By the Blues: Levine-Slash’s Gotten

[I think the title’s sort of loose. But whatever, it’s not much to bite.]

I’ve first heard Gotten off a radio station while doing my weekly house-cleaning. Hoho, that’s very crude. Anyway, ’nuff about my not-so-cool dailies.

So when I’ve first heard Gotten, I’ve immediately thought of Maroon 5. It is the kind of music/song I usually attribute to them, particularly (of course) to Adam Levine‘s vocals.

Well I’ve been right, almost. Because Gotten is a collaborative work of Adam Levine himself and Slash, known (and then) guitarist of Guns N’ Roses.

The first, and ’til now lasting, thought I’ve had of the song? Sad. Real sad. Here, listen to and watch it:

I’m pretty much under the impression that the song’s about losing someone to someone else and then seeing each other again. But what makes it–the song–real “sad” for me are some parts of the lyrics, like:

I can’t save you if
You don’t let me

And,

So nice to see you face again
But tell me will this ever end?
Don’t disappear

These for me are simple indications of how much people can be “not enough” for those they are ready to fight for if their life depends on so.

Also, in as much as letting go may be easy for some of us, there is always that pang, however teensy, of regret in there. Especially when we see that person we’ve let go of and we’re quite sure he or she is already happy with someone else.

Okay, you may consider me relating to it more than I let on.

So somehow, you just have to accept that unpleasant fact. And continue moving on.

Now, that’s kind of a bit too much on my “that’s a sad song” thought, huh? That’s not even to mention the way Levine sings it, like the song’s really meant for some person he’s lost. And of course, Slash’s guitar brilliance.

I also think this is one of those songs you’d sort of enjoy even if you cannot relate much to the emotionality of its lyrics. Maybe because it sounds so classic. Or maybe because it’s something you can fall asleep with. Or just plain cruise around its softness.

All in all, Gotten’s blue-y rendition is a nice playlist addition. Not that I make playlists, but this song would certainly be up for listening–even if it’s just for the heck of doing so.

Although, of course, relating wouldn’t be so cruel. Nothing but a relevant song to help you through, right?

Are We Ready for India?

The country we have always considered as on the low–economy and education wise–is now on the roll.

For the past decade, India has been carrying a hefty, almost 1.2 billion population under its belt, a literacy rate of 60% recorded in 2007, and 42% of its people living below poverty line in 2005.

But despite all this, the country has started a climb on its economic ladder since it gains popularity in the business outsourcing industry. Consequently, the IT industry has also bloomed and the Indian government has had a sense of epiphany over it.

Just recently, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science in Bengalooru developed what they envision to be the world’s cheapest ‘laptop’.

India’s Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, launched and displayed the prototype last Friday, July 23, along with the statement:

“The solutions for tomorrow will emerge from India. We have reached a stage that today, the motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything.” (Gadgetell)

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and the 'world's cheapest laptop'

Sibal also declared that following the creation of the device were talks with organizations that may agree to cover mass production. He then said that the laptop would be distributed to 110 school children and would be made available to students of higher education later in 2011.

Hewlett-Packard Indian Research Division’s Sudhir Dixit said that this latest foray of India to the IT industry was ” . . . a very strong move with good potential” (guardian.co.uk).

For only $35, the tablet-style, iPad-like laptop would come with 2GB internal memory, Internet browsing and video-conferencing features, and a PDF reader. It would run on a Linux operating software and may be battery- or solar-powered.

The World's Cheapest 'Laptop'

How could something so promising come equally affordable? Sibal reasoned that “We have reached a (developmental) stage that today, the motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything.” (FOXNews)

The device is India’s  addition to its many strategies to increase the country’s digital market being that half of its total population–that is, 60 million people–are registered Internet-users.

But most importantly the laptop is a crucial stage in the Indian government’s hard work for the fulfillment of its vision: a nationwide satisfactory quality education for the year 2010.

Surely, in today’s no-fret, all-practicality age, the Indian-original device is something to anticipate. I have actually started thinking about my own Philippines. How long would our own administration take for a milestone like this one? But definitely, with the Filipino patience and perseverance, I don’t think we have to wait for more years. Someday, Filipinos. I just know it.

We were ready for China then. Are we ready for India now?

Must be. 🙂

Credits: Gadgetell, IStremNews, guardian.co.uk, and FOXNews

Commensurate Likings and Loathings: Witches and Wizards’ Impacts

My recent re-visit of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, on Harry Potter’s fifth year, has led me to thinking about characters I liked and I’m not so fond of.

And since the time for a series-based post is still on the far end of the long road, let’s do this first. 🙂 (I think I have to come up with yet to be posts like for HP and Alice, yes?)

CHARACTERS I ADORE (and why I do)

Luna Lovegood

Luna Lovegood

JK Rowling describes the character of Luna as something “anti-Hermione”. She’s the total opposite of Hermione’s knack for logical and systematic thinking.

Luna, as she’s introduced in the fifth book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), is an eccentric young witch: from her looks to her beliefs to her entire personality. The daughter of an equally odd wizard, Xenophilius Lovegood who runs the just as weird The Quibbler magazine, Luna is known to believe in the unproven existence of many unique creatures.

Luna wearing a lion headdress in support to the Gryffindor Quidditch team

Luna in her Spectrespecs

Despite being taken non-seriously by almost everyone around her, Luna doesn’t mind at all. She continues believing in the greatness of people and the possibility of overthrowing difficulties. Such is why she’s considered very tough by Harry and his friends.

The main reason that I like Luna’s character is that she’s extremely honest. She has the ability to exactly point out to people even the most uncomfortable things. She even knows about how people consider her as crazy, as she’s told Harry once. I think this ability of hers is what makes her an interesting person. At least, there’s a pair of eyes out there that sees what’s essential.

Remus Lupin

Remus Lupin

Lupin is Harry’s 3rd Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. He is not able to last long, aside from the subject itself being jinxed, because the school is told of his being a werewolf. In those days, the werewolf is a feared and shunted creature of the wizarding world.

Remus is also one of James Potter’s friends. He’s attended Hogwarts along with them, and in the course, has led James, Sirius, and Peter into becoming Animagi (wizards that can transform themselves into animals).

In the sixth book, Remus is portrayed as the “love” of Nymphadora Tonks, an Auror (wizard authority). They get married in the seventh book albeit the disgust of Tonks’ family. They have had a son, Teddy, but are not able to be with him as they’ve died in the battle of Hogwarts.

Remus Lupin (with Ron and Harry)

I like Lupin’s character because of his open-mindedness. He knows his situation and he accepts it, however hard it is. I think that’s what makes him braver than anybody else during all the battles–because he’s got more to fight for than just himself. He fights for a society that will accept all creatures of their world, normal or otherwise.

Ginny Weasley

Ginny Weasley

Ginny is Ron’s youngest sibling. She’s also the only girl in a brood of seven. Her character is set for more vogue when she enters her first year at Hogwarts and is possessed by the Riddle (Voldemort) diary. She is known to have been saved by Harry and Ron from the Chamber of Secrets.

Ginny has nursed an enormous liking for Harry ever since they’ve met. But soon enough, well after three years at most, she becomes more comfortable around him. That’s when her character starts to ascend to popularity, with boys she dates and jinxes she casts.

Ginny is a fairly steady and brave person. Harry has attributed this to her growing up with all six brothers. But as sources have it, Ginny being the first female born to the Weasley clan in a very long time has given her an excellent set of traits and ability.

Ginny in Book 6

Ginny is one character I like because of extensive bravery. She’s tough as she can get, trying out and mastering the rough game of Quidditch. She is also someone who does not give in to the usual girl’s weaknesses–tears, too much love. She accepts and is courageous enough to understand Harry’s quest for Horcruxes.

Draco Malfoy

Draco Malfoy

Best remembered for his “wait ’til my father hears about this” lines, Draco belongs to probably one of the richest clans of the wizarding elite. He is the only son of Narcissa and Lucius, a defined Death Eater.

Draco has never been on good terms with Harry, since the day Harry declined his friendship offering (which is not totally pleasant). He lives by his parents belief of pure-blood superiority and thus has made his way throughout the school with swagger and infinite pride.

My liking for Draco’s character has started only upon reading him in the sixth book/movie.

Draco in the sixth book/movie

I feel that’s the time when I’ve seen the “child” inside his proud demeanor. That’s also the time that he’s most exposed to fear, the kind that is probably greater than any other Slytherin-slash-Death-Eater-affiliate his age. His whole life and family is at stake, after all. And although Harry has disliked Draco’s affinity to Dark Magic and has blamed it for the most part, I still think that the occurrence is as essential. Someday, Draco would have to learn to look at the negative side of his family’s inclusion in Voldemort’s circle. And his story in the sixth book has just done it.

Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix is Draco’s aunt by his mother Narcissa. She is one of the very loyal Death Eaters who has never ceased believing Voldemort would be back again. She’s spent most of the story’s duration in Azkaban, the wizard prison. Her widely known offenses include (1) the torture by means of the Cruciatus Curse on Neville Longbottom’s parents, Alice and Frank; (2) the death of Dobby the house-elf; and (3) the death of Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather. She is also one of those who’ve destructed Hogwarts after the death of Dumbledore and during the final battle. She’s killed by Molly Weasley after a nasty duel.

Bellatrix with Snape and Narcissa performing the Unbreakable Vow

Very few would adore Bellatrix, for the main reason that she’s a villain. But I do love her, and that’s not even just because of Helena Bonham-Carter (although I admit the actress is a real plus). For me, Bellatrix’s character is one good symbol of the evil that has wrought the wizarding world during Voldemort’s rise to power. It’s the kind of evil that is blinding enough to sacrifice everything. And it is the kind of evil worth purging against. I feel that without Bellatrix’s character, the seriousness of the violence that Voldemort can surge out can be almost unbelieved. Yes, he’s as powerful as he can be, but we must admit his minions have done way far worse in inflicting fear over people. (Let’s put it this way, imagine if Wormtail is the one giving out lines of Bellatrix, would you believe him? Would you even be scared of him?)

Bellatrix, too, is a fierce representative of loyalty. Although she is loyal to a devastatingly bad person, she still does not waver. Not to mention that her loyalty stems out of belief and not of fear that others have.

Severus Snape

Severus Snape

The self-branding Half-Blood Prince, Snape is probably one of the most complex characters of the whole series. He is Harry’s Potions and least liked professor. Later, in Harry’s sixth year, Snape gains the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts after years and years of wishing for it.

Snape is also well-known for his long-nursed loathing for everything James Potter. That includes, but is not limited to, James’ son, James’ friends, James’ family and upbringing, and James’ abilities. The last straw, however, is that of Lily, Harry’s mother and Snape’s since-childhood love, marrying James instead.

The history of Snape pre-Hogwarts is marred by Voldemort and Death Eater activities. He’s always been fascinated with the Dark Arts even as a student. This may actually trace back to his parents and young life being dominated by violence and rage.

But Snape turns around and becomes a double-faced man when Voldemort has threatened and killed Lily. Snape has become a spy against the Dark Lord ever since. His most popular act has been the killing of Dumbledore, an agreement-bound pseudo-murder that has led Harry to hating Snape to the point of revenge.

However, in the last moments of Snape’s life, he gives his most precious set of memories to Harry: everything from his young friendship with Lily until the shocking truth of the seventh Horcrux.

Snape taunted by Bellatrix

Snape is a character that extends beyond his blank look and non-expressive voice. I like him more than because of his supposed great love for Lily. His bravery is what catches me every time. There is too much insecurity in his character than what is seen, and that alone I feel should have hindered his courage. Only, it doesn’t. If anything, his will to avenge Lily’s death is more powerful than his loathing and envy of James.

CHARACTERS I’M NOT SO FOND OF (and why not)

Dolores Umbridge

Dolores Jane Umbridge

Umbridge is Harry’s 5th and most horrible Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She also works as Undersecretary for Fudge, the then Minister for Magic. She is described as an ugly, pink-and-cat lover, toad-looking, power-hungry witch. She is also the person who’s worked her way to be named High Inquisitor, all in supposed pursuance of a better education quality at Hogwarts. Her regime is what led to the formation of Dumbledore’s Army, a group of students who long to practice DADA spells, and of the Inquisitorial Squad, those who feel her ways are better than Dumbledore’s.

Umbridge is dubbed as half-breed hater. She’s been known to lobby and put up laws against centaurs, merpeople, and werewolves. She’s reportedly scared of them. Furthermore, Umbridge is infamous for her detention techniques: lines where one uses a quill that slices the back of his/her hand with the same words he/she writes.

Umbridge in her office

What I hate about Umbridge is not her love for power, but her narrow-mindedness that is totally opposite of Dumbledore. Her over-controlling manner also defeats that of McGonagall’s strictness. I dislike Umbridge because she doesn’t know how to accept changes, in seeming fear of losing power should situations change.

Narcissa Malfoy

Narcissa asking Snape to make the Unbreakable Vow

Narcissa is Draco’s mother. She’s Bellatrix’s sister and is not a Death Eater. Her husband, Lucius, is. She and her family plays host for Voldemort when he returns to power in the fifth book.

Her character gains momentum in the Half-Blood Prince, when she goes to Snape for help upon knowing of the mission Voldemort sets for Draco. She wants Snape to protect her son and to carry on with the mission should Draco fail. She is also known for lying to Voldemort of Harry’s death in the seventh book, when she learns that Draco is still alive.

What I most dislike about Narcissa is her arrogance of a different caliber than Bellatrix. Hers is that which reminds people of the unknowing elite: priding on being, not on doing. And that’s not to mention her striking difference from the mother that is Molly Weasley.

Cho Chang

Cho Chang

A Ravenclaw that Harry meets at a Quidditch match in his third year, Cho Chang is described as a pretty girl who’s also very popular in her own way. She is dated by Cedric Diggory, Harry’s co-Triwizard Hogwarts champion, and is fancied by Roger Davies, captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. In the year following Cedric’s death, Cho is starting to be taken with Harry. She even joins Dumbledore’s Army. Eventually, though, they fall apart. In the book, this happens when Marietta, her friend, spills on the DA to Umbridge thus causing Dumbledore to leave Hogwarts. In the film, that part is changed to Cho being the one who tells about the DA over Umbridge’s Veritaserum-questioning.

The reason that I don’t like Cho goes beyond the fangirl, Harry-crushing objective. In fact, I’ve actually rooted for her and Harry all the while I was reading the fourth book. But sadly, she turns into the saddest being in the fifth book, which is quite understandable being that she’s lost her previous boyfriend. But if what Hermione says is true, that she’s feeling guilty about liking Harry when she’s supposed to be grieving over Cedric, then I feel like she ought to have made her stand. I also think she’s an unnecessary addition to Harry’s many stressful thoughts and responsibilities.

Despite the many characters I ought to have liked and disliked, I give attention to these eight for their mere representation of one of the many reasons that I love the Harry Potter series.

What about you, who do you like and who do you hate?

Credits: HP-Lexicon and Rotten Tomatoes

Peddler’s Delight

Pastries, cakes, cold beverages, and prime meat. Yum! Favorite food material, aren’t they? And where do you find them? Classy restos, chic food stalls, and fancy diners.

But in the Philippines, there is a multitude of “favorites” that oh-so-many people enjoy. To the point of being citizenship-indicator. Meaning, “you’re not Filipino if you haven’t eaten [dot, dot, dot]”.

What are these, you ask? Well, to name a few, we have:

Adidas

No, not the shoes. These are grilled chicken feet with barbecue sauce. Sadly, I cannot share personal thoughts over its taste because I haven’t had one. But according to trusted people who have tried it, there really is nothing disgusting about it. Mainly, it tastes just like any other chicken part. 🙂

Adidas

Betamax or simply, dugo

These are accumulated pig’s blood clots. And no, they’re not as bad as they sound to be. They are under the same category, and thus cooked in the same manner, as Adidas. Meaning, they’re grilled with barbecue sauce, too. Now, this one I’ve tried and it doesn’t really taste funny. I think it depends on the sauce that they use and how long it’s grilled, nevertheless the one I’ve had isn’t even halfway bad. Especially with vinegar or (in my case) ketchup.

Incidentally, dugo is also used in other delicacies/soups like misua and dinuguan.

Betamax

Isaw

This is a real favorite street food. As a matter of fact, isaw is even sold by known stores in the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Also, should you discuss Filipino street foods, there can never be no mention of beloved isaw. What is it, in any way?

Intestines. Yes. Either of  a chicken or of a pig. Chicken isaw is thinner and longer. Pig’s are usually cut into bite sizes because they’re wider and bigger. I’ve had both, yeah. They’re not really bad, unless of course you think that you’re eating intestines and therefore may be subjected to whatever particles or foods these animals had in their life. But hey, vendors make quite certain that they clean their products well, don’t worry.

(chicken) Isaw

(pig) Isaw

Fish Balls, Squid Balls, Kikiam

Usually sold via wheeled carts equipped with the local version of gas range and a pan of generous oil, fish balls, squid balls, and kikiam are among the many street foods that people enjoy. They are deep fried, unlike the first ones I’ve mentioned. And they come with a variety of sauces for dipping.

Fish balls, as many say, are actually made from fishes. They are said to be crushed and formed into the flattened round pieces that they are sold out. Squid balls, however, are not assured to be made of real squid. Some actually believe they are made with fishes, too. They are rounder and fuller in form than fish balls, but they pretty much taste the same. Kikiam, on the other hand, is originally of the Chinese cuisine.

All three are also added to another Chinese-original, the pansit.

Squid balls (round ones), fish balls (on stick), kikiam (brown, elongated ones)

Kwek-kwek

Boiled quail eggs covered with flour-based, orange-colored batter. These are sold either on its own or with other fried street foods like fish balls. Usually, they come with vinegar with chopped cucumber and onion as dip. Definitely in vogue among street food lovers, the kwek-kwek has gained popularity now even exceeding that of the fish balls. They are also being sold in many food stands in malls.

The kwek-kwek also comes in bigger versions. These are made with boiled chicken eggs already. The same dip is used, nonetheless.

Kwek-kwek

Balut

The ultimate challenge of being a street food enthusiast. The balut is the one food that even most of non-choosy street food eaters cannot bear to taste. Why so? For the simple reason that it comes with half-formed chicks. These are duck or chicken eggs that have not totally developed into real chicks and are then boiled to be eaten. Such may explain occasional head forms that may be inside your balut.

Balut is sold usually at night, with trusty chicharon and penoy, eggs like the balut but with no embryo. But at present, even cool restaurants sell them as appetizers or even as main courses. This street food is also very much known amongst Filipino overseas workers, such that there are New York restaurants that offer it as part of their prime menu.

Balut

These are only a few, compared to many others that Filipinos equally adore. We also have pig’s fat, lungs, and skin. On the ever savory chicken, we have the head, the skin, and even cut up necks. On a more “normal” side, we also have hotdogs (a peso per piece), peanuts, and cashews. Not to mention the meringue, kropek, and banana chips sold in buses. There is also the banana cue (bananas fried with caramelized sugar), camote cue (sweet potatoes with caramelized sugar), and turon (wrapped bananas).

Truly, the Filipino culture is not only rich in its stories and traditional events. We have a variety of foods that are not only tasty, but definitely unique.

Take on the streets, people, and enjoy. ❤

Credits: Zoom in, Philippines!, Tourism-Philippines, Table for Three, Please.

Counting Beauty

For the record, I don’t read the magazine itself. That’s familial sort-of-rule I have no qualms following, mainly because I’m not really a magazine fan. I only get to read mags borrowed from friends, that’s about it.

But being a local showbiz semi-enthusiast has led me to a leveled interest as to who will make it to this year’s FHM Philippines 100 Sexiest Women in the World.

As far as I’m aware, this is based on a nationwide voting process–being that the top spot owner has garnered a healthy 284, 156 votes from the 4 million that’s counted last June 15. Who is she?

Well, that’s none other than last year’s 4th placer, actress Angel Locsin. I must say that’s not at all expected, given that the voting must have been to some extent fan-based and Angel Locsin’s fairly off-the-show these days. But nevertheless, the girl must have a real solid following this time.

Angel Locsin

Might we must also remember her many charitable acts, her humility, and her patience to be considered again as TV’s finest. She’s always determined and never wavering. It just shows that blessings come to those who patiently wait.

Who, then, is she able to beat? Let’s take a look at the nearest 9:

10. Ehra Madrigal

9. Valerie ‘Bangs’ Garcia

8. Regine Velasquez

7. Katrina Halili

6. Angelica Panganiban

5. Iwa Moto

4. Marian Rivera

3. Cristine Reyes

2. Marisa Miller

[For a complete list, visit FHM Philippines’ page.]

I must say that though this year’s Top 10 are not at all those I’ve seen coming, some of them are still nonetheless satisfying. Whether that’s based on general comments I hear and read about or on personal beliefs, I can’t pinpoint. However, let me air some of it.

PLUS-es

Take the case of 2nd placer Marisa Miller, who also happens to be (as I’ve found out just now) the global winner of this year’s Sexiest Women in the World. Maybe that’s because I’m not into the entire industry enough to know that she even exists. Still, her Victoria’s Secret angel reputation has paid off. She’s a sculpture of her own.

Marisa Miller

Another is the inclusion of Iwa Moto and her landing on the 5th place. As I personally believe that being what people call “sexy” is not simply grounded on one’s physical offerings, I really think Iwa deserves being here. She’s lost a generous amount of weight via martial arts, if she tells it right. That for me is an indication of a woman who takes herself seriously enough to care about activities that would make her better.

Iwa Moto

The same goes for Marian Rivera‘s 4th spot, which she gets even without ever posing for the mag itself. Albeit the seeming negatives people can think about her as an actress, I do consider her as someone who exudes not only beauty but also candidness that shows just who she really is. Maybe it’s the Spanish blood, or the white complexion, or the brilliant eyes. Whatever, she’s really an eye-full.

Marian Rivera

MINUS-es

Of the whole 100 women, I do think there are a lot who’s been missed out of the top 10. Yes, I know, it’s not very possible to have all the supposedly ‘deserving’ ladies up there, but the misses are effectively disappointing.

First of is Maricar Reyes, who sadly ends up 71st. There is not much body baring on her acting stints, that’s true. But the woman’s plain graceful. She walks and talks elegance. I’ve always looked at her and listened to her articulation with lots of admiration. And I can only hope she’s gonna be seen like that by many others.

Maricar Reyes

Coming up second is 39th placer Ornussa Cadness. She is not your average model and “it” girl of the elite who’s the branded girl of some male celebrity. She’s got the feisty attitude that breathes fresh air onto the world of the thin and slender don’t-eat-and-walk women. She also has depth, if I may use the word. Her story goes beyond the dreamy feel of the catwalk. And she says if she doesn’t need modeling, she’ll be out being her true self.

Ornussa Cadness

Last is Anne Curtis, on the 18th spot. Yeah, I’ve never denied being an Anne fan. That’s because I find her beauty and attitude as a fine cross between youthful vibrancy and grown-up allure. Sometimes, when you watch her hosting shows on TV you cannot help but wonder if she just knows she’s pretty. I mean, aside from hearing so. Because she’s lovingly candid, you can never tell if she’s flaunting or simply having fun.

Anne Curtis

But then again, people have different opinions. And maybe that’s why these three have not ended up where I believe they should be. And there’s always a next year.

Now, what do you think about this year’s list?

Always remember though, that a woman’s being sexy is not defined by tape measures. For all that you have, just never cease being your true self.

And don’t forget, flaunt what you have. Society can forever do with scenic views 🙂

Photos from FHM Philippines.

What About Anna?

[Pre-reading: Do know that the following is for and about just the film, as I am yet unable to read the book from where it is adapted. Thanks :)]

How do you save your daughter’s life? Do you just continuously fight for it, spend all your family’s wealth, and never give up? How about conceiving another child, intentionally making her a perfect match for your sick daughter’s need for bodily donations?

This is where the story of My Sister’s Keeper revolves. Based on the novel of acclaimed writer Jodi Picoult, the movie is an exemplary story of life, family, death, and letting go.

My Sister's Keeper (Fountains of Joy)

In a Nutshell

. . . that is rather more complex than what we can possibly understand. The story is all about a family that takes care of a dying leukemic. Albeit the seeming factual life occurrence of someone in the family being sick, the Fitzgeralds’ situation is wrought still with difficulties of deeper roots.

Sara and Brian thought they had the best of life. Sara was a lawyer, Brian a firefighter. They had two children, Kate and Jesse, both growing up beautifully. They had a cozy house. They had everything good, before it was shattered.

Kate was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer that affects the blood. Sara and Brian tried and wanted very much to do everything to cure her. They went through tests, finding out in the latter that neither of them could donate body parts to help Kate. Neither was Jesse compatible in any way. Their hopes seemed lost, save for one more: an unorthodox doctor’s suggestion of conceiving a third child–one that would be totally and entirely compatible with each and every part of Kate. At least, engineering the soon-to-be baby would make so.

Hence, the birth of Anna. Throughout her whole life, Anna had to give up a lot of her body parts: bone marrow, blood, and cells among others. All for the intention of keeping Kate alive.

A lot had changed in the Fitzgeralds’ household since then and during the years of Kate’s illness. Kate started growing up and being fully aware of her difference from everyone else her age, getting chemo, and being in a brief relationship with Taylor, a guy who also had cancer.

Then, on Anna’s 11th year as Kate’s sister and genetic match, yet another grave donation had to be made. Kate was having renal failure and Anna knew she could solve that by means of giving up one of her kidneys.

Only, she did not. She went to lawyer Campbell Alexander and asked for help. She sued her parents for medical emancipation; she said she wanted rights to her own body and, consequently, the choice to not donate her kidney. Sara was simply furious.

What followed was a mixture of dramatic court and dining room battles. Confrontations, argumentations, and explanations were brought forth. In the ensuing chaos, every person had to make a choice. Everyone had had something to give up, too, because of Kate’s condition. Sara had to quit her job, Brian had to let his wife be distant, Jesse had to give up being considered. And it was time for them to choose between helping Kate fight and losing themselves some more or letting go of Kate and getting back what’s theirs.

There were moments when they felt giving up. Like that time when Brian took the kids to the beach because Kate wanted to go. Sara was livid, knowing full well they could just as be killing Kate. But she had to go after them; they were her family, after all.

Every problem had a solution, though, whether or not the answer suited us. In the concluding court proceedings, Jesse broke loose and went to tell everyone that Anna was suing because Kate asked her to. Kate wanted to die.

And she did. She went, leaving behind a scrapbook filled with her own version of the memories. She went with undying love for and from her family. She went, in full hope her family would be able to cope.

Tear-jerking Moments

The film is, first and foremost, a drama. So we’d rather expect the worst in crying moments. And yes, My Sister’s Keeper is way full of them. For so many reasons:

First, the trailer in itself is heart-tearing. Watch:

Second, if you feel sniffing over that short piece, how much more when you hear the lines? Yes, personally, I consider the characters’ lines as the most wrenching. Let’s try the lines delivered via voice-over by Kate:

I know I’m going to die now. I supposed I’ve always known that, I just don’t know when. And I’m okay with it. I don’t mind my disease killing me. But it’s killing my family, too.

I’m sorry, Jesse. I’m sorry I took all the attention when you’re the one who needed it the most. Dad, I know I took you first love from you. I only hope that one day you get her back. Mom, you gave up everything for me–your work, your marriage, your entire life–just to fight my battles for me every single day. To my baby sis, . . . I’m sorry I let them hurt you.

These are words that not all dying children can utter. These are words in its purest, in its simplest. Sincere and very relative, every line in this film is something you would have uttered if you yourself is in that situation. Of course, much (and much more) goes to the magnificent prowess of Jodi Picoult, whose writing and understanding of emotions is blatantly endearing.

Third and last comes the songs. Lines and scenes and tears, lay a sad song on the background and you’re done. Like this one:

For more, feel free to get a copy of the entire film. I daresay you watch and let yourself be moved.

Smiling Points

Though the movie is heartbreaking in many cases, it is still not your average drama and conflict-ridden film. There are more to say on the area of life lessons, happy memories to hold onto: parts that have only added depth to an already soulful story.

One, is seen in the beach scene. Even if it starts with a rather traumatic parent-fighting part, you won’t miss the idea that no matter how much you want to hold things hostage, there are those that you’d do good by setting free.

Another is Anna’s conversation with Judge De Salvo, who’s a mother grieving over the loss of her own child. There is something in it that just says somewhere in another part of the world, someone is feeling as much pain as you have. Yet, they don’t cave in. That ought to make you think that there’s some hope around.

Last, I give credit to the “she gets the table” line of Brian. He’s wanted to hear Anna. For that particular time, he’s listened to Anna. So goes the father that loves his children with the intent of keeping them not only healthy, but happy as well.

Other Takes

The casting is a fantastic choice, especially considering the female casts. Cameron Diaz is just in for the strong mother role. She emanates bravery, with the right tendency of going overboard. Pale and yet courageous Sofia Vassilieva, who has had her hair shaved for her role, is also an exemplary addition. She’s got her lines to work its way to the viewers’ hearts. Abigail Breslin, the Little Miss Sunshine, is an epitome of growing up with one’s craft. Her portrayal of the guilt, hesitations, pain, and strength that Anna has had to juggle around is very realistic. Even Joan Cusack’s small, equally wretched role complements the whole story.

As for the male roles, with Alec Baldwin (as Campbell Alexander), Thomas Dekker (Taylor), Jason Patric (Brian Fitzgerald), and Evan Ellingson (Jesse) are notable. Although more silent and in the background, they have added the right amount of flavor to the female leads’ racket.

Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin (Sara and Anna)

Cameron Diaz and Sofia Vassilieva (Sara and Kate)

Sofia Vassilieva and Abigail Breslin (Kate and Anna)

Abigail Breslin as Anna

Sofia Vassilieva as Kate

Cameron Diaz (Sara) and Alec Baldwin (Atty Alexander) with Joan Cusack (Judge De Salvo)

Jason Patric as Brian

Evan Ellingson as Jesse

Thomas Dekker and Sofia Vassilieva (Taylor and Kate)

Alec Baldwin as Campbell Alexander

Scenes are also well-captured, from the flashbacks to the presents and very much so on the beach scene. The musical scoring is just as excellent (I have the whole soundtrack and it’s a must-hear, seriously) with songs that are lyrically fulfilling and melodically soothing.

All of these is a testimony that Nick Cassavetes has never ceased to capture the hearts of his viewers, much like what he’s done in The Notebook. He’s a classic, the man.

So how do you save your daughter’s life? Or rather, how do you save her heart from dying before her body does?

Life is a myriad of things we need to fight for if only because we are in love with the idea of happiness. But sometimes, and at some point, life becomes a web of what we have to let go of–if only to save what we cannot live without.

** Credits to Rotten Tomatoes and Fountains of Joy for the photos.

Out from the Rabbit Hole

Definitely, an excellent review for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is more than difficult to come by. Hence, I shall leave that for a few more days.

For now, let’s do first with Avril Lavigne’s Alice, a song she’s written herself and, of course, inspired by the movie.

Being that the video’s real clear already, we need not discuss its storyline. In essence, the song comes from Alice’s point of view–starting from when she followed the rabbit down a hole up to her meeting the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. So shall we get to the lyrics? It’s not quite much, in terms of length. But the word choices are pretty cool.

The song goes:

Trippin’ out
Spinning around
I’m underground
I fell down
Yeah, I fell down

I’m freaking out, where am I now?
Upside down and I can’t stop it now
Can’t stop me now, oh oh

[Chorus]
I,I, I’ll get by
I,I, I’ll survive
When the world’s crashing down
When I fall and hit the ground
I will turn myself around
Don’t you try to stop me
I,I, I won’t cry

I found myself in Wonderland
Got back on my feet, again
Is this real?
Is this pretend?
I’ll take a stand until the end

[Chorus, twice]

Personally, I think the words capture the whole of Alice’s mood and the general feeling of being in a world where you can’t see what you’ve always been used to. It also highlights Alice’s courage and willingness to stand and fight until the end.

Needless to say, this one is appropriate, right, and extensively for the movie. Avril Lavigne is, without a doubt, a very talented composer/singer/musician. Not only that, her imagination’s a Wonderland in itself.

Keep going!

Credits: WaltDisneyStudiosUK (YouTube) for the video and E-Lyrics World for the song lyrics.