Rogue One Versus Popcorn

Rogue One is one of those movies that Marcus had been waiting but it premiered in the Philippines when we were already busy packing stuffs and going through our travel checklist over and over again. He was all smiles when he heard he’d catch up on it where we would be after four days.

Cold but eager Rogue One fan. Outside Arden Fair while we wait to get our tickets.

 

I’m beginning to get the hang of taking selfies from different angles.

 

We are lucky to be one of those watching in this recently opened cinema in the area.

 

 

Big bucket of popcorn and comfy seat complete Marcus’ experience.

 

Team popcorn.

Did I just say popcorn? Well, Rogue One is one of those movies I fought off sleep by eating popcorn. At some point I knew I slept and twitched and dreamed and talked in Filipino. Sorry American seatmates if I snored as well.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Achievement unlocked: found food in the pantry on my own.)

 

 

There is a Turtle in Us

 

There is a turtle in all of us. Well, at least that’s how it now appears to be in our case.  More than a week ago my wife and I watched on Umagang Kay Ganda a segment wherein they featured turtles for pets and when we told Marcus about it, the next days that followed was filled with questions “Where do I get a turtle?”, “When can I have a turtle?”, and similar other questions with the word turtle in it.  So yesterday was the day we found and bought one and achieved peace. How happy was Marcus? We got a couple of goodnight hugs from him which rarely happens.

Rafael meets Raphael.

Somewhere in Bacolod, however, one was obviously not a big fan of turtles. Over the phone this morning, I told my mother the good news that we finally got a pet for Marcus. A pet that doesn’t have a fur that could trigger allergic reactions. But to confirm the suspicion I had since I was in high school, she immediately advised that the turtle shouldn’t be kept inside the house as people say it makes the life of anyone who has it slow. That flashed me back in time when I found one crawling in our backyard that I kept in our toilet while I try to find the right box for it. That turtle which was about the size of a saucer disappeared without a trace when I returned to check it. My mother said it must have escaped but our toilet had walls of slippery white tiles and a small window above five feet plus I knew I closed the door just before I left. I wasn’t given the chance to name the turtle Houdini.

To entertain my mother’s opinion on this innocent reptile and just to make that mother-knows-best notion true, my career path has been indeed a drag. Could be the effect of keeping, while briefly, a turtle or could be due to me being contented of what I have or could be due to the workplace environment where I am currently at. The safest to blame would be the turtle. Anyway, after years of trying to move on and positioning myself on the next step of the career ladder, I landed the job I least expected to get. It was turtle-pace movement but I’d take it. I learned about the good news just a day before our account celebrated its fifth year this weekend.

Oh, yes, Marcus named the turtle of course. It’s now called Raphael. It costs us 450 pesos to get it so we need to save before we get another of his cowabunga friends.

***

Among yesterday’s mall itinerary was to watch a movie and the perfect film on the day we get a new pet is no other than Secret Life of Pets.  It is about the story of what pets do the moment their busy owners step out of the door to resume their busy life in New York. As an adult I would say that this is among those many films with its trailer far more entertaining that the full movie itself but looking at how Marcus decided to stay put in his wheelchair—he gets an unimpeded view of the screen from the isle—instead of on my lap during the entirety of the movie tells me that he enjoyed it. And as usually the case, an animated film for kids is meant to be just that. For kids.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Expecting a long day with the turtle.)

Do you believe in monsters?

The charm of a movie does not always have to be based on hype but sometimes it is on how an audience relates to it. Sometimes it is both and when that happens it becomes one worthy movie to watch. This is the case for the movie Goosebumps  which we first learned from Marcus, thanks to YouTube.

Goosebumps is a movie based on a popular book and TV series back in the days when its present young fans like our son weren’t around yet and when TV were showing more entertaining and intelligent shows. Fortunately for us there is the trusty Hollywood that allows us to reminisce the good old days while seated beside our ever curious children and as we blindly dig our hands into same cheesy popcorn bucket.

What I personally like about Goosebumps is its appeal to people who like to read and write regardless of skill. As a so-called blogger, it never ceases to amaze me how an author’s imagination could be translated into words, into sentences, into paragraphs, into pages, and finally into a book with a plot that is entertaining, interesting and more importantly, one that millions of readers could very well relate to.

We believe in monsters.

For moviegoers as young as Marcus, the idea of monsters becoming real may be something new. Goosebumps, however, surely isn’t the first to show monsters coming out of books. Do not ask me to cite examples as I am bad in recalling movie titles but I just know that there have been others ahead of Goosebumps yet it does not mean that all is lost.

For one, it is worth noting the presence of the actor Jack Black as one of the main casts. Like his previous roles in movies like School of Rock and Nacho Libre, Jack Black continues to prove that he is among the top actors not just for comic relief but also when there is a need to inject the element of mystery. In the movie Jack Black plays the role of R.L. Stine who is the original author of the Goosebumps series that became popular in the 90s. The movie’s story goes that R.L. Stine was once outcast—could be true in real life—who isolated himself from the bullies of society and, eventually, in the confines of his room wrote stories that have monsters in it. He wrote so much stories of the same genre that he has lost count how many monsters he has created which later on became too much to handle when everything got out of his books and terrorized a sleepy village in Madison, Delaware.

Goosebumps should also remind us that there were times when authors spend endless nights on their typewriters—or others still do?—to create that one story that would soon make it into the bookshelves and bed sides around the world. Yes, the typewriter, the machine, that makes weird mechanical noise that could be very well mistaken as monsters by kids of the touchscreen age.

What fascinates me about people like R.L. Stine and even Stephen King is their influence. They create stories to escape reality, their readers read to escape the same reality—and others would even be so inspired that they become good writers in their own right. Let us not forget, however, whether we like it or not, that reality bites—literally and figuratively. That there aren’t really monsters, that fantasy has its end, and that the last page exists.

The good news, as R.L Stine said in the movie, “there are three elements in my stories, the start, the end, and the twist.” True enough just when everything seems to be cliché, good guys beat bad guys, Goosebumps makes its audience look forward to something until its next installment returns, until we see the invisible boy. We now crave for more.

***

In hindsight, there are real monsters in our midst. Some in the form of bad politicians, bad traffic, bad boss, and even bad afternoon shows.  Each one of us are battling our own monsters and there is one that lives inside Marcus which he continues to fight head on. It is one that’s cannot be seen by the naked eye but is much scarier than those of R.L. Stein’s.

No tears shed on this second blood extraction for this year.
We got him a fitting cap for his bravery after the extraction. One that Super Mario wears and one that could very well mean Super Marcus.
For the second time this weekend, we were back in the mall, this time for his first visit to the dentist to check his shark tooth. No tears here as well.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (I will get the blood extraction result today. Fingers crossed.)

What I Learned From American Sniper

The American Sniper
Image from the web.

My second attempt to watch the American Sniper was a success.  Last weekend it did not happen as we got stopped right at the ticket booth. By ‘we’ I mean that I was with my son who felt equally disappointed when he learned that he is not allowed yet to watch the R13 rated movie. He’s got seven more years before he gets past the cinema’s turnstile. Yesterday, I was with wifey, just the two of us.

The movie served more of a visual treat of what transpired in the American Sniper book that I finished reading just recently. Having read the additional entry on the ebook regarding the making of the movie, also prepared me to expect that some parts of the story where tweaked and that other events did not make it to its film version. I would have appreciate, however, if the movie included the part where the enemy made use of beach balloons to cross the marsh and how Chris Kyle ended the terrorists’ creative strategy. Several other accounts written by Chris Kyle himself would have made the movie a lot more entertaining.

Yet American Sniper isn’t just about entertainment. Given the gruesome nature of this Clint Eastwood movie as adapted from the true story of how one man was able to achieve 160 official kills in his four tours in Iraq, there are looming ethical questions that surround it. For one, does it justify to shoot anyone who appears to satisfy a sniper’s rules of engagement? It’s a tough question that only snipers themselves will be able to answer with a straight face. But believe it or not, anyone one could learn beyond just shooting the bad guys. One does not need to be enlisted in the Armed Forces to appreciate the lessons that the American Sniper imparts. (Cited below are excerpts from the ebook).

“Comms and navigation are a lot further down the list for most SEALs. The worst school you can send someone to has to do with intel. People hate that. They joined the SEALs to kick down doors, not to gather intelligence. But everyone has a role.” (p. 327)

  1. Everyone has a role and someone’s got to do the dirty job. Sometimes we begin to be de-motivated having to continue doing our present role. We also hate being re-assigned—changes that will get us out of our comfort zones. In any case, resentment usually sets in and we question our role in an organization. By looking at the bigger picture, we should be able to identify where we stand and realize our contribution.

“I SAID IT BEFORE AND I’LL KEEP SAYING IT: I’M NOT THE BEST shot in the world. There were plenty of guys better than me, even in that class. I only graduated about middle of the pack…You need skill to be a sniper, but you also need opportunity. And luck. (P. 108)

  1. It is a fact, the real world is a different story. There are so many factors that would change what we learned in school. To excel in academics is one thing, to find that opportunity and luck to be able excel in real life is another. Acquire the skills so that when opportunity presents itself, you are fit and ready.

“WE HAD A LONG BREAK FROM WAR, BUT WE WERE BUSY THE whole time, retraining and, in some cases, learning new skills.” (p. 206)

  1. Regular training is the key to avoid stagnancy. Employees who belong to an organization who keeps on training everyone to hone their skills are the lucky ones (cross-training is also a known method to motivate employees). Doing something over and over again until the correct routine becomes second nature will ensure that job expectations are effectively and efficiently delivered and as a result customer satisfaction is achieved.

“Getting through BUD/ S and being a SEAL is more about mental toughness than anything else. Being stubborn and refusing to give in is the key to success. Somehow I’d stumbled onto the winning formula.” (p. 29)

  1. Failures will happen and we will be tested based on our attitude towards. Anyone with the tenacity to face trials head on will always come out as the clear winner.

“I wanted to do my thing, which was being a sniper…I wanted to be the best at what I wanted to do. I think a lot of people had trouble with that attitude. They naturally thought that anyone who was good should have a very high rank.” (p. 354)

5. Love your job and rewards will eventually come along the way. Enjoying the job is very important. If it is fun, it is worth doing. This is where I would use “note to self.”

These are just a few of the lessons from American Sniper. Read the book and learn that heroes behind the crosshair are also humans. Plain humans just like us who at the end of the day continue to ask themselves, “Was it all worth it?”

***

In memory of our own fallen heroes. The SAF 44.

***

The pizzas are the bad guys, oatmeal grains are the SEALs. There’s now CQB somewhere inside me. (After the movie, wifey and I finally indulged ourselves with S&R’s pizza. I was stuffed.)

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (The goal is to eat more oatmeal this week.)

Shooting Two Birds

A worthy purchase–my first non-free ebook.

Start reading something new again this year. Watch the American Sniper this weekend. These were two personal plans that until today seem hard to achieve. But after two straight days of sleeping around midnight and waking up three hours after–yes, my almost four years of BPO life has taken over my normal sleeping pattern, and honestly I miss the days when I sleep uninterrupted from night until the right breakfast moment–I finally did myself a favor.

It’s Sunday morning and I just shot two birds with one stone. Immediately after reading the sample from my Kindle for Android app I decided that today’s the perfect day I swipe my plastic card to pay for my first ebook ever and at the same time know the story of an American legend. Although it’s not really through a movie, yet, I am quite sure that with this book I will learn more about how a man shot his way (pardon the pun) into history.

Two birds with one stone is something I don’t know if Chris Kyle did manage to do using a sniper rifle but I will know soon. So if you’ll excuse me I have a day to find out. I’m now on page 19.

***

Interestingly, sometime in November last year–also on a weekend, same unholy hour–I purchased my first Google Play movie. It was Mark Wahlberg’s Shooter–also a sniper movie.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (It’s cold outside. The pan de sal is calling.)

Thanksgiving Staycation

The calendar on my phone tells me it is Friday, past 3 a.m. I have just awakened from a cold sleep. I gazed around but no double-deck beds, no La-Z-Boy recliners either. I stepped out and no hallway too. On my left is a living area and on my right, the dining–floor fully carpeted. On the kitchen counter are tea and coffee packs neatly arranged on a white porcelain tray. Obviously I am not at work. Aw snap, I remember, I am in a Bellevue Alabang suite.

Thanksgivings haven’t been like this. It is not so often that I spend my time off with some other people at work and I am not bothered. I am with a party of selected employees and bosses but there is absence of stress. The only pressure was if I can keep up with everyone else during meal.

Brunch was at Shakey’s Paseo Sta. Rosa. Dinner was at Yakimix ATC. Ironically, in between these gut-busting itinerary our group watched a movie: Hunger Games. It was my first time to watch it and despite lack of sleep I was able to finish Mockingjay – Part 1–maybe it was because of Katniss Everdeen, or maybe President Alma Coin, or maybe just because I had one Starbucks venti Americano with an additional shot.

I am now stuffed as a turkey and buffet breakfast is fast approaching. Time to consider the gym.

Bellevue Alabang, What really goes on inside a staycation guest head
Staycation thoughts.

***

Tidbits:

I typed staycation and spell check suggests ‘stay caution.’ Well, the bathroom scale agrees.

Hunger Games is like work: there’s Capitol and there are people who want to obliterate it. (Don’t ask me but I’m Katniss’ cat.)

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I want to do this again.)

Interstellar: Our Wormhole

Interstellar, wormhole, interstellar review, interstellar blog
Image from the web.

A couple of months after, wifey and I were able to watch a movie again without Marcus. Our kid willingly stayed behind with his own Mr. and Mrs. Wilson–he is our good neighbor’s own Dennis the Menace. Our time out together was worth it, thanks to Interstellar.

Spoilers have been out since Interstellar premiered but my interest to see the latest Christopher Nolan film remained. I was among those who were curious to know how Hollywood can pull off another space adventure movie after Gravity. Just like the Sandra Bullock starrer, scientists–as they claim to be–expressed their expert opinion that some concepts in Interstellar are far-fetched. However, like how the adult Murphy Cooper sat in her room to figure out everything, we sat still in front of the giant cinema screen–hot Krispy Kreme coffee and donuts in hand.

There is a good thing about not having a good grasp of quantum physics, space dynamics, and all the jargons only NASA and space exploration geeks understand. Such lack of technical knowledge and prejudice allowed me to focus on the concept that man in the distant future will travel through space and time. And the concept that somewhere out there are other dimensions that go beyond what the past and current generation believe only belongs to pages of science fiction books.

Interstellar may indeed be flawed but what Hollywood movie isn’t? For all I care right now is that it was the perfect movie for me and wifey. Interstellar was a wormhole that transported us out of parenting–almost three hours of good entertainment that feels like a week of a well-deserved break. Oh by the way, we picked up Marcus and yes, he is still six years old.

***

Things I learned from Interstellar:

1. Have a bookshelf and save the world. Yes, that shelf where you stack paper pages sandwiched between soft or hard covers. Need I say you read them as well?

2. Dust will eventually kill us all. Space may be a giant vacuum but it won’t clean the house. Time to find that thing that sucks dust.

3. Minecraft has become this much influential. Just look at TARS. I rest my case.

Interstellar, wormhole, interstellar review, interstellar blog, Minecraft, Enderman is TARS
This Enderman from Minecraft. (Image from the web.)
Interstellar, wormhole, interstellar review, interstellar blog, Minecraft, Enderman is TARS
Now this one walking behind is TARS. (Image from the web.)

4. The demand for cornflakes will stay until end of the world. And maybe farming in general. I now wonder if Marcus will learn how to plow.

5. “How did you know? Because dad promised me.” Interstellar’s cheesy moment but does anyone object that this is true?

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I promised not to eat junk todat. That’s the plan.)

Too Much Hollywood

“Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction…” – Bad Religion

Who can accept that one way or another Hollywood has made an impact in their lives? I for one am raising both hands. Don’t get me wrong, but needless to say I have neither been near Hollywood nor ever have seen in person even one Oscar’s nominee or awardee. I’m not even an actor material (reminds me to check heritage.com). As much as I’d like to, I was never that close.

Just like everyone else I get my daily dose of it out of the boob tube if not from the giant silver screen. And as far as I can recall I’ve been watching a bit of it almost every day even since I was kid. Heck, that may even be the reason I started telling fabricated stories when I was yet in grade school. Just like any kid does. Remarkably better than an embedded chip, Hollywood movies or TV shows really know how to find their place in our mind, stay there for good and eventually affecting our daily lives – whether we like it or not.

Moreover, with the steady influx of technological advancement that is getting affordable or at least accessible to the masses (at a rate that’s quicker than most people can get their salary increases) blurs the line between real and reel life every time. From cable TV, the internet, mobile TV, virtual reality and my favorite high definition audio, one’s senses and imagination get treated better than it was before. Each sensory experience is getting more surreal and usually it feels so satisfying that oftentimes creating a make believe environment just like in the movies is as easy as closing one’s eyes.

Not trying to sound psychotic or one who has taken a good dose of hallucinogens and brandishing the peace sign, I love to entertain myself by superimposing some sort of Hollywood-ish flavor into my reality as often as I please.

Like a couple of weeks ago until today, the weather has been harsh in our part of the globe. Mornings would usually come with bright orange dawn and would continue to become a very sunny, warm and humid noontime. In a matter of minutes though, as if on cue, AND as if a scene coming right out of Tom Cruise’s War of the Worlds, the sky would be overcast and the dreaded lightning flashes streak across the black backdrop. What follows next is a thunder roaring like something out of an Armageddon setting. During these times, I can beat Dash’s speed ten times. Trust me.

To keep reality in check, I always appreciate the presence of shows such as my favorite Mythbusters and when I get the chance or when my remote fingers stray away, I like watching Nat Geo’s What Happens If? and Mad Labs. These are shows which remind me that Hollywood will never be equal to reality (at least for now). It reminds me that cars falling off the cliff won’t normally explode, a piercing bullet in a gas tank doesn’t mean an instant kaboom, sticking a knife on a ship’s sail won’t cushion or slow down your fall and many more fallacies being obviously exposed that every time I get to watch a movie makes me a bad viewer–just waiting for mistakes to happen.

But my love-hate relationship with the weather always fascinates me that I can easily relate either a blue sky day or a cumulus laden heaven from a scene out of the movie world. For example, waking up this afternoon I saw that my wife eagerly waited to show me an animation of the typhoon Fengshen (local name, Frank). Although this typhoon is nowhere near a super storm, the rotating mass at the center which covers a great part of Luzon switched my neurons into role-playing time. I immediately heard a clapper sounding inside my head and saw a camera crane panning from behind me to my left showing just the glowing monitor which became a perfect backlight to emphasize my profile. If I could have lifted the mouse anywhere near my mouth and pretend it’s a transmitter’s mouthpiece, I could have uttered the words, “Andrea Gail…there’s a storm coming your way.”

storm
What the Frank!

As much as I find reality annoying and most of the days it is just tempting to surrender myself to our coach, grab one tube of Pringles, a bottle of ice cold beer complemented by a good DVD movie and an ever sympathetic wife just by my side, having a grasp of the concrete life along with its demanding goals remains a test of our true character. A character that plays its part unconditionally even without the luxury that its reel counterpart enjoys but with the assurance that every well-played part in the real world will have its real rewards and hopefully will have its own happy finale. But then again, I’d appreciate it a lot if our lives can readily have an alternate ending. Ti abi.

Wunderground

Credits: Images from Wunderground.com

***

It appears like the cancellation of our Ilocos trip which was supposed to happen next week is a blessing in disguise. From wunderground.com, it shows that typhoon Frank seems to be planning to go along with our road trip. Hahaha. The price we have to pay for celebrating our wedding anniversary every June.

Of Pricey Seafood and Iron Man

The recent gas price hike didn’t keep us inside our house on a weekend. It’s not that we’re rich or never really cared if a liter will cost us around Php 50.00 (>USD 1.00) but it’s just that we craved for Indian food since last week. And Sunday was a much awaited day and when it finally arrived, we were so raring to go. I was looking forward to this day that I had my red collared shirt pressed.

Originally we were headed for Bollywood restaurant in Greenbelt 3 Makati. After attending mass, however, in the Shrine of Jesus church, we decided that maybe the giant Mall of Asia (MOA) would have some Indian food to offer. Less than 10 minutes of driving, most of it spent at the exit and pedestrian crossings, from one parking lot to another we reached the mall.

Like past visits in MOA, I had mixed feelings of excitement and confusion as soon as we stepped inside. This mall is so huge that it has a dizzying effect especially if you don’t exactly have a plan in mind to where you’re headed. Or maybe I’m just not the window shopping expert who relaxes at the sight and thought of the numerous stores ahead.

It was already lunch time so we immediately checked the stores locator. Bingo! We spotted an obvious Bollywood alternative. The name itself shouts I’m an Indian food restaurant: Prince of Jaipur. I likewise noted Fish & Co.‘s location. I got hungrier with anticipation.

Disappointingly, the Indian restaurant is deserted. It was as if a police caution tape has been placed around it while its surrounding restaurants had flocks of patrons, some are even eating al fresco. For whatever reasons, none were inside Jaipur’s. An empty Indian restaurant during lunch time is just not a good sign so we ditched the idea of eating there. Maybe our second choice would be good.

fishnco
Image grabbed from website.

Fish & Co. was enticing. Once we got inside the restaurant, the smell of the place tells me this one is a hit. The place is almost packed and everyone seems to be enjoying their meal. Happy customers mean good food, right? As we got seated the menu was promptly provided. The price list got my attention though. But since my mind was conditioned to have anything Indian, the Seafood curry on the menu convinced me to give it a chance. My wife picked the Prawn Fettuccini.

Our orders were served in no time. The presentation was just like in the menu book. So far my two senses agree that I got the right stuff. But just as my olfactory and vision are feasting on what’s on the table, my taste buds tell me that I’ve been robbed yet I continued eating. I even tried if my wife got better pasta than she ever had. Unfortunately, the umhs and the ahhs never came. Both orders didn’t deserve a round of applause. And by the way, the clam chowder is a shame compared to Don Henrico’s. ‘Curry $14, Pasta $10, having Sunday lunch at Fish & Co. priceless’ is just commercial tagline that won’t fit. The food is overpriced, period.

Next time, we’re eyeing MOA’s Sakae Sushi. Does buffet ring a bell?

***

ironman

Good thing we got our ticket for the 1:20 PM showing of the Iron Man at Centerstage—one reason to scram out of Fish & Co.

As I’m never an avid reader of marvel comics, I’m just going to give my pros and cons of this movie just the way I saw it.

Pros:

  • I dozed off at the first part of the Errr, this must be in Cons.
  • Setting aside Mythbusters, I find the effects such as the transformation and Iron Man’s flight great (I’m a sucker for anything that flies—except flies). We never know if such technology would someday come to reality but to quote ‘it’s all funded by the military’ should give us a hint.
  • The sound effects are overwhelming. Hearing the Jericho blast out of the missile pod makes me smile and that sonic boom Iron Man creates is pure pleasure.
  • Gadgets and cars galore!
  • The humor lines and puns are perfect.

Cons:

  • Story drags at first part plus the fact that someone invented something sophisticated inside a cave raises eyebrows.
  • Surgery and implants inside a crude environment? I wonder if anyone would survive for I could be wrong though, I’m no medical expert.
  • Let stupid villains be a thing of the past please. And because this movie continues to stereotype people, somewhere in the Middle East is likely an anti-Iron Man sentiment brewing.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is pathetic. Must be the talent fee that convinced her to still do it.

Overall, this movie is great if watched with a couple of friends over a bottle of beer just to kill time. And remember, always shutdown thoughts of the Mythbusters prior to watching the movie.