Evening-goer’s Delight

It’s been a while. I’ve been quite busy with things, some of which I like, but in the process had to sacrifice other things that I also like (like writing/blogging). I stepped away from my history book and outside the door for some fresh air. The twilight weather was…wow. It’s November here in California, which means it’s getting chillier, but on rare occasions, the weather and the atmosphere is like SUMMER again! And I was so overwhelmed that I had to jot down this poem to preserve the perfection. I’m happy to say that in those long busy autumn days, my poetic muse is still alive.

IMG_4482

***

My God! — the time is perfect

The time is NOW

The creamy twilight merges into

A homely conglomeration of serendipity

Earthly needs, they call me to stay

For if not, I’d just fade away

Into the raw serenity.

*

I sing a song of the crickets

The shy evening sky — oh, just ever-so-high!

To the one who flaunts November summers

Your warm breath frames a picture-perfect standstill

I forgot my sorrows

I forgot such things as tomorrows

There’s no WIND — just a looming, sweetly chill.

*

The strands of sun have tucked in, now

The air feels on my fingers — like a tender cheek

Let me lean on you, revel, BREATHE

I just don’t want to think, lest I cave

Cave to your impish cues

Yet your presence shines on in sunset hues

For you’re the one I desperately crave.

***

P.S: You know that picture up above? Yep, that one’s mine. I actually took it on my old ipod. And for an old ipod, I actually liked the way the picture turned out!

 

Advertisements

Life Is Not a Dream

low angle view of spiral staircase against black background
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you ever experienced a time so exhilarating that you hoped it would never end, only to wake up from it and realize it was a dream?

Sure, Tiffany. Of course, Tiffany. Everybody has that. But maybe I’m talking about this because of how deeply it touched me, despite it being a universal occurrence. Ah, the hopeless life an HSP…

Anyways, I dreamed that I met the object of my affections. Never mind how we got to know each other better, as dreams usually skim over such details. Within time, I was play-wrestling on the floor with that person. We were hysterically laughing, cuddling, playfully pinning each other on the ground — my, what a high I got when it was me doing the pinning! And all because we adored each other so much. I felt sense of wild, euphoric bliss that I never experienced in real life. Dreams, man. I swear the good ones make you high.

A voice in the back of my head always questions whether the situation is too good to be true. Well, such was the case now. And thus, a snivel of doubt entered my dreaming mind. The waking world is always so devastating to wake up to. And I was enjoying this moment, as much as I couldn’t make sense of it…

Sure, it could be a dream. Sure, it all feels too good to be true. Sure, only in dreams do you obtain your object of affection so easily. But, in case this is a dream — here a rush of pure love aka dopamine engulfed my brain — THEN THIS IS A DREAM I HOPE TO NEVER WAKE UP FROM.

I think it’s just funny that I knew I was dreaming while I was dreaming, and yet I hoped the fantasy would play on forever and forever and forever…

Maybe this basking in eternal love is a smidge of what Heaven is like?

Anyways…

This monologue. I call it being “artsy” and “poetry.”

You probably know it as, “procrastinating from homework.”

Play It Again

blur close up closeup flowers
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The nice thing about poems is that there’s no wrong or right way to write one You just do. Meanwhile, I wrote this poem almost as though a sensation called “automatic writing” came over me.

What’s this one about? Hmmm. How do I tell you this…it’s pretty speculative. Wishful, I daresay. And the piano can be a metaphor, I realized…

*****

I saw you in the piano room today

I saw,

I saw,

How your concerto was only child’s play

The keys mourned the end of a summer breeze

Such longing! I thought the night-stilled air would freeze

Meanwhile you were lost in a soliloquy

I just lay there and felt your eternal sigh

*

I’d be the gem to your forte

I wish,

I wish,

In those same little notes that swept my breath away

You said the time, while it lasted, was a bliss

What, no parting kiss?

I’ll hear of you again, if the future’d entail

For Anthony Greninger lingers on in your trail…

Kunoichi

red moon during night time
Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

That’s it — that’s it, you guys. I’m so done this one. So. Done. Took me a month to finish this poem, and even then I’m not fully satisfied with how some of the stanzas resulted. But my muse is drained of any more ideas for improvement. I swear, it wasn’t easy to write. So I’ll just have to contend with what I came up with. 

*Drops pencil*

*****

Reigning in the splashes of a moonlight’s dazzle

So swift, so curtained behind

This Japanese night

Her silhouette etched against a moonlight’s dazzle

The warriors of the rising sun loved her

Like she loved her own

Forever bonded, forever alone

She knew her place in the clan

*

A light shone in the cold-infested night

And within it — the sight of home

The shogunite swooned for her tonight

She was the vessel he called home

Red-lips a-blazing, eyes a-savoring

She knew what to do best

Put her masseur skills to the test

She loved making her husband feel loved

*

Past nocturnal passions

The shogunite said the tea was cold

She said, “Why so?”

She knew that the tea was cold

His fall echoed into the still night

Amidst the groan, gasp and hiss,

She leaned over him with a parting kiss

Her breath reeked of the ghosts of his nemesis

*

Heartbeats turned to footsteps on the doorstep

How she wanted to end his lasting agony

End his plight, swift and clean!

She couldn’t stand to see his dying agony

The dagger was merciful tonight

For the shogunite; he no longer stirred

Thus her chance to slip in the final word:

“Remember the clan!”

*

She slinks among her own

Like fleeting shadows in a moonlight’s dazzle

She runs wild and wile, that kitsune

On the eve of a moonlight’s dazzle

To a realm which owed her much

She owes nothing but her life

To those who saved her from the ruins of a medieval strife

She knew she loved her clan…

***

Poem form was inspired by the song, “Moonlight Shadow”, so you might see some similarities if you compare the stanzas.

 

Funny How the World Works

index

Half a year ago, I struggled with crippling depression and anxiety. I was head over heels in love. With someone — a fantasy version of someone, more like — so far away from me, physically and existentially and personality-wise. Just thinking of that person consumed my life, my mind and my self-esteem. I was no longer myself. I was living through someone else, and even then, like I said, a fantasy version of that someone.

The nightmarish pain I had getting two bags of ice tied by my coach onto my sore feet after a cross country workout the other day (*Screeeeeeeeeeeeech*) was nothing, nothing, compared to my emotional torment. Last semester, I hobbled through school without much direction. Every day was a matter of surviving, not living. I spent my energy dodging the worst anxiety attacks…if I was lucky.

The scariest part was knowing I was enslaved within the snares of my mind because of something that’s supposed to be beautiful but instead made my life a living hell: infatuation.

Luckily, I am aware that I have a rational side. It calmly took note of what I was feeling and all the sensations and thoughts that came with it. It assessed the situation but didn’t get pulled in. It calmly told me,

“Allll righty. Tiff’s in love — how poetic. Let’s milk it. Milk it, I say. We’ve got a lot of material to work with! Get to work, now!”

And within time, my feelings became translated into several heartfelt poems, which by the way I felt proud of. And trust me, “proud of” myself isn’t a feeling I’m used to.

Another time I was hiking up Mt. Tamalpais with my family. I was surrounded by nature, loved ones, and a whole day of fun, but I was feeling none of it. Depression struck, and I never felt so alone.

At least you have family by your side, I mused. Like, some people have no family. Be glad yours are alive. Gee, I wonder how what kind of depression orphaned people go through? What is it like for those whose parents have died when they were still children?

Wait. What if…?

A light bulb went off. Okay, multiple to be more accurate, because ideas upon ideas were pouring into my head all at once, cluttering the space until I was fervently collecting the shards before they disappeared from memory. Because at that moment, an idea for a novel dropped into my head. My protagonists would feel the same depression as I did, only on a much, much deeper level. They’d feel the same hopelessness, think the same distorted thoughts, suffer the same pain. Throw in some murdered parents Peter-Parker style and a whodunit mystery. Oh, and clinically diagnosed psychopaths. That would be interesting. My head teemed with the potential my new inner life promised me.  Isn’t it the most relishing experience, to think up of groundwork for a novel, and you’re so in love with it?

The rational part of my mind must’ve had a field day.

“You’re depressed? Again?! Hmm. Let’s use that to your advantage. Look — look! Somebody more depressed than you. Your protagonist. Guess what? He has a story to tell — because you were the first one who came out with one. Yeah, you can thank me when you gets published. Kiss my boots when your become famous. How ‘bouh dah?”

To think that my darkest shadows, my worst demons, and my murkiest ponderings have been fuel for some of my creative endeavors. Do you believe suffers happen for a reason bigger than ourselves, even when it becomes too unbearable?

Perhaps the world’s blessings and torments are interconnected. And it’s up to us to own our torments and turn them into something beautiful. It’s why “art” exists.

Funny how the world works.

And funny how creative writing ideas come about.

 

 

 

By the River I Mourned Sorrow

IMG_20180612_193809956

Next to the river I mourned sorrow

It raged a Nile, raged w’out a morrow

My heart beared heavy remembrance

While in my hands

A voice converted into snapshot remnants.

*

I held the recording device to my ear

Finally, finally, purging time’s near

Lil’ brook of a fountain’s voice, so divine

Surged into a roar

Though through it all, I could still hear mine

*

I said: I’m in pain

She said: I promise to not disdain

I told her, I spake the word, I cried

Carry me now, tears…

I thought you’d like to be my bedside

*

November shards of heart would drip

Through the air’s chilly stills were the sound of a stifled rip

A whirlpool of hopes, I’m thinking

The waterbed gave IN

I was reliving, relieving, sinking…

*

Then I broke the water surface suddenly apart

A fresh awakening, a new start

In last commemoration of what was to be

The ripples took on tears

Before they cleared and turned into…me

Why You?

abrazo-al-arbol

Ah — one of my favorite poems that I’ve written.

***

I don’t know why

From mere memories of you my world

would always reek

I don’t know why

I cling to the crease of your smile against

My teary cheek

Why is my bubble of burning effervescence

Built upon your imaginary presence

Nothing to hide, yet nothing to show

*

I don’t know why, then

My degrees of heartaches become a-tenfold

I don’t know why, then

Your beating pulse against mine turns cold

This feeble string of fervor I cast between us

Succulent, but superfluous

Only to be ruptured with a savage blow.

*

And so, I ask:

Why you?

Put this one in a Hallmark card already!

Image result for prom room

In my Russian community, if someone graduates from a Russian-based school, they get a “White Ball” to celebrate in their honor. We also give them a gift. Sis drew the cover for a card while I, being the poet, had to think of a one-stanza poem to fit inside.  If you have any related events where you give a card prior to a graduation dance or prom, and you don’t know what to write — use THIS! 

***

Another ball to dance the night away

A rite of passage is yours today

Cheers, music, laughter and the jive

What a joyous day to feel alive!

***

Tweak as you see fit. 

What I Learned From Coco

Image result for coco movie

Hey!

I just watched the newly-released Pixar animation Coco. It was a great movie. A very, very great movie.

But you know what? I didn’t always think this way. Before I watched it, I rolled my eyes and thought, “Really?!” No doubt, I was biased. For years I’ve been waiting for a Big Hero 6 sequel, but life handed us what I thought was a story of a random Mexican boy who lands himself into some half-assed adventure in the land of skeletons. I didn’t see the point of this story at all! Heck, I was surprised the tomatometer was so high. I thought it was going to be a ripoff of that Book of Life movie.

I was so, so wrong.

Hey, we’re talking about the magic of Pixar here!  It can take any theme and turn it into a brilliant story. A trilogy about toys? Pfft, who know? But one of my most favorite movie trilogies ever, ever, ever! A story of a cute lonely robot called Wall-E? So cute, but not cloyingly so; and conveniently anthropomorphic while throwing you into a wild adventure where space merges with old-school romance. Cars? Hey, even that one had a great story to it! As an aspiring writer who notices those little elements, I can’t explain enough why I think Pixar storytelling is pulled off on such a professional level.

So I watched Coco. I laughed, I cried, I was mind-blown, and I was so inspired. And I was taught a valuable lesson: never underestimate Pixar ever again! Actually, I should’ve learned that ten years ago when Wall-E was released to Blockbuster.

“No, Papa, I don’t wanna watch a dumb movie about a dumb robot!” my 8-year-old self protested back then just as Pops bought the movie.

“Ohh, you’ll love it!” he responded cheerfully.

I grudged as we came home. I grudged as we reluctantly put in the CD into the drive. I grudged as the intro song came on…

By the end I didn’t have any gall left to grudge. Sis and I watched it 14,882 more times over the next year, it was that good.

Okay, maybe not that much.

But anyways.

While I was watching Coco, becoming more and more sucked in at every scene, I had a wild idea. This is great storytelling, right? So why don’t I do what all great storytellers do and break down the story bit by bit and see for myself how the plot comes together so intricately?

And by that, I mean outline everything.

You read that right. I know it’s in the context of a movie, people, so I know movie-storytelling is different from novels. But I could still learn a thing or two about the grand art of outlining. So if you watched Coco, grab a cup of tea — or two, since this’ll be a while — and feel free to read along. If you’re not the type of person who gets bored with reading/analyzing outlines.

But if you haven’t seen Coco, then SPOILER SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!

Save yourself the trouble and watch the movie first! Dig into it, enjoy it, gross-sob over your tamale dinner, because you’ll be shedding tears, from the tear-jerkers in all the right spots to the fact that such a beautiful thing as Pixar exists.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s transfer all my notes from paper…to here! Here we go!

Coco

Prologue

  • Setting the scene: We have a family of Mexican origin that loved to sing and dance. One day, the Papa and patriarch of the family leaves his family to make his fortune and see the world as an accomplished musician. The irate Mama Imelda, who feels betrayed by the negligent husband, finds a way to provide for the family herself by making shoes. The whole generation has been making shoes ever since.

— Bottom line: music ripped family apart, but shoes brought them together.

Thoughts: Ummm, okay. The banning music parts sounds extreme and a little cheesy, but I guess that’s typical Pixar fairy-tale fanfare. Okay…

Ch. 1: The Riveras

  • Mama Imelda, now deceased, leaves a daughter, Coco (who’s probably 100 right now) and several generations of family.

— Scene setting: The family celebrates Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

  • Enter the main conflict: music is FORBIDDEN! Abuelita (Coco’s daughter) hates it the most.

— Movie cameo: Pizza truck!

  • Foil: Protanogist (Miguel) loves music, unlike his whole family.

— Tries to integrate it into his daily life.

— Sidekick: Cue the presence of Miguel’s dog friend Dante.

  • Miguel, while going to work, comes to admire the statue of Ernesto de la Cruz.

— Background narration: Ernesto is the most famous musician in Mexico.

– I’m-such-a-fanboy-trope scene: “He could fly!!”

– His most famous song: “Remember me.”

Thoughts: I don’t think Abuelita’s blatant hate of music is realistic. But again, Pixar. And movies are always a little exaggerated. On an unrelated note, Miguel fanboying over Ernesto de la Cruz reminds me of my own fangirly tendencies. I think the reason for hating music that vehemently is, again, a little exagerrated in the movie but okay. Carry on.

Ch. 2: No Music!

  • Michael’s out-loud daydreaming disgruntles a musician.
  • He lets Miguel use his guitar to play a song. Just as he’s about to, however, Miguel’s family catch him in the act.

— Angry grandma trope. (<<We already established how she’s the most vehement opponent to music)

  • At home, Miguel inquires about a talent show this evening and (subtly) asks his family if he can join in order to play music.
  • Family responds.

— Funny scenes: dramatic overreactions.

  • Exposition time: No talent show, says abuelita, because “tonight is about family.”

— Second exposition time: Dia de los Muertos is about remembering dead relatives; they come back to the Land of the Living to pick up offerings.

  • Abuelita shows obvious bias against Coco’s Papa, though Coco keeps calling out for him in her senile state.

Thoughts: Geez, a lot of hate to music. Clearly I’m getting biased here, but wouldn’t it make more sense to hate the source of the trouble, aka the musician himself, and not the music itself? Oh, wait, CinemaSins already covered that question. Anyways, carry on, movie.

Ch. 3: Seize Your Moment!

  • Miguel hides away where he can honor de la Cruz in secret, as well as practice some of Cruz’s songs on a rustic guitar.

— Portrayal of Miguel digging deep into his love for guitar music…and the idol who paved the road for him.

— Cruz’s monologue comes through on screen: “Grab (your dream tightly) and make it come true.

  • Miguel decides to make an important decision…

Thoughts: Considering how Miguel learns to play guitar (through repeated attempts at watching Cruz strum on video), it is admirable that he can pick up on that skill. The “follow your dreams” mantra doesn’t stick true to real life, in my opinion. But I digress…

Ch. 4: Evening

  • It’s the evening of Dia de los Muertos.

— Side note: leaving petals in a trails helps guide the spirits home.

  • Funny scene: Miguel, guitar in hand, wants to enter the talent show, but tries to cover up his sneaking-out in a comical hide-away scene.

— “Miguel, what are you doing?”

“Nothing,” he replies, with a stupid grin.

  • His family announces that he is going to be apprenticed, despite his protests.

— “What if I’m not good at making shoes?”

  • Sidekick dog knocks a picture frame from the food offering table. The one that features Imelda and her husband (His head is cut out of the frame)

— Revealing scene: the picture of Imelda’s husband has *gasp* the same guitar as de la Cruz?!

  • Miguel is so overcome that he shouts his desire on the roof.
  • His family protest.

— Guitar is crushed by abuelita.

— Miguel is heartbroken.

— “I don’t care about some stupid ofrenda!”

Thoughts: U-huh. Smart move, kid. Shout all your hopes and dreams to your disapproving family, only to see them crushed, literally and figuratively, before your eyes. The pathos here sure escalated.

Ch. 5: The Search Is On

  • Desperate times call for desperate measures; Miguel has no instrument, so he’s going to find one for the talent show anyways.
  • Montage: asks around to borrow a guitar –> gets dissed on.
  • In a moment of despair, Miguel looks to a statue of de la Cruz.

— “Seize your moment!” he once said.

– Gets idea.

  • Goes to a site where the late de la Cruz is buried.

— Miguel shoos away pesky sidekick because he doesn’t want to be noticed breaking into the site.

  • Grabs guitar from inside.

— “Please don’t be mad.”

— Dramatic scene: one strum, and petals scatter.

  • Tension builds: Someone outside notices the guitar is missing!

Thoughts: I have a feeling Miguel will be getting more than a talent show into the bargain. I think the plot is finally unfolding!

Ch. 6: An Unexpected Reunion

  • Surprise scene: Miguel is invisible to everyone.
  • Skeletons start appearing among the humans.

— Creepy but funny.

  • Sidekick is the only one among the Land of the Living who can see Miguel.
  • Some skeletons recognize Miguel in the midst of the confusion.

— Realization: Miguel realizes they’re his ancestors from the picture frames.

— Problem: Miguel isn’t dead but he isn’t alive either.

  • Bigger problem looms: Imelda can’t pass through to the Land of the Living.

— Unknown why.

  • The Riveras think the two problems could be related and they take Miguel with him to hopefully solve the problem.

— Petals serve as bridge of the land of the dead.

Thoughts: Mysteries, mysteries abound. I’m more intrigued in how Miguel fell in with the skeletons. Side note: am I the only one who thinks that people living the afterlife as skeletons can affect your self-esteem? I don’t mean depressing, since this is one of the most anti-depressing movies ever, but if this version of the after-life was real, I’d be mourning my skin, or lack thereof. Anyways, I’d glad we’re getting into the meat-and-potatoes of this plot. 

Ch. 7: Welcome to the Land of the Dead

  • Setting: Land of the Dead is a big city and bright place. Very colorful movie, by the way.
  • Miguel realizes that the tradition of Dia de los Muertos is real.

— “I thought it was made up like vitamins.”

“Vitamins are real.”

  • Introduction to alebrijes: spirit guides.
  • Fantasy blends with modern: skeletons accessing bridge looks like a check-in.
  • New character: We get introduced to a self-proclaimed Frida Kahlo.

— Obviously a cross-dresser.

— Something’s fishy.

– “Shall we just skip the scanner?”

  • Scanner denies him entrance-way because he has no picture put up in his memory i.e no one in the Land of the Living remembers him.

— Cross-dresser (who reveals himself as a ragged-looking down-on-his-luck skeleton) even tries to cross the bridge in vain, for he sinks in the petals.

  • Ragged skeleton dude is arrested by security.
  • Meanwhile, Miguel’s ancestors introduce Miguel to the check-in.

— Funny scene: jaws drop at the sight of the living boy. Literally.

  • Next setting takes up to a tech support setting, which helps skeletons having problems crossing over.
  • New character intro: Imelda.

— Funny scene: introduced by smashing a computer out of anger that she can’t cross through.

  • Tech support/whatever-support states the problem: Miguel is cursed to not play music. And since he cheated and stole a guitar, that’s why he accidentally transferred.
  • Aha moment: Miguel also took with him the photo of Imelda and her cropped-out husband, which explains why Imelda couldn’t cross.
  • Solution: Miguel should get his family’s blessing to go back home.

— But! By sunrise; otherwise, he will become one of the dead.

— Miguel is slowly turning into a skeleton.

– Funny scene: faints from shock.

  • Imelda proceeds to give her blessing: he goes home, puts photo back in the ofrenda…and no music!
  • Miguel reluctantly agrees while the petal touches him so he can return.
  • He returns.

— Moment of relief.

  • Takes guitar >> lands promptly back into the Land of the Dead again.

— Protests ensure.

  • Bottom line: Still no one from the Riveras allow him to play music.

— Miguel’s going to remain cursed because of his family’s refusal.

  • Improv plan in process: “I need to use the bathroom!”

— Funny scene: “Should we tell him there’s no restroom in the Land of the Dead?”

Thoughts: Well, this got complicated. I think I know what he’s going to do next.

Ch. 8: Hector

  • Family realizes that Miguel has escaped; the hunt for Miguel is on.
  • Exposition scene: Miguel wants to find de la Cruz, his only blood relative who’d approve of music, to get his blessing from him instead.
  • A scene of narrow escapes.
  • Miguel overhears a conversation from a police officer.

— Turns out it’s between a police skeleton and the cross-dresser from earlier.

— Character reveal: the raggedy skeleton is pitiful, funny, wisecracking.

– Also likes to take himself apart.

  • Raggedy explains that he has seats to de la Cruz’s show; uses that as a bribe to be let off.
  • Police lets him off with a warning.
  • Chance: Miguel inquires to the skeleton about de la Cruz

— Funny scene: Skeleton shocks at finding a human boy.

  • Skeleton then gets an idea.

— Will help Miguel if Miguel helps him.

  • Trouble sets in: the Riveras are on Miguel’s heels.
  •  Miguel grabs Hector and RUNS.
  • Scene change: Our unlikely trio (Miguel, Skeleton aka Hector, Dante) are in an alley haven.

— Hector paints Miguel’s face like a skeleton’s so he can blend in.

– “Dead as a doorknob.”

  • Character reveal/exposition: Hector’s picture can’t go to the land of the living because his picture was never put up.

— However, he says, Miguel can change that.

  • Hector gives Miguel his portrait to put up.
  • Also inquires if Miguel is sure he has no other family here other than de la Cruz.
  • Miguel, naturally, lies.

— It has to be de la Cruz.

– Stubborn.

  • Hector sees he has no other choice.
  • Funny scene: Hector insists he does not walk funny while Miguel thinks he walks “funny”, like a skeleton.

— Enforces Hector’s quirky, funny personality.

Thoughts: It’s at this point that narration normally delves into the “danger zone” aka the part where the protagonist finds himself in some serious predicament that he must inevitably fix. That Miguel purposely chose to go on a high-speed mission to finally pursue his passion instead of being thrown into a whirlwind of chaos via fate is refreshing to see here. Now I’m seriously interested whether the guv is going to find de la Cruz…and how much the movie will rely on luck to propel the protagonist’s adventure onward.

Ch. 9: Choking on Chorizos

  • Our protagonists are headed to where de la Cruz would rehearse before the Sunrise Spectacular show.

— Turns out Hector lied about the tickets to the show; they’ll have to improvise this way.

  • Scene setting: the rehearsal.
  • Unreliable Hector is chewed out for not returning a performer’s dress.

— Character trait: Hector is unreliable.

  • Dante goes off to explore while Miguel follows.

— Clumsy sidekick trope in action.

  • Miguel accidentally bothers a woman skeleton, who, then is entranced by Dante.

— Says he could be a spirit guide.

– Miguel is skeptical.

  • Woman-skeleton shows Miguel her performance scene.
  • Miguel suggests some music added into it.

— “You’re an artist!” she says over his suggestion.

  • Expectation vs. Reality moment: Miguel is told that de la Cruz doesn’t do rehearsals. Instead, he’s at the tower, celebrating.
  • Meanwhile, a mariachi band makes fun of Hector’s death.

— “He choked on a chorizo!”

— Even though that’s strictly not true.

– Hector claims to have died via food poisoning.

  • Players explain how to reach de la Cruz.

“If you’re not on the guest list, you aren’t getting in.”

  • New plan: try out for a music competition at the plaza. Winner gets to play for de la Cruz.

Thoughts: I can see that even when dead, artists are as weird as they are in real life. Ummm, what else? Game-changer complicates the plot of the story. I like it. Is Hector’s death going to be a running gag? Sounds like it. Is his version of his own death really true, though?

Ch. 10: A Visit

  • The Rivera’s spirit guide is getting closer to Miguel.
  • Meanwhile, Hector voices his contempt for musicians.
  • New plan: get a guitar for the talent show.

— Hector has a plan where to get one.

— Running gag: Hector comically falls apart on his way to the destination.

  • Setting reveal: Our protagonists come to a community of skeletons who don’t have photos in their ofrenda.

“No family to go home to.”

  • Protagonists visit Chicarron.

— Hector asks to borrow his guitar.

  • Chicarron is quite reluctant.

“Like the time you promised me my van? Fridge? Napkins? Lasso? My femur?

  • Chicarron is visibly fading.

— Asks Hector to play the guitar in order to earn it, and also as a dying wish.

  • Hector agrees, despite his distaste for music.
  • Chicarron, his dying wish complete, fades in peace.

— Sad moment.

  • Explanation: fading means you’re forgotten in the living world; you disappear from this world forever.

— “We call it the final death.”

— Memories have to passed down by alive people.

Thoughts: Wait, so…you die twice? A creative take on what happens after you die, except you don’t actually “die” die, does that make sense? As to what happens in the “final death”, I don’t believe the wildest centuries-old stories will ever come close to an accurate explanation.. 

Get guitar: check. Perform in a talent show: ummm, I have a feeling the scene is gonna go down like those many “underdog” stories. Amiright? Amiright? You know what I’m saying?

Ch. 11: Poco Loco

  • Exposition scene: Hector reveals that he knew de la Cruz and played music with him, even though Hector himself hates music.
  • Scene change: The Plaza Contest.
  • Show begins.

— Funny scene: Everyone is humorously mediocre in their playing attempts.

  • Meanwhile, Miguel plans to play, “Remember Me,” a popular song by de la Cruz.

— Hector insists that it’s way too overrated

– As though to underline his words, everyone is auditioning covers of that song.

  • Miguel decides on Poco Loco instead.
  • Moment of uncertainty: Miguel never performed.

— Moment of truth: “I don’t just wanna get Cruz’s blessing, I wanna prove to him that I’m worthy of it!”

“What a sweet sentiment…at such a bad time!!!”

  • Funny scene: Hector teaches Miguel how to warm up skeleton-style.

— Miguel is pretty awkward at it.

  • Miguel’s turn to get on the stage.

— Moment of uncertainty: Can I really do this?

– “Bring back the singing dogs!”

  • In a surge of confidence, Miguel belts out a magnificent first few strums, wowing the crowd.

— Prodigy in bloom.

  • Hector is pushed by sidekick to join the stage.

— Has a realization moment of hey-this-is-fun!

  • In the background: the Riveras come onto the scene again.
  • Miguel’s performance is a success!
  • However, he spies the Riveras from afar and has to escape.

— “Please look out for a living boy!” host announcs to crowd.

  • Announcement makes Hector realizes that Miguel is the same boy. Says Miguel tricked hi by lying that he had no other family.

— Tries to force him back.

  • Miguel resists, gives Hector back his photo and heads out by himself…

Thoughts: Hmmm-hmmm…you know what I like about this scene? That Miguel, who hardly ever had experience playing let alone on stage, is suddenly performing like a pro. Of course that’s a plot convenience, but want me to prove how unrealistic this is? Lemme tell you: while writing this I took a break by performing my tap dance combination on video. Just the awareness of being on camera made me stiffen by 50%, folks, so how do you think I’d perform in front of a frickin’ CROWD? Not well, apparently. So if you ever see a video of me tapping stiff as a skeleton from the Land of the Dead, now you know what nerves do to the inexperienced. Miguel wouldn’t been any different, trust me. But then, pfft, he’s obviously a prodigy here, so maybe I’ve got my entire theory wrong. 

One more thing: remember how Miguel tells Hector that he wants to prove himself worthy and Hector’s all like, “Arrghh this is such a bad time!” My sister cleverly pointed out the similarity of this scene to a real-life scenario between me and sis. 

Sis: Hurry up the photoshoot! I’ve got to get going!

Me: No, take another picture…but at this angle! I gotta make the pics look good for my blog! I gotta prove myself to the world!

Sis: Oh, what a sweet sentiment…at such a bad time!!!

Anyways, the tension in the plot is really building! I can see how desperate Miguel is to achieve his dreams. Too bad his family are some stubborn asses…

But really? They’d search high and low just to barr a child’s passions? 

Ch. 12: Moment of Truth

  • Convenience: Miguel trips and falls. This causes his hood to fall down, revealing his human self to the skeleton population.
  • Starts running.
  • Spirit guide has caught up to him by now.
  • Miguel narrowly escapes.
  • Imelda scolds him through the bars that separate her and him.

— In a moment of desperation, Imelda sings.

– History exposition: Claims that she loves music, but her daughter mattered more to her.

Ch. 13: Like great-great-grandpa, like son.

  • Scene setting: Miguel reaches de la Cruz’s mansion.
  • Tries to get in.

— Uses an excuse of, “I’m his grandson!”

  • Ends up being thrown out.
  • Comes up with an idea.
  • Asks the winning musicians to sneak him in.

— Since they liked his performance, they oblige.

  • Scene change: Beautiful scenery of the mansion.

— Lots of partying.

  • Miguel focuses on plan: find de la Cruz.

— Starts following de la Cruz once he catches sight of him somewhere in the crowd.

– Can’t reach him.

  • Improvises an idea, since he’s good at that stuff.

— “He will listen…to music!”

  • Takes his guitar and starts playing an improvised song.

— Showstopper.

– Catches de la Cruz’s attention.

  • Embarrassing moment: trips into pool
  • De la Cruz saves Miguel.
  • Miguel introduces himself as Cruz’s descendant and he wants blessing.

— Explains that’s why he’s here.

Ch. 14: Friend Feud

  • Running gag: “Frida Kahlo” aka Hector enters the mansion after Miguel with his usual cross-dressing gimmick.

— “Yes, it is I, Frida Kahlo.”

  • Meanwhile, Ernesto de la Cruz shows off his grandson.
  • Catch a scene from one of Cruz’s famous movies where he is almost “killed”.

— Important scene: “Poison!” says de la Cruz as he punches the enemy.

  • Scene change: an room filled with countless offerings just for de la Cruz.
  • Miguel has a moment of fanboying.

— But he asks: does Cruz regret leaving his family behind?

– Response: maybe, but his passion to play was greater.

– So no, he doesn’t regret it.

  • Cruz prepares to send Miguel home.

— “I hope you die very soon.”

*Awkward*

“You know what I mean.”

  • About to send Miguel home, but-
  • Hector crashes the scene.

— Still dressed like a Frida.

Cruz seems to recognize him.

— “Hector?”

  • Hector begs Miguel to just put his photo up.

— Also blames Cruz for stealing his songs.

– Moment of confusion: is that true?

– Miguel thought that Cruz wrote his own songs.

  • Ernesto defends himself by saying he wanted to keep Hector’s memory alive, since they played together.
  • Hector begs Cruz to let him cross the bridge.

— Connection: “You told me you’d move Heaven and Earth for me.”

– Miguel: “[Quote is] Just like in the movie.”

  • Realization moment:

— Hector: “I got homesick. Poisoned and died…similar to the movie.”

  • Plot twist: Cruz is the villain now.

— Hector: “You poisoned me.”

  • Now that Hector knows too much, Cruz unleashes body guards on him to take him away.
  • Then he also orders Miguel to be taken away, amidst his disbelief of Cruz being the villain.

— “But I’m your family!”

“And Hector was my best friend. Success doesn’t come for free.”

Thoughts: Wuuaahh! I did NOT see that twist! Okay, I kinda foresaw something fishy was gonna happen when Hector came in, but what a pleasant — I mean, unpleasant — plot twist. My sister said it was “predictable.” But then, we all did see “Frozen,” right? Not surprising that the good-guy-is-actually-the-villain trope showed up here. But still clever. 

Ch. 15: My Coco.

  • When Miguel is tossed into a sinkhole, is he reunited with Hector there.

— Moment of despair: Miguel is slowly turning into a skeleton.

  • Says his family was right about de la Cruz.
  • Hector’s fading/being forgotten.

— His daughter is forgetting. He only wished to come home to see her.

– “My Coco.”

  • Second plot twist: This makes Hector the father of Coco; thus, he’s the forgotten musician of the Riveras.

— Important quote: “I thought I’d see her again. Give her the biggest hug.”

— Flashback.

– Sings, “Remember Me,” to his little girl Coco.

— But by the time she’s here, Hector will disappear from the Land of the Dead.

  • Forgotten celebrity: Hector’s song and guitar were stolen.

— He only wrote the songs for Coco.

  • Realization: Hector and Miguel are actually related!

— Miguel says that at least he’s not related to a murderer.

– Moment of joy.

  • Ex Machina? : Dante and the Riveras appear over the sinkhole.

— They are saved!

Thoughts: Woooaaah, I did not expect that second plot twist! I love this! I don’t like ex machinas but overall, I loved the moment of family bonding as Miguel found his true ancestor. I started tearing up a little…

Ch. 16: The Power of Family

  • The Riveras are all reunited, including Hector since what seems like ages.
  • Dante turns into a spirit guide along the way.

— You can tell because he lights up.

  • Hector tries to be nice to Imelda at least, but she gives him a cold shoulder.

— He reaches out >> she scoffs.

— Rants about him.

  • Miguel defends him.

— Says he can leave, but it is important to get his photo back home first.

  • Turning point: explains Hector’s real motive (to go back home to his family) but Cruz murdered him for that.

— Running out of time till Hector disappears.

  • Moment of reconciliation: Imelda doesn’t forgive Hector, but she will agree to help him.
  • Scene change: Ernesto de la Cruz’s Spectacular Show.
  • Plan: Find photo. Give to Miguel. Send Miguel home. Petals for backup.
  • Suddenly: Cruz and the Riveras bump into each other.

— Imelda strikes first.

– “That’s for murdering the love of my life!” (Though she denies it later).

– “That’s for trying to murder my grandson!”

  • Cruz has the photo. The chase is on.

— Action scene: Riveras dodge bodyguards and fight in a kickass manner as only skeletons can.

  • Amidst the fight, Imelda accidentally ends up on stage.

Thoughts: you know what I love about this scene? It’s not just a bunch of skeleton sidekicks that fight the evil villains — they fight as a family, and because their members’ lives are literally at stake. And I’m already shipping Hector and Imelda.

Ch. 17: Imelda decides

  • In order to save face, Imelda starts singing on stage.

— Even though it’s been a while since she did.

– Plot point: hated music>> has to face fear.

  • Funny scene: sings a rejuvinating song, “La Llorona” while evading Cruz and his bodyguards while both Cruz and Imelda keep a presentable appearance on stage.
  • Imelda gets the photo from de la Cruz.

— Backstage, her reaction to seeing Hector softens since she’s feeling nostalgic.

  • Imelda prepares to send Miguel home with the photo.

— Gives him blessing to play music, after all.

  • De la Cruz butts in at the exact moment

— Villain monologue: With the help of stage set-up, Ernesto accidentally reveals his villainous schemes to the audience.

– Wants to prevent himself from becoming exposed as a fraud.

  • Throws Miguel off the roof.
  • Luckily spirit guide saves him.

— However, Hector’s photo is ruined in the process.

  • Cruz comes onstage.
  • Not knowing what the audience now knows, is booed and tossed out of the arena by the spirit guide.

— Nice kitty gag.

  • Cruz is killed again by a bell, just like in his last life.

— Funny scene: “What did I miss?” spectator asks as he arrives onto the scene.

  • Time is running out: Hector is dying and Miguel is all but dead as sunrise approaches.

— Sad moment: Hector lying weak on the floor, about to be faded.

  • Just before Miguel turns into one of the dead, Imelda sends him back.

Thoughts: Aw, man, I have nothing to say here…villain obviously got his karma, but this is sad. I can feel the rush against time as Hector is dying real-time. 

Ch. 18: Coco Remembers

  • Setting: Back in the land of the living. Morning. Miguel starts running back home in a frenzy.
  • Miguel’s family comes across him, after having been absent all night, and demand an explanation.

— Abuelita being the most demanding of them all.

  • Having reached Coco, Miguel plays on the guitar a rendition of, “Remember Me” so she can remember.

— Plot device: “Remember Me” is what Hector sang to her so many years ago.

  • It works; Coco remembers and takes out some scripts of her father’s songs.
  • She reconnects the original Rivera picture to the picture of Hector’s head.

— Hector, not de la Cruz, as we so mistakenly believed.

Thoughts: Gahhh, what else should I say?! Everyone’s crying at this point! I’m crying, my friend who watched this with me is crying. YOU’RE crying!!

Epilogue

  • One year later
  • Cruz”s legacy has changed, while Hector’s is restored.

— Funny scene: Hector’s headstone says, “Remember Me,” Cruz’s: “Forget you.”

  • Coco has died within the past year, but she is remembered.

— As is Hector.

  • The tension between the Riveras in the Land of the Dead has healed.

— Hector and Imelda are loving husband and wife again.

— Tearworthy moment: Hector gives Coco that “big hug” finally.

Final wrap-up scene: Miguel is a blossoming musician playing in the plaza during another Dia de los Muertos while the living and dead alike look on.

*The End*

Thoughts: I very very nearly was in danger of crying when Hector finally gave that long-awaited hug to Coco, but I had makeup on and I didn’t want to ruin it, so I had to suck it up with all my strength. My guy friend, on the other hand… xD

 

*Faceplants desk* I told you this was going to be a long one. Indeed, I thought I was wasting my time typing up a movie outline. This is why I will probably not do something like this in a long, long time. But I stand by my decision. I wanted to do this for my huge love for Coco, and it was to help me break down the art of good storytelling.

I almost added in the plot holes, (Because I’m pretty meticulous that way, mwahahah!!) but I think I’ll add them in the next post. Maybe.

Final thoughts? Despite my sarcastic commentary, I genuinely think the movie earns a place among the best of Pixar’s works. The plot-lines, the animation, the cultural experience…hey, maybe I’m gonna learn Spanish because of a movie. Just like that one time with Big Hero 6 I remember when I watched it; I thought it too was going to suck big time. I came out of the movie theater with a HUGE crush on Hiro Hamada for the next two years, a fervent desire to get to know the Japanese culture and language more, and a binge-watching history of anime. Obviously, I picked up no crushes from Coco, hahah, but I couldn’t help singing along “La Llorona” in broken Spanish just the other day while half-wondering whether I could learn some dance routine to that song — ooh, so catchy!

SO. Tiffany’s writing tip of the day: Observe. Observe good storytelling by breaking down its elements, be it books, plays, or movies. Or even Pixar movies for that matter, since I consider Pixar movies artforms in and of themselves. Outlining optional. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It You?

Image result for house at night
Courtesy of: Niklas Agevik

This week in:  a lonely stargazer finds comfort in the littlest things.

***

“Is it you?” I asked an ancient oak of green

The trees bowed their cloaks to the wind

I thought I heard them sigh

When to the sky they grinned

And gave me no reply

*

“It it you?” I queried of Garbage Cat

He was busy playing Master of Diguise

Till Twolegs witnessed his nocturnal play

He looked on with beady eyes

Before he snuck, skipped and scampered away

*

“Is it you?” I entreated one of my own

Warm was their homely circle of light

That enclosed them here and nigh

Together! Laughter! Love! Such was the sight

I almost waved and said hi

*

Nature and Night, they brought an ear to lend

From lamppost sidewalks to the mango grove

They had a voice, and I a friend

God help me, I’ll find the one I love

And I WILL find the one I love…

*

This might have to be revised some. We’ll see, though.