Contest: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I don’t hide the fact that I love the Harry Potter series. My brother… well, he’s not so open about it.

Still, we’ve been talking about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for a while. Last November, we bemoaned the fact that we’d have to wait until July for the release of the penultimate movie in the series. We kept ourselves entertained with flashy trailers. As the July 15th, we’re making plans for opening night. We’ll definitely catch a midnight showing, but still need to decide if we’ll upgrade to IMAX or IMAX 3D.

If you can’t wait until the 15th, you might be in luck! I have three pairs of tickets for screenings in the following cities:
New York, Monday July 13, 6:30 pm
Los Angeles, Monday July 13, 6:30 pm
Miami , Monday July 13, 6:30 pm

To enter:

  1. EMAIL ME with the subject line “Harry Potter Contest.” In the body of your email, include your name, phone number and which city you’re entering for: Los Angeles, New York or Miami. [contact page]
  2. Email entries must be received by Monday July 6th at 11:59 pm PST.
  3. Only one entry per person.

See HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE in theatres everywhere on Wednesday, July 15!

© 2009 Warner Bros. Ent.
Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R.

Harry Potter characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved.


Café Tacuba | 20:20

In the middle of Wednesday night’s Café Tacuba concert at the Gibson Amphitheatre, Lori turns to me and asks, “What is this, like your fourth or fifth time seeing them?”

“Ugh, no. 12th, I think.”

The show was part of Café Tacuba’s 20:20 tour, or 20 cities to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

The tickets said 8:15 and we arrived at 8:20. The lights were already off and the audience was screaming in excitement. Lori and I rushed to the pit and took our place on the right side.

For the next three hours Rubén, Meme, Quique and Joselo (plus Luis, their drummer) played songs from all of their albums.

Lori and I danced and jumped and sang along (me more than her, given that she doesn’t know their music too well). We got excited when we spotted our cousin, Rene, and his friend Edgar in the seats just behind the pit. Our legs and backs were hurting at the end of the show. Lori had never seen their dances to “Déjate Caer,” “El Baile y el Salón” and “El Puñal” — I’d never seen that one either — and was pretty amused.

By the end of the show, we were tired. From all the dancing and jumping. Still, I was satisfied. I got my Café Tacuba concert fix for the summer.

Highlight: The climax of the show definitely came when Alejandro Flores, “el quinto tacubo,” stepped out to join the band on violin for “Ojalá Que Llueva Café.” Before that he played a son jarocho song (name escapes me) and after “Ojalá” he stuck around and played equinto and violin on a few songs from Re. The addition of Flores really emphasized how good Café Tacuba is at crossing genres.

I also loved the fact that they played so many songs they rarely play live. I’m pretty sure I’d never heard “El Espacio” live. I’ve complained that they can be a little predictable in their live shows, but not this time around. They went from playing a good chunk of Cafe Tacuba to skipping to some songs from Sino.

Finally, I liked that Rubén was quite talkative. I would talk more if I was him, that guy jumps around the stage a lot. I also thought it was cool that he handed the mic to a guy after “El Puñal” at the “end” of the show. The guy proceeded to ask his girlfriend to marry him. I think he should have said “y yo te di mi amor en un concierto de Café Tacuba” before popping the question. That would’ve been cool.

Lowlight: None, really. I mean, I would have liked to have a seat once in a while.

As usual, I wrote down the setlist and took lots of photos.

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I must be dreaming, can’t be real…


On my way to work I was listening to The Sound of Young America podcast. There was a comic (name forgotten) talking about celebrity/celebutantes being a creation of the US government. Stolen election in Iran? Send in a celebrity to do something gawk-worthy and distract the national consciousness. I laughed at the concept, and then thought, I don’t even follow celebrity gossip.

Hah. A few hours later, the news started to pour in via Facebook and Twitter. Michael Jackson was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center. Can’t you hear the helicopters?

Yeah, there was no mistaking the noise. I clicked refresh a lot of times and talked to my co-worker who had just returned from lunch. He said he saw the ambulance rushing up Westwood Blvd followed by black Escalades. The SUVs were driving wildly, “with no regard for human life,” and almost hit someone. He said, “wow, someone important must be in there.”

I left work a little after the LA Times confirmed TMZ’s statement that he had died. I wasn’t getting any work done anyway. I walked down by the hospital on my way to the bus stop. It seemed that there were as many people with cameras and microphones as those just wanting to talk about their affinity for MJ and his music. I took a few photos and then went home, listening to Bad, Off the Wall and Thriller.

The rest of the day has been reading reactions, listening to his music, watching videos and reflecting.

I remember:

How much I loved Captain EO at Disneyland. It’s much better than what they currently have there.

Being jealous that my brother and cousin both had Beat It t-shirts.

Making my mom play the We Are the World record again and again. I also loved just looking at the cover.

Doing the “Thriller” dance with the UCLA band during our Halloween halftime show at the Rose Bowl in 1998.

The videos. For a brief period we had cable at home. I remember the “Man in the Mirror” video the most.

Most of all though, I think of the fact that my consciousness of pop music began with Michael Jackson (and the Beatles).

RIP, Michael.


Romeo y Dandy

When I was six* mom and dad told us that our beloved Collie, Romeo, ran away to be with his girlfriend, Juliet. I believed them.

It made sense. Romeo was always getting out. Someone, probably me or Danny, would leave the garage door open and he’d run out from the backyard, through the garage, down the driveway and out onto our calm suburban street. Dad stopped what he was doing and gave chase. He had to catch Romeo before he got hit.

He got hit once. They took him to the animal hosptial. After that, he didn’t come home. That’s when mom and dad concocted the story.

I believed this well into my teens. Yes, it took me that long to figure it out.


I don’t remember ever playing with Romeo. There are no photos of him in the many albums and shoe boxes full of family photos. However, there are some photos of Dandy, Papá Chepe’s collie. I believe he was Romeo’s father. Some of his other offspring had been sent to live with my tío Beto (Queenie) and my tío Chuy.

Tío Beto sent me those photos recently. In them, the cousins, Danny and I are playfully petting Dandy at Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni’s former Boyle Heights home. I remember going on walks with Papá Chepe and Dandy around the neighborhood. I don’t know what happened to Dandy. I imagined he died of old age. Now Papá Chepe babies VR, our Chihuahua mix, just like the rest of the family. He also takes him for walks. The only difference? Papá Chepe now carries a cane and moves much slower.

* Or seven or eight, the age is not really important.


It’s mid-June already?

A friend told me to update my blog. I hope a bullet point entry is okay.

  • I was really happy to see the Lakers win their 15th NBA championship. I’m happy to see two former Bruins, Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar, win a championship. And of course I’m happy for the veterans like Phil “X” Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher (swoon!). For the record, I celebrated peacefully.
  • I finally went to my first Dodger game of the season. I tend to avoid Chavez Ravine due to the parking costs. However, during their series against the Oakland A’s (first one since the ’88 World Series), parking is free. I caught a game with my friend Alfred and his family. Now that summer is here, I plan to catch more games. There’s really no better way to spend a summer evening than at the Dodger Stadium (the Hollywood Bowl and bonfires come in a close second and are on the plans for this weekend).
  • I wrote my last letter to the UCLA Chancellor a few weeks ago. In it, I included recommendations from my committee — made up of students, staff and faculty — on how to spend a lot of money. I’m pretty sure my term as chair of that committee will be my last student leadership position. It was quite the positive experience and I’m happy I had the opportunity to serve students on that committee.
  • Speaking of being a student, I really need to get back on track. I couldn’t sleep a few nights ago as I thought of how I was going to fund my 6th year.
  • I went to MEChA’s 40th anniversary dinner and after party a few weeks ago. I got to see old friends and fellow MEChistas. The event was nice and both bittersweet. It really solidified how much things have changed since I graduated seven years ago.
  • Speaking of graduations, I celebrated my cousin’s graduations last week. The three sisters timed their graduations perfectly. Valerie graduated from 8th grade with a 4.0 GPA. Vanny graduated with her AA and is currently a student at Cal Poly Pomona (along with my sister). Nancy completed her bachelor’s in social work. I’m proud of my cousins.
  • I skipped out on the Education school graduation. I felt bad about missing the event considering some close friends who entered with me (or the year after) were graduating. Still, I think the event would have made feel worse as it would reinforce my own educational “lurch” (read Dr Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and feelings of being left behind.
  • Family is starting to tell me I (a) look more like my mom now and (b) look more like my sister. I think the latter is due to the fact that Lori did my makeup that evening.
  • My dad recently had knee surgery. He’s hobbling around the house on crutches, but generally doing well.
  • When I’m with the boyfriend, I feel quite lucky.

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I used to write late at night, now I go to the gym late at night.