Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best of 2008

I'm calling 2008 the year of change, not just because of Barack Obama's inspirational campaign and stirring victory, but because I saw many changes in my life and the lives of those around me.

On a more superficial level, I finally upgraded my cellphone, got a new digicam, improved my wardrobe and grooming choices, and changed hairstyles from layered to straight to layered again.

On a more meaningful level, I've learned how to stretch my patience, face moral dilemmas, deal with disappointment, and make personal sacrifices. I also managed to find more time to spend with family and friends, and at the same time wear my Kaisiao Queen crown more lightly.

I witnessed many of my friends take the big plunge into the fathoms of marriage (JB, Nikki, Mike Wong, Mishy, my cousin Bryan, Mike Acaban, Jo-an Chan, and Gerry), and my first batch of former students graduated from COLLEGE this year. My little brother graduated from UP too, and left home for the first time to study in Beijing.

I've met new people, gone new places, lived new experiences, and discovered new things about myself in the process.

True, this year I didn't post as many blog entries as in previous years, and I didn't finish a lot of books, but if anything it was only because I was too busy living my life to write about it or read about the lives of others.

But I sure was able to post a lot of photos. :)

2008 was eventful, and momentous, and memorable. At the end of it, I am grateful for the year that was, the person that I became, and the future that comes from the changes of the year past.

And now, my annual "Best of" list to cap things off:

Best day: for the past 4 years it's always been my birthday, thanks to Openness, and this year was no exception, but I have to mention 2 runners-up-- August 8, the day of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, and September 25, the day the Ateneo Blue Eagles beat the Dela Salle Green Archers for the UAAP championship
Best life-altering decision: not settling
Best world-altering result: Barack Obama winning the US presidential elections
Best (complete!) family vacation: Scandinavia/Russia/Paris
Best traveling companion: Auntie Nene
Best surprise: Openness abduction

Best gift given: autographed One Big Fight shirt for Yang (thanks to Mr. Tong and Amor the ball boy)
Best gift received: autographed One Big Fight shirt, from Mr. Tong
Best party/road trip: Nikki and Logan's wedding
Best luxury item purchased: Coach Graphic Op Art Julianne

Best new TV show: Pushing Daisies
Best sitcom to share with shobe: How I Met Your Mother
Best movie: The Dark Knight
Best actor: Heath Ledger
Best actress: Madel Ching ;D
Best sports hero: Roger Federer (runners-up: Usain Bolt and Nonoy Baclao)
Best book: The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (review to follow in 2009)
Best author: Ian McEwan
Best CD: Hairspray OST
Best song: technically not a song, but Obama's "Yes, We Can" speech set to music by Will.i.am
Best LSS (last song syndrome): "Forever", Chris Brown
Best concert: Harry Connick, Jr. at the PICC
Best show on the planet: opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics
Best object of lust: Roger Federer
Best fictional object of lust: Barney Stinson from HIMYM (runners-up: Alan Shore from Boston Legal, and Henry from Ugly Betty)
Best pedophiliac fixation: David Archuleta from American Idol
Best laughingstock: a tie between Janina San Miguel and Sarah Palin
Best fashion trend: tunic tops
Best fashion staple: stiletto pumps
Best beauty aid: Elianto Deep Sea Water Eye and Lip Makeup Remover
Best caffeine fix: lattes at Gran Caffe Casanova
Best sweet tooth treat: Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies by Roshan (thank you John Tan!)
Best 15 minutes of fame: contributing to Rick Olivares' Ateneo Blue Eagles 2008 Championship book
Best quasi-teacher activity: delivering a lecture on Business Dressing at Xavier School
Best healthy pasttime: wasting time on my roses :D
Best unhealthy pasttime: camwhoring, haha

Best new online preoccupation: www.bask3tball.com
Best blog post: my personal pick is "The Paradox of Girl Power, redux" because I feel it showcases both my writing style and political views, but feel free to let me know which of my posts you liked :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Season of love

My dear friend Angie attended a wedding recently, and she was so struck by the message from the father of the groom that she shared it with me and some friends. It went something like, "marry right, and everything else will fall into place".

The full impact of it didn't really hit me until a couple of days later, as my sister and I were discussing what we're going to get our parents for their Christmas/wedding anniversary gift. They got married on Christmas day 29 years ago, and as I marveled over that figure, i
t was then that I realized the profound truth of the message Angie related to us. Because for all the problems and trials my parents have gone through (and they've had more than their fair share) in the 29 years they've been married, I know with full certainty-- perhaps in blatant defiance of logic-- that they married right. One need only look at how things have fallen into place for them after they tied the knot: they raised 3 kids who turned out well (if I do say so myself), they built a successful business from the ground up, they have a nice house in a nice village, they've gotten many opportunities to travel the world, they are liked, respected and admired by their friends and associates, and despite some health problems, they still manage to lead active lifestyles and look deceptively young for their ages.

Sure, it hasn't been smooth sailing for all 29 years, but they've weathered all the storms so far. And while there have been days when I wonder if they might have been happier or better off married to other people, I always go back to the disquieting idea of a world without me and my siblings, and I just can't wrap my head around that. And I know by how much our parents love us that they too can't conceive (pun not intended) of an existence without the 3 of us. So as conceited as it may sound, I consider us living proof that they indeed married right.

Every 25th of December, our family not only celebrates Christmas, but also commemorates
the union of our parents. And as far as we're concerned, the fact that they married each other is the best thing that's ever happened to all of us. Now there's a Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Equal parts sitcom, Broadway musical, and Shakespearean tragedy, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a short musical film produced for the Internet by the Whedon brothers (Joss Whedon being the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and co-writer of Pixar's Toy Story). It stars the multi-talented Neil Patrick Harris as the eponymous villain (aspiring villain, at least) who talks in his video blog about applying for membership in the Evil League of Evil, as well as his long-time crush from the laundromat, Penny. While committing a robbery as part of the Evil League of Evil's screening process, Dr. Horrible runs into Penny, but brushes her aside to focus on his heist. Unfortunately, his archnemesis Captain Hammer shows up and not only foils his criminal plot, but also ends up "saving" Penny, who falls for the superhero. Dr. Horrible now has to deal with the torture of seeing the girl of his dreams swooning over a conceited, two-faced musclehead, as well as the challenge of proving himself horrible enough for acceptance into the Evil League of Evil.

The storyline is simple enough, but it's given a fresh twist by making the archetypal comic book villain a sympathetic, likable protagonist. The writing is smart and funny and not at all cheesy, even with the actors bursting into song every few minutes. And undoubtedly, the fabulous Neil Patrick Harris is the heart and soul of this production. Just as he won over audiences and critics alike as the incorrigible Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, he makes Dr. Horrible's awkward dorkiness and earnest attempts at evilness incongruously charming. The nuances in what is ostensibly a comic performance reveal both the depth of Dr. Horrible's personal conflict as well as the range of NPH's talent as an actor. It also helps he has a wonderful singing voice, which more than makes up for the somewhat flat vocals of the girl playing Penny (Felicia Day, a Buffy alum).

I wouldn't be surprised (I'd be delighted actually) if Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is made into a full-blown Broadway musical, or if sequels and spin-offs are created. And as long as NPH is somehow involved, they'll have at least one fan raving about it in her own blog.

You can watch the entirety of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog at my friend Mishy's Multiply video page. Thanks Mishy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where's a magic 8 ball when you need one?

When faced with indecision, some people toss a coin, some go eeny-meeny-miny-moe, others just go with the perceived lesser evil. I know someone who texts people "Yes or No?" with no explanation whatsoever, then tallies the responses to determine her course of action. Years ago, my best friend gave me "The Book of Answers": you're supposed to hold it in your hands as you form a question in your mind, then you open the book to a page and get your answer, which could be anything from the direct ("No.") to the vague ("Seek out more options.") to the obscure ("The answer may come to you in another language.") to the unfair ("Ask your mother."). Needless to say, I haven't really relied on it to make any potentially life-altering decisions.

In times of doubt, I turn to my usual confidantes and counselors (Raqs, Angge, Sir Tirol, and my shrink Maddy, among others). These are people whose judgment I trust implicitly, not only because I respect them to the highest degree, but also because I know they genuinely care for me and won't advise me to do anything against my best interests. But there are times when they give conflicting or varying points of view, and then I'm left to process everything and ultimately make the final call myself. Which I really hate doing.

I was raised a "good girl". Raqs and I have this running joke that obedience is one of my worst negative qualities. While I'm by no means a pushover, and I actually dislike being told what to do, I tend to be pretty good about following rules and instructions. This may sound like a positive attribute, but not when it comes to choosing a course of action for myself where the path is not laid out clearly for me. I like having direction. I like knowing I'm going down the right road. When you take away the sign posts and the needle of my compass is spinning around like crazy, I freak out.

I admit part of it is cowardice. Sometimes I know full well the right thing to do, but I just don't have the balls to do it, or own up to the responsibility or face the consequences afterward. And part of it is weakness, when I am tempted to take the wrong but easier (and/or more enjoyable) route. And yet another part is plain old stupidity, as I find myself walking down the wrong road, then midway realize I don't like where I'm headed, and try to double back. But more often than not, I'm level-headed enough to discern right from wrong, proper from improper, fair from unfair. I don't really need someone to dictate the rules to me, or read to me from an etiquette book, or lecture me on morality. But occasionally I do need someone to reaffirm what I know in my head, heart and gut to be the right thing to do... and to give me a gentle nudge (or urgent shove, if needed) down the right path.

That being said, there are still some decisions I really don't want to make. I think I'm going to have to dig out my Book of Answers...

Monday, December 15, 2008

I pity the fool

People have been asking for my thoughts on the latest controversy taking the web by storm (a la Malu Fernandez, though on a smaller scale), over an Atenean senior's blog post about her immersion experience. For the benefit of non-Ateneans, the immersion program under ADMU's Theology Department is a mandatory part of the ADMU core curriculum. Seniors taking Th141 spend a couple of days with families in different areas like farms, fishing villages, quarries, urban poor districts, etc. to get a taste of life in marginalized sectors of society. This particular Atenean who is now the subject of a lot of harsh criticism, blogged about her immersion in an Aeta community, and she pretty much had a miserable time. Her blog post reads like a Paris Hilton commentary (but a far more articulate, well-written one), and her bitching and bawling did not sit well with many people, hence the online backlash.

I have put off blogging about the student's inflammatory blog post for several reasons. First, I believe she is entitled to her opinions and feelings, no matter how repugnant they are. Second, her blog post was a locked/private entry and was meant only for her friends to read (which is also why I am refraining from posting a copy of her entry here, and why I am not naming her). Third, while I respect the objectives of and the spirit behind Ateneo's immersion program, let's face it, it is not as effectual as the Jesuits hope it to be, so we should not be surprised to come across the occasional student who did not appreciate or derive meaning from the experience. Heck, some students who DO have a positive immersion experience-- and some even rave about how it changed them-- eventually forget all about it upon returning to their comfortable lifestyles, switching off their "preferential option for the poor" and reverting to their social sinning ways. This hypocrisy is actually worse than the whining of this one girl, who was at least honest about her feelings, albeit brutally so.

In short, I don't think this student should be lambasted as extremely as she has been, and that is why I decided to finally write about it. The girl has gotten more flak than she deserves, and I'm taking up the cudgels for her. Admittedly, when I first read her blog post, my initial reaction was one of disgust and derision, but after mulling it over I realized she's been unfairly vilified (unlike the horrible Ms. Fernandez, who got what was coming to her for publishing her ugly elitist and matapobre views in a magazine). No, if this Atenean senior is guilty of anything, it's merely stupidity, for writing such insensitive and incendiary remarks in her blog, even if it was not a public post (what, she's never heard of the "print screen" key?). But I blame her careless mistake on the naivete of youth, for blindly trusting all her contacts to keep her thoughts private. Lesson learned the hard way.

I actually feel sorry for this girl. Not only has she been made the object of jeers and sneers in Internet forums, forwarded emails, and YM conversations, I bet she has had to suffer the staring, pointing and whispering of people around campus as well. Moreover, I'm sure she's agonizing over just who among her friends betrayed her by spreading the contents of her blog post. So let's stop casting stones and cut her some slack because I'm sure she feels even more miserable now than she was during her immersion.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ABC sucks

Yesterday, I was ecstatic to learn that my cousin Atsi Gue found my coveted Graphic Op Art Julianne in a Coach outlet in Singapore's airport.

Today, I was heartbroken to learn that one of my favorite TV shows, Boston Legal, has been abruptly canceled in the US. Creator and producer David E. Kelley said in an interview: "
ABC didn't want us back. It's as simple as that. They didn't even want us back for this year at all. We had to fight to get back on with 13. It's not a product they care to market."

No more Alan Shore?? No more Denny Crane?? No more cigar-and-scotch sessions on the balcony?? No more overly long, dramatic, brilliant closing arguments?? No more crazy clients and crazier judges?? No more lawyers who cross-dress, squeal and hop, and walk around with no pants?? No more shenanigans (sexual or otherwise) in the law offices of Crane, Poole and Schmidt?? No more Shirley Schmidt?? No more Denny Crane?!?!?

I hate ABC. =(

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My 25 greatest movie characters (part 2)


Scarlett O' Hara (Gone with the Wind)

Long before Paris Hilton and her celebutante ilk, there was Miss Scarlett O'Hara. She is THE Southern belle: corseted, coy, calculating, and spoiled like a child
. Scarlett is used to getting her way, but unlike the pampered princesses of today, she has an inner strength and indomitable spirit that not even the American Civil War could break. And although her iron will meets its match in the dashing Rhett Butler, and it's he who utters what is perhaps the most famous break-up line ever ("Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"), it is Scarlett who personifies the beauty, resilience and proud heritage of the South.

Indiana Jones (the Indiana Jones series)

The hat. The leather jacket. The whip. The insolent smirk. Few do not recognize Indiana Jones on sight and acknowledge him to be one of the coolest cinema icons of all time. Being an archaeologist was considered geeky and deathly boring until Indy came along, with his rugged good looks, wry sense of humor, tendency of getting into trouble, and knack for getting out of trouble. Whether it's running to avoid getting squashed by a giant boulder, escaping from a spooky Indian cult, or falling into a pit of snakes ("Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"), Indy always takes audiences on a wild ride, and it's no wonder his name has become synonymous with adventure, even in his old age.

10. King Leonidas (300)

For weeks after 300 was shown in cinemas, my guy friends were still rattling off Leonidas quotes ("Madness? THIS. IS. SPARTAAA!!"). That speaks volumes about the Spartan king's appeal. It's not just the sculpted pecs and rock-hard abs either. Leonidas' men would voluntarily up and leave their families to follow him to the pits of hell (presumably, to dine), and it takes a forceful, competent and respected leader to inspire that kind of unquestioning loyalty. Not to be mistaken for pure machismo, Leonidas' passion for battle is the true mark of a Spartan warrior ("First, you fight with your head, then you fight with your heart"), and is what makes him the epitome of a man's man. HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!

9. William Wallace (Braveheart)

I debated removing William Wallace from my list due to his many similarities with Leonidas, but I'm someone who can't watch Braveheart without crying myself silly, so I just had to include him. And the distinguishing
factor here is that the legendary Scottish figure has the added element of tragedy in his life: his young wife was slain by an English lord, spurring him to lead a ragtag group of Scots to wage battle against their English oppressors. Wallace's passion is different from Leonidas': it is rooted in love, love for his woman, and love for his country. And those trump a perfect set of 6-pack abs anyday.

8. Aragorn (the Lord of the Rings trilogy)

Yeah, yeah, I realize I ranked 3 macho men consecutively, but I can't help it. I'm a sucker for these types of heroes: brooding alpha males who can lead an entire army and who remain faithful to their lady loves. In Aragorn's case, what puts him above both Leonidas and William Wallace is the internal struggle to come to terms with who he truly is. He is heir to the throne of Gondor, but reluctant to assume the responsibility of becoming king for fear of succumbing to weakness as his ancestors did. Yet his moral compass directs him to help protect the hobbit Frodo and aid him in his quest to rid Middle Earth of Sauron's evil presence. Aragorn's passion is fueled not only by love, but by the desire to fulfill his destiny. And not only is that hot, it's also very, very awesome.

7. The Joker (The Dark Knight)

I wrote in my review of The Dark Knight that the Joker is "the consummate villain: a crazed crook with no moral center, no game plan and no remorse". Yet he is also wickedly, insanely funny, as seen here:

That's the thing about the Joker. He's mentally deranged, inhumanely brutal and all sorts of nasty, but you just can't completely hate a guy with a sense of humor, even if he is a dangerous psychopath.

6. Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)

At a time when I was being consumed with teenage cynicism, Forrest Gump single-handedly restored my faith in human goodness. Although some may attribute his gentle nature, innate kindness, and child-like trust to his being "slow", I like to think of Forrest as an infinitely better person than the smarter folk around him who wind up doing the stupidest things. A reminder of homespun values in a constantly changing modern world, Forrest proves that not all great characters have to be criminal masterminds or uber-buff, half-naked warriors.

5. Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects)

In case anyone hasn't seen The Usual Suspects (LOSERS, haha), I'll let this one go unexplained. Because anyone who HAS seen The Usual Suspects knows why I can't explain, and why Keyser Soze is da man.

James Bond (the James Bond series)

It's the tried-and-tested formula: fast cars, shaken-not-stirred martinis, games of baccarat, fancy gadgets, gorgeous girls. No one makes espionage look better than 007 (I'm NOT talking about the Daniel Craig incarnation). Women want him, men want to be him. Granted, Bond's a relic from the sexist, misogynistic ages (as M put it in Goldeneye), but there's no denying the universal appeal of a man who's sharp, suave, cheats death at every turn, and always saves the day. Who needs feminism when you can have Bond, James Bond?

3. Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)

Very few movie villains are half as chilling as Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter. The cultured criminals are always the most frightening, not only because of their misleading genteel veneers, but because of the deadly potential of their intellects. Hannibal Lecter is the supreme psychopath:
not only does he deny access to the dark recesses of his mind, he can get in others' heads and toy with them, being a psychiatrist himself, and a brilliant one at that. Although obviously an extremely disturbed individual, this cannibalistic serial killer who enjoys his human liver with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti is coolly cerebral and rarely displays emotion, and it's this quietly sinister aura-- along with the incongrous mix of barbarism and refinement-- that scares the bejeezus out of me.

2. Yoda (the Star Wars series)

Oh come on. Do I even need to say anything? It's YODA.

1. Don Vito Corleone (the Godfather trilogy)

Nobody else but THE Godfather could top my list. Although technically it's Michael Corleone who's the center of the Godfather trilogy, it's his father who's the enduring symbol of everything that is fascinating and cool about the Mafia. Vito Corleone is wise, dignified, generous, a man of his word, loyal to his friends, devoted to his family, and respected across the 5 boroughs of New York. It's easy to forget he's actually head of a crime syndicate. He helps anyone who asks for it, kills anyone who crosses him,
and is not controlled by anyone-- he holds the strings, he calls the shots. And when he makes you an offer, you simply cannot refuse. Vito Corleone is a criminal genius, a businessman, a gentleman, a gangster, and dare I say it, a flawed hero. He's a study in contradictions, a reflection of all that's good and bad in human nature, a reflection of all of that we aspire and avoid to be. That's what makes him the greatest character-- and biggest badass-- in film history.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My 25 greatest movie characters (part 1)

Empire magazine has published a list of "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters", to wit:

25. Yoda (Empire Strikes Back)
24. Ash (Evil Dead)

23. Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry)
22. Red (The Shawshank Redemption)
21. Michael Corleone (The Godfather series)
20. Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)
19. Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)
18. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)

17. Hans Gruber (Die Hard)

16. Neo (The Matrix trilogy)

15. Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
14. The Terminator (The Terminator series)

13. Gollum (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)

12. John McClane (Die Hard series)

11. James Bond (007 series)

10. Vito Corleone (The Godfather I & II)

9. Ellen Ripley (Alien quadrology)

8. Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy)

7. The Dude (The Big Lebowski)

6. Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones series)

5. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)

4. Han Solo (Star Wars trilogy)
3. The Joker (The Dark Knight)

2. Darth Vader (Star Wars series)

1. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

However, the guys at Yahoo! Movies took issue with Empire's selection, so they drew up a list of their own:

25. Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)
24. Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

23. Tony Manero (Saturday Night Fever)

22. Dr. Evil (Austin Powers series)

21. Mad Max (Mad Max trilogy)

20. Annie Wilkes (Misery)

19. John Rambo (Rambo series)

18. Superman (Superman, Superman II)

17. Popeye Doyle (The French Connection)

16. Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels (Tootsie)

15. Jake La Motta (Raging Bull)

14. Annie Hall (Annie Hall)

13. Will Kane (High Noon)

12. Norma Desmond (Sunset Blvd.)

11. Harry Lime (The Third Man)

10. Gordon Gekko (Wall Street)

9. Yojimbo (Yojimbo, Sanjuro)

8. Tracy Flick (Election)

7. T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)

6. Colonel Kurtz (Apocalypse Now)

5. Shaft (Shaft)

4. Jake Gittes (Chinatown)

3. Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany's)

2. Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid series)

1. The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin's films)

Allow me to jump into the fray and present my personal picks for the top 25. To make things easier, I didn't consider any non-fictional characters (e.g. Tony Montana as portrayed by Al Pacino, Queen Elizabeth as portrayed by Cate Blanchett, Oskar Schindler as portrayed by Liam Neeson). Moreover, I excluded characters in film adaptations who are more strongly identified with the original literary work (e.g. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, and Harry Potter), and I exempted icons who in my mind belong in some kind of character Hall of Fame (the likes of King Kong, Dracula, E.T., and the Wicked Witch of the West). I also tried to limit myself to one name per movie/movie franchise (otherwise my list would be overpopulated with Star Wars characters), one character per actor (or Al Pacino might hog several slots), and I nixed well-known characters from movies I have yet to watch (e.g. Dirty Harry, Rocky Balboa, The Terminator, et al).

My main criteria: 1) the character is larger-than-life, and "bigger" than the actor playing him/her; 2) the character's name is instantly familiar to most people; 3) the character is often used as a pop culture reference; and 4) the character is just too frickin' cool.

25. Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride)

Inigo really should be higher up on the list, but since The Princess Bride is one of those American cult classics that few Filipinos have seen, I didn't think he'd resonate with my readers. In any case I included him in my top 25 because he is the most amusing combination of at least 3 film archetypes: the henchman, the sidekick, and the avenger. AND because of the immortal line: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Inigo Montoya has the skill of a master swordsman and the soul of a poet, and while he's not the real hero of the fairy tale, he certainly stands out as the guy who's even cooler than the hero (sorry Westley).

24. Derek Zoolander (Zoolander)

Two words: Blue Steel. 'Nuff said.

23. Mrs. Doubtfire (Mrs. Doubtfire)

While I was tempted to go with my personal favorite Robin Williams character (John Keating from Dead Poets Society), I decided to go with Mrs. Doubtfire instead because a) she's a character within a character who's actually more memorable than the "real" character; b) she's wonderfully warm and maternal yet strong and ballsy (I guess that's understandable); and c) I thought it would be nice to have at least one cross-dresser on my list.

22. Castor Troy (Face/off)

Played by 2 very different actors, terrorist-for-hire Castor Troy still comes through as a personality all his own, like a life force that's too potent to be contained in any one body. Reckless, remorseless and a ticking time-bomb of psychosis, Castor belongs to that rare breed of villain who by all accounts should be totally despicable, yet instead of hating him, you end up in stitches over his devilish antics and in awe of how he operates. Plus, it's actually touching how he looks out for his kid brother Pollux... albeit touching in a twisted way, as twisted as Castor Troy himself.

Agent Smith (the Matrix trilogy)

Of all the cool Matrix characters (Morpheus being the coolest of the lot), why did I go with Agent Smith? Because not since Will Smith donned a suit and Ray Bans in Men in Black has dressing like a spook been so impressive. And because no one has uttered someone's name so robotically yet so menacingly as Agent Smith drawls "Mis...ter Andersonnn." Ruthless and relentless, Agent Smith is the last person (or computer program) you'd want hunting you down, in the Matrix or out-- don't let the receding hairline fool you.

Maria (The Sound of Music)

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Kick her out of the convent and send her to become a governess to 7 difficult children. The ultimate super-nanny, Maria sings, plays guitar, climbs trees and sews playclothes out of drapes... and in the process becomes her wards' best friend AND makes their handsome father fall in love with her. And that's in spite of her horrible androgynous hairstyle too.

Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)

The quintessential Woo Girl (and if you don't know what a Woo Girl is you gotta start watching How I Met Your Mother), Elle is the lovable dumb blonde who proves that not only is she not that dumb, she has a heart of gold to match her hair. Elle reminds us that not all blond bombshells are Paris Hiltons and Jessica Simpsons, and that we should never judge a babe by her Prada pumps.

18. Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany's)

This one's a classic. Oversized shades, upswept 'do, LBD, strands of pearls, long black gloves, and coffee and a breakfast roll in a brown bag-- who doesn't recognize the gorgeous girl standing in front of the window of Tiffany's? Given any other woman, Holly's flighty nature and carefree (almost careless) lifestyle would seem improbably irresponsible and irritating, but because of her odd mix of naivete and street smarts, she just comes off as gosh-darn charming.

17. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

The first rule of Fight Club is, we do not talk about Fight Club. But let's talk about Tyler Durden, Fight Club's founder. This soap salesman-by-day, brawler-by-night is a loose cannon, unfettered by morality, and acts with absolute disregard for the rules of society. Tyler is hellbent on wreaking mayhem on the world as part of some kind of anarchistic/nihilistic movement, but scarily, he actually makes sense in the brutal, coldly pragmatic dogma he preaches to his battered brethren. Soap has never been so subversively destructive.

16. Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

Only the slickest, savviest, and luckiest high school kid in the history of cinema could pull off the craziest day of playing hooky in the history of playing hooky. Ferris Bueller's boy-next-door looks are deceiving, and they probably help him get away with such outlandish stunts as sneaking
onto a float and performing "Twist and Shout" in a big city parade, or convincing his best friend to "borrow" his dad's Ferrari. All this while successfully eluding his school's angry dean, his spiteful sister, and his clueless father. As a former teacher, I'd never condone playing hooky, but as a former student, I gotta give mad props to Ferris Bueller.

Dr. Evil (the Austin Powers series)

Dr. Evil edged out the eponymous hero by virtue of being funnier, stupider, and dorkier. Indeed, he's so frickin' dorky, he's frickin' cool. Besides, what other supervillains have a clone 1/8 their size?

14. C
aptain Jack Sparrow (the Pirates of the Caribbean series)

Johnny Depp has played many a memorable character (Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, and Sweeney Todd, among others), but Jack Sparrow stands out as the most audacious, irrepressible and wildly entertaining of the lot. He swaggers, he swashbuckles, he swears like... well, like a pirate, and he wears dreadlocks and guyliner. Part drunken rock star, part unwashed street rat, he's a dirty rotten scoundrel who can't seem to stop himself from doing the right thing, even when his innate selfishness and cowardice direct him otherwise. It's this battle within that makes him such a lovable anti-hero, and arguably the coolest morally questionable Disney character of all time.

13. Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Scent of a Woman)

He can assemble a firearm in seconds, drive the hell out of a Porsche, make love to beautiful women, and dance a helluva sexy tango. And oh yeah, he's blind. Frank Slade is a wounded man both physically and psychologically, but he's also a tough-as-nails SOB. I've practically memorized the fiery speech he delivers at the end of the movie ("If I were the man I was 5 years ago, I'd take a flame-thrower to this place!!"). Ultimately though, Frank Slade's charisma stems from the generous and compassionate spirit that dwells underneath the bile and bravado
, and the vulnerability they barely conceal.


Thursday, December 04, 2008


You know you're getting old when you're attending a friend's wedding every other week. It seems like half the people I know got married or are getting married this year, not to mention I have THREE more weddings to go to in the first 2 weeks of January '09. It's an epidemic!

While I'm genuinely happy for my friends who have taken the plunge into the deep fathoms of marriage, there are 3 things that tick me off about this endless wedding blitz: 1) I have to keep buying new dresses because I don't want to be photographed wearing the same thing over and over again; 2) I have to keep bracing myself for those inane, mortifying bouquet-garter games; and 3) I have to keep listening to my mother's increasingly grating see-everyone-else-is-getting-married-and-you're-getting-left-behind spiel.

Oh, and a 4th peeve: corny wedding reception emcees who speak in barok English. Which is one reason I really enjoyed the most recent wedding I attended (Mike and Marga's)-- the groom's older brother was one of the emcees at the reception, and he was just hilarious, dispensing with formalities and poking fun at Mike, their family and even the guests throughout the evening. I find it a nice touch when a wedding is very personalized in that sense.

In spite of my wedding weariness, I am practically giddy with anticipation for this Sunday, when my high school barkada Jo is getting married to Selwyn, a high school batchmate of ours. It's one of a handful of interbatch unions, which means there will be several familiar faces among the guests. What's more exciting is that our barkada's balikbayan Bev will be here for the wedding, just a day after she arrives from Canada with her hubby Dave, whom we will all be meeting for the first time. It's been 7 years since we last saw Bev, so I think I know which will be the noisiest table at the reception this Sunday.

* * *

Aside from weddings, know what else I'm sick of? Twilight. And I haven't even read the book, nor seen the movie. I'm just sick of hearing and reading about it, from my students' blogs to reviews in the newspapers. All the hype is turning me off it, even if some friends are urging me to give it a shot (which is also why I have steered clear of Gossip Girl). I don't understand why I'd want to devolve into a squealy teenage girl when I'm already nearing my late 20s, and why I'd waste my time on inferior literature
(my best friend said she only got as far as page 10 of Twilight before she couldn't stomach any more) when there are thousands of truly great books I have yet to read (my reading list is not getting any shorter).

However, in the interest of fairness, I am considering reading Stephanie Meyer's celebrated novel (if you can call it that) if only so I can critique it. I have a feeling I'll enjoy picking it apart just as I did Christopher Paolini's overrated Eragon and its disastrous follow-up Eldest... which reminds me, the last installment in the trilogy, Brisingr, has already hit bookstore shelves. Maybe I should indulge my inner teenage boy first and read Brisingr before sinking my teeth into Twilight (pun very much intended).

* * *

And aside from Jo and Sel's wedding this Sunday, I'm also looking forward to learning the results of the Pacquiao-De la Hoya match. I bet my dad the price of my Nokia E71 (there's a story behind that, I'll get to it later) De la Hoya will win, even if he's older and not as agile as our Pinoy pugilist. And call me unpatriotic but I'm also rooting for De la Hoya to win, not only because I used to have a crush on him when he was younger, but also because I really don't like Manny Pacquiao, as my more loyal bloghounds know by now (see this and this and this).

Anyway, I wouldn't mind losing the bet with my dad because he refuses to let me pay for my new cell phone (which I love, love, love). I had asked him to help me find an E71 that is Chinese text-enabled, so he contacted a friend with a cell phone supplier in Hong Kong, who sold us the unit I'm now using. My dad paid him for me already, and won't let me pay him back. I even tried transferring the amount from my bank account to his, but he had instructed our bank manager not to process the transaction, phooey. So the only way I can pay for my own phone is if Pacquiao manages to beat De la Hoya.

And if De la Hoya beats Pacquiao, then I might have to get my dad a P40,000 Christmas gift.

* * *

Speaking of Christmas presents, I just found out that the Graphic Op Art Julianne I was going to gift myself with is now sold out in all Coach stores and distribution centers. I am one heartbroken bag hag. =(

* * *

And in case any of you are wondering, our village still hasn't taken down the "yellow curve" signs, even after I faxed them a letter pointing out the error. I'm giving them up to the end of the month, then the Sharpie's coming out...