Notes from a time traveling day

1 09 2009

AND I thought Sheldon was just being impossibly difficult.

That and the fact that he – Sheldon of the hit TV series “The Big Bang Theory” – was most probably just given the really juicy, overly descriptive lines befitting the really smart guy that he is.

With much frustration, Sheldon says, “This sandwich is an unmitigated disaster.  I asked for turkey and roast beef with lettuce and swiss on whole wheat.”  “What did they give you?” asks Raj.  “Turkey and roast beef with swiss and lettuce on whole wheat,” Sheldon explicitly describes and continues, “It’s the right ingredients but in the wrong order.  In a proper sandwich, the cheese is adjacent to the bread to create a moisture barrier against the lettuce.  They might as well drag this thing to a carwash.”  Leonard protests, “I don’t believe it!”  And Sheldon couldn’t help but agree, “I know!  It’s basic culinary science.”

That was exactly how I felt with the sandwich that I had in my hands while watching “The Time Traveler’s Wife” last Friday.  Starbucks Coffee Company® calls it (something like) their Chicken and Ham with Gruyere in Turkish Bread.  Sounded fancy.  Sounded yummy.  And sounded like a good enough alternative to my usual Hungarian Sausage with Eggwhite and Cheese in Ciabatta which was already sold out at the time.

The premise of the sandwich was actually great.  It was the gruyere that got me.  I love love love gruyere cheese, one of the two cheeses in my macaroni and cheese recipe.  Now slap that together with chicken and ham, all together in a visually appealing black-and-white-sesame-seed studded crusty bun and I guess I’d have a winner right there!

But with my first bite – as the opening credits of the movie started rolling – Sheldon’s predicament came to mind.  While on its own the flattened chicken fillet in the middle of my sandwich was really moist and flavorful – redolent with smoky hints of cumin – the rest was a disaster.  The worst was the absence of that “moisture barrier” that left the bottom of my sandwich badly soaked in extra virgin olive oil and the tomato-based dressing.

I ended up just sipping – really slowly, as if rationing out to my own self a really scarce commodity! – my Mocha Frappucino with Raspberry Syrup.  I’d usually get this in the Dark Mocha variant.  But sadly, that too was unavailable.

Too bad Pepper Lunch was packed full when I stopped by.  Oh well, it wasn’t my day.  At least the movie saved it from being a total bore.

Now you see him, now you don’t

29 08 2009

“CLARE ABSHIRE, 31, It’s complicated™.”

If Chicago-based artist Clare Abshire (played by the luminously beautiful Rachel McAdams) signed up for a friendster account in the 2000’s, I guess that is most likely how she would have opted to summarize her relationship status with Henry DeTamble (the Eric Bana).

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Theatrical poster for "The Time Traveler's Wife," as displayed at the Alabang Town Center cinema.

The Time Traveler’s Wife” is the story of a girl.  Yes, the story starts with Clare as a young girl of six who meets and falls in love with a much older guy Henry who appears and disappears against his will.  Everytime he literally vanishes – leaving only the trail of his clothes and shoes behind (my fave being that one when he was running down the stairs) – he randomly turns up in another place and another time.  Either he finds the clothes he left behind, or he relies on his survival instincts – including developed skills like picking locks – to get clothes.  And then life at least for the time he stays in that frame of the universe goes on.

Clare very early on becomes fully aware of Henry’s “chrono-impairment” disorder.  And in spite of this very clear and very present deterrent, girl and guy manage to get into – and sustain – a relationship.  Though from that first scene in the Chicago library when an obviously thrilled Clare didn’t elicit the same level of excitement from the special topics librarian Henry, it really became clear to me that our protagonists are all caught up in a romantic situation that leaves them bewildered and confused at times.  But when the confusion sets in, Clare and Henry are still lucky that one of them has a good grasp of the time and the events, and will lead the other on.  Which was something I couldn’t say about me, seeing the movie alone.  There were points in the narrative when I would quickly glance at the couples and groups in the audience, trying to check if they looked as confused as I was.  I would chide myself that I didn’t get to read the novel first before I went to see the movie.

Yes, I haven’t read the novel but I decided to see the movie just the same.  I was abroad when I first heard about it when it was released, and when it later made the New York Times bestseller list.  The first thing that captivated me was the title – The Time Traveler’s Wife.  In the space of four short words, my neurons got all worked up with flashing scenes of romance and science fiction all muddled up by trips down memory lane and projections to the future.  I thought the author came up with a very clever – very prowerful – title that explicitly defined the main characters (a man and a woman), their relationship (husband and wife), and their greatest obstacle (someone’s traveling through the barriers of time).

Though the premise sounded straightforward enough, I have to say that it presents quite a challenge to the director tasked to capture hundreds of pages that, in Summit’s words, allow the reader to “linger on the possibilities and nuances of time and space.”    I will have to agree with Summit when she told me that “cinema doesn’t give you that leisure all the time.”  A part of me initially thought that the challenge posed to Robert Schwentke was pretty easy to deal with.  I thought it was akin to just weaving footages on a Windows MovieMaker storyboard with visually delicious video transitions dragged and dropped in between scenes of Henry’s vanishing and appearing.  But I thought wrong.  Having not read the novel, I found myself listening to the dialogue more intently than usual, trying to snatch hints of the current scene’s time stamp.

Yes, I can hear some of you may be saying, “Pay attention to the clothing, stupid!”  But my best guess is that the story unfolded within the time span of just three to four decades.  And if the production design of the movie is to be trusted, the lines between the 80’s, the 90’s and the 2000’s are as blurred as could be.  I didn’t see Clare’s posture enhanced by voluminous shoulder pads at any point to say that the time warp has brought us to the 80’s.  Besides, Henry having to contend with even Salvation Army fashion finds wasn’t any help.  And the haircuts really didn’t clue me in at all – except that I have to say only Eric Bana could pull off really bad hair.

But I think the biggest downside to not having read the novel first was that when Clare says that she and Henry is to have dinner at the latter’s favorite place, I swear I thought they were having Italian.  I totally thought the place was called “Bow Tie,” which I took as an homage to the farfalle (bow tie pasta).  Soon enough, a slowly spiraling camera shot from the top of their restaurant table caught a glimpse of the menu, revealing Henry’s favorite place to be “Beau Thai.”  Hahaha!  But at least I had the rare chance to really laugh at myself.

But having said these impediments, I still ended up texting my friends – just about every friend I think gives a damn about me and what I think – that I liked the movie.  I really did.

In any relationship, there is always one party that loves the other more.  While one decision made by Henry underscores just how much he cares for the welfare of Clare, I will have to give the unconditional love award to the latter.  For one, it takes so much – immeasurable even just how much – to love someone who just “will not always be there.”  And while Henry may have declared, “I don’t want you to wait.  I don’t want you to spend your time waiting.”  he knows better that any moment he zips past the time continuum, Clare will always be there.

And in one of the more poignant scenes in the movie, when Henry says that he has never wanted anything in his life that he couldn’t stand losing – but it was already too late for him to change his mind – I sincerely felt that he was speaking for both himself and Clare.

Now tell me if you could lay claim to a more complex relationship.

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Another movie ticket for keeps

It takes the Summit to enchant and pique my curiosity

28 08 2009

EVEN WITH the friendships we forge, it helps to be able to find those that will help nurture the best things we like about ourselves – or at least, the best things we aspire to be.

While I take considerable caution to not cross the demarcation line towards “social mountain climbing” (hahaha!), I have to say I’m bolder in trying to surround myself with people whose intellectual capacity, whose wit, and whose high degree of sound knowledge could help make me create a better version of myself.  Summit happens to be one of these people.

My interactions with her when she was still handling video and events production here in the office were nothing less than enriching experiences for me.  She encouraged me to blog…  something I eventually succumbed to especially after I experienced myself just how powerful – just how moving – the written word can be.  That happened to me while reading several of her posts on her own blog.

This morning, I was so surprised to receive from her an e-Mail response to my shameless promotion of what I called my “review” of one movie I just saw.  I couldn’t help but quote here Summit’s reaction to my mention of “The Time Traveler’s Wife” in that previous movie post.

I’m super excited about Time Traveler’s Wife as well.  Do try to read the book too though.  The concepts lend itself well (and efficiently) to the written word, but onscreen I’m not sure how these will turn out.  The book allows you to linger on the possibilities and nuances of time and space.  Cinema doesn’t give you that leisure all the time.  But still, it’s worth watching!

Seriously, she just further piqued my curiosity over that movie.  And I have to say that she has put together in about just 67 words what would usually take me kilometers of print space to articulate.  Hahaha!

Thanks Summit for being an inspiration!


By the way, Summit is my good friend the Daphne Tatiana “Data” Tolentino-Canlas.