blog 2nd subtitle caption

- earnest, meaningful and slightly sarcastic -

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Movie Report: Mockingjay

  It's refreshing to be in a movie theatre after all these years. Yes, that's right, I haven't watched a movie in a movie theatre in years. I haven't even watched a new movie from start to finish in a long time either. The last new movie I watched was on business class mid-haul Singapore Airlines (ahhh). It was a Star Trek movie. Not bad. But that's for another entry.

  My company was a sponsor for a local premier night, thus free tickets. The local premier night was was interesting in itself. A new events company organized it; I had always assumed organizers were either the movie theatre chain or the local distributor of the movie. I'm interested in the business of it, especially since anomalously, this premier night was not actually premier at all. The movie was released the day before, November 20. Anyway, other sponsors besides the company I work for gave out samples including a coupon from a food ordering website which I might actually use; another coupon for studio photography (I wonder how business is); a bar of Cadbury chocolate, unfortunately regionally produced in Malaysia I think. It was crap like all other licensed made in Malaysia chocolate. It was soft, waxy, chewy, not snappy, not glossy, but I still ate it after being proud of my restraint and  eating only around half of the popcorn. There were raffles with prizes from other sponsors. My ticket almost won a prize from a spa. Too bad; it was only 5 numbers up from the winning ticket number.

Some of my co-workers fell asleep. Overworked and underpaid. Haha. Also getting old.

Oh, the movie itself wasn't bad at all, but wasn't so great. It started off with some corny jokes, kind of cheap shots that people in the theatre nonetheless lapped up. For someone who has a rudimentary understanding of the story, having never watched the first two movies let alone read the books, I was able to follow it and was interested and entertained. I was surprised to see Philip Seymour Hoffman, may the man and brilliant artist rest in peace, as well as Julianne Moore. To me, the presence of two actors hinted that this is a decent production and I should sit up and pay attention. It was also surprising to recognize actors like Anne Boleyn from The Tudors, lately of Game of Thrones. This just shows how out of the loop I am.  The actual story wasn't very interesting; in three parts they were convincing Katniss to be the Mockingjay; filming videos of Katniss and lastly; suddenly saving Peeta and the other Hunger Games players when the opportunity arose.

  The striking thing about this movie that I can't decide whether it makes the movie bad or good is that I spent the first half of the movie wondering why there was such a huge emphasis on filming propoganda, how Katniss has to wear a special costume, how she's bad on a filming set and has to be on the ground. Does this movie, YA and dystopian society stories in general reflect contemporary society? Is it supposed to be an oblique reference to our self-obsessed society of image, Kardashians,  selfies, Youtube videos and all that jazz? Is it genius or inadvertent mimicry?

  Additionally, the indirect conflict between Peeta and Katniss essentially fought through TV reminds me of petty middle school quarrels. Perfect immaculately white teacher's pet Peeta against underground righteous rebel Katniss. Is this supposed to be a reflection of that?

  District 13 was beautiful. I loved the set design especially the dining hall lights with its table lights. It created a beautiful atmosphere, almost contemporary modern. The old Everdeen house and the Capitol were also beautiful, in an English manor kind of way.

  Where the movie people decided to end this part was a good decision. It was enough to give finality to this segment but still be curious about what will happen next. I will be looking for a copy of the books and maybe even the first two movies, though I wouldn't recommend paying for the movie ;-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Words Banned from 2015

  Oh god, the year is winding down. I hate this time of year for multiple reasons. But trying to keep positive, this is the time of year that heavily features one of my favorite things: lists. Mostly Christmas gift guides, but also retrospective "The Best of..." lists are a favorite. Being a little naughty and cynical, I'm compiling my own version of "Worst words of 2014". But being proactive and forward looking, I'm doing the honors of banning them. :)

  Words Banned from 2015
1. bucket list
So rampant is this compound word, though I can't remember a single time I've heard the originating idiom used here in Manila. I fully believe that most people who use it in Manila do not know what bucket they're talking about, let alone why kicking this particular container has come to mean death.
It's a completely meaningless word in this context, you might as well use 0199480ia list.

Please let's revert back to "life goals"

2. peg
Same as above. One chooses words for clarity and accuracy. Do not strip a word of its original meaning and slap one on it. How can peg be a shorthand for inspiration or model when in this country we pin rather than peg pictures to cork boards to begin with? Unquestioning wholesale import of slang is an uncomfortable reminder of colonial mentality.

3. disrupt, also disruptive innovation & disruptive technology
Stop self-aggrandizing.

More to come once I think of them...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Word of the Day, Political Edition

  1. Irredentism
  2. Irredentism (from Italian irredento, "unredeemed") is any position of a state advocating annexation of territories administered by another state, or the independence of those territories, on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged.
  3. Irredentism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I can't remember what I was reading, but I bet it was about Russia's irredentism of Crimea.

Monday, October 27, 2014

How I want to die

 One of the things I learned during my time at university was how I wanted to die. It was the summer after my freshman year, I stayed in my college town and was living in a co-op house with 20+ other students. During the lull between the spring semester and the start of summer term, a professor died. I've read and heard about that professor before, he was a Big Name not just on campus but in national political scene. His family were political elite; the main airport in Washington D.C. is named after his father, grandfather or uncle. I can't remember. He also seemed to be quite a character. When smoking was finally banned on campus shockingly late sometime in the late 80s to early 90s, he moved his office to the privately-owned dormitory tower across the street from the humanities quad. He supposedly could be seen either riding a bicycle or a scooter from the off-campus dorm to his office. I never did catch him but I wondered if he rented a dorm room inside the residence portion of Dobie or a stall in the ground floor mini-mall and wondered at the idea that his smoke was gassing up a dormitory.

  Anyway, one of my 20+ housemates was signed up for his summer class and when news came out of the professor's death, we good-humoredly wondered what will happen to her class, although seriously, it was going to get canceled: it wasn't as if some other professor could have filled it in. In this particular class by this particular professor, you signed up for the professor and not the class. Anyway, he was really really old. Like 90+ years old. And he was still actively teaching. His students loved him. And he was still actively working to the very end. That was how I wanted to die.

  I want to die well into my 90s while still working doing work that I love. I don't ever want to retire. I want to do work that I love that I get better at as I age. I want to have that good health that everyone wishes for in order to not spend my last years slowly dying going in and out of the hospital.  New York Times Magazine's Old Masters at the Top of Their Game just reminded me of this goal. It's quite uplifting to see people in their 80s and 90s doing just that. I didn't realize that Senator Diane Feinstein was 81. I knew that Tony Bennett was old, but I always forget just how old: 88! Frank Gehry is 85 and international landmark architecture is a stressful business I reckon, but he still does it and even has a problem delegating! There was a mini theme running through each interview. They all feel the same as they did 30, 40, 50 years ago. And in a way, I can see that, or more accurately I can't differentiate them physically from someone in their 50s, 60s and 70s. And it's not as if I don't interact with elderly people, I do quite a bit for work, but the people in The Times Magazine just don't look and definitely do not act their age. And they are just continuing at the level of success someone in his/her 50s would do. They are permanently stuck in time in a way. Anyway, I'll stop it here for now. I've got to work on having that good health bit right now.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

So Damn Sleepy

I'm in front of my laptop because I need to stay awake but I'm really sleepy.

I need to stay awake because I need to get shit down but I can barely stay awake and do anything.

Anything that is to mindlessly browse the web.

So now I'm awake.

I'm neither asleep or getting shit done.

Which means when I go to work in a few hours, I'll be falling asleep everywhere and not get anything done.

Oh shit.

It's a cruel cruel cycle.

No, it's not. Just muster up all the energy that I've spent in the past 4 hours staying awake into a burst of energy of just 30 minutes.

Will to power.

I don't know anything about Nietschze.

Except that.

But including spelling his name.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Busy at Work

Even when I'm able to carve a half an hour from work, my mind is still shell-shocked from stress that I can't think of anything I want to blog about. It's as if the gears of my brain were cranking on overtime, then a wrench was thrown in and caused springs and cogs to pop out. 

But the good thing is that I'm back reading. I used to be so stressed that I couldn't focus on what I was reading. Now I need something to cancel out the noise of stress, but I do not yet have the energy to do something as active as writing a coherent blog post. I'm reading Brideshead Revisted. I don't understand what the fuss is about. Well a little. But I don't understand why it's so popular. I sympathize with the characters and their motives, but how did this become so iconically British?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Music's latent influence on me

  I've realized that music is quite the propeller of consumer technology. Through the years, because of music people have all kinds of technology in their homes: vinyl records and record players, cassette tapes, CDs, iPods and MP3 players, and one main function of a smartphone and its data connection is to stream music. And that's just in the last 30ish years. Going further back in time, and adding the technology from musical instruments the list grows much longer. Growing up in a music and technology indifferent home (ie mother), I feel doubly missed out.

  My first memory of music was music playing during car rides to school. Usually my mother would have the news on, which was beneficial for my smartypants reputation. To this day, I still get surprised when I am in someone's car and s/he plays and FM station. I feel like this is so silly, like I'm in a movie about American teenagers with James Dean complexes.

  My mother didn't always turn to radio news. Eery Christmas, she'd play her tapes of Christmas-themed music. Some were actual liturgical music, but the one that stood out was the Carpenters Christmas Album. I still remember the cover: plain white background and a cartoon drawing of some people in red sleeping caps. The cartoon style reminds me of Dilbert: same squiggly lines, but more human-like illustration. Like as if you had a caricature portrait done. But in an old-timey style.  Let me find a picture of it. Anyway, the music wasn't really that great. For Christmas music, it was pretty weepy and sad. It felt as if the singer had the Judy Garland treatment--drugs to wake you up, drugs to put you to sleep--and was shaken out of bed and forced to sing half asleep. What made it all the more memorable for the wrong reason was that my mom told me that Karen Carpenter, the singer with the sad voice, killed herself. She wrote her suicide note on a mirror with lipstick: "Nobody loves me." Merry Christmas indeed.

Oh oops, my memory conflated the elements of the picture. Taken from

(to be continued)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Word of the Day: Priapic

adjectiveof, relating to, or resembling a phallus.
"priapic carvings"
of or relating to male sexuality and sexual activity.
"priapic cartoons"
MEDICINE(of a male) having a persistently erect penis.
For example:
A friend posted "the most brilliant company logo" in her opinion and it was a priapic chicken for Dirty Bird fried chicken. The logo features small d and b with an arch over the vertical elements (the priapic part) and on the arch a beak and cockscomb (the chicken part). (Go search it if you care.)

I've had this listed down for Word of the Day for such a long time I don't recall where I first got this word. It's a useful word to have; I like sounding intellectual when I have to insult someone--actually, is "prick" a contractions of priapic? Hm.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The inaugural 20 minute blog.

  This is the inaugural 20 minute blog. In 20 minutes, I will type up all the words in a blog post. I may tinker and ponder with the idea in my head beforehand, and I will allow myself to take a few more minutes importing pictures--because we all know that a (non-technical) blog is unreadable without pictures.

 I have a tendency to shut down when things don't go right. Or don't go my way. Or don't go perfectly the way I had hazzily daydreamed. Including writing blog posts. I fantasize myself being witty yet wise and full of keen observations and insightful comments. Of course putting pen to paper sharpens the fuzzy daydreams into focus and I see that they're just fog.

  Well I suppose they don't have to be just fog if I just stop editing and censoring and muzzling myself into oblivion. Instead what I have to say, even little whims and fancies, becomes an itch I can't scratch that drives me crazy. An itch is just a sensation but its presence feels real.

 Oops, my twenty minutes have been up for a long long time. Basically, I want to post more be they inchoate and incoherent entries.

  And now I leave you with pictures that were distracting me from this entry: J. Crew & Clarks
Gray Grey Gray: I used to have a blog called Everything is Gray. Obviously before that book we shall not mention came out.
Clarks Hamble Oak: They don't look as stumpy as this in real life
I think I'm buying the shoes depending on how they fit tomorrow. I'm figuring out with what to match them without my sexual orientation being questioned by busybodies.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The New York Times Weddings & Celebrations Section

  Once upon a time, I read the weddings and celebrations section of the New York Times religiously every Sunday. Together with Post Secret, it was my Sunday ritual. Sometimes I would wake up earlier than that Sunday's edition, but that mostly happened with Post Secret. Although I more likely  stayed up all Saturday night through Sunday morning but Post Secret had still to be updated when I checked at 2am. 

  I don't read either anymore, though from time to time I check to see if there are good ones. My old criteria for a good weddings and celebrations announcement was type-A, blue-blooded pedigrees: Ivy League degrees; reception at the Pierre or similarly luxurious venue; parents with prestigious titles; and jobs at white shoe law firms or Wall Street investment banks. I remember looking for  "perfect people" among those strangers. Once I identified a bride-to-be. She had an unusual surname, the same as my professor and she did turn out to be my professor's daughter.

  Nowadays I look for a nice touching story. You know, realistic (they are getting married after all) but still romantic. I prefer a couple other than the main featured couple, with the announcement on the longer side but without a picture of the couple. So I can mentally assign them my own imaginary faces. This could be an embarrassing to reveal, but since Sex and the City confirmed this single woman reading the weddings section of the New York Times as a legitimate phenomenon, not really! I'm not alone in this.

  This announcement isn't romantic since it doesn't include the "how we met" story, but it has a subtle Cinderella angle to it which makes it more intriguing to imagine about. The relevant parts are italicized and underlined:

Megan Elizabeth Horn and Kamal Essaheb were married Saturday at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York in Manhattan. Imam Chernor S. Jalloh performed a Muslim ceremony.
Mrs. Essaheb, 34, is a staff lawyer and policy analyst in Washington for Farmworker Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group. She graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and received a law degree from Fordham.
She is a daughter of Eve W. Stoddard of Canton, N.Y., and W. Dennis Horn of Potsdam, N.Y. The bride’s father is a professor of technical communications at Clarkson University in Potsdam. Her mother is a professor of global studies at St. Lawrence University in Canton.
Mr. Essaheb, 32, is a policy lawyer at the National Immigration Law Center in Washington. He graduated from Queens College, and received a law degree from Fordham.
He is a son of Fatna Essaheb and Bouchaib Essaheb of East Elmhurst, Queens. The groom’s father is a Queens-based livery cabdriver.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


  For two weeks, I was doing so well with blogging . And it's not like I don't have anything to say, it's just that I I get overwhelmed by all the thoughts swirling in my head that I shut down. Which just makes me even more overwhelmed.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


For a few weeks, this was breakfast. We had a 2.5 kg bag of so-so (sour) frozen strawberries that were not fit to eat by themselves so I added them to my instant oatmeal. It seemed like a lot of trouble to chop up four frozen strawberries, wash a knife and a cutting board every morning, especially when all I was eating was instant oatmeal, but I did it anyway for those few weeks. And those few weeks were good. The strawberries are gone now and I reused the bag to line the small kitchen trash bin.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


   I was taken over by an impulse to capture the glorious rain, that cools and cleanses the air.  It was a welcome interruption from the heat and humidity and I wanted to save its sight, sound and perhaps though not successfully its smell.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Feng Shui

My bed against the window. The orange thing is just ribbon from gift wrapping that I don't want to throw but don't know what to do with.

     I switched my bed's and my table's positions. Now the table is against the corner and this bed is beside it. It's no big deal, but some things just feel right. As I'm growing up, I'm learning to use feeling as part of good judgment, and the importance of making myself feel comfortable in my skin.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


  The best thing about my mother's house is the view from the window. It isn't that nice: opposite the house is an old movie studio that now is occupied by a colony of rough built houses. In between the old movie studio and my mother's house is a small creek. It's officially "biologically-dead" (and visually so) but it still attracts a variety of creatures including birds. I hope you can hear their calls. The bougainvillea hasn't been trimmed in months but it looks wild and romantic don't you think?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Note on Music: Flaws by Bastille

1. Dan Smith's soaring voice
2. Classical string section
3. Clapping for percussion
4. The soft powder pink filter of the video
5. The time signature, I can't identify it (supposedly it's 6/8) but 

And the lyrics. The lyrics... They're so meaningful. Every single line.

When all of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one

A wonderful part of the mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
They lie there hand in hand
Ones we've inherited, ones that we learned
They pass from man to man

There's a hole in my soul
I can't fill it I can't fill it
There's a hole in my soul
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up; let's finish what we've started
Dig them up, so nothing's left unturned

All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We'll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we'd be doomed

There's a hole in my soul
I can't fill it I can't fill it
There's a hole in my soul
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up; let's finish what we've started
Dig them up, so nothing's left unturned


When all of your flaws
And all of my flaws are counted
When all of your flaws
And all of my flaws are counted

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up. Let's finish what we've started
Dig them up. So nothing's left unturned


All of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
Look at the wonderful mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone

Monday, April 28, 2014

Step 1: We admit that we are powerless over our flakiness -- that our blogs had become unmanageable

  I was going to write my thoughts about the Bridget Jones novels, but I was drawing up blank and when the things get hard, I hide. So much for blogging regularly. I'll be back on Sunday (which was just yesterday, but obviously I mean this coming Sunday). - Drag me to the nearest caffeine pump to pull me from this spell of non-productivity, headaches and misery...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Things I'd like to do when Visiting a New (N. American) City

  I found the cheap spiral notebook that I used as a diary, to-do list, and general repository of scribbles to be forgotten. Uploading them online doesn't help much either because which app should I use? I have accounts with Spring It, Kippt, Wunderlist and Evernote and documents on computers and Dropbox that I don't know where things are. I used to think how my high school classmates would tediously keep color code their assignment notebooks frivolous and flippant but it turns out that it's a transferable life skill.

  Anyway, long story short, since people are travelling this week and summer travel is generally upon us, here's a list I made of things I'd like to do when visiting a new (N. American) city:

1. look for an (old-fashion) soda jerk
2. try local candy, cake or baked treats [I guess I meant local confection in general]
3. lingerie, sunglass and hat shopping
4. go on easy hike
5. fabric shopping
6. listen to music/performance
7. bookstore!
8. perfume shopping
9. local spirits/beer
10. gardens
11. "heritage" apparel [to look, less likely to buy]
12. cemeteries/graves
13. Top Chef restaurant
14. get a haircut
15. speciality stores: Marimekko; clogs; Moomin; Tintin, etc
16. buy local traditional crafts
17. fashion-forward boutiques
18. Goodwill
19. Antiques/flea market
20. historic residential neighborhood
21. specialty stationery store
22. artists/craftsmen's workshop

Over half are shopping related (11), but not all of it is typical clothes, shoes, accessories shopping, and four are food related.

New additions:

23. architecture tour
24. coffee tea cocoa
25. alternative sports/recreation
26. parks
27. fishing
28. antiquarian books
29. usual museums
30. unusual niche museums
31. try out different (historical or unique) modes of transportation
32. swim in public pool, skate in skate park, etc
33. shoe shopping
34. try out boutique fitness classes (nyc!)
35. roller coaster
36. buy wall maps preferably in specialty map store
37. walk, bike or hangout by the town's riverwalk
38. buy seeds of plants that are endemic or indigenous or specially cultivated in that area
39. tour the local university (hopefully it has a beautiful campus)
40. go to farm, orchard or garden and pick fruit

  I wonder if there's anything to add..?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Moomin Haulin

UNIQLO UT Moomin Women's Collection
My Moomin T-shirts
  I was supposed to buy one Moomin t-shirt, one Moomin tunic, and for my friend A one Snoopy t-shirt at Uniqlo, but ended up buying three Moomin t-shirts for myself. They were on sale and look, only one is gray.
UNIQLO UT Moomin Women's Collection
You can't see them, but the style of the sleeves is "French" aka slouchy shoulder, shorter than cap sleeves, not set-in and not raglan either. The sleeves and the torso are one piece of fabric.

Uniqlo UT Moomin Women's T-shirts and Moomin Diary

Moomin Diary cover with Moomintroll, Snorkmaiden, Little My, Snufkin and Stinky

Moomin Diary by Ellon HK

Moomin and Snorkmaiden on a Boat

  A bought me a present from Hong Kong. It's a Moomin diary. While she was there we messaged over Viber and said that she saw Moomin figurines in a character store. Mucho dinero. I wasn't expecting to receive a present so I'm very happy with it. Thank you A.

  On a side note, while at Uniqlo I asked the shop assistant to use my own reusable bag to pack my t-shirts which he did, but proceeded to put the pair of sunglasses that I bought along with the t-shirts in a plastic bag before putting it in my own bag. The three t-shirts and sunglasses fit in that bag.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shows I Have Loved

Currently running:
The Good Wife
The Americans

One Season Wonders:
Emily Owens MD
Jack & Bobby

Coming of Age Nostalgia:
Gilmore Girls
Veronica Mars

I like a lot of Greg Berlanti (aside from Jack & Bobby and Everwood, I liked Dirty Sexy Money and Brothers & Sisters,  though didn't really attentively follow). I generally like shows that aren't the hottest Neilsen #1 rated shows, like Glee and Mad Men nor the alternative cult TV shows like Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Homeland. That's not to say I don't like those shows, it's that they don't initially appeal to me thus since I don't have an introduction to them, I don't watch them. I like shows that are a little bit on the mellow side, though I have dabbled in serious intense thrillers by way of Prison Break season 1. Story telling and character development are mostly what I'm after.

Things I Like: Liberal Arts Edition pt 1

Religion; religion as culture; religion as group identity; Quakerism; Shakers; Shaker furniture; the Reformation; Art History; MoMA; Suprematist Composition: White on White.

More to come once I build up the mental stamina and after I do laundry and return from shopping.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Listening is Feeling

  Because I've never had my heart broken, I've never loved and lost, and only imagined love from novels and movies and celebrity gossip, I've always fantasized heartbreak and its exquisite romantic pain.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

If you metaphorically pierce my heart

it'll spurt a little blood but it and I am too tired to doing anything more.