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coming up: Pink Panther 2

after almost 3 years, steve martin‘s second outing as the criminally befuddled Insp. Closeau is about to knock us off our collective derriere once again heheh. Pink Panther 2 is set to make its bow in local theaters in about a week or two. and despite the thrashing that Pink Panther has largely received from critics, i still can’t wait to watch this film.

joining steve martin are jean reno, john cleese (as the long-suffering and eternally envious chief insp. dreyfus), andy garcia, alfred molina, aishwarya rai, emily mortimer, and lily tomlin. this feature isn’t likely going to be as potent as the early Pink Panther movies, but what the hey. i’m a big steve martin fan, and with a cast like this what’s not to like?

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Temeraire IV: Empire of Ivory

i just finished book 4 of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series.

ok. bottomline, i found it entertaining (hardly a surprise). still, compared to the first 3 books (His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War), i found Empire of Ivory rather flat and a bit less interesting.

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Empire of Ivory starts off a few days after the last scene in book 3 (The Black Powder War), with Temeraire and Capt. Laurence and their allies finally reaching the safety of British shores. This fourth installment basically highlights Temeraire’s trip (along with his squadron mates Lily, Maximus, Dulcia, etc., and their crews) to Africa in their desperate search for a cure against the deadly malaise that was steadily decimating the draconian ranks of the British Aerial Corps.

after finding the cure and surviving a run-in with the local dragons, which have their own peculiar hierarchy and mythology, the squadron heads back to England. Britain’s dragons are eventually saved. Meanwhile, the island’s aerial defenses have to make do with Arkady and the rest of his cohort (a bunch of wild Turkish dragons featured in book 3), along with a few surviving dragons — a measure that elicits mixed results.

this series of events, however, prompts the British Admiralty to try to find a way to spread the deadly disease across the Channel — thereby ensuring that Napoleon’s dragons would suffer the same fate and consequently tilt the balance of power into Britain’s favor. finding this move vile and downright shameful, Capt. Laurence and Temeraire take matters into their own hands. Empire of Ivory ends with Temeraire and Capt. Laurence finally meeting Napoleon face to face and facing an uncertain fate as they consider the consequences of their actions. this hanging question, of course, sets the tone for book 5.

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the publisher has already sent out advance notice that Book 5 will cover Napoleon’s invasion of England.

hmmm… let’s hope book 5 doesn’t suffer the same lethargic pace that hounds Empire of Ivory. i really don’t want to give up on this series yet and i’m still wondering how ms. novik will integrate the Duke of Wellington into the series. perhaps in book 6…?

my sister takes a plunge

today marks the first day of my sister’s (nursing) board exams. these past few months i’d been rather blase about the whole thing — although in a roundabout way i could almost imagine how much this means to her. it’s not just a matter of capping about 3 years’ worth of studying with a qualifying exam that would allow to her scale the next height. this is practically a culmination of various factors for her: all those years of wondering if she had somehow done the right thing or if she had missed a turn somewhere…

it took her a while to finally retrace her steps to find this path again (years!), and after she had made up her mind to head in this direction, it was like she had regained her former (younger and more idealistic) self. this is what she had been meant for. i don’t know why it took us that long to realize the difference.

she’s out there right now, probably quietly freaking out as she writes down her answers. i have faith in her capacity to learn and absorb things, especially her willingness to forego time and resources to accomplish something that she has set her mind on. and i know she’s not the type to let things slide — no, she has too much sense for that. i still wish i could have done more for her though.

so neng, i hope you hurdle this challenge with your usual flair. heaven knows you deserve a better break after all you’ve gone through and given up for our sake. just go out there and grab your star. good luck and God bless.

more mandarin lessons

temple-1.jpgwe had our second weekly mandarin lesson yesterday. all in all, we’ve improved slightly; at least i’ve lost this irresistible urge to laugh whenever we parrot the instructor’s way of pronouncing things — although i couldn’t control my mouth from twitching every once in a while.

 

after talking to some of my batchmates while we waited for the rest to show up, i was surprised to learn that most them had opted to take this course on their own volition, and the fact that we all have this vague idea of heading to china one of these days (for business and pleasure). i guess it has become more obvious in the past 3 years or so that china is getting ‘bigger’ at a much faster rate than everyone assumed.

personally though, i’m not sure where all of this is heading but i’m always open to learning new things, especially languages. if i had the time and the resources, i would love to go other places and learn the language and get immersed in the local culture. and maybe blog about them. *sigh* if only it’s that simple.

okay, i’m digressing a little here. the truth is, i find mandarin a bit of a tough hill to climb. i guess i’ve been so used to writing/reading things the way they’re spelled — and a lot of chinese words are spoken differently than they’re written (in romanized letters), i tell you. and the fact that they sound practically the same *throws hands up* — well, for a clueless foreigner anyway — it’s enough to make you weep. okay, i’m exaggerating. i’m prone to do that when i can’t get a handle on things *grins*

a glimpse of boracay

here are a few snaps of our trip to boracay a few months ago. i found a few of these pictures aimlessly lying around in my desk, so i guess it’s about time i put them up here. you know, just in case they get lost (through sheer neglect har-har-har) or something…

a cloudy day at the beach

we also found a few shops (catering to various tastes) but i really liked this one — it features an eclectic blend of beach knick-knacks and colorful souvenir items…

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one downside of that little interlude was that the weather was mostly downcast the whole time we were there, so everytime the sun peeked out — out we went. the palm trees looked downright dazzling in the sunlight. also, this picture like looks a monochromatic postcard of some secluded beach (you can almost feel the wind rushing at your face) so i’m placing it here.

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and for the tolkien enthusiast, there’s something to perk you up while you’re basing in the tropical sun: an LOTR-themed pub! i was surprised to see a spot of Middle-earth in this tropical setting, but something a bit out of place can’t be that bad when you’re outdoors…

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first post 2007

greet.gifwell… what do you know — i finally remembered my password. i guess this calls for a post (after 5 months of somnolence). okay, i just wanted to see if things are working fine and, with a little help from a friend, i was finally able to work on a few issues that have been bugging me all this time…

a big hello to all those who still find the time and patience to peek in … happy new year!

still another update…

Well it looks like the controversy relating to pictures submitted by freelancers on the ongoing Middle East conflict isn’t going to end anytime soon.

Another questionable photo, snapped by Issam Kobeisi, has been attracting a lot of attention from conservative web sites (such as Little Green Footballs, mypetjawa, etc.), and this time the offending media source is the New York Times (see this juicy bit for more comprehensive details), which had printed a correction regarding an erroneous caption it had made earlier.

Hmm… although i remember seeing a couple of pictures of this shirtless guy (wearing a cap) before, i hadn’t realized that that they were just a tip of the iceberg. I don’t know if i’m getting a bit paranoid myself, but since that Reuters incident, i find myself scanning ME pictures (taking notice of the photo credits, too!) with a skeptical eye. Especially if they can be misconstrued one way or the other…and judging from the way people from various sectors have reacted to the incident, i’d say it’s no wonder that conspiracy theorists have been fairly busy these days (see this and this, too).Huge Terror Plot Foiled

Also, this just in:

UK authorities disrupted a huge terror plot to blow up commercial jets flying the UK-US route (specifically United, Continental, American Airlines). As a result, 21 suspects (who were mostly British-born men of Pakistani origin, according to initial reports) were arrested in the UK, with more being questioned and possibly a few still at large. Flights from British airports have been delayed due to tighter security.

The initial buzz is that these guys (who may have al-Qaeda ties) were planning to use liquid explosives in hand-carry luggage. This plot, which authorities claim could have reached or exceeded 9-11 proportions, would have involved as many as 10 aircraft.

[err, my blog is fast turning into a (second-hand) news site… heheh]

Ay-ayy-ay, things just keep getting worse. i’m crossing my fingers that this isn’t going to explode into another horrifying debacle. we have had too much of that already.

**you may also check out my other posts at triond.**