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Winter is almost here again! (I mean Game of Thrones okay?)

Winter is almost here again! (I mean Game of Thrones okay?)

Anyone who knows me well enough (or who happens to glance at my Facebook or Twitter feed every once in a while) know that I am a huge Game of Thrones (TV show) and A Song of Ice and Fire (the book series) fan. The wait in between seasons (and between book 5 and 6) can be so long that I re-watch and re-read and go through fan sites and all, just to keep me busy, Westeros-wise. And while I may have issues with some liberties that the tv show has taken (I will never forgive them for how they treated the rape, which they said wasn’t rape, scene from last season), I would still devour every single episode, behind the scenes videos, and even Vine and IG clips from the stars and the show.

So when I was given the chance to attend an advanced screening of the first episode of Season 5, wild direwolves couldn’t drag me away. The event was even more special because we were among the first in the whole wide world to watch this episode. My officemates who were fans of the show as well, hated me the entire Wednesday (I hope that day only) when I told them I was one of the privileged few to be invited. Hurray HBO Asia!

Of course I will not spoil anything here (unless you message me and beg me to spoil you!) but here are the non-spoilery things I observed after my heart calmed down and the end credits rolled. Some of these things have already been remarked upon if you’ve read the previews of the season.

  • This episode features the first ever flashback in the entire TV series. And if you’ve read the books, you’d immediately recognize the scene. But it was cool to hear some people gasp during the transition from flashback to the “present” timeline
  • A fan favorite does not show up in this episode and some will probably complain about it
  • Fans of Daario Naharis/Michael Huisman will be pretty happy, if you know what I mean. Wink wink
  • If you’re expecting non-stop action, big twists and turns in the premiere, you might be disappointed. Instead, there is character development, great dialogues between some favorite characters, and over-all, a pretty quiet (by the show’s standards) but nonetheless meaningful and great build-up to the rest of the season.
  • Did someone die? If you know your Game of Thrones, you’d know the answer to that.
  • I can’t wait until we get to Dorne and meet the Sand Snakes!

I’m really happy that HBO Asia will be airing the season premiere and the rest of the episodes at the same time it airs in the US. So that means if you don’t have school or work on Monday, April 13, 9AM, then tune in to HBO and catch the start of what should be another great Game of Thrones season. There will be an encore telecast at 9PM the same day.

Oh, and for those asking, the Iron Throne will be going to a different venue (it was at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street until today) starting tomorrow until April 23. I’ll let you know where so you can have your own 5 (or 10) seconds, feeling like the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.

Game of Thrones will air every Monday on HBO at those times mentioned.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite viral GoT related clips from the past few days. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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If I could make a blog/website from scratch I would do this…

Having attended Blogopolis (thanks Chuckie!) today, my blogging heart and brain have been fully awakened with so many thoughts and ideas running through them. So I thought of making a wish list of blogs I want to do, if I had more time and if I don’t start procrastinating again.

These are dreams. Highly possible but “gosh-it-will-take-a-lot-of-work” type of dreams. But very doable. So hopefully soon.

1. Group food blog with friends
Since we eat out a lot and most of us take pictures (me not included) and since we love to eat and since some of us cook really well. But there should be one section that will feature my after-eating pictures since I only remember to take pics after all the food is gone.

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Green Pastures at Shang – the aftermath of my grilled cheese and tomato soup

2. Budget Travel blog
I’m tired of getting the “wow ang yaman” comment whenever people find out I’m going somewhere, especially outside the country. I am so far from rich, I just prioritize, have friends who are great researchers and organizers (Hi Ysabs and Cathz!) and I’ve eventually learned the tricks of traveling on a budget. Aside from sharing my past adventures, I also want this blog to show and help people travel as well.

At the Hong Kong Museum of Art – December 2014

3. Media literacy blog
Yes I have a pop culture blog (neglected, but existing) but writing about how to help people think more about the media they consume is another thing. The problem with us most of the time is that we just watch and listen and consume all kinds of media without really thinking about their sociological and ideological meaning, its effect on us and on other people, etc. I’d like to share what I teach at school and also what I’ve learned from preparing my lessons. But this will involve research and a lot of “deep thinking” and planning so, yeah. Just to be clear, I will not be imposing my thoughts and views, but rather how to help people start thinking and analyzing more.

4. Reading advocacy blog
This will be more than just a book blog. I have in mind research, articles, tips, interviews with experts and authors, book recommendations, etc. I do some of this for work already, but this will be a wider scope. Again, a lot of work and more planning as well.

5. Photo a day (with short poem/caption)
This would be to hone both my mobile photo and creative writing skills (both of which have been sorely neglected or maybe non-existent). This probably scared me the most, so I’d like to do it just to learn a new skill set and to conquer that fear.

Insert poem here

Other less thought out and less priority ideas
– football (but fan perspective)
– things I’ve learned from teaching
– creative news blog (news aggregator)
– short real stories (kind of like HONY but with people I actually know and seek out)

So yeah, let’s see which one of these will come to fruition in the next few months.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in On blogging

 

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Why I binge watched 6 episodes of Hindsight (and why you should too)

Why I binge watched 6 episodes of Hindsight (and why you should too)

When I first heard that VH1 was going to have its first scripted series, I was like, meh, not interested. When I heard it was going to be set in the 90s, it piqued my curiosity, but then I forgot all about it. I only remembered Hindsight when I saw this list of TV shows you should be watching (but probably aren’t) and so I decided to give it a try. After “acquiring” the six existing episodes, I forgot about it again, until Saturday night when I saw the files on my netbook and I decided to give it a try.

And I ended up watching all six episodes in one go and slept at 5AM. And then I got really frustrated when I found out episode 7 is still a few days away and that the show has not been renewed yet.

The show is about a woman, who on the eve of her 2nd marriage, is suddenly transported back in time (20 years before) to the day of her 1st marriage. No explanation is given on why/how she travels back to the 90s, but that isn’t what’s important here. It’s all about second chances, regrets, do-overs, love triangles, oh, and freaking awesome 90s pop culture.

Here are some of the reasons why I fell in love with the show. Maybe you will too!

1. A lead character I actually like (and maybe love)

When TV shows are built around one lead character, I oftentimes end up hating that character or liking the supporting ones better (see Dawson’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy, House, Scandal, etc). But Becca is someone who can theoretically be annoying, but is just such a joy to watch. From trying to decide between the two she loved/loves/will love, to always clumsily spoiling TV shows to her best friend (the only one who knows she traveled from the future), to trying to figure out what the heck to do with her life, she is always charming, funny, and very real. Oh, and also, very pretty!

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2. A love triangle that is really confusing

Usually, I passionately ship 2/3 of a love triangle, but this time around, it’s really difficult to choose who to root for. Should she go with the hot Australian painter whom she married in 1995 and eventually divorced, and who you think is one-dimensional but apparently is also deep and adorable? Or should she already start a relationship with the guy she’s supposed to be marrying in the present day, but who is also her childhood friend and is an awkward geek who is all sweet and cuteness (and is with someone else in 1995)? Oh your choices Becca, your choices.

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3. A hilarious best friend who is more than just a sidekick

The friendship between the more normal Becca and her free-spirited and hilarious best friend Lolly is truly one of the best things about this show. While they gab about boys of course, they can also pass the Bechdel test a lot of times. And also, apart from her connection to Becca, Lolly is also a fully realized character with her own issues and neuroses and storyline. And lastly, she’s cute and hilarious without being too precocious. Plus, there’s also a huge mystery surrounding why their friendship breaks up in the future, and I’m really dreading the reveal because these two are so great together.

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4. The people you thought you’d hate actually surprise you

I will not spoil your viewing pleasure by saying which characters I’m referring to, but what I can say is that there are no caricatures or outright villains in this series. Well, for now.

5. The 90s pop culture references

“What? Chandler ends up with Monica?” “What? Patrick Dempsey becomes hot?” “What? REM break up?” The “whats?” goes on and on. You’d think you’d get tired of it eventually, but of course not. 90s nostalgia will always be a part of me.

6. The 90s music

Of course since this is a VH1 series, you can expect it to have a killer soundtrack. Mazzy Star, Collective Soul, REM, Ace of Base, Spin Doctors, Lisa Loeb, etc. I probably have not stopped listening to 90s music since this Saturday, and it’s all Hindsight’s fault. Wikipedia has a listing of all the songs played in the episodes

Sadly, this series isn’t carried by any local channels (at least not that I know of), so “acquiring” it is the only way to go.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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Pop Culture Recommendations #1 (2015 Edition)

The Librarians

It’s not the most intelligent show, it’s not that well-scripted (although it has potential) and the acting is campy at best, but there’s something about a show about magic, artifacts, and adventure that just gets to me. If you’re one of twenty people who loved Warehouse 13, then you’ll love this one too. Basic premise is that Noah Wyle is “The Librarian” (it actually started as a series of made-for-tv movies) and his duty is to collect artifacts from around the world to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Hijinks and fantasy characters and (sometimes not so) witty one-liners ensue. It stars Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane (Angel, Leverage), Lindy Booth, John Kim (I crush Ezekiel Jones!), and John Laroquette. Favorite episode so far is the Christmas one where cult hero Bruce Campbell plays Santa Claus.

Libarians

A-Babies vs X-Babies #1
This actually came out back in 2012 but I recently re-read it and I still squeed and gushed over it like crazy. All you need to know is this: baby versions of the Avengers and the X-Men go to battle over a teddy bear (Bucky bear!). It will just take you 10 minutes (or less) to read it, but it will take you longer because you’ll just “aaawww” and “wheeee” so many times. You can buy the digital comic here for just $1.99.
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Brutal Romantic by Brooke Fraser
It’s hard to define the exact genre of her latest album because her music has evolved so much from her What To Do With Daylight. Suffice to say I still enjoy her music even though I probably won’t be able to sing along to her songs in this album, since it’s more atmospheric rather than melodic. But her words still get to me, particularly these lines from Brutal Romance (not to be confused with Bad Romance okay?)
“And I want to sing
Over you and into you
What can’t be unsung

Love and death, and death and love
Brutal romance
A silver thread, a sharpened knife
A spinning slow-dance”

Louisa Wendorff’s mash-up covers
I first came across her because Taylor Swift recommended her excellent mash-up of Style and Blank Space (she didn’t sing Starbucks lovers!). I got curious about her so I explored her YouTube channel and discovered her other excellent covers. Her voice is haunting and the camera just caresses her face. Hope she uploads more videos soon!
TV Show Tracker 3
Y’all know that I watch and follow a gazillion TV shows. I’ve been looking for a simple app that can help me track all these shows and remind me when they’re already available to “acquire”. Finally found this app (iOS only, sorry) that is simple and efficient. I also love that it can adjust to our time zone so that I don’t get confused (which is fairly often) with the time difference. It also lets me check which episodes I’ve missed or haven’t watched.
Things I haven’t watched or read or listened to yet but I plan to this week
  • watch English Only Please
  • check out new show Galavant, a fairy-tale musical comedy
  • read Philip Yancey’s Vanishing Grace (shameless plugging!)
  • read My True Love Gave To Me (yes Christmas is over but I saw Mina Esguerra post about it, so voila, book envy)
  • read Naermyth by Karen Francisco, which Stef recommended and lent to me
 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Pop Culture Recommendations

 

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Schools and Parents: Please teach kids to be better commuters

Things I wish (and hope) parents and schools would teach children so somedy they will be better commuters

(Honestly, I really don’t know whose fault it is why there are a lot of inconsiderate and horrible commuters in Metro Manila)

 

1. Keep right when walking up the stairs or riding escalators or just walking on the road. And maybe explain why we have to do that.

 

 

2. Follow the arrows painted on the MRT/LRT platform. They are not there for decoration.

 

 

3. Let people get out of the train first before rushing in. Same applies for elevators.

from graceaddict.wordpress.com

 

4. If there’s enough space to breathe or move (which rarely happens), respect other people’s personal space. Unless close talaga kayo.

from drvaleriegalante.files.wordpress.com/

 

5.  Don’t lean or embrace the poles. They’re there not just as part of the train’s physical structure, but also so verticallly-challenged people who can’t reach the hand rails have something to hold on to.

Huwag tularan ang mamang ito (pero tularan niyo yung Mama ko, ang ganda niya eh)

 

6. Kung malayo pa ang bababaan mo pag sakay mo ng jeep, okay lang maupo ng malapit sa driver. Di naman siya nangangagat. Sana.

 

7. Same applies kung marami kang dala na ipapatong mo sa gitna ng jeep at makakaabala sa mga sasakay.

 

8. Kung may makikiabot ng pamasahe, iabot mo na kaht di ka naman sinuswelduhan ng driver na maging assistant niya. Pag yung nakikiabot ng bayad ay di nagsabi ng “paki” or “please”, mag thank you ka sa kanya para maguilty naman.

(from chickensopas.blogspot.com)

 

9. Kung ikaw naman ang magpapaabot ng pamasahe, mag thank you ka sa nag abot. Pag walang gustong mag-abot, tumayo ka at lumapit sa driver (tapos pag nag preno bigla, upuan mo yung ayaw mag abot ng pamasahe mo. joke lang)

 

10. Mag deodorant bago umalis ng bahay lalo na kung alam mong makikipagsiksikan ka sa MRT, LRT, bus, jeep, etc. In fact, kahit hindi, mag deodorant ka pa rin.

from pinoyexchange.com

 

 

Anything you’d like to add to this class called Commuting Ethics 101?

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in This city

 

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5 Things I Want My Students to Remember After This Term (aside from academic stuff of course)

I always promised myself before that I would write a blog post at the end of every term, but in the 3 years that I’ve been teaching, I may have done it just once. And hurrah, now is the second time!

This time around, instead of just talking about the funny and frustrating things that happened this term, I would want to share with you (and with them) the things that I would want to remember (aside from the academic stuff of course) and later on, what I have learned from my students as well.

Caveat: I may bitch and moan at times about having to get up at 4AM every Saturday and the annoying things that my students do, but really, the 12 hours that I spend at the school are some of the most humbling, interesting and fun times at this stage of my life.

1. It’s never too early to start acting like you’re a professional

Most of you are in your third or fourth year so you’re a bit nearer towards entering the corporate or professional world. So as early as now, I want you guys to learn how to create a proper email address (no iloveonedirection@yahoo.com.ph please), how to properly write an email (you need to put something in the body, not just attach a file and send), how to edit and re-edit everything that you submit in class (typos will kill your career). Now while these things of course are just a tiny part of your life, it speaks to a disciplined mind and a commitment to excellence that you’ve mastered these things as early as now.
2. Stop expecting the world to spoon feed you

I really hate having the “Kami nga noon sa UP eh” mindset because MCL and UP are two vastly different creatures. But I can’t help but think sometimes about how being trained to fend for yourself helped turn me into an independent person and a critical thinker. And this is something I want to impart to you in small doses. The teacher doesn’t give you readings? Go out and read on the topic yourself. You didn’t understand some things during class? Research on your own or ask your classmate or even teacher to clarify things. You don’t agree with what the teacher said? Approach him/her and engage him/her in a discussion. Believe me, we will not turn you away. In fact, we welcome it. The “real world” will not give you everything you need and want and you need to start learning early on how to deal with that and how to go out and find things on your own.

3. Learn to speak your mind but be prepared to explain

I always tell you that I will not accept a “I liked/hated it” or an “I agree/disagree” answer. You need to be able to explain why or why not. It develops your critical thinking and it will make you appreciate things more than you originally thought. Opinions are always welcome. I never tell anyone you have the right or wrong opinion about something. But you need to be able to justify or just even explain your opinions. So no, I don’t accept “witty” one word answers to essay questions.

4. But also be prepared to listen (especially to those that you don’t agree with)

The danger also with having a lot of opinionated voices in one class is that there are no more people left to listen. So you need to train yourself to express yourself but also to pause and listen to other people. It’s even more important to listen to those whose opinions you don’t agree with because, who knows, you might learn a thing or two about the issue, about your classmates and even about yourself. Listening to someone from the “opposite camp” doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your stand. It just means you expand your horizons even more. Which leads us to…

5. The world is so much bigger than the ___ corners of your school or the four corners of your computer/laptop/mobile device

I cannot emphasise enough how important this idea is, especially in your development as an artist, a writer, a media practitioner and a human being. I have been frustrated so many times when I ask “Have you watched this?” “Do you know this person?” “Did you read about this?” and I get blank stares or just one or two raise their hands. There is a whole wide world out there, ready for you to discover and explore and dissect and examine. You don’t even have to travel (although traveling is also so important) to be able to discover them. Read. Watch TV. Talk to people. Go around your town. Or okay, if you don’t want to be parted from the Internet, browse the world wide web (not just FB or Twitter or Instagram). Go beyond what you are used to or even what you just like. You are still young enough to not be set in your ways. This is the time to figure out what you like, hate, are obsessed with, will give up forever. I’m not that young anymore but everyday I’m still discovering and studying things. And it’s not like I’m asking you to study math (but you could, if you want to) or memorise scientific formulas. You are media students, artists, writers. Go be that.

 

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2014 in Adventures in Teaching

 

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How do I love Tolkien? Let me count the ways

Today is the birthday of my favorite author JRR Tolkien. Non-readers and non-fantasy book readers are more familiar of course with Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (3 movies out of 1 short book still confounds and amazes me). And while I love those movies to death of course (the LOTR trilogy is my all-time favorite movie. Yes, I consider them just one) I have a different kind of love affair with his books, his works that were put together by his son Christopher after his death, and just the world he created in general. So why do I love him and his work so much?

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I got my non-Bible life verse from Fellowship of the Ring

From the moment I read this passage from the first Tolkien book I read, I fell in love with it, and since then “not all who wander are lost” has been my “tag line.” While of course the poem pertains to Aragorn (who of course happens to be one of my favorite characters), that doesn’t mean we can’t relate to it. Being an emotional nomad, my heart is prone to wander here and there and so the line really speaks to me.

Not all who wander are lost

He tells the stories of Middle Earth like it was a real world

When it comes to world-building, I haven’t read anything yet that can compare to Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Each race (and sub-race) has its own detailed language, culture, history, characteristics, story, etc. I’ve probably read The Silmarillion, which talks about the whole history of Middle Earth, from its creation up to the time when the events of The Lord of the Rings transpired and even beyond. If your only exposure of Tolkien is LOTR, believe me, it is just one part of a very large picture. Too bad Peter Jackson can’t touch Tolkien’s other works, it would have been awesome to see some of the stories in the Silmarillion and the Histories of Middle Earth and The Lost Tales come to life on the screen. I will not trust any other filmmaker to touch that, but alas, the Tolkien estate will not let him. So until then, these stories will have to stay in our heads, and you will not hear me complaining.

Not my collection, but i wish it was!

Not my collection, but i wish it was!

He created some of my favorite fantasy characters

Varda. Lorien. Tulkas, Nienna. Arien and Tilion. Fingolfin. Galadriel. Gil-galad. Earendil. Melian. Beren and Luthien. Turin Turambar. Thorin Oakenshield. Aragorn. Eowyn. Faramir. Theoden. Pippin. Samwise. Whether their characters’ stories were short or epic, I will forever treasure having been privy to their journey, their pain, their triumph, their tragedy. I feel like I went through everything with them, and when their respective chapters came to a close, i felt like I lost a friend. And yes, I’ve named a few toys or gadgets after some of these characters.

Trivia – their joint tombstone refers to Tolkien and his wife, Edith Mary as Beren and Luthien, which is probably the best “love story” in his Middle Earth. Altogether now…”Aaawwwww”. If you don’t know the story of the ill-fated (somewhat) and star-crossed lovers, that is one incentive for you to read Silmarillion.

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The women are few but memorable

Tolkien has often been accused of “hating” female characters as most of the stories, especially in The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy are testosterone-filled escapades. But the few women he was able to flesh out were memorable indeed. Melian used her power to protect those she loved. Galadriel is one of the oldest and most powerful elves still in Middle Earth. Luthien is no damsel in distress and she dared to go against the greatest evil. Eowyn uttered the classic line, “I am no man!” Arwen was….well she was pretty. Haha. Yeah, he could have written her better, but hey, Aragorn saw something in her, so maybe she wasn’t all that bad.

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Evil is not ambiguous and good triumphs in the end

While I do love modern stories, sometimes there is just too much ambiguity when it comes to the nature of evil. The rise of the anti-hero is exciting for storytelling, but disturbing for my peace of mind. In Tolkien’s world, the villains (Morgoth/Melkor, Sauron, the orcs) were not mistreated or abused that’s why they rebelled and became evil (okay, maybe the orcs had no choice but you don’t hear of an orc who suddenly chose to become good). They just were full of hatred and malice and lust and greed. They say he wrote the LOTR trilogy as an allegory for his experiences in World War I and obviously, his view is that there is no justification for war. It is just evil. But in the end, goodness will always triumph. And in a real world that sometimes doesn’t always reflect that, his stories and his own world are a comfort and a reminder that at the end of it all, it is not the most powerful or the proudest or the strongest that will win the battle.

And of course the quotes, the wonderful, beautiful quotes (not my art, click here for source)

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Books

 

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