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Banana Republic December 4, 2007

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On days when I find myself working from home, I cannot get by writing without my daily meryenda of turon. I have long been a fan (a close second to banana-cue) but it’s just recently I came to know of a sari-sari store a few steps away from my house that sells the precious stuff.

Just the way I like it –  not-too-big slabs of banana inside the wrapping, just the right amount of that caramelized brown sugar. Others go crazy for barbecue or isaw (grilled pig or chicken innards), the unassuming turon harks me back to my grade school days. There was this cheerful lady (in fact, a distant relative) who never fails to greet me whenever I pass by from school evert afternoon. She’ll flash me that toothless yet winsome smile and shout to me gleefully, “Oi apo, bisa kang turon?” – in my local dialect, that simply translates to offering me my favorite meryenda. And apo is a sort of term of endearment that means I’m such a handsome little boy (okay, forget the first adjective).

Many years forward,  I’ve witnessed my precious banana confection promoted to restaurant fare say, turon with ice cream. For me, though, I like my turon the way I’ve known it since – little pieces I could munch on happily with not a worry in the world.

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Blog Revival November 29, 2007

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Sayang. In Filipino, that means …uhm, “What a waste!”. Which is exactly why I’m reviving this blog and hopefully be patient enough to keep it going. The last post was like a year ago? Man, a lot has happened since then.

Technically, though, I’ve been blogging as part of work – I think was with my former company when I created this blog. I’ve created blogs since then (all of them on Blogger, apologies Mr. WordPress) but all ended up zilch, stale, discontinued….like this one. It’s ironic I even titled it Daily Dose.

So there, I’ll have a go at it again a year after. Otherwise, it’s just sayang.

Let’s talk about sex September 5, 2006

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Sex sells. That’s a given, whether in journalism and now, not surprisingly, blogging. Some Chinese bloggers admit that blogging about sex does drive traffic into their sites. In a land where the government censors the Internet (a paradox, really, considering China opening itself to global trade), that is indeed an interesting fact.

There are those that express disdain for bloggers who are narcissistic enough (y’know, someone who writes, ‘I woke up early today and thought I saw someone I knew while riding the MRT’…like who cares about it?).

But if the post is something like, ‘I was riding the train this morning when I saw this hot b**** in a sexy top and..’ (something to that effect) and garnishes it further with actual photos – it could generate a second look.

I should be so unlucky I don’t take the MRT to work.   

Wake up, Mr. Cinderella August 31, 2006

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I’m getting soft. Darn Russell Crowe and all his flock of sad, weepy movies. Watching Cinderellla Man all by myself, I was wincing – almost – not able to stand seeing his supposedly broken hand strike one more brutal punch or his ribs crack. Darn Hollywood, you feel-good movie mill. Now you make me feel a lot more optimistic about this insane world.

I’ve always believed in basic human good, that no matter how insane this world is, man is essentially good, not evil. Even when you feel like crushing someone who does criminal things. Or is it my own self-validation? That I am actually a softie. I cannot remember being in a fight.

Oh yeah, when I was like in grade school, I stood up against this school bully who was teasing a female member of my “possee” (it’s so lame, I’m not even sure I spelled that word correctly). I pretended I was a white Ninja, from this old local film criminally titled Ninja Kids, y’know a bunch of white ninjas battling evil, black ninjas. These days, wearing black makes you a rock star.

If there’s one rule I remember, it must be the “golden” one: Hit first and hit hard. Unfortunately, I never got around to. Not that I’m wishing I’d get to do it someday. I hope don’t get to. I’ve outgrown my ninja ways.

That’s what friends are for? August 26, 2006

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If you hate someone, you take the consequences.” It’s a line taken from the film. [Un]Fortunately, I love the film and for that I “suffer” the consequence of indulging in it further and trying to figure out the ending. Fortunately, this Battle Royale fansite offers a helpful analysis. Still, after reading it, I still go nuts about how baffling it is. Which makes it excellent and typical of Japanese movies – sparse, simplistic and Zen-like yet complex. Takeshi Kitano typifies this in the way he acts. 

No wonder it was reportedly banned in the US (although it was argued that the producers of Battle Royale charged a high distribution fee). New Line Cinema reportedly bought the rights to create a US remake, which elicited more than a fair share of howls from fans. Hollywood has got be suffering really low in originality these days.

Even with the film’s violent nature, it’s never difficult to look through it and perceive some amount of Japanese cute-ness in it. Quentin Tarantino did so, and so he got one actor in Battle Royale to play GoGo in Kill Bill.   

I’m guessing it’s hard to get a copy of the film. But if you’re lucky enough to get hold of one, pleased reserve the anti-violence tone at the end of the movie. See through it – including the Japanese cuteness – and try to absorb what message the movie is trying to get across.

Battle Royale trailer 

   

‘L’ is for ‘ladies that don’t need men’ August 21, 2006

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When asked how to describe it, I say – without an ounce of guilt that I could be unknowingly offensive – something of this sort: It’s like Sex in the City. Only they’re having sex with one another.

Now even I unbelievably find humor in that remark – as if it’s one of those supposedly descriptive one liners, excerpts from review by critics when hyping something on TV or an upcoming film. But seriously, my categorical review of The “L” Word: Better than the other one with the three-letter word in the title. Again, seriously.

I state this opinion after finishing minutes ago the last episode of the show’s first season. Both shows revolve around a set of characters with hyperactive sex lives. But I find the one with lesbians (..and there goes the ‘L’ word) having a lot more depth. Not sexually, but storywise.

Like Sex in the City – or maybe even Melrose Place or The OC (yes, I devour American shows without shame), it delves into human relationships. The show’s premise is built on the topic of homosexual relationships and in this case, it tackles the less explored lesbian side of things. Relationships are likewise portrayed as difficult and imperfect. Of course, everybody cheats. And for starters, there are characters in the show that straddle both sides of the coin.. for lack of a better metaphor to say that yes, there is girl-on-girl action and there’s guy-on-girl. And for some of the characters, there’s both.

But the show’s redeeming quality (not that it needs to redeem itself from a negative, that phrase just sounds inappropriately good) lies in the fact that it portrays lesbian relationships as “normal”, like heterosexual, male-female setups. But therein lies the struggle and complexity that befalls relationships involving two people of the same gender.

In Sex in the City, Carrie Bradshaw always tries to interpret why men and women think as they do. Or so it seems. The “L” Word gives another side of it. Only there’s no need for someone to give a narrative conclusion at end of each episode. The viewer reads through the characters’ stories without the need for lyrical explanation.

For some reason, what I remember most about Sex in the City is, always likely, it ends with a scene wherein Sarah Jessica Parker locks gazes with a guy and then they head for each other and bam!..episode’s over, stay tuned for the next romp.

And, as a final word: The L Word plays better CBB music. Damien Rice, for example.

As seen through natural lens July 25, 2006

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Reviewing the reviewer July 21, 2006

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Sometimes it pays to view things with innocence.

Movies, for example. I must admit that I read two New York Times articles before AND after watching M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film. Both articles delved more into the director as a subject, with plenty of references to previous works and other facets of his own central character.

Which is precisely why I would tend to agree that movie reviews should be read with caution. But I believe that’s a given already. What I contemplate about more is the notion that film critics tend to be overtly critical for the sake of being, well, critics. Take this local writer who writes lengthy, more often than not, scathing reviews not devoid of yada-yada. A journalist friend, not suprisingly, holds the same opinion about this writer. Too much reference to film as an art, it becomes “science”.

Will you just please tell us if you think the film is good or not and spare us the verbose diatribe? From how this writer writes, not only it’s apparent that he sure knows a lot about film history, he comes across as a pompous know-it-all. But then again I would assume film critics feel the need for such analytical pinch if they have to churn out an article that contains several hundred words.

As for Lady in the Water, I’m inclined not to write a lengthy “review”, especially not after what I just discussed. But I liked what I saw. And even if the term “much-maligned” is more than once used to describe some of his previous movies (The Village included), I did find those post- Sixth Sense movies good. I didn’t see Signs, though.

Final note: Because I liked what I saw, I would recommend watching this M. Night movie. But don’t curse me if you didn’t like it. Hard to imagine, I know, but how it must be like to watch an M. Night movie without knowing anything about him or his previous movies?

LINK:

Wikipedia: Lady in the Water

   

  

New Album Friday: Mice Parade July 21, 2006

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For unexplainable reasons, I thought Mice Parade was in the same league as Aesop Rock. Sounds like a cool MC name anyway. I haven’t listened to previous outings but I like what I hear in his Bem-Vinda Vontade

From what I gather, it’s his most “accessible” album (which usually means, poppier) to date. Which I think is a common sign for electronic artists when they’re on the verge of breaking out. Breaking out from lengthy mixes and in the case of Adam Pierce (aka Mice Parade), he sings a lot more.  

I think it’s even a mistake to label Mice Parade as electronic (the genre column remains blank in my iTunes), when electronic to me readily brings to mind something like, say, the soundtrack to the movie Swordfish. This one you don’t really dance to; you savor the rhythmn in your head and chill.  

Like Night Wave, the second track, which feature the breathy vocals of Mum’s Kristin Valdottir (I don’t know her but there’s something Sigur Ros-sy about her name). The next track, Passing and Galloping, starts with some dreamy sequence and later evolves into a stream of fuzzy guitars with a percussion layer.

The Days Before Fiction is another outstanding track, not only because it features a duet between Pierce and another female voice. It has a lengthy instrumental that starts in the middle of the song; from then on it’s a hypnotic mix of acoustic guitar strumming. Think shoegaze without the wah-wah of electric guitars.    

It would be difficult to file this album according to genre. It can fall under electronic, indie, acoustic or heck, even flamenco or bossanova. But however you classify his music, listening to Mice Parade is an experience by itself; you just savor it in your head and chill.

LINKS:

FatCat Records: Mice Parade 

MP3: Night Wave

  

Starstrucken-ness July 20, 2006

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sharon 

Who can resist such a charming face? Not everybody is a closet fan like me. And it’s not everyday you can see Sharon Cuneta in the flesh either. At yesterday’s Sony press event, the star of the show is clearly not those Sparkling Wega TVs. Speaking of sparkling, the lady reporter seated next me pointed at her fabulous jewelry.

Sharon (first name basis, eh?) displayed such an antiseptic persona you wonder what kind of dark side lurks in her. I heard a long time ago she’s a chain smoker and prefers Marlboro Lights. Jing, a good friend of mine who I remember exclaiming “Si Sharon nga!” when she went onstage, told me about one time she was caught in an airport suspected of carrying drugs. Ah, airport scandals can be the stuff of legends, urban and otherwise.

Probably her most charming quality is that she remembers names very well. She called the showbiz scribes by their first name and even told one of them that her hair seems a bit longer now. An endearing quality of an excellent politician’s wife; in fact, she is a senator’s wife.  

To cap off a seemingly star-studded day, I did an interview with NBA player Andre Iguodala of the Philadephia 76ers late in the afternoon. That’s about the only thing I can say. Blame it probably on  “Sharon-high”. Here’s another, more candid picture. 

..sa lahat ng fans ni Sharon Cuneta.” Ely, I hear you.