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.

***

The Rock Star in Me

“…Well we all just wanna be big rockstars And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars…” – Nickelback, Rockstar

“…Under the big top world We all need the clowns To make us smile…” – Journey, Faithfully

Other than being Pilots, some boys for sure dreamed of being Rock Stars. It has something to do with being free, being able to get that high. I know most teenagers would discover it in no time if you know what I mean.

Of course, most kids have also heard of fairy tales, whether they admit it or not. These fairy tales they would sooner or later discover as what enlightened adults call fiction. In short, it is not true. Does not and will not happen. For some, however, fiction could become reality. They would become Rock Stars.

For Arnel Pineda, this is exactly the case. He is the Filipino equivalent of the character Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg) in the movie Rock Star. If you check the film bit by bit, the resemblance of his and Arnel’s story is almost the same:

  • Chris Cole was discovered by Steel Dragon’s guitarist thru a tape recorded performance of his cover band, Blood Arnel Pineda was discovered by Journey’s Neal Schon thru a YouTube.com video of his band Zoo while performing the song Faithfully.
  • Chris Cole was contacted by a band member and dismissed the first phone call as a  hoax and Arnel Pineda reacted just the same.
  • Both characters eventually became lead vocalist of the band they just used to idolize and copy after being invited (and flown in) for an audition and passed.

Watching Arnel’s cover of Faithfully that was shot in Hard Rock Café and uploaded on YouTube sends goosebumps as I’d always remember the scene from Rock Star when Chris Cole did his cover of Stand Up. Both stories are must-know of any Rock Star wannabee.

So tomorrow if anyone by chance sees a bald driver doing air guitars and some passionate head bangs while stuck in traffic, most likely that would be me.

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.

 

Wanted: Evil Employees

Out of boredom last week I convinced myself, though  carless, to try watching a movie alone as I haven’t done this for a long while. After a hearty lunch of Wendy’s Bacon Cheeseburger, which I noticed by the way that its bacons are getting shorter and shorter every time I buy one, I picked Resident Evil Apocalypse out of the other three movies in SM Dasma’s homey cinema to spend my day off.

In the movie, Alice is portrayed as just among several “Alices” bioengineered by the infamous Umbrella Corp whose employees are now living several hundred feet under a vast deserted dried land. On the surface are hundreds of undead aimlessly walking and waiting for any human they can bite and infect.

After appreciating the fact that the movie started with Alice (Milla Jovovich) laying butt-naked and wet in the shower, I sooner got bored with it. I always knew that I start to hate a movie when I catch myself in deep thought while watching it. Some people would consider it a good sign but not me. I watched The Bourne Ultimatum last time and I was just plainly immersed in it despite the Hollywood boo-boos, it entertained me nevertheless.

I drifted away from this Resident Evil movie when something about its hi-tech underground headquarters caught my attention. In there are blinking red, green and white consoles, most likely computers that would humble even today’s Quad Cores, and a totally clean meeting rooms and lab. So what’s wrong with it then? Let me tell you.

Did anyone ever wonder where the technicians, janitors, laundry personnel and chefs are in that setting? Do bad guys in that corporation still need these employees to keep their covert operations running on a day to day basis? And do these bad guys require evil-minded employees as well?

Just imagine finding these classified ads:

“Umbrella Corporation wants you:

Engineers. Qualification: Must possess a degree in BS Computer Engineering or equivalent. Experience with an evil empire preferred.

 Chefs. Qualification: Must have cooked for Bin Laden. He/she should expect finding mutant mice running around the kitchen (if the evil lab technicians had a snafu).

Janitors. Qualification: Had experienced cleaning lots of blood. May perform some jobs with morgue personnel. And other than general trash, he may have to deal with disposing dead bodies. May be assigned to dispose non-performing Alices (I’d like this job).

Laundry Personnel. Qualification: Experienced washing blood-stained tuxedos. Must be able to press it properly in preparation for a spic-and- span evil officer’s meeting.

Barbers. Qualification: Must have good control of scissors and blades. Possible promotion to hit squad personnel if cutting is found precise.”

I’m also wondering if Payroll and HR is appropriate. Hmm, an aggrieved evil employee? Not applicable I guess.

So there goes, whatever empire or corporation we are all in, it still needs the blue-collar employees. Every one is still essential to an organization–from the managers to the grass root level. These suave, clean-shaved evil guys who attend meetings in suit and tie won’t even exist without the low-level employees.

After all there’s a bright side to this disappointing movie. Now I’m inspired. It now appears that there are still lots of jobs around. Only if I can find that newspaper with Umbrella Corporation’s classified ads. Probably an evil newspaper boy is out with it.

 

Definitely Not SSDD

One of the movies that influenced me somehow is Dreamcatcher. I actually read the book first which my wife gave to me as a gift before I was compelled to look for its VCD as there’s no genuine DVD yet that time. Other than the fantastic plot, storyline, setting and characters, I love the word that it introduced to me–-SSDD. I don’t swear a lot but I love it anyway. Same Sh#t Different Day. You see most days lately have been SSDD. No choice, but it’s been like it. Work. Home. Work.  Home.  Off.  Play.  Mall.  Those things even done in pleasure become SSDD.

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My Dreamcatcher book.

But July 20, Friday, wasn’t meant to be.

10 AM. After waking up late and a brunch meal at home, I was on my way to work. Driving my car for a quick trip so I could be on time for my 11 AM interview. This has been one of the much-awaited moments in my career. Just another chance to step up. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Along the way, I was mentally playing over and over again the answer to the question “how do you deal with difficult people?” You see I dread this trick question. The last time I was asked this I fumbled, I failed.

The interview came late but I knew I did fine. The dreaded question didn’t come. Whew! And For the delight of it, I got my wife and I a to-go lunch from Tokyo Tokyo on my way back home. Japanese food for small victories.

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The small guy will be missed.

Past 7 PM. This was supposed to be a routine one. I was doing the weekly cleanup of our hamster’s habitat. I was almost done putting back his trails and he was the usual jumpy rodent eager to check it out. Surprisingly, on his way out in the middle of the trails, he sled and looked stunned while resting on top of the his Space Explorer’s stopover point. So I grabbed and raised him to see what was wrong. Once I laid him down though, my wife saw that he was panting, breathing heavily and stayed still.

I once again lifted him up and checked for pulse. There was none. My wife tried her luck. It didn’t work either. Hollie was gone. It was heartbreaking for us. I did shed a tear (it’s funny how a small creature can mean so much) while I complete the assembly the whole trail. It’s empty now. No more running and cage-biting noise for days to come. He was two years and more than a month old.

Past 8P M. Hating to leave home with just the recent loss, I pushed myself to take a bath, get dressed and was on my way to a coworker’s house. It’s his farewell party. He’ll be leaving for abroad by Monday to work at another company. It’s been like this at work. People leaving. Those left behind enjoying the party while it lasts. And more would probably be leaving anytime soon.

Well, that’s life. Sometimes it’s just the same things going over and over again. Sometimes new things come, sometimes they go. Sometimes it’s SSDD, sometimes it’s not.

Blue Skies

Image from the web.

Yesterday I watched the film Always on DVD. I was assuming then that it would be something as romantic as “The Notebook” which we watched just a couple of weeks ago. To my surprise it wasn’t just that. The famous Steven Spielberg directed the film and as expected it was a good one (except for some goofy scenes at the start of the film which made me wonder if it’s a comedy or a musical).

What makes this movie appealing is the plot that rolls around the love story of two airplane pilots Pete (Richard Dreyfus) and Dorinda (Holly Hunter) who were stationed on an airstrip that supports the forest fire fighters. The setting was some time in 1940 and the fire fighting planes used was said to be restored WWII models.

 I was so fascinated by the flight scenes that a couple of hours after it I downloaded an MS Flight Simulator X game. It was as if my mind was craving for more of the sensation of being in flight, not to mention being the pilot which in this case, of a flight sim cockpit.

It’s funny that somehow it was from this love story that I got more interested in flying more than from the movie “Top Gun” (of course, this remains to be one of my favorites). It may be because that the planes in Always are old and it looks so easy to fly versus the sound-breaking F14‘s of Tom Cruise’s movie.

Well I’ve flown the ultralights in the demo and I’ve crashed a Jumbo jet already. Thanks to flight sims, I live to tell about it. I got the hang of it after a couple of hours of playtime (and some weird stares from my wife) and just using the mouse as a yoke – old flight simmers will scoff at me for doing that. I think it’s about time to save for some decent flight controllers. Paging my wife…please approach the cashier.