Mema

I’ve been away from my WordPress for so long that the UI has changed. I am now thoroughly confused. As much time as I spend in front of a computer, I still get bamboozled with new things.

Anyway, I just wanted to write for a bit before my brain implodes. I’m under so much pressure from work that I don’t know where I’m going to put it all. I’ve resigned to sleeping the night away instead of worrying about it which is, understandably, counterproductive.

But wait! Yes, I’m working right now, but more on that on a separate post. I’ve also been to Japan recently…but again, more on that when I don’t feel like stabbing myself in the eye and then eating a tub of cookie dough ice cream.

Think of this post as a little purge. I need to release some pressure for the sake of my brain’s structural integrity. Expect a lot of randomness, DON’T expect things to make a whole lot of sense.

Look dogs! <3

I just finished watching “Date and Switch”. It’s one part romantic comedy one part coming of age and one part bromance. Movies like this (and Kings of Summer) make me wish I was a bro and had a bromance of my own. Alas, it is not meant to be as I am a dame.

The work environment is confusing. Blurring of professional and personal is quite evident. And, it’s surprising the number of people in the workforce who doesn’t seem to have left highschool yet. Maturity is hard to come by. 

Relationships are hard. 

Recently stumbled upon this blog: http://israelmekaniko.tumblr.com

It’s super great! If you’re feeling down, heartbroken or confused, visit this blog! I guarantee a smile (and maybe an epiphany or two.)

Well, that’s it for my mini post. Hoping that after August (tagal teh) I’ll be able to really update my blog. :)  

More-than-a-year-after-New-Year’s Day Drabbles (Part 3)

Last 2013, I swore to write 13 drabbles as part of my New Years Day tradition. To this day, I’ve been short two drabble. So, for closure, here they are:

Two beeping pinpoints on the radar. Gladys squinted her eyes and held her breath. This was her first mission outside the walls and she was the lookout. Her two teammates, Sasha and Grey, went out to recon the area. They were supposed to report back in 2 hours with the lay of the land. They gathered intel that there was a straggling group nearby, all that remained of the Manchurian rebels. Maybe they can be recruited, maybe they have weapons or provisions they could steal. It was always a 50-50 thing. Two beeping pinpoints, Sasha and Grey. One beeping pinpoint.

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One day, I’ll take you to Italy and we can ride a gondola together,” he whispered in my ear.

“All the gondolas are sunk now, you know,” I whispered back. They always said I was a pessimist.

“I’ll make you a gondola.”

I wrapped my arms around his chest. “Okay.” 

“Then, we’ll eat gelato. I don’t know if you American men like gelato, but it’s the best thing on earth.”

He always did like to point out that I was an American. It probably has something to do with his mom warning him about ‘those American ublyudok‘.

“I love gelato.”

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Yay! More than a year in the making :) My 13 drabbles. Check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Unspoken Feelings and Untold Dangers – The Lynburn Legacy and Me – Book Review (2&3/50)

I hope you all bear with me as I’m doing my reviews a little off-sequence.

I found out about The Lynburn Legacy while I was doing research about one of my favorite authors, Sarah Rees Brennan. During the early 2000′s she was known as Maya, one of my favorite fanfiction writers. Since publishing her first book, The Demon’s Lexicon, she has gone on to pen numerous others – leaving her fanfiction writing behind.

The Lynburn Legacy is her 3rd saga following The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy and The Bane Chronicles.

The first book is Unspoken. It is about a young and vivacious journalist-to-be, Kami, who finds out that her imaginary friend isn’t so imaginary after all. Jared, the voice inside her head that has accompanied her growing up, suddenly appears at her school; his emergence coinciding with the return of the town’s most prominent family, the Lynburns. Needless to say, confusion is awry as Kami struggles to make sense of everything, especially who (or what) the Lynburns are.

Though I am not one for YA romance novels, I was intrigued by the new spin on mind-reading that this book introduces. No Bella Swan-like antics here. I was hooked from the start, itching to know the secret of the Lynburns. What’s up with the creepy decor? Is Ash, Jared’s cousin, really who he appears to be? Is Angela, Kami’s devastatingly beautiful but hopelessly lazy bestfriend, the best supporting character ever? Will they ever get around to actually studying? These questions, and more, plagued me and so I just had to finish the book.

While this may not be Brennan’s strongest writing, it’s a fun romp none-the-less. Compared with her Demon’s Lexicon Trilogy, though, I found this book a little on the dragging side. We were intentionally being kept in the dark for so much of the book to the point that there were times where I  was getting annoyed already. Being, admittedly, not a romance kind of gal, I had no interest in the love triangle. I was more into the dynamics among the supporting characters than the Ash-Kami-Jared thing. And knowing how well Sarah can pen a romance, I was sort of disappointed.

What I LOVED about this book was the unique twist on the mind-reading trope. Sarah wrote it in such a way that I wanted a not-so-imaginary friend of my very own. Issues with privacy aside, I would love to have someone who is there for me 24/7 and could relate 100% to what I’m feeling. And, of course, I’d reciprocate that support as well .Why can’t we all have mysterious mental links?

Unspoken’s sequel, Untold, follows the gang after a confrontation with one of the  heads of the Lynburn clan turned Sorry-in-the-Vale on its head. Since I don’t want to give too much away about the reveal in Book 1, I’ll just go on and talk about my feelings as I read this book.

Again, I wasn’t too sold on the whole romance angle – at least not the main romance. There’s a surprising secondary relationship in bloom that I <3 so much. I’m trying not to post spoilers, so forgive my cryptic-ness.

Unlike Unspoken, Untold didn’t really keep me on the edge of my seat. For a lot of the book, I was quite bored, to be honest. Echoing the sentiments of other readers, I found the book to have too much brooding and angst and not enough action (something I enjoyed in Book 1). I’d say this book suffered from the ills of 2nd books, having the middle book just be a sort of introduction to the final action in the last installment, with little merit on its own.

But Sarah did hook me in the end with a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. Suffice it to say, I’ll be staying tuned to the 3 and final installment of the Lynburn Legacy.

Happy New Year! Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Book Review (1/50)

Happy New Year everyone! I wanted to kickstart 2014 with a new pet project and that is my “50 books in a year with accompanying review” project. Very self-explanatory title, I think. So, I thought to begin with the book that I started reading the day after Christmas and just finished roughly 5 hours ago. I don’t usually read that slowly (the book is only 200+ pages) but I wanted to savor the book very much.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (4/5 RATING)

I first heard about the book through a FullyBooked email newsletter (yes, those things are actually helpful!). The reason I wanted to read it was solely based on the fact that it was written by Mindy Kaling. She’s a brilliant writer/actor/comedian/awesome person who I learned about through her show The Mindy Project, though most people might know her from her stint on The Office (US).

I love The Mindy Project. Adore, obsessively watch, follow, like, approve, recommend, all that good stuff. It’s super funny and romantic at the same time. I love it for so many reasons that I won’t list them here because this is a book review and not a show review. You should still go watch it when it airs again!

The book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, is an autobiography of sorts. It regales the readers with Mindy’s experiences growing up as the child of immigrant parents and a struggling writer. No tear-jerking stories here, though, as every short anecdote is filled with the patent Mindy humor. From realizing she loved comedy more than having a clique, to finding herself in college and moving to NYC with her bestfriends, Mindy talks about her funny/awkward/life-changing experiences amidst other “listicles” that make you want to hang out with Ms. Kaling, maybe forever.

I devoured every single page of this book. Not only because it’s a lighthearted, witty and easy read but also because I saw so much of myself in Mindy (and so much of Mindy in me. I hope she doesn’t mind me talking about her like we’re BFFs. I hope she doesn’t mind me wishing for us to become BFFs). I’m not a comedy writer or a child of immigrants, but I feel like I relate to her on almost every level. We’re both a little quirky, a little awkward and a lot just plain confused at a lot of things. I also do Irish exits a lot and contemplate about how my funeral should be arranged.

Aside from our many similarities, I also enjoyed the book because it chronicles how Mindy pursued her passion for comedy and slowly (but surely) made her way to where she wanted to be, not too famous but just famous enough to be important. I found myself exclaiming, “You Go Girl!”, in my head many times throughout the book. She knew what she wanted and she went for it – awkward silences and social norms aside.

One part that I absolutely loved was a brief chapter about how she was treated by stylists. Now that she was somebody, Hollywood was determined to make her fit into the actress mold – a very small one where it’s a requisite that you’re a size zero-one. Mindy was having none of that. She embraced her own body and made Hollywood accept her for who she is, a real woman. Couture gowns made in only sample sizes? Nope, she’s having none of THAT. It’s very uplifting to read about someone like me navigate the waters of the world.

People 2011 – Mindy with fellow comedien Ellie Kemper

This is a book female teens and twenteens should go and read. Mindy is a role model for ambitious young women who want to carve out a little place in the world for themselves.

Whole lotta Killing Going On: Riddick (2013) Movie Review

So, Riddick.

As a fan of The Chronicles of Riddick, I was ecstatic to find out that they were going to make another sequel in the “Riddick” series. The first movie, Pitch Black, was a surprise hit in 2000. The Chronicles of Riddick came out in 2004 and the third installment was released September 2013. Since I was busy reviewing for my board exams, I missed it when it was in theaters but was able to watch it just last night (thank you torrents). Here is what I think of it (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD).

I was disappointed to find that Alexa Davalos (aka Kyra aka Jack) was NOT going to reprise her role in the third movie. A large part of my desire to see Riddick was to find out what happened to her. Is she really dead? Would she magically come back to life? How is Riddick going to avenge her death? Sadly, her story line was not mentioned AT ALL in Riddick.

Another thing I did not like about the movie was that it had less Chronicles and more Pitch Black. That is, there was very little “story” in the whole movie. Basically, Riddick is stranded on a planet (again) where everything is trying to kill him. He lures mercs using an emergency beacon so he can steal their ship and escape “Not-Furya”. The reason I loved Chronicles so much was the mythology around it. Hell, it even had two settings. In Riddick, we watch Vin Diesel outsmart the baddies and escape into the not-sunset.

The thing I did appreciate, was the movie’s nods to its predecessors. First, the beginning quickly explains how Riddick went from Grand Marshall of the Necromongers into scorpion-bait. Second, we are introduced to Johns’ dad. Next, Riddick somehow gets the baddies to make a deal with him that ultimately gets him to kill them and escape. As another reviewer said, Riddick is the real sequel to Pitch Black.

Another thing I noticed about the movie was the clever way it did a twist to the whole alien-boogey-man scenario. We see a lot of movies where a human ship crashes/gets invaded by the scary alien and we spend the whole time watching people get killed one-by-one. Riddick does follow the same pattern but instead of having an unknown alien fighting in the dark, the creature ghosting the silly humans is Riddick himself.

From sarahtherebel.wordpress.com

Also, Batista (the pro wrestler) is awesome as Diaz. To all Awkward fans, Collin (Nolan Gerard Funk) also has a part in the movie as the bible-thumping Luna, though his acting should go and ask Batista’s acting for some tips.

I did also love the visuals in this movie. Vin Diesel was great as the stoic Riddick, surviving against all odds. Though I did find the first few minutes quite self-indulgent (we get it, he’s badass), it does well to introduce the character to Riddick rookies. It’s that type of film where you don’t need to watch the sequels to understand or enjoy it, although you will miss the little nods here and there.

In the end, I’m not certain whether I like this movie or not; or if I’d recommend it as a must-watch film. It’s an OK film for sci-fi buffs and Riddick fans. It’s a good popcorn movie. Props for everything I mentioned above but it does leave me wanting more of the Riddick universe. Maybe a Riddick 4?

Italian Delights at Balboa, East Wing Shangrila

Last November 30, 2013, the family and I went out to celebrate my becoming a licensed engineer. We planned for dinner + a movie at Shangrila’s East Wing. I had a difficult time deciding where we would eat. Do I want Chinese food? Japanese? Italian? Would I want to eat at a buffet or a regular ala carte resto? So many choices!

I went online and saw 2 interesting (and new) restaurants at the East Wing. There was Balboa and Corazon. Thankfully they were on the same floor so it wouldn’t be a hassle to just get to the mall and decide on the spot.

We ended up eating at Balboa. Here’s my simple review.

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Lasagna, Family Size, 509php

The menu specified that the meat in this lasagna was Angus Beef. Yum. My dad said that this was the way Italian lasagna was made, not at all like the Filipino lasagna I was expecting. It was a little on the bland side, for me. I think it could have done with a little more cheese since the bits of cheese I tasted were delish.

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All Meat Pizza, Family size, 668php

As meat-eaters, my family thoroughly enjoyed this pizza. Again, it’s made in the Italian thin crust style with delicious cheeses and various meats. I recommend this dish highly. It’s not too filling or greasy, unlike most popular pizzas you’d encounter in the Philippines.

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Osso Bucco Milanes, 448php

My favorite dish had to be the Osso Bucco Milanes. It’s beef shanks in some wonderful sauce. (Sorry, I wasn’t able to read the description on the menu). The meat was tender and very very flavorful. I only wished we ordered another one! The rice was OK, nothing special. I exclaimed that if this is what thier beef shanks tasted like, imagine how their steaks are :O

All-in-all Balboa is a sure-visit for fans of Italian fare. Though it is quite pricey (read: very pricey, I’d like to thank my sponsors mom and dad), the experience of eating there would surely make up for the empty space in your wallet.

However! I did not enjoy eating by the side of the restaurant. When we arrived, the place was full and we had to dine at the tables outside. While this may be a good idea if you’re living in the South of France in Springtime, it is not a good idea when dining in a busy mall.

The area where Balboa is situated is a particularly busy one with no less than 4 results in the vicinity. What’s more, the corridor where we ate was very narrow as it shared space with Corazon and its outside diners. There was zero ambiance as my family and I had to shout to hear one another and pedestrians kept hitting the back of my chair. It also made it difficult for us to call on the attention of the servers. I don’t know if it was poor planning on Shangrila’s part or on Balboa’s but having a restaurant with very little space inside for diners (I counted 5 or 6 tables only!) is quite vexing.

I’m not so sure if I’d like to come back. The food is really good and I’m curious about the other menu items, but my experience with eating in the corridor left a bitter aftertaste.

My Life Thus Far (aka I’m an Engineer, beaches!)

I am officially a Chemical Engineer! <3

I am also officially an unemployed bum :(

The reason for my semi-imposed hiatus was the onset of my country’s Chemical Engineering Board Exams which were held last November 19-21. These gruelling three days were designed to measure a ChE graduate’s knowledge and mental endurance. Once you pass this exam, you become a licensed Chemical Engineer in the Philippines and can proudly wear the title of Engineer.

After graduating last April, I set my sights to preparing for the boards by going to review classes. April-November was a long, long, anxious string of studying and catching up on new shows and eating and sleeping and dreading and praying. I tried not to stress about what’s coming.

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My messy room while I studied for the boards

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More photos of me studying

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Books and coffee, my consant companions

I began review classes on July and ended it early October. Then, I sprained my ankle pretty bad fighting the forces of evil (walking down the stairs) and was confined to my room for a few days, then to the house for a week or two. After that was a month of helpless cramming and praying to St. Jude that I don’t fail the boards and live in disgrace until the next one on April.

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Sprained my ankle. Ew. Gross. But still with fab nail polish. XD

Whenever I could, I tried to go out and do normal things. Hang out with friends, go to the salon, do physical stuff (since I was a vegetable for a number of weeks).

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Joined a 3k run/walk with my family

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Got my hair dyed. Loving being ginger!

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Watched The Voice of the Philippines Live

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Took time to play volleyballe after my ankle healed

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Spent some time with the boyfriend to de-stress

Thankfully, I passed! And though I didn’t make it to the top ten or anything, it makes me ecstatic to know that I lived up to people’s expectations and I made myself proud.

I rewarded myself with copious amounts of sugary drinks and a trip to Resorts World Manila. I’m still in the celebration stage and am planning on more dinners and more sugary-sweet beverages.

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Nutella Frappe!

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ButtahBeer

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Swanky cars

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More sugary delights

Now, I’m in the swirling abyss of uncertainty. A lot of people are asking what I’ll be doing next. What is there to do? After I sort out my license registration thing, I’m heading out and searching for a job. Ah adult life. Here’s to hoping I’m employed in 2014 XD

Waterbaby

Not a lot of people know this, and it may not be true for the past few years, but I’m a water-baby at heart. I could spend hours upon hours just laying in the pool or playing aorund on the beach.

I used to have around 3 colors on my skin, varying degrees of sun exposure cut off by different bathing suit designs. Now, I’m all one-color, no tan line, dry as a whistle. I miss swimming. I miss the water.

So, I stumbled upon this link to the 35 waters you should swim in before you die. I hope to get to expereince swimming in those waters, even just the ones in Asia.

http://dailynewsdig.com/35-clearest-waters-world-swim-die/

Sleepy Hollow and Dads: TV Review

REVIEW TIME!

And no, I don’t mean time to review for my Chemical Engineering Board Exams (which I really should be doing). I mean time to review some of the new shows that just aired this past week. It’s Fall TV Season and my laptop is once again laboring to function on about 8GB of space left because I just had to download about 10-15 episodes this week.

Aside from the returning shows, I also stuffed my hard drive with the first episodes of Sleepy Hollow and Dads. Here’s my take on the two new shows.

DADS (Fox, airs Tuesdays)

At first, I wasn’t sold on Dads. Basing it primarily on the written description of the show, I wasn’t planning on catching it. But, after seeing the trailer a few months back, I decided to give it a try.

The first episode was fun, funny and alright. It did make me guffaw and the jokes did land but I doubt this show will survive. For one, the premise itself isn’t interesting enough to last another season. Basically, the show is about two best friends who both have difficult dads. Cue awkward situations and racist old farts. That’s about it. For a show to last, it needs to have a twist or a little something to carry it past its opening week.

Take Cougar Town, for example. The original concept of the show was a how an older woman is trying to date younger men. OK, fun premise, enough to make you watch a few funny episodes. But then, the show transformed into something else. The “dating younger men” plot disappeared and the show became about a bunch of quirky characters hanging out, having fun and building a new family.

In short, Dads is not like Cougar Town. Watch it if you have half and hour to kill and want something light to watch. Sadly, I predict a short season and an early cancellation.

SLEEPY HOLLOW (Fox, airs Mondays)

Sleepy Hollow is a retelling of the popular tale of the headless horseman. And though no one can beat Johnny Depp, I was intrigued by this modern take. It starts off with the main character, Ichobod Crane, rising from the dead and entering 2013.

At first, I thought that this show wouldn’t make it past the first season. The story reads like a movie more than a series. But as I went through the episode, I quickly got the feeling that this could definitely branch off into other plots and story arcs. Witches, covens, demons and time travelling british dudes. I predict a fun romp into the world of Sleepy Hollow this Fall.

I do have a little issue with some of the characters. The female lead, Abbie, isn’t as interesting as I’d hoped. She’s a spunky detective who rebels against the rules to help out dear Ichobod. Sadly, I didn’t feel any sympathy for her. I wasn’t rooting for her to succeed. We’ll see if the writers have some material to make her more special. For now, I see her as a cookie-cutter character. So, yes, go watch Sleepy Hollow. It’s a great new show with a promising future.

Happy Floody Birthday to Me! (But not so for everyone, pls help)

It’s my birthday! Yay!

But, my country is definitely not in a celebrating mood. Tropical Storm Maring came into the PAR (Philippine Area of Responsibility) yesterday and has been raining down misery for most Filipinos. (Photos shown taken from yesterday up to a few hours ago).

Classes, offices and many operations have been suspended due to flood waters. Many major roads are impassable and loads of families have been displaced.

Luckily, my family and I are safe. So, for my birthday wish, I’m asking anyone and everyone to help. If you’re from the Philippines, please donate through local efforts. Donating canned goods, toilettries, blankets and alike are welcome. For people abroad, you can donate to the Philippine Red Cross.

ImageEvery little bit helps. :)

As for me, as soon as it’s safe to go out I’ll be looking for places to volunteer if I can. Stay safe countrymen!