Author Archives: Gabriel Mercado

Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 2 – Witness

I enjoy shows that have almost no music, so when Mad Men came out I was beyond hooked. Here was a show that not only dared to de – romanticize the ’60s but even goes as far as relying on great camera work and even greater acting to get their point across, sans any music cues that in my mind serve as a disingenuous way to tell the audience when to pay attention.

Having said that I get chills whenever the music turns on during any of Mike Ehrmentraut’s scenes. Mike is a cool customer, a regular James Bond in sheep’s clothing and when he is engaged in spy like activities I cherish every second. The scene that finally introduces us how he finally ends up at Los Pollos Hermanos via a wide shot with thumping music is a winner. Seeing Gus Fring again is actually refreshing if you can say that about any bad guy, and how he gets wise to Mike is a mystery that will have me thinking about it till next week.

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Logan 8.5/10

[Spoiler Alert]

Of all the comic based movies I’ve got to say the people who make X-Men are the most grounded and downright courageous of them all. To come out with this movie you have had to outright declare war on commercialism and *gasp* go for pure story, pure realism. Grit and truth.

The movie discusses the utter uselessness of the hero persona, and that war per se or the constant use of battle to resolve dispute is essentially futile, and that eventually the hero ends up anything but heroic. But rather as aged, desperate, weak, regretful, bitter people longing to correct wrongs of the past.

Not that any of that of course, is a surprise. Governments use propaganda to bombard people with the idea of heroes on top of white horses galloping off into the sunset after they complete great missions. But time and time again historians and often those heroes themselves belie the truth – that war and the warrior mystique is shrouded in glamour and fantasy to course fools into fighting wars.

And here we have Wolverine the ultimate X-Men, the greatest and most iconic hero of them all taking the series of movies to its logical, agonizing and tragic end. A task that is not only truthful but worthwhile and reasonable considering the aging of the actors and of course, the fact that another X-Men with characters swooshing around in tights just won’t make sense any more.

However as much as the premise itself is beyond worthy, the story telling is not.

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Selling my beloved 1998 C70

Selling my beloved 1998 C70
• Registered 2014, complete OR / CR
• Bought 2010, slowly restored for 5 years
• Original parts bought at Triumph Caloocan, ie. seat, fr and rr signal lights, speedo, harness, sub cross plate, seat lock, muffler, fr and rr fender, muffler stay, plate holder, camshaft orig carburetor
• 99% Complete receipts of all items.
• All electric working.
• Professionally sandblasted and powder coated.
• Chrome stand, brake and gear pedals, rear carrier.
• Super reliable, rarely used
• Including basket and front rack (need repaint)
• Owner is one of the Admins of Honda Super Cub Philippines FB Group

• Punit ang right side ng legshield, pero tinakpan ko ng rubber lining.
• Basag ang right rear signal light, will provide replacement.
• Slight oil leak.
RFS: time to move on.

Thoughts On The Crown

What I learned from The Crown is that essentially, the monarchy, or at least the British one, are a sort of government sanctioned and promoted celebrity family. People seem to love them by default whether they deserve it or not, and so the state uses this as an opportunity to promote among other things, proper behavior, loyalty to country, patriotism and devotion to duty. Something to aspire to. Without which you supposedly would have, especially among the lesser educated, mayhem.

Because they are so popular, people are obsessed with everything they say and do. Movies, books, magazines – a whole industry of publications are dedicated to everything these people eat, wear, their stature, their earthly possessions, who they ‘fancy’, none of which may actually be true yet is absorbed, fabricated and supplemented by people like water in the desert. And because there is such obsession and (unnecessarily deserving) adulation, they use this to promote their standards. Like sobriety, conservatism, restraint, respect for law and government, and all those the government sees befit a British citizen. Continue reading

Sakaling Hindi Makarating – 5/10

So, the things I found wrong with it:

Alessandra de Rossi is good, but she seems too old for the youngish guy in the Marinduque scenes, and in addition to that, an absolute cold blooded B in the way she left him after he and his sister extended so much hospitality to her. Sure we’re supposed to feel empathy towards a woman desperate to resolve the mysterious postcards she’s been getting, but when there was apparently no scene of her giving the guy an explanation or even a goodbye I felt sorry for the him.

About those postcards, it took up to the start of the second act for me to realize those cards were mysterious at all. I thought they were still from her ex but it wasn’t made clear it wasn’t until way into the movie. Which is a pity because the plot was fairly rich. It wouldn’t have taken a sentence or two to establish this, perhaps by declaring this before she went on her trip.

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Passengers 7/10

I love sci – fi of almost any sort, and the premise behind this is exactly the type of sci – fi I grew up with. What if on a 90 year journey to a new world you are awoken sometime in the middle and now face the prospect of having to live the rest of your life in an empty albeit luxurious ship. Surrounded by comfort and extravagance you will no doubt still feel lonely, so how do you deal with that?

In a way its a little like Omega Man, the film I am Legend was based on, both relying on the ‘last man on earth’ plot where we investigate what a man left alone will do. The common denominator being the inevitable feelings of despair and loneliness, providing the catalyst to which all action he will do from thereon is justified against.

And that’s the problem with this movie, because the protagonists’ action was unacceptable. He awakens another passenger because he is supposedly infatuated with her based on videos about her – which make you roll your eyes because of course you’ll want to wake someone who looks like that regardless. The action of waking her up and being made to believe it’s because he likes her persona reminds me of the old joke about watching porn because of the story. It strains the suspension of disbelief necessary in all sci – fi.

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La La Land 10/10

It’s personally very gratifying to finally see an original musical in movie form again after quite an incredible amount of time in between. I can’t even remember the last one I’ve seen as a matter of fact, and it’s a testament to the balls of its producers – who to my mind are part of ‘the dreamers’ the movie sings about.

  • Why it shouldn’t have gotten approved – I would think that a romantic musical of any sort would be hard to get a go ahead from a studio for two reasons: 1.) You can gather from media and a general negative air around the world that audiences are literal – or the types who would not appreciate or understand the idea of spontaneous choreographed dancing to music coming from nowhere. And 2.), The only worthwhile romantic movie idea would have to be the Nicholas Sparks types, because people like the idea of a macho loner guy building a yacht or an antique house by hand and doing heroic selfless acts all while secretly yearning for a spunky female lead.

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Rogue One – 8.75 / 10

I am torn between giving in a ten, which I initially wanted to do directly after the movie, and a lower score. A ten because, as a Star Wars fan, this resolves twenty year old questions and even cheekily solves an old joke about how easy it is to destroy the Death Star.

The joy of rectifying issues and at the same time visiting familiar characters such as Gen. Tarkin and Mon Mothma are mined deep and hard here, likely resulting in explosions of geek happiness to millions of ‘Wars nerds. Even passive ones like myself are thoroughly entertained.

However as a standalone movie without the benefit of watching any of the others, I doubt if I would have enjoyed it as much. Continue reading

So We Finally Have A Date

For the surgery, and it’s October 20, at Paranaque Doctor’s Hospital, which despite horrific reviews on Google is my Doctor’s choice because they have more experienced nurses and a more modern x ray machine than at Unihealth where I was confined two weeks ago and which we prefer because it’s brand new and is only 3 kms. away from where we live. To clarify, my Doctor is also going to be my Orthopedic surgeon as well. When I asked him how many he’s done, he says he’s unsure because he’s done it so often already.

Some bad / good news though. Starting with the ‘bad’, I am having ‘Single level laminectomy discectomy with spinal fusion using pedicle screws l4 l5‘, and not microdiscectomy, which I mistakenly announced earlier. Basically it means screws will be put in place along two vertebrae in my spine, negating the need for my L4 – L5. These screws approximately look like this (not sure at all if its EXACTLY like that, but roughly I suppose)

4 pedicle screws

Here’s another image, again I’m not completely sure it’s accurate, but I’m basing it on what my doctor told me, got it from here.

back surgery

and here’s yet another.

back surgery

Costs are 3x to 4x more than the earlier surgery we had thought it would be, so it’s in the area of nearly p400k. A lot of it is possibly (not completely sure yet) being covered by my health card and Philhealth, but you can’t be too prepared, especially for incidentals as there is going to be a 5 – 7 day hospital stay to recuperate as well.

I can’t say enough for having a health card. Whatever initial worry you may have about costs will quickly go away when the time comes you need something done, from simple dental procedure to spinal surgery. People need to shop around for health cards if they haven’t already.

I’ve been googling pedicle screws for a while now and I am reminded of how my surgeon was careful to tell me how he needs to let us know when an agent of the surgical equipment is going to come once payment is due. Apparently there are many incidents of people claiming to represent these would come to the hospital room to claim payment. As payment is in cash there is a lot of fraud going on and everyone needs to be on their toes, from the doctors to the patients and possibly even hospital staff, who can help confirm if its them or not. Why does it need to be in cash though? If there’s a way around that (and there are many) I’m sure you can easily beat the fraudsters.

The equipment is apparently ultra expensive and comes in a toolbox, and it looks like this.

pedicle screws

That’s it for now. Between now and the 20th I just need to keep busy trying to make some money, read and learn new stuff.

So for the ‘good’ part, I’m super excited to get well as my surgeon is enthusiastic about me being active again once all the pain is gone.

One final and deeply important thing. I cannot say how much I am beyond grateful and indebted to my long suffering wife, who has not decided on separation despite my having pulled both of us into debt so I may go through this, this selfish and self serving thing. For all the world I cannot understand what possible gain she gets from having to stand by and support someone who needs so much attention and care. Needless to say I will never forget how much you are doing for me. I love you so much.