of being drank as a hot drink.  Trying top it, I smoked a Cuban Trinidad corona, which had burn issues.  As Keith Richards once said in his Whiskey-infused cockney accent, "ya c'aint aw-ways git wot ya wont-uh." But overall, we had a good lunch and two good sermons on the resurrection for the day.  It was indeed a blessed Easter day.  Hope yours was too.

Tuesday, April 15

© 2014 Rob Castro

New York is expensive, but that is to be expected.  Here is a run down of some of the things I incurred:
  • Two glasses of mediocre Red Beaujolais  $32
  • Two tiny Lobster Sandwiches from Fort Greene Park $32
  • Two marginally sized Rib Sliders served on paper plates from Fort Greene Park $18
  • Brunch bill after waiting for 45 minutes to get served  $120
  • Four cocktails at Village Vanguard bar without real choices to drink $70 
  • Two "cheapest" bottles of red wine at Costco $25
  • One way train fare from Great Neck to Penn Station $11 per person (peak hours)
  • One toothbrush $2.99
Trader Joe's doesn't even have wines let alone Two dollar Forty Nine Buck ($2.49) 
Chucks.  They do have beer.  I guess beer is not considered alcoholic beverages.  I didn't buy any.

But there are cheap deals too.  For instance:
  • One used Army Jacket circa WWII $ 22 (haggled from $55 at Fort Greene Park)
  • Bic lighter $0.99 (at Korean Pharmacy store)
  • Travel size toothpaste $1.25 (They priced this at a bargain deal so you don't have to use a toothbrush. Also at Korean Pharmacy store.)
Average prices for most part:
  • One small can of Pellegrino $2 
  • One time use of subway ticket $2.75 (if you need a new card.  $2.50 for refill.)
Some are free:
  • Board and lodging at uppity Great Neck, Long Island ($0)
  • Use of printer and lap top computer ($0)
  • Wi-fi ($0)
  • Stamps and mail service ($0)
  • Ride to get to train station ($0)
  • Tickets to watch New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Avery Hall, Lincoln Center ($0.  Daughter paid them.)
  • Tickets to watch Kenny Baron Jazz Group at Village Vanguard (0$.  Daughter also paid them.  Haha.)
  • Entrance to flea market at Fort Greene Park ($0)
  • Nice weather ($0)
  • Suntan ($0)
  • Allergies to spring pollen ($0)
  • Airport shuttle to and fro ($0)
  • Spending time with daughter
  • Getting lost in the subway
  • Late night talks with host friend 
  • Traveling with spouse all the time

Monday, April 7

The State of the Art is Smelly

© 2014 Rob Castro

Rob:  It is interesting to note that man - being made in the image of God -  has the capacity to create.   Whether it’s music, visual art, or architecture,  Man has the mental and physical ability to create and put things together and call these things whatever he wants. 

Juzno:  Ah, yes.  Creativity is one of those attributes that distinguishes Man from other creatures.

Rob:  Yet art is marginalized both by Christians and the secular world.  Why is that? 

Juzno:   I think Art is marginalized because of people’s flawed understanding of art.   Art is seen either just a hobby, an entertainment  or even a matter of personal preference.

Rob:   Yet art permeates  culture.

Juzno:  Yes, art is everywhere – in magazine ads, billboards, in clothing, television, music.

Rob:    Since this is the case, shouldn’t we be concerned about what art is doing to culture?

Juzno:  We should be.  But we don't.


Saturday, April 5

Making Sense of 7-1/2 Street

© 2014 Rob Castro

Art is a medium to communicate to the viewer a selective reality based on the artist’s observation or perception – this is what the artist sees, and understanding of reality – this is what the artist knows.

Sunday, March 30

Getting Directions in Madrid

In Madrid, there are no street signs.  At least, none that I saw.  Local people must knew the place real well.  But their sense of directing tourists is atrocious.  I have already asked three people how to get to the restroom and I couldn't get a straight answer.  This was the fourth one:

Juzno:  Pardonme, senor.  Por favor.  Donde esta bano?

Rico the Bullfighter:  You must be a tourist.  No esta bano en Madrid para publico.  People take baths in their own homes.

Juzno:  No, you don't understand.  I need to go.

Rico the Bullfighter:  Ah, you must mean the aseos, si?

Juzno: Si, si.

Rico the Bullfighter:  In that case, go straight and make a right on the first corner and then make another right.

Juzno:  The toilet is there?

Rico the Bullfighter:  No, there you will find someone where you can ask where the toilet is.

[More stories to come.]


Viktor at Grand Central Market

Viktor:  You talking to me?

Juzno:  I would like to take your picture.

Viktor:  Why?

Juzno:  I am going to be the next Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Viktor:  Who is he?

Juzno:  Why?

Viktor:  Why you ask why?

Juzno:  Bye.

Saturday, March 29

A Night at Madrid

This is at Huertas in Madrid - a stone's throw away from Museo del Prado. Huerstas is cool at night. Everywhere you go is a Tapas Bar, left right front and back. One of the guys at the bar enticed me to watched a Flamenco show. He said that his bar is the oldest one to have shown Flamenco dancing. He was obviously not a very good liar.

I really loved Spain. A lot of history and very laid back. The Spaniards are lazy and they take siesta from 2pm to 5 pm. So the stores are close around that time. One would be fortunate to find an open restaurant. But it's nice place. The city becomes alive after 9pm. This is fiesta time. People including kids sleep 6 hours at the most.  

The weather was gorgeous when I was there. Our last day was in Madrid and our tour group - all 50 of us - got entangled with the demonstrators at the city while on the way to our farewell dinner. At the end, there were tear gas and rubber bullets flying. Quite exciting.

More stories to come.

Tuesday, March 4

Pete the Elder

The great Magnum photographer Elliot Erwitt once said that it is better to shoot an iconic picture rather than a good but boring one. I certainly would not call this image iconic – although in a few years maybe it will – only time will tell. A boring picture? But that is subjective.

I am almost sure that Pete would not like this photo.  But that would be his own opinion.  In any case, it doesn't matter to me.  Because I like it.

I was pleasantly surprised by the result. I thought that the lighting was bad as it was mostly florescent predominantly coming from the top but I think the warm backlighting helped. The classic Nikkor 50mm from my Rose's vintage Nikon FE may have contributed to the wow factor. Despite using a crappy 8 mp Canon Rebel XT, the combination of the lens and the camera as appointed by providence all contributed to this shot.

© 2013, 2014 Rob Castro
Reworked from February 13, 2013 post