The Yoyo and One Vantage Point

Every now and then, I would always remember one of the emails I received regarding man having just two choices the moment he wakes up and starts his day. So as this week seems to be a week of confusion, fun, adventure, fun—or in short, just confusion, I had to deal with these two choices: is it going to be a good or a bad day? So on April fool’s day, despite already having a hint of the things that may happen within the week, my wife and I refused to let it go down on us. We chose to be happy.

At lunch time we decided to eat at Brazilian Bbq restaurant in ATC which is fairly new in the area. The place is just at the back of the former Saisaki restaurant and its small space gives a homey feel to it. I think it can only accommodate approximately 50 customers at a time—less elbows to rub, less buffet rivals, more chance to pick and savor the food. Don’t be deceived by its size though as this restaurant packs a variety of good food, mostly grilled. I don’t know who conceptualized it, but this place gives yoyo diet a new definition.

Other than the plates, spoons and forks, and condiments, the waiter also places a yoyo on the table. To a newcomer, this may come as surprise as to what its purpose may be. The yoyo is colored green on one side and red on the other. Laying the toy with green on top means a waiter will come to your table with random grilled food still at its rotisserie stake although you may ask whatever food you preferred. They’ll be coming right back until you’ve turned the yoyo over with its red side on top. It just occurred to me that this is a good way to keep the customers from saying “stop” while their mouth is “stuffed”. Wise idea.

As we normally do, we checked out the movies after the hearty meal. And as much as I’m longing to watch an animated film, Horton. I quickly erased the thought of it as the grilled meat made me look for something adrenalin-packed. So we transferred to the nearby Festival Mall and without any doubt I saw what I’m looking for—Vantage Point.

The first 30 minutes of the movie will make one think of seeing a crappy film. The scenes keep on coming back at 11:59:59 AM. Back and forth, back and forth. It drags. Sooner though, the plot continues to become clearer and interesting and that is when the movie reveals what 8 strangers, 8 stories, 1 vantage point mean. The car chase scenes are almost at par with that of Ronin. Other that the obvious Hollywood flaws like the almost preserved clean state of some of the characters amidst the bomb blast and car crashes this movie has a cast who renders convincingly great acting. Two thumbs up.

***

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Wanted: Dodge Viper Photos

(originally written for my multiply.com blog)

Calling all my multiply.com contacts. If anyone of you is planning to drop by Ayala Town Center for whatever reason this weekend, I’ll be very glad if you can bring along your lovely cameras and take photos of my favorite Dodge Viper.

After watching Step Up 2 last night with my wife and while still high with the hip-hop beats and controlling myself to do my shameful mimicry of the B-Boys steps on our way to the parking lot, we saw some activity at the fountain area. The commotion gave me the feeling that something special is going to be on top of the constructed metal frames. I was right. Just outside was a beat up lorry with a shiny red or maroon (can’t get exact color as it was dimly lit outside) Dodge Viper waiting to be unloaded. I almost dropped to my knees when I saw it but the only thing that prevented me from doing so is the 1st commandment . (Hey, it’s Lenten season and hopefully you know what it is.)

I can imagine right now the throng of Viper fans or just curious crowds it has attracted since the mall opened today. And most probably, any local celebrity in that area would be over-shadowed by this car’s presence. They may even just be contented enough to get near it and most likely dream that they have the money to own one – just like I always do.

So this week, I’m expecting photos of it coming from my multiply contacts. And whoever posts the first picture will have my respect. Hahaha.

Good luck! I’ll wait for it.

1000 Kilometers, 1 B-Movie, 3 Coffees

Yesterday, I had to bring the car back to Honda for its first 1000 km check-up even if it meant having only three hours of sleep and waking up by mid-day after a stressful 12-hour graveyard shift. I was at Honda Alabang at exactly 1 PM as scheduled.

Expecting the check-up to last only for about two hours, I spent some time eating in their homely cafeteria and appreciating the customer lounge’s comfy couch and widescreen TV which was showing an HBO thriller. I likewise tried some cat naps to fill my lack of sleep.

Two hours later I was called by the service agent but to my dismay it was just to fill in the service form and the actual check-up would commence right after I completed the needed details. I learned that the check-up itself would be after another two hours more. Damn. Two more hours of reruns. I was craving for strong caffeine already.

An idea then came up. ATC here I go again. I was thinking I could get doze off inside the cinema. Ironically, as I was preparing myself for a 115-peso sleep, my body, as if under hypnotism led me to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. My brain was trying to sleep but my body craved for caffeine. Just great. Inside me was an ongoing battle if who the really boss is.

So my body got its coffee, my brain came next and it was selecting between four movies. Well a sleep is what I need so the sleepy brain picked what seems to be a B-movie. Dreamland in the next few minutes.

Right after I grabbed my ticket for the movie Cloverfield, I excitedly entered the cool and almost vacant cinema, and then picked my spot away from the scattered moviegoers. I don’t normally enter in the middle of a film, but sleep was the main purpose.

I was 30 minutes late from the start of the movie and my brain was already trying to prep itself into snoozefest. I don’t know if I’m that dazed as I find the scenes quite dizzying but I realized sooner that it’s part of the movie’s effect. The Blair Witch Project came into my mind–Cloverfield is set to first person perspective thus creating an amateur effect. Perfect. A copycat is what I need to fall asleep.

I don’t know if my brain succeeded into getting its much needed sleep even after my body got its dose of the strong and large Americano. I never knew who won the who-is-the-boss struggle but I woke up watching movie trailers. So I looked at my watch and it was just an hour and a half. The movie finished earlier than I expected. It was a short film.

Upon checking my cellphone I found out that Honda still has not sent me an SMS to claim Mary. That gave me another hour to kill. So the curiosity to confirm if I was having nightmares while inside the cinema or had actually witnessed a weird ending of the movie made me decide to watch the film from the very beginning.

The trailers ended. The cinema lights once again dimmed and the featured movie starts once again. And just as I find the ending weird enough, the start itself is just as unpredictable. A couple of people actually booed after seeing the chroma bars and as some weird text negatives uncontrollably started appearing and rolling. Unknown to most of us, the film has started.

Cloverfield’s plot I soon found out is about a couple of young New Yorkers having a farewell party for a friend.One of them is taking a documentary of everything in the apartment. Some are recording their wishes and goodbyes in the video.

The twist of the story came. While at the peak of the merry-making a loud noise is heard and the place shakes with all the lights in every building outside going out momentarily. What happens next is reminiscent of the 911 attack. There is panic. Buildings crumble. People running around the ravaged and dusty streets. Everything looks surreal.

Chaos and confusion ensue and the video shakes further and everything blurs. Then the amateur cam captures a monstrous creature that would put Godzilla to shame.  It delivers a damaging blow to the Brooklyn Bridge and it decapitates the historic Statue of Liberty sending the head crashing on the parked cars miles away. Suddenly, I feel like I was among those running for their lives. Surprisingly, I was beginning to enjoy the movie. I was immersed.

As the plot thickens, and as emotions and mayhem intensify, I felt something in my thigh beginning to vibrate and buzz. I was wondering if I was experiencing a 4D sensation but damn, it was my cellphone alarm going off. It was time for me to leave. Never before have I hated leaving a B-movie. I went out  feeling bad not having finished the show. I walked out as if with the dilemma if I’ll stay and finish all of it or getting Mary out before Honda closes at 6 PM.

My mind’s made up. Ten minutes before closing time I was back in Honda’s service area. It’s getting dark outside when I drove away, and I was still thinking of what I’ve just watched. I was hoping that I’ll be transported back to Cloverfield and would have cared less if Mary and I gets entangled in the devastation. I really got hooked.

***

There were a couple more coffee shops Mary brought us within its 1000 km break-in period. She brought us to Bag of Beans in Tagaytay after a cold night dinner at Leslie’s with my wife’s brother and sister-in-law.

A week after that, we took the Talisay road going to Sto. Tomas Batangas. Mary endured the steep, tight and blind turns with me having her just at second gear for almost 15 kilometers to avoid careening off the road. Eventually, that trip took us to a cozy and warm coffee shop in Tanauan, Dairymoor.

And the verdict? All three coffees taste the same. I just can’t remember which shop costs the least. Definitely not The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

***

Wrote this blog’s draft while at our company’s parking lot, waiting for my wife.

 

Beowulf: The Future of Animation

After coming back to Honda Cars Alabang like a restless car buff ghost haunting the place until he gets what he wants, I dropped by Ayala Town Center to catch a van going back to Cavite. Curiosity however guided my feet to pass by the cinemas to check out the movies. Three cinemas were showing Beowulf but I remembered someone on multiply.com had a bad review of it so I scrapped the idea of buying the tickets.

With Bread Talk delicacies on hand I proceeded to the van terminal and was looking forward to be at home an hour after lunch and maybe watch PBB or have my regular siesta. Disappointingly, the vans were all empty and the dispatcher mentioned that the first trip will leave by 2 PM which left me no other choice but to go back inside the mall and convince myself to check Beowulf despite the threat of a possibly bad movie. But the expected didn’t come. My siesta clock shut off and there I was in front of the big screen, eyes wide open.

From the very start of the movie until the end I can’t believe everything is 3D animation. I’ve mentioned this before that time will come when we can’t differentiate an animated character to a real one and I think it is now starting to happen. The cast and crew of this movie did a great job. I don’t know the technology behind such realism but whatever it is, it is the start of the future of animation.

Anyone watching this film would notice the resemblance of the animated characters to the real actors behind the face and voice. Just after watching Meet Joe Black, I immediately recognized John Hopkins is Hrothgar. And there’s Unferth whose accent and stare revealed he is John Malkovich. Of course, people who have seen Angelina Jolie would immediately know who those pouty lips belong to even in animation. She plays the seductive Grendel’s mother. I don’t know the rest of the actors behind the other characters but I’m sure the resemblance could be spot on.

I doubt though if Ray Winstone (Beowulf) has all the battle scars on his body. But this is another thing that I find fascinating about this movie. It may have cost a bit more to produce such quality of animation than using prosthetics or make up but the advantage weighs more than the cost. For one, the producers had the pleasure of doing whatever they want for an actor or character to look like. Beowulf could definitely set the trend.

The story may have some flaws but the experience of watching the awesome animation totally compensated for all of it. It was soooo good that I think viewing it on IMAX could be more thrilling and fun. Wait, forget fun, for this is not for the squeamish or weak of heart. And just a word of advice, do not bring and eat pizza or even Bavarian donuts (or any food that drips) if you’re picking this movie. Trust me, you’ll regret it. I just hope I’m not going to have nightmares tonight.