Sunday, May 31, 2015

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 5/Episode 8


5.8 Hardhome
Tyrion and Daenerys square off verbally, but he easily wins her over with his wit and counsels her against killing Ser Jorah. She accepts her as her advisor. Ser Jorah goes back to his slave master so he can fight for Daenerys at the pits. Cersei is tortured in her cell being prodded to confess. She alternates between begging and threatening her oppressor, but neither seems to work. She has been charged with treason, incest, and fornication. Arya carries on with her training, assuming a different identity to completely lose her own. Sansa confronts Theon about his betrayal. He admits to Sansa that Bran and Rickon are still alive. Ramsay suggests a preemptive attack against Stannis, but Roose does not agree. Jon Snow and Tormund reaches Hardhome. As expected, they don’t get the welcome they never thought of getting. The Wildlings are divided. Only around half of them agree to get on the boats, until an army of White Walkers descends and attacks all of them. Jon Snow stays behind and gets firsthand battle experience with a White Walker.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Spy

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Despite her many years of service rendered for the CIA, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has always been confined behind the desk, playing support to super spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law) who also serves as her love interest. Although their relationship never progresses to anything beyond professional, she is forced to step up as a first-timer in the field after a botched operation involving Bulgarian arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). Big boss Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) is skeptical at first, but is left with no choice given how most of her seasoned agents’ identities, including that of cocky Rick Ford (Jason Statham), have already been compromised. It is not long before Susan finds herself globetrotting and hunting assassins and weapons dealers alike, dodging bullets and improvising along the way. The question is: can she really go far in a world of double agents who would betray you in the blink of an eye?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

[CALIFORNIA] Budget and Itinerary

http://wikitravel.org/en/California

MONDAY: 18 May 2015
Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong - Los Angeles - Hong Kong) - 4,012.00
HKD4,012.00

Airbnb (5 Nights) - 225.00
LAX FlyAway (LAX - Union Station) - 8.00
Metro (Tap Card) - 1.00
Metro (7-Day Pass) - 25.00
Coffee Bean (Ice Blended Vanilla Large) - 5.44
Wako Tonkatsu (Tonkatsu w/Rice) - 12.00
USD276.44

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[SAN FRANCISCO] View from the Top


While most people refer to California as the Golden State, I actually see it more as that state of lost cousins who I only get to see every five to ten years or so. For our last hurrah, another cousin came all the way to Newark to pick us up and tour us downtown, as well as up above. Leaving at just around midday, we were in a rather tight schedule because my plane bound for LA leaves at 8 PM, meaning I would have to be at the airport around 6 PM. In the end, everything worked out just fine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[SAN FRANCISCO] Chillaxing by the Bay


For my second to the last day, the clan decided to head to where all the tourists at the Bay Area tend to converge. No, I’m not talking about the Golden Gate Bridge or the Palace of Fine Arts. That’s where people go camwhoring. I am referring to Fishermans Wharf, for lack of a collective term for that area by the bay where Pier 39 is also located. For many, this area is an essential stop not just because of its proximity to Downtown SF, but also thanks to the very touristy vibe and the myriad of activities available.

Monday, May 25, 2015

[SAN MATEO] Facebook and Food Trucks


Once again, Day Two was reserved for even more shopping. The venue this time was called Great Mall, which is a mall alright but still mostly catering to outlet shop worshippers. I don’t have anything against shopping, but when it comes to clothes I usually struggle to find something that actually fits me. I was quite surprised to find size 26 shorts at American Eagle yesterday. That streak of luck did not continue here, unfortunately. Why the heck do I have to be so emaciated? Oh well, that’s just the story of my life.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

[SAN FRANCISCO] Shop Until You Drop


Almost everyone in LA was warning me to be wary of the LGBT community in San Francisco, and I was forever wondering why. Do they bite? Apparently, this side of California is considered to be more liberal than its southern cousin. I really thought that it was the other way around. Anyway, San Francisco does feel more like the United States. I see more white people and the downtown area has a different feel in terms of ambiance and architecture, not to mention a bit foggy and damp in the morning.

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 5/Episode 7


5.7 The Gift
Maester Aemon dies of old age. Jon Snow travels with Tormund to gather the Wildlings north of the wall. Sam breaks his vows sleeping with Gilly. Sansa begs Theon for help, but he ends up betraying her. Stannis’ army suffers the wrath of northern winter, but he ignores Ser Davos’ advice against advancing to Winterfell. Myrcella defends Dorne and Trystane as her homeland and her husband, respectively. She refuses to leave. Bron almost dies from the late effects of one of the Sand Snakes’ poisoned dagger, but is given the antidote after flirting with her. Daario Naharis asks Daenerys to marry him, but she refuses. She reluctantly goes to the fighting pits later on, and finds Tyrion and Ser Jorah there. Olenna bargains with the High Sparrow, but he proves hard to convince. Tommen starves himself and bemoans his helplessness, but is once again manipulated by his mother’s emotional rhetoric. She pays her daughter-in-law a visit and taunts her, before getting the surprise of her life when the faith militants arrest her too.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

[CALIFORNIA] To Greyhound or Not to Greyhound


Given the busy route and the many carriers plying it, I really thought that going from LA to San Francisco by plane would be a showdown of lowest fares. I realized I was wrong when Kayak revealed that all of flights were in the vicinity of $75. That is why I decided to just take the plane back to LA, but brave the Greyhound to San Francisco. Booking online, the overnight trip cost me $25. Overall, my Bay Area trip back and forth just cost me $100, which is not really that bad.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tomorrowland

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomorrowland_%28film%29
♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) finds a peculiar pin among her stash of belongings after a run-in with the authorities. A mere touch triggers visions of a futuristic world called Tomorrowland, a different dimension where the brightest minds are brought together to come up with the most innovative of inventions. She later finds herself being pursued by a gang of animatronic robots disguised as humans. One of them, Athena (Raffey Cassidy), is actually on her side and is responsible for planting the pin in her possessions. She leads her to an adult Frank Walker (George Clooney), one of the very few humans who ever stepped foot in Tomorrowland when he was a kid. He is reluctant to help at first, but eventually succumbs in the belief that she is the solution to the impending doom involving the end of the world. They must, however, find a way to convince David Nix (Hugh Laurie), Tomorrowland’s leader who must ensure the survival of his realm rather than help humans salvage theirs.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

[LOS ANGELES] Universal CityWalk


The plan was to go to Universal City, but knowing myself too well I knew that my to-do list would always depend on my sleeping habits and how willing they are to cooperate. I flew to LA without a plan, and it worked just fine for the last few days. What happens is I would sleep until 4 PM, then take a shower and have some snacks before my friends picked me up to go somewhere for the night. Tonight was no different, and the destination was Universal City after all. At least I ended up somewhere, right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[LOS ANGELES] Everybody Comes to Hollywood


As Madonna would tell you, everybody comes to Hollywood. They want to make it in the neighborhood. And I’d say why not? The cultural diversity of Southern California makes everyone feel welcome. The weather is ideal: not too cold; not too hot. The many palm trees look you in the eye and say, “Look at us dude, we’re so chill...” with that signature lazy drawl of theirs that trigger memories of beach and suntan lotion in your head. Laidback is an abused term, because it is pretty much an apt description.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

[LOS ANGELES] Filipinotown + Halliwell Manor


I’ve been telling everyone that I came to California to chill, which is half true. The real reason is that I decided to come to Los Angeles because I was doing nothing back in Manila, and then Cathay Fanfares dangled an HKD4000 (~USD550) HKG-LAX-HKG flight to my face. Could a mere mortal resist? The flight to Hong Kong was covered by Air Asia’s MNL-HKG route launch sale. The ticket from Macau to Manila was bought using accumulated Cebu Pacific rewards points. Did I mention how awesome all this is?

Monday, May 18, 2015

[CALIFORNIA] Is That a TNT I See


I never really wanted to go the United States. Getting a visa back at the US Embassy in Manila is legendary for the rate of denial and horror stories by those who have tried their luck and failed. My policy has always been: “If you don’t like me, I don’t like you either” but then there was this one boring day in Seoul... I decided to apply for a visa at the US Embassy there, and given how South Koreans can enter the US visa-free, the process was way easier and perhaps, arguably, viewed with less bias.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

VISA: United States (Multiple Entry)


Philippine passport holders need a visa to go to the United States, and getting one in Manila is a real pain. Why so? It’s because the embassy there does not really think of us as tourists, but rather illegal aliens wanting a share of greener pastures. As such, you would find many forums online dealing with this topic, some of them giving helpful tips on how to answer the consul’s questions. Some would even tell you how to specifically prepare paperwork to boost your chances.

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 5/Episode 6


5.6 Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
Arya finally sees what is hidden behind the door. Tyrion tells Ser Jorah how his father died at the Wall, something he had no idea about. They are then captured by pirates. Petyr negotiates a plan with Cersei, in which he ends up Warden of the North. She is skeptic, but is left without a choice. In Dorne, Prince Trystane (Toby Sebastian) proves to be a good man to his wife-to-be Myrcella, and intends to marry her soon. Jaime and Bron reach them in time, but are ambushed by the Sand Snakes. A battle ensues and they all end up captured by the royal guards. Olenna Tyrell squares off with Cersei, but they both end up in a stalemate. Loras’ holy inquest begins and he denies all charges against him, but Olyvar’s unexpected testimony does not only get him incarcerated, but Margaery as well, as a helpless Tommen watches on. Myranda preps Sansa about the torture she will endure when she marries Ramsay. She marries him anyway. He rapes her on their wedding night, and orders Theon to watch.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Deux jours, une nuit

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Days,_One_Night
♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Raising a family in a small town in Belgium, Sandra (Marion Cotillard) and husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) both have to work to make ends meet. She takes a short period of leave due to her depression; an ultimatum welcomes her return to the office. Her absence meant some adjustments in terms of working overtime for her co-workers, making them realize that they could actually do the work without her. The management decides to put the matter to a vote: either they keep Sandra, or they let her go in lieu of 1000 euros each as a bonus for all of them. The odds seem to be overwhelmingly against her, but her husband and friends think that she should not give up. And so she makes it a point to visit each and every one of her co-workers over the weekend so as to persuade them to vote for her so she can keep her job. She faces an uphill climb, though, as giving up 1000 euros is not something everyone has the luxury to do.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ex Machina

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_Machina_%28film%29
♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Geek Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) gets the chance of a lifetime as he wins the company raffle, but instead of cash or a trip to some beach paradise, the grand prize involves a one-on-one meet and greet event with eccentric but very talented company CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) at his secluded residence cum research facility. He gets more than what he bargained for, though, when Nathan reveals to him that he is about to take part in a Turing Test for his latest artificial intelligence project. A dream come true for any gifted programmer like him, Caleb is tasked to test Ava (Alicia Vikander), a humanoid robot, whose reactions and advanced intellect could be mistaken for that of a human being. Things get quite weird when she begins to intentionally trigger facility-wide power cuts and admit to him that she does not trust Nathan, convincing him that they should both escape. Is Caleb really testing Ava? Is Ava the one testing Caleb? Or is Nathan just testing them both?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 5/Episode 5


5.5 Kill the Boy
Missandei laments the sorry state Grey Worm is in, while Daenerys mourns Ser Barristan’s death. She turns to her chained dragons to instill fear and weed out the traitors from the innocent. Jon Snow convinces Tormund to unite the remaining Wildlings north of the wall to fight on their side, but the rest of the Night’s Watch are not ready to make peace with the free folk. Brienne and Podrick keep their proximity to Sansa, hoping to rescue her. Her presence in Winterfell causes friction between Ramsay and Myranda (Charlotte Hope), who leads her to find Theon at the kennels. Roose’s wife is pregnant and Ramsay feels threatened. Stannis’ army marches away from Castle Black to take Winterfell, but not before he lends his ships to Jon Snow. Ser Jorah and Tyrion enter Old Valyria and see Drogon flying high above, which amazes the imp. They are ambushed by Stone Men, but manage to flee to a nearby island. Ser Jorah claims to have escaped unscathed, but has apparently been afflicted with greyscale.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hot Pursuit

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_Pursuit_%282015_film%29
♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Rose (Reese Witherspoon) is an uptight cop who takes her job seriously, too seriously in fact that she does not have even a semblance of a personal life. Her reputation has also suffered a serious blow no thanks to a tasing incident with the mayor’s son. When a delicate operation involving Felipe Riva, a Mexican cartel informant, requires the force to find someone to escort and protect his wife Daniella (Sofia Vergara), Cooper sees this as an opportunity to redeem herself. The two immediately dislike each other the moment they meet, but are left without a choice but to stick together when things go really bad, what with the many enemies and secret friends following these drug smugglers left and right. The mission is to make it alive to Dallas, except that Mrs. Riva has some important secrets up her sleeves that might just endanger both their lives.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Game of Thrones (HBO): Season 5/Episode 4


5.4 The Sons of the Harpy
Ser Jorah hurls Tyrion into a boat and they sail to Meereen, while Jaime hops on a merchant ship with Bron en route to Dorne. Ellaria rallies the Sand Snakes to her cause with Myrcella as their main target. Cersei continues to control the political affairs of King’s Landing through the Small Council, and fortifies her hold of religion by arming the faith militants, who arrest Loras as their first target. As Margaery puts pressure on Tommen for her brother’s release, his weakness as a king is highlighted as religion undermines the state. Melisandre seduces Jon Snow to persuade him to join their cause, but he resists her advances, citing his love for Ygritte as a reason. Little Finger heads back to King’s Landing and leaves Sansa alone with the Boltons despite her reluctance, assuring her that Stannis will march south to conquer Winterfell, rescue her, and name her Warden of the North. The Sons of the Harpy mount another attack, almost taking down Grey Worm and fatally injuring Ser Barristan.

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