Friday, December 3, 2010

Letter to God

Dear God,

God, I don't know if You really notice me, but I'm one of those who, for some reason or another, leave and then come back again when problems arise. I don't know how You could put up with that, but everytime I come running back, Your arms are always spread, ready to take me into Your arms. It's great to know that You're always there to pick me up and embrace me just when I need to be embraced. I feel guilty, though. I feel bad that I'm just using You as a safety net, as just a shoulder to cry on and nothing more. But, God, I'm trying my hardest to change that. That's why I want to be strong.

I want to be strong, God, for my family. I study in a university that is some hours away from home. I always feel homesick no matter how many times I've come and gone. It always feels like the first day I came into the dormitory - I think I cried myself to sleep that time. There's just this heart-wrenching feeling I can't get rid of. That's how much I love my family, God, and I really want to be strong for them. It's not that I want to stop loving them, I just want to really realize deep inside that I'm doing this for them... That I have to be separated from them for a while so we could enjoy a better life someday. I go home every weekend, God, but sometimes I think time spent with them is not enough, especially now that my mom is in another country. I just want to be with them every second of the day, God. I want to know that they're nearby, that I could embrace them anytime I could, that I could always hear their voices, see them... But, God, sometimes things have to be given up so that life could get better.

Which brings me, God, to this point: I'm not entirely confident that I can survive this semester. There's just so much pressure, God - more than I could use. I'm a laid-back person but I've been a University Scholar for three semesters. God, I don't want to give that up. You know how I've been way back then: the achiever, the one with the highest grades, the one at the top, the smartest in the class. But when I came into the university, God, I realized how small I really was. I'm so afraid of failure, God. I don't ever want to be a failure. I survived the last three semesters but... I don't want to have to put everybody down, which includes my family and my friends. I feel like so much is expected. Even though they assure me that I don't have to ace every subject, I know, I really know that they'll be really disappointed if I get a 3 or a 5.

And that's exactly why I need Your help, God. I don't know how I can finish all my requirements. I've never been much of a sociable person. I don't know why I ever took up Journalism since it involves a lot of interviews and running around. I'm not interested in politics and reading academic books. I don't know how to write a term paper properly - an essay even. I have no idea how I'm going to do this. I don't want to drop a subject, God...

I know there are other students who have heavier loads than I do. But I get the feeling that they're faring better than I am. They're probably not worrying about anything. But here I am, fretting about the coming days. I just don't know... I don't think I'm ready, God.

Maybe I have lost some of my faith in Your power. Somehow, I know that I can do this with Your help, but sometimes I forget. I often forget, and this makes me sad. Increasingly sad.

When I see my dad, I don't know how he can trust You so much. He practically gave everything He has to You. Sometimes he doesn't even have enough time for us, and I always have to convince myself that it's okay, it's alright, but most of the time I feel like hating him for it. But I love my dad so, so much. I just don't know how he could do that for You. I don't know how He could entrust our family's savings to You. I don't know how we ever get by...

So, God, I want to ask You again (I know we've had these conversations countless times but...) for Your help. Please help me do this. I really, really want to pass. I'm so afraid of making mistakes, God, even if I know that it's part of our humanity to err. Failure scares me. Saying this, I know I'm not the most faithful child You'll ever have. I'm not always good. I can't devote myself like others are doing. There are so many things I can't do, so many things I can't be. But, God, please help me to change this. Please help me to recognize that You are always in control. No matter what happens, God, You will be there. You've made that promise before, and it stayed true. Please help me to remember that failure is okay as long as I get back up, that You are a shoulder to cry on, that You are the friend who will stick with me no matter what, that Your arms are always open for the lost. Please help me to remember this, and more. But most of all, please help to know that no matter what happens, I will always be Your child and You will always be my Father.

God, please hold my hand.

Your child.

Book Review - Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Rating: 8/10

Katsa, niece of King Randa, is Graced with killing. She could wield any weapon effectively - and even kill a man with her bare hands. For many years her uncle had her under his control, doing his dirty work. But when she meets the Lienid Prince Po, Katsa has no idea of how her life is about to change.

I liked the novel very much. I can feel the characters "grow" with every passing chapter; they're also very interesting, especially Bitterblue who is forever mysterious (in this novel, at least). But, in my opinion, it could have been better. There are some things in it that could be altered a little. It's a satisfying novel, but I don't see it being turned into a movie (unlike A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray which I could imagine vividly). Somehow, it's hard to imagine Graceling as a film...

As for the themes discussed in the story, it's pretty obvious that Kristin Cashore is talking "feminism" here. There are about a hundred clues throughout the book. I like her approach.

For a debut novel, Graceling is amazing. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Movie Review - Easy A

Rating: 6/10

Olive Penderghast is a nobody. That is, until a little white lie spreads - about her losing her virginity to an imaginary "George". Catapulted into "fame", she naturally wants to keep her reputation, and so she starts receiving money and gift checks so others could pretend they had sexual encounters with her. But even fame has its dire consequences...

Contrary to what other reviewers say, I personally did not like Easy A. Emma Stone's acting is not bad but I'm not crazy about it either. Sometimes she looks too mature to pass as a high schooler. It's just weird. I also have an issue with how Christianity was portrayed - more like obsessive fanaticism or something. Sorry, but I just didn't like the film.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Movie Review - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

 Rating: 8/10

Scott Pilgrim, bassist of The Sexbob-ombs, was relatively living a peaceful life until he meets Ramona Flowers, a mysterious girl who delivers items from His life turns topsy-turvy when he learns that he must defeat Ramona's seven evil exes in order to have her.

The movie uses oozes a game-like atmosphere, with the evil exes dissolving into coins when they're defeated. I find the plot a little slow moving. The fight between Scott and the Katayanagi twins seemed too fast. But, still, this does not change the fact that it's a very funny movie.

Movie Review - Princess Mononoke

Rating: 10/10

Ashitaka, prince of the Emishi tribe, was wounded during a battle with a demon-possessed boar attacking his village. The wisewoman of the village informed him that the wound will spread over his body, eat his flesh, and kill him eventually. But there is still some hope left: Ashitaka must travel to the world of the spirits to seek a cure. However, he was soon caught in an epic battle between humans and the raging force of Nature.

Princess Mononoke is directed by Hayao Miyazaki, acclaimed director of Academy Award winner Spirited Away. The word mononoke in the title actually means "monster" in Japanese and princess refers to the San, the human girl who was raised by the wolf leader Moro, one of the gods in the movie. It was given a rating of PG-13 due to some scenes of violence.

I personally liked this movie because it is a deviation from the movies usually directed by Miyazaki. Most of his films tell the story of young girls and the atmosphere is light, fun, kid-friendly. Mononoke is not that. It's so much different, in a relatively good way.

For starters, the main characters are older, and wiser. The themes explored are more mature and the animation is incredible. There's nothing childish. Even the characters have undergone a change. They're more complex and the shifts of sympathizing between the residents of Iron Town and the forest gods makes it all the more exciting.

Personally, Princess Mononoke was a delight to watch. :)

(I watched the English dubbed version, by the way.)

Movie Review - The Pirates of the Carribean 3: At World's End

Rating: 9/10

Captain Barbossa leads a crew of pirates aboard The Black Pearl to world's end in order to rescue Jack Sparrow. The English fleet is steadily gaining on the capture of pirates, and things must be done to stop them. But with The Flying Dutchman at the English side, can Jack and his handful of crew survive?

(Err. Yes, that is a very cheesy summary. :P)

I liked At World's End very much. It's quite interesting and it satisfied my movie-going self. Of course, there's Johnny Depp as the rum-loving Jack Sparrow. His performance is as good as ever. Sometimes it's hard to tell what Depp really looks like from all the odd characters he's played... :D

Book Review - E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton

Rating: 8/10

Kinsey Millhone is accused of insurance fraud after taking on a seemingly innocent claim investigation. Add to that a family that hides a number of secrets. Kinsey stands to lose everything if she can't clear her name in time. But doing so might just cost her her life...

I think E is for Evidence is brilliant. It's set during the holiday season and Kinsey is "home alone", with Henry in Michigan and Rosie taking a vacation. The reader is treated to a very lonely Kinsey Millhone with no one near to comfort her sorry life. The investigation is just as awesome as Grafton gets.

Book Review - The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery

Rating: 9/10

The new year is almost upon Beverly, Felix, Dan, Felicity, Cecily, Sara Ray, Peter, and the Story Girl. They can't hep but wonder what surprises the new year will bring them. Little do they know the many changes that would come to them. The Golden Road is the sequel to the equally delightful The Story Girl.

I didn't really like The Story Girl as much as I liked the others. But this one's pretty interesting because they put up their own magazine called Our Magazine. I think it's genius. Haha!

The changes that came into the children's lives are many and varied but, I think, the hardest that hit them is the realization that people have to grow up. Change has to come. It's something that we all learn some time in our lives and I'm not really sure whether I accept mine with happiness or regret. But, it's there and we've got to do what we could to cope with it.

All in all, The Golden Road is an interesting read, with an equally sad ending.

Book Review - The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

Rating: 10/10

The House at Pooh Corner is a collection of stories about the adventures of Pooh and his friends. From Pooh and Piglet's endeavor to build a house for Eeyore to Rabbit's "organdizing" a Search and to their efforts to unbounce Tigger, the reader is sure to be tickled by all.

It's a delightful little book by A.A. Milne. I'm almost eighteen but, hey, I enjoyed the book a lot and I believe that it has something to tell everyone. It's very easy to be involved in Pooh's adventures and the ending is just so, so sad.

Anyone will - and can - enjoy this book. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review - Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton

Rating: 8/10

Con Dolan and Stacey Oliphant are two police detectives nearing the end of their lives. But before they pass away, they want to take care of some unfinished business 18 years back: the murder of a Jane Doe whose body was found in a quarry in Lompoc. They hire Kinsey Millhone, Santa Teresa private investigator, to look into the case. What transpires is a hunt for Jane Doe's identity and her killer, who has been sitting idly with a horrible secret for eighteen long years...

I can't really say that Q is for Quarry is awesome, but it's a good read nonetheless. It didn't have me gripping my seat like T is for Trespass did but Kinsey's scrapes are naturally exciting. Add her association with Dolan and Oliphant to the mix and you've got an exhausted but effective trio.

One thing that really creeps me out is the fact that it's based on a true story. The pictures of the facial reconstruction only add to that feeling. It's really horrifying thinking that an unidentified girl was murdered and it hasn't been resolved yet. It's just... Unnerving, I guess.

Book Review - M is for Malice by Sue Grafton

Rating: 8/10

A rich, old man dies of a disease and leaves his properties to his four sons. The problem is, one of them is missing and it is up to Kinsey Millhone to locate him. Unknowingly, she sets in motion a series of events that date back to the missing son's troubled past...

So, M is for Malice finds Robert Dietz back in Kinsey's life... For a short time. Anyway, this novel is pretty interesting because Guy Malek is connected to a church and, oddly enough, Kinsey finds him attractive. I was a little surprised, I admit...

The story is great and the idea of the motive is good. I think Grafton really did well with fleshing out the suspect. It's awesome. :)

Book Review - C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

Rating: 6/10

Private investigator Kinsey Millhone is hired by Bobby Callahan, the victim of a freak accident that erased some of his memories. A few days later, Bobby ends up dead, leaving Kinsey with only the barest clues to the identity of Bobby's murderer.

C is for Corpse was so-so. There's nothing in it that really excited me. The ending was kind of lame. I was expecting the suspect to do something more sinister or crazier, at least. Oh well...

Movie Review - The Lovely Bones

Rating: 9/10

Susan "Susie" Salmon died on December 6, 1973, murdered by one of her family's neighbors. When she wakes up, she finds herself in an in-between world. From there, she could see her family and friends on Earth. As Susie watches on, the lives of the people she loves unfold as they struggle to cope with her death.

I think The Lovely Bones was a very lovely movie. No wonder. It's directed by Peter Jackson, who also directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the 2005 remake King Kong. Saoirse Ronan was a good actress. She did a neat job. The story is beautiful and everything is just breathtaking.

If you're watching for a movie to watch with the whole family, I strongly recommend The Lovely Bones.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Changes, changes, changes!


If you notice, my blog posts have diminished and the reviews are all gone. That's because I moved them to another blog:

I did it because... I just felt like it. :P

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Movie Review - (500) Days of Summer

Rating: 10/10

In (500) Days of Summer, Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) reminisces his past relationship with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel).

The story is told in non-linear fashion, which is quite interesting and serves the film well. It's one of the best romantic comedy movies I've watched so far. The characters just seem so "real". (500) Days of Summer is a great, great, great movie with a wonderful soundtrack.

(And, no, I'm not angry at Summer or anything.)

Book Review - R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton

Rating: 8/10

Kinsey Millhone is hired by wealthy Nord Lafferty to "baby-sit" his daughter, Reba, who is being released on parole. It seems like an easy task, especially when Reba turns out to be an obedient bun. But things start to turn around when Alan Beckwith, Reba's former employer, meets up with her once more.

R is for Ricochet didn't sound too exciting when I read the summary, but I was dead wrong. It's actually full of action, romance, and comedy. For one, her landlord Henry is involved in a love triangle with his brother and a widow named Mattie. Kinsey also "gets to know more" of Cheney Phillips, a cop who was born rich. I don't know if this will thrill you, but when the FBI is involved, my ears sort of prick up and want to hear (or, rather, read) more.

(I can't decide if I'll like Reba Lafferty's character or not. Most of the time she's a pain in Kinsey's butt, but in between she's a nice girl.)

Book Review - P is for Peril

Rating: 5/10

Renowned doctor Dowan Purcell has been missing for weeks on end. The police have not been able to uncover any leads. Dowan's ex-wife, Gwen, hires Kinsey to investigate and, hopefully, find him.

P is for Peril didn't entirely satisfy my craving. It's too slow-moving and there's this ridiculous subplot where two brothers - who may or may not be hiding a secret - rent out an office space to Kinsey. Although it is well-known that her novels are witty, Grafton's comedy somehow failed to save the day.

Book Review - D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton

Rating: 8/10

An ex-convict named Alvin Limardo asks private investigator Kinsey Millhone to deliver a check for $ 25,000 to a fifteen year old boy named Tony Gahan. Kinsey readily accepts but when the retainer check given by Limardo to her bounces, she decides to confront the man. It is then revealed that Limardo's real name is John Daggett, a man who is wanted dead by a lot of people. A few days later, Daggett is found dead. Kinsey has no idea what to do - after all, how do you make a dead man pay up?

D is for Deadbeat isn't really exciting in its onset, but the ending is a real shocker. It just further proves that Sue Grafton is one of the greatest American mystery writers.

Book Review - B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton

Rating: 7/10

B is for Burglar is the second installment in Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries. Private eye Kinsey Millhone is hired by Beverly Danzinger to find her sister, Elaine Boldt. According to Beverly, Elaine was last seen leaving her apartment on the way to the airport where she would fly to Boca Raton, Florida. But it seems she disappeared somewhere in between...

B is for Burglar is pretty good (but not that exciting) because of the characters in it. There's Mike (the cute, mohawk-haired, druggie), Julia (Kinsey's "eye" on Florida), and Pat Usher (who trashes Elaine's Florida apartment like crazy). It's also interesting because Kinsey just went out of a very troubling relationship with the suspect in A is for Alibi and here she is seemingly ready to pounce on Jonah Robb, a Santa Teresa cop who is plagued by marital woes... But, still, B is for Burglar is a good read, as good as any Grafton novel is.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review - T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

 Rating: 10/10

Kinsey Millhone's cranky next-door neighbor Gus Vronsky dislocated his shoulder. His only living relative, a niece from New York, hires a private nurse to take care of him because of the demands of her work. Kinsey is asked to do a background check on the hired help. Everything turned out pretty well... Until her P.I. senses tell her something is terribly wrong.

I couldn't put this book down. T is for Trespass is just what the reviews say it is - terrific. Every frickin' scene made my heart race, especially the one with Henry's pick-up truck (that was the worst). Solana Rojas is one of the smartest crooks in all of the ABC novels I've read.

The humor never let down for a moment. I was laughing really hard at the part where Kinsey visited Gus Vronsky at the hospital and they had this little conversation that showed just how cranky he was.

Nor did the suspense let down. It's just amazing. Makes me want for more Sue Grafton novels. I think I'm getting a little Kinsey-esque myself. :D

(Maybe it's the long jump from N to T but I find Kinsey changed. Oh well.)

Book Review - G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

Rating: 9/10

Kinsey Millhone is celebrating her 33rd birthday. Her landlord, Henry Pitts, finally unveiled her renovated apartment. An interesting case about an old woman living in the Mojave Desert all by herself is handed to her. More importantly, she gets included in Tyrone Patty's hitlist. So much for a birthday, eh?

G is for Gumshoe is interesting because Kinsey hooks up with this other private investigator, Robert Dietz, whom she hires as a bodyguard. (It may not make sense to those who have never read the ABC novels...) Also, Sue Grafton's sense of humor, never fails. (I swear I was laughing at the scene where Kinsey accidentally sets off the alarm and Henry comes out of the house with a meat cleaver wearing only his underwear.) There's a lot of mystery going on and everything is just spine-chilling. I got hooked on this one so bad I didn't get to review for an exam. Heh. You probably get the suspense by now. :)

Book Review - F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

Rating: 8/10

F is for Fugitive finds private investigator Kinsey Millhone in Floral Beach, a small coastal town where there is no such thing as a "private detective". Seventeen years ago, Bailey Fowler was imprisoned for the murder of Jean Timberlake after he confessed to the crime. But pretty soon, he was able to escape and hasn't been seen since. Now, Bailey is caught and imprisoned again. His father, Royce Fowler, a man dying of pancreatic cancer, hires Kinsey to clear his son's name and find out who really murdered Jean. The trail is seventeen years cold, but Kinsey finds a chilling bend at the end...
I pretty much liked this novel, even if it's not as exciting as L is for Lawless. It's probably because of the setting. It just seems like a nice place to live (without the murder, of course). Sue Grafton did a good job with this. I think it's a perfect plot. :D

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wishlist (>v<)

Because Christmas is almost around the corner (plus my 18th birthday!), I decided to post my wishlist of the 18 books I want to own/read:

1. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
2. Extras by Scott Westerfeld - 714 pesos*
3. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
4. Specials by Scott Westerfeld
5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan - 289 pesos*
6. Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan - 289 pesos*
7. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan - 289 pesos*
8. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan - 289 pesos*
9. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan - 649 pesos*
10. Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher - 399/699 pesos*
11. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - 349/559/758 pesos*
12. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - 559/749 pesos*
13. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - 530 pesos*
14. Graceling by Kristin Cashore - 359/765 pesos*
15. Fire by Kristin Cashore - 499/756 pesos*
16. Going Bovine by Libba Bray - 756 pesos*
17. Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton - 699 pesos*
18. The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen - 335 pesos**

* Fully Booked Online ( prices
** National Bookstore Online ( prices

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review - The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

Rating: 8/10

It is the 19th century and England is trying to conquer Burma. An eccentric doctor, who proved to be very useful to the military, is asking for a piano tuner because an Erard Grand he had is out of tune. Edgar Drake, an expert in Erards, is called to fulfill this duty. While at first it seemed an incredulous mission, Edgar slowly begins to understand the importance of his task and, in the process, becomes captivated with the lush environment.

I bought The Piano Tuner because 1) it's cheap and 2) it's about a piano. I've always been interested in pianos and even learned how to play one (although I've mostly forgotten about it now). This seemed like a good book to read.

It's more than good, though. It's perfect! Daniel Mason is a talented writer and he has a lot of potential. The characters, the plot, scenery... It's all beautiful and he captured it with words successfully. Burma came alive in this book.

The only thing, I think, that it lacked is a more detailed description of Anthony Carroll. Although perhaps Mason's purpose was to keep him mysterious, I would appreciate a few more details about the doctor's life. Also, his relationship with Khin Myo is somewhat blurred; I can't tell what exactly is going on, if there is one. I'm still in the dark on this one. But putting all that aside, The Piano Tuner is a great book.

Oh yeah. It's going to be made into a movie. Yay!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review - H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton

 Rating: 10/10

H is for Homicide follows the story of private investigator Kinsey Millhone in yet another exciting mystery adventure. One of Kinsey's drinking buddies is found dead, shot. She thinks it shouldn't really involve her but her interest grows when the insurance claim she is investigating turns out to be connected to the murder. In the course of events, she meets a former school mate and ex-cop, Jimmy Tate, who is romantically involved with Bibianna Diaz, the former girlfriend of insurance fraud ring-leader Raymond Maldonado. For the first time, Kinsey goes undercover and must find evidence against Maldonado and his gang.

This is probably one of the best Kinsey Millhone novels I've read. It's fun-paced, exciting and Kinsey is just amazing. Amazing, amazing writer. Sue Grafton deserves a standing ovation.

Book Review - Do Lord Remember Me by Julius Lester

Rating: 6/10

Somewhere in Nashville, Tennessee, Reverend Joshua Smith, Sr. is writing his own obituary on what was supposed to be the last day of his life. As he does, he begins to reminisce his life: as a young man in the time of slavery, as a husband to his white wife, as a father to his two sons, and as a servant of God. Known to others as the Singing Evangelist and to one journalist as the Colored Billy Graham, the reverend searches his life - and his heart - for answers.

It was a pretty nice story. Do Lord Remember Me gave me a vivid image of America during the years of slavery. It was written well and the characters were nicely drawn but it did not leave an impression on me. Sure, it was nice but there's nothing in the novel that was really striking, or worth remembering.

Book Review - The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Rating: 8/10

Far away in outer space, there exists a planet named Winter. It is perpetually cold in the planet. But what was odd about it was its inhabitants - the Gethenians were androgynous. The concept of gender did not exist. They simply took the form of man or woman during kemmer, or mating cycle. Genly Ai is sent by the Ekumen of Known Worlds to further investigate these people and persuade the Gethenians to ally with the Ekumen. At first, he finds his subjects stubborn and unreadable, but when he journeys through the Ice with one of them, Ai begins to see through the eyes of the Gethenians.

What persuaded me to buy this book is, honestly, the name of the author. I first encountered Ursula K. Le Guin's work in a short story we tackled in English 11. I found her writing delightful and, when I saw this book, I wanted to read more from her. As it turned out, I wasn't in the least disappointed by that choice.

It was a little weird reading The Left Hand of Darkness during the first few chapters. It was strange to refer to androgynous people as "he". It was strange to know the Gethenian sexual physiology. The Gethenian calendar and clock was very much strange. The fact that Le Guin wrote about an entire world so different from ours (and yet so real) is just amazing. Well, it is science fiction, after all.

Like I mentioned above, it was pretty hard to comprehend the terms, names, and dates because it was so different. But when I finished the book, I felt that the Gethenians are no different from us. Their physical condition may be different but the human nature does not change.

The discussion of patriotism was an eye-opener for me. It is true that love for country is a questionable concept.

"I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on one side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then's its not a good thing." - Therem Harth rem ir Estraven,  The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

This was a fantastic novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cheerdance Competition (HALABIRA!)

Better late than never, right? So here's my account of Sunday's [AWESOME!] UAAP Season 73 Cheerdance Competition.
My two classmates and I went inside Araneta Coliseum at around 11:45 a.m. Our tickets were labeled Upper Box B so went there, on the 'UP side'. And voila! There were no seats available. So we had no choice but to climb at the top of the section and stand there all throughout the event (which, by the way, started at 2 p.m. and ended at 5 p.m.).
The UST and FEU sides were almost filled (and it was all yellow...). UST was located on our right, UE was on our left.
While the preparations for the event were still underway, some universities began cheering. We (on the UP side) imitated their cheers OR answered back with one of our own for the sake of... Well, nothing. To spite them, maybe. :P So that went on until 2 p.m. But it was fun. HAHA! Especially when they distributed the paraphernalias used in cheering. There were shouts of "Penge! Penge! Penge! Penge! Penge!" everywhere (even when the balloons were being distributed in the UST side). Everyone was just uhh... Crazy with excitement, I guess. =))))))))
The event finally started. I can't remember the exact order but UP was the sixth to perform. FEU and UST performed before our university and their routines were really awesome and shocking. Anyway, UP Pep Squad performed their routine well; it was a CLEAN performance. The energy was just there. We screamed like crazy while they were dancing and cheered them on. \\(>o<)//
There were a couple of commercial breaks before the announcement of the winners. We were ALL nervous. I overheard one of the students behind me say, "Parang tayo yung sumayaw," which I think summarizes the whole feeling we had during that time.
When the second runner-up was about to be called, we all strained our ears to hear which university it would be. When the announcer said, "UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS," we almost did cartwheels. Haha! We even joined them in cheering "Go USTE! Go USTE! Go USTE! Go go go go!!!"
Commercial break! Pfft.
The time for the announcement of first runner-up came. The UP and UST (I think) side started shouting "FEU! FEU! FEU!" And they, indeed, placed first runner-up.
Yes, we almost did cartwheels, again.
Another commercial break. :P
ALMOST everyone was screaming "UP! UP! UP! UP! UP! UP! UP!" when the champion was about to be crowned, including the other universities. (Ahem. Someone seemed to be pretty bitter.) We were also screaming. HAHA!
And UP Pep Squad was named the champion! We were all jumping and waving the placards and flags like mad. The heat no longer mattered. Everyone was sweaty but it was alright... OUR UNIVERSITY WON!!! The 0-14 record of the basketball team was REDEEMED!
The NU and UST drummers played the beats of "Unibersidad Original" and we all sang along:
Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (4x)
Matatapang, matatalino
Walang takot kahit kanino
Hinding-hindi magpapahuli
Ganyan kaming mga taga-UP!
Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (4x)

It was so much fun and all the cramping was forgotten because we were all so happy! UP FIGHT!!!
(It was a good thing that the UP Pep Squad won last Sunday. Being the head coach of the pep squad, my PE professor, Ma'am Lalaine Perena, is very happy when she entered the Dance Studio this morning. She even allowed us to revise our final exam AND said that we wouldn't have to perform on Monday, September 20, which is Dancing in September in UPD. Hurrah!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review - Of Nightingales that Weep by Katherine Paterson

Rating: 9/10
Being the daughter of a samurai, Takiko is expected to not weep. But how could she help it when her father dies and her mother remarries a strange, deformed potter? When the opportunity to leave comes, Takiko immediately grabs it, little knowing what awaits her in the Imperial court. Her beauty and musical talent endear her to the hearts of many, but more importantly to the heart of the young warrior Hideo, an enemy spy. Torn between her loyalty to the Heike and her love for Hideo, Takiko painfully learns the lessons of life, love, and upholding the samurai honor.
I liked the book very much. The events and surroundings were surreal and the characters believable. The reader is given a glimpse of the culture of feudal Japan. More importantly, it gives the reader a different point of view about beauty. There are a lot of lessons to be learned and it's just a sad, sad story of a samurai's daughter. It can very well leave anyone in tears.
(I'm pretty much disappointed with one character but if I say who, it's going to spoil everything. :D)

Book Review - Nancy Drew Files Case 1: Secrets Can Kill

Rating: 5/10
Nancy Drew goes back to high school to solve a mystery. Recently, Bedford High School has experienced a series of thefts and Mr. Parton asked the girl detective to find out who is doing it. But when the case turns to murder, Nancy finds there's more to the thefts than meets the eye, and she is determined to find out who is behind it all.
I didn't enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed reading the hardbound ones. Well, I never did like the Nancy Drew Files. It's more like a romance novel than a mystery novel. Sure, there's the sleuthing and all the what-not, but there's just something not right about it. The fact that Nancy could be "cheating" on Ned (because of Daryl Gray) is incredulous. The Nancy I read about in the hardbounds is not this Nancy. She's just so different, more mature maybe. It probably appeals to other teenagers, but not to me.
Like I mentioned above, it's written more like a romance novel. There's a lot of love and kissing going on and I just don't think I'd see the girls doing all that (especially George in the Nancy Drew on Campus series). So yeah, I pretty much didn't like it.

Oh yeah, it has a PC game version which is the first of all Nancy Drew games and I hope I get to play it one of these days. :D

Book Review - Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Rating: 8/10

Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy. Made up of 34 cantos, it tells the story of a man named Dante who found himself in a dark wood. Unable to find his way out because of three beasts who blocked his way, Virgil, sent by Beatrice, comes to his rescue. The poet tells him that they must go through hell in order for Dante to return to earth.

I didn't exactly enjoy reading it because of, well, the language. It's pretty hard to understand and without the translator's notes and other guides, I may not have understood two-thirds of what I read. While the punishments were gruesome, they don't register in my mind that quickly. Again, the language. It's really, really hard to understand (harder than Charles Dickens). Plus the fact that it's allegorical makes it more difficult. :P

Book Review - Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

Rating: 8/10

Nectar in a Sieve is the story of Rukmani, an Indian woman who is the wife of a farmer. Throughout the years, many hardships beset their lives. She watched one of her children die from starvation, her only daughter work as a prostitute, and her other sons depart for jobs which she mistrusted. But after all of them, amazingly, she survives.

It's told in first person narration and that adds to the personality of the story. It gives the reader the idea that this could happen to anyone (and, sadly, it does happen). The plot is also built well and the events are believable. It offers the reader a glimpse of rural Indian life, and the encroachment of Western concepts in the countryside. The story also explores other topics such as morality, happiness, land ownership, and poverty.

I appreciate the novel very much. It's my first time to read an Indian novel (and, more so, one written by a woman!) and it left a really nice impression on me. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


For the past day, the Philippines has made it to the copies of most of the world's newspapers. It's probably not just a passing remark. It could actually be a full-blown article or, in some instances, the headline of the day (or week, even). The thing is, we're being talked about.

Should we be happy?


All of us know about the August 23 hostage-taking on Quirino Grandstand that lasted for at least eleven or twelve hours. It began at around ten in the morning and ended at around ten or eleven p.m. It happened on a tour bus. When the ordeal ended, ten (including the hostage taker) were reportedly dead while others were wounded. The dead were Chinese nationals. So now the Philippines is a stench to the rest of the world. Some people are commenting that it is the most dangerous country in the world, even surpassing the ranks of Iraq and Afghanistan. Racism is prevalent, especially on the online community. They say that Filipinos are stupid and all that stuff, which, in my humble opinion, is not true.

Look at this way: a dead leaf doesn't define the whole tree. A sick sheep does not define the whole herd. An ugly dress does not define the whole clothing line. So it is with the Philippines. This incident alone does not equate the whole country, or its people, for that matter. One man (or institution) cannot act for everyone else. The comments that we're a dangerous and murderous people are misplaced. It's just totally not true. There are always many sides to one story. If these people only had the chance to experience (which they probably would never have) what the genuine Filipino spirit is, perhaps they would not be saying these. We may be wrong, but this sort of "harassment" is unacceptable. (What upsets me most is that they are speaking as if there is nothing wrong with their systems.)

I am willing to admit that the Philippine National Police and the media are at fault. First, the police failed to propagate effective security measures. If they had only restricted (media) access, perhaps the unnecessary would not have happened. Second, why did they let the situation go out of hand? The hostage-taking took up  half a day. What the hell was that? Since Rolando Mendoza was once a member of the police squad, wouldn't that make negotiations a wee bit easier? Also, they were very much lacking in equipment. Two shields? What the heck? And why the hesitation in "storming" the bus and freeing the hostages? Let's say there were negotiations. But when they ended, it was one man against a troop. At this point, the media played a vital (and very wrong) role. If you've watched the coverage, it is quite noticeable that every move of the police is reported. It's like there's a report every five or ten minutes. I think that's "unethical". The police is doing their job (not well...) to apprehend the suspect but all the media is doing is revealing their strategies. What bum wouldn't think that a tour bus didn't have a television inside? Didn't they, at least, consider that? Sure, pride yourselves in the fact that you were there, doing real-time reporting, and consequently upsetting the plan. That just sucks. I'm a Journalism student and I feel really disappointed in their actions. My professor in Journalism 101 said that no one even attempted to dig deeper and discover Mendoza's side. Okay, so maybe someone did but it was not enough. In order for a media outfit to be transparent, all the sides of the story must be shown to the people. The media utterly failed. Plus, they were obstructions to the fulfillment of the duties of the police. They were crowding all around! It was also said that Mendoza started shooting when he saw his brother being dragged away by the police on television. For Pete's sake, the man was only trying to help! Couldn't the police just confiscate the gun and let him approach his brother and possibly calm him down? Who knows how many lives could have been saved if the proper protocols (and media ethics) were followed to the letter.

In a Machiavellian point of view, Rolando Mendoza, according to Mr. Jalton Taguibao, was a good example of a smart hostage-taker. He considered the place and the people (mostly foreigners) he was going to hold hostage. I think he was also alone. It was obviously pre-mediated and not just an impulsive move. Mendoza really pondered the situation. But, in all that tension, he still had a heart. He released some people and if he had murder in mind, he woud not have done that. The killing of the tourists can be (although not fully) attributed to the other agencies. Of course, he also had his faults. He was obviously acting out of desperation. He lost his job and all he wanted was to get his name cleared. (Hostaging foreigners was clearly not the best way to achieve this, though.) What if the man was telling the truth? What if he was wrongly accused? As stated above, no one attempted to uncover his side of the story. All we got was the notion that he was evil... Well, it could be true. I mean, he probably decided that if he died, he would reveal the inconsistencies of the system and make the Philippines a stench to other nations. What a way to get revenge... (I'm probably imagining this, but it's a possibility.) Anyway, he really made his mark in history.

(It's totally absurd that the nations who devotedly assisted us during the Ondoy and Pepeng storms are now treating us coldly and branding us with the "most dangerous" mark.)

So yeah. My point is we're not all to blame. The incident alone does not define us Filipinos. Sure we made mistakes, but everybody else does. I still believe that there is still hope for our country. There will always be hope. That's the only thing we could hold on to. It is said that promises are made to be broken. But hope in God is what we're going to live for.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review - L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton

Rating: 10/10

Johnny Lee, a friend of Henry Pitts, died a couple of months ago. His son, Chester, and grandson, Bucky, want to collect the army pension that the deceased man was supposed to receive. But inquiries denote that Lee was nowhere in the military database. Henry asks Kinsey Millhone to find out the deal behind all this. What she uncovers is more than what she bargained for - a decades old crime and one very dangerous person dogging her every move...

L is for Lawless is, by far, the most exciting Grafton novel I have read. The character of Kinsey Millhone is believable, complete with those flaws that make us human. The adventure, adrenaline rush, and other what-not absorb the reader into a fascinating whirlwind of surprising events. Any fan of the mystery genre must read this. The plot is absorbing and well-written. I like the way Grafton writes; it's so personal, and that makes her a great writer.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Movie Review - A Country Doctor

Rating: 7/10

A country doctor is asked to attend to a sick boy ten miles away one winter night. However, his sole horse died the night before. His serving-girl, Rosa, runs from house to house asking for a horse. In his frustration, the doctor kicks the door of his pig sty. A groom mysteriously appears from inside. He gives the doctor two magnificent horses and hitches them to his carriage. Once he is on the carriage, the doctor asks the groom to come with him. The latter refuses, wanting to be with Rosa, and spurs his horses on, leaving the doctor on his own. What follows is a whirlwind of mysterious and fascinating events.
A 21-minute film adaptation of Franz Kafka's short story, A Country Doctor is directed by Yamamura Koji. The animation is err... Disturbing. But it fits in well with the world of Kafka. I didn't like it much because, for one, I don't really know what this is all about. I mean, I can't get the meaning of the symbolisms in the film. So there's that. Second, I'm not in for this kind of weird animation. I'm so much more used to Studio Ghibli, or even MadHouse. Yamamura Kojis animation is just so queer and "vertiginous".

Movie Review - Megane (Glasses)

Rating: 10/10

In Megane, Takeo (Kobayashi Satomi) is a stressed out profesor who goes on an island vacation. She arrives at a hotel named "Hamada" run by Yuji (Mitsuishi Ken). She is surprised when her host sits down to eat with her. More so when she is woken up in the morning by an old woman named Sakura (Motai Masako), who comes to the island only during spring. She also finds the "merci taiso" queer. Takeo decides to check out and look for another hotel. But Marine Palace did not prove helpful so she returns to Hamada, a little awkwardly. As the days pass, she befriends the locals and learns how to "twilight", keeping up with the island's pace.

Megane is a really simple film but, as expected, its meanings are very deep. That is exactly one of the things I like in Japanese movies - they're not as superficial as... Others. Anyway, it's a feel good film with a lot of nice lessons. Watch it! :)

Movie Review - TOKYO TOWER: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad

Rating: 10/10

Nakagawa Masaya (Odagiri Joe) narrates his life, from his childhood up to the present time. As a child, his parents split up and he lived with his Mom (younger: Uchida Yayako; older: Kiki Kirin), but visits with his Dad (Kobayashi Kaoru) proved to be exciting. His dream is to enter art school. When he leaves his province to study in Tokyo, Masaya wastes his time and mother's money on women, drinking, smoking, and gambling. His mother begins running a restaurant to support him back home. At one point in the movie, while playing mahjong, he turns his life around and works hard. When he has enough money, he asks his mother to come to Tokyo and live with him, as her health continued to decline. His mother befriends his friends and cooks meals for them in Masaya's house. For a while, life is good. But his mother develops gastric cancer and she has to go through chemotherapy. After a few sessions, she asks him to stop the treatment because of the excruciating pain. The doctor informs Masaya that she only has a few months to live...
TOKYO Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad is a beautiful drama film. I'm so happy I was able to watch this. Odagiri Joe and Kiki Kirin were great in their portrayals. There were a lot of memorable scenes. The one I remember the most is the scene where Masaya hid his head in his hands, refusing to see his mother go through such pain. It's just a nice, nice mother-son movie. Watch it! :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Movie Review - The Book of Eli

Rating: 9/10

The world is in a post-apocalyptic age. Food and water is running out. Other resources are also scarce. There is fighting and violence all around. The sun has grown hotter, too hot for human eyes to be able to see without sunglasses. A lone man named Eli has walked the earth for many years, bringing a book with him that he must take West. Carnegie, a ruler of a town, wants that book and will stop at nothing to get it, but Eli would protect it with all he's got.

I liked the movie. It's cool, really. I liked the color scheme, all gray and grim (in contrast to the harsh glare of the sun, maybe?). The fight scenes were awesome! Denzel Washington is a great actor and it was just a great cast. I think the plot was well-written and the twist at the end was really surprising. So it's a good movie, for me at least.

One last thing: the book that Eli is taking West and Carnegie wants the most is a King James version of the Bible. How's that? :D

Movie Review - Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

Rating: 8/10

Dastan, an orphan in Persia, is adopted by the king after showing courage in the marketplace. Fifteen years later, the empire wages war against the city of Alamut because it is rumored to be selling weapons to Persia's enemies. In spite of his doubts, Dastan leads a surprise attack that succeeds in the breach of the city's walls, allowing his countrymen to attack it. The princess of Alamut, Tamina, instructs a soldier to bring a dagger to a safe place. Dastan, however, defeats the soldier and the dagger falls into his hands. During the feast for the successful capture, Dastan brings an ornamented robe as a gift to the king. After a few minutes, the king dies because the robe is poisoned. Branded a murdered, Dastan escapes, with the help of Princess Tamina, and undertakes a journey to prove his innocence to his uncle, Nizam. He soon discovers the ability of the dagger to reverse time. When the truth about the attack and the real murderer is revealed, Dastan must protect the dagger at all costs. If it falls into the wrong hands, an apocalyptic event will take place and this must be prevented.

A movie adaptation of a video game, I think Prince of Persia: Sands of Time did fairly well. I liked the fight scenes and the stunts. The background music was also nice ( I've come to like Persian music because of MuL 13...); it really puts you there. The movie entertained me a lot and the plot was pretty exciting. I think Jake Glylenhaal did a god job with the role (probably some bias here :D). Gemma Arterton, who plays Princess Tamina, was good (-looking) also.

So I think Prince of Persia is an entertaining movie. Not as good as the others, maybe, but I appreciated it.

Book Review - Candide by Voltaire

Rating: 10/10

"In this best of all possible worlds, everything is for the best."

With Dr. Pangloss' optimist philosophy in his mind, Candide grows up believing that the world he lives in is beautiful and that all things will work out for good. Even though he is flogged, punished, shipwrecked, alone, and miserable, he stubbornly clings to this belief. A novel written for the criticism of the Age of Enlightenment thinkers, Candide is one of the most celebrated works of French literature.

I never thought that the day would come when I would appreciate Voltaire. (All I previously knew about him is that the volt was named after him. Other than that, nadda.) Candide certainly made me like the French author.

This novel is the only one from our English 12 reading list that I've seriously enjoyed reading. Medea is okay but it's just too "unfeeling" for me. I haven't finished Inferno by Dante Alighieri because of the language. Candide, on the other hand, is a beautiful philosophical novel which truly entertains with its satirical tone and highly exaggerated story plot. The characters are odd and are surprisingly resurrected after such painful deaths. As Mam Concepcion pointed out, only the good guy (James the Anabaptist) died, and a man who did not believe in infant baptism at that. Friars are portrayed as liars, thieves, and vow breakers which tell us how much Voltaire hated organized religion. Also, the place where happiness can be found is a place that does not exist (Eldorado). It's really no wonder why Candide is such a famous work.

Book Review - CSI: Double Dealer by Max Allan Collins

Rating: 7/10

A killer is on the loose - one who uses a distinctive double tap signature on his victim. A mob lawyer, Philip Dingelmann, is killed in his hotel. A fifteen year old murder, with exactly the same signature, is found in a construction site. The night shift CSIs of the Las Vegas Police Department must find out the person behind this before someone else gets hurt...

I kind of liked it, but the television series is better. The dialogue is a bit corny but it stays true to the characters. I was expecting that the whole gang would be here (like Hodges, Wendy, and Archie maybe), but it was only the characters from Season 1. Greg Sanders was the only lab rat I read about. Doc Al wasn't given much "book time" so it's pretty disappointing. But, overall, it's a good book and a nice read for crime and mystery enthusiasts.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review - A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

Rating: 9/10

The first book in the Alphabet Mysteries, Sue Grafton introduces her detective, Kinsey Millhone, in A is for Alibi. Nikki, wife of the late Laurence Fife, is released from prison and hires Kinsey to find out who really killed her husband eight years ago. A jumble of events take place, including an affair with Fife's co-worker, the handsome Charlie Scorsoni, another eight year old murder, and a second corpse.

I liked this book; there's no denying that fact. I actually liked the character of Kinsey Millhone, because I think we're kind of similar in more ways than one. It's also an interesting read because Grafton lists down the things that Kinsey does. The reader isn't just seeing the geeky stuff. She's not just showing the reader how the investigation is going but also shows the life of Kinsey Millhone - how she lives it, how she spends her time, where she eats, the people she gets along with, etc. The first-person narrative also helped because the reader is able to see and follow the ideas that go through her mind. It also gives it a personal touch; the reader can't help but cheer for Kinsey as the story unfolds.

All in all, I think Grafton made a great debut with this novel. I've read her story in Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul and her dedicatory epistle to her father, Chip W. Grafton, is well-deserved. I bet her father's real proud of her. No wonder Sue Grafton is still a powerful force in the mystery genre today.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Can' take my hands off you...

SERIOUSLY. Yes, seriously, I cannot take my hands off you. No, I'm not talking about a species of the male Homo sapiens. I am talking about the best-est thing in the world for me: books.


First of all, I can't help but buy one or two books every week from Booksale. Hunting for the right book in a mountain of 'em is hard work but once you find the real treasure, it's the achievement of a lifetime. Like yesterday, I found a copy of Pinnochio by Carlo Collodi for 40 pesos. That book is rare to me because it's the first time I've seen it. I mean, I always knew [in my heart] that such a book existed but I've never seen it. So, yeah. It's a great achievement!

Second, books keep me company. Often, more than friends. I keep them around me for leisure and knowledgeable pursuits. Curiously enough, I am not drawn to academic and non-fiction books...

I learn a lot from books, especially from Michael Crichton's sci-fi books. It's amazing because most of these stuff are things I don't learn in school and would never bother reading about in the Science library. But when they're written by Crichton or by any other sci-fi writer, they pique my interest. The things which are hidden from us are revealed through books. While reading them, I am able to know what the life of a doctor, detective, or a writer is all about. Books also take me to places I've never been and will never be in. Take Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy or C.S. Lewis' Narnia, for example. It fosters a person's imagination and exercises the mind's creativity.

There are a lot more reasons why I love books so I wonder why some people don't read them or how they can survive without reading them. They're missing out on a lot of things. The world of books is so wonderful! :3

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Movie Review - Salt

Rating: 9/10

Angelina Jolie plays the role of Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian spy by a man referred to as Orlov. He says that she is tasked to assassinate the Russian president during the American vice president's funeral. Thus begins an action-adventure movie you will most likely not forget.

First of all, when I knew that the movie's title was Salt, I thought it was going to be a wee bit similar to Madhouse Studio's Paprika because, well, they're both named after spices so... *shrugshrug* Anyway, it was Inception, I think, that turned out to be similar to Paprika because of all that dream thing.

Okay, so, I think Salt is a good movie. Angelina Jolie is really making her mark as a female action star and she's quite good at it. It's also cool to see a [gorgeous] woman doing those amazing stunts, getting beat up, and kicking bad guys' butt all around. And it leaves you wondering how she keeps her sultry look while doing those...

The storyline is a tad bit confusing since it alternates between two identities of Evelyn Salt, but I think that's what makes the movie great. It just shows how human Salt can be.

So, before I give anything away, I'll be ending this review. :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Book Review - The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton

Rating: 9/10

Harry Benson suffers from psychomotor epilepsy. He often has seizures which are followed by blackouts, which often result to his injuring someone near him fatally. Doctors Ellis and Morris of the University Hospital are certain that they can "cure" Benson of these seizures by implanting 40 electrodes in his brain that would stop the seizures from occurring. However, a female psychiatrist, Janet Ross, and an emeritus professor, Manon, question the nature of Benson's mind which is, according to them, psychotic. In spite of this, the two doctors operate on Benson. The operation is successful and things seem to be going well, until Benson finds a way to stimulate the seizures himself. He escapes the hospital, and starts wreaking havoc.

The Terminal Man is basically a medical fiction novel, but I completely understood it. That alone makes it awesome. It's readable and easy to understand, even for a non-scientific person (like me). What Michael Crichton suggested here - mind control - is not far from happening, and it's really, really scary. (That's probably the reason why I read sci-fi - because it predicts things that could happen in the future)

Another subject that is discussed in the novel is the idea that machines are replacing people. This is indeed true in our present day. We've probably heard of workers losing their jobs because machines are being installed in factories for faster production. In this concept, I don't think Benson was psychotic, because it's happening right now.

The idea of a brain pacemaker is cool, I think. But, of course, it has its down side too, as Crichton discussed in the novel. Take that Backerman guy for example. Medical science is trying to find ways to cure people, not entertain them.

Now, mind control is interesting. I liked that paragraph about humans having their minds controlled since birth. This is one of the things that happen which is not usually noticed by most people. Mind control is a reality.

Okay. So I pretty much liked The Terminal Man. Next to Tess Gerritsen's Gravity, this is one of the best medical fiction book I've read (so far).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Movie Review - The Last Airbender

Rating: 4/10

The Last Airbender is the movie adaptation of the highly rated Nickelodeon series, Avatar. Basically, it is set in an elemental world composed of four nations: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. There are some people who are gifted with the art of bending their natural element. The Avatar, looked upon as the peacemaker, is able to bend all the elements. However, the Fire Nation wants power and begins to conquer the world. The Avatar, though, disappears. Water Nation siblings Sokka (Jackson Rahtbone) and Katara (Nicola Peltz) "discover" an airbender, Aang (Noah Ringer), and his flying bison Appa frozen in ice. They find out later on that this boy is the Avatar, and that he has disappeared for nearly a hundred years.

I think the movie sucked because of  a number of reasons:
1. M.Night Shyamalan packed the whole first season in a 1 hour and something minute film, rendering people who have no idea about the cartoon series unable to comprehend it. Even I, who watched the series, am a bit confused about the turn-out of events. :/
2. Jackson Rathbone as Sokka DID NOT work. Nuh-uh. He just doesn't exude that kind of humorous aura that the cartoon Sokka has. He's too serious and the punch lines just don't work.
3. Uncle Iroh's funny lines are missing. Okay, so there was only one line that made me laugh: "I told them you were on vacation with a girl." But that's about it. Oh well.
4. The casting just didn't work. I mean, Dev Patel's okay (coughbiascoughbiascoughbiascough) as Zuko but I have problems with the others. Noah Ringer can't act. Nicola Peltz is okay but she's not as awesome as Summer Bishil (Azula). The Fire Nation citizens are Indians, Earth Nation citizens are Koreans, and Water Nation citizens are Caucasian. I don't think I have problems with the Air Nomads.
5. Momo has a small role. HAHA! I personally think Momo should have had more screen time.
6. The movie could have been longer. A lot longer. :/

The Last Airbender could have been improved. M.Night Shyamalan did great movies before but this just didn't work. The special effects are awesome, though.

But Twilight's a lot worse, don't worry. :D 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Movie Review - The Cat Returns

Rating: 10/10

The Cat Returns
is the story of Haru (Anne Hathaway), a girl to whom the cats feel indebted to because she saved their prince. To repay her kindness, the Cat King (Tim Curry) decides to have her marry his son. Haru thinks it is a ridiculous idea but she knows that the cats will definitely do it. While pondering her situation, she hears a voice telling her to "find the Cat Bureau" by first looking for a white cat in the cross roads. She does so (a bit skeptically, I should think) and soon finds herself in a world where creations come alive. She meets two such creations: Toto (Elliott Gould), a crow statue, and The Baron (Cary Elwes), a cat figurine (first seen in Whisper of the Heart). She also meets a fat, white cat named Muta (Peter Boyle). Together, they try to escape the clutches of the Cat King. With these three uncommon companions, Haru learns an important lesson: believing in oneself.

NYAA~ I think it's a fabulous, fabulous, fabulous, meow-tastic movie! (I could say that I liked this better than Whisper of the Heart.) It's not just because Studio Ghibli produced it, but because it is a beautiful story. It's light and very much heart-warming. There were a dozen or more times when it made me smile (like a fool in front of the laptop), laugh, and feel real good. The Cat Kingdom concept is really nice and the entertainers are really funny! Plus, the throw-out-of-the-window thing is so hilarious!

For favorite characters... I liked them all! Then again, I think the Baron is a little arrogant but he's so cool! I think, like Haru, I may have a crush on him. Nyaa~ I want my own Baron now! Muta is also cool (and fat)! The jokes are usually directed towards him (such as his always being bait). Another cat that I liked is Natoru. Nyaa~ He's really cute. Haru is also an awesome heroine. I like her character very much. :)

For favorite scenes... I really liked the one where Prince Lune (Andrew Bevis) said to Yuki (Judy Greer): "Yuki, would you accept these fish crackers as a symbol of my love for as long as we have nine lives?" or something like that. Nyaa~ That was incredibly sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet~

So yeah, obviously, I like The Cat Returns a lot. An hour and fifteen minutes spent watching this isn't time wasted, I'm telling you. It's really entertaining and just about fun with a whole lot of lessons in it!

Movie Review - Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Rating: 6/10

Laputa: Castle in the Sky is about, well, Laputa the castle in the sky. Err... It follows the story of Sheeta (Anna Paquin), a princess in Laputa whose ancestors came down to live on Earth. The film starts off with her as a prisoner of Muska (Mark Hamill), some bespectacled guy from the intelligence agency (I think...). A group of pirates, led by Dola (Cloris Leachman), attack the airship. Their main objective is to steal the etherium necklace which Sheeta owns. While the army is busy with the intruders, Sheeta knocks Muska unconcious and climbs out of the window. The pirates try to grab her but she falls down. Instead of plummeting to Earth, though, Sheeta floats down slowly with the power of her necklace. A young boy named Pazu (James van Der Beek) "catches" her and takes care of her. The next day, both the pirates and the army are back to capture Sheeta. The two of them try to escape but they are eventually caught by Muska. He lets Pazu go because Sheeta agreed to help him find the legendary Laputa. Pazu goes back to his home, dejected, and finds Dola and her gang there. They tie him up but, as they were leaving, Pazu urges Dola to take him. She does and they go to the army's base to take Sheeta back. When they reunite, Sheeta tells them that she would like to see Laputa for herself. Dola agrees, under the pretence that she's doing it for the treasure...

(Err... So that's a pretty long summary but it kind of composed the first hour of the film. I guess I was in the mood to write a long one.)

Okay, so it's directed by Hayao Miyazaki and, as usual, distributed by Studio Ghibli. I like Miyazaki's films but I feel that this one is just too cliche. It's not bad; it's just that things are getting a wee bit too tiring to see the same things over and over again. (I liked the look of Laputa, though.) For one, there's the stereotype of the bad guy: wears glasses and a suit, tall, thin, mysterious AND part of a secretive government agency. The pirate friendship thing was pretty much predictable. I personally thought Sheeta and Pazu were too young to be real close like that. :P

So yeah. Laputa is okay but it's kind of old-fashioned. It's not exactly my thing, but in some instances it is. That's pretty much weird but I think Laputa hangs precariously over the edge of boredom.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Movie Review - Juno

Rating: 9/10

Juno is the story of a sixteen year old girl, Juno MacGaff, who gets pregnant by her bestfriend, Paulie Bleeker. At first, she wanted to abort the baby but she couldn't go through with it, so she decides to give it up for adoption instead.

Basically, the film is about what a teenager goes through with pregnancy, love, friends and school. Don't be fooled, though. It's not quite your average "chick flick" or whatever you call it. Juno is so much more than that. It's real hard to put it into words but it's a great, great movie. Check out the cool soundtrack, too. :)

I think Ellen Page did a great job. Jennifer Garner is so pretty. -sigh-

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray book trailer


Here's the cast:

Moira Dennis --- Gemma
Devon Jordan --- Pippa
Kasia Cylc --- Felicity
Joanna Wilson --- Ann
Manish Dayal --- Kartik
Diane Love --- Eugenia Spence
Piper Kenny --- Poppy Warrior
Sarah Carl --- Wilhemina
Meg McQuillan --- Circe
Jessica Carlson --- Bessie
Alyse Binder --- Mae
Catherine Melillo --- Wendy
Lucy Rayner --- Voiceover

Friday, July 2, 2010

Some sorta poem...

Last embrace.
Kiss on the cheek,
Tear on the other.

Pink carnations.
Promises of tomorrow,
Fragile and unsure,
I still hold on.

I sit by the window,
Wind blowing.
Smoke on the horizon.

A push on the front,
Desperate attempts,
"Fly the flag!"

A package arrives.
High expectation.
Anxiety. Ecstasy.
I receive it.

A box of nasturtiums,
And cattails also,
But dead leaves follow.
I weep.

Dark crimson roses
Fill the garden.
"I'll never forget you."

- - - - - - - - - - -


Movie Review - Because of Winn-Dixie

Rating: 8/10

Based on the novel by Kate diCamillo of the same name, Because of Winn-Dixie is the story of the friendship between a young girl and a dog. India Opal is the new kid in the block. She and her preacher dad just moved from Watley to Naomi, a small rural town. Opal can't make friends easily but this all changes when she meets Winn-Dixie, a dog she "adopted" after she saw it in the Winn-Dixie grocery store.

I didn't like the book much (in comparison with The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) nor did I like the movie... At first. (It's not only because it stars  the young AnnaSophia Robb...) The first thirty to forty minutes of the film was kind of boring and the acting was a little lacking, I guess. But as the movie progressed, Robb's acting improved greatly and so did everyone else's. That must look really weird but that was it for me. :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review - A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery

Rating: 9/10

A Tangled Web
is one of L.M. Montgomery's many novels. It is set on Prince Edward Island and tells the story of two families - the Darks and the Penhallows - who have always intermarried for a long time. Now, the most prized possession - Harriet Dark's jug - is about to be bequeathed to one lucky person. Who is it going to be? Only sick and dying Aunt Becky knows and she's not about to let it off easily.

I had much fun reading this book. First of all, it's a novel by L.M. Montgomery! I haven't read one for, like, a long time (two or three months is a terribly long time...). Second, it's an exciting read. L.M. Montgomery retained the playfulness of her writing since Anne of Green Gables. It's always nice to read her books and, after reading one, I feel this sort of lightness and happiness about life. :D

The only thing I didn't quite like is that I had a little difficulty keeping up with the history of the various characters. There were a lot of them that I haven't had time to take note of them all. :P

As for the stories in general, I liked the bit about Brian and Cricket. I was really heart broken when his uncle wrung the kitten's pretty little neck. It's like I could feel a part of what Brian felt, having the only thing that ever loved him murdered. It's really sad and it's the one scene in the novel that really stood out to me. I also liked the bit about Walter Dark's black cat falling in a gallon of gasoline and coming out white. I think it describes the entirety of the novel - that a seemingly unfortunate circumstance could come out as fortunate in the end, after some trial (gasoline = fire; that Eng 11 stuff from last semester really worked. Haha!).

All in all, I liked A Tangled Web (not just because L.M. Montgomery used my nickname...). :D

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Rating: 10/10

Ivanhoe is set in twelfth century England, during the time of chivalry and the Crusades. It features unforgettable characters such as Wilfred of Ivanhoe, disinherited by his father because of his love for the lady Rowena; Richard Plantagenet, or more commonly known as Richard the Lion Hearted; the famous outlaw Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest and his band; and the valiant Templar, Brian de Bois-Guilbert. Ivanhoe is a story of love, corruption, discrimination and valuable courage.

I have, as a rule, always loved tales of medieval England and a knight's devotion to his lady love. In addition to this, I also love historical fiction. Well, Sir Walter Scott wrote a combination of the two resulting in Ivanhoe. What can I say? The first half of it was pretty much boring and quite unintelligible because of the language. But as it went by, the reader is caught in the hurricane of events and is, at last, able to feel the tension, fear, love and anger that the characters are feeling. The reader is able to love the characters (even Gurth, the loyal swineherd turned squire).

The story is beautiful and the topics it delves into are, I'm sure, quite familiar to us. There's the discrimination between Normans (French) and the Saxons (English) and these two against the Jews. The notion of slavery is also very much alive in the tale. Government corruption (and even inside the Catholic church) is portrayed. Love, I'm pretty much sure, is not a farfetched subject. Unrequited love, more so.

Now for the characters. The summary at the back of the book is not wrong in saying that Scott's characters are "a gallery of flesh-and-blood." Truly, they are these. Upon finishing the book, the reader cannot help but think if, somewhere in the world's history, a man such as Robin Hood lived or if the singular event of Athelstane's raising really happened. Scott's characters are so powerfully portrayed in this way.

Of course, I had my favorites. For characters there's Robin Hood (or Locksley), Friar Tuck, Rebecca, Richard the Lion Hearted, Wamba and Brian de Bois-Guilbert (towards the end, at least). Brian de Bois-Guilbert's character was especially endearing when he told Rebecca that "if I renounce present fame and future ambition, I renounce it for thy sake," (page 401). Yeah. I know. It's pretty much cheesy but isn't that something to come from an honored Templar?

Anyway, I really liked Ivanhoe and I don't regret buying it or spending a lot of hours reading it. It was fun. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Review - The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

Rating: 8/10

The Invisible Man is the story of Griffin, a young scientist who discovers a way to turn anything transparent through the refraction of light. Realizing the drawbacks of his strange "power," Griffin moves to Iping, a small village in the countryside, to find a way to somehow reverse the process. But, soon, people begin to be suspicious of the bandaged stranger...

H.G. Wells, as before (The Food of the Gods), is a great writer; he certainly knows what he is talking about. The process of Griffin's transformation from flesh and blood to an invisible man is explained thoroughly. However, this could induce an eyebrow-raising event for the not-so-scientific reader (like me). I find the explanation technical (although I'm sure Wells tried to make it "readable").

That's about the only drawback in the book, for me. Everything is well crafted and well done. It's a nice book and it certainly set the stage for science fiction. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review - The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Rating: 10/10

The Martian Chronicles is a collection of short stories written by Ray Bradbury. It tells of how humans colonized Mars because atomic war is threatening Earth.

I really like this book (better than Farenheit 451, I think) because of the simplicity with which it was written. Ray Bradbury is a literary master. It's no wonder he's so famous.

[Do not underestimate the shortness of this post. XD]

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

STFAP stuff

So, STFAP results for the second batch run are out today and guess what? I'm still in Bracket B. AND so is my sister. I mean, what the heck is that? There are two of us in college now and we're in Bracket B?? Seriously. Last academic year, I was in Bracket C and my sister was still in high school then. What the heck?..

Movie Review - Dorian Gray (2009 film)

Rating: 6/10

This 2009 British film is a movie adaptation of Oscar Wilde's only  novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. It stars Ben Barnes in the main role. Dorian Gray is a naive, young gentleman who arrives in London because he is heir to his [cruel] grandfather's estate. Upon seeing him, society artist Basil Hallward decides to paint him in order to capture the youthfulness he sees in the young man. A corrupt lord, Henry Wotton, befriends Dorian and notes, upon seeing the finished picture, that the portrait will remain the same while Dorian ages. He teases him about bartering his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth. Dorian wishes this to be true, and so the story unfolds.

Ah, another book-to-movie adaptation. I'm not pleased. I find the acting a bit awkward and I have this urge to laugh whenever Ben Barnes cries or suddenly wakes up. But his gorgeous face is really right for the role. He looks innocent and faultless just like the book character. Despite all this, his true nature hides behind this pretty face (or, rather, hides in a portrait hidden in his attic). Colin Firth is a good actor, as always. Rachel Hurd Wood (she plays Sibyl Vane) turned out to be a pretty lady. :)

The film is boring at the beginning and I find the first 45 minutes to be very "slow." It's dragging in a sort of way. It's quite different from the book. I think the inclusion of Alan Campbell's role in the murder would add more horror to it. However, Henry Wotton's character is a sure winner. Colin Firth, I think, really captured the role of a corrupt lord who influences a naive gentleman to take on a hedonistic lifestyle while he himself is afraid to partake in it. He saved the film, I should think.

The scenes wherein Dorian delves into a hedonistic (pleasure-seeking) lifestyle are too many. I find it extremely gross. There also isn't much portrayal of the kind Dorian Gray, therefore the audience cannot rightly compare his light and dark sides.

The character of Emily Wotton is a good addition and Rebecca Hall is a fine actress. :)

All in all, Dorian Gray is a dark film that shows us that there are two sides [always] to a gamble; in this case, beauty or youth comes with a very huge [and strange] price. It's not a completely horrific adaptation nor is it good. It's just okay.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Review - Shadow Baby by Alison McGhee

Rating: 7/10

Shadow baby is the story of Clara winter (she prefers the lowercase), an eleven year old girl who is struggling to learn more about her dead twin sister, father, and grandfather. However, her mother Tamar would not reveal any information. She also meets an immigrant, Georg Komminsky, who is equally silent about his past. Because of this, Clara  makes up her and the old man's histories. It's a novel about an unlikely friendship and finding possibility.

I can say that it's a really good novel and that the tone is equal all throughout. The only thing I didn't like about it is that I find it boring at times. I learned much from it, though, and it's really a touching story. The ending was also very well done and the last sentence, "But I was a child then." sums up the whole of the novel. It's real nice. :)