Friday, February 29, 2008

Something I got from Dotz's blog

  • Pick 15 of your favorite movies!
  • Go to IMDB and find a quote for each movie.
  • Post them here for everyone to guess which movies the quotes come from.
  • Strike out a quote when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie title.
  • For those guessing: strictly no Googling/using IMDB search functions!
P.S. Hanks, you're disqualified from answering. :p
  1. "Every man dies, not every man really lives." -Sean correctly identified this, Braveheart
  2. "You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your f*cking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world." -of course, who should get this but Raqs (my own Tyler Durden), Fight Club
  3. "We are the music of your life." - Stephanie gets the credit for this, Mr. Holland's Opus
  4. "Well, gentlemen, I must say I differ with the keen minds of the South and with our President, who apparently shares their views, offering that the natural state of mankind is instead - and I know this is a controversial idea - is freedom. Is freedom. And the proof is the length to which a man, woman or child will go to regain it once taken. He will break loose his chains. He will decimate his enemies. He will try and try and try, against all odds, against all prejudices, to get home." -finally, someone got this-- Atsi Fan, Amistad
  5. "You must unlearn what you have learned." -unsurprisingly, Sean got this one, The Empire Strikes Back (a.k.a. Star Wars Episode V)
  6. "To make the journey and not fall deeply in love - well, you haven't lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived." -this one went to Yang, Meet Joe Black
  7. "If I were the man I was five years ago, I'd take a flamethrower to this place!" Analiza the Pacino fan got this one, Scent of a Woman
  8. "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." -Yang's second correct answer, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  9. "You are amazingly self-assured, has anyone ever told you that?" "I tell myself that every day, actually."
  10. "I like to feel his eyes on me when I look away." -Jo gets top marks for getting this one, Before Sunrise
  11. "There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." -again nailed by Analiza, The Godfather Part II
  12. "You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man... I see a cocky, scared shitless kid." -better late than never, John the movie buff came to the resuce, Good Will Hunting
  13. "My friends. You bow to no one." -Ria got this, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  14. "I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it." -this one also goes to John, The Green Mile
  15. "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world." -bonus point for Ria for getting my favorite movie of all time, Dead Poets Society

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscars overview and some overdue reviews

I don't know if it was because the Hollywood writers' strike ended too close to the date of the ceremonies, but the 80th Academy Awards came and went with minimal fanfare. The mood of this year's Oscars was a bit subdued, from the proliferation of black gowns on the red carpet to the solemn video montages looking back on 80 years of Oscar history. Even host Jon Stewart's usually sharp, sarcastic humor was tempered with a sheepish kind of restraint, though it served him well. There were very few eyebrow-raisers throughout the program (although having Hannah Montana as a presenter is just offensive), and unlike last year, there were no real shockers among the winners, save for surprise wins for Best Actress (by John's darling Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose) and Best Supporting Actress (by Cate Blanchett's gaunt, ghostly doppelganger Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton). My only major complaints: Transformers got shut out of the 3 awards it was nominated for (c'mon, Optimus Prime isn't enough for Best Visual Effects?!?), and my brother won our sibling Oscars betting pool this year by a very narrow margin, hmph.

With the Oscars over, I think it's high time I make the effort to write some belated reviews of some films that were up for (but did not necessarily win) some awards.

Because I have not seen La Vie en Rose (yes, John, I will soon, I promise!), I really thought Julie Christie was a shoo-in for Best Actress for her wonderfully nuanced but powerful performance as a woman suffering from Alzheimer's in Away from Her. In this movie, Christie gives us a prime example of fine acting by a veteran: not overdone, not theatrical, not self-conscious, and utterly convincing. Very often actors playing people afflicted with dementia end up doing a caricature that is either comic or cruel. Christie gives her character a grace and dignity that are moving to behold. Relative unknown Gordon Pinsent provides a solid supporting presence as the loving husband who is pained to see his wife's condition deteriorate so quickly that she forgets who he is entirely. There is a poignant beauty to Away From Her that makes this otherwise simple film memorable, and that's largely in part to the remarkable acting by the two leads.

Atonement was pretty much snubbed by the Academy (unless you count its win for Best Original Score), but I found that this film adaptation surpassed my expectations as an Ian McEwan fan. It's a huge challenge translating a McEwan novel into a movie, because he's such a master of words that his written descriptions can be more vivid than any visual interpretation. But thanks to pitch-perfect performances by a talented cast, McEwan's tale of passion, betrayal, remorse and tragedy was adeptly brought to life on celluloid. As is the case with most film adaptations however, the character development was a bit weak compared to the book's, but the deficiency was more than made up for by the heat generated between Kiera Knightley and James McAvoy (LOVE him), who play star-crossed lovers Celia and Robbie. The amazing on-screen chemistry they have is the kind that just can't be faked even by the best of actors, and together they made the infamous love scene in the library pulsate with urgency, raw emotion and sensuality. Of course no review of Atonement is complete without acknowledging the impressive performance of young Saoirse Ronan, who brought the meddling child Briony to life with startling vibrancy, so much so that even as she causes the separation of Celia and Robbie, it's difficult to vilify her completely. As far as film adaptations go, Atonement is not bad at all, and as a film by itself, it's actually pretty good.

I recently sang the Affleck brothers' praises for their work in Gone Baby Gone. Casey Affleck was a revelation in big brother Ben's directorial debut, and I was gratified to see that he delivered the same high-caliber acting in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It's no simple feat outshining a star like Brad Pitt, but Casey succeeds with the kind of quiet, unassuming confidence that's more Damon than Affleck, showing why he received and deserved that Best Supporting Actor nomination. He depicts Robert Ford as an impressionable and unstable young man, whose hero worship of legendary bandit Jesse James (played by Mr. Pitt) becomes a twisted fixation that eventually leads him to kill his idol. Affleck's Ford is a bit creepy and seems to be perpetually teetering precariously on the brink of psychosis, but he also manages to be strangely sympathetic because of his vulnerability and fragile psyche. An underappreciated turn by underappreciated Sam Rockwell as Ford's older brother also contributes to the few strengths of this dreary, overly long movie. The plodding pace is hardly compensated for by the breath-taking cinematography, and the barely coherent plot is made murkier by dialogue mumbled in muddled accents. The Assassination of Jesse James reminded me why I'm not a fan of Westerns in general, and quite frankly, my only motivation for watching is seeing cute actors dressed up as cowboys.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Memory meme

If you read this journal, even if I don't speak to you often, post a memory of me.

It can be anything you want. It can be good or bad, just so long as it happened. Then post this on your journal.

Be surprised and see what people remember about you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Here AI go again

It's that time of the year again when I indulge in a favorite guilty pleasure and make off with my parents' money. American Idol is back for a 7th season, and everything's still pretty much the same. Ryan Seacrest is still a smarmy ass who thinks he's cooler than he actually is (which is not at all), Randy Jackson is still using words like "dog", "hot", "blow" and "what" in ways that would give a grade school English teacher a migraine, Paula Abdul is still drunk or high or drunk AND high, and giving us a good idea of what Britney Spears is going to be like in 20 years (assuming she doesn't kill herself first), and Simon Cowell is still a lovable, cantankerous bitch in a tight t-shirt. And the contestants? They're still being unconvincingly heralded as "the best group ever" (as Ryan never fails to remind us every single episode), and they're still turning in mediocre "ka-ree-oh-kee" performances.

To be fair though, this year's top 24 seem much better than last year's dismal lot, in terms of both talent and personality. I'm already liking some of the Idol hopefuls, like Aussie hottie Michael Johns (my eye candy of choice this season), "good girl" Brooke White, Fil-Am pint-sized powerhouse Ramiele Malubay, funky Syesha Mercado, and adorable, adorable David Archuleta (he just makes me smile! =D). Even some of the less vocally strong contenders I find entertaining, like feisty Danny Noriega (who reminds me of Justin from Ugly Betty), rocker chick Amanda Overmyer (who reminds me of Dilana from Rock Star Supernova), and dreadlocks dude Jason Castro (who reminds me of Clifford, the Rastafarian host of Muppets Tonight).

However this season plays out, I know I'll be watching week after week, even when the good singers get eliminated prematurely or when the judges persist in giving glowing feedback to undeserving performers. This is brainless TV at its finest, and I'm entitled to my weekly fix, especially when it makes for such a pleasant break from watching televised Senate hearings and news coverage of the US elections. American Idol 7 may not be "the best season ever" (no one's buying it, Ryan), but I'm hooked, and I'm staying tuned. And if I place my bets correctly, I'll be earning a few hundred bucks while I'm at it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Steven Spielberg is a spoilsport (literally)

I've been meaning to blog about this issue for about a week now, but I got sidetracked by the ZTE controversy, which has been the hot topic of late. Yesterday afternoon my sister sent me a Yahoo news article that reminded me of my beef with Steven Spielberg, who has withdrawn his offer to serve as an artistic adviser for the Beijing Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies, ostensibly to protest China's economic ties with Sudan.

I'm not going to delve into the issue of China supplying Khartoum with arms in exchange for oil, nor will I get into the whole genocide versus war crimes debate, nor will I discuss the gross violation of human rights in Darfur. However, let me make it clear that I do unequivocally denounce the atrocities being perpetrated in that region, and I have no problem with putting pressure on supporters of the Sudanese government. What does get my goat is how bleeding heart do-gooder celebrities like Spielberg and Mia Farrow and Russell Simmons are exploiting the Beijing Olympics as a means of strong-arming China. If they wish to bully China into dissolving its trade agreement with Sudan, fine. Pen indignant open letters or strongly worded emails to the Chinese government, deliver impassioned speeches at UN plenaries, film attention-grabbing documentaries, picket Chinese embassies around the globe, b
oycott China products (they're all toxic anyway right?), stop eating Chinese food, kick Yao Ming out of the NBA, whatever. But they shouldn't be using the Olympics as a weapon. The very point of the Games is to promote peace and goodwill among nations. It's a time when all political conflicts are set aside, when racial hostilities are suspended, and when differences are momentarily forgotten. The Olympics is not a venue for protest, nor a platform for politicking.

Once every 4 years, the whole world comes together in friendly competition, solidarity, and brotherhood. During the Olympics, people of different nationalities, ages, races and religions celebrate the triumph of the human body and spirit, uphold the universal values of honor, courage, and fair play, and reinforce the bonds of their shared humanity.
With their protest, Spielberg and co. are not only spitting in China's eye, in effect they are spitting in the face of everything the Olympics represents.

The protesters
probably mean well, and they probably sincerely believe that they are helping Darfur by turning their backs on the Beijing Olympics. While I admire their noble intentions, I vehemently disagree with their method. And I find it absurd, and sad, that their zealous humanitarian efforts and activism are threatening to spoil an event that stands for the very things they are fighting for.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Responses to the ranter who ran away

Someone sent me a link to this Multiply blog post composed by an Ateneo college student whose attitude towards our nation's current political crisis is simply appalling. It got me so hopping mad that I forwarded it to some friends, some of whom in turn forwarded it to other acquaintances. It then led to some people (including my brother dearest) posting dissenting comments on the blog, and within a few hours the author either deleted the blog entry, or limited the access to her close contacts (hence, the Google cache). Apparently, she can dish it out, but she can't take it. Pity. Instead of engaging people in dialogue and debate, and learning from those exchanges, she chose to take the easy way out. Isn't that always the solution of the young these days.

My smart brother, foreseeing that she'd beat a retreat, put a copy of the blog entry on his own blog, along with his response to the girl's ranting. Yang's friend Tatot, who teaches Theology at Ateneo, also shared his sentiments on the matter. I invite my readers to check out both blogs, for they are well-written (though very different in style) and contain viewpoints similar to my own (though I may not present them as bluntly as my brother-- I plead guilty to being an occasional "sugarcoater"). I have also posted comments on both blogs, one of which contains a line which pretty much sums up my rebuttal to this girl's blog post:
Those who choose to sit back and just play the part of the audience don't have the right to demand that there be a happy ending to the story. And it certainly doesn't give them the right to sneer at the people doing the grunt work behind the scenes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Big girls do cry

As I have confessed to more than once in this blog, I am a closet sap. Also, I may not look it, but (like Jun Lozada) I am a crier. I cry watching movies (like this and this and this), I cry watching sports events (especially Ateneo games), I cry over old journal entries, I cry reading letters from my students, I cried (or at least wanted to cry) when I received my teacher evaluation, I cried at my students' graduation, I cried when I left my sister in Beijing, I cried when my grandmother passed away, I cried reading the last Harry Potter book. I try not to do it in public though, so usually my sniffling is confined to the safety of dark cinemas and the privacy of our home. I'm pretty good at keeping the floodgates closed, but it doesn't mean I don't well up easily.

And where my students are involved, I well up ridiculously easily. Of course the tears I've shed-- or tried not to shed-- are of different kinds: tears of joy, tears of pride, tears of sympathy, tears of disappointment, tears of anger, and in one very ugly instance, tears of betrayal. But the sad tears are the ones I'm good at controlling. The happy ones are harder to contain. When I was still at ICA, it was always a challenge to maintain my composure seeing my kids shine as they performed on stage, or received awards, or simply showed signs of improvement in their academics or personal development. For all of Ms. Lim's dignified demeanor, I was a big old marshmallow inside.

Apparently, I'm still a marshmallow, because last Saturday when I went to watch my student Karen Ramos in a Tanghalang Ateneo production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (translated into the Filipino Hakbang sa Hakbang), I felt a lump forming in my throat when Karen came out to take her bows during the curtain call. The only thing that prevented me from turning on the waterworks was the presence of 3 of my college friends sitting beside me, 2 of whom would never let me live it down if they saw me crying. :p

I suppose you could say it doesn't take much to make me cry. But that would be inaccurate, seeing as how the things that do move me to tears (movies and books aside) mean so much to me: my family, my friends, my students. So despite the risk to my reputation, I readily own up to being a tough cookie that crumbles from time to time, if only because doing so is tantamount to acknowledging the staggering measure of love I have in my life.

Someone pass me the Kleenex.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not so useless information

In the summer of 2001, my family went on an Alaskan cruise. The ship docked at certain ports where we could disembark and go on land tours. On one such tour, our guide (who was also the driver of our bus, talking into a headset microphone), in an effort to keep us entertained on the long drive, rattled off trivia questions about Alaska, asking everyone in the bus to guess the answers. He started by asking what Alaska's capital is. Many voices correctly chorused, "Juneau!", although "Anchorage" was also heard being said. He then asked what the state fish is, and a few piped up with "salmon!" Next, our guide asked for the state flower. A lot of guesses were thrown back at him, but he shook his head and rejected all of them. In the briefest pause that followed, I quietly called out, "Forget-me-not," to which the guide exclaimed delightedly, "Hey, that's it!" Then he asked, in a mischievous this-is-a-trick-question tone, what the state sport is. "Hockey" and "skiing" and "figure skating" were volunteered, but our driver nixed each. Since no one was getting it, I cleared my throat and called out, "Dog-sledding." I saw our guide look up into the rear-view mirror, startled, and he blurted out in an amazed, amused way, "WHO is back there?!" My parents turned around in their seats to stare at me and asked how I knew the answers. I just shrugged and gave what I now know to be a very Henry response: "It's just something I know."

Apart from impressing Alaskan tour guides and winning the odd contest in high school, having a head for trivia doesn't seem to have much practical use. Sure, when I watch game shows like Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire, or play 1 vs 100 on, I do pretty well, but I don't get to walk away with a bundle of cash, do I? It's also not something that tends to impress prospective employers when written on a resume, and it certainly doesn't increase one's value on the dating market. There are times when I feel that trivia seems truly, well, trivial.

But not while I was watching the finale of The Amazing Race Asia 2 last Thursday night, and I was pummeling a throw pillow in frantic frustration when Rovilson-- lovable, witty Rovilson-- couldn't identify the flags of all the countries they had gone to in the race. I'm fairly confident I could have been able to complete the task far more quickly (and I know several people who could have done it even faster than me: Sir Tirol for one, John Tan for another). I totally sympathized with Marc-- darling, gorgeous Marc-- standing on the sidelines unable to do anything but watch helplessly, when he himself recognized the correct flags but could not coach his partner. And because Rovilson took too long on that challenge, it cost Team Philippines the entire race. Adrian, the hearing-impaired guy from Team Singapore, zipped through the task "like a ninja", in Rovilson's own words, and Vanessa, the usually more disoriented Malaysian sister, even finished ahead of her rumored sweetheart. Ultimately, the Singaporean guys won the race, with the Malaysian sisters coming in second, and Marc and Rovilson a disappointing third. It was definitely not the conclusion expected for the team who dominated throughout the race... and all because Rovilson didn't know his flags. Moral lesson of the story: in the end, it's still brains over brawn. Well, brains, then beauty, THEN brawn.

And that's when it dawned on me: the wonderful thing about trivia is, you never know when it will come in handy. So someday, some of this hodgepodge information in my head is bound to be useful for something, though I have no clue what. I know I won't be joining the Amazing Race anytime soon, and I don't think I'll ever be a contestant on a TV game show playing for a 7-digit cash prize, but hey, in the meantime I can still kick ass in Christmas party games and board game tournaments. Trivial Pursuit, anyone?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Excising a royal pain in the neck

Every weekday morning I listen to the radio while going through my daily ablutions, partly to help clear the haze of sleep covering my brain, and partly to keep updated with the latest in the music world. My station of choice is 103.5 MAX FM (formerly KLITE), and their early morning program used to be hosted by my favorite DJ, Vito Lazatin. He was smart, funny, and wasn't abrasive or controversial like the generation of so-called "shock jocks" who has been taking over the airwaves in recent years. Unfortunately, last month, MAX FM revamped its programming, and for some reason incomprehensible to me, replaced Vito with the notorious King DJ Logan, one of the rudest, crassest, most offensive DJs working in radio today. For the past few weeks, I decided to stick it out with 103.5 even if they got rid of Vito, and though not a day went by that Logan didn't make me bristle, admittedly, there were times when he made me laugh, on rare occasions when he was being plain humorous and not obnoxious. However, this morning, he went and used up the last inch of my rope.

As part of a traffic advisory, Logan's sidekick Tetta News (whom I've always found mildly annoying even when she was still paired with Vito) was announcing the closure of certain streets in Makati due to the anti-Arroyo rally taking place this afternoon. This prompted Logan to put in his "two cents' worth", posing a "hypothetical question" to his listeners: assuming we do manage to oust Arroyo, who are we going to get to replace her? He then proceeded to run through a list of candidates that included Noli De Castro, JDV, Mar Roxas, Chiz Escudero, Manny Villar, Loren Legarda, Ping Lacson, Bayani Fernando, and even Susan Roces and Korina Sanchez (?!?), and after each name, he'd say something sarcastic or flippant to dismiss that person. He then ended with the sweeping conclusion that since there is no decent replacement for GMA, we should think twice before trying to unseat her.

Right then and there I resolved never to listen to 103.5's morning program again.

I cannot respect anyone who stands by the argument that since there's no perceived better alternative, the status quo-- no matter how bad it is-- should be preserved. It's precisely that sort of indulgent, complacent, apathetic attitude that keeps our country stuck in the rut it's in. We will put up with the bastards robbing our nation blind, because we're afraid the alternative COULD be worse. We will tolerate graft and corruption as long as it doesn't get any worse. We will turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, because it's better to pardon the incumbent government's sins than take a risk with a new government's potential for worse wrongdoing. Is it any great surprise then why we remain a people who never strive for better, when we're always content with "not worse"? How does a country progress by constantly settling for the lesser evil, without recognizing that evil is still evil, regardless of its degree?

I was at EDSA Dos, and to this day I am proud that I stood with the thousands who cried out for Estrada's ouster. Even then I was very much aware of the possibility that we could be just replacing a crook with another crook (and we did). But that was beside the point. Those at EDSA Dos weren't out to reward GMA, we were there to punish Erap. The midget was mere collateral damage; she was at the right place at the right time, benefiting from our concerted efforts to set things right, and all we got in return was her own brand of treacherous administration. Now that things are all f*cked up, it's easy to look back with the wisdom of hindsight and say that EDSA Dos was a mistake. But how is doing the right thing ever a mistake? The people are not to blame for installing GMA. GMA is to blame for betraying the people who gave her a chance to be better than Erap. It is not our fault she failed us, and we will not be at fault if we replace her with someone who MIGHT turn out to be more unscrupulous than her.

I actually believe Noli could be worse than GMA, and the idea of 2 years under President Kabayan is the stuff of nightmares. But I refuse to let my fear of what could be worse stop me from believing in what is right, and believing in a change for the better. Unlike King DJ Logan who would rather let sleeping dogs lie, even if those dogs are obviously rabid and could be the death of us all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Where's our Obama?

Call me an idealistic fool, but I am in awe of Barack Obama. The man is magnetic, almost hypnotic, in a way I imagine Jesus was, drawing people to him and moving them with the power of his message-- an eloquent speaker exuding sincerity and integrity, and inspiring trust, courage, and hope. While the cynic in me is inclined to think Obama is too good to be true, that he's all bark and no bite, I cannot help but be captivated by the man, or at least the idea of the man as he is presented: an intelligent, compassionate, principled public servant who fights for his convictions, puts the welfare of his people above all else, and leads by his sterling example.

I find the appeal of Obama even more compelling now that our own nation is currently in the grips of yet another political and moral crisis. Watching the ongoing Senate inquiry of the anomaly-infested ZTE NBN deal, my stomach turns in sheer revulsion at all the blatant lies, pathetic cover-ups and malicious machinations coming from the pawns and puppets of the Arroyo administration. It makes my blood boil the way they are shamelessly, persistently deceiving the Filipino people, whom they have already robbed of Lord knows how many billions of pesos. It leaves me cold that I am not even shocked at the staggering extent of corruption and injustice being perpetrated by the leaders of our land. And it breaks my heart that there seems to be no one left in our government whom we can count on to set things right. No cries of "yes, we can" to be heard here. No glimpse of "change we can believe in".

I envy America for having an Obama. Sure, he's no saint, and for all I know he may turn out to be a worse president than Bush (although I seriously doubt anyone can screw up more than that idiot). But that he's able to evoke such a strong renewed spirit of optimism, patriotism, and solidarity in his followers says something about the kind of leader he already is, and says a lot about the kind of leader he could become. And we desperately need someone like that here in the Philippines. We've already lost our passion for "People Power", our sense of moral outrage is numb or close to dead, and militants can't even plan a decent coup anymore. We have whistle-blowers and windmill-tilters, but no real heroes. An Obama could galvanize our apathetic asses to do something, to stand up for what's right and to help our country out of the horrific morass it's in. An Obama could give us the motivation and direction we sorely lack. An Obama could save us.

Barack Obama can't walk on water, or cure the sick, or raise the dead. And perhaps the messiah magic about him is nothing more than an illusion conjured by competent campaign managers and smart spin-masters. But though it remains to be seen whether or not he can actually perform miracles, for now, Obama can make others believe in miracles-- he can make others WANT to believe in miracles-- and he can make them remember what is good and pure and true and worth defending, worth working for, and worth fighting for, if not dying for. And maybe that's how we start curing a sick nation like ours.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I came across this Pajiba post that asked, "aren't there certain actors that you feel you'd just 'click' with if they somehow decided for some absurd reason to spend time with you?" I thought it would make a fun survey question, so I invite you, my blog readers, to share with me which 5 actors you think could be your pals in a dream world (take note: not just people you want to be chums with, but people you flatter yourself into thinking would actually want to be chums with YOU). Also describe the corresponding activities you'd enjoy doing with your 5 famous friends. Have fun imagining the possibilities!

It was hard trimming the list, but here are my top 5 picks:

  • Boggle or Scrabble marathon with Matt Damon; if we get tired of playing, he'd teach me how to play poker, or explain baseball to me while watching a Red Sox game on TV
  • having drinks with Hugh Laurie in a jazz club, talking about books we love and discussing the writing process (yes, he's an author! I just bought his book The Gun Seller yesterday); sometime during the night, he'd suddenly decide to get up on stage to jam with the band (he writes, AND he plays the piano-- Dr. House is a real renaissance man)
  • sharing stimulating conversation and a bottle of wine with James Spader on a high-rise balcony (I don't like scotch, and I don't smoke cigars, but I'd consider putting on a flamingo costume)
  • (technically, he's not an actor, but he's still a TV personality, so...) sitting on a judging panel with Simon Cowell, mercilessly dishing out take-no-prisoners critiques, rudely making fun of our fellow judge(s), and generally acting like a pair of obnoxious, arrogant arses
  • karaoke night with Gerard Butler-- I'd let him laugh at my bad singing as long as he does the striptease routine from P.S. I Love You =D
In my process of elimination, I dreamed up this scenario that I just can't resist not making special mention of:
  • watching a Shakespeare play with Alan Rickman, reviewing it over a long, late dinner, then on our way home, stopping for gas (wink, wink)
Others that didn't make the cut:
  • brunch a la Sex and the City and a whole day of shopping in Manhattan with the Fab Five from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
  • whiling away a lazy afternoon with Johnny Depp at a sidewalk cafe in France
  • bookstore browsing with Christian Bale
  • bitch-and-binge session with Emily Blunt
  • attending an NHL game with Matthew Perry
  • girls' night out with Tina Fey
  • Brad Pitt movie marathon with George Clooney, with the two of us providing running commentary filled with wisecracks at Brad's expense
  • spa day with Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • road trip across the Scottish highlands with Ewan McGregor
Obviously, I had way too much fun with this. Now it's time to get my head out of the clouds and face the work week ahead. Sigh.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dumb luck

Those who saw my latest Multiply photo album probably know by now that I won the Amazing Race Asia SMS contest. I got the news during my last trip to Hong Kong; my sister texted me that someone had sent a message to my Sun line (which I had left at home), saying I was the weekly winner of P5,000 worth of Caltex Starcash cards. I was pretty psyched, not so much because I was excited at the prospect of getting P5,000 worth of free gas, but because I hardly ever win anything. I've never bagged the grand prize at any mooncake dice games, my name or number is never drawn in raffles, and when I was still in school, I didn't do so well in competitions, academic or extracurricular (although there was that Best in Algebra award...). True, in recent years I've fared a bit better, like when I won a radio contest (coincidentally, also Amazing Race-related), and when I got picked by the BBC to be part of their Oscars panel. But in general, I still don't consider myself a lucky person (see my meager casino winnings). So either very few people joined the Amazing Race SMS contest, or it was just a good old-fashioned fluke. Whatever the case, I have 5 P1,000 Star Cards to show for it, and just because I predicted Marc and Rovilson would come in first. Not exactly rocket science (or algebra).

* * *

In other happy news: Hanks and I snagged front-row seats to the Harry Connick Jr. concert on March 15 at the PICC. =D Last month, I read a press release in the Philippine Star that the jazz crooner/pianist/actor is coming to Manila, and my sister and I called Ticketworld almost everyday for 2 weeks until they started accepting reservations (at one point the girl who was answering the phone recognized my voice already :p). Apparently, Hanks and I are the only ones excited about Harry's concert, because practically all the seats were still available, and we got seats in the very first row in the left section (center section seats are more expensive). Yesterday, I paid for and picked up the tix at the Ticketworld counter in National Bookstore Megamall, and to make things even better, I got a 20% discount because of my mom's Globe Platinum card, whee! Can't wait for March 15. :)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Cute don't cut it

When someone asks me what I thought of a movie, and my instinctive response is, "it was cute", that's not necessarily a good thing. In my book, cute movies are pleasant and sufficiently entertaining, but they don't blow me away.

Juno is just that: cute. I liked it enough, but I failed to see all the Oscar hype surrounding it. My friend John told me it's being touted as this year's Little Miss Sunshine, but I beg to disagree with the comparison. For one thing, though both are considered "indie" flicks, I felt Juno sold out towards the end of its story and turned disappointingly trite and Hollywood-cheesy. And though like Little Miss Sunshine, Juno features a precocious girl as its main protagonist, Sunshine has the advantage of having a memorable, quirky screenplay, and memorable, quirky supporting characters. Juno has... Jennifer Garner. Not that Mrs. Ben Affleck didn't do well; in fact, I've never been a fan of hers, but in this film,
she acquitted herself well as a woman wanting to adopt the baby of a pregnant teenager (played with smart-mouthed assurance by young Ellen Page). But aside from being moved by Garner's nuanced performance, and adequately impressed with Page's promising talent, Juno did nothing for me. It felt more like a long TV dramedy episode than a full-length film, and I've seen better from watching Ugly Betty.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

No honor among thieves

Yesterday, in an hour-long, emotionally charged privilege speech before the House of Representatives, right before 174 of his peers voted to strip him of his Speakership, JDV pretty much told GMA, "If I'm going down, I'm taking you with me, bitch."

I find it infinitely amusing when 2 crooked politicians who used to be in cahoots end up screwing each other over, which is primarily why I wanted De Venecia ousted (and not because I think Nograles will necessarily be a better Speaker). Now that JDV's lost his 5-term chokehold on the Congress leadership, he's going to raise hell for our President and the dirty rotten scoundrels around her. There's nothing more dangerous than a former ally-turned-mortal enemy, and it will be fun to see just how big a thorn in GMA's side JDV will be.

Not quite as amusing to witness was the 5 hours of voting and grandstanding (10% voting, 90% grandstanding) that took place during last night's session of Congress, where the motion to declare the post of Speaker vacant was passed. Roughly half of the 225 representatives present found the need to "explain" their vote, and about 7 of them did a decent job of it. The rest could be categorized as:
  • the apologetic backstabbers (those who began by extolling the virtues of JDV, only to shift gears with "however..." and end with a vote against their "good friend");
  • the shameless suck-ups (those who lovingly kissed either JDV's or GMA's ass);
  • the sanctimonious preachers (those who kept invoking God and quoting Bible passages);
  • the campaigning showboats (those who sang their own praises and repeatedly reminded everyone that they were acting on behalf of their constituents); and
  • the angels with dirty faces (those neophytes who whipped out their ironically tired old battlecry for change, and waved their naive idealism in everyone's faces as if it absolved them of all sin).
And then there were also the long-winded, the slow talkers, the self-contradictors, and the just plain stupid. It's frightening, really, the kind of legislators our country has, few of whom can string together a coherent argument. And even more terrifying is the thought that the majority of those buffoons voted GMA's way. As one congressman put it, the separation between the executive and legislative branches of government is only something taught in school, but not observed in reality.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the handful of sensible and well-delivered speeches I did hear came from representatives who voted in favor of the status quo, or who abstained all together. My personal favorite speech was Ronnie Zamora's, wherein he blasted the whole issue as nothing more than an internal conflict within the majority, and he emphatically quoted a line from Romeo and Juliet: "A pox on both your houses!" I find it reassuring that my congressman knows his Shakespeare. San Juan represent! Woot!

Yesterday's proceedings were painfully protracted, the atmosphere was seethingly spiteful, and overall reflective of the nasty politics that permeate public office. The ill-concealed personal agendas,
the full-frontal mudslinging, the implicitly accepted culture of corruption... if the House of Representatives truly represents the Filipino people (as the campaigning showboats never tire of declaring), then it's no wonder our country's in the sordid state it's in. And changing the leader of this pack of wolves won't change anything.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Something my sister forwarded

Instructions: Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following. They have to be real places, names, and things. Nothing made up! Try to use different answers if the person who answered the survey before you had the same initial letter. You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

Your name: Aileesa

Four words: alive, afraid, ambition, adjective

State/Country: 2 places I've been-- Alaska, and Australia

Boy Name: Alistair (I like Scottish names)

Girl Name: Athena (my favorite Greek goddess)

Occupation: architect (wanted to be one a long, long time ago)

Word that describes you the best: ardent

Something you can wear: anorak (not in the Philippines though)

Something found in a kitchen: aluminum foil

Name one object that is so valuable to you: ankh pendant

Something you shout: "aray!"

Something you do/did at school: (as a student) antagonized my teachers; (as a teacher) acted like I know all the answers :p

Name of a friend: Angeline (a.k.a. Angge or Anj)

Name of an animal: aardvark (first thing that popped into my head, haha)

Name of a drink: absinthe

Name of a holiday: All Saints Day (my brother's birthday)

Name a subject in school: Araling Panlipunan (shout-out to my AP peeps ;p)

Name of a cousin: Abigail

Name of a fast food chain: Arby's (couldn't think of any local ones)

Name of a person you're crushing or had a crush on: Aleksandr Popov, the Russian Olympic swimmer

Name of a food you like: apple crumb pie

Name of a food you do not like: anchovies

Name of a kid's toy: Atari (old school!)

Name of a flowering plant: azalea

Name of a shopping mall: Ayala Center Cebu (where Arrow and Ep Espada opened their first boutiques in the Visayas... plugging, plugging!)

Name of a person you like: Angelo (despite everything ;p)

Name of a person you dislike: Allan Wu

Name of place in your school: Arrupe (a.k.a. the Jesuit residence)

Name of an object in front of you: aircon