Archive for May, 2010

Nostalgia Attack….

Posted in Introspection, Random, Uncategorized on May 23, 2010 by otakujade

A couple of days ago hubby started downloading an indie film he seemed so excited to watch; he started falling in love with Filipino indie films a few months ago, like me, he rarely watches any Filipino movies but when we discovered Filipino indie films we became hooked. So when he started his download I was not surprised. What actually surprised me though was after the download was done, I found out that it was a movie done in honor of Teddy Diaz and what about the New Wave band – The Dawn. The movie was titled “Tulad ng Dati” and its an opener for a lot of The Dawn fan like me.

Its hard to find a life partner that you absolutely jive with but (modesty aside) this is what hubby and I have. True, we do have our differences but those are mostly minor ones and nothing we cannot either tolerate or work around. As for our interests – they’re mostly the same. And one of those similarities is music…yes, I still don’t like his loud music and he still finds pop and hiphop music repulsive but most of the time we like the same thing. The same is true with the band The Dawn.

The Dawn was and is probably one of the most influential band of the New Wave era, their songs still spark the same craze from the audience as they did 20 years ago. I don’t know if the new generation of mainstream listeners know them but among rock, alternative and new wave listeners, The Dawn still carry the magic that they had at their prime.

The Dawn is probably the most resilient band there is – having lost their founder and anchor Teddy Diaz at the peak of their fame. Teddy was and is probably the best Filipino guitarist there is…and all that talent was wasted when he was stabbed and killed in front of his girlfriends house in 1988.

Here’s some of their most memorable songs….songs our generation will never forget.

Teddy Diaz at his best…

The Alchemist….Paolo Coelho

Posted in Books, Introspection, Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 by otakujade

For more than a week now I’ve been reading a very unusual book.  The book is called “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho, it is unusual (to me at least) in that in as much as it revolves around the story of a simple shepherd boy it is not a book one should read lightly or straight through.  The book requires contemplative reading; it requires that one should stop at certain points and just consider the message of the book and how it applies to their lives.

The book revolves around the story of a shepherd boy who had a dream about a great treasure. On the next village he came to he met a gypsy who told him that she would tell him the meaning of his dream if he agreed to give her 10% of the fortune he would find. On that village he also met an old king who told him how to find his treasure. And so the boy set off unto a journey to retrieve his treasure and along the way met an alchemist who guided him on his path; teaching him the way of the desert, the Language of the World and the path to the Soul of the World.

The book is also very symbolic in that it utilizes many symbols which the reader can easily overlook if he does not take the time to really seek out the meaning of the symbolisms presented. I can now understand why many critics consider this book a real treasure, a classic right up to the level of the Little Prince.

The book talks of faith, of perseverance, or believing in one’s self and learning to listen to the deepest whispers of your heart; for we are all born with a pure heart and that heart continually tell us where our destiny or path should lead us. It tells us who, what and where we are destined to be as God’s creatures but along the way the busy, insistent and noisy world drowns out the gentle murmurings of our heart that we begin to fail to hear the direction it is giving us.

The book encourages us to stop and really listen to what our heart is telling us – in the book the author calls this the Language of the World, the Soul of the World. When we stop long enough to listen we will find “omens” – signs that tell us where to go and what to do if only we are able to recognize these omens.

Along the way, the path may lead us towards a fork in the road, it may even throw distractions along the path to your destiny but one has to persevere towards your dream.

In the book the boy meets an alchemist, who orients him about the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life but unlike most books that talk about them in a material way; this book discusses the physical aspects of the two very common myths and yet it also gives us a deeper aspect of those two mythical things.  It is said that these two famously mythical objects are a product of the Master Work – the purification of any metal at constant heat for many years. The Master Work is split into two things: the solid part of the Master Work is called the Philosopher’s Stone which can turn any metal into gold; and the liquid part of the Master Work is the Elixir of Life which is the key to immortality.

As these two objects are explained, so too it is given a deeper meaning. The Elixir of Life tells us about faith and understanding – it is the ability of man to adjust, to adapt to all things and learn all things in the universe so that he may achieve a unity with the world and understand/speak the Language of the World.  To be able to understand the things and events around us without words is to be one with the universe; this sets that man apart from others and thus renders him in a sense immortal. For whoever understands the underlying message of the things around us allows that man to stay away from things that might hurt him.

The Philosopher’s Stone – the solid part of the Master Work – is the ability of man, his imbued skill to prosper in all that he does; it is man’s ability to turn all his efforts and endeavors into successes by perceiving and continually working towards the achievement of that dream no matter what the challenges and consequences may be.

When we are young our heart whisper to us our deepest desires, and if you would excuse the term – our fate. But as we grow older and think ourselves wiser we begin to lose that communication with our heart and so we exchange logic and immediate reward to that which we were destined for. And so some of us end up rich but unhappy; and even worst many end up poor and unhappy. But there are those few, who persevere and kept their sights upon the price so that when the time is right they are able to find what they truly desire.

I have always dreamed about being a well-learned, well respected professor; I wanted to achieve the dream of gaining my PhD. someone who’s opinion matter, someone who has the last word on important topics but life seemed to conspire against me. When I told my father I planned to further my study he just sneered at me. Then I got married, had kids and got separated. I really thought I would not be able to get back on that path once again. That PhD is just a dream I could never have.  And somewhere along the way, fate threw me another line to hold on to. It showed me again the path I have to follow to get to where I want to be; it is very seldom that we are given a second chance I must have done something really pleasing to God for Him to give me another chance.  And so I am back on my track, but whether I am able to achieve that dream will be up to me; all I have to do is keep working towards that dream.

Many of us find ourselves in jobs that we hate, we find ourselves in a life we don’t really like or a situation we would rather not be, but that’s because we failed to keep our eyes on the target. It is time for us to re-focus our vision and think about where we really want to be or what we really want to do – what is our heart’s desire, only then can we achieve real happiness. For a determined person the universe would conspire to help that person achieve his/her dream.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Series Analysis

Posted in Books, Movies, Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 by otakujade

I first got interested with the books after watching the movie, that seemed to happen to me quite often. The very same thing happened to me with Harry Potter and up to this day I am an avid Harry Potter fan. Actually, it happened with the Twilight Saga for me as well but as it turned out I hated the books.  🙂

I am a strong believer that however good the movie was..the books were always, ALWAYS better.

So back to Percy Jackson…The series actually contains 5 very interesting and well adapted books:

Many people like to compare this book to Harry Potter in terms of popularity, but I cannot understand why they have to do that. Why can’t another series just have a record of its own? Why can’t readers just enjoy both books?  I must admit that the Percy Jackson series is no where as successful as Harry Potter, but HP was the first and there’s always an advantage in being the very first series of books to capture the attention of the readers after so many years.

I just want to treat the two series separately as they tackle two very separate series….Percy Jackson is not Harry Potter people – 1st because they deal in two very different worlds. Percy deals with mythology whereas Harry deals with magic.  Yes, the both have mythological creatures and both have magical features but Harry is a wizard so he has powers; Percy is a demigod…he must have powers. Comparing the two series in terms of characters and creatures is like taking Nicholas Flamel to battle with Hercules for crying out loud.

I thoroughly enjoyed Percy Jackson because I treated it as it is…a wonderful series about mythology. I mean, when was the last time you found something like this? I must admit that it was not as original and well-thought off as the magical world of wizards and muggles as Harry Potter but it does have it’s own special charisma.

The premise is that Olympus, the gods and goddesses and all mythology moves with the Western civilization. I love the humor and light-heartedness of the series and the action packed adventure that Percy and his friends had to go through.  I also loved the twists and turns in the story…like HP there was a prophesy. But unlike, HP the entire story revolves around his prophesy; and unlike HP also the one to whom the prophesy referred to was not to be the savior of the world but rather could easily become the reason for the end of Olympus. Whereas in HP Voldermort made the decision to focus the prophesy on Harry; in this series Percy made the voluntary decision to own the prophesy.

I also love the obvious intensive mythological research that the author, Rick Riordan, put into the books. I mean, I have always love mythology and would easily claim that I know my mythological personages and monsters but Riordan brought into the open certain monsters and characters I do not even know about and I love that. True, Riordan cannot claim ownership on the mythology but he can surely stake a claim on the concept.

The books are light, adventure filled and very humorous as certain points. Taken from the point of view of the main character, Percy Jackson it is a choppy and attitude filled narration of what is happening and how the character sees things.

I love the funny and brilliant ways that the author played with the mythological characters – how he “updated” the gods and monsters for the 21st century. Ares is a cross between a Hell’s Angel and a professional wrestler, a math teacher is a harpy in disguise, and demigods can communicate by IMing — Iris Messaging- hehehe! (you’ll have to read it to get the details on that one) It’s also fun to see how Riordan tried to explain many mythological happens and how we mortals do not know and perceive the things happening around us because of the Mist – a sort of veil that hides from mortal eyes the world of gods, goddesses and monsters.

It is also noteworthy to mention that as far as mythology is concerned Riordan kept true to form. He didn’t try to make the readers love the gods by presenting them as good or worthy of worship but rather he kept true to the principles of classical Greek mythology.  Each of the 5 books are heavily reliant on Greek mythology but if you look closely you’ll see that each one is based on a central plot on one of the most popular Greek myths – The Lightning Thief was a take from the adventures of Odysseus from the Odyssey; The Sea of Monsters was a taken or based from the adventures of the Jason and the Argonauts and a bit more of the Odyssey; The Titan’s Curse calls into mind the Labors of Hercules; The Battle of the Labyrinth takes you back into the stories of Theseus and Daedalus; and The Last Olympian takes from the earliest part of Greek mythology which deals with the battle of the Olympians versus the Titans.

I would recommend this to those people who’re looking for another good series to follow after Harry Potter; it may not be a dark or compelling as Harry Potter it is a very good series worthy of attention and appreciation. Just give it a chance.

Update from Wikipedia

A sequel, also based on the Camp Half-Blood and Greek mythology universe, is planned for the Percy Jackson series. Rick Riordan has confirmed that he is writing the series, and as of November 2009, the first book is slated for release on October 12, 2010. Riordan also wrote at the end of The Last Olympian, “As the first Camp Half-blood series draws to a close…” This hints there will be another series.Riordan has stated that characters from the original series will return but will not be the main characters. Also like the first series, there will be five books. Riordan has also stated that the time between the two occurrences of great prophecies is not as long as Apollo assumes it will be. The series name is The Heroes of Olympus and the first book is The Lost Hero.

At the Polling Site….a documentary.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 by otakujade

It’s become a sort of tradition within our family to vote early. The practice was started by my father and it hasn’t changed over the years. We’re used to being at the polling precinct at 7:00 am when the voting starts.  And so we once again arrived early at the polling precinct today.

We got there at around 7:15 am and already the school was full of people. As we have been informed earlier, the precincts were clustered together in sets of 3, 5s and even 6s, it was a good thing that we knew our precinct number which hasn’t changed in about 10 years and so we were able to immediately find where we should head to.

Remember people, this was at 7:15 in the morning and the line in our precinct was already about 50 meters!

So we waited in line for about 2 hours before we got our chance to finally vote. Only 10 voters at a time were allowed inside the precinct – that’s 8 regular voters and 2 senior citizens. It was a good thing too that they decided to do that because with the length of time we had to wait in line and the heat of the sun beating down on us, I shudder to imagine what it would have done the senior citizens who would have probably collapsed from heat stroke or hypertension.

The voting procedure itself was quite convenient for me. I experienced no trouble finding my name on the list, the lady who was checking my registration even greeted me nicely because she recognized us from the last election we had. So after I was processed I went straight to a seat on the corner and started shading. When I was through, they ushered me to the PCOS machine where I slid my ballot and waited for the machine to verify my votes, count my votes and congratulate me! hehehe! Then they put indelible ink on my index finger and I was through. The entire process took about 15 minutes all in all….what a contrast to the 2 hours I waited in line to vote!

Now, I’m just monitoring the news on TV and waiting to see what happens next. I mean will they be able to give a partial result by tonight?????

PS: This just in the COMELEC just announced that they are extending the voting hours until 7:00pm!!!

A few pictures I took while at the elementary school where my family votes.

The usual scene  over head during Election periods…only in the Philippines! hehehe!

The usual clutter and scene just outside the school.

Going inside…..

The Voting Assistance Center of the COMELEC….still trying to set things in order at 7:15 am

People trying to find their precincts, cluster and their names…remember, 2 elections where you don’t vote and your name gets cancelled you have to register again. So, please make sure you make it an obligation to vote!

Waiting in line to get inside the precinct….with the sun on your head at 28 degree Celsius…this is at 8:00 am people!

Election 2010

Posted in Politics on May 8, 2010 by otakujade

Just two days before the election and things still look fuzzy for most of us. Today is the last day of campaign for those running for public positions, and the start of the liquor ban.  To me this is just overwhelming, just two days and I still can’t decide who to vote for. By this time next Tuesday, we’ll have a new president, a brand new set of senators, congressmen, councilors, mayors and vice-mayors…etc.

This is also an election wrapped in doubt (well, that’s nothing new) and apprehensions.  Everyone is apprehensive about the Electronic voting system. We have 9 people running for the presidential position and at this point everyone has their own prediction on who will in. Honestly, right it’s still anybody’s ball game.

We have –

an achiever

a “perceived” savior

a businessman/real estate tycoon

a former president

an evangelist

a naturalist

a real people mover

a civic leader…and

a woman/former senator

– Right now one group is predicting that the son of the former president/freedom icon and former senator/national hero would be a shoo in for the position. They’re saying that trouble will erupt if he doesn’t win because then it would mean that the government cheated.

But what if the administration bet doesn’t win, and Mr. Savior doesn’t also…what then? Does that mean the winning candidate cheated too. This is the only country I know where no candidate ever loses, because they didn’t win then they were a victim of cheating…sheesh! People grow up!

Here’s a piece of unsolicited advice to all my Filipino friends, who still read my blogs – when you go to the polling area on Monday morning please keep this in mind…“that whoever wins this election, we are getting the public officials we deserve.” So please..PLEASE, think before you put in your votes. Whatever happens from this point on we will have to live with for the next 6 years with repercussions that may last for years and years to come. When you vote, before you leave the house please take a minute or two to look at a small child and tell yourself that your decision now will definitely affect that child’s future.

Iron Man 2

Posted in Movies, Uncategorized on May 4, 2010 by otakujade

Summary:

The film began 6 months from where the 1st movie ended, Tony Stark had announced to the entire world that he is indeed Iron Man and now the US government, Senator Stern in particular, demands that he turn over the suit to the military. Tony Stark had used the suit as a nuclear deterrent and as a means of maintaining world peace. And now the US government wants it. The government claims the suit or the design for the suit may be copied and this will create massive destruction in the wrong hands. Stark refuses, publicly shaming rival Justin Hammer in demonstrating how rival states and groups are at least five years away from successfully recreating the technology. He declares that the suit and the man are one and he cannot give the Iron Man to the military as he cannot give himself to them…(with a bit of innuendo on the gay side).

All is not well in Stark’s life: he has discovered that the palladium in the arc reactor keeping his heart beating has begun to leak into his body and is poisoning him, raising his blood toxicity levels and slowly killing him. All attempts to find a substitute element have failed. Slowly going off the rails as a consequence of what he believes to be his impending death, he becomes more unpredictable and wild bothering on suicidal. Stark Corp was in shambles, until Tony appoints his former personal assistant Pepper Potts CEO of Stark Industries, replacing her with Natalie Rushman (who is actually an undercover agent for S.H.I.E.D. – codename: BLACK WIDOW)

On one of his “unpredictable” bratty moments, Tony decided to drive his team’s Formula 1 during a race in Monaco. In the middle of the race, he was attacked by Ivan Vanko, wielding a pair of electrified whips that are powered by an ARC reactor of his own.  Defeating Vanko with the aid of his Mark V armor (a transforming briefcase), Stark discovers that Vanko is the son of disgraced Russian physicist Anton Vanko, who collaborated on the first ARC reactor with Stark’s father. Anton had wanted to use the arc to earn money, and so Howard had him deported back to Russia, where he subsequently died and passed on the technology to his son, who swore revenge against the Stark family.

Vanko is promptly broken out of jail by a revenge-seeking Justin Hammer, who puts him to work fashioning a line of “Hammer battle suits” that he will use to upstage Stark at his own Expo, as well as fulfilling his military contracts. Vanko decides to transform these battle suits into “Hammer drones”, replacing the helmet assemblies with drone heads.

With the government coming down on him even harder, Stark throws what he believes will be his last birthday party and proceeds to get drunk whilst wearing the Mark IV Iron Man armor, becoming a danger to himself and others. His friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes is forced to wear the Mark II armor and subdue him, after which he confiscates the armor for the military. The disgraced Stark is approached by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D, who reveals Natalie to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Natasha Romanoff, assigned to keep an eye on Stark. Fury also reveals that Howard Stark was a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and provides Stark with a chest of his father’s old artifacts that can hopefully be used to find a cure for his palladium poisoning, thus completing his father’s unfinished work on ARC technology. Reviewing the film reels in the chest, Stark discovers a message from his father that leads him to the original 1974 diorama of the Stark Expo: in reality, a disguised diagram for the atomic structure of a new element. Stark hand-builds a particle accelerator with the aid of his computer J.A.R.V.I.S. (voiced by Paul Bettany – YAY!) and synthesizes this new element. The newly synthesized element is then loaded into a modified arc reactor chest piece, and cures Stark’s palladium poisoning. Vanko then calls Stark and taunts him, revealing that he is still set on revenge and plans to assault the Stark Expo.

At Stark Expo, Hammer unveils his new military drones, captained by Rhodes in a heavily-weaponized version of the confiscated Mark II armor, now referred to as the Variable Threat Response Battle-suit. Stark arrives at the expo in his new Mark VI armor, attempting to warn Rhodes, but Vanko takes complete control of both the drones and Rhodes’s new armor and attacks Iron Man. As Stark battles against these remote-controlled enemies, Happy Hogan and Natalie race to Hammer’s Queens facility to stop Vanko. By the time they arrive, Vanko has already departed for the Expo in a new, more powerful suit of armor, but Natalie is able to hack through Vanko’s control terminal and gives Rhodes control of his armor again so that he and Stark can fight the drones and Vanko together. The two armored allies draw the drones away from populated areas and into the Japanese garden within the Stark Expo grounds, and together defeat the Hammer drones.

They then confront Vanko, who has developed a powerful suit of armor for himself based on a Hammer battle suit but incorporating scaled-up plasma whips that he used against Stark earlier. After a short but intense battle, Vanko is defeated. A slowly dying Vanko cynically chuckles ‘You lose’ and a ticking sound is heard. His armor and drones are revealed to have had their ARC reactors rigged for a self-destruct sequence. As they begin to go off, Stark races to save Pepper, rescuing her at the last minute. After landing on a roof she quits her CEO position, and the two finally kiss. Rhodes leaves with the War Machine armor despite Stark’s objection, determined to keep the armor for national security purposes.

At a debriefing, Fury informs Stark that while Stark is “unsuitable” for the “Avengers Initiative”, S.H.I.E.L.D. wants Iron Man as a consultant. He agrees on the condition that Senator Stern be chosen to present him and Rhodes with their medals for bravery from the U.S. government.

Post Credits Scene:

S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson is seen driving to a remote impact crater in the New Mexico desert. He then informs Fury over the phone that they’ve “found it” as the camera zooms to Thor’s hammer.

REVIEW

Rotten Tomato gave this movie a 76% fresh rating..which was quite high considering how critical most of their raters are when it comes to sequels. So we went to the theater with high expectations, and we were not disappointed! The movie was really good if not great but it was wayyyy better than how sequeals usually turn out. Very few movies could claim to have a very good series, or one that would continue to rake in money but Iron Man looks to be going in that direction. Kudos to all the people behind the film!

In this 2nd film we saw a lot of more of Tony Starks bratty-side. He was rich, handsome and a genius – and he knows it! He flaunts it! 😀 Then as the film progress we are confronted with the fact that Tony was in truth getting reckless and suicidal because he thought he was dying. As the story moves along we see Tony constantly checking his blood toxicity, and as the level of it increases so does his desperation. It was he was trying to capsulate everything in what time he has left, thankfully, Nick Fury came into the picture and helped out.

Well, there was really nothing to delve into deeper into the film – it was pretty straight forward even grade school kids could understand it with a bit of guidance into the background of the character that is. The film was action packed and brilliantly made.

I loved Scarlet Johanneson on this film, I mean I do like her a lot in her other films but she was awesome on this one.  I guess one of the things that made this so wonderful for me was that her role was so unexpected and that she really delivered on her role. That girl could kick some butt! And look sexy doing it! A real femme fatale.

War Machine was awesome in this film as well. The suit was awesome but I was a bit surprised when I saw that they changed the actor playing the role. But the guy playing Rhodes was great I mean, he really delivered the role well.

My kids were, well, they were used to us talking about Marvel, DC, anime, games and all those sorts of stuff sothe movie was a little easier for them to understand.  One of the highlights of this activity with the kids for me was when, in the middle of the film, my youngest Eugene leaned towards me and asked “Ma, I haven’t seen Stan Lee yet, have you?” 😀 They have started to hunt for Stan Lee’s cameo on Marvel films!

I guess the only downside of this experience for me was the fact that the cinemas really squeezed out a lot of money from this movie. I am not sure if its only in the Philippines because  I tried to searched the net for any other country who did  the same and couldn’t find any.  But here, the cinemas have two types of screening; 1 – they called it regular screening; and 2 – on 2D. Now, I asked the lady at the booth what they meant by 2D since the movie is actually in 2D only. But I was informed that the 2D version was a clearer version with crystal clear sound and the visual was cleaner. I raised an eyebrow at this. So it was like, the Regular was ordinary DVD copy and the 2D is synonimous with Blu-Ray. What the heck?!

Thinking, the regular would be sort of decent like most movies we opted for the regular and my! was that a mistake! It was clear enough but there were scenes where the faces of the people on the background were blurred and certain parts were the sound was a bit softer than in other parts. I mean it was watchable and okay but this is the first time I’ve ever seen that done here. It was like the Regular one was the last editing before the final edit..if you get what I’m saying.

Now if you watch the movie, like we did, at SM North EDSA – you pay Php 161.00 ($ 3.58) for cinemas at the main mall; Php 171.00 ($ 3.80) if you want to see it at the cinemas at The Block (the theaters are the same as in the main mall only of course you’re watching it at the upscale part of the mall); and Php 201.00 ($ 4.58) if you watch it on 2D.

What a rip off!