In praise of San Judas Tadeo- patron saint of hopeless cases

28 Oct

San Judas Tadeo celebrates a feast day today, October 28th.

There is a select bunch of us, quite a large group around the world, devotees of this particular saint of the Catholic faith, for whom this is a very important day.

St. Jude Thaddeus is the patron saint of hopeless cases, casos díficiles y desesperados. I know that sounds a little extreme, but when you need something to hold on to, his prayer is quite useful. I especially like his prayer because it always brings a sense of peace, even though you may be going through a tough time. Está muy bonita la oración, like my abuelita says.

On occasion, I go to Saint Victor’s Church in West Hollywood, where they pray a novena to St. Jude every Monday night, and where he has a nice following. I’ve added the prayer they have close to the altar, in the images below.

By the way, did you know that the organization Saint Jude and Saint Jude Research Hospital, which helps kids with cancer, was founded by Danny Thomas? Back when he was starting out in the 1940′s, then a struggling actor, Danny Thomas (Marlo Thomas’ father) was a devout Catholic who used to pray to the saint asking to get a big break in showbiz. He almost gave up on trying to make it in the entertainment business, but made a promise to Saint Jude that if he ever made it big, he would repay him in a way where people would always remember Saint Jude. Mr. Thomas prayed, “help me find a way in life, and I will build you a shrine.” Long story short, he finally did make it big in showbiz, and as he promised, he founded the organization which helps so many families today. “Be thankful for the healthy kids in your life…” as they say in their advertisement. (Little bit of trivia there, my friends.)

So if you’re ever going through a problem or tribulation, or if you just plain need a miracle, don’t hesitate in asking St. Jude Thaddeus to intercede for you and remember to keep the faith. Faith is a wonderful thing.

Here is the prayer to St. Jude from Saint Victor's Catholic Church in West Hollywood.

Here is the prayer to St. Jude from Saint Victor’s Catholic Church in West Hollywood. (Photo via iPhone)

Lit a little candle today.

Lit a little candle today.

Mi San Judas Tadeo de cabecera, siempre en mi casa. (Photo del iPhone)

Mi San Judas Tadeo de cabecera, siempre en mi casa. (Photo del iPhone)

Todas las mañanas me tomo mi cafecito con San Judas Tadeo.

Todas las mañanas me tomo mi cafecito con San Judas Tadeo.

Loving the Early Beatles Photos @Leica Store

19 Oct

Long live The Beatles!

Who doesn’t love The Beatles? They are ageless, timeless, wonderful, beautiful, and after all these years (50+) they are still lo máximo.

Beatlemania took off in 1963 in the US, and it has never really left us. By the way, Sir Paul just released a new album this week, titled NEW, and he sounds really, really happy. You need to hear it.

I stumbled upon an amazing photo exhibit at the recently inaugurated Leica Camera Store in West Hollywood, and had a chance to admire an exhibit by Astrid Kirchherr. She was only 22 when she started following around and photographing The Beatles, before they became famous. Most of her images were shot with a Leica, which she borrowed from a friend. The story is amazing. Here’s an excerpt from the exhibit notes:

At age 22 Astrid Kirchherr, a fashion and art school graduate, accompanied her bohemian friends to the Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg, Germany, to hear some new rock and roll played by a young group of musicians from Liverpool, England. Kirchherr was overwhelmed by what she saw and what she heard.

“It was like a merry go round in my head. They looked absolutely astonishing…My whole life changed in a couple of minutes. All I wanted was to be with them and to know them.”- Astrid Kirchherr.

The images were on sale, so you could definitely own a piece of Beatles history if you’re in the market for some cool artwork.

By the way, who is your favorite Beatle? I think for me it’s John…maybe Paul, sometimes George, but Ringo is the coolest.

Here are a few pictures from the exhibit, which I’m sorry to say is ending on Sunday Oct. 20. But if you’re in LA, the Leica store is a beautiful place, with an almost museum like quality and a fantastic gallery on the second floor. It’s definitely worth a visit.

The Leica Store in West Hollywood opened recently and is a must visit for photographers.

The Leica Store in West Hollywood opened recently and is a must visit for photographers.

Exhibit wall on the first floor.

Exhibit wall on the first floor.

A girl and her (borrowed) Leica, Astrid Kirchherr when she began taking pictures of The Beatles in the early 1960's.

A girl and her (borrowed) Leica, Astrid Kirchherr when she began taking pictures of The Beatles in the early 1960′s.

Collection of photos on view and for sale.

Collection of photos on view and for sale.

Another angle of the exhibit.

Another angle of the exhibit.

A very young John Lennon.

A very young John Lennon.

John and Ringo on the train.

John and Ringo on the train.

George Harrison, "the quiet" Beatle.

George Harrison, “the quiet” Beatle.

Paul McCartney.

Paul McCartney.

Those eyes. Paul McCartney.

Those eyes. Paul McCartney.

A pensive John Lennon.

A pensive John Lennon.

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr

Early, early Beatle years. John and Paul (insert from larger pic.)

Early, early Beatle years. John and Paul (insert from larger pic.)

The original Beatles, before they were the Fab Four.

The original Beatles, before they were the Fab Four.

Fell in live with this M camera from Leica. It'll set me back about 13K bucks. But it's on my wish list, on my vision board and desktop screensaver. I DECLARE I will own this Leica in my lifetime. He dicho.

The amazing staff at Leica lets you play with the cameras. I fell in love with this M camera model. It’ll set me back about 13K bucks. But it’s already on my wish list, on my vision board and desktop screensaver. I DECLARE I will own this Leica in my lifetime. He dicho.

Día de los Muertos is almost here

9 Oct

Lest you forget, Día de los Muertos (November 2) is coming up in a few weeks and it’s great to see how people are getting just as excited about it as Halloween. It’s a trend we’ve been noticing here in LA for the last few years.

El otro día as I was walking down the halls of South Coast Plaza, one of the nicest malls in Southern California with a very selective crowd in a very upscale zip code, I was surprised to find a window display lleno de Dia de los Muertos decorations. Very cool!

Paper Source is the store that had these decorations and they had a few options for your altar de muertos and for your disfraz, in case you’re thinking of dressing up as a Calaca.

I had also posted something about this last year and in 2011, if you’re looking for more ideas.

Paper "calaveras" on the window display at Paper Source in South Coast Plaza.

Paper “calaveras” on the window display at Paper Source in South Coast Plaza.

Right as you enter the store, here is the display with Dia de los Muertos decor.

The display with Dia de los Muertos decor is right by the entrance to the store.

En caso de que no tengas quien te pinte, these face stencils seem like a good alternative to the face painting.

En caso de que no tengas quien te pinte, these face stencils seem like a good alternative to the face painting.

Unos vasitos de calacas para tu altar.

Unos vasitos de calacas para tu altar.

Waiting for Gravity, the new film by Alfonso Cuarón

3 Oct

The number one reason why Fall Season is my favorite season of the year is movies. This year the list is long and very interesting, but there is one movie in particular that has caught my attention.

“Gravity” is a new film opening on Friday, October 4th, by one of my favorite movie directors, Alfonso Cuarón. It stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, so just by reading the cast I’m already in.

I’ve heard great reviews all over the place (like this one from Joe Morgenstern at the WSJ) and the theme is intriguing: imagine being lost and floating in space and trying to get back to earth without anything to hold on to. Claro que a mucha gente ya le pasa, some people are so despistados that they seem lost in space even while they are walking the earth, tanto que you don’t know what hit them… but I digress.

Here is the trailer so you get an idea. Pero, ¡AGARRÉNSE!

 

I was especially surprised to learn that in this film, Mr. Cuarón worked with his son Jonás co-writing the screenplay. OMG. Who knew he had a son that was so grown up? Last Sunday the LA Times had a great article about their working relationship, which you can read here. Making movies is typically a family affair for Alfonso Cuarón, who had already worked with his brother Carlos before, most notably in “Y Tu Mamá También” which was nominated for several Oscars.

If you grew up in México in the 1980′s, you remember “Sólo Con Tu Pareja,” the first película mexicana you went to see at the movie theater that was actually good, funny and well made. It was written, produced and directed by Mr. Cuarón and it became a big hit. This was a movie en español unlike anything we had seen before, with young and socially affluent people in Mexico City in a comedy of errors.  The story, the actors were all different from all the churros and B-stuff  produced in Mexico, things you had no intention of ever seeing. The Mexican Film Industry was  in shambles in the late 1980′s, and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Sólo Con Tu Pareja” changed all that. 

So you can bet I’m going to go see this one at the IMAX theater, getting my supersize popcorn and fastening my seat belt.

Just by looking at the trailer I’m extremely concerned and flying by the seat of my pants for Sandra Bullock. ¡Pobrecita! How can she survive? But if anyone is going to rescue her in outer space, it might as well be our favorite hunk, el George Clooney. Go George! Tú puedes, corazón. I wouldn’t mind being lost in a galaxy far, far away if I was lost with you, baby.

The nice people over at Warner Brothers sent us a few pix of the premiere this week in New York. I thought you’d enjoy them as much as I did. 

Let’s go see Gravity and hope they make it. As Cantinflas said in one of his movies,  “La gravedad, señores…¡depende del trancazo!”

(Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I just love good movies and talented filmmakers.)

New York, New York - 10/01/2013 - Warner Bros. Picture News Presents The New York Premiere of "Gravity". The Film stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and was directed by Alfonso Cuaron .

New York, New York – 10/01/2013 – Warner Bros. Picture News Presents The New York Premiere of “Gravity”. The Film stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and was directed by Alfonso Cuaron . Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

-PICTURED: Jonas Cuaron,George Clooney,Sandra Bullock,Alfonso Cuaron,David Heyman  -PHOTO by: Dave Allocca/Startraksphoto.com

Jonas Cuaron,George Clooney,Sandra Bullock,Alfonso Cuaron,David Heyman
-PHOTO by: Dave Allocca/Startraksphoto.com- Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

There is chemistry here. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock greet each other at the premiere of Gravity in New York. Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

There is chemistry here. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock greet each other at the premiere of Gravity in New York. Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers.

Oh hey...it's George Clooney. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers.

Oh hey…it’s George Clooney. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers.

From the LA Times article last Sunday, father and son Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón, co-writers of Gravity.

From the LA Times article last Sunday, like father, like son: Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón.

Cooking with Bricia Lopez al estilo Guelaguetza @Macys

1 Oct
Bricia Lopez presented recipes from Guelaguetza Restaurant and inspired us to eat more comida oaxaqueña.

Bricia Lopez presented recipes from Guelaguetza Restaurant and inspired us to eat more comida oaxaqueña.

Do you love comida oaxaqueña? I do. The more I learn about Oaxaca, a beautiful state in México, the more I want to visit again.

Last Saturday, the lovely ladies from Macy’s Special Events hosted Bricia Lopez at their Macy’s Home Store in South Coast Plaza for a cooking demo. We learned 3 new recipes inspired by the famous Guelaguetza Restaurant owned by Bricia’s family in Los Angeles.

A nice crowd, mostly English speaking, turned out for the event, and we were all delighted with the dishes Bricia presented and taught us how to make.

A very attentive crowd showed up at Macy's Home Store, South Coast Plaza.

A very attentive crowd showed up at Macy’s Home Store, South Coast Plaza.

We had Red Mole-Black Bean Soup, Chileajo Tostadas, and Jamaica Mint Lemonade.  Se me hace agua la boca just by typing. Everything was delicious.  

Preparing the Red Mole-Black Bean Soup.

Preparing the Red Mole-Black Bean Soup.

Thank you Bricia and Macy’s for the recipes and the great event. Ya compré mis dos moles para aventarme unas recetas. 

And from what I heard from some of the people attending, yo creo que ya tenemos mas converts to authentic Mexican food en el OC, even if they have to travel up the 405 North to get to LA and find it. Mole is an exciting thing and definitely worth a trip to Guelaguetza. I’m glad people are expanding their horizons beyond the typical commercial stuff and willing to give it a try.

(DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post, nor have I been compensated in any way, shape or form for my opinion by anyone mentioned here. I just happen to rave about the things/events that I love, especially if it involves good food.)

Next up, A Taste of Mexico, where Guelaguetza and many other Mexican restaurants will feature their cuisine for the ever expanding Angeleno fan base de la comida mexicana. It’s happening October 11 at La Plazita de la Cultura y Artes. You can find more info here on their website: A Taste of Mexico.

Can't wait to try out my Moles: Mole Negro y Mole Rojo from Guelaguetza.

Can’t wait to try out my Moles: Mole Negro y Mole Rojo from Guelaguetza.

I’m including  the recipe for the Red Mole Black Bean Soup, from Restaurante Guelaguetza. You can purchase their moles (several varieties) and visit their website at www.iLoveMole.com.

Red Mole- Black Bean Soup (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons grape seed or corn oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Guelaguetza Mole Rojo paste
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Mexican sour cream
  • 1 tablesspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Tortilla strips (for garnish, optional)

Directions: In a medium bowl, stir in Guelaguetza Mole Rojo paste, apple cider vinegar, and about a 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Stir with a spatula until the mole paste has fully dissolved. Reserve.

In a medium pot, put oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until fragrant, about a minute or two.

Stir in Guelaguetza Mole Rojo mix, vegetable broth, black beans and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high. Once the soup has come to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.

While the soup cooks, combine sour cream, coriander, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Reserve for garnish.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and about 1 tablespoon of cold water, stir to combine.  After the soup has cooked for about 15 minutes, transfer 2 cups of it to  blender and add the cornstarch mixture. Puree until smooth. Return to pot. Cook, stirring until soup thickens, about 2 minutes.

Serve in bowls and garnish with the Coriander Crema. Top with tortilla strips if desired. ¡Provecho!

BRICIALOPEZ1

Visiting Gabriel Figueroa @LACMA

28 Sep

Mexico has a long history of amazing cinematographers, but none is more beautiful nor visually eloquent as Gabriel Figueroa.

Gabriel Figueroa was a master of light and shadows, one of the most prolific Mexican cinematographers who shot the films that are representative of the Epoca de Oro del Cine Mexicano. He worked with the most famous directors and actors of his day and helped create a collective image of a time and place in Mexico that existed mostly in black and white. And the remarkable thing is he did it with a film camera, a light meter, and film negatives. Remember those? There weren’t any computers, no Photoshop nor digital tools back in the 1940′s. 

LACMA recently opened a new exhibit featuring his work and influence. “Under the Mexican Sky-Gabriel Figueroa: Art and Film” is a joint project between LACMA, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Televisa, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and Conaculta. I’m glad all these organizations got together to make this happen because there aren’t usually many exhibits dedicated to cinematography. This is a real treat.

As you walk through the hall you see montages on large screens of his films with the directors El “Indio” Fernandez and Luis Buñuel. What struck me most was how much a single image, a still frame of a moving shot, could be a stand alone piece of art.

Those images convey beauty, sadness, pride, melancholy or just profound admiration for the landscape and scenery, el paisaje mexicano. I was also struck by how much women cried in these stories- puro melodrama y sufrimiento- and how men were  always “engrandecidos y valientes” almost to a fault. There are bits of his work from the movies Flor Silvestre, Maria Candelaria, Enamorada, Bugambilia, La Perla, Maclovia, Un Dia de Vida, Los Olvidados, among many others. 

You also see the influence painters such as Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco had on Figueroa’s work. It was like he was applying film to their paintings. My dear friend Alex Munguia used to tell me that if I wanted to take better photographs, then I should study famous painters and try to emulate what they did. Of course he was right, but it became completely evident to me once I saw the relationship between Diego Rivera’s Murals of the Mexican Revolution and Gabriel Figueroa’s Cinematography. Isn’t it interesting how different art forms relate and influence each other? The medium is different, but both are equally powerful.

Mr. Figueroa lived to be 90 years old and stayed active in film and the arts until the end. I hope you can go admire his work in this fabulous exhibit. It runs until February 2, 2014.

Gabriel Figueroa in 1945 during the filming of "La Perla" (Dir. Emilio "Indio" Fernandez)

Gabriel Figueroa in 1945 during the filming of “La Perla” (Dir. Emilio “Indio” Fernandez)

Los ojos de Maria Félix, forever immortalized by the lens of Gabriel Figueroa.

Los ojos de Maria Félix, forever immortalized by the lens of Gabriel Figueroa.

There are plenty of screens with montages of his works as well as still shots and other memorabilia.

There are plenty of screens with montages of his work, as well as still shots and other memorabilia.

Mexican beauties as observed by Gabriel Figueroa, who wa snot afraid of the extreme close up. Among his leading ladies are Maria Félix, Dolores del Rio and Columba Dominguez.

Mexican beauties as observed by Gabriel Figueroa, who was not afraid of the extreme close up. Among his leading ladies are Maria Félix, Dolores del Rio and Columba Dominguez.

Maria Félix and Columba Dominguez in a dramatic moment.

Maria Félix and Columba Dominguez in a dramatic moment.

"Dia de Flores" by Diego Rivera, apr of the exhibit and cited as one of the references in Gabriel Figueroa's cinematography.

“Dia de Flores” by Diego Rivera, part of the exhibit and cited as one of the references in Gabriel Figueroa’s cinematography.

Even if she wanted to look ordinary, Maria Félix was stunning on screen.

Even if she wanted to look ordinary, Maria Félix was stunning on screen.

The contrast, shadows and light are simply beautiful.

The contrast, shadows and light are simply beautiful.

Un paisaje con la "Mujer Dormida" al fondo.

Un paisaje con la “Mujer Dormida” al fondo.

Pedro Armendariz in all his glory.

Pedro Armendariz in all his glory.

Para mi, Roberto Cañedo is the most attractive man in Mexican Cinema. Here he romances Columba Dominguez.

Para mi, Roberto Cañedo is the most attractive man in Mexican Cinema. Here he romances Columba Dominguez.

Posters from Mexican movies, in different languages.

Posters from Mexican movies, in different languages.

Gabriel Figueroa checking his negatves in 1994. This photograph was taken by his son, Gabriel Figueroa Flores.

Gabriel Figueroa checking his negatives in 1994. This photograph was taken by his son, Gabriel Figueroa Flores.

EntradaGabrielFigueroa

Go see this exhibit on view at LACMA.

Go see this exhibit on view at LACMA.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in LA

25 Sep

Are you enjoying your Hispanic Heritage Month? There’s a lot going on to celebrate it, even if nosotros los Hispanics never actually need a specific reason. But it’s nice to have a whole month dedicated to observing the fact that los Hispanos somos lo máximo. 

One of the perks of living in Los Angeles is that we have no shortage of events, be it Hispanic Heritage Month or not. The last 2 weeks in September and first 2 weeks of October are actually jammed packed with lots to do, see and eat. So let’s go celebrate.

I received an invitation from Macy’s to attend an event which I’d like to share here and invite you to attend.

Our resident Oaxacan ambassador in LA and all around super cool lady, Bricia López, will be hosting a cooking demo and presentation this Saturday Sept. 28th at 2 p.m. at Macy’s South Coast Plaza, where she’ll bring some of her best loved Mole dishes from the famous La Guelaguezta restaurant in LA.

Bricia is synonymous with good food and you may have heard about her on NPR, the LA Times, among others. She is proud and passionate about representing Oaxaca, its food, delicacies, art and Mezcal. If you love good food, I would make it a point of being there. Tickets are $5 and they benefit La Plazita de la Cultura y las Artes.

Bricia at Macys

Speaking of La Plazita de la Cultura y las Artes, I recently had the chance to visit for the first time and I fell in love with the place. If you haven’t been and you’re interested in learning more about the history of los mexicanos en Los Angeles, you need to go visit. You can find information on their website here: www.lapca.org

La Plazita is located just across the street from Plazita Olvera in DTLA and it’s a small but very well thought out museum. They have rotating exhibits, plus spaces dedicated to the braceros, Mexican zoot suits, several artists and a very cool representation of life in DTLA in the 1920′s. The grounds ouside are perfect for kids running around and just hanging out with la familia.

Here are some pictures from La Plazita. Hope you have a chance to go and support it.

Entrance to La Plazita de la Cultura y las Artes in DTLA.

Entrance to La Plazita de la Cultura y las Artes in DTLA.

You can enjoy great exhibits and graphics around the museum.

You can enjoy great exhibits and graphics around the museum.

Plazita art

Maria Isabel Santiago, 15 years old, and her painting "El Gran Azul." She is part of the PAINT program at the Los Angeles Music and Arts School in East LA.

Maria Isabel Santiago, 15 years old, and her painting “El Gran Azul.” She is part of the PAINT program at the Los Angeles Music and Arts School in East LA.

Kids from East LA participated in this project.

Kids from East LA participated in this project.

Plazita Plaza Studio

On the second floor there is a recreation of La Calle Principal- Main Street today- from the 1920′s in Los Angeles. A creative and hands on experience.

A clothing store just as you would see it in the 1920's on Main street.

A clothing store just as you would see it in the 1920′s on Main street.

Another view inside the clothing store.

Another view inside the clothing store.

This was especially exciting for me, a photo studio recreation from the 1920's where families would dress up and g take "la foto del recuerdo" which woud be passed on as an heirloom form generation to generation.

This was especially exciting for me, a photo studio recreation from the 1920′s where families would dress up and take “la foto del recuerdo” which woud be passed on as an heirloom from generation to generation.

Here's a closer view with an explanation of how significant it was to go to the photo studio to get your portrait done...Those were the days! Now it's just a "selfie" on your phone that will probably never be seen by future generations.

Here’s a closer view with an explanation of how significant it was to go to the photo studio to get your portrait done…Those were the days! Now it’s just a “selfie” on your phone that will probably never be seen by future generations.

Another view.

Another view.

Th museum is inside the beautiful Brunswig Buiding and Plaza House.

The museum is inside the beautiful Brunswig Buiding and Plaza House.

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