Movie Suggestion: “The Happy Thieves” (1961)

Free Movie Suggestion: “The Happy Thieves” (1961)

I’ve always admired Rex Harrison as an actor. Yes, he had an iconic voice, bastardized by Stewie Griffin, but he was also suave, humorous, and tragic. My two favorite films of his are Preston Sturges’ “Unfaithfully Yours” and  Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”, which I suggested in a past post. If you’re new to Rex Harrison and want to see him at his best, watch those two. If you wish to see a confusing, often dull, art caper, then watch “The Happy Thieves”.


I’m not fair since this is a good movie and worth watching thanks to Mr. Harrison and an always fetching Rita Hayworth. Though, the plot was a bit difficult to follow, and I’m not sure if the situation would be as charming and playful as the music suggested.

George Marshall, the film’s director, had been making movies for a long time when he made this one, and I’m not sure if it shows. So why did I watch it? Because I had the place to myself on a Saturday night, and I did what any 24-year-old man would do in that situation, watch an art caper starring Rex Harrison.

“The Happy Thieves”

Year: 1961

Director: George Marshall

Writers: John Gay (screenplay), Richard Condon (Novel)

Starring: Rex Harrison, Rita Hayworth, Joesph Wiseman, Alida Valli

Plot: “A suave art thief romances a wealthy duchess, only to enable him to steal a priceless painting from her collection. Complications ensue.” – Via IMDB

the_happy_thieves_movie_suggestionIf you’re interested in more movie suggestions, or just need something to stream on Netflix, scroll through my past posts.


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Books & Tea | Guest Post by Nicole Martin of “Tea For Me Please”

Books & Tea | Nicole Martin

I’m a novice when it comes to tea. Though I drink a couple cups a day, I don’t know a whole lot about the history and variety of many teas. Let’s just say I’m a passionate student. Luckily there are experts out there, and one of those experts was kind enough to create a guest post for my Books & Tea series. I’m thrilled to introduce Nicole Martin of Tea For Me Please as my first guest author. Make sure to visit her blog as often as you drink tea. Enjoy!

Books & Tea | by Nicole Martin


Check out Nicole Martin’s fantastic tea blog!

I’ve always been a voracious reader so it was only natural that a large part of my journey with tea has happened through books. When Jay first asked me to write a guest post, I had a hard time narrowing the list down to just a few. Some of these helped start me on the path to discovery while others filled in the blanks on the more in depth topics. The teas that I’ve paired them with are some of my personal favorites.

books_and_tea_nicole_martinBook: Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by Camellia Sinensis Tea House


Tea: She Qian Dragonwell from Teavivre



This book was a collaborative effort of the owners of Montreal based Camellia Sinensis Tea House. It is as beautiful as it is thorough. It is even used as a textbook for the Tea Sommelier program of the Canadian Tea Association. Dragonwell is often considered to be the penultimate Chinese green tea, making it the perfect companion. Drink it grandpa style (in a tall glass, using your teeth as a strainer) to really see it shine.

books_and_tea_nicole_martin_chinaBook: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose

Tea: Arya Ruby Darjeeling Second Flush by Happy Earth Tea



Who doesn’t love a tale of agricultural espionage? This historical fiction follows Robert Fortune to China as he goes undercover, smuggling tea plants on behalf of the British East India Company. The fruits of his labor would come to thrive in a Himalayan hill station called Darjeeling. Known for their muscatel aromas, Darjeeling is often referred to as the champagne of teas. This second flush from the famed Arya Estate is one that I look forward to drinking every year.

puertea_books_and_teaBook: Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang


Tea: Autumn Loose Leaf Puerh from Misty Peak Teas



Puerh is one of the most complex types of tea. Would you believe that FDA restrictions kept it from being imported to the U.S. until 1997? This book is a report on Professor Zhang scientific study on the rise and fall of the puerh pricing bubble. Many of the events take place in Yiwu village so a nice sheng puerh from this region is just the thing to help you wade through information overload. Don’t let the initial bitterness scare you! Patient drinkers will rewarded with a comeback sweetness called hui gan.

books_and_tea_nicole_martinBook: The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

Tea: Organic Ceremonial Matcha from DōMatcha




Although it was written in 1906, tea drinkers still find Okakura’s essay relevant today. It is more about the philosophy of tea than the drink itself. He explains to a western audience how both the aesthetic and cultural aspects of Japanese culture relate to tea. Matcha is touted for its health benefits but my favorite part is the boost of calm energy that it provides. Whisk up a bowl the traditional way or make a latte, you’ll enjoy it either way.

Contributing to Books & Tea

If you’re interested in contributing a post or a photo for my monthly Books & Tea series, send me an email ( or connect with me via Instagram. Thanks again to Nicole Martin of Tea For Me Please for this excellent guest post.


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June Playlist

A Playlist for June

Last Tuesday, Joe, Kyle, and I went for a “moonlight” hike at Malibu Creek State Park. The hike has been a favorite of ours, thanks to its remarkable views and Kyle’s diehard fascination with the show M.A.S.H – legend has it they filmed a few exterior shots there, and by legend has it I mean they did; there’s a sign that says so. Our mission was to see the full moon from a location that’s not adulterated by smog and light pollution. For reasons I can’t explain – I’m not a scientist -we couldn’t see the moon no matter how high in elevation we climbed.

jay_jasinski_blog_june_playlistAll in all, it was still a pleasant time. I watched the various warblers and finches buzz around catching bugs like some WWI dogfight. Joe and Kyle did a healthy amount of rock tossing. One of these rock tosses consisted of trying to hit the porta johns far below us. I was hoping they would hit their target, and we’d hear a faint “someone’s in here.”

June is a nice month. I don’t have much to say about it, but I will note that it’s a charming prologue to July, my second favorite month. I hope you find at least one song you enjoy in my playlist for June.

June Playlist

Isn’t it a Pity (Version One) – George Harrison

Jessamyn’s Reel – Chris Thile

Bon Ton Roulet – Clifton Chenier

Since I Met You Baby – Ivory Joe Hunter

No, No, No – Beirut

I’m in the Mood For Love – Bryan Ferry

Little Pad – The Beach Boys

Apur Sansar – Satyajit Ray

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow – Hazel Dickens

Levee – Daniel Bachman

On the Banks of Owchita – John Fahey

Henry Martin – Bert Jansch

Easy Living – Clifford Brown


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Books & Tea | June, 2015

Books & Tea | June, 2015

Books_And_Tea_june_jay_jasinskiRestorative Yoga on a Full Bladder

My Los Angeles metamorphosis is finally complete; I went to my first yoga class this weekend. It was restorative yoga. Though I didn’t do any yoga prior to the class, I figured I qualified for some restoration given the fact I spent my Saturday night drinking wine and watching “Celebrity Wife Swap” (not ashamed). The studio was only a five-minute drive from my place. That in itself is considered restorative in Los Angeles, a city where I’ve driven forty minutes just to eat breakfast.

It was clean, quiet, and warm. I was self-conscious of the yoga mat I brought since I convinced myself it was too long, and they would laugh me out of the building. Turns out that’s how long yoga mats are supposed to be. If anything, the mat could’ve been a bit longer, but that’s neither here nor there. I haven’t been to many yoga classes in my life, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they can’t start a class until an out-of-shape guy that looks like Moby shows up. I set up my mat right next to this Moby man and took in the atmosphere, which was clean, quiet, and warm. I was hoping we would go around the room for introductions and “one fun fact” so I could tell the class about the organic shirt I was wearing, but that never happened. The teacher was welcoming and professional. I should note that I have a significant crush on her, but that’s neither here nor there.

We grabbed blankets, a block, a bolster pillow, and a strap. I’m usually hesitant to jump into something I need a strap for, but this seemed harmless enough. I mean, when’s the last time you heard of someone getting hurt doing restorative yoga? The first three poses were relaxing and felt great on my neck and back. I appreciated when the teacher would readjust my blanket, so it better fit the curve of my neck; It was like being tucked into mindfulness. The repetitive, ambient music helped me focus on my breath, which rose and fell like the waves of a calm ocean. The mindful state I cultivate didn’t last long, thanks to the man two mats over who instantly fell asleep with each new pose. As he snored away like an idiot, I lied there wondering if Moby was so far along in his yoga practices that he could reach mindfulness despite such distractions.


When Restorative Yoga Becomes Torture

Your mind is hard to turn off. It’s like a machine that won’t stop until you enter a fifteen character code you forgot to write down. This is something you learn real quick when you start practicing yoga or meditation, but like anything else worth doing in life, it doesn’t come easily. Two poses later I was able to focus on my breath and return to a state of relaxation; that is until the second distraction kicked in. When you read that you’re not supposed to drink too much water before a yoga class, don’t take it lightly. Being the gentleman that I am, and given the fact no one but the teacher had spoken a word, I decided not to disrupt the restorative atmosphere by asking where the restrooms were. I figured I could tough it out through the next few poses and then run to the bathroom. I was dead wrong. The next pose had us lie on our stomachs with our hips, and bladder, pressed firmly against the pillow. In other words, it was the worst pose you could do when you have to pee.

While everyone else drifted off to that heavenly place between consciences and sleep, I shook from pain as I tried not to pee my pants in front of a room full of strangers. I’ve never heard sweeter words than when the instructor whispered, “take a deep breath and slowly sit up.” I’ve never sat up faster in my life. As my fellow yogis lied down for the next pose, I rose my hand, like a real gentleman, and kindly asked where the restrooms were. Little did I know this was the final pose I was interrupting. I peed through the entire sequence, feeling more restored than I could ever remember feeling. Like the chime of a Tibetan singing bowl, the sound of me closing the bathroom door marked the end of the class.

Would I do it again? Yes, of course, I just won’t drink three glasses of water before I go.

On a different note, I’m thrilled to see the response these Books & tea posts have been getting. You’ll notice this month’s edition has a few guest posts from fellow books and tea lovers. If you’re interested in participating in the next one, connect with me on Instagram or shoot me an email!

Book and Tea Pairings for June, 2015

books_and_tea_june_jay_jasinskiJohn James Audobon by John Kieran

As you may know, John James Audobon was a great ornithologist and an even better painter. I picked up this book from Amazon while buying every Kieran novel I could find; he’s one of my favorite authors.

Tea: Assam: Bukail Garden



books_and_tea_june_jay_jasinskiHerzog by Saul Bellow

I haven’t gotten a chance to finish this one, but I’m thrilled to have found it in the sad looking “free books” cart the Santa Monica Library rolls out every Friday.

Tea: Organic Apricot Amaretto




books_and_tea_jay_jasinskiNorwegain Wood by Haruki Murakami

This is a guest post from the lovely Maira Frappé. Maira is a freelance graphic designer from Mexico and takes incredible photos. Make sure you check out her tumblr!

Tea: English Breakfast Tea



books_and_tea_jay_jasinskiThe Infusiast by Robert Gordon

If you’re looking for a witty, yet informative book on tea, then you’ll want to check out The Infusiast – diatribes from the devotea. The Devotea was kind enough to send me some delicious teas and the book. Thanks!

Tea: Lord Petersham Black Tea



books_and_tea_nicole_martinThe Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō

This is another wonderful guest post from leading tea blogger Nicole Martin. Check out her insightful blog Tea For Me Please and follow her on twitter.

Tea: Organic Ceremonial Matcha from DōMatcha 


Have a book and tea pairing you’d like to share? Connect with me on Instagram and use #BooksAndTea or contact me at


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Movie Suggestion: What a Way to Go! (1964)

Movie Suggestion: What a Way to Go!

Shirley_maclaineYear: 1964

Director: J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone, Cape Fear)

Plot: Via IMDB: “A four-time widow discusses her four marriages, in which all of her husbands became incredibly rich and died prematurely because of their drive to be rich.”

Writers: Gwen Davis (Story), Betty Comden (Screenplay), Adolph Green (Screenplay)

Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Dick Van Dyke

Costume Design: Edith Head

Why Watch: The exclamation mark in the title is well deserved in this one. From the incredible cast to Edith Head’s costumes (she won a record eight Academy Awards for costume design over her illustrious career), What a Way to Go! is a movie lover’s dream. The script is witty and unpretentious, allowing the cast to take their silliness way too seriously, which leads to even more silliness. For instance, Paul Newman, who plays “starving artist” Larry Flint, pokes fun at his reputation as a serious actor as he praises the artistic genius of local chimp that paints.

what_a_way_to_go_robert_mitchumI had the privilege of seeing this gem at the New Beverly Theater, owned by Quentin Tarantino, alongside an enthusiastic crowd. Movies like this are meant to be seen on a big screen, which is why it’s such a damn shame I’ve had to watch most of them on a computer.

Gene Kelly’s dance sequence, Dean Martin plowing a field while reading Thoreau, Dick Van Dyke and Shirl Maclaine’s stab at a silent film. I could list about a 100 more reasons to watch this movie, but I think it’s easiest if you just watched What a Way to Go!

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2,270 Miles and a Moleskine Notebook: My Trip West (Part VI) | by Jay Jasinski

The Grand Canyon: The Colorado River’s Magnum Opus

Does this even count as non-fiction if I’m writing it more than a year later? Sure, my battered moleskine has notes, but what about the time between the notes? Stephen King writes about this a lot, how all memory is fictional, and I think he’s onto something. That being said, don’t take anything I write in this overdue chapter as not true. What I meant by that opening statement is that I’m a different person now; there’s no denying that.

grand_Canyon_Jay_JasinskiIn case you can’t see the canyon, my Dad was kind enough to point it out.

You can’t live two years in a new place and expect to stay the same. Other than the obvious change of being older I’m, dare I say it, wiser. You can’t hike up to the top of King’s Canyon and feel simultaneously like nothing and everything all at once and not leave at least slightly humbled. Regardless of who is writing this post, road-trip Jay or current Jay, I still feel the need to continue the journey. Enjoy.

“God if you won’t help me, then at least help me help me” Lee Hazlewood.

Thank you for your fresh air, Flagstaff

According to Wikipedia, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep. That’s 5,994 feet taller than myself. Given its nearly incomprehensible size, Lee and I figured it was worth checking out. But before we can head up to Ongtupqa, which means Grand Canyon in Hopi, we have to drive through Flagstaff.

Flagstaff, Arizona feels familiar to me, which is a surprise given the fact I’ve never been here before. Perhaps it’s because it reminds me of Colorado, but with less “can you see the shotgun rack in my truck?” mentality. This is my kind of city.  First off, having just spent endless hours driving through the desert, I appreciate the cooler weather. Second, Flagstaff isn’t Amarillo, which means, given that I don’t fall into the canyon, it won’t be the worst stop on the trip. Finally, I’ve grown tired of being able to see for miles. Sometimes you need to focus on the things right in front of you – or, rather, right outside of your car.

We decide we’re hungry, which is my queue to consult Google for a restaurant. Mexican sounds fitting, so we go to the closest one we can find – don’t worry, it has a high score on Yelp. We seemed to have just missed the heavy post-school crowd and enjoy fast service. Our waitress is polite and sweet. Unlike most waitresses and waiters I’ve encountered in my life, she doesn’t seem distracted by daydreams of doing anything else but waiting tables. We soon discover her expertise in hospitality doesn’t cover the base of directions so her father, I assume, joins the discussion. Without hesitation, this mustached man lays out old-fashioned directions to a canyon that is also, arguably, old-fashioned. It’s funny how enthusiastic he is to tell us “one street, two street, turn right” when I’m sure he’s had this discussion a thousand times before. Some people only need to be helpful to be happy.

The Canyon – Oh boy, is it ever grand!

I can’t remember where or how I attained this information, but apparently the park has three distinct forests at different altitudes:

4,200 to 6,200 feet – Pinyon Forrest (Utah Junipers)

6,500 to 8,200 feet – Ponderosa Pine

8,200 feet plus – Spruce-fir

The forest at the top reminds me of Ontario. I should also note that the weeds and plants found here have the loveliest names: groundsels, yarrow, cinquefol, lupines.

grand_canyon_Jay_jasinskiLittle did I know I was getting a devastating sunburn while posing for this picture.

It’s impossible – for me at least, I’m sure Yeats or Tennyson could do it – to put into words the feeling you get when you first see the canyon. It’s the definition of ineffable. The feeling is closer to terror than it is to awe as if you see something you’re not supposed to. I’m sad to admit, but it does make you want to take a picture. Looks like I’m not the only one, given the fact people are lined up shoulder-to-shoulder along the edge, like an environmental protest to protect the park. Sadly, the only thing being protected here are people’s egos. It’s like some demented race as people frantically upload their images on Facebook and overuse the word “wanderlust” – I’m uploading a picture to Instagram as I think of this.

Jokes aside, people don’t seem to give a damn whether or not they fall while taking a picture. For instance, I notice a man with his heels lined up with the last bit of land the canyon offers. It’s infuriating to watch. If you don’t value your life enough to stand at least a foot from certain death, then that’s okay, you’re a moron, but if you feel you need to drag your daughter into the stunt, then you’re homicidal. Sadly, this is what we had to witness: a grown ass man holding a child over his shoulder as they both smiled for the camera. People were vocally upset, including my Dad. They didn’t fall.

I hear a park ranger tell someone that 300 people fall into the canyon a year. A boy says, “who pays for the recovery of the body?” A creepy question for a youngster to ask. “There’s not much left to recover,” she replies.

My Grand Anxiety

I think some people don’t understand anxiety the same way I don’t fully understand depression. For instance, how could anyone develop a fear of sleep? It’s a fear of the process of falling asleep, the same way people fear the dark. In some ways it’s similar to the feeling you get after seeing a scary movie; that dread of having to turn off the lights and retire to your bed. Once you lie awake for three, four, five hours a night, sometimes for a week straight, your bedroom is no longer a welcoming place.

What it comes down to, in my opinion, is a fear of failure. I’m scared I’ll fail at something that is, to most, easy to do. It’s like being thirsty and not being able to pick up the glass because your hands are shaky. The failure doesn’t end with not sleeping; it seeps into the next day as well. “If I don’t sleep, how will I be able to write that paper I promised to get done?” “If I don’t sleep, how will my body recover from the jog I took earlier?” “If I don’t sleep, will my hair fall out?”

When you’re lying in bed thinking about things like that, sleep don’t come easy.

Well, this is how I felt when I left Michigan and still feel at the moment. I know these anxieties are a product of my inability to control my mind, yet it seems, on the surface, to be nothing more than my brain forgetting how to go from on mode to off mode. It’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s so frustrating it starts to take away from the other aspects of my life. I mean, just look at me now; I’m in the presence of one of the most sublime geological destinations on the planet and all I can think about is whether or not I’ll be able to fall asleep in the hotel later tonight.

My Grand Solution – No, I Don’t Jump From the Cliff

I may sound obsessive, but I’m no dummy. If I’m going to be successful in a strange land, I have to come to terms with this anxiety and not let it stop me from enjoying and learning about life. That being said, I’ve engineered a catharsis – sometimes you can’t wait for life to do it for you. On a piece of paper torn from my notebook, I wrote down three words: anxiety, worrying, and self-consciousness.  I crudely folded the paper to the best of my ability until it was the size of a thumbprint. I put it in my pocket and let it faintly scratch my leg as a reminder. Then, on a secluded path along the edge of the canyon, I slipped it under a brick-colored rock about as big as my fist and walked away.

grand_canyon_jay_jasinskiMy father walks in front of me, too distracted by the immense beauty of our surroundings to notice. I feel conflicted about what I’d just done. It was either a healing action, one that hints at a spiritual side or a cute idea; something the writer of  “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” would pitch.  I go with the former and decide to not let its HuffingtonPost-friendly overtones take away from its importance. I have a reason for putting that piece of paper there, and it’s a damn good one: Anxiety is a large problem for one six foot man. To a canyon that’s miles wide, it’s a small problem. I figure it won’t even notice its newest neurosis.

I expect to feel like Frodo after the whole ring in the pits of Mordor ordeal, but that’s not the case – though, judging from the hue of my sun burn, one would assume I fell into Mordor. I feel present. I watch the back of my Dad’s head as he navigates the trail. I think about how important this day is to him and how he deserves nothing less than my full attention. Buddhists believe the best way a person can show they care for someone is by being present.

I hope someday if I have a children I can visit a place like this with them and understand what it feels like from the other perspective. I hope they can tap into the healing power of the canyon and grab hold of the ever elusive feeling we call presence. I hope they take a moment to look at the back of my head – one that’s, fingers crossed, still fully covered in hair – and think, “there’s no one I’d rather experience this with than my Dad.” That’s how I felt after discarding the paper.

I notice an old building in the distance that looks like a restaurant. I hope they have beer.

grand_canyon_jay_jasinskiThis was the sign for the restroom

Turns out the old hotel, which overlooks the canyon – up here, not much doesn’t – has beer and snacks. We both order a cold one and share a few laughs and a plate of nachos. My Dad and I have taken this trip as an invitation to enjoy beer whenever we can.

A boy sporting a cowboy hat turns to talk to us. He’s curious and intelligent and talks more like an adolescent twice his age. He informs us of a great place for BBQ and drinks – where was this guy in Amarillo? His mom orders a cocktail and a glass of water, to which the boy responds, “make it three.” He means the water, but the timing makes it comical.

The drive back to downtown Flagstaff is refreshing. The sweet mountain air, cotton candy sky, and deep green pines work as a tonic for my wandering mind.

After a hearty meal at a local restaurant, we walk around the city until it’s time for bed. I sleep like a rock.

Ice Cream Bandit Chronicles:

After promising me he wouldn’t get ice cream, I caught my father eying a dirty looking Klondike bar at the small shop in the hotel’s lobby. With no surprise to either of us, that Klondike bar’s wrapper ended up in the white trash bin in our room. He seemed ashamed of his indulgence, but I could tell he was happy he ate it. What would you do for a Klondike bar, Lee? Break a promise to my son.

The previous chapter: 2,270 Miles and a Moleskine Notebook Part V

Start from the beginning: 2,270 Miles and a Moleskine Notebook Part I

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Books & Tea | May, 2015

Books & Tea | May, 2015

books_tea_jay_jasinskiI returned to Michigan this past weekend for Mother’s Day and to catch a break from endless honking. I’m far from the first person to discover that you can’t truly appreciate a location until you move away from it, but it’s a point worth reiterating. Look, I love living in Los Angeles, but it’s nice to go home and ride a bike unperturbed by the threat of careless drivers. Maybe I’m over-romanticizing my hometown, but it really is something out of a John Hughes movie. For instance, while riding my bike through the neighborhood, I was greeted by the waves of neighbors working in their yards, the smell of lilacs, and plenty of unsuspecting Robins. Call me sentimental, but there’s a certain peacefulness that can only come from familiarity.

In addition to the flowering trees of spring, I came home to a pile of used books my parents and sister rounded up at a large book sale. They did a fine job covering the bases of my interests, which there are many. The best part about the books is that they’re old; I would choose a worn, musky edition over an overpriced reprint from Barnes & Noble any day. Now that we’re on the topic of books, here are my book and tea pairings for May. Hope you have a good one and find the time to go for many Spring walks.

Book and tea pairings for May


A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

“Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well,” thought Lola as she inspected the book.

Tea:  Pu-erh Blood Orange (organic) with a splash of “milk”




Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The good thing about getting into Kurt Vonnegut is that he wrote so many books. For instance, I’ve read 15 of his 29 published works – I’m saving Slaughterhouse – Five for last.

Tea: Relaxed Mind Herbal Tea



El crimen perfecto by Jean Baudrillard

This lovely photo was taken by my friend Mon García. Check out her Instagram gallery!





Becoming Animal by David Abram

We’ve created a tragic distance between ourselves and nature. Thankfully, there are books like Becoming Animal to bring us back to where we belong.

Tea: Organic Orchard Berry from Two Leaves Tea (highly recommended)



Have a book and tea pairing you’d like to share? Connect with me on Instagram and use #BooksAndTea or contact me at


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May 2015 Playlist

May 2015 Playlist

“Comes a time
when you’re driftin’
Comes a time
when you settle down” – Neil Young

I think it’s about time I do some driftin’. At least that’s my romantic notion at the moment. Maybe it’s my age, but I can’t imagine the urge to “drift” around the country to ever cease. Oh well.

may_2015_playlist_jay_jasinskiI went for a hike at Wildwood Canyon yesterday, and it made me feel restored. It’s a path I frequent, so its familiarity makes me feel a little less lost in this mess of a city. That’s the best Los Angeles can offer: pockets of comfort. It’s like a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle a group of friends divided, managed to put together a few corners and most of the middle, then lost interest in finishing.

It’s amazing that you can find a place so quiet and, with the exception of one or two sweaty hikers, empty in a city of almost four million. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t manage without places like Wildwood Canyon.

I hope you’re all enjoying the month of May. Here are some tunes to listen to while you work in the yard or whatever it is you do this time of year. Enjoy.

May 2015 Playlist

Long Ago, Far Away – Odetta (Bob Dylan cover)

Real Real – Nina Simone

Sara Smile – Hall & Oates

If I Had a Hammer – Peter, Paul & Mary

Gue, Gue – The Kingston Trio


Green is the Colour – Pink Floyd

Just Another Honky – The Faces

Carolina Shout – Fats Waller

Wild Eyes – Mariee Sioux

Mother Nature’s Son – Davy Graham

Trade In – Lou Reed

Carrion Crawler – The Oh Sees

When it Started – The Strokes

Beat – White Fence

If I Ever Needed Someone – Van Morrison

Comes A Time – Neil Young


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Earth Day 2015 | A thought, a poem, and a book

Earth Day 2015 | “Taste all, and hand the knowledge down”

earth_day_jay_jasinskiI thought I should give Earth Day my admiration. Like most people my age I’m not sure what I’m doing or where I’m going, yet I’ve been able to find peace and wisdom in life and I owe most of that to my time spent in nature. Nature is our greatest ally in our interior struggle to be present and for that I’m thankful. Even if it’s for a short moment in a long day, I suggest being curious in, being grateful for, and learning from this planet we call home.

Here’s a poem by one of my favorite authors/environmentalists Gary Snyder:



In June two oaks fell,                                                                                                                            rot in the roots

Chainsaw in September                                                                                                                          In three days one tree                                                                                                                  bucked and quartered in the shed

Sour fresh inner oak-wood smell                                                                                                      the main trunk splits                                                                                                                        “like opening a book” (J. Tecklin)

And slightly humping oak leaves                                                                                                    deer muzzle and kick it,                                                                                                                   Boletus                                                                                                                                                  one sort, Alice Eastwood                                                                                                               pink, and poison;

To yellow. edulus                                                                                                                           “edible and choice.”                                                                                                                          only I got so slightly sick –

Taste all, and hand the knowledge down

I would also like to suggest this book by John Kieran. My parents found it at a used book sale and now it’s one of my favorites. Just like nature, his prose is calming, insightful, and ephemeral.

nature_book_earth_dayNow get off your computer and go for a walk.

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Books & Tea | April, 2015

Books & Tea | April, 2015


Sometimes I feel I get too hung up on what I read. It may be snobbish, misguided, or even a bit pretentious, but for the most part I only want to read what I consider to be, or what some “top ten list” tells me to be, the classics. Not necessarily the most popular, but at least any novel by a recognized author. Though it’s important to read these books, it’s also important to read, well, everything.

Here’s an example: My Grandma owns a charming little house on Anna Maria Island; a slowly fading relic of old-Florida. For Christmas I gave her a book that consisted of every personal story, newspaper headline, oddity, and historical footnote the residents of Anna Maria could gather. To be honest I’m not sure how to categorize it, since the author seemed to go door to door asking for any newspaper clippings or diary articles neighbors wanted to share. Some of the vignettes are well written, others a bit scrambled. Despite its inconsistencies, I found it to be an honest read – a rarity these days. The author wasn’t trying to go viral or make the bestseller list, she just wanted to document a long, special history; a story of how it used to be.

As a writer I’ll admit the best ideas for a character come from real life. But how do we find these characters? There are, in my opinion, two ways: observing and reading. Obviously it’s ill-advised to base a character on another fictitious character, but what about one from history? In the book, which I carelessly didn’t photograph, there’s a short paragraph about an iconic fisherman on the island. It noted he was over 300 pounds, jovial and a loyal friend. To illustrate his enormity, the author claimed he could drink a six-pack of beer and not show any effects. Rather unexpectedly, this fisherman was fluent in Shakespeare and could quote from memory. I would assume the locals took these quotes lightly given the fact he was ambiguously loaded at all times, but, to their surprise and mine, it was discovered after his death that he really did have an English degree from Harvard. Now that’s a character.

Sadly, I didn’t get a proper picture of the book I’ve been raving about, but I’ll start this list off with another book I found in the house. Enjoy.

Book and tea pairings for April


The Mangrove Coast  by Karl A. Bickel

Not the best read, but the cover is pleasant.

Tea: Organic Orange Sencha





twin_peaks_bookWelcome to Twin Peaks

Too sad about David Lynch backing out of the new Twin Peaks season that I can’t even open this one.

Tea: Organic Breakfast Blend and a slice of cherry pie





vladimir_nabokov_bookGlory  by Vladimir Nabokov

I haven’t finished this one so I can’t comment, but Nabokov writes as pretty as a butterfly.

Tea: Golden Chamomile Blossoms





books_tea_jay_jasinskiThe Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

Speaking of characters, not only did Norman Mailer know how to write one, he was one.

Tea: English Breakfast With a Splash of Cheap Bourbon





Please share what you’re reading and sipping this month. Interested in participating in next month’s Books & Tea? Shoot me an email ( or connect with me on Instagram.


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