The Sing-Off Is Back!

Two episodes have come and gone; and I am so thrilled with the new season. My favorite reality singing competition is back with a lot more competitors (16 groups), a new judge (Sara Bareilles replaces Nicole Scherzinger) and loads of raw talent waiting to be discovered.

Last year, I raved about The Sing-Off and enumerated the reasons why this is one of the most refreshing reality shows on television. I was hooked. I am a HUGE fan.

Judges Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles and Shawn Stockman

This year, the show will have more episodes than usual. With sixteen groups competing, they’ve had to divide them into two brackets, each composed of 8 groups. This means more performances, more eliminations and more episodes. In two weeks, however, they’ve already eliminated four groups; so I’m thinking it won’t be dragged out too long compared to other singing competitions.

Of course, with more competitors being featured in the show, there is a danger of not having as many good performers. I was worried for nothing. The talent this year is unbelievable. I can’t imagine eliminating over half of these amazing groups in the next couple of weeks. The bar is set even higher; and it shows. I couldn’t stop thinking, “Damn, they’re good.” or “That’s so cool.” or “What the…” It’s too bad this show is only on once a week. I could not get enough of the a cappella goodness.

The current panel still proves to be the most effective judges ever. Shawn Stockman, Ben Folds and Sara Bereilles make a good team. I liked Nicole; but she was probably the weakest judge last year. Sara B is a wonderful replacement. As usual, all of their input are valuable to the contestants. They continue to give constructive criticism. No theatrics involved. We’re all about the singing, people!

It’s still too early to tell who are the strongest teams based on one performance each. However, I do have my favorites from the past two episodes. Watch and weep.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkdlny_qkzI]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEuOyU1_jkA]

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A Story About Heels

I LOVE SHOES.

That is probably no surprise since I’m a girl. But it has to be said. I love buying them. I love wearing them.

I was organizing my closet this morning; and I got curious about my shoes… I counted how many I currently own, not including house slippers. The magic number is 23 pairs. This covers all my sneakers, heels, boots, flip flops, flats and sandals.

Exhibit A. My Collection of Footwear

Women in America own, on average, 19 pairs of shoes. My number is only a few pairs over that; so it’s not too bad, right? After all, if you look closely at my collection, most of them are worn out and old. I haven’t bought a pair in months. The newest one I own (Vans shoes)… I won at a raffle. Still, this collection is made up of purchases in the past four years that I’ve been earning my own money. I’ve also given away a couple of pairs within that span of time. Who knows how many I’ll own in another four years. I’ll get back to you on that.

Most of the shoes I buy are appropriate for my job: comfortable, without heels, low maintenance. This pretty much covers 75% of my collection (Exhibit A, 2nd row to last row). Chucks are my favorite, followed by Fit Flops, followed by some splurging here and there (Adidas Originals and Onitsuka Tiger).

The shoes across the top of my collection (Exhibit A, 1st row) are for formal events, parties and special occasions. I only bought these over the past two and a half years. I didn’t like going to formal events; and that pretty much buried the need to purchase girly shoes such as heels or style items such as boots. I may have owned some heels in the past… for prom or for my sister’s or my brother’s wedding; but if I could get away with wearing ballet flats instead of heels, I’d grab that opportunity. That’s not the case anymore.

The first pair of heels that were truly mine (I chose it. I paid for it.) are Steve Madden (Exhibit A, 1st row, middle). It was cute. It was not that high. It was easy to pair with simple semi-formal outfits. It was safe.

The second pair I bought changed things. I walked into a Nine West boutique at Gateway Mall and saw a display of shoes on sale. I was thinking of buying boots for a while; and this one caught my eye (Exhibit A, 1st row, 2nd column). However, it was HIGH… four to five inches high. I was reluctant; but my sister pushed me to try it anyway. The moment I wore those heels and stood up. I couldn’t speak. It looked great. It didn’t matter that I may have to practice walking with them at home for the next few months before actually wearing them to an event. I had to buy it. That’s when I learned the power of heels and its effect on the female form. No wonder women go crazy over them.

Given what I do, it’s pretty obvious why I go for comfort when it comes to footwear; but since making that realization a few years back, I guess having a couple of shiny happy heels and boots don’t hurt (that much). Tiis ganda na lang. (Endure suffering for beauty.)

Behind The Scenes: “GOAL”

As promised, here are some snapshots from my August shoot for the Smart Netphone. As you can see, some scenes were shot in an indoor facility against a HUGE sky backdrop, whereas some were shot outdoors. With a huge patch of astroturf (aka fake grass), we simulated a football field even if we were on cement the whole time. Add a little bit of editing and post magic; and you won’t even realize the tricks we’ve employed. It’s like we were on location the whole time.

You can read more about the project here.

25 Shows: Perfect Strangers

Show 7 of 25: PERFECT STRANGERS
(1986-1993)

it’s about:
Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomus are distant cousins who end up living together when Balki arrives from Mypos (in the Mediterranean) and had nowhere to go. The odd couple share a rocky coexistence; but they somehow manage to develop a deep friendship despite differing cultures and points of view.

my earliest history with the show:
It was the time when RPN 9 was one of my favorite channels next to ABS-CBN. They had all the best sitcoms and US shows. I don’t remember exactly when I started watching since I was too young back then. What I do recall are nights when the whole family would sit in front of the television and watch this show… maybe mimic the Dance of Joy. Ah, simpler times…

why it sticks:
Perfect Strangers is one of those shows that I could never forget from my childhood. It is just a funny show with great characters and a lot of heart. Most importantly, Balki really just cracked me up! I enjoyed it immensely as a kid.

It’s one of those shows that probably taught me about appreciating differences between people. The two cousins may be polar opposites; but they are able to solve problems with the help of the other. The relationship between Larry and Balki went beyond their differences; and they truly became family the longer they shared experiences together.

I recently watched some early episodes; and it still made me laugh. The comedy is still current. It’s certainly a classic in every sense of the word. The show remains to be one of my favorites after all these years.

best memory:
The theme song of the show… classic.

And of course, the Dance of Joy.

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.

“Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.”

Kyle Chandler wins an Emmy!!!

This is a line I never thought I’d hear on the Emmys; but it happened. Executive Producer Jason Katims said it; and I couldn’t be happier. Friday Night Lights, one of the most outstanding shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, finally got some of the recognition it so richly deserved from the Academy.

Jason Katims won for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. And Kyle Chandler… Coach Eric Taylor… won for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. Connie Britton (up for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series) as well as the show (in the running for Outstanding Drama Series) may have lost; but a lot of FNL fans are still vindicated, joyful and grateful for the recognition it did receive. So despite overlooking the series for a long time… Emmys… You are forgiven for this win.

It has been a truly satisfying thing to watch. Anyway, I just want to say… Sorry, Jon Hamm. I like you very much; but this is a surprise upset I’m ecstatic to have witnessed.

This is all I can really focus on right now for the night that was. I’m so happy!!!

Click here to see the complete list of winners.

25 Shows: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Show 6 of 25: AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER
(2005-2008)

it’s about:
I’m going to go ahead and quote Katara on this one:

Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements could stop them. But, when the world needed him most, he vanished.
A hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an Airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he has a lot to learn before he’s ready to save anyone.
But I believe, Aang can save the world.

my earliest history with the show:

I remember seeing trailers for this animated series on Nickelodeon from time to time and being really interested. I chanced upon the first episode on the channel and found it to be quite good. I waited for the next episode same time next week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the second episode but rather a couple of episodes ahead… I gave up then.

I believe it was late 2009 when I finally saw a DVD boxed set for Avatar’s Book One on sale. I bought it at once, started watching back at home and finished it by the next day. I wanted more. Within the next two to three weeks I devoured the entire series.

why it sticks:

This show is one of the most “adult” animated series I’ve watched. I consider it as such because at its core, the show is about war and warfare. In 2008, Avatar: The Last Airbender won a Peabody Award for its “unusually complex characters and healthy respect for the consequences of warfare;” and this recognition sums up the treatment of the show, the characters as well as the story.

Aang, Katara, Toph, Sokka and Zuko are characters that grew and flourished as the series got deeper and deeper into the story. From time to time, you have to remind yourself that these are simply kids who are forced into a world threatened by war and destruction. Sure, they have powers; but these powers are nothing if not honed and developed. The whole series serves as a journey for each of them, not only as they tried to gain control of their skills, but also as they discovered more about themselves through their ancestry and family history.

I appreciate the fact that Avatar: The Last Airbender has a sense of history. It’s fairly clear that this show is rooted in Eastern culture and folklore. The movements for each of the four nations is very much inspired by martial arts. I couldn’t be more happy that it is treated with respect in this series. The creators clearly gave significance to the influence of Chinese culture in the crafting of the story, making it a well-rounded and multi-dimensional show.

The show also has a lot of humor and wit. The writing is excellent because there seems to be a perfect balance between its adult themes, fight scenes and clever dialogue. No matter how treacherous the road ahead may be, whenever Sokka cracks a joke or Aang stumbles over himself, we are reminded that there’s still a bit of comedy left in life.

This show is simply a breath of fresh air compared to all the shallow and laugh-a-minute cartoons airing now. It has a lot of layers, a lot of heart, and a lot of action. It clearly made an impression on me and I love it to bits. Seriously… So much so that it crushed me upon watching the movie The Last Airbender; but that’s another discussion for another day…

best memory:

The third book in the series, FIRE, left me with such an affection for the show. It clearly got darker and darker as we neared the end; but that’s where it was headed from the beginning. It all came down to the battle between Aang and Fire Lord Ozai, Zuko’s father. This was the battle that ended all battles; and I hung on to every second. This is gripping stuff… animated and fictional, I know… but still gripping.

Here’s another Avatar-related entry worth reading. It was featured on Freshly Pressed almost a year ago: Strange Fruit

Septic Tank and Oscars in One Sentence

It’s official. Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank has been selected as the Philippines’ entry to the upcoming Oscars.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_4LrcK7dwQ]

The movie first made waves when it dominated this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival. It then garnered even more attention during its nationwide release last August. If you’re in the Philippines and haven’t heard about this movie, then you must be living under a rock. Here’s just some of the buzz that surrounded the film:

The twitterverse has spoken. The public has spoken (biggest box office draw in Cinemalaya history, over Php30 million box office during national release). Now, the movie is thrust into a new challenge… be the first Pinoy film nominated in the Oscars. Truly, may the force be with us.

The film has officially been invited to Vancouver, Busan, Hawaii and Udine (Italy).  Now, it’s making its way to Hollywood. Being selected as the Philippine representative is an honor in itself; but that’s just the beginning. This is going to be a HUGE endeavor. There’s plenty of politics, tons of press screenings to be done and most importantly… lots and lots of campaigning! Let’s get the buzz going!

This is a very big deal for the people involved in the film. Knowing them and working with them in production has been an honor. I’m so happy for Marlon Rivera, Chris Martinez, Ms. Eugene Domingo, the staff and crew. (Congratulations Straight Shooters!) I wish you all the best. This film has come a long way; but it’s got a lot more road to cover. So exciting!

Simulan na ang pangangampanya!