An Oldie But Goodie: Guardians of the Galaxy + What If?

I owe this blog a couple of movie reviews! Over the past two weeks, I got to watch Marvel’s latest hit, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Daniel Radcliffe’s new romcom, What If? And the reason that this review is titled ‘An Oldie But Goodie’ is that both movies make use of tried-and-tested formulas for their respective genres, and still manage to come out as fun, fresh, and overall just really good films!

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Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing new: a bunch of ragtag misfit criminals, led by an outlaw with a heart of gold, who band together to save the galaxy. What makes Guardians particularly memorable is its lovable cast of characters: the tough green-skinned assassin Gamora (and c’mon girls, don’t tell me you didn’t cheer when she refused to fall victim to Starlord’s ‘pelvic sorcery!’); the honorable and cutely literal-minded Drax the Destroyer (and holy hell can Batista act, I never thought it!); wisecracking Peter Quill; and of course the oh-so adorable tandem of Rocket Raccoon and Groot (I cried when he said, “We are Groot,” at the end, not gonna lie). 

It’s a refreshing change from Marvel’s other movies, most of which have taken a pretty dark and serious turn. We know Guardians is pretty much headed that way as well, but it’s nice to be able to enjoy a more lighthearted film before everything goes to shit.

Basically, Guardians wasn’t one of Marvel’s best, but it’s still a really nice feel-good film. I think of it as a more irreverent, scruffier Star Wars with a bit of Firefly thrown in. Plus, the soundtrack is awesome! (I’ve still got ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ playing on loop in my brain.)

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What If?is also nothing we haven’t seen before. But it puts a pretty fresh spin on the whole ‘can men and women just be platonic friends?’ plot by throwing a boyfriend in the mix and — here’s the kicker — the boyfriend isn’t made out to be a total douchebag! He’s actually a nice guy, and you can actually see the conflict the girl, Chantry, goes through when deciding if she’s still in love with him or if she’s beginning to fall for her best friend, Wallace.

Ah, Wallace. Utterly adorable goofball Wallace. Minus the dead-end job and giving up on med school, anyone else get the vibe that this is what Daniel Radcliffe is like in real life?

But what I loved most about this movie is the absolutely random conversations Wallace and Chantry get into! Can I just say, this shit is so accurate I cannot even. We’ve got loads of ‘boy and girl who are best friends’ movies and books that don’t show this, but this! This is exactly what happens between best friends! Their conversations sound freaky.

Have any of you seen these movies? Let me know what you thought!

Sunday Serenity: August 10, 2014

Before I start with today’s Sunday Serenity post, I’d like to thank everyone who’s recently followed me. I’ve followed all you lovelies back. Thanks for checking my blog out!

Anyway, today’s Sunday Serenity was brought to you by my study break, along with heartfelt apologies that I did not have anything to post last August 3. I wasn’t even busy studying. I was just trying to get over a pretty big issue in my law school life - which, actually, is the driving force behind this entry.

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Let me just come out and say it. I did not do well on my midterms. It was the first time in my entire life that I’d ever failed an exam. And let me just say, I did not handle it well. The lunch period after we got our blue books back, I tried to keep up a pretense of being okay, but I just couldn’t. About fifteen minutes after sitting down in the caf with my friends, I made some lame excuse about needing to go to the bathroom and left. My best friend saw right through me and followed, eventually finding me in the stairwell trying to hold back my tears. He pulled me into a hug, and then in about half a second I was sobbing all over his coat (with snot and everything, I am NOT a pretty crier - it’s one of my greatest failings in life). 

He basically let me cry on his shoulder for the rest of our lunch hour and when I had nothing left to cry out, he gave me a long inspirational speech that basically amounted to that quote up there. (He also added at the end of said speech, “When we pass the bar, I reserve the right to laugh at you for crying over an exam in our freshman year.” I feel the love, man.) 

After a weekend of moping around my house, morosely wondering if I should just give up on law school altogether, I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the end of the world - or rather, the end of my dream (although the two are pretty much the same thing, at least for me). Admittedly, I didn’t get there all by myself. It took more inspirational messages from other friends to convince me not to give the hell up and drop out of Ateneo.

But now, instead of wallowing in my misery, I’m even more determined to excel. If there’s anything to be thankful for regarding these failing marks, it’s that now, at least, I know I’m not doing enough. I know now that I need to step up my game. At least now I can look back at what I was doing during the midterm period, determine what needs to change, and just do it.

I won’t give up on us, law school. I’m not done with you, not by a long shot.

Discovered two new places today!

Mensakaba Geishu - A ramen house in BF Homes, Parañaque. Of all the ramen places here in Manila that I’ve been to, this comes the closest to what an actual ramen bar in Tokyo looks like. Mensakaba Geishu is a relatively small, hole-in-the-wall type place, so it’s a great place to go grab your ramen fix when the line to get into places like Ramen Nagi or Yushoken is just too long.

Manna Bakery & Cafe - Also in BF Homes. They’ve actually been around for quite some time now, but I’ve only just gotten to try them out. The pastries are so-so but the tea is sublime

From My Bedside Table: Red Seas Under Red Skies

So! It seems my plan of reading at least ten books a month hasn’t exactly gone the way it hoped I would. Like most things that have gone awry in my life lately, this one can be chalked up to law school. Oh well.

However, since today was a holiday and tomorrow’s exam is more or less going to be a throwaway, I decided to catch up on my non-academic reading. I finally picked up my copy of Red Seas Under Red Skies, purchased last March, and got started. And I guess I was so starved for reading material that wasn’t a Supreme Court decision that I finished it in half a day.

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Forgive the tatty cover - I pretty much carried this book everywhere today. I really didn’t want to put it down!

Red Seas Under Red Skies is the second book in Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series (see my review of the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, here). Now, I’m gonna be honest - it definitely didn’t live up to the expectation set by Lies. Then again, sequels never do, do they?

Which isn’t to say that I didn’t love the book! Because I totally did. Lynch introduces a whole new facet of the magnificent world he’s built for us - the unfamiliar and uncharted territory of the city-state Tal Verrar. Whereas Camorr was a place of pomp and circumstance ruled by a sophisticated criminal network and a group of nobles living in an uneasy truce, Tal Verrar is operated by an even uneasier alliance between a council of merchants led by the mysterious ruler of a gambling den called the Sinspire and a military dictatorship ruled by a man called the Archon. The political intrigue leaves the reader on the edge of his or her seat as Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen struggle to walk the fine line between these forces (while fooling them both, naturally).

But Tal Verrar isn’t the only new environment our heroes are tossed into. As implied by the title, we also get pirate lore! Fantasy pirates are probably some of the best things ever (sorry, a bit of my inner five-year-old there) and Lynch pulls it off well, if not flawlessly. Some may say the character of Captain Zamira Drakasha, whose crew Locke and Jean find themselves joining, is wish fulfillment for Lynch’s older female readers. She’s a mother of two, in her late thirties, and still manages to be a swashbuckling badass. Wish fulfillment she may be, but Captain Drakasha, her lovely first mate Lieutenant Ezri Delmastro, and their crew of bloodthirsty yet lovable rogues and renegades definitely have a place in my heart.

Also, can I just say, I love how, in Scott Lynch’s world, gender and sexual preference have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on a person’s worth? As long as you’re good at a trade and keep up with your obligations and duties, that’s all that matters. We’ve got female officers in the Verrari navy, female pirate captains whose authority is never questioned on the mere basis of their gender, ruthless cutthroats who enjoy a tumble in the hay with a member of the same sex and are not thought nancies - hell, even the Sinspire master’s right hand is a disabled, disfigured woman, and she’s shown as having captured the heart of said wealthy Sinspire master at the end of the novel.

Be warned, though. About halfway through the book, it seems as if things are taking a turn for the better. I know began to believe in the hypothetical ending. But it seems Scott Lynch has learned well at George R.R. Martin’s knee, because that happy ending? LIES. THERE IS ONLY PAIN.

Sunday Serenity: July 27, 2014

Hi guys! Welcome to a new segment on my blog I’ve decided to call Sunday Serenity. For those who missed mention of it in my 11 Questions Challenge post, I am an agnostic atheist. However, I still do believe in the old standby that Sundays were meant for people to sit back, relax, and reflect. Take stock of what you’re feeling, of how you’re doing, of how your life is going. And that’s what I’m going to be doing here. 

My first Sunday Serenity post was inspired by this quote:

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This particularly resonated with me because - as you guys, I’m sure, have noticed, since I haven’t been posting a lot lately - it’s midterms season at school, and I can’t help but compare the way I prep for exams with my friends’ own methods. These people are some of the smartest, most brilliant students I’ve ever met, so naturally, I can’t help but wonder if I’m measuring up.

To my eternal shame, I am one of those people who avoids group study sessions like the plague because I can’t bear the thought of being made to look like a fool. I gamely acquiesce to meeting maybe one or two people to study together, but huger gatherings with people talking over one another left and right? No thanks.

Lately though, I’ve been working on improving my mindset regarding this. It’s been drummed into our heads time and again that law school is a competition only with yourself - after all, there’s no set number of students who can make the Dean’s List, or top the bar exam. It’s theoretically possibly that if everyone in a certain block made the effort, they could all graduate with honours. Plus, being made to look like a fool is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it’s just in front of your classmates! Better to be wrong when answering questions during a study session than during recitation, after all. 

I think this is a philosophy that should be applied in life, not just in law school. Too often when someone else succeeds we tend do one of two things: a) we wallow in self-pity give ourselves up as a lost cause; or b) we try to outshine that person. Both, while satisfying at the moment, won’t help your end game: to bloom. Focusing on self-improvement instead of self-pity or envy not only opens yourself up to becoming better; it also makes for better relationships with other people.

In life, your only competition is yourself.

Have a good week, everyone!