The Thrill of It All: Album Review

Sam Smith’s sophomore album, “The Thrill of It All,” was released on Nov. 3, 2017. Its release arrives in the thick of the cold season ready to hit your heart when it is most vulnerable and aching for someone to have hot chocolate with. With past hits such as “Stay With Me,” “I’m Not The Only One,” and “Lay Me Down,” I had high expectations for Smith to once again break my heart and piece it back together with his angelic voice. After listening to the entire album a total of six times in the last two weeks, the three empty pints of dairy free Häagen-Dazs in my trash speak for themselves. The Thrill Of It All” is beyond expectation.

Although I don’t quite love all 14 songs found in the special edition of the album, the majority of songs I do love make up for the few songs that lacked individual strength. Songs such as “Scars,” “One Day At A Time,” “Say It First” and “Burning” are not my favorite given they are a little more forgettable and much more mellow than the rest. They are beautifully constructed and Smith’s voice is as smooth and harrowing as always, but they didn’t have the punch of soul that I adore from Sam Smith’s music. On the other hand, songs such as “Nothing Left For You,” “Palace,” “Too Good At Goodbyes,” “Pray” and “Midnight Train” make “The Thrill Of It All” live up to its name. These songs break you, mend you and have you on your knees praising this angel of music, all whilst sipping on some fine bubbly. In order to do so, Smith uses influences from soul, folk and choir music to supplement his traditional hearty pop style. These songs make you feel elegant and dignified although you may be a slobbering mess of heartbreak. They take you through the thrill of love when it’s painful, exciting, undeserving, smooth and complicated. The powerful lyrics combined with the heart-wrenching melodies speak to what we always feel but are never able to fully articulate when playing the field of love. I very strongly recommend this album, whether you’re a fan of Smith’s or not. The music is romantic without being overtly sweet, mature without being monotonous and heartbreaking without being depressing. It gets an 8.5/10 from me 🙂

What Makes Tijuana so Tasty: A Local’s 101

Like hundreds of other SDSU students, I call Tijuana, Baja California, my home. As someone who has grown up in the city, I feel a Mexa obligation to share the beautiful wonders of its incredible, tantalizing food-scape. The following list contains all of my favorite places in Tijuana to eat, drink and engage in fun shenanigans. I am pretty confident that if you go, they’ll become your favorites too 🙂 

To impress your friends with some seriously tasty yet classy vibes:

Caesar’s

Av. Revolución 1059 Col. Zona Centro 22000 Tijuana, Baja California Mexico

  • Right on the notorious Avenida Revolucion, Caesar’s is the place to go for a gussied up night with friends or significant others. This is probably the most notorious restaurant from the list, as it is attributed with the invention of the Caesar salad. This restaurant takes you back to 1920s Tijuana with old-fashioned, Great Gatsby vibes and a beautiful wooden bar. I recommend ordering the Duck ravioli, the marrow plate, and, well, the caesar salad. 

La Justina

Av. Revolucion 926 Col. Zona Centro 22000 Tijuana, Baja California Mexico

  • Aesthetically pleasing, incredible food, and out of this world beverages. There’s a little more mystery to La Justina, and I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll leave it at that. This is the do-yourself-a-favor-and-go-kind-of-place.

To eat finger-licking Mexican Mama/Papi goodness:

Cemitas La China Poblana

Av Miguel Negrete 924 22000 Tijuana, Baja California Mexico

  • Inspired by Poblano dishes from the state of Puebla, this restaurant makes unbelievable cemitas which are a 2.0 version of the classic torta. They have other dishes like mole, tlayudas, and tacos, but the real stars of this eatery are the cemitas. The bread is always fresh because they bake it in house, they put a ton of queso Oaxaca in the cemita every time, and they have avocado milkshakes. It is my paradise. TIP: order either the milanesa or lomo cemita!!

Taqueria Tres Salsas

Av Guillermo Prieto 2620, América, Centro, 22044 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

– At this point Tijuana has become synonymous with tacos, so it is not difficult to find a decent taco place no matter where you are in the city. But believe me when I say that no other taco in Tijuana compares to what you find at Tres Salsas. It is open until 5 a.m., they make their corn tortillas fresh upon order, and their meats are always seasoned to perfection. 

Panaderia La Mejor

Constitución 1727, Zona Centro, 22055 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

– This isn’t exactly a restaurant, but oh man… this place, is so good that I’m a little emotional right now just thinking about it. This panaderia (bakery) is a tiny little sliver of a place that is very easy to miss when driving by. No more than 10 people fit in this bakery at a time, so when you walk in into the tiny establishment you are engulfed by the fuzzy warmth and intoxicating smell of sweet and savory bread baking. My top recommendations  are the canasta, polvoron, gusanito, bolillo and CONCHA!!! 

Extra recommendations for my trendy/vegetarian/vegan/zen/fit-life/yoga peeps:

Inspiracion 9

Blvd. Agua Caliente 11300, Agua Caliente Secc Pinos, 22014 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Alma Verde (not the La Cacho one!!) 

Ave. Hipodromo No.19, Col. Hipodromo, 22020 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Cozy Up With these Reads

The season of lattes, knit sweaters, looming finals anxiety and ceaseless tater tot cravings has fallen upon us! Brace for impact as Ugg boots are pulled from the depths of suburban closets, the pervading scent of pumpkin spice invades homes everywhere and Michael Bublé plays on repeat in a fiery loop. As the cloudy skies and early nightfalls basically beg us to stay inside all day and relish in the ancient practice of procrastination, we rely on Netflix, comfort food, cozy blankets and books for sustenance.

Most of you may not consider reading books as a part of the perfect fall equation, but those of you who do, this post is for you. The following list of books is meant to make you feel like you are the epitome of fall aesthetic goals, reading a book whilst drinking English Breakfast No.1 with the sight of crunchy, orange tree leaves right outside the windowsill. Basically, reading these books makes me feel fuzzy and cozy, so I am sharing them with you in the hopes that they have the same effect this fall season. 

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

For a classic love story that weaves in loss, hope, dreams and everything in between, read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” It may be as basic as a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, but that’s part of its charm. Beautifully written and not cheesy at all, “The Great Gatsby” will either make you really nostalgic for your own past or cathartically release your cynicism of the future.

Anything “Harry Potter” by J.K Rowling

It’s always a good time to read or re-read anything from the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling. However, reading any or all of the books by this wondrous author during the fall is sure to put you in the best crunchy leaves and cozy blankets mood.  I prefer to go for the first books in the series to get the full nostalgia effect, but anything is fair fall game here!

“A Separate Peace” by John Knowles

What’s better to read than a book about friendship and loss at a time when you just want a good cry? This book by John Knowles is beautiful in its depiction of the realistic, perfectly imperfect friendship between main characters Gene and Finny. Although it may be a little on the sadder side, this book will have you sniffling while dreaming of its New Hampshire setting and yearning for pumpkin pie to fill that newly punctured hole in your heart.

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

Mystery lovers who want a book they will not be able to put down, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn is for you. This is a read that is so intense and mind-bending that it will have you quarantined with tea and blankets all day. If you have already seen the movie, try to forget it, because the book is so much better!

“The Shining” by Stephen King

For those of you not down for the romance and sniffles, there is always Stephen King, whose work in “The Shining” will have you reaching for the cozy blanket – this time to cover your entire body and hide from the fear. Not exactly a cozy read, but definitely one to get the chilly, fall feels that make you want some greasy comfort food and happy people to keep you company.

The Kahlo Effect

Frida Kahlo’s impact as an artist and Mexican icon reaches far beyond her unique style and admirable pompadour. She recognized human pain for what it was: bearable and beautiful in its human exclusivity.

Many people tend to forget or simply don’t know the effect of Frida Kahlo as an artist during and after her time. This short commemoration of her story and art is meant to remind the aforementioned individuals that the Kahlo effect is perpetually alive and universal. 

For those of you who might not know, Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist of the early 20th century whose talent and colorful lifestyle made her a celebrity throughout Mexico, the U.S.A and Europe. She was born on July 6, 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico, to a photographer father and extremely Catholic mother. Frida’s artistic aspirations were deeply influenced by her close and loving relationship with her father from a very early age. However, as her interest in art was developing, Frida contracted polio. At only age 6, Kahlo had to endure months of bed rest, contracted diseases that affected her spinal and leg development and ended up with one leg that was visibly thinner than the other (Kahlo’s iconic look with long traditional Mexican skirts actually comes from her wanting to hide this fact!). Although this already seems like a lot of pain for one person to handle, at age 18 Frida was involved in a horrific train accident where a handrail pierced her abdomen and forever changed her life. After, she was once again confined to bed rest, but now she also had to face a future filled with perpetual fatigue, chronic pain, invasive surgeries and heartbreaking miscarriages.

After the accident, Kahlo used painting to cope with her pain. She painted most of the masterpieces we know her for today just laying on her bed, trying to make sense of her tragic reality. Her life went on to include a scandalous three time marriage with Diego Rivera, controversial political advocacy for communism and companionship with history’s most notorious artistic celebrities. But what’s really important about Frida Kahlo is not how big of a star she was or continues to be. It is the legacy of her art. Kahlo’s artistic obsession with her own physical and spiritual self creates art that reflects universal pain, longing, passion and desire.

The Kahlo effect found in each one of Frida’s paintings, is a forced exploration of the self that steers you towards examining and ultimately appreciating all those times you’ve ever felt broken and were fishing for the will to live. Kahlo shares her suffering, worth and desires with authenticity and courage, and that is what has made her so artistically powerful. The mirror of self exploration pieced together by her art helps us to feel not alone in our human emotion and less irrational in our ‘dramatic’ expressions of pain. The Kahlo effect is real and beautiful. If you have not yet experienced it, I highly recommend taking a real look at her pieces. 

 

All images and rights belong to Frida Khalo.