Of Books and Bookshops

July 30, 2017 at 10:33 PM | Posted in Books | Leave a comment
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I just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods last week and I’m sort of looking for a new book to read. I wasn’t supposed to buy a new one because I still have several books piled up in my collection waiting to be read. But there were two books I’ve been meaning to buy for years but kept putting them off, so I convinced myself that I just had to have them.

I’m a big fan of Anne Rice, so when I learned that her famous Vampire Chronicles will have a continuation, I got excited. It had been my intention to buy her 2014 book, Prince Lestat for years and I finally did this weekend. I cannot wait to revisit my beloved vampire characters again in the book, especially Lestat and Louis, and find out what they’re up to now. I know Anne Rice has two more recently released books about Lestat, and I’m also looking forward to read them.

The second book I bought was Memories by Lang Leav. I kept hearing about Lang Leav for years and how popular she is so my interest was piqued. Out of curiousity, I checked out some of her poems and was surprised that they were really good. I’m a sucker for heart-wrenching poems and Leav certainly captured that in her work. And it’s only recently that I finally decided to get a copy of one of her books.

My recent trip to several bookshops this weekend has got me pondering about the state of books these days. When I entered the bookshops, I was saddened to see that the books have become limited. There were hardly books in the stores; all I could see were rows and rows of art and school supplies and standard textbooks. There used to be a time when bookshops were packed with books in many genres. Today, with the advent of mobile devices such as Kindle and smartphones where people can just read books in digital form, bookshops now only sell limited titles.

Times are changing and I know that there are advantages of digital books, but I’m an old-fashioned book lover. I’d rather read a book in printed form than in digital form. For me, the experience I get in reading printed books is different. It’s more personal and intimate that way. It’s just not the same when reading digital books.

Wonder Woman Successfully Sets the Tone for Female Superheroes

June 5, 2017 at 9:25 AM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | 3 Comments
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SPOILER ALERT: This movie review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk!

After years of drought in not having any worthy female superhero in films, we are finally gifted with something that is at par with the other superhero blockbusters out there. Wonder Woman is a magnificent film that truly puts women at the center of the action.

I never read any of the Wonder Woman or Justice League comics when I was a child. And I never watched a single episode of its classic TV adaptation which starred Lynda Carter. So I’m basically a newbie in the Wonder Woman universe. And naturally I’m curious to see the movie when it was first unveiled at the San Diego Comic Con. And I got more excited when I saw the first trailer of the movie.

I first got to see Diana Prince, a.k.a Wonder Woman in the Batman v. Superman movie and I was already impressed by the character. It was a delight to see her in action fighting alongside Superman and Batman. Now I’m glad that she has her own solo movie.

Wonder Woman is an empowering film for women and young girls. In the movie, we get to see the origins of Wonder Woman herself, back when Diana is still a child and under the watchful eye of her mother, Queen Hippolyta and aunt, Antiope. We watch her grow up to become a fierce Amazon warrior just like the other Amazons living in Themyscira. We also get to see a glimpse of her in the future, where she maintains communication with Bruce Wayne – a direct reference to the scenes in Batman v. Superman.

I greatly enjoyed the scenes in Themyscira with its sweeping, picturesque setting. It’s refreshing to see those scenes where an island is populated by female warriors. Robin Wright is fantastic as Antiope. So is Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta. They are just as fierce as Wonder Woman herself. Seeing the Amazons fight the invading Germans is a sight to behold.

However, when the film’s setting moves to London, it becomes a bit of a drag. Chris Pine as Steve Trevor is uninteresting and rather bland. The love story between him and Diana feels forced. It would have been better if the writers did not factor in a love story in the film. The movie could hold on its own without a love story.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is both fierce and endearing. Her character, Diana, has that naïve quality about her, especially when she first sets foot in London. She doesn’t know the ways of the modern world, especially when it comes to war. She is plucked out of her secluded, primitive world and thrown into a new world she couldn’t understand. But as she comes to know more and more of mankind and herself, we see her mature slowly and become what she is in the future. And despite the horrors of war she witnessed, she still has an earnest belief that there is goodness in every man. She is both soft and strong and very brave in facing off with the bad guys, especially Ares.

I think David Thewlis as the god of war Ares was miscast. He looks out of place in that costume. I just wish that there were more scenes in Themyscira, though. I’m interested in knowing more of Hippolyta and Antiope and their back story as Amazons. I hope the movie sequel will get to explore that.

Coffee is Life

May 31, 2017 at 10:47 PM | Posted in Food and Dining, Health | Leave a comment
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I have been going to a cardiologist in the past couple of months due to my consistent high blood pressure. The doctor advised me to avoid caffeine since it’s one of the causes of my blood pressure going up. But as an avid coffee drinker, I just can’t give up coffee for life. So I told the doctor that I drink coffee every day. That’s what perks me up in the morning when I wake up. That’s what also keeps me going throughout the day. She then advised me to reduce my coffee intake. And that’s fine by me – for now.

Actually, even before I went to the doctor, I have reduced my coffee intake. No particular reason, except perhaps because in recent months I have been too busy with work that I can survive a day with just two cups of coffee.  But there were times in the past months that I would be too busy that I couldn’t even finish my cup of coffee because I was always on the go. Sounds crazy, right? By the time I’d return for my coffee, it had gone cold.

I’m recently diagnosed as hypertensive. So the doctor’s advise is really workable for me at this time. I’m also taking medicines to control my blood pressure so at least I’m still looking after my health.

YOLO

April 30, 2017 at 11:58 PM | Posted in Health, Musings | Leave a comment

You only live once. Life is short. Seize the day.

I have heard of these lines many times before but they take on a different meaning for me these days. Just this week, I found out that my uncle has been recently diagnosed with lung cancer. I was completely surprised by this because I never thought it would happen to him even though he’s a heavy smoker. I mean, I’m not really sure how many cigarettes he smokes in a day but I know that he smokes several times a day.

I’m not really close to my uncle given that he went to Bahrain to work when I was just a child. I was already in college when he came back in the country for a short visit. Since then, he’s been coming home every two years. When he’s in the country for a visit, he would often hang around and go out with my male cousin. But since my cousin got married and got busy with his family, I became my uncle’s companion most of the time. He came to visit me when I was in Dubai for a few weeks in 2015. We had fun touring Dubai together. Since that trip, I somehow reconnected with him. He’s unlike my other uncles. He’s open-minded and he can level with anyone he speaks with.

And now that he’s sick, I feel very sad. He was diagnosed about two months ago but no one told me and my sister. My aunt – who first found out – assumed that we knew. I keep in touch with my uncle through email when he’s in Bahrain. I emailed him just last month but I never got a reply. Little did know that he was already sick.

I could just imagine what he must have felt like when he found out about his cancer. My aunts told me that he’s been crying ever since he found out and he’s depressed. He’s scheduled for an operation next week and I don’t know what will happen to him after that. I only know that he’s going to come home for good soon.

This sad news just makes me realize how important one’s health is, and how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle. Thank God I don’t smoke. I never tried smoking in my whole life and I have no plans in doing it. But in the past few months, my health also took a considerable turn. I’m always stressed out and exhausted because of work. I’m sleep-deprived and could not eat properly. My blood pressure is way up most of the time and I’m in and out of the clinic because of it. My uncle’s situation is definitely a wake up call. As the saying goes, “You only live once,” which means I have to take care of myself and start putting myself first above all.

I really hope my uncle will fight it off and get better eventually. He’s still young and I hope he lives longer.

‘Suits’ Season 6.5 Review: Characters in Retro

March 5, 2017 at 12:03 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This TV review contains major spoilers of the back half of Suits season 6. Read at your own risk!

The back half of Suits season 6 just ended its run last week. Considering that the first 10 episodes of the season was a major disappointment for me (read my previous review here), I wasn’t expecting much from episodes 11 to 16. And true enough, Suits 6.5 was really underwhelming for me.

While episodes 11 and 12 came out strong, the rest of the episodes fell flat. First of all, most of its main characters seemed to have gone back to their old ways. Harvey went back to being the selfish a**hole that he was in season 1. Rachel went back to being Mike’s supportive girlfriend instead of being the promising lawyer that we saw in the “P.S.L.” episode. Mike still felt self-entitled and didn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. And while Donna had her own storyline, she remained as Harvey’s loyal secretary. Louis seemed to be the only one who showed growth in the back half of this season.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I would have thought Harvey has grown as a character after “The Painting” episode when he dealt with his issues with his mother. I really enjoyed that episode because the viewers got to see more of Harvey’s vulnerable side after what felt like for so long when he had to deal with his panic attacks in season 5. But it seemed like he’s back to being the selfish, arrogant lawyer we saw in season 1 and 2. He still thinks that every problem can be solved by intimidation and blackmail. He thinks that every person has a dirty little secret waiting to be uncovered. He still operates in shady terms – and he has dragged Mike and Rachel into it.

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Photo credit: cybervillager.net

The show’s writers seemed to like explaining this away by introducing another shady character who would strong-arm Harvey into making shady deals. I mean, really? We’ve seen this before in previous seasons. It’s getting tiring already. I’m really disappointed with Harvey this season. Watching him stubbornly trying to get Mike into the Bar despite Mike telling him he’s not coming back to the firm was so frustrating. I wanted to scream at him and smack him in the head! At this point, I don’t think he is fit to be the managing partner of the firm.

The Fraud Doth Protest

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Photo credit: recapguide.com

At the start of season 6.5, I was beginning to like Mike again and started rooting for him when he kept turning down Harvey’s offer to come back to the firm. I actually prefer him to stay working at the legal clinic and be a good mentor for Oliver. They have a good dynamic going on between them. But then, despite his protests and claims that he’s never coming back to the firm, and that he wanted to do good and help people, he eventually partnered with Harvey and lied and deceived people along the way. All because he wanted to be a lawyer again. For me, that just came off as pretentious and selfish. It seems like Harvey is not a good influence for him.

More Than Just Harvey’s Legal Secretary

When I first learned that Donna would be having her own storyline in the back half of season 6, I got excited. I was really looking forward to it. As I mentioned before in my previous posts about Suits, Donna remained as an underdeveloped character. I wanted to know more about her background and see her grow as a character. But the show’s writers unfortunately gave her a ridiculous storyline this season. It was so silly that it’s cringe-worthy.  I could only shake my head in disappointment.

I imagined the writers would at least give her a storyline that’s very close to her interests and passion, or at least something to do with her family. Donna’s passion is obviously in performing arts. She was a promising pianist when she was a teenager and wanted to become a stage actor. The writers could have worked around this story. But what did they do instead? They made her as a digital assistant! They probably thought that it’s cute and funny to have a digital assistant called “The Donna,” but to me, it was just ridiculous! Like I said in my previous Twitter post, Suits and artificial intelligence don’t mix.

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Photo credit: recapguide.com

The sad fact of this was that Donna had to share screen time with a minor character – Benjamin, the IT guy. The digital assistant concept wasn’t even hers, it was Benjamin’s. And let’s not ignore the fact that Benjamin recording Donna for two years without her knowledge was an outright violation of privacy. How creepy and stalker-ish was that?!

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Photo credit: twitter.com/Suits_USA

The only good that came out of her storyline was the fact that Donna finally realizes that she could be more than just Harvey’s legal secretary. And I love it that we finally had a glimpse of her vulnerable side as well, although it’s not enough. We mostly see her as the strong, dependable support of the other characters – from Harvey, Rachel, to Louis and Mike. And it’s refreshing to see that she has vulnerabilities as well. To echo what Donna said in the season finale, “I want something more” for her. I want to see her pursue her own dreams away from the firm even if she has to leave Harvey. I think it would be good for her if she leaves him and be successful on her own. And I really hope the writers don’t mess up with her storyline again when season 7 rolls in.

A Disaster Waiting to Happen

I think it’s safe to say that everybody saw it coming that Louis would eventually break up with Tara. Louis and Tara’s love story felt forced right from the start. I didn’t see or feel any chemistry between them. They didn’t even look in love at all. So it’s not surprising that they fought and eventually broke up. To recap, it was Tara’s decision to break up with Louis after a huge fight. Louis got dumped via voicemail, and it’s rather sad to see him get heartbroken again.

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Photo credit: mic.com

I really admired at how Louis has grown in the back half of this season. He managed to control his temper when dealing with Donna’s case. With Rachel and Katrina’s help, he put the firm first instead of his personal life unlike what he did before. I can’t say the same with Harvey who practically abandoned the firm to deal with Mike – again.

In the Shadows

Rachel seemed to have backtracked in the back half of this season. Instead of seeing her more as a promising lawyer, we mostly got to see her playing the part of the supportive girlfriend again. Although in the beginning of season 6.5, we saw her struggle with decision to either stay at the firm or leave and work for her father, her story quickly retreated into the shadows to focus on Mike. When will Rachel ever get her own story as well that doesn’t involve Mike?

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Photo credit: spoilersguide.com

I feel bad for Meghan Markle that she had to work with this limited material given to her. I’m sure she could do more as an actress aside from just acting as Mike’s girlfriend. I’d like to see Rachel kick ass in the court more without Mike. She shines without Mike in the picture.

And on that note, I really hope the Suits spin-off about Jessica Pearson pushes through and would include Rachel and Donna in it. The women of Suits deserve a better storyline.

Side Notes

  • Jessica came back briefly to save the day. The “Character and Fitness” episode was saved from being a total mess when Jessica appeared. I liked her better as the firm’s managing partner.
  • It’s incredulous that Mike will remain working for the legal clinic but will have an office at PSL. That’s a stretch already.
  • Mike and Rachel’s wedding hasn’t happened yet. How long will the writers have to drag this?
  • Harvey’s dream in the “She’s Gone” episode was pretty telling. You don’t dream about kissing and being in bed with your secretary and still consider your relationship platonic. A note to Aaron Korsh: stop dragging Darvey and get them together already!
  • So good to see Katrina Bennett back again.
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