Hoodwinked!

The 3D animated film Hoodwinked is now showing in Australian cinemas at last (a year after the US showing). I’ve been waiting for this movie for a while now. From the previews you may have seen of it, you’ll see that it doesn’t compare that well, quality-wise, to recent 3D animated offerings such as Over the Hedge and Cars. Still, I anticipated the showing of this animation because my brother was lead animator for one of the characters.

Yep. This 3D film was animated in the Philippines by Filipino animators. The reason for the apparent low quality of the film was mostly due to the limited budget the producers had when they started. Not to mention the fact that this was the very first project animated by the team of Filipino animators who did this film. They finished making this film a couple of years ago but had a very tough time getting it distributed in the US. It only got a limited release in the US on December 2005.

My brother animated the high-strung squirrel, Twitchy. I realise that Over the Hedge also has a high-strung squirrel called Hammy but I believe that Twitchy was animated this way first. But, here in Australia, Over the Hedge was shown in theatres first so it would seem like Twitchy is the copy cat (er, squirrel). Anyway, I’m so proud of my brother’s accomplishment with this film.

Sure, in terms of 3D graphics, it could’ve been better but given their limited budget and experience, I think they managed to pull it off anyway. You’ll notice that the quality slowly and steadily improves as the film progresses.

Story-wise, I found it hilarious. It is certainly different than what it first seems from watching just the trailer. So, even if you may not be impressed by the quality of graphics on this film, I think you’ll find the story quite interesting and funny.

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Published in: on August 16, 2006 at 12:37 pm  Comments (9)  

Anatomy for beginners

The title in the TV Guide had me curious, what is this show Anatomy for Beginners? Clicking on the title opened another window with this description, This four-part series profiles Professor Gunther von Hagens’ work which is considered by many to be shocking and controversial. However, von Hagens believes that the dissections he performs on human bodies lay bare the intricacy of the human design. Shocking and controversial eh? I marked the show on my personal TV guide and watched the show.

The first episode tackled movement, with German anatomist Gunther von Hagen who invented plastination, dissecting a cadaver to show how the muscles, tendons and ligaments in our body work. I must admit that it was the first time I’ve watched a real dissection and let’s just say it left a lasting impression in my mind. It was indeed shocking, confronting and yet after the initial revulsion, was also quite riveting. While we’ve all seen drawings of the human body, they just don’t do justice to the real thing. It was also fascinating to see how the different small parts all work together to make various parts of our bodies function.

The succeeding episodes discussed circulation, digestion and finally, reproduction. Although not for the faint of heart, it is a must-see for all people interested in anatomy, maybe more so for people studying medicine. It’s also a great way to appreciate the different parts of our bodies. I’ve always been fascinated by the brain but now have a newly found appreciation for the lungs, who ever imagined that those pair of unassuming sacs could be so beautiful? A pair of healthy ones, at least. I remember one of the show’s presenters commenting that if we humans have transparent skins on our chests, we would take better care of our lungs.

I guess von Hagens’ enthusiasm for his work also shows that even the most difficult subjects could be made interesting by a great teacher. Credit must be given as well to Professor John A. Lee, whose explanations give the audience background information and depth to the topic at hand. The series is now available on DVD, Live and Uncut Anatomy for Beginners (an unintended pun on uncut?) According to the voice-over announcer at the end of the show, it is now available at Dymocks and JB Hi-fi for those who are interested.

Published in: on August 7, 2006 at 11:40 pm  Comments (3)  

Miss Universe 2006

In true Pinoy form, we spent 2 hours watching the broadcast of the Miss Universe 2006 pageant on TV last night. Unlike in the Philippines where the pageant is shown live, it’s even a wonder the event was shown here at all.

We knew Miss Puerto Rico would walk away with the crown from media announcements but we thought we’d watch the show anyway. Both Miss Australia and Miss Philippines (who won Miss Photogenic) were eliminated early on when they didn’t even get to the top 20. Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana, was our early favourite from the start when she dressed as a samurai in the national costume segment. From the crowds’ cheers, we’re guessing that she’s a crowd favourite as well. I thought she would have gotten the crown too, had she answered the question in the interview segment a bit more cohesively. Hubby thought she was short-changed by the interpreter, who stammered mid-way into the translation. Tough luck, as she’s very pretty and seems like she’s a lot of fun to have around.

Overall, I think Miss Puerto Rico deserved her win. She’s beautiful and did well on all the competition’s categories. A complete package, as they say.

Published in: on July 26, 2006 at 8:05 am  Comments (4)  

Out of Action

I haven’t been posting for a while now. Reason? Well, let me count the ways.

Been Sick
Yes. I was sick, for real. I took a sick leave two Fridays ago because I had a bad case of hayfever or something I thought was hayfever. Because a week later, I still had a blocked-up nose and couldn’t stop from sneezing. It was terrible. My nasal passages were making odd creaking noises whenever I took breath. I was pretty sure my officemates noticed it during one of our meetings.

Watching Movies
We watched the Pixar/Disney CG movie, Cars, last weekend with our friend Irar. I liked the movie and i thought it was hilarious (almost as hilarious as Dreamworks’ Over the Hedge, in my opinion). I think I would’ve enjoyed the movie better though it my head throbbing and my eyes watering (because of my illness mentioned above). We were planning to eat out with Irar after the movie but because of my not-feeling-well, I had to cut our outing a little short.

Bought Magic Sing
Magic Sing is basically a microphone with a video karaoke machine built-in. I think it is quite popular in Manila and Pinoy expats. I found out about it from our friend and neighbor, Milkshake. He has one and we’ve used it a couple of times. It made me want to have one, too. Unfortunately, that meant waiting till we fly home to the Philippines to buy one.

But, as fortune would have it, we just discovered that Magic Sing was actually available locally in Australia. We saw one on eBay and bought one including a chip that plugs in to the mic that contains about 900+ songs in Tagalog. The Magic Sing mic itself has about 2000 English songs already. I’d say that is a better deal than having to buy the Singstar mics and song games for the Playstation2.

So, we ended up “testing” it after I received it in the post. And we’ve been “testing” it ever since.

Caught Up to Star Trek Enterprise Season 4
Yes, Enterprise ended a long time ago in the US. Here in good old Australia, Enterprise Season 4 has just begun showing every Tuesday midnight (Wednesday, actually) on Channel 9. Then, for several weeks, Enterprise disappeared from Channel 9 without notice because of the Wimbledon tournament telecast.

In the end, we sought another way of finally catching up to the last season of the Enterprise series. So, when we weren’t testing the Magic Sing mic, we were watching episodes from Enterprise season 4. Too bad it had to be cancelled just when it finally lived up to its story premise and setting. I have to say that I liked most of the episodes but I hated the last episode of the series. They should’ve just ended it with the episode before last.

Watching our Favourite TV Shows
Our current faves on TV are 24 (good on Channel 7 for doing double-episodes twice a week), House, Prison Break (season finale last week and I felt short changed), Stargate: SG-1 (season 10 at last! About bloody time, Channel 7), NCIS, Numb3rs, Desperate Housewives, CSI, Ghost Whisperer (a reluctant fave), Beyond Tomorrow, Catalyst, What’s Good For You, Lonely Planet Six Degrees, Lost (actually, we’ve seen it all through to the last episode of the current season but eh), Honey We’re Killing the Kids, Border Security, Medical Emergency, and Mythbusters. Yeah, we’re such a couple of couch potatoes.

Working Out
Since we are such couch potatoes, we figured we need to work out. Watching shows like What’s Good For You and Honey We’re Killing the Kids actually motivates me to work out and eat healthier as well. Anyway, we have The Biggest Loser – The Workout DVD and we’re following the workout plan outlined in the DVD.

We had to workout for around 45 minutes six times a week for six weeks to see results. We’re currently in week number three and we haven’t exactly done the recommended six days in one week. Still, better some exercise than none. I can already feel the workouts becoming easier and less painful. At the very least, my joints don’t make as much noises as when I started out.

Drawing my Webcomic
And when I’m not testing the mic, watching TV, movies or DVD and working out, I’m drawing pages for my Lovarian Adventures webcomic. I had to draw a page that has horses in it and set in a forest. So, I had to do research on trees and horses. In the end, I faked most of it. Here is the end result.

And now, I finally had some time to write something up for the blog.

Published in: on July 16, 2006 at 11:04 am  Comments (1)  

Seeds of memory

I don’t exactly recall how old I was but I remember it happened on a a very hot day and I was at my grandparents’ home. Tired and sweaty after playing, I gladly had some of the cold watermelon slices I was offered as a snack. It was sweet and juicy but in my haste in consuming the fruit, I had accidentally swallowed a couple of seeds.

I remember my terror as I felt it slide through my throat. I tried to force it back out but couldn’t. I think my grandma assured me it was okay but I was still worried as I walked back home. I was always told that I wasn’t supposed to swallow seeds, why would adults give out that warning if it’s okay to eat them anyway? I was convinced I would have to be rushed to the hospital soon and doctors would have to open me up and hunt for the seeds in my stomach. Terrible thoughts, I know.

Which may probably be why I cried as I walked the short distance home. I was crying when I recounted the incident to my mother and was still sobbing when my dad came home from work nearly an hour later.

My dad asked my mom what I was wailing about and she told him that I had swallowed a few watermelon seeds. My dad then told me that the seed would now germinate in my tummy and that it would grow, not a bad thing he said, as we’d then have our very own watermelon source. Imagine all the watermelon we could have for free, he said.

In my mind’s eye, I saw my stomach would grow, housing a humongous watermelon that would have vines that would stick out of my mouth, which would produce more watermelons. I figured that what must have happened to all those women who walk around with their big bellies, they must have swallowed watermelon seeds too!

Of course, I howled even louder and my mom scolded my father for scaring me more than I already was. He told me then that he was just kidding and that I having nothing to worry about. I don’t remember how he convinced me that he was telling the truth then but I guess I bought it or I would have remembered crying all night.

One night several years later when we were having some watermelon after dinner, I told my dad to eat his slice carefully or the seeds might grow inside his belly. He laughed, amused that I remembered the incident from several years back. He said he thought that I may be too young to remember what had happened then.

What bought on this anecdote? Well, we were watching the TV show What’s Good For You last night and they tackled this old wives’ tale. I figured long before the experiment on the show that the seeds won’t have a harmful effect. Hey, I even enjoy eating roasted butong pakwan (watermelon seeds) now and what do you know, it’s actually nutritious!

Still, I now prefer the seedless watermelon variety. Pity they’re not as common in the Philippines as it is here or it might have saved me from that horrific memory from many years before.

Published in: on July 11, 2006 at 5:03 pm  Comments (2)  

Superman Returns Just Didn’t Fly

I’ve eagerly awaited the coming of Superman Returns to theatres for quite some time now. I was a big Superman fan in my younger years (the movies and the actual DC comics). Even though in retrospect, Superman III was very silly and Superman IV was horrible, I thought they were pretty good at the time. I also got into the Superman-related TV shows such as Lois and Clark, Superboy and, recently, Smallville.

So, when I heard that ex-X-Men director Bryan Singer got tapped to direct the latest Superman film, I was all excited. He did a pretty decent job with the X-Men franchise, after all.

Time passed and information regarding the new film started to leak to the press. I was doubtful of Singer’s selection of Brandon Routh as Superman. Sure he kinda resembled Christopher Reeve but that shouldn’t be the only basis for his selection. Well, this is the first time I’ve heard of him so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and wait till I see him in action before I pass judgement.

Then photos from the movie started to appear on the Web. I didn’t like the swimsuit texture of the suit, the maroon cape, the small S-shield on his chest and that ridiculous small S-shield on his belt buckle. Well, maybe I wouldn’t notice it much when I’m actually watching the movie.

Last night, we watched Superman Returns at the Werribee Plaza cinema. Due to some Coke promo, we were able to watch the movie for only $5 each. And it was lucky that we did, too. Because I was disappointed with the film overall.

If you haven’t watched the movie yet and have every intention to do so, I have to warn you that there would be spoilers ahead. If you believe me that it is not worth watching, then by all means, read on. If you still want to watch it anyway and don’t want to get spoiled, stop now and just read this later.

Anyway, the new movie seems to have started where Superman and Superman II (yes, the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeve as Superman) left off. You can forget that Superman III and IV ever happened. My point is, we should pretend that the first and second movies actually already happened in this movie’s continuity. But if that’s true, then why did they rehash the exact same lines of dialogue from those two movies in this one?

I’ll admit that I’m a geek and that I have the dialogue for the first two movies ingrained into my brain. So when I heard the exact same dialog used by the same character on the film, it was a little jarring, if not unbelievable.

And what’s with Clark/Superman? Clark drank beer? I thought Superman doesn’t drink! He drinks milk. It’s a morality thing. Superman should stand for all that’s good and alcohol is generally considered not good for you. Sure, it makes Superman more idealistic than realistic but that’s who Superman is. If you want somebody who has less moral fibre, we have Batman for that. That annoyed me. And Superman has a bastard son?! Meaning, he had premarital sex and not safe sex. Sheesh. In the story, Lois has already moved on with her life after Superman disappeared for five years. She already has a fiance and a child. And what does Supes do? He tries to cut into someone else’s lunch? Is that right? Homewrecker! It’s so un-Superman. This should have been titled Bizarro Returns.

Lex Luthor is supposed to be this smart person but when he had a chance to kill Superman, what did he do? He let his goons kick Supes around until he was near the edge of a cliff. Then when Lex had a chance to stab him, instead of aiming for the chest, he stabbed him on the side. What for? Didn’t he want to kill him? Why take the chance? Then he let Supes fall into the sea where, of course, he got saved by Lois.

Then, while Supes was in the presence of all this Kryptonite, he was still able to lift an entire island made out of Kryptonite and throw it into space. Wasn’t Kryptonite supposed to render him powerless? It was crazy.

Then there are these parts where the people are standing and looking into the heavens evenly spaced apart from one another. What the heck was that? It was so unbelievable. There were a lot of times when I know I should feel excited by what’s happening on screen but I didn’t. I’m still wondering why. While watching, I kept on thinking why I felt more excited watching Spider-man or Batman in action but not Superman in this film. I still don’t know why.

I also hated that there were a lot of boring parts in the film. I feel like some scenes were completely unnecessary or could’ve been shortened. I also hate the fact that they had Clark return to Smallville with his mother but almost nothing happened there. Except for the mean thing than Clark did when his dog wanted to play ball with him and he threw the ball with all his strength. Of course the dog wasn’t going to be able to find that ball! Evil, Clark. Supermeany.

As for Brandon Routh, although he did look like Christopher Reeves on most shots, he couldn’t manage Chris’s benevolent smile. When Brandon smiles, it looks more like a smirk. I also feel like his performance as Clark/Superman was a bit wooden. Jimmy Olsen seemed to have performed better. But maybe it was the writers’ fault for not giving the main characters more character-development scenes. They seem to have concentrated too much on the visuals.

I could go on and on about the bad stuff so I’ll just stop here. For the good stuff, well, the visual effects were great. But you have to expect that by now with the level of technology at the studios’ disposal. And somebody flying isn’t such a big deal anymore. Spider-man swinging from building to building, now that’s amazing!

I kinda like the homage to the first films though like the ending where Superman flies off and takes orbit around the Earth. That was cool.

All in all, I disliked the film. I couldn’t stop ranting about it last night. And now, I was able to put some of those rants into writing. I can finally sleep soundly tonight.

Published in: on July 1, 2006 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Are eggs bad for you?

I’ve always loved eggs. Can’t get enough of them while growing up. Even now, actually. But for some time now, I’ve considered eating eggs a somewhat guilty pleasure. It’s a popular conception that eggs are high in cholesterol and, hence, bad for you and me. Since I’m not overly fit and getting older, I’m a bit worried about cholesterol and high-blood pressure.

Well, lately, Raquel and I have been watching this new health show on Channel 9 called What’s Good For You where they tackle health and food related issues every week. Some parts of it remind me of Mythbusters but instead of common and Hollywood-related myths, they target food and health related myths/truths. For example, in a previous episode, they wanted to find out if spinach can really boost your strength significantly like with Popeye (answer is no).

Last night, they sought out the truth as to whether eggs are good or bad for you. In their experiment, co-host Dr Andrew Rochford (also 2004 winner of the Australian home renovation reality TV show, The Block) had to eat four eggs a day for two weeks. No kidding! That much eggs. And guess what? By the end of the experiment, not only has his cholesterol level dropped from his initial level of 3.8, but it has dropped so low that the cholesterol testing unit doesn’t have a number for it!

Meaning, eggs actually help reduce bad cholesterol in the body! Rejoice!

Brisbane cardiologist Dr Karam Kostner explained on the show why:

“People who eat a lot of eggs actually shut down their bodies production of cholesterol. So the more eggs somebody eats, the less cholesterol our body produces. So that’s why a lot of people who eat a lot of eggs don’t get heart disease necessarily,” he says.

Eggs do contain cholesterol, but it’s the HDL kind (the good kind), not LDL (the bad kind). However, even though eggs lower cholesterol levels, saturated fats eaten in other foods might just counter the good effects from eating eggs.

Anyway, I’m no expert on the subject matter so I’m not qualified to go into details. To read the full write-up on the topic as seen from the show, go to the What’s Good For You website. And for another article we found on the web regarding this issue and is not related to the TV show, go here.

What this means for me now? I’m going back to eating eggs more. And to make sure I get the full benefit from eggs, I’ll just eat them boiled, poached or cooked through the microwave without any cooking oil.

Published in: on June 27, 2006 at 8:32 am  Comments (2)  

Keys Me

Last night, Raquel and I have received from a friend of ours an email titled “Keys Me” with a link to a YouTube video and not much in way of a description as to what to expect from the video. So, we clicked the link, watched and discovered why the email was titled “Keys Me”. Click on the image on the right to see the video first.

Apparently, the singer, Alyssa Alano, is a Filipino celebrity (nowadays at least as I haven’t heard of her before now) and a member of a group of female stars under contract with Viva Entertainment dubbed the Viva Hotbabes. So, no, she is not a loser in a singing contest as the video was implying with the scoring animation in the end. But then, she might as well have been.

I found the video hilarious! And not because of her accent (which is not her fault) but because she didn’t take the time to learn the lyrics of this well-known song before singing it in public. It’s as if she only knows the words from hearing the song over and over again but never really understood the words sung by the original singer from Sixpence None The Richer.

So, when she sang it, she used made-up gibberish words strung together in parts of the song that didn’t make any real sense to her — just as long as those string of words sounded like what she heard from the original song then it nobody will notice. But in fact, people who are more familiar with the song will notice, specially those who are more educated in English. The least she could’ve done was go on the Web to look for the actual lyrics for the song and memorised it before going on stage.

I feel so embarrassed for her. Her only saving grace, probably, was that she was at least moderately pleasing to watch.

Published in: on June 15, 2006 at 8:21 am  Comments (5)  

06/06/06

I dreamt of a colleague this morning asking me if The Omen is any good. Apparently she’s thinking of watching it with her kids and want to know if it’s suitable. In the dream, I told her that it’s an okay movie but definitely not for kids, especially not for the younger ones.

Releasing the remake of the 1976 classic today is a nice touch for the people handling the promotions for the film. With the reference to the once-in-a-century date which could translate to 666, it’s enough to scare some people into believing that perhaps today would be the day that would see the birth of the spawn of evil. Well, it’s enough to worry some expectant mothers from giving birth today.

As for me, I don’t think I’ll be watching the remake (unless persuaded otherwise by the hubby). I generally don’t like remakes (can’t they think of something original?) and the new one is panned as worse than the original anyway.

One horror movie I’d really like to watch is Silent Hill, based on the Playstation game about a haunted and fog-shrouded town which is now home to some pretty creepy creatures. I played the video game just to know the story and actually thought of getting the Silent Hill collection (which includes sequels 2,3 and 4). Anyway, the movie was shown a couple of months ago in the US but won’t be shown here till August. Gahhhh, why is it that movies and TV shows are always shown late here in Australia?

Going back to The Omen, don’t believe the hype. According to the Australian Catholic Film Office, the real sixth day of the sixth month in 2006 actually occured in 2002. Wonder if something momentous happened that day?

Published in: on June 6, 2006 at 1:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Da Vinci, no plot!

The showing of the Da Vinci Code movie about a fortnight ago came with the accompanying media blitz to promote the movie. There were posters, codes, clues, puzzles, trailers and full-page spreads. Catalogues distributed during that week feature Da Vinci themed advertising – books, toys, games, travel packages and whole lot of other stuff.

Gabriel and I have read the book and were excited when it was announced that it would be adapted into a movie. The excitement dampened down a bit when Tom Hanks was chosen to play main character Robert Langdon (nothing against Tom Hanks, he just wasn’t near anywhere what our mental picture of how Robert Langdon would look like). As the months wore on and the novelty of the book wore off, we realised that although the story was a thrilling page-turner, it hasn’t put forward any new ideas or concepts. Sure, Dan Brown‘s ability to stitch together a story about the holy grail, Mary Magdalene, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, plus a murder mystery is a feat in itself. I don’t think I could have written a cohesive story with all those elements in there so I still think Brown did well with this story. As my Dad says – if you can’t do it any better then whoever it is who has done it deserves credit and even admiration.

That said, I convinced hubby that we don’t really have to see the movie in the theaters as we already know how it will go. We’ve decided to just rent out the video once it comes out (complete with nifty special features and a cheaper option to boot).

As with those ads trying to ride the Da Vinci popularity, I found this one in a community paper last week which I found absolutely hilarious. The picture of the Mona Lisa, with the words “Da Vinci” on it obviously refers to the movie and underneath in big bold letters, it states that there is no plot! On closer inspection, it wasn’t commenting on the story (or lack thereof) of Brown’s work. The ad was published by a real estate firm promoting their low interest rate and claiming that they’re not plotting to con anyone.

Well, at least that one was creatively done.

Published in: on May 30, 2006 at 1:08 pm  Comments (1)