"I dissected a frog once."

I had to chuckle at this quip by Jake Sully when he was asked by Dr. Grace Augustine about the amount of training that he had for the mission on Pandora. It reminded me of a similar dialogue in The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon asked Penny about her knowledge of science. While dissecting frogs can be messy enough to make you feel like you gutted a deer, reviewing Avatar won't be. In fact, this is going to be a swift one since I'm generally impressed by the movie.

I watched it in IMAX yesterday with a friend. When I found out that it was available in 3D format, I knew that was the only way to watch it. I'm pleased by that decision despite shelling out a few hundred pesos for a ticket. Absolutely no regrets.

The moment I put on the 3D glasses, I knew I was in for a visual treat and James Cameron didn't disappoint. The level of detail was astonishing -- from the base of the RDA corporation to Pandora's flora and fauna. While there were some bits that were seen in other movies, say for example the mech suit used by Col. Quaritch, these seem to blend well with the movie's overall environment.

Despite its sensory brilliance, Avatar was one of those movies I wouldn't pay to watch again. For one reason: the simplicity of the plot. Don't get my wrong. The plot is good. I easily understood it and had no questions. However, it didn't have a lingering effect, the elusive IT factor, that would make me watch it over and over again until I'm sated. Only three movies did that for me this year -- Star Trek XI, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Avatar didn't move me emotionally as well; Up and District 9 filled those shoes quite nicely.

Aside from the plot's simple nature, the acting may have contributed to it as well. To be honest, I like the cast (Hello Giovanni Ribisi! And Sigourney Weaver!) but their performances were a bit off or somewhat needed a little push in the right direction. Those who stood out for me were Joel David Moore (Norm Spellman) and Zoë Saldaña (Neytiri). Seeing CCH Pounder's name in the end credits was a welcome surprise to me. Sam Worthington had the right look for the part but there were instances when I was expecting more emotion, more depth from his face which looked blank at times. Michelle Rodriguez was being... well... Michelle Rodriguez.

Overall, I still recommend that you watch this. If you love movies, Avatar is something you should never pass up. I will suggest though that you watch it right, especially if you just plan to see it once. Check it out in IMAX 3D, no less. Don the glasses because if you're going to see it in regular format, you will miss a lot.

Rating: 4 out of 5 kilos of unobtanium

Cinema 2009

Happy Christmas everyone! Hope you're having a good one.

Instead of talking about my recent hauls or the fun stuff I received from friends and loved ones, I'd rather blog about something really COOL and AWESOME. The witty folks over at Film School Rejects tweeted this year-end mashup by Kees van Dijkhuizen. For a person who loves watching movies, it's an fab recap to the year that was. Enjoy, share and don't forget to credit!

Above & Beyond The Franchise

Apologies for the gap in between blog posts: it's part work-imposed, part lazy bones. All I could afford now is to share the things I look forward to. And these two movie trailers I'm sharing are definitely going to be on my watch list this 2010.

Most of my friends know that I'm a fan of Kristen and Robert long before they found themselves connected to the Twilight franchise. Don't get me wrong, I love that they're Bella and Edward incarnate. But I'm looking forward to seeing them in movies outside of the franchise. While each have films shown between Twilight and New Moon -- namely: Little Ashes, Adventureland, The Cake Eaters, What Just Happened, The Yellow Handkerchief -- these were shot before they became Hollywood's stars on the rise. I've been itching to see them shoot other films in between and boy, I got my wish. So far, these teaser trailers featuring the duo are awesome in my book. Let's start with...


I have seen this for quite sometime now. Still never fails to elicit that cheeky smile and warm feeling. Rob and Emilie de Ravin (Lost) have great chemistry. Not much is known about the movie except that it tells a tale of two lovers, Tyler and Ally, whose relationship is in danger because of their respective family tragedies. Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper and Lena Olin also star.

Now this one, I have been itching to see any teasers the moment I found out that both Kristen and Dakota were signed on to this movie. And thanks to a good friend, here's the teaser. Suffice to say, I'm blown away. Rock on girls!

Looks like 2010 is shaping up to be another excellent year for movies. Bring on the popcorn! :D

My 75mph Playlist

Hey there! I haven't really blogged in a while. Partly because of work and writer's block. I was thinking about making a movie review but I needed some more time before I put in on paper. And lately, all I could manage to squeeze in while working would be listening to music. It was then that I realized that it's been a while since I shared a playlist. Inspired by my recent dream where I was driving a bright yellow Porsche turbo in France's beautiful countryside, I now present to you...

My 75mph Playlist

A quick confession though before I continue: I don't drive. I haven't touched a stick shift and closest experience I'd have to driving would be in a bumper car (which I'm actually good at, both offensive and defensive). But I frequently find myself being the designated navigator during road trips with friends, with an added responsibility of picking out the music to keep the driver awake. Every single time we hit the expressways, I find myself playing certain songs and start to wonder what it feels like behind the wheel. And these songs... well... some of them are not exactly for the faint of heart...

  1. Song 2 by Blur
  2. Nice To Know You by Incubus
  3. Low Rider by War
  4. Tick, Tick, Boom by The Hives
  5. Midnight Show by The Killers
  6. Twenty-Twenty Surgery by Taking Back Sunday
  7. Typical by MuteMath
  8. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is by Jet
  9. Push It by Garbage
  10. The Shock of the Lightning by Oasis
  11. Massive Crush by The Barbs
  12. Dropped by Phantom Planet
  13. Great DJ by The Ting Tings
  14. Is It Any Wonder by Keane
  15. One Week of Danger by The Virgins
  16. Sugar, We're Going Down by Fall Out Boy
  17. Last Day of Magic by The Kills
  18. New Again by Taking Back Sunday

Whew! I could add a few more songs but if the car only had audio disc player, I think 18 tracks will cut it. LOL. Hmm... What if I had a car and knew how to drive? That list would probably be longer than EDSA. By a mile. Hehe.

This Post Speaks For Itself

Ten Minutes Of Solitude

I noticed that since Wednesday, it's always raining during the end of my shift. Not sure if it was the weather telling me to extend my time at the office or my workload but Libis can be pretty shitty traffic-wise especially when it rains. It didn't help when I found out something bad about my timekeeping. I raised my sarcasm sign last Tuesday. It always went up a notch every single hour, moreso around yesterday afternoon. The last time I felt this much sarcasm was in 2001. A part of me wanted to find something to balance it out. Never realized that it would come from Mother Nature (or Metro Manila pollution?).

As I was getting some spare change to pay for my tricycle ride home, I thought I needed glasses because the streets leading to our place looked a bit hazy. It was only when I got out the tricycle when I noticed the air's biting chill. Did I mention that I went home late because I rendered OT? Anyway, I started to rub my eyes to check if I really need glasses. It was then that I realized that there's a soft blanket of fog looming above our subdivision. I got reminded that it was already September but I still wasn't convinced until I felt a small part of the walkway leading to our home. It was moist, dewy. So I stayed out for a while, staring at the dark sky, marvelling at the fog, enjoying the solitude. No vehicles passed for about ten minutes along our street, which is quite rare at nine in the evening. Then I felt a few warm tears. I closed my eyes and breathed. I wiped my tears and walked towards the house.

On our dark, hazy street, I was just me. I didn't have any labels, roles and even titles to fulfill or live up to. I felt bare, emotionally raw yet peaceful, still. The sarcasm sign was withdrawn even for a short time. And it felt good. Just when you think you start to feel numbed by life's curveballs, something inspires you. I sneezed a lot before I slept but it was worth it. Thank goodness, the moment presented itself when I needed it the most. For that, I'm grateful.

Tales Out Of Left Field

Last Friday afternoon, I got a text message from a very good friend, telling me that I won a pair of advance screening tickets to Land of the Lost! Thank goodness my shift would end early enough for me to do something else before the movie starts. Well, that is, if my work doesn't get too trigger happy with overtime. Even so, I'm confident I'll be there with enough time to spare. Glad to take along another friend with me. While I'm not exactly a Will Ferrell fan, the movie seems interesting enough. It'll be the first time I see Anna Friel on screen post-Pushing Daisies and A Midsummer Night's Dream. One dose of laughter, here I come.


During that same Friday, I got shocked in a not-so-good way. It was so bad I think I was either gnashing my teeth or biting my tongue in order to hide my disbelief. Talk about literally being left behind. Even if I felt my new ATM in my pocket, it couldn't reduce that feeling of reckless abandonment. This is coming from the heels of an orientation wherein I was reassured that I will be asked to put out fires without seeing someone else demonstrate it first. Oh well, so much for great expectations. It's now becoming more obvious to me that it's how things are in that group. Oh, the irony of it all. Being greeted by that supposed seal of quality every time I exit the lifts exacerbates the irony further.


Last Saturday, my very good friend and I watched District 9. Having watched UP with her a week before that, she asked me to choose from either watching the same movie in 3D format or another movie. While I wanted to stick to our original plan, I was planning on watching The Time Traveler's Wife and District 9. I thought a new movie would be fun. Between the two movies, I was leaning more towards District 9 since I've been hearing a lot of great feedback from the movie critics I follow on Twitter. When I found out that she hasn't watched it too, I think that helped me seal the deal. Besides, I'd prefer watching a movie with a Sci-Fi/Thriller label with someone. For some reason, it helps lessen the chances of me having nightmares about such kind of movies.

Two hours after, not only were my fears unfounded, I was completely amazed by the whole movie. Gore notwithstanding, what caught me off-guard was the movie's unique brand of storytelling and direction. I think it helped that the movie featured mostly unknown actors (like Cloverfield) as it allowed moviegoers to zero in on the story. It was fluid, simple yet heartbreaking in spots. The special effects were amazing despite the movie's relatively low budget. The rough-around-the-edges look may suggest such but it only adds more depth to the movie. Neill Blomkamp proved a lot of things, enough for me to say that I'll be looking forward to his future endeavors. No wonder Peter Jackson stands behind him. I won't mind watching the movie again. For now, I'll immerse myself with the movie's virals which would definitely enrich my District 9 experience.


The past few months have offered a lot of unexpected twists and turns for me, even more in the last few weeks. It's all part of my life now, I guess.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Come this Wednesday, I'll be on my third week with my new job. Same field but different industry. And surprisingly so. I never imagined I'd be able to work for such an organization despite my lack of industry-related experience. But I guess my communication skills won them over. After my three-day honeymoon, I was thrust headlong onto what could be one of the most stressful jobs I've ever had in my life.

Not that I hate stress enough to banish it from my existence. Stress is somewhat Work's bitter, evil twin sister. I remembered when I started working. I took it as hard as I could. I wanted to excel at what I'm doing, make a career out of it. Wondering what has changed since then? Oh well, I just had to deal with a little thing called quarter-life crisis plus a good dose of Stephen Covey and I declared war against my own workaholic self. Balance became my goal. It's a constant struggle to this day but I think I'm able to manage it already.

Despite the odd hours of my new job, my calendar is still filled with a good dose of non-work stuff. Name it -- watching movies or TV series, attending to fandom stuff, reading a book (although a little slowly, I admit), meeting friends for dinner -- I find myself making time for it. A bit more vigilantly, I suppose. Maybe that's my way of restoring balance. Even if there were instances wherein I'd loose precious hours of sleep, it's okay. Being able to do non-work stuff brings back some of that lost energy. Quite frankly, my life hasn't been... well... normal for the last few months. So why stop now? ;)

The Purist In Me Is Not Happy

Most of my friends know, especially those who share my passion for The Twilight Saga, that among all the four books, New Moon happens to be my favorite. Breaking Dawn is a close second. So when all sorts of controversies erupted within weeks after Twilight was released -- from Catherine Hardwicke being replaced to possibly re-casting someone else for the role of Jacob Black -- I was particularly worried for New Moon. Despite Stephenie's reassurance that Chris Weitz will do a good job, I maintained a healthy amount of skepticism and detachment so as to not set any great expectations. However, my EQ couldn't stand not knowing anything because spoilers don't really wash away the excitement for me. And from what was known so far about New Moon's production, I noticed certain adaptation problems that made the meticulous ab lover... err... purist in me, a very unhappy girl. Let's start of with...

Adding more Edward in the movie

The same group of friends I mentioned above also know that I'm a fan of Robert Pattinson circa Vanity Fair days. I'm not a full-on Rob fan girl. If I see him in person, I'd probably not faint. I think I'll even manage to shake his hand, get an autograph and our picture taken, and ask how his day was. When rumors about incorporating a "force ghost" Edward to heighten Bella's hallucinations further, I was really worried. New Moon is a Bella/Jacob book. The relationship between both characters developed in this part of the series which will pave way for the love triangle in Eclipse. I find it odd that they had to resort to that tactic in order to keep the fans in. After seeing what the "force ghost" look like in one of the promotional trailers made for New Moon, it made me remember what was discussed during the lastest episode of the Danag Podcast: that scene really looked like a race game, e.g. Gran Turismo, and you get points for every marker crossed or completed. Oh well. Next on my hit list is...

The Bella/Edward Liplock in Volterra

Since fans have helped transform the Twilight franchise into Hollywood's shiny new toy, you know what comes next: paparrazi! When principal photography started last March 2009 in Vancouver, Twilighters were getting their fill of all possible gossip and spoiler-filled pictures. Therefore, you can just imagine the fandom explosion when this picture on the left appeared.

Was it hot? Scorching! Was it romantic? Kilig factor up! Was it accurate? A big flat NO! Why, you might ask?

This liplock should happen when both Bella and Edward have returned to Forks. Sure, Edward kissed Bella in Volterra but never on the lips! Both characters were uncertain what would happen to them, if and when they manage to walk away alive from the Volturi -- which they did after Alice allowed Aro to read her thoughts. The separation killed them, put them in too much pain. Both characters were gauging each other on their trip back to Forks. It was during the conversation in Bella's room -- in which their feelings for each other were reinforced despite the separation -- when Edward passionately kissed Bella on the lips. I'd like to think that this change is necessary for the adaptation. Therefore, I decided to look at other aspects of the production and I saw this...

Edward's Eyes Are Supposed To Be Black, Not Golden

Every Twilighter knows that the Cullen's eyes turn golden when they've fed, black when they're hungry. Bella noticed that Edward's eyes were black and had dark circles when they, as well as Alice, were sent to the reception area to wait for further instructions after their freedom has been granted by the Volturi. Bella even suggested to Edward that he should go and eat despite her own feelings of not wanting him out of her sight/reach.

Apparently, this bit got lost in adapation. The picture on the left is a screenshot of the latest promotional installment for the movie: the Meet Jacob Back featurette that was shown before Bandslam in the U.S., which is another Summit Entertainment production. Now, if you'll look closely, Edward's eyes are golden! Does that mean he was able to feed himself before he was tortured by Jane? Canon-wise, I don't think so.

I could cite a few more reasons that scare me about New Moon's adapation, such as Chris Weitz's vision of the Volturi or the insertion of about two or three scenes that weren't in the book. The latter makes me weary. More weary than Chris Weitz's version of the Volturi. Still, it doesn't lessen the frustration that I feel.

Since New Moon will be released in a few months from now, all I can do is to start lowering my expectations. I sincerely hope that I won't nit-pick the movie when it hits the cinemas.

A Filipina Like No Other

A wife who bared the injustice and the death of her husband. A leader of the famed bloodless revolution. A president who governed over a time of transition. A mother, not only to her children, but to all. A loyal servant of God. A woman of grace and substance. A Filipina like no other.

Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (January 25, 1933 - August 1, 2009)

You braved a great yet arduous fight. You lived a life worth emulating. May you rest in peace. Our prayers are with you and your family. You will be missed.

Ground Zero, Square One

In about 7 days, I've been a bum for 3 months. Well, not exactly. A professional job hunter. Yeah, that's sounds better. You'd probably be wondering why it's taking me this long to get a job? I'm wondering about it too. It's not as if I haven't looked for opportunities. I did some interviews already. However, the turnaround is as slow as a sure-footed turtle. I find myself often contemplating where did I go wrong or if I haven't exhausted all possible avenues. Now, at this juncture, I'm starting to flirt again with an industry that I've somehow managed to, consciously or not, avoid for as long as I can remember.

The first time I've flirted with this industry was when I was fresh out of college. The company, one of the most prestigious banking & finance organizations in the country, was in the middle of setting up their first 24x7 customer support facility. I was going to be one of the pilot members of that facility. Now, lo and behold, that miniscule pilot team has become this massive business group which by far is one of the best places to work in, if you were to consider the C&B package of a typical banking and finance organization. If I pursued that, I may be either one of the group's senior executives/managers today.

The second time I've flirted was two years after I started working. I was merely doing it as an exercise to test my marketability. The company's industry is similar to where I was working for at the time: telecommunciations. For some strange reason, I was probably one of the few candidates who were subjected to a panel interview by none other than 3 of the senior executives/managers of that business group. They were impressed by my qualifications and candor during the panel that they immediately considered me for a senior agent post with the promise of becoming a senior trainer upon regularization. It probably would've happened if I pursued it and eventually be one of those in the panel today. Like the previous one, the company is also a best place to work in.

You might wonder why I didn't pursue those opportunities. At the time, customer service wasn't really my cup of tea. I knew I wanted to be in training. My ideals got the better of me, I guess. To a certain extent, those choices served me well because of what I know and can do now. No regrets really. I made the decisions I needed to make at the time. It was all worth it.

Now, I'm flirting with the industry for the third time but with a clearer mindset and a more assertive heart. Maybe it's time to plunge into those waters, maybe not. All I know at this moment is that I need a job. I'm tired of being a bum. I want to feel the stress that comes with work. I want to feel useful again.

Three months ago, I hit ground zero. Three months later, I feel like I'm back at square one.

Like a phoenix, will I be able to rise from my ashes soon enough? Before I come undone?

I hope so. I really, really hope so.

In A Standstill

I haven't really blogged in a while. Maybe because my life has been in a complete standstill for the last month or so. I've been such a workhorse for as long as I can remember. For me to be given an abrupt and unexpected vacation is like crashing head first onto a water dam at 100 miles per hour. While I've tried to get the most out of this transition period, as if to compensate for all the lost hours of sleep and relaxation, I'm feeling really angsty and damn itching to get back into the grind. In a few weeks, this gap will mark the longest one in all my corporate transitions. The shortest? One weekend.

I can identify far too many reasons for this unjust occurrence. Global recession, ill-conceived top management actions, cost-efficiency measures, billable versus non-billable resources... Name it, it's all there and you can read it in any daily newspaper. It is easy to cast the blame on something you never wanted to happen for yourself. There's anger, for sure. Who wouldn't be especially if you were treated as if you had a deadly, communicable virus like swine flu and needed to be eradicated? Take note, eradicated and not quarantined. I didn't like it. I was actually belligerent when I was being read the contents of the crisp, cream letter which sounded like an arrest warrant: overused, impersonal and non-negotiable. Pardon the scathing metaphor but I couldn't help but be cynical every time I remember it. However, since I don't have any choice in the matter, at least never had anyway, I'd rather deal with it and move on.

This for me is a first. A misstep of sorts. And one that I do hope would be the last. While my options appear a lot considering the amount of opportunities for people like me, it still seems dim. My need is simple: a day job that allows me to exercise my capabilities while pays me enough to do the things I want to do. If the universe conspires to give me something as good as my last job with a greater assurance that I can last for years even if it takes more effort, I'm all for it. I haven't hit the panic button yet. I don't want to. But when push comes to shove, you can't really do anything else about it, right? Thus, I don't want to get at that point. I want to release the parachute at the right time so that I can land firmly, on two feet, and not flailing to my own death because I undervalued the target. Life has worked far too mysteriously for me sometimes. With God's grace, I hope I can see through this. All I need is for someone, somebody, to believe that I'm the right person. And I promise that I'll make it worth their while. That's how I've been, that's how I'll forever be.

Nothing But A Whole Lot Of Videos

Since I haven't created a new blog in days, I figured I should crank up the ol' embed feature again and share a good number of videos that were uploaded today on the MySpace Trailer Park and MTV.

First up is the New Moon trailer. The 15-second version released a few days ago sent every impatient Twilighter into a frenzy. This new one? It's worth the wait.

Next are a series of videos from the recently concluded MTV Movie Awards 2009 where Twilight won five (5) golden popcorns for Best Breakthrough Male, Best Female Performance, Best Fight, Best Kiss and Best Movie! Most of these are Twilight-related except for the last few ones at the end of this post.

Back-To-Back Best Fight Awardee: Cam Gigandet, a.k.a. The Man Who Never Disappoints

Rob's Reaction To Winning Best Fight: "It made me feel really tough!"

Best Female Performance... Or Kristen Stewart's Very Own Bella Moment...

Best Kiss... Almost...

Cast Reactions To Best Movie Win. Peter Facinelli: "We're going to Disneyland!"

Rob Confirms His New Movie

Okay, to relieve you of Twilight-related videos, here are some more from MTV Movie Awards 2009, starting with...

Dan, Rupert & Emma Present HBP Sneak Peak. Makes Me Go Accio July!

The Opener... Of Course...

Reserving The Best For Last... J.J. "The Man" Abrams On Keyboards!!! FTW!!! XD

Okay, my blog title did say a whole lot of videos. I know these are tough to load but they're worth watching. Hope to do a full blog next time. Adios!

When All You Can Do Is Gape

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

From L-R: John Cho, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto & J.J. Abrams. Photo taken by Andrew Eccles.

From L-R: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson & Rupert Grint. Photo taken by Matt Holyoak.

Oh, to be behind the lens...

P.S. Click on the pictures above to view MQ/HQ versions. Don't forget to credit the photographers if you post the pictures on your site. Peace!

From Days Of Long Ago...

Okay, before you go kill me with a phaser, I have a confession to make: my knowledge of Star Trek is about little to none at all. I wasn't even planning on watching it in the cinemas. Heck, I didn't even bother to watch all the online trailers. Perhaps, the reason behind it is my lack of interest for anything sci-fi. While I was curious about other life forms beyond our galaxy, I never fulfilled that wonder zealously. Which would probably lead you folks to ask me this question: why chose this rebooted version to be my baptism of fire?

Well, why not? I could cite many factors that piqued my interest. However, I'm zeroing in on no one else but J.J. Abrams.

I've been a fan of J.J. Abrams since Felicity. I make sure I give my due diligence by checking out his creations, small or big screen. The most recent of which is Fringe. While I admit to missing out on some of his works like Cloverfield, I felt the need to support him in his latest feature film endeavor like what I did for Mission: Impossible III, especially after reading the speculations and fears of hardcore fans on his vision. After seeing it twice on IMAX, first with the press and second with friends, I can say with great certainty that movie goers -- Star Trek fans or not -- will enjoy this delight of a film.

In true J.J. Abrams' fashion, the opening credits came several minutes after showing scenes that help build toward some crucial plot points in the movie (i.e. a Romulan spaceship appearing from a black hole, the birth of the future Captain James T. Kirk). Despite my limited knowledge of the Star Trek universe, I somehow knew by the scenes that this wasn't just a plain homage. It is indeed a reboot. And a gratifying one indeed. That particular brand of storytelling was apparent until the very end, all without disappointing the hardcore fans who happily cheered as much as I did. Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman, along with J.J., deserve several high fives for this. The script was fresh and fantastic, that even incorporating famous lines such as "I'm a doctor, not a physicist!" didn't feel contrived or self-serving.

Along with the story and direction, I am very pleased with the actors selected to bring the beloved characters to life. Despite the pressures imposed upon them, I felt that the actors translated that energy into riveting performances worthy of their own merits. Chris Pine as Kirk was engaging, cocky yet cool, and tough as nails without being burly. Zachary Quinto fits Spock to a tee, with his eerie but gripping portrayal and sharp delivery of those lengthy, jargon-ridden lines. I'm quite sure that he has definitely lived up to Mr. Nimoy's expectations. Zoe Saldana's Uhura was strong yet feminine, sexy and smart without being over the top. Karl Urban's somewhat harried McCoy is a treat to watch, as were John Cho's deadpan but wry Sulu and Anton Yelchin's enthusiastic Chekov. Bruce Greenwood's Captain Pike and Eric Bana's Nero were formidable, their screen presence commanding. Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime is enigmatic and unquestionable. However, the one actor that gets my two-thumbs up is Simon Pegg. I may be a bit biased here but casting him as Scotty is genius to the nth degree. That line -- "Can I get a towel?" -- never fails to crack me up. Aside from that, a major delight for me was recognizing some cast members as J.J. Abrams' regular crop of actors -- those who've appeared in at least one of his productions -- like Amanda Foreman, Rachel Nichols, Faran Tahir, Oz Perkins, to name a few. For a moment, I thought that I wouldn't feel Greg Grunberg's presence. While all I got is his voice, he could give John Forsythe a run for his money. And that made it all well in the Abramsverse.

While the story, the direction and the acting ensemble carry a good amount of weight to ensure a film's success, the undeniably talented and hardworking crew contributed a lot to making Star Trek into the multi-sensory experience that it is. Most notable for me is Michael Giacchino who set the tone of the movie with his powerful yet elegant score. Other production elements -- Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Set Decoration, Special and Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Mixing -- made final product into a well-polished diamond, which I feel made it tricky for nitpickers to spot any goofs or continuity errors. I couldn't spot or find anything odd after seeing it twice on an 80-foot screen. Even if I plan to see it for a third time soon, I doubt I'd find something wrong about this movie.

By now, it'll be quite obvious to say that I was won over. However, does this mean I'll be a Trekkie? Perhaps but not immediately. Not anytime soon, to be honest, given the intimidating volume of material surrounding the Star Trek universe which is about four decades worth. Nonetheless, considering a $72.5M opening weekend and a sequel already in the works, I will definitely return to the cinemas a few years from now to satisfy that newfound franchise fan in me. Every Trekkie starts somewhere. Baby Vulcan steps are all I can muster. For now. =)

The verdict: Warp 4.5

Star Trek is now showing in Philippine cinemas. Special thanks to New Worlds Alliance and to Solar-UIP for the Press Screening invitation!

The Great Book Blockade Of 2009

If ever you're wondering why books in local store shelves have become more expensive lately, read on, be enlightened and spread word.

by Robin Hemley

Occasionally, my daughter Shoshie announces that she's going to be the richest person in the world when she grows up—this is what living in a poor country like the Philippines will do to a kid. She recently made this remark as we passed a girl about 9 years old, dressed in an odd kind of caftan many sizes too big and holding a limp infant as she begged.

"You should just want to have enough money," I said. "Why have too much?"

"I'm going to give a lot of it to the poor," she said.

"Then you won't be the richest person in the world," I told her.

"But I'm going to have a lot of jobs."

"Then you won't be the richest person in the world." I explained that typically people are rich or poor in inverse proportion to how many jobs they have or how hard they work.

"You only need one job," I told her. "You're a dual citizen, so when you are old enough come back here and be a customs official. Then you'll make a lot of money and won't have to do a thing for it." I'm not sure she got it. It's hard to explain to a 6-year-old. Hell, I don't even understand it.

Few countries can compete with the Philippines when it comes to corruption—it's always near the top of the list of most-corrupt nations and the G20 nations recently blacklisted it, along with only three other countries, for its banking practices. In polls, Filipinos tag customs as the most corrupt department. And for good reason.

Over coffee one afternoon, a book-industry professional (whom I can't identify) told me that for the past two months virtually no imported books had entered the country, in part because of the success of one book, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. The book, an international best seller, had apparently attracted the attention of customs officials. When an examiner named Rene Agulan opened a shipment of books, he demanded that duty be paid on it.

"Ah, you can't be too successful in this country," I said. "If you are, then people start demanding a cut."

"Even before you are successful," she said. "But, yes, I'm a Filipino, but I have to admit this is true. Have you heard of 'crab mentality'?"

I'd been hearing of this so-called crab mentality since I first arrived in the country 10 years earlier. It's the notion that crabs will climb on top of one another to escape the pot in which they are to be cooked, but, instead of letting one crab escape, the remaining crabs pull the other one back.

But most crabs I've encountered in the Philippines are small-time little hermit crabs or dashing sand crabs. The crabs in government are the kind you'd find in an old Japanese horror film, with an entire city's population running in fear as the crabs snip away public works, entire highway projects, intangibles, such as hope and justice, and, now, books.

"Yes," I told her. "I've heard of crab mentality."

The importer of Twilight made a mistake and paid the duty requested. A mistake because such duty flies in the face of the Florence Agreement, a U.N. treaty that was signed by the Philippines in 1952, guaranteeing the free flow of "educational, scientific, and cultural materials" between countries and declaring that imported books should be duty-free. Mr. Agulan told the importer that because the books were not educational (i.e., textbooks) they were subject to duty. Perhaps they aren't educational, I might have argued, but aren't they "cultural"?

No matter. With this one success under their belt, customs curtailed all air shipments of books entering the country. Weeks went by as booksellers tried to get their books out of storage and started intense negotiations with various government officials.

What doubly frustrated booksellers and importers was that the explanations they received from various officials made no sense. It was clear that, for whatever reason—perhaps the 30-billion-peso ($625 million) shortfall in projected customs revenue—customs would go through the motions of having a reasonable argument while in fact having none at all.

Customs Undersecretary Espele Sales explained the government's position to a group of frustrated booksellers and importers in an Orwellian PowerPoint presentation, at which she reinterpreted the Florence Agreement as well as Philippine law RA 8047, providing for "the tax and duty-free importation of books or raw materials to be used in book publishing." For lack of a comma after the word "books," the undersecretary argued that only books "used in book publishing" (her underlining) were tax-exempt.

"What kind of book is that?" one publisher asked me afterward. "A book used in book publishing." And she laughed ruefully.

I thought about it. Maybe I should start writing a few. Harry the Cultural and Educational Potter and His Fondness for Baskerville Type.

Likewise, with the Florence Agreement, she argued that only educational books could be considered protected by the U.N. treaty. Customs would henceforth be the arbiter of what was and wasn't educational.

"For 50 years, everyone has misinterpreted the treaty and now you alone have interpreted it correctly?" she was asked.

"Yes," she told the stunned booksellers.

The writer David Torrey Peters, who once spent a year in Cameroon (which is even more corrupt than the Philippines), wrote of being pulled out of a taxi by a policeman who demanded that he produce his immunization card. David did this, but the cop told him that he was missing an AIDS vaccination. When David told the man that there was no such thing as an AIDS vaccine, the policeman was indignant.

"You think just because there isn't an AIDS vaccine I can't arrest you for not having one?"

This is the I-will-say-everything-with-a-straight-face-no-matter-how-absurd hallmark of corruption. It's what Orwell wrote about in his classic essay "Politics and the English Language" when he warns of the ways in which bureaucrats defend "the indefensible" by twisting words to suit their purposes. Though he singled out English, corruption happens in every language. However, he did make special mention of undersecretaries as being among the worst purveyors of actual meaning. Not that that has any relevance here (cough, cough), Undersecretary Sales.

Moving on.

During this time, the only bright spot for book lovers in Manila, or at least those who wanted to read foreign as well as local authors, came in March with the sailing into Manila Bay of the M.V. Doulos, the oldest operating passenger ship in the world, built only a couple of years after the Titanic. Destined to be scrapped within the next couple of years, the ship chugged into town, laden with books. The Doulos is run by a religious group and sails around the world as a kind of floating bookstore/library with an international crew of volunteers.

What?!! Volunteers?! Have they no shame?

The sheer shock of a boatload of selfless individuals sailing into Manila Bay must have given customs officials a brain freeze, dazing them long enough for the old ship to make it past the Great Book Blockade of 2009.

I visited the Doulos on one bright Sunday afternoon with Shoshie, Margie, Naomi, and two of Shoshie's friends. We walked up the gangplank into a scene of sheer chaos—a frenzy of book-hungry Manileños. A heartening sight, but not unexpected—the Philippines is one of the largest markets for books written in English in the world and new bookstores with such names as Power Books and Fully Booked have been cropping up all over metro Manila in recent years to compete with the ubiquitous and aptly named National Bookstore.

Throughout February and March, bookstores seemed on the verge of getting their books released—all their documents were in order, but the rules kept changing. Now they were told that all books would be taxed: 1 percent for educational books and 5 percent for noneducational books. A nightmare scenario for the distributors; they imagined each shipment being held for months as an examiner sorted through the books. Obviously, most would simply pay the higher tax to avoid the hassle.

Distributors told me they weren't "capitulating" but merely paying under protest. After all, customs was violating an international treaty that had been abided by for over 50 years. Meanwhile, booksellers had to pay enormous storage fees. Those couldn't be waived, they were told, because the storage facilities were privately owned (by customs officials, a bookstore owner suggested ruefully). One bookstore had to pay $4,000 on a $10,000 shipment.

The day after the first shipment of books was released, an internal memo circulated in customs congratulating themselves for finally levying a duty on books, though no mention was made of their pride in breaking an international treaty.

As the narrator of Aravind Adiga's 2008 Man Booker Prize–winning novel, The White Tiger, says, "Stories of rottenness and corruption are always the best stories, aren't they?"

Now, once again, Filipinos can read those words from a foreign author and customs can reap the benefits. And Shoshie? We were just reading a Filipino folktale the other night about a certain King Crab and his war with the mosquitoes. She only laughed when I suggested she might like to grow up to be Queen Crab.
Clockwise from Top Left: Alex Patsavas, Liz Phair, J.K. Rowling, Annie Leibovitz, Libba Bray & Stephenie Meyer

On several occasions, especially on dull afternoons, I daydream about having a different career. However, the careers I dream about are often those that would make you wish that money wasn't an issue. Being the eldest of two kids from a middle-class family, expectations of being the next breadwinner is often resting on your shoulders. I think I'm able to fulfill those expectations already. While I enjoy my profession, it never erases those little "what-if" thoughts. And sometimes coming across bios of the women I featured above make me believe that those little dreams, while a bit far-fetched, can be possible.

To start off my dream career list, I remember wanting to be a photo-journalist for National Geographic. While I loved browsing through fashion magazines, I'd prefer to take pictures of anything else but people. Until I encountered Vanity Fair and Annie Leibovitz. I started having by-line and contributor dreams. I don't know how Annie does it but her photo spreads are always unbelievable. She captures her subjects well and has a great eye for detail and light. The moment Annie becomes your photographer makes you feel like you've made it, especially for those who are pretty much under the limelight. I've been meaning to purchase my first digital SLR camera because of her. That and perhaps, the encouragement of friends who've seen my shots to take photography as a habit.

The journalist bit of my first dream career inspired me to consider another one: fiction writer. Writing is another love of mine. I think I write better than I speak. I was such a wallflower when I was younger that most of my thoughts often go to my diaries, which I burned after I discovered Microsoft Word and transcribed them. Most of my writing were short stories and poems until I started working on my own full-length fiction. I haven't added much to what I've written so far but I'm hoping that I'll be able to finish it sooner or later. As I started writing, I got reminded of some best-selling authors who are my personal idols: J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer and Libba Bray. The series of fiction they've written (Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga, The Gemma Doyle Trilogy) will be always on my frequently re-read shelf. To be able to achieve a small bit of the success they have, it'll be really cool. There's a certain creative freedom you can afford by writing fiction. It's your story: you set the rules. And perhaps, that's what inspires me to go through with what I'm writing: the opportunity to lay my own groundwork.

However, the main fuel behind what keeps me going with my fiction writing, more importantly in my daily grind, is music. While I sing nicely, I'm not as musical as I would hope to be (or at least, didn't get enough training and resources for it). I don't have the creativity to make an arrangement or think of lyrics to match it. But I didn't realize that you can build a career in music without have to plot a note or a lyric. All you need is a pair of good ears like those of Alex Patsavas and Liz Phair, musical supervisors to two of my favorite TV guilty pleasures: Gossip Girl and 90210. While Liz forayed into the business as an artist before transitioning into the world of music supervision with 90210, Alex has been the go-to girl of a lot of popular US TV shows and movies: she's probably on Josh Schwartz's speed dial and has recently put her stamp on Twilight. As I reviewed Alex's IMDB page, I realized that we almost havethe same taste in music. I'm a soundtrack junkie for as long as I can remember. I made a lot of mix CDs for my friends whenever I felt like it. If I had an iPod, I'd probably make tons of track lists to cover my every mood. Heck, I don't know how to drive but I have a driving mix list in my head. Watching Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist made me yearn to have my own recording studio. Perhaps, that's one other thing my brother would also like to have as well.

While I do realize that these dreams are a bit far off my radar, it's nice to know that there are certain other things that I liked to do and can be possible if I can put my head and heart into it. All I need are some tools of trade to get me going full throttle: a digital SLR with a great set of lenses, a uber chic laptop and a recording studio. Oh, and throw in a baby grand in the mix. Might as well dream big. Never hurts to do so. =)

Me? A Dedicated Reader?

Yeah. I may to agree with that. =)

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I Never Imagined

Last Monday, I ate with a friend of mine at Teriyaki Boy. As I was munching on my order of Katsudon, Salmon Sashimi and a can of Coke Light, I got reminded of the fact that perhaps more than three years ago, I never ate a single Japanese dish. It was one of the things that me and my mother argued about: my so-called lack of variety in the things I eat. I am picky with my food. She thinks that the reason for it was that I was Gerber-fed when I was little (unlike my brother who was a Cerelac boy). It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that hounded me for years. What made the situation worse was it being coupled with a childhood sickness which eliminated aggravating food items on my options list. I was in that state for a good 10 years of my life until I turned sixteen and have had enough. I waged a battle against my own body's reaction to certain foods. While I'm still far away from achieving gastronomic nirvana, I think I've progressed well with the variety in food I eat. And that childhood sickness? Gone with God's grace, and hopefully it'll be so for a long, long time. Or else, I wouldn't be able to enjoy a good serving of Salmon Sashimi dipped in wasabi-infused soy sauce. Imagine that.


In a couple of the training sessions I have attended, several of my client team members -- mostly men or boys -- were with me. While most of them have been in the company longer than I am, I'm quite impressed of the fact that they'd still participate in those sessions to refresh their knowledge. In the course of those activities, I got to know them a bit more and share little puns already. Because of those instances, I felt I was channeling my inner P.J. Franklin: being one of the boys. Over the course of my existence, I noticed that I have a good set of guy friends and sometimes, the best of them were always in threes. I had three best guy friends in high school, college and even my first job. Now, maybe I have twenty? It's too early to tell but at least, they're more confident to include me in a joke or two. Imagine that.


Since I reviewed Watchmen, I haven't seen another movie in the Gateway Cineplex. For close to two months already. And here I was thinking that when I transferred last August, I'd probably be checking out a new movie at least once a week. I've got no excuse, right? I'm near a mall with good cinemas. I guess I was wrong. The irony of your workplace being located beside a mall: so close yet so far. Imagine that.


During this week, I got two e-mails that landed me free tickets to two of 2009's US Summer Blockbusters hitting Philippine cinemas -- X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Star Trek. Yay me! I'll be watching them on two consecutive nights. Some anniversary I'll be having: eye-candy with around 10 hot Hollywood actors. Imagine that.

How Do You Want Your Eggs?

There are so many ways you can prepare and serve an egg. I always preferred mine to be scrambled with a little golden brown on the edges. When I make my scrambled eggs, I put a little bit of evaporated milk, salt, white pepper and McCormick's Italian seasoning to taste. It was only about a few years ago when sunny side-up or poached eggs became alternatives to my regular breakfast staple. However, I'm not here to talk about eggs altogether. I'm using eggs as a slight metaphor for intent or context behind the words we say.

For nearly half of my undergraduate degree and a good portion of my professional life, playing with words was my pre-occupation. When I was browsing for a home dictionary, I was astounded by the size and sheer volume of some units on the shelves. Each year, the dictionaries get thicker and you suddenly start to wonder what new words have been added... which among them you can use in your daily lingo...

Because of that acquired skill, like a cook and his dozens of eggs, I am able to present my intention or meaning in so many different ways. I remember when my good friends ask me for their opinion about their new haircut, purchase or predicament, my standard reply (or retort) is: how would you want me to tell you?

Those who have been my friends the longest always ask for the knife-in-the-heart version: straight-up and bites like a bitch on steroids. Some friends ask for the melts-in-your-mouth version: saccharine sweet yet hits you slowly without knowing like tequila. Others and more often, the opaque-as-mist version: not too hard, not too soft.

I have recently exercised a version that marries all three: something I have never tried before. My feelings are quite mixed by it. However, I got my intended effect. I do hope whoever he/she is would make amends to the people I care about because I don't plan to hide my whip anytime soon.

I Hauled Away... Again!

Goodness, I missed blogging. I think I've been pretty much out of it for a few days, especially since I was pre-occupied with stuff like Ben Barnes Movies and Big Bang Theories among others. But despite all that and work, one thing is never missed on my daily activities: shopping. Okay, sue me for being a girl. I like shopping but not for the typical girl stuff. If you remember my last haul post, you hardly find any girly things in it. It still applies if you consider what I've hauled since 2009 started. And to be honest, they're quite a mass. Let's start with...


For the last 3 months, there were hardly any Twilight-related books in my hauls since I've pretty much completed all the book merchandise in the saga. And here they are:
  • The Gemma Doyle Trilogy (A Great And Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels & The Sweet Far Thing) - one of, if not, the best YA book series I've read so far...
  • No Fear Shakespeare - I just love the guy!
  • East Of Eden by John Steinbeck - thanks for this, Paw! you're such a doll.
  • Ophelia by Lisa Klein
  • Money by Martin Amis
  • The City Of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers
  • Beauty's Punishment & Beauty's Release by A. N. Roquelaure
  • The Princess Diaries: Diaries Collection by Meg Cabot
  • Prom Nights From Hell by Cabot, Harrison, Jaffe, Meyer and Myracle
  • Twilight Director's Notebook by Catherine Hardwicke
  • Ransom My Heart by Mia Thermopolis and Meg Cabot
  • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  • The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman


Or comics if you prefer the simple term for it... Haha. This is nothing really new for me since I'm in the middle of collecting the 10-volume Sandman series (if money were not an issue, I would love to collect the huge 4-volume set). But this is the first time I've discussed this set of hauls in my blog along with some magazine purchases since they're quite a few. However my comic purchases are surprisingly inspired by some TV shows. Here's what I have so far:
  • Watchmen
  • Fringe, Issue No. 1 & 3
  • Chuck, Issue No. 2-6
  • Entertainment Weekly with R/K on the cover & some Twilight Director's Notebook previews
  • Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood issue
  • Vogue US March 2009 with a feature on Stephenie Meyer
  • GQ April 2009 with Rob on the cover

CDs & DVDs

Over the last 3 months, this would probably be the set where there's a lot more Twilight-related merchandise.
  • Twilight DVD (both released locally and from Target, the latter one I love)
  • Twilight Deluxe Edition Soundtrack
  • David Foster & Friends CD/DVD set which features Charisse Pempengco as one of singers in the show
  • Charlie's Angels and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle DVDs - on sale!
  • Stardust DVD - sale too!!
  • Cloverfield DVD - sale three!!! XD


Last on my haul bit are two (2) Twilight-related merchandise that I'm really proud to have: The Cullen Crest Jewelry Set from Amazon and the ALA Twilight Celebrity READ poster. I had the latter framed (it looks stunning) and I gave the signed Peter Facinelli card which I put in a glass frame to a friend of mine. Yesterday, she showed me a picture of where she hung it on her wall. It looked like it's found its real owner, that it was at home. And it made me happy seeing it.

It's already April. While I'm sporting a big grin doing this post, I think that I need to put my wallet to rest for a while. It helps that I still have books and magazines to read, DVDs to view, CDs to listen to, and a framed poster to hang. I hope you enjoyed my latest haul post because I look forward to NOT doing this again within the next few months. Haha. XD

Ultrasonic Imploding Excitation

Watching Monsters vs. Aliens (reviewed in my previous post) allowed me to take a little trip down music memory lane. The moment I got home, I ransacked through my old CD cabinet to search for an album that I haven't played in a long time. It took me a while to locate it, but when I did, I was rockin' to it like there's no tomorrow.

The album in question is Time Capsule: Songs For A Future Generation by The B-52's (pictured above). It's a compilation of their hits from the late 70's to the 80's, as well as a few new tracks. My blog title is a lyric from one of my favorite songs in the compilation entitled Debbie.

I was exposed to B-52's music around late 80's/early 90's with tracks like Love Shack, Roam, Rock Lobster, Private Idaho and especially Planet Claire -- the source for this wave back trip. Given that I was still in school and couldn't afford to buy even a cassette album, I was merely content on catching them on the radio. Their sound is an eclectic mix of new wave, punk and alternative rock. Their song lyrics are so crazy and cool especially the close-encounters-of-the-third-kind-themed ones. This is largely due to the founder's belief (Ricky Wilson, R.I.P.) that he was abducted by aliens at one point of his life. While I cannot confirm nor deny the story's truth, it makes for an entertaining explanation for the absurd yet funky blend of words. Case in point...

Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No ever dies there
No one has a head

Despite that, you tend to ignore it, enjoy the beat and have a laugh -- which I earnestly did. I'm now on my 3rd play and I don't think I'll probably hit stop anytime soon. =P
or Blue if, like me, you positively fell in love with B.O.B.

B.O.B. and the rest of his merry band became my dates last March 26 (Thursday) as I was one of those lucky ducks who were invited to a press screening of Monsters vs. Aliens at the San Miguel Coca-Cola IMAX Theater in SM Mall of Asia. As I was handed my 3-D glasses, I knew that the picture and sound quality would be outstanding. After 94 minutes, I wasn't only impressed and satisfied with the picture and sound quality but the whole movie as well. I left the IMAX Theater sporting a big grin and carrying a barrel of laughs.

Monsters vs. Aliens is a typical spoof movie despite having a somewhat ominous title. If you're a fan of sci-fi/thriller movies released from the 50's to the 70's, then this is a good movie to reminisce about them -- in a lighthearted manner, that is. The references are quite obvious in the movie's cast and characters. An example would be Susan Murphy/Ginormica, the movie's main protagonist, is really a parody for "Attack Of The 50 Ft. Woman." The same goes with the plot. The themes were relatively familiar and presented in a very simple manner. Despite this, it never ceased to be entertaining and it felt fresh. Kudos goes to the 7-man writing team behind this animation gem for producing a script that is pure genius. I especially liked how they inserted some geek humor with expressions like "By Hawking's chair!" -- something that me and my friend found thoroughly funny that we couldn't stifle our laughter the moment we heard it.

Big love goes to the casting director for selecting a great ensemble of actors as the voices behind these characters. It felt like an cohesive, fluid performance; not one voice really stood out. It's almost as if the actors blended well with their animated counterparts, although some voices became recognizable at certain points in the movie, specifically that of Reese Witherspoon, Rainn Wilson and Seth Rogen. Big surprise for me was seeing the names of Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie and Renee Zellweger in the opening and end credits.

Last, but not the least, cheers to DreamWorks for producing this computer animated movie in real 3-D! It must've been an enormous task but the end product is definitely worth it. I'm earnestly looking forward to your succeeding animation releases.

Monsters vs. Aliens is definitely a treat for the family and best experienced in full 3-D glory. Truly worth every bit of Quantonium that Gallaxhar's tentacles can get on.

The verdict: 4.5 out of 5 Green Jell-Os!

Monsters vs. Aliens is now showing in Philippine cinemas. Special thanks to New Worlds Alliance and to Solar-UIP for the Press Screening invitation! =)

Oh Gravity, Thou Art A Heartless Bitch

(From L-R: Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter, Kaley Cuoco as Penny, Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz and Kunal Nayyar as Rajesh Koothrappali)

There are no words to describe how genius this show is. Literally. Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, the team behind Dharma & Greg, are at again.

For potential neophytes, The Big Bang Theory is a show detailing the lives of four highly smart but socially-awkward men (Leonard, Sheldon, Howard & Raj), their beautiful but not-so-smart next-door neighbor (Penny) and the complications of their dynamics. Over the last few weeks, I've seen the main characters go through ridiculous eBay purchases, online gaming addictions, alcoholic experiments, cosplay debates, food ordering quirks, satellite-aided house-tracking escapades, laundry wars, and yes, even romantic woes among many other things. While the jargon-ridden language used can get you stumped at times with its break-neck speed delivery, most notably by Jim Parsons who plays my favorite geek of the four, it was very easy to get by it to enjoy the comedy. I was warned initially that it was a show for geeks. How come I got it? Am I really that geeky? Well, if that's the case, bring it on. LOL. The show's tagline after all is "Smart Is The New Sexy."

The show has been on air since 2007. While I discovered it late, with great thanks to two friends (you know who you are), it is worth it. Currently, the show is on its second season and has a total of thirty-four episodes in. Every single installment is a blast. Definitely worth recommending to geeks, and perhaps non-geeks too, who will benefit from getting a 20-minute dose of nature's best medical relief -- laughter!

Little China Girl

In my daily grind, I have one major dilemma: language barrier. I cannot understand a single Pinyin and I can only speak two words in Mandarin: Ni Hao and Xie Xie. Aside from that, nada.

I like learning new languages but I often struggle with the daily usage. I've had six units of Spanish in college (where otra ves often resonates in my head) and recently beginner's French. While the advantages are obvious (I can already read some words and understand their meaning), I think I'll be better if I talk to someone. Or perhaps, do more intense studies if and when I have the time.

What brought this frustration about? Unplanned/Urgent requests do that to me. My work requires me to support three countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The challenge, although apparent, was never really a big deal -- I'm used to time zone differences -- except when I'm asked to search for local options. As China is one of my client countries, I often deal with Pinyin-written webpages and Mandarin-speaking operators. While I do appreciate that quality, it makes my work harder. Then, all of a sudden, you're reminded about your professional development activities. Now, should I think about learning Mandarin than doing another course that I want so badly to take and would benefit me and my team in the long-term? Facing an urgency vs. importance dilemma is not an easy thing. How does one justify and prioritize one need over another especially when the resources are scarce?

Maybe it's good that these thoughts fell on a weekend. I have at least 48 hours before I face the music again. Time to think things through.

You're Locked In Here With Me!

I arrived at Cinema 5 of Gateway Cineplex last March 5, 2009 knowing very little about Watchmen except for the hype about the comic series being one of Time Magazine's 100 best English-language novels of the century. I was prepared to be amazed, to have my socks blown off. After 2.5 hours, I find myself leaving the cinema shaking my head and half-entertained.

On an adaptation standpoint, the movie is faithful. In fact, too faithful to a fault. One can never go wrong making an adaptation from a comic series since the story is pretty much laid out. However, if you haven't read it, you might find the flow a bit disjointed. It ultimately resolved itself in the end but it could leave you feeling a bit stretched. For some reason, it had the same storytelling vibe as Lost for me.

The cinematography and visual effects lived up to my expectations but it offered nothing new to the senses. I found myself suppressing a giggle when a few 80's music, such as Nena's 99 Luftballons and Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World, were used as part of the sound mix even though they were appropriate for the movie's theme. The movie didn't fall short of its action, gore, violence and sexual parts -- where the latter often involved Malin Akerman -- although there was one violent scene in Rorschach's back story that was obviously censored or tempered to a certain extent. Among the actors, Matthew Goode (Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias) and Jackie Earle Haley (Walter Kovacs / Rorschach) stood out for me. Perhaps my favorite moment in the entire film was when Rorschach's uttered these words with such compelling fierceness and anger: "I'm not locked in here with you! You're locked in here with ME!"

That line, while I enjoyed it in context, somewhat seemed to me as a metaphor for Alan Moore versus every conceivable movie or TV show that would now appear to have borrowed some themes from it. This leaves me wondering why they waited this long to adapt this critically-acclaimed series when the technology and the creativity needed for it has been present in movies shown over the last five years.

As I ponder on that question, the movie did one good thing -- I bought the comics and I'm currently in the middle of reading it. While I earlier thought of giving the movie another go, reading Chapter 1 made me decide otherwise yet understood the adoration for it even after a few pages. I'm quite certain that fans of this series will be satisfied that Zac Synder and company delivered a pretty faithful adaptation. However, for me, it was one that was released a little too late.

My Rating: 3.5 out 5 smileys

Watchmen is now showing in Philippine cinemas. Thanks to New Worlds Alliance and to Solar-UIP for the Press Screening invitation! =)
At last, finally. The end (almost) to nearly a month-long journey of deciphering which HTML codes to customize. My new blog theme is up. How do I look? XD

I find that I'm happy with the finished product despite having to download a packaged theme as my jump off point (credits can be found at the end of the page). Customizing it -- changing the banner, removing the navigation tabs, adding more gadgets, expanding the main page -- was the hard part. Among all the things I customized, the banner is what I'm most proud of since it features some of my favorite photos that I've taken using my trusty 5-year old digital camera, Sue. I didn't create it in Photoshop; ol' PowerPoint was there to lend me a hand. Good thing that my layout skills are still intact. Several years on working on presentations became helpful when I took this task. The current layout will serve me for quite a long time -- unless I decide to change it again. However, I need to take my HTML studying down a notch. It's time I laid it to rest for a while. It's not my bread and butter anyway but hopefully, the rest won't be too long. I just need to work on the other facets of my life.

Anyway, here's hoping you'll get used to the new face of my blog. While I admit that it still requires a bit of tinkering, it is intact nonetheless. I'm happy that I've accomplished something. A little goes a long, long way.

Where I Fan Girl About This Guy

While it's somewhat of a given that Rob Pattinson has a place in every Twilighter's hearts, there's only one actor that I fan girl about from the cast. And that would be Jackson Rathbone.

The beautiful photo above was recently taken from a convention where he, Ashley, Rachelle, Kellan, Peter among several other cast members of Twilight appeared (minus the trio, of course). I've viewed tons of fan captured videos during the convention and they pretty much validated what I adore most about this guy: humble, funny and sweet. His work ethic is unquestionable as he's trying to squeeze in as much as he can: recording new tracks for his band 100monkeys, appearing in an episode of Criminal Minds, possibly promoting s.Darko in the future, and shooting The Last Airbender and New Moon. In all the interviews I watched (and downloaded) of him, he's always grateful and pleasant. He does have little quirks but they're hardly noticeable. I remember the question that was asked of TCP's resident Twilight Gay about who among the characters will be his date of choice. Flipping the question a little to change into choosing among the actors, Jackson Rathbone will be my pick. No doubt about it.

Now that's from Twilight. Well, if you're going to talk about 90210 and Fringe, I think me and a friend of mine have settled our eyes on the same guys. And they're both quite a catch. ;-)
Remember when I made my first book review here in my blog and named it Quill Quips? I hope you do because I'm now two book reviews behind for that segment and I'm itching to work on them. Really and truly.

However, I didn't realize that there's a lost Quill Quip and I did it over Amazon?! I couldn't believe it myself to the point of having to remember if I really wrote the review in the first place. But there it was, the review page staring after me after I tried googling my name. Not because I wanted to test how famous I was (which to my adorable nephew, it's not a question but rather a fact), but more to see if my boys (officemates) can find me in cyberspace. They teased me about it over a merienda to celebrate the birthdays of three of my client team's members. I've made my social networking accounts as incognito as possible therefore I'm confident they couldn't find me. Work is work. I'm not too open for them to cross into certain territories of my life yet.

Anyway, look around this post to see the link to my review. Sort of an easter egg. It's for the book, The Feng Shui Junkie by Brian Gallagher. Enjoy!

How Do I Love Thee, Oscars 2009...

Let me count the ways! Hahaha. One note before you proceed to reading my post: easter egg/s alert! XD

It has been three days since I watched the Oscars and I still couldn't get off my happy train. This year's Oscars is the best, in my opinion, in more ways than one. Perhaps, even the coolest. The secrecy surrounding the ceremonies was worth it, although one segment leaked out to the delight of Twilighters here and abroad. But that is not the only reason why I love this year's Oscars.

Watching the Oscars (among many other award shows like the Golden Globes, SAG, Emmys, etc.) has been a tradition of mine as long as we had cable at home. Before, I was really into beauty pageants like Miss Universe. However, as I started working and can already afford to watch movies out of my own pocket, watching award shows became a must for me. The beauty pageants went to the sidelines of my watch list. Far too away from the sidelines to be honest about it.

Award shows in general, especially those that are voted for by an academy or guild, are really boring. Year in and year out, they always follow the same pattern: short production numbers and montages interspersed with awarding segments, which became predictable. What makes the Oscars a bit special than the other award shows is being the culmination of all guild award ceremonies. Consider it like Wimbledon for the showbiz community: if you are on that show, nominee or presenter, it solidifies your place in the industry, wherever that is. If you win, you will always have that "Oscar Winner" tag in every movie you make. Heck, even the tag "Oscar Nominee" is used too. Another thing would be the selected host, as you're expected to provide the entertainment and ease of transition for each segments. But this year, the production team behind the Oscars wanted to bring some new life into the show. And boy, they've done it.

Let's start with the most obvious of all changes: the presence of young, pop Hollywood. Finally, the big cheese is starting to recognize the presence of a stronger force outside of their high-calibre bubble that could give the show the life it needs. Why would they invite Robert Pattinson (I have to mention this guy first. It's a sacrilege if I don't. =P), Tina Fey, Miley Cyrus (who didn't do anything in the awards ceremony but was on the red carpet pre-shows), Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried if not to make that statement? I'm glad that the Academy is now recognizing the power of young Hollywood, as it's where the fans are. If the Academy want to get some more love/interest for their highly-acclaimed movies, then they were able to do so. Mentioning the movie titles in every category can elicit memory recall. I wouldn't be surprised if there are teens and tweens who will positively respond when they hear the words "Slumdog Millionaire."

The second obvious change, and one of my favorite parts of the show, is the montages. They didn't just stick with the regular In Memoriam and Best Picture film montages. For this year's Oscars, they added new montages to the previous two I mentioned, around six if I'm not mistaken, that gave a good snapshot on the year that was in all movie genres: romance, comedy, documentary, animation, musical and action. The great thing about this montages is that they were conceptualized by Hollywood's brightest and creative minds. Case in point, the musical montage was created by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Australia) while the comedy was done by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad). The show's collaborative effort was apparent and it resonated in every segment.

The last change that I love was that they invited twenty previous Oscar winners to help acknowledge the nominees in the four acting categories. For the first time, being just a nominee didn't feel bad at all especially with the accolades and terms of endearment that you get from previous winners. I can empathize with Anne Hathaway's near-to-tears reaction: to be acknowledged beautifully by Shirley MacLaine (who I dearly admire), oh what joy can that be!

Now, hope you'll indulge me as I dish my fan girl faves during the show...

Allow me to begin with the one and only Robert Pattinson. I cannot stress how much I admire him for being there unlike some actress, although I love very much, who kind of acted like she's high and mighty when technically, by Hollywood standards, she's still a starlet. Doesn't matter if it was a rumor or not, she still wasn't there despite the invitation. Rob was gracious, self-effacing and humbled by the opportunity. Plus he looked absolutely gorgeous in his Dolce & Gabbana tux. And how strategic was his seating arrangement? He was in full view behind Mickey Rourke! Rob presented the romance montage with Amanda Seyfried; both looked really cute together. The montage featured the best romantic cuts from 2008 movies: I saw bits of Definitely, Maybe and Twilight among others. The man is such an eye-candy that I'm distracted by the pic I chose to add to this portion. And if reports or rumours circling were true, Rob enjoyed himself as well and was quite awestruck. He had a fan boy moment with Ron Howard. How's that for pre-departure endorphins before you go to Japan and Canada? Sweet!

Next up are the nominee addresses and the speeches. My personal faves for the nominee addresses are those by Robert De Niro, Shirley MacLaine, Whoopi Goldberg, and Cuba Gooding Jr. while for the speeches are those of Kate Winslet (more of that in a while), Sean Penn, Resul Pookutty, Dustin Lance Black, Penelope Cruz, Danny Boyle and Heath Ledger's family.

Speaking of Kate Winslet, her win is perhaps the only moment when I watched live that I jumped off of my seat and cried like hell. I want that woman to win, no offense to Meryl Streep whom I've love as well. But this has got to be Kate's time. I was already expecting Slumdog Millionaire to win big at the Oscars. However, it was the Best Actress category that scared me to death. When Meryl Streep won in the Screen Actors Guild awards for Doubt, the race for that category was now between her and Kate. I'm so happy Kate won. It's a nice cap to being acknowledged as the youngest actress ever to receive 6 career nominations, and now a win. Finally! That reminds me, I've got to read the book that I have on my shelf. Here's hoping The Reader would hit the cinemas; I can't wait to watch Revolutionary Road as well.

Finally, although mentioned already, are the montages. Again, I don't know why but I shed tears (as always) during the In Memoriam segment. Queen Latifah was singing beautifully while the faces of those departed showed up on the screens. I was surprised to find out that Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack were already dead. Capping it off with Paul Newman was heart-warming. However the montage that takes top spot for me would be the action. While I adored seeing some Twilight cuts, the music they used as a back drop to action montage was totally unexpected yet ultra-cool and unbelievable. That music is not the kind you'd expect to hear during the Oscars. What am I referring to? That would be Tick Tick Boom by The Hives! It is like one of my all-time favorite songs. Seriously. It's part of their Black And White Album which, for me, is a must-have for garage rock/punk revival enthusiasts.

Honorable mention, before I end this lengthy post, is the end credits montage of the show for a couple of reasons. First, it gave you a brief look into your must-see movies for 2009. Seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince there (with very revealing scenes) made me wish for July to come sooner! Last and not the least, which kept my audiophile's heart fluttering, is that they featured another surprising track as the back drop music. Here's the cool part: the song hasn't been released in local stores upon the airing of the show! Wow. Further research allowed me to discover that it is a cover of one of Bob Dylan's songs released in 1967 entitled Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat. Who covered it? None other than Beck! Geez, I miss that guy! Loser is one of my favorite songs. This cover, among many others, is part of the War Child presents Heroes compilation album which is targeted to benefit the kids who are victims of war. The concept for the compilation album is even better. The producers asked several music/rock icons to select one song from their entire discography and choose the band who will cover it. The original song had a bluesy feel to it so for Bob Dylan to select Beck among all music acts is a risky but wise choice, given that their musical styles are almost on the opposite sides of the spectre. But I believe that Beck did justice to the song. I love listening to it, so much that I may have played it over fifty times already. I had moments where I almost did an air guitar with a bit of dance while I was listening to it. It's such a cool, cool song.

Whew! This is what happens when you haven't blogged in days. Overcompensation. LOL. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the post and the easter egg/s I shared. Cheers!

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