Frenemies Betty and Veronica for MEGA magazine!

While browsing Facebook earlier, I was elated to see this photo:

Betty and Veronica for MEGA magazine's 21st Anniversary Issue
(Photo from Mega magazine’s Facebook page)

Growing up reading Archie Comics, I always find the dynamics between the two to be interesting and exasperating at the same time. What’s with Archie, anyway, and why were they fighting tooth and nail to catch his attention and affection? Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge are definitely the epitome of the cartoon version of what frenemy is. Frenemy, a portmanteau of the words ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’, which readily gives us an insight on what sort of relationship that exists between people who consider each other frenemies. But in the entertainment industry as a whole, how many men frenemies can you identify? Maybe not a lot, or if ever, none at all. This frenemy phenomenon must be exclusively existing between the ladies, and popular culture from generations before until now have its own version.

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis
(Photo from Gawker.com)

Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf
(Photo from MSN.com)

Another notable thing: the brunette-blonde dichotomy. Joan Crawford and Better Davis, Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen, and of course, Betty and Veronica. There seems to be a fascination on the difference between the dark-haired and light-haired girl.

Anyway, back to the magazine cover, Archie comics’ Dan Parent has illustrated the girls wearing local designers’ collections, presumably from the Holiday 2012 collection (because we obviously don’t have Fall/Winter here). Betty’s wearing Veejay Floresca, while Veronica’s donning a Cary Santiago piece. Reading the text next to Veronica, it mentions the girls being the new faces of MAC. O_O How will that exactly work and the simpleton me was left wondering how on Earth do you make use of cartoon characters as the “face” of a cosmetic brand. But reading from this article on Dailymail, it is actually more of the personality of the girls. Now, it brings us back to the supposed dichotomy of personalities between blondes and brunettes because product names such as ‘Girl Next Door’, ‘Summer Sweetheart’ and ‘Kiss and Don’t Tell’ (for Betty) or ‘Boyfriend Stealer’, ‘Past Curfew’ and ‘Double Trouble’ (for Veronica) actually reinforce such split. Not to mention, “Archie’s Girls” — they were not even “Betty and Veronica”, but are still attached to Archie’s identity.

In the House of Chanel - Homer, Linda, Marge and Kaiser Karl for Harper's Bazaar 2007
(Photo from Trendland.com)

As for concept of the shoot, it is definitely not the first time that cartoon characters are used for a fashion magazine editorial. Sure we had Disney characters posing as designers for the April 2010 issue of Elle España, or even an appearance of Shrek characters in VMan May 2010 (which was controversial because of the ‘sexy’ nature of the shoot), the most famous and notable one is still the “Simpsons go to Paris” editorial from Harper’s Bazaar’s August 2007 issue (for more pictures, view it here on harpersbazaar.com). I think it is a very wise decision for the MEGA magazine team to have this clever cover featuring Betty and Veronica. I’m not too sure if there will be a spread inside but I might be actually buying my first ever MEGA magazine just to own this unexpected cover. Unlike the Shrek and Disney ones, Betty and Veronica would hopefully be wearing the clothes, similar to the Simpsons one. If I see that inside, I’ll be extremely happy. =D

Ballet, Hansel and Gretel

I met with Raisa and Claude in Gateway Mall because we were to review and discuss topics for their upcoming examinations. Raisa also gave Mon and I two tickets for the collaboration performance between Ballet Manila and South Korea’s Yewon Dance Company because she won’t be able to watch it. It was slated at 5PM and I had adequate time to catch up with these girls and even if we should be reviewing, I had a great time laughing with our crazy stories. I also met up with a seller of secondhand college entrance exam booklets from Sulit.com.ph, and I bought the lot of five books for Php 600. I had no idea how much they cost brand new in National Bookstore, but as they were as good as brand new and already with plastic cover, I think the price was justified.

Ballet and movie tickets

At around 3:30 PM, I had to leave and take the train until MRT Taft because Mon’s Korean class usually ends at around 3PM. I expectedly arrived past 4PM and we still had to eat some snack. It was also not easy hailing a cab and we were still waiting for one even if it was already 5PM. The show has already started. We did not know how the seating arrangement was, but when I mentioned “Korean Embassy” to the marshal, we were led to this row:

The seats in this row were not all occupied

Ballet Manila and Yewon Dance Company

Ballet Manila was already performing “The Prince of the Birds” and we were catching our breath from running. It took me a few minutes to take everything and realized how amazing Ballet Manila was. The last time I’ve been inside Aliw Theater was when Kim Chiu was crowned the Big Winner in the first ever PBB Teen Edition. LOL We were sneaked in by a teammate because he was part of the production team. We just finished watching another ballet performance of dancers from France (it was organized by the French Embassy and my visiting professor that time gave me some tickets, maybe because I gave him one before for our annual dance concert). So, more than half a decade after, I found myself sitting in Aliw Theater for free again.

Low quality picture of us during the intermission

 

Pas de quatre of Yewon Dance Company

After a 10-minute intermission, the Yewon Dance Company began performing and it was really nice to see the audience being appreciative of our foreign guests’ performance. It was a series, mixing both classical ballet and Korean traditional dance. I especially adored their wonderful tutus. =D Too bad that I did not have my camera with me because I left it in the office! Luckily, an officemate was working on a Saturday and I asked her to keep my camera until Monday. How on Earth did I manage to forget it? Anyway, even if I had my camera with me, it was actually forbidden to take pictures/videos of the performers and there were a lot of marshals with their flashlights, reprimanding people for not complying with the house rules. It was really distracting.

The show ended before 7PM and we headed straight back to the MRT because we had a 9PM movie to catch in Gateway Mall — Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. I love how poker-faced Gemma Arterton was, but I clearly had enough of Jeremy Renner. It was unexpectedly funny and gory and I no longer cared if it was extremely panned by critics in Rotten Tomatoes. Imagine, naming the troll Edward. LOL The movie was clearly not taking itself seriously and I loved it for that!

Just for Les Misérables

While most of the world have already seen Les Misérables in the silver screen, it was just the first day for us here in the Philippines to have the chance of finally watching it. I’ve been anticipating the movie since last year and when I saw that the schedule was already up in the Sureseats website, I immediately reserved two seats by the aisle — almost all of the seats were gone.

I had to travel all the way from Marikina to Makati, with a pair of boots that blistered my feet badly (I forgot the rubber insole I usually use to protect my heels) and was running after the time before our reservation expires. Mon got there on time (12:45PM) and our seats has been already technically cancelled, but he eventually charmed his way onto the cashier’s heart and we got our seats all right. =D I, on the other hand, arrived five minutes before the movie started. I just had enough time to attach several plasters on my heels, adjust my socks and shoelaces, and get the most-needed toilet break to empty the reservoir, as we would be sitting on a two-hour and a half movie. The last time I woke up early for a first-day screening was for ‘Black Swan’.

First day showing of Les Misérables in Greenbelt 3

I assume that most people who were in the cinema with me had at least some knowledge of what the movie was about, given that it was adapted from a chef d’oeuvre of Victor Hugo, turned into a musical several times and even a movie starring Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes. My inauguration with Les Misérables was with that movie and I remember watching with a bunch of high school classmates because we were to submit a review of the movie to our English class. The most interesting scene I recall from that movie was Fantine (Uma Thurman) being humiliated in the streets when she turned to prostitution, with snow (or was it a handful of francs?) shoved into her mouth. It was heart-wrenching. I have also seen some of the musical productions and clips online (thank you YouTube), which made anticipation for the movie more overwhelming.

Anyway, the point of comparison that has been exhaustedly discussed by critics and theater geeks alike (and no, I’m not one, not even the slightest) was the voice quality of the cast and the decision to record the voices live, contrary to a lip-synched playback. I personally liked the rawness of the emotion it brought to the film but given that the cast as whole were not at the same level of vocal prowess, some has suffered in the process. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean was amazing. He literally carried the whole film and met my expectation with the knowledge that he has musical theater background. However, I felt that his “Bring Him Home” performance was already stretching his abilities because his voice seemed strained (and it was beyond cool to cast the extremely talented Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop because he was the best Jean Valjean ever!). As for Anne Hathaway, whose little screen time as Fantine was very well spent, her close-up and long, continuous shot “I Dreamed a Dream” performance conveyed every emotion of despair. Although reading things online, a lot of comparison and argument has been made over what should be the real emotion in this song. On one camp, some argued that it must be of a rollercoaster ride of emotion, with hints of hopefulness and optimism (see Lea Salonga on the 25th Anniversary show). While on the other, the gut-wrenching rendition of Anne with utmost despondency in every note was preferred. I’ve got no problem with it and it was the first instance I almost cried. But I was able to stop myself. =P Rusell Crowe was, well, let me put it this way — he was singing like one of those guys who can really carry a tune in a videoke. The acting was on point but the singing part was really underwhelming. Too bad.

Isabelle Allen as the young Cosette in Les Misérables

(Photo from hollywood.com)

Samantha Barks as Eponine was one of the highly sought after roles, especially with the song ‘On my Own’ being covered and re-recorded over and over again. I personally did not like her rendition of the song but her dying theme “A Little Fall of Rain” almost made me cry (second instance, but it still did not). Amanda Seyfried, playing the older Cosette, was okay in the sense that I came in not expecting much from her but she actually delivered. I also don’t understand the Cosette hate because I loved her! Although admittedly, her voice sounded a bit like that old Snow White film singing “Someday my prince will come” with the birds and butterflies in the forest — it was unusually shrill and high. And the kids, Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche and Isabelle Allen as the young Cosette, made me smile the most. The stubbornness and independence of Gavroche, as well as the innocence and delicateness of Cosette were perfectly captured by the two actors. I especially loved that part when Cosette was humming the haunting “Castle on a Cloud” in the woods and immediately ran when Jean Valjean arrived. She was like a small kitten disrupted from playing in her own little world and ran for cover. I wanted to hug her and say everything will be all right.

Les Misérables weaves the political and religious, which of course isn’t that different from present-day societies in varying degrees of complexity (I need not go that far: see our situation here in the Philippines). But what is evident here is Victor Hugo’s optimism in ending social injustice, which can be at times excessive, but his unwavering faith in humanity clearly manifested with the reformation of Jean Valjean eventually taking over the custody of Cosette after Fantine’s death. But what made him do so? Perhaps it was a chance for him to exhibit being a reformed man, or even seeing his dead sister and her kids in Fantine and Cosette, who he wasn’t able to save before getting imprisoned. Victor Hugo with this optimism can be considered a liberal, believing in the inviolability of human life and a staunch critic of death penalty (see ‘In Defense of His Son’). A similar theme was exhibited in Les Misérables when Jean Valjean under the pretense of executing Javert let the latter go and gave him his freedom, which of course shook Javert’s sensibilities and precarious moral/civil balance, which eventually led to his suicide.  I’m admittedly not the most religious person but I still find the line “to love another person is to see the face of God” to be the most compelling. It was at this point in the movie were I began to cry, seeing Cosette finally breaking down at the knees of her dead foster father, while the ghost of the now-at-peace Fantine leading Valjean’s soul on.

Overall, I think it was a very good film in itself. The length might be a bit too much for some and kids and it even did it for some adults who fell asleep. But what I love most was how it reintroduces the story to a new generation of potential lovers of Les Misérables, which can get their interest to other works by Victor Hugo or other great authors (or even the whole romantic movement as well, or even instigate other to learn French and read the novel in its native language!). It also serves as a form of rekindling to those who are already familiar with the story but would like to be reintroduced to the whole world of Les Misérables anew.

BIG BANG ALIVE TOUR 2012 (MANILA) POST!!!

Sol Restaurant -  Side Dishes

So yesterday, I had a fantastic day with Mon, Lot (his sister) and Faye. We initially intended to go to Music Bank in Diosdado Macapagal Avenue at around 2:00 PM, but remembered that it will not open until 3:00 PM. We then ate first in Sol Restaurant, few meters away from Music Bank, as we will definitely have a hard time eating a proper meal during the concert. There were few people in the restaurant and all of them were Koreans having, presumably, their late lunch.

Sol Restaurant -  Peanuts

Sol Restaurant -  Bibimbap

Sol Restaurant -  Japchae

Sol Restaurant -  Seafood Noodles

So at around 3:30 PM, we finally went inside Music Bank and started singing our hearts out. We had a little hard time looking for some of the KPop songs we would like to sing, but we got there in the end. We spent around two hours, while we were slowly frozen to death by the airconditioning. By the time we got out, I have already developed a runny nose; though I didn’t know if that was because of the room’s temperature or Faye’s virus finally contaminating me (she was not feeling well since Monday). LOL

MUSIC BANK in Diosdado Macapagal Avenue

Oppa Gangnam Style! - Music Bank, Diosdado Macapagal Avenue

Their 'Kahit ano' on the menu - Music Bank, Diosdado Macapagal AvenueWe didn’t actually know if it was a good idea to go to a noraebang before going to a concert, because we would most likely be losing our voice. But we still have a couple of hours to compose ourselves before the mayhem in The Arena. When we got in the Mall of Asia, we saw this crowd at the back of the venue:

A slew of Filipino Big Bang fans - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 Manila

We were to enter in the Coral (Blue) Entrance and there were already a lot of people queuing for the mandatory bag inspection. We did not immediately fall in line because I wanted to make sure that I can sneak my point-and-shoot camera inside. I just observed how the inspection was done and I saw a couple of DSLRs and even point-and-shoots were confiscated by the guards on duty. So I just shoved it deep inside the side pocket of my bag, covered in unused tissue and with my iPod on the top so the guards would immediately see I had nothing to hide. Well it worked but we did not take pictures until we were finally seated in our respective seats.

While waiting for the Upper Box doors to open - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012

The stage - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 in Manila

We were seated in Section 401, which was directly in front of the stage. One of our tickets was in Section 404, but as the person who was to sit next to us did not arrive (or the people, because seat numbers four to seven were vacant), there was no need to push through with our original plan of snatching that one seat.

Faye's light stick --- a present from us when we went to Seoul last year - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 Manila

(We haven’t seen any light stick similar to Faye’s <3 We bought this from the souvenir shop in Doota Mall last year)

And then the concert started! After the curtains fell, the boys were revealed to be inside these illuminated tubes, as if teleported from somewhere.

Big Bang after emerging from those tubes - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 in Manila

Look who's having fun!

Seungri and Tae Yang directly in front of the stage - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 in Manila

Big Bang on stage - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 in Manila

I did my best with what my camera can do and I noticed that it was far easier and better to take videos, as my hands were not that stable to take photos in low lighting. I managed to take several videos, but bothered only in resizing three of them. I also have uploaded the first one in my previous post. And also, I was not screaming like a banshee in these videos (unlike the 2NE1 videos I took, where I was screaming Bom’s name like it will lead me to salvation). (*Note: Change the quality to “480p” ([in the gear icon above] to view the best quality)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fZyedMYS-8&feature=plcp]

Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 Manila – Fantastic Baby

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdbh1rK45_A&feature=plcp]

Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 Manila – Haru Haru

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJJp3YdpNns&feature=plcp]

Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 Manila – Lies

If I have to be perfectly honest with the whole experience, I sat during most of the middle of the concert because: a) I did not know the songs they were singing, and b) I was really too low-energy (a.k.a. old) to match the energy of the people around me. However, the line-up of the songs was perfectly-made that I cannot NOT stand up and sing along with the songs I knew and loved (e.g. the songs I recorded above). LOL My mental discography was very archaic and I was stuck in Big Bang circa 2008-2009.

T.O.P. with the very girly mouse ears and Daesung walking out of the frame LOL - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 in Manila

Tae Yang, T.O.P. and Daesung about to leave the stage - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 in Manila

The crowd in denial that the show was finally over - Big Bang Alive Tour 2012 in Manila

At Php 3,900, we got our money’s worth. =D Compared to the three-thousand plus we shelled out in that joke/milk-the-opportunity strategy called “The Party” last year, Big Bang’s first concert here in Manila was very good, production-wise. Although it was apparent that most of the boys gave a very vocally lackluster performance (Tae Yang’s voice was cracking, and as how Sharon Needles put it, he was Christina-ing it out a lot; and GD seemed to have quite a lower energy). Daesung was the most consistent among the boys and I have new respect for him because of that. There were also a lot of Roselle-Nava-sing-with-me moments, which I didn’t like. =/

Another theory given by our friend China (who had to brave the fiasco at the topmost seats, along with two other people), was that GD sensed the overwhelming bias of the crowd towards T.O.P. and he was already resigned over that fact. LOL I didn’t even know how factual that theory was but I think that he still gave a decent job, albeit the low energy. Also, we were wondering why he did not perform his latest single, Crayon (whose video shown before the concert even started has sent the crowd to a shrieking frenzy). But I was extremely envious of his Givenchy Rotweiler shirt. Ugh. LOL

Freshened up! - Louis Vuitton Montsouris GM Backpack and Gucci messenger bag

With Faye after the concert --- while looking at the interestingly-dressed members of the crowd =D

Guess who has an exam the morning after? HAHAHA

Naturally, we were hungry after the event but as almost all the establishments were closed by 10:30 PM (the show ran few minutes over two hours), we did not even bother eating a snack. We actually had the choice of going to McDonald’s but it was jam-packed, so we decided to just part ways. The rain also did not help. I forgot to bring an umbrella and I just had a gray cardigan inside. As I was more worried of the vachetta parts onn my backpack, more than myself getting wet, I just buttoned it around my bag, liek a new-born baby. I didn’t want any watermarks to ruin the leather. LOL

We’ve heard that SNSD (or some other group from SM Entertainment) will be going to Manila next year. Lot is one BIG SNSD FAN and she will most likely watch their concert, if ever they would organize one. But as the light sticks are probably insanely marked up here, we will be just buying some in Seoul this December when we go back. I might even buy a few more just to sell when that happy day comes. LOL