I felt so bad about the new Mummy movie I had to tell you about it.

For the record, The Mummy (1999) and its sequel, The Mummy Returns (2001) are two of my absolute favorite movies of all time. I even love the Scorpion King, guys. The Scorpion King. These movies were the perfect combination of flash, flair and funny.

To be fair, part of it was because I really wanted to be a sexy librarian, and explore pyramids, and be the reincarnation of an Egyptian princess. Another part of the appeal was that it strongly mirrored adventure novels that I was into at the time.

So I was really excited about the new Mummy. I didn’t even feel bad that Tom Cruise was in it, cause Tom Cruise (and a savvy production team) gave me Edge of Tomorrow.

I was so wrong.

Basic plot: I brought a monster back to life despite explicit warnings not to (I mean, Ahmanet’s tomb is covered in liquid poison. I learn nothing, and nothing happens to me as a character. That’s the plot.

Blatant Cashgrabs Ruin Everything

I’m simplistic when it comes to movies. I am perfect popcorn movie audience. Give me good dialogue, some shiny choreography and I’m pretty happy. Like I loved King Arthur. I LOVED IT. I’m not even ashamed to say it, and 10/10 would watch again.

The weird thing is the movie starts out okay. I was thrown off by Russell Crowe’s sudden appearance but who wasn’t, and the beginning was reminiscent of the 1999 Mummy’s hammy opening, I was hooked.

Then they shoehorned the cashgrab in — the Dark Universe. The movie suddenly drops off, and you’re sitting in your seat thinking, “What? Wait.”

If you remove the “Dark Universe” set up, you will probably be left with five minutes of the movie.  Seriously.

Sobrang badtrip lang (It’s such a bad trip) when studios decide to focus on the bigger story arc (the upcoming Dark Universe trilogy) than on making a good movie. I don’t know why studios don’t see that this usually doesn’t work. They don’t even reference Dracula Untold because it’s non-canon now. Why would you throw away Luke Evans like that? At least that movie had some semblance of a plot, and was enjoyable. And no, even I didn’t like I, Frankenstein.

Honestly, if you watched the trailer you probably have seen the best scene in the movie already: the plane crash.

 

 

Also, sometime in the middle of the movie there’s a scene with throwaway camel spiders that harks back to the beloved scarab scenes from The Mummy. Or it kind of harks back to it. Those scarabs were NASTY, and they were an integral part of the plot. These spiders were mostly bad CGI.

As for the acting, Tom Cruise is his usual “renegade” self. I honestly didn’t care much for the cast. There was a forced quality to them that made me feel like the writers were trying too hard to make us like the character. It felt strange to have all these people in this movie with no real reason kind of be there, or even real liking for each other.

It doesn’t even explain why Nick would go to great lengths for Jenny, unless it’s by the power of a good one night stand. You don’t really understand what draws them together, because she mostly sneers at him throughout the movie.

Or maybe I just miss EVIE AND RICK.

Evie’s just so cute and proud of herself! Look at Rick who is super baffled by her.

Ahmanet

The central issue for me was Ahmanet’s character.

I’m perfectly game with Ahmanet going cray cause she wanted to rule. I would go cray if my Daddy was all like, welp, sorry, trained you hard to rule but now I got a son, so yeah. Bye. Never mind that you can probably rule for a few years before he comes of age. Like Dad, really. 

 

That’s  perfectly good motivation. They show her off in the trailer so well — fighter! princess! The stunts were awesome. Sofia Boutella is awesome.

I don’t get why she has to chase after Tom Cruise to bring Set into the world for the rest of the movie. All that sacrifice and suffering and you end up a lousy Queen of Hell. This Lucifer/Satan analogy was lazy writing too, because apparently nobody did their research on Set. Set wasn’t considered evil in Egyptian mythology. He was considered as the friend of the dead, and a little weird, but most underworld gods are a little weird. You would be too if most of your friends were dead, or if you lived in the Egyptian underworld, which was really really sad and kind of boring.

Plus Ahmanet spends a lot of time tied up or weirdly contorted, or contorting others into mummies. I wish they just made her evil, or even evil for love!

She didn’t have to chase Tom Cruise around. She could have just been herself, and wanted to rule the world for her own sake. Or because she loved someone, cause apparently love is the greatest way to find your true purpose (see Wonder Woman).

Overall, this Mummy movie by itself is about a 5/10. It’s missing the heart and humor of its predecessor and it really lacks about 45 minutes of serious plot. The movie lacks the core component that made the 1999 movie so memorable: great, fully realized characters that you believed in, that made you believe!

 

Odd Encounters 4

“I like your tattoo. Is it real?” We’re in the middle of a noisy conference hall. My feet already hurt, and I’m not even wearing pumps. My skirt is a little too tight. She has long straight hair, an earnest beautiful face, winning smile. She looks like a Filipina soccer mom.

I always want to say no, not real. I like to rotate temporary tattoos. It’s tempting. I forget people don’t always like tattoos, or seeing them. “Yes.”

We talk about tattoo work and color. Tattoo colors are different colors. They are black and gray. Colored. Watercolor. “It fades,” she says. “After a few years, if you’re not careful. Keep out of the sun.”

“I have one too.” She says. It’s secret. Most women tend to get tattoos in secret places: hip, rib, back of leg, top of thigh. Other women tend to get tattoos in small places: wrist, ankle, the tiny place just under the back of your neck, the tip of your spine. “But I don’t show the others.” Conservative culture sometimes makes for conservative rebellion.

We continue to wait for the meeting to go on break. It’s hard to be different here. They remember differences, even after the years pass: the girl with blue hair, the two people who kissed in the parking lot (but they were married to different people), the Japanese man who went mad in his office, shut himself in. This, that.  They call you siga, like you wade into things to wage war. I think of the dozen tattoos I seriously wanted, and how they lurk under my skin, waiting.

“If I was a bit…” I want to say brave, or dumb, but being brave or dumb isn’t defined by the body art you wear, or the armor you carry. “Crazier, I guess. I would have covered my arms now.” I make this gesture, like pulling on sleeves.

She tells me about her friend — always a friend, the ultra Amazon, tattooed goddess type friend. I wanted to be that girl, I want to tell her but I don’t. I don’t really know this woman. For a moment there, I even forgot her name.

Sometimes

Your life is full of spectacular quiet.

 

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Taal Lake, 2016

 

Full of faraways and farewells, because for you it’s true. People change. If they don’t, the circumstances they face make them change. You know this now because you are old enough to know that it’s the truth.

It’s weird how easy it feels now. People move away, come back. They come back different, thinner, older, with different interests. The girl who used to hate motion now loves yoga. The boy you knew in college tells you, quietly, he really really likes boys and maybe he always did. You’ve changed, but you don’t admit it. You move quietly. You don’t feel that young urge to make people like you.  But you don’t laugh as much as you did.

You try to make it better by thinking, oh, I’m not the only one in the world saying goodbye, or hello again. Or asking how someone is over miles and miles.

“Hold still, I’m taking a screenshot.”

“Okay. Do you know the sun sets at 9 pm over here? It’s crazy!”

 

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Skype with Cousin J – 2016

 

You spent a part of your life submerged, thinking maybe this is it for you. There’s nothing else, because you can’t imagine anything else.  You’ve ended too. It feels like you cast paper into the water and when you made a grab for it, it disintegrated. You can’t put anything back together. You feel like you barely remember it.  But it’s not true.

It just shifted. Nothing really ends.

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Daisy in the garden

Life moves.

 

 

 

Manila, Cataloged (Part One)

Bars

There are so many of them. In your hometown, you only ever went to six and that was when you were flush. You rotated them depending on your mood, the day of the week, how much gasoline you had or what kind of cheeseburger you were craving. Manila bars are flavored with the different cities and the different people who inhabit them. It’s a smorgasbord that pleases the alcoholic in you.

Here you travel hours to sit outside a bar in a corner alley, observing the boarded pawnshop front and thinking vaguely of stealing the books for sale on the shelves in the wall. Inside the walls are lined with disco balls, the beer is cheap and people dance in front of this impeccable, tiny DJ booth. This week a friend tells you that “The disco ball fell off and shattered. I think some drunk bastard pulled it down.”

Here, on a hot night your friend tells you, “I know a secret whiskey bar. You need a password to get in. Let’s get a few hotdogs.” You have no idea why she says hotdogs, and then later, dining on one covered in pickles you feel like your life is so good, so delicious. They keep the whiskey in a recessed, temperature controlled shelf. The odd pleasure you feel when you see it is new. So you find yourself in a corner booth with genuine leather seats your thighs keep sticking to, and you run up enormous tabs.

Your favorites are the converted houses that keep cheap booze stocked — just beer, an effort to look a bit more festive, an aloof and distant waiter. You like these bars because they feel like someone’s house. They feel like your old house, and that all your friends might just come over, if you asked.

Cats

“I hate cats.” He tells you. It’s hot and you can feel his thigh pressed against yours. This is a cat city — stray dogs don’t seem to last long enough. You spot felines everywhere, slinking through stairways, licking themselves on stoops.

Earlier that month after a long dinner, M spots a stray small cat without friends, and both of you try to rescue a kitten hiding in some bushes. You’re both unwilling to keep it, but it jumps to a ledge and hisses, and you both give up and turn away.

Coffee

You miss K walking into the office and asking for coffee, and you would eat plantains and eggs that you buy from the same vendor in the street corner. You think of K hustling in Seattle, and make notes to call. You forget to call.

You want to tell her that the girl who sometimes watches the sugared banana stall gave birth, and that the baby is a boy. That the office is very empty now compared to before. That nothing much has changed in the corner of Manila that you work in. It’s still hot, the trains still don’t work. Sometimes early in the morning you can smell the coffee burning when the doors of the 7-Eleven open.

Energy Drinks

Your energy drink addiction is showing. So you always hide the evidence, but then who are you hiding it from? You buy the sugar-free Monster drink, the big blue-black one that you can drink in one sitting. You tell yourself the sugar-free thing is a good thing. For some reason, all you can think of when you drink these drinks is that terrible computer shop you used to hang out in so you could play World of Warcraft, the one next to the tattoo shop you eventually got one of your tattoos in. You think it’s probably still there, under another name. Still, there’s a plastic bag in your car full of energy drinks, and when people say your car smells sweet you tell them it’s your perfume.

Instant Coffee Mixes 

Everybody in this city drinks this terrible instant coffee mixes that you secretly love. It’s not even coffee.  It’s sugar, coffee flavoring and assorted flavors. You try not to drink them, stick to your principles. In the morning, if you’re alone and you wake up early enough, you brew yourself a cup of coffee and sit. You feel very adult, but you’ve been an adult for a long time.

Motels

A never again, in your book. Crossed out forever.

Traffic

Is inevitable — don’t waste time complaining. Leave earlier or later. Make playlists to sing along to. Keep a movie to watch, or an audiobook ready. Make sure you always have gas. Drive without fear, drive like a pro. Make sure you catch the eyes of truck drivers when they try to squeeze all of the 8-wheeler bulk into the sedan-sized space in front of you. Reserve the finger for really special occasions.

Traffic Annex A: Bathroom Breaks

When in dire need, turn off engine and leave car stranded in the middle of the lane. It has been 30 minutes since last movement. Thank God you’ve been running. “We have no women’s bathroom.” The attendant says. You think of the Isuzu truck behind you plowing your car out of the lane once the lights turn green, if they ever. You think of waterfalls.

“I don’t care.” You tell them. “I don’t care.”

Traffic Annex B: Flooding

The only person who knows that you were screaming is you, and the guy sitting in the jeep in front of you who looked vaguely like he understood, but also that he was afraid. You broke out in a cold sweat when you had to maneuver the car onto this steep slope, handbrake, manual, clutch for life. Grip on the steering wheel turning your knuckles white. No one knows why you were screaming, not even you.

Walking our Streets II

These are not my streets. But they are familiar.

Puddles glint as the streetlights dim. Cabs and cars whoosh by. We spill out of the bar, but it’s more of a gradual meander into the night. I want to close my eyes and blend into the darkness.

I want to stop and stand still.

The houses doze like small cats on the sidewalk. They stare us down. We ghost by them, laughing. The rain is fine and misty, it has not yet morphed into the full on storm. Above us 90-year old trees loom. The rain releases the smell of greenery, ripe mangoes and the deep, dark smell of acacia. Our shadows stain the pavement, flicker and disappear. Water gushes into the gutters.

It is pleasant: the long strides we take, the burn of the alcohol, the quiet city night. It is simple: new friends, old friends. Our voices falter as we speak. Our throats clog with memories of loved ones as one of us tentatively shares the grief. Later, we will toast to our dead and to the past and to time.

Later.

We shove each other and run up the streets. We are waiting for dawn, I think. Waiting for the light to burn away the memories of grief and love.

I have a sensation, and it’s an old one. I want to look over my shoulder. I am certain ghosts are following us.

There will always be ghosts following us.

Looking at home, from here

Some months it’s hard to write not because I cannot, but because I feel drained at the end of the day. 

I write this from the corner of a tiny apartment in the hottest city in the world, famously referred to as the Gates of Hell. To make myself happy, I show you photographs of my hometown and my home. The city I love. I’ve been away for a month and I feel sucker punched. Homesickness is a punch to the gut. Manila makes me feel like I want different things, that other people don’t want.

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I miss the sound of the bamboo. The wind literally runs its fingers through bamboo, and you can feel it shiver on those long windy days.

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The trees. This city has no trees. They exist like afterthoughts, or discoveries. Carefully cultivated into parks. Sequestered. 

 

The mountains

It’s the mountains and the city, and the never ending rain. 

 

 

Thank you Yas for the idea. 

 

Why I Hate Hipster Glasses

I have a confession.

I hate hipster glasses. I hate girls who wear fake, clunky, coke-bottle frames. I hate boys who wear fake hipster fake tortoiseshell glasses. If you don’t need your glasses or wear glasses without lenses I automatically hate you.

See? No lenses. From weheartit.com

Glasses are cool now. Yeah. Now.

In Grade 2, glasses were a death sentence. They killed your social life. Even if they were fake tortoiseshell.

My mom noticed that I was sitting a little too close to the TV and that I tended to squint. I also tended to get headaches after reading. These symptoms meant a trip to the ophthalmologist and the epic cool sight test. I think my doctor realized pretty quickly that I was pretty bad. 

My clearest memory of that trip to the doctor is of the hot air balloon. I sat down and placed my chin on a machine that vaguely resembled square telescope. I had to look into the binoculars  and tell the assistant if I could see the balloon clearly. The yellow and red hot air balloon floated above green grass, fading in and out like movie transitions. The assistant in a lab coat tweaked it for me. All of a sudden the balloon popped out — utterly defined, so colorful I remember feeling shocked. I felt a sinking sensation in my gut.

Something really was wrong with me.

The first sign of my world changing were the steampunk glasses: heavy metal glasses that ophthalmologists place on their clients to test various grades. At first the world was a bitter blur as the doctor deftly placed in lens after lens.

“Is this better?”

Hell yeah, I’m freaking Master Yi.

“How about this?” She slipped another lens in and everything was illuminated.

I now had an intimate understanding of what clarity looked like. I understood that I had been living in a blur! The floor was tilted! Why did I feel dizzy? Plus, I could choose whatever frames I wanted! How cool was that!

I think I chose Mickey Mouse frames, cause you know, Mickey Mouse is the epitome of everything awesome when you’re 8. Or Snoopy. I was really into Snoopy.

My mom was asking if I felt okay and I said yes. My mom wears glasses too, you see. And my mom, even in her pajamas, manages to look fabulous.  

At first, I was happy. I stared at our pine walls, fascinated by whorls. I saw leaves in detail. I was blind and now I could see! I could read without sticking the book in my face. 

Then I went to school.

It was all pretty much downhill from there. Glasses are a sign of weakness. They were a sign that I, at age 8, would have been sabertooth food in the wild. I wouldn’t have been able to see the sabertooth, much less run from it. All the other kids knew this — and it didn’t help that in my memory, I was the only kid with glasses in the class.

Other kids automatically began to taunt me, to pull the glasses off my face, to pretend wear them.

“I’m blinnnnd.” One would say while he flailed his arms and pretended to run into walls.  Whenever they pulled the glasses off my face, I would follow, because the lanyard attached them to my neck

One charming individual placed his fingers in front of his mouth to imitate buckteeth. I don’t know where he pulled the image of a nerd from, but it was succinct and changed my social standing forever. From then on, my world shifted. It felt like the world was divided into glasses wearing people and non-glasses wearing people.

Glasses, in their small way, made me see the world clearly. It made me realize how easily your appearance can change things. I also realize that a lot of “hipster culture” is mostly about rediscovering retro or finding off-the-beaten path interests. Pabst beer, whatever, I really don’t care what you do with your clothes, your music and your life.

But I really draw the line at those glasses. I really do. Because if they’re fake, they are just fake. Hipsters (in my opinion) want the good stuff, the good memories without all the bad crap that comes with wearing glasses. They want their lovers to take off the glasses before the first kiss. They want their glasses to mist up when they cry. They want to give an impression of deep thoughts and late nights up reading thick books.

They want someone to say, “Oh, wow, you look…really different.” Because Clark Kent was right to use glasses as his only mask! People look different without them!

From
Image retrieved from http://www.superdickery.com

But they have never been teased because their glasses could be used as a magnifying glass. They have never been called four-eyes, bug-face or any variations of this term. They have never been late for appointments because they misplaced their glasses and were disabled and couldn’t see!  Couldn’t see. Essentially disabled, until they realized it was under the pillow and thank the particular deity you worship.

These coke-bottle wearing fakes have never been hit in the face with a volleyball so hard the frame cracked in two. They have never gathered shattered glass lenses in their hands, shaking and  crying in terror because mom’s going to throw a fit, the frames were so expensive.

They have never been called nerd, when it hurt to be called a nerd. They have ever walked around with the soft part of nose of the glasses missing, the tiny metal prong digging into the bridge. Never had to endure  taped  frames because they broke and well, the new pair wasn’t ready yet. This means they do not deserve the other, nicer things about wearing glasses. Like when someone who loves you takes them off because you feel asleep with them on.

Go subvert some other culture or pretend you like that really terrible indie band. Please. Just stop fake-wearing glasses. Just. Stop.