June 28, 2007

Party til Dawn: Summer Solstice 2007

On Saturday, June 23, Summer Solstice took place in the Kimmel Center from 3 p.m. until dawn of the next day celebrating the summer season with tarot readings, music, and coffee.

This is the 3rd time I've attended this event and I haven't been disappointed; and each time I went there were always sometime new to see and experience. And this time it was extra special because this was the first time that my friend and I stayed until dawn of the next day. We stayed awake for 15 hours to celebrate summer and roamed around downtown Philly at night (Center City is pretty safe compared to other parts of Philly).

I'm not surprised that I was able to stay up: years of writing, typing, finishing up essays and research papers at SHU's 24-hours computer lounge have trained me to accomplish such feat. Also on this day, I tried a Vietnamese Iced coffee, which possibly could have aided me as well.

The entrance fee is $10 BUT since my dad works for UPenn (one of the sponsors), we got in for free. One of the great things about this type of event is that there are multiple events/acts going on at the same time, so you have a choice of what to do (most people wouldn't exactly have the same experience unless they go to the same things).

First we watched a dance performance from an Aztec group called Ollin Yoliztli Calmecac. The dance they did was pre-hispanic type. There were a lot of drums, clay flute, and concha shell. Their dance was a paean to the four elements in the universe: wind, fire, earth and water. They wore costumes plated with faux-gold and head-dresses made of peacock and quail tail feathers.

Then we attended the Hip H'Opera. This is a fusion of poetry and opera. Poems, written by underprivileged teenagers from not so-good neighborhoods in Philly, were adapted into opera songs with accompaniment. There were instances when the poem was better than the musical adaptation and vice versa. There were some that were successfully synthesized. I like the song about the grandma, the poems about 'there's no place like home,' and 'mute.'

We listened to singer/songwriter Cynthia G. Mason, and jazz group Dena Underwood Trio.

One of the beauties of this type of event is being able to go in and out of the building. Even though my friend and I stayed up til dawn, we didn't stay inside the Kimmel Center straight for fifteen hours. Around 9 p.m. my friend and I split up. I went to a birthday party in South Philly, and my friend went clubbing. We met up again at midnight.

There were fashion shows, speed dating, drag shows and tarot card readings. In the past I always missed the chance of having my tarot "cards" read so this year it was one of my main goals. Before meeting up, I checked to see how long the line was for the tarot readings... at first it looked like the line was too long so I left... later when my friend and I returned around 2 a.m. the line diminished tremendously (by 80%) so I sat and waited (caught my breath, rested).

There was only one more couple in front of me before it was my turn... and then the tarot readers announced that they were only going to read one more person: in my mind I was like "on my gosh, I'm so close, I waited for an hour and half, I can't believe I'm going to miss the opportunity again and there's only one (ONE) couple in front of me"--- I did the next best thing I can think of... I started talking in the hopes of getting some pity/sympathy votes...

I found my listeners... their names were Vernel and Katherine, complete strangers... they started spreading the word that the tarot readers will only do one more reading... I started telling them my story (about me attending the Summer solstice in the past and always missing the tarot card sessions, and how this time was the first time that I stayed all the way through til dawn). Vernel and Katherine were very sympathetic, they urged me on/egg me on and suggested to me to tell the tarot reader my "story". They reminded me to "believe" and to at least try... at least I would do my "part" (no regrets on myself for not trying).

Maybe it was the fact that it was 3 a.m., (the possibilities seem endless at 3 in the morning) so I started thinking... maybe the positive vibes would be noticed by the tarot reader... maybe I can send him a telepathic plea so I asked Vernel and Katherine if they could help me with my telepathic plea... I think he heard it... I was rubbing my temples and focusing really hard... the tarot reader turned around, looked at me and smiled... after the couple, he agreed to do one last reading and it was me...

Tarot reading
I don't know whether to believe it or not... whether tarot readers always point out the positive (because maybe it's good for business)... whether it's too general that "anyone" and everyone can take something from it/interpret it, apply it to their own lives... I came to a realization that in tarot readings, the listener is also part of the conspiracy (they're the ones that apply--whatever is revealed--it to their lives)... they shuffle the cards/ cut the deck, they ask the questions... I listened intently to what the tarot reader said and I was surprised at how close he was to the happenings in my life... I was taken aback when he told me that I could ask him 5 questions... I had one question that I wanted to ask and the rest were fillers (instead of using these wisely I asked questions that were already answered/revealed)... I was just glad that the tarot reader gave me his time (I told him my story)...

my tarot reading session ended around 4, which meant that I had an hour left before the drum session began... I found Vernel and Katherine and told them about my session... they were happy for me, we chatted a bit about coincidences and each other's background... I went to talk to my friend, and when I came back down to see what Vernel and Katherine were doing, they weren't in the lounge area anymore... they disappeared... maybe they were angels? or maybe I just needed sleep?

the only complaint I had was that around 4 a.m. certain areas were closed and there were few activities left mainly listening to trance and techno music... I wanted to walk around the Kimmel Center and look at the artworks... 4 a.m. is the perfect time to look at art and contemplate, one's mind is so clear, alert, focus and empty that one can better study the artworks....

at 5 in the morning, I was still conscious... the Sunrise Drum Circle began... I didn't have a drum so I just used a book, the people with drums formed a circle and started creating beats... there was a flute accompaniment... some people (women) started doing belly dancing or some kind of isolated movements... other drummers did drum solos... I looked up and the sun's beams filtered by the plastic-glass ceilings of Kimmel, shimmering glints from steal frames, splashed on the walls of the Perelman Theater... then everything ended at 6 in the morning...

my friend went straight home... the Septa Bus wasn't functioning yet so she took a taxi... I was so tempted to have breakfast in starbucks (but I wanted to sleep when I got home)... instead of spending $20 on taxi, I waited for a while (around 7 a.m. the bus would start working)... I walked towards City Hall... streets empty, taxi cabs roaming-looking for passengers... I passed LOVE park... I walked through the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (modeled after the Champs-elysees)... I visited Rodin's "The Thinker"... I walked to Philadelphia Museum of Art, climbed the famous Rocky steps... once on top, I sat and look at the Philly skyline... sitting there I started falling asleep (can you just imagine me falling asleep on the steps of the art museum en plein-air?)

my phone rang... it was my dad... he woke up early... I asked him to pick me up... I didn't have to wait for the bus... I got home and slept for 4 hours... I got drank from all the art I experienced and when I woke up at noon, I didn't have an aesthetic hang-over, WOW! :)

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 8:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2007

belly buttons

Are people with "innies (inner belly button)" more introverted than those with "outies" ?

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 7:23 PM | Comments (1)

Authentic Though not Exotic

I finally finished Fernando Nakpil Zialcita's book Authentic Though not Exotic: Essays on Filipino Identity.... I started reading this last year when I was in the Philippines but I didn't finish (senior year got in the way).

I liked the author's approach in defending his argument. He used food, art, history, anthropology and others to prove the existence of an authentic Filipino culture/identity. In the end, I was convinced, and I had a better appreciation for my Filipino-ness.

general sentiment
Usually when you're in a culture/ you belong to a culture, there are biases and prejudices you accept/don't question--- then you grow up, get your education and you started to see paradox/hypocrisy. You can rebel and go against this hypocrisy and be an outcast, you can accept it and prolong its existence, you can ignore it etc., you can do nothing or something, or you can try to understand it so you can better face it/handle it...

I went through all of these possibilities growing up as a Filipino, a Filipino abroad, and in a mild sense I'm still experiencing these possibilities as a Filipino American.

Here are the questions that Zialcita tackled:
How do you categorized Filipinos and Philippines as a nation?
Because of the Eastern and Western influence, Is the Filipino culture confused/bastardized?
How can Philippines be authentic when she is imitative?

1. How do you categorized Filipinos...?
If I remember right, Zialcita compared Filipino culture to Latino culture in a sense that blood, facial features,looks and other biological factors do not unite the Philippines... because of centuries of mixing- Spanish/European mearchants mingling with the natives, Chinese/Asian merchants doing business, marrying for money/alliances etc. ...

there is not one "Filipino look"- a Filipino can look Chinese, Japanese, African, European, Pacific Islander- maybe mannerism, habits, beliefs/ideals, and likes/dislikes may somewhat link the Filipinos together- of course there's the ideal- light skin (sign of purity/ high social status, not tanned by the sun during manual labor), "matangos na ilong (literally translated to sharp nose)" ... this is a bad ideal people still strive for, it's not as bad as in the colonial/ancient days... (you'll be surpirsed how some people are discriminated against because of the color of their skin)... usually if you have the smarts or the talents or the money the color of your skin is overlooked... the light skinned Filipinos still continue to have advantages today (even if it's not written in a lawful stone) especially in the Entertainment business (F-ollywood).

the irony is that the "true" Filipinoes (in a sense that they were the first to settle in the islands before it was discovered by Europe or other explorers) might not even call themselves Filipinoes... they might even have a different tribe name (if they believe in the concept of tribes)... and if they exist, they're probably hidden from the influence of today's globalization...

2. Because of the Eastern and Western influence, Is the Filipino culture confused/bastardized?
-when I was in third grade, I got mistaken for a Chinese kid because of my black, bowl-cut hair and somewhat chinky eyes...
-around sixth grade, my nose became more "prominent" /wider, texture of my hair changed growing more upward and coarse (not so flat and silky)... social study lessons made me and my classmates more aware of the world... their curiosity noticed the incongruity in my last name and my somewhat chinky eyes.. some thought I was Mexican with Indian/Aztec blood
-in highschool, my Spanish teacher commended me for rolling my "R's" ever so effortlessly and she questioned my Spanish-sounding last name... I told her that Spanish colonization influenced Philippines and its national language, Tagalog.
-a funny story, in college one of my friends couldn't tell what nationality/ethnicity I am. so he thought I could have the perfect spy career (because I can have different disguises)...

I eat white, plain rice (very Asian)... for the most part, I'm obedient to my parents/authority (Confucious teachings of filial duty and respect for authority- very Chinese), I like siestas, fiestas, I'm Catholic (even if not practising) [very Spanish], yay for extended family (Tribal influences?), I like to be an individual, I believe in freedom/liberty/justice (Western), even though I'm Catholic in a land which became a haven for Puritans, I'm still interested in Japanese transcience and buddhist enlightenment (American freedom of choice/of religion)... even though these are superficial listing of what I like and some of my personality, I think one of the Filipino traits that I've hold on to/retained is being able to adapt and integrate/take the best traits and make it my own... this is one of the main things I still remember...

when I was in the Philippines, there were instances when I was labeled an arrogant/headstrong American and sometimes in the U.S. I'm perceived as "meek" and spineless because I don't have the American bravado/effrontery... I'm not a schizo, but I always have to be aware of my environment and be able to adapt to the different cultural norms...

3. How can Philippines be authentic when she is imitative?
Zialcita might have said that colonization was sort of a good influence on the Philippines (not in the sense that Zialcita was pro-discrimination/slavery/imperialism and other bad connotation of colonialism). He decided to highlight the good side of colonization, such as public education (even if it's the Western system), the arts and culture, cuisine, ideal sense of justice in courts and trails (not arbitrarily ruled by the chief/ forest spirits etc.)....

colonization is sort of like a catalyst for unification/awareness of a bigger world outside the island/ maybe of physical evil not merely spiritual- petty tribal warfares maybe ceased, people focused on a "bigger" enemy... if they didn't unite, they allied themselves with the "enemy"--- just some ponderings

the Philippines is like a microcosm of the world... if you traveled around the Philippines, you'll see Chinatowns, copies of the Great Wall of China, Buddhist temples, Chinese cemetaries... Spanish churches, indigenous folk art and housing, native cleverness of land architecture (rice terraces), Islamic mosque and minarets, Arabian dressings, Western clothes/franchise such as McDonalds, towns named after famous U.S. cities such as New York, ... a long time ago it was labeled as the Gateway to the Orient (especially Manila), a great stop for Merchants looking for bargains... every culture/country/nationality that went to the Philippines/colonized it/ransacked it/helped it, every one of them or at least most of them left their impressions on Philippines (or at least her people adapted what they liked from these un/friendly visitors/rulers)

at first this may appear simply as imitation HOWEVER Zialcita pointed out that people in general wouldn't imitate/borrow something they don't believe in or can relate to. Why would they adapt something against their nature? (or something offensive to them). He also pointed out that other older civilization, such as French, Japanese, Roman etc., did the same thing as the Philippines. They borrowed from their predecessors and made it their own.. what the Philippines is doing is perfectly legitimate to the eyes of written history. Philippines is evolving but still pretty young, only around 100 years old; now contrast this nation to Cnina and its history and civilization)


***In spite of the anthropological jargon, I still understood this book and I enjoyed reading it; for me it had a different and novel perspective/approach on Filipino identity. A while ago I was so proud of my Spanish blood (my dad always tells me we had Spanish blood). Then I learned about the evils of colonization, I wasn't proud of my Spanish heritage. I tried embracing my indigenous roots; this was going to the other extreme because my ideas of indigenous were the people who lived in the mountains of the Philippines- of course this was wrong on my part, because my ancestors were from the lowland region of the Philippines, where they were most likely directly exposed to the Spanish... now I'm somewhat at peace, I'm just happy that I exist, I don't doubt my dad about our Spanish blood/heritage even if I only have .002% of it left flowing in my bloodstream ( I just don't think that that knowledge will be passed on to the next generation and risk life to die/beheaded for lying- misrepresentation)

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 4:19 PM | Comments (0)

bittersweet life: an idea

sour, sweet, gone- the slogan of sourpatch kids (candy)... sweet moments... sad moments...

tiramisu- the coffee liquor is not so pungent, melts in your mouth (not sticky way)... like angel cake but not so spongy... it instantaneously disappear (like being beamed up in one of those startrek spaceship) once inside your mouth.. but the sweetness lingers a bit longer...

canolli/cannoli/cannolli- the creme is more buttery than sugary... not as sweet as it looks, on a crispy pastry shell...

cancer- not so sweet

getting to the elevator.... she hears a "psst"... turns around, so you're visiting too... he remarks "only noypis respond to that", he chuckles...

white corridors... pictures on the walls... Renior's depiction of mother and child...pretty quiet... beep beep beep of monitors... relief...

everybody's waiting in limbo, in a room wedged between the patient's room and the central station of the nurses and their wide-screened planner/schedules of rounds/duty etc....

someone says "long time no see" she nods... she glances a theatrical face puckering... jokes.. chit chat... "let's see him"... she stays put, not budging but it's sad she finally got up...

she enters... he's watching baseball, his face very relaxed... this is the second time he's been in the hospital (the first time when he was a child)... "the pirates are doing well this season..." she hugs herself, a little chilly... she fidgets with her hands

"yeah, I think they're ranked 2nd this year... is it hot outside?"

"definitely, and it's supposed to rain this Friday... are you okay? everything went well?"

"yeah, yeah...."

her eyes locked to the woman passing outside the room, her pouty lips almost convulsing, wanting to break her silence contradicting her loud glaring eyes... then the woman was gone

silence

"visiting hours will soon be over" says the nurse

she says "ok I'll see you then, take care..."

"thanks for coming..."

"no problem..." she walks away, passes the laughter (lady godiva), picks up a booklet on colostomy, and goes straight to the elevator...

"hey wait for us, hold the elevator, we're a big group," someone shouts.

she holds the elevator, waits, and opens the booklet...

Insurance is a funny thing... the bad ones know when one's coverage expires... sometimes not even finishing the year whether fiscal or the technical year... sometimes slow on providing service... the good ones will cover one's back immediately (having the operation right away instead of waiting two days like the lady...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2007

Movie Synopsis at the Ritz

Angel-A- a French movie with English subtitles... it's about a habitual liar who owes money to the mob, and he eventually falls in love with a tall "sexy b!t#h" super model Angel, who's helping him pay for his debts. It's in black and white and it was shot in Paris mostly during early morning before the city became congested (to capture the empty/deserted look).

Once- a modern musical romantic comedy set in Ireland. A boy street musician, who is getting over an unreciprocated love, meets a girl, who motivates him to make an album. The cinematography reminded me of behind the scenes of making an album and making the music video.

Golden Door- the latest from Scorsesi (his work reminds me of peasant French realism/romanticism). It's about immigration- an Italian family migrating to the U.S. It's the Old world of magic/superstition versus the New World of industrialism/pragmatism, where business transaction supercedes love. BUT family unity and hard work are still valued.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2007

hope in Mandy Moore's folk-inspired album Wild Hope?

two weeks ago I saw on a city newspaper a headline stating that Mandy Moore's new cd "Wild Hope," which is out in stores now, has a folk-feel to it. What elements make an album "folksy"? What characterizes "folk music"?

My first reaction: "Wow, Mandy Moore's coming out with a new album...it's been forever since I've heard from her music career...sure she has movies coming out and in almost most of the movies she starred in/ appeared in at least have one musical scene where you see her sing, and if you're a fan, you can pick out her very distinct singing voice... sometimes I'd ponder buying the movie soundtrack just for the sake of getting that one song Mandy Moore sang but in the end, I never get the soundtrack, I'm not that crazy to spend $12-18 for an album with only one Mandy Moore song..."

My second reaction: "Folk-feel/inspired? what makes the music folksy? How is this album going to sound?... I didn't want to do any sort of research because it might make me change my mind about buying Mandy Moore's new cd... then I started having fears... since it's been a while since a new album from Mandy Moore came out, I had big expectations but at the same time I felt like I didn't want to be too excited because I didn't want to be disappointed... in spite of this fear, I'm just glad that she's releasing a new album..."

My second reaction continues: "I wasn't consoled... knowing me, with the tendency to worry and to think things to death especially the most trivial of matters in the universe... I started to ruminate on what 'folksy' meant... for some weird reason, I thought about blue grass music, banjos, harpsichord, voice-over (William Shatner)...

then I thought about Mandy Moore's past albums...

-of course her first album was really poppy (bubble gum pop)- an RnB feel in a sense of beats [honestly I wasn't a big fan of her single "candy" but it's one of those songs that gets stuck in your head- she was competing with the likes of Britney Spears, former American Sweetheart, and Bold Christina Aguilera- sure they have different tastes, but at one point, they were all blonde and they danced], I really didn't pay attention to Mandy Moore, I think I got her album because I was doing a magazine drive for my school and I wanted to fulfill my quota...

-her second album was an extension of the first one- they remixed the best songs from the first album and added new tracks... if this was her first album maybe I would have paid attention...the reason I bought it is because I liked the single "I wanna be with you" which was the themed love song for a movie about ballet students, called Center Stage (this movie maybe her first connection to the movie business even if she did commercials when she was little)...

-I was excited about her third album, self-titled "Mandy Moore." I was 17 years old, when this album came out, I remembered because there was a song called "17" in this album... this album combined pop and world beats, African drums, it used instrumentation from India (Sitar) and China (xylophone-esque/chimes) and fused it with European pop/techno- I enjoyed this album... I remembered listening to this album when I was in France, Spain and Italy...

then after this she did a lot of movies and other stuff ...

I didn't follow her movie career as diligently as her music career, I would still watch them when they came out in dvds or borrow them from friends.

-her fourth album is called "Coverage"- she did cover songs such as "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," "Anticipation," etc.... I liked her interpretation... my friend made me a copy of it... then Mandy Moore did more movies...

-her fifth and sixth albums where compilations of her old songs with some bonus tracks, once again I didn't get it because I had most of the songs already...

-And THEN her seventh album "Wild Hope" came out on June 21 :)

My reaction to Wild Hope: "After days of listening to it non-stop, I still don't know why her album is "folksy"... she co-wrote all 12 tracks... you can hear guitar, drums, piano and other instruments used in alternative music... I see it as a cross between Avril Lavinge (but not screechy) and Jewel's album "This Way." The subjects of her songs range from self-acceptance to relationship with significant others. In Extraordinary she embraces her role/responsibility to the world/her community (especially her position as a celebrity). All Good Things elaborates on the saying 'all good things come to an end.' This song is about the difficulty of moving on. A good song that's a good "I-quit-song/ I need time off/space" is Few Days Down. There's more, but overall an awesome album, I'm not disappointed! :).... "

Whether you're a fan or not, you'll enjoy this album especially if you like catchy tunes, and evocative/emotive lyrics. Mandy Moore's Wild Hope is now available in music stores everywhere!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 6:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2007

technology and other updates

aside from my phone, the latest technology I bought is a digital frame...

don't get me wrong I still like the idea of one picture per metal/wooden frame (hard copy version/ touch friendly, tangible material) but since I like taking pictures and my digital camera has enabled me to take alot, see them in advance, delete pics I don't like- so now I'm having/taking more great pictures than before. I can't possibly buy hundreds of frames- there wouldn't be room in my room plus that'll be lots of $$$. I'm not about to clutter my wall with picture frames (lots of nail holes or those magical adhesives)....

so I went to bath and beyond and both a digital frame... originally it was $100, I hesitated in buying it, and then I remembered that I had a 20% off coupon sent to me so I used the coupon and some graduation money to buy the frame... I saved $20...

It has 256 megabytes of internal memory... it has several options, like slideshow (my favorite), movies (not going to use it because it'll eat up too much memory), can add mp3 music (possible option), several types of memory card slots (can work almost any type of memory cards depending on what you have)....I'm just happy, it may not be the bestest brand but it does its job and functions well....

I can't really complain- in one frame so far I'm uploaded 102 images (I think I still have room for 90 more)-- I still believe in albums... now when I go to Utah, I don't have to take a bag load of frames and albums, I'll just bring my digital frame...

Other updates... I've been running at least once a week on Kelly Drive, and I'm doing well... I remember, the first week of running, my ribs/sides would burn afterwards... on my third week, I don't get that feeling anymore... before I change course (a different running/jogging section of Kelly Drive) I'm going to attempt running my course without stopping for a very long time in the midway point....

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

first impression: Moore's SiCKo

I saw a preview for Michael Moore's SiCKo, a new documentray about healthcare in America. It looked interesting and humorous. Usually I don't like Moore and his transparencies/biasis (sometimes to the point of extreme-slanting the "facts")- targeting one party over another.

However the film seems to be targeting the government as a whole (not just a party)- but the actual people who makes up the government; and also groups and companies working with the government. I might actually go see this film...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2007

Wizard World: Philadelphia 2007

Wizard World Tour took place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from June 15-17, 2007. $25 for a day pass allows one entrance to comic, hobby, and toy vendors with celebrities and special guests from the comics universe.

There are many reasons to attend this convention/gathering especially if you're a comicsphile or aficionados looking for rare editions, to complete one's collections, to hear first hand of upcoming news and events, and many more.

I didn't just go to spend money that I don't have, I went to learn- the comics world is like a subgenre to my interests (this didn't mean that I didn't spend money- I still bought baubles and souvenirs such as magnets, and a mini-figurine).

I wish I went also on Friday instead of just Saturday. If I knew in advance that the session on the art and philosophy of graphique storytelling was going to take place, I would have gone (sigh).

I went on Saturday initially because Hayden Panettiere, the girl from NBC's "Heroes," was having a Q and A session... I also went to chill with my grade school buddies.

Hayden Panettiere: Q and A Session
I got a good seat because I arrived 40 minutes earlier and sat patiently (organized my new phone)... around 12:15, the crowd started filing in the room, and within seconds, it was filled... there's lots of cameras and professional photographers... it was a little insane because most of the people were very fanatical (I learned from my teenage years not to be too fanatical and star-struck because it will just lead to disappointments)...

this person in front of me got a bit pissed at me because my camera flash, momentarily blinded him (I was doing a test shot, and he turned around)... I apologized, but it was just creepy how easily irate he got...

then this woman photographer had the courage to ask me if the empty seat next to me was taken, of course I said no, so she sat next to me, her sandy face was a rockbed (offspring of the Thing)... she had one of those expensive looking cameras and she showed me her press pass, and she started telling me stories about the press earlier were waiting to get pics of Hayden... I was trying to figure her out, was she an obsessed fan or one of those crazy papparizzi? she showed me a dvd of Hayden's movie (Bring it One Part 2, which she recently bought for this event to get autographed), a picture of Hayden and his grandson after a play (in Maine?) and a picture she took of her, which was accepted by Us weekly magazine.

I asked her if she was a professional.. she said no, just a freelance, she didn't go to school for photography, just a hobby (she concluded that she should have gone to photography school)... she basically sends star photos to those celebrity magazines, and if she's lucky, they pick her photos and give her credit.. she was a little out spoken... she was trying to tell the guys in front of us to fix their posture in order to maximize her viewing (they just ignore her)... then she started complaining about the water bottle in the podium, she's arguing that the bottle will block her view of Hayden... I like her approach, she tried networking with Hayden's mother in order to get personal one-on-one time with Hayden

then Hayden just burst in and started walking in the center aisle... camera flashed, there were two really obnoxious photographers who were all up in her face taking pictures of her-- they weren't doing it quick either, they took their time to focus it and block the view...

I didn't ask any questions because I didn't do my research ahead of time... I didn't want to ask questions that could be found in the internet from her previous interview, so I jsut listened to other people's questions and her answers...

Hayden couldn't talk about the second season of "Heroes," which starts filming today. Conveniently, she hasn't read the scripts yet. She was definitely comfortable and in control of the crowd. She knew how to evade and still satisfy the crowd's curiosity. The crowd just need to ask a good question in order to get a good answer.

In an hour with Hayden, I learned that she's from New York, she's typecast as the blonde cheerleader, villians difficult ot sterotype, she's coming out with an album (she serenaded the crowd with "America"), music is more personal to her, acting is more like playing dress up, she likes mustard and ketchup on her hotdog, she likes to go out with guys with brown hair and brown t-shirt, she believes in higher education, charities, and voting for tomorrow's leaders, the acting business the thrill of working, saved a dog hit by a car, wants to have a love interest at the show... and many more.

She knew how to be generous, allowing some time afterwards for pictures to be taken... this was the time that I actually went and got her picture (somewhat semi decent- not one of my best), I was even pushed gently (not shoved) by the security guard to get away...

Walking around the convention with friends
After the Q and A session, i walked around with my friends... they knew what they wanted to get some special edition or a rare toy, I wanted to look at the art and get inexpensive things.. I enjoyed the artists' alley, where I met osme of the creators of the comics universe. I tlaked to the people, whose art fascinated me- in my case it was two people: one liked the simplicity and influence of Japanese art, and the other, the soft colors of pastel...

the day was fun... people in costumes were walking around, there were reenactments of jedi sword fights, little kids were running around with giant swords (fake of course, but the sight is just hilarious)...

besides the Q and A, there were also demonstrations, which unfortunately I missed, but next time I will attend them, especially sessions on "Wizard School" (get pointers on various art techniques like coloring, storytelling, setting, etc.)...

Wizard World was fun and magical!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:40 PM | Comments (2)

Let the Phone rrrring!

in the movies, silence is golden however in the world of phones, silence is NOT golden... unless of course you're in the middle of a very very important meeting and any interruptions will determine success or failure.

I finally got a new phone- one that makes noise and not just vibrates... being deprived of phone sounds for at least two years, as soon as I figured out my phone I connected to the site that sold ring tones... I spent $15 on five ringtones and a not so good wallpaper... the only time I'm going to delete these is when I'm running out of memory...

my dad and I got a family plan. I didn't really care if my phone wasn't the new iphone, as long as it met my criteria:

1. it has to have ringtones
2. calendar
3. internet
4. text
5. good battery
6. camera (to make wallpapers and profile pic)

I try not to be one of those hi-tech peeps, their life scheduled and their work stored in the palm of their hands- that's just scary (someone can easily snatch it or the phone can easily malfunction- even if everything is backed up in the SIM)...

trouble-shooting already
the black color I wanted wasn't available so the dealer (since there's a big discount involved) got me a gold phone instead- it's okay, it's not as horrible as can be...

the next day, I got locked from accessing my phone, I had to call customer service to get my PUK code...

Process
My phone number is still the same, Im in the process of transferring numbers from the old one to the new one...

I switched company- the reason why is because according to the dealer, it was "easier" to keep one's old number if one were to switch company... the dealer further said that if I stayed in the same company with my old number, there was a 50% chance that I wouldn't get to keep my number, this could be his ploy to make me switch so that he can have his "commission" and so that I can get the "bargain".. it's a learning experience...

fears...
of my flip phone breaking
of losing the tones I downloaded

Nonetheless...
I'm just happy that my phone have sounds now... I'll know when my family calls when Toni Basil starts singing "Mickey" and when my friends call, the tune "It's the end of the world..." starts playing. Let freedom ring, let my phone ring!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:13 PM | Comments (2)

Tunneling

I finished my second book of the summer, it's called Tunneling by Beth Bosworth... The story is very imaginative... one of the words used in the book jacket-- magic realism... and at times I did get lost in the sense that I couldn't tell which reality the protagonist was in, in her wild imagination or mundane reality... there were clues but when I got so into the book, I'd missed them... the author did organize it by chapter.. for the most part the chapters were dedicated either to imaginative journeys and adventure of Rachel, or her real world reality of New Jersey...

I sort of got lost too, because the author/protagonist voice interrupts too much.. she's reflecting about the past, then she refers to the present... her adventures are as real as the present...

this book can be adapted well to the screen.. if I were the director, I would cast Abigail Breslin, the girl from Little Miss Sunshine, to play the lead role of Rachel Finch and with today's technology, the fantasy/ imaginiatvie adventures can be accomplished effortlessly...

if the reader doesn't know the allusions in this book, it's still pretty understable, and complete in itself... However I felt that it was more rewarding to understand the allusions especially to Shakespeare, Achebe, Wilde and others...

towards the end, it seemed like the barrier between the imagination and reality is blurred even more.. at first I was surprised by the end , but rereading the first chapter, I saw the hints (it's just weird because whenever I try to begin a book, I try not to guess what's going to happen, instead of paying attention to details, I want to experience the text and enter its world-- created by the author--)

Overall a good read, read/see for yourself and travel with Rachel and S-Man in their many adventures to save literature!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 1:40 PM | Comments (0)

all cultured out, lately

after a month of doing and attending artsy stuff for inspiration, I think, I'm all cultured out... now I sort feel like I just want to do my own thing, my own art whether writing or drawing...

Last Friday, I finished the DanceBOOM festivities...I saw more dance films both liberating- the modern/contemporary is of course weird, I learned from the choreographer the importance of having a vision, believing in it... I attended BalletX-- the dancers are classically trained in Ballet but their repetoire are modern works and lyrical choreography... they are making their 200702008 home at the Wilma Theater, where they'll be performing new interpretations of classic ballet show, such as the Sleeping Beauty, etc.... one of the modern movement they did is flexing their ankle (it looks really awful and awkward because it breaks away the stretched look of the graceful and elongated leg-- HOWEVER this move is considered very difficult according to my former dance teacher- I have my opinions)...

prior to this, there were some dancers doing a folk dance on broad street... the interesting thing I learned from this is the interplay between the drums/beats and the dancer, where each one sort of compliment each other while trying to outdo each other...

A couple of days before DanceBOOM, I went to two museums...

the frist is the PLEASE Touch Museum, a museum for kids... I went because I was going to attend the exhibit on Vietnam Folktales... however I came too early, the exhibit wasn't going begin until June 22... the ticket guy was nice enough not to charge my friend and I , and we got a chance to just walk around the museum... my four years old godchild would definitely love this museum... I found it cute and imaginative... it's an educational play-pen-- there's a corner for stroytelling... there's walk-in/ human size models of Alice in the Wonderland scenes, Maurice Sendak... there's a mini grcery store, public transportation... children can interact with literature or develop their motor skills.. play and learn....---

back to why me, a college graduate, is there, what am I doing in this place? good question! it has something to do with my master's program- three weeks ago I visited my new school's website, I read a section about finishing my program on time... one of the things I'm supposed to do in my first semester is to think about "graduating already (envisioning graduation as form of motivation)" and to start thinking about my "master's project" (can you believe that? I haven't even taken a class yet, I haven't even set foot on the campus yet, I haven't met my adviser, and I'm supposed to start thinking about this stuff already... the goood news is at least, I have an idea of what classes I need to take).... I'm hoping that if I return to the Please Touch Museum to see the Vietnam Folktale exhibit, I hope the ticket guy doesn't charge me... but I will defintely bring my godchild here, next time if he isn't too old...

the next museum I visited with my friend is the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (located around city hall)... this is the first time I wnet here.. I aways forget about this museum because I don't see it... there were a lot of American art, especially from Philadelphia's own Charles Willson Peale, and this museum housed the famous "the Gross Clinic" by Thomas Eakins... it's a beautiful museum and easy to get around, the works are all located in the second floor... one of the unique things I saw in this musuem was an art student copying one of the paintings - there's a close resemblance to the original, but you can still tell that the student's copy is not exact...

Afterwards, my friend and I chilled in Zen tea house- ordered almond and taro Boba tea with leche and tapioca, fried wasabi pork dumpling and calamari (expensive but good not the cheap rubbery kind)...
in the movie world

I saw a Russian film with English subtitles, called Day Watch (this is also a sequel to Night Watch)-- this film is fantastical, comedic and action-filled.

I was impressed with the effects- there's something refreshing about them even though they are overused in today's blockbust (what may have contributed to this maybe a different culture's use of it)- cars driving on side of buildings...

this movie definitely have Russia's famous twisted plots and family conflict: in a nutshell this movie is about good versus evil-- for centuries they've been fighting then suddenly they had a truce... evil can still do evil but it has to be controlled, the good people make sure that evil doesn't surpass its quota... in Day Watch, the truce is in danger of being broken... the main leader of the evil people want to have this balance broken of course... the main protagonist is caught in the middle between two powerful beings: his son, who decided to side with the evil, and his girlfriend, who training to be a powerful psychic to the good... this world is full of spirits, vampires, werewolves, telepathics, shapeshifters and more magic-- this is the backdrop for the main character, Anton, and his journey...

the movie succussfully combine courage and humor... Anton is very human and he has a l ot of faults... the thing that saves him is a piece of chalk that could be found near him and all he has to do is ask...

it's a very entertaining movie... all I can say is that I can't believe this only the second installment in the trilogy, it seems complete in itself- I can't wait to see the third one (and also the first one since I missed it last summer)...

I saw Fantastic Four- it wasn't as bad as Spiderman 3, it was more complete and cohesive-- as Silver Surfer concurs with Invicible Woman, we have a choice- so you can choose to see this movie or not!

Food

I went to Vietnam last night, and it was only 20 minutes away from my house 3 blocks from 12th street from Center City... I'm talking about Vietnam Restaurant on the edge of Chinatown. Like I said before, I really like their fresh vegetables and tasty entrees... so I tried a soup this time (which cost around $7- worth it, I was full in the end), it wasn't in a rush to get to DanceBOOM, I probably would get dessert -- next time! :)

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2007

Synthesis of painting and verse

Calligraphy, Japanese paintings and verses by husband and wife duo, Ike Taiga and Tokuyama Gyokuran are currently being displayed in Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) until July 22.

Of course I went because I liked Japanese aesthetics (emotive lines, economy, ephemerality, multiple interpretations, allusions, illusions)...

This time around what added to my learning experience are the lectures and guided tours I attended (I didn't feel like doing the independent "do-it-yourself" reading and retaining information... I wanted to be sponge like SpongeBob, sit back [and/or stand] and absorb information).

PMA organized "Scholars' Days" from June 10 to 12. I was able to attend 3 out of the 4 lectures, which were free with general admission.

The first lecture I attended (June 10) was entitled "Bulls, Nuns, and Bottomless Scoops: Ike Taiga and Popular Religions of the Edo Period." I don't know if I learned anything about Japanese religion in general, but when the lecturer started analyzing the scroll with the image of a bull, I learned a bit about the bull festival that became extinct (no longer popular). This allusion suggests that Ike Taiga might be religious (all I remembered consciously from this is that I remember not liking the speaker and then after he expounded the significance of the whole works, I liked him, and found him interesting).

Then on June 12, I attended the last two lectures: "The Synthesis of Calligraphy and Painting (Taiga's paint and Buson's ink) and "A Trip to Mount Kurama: Taiga's Chinese Poetry."

The first lecture was cool. A Japanese professor from Tokyo National Museum, compared and contrasted Taiga's work to Buson's. An interpreter from Swarthmore College translated what he said. In summary the professor liked Taiga's work more than Buson's. I was persuaded by and agreed with him. Taiga's style was 'looser' not so rigid as Buson. The professor pointed out Buson's innovation (so he could claim his honor [laughs])-- but overall I still like Taiga's.

One of the things noted by the lecturer was Taiga's used of stipling (way before European's Impressionist movement and Japonisme). He also analyzed the role of nature and its influence in Japanese outlook in Taiga's work (I thought of Romanticism, the sublime, the terrible and the awesome). Taiga fused the text successfully not making them stand out (to the point of getting all the attention), they were well integrated to the overall composition, text became part of the pictorials.

The last lecture was also interesting, a professor of Chinese at George Washington U. presented in English (but he still recited verses both in Chinese and English- I don't know if his pronunciation was right or not, but he sounded confident and authentic). From his talk, I learned a lot: the Japanese culture's reverance for the Chinese, how they imitated their arts and eventually made it their own (having a Japanese feel), the importance of poetry not only for aesthetics but also for public service (all the government officals needed to know how to write poems, they studied classic poems for the civil exam- at the mention of this, the lecturer made a joke about Bush), the influence of mountains and different places which act as inspirations for poets and painters, appropriating verses (taking it out of its context and making it original and independent from it) and many more.

I got a lot from the guided tours as well: the prestige of the "literati" (men of letters) [I like the literatis a lot, I may have a literati spirit in me, some of the things they do I'd like to experience, some of the things they did were: convene, drink rice wine (saki), write poetry, sing, play instruments, talk, discuss, contemplate, paint, gaze at the moon- they lived a "bohemian" life, sure they weren't super rich, they count their blessings by the amount of poetry and art they made, I wonder what it would be like to attend one of those events.] The literati's ideal is living in a rural area with lots of mountains and the sea (body of water) so all they have to do is look out their windows for inspiration (when they don't have to, they ignored the material world because it tainted their vision). the highest of the arts, which all scholars tried to attain, involved mastery of painting, poetry, and calligraphy...

After the lectures and tour, I looked at the exhibit on my own. I didn't read everything because there were just too much, I just read whatever caught my eye. I looked at the brushworks (water color lessons last semester helped me to remember how a certain technique could be rendered).

I was so inspired by this exhibit that when I got home, I finally picked up my paintbrush and watercolors and finally painted a picture of Ming the cat, whom I've always wanted to depict in watercolors. It was a good exercise, it reminded me of some of the things I learned in class (glazing, composition, wash, strokes, no outlines, implied lines, space. utilizing the white for highlights).

Go see the exhibit for yourself and be transcended!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 4:55 PM | Comments (0)

Negative spaces and taking pictures

I wonder if there's a correlation between my Asian family's way of taking pictures (whole body with a lot of negative spaces for the sky) and Ukiyo-e's use of negative spaces and asymmetrical composition...

If people blink and ends up closing their eyes when someone takes their picture often times (in my case anyway because I'm a "blinker") the camera is able to capture the serenity of the buddha in people's faces ... is their "enlightenment" caused by the "bright flash" ?

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 4:46 PM | Comments (1)

June 11, 2007

Reminiscing Philippines (P.I.) Part I -- Weather

I can't believe that a year ago, I was in the Philippines (I missed the times with my family and all the excursions I went to whether it was the mall or another province). A year ago from today, (as written in my journal) I was on my way back to Manila from Pangasinan, where my uncle lived. I visited him and while there, I also visited the Hundred Islands searching for folktales....

On June 11, 2006, my cousin Charmaine and I woke up early to catch the bus- it was departing around 4 a.m.- the previous night, we just took a nap.

In the P.I. waking up 3 in the morning in order to travel is the norm. The reasons for early departure:
a. no traffic (traffic can be really bad in most of P.I.; it's as if there was an accident everytime there's traffic but really the roads are congested and most are two lanes- there's not a lot of highways in P.I.)
b. cool weather (nobody wants to get stuck in traffic in a humid day on a bus/jeepney without airconditioners)
c. more room (early bird gets a seat in the bus)

I remember the early morning, it's dark, the stars are slowly disappearing, you know it's not night, you can feel in your heart the approaching sun...crickets tiring from singing, silhouettes of clouds roaming (sometimes thundering, flashes behind but never falling letting go of the rain)... my uncle's son waited with us patiently until we got on the bus... on the bus, I watch the sky change colors... i eventually fell asleep missing the sun rise...

quick facts about Philippine Weather and seasons-
the seasons are divided into two (with lots of nuances)- it's either sunny or rainy
the summer which starts around March is really hot but when it gets to around May, it's still hot, but the sun's intensity is bearable, based on my experience, it wasn't as humid, it was dry heat... around August it's the rainy season/monsoon.... the change sometimes is so sudden... around June, it was mostly sunny, the sky was clear blue not hazy, there were fluffy cumulus clouds rolling forming canyons through the day and disappearing by night... thunder rumbled, growling but never fully roaring rain drops but when August came, the sunny days disappeared. It was overcast all the time sometimes for weeks, it was depressing, once in a while the overcast will break momentarily and you get to catch a glimpse of the sky (it was a happy moment), and soon it's overcast again.

In June the rain is intermittent, it would fall for a couple of minutes and then afterwards the sun dries it up, it's as if it didn't rain at all- the sucky thing about this intermittent June rainfall, is that afterwards, it's very muggy and humid- the rain was momentary relief from the heat, but the humidity afterwards, which was very icky, lasted longer...

in August, when the rain falls it falls... instead of shredded paper, the rain falls in sheets of paper, thin walls of water... this is called the monsoon season or "bagyo"... I remember being spoiled with the sun and blue sky and then the bagyo came- it's horrible traveling in the rain, traffic increase, there's mini floods (this is not good when you're wearing flip flops walking through dirty water overflown from the canals)... one day I was visiting a musuem, while walking towards the FX stop (transportation- buslike taxi, cheaper than taxi but more expensive than jeepney, but it has airconditioning), I got caught in a downpour, good thing I brought an umbrella... the good thing with this type of rain is that you can see where it's originating from... so in a way you can "outsmart" it (if the wind is blowing the rain west, go east to avoid it or at least wouldn't get as wet)... the bagyo rainfall is stronger and longer but it does stop and as soon as it stops, thats the time to start walking to the nearest FX stop or other transportation...

the best time to travel to the Philippines (besides the cool December), is during the warm and somewhat breezy May and June... the forecast is mostly sunny and dry with rare scattered shower... thunderstorms at night but short in duration... hear God bowling every night, and his angels applausing his strikes, which flash and light the night sky...

as Kuya Kim, the weather man, always say, "Ang Buhay ay whether weather lang" which roughly translates to "Life is like the weather"- (aside, you can only plan/predict so much and next thing you know, you're in the middle of a downpour or you're enjoying the breeze, blue sky and sunny days...)

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 7:37 PM | Comments (1)

June 8, 2007

Motion Pictures 2007 (part I)

The 5th Annual Festival of Dance Films/Videos is currently taking place at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. It's $5 per screening, but if you buy the DanceBOOM! DancePass- advisable if you'll be watching more than two films, you get one free ticket to every film screening plus you get $10 off every DanceBOOM ticket you buy (next Friday, I'll be attending BalletX- more of this next Friday)...

Last night I attended the first night of screening. They showed a group of shorts (recently I've grown to love this genre) and two longer works from New Zealand and France.

Out of the short-shorts, I liked: "Afternoon of the Chimeras" directed by Daniel Conrad and choreographed by Azure Barton, "Found Our Way" directed by L. Capco Lincoln and choreographed by Misia Denea, "House" directed by Kate Watson Wallace, and "The Inn of Floating Imagery" directed and performed by Kathy Rose.

the films I found hilarious were director and choreographer Trish Sie's "Ok Go on Treadmills" and Jen Simmons and Jodi Netzer's "Table Dance."

In "Afternoon of the Chimeras," the dancers imitate legendary creatures such as phoenix. I don't know many types of chimeric creatures, but i did pick up on bird and snake movements...

"Found Our Way" has a split screen, and two dancers are imitating the same choreography being played on the background. Sometimes, the dancers would cross-over on each other's space (you see a split image)...in the end, the two dancers are on the same side...

In "House," the director played with the audience's perception (you think that the dancers are lying flat on a bad, then you realize that they are standing, or the camera view looked as if it's taken sideways but in reality, the dancer is in an awkward L-shape position)...

"The Inn of Floating Imagery" is really creepy and good- the sound, the imagery, the shadows, the spastic/clock-like movements all add to the eerie feel, it was very effective...it was supposed to be inspired by the Japanese Noh theater...

the Longer works...

"Break" from New Zealand, directed and choregraphed by Shona McCaullagh, is 14 minutes long... compared to the other longer work, it's more linear in terms of plot... I like the kung-fun effects and the emotions.

"One Flat Thing, Reproduced" from France is directed by Thierry De Mey and choreographed by contemporary dancer William Forsythe. Like contemporary art, I don't get it... it reminded me of Picasso's cubist artworks. it's linear, flat, and angular, while at the same time, it captures movements (blurring/multiple images), I see ballet movements such as grand plie, back kick, great leg extensions, pointed toes etc. I don't understand the content (if there's one, you know the weird rules of post-modern art...).... looking at the title, and what I reflected on so far, I see a correlation... maybe the irony is that in producing "one flat thing" the dance/idea becomes more 3-dimensional/ real.... of course space is used to play with this idea- bird's eye of view makes it look flat, overlapping/different sizes create levels... it was a visual treat nonetheless...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 2:02 PM | Comments (0)

Desserts at Suburban Square's Plate at Ardmore

after Ha Long Bay, my friends and I went to another restaurant, Plate for desserts... the price range for each desert is around $7 but if you get 3 or more dessert you can get the three desserts for $18 (you save $3)...

my friends and I decided to order four different desserts and sample each one (sharing- while using our own spoons) the desserts took a while, but the wait was worth it (it helped build an appetite)...

of course presentation was da bomb- the desserts with the exception of the fruit cobbler were all served on square glass concave plates, sprinkled with powdered sugar. The following were our orders:

1. Seasonal Fruit Cobbler (it was raspberry for Wednesday)
caramelized fruits, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, cinnamon tuiles

2. Apple Hazelnut Pie (this has a swirly cookie that looked like some sort of peeled fruit's skin)
flaky sweet crust, carmelized apples, cinnamon ice cream, cranberry compote

3. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich (the shortbread was really crunchy and brittle, it needed a steak knife to cut it)
devil's food cake, chocolate shortbread, covered in milk chocolate ganache

4. Fudgie Wudgie Banana Brownie
oreo cookie crust, coconut, walnut, chocolate chips, coconut ice cream, caramelized bananas

well according to my friend, as soon as all four desserts were laid out on the table, I had this "smile" on my face, which can be compared to the look on Charlie's face when he got the golden ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory mixed with the expression on everyone face including Violet, when they saw the umpa lumpa working along side the chocolate river, picking lollipop candy-flowers, harnessing gummy fruits from marshmallow bushes...

fantalicious!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 1:30 PM | Comments (0)

Vietnamese Restaurant in Bryn Mawr

on Wednesday I went to Ha Long Bay, a Vietnamese restaurant in Bryn Mawr, with my friends. I've tried Japanese and Chinese cuisine, why not try Vietnamese? and I'm glad I did.

I ordered sauteed chicken with mango and cashew nuts, which came with a shrimp roll and broken rice (almost like sticky rice, half the size of regular white rice). Since it was the lunch special version, it was only around $7.00 [compared to the dinner price of $9.00, so you still get to save at least $2]).

This was a delicious meal, my only complaint was that they didn't put a lot of mangoes ....(perfectly understandable, because mangoes are pricey), the tiny bits I had were perfectly ripe...

I've said this time and time again, the presentation of the food adds something to the experience... it magically makes the food more delicious, it encourages you to eat it, you feel good eating something that had effort, it's special...a friend order a summer roll, and it was served on a plate shaped like a boat, it was WOW!

if you like to have a more "hands on" experience with your food try making your own wrap.. my friend ordered a vegetable, rice noodle and shrimp, which came with thin and translucent 'shanghai' wrappers for eggrolls, separately- down side, if you're not used to this, your wrap will explode- you might try to put too much food in it...

Ha Long Bay successfully incorporated the fresh and crispy vegetables with the fried and sauteed beef or chicken... the fusion of the two is BANG in your mouth

another friend ordered some sort of Vietnamese Fried Angelhair-esque rice noodles topped with beef, shrimp, vegetables, your jaw will drop... in the words of another friend, the fried angelhair is "big enough to feed 25" gigantic hungry men.

I like the atmosphere too... the colors of different walls, the Asian-themed paintings, the serenade of Vietnamese ballads (guessing, if not, it's definitely Asian not English), small bamboo plant on each table...

in the end, you get more for your money's worth... you get a full stomach and still have more money in your wallet to order dessert!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

starbucks update/shopping/running

I tried the iced caramel machiatto and drank it around 6:45 pm, and I didn't fall asleep until 3 a.m.- talk about caffeine power... found a great bargain at Burlington Coat Factory, five dress pants (black, charcoal, bisque, dark walnut, and navy) for only $105 and they're good quality too... I also ran/jogged on the famous Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park (9x bigger than NY's Central Park)... it's been a while too since I ran, (I can tell because by the end , my lower back was a bit in pain, and my ribs were a bit sensitive/burning)...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2007

j'adore Paris, je t'aime

Last week, I watched Paris, je t'aime, a French movie with English subtitles by First Look Pictures. I forgot if the whole movie consisted of 18 vignettes/short-short or not (because in some shorts there were two directors) but I remember the hook/catch phrase they used: "Fall in Love 18 times." How was this movie, made up of lots of stories, going to be different from the other sappy romantic movies out there?

This movie is 120 minutes, and it's made up of short films from 18 different directors like Wes Craven, the Coen brothers, etc., and "a slew of indie actors," such as Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood, Juliette Binoche, and many more (35, Ritz Filmbill, May 2007).

Paris, je t'aime started out by showing clips from all the shorts (transparency, then I started thinking if the movie was going to come together like Alex Robinson's graphic novel Tricked). Then it zoomed to this guy, who was driving through the Parisian streets passing by the famous Eiffel Tower.

He's talking to himself while he tries to squeeze/parallel park his mini-cooper-esque vehicle in a small space (of course he hits the bumpers of the other cars). He starts people watching through his side mirror as he continue talking to himself about being lonely. He sees a single lady, and then she disappears. He comes out of his car to find out what happens to her and he finds her lying on the ground and starts helping her. Conveniently, a doctor is around and stops by, mistakens the woman to be his wife, states that she is okay, and helps him carry her inside his car.

Awkward moment- the guy just waiting for the lady to wake up in his car- all of this happened in less than 7 minutes, setting the tone for the rest of the shorts (as the viewer, I've come to accept this reality and the following). Right away in my mind the nature of this film reminded me of haiku- poetry. In spite of its brevity, it's still jam-packed with meaning. It's literally and visually a flash fiction with romantic and humanistic undertones.

The movie starts out with a typical Parisian image of the Eiffel Tower to draw in the audience and once the audience is hooked, it explores other aspects of Paris not exploited by tourism; "all the tales are markedly unique, and specific to the quirky style of its director" (35).

The directors use the people and objects of Paris to tell poignant stories such as the mother who lost his son, another mother who wakes up early to drop off her baby infant to a daycare and rides the metro to get to her job--being a nanny to a rich couple's baby-- and interracial relationship wrought with inter-religious dialogues. There are also quirky tales about imaginary cowboys, a bald salesman selling hair products to an Asian parlor, and a mime falling in love with another mime in prison (one of my favorites).

Paris, je t'aime also dwells into the night life of Paris, especially a twist/different take on the red district. The movie played on people's expectation: an old guy meeting up with a younger lady in the dark, they are walking, their conversation can be interpreted in many ways, a vampiress falling in love with an American student, an older couple meeting at a bordello, and a famous actress shooting up drugs.

Not only are the creepy stories present but also hopeful stories prevail in this movie: Oscar Wilde's ghost gives advice to the living, actress falling in love with the blind (love is blind, the blind leading the naive), and another one of my faves is a personal narrative from an American woman from a small town traveling on her own (who almost butchers the French language BUT didn't in spite of her American accent-- her sincerity saved her a lot).

In the end, some of the shorts sort of came together and intertwined (but not in an unrealistic way). This was great because it made the movie more cohesive (even though they were locally united, setting as character).

Did I fall in love 18 times after I finished watching the movie? Yes. One of the great things about this movie is that it explored different types of love- family, husband/wife, friends, self, etc. Paris, je t'aime reminds one of appreciating life: all its gifts and curses. The small town American woman in the end, felt lonely and alive; she experienced sadness and joy, and she fell in love with Paris. Like her, I was reminded of the importance of connection with the world community, the little joys of life, and the moments shared with family and friends.

I like this movie; j'adore Paris, je t'aime! Go watch it with your friends and special someone, and you too will fall in love with Paris 18 times! Guaranteed! ;)

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 9:11 PM | Comments (0)

summer reading list

I finally finished my first summer book, it's a fictional novel about killers and games... I'm glad I finished it, getting my summer reading started have been a slow process (but I'm getting there)...
over the semester, I have garnered two small boxes filled with books (during the semester I didn't have time to read them because of other reading obligations so I told myself that i was going to read them over the summer). It's nice that I have books picked out but in some ways it's also annoying... I go to my library and I see lots of books on display, and I just want to read them (but it's not fair for the books that waited patiently underneath my bed while collecting dust).

I'm trying to motivate myself and saying to myself "as soon as I finish the two small boxes of books then I can borrow the books from the library..."

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 9:00 PM | Comments (0)

Starbucks update and highway driving

I tried the orange white mocha latte, it's white mocha latte with a shot of orange syrup that tastes like marmalade (an inversion of the orange mocha I drank last time--> it's really good, it's the sweet version) while the orange mocha is pungent, this one is really sweet sometimes dangerously so-- the right one will be hanging in the balance, one more ounce will tip the balance...

I drove on the highway today... I didn't do that bad; I'm still alive to type this blog... I have to learn to find the balance of trusting my side and rear mirrors... I was driving fast (at least past 60) but according to some, it wasn't fast enough. My dad told me that the guy behind me kept flashing his blinkers; I didn't even notice because I was focusing on the vehicles in front of me and making sure that I didn't miss my exit...

once I got to the city, the pace was different...narrow streets and parked cars, lots of pedestrian and cyclists...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 8:49 PM | Comments (0)

June 1, 2007

Preview: self-designed summer curriculum of FUN

to start my summer curriculum of FUN today, I watched this awesome French movie with my friend at the Ritz- a film made up of shorts from various directors, it's called Paris, Je t'aime (I'll talk more about this later...). so far this summer, i noticed the influx of French and Paris-inspired movies at the Ritz...

I did some window-shopping-- looking for 'teaching' clothes- having some sort of uniform will tremendously help me psychologically when I student-teach...

then I went to Dave and Busters- ate dinner there and got the power-card combo cheese steak and $10 worth of game points for the arcade, I played the trivia game, the air hockey, the skeeball, basketball, the classic arcade games such as pac-man, 'galaxy,' won an Eagle's bear at the machine, and got a shot glass for my friend...

then i went to Philly's First Friday celebration (held every first-Friday), held around Olde City and its many small independent art galleries...it wasn't as posh as I thought it was going to be, but it was still a great experience, they had alcohol (my friend drank a cup) but they didn't have wine and or cheese. It was an art festival of some sort. I got to see the many galleries I never knew existed which were cool. Percussions, fire-breathing display, hula demonstrations, guitar music, anti-political bumper stickers, t-shirts, kisch art, you name it, they have it.

The trends I noticed at the streets are graffiti art and irregular geometric/weird-shaped anime-esque cartoons and in the galleries- exploration of space and location (setting as character)- I saw this in the pottery and the oil paintings...

this event inspired me to make art for the sake of selling them ( I know this sounds so capitalistic but I feel like I don't have enough room in my house, I'd like to share my art to others, at least those who will be willing to pay for it, will give my art a home, sometimes I like to make art to give to people and right now there's no occasion, if i start making art now, maybe by the time the second first Friday of the summer hits I'll have several to sell (I already have ideas on how to save money for getting materials)...

the great thing about being an artist, if I like an idea and I know I can do a satifying version of that idea then I don't have to buy it and I can make it for myself (of course I'm not going to claim it and sell it as if it's my original vision but I'll keep it for inspiration)... the only time that I'd buy art is if I liked the artist's vision (me copying it will lose the original artist's interpretation- why I Iiked it in the first place) with this said, I'm thinking of buying the most expensive hat I would ever purchase to date- the modifications I'd suggest are the color scheme, less psychedelic and more cool monochromatic colors and maybe add moon and eye icons- very trivial and if it's not possible it's not the end of the world...

day one of my summer curriculum of FUN is successful and motivating...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 11:23 PM | Comments (1)

playing Nintendo's Wii

Last Wednesday, my friend invited me to her house to play the Wii, nintendo's latest gaming system... I saw the commercials, which unfortunately I didn't believe...

however after experiencing Wii for myself, all I can say is WOW...the gaming industry is getting more high tech and more awesome... I'm not surprised that technology can do this, but I am amazed (aside- why can't people spend more time developing this type of technology instead of weapons of mass destruction?)....

for those of you who don't know what Wii, here are some of its feautures:

it's like a playstation (it uses discs)
it's whitish and boxy
it has wireless control (a sensor that can detect its movement)
-enables it to be held in various ways depending on the game
it's very interactive (you're not just pushing buttons, you're swinging your arms, and a lot of eye hand coordination, twisting your wrists)
it's almost like dance dance revolution's dance mat but it's focusing on the upper body

I played this game, I forgot what it's called but it has words such as, "Monkey...splitting...balls." in its title- it has a lot of party games like darts, baseball (hitting homeruns), ring toss, jump rope etc.

then I played this game that's sports focused...I liked the bowling, there's the tennis, which can be dangerous-- I almost got carried away because I moved my hand as if I really held a tennis racket (I almost hit my friend, I almost hit the ceiling fan with the controller).. there's golf and baseball...

inspite of the awesomeness of the sensors, there are ways to cheat the system (i discovered while playing bowling, cheating the moves) inspite of this knowledge, I still like playing without cheating, it's more fun not cheating and actually winning truely, not taking shortcuts and going through the full motion, for example, a golf or baseball swing, is rewarding in itself)...

I played a revamped version of Mario Bros....there's a new villain, Count Bleck, he's a interdimensional vampire and of course he wants to detroy the world by making it void, he jumps through different dimensions from 2-d to 3-d and possibly 4-d....there were instances when the game sort of broke through the fourth wall and conversed with the players (it's all scripted but still pretty wacky...)

this dimensional hopping is taken further...the game starts out as a flat 2-d, classic Mario, then later Mario gains the power to change perspective and go into 3-d world...this is possible by changing views-- this game, the idea behind is really playful- talk about messing with your concept of illusion and space... here's an example, the flat Mario is walking sideways, then switch to the 3-d view, Mario remains flat but the scene changes, one sees the cut out board (this is advantageous because it allows an entryway to an impasse)

it's mind twisting... the drawback--Mario couldn't stay too long in the 3-d world, if he did, his hp level would go down...

Wii is pretty novel, virtual reality to another level, try it and see for yourself!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

classroom mentality

it's sort of weird finishing my undergraduate studies already...I'm glad I'm going to grad school because atleast I have a plan...the dreaded six months after graduation is not so dreadful for me, I have something to look forward to...

of course i still have the classroom mentality so I'm going to modify it and use it to my advantage (hopefully), the world will be my classroom, the people of the world will be my new classmates, breaking into the publishing world and making the most out of my life will be my new homework and research project, I'll always strive for that metaphoric "A", do extra credits, do it genuinely no 'bs'

never fret, I'm not that naive, I know there'll be bullies and people who'll think your stuff is crap, who'll be nit-picky, who'll make your life a living hell, BUT with the bad, there are also the good people, who'll tutor you, have (office) hours for consultation or talking, who'll work with you (team work)...

the possibilities are endless, they are not far-fetched, they're attainable (just keep working, work hard)...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)