Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mo Maurice

Last Wednesday I got to see the newest movie of the recent Apes trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes.  I got to see it as part of a promotion where you got to see all the movies back to back to back.  It was a lot of fun because movie theaters are very well air-conditioned and these are very good movies.  In fact, I may have written a positive review about at least one of them.  As you may or may not know, (you probably should know) this trilogy is a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes movies that came out in the 60's and 70's.  The new trilogy essentially tells us how the aforementioned apes became superior to the humans, a question I didn't know I wanted answered until I watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  As far as prequel trilogies go, this is top tier stuff.  The movies are compelling, the motion capture apes are astounding, and the characters captivating.  War for the Planet of the Apes was no different.  It built on what made the first two movies so successful while also adding fresh blood, most notably Woody Harrelson's appearance as the Colonel.  As advertised this is a film in which there is a war for the planet that is going to be occupied by super intelligent apes, but I wouldn't really call this a war movie.  It's definitely an ape movie, and I'd argue it's a snow movie.  For a while there it's a buddy travel movie and it's, to an extent, a revenge movie.  It's everything you could ever want in a movie called War for the Planet of the Apes.  It's earned an El Guapo stamp of approval.

Part of the reason I like to watch movies chronologically is because it serves as a refresher for the movies that came before.  In this case there was a bunch of things from Rise and Dawn that I didn't remember that came up in War.  But I also like doing it this way because it's easier for me compare the movies to each other.  I like seeing how the motion capture technology got better from movie to movie.  (As good as it is in Rise, there's a very noticeable jump in the technology when you get to Dawn.)  But the real reason I wanted to watch the trilogy in succession is so that I could get triple the dosage of my favorite ape.  No, not Caesar, though he is an impressive chimp.  Nope, not you either Rocket.  You wish, Koba! Bingo! It is Maurice, the sign language fluent orangutan.  This bad boy right below.

Some fun facts about orangutans: Orangutans are classified as the genus Pongo and are divided into two species, Borneo and Sumatran orangutans.  Orangutans are exclusively native to Asia and can live to over 30 years in captivity and the wild.  (That's wild!)  Their diet is mainly composed of fruit and they are some of the most intelligent apes on the planet, having the ability to use sophisticated tools to build nests.  There were studies in the 60's and 70's that proved these orange angels could learn signs.  They are also the first non-humans to exhibit the use of "calculated reciprocity".  This means they are willing to help out other orangutans so long as the payment is equal to the favor they are doing.  Orangutans are easily in the Mt. Rushmore of primates.  (The other three are the chimpanzee, the gorilla and the lemur.)  Unfortunately they are also critically endangered, due mostly to poaching and the destruction of their habitat.  (Humans suck.)

Now some fun facts about Maurice:  He's an orangutan.  (Duh.)  He is played by Karin Konoval, who also plays "court clerk" in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  (That's called range.)  He knows how to sign prior to Caesar giving his fellow apes the retrovirus that made them smarter.  He used to be a circus animal.  He is also the first ape at the ape shelter that is nice to Caesar, starting a friendship that will last three films.  While Caesar was the fearless, thoughtful and intelligent leader, Maurice was the compassionate and wise voice of of reason.  Just look at his face: his eyes are so warm and filled with wonder and curiosity.  It's no wonder Caesar made him such an integral part of his colony.  He third in command of the ape army, though things got shuffled when Koba committed treason in the second film.  He was also a member of the ape council and an educator of the youth.  His role is further extended in the latest movie.  Maurice is probably one of the few members of the colony that can call Caesar out on his shit.  But for as much Maurice there was in the three movies, I couldn't help but feeling like it wasn't enough.  I wanted mo'.  Mo' Maurice.

But why limit Maurice to just to these Ape films.  Looking back at this year in film, there's been a lot of good movies.  But good isn't great and there's always room for improvement.  The following movies could have benefited from having an orangutan that knew sign language.

Wonder Woman
I thought Wonder Woman was fantastic.  The action scenes were just superb and Gal Gadot and Chris Pine really nailed their roles.  It was funny and light when it needed to be, and dark and gloomy when necessary.  It was almost perfect... almost.  For my money, I wasn't a fan of the third act.  Some people like the fight against Ares, I like my fights more grounded.  Enter Maurice.  The big reveal now is that Ares is no man, but in fact an orangutan that knows how to sign.  This works because Diana knows virtually every language there is to know and I'm going to assume sign is one of them.

Logan might actually have been a perfect movie.  Thinking back on it there is nothing I would want to change or replace.  I just want to add a very beautiful animal that makes me want to be a better person.  That being said a lot of people died in that movie and it seems logical that Mo would face the same fight.  I film where Maurice dies a violent death is not a movie I want to pay for.  So nope.

Fate of the Furious
I'm going to ask you a question and you have to answer very honestly.  If we replaced Vin Diesel with Maurice to play the role of Dom Toretto in any of the Fast movies would you have noticed the difference?  Honestly?  I think it's the same.  If anything Dom might be easier to understand since you won't have to strain yourself trying to figure out what he's mumbling.  Mo would have definitely gotten along better with the Rock.  Let me ask you another question.  If we replaced Vin Diesel with Maurice would the plot still not make sense? Make more sense?

Spider-Man: Homecoming
Homecoming is easily the best Spidey movie since Spider-Man 2.  I had so much fun watching it.  Tom Holland is a perfect Perfect Peter and for the most part I thought casting nailed it.  My biggest problems with the movie?  Too much Iron Man, not enough Maurice the Orangutan.  Maybe it's just a little Tony Stark fatigue but I just preferred the scenes when Spider-Man was his own thing, like David Pumpkins.  Speaking of things that are orange, Maurice would have been the perfect father figure role.  Wise, funny and intelligent, he would have been a useful primate for Peter to lean on.

Kong: Skull Island
Fun fact about Kong: Skull Island: the actor who plays King Kong, Toby Kebbel, also plays Koba in the Apes movies.  Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar, played King Kong is Peter Jackson's King Kong.  Skull Island is a fine movie.  I liked it more than most critics did.  But it did lack in number of orangutans.  Look, I'm not necessarily saying that Maurice should have been an animal on Skull Island.  But him as a pilot or maybe even an employee of Monarch.  I buy it.

Transformers: The Last Knight
Here's my quick fix for the latest Transformers movie.  Get rid of Mark Wahlberg.  He's got better things to do.  Get rid of Anthony Hopkins.  He definitely has better things to do.  Get rid of the whole knights and prophecy stuff that made up the plot.  Now get rid of Michael Bay.  Lastly, get rid of the transformers because this series has gone on way too long.  Now make this a Netflix comedy special starring Maurice.  He's got some good stuff on parenting.

Baby Driver
There's nothing I would change about Baby Driver.  It might be perfect.  It's easily my favorite driving movie since Drive, which is also a perfect movie.  ( A good indicator that a driving movie is going to be good is if it has the word "drive" in the title.)  So there's nothing major I would change about this movie.  It's perfectly casted so I'm not replacing anyone.  I don't want to add any scenes just because I'm afraid of throwing off the film's dynamic pace.  So how about this?  Early on there's a scene where Baby, Ansel Elgort's character is getting coffee for his crew.  The barista, or maybe just cashier, is slightly annoyed that Baby is not very attentive because he's listening to his iPod.  What if we replaced that barista with Maurice?  It doesn't change anything about the plot or the run time.  Chances are you probably wouldn't notice.  And if the odd chance you do notice your reaction will most likely be, "Is that Mo?... It is!  How delightful.".

All Eyez On Me
All Eyez On Me is a movie that's supposed to take a deep dive on the man and icon who is Tupac Shakur.  It doesn't do a great job of that and it mostly plays out like if somebody took Pac's Wikipedia page and made that a movie.  The movie has a lot of problems and no amount of orangutans can fix it.  Not even six.  But let's pretend Maurice is signed on to be in this movie.  Is he Jimmy Iovine?  No, Mo is no music nerd.  Is he Suge Knight?  I couldn't take Maurice seriously as the menacing and irredeemable Suge.  The obvious answer is to have him play one of the Outlawz during Tupac's House of Blues show.  But which one?  Easy: Yaki Kadafi.

There are countless other movies that came out this year and years prior that could have used some mo Mo.  Unfortunately Hollywood doesn't take my calls.  The best we can do is pay AMC to let us watch this unbelievable creature steal the show for 6+ hours.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Can You Believe It's Been Three Years

Hey people!  I'm back with another post, a special edition post.  Why?  Because today is a special day!  Today is me and my girlfriend's three year anniversary!  (I know, right?)  Three years!  Tres anos! So what better way to celebrate than me sharing a blog on the amazing things my girl brings to the table.  I first wrote this blog two years ago for our one year anniversary.  In that post I highlighted 12 reasons why I loved my guh.  Well keeping in line with my tradition to update old blog posts, I've kept the original 12 reasons and added three more to celebrate each year.  Here we go again!

1. She's Beautiful
Let's get this one of out the way.  I'm not a cheese ball so I'm not going to say something ridiculous like I only care what's on the inside.  Don't get me wrong, personality goes a long, long way (we'll get to that), but I wouldn't insult anyone by failing to mention that I am very attracted to her.  She has one of the most endearing smiles.  Her eyes are hypnotic and her complexion is perfect.  She's got amazing legs and she's thick, a key component.  I also enjoy **** **** ** *** ********* **** ** *****.  (This part was edited out at the end when I realized my mom will probably end up reading this too.)

2. She Makes Me Laugh
She's probably one of the goofiest people I know.  The inside jokes we have are more than abundant and she can never fail to make me at least chuckle.  There are lot's of people who think they are funny, but my girl actually is.  Not in a stand up comedy kind of way, nor in a clown-like way.  Just in a I-know-you-and-I-know-how-to-make-you-smile kind of way.

3. She's My Opposite
In many ways she is my opposite, the perfect foil.  In what might seem like just two totally different people actually has made a lot of sense in this relationship.  We both have what the other one lacks.  In that sense we are able to get new perspectives and get out of our shell.  I really like me.  But I would hate to date someone like me and my girl is not like me.  Someone once said opposites attract.  I thought that guy was an idiot.  Turns out he may have been right.

4. She's Sociable
I guess she's the opposite of K. Dot according to his "Control" verse.  ( I never had the chance to make a "Control" reference at the height of its popularity.  Sue me!)  But this is a quality I really admire.  She's not shy which means I can throw her into any mix of people and she would be fine.  She tries to get to know people and make a good connection.  This quality actually made it possible to meet.  Some people don't like meeting new friends (a la Drake) but sometimes doing so can lead to great things.

5. She's From the Bay Area
Well, she's from Richmond, which is part of the Bay Area.  It's just not a part I am particularly fond of.  All jokes aside it's always great to meet people from my home and even better to have someone who I'm intimate with have that connection with me.  Let me just jot this down on paper (internet paper), people from the Bay Area are awesome, and in general better people from LA.  (Stings doesn't it.)  Don't get me wrong, I have lots of friends from LA who are dear to me.  My point is, like the Beach Boys said they wished "they could be California Girls", I wish they could all be Bay Area girls.

6.  She's the Right Amount of Crazy
Let's settle this now: all girls are loco.  Psychos.  Crazy.  Insane in the membrane.  That's fact that I'm not gonna bother debating.  But that's not all bad.  And there is such a thing as the "right kind of crazy".  Too much crazy and a girl will fly off the handle and you might not live to see tomorrow.  Not crazy enough and you spend your weekends looking forward to sitting around and reading newspapers for fun.  A little crazy adds some excitement to your life.  It leads to new adventures.  Honestly, everyone should have a little crazy in them.  I think my girl is just crazy enough for me.  Not so much that I fear for my life.  I could always be wrong, in which case look out for my name in the obituaries.

7. She Has Good Values
I grew up with parents who taught me the right way to do things.  ( I may not have always listened.)  But the values that were instilled in me by my family, the Church and all those who shaped my life are very much important to me.  It's always good to find someone with a good heart for helping others, a good spirit for keeping the faith in God and a good mind for keeping the values of love, care and support.  She is a good person with all those great qualities.

8. She Is Willing to Learn & Teach
Like I mentioned earlier the great thing about me and my girlfriend being opposites is than our flaws and strengths are able to cancel each other out in a way.  There are certain things that I'm particularly good at that my girl struggles with and vice versa.  The great thing is that she is willing to learn and grow from what I'm able to teach her.  At the same time she is able to teach me things I wouldn't be able to learn on my own.  What good is a relationship if there is no learning and growing involved.

9. She Is a Great Singer
My girl has a voice.  A very lovely one at that.  She can sing and it's not a talent everyone has, and yes that includes me.  Sometimes it's just good to sit back and enjoy the talents of my girlfriend.  Especially on a long road trip, when the road seems like it goes on forever, the sound of a beautiful voice breaking the silence can make a big difference.

10. She Somehow Likes Me
I'm not the greatest man to walk on Earth and I'm nowhere near perfect.  (I'm just really handsome with a cool blog.)  But it feels great to have someone who truly likes for who you are.  And not just the good parts, but the flaws too.  Someone who appreciate all the wrinkles and support you abundantly with any dream or endeavor you may have.  I'm lucky to have that and I appreciate it very much.

11. She's a Great Cook
When she cooks it's pretty much a done deal that the meal will be amazing.  Yeah sure, the food will not be very healthy (she hates veggies) but it will be damn delicious.  My mouth is watering at the thought of her cooking.  Not a lot of people's cooking can do that.  So it's safe to say she's part of an exclusive group.

12. She Makes a Bad Day Good, and a Good Day Better
This is really an understatement.  Everybody has bad days and most of the time people have to pick themselves on their own.  Sometimes it's just good to have someone there to lend a hand.  At the end of a rough day she can make me smile.  And sometimes at the end of a great day she  can be the icing on the cake.  I said I wasn't ranking this list, but if I was this probably takes the cake.  It's for all these reasons, and then some, that I love her as much as I do.

13.  She Makes the Effort to Enjoy the things I Like
Here are things about me that most people in my inner circle know.  I love sports, in particular basketball.  I'm a huge Warriors fan.  I love Dinosaurs.  My hobbies include going to the movies and generally doing nothing.  I like binge watching shows on Netflix and Hulu.  These are simple things that I like.  My girl isn't a die hard Warriors fan like me, nor does she think that going to the movies should be an every week kind of thing.  That's fine, but what I appreciate is that she tries for me.  She learned the names of my favorite players, she has gone to see movies that I begged to go see (shout out to Zootopia!), and she too likes to binge watch shows.  (She actually does that better than me.  I can stay up until maybe 2 in the morning before I call it a night.  She's pulled multiple all-nighters.)

14.  She Calls Me on My Bullshit
Believe it or not, the Guaps has a couple of flaws.  Some might say I have a big ego and that affects much of my decision making.  Here's the thing about life I've come to learn.  If you never face criticism then you'll never grow as a person.  Criticism is at its best form when it is constructive and that's what I tend to get from my girl.

15. She Is Trustworthy
Trust is really important for a relationship to work.  That's a pretty obvious statement.  It's almost as obvious as saying smoking cigarettes may cause lung cancer.  But trust is a very vague concept.  There's trust in the sense that you can trust somebody's word or their actions.  I trust my girl in that way.  That seems like a really good thing.  But there's also trust in the sense that you can allow yourself to be open to another person.  That is also very important and I'm glad I also have that.  In general I'm not a very open person.  People not in my inner circle don't know much about my personal life and I like things like that.  But it's so amazing for me to have someone I can share my deepest thoughts with.  Someone I know will not judge me for being me.  That's amazing.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dear Los Angeles

Dear Los Angeles,

It feels important that I write you this letter.  It's a huge time of transition for me.  I'm a college graduate, my sister just started college, I am car-less, I've seen the end of the Phelps-Bolt era of the Olympics, and, oh yeah, I moved back to Oakland.  I spent the last five years of my life with an LA address, essentially my entire (brief) adult years.  I cannot ignore these last five years I have spent with you, and so I am writing you this letter to get some off my mind.

You suck.  Let me repeat.  You suck.  I can go on and on about my grievances regarding your nature, Los Angeles, and so I will.  Let me just start with that traffic.  My God!  I think I might have spent as much time in a traffic jam as anything else I did during my time in SoCal.  That sounds like an exaggeration, but it's not.  Your public transportation doesn't alleviate the issue as much as one should, but it's relatively young and deserves a pass.  But the drivers are the worst!  What is it about you that turns a simple activity like operating a motor vehicle seem like landing the Apollo on the moon.  And I know that the weather is on of the biggest draws for people relocating to you, but it's overrated.  Yes, yes, I did move to you in part because I wanted to know what summer was like without fog, but too much heat is too much.  You can't give me more than 15 days of rain a year?  I once spent an entire week in the ocean because there was no escaping the heat.  And why can't you produce a single great slice of pizza.  Your people claim that you hold some great pizza joints somewhere, but why haven't I been able to find one in over five years?  The fact that more than two people have claimed that Shakey's is the best pizza in LA says a lot about your quality of those delicious Italian pies.  What else?  Uh, what's the deal with Time Warner Cable?  That's a question both directed at you and Time Warner Cable.  Here's another thing: stuff is way too expensive.  And everything is so far away from everything.  When your developers were deciding on how to construct you as a city, did they not think that maybe putting stuff near each other would make it easier on your residents?  And don't get me started on your sports fans.  My experience with them has been so bad that it prompted me to write a blog post about their awfulness a few years back.  Yeah, that bad.  So it's safe to say there's a lot of things I don't like about you.  That being said, I don't regret moving to you for a second.

Let me get one thing straight: Oakland is my heart and will always be my home, even if I end up living the rest of my life somewhere else.  I did choose to leave Oakland when I was 18 for college.  I wanted to be away from home and get a chance to see what I was made of on my own.  I wanted to experience something that was different than what I was used to.  Out of the many places I could have gone I chose you, LA.  For years I was infatuated with the Hollywood lifestyle.  Multiple seasons of Entourage and vacations to touristy spots gave me a particular impression of you.  Imagine my shock during my first year stuck in Carson.  It was nothing like the places Vince and company used to visit and a good drive from any of the scenic places I had visited on vacation.  This was before I had a car.  In Oakland I always managed fine without one.  The city was small enough to get where ever I wanted by bus and for trips to the City I had BART.  But you were a different beast.  I had never encountered a city as big as you are and I must admit I was intimidated by you.  A lot of the people I met my first year were assholes and I only knew one person from my high school days.  Everything I wanted to do seemed out of reach.  I had trouble adjusting to your heat, though I learned to love flip flops.  When I came home for winter break I had my tail tucked between my legs.  I thought maybe I just wasn't built to handle you.  Maybe I belonged in Oakland all along.  I was not sure I would return.

Something happened though during our temporary break up.  I missed you.  I wanted to come back to you and prove to myself that I can survive on my own.  So I did come back, this time with a car.  Holy shit, did that make a difference!  Things that were not accessible to me were suddenly accessible.  I wanted to go everywhere and see everything you had to offer.  There was definitely something more enjoyable about being able to drive to your hot spots and do things LA people did.  But it's not like the move back was peaches and cream.  The struggles continued as I fought to find my foothold in a new city.  From housing issues to car issues to money issues, my time with you was plagued with hardships.  During my time with you I had been homeless, food-less or money less at one point or another.  I mean, for fuck's sake I went a month and a half surviving on a jar of peanut butter.  But I needed the struggle and your skyline provided the perfect backdrop to my story of ascension.  Every obstacle that was thrown my way I eventually overcame.  After struggling to find a stable housing situation I was able to meet a distant relative with a place for me to stay.  After many unsuccessful job posts I was able to find a steady job on campus that I was able to ride out for the remainder of my time at Dominguez Hills.  Though I started with just one friend I now leave with many more that I care about and that I know care about me.  I even met my girlfriend during my stay with you, Los Angeles.  I maintained a steady hatred towards you throughout the years, usually blaming my hardships on you, but it was during my time with you that I became the resilient and motivated man I am today.

One thing I'll always respect about you is how you continued to surprise me.  I thought I had you all figured out.  I had seen all your top tourist attractions.  I knew all about Venice Beach, Hollywood and Disneyland.  I had worked in Downtown LA, learning the roads.  I got bored with you.  By my third year I was ready to move back home.  I thought you had nothing else to show me.  Boy was I wrong!  Maybe it was the new people I was hanging out with that introduced me to some new nooks and crannies that reignited my interest in you.  Or maybe it was me realizing that while you weren't the dreamland I imagined you to be, there were so many things about you I can still grow to learn and appreciate about you.  After all, we were stuck together for at least the next two years.  So I started to search deeper than what was shown in the movies.  I learned you had as much to offer in East LA as you did in Santa Monica if I looked hard enough.  I learned you had so much history that made you become the city you are now.  Both beautiful and traumatizing events from the past molded you into what I recognize you as now, a complex and fascinating place people call home.  People like me.  I began to understand why people loved you as much as I understood why people hated you.  When  I was with you, no two days had to be the same unless I wanted them to be.  You always had something brewing in the far reaches of your land.  Your people, though sometimes arrogant, were interesting, active and thoughtful.  I began to see that LA natives were just like Oakland natives in the respect that they really love where they are from.  (Oakland natives are just more likable.)  You are diverse as a motherfucker.  I mean that in every facet of the word.  (The word being diverse, not motherfucker.)  I had friends and colleagues of every race, religion, sexual orientation and economic level.  Being from the Bay Area that's nothing new, but it was nice to experience on some level with you.  I was able to find a balance between long-term tourist and full-time resident.  Spending my summers with you certainly helped.  I even accidentally called you home once or twice.  I got myself a Disney pass, I went to a Dodger game (in A's gear obviously), I listened to Big Boy in the morning, and found my favorite restaurants.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'll always say the Bay is better in so many ways (because it is), but I do consider you a home and I will miss you.

You want to know what I'll miss about you?  I'm gonna miss the culture.  I'm going to miss the fact that so many different types of people can live within you and are the reason why you are so unique.  You were the perfect city to host an event like the Special Olympics World Games.  I'm going to miss your festivals and fairs.  I'm going to for damn sure miss your food, especially your Mexican food.  You do Mexican right, Los Angeles.  But there's so much more food than that.  The best Korean spots I've ever been to have been in you.  I've had amazing Japanese ramen too.  I can't forget about some good old fashion barbecue.  You have some great breakfast joints and no one can take that away from you.  I'll miss the shit out of Fatburger.  After In N Out, Fatburger is my favorite burger joint.  I'll miss the nightlife you provide.  The nightclubs and bars added to your allure, and while I did most of my clubbing in the first two years it was a big part of the reason I liked being with you.  More than most places, I felt like you were the best place for me to be a young adult.  I won't deny it, we had a lot of fun together.  I'm going to miss your variety.  You are such a fucking big city it's crazy.  The best part about that is that all the areas you encompass are so different from each other.  I had so many options of places to see and people to meet.  I could appeal to my cinema loving nature in Hollywood; I could beach bum it in Hermosa Beach; I could get dope Mexican food in East LA; I could visit an art museum on Wilshire; I could go on a date in Long Beach.   You introduced me to some of my best friends, friends I am going to miss a lot, friends I'm going to stay in contact with.  Some of these friends I met at school, work or through other friends.  They all played a big part in my development as a person. I reconnected with long lost family too during my years with you, LA.  I was able to strengthen the relationships I have with my family at home.  I have to give you some credit for that.  I'm going to miss all the memories I formed with all those people that make you such an amazing place.  Five years is a lot of memories and a lot of story telling for a guy who loves to tell stories.  The majority of me and my girlfriend's memories together are based in you, which is why you serve such a crucial part of our relationship.  So I'm sure she feels some of the emotions I feel towards you as well.  Shit, I'll miss some of the bad stuff too.  I do like hot weather.  I've had a hard time adjusting to not being to rock flip flops and shorts everywhere.  I'll even miss the bad traffic. Really it was an excuse to listen to my CD's.  I might even miss Dominguez Hills.  As much as I had trouble with that school it was where I needed to be.

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, there are more positives with you than there are negatives.  You are a huge part of my life.  As an adult I grew up with you.  I did what I set out to do and became my own person.  I experienced something completely new and I wouldn't change one thing.  I know it might be a little different for you being without me, but you know I'm going to visit a lot.  You're only an hour flight away.  Oakland is and always will be my home, but you are my second home.  From an Oakland native to you, Los Angeles: I'ma hella miss you.

El Guapo

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

#TeamNoHesitation/ 4 Years (And 1 Month) Anniversary

Yes!  You read that right!  I've been writing this blog for over four years now, and I'm not retiring anytime soon.  (Mainly because I don't think it's called retiring if I'm not getting paid.)  One of the reasons I wanted to do this blog in the first place was because I wanted to take things like sports, movies, television and other pop culture references and provide my own unique takes on them.  I wanted to show people how creative I could be and how I could find humor in  everything I do.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could start something that was never going to give me any extrinsic rewards, and stick to it.  I've never gotten paid for this, nor have I ever gotten recognition that most writers strive to get.  I just love writing.  I love letting people get a glimpse of how my mind works through my writing.  I get a kick out of the thought of people reading my blog with smiles on their face, laughing while they think to themselves, "That guy has a point, though."

 I also wanted people to read this blog and be inspired.  Sure, I don't write a lot of inspirational shit on this forum.  "TV's Hottest Milfs" and the piece about me failing as a high school hurdler don't scream inspirational man.  Regardless, I hope throughout my life enough people can see the positives that a bring to the table that someone, somewhere can think of me as a role model.  Yes, me.  A 23 year-old foul-mouthed blogger who writes about basketball, Boardwalk Empire, Leo DiCaprio, Jay Cutler as a role model, dinosaurs, my sweaty dad, hating LeBron, rapper ad libs, stalkers, and the value of flash over fundamentals.  Yeah, that guy.  That guy is also a recent college graduate from Oakland who cares deeply about people from all walks of life, and has lived his life trying to have a positive impact on everyone he's met.  He's not always succeeded, but damn it, he's tried.  I don't think of myself a role model because of what I've written or what I've accomplished.  But I do think of myself as someone people could look up to because of my approach to things.  In everything I attempt to do I make sure I give my all.  I treat everyone equally regardless of sex, race, religion, orientation or ability.  I'm proud of my roots and am thankful for every person who has had an impact on my life.  I live my life to be happy, and I never hesitate when I have the choice to do something that will help me reach that goal.

#TeamNoHesitation was not born in some glorious scene where I discovered my purpose in life.  No, it was actually in a frat party in San Jose.  (I know, right?)  It was the summer of 2013 and I was single at the time.  I did what single people did when they're 20 years old.  I went to house parties, had some drinks, talked to girls, hit some... medicine, and then went to work the next morning.  It was a good summer.  Sometime during that summer, my dude Rich tells me to come down with him to San Jose State for a party.  Now, I think that was a girl's birthday party, but I'm not so sure because... drinks.  That party did get shut down by one time, so me and Rich migrated to a frat party not so far from where we were.  This party was coo.  Wasn't as crowded as the last, but there were plenty of girls and some good music playing.  As the girls danced and moved in front of the DJ there was a crowd of frat guys on the outskirts looking on.  They were talking to each other, trying to pump each other up on how to approach these girls to dance.  They were second guessing themselves.  They were hesitating.

I was pretty well versed in catching twerk at the time.  I had been to my fair share of functions, including one of the Project X functions in Oakland.  So I knew what I was going to do once I got on that dance floor.  But out of respect I wanted to let these guys do their thing.  It was their frat house and I pride myself on etiquette.  But then a light bulb went off in my head.  (It was a blurry light bulb and it swayed back and forth, but it was speaking to me.)  I couldn't wait on these guys for me to do what I set out to do, which was to catch some twerk.  So I went forward and approached the baddest girl I could find and I did what I did best.  And I had a blast.  Then I did that some more with other girls at this party.  After the party my homeboy and I were laughing at frat guys' resentment toward me.  They were salty that I came in out of nowhere and caught all the twerk.  I responded with a cocky, "Team No Hesitation."  And just like that, a mantra was born.

Are you telling us this phrase that you're trying to pass off as an inspirational mantra was born out of a frat party where you caught a lot of twerk?  Yes.  That's exactly what I'm saying.  At first this was just something that I would say at parties or at a night out.  It was really just about having a good time and enjoying myself.  It was like my version of YOLO, except I hated saying YOLO.  (I was never a huge Drake fan.)  But it evolved into something more than that.  If I could approach my life the same way I approached a night out then I could be happier.  If I knew a certain decision would make me happier in the end, why not take that chance?  Why wait for other people's approval if I knew that's what I wanted?  You can't seriously be saying making a career choice is the same as deciding whether to to be the first or last person in a game of flip cup?  Not exactly.  But the principle is the same.  Now, I'm not saying live your life with reckless abandon.  By all means, don't drink and drive, and wear a condom, bruh.  I am saying take some risks and once you've made your decision, don't let fear get in your way of following through.    If you want to make a career change or you want to get married or you want to travel the world, take a chance and go for it.  (Doesn't apply if you want to become a ghost hunter, marry a serial killer, or want to move to Sacramento.)

When I started this blog I didn't really have any writing experience.  I mean, all my writing came from class assignments, though I had dabbled in the creative side.  In the 5th grade I wrote a comic about a superhero that was half dinosaur, half teenager named Dino-Man, and I had already come up with a tale about a ghost in college.  I also had a poem about ninjas published into Prisms.  (My friend Omar will swear to you that he wrote that poem for me.  He's only half right.)  But I never did anything like this.  People on the internet were going to be able to click on this link and read what I have to say.  The moment as I was about to publish my first post was nerve-racking.  I wasn't sure anyone would even read it, much less like it.  But I went for it and put myself out there.  People read it and they told me they liked it.  I kept on doing it and every once in a while people would give me positive feedback.  It's been four years now and I'm still out here doing my thing.  I don't even need the positive feedback anymore to motivate me.  (But please, please shower me with compliments.)

 My blog is just a small example of me living life without hesitation.  If you want a grander example, look no further than my time in LA.  When I was deciding where to go to for colleges, one of the things I was interested in doing was moving to Los Angeles.  I thought there were a lot of career opportunities in LA that I couldn't find at home, but more importantly I wanted to force myself to get away from my comfort zone.  I thought that by being in Los Angeles away from my friends and family I would have to learn to grow up and become a man, and learn it quickly.  I didn't know anyone in the area and it was a scary decision to make.  I can imagine how KD must have felt when he was deciding which team to choose in free agency.  But I felt that LA was the place I needed to be for the next four (turned out to be five) years, so without hesitation I chose Dominguez Hills.  (Pretty sure Kevin Durant thought of me when he woke up on Fourth of July and yelled out, "#TeamNoHesitation" as he dialed Bob Myers' number.)  Not going to lie, LA was a tough place for me.  I went through a lot of hard times and Dominguez Hills had a way of making things very tough for me.  But in the end my experiences there shaped me to be the person I am now, which I think is better than the person who left home in 2011.  I'm at another crossroads now.  I'm graduated from college and I'm looking to start my career.  To be honest I could play this safe and get a regular 9 to 5 with a cubicle and all that.  But I want to enjoy the work I do and I don't want it to be easy.  Whatever comes next, I'm ready to face it head on with No Hesitation.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Golden Birthday

I turned 23 on the 23rd.  That's a golden birthday.  I cared about that briefly when I was, like, 5. Well, now I care again.  Sure, it's not one of the big birthdays.  I'm didn't turn 21 or 25, and I didn't throw myself a big fiesta for this birthday.  (To be fair I never do.)  But it is fun to think about me reaching 23 years.  I feel a little relieved if anything.  I'm sitting here at this computer lab just thinking on my journey to this birthday.  Wow, it's been quite a ride.  Really, it has.  This last year was pretty interesting.  I got to work for the Special Olympics World Games and see the Golden State Warriors fulfill my dream and win a championship.  They made another Jurassic Park movie and a new Star Wars movie.  So yeah, I liked year 22.

To be honest I' just grateful I made it this far.  Now, I know I sound dramatic and shit, but I'm serious.  There is an alternate universe where I don't get to see the Dubs' championship parade, Jurassic World and everything else good in life.  The car accident happened 20 years ago and that could have gone many different ways.  I mean, I fell out of the bed of a pick-up truck on the freeway.  I was 3.  You run that scenario back 10 times and I'm not sure I come out of that the same way.  I have no brain damage (that I'm aware of) and I am still breathing.  I don't remember the car accident at all.  I remember the truck I was in and that's it.  Everything I know about the accident was told to me by my mother and my grandma.  All I know is that I was in the bed of the pick-up truck because I wanted to be with my uncle and that a chopper picked me up and took my to the hospital.  My souvenir of the whole ordeal is a few scars on my head from hitting the pavement.

The big scar sits on the left side of my face next to my eye.  It's maybe two inches long, though I think it's gotten smaller over the years.  (That, or my head got bigger.)  I remember growing up everyone and their momma used to come up to me to ask me about the scar.  Everyone in my second grade class eventually asked me the story of the scar.  It made me hate the scar.  I hated being bothered about it, and I hated telling the same damn story over and over again.  I hated that when I used to get haircuts my mom used to ask the barber to leave one side a little longer to cover up some of the scars.  Now, nobody really asks me about the scar.  Either people stopped noticing or they stopped caring.  I'm cool with either.  On occasion somebody will ask me about the scar.  They tend to expect some story about me getting in a knife fight, especially when they hear that I'm from Oakland.  I realize that I can probably lie about the scar and tell some bad ass story about it, but I never do.  Plus, if Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video has taught me anything, it's that all knife fights end in dance numbers.

This being my 23rd year alive I'm coincidentally celebrating my 20th anniversary with my scar.  Did you know that the 20th anniversary is the China anniversary?  Fitting, because I've said for a while I need new dishes at the house.  In the 20 years we've been together I've grown to appreciate my scar.  I'm no longer embarrassed by it.  I look at it like a symbol of my survival.  I'm alive and I'm healthy.  I was given a second chance at life.  I don't know what God has planned for me, but I'm grateful He kept me alive.  I don't take anything for granted, and I try to enjoy life more than stress over it.  And for as long as I'm alive I want to be a positive force in people's lives.  I want to add to their happiness rather than take away from it.  That's been my attitude for year 22 and it will continue to be my attitude for year 23.  I heard your golden year is supposed to be the best year of your life.  It would be hard to top last year, but I'm optimistic.  That being said, I don't want that to be my peak.  Let's keep this run of good fortune going!  Four more years! Four more years!

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdomon the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Leo's Quest

Award season is in full swing and Leonardo DiCaprio has a movie out.  That can only mean one thing: everyone and their momma is wondering if this is finally the year that Leo reaches the promised land and win himself an Oscar.  And he really has a shot this year.  He stars in The Revenant and is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in Leading Role.  It's his 4th nomination in that category and 5th nomination overall.  (Leo was nominated for a Supporting Actor role for What's Eating Gilbert Grape.)  I heard a lot of great things about The Revenant so I went to the nearest AMC and peeped game.  Let me tell you, I was blown away.  It was an absolutely breath-taking, gorgeous movie.  I thought Alejandro González Iñárritu did a superb job directing Birdman last year, but he outdid himself this time.  Talk about a cinematic masterpiece.  Just beautifully shot from start to finish.  Plus, as co-president of the Tracking Shot Appreciation Club, (Omar De La Cruz is the other), I found myself drooling over what can only be described as tracking shots galore!  I'm calling it right now.  Your back to back Best Achievement in Directing Winner, Alejandro!  (Did I mention he's Mexican?!?)

Look, I don't want to get into a whole movie review about The Revenant.  I'm here to talk Leo.  If you want to read a great review about this film check out Liz Medrano's page.  Her take on the film is better than anything I could have come up with.  The only thing I can really say is that I personally loved and it earned the coveted Guapo Stamp of Approval.  The Revenant has a good chance of winning an Oscar.  I think Best Director is a lock.  Where does this leave Leo?  Does he deserve to hold that gold statue?  This was a really good performance by Leo.  I mean, this was some gritty shit he was pulling off.  So my next question then is, should we be rooting for DiCaprio to take home the gold?

You're looking at this question like I'm an asshole for bringing this up, but let me just start by saying I am rooting for the guy.  I love Leonardo DiCaprio!  He's the perfect mix of bankable movie star and great actor.  (Yes, there's a difference.  Tom Cruise is a movie star with some acting chops, Sean Penn is a great actor who you wouldn't exactly put on your blockbuster movie poster.)  I do want Leonardo to get his Oscar.  I think he already should have an Oscar.  Nobody could have played Jordan Belfort better than Leo.  I can't think of one actor who would have done a better job in The Wolf of Wall Street.  But McConaughey was riding a hot streak and was amazing in Dallas Buyers Club.  That's nobody's fault.  Leo has been a consistently great actor since the 90's and has an amazing IMDb page mixed with heavy box office hitters like Titanic and Inception and Oscar darlings like The Departed and Titanic.  (Titanic held the box office record for at least a decade and took home 11 Oscars including Best Picture.)  If Leonardo DiCaprio is starring in your film, you're either going to make a lot of money or take home some awards.  Sometimes both.  I want that guy to be rewarded.  But I find myself arguing the other way.  Hold on a sec.  Let me just play Devil's advocate here.  (No Keanu Reeves.)  Wouldn't it be better if the Oscars didn't give Leo the Oscar?  (GASP!)

Okay, somebody just threw a brick through my window.  Windows ain't cheap!  Somebody is going to have to pay for that!  But hear me out.  I have legitimate reasons of why the Academy should withhold giving Leo that golden statuette.  Yes, one of the reasons is because I am an asshole who takes pleasure in the misery of others.  I'm the type of person who would laugh at a fat kid getting stuck in a Chuck E. Cheese playpen.  On Tumblr I follow a page called The Agony of Defeat, which is just a series of photos capturing the the absolute anguish of athletes losing competitions and games.  In the words of Alfred, some men just want to watch the world burn.  But again, I like Leo.  I thought his Golden Globes speech about how the stories of the indigenous peoples needs to be told was a powerful statement that needed to be said.  I'm glad he's the one who said it.  And quite frankly the Academy has done him dirty with snubs.  Enough to post another edition of The Art of Getting Snubbed.  Some of them I get.  He wasn't going to beat Forest Whitaker for his portrayal of Idi Amin.  But how was he not even nominated for The Departed?  But since Leo is no stranger to snubs, why even break the cycle.  We have good thing going!  Leo makes a great movie, we love it, Leo does not get an Oscar, he makes another great movie.  He's like the Wile E. Coyote of actors.

Plus, with every snub he gets it feels like he just wants it more.  The longer the Academy holds out on him the more extreme his roles are going to get.  This last movie he was attacked by a bear, saw his son get murdered, and was left for dead in the cold snow.  Leo will go further than this!  He just needs a little push.  In a few years he might play a blind, gay guy who wants to be a boxer.  In 10 years he might pull a Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder and play a black guy.  Can you see Leo play Walter in a movie remake of A Raisin in the Sun?  Can you see the Academy nominate him and then crush his dream and not give him the gold?  Can you see the Academy nominate him, but not any of the cast played by black actors? (Serious, though.  The Academy does have a race issue.  Even deeper than that, I think Hollywood has a race issue.)  I want to see how deep this rabbit hole goes.  I think we owe it to ourselves to root for an Oscar hungry Leo to keep almost getting there.  Let's face it, Leo not having any Oscars is such a fun talking point.  It makes the Oscars that much more interesting.  Remember how fun it was to talk about LeBron before he had rings?  That's Leo right now. 

Suppose Leo did win an Oscar for the Revenant.  I see only two possible outcomes.  Scenario 1:  Leo wins an Oscar.  He gives a gracious speech about how hard he's worked.  He thanks everyone who was involved with the project.  He gives another speech about the stories of the indigenous.  He continues to make great movies for years to come.  He possibly wins one ore two more Oscars throughout his career.  That sounds good, right?  Well, let's look at scenario 2: Leo wins an Oscar.  He gives a Kanye-esque speech about he's the greatest of all time and the embodiment of art.  Throws a party that goes way over budget.  Begrudgingly agrees to make a Revenant 2.  That movie obviously flops.  It flops harder than Vincent Chase's Medellin.  Already having an Oscar, Leo just gets lazy and stops working for a while until they cut the lights out in his house.  He decides to work for Tidal as Director of Marketing to make some dough while he waits for new projects to find him.  He ultimately decides that Grown Ups 3 is his best option.  Leo plays the new mailman who is trying to steal Sandler's hot wife.  Grown Ups 3 gets nominated for an Academy Award: Achievement in Sound Mixing.  Leo spends the twilight of his career making Lifetime movies.  Is this what we want for Leo?!?  Save Leonardo DiCaprio; don't give him an Oscar.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdomon the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!