Monday, February 27, 2006

Real Life Simpsons intro

Rating: 11111
Five pawikan points for the real life simspons intro-- this made me laugh out loud!

You can save this video if you're using firefox. Just install greasemonkey and the YouTube to Me script. This will save the file with a .FLV extension. To play it, use the VLC Media player and you're all set!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blithe Spirit by Knock 'Em Dead Productions

Rating: 11110
Knock Em Dead Productions has this dinner-theater concept where you sit down for dinner and after your main course, they stage a play and in the intermission, they'll serve dessert! I went to watch but of course I ate at home so I could save $20 on the meal. The night I went, they were showing Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit.

It's a very simple plot. Charles (Justin Marshall Tharpe) is a cynical writer who invites psychic Madame Arcati (Bea Eichmann Allen) to hold a seance so he can get inspiration for a book he's writing. In the process, the ghost of his deceased ex-wife Elvira (RaDawn Smythe) is 'summoned' and causes mischief between Charles', his current wife Ruth (Mary McGreaham) and even upsetting their housemaid Edith (Kenna Marks).

This was a light-hearted play (so much different from the somber tones of "The Exonerated") with witty banter that got me chuckling. The surprise ending was amusing and I thought it was cute how they showed the "hauntings"-- books falling on their own, picture frames twirling and that whle smoke and fog thing. Their British accents were a bit off and in some parts come off sounding like a sing-song but I had a good time nonetheless.

It was a bit weird because the actors also functioned as the waiters who would bring food/clear tables during the intermission! No prima donnas here! hehehe!

I give this play four pawikan points with plus points for RaDawn Smythe who in my opinion was the best actress of the night and for Kenna Marks and Bea Allen who gamely posed with me to have their photo taken after the show!

The Exonerated by Spontaneous Productions

Rating: 11110
I had the pleasure of watching Spontaneous Productions' staging of Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's "The Exonerated" (directed by Mike Silva) at downtown Boise's Visual Arts Collective museum and I must say that it was a moving experience.
Before I get into the play, i'd just like to mention that the Visual Arts Collective wasn't such a good theater-- the seats were uncomfortable, my neck was strained but at least they had complimentary wine, beer and food. That being said, on to my review...

Exonerated is defined as: freed from any question of guilt; "is absolved from all blame")

It's a true story about six people's experiences on how they were accused, tried, put on death row for crimes they did not commit, and the tragedy (?) of being found innocent and thus subsequently released.

The play was done in the style of a reading; Thirteen actors sitting on stools in a dimly lit room-- reading! They stories of the six lives would be told little by little until you finally understood the whole thing at the very end. Some actors played multiple parts nevertheless the story was still easy to follow as you could definitely 'hear' the shifts in accent/demeanor. There were no fancy sets, special effects or multimedia-- the absence of theatricals just served to highlight how it was so beautifully written.

And beautifully written it was-- the makeshift theater was tomb-like in the hushed and reverent silence. The lady behind me kept whispering 'ohmygod' and you could hear collective gasps from the audience as the tragedies unfolded.

Plus pawikan points for Christian Shiverick who played the death-row inmate Kerry who was convicted of rape and murder in 1976 and was accused of being a homosexual because he worked as a bartender in a gay bar. The news that he was a homo was at death row even before he got there. As a result, he became the bitch of some inmates and the words "good pussy" were carved into his butt. It was carved so deep that it couldn't be removed, not even with surgery and he is reminded of his experience everytime he sees himself in the mirror. He was exonerated in 1999, 23 years later. Twenty three years. Needless to say, his life was destroyed.

Imagine getting hit by these stories-- six times! And what's even more appalling was that these things really happened. To. Real. People.

Another heartwrenching story was Sunny's (portrayed by Buffie Main) who was framed in 1976 and was imprisoned together with her lover. The real criminal gave a written confession 3 years later in 1979 but she was only released in 1992-- thirteen years later. Unfortunately her lover, Jesse Tafero was executed in 1990 in a famously botched execution where the electric chair malfunctioned! Flames started to shoot from his head and they had to electrocute him three times. How's that for cruel punishment.

The play ends with Cherie Buckner-Webb singing a very moving acapella of Amazing Grace. Needless to say, it was a standing ovation.

The Exonerated doesn't preach. It's not cheesy and dripping with moral lessons. It's solid facts (the dialogue was taken from actual court transcripts and interviews) and a very good way to raise awareness about this issue because these exonerated are ordinary people like you and me. Buffie Main's character, Sunny put it very gracefully:

Imagine everything you did between the years of 1976 and 1992.
Now remove all of it.

I left that theater reminded that, hey, life could fuck you and this could easily happen to you.

I rate this somber, thought provoking piece four pawikan points. Plus points for the basket outside the theater where you could put in money to go to the exonerated... so they can pick up what's left of their lives.

I'd like to see this performed in the Philippines. I've visited Munti's death row and I think it would do our country good to have a little discussion and rethink our laws about capital punishment.

Check out another review by RW Online and the SF Weekly.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Funny Bone Comedy Club with Mike Macrea and Billy D. Washington

Rating: 11110
I just came from the Funny Bone Comedy Club and tonight's show was Mike Macrea followed by Billy D. Washington. I had a hard time drinking my Alaskan Light Tap and Rolling Rock beer because I'd have to interrupt each sip by laughter!

First of all i'd like to thank the doorman who had just "closed his books" and let me in for free (I arrived about 5 minutes late)!

Mike Macrea had a great set that kept the audience laughing-- his impersonations of Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in Indiana Jones were spot on! He'd switch persona at the snap of a finger with bonus points for his Morgan Freeman! I was laughing out loud in my little table at the corner of the club!

Billy Washington soon followed and he had a more improvised set. I didn't like the way he made fun of the audience but it was funny nonetheless-- it just made me wish that he wouldn't focus on the lone Asian guy in the corner. (he didn't.)

One of the guys with a really long puffed up bushy beard got pikon and walked out while shouting to the comedian: "you think you'd bounce if I tossed you on your head?" Billy replies: Well there's only one way to find out mothafuckah! Have you ever had anyone braid your beard, bitch?" It sounds harsh here on the blog but the club was rolling with laughter. (To his credit, he thanked all the people he made hirit before he ended.)

What made him a bit unique was the little keyboard that he had on stage the he would play some tunes on-- he'd sing his one-liners, spoof songs and use it to pepper his set with bluesy/jazzy riffs. He wasn't just a funny man, he could play the piano too!

I'd give this club a four-- plus points for my free entrance but minuses for smelling like cigarette smoke after the show!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Physics of Regret by Boise Contemporary Theater

Rating: 11100
I caught the saturday matinee of the world premiere of Michael Rohd's "The Physics Of Regret" as interpreted by the Boise Contemporary Theater at the Fulton Street Theater.

The director describes it best as: "...the show is more a collage than a single plot-drive narrative - in fact, it's a living puzzle."

There are multiple seemingly unrelated storylines starting off with a discussion of perception-- why do we see the same thing yet "see" it differently?

The story introduces Joseph Plateau and his early invention which was the predecessor of modern cinema. This invention flashed a series of still photos of a man in the motion of sitting on a chair from a standing position. He notices that the illusion of movement is achieved not just because of the photos but of the black spaces in between that result to a sort of temporary "permanence" of the image. Heavy stuff.

What was pretty interesting about the play was how it merged:
... choreography - the main actors going through the motions of sitting on a chair to trippy music-- in various speeds! they'd slo-mo their movements then suddenly fast forward... as if you were watching them through Plateau's invention...
... multimedia - the use of images (both moving and still) from an overheard multimedia projector was ubiquitous all throughout: representing hallucinations and what not
... song - they even broke into song well into the second act of the play! Surprising but refreshing!

It was certainly different from the Repertory Philippines' plays i'm used to and I must admit I didn't really fully understand what it was all about (the older gentleman beside me fell asleep).

I wouldn't pay another $24 to watch this again however if you get the chance, I encourage you to watch this-- para maiba naman.

Three pawikan points for this one, but i'd give bonus points for the cool choreography of the finale which demonstrated a lot of movement onstage with people disappearing and reappearing as somebody else much like a magic show. Maybe asking yourself why they did this is really a part of the performance. But for now, the meaning escapes me.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Movie reviews differ in how much they spoil for the reader. Most people read to decide if they watch, so I'll be veering away from the major, juicy parts of the movie, at the beginning of this review. So, to get the first part out of the way, if you can spare the rough 3 hours and are 13 years old and above, watch it.

Obligatory Plot Summary
Munich is based on real events surrounding the Black September terrorist attack at the Olympic Village during the 1972 Munich Olympics. It follows a team of 5 men formed by the Israeli government to assassinate the 11 men determined responsible for the Munich attack.

Bourne Identity/James Bond/Tom Clancy after hours
I really like the Matt Damon Bourne series especially the last one Bourne Supremacy (best car chase I've ever seen in a movie at the end.) And there was a time when I diligently rented the Bond series 3 betamaxes at a time from the neighborhood video store. I'm not really sure but I might've watched a few of the Clancy Harrison Ford movies. I like the spy, covert mission, international-mostly-European-settings of spy movies. But a thought occured to me after the last two movies of this genre that I saw (Bourne Identity and Supremacy): what goes through the minds of these lonely men after they've quit the job. Well as you can tell in most movies with a sequel, the CIA/FBI/NSA, whatever, will never leave them alone. But that's the glitzy action star take on it. Munich affords an in depth look at what goes on in the minds of ordinary men as they go through the mission, and try to return to their normal lives after the mission.

Particularly gripping is the scene where the team's designated bomb maker is dismantling his tools and explosives and Avner (Eric Bana) is combing through his room looking for planted bombs that are not there. He ends up sleeping in the closet out of fear for his life. Not exactly something you could imagine the suave and sophisticated Bond doing.

Scholarly stuff
I could go on about the political aspect of the film, which is probably one of the major points, but I think the other critics would be better qualified to address this, along with a healthy dose of research into the political implications of the event, as well as the background of the cultural and religious conflicts the film is set in.

My own, barely qualified 2 cents in this area would be, that it's an insight into both sides of the 'war'. Particularly striking to me is the dialogue between Bana and one of the Arab characters they unexpectedly shared a safe house with, where he (Arab guy) talks about how others think that it's just a piece of land, or that having your own country is nothing.

I've felt pretty much the same about the Muslim terrorism in the Philippines, and the separatist movement. Why should they sow a lot of confusion and terror over having their own land and nation. Isn't ARMM enough for them? I guess this isn't an easy debate, else it would have been ended all over the world years ago.

As highlighted in this review by Roger Ebert, Spielberg's evenhanded treatment of the subject has caused both sides in the story to call him a traitor, and I agree that the complexity of the issues is presented well.

Of course, as in any good movie of this kind, the action scenes are well orchestrated and tension-filled. And Spielberg brings history to life once again, as he did with Gump, Private Ryan and Schindler.

Minus point five for the artsy artsy love scene at the end. Watch it and you'll get what I mean.

Links to related sites:
Metacritic gives it a score of 74

Wikipedia entry on Munich Massacre
(interesting to read after the movie, also discusses the book which the movie is based on)

Singapore to Manila on Jetstar Asia

Rating: 11110.5
A couple of months ago, I wrote of my experience riding Tiger Airways from Singapore to Manila. This time, I tried Jetstar Asia and took a round trip from Singapore to Manila on Chinese new year.

As with Tiger, I started with their online booking system which was well designed and very intuitive to use. They've got two types of fares-- the JetSaver and JetFlex with the latter being almost twice as expensive but gives you the option of changing your flight origin/destination. I took the Jetsaver since I was fairly certain of my travel plans. Similar to Tiger, they only take VISA or Mastercard.

The round trip cost me about SGD360 (including taxes) which at that time was cheaper than Tiger's SGD450. Sometimes the other airline is cheaper so it's best to compare before booking.

From Singapore
Booking was more high-tech than Tiger because they used computers and printed the boarding passes instead of hand writing them. Just because it was computerized, it wasn't significantly faster but unlike Tiger, you get an assigned seat-- boarding isn't on a first come first served basis.

If you're not flying solo, then I think having assigned seats would be better for you as you're sure to be together. As an added bonus, the lines at boarding time were less chaotic.

I flew on an Airbus A320 which was similar to Tiger's and the only difference was that there were no radio ports where I could plug my noise canceling headsets.

As with most budget airlines, food isn't free but it costs the same as Tiger's SGD8 per meal and SGD2 per drink.

The plane landed in NAIA and this time there was a sky bridge. No walking down the tarmac here. Since I'm reviewing the airline and not the airport terminal, I won't go into a tirade with how chaotic NAIA was but i'll just say that the Tiger's Clark airport felt a bit "calmer" (maybe because it was smaller).

From Manila
Checking in NAIA was a pain! It could be much simpler if they thought of reducing the many redundant queues and security checks. I had to line up for someone to get my Overseas Employment Certificate (the OEC is unique for OFWs only), line up again to get inside the airport, line up at the check-in counter and line up at the boarding gate. Sus maria!

In summary
4.5 Pawikan points because the planes arrived and left on time. The service on board was excellent and this has everything you'd expect from an airline except for the on-board radio. I would definitely fly Jetstar again.

Update (May 20, 2006):
I've since flown Jetstar three more times since I wrote this and I can say that they consistently depart on time and I've received great service from the flight crew. One tip: When you check in, ask for seats near the front of the aircraft as they seem to have more legroom than the back!

You may also want to read my other experiences flying from Singapore to Manila and back in my review of Tiger Airways and review of Cebu Pacific Air.

Nobody's Perfect by Repertory Philippines

Rating: 11110.5
I should've written about this the week after I caught this play at Greenbelt's Onstage Theater but I've been a bit busy and I only recently have found the time to blog again.

Simon Williams' "Nobody's Perfect" is the first of Repertory Philippines' plays for 2006 and It was a riot! I was laughing from beginning to end with its British humour. It's about a guy who pretends to be a girl in order for his story to be published in a publishing house of feminist books. In the process, he falls in love with beautiful publisher and thus ensues the dilemma of how to woo the girl without his 'secret identity' being discovered. ( has another synopsis here.)

As usual, the acting was superb with Miguel Faustmann as the cross dressing 'Leonard'. It's fast paced, witty and the transformations from man-to-woman as well as the quick cellphone dialog at the end kept me ready to get on my feet for a standing ovation after each scene! I've never been disappointed with Rep's plays and my only regret is blogging about this late! The final run has ended but I hope you get season passes because the next comedies look very promising!

4.5 pawikans for this-- minus points for the misleading text on the flyers: "can a transvestite make a woman love him?" (he wasn't a transvestite!) and for the ending that I felt was a bit "rushed".