Personal Thoughts

The Perfect Playlist: The Best of Basia

The modern playlist is the descendant of the mix tape. And like my mix tapes, I make a significant effort to make sure they are right—and by right, I mean that there is a certain cohesion and shared texture that inspires me. What I love about digital versus tape is the great flexibility for experimentation (though, sometimes I do miss walking around Manhattan with my old yellow cassette Sports Walkman). The playlist featured in this blog entry was easier to compile because it features one artist. I first created my “Best of Basia” playlist in 2005, and have updated it with each new album.

I have been a fan of Basia since 1990, when she released her second solo album, London Warsaw New York. I became aware of her because of her superb cover of “Until You Come Back to Me.” I remember using one of the listening stations in Tower Records to listen to the album, which I purchased on vinyl. London Warsaw New York had other remarkable songs such as “Cruising for Bruising,” “Brave New Hope,” and “Baby You’re Mine.” Four years later she followed up with the brilliant The Sweetest Illusion, which features, what I consider to be her masterwork, “Yearning.” Around this time, I finally picked up her first solo album, Time and Tide, which features the title track as well as “New Day for You.”

In 1995 Basia released a live album, Basia on Broadway— a vocal tour de force! Three years later, she released a greatest hits album with several new songs.

Basia would reunite with her Matt Bianco bandmates (her first band) in 2004 on Matt’s Mood and finally release another solo album in 2009 with the beautiful composed and arranged, It’s That Girl Again. Her latest release is Butterflies, which is nothing short of outstanding. I recently updated my Best of Basia playlist to include tracks from Butterflies. Let me know if you like this combination!

  1. “If Not Now Then When” from It’s That Girl Again
  2. “I Must” from It’s That Girl Again
  3. “From Newport to London” from Newport to London
  4. “Matteo” from Butterflies
  5. “Just Another Day” from Peter White’s Caravan of Dreams
  6. “From Now On (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  7. “Half a Minute (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  8. “Yearning” from The Sweetest Illusion
  9. “There’s a Tear” from It’s That Girl Again
  10. “It’s That Girl Again” from It’s That Girl Again
  11. “Liang & Zhu” from Butterflies
  12. “Butterfly” from Butterflies
  13. “Waters of March” from Clear Horizon
  14. “Go for You” from Clear Horizon
  15. “Astrud” from Time and Tide
  16. “Where’s Your Pride” from Butterflies
  17. “Baby Your Mine” from London Warsaw New York
  18. “The Prayer of a Happy Housewife” from The Sweetest Illusion
  19. “An Olive Tree” from The Sweetest Illusion
  20. “Reward (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  21. “Until You Come Back To Me” from Basia on Broadway
  22. “Brave New Hope” from Basia on Broadway

Click here to visit Basia’s website!

edwinroman.com

 

 

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Halloween Movie Picks 2018

I love Halloween. Psychology Today interestingly noted that it best holiday because we don’t have to worry about it.

“Nobody frets about being lonely, abandoned, heartbroken, alienated, or bereft on Halloween.”

When I am not donning a costume, one of my favorite things to do is to load up on the horror and thriller films. Below are my 2018 recommendations currently available on various streaming services (I cut the cord three years ago).

Let me know if you have seen any of these. Let me know if see any based on my recommendations. I would love to hear your thoughts. And be sure to explore my recommendations from the previous two years: 2017 and 2016.

The below film titles are linked to their respective trailers.

Netflix:

47 Meters Down: Two young women are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean with less than an hour of oxygen and sharks circling. Claustrophobic with hungry sharks!

Gerald’s Game: While trying to spice up their marriage in a remote house, a woman must fight to survive when her husband unexpectedly dies, leaving her handcuffed to the bed. You can’t help but think of what you do in that situation. Also, you may actually think twice about letting someone tie you up for fun.

As Above So Below: When a team of treasure hunters venture into the Paris catacombs and discover more than they bargained for. Seriously claustrophobic and the scenes where they emphasize that are the best.

Classics you may have missed that are available on Netflix: The Shining (my go to film during a snowstorm); Hellbound (Horror S & M); Interview with The Vampire (Brad Pitt as Louie and Tom Cruise, who gave an unexpectedly superb performance, as Lestat in the film based on the classic Anne Rice book of the same name).

Honorable mentions featured last year that are still available: Train to Busan, Death Note and The Void.

Amazon Prime:

The Skeleton Key: A young nurse cares for a mute senior citizen in an old, remote and really creepy Louisiana plantation. She discovers the family’s dark and dangerous past.

The Stepford Wives (1975): An aspiring photographer and full time housewife has come to the little town of Stepford, Connecticut with her family, from New York City and discovers a sinister secret in the flawless demeanor of the other wives. This film has aged really well.

The Strangers: A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants. After seeing this film, soft knocks on the door will scare you for months to come.

Stir of Echoes: After being hypnotized a man begins seeing a girl’s ghost in his home and works to solve her murder.

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist: I was not sure about including this because it is one of those films that has an excellent concept, but is not executed well. Interestingly, there are two versions of this film (the other being called, Exorcist: The Beginning) and the other also has an excellent concept, but is poorly executed. The film takes place about 20 years before Father Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil’s soul in The Exorcist. The film details his first encounters with the demon Pazuzu in post-World War II Africa.

The Cell: I actually reviewed this film 18 years ago when I worked at the now defunct, on-line magazine Latiknow. I recently saw it and was impressed with how well it has aged. It is a masterwork of surrealism that stars Jennifer Lopez at the height of her powers. She plays a social worker who is experienced with technology that allows here to enter the mind of a serial killer who is in a coma.

The Satanic Rights of Dracula: I have always loved Christopher Lee’s Dracula films. They have this wonderful texture and excellent gothic horror.

Horror Express: Speaking of Christopher Lee, he stars as a British anthropologist who discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train. But is the creature frozen?

The Woman in Black: A young clerk travels to a remote village where he encounters the vengeful ghost who is terrorizing the locals. The direction on this film is nothing short of brilliant.

Daybreakers: A plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a blood shortage, the vampires plot their survival, while a researcher works on a way to save humankind. Sleek and modern stainless steel horror.

Hulu:

The Others: A woman who lives in her darkened family mansion with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that the home is haunted. But is it?

Blow Out: John Travolta stars as a movie sound recordist who accidentally records a car accident which turns out to be a murder and eventually finds himself in danger. Terrific 1970s horror.

Insomnia: Brilliant performances from Robin Williams and Al Pacino. Pacino stars as a detective dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn’t set to investigate the murder of a local teen.

I am actually still exploring some other films listed on Hulu’s Huluween and may have an addendum to this blog entry. If I do, it will be before Halloween.

Frightpix:

Firghtpix, which is a completely free, but loaded with commercials, streaming service, has the following worth watching:

You’re Next: A family is attacked but the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims has an unknown talent for fighting back.

 

edwinroman.com

P.S. I need to write this blog today. After all of the domestic terrorism we experienced this week, I needed the escape.

 

 

A New Yorker in New Mexico: Seeing Red, A Photo Essay

The first time I ever saw red rocks was in 2006 when I traveled to Las Vegas and visited Red Rock Canyon. I was in Vegas to see the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, commemorating the 40th anniversary.  Other than the Experience, I found Vegas to be largely tasteless and mind-numbing. Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam provided a relief from the smoke-filled overstimulated atmosphere. Red Rock Canyon really made an impression as did the areas outside of the city. It was the first time I had ever experienced the desert and the kind of silence and stillness it offers.

The following year, in 2007, was when I first visited New Mexico. I immediately fell in love! I can recall driving from the Albuquerque Sunport to my hotel in Bernalillo with my eye constantly being drawn to the Sandia Mountains (which still happens). On the third day of that trip, I explored the Jemez Mountain trail and it was here that I first saw New Mexican red rocks. They are nothing short of spectacular. The color is shockingly beautiful. On my third trip in 2018, I saw even more New Mexican red rocks, most notably on my drive to the Ghost Ranch. As I noted in my previous blog entry, the desert varies around the state. I found this to be also true, visually, of the New Mexican red rocks. I did a little research to find out why.

A disclaimer: I am an artist and not a scientist. However, I have a layperson’s interest in science and have done my best to preset reliable information in this blog entry. What I am doing here is trying to get answers to my own observations while presenting artistic photographs. Art and science can co-exist. If you don’t think so, please read this article on Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Back to the New Mexican red rocks!

According to the Earth Science Club of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology the Earth is made mainly of rocks arranged in three concentric layers. The Earth’s crust contains the rocks we see at the surface. Most rocks are a collection of one or more minerals, but some contain noncrystalline inorganic material (like obsidian) or organic material (such as coal). The ultimate origin of all rocks in the Earth’s crust is the mantle (magma or lava), space (meteorites), or organisms such as plants and animals (organic matter).

According this publication by the NMT Earth Science Club, it notes that the red rocks I saw on the Jemez Trail / Route 4, are rhyolite, an igneous-volcanic type of rock. Interestingly, rhyolite will commonly scratch a knife or hammer. While the red rocks I saw around Abiquiú are sandstone a clastic sedimentary rock composed primarily of quartz grains that may be stained red, brown, pink, or yellow from iron oxides.

I love red rocks and seeing them on a grand scale is an experience I recommend.  I think, in part, I love New Mexican red rocks because they remind me of classic New York red bricks. I hope my pictures properly capture these gorgeous colors of nature.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

edwinroman.com

A New Yorker in New Mexico: A Photo Essay

New Mexico. Those who know me well have heard me endlessly rave lovingly about this magical place. New Mexicans refer to their state as, “the land of enchantment” — and it is exactly that! It has culture, diverse landscapes, friendly people and excellent food. July 2018 marked my third visit, but it was my first trip with the intention to create. I have always been inspired by New Mexico and thought that I should properly incorporate it into my art. On this trip, I also discovered something else that fosters this inspiration.

On the evening I arrived in Santa Fe, I noticed a storm brewing in the distance. I watched this marvelous lightning show, with great awe, for about twenty minutes. Later, when I returned to my room, I received an alert via the Weather Channel app about a storm in Bernalillo, located fifty miles away. I couldn’t believe that I could see that very storm from such a distance. I then realized that this is the other way New Mexico inspires me: it expands my sight.

Growing up and living in New York City, in a way, has limited my sight. Yes, New York City is interesting (though becoming less so because of the rampant gentrification), but my eyes work in a very focused way. On the ground level, buildings (and even upstate with the trees) force your vision to work in a much narrower way. In New Mexico, my eyes have to adjust and go into the rarely used wide-angle mode. Before visiting New Mexico, I have never been able to see such distances on land before. I found that it is a great way to open your mind: via an expansion of the senses.

On this trip, I visited places like Taos, Abiquiú, Ponderosa, Cuba, Jemez, White Rock and Bernalillo. I found that the desert in Abiquiú is different from the desert in White Rock. I approached this creative trip taking inspiration from two websites I visit regularly: Wandering New York and New Mexico Nomad. Think of this blog entry as, “Edwin Wanders New Mexico!” I hope you enjoy these photos.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018. As seen at Taos Pueblo.

Abiquiú Red Rocks, Edwin Roman 2018.

Abiquiú Red Rocks, Edwin Roman 2018.

Bandelier Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018.

Bandelier Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018.

Cliffside Cacti. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Cliffside Cacti. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Forever by Allan Houser. Photographed by Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.

Forever by Allan Houser. Photographed by Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.

Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.

Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.

The Ascent. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Bottom of the Sandia Peak Tram.

The Ascent. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Bottom of the Sandia Peak Tram.

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.

Green and Red. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4.

Green and Red. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4.

San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel Detail. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel Detail. Edwin Roman 2018.

Kokopelli Plays! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

Kokopelli Plays! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

A View of Taos Pueblo. Edwin Roman 2018.

A View of Taos Pueblo. Edwin Roman 2018.

Art of Life Gallery. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos.

Art of Life Gallery. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos.

Vintage Cars in Ponderosa. Edwin Roman 2018.

Vintage Cars in Ponderosa. Edwin Roman 2018.

On Washington and East Palace. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

On Washington and East Palace. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018

In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018

Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Santa Fe Windows. Edwin Roman 2018.

Santa Fe Windows. Edwin Roman 2018.

Ponderosa Color Splash. Edwin Roman 2018.

Ponderosa Color Splash. Edwin Roman 2018.

Hey, Buds Below! Up is Where to Grow! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Hey, Buds Below! Up is Where to Grow! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the top of the Sandia Mountains.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the top of the Sandia Mountains.

Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.

Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.

 

I will be posting more pictures in the coming weeks on my Flickr page.

 

edwinroman.com

The Perfect Playlist: E’s Spanish Jazz 3

Not too long ago my best friend from college sent me a picture of a mix tape that I made for her in 1988 which she remarkably still has. I titled it “Past Tense” after a poem I had written back then. I lost the notebook where I had written that poem, but remembered some of the lines. I also remembered some of the songs on that tape, most notably on all of side a.

vader tape

Social media humor.

The playlist is the descendant of the mix tape. And like my mix tapes, I make a significant effort to make sure they are right. What I mean by right is that there is a certain cohesion and shared texture; it takes me on a journey and inspires. What I love about digital versus tape is flexibility for experimentation. Though, sometimes I do miss walking around Manhattan with my old yellow cassette Sports Walkman.

Interestingly, I made some mix tapes that I thought were so good, that I remembered them and they now exist as playlists on my iPhone / iPod. I thought I would share some of my favorite playlists on my blog. Here is my first one called “E’s Spanish Jazz 3.” It mixes several Spanish language genres. It is also the third and my favorite version of the “Spanish Jazz” playlists. I have included links to YouTube so you can hear the songs for yourself and maybe add it to your own device.

  1. La Pluma by Bloque
  2. La nave del olvido by Buika
  3. Remedios by Gertrudis
  4. Sultanas de Merkaillo by Ojos de Brjuo
  5. Sabor a Mi by Bebo Valdes
  6. Lo Siento Mi Amor by Rocio Jurado
  7. Un Mundo Raro by Lila Downs and Diego El Cigala
  8. Awakeing by The Souljazz Orchestra
  9. Che Che Cole by Antibalas
  10. La Media Vuelta by Falete
  11. Romance de la Luna Tucumana by Diego El Cigala
  12. Tangos De Pepico by Estrella Moraente
  13. Sabor a Mi by El Chicano
  14. Quiereme Mucho by Linda Ronstadt
  15. Querido Emigrante by Milly Quezada
  16. Idiilio by Willie Colon
  17. Bajo La Tormenta by Sergio George’s Salsa Giants
  18. Perfume de Gardenias by Miguel Zenon

P.S. I have about ten versions of “Sabor a Mi”—it is amazing song that many recording artists have covered and I have yet to hear one I have not liked!

P.S. II La nave del olvido by Buika is in my top ten all-time favorite songs!

 

edwinroman.com

Book Review: I Hope You Fall In Love

The well-known quote of not judging a book by its cover unequivocally applies to I Hope You Fall in Love. A collection of poetry and prose written by R YS Pérez, this book is not the lovey-dovey schmaltz that the cover would initially lead you to believe.

Pérez dedicates the book to “those who love hard and those who are afraid to.” In her introduction, she notes that she has a problem when it comes to writing: “I only seem to write when I am falling in love or falling apart.” She then brilliantly notes that, “…writing is all about divergent thinking colliding with a hurricane of emotions.” She makes another analogy to love as weather when she writes, “Love no longer becomes a feeling – it becomes a storm.” Love is as unpredictable and powerful as the weather. We try to make sense of the weather, why not try to make sense of love— and that is what Pérez is doing in I Hope You Fall in Love.

Throughout the book there are brief, but notable, one paragraph diary entries. The most outstanding was dated 6 October 2016 (Pérez writes the date as it would appear in Spanish, where the day is written first and not the month as in American English):

“My sister asked me “Do you love someone all the time?”’ And it was one of those moments when I realized I could say something profound. So, I took a deep breath, thought about it. No, I said, sometimes you’ll want to strangle them more than you love them. But then it passes, and you’ll love them even more.”

Absolute truth! When you truly love someone, they can drive you mad. As Olympia Dukakis’ Rose said to Cher’s Loretta in the classic film, Moonstruck, “When you love ’em, they drive you crazy. ‘Cause they know they can.”

Pérez’s exploration of love is not just limited to romantic love. She explores the love of family (even writing to an unborn, future daughter), connecting with your roots as well as love of country.

“My family is like America; we are blend of melanin and uncertain borders.”

“My family is like America; a country of tolerance, and so many other things all at once. A beautiful mess of so many complexities. My family is like America; or at least the America I would like to be in.”

Pérez also bravely bears out her insecurities in the section of prose titled “The Color Brown.”

“I wanted to embody what I loved about my favorite colors, to be bright and lovely.”

Later in the poem titled, “My Skin: Take Pride in It”, Pérez takes on whitewashing via self-exploration:

“The color of the surface of my skin

tinted like windows,

mocking the sun,

creating artificial nightfall creeping across

my skin.”

“You dread because you want to rid yourself of the ancestral bond…”

Ultimately, in spite of what she detailed in “The Color Brown”, Pérez accepts who she is in “My Skin: Take Pride in It”,

“But I could never find myself

to be ashamed

of my beautiful cinnamon brown

skin.”

I Hope You Fall in Love is Pérez’s first book (she is one to watch). At times, it feels a bit all of the place while concurrently feeling cohesive—and that is its genius! It brilliantly captures the wide-ranging feelings love can provoke in a very personal, but relatable way. I Hope You Fall in Love really stayed with me in that it got me to thinking about past romantic relationships, my relationships with friends, family and deceased loved ones for several days after I completed it.

Going back to my initial feelings on the cover, I was absolutely wrong about its simplicity. Like the book, there is a great deal of complexity in the cover. Love, like the web-like suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, can be confusing, but when properly anchored, can hold you up.

 

Ms. Pérez’s web site is https://www.rebeccaysperez.com/ .

Ms. Pérez can also be found on Good Reads at https://www.goodreads.com/Becks-TheStoryBookGirl

 

I hope you fall in love cover e

Posing with my copy.

 

edwinroman.com

 

 

Coney Island Winter: A Photo Essay

Earlier this month, I made a long-overdue pilgrimage back to Coney Island. It was the first time I had visited during the off-season in about twenty years. It was also my first time ever visiting during the off-season with my camera. The ambiance during the off season is, of course, quite different. The amusement parks are empty and there not many people around. My eye was drawn to the beach and the ocean—I forgot how much I love that crisp, winter sea air! I hope this collection of photographs conveys that wonderfully peaceful feeling.

Brooklyn Eiffel Tower

Brooklyn Eiffel Tower

Underneath with the Tides

Underneath with the Tides

Pier Noir

Pier Noir

thunderbolt

Thunderbolt

Tidal Walk

A Tidal Walk

Seashell by the Brooklyn Shore

Brooklyn Seashell

Wavy Wood

Wavy Wood

Friend of the Gulls

Friend of the Gulls

Winter Pier

Winter Pier

Juan

One of the great things about living in New York City is that you get to meet people from all of the world—even on a cold, crisp day in Coney Island. I met Juan, who was a visitor from Argentina who agreed to pose for me.

Juan-scarf

Juan’s Scarf

Juan black and white 2

Juan views the Atlantic

Juan black and white front

One Last Picture

 

 

edwinroman.com