Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Before the Internet, There Were Books

Being a huge nerd and bookworm, reading has always been one of my favorite pastimes, and books are something that I've always felt I had something relevant to say about. And seeing as Pearl did a music-themed post, I thought I would answer back with a post about my most recommended reads. To our readers who know how to enjoy a good book now and again, here are five of my most favorite books/book series that I would very much suggest reading. Enjoy!

Inheritance Cycle
“It's impossible to go through life unscathed. Nor should you want to. By the hurts we accumulate, we measure both our follies and our accomplishments.” 
― Christopher PaoliniInheritance

The Inheritance Cycle, in my opinion, is one of the best book series there is in the fantasy genre. At first glance it really just sounds like your typical story with magic, elves, dwarves, and a young unlikely hero destined to save the world from an evil king. However, read a little more and you would eventually realize that this world is entirely separate from LOTR or any other fantasy series you can think of, sporting its own fascinating rules on allegiance and the power of simple words. Really, this is one of those "you'd have to read it yourself" cases, because I cannot and will not try to condense four great books into a short, terrible summary.

Why I recommend it:
Anyone one who knows me would know that fantasy stories are some of my most favorite books to read. I first bought Eragon on a whim in high school and have since the first page been hooked into this whole new world that is Alagaesia. More than just an amazing read, though, the Inheritance Cycle, or more specifically Christopher Paolini, is one of the biggest inspirations to me because he has accomplished something that I could only ever hope to do. Paolini first wrote Eragon when he was just 15 years old; by 19, he was already an internationally acclaimed author. 4 books later and he has finished his "practice book" as well as cemented himself as one of the best fantasy authors in the world, showing that you can be successful at any age if you just have skills and determination. For anyone who wants some writing tips and tricks, you can see him sharing his experiences on Twitter with the handle InheritanceCP.

Les Miserables
“A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.” 
― Victor HugoLes Misérables

I remember calling Les Miserables as the first ever romance book that I really enjoyed reading. I don't even know where to begin trying to make a summary of this story, because it is so complex and expertly weaved together that each character has a great story to tell on his own. I would say that this book is all about love: patriotic love for country, the pure love of a mother, fearless love for God, the powerful love between two paired souls, and even a twisted love for justice that could end up corrupting a man. Love, yeah, let's go with that.

Why I recommend it: 
Veering away from my terrible attempt at summarizing this classic, I recommend reading Les Miserables because it is brilliant, simple as that. I confess that the book I borrowed from a friend stayed for quite a few months inside my backpack, but when I eventually got down to reading through it, I found myself awed and genuinely touched. Believe you me, you'll get emotional too when you read of *spoiler* how an abused little girl gets her first real doll.*end spoiler* Having said this, I suggest reading the unabridged version because from what I've read, there are a lot of good bits removed in the abridged version.
The Solitaire Mystery“How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.” 
― Jostein GaarderThe Solitaire Mystery

The Solitaire Mystery follows the story of a young boy and his dad as they trek across Europe in search of the little boy's mother. Along the way, the boy receives a tiny book baked inside a sticky bun, which relates a colorful tale involving fate, rainbow fishes, and a particularly temperamental deck of cards. How these all tie up together with reality is the real mystery, and what an exciting mystery it is! 

Why I recommend it: 
Gaarder shows just how clever he is by weaving together this impressive story-within-a-story-within-a-story book. In contrast to Sophie's World, this is less of a history-slash-philosophy lesson and more of a fun puzzle to tear apart and put together. My warning to you is that it can get pretty confusing, especially when you miss out on little details that matter later on in the story. Well worth it, though!

To Kill a Mockingbird“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” 
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

This book is definitely my favorite classic out of them all. In this coming-of-age story, readers get to look through the eyes of Jean Louis "Scout" Finch and see how she grows up along  with her brother Jem in a world full of mysterious neighbors, widespread racism, and an ultimately flawed justice system. To kill a mockingbird is a sin, the reader will ultimately learn, because mockingbirds don't really do anything except to make music and "sing their hearts out to us".

Why I recommend it:
I don't know how Harper Lee did it, but she made me feel incredibly nostalgic about a childhood that I didn't really experience. Her story telling is so genuine and timeless that whether you read this tomorrow or 50 years from now, you would always be taken back to the past where being colored is a bigger crime than rape and child abuse. This book shares great morals on being equal, having integrity, and all in all just being decent human beings no matter what day and age you may have been born in. If you haven't read it yet, do it now.

CRAP“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb..." he murmured.
I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.
What a stupid lamb," I sighed.
What a sick, masochistic lion.” 
― Stephenie MeyerTwilight

Ahhh, Twilight. With the movie series just coming to an end, I figured it would be apt for me to add this particular book series to this list. This book is included for the simple fact that I want people to realize one thing: if Stephanie Meyer managed to get rich out of something like Twilight, then there's hope for anyone out there who has a half-baked idea and a reliable spell checker.  This and this alone makes Meyer a very inspirational person, because despite how many people absolutely hate Twilight, Meyer's still probably laughing along wiping her butt with dollar bills. What do you haters say now?

Why I recommend it:
I DON'T. For the record, I actually have read the series--skimmed, to be more accurate-- so I can talk smack about it all I want. Bella is so whiny in the first book that I actually got drunk reading a few chapters (yay puns!), and it didn't really pick up from there. Let's not even talk about how the ending to this series was the most boring, anti-climactic scene I've ever read, and that's saying something because it had to go against the encyclopedia for that distinction. I'm just bashing now, yes, but Meyer turned vampires, one of the toughest, meanest monsters in the world into shiny, sparkling fairies. This is UNFORGIVABLE. 

Also, 50 Shades of Grey. Enough said.

Do you have any suggestions for a good (or bad) read? Feel free to comment, like, share on Facebook, or something. In fact, please do. (^(oo)^)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

If Only Real Life Has a Soundtrack As Well

Music is an area I've never considered writing about. For the longest time, I've thought of it as a weak spot for me.  I’m not saying that my taste level has now reached an all-time high, but at least I have broadened my  playlist beyond mainstream pop and R&B. Much of the credit goes to my sister, who pesters me to download for the two of us thus, keeping me on my toes to update my playlist from time to time.

There's probably so much great music and artists I have yet to discover so to be on the safe side, I’ll limit myself to writing about movie soundtracks that have earned a lot of plays in my list. Since these movies are fairly popular, everyone has got to have a song or two saved in theirs. For easy listening, just click on the play button at the bottom of the screen. (It's purple, so you can't miss it.)

I love how she makes me feel, like anything's possible,
or like life is worth it.
I've never really given notice to the soundtracks played in movies until this one, so it should only be fitting that this OST comes first. Up to this point, I've been pretty much sucked into mainstream culture, as finding quality music requires a little more effort. This album definitely had given my iTunes a much needed updating.  All of the songs are worth the download purchase but for movie reference, the most popular track is from The Smiths (song below), which was played during the elevator scene (album cover). I've never even heard of the Smiths before but what JGL likes, scripted or not, I'll be sure to follow. Haha!

My favorites: There Is A Light That Never Goes Out- The SmithsSweet Disposition, Mushaboom, Vagabond

Well, you're two penises short of a Shania
Twain reimagination band!
Nick & Norah's INFINITE PLAYLIST. 'Nuff said. If the OST blows, then what's the whole point?

Unlike 500 Days, which offers a more subdued, happy, indie music (I think?), Nick and Norah's tracks are more of rock alternative. So if you're looking for a bit of noise that's not actually deafening, maybe you'll like this one.

My favorites: Lover- Devendra Banhart Middle Management, Riot Radio

Paulie Bleeker: I still have your underwear.
Juno MacGuff: I still have your virginity.
Well, who doesn't like this movie? And who doesn't think the soundtrack's cute? Remember the last scene? So cute. It's more of a teenage girl playlist but the protagonist is  your typical  teenage girl, only pregnant (which makes her all the more typical). Lots of cutesy (Yes, I said it thrice, but it is!), happy vibes coming your way.

My favorites: Anyone Else But You- The Moldy PeachesSea of Love, Tree Hugger

Ruby Sparks Soundtrack List
I'm sorry for every word I wrote to change you,
I'm sorry for so many things.

Fine, I admit I'm kind of cheating on this one because I only know one song and it's French! Hell, I don't even know what the song is about but I love it! When it was played during the scene streaks of zombie watching, arcade gaming, and club dancing, I swear it was love at first sound. I might have gone overboard and way cheesier than usual on this one, but you get the point. I can never get enough of this song! I had it on repeat for an entire day after watching the movie. (Don't) take it from me, the album's worth listening to. Must remember to get the entire playlist though.

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.
From someone who had no expectations and no idea what the movie is all about except that it was a coming-of-age film, The Perks took me by surprise. Big surprise. I laughed, I cried,  and didn't even care what I looked like coming out of the cinema. I especially admired how they threaded on the sensitive eewie parts by showing restraint as not to make it too heavy.

Listening to the soundtrack just brings me back to the feel-good air of the movie. Even if you haven't watched it, the soundtrack's still pretty amazing. It also features a track from The Smiths.

My favorites: Come On Eileen- Dexys Midnight Runners, Heroes, Asleep

I'm a little worried about Edward... 
Can vampires go in to shock?
Don't judge me just yet. Though the movie saga kinda sucks, the soundtracks have great music in them. They have songs from some pretty popular artists by the likes of Muse, Linkin Park, Paramore, Deathcab for Cutie and other underrated bands. Admittedly, I have four of the soundtracks, excluding BD Part 2 (emphasis on the soundtracks and not the movies).

My favorites: Flightless Bird, American Mouth- Iron & WineMeet Me on the Equinox, Supermassive Black Hole

Still in search of awesome music. Share some if you have. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunset Limitations? Bayaran Niyo Laing Ko!

Recently, I had the misfortune of getting my first ever crappy airplane experience. Long story short, there was much turbulence, a cancelled flight due to "sunset limitations", and incredibly horrible customer service all around. It was interesting enough to warrant an errant blog post, and I am personally surprised that things like this actually happen on a daily basis. Still, in the spirit of being tactful enough not to bash any person or company, I  am not going to be mentioning any names in this one;  I will however say that the airline rhymes with "Best Fair" and that the name makes me think of oranges and lemons.     

By all means, I am not an experienced flyer, but here are some tips I can give to whoever is crazy enough to take them and a few realizations.

Ticket prices for airplanes change by the minute. 

This one is probably as helpful as I can get, so for anyone actually expecting real advice you can pretty much stop reading right after this one. I don't have the slightest clue on how airplane ticket prices go, but from my experience, a P98 ticket one day can become P4000 within a span of a few hours, which explains how I ended up with "Best Fair" in the first place. If you want to get cheap tickets for a good airline, plan way ahead, always be on the lookout for crazy sales, and never ever fly with "Best Fair".

Despite how realistic it may look, that pig is just a product of my insane photoshop skills. 

Angry customers are craaaazy.

Here's a short list of the people who completely freaked out when our flight was cancelled:

  • A staff member of "Be Careful With My Heart" who had props for a Magnolia commercial set for the next day. Living proof that most angry gay men can be quite intimidating and fluent when mad. Don't know what happened to him, but I hope he made it in time for his appointment.   
  • "Tito" and company. This was an older gentleman who simply could not wait to talk to the manager that he ducked into the hole meant only for check-in bags. It almost turned  really ugly when security stepped in while his niece and nephew were trying to get him back out. Quotable quote: "Pasukin mo si Tito!" 
  • Mayon groupie and high blood chick. One of my fellow Mt. Mayon picture-takers (who waited about 3 hours just for the crater to peek out from behind the clouds) apparently has a sister with some high blood pressure problems. Said sister was eventually rushed to the hospital, no thanks to the sluggish response of the "Best Fair" crew.
Cebu Pacific ground crew saying bye-bye!
  • Maalala Mo Kaya media guy. He was the one who was obviously trying to stir things just to get good news material.  He was also the one responsible for calling in the press. He was absolutely no help at all, in my opinion.
  • Laing group. *See below.
Bring Bigg's. 

An announcement of a cancelled flight always results to a stampede of furious customers. If you don't want your blood to boil and want to just watch from the sidelines, just do what I did and clutch some Bigg's takeout to your chest. With the aroma of delicious chicken and burgers wafting up into my nose, I was the calmest person in the room and was able to patiently wait until the angry customers managed to shout us into free lodging and a free rebooking. Bigg's is just that awesome.

Bigg's Diner - Philippines
The best stress reliever ever.

A "Laing Refund" needs to be mandatory for airlines.

Apparently, one group that I was scheduled to fly with bought and cooked an assortment of seafood as well as some Laing to take to Manila as "pasalubong". Obviously some people with a sense of humor, their joking scream of "Bayaran niyo ang laing namin" was the funniest moment of my whole experience. I'm no expert, but I think that this just further proves that flyers with food are generally more relaxed than those without.

As for the Laing group? I ended up taking a group picture with them and sharing a hotel room with one of them.

The last piece of advice I would give is to try out every other airline before booking with "Best Fair". Sometimes, you are going to have to stick to a rigid schedule, and by booking with a consistently unreliable airline (I checked online), you are taking a HUGE risk which is way more trouble than it's worth. I have come up with hopefully the newest tagline for this wonderful airlines: "Come fly with Zest Air 'Best Fair', but I'm telling you, the plane is never there!"