Monday, December 9, 2013

Scribblenauts Unlimited :: Where Your Dreams Come True

Imagine a world where all you need to do is write some words and they will become real-life objects. Not only that, you can write any adjective and attach it to any objects you created and they will become exactly like you write them to be. Welcome to Scribblenauts Unlimited universe!
You will be playing Maxwell, a boy and a big brother to Lily, who was given a magic notebook by their parents. The magic notebook allows Maxwell to write any things and it will turn them to life. After playing a prank by giving a rotten apple to a hungry old man, the old man placed a curse on Lily that will turn her into stone if Maxwell doesn't put his notebook to good use. Maxwell has to find Starites, the only thing that will free Lily from the curse. To obtain Starites, Maxwell has to help people solve their problems and make them happy.
One of the most awesome point in the game is that it has very vast choices of words that player can use. The choices range from everyday objects, households equipment, various weapons and armory, living organisms, magical creatures, game characters, fairy tale characters, literally almost anything you can think of can be realized in the game. You just need to write it in your notebook, and voila!
Beyond object's creation, you can also define the existence of an object by attaching an adjective or edit the whole appearance of that object. You will meet all of Maxwell's brothers, and you will be able to play as each one of them. You can also change their appearances as your Avatar. You can change the build, colors, body parts' position, height, weight, et cetera.
Scribblenauts Unlimited doesn't provide much difficulties and challenges. Based on its images' style, simple gameplay, and level of difficulties, I think Scribblenauts Unlimited is a most suited for children. More over, it successfully touches our inner child so that we enjoy playing it a lot.

AMC's The Walking Dead (2010 - present)

It's the fourth season of AMC's hit series, The Walking Dead, and yesterday the series finally release its mid-season finale. In a sentence: It's a war of power between Rick and The Governor, resulting in multiple deaths on both fronts. (Oops, spoiler alert!)

I've enjoyed watching The Walking Dead, simply because I love to watch gore movies. But in this post, I will try to delve deeply to the show; and I will put my conclusion as to why The Walking Dead is so popular. TWD is a show that's set in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies are the main cause of the apocalypse. Up until its fourth season, we still don't know what's the cause of this zombie outbreaks in the first place. I am curious, I don't know about others, but it would have been relieving to know why.

Contrary to popular belief, TWD is NOT a show about zombies. The zombies aren't the main characters, they're just means to tell a horrific story. They are tools for us to understand why the characters did what they did. But they are created and developed in such a great way that when they appear on the show, you know things are about to get bad.

TWD starts as a survival story, it's about a group of people who survived the virus' spread and try to live a safe life. But life loves its irony. As it turns out, they didn't escape the virus' effects, they merely delay it. They are not survivors, they are just another undead-to-be. When they die, no matter how they die, they will turn into one of the undead.

I'm quite excited to see how things are going to end. As it appears now, there seems to be no happy ending to the story. I can only imagine if there's a cure since the cause and the patient zero remains unknown until now. But, you don't know what these crazy creative guys will bring in the next episode.

FEZ :: A new dimension for 2D platform game

  • Title  : FEZ
  • Genre  : puzzle/platform
  • Developers  : Polytron Corporation
  • Publishers  : Microsoft Studios, Trapdoor
  • Designers  : Phil Fish
  • Platforms  : Xbox 360, Windows, Linux, Steam OS, PS4, PS3, PSVita
  • Release Date  : April 13, 2012 (Xbox)
FEZ take place in a 2D platform world where the main character, Gomez, was given a magical hat ('fez' means 'hat' in Turkish) by a magic mysterious artifact called Hexahedron. Using this hat, Gomez is able to perceive a third dimension in his flat, 2D world. But something went wrong and the Hexahedron explodes, causing glitches in Gomez' world. Now, Gomez' world is in 3D and he has to find all the fragments of the Hexahedron before his world collapses.

...THE GAME...
The objective of the game is to collect all cubes and cube fragments simply by touching it. There are also anti-cubes and treasure maps to collect. Collecting cubes and anti-cubes helps player to unlocked new areas. To obtain cubes, player has to solve various puzzle. Some of them contain encrypted symbols that need to be analyzed.

One of the most interesting thing about FEZ is the world itself. Although it is shown as a 2D platform world, player can manipulate the world by rotating the camera 90'. By doing so, player will be able to see doors and passage that won't be shown in the first perspective.
Not only that, player can manipulate the distance of platforms by rotating the world to the correct perspective. Then, he can jump greater distance than when he is in only one perspective. For the lack of words, I'm quoting the example from Wikipedia:
For example, while standing on a floating platform, shifting the perspective 90 degrees allows Gomez to jump to another platform that had previously been on the opposite side of the screen. Rotating back to the original perspective after the jump reveals that Gomez has moved a great distance.
Another thing that makes the game interesting, is that the Gomez character is very cute. Even when it falls and dies, it's still cute. The music sounds like a monophonic ringtone, which brings a lot of memories because it's similar to Mario Bros theme music. The dialogues between player and NPC are heard using some alienated words with cute sounds, adding more cute elements to the game.

There is no limited number of life in game, player can play for as long as he likes. Gomez will die if he falls from very high places, and will soon be re-spawned. Some of the areas are above the water; Gomez can swim, but there's nothing to do underwater so it kinds of unimportant feature. The scenes, however, remind me of some Mario levels and I think it's what the developers want to sell to the audiences. The memory of playing 8-bit games.

FEZ brings new experience to user in the world of platform game. We used to play 2D platform games such as Mario Bros or Megaman, now we can play 2D platform game with the ability to shift perspectives. It is a new experience for me, and it is awesome!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Our Pursuit of Happiness

I think happiness is the most crucial thing in our life. It's the thing we want most from our life, it's the destination of our so tiring journey of life, and of love. And since it's our last destination, it's only fitting if it is also the hardest thing that we might achieve.

Before we delve deeper into the concept, I would like to point out that happiness is a lot different from a happy feeling. Happy feeling is very easy to achieve, we see it everyday, it happens on simple matters. Like when a child gets balloon, when a student finally graduates after 4 year long studies, when a worker gets a paycheck at the beginning of the month. These are happy feelings. A feeling of joy that will last for several hours at most, before it turns to another worries.

The happiness that we seek, is a feeling of joy, of peace, and maybe of freedom, that will stay forever in our hearts. It's a more divine feelings that we can't conjure in days. It requires a very long journey, very long years, to finally achieve it. The path to happiness is not a one-way road, it's tangled with intersections, turns, and dead ends. Every turns, every path is our own choice. There's no right or wrong, no black or white, no certain answers. It's not an exact science that you can count and formulate, it's a journey of hearts, of truth, of self discovery.

Our pursuit of happiness is often clouded by our own limitations. Our wishes, our dreams, our ignorance, our pride, our fears, our will to seek instant happiness. These are our obstacles. We are incapable of ignoring them, we have a giant curiosity to fulfill and we keep pursuing the wrong things and thus dragged further from our true happiness. I think the only person ever to achieve true happiness is Buddha. He is able to leave every distractions behind, and therefore granted an eternal peace of mind.

I believe we all are still struggling on this pathway, trying to find our way around, trying to find our selves. Every turn we choose, every decisions, will likely cost something worthy from us. The journey to true happiness, is the exact same one that will lead us to pain and sufferings. It is our ability to rise above the pain that will make us stronger to keep going. However, we are racing against our own fear, fear of getting hurt, fear of pain.

Our journey to happiness is always be a battle of our bravery and fear. Will we rise or fall? Will we give up to our fear, or will we stand against it?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

ABC's Castle (2009 - present)

So, after watching the shows up until its 6th season, I finally decided to write up a review. This is my first TV review, so bear with me if my judgement is still a bit bias. :)

Castle is one of the most popular TV shows on my list. I love the genre, the casts, the stories, the adorable-but-kind-of-dysfunctional family elements, every little thing of this cute show. The show was premiered on March 9, 2009 (see here for more details about the show) and has reached its 5th episode of the sixth season last Monday. It got 9 out of 10 stars from, so apparently I'm not the only one who is in love with this show.

...The Story...
Castle is of crime-drama-romantic-comedy genre. It tells the story of a crime-fiction novelist, Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion), who runs out of ideas for his novel series Derrick Storm and decided to kill off the Storm character. When his writer's block has reached its limit, he met with Katherine "Kate" Beckett (Stana Katic), a beautiful, energetic, bossy homicide detective with a distraught past. Castle, being a rich well-known man and also a friend of the mayor, struck a deal with NYPD so he can shadow Beckett in the name of research for his new novel series about the captivating female detective character. This deal agitates Beckett a lot, but there's nothing she can do since the orders came from the mayor himself. From the first episode, we already know that there will be a love line between the two. What makes the story more interesting is the combination of Kate's dreadful past and Castle's dysfunctional family. 

...The Characters...
Oh yes, our handsome and charming millionaire has two ex-wives and a very smart 15 years old daughter who seems to be very much mature than her father. Castle's mother, Martha Rodgers (Susan Sullivan), is a very talented actress at her time. However, she is now bankrupt and live with his son and grand-daughter. Alexis Castle (Molly Quinn) is a straight A's student with surprisingly wise and mature thought. She always become the responsible one in the family despite her very young age.

Inside the NYPD homicide department, there are Kate's partner: Det. Kevin Ryan and Det. Javier Esposito, each portrayed by Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas. Ryan transfers to homicide from narcotics division. His character is less-manly, compared to Esposito's character, however it is later shown in the show that he is an honest, romantic, and faithful kind of person. He has a girlfriend named Jenny that he eventually marries.

Esposito comes from the 54th precinct, but it is also shown that he has served in the army for some time and some episodes indicate that he was in the special forces. He is fluent in both English and Spanish which has been proved helpful in some investigations. His character is described as somewhat a playboy, he has this boyish charm alongside his great abs that make him look dreamy. However, we see in the show that he is not the married type. Both Ryan and Esposito are quite protective of Beckett, despite their constant tease to her and each other.

Other than the detectives, we also have a beautiful medical examiner. Dr. Lanie Parish  (Tamala Jones) is the main medical examiner in most of Beckett's case. Contrary to Beckett, Lanie always prefers her social life than her police work as shown in some of the cases where she is called straight from one of her dates and therefore still wears her date-dress. She is also Beckett's best friend who really knows the chemistry between Beckett and Castle. She is often push Beckett to be honest and just get in a relationship with Castle.

It is a pretty close-knit group in the 12th precinct. :)

...The Reviews...
There are many things I love about this show. What amazes me the most is that even after 5 seasons, I still wait for the new episodes every week, just to see what will happen to Caskett (Castle and Beckett as in Brad and Angelina become Brangelina). The mystery of will-they-won't-they is strong and it is still interesting even after they finally get together. There seems to be a lot of problems surrounding their relationship, but all of it just seems worth it to watch. The murders, I admit, are far from reality. Since I am an avid watcher of crime shows like Criminal Minds, Hannibal, or The Following, I find most of the cases are just so surreal. These cases are way too creatively thought that only Castle who can be able to break it because the guy has very wild imaginations. But, the cases being surreal are also one of the reason I love the show. It has all kinds of murders. There are fashion week murder, comic-con murder, zombie murder, The Ring-like 7 days video murder, Ghostbusters murder, vampire and werewolf murder, and many more. The complications on each murder are also varied. From melting bullets to missing bodies, also the standard crime show problems: terrorism and bombing.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Befriending Process

So, a while back I was talking to one of my best friend in university. We have been graduated in 2012 and now experimenting the cruel world of reality. I was working in a totally new environment: new city, new job, and what follows next would be new friends. Unfortunately, the last one is not as simple as I thought. Apparently, according to my best friend, people in our workplace are not supposed to be our friends.

Workplace is a place where different people gather together with different agenda. Some pursue fame and popularity, while others pursue wealth. So, by default, the objectives of a working person is always self-centered. Also, there are people with higher grade than us (that would be our boss, senior, manager, etc.) and there are people with the same or below us. All of whom have their own point of views and we might unintentionally step on their toes one chance or another. There's also office politics, which I don't quite understand and don't intend to find out.

For a fresh graduate whose parents have never worked in a company, this knowledge is something new to me. Something I would be happy to reflect upon. I won't lie, but I'm intrigued with the idea. Is it true that our colleagues can't upgrade their status' to be our friends as long as we still worked together under the same management?

My friend said that the time when we're supposed to make friends is during our school time. In a workplace, you're looking for a way to pay the bills, not to play nice with people. "But, isn't it a little harsh?" I think to myself. I have no problem to be friends with anyone, but the thought that I might be thrown under the bus makes me uncomfortable. On the other hand, there is just no way for me to survive without a single friend in the workplace. It's just not possible, especially I'm working on something that requires me to do team work. How am I supposed to do my job without making friends with my team?

I remembered one of my dean used to say that as a designer we are taught to express our authentic ideas in our work. Sadly, authenticity requires solitude. It is our idea and our idea alone that we expressed in our design, causing us to feel uncomfortable working with other designers. But, as an animator, it's our job requirements to make friends with people we work with, because let's face it you can't make awesome 2 hour 3D animation movie alone. So, as an animation graduate, I'm wired to not be able to work in solitude. I have to be able to make friends, even if I'm thrown under the bus once or twice. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Talk and The Deed

"It is better to do without talking, than talk without doing."

This weekend, I chose my way back to God by going to Church and participating in Focolare gathering. My life has been very unsettling these last few weeks and I feel that I have to go back and start over. So there I was, sitting in the Word of Life meeting in Pandeyan, Yogyakarta. Word of Life, or in Bahasa "Sabda Kehidupan", is a monthly gatherings held by Focolare movement to support each other in living truthfully according to the Law of God. What we do in these gatherings is we took a phrase from the Bible, and we try to apply those phrase in our daily life during that month.
For those of you who don't know, Focolare is a youth movement all over the world founded by Chiara Lubich in 1943. Its main purpose is to create a united world of people from all age, vocation, religion, conviction, and culture by respecting and valuing diversity. For more information, visit Focolare web page in
The phrase we took in September is from the first chapter of The Gospel of John, as written in the picture. We were told to 'love thy neighbour', to love without intention, and more importantly, to love in truth and action. A while back, I was strolling through 9gag, and found a post about how we all have this annoying friend who would post Bible passage in social media, while we know that this particular friend lives far away from the Law of God. This sad truth is the proof that not all of us able to love unintentionally, unconditionally, and that most of us choose to love in words, rather than in action.

When we love in words, we show what we do to other people, and we are praised for that. But when we love in actions, most people will not notice what we do, we will not be praised, but the person that receive our love will remember us for the rest of their life. For me, this brings more than enough relief than any praises I might get if I love only in words.

I remembered one of my friend thanked me, out of the blue, for some good deeds that I did two or three years before that. And as I recall, I didn't even do much back then. I teared up, because I was so happy that she still remembered it, and still feel thankful, hopefully, to this day. Because then, I have become God's instrument to bring happiness to others. And to me as a Catholic, being God's instrument is the highest honor a child can get from her Father.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Revision: A Prayer for B'reishit

Lord, hear my prayer—

My mind is filled with falsehoods about You.

Today let me rewrite.

Give me the courage to delete the rotten first second third and hundredth drafts

That deny You,
That blame You,
That slander You.
It is time.

Guide me to write a different, better story.

Teach me the true meaning of the garden, the snake, the apple, and the fall.
Scrub from my mind the lazy oft-told tales of punishment, trickery, and abandonment.
Let me retire the ego’s clich├ęs and distortions, O Lord, and bid farewell to the misconceived central character:
the psychopathic, jealous trickster,
the crude caricature of paternal retribution,
the off-planet deity watching over us impassively, folded-armed, while we rot and writhe, our cries falling on deaf God ears.

I declare this vision of God to be false, and I ask that any remnants of this lie be erased from the crevices of my consciousness.

Let me learn anew. Let not the guilting of grandparents lead me to fear and reject the guidance of the other:
The Sikh,
The Sufi,
The Shaman,
The Hindu,
The Buddhist,
The Christian,
The Gnostic,
The Kabbalist.
If it is wise and true
—If it bears Your cosmic fingerprints and the quiet perfection of Your voice—
I will listen.

Let me live with the compassion of Buddha and Quan Yin and Mother Mary,
Let me write with the sacred clarity of Rumi and Hafiz, Wordsworth and Blake.
Teach me to surrender like Mohammed and pray like David,
To be fiery like Rama and fierce like Jesus.

May I not fall into the deification of any man—for You alone are God—but may I let the example of their light guide my path.

When I am weeping like Arjuna on the inner battlefield, may beautiful blue Krishna—the divine charioteer—lift me up and remind me of the Truth:

I am That.
Thou are That. All this is That.
That alone Is and there is nothing else but That.

Let me remember the divine dance of the Mother-Father, always, lest I fall into the dog-eat-dog foolishness upon which so much cruelty and injustice is based.

(When the Father said, “Let there be light,” the Mother answered, “And there was light.”)

Erase the imprint of atheism from my mind, Lord.
And while You’re at it, please remove: guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, comparison, competition, vanity, arrogance, and sloth.

Let the false prophets and holy bullies turn inward.
May they recognize the battle is never outside themselves.
For You do not exist in the world of opposites.

The madness of this world is our own.
We created it, we perpetuated it.
You do not endorse it.
You are innocent.
We have created You in our image.
Forgive us.

How am I to know I am being heard?
Because I am speaking to myself.
You and I are not separate.

Heal the wound in my psyche that stubbornly claims otherwise,
For this is the ego’s well-constructed and persistent lie:
You are alone you are alone you are alone.

Like a train schedule blaring on a loudspeaker, it is repeated. Over and over.
Daring us to relent and believe that which is false.

The bite of that apple was terrible indeed.
It convinced us we were not You.

Let me bear the weight of the responsibility for these errors of thought, speech, action, and perception as I learn to walk the razor’s edge of virtue.
May I always hear the steady vigilance and unending love of Your voice guiding me home.

All else falls away.
Only that which is unchanging is True.

Thank You, Mother-Father God,
 for this new beginning.

I get this link a while back from my friend. It's a Jewish prayer written by Josh Radnor. For those who don't know, Josh Radnor is an American director, actor, producer, and writer. He is best known portraying Ted Mosby, in the hit CBS series How I Met Your Mother. The prayer is excerpted from Unscrolled, a book about the new meaning of the 54 Torah portions which is written by 54 Jewish writers.

I am a Catholic, so I don't know much about Torah and Jewish initial teachings, but we do share some of the belief systems since Jesus was of Jewish descendant. The first time I read this prayer, I was moved because of the beauty in the words he used. It was a beautiful prayer, so humble, yet so divine. The more I read, the more I get the point, the more I'm in awe with this prayer. As human, we're not supposed to be so narrow-minded and drawn into our own religion and belief that we ignore other teachings that may complete what we think we already know.

We already know that truthfully, all religions are good, and the main teachings is to bring peace to the world. We know that, yet we haven't achieved peace yet. Not even after 2000 years. Not in the world, not even inside our own religions. The prayer is an interpretation of what might be, from Josh's point of view. If only we are humble enough to acknowledge other teachings, if it is wise and true. If only we are humble enough to listen. Yet we are trapped in hatred, of each other's religion, of each other's beliefs. We are too hung up on our differences that we are blinded and easily steered away from peace that we so desperately seek.

The madness of this world is our own.
We created it, we perpetuated it.
You do not endorse it.
You are innocent.
We have created You in our image.
Forgive us.

This paragraph is so simple, yet so powerful. It's a wake up call, a reminder that we built our own hatred towards each other. We are locked inside our own definition and we're not allowed to peek outside. Our fear are so strong that they allow our self not to look beyond our own understandings. Yet we believe that others are false. We are trapped in delusion that others are trying to misguide us, even when we have no idea of others' definitions. Let us achieve peace inside us, by accepting what might be.

Let the false prophets and holy bullies turn inward.
May they recognize the battle is never outside themselves.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)

It has been a while since I first watch Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I remember that it's a great movie, and decided to watch it again last week. My memory doesn't dissapoint me. The movie is as good as I remember. Since last year, I already followed Kat Denning's hit series "2 Broke Girls" so it's kind of funny seeing her young self acted as a high school senior. As for Michael Cera, I haven't seen him for a while since "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" but I don't see him age much since Nick and Norah.

Nick and Norah is a story about Nick (Michael Cera), a high school senior in a band with two of his gay friends. Nick has an on and off girlfriend, Tris, portrayed by Alexis Dziena. The Nick character is sweet, romantic, and nerdy, which is weird because high school band personnels are supposed to be cool and popular. But his band, The Jerk-Offs, is consist of him and his two gay friends so maybe that's why Nick is not popular. Michael Cera is the perfect cast for Nick character, he is able to bring Nick's unique characteristic to life with his cute, kind of timid appearance.

In the story, Nick is still hung up from his break-up with Tris and keep sending her mix CDs, which Tris ignorantly threw out to the dumpster. Norah (Kat Dennings) is Tris' classmate. They have a mutual friend, Caroline, who likes to party and getting drunk. Norah always pick up Nick's thrown CDs because she likes the music. She is also the daughter of Ira Silverberg, a famous record producer.

Norah shows up to a place where Nick's band perform with Tris and Caroline. Provoked by Tris, Norah come to Nick and kissed him to prove that he's her boyfriend, not knowing that Nick is Tris' ex-boyfriend. Norah goes to find Caroline, who is now super drunk and unconscious, and with Nick's help they bring her to the car. From there, the adventure begins. Starting with Nick's friends who think Nick and Norah are perfect for each other, Caroline who gain her consciousness and think that she's kidnapped, all the way to their journey to find where "Where's Fluffy" will be performing later that night.

Overall, I think the film is great. The story it presents is nice. High school seniors, in their pre-university vacation, decide to go around town chasing a famous Indie band who tells them where they will be performing through secret codes? It's exciting. They are playing decent songs, with many great actors. They manage to portray the party-side of a high school students. Tris' jealousy towards Norah when she know that Nick likes her, it's a perfect picture of a high school drama queen.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Der Untergang / Downfall (2004)

I'm a curious person, and I'm most curious about controversial things. Nazi-themed movies are one of my favorites because it opens my mind about what actually happens during those horrible World War II. I've watched Schindler's List, The Pianist, and the more recent, Inglorious Basterds. All have similarities about the explicit violences and the portrayal of the victims, be it Jews or Polish. Downfall, however, chooses to portray the man behind the war, The Fuhrer himself.

The movie takes place in Fuhrerbunker, underneath Berlin, where Hitler and his followers hid during the Soviet Army attacks to bring an end to World War II. From this bunker Hitler and his generals are still able to send orders and attacks to the Soviet Army via telegrams or telephones. The film has grim ambiance because many of the scenes happens in the bunker, with narrow hallways, closed rooms, thick iron doors and dim lights. It certainly fits with the war theme, where an explosion sometimes would happen and shake the bunker.

During this dreadful time, Hitler's generals have known that the war is lost. German troops everywhere have been cornered or killed by the Soviet Army. They can't mobilize enough troops to make a retaliation, many of the troops and civilians have been evacuated out of Berlin. The Fuhrer chooses to stay. He insists that he will fight, or face his downfall. But he won't surrender. To him, surrender is a treason to his 'superior' descent.

In many of the scenes, we can see that at this point in the war, Hitler doesn't seem to care much of the civilians. He only cares about his Reich and what may become of it. He doesn't mind sacrificing his civilians as long as he can keep his Reich.

Bruno Ganz's dramatic acting deserves a standing ovation. Through his acts, we are able to see Hitler's vulnerable state. He is angry, he blames his generals and his troops, he punished everyone who suggested him to surrender, he is desperate to win this impossible war, he is illogical at his final hours. He keeps talking about the troops that no longer have neither power or units to attack. He can't accept the fact that he already lost the war. He commits suicide with his recently-wed wife, Eva Braun, in the bunker.

The Goebbels family
Despite all the atrocity Hitler did, there are a lot of people who are faithful to him until the end. His generals, his troops, his secretaries, are gladly die for him. In his final days, a lot of people persuade Hitler to leave Berlin because they don't want to lose their Fuhrer. It's amazing to know that there are people who actually believe in The Reich and Hitler's government. Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda, was ordered to evacuate by The Fuhrer but he refuses and choose to die with him. His wife, poisons their six children, and they proceed to commit murder-suicide because they can't stand the thought of living without national socialism (Nazism). In some of the scenes, the Goebbels children are shown to be very close to their Uncle Hitler. They even sang for him on his birthday.

It's interesting to see a different view of the Nazi and World War II. This movie is based on 'Memoirs', a book written by The Fuhrer's secretary, Traudl Junge, who was with The Fuhrer at the bunker but then evacuates minutes before Soviet Army breach the bunker. It's a different view of The Fuhrer, and to me, it's exciting.

You probably know this particular scene, it has been parodied so many times for so many events in so many languages. I'm just saying, it's worth it to see the actual movie.

The Man From Earth (2007)

I watched this movie based on my work mate's recommendation. This is one of the movies that contains 95% of dialogue in it. I feel rather odd by the fact that I don't lose my interest to the movie, because I mostly do. Maybe because the discussions is intense with emotion and scientific possibilities that I ended up excited during the whole movie.

The Man from Earth brings out a thought-provoking idea. The main character, Prof. John Oldman is actually a prehistoric caveman who has lived through all process in human history. He moved around every ten years or so to avoid society's suspicion that he doesn't age. When his colleagues grinds him to tell the real reason he's moving away, he decided to tell them his story. At first he discussed his story as a scientific theory, saying hypothetically that human can regenerates their cell perfectly so they can live forever. His friends: Harry, a biologist; Edith, an art history professor and devout Christian; Dan, an anthropologist; Sandy, a historian; Dr. Will Gruber, a psychiatrist; and Art, an archaeologist starts to discuss the possibilities from their own field's point of view.

The whole movie is basically a scientific forums. A discussion between scientists from their own specialties about human existence and evolution. It's interesting to watch if you like thought-provoking movie. I would suggest you see this with friends or family who share the same interest because there's a certain aspect of the movie, like when the characters discuss about religion, that might frightened or maybe anger the unintended audiences.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)

Right after Harry Potter franchise came to and end, I saw this movie trailer starring Emma Watson and I fall in love instantly with the movie. Back then, I was still pretty much interested in indie-like movies like Juno, Paper Heart, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. When I saw the trailer of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, I noticed the camera, the light, the mood, it was so high-school-project type of film, I had to watch it.

My snap judgement didn't fail me because this movie is as awesome as I thought it would be. After seeing Emma as Hermione Granger for almost 10 years, it is refreshing to see her act as a senior high school with bad grades and a reputation. It is surprising, but she manages to capture the soul of Sam very well. Watching Ezra Miller didn't hurt one bit. He is charming, handsome, and a talented actor. Kind of like Neil Patrick Harris with a tad more fabulous-factor. The Charlie character has an interesting personality to watch. He is an outcast because he has very low self-esteem and very shy around people. I would say he is introvert at first glance, but there is actually more to the stories than just being introvert and shy.

The story itself is also interesting. We have seen a lot of high-school themed movies. We have the love story kind like High School Musicals and the naughty kind like American Pies. However, The Perks of Being A Wallflower opens a whole new dimension to the high school world other than pretty girls/boys and famous sorority parties. Audiences are presented with friendship, love story, high school drama, rebellious students, unique talent shows, prom dances, late night adventures, and even graduation ceremony. The whole high school experiences that most of us seems to forget are shown here from Charlie's point of view.

For me personally, it's not a family movie, so I wouldn't want to watch this with my family. Not because there will be an awkward scene to share with parents, but mostly because it speaks more to young audiences. I would recommend watching this movie with your friends because it might spark some high school memories. :)

Living The Dream(?)

Gee, I really should have done a better job writing my blog. I saw the archive and realize I only wrote ONE post in August. Although, I know that August is not my best month so I might not be in the mood.

The Story
Anyway, I have been having some dreams lately about my childhood friends and some old scenes I remembered from my better days (Or should I say easier days? Hmm..). It got me thinking of a pretty awesome quote (as written in the picture above. :p).

I always thought that we're not supposed to do things we don't want to. There are many quotes to support this thought, like: "Do what you love and love what you do.", "Do what you love and the money will follow.", "The future belong to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.", "Follow your dreams, they know the way.", and one of my favorites from my favorite idol, "Dream, believe, and make it happen." I have been living by these quotes ever since I know dreams can come true. Obviously, the path is not always easy. There are bumps along the way, some higher and tougher than others.

Now, here I am. I managed to do my dream job, in a city I've always dreamt to live in, living a certain lifestyle I used to imagine when I was a teenager. I literally am living the dream. But, here's a question: aren't people who live their dream supposed to be happy?

What ifs
I am somewhat superstitious. I'm open about zodiac preferences, palm-reading, and dream interpretations. So, naturally, when I'm dreaming about something I worry about, I look it up in You know, just for fun, in case the interpretation is something positive. But even if it's not, I like knowing the possibilities. :)

The website said that having a dream about your childhood, "...signifies regression into your past where you had no responsibilities. You may be wanting to escape the pressures and stresses of adulthood." Now that triggers another question in my head, "Am I under pressure and/or stressed?" My answer is, "Maybe."

I am left thinking, "I am living my dream. I am satisfied, but not exactly happy. What if I do the other one? What if it makes me happier? What if it doesn't?" There's just so many what ifs I keep losing track.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Friends - 10 Seasons in A Glory

So, I was re-watching all episodes of Friends during Eid holiday. The total 10 awesome seasons and I think to myself, "This show has successfully made me laugh every single time I watched them, even though I have already watched them over and over again." This is such a spectacular show that every sitcom after this show, took its parts to be implemented on their own*. Well, at least that's what I thought. :)

So, what made me incredibly fond of this show?
1. The story is so down to earth that it might happen to any of the audiences
I remembered watching a similar series that aired at somewhat similar time, Beverly Hills 90210. This series didn't really 'get' to me, perhaps because their world is just so different. What with the upper-class settings and lifestyle, Beverly Hills hardly make any impression on me, not even a bad one. Friends on the other hand, leave such a strong imprints in my head. I was around 14 or 15 when I first watched it, and like any normal teenager I was trying to find where I'm standing and where I'm heading to. Friends created an illusion of what my future might look like. A bunch of friends in their twenties, trying to make their way through New York, living together in an apartment, struggling to pay bills and help each other in job and love life. It was just so appealing.

2. Each of the characters have these uniquely annoying traits, but they stay together until the end
First, as the main character, there is Monica. She is organized, controlling, and acts as a mom to other characters. If Monica lives in this era, she is what you might call a person with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). She is actually really annoying with her controlling habits, but she is also reliable in some situation.
Then there is Ross, Monica's nerdy brother. He is a very nice person, handsome, neat, and smart. He is very nervous around women so it's kinda funny to see him. Ross is Monica's older brother, but somehow he was pictured to be the spoiled one in the Geller family because he was favored by his parents.
Next, there is Monica's high school best friend, Rachel. Rachel comes from a socialite family and has never live alone before. She is pictured as a selfish little princess that always got what she wanted. But because she ran off from her marriage, she decided to live with Monica and tried to make it on her own.
Chandler is Ross' best friend and roommate in college. He is an office worker, working with something to do with inputting numbers (I don't really get what he did.. :p) and he make a lot of money. He is somewhat bitter and sarcastic because of his broken family but he is funny and always makes jokes when uncomfortable.
Chandler lives with his roommate, Joey, across the hall of Monica's apartment. Joey is an American-Italian actor with not-so-great skill in acting. He is very good looking but also very dumb. Joey eats a lot, most of the food comes from Monica's apartment since he didn't get much acting jobs.
Last, there is Phoebe. Phoebe used to be Monica's roommate but they had a falling out because Monica is too controlling. Phoebe has a lot of unique characteristic and may come off as weird. She sings a lot of depressing and rather odd songs with her unique guitar skill. She used to live on the streets and therefore the toughest of everyone in the group.

3. The group dynamics are incredible
Friends really shows what a true friendship like. Although I have to say that the group is a bit dysfunctional, but these group of six is an illusion of a perfect friendship. Ross and Rachel's relationship reflects a quite traditional fairy tale. A nice and nerdy guy finally get together with the popular cheerleader girl, although there are some unusual situations like when they're sabotaging each other's relationship with other people and when they have a baby together. Chandler and Monica are a surprise. I never would have imagined these two together, but I admit they make a pretty great couple. I always thought that Phoebe would end up with Joey because as we can see they have a great chemistry. But the fact that Phoebe is finally getting married quite satisfy me as an audience. And in such a breath-taking wedding too. :)

Other than happy endings for each of the couples, the character development is also great. I think the most developed character would be Rachel, because when she comes to the group she is this spoiled little princess who can't do anything and even as a waitress, she can't get anything right. After a lot of hard works with ups and downs, she finally managed to be an executive in a fashion industry, a job that she actually  loves. Monica also successfully developed into a loving mother of two with Chandler and she also managed to be a head chef in a classy restaurant. Joey finally get his big break by starring in a WWI movie, while Phoebe finally settle down and get married to Mike. Ross get the girl of his dreams, with a daughter and a son who is raised by his ex-wife.

All in all, to me, this series is the only one that can make me sad when it's finally reached its final episode. It provides a great ending and closure to all of the audiences.

*I was born in 1990, so I haven't had the chance to watch other friendship-based series like M*A*S*H or Seinfeld

Good bye, guys. Good story. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ramadan and The Fasting Culture

It's this time of the year again, yes it's Ramadan month. Ramadan is the ninth month of Islamic calendar when our Muslims brothers and sisters are fasting. Fasting, in Islamic teaching, means Muslims are prohibited to eat, drink, smoke, or perform any sexual acts since before sunrise until after sunset. It is also expected that during Ramadan, they are abstaining from sinful speech and behavior. Muslims considered Ramadan as a holy month because it is in this month that The Quran is given to Muhammad by God. When Muslims do good things in Ramadan, supposedly they will receive more rewards than when they do it any other time of the year.

Although I'm not a Muslim, I have been participating in fasting since about 3 years ago. To me personally, fasting is an act of humility. We are restrained from our usual behavior (eating, drinking, cursing, etc.) and we are expected to live in peace with each other. By fasting, we have a chance to take a short peek about other people who have lesser life than ours financially. Fasting teaches us to be grateful of our life and empathize others.

Muslims fasting is different than Christians'. First of all, it is done during Ramadan, the ninth month of Islamic calendar, during which Muhammad was believed to have received The Quran from God. In Islam, Muslims are prohibited to eat anything during the day. They do suhoor, which is the pre-fast meal before Fajr Prayer, and they break the fast by doing iftar after Maghrib Prayer. In Christian teachings, fasting is done during the liturgical year called Lent. Lent period lasts for about 6 weeks (approx. 40 days) leading up to Easter Sunday. Christians fast following Jesus' own fast which He did for forty days in the desert where he endured The Devil's temptation. Christian fasting is the reduction of one's intake of food to one full meal. We are allowed to drink water but we are not allowed to eat solid food the whole day except the one full meal. Complete abstinence (avoidance of meat the whole day) is also required for those who are 14 or older. It is usually done each Friday during Lent period. There are five type of abstinences: food abstinence, tobacco smoking abstinence, alcohol abstinence, pleasure abstinence, and sexual abstinence. When we do complete abstinence, we are not allowed to do each of those abstinences.

Personally, I do both fasting each year as best as I can. It's a great moment for self-contemplation, spiritual reflection, and improvement. It has nothing to do with my belief, but it has everything to do with my self improvement. I feel I have good chance to be better person by keeping a mental reminder of where I am right now. Fasting is one of my personal reminder about the unfortunate, so that I can stay grateful of my life.

Happy fasting. :)

(P.S. My sincere apologies if I write something wrong about Islam since my sole source is Wikipedia.