Saturday, December 27, 2014

Anne Rice and Westeros

My fave author, Anne Rice, referenced Game of Thrones in the recent LA talks with her son Christopher, during the promotion of her latest book in the Vampire Chronicles, Prince Lestat. In the talk, she replied to Christopher's question that generally books like Harry Potter, Vampire Chronicles, the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larssen, tap into some general struggle or journey and that without it, there is not much "meat" for the story to latch on to and thus not make it engaging for readers. Anne said that generally that is true but Game of Thrones broke the mold for having a singular hero undergoing a journey. She said that because the hero whom we thought to be in Book 1/Season 1 was apparently not. I wonder though, if Ned Stark, is George RR Martin's statement on idealism? That it's risky to be seeing life through rose colored glasses in this cynical and practical and at times, user-friendly world that we live in.

Truly Ned for all his faults as a king, was honorable and perhaps even faultless in the eyes of his supporters. And that whatever information he withheld or altered to suit the need for secrecy concerning Jon Snow's true lineage is definitely something he needed to do. I wonder too if in this day and age, Idealism is dead. Has everyone started to become jaded about everything and everyone else. And anyone who holds that kind of thinking or viewpoint will ultimately be sacrificed and thrown into the fire, because for the sole reason that what the majority wants and deems right and proper, matter. That the majority always would rule. And anyone who is not conforming to that should be silenced or learn to keep their views to themselves. Anything else is fodder.

What do you think?

Sharing the video clip of that talk too here. Enjoy and keep writing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Catching up on Fury's Big Week - Avenger's Prelude

I usually stay away from prequel stories leading into the cinematic versions but given that this copy was on sale, I figured why the heck not. Plus this is all about Fury and all the background scenario that happens from Iron Man 2 up to the beginning of the Avengers.

All this is told from Fury's point of view, from monitoring the progress of Tony Stark following his offer about the Avengers Initiative at the end of Iron Man to Stark's drunken fit from his condo in Iron Man 2 to the recruitment of Clint Barton, aka. Hawkeye in Thor as well as Natasha Romanov's confrontation of Dr. Samuel Sterns in his lab in Hulk 2 after Banner storms thru the streets of New York battling the abomination General Ross has created.

As not everything can be told or divulged in the movie versions or even in the bonus scenes, the comics are the best medium to provide additional material that will complement and enhance once's knowledge of the Marvel cinematic Universe and equally provide a little more character insight into our favorite heroes.

Fury has got his hands full with keeping the peace in different situations that stem from one Marvel movie to another and he doesn't need a man like General Ross on his hands either who remarked the best line of this graphic novel for me.

Ross - "The World needs people like us Fury. I'm out on the battlefield killing our enemies and you're safe behind a wall protecting all the secrets that everyday citizens can't handle. You're the SHIELD and I'm the SWORD."

Fury - "You're not sharp enough to be a SWORD, General."

This may be an Avengers Prequel graphic novel but most of the solo films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are a way of building up to the Avengers itself and so its only natural that the flow of 4-issue graphic novel be of the same vein.

So is there Continuity in this graphic novel? YES

Is there a fair amount of exposition for our characters? YES

Do other secondary but equally important characters like Coulson, Sitwell, Selvig and others make an apperance? YES

Should you at least borrow or get a copy?...........(in full FURY mode) ....Hell YEAH!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Singapore 2014- Day 1 (May 9, 2014)

We have always wanted and talked about going to Singapore, Asia’s cleanest and most efficient city. And so when the time came to bite the bullet and finally get things going, we could not be more excited. The flight was around 10:30 in the morning on a Friday via JetStar Asia. This meant that I had to be absent from work for 2 days but at least for us, it meant a quality weekend in a city that we wasted no time in discovering upon our arrival there.

As soon as we touched down and saw the massive arrival area, my camera was ready to take everything in visually and remind ourselves how airports really should be. Airports are the first thing that a foreigner sees upon visiting a country and if Changi Airport is anything to go by, Singapore definitely gives out a good and strong first impression. The arrival area was large, modern and you can almost feel the air of efficiency coming from each and every immigration official as we queued up. Certainly it was no surprise why a fellow passenger in the next lane beside us loudly commented, “Your city is beautiful and efficient”. See? And just like Malaysia and China, each counter where an official sat, had a mini screen where tourists can rate their experience with the officer checking their documents as they enter the country. Needless to say, the officer got a 5 star rating from us. In addition to that, there was also a bowl of candy where incoming tourists can help themselves to. I got a pocketful.

 After getting our bags from the carousel, we quickly grabbed a cab, which was efficiently (that word, again) deployed by the guard at the exit and soon we were off zooming through the zero traffic-laden streets of Singapore. First thing we noticed that the streets were clean and there were a lot of trees and shrubs planted along the stretch of the highway. The cabbie was conversive enough to answer questions we asked regarding the city. As it is, Singapore itself is really small and a lozenge-shaped island with 60 significantly smaller islets surrounding it. People, we were told, are quite disciplined and the cabbie was quick to point out that discipline comes naturally to them for it was instilled in them during their childhood years. To discipline an adult is so much harder than disciplining a child. Well, no argument there.

Coursing through the streets we saw the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to our left and the large Ferris wheel which was reminiscent of the London Eye itself and our very own MOA Eye at the Mall of Asia. The cars are all right hand driven and so for us left-hand drivers in Manila, driving in Singapore will certainly take some getting used to. Finally we arrived at the Bugis district where our hotel was located. The Fragrance Hotel, located along Beach Road is enough for non-picky travellers to be amply settled in while they take in the sights of the city during the day and rest securely and comfortably by nightfall. Ours was a regular small room that looked big because of a full mirror attached to the wall. It may be cramped for those wanting a bigger room but I know that there are other ones available for guests with bigger needs. We were thinking of taking a nap first before heading out but decided to explore the area in order to get acquainted more with the city. And in exploring new terrain, there was no better way to go about doing it, than by foot. We turned right as we got out of the hotel and was surprised to see that the previous hotel that we initially thought of booking into, called Hotel 81, was just right beside it. I thought that they must be sister or partner hotels to be close to each other. But later, we learned from the front desk personnel, who was actually Filipino, that Hotel 81 was like Jollibee to McDonald’s. Wherever there was a Fragrance Hotel, one can be sure that the rival hotel will just be nearby.

Walking further, I noticed the beautiful architecture on some of their buildings. It quickly reminded me of New Orleans (which I would love to visit one day). With their wooden shutters and oval shaped windows and as well arches, I felt I was in the Bourbon district of the Big Easy and that some of these buildings wouldn’t look too much out of place there. Of course, add more iron latticed railings with elaborate designs and curliques and it’s a match. We were soon surprised to find out, as we walked further away from Purvis street and Beach that the famed 5 starred Raffles Hotel was just behind us. Established in 1887 by two Armenian brothers from Persia, the colonial styled hotel which later became a Singaporian icon was eventually named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the British statesman who founded the city of Singapore in 1818.

A quick snapshot here and there at the lobby and we were off to walk further and make a left to reach Nicholl Hiway where to our right was a tall white obelisk that reminded me of the George Washington monument in Washington DC. But the top however had a resemblance to the tower of Orthanc, the granite looking fortress of Saruman the White in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But I know I’m digressing. Allow me to get to the matter at hand before my geekiness goes out of hand. Now, all these selfies in front of hotels and buildings would’ve been easier with the help of a monopod. But I wasn’t able to get one before leaving for this trip. So I will just have to get one for our next trip. We crossed the highway, being mindful and obeying traffic laws and reached the Suntech building on our left which housed different shops that we had back in Manila and still to have like H&M, Kiehl’s UniQlo among others. Across us and to our right was the Marina Mandarin. Another hotel to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.

We then opted to check the mall that loomed in front of us called the Marina Square and discovered that it was a two-leveled mall which once more wouldn’t look too out of place in our own Ayala and Makati district. On the way there, there was a curious art piece on the sidewalk that we couldn't resist but just goof around with. Upon stepping in Marina Square, we were instantly greeted by the smell of coffee as we stepped in. Of course, the lobby housed The Coffee Club and to my right, which I would later be deprived of visiting for lack of time, was my favorite music store, HMV.

We then decided that all these selfies and walking around made us hungry and we decided to try something local via the fast food chain, Long John Silver. It looked like a partner chain of our own Fish and Co back home and so our first meal in the city of cleanliness and efficiency (not to mention, discipline) was Fish and Chips. And I just had to ring the bell right after we left, to let them know that we were happy with their service as well as food.

More walking brought us to the food court upstairs where we were treated with an awesome view of the lake and the Marina Bay Sands hotel itself! It was the hotel that looked like it had a ship on top of it. (Say what again?) Architecturally it seems an impossible feat to even construct something like that. But to see it with your own eyes, it really is a wonder and a testament to the brilliance of architecture and engineering. And knowing that we would be visiting that very same hotel and area tomorrow, my excitement doubled at the thought.

 Soon we’ve managed to cover most of the mall and it was time to head back home and grab some dinner within the vicinity. We traced our steps back and came back to Purvis street and saw a restaurant called SINSWEEKEE that was open aired and served the most tempting looking Hainanese Chicken Rice. Tempting for others, but not for me.

Hainanese Chicken Rice
Now, I find that dish too pale and so I decided to order roasted chicken instead along with some fried fish dumplings. It was good and gave both of us a sample of how tasty Singaporian cooking really is.

Roasted Chicken Rice
Fried Shrimp Rolls

I should've studied better in school in order to read this. Hehe.

I also loved the Chinese inscription on our table. As my Mandarin is quite rusty, I could only marvel at it and take a snapshot and have my Mom translate it for me. LOL!

Along with dinner, the obligatory selfies and food pics were once more practiced. After being energized and fed to our hearts content we decided to go to the opposite direction from our hotel as our mall trek was the result of walking right from the hotel, so we decided to go left. This brought us to the Bugis mall, after passing the Hotel Intercon and the National Library Building just along Middle Road. Much to our surprise, there was a street there that’s named after our own city. I know I must research on it upon reaching home. Who would have thought of finding a street named after our own. As this is a testament to the rich history between our two nations. I wonder if there was ever a move to return the favor and grant Singapore a street of its own back in Manila. (attention politicians!!!)

 The Bugis Mall was much bigger than Marina Square and  felt reminiscent of the internal layout of our own humongous and uniquely crafted mall of Sm Davao. That one you should go see if you’re in the South. We walked, window shopped and explored each and every floor and kinda did a quick overview of the mall as we knew that we would have to come back to it during the day.

All this after dinner walk was sort of a reconissance thing and knowing-your-terrain kind of walk. Soon we reached the top that housed the food courts that ranged from Western to Japanese food before deciding to call it a night and end it aptly with Singaporean milk tea at Koi Café just outside the mall. Now, I personally wasn't a fan of the traditional milk tea as I felt the drink reflects one's indecision to either have milk or tea. Since I cannot decide, why not have them all in one drink. That was how I initially felt about milk tea. But after tasting Koi Cafe's specialty, I find myself warming up to its taste and even found myself looking for it as the days progressed.

                      All in all, it was good and productive first day. Here’s to our second.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Winter Soldier 4: The Electric Ghost

What a fortuitous event to have found this at Book Sale yesterday after coming out of the cinema following my first day viewing of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier.

While the movie deserves more than a two thumbs up and certainly ups the ante for Marvel in terms of their Cinematic Universe, reading this volume as a part of a bigger and collective work pertaining to the ever unfolding events of the Winter Soldier himself, make me regard the book as something that is best read in its entirety along with the other volumes. This being Volume 4, after all and collects Issues 15-19. This then had me for a mad scramble to look for the first 3 volumes.

Hope other Book Sale branches would have them. Wish me luck.

This 4th volume marks the departure of Ed Brubaker from the creative team and has Jason Latour at the helm. Reading this certainly makes me even more curious for the other compilations and henceforth with this volume, I will certainly be on the lookout for more. Winter Soldier, or he who I will not name (don't want to spoil Muggles), has gone thru a lot and I wait for more compilations to turn up to further enhance my history of this tragic and broken character.

Redemption is indeed possible. That is is if one is aware on how to tread the road for it and if one is brave enough to get on it.

And while you are at it, go catch the Winter Soldier currently playing in local theaters now. Let's see if this whets your appetite for curiosity. :)

If you're happy with that, here's the official first 4 minute preview. Then we talk. :)

Welcome to the Diabolical

Another brilliant addition to my TRESE collection from the master, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. Filipino urban fantasy, dark noir at its best.

If you have not read any volumes of TRESE, this could be a good way to start as the original prequel of a story, "One Last Drink at the Diabolical" is included. But if you already are familiar and love TRESE, the Kambal and those back stories what we never gotten around to read about, then this first compilation is for you; or rather for us.

My fave story in this Volume is "The Usual Spot". The senti and hopeless romantic in me is so touched by this story and makes me wonder if Master Budjette foresees a love angle for our beloved heroine in the near future? And since this is the first collection, I am hoping for more back stories involving TRESE and her sidekicks, the Kambal as supernatural protector of the city.

But for now, you gotta get this and add to your TRESE collection. Or better yet. Read them all again. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

ARROW- Year One

Although I'm not a fan of the art but definitely great writing by Andy Diggle. I wonder if the Diggle character in the series Arrow is purposely named to pay homage to this writer, but nonetheless a little different from the origin story we've seen played out over the CW.

Oliver Queen still is the same spoiled rich kid who finds himself betrayed and left for dead after being thrown overboard his own ship. He washes up on an island and it is here where his mettle is tested and is faced with the hard truth about life, survival and friendship. If you have not watched the tv series, I suggest you do ASAP after reading this or let the series supplement what you would discover about Ollie upon reading this reworked origin story.

He may be not my favorite DC character, but ya gotta admit, it does have heart. And that matters much when you wanna be pulled into reading something of value and substance.