More on “La La Land”

I loved a lot of things about “La La Land”– the acting, the music, the seamless story line. And then there were the moments that just got to me. One such instance is when Emma Stone sings the haunting “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”.a story turned power song that soon becomes her ticket to stardom.

“Here’s to the fools who dream, foolish as it may seem” sings the track, and right they are. La La Land is a love letter to these people– dreamers, those unafraid and gutsy enough to chase the most ridiculous aspirations at the cost of a stable life.

But what about those who don’t? What about those people who accept reality and choose to give up the lightness of free spirit for the sake of stability?

What about people like me?

La La Land brought back a tumult of memories for me..most of which included moments in my life when I used to be a free-spirited, highly inspired ‘writer type’ that saw scripts and short stories as my future. That moment in particular comes almost six years ago, when I had first discovered the Beatles and found myself obsessed with the color and the chaos of 1960s culture.

Needless to say a lot has changed since then. Time, place and circumstance have brought me to a point where I am inhabiting a space that seems more stable than it was six years back. But that spark… that wellspring of inspiration and shear flight, has gone. Ideas just don’t flow like they used to, and I miss that freedom dearly.

But then, perhaps I can find that again. Perhaps La La Land has guided me to reminisce about a not-so distant past that was just incredible for me.

Could I come back? Should I?…

 

 

Because a Say is a Say no matter what you Say

In previous posts preceding the elections, I’ve talked about the need to educate fellow voters and to go out and exercise democratic rights. Well, guess what? that time has finally come. It used to be months away, but elections are now less than a week away. And needless to say, the political landscape is at its messiest.

Social media has become a toxic place filled with accusations of professional news networks showing visible bias toward certain candidates, sloppily made ‘graphics’ about audacious allegations, and endless threads of disappointed individuals voicing out their extreme pessimism about the election race as a whole. People have actually ended friendships and had fights over their beliefs and become more opinionated than they have ever been online.

I’m at that point where I’m nothing but sick of what I see on the internet, as it seems like the elections has turned a lot of people into the worst versions of themselves all in the quest of expressing an extreme level of support for their chosen candidate. Is it really THAT hard to accept dissenting opinions? Must we really resort to belittling those whose thoughts are contrary to ours?

I have to admit that I’ve developed a deeper connection with this particular election because it will be my first one as a registered voter, and needless to say the bullshit has not helped my decision at all. Let this serve as an introductory entry to a series of posts meant to assess and opinionate on how this race has gone so far. From COMELEC hos and woes to candidate centric issue posts, join me (as I have time hahaha) to get talking.

Assessments, Conversations and Conclusions: A Substantial Slice of A Not-So Good Life

Just when I thought I had grown horribly sick of keyboards and computer screens (no thanks to you, thesis)– here I am, typing as feverishly as I can before the past few nights decide to catch up with me.

Why am I writing, you may ask?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past few weeks, is that the longer you keep your thoughts to yourself, the greater the chance you might just forget what you want to say. (#random)

Anyways, let’s get to talking!

A. Assessing the APEC

For some, it was a chance to relax– to forget the stress of life for just a few days. For others (like myself), it became an opportunity to catch up on work– and to endure late nights despite the lack of school.

Thankfully the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) went on without a hitch, and this good old country of ours was spared another opportunity for infamy on the world stage (#RememberHongKongHostageTaking). Yet despite this, the occasion had its share of moments that weren’t particularly fabulous.

The Logistics of Hell, aka: Should’ve Been a Holiday

Early road closures that preceded the arrival of economic leaders caused a multitude of traffic problems. This led to commuter walks that soon resembled rallies in themselves. But they weren’t exactly rallies, but a collected group of inconvenienced members of the work force. Quite the unfortunate sight. ūüė¶

Roads may have looked squeaky clean to guests like the Australian PM, but it was what was hidden from our distinguished guest that told the real story.

Verdict: My section header says it all– it should’ve been a holiday. Yes, the VIPs hadn’t arrived yet but considering the number of main roads that had been blocked off in preparation perhaps it would have been better not to inconvenience thousands of weary employees.

On the other hand, it would probably have been much worse for the local economy had businesses just stopped running for a whole week (in ironic commemoration) of an event meant to result in positive economic outcomes for the country.

Coverage Concerns
Verdict: I wasn’t too satisfied with the APEC coverage of local news outlets. It didn’t exude the same vibe of organization that I noticed in the Pope Francis encounter early this year– which was replete with organized schedules, repeated highlights and full event footage.

But then again, the meat of the APEC discussions occur during closed door meetings– which are unfortunately not open to the public. BOOOO!

You know it had to come up…. #APEChottie

Buzzfeed now thinks we’re thirsty (in the non-physiological sense), Mexicans are disappointed in us and the world probably isn’t surprised. The Philippines had its eye on the agenda for the APEC meetings, but Filipinos had their eyes on newly minted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Verdict: I have to admit I was horribly guilty of this (as was a few other people on my feed), but to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, I did my research.

Thanks to a few articles and a very interesting video source from a friend, here are a few things that you might need to know before you keep on gushing:

  • Justin Trudeau has been prime minister of Canada for less than a month. He was sworn into office on November 4, 2015.
  • This could explain why he didn’t quite have enough things to trumpet during one of his first international diplomatic activities (i.e. the cabinet equality thing has been repeated multiple time).
  • In the Philippine context: kudos to veteran reporter Tina Monzon Palma for bringing the Canada trash issue to light in the wake of Trudeumania. If you watch the press briefing wherein Trudeau provides an answer to Palma’s concern– you’ll notice that he gives a¬† relatively diplomatic answer that is horribly vague.
  • To conclude– we’ve yet to see what this young man can do, and, in the spirit of “APEC Cooperation”– let’s hope for the best.
  • Enrique Pena Nieto has been in office for three years (having been sworn in in 2012).
  • The president’s first wife (with whom he had three children)– died of a supposed epileptic episode in 2007. His second wife, telenovela star Angelica Rivera was criticized by Mexican press for spending an ostentatious amount of money on a house that she had bought.
  • Rivera was instrumental in the success of Pena Nieto’s presidential campaign and was even compared by some media outlets to former French first lady Carla Bruni.

 

Points of Planning Related Concern aka the Postscript

  • On Kris Aquino and Sunburn: My dear presidential sister– who told you to wear a floor length, backless Filipiniana on a hot afternoon stroll along Intramuros? Perhaps you should be thankful Michelle Obama didn’t make the trip or she could’ve shown you how to dress carefully, yet appropriately. The commuters and motorists of Metro Manila are NOT happy with you.
  • Sharing Significance: there seemed to be a lack of hype behind APEC outside the business sector. Perhaps a media campaign that made the everyday Filipino aware of the significance and purpose of the conference could have provided them with a much better understanding of the reasons behind debilitating road closures and week long holidays.
  • A personal realization– the economic leaders meeting felt littered with buzzwords like ‘inclusive growth’ and ‘free trade’ that seemed almost idealistic. We heard of partnerships and bilateral meetings between nations– promises and reaffirmations… but what do these even translate to in the long run? Any Econ or Political Science major care to enlighten me on how conferences like the APEC translate into realistic cross- country cooperative efforts?
  • To future leaders on future conferences– please, just don’t hold them in Manila. Cebu, perhaps?

B. Paris, Prayer and Peace: Thoughts

I feel like¬† by this time it’s been said way too much– but what happened in Paris was an obvious tragedy. It’s a horrible thing to inflict on a nation barely in recovery from an attack on a satirical newspaper just ten months earlier. There is only so much I can say about terrorism and how wrong it is to take life that’s not already been said before. Instead, I’d like to share my thoughts on particular subtopics of interest that have emerged in the wake of the Paris tragedy.

On Profile Photos and Prayer: Several people opted to filter their profile photos with the French flag in solidarity with the nation. Hashtags like #PrayforParis littered social media sites– some used holiday photos and fond memories of the city to share their compassion with those in mourning.

There were those who criticized these individuals– and others who didn’t do so, but shared their thoughts behind the lack of concrete action that they saw on social media. To them, profile photos just didn’t really mean much. Others criticized users of the PrayforParis hashtag, bringing to their attention other tragedies like the ones in Beirut and Egypt that didn’t receive as much media attention.

Verdict: First of all, when has prayer ever become quantitative? Just because someone shares the message of praying for one area doesn’t mean that the other areas are not being remembered by other people. It sure doesn’t mean that just because we don’t pray for a certain place, God just forgets about that area altogether and focuses all his time and attention on Paris.

Last¬† I recall God isn’t CNN or FOX, he’s supposed to be a figure of¬† eternal love that’s there to offer comfort in¬† times of dire tragedy. Or has religion just gotten screwed up alongside everything else in the world?

On those profile photos –> I have to agree that there were (and are) people who probably used that filter because they saw other people using it on their profile photos.

Yet bandwagon followers aside, there is something significant in the idea behind the profile photo change. Social media is the most narcissistic place in the world. It’s an environment rife with individuals presenting themselves in a multitude of ways in an effort to stand out. Yet the filter (usage motives aside), projects an image of solidarity, of a certain sameness behind a pool of diversity. It’s a move that symbolizes a shared feeling of empathy with a wounded nation.

Instead of treating the ignorance of some with a defeatist point of view, why not treat it as the first step toward enlightening people? Of making them aware that it is not only France that is wounded by the tragedy of terrorism– and that there are nations who suffer through bombings and shootings on a regular basis and can barely live normal lives?

Make them aware and teach them to empathize  with more individualsРand, if successful, move to the concept of concrete action. Help them find ways to impact the lives of those they read about or see in the news every single day. You never know what might happen.

 

 

 

 

On Cooking Television: Insights, Retrospection and the Now

A few weeks ago, I came across an article on Slate that chronicled how the Food Network had changed for the worse: all thanks to one platinum blonde beach boy by the name of Guy Fierri. I won’t lie, a number of those points very much resonated with how I felt about the changes that had emerged during my own hiatus from Bobby Flay and company.

But I’m not here to answer to that article. Instead, I’d like to share my own insights about the Food Network: from growing up with it to my personal sentiments about the changes that both the Food Network and cooking television are going through as a whole.

A Foodie Since Forever 

Before the latter years of my life led to a desire for a job in the world of journalism, I grew up wanting to be one thing and one thing alone: a chef. Having grown up right above a thriving food business, food was to me more than just a source of physical sustenance.

I remember growing up with fake tomatoes and plastic eggs and a stove wherein I would pretend to cook something I had seen on TV. I remember making cakes of out clay and putting them in holes I would call ‘microwaves’. Sometimes, I would pretend to cook and talk to some invisible camera, instructing it as though I were a professional.

These moments would never have been possible had it not been for the Food Network. Yes, I watched cartoons like any other kid, but my childhood had a special place for this channel. My favorites back then were shows like Hot off the Grill, and East meets West (whatever happened to Ming Tsai?). I remember watching Mario Battalli cook a divine plate of pasta in his angelic kitchen and Jacques Torres create some of the most beautiful chocolate I had ever seen. There was also Alton Brown, whose quirkiness used to be so amusing to me as a child.

Back then, the concept of the cooking competition was but an idea. Back then, the only chefs you did see on TV were those that actually cooked for a living. It was an idyllic period, but a period I feel extremely lucky to have seen.

The Hiatus 

The period I describe as a hiatus from the Food Network was, if I remember right, one that was a ‘cable issue’. For a number of years, I lived without this channel and life went on, normally.

A Changed Channel

When I finally got back to watching the Food Network almost ten years later, a lot had indeed changed. From shows that featured a number of oddball hosts, to an obvious lack of a number of my favorite craft shows (Carol Duvall, I miss you!), the Food Network had grown up.

‘Anyone Can Cook’: The Emergence of Cooking Competitions

One of the major changes involved the emergence of the ‘cooking competition’, wherein amateur chefs cooked and chopped their way to kitchen supremacy. Popular examples include Iron Chef, Masterchef and Top Chef (which actually do not air on the Food Network). Personally, I have nothing against these shows. After all, they do manage to do an incredible job of humanizing the art of cooking, bringing to life the proposition that ‘anyone can cook’.

The real problem lies in how shows like these have taken over the cooking television landscape, turning cooking  into just another aspect of reality television.

Relatable Hosts vs World Class Cooking 

I am all for seeing pseudo amateur cooks or culinary school graduates (Guy Fierri is one, btw) become hosts of their own show, but I deeply miss seeing longtime professionals bring world class cooking to homes everywhere.

A large part of me believes that both of these entities could have coexisted: humanizing cooking television and seeing cooking professionals on television. I guess not everyone agrees.

On Guy Fierri

The Slate article I read politely lambasts Fierri’s annoyingly ubiquitous presence on the Food Network’s schedule. That, I agree with immensely. Could they not have found someone else to host the seven or so shows Fierri helms, or is it because he’s the biggest seller when it comes to cookbooks? You tell me.

On the other hand, it seems rather unfair to solely blame Fierri for what the network has become. It also seems unfair to discredit Fierri’s capabilities, as it seems it is his personality that’s really in question here.

Perhaps Bobby Flay, Giada di Laurentis and Alton Brown should do a much better job of searching for a tolerable, yet talented Food Network star.

Changes Changes Changes 

Looking back on it now, I’ve come to realize that the Food Network changed for an obvious reason: the times. In the years that followed, cooking television wasn’t limited to the Food Network anymore… other channels followed with shows of their own. You would think that a name like ‘Food Network’ would give them sole reign of the cooking television market, but you would be wrong.

The emergence of modern technology has pretty much made the TV obsolete. The modern day viewer is not limited to watching a twenty minute show for a good recipe of marinara pasta anymore… instead, he/she can opt to find the recipe (and an even shorter video) online.

Let’s be honest: in a day and age where attention span is but a thing of the past, watching someone cook something in their kitchen is not enough. It’s bland. It’s boring. Thus, cooking competitions are at their height. The Food Network has cashed in on that as well with shows like Chopped, the Next Iron Chef, the Next Food Network Star and Cutthroat Kitchen. They had to find answers to make the kitchen an interesting place, and they did.

But for viewers like me, they lost something in exchange. And, if you’ve been reading the previous paragraphs, I think you’ll know what I mean.

Cinders, Gowns and Glass Slippers: A Review of “Cinderella”

Because Cinderella is a story as iconic and ubiquitous as “Romeo and Juliet” (read: it’s spawned a number of onscreen reincarnations both good and bad), I have decided to frame this review beyond the context of the film itself, and instead delve deeper into the movie’s contribution to what some would call, the Cinderella ‘lore’.

Tolerant, Kind, or just plain Pushover: A Question of Quality

The traditional Disney depiction of our favorite cinder girl was meant to teach wannabe ‘princesses’ the lessons of kindness and tolerance (I don’t remember bravery coming up– do you?). Growing up, we saw a good girl– one whose ‘kindness’ led her into pretty much becoming slave to her abusive stepmother and stepsisters. The animated classic leads us to believe that if we’re good and kind enough, we might just get out of whatever it is we’re going through (read: endless abuse) and in the process, find the nameless ‘man of our dreams’.

In times like these where women are slowly becoming more independent and aware of concepts like equality and feminism, Cinderella is not an ideal role model. She hardly stands up for herself and only seems to react emotionally whenever faced with conflict. Her tolerance of what we now know as ‘abuse’ and ‘slavery’ would make modern women of today cringe in disgust.

Although other reincarnations of Cinderella have done well to erase what we could call her ‘pushover’ quality, Disney’s live action depiction doesn’t exactly have the option of taking that out entirely. They were, after all, the ones who made her that way in the first place. What they offer in place of this in context: they show us that Cinderella isn’t as shallow as we think. Her kindness has a cause, and she chooses to be this way for the sake of her late parents. We’re also given a bit of a background into her early life, something that the animated version almost completely glosses over. (P.S. Watch for a nod to the Grimm version of Cinderella !).

Instead of painting this iconic character in a negative light, we’re meant to feel a bit of pity for Cinderella, and as the story goes along, we slowly come to root for her.

Tremaine, Trevaine: A B*tch by No Other Name 

Again, another character lacking in reasonable context. Growing up, I only remember Lady Tremaine as ‘the woman with two daughters’ who messed Cinderella’s life up big time. American cinema has turned her into everyone from a silicone infused LA girl in Jennifer Coolidge to a washed up pop star in Jane Lynch.

Thankfully, this depiction brings Lady Tremaine back to her roots, portraying her as a woman whose bitterness possibly stems from losing two husbands in two successive marriages. Oscar winner Cate Blanchett brings it in this role, possibly taking some cues from her days as Queen Elizabeth and Jasmine Francis in order to bring out both the best (and the worst) of Tremaine as needed. This is what makes her a much more multidimensional character, and not just a greedy, abusive widow to two very oddball children.

Where’s the Music?¬†

I am both thankful and pissed at Disney for completely taking out the musical aspect of Cinderella. But I was expecting at least a small nod to some of the animated classic’s better tunes, particularly “A Dream is a Wish..”.

Squeaks? Weak!

Another aspect that leaves me ambivalent is the absence of speaking mice! Remember how in the original film Gus Gus and Jacq Jacq actually provided most of the comic relief? This was not exactly absent in the film, but appropriately tamed down because it is ‘live action’ after all.

Perhaps they could find no way to make it seem ‘un-corny’ if the mice were actually talking. Never fear, Cinderella ‘live’ has its small bits of comedy sprinkled about the movie.

Hello, Handsome: On the Prince to Rival Princes!

I apologize in advance if some bias may trickle out during the construction of these paragraphs. I would love to say it’s highly preventable, but I won’t lie that it won’t be impossible, either.¬†

If there’s one character who lacks in context more than any others in the Cinderella anthology, it’s good old Prince Charming (who apparently has a name! I was getting tired of all those plays on the word ‘charming’).

The live action film bestows our nameless monarch-to-be with an actual first name: Kit! (Like Kit Harington! Talk about ironic considering that Kit is played by Harington’s former co-star Richard Madden).

If Cinderella gets some screen time with her mom, Kit gets time with his dad, and it is here that the film makes way for a theme that gives us reason to believe both Kit and Cindy are actually quite perfect for each other. It also provides even more back story (let’s be honest, the back stories were most likely put in to lengthen the film, more on them later) as to why Kit’s dad wants him to marry royalty. He does give in at the end, though (remember, this is gonna have a happy ending, people! Read: HAPPY. ENDING.).

Baby come Back Back Baaaack

As mentioned quite suddenly in the previous paragraph, I personally believe that the back stories were put in in order to lengthen the movie’s screen time. Had the live action film simply been a 4D depiction of the animated classic, we wouldn’t be having so much to say about the good and bad points of Cindy Live.

The real debate now lies in whether those back stories and purposely lengthened flashbacks were a.) realistic or b.) did the Cinderella anthology any good. Here’s a quick rundown of those additions:

1. Pre-Tremaine Days + Happy Childhood + Pre-Attic Life

Adequate and appropriate, especially with the addition of Cindy’s mom.

Meant to make the viewer sad, as the obvious contrasts become visible as Cindy’s life gets worse.

Watch for a reference to the Grimm version of Cinderella!

2. Kit + Daddy Angle, Pre-Ball Scenes in the Palace

Mirrors Cinderella’s parental relationships quite nicely.

Also a little too abrupt to seem realistic.

Adds a sad angle to a seemingly happy story (you’ll know why when you watch).

Does a good job of humanizing the Prince.

Watch for another Game of Thrones reference! (clue: familiar actor plays a role here).

3. Bad Grand Duke??

I’d like to know where this came from… SERIOUSLY.

Wasn’t played up quite enough for it to be something new.

The Grand Duke just became another character who ended up lacking in even more context! Too bad.

OVERALL: ¬†¬†I was looking for humanity in these characters, and I got it. Also contexts were questionable at times, they provided enough of a background in order to create some level of believability to the Cindy tale. Cate Blanchett didn’t steal the show as well as she could have, but she shone just like Lily James. Richard Madden breathed some much-needed life into the Disney repertoire’s most shallow prince, and for that alone, he should be proud.

You’re doing good in the director’s seat, Gilderoy Lockhart! Keep to it! ūüėČ

A Slices of Life Special: Snippets

Before writing this entry, I made sure to equip myself with as much information as I could about the events that occurred on the 25th. Hopefully, now that I am at the very least a bit more knowledgeable about everything, the opinion I provide in this piece will be an informed opinion, and not one wrought of collectivist tendencies. 

Needless to say, what happened was a tragedy.

What could have been a successful mission ended up as a botched disaster, and men that should’ve come home triumphant, instead came home dead. ¬†I am one with the families of the 44 men who were killed in Maguindanao, and the families of the civilians who were caught in the middle of the crossfire. I hope that every single government entity that promised you help today will fulfill their promises and keep their word to you. I know it isn’t every day that that happens, but if these people really have a heart, dear families, perhaps they will. I’ll keep you all in my prayers and memories.

A  PR Disaster

PR students of the future will look back at P-Noy’s mistake as a prime case study for what not to do in the face of tragedy. I’m sure I won’t be the first to say that he SHOULD HAVE CANCELLED THAT EVENT. The Mitsubishi people would have understood, Mr. President. I sure hope this wasn’t a case of avoidance, because if it was, then perhaps we should thank you for showing off another of your many weaknesses: avoiding conflict. Let’s take note of this, dear readers.

[I have yet to hear his full speech at Camp Bagong Diwa, so I cannot make an informed assessment.]

On the Leah Navarro tweet/s

For those unaware:http://entertainment.inquirer.net/161879/grace-lee-aquinos-presence-during-arrival-rites-would-have-been-valuable

REACTION:

With all due respect, Madam Navarro, don’t you think it rather unfair to think that the presence of common citizens should be likened to the presence of the President at those arrival rights? Did he not say during his campaign days (and even during his presidency), that “kayo ang boss ko.”. Don’t you think it would have been an appropriate form of service on his part to at least welcome the remains of these fallen soldiers? He is, after all, the head of state, is he not? Don’t you think that it’s a part of his responsibility as president?

Please know, M’am, that common citizens are one with those grieving. I’m sure you watch news, and I’m supposing you saw those clips of prayer rallies at Tomas Morato, or the vigil at Ateneo, or the news story about the sympathy walk? We are one with them. We want justice for them.

But P-Noy was elected by these citizens, and by those families to lead us, and that role requires responsibilities that citizens are not charged to fulfill. Perhaps you should take that into account. Pleasant evening.

A Hiatus By No Other Name

I have written several times before about the reasons behind my need to step away from the blogosphere. As such, I see no need for further explanation to this absence, save for my need to answer the call of real life. But, for a brief, bitsy moment, thanks mainly in part to the magic of this WordPress android app, I have made my return.