Thursday, March 15, 2018

From Now On from The Greatest Showman

In my previous post, I talked about how much I love the music and the production numbers of The Greatest Showman. None moreso than From Now On which comes out close to the end of the film. If you don't want to be spoiled, you might want to skip watching this video but if you've seen the film and want to see it again or you are looking for a reason to watch the film, check this out.

video uploaded in youtube by Stark Productions

Not only is the dancing perfectly on point and tremendously well-executed, it is performed with such life and energy and passion. It's like the entire cast erupted in unbridled joy. I enjoyed watching all the earlier production numbers in The Greatest Showman but it was this scene that I immediately wanted to see again. And again. And again. (And now, thanks to this video, I have. :))

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Movie Watching 2018

It took a while before I finally found myself at the movie theater this year but when I did, I ended up watching one film after another in quick succession. In fact, I watched three movies in a span of three days. Thankfully, everything I saw was really good.

The Greatest Showman

I watched this film because of word-of-mouth. I didn't really know about it until I kept seeing my friends heap praised upon it on social media. Thankfully I did see it because I thoroughly enjoyed it. While it is supposed to be based on the life if P.T. Barnum, a lot of liberties were taken and it is not historically accurate. I will also say that the story is quite light and the character development was a bit thin. So why did I love this movie? It's the music and the production numbers. Not only are the songs catchy, some of them are downright anthemic. Never Again has been covered so many times by singers who want to showcase their vocal talent. This is Me was nominated for Best Song at the Oscars for its inspirational message of strength and courage and accepting and being proud of for who you are. Rewrite the Stars has such a pop appeal that I've heard it many times on the radio already. My personal favorite though is not one of the common favorites among people. From Now On is sung close to the end and is about forgiveness and redemption, and it has a gospel feel to it that makes your heart soar. While the music alone would have been enough, the production that accompanies each song just take the experience to the next level. The soundtrack has been playing in my head since I watched the film and I desperately want to find a karaoke bar where I can sing songs from the movie. :)

The Post

As a Meryl Streep fan, there was no way I was going to miss The Post. The fact that she was nominated for her 21st acting Oscar for her performance in this film made me want to see it even more. While it seemed like a bit of a cerebral political drama during the first half, it became almost edge-of-your-seat suspenseful as it started building up towards what I felt was one of the most critical moments of the film. I won't spoil you by telling you what it is, but I have to say that Meryl absolutely sells that scene. This movie gave me the same vibe I got watching Frost/Nixon many years ago. I guess I'm not the only one who loved it since it was also nominated for Best Picture at The Oscars. While the film is set in the mid-1960s, it highlights the criticality of freedom of the press, which is just as relevant today as it was back then. The line "The free press was to serve the governed, not the governors" resonated with me a lot and I wish more people understand this concept and fight to uphold to it.

The Shape of Water

Because it was Oscar season this month, it was natural for many Oscar nominees to be shown at the movie theaters. The Shape of Water had been reaping a lot of awards and the sea creature element made me very curious to see it. As expected, this film, which took home a few Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo Del Toro, was a well-crafted and beautiful piece of storytelling. I will spoil you a bit here and say that it is a love story (although I guess you can kind of figure that out from the movie poster) that is strange and thrilling and suspenseful and romantic. The lead actress, Sally Hawkins, puts in a scintillating performance and really makes you feel for and relate to her character, despite the very unusual and unique circumstances in which she finds herself. I will say though that while I found this film to be tremendously good and satisfying to watch, it's not something I would have thought would take home an Oscar Best Picture trophy. Still, it is definitely worth seeing and I do recommend it.

Black Panther

Of all the films I watched so far this year, Black Panther is the only one that came out in 2018 (the other three came out in 2017 and in fact, all other three were nominated for Oscars). I think it is incredible to see a black superhero in a leading role. The fact that he is joined by a black cast in a film that celebrates black culture and pays homage to Africa makes it even more groundbreaking. While I can attempt to write about the value of this film, I will instead direct you to this article by Time on how Black Panther marks a major milestone. Apart from its cultural significance, it is also a really good superhero movie with fantastic action sequences, good storytelling, and well-written and well-developed characters that you can't help but root for. Here's a bit of trivia: Black Panther is currently the highest ranked Marvel movie on Rotten Tomatoes in terms of critics score.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Aircon Woes Again

Well this sucks. Less than a year after I had problems with my previous aircon, I started having issues with my new one. A few days ago, I noticed that there was water dripping from the dropped ceiling behind my aircon. It was a very light and intermittent drip so I thought I could wait a few days until the next Saturday for it to be looked at. The problem was that one night, right before I was about to sleep. the dripping got significantly heavier, almost like water from a faucet. It dripped for just a few seconds but enough water came out to fill a mug. I had our on-shift engineer inspect my aircon and ceiling and he said that there is most likely a leak in the drain causing water to collect inside my ceiling. I got really worried that my ceiling would collapse, and my aircon along with it.

I decided I couldn't wait a few more days for my scheduled repair. I asked our engineering department to help me influence the aircon repair service to find time to repair my unit. I also called them myself. After a few calls and some begging on my part, they were able to send a couple of people to check the problem. The problem is that the only way to find out what was going on was to cut big holes in the ceiling. They confirmed that my aircon was not properly attached to the drain, resulting in a leak. Thankfully, they were able to do the repair later that afternoon.

The sucky thing about this is that I lost a day of work, had to pay for the aircon repair service, and I now have to pay for the restoration of my ceiling. I guess I will just try to focus on the positive and that it could have been a lot worse; at least my ceiling didn't collapse. And I got to help people earn a living.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Dawn Macandili honored as Ms. Volleyball 2017

Ms. Everywhere is Ms. Volleyball!

Congratulations to Dawn Macandili for being awarded Miss Volleyball 2017 by the Philippine Sportswriters Association. Dawn continues to set records as she once again becomes the first libero to receive this honor which has traditionally been given to scoring players.

Of course, this award is very well-deserved. Macandili was part of the DLSU team that won the UAAP Women's Volleyball trophy, and she also took home the Best Receiver award. She was also awarded Best Libero at the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, where she helped F2 Logistics win the championship.

For me, though, it was Macandili's international exposure that was the highlight of her 2018. She joined the Philippine National Team at the SEA Games where the Philippines placed fourth. She also joined the  at the AVC Asian Senior Women's Championship, an event where the Philippines competed against Thailand, South Korea, Kazakhstan and Vietnam. Despite playing in a league that included some of the best players in the world, Dawn received the 2nd best libero award in that event. Amazing!

Congratulations, Dawn! You definitely deserve to be called Ms. Volleyball 2017.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No Need to Argue by The Cranberries

I got a cassette tape of "No Need to Argue" by The Cranberries back in the mid-90s and it immediately became one of my favorite albums. Until now, it still is. While this second album of The Cranberries features a couple of their most popular songs such as Zombie and Ode to My Family, I actually love it even more for the songs that weren't released. One of which is Daffodil Lament, which was chosen by fans as their best non-single song. Listen to it here.

While I do agree that Daffodil Lament is brilliant, my favorite is actually the title track No Need to Argue, which is the last song on the album. Actually, this is my all-time favorite song of The Cranberries. You need to bump up the volume or listen to it with earphones or headphones on since it is a bit of a quiet song but it is that softness that makes it haunting and impactful.

video uploaded in youtube by Sharing Rock

If you get the chance, listen to the entire No Need to Argue album as it really is special. I am posting this now as my own personal (and very late) tribute to Dolores O'Riordon, the lead vocalist of The Cranberries, who passed away on January 15 this year. RIP, Dolores.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Siglo Suites at The Gramercy

The original plan was for my friends and I to have wine night at home. I had a few bottles of wine that I got over Christmas and I really wanted to enjoy them but I didn't want to drink them by myself LOL. We initially agreed on a venue and a date that I recommended but after all the arrangements were made, I realized I was had another commitment. Yes, on the same night that I recommended. We ended up changing the plan and we instead decided to stay overnight at a three-bedroom suite in Siglo Suites at The Gramercy.

view of the living area and a bit of the dining area from upstairs

I wrote previously that it took 1 1/2 hours for me to get checked in. Obviously I was in a foul mood the moment I got into the room. Thankfully, it was really nice and I think that helped improve my mental state. The 3BR suite is a loft with one bedroom on the bottom floor and 2 bedrooms upstairs. Each bedroom has a queen-sized bed. The suite has three bathrooms (the two rooms upstairs have direct bathroom access), a laundry room, and a good-sized kitchen with a big refrigerator. There are also seven small balcony areas.

view of the city at night from one of the seven balconies

As I also mentioned previously, there is direct access from The Gramercy to Century City Mall on the 2nd floor. We decided to have dinner at Le Petit Souffle because I told my friends that I really wanted to have dessert there. I ended up having a double souffle evening. For my main course, I ordered the Japanese Beef Curry Souffle. It looked really appetizing and it did taste good but I think I prefer Japanese curry with rice than in a souffle.

Japanese Beef Curry Souffle at Le Petit Souffle

For dessert, I was tempted to try a different souffle from the one I had before but I decided to still order the Valrhona Guanaja Souffle again. Thankfully, it was still as amazingly good as I remembered it.

Valrhona Guanaja Souffle

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying wine and playing games. This was the first time I recall having a Barolo, which I bought from a friend of mine who had lots of good wines at home but had to dispose of them because she was moving to another country. I knew that the Barolo is reputed to be one of Italy's best wines so despite it being on the expensive side, I decided to get one bottle for myself. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype and I enjoyed it. On the gaming side, we started out with Splendor in the afternoon. In the evening, we played Exploding Kittens with the Imploding Kittens expansion and Codenames Philippine Edition before going a bit more high tech and playing Jackbox.

Funny thing: I got stressed out checking in then again when checking out. I was told upon check-out that there was a missing hair dryer. They said there was supposed to be one hair dryer per bathroom but upon checking, one bathroom was supposedly missing a dryer. Obviously, none of us took anything. Thankfully, someone took a video of the entire place, including all the rooms, and the shot of one of the bathrooms showed that there was no hair dryer there. I showed this to the reception and they finally checked me out. Whew.

Given the not-so-great experience I had during check-in and check-out, I guess the question is, would I stay here again? I think I would. I just need to make sure I sort out where to park because as I mentioned in a previous post, there are no cheap parking options when checking into Siglo Suites. I guess the positive side of having a challenging check-in was that I got free parking at the basement as compensation. :)

Monday, February 26, 2018

21 out of 27

After my major board game buying spree last year, I now have a total of 27 main board games. I also have 7 expansions for 5 of my games (2 expansions for Istanbul, 2 expansions for King of Tokyo, and one each for Potion Explosion, Scythe, and Splendor). As soon as I got to 27, I promised myself not to purchase new games until I've played all of the games I currently have (or okay, play at least 90% of the games I have). I just did a count and I realized that I have now played 21 of my 27 base games, which puts me at 75%. That's quite good, considering that most of these were purchased only last year. The percentage is not too good when it comes to my expansions though; I have so far only played 2 of the 7.

My plan now is that each month, I should play at least one of my unplayed games or expansions. Last month, it was Valeria Card Kingdoms. This month, it is Tokaido. I have actually played Tokaido many times before but I hadn't played the game that I bought. That is, until the game night we had at Denise's house. We played it at the end of the evening so that we could wind down with an easy game that doesn't require a lot of thinking (I find Tokaido to be enjoyable and even relaxing to play). There were seven of us at Denise's place that night and we got to play quite a few games, including Istanbul with my Letters and Seals expansion (this allowed me to go up to 2 out of 7 in my expansions list). I also got to play Azul for the first time. Most of the evening was spent explaining the rules of, and playing, Terraforming Mars and Scythe. Scythe is really one of my favorite games right now, and the fact that I have never won in all the games I've played means that I really like it for its game play and not for my success in playing it. :)

Istanbul with the Letters and Seals expansion (photo courtesy of my friend Jovan)

Pretty much the same group played Scythe the week before, during the game night at Cla's place. The target that night was to play either games we had that we hadn't played yet or that games we wanted to play that we hadn't played yet. JM bought his Scythe months ago and hadn't played it yet so it was the priority game that night. Because the rules are a bit complex, it took a while for people to get the hang of it. By the time they did, the game was ending so we decided to play it again the following week at Denise's to maximize the learning and so people could enjoy it a bit more. Cla also suggested that we play Concordia, which I had played before with Jovan and Myna but we played it incorrectly so Jovan wanted to play it again. I also got to play a couple of quick two-player games. One of them was Onitama which is like chess and the other was Patchwork. As aesthetically pleasing as the Patchwork game is, I actually like Onitama a lot more.

The cool thing about this last month was that I also got to play Clue for the first time since may high school days. (Technically, it was my first time to play Clue because the game I played as a teenager was Cluedo although the only difference is that apparently the game is called Clue in North America while it is called Cluedo in the rest of the world). For some reason, I had actually been thinking about getting a copy of this game recently because I wanted to play it again. When my ex-teammates and I had our reunion, some of the folks suggested that we bring games. I brought Splendor and Monopoly Deal and my friend Case brought Sushi Go Party and Clue. Talk about a very interesting coincidence. We naturally ended up playing Clue first and I actually won both games that we played. I gotta say, I still really enjoy this game.

My first win: Mrs. Peacock in the Conservatory with a Candlestick

I also finally got to play Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game. I had been really interested to play this game for a while now since I keep hearing about it from friends. The cool thing about this game is that it has a cooperative game element to it in that all players need to defeat the Mastermind and the rest of the villains and this can only be done by working together. However, at the end of the game, there will still be a winner based on who amassed the most points. We played the X-Men expansion and we fought against the Dark Phoenix and we unfortunately lost. I now really want to play Legendary again, and hopefully beat the Mastermind.

Hopefully, when I write about my board gaming in March, I will already be at 22 out of 27. :)