Jun 29 2016

A contrite admission

Adel Gabot



A serious confession here: I don’t watch Game of Thrones.

Never have.

I know it sound ridiculous, knowing how up-to-date and obsessive I am about TV shows, but I somehow never really got around to it. I think I did watch the very first episode years ago when it first came out (where one of the characters pushes a kid out of a tower), but put it aside as I thought it was another hack-and-slash fantasy, intending to watch it later.

But I never did. (Ditto for The Walking Dead, although I gave up on that one after the second season. But that’s a story for another blog entry.)

When GoT started to snowball into the behemoth it is now, I told myself I should get around to it, but never really found the time. And it’s gotten away from me. By the fourth season, I’ve given up the fantasy of eventually catching up—there are too many episodes gone by already!

When my friends gather around to discuss the latest show, I sagely nod my head and act like I know what they’re talking about even if I don’t, and try to participate as little as possible so I’m not found out to be the boor who doesn’t watch Game of Thrones.

Everyone watches it. I mean, who the hell doesn’t?

Me, apparently.

Of course, through osmosis, I vaguely know some of the high points, like the Red Wedding thing, that Jon Snow boondoggle where you don’t know if he’s alive or dead, White Walkers—which are apparently the show’s version of militant zombies, and the various battles and deaths and all that, but honestly, I don’t really know a single thing about the damned show.

And now it’s a cultural touchstone, a weekly ritual where people actually form theories as to where the show will go and discuss it endlessly online and in person. The second to the last episode of the season has gone into the books as the highest rated TV episode ever.

Now that it’s wrapped up the sixth season and is preparing to go into its last (or maybe a couple more—well, the 13 final episodes, however the creators want to slice it), I told myself this morning that this deception’s gotta end. I owe it to myself to watch the entire thing and finally see what everyone’s been obsessing about all these years. Binge-watch six seasons of the show in the hiatus before they end it.

I’m finally going to be in the loop.

So this morning, I set my computer to download all the shows thus far, and when they’re ready, I’ll get started binge -watching. After all these years, I’ll finally be a citizen of Westeros. Winter is coming, and we all have to get ready!



Jun 26 2016

The city with the worst traffic in the world

Adel Gabot



All right, now we’ve gone and done it. We got ourselves declared the city with the worst traffic in the world. See here.

Of course I don’t dispute it. Manila does have the worst traffic in the world, bar none. It comes from too many cars, and too little roads. Secondarily, from lack of discipline. It wouldn’t be so bad if we only followed the rules, but most Filipinos are thick-headed and look out only for themselves.

I don’t feel it much these days, because I sold my car and take public transport. I feel it when I take the cab sometimes, but my commutes are usually short, and for the long ones, like to the Makati Commercial Center or downtown Manila, I usually take the train. The few times I have to travel during rush hour and the trains are packed, I take the air conditioned bus and just sleep through the traffic.

But often, even the short rides are unbearable. Sometimes, the short 2.5 kilometer jeepney rides to Cubao take 30-45 minutes, particularly during rush hour. I could literally just hoof it, and it would take much less time. Believe me, because I’ve actually done it.

When you have to sit out hours-long traffic to traverse what should take you 30 minutes, you know something’s definitely wrong. Even President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte is planning to exercise emergency executive powers to finally solve the problem, I hear. I didn’t vote for you, but good luck, sir.

I’m reminded of one particularly horrible day when I was coming home from work and still drove a car. We were living in a quiet subdivision near Congressional Avenue back then. I was relatively near the house already, but the damn traffic wasn’t moving at all.

I got to maybe just six blocks from the house, and that was around 6PM. By 8:30 I had just moved a few car lengths ahead, and by 9:30 I decided to just leave the car on the curb and just walk home and come back for the car later around midnight.

I came back around 12:30, and the traffic still hadn’t moved much. I couldn’t believe it. I just went home again and slept, and came back at 6AM. Sometime in the early morning the traffic had cleared, and Congressional Avenue was nearly deserted, with just my car up on the sidewalk. I drove it back home and took the friggin day off.

I never did find out what caused that jam, and I never will. But when the world says we have the worst traffic in the world, I believe it.




Jun 25 2016

A quick review of The Wave

Adel Gabot



This Norwegian big-budget film from last year is actually decent.

I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it has heaps of Hollywood cliches, but the stunning cinematography, excellent score, believable effects and decent acting made for a very absorbing couple of hours. Normally, I’m not accustomed to watching subtitled foreign disaster movies, but The Wave (Bolgen in the original Norwegian) is a pretty damn decent film.

You don’t usually associate pleasant mountain ranges with tsunamis, but that’s the main conceit of this film. It’s set in an idyllic, tourist-friendly Norwegian fjord called Gerainger up in the mountain pass of Akneset, where we meet geologist Kristian Elkjord (played by Kristoffer Joner, who looks like a rich man’s version of a comfortably rumpled Norman Reedus) and his family.

Kristian works for the government monitoring the geologic goings-on in the area, but has recently been hired by a private oil company out of town and is in the process of moving out to the city with his family and leave all this behind. On his last day at work, he discovers some curious geologic activity that tells him something disastrous is about to happen, but he can’t really do anything about it since he doesn’t work there anymore.

And that disaster does happen. That evening, a gigantic landslide happens happens high up in the mountains, and sends the waters of the fjord rushing towards Gerainger in an 80-meter tsunami. The entire community, including a nice hotel where Kristian’s wife incidentally works, is wiped out, and those who aren’t quick enough to get to higher ground are goners.

You’d be totally horrified by the terrible spectacle of an entire mountainside crumbling and falling into the waters below and sending a gargantuan wave into town if the effects weren’t so pretty at the same time. The scenes of a peaceful mountain range ruined by a huge, roiling wall of water rushing down below is, in a word, spectacular.


This catastrophe happens about two-thirds of the way into the movie, which is kind of surprising: the big event happens a bit early! In a disaster film, that’s unheard of!

The first two-thirds of the film were setup and preamble to this event, and the final third is the story of how Kristian and his family survive that event—which should be anticlimactic and much too prolonged for it to work at all, but remember, we aren’t watching a typical Hollywood disaster movie. It does work, and all for the better.

Sure, it gets pretty melodramatic towards the end (and I’m not about to spoil it for you, dear reader), but on the whole, it works for the film. I won’t go into specifics, but I don’t know if it’s the culture or the fact that it’s a tsunami happening high up in the mountains of Norway or what, but whatever it is, it works.

Assuming you don’t speak Norwegian, if you’re not beneath taking the trouble to read the English subtitles, I think you’re going to be pretty entertained by The Wave.

7 out of 10 stars.

Jun 24 2016

My very first DVD

Adel Gabot



Blast from the past: yesterday I got another copy of the very first original DVD I ever owned—Spawn.

Oh, I know it’s not anything earth-shattering or auspicious. And it’s not a particularly good movie, not by any means. But it was my first movie in the (what was then) new format, and it holds great sentimental value for me.

Back then when DVDs were still new (and very expensive), they weren’t readily available in my country. Bootleg discs were still a few years away. All of the titles being sold were original American R1s, and were all over the map as far as movie types were concerned. We bought what we could get.

The player I got (which was big and bulky), as far as I can recall, was one of the early Sony models, which I paid a pretty penny for. Back then (as I still am now) I was already an early adopter, and I had to have the latest and the greatest. If I knew then what I know now (that we’d have hi-res files of these movies just streaming to our TVs and desktops, and that the disc format’s days have come and gone) I wouldn’t have tried too hard to be an early adopter.

But back then, playing a DVD was a wondrous experience. Coming from the bigger and buggier laserdisc technology (which I also had a ton of), it was a singular experience to have such hi-fi output to come from such a little thing. I marveled at the high resolution video and audio fidelity of Michael Jai White being burned to a crisp by an evil Martin Sheen. Hey, it’s Spawn; what do you expect?

That disc began a long run of many satisfying hours watching movies, both good and bad, on DVDs, until I migrated to Blurays and streamed video. Watching it now, I’m transported back to the good old days.

I have no idea where it is now, that disc, but wherever it is, I hope it found a good home.

Wala lang, just reminiscing.

Jun 22 2016

“Stay tuned for..”

Adel Gabot



I was watching the latest episode of Braindead from CBS (delayed) on my system yesterday and when it ended, Mary Elizabeth Winstead says in a voice-over, “Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode.”

And… nothing.

The end credits roll, but there are no scenes from the next episode.

And there never are. Not in Braindead, nor in any other show that I download and watch.

It’s always like that. A voice-over tells us to expect scenes from the next episode, and it’s never there. It’s like a rule instituted by generations of uploaders. Never include the scenes from the next episode. Never include them. And there are the generations of downloaders who’ve learned to live with it.

I ask the uploading guys—why the hell not?

Why not simply include the damn preview? It’s no skin off your nose. It just adds another extra, what, thirty seconds to the file? What’s the harm in that?

I mean, everyone’s got a right to see the scenes from the next episode, right? It heightens expectations for the next week’s download, for one thing. In my book, that’s always welcome.

Ay, nako.

Wala lang. Just ranting. Walang magawa.

Now back to regular programming.