The Sunbaked King

Sumosam

What? Japanese Cuisine

Where? Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Center

Jel and I were craving for something Japanese last Friday night. Jel initially thought of Saisaki, but we immediately discarded the idea. Eat-all-you-can is NOT something we intended to participate in. Our bulging tummies were already carrying two separate ecosystems, and those should be enough. In any case, when the lengthy discussion over food finally ended, we were still choosing between two restaurants: Red Kimono or Sumosam. Our laziness got the better of us, so we headed out to nearby Powerplant to eat at the latter.

Let’s break it down:

Food. Jel, wanting soup, ordered the Sukiyaki. We were shocked by the pot when it came. It was big enough to feed a family of five. It would have been good enough to feed me by my lonesome had it been delicious, but it was too sweet for me. The shiitake mushrooms were splendid, though, but I couldn’t get them without getting some of the cloying soup sweetness in.

The Crunchy Squid Teriyaki, on the other hand, had “sweet” in its right place. Do you know those spicy red dilis foodies sealed in small plastic packets and sold in sari-sari stores everywhere? The squid teriyaki tasted exactly like those, and I was immensely satisfied munching on them.

It would seem like the sukiyaki and the squid teriyaki were the end of it, but no, those were just Jel’s orders.

I ordered the ones I immediately thought were “safe.” You most definitely can’t go wrong with bacon, and seafood has always been a perennial favorite, so I ordered two of those: Bacon-wrapped Dory and Bacon-wrapped Kani. The dory was succulent and very tender to eat; the crab was, as usual, superbly tasty. Two thumbs up for these two. (Oops: Not too fond of the teriyaki sauce, though. I never were.)

As a final course, I decided to try something new. Sumosam had unique offerings called Okunomiyaki or Japanese pancakes, available in three varieties: the all-seafood pancake (Tsukiji), the spam and mushroom pancake (Waikiki), and the chicken and pharma ham pancake (Ginza Glam– is this even Japanese?). I chose the all-seafood pancake, of course.

I wasn’t disappointed. The pancakes had a base made out of egg and something leafy, which normally would have sent the dish on Jel’s plate, but surprisingly, the egg and the seafood toppings masked the bitter taste of the vegetable. I ended up eating three-quarters of the dish. It’s not something you’ll be craving while you’re in the office, but, when served, it’s good enough to warrant another bite. And another. And another.

Ambiance. Normal. Nothing out of the ordinary. 

Service. Normal. Nothing out of the ordinary. (This happens when you’ve exhausted all your adjectives in describing the food. I’ll do better next time.)

Sumosam is a pricey place for a casual dinner; you better reserve those funds elsewhere. But if you’re already there, and you’re feeling adventurous, try the Japanese pancakes. They’re delightful. Don’t repeat our mistakes, though, especially if you’re just eating with a friend. Two dishes ARE enough.

Filed under: Gastronomy

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

It’s all about expectations. I expected WALL-E to be as fantastic as its direct predecessor Ratatouille, and it disappointed me. While the hype surrounding it wasn’t as phenomenal as, say, The Dark Knight, the hype I built for it was. Lesson learned (and learned again): Do not keep your expectations high.

And now we have Star Wars: The Movie That’s A Hybrid of Sorts, of Little Worth to Marketing Moguls Everywhere. Apparently, it wasn’t just I who had low expectations for the movie. Even George Lucas seemed to agree. Think about it. When I think of a George Lucas film, especially one with Star Wars in its title, I immediately think of three things: extensive media coverage before and after the movie’s shown, tie-ups with several food/beverage companies and fast-food establishments, and at least one reincarnation in console form. As far as I know, hype surrounding it was sparse (it’s definitely not E! News material); it’s not in any Happy Meal or Jolly Kiddie Meal I’ve seen; and the video game about it won’t be coming out until end of this year, months after the movie was first shown. 

It’s almost sad and pathetic. Almost, because I pretty much didn’t care. I wasn’t going to watch it, anyway.

Except that I did, upon the insistence of a roommate who thinks anything Star Wars must be good. Grudgingly, I went inside the theater, thinking I was in for a heartbreak.

For the first few minutes, I was smirking. Everything was happening as expected. First off: the way the characters were drawn didn’t appeal to me– the lines were drawn too sharp, and there were more angles to one’s face than there were in a duodecagon. Furthermore, despite their attempts to recreate the atmosphere of the “real” Star Wars films, it still felt like the movie was going another direction altogether. The dialogues were injected with humor uncharacteristic of previous installations; once this got going, the villains seemed out of place. Finally, there’s Ahsoka Tono, Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan. What an annoying character. Couldn’t they have come up with someone less irritating?

While Ahsoka failed to endear herself to me as the movie progressed, I found myself endeared by other things. Like the hooded Ewok-like creatures. Like the deadpan utterances of the droids. Like the adorable young Hutt the Jedis had to rescue. Once I let go of my early prejudices, I realized that I appreciated this film more than its “real” counterparts. For one, letting go of the dark undertones (the one which haunted Anakin Skywalker and Episode III so chokingly) proved to be a great move. It shifted the focus away from the characters (or should I say, that character) and back to the story. For another, the story itself was presented coherently. It was simple and concise, clean and well-polished.

Expectations, expectations. What I wanted to avoid watching turned out to be a good way to end a wonderful Friday night.

Filed under: Cinema, The Couch Potato

Single Guy Eats Breakfast

“It all began in Manila,” the menu in front of you starts to say. It does not finish its spiel, because your hand immediately flips the page to check the restaurant’s offerings. Your mind does a backflip, though, wondering what began in Manila– was it the first toasted bread? the first chocolate shake?– but your stomach groans to remind you who’s boss. You succumb to hunger. And there is a world of hunger.

When faced with choices that spell pleasure either way, the mind rarely hesitates. However, when faced with an objective restriction, say, finances, the mind steps back and assesses the situation. Once an assessment is done, and a choice is definitively chosen, the mind rests, but only for a second. It wonders what a particular choice would have felt like, what a particular choice would have been like. And if this line of thinking triumphs, a sense of depression sets in. There is a word for this. It is regret.

You regret that there are a lot of things in the menu that you can’t afford. Others, like the steak, are too fancy for your taste. Some, like the shakes, are too weird to even try. You want something simple, and clean, and delicious. You want something that can give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. You want something that can excite your senses and stir your emotions.

You settle for the breakfast sampler.

After having given the waitress your order, a group of girls catches your eye. They’re young; some of them may not have even experienced the tender claws of puberty. Not that the mess would matter, especially to these kids. You are pretty certain that their entourage of servants will be there by their side when that happens. 

You are about to return to your peaceful waiting when laughter suddenly erupts from their table. It’s refined laughter, the sort one hears from the Upper East Side girls of Gossip Girl. You glance over their direction. Their attention has been captured by something on the table. A picture. From their giggling, you immediately conclude that it’s a boy. Perhaps a kid their age, living in their village. Perhaps the next-door type, always ready to flash them a handsome smile.

Taken away from its solitude, your mind swerves into a different corner altogether.

You begin to wonder, what if you were that boy? What if one of the girls hosts a party and you get invited? What if, in that party, someone has spiked the punch? What if, at the end of the night, you find yourself face-to-face with the little hostess, tipsy as hell? What if you tentatively kiss her and she doesn’t let go? What if your hormones slam into overdrive? What if she leads you to her room? What if things happen that only the inside of your journal will learn about?

What if, a few months later, you learn that she’s pregnant? What if you and your parents are invited to a conference with her and her parents? What if they decide you should marry? What if you’re just barely in your teens? What if you don’t love her? What if she doesn’t love you? What if you just don’t want to be stuck with one sexual experience? What if she feels the same? What if, in the course of all this, you learn…

…that your food has arrived? You smile at the waitress in front of you, assure her that you’re okay, and thank her for the food. Holding a fork and a knife, you glance at the girls a final time.

Riiight. Not in your world, not in your lifetime.

When faced with an objective restriction, the mind hesitates. It begins to assess the situation to find a suitable answer to the problem. In this case, the mind has decided long before the restriction was faced. In fact, the restriction IS the decision.

Those girls aren’t in the menu in the first place.

With a smile on your face, you begin to devour the sausages and eggs in front of you.

Filed under: Fiction, Yes?, Sunshine

The Way Things Were

It’s 2:00 in the morning. 

If there’s one thing I don’t mind, it’s growing old. Left and right I hear people complaining that they’re getting older. I don’t particularly care. In fact, scratch that, I do care. I care because I relish it. Experience comes with age. With experience come lessons, and with lessons comes a renewed sense of self, a self you know knows better than the last one you had. Simple logic takes over from there. To become a better person, you need to learn more, and in order to learn more, you need to experience more, and in order to experience more, you need to have more time do it.

It’s 2:02 in the morning.

What is it that people fear about the passing of time? Do they fear the certainty of death? Or do they fear that life will pass them by without them having anything to show that they have lived it well? If you’re happy with how your life has turned out, you wouldn’t want to change it, or even freeze it in its tracks. You’d want to live more, and learn more, and experience more. You would want to make the most out of it. If, on the other hand, you’re unhappy with the way things are, the best thing to do is not to wish things back to the way they were. The best thing to do is to move forward and get these episodes done and over with.

It’s 2:14 in the morning.

But it’s so goddamn difficult, isn’t it? Sometimes, I long for a self I have lost along the way. Sometimes, I long for the innocence of an untainted youth. Sometimes, I long for the wonder of an untarnished love. Not every experience is worth experiencing, not every lesson is worth learning, not every self is worth being. But that’s the way it is. Once reality bites, it doesn’t let go. You’ll have to be the one to do it. Adapt. Change. Let go.

It’s 2:23 in the morning.

Turn off the lights. Strike a match. Light a candle. Face yourself in the mirror. Look at the self you are now. As the wax melts, remember the self you were before this. As the wax trickles down the length of the candle and burns your fingers, remember the pain that gave birth to the new you. For it is heartbreak, and sadness, and pain that change people. Before you blow the candle, take a good look at the person in front of you. Remember him. Remember now. 

Remember 2:30 in the morning.

And then let go.

Filed under: Eros, Ra

It’s My Birthday and I Can Cry If I Want To…

… but I’d rather not. Who would want to cry on their birthday, right? What I’d rather do is post some pictures of the shiny little things my generous friends gave me that day. To give sufficient justice to their awesomeness, I set up a little studio in my room consisting of a study lamp, an ironing board, and a white shirt. Yes, I attempted to take professional-looking photos of my gifts. Yes, I am that thankful. (And yes, I was on leave from work when I took these.)

The Wallet 

The wallet I owned prior to this had a wonderful texture and a simple design which I loved. Unfortunately, it had one small problem. I think it was made for some other country’s currency. No matter how much I tried to force them in, the bills just wouldn’t fit. I would still have to fold them in half before they could be properly placed, and I hated doing that. One tug, and all the bills came tumbling out. Needless to say, this new wallet’s a real blessing. You just shaved a few stress-related wrinkles off my face, Jel. Thanks.

The Belt

This is an accessory I’ve been wanting to buy for sometime now but never had the chance to do so because 1) it kept slipping down my priority to-buy list, and 2) nobody gets too see it anyway. Honestly, I’ve never found belts to be that useful. If you were to buy pants that fit, you wouldn’t have much use for it, would you? The ironic thing is, I do have pants that don’t fit, and besides, I’ve found wearing belts and taking them off to be tremendously sexy. I have no idea why. Honestly.

The Belt, Part Deux

Fate agrees with me. It gave me two belts. Belts must be REALLY sexy. Thanks for this, Chris.

The Baggage Tag

You know how confusing the airport can be. One time you’re dragging your cart in peace, the next you’re trying to zigzag yourself to safety. And of course, there’s the Conveyor Belt of Long Wait. It’s Murphy’s Law all over again. No matter what you do, you’ll always find that you’ll have to wait longer than the people beside you. And there’s a big chance you’ll miss picking up your stuff the first time it hits the Belt. Good thing I got this baggage tag from my office friends. That’s one less way for you to create havoc, you evil Murphy you.

The Hoodie Shirt

Thanks to Charline, I got my first hoodie shirt. Yay! I tried it on today and it looked absolutely kick-ass. I didn’t exactly put on the hood (I didn’t want to mess up the intricately gelled hair), but it still looked great unused. And for the curious: “IN SCOUTING.” That’s what it says. “WANT TO SEE WHAT I LEARNED IN SCOUTING.” You of dirty minds. Tsk, tsk.

The Kuffiyeh

Or global warmer or fancy scarf or whatever it’s called. My office friends knew about me (secretly) wanting to own one, and they indulged me. I don’t know where or when I’ll be able to wear this, what shirt to go with it, and what pants to go with that, but it’s nice to know I have this option. The Philippines will be colder, people. Trust me.

And finally:

The iPod Touch

Haha. Not really. They gave me the case. I just recently bought a GelaSkin for my Touch, thinking it was just the thing I needed to hide the scratch-infested back. I didn’t realize that they would be getting me this. I’m not regretting my Skin purchase, though, since the design’s fantastic. This gift just added a whole new layer of protection for my little baby. 

For all those who made my birthday as special as it was, thank you very much. Gifts or no gifts, I’m just glad I’m living another year with you guys. 

Now on to the 25th year! 🙂

 

Filed under: Sunshine, Vanity

WALL-E

BEHIND THE LINE

WALL-E

It was middle of the year last year when movie theaters started showing the trailer for WALL-E. I distinctly remember the first trailer they used, primarily because it didn’t mention WALL-E until the end of it. In the trailer, a voiceover was describing where Pixar‘s greatest film hits were first conceptualized: over lunch in a quaint little restaurant, among workmates who also happened to be friends.

One by one, the voiceover narrated how each film came to be. Monster’s, Inc. happened because the makers envisioned a world where monsters actually thrived on children’s nightmares; The Incredibles became the result of a consensus that a family with superhero abilities would be interesting to watch; and Finding Nemo got the green light as soon as Dory entered the conversation. All this thinking probably happened between handfuls of fries and spoonfuls of ice cream. And between the potato wedge and the salad, Pixar’s bright minds thought of a lonely robot…

Scene fades to black, WALL-E appears on the screen against a backdrop of stars and sky, and the robotic drone follows: “WALL-EEEEEEE…”

I loved each and every film that came out from that restaurant. The prospect of WALL-E being One of Those Films chilled me. In a good way. That intriguing drone, that cool title font, and the special trailer for it all added to the hype that was building inside me. When Metacritic gave the movie a 93, I was thrilled; they gave Ratatouille a 96, and that particular Pixar film was my favorite. Needless to say, it dismayed me to no end when cinemas here pushed the release to a later date.

I finally got to watch it yesterday. Thanks to Jel‘s amazing foresight, we got prime seats on WALL-E’s first day of showing. We bought ourselves the tickets, a bucket of popcorn, and a couple of drinks, and we were set. I went inside the cinema prepared to be blown away. 

And maybe that’s where the problem started. I expected a fantastic film, full of heart and yet full of fun, and on the basis of my spectacular expectations, WALL-E failed to deliver. Don’t get me wrong– Pixar outdid itself once again with the visuals. The landscape they created was nothing short of breathtaking, even if most of it was made of trash. And WALL-E himself was one of a kind. Pixar has a penchant of breathing life into the most inanimate things or most disgusting creatures to ever walk the Earth (or space), and WALL-E is no exception. Endearingly human in thought and mannerism, WALL-E is as adorable as any cute inquisitive human kid can get.

But in order to make a good set of gears into a great machine, careful thought must be placed into their relative position with each other. One part must complement the next. In this case, the bind that must hold the endearing characters together with the fantastic landscape they live in is a tight plot, a story that’s believable enough for you to be able to empathize with the actors and the plight they’re experiencing. After all, it’s man’s love for excess and utter disregard for the environment that we’re talking about here. With the current global issues surrounding us these days, the topic should be interesting enough.

Unfortunately, the story was poorly executed. Since the film’s fairly recent, I won’t divulge any details about the plot, but for the most part, it left me struggling to understand. For me, it felt like the makers focused too much on making the characters as heartwarming as possible, thinking that it would be enough to draw the audience in. It wasn’t. In fact, the lack of a coherent plot distracted me from enjoying the characters as much as I should have. I just wish they gave me more to work with.

It says something for the film when Jel and I walk out of the theater without giving it much discussion. We didn’t talk about WALL-E until today, almost 24 hours later.

Filed under: Cinema, The Couch Potato

My Sassy Girl

BEHIND THE LINE

My Sassy Girl

Jesse Bradford and Elisha Cuthbert

My Sassy Girl is one of my favorite Asian films of all time. I remember watching the movie in my dorm room, remember laughing hard, remember sighing, remember muttering “Awww…”, remember weeping. Pachelbel’s Canon in D suddenly dug itself a special place in my heart and in my consciousness. For weeks that I heard that melody play, I got transported back to the time when I watched the movie, and it always brought back a certain feeling of sadness, and a deep sense of longing. Even Jimmy Bondoc‘s version of “I Believe” did not elicit hate. It just added to the Sassy Girl nostalgia.

My Sassy Girl is one of my least favorite American remakes of Asian films of all time. I remember watching the movie in a theater, remember spending P171 pesos for a film that did not deserve it, remember being forced to care, remember sighing for all the wrong reasons, remember muttering “What?”, remember wanting to already go home. Pachelbel’s Canon in D still held a special place in my heart, because my heart refused to let that movie spoil that melody. Typing this review brought back a certain feeling of sadness for not getting a second dose of Sassy Girl nostalgia, and a deep sense of longing for money lost. Only Elisha Cuthbert failed to elicit hate; she was, I thought, great.

Now if only everything else followed suit.

Filed under: Cinema, The Couch Potato

This Day in History

On August 13, 1984, around 9:00 AM, a wonderful woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy. From all accounts (all accounts = mother + doting nurse), he was the cutest kid that ever graced their presence EVAH. He had delicate fair skin, and curly brown hair. I don’t know whether he cried when his underdeveloped eyes first glimpsed the light of day; I don’t know if he bawled his eyes out when the doctor slapped his buttocks; I don’t even know if there was any buttock-slapping at all. How could I? That woman was my mother. That boy was me.

Here I am, 24 years later. Proud of who I’ve become, and grateful for the people around me.

Happy birthday, indeed.

Filed under: Ra, Vanity

Another “Four” Entry

After the sad and mad entries, a little bit of fun is in order. 🙂 [Thanks to JM for the tag. Ngayon lang nagkaoras, hehe.]

4 PLACES I GO TO OVER AND OVER

Aside from the office and the house:

Starbucks 6750, Ayala Avenue
 Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Center
Glorietta Mall, Ayala Avenue
Seattle’s Best Coffee, Katipunan Avenue

I’m a Makati boy, except when I’m studying, in which case, Ateneo lures me back. (I’m also a coffee boy. Obviously.)

4 PLACES I’D LIKE TO GO TO OVER AND OVER

New category. Di ko matiis.

Eastwood City, Libis
The Fort, Taguig City
Metrowalk, Ortigas
Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan

My happy places. If only I had a car, I would frequent these places more.

 4 PEOPLE WHO EMAIL ME REGULARLY

Again, aside from those in the office:

Jeland
JM
Papa
Chris

Chris, sinama na kita. Prediction and order yan.

4 OF MY FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT

KFC
Jollibee
Bacolod Chicken Inasal/Mang Inasal/Chicken Bacolod and other permutations of the terms herein
Top Meal

Top Meal is the local carinderia near our house. It defeats McDonald’s in diversity, and even trumps it in taste. (Can you tell I’m not such a big fan of McDonald’s? There aren’t really that many options past breakfast, and the spaghetti they serve is a bland abomination.)

4 OF MY FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT WHEN I HAVE MORE MONEY THAN USUAL

 Okay, another new category. But there’s a difference between what you do and what you want to do, no?

Heaven and Eggs
Fish and Co.
Pepato
The Taipan

Now, back to regular programming.

4 PLACES I’D RATHER BE

This list is in order.

Norway + Sweden + Finland
 New Zealand
California, USA
Davao City, Philippines 

Norway is the most livable country in the world, so its Scandinavian neighbors are probably just as livable. New Zealand is famous for zorbing, an activity I’ve been wanting to try since I saw it on The Amazing Race. As for Davao… there’s no place like home, right?

4 TV SHOWS I COULD WATCH OVER AND OVER AGAIN

Friends
 Coupling UK
One Tree Hill
 The Amazing Race

I watched the first three shows in my dorm room in college, which make them memorable to watch again and again. (A little shout-out to Joey on the One Tree Hill tidbit! Debbie rocks.)

4 PEOPLE I THINK WILL RESPOND

Joey
Ella
Toj
Kenneth

You know the rules. 50-year celibacy penalty for non-compliance. I don’t mind being celibate, since I’m all for priesthood and all…

Filed under: ...And Others

This is Ridiculous: The iPhone 3G Scandal

I’ve been wanting to buy the iPhone since I first viewed the commercial for it way back last year. Simply put, I was amazed. The product remains true to the Apple brand: intuitive and sleek, without sacrificing on the functionality and vastness of the features. Needless to say, my eyes were set on buying the nifty little thing. However, since the gadget wasn’t available here yet, I decided to hold out on spending and stuck with my Samsung D900 phone, instead. (Which has served me tremendously well, by the way.)

Imagine my excitement when Globe Telecoms announced that it was getting the rights to release the iPhone later this year. Said excitement escalated when I learned two things: 1) the iPhone was going to be released with 3G capability and 2) Apple was selling it for half the price of the original. 

But now, this.

Are you FREAKING insane?! The 8 GB variant of the iPhone 3G sells for $199. That’s roughly P10,000, even less. Of course, conversions are always a tricky thing; one should never convert. So I expected Globe to do a gigantic mark-up, like say, P20,000. Or if they’re really wanting to milk the demand for all its worth, maybe until P30,000. But P40,000+? This is ridiculous.

With a single price, Globe has managed to betray Steve Jobs’s vision and its own. P40,000 won’t make Apple accessible to each Filipino consumer. P40,000 won’t “make great things possible.” P40,000 won’t make us “tight.” P40,000 will make you poor, will make you shake your head in disappointment, will make you seethe in rage, and will make you spend around an hour composing a blog entry to convey said poverty, disappointment, and rage.

Bad move, Globe.

Filed under: Gadgetry