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.

My Ideal Book Conference

August 21, 2017 at 9:48 PM | Posted in Books, Writing | Leave a comment
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Are you a bibliophile? Have you ever gone to book launches by your favorite authors and lined up for hours just to get an autograph? How would you react if you meet your favorite author in person?

I was lucky enough to meet my favorite local author Jessica Zafra years ago. I used to work for a company before and we had to organize a book launch for her latest book. Of course as a fan, I was excited – and also nervous. I admired her for years and loved her writing. I have her Twisted book series in my collection. It would be my first time to see her in person. And so I did. It was a thrilling experience.

Unfortunately, since I was part of the team that organized the book launch, I wasn’t able to get an autograph from her. I remember being caught up in a flurry of activities during that time, basically just making sure that the launch ran smoothly. I didn’t even get to thoroughly enjoy watching her read passages from her new book nor was I able to fully listen to the Q & A portion where she answered questions from the fans. I was backstage most of the time. The opportunity to come up to her and ask for an autograph didn’t happen.

All the same, that was still an enjoyable experience for me. It’s rare that you get to meet your favorite author in person, much less organize a book launch for them.

Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to see your favorite authors gather in one roof? If I were given the opportunity to plan a book event myself, it would be a gathering of authors, editors and publishers. I think it would be interesting to have a mix of experts in the industry as part of the conference so that the learning is not limited to the field of writing only.

Photo credit: guardianlv.com

For the panel, I would imagine my favorite authors to be part of it. It would be awesome to see Anne Rice there in the panel. I know she often gives writing tips on her Facebook page but I think seeing her talk in person would be an immersive experience. It would also be interesting to see Neil Gaiman talk about his writing process, especially when he’s writing the TV or movie adaptation of his books.

Gaiman has already been in Manila twice but back then, I never read any of his books or comics and wasn’t a fan. But I heard he was super nice to his local fans. Now that I’ve read some of his books, I’ve become a fan. If he ever comes back to Manila, I would definitely want to meet him in person.

As a book writer wannabe myself, I know there is much to learn when it comes to publishing your work. That’s why my ideal panel for a book conference would involve editors from major and independent publishers. It would be good to hear tips from them on their editing process, or how they pick fresh material to publish, what kind of stories they think readers would want to read, etc.

Photo credit: quirkbooks.com

I’m particularly interested to hear people from Quirk Books. I think they attracted quite an attention with their Quirk Classics line. Did they ruin the classics by injecting humor and horror into them? How did that idea of reimagining the classics come about?

My ideal book conference would be in a casual and informal setting. I think it would be great to have a Mad Hatters Tea Party as a theme for the conference. Imagine authors and editors sitting next to fans and interacting with them at a long and lavish table in an al fresco setting. I think that would be more fun and lively than the usual traditional conference set up. Throw in other notable authors like Pablo Neruda or Umberto Eco (yes, I know they’re dead but they can always appear as ghosts!) in that panel and you have an interesting mix of people. And who would be perfect as moderator in the panel than the Mad Hatter himself? I think he can share his nonsense poems and riddles with the authors.

Of course, these are all just wishful thinking. I’ve had enough experience organizing corporate events myself and some conferences can be pretty boring. This imagined book conference would be my take on how I would want an interesting event to go.

Organizing events can be fun but it can be stressful too. It’s a good thing that there are helpful online tools out there such as Eventbrite that make an event planner’s life easier. And there’s nothing more satisfying than to see your events turn out to be as successful as you hope they would be.

 

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.

Opposites

February 1, 2014 at 11:33 PM | Posted in Books | Leave a comment
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I recently bought two books as a birthday treat for myself. I didn’t splurge on my birthday because I thought there’s no need to. I just wanted something simple for myself, nothing fancy. And since there’s a couple of books I’ve been wanting to read, I thought that would be the perfect gift for me.

These are actually two contrasting books because the first one is a classic while the other one is science fiction. I love the classics but I like sci-fi, too.

TheGift & Robopocalypse

I bought Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse because I was intrigued by the storyline of robots with artificial intelligence raging a war against humans. Yes, I know this sounds like I, Robot or The Terminator but it’s exactly the reason why I got interested in the book. I’m always fascinated with robots and futuristic scenarios since I was a child. I saw the first Terminator movie while I was a kid and loved it. Since then I’ve been a fan of its franchise, including the now-defunct but worth watching Sarah Connor Chronicles. I just started reading the book and so far, it’s good.

I’ve also been wanting to read a Nabokov ever since I can remember but somehow I haven’t got the chance. I got distracted by other books and had to put it aside. But lately I felt nostalgic about reading the classics so I bought myself The Gift (no pun intended). A Vladimir Nabokov novel is just something that I have got to have, and it’s been in my list of books to read.

Most people I know are now in the habit of reading e-books. I’ve read a few e-books myself but for me, there’s no substitute for the real thing. I’m old-fashioned that way. I don’t mind reading newspapers and magazines online but when it comes to books, I still prefer to read them in print. There’s nothing like the feel and smell of a real book. You can have your Kindles and Nooks but I still prefer a shelf filled with my favorite books.

Fifty Shades of Disappointment

August 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM | Posted in Book Reviews, Books | Leave a comment
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I never intended to read the Fifty Shades trilogy books even though I’ve heard so much about it. But a friend of mine offered to send me the electronic versions of it so I thought why not? There has been so much talk about these books that I might as well try reading them and see what’s all the fuss about.

Disappointment quickly came to me after reading a few chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey. Reading it felt like I was back in high school again, flipping through the pages of a Mills and Boon book. The style of writing and the basic plot is so Mills and Boon: a blushing female virgin captivated by a young male billionaire. How cliche can you get.

Image courtesy of vanityfair.com

I know I shouldn’t have expected much from an erotic novel but since this book became a bestseller I was expecting more substance. On the contrary.

I kept rolling my eyes while reading through them – the gullibility of the female character, Anastasia Steele and her swooning over Christian Grey, the young billionaire. I almost laughed out loud when I got to the part where Christian showed the Red Room of Pain to Anastasia. It wasn’t erotic at all. But perhaps that’s mainly because I don’t like S & M. I never understand why some people are into it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. I don’t mind reading erotica as long as it’s well-written. But this book just isn’t. And I just don’t see the romance in it – not when there’s a non-disclosure agreement involved. But the book is probably romantic for people who want to be whipped, flogged, or caned.

To be fair, I didn’t get to finish the book because I was just bored with it. After Chapter 16, I decided I’m done with the book. It didn’t help that according to reports, the author E.L. James, got her inspiration from the vomit-inducing Twilight series.

Fifty Shades of Grey is just an adult version of Mills and Boon with lots of kinky sex in it, nothing more. I would probably finish this book just to give it a fair review. But I can tell that my complete review wouldn’t be that much different.

In the meantime, where is that Dan Brown novel I’ve been meaning to read…

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