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Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno) is an imaginative, thrilling, and poignant tale of a gloomy and dreamy girl, Ofelia, who was forced to stay with her mom’s new husband – a military officer tasked to exterminate guerillas hiding in the deep forests of Spain in 1940. Out of Ofelia’s loneliness coupled with her queer inventiveness, she created a world where she is Princess Moanna of the Underworld.  With the guidance of a Faun, a quirky fairy, and a book (only she could decipher), she sets out to do three great tasks to get back to her kingdom.

I first thought it was a book made into a movie, but it was all from Guillermo del Toro’s notes, fermenting after 20 years. I applaud the perfect casting for the movie. I couldn’t imagine any other celebrities to play the roles of Captain Vadil, Mercedes, and Ofelia. (Well, truth is, I hardly knew any other Spanish actors).

I find Ofelia’s “escape world” odd and irrational – the places she has to go and the tasks she needs to carry out are unexpected, ergo eerily exciting. I’m really impressed by the lack of girlish screams all throughout the film. Ofelia seems stoic all in all but she has a heart, which can be observed closely whenever she talks to her mom and her brother inside her womb.

I should probably warn you that it eats about two hours – it’s a war movie and a fairy tale in a single film. Now when do you get such a treat? If you dislike seeing blood, this is not the movie for you. Yet if you can’t resist the charm of innocence on Ofelia’s face, then bear the gore and violence, as they were grandly mixed in this movie.

Genius Clash

Familiar with Sheldon Cooper and Leonard’s scientific arguments? Or House’s and Wilson’s disputes? Oh, we know Sheldon and House would always win, as their buddies seem a little below their level. Have you seen, heard or read, by any chance, Charlie and Larry‘s altercation? Have a peek:

Charlie: Larry, do you remember when I was in my Junior, and I just started to grow my mustache out.
Larry: The word mustache would be a charitable characterization.
Charlie:You said that mine failed to achieve critical mass. (Here, human ears err – I couldn’t decode the verbatim so I’m merely relaying the thought.)
Larry: Oh.. dear.. sorry.. (smiling)
Charlie: No.. you were being brutally honest with me you know.. and sometimes, friends have to be brutally honest with each other. (Larry just nods. A pause. Charlie came closer, giving a pat to Larry’s left shoulder.)
Charlie: Larry.. you know this thing isn’t really just gonna happen.
Larry:Because? (eye widening, throbbing veins appear at the middle of his forehead)
Charlie:People die in space shuttles, Larry. (Intently looking at Larry’s eyes.) You know at some point, you’ve got to make a rational assessment on the situation. You’re gonna realize that shooting yourself out of a canon would just be f*ckless waste.
Larry:Let me get this right. You were actually comparing my brushing the heavens with your barely post-pubescent mustache?!
Charlie: No, I’m just being realistic.
Larry:It’s a very fortunate thing for you that I’m in a verge of fulfilling one of my life’s dreams.
Charlie:Fortunate for me?
Larry:That’s correct. Because If I were in a less brilliant frame of mind, I might as well just pop you in the nose. Excuse me.

Curious how they reconcile?
Charlie: Hey.
Larry: Hey.
Charlie:I’m not gonna apologize for expressing my opinion.
Larry: I’m not gonna apologize for choosing to ignore it. (Looking at Charlie’s FBI-related equations on the board…) You’ve got an interesting problem there. (Then they went on talking about the Brutus case.)
I truly enjoyed this episode. Kudos to the writer and cast of characters!:)

OWWA & Phil Consul Email Response

Guys, do you ever read your emails?

Sister Carrie

What is the price of ambition?

Dreiser's Works

Barely reading half of Theodore Dreiser’s classic work “Sister Carrie”, I could quite guess where the story would lead. I was first acquainted with Dreiser through the book “The Genius”, which main character was Eugene, who humbly began as a resident of rural Illinois yet later bloomed into an important artist of the city of Chicago.

Dreiser’s creations, Carrie and Eugene, were both ambitious, though the woman was far less strong-willed than the man. In both novels, he paints Chicago’s best and worst features and weave his characters’ feats and defeats around its opportunities, luxuries, lures and deceptions.

As a young adult, I could greatly relate to the struggles of Dreiser’s characters, whose options have been limited to either “embrace” the realities of the new city or “shrink” into the shadows of their home town, ergo forego sanity.

Despite the irresistible honesty his books hold, I still I didn’t like how limitedly he portrayed women. Or how he probably picked weak ones. If you’re a woman, you can ignore his slight condescensions, take note of his misconceptions, and retaliate by posting a review (if you’ve got the time).

Surely, to disagree is one of the best ways to learn. That said, to meet someone who disagrees with our comfortable notions is a huge pleasure. Meet Dreiser now.

Disabled Amygdala

What are the risks of throwing away your fears? – Love Guru

Image credit:

Among the many short articles featured on the monthly journal of Dubai Health Care City, the fearless woman hiding in the name “SM”, ignited my curiosity. How could someone ever live free of fear? I was glad Science Now has  a longer version of the story.

SM doesn’t fear snakes, tarantulas, and horror films. Also, she couldn’t read faces that express fear. Perhaps you’d say you could do the same, but the scientists behind the study have conducted more experiments to prove SM doesn’t feel fear. They found out the cause just recently: her amygdalae (singular:amygdala) were damaged.

Isn’t she enviable?

If I could borrow her disabled amygdala for a day, I would have this “to-do” list:

1. Refuse corporate slavery.

2. Speak truthfully- at all times, at all cost – even if it means losing my job.

3. Skydiving.

4. Ride the roller-coasters with eyes open wide.

5. Pursue any of the lofty degrees: law, medicine, language, or parenting.

6. Wear bikinis.

7. Spend my entire monthly salary on a back-pack tour.

8. Roller skate or ride a bike going to work.

9. Examine everyone I come across the street.

I wish to add more but there’s one thing I dislike about a dysfunctional amygdala – the inability to guard one’s personal space, which I’m not willing to risk for above mentioned fearless feats.

Somniloquence: Sleep Talking

It’s 1:37 in the morning. I felt a rush of blood crawling to my cheeks as Ate Sha teased  me for talking while I was asleep. She used to sleep beside me yet now she’s a meter away. I wonder what I mumble or grumble while I’m in dreamland. Could it be Frodo’s quest? Or Sam’s poetry? Or Aragon’s strength? Probably Gandalf’s wisdom? Or the Hobbits in general? I wouldn’t know ’til someone records my slumber murmurs. Could I be crying? Perhaps not. Most certainly not.

Did you ever sing while you were sleeping? My sisters said I did. The mystifying part was, I didn’t even know the lyrics of the song they heard from me. Anyway, I have five plausible reasons for sleep talk:

1. Trying to over-learn something. Reporting has always been a way of life for most of us who have gone to elementary, high school and college. We don’t always prepare while awake, some folks do recite tons of info while their eyes are shut.

2. Rehearsing/planning a play. My relatives in Antipolo were astounded with my shout: “That’s a lie!” A line in a college play I had to repeat several times to make an impact… t’was overdone and carried over in my sleep, though.

3. Bottled up feelings. Guys, it helps to smile before sleeping. Not the kind we put on to greet guests or please superiors, but the sense of relief that the day has never gone totally bad -that something about it can be appreciated. So my point? The less you smile, the more you’ll talk in deep sleep.

4. Subconscious Tongue. The subconscious tongue possibly slipped while we seem totally dead asleep. It’s an unspoken voice, unknown or unknowable, that freely escapes when we are least aware of our acts.

5. Genetics. Bed-wetters have parents that wet their beds – in their childhood days. Could we then say that somniloquists have moms or dads who talk in their sleep? Most probably. So kiddos, relax, we may blame moms and pops.

Do you find it creepy to sleep beside a somniloquist? Or you find it exciting? Even laughable? Share your thoughts.

My ESL: Your Companion to ESL Learning sprang up to Neil and me sometime in October when we agreed to deliberately improve how we write. It surprisingly evolved into an ESL site dedicated to intermediate and advanced learners of English as a Second Language after a few brainstorming for a better subject for the site.

Now ESL Online has got its new home. One closest to the name and will live up to it: – your online companion to ESL learning.

Commencing on the 25th of December, this gift is from us for everyone who shares the passion of learning, living and loving English. Pay a visit and make it your ESL learning partner online.