JUNO The Film that Made Ellen Page? #NanoPoblano2019

***NOTE: I am back trying to complete my ten posts for November. It’s always funny in a not-so-ha-ha way that everytime I try to do writing challenges, something comes up to distract my mojo. I was doing well posting my first Nano Poblano posts daily. Then personal problems distracted me. I also suddenly have a new client (well, she was a client before) who has been giving me various writing assignments. So yeah, my brain is usually cooked by evening. I just want to binge on Netflix. Well, I do actually binge on it.

Anyway, this is a fine time to re-share a film review I did in the past. I’ve been wanting to for quite some time but I never found the right timing. Maybe this is it. I originally wanted to post for #MondayReviews but, well…

Here it is. I did some editing to make it more readable, though, and updated. By the way, ALL images and video belong to the producers, okay? And, oh, for more reviews, visit the CRITIC’S CORNER, please.

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JUNO THE FILM THAT MADE ELLEN PAGE?

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Ellen Page in the title role of JUNO

It all began with a chair. No, really, it did, and it’s what the lead said: “It all began with a chair.” Honestly, I felt that the intro was rather weak until I realized why the writer began with that. The chair would somehow set the stage for what was soon to be the center of the story.

I am, admittedly, partial to movies with the word “indie” attached to them. I first heard about the 2007 Fox Searchlight film JUNO through cable-channel surfing. When I heard people gush about the so-called indie film, I said to myself, “Heck, yeah, I gotta see this flick!” Belatedly, after more than two years, I finally chanced upon a copy at a video store and whaddya know? I got me my JUNO.

Meet Juno

First, the story.

The movie tells of a girl named Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), who is equipped with sharp wit and an even sharper mouth. A die-hard rocker kinda girl with a love for slasher movies, she lived by her own rules (practically her own, anyway) sans the usual teen angsts and oh-I-hate-the-world attitude. 

Juno is mature for her own age. However, at sixteen, she is still prone to the wayward ways of the juvenile world. She makes the mistake of sleeping with her dorky male bestfriend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) one supposedly boring day. “Supposedly”, since she tells quirky cheerleader Leah (Olivia Thirlby), her female bestfriend, that she planned it. But the plan has resulted into something she did not expect. And she pays for it in a span of nine months. 

juno-movie-poster

Suddenly, Juno is faced with going through the inevitable phase. And then there’s the adoption to think of. She wants to make sure that her baby’s future adoptive parents (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) are the perfect ‘desperately seeking spawn’ couple she thinks they are. As one character puts it, “That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch,” pertaining to Juno’s positive pregnancy test. “This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.” She needs to make it right for her kid.

Juno worries that her child might grow up in a dysfunctional family such as hers. It is emotional baggage that the seemingly-uncaring Juno has carried around for years and is now being brought to the surface.

Interesting? Well, loads of people can’t be wrong. I know what endeared this movie to critics and public audience alike; it’s what endeared it to me.

Why Love JUNO?

It’s an adorable piece of unconventional, not-too-dramatic, creative storytelling. It tackles a very real issue with a humorous take. It is not to make light of the situation. Rather, it teaches about loving, forgiving and learning to let go.

The film deserves the praises, nominations, and awards it received. First-time screenwriter Diablo Cody spun a very good tale about a girl forced to deal with matters that even some adults fear facing. (Don’t ask why her name is Diablo; it’s an alias and is another story.)

The movie is a coming-of-age comedy except Juno had to mature faster than necessary, and she knew this. As she said in a scene, she was “just out dealing with things waaay beyond my maturity level.” Frankly, she dealt with the situation much more maturely than at least one of the adults.

Kudos to Cody for a wonderful script. She relayed the story in a manner that while she did not promote premarital sex and teenage pregnancy, she emphasized the value of family support during these dark times. She took a stand as well against abortion. Subtle, but a qualified stand.

What made this movie stand out more were the wickedly delicious dialogues mostly delivered by the wickedly brilliant Ellen Page. Language was often young and hip to emphasize the kind of girl Juno was. The adults had their own witty lines and comebacks as well, right at every turn. But it’s a good thing that Ellen played the lead role because she would have stolen the scenes from any other lead anyway. They were all good, but Ellen was just…well, again, wickedly brilliant!

JUNO made an instant Ellen Page fan out of me. [Ed. She’s the main reason I’m watching THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY.] So I  researched on her and found her interesting film biography. She has done roles others can only dream of. Ellen tends to play dark roles, but she has said she is open for other kinds of roles (e.g. Kitty Pryde a.k.a. Shadowkat in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, Ariadne in INCEPTION).

For JUNO, Ellen received nominations and awards. She now carries with her name the “Academy Awards Nominee” tag. She has said that one advantage is she can now choose roles. Maybe it’s a joke, but I don’t think she even had that problem before at all, anyway. Real directors know talent when they see one.

JUNO gets FIVE STARS from me for being unconventional, smart, and even delicious to the eyes (I love the bright colors!!!). And, oh, spankin’ cute soundtrack as well, honest to blog!

Meanwhile, I am now looking for copies of her movies HARD CANDY, MOUTH TO MOUTH, SUPER, THE CURED, THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS, and AN AMERICAN CRIME [Ed. I posted a review of this. Just click]. Maybe I’ll try Netflix.

The Sandbox Show #WhatsupWednesday #NanoPoblano2019

Last October was my first YouTube anniversary. Actually, technically, it wasn’t. I’ve had the account for years. But last year, I decided it was time to do what I really wanted with it: I started vlogging.

One of my dreams was to create my own videos someday. But when I was younger, we didn’t have a camera. We probably could not afford one. Even if we could, it would be against my conscience to ask one from my parents who worked hard to raise us. If we had cellphones, they would not have had clear cameras anyway, if they came with cameras at all. Good thing that I had my chance in college where we created various video productions. And then, my first job was perfect — I wrote and produced institutional videos for a tertiary school.

But those were school- and job-related works. I wanted to create stuff for myself. I had always wanted to own a channel once I learned about people broadcasting on their own cable channels. I wanted to be the one to produce and decide what to do on my own show. But I didn’t have my own equipment and the family did not have cable…

Fast-forward to now and voila! Hello, YouTube!  It helps, too, that new technologies have made it easier for us. Now anyone can own a channel. Even a quirky wannabe like me.

Starting Out

My not-so-high-tech equipment does the trick. Of course, there’s still a lot to be desired. My detachable webcam takes vivid shots except if you move a lot, it creates a sort of visual echo. It can be quite tricky considering that I am a very animated person. I use Windows Photo Editor, which is helpful but is not as nice as other editors. In some of my posted videos, it is obvious whenever I jump from one part to another. They were the first ones I recorded.

I used the “Trim” feature to edit at the start. Luckily, I noticed sometime these last months that they have added a “Split” feature. Tried that and it proved to be sooo much better. It makes the work easier and the results less ‘jumpy’. Most times, the transitions are not even obvious. I could get a better (free) editor, but I am not sure if my laptop’s memory can handle it. Will get to that one day.

The jumps in my vids are more obvious when real-time, actual background music is recorded along with my talking. That is because in the first videos I made, I knowingly recorded while playing songs in the background. That was me being stupid, not realizing the consequences of my actions.

I sometimes get copyright claims when I post them (so I do add credits in the Description section). No strikes, though, especially since I am not earning anything from vlogging. YouTube influencer, I have no illusions of becoming. I have explained in one of my posts (“6 Reasons A Vlogger is Not Popular“). Unless the universe tells me otherwise. Until then…Anyway, I decided to ditch the real-time background music once I realized my problem. If you do encounter a newly posted vid that still noticeably jumps because of the music, that means the raw copy just recently got edited.

Honestly, in a span of one year, I have only posted eight videos on my channel. Life happens, in a good way or a bad way. Serious editing eats time. But since I am in no hurry to get famous, I figured I’d do things on my own time. If you’ve been watching vloggers long enough, you’ll know a lot of them get burnout trying to keep up with the demands of vlogging. So, no. I have enough pressures already at work and in my personal life, I’m not about to add more.

Yes, there are only eight posted videos. Still, there’s enough where they came from. I have lots of recorded copies to last me till next year, plus there’ll be new ones I have yet to make.  My upcoming New Year’s Resolution, however, does include being a more active YouTuber. Also, I’m putting (1) “Don’t buckle”, (2) “Pronounce words correctly”, (3) “Avoid grammatical errors”, and (3) “Don’t be conscious of the camera” on the list.

The Sandbox Show

The Sandbox Show is produced by The Sandbox Prodxns, a “self-owned one-woman company” that I created myself years ago (when I didn’t exactly know what to do with it). My account name has “akasands” in it, which actually means A.K.A Sands. Why it is there and what that means, I will reserve for another time. Unless you want to watch my long, boring, and awkward intro video. It’s explained there somewhere. At least, I added bloopers after, ha!

What can I say? I’m getting better at it. And I do like to play around with the editing to get my best results. I’m a visual person. I try to make my videos as entertaining as I can. Maybe I have only eight posts yet you can betcha I worked hard on every one of them. Practice makes almost-perfect.

Anyway, I have shared some videos in the past on this blog. Below are the two most recent ones I posted on YT, if you can call them recent:

Yakult vs Delight vs Go Long Probiotic Drinks It’s one of those reviews that I call “comparative mukbang”.

Next,…

The Arya Stark Gender Debate It’s the first and, so far, only Game of Thrones-related video I’ve posted. There are more to come. Here, I discuss an issue that people felt compelled to debate on even in this day and age. Disclaimer: I did say “It does not matter” whether Arya Stark was or was not.

This is my channel, by the way: THE SANDBOX SHOW.

CATS Out of the Box #MondayReviews #NanoPoblano2019

In December, a new movie version of CATS THE MUSICAL will be shown in theaters worldwide. I am a huge CATS-lover and let me tell you now: So far, I’m not liking most of the changes they’ve done. But, alright, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Who knows? I might like it.

Anyway, below is the semi-review that I did on the original movie years ago. I call it “semi-review” because it’s more of a feature. Well, more of a fan-made writeup. This was posted way back in the old Multiply days. I have decided to share it again (1) since it’s timely, (2) to introduce new viewers to the original musical, and (3) to give them points of comparison once the new movie is released. I did edit things to correct some grammatical errors, shorten the piece a bit, and add some updates.

By the way, links to more reviews can be found in the CRITIC’S CORNER.

FAIR WARNING: I am posting a reaction-slash-comparison video on my vlog one of these days. Bear with me. Humor me.

A CATTY EXPERIENCE

Indeed, I could choose from a variety of movies that I have already seen. Instead, I chose to love a film that is, for sure, not on a lot of people’s favorites-list. It’s a story with a simple plot. Cinematography is good, not outstanding. The visual effects are there only because they are necessary. And then, there are glaring editing misses!

So what’s there to love, really?

CATS THE MUSICAL is simply not the kind of film most Filipinos would appreciate. Well, most people in general. But I am a musical-enthusiast, videophile, dance-lover and poetry-maker. That combination explains why I find CATS very entertaining, beautiful, and original. It is poetry in words, music, and motion, all rolled into one cool package. Great score, great singing, great dancing! In the words of T. S. Eliot, it is “ineffable…effable…eff-an-in-EF-fable!”

The History of CATS

In the past, stage musicals like OKLAHOMA and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF were made into successful films. Many were culled from classic literature such as OLIVER!, from Charles Dickens‘ book Oliver Twist. THE WIZARD OF OZ, meanwhile, was based from the 1939 film, which was an adaptation of L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As for WEST SIDE STORY, it was inspired by William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet.

Came the early ’80s and there was the musical genius Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber (ALW). He of the JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA fame had a novel idea: Why not make a musical about cats based on the book his mom used to read to him — T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats?

So CATS was conceived and developed. It was made by famous theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh and ALW’s The Really Useful Theatre Company. CATS was officially ‘born’ in London’s West End, at New London Theatre, on May 11, 1981. Then the show made its Broadway debut on September 7, 1982 at the Winter Garden Theatre.

The sung-through musical proved to be a hit and won many awards and accolades. For quite a time, it was the longest-running musical as it was performed on West End stage for two glorious decades! There were 8,489 shows in 21 years. On Broadway, it ran for 18 years with 7,485 shows.

A true Taurean, CATS was as stubborn as a bull, refusing to budge from its position as the “World’s Best-loved Musical”. Well, that was until LES MISERABLES took its place in 2006. Sadly, CATS bid farewell to Broadway and West End in 2000 and 2002 respectively. (Ed. Fortunately, it’s currently back in the game, enjoying the limelight, entertaining more theatre fans, and translated into multiple languages.  “As of 2019, Cats remains the fourth-longest-running Broadway show and the sixth-longest-running West End show.” Oh, and it had a worldwide gross of US$3.5 billion by 2012.)

In 1998, ALW pushed the barriers further by producing the film version of CATS. It was, in fact, the first of its kind, an actual stage performance captured on film. In essence, they picked up where they left off, only with a different medium. Directed for film by David Mallet, the musical was shot in London’s Adelphi Theater by running through the whole production twice and then adding other essential shots. They did it in a span of 18 days. Meanwhile, costumes and make-up were toned down for film.

Original performers like Elaine Paige and Ken Page took on the roles they originated on West End (her) and on Broadway (him). The show also brought in veteran actor Sir John Mills for a special role. ALW then chose actors he thought could best portray the 28 other important characters. The cast were chosen from productions that were then currently showing the musical. Judging from the performances captured by the lenses, it seems that ALW’s team chose wisely and well.

The Story of CATS

The story unfolds as the Jellicle Cats meet at a junkyard for the annual Jellicle Ball. In attendance are the adult cats and the kittens that are on the verge of adulthood, probably attending their first ball.

Led by the protective silver-and-grey tom, Munkustrap (Michael Gruber), they sing, dance, do acrobatics, and bask at the Jellicle moon. That is, while they await the arrival of their leader, Old Deuteronomy (Page). Every year, just before dawn, Deuteronomy makes what is known as the “Jellicle Choice”. He chooses the cat who gets the chance to be reborn, allowed to go up the Heaviside Layer (their kitty heaven), and “come back to a different Jellicle life”. Anyone interested could ask to be given this privilege.

During this time, the audience is given the chance to get accustomed to the characters. Some are easy to remember. That’s due mainly to particular costume designs that stage productions almost always follow . (Thanks, John Napier.)

For those familiar with the show, some characters are instantly recognizable. For instance, Victoria The White Cat (Phyllida Crowley Smith), the tuxedo cat Quaxo (Jacob Brent), the Siamese feline Cassandra (Rebecca Parker), or the twins Coricopat and Tantomile (Tommi Sliiden and Kaye Brown respectively). Some performers first show up as swing or supporting casts, wearing costumes specifically designed not to stand out. They later emerge as important characters. It is hard, though, to miss such a man (or cat) the size of Mister Page.

As the waiting continues, the presence of some adored cats are acknowledged. Jennyanydots The Gumbie Cat (Susie McKenna), with her tiger stripes and leopard spots, is a tabby perceived as lazy by her owners during the day. But she gets busy at night teaching or disciplining mice, roaches and beetles. The supposedly smart Bustopher Jones (James Barron) is a well-respected cat in his “coat of fastidious black” and “white spats”. He is revered when all he actually really does is eat.

The Rum Tum Tugger (John Partridge) also makes sure that his presence is known. He is “vain”, “perverse” and “inconsequent”. And yet, he is the object of almost every she-feline’s affection. The kittens and the sensual Bombalurina (Rosemarie Ford) idolize him like a sexy rockstar. Complete with a lion’s mane, a kiss-me curl, and gyrations, he is the show’s trademark Elvis. The Elvis theme is one that ALW plays with from time to time. Case in point: the Pharaoh in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. Together with Munkustrap, Tugger serves as another main storyteller.

Grizabella The Glamour Cat (Paige) – ironically un-glamorized now – then enters the scene. Excited to be back after years of absence, Grizabella is saddened when the others avoid and ostracize her. Needless to say, she is forced to stay away and watch from afar. Meanwhile, the notorious Bonnie-and-Clyde tandem of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (Drew Varley and Jo Gibb respectively) are caught doing their usual naughty antics and misdeed. The comical troublemakers end up staying all throughout the party.

The Jellicle leader soon appears, to the delight of his followers. For further entertainment, the cats do a parody of warring dogs, with the “intervention” of The Rumpus Cat (Frank Thompson). Dancing resumes after. At some point of the elaborate dance number, the mating process happens. It’s a sort of PG-13 moment when the kitten Victoria “becomes” an adult cat. She mates with Plato (Bryn Walters) while the others also do their – uh – thing.

When it is over, Grizabella returns and tries to join the ball once again. She is still regarded as an outcast. Feeling alone, she sings the now-popular song “Memory”, sadly reminiscing her lovely past. She does not know that Deuteronomy is still there and leaves disappointed.

Soon after, the cats return and Deuteronomy tries to explain to them the meaning of real happiness, to no avail. So to get the message across, he conveys it in simpler words through the kitten Jemima (Veerle Casteleyn). She somewhat sings entranced. Jemima’s maturity at her age is evidenced by her understanding of Grizabella. She is always the first to try and touch the outcast only to be pulled away by the older cats.

Gus The Theatre Cat (Sir John Mills), senile as he is, also attends the gathering and talks of the good ol’ days. He makes you shed a tear or two at the end of his song. He leaves behind him a sad atmosphere. which Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat (Geoffrey Garrat) enlivens again through his storytelling and pantomime acts.

Chaos erupts as the criminal Macavity The Mystery Cat a.k.a. The Hidden Paw (also Walters) emerges and catnaps Old Deuteronomy. As they worry about their leader, Macavity returns in a different form. But the sensitive and rather dramatic Demeter (Aeva May) sees through his disguise and exposes him. A fight inevitably happens and sometime later, the Jellicle leader is somehow rescued. With the help of the magical Mr. Mistoffelees (also Brent) and the kittens — the wise and sweet Jemima and the kind, queenly Victoria — Deuteronomy is finally able to make the Jellicle Choice.

Thoughts on CATS

For anyone wanting entertainment-value, CATS will not be a disappointment. But to the uninitiated, the whole story may not be easy to follow. I had to watch it several times myself before I fully understood everything.

It also helped that I had the libretto downloaded from the Internet back then. That made it easier to understand and better appreciate the actors’ various accents. Varley’s and Gibb’s were particularly harder to follow for me, to be honest. Understanding the words made their lively performance more fun to watch.

Most of the characters that were introduced/announced were old. It was natural for Deuteronomy to choose among the elders. They had been there, done that, enjoyed things they would want to relive like Gus, regretted things they would like to change like Grizabella.

Grizabella did not use her youth wisely. Once it was gone, she was left with nothing but her memories. She felt the sting of loneliness, lamenting the meaning of real happiness. The brief but memorable duet of the old and the young in “Memory (Reprise)” emphasized this. One represented hope and innocence; one represented loss and grave regrets. Meanwhile, we saw a stunning performance from both actors. It is arguably one of the best scenes from the film.

Between Griz and Gus, however, the latter gets my vote. Sir John Mills was a very convincing Gus that I actually shed some tears almost every time I watched him. A brief performance worthy of an award!

The stage production itself is to be applauded, in my opinion. Few musicals can do what CATS do. They may have one or two of the elements, but the show offers more.

There’s great poetry (with additional texts from Sir Trevor Nunn), though already antiquated from the start. Understandable. The book the show is based on is old. What’s amazing is they somehow pull it off. If you’re not into poetry, you’ll tend to forget it anyway as you enjoy watching the cats and their various antics. You won’t really notice that it’s poetry.

There’s wonderful music. A lot of times, it is operatic, which, I admit, may not suit some theater-goers. They might find the show boring because of the music. I think most avid supporters of musicals will not mind, though. Many musicals tend to be operatic.

The dance numbers are totally awesome! I am so impressed by the dancers who train really hard to move like real cats, even think like real cats. They make dancing seem easy when it isn’t. It takes dedication to achieve the craft. CATS’ dance routines also differ in genres (e.g. ballet, lyrical, even acrobatic). That makes the whole show quite interesting. Credit goes to Dame Gillian Lynne. I think productions still follow her choreography up to now. I saw a live performance some years ago and it was like watching the movie.

The set is not breathtakingly impressive compared to other shows’ and yet, very appropriate. Just imagine that you are an actual Jellicle Cat — the set will make sense. The way going to the Heaviside Layer is a bit of a turn-off for me. Other than that, well, I really don’t mind anything else.
I love other musicals as well. What sets CATS apart for me, though, is the fact that it is a complete package. I consider watching the movie as an actual adventure.
Truth be told, it isn’t really the story that has made the most impact on me. I am viewing this from the perspective of a musical-lover, not a film enthusiast. CATS is a stage musical, first and foremost. Despite its flaws, the movie deserves to be praised for the sheer originality alone. That’s what thinking-out-of-the-box is about.
And I am so glad CATS is out! 😉
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Hey, guys, I found this nice page on the musical, check it out: Cats (musical)

6 Reasons a Vlogger is Not Popular #ThursdayTips

So you’ve decided to join the club and vlog. But it’s been months–years even!–and you’re nowhere near the famous vloggers that inspired you. You’ve been posting daily and religiously ’cause that should make people remember you, right? Yet you’re not popular. What gives?

Let’s just take me, for example. Why is it that I might never be a popular vlogger? Well, I’ve watched enough YouTube vlogs to have observed certain truths. If these are your truths, well, sticks and stones, and no offense meant.

Why I’m not Popular

1.  I am not gorgeous.

2.  I’m not famous or going around with the “in” crowd.

3.  I don’t have the right or more proper equipment.

4.  I don’t have enough resources (physical and/or financial).

5.  I am not the gimmicky type of person.

6.  I’m too shy when I need to be bold.

I only emphasized my observations. It doesn’t mean that if one is this or not that, he/she should stay that way. It depends on what he/she wants to be or accomplish, what that person decides to do and thinks he/she can do.

I have suggested alternatives or simple solutions below.

How to Be a Popular Vlogger

  1. Just be presentable.
  2. Actively engage with your audience. Interact with people. Go out sometimes.
  3. Make an effort to acquire better equipment for your purpose.
  4. Be resourceful. Find ways!
  5. Be creative. Make the effort.
  6. Believe in yourself and be confident.

I have actually shared these whys and hows in my most current vlogpost.  There, I further explained a little bit more my bases and insights, own experiences, and conclusions. Excuse some of the mildly rough edited parts.

Perseverance pays off only when you do things right. It doesn’t matter how many times you post. If you ignore the importance of relevant content to people, then people will ignore you back.

New Year’s Greetings, Earthlings!

HELLO, FELLOW HUMANS!!!

 

And since February’s near…

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!!!

Welcome to 2019! I can’t say much yet about the new year, but I can take it, so far. So how was your 2018?

If I were to sum up my 2018, it was a year of missed opportunities (job offers I turned down), personal losses (my uncle and hubby’s mother passed away), and failed attempts (tried earning new certificates, but something would always come up, I lost interest). It sounds really worse than it was, though. But since overall, it wasn’t enough to really depress me, I think it was just plain okay. As plain as “OK” can be. No great shakes. I was positively shaken several times, but nothing big ever happened.

Writing- or blogging-wise, I had a love-hate relationship with writing/blogging, to be honest. There was a sort of burn out. The fire would start only to dwindle into nothing. But I dare say I did better than in previous years. That’s ’cause my frame of mind was to not force myself because forcing myself would only stress me out until I get disappointed in the end. So I wrote when I could and whenever I was inspired. The funny thing was, even when I didn’t blog, I’d see some spikes in my stats — not that I’m crazy about my stats — and I usually don’t know why. I would look at what brought visitors in, yet there usually was no reason other than they were brought here by their searches. For me, that’s a form of success. After all, the main point of my blogging is to give something that even just a single person can appreciate and leave with.

Two things were new last year:

1. I created my online portfolio, The J. F. E. Portfolio, which you already are aware of, I suppose. It serves a purpose for me. Though I’ve not added anything to it again since October, I’m in no hurry. I have so many to share there if I choose to do so. I won’t run out.

2. I finally decided to go vlogging! Yes, on YouTube, where I am able to show my not-so-serious persona. Time and resources have been delaying my posts. I’m learning to edit the way I want my vids to be edited. I had been used to linear editing, so I’m just learning digital editing using my limited resources. I’ve been using the webcam I acquired last year (I mentioned that). It’s got clear visuals. HOWEVER, trying not to move too much can be a challenge. You’ll see later what I mean. I just recently started using phone camera. It takes great pics, but I think the quality changes once I start recording videos. I might still stick with the webcam for now. For outdoor stuff, though, the phone cam will do.

Again, I’m taking it slow. I want it to be fun for me, an outlet, not a chore. I’m not lacking videos to share at all. I’ve recorded several already, more than enough, that I don’t really need to record anything again for a while. It’s the editing that’s taking longer. I’ve recorded product reviews, informative and how-to vids, ideas, some challenges, and reaction videos (well, just one so far). My best plans that I’ve yet to make are to share the Philippine culture, create Filipino tutorials, and present old stuff that the younger generation don’t know about (like a typewriter, cassettes, and a tape player/recorder).

To be honest, I feel shy sharing myself (my face!), but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time so I claimed it! If something makes you happy, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, claim it! RIGHT???

I’m sharing to you this video, which is my favorite so far, and its “sequel”. Bear with me, please:

Alright, time to cut this for now. Hanggang sa muli! (Till then!)

How to Rank Better with Search Algorithms #ThursdayTips

Why is your business not searchable on search engines? Focus on Search Algorithms!

But what are search algorithms? How do they work? What should you do? Let this short video introduce you to some Google search algorithms. Find out what they do and what you can do with them to rank better and get noticed.

Again, side note: I wrote and created this video for ConnieKnows.com. So they own the video.

Any thoughts? Share them in the comments!

Just no spam, please. No comments pretending not to be spam. Guys, I see through you.

Growing Up Asian in Another Land

I grew up Asian and will die Asian (there’s no “probably” there, duh.) Heck, I’ve never been outside of this part of the planet. So it’s interesting to find out how much Filipinos who grew up or were born in other countries have learned and experienced the Filipino ways.  Not just Filipinos, but ASIANS.

I’m a full-Filipino by blood and nationality, so I am not exactly an authority in this area. But I think DOMICS and JO KOY are. Both are funny and they paint a picture of what it’s really like growing up Asian abroad.

(WARNING, though: There are some strong language involved in some of these videos)

Domics, whose real name is Dominic Panganiban, is a YouTuber-animator whose family immigrated to Canada years ago. In some of his drawings, he illustrated his experiences as an immigrant kid adjusting to other places.

This is a nice podcast he did with his fellow Asian friends (they aren’t necessarily all Pinoys…The girl is Chinese and at least one of the other guys is Korean). They shared what their elders are like, which sometimes confuse them. Dominic made it more entertaining by drawing stuff.

We Pinoys can definitely relate especially with Domics. For one thing, our father used to have my sister and I pull out white hair from his head and we were promised to be paid. And I certainly have a Pinoy nose, although no one pinched it (except myself when I tried to make it more “matangos” or pointy).  I do actually appreciate my little nose now.

Here’s another from Domics that is about the Filipino last names. His in particular.

The Pinoy height…The struggle can be very real.

Now, Joseph Glenn Herbert, much more popularly known as Jo Koy, is a half-American Pinoy who grew up in the States. He is now a popular stand-up comedian known for his stories about growing up with a Filipino mom (truthful but hilarious!) and raising his kid. He grew up abroad, but Pinoys can very much relate to his kind of self-deprecating brand of stories.

He was referring to the famous mostly-Filipino Jabbawockeez.

Now, as a song from musical AVENUE Q says, “Everybody’s a little bit racist”. This reminds me of that.

The “Bicks Baporub” killed me, HA HA HAAA!!! We really do use Vicks!

 

Hope you watched them all and enjoyed. Most importantly, I hope you learned new things about us 😉

In “Your Face”! #TVTuesday #TuesdayTunes

Oh, I missed these hash potatoes! So today, it’s #TVTuesday and #TuesdayTunes post.  Double fun, woohoo!!! Today, I am sharing one of my current favorite shows, Your Face Sounds Familiar (YFSF) Kids Edition.

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The YFSF Kids of Season 1: (From Left) AC Bonifacio (2nd Runner-up), Lyca Gairanod, Justin Alva (3rd Runner-up), Elha Nympha (1st Runner-up), McNeal “Awra” Briguela (WINNER), Alonzo Muhlach, Xia Vigor, and Sam Shoaf

Saying “Your face sounds familiar” sounds really weird and like utter nonsense. The premise of YFSF, however, explains it.  Okay, background with a little bit of disclaimer:

YFSF is a singing and impersonation competition owned by the Endemol Shine Group, known abroad for producing many reality TV shows (Big Brother and others). YFSF was franchised by Philippine TV network giant ABS-CBN and the first regular season started in March 2015. There came another regular season and then, the first-ever season of the Kids edition was aired in January 2017. It gained international attention when then-7-year-old Xia Vigor performed as Taylor Swift and the video of that performance went viral.

The second season of the Kids edition is currently running and the kids’ performances are making much more waves. That’s thanks to the already-big attention the YouTube reactors’ community has been giving Filipino artists.

YFSF has a set of screen and theater artists–singers, dancers, actors–competing against one another onstage every week. Weekly shows are divided into two parts with the first half of the performers shown on Saturday and the remaining ones on Sundays. That gives ample time on the second day (well, eve) to announce the week’s winner and show the participants pressing the “iconator” (just a coined term as abroad, it’s called “randomizer”, even simply a “buzzer”). That’s the button that every contestant presses to reveal his/her next icon.

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Xia Vigor impersonating Taylor Swift. Image courtesy of Elle.com

Competitors are each assigned celebrities that have become music icons or made waves in the industry one way or another. That’s regardless of the age of the icon, race, sex and gender (so expect cross-dressing in some performances).

But this is a step up from the usual impersonation stuff. A major part of this involves the makeup artists and prosthetic. Every week, performers are madeup and often–not always–made to wear prosthetic. The idea is to not only sound and act like the icons but to LOOK like them. This is where my disclaimer enters.

In the past, I saw some foreign YouTubers express concern prior to seeing an actual performance that the performer might be doing “blackface”, which people could find offensive. Then they got to watch and realize it’s not the case (especially when they saw it was a great performance!). It really isn’t meant to be offensive, not at all. It always depends on the look of the icon. It has nothing to do with being racist. So if s/he’s white, then the performer’s Pinoy brown color is turned lighter (sometimes, the prosthetic can be a tad weird and creepy-looking, though). So if we’re playing the race card, might as well call it “whiteface”. Or “yellowface” even, depending on who’s being impersonated.

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The YFSF Kids of Season 2: (Clockwise from Top Left) TNT Boys, Chunsa Jung, Marco Masa, Krystal Brimner, Telesa “Esang” De Torres, Noel Comia Jr., Xymon “Onyok” Pineda, and Sheena Belarmino. Image courtesy of Rappler

Just to be clear, not every performer is a good singer, or even dancer. He or she is judged on how well s/he has projected him/herself as the icon being impersonated.

Anyway, to show how talented our kids can be, I am sharing a few videos from this season’s (season 2) kid performers. They seem long, but that’s because the videos continue until all the jury members have made their comments. There are lots of funny stuff that follow a performance, but feel free to stop playing. (BTW, copyrights to all the images and videos here belong to ABS-CBN, unless otherwise specified. I got some from other sites, but of course, they’re still mostly from ABS.)

I’m starting with my biggest bet, Sheena Belarmino. People know her more as a singer as she was a grand finalist of the popular singing competition Tawag ng Tanghalan (TNT)  that was part of the noon-time variety show It’s Showtime. That ended late last year. Prior to that, however, she was a finalist of Dance Kids from 2015 to 2016. You can say she is a powerhouse of a talent. As of last count, she’s won thrice already, currently the most number of times this season. However, she’s also currently ranked 3rd-4th . That has something to do with how the jury individually assigns scores.

Watch her perform as local artists Sarah Geronimo and KZ Tandingan and judge for yourselves. Sheena showed Sarah’s swag as the latter performed the song onstage (the hair and expressions were based more on the “Tala” video). That was Sheena’s first win. Everyone was definitely impressed. BUT she even topped that recently by showing more swag impersonating KZ’s viral performance of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” on the recently concluded Singer 2018 singing competition (Jesse J. won) in China. Sheena even wore the same outfit. She blew everyone away! I think you will agree. And she also got a wonderful surprise after she sang… 😉

Meanwhile, also check out her performances as Ariana Grande, (so good!), Chris Brown, and local artist Jessa Zaragoza (for which she also won, though I’m not crazy about it…The link I shared is just of Jessa singing at an event — she’s not wearing a gown and not doing much of the movements she’s been known for).

Next, the TNT Boys! They are composed of Kiefer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto and Francis Concepcion–all grand finalists of the TNT Kids singing competition, like Sheena. Among all the contestants, they are undoubtedly the most popular due to their emotional rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” in the GGV show. Actually, for fun, they were asked to sing it while pretending to be fighting (Francis bullies Kiefer, then Mackie defends Keifer who tries to pacify both of them). It was a hoot! And it became viral. Suddenly, the group TNT Boys was born and they have now performed in Little Big Shots US and UK. Since then, a lot of their performances onstage and offline have been going viral, particularly their YFSF numbers. They’ve won twice and are currently ranked 1st.

Below are two of their performances. The first is of The BeeGees. They didn’t win but this was the first video of the season that went and is still going viral around the world. The BeeGees loved their performance and actually tweeted about it. The next is–get this–their impersonation of Destiny’s Child! It was their first win and very well-deserved. These boys are so talented! I loved their performance of The Supremes as well, it’s my personal favorite–classy with less flair. Their second win, though, was their Mariah Carey and BoyzIIMen one and,  you guessed it, it’s gone viral as well.

Now we have Krystal Brimner. She was a relatively unknown in the mainstream showbiz world until YFSF. Some people may recognize her from the movie Honor Thy Father where she played a vital part. Theater aficionados may remember her playing the title role of Annie, for which she won Best Child Actress and Best Female Lead Performer from the 2016 Platinum Stallion Media Awards and 2016 Philstage Gawad Bahay Awards. Based on her performances in YFSF, it’s obvious she’s been using her training to good use.

Krsytal is currently ranked 2nd. I am not sure if she’s an audience favorite, but I like her. For me she’s done a LOT  of great impersonations. Below are the two performances that made her win: as Jesse J. first, then as Alicia Keys. I would also recommend her impersonations of Miley Cyrus (on her first week, when she made her mark as a talent to reckon with), Stevie Wonder, and Dionne Warwick.

Last on my list is Esang De Torres. Among the top four, I think she’s the one who first made her mark on national TV. She was such a cutie joining the MiniMe contest of It’s Showtime, where she “impersonated” her idol Lea Salonga. But it was in joining The Voice Kids that made her. Coached by none other than her idol, Lea, she was the team’s grand finals bet. It was apparent that she had a singing talent that was perfect for the stage that, with a lot of encouragement from Lea, Esang joined the theater world. In fact, she was one of those who played the title role of Matilda. Like Krystal, it’s obvious she’s putting her theatrical training at work. She gets better everytime.

She’s won once so far, but her often-high weekly scores have tied her at 3rd to 4th rank with Sheena. I liked a lot of her performances as well. I am first sharing one of my faves, her impersonation of John Legend. The next is her doing a Christina Aguilera, her first actual win Feel free to also check out her Cher, Lea Salonga, Cyndi Lauper, and Bonnie Tyler. As fo this writing, she just did a Freddie Mercury, which was also good, by my standards.

 

And my list is done! Basically, I think the TNT Boys getting into the finals is already in the bag. Sheena, my most fave, doesn’t always get the highest scores, so I’m crossing my fingers. Krystal, if she keeps doing what she does, would most probably be in the finals, too. I am crossing my fingers for Esang as well, but she does consistently get high scores…

I am actually surprised and very glad to know that my top ones are those who are leading the ranks. The girls are my faves, but biases aside, I thought that they should be in the top three.

Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoyed reading my post and watching the vids. I enjoyed putting this together. I could do another set next week, if I have the time 🙂

Let Us All Rise! #WhatsupWednesday

Let today’s post be a celebration of the wonderful poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist Dr Maya Angelou. This is one my most favorite poems of all time (thanks, Google Doodle!). It reminds me of hope, courage, triumph over adversities, equality and the importance of self-acceptance. Maybe it’s timely, too, that I am reminded of it.

(NOTE: You might want to skip to 0:41)

Still I Rise

Happy 90th Birthday, Dr. Maya Angelou!