Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Prime time picks

Every time CSI is on (Vegas, Miami or New York), we are obliged to remind our parents to tune in and watch. It’s the one (well, three, actually) TV show that everyone in the family likes, although we differ in opinion about the characters and story lines. The only constant is that we all agree Vegas is the best show overall, and Grissom’s team is the most competent and loveable. Last night when my mom asked me and my sister who among the CSI women we find most attractive, we gave three different answers: my mom said Detective Salas (Sofia Milos) from Miami, I picked Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) from Vegas, my sister went with Caleigh (Emily Procter) from Miami. My mom’s question got me thinking about my personal favorites from the three CSIs, so I came up with this list:

  • Sharpest CSI: Grissom (William Petersen) from Vegas
  • Favorite CSI guy: Greg (Eric Szmanda) from Vegas
  • Favorite CSI girl: Caleigh (Emily Procter) from Miami
  • Favorite CSI bad boy: Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) from New York
  • Best CSI tag team: Nick and ‘Rick (George Eads and Gary Dourdan) from Vegas
  • Best dressed, female: Detective Salas (Sofia Milos) from Miami
  • Best dressed, male: Detective Flack (Eddie Cahill) from New York
  • Cutest CSI lab tech: Archie (Archie Kao) from Vegas
  • Coolest CSI coroner: Dr. Hawkes (Harper Hill) from New York
  • Most versatile CSI team leader: Horatio (David Caruso) from Miami (explanation: he’s not as smart as Grissom the scientist, or as gritty as Mac the detective, but he is more human than both, and I appreciate that)

Moving on to a different TV show, last night I watched House for the first time (it airs Tuesdays at 10PM on AXN), and I think I may have found a new TV addiction. It’s sort of like Monk meets Chicago Hope (one of my all-time favorite shows, by the way), blending wry, neurotic humor with tense medical drama with a dash of mystery. Hugh Laurie is hilarious as the bad-tempered but brilliant eponymous doctor, who delivers diagnoses with Sherlock Holmes precision and Simon Cowell tenderness. He spews his scathing put-downs at such a machine-gun rate that every time he opened his mouth I was straining to catch every single sarcastic word. From just one episode, I now understand why Laurie was nominated for an Emmy this year. I now have something else aside from CSI: New York to keep me entertained Tuesday nights.

Wednesday is also a good TV night. Aside from CSI: Miami, I watch Rock Star INXS on Star World. I didn’t catch the first few episodes because I hadn’t been interested until I heard my sister raving about MiG Ayesa, the Filipino contender from Australia. After seeing him and his fellow contestants take the stage (eclipsing most American Idol finalists with their talent and showmanship), I was hooked. The song selection is fantastic, ranging from classic rock songs to contemporary pop hits, and it’s great fun to sing/scream along while watching the performances. I even voted for MiG today through SMS (yeah, power to the Pinoy!). The only things that bug me about this show is how Brooke Burke delivers her spiels in a deadly dull monotone (when she pronounces “INXS” as “in-ekshess” it sets my teeth on edge), and how Dave Navarro looks just like Satan (give him horns, a tail and a pitchfork and he’s all set).

Monday, August 29, 2005

Shutterbug turns seventeen

In honor of birthday girl Rachel, photographer extraordinaire, this blog post will be a montage of pix I took at her surprise party tonight. Here's to you, Rach! :)
* * *
Ms. Lim and Ms. Lim
The celebrant gracing our table
The brains behind the bash: Lacoste lady Kyla
Openness girls are SO camera shy...
I've got Joy in my heart!
More camera shy Openness girls...
Have your cake and eat it too!
Shobe Dork and Atsi Dork
At least tonight, these two are not stressed

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Make up your mind, woman!

Picking up from my last post: GMA is inconsiderate, incompetent, and also indecisive. This morning it was announced that tomorrow will be a non-working holiday for government offices only. It seems the private sector complained about wasting a perfectly productive day so our beloved President changed her tune a third time. If this is to be taken as a show of her decision-making skills, then I truly pity our country for having such a fickle and erratic leader.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Treadmill tales and pains in the neck

Treadmill tale #1: My mom, my friend Maddy and I shared a good laugh late last night over a boo-boo I committed. Maddy had just called me as I was going to start my nightly routine of walking/running on the treadmill. I was using our cordless phone so I told her I would just continue talking to her while I exercised. But when I got on the treadmill and switched in on, it wouldn't start. I whined to Maddy that our treadmill was busted. I kept on trying to turn it on but it wouldn't respond, so I gave it up for dead and just continued chatting with Mads. A few minutes later my mom walked in, saw me in my exercise gear and asked me why I wasn't running, so I told her the treadmill was broken. She took a look at the machine and it was then she discovered her genius of a daughter HAD NOT PLUGGED IT IN. We started laughing at my stupidity and when I told Maddy she cracked up too. She half-jokingly said she'd write about it in her blog, but I told her I'd probably beat her to it, and now I have. :p

Pain in the neck #1: This morning my brother woke me up at 7 complaining of a stiff neck (for me, 7AM on a Saturday is an unholy hour, so I admit I wasn't feeling completely sympathetic to my brother's pain). He had an exam at 9AM but he couldn't move his right arm, so I advised him to go the hospital to get a doctor's note to show his prof so that he could get a make-up test. I went back to sleep around 8 and woke up at noon to find my brother back, and it turned out he had taken the exam after all, after drinking some painkillers the ER doctor gave him. By this afternoon he was already surfing the Net (using his right arm to move the mouse) and doing practice golf swings (using his right arm and twisting his supposedly stiff neck), so apparently he hadn't been in that much pain this morning, and he yanked me out of bed for nothing. Men have such low thresholds of pain, it's pathetic. They should get menstrual cramps every month to know what real pain is.

Treadmill tale #2: I watched the Ateneo-UE game today while running on the treadmill (which was plugged in and functioning perfectly). It was an awesome game because one, obviously, we won, and two, our boys actually played well. They weren't spectacular, yes, but they certainly didn't stink either. Usually when I watch them play, at some point in the game they give me reason to slap my forehead and groan, by messing up a huge lead or committing moronic errors. Today they played like they knew what they were doing, and they had the game under control. I don't know if it's thanks to Norman Black's coaching, but our boys are looking pretty good on the hardcourt. Even my dad acknowledged that Ateneo's second stringers have improved tremendously. Japeth Aguilar in particular is showing great potential, and I can now actually say "Japeth" without snickering. :p The game gave me such an adrenaline rush that I was running on the treadmill faster than I usually do, especially during fastbreaks and when we sank three-pointers. Imagine what kind of high I'd be on if we beat La Salle on September 15. :)

Pain in the neck #2: Tonight I found out from my students (who of course were all rejoicing) that Monday has been declared a non-working holiday, which at first I refused to believe. After all, this morning's newspapers said that Malacanang had announced that Monday would be a regular working day since National Heroes' Day should, under the law, fall on the last Sunday of August, so it has no bearing on the following Monday. But then our wonderful President, who, it appears, has no regard for the law, suddenly changed her mind and announced this evening that Monday will be a holiday. Ordinarily, I'd be celebrating this news like my students, but now that I'm working for our family business, I am livid with fury. This means there will be no deliveries, no bank transactions, and no communication with our foreign suppliers. No wonder our economy is so fantastically screwed up! What kind of brilliant economist makes all business come to a standstill for one whole day for no good reason other than to boost her approval ratings? She's so concerned about saving her own ass that she doesn't give a damn that employers lose money, employees lose a day's wages, and students are deprived of a day's worth of education which their parents have already paid for (although I'm sure the students don't see it that way). So even though I will enjoy sleeping in on Monday, I still say GMA is inconsiderate and incompetent, and I sincerely hope her inconsiderate and incompetent butt gets impeached.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


There's a Friends episode where Joey gets a job at a department store pushing the fragrance Bijan for Men. He goes head-on with a guy dressed as a cowboy promoting the cologne Hombre, who steals his customers with magnetic manly appeal and the sexy, throaty offer of "Hombre?" The two end up racing to spritz passers-by with their products, and unfortunate shoppers get caught in the crossfire.

I always remember this episode when I go to department stores and walk past the perfume section. I try to slip through as quickly as I can so as to dodge the people offering me a free spritz or a sample sniff strip. It's awkward turning down so many people in a row, especially when they're all smiling doofily and chirping "CK Eternity?" or "Clinique Happy?" and you know they've been smiling and chirping all day and are probably sick of the routine (not to mention the smell of their frangrances). I just feel sorry for them, the same way I feel sorry for elevator operators and people handing out leaflets on the street. Rustan's is the worst, because they have the smiliest and chirpiest bunch of perfume pushers, so as soon as the automatic doors to the store slide open, I brace myself, charge in, and find the path of least resistance. Sometimes though, even when I prudently avoid them, they still manage to zero in on me and cheerfully offer me Burberry or Lacoste or whatever brand they're armed with (there are even an overeager few who try to get me to sample men's cologne). Once trapped and held at spritzer-point, the usual thing I resort to is an apologetic smile and a wave of my hand to indicate "thanks but no thanks." Occasionally, out of guilt, I take a sniff strip which I promptly chuck in the next wastebin I see.

I'm just glad that when I go on store visits to other department stores, I don't have to pass through the perfume section to get to men's wear-- it's just too exhausting. Besides, none of the perfume pushers look remotely like Joey or the Hombre guy. If they did, I'd gladly stop to take a whiff of whatever they're selling.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Must love Must Love Dogs

My friend Angge and my cousin Joy both adore John Cusack, so they wanted to see Must Love Dogs together (their plans to watch Serendipity together a few years back had been thwarted, so they were determined to make up for it). My sister and I tagged along because we both like Diane Lane, and we don’t dislike John Cusack. Besides, I missed the company of two of my favorite people in the world and wanted an excuse to get together with them (and that, my dear girls, is enough reason to celebrate ;p).

For fear of incurring Angge and Joy’s wrath (every time John Cusack did something cute or said something smart the two would “awww” and squeal in chorus), I will not attempt to tear into the movie and rip it apart with my usual brand of nitpicking and criticism. Anyway, there’s really no point in overanalyzing a romantic comedy, is there? *pause followed by hysterical laughter*

As I was saying, because I love Angge and Joy so much, I will not mention the flaws of Must Love Dogs, and instead just point out some things that made it worth watching:

  1. Diane Lane: In rom coms, she comes off as a mature Julia Roberts... with class. There's an elegant charm about her that's refreshingly different from the simpering saccharine of other actresses (see Under the Tuscan Sun for verification).
  2. Diane Lane's wardrobe, including the lovely black bag she was carrying in one scene: I want that bag!
  3. the great supporting cast, including Elizabeth Perkins, Stockard Channing, and even the dogs: There was great chemistry among the actors, especially the people who played Diane Lane's supportive, almost picture-perfect family (it was easy to forgive them for being so damn picture-perfect).
  4. Christopher Plummer: Decades later, Captain Von Trapp is still as dashing and dapper as ever (and I much prefer listening to him recite Yeats than hearing him warble "Edelwiess").

And for all my anti-sentimental drivel cynicism, you really can't go wrong watching a feel-good movie with feel-good friends (and family). :)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

What a steal!

Yesterday I bought 2 pairs of really nice flip-flops at the Greenhills tiangge, one pair for P150 (brown Havaiana dead ringers but without the brand on the strap, which I find tacky anyway), and another pair for P140 (blue imitations of Nike flip-flops I've been lusting after since June). The genuine articles would have set me back more than a thousand bucks a pair, so I was practically cackling with glee as I purchased the knock-offs.

Also, I almost bought an export-overrun American Eagle warm-up jacket, a bargain at P500, but I balked and decided to just go back in a week to see if the price would have gone down to P450 or even P400. Yep, I am a cheap bastard.

Buying fake branded goods makes me a tad guilty, seeing as how my own family is in retail, and we'd have a problem if people started selling counterfeit products of our brands. In fact, we've already found fake Arrow shirts in several tiangges (one of my students was thoughtful enough to tip me off once about a certain stall in Greenhills-- thanks, Franke!). We aren't rejoicing over it, and it riles me that others are profiting illegally from our brand, but we have to be realistic: there's not much we can do about it (you don't see Abercrombie & Fitch or Von Dutch going on tiangge raid rampages, do you?). Besides, my dad reasons out, it's a compliment to be copied, because it means that Arrow has become worth imitating. :p

So I don't know if buying fake stuff from tiangges makes me a hypocrite, but I do know it sure makes me a very happy shopper... with 2 new pairs of cute flip-flops that look like a thousand bucks.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Moderator musings

I never liked being a club moderator. Yet when I look back on my 2 years handling Culture Shack, it seems like I was the happiest miserable moderator in ICA. Our monthly activities were fun, our bulletin board was regularly updated, our members were (mostly) productive, and we had great officers who were responsible and reliable and made my job a breeze (heck, they were so efficient, they almost made me expendable). So whenever I complained out loud about my moderator duties, at the same time a voice in my head would be pointing out that I was a moron to be grousing about one of the easiest and best things I've ever done.

Last night I had dinner and coffee/tea with my second batch of Culture Shack officers: Jen, Camille (I can't seem to call her Gotams), Tasha and Barbs (Pepi, Ando and Irizze weren't able to make it, but I fully intend to call for another CS reunion and have everyone present). It was so much fun hanging out with them and not have to talk about club matters. To think none of these 4 were ever my students, yet I feel so comfortable with them, as if we've been through a lot together... and with everything we did for the club, I suppose we have. Goes to show that my Culture Shack experience was much more rewarding than I ever let on.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Fully booked

It’s official. My Palm Tungsten T5 has gone off to PDA heaven (or hell, if we’re to base its fate on its owner). After a 4-day coma, it was pronounced dead and is now on its way to the Palm headquarters in Singapore for an autopsy. Though I mourn its demise, I’m excited to get the brand new replacement unit next week. I don’t like being overly dependent on technology, but I’ve gotten used to having a PDA handy to remind forgetful little me of my daily to-dos and to help organize my increasingly packed schedule.

Speaking of which, lately my social calendar has been pretty full, which of course is a good thing, because it means I’m staying connected and getting reconnected with old friends, and it prevents me from turning into a TV/Internet zombie.

The downside to having a loaded appointment book is that inevitable, conflicts in schedule crop up, and they’re hard to sort out. Last week, trying to set a date for dinner with some college buddies cost me dozens of text messages as I tried to find a common free weekend for 6 different working people. Then it was designating a day for an overdue reunion with my high school barkada, which thankfully Michelle took care of organizing— no small feat considering there are 10 of us in the barkada. After that I arranged a movie-and-coffee girl’s night out with Angge, one of my dearest high school and college friends, and Joy, my favorite cousin and oldest friend (old as in we’ve been friends since our playpen days). We tossed several dates back and forth until we settled on next Tuesday night… then Joy, who has a teeming schedule herself, asked to move it back to a weekend, but by then I had already made plans for those days, so it was back to Tuesday. Whew, it’s tough to be so in demand. :p

I’ve even started filling in my calendar for September, and to my devastation, I realized that the second-round Ateneo-La Salle game is going to be on a Thursday (has anyone noticed that the game schedules are all out of whack this year?). I contemplated asking my bosses (i.e. my parents) if I could leave work early to catch the game, but then I remembered that the ICA intrams championship will also be on a weekday afternoon, as well as Fara’s wedding. Torn, I decided to save my leaving-work-early pleas for the two more important events: the wedding, because it’s not everyday one of my friends gets married, and the intrams, because a promise is a promise and I just know the Fyrinx are going to win. ;) Anyway, I can always watch the Ateneo-La Salle game on TV, and if we get clobbered again it won’t hurt as much… and I won’t have to resist the urge to throw solid objects at Badjie del Rosario.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tribute to Tangsoc

I find that I can never quite put my finger on how some of the best friendships I've formed got started in the first place. Whenever I think about why Tangsoc and I became friends, I can only come up with these vague reasons:

  1. Tangsoc was Fara's friend, and Fara was my friend, ergo, Tangsoc became my friend... no wait, I think that's an invalid syllogism. Haha.
  2. We're both Greenhills girls, and our families frequent the same Chinese restaurants. ;p
  3. We both love the Fyrinx.
  4. We both taught subjects we didn't major in but were good at (if I do say so myself).

But I think the most important reason may simply be that Tangsoc is considerate, giving, trustworthy, loyal and a wonderful person overall. I think anyone who spends enough time around her can't help but become friends with her. I was lucky to have been one of those people.

Thanks for everything Tangsoc. I'll miss having you around, for badminton, for binging, for bashing *evil grin*, for bonding. Take care in Vancouver/New Jersey, and see you on YM. :)

Cake party at Bizu as send-off for Tangsoc

Six degrees of Matt Damon

I am looking forward to The Brothers Grimm for two very good reasons: Heath Ledger (who captured my heart in 10 Things I Hate About You, the only teenybopper flick I have respect for) and Matt Damon (back during the Matt-and-Ben days, I started out thinking Ben was cuter, until Good Will Hunting— then I was a Matt woman all the way).

When any of my favorite hotties star together in the same movie, I’m not really concerned about the screenplay, the directing or even the rest of the cast; I’d rather focus my energy on absorbing the collective gorgeousness of the leading men. So when I saw a TV feature on The Brothers Grimm and learned that both Matt and Heath were in it, anticipation was bouncing around in me like a happy bunny. I also realized that this movie neatly completes a circle of studs who have been in movies together, beginning and ending with Matt Damon:

Matt in The Brothers Grimm with Heath Ledger --> Heath in Ned Kelly with Orlando Bloom --> Orly in Kingdom of Heaven with Edward Norton --> Ed in Fight Club with Brad Pitt --> Brad in Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve with George Clooney --> and George was in that same movie plus Confessions of a Dangerous Mind with Matt.

Another possible chain (yes, I’ve got wayyy too much free time on my hands): Matt and Heath in The Brothers Grimm --> Heath in Ned Kelly with Orly --> Orly in Troy with Brad --> Brad in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas with Joseph Fiennes --> Joe in Enemy at the Gates with Jude Law --> Jude in Closer with Clive Owen --> and Clive was in The Bourne Identity with Matt.

I’d also like to point out that some names in the chains have also starred with Matt Damon: Ed Norton in Rounders, Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve, and Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

This is fun.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Appealingly appalling, appallingly appealing

When I react physically to a book— laugh, cry, sigh, gasp, shiver with pleasure, shudder with horror— it’s a sign that I really like what I’m reading. Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted was the first book I’ve read that almost made me puke— and that’s a compliment to the author. I have loved him since I read his mind-blowing Fight Club (the David Fincher film adaptation was equally mind-blowing, and that's not factoring in Brad Pitt), and I have bought and devoured all of Palahniuk's succeeding novels, Haunted being the latest. It made my skin crawl, it made my stomach turn, and it stopped short of making my eyeballs pop out of their sockets with all its grisly, morbid, violent, lurid, even filthy content. Palahniuk has a knack for taking the basest aspects of humanity and shoving it down the reader’s throat, but lacing it with a dry, wicked humor which bitch-slaps institutions and symbols of American culture.

In Haunted, the object of Palahniuk’s unforgiving derision is the Frankenstein monster that is reality TV. 19 people. 90 days. 23 stories. 1 abandoned theater. Now this is Survivor… and after this, you will never look at a Mark Burnett show the same way again. All that’s ridiculous, malicious, pretentious, hideous, humiliating, degrading, self-serving, and disgusting about “reality” television is laid bare by Palahniuk, and it all seems like gratuitous sex and violence until you realize Palahniuk’s only doing what all good writers do: hold up a mirror to reality, or in this case, the reality of reality TV, and not the “reality” it purports to present. Palahniuk shows us life is sick, but reality TV is even sicker in its manipulation and exploitation of real life, real people, real pain.

The quote Palahniuk placed at the beginning of the book encapsulates the spirit of Haunted perfectly (and quite appropriately, it’s by the Master of Macabre himself, Edgar Allan Poe): “There was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.” It is on this note that I recommend this book only to mature readers with open minds, emotional and mental (and psychological) stability, and really strong stomachs. Get ready to relish the revulsion.

Monday, August 15, 2005


I had my hair cut yesterday, chopping off almost 3 inches— 4 in some parts, because I got layers. Normally I hate getting haircuts because I find that even the best stylists tend to screw up the simplest instructions: you tell them to take an inch off, they lop off 2 and a half; you tell them you don’t want bangs, they give you wisps that keep falling into your eyes; you tell them you want to look like Rachel from Friends, they make you look like Kramer from Seinfeld. And anyone who has ever had a bad haircut knows there is nothing worse than showing up to class or work the following day and have everyone going, “Patay na ba yung gumupit ng buhok mo?”

Yesterday though, sitting there watching the stylist snip merrily away, instead of the usual gripping dread, I felt an odd calm (and to think the stylist was new and had never cut my hair before). Even when he asked if he could hack off a few more centimeters, I just nodded placidly, letting him do his thing. Amazingly enough, it turned out better than I expected. Shorter than I expected, true, but not horrible at all. It’s going to be a challenge to tame the layers every morning, yes, but no one really cares what I look like at the office (unlike some delightful students who used to greet me in the halls when I had just arrived at school, cheerfully pointing out that I looked sabog :p).

Unfortunately, hair wasn’t the only thing I lost yesterday. My precious Palm Tungsten T5 conked out on me and wouldn’t switch on. All my attempts to reset and recharge were futile. In my panic I texted my trusty tech support pal Fara, and though her suggestions didn’t work either, and she just ended up advising me to bring the unit to a service center to have it fixed, I felt better knowing this advice was coming from Fara. At one point though she threw me into a renewed state of panic when she asked if the warranty was still valid, and I realized I didn’t know where I had put the receipt. When I told her that, she almost had a heart attack— Fara, the most OC person I know (who keeps her important documents in Ziploc bags), thinks a careless act like that completely unconscionable, and good thing I unearthed the receipt from the pile of junk on my desk, or she might have lectured me about it for the rest of our natural lives.

Today I’m sending my Tungsten T5 to be repaired. They might send back a new unit to replace the busted one, or figure out a way to fix the unit, but not without wiping out all my stored data. Sigh. Don’t you just hate it when you lose something? At least hair grows back…

Friday, August 12, 2005

Blame it on the rain

The gloomy wet weather we've been having for the past week seems to be having an opposite effect on me. Maybe it's just my three-point plan, but I have been feeling pretty good recently, although the cause of my "depression" has not disappeared. Just a few minutes ago as I was walking from our company dining room back to the office, navigating through puddles which had pooled on the open-air corridor floor, with the stormy wind spitting raindrops at me, I started humming a Garbage song in my head:

I’m only happy when it rains
I’m only happy when it’s complicated
And though I know you can’t appreciate it
I’m only happy when it rains

You know I love it when the news is bad
And why it feels so good to feel so sad
I’m only happy when it rains

Pour your misery down, pour your misery down on me
Pour your misery down, pour your misery down on me

I’m only happy when it rains
I feel good when things are going wrong
I only listen to the sad, sad songs
I’m only happy when it rains

I only smile in the dark
My only comfort is the night gone black
I didn’t accidentally tell you that
I’m only happy when it rains

You’ll get the message by the time I’m through
When I complain about me and you
I’m only happy when it rains

You can keep me company
As long as you don’t care

I’m only happy when it rains
You wanna hear about my new obsession?
I’m riding high upon a deep depression
I’m only happy when it rains

So maybe I can only be happy when I'm not. Go figure.

On a lighter (and less twisted) note, I can think of other reasons why I'm happy when it rains:
  • I get to wear my favorite jackets (my white Arrow windbreaker, my black Marks & Spencer hoodie, and of course, my precious blue-and-white Ateneo jacket).
  • A hot, frothy tea latte from CBTL tastes better on a rainy day (I've switched from chai to English Breakfast).
  • I have an excuse not to wear open-toed, high-heeled shoes (sometimes a girl gets tired of being a girl and just wants to wear thick socks and comfy Nikes).

Thursday, August 11, 2005

AP-Annex rocks!

Last night, AP-Annex gathered at New Bombay (an Indian restaurant along Wilson St.) to celebrate Elyse's birthday. I love getting together with AP-Annex because it reminds me of all the good and bad experiences I went through as an ICA teacher. The good memories make me feel grateful that I was given the opportunity to live out my life dream, and the bad memories make me feel relieved I no longer have to deal with certain occupational pains-in-the-neck. :p

But more than that, I love being around AP-Annex because they're such great people. They are some of the best teachers ICA has ever had, because they work hard, they teach well, they love their students, and the students love them in return. They are also some of the most principled, ethical, and reliable co-workers I've ever had, because they do what is right, fight for what's right, and stick by their promises. Moreover, they are some of the most fun characters I've ever met, with all their quirks and outlandish humor, that it's impossible not to have a blast when I'm with them. Most importantly, they are some of the best friends I have. They helped me keep my sanity throughout some of my craziest times in ICA, they always had my back when I needed support or assistance (even though they were the ones who frequently put me in the line of fire in the first place by using me as a mouthpiece :p), and they accepted me as Ailee the North Bitch (AP-Annex inside joke) without judgment or reprehension. I'm proud to be an Annex member, and I love my AP-Annex posse. :)

And since I also love Elyse, I decided to post this photo instead of the other, funnier one. ;p

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

In defense of Depp

I read a review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the Philippine Star today. This is my mildly miffed reaction.

The Star writer criticized the movie for "bastardizing" Johnny Depp. Sheesh. Just because he doesn't look drop dead gorgeous, he's being "bastardized"?? That's what's so great about Depp, he refuses to be boxed in by the romantic hero stereotype, and I applaud him for taking on a wide variety of roles that shows his range as an actor (scissor-handed freak, sexy gypsy, scruffy pirate, sensitive playwright, strange recluse, etc.). A true actor will not let his ego or inhibitions get in the way of transforming into a character. If you call that "bastardizing" then I’m calling Depp one heckuva talented bastard.

The writer went on to compare Depp’s Willy Wonka to Michael Jackson (I already conceded to the Jacko resemblance in my previous post), and Gene Wilder’s Wonka in the first film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Please. The “classic” movie isn’t the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Admittedly Depp’s Wonka was not an accurate representation of the hilarious character Roald Dahl created in his lovely book, but neither was Wilder’s Wonka a faithful portrait of the eccentric chocolatier. He shouldn’t be the standard against which Depp’s new Wonka is measured.

Oh, and the writer also said that the movie “screwed up” the Oompa-Loompas. Honey, the Oompa-Loompas are weird and sinister, any which way they’re portrayed. They’re seriously screwed up to begin with, so there’s really very little damage you can further inflict on them.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory made me feel young and old at the same time, which I suspect was what director Tim Burton and company set out to do. They not only created a colorful, cartoony movie that elicits oohs and aahs and giggles from children, but also produced a film that delivers two seemingly contradicting messages to adults: lighten up, and crack down.

The first message is common enough, the whole "never forget what it's like to be a kid" bit, how we should see the world through a child's eyes in order to appreciate the simple joys in life (such as that which comes wrapped in a bar of whipple-scrumptious fudgemallow chocolate). The second message is not often taken up in movies, but it's one a lot of people need to hear, so I'm glad the filmmakers didn't downplay the teasing tirades found in Roald Dahl's book. Dahl moralizes that when children are spoiled, they turn out rotten, and no one is to blame but the parents, who did the damage by not disciplining their kids. Unfortunately, this message was wasted on some members of the audience, who wouldn't make their noisy brats shut the hell up (this is why I hate watching "kiddie" flicks in theaters, I'm always sorely tempted to pick a fight with a whiny five-year-old's mom by telling her not to bring her child to a movie until he's intelligent enough to understand it).

I also liked the "family means everything" angle added to the screenplay. I thought it enriched the original story with one more moral lesson (one which I happen to believe in strongly), as well as provided an avenue for giving the characters of Charlie and Willy Wonka more depth.

It was a joy to watch the mad, manic creative mastery of Tim Burton playing out on-screen, accompanied by the distinct, haunting harmonies of his favorite composer Danny Elfman. It was also a marvel to witness Burton baby Johnny Depp revel in his role as the darkly comic, disturbingly creepy Willy Wonka (though I must agree with those who claim that Depp's Wonka seems an eerie parallel to Michael Jackson: both have pale ghostly faces, wear weird flashy outfits, were deprived of a real childhood, and live in huge wonderlands to which they invite children). It was refreshing to see the versatile Helena Bonham-Carter in a non-period piece, non-violent film for a change, and it was a stroke of genius to have cast the awesome Christopher Lee as Wonka's dad (the guy has played Dracula, Saruman, Count Duku, and now, Willy Wonka's father-- can anyone top that?).

But the real delight of the movie was child actor Freddie Highmore, who is like a more refined, subtler Haley Joel Osment (back when he was still considered precocious and adorable). Highmore played the loveable, pure-hearted Charlie with such a natural charm that it's easy to imagine he's a nice, likeable kid in real life. He shows tremendous promise as an actor, and after seeing him in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I now desperately want to find our missing DVD copy of Finding Neverland, where he first co-starred with, and stole the limelight from, Johnny Depp. I wouldn't be surprised if little Freddie becomes a Burton regular, as the director has a penchant for recycling talent (check out the cast of his upcoming animated feature "Corpse Bride"; Depp, Bonham-Carter and Lee all supply their voices).

I don't know if it was the wholesome appeal of a classic tale with good old-fashioned values, or the combined brilliance of the cast and crew, or visually transmitted endorphins from all the chocolate, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory worked its magic on me. And quite aptly, I left the movie theater feeling like a kid who's just been in a candy shop.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A fine metaphor for the true state of our nation

A good three weeks and several smashed orange roadblocks later, would you believe the manhole along Santolan in front of Camp Crame is STILL uncovered?!?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Moldy oldies

Last week we were entertaining guests from Thailand who were in town to talk business with my parents. One of them was this cool guy in his late 50's, whom my sibs and I really enjoyed talking to. I say he was cool not only because he spoke the best English I've ever heard from a Thai, but because he was the first person I've met who had actually been to Woodstock. He regaled us with tales from his hippie days as a college student in the US: how he wore his hair long and went barefoot, how he was all about flower power and "peace and love, man", how he joined demonstrations against the Vietnam War, how he drove to Woodstock in a VW van... the works! We listened with awe, especially when he told us about the acts he saw at Woodstock: Joan Baez, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, all the legends. When I told him we were amazed that we had actually met someone who's been to Woodstock, he said he was amazed that someone our age actually knew what Woodstock was, and the artists who performed there.

My sibs and I are weird like that. We're old souls, and we get our kicks from stuff people our age would normally regard as ancient, whether it's music, movies or art. My sister in particular is a classics buff; she enjoys listening to jazz, watching black-and-white flicks, and looking at art deco interiors. Our parents find it amusing that our tastes are so outdated, especially when we actually know and appreciate something from their generation that even they are not familiar with. They wonder how their children became as old as-- or even older than-- they are.

My predilection for things from bygone eras does not help me relate to the current fare record labels and movie/TV studios are dishing out. I always feel like a fossil when I fail to recognize the latest emo band to make it big (what the hell is emo supposed to be anyway? it all sounds like whining to me) or react adversely to a popular teen soap and its young stars who look like walking and talking Barbies and Kens (I blame Dawson's Creek, the forerunner of angst-laden teen drama, for spawning such insipid shows like One Tree Hill and The O.C.). Yes, I'm a grandma. But if it's a choice between reruns of M*A*S*H or music videos featuring the likes of Lindsay Lohan (I'm tone-deaf but even I can tell when someone can't carry a tune-- hey girlie, just because you're fully loaded in some places doesn't mean you can get away with singing flat!), then I'd rather be a relic.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tag, I'm it!

My best friend tagged me to do this survey from her blog and since I'm feeling uninspired to write the post I have in mind, I'm going to do this first.

5 CDs in your player: (I don't really buy CDs much anymore, not since the advent of MP3s that you can download for free, so when I do buy CDs they're either by artists I really love or "best of" compilations, so I get my money's worth)
1. Rob Thomas' Something to Be
2. Openness: The One, the Only (the CD compilation I burned for my favorite polyphagians)
3. Disc One of Elton John's Greatest Hits (Disc Two seems to have all the blah songs)
4. Robbie Williams' Greatest Hits
5. Piano Man: The Very Best of Billy Joel

5 MP3s in your playlist:
1. I Can't Make You Love Me, Constantine Maroulis (teehee)
2. Road to Mandalay, Robbie Williams (has a wonderful chorus that gives me LSS, which I don't mind at all)
3. 3X5, John Mayer (a song Rachel the shutterbug should appreciate)
4. Accidentally in Love, Counting Crows (great pick me up song that reminds me of Mye and Laura)
5. Lonely No More, Rob Thomas (the pants, the pants...)

5 movies you’ve seen recently: (this shows just how long I haven't stepped foot inside a movie theater)
1. The Untouchables on HBO (I can't believe Kevin Costner was ever that young. And I can't believe how Sean Connery gets hotter the older he gets.)
2. A Clockwork Orange on DVD (sick, eerie and bizarre, but morbidly compelling thanks to a terrifically talented young Malcolm McDowell, another old actor who looked like Ewan McGregor in his youth)
3. War of the Worlds (In case you don't know how I feel about this movie and its star, read my scathing review.)
4. Sideways on DVD

5. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

5 nice things that happened to you lately:
1. Kev emailed me a Lance Armstrong wallpaper
2. Andy asked me for help with her newborn blog (apparently Elyse isn't the only one who considers me blog tech support, hehe)
3. Tiff Hong asked me how my day was
4. my high school barkada's YahooGroup came back to life because of the bombshell Bev dropped on us (congratulations Bev!)
5. Raqs passed this survey to me :)

5 friends you’re passing this to: (my most loyal readers, but not counting my faithful stalkers whose blogs I do not know... please send me your links so I can stalk you in return!)
1. Jac
2. Tarin
3. Ange Lim
4. Karen
5. Rachel

Monday, August 01, 2005

Defeating the doldrums

I have been down in the dumps lately. Now normally a proud, arrogant intellectual snob like me doesn’t like admitting that she succumbs to something as pathetic as depression, but there has undeniably been a cloud of gloom hanging over me since last week. I have been trying my best to shake it off (immersing myself in work, Star Trek DVD marathons, and visits to Max Brenner), but nothing seems to beat my blues (I even neglected my blogging for a few days). Finally, I came up with an action plan that I deliberately decided to set in motion today, the first of August (new month, new start).

Step one of my plan: I am going to exercise. The past few months I have been getting fatter and fatter from lack of physical exertion (I miss my badminton days with AP-Annex!) and excessive pigging out. I’ve never been one to obsess over my looks, but there comes a point when a girl looks into the mirror and just has to go, “Damn, I’m HUGE.” However, I draw the line at dieting and depriving myself of everything; I will just cut back on certain sinful indulgences (auf wiedersehen, Haagen-Dazs!). So exercise it must be. From August onward, I will use our treadmill every night for at least half an hour. I figure it’s not only a healthy way to let off negative energy, it will also help me feel better about myself once I start losing some unwanted pounds and inches.

Step two: I will surround myself with people who make me feel good. Some of my students are very good at this, although they may not even realize how they brighten up my day. My siblings are my favorite source of comfort after a long, hard day. My personal shrink Maddy is amazing, and does not charge me for sessions. A quick text or YM message to my guru Sir Tirol clears my head right away. I miss AP-Annex and my darling LM girls—we’re long overdue for another dinner out. Above all, I miss my best friend: the person who knows me best, and who puts up with me even when I’m being unreasonable, selfish or insensitive. Even when I’m in a dark mood, even when we’re not in touch, the mere idea that she’s out there gives me a sense of peace.

Step three: I will watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this weekend. It’s not that there’s anything special about the movie, it’s that I haven’t gone out to see a movie in ages. I need some escapism in my life. I need to be entertained, and TV is not enough (CSI is the only show nowadays that keeps me engaged). The quality of my leisure reading also needs to improve; the book I’m reading now is just not doing it for me (Douglas Adams’ “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” which I thought would be a scream like HHGG but is turning out to be more of a feeble yelp). My radio listening habits have taken a turn for the better recently, ever since I switched stations from 89.9 (too much bad pop and OPM that makes a mockery of the O in OPM) to 103.5 (good bands, great classics and smart DJs), so at least I’m headed in the right direction already in that aspect of my entertainment life.

Bottom line: I’m not going to allow myself to wallow in this funk I’m in. Here’s hoping my three-point plan helps. I’m determined to kick the crap out of this so-called depression and live strong (supplement to my three-point plan: I will wear my Lance Armstrong wristband more often). Besides, I’m too much of a proud, arrogant intellectual snob to stay down in the dumps for long.