Saturday, June 30, 2012

Counting the days

Manohla Dargis loved it. Magic Mike opens in Manila theaters on July 11.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Things I love: Pocket

Pocket in Google Chrome
Pocket is really just a fancy way to present your bookmarked websites but the difference is with Pocket, you get to access your bookmarks across your iOS or Android devices and desktop computers in a well-organized and -presented format.
Pocket on the iPad
In all my years as a desktop user, I've never used my computer's bookmark function extensively, aside from placing my heavily visited websites in my browser's toolbar. Pocket has changed all that, mostly because it's pretty :-)
Listed format
The links are spread beautifully in a magazine-type layout, or you may choose to arrange them in a list (say, if you need to quickly go through your archive). Instead of categorizing and consequently, hiding your bookmarks inside foldersmost probably, never to be seen again—Pocket allows you to 'tag' your content, which is a better way of organizing your bookmarks, and still see your links on your homepage.
You may also filter your content according to text/articles, videos, or images;
or those which you've marked as 'favorites' or 'read' (or archived). A bulk edit button enables you to tag, mark as favorite, archive and delete several bookmarks at once.
For articles, you have a choice to view it as it was on the original website, or just pare it down to the article and photos.
You may also share your links via email, Twitter, Facebook, and other integrated apps, and adjust the font, font size, brightness and contrast settings as you can on iBooks or Kindle:
Overall, it's an awesome way to organize your online faves. Get Pocket for your Apple, Android or web browser here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This is me exhaling

Three years. That was how long my last relationship was. During our time, I thought I've improved so much, that I've become way better than the person I was in the relationship before him––and yes, I gave myself a pat on the back for that––but alas, I learned that there are more things which I have to learn.
The hardest thing is meeting new persons. I cringe at the slightest introduction, small talk, and show of affection. When I'm on a date, I see myself as the third party: there's the new guy and there's me––oh, there's me––commenting on the film, commenting on the food, commenting on the interiors, commenting on his job, commenting on my life, smiling blankly.
Yes, there was me.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Bulgogi Brothers

I haven't tried Korean food ever, so I was pretty excited when Jill asked us if we wanted to have dinner at Bulgogi Brothers, a Korean barbecue-style restaurant. (Bulgogi literally means 'fire meat.' Yakiniku, which Pinoys are more familiar with, is the Japanese variant.) Located in Greenbelt 5, the restaurant is the first international location of the South Korean franchise and it is proving to be popular among the locals with the many good reviews I've heard about the place, as well as the good, constant stream of customers who were eating there last Saturday night. (They don't accept reservations; I suggest you come as early as 6:30 p.m. on weekends.)
Since the experience would be a novelty for me, I decided to pretend to be a food blogger and document as much as I can. This also meant I was pretty much made fun of throughout the entire dinner by being pressured to take photos as quickly as I can before friends attack the food :-p
While waiting for a table to become available, the staff gave me and Tatin (Jill and Pam weren't there yet) a half-full glass of iced tea each, which I thought was really nice of them (Of course, there were the jokes about the glasses being half-empty but still we appreciated the gesture.) The wait also gave us enough time to decide on what to order.
We settled on the Bulgogi Brothers Special because after all, this is what you should really come to this restaurant for:
Brothers Special, P1,495, and all pink and beautiful
On the menu, it says this is good for 2-3 persons but I can tell you, it's absolutely filling for four persons with a reasonable appetite. I personally hate it when restaurants advertise their dishes to be good for XX persons but which would later prove to be an overestimation once they serve the food (attention: Blackbeard Seafood Island) but Bulgogi Brothers definitely chose to err on the side of customer satisfaction; I'd be wowed if two persons would be able to finish this on their own in one sitting. (If you've got a really healthy appetite, then yes, I guess three is a good count.)
The meat is grilled through a chic induction plate at the center of your table by the waiter herself, which is a great thing because I tire myself at yakiniku-style restaurants. The ventilation system though, could use some improvement. The smoke unfortunately blew toward my direction the entire time. (But generally, the ventilation was still okay, and not as bad as the ones in Pepper Lunch.)
Meanwhile, appetizers, which come with the special, were served: salad with kimchi dressing (our guess; none of the staff seemed to know what was on it); pickled radish and eggplant; and of course, the Korean soap opera staple, kimchi. We asked for seconds of the pickled radish and the staff happily obliged at no extra cost. (They offer free, unlimited servings of the appetizers and house tea.)
They also serve this corn, sweet potato, and quail eggs appetizer plate (a peculiar but visually interesting combination); and oksusu cha (corn tea) on the house.
For good measure and carbs, we also ordered Sogogi Japchae (P350), which is glass noodles, beef, tteokbokki (sticky rice noodle), and onions, seasoned with soy sauce.
I enjoyed everything on my plate. I love my vegetables, and pungent sauces and spices (e.g., bagoong), so the kimchi and the rest of the side dishes were a welcome assault to my tastebuds. Our meat were grilled well done, thanks to the expert handling of Kaye, our waiter. The seasoning was just enough to flavor and salt the beef but in no way did it overpower the star. The tteokbokki (below) was chewy and a yummy discovery.
The entire staff seemed to be very happy to be doing their jobs––they were quick, alert, and attentive the whole time.
At the end of our meal, they came in carrying a basket of Korean frozen desserts:
I picked the classic Melona, and Pam's Samanco Ice Cream Fish was the most riveting (and huge too): a wafer fish filled with vanilla ice cream and red beans:
Don't you just love the Polish Police's nail polish?
Our total bill amounted to P3,109.91. I'd be happy to be back and try their alcohol next time.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My virtual triangle

My virtual 'triangle' is pretty much a fort:
Home, work, and some of the nearest malls
I don't normally go out of my zone––that is, the cities of Mandaluyong and Makati. Whenever friends invite me to far-flung provinces like Eastwood or Katipunan (lol), I ask if I need a visa.
I grew up always being 30 minutes away from wherever I needed to go––except in college, and my commute to the university and the adjustment it entailed proved to be very taxing for me. (Or at least that was my perspective, until I met classmates who were commuting to Diliman from as far as Alabang every day.)
My dream is for EDSA to have a covered pedestrian bridge that traverses the entire length of the highway. I honestly think people would walk provided pathways are unobstructed, well-lit, and secure. (Here's an idea: convert the MRT into a moving walkway :-P I'm half-joking.) I also wish we'd utilize our waterways, specifically the Pasig River. When I read the reasons why operations of the previous ferry service was stopped, I'm thinking, it's not the Gaza strip; surely, we can come to a solution here?
I think these would take the stress off city travel fears––such as traffic, cab drivers, and the MRT, which on any time of the day, continues to defy physics, i.e., no two bodies may occupy the same space at the same time––and help tear down our virtual walls.
(Meanwhile, I worry that an entire government's term is being spent on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the extension of LRT lines alone. If we do receive an increase in tourist arrivals––say in the millions, thanks to a fun advertising campaign––they are all expected to ride taxis or private cars since no public transport directly connects the airport to the heart of the city [realistically speaking]. So our roads do what?)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The art of being vague

I stumbled on this amazing article some time ago. It argues that the Internet, in fact, curtails serendipity. Sounds crazy, right? Well,

In 1952 a French sociologist called Paul-Henry Chombart de Lauwe asked a student to keep a journal of her daily movements. When he mapped her paths onto a map of Paris he saw the emergence of a triangle, with vertices at her apartment, her university and the home of her piano teacher. Her movements, he said, illustrated “the narrowness of the real Paris in which each individual lives”.

To some degree, the hopes of the internet’s pioneers have been fulfilled. You type “squid” into a search engine, you land on the Wikipedia page about squid, and in no time you are reading about Jules Verne and Pliny. But most of us use the web in the manner of that Parisian student. We have our paths, our bookmarks and our feeds, and we stick closely to them. We no longer “surf” the information superhighway, as it has become too vast to cruise without a map. And as it has evolved, it has become better and better at ensuring we need never stray from our virtual triangles.
There are days when the Internet does produce ennui––I guess, the sensation is pretty much the same as seeing your closet and still feeling devoid of choice. Personally, I experience it when my favorite blogs do not update in days and I'm left with 'nothing' new to read. (Yes, I'm looking at you. *Side eye on those blogs on the bottom left*)

In any case, what I love about the article is this:

Serendipity is the virtue of being vague! When you're all being [as by-product] indecisive as my friends and I always are when faced with the question, "Where do we eat?" there is now an excuse!

    • "Oh, but the delay is me expanding the horizon of possibilities"
    • "We may be getting hungry but I am nourishing my inner flΓ’neur."
    • "Respect my freedom to stray from my virtual triangle."
    • "I am defying my homophilic tendencies."
    • "I am bursting my filter bubble."

Of course, your friends are also free to serendipitously find their fist on your face.

Read, In Search of Serendipity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shifting allegiances

I had a realization earlier this month. I have both the hardcover and ebook versions of Mockingjay, the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy. I started with a few pages of the hardcover until later, I felt I was getting quite stressed trying to read the book in bed: it tired my fingers to hold it steady; as usual, it was hard to keep the book open to the first few pages; I have episodes of rhinitis because of the dust––and these were details I never stressed about before! By 'before,' I meant the time when I haven't finished two other ebooks on my iPad yet. By 'before,' I meant the time when I waxed poetic about paper and its smell.

Who is this new person?! :-P

A graphic ebook title: Tabi Po by Mervin Malonzo

Needless to say, I ended up reading the rest of the novel on my tablet. It's ultra convenient: I don't need to hold it even when in bed––my iPad cover props it up for me; I don't need to surf the net whenever I encounter difficult words since iBooks and the Kindle app have their built-in dictionary; and I can continue with my reading anywhere and not worry about having to lug around a heavy book (or in this case, being seen reading what may be perceived as an embarrassing title :-P). On the downside, it's much easier for me to get distracted, such as when I just had to place a face on Finnick and google actors and models. (I'm thinking Patrick Schwarzenegger... or Marat Safin, lol.)

As for the price, some titles are relatively cheaper to buy in Amazon. I mean, have a look at my Amazon wishlist (subtlety, haha). Digital publishing has also given opportunities to writers like Iggy Atienza, who in December 2011, released her very own book, The Thrifty Mom's Guide to Style. (Still available for purchase; just click on the title.)

I remain amazed by how technology continues to change our lifestyle at breakneck speed. I mean, these are things I never imagined in college, and just last week, Tatin told me about a story she's working on about local schools beginning to roll out tablets to replace textbooks and exams on paper. (I'll post the link on Twitter once it's published.) These are things that make me feel old, too. :-P

I belatedly realized that there are some books that just wouldn't look right except on paper, say Catcher in the Rye.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fother's Day

I got locked out of the house last Saturday when I out with R in Eastwood only to realize later, back in my neighborhood, that I left my keys inside the house.

At first, I tried to pick the lock open with my credit card, a trick that used to work in my old apartment, but this time, the door wouldn't budge and skin has peeled off my fingers, forming into blisters. The exercise also made me realize that should a robber attempt to force his way inside the house, the neighbors wouldn't care less. I spent about 15 minutes huffing and puffing noisily outside my door and none of my neighbors did as much as open their lights.

Before the lockout, in Eastwood

I needed to use the toilet, so I went with R to his place, where one guy, a drinking buddy of his younger brother, called me 'Zanjoe Marudo' and declared that he was going to sleep naked because he was drunk.

The last time a complete stranger compared my looks to a celebrity, it was to Sarah Geronimo.

As I needed a place to crash for the night, I briefly considered this motel, for which R has a 20 percent discount, but I remembered how, at one time, a friend and his partner were lined up in the motel lobby when they bumped into another friend who was checking in with his date, too. Should an acquaintance find me in a motel, of course, I can come clean and say I was locked out of the house, but since the start of the year, I've been quite unsure of my reputation.

I then texted Jill to check if she were still awake. As it was close to 3 a.m., it helped to know I have friends who are insomniac. Generously, she did offer her place for the night, and Pam and Giff were there too. R helped me get a cab and at this point, Manila was feeling the brunt of Typhoon Butchoy. It was a wet and long drive to Cainta, and it amused me that my cab fare was nearing P300 (US$7) because that's when I know I'm really faaar from my place.

Thanks to Jill, who owns Oh Shoot! toy camera shop, I also finally learned what Depth of Field means.

At Jill's we watched 21 Jumpstreet (by the way, an excellent movie remake of the the TV show), and now, I can't decide if I should add Channing Tatum to my list, which consists of Tom Hardy and Joe Manganiello. Jill was also generous enough to offer me a change of clothes and toothbrush.

I took a shower and reused my underwear out of respect for Jill's pajamas. At lights off, I had the opportunity to go through several pages of Mockingjay and which I happily finished yesterday—that is, I'm happy to be done with it.

While I wasn't that impressed with the story, The Hunger Games trilogy, which is about a 17 year-old female who fights to the death in a reality TV show, has done wonders to cut back my whining. For example, I may have had a difficult time showering because of the blisters on my finger but really, what is that compared to Katniss being chased by half-human, half-mutts in the middle of the jungle?

We wake up in the afternoon and have a hearty lunch, wherein Pam and I discussed Pinoy food in the global setting in light of Andrew Zimmern's statement that "Filipino food is the next big thing." She said that there's a really good Filipino restaurant in Queens, New York but noted that diners were generally Pinoy. I munched on my breaded pork chop.

Back at Jill's room, we watched the low-budget gay film, You Should Meet My Son, a comedy about a mother going to great lengths to find her son a boyfriend. I think I'd generally have a heart attack should Ma begin to post stuff on gay dating websites in my behalf and cruise gay bars to find dinner dates for me.

Much later, after eating dinner, showering, changing to my original clothes and wearing the same underwear after three consecutive showers, and debating with myself what good etiquette says about being given a toothbrush (Do I bring it home with me? Or do I leave it on the bathroom counter in case I find myself sleeping over at her place again? I went with the latter), we went out for desserts in Cafe Breton in Ortigas. The typhoon weather made us realize how Podium mall is poorly designed particularly for the rainy season with its short driveway and limited awning.

In Breton, I've decided to change my default order from La Delice to butter and sugar crepe with almonds and vanilla ice cream on the side after seeing most of my friends repeatedly order it. Not only is it cheaper but it is 50 times better than Delice.

Heaven on a plate

I went home around 12 midnight happy for having averted what would have been a crisis, thanks to friends, but even happier for having gotten to change to a newly laundered underwear.

Rock of Ages and Snow White & the Huntsman

Rock of Ages is cute at its best and cheesy at its worst.

Rating: 3/10

It didn't help that I knew zilch about the Broadway musical. Halfway through the show, I thought, "Why is this movie 'ripping' off too many covers from Glee?!" As Tatin noted, Glee may have ruined it for me as she and Pam enjoyed the film a lot.

* * * * 

Snow White and the Huntsman

Friends found the bulk of the movie, i.e.,  Dark Forest sojourn, slow and long-drawn-out but personally I didn't mind, thanks to a pleasing visual experience that involved sinister trees, screeching gargoyles, and Chris Hemsworth. (By the way, props to the director and screenwriters for the restraint they showed in not undressing Chris in any of the scenes. It was like saying the film's visual effects need not be aided by well-defined abs.)

The best of them all images however is Charlize Theron and yes, I need to go where everyone has: In what universe is Kristen fairer than Charlize? It didn't help that she perhaps, is the best-dressed Evil Queen of all time, showing up in skeletal sleeves during her coronation and later, bringing out the guns during her reign with dramatic long gowns in black crystals, sequins and spiked chainmails, and worn with high collars and matching cape in rooster feathers. (Costume was designed by Academy Award winner Colleen Atwood but next year's Oscar might go to Eiko Ishioka [posthumous] who designed for the other 2012 Snow White movie and who has done other amazing things herself.)

A couple of the Evil Queen's choice couture from her arsenal of amazing wardrobe.
Credits: Vanity Fair (left); Movie Fanatic

It's also amazing what she can do with her accent, bringing sophistication and evil to what may have been a potentially corny "Mirror, mirror on the wall..." (See 0:44 of the trailer. PS: Note how Angelina Jolie, meanwhile, was berated by film critics for her attempt to do the same as Grendel's mother in Beowulf... or actually, in most of her other movies.) Seeing Charlize in this role is more than worth seeing the movie.

As for Kristen, I like the shade of her red lips.

Rating: 9/10 especially for Charlize and her wardrobe

Monday, June 11, 2012

On a happier note

Shangri-La Mall

This photo reminds me of our flag.

Tomorrow is a non-working holiday in celebration of the country's independence day. Random factoid: The first essay-writing contest I won was for the celebration of our centennial independence. Ironically, I argued that we have never really been freethe social illnesses that Jose Rizal wrote about in Noli Me Tangere were still pervasive until present.

Further reading:

Liwanag at Dilim

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Fine day

Makati Ave
May 2012

I miss you, grief-stricken weather.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Love of Siam

Rating: 7/10

The Love of Siam is a Thai romantic film that centers on two high school boys who've developed quite a bond with one another. Released in 2007, it was a critical and commercial success, so much so that the movie eventually ended up in our shores via the Internet (I don't think it was released in the theaters here.); and one of its stars, Mario Maurer, became an endorser of local clothing brand, Penshoppe.

I've heard of this movie, often haphazardly mentioned by friends, Internet forums and blogs. Personally, I'm wary of 'gay' films because it normally means having lead characters suffering from so much sexual tension in the first half of the movie that in the other half, they do nothing else but mate like rabbits (often, with even more rabbits). Hence, I never bothered watching the movie until yesterday.

What do you know, I bawled like a baby as the end credits rolled.

It's funny because practically throughout the entire film, I kept criticizing the story for having too many plots and side stories. Each character—there must have been a total of 10—was well-developed, too much in fact, that each had their own little dramas and conflicts to deal with. I thought the story could have done with more editing and focused on one theme instead. (In the film's Wikipedia page, the movie is criticized for not having been marketed as a 'gay' film. My theory is that the many story arcs in the movie, which cover marital problems, alcoholism, obsessions, music, friendship, puppy love, death, and family, AMONG OTHERS, was an attempt to diffuse the attention from the evolving romance between the two lead actors if indeed, there was an attempt from the producer/director to tone down the gay theme to ensure commercial success. Also, I'm not sure how accepted gays are in Bangkok, but based on the movie, it seems the same as in Manila—generally tolerated.)

The film ends up branching off course the main theme several times in order to (unnecessarily) develop the characters' sub-plots. This means that while I'm more interested in seeing the romance between the two leads bloom, I am disrupted by stories that are brewing elsewhere in the timeline. It is frustrating because they muddle a beautiful love story.

Oh, but how beautiful it was: young love that is unhurried—there's a virtue for you. [Spoiler: highlight to view] There was such pureness in the tension between the two leads that the consummation of their desires amounted to nothing more than the pressing of their lips. Indeed, it required nothing more.[Spoiler ends.]

I cried because it pained me to think how society makes it so hard for such beautiful love to be possible.

You may watch the movie in its entirety here:

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Emperor of All Maladies

Things I learned from The Emperor of All Maladies, a book about cancer:

  • Curing cancer almost sounds futile. Cancer cells behave like normal cells. The challenge is to find chemicals that would know how to differentiate the two.
  • The problem is cancer cells are smart-asses. Aside from mimicking normal cells, they replicate like crazy and they can move to or hijack other organs. On a molecular level, there are cancer cells that are so smooth so cancer-killing chemicals can't anchor onto them. Scientists have to inspect them even more closely just to find a trench or a pocket into which their drugs may fit. This also means they need to discover/create drugs whose molecular structure and shape would fit into such trenches.
  • Yes, it's that complicated. (What's that about your Facebook relationship status again?)
  • In ancient Egypt, a queen felt so much pain from her breast cancer she ordered her slave to cut off her breasts.
  • In the late 1800s, radical mastectomy was the norm. Pioneered by William Halstead, the surgery meant to remove not just the breast but as much of the tissues and muscles surrounding the breast, chest, shoulders, and armpits. Women who underwent the procedure were left severely disfigured and hollow in those areas. The Halstead surgery persisted  as recently as the 1950s.
  • We have come a long way since then in a shorter period of time. 
  • The book's author thus argues that it may take this generation (or the next) even much shorter time to find a cancer cure.
  • By the way, it's impossible to have one cure for all cancer types. All must be dealt with differently.
  • In my view, if you've survived cancer, you are extremely lucky. It took a series a fortunate events and accidents for that to have happened.
  • In my case, if ever I get it, I hope I can be as graceful as this article suggests: How Doctors Die 
  • I learned a lot but yeah, why did I read this book?


Skull beads; Rhino Force charity bracelet
From Pam's South Africa trip :-)

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