Monday, May 31, 2004
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Dude get your board! Mondo waves on the loose!
The movie The Day After Tomorrow was the one movie me and my friends were looking forward to as early as February. The sight of tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, and a frozen New York City held a promise that this movie is definitely going to be worth our while. And it does deliver right from the start till the requisite rescue of stranded loved ones. The premise for this movie was lifted off a real phenomenon going around globally so it adds a creepy possibility of what might happen in the future.
The movie starts with a trio of climatologists, Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), Jason Evans (Dash Mihok), and Frank Harris (Jay O. Sanders) experiencing a near death experience during a not so normal breakdown of a huge ice shelf they were camping on somewhere up North. This prompted Jack to address the issue of a possible Ice Age resulting from a wacked out treatment of the environment before a UN meeting in Dubai. The news was met with mixed reactions from the delegates and he was even arrogantly rebutted by the Vice President of the United States. A fellow scientist by the name of Terry Rapson (Ian Holm) believed in his theory and told him of his findings regarding the shifting of tides in the Atlantic that's affecting the weather all over the world. In the meantime, Jack has to contend with his own son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) who's now openly rebelling to his father's constant absence in the family. He was flying to New York at the time for a National Debate Championship and Jack took some time off to spend some quality time at least on the way to the airport. With the majors players all in place it was now time to step up the drama by accelerating the projected Ice Age from about a thousand years to a week. Unusually strong hurricanes blew inland, hailstorms with ice bigger than a baseball fell on the hapless residents of Tokyo, five tornadoes swept through Los Angeles decimating half of the city and its residents. Of course, as is the norm with disaster movies or any flick that has to do with the massacre of innocents, those in authority were naturally skeptical with everything that's happening even if they all had the evidence staring them at the face. Severe ice storms began developing in Europe and to the horror of the people watching, a funnel of extreme cold began to develop around the eye of the storm dropping temperatures to about 13 degrees per minute, freezing everything and everyone unfortunate enough to be caught in its path (including the royal family who never knew what hit them, shades of King Ralph here). After freezing the whole of Europe, two new ice funnels began developing around Siberia and the United States with New York set in its deadly sight. So the rest of the story is told through Jack's and Sam's experiences as they try to survive long enough to find each other and go home with the other refugees.
Not a lot of people think that this movie is that great, but I beg to differ. Director Ronald Emmerich manages to redeem himself this time after bringing Godzilla to New York ("One order of tsunami to wash away all traces of bad movie making please."). The effects were spectacular and the central characters add human faces that heighten the drama. In some way, I like it in the same way other movies with catastrophic themes like Deep Impact and Titanic. With that said, I have here with me five points I picked up that was consciously or unconsciously scattered througout the whole movie:
1. Providence prepares a person all his/her life for one great moment. You may also call it God's sovereignity at work. Jack Hall was prepared throughout all those years working in the North Pole as a paleoclimatologist for the coming disaster. He, of all people, was the only one to predict and warn the people of the coming Ice Age. Sure, his work tore him away from his family, but those years weren't spent for nothing. All those years of "training" paid off when he got the opportunity to set things right once and for all with his son's life was put in danger.
2. Atheists don't hold fast to their beliefs in the face of death. Simply put they don't have anything to hold on to because they have been fighting dogma and Christian theology for the better part of their lives, resigning to the realm of fairy tales and childish fantasies. Friedrich Nietzsche's fan in the movie was last seen holding on to dear life to the Gutenberg Bible under the excuse that it being the a symbol for the dawning of the age of reason. That statement was dripping so much with irony.
3. Make sure that what you do figures greatly in light of eternity. "Everything I've ever cared about, everything I've worked for, it's all been in preparation for a future that no longer exists. I know you always thought I took the competition too seriously. You were right. It was all for nothing." Laura Chapman (Emmy Rossum) regretfully says to Sam in the middle of their "imprisonment" inside the New York Public Library. She took the competition too seriously and when it was taken a way from her, she had nothing to show to anyone. Stop doing stuff that glorify yourself and do something worthwhile that would help others and glorify that Someone higher than you.
4. Powerful nations aren't as invincible as they think they are. This was a powerful point in the movie and it was quite a delicious come-uppance that what the President of Mexico did to the Americans fleeing to their borders seeking sanctuary from the killer cold. By the end of the movie, almost half of the upper half of the equator is snowed in. People from the First and second World Countries humbled themselves before those belonging to the Third World and sought shelter. The resulting mass exodus could have propelled the economies of these countries sky high.
5. The Biblical idea of a global flooding and "Noah's Ark" echoed throughout the entire movie. Everybody's familiar with the story of Noah calling out to his neighbors and everyone who'd care to listen, about the impending catastrophe that would engulf those caught outside the place of safety. Jack Hall is this modern Noah warning the UN about an upcoming Ice Age. His son Sam is also a type of Noah who heeded his father's warning to stay inside the building along with the others. And he also warned the others about the second part of the storm that could kill those caught outside. In all cases, only a few cared to listen. Incidentally, creationists (including myself) believe the global flood preceded the Ice Age just like in the movie.
Has anyone also noticed the slew of disaster movies starting from the latter half of the 20th century? What does this say about our unrealized fear of global disasters that Hollywood keeps capitalizing on? I have my own theories and I'll only discuss it with those who are interested in hearing it. Before I conclude this review, I'd like to post this quote from the site: The 'Day after Tomorrow' Never Dies: film plot rings true as NOAA runs up against White House
In an amusing case of life imitating art (to use the term loosely), Bush administration officials stalled the release of a website on abrupt climate change, which was developed by a team at NOAA's paleoclimate program to coincide with the release of the film, according to insiders who worked on the project. The site was put together to make years of paleoclimate research on abrupt climate shifts accessible to Day After Tomorrow viewers attempting to make sense of the fact and fiction behind the movie's science (to use another term loosely).
Apparently, life does imitate art more than art imitates life. Because the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.
A lot has changed since then and I do mean A LOT but I still looked forward to travelling to Malolos every now and then to visit my uncles and aunts. These pics are but part of a great bundle taken by me and brother earlier today:
Statues of saints guarding the fence perimeter of the Sta. Isabel church.
Bottle of fresh Carabao's milk with a banana leaf stopper.
Rice field with a bull guard (or was that a cow?).
Self-portrait with the old bathroom mirror.
Scribbled by my uncle on his closet door (July, 1974).
Part of my grandfather's old library collection. Now you know where my addiction to books came from.
A record of births in my Grandpa's handwriting at the back of his Bible. Entry no. 4 is my mother's.
Though the trips there have been infrequent as of late, my brother and me talked about going back to tour historical sites like Barasoain Church (where the first Philippine Constitution was drafted in 1898), Malolos Cathedral (where the first President, Emilio Aguinaldo and company stayed. A lot of stuff is still there including Aguinaldo's bed), Kamestisuhan (from the word "mestizo" or a person with mixed heritage. Part of the town where the old rich families lived, turn of the century houses can still be seen here), Casa Real (old print house turned museum which the Filipino Revolutionaries used to print their newsletters), the old Aquino House (ancestral house of the Aquino's, the most famous of which was Ninoy), site of the Instituto De Mujeres where the women of Malolos met for schooling (12 brave women braved Spanish persecution for seeking formal education), etc. The reason for this was that my brother got excited (albeit late) about the historical significance of the town and some of the stuff we found in our grandparents house. And he's all excited about helping me do the much delayed comic project about a story set during the Philippine-Spanish War and Philippine-American War. This will be really great, I just have to go through some unfinished projects before doing that.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
*I've taken the liberty of looking up the definitions of these four temperaments (or personalities) in case you're curious what these are: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic.
As most people have experienced, jobs/classes cost time and sometimes sanity. When web-comic creators have to donate large chunks of their time to their day jobs, they just don't post their comics as often, or the quality of their comics goes down. When comics are posted too irregularly, readers begin to lose interest or express frustrations.
R.K. Milholland of Something Positive recently posted a response to e-mails about his spelling problems in which he said, "If you are really bothered by my lack of updates or my need of extra proofreading, help me quit my day job so I can devote the time to doing it". As is evident here, some readers just aren't aware of how difficult it is to maintain a web-comic. It only takes a few seconds to read one but it takes hours to create one. Rants must be posted, e-mail must be answered, the website must be maintained, and the writer must be allowed to stare blankly off into space until she or he gets whacked in the back of the head by the muse.
I wish I could pursue doing comics as a full-time job (both stable and lucrative while I'm at it). Already, there are plans for animations, ambitious graphic novels, and merchandising galore (*ka-CHING!*). But I mean, who doesn't? Right? In a perfect world, everybody's working on his or her own dream job with all the perks one could ever want and more. As of now, artists will always struggle with either apathy from the general public or politicizing from pushy patrons.
* You can read the whole article here.
If you're wondering how those steers sent the message using their hooves, just keep in mind they're using the latest MOObile phone.
Friday, May 28, 2004
Is he doing what I think he's doing?
I think I was the only one laughing loudly inside the cinema the first time they showed the trailer for Shrek 2. It was the full trailer with the trio travelling to the kingdom of Far Far Away, the dove bumping against the wall, and others. The original cast did such a wonderful work for the first movie so expectations were high for this sequel and rightly so. Credits go to the wonderful people behind the production and the great actors for exceeding the audience's expectations for this movie.
The sequel picks up the story right after Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) drove away to their honeymoon at the end of the first movie. They's shown enjoying time alone with each other at the hotel, the beach, lovey-dovey walks through the woods, and running through a field of daisies while dodging pitchforks and an angry mob. It was complete bliss until they arrive home at Shrek's house by the swamp. Inside they find Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) made himself comfy with out asking permission from the owner. In the midst of telling him to scram, a royal herald arrives announcing an invitation from Princess Fiona's parents to visit them along with her new husband (which they presumed to be human). Shrek was against the idea of facing the King and Queen of the picture perfect kingdom Far Far Away but was soon prevailed upon by his darling wife and gabby best friend. Theirs was the most anticipated arrival of all and almost all of the whole kingdom had turned up to greet them so you could imagine the shock on their faces when they saw who (or what) their princess had married. King Harold (voiced by John Cleese) and Queen Mary (voiced by Julie Andrews) were aghast at the sight of their daughter's new husband but while the Queen managed to accept her daughter's choice, the King seethed and stewed right through dinner. While the King had every right to be angry about his daughter's choice to marry a troll, it also turns out that he was also being held back by a contract he made with the Fairy Godmother (voiced by Jennifer Saunders) some years back, that Princess Fiona would be rescued from her fate by and wed to her son, Prince Charming (voiced by Rupert Everett). She forced the King to uphold his end of the contract using any means possible. He sneaks off in the middle of the night to a sleazy tavern and hired Puss In Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) to off his son-in-law.
That he tried to do the next morning when the king invited Shrek and Donkey on the sport of hunting game. The confident dimunitive hit-cat overshot and was easily overpowered by the towering Shrek. In gratitude for sparing his life he vowed to serve Shrek until a more opportune time when he can return the favor. As they walked on, Shrek thought of paying the Fairy Godmother a visit and ask her to do something about his appearance. She, of course, rudely drives them away but not before Shrek swiped a magic potion that improves the appearance of all those who drinks from it. In a bid to find out if it works Donkey volunteered to take a swig and then Shrek. It also turns out at the same time they took the potion, someone slipped in the same potion into Princess Fiona's and they all promptly fell into a deep sleep. When all three found the changes in their appearance the day after Shrek, Donkey, and Puss rushed towards the castle to surprise Fiona. And although Fiona did find Donkey (now a white Stallion) and Puss, Prince Charming tricked her into thinking he's the much improved Shrek. Feeling betrayed by all that he saw from the castle window, he ran away to drown his sorrow in a tavern along with his two companions. When they accidentally discovered about the diabolical deal between the King, Fairy Godmother, and Prince Charming, they were implicated on a false charge and thrown to jail. But since this is a fairy tale, everything works out for our heroes in the nick of time giving the two lovers another chance to live happily ever after.
I'm a little surprised there are some people who think the movie stinks to high heavens. While, of course, this is no Pixar production, personally I still think that writers William Steig, J. David Stem, Joe Stillman, and David N. Weiss did a more smashing job this time around (and box office records don't lie). Incidentally, while there are movie goers who thought both movies sucked, there are those who thought only the first one was inedible, but absolutely gobbled up the sequel. So what are we to make out of this one? A bunch of confused moviegoers? I also like those spoofed movie references they inserted everywhere like Mr. Stay Puff from Ghostbusters (Mongo, the giant Gingerbread man), From Here to Eternity (kissing scene on the beach), The Little Mermaid (red-head mermaid on top of Shrek and thrown to the sharks), Spider-Man (Shrek is hanging upside down and Fiona wipes the mud off his face before kissing him), The Lord of the Rings (ring flips up and shoots directly at Fiona's finger), Beauty and the Beast (dancing furniture and higgedly-piggedly state of the FGM's factory), Mission Impossible (Pinocchio hanging upside-down), Wizard of Oz (FGM appearing inside a bubble), Alien (Puss pops out of Shrek's shirt), E.T. (where the line "be good" was taken), Garfield (Puss saying "I hate Mondays"), and Flashdance (Puss pulling the shower cord). These were the only ones I got out of the many.
As a postcript to this long post, I'd like to make two announcements. The first one is the news of the demise of Shrek's creator, cartoonist and author, William Steig. And second, the next two movies of Shrek is already in the works. Shrek 3 will have our protagonist on a showdown against King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, while Shrek 4 will be a prequel. This is what Dreamworks co-founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg has to say:
"...In the last chapter, we will understand how Shrek came to be in that swamp, when we meet him in the first movie. There is a reason he came to be there, but there is another chapter to the story before that"
Whether the next two installments will fit in the humongous shoes of its hugely successful predecessor, that we'll have to find out come 2006.
* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Suffice to say it all felt unreal. I'm not hurt and neither am I fine with all this. From that moment the question "Have I missed out my one chance for happiness?" What if she's the one I was supposed to marry? That because of my being a complete wuss I missed out on THE one? These two self-defeating questions were thrown out when I thought of the utter ludicrousness of it all. Later, a friend of mine bopped me over the head during dinner and asked me what's gotten into me (not in so many words). She told I have things going for me and I need to realize that. We discussed a couple more issues and she added some suggestions and advice that left me feeling real good about myself. Which also brought to mind an advice my best friend from college gave me, "To find the one, you have BE the ONE!" Good advice... Wonder why it sunk only now.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
I really like this one. It's one of the few strips I did that I really, really like. Check out panel 2, is that an Oscar moment or what? There are two more strips doing goodbyes coming in the next couple of weeks then school starts. Or maybe not. I have one more idea for a strip before school.
* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Emphasis on the word taste.
Jo and Karl being chummy.
Me and Jo pretending to be toothpaste models. Riiiight!
Jo and Gerard in between jokes.
Chocolate fondue in small white and brown versions.
Gary threatens to poke a runaway marshmallow while Karl looks away
Good friends with forks ready for the dunking.
After a hearty meal and dessert, we went out for a walk around the park and settled down near the lagoon and continued our talks. Around half past eleven the others laid their hands and prayed for me before saying their goodbyes. Those of us who were left talked some more till way past midnight before going home. Since it was a weekend, there were still a lot of people walking and hanging around the place even at that time of night.
Monday, May 24, 2004
Sunday, May 23, 2004
As expected with a crowd this size, they started grouping and talking among themselves: married women, the younger set watching kick-boxing on TV, the guys my age exchanging insider jokes and laughing among themselves, and some older folks talking quietly. I wasn't there for more than an hour and I thought it would be rude to make up an excuse and leave so I busied myself with asking other friends about some plans to get together the day after. After squeezing all that I can from that ruse, I sat down and tried to listen to the old folks. The topic they were talking were general enough so it was easy to settle into. Once in a while, one of my two friends would come by and introduce me to their guests and brag about my work. The guests would just pause and smile politely and resume their conversation after a while. Others would try to ask me what I'm doing right now, if I say that I'm a cartoonist they would say "oh" and slowly turn their heads somewhere. If I answered that somewhere along the lines of my day job, that would afford me a few more questions and then they would slowly turn their heads to look somewhere.
After a while some guests started to leave and those smaller groups would merge with the other, making the one I was with sort of an endangered specie. Good thing I was able to strike up a conversation with another guest who turns out to be working in the airport tower. He's also working with computers and other electronic gadgets which was pretty interesting. After half of the guests had left, I joined the more lively ones and waited for the clock to strike twelve so we could sing the birthday song. I just hung out on the outer edge of the group talking to Sheila's best friend, Armie. This one's also on the quiet side but the others had no problem including her in their conversation (it may have helped that she's quite a looker too). We talked about the movie Troy and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy which somewhat made up for the entire night. A few more guests left soon after along with Armie. And after about an hour or so, Jorge's brother, Joel suggested that he had to bring his date home and since most of them were already inebraited and sleepy, Jorge suggested that I go with Joel right up to the bus stop so I could go home. I bid Sheila goodbye and then Jorge, who asked me to go to visit them at their office Monday. I said OK, but I'm not sure if I could. Also, I don't think I'd be able to attend another party again with that large a crowd. For me it's not a matter of 'sink or swim' but rather knowing who am I swimming with.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
I must confess I feel the same way myself.
Friday, May 21, 2004
When I was little, I wanted what many Filipino children all over the country wanted. I wanted to be blonde, blue-eyed, and white. I thought - if I just wished hard enough and was good enough, I'd wake up on Christmas morning with snow outside my window and freckles across my nose! More than four centuries under western domination does that to you. I have sixteen cousins. In a couple of years, there will just be five of us left in the Philippines, the rest will have gone abroad in search of "greener pastures."
It's not just an anomaly; it's a trend; the Filipino diaspora. Today, about eight million Filipinos are scattered around the world. There are those who disapprove of Filipinos who choose to leave. I used to. Maybe this is a natural reaction of someone who was left behind, smiling for family pictures that get emptier with each succeeding year. Desertion, I called it.
My country is a land that has perpetually fought for the freedom to be itself. Our heroes offered their lives in the struggle against the Spanish, the Japanese, the Americans. To pack up and deny that identity is tantamount to spitting on that sacrifice. Or is it? I don't think so, not anymore. True, there is no denying this phenomenon, aided by the fact that what was once the other side of the world is now a twelve-hour plane ride away.
But this is a borderless world, where no individual can claim to be purely from where he is now. My mother is of Chinese descent, my father is a quarter Spanish, and I call myself a pure Filipino - a hybrid of sorts resulting from a combination of cultures.
Each square mile anywhere in the world is made up of people of different ethnicities, with national identities and individual personalities. Because of this, each square mile is already a microcosm of the world. In as much as this blessed spot that is England is the world, so is my neighbourhood back home. Seen this way, the Filipino Diaspora, or any sort of dispersal of populations, is not as ominous as so many claim. It must be understood. I come from a Third World country, one that is still trying mightily to get back on its feet after many years of dictatorship. But we shall make it, given more time. Especially now, when we have thousands of eager young minds who graduate from college every year. They have skills. They need jobs. We cannot absorb them all.
A borderless world presents a bigger opportunity, yet one that is not so much abandonment but an extension of identity. Even as we take, we give back. We are the 40,000 skilled nurses who support the UK's National Health Service. We are the quarter-of-a-million seafarers manning most of the world's commercial ships. We are your software engineers in Ireland, your construction workers in the Middle East, your doctors and caregivers in North America, and, your musical artists in London's West End.
Nationalism isn't bound by time or place. People from other nations migrate to create new nations, yet still remain essentially who they are. British society is itself an example of a multi-cultural nation, a melting pot of races, religions, arts and cultures. We are, indeed, in a borderless world!
Leaving sometimes isn't a matter of choice. It's coming back that is. The Hobbits of the shire travelled all over Middle-Earth, but they chose to come home, richer in every sense of the word. We call people like these balikbayans or the 'returnees' - those who followed their dream, yet choose to return and share their mature talents and good fortune.
In a few years, I may take advantage of whatever opportunities come my way. But I will come home. A borderless world doesn't preclude the idea of a home. I'm a Filipino, and I'll always be one. It isn't about just geography; it isn't about boundaries. It's about giving back to the country that shaped me. And that's going to be more important to me than seeing snow outside my windows on a bright Christmas morning.
Mabuhay and thank you.
Other details about the speech were as follows:
Tricia, a UP Speech Comm major, was the unanimous choice of the board of judges headed by Brian Hanrahan of the British Broadcasting Corp. She defeated 59 other student contestants from 37 countries from all over the English-speaking world, including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The contestants (were tasked to) prepare five-minute speeches on the theme "The Borderless World."
Fellow writers Krip Yuson, Butch Dalisay and Jimmy Abad and London-based poet and embassy officer Ed Maranan helped Ms. Evangelista prepare the speech. You can read more about Patricia's victory here
* From an article titled "Tricia's Diaspora" by Jojo Robles.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
* I mean "good" to be all the time.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
This was a last minute idea. I already planned Marie's exit from the strip for a short period of time while I change her appearance into something more likeable. The problem was I only have three ideas for the goodbye and no introduction to where she's going and why. I was stumped the whole week last week and even more so during the weekend. Everything that crossed my mind seemed weak and unsatisfactory. Come Monday, a few hours before deadline, did I finalized the punchline. I'd also like to report a "happy accident" that came out of this strip. While that girl in the yellow nightgown was a last minute idea, I have already come up with further developments for her character and her fear of stalkers. She will be seen again after a couple of months or so.
* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Jersey Girl is the movie we saw just now. In many ways a sign in the crossroads for some of the actors and crew involved in the movie. This the first seriously sentimental movie of Writer/Director Kevin Smith, the movie that Ben Affleck hopes would make people forget about Gigli, and the last movie that Bennifer would be appearing in. Might I also add that actress Liv Tyler climbs 10 notches up in my book for wearing those librarian glasses that made her so cool and adorable. That I would borrow her line, "I'm kinda crushin' on you right now," and say that to her.
Ahem. The story revolves around Oli Trinke (Ben Affleck), a very successful spin doctor for pop music artists. He's so successful he has a hundred people working under him. He met his would-be wife Gertrude Steiney (Jennifer Lopez), a book editor, sometime later and after a year of dating took her back to New Jersey and introduced her to his pop. He took an instant liking to her one-of-the-boys attitude and soon enough Oli and Gertie were married. But there seemed to be no stopping the ever-busy Oli from running around even when his wife became pregnant and even when she died of aneurysm as a result of the delivery he coped with the problem in the only way he knows: bury himself in work. His father in New Jersey agreed to take care of the baby at first but gave an ultimatum when it seemed there’s no taking Oli off from work and paying attention to his daughter, Gertie (Raquel Castro). Oli had no choice but to bring his daughter to the media covered event at Hard Rock Café where he dissed Will Smith (who was then just starting on his career as an actor). With his career now in ruins he went back home to Jersey to lick his wounds. While there, his father appealed to his sense of humanity and told him to stand up and try move on with their lives. That he did with a promise to his daughter beside her cradle that he would be the best dad in the whole world.
Fast forward seven years and he's shown working for his father's garage as part of the city's Maintenance Department. His daughter comes home from school and asks him to take her to watch a Broadway show since the kids were required by school to perform a scene from that show onstage as part of their recital. Oli excitedly takes the opportunity to show her the highlights of New York to show here where daddy spent most of his life. Also, they get to meet Maya (Liv Tyler), the cute and charming clerk on duty, while browsing through a local video shop. Given his quirky accidental choice for a video tape, Maya badgers him for an interview for her college paper about the behavioral patterns of dads and their choice of gratification. Feelings started to grow between the two as they continued to see each other and in spite of their pronouncements that theirs was just a platonic relationship. But even after all these years of domestic bliss the call of the corporate world was strong and he tried many times to come back into the exclusive circle where he once ran. And each time his application was turned down until he managed to wrangle an interview with one of the most successful media companies in New York with the help of his old assistant, Arthur Brickman (Jason Biggs). But a smooth transition to his old haunt wasn't meant to be. If he chose to relocate back to New York, there is that chance he could get back in the groove and recover his exciting old life BUT he risks breaking the hearts of both his daughter and Maya and lose out on his one chance for happiness in life. One could pretty much predict what happens in the end but the ending is something to look forward to.
As it is, Mr. Smith's not known for making movies with "serious" themes so I think this movie serves as a sort of "coming of age" for him. What's also interesting here is the underlining topic he chose for this movie which talks about husbands and widowers remaining faithful to their wives (or dead wives for the latter) as was touched by Mr. Smith in an interview with Newsweek a couple of months before:
All right, here's the thing. I've been married five years. Considering my body shape, I had the good fortune to have enough sex with different women before I got married. Once I got married, I realized I never wanted to (bleep) anyone else for the rest of my life. Even if my wife died. It's not just physical, though that's fantastic. Psychologically, I am tied to her. When you're really committed to somebody, forget it, man. It's impossible to think about (bleeping) somebody else.
* Interview excerpt was copied from MSNBC
I haven't heard any reactions yet from his fans but I'm sure some of them would be pretty dumbfounded by that. I mean this is Kevin Smith, the guy who glorified bachelorhood and the perks that come with it (you know what I'm talking about here). The guy who redefined the word "geek" to mean someone cool! The writer behind "Daredevil" comics and blockbuster indie flicks like "Mallrats", "Clerks", and "Jay and Silent Bob" series that celebrate geekiness in all its glory (and gory)! This guy came up with a serious film that upholds the importance of the responsibilities of what being a good father and husband is all about! Who woulda thought? Of course there are still some words that are vintage Kevin Smith, personally I think he could have at least toned it down some more. Still I'd like to commend Mr. Smith for delivering the goods much to the surprise and delight of his fans like myself.
* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Such a nice big horsie! Wheeeee!!!
I've always been a big fan of myths and legends particularly that of the Greeks, and subsequently I'm very familiar with almost all the stories they have come up with. Except for the Trojan War which I thought was too long to sustain my interest (the story's contained in Homer's Iliad). Of course when I did open the book to read the second half of The Iliad I already had quite an idea what it was all about having seen different artworks and watched a couple of movies depicting Odysseus' long journey back home. Long after that did I finally read the first half. I wasn't really expecting anything from the movie Troy which helped a lot. I first heard about it when the people behind the production hired a leg double during the shoot for Brad Pitt, who's notorious for having scrawny "chicken legs". I was half expecting the movie to be more faithful to the myth than to history. I was expecting to see Paris awarding the golden apple of contention to Aphrodite and in turn rewarding him with the most beautiful woman on the face of the Earth and I was expecting to see the Greek gods of Olympus taking sides on the war. But I guess that would be cheesy.
The movie started not with the purported kidnapping of Helen of Greece but with a brief introduction to the Greeks' invasion of Troy and a very short duel between their best warriors, "Goliath" for the Trojans and Achilles (Brad Pitt) for the Greeks. He and King Agamemnon (Brian Cox), who personally led the army, don't see each other eye-to-eye and this would be the 'cause of some problems in their later siege of the city. King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) of Sparta held a banquet to celebrate their victory during which his wife Helen (Diane Kruger) met Prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) of Troy. They have been holding their secret trysts during the duration of the Trojan Princes' stay and on that final night Paris endeavored his beloved to come away with him on their return home. There was hell to pay when this treachery was discovered. Menelaus went to his older brother Agamemnon and pleaded with him to go after the traitors to bring his wife back, while on the side of the Trojans Hector (Eric Bana), Paris' older brother, was furious that his brother could abuse the hospitality shown to them by their neighbors. Although he was against his brother's impulsive and immature decision, he thought against going back to return Helen thinking it was already too late for apologies and would best be prepared for war. Back to the Greeks' side, they couldn't go against the Trojans knowing they have two things going for them: large impenetrable walls and Prince Hector. The latter is reputed to be one of the best fighters around and while they worry about breaching the walls they would need someone to match him sword for sword.
Agamemnon thought long and hard about all this, he wasn't satisfied with the lack of bloodshed that happened during their first invasion of Troy, and the only way they could successfully do this is for Achilles to lead their army. But given their current situation he would be hard put to try and convince his prize swordsman to fight for him. So they sent Achilles' best friend, Odysseus (Sean Bean) to reason with him. This he was able to do by appealing to his pride. He told him that the only way he could achieve glory and immortality is by going down in flames with them against the kingdom of Troy. Achilles' mother also told the same. He did so reluctantly, joining a fleet of thousands that set sail for battle. Back in Troy, King Priam (Peter O'Toole) welcomed the Trojan delegation to Greece led by his sons. He too welcomed their defector, Helen of Sparta. Hector and Paris' cousin, Briseis (Rose Byrne), also met them with good news since she was recently inducted as one of the priestesses in the temple of their patron god, Apollo. The Trojans, as was shown later, relied too much on the protection of their god. They were also a superstitious lot making crucial decisions based on omens interpreted by their High Priests, this proved to be their undoing later on.
Nearing their destination, Achilles and his band of men didn't wait for orders and immediately attacked the first line of defense set up by the Trojans on the shores of their land. Achilles also led the attack in the Temple of Apollo taking all its treasures and killing all the priests. Hector saw the invading ships in the distance and rallied his army against the Greeks before they could reach the walls of their city. There was a brief encounter between the two expert swordsmen but Achilles let him go thinking it was too early in the day for them to fight one to one. After the skirmish he was presented with a gift, a captured priestess from the temple. Achilles rightly deduced that she was royalty although he was unsure who she was. A short time later she was later used as a pawn during a disagreement between King Agamemnon and him, widening further the rift between the two. In protest, Achilles withdrew himself from the first battle where King Menelaus was killed by Hector who was defending his wounded brother from a failed duel with the king. The scattered attack of the Greeks proved to be ineffective and they were run back to their camps by the victorious Trojans. Emboldened by this initial result, King Priam was egged on by his priests to launch a surprise attack at daybreak against the better judgment of his son, Hector, who is a more experienced warrior. Tragedy resulted from that attack. The night before that Achilles thought it more prudent to leave the war with his men and take their former captive priestess now beloved mistress, Briseis, with them. But before they could do so, Achilles' cousin was accidentally killed in that battle. He thought against their leaving without him spilling Trojan blood so he put on his older cousin's armor and sword and fought against Hector. The grieved Hector ordered a reprieve to the battle and retreated back home. Sensing his doom he gave explicit instructions to his wife Andromache (Saffron Burrows) to go down a secret tunnel and take their son and as many of their countrymen as she could saying he doesn’t know how long the city would stand long after his death. The following morning, Achilles comes along and orders a challenge (sponsored by Altoids: The Curiously Strong Mint). The swordfight between the two men lasted for a few minutes before Achilles dealt Hector a serious wound and running him with his sword. To add salt to injury, Achilles dragged the dead body back to their camp in full view of Hector's family and royal subjects. Later that night in what appeared to be one of the most tender moments in modern cinema, King Priam snucked into the Greek camp and pleaded for the body of his murdered son. Achilles, being an honorable person himself, gave in and surrendered the body and freed Briseis to her uncle. Furthermore, he entered into a pact that there would be twelve days of peace while the Trojans grieved over the loss of their beloved prince. The Greeks took that time to build a "peace offering" to the sea god Neptune: a huge wooden horse. It was the brainchild of Odysseus who saw an opportunity to finally defeat the deeply religious and superstitious Trojans. After their grieving period they finally received word that the Greeks had sailed away after a plague had wiped out most of them. In one brilliant moment, Paris had the idea that they reject the wooden horse and burn it to the ground. His father and their priests were aghast, why would they burn down a gift to the gods? In doing so they would have called down a curse upon themselves. They brought it inside their city and held a victory celebration that lasted the whole day. Nightfall came and while the pooped Trojans slept in their beds, some Greeks who holed inside the horse came out, killed the sleeping guards and opened the gates allowing their comrades to run inside and burn the whole thing to the ground. While his countrymen were running amuck pillaging the houses and temples and killing everyone who gets in their way, Achilles run around looking for his beloved Briseis. Before they met again, she whacked King Agamemnon off and before his men could finish her off, Achilles arrived in the nick of time and killed the others. But Briseis' reluctance to follow her lover's entreaty cost Achilles' life. Paris saw the opportunity to make up for years of utter wimpiness and first shot the invincible Achilles through his heel. And despite his cousin's pleadings to stop, Paris followed it up with four more shots through his kidney. After a final kiss between the two lovers Paris speeds her off to safety before the Greeks could find out who finished off their hero. The movie ends with Achilles' funeral pyre lit by Odysseus.
Like I said before it's good that I learned not to expect anything from this movie al though I do like it. It lacks the seriousness and epic quality of that other sword-and-sandal movie, Gladiator. The script and the shots could've been tightened a bit more, and I was more focused on the actors were instead of their acting (prolly stemming from the need for getting more into the characters' flesh instead or merely acting them out). Also, what's the deal with the names of the gods? Historically speaking, we know that the Greeks came before the Romans so it should follow that they should refer to their gods correspondingly. Although they did get the name Zeus correct, they should have referred to Apollo as Helios and Neptune as Poseidon. Another deal is the date, while it was shown that the alleged war happened around 3,200 BC doing some research in the internet would show that the war happened two centuries later. So who's the truth? But although Troy's existence has been and still is relegated to legend, the earlier date of 3,200 BC justifies a great deal on the influences of Egyptian art on their statues. These are minor nitpickings and it doesn't add or subtract much from the story. I'd also like to echo a comment that the people behind the production managed to squeeze a ten-year long war into 2.50 hours leaving out many, many details out of the original story that made The Iliad such an engaging read. Maybe they should have included the involvement of the gods into their story. Even a minor one. A smidgen background even. They don't need to speak, they can be special effects added every now. But that's just me. Hmmm… now, should we expect a sequel showing the travails of Sean Bean's character and crew's return back to Greece?
* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.
We met around past nine in the evening and by then the whole place was already swinging. Good thing the inside of the restaurant is well insulated barring the sounds making the place very conducive to conversation. We each had our orders and we wrongly thought two extra rice would round off our dinner nicely. Bad move. We underestimated the Paella Marinara and other meat dishes we ordered despite the fact we were famished when we started.
Good food, great friends. What more can I ask?
Now say "Aaahh..."
Snuffing it out
My complimentary birthday carrot cake.
Joel and Christine: not yet official but getting there
At the end of the meal I was given a slice of special carrot cake as requested by Sheila. It was unfortunate I didn't get to finish the thing since we were already fit to burst. Then we went to join the others at Bistro 110 near the heart of the business district. Turns out that Jorge's brothers and their friends had already started hanging out at that place some four hours prior. Some dropped by and joined us, the others left after a while. We hung out for a while before leaving at 1:25 a.m.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Charlene (my wife) and I spent some time with Rita Bennet (Christian counselor). When Rita prayed with me, I received a special visitation from Christ. During this prayer I was called into manhood (masculinity) as Christ approached me on the front porch of our home when I was three years of age.
I saw the following. Jesus came to me as I was standing there. I had been playing with my neighborhood girlfriend Carol. She was extending her baby doll to me.
I was making the decision that was to affect the rest of my life's choices.
But the event took a different twist than it did some 47 years past, for Jesus was within the situation, standing beside me. I looked up into His face. Such a calmness and strength about Him! He smiled and said, "Jerry, I have something here for you. It's much better for you to play with this. It's okay to be a truck driver . . . a man. It's okay because that's what I want you to be."
He then held out to me a large wood (obviously homemade) red pickup truck. It was the neatest I'd seen. I took it from His large hand and placed it on the floor to play with. I rolled it back and forth. It was very heavy. Jesus then began to make the sounds of an engine, and to my surprise sat down beside me in order to share the fun with me. He was obviously having fun with me. He rolled the truck back and forth to me, encouraging me to make the same kind of engine sounds. I did. At one point He was lying on His left side, getting more and more at eye level with me. His smile and laughter were beyond description.
Then Jesus got up and clasped my hand. We were going somewhere. Carol was still playing with her doll. Before Jesus and I stepped off the porch, He turned and took hold of me at the waist, lifting me abruptly above His head, suspending me there for what seemed a long time. I was able to view this from both within and outside my body. At one moment I saw what appeared to be a still snapshot of the scene. And then I was looking down into the kindest face I have ever seen. His eyes were filled with joy in me. His arms were so strong. I thought, How can He hold me in the air so long above His head? It seemed as though His hands completely encompassed my waist. And the incredible strength! It radiated from his forearms and into His fingertips and into my arched body.
Then He set me down firmly on my feet, saying, "Come on, let's go for a walk." I bent down to pick up my red truck and took hold of His hand. I looked back and saw Carol, still in her feminine imaginary world, playing with her doll. She waved goodbye.
Ahead of us was a long sidewalk. There were large trees on either side of the walk, providing something of a tunnel-like effect. I walked with an inner confidence that I never known before. As I looked up into the trees, I could feel the truck tucked close to my right side, while my left hand was securely fastened in Christ's firm grip. The sun was shining and I was happy. So happy! . . .
Lord knows I want Him to come, take me back to the time when I was a kid and play with me too.
* Francis McNutt, Deliverance from Evil Spirits: A Practical Manual (Chosen Books: a division of Baker Book House Company, 2003), pp. 122-123 .
I like this strip but it would have been a lot funnier if God was pictured alone without the native American Indian shaman. Or maybe, if could have pictured a Roman Catholic priest and an albularyo or local quack doctor. That would be have been a lot funnier since it fits more into the context of the Filipinos.
Friday, May 14, 2004
We were waiting for our seats when I took this one
Those lamps would've looked a lot better if this were a lot clear.
Ma and my brother looking through the menu.
I liked the food but I guess it was too exotic for me. The taste, I mean. It could've been better. Then we finished the night out with some coffee and cakes at the Tea Leaf & Coffee Bean place.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
This is an extended version of this week's strip with a slightly different punchline. This is the first time I've done something like it and time willing I'll probably be able to do something like it again. Although I do cook on occassion (or even without) I haven't attempted anything like these I've shown here. In the same way I don't live in a fully furnished big studio apartment either. Another thing is I haven't eaten kuhol or escargot to the gourmet sophisticate. Sorry. Am my pants on fire yet? Seriously, I wouldn't even dare to touch the thing.
Another thing is I've already eaten that kind of barbecue I've pictured above. It was marinated in very heavy sauce and the lighting wasn't that good either so I didn't discover was I was holding till I took a bite out of it. Oh yeah, despite the fact that the menu somewhat borders on the bizzare it's nothing like those outlined in the published skit scripts of an old British comedy variety show The Two Ronnies Sketchbook (1978). Can you imagine ordering something out of the menu like "Forced Camel Liver Marinaded in Rain Water for five days and pressed through a Moss-Encrusted Balaclava Helmet by a Pregnant Yak" or "Roast Porcupine with Ant-Eater Dumplings" or "Oosh with Bolocki"? How about some "Jenz"? "Eschtroom"? "Deez Gustinks"? Or what about some exotic cuisine called "Bill"? Yeah right.
* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
Birthdays are supposed to be special. You only have the privilege to celebrate ONE special day out of 365 and I don't think it's wrong to expect it to turn out to be something different and out of the ordinary. Sadly, this knowledge is confined to only one individual. Like earlier tonight while I was walking towards the mall the thought that complete strangers and merchants whose stalls I'm passing by would stop to smile and greet me a happy birthday. I would be all embarrassed by attention then I would wave it away and say "Pshaw!" Is it too much to ask for birthdays to have this shimmery, shiny glow around all things? Short of it being a musical, the least I could expect is for people to be all sunshiny, happy, and bouncy. One of the worst things that could happen is for everyone to be nonchalant about it. I could be there standing on my bed with my pajamas on, a giant plastic cheese on my head, arms stretched up with a goofy grin waiting for that all important greeting and nobody would notice. I'm not going to advertise my birthday, it's too pathetic if I did. If I did then that might even put the person on the spot thinking I'm expecting a gift to be handed to me and party be organized in my honor. No, I'm going about it the subtle way. Though I really regret to say it's not working out the way I planned.
Here's my birthday wishlist. This, by far, is not the ultimate list but it's something I really, really want as of this moment *hint* *hint*:
1. A beautiful, loving, understanding, humorous, artistic wife.
2. A lazy fat orange tabby cat.
3. A Beagle, Chow-chow, or German Shepherd male puppy.
4. A silver convertible Chrysler PT Cruiser.
5. One of those bulky digital cameras serious photographers have.
6. An autographed picture of John Goodman.
7. The complete collection of the Lord of the Rings Platinum Series Special Extended Edition DVDs.
8. A scanner with more than 11" x 17" scanning surface.
9. A quiet studio condominium near Ayala Center.
10. A vacation cottage in the shires of New Zealand.
I'll probably add some more to this as it comes to mind.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Monday, May 10, 2004
The election has been peaceful so far compared to the past polls. That's something to be thankful for.
Looking for that all important name in the voters' list
Thumb thumping the ink strip
Winding up the vote with the incredi— er, indelible ink
Definitely cringe worthy.
NOOOOOOOO!! NOT THE CRAYON! NOT THE CRAYOOOOON!!!