Wednesday, August 20, 2014

After-Work Priorities of a 27-Year Old Geek S02E05

And of course I ended up watching all the interviews and press conferences related to Rurouni Kenshin and their premier in the Philippines.  Until 6 AM.  I have to go to work in five hours.  My geekiness will be the death of me.

Takei Emi was so shy - She was absolutely adorable it was as if you wanted to put her in your pocket. @_@

Takeru Satoh is just too cool about the whole thing- badass like the main actor he is.

Then there's Munetaka Aoki.  Who wore slippers to not only the premier, but to the press conference as well.

Many of the interviewers noted that Munetaka Aoki was very much like the character he played- Sanosuke Sagara.  When asked if he was indeed similar to his character, he answered with "I hope so, but not so stupid".

Honestly, the slippers got me.  Hands down that is the most awesome thing to wear to a red carpet premier.

After-Work Priorities of a 27-Year Old Geek S02E04

Let's begin with "before-work priorities".  First thing I did when I woke up today was get online and purchase a ticket to the movie.  Thank the gods I have credit-card purchasing abilities now! I encountered a long line when the first movie was released so I wanted to skip that this time.

Okay so I still felt bad at not having gone to the red carpet release with the cast when they came all the way from Japan to the movie premier in the country.  My chef life did not permit me to be so lavish with my otaku-ness.  I mean, I wasn't crazy for the actors or anything, but I was, and forever will be, a fangirl of this franchise so attending the red carpet thing counted as support for all things RK.  I don't know how I could have felt.  Things like this have an element of surprise, like the first movie aired and at the first three minutes I was crying.  Just for seeing the story come to life like that.  I was overcome with complete happiness.  I didn't cry this time.  Fangirling aside- and from a totally objective point of view- I'll recount the after-work events as they happened.

I was already working beyond the sane count of working hours for the day, and I was worried that I would miss the movie.  Of course that wasn't really going to happen, boss.  I mean, I already bought a ticket and I've already worked two hours extra for charity.  I did make it on time, but was greeted with a throng of geeks in line for the movie.  It was a Wednesday, and it was the last show at 10:30 in the evening, and this lot was still here for a friggin' niche movie.

I did want a selfie with the tarpaulin.  But all the kiddos were there with their monopods.  Or with their friends taking pictures of them.  The first time, I asked a security guard to take my picture.  This time there were no loitering security guards in sight, and the kiddos just wouldn't leave the damn tarp!  The problems of going to an 'event' alone.  Without the monopod.  The advantage of going alone was that I did find a good seat.  That single seat that all the others couldn't take because they had friends and dates with them.  Ha.  

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno  
-A Review-

Let's make this short.  I'm kind of sleepy.  But I thought I should share my thoughts on this movie.  

(By the way, while I was at work, my sister called me to ask if I'd already seen it.  She was clearly giddy on the other side of the phone.  She had just seen it herself and felt she couldn't post on facebook for fear of giving away spoilers that could ruin any of her friends' lives.  So she needed someone to fangirl with.  But I had not seen it that time, and it was dinner service to boot.)

I actually ran all the way home to contain the adrenaline that rushed from watching the movie.  EYE CANDY.  I could always overlook the sweaty looks everyone had - why is this movie always set in the summer or something?  Right when the roads are all dusty and they're sweating and their kimonos are sticking to their necks like it's the most uncomfortable thing and you want to scrub them down and give them a good bath?

Back to EYE CANDY.  The fight choreography was superb, and I think it was even better than the first movie in that aspect.  They toned down on the slow-mos and just let loose on the martial arts as if they happened in real time- with godlike speed.  Like I said, real.  That if you actually saw Aikido videos (knowing that Aikido was a martial art originally created to be practiced by samurai who have accidentally lost their swords during battle but could still take on ten people at one time) you'd mentally say "sugoi" in almost every scene.  I wouldn't say that word out loud, like, I'm no weeaboo.  But when the signature battojutsu came at the most awesome moments, I couldn't help but whisper "kakkoii".  (I couldn't find a screen cap of it,  but for non-manga readers, it's every time Kenshin did this: )

Actors, Acting, Casting, and everything in between.  I still think Takeru Satoh as Kenshin was cast perfectly for the role.  And how he must have improved physically with all the training he had for doing this role TWICE?  I was reminded of other great shounen heroes like Luffy of One Piece, and Goku of Dragonball.  There are certain types of heroes that are written off to be just so awesome from the start, that their coolness is oozing from page to page and no backstory is necessary to root for them.  They're not underdogs for the most part.  They're just really badass.  But when the authors give them an equally compelling back story, their character values just blow off the roof.  Kenshin is like that.  And I think the way he was written for the movie with Takeru Satoh in mind was exactly how I pictured Kenshin would be off the pages.  

We have Sanosuke, played by Munetaka Aoki, who is ever the source for comic relief.  At first I didn't think he looked the part, but after the first movie I was convinced there could also be no other actor for this role.  And seeing him wear slippers with his suit to the movie premier (through youtube of course, since *sigh* I never got to see them personally), I thought this guy was totally wacko and perfect for the part.  The bromance in the movie was present, although I wouldn't have minded if there were more.  

And, this being the Kyoto Arc, let's talk about Shishio.  

Played by Fujiwara Tatsuya.  Yep.  This guy. More popularly known as the one who played Yagami Light of Death Note.  

No doubt he's an experienced actor, and considering his past roles, I think he didn't have a hard time portraying the misguided Shishio.  Well, the second part of the movie is yet to be released so, more of him until then.

Speaking of misguided, how about Aoshi and his out-of-context obsession with Kenshin?  I don't remember if it was this mismatched in the manga (no, I don't think so), but the way Aoshi's scenes were edited in the middle of all other parts of the movie made his parts to be somewhat of a joke- when I believe Nobuhiro Watsuki intended Aoshi's fight to be one of the major parts to the Kyoto arc.  Aoshi was not mentioned in the first film, which I think is a flaw that they had a hard time covering up for in the second movie.  Aoshi was just too important to miss on the first part of the story, and having him appear out of nowhere with this misguided blood lust for Kenshin as some sort of childish revenge when everybody else was seriously fighting for a greater cause (of national importance) became a bit hilarious.  Even if his retribution will be given at the second installment, I don't think the movie production can save what was lost- and that was, Aoshi and his oniwabanshu.

The "Half" dialogue.  Was a dialogue that barely was, but created a deep impact in both anime and manga.  This scene was really funny as a whole when the author wrote it, because it showed that an honest character such as Kenshin could be so direct about his feelings regarding this matter.  

And I think the movie did this scene justice, despite changing the setting a bit.  Of course, because apparently they held out on- wait, SPOILER- Hiko Seijuro's appearance until the very last minute of the movie.  When the camera moved to a mysterious person's feet, and slowly panned to show a man with a very large frame, I wanted to scream inside the movie house, IT'S HIKO, EVERYONE!  REJOICE!  THE MOVIE DID NOT LEAVE HIM OUT AFTER ALL!  How could I have almost believed that the movie would take the risk of leaving him out?  He was one of the coolest characters in the story, even with his minute role.  

And now that I've seen him, I can sleep well tonight, and wait patiently for the next installment.  This movie did not disappoint.  Haters gonna hate, but so far I haven't seen any.  We're all just fanboys and fangirls in this part of the world.  I mean, that's why the producers chose to have the premier and red carpet thing here in the Philippines, after all.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

King of High School: Anything Can Happen

As open-minded as I was into this noona romance thing, I was weirded out by how King of High School wrapped things up.

I am talking about the Korean rom-com, "King of High School", or alternatively "High School King of Savvy".  I was very excited because anything with Seo In Gook in it was worth watching.  Even if it was a nonsense movie about angsty teenage boys, or in this case, a comedy about a high school kid who ends up posing as a director of a big company.  Let's just say he's hit or miss with the material he chooses.  But that face, and body (for more noona feels), is worth watching.  Suspend disbelief for anything the show gives you.

I'm giving a review.  Ahem.  From the get-go, I thought it was a premise that was going to sell well.  A high school kid, due to some plot device, needs to hide his identity and must become a company director and be one with the adult world.  And it doesn't stop there of course.  The possibilities are endless.  He happens to be so good at being director, he might have been a genius all this time, ala Doogie Howser, M.D.  So much material to exploit too.  Like, how could a high schooler ever have emotional maturity to handle underlings thrice his age?  Or, falling in love with his secretary?  Which is, as a rom-com, the must-happen, I would assume.  But that's opening a can of worms right?  A high schooler falling in love with his 28-year old secretary?

Halfway through the show, I loved it.  I did not recommend it to my sisters yet because I had to see where the romance was headed.  I said it before, I was open-minded about watching noona romances thanks to a certain show so I was pretty invested in how King of High School would handle the ten-year gap between the dorky virgin of a secretary and the realistically immature 18-year old that managed to con everybody into thinking he was a prodigy.  

As fictional as the premise was, the show somehow led me to believe that it was as real as it could be.  The characters were all believable and endearing.  Our main protagonists were played well by talented actors.  While watching the show you would believe that there is an unsexy secretary somewhere out there who is serious about her job but is unlucky in love.  You would believe that this high schooler could really, if given one or two years, learn the ropes of being a real company director.  And the show is so good at making things believable, that as soon as the high schooler starts breaking away from his disguise, you wonder how even you were convinced that he could have made it at all.  Because, when you look back at the episodes, okay so he could be really smart, but we all know in real life that smarts can only get you so far.  It is experience and emotional backbone that make you soar, or in his case, stay where he is- being director.  And the show tells you bit by bit that, he neither has those.  Towards the end, you are reminded that he is, after all, just 18 years old.  

Then, as you finally accept that part, the unbelievable romance kicks in.  Noona romance, yes, and it was all getting good and realistic when the kid realizes he needs to study abroad to become a better man for everybody's sake and breaks off with the secretary.  That part was okay.  I thought, ah, tvN is going for that.  We're ending the show with that.  But somehow the secretary bursts out a marriage proposal to keep the kid from leaving and having a brighter future.  Even if she's not too well-off herself and might end up paying for the kid's tuition.  Things like this happen in real life I'm sure.  I've known more than three real relationships like this, but really?  This is how the show ends?  They end up married?  Immediately?  Not even waiting until he's, um... beyond 20?  

Well it didn't make too much sense by the last episode.  That's all I can sum up.  I'm just hoping Seo In Gook will be more lucky with his projects in the near future, like, next time.  

King of High School
Original air date: June 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Weekend Report 15: My Circle of Friends

First post of the month since, the last two weeks were just deadly.  Death came in the form of a cancelled day off and another round of 12-hour shifts.  I'm sorry.  I shouldn't be talking about death like that.  A friend of mine is still mourning the death of her father who succumbed to stomach cancer.  I couldn't be there for her because, well, I was stuck with the work mentioned previously.  Wow.  Way to make things easier.  Nothing is as worse as death, I guess.  Compared to my worldly affairs.

In the whirlwind of it all, I still managed to find time to meet old friends.  Friends from the Hotel M days, that I hadn't spent too much time with.  A little less than two years, about a year for some.  But it turned out when we met again that we still had that chemistry with each other.  And I thought that it must be a bond that forms when you become a team who's gone through shitty service and good service together that even for a short while you share a connection that cannot be easily dissolved by distance.  We had all quite moved on from Hotel M much earlier than it was announced to be closing down.  It was nice to see people you've been through thick and thin with, if only for a very short while, to actually be doing good somewhere else and are genuinely happy with their lives.

Next on the agenda is another friend of mine who, after slaving for months and enduring the anxiety attacks, got their film some pretty good funding and got accepted to be shown in Korea.  Yay.  So happy for her too.  It's as if, everybody at this point in a person's life is bound to succeed.  Like it's been proven by science.  As if by formula, people had things fall into place at a certain time except we just didn't know about it.  Like another friend who, after three years of not having sex with anyone due to bad-breakup trauma, finally had sex again and as claimed, with a beautiful man. 

I felt I was quite lonely and needed a breath of fresh air.  That's coming in another week, but for now, I am truly thankful to have a lovely set of people around.  As my boyfriend once said, "Friendship is hard work."  But finding time to be with the people you shared good and bad times with is really worth it.  Cue awesome soundtrack of the week.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kitchen Confidential S03E04: Tears Over Foie Gras

There is perhaps, no regret.  But there is nostalgia.  If I'm allowed to call it that.

Up to this day I always told myself that the greatest opportunity in my career was to work in that little cafe in the Queen City.  That greatest opportunity that was too short because I let it go.  In that little cafe where everything was Larousse.  If you tried to cover up bubbles in your chocolate pudding with some ganache they would definitely know about it, and you would get your ass whipped.  If you missed a step in making the stock there was a high chance you'd not live to see the next sunrise.  In that little cafe.

It was too short an opportunity.  Sure I got a copy of the recipes.  A friend of mine from that same cafe who only stayed as short as I did sold a recipe for 30,000 PHP.  I had a notebook full of recipes from the place but somehow I didn't want them exchanged for 30,000.  I was part of that team when the place was in its opening stages, and if you read the notebook, you could see how the recipes progressed, changed over time, as we recorded what worked and what didn't.  How one chef did it compared to the other.

As I moved over that knot in my life, I came to the hotel that I had fond memories of as a trainee.  I thought life sucked, and kind of regretted having to lose all the Larousse-ness of that cafe.  See, hotel survival was on a different level of culinary trickery, to the point where you swore you could be a chemist.  If the recipe called for raspberry but you didn't have it, and it was needed badly or you could be on the morning papers, something came out of your ass that apparently made the guests think it was raspberry.  Nothing like a little food color to do the trick.  So this kind of skill also earned some points in my experience book, I guess.  It was really handy.  But I didn't expect to do it very often.  And really, I always took pride in my work.

I was nothing more than an entry level cook, the lowest of all the commis in that hotel, but I was working with foie gras.  I worked with liquid nitrogen and sous vide and Paco jets.  To some this was nothing new.  I went to Thailand and was surprised at how liquid nitro found its way in a stall in a mall like it was some cookie treat.  Sous vide was introduced in the 70s so, that was expected too.  Still, even as I thought at the time that this kitchen was outdated, I could never have experienced all of these in that cafe.  I could never have lived to work with Michelin Star chefs and chefs that appeared in international magazines.  As I left that hotel they hosted two more rounds of guest chefs, and I thought well damn, I missed another Michelin Star opportunity.  

I did not regret it 100%, leaving.  Because my life there was hell.  Despite the enthusiasm I felt knowledge-wise, my bosses made sure I did not enjoy it.  When I moved to another hotel, which was where I currently worked, I thought it was going to be better.  "State-of-the-art" when I heard it.  I assumed, something beyond the 70s.  Beyond the foie gras and the truffle and the nitro and the Paco and the xantan and the foam and the dry ice and the espuma.  A true five-star experience that perhaps brought back the Larousse that I missed, a place that debunked all kinds of magic tricks to make that mayonnaise or red wine sauce.  And a place where new people shared new ideas.  Culinary-wise, I was bored out of my mind.  We couldn't even afford the local brandy to marinate chicken liver with.  Did I regret it? 

To make things easier I heard the news that the first hotel was closing down.  Good on you to have been closing just as I left.  You know, something to blow raspberries at.  Not going down with ya, I thought.  That's what you get for being mean.  Your hotel closes down.  And it was all fine now, I could move on from the Michelin Star guest chefs.  Then an old colleague from that hotel posted a video.  It was a tribute to all the culinary adventures the hotel had to offer.  And I saw the kilos of foie gras, that I never got to touch again after coming to the new hotel.  And tears fell.  Soon I began to cry.  It was as if I was mourning over something.

The foie gras.  The xantan.  The truffle.  The nitro.  The paco.  The foams.  Stuff that I played with to make amuse bouche.  Just amuse bouche.  And I never got to see them again.  It was not an episode of frustration that I often had with the new hotel, but this time it was more of a welling sadness.  And that's how it came to be that the sight of foie gras made me miserable.  I loved food in that miserable way.  

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