With no money, no insurance, not even maps, where to go D&G?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Moved

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A Neon Jar

Confessions Of A Selfaholic

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Monday, May 08, 2006

On Kobe, Numbers, And Luck

Still hurting and in denial from LA Lakers' recent humbling (read: big time) loss to Phoenix Suns (61 percent field-goal shooting!) in the Western Conference Playoffs, I'm coursing my Quan (a loosely defined attribute uniting athletic skill or knowledge with love and respect -- or something only Cuba Gooding Jr. completely understands) into something relevant: Kobe Bryant and his jersey.

Over the weekend, Kobe announced his plan to switch jersey numbers, from No. 8 to No. 24. Apparently, he sported a No. 24 jersey shooting hoops in high school back in Philadelphia. His spectacular performance there led him to an equally spectacular career in basketball, thus the desire for a switch in numbers. He wanted the switch for this season but didn't get to apply in time.

"It’s time to start a new chapter," Bryant said over ESPN, "(for the) second leg of my career."

So he got sentimental and wants to commemorate his roots, big deal! But if this is his segue to nailing another championship next season, then I'm all for it.

In fact, I've taken the liberty to consult this switch with my numerologist over an email, just for kicks. She says No. 24 is better than No. 8 especially in physical activities such as playing sports. No. 24 translates to No. 6, which is highly considered as lucky; Pursuit to good outcomes require no-sweat, luck comes without working for it. In contrast, No. 8 means exerting a good deal of effort to get good results.

Now if my numerologist's summations are correct, then, we'd see Bryant in jersey No. 24 next season, winning games effortlessly.

"I’m really excited about it," Bryant said. "I’m pumped up about it."

Thanks, those are reassuring enough. Game 7? What Game 7? --D

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Not Getting Any

Browsing through The Independent today, I came across Rob Brezesny's Free Will Astrology. Actually, it was G who, after giving up on the paper's tough crossword, took notice of the horoscope and pointed out this week's forecast according to the stars. Under the sign Libra, which I belong to, reads:

"Espertantina, a town in Brazil, celebrates May 9 as Orgasm Day. As much as I'd love to import this enlightened holiday to my home country of America, it might be difficult in the foreseeable future. Why? Because religious fundamentalists have been spreading their infectious mental disease, seducing people into mistrusting their bodies' natural urges. Meanwhile, the advertising and entertainment industries try to sell us the glamour of being in a chronic state of titillation without satisfaction. I'm calling on you Libras to do what you can to reisist these cultural trends. The astrological omens say this is an auspicious time for you to seek out, cultivate, and honor your own orgasms."

In short, I'm supposed to mark May 9 as a dreadful day when I won't be getting any; I won't get laid; No carnal pursuits, or else!

Hmmm, that 'else' must be something damning for all those born between 23 September and 22 October to abstain from sex. What to make of this? I dunno. What I'm sure of is I'm not marking my calendar just yet... --D

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Day Of Absence

If there was such a thing called 'A Day of Absence' to commemorate by when I was in high school, it would have saved a lot of students the trouble of coming up with lame excuses and trips to detention for skipping classes. But yesterday's 'Day of Absence' was not some silly stunt born out of adolescent boredom or academic burnout. It was actually called 'A Day Without Immigrants,' when immigrants boycott work and school for a day in protest of bills passed in both the US House and Senate early this year that make felons of illegal immigrants and make immigration enforcement and citizenship process stricter for them. From Long Island to Long Beach, Lower East Side to Los Angeles, huge street protests were organized to show the economic importance and influence the immigrants (legal or illegal) have in the daily grind of the American economy.

The country, founded and labored by immigrants over centuries, is engulfed with unemployment, crime, and (the current favorite of an excuse) terrorism -- social problems that are conveniently blamed on the influx of immigrants out to chase the proverbial American dream or cross to greener pastures.

I will not chew out a mouthful on the issue because it's all over most, if not all, media organizations anyway. Besides, my opinions may be deemed biased because I am an immigrant-in-waiting (so to speak). What I would like to do is raise a crucial point that may be a twig in a branch of the issue; well, it's actually more of a question: Where are the Asian immigrants? After all, they are stakeholders of this issue, too.

Perhaps because of the recurrent border protection concerns with Mexico and Cuba, the issue is fixed on the Latino community in the US. True, of the 11.1 million who are in the country illegally, 78 percent are Latino but whatever happened to the 13 percent who are of Asian origin? Based in Immigration records in 2000, the largest group of undocumented Asians were Chinese (23 percent), followed by Filipinos (17 percent), Indians (14 percent) and Koreans (11 percent). So where were they in all of these protests across the US? Surely, as one of the most persecuted and discriminated immigrant races in US history (eg Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Asiatic Barred Zone Act of 1917), Asian-Americans (numbering almost to 15 million now) could at least sympathize with and rally behind the cause of their Latino counterparts.

The debate, of course, is still hot whether the 'Day Without Immigrants' national protest served as a catalyst favorable to the immigration cause or only resulted to fear of (and therefore all the more reason to pass measures to curtail) the expanding clout of immigrants in the American public; but this issue definitely warrants a more pro-active role among the Asian-American community. This is a perfect time to disprove the popular belief and misconception that Asians are a passive lot. This is a perfect time to prove that Asians sincerely embrace the political and civil liberties Americans claim to be champions of. This is the time to be present, to speak and be heard, and to be counted. In a chance to contribute for change, absence in this political exercise won't make others grow fonder of them. --D

Monday, May 01, 2006

In Kobe We Trust

Wearing my 4-year old lucky Lakers shorts, I sit on the edge of the TV couch, panic stricken, ready to throw a Buster Bluth fit as the game clock winds down to 0.7 of a second in the 4th. The Los Angeles Lakers trails Phoenix Suns by 2, and Steve Nash is in possession of the ball. Damnit! Why does he have to be so darn good? As I knuckle under yet another display of Nash's brilliance, a miracle pops up in the form of a quick steal from Smush Parker. Parker quickly passes the ball to Kobe Bryant. Bryant runs a fastbreak, heads to the paint, and wildly throws the ball in the air as he entangles himself in a Tim Thomas and Shawn Marion tight defense. And then... swoosh! The ball sinks in. The buzzer blares. And the game extends to a 5 minute overtime.

Bryant hugs Parker by the head and says something like: 'You did good, you motherfucker!' (go ahead, turn on the TiVo, re-watch the game, and read Bryant's lips). And just as the Suns threaten to upset the game in overtime, Nash makes another turnover and forces a jump with Luke Walton. At 6'8", Walton, of course, reaches the ball first and taps it to Bryant. With a fraction of a second remaining, Bryant beats the buzzer with a 17-footer, sinking the ball and nailing an improbable 99-98 victory boosting the team's chances (3-1) in the first round Western Conference playoff series.

What a thrill ride of a game! Bryant repeats his game-winning bucket against Phoenix in game 3 back in 2000 (2.6 seconds remaining, 97-96 upset). Deja vu? Wait until Bryant half-raises a fist in the air, juxtapose a Michael Jordan winning moment montage, presto! A likeness to greatness, indeed.

Of course, Jordan is Jordan and Bryant still shakes off his indiscretions-past (read: rape charges, admission to adultery, and, by Phil Jackson's appraisal, 'uncoachable' persona). But it's hard to equally shake off the brilliance that is Kobe, especially with his recent 81 point scoring -- second all-time high in NBA history -- against Toronto last January.

He was 25 when he earned his 10,000th point, making him the youngest to achieve such feat in NBA history. And with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, he enabled the Lakers franchise three consecutive NBA championships (2000-2002).

Sure, he can be a 'ball hog' at times, but come crunchtime, who to better trust the ball with and ensure a game-winning shot than Kobe Bryant? --D

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Smoothie Transition

In my quest to lose the dreaded beer belly (motivated by a $100 challenge), I made a switch from cholesterol-filled breakfast (mmmmmmmm, bacon!) to a healthy glassful smoothie.

For those unfamiliar, a smoothie is a blended, nutritional beverage that is perhaps a spin-off of the more common and popular milkshake.

David Zinczenko of the Abs Diet fame, describes it as a 'whip(ped) up, belly-busting, versatile powerfood'. A smoothie fills up the belly like any meal with the good stuff (fiber, protein, carbohydrates, etc.) in and the bad ones (fat, cholesterol) out. Okay, I won't try to oversell the smoothie here. I'll just post my breakfast smoothie recipe as a pay-it-forward gesture:

1 cup low fat milk
2 tbsp non fat vanilla flavored yogurt
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 scoop whey protein milk powder
1 handful of plain (unsmoked, non-roasted) almonds
1 banana
6 ice cubes

Dump everything in one reliable blender, push the button, and blend until the ice cubes are completely crushed. Good for 2-3 glass servings (take one for breakfast and another after a workout). In lieu of banana, I recommend strawberries. Yum-meh! --D

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Health, Sex, And Cancer

Catching up on my reading backlog over Easter weekend, I came across one of many health trivias inside the February issue of Men's Health magazine. It reports that men are most likely to be deficient in zinc. Now zinc may not be as popular as Vitamin C (especially these days what with the onslaught of flu and airborn virus) but the magazine suggests that a deficiency in zinc nutrient has serious repercussions on one's well-being that include hair loss, skin lesions, diarrhea, and even death!

Men are at risk because, as the magazine says, they 'lose 5 milligrams of zinc with each ejaculation [...] [which is] one third of the recommended daily dose.' And with low zinc levels, men produce 'poor sperm quality and less testosterone' meaning a significant decrease in physical endurance, memory ability, and loss of libido. Yes my friends, oversex has its downside, too. So how to know if one is zinc deficient? Well, the magazine makes it simple to detect: white spots on fingernails. How to combat? Eat meat, raisins, beans, and seafood.

I don't know when exactly I became a health nut. What I do know is I have tried experimenting with my food variety intake since senior year to compensate for my animosity towards and distaste over vegetables. I am a prime candidate for diabetes, I know (I have my mom and my physician to acknowledge for that prognosis). Lately though, I have been particularly sensitive about health because (1) I made an outrageous and impossible $100 bet with my college bud to build a six-pack abs by July this year, and; (2) Perhaps because I have relatives currently in combat with cancer whose stories ring regret but also advise caution and prudence.

Although I think I'm still young to fear death as an inevitable element in life, I believe it's never too early to start a smart, healthy lifestyle. Sure, there's a grain of truth on the saying 'People who spend so much time watching their health have no time to enjoy it', but a large slice of truth goes with the saying 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'

Now if I could just enjoy beans and veggies, I'd win half the darn battle. --D

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Reflections 2

Isn't it exciting to be a Catholic this Easter? Nope, I didn't put that lead just to arrest attention; it just is. The meat of this excitement comes from the seemingly progressive attempts to shake the foundations of the Catholic Church down to its very conservative core by controversies from recent discoveries, developments, and debates.

Of course, the Church has been plagued with controversies for centuries but of late, it has been in a defensive mode like a fifth grade bully being ganged up by a mob of hostile and fed-up first grade nerds.

The recent fissure started with the death of the much-loved John Paul II whose papacy was taken over by the ultra-conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2005. By the great seer Nostradamus' prophecy, the new pope will be assassinated that will signal the end of the Catholic Church ("Then comes pope number 112, who will flee Rome because of an attack by Muslims"). For many, the prophecy strikes a sensitive chord with the current hostility among Islam fundamentalists against the capitalist (and with Dubya's leadership, imperialist) West. His monicker as God's Rotweiller doesn't calm nerves either.

Then there's Dan Brown. His popular novel, The Da Vinci Code, propounds a gripping conspiracy theory detailing a grand cover-up of a fictional descendant of Jesus Christ living among us today. This theory is causing ruckus because physical and visual proofs, as well as scholarly truths, are mentioned and presented in the book; supposed proofs and truths that were inconspicuously concealed by the Church.

And just a couple of weeks ago, the National Geographic Society has trumpeted the reconstruction and translation of the 2000 year-old Gospel of Judas. Unearthed in Egypt, the document contradicts the centuries-old portrayal of Judas Iscariot as the disciple who betrayed and sold Jesus to the Romans. On the contrary, at least according to the document, Judas was the most-favored disciple whose actions were at Jesus' bidding.

The Church, of course, has made its arguments known on these controversies dispelling rumors of an unstable leadership; demarcating centuries-old truths from modern-day fiction, and; dismissing results of discoveries as by-products of the eccentric nature of men less divine.

Over the course of Holy Week, I was engrossed with these controversies, watching specials on TV, reading debates and developments on print and over the internet, and reflecting in general on how these affect my somewhat lethargic faith of late. It sounds a bit shallow and cosmetic to take a sudden interest in religion because of popular, media-oriented issues, but yeah, I do feel like crap. I take pride in my relationship with God: casual and personal -- beyond the trappings of grand ceremonies and traditional pageantry associated with an uptight and exacting Church.

Having said that, it also becomes an easy excuse to distance myself from God and faith, per se because, as pervasive as the voice in the reality TV show Big Brother, I feel God is always there anyway, as is faith. A housemate doesn't spend long hours inside the confession booth and open up in confidence to Big Brother; rather, a housemate go about his or her chores and whatever task is at hand to outsmart the others and win. Now I know the analogy doesn't seem solid. But what I want to say, today being Easter, is that inasmuch as I want to win in life, I'd like to spend some regular time inside the booth for a change. I'd like to be casual and personal but deep and involved. And this time, I'd like to experience faith beyond controversies and the excitement they generate. -- D

See previous blog entry Easter Reflections (Posted 27 March 2005)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Chinese Redux

I received an email from a Filipino-Chinese friend who happen to read my previous blog entry about my recent vacation in Manila that turned into an all Chinese experience. He wrote in jest that (1) I should be thankful for the Chinese for bringing the comforts and perks I enjoyed, and; (2) the Chinese global invasion is inevitable unless Indians take over Britain by default (read: mass immigration). I didn't exactly get the drift of the joke but I did laugh out the proceeding list of mock Chinese phrases he sent in time for April Fools:

Learn Chinese in 5 minutes (must read out loud)

1. That's not right: Sum Ting Wong
2. Ayou harboring a fugitive: Hu Yu Hai Ding
3. See me ASAP: Kum Hia!
4. Stupid man: Dum Fuk
5. Small horse: Tai Ni Po Ni
6. Did you go to the beach: Wai Yu So Tan
7. I bumped the coffee table: Ai Bang Mai Fa Kin Ni
8. I think you need a face lift: Chin Tu Fat
9. It's very dark in here: Wai So Dim
10. I thought you were on a diet: Wai Yu Mun Ching
11. This is a tow away zone: No Pah King
12. Our meeting is scheduled for next week: Wai Yu Kum Nao?
13. Staying out of sight: Lei Ying Lo
14. He's cleaning his automobile: Wa Shing Ka
15. Your body odor is offensive: Yu Stin Ki Pu
16. Great: Fa Kin Su Pah!


See related blog entry Of Bean Curd And All Else Chinese (Posted: 09 March 2006)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dodging Disaster

I don't know if you're familiar with the hit TV show Lost but my return to California from Manila yesterday has made me think that recent events may have led me out of similar Lost elements: danger, disaster, and, yes, death.

You see, I am a Greg Focker when traveling. I humor the gods of travel with all sorts of misfortune that an ordinary traveler would not encounter -- late airport train, unusual highway traffic and weather, overbooked plane, holidays on flight waitlist, plane seats next to the john or a mother and (wailing) child, lost luggage... you name it, 'been there, done that. Save for the occasional luck (eg, seat upgrade, free lounge use), which comes rarely, I am perhaps doomed to become a Lost cast in real life (hard knock on wood).

So it was not surprising to receive a call from my travel agent saying my flight was canceled and moved to a later date. It was not surprising either that my name wasn't picked from a seat upgrade raffle. And, of course, it wasn't a surprise to hear G irate and displeased over the news.

As it turned out, a series of unfortunate events transpired during the course of my flight delay. First, the airline I was booked into had trouble over radio transmission. It would have been impossible to track the plane during take-offs and landing and even emergencies. Two, the LAX was on a tight security on the day I was originally scheduled to arrive due to a certain level of threat (terror, perhaps). It would have been impossible to slip through customs the shrimp paste, fish sauce, native sweets, and a bagfull of stuff that are subject to tax or confiscation. Also, with a one-year open ticket, I would have been thorougly questioned, and perhaps, held under strong suspicion by the immigration officer in such heightened conditions. Last, a carjacking chase along 101 that ended in a bloody shootout on State Street happened a day prior. As recounted by the cab driver on my way home (who seem to be a witness to the entire mishap), it was a complete chaos: knotted and bumper traffic, canceled public transport, indiscriminate road blocks, and a helpless yet all too peevish public. My long anticipated sweet reunion with G would have been foiled by that, for sure.

What difference did that delay make? A lot. I have dodged a possible plane crash, a great deal of complications at US immigration or customs, a lousy reunion with G, a very expensive cab fare, and a string of undue stress, tension, and anxiety. I guess I'm no Greg Focker after all. --D

See related blog entries:
Jinxed! ( Posted: 10 October 2005) New York! New York! (Posted: 01 February 2005) 'Til Death Do Us Park (Posted: 06 March 2006)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Homecoming 2

As I kill time inside the airline lounge awaiting my connecting flight to LA, I thank Phantom Planet for singing a song about coming home. With feelings, I quote (and sing):


We’ve been on the run
Driving in the sun
Looking out for No. 1
California here we come
Right back where we started from

Hustlers grab your guns
Your shadow weighs a ton
Driving down the 101
California here we come
Right back where we started from

California!
Here we come!

On the stereo
Listen as we go
Nothing’s gonna stop me now
California here we come
Right back where we started from

Pedal to the floor
Thinkin’ of the roar
Gotta get us to the show
California here we come
Right back where we started from

California! Here we come!

Okay, so it isn't exactly a coming home song. Nonetheless, California... I can't wait, here I come! --D

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Travel & Tour

Taking respite from chaos that resembled Metro Manila, my family and I spent a long weekend in Hong Kong. Not exactly a first choice but it was a destination where our schedules and itineraries jived, and personal tastes and opinions conciliated. The dealbreaker, of course, was the newly-opened Disneyland. My nephew would have thrown tantrums if we went to see temples in Bangkok or museums in Singapore or elsewhere boring in the eyes of a 4-year old.

Truth be told, we feel relieved we made the family vacation happen. For years, it was just another thought in a bubble, floating idly around each own's subconscious in earnest hope it bursts into reality. Vacations in real life were often limited to places proximal to Manila, and overseas trips were made individually and more to do with business than leisure.

Booked in a tour, we stayed in Canton for a night before heading to Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

As with any tour package, trips to odd companies were inevitable. We endured hours of demonstrations and went through offers and bargains of products ranging from high end jewelry to traditional silk and embroideries; from herbal ointments and teas to souvenir keychains and nailclippers. Not all were game, though. As without fail, the malcontent Pinoy came about with gripes and grumbles, blaming and bitching, criticisms and chidings thrown wildly about throughout the tour. Of course it helped the tourguide knew nothing (save for a few) about Filipino language.

The highlight of the trip was an all-day, free-and-easy itinerary inside Disney. Before, trips to Hong Kong were about Ocean Park, Victoria Peak, Nathan Road (for cheap mobile phones), and yes, the ubiquitous Giordano shops (for the viajeras and first time tourists). And so Disney is a new come-on for Hong Kong visitors with no budget to fly to Anaheim or Florida, or even Tokyo. There weren't enough rides, though. So we did what Pinoys do best on occasions such as then: take photo shots. My nephew was overwhelmed, no doubt; pictures don't lie. First time is always sweet.

Back in Manila, everyone was dead tired. Too tired that my sister left her bag inside a cab whose driver was both cunning and corrupt. All her essentials were in the bag: wallet, mobile phone, passport, digicam, etc. Had she not been quick to collect her prudence and wits and immediately report the incident to airport police and over AM radio broadcast, the bag would'nt be recovered and the supposed happy and sweet family weekend would end on a very sad and sour note.

By Saturday, I'll be flying back to California. The Hong Kong trip was a great way to cap a month-long vacation in Manila. It gave me enough memories to remember the family more by and enough stories to reminisce with them about. A repeat is in order -- no to tours and dubious cabs next time around, though. --D

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Of Bean Curd And All Else Chinese

Ever wake up and stare blankly on whatever image your eyes first lay sight on? And when consciousness finally kicks in, do you start to actually read or make sense of whatever thing your eyes have lingered too long on?

Well, I did. My eyes got fixed on my pillow's tag that read: Made In China.

Strange as it seems, but those three words set the tone of my day (of my entire vacation, perhaps).

I had soya bean curd (taho) for breakfast, rice cake (tikoy, a Chinese New Year treat) for morning snack, sweet and sour pork for lunch, and a halo-halo (shave ice with fruit bits) for afternoon snack at a faux Chinese fast food joint. On top of these, while I was on my way to a dinner with friends at (guess no more) a popular uptown Chinese restaurant, the car radio blared Wishful Thinking by the 80s pop band China Crisis (too much, I know!).

God almighty, everything's Chinese!

I tell you, it's a grand conspiracy. The Chinese are staging a great global invasion. And this is shrewdly happening under the very nose of modern day superpowers, i.e. the US, Britain, and Japan. Those in the academe and into trade and economics are deeply sucked into this phenomenon, juncture, or whatever appropriate word that may describe this development. The idiom China Syndrome has been redefined and, for all we know, there may just be a movement out there imploring for the advancement of this Chinese invasion -- regardless of China's GDP performance -- collectively chanting something like:

Thank you China!
Thank you chow mein and beef broccoli
Thank you cheap labor
Thank you cheap products and knockoffs
Thank you Yao Ming
Thank you China!

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the Chinese. I don't intend to antagonize a future master, or a race that can generate earthquakes and bury civilizations with a series of simultaneous jumping jacks. Hell, no!

Truth is, to show I'm all for anything Chinese, I'm set to spend a weekend in Disneyland... Hong Kong. Thank you, China indeed! --D

Monday, March 06, 2006

'Til Death Do Us Park

I had a near death experience. Although not as elaborate as any plot plucked from a Wes Craven or Stephen King movie, the experience was a close call.

It happened over the weekend when I spent an overnight get-together with friends (one of those must-attend, meet-and-catch-up kind in my short furlough-slash-vacation of sorts) in the outskirts of Manila. No, the near death experience didn’t occur then -- horror flicks with a climax transpiring at night in the countryside are sooo overrated (although we did watch Sixth Sense by midnight just for kicks).

It did happen the day after, and in broad daylight.

Before I hit the expressway and head back home, I had to make a stopover (an errand, if you will) at this dairy farm the province is famous for to buy cottage cheese and fresh milk for my mom who wanted to take a break from her daily consumption of the usual preservatives-packed, urban supermarket kind of produce. Thinking the purchase would not take much time, I hesitated to park at an open designated spot and thought it best to just pull over at the curb I'm on where old trees provide a generous shade over my already weary but reliable 10-year old Toyota. I was about to switch off the engine when my friends had that look of disapproval and coaxed me to park at the open spot instead. Not wanting to be the odd ball among (obviously) law-abiding friends, I moved my car into the sunny spot and lightly tapped the dashboard, subconsciously saying It's gonna be okay! like a kid consoling his sick dog.

And then, a wild crack and a loud thud followed.

A large branch, the size of a log, disjointed and fell from what appeared to be a century-old tree onto the exact same curb I mulled over to park. The branch tore itself on impact; sunlight pierced onto the debris from where the branch once canopied, and; leaves rustled from a sudden blow of afternoon wind -- as if in grief, as if to mourn.

For me and my friends, shock and disbelief slowly seeped in; and in silence, what-ifs were entertained and prayers were spoken.

It was Sunday. Perfect day to reflect. And in reflection, I took a couple of lessons to heart: One, enjoy the company of family and friends; life is short, carpe diem! And two, park the Goddamn car right! --D

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Quote Of The Day

There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror. Orson Welles

The day is warm as the sun is out. The airport bus took the Pacific Highway, averting weekend gridlocks on 101.

It's 3pm. Too darn early for my 845pm flight to Manila. I stare out. The weather's just perfect. Too darn perfect to waste inside an airport bus.

I need sleep. Why it takes like forever to pack 2 luggages and a carry-on for a short vacation is just beyond normal. It has always been like that. A bad travel habit that seems to die hard. The end result is torture: a hangover deprived of caffeine.

I need sleep, for real.

Perhaps I'll just take a nap. Try to slumber off stress and weariness from last night's lapse in self-organization. And maybe, just maybe, provoke later on the plane an emotion brighter than Orson Welles's sentiments... --D

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Homecoming

After being away for a time, going home is always an occasion to find delight in; to feel excited about; to overwhelm oneself with. This is all the more true when returning home from a long stay overseas that, say, an OFW would overlook travel hassles, i.e. expensive plane fares, long hours of bad airline service, rude immigration officials, and bureaucratic airport personnel, with the thought of or seeing someone familiar (parents, siblings, families, etc.) waiting eagerly across the airport customs counter.

Ah, airport reunions! I kill time on stressful stopovers observing couples or families reunite in sheer bliss and -- allow me to describe without being too obvious that I worked in PR for two years -- these are just absolute Mastercard moments: Priceless.

A week from today, I’ll be heading back to Manila after two months (that capped off a three-year study) in Japan and six months of touring the US (trying hardest to sound like a rock band member here *I wish*). I go home every year and the excitement is always there. Well, almost always; Not this time.

Weird, I know.

I’m not saying it’s completely absent; I AM excited (okay, I’m being complicated)! I guess, what I am trying to say here is this: I yearn to go home but I hesitate to leave just yet. It’s not like I’m in an indecisive situation here (a cut from Gattaca reel suddenly flashes with Ethan Hawke whispering to Uma Thurman “When you finally find the chance to leave, you find a reason to stay,” or something close to that) but I feel I’m home here as much as I’m home in Manila. In fact, if it were not for my visa constraints, I'd postpone my trip back home.

Ah, you say, the plot thickens! Well, yes, not that I intend to omit this bit of a detail that I'm still in the process of earning a green card, but true: I am coming home because my six-month stay is up.

But it's not that I am forced to leave or anything; my visa is still good for seven more years. I don't have intentions to overstay by illegal means either; only a personal resolve to restart my three-year dormant career here in the US. And no, it's not a by-hook-or-by-crook situation but more of a testing-the-waters kind. So, OK, what if I am one of those doomed-if-I-stay, scorned-if-I-leave Pinoys out to look for the proverbial 'greener pastures'? Shoot me!

Nationalism aside (as an entire blog entry might perhaps warrant), G and I plan to settle here in US -- for good. Now, it may seem strange to some but starting out on our own for real (as opposed to being mobile and temporary as it were in Japan) is an exciting experience I relish and deem responsible to go through, i.e., scouting for and furnishing an apartment, familiarizing with neighbors and environment, etc.; thus, the hesitation to leave for home just yet.

But at the end of the day, logic and reason kick in: that I’ll be home to see my family and check on friends (which are exciting altogether) in Manila, and; that I’ll fly back to California after a relatively short month, anyway.

I DO miss my family and I DO want to visit them back in Manila. I reckon I should spend as much time with them as possible before I settle and reestablish (and get tangled up with) my career for good overseas -- what with my mom turning 62 this year.

Surely too, I'll miss G and our new apartment and all else new in our life together here in sunny California but only for a good while. I guess for now, I'm just going through the motions until everything falls into wherever good place they fit.

And while I'm thinking of the brighter side of things, imagine this: two homecomings in a month! Nothing but excitement, yeah? And twice over to boot!--D

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gender And The Gingerbread Man

On my way to a drive-thru at McDees for another unoriginal breakfast, I tuned in to this FM station that features a Stupid News segment in its morning program. This segment, among other equally outrageous ones, chronicles recent events that people would find, well, stupid. One of the news that stood out was a cooperative in Indiana selling politically-correct labeled pastries with the Gingerbread Man becoming the Gingerbread Person.

Trivial? Yes. Stupid? No.

I say trivial because renaming the Gingerbread was all too forthcoming. In fact, it was done a bit late. Anyone would've expected it to happen soon, what with the political-correctness campaign turning into a movement of sorts in the 1990s. And we are, after all, living in a politically-correct, gender-sensitive, non-discriminating world -- or atleast attempt and aspire to. Surely, Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks didn't die famous for nothing; Surely, Judith Butler's or Gloria Steinem's books aren't just chick lits. They stand for something significant; True testaments of change, of something progressive.

The Gingerbread Person today may tickle and stretch one's sense of humor or strike one's fancy on semantics but at the end of the day, it is the Gingerbread Man no more. Gingerbread Person... yeah, it does sound progressive. --D

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Best Of 2005

Happy New Year!

New Year celebrations are usually attached with feelings of overwhelm that hang on everyone's shoulders almost in burdensome fashion but nonetheless positive. Perhaps it's just the kick of the booze or the high level of revelry that weigh down on someone the morning after; Or, perhaps it's just starting out another year with a clean slate (and a laundry list of rolled over resolutions!).

But nothing beats looking back at the year's past and breaking into a wide grin on thoughts of how good it really was.

A countdown is in order. My own. The best of year 2005:

1. Best Movie: Star Wars III:Revenge of the Sith. So you don't like it, fine. But you've got to give it to George and his franchise. The part when Obi Wan dislimbed Anakin after a gruelling lightsaber fight and was torn whether to finish off his protege or save him from the burning lava (crying out: "I loved you!") was just moving that I had to cry (okay, near tears then -- come on, this is one ultimate guy film as Love Story is the ultimate chick flick). Runners up go to Sin City, King Kong, Harry Potter (not really: see previous blog entry), The Wedding Crashers and Memoirs Of A Geisha (not as good as the book but worth seeing anything about Japan again).

2. Best Athlete: Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash. He's number 1 in assists and voted as the season's MVP, need I say more? I mulled over San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan, boxer Manny Pacquiao and Yankees superstar Derek Jeter for this spot, too.

3. Best Song: Greenday's Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. Okay, not exactly a favorite but having to hear it blare incessantly in every nook and cranny of whichever place I was in, I gathered it was begging for attention. Plus, Billie Joe Armstrong and the rest of the band earned several MTV moonmen and a Grammy for the song. Not bad for these punk revivalists (and obviously, The Cure wannabes).

4. Best Band: Maroon 5. Not too heavy, not too pop, not too mainstream, not too preachy. The band is so good that I learned to like Kanye West when Adam Levine was featured in the song Heard 'Em Say. Incidentally, the band's She Will Be Loved track is also my choice for best music video of 2005 (wait, 'twas 2004 wasn't it?). Lucky Adam. She gets to date a cute girl and gets to screw (pardon the slang) her mom, too (images of Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman of The Graduate fame in mind here; or Paul hooking up with Stifler's mom in American Pie; or Simple Plan's Stacy's Mom playing in my head...). Oh, and they got a Grammy, as well (not a good indicator of portent things to come but, hey, an award is an award!).

5. Best Book: This is a hard one, really. There's Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, which is keenly interesting and probing, not to mention controversial. There's Mark Weyner's Why Do Men Have Nipples? for answers to common and nagging questions. And, of course, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, which is less rivetting as its prequels and more of a bridge-of-a-book to JK Rowling's seventh and last installment. I choose Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated. So it was published in 2002, okay, fine, shoot me! I just read it in its entirety this year and, if a segue is warranted, I intend to get his next one: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is published in 2005.

6. Best people on TV: I pick the weathermen. Their rise to popularity is largely attributed to the past hurricanes that hit the US and the South Asian tsunami in late 2004. From obscure, ridiculed, and largely ignored news fillers, weathermen were transformed to action stars overnight! Suddenly, they were plucked from the studio to battle winds, rains, floods, snow, and hurricanes reporting live in (sometimes literally) the eye of the storm.

7. Best new word: There are a few new words but the best ones come from the Washington Post's Style Invitational (bozone, innoculatte, osteopornosis, ignoranus, etc.). My choice would be from an article published in the December issue of GQ magazine: effyu. It's short for f*@# you! Goodbye 'Talk to the hand', hello 'effyu!'.

8. Best prank: Google Bombers/ Activists. Finding Dubya Bush and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (and a list of other prominent individuals) in cyberspace has never been this fun (and truthful).

9. Best Xbox game: Dead Or Alive 3. It's either Hayate or Kazumi for the win. Halo comes in close second.

10. Best gadgets: Ipod Nano and Motorola Razr V3. Both are slim, sleek, and highly functional (and I just got both), enough said. --D

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Musings

It's Christmas eve. And to put a tmesis between Christmas and eve (eg freakin', bloody, f*!?ed-up, or any reviling or blasphemous word that comes to mind) to describe the present state of preparedness for the coming holiday wouldn't help the situation at all.

This blog, for instance, is unattended for weeks: drafts to post, entries to write, messages to read.

Orlando. I haven't written anything about my recent trip with G in Florida. That tops my blog-to-write backlog. Screw the backlog. Here's the gist. Went to Orlando, gray skies, cloudy weather, bunked in an old and cheap Holiday Inn, wearied ourselves in themeparks, blew our brains out from barf-inducing rides, fed ourselves with burgers and chinese (stuck needles of cholesterol is more like it), went wild and carnal, left broke and sick. Whew!

Oh, and a plane crashed in Miami while we were about to take-off. That really capped our weekend trip.

And so, here I am, back in NY (tmesis applicable: happening). Christmas tree is out, spruced and lit up. Snow is absent, odd as it may read. Malls are packed; parking spaces becoming rare.

Speaking of malls, I just came from one and people are everywhere. Lines knot into restrooms, and I am talking about toilets for men here! Same is true with cash counters and fitting rooms. Shopping. It's a curse. Unforgiveable, too. You lose money and tire yourself crazy.

Ah, Christmas postcards! Unsigned and unsent, still. I reckon, by the time it reaches a friend, it would be Easter already. Go ahead, blame it on procrastination. I know I will.

We're having grilled sirloin steaks for the Christmas eve dinner. That's something to look forward to, yeah? That might have to wait. G and I are still wrapping gifts. Last-minute, I know. Again, procrastination. Pinoy kasi!

OK, enough musings (and irregular sentences). Work! Work! Work! The house is a mess! Wrappers, receipts, plastic bags, adhesive tapes, scissors, and chips are taking over the living room floor. Jesus Christ! (Happy Birthday, by the way). Merry Christmas! --D

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Guilty As Presumed

US President George W. Bush -- yes, the man who found himself locked in an auditorium in China two weeks ago (and yes, the same one who tried to mediate between two squabbling dogs in the White House amidst pressing socio-economic problems) -- has finally admitted that the decision to wage a war on Iraq came from 'wrong intelligence' and has taken responsibility for it.

Finally, the (arguably) most powerful leader in the world used his not so powerful IQ and delivered the message to his people: I have poor judgment and made a terrible decision out of it.

The entire world knew the Iraq war and invasion were wrong; The entire world knew the real reason and motive behind the war and invasion; And the entire world knew Dubya and his decisions on Iraq and terrorism, per se, were wrong since Colin Powell made sweeping accusations on Iraq's capability to manufacture WMD in the UN's Security Council back in 2002.

How can Dubya be right when he barks up the wrong tree? How can he mistake Saddam Hussein for Osama bin-laden? How can he fight terrorism in a country where the only exports it sends overseas are not trained terrorists but drilled oil? How can he pass the buck to 'wrong intelligence' when it is clearly his own decision to settle an old score with Saddam Hussein and secure oil contracts in the end under his fumbling (and obviously misdirected) campaign on terrorism?

If there is anything the entire world was guilty of, it was giving Dubya too much benefit of the doubt and entertaining wild what ifs in dire hopes terrorism (and Osama bin Laden, who, by the way, remains at-large) would crumble as hard as the blown down WTC.

Four years later, with more than 2,000 KIA troops and no trace of any WMD, the war on Iraq proves to be the biggest blunder in intelligence and leadership (Dubya, personified).

Despite this blunder, Americans have decided to keep Dubya and his intelligence through re-election. But for the rest of the world, all it had to do was to presume with greater intelligence that Dubya was waging a wrongful war on Iraq.

And now, the presumption is confirmed true: Guilty! --D

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Illuminated, Albeit Belatedly

After laboring through it for a good couple of months, I finally finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed the book in all its comic glory and tragic climax. I relished the book's rich narration of discovering one's roots in Nazi-torn environment even if I'm no Jew. I just have this silly obsession with reading slowly a good book -- mincing every word and rereading exceptional lines, like taking a scrimp-of-a-bite out of a cheesecake for hours (hmmmmmm).

But perhaps because I am no Jew, I felt lost in some parts of the book that I had a crash course of sorts about Jews through Wikipedia on occassions too many. Of course I didn't mind at all. The better for me to understand and appreciate the book.

I'd like to write and a post a blog review about it soon but for now, I am just... illuminated of how great the book turned out to be!

I admire Foer's writing style; there's something distinct and precise about it, especially the way points and punch lines are delivered. I envy his gift. I have yet to shake up my dormant muse and find the courage to write my own stories -- all bottled up in my fickle and already cluttered head.

Anyway, now that I have finally given Everything Is Illuminated it's time of day (heck, months!), I yearn to start leafing through Foer's next fiction Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. --D

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

I unknot the strings of my PJs while I open my bedroom door to psych my contracting bladder wall that I am heeding its nagging (and waking) call. I am pissed, pun intended. I say OK, OK, I'm off to the toilet! As I turn the knob and pull the door, I start to squint my eyes bracing them from my pitch-dark bedroom to the usual bright, sunlit living room.

The door flings open. I stop squinting. It's still dark. I check the time: 8AM.

Weird.

I walk towards the window pressing my you-know-what from exploding, half expecting to see an element that resembles something close to any Spielberg or Shyamalan movie. The window glass is misty, so I give it a quick rub with my other hand. And there it is: A wide blanket of snow on rooftops, pavements, trees, posts, vacant lots, and the entire neighborhood!

I don't know how others feel, but seeing snow is a fascination G and I relish. Perhaps because we were both raised in tropical Manila that expecting and experiencing snow are affairs we earnestly take interest in. On our first winter day years back, we posed in every snowy nook and wearied the camera and tolerated the usual encumbrances of chapped lips, dry skin, and numbed jaws from the winter cold.

Today, it snows. And I say a warm hello! to the start of winter.

Time to ready the camera and poses; Time to pull out the thick blankets, heavy coats, scarfs, jackets, mittens, and bonnets; Time to turn up the heater and put the airconditioners and fans in the closet; Time to think of Christmas and the holiday season, and; (taking cue from my bladder-in-protest) Time to rush to the toilet and relieve myself... --D

Saturday, December 03, 2005

If I Were A Movie...

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My life is rated R!



Life Rated R

What is your life rated? (MPAA Scale)

Take Other Caffeine Nebula Quizzes


You can tell, I am bored...
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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Foul!

Politics in Manila reared its ugly head yet again as the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) finally scrapped basketball from the official sports list in this month's staging of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in the Philippines.

The controversy-ridden Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) has been suspended from the roster of accredited sports bodies under POC for reasons (1) BAP failed to honor its commitment with the POC in the formation of a national basketball team from major leagues to compete in international competitons, and; (2) the BAP chair (along with some basketball players) was found to be a non-Filipino, which is unconstitutional.

Officials of both sports bodies have been at odds for months and the stand off has hurt the participation of national players in basketball games overseas including the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship in Malaysia. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is poised to suspend BAP, as recommended by POC, and prevent the Philippines from fielding a national team in any international game. Because of this, Filipinos will be deprived of a basketball team in this year's SEAG where the Philippines consistently dominate and reap gold for years.

Sad, really. Politicians are spoiling the very passion and pastime of every common Filipino. Basketball is a national Philippine sport as soccer is in Brazil. Sure, Filipino players are not as tall as the Chinese; not as disciplined as the Japanese; not as superstar-like as Americans, but the display of skill and heart to play is always there. So much so that Filipinos revere basketball players, raising them up on pedestals as heroes, idols, and even Gods (and elect into politics -- ah, the irony!).

Basketball championship in SEAG may yield only one gold, but if history will repeat itself this year as in 1991 when the Philippines lost overall SEAG championship to Indonesia by a mere gold, these politicians embroiled in the suspension of basketball will reckon the nation's wrath of political disenchantment and disgust.

No basketball in SEAG? What an injustice! It merits a 'foul!' call, indeed. --D

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Goodbye Booze, Hello Beef

You read right.

Goodbye beer and soda. Hello Gatorade and sport drinks; Goodbye sweets and carbs. Hello grains and protein.

What gives?

Hav'ta shed the beer belly and tone up for next year's wedding.

Serious. For real. No kidding (OK, I get the drift... I am convinced!).

To my fitness buff-slash-guru friend Michael, yes, the dormant six-pack challenge is officially on (again!?!).

To my fiancee, yes, more washboard abs and less love handles for, well, you know what.

To my grade school bully, watch out!

To myself... good luck! --D

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of High Expectations

One of the disadvantages of satisfying one’s habit of reading (and reading some more) is the constant craving to see a story and its characters come to life on silverscreen. Once one is under works, readers (the rabid, avid ones, especially) get intense, emotional, and all-too-giddy in anticipation. Armed with high expectations, come screening day, they are usually the extremely critical ones on how the film adaptation fared. They are dead-serious and unforgiving about details and nuances richly told yet absent in film; they cry ‘injustice!’ and shout ‘rip-off!’ all too easy on such occasions.

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JK Rowling’s Harry Potter book series is no different.Catching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on its midnight premiere yesterday, I find the film flaccid, faulty, and flawed.

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Sure, the cinematography is superb as Cuaron’s Prisoner of Azkaban. Its near-noir quality makes the dark, tragic, and foreboding premise of the dark Lord and his reign’s return a welcome treat, like Rodriguez' adaptation of Frank Millers' Sin City. Sure, the special effects weave the real with the surreal (the Horn-tail dragon looks menacingly dangerous), thus satisfying one's delusion that Hogwarts exists in a parallel universe. And sure, Voldermort looks eerily scary and ghoulishly grim and demonic, like Freddie Krueger of 1665 Elm Street.

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The acclaim stops there.

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Newell's Goblet Of Fire is a decapitation of Rowling's finest Harry Potter novel (until Book 7's release). Ah, where to even begin? OK, first off, the International Quidditch match barely lasts 2 minutes without the much-awaited Veelas (come on, weren't you keenly curious how they would live up to Rowling's pretty and sexy description of the Bulgarian bunch?). Two, Winky the elf is peculiarly absent. Three, character miscasts: Mad Eye Moody is supposed to be short and frail with a wooden leg and a face that 'looked as though it had been carved out of weathered wood by someone who had only the vaguest idea of what human faces are supposed to look like, and was none too skilled with a chisel' -- not round, tall, steel-legged, and pomp; But the greatest miscast and murder of all is Albus Dumbledore. Richard Harris' untimely death is a big loss to the film franchise. The new one (Michael Gambon) is anyone BUT Dumbledore. He doesn't personify the calm and collected Dumbledore; unsymphatetic and uncaring to Harry; and appears unwise in the affairs of Hogwarts and the non-Muggle world.

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Of course there are more. Hermione's brilliance is overlooked. The film fails to emphasize Hermione's uncovering Rita Skeeter's animagus-of-a-secret (Skeeter being essential in the Order of the Phoenix). And the Maze! No Sphinx, no blast-ended skrewts, no boggarts. What a misadventure that task is!

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The popular conjecture is Newell has only read Book 4 and not the entire series as his interpretation (and murder) of events is highly suspect.

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Again, the disadvantage of reading a book is having high expectations of the film adaptation. And in the case of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the expectations are not met... not even close. But of course, being Harry Potter fans, G and I are sure to watch it again (and probably again). --D

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at last, the long wait is over. harry potter and the goblet of fire is now in theatres and i, the devoted fan that i am, caught the midnight screening of the film with a huge grin plastered on my face the whole time.

GoF centers on harry's fourth year in hogwarts and his participation in the triwizard tournament, albeit unwillingly. and in between the tasks he needs to do, harry begins to face the struggles of a normal fourteen year old boy like mending friendships and asking a date to the school dance.

the film succeeds in transporting its viewers to the magical world of harry potter (a parallel universe to avid readers like me) - from the opulent staging of the quidditch world cup (minus the actual game) to the execution of the triwizard tournament challenges. it brings to life legendary beasts and mythical creatures that we can only imagine in books. and true to the central theme of the books which is the constant fight between good and evil, the film gives us a glimpse of the darkness that seethes within harry's world.

but for all its cinematic grandeur and technological innovations, and the media hype that surrounds its release, the film is not even half as good as its printed counterpart. the movie fails to show the nuances and subtleties that make up the story as told in the book. the screenplay does not include essential subplots which bear significance in the latter part of the series, ie harry giving the twins his winnings from the triwizard tournament, percy weasley becoming a Ministry employee and transforming himself into a git in the process, Hermione discovering that rita skeeter is an unregistered animagus and the parting of ways between fudge and dumbledore. there are some things that director mike newell leaves unexplained like the essence of priori incantatem. more importantly, the film makes us vaguely aware of the gamut of emotions that j.k. rowling has so carefully woven in her book.

the harry-ron fight is an example. in the book, ron's insecurities are rooted deeply on his background. we can empathize with him because he comes from a poor family; almost everything he owns are hand-me-downs including his ghastly dress robe; and, he always plays second best to his older brothers and harry. his jealousy over harry's selection as a triwizard champion is not merely because of his personal desire to eternal glory, as implied in the movie, but to rephrase hermione's line in the book, it is one time too many for ron to be overshadowed by harry yet again. this bit of sensitivity to ron's character and the drama of the reconciliation between the two best friends are somehow lost in all the action surrounding the film.

the blossoming of young love between ron and hermione is surprisingly downplayed too. j.k. rowling peppers the book with so much hints on the sexual tension that begins to arise between this pair and yet we don't see much in the film except during the yule ball. and while emma watson shows a superb acting when she delivered in her choked voice one of my favorite lines, "next time there is a ball, ask me first and not as a last resort", i would have loved to see j.k. rowling's idea of ron and hermione screaming at the top of their lungs and making it more obvious to everyone that they fancy each other.

on a positive note, certain parts of the film are to be commended. for one, the film successfully depicts how the yule ball ushers the trio of harry, ron and hermione to the threshold of adolescence. i love how neville and ginny are given more exposure, preparing the viewers of the bigger role they are going to play in the succeeding films. and, fred and george finally getting the screen time they truly deserve as they embody too well the humor and antics of the twins in the books.

rupert grint as ron weasley gives out the best performance in the film. unlike in the prisoner of azkaban where he is mostly reduced to the scaredy-cat bestfriend of the boy-who-lived, ron shows the many sides of him in this film. he is absolutely hilarious from his first scene way up to the last. rupert is ron weasley personified and i couldn't imagine someone else playing ron but him. the worst actor for me is michael gambon who plays dumbledore. he doesn't convey the calmness, charisma and wisdom that is dumbledore in the books. when he confronts harry about his name on the goblet of fire, he comes off as harsh with violent-like tendencies, which is an insult to j.k rowling's characterization of the hogwarts headmaster. dumbledore, in the books, is always the voice of reason; the one who believes in harry when no else does.

overall, the film is good (i see D shaking his head), definitely better than its predecessors. it combines humor and drama, action and thriller in a fast-paced story that mirrors j.k rowling's writing. it is a good source of entertainment for the loyal harry potters readers and non-readers alike. but it does not, and cannot in any way, equal the rank of lord of the rings as the best fim adaptation of all time (at least in my opinion).

i have always told my friends who enjoy harry potter films to go and read the series because the movies do not give justice to the vastness and depth of the world that j.k. rowling has created in her books. this being said, i'm off to read the Goblet of Fire... for the nth time.

Film Rating: 6 OWLS

--G

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Finally, Feminism!

Timing. You've got to give it to the Japanese.

When the Chinese closed its doors to Western-led global development during the Qing Dynasty, Japan's Meiji era opened and started its Western-style modernization. When colonization was turning into old school in the West, Japan started its Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere campaign. And when Hollywood movies were lording over world cinema in the 1950s, Japan created Godzilla (OK, the segue isn't exactly brimming with logic here).

Half a decade after the 21st century began, Japan is about to do something the world has (arguably) embraced since Godzilla's debut: a leapfrog to feminism.

Recent news reports the Japanese Parliament is set to allow a female royal succession into the Imperial Chrysanthemum Throne with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi endorsing such an unprecedented move. This development could not have come at a better time when (1) an overwhelming pressure to produce a male successor to the Imperial line from Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako reaches a disappointing turn with Masako openly admitting stress and depression have eaten her Harvard-trained, high-brow upbringing self; (2) the dominance of the Japanese salarymen -- the Japanese patriarchy personified -- is demystified and dissipated, and; (3) the population in Japan is dwindling and aging.

What's wrong with having a female imperial leader anyway? Queen Elizabeth has been ruling UK for more than 50 years. There's Beatrix of Netherlands and Margaret of Denmark, too. Women presidents and ministers have come and gone. And so fussing over the possible female rule over the Imperial Household of Japan should not become an issue, at least in the eyes of the more progressive and open socities, but should be considered an inevitable reality (as inevitable as having a female or an African-American president).

It's hightime the Japanese eat up its traditional past and embrace change. Feminism in Japan? Finally! --D

Saturday, October 15, 2005

On Ulcers And Misconceptions

Ulcer.

I was 6 when I first heard of this medical jargon from an uncle whose profession is both a physician and a smart ass. 'Pep' in peptic ulcer was supposed to stand for Pepsi (how plainer can it get?) and drinking too much, especially early in the morning results to, well, ulcer. I had to suck everything in without question. But my smart ass of an uncle failed to mention that early research findings listed alcoholic and caffein beverages as contributing causes of ulcer, too, so (had I put my nerdish pursuits to good use then) I should've made a smart ass of myself and admonished his fondness for beer and capuccino.

Fast forward to 2005.

The recepients of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine are scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, whose research on ulcer makes them more than winners but winning smart asses as well. As early as 1982, these Australian scientists discovered the Helicobacter pylori bacterium (now known as the ulcer bug) that breeds and infects the stomach lining. But instead of shouting 'Eureka!', the medical community saw this discovery as a product of two smart asses out to debunk the popular belief that ulcers are caused by acid, stress, and (to some) spicy food: Earth became the center of the universe all over again and Marshall and Warren became the Galileos of the 20th Century. Popular Belief: a common conundrum encountered by smart asses.

Well, thanks to the Nobel Prize, this conundrum was reduced to misconceptions on ulcers; thanks to the Nobel Prize, the smart asses were acknowledged and recognized to the hilt.

And so we find that ulcers are mere infections that can easily be treated by doctors with simple antibiotics. Hail to Marshall and Warren for their discovery for we can now truly enjoy drinking beer, soda, and coffee without worrying about ulcers! The only symptom to worry about now is gaining pounds and the dreaded beer belly. --D

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Engaged!

G and I are engaged!

Although momentous, this development was welcomed by most family and friends as highly overdue and anticlimactic.

Not too surprising.

G and I have been a pair for six years since our film school days in Manila. We both worked in Public Relations for two years before spending three years studying (yet again!) in Japan. Six years is quite considerable a number for people to expect nothing less than marriage or engagement even. Six years is quite considerable a number for a couple to dismiss and end up disengaged and unwed. Well, we live up to such expectations and we don't dismiss a single day spent together. We put premium on marriage and the sanctity that goes with it. Of course marriage is more a social caprice or prerogative than a social requirement or responsibility these days but the sucker for social conformity and convention overwhelms the avant-gard and cosmopolitan in us.

And so after a year of plotting a proposal worth remembering – nothing ostentatious but at least teeming with brilliance – I finally popped the question, in Times Square no less. OK, so the place wasn’t exactly brilliant – some might regard it as something short of mediocrity – but I believe the moment was there. It was supposed to be in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on her birthday but a month’s delay and a change of venue didn’t diminish the intention and purpose, at least in my book.

It may not be surprising to others (I imagine eyes rolling and a nonchalant 'Finally!' expression here), but nothing beats the experience of devising a grand plan, buying an expensive ring (albeit cash-strapped), conspiring with relatives and friends to finally ask the right person to marry and spend a lifetime of bliss and surprises with.

Engaged, at last! Overdue? yes. Anticlimactic? yes. Surprising? I say yes, too -- for us both and the years ahead. Kampai! --D

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for lack of better words to describe the overwhelming emotions of being asked by the only man i'd say yes to (with apologies to the carpenters):

one love, in my young life took me

somewhere i had never been,

and i want to live again,

breathe again in the shelter of his brightly woven love song.

so long i have wanted love to be sitting just this near to me.

now my waiting here is free.

few are the choices we are given,

the sands of time pass quickly by.

one dream of my young life now stands holding out his hand to me,

now I can't help but believe that my whole life will be

spent in one love. --G

Serendipity

While taking photos in bustling Times Square in Manhattan, G and I came across a common friend in college. Finding a familiar face whence I grew up among 1.5 million diverse individuals streaming in and out of Times Square was like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Small world? Not quite. After all, the Small World Phenomenon -- popularized by Yale theorist and psychologist Stanley Milgram -- is not only a widely misused concept but also a disputed one. I will not belabor this argument but make merry the point of finding a familiar face in an otherwise unfamiliar and unwelcoming place as Manhattan (OK, OK, so I’m a newbie in NY).

G and I, taking a respite from the daily bum-of-a-life in suburban Long Island, were wandering in Times Square on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon; The purpose of the supposed aimless wandering about in NYC was suspect given a personal agenda I intend to make a blog of later on. But finding our fickle and indecisive selves at the center island of Times Square, pondering heavily whether to stay a bit longer (and relish the busy-ness absent in suburban living) or proceed to Central Park (and exhaust the camera to its weary end), led us to a seemingly pre-destined situation of meeting our friend, who we last rubbed elbows with a good six long years ago.

Imagine that scenario! We could've been on opposite ends of Times Square; We could've been in the same place but on different occasions and different times; We could've been walking and walking further on parallel paths where high rise buildings or speedy taxi cabs demarcate us -- oblivious to possible what-if encounters (thereby negating the thought of crossing paths altogether as merely wild and unlikely a probability).

And yet, there we were: In the same, invariable, exact time and space! I couldn't think of an appropriate word on top of my head to describe the happenstance but the banal slang-of-a-word COOL.

OK. So you might conclude that it IS a small world. But I'd like to think more of it as English author Horace Walpole would call serendipitious -- an instance of making a fortunate discovery by accident. Indeed, finding an old friend in New York is a remarkable discovery; A fortunate accident worth running into; An occurence deserving a celebration.

And so the next time G and I encounter a friend or an acquaintance in a seemingly impossible situation, we would perhaps compound the events that led to it not as a case of the world being a small and dense one but a divine phenomenon called serendipity. --D

Monday, October 10, 2005

Jinxed!

I came across an article today on the internet as I was on my usual daily news browse binge. It's quite interesting, actually. The article is titled: Science Behind Travel Troubles with a subtitle saying: You May Not Be Able To Avoid Travel Woes, But You Can Understand Them.

The article suggests that external factors such as road conditions, weather, and traffic are part of travel that should be understood, not cursed by the ordinary traveler: Tires skid water-pooled pavements because of hydroplane effect (heavy build up of water in front of tires) for drivers to easily lose control; Traffic moves faster and safer when almost bumper-to-bumper; And, violent winds are main culprits for flight delays, not thunderbolts.

But what about lost luggage? On our 14-hour trip to New York from Hawai'i last week, one of our 6-piece luggage didn't come out of the airport baggage carousel. It was frustrating, simply put. We were deadbeat from the trip; with two stopovers, bad in-flight service (headsets were sold for $5! -- how were we supposed to watch the friggin' movie?!?!), and unnerving co-passengers (three young moms with wailing infants in tow -- enough said), waiting for a lost luggage was just like trying hard not to scratch the sore tip of a nasty zit.

One week since and still no luggage, I googled for a scientific explanation on such occurence (the rate of which is, according to Men'sHealth magazine, 6 bags lost per 1000 passengers!), and there wasn't any.

Why, oh, why does this happen everytime G and I travel?!? If it isn't a late express airport train (the irony! the irony!) or a delayed plane that puts you on wait-list, it's a lost luggage!

Friends rib us if either or both of us have cursemark on our behind. I checked. There's none.

Jinxed is the word.

If it weren't for the $2500 luggage insurance (and the one time my seat was upgraded to business class), I'd seriously think we just might be.
--D
_________________________
my two-piece business suit that i am saving for a real job interview;
my 'ally mcbeal' blazer;
my bohemian white skirt that i only used oncemy tommy hilfiger summer dress;
the perfect-fit chinese dress from my chinese friend ning;
my black kamiseta shirt from yani;
the pink-and-white blouse D gave me last christmas;
my pink gap skirt from tanger this spring;
the new brown jacket i was saving for a planned pictorial at central park this fall;
the RL pink sweater i have never worn;
an old navy red preppy jacket i got on sale;
my long-sleeved guess blouse reminiscent of my PRISM days;
my black hooters shirt from auntie pia and uncle gary;
my four tube tops (green, brown, yellow and white);
a pair of jeans i only wore once;
my white colegiala jacket;
assorted tank tops, blouses, shirts and pants i have collected in less than a year;
my first harry potter book;
the certificate of academic merit award i got from APU;
my old but reliable eyebrow tweezers;
the last pair of undies i wore in hawaii, and;
some more items i can no longer recall.
in case you're wondering where they are now...
northwest airlines has lost my luggage. --G

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Forever Young

"It's so hard to get old without a cause [...] So many adventures couldn't happen today. So many songs we forgot to play. So many dreams swinging out of the blue. We'll let them come true. Forever Young. I wanna be, forever young..."

Ah, bless Alphaville for such a song; A nutshell of a song that contains my sentiments (frustrations, mostly) as I turn a year older today. Yep. Today is my birthday.

Happy Birthday!

Rewind. Year: 1998. Place: Venom Bar, Singapore.

Out clubbing (how 90s!) with my friends, I was dancing and boozing the night away. It was, after all, a Friday. The DJ popped Alphaville's Forever Young on the turntable. As the song started to blare, yuppies threw eager wails and mimicked faux epileptic fits on the dance floor. They sang the song as if it were an anthem and danced wildly through it as if it were their last. What gives, I asked? None of my friends knew for sure.

I know now.

They were reliving their youth; Revelling the good, carefree times and rebelling from the routine, work-cuffed life today.

As I turn a year older today, I feel I'm still in a good and carefree time. Untied from big responsibilities, uninvolved in social complications, undaunted by life's challenges, and still unrealistically idealistic. I know these will not last for long. Times change. And so must I.

As I turn a year older today, I'd like to move on. Take risks. Compromise. Dive into the unknown and douse doubts with possibilities. I'd like to discount age to mature ("age is a high price for maturity" -- Coelho) and find a betterman in me.

But as I turn a year older today, I'd still like the feeling of being Forever Young to linger on. I'd hate to see myself too serious and work-driven to watch MTV or enjoy theme park rides. I'd hate to part ways with my sneakers for a moccasin pair of shoes (hiyaiks!) or trade in my Low Rise for pleated starched pants (Noooooo!). I'd like to keep some Peter Pan in me as I grow and mature . Besides, if there's anything I put to heart from Nietzsche, it's his take on maturity: "A person's maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child -- at play".

So happy birthday to me, yeah?

Got to go start and find a cause, make adventures happen, play songs, and turn dreams true to feel forever young! --D

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Iced

A trip to Hawai'i is dousing oneself with the three S's of ideal vacation life: Sun, sand, and sea. Sun is all around the powdery beaches and cool waters of the Pacific Ocean (okay, so it's not a sea).

Of course, Waikiki beach is the most popular one in Hawai'i, but for backpackers and ordinary tourists (read: no money!) there are plenty of public beaches to go. Two of these are Waimea and Northshore, both located near the historic Hale'iwa strip -- the same strip preserved to provide tourists a glimpse of the old plantation town life in the islands.

An added attraction to this part of the island is another essential S: Shave Ice. Not just any other shave ice but a Matsumoto Shave Ice. As Japanese immigrants in Hawaii, the Matsumotos pioneered shave ice back in 1951. Back then, it was just a come-on for surfers and tourists to visit the Matsumoto general merchandise store (as there were a string of stores that peddled the same stuff). As fate would have it, shave ice took a popular turn with the emergence of the hippie generation when all things bright and multicolored (and addictive, hehe) were, well, cool.

Shave ice are far different from snow cones, as any native Hawai'ian would argue. Shave ice are finer in texture and the syrups are not artificially flavored, unlike the real (exotic, even) fruit syrups of shave ice (although, this part is arguable what with shave ice bubble gum flavor). The best part of this Hawai'an concoction is the ice cream underneath. After eating the powdery flavored ice on top, one finds a generous serving of ice cream treat at the bottom of the cone *yumm-eh!* Just a bit of advise: Don't oggle at the shave ice too long, it (as any frozen produce) melts!

So if you ever take a vacation in Hawai'i, don't forget to add the extra S in your SSS itinerary, okay? --D

Monday, September 26, 2005

It's Havai'i, Stupid!

How does one spell Hawaii? With an apostrophe (or 'okina in local vernacular), stupid!

Hawai'i.

How does one pronounce Hawai'i? Like a South Asian, stupid!

Hava-i.

Well, one learns something everyday, yeah? stupid or otherwise. --D

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina and What Ifs

Reading The Collected What If? (subtitled Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been) while tuned to CNN’s marathon coverage of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in the US Gulf Coast, I couldn’t help but give thought to my own What Ifs on what is being touted as a humanitarian crisis akin to the Great Depression of 1930s.

1. What if – and this being the biggest What If wildly whirling in my head right now – George W. lost to John Kerry in last year’s presidential election? Would Kerry pass the buck, too, onto the federal government of Louisiana or FEMA for the lack of preparation and action? Would Kerry appoint inexperienced, ineffectual FEMA officials (as many charge embattled director Michael Brown) as political pay off? Would Kerry be caught in a prolonged vacation in Texas and survey Katrina's aftermath on a presidential plane than on ground with the displaced people?

Would the reported 3,000 of Louisiana's 11,000 National Guard troops stationed in Iraq make a difference in the rescue and recovery operations had Kerry won and withdrew American troops in the Middle East to usher in what he calls 'a smarter, more effective war on terror'? I mean, helping displaced fellow Americans from problems caused by a natural disaster would look more honorable than fighting insurgents in Fallujah – a problem arguably caused by the US itself, wouldn't it?

2. What if Louisiana took the necessary precautions, i.e. early evacuation of all residents, sufficient logistical support such as transportation, accommodation, and emergency supplies? Would there be as much social disorder (e.g. looting, violence, death) as reported?

3. What if France didn't relinquish Louisiana in the early 1800s? Would a French-built levee (which is French for lever, by the way *geek!*) stand stronger than an American one to not collapse in a Category 5 natural disaster as Katrina and skirt the displacement of millions of Americans (okay, French then) altogether?

4. What if Katrina didn't change course and hit Florida instead? Would there be as much damage, destruction, displacement, and deaths as those in Louisiana? Would oil prices be steeply pegged as nowadays (Man, I stopped checking at $4.05/gallon!)?

Ah, so many What Ifs to ponder heavily about. But for all its worth, these 'counterfactuals' (as historians call them *geek yet again!*) are, as the book suggests, 'tool(s) to enhance the understanding of history (...) reveal, in startling detail, the essential stakes (...) and potentially abiding consequences.'

Indeed.

Otherwise, Katrina (and its purpose as a big wake up call for reforms) will just be that: a big What If? --D

Sunday, September 11, 2005

True Champ 2

Timing could not have come at a better time when wearied and burdened Pinoys from the political storm in Manila witnessed Manny Pacquiao emerge as a salvation-in-flesh with his stunning triumph against Hector Velazquez in today’s boxing match in Los Angeles, California.

The match lasted only six rounds in 12 short minutes for Pacquiao to outpunch and outscore Velazquez to the delight of thousands watching in Staples Center and millions more who shelled-out 15 bucks for the pay-per-view event on TV (me, included). Too short and too intense, in fact, that I didn’t get a chance to touch the hotdog sandwich, chips, and beer I prepared for what was supposed to be a long 12-round match! Geez, now I appreciate the long commercial breaks and delayed telecast of boxing matches in Manila ;-)

Gloria Arroyo should be thankful as she probably heaves a heavy sigh of welcome relief with this spectacular win-of-a-diversion from the worst political turmoil she has embroiled herself in.

Pacquiao put a scare in the first round as he wriggled his way out of tight confrontations only to corner Velazquez in the succeeding rounds with a rally of heavy punches and precise hits, forcing the Mexican boxer down to his knees, glassy-eyed, and scatterbrained. The score was 49-46 before the referee announced a TKO win for Pacquiao.

Aside from giving Pinoys a respite from the chaos that resembles Philippine politics, Pacquiao restores lost glory and pride pilfered away by Mexican boxer Erik Morales (who, in the following match lost to US Olympian Zahir Raheem) in a controversial and grisly match earlier this year.

Well, today indeed is a triumph for all Pinoys. Time to take off the beer caps and celebrate. A big kampai to a true champ, Manny Pacquiao! --D

See related blog entry:True Champ (Posted 20 March 2005)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sound Trip

Browsing through my PC songs, I couldn’t help but wince with peeve to find folders upon folders of sentimental, slow, and love songs downloaded and saved by its brief owner – my younger sister. The PC is barely a year old and, as its new owner, I find it fitting to break it in with the kind of songs I fancy – especially the ones that spin busily in my head of late.

As I believe I’ve written in previous posts, I am keen on pop-rock-alternative type of music. But I also dig world music, having lived overseas for quite a long while. Some may say my taste is a bit eclectic, but these days, one can’t distinguish one music genre from the other (Metallica performing with the Frisco Symphony Orchestra in 1999 comes into mind) so who cares, really?

So today, I am on a downloading spree. I am using soulseek.org. Downloading isn’t as fast as I had hoped but with its ‘no spyware, no unwanted ads, no pop-ups’– or anything that might crash my new PC – guarantee, I am exercising extreme patience and keeping a positive outlook.

And everything pays off. I’ve converted 122 songs into my iTunes library so far. Here are just a few of them:

1. Green Day overload: Holiday and Wake Me Up When September Ends – just a couple of reasons why Billie Joe Armstrong and the rest of the band deservingly reaped (and swept) a slew of MTV moon men this year.

2. We Believe by Green Day and pop-punk spin-off Good Charlotte. Save for Joel Madden’s taste of a girlfriend (read: Hillary Duff), Good Charlotte has grown on me since the hit release Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous album. Besides, this song talks about peace and disses the resurgence of war (Wow! APU has rubbed a great deal on me). I dig such themes of late, which, coincidentally is portrayed in Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends’ video, too (albeit, a bit cheesy).

3. Bonnie Raitt's 90s classic I Can't Make You Love Me. Okay, this one is a bit off my musical palette but I fancied the song in the movie Duets (I actually bought the CD, to be really upfront about it) in 2000. But, I rekindled my fondness of this song after some hot chick (pardon the sexist label) sang it in VH1's Rockstar: INXS reality show.

4. Luciano Pavarotti's Nessun Dorma. I am not really a big fan of opera and theater, but this song (from Puccini's Turandot) struck my fancy after hearing it over and over in several contemporary and commercial films (the type that spends a great deal of moolah on production that it couldn’t afford any of Danny Elfman’s or John William’s original compositions); The Sum of All Fears, The Killing Fields and Bend It Like Beckham just to name a few. Turns out, Turandot is equally interesting a story to read. I’m buying the novel soon (but that's for another blog entry altogether).

5. Dave Matthew’s Dreamgirl. I didn’t know Dave Matthew’s released a new album until I caught Julia Roberts and her ridiculously-masked stalker in the band’s latest video on MTV the other day. Good choice, Dave!

6. And then there was Lifehouse. Of course, You and Me was on top of my list given its current popularity in the charts but I also downloaded Breathin’, Simon, Take Me Away, and my Karaoke fave, Sick Cycle Carousel from previous albums. What can I say? I am a fan. Incidentally, Jason Wade and the rest of the band is set to perform here in Hawaii next month; Can’t wait for that one, really.

The list is long, I tell you. I’d better dust my earphones; this is one sound tripping I’ll have to sit a long while through. --D

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Leaving Japan

The plane taxis its way from the tarmac to the long concrete runway. It's almost 2 pm. G and I are on board Korean Air flight 721 bound for Incheon, South Korea. Final destination: Honolulu, Hawaii.

The thought of sun, sand, sea, and Matsumoto's famous shave ice escapes my consciousness as the plane’s tires speed away for take-off. I poke G away from her tired, sleepy self and point her attention outside the window. There isn't anything much to see but a long row of steel and concrete that makes up Kansai International Airport; Nothing much except catching the fleeting moment of finally leaving and bottling three years of life spent in Japan.

As the plane wades its way through the afternoon clouds, I couldn't help but feel sentimental and sad. Japan has become a second home. It wasn't love at first sight – in fact, sushi and haikus are still alien to me, but Japan (and all its eccentricities) eventually grew and rubbed on me as days turned to months and months to years. I have imbibed a great deal of Japanese-ness that my heart bleeds to leave. I crack a smile then frown at the thought of living a life without the ubiquitous karaoke, ramen noodles and miso soups, shallow and searing onsen baths, the osteoporosis-ridden obachans, high school girls in skimpy skirts outside combinis, and the ingenious toilet seats.

Wow! I'm going to miss a lot. And I haven't even fully thought of the friends I left behind.

My stream of thoughts is interrupted by the stewardess' voice. What drink do I prefer? she asks and I promptly say soda and water with a friendly hello on the side. I would have thanked for the distraction away from thoughts about Japan but as I drink my cup of Coke, I stop and smile: I just had a conversation in nihongo. --D

See related blog entry: Missing Japan (Posted 31 March 2005)