reaping the cost of solitude

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Taken 2 - Review

My first thoughts while watching it was feeling pity over this Mills family - especially for the mother and daughter. They could not be any more unlucky with two consecutive kidnappings in just a span of 2-3 years (I'm guessing). As an action movie, it works. But you'll have a hard time believing this much bad luck can befall a family. So much that as an attempt to pacify this string of horrible events, they toned down the violence to its hostages. For one, I always thought the face of the mother should be covered in blood- but we only see red smudges that barely resemble blood. Overkill averted. I felt the producers made a conscious effort not to torture Mills' family too much since it would become too ridiculously far-fetched for anyone to believe considering what happened to them in the first movie. Not that it isn't "far-fetched" already- movies have always been about shoving realism aside, but this was almost unrealistic even for a movie. Almost.

That's pretty much my only complaint. The rest of the movie is exactly what I wanted the sequel to be. The title itself says "Taken" so what did you expect? Neeson is bad-ass as always, and seeing this lump of testosterone interact with his divorcee ex-wife and love-struck daughter is a delight in itself. He is the glue that ties everything together, and I can't think of anyone else who could remotely fill his shoes.

Did I mention the movie was incredibly entertaining? 8/10

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Comfort rooms, more commonly referred to as "CRs", are the Filipino version of "toilets" - so I've heard from a foreigner who recently pointed out the gaping irony that there's absolutely nothing comfortable about them. The guy has since abstained from disparaging the many oddities in Filipino rhetoric, thanks to a few angry politicians - who prefer other people believing that when Filipinos use the word "comfort", they mean just that. (And they don't take kindly to any criticisms)

Contrary to popular belief, toilets/CRs did not pop into existence for the sole purpose of purging bodily wastes in the most sanitary way, and most definitely not just for 'comfort'. It serves other purposes as well - a place to sleep during office hours for instance, albeit a musty and sweaty way to doze off with your pants down (depending on the air conditioning). It's a tricky way to sleep, but people pride themselves when they're able to pull off 2-3 second short bursts of dozing off without falling over. Apparently spending a few hours a day mastering this technique is far more fulfilling than actually doing your job.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Why does the internet hate Justin Bieber?

Any person who's been exposed to the internet longer than one of his songs will figure as much: the internet hates Justin Bieber.

This phenomenon first sprung into existence at the exact same time he released his music video for the song "Baby", and is probably best explained by that video alone. Since its release, it has amassed an astonishing 2 million dislikes - the first ever for a Youtube video. Anyone 'lucky' enough to have been involved in the song and video, namely Ludacris and Drake, must regret having anything to do with it (although they won't admit it). One could imagine Ludacris sitting on his sofa, being "hip-hop legit" and all, Cristal in one hand, a voluptuous babe on the other, then this music video comes on TV. He'll probably choke on his Cristal and have a heart-attack finding the remote to change the channel. As for Drake, nobody knows exactly what he's doing in a Justin Bieber music video, and he's probably wondering the same thing.

While Ludacris and Drake have got it worse, the rest of the world definitely got it better. For one, two strangers on the internet now have one thing in common by default, making it easier for them to connect:

Person A: "I hate Justin Bieber."
Person B: "Me too! Let's be e-friends!"
Person A: (likes Person B's comment)
Person B: (likes Person A's like on his comment)

...and so on and so forth. It's akin to patting the backs of seemingly like-minded strangers on the internet, immediately forming rapport. Many have gone on to establish fruitful friendships while others go as far as marrying each other, thanks to that one little thing that started it all- mutual hate for Bieber.

My point is this - with the exception of probably 10 percent of the Bieber-hating population, nobody really hates him. "Hate" is such a strong word and nobody in his right mind would ever do such a cruel thing to a teenage boy who just wants to make music. What people do though, is they pretend to hate him. This almost always guarantees an immediate connection with the Bieber-hating populace, hence improving their chances of nurturing new friendships over the internet.

The internet has become more and more of a big social gathering through the years and the last thing anyone wants to do is wave a Bieber flag as they go on Youtube or Facebook. It's first-impression suicide. One has to go in, all smiles, sip a cheap version of Cristal, and start a conversation with someone and slowly work "Bieber Hatred" into the conversation. Once you do, and once the other guy concurs, you will have made a friend. You can then proceed to discuss how great Green Day is.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A new way to listen to music

The other day I was stuck listening to the soundtrack of a movie and thought maybe every song we brush aside can be conveyed in a way we're oblivious about- like these songs fortunate to have appropriate imagery plastered along with them. Not much is left for the imagination as a result, but sometimes lazy minds just need that extra push.

I used to sit and listen to music with eyes closed, trying to construct images in my head - images I deem appropriate for a song. You have no idea how many cerebral music videos have passed through my head and vanished, it's a shame. But I'm pretty sure most of them were cliche. You know... like playing to the most obvious emotional response to a song: Joy. Sadness. Pity. Adventure. Sun.

So when I came upon these soundtracks and re-watched the movies that featured them, not just in a casual way, but really watched them, I intended to find the little nuances that make great visuals for a particular piece of music - or great music for a particular set of visuals - focusing on visuals that I would otherwise never think of. I'm hoping it makes me remember images better, and at the same time rid my head of this bland mesh of cliche. And perhaps by doing it repeatedly, I get better at it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What I think about the Tulfo-Santiago incident in NAIA 3

The much celebrated celebrity death match between 80-yr-old Tulfo and the Santiagos has generated more hits than the recently concluded Cotto-Mayweather boxing match. That's an achievement. Perhaps people prefer a more informal type of fight - held at the prestigious Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA-3), an airport-slash-grandstand (the first of its kind) oozing with awesomeness it apparently has no need for security or any type of surveillance.

Security guards are also really just untrained civilians with company-issued security guard uniforms. Armed with nothing but their bare hands, their vast numbers are at least competent enough to physically restrain an 80-yr-old Aikido/Taekwondo black belt, who must have looked like he was clearly on the way to a lopsided victory over the 2 or 3 people who were intent on giving him a beauty makeover- until his face was glowing a nice shade of mestizo-like red. Later in the police station, you could see the frustration in Tulfo's face after realizing he was duped by the Santiagos, seeing his newly acquired boyishly-handsome skin-tone go on to look like the sky at night.

Still, back in the fight, you have to give it up for Tulfo, who was skillful and creative enough to give Claudine Barretto the worst beating of her life - leaving smudges of what I think could only be Hershey's Chocolate on her thigh. Much respect to her for harnessing her long-dormant acting abilities by demonstrating how said Hershey's Chocolate can be bad for your health with a convincing limp.

Also, kudos to the airline, who many believe to be the chief organizers of the fight. They're the only airline kind enough to withhold bad news from their passengers, at least letting them 'enjoy their flights' while it lasted (there's some truth to the pablum they spew over the intercom after all). This proved beneficial to other passengers as well. I imagine anyone lucky enough to sit beside an irate Claudine Barretto would be pretty grateful.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Avengers was great (a really short review) + Captain America lifting Thor's hammer

Just came from the cinema watching the highly anticipated movie adaptation of The Avengers. I thought it was great. At first I doubted how they could possibly make this movie work, considering its scale, but they pulled it off with flying colors.

The film is still fresh in my mind and I'm thinking about stand-out scenes right now, but couldn't - because there's just far too many memorable scenes in this thing. Definitely a delight to watch, especially for long time fans. There's this one scene though that tickled the nerd in me. It's the scene where the Hulk and Thor are fighting and Hulk tries to lift Thor's hammer but couldn't. After watching that, I immediately thought whoever wrote this movie knew exactly what he was doing.

There were a few things that bothered me- one had to do with the green behemoth, Hulk. In a scene aboard Nick Fury's ridiculous carrier-slash-hovercraft, Bruce Banner loses his temper and with it, his ability to control himself as he made it his personal goal to squash little ol' Black Widow as she desperately scampers from one corridor to another, trying to hide in hopes of draining out Hulk's attention span.

Hi. I'm the incredible Hulk. I'm amazing and inconsistent.

This will be the last scene you'll see Banner completely lose control over himself. The next time you see him transform into the Hulk, almost miraculously, he's in total control of the green lump of muscle, able to identify enemies and allies accurately, whereas a few minutes ago he was intent on pounding Black Widow's ass to the mezzanine floor. Talk about blatant inconsistencies. I felt the crowd (and myself) let that one slip, convincing ourselves there must have been something we missed that justified this 'turn of events'. "Meh, it's just a movie." Surprisingly, this kind of looking-the-other-way-when-something-is-definitely-wrong-here worked for this movie, since I came out of the theater feeling a bit stupid, but fully entertained.

Interesting facts

In the Marvel universe, it is well known that Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, can only be lifted by those deemed 'worthy' to harness its powers. So it's never a matter of strength (Hulk). The interesting thing is Captain America, considered one of the less powerful Avengers, actually was able to lift the hammer at some point  (specifically Steve Rogers, in US Agent costume). There were a bunch of other people that lifted the hammer, but thought Cap was the most interesting out of all of them.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The meaning of life?

We say we are but a tiny spec in the vastness of the universe. I say, why do we put too much emphasis on size? It's overrated. It's an illusion with no other purpose but to entertain our otherwise unremarkable minds. Unremarkable they may be, but you can argue that your measly self-consciousness is far more valuable than the entire universe, for any kind of 'meaning' or 'purpose' could only be borne out of consciousness.

I suggest that the meaning of life is subjective. It could never be objective. Ever.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Diablo 3 Beta - First impressions / Review

I've been playing the beta ever since it was made open to the public. Honestly, I got bored a bit, but hopefully the rest of Act 1 (and the rest of the game) is interesting enough to keep me playing.

I do not really like the "no stat points" "no skill points" thing. Without those, I felt the game lost its role-playing aspect. They say taking out those aspects prevents players from ever making a mistake with stats and skill points ever again. Well, in my opinion, I want to make those mistakes. It's part of the thrill and excitement in RPGs, you know, to actually make decisions for your character and be rewarded or punished for those decisions. Removing those basically promotes carelessness while playing because, hey, I can always 'change skills' later anyway without consequences.

Also, role-playing games are supposed to be about making unique characters or avatars in a virtual environment. Stat and skill point distribution, and actual items made your Diablo 2 character unique. However, in Diablo 3 only the items make your character unique. That's pretty depressing if you ask me. What exactly is unique to your Barbarian and the Barbarian that's hacking monsters alongside you? Items(TM). Utterly depressing.

And I also prefer the idea of making different characters with different builds, instead of making only one Barbarian that can cater all builds. I mean, what exactly is the point of making another Barbarian? There isn't. They say a level 1 character is basically an empty canvass, but you see, in D3 a fully-leveled character is still pretty much an empty canvass, the only difference being, again, the Items(TM).

It's becoming quite obvious what the main focus is here. You guessed it. Add the fact that Blizzard is adding the shiny new Auction House where you can pawn these Items(TM) off for real-world money... makes it such an easy target for someone like me who finds the game's intense focus on items questionable- ever more so than the previous games.

Well, those are my first thoughts. That and the cool blood spatters when you hack 'em zombies dead. Bloodied zombies lose this time though. Hopefully after finishing the full game my opinions will change.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Diablo 3 - What Diablo should look like

I'm talking about the actual Diablo monster, not the game's World of Warcraft-looking environment. Anyway, I really wish they had spent more time thinking about their new Diablo model. Here it is at its present state:
While he does look good, and probably better than the one in Diablo 2, there's something about this design (and the previous ones) that's been bothering me. And I think I figured it out. This Diablo just doesn't scare me. Like, not at all.

When you look at the series and really get back down to what inspired Blizzard North way back when they were making the first Diablo, it's really about evil. Intense, unrelenting evil. The devil. Lucifer. Profane, unsettling, absurdly unnerving evil. Granted the development team at Blizzard has been hard at work updating their Diablo design for D3, the present model just leaves a lot be desired. To be honest, it just looks like a mindless alien.

But there was actually a time when they almost hit the nail on the design, or, should I say, they were almost on the right track to what I thought the likeness of Diablo should be. A few weeks back, IGN released this article showing the many design iterations the monsters in the game underwent before the designers settled on their current models - and that includes Diablo himself. One of those Diablo design concepts caught my eye, and it was this one:
I'm a fan of the "less is more" philosophy when it comes to Diablo. Among the 4 designs that were posted on that IGN article, this is what I thought was the most unnerving and closest to what I thought Diablo should be - really menacing, so evil-looking and sinister. It's not overly-endowed with exaggerated spikes and whatnot, and for once it's not stooping like a mindless animal.

It's got a really regal air of evil to it and its upright posture probably helps with that. It exudes intelligence, wisdom, making you think that this isn't just some dumb, lumbering monster running around on all fours chasing you. This guy actually looks like it knows what it's doing as opposed to something that's just killing everything in its path indiscriminately because it's programmed to do so by nature - like a shark. Well, that's what I actually thought of the previous designs of Diablo - they're basically just sharks. This Diablo, on the other hand, is on a whole new level of evilness and it's a creative path I wished the designers pursued more before giving in to their unfounded love for spikes and other theatrics.

That's probably what's wrong with designers these days, they are all about flashy appearances. Want something scary? Draw something big, put lots of spikes on it, and put an evil grin on its face. It's so easy and uninspired it's a shame. I would challenge the designers to be more subtle and experimental - stir up what lurks underneath. Also, is it me or are designers shying away from things that are disturbing? I'd like to see more disturbing concepts in media - video games, movies, or whatever.
Those aren't of Diablo of course, but if you think these are more scary than the current Diablo design, then there's definitely something wrong there. This is Diablo we are talking about. Diablo. He's supposed to be the scariest m.f. out there. Anything less is just disappointing.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I can't believe Jimmy Sieczka (from 20 reasons I hate the Phils) actually made a public apology

Jimmy Sieczka is a guy known infamously in the Philippines for hosting a video called "20 reasons why I dislike the Philippines". Guess what. Filipino politicians are mad. Like really irrationally mad. The thing that really irks me is that Jimmy Sieczka actually made a public apology for his 'actions'. You can view his public apology video here.

Apparently, politicians were threatening to declare him "persona non-grata" for his "transgressions":
Cebu City officials no longer plan to declare Sieczka “persona non grata” because of the apology he made, said Sylvan Jakosalem, chief of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), who posted a comment on the site. Read more.
Mmmhm.... These politicians really don't know anything about democracy. Seriously.

"Persona non-grata" seems to be a term that gets thrown around these days- more often that it should be. Geezus, grow some cojones and accept criticism for pete's sake! Criticism is criticism. Harsh or mild, you have the right to be offended and respond in kind. Comment and refute the critic's claims to your heart's content, but actually moving to punish the critic on a political level? That's just really low.

Pretty soon, things are going to look like this if this doesn't stop:

Man #1: this place is a f@$%# mess!
Politician: I declare you persona non grata!

Man #2: the traffic in this place is impossible!
Politician: I declare you persona non grata!

Man #3: I hate this place!