Tuesday, November 22, 2005

harry potpot

Perhaps it was too long between movies, or maybe I don't really like the book, but I was not particularly enthralled by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Just like the book, I believe it only serves to further the story before the exciting events of books 5 through 7. What other films did Mike Newell direct? I'm not a big fan of his, really, although there is only so much you can do to a story with beginnings in a three-inch thick book. This is the movie that I like the least, it has the most disappointments, although it is visually excellent. The Tri-Wizard tasks, the dragons, the Dark Water and merpeople, and the maze were beautifully done. I also liked, with morbid fascination, the scenes of the Death Eaters wreaking havoc on the Quidditch World Cup, as well as the resurrection of Voldemort. I just knew the Death Eaters would look like the Ku Klux Klan, only in black! The Beauxbaton Veelas, though, were particularly disappointing, especially Fleur Delacourt, who looked like, well, Claire-effing-Danes. She's supposed to be almost ethereally beautiful. Feh. They should have used the effect of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow on the girls. Meanwhile, Viktor Krum was actually handsome, in fact, more appealing at times than Cedric Diggory. Haha!

Watching the movies in succession is like looking at kids' photo albums, those of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. You see them graduate from their awkward adolescent phases (were they ever? Maybe only Rupert) into young adults. Ron Weasley now has defined biceps, and Hermione Granger is now a beautiful young woman. In this installment, Harry and Ron's friendship hits a snag, they have their first dates (the most successful being Neville and Ginny's) and they learn the niceties of media and how the press can twist events. (Note: Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter was wonderful!)

There are many times I'd rather watch a movie than read the book. Cases in point: Be Cool, The Pelican Brief, Terms of Endearment. Even the Lord of the Rings (because I'm tired of reading "Gimli, son of Gloin..." ad infinitum). But in J.K. Rowling's case, there always seems to be a certain magic (hee!) that she brings to her writing, wry allusions, puns, and trivialities, that make the series fun to read. Sadly, most are abandoned on the big screen because of time constraints and artistic license (hence, no Quidditch matches). Although true to the spirit of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I'd much rather read the book once more than watch the movie again. Just saying.

PS Whatever you might say about the greasy hair and the somber mien, I still heart Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. Snape in Book 6! Exciting!

the mother-unit is another year wiser

Happy birthday Ma!

Monday, November 14, 2005

my brush with identity theft, part deux

A few weeks ago I received a letter from Citibank advising me that they considered the previous transaction charged to my credit card from the dubious Kochujang Restaurant in Pasay as a valid transaction. They also sent me a copy of the sale slip and recommended that I send the dispute letter by a certain date or else they would charge me the full amount, plus finance charges and a sale slip retrieval fee of P250.00.

I took a look at the sale slip and froze for a few seconds. I had thought it might have been an erroneous transaction, but there, staring back at me in black and white, was a manual transaction slip (the one with the carbon paper and the 'plantsa') with my signature on it. Well, it wasn't my signature, but a shaky and bad forgery. The card was a fake! There were obvious differences between it and my actual card, which was in my possession: the spacing of the letters was different, the positioning of the Visa initial, as well as the Member Since date. I've pointed these out to Citibank's billing dispute department and am just awaiting their response on the obvious fakery and forgery. I've since cancelled the card and requested for a new card.

Meanwhile, I saw a recent episode of CSI Miami regarding identity theft. The thief went through a woman's trash and got her social security number. I thought that there were more stringent laws regarding identity theft and fraud thereabouts, but apparently if you haven't been caught in the act, there's basically not enough evidence to book you; especially if you cover your tracks. I'd like to think criminals in the Philippines are less sophisticated, but maybe not. It's downright scary, especially since you put so much faith in technology that might not have that much security, hence coming around to bite you in the arse.

Lessons learned: Always account for your credit card spending instead of just routinely paying the bill. This goes twice for people like me for whom credit cards are the default mode of payment. For smaller transactions, especially at dubious restaurants, try not to use credit cards anymore because they bring the cards to the back for payment--you don't know what they're doing to the card while it's away. Take all precautions for keeping your personal information private. Transact on the internet only on secure and reputable sites; shred (or, in my case, since I am a closet pyromaniac, burn) all past statements and transaction slips. Also, one shouldn't be hassled when cashiers ask for further identification--this should be status quo. Although licenses can be easily faked too, at least it would help. There should be better legislation regarding identity theft, that much is true. When this happens to you, there's nothing to feel but indignant yet thoroughly helpless. Let's not make it easier for criminals to take advantage of us, then.

Last Song Syndrome : Soul to Squeeze - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

turning thirty

Turning thirty only happens once in a person's life (given, of course, that one never lies about one's age). A milestone, it seems one has to suddenly become more mature, and think about babies and retirement plans. At thirty, I am still unmarried, not yet at managerial level, and retaining quite a large amount of body fat. I am also less impetuous, more pensive, and more easily drawn to mirth than myself in previous times. I am a little more friendly, a little less shy, and a little more empathetic. I have let go of a lot of hurt, I have let in a lot of love. I am still striving to be less ill-tempered, less snappy, more considerate, and more pious. I know that I have a long way to go.

My thirtieth birthday was uneventful, peaceful, filled with contentment. Since last year when I started celebrating my birthday with small gatherings of close friends, it's been stress-free and less tiring. Previous birthdays saw scores of people, up to seventy or eighty, cramped in my pad and the garage, partying 'til 3am. Those friends that filled those spaces are now mostly just old friends and acquaintances, relics from a past life where the music was loud and the beer was overflowing.

Now the music is more restrained, my friends have to leave early to be with their children, and there is no alcohol. This year I had twenty people, including my sisters and their boyfriends, some Glider friends, the SO's two closest friends and their fiancees. Since we're supposed to be saving up, I decided not to spend the usual five figures and decided to go North Park. I'm glad that it seemed that for my friends where I treated them or how much I would spend--I'm just glad that they granted me the pleasure of their company for the evening. Those absent were especially missed.

One thing though, about me and my friends: we love giving gifts, even just little tokens of friendship and affection. Receiving is also quite fun. Bespren D gave me a set of very fragrant candles (the better to banish the smoky smell in the bathroom after a nicotine encounter); Mands provided a beautiful pair of earrings; Gelpren and her boypren gave me a Spoofs shirt proclaiming "The Amazing Face". Hee. Maleen, Rea and JP gave me the CD that I wanted, The Corrs' Home (yes, inspired by old Irish folk songs, as if all my Celtic-inspired CDs weren't enough). DaMike recalled an old blog post wherein I mentioned that Aquaman in the new Justice League series was quite smokin': I received an Aquaman doll (is not an action figure because it is not pose-able, is it not?). [I also left with the knowledge that my mint-condition Two Towers Legolas 6" action figure was now worth P1,200.] Bespren M, who was all the way in Adelaide (and ! now in Sydney), sent over very very cute lingerie: twas a bit early for a bridal shower, but it was not very racy, after all (thanks, M!). Among other things received were a pashmina shawl from Jhon and Beanne, a pouch and two more pairs of funky earrings from the SO's friends, a funky necklace from Vicky's merchandise, a picture frame from Edoods and Jenny, and food from the zeesters--a Sugarhouse cake and a Chili's gift cheque. The parental units gave me cash with specific instructions to buy a watch.

But I reckon the best gift I received came a few weeks ago, when I mentioned to the mother-unit what if we couldn't afford an extravagant wedding at a hotel and everything. Immediately she answers, "I don't mind if you get married just in front of a judge!" and then thinks a minute and suddenly takes it back: "Ay no, you have to get married in church." But the implication was there, and I hope that she's true to her word. Suddenly it felt as if a great weight were lifted and maybe, just maybe, things will turn out alright.

Last Song Syndrome : Crazy for You - M.Y.M.P. live on MUP

Friday, November 04, 2005


Re-read the Dragonlance saga and still teared up at Riverwind and Goldmoon's marriage vows. Don't know if it's the hormones, the stress, or the fact that someday I'm planning to do my own and hope to be able to capture all that I want to say. I like its message that despite there being much bigger things going on in life (dragon war vs. EVAT), the promises between a husband and wife are still utterly important.

Goldmoon looked into Riverwind's eyes and began to speak softly.

Wars have settled on the North
and dragons ride the skies,
"Now is the time for wisdom,"
say the wise and the nearly wise.
"Here in the heart of battle,
the time to be brave is at hand.
Now most things are larger than
the promise of woman to man."

But you and I, through burning plains,
through darkness of the earth,
affirm this world, its people,
the heavens that gave them birth,
the breath that passes between us,
this altar where we stand,
and all those things made larger by
the promise of woman to man.

Then Riverwind spoke:

Now in the belly of winter,
when ground and sky are gray,
here in the heart of sleeping snow,
now is the time to say
yes to the sprouting vallenwood
in the green countryside,
for these things are far larger than
a man's word to his bride.

Through these promises we keep,
forged in the yawning night,
proved in the presence of heroes
and the prospect of spring light,
the children will see moons and stars
where now the dragons ride,
and humble things made large by
a man's word to his bride.