Man Of Mars (August 8, 2003 – December 31, 2007)

March 1, 2007

March 2007

Filed under: films,music,personal — drei @ 12:00 am

Remastered Blue album of Joni Mitchell
Tue, 06 Mar 2007 03:42:00 GMT

joni mitchell

Today marks the first day of sale of the remastered version of Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue, hailed as one of the greatest records of all time.  TIME magazine even included it in their list of 100 best albums of all timeJoni is considered to be one of the most influential female singers in the past four decades, and many artists regardless of gender consider Joni a great influence.  The Lilith Fair ladies alone show hints of Joni Mitchell every once in a while – the storytelling poetry of Lisa Loeb, the shaking voice of Jewel, the emotions of my favorite female singer Sarah McLachlan, etc.
 

I first heard of Joni Mitchell in my favorite comedy series FRIENDS, where a remixed version of Big Yellow Taxi was used in the soundtrack.  Then I heard the song sampled in Janet’s Got ‘Til It’s Gone from the really great pop CD Velvet Rope (which I bought on sale), then later revived by The Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton for a romantic comedy movie.  Then I got a ripped copy of the album Clouds through my friend Skeeter, and then later on got more albums through friend, former officemate, and the new Soluziona basketball star Shelley. (Peace Shelley!)
I am not familiar with all of Mitchell’s works, but these are the three tracks I consider her best:

“A Case of You” from the album Blue (1971)
A Case of You tells a sad story of infatuation, and is one of those really lonely ballads that make you emotional during tipsy moments.  Diana Krall’s version of this song was highly praised by Joni herself.  Other favorites from the album are My Old Man, Carey, and All I Want.  Next to Big Yellow Taxi, I think Carey is the second most notable upbeat Joni Mitchell song.  Joni sings: I could drink a case of you darlin’ and still be on my feet.

“Both Sides Now” from the album Clouds (1969)
This song was recently in the mainstream music scene because of the film Love Actually.  Who would forget the tearjerker montage of Ms. Emma Thompson when she discovered the infidelity of husband played by the versatile Alan Rickman?  The lyrics of the song take us to a profound perspective on life and love, and carry a very moving melody accompanying the theme.  This may sound morbid, but my good friend Lye actually considers Both Sides Now her funeral song (mine would be Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen, hehe).  The song was updated to a more solemn and soulful version in Joni’s 2000 orchestra album.  Chelsea Morning, another track from the album Clouds, is also a favorite.  Joni sings:  It’s life’s illusions that I recall; I really don’t know life at all.

“Cherokee Louise” from the album Night Ride Home (1991)
Cherokee Louise is my ultimate favorite Joni Mitchell song – a relaxing acoustic tune I can always associate with long travels at night, just as the album title says.  (Most of my favorite songs give that same effect; the instant example I can think of is REM’s E-bow the Letter).  The lyrics however tells a sad tale of a character who lives in a tunnel, with lots of hidden meanings in between.  I also personally think that the album Night Ride Home is equally great as the critically applauded Blue.  This 90’s work is one of her later albums infused with jazz and the modern sound, which actually fits more to the taste of the younger generation, which I suppose includes myself.  Other favorites from the album are the tracks Night Ride Home and Passion PlayJoni sings:  Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel in the Broadway bridge.

Joni Mitchell is one unique artist whose talent ranges from painting to songwriting, and whose genre goes from folk to jazz.  I’m planning to buy the remastered Blue album as a Birthday present to myself, along with my “plan” to quit smoking (again).
 
 
War Movies
Fri, 09 Mar 2007 02:43:00 GMT

Recently I was able to watch three war movies on big screen – wars between musical divas, between ancient civilizations, and between desperate women.  All three films are based on previous works.

battle of american idol and destiny's child alumnae

Dreamgirls is a singing drama based on a stage musical, which was very loosely based on the biographical story of the pop group The Supremes.  If you simply love any form of musical, then there’s no reason you wouldn’t appreciate this movie.  The production may not be as grand as Chicago, and the story may not be as magical as Moulin Rouge, but it still was one enjoyable experience.  Jennifer Hudson truly deserves her win in the supporting Oscar award, with her convincing acting and really powerful voice (though I was rooting for personal favorite Cate Blanchett).  I don’t think that Jamie Foxx was forgettable in the film as some critics claim, when in fact I thought he had so much presence in the movie, and the story would not be that compelling without his fine acting.  Eddie Murphy was great as the junkie pop star, and Beyonce had her few moments as well.

Good thing I watched Dreamgirls with fresh-from-MBA Che, since she was a member of the UP Singing Ambassadors during her undergraduate days, and definitely knows how to appreciate good music.  (We used to watch a lot of horror movies and go on impulsive food trips until she got so busy with MBA.  Good thing she’s back!)  I also think my mother would enjoy this movie since she’s a fan of Diana Ross and The Supremes.  All music lovers familiar with the era of The Supremes, Lionel Richie, the Jacksons, and all those old school Motown sound will enjoy this movie.

androgynous Rodrigo Santoro versus Phantom of the Opera's Gerard Butler

300 is a revolutionary action movie based on a graphic novel, which was loosely based on the historical Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartan war against Persian forces.  The movie is so great that it reminded me of so many great moments in recent filmmaking.  I just love everything about 300 – the choreography, the colors, the music, everything.  In the middle of the movie I was already thinking of buying the original DVD when it comes out.

For a moment I was wondering if Hans Zimmer did the musical score of the movie.  Good thing he didn’t, and the filmmakers wouldn’t be accused of doing a Ridley Scott.  In fact, a lot of the scenes reminded me of Scott’s 2000 epic Gladiator, especially the scenes with the yellow fields, with the queen and her son in the foreground.  Incidentally, those specific moments were said to be the only parts of the movie that weren’t taken from Frank Miller’s images.  In addition, 300 took advantage of a March release, to lead the blockbuster season and avoid the summer competition.  Gladiator used that same technique (so did the first Matrix), which I think is reasonable, since franchise sequels usually own the summer playdates, and there “might” be a chance that good films like Gladiator and 300 wouldn’t earn as much.

If Troy showed us three barenaked men in lousy battle scenes, this one gives us a hundredfold more with creatively choreographed and cinematically captured stunts.  Fight scenes were simply massive and breathtaking, the best since The Two Towers.  And only in the first Matrix and 300 was I amazed with the visual techniques of capturing fast action scenes.  The only minor downside for me was the macro shots of the movie, which was difficult to appreciate because of the texture.  Nothing still compares to the work of cinematographer Christopher Doyle in Hero.  But like Hero, almost every scene in 300 is a masterpiece.

My college friends and I were so excited for 300 that we had to watch it during its first day of release.  And what a great moment 300 was for cinema in this generation.  It even entered IMDB’s Top 250 list of best movies of all time during its first week, and got a standing ovation in its world premiere in Berlin.  This is one movie no cinephile should miss.

Australia versus Britian in Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal is a suspense drama based on a best-selling novel.  The movie lasted only an hour and a half, but seemed so long because of the gripping suspense and really topnotch acting.  British Judi Dench and Australian Cate Blanchett play high school teachers in London who both lead desperate lives full of foul secrets.  The dirty laundry of all women in Desperate Housewives combined is no match to the psychological thrill of this very dark drama.  Tragedy and secrets unfold one after another, and the desperation of the main characters just gets into your face scene after scene.  Notes on a Scandal is simply a fine work of intelligent writing, well developed characters, and superb acting.

I watched Notes on a Scandal alone since I was certain it will only run for a week, and it’s hard to drag people in this relatively unknown movie (especially that it’s only shown in Greenbelt).  I’m really glad I caught the movie on big screen, though I must say it’s not the perfect film to de-stress with after a long day’s work.

Good thing it’s already the weekend.  Happy weekend everyone!
 
  

Audiophile
Thu, 15 Mar 2007 15:59:00 GMT

obsession 
click image for details

American Idol Season 6 had its Diana Ross episode, and sadly I think the current batch is a little weak.  My top bet would be Melinda, though physically she doesn’t have the star appeal.  She has one of the best voice quality and most powerful range, and she is the most humble contestant in the batch.  Next personal bet would be Stephanie, who has this Toni Braxton and Beyonce thing going on.  Among the males, there’s no extraordinary candidate, but my quick favorites would be Chris and Blake.  During this week’s episode, some girl butchered the lyrics of Missing You, which I consider Diana Ross’s best hit.

My current favorite album is Undiscovered by James Morisson, which I recently discovered, thanks to recommendations by Dianne, Eugene, and Ferdz.  The album is a collection of mostly upbeat alternative tracks, and James’s sound reminds me of Gavin Degraw and some Maroon 5, with a jazzy voice quality similar to Jamie Cullum.  The first track alone is not to miss, Under the Influence, with its strong violin melody and happy tune, while the album track Undiscovered uses a vocal choir adding an excellent dramatic feel to the sound and lyrics.  Personal favorites are You Give Me Something, Wonderful World, This Boy, and The Pieces Don’t Fit AnymoreUndiscovered is one must have album.
   
        
My Birthday Week: from A to Ziggy
Wed, 28 Mar 2007 10:39:00 GMT

My birthday week started with a mini picnic with close friends at the UP sunken garden, and ended with a whole day affair with Ziggy Marley.  Unlike last year when there was pressure to celebrate because of the quarter mark, hehe (I had a mini pasta party the weekend before, and climbed Luzon’s highest peak the weekend after), this time I had to slow it down.  Or so I thought.

Two nights were spent on my “new” sport, ultimate Frisbee, thanks to good friend Roselle who gave me a great beginner’s training. The midnight before my birthday was celebrated with former officemates (and now Frisbee buddies hehe) Van and Shelwin, having dinner in our favorite Mr. Kebab, and finishing beer in Quatro.  During the day itself, my best buddies at work Aisen and Oliver invited for lunch at SOMS Noodle House, the affordable Thai kitchen and one of my great food discoveries in 2006, and as a treat Oliver paid for the bill.  Former officemates also invited for dinner, to this place I’ve been advertising to them since last year – SOMS!  Since they were willing to go all the way to Makati from Ortigas during rush hour, I didn’t mind having my 2nd SOMS meal on my birthday.  Shelwin and Abi brought me a new Frisbee disc, and Jimelle paid for the bill.  I was so lucky not having to spend on meals on my birthday!  Late at night, I was meeting the end of the day with Lye and Skeeter, spending a nightcap in Ziggurat, finishing Indian food and watching the rain in front of us.  It felt great starting and ending my day with great friends.

By Friday, I got two surprise cakes from officemates (the latter was not actually a surprise since it’s part of our department’s tradition, but I’m still glad especially that they gave me a new issue of this great photography magazine).  And by Saturday, I spent the entire day with Nana, for the press conference of Ziggy Marley, and for his live performance in the Philippine Plaza.  In between the two events we spent the entire afternoon pigging out and window shopping, and by concert time more friends joined us, euphoric and alive because the son of the reggae legend was actually dancing and singing in front of our eyes.  Skeeter, who used to work for MTV, gave me VIP passes as a birthday gift, and Nana, as Chalk’s associate editor, got me Press passes.  It’s just the perfect time when birthdays and connections do matter.  Hehe!

press conference at mojito bay performance at the philippine plaza poolside
Click here for more pictures

Instead of resting on Sunday, I had to wake up before lunch since I had a Calculus tutorial session in the afternoon.  This part-time job (and quasi-hobby) started in college, and until today I still get occasional invites for lectures and tutorials.  I’m glad I accepted this one, since the parents of my tutee were two of the nicest people I’ve met, and they remind me so much of my mom.  Aside from age, they have the same values and almost the same admirable treatment towards their kids.  In fact after the tutorial session, the three of us were still chatting over her homemade pansit and refrigerator cake, talking about universities, the corporate world, and parenting.  Meeting one such nice and humble couple was one great way to end the week.

By Sunday night, the stress of the entire week has consumed my entire body, and made me really sick.  I took two days off from work; good thing my brother Doms kept bringing me food every time he went home and would even text me if I wanted anything, and my brother Oliver who’s graduating in med school in a few months kept checking on me, and was my acting doctor.  For two days I did nothing but sleep on the couch, eat, listen to Elliot Yamin’s new album (sent by Ferdz as a birthday gift!), and watch tons of episodes of The Simpsons.

I’m honestly glad I got sick since I got to rest for two straight days.  Now it’s back to the real world, and back to work, with one year added to my age.  But then, I don’t think birthdays are all about changing a digit (or digits to some hehe) to one’s age, but it’s the way for the universe to tell us that we have another year to celebrate life.  And I really think it should be celebrated well.  Cliche as this may sound, here’s to more years of fun travels, great photographs, good music, excellent movies, and wonderful friendships!
 

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January 1, 2007

January 2007

Filed under: gadgets,music,photography,tennis,travel — drei @ 12:00 am

Last Hurrah of 2006
Thu, 04 Jan 2007 07:52:00 GMT<!–DATA[

14 rapids between the bukidnon mountains and cagayan de oro

river wild!

Whitewater rafting.  A mixed group of my college and high school friends including my siblings went rafting along the rivers of Cagayan de Oro (bordering Bukidnon) the day after Christmas.  More than four hot hours was spent on 14 wild rapids, snake watching, cave trekking, floating in cave waters, and the “ceremonial” cliff jumping in the end.  View more rafting pictures here.

mimbalot falls maria cristina falls tinago falls

Three waterfalls.  Every holidays I go home to Iligan, known in this country as the City of Waterfalls, but it was still in high school when I last visited the waterfalls of the area.  Good thing my College friend Dianne spent a few days in Iligan; we were able to spend a day touring three major waterfalls with other friends.  We visited the historical Maria Cristina Falls, which was only showing half of the entire waterfalls.  The whole waterfalls can only be seen during weekends at specific hours of the day.  We had lunch on a huge rock near Mimbalot Falls, finishing the city’s famous lechon.  Then we went down the very long and tiring flight of stairs to Tinago Falls, swam in the deep blue waters, entered the cave behind the falls, and climbed the same flight of stairs, draining a day’s worth of energy.  Good thing Novy’s grandfather owns a beach resort; we had our dinner and few rounds of beer during sundown.

jollibee mushroom burger at the peak!

under the sun

Mount Agad-agad. It was the idea of high school and college buddy Ronald to climb the highest peak of Iligan, which was one thing I wanted to do since my first and last climb in Mt. Agad-agad was also in high school. I thought it would be easier the second time, but the rain in the previous day caused the climbing part to be difficult because of the slippery trail. The hiking and climbing lasted for less than two hours, and it’s surprising that they already have a mini-park at the peak. After the climb we went for a swim in the spring pools of Timoga, perfect for our stressed muscles.

aquamarine park

Aquamarine Park. My family also visited our lola in Ozamiz City, and had lunch in the recently developed Aquamarine Park in Misamis Occidental, just a couple of towns away from Ozamiz. The food was not extraordinary, but the place was very relaxing. Strong winds and clear blue sea. We weren’t able to visit the Dolphin Island because we all wanted to return to Iligan at the end of the day. There’s just too many movies and House episodes to catch up; spending a night away from home was not an option. Hehe.

That was my vacation, plus the badminton games with my family and with high school friends, the usual inuman and catching up with high school (and even elementary!) friends, and a few family gatherings.  More pics to be uploaded in my flickr site.

Now, it’s back to Manila, and back to the real world. Have a great and happy year ahead!!

  
Another iPhone entry
Mon, 22 Jan 2007 02:56:00 GMT

It’s already been over a week since Steve Jobs made his keynote and introduced the new Apple iPhone, but technophiles can’t seem to get enough of the unreleased gadget, making news, blog entries, and reviews every day.  Like most iPod fanatics, I was impressed with the product, but given that it doesn’t have 3G capabilities, I’d rather find a decent 3G phone and keep using my 30gig iPod.  I even think that if Palm Treo releases a 3G version, it would be the perfect phone, IMHO.  But then, it’s really too early to judge, when in fact only New York Times had the chance to actually hold the prototype (for barely an hour), while the rest of the world was only basing sentiments on written specs and other reviews, which are also based on, well, written specs.

Before the actual design of the iPhone was unveiled, this is how the iPhone looks like in the minds of fashion designers, Apple engineers, and iPod enthusiasts.

a Treo-like iPhone flip iPhone simplistic iPhone more like an iPod video with bigger screen
Concept iPhones: taken from the Apple Lounge website

Now a little digression.  After a minor hangover from Peewee’s despidida for her one month vacation in India, I just stayed in bed Saturday morning after a quick fix of hotdog and cheese omelet (I like putting cheese in almost all food I prepare especially omelet, hehe).  And after boringly organizing computer files, I was able to check the most played tracks in my iPod and Winamp.  (I still prefer Winamp over iTunes when using the computer).  Here’s how the summary looks:

1. Delicate – Damien Rice
2. 41 – Dave Matthews Band
3. Sexy Love – Ne-yo
4. Always on you side – Sheryl Crow and Sting
5. Here I Am (Kaskade Remix) – David Morales
6. High and Dry – Jamie Cullum
7. How To Save A Life – The Fray
8. Too Little Too Late – Jojo
9. Don’t Panic – Coldplay
10. Irreplaceable – Beyonce
11. Steppin’ Out – Kaskade
12. New York City – Norah Jones and Peter Malick
13. Home – Michael Bublé
14. Love On The Run – Chicane
15. I’m Not Missing You – Stacie Orrico
16. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room – John Mayer
17. No Ordinary Morning – Chicane
18. Because The Night – 10,000 Maniacs
19. The Beautiful Ones – Mariah Carey
20. Somewhere Only We Know – Keane
21. Pink Martini – Stephané Pompougnac
22. Oo – Up Dharma Down
23. Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
24. La Vie En Rose – Louis Armstrong
25. Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson

Classic favorites like Damien Rice, Dave Matthews, and Coldplay always seem to make their way to my ears, but I must admit current faves like Too Little Too Late and Irreplaceable are a bit overplayed recently.  Kaskade and Chicane made their way because when I’m in a party mood, I listen to House music, ergo, I listen to them every day.  And lastly, the tearjerker Always on your Side, the theme of my 2006, must be very overplayed last year.  Thankfully though, I think I already left that song (and year) behind.  And since I got a copy of Norah Jones’s new album Not Too Late, I’m guessing some tracks in the album will be in that list soon.  As a matter of fact I’m already beginning to like Wake Me Up and The Sun Doesn’t Like You.

Howell, I just don’t think my passion for music (and gadgets) will ever die.  Hehe.  A great week ahead!
  
2007 Australian Open
Mon, 29 Jan 2007 00:52:00 GMT
 

serena hugging her trophy  unbeatable fed

Serena Williams and Marat Safin were my initial bets for this year’s Aussie Open – both champs in 2005, both unseeded in 2007.  Marat succeeded in reaching 3rd round, but lost to America’s comeback kid Andy Roddick.  Serena on the other hand was on a lucky streak, not having to meet Svetlana Kuznetsova and defending champion Amelie Mauresmo, almost securing her slot in the semis since both women in her half of the draws made early upsets.  She beat top seeds Nadia Petrova, Jelena Jankovic, and Nicole Vaidisova, and met up with Maria Sharapova in the finals Saturday.  It was their second final match since Wimbledon 2004, and just the same, it was a noisy game since both players are loud court groaners.  But unlike the Wimby, Serena won this time.

Nothing much has changed in men’s tennis after the exit of the greatest Andre Agassi.  Federer is still unbeatable, and broke Roddick’s hopes in a lopsided semis match, with Andy scoring zero in the 2nd set, losing to straight sets.  In fact it personally didn’t matter who would win in the other semis, since both Haas and Gonzalez are Open final virgins, and I’m 99% sure Fed could break any virgin’s dreams.  Federer seems stronger than ever, not losing to a single set in the entire tourney.  Roger got his 3rd Aussie Open title, and 10th grand slam title.
 

December 1, 2006

December 2006

Filed under: music,personal,photography — drei @ 12:00 am

December Updates
Thu, 14 Dec 2006 02:20:00 GMT
 

intramuros at night courtship during Rizal's time
a walk back in time skyzx as inang bayan

When I brought my mom and sister during the opening night of A Walk Back In Time in Intramuros last month, I told myself I should watch the semi-interactive theatre performance again, and definitely bring my camera.  Last Friday several college friends and I were able to experience yet another crash course on Philippine History in the perspective of Manila (specifically Intramuros), and as always Tanghalang Pilipino never fails to amaze audience with great production and world class talent.  Friend Skyzx was perfect as Sisa (who actually had fans around her after the play!), who later transformed into Inang Bayan during the closing sequence.  It’s always interesting to know that this country is so rich in culture and talent, but then disheartening that not everyone has the access, or is interested in the first place.  I believe A Walk Back In Time still has one or two more weekend runs in Intramuros, and it’s highly recommended to all (including non Filipinos).  And it’s shown for free!  (Next year I plan to catch their rerun of the very funny Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Musical, and the theatre version of Sionil Jose’s The Pretenders)

johnoy, formerly from the bridge mytee, peewee, lye, skeeter, novs

Last week I was able to catch the gig of brilliant friend Johnoy, the Dave Matthews of the country, in Fresca Bar (which during our long gone college days was still known as Tapika Bar).  It’s always great reminiscing to good old times with the music of Oasis, Hootie and the Blowfish, Goo Goo Dolls, Dave Matthews Band (of course!), and the more recent ones from Coldplay and Jeff Buckley.  Plugging: Catch Johnoy and some of the talented artists in the Pinoy rock scene in the once in a blue moon Beatles Night on December 18 in 70s Bistro.  It’s a night every audiophile in the metro shouldn’t miss.

the financial systems team ang payaso
le carnivale walter and alvin

Last Tuesday Hewlett-Packard had its Carnival-themed company Christmas party in Le Pavillon.  The hall was filled with booths of dirty ice cream, buffet food, and Nachos, all for free; and of course there’s the overflowing faucets of beer in one corner.  (French practice: Nous allons au Pavillon a Mardi, et nous maungons la glace et Nachos.  Haha!)  Some of my teammates and I chose to avoid the crowd and the expected long program and stayed in the lobby, where we got to enjoy our booze and smoke.  I wasn’t really planning on attending the party because it was a weeknight, but then the major prizes in the Christmas raffle really caught my attention (plasma TV, 80gig ipod, etc).  Sadly I didn’t get to bring home any of the major prizes, and instead got myself a new non-stick frying pan.  Not bad, hehe.

with shelwin, sherbee, julie, and abi swimming gear

Last night I had my Christmas dinner with my circle from my previous company in Sherbee’s new Ortigas condo.  It’s always fun hanging out with great friends, and I’m glad we still keep in touch even after I left my old company.  And for our kris kringle, another item is scratched off in my Christmas wish list: a new pair of swimming goggles!  Thanks Julie!  (I got Abi the new Incubus CD and a spa gift certificate)


Next week I’ll be flying home with my sister for the holidays.  I’m planning to visit my father’s hometown alone in South Cotabato, which sadly may not push through since my Titas think I may not be able to return to Iligan for Christmas on time; they say bus rides could be really terrible.  Tsk.  I’m still hoping I can go though, since I miss my Aunt Shirley so much, and I’ve never traveled to my father’s place by myself.After Christmas, I’m going whiteriver rafting with high school friends in Cagayan de Oro!  I’m so excited for this, especially that my college friend and dormate Dianne will join us (all the way from Baguio!), and will stay with my family for a few days before the New Year.  The itinerary of her first visit to Iligan City includes visit to the famous waterfalls and spring pools, and I just love touring people in my home city.  I can’t wait!It’s just few days before Christmas.  Happy Holidays everyone!!
   
     
      
Best Music of 2006

Fri, 22 Dec 2006 15:59:00 GMT

In 2004 I made a list of my favorite albums and singles of the year and for 2005 I made a quick list of my favorite albums.  This year, there are six albums that became personal favorites.  If you haven’t bought gifts for friends or for yourselves this Christmas, I highly recommend any of these.

continuum by john mayer
Continuum by John Mayer
A definite first in the list is John Mayer’s new studio album since 2003’s Heavier Things.  Many may argue that Mayer’s first album Room For Squares is still his best work, but I personally think Continuum is just as great, or even better.  Room For Squares was the perfect shower companion which makes me sing my lungs out line after line of any track on the album; Continuum on the other hand is a less sing-able and more mature and personal take on Mayer’s music, and much more endearing.  Of course we still hear the signature upbeat sound of his guitars, but the theme is the selling point of the record.  Mayer sings “when you’re dreaming with a broken heart, the waking up is the hardest part”, which could probably be the saddest line in the history of breakup songs.  Continuum is also my bet for Album of the Year in the Grammy’s this year.  Favorites in the album are Heart of Life, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, Waiting on the World to Change, In Repair, and I Don’t Trust Myself (In Loving You).  Catch the two part season 7 opening of CSI Vegas, where John Mayer guested as himself and performed two tracks from the album.  (Digression: because of too many good TV shows right now – with Gregory House leading the pack – I wasn’t able to catch up with CSI and forgot how great the show is.  It definitely still is noir TV at its finest.  Thank you Shelley for the updated episodes!)

chariot by gavin degraw
Chariot by Gavin DeGraw
This album was actually released more than a year ago, but I only got to hear the entire album this year, thanks to my college editor Egai.  This album is like Continuum but in Prozac, no wonder Bo Bice and Elliot Yamin used one of his songs in American Idol.  (Another TV related digression: I think 2006 is the worst year for Idol.  When I was expecting a Chris-Elliot finale, we were given a trying hard pretty face and a dancing old guy, hehe!)  This album is definitely going down in the history of alternative music.  Favorite tracks in the album are Belief, Overrated, Meaning, Just Friends, Nice To Meet You, and More Than Anyone.  Last year Degraw performed with John Mayer in a charity concert, with Andre Agassi as a major supporter and guest.  Man, that charity show would have been perfect for me!

fragmented by up dharma down
Fragmented by Up Dharma Down
The first of two OPM artists in this list is Up Dharma Down.  The NU Rock awards Best New Artist is one unique act, whose sound is a creative mix of funky jazz and soulful alternative.  Around midyear I was so into their music, that I watched one of their intimate gigs and watched them perform in the MTV Pilipinas Awards, not to mention that both were during weeknights.  Favorite tracks are June, Pag-agos, Layag, and Oo.

the powder room stories by skarlet
The Powder Room Stories by Skarlet
Who would’ve thought that the reincarnate of Ella Fitzgerald is a Filipina?  Formerly the vocalist of the ska band Put3ska, and the reggae band Brownbeat All Stars, Skarlet is one hell of a terrific artist, whose talent really belongs to the jazz genre.  Her first solo record The Powder Room Stories is a perfect album of Big Band and vocal jazz.  Forget those Bossa artists who keep popping everywhere, this is what real vocal jazz is all about.  The opening track alone can transport you to the set of the Chicago musical, and her rendition of One Way Ticket to the Blues is one of the best I’ve heard.  Notable tracks are Anguish, a ballad she wrote for the guitarist of Color It Red after his 10 year old daughter succumbed to cancer, and Babae Ka, the only Tagalog song in the album.  Favorites are the upbeat Birdy Bop and Call Me, which on a first impression gave a Diana Krall feel.  Official release of Skarlet’s album will be on February 2007.

corinne bailey rae
Corinne Bailey Rae by Corinne Bailey Rae
Corinne is nominated for three of the four major Grammy Awards for this year, and I’m really hoping she’ll get the Best New Artist trophy.  Even the great John Mayer is a big fan, and writes about Rae in his blogCorinne’s first album is one masterpiece of relaxing soul music.  Favorites are Trouble Sleeping, Put Your Records On, Like A Star, and Call Me When You Get This.

in my own words by ne-yo
In My Own Words by Ne-yo
I’ve never loved an entire RnB album since TLC’s Crazysexycool, and Ne-yo’s freshman work is definitely the bomb of 2006.  (Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake would be runners up in the bomb category this year.)  Modern rhythm and blues may always be associated with shallow lyrics, and this one is no exception, but it’s the sound that makes RnB what it is.  Danceable beat, hip mood, and funky melody.  In My Own Words is a prime example in that heap, and a big winner at that.  Favorites are Sexy Love, It Just Ain’t Right, and Get Down Like That.

See the 2006 Grammy Nominees here.


Personally, 2006 was a great year for pop culture, travel, and career.  The general “theme” of my year may that be of nursing a broken heart, but the rollercoaster ride of emotions could just be worth it.  Initially, I forcibly enjoyed music, movies, theatre, and TV this year.  I climbed the peak of Mount Pulag, partied in the beaches of Galera and Boracay, and discovered different islands in Zambales, Batangas, and the Visayas, partially thinking that all these travels will speed up the healing time.  I moved to a new company, which by far is the best company I’ve worked for.  In the end, I realized I still genuinely enjoyed the year, despite the said “theme”.  2006 was a blast, and I can’t wait to conquer 2007.I’m now home in Iligan City for the holidays.  If in Manila I barely have time to watch all the movies I want to watch, meet all the friends I want to meet, or finish all the things at work, my life here is an exact contrast.  I have all the time in the world, and I even have to look for things to do.  Almost everything is also prepared for – a clean house, delicious meals, and laundry I need not pay.  I know this is normal to many people, but not to someone who’s been away from home since college.  This afternoon I played badminton with my dad, brother, and sister, in the gym of my dad’s company and after the game we were enjoying native chicken Tinola at home, which during the morning was still a live chicken that our maid bought.  Earlier at lunch we had fish, shells, and Bulalo.  If there’s one thing I always miss in Iligan, it’s the food, since everything is fresh, and there’s seafood everywhere.  Good thing I still have more than a week to enjoy all these, along with a Sedaris book to finish (this guy is hilarious!) and as always a bunch of DVDs to watch (saw the Japanese film Battle Royale last night – great and gory!).

Hoping everyone is enjoying their holidays as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
  

August 1, 2006

August 2006

Filed under: events,films,music,personal,tennis — drei @ 12:00 am

The Dark Knight
Thu, 03 Aug 2006 05:14:00 GMT

With the tentative title The Dark Knight, pre-production for the sixth Hollywood Batman film has started.  Heath Ledger accepted the role of the Joker, and talks are going around that Philip Seymour Hoffman is being offered the coat of Penguin.  If ever that piece of news is true, I hope Oscar best actor Hoffman accepts the role; definitely he can par Danny DeVito’s performance as the disturbed sewer genius in Batman Returns.  If ever he does accept, it can be the start of his stereotype as an effective villain (after Mission Impossible 3), and Batman will be faced with two acclaimed actors from last year’s famous gay films (Hoffman for Capote, Ledger for Brokeback Mountain).  But for now, consider this Hoffman news as plain scuttlebutt (which we all hope to be true).  As for Heath Ledger, I’m just crossing my fingers he’ll give justice to Batman’s most popular nemesis.  Batman fans including myself were surprised with the decision, and a lot would actually prefer Paul Bettany, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, or Hugo Weaving to play Joker.  I personally think Heath Ledger is too serious an actor to be joking around with white powder all over his face.  We’ll see.

 Heath Ledger as the new Joker   Jack Nicholson as Joker in 1989
The last laugh: will Heath Ledger do a better Joker than Jack Nicholson?

 Philip Seymour Hoffman was rumored to be offered the Penguin role   Danny DeVito as Penguin in 1992
Pray that Philip Seymour Hoffman accepts the Penguin role.

I just feel bad for Tim Burton, since the villains he used in his Batman films are recycled, and could probably erase his legacy in the Batman franchise.  I still love Tim Burton’s style, and I think Chris Nolan’s noir touch is just incomparable to Burton’s gothic treatment.  Each is simply a master in his own field.

But then, summer 2008 is still eons away.  For now, I’m hoping to catch the comedy musical The Producers in Glorietta this weekend.  Or give in to the invitation to watch Sukob again.  Hahahaha!

Good day everyone!
 

Up Dharma Down at Magnet Cafe
Fri, 11 Aug 2006 06:16:00 GMT


Up Dharma Down at mag:net cafe in Katipunan

For the past week their album was the only music I listen to at work (okay, sometimes I squeeze in Ne-Yo’s Sexy Love in my playlist).  The music of Up Dharma Down has such a unique jazzy and alternative sound, which is unusual in the OPM arena.  Their songs may be of pain and sadness, but the theme of their songs add emotions to the music.  After an accidental glimpse in one of their mall tours and their gig in mag:net cafe last August 8, I’m hoping to catch them again in the MTV Pilipinas Awards.  Their opening act in mag:net cafe was Paramita, a really cool trio with bitter yet edgy music.

Happy weekend everyone!

A Silent German Film with Radioactive Sago
Thu, 17 Aug 2006 02:51:00 GMT

pioneering expressionist film   radioactive sago project
Caligari and Radioactive Sago Project: a marriage made in creepy heaven

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari/1920).  Prior to the films sponsored by the Geothe-Institut, my only exposure to silent films was the Charlie Chaplin movies my parents used to watch during the Betamax days.  And I should say the opening movie of the 3rd German Silent Film Festival was my first ever encounter to a live band performing the musical score of a silent film.  And what a great cinematic experience it truly was!  (not to mention that I was star struck seeing the great Jessica Zafra inside the cinema!)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari follows the story of murders in a village that may or may not be related to a mad scientist’s passion to somnambulism.  The slow percussions and jazzy sound of Radioactive Sago Project were perfect for the film; the tempo and mood complemented the theme and storytelling.  I very much agree to what Bert Sulat Jr wrote, that “The combination of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Radioactive Sago Project is a marriage made in creepy heaven.”  And a very well attended wedding at that!

Now I can’t wait to get a copy of Nosferatu, hailed as one of the best expressionist films alongside Caligari.  And of course, I can’t wait to watch the rest of the silent films, especially that Cynthia Alexander will be performing in one of the films.  I’m just glad I live in Metro Manila – a haven for affordable and accessible culture.

(Digression: last Monday, I got to watch the MTV Pilipinas Video Music Awards in VIP seats.  Great to see INXS and Mig Ayesa up close.  The performances of Urbandub and Up Dharma Down really rocked the PAGCOR Theatre.  And Dicta License’s tribute medley to Francis M was the night’s highlight, which was later joined by Francis himself, the year’s lifetime awardee.  Thanks to Skeeter for the tickets!  Again, talk about accessible culture in the metropolis.)

The German Silent Film Festival runs in Greenbelt every Tuesday.


Last Grand Slam of Andre Agassi
Tue, 29 Aug 2006 05:56:00 GMT

 serving agassi

The first round of the final grand slam of the greatest player in the history of tennis was mind-blowing.  During the second set I feared that Andre Agassi would leave the US Open so soon because of the tight score.  Even though I was only tracking the real-time scores online (at work, hehe), I still felt the intensity and pressure of the game.  Romanian Andrei Pavel won the first set with a 6/7 score, and Agassi had a hard time winning the 2nd set, finishing after 66 minutes.  I actually thought it would be a breeze for my man since our namesake is also more than 30 years old, whose career high was only at the 2002 French Open when he reached the quarterfinals.  It seems like the other Andrei was also prepared, since Agassi’s win in the 3rd set was no ease either, with only six minutes short of the 2nd set, and having an identical score to the previous set, 7/6.  Good thing Agassi got the fourth set after only 31 minutes, and is now assured of at least two games in his farewell grand slam in New York.
 
Sadly however, Andre is unseeded after frustrating performances in the pre-open tourneys, so definitely he’ll be facing strong opponents in early matches.  On the second round he’ll be matched with the young Baghdatis (who almost toppled Federer early this year in Sydney), and as early as 4th round he might be facing America’s comeback player Andy Roddick (fresh from a new tourney win and a new coach).  It’s actually a tough season to be Andre’s last, and his exit might not be as fairy-tale as Pete’s final show.  But then, Agassi’s credentials are already beyond fairy-tale standards, and any form of exit is definitely a happy ending.


I look like a Malaysian F1 driver, haha!
Thu, 31 Aug 2006 02:54:00 GMT


 

February 1, 2006

February 2006

Filed under: films,music,personal — drei @ 12:00 am

Best Albums of 2005
Wed, 01 Feb 2006 10:08:00 GMT

Here are four of the greatest albums I’ve heard in 2005.
I know this post is rather late, but better late than never!
  


Coldplay


Jack Johnson


Renee Olstead


Damien Rice


My current favorites are So Sick by Ne-yo, Ugly by Sugababes, and Be Without You by Mary J. Blige.  Yep, I’m back to enjoying RnB these days!  I know it’s ephemeral and I seldom buy albums in this genre, but these tracks just keep me up and awake at work.

I might also visit Xaymaca this Monday for the Bob Marley Night.  I simply miss live reggae!  (which reminds me, the UP Fair will be on in a few weeks, yebah!)

Enjoy listening people!
 


2005 Movies
Sat, 04 Feb 2006 09:48:00 GMT

Here are my favorite films for 2005:

10.  La Visa Loca
9.  Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride
8.  Kung Fu Hustle (Hong Kong)
7.  Cinderella Man
6.  Bad Education (Spain)
5.  Sin City
4.  The Constant Gardener
3.  The Spanish Apartment (France)
2.  Crash
1.  Batman Begins

Obviously, Batman Begins was the most celebrated movie in this blog last year.  I might have written about it a few hundred times.  There are still dozens of 2005 movies that I still have to watch, so consider this list of mine partial.  I watched Walk The Line last night and it was good; I want sweet Reese Witherspoon to win the AcademyBig Time was very good, I enjoyed it even more than Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and Pepot Artista, both winners for best director and best picture in last year’s Cinemalaya, beating Big Time.  But Big Time won the best screenplay, and it should since it’s one witty and funny film.  Heck, it’s even so much better than Pinoy Blonde!  I also recently got to watch Jennifer Aniston’s last two films (Derailed and Rumor Has It…), which were okay, but she’s far from pulling off a post-breakup success the way Nicole Kidman did.  And Cheaper By The Dozen 2 was fun fun fun!  I watched it with my siblings and cousins last week, an ideal movie for a family treat.

The Oscar season is in the air, and for sure more 2005 movies deserve to be in my list.  First stop, I’m watching the advance screening of Munich this Monday.  I can’t wait to watch another non-mainstream Spielberg movie.

Happy weekend everyone!  🙂
 

Munich, another Spielberg masterpiece
Thu, 09 Feb 2006 01:28:00 GMT
 

Kassovitz and BanaMunich (2005/Steven Spielberg).  If Crash presented a tale of hatred begetting hatred, Munich delivers a far more gruesome portrayal of the subject. A film with a sensitive and relevant topic only Spielberg can deliver, the Oscar nominated suspense is probably his boldest work to date. The story follows the aftermath of the massacre of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics, where Israelian Avner, played by Hulk’s Eric Bana, led a team of assassins in retaliation of the attacks. Their commander was played effectively by the intense Geofrrey Rush, while future Bond Daniel Craig, Amelie’s Matthieu Kassovitz, German actor Hanns Zischler, and Ciarán Hinds (Sum Of All Fears) played the hired assassins to complete the powerful supporting cast.

An unbiased account loosely based on a novel, the philosophy of the dogmatic, the profound, the straight-laced, and probably that of Spielberg, speak loudly through many characters of the film. We hear the Arab assassin’s concept of home, the tale of Avner’s mother on having a place on earth, the final conversation on peace and breaking bread among Jews, and more, each of which manifesting truths in a world where violence dictates politics, and politics dictates survival.

The movie demonstrates terrorism in the perspective of the terrorists, and the movie had a very talented actor to exemplify that – the eyes of Eric Bana. Man, those can really describe a soul that’s struggling between righteousness and brutality, between security and paranoia.

I was personally surprised that the movie is only rated R-13, given the straightforward gore of the sequences.

One of the many notable highlights was the parallelism between the scenes where Bana’s character was looking for bombs that didn’t even exist, and another, his colleague dismantling bombs they were supposed to use for their mission.

The last sequence of the movie, probably considered the climax to many, simultaneously showing a flashback of the murder of the athletes and the main character giving his wife another form of climax, was disturbing enough to acknowledge Bana’s great acting and the real world effects of the unceasing battle between nations and religion, affecting the terrorists themselves, the innocent, and everything in between.

As always, Spielberg successfully uses drama in a manner that doesn’t cross the borderline of being a drag and too emotional. From the first frame to the last, the movie is rich with vintage cinematography and editing; a friend even compared some scenes to the style of Hitchcock. Munich is one enthralling masterpiece, and definitely an instant classic.


I really wouldn’t mind Munich winning over Crash in the Academy, although I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain yet. (My bestfriend said she watched Brokeback twice though and claims she loves Ang Lee so much for that movie.) But then again, Munich is a winning experience itself, and I don’t think it requires a trophy to prove that. Shakespeare In Love won best picture over Saving Private Ryan, remember?
 

Lian Ramos: the next Miss Universe
Thu, 16 Feb 2006 06:17:00 GMT

Watch out for Ms. Lia Andrea Ramos this March 4, 2006 in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant. Lian is one of the smartest and most cultured people that I’ve met. And to top it off, she’s a political science graduate in UP and works for an international organization that does funding for charity – just perfect for the Miss Universe crown!

Little side story: Last Valentine’s, while on a singles night out with other friends, the singer in the jazz bar thought that Lian and I were a couple. And I thought I’d never pass as a boyfriend to a beauty queen; my level has just been upgraded! Haha!
 

November 1, 2005

November 2005

Filed under: events,films,music,personal,photography,theatre — drei @ 12:00 am

Lazy Blog Entry
Sun, 06 Nov 2005 05:30:00 GMT

Once again, I’m feeling sorry for this blog for having only one entry in the previous month. I have had a lot of instances when I could have updated this blog, but unfortunately there’s completely nothing to write about. And if ever a moment comes when there’s something worth blogging, I stop the minute I sit in front of the desktop, either because I’m too tired to write or simply because I wanted to do something else. Thus, the pathetic blog with once-a-month entries.

movies

I was recently able to watch a couple of local films, The 40-year Old Virgin, and the sneak preview of Flightplan. Ilusyon was one of the neatest Filipino films that I’ve seen. The Cinemanila entry has a good story with dozens of artistic and philosophical undertones, making it very unique for a Filipino film. But I still don’t understand why a lot of critics rave for Yul Servo’s acting when I only see it as plain and mediocre. Masahista was great in using parallelism in its storytelling (even if the subject of prostitution and poverty isn’t new at all in Filipino films) and offered really good acting, but I can’t imagine how they consumed the 4M budget for a film that doesn’t seem really expensive. Ben, the production designer of the movie, told me much of the budget went to post-production. Even though there were a lot of tidy scenes and complicated editing, the visuals were honestly hard to appreciate since the movie was just converted from digital format for commercial release, and evidences of video compression can still be seen. I didn’t exactly find The 40-year Old Virgin funny, but it was enjoyable enough. I especially enjoyed the Kelly Clarkson joke, and Steve Carell was effective in portraying a loser with so many dead airs in the character, though he’s still far from being a Jim Carrey. And Flightplan was surprisingly entertaining. I just have one negative comment on the feasibility of the “plan”, which I can’t mention since it would be a spoiler, but I absolutely enjoyed the movie.

ang pokpok ng ohio

More than a week ago I also got to watch the CCP performance of Ang Pokpok ng Ohio. It’s about three unfortunate people and the dramas of their lives during one night in a corner of a busy metropolis. Irma Adlawan is truly a talented actress, and honestly I have to say it was the first intimate play that really moved me. The play was a fine adaptation; all three actors were terrific and the script was simply brilliant. And again, thanks for complimentary tickets.

company sportsfest

As for work, I’m the captain for one of the teams in the company sportsfest which will start this month. This should be fun since our sportsfest has lots of events which even includes modified sports, but then I also surmise that some days in the next few months will really be stressful. As they say, fun and stress always go together!

music

I’m currently enjoying the Unplugged album of Alicia Keys, and the 10-year anniversary acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill of Alanis Morissette. I also can’t get enough of Coldplay’s Fix You and James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful.


crush
 


41
 

grace is gone
 

Last night I was able to watch the first Dave Matthews Band Night in 70’s Bistro. I just think Dave Matthews Band is one of the best bands, and probably the best band to come out in the 90’s. And no other OPM act can cover DMB songs the way Bridge does. The poetry and the orgasmic beat were very much alive last night, as if Dave Matthews himself was singing onstage. Unfortunately my friend Rastem left the band to move to China with his other band Coffeebreak Island. He used to play the sax for both Radioactive Sago Project and Bridge. Oh well, so much for free entrance fees.

long weekends

My two long weekends were rather insignificant. For a week now I’m alone in the house because one housemate is in China for training, another housemate went home to his province, and my brother is in vacation for the semestral break. And to complement my being alone, I got a bad flu. So pretty much I had no choice but to stay home, and there was just so much room for lying around and watching marathons (I realized CSI:NY could be a better show than Vegas). No badminton, no tennis, no jogging. I wasn’t able to watch the Cinemanila. And I even had to cancel on the Galera trip my officemates and I were planning. But then again, I’m thankful I got to rest and save money.

Now I’m flu-free. The long weekends are over. And anytime today or tomorrow, one of my housemates and my brother will be back in the apartment. In other words, it’s back to the real world once again.

Have a good week ahead!

July 1, 2005

July 2005

Filed under: events,films,music,personal,photography,theatre — drei @ 12:00 am

Manila in Black and White
Thu, 21 Jul 2005 15:11:00 GMT
 

salsa dancing in malate

salsa dancing in malate

Salsa dancing in Malate. My best friend is currently interested in salsa, and wants me join her in a dancing class. I said I’ll just accompany her and take pictures. The pictures taken are not from any dance class but in bars in Manila with really talented salsa dancers.

 

nityalila at inno bar

nityalila at inno bar

Nityalila at Inno Bar. If you love Cynthia Alexander, listen to Nityalila. World music meets Indian meets alternative. Very talented performers with great material and cool covers. And the band has a real Indian guy to play the mandolin. Talk about unique and authentic music. Check their site here.

 

just another day in paradise

Another day in paradise. After the baptism of my third godchild, friends Che, Paco, and I had some coffee one lazy Sunday afternoon. This beggar caught our attention from the next table, and I decided to take her pic, not exactly knowing if that was rude or not. When I was about to give her money, she was gone.

I really want to make decent blog entries, but life has been really busy, so it’s quite difficult to satisfy the blogger in me. But don’t worry folks, I’m doing perfectly great! Very great. 😉
 
 
  

July Updates
Sun, 31 Jul 2005 07:12:00 GMT

In life, they say, one can’t have everything at one time.

Naks.

It’s quite distressing that now, when I have the access to do a lot of things, I don’t have the time to blog about them. It seems that I have almost everything within reach, except for the time to blog.

One reason I think that I don’t feel compelled to blog anymore, is the fact that almost everyone blogs these days. There’s the Friendster blog that keeps on informing you every time each of your 500 friends updates his blog. We hear blog services advertised on radio and national TV. And more blogs containing disorganized and lazy diary-like entries are sprouting. If you tell someone you maintain a blog, the reply “who doesn’t?” would be very likely. The feeling of having a secret – somewhat elite – community no longer exists. I know this is a selfish reaction, because blogging is one great revolution, and none should be deprived of this useful Internet tool. And there are still a lot of interesting new bloggers.

On another positive note, if everyone has a blog, it would be easier to check the whereabouts of friends, without having to spend on phone calls or make lengthy emails. Blogging is a free for all service, but is also becoming a read for all service. But if the time would come when the number of blogs almost equals the number of email accounts in cyberspace, blogging may not be as creative and as fun as it was when it started.

Er… I hope I’m not the only one who has this sentiment.


  

But then, the everyone-is-a-blogger reason could actually be just an alibi, since the primary reason of me not being able to blog is the lack of time. Just some updates, to explain why I have scarce blog entries:

Work, although still more relaxed than my previous job in Baguio, is starting to become demanding. I worked overtime for the past two weeknights, mostly because of the Value Added Tax Law implementation. My current project as a consultant and programmer is for the Information Systems of the Finance division of Meralco, and our team is very much affected by the changes related to the VAT. Although the implementation is on Temporary Restraining Order, eventually this system is gonna push through, so the next few weeks will be rather busy for all of us.Every other Saturdays before the UPCAT, I also do lectures for a private review center. Being a teacher was one profession I once considered because of the interaction with younger minds, and lecturing for UP aspirants so far is a very good experience. Another good thing as a lecturer is that I’m being paid by the hour. And on occasional Sundays, I also do private tutorials. This is one thing I used to do in college so there’s pretty much no hard time adjusting. Aside from the extra income, having sidelines on weekends can be fun since it can be a good and valid excuse of leaving a party or a gimmick early. You can always say goodnight before the vodka gets into your head!


  

Despite the work on weekdays and the extra workload on random weekends, I still very much enjoy the pop culture of Metro Manila. During the long SONA weekend for example where I had a lecture Saturday morning, I was able to watch two films in the recently concluded Cinemalaya, watch two plays in an intimate theatre in Kamuning, watch two more plays in CCP, watch three old movies on DVD, and play badminton on a midnight. Talk about a fruitful yet jam-packed weekend!

Early this month, I was also able to watch the musical version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It was good, but I was expecting more especially that Beauty and the Beast is my favorite two dimensional animated film. The production and stage design could have done a lot more, but the show was still worth it because the acting and the voices were excellent (I especially liked the singing voice of Maurice). It’s just funny to think that I paid for it more than I did in Saigon.

Just last night, I also got to watch this year’s Live AIDS show by the UP Samaskom. This is the annual stand-up comedy, comical skits, and variety show all in one, featuring UP Samaskom members and alumni. Before spoof artists and comedians Kikiam Defensor, Tuesday Vargas, and Ate Glow were seen on TV, they were already performing in Live AIDS when they were still undergrads in Diliman, and believe me, they are so much funnier on stage than on TV. This year, I had so much fun watching Tuesday do a monologue as a Taong Grasa, and two other stand-up comedians, doing monologues of a virgin old lady and the other, a probinsyana in Manila. And of course, with the current Gloria Scandal, Ate Glow’s antics wouldn’t be missed, who also introduced the new character Baby Glow, also known as her daughter Luli! Like my previous encounters with the show, last night had tons of really great laughs; at some point I was even grasping for breath because I couldn’t stop laughing. And I’m not exaggerating.(If you want two hours of great laughs, you have to watch this show! I’ve been watching this for three straight years already, and will definitely watch it every year as long as I’m in Manila. The show usually has reruns in the Music Museum.)


  

July was also a month of mainstream movies. I know I write about movies a lot, so I’ll try to keep this part short.I was disappointed with War of the Worlds because of the lack of story development. I was disappointed with Fantastic Four because of the minimal action scenes and lack of character development. The sad romantic movie If Only, though needed a better actress and a better theme song, made me cry.I was very much disappointed with Pinoy Blonde, because I was expecting an entirely different movie. It’s a comedy that’s not funny. The name-dropping didn’t convince me of the main characters’ passion for films (Film buffs don’t just talk about Terminator and The Matrix!). And they marketed the film as a mainstream experimental film, when it was just a presentation of editing and special effects potentials in Philippine filmmaking. Over all, I felt sorry for Unitel. Tsk, so much for their previous laurels.Lastly, The Island surprised me because I enjoyed it a whole lot. I was raving about the movie right after I saw the advance screening in Galleria, and if ever I had the time then, I would’ve written a separate movie review for it. All I can say is, Michael Bay went back to the basics: a story not as profound as a Phillip Dick adaptation yet far from being stupid, minimal use of over the top explosions and slapstick humor, and actors who are neither rookies nor of superstar stature. Though Michael Bay’s rather unexciting treatment for action sequence is still present, it didn’t stop some viewers hold on to their seats. (I notice he’s more into linear chasing and shooting. Remember the boring truck scene on the moon in Armageddon? Or the boring flying and shooting planes which “killed” Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor?). What Michael Bay did get rid of though, was his speech montage, where someone makes a very long speech while different scenes of tension or aftermath are shown. This was very effective in the opening sequence of The Rock and made a dramatic effect on Armageddon, but the style bored me in Pearl Harbor (In Armageddon, it made us remember that the world also has other people, and not just a pathetic father-daughter-boyfriend threesome so concerned about their private lives even when the Earth is about to blow up). In The Island, we still see the similar treatment, but for many short scenes, which I think was just perfect. (John Woo already got rid of his flying doves; he should also try doing away with his myriad slooowww motion scenes. Then maybe he can make a credible comeback too.) It’s just sad that the movie is not raking in box office dollars. Michael Bay must have been prejudged.Hmm… and I thought I wouldn’t make a long comment on movies.


  

It is also a good time to turn your attention to music these days, especially in the local scene. I think that now is a time similar to my early high school years, where great OPM artists, mostly new bands, were playing really good music. Some of those were Eraserheads, Rivermaya, After Image, Alamid, Yano, and Introvoys (haha!). This time, we have bands like Stonefree, Hale, Cueshe, Orange and Lemons, Bamboo, Session Road, and Pedicab to redeem the music industry. I wish the days of trying hard young pop stars are over. I mean how many singing Bautistas can actually exist?Current favorites include Bakit Part 2 by Mayonnaise and Kuwarto by Sugarfree.


  

Another reason to be busy is that in the coming weeks, two of my dorm kabarkadas will be in Manila. My former editor Egai just got back from Korea, and good friend Ryan will arrive from Japan next week. These guys will leave the country again soon, so I’m pretty sure there will be at least one night of barkada reunion and endless booze.Yebah!


  

Today’s the last day of July. I hope I make more than two entries in August. *sigh*

Happy new month everyone! 😉


 

June 1, 2005

June 2005

Filed under: events,films,music,personal,photography — drei @ 12:00 am

Music and Weekends
Fri, 10 Jun 2005 11:19:00 GMT 
 


Fete dela Musique 2005

On June 18, all roads lead to El Pueblo, Ortigas Center for the Fete dela Musique 2005. This is the yearly event music enthusiasts are waiting for. All genres, one night, one venue.

World / Reggae / Ska (main stage)
Venue: Le Souffle Parking
Time: 4:30pm to 8:45pm (pre-show), 8:45pm to 3:54am
Performers: Nityalila, Pinikpikan, Cynthia Alexander (opening),
Makiling Ensemble, JR. Kilat, Bayang Barrios, Brownbeat All Stars,
Indio I, Radioactive Sago Project, etc.

Blues Stage
Venue: Sidebar
Time: 9:00pm to 3:45am
Performers: Blue Jean Junkies, Huka, Bluesviminda, DC Aftershock,
Naked Tongue, Taglay Silang, Mr. Crayon, Freeway Jam, Sammy Asuncion, The Jerks

Jazz Stage
Venue: San Mig Pub
Time: 9:00pm to 3:45am
Performers: Bo Razon, Isha, Sound, Skarlet & Jazz Friends, Quail Quintet,
Mother Earth, Wahijuara, Mishka Adams, Blues Echoes, Subconcept,
Jazz Volunteers, Johnny Alegre Affinity

Rock Stage
Venue: Racks Parking
Time: 3:30pm to 4:00am
Performers: Sandwich, Itchyworms, Cambio, Imago, Kapatid, Twisted Halo,
Sugarfree, Razorback, Chicosci, Mayonnaise, Greyhounds (closing), etc.

Alternative Stage
Venue: Podium Driveway
Time: 3:30pm to 3:30am
Performers: Cueshe, Bobby Parks Movement, Mojofly, Juan Pablo Dream, Hale,
Pedicab, Barbie’s Cradle, Stonefree, Narda, Kitchie Nadal, Moonstar88,
Spongecola, KikoMachine, Session Road, Rivermaya, etc

Electronica
Venue: Pasto
Time: 3:30pm to 3:40am
Performers: Makkina, Ixiz, Chox, Names are for Tombstones, Flipperbaby,
Bagetsafonik, One Lone Clone, Daydream Cycle, Drip, Morse, Silverfilter,
Wolfmann, Rubberinc, Neon8, Dayuhan, Trip M, Moon Fear Moon, Skies of Ember

Hiphop/R&B
Venue: Friends Bar and Resto
Time: 9:00pm to 1:10am
Performers: Out of Body Special, HostKaliph8, Ginn and Razor Ray, Audible,
Gloc9, ButtaFlava, Host, Miscellaneous, Syke, Turbulence, Host, Swift,
Jocelyn, Pikaso, Seven Shots, Host, SVC

3rd Manila Jazz Festival

The 3rd Manila Jazz Festival filled up the Expo Exchange in Greenbelt last week. Good thing we got there relatively early, we were able to get a table and a decent spot. With me were college friends Lian, Skeeter, Yana, and a friend from Baguio, Gretch. It was three hours of full hardcore jazz and lots of free wine. It’s really great to know that many local bands can play the sophisticated sound of straight jazz.

During the festival I “guested” in MTV Get Spotted since the show was covering the event (which must be horrible with all the shots of wine I had that night. While introducing Tori Amos’s video, I forgot the name of her album, when weeks ago I just bought the album!) After the festival I went to the birthday celebration of a high school batchmate, where we had beer in an enviable and posh 18th floor condo unit in Makati, moved to a nearby bar for more wine and beer, moved to Malate for more beer and lots of Mexican food, and finally had a very impulsive breakfast in Tagaytay. What a tiresome event! Good thing Jen and Ronald still had enough energy to drive us back and forth Tagaytay after a sleepless night. Even though I’m not really into overnight gimmicks anymore, that night was really fun especially that some of those high school friends were people I haven’t seen in years.

If last weekend was meant for Jazz and Tagaytay, and next weekend will be for the Fete, this 3-day weekend should ideally be for rest. And in a few hours I’ll be heading to my so-called resting place: Baguio! My ex-officemates had been asking me to visit them, and this long weekend was quite a good timing. I doubt if I can really rest in Baguio though, but I’m sure it will be fun. I really miss my friends and the lazy mountain.

Enjoy the long weekend people!!!
 

Fete de la Musique 2005
Tue, 28 Jun 2005 13:10:00 GMT
 

blues

blues music @ sidebar


world music

makiling ensemble


alternative

the day you said goodnight - hale


jazz

jazz music @ sanmig bar

subconcept


reggae

boy quizon and his band biyaheng reggae

novs and skeeter dancing reggae style

here’s the fete wallpaper i’m currently using at home.
also thanks for checking out the YOU blog addict article featuring man of mars.

June Movies
Tue, 28 Jun 2005 13:57:00 GMT
 


Sin City. Robert Rodriquez, the only guy to have made two Hollywood trilogies, adds another item in his credentials. This comic adaptation, which was co-directed by the great Quentin Tarantino, is one hell of an eye-candy narrative. The movie tells different stories of corruption, revenge, and heroism, all set in one metropolis, the Sin City. All the action scenes were great, all the shots were spectacular, and the acting was fantastic and stylish, too stylish in fact that even shots as simple as walking seemed choreographed. More, the comic texture gives the movie a unique and classic feel. Too lame though I got to watch this in a cinema in SM, since there were lots of missing scenes.


Le Poulpe.
Le Poulpe, the only film that I was able to watch in the recent French Film Festival, sucked big time. College friends and I were supposed to catch Vivement Dimanche, said to be a Hitchcock tribute film, but apparently the festival schedule was changed so we were somehow forced to watch a movie we weren’t exactly interested. The movie was about an unconventional philanthropist, who solves crimes and tags along his girlfriend during investigation. He’s not a cop so he does things by himself and sometimes uses his connections to get confidential information. The girlfriend’s kikay character saves the movie to a small extent, because of her comic antics and flawless nudity. The movie started out as a boring talkie, which turned into a stupid action film, then later on became a weird political movie. I could actually imagine Lito Lapid and Rufa Mae in that two hours of French garbage.


Happy Together.
Considered to be Wong Kar Wai’s greatest work, this sad Chinese art film tells a unique love story in the middle of a promiscuous generation, of poverty, of an alien nation, and of unconventional sexual orientation. A very poignant film.


Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
When the plot was announced months before the release, movie fans agreed it’s just gonna be a brainless entertaining blockbuster. The moment you start thinking in this movie, it will turn sour, so it’s imperative to watch this film using minimal IQ. And personally, I really enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Smith from start to finish, and I’m giving it a perfect 10 for the cool factor! This movie is so cool, I enjoyed all scenes without having to think and analyze. I simply got what I anticipated.


The Amityville Horror.
When girlfriends Jen and Cel thought of watching this movie, I instantly agreed, since I only enjoy horror films when the people I’m with get really scared and shrill. This horror remake may seem a B-quality movie, but it never failed to scare my friends, and in some moments it actually did scare me. The stereotypical tale of a new household in a haunted house may be predictable, but the frightening scenes definitely weren’t.

La Visa Loca. After the very commendable films Crying Ladies and Santa Santita, Unitel offers another movie of the same caliber. La Visa is about a humble local who, like most of his countrymen, dream of working and living in America. The film is very light compared to the two mentioned movies (and obviously had less budget), but like its predecessors, it has the humor and culture only a true Pinoy filmmaker can deliver. I just can’t wait to see Pinoy Blonde!


Monster-in-law.
I never really liked a single J-Lo movie, and this one is no exception. Monster-in-law is a (supposed) romantic comedy about an engaged couple, and the guy’s possessive and high-maintenance mother. The film isn’t exactly bad, but then it’s neither funny nor romantic. It’s one of those movies you catch in HBO while channel surfing, watch for 10 minutes, then change channels after figuring out the title.

Nasaan Ka Man. If La Visa was simple but good, this one is extravagant but baaad. The movie is about an unconventional family, composed of two sisters and three adopted kids, two of which fell in love with each other. The art direction and cinematography were really good, but the plot was terrible. There was just too much going on, that the result was pure bland. Piece by piece, the parts of the plot have good potential. But the way they forced everything into one film made the entire output disastrous, sucking away all the promise the film could have offered. As the famous saying goes, if it’s from Star Cinema, it must be one commercialized work of crap.


Batman Begins.
I’ve talked about my most anticipated summer movie a million times already. When the casting news came out. When the posters were released. When the summer playdate was announced. And now I’m gonna talk about the movie again. As a Batman movie, I don’t think it’s an exceptional film. It has less action scenes than the previous films in the franchise, the villains though more realistic were less interesting and less memorable, and Batman’s voice is contrived when inside the mask. And honestly, one can’t really expect a lot of Batman in this movie. However, be sure to expect a lot of Bruce Wayne in the movie, and more of Christopher Nolan. The characterization of the protagonist is very effective, and the director’s noir touch is all over the film. The human approach and great acting make the film excellent, not to mention the consistent storytelling and the powerful cast. Two actors worth praising are Gary Oldman and Liam Neeson. (Neeson proved his versatility in his recent movies, and is strongly becoming a personal favorite alongside Pacino and Hopkins.) Sadly Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine didn’t seem visible at all, and apparently I can still see the I’m-in-love-with-Tom insignia in Holmes’ forehead. Over all, the film is far better than the hype, and is definitely the summer film to watch this year. Though impossible, I really want Batman Begins to be the top grosser this year.

I’m almost done with the first season of Desperate Housewives.
And I’m getting my season 1 LOST episodes this week.
War of the Worlds opens tomorrow.
And next week I’m watching a special advance screening for Fantastic Four.
The passion just never ends.

Enjoy the movies everyone!


 

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