Good Omens is Immaculately Divine

June 12, 2019 at 4:49 PM | Posted in Books, TV | Leave a comment

What if an angel and a demon band together to stop Armageddon?

This is the premise of Good Omens, a new TV miniseries on Amazon Prime. Good Omens is based on the 1990 book written by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett.

I’ve read the book years ago and since then I’ve been waiting for it to be adapted on screen. There have been plans on making it into a movie years ago but it didn’t push through. Thankfully, this time it finally got made as a miniseries. The six-episode TV adaptation was written by Neil himself so most of what’s in the book remained intact, apart from a few tweaks here and there. The humor in the book was not lost in the adaptation either.

Good Omens is about an unlikely friendship between an angel named Aziraphale and a demon called Crowley. They’ve known each other since the beginning of creation (i.e., since Adam and Eve were created). Aziraphale first started as the angel guarding the Eastern Gate of the Garden of Eden while Crowley was the serpent who tempted Eve. Eventually they were sent to Earth by their masters to do their respective jobs – Aziraphale doing God’s work and Crowley tempting humans into committing sins. They’ve been on Earth for so long that they’ve come to love the world.

But their love for the world was about to come to an end with the arrival of the AntiChrist, who was expected to start a war that would lead to Armageddon. Not wanting for the world to end, Crowley and Aziraphale formed an alliance to stop Armageddon from happening.

On the back of that premise were a milieu of characters, celestial beings and hilarious scenarios that added flavor to the story.

Good Omens_Aziraphale and Crowley

Generally, TV and film adaptations tend to lose some of the magic of a book’s story but the Good Omens adaptation was so right in the mark that I’m fully satisfied with the outcome. The performances weren’t bad either. David Tennant was brilliant as the fun-loving, rebellious demon Crowley while Michael Sheen was ever the finicky angel Aziraphale. They played off on one another so well that it’s hard not to love the budding friendship between their characters.

Jon Hamm nailed it as the Archangel Gabriel. His character’s addition to the show despite not being in the book was a good choice. He perfectly fit the description in the book as a “pompous jackass.”

I also love the fact that the series’ choice of background music consisted mostly of Queen’s greatest hits, which was obviously a nod to a specific humor in the book.

Since the book was first published in 1990, it’s interesting to note that in several scenes in the TV adaptation, the show seamlessly mixed old technology with modern conveniences that didn’t exist during that period. Smartphones could be seen in some scenes alongside with vintage tech like rotary phones and answering machines. In the series, heaven was depicted as a modern skyscraper with glass walls and pristine interiors, while hell was a dank basement of the same building.

There were other contemporary touches in the show that made it quite timely and inclusive: God and Archangel Michael were played by women and Adam and Eve were played by black actors.

There were several scenes in the series that really stood out for me, such as Crowley and Aziraphale dancing, Crowley riding through the M25 ring of fire, Aziraphale and Crowley’s friendship depicted through spanning centuries, and of course The Beginning. The twist in the end was also a surprising delight.

There are speculations around the internet that there might be a second season of the series but for me, the fact that it got made in the first place is good enough. And well-made it is.

Trying Something New

May 26, 2019 at 9:30 PM | Posted in Lifestyle, Photography | Leave a comment
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Lately, I’m at a crossroads of my life where I want to try something different that would eventually be beneficial for me, especially in terms of my career. I’ve long been interested in art and graphic design despite the fact that I don’t have any talent for it. I can’t draw or paint even if I try but I can very much appreciate art when I see it. And I’m practically clueless when it comes to graphic design. But I’ve always been fascinated with it. So much so that I’ve enrolled myself in a short course on graphic design.

My decision to enroll in a graphic design class was born not only out of my fascination with it but also out of my frustration in editing photos and images. At work, I had difficulty in fixing images as I didn’t have any design skills. So I was hoping that my very limited skills could improve if I join a class.

I signed up for a three-day course about two weeks ago and opted for a hands-on classroom experience as online video tutorials didn’t really work for me. Video tutorials left me with more questions than answers. I didn’t learn much. I wanted a comprehensive learning environment where I could interact face to face with the instructor and fellow students.

There were only six of us in the class and all of my classmates were professionals in various fields. They wanted to improve their design skills just like me. The course covered the basics but the instructor also taught us some advanced lessons. The class had a very casual and fun environment and I got to bond with my classmates. It was a very satisfying experience as the instructor was kind and patient enough with each student. We all received certification after the course.

Now that I have completed the short course, I’m hoping that I could apply what I learned. But I’m still practicing my skills and honing them. I’m not an expert yet.

 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Series Finale Review: A Situation More Nuanced Than the Last Six Words

April 10, 2019 at 12:09 AM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers of the series finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Read at your own risk!

“This is the song I wrote.”

The last six words uttered by Rebecca Bunch before our TV screens faded to black. That’s how Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ended its fourth and final season.

It’s been one hell of a crazy rollercoaster ride for viewers like me who watched the series through the years. From the moment we saw the show’s main character Rebecca Bunch sang and danced her way to West Covina, California up to the time when she finally found love in an unexpected place, it had been a joy to watch her grow and become a better person. Her journey to personal development had been the best part of the series for me, and the final season delivered that perfectly.

The show’s series finale culminated in Rebecca finally finding love – not in the form of romantic love – but in something else. Throughout the entire series, fans had been rooting for Rebecca to be with either Josh, Greg or Nathaniel. When I started watching the show, I didn’t ship Rebecca with anyone at all. I was more interested in her crazy antics – how she would find ways to manipulate situations to her liking and how she would get out of the mess she created. But when Nathaniel came into the picture in season 2, I started shipping her with him.

But this final season, I came to realize that she didn’t need a romantic partner at all. I was more concerned about her mental well-being. She was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and it’s more important for her to take care of herself first and be better than have a boyfriend. So I was glad that in the finale that she didn’t choose any of the three men. Instead, she found love in songwriting. I wasn’t surprised by this at all.

In the second season, it was revealed that most of the musical numbers in the show were just all in Rebecca’s head. That’s the way she lived and how she arrived at decisions sometimes. She just made up all the songs in her head. So all that hidden talent finally burst out and with Paula’s help, Rebecca was able to take the first step and write the songs that’s been in her head for some time. That’s her ultimate love. I had an inkling about this after I saw the episode where she joined a community theater. I predicted that she would become a songwriter in the end and I was right.

What resonated the most for me from the final episode was the scene where Rebecca was studying to become a songwriter and she said, “When writing songs, it’s important to tell your own story.” I couldn’t agree more. As a frustrated writer, I’m constantly faced with this predicament. I’m a copywriter by profession and I write stories for other people. But I have my own stories to tell and they’re something that need to be written eventually. But I digress…

While the finale was fitting for Rebecca, I couldn’t say the same for the other characters. When it came to time jumps, the show struggled to make the story tight. I had a problem with the show’s first time jump in the previous season mainly because there was not enough build up on the storylines, especially with Valencia’s story. She was straight in earlier seasons and now she’s suddenly gay? How did that happen?! I wished there was a backstory on that.

This season’s time jump saw Darryl and her girlfriend (I don’t remember her name) having a baby. Nathaniel quit his job and went volunteering to a foreign country. Josh had a new girlfriend as well and Valencia and Beth got married. I’m fine with these overall but when it came to Heather and Hector as well as White Josh’s story, it was pretty lame. I would’ve wanted for them to have something more substantial than Heather and Hector getting a new hot tub and White Josh’s house being burned to the ground. And what was that all about George’s ponytail? I don’t get it. For me, that was unnecessary.

Overall, the finale was good as it tied up Rebecca’s story perfectly. The last six words were also fitting as the fade-to-black ending was immediately followed by the concert special where the cast performed select songs from the show. The ending meant that the songs in the concert special were the songs that were in Rebecca’s head. The first song played in the concert special (“West Covina”) was the first one she wrote. So it had that seamless transition.

I only wished the concert special was longer. But oh well, I could just settle with listening to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend soundtrack…

Soul Taking Flight: My Phantom Experience

March 22, 2019 at 11:14 PM | Posted in Lifestyle, Theater | 4 Comments
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Is it possible to love something you’ve never seen before? In my case, it is. I became a big fan of musical theater after hearing the soundtracks of some of the world’s best classic plays long before I’ve even seen them. Growing up, I never had the chance to watch any of these classic plays because tickets to these shows were expensive and I couldn’t afford it. So I just contented myself in listening to the soundtrack and watching the film adaptations of these plays. But over the years, it has always been my dream to see the plays myself. I’m talking about beloved plays like Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Starlight Express.

Among the classics, Phantom of the Opera is my favorite in terms of story and music. Having read the book from which the play was based on, I was really curious on how the story would translate to the stage.

When there was a world tour of Phantom of the Opera in 2012 and the production came in Manila, I wasn’t able to go and see it. Since then, I’ve regretted not going especially after hearing how spectacular it was. I never thought a world tour of the play would happen again but when I found out last year that there would be an Asian tour and Manila was part of it, I was ecstatic. I said to myself that I would not miss watching it this time. So I bought a ticket very early on last year, picking a seat near the stage for an intimate experience.

And it was all worth it! I watched the play last week and it was fantastic indeed! The costumes were lavish and spectacular, the set design was impressive and the performance was splendid. I was particularly taken by the Phantom’s performance, who was played by Jonathan Roxmouth. He’s every bit the Phantom I loved from the book – manipulative, menacing, maniacal, and arrogant but also had that soft side in him that no one ever saw except Christine. Speaking of Christine Daaé, the character was brought to life by Meghan Picerno, who was equally impressive in her performance as the young and naïve opera singer. I’m particularly impressed by Meghan and Jonathan’s vocal range and the depth they gave in each musical number.

The viscount Raoul was played by Matt Leisy, whose performance was a little dry in the third act. But then again, I’ve always found Raoul’s character to be dry even in the book. He’s just the type who’s too perfect. And I’m usually drawn to flawed characters like Erik the Phantom. Also notable was Beverly Chiat’s performance as Carlotta, the prima donna opera singer. She’s a delight to watch.

Stage view from my seat

In terms of venue, the Theater at Solaire is the host of the Manila leg of the play’s Asian tour this year. It’s my first time to be at the Theater at Solaire and I must say the place is a bit small and cramped. There’s not enough leg room in between seats and the stage is not that big. So it wasn’t able to do proper justice to the chandelier scene in the first act. One of my favorite scenes in the play was the masquerade ball and the entire musical number did not disappoint. But it could have been better if the stage was bigger.

All in all, it was still a memorable experience for me. To be able to see up close and enjoy the live performance including the live orchestra was an experience of a lifetime.

Leaving Facebook

January 12, 2019 at 4:14 PM | Posted in Musings, Technology | Leave a comment
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So I’ve finally deleted my personal Facebook account. I deleted it before 2018 ended. That’s always been my plan since early last year. I’ve never been an active user of Facebook. I was only forced to open an account on Facebook in 2011 because it was part of my job as a digital marketer. But over the years, I never liked the Facebook community. Somehow I found it to be a toxic community, with people always wanting to get their 15 minutes of fame with their posts, videos or photos. Everyone seemed to want their posts to become viral. People there were either always exchanging barbs against each other and picking fights with anyone or they constantly brag about how “perfect” their life is. There’s just so much fakery on Facebook that it got so tiring eventually.

Then there was the time when I was bullied on Facebook by my former coworkers. It happened to me twice and during times when I didn’t even have an account yet. A misunderstanding or minor argument with a coworker got posted on Facebook and before I knew it, people were joining in the conversation and wanting to have their say to the matter as well even if it didn’t involve them. There was too much gossiping and slandering that it became ugly. Many of those people I knew treated the platform as their designated war zone where they can harass or bully other people. I was so disgusted by it that I never accepted their friend requests nor have I added them to my friends list when I signed up on the platform.

Then of course the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened and several breaches on the platform followed. After that, I never trusted Facebook again with my private information. So when I bought a new laptop last December, I downloaded all my data and deleted my account on Facebook. I only informed a few friends about my account deletion. They know I can be reached by other means when they want to keep in touch.

It’s so easy for me to give up Facebook unlike most people who couldn’t let go of it. I’m not that addicted to the platform anyway. I prefer Twitter actually because people there are more real than on Facebook. Only a few people know about my Twitter account and I like to keep it that way.

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