Sunday, October 31

music, movies, books.

Here's a little of what I've been into for the last couple of weeks that I've been here in New Zealand. If you can't view the videos, try clicking the links. (Some videos only have rights in certain countries.)
Lissie somehow manages to be dually nonchalant with her lack of pronunciation, yet full of emotion with her vocal range. The Illinois native is currently on tour in Europe, and I'd love if she made her way down to this island because she's made of talent.

Florence and the Machine is strange and unique; this woman has definite vocal power. She's influenced by Tom Waits and Nick Cave (awesome) which you can hear sometimes barely grazing the edges of her songs. The most well known song is probably "Dog Days Are Over" because I think it made it's way onto a few commercials/movies, but I like this one the best.

Tinie Tempah is an English rapper that is pretty popular here in NZ, the linked song "Written in the Stars" also features Eric Turner of Street Fighting Man out of Stockholm (that SFM link has a couple free downloads too).

Once Were Warriors is a NZ film about the native Maori culture. For some reason I could only find the trailer with French subtitles. It's a very intense film and includes vulgarity and brutality, but I'd definitely recommend watching it.

James A Michener's "The Covenant" was given to me by a friend here in NZ. It is a novel depicting the history of South Africa (that's where this friend grew up). It's wide range of characters and stories from different regions and time periods, and it keeps my interest successfully. I'm only currently around page 200, meaning I have over a thousand more to go, and I look forward to enjoying the rest of it.

Cheers :-)

Sunday, October 17

here comes the sun

It's 8am on Monday morning. I've been in New Zealand for three full days now, and after having an eventful weekend, I'm ready to relax.

I left Minneapolis on Wednesday morning. I had a short and easy flight to Los Angeles. When I arrived in LA, my absolute dearest friend from the West who I hadn't seen in almost a year, Cassandra, picked me up from LAX. It was like we'd never parted, and we slipped into comfort mode for some laughs, some burgers, some margaritas (with our friends Brandon and Lauren), some hugs, and she sent me on my way later that night. I flew about 13 hours to New Zealand, into the northern coastal city of Auckland. My friend Jarrod was there to pick me up. He grew up in NZ, our paths crossed in LA last year where we both were studying, and have stayed in contact since.

We ate breakfast at a small bistro. It's been a while since I've had quality seafood (it's rare in the Midwest, of course) so that tickled me right away. After exploring Auckland for a bit, we headed down through the stunning green spring landscape and took a rest stop at Mount Maunganui, an East Coast beach. We took a stroll on the beach, which goes right up to a cliff (I love that contrast). Then, we got back on the road and cruised to Lake Rotorua where we stayed for the night.

In the early morning, we went to the Rotoma hot springs (a geothermally heated spring). When I first dipped my toes in, it was the temperature similar to a hot tub. Walking in slowly to adjust to the warmth of the water, I could feel the pebbles beneath my feet, not yet ground into sand. Then, as I walked through the springs (which are only about waist deep) I would get random gusts of cool water brushing up against me. When the water was too hot, I'd swim over to find one of those cool spots. When I'd float on my back with all but my face immersed, the tiny bubbles that flow from the floor would roll along my body until they found the open air. I'm not sure how long we were there, but the sun was eventually fully risen, and we were warm from it and from the waters, so we took a long drive through corridors of trees and up and down gravel roads through hills of grazing sheep.

We took some necessary stops then, getting some Hell's Pizza and buying a camera.  (I haven't been taking as many pictures as I should be, but I'll try a bit harder from now on.) After the camera purchase, we took off to Gisborne which is a nice chill beach town on the Mid-Eastern coast. I met a few of Jarrod's friends there: Marcel, Nigel, and Cam. When we first arrived we went to the shop that Marcel runs and he made us some delicious food. We walked down to the beach, and later met up at Nigel and Marcel's house. I had a wonderful time drinking a locally made red wine and sharing music and stories.

On the road again, yesterday we came down to the small town of Waipukurau where Jarrod is staying for the moment in a house with his friend Brad. I'll be staying here for the next week or so until I figure out where I'm off to next, and I'll keep you posted! Cheers!

Monday, October 4

Guru: Disperser of Darkness

The realization that I would never get to laugh with my dear cousin Gu again was instantly heartbreaking, and the aching overflowed. The moments we’ve shared together in our lives came rushing at me. An image of the warm bright smile that was often plastered on his face has been giving me comfort among this storm. That smile would peak right as he would burst out in a bellied laugh. I have many memories of our childhoods together, whether it was a holiday gathering, a Sanibel Island vacation, art camp or army camp, we were always silly and mischievous children together. My fondest and most vivid memories of Gu are the ones made most recently.
We once stopped at Starbucks to use their internet (after Bhag’s GPS took us in most comical circles around the Norfolk airport). While I was checking on my flight, Gu politely stated that he was going to be back momentarily. When he came back, something was different about him. I stared for a minute, and we laughed so hard when I realized that he had just shaved his moustache off in the Starbucks bathroom. Just for fun. This is an excellent portrayal of an aspect of him that I absolutely loved: his sense of spontaneity. For instance, he nonchalantly orders hot chocolate at a restaurant, even though we’re still sweating from the immense heat outside on the walk over.

He was just over one year older than me, but set aside our goofy moments, and I looked up to him as a wise man. Gu’s philosophies of life were so interesting to me and the deepness of his thoughts always amazed me. His talent and knowledge never surprised me, but often comforted me. When there was nothing on the radio he recited from memory Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, The Raven, without missing a beat and with perfect expression of each word, each line. He would recite it in his head at night when he couldn’t fall asleep. While sharing a room at the beach house this summer, we went to the midnight viewing of a film (based around the complexity of the human dream) and when we returned to our beds, rather than dream, we just talked about dreams for hours. Gu is in my dreams and will be in my heart always. I now see him in every color-changing autumn leaf, in every vast field, in each bright moon, and in each brisk wind. His name, Guru, means disperser of darkness. He gives me a reason to smile brilliantly, sing abundantly, and laugh hysterically.

 Guru Meher Singh Khalsa 1988-2010