Always Outside Looking In

October 18, 2019 at 11:46 PM | Posted in Musings | Leave a comment
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You know that feeling when you think you belong to a group but you’re actually not? I get that most of the time. I am an introvert with a bad case of social anxiety. I am awkward around people, and most of the time I don’t know what to say to them or how to react to certain situations. And that’s why most people perceive me as cold and aloof. Because I don’t talk much. I don’t smile much.

I’m not inclined to respond to small talk, especially about mundane things. If something doesn’t pique my interest, I have very little reaction to it. I mean, I try to be sociable. God knows I try. But it’s just hard for me. And it can be very stressful trying to be sociable, especially around people I don’t know very well.

Maybe that’s why even when I’m part of a few groups I still feel like an outsider. Conversations happen in front of me or around me, but there are times when I feel like I’m being excluded because I can’t keep up with their chatter or with their humor. I’m in the circle but I’m not really in it. I’m just looking in.

Bank Heist with a Twist

September 22, 2019 at 6:21 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This article contains mild spoilers of La Casa de Papel (a.k.a Money Heist). Read at your own risk.

 

It’s not uncommon to hear about people who are named after a city – Paris, Florence, Geneva, etc. But it’s not common to see almost an entire cast of characters in a TV show who are named after global cities. And that’s part of the attraction of La Casa de Papel, the Spanish TV show that took the world by storm last year. Most of the characters on the show are named after a city – Tokyo, Berlin, Denver, Nairobi, Helsinki, Moscow, Rio, and Oslo.

I admit that I hadn’t heard about this show in 2018 but it eventually caught my attention this year because of the worldwide publicity it’s getting and word of mouth on social media. At first I thought La Casa de Papel was just another mushy telenovela so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But when it was heavily promoted by Netflix (under an English title called Money Heist) and a lot of people were tweeting about it, I got curious and checked it out. And I instantly loved it.

I didn’t mind that the show was in Spanish as I’m used to watching foreign films with English subtitles. Netflix had the show dubbed in English but I preferred the original Spanish version because I loved hearing the actors’ actual voices. Besides, the characters’ emotions couldn’t be captured perfectly by the English dub.

One of the things that drew me to the show was its unique premise. It’s not a typical story about a bank heist. It’s more than that. It’s about a bunch of brazen bank robbers who decided to rob the Royal Mint of Spain – by printing their own money while holed up inside. Each robber had their own personal reasons for taking the job, and viewers got to see their emotional journey throughout the show’s three parts (the show is written in parts, not seasons as is the standard in US shows).

Another major draw for me was Raquel Murillo, the police inspector assigned to negotiate with the robbers during the bank heist. I’m always drawn to strong female characters on a show and Raquel is no exception. She has that commanding presence that pulls you in with her personal back story. She’s strong, smart and able to stand her ground against her male counterparts, and even against the mastermind of the heist who preferred to be known only as “The Professor.” But behind her strong persona also lies a vulnerable side, and this gave her character more depth.

Speaking of the professor, he’s one interesting and intriguing character as well. In part 1 of the show, the professor was somewhat of a mystery. Viewers only knew him as this dorky, awkward but brilliant man who hired and trained the robbers to commit the biggest bank heist in the country’s history. There wasn’t much back story given except for the fact that he was a sickly child who spent most of his childhood and teenage years in a hospital. But later on in part 2, viewers got a glimpse of his personal life and how he’s related to his fellow robber Berlin. More of that relationship was explored in the show’s part 3, which ended in a cliffhanger.

I must say that the show’s parts 1 and 2 were their strongest. Part 3 was a bit underwhelming for me, with several loopholes and unnecessary scenes to beat. Now that the show recently wrapped up production of part 4, I’m hoping that the latest edition will be as gripping and action-packed as the previous parts and that the characters will be fully fleshed out and developed further, especially the professor.

Woke

August 25, 2019 at 3:18 PM | Posted in Musings, TV | Leave a comment

I grew up at a time when society’s perception of women in general was still traditional and backwards. Even in the media and on TV back then, I was used to seeing women being portrayed mainly as housewives who do all the household chores while the men work or play sports. That, or women were portrayed as only sex objects to be played around by men.

Growing up in a traditional household and with strict Catholic upbringing, I was taught that women should do all the housework and that they should know how to cook, sew and mend clothes, and take care of children. I grew up in a big house living with extended family members, with aunts, uncles and male cousins around the house. They used to hold parties every now and then and I would observe that women would stay on one side sipping punch while the men drink hard liquor and smoke cigarettes on the other side.

Back then, my extended family and I would also often watch TV together. So early on, I was exposed to so much sexism on TV and movies – from James Bond films to beauty contests. My family thought it was amusing to see James Bond sleep with so many women and just discard them easily. To them it’s okay because “he’s a man.” They also thought there’s nothing wrong with men ogling women in bikinis in a beauty contest.

But now that I’m an adult, I realized just how much women were at a disadvantage back then, and how they were wrongly perceived and treated by society. That’s why I stopped watching beauty contests and James Bond movies because of how they treat women.

It’s rare to see strong female characters on TV and movies back then. But we’ve come a long way now and women in the media and in the entertainment industry are now well represented compared to 30-50 years ago (maybe not completely yet but we’ll get there).

That’s why I’m very thankful for shows like The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess for having strong female characters that changed television. These strong female characters taught me that women are just as smart and capable as men.

Being Different

July 29, 2019 at 3:39 PM | Posted in Music, Musings | Leave a comment

Do you ever get that feeling when you hear a song for the first time and it feels like it’s speaking to you?

Well that has happened to me before but more recently when I first heard the song, “So Am I” by Ava Max. The song first caught my attention because of its catchy beat but when I heard the lyrics, it felt like it was talking about me.

The song talks about being different from everyone else and embracing that difference. For years, I’ve always felt that way about myself. Having social anxiety all my life, people generally regard my silence and aloofness as weird. I don’t talk much and I don’t smile much, especially around strangers. Like what in the song says, I get weird looks because of it and can hear whispers from people talking about me behind my back. Most of the time, I can feel people’s eyes on me regarding my “weirdness” with interest.

It’s just refreshing to see that there’s a song out there that makes people like me feel like I’m not the only one. That there are others who are like me. The song is genuine, uplifting and generates positivity. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a danceable tune too.

So Am I

(Artist: Ava Max)

Do you ever feel like a misfit?
Everything inside you is dark and twisted
Oh, but it’s okay to be different
‘Cause baby, so am I (So am I, so am I, so am I-I-I-I-I)

Can you hear the whispers all across the room?
You feel her eyes all over you like cheap perfume
You’re beautiful, but misunderstood
So why you tryna be just like the neighborhood?

I can see it, I know what you’re feelin’
So let me tell you ’bout my little secret
I’m a little crazy underneath this
Underneath this

Do you ever feel like a misfit?
Everything inside you is dark and twisted
Oh, but it’s okay to be different
‘Cause baby, so am I (So am I, so am I, so am I)
Do you ever feel like an outcast?
You don’t have to fit into the format
Oh, but it’s okay to be different
‘Cause baby, so am I (So am I, so am I, so am I-I-I-I-I)

Oh so, dressed so fancy like Sid and Nancy (Yeah)
Walkin’ Killer Queen, gotta keep ’em guessin’
So baby come pass me a lighter
We’re gonna leave ’em on fire
We’re the sinners and the blessings

I can see it, I know what you’re feelin’
So let me tell you ’bout my little secret
I’m a little crazy underneath this
Underneath this, ooh

Do you ever feel like a misfit?
Everything inside you is dark and twisted
Oh, but it’s okay to be different
‘Cause baby, so am I (So am I, so am I, so am I)
Do you ever feel like an outcast?
You don’t have to fit into the format
Oh, but it’s okay to be different
‘Cause baby, so am I (So am I, so am I, so am I-I-I-I-I)

You’re king and you’re queen
You’re strong and you’re weak
You’re bound but so free
(Ah-ah-ah)
So come and join me
And call me Harley
And we’ll make a scene

Do you ever feel like a misfit?
Everything inside you is dark and twisted
Oh, but it’s okay to be different
‘Cause baby, so am I (So am I, so am I, so am I)
Do you ever feel like an outcast?
You don’t have to fit into the format
Oh, but it’s okay to be different
‘Cause baby, so am I (So am I, so am I, so am I-I-I-I-I)

Source: LyricFind

 

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.

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