Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Al-Qaedan Conspiracies - Chapter I

First posted in Jan, 2005. Im reposting this as Chapter 2 is coming out VERY soon ;)

Osama Bin Ladin: Welcome Soloflite. I praise Allah that you came to my summons.

SoloFlite: Tell me again why I'm here.

Osama: I have watched your earlier interview with Saddam Hussein, Soloflite. I believe only someone as twistedly demented as you will be able to fully comprehend the information I am sharing with you.

Solo: What exactly do you have to tell me Osama?

Osama: I have evidence showing that Bush is now heading a group of fanatical overly-zealous christian crusaders who are hell bent on terrorizing the muslim world.

Solo: That's probably his cell group, Osama. Christian cells are like little prayer groups that read the bible together and worship in private. I dont think they'd hurt muslims.

Osama: I also have cell groups, Solo. I know what cells can do. Im actually very proud of them.

Solo: Theres a difference between bible-study and terrorist cells.

Osama: Anyway, I have reason to believe that George Bush and his terrorist network have plans to eradicate the whole muslim populace.

Solo: Nah. You're watching too many movies, Osama. I mean, what kind of person would declare war on half a continent, destroy their economic foundations and basically threaten to blow their civilization to smithereens just because their way of life is different from... OH. WAIT.

Osama: Yes. George bush clearly fits the role.

Solo: Thats not what I meant.

Osama: We of the Al Qaeda have uncovered a plan to destroy half the muslim populace in the world.

Solo: ??? Go on.

Osama: The first stage was to test out a new uber-powerful nuclear device that can wipe out an area in minutes. The first prototype could flatten a whole city without being detected by conventional means. This was apparently done already. With great success.

Solo: Done already?? With great success??! When?

Osama: Yes. Remember the earthquake that devastated Iran's Bam City last year?

Solo: Yes. Around 30,000 iranians died there. But that was a natural disaster.

Osama: Im afraid not, Solo. That was the first prototype.

Solo: ....??!

Osama: Phase two was another test for their upgraded bomb. And it was done at the same time in december last year.

Solo: Another earthquake? But the only earthquake of significance in December after Christmas was...

Osama: In Indonesia. The Muslim country of Indonesia, if I might add. That is the latest version of their doomsday device. An underwater-based explosion that would trigger a Tsunami of powerful force.

Solo: ....

Osama: Apparently, they made a mistake on the location of the epicenter. Instead of flattening the whole Indonesian Archipelago, it only affected the outermost coasts and the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Solo: But still... why would he attack Indonesia instead of the Middle East directly?

Osama: You know how terrorists operate, Solo. This is a warning signal to the Muslim world. Besides, my friends in JI are based there. Plus, the date of both events are signficant.

Solo: December 26?

Osama: Yes. It is my eighth wife's firstborn's cousin's birthday. Bush is telling the world he knows everything about me.

Solo: I still find this a bit incredulous.

Osama: If you think about it, why else would the US give such a paltry sum to help in the rehabilitation of Indonesia?

Solo: ...good question. Because it takes days of careful study before they could release an amount that big?

Osama: No! Of course not! Its because they DONT WANT TO. THESE ARE MUSLIMS, my friend. And thats what its all about.

Solo: So when did you learn of this again?

Osama: Back in 2000. I had to act quickly once I learned of the full scale of his plans. That is why I launched what you would call a pre-emptive strike.

Solo: Pre-emptive strike? You dont mean...

Osama: Yes. September 11.

---to be continued---

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Surfing 101

"Excitement is in the air." -- Chowking Fortune Cookie

Walking around Waikiki beach in Hawaii, I found myself in front of a stand which offered surfing lessons for $30.

While $30 is chicken feed for most Americans, the poor Thirdworldian known as Soloflite was vehemently resistant to paying this amount. Truth to say, I enjoy watersports a lot-- windsurfing, wakeboarding, kayaking... but one thing I havent really tried was surfboarding and I had hoped to learn it while i was in Hawaii.

So torn between stinginess and excitement, i decided to just play it by ear (and Chowking's advise) and asked the girl manning the stand about who would be the best teacher in their group.

"That'd be Gill over there" She pointed to a well-weathered Samoan guy wading on the beach. "He's like a legend here. He started surfing when he was ten and he's like fifty now. He even taught Frank Sinatra how to surf!" she continued with reverence.

Ah yes. Good ol blue eyes. What a reference. Too bad he never was known for surfing... Still, if the surfers see him as their Yoda, he can't be half bad.

So I walked over to Gill, who was coaching some young-uns and asked him a few things.


"Thats uncle Gill. Anything I can help you with?"

"Yeah. Im considering a lesson. Can you give me a good reason to take it?" Yes, I talk like this.

"Man, you are in Ha-Wa-Ii! You come here and you no surf, you miss the whole point." Words of wisdom from ther surfer Yoda.

"And would it be worth my Thirty bucks?"

"Well, if you want to learn, learn from uncle Gill. You're surfing in one hour or I give you your money back. But then, ive been doing this for over thirty years and I still havent given anyone a refund."

"Good enough. When's your next lesson?" I asked.

"I just finished my last class. Anytime you're ready."

Just then I noticed a couple of scantily clad japanese girls lining up at the booth where I just came from. (Yeah, I do notice these things a lot)

I quickly elbowed Uncle Gill. "Oh yeah... Make sure they sign up for the same class."

"No you worry! I was just thinking the same thing." And with that he rushes off to the shack telling the girls the same "You are in Ha-Wa-Ii and thus you must surf with Uncle Gill" stuff he told me.

I liked him already.
Now, for those unfamiliar with how surfing is different from WINDsurfing, here's a quick primer.

Both sports use a board. Windsurfing boards have a Sail and uses wind power to move you around very fast, depending on wind speed. Surfboards dont have sails because it expects you to ride on waves .

It is at this point that i would like to note that waves are usually larger when the water is SHALLOW and there are some stuff (like corals and rocks) forcing the water to break.
This of course means, that in general, because of those waves whacking you into shallow rocks and corals, making mistakes while learning to surf is going to hurt. A lot.

Of course, I only realized this vital piece of information just as we were starting the lesson.

After successfully getting the scantily clad japaneses girls to join us in our class, Uncle Gill gave us all surfboards and demonstrated the proper positions. Once we were all sure of what to do while on the surfboard, he started the lesson in earnest.

Uncle Gill was a good instructor, and within the first couple of tries I had the whole surfing thing figured out.
1. paddle towards a "good spot" (in my case, next to a scantily clad japanese girl)
2. wait for wave. (or flirt with scantily clad japanese girl)
3. paddle.
4. paddle harder.
5. when on the wave, Stand up.
6. surf/Try not to fall off
7. Fall off and hurt yourself on the corals. Rinse the blood off and repeat.

Good surfers dont usually reach #7, but ironically, mediocre ones can reach it without even going thru the other six.

Once I got it, I talked to Uncle Gill again.

"Okay. I was standing up. What's next?"

"You surf."

"I did. You saw how much paddling I did to get back here?"

"Oh yeah, sorry was distracted by scantily clad..."

I cut him off before he was distracted again. "Well? Whats next?"

"That's it. You're a surfer. Uncle Gill Certified." He even pats me on the back.

Pause. "That's It? I paddle 10 minutes to surf for 1 minute?"

"Yep. And if you want, you can try bigger waves. Much further from the beach though"

"More paddling?" Emphasis on More. And Paddling.

"Much more. Why do you think surfers all have big guns?"

"How about all these cuts and bruises from the corals?" I pointed to my knees, my legs and feet which were by now a bloody mess.

"You get used to it."

It was then that, Soloflite the surfer vowed never to surf waves again and to reunite with his board and sail in Anilao...

And so whats the moral of this story?
It's hard to flirt if the chick doesnt understand english.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Exodus: Tales from the Enchanted Kingdom

I decided to open my mind this year and started it off by watching a filipino flick. I was actually choosing between Mulawin and Exodus, but after hearing from a friend that there would be no kissing scene between Iya Villania and Bong Revilla (which would have caused involuntary vomiting within the theater house), i decided to go with Exodus.

I was pleasantly to surprised to find that Exodus, despite a few shortcomings (such as a flabby Bong Revilla almost busting out of his tight costume and a few noticeably cheap CGI tricks every know and then) made sure it was worth the budget they asked for.

Caution: Spoilers up ahead!!! :)

Exodus, for those who have seen it, is definitely not an original concept. It's the standard storyline for ANY decent role playing game (RPG), and fans of Final Fantasy would immediately see Exodus as a Cloud Strife-type character --- The moody mercenary with an unknown past but a helluva fighter in combat who doesnt want to get involved with an impending war, but hey, gets a change of heart, recruits a team of powerful friends, massacres the story's badass characters and, get this... saves the world.

But dwelling on the story defeats the purpose of watching Exodus. Exodus strikes me as a "Hey, if you Hollywood bigshots can do it, so can we!" film for all Filipinos. The CGI, sounds, choreography and special effects were top-notch in the most memorable scenes, though they were obviously lacking in many of the minor parts of the movie. Overall, since it's not that big-budgeted, it spends time (and money) on special effects when you least expect it... and gives the impact when you need it.

It makes you go "Hey! That's a scene from Harry Potter!" or "Look! It's Mordor!!" similar to how The Returner made use of their own scenes versus other hollywood movies. In fact, for those who watched, i put in the titles of a few movies which i believe "inspired" some of these scenes:
1. The Matrix -- lots of scenes, but the climactic battle kinda struck me as the same scene where Trinity and Morpheus were holding onto the EMP button while waiting for Neo to come back from the matrix while all those robots were tearing up the ship apart. May also have inspired Aubrey Miles' glasses (On second thought... maybe not.)
2. Beastmaster -- The "Toros", or the upgraded monsters sent to massacre the remaining human strongholds, remind me of one of Beastmaster's monsters. The one created by inserting these weird creatures into the ears of normal humans.
3. Red Sonja -- I swear Silab is a rip-off of Red Sonja's little sidekick! They even look alike! (Although imagining Aubrey Miles in a Red Sonja costume is VERY nice.... Rrrrr...)
4. Terminator -- Nope, definitely not from comparing Bong Revilla and Arnold' Schwarzenegger's physique. Its more of the mercury effect used by Bagulbol when fighting Exodus. And Bong Revilla's acting.
5. Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon -- some fight scenes, especially when Exodus and Bangkila first fought and the ending fight scene
6. The Last Samurai-- Think Tom cruise's full samurai battle gear. Then picture it after a fight with 2000 killer ninjas and you get the inspiration for Exodus' costume.
7. The Mummy - The starting fight scene. Except the enemies looked like muslim extremists more than half-human jackals.
8. Lord of the Rings -- Some sceneries, but mostly the look and feel of the places. Gollum may have inspired the little critters in the cave as well.
9. Harry Potter -- Yes, harry potter! The cave scene where all these keys were flying. Plus, there was someone who reminded me of Mad-eye moody.
10. Aladdin-- Benjie paras' outfit looks more like The Genie than any Tikbalang i've seen portrayed. Iya looks like a princess jasmine, but Tantra may have inspired that outfit more than anything
11. Star Wars: JayR's costumes remind me of Queen Amidala. You'll know it if you watched it.
12. Lion King -- I was actually waiting for "The Circle of Life" theme song to play in the ending scene... hehe

Character-wise, the Revilla's, as expected, got the top roles. But you cant help wondering how much better it would have been if Cesar Montano or Jericho Rosales played Exodus instead (maybe there would have been no need for flab-covering armor hehe). The roles suited Aubrey, Iya (yum yum) and the Kid quite nicely, but Benjie Paras' character wasn't exactly endearing. The wimpy tikbalang did not get the impact it wanted and struck me as how JarJar Binks was in StarWars... A comic relief. From Hell.

Overall, I highly recommend watching this movie. Not for the story, maybe not for the characters (except Iya... Rrrrr), but for what it stands for. It serves as a good start for the new year by showing us what Filipinos can accomplish given enough time, money and incentive, and as Jack Black said in School of Rock, "Shoves it up The Man's ass!"