Weekly Ketchup 04 - WICKED, Disney Songs for Guys, Jonathan Groff

Wicked week is finally here! And yes, I'm off to catch it TODAY! But no, there won't be any review because I already know it's going to be AWESOME!!!

But follow my trail of thought here: Wicked - Idina Menzel - Frozen - Jonathan Groff.

I bring this up because I realized this week that while altos despair the lack of Disney songs for their range, I lament that there really aren't that many thematic Disney songs for guys.

The last three Disney animated musicals all had female leads, which is great and all, but left no room for songs for guys like me. I was so looking forward to Jonathan Groff's contribution to the Frozen soundtrack but that turned out to be a dud. Oh well.

In all of Disney history, I can only think of only two male anthems: Hunchback's Out There and Hercules's Go The Distance. Not even Aladdin, The Lion King, or Tarzan had good themes in the same vein as Let It Go. Guys like me have had to content ourselves with lowering the pitch of Part Of Your World, Colors of the Wind, Reflection, or all of Belle's songs! Either those or the goofy songs like Under The Sea and Be Our Guest.

I mean, that doesn't change my appreciation for those songs. They're great to listen and sing along to, and if I really want to get my slow, power ballad fix, I can always turn to the live adaptations. Thankfully, the stage versions of the The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King all have additional songs for Eric, Aladdin, and Simba respectively. I can only hope that the Frozen stage musical they're currently developing would also add songs for Kristoff or even Hans.

Outside of Disney adaptations, recent stage productions have been my go-to to get my fix of male-centric songs - like Newsies (also a Disney production), the Book of Mormon (which also starred Frozen's Josh Gad/Olaf), Catch Me If You Can, and the new production of Pippin, as well as some off-Broadway work like Bare and the discography of Scott Alan.

I suppose there's also such a thing as the tug of the market. The Disney princess line is a successful franchise and female empowerment is such a popular theme, and I probably belong to the 1% in this case. I can't help but wonder if this feeling of under-representation is comparable to the plight of the female readership in the comic industry. Probably not. It's probably just me.

(*On a somewhat related note: I've been writing an article local cinema this past week and, not surprisingly, the idea that the "tug of the market" dictates production also popped up.*)

Now back to Jonathan Groff. I got to check out his new show, "Looking", earlier this week. I thought it was gonna be a funny show and I was a bit disappointed. I already gave it my short review so I'm not gonna get into that anymore. Just thought I'd mention it since it ties up with the rest of the blog.


Weekly Ketchup 03 - Making Time and Catching Up

I've been walking home since work resumed for the year.

I find the exercise to be very calming. It allows me to collect my thoughts, gather ideas, and draw some general realizations. Just a couple of results from this week's "spirit walk":


Earlier this week, I got to thinking about people, mainly my friends and why I seem to enjoy the company of some more than others (I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way about the circles of people they hang with). Anyway, what I realize is that I generally enjoy the company of people who are more assertive. How many times have I tried to schedule get-togethers with friends only to run into a blockade of "I can't" responses because of so and so reasons. Most of the time, I didn't even call for the gathering. Someone else did but somehow I got appointed to initiate and organize the damn thing, which I wouldn't normally mind, except that defeated responses are so annoying and discouraging. And just like that, plans fall and friends are never seen again.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the friends I hang out with the most are always available. It just means that these people are assertive enough to offer solutions instead of problems and answers instead of questions. Speaking of questions, perhaps the most reviled one I keep hearing is "Who else is going?" Then there are those who wait until everyone else has confirmed before confirming themselves. There is something wrong when your participation is dependent on other people's attendance. Frankly, I find it insulting. For me, it's a simple matter that someone cared enough to invite me and unless I actually had something else planned, I should be able to go - regardless of whether our common friends would be there as well.

And that is precisely how I got myself jumping from one gathering to the next over the course of 24 hours. The thing is that I liking making myself available to friends, especially those I don't get to see very often - even for just a short appearance. It's a simple effort to maintain relationships that could go a long way.

Maybe "assertiveness" just means that: taking the time and making the effort.

The first episode of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's kinda sorta variety show is on YouTube.


The other thing that got me thinking this week is that I seem to be perpetually playing catch up with the rest of the world, or at least my peers. It started when I shared that I had only recently learned of "A Dog of Flanders" and its anime adaptation, which everyone apparently had lingering memories and strong feelings about. Of course, that was just the latest in a string of references that I was oblivious about. And it's not just about pop culture, sometimes even snippets of general culture, eg language, that is common for everybody is alien to me. But let's stick to the pop cultural aspects for the sake of brevity.

I've long figured out the why's and the how's in this phenomena of my life - so I'm not gonna get into that. What got me scratching my head this week is: If I'm constantly playing catch up, how or when am I gonna get ahead or at least synced with everybody else? Then it hit me: Why should it matter that I catch up with what everybody else had known or enjoyed? I mean, the hours that I didn't spend watching or reading about the worlds and the stories that everybody else enjoyed, I spent discovering other worlds and even crafting my own. The characters and stories I imagined when I was a kid are still with me to this day.

I also realized that in some respects, I was ahead of everybody else. I was into A Song of Ice and Fire and The Avengers way before either had become prime commodities, and now I'm not as interested. I also look at the things I tried to catch up on and I just don't like them as well as their fandoms thought I would. Firefly and Battlestar Galactica both have really ardent fans among my closest friends and I tried watching them but I'm just not as fascinated. I tried Harry Potter and couldn't move past the fourth book. I'm reading Neil Gaiman now and I'm bored to tears (granted it's only been one book so far). For these very reasons, I am always suspect when people tell me "You're gonna love it."

Riley Rewind - It's a short time travel film. All five parts are on YouTube.

I remember this quote from Glee that went something like "the first step to growing up is to quit apologizing for the mistakes of your youth".

So maybe I should stop feeling sorry for missing out and stop catching up for the sake of catching up. Maybe I should just continue to enjoy the things I do even if nobody else does. Obviously, I'm not a populist kind of person anyway.

Although as a creator and not just a consumer, I do need to know what has come before and what has already been done, maybe even uncover what I've been missing. Though I feel like getting into something for academic purposes muddles the experience. I have yet to get into Doctor Who or Hayao Miyazaki's work but to do so because either everyone else are into them or to understand why that is is just the wrong way to go about it. I have to be genuinely interested and I may get there eventually, give it a year or ten. It's worked so far with my GOG.com games, most of which were titles I was interested in a long time ago but didn't have the means or access to at the time. I suppose it's still catching up - but at least I'm catching up with myself, not with everyone else.

DNews is a channel that present entertaining science news daily.

PS: I did mention that I want this blog to be a depository of my ramblings, discoveries, and recommendations, hence the filler YouTube videos, all of which I chanced upon this week and really liked!


Weekly Ketchup 02 - Book Sale, Saving Money, and CES

Just a few hours ago, I decided to check out Fully Booked Gateway's 50% off renovation sale - against all sound reasoning. I say that because:
a) I still have close to 75 eBooks in my digital library (all paid for, by the way)
b) I had just done my financial projections for the year and I really shouldn't be impulsive with my purchases (but more on that later)

To be fair, I wasn't really in the market for a novel. I was hoping to score one of those heavy, big-ass graphic design books that are always so damn expensive. Either that or a nice illustrated reference book for fantasy, mythology, and such. Or a nice non-superhero graphic novel like these ones I found some months ago:
Manga Shakeskpeare
I find that illustrated books are much better in printed form rather than digital, though I do have some graphic novels in my eBook collection as well. Reading illustrated digital books, for me, is a horrendous experience, especially since I have to zoom in and out just to get the whole picture.

I also like randomly perusing the graphics in a book, which is an I impulse I don't get with novel passages. As soon as I'm done with a novel, it's either put on the shelf for display or packed in a box for storage, never to be read again. Seriously: I have never read a novel more than once. The two times I read "A Wrinkle In Time" were school requirements. I didn't even finish book one of "Wheel of Time" when I thought to do a reread of the entire saga in preparation for the last book.

Lastly, I like the idea of pulling up information without having to boot up, go online, and search Wikipedia. So a handy reference book is still best for me. And I was hoping to find one, especially of the Tolkien universe at the Fully Booked - but alas, no avail.

I actually left the store empty-handed. And that's okay.

I shouldn't be here.
Earlier in the week, I did a spreadsheet tracker and projection of my income and expenses. I started doing that sometime in 2006 but I can't remember when or why I stopped. As a result, I've been fairly loose with my expenses these past few years - and I often wonder where my money go.

In fact, if not for the numerous sources of spikes in my income last month, I wouldn't have any savings. AT ALL. Yeah, it's that bad.

A year ago, I really wouldn't have minded. Then, I was still holding on to the returns from my PrudentialIfe plan but now that that has gone kaput, I really gotta think about financial stability. Actually, this matter has been in my mind for sometime now. Not only have I been incredibly impulsive - I have also not made the kind of money to support my interests. Yes, I've come to realize that I have been living WAY beyond my means. I'm not even supporting a family or paying bills.

That has to stop.

Hopefully, having an expense matrix will help me keep track of my expenses - and determine when and how much I can allocate to books, theater, movies, comics, toys, gadgets, and all the geeky stuff that I'm interested in. Thankfully, I already have a bank of books and games to keep me occupied.

I need to stop
And that brings me to the last matter I wanna touch on.

I did my first income-expense matrix on my old Palm E2. I can only surmise that I stopped tracking when that device conked out. Fast forward to today and I have three Android devices - a keypad phone, a touchscreen phone (that I use like an iPod touch), and a tablet. I've had them for months yet it only occurred to me this week to make them as useful as my old Palm. My new matrix is stored on all three devices, so I can immediately update it on the fly. Ironic given that they were my biggest impulsive purchases last year.

The thing is that I wouldn't have been on this whole Android binge had my very capable feature phone not been stolen. I hesitated to get on the Android/smartphone/mobile OS wagon because I knew I would be obsessed the same way I was with Palm. True enough, in less than two years, I've already gone through five devices and, more recently, a couple of accessories that turn out to be duds.

I only mention this because it's also CES week. A year ago, I would've been excited with all the new technology. Now I just kept thinking "How much of this do we really need?" Though at the same time, I know I'm going to want some of them (those smartwatches are looking particularly good).

Somewhere along the line, I know I'm going to be tempted. I need to remind myself that, at this point, spending on new gadgets is more of a vanity than an actual need.

I realize that these might be personal matters but I'm putting this here as a reminder and to hold myself accountable.


Weekly Ketchup 01

No, this is not a New Year's resolution to blog more, write more, or even share more (I think my rampant social media activities do a good enough job of that).

This is actually an idea that would have seen realization sometime last year had I not thought it would be better, clerical-wise, to begin with week one of the year.

And so here we are.

The concept is simple: I want this blog to be a weekly curation of my experiences, recommendations, interests, discoveries, etc. Because I do believe that: a) Minute-by-minute updates about one's life can be quite annoying; and b) some things deserve more than 140 characters and a minute of attention.

That's not to say my ramblings here are gonna be less vapid though.

So what have I been up to this past week?

Well, Alec, Hec, Jovan, and I went to Tatcee's annual year-end get-together with Plurk friends last Monday. We inflicted Cards Against Humanity against a bunch of new people. I also learned how being creative with clues on Taboo can be especially daunting with people with whom I have no shared memories with.

New Year's Eve was also a big thing. For some reason, I wasn't psyched about stepping to see the street ablaze with fire crackers, though I don't think I was the only one. The noise and smoke barrage lasted for only about 15 or so minutes. Either the neighbors were cutting back or celebrating elsewhere.

I did get to see some friends  haven't seen in forever later in the day though. Jovan and I visited Rocky and Tobie (after a year) and we played some games. I got to try Takenoko and Love Letter before we headed off to to Jovan and Paul's place to see (Zuri who's in town for a couple of weeks). We tried Fortune and Glory - AND I WON! Definitely a good start to the year.

From Jovan's FB.

Speaking of games, I finished the "light side" campaign of Age of Wonders about a week ago and I really wanted to check out another one from my GOG.com vault before the break ended , so I started on the first Warlords Battlecry. It took me a while to get my bearings but I managed to master enough of the game to complete the first two campaigns.

One thing about this side of me, though, is that I'm really playing not for the gameplay but for the high fantasy, which is obviously a thematic interest of mine. My taste in books more than clearly reflects this, but right now I'm reading something that's just a little out of my comfort zone: Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

Admittedly, I'm only interested because popular opinion seems to be that Gaiman can do no wrong and I wanted to see what I've been missing. Urban fantasy has never really been my thing and this book hasn't swayed me yet. I'm only nine chapters in and, unless there's some element of fantasy or mythology in a scene, I seriously get bored.

I also read the first few issues of Jonathan Hickman's "New Avengers" and Rick Remender's "Uncanny Avengers" thanks to Comixology's holiday sale, as well as Hickman's initial story arc on "Avengers" care of Marvel's digital collection promo. I thought that the best way to really enjoy them is quit to pining for the Avengers of old. I just have to deal with the fact that they're never coming back.

Speaking of old things that are never coming back, Chevy Chase is really gone from Community (well, somewhat). I just caught the first two episodes of the new season, and yeah, I'm still on board.

So anyway, that about wraps up the first of what I hoped would be a consistent weekly thing. I just came home from playing EVEN MORE games with Jovan, Alec, and Marks Poa and Escay. We tried a Pacific Rim game, a 3D Monopoly game, and a Back to the Future game. Gee, I'm sensing a pattern here.