Author Archives: Diana

Posts: 11 (archived below)
Comments: 4

About Diana


Highlights of “A Great Big Pile Of Leaves”

I really love music and whenever possible, I will be listening to music. However, it is rare for me to go to concerts. I used to go frequently when I was younger, but as I grew older, more responsibilities came my way and there was barely any time to go. Having to attend a concert in an effort to covered a band was an awesome opportunity to relive th past years and get back in tune with the concert scene, which is not only about the artists and the music, but also about the environment and the fans.

I recently attended a concert at the Highline Ballroom Located at 431 W 16th St. I had never been there before, but it is a nice looking place with lots of room. When we arrived, the place was empty for the most part but more people kept coming in as the night moved along. The dowm side of such a place is that drinks are expensive and we could not have access to a table unled we paid $10 per person.

The band my group and I decided to covered was called “A Great Big Pile of Leaves”, a band from Brooklyn, NY who decided to mix genres such as indie, jazz and rock in an effort to be creative and unique. Was their goal accomplished? It is fair to say that their music can be somewhat mellow, but it is not great either.

While they were playing, I had to try to focus on their songs, on their music. The enviroment and my surroundings kept me away from what I was there to do. I was more interested in the look of the place, the lighting and the people singing the songs.  I had never heard of this band before and now that I have, I would probably not follow them because, while their music is not too bad, is not music I would enjoy listening while I do my homework, chores or even to dance to in a club. Their music just does not meet the criteria I like when it comes to music.

I did not have a terrible time either. Being there with my group made the experience much more enjoyable and exciting. It had been a while since I had been at a concert, and even though it was a band I had not heard of before, just being there doing something outside of my routine was good enough for me.

Posted in music reviews | 3 Comments

When a song temps you to move, its magic.

It starts out with fast, dynamic rhythms and extraordinary beats. The song “Pearl” featuring Jean Grae from Black Bottom, is one you would enjoy dancing to in a club. Despite it’s repetitive beats, it gets you on the mood to dance nonstop. Even though there were few changes in rhythm that were confusing for as long as they lasted, the song gets back on track tempting its listeners to keep moving to its beats.

Posted in music reviews | 3 Comments

When Music Heals The Heart

Music has always been an essential part of every day life for almost all of society. Let’s be realistic, without music, our lives would most likely be a tragedy. At least that would be my case. I grew up in a country and in a culture were music is essential in our lives. I recall  growing up and always having music present. I would do my chores and my homework while listening to music. I would eat, take a shower, get ready, read books, engaged in conversation with friends and family, and music was always heard in the background. It’s great!

Whenever I get asked what is my favorite song or type of music, i usually reply “I like all kinds of music”. I know- this answer is so common among thousands of people. But in my case, i really do like all kinds of music. Anything from Hip Hop, R&B, Latin music, including Salsa and Merengue, and so on. I particularly like music with a message; music that speaks to my heart or music that i can relate to.  Songs like “Take a Bow” by Rihanna or “Dear Mr. President” by Pink are among my favorite songs becuase I can relate to them.

On the other hand, we have music with no sense or message behind it whatsoever. Songs like “Satisfaction” by Benny Benassi or “Danza Kuduro” by Don Omar are good example of what can be classified as “meaningless” songs, but hey, we got to admit, they are really great songs we can dance to.

Music has the power to heal hearts. If we think about it, whenever we are going through a situation in our lives, there will always be a song that will relate to that situation; a song that will somehow help us feel good and feel better; it will make us smile. This goes without saying that if we are facing a difficult situation, music will help us get through it. By singing those songs that relate to us, our hearts and our minds are expressing their feelings instead of letting them build up inside. At the end of the day, we feel much better. That is the power of music, which is why I say, music heals the heart.

Posted in Music Rant/ love song | 372 Comments

The Only Good Thing About Amber Is Just The Name

For many years, I had always told my friends how much I hated to experiment with new

Chicken -Pineapple: Amber style

foods. When I would get hungry, I liked to eat foods I knew and I enjoyed. It really bothered me when I would buy food I had never eaten before and I ended up hating it. As i grew older, such ideas started to disappear and I decided to give different foods a chance. To my surprise, I started discovering new delicious and very tsaty foods. Now, it’s one of my various hobbies.

It goes without saying, there are times where i really don’t like the food or the service for that matter. Amber Sushi Bar, located on 27th street and 3rd. Avenue, would be a great example of what terrible service looks like.

When I first entered, the first thing I noticed was the bar on the first floor. It took almost half the space of the first floor. Nevertheless, it looked tempting and inviting. The decorations give the restaurant a cultural and traditional, yet modern look and feel. Upstairs, things take a complete turn down.

The space is more limitted in the second floor, forcing the management of the restaurant to decide on a horrific seating arragement. The tables are arranged by rows, one after the other, with only few inches of space beatween each table. When I was directed to my table, where my friends had been waiting for me, as I was sitting down, my backside ended up in the face of an unfortunate customer sitting in the table next to ours. It was, I have to admit, an embarrasing moment.

I waited 15 minutes before I finally got a menu from the waitress and another 15 minutes for her to come back to take my order. We were given a choice between soup and salad. I opted for the salad. I got my main dish before the salad, and I had to let the waitress know she had forgotten to bring, not only my salad but my friends’ as well.

As far as the food goes, what can I tell you? It was average. It was not extremely good, and it did not make me feel like it was the best food I had ever eaten. But it was not too horrific either. I had a Pineapple Chicken dish that tasted very similar to the ones I have tried at some other restaurants. It was missing something. I wanted the dish to have something different to make such a typical  dish a unique one, but unfortunately, it wasn’t there. I can only say this: I would not go back to Amber as long as it is my choice.

Posted in restaurant reviews | 3 Comments

Brilliance Walks Through The Halls of Baruch College

Le Blanc in a Conference

Walking now through the Halls of Baruch College and teaching at some of the school’s classrooms is the great writer Adrian Nicole Le Blanc. The author of the book “Random Family” which chronicles the lives of a family she followed for 10 years, has been this semester’s writer in residence, expanding and sharing her knowledge with some lucky students.

I had the privilege of attending her conference, despite the tiresome day I had. I was dreading the whole idea of attending a conference that would discuss a book I had not read, especially after such a hectic day. However, I put my responsibilities ahead of me and attended the conference and I have to admit I am glad I did. I left the conference feeling highly encouraged and grateful for the best advice she gave, “always have a plan A and behind that, have a plan B.”

Le Blanc started her writing career as an intern at Smith College and freelancing at the New York Times. I look forward to reading her book during my free time. Sometimes, putting our responsibilities first, even after stressful days, actually pays off.

Posted in LeBlanc Talk | 5 Comments

If It’s Healthy, Then What Is The Problem?

Healthy Food Choices

As a mom, I am always concern about my daughter’s diet. I am always making sure that she eats food that is healthy for her and at the same time, food that she will enjoy eating, and whenever I get advice on how to better my child’s diet, I am all open for it, because after all, I want the best for her. If you sit for a minute to think about this, you will agree with me. Ultimately, parents always want what is best for their kids.

Unfortunately, not ALL parents want the best for their kids, at least not when it comes to nutrition. In an attempt to reduce the high number of obese children in the Unites States and in an effort to prevent or reduce Diabetes in children, the first lady Michelle Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This bill will allow, or force, schools to start serving better, more healthy and nutritious foods to kids all over the nation. This bill has also affected franchises such as Burger King and McDonalds since they also have to add more fruits and vegetables to their famous Happy Meals and if they fail to do so, they will no longer be allow to sell the meals that makes children so happy.

My question is this: If something is going to benefit our children, why would we get upset about it? Honestly, we have to keep our priorities straight. When I hear parents complaining about the first lady signing the bill, it infuriates me. She is only looking out for our children’s health. If that is the case, then why do we not flip out on our children’s doctors when they tell us to follow a specific diet, or to give our children a specific medicine when they are sick? It is the same thing, but those parents who feel their kids should be able to eat anything in the name of “freedom” are simply being selfish, period.

The first lady was highly criticized by Rush Limbaugh, saying she was a hypocrite for eating ribs while on vacation, but then forcing the nation to eat healthy. However, republicans like Chris Christie, New Jersey Governor, came to the defense of the first lady saying that obesity threatens the welfare of the entire nation. With this much information about obesity and the high risks of diabetes and cancer in our children, it is beyond me that there are parents who criticize Michelle Obama for her efforts to help our kids.

In an effort to better understand both points of view on this topic, I asked different mothers what they thought about this new food act. The responses were very different, here are a few:

“If it’s going to help our children and keep them healthier, then why not?” said Jaqueline Gomez

“I am actually very excited about the bill. I waited a long time for this change because the food serve in schools is the opposite of healthy.” Said my aunt Maria Velez

“We should be able to feed our children whatever we want, especially because they’re our children. Nobody else should tell us what we give them or what we feed them” said Shirley Restrepo.

If we want healthier children, we must do our part people, let’s get with the program. In the given case that you believe we should have the right to feed our children whatever we want and we should not be told by anyone what to feed them, then do not complaint if in the future your children turn out to be diabetic, obese or at risk of cancer. We cannot have it both ways.

Posted in Food Rant / love song | 3 Comments

Film Forum is NYC’s Leading House For Indepent and Foreign Art Films

FIlm Forum, 209 W Houston Street

It started in 1970 with only 50 folding chairs, one projector and a very small annual budget of only $19,000. Today, Film Forum Theater located on 209 W Houston St, counts with 3 screens, 489 seats, 67 employees, 4000 members, and an incredible annual budget of $250,000 and is open 365 days a year.             

Film Forum opened with a specific purpose: to present two very unique and admiring forms of film, New York City premieres of American Independent films and Foreign Art films. Film Forum is the only nonprofit cinema of New York City and one of the few in the entire United States. One of its screens is dedicated to both forms of film with very popular selections. This distinguished theater presents New Yorkers with a variety of films which deal with cultural, political and historical issues in today’s world.

As of right now, Film Forum is presenting Taxi Driver, Bill Cunningham, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and A Tribute to Jack Garfein.

Despite the many years I have lived in New York, I had never heard of Film Forum before. However, I opened up my mind and decided to give this theater a chance. I went in an attempt to watch a film, but unfortunately I was not able to make it on time for the show. However, I stayed in an effort to look around the theater. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. I felt comfortable being there and I was eager to go back with a group of friends and actually watch a film. While I was looking around, I was able to talk for a few minutes with two girls, Carlina Paniagua and Isbelia Cruz. They have been friends for about 10 years and they are both huge fanatics of Independent Films. These two girls make it a habit to go to Film Forum at least once a month. “In Previous years, we would come here about once every two weeks, or if they were showing highly interesting films we would come more frequently” says Carlina.

Unfortunately, the dreadful economy has been one of the major reasons why, not only Carlina and Isbelia, but other loyal members of Film Forum have been forced to reduce the number of visits they make and as a result, they miss out on great Independent and Foreign Art films, but as Isbelia says, “Hopefully the economy will rise up again so we will be able to enjoy Film Forum as much as we did before, or at least as much as we would like to enjoy it.”

Film Forum’s mission when it first opened was simple: to present programs with attention to unique cinematic qualities, and historical importance either individually or within genres relevant to today’s world. Today, Film Forum still serves its mission and it is the leading movie house for Independent and Foreign Art films. In 41 years, Film Forum has been able to grow and provide those indies and foreign art films fanatics and let’s hope they will continue to provide great entertainment and great art for another 41 years or more.

Posted in Independent Film | 4 Comments

Wasp: 2005 Academy Award Winner

Wasp-Andrea Arnold

Most short live action films are intended to impact an audience. For the most part, they try to speak to the heart and the mind of the viewers.

Wasp, created by Andrea Arnolds and winner of the 2005 Academy Awards for best Short Live Action film, not only speaks to the younger generations about the difficulties and challenges of parenthood at a young age but also allows audiences to have a sense anger and depression over the problems portrayed on the film.

Set in the UK, Wasp follows the story of a young single woman, mother of three girls and a boy, who is still more concerned with her social and private life than taking care of her children as she ought to do.

It was not the foul language used, or the way poverty was portrayed but it was the mother’s attitude what disgusted me the most about this film. I have to be completely honest the film got me to a point where I was not longer sure if I wanted to continue watching it. I am, by nature, a very sensitive person, and even more so when the issues involve children. However, I tried to have an open mind and finished watching the entire film.

Was this film worthy of an Oscar Award? Yes, I have to say it is. The story is a very dramatic one and it was well done. The person behind the story successfully reached the hearts of its viewers and also their upset minds.

Posted in Independent Film | 1 Comment

When There Is Nothing To Confess

The Confession directed by Tanel Toom, is a phenomenal and brilliantly created film that brings its viewers everything from drama and mystery to suspense and tragedy and it also, very successfully, brings innocence into the picture. A film so extraordinary that leaves the viewers wanting more, wondering and questioning what would have happened if the film would have simply kept on rolling.

The film, set in a small town in England, greatly influenced by religious beliefs,   follows the story of Sam, an innocent 9 year old who is close to facing his first confession. His only problem: He has nothing to confess, something that brings him continuous anxiety. As a result, his friend Jacob assures him that together, they will come up with a sinful act that would allow Sam to face confession properly.

At this point, the film takes a dramatic turn when Sam and Jacob decide to take a scarecrow from the cornfields and place it in the middle of the row as an effort to scare Sam’s father. Not thinking of the consequences of their acts, Sam and Jacob witness the horrific death of three passengers of a passerby vehicle but Sam and Jacob are more concerned with hiding the scarecrow and making sure no one ever finds out.

“It was an accident” is all Jacob keeps assuring Sam hoping he will eventually be convinced but Sam’s consciousness tells him otherwise. The film goes from wanting something to confess to having something to actually confess but not being able to do so out of guilt.

Tanel Toom is known for producing films that speak to the heart; films that would impact his audience. He is known for incorporating religion and death in his works. An example would be The Second Coming(2008) about a soldier who is having a hard time coping with the death of his brother.  

Let’s not go without noting how well the acting helped the film deliver its message. Both Lewis Howlett who played Sam and Joe Eals who played Jacob did an extraordinary job with the acting. They were successfully able to reach the hearts of the viewers and send the right feelings whenever they needed to be sent.   

It is not a mystery as to why The Confession obtained an Oscar nomination, because no other short live action film was able to bring together such a variety of genres in just one short film as well as The Confession did.

Lewis Howlett as Sam in The Confession

Posted in Oscar Shorts | 1 Comment

Live action Short Films: A New Great Hobby.

Short Films (Live Action)Had you ever heard of the short live action films before? Well, if you had not, don’t feel too bad because I had never heard of them before either. Of course, you do hear of independent films and things of the sort, but I have never been the person to go to movies that have no, if any, marketing or publicity.

 On February 15th, I had to go see these films at the IFC Center located in the Village as part of a class assignment. I have to be completely honest with you; I was not too excited about having to see these short films. After meditating on how to have an open mind about the new experience and how I could make it a fun one, I decided to drag along my best friend Carlos. We have always been addicted to movies. At the same time we love to watch the Oscars every year. However, it never occurred to us the idea of watching The Academy Award nominated Live Action Short Films.

Surprisingly enough, we loved the films. My friend Carlos also loved these films. On our way back home he could not stop talking about it, he even told me “I had never seen these kind of films but I loved them. We should definitely watch them on a regular basis.” The whole experience was great. It was something new but highly interesting. Just think about it, for $13 dollars, which is what the admission cost, you can watch five different films one after the other. You don’t see that in any other theater. I was always used to watching the same movies I love, comedies and romance. I know- I know, I should not be watching those romantic flicks that only feed women false interpretations of love or that gives us women false hopes of finding true love or the perfect man, but I cannot help myself.

The Academy Award nominated Live Action Short films had everything you can think of; Drama, suspense, tragedy, humor, love and so on. My personal favorite was The Confession, which was produced in 2010 in Britain and it was directed by Tanel Toom. Another great short film was Wish 143 produced in UK and directed by Ian Barnes.  

Now, all I am waiting for is for the Oscars to see which live action short film wins the award. If any of you out there are hesitant to watch these films, please don’t. The best piece of advice I can give you when it comes to entertainment is to get up from the couch, get ready and head over to the village and watch these films. I promise you won’t regret listening to me, and in case you do, at least you’ll have experienced something new. In my case, these live action short films are turning into a whole new hobby!

Posted in Independent Film | Comments Off on Live action Short Films: A New Great Hobby.