Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kingsman

"Oxfords not Brogues"

I saw the trailer of this film on YouTube and thought that it's just one of those spy flicks whose protagonist have access to a plethora of gadgets operating under clandestine circumstances to save the world against a megalomaniac, out for world domination in some twisted manner.

Well, at least that's how "James Bond", "Mission Impossible' and to a certain extent, "The Bourne Identity" were basically known for. The fight scenes of Kingsman were however different, because of the occasional 3rd person view of the character as if you're playing a video game on PS3.

Guns, plus gadgets plus martial arts equals sick and slick action scenes where you'd miss on a lot of headshots even for just a few blinks.

Donning black suits and "oxfords" with hidden gadgets up their sleeves and with the swag that goes with their looks, agents of Kingsman "operate at the highest level of discretion", as "Galahad" aka Harry Hart (Colin Firth) puts it. 

Their code names are based on King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table and has a good ring to its modern, cloak-and-dagger, action-packed film with a dash of comedy in it. 

Eggsy (Taron Egerton) lost his father (a Kingsman agent) during a raid somewhere in the Middle-East. Galahad was interrogating their target bound on a chair with ropes, when suddenly the extremist pulled a pin from a hand grenade using his mouth and Eggsy's father pushed Galahad out of the way and used himself as a human shield. The grenade killed both him and their target, but saved all the other agents in that room.

The story-line therefore revolves around Eggsy's pathetic excuse for a life ever since his father died, leading up to the day when he crossed paths with Galahad and taught him the ropes of being a gentlemanly Kingsman - which was kind of funny, because Eggsy's street smart persona was quite incompatible with the highly intellectual, formal and stiff atmosphere of the surreptitious spy agency, but he proved himself to be more of an asset because of his unorthodox methods of overcoming the most challenging of obstacles during the screening period.

Long story short, he replaced his father's shoes as he passed one test after the other during the recruitment process (except for the last one). Eggsy was forced to return to the agency to avenge Galahad's death and save the world from Valentine's (Samuel L Jackson) demented plot of eradicating every human being in the world (except for some handpicked political figures and dignitaries) by turning them against each other thru a signal generated by his specially-programmed sim card distributed globally for free.

 Galahad (right) revealing to Eggsy (left) that the lighter
he is holding is a grenade.
Spy flicks come and go and each one of them have their own signature lines, action scenes, gadgets or unique plots that make them memorable, but Kingsman is definitely worth watching repeatedly (I did so - twice!) not only because of the humor and action scenes, but because the protagonist started out as an inexperienced, and street-smart kid, but with tons of potential whose rough edges only needed trimming and was able to make something of himself when it was time for him to step up to the plate, not to mention some life lessons on the side:

  "Being a gentleman transcends classes; you don't have to be posh to behave like a gent. Haven't you heard the phrase, 'Manners maketh the man?"

"It's all about your potential; make sure you see it in yourself."

It makes it easy for a lot of people to relate to the main character, because of the ordinary, but tumultuous circumstances that surrounded him - growing up without a father and replaced by an abusive step-father and his mom was reduced to being a battered wife. The protagonist was left to fend for himself and usually spends life outdoors hanging out with his friends in a pub.

On a lesser note, it's also a "brilliant" way to learn different British accents -"Oxfords not brogues!"












Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jupiter Ascending




This is one of those films with catchy titles and it makes you want to watch it and understand the reason for such a title. Upon watching it, it reminded me about Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, but with a more "Matrix-like" plot wherein humans here are used as a valuable interplanetary glutathione-like resource distributed in many different planets of the galaxy.

These fountain-of-youth factories are managed by 3 most powerful individuals in the universe and the Earth as we know it, is not what we thought it was and how it came to be as it is now. The main character, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) discovers this reality the hard way when aliens tracked her down through her DNA and almost killed her. If it were not for a lone genetically-engineered ex-military/hunter, Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), she wouldn't have survived even just for day. If you're being hunted down by interplanetary creatures with superior intelligence and firepower, I mean - who would survive that, right?

Just like any human being, she was in denial about the whole "you are not alone in the universe" concept and thought that it was all just a dream gone awry. Who would have thought that one moment, you're earning a living by cleaning someone else's toilet and the next thing, you're a powerful and reincarnated queen of the universe who owns the Earth and a host of other planets?

Apart from the cool special effects and costumes, the plot was not too predictable and would make you want to watch it until the very end. It explores and reflects the most basic of instincts wherein anyone in power want more power and would do anything to protect it at all costs, even if it means going against your very own parent.




I liked the part when  Kalique Abrasax (Tuppence Middleton) told Jupiter that if you have access to the vastness of the universe, the single most important commodity wouldn't be minerals or planets, but time. It's for this reason why they "harvest" people from different planets and use them to reverse aging.

I am not certain if this film outdid the Matrix Trilogy, but all I can say is that the Wachowski brothers have one hell of an imagination to even conceptualize this film, whilst successfully integrating human values, life lessons and what is truly important in life. I mean you don't get drowned too much by special effects and the story line and you take away something from it.

I suppose ascendancy has its perks, but being able to realize your true calling, living your life purposefully and simply aligned to your calling, perhaps there is more ascendancy to this more than any material possessions in the universe.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

"April Fool's"

I never really took April Fool's seriously, obviously. Nevertheless, I was the butt of my own joke when I had to go to the bank to deposit money and I was such in a rush so that I wouldn't be late for my 1:30 pm log-in time.

I waited anxiously as I looked at the queue ticket I got from the entrance: # 998 as I compared the number on the counter: #955. There were moments where the queue breezed along, while there were also sluggish ones.



I looked at the time on my cellphone, it was 1:10. I got up and talked to the staff and immediately walked out of the bank. 

I hurried home and was sweating bullets thinking the whole time that I was late. I arrived at around 1:38 pm.

I immediately switched on my router and my PC and logged in Skype. Sent the message: "on board" and apologized for being late for the 30-minute-log-in time.

I clicked on the teacher's page and saw that my first class starts at 14:30. Seriously???!!! Geez! I was actually a lot earlier than I thought. My log-in time should have been 2:00 pm. Had a small chat with the Admin in charge at that time and she said: "I thought you were just joking around, because you logged-in earlier than the usual." 

I said: "Yes, ma'am! I thought I was late - I suppose because it's April Fool's Day! The joke's on me!

Well, I suppose a lot of us have experienced something like this once in our lives. This is definitely one for MY history book!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Losing Sight of the Shore and Discovering New Oceans




Risk-taking is not all about impetuousness, because there is still a certain degree of assessment before taking the leap, so to speak. I have personally witnessed some people who are natural risk-takers, failed numerous times, got up and tried again.

They seem to have a knack for constantly pushing themselves to the limit and learning from failures - a sign of possessing mental fortitude and iron will. I have observed however, that risk-taking can also be quite catastrophic and some of these people find it difficult to recover from such a disastrous situation.

On the other side of the coin, there are those who would rather stay on the shore and would rather protect themselves from any unpredictable conditions that stormy seas could bring. Some of them do experience progress at a very slow rate, but with minimal risks. There is some truth in the proverb: "Look before you leap" and I suppose some circumstances warrants such passive measures.

It is not fair to judge any of these people who fall on either side of the coin, as both experiences have benefits and consequences. It's a matter of the proper combination of right timing,  favorable circumstances and to a certain extent, luck.

Whether you are a person who is willing to lose sight of the shore and discover new oceans or you're simply a shore-dweller and less of an adventurer, it is up to you to make things work out and the consequences of your decisions rest on your shoulders alone.

It would probably be a good idea to have a balance of both, since we can find ourselves in situations that are worth taking risks for and there are others where the stakes are too high and losses will be great. It's best to stay away from the latter.

I, for one, am taking a huge risk and whether or not I will end up being a complete idiot - time will tell. All I know that this risk is worth pursuing and I just "feel" my way through indirect cues that I receive if in case direct ones are unavailable and seem vague. (hopefully it's accurate because implied cues can always go both ways)

What about you? What have you decided on lately or decisions that you are about to make? Risk or no risk - it's all good - it's all about perception and what works for you.

Practical Home Tip 2: Pipe Leaks

I'm sure a lot of you have encountered a lot of headaches trying to find the source of leaks from the pipes under your sink. I can empathize and have had my own share of inconveniences. The usual solution for pipe leaks are teflons and sealants:

Teflon Tape


Sealant
I have practically used tons of teflons and sealants to repair the pipes, but it can be very taxing to find the source of the leaks, especially because the pipes are "u-shaped". Even if you have a handy flashlight, it's virtually impossible to find where the leak is coming from.

Teflons are only effective when sealing straight portions of the pipe, but what about the "u-bends"? The plastic or metal connectors that connect the straight pipes? Not everything could be covered thoroughly. Good luck with that!



Sealants are easier to apply and definitely can reach those tighter areas that teflon tapes can't. But using applicators will be quite daunting, because it would be quite difficult to reach those tight spaces while holding the applicator tightly and your whole hand and wrist will just get in the way.

 So one of my quick fixes that worked like magic was: I wrapped my index finger with masking or duct tape until I've covered almost half of it, then I dipped that finger in a can of sealant and apply it generously to those tight spaces. VOILA!- you can reach those tight spaces easily.

Hope I have helped some of you in some way! Happy plumbing! (if it's even considered enjoyable :D)