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.