Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Assassin's Creed: The Non-Gamer Review

Now, before you raise a condescending brow, let me put it out there --without the slightest qualm-- that I am no gamer. Until last weekend, I wouldn't have known the difference between Aguilar de Nehra and Gordan Freeman. But I do have 2 teenagers who who have done the popular Leap of Faith, so I consider myself schooled. Crash coursed, more like it.
I am also a nerd. So before our weekend Assassin's Creed movie date, I did research. I went through the Assassin's Creed storyline, watched every game trailer, and felt my brain implode. I also found myself going through movie reviews. It was a pretty daunting experience because most of them were on the negative end of the spectrum. Something about how weak the movie plot was, about how the story should've delved more into the Spanish Inquisition past rather than the Animus Experiment present. Picking up the pieces of my brain, I went and told my boys about this. They were unfazed. We were going to watch Assassin's Creed no matter wahat. And I'm like, "Oh, heck, Michael Fassbender's in it --sure, let's go!"
And, boy, was I glad I got so easily swayed!

To the true blue gamer, Assassin's Creed may not have met their standards like most movie translations flop to every video game imaginable. I remember how Doom was criticized. Wait, that was too kind. Doom was adequately bashed.
But from my perspective, Assassin's Creed was amazing!

1. The story line of good versus evil, past versus present may not be the most original, but the storytelling was on point. While some people complained about the unbalanced editing, I found it crisp and clear. Keep in mind that jumping from past to present and back again can be quite confusing. But Assassin's Creed delivered through its simplicity.While I do agree that the Spanish Inquisition past served as better eye candy, for an intro phase in this Assassin's Creed series, the present needed to be played up more. It made the entire plot more believable. I even believed that there could be a cure to the disease called violence.

2. The action was insane! The parkour-heavy fight scene that ran almost 10 minutes had me riveted! The horse-drawn carriage chase scene was incredible. And every one-on-one mano-y-mano was brilliantly choreographed. Case in point, Aguilar's ghost versus Callum Lynch. And don't get me started on Maria's 2-against-1 number. That one almost had me screaming 'Girl Power!' in the theater.

3. Cinematography. Damn, those wide angles! Thanks to the iconic CGI eagle, we were pitched into the landscape of a cruel past. I dig that. From the GoPro shot of a mountainous terrain, to the dramatic caress of a stage of burning bodies, to the rustic dusty skyscrapers and towers specifically built for Aguilar to jump off from.

4. Are you seeing this, cosplayers? The costumers were on point --from the ominous garb to the tattooed skin. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing an imaginary character come to life in its most faithful detail. Heck, I squealed the first time I saw a Morrigan cosplay, thinking, "So that's how you keep that impossinle bustier up..."
Anyway, you should've seen my boys geek out to high heavens every time a hidden blade was unleashed. Kudos to the movie's production designer, seriously.

5. The cliffhanger was done clean. I know that some movies or TV shows have cliffhangers that give too much (I'm looking at you, Marvel) or too little (I'm looking at you The Walking Dead), and that kills the magic all together. Whereas, Assassin's Creed held its breath just enough to make you want a sequel.

Bottomline, even if you're not a gamer, you can enjoy this movie. You can keep up without feeling left out. It also helps that assassins, in all their mysterious glory, can be fascinating and crush-worthy. Oh! Michael Fassbender helped, too. :)

Assassin's Creed. It's still showing. Catch it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Delicious DIY: The Chef's InstaMug Cakes

What if I told you that you can make a cake whenever you want?
And what if I told you that you can make said cake in under 5 minutes?
Would you call the authorities on me and have me strapped in a straightjacket?
Oh, wait 'til I tell you that you can do all this in a mug! YES, A MUG! I must sound painfully crazy to you right no.

But with the innovative genius going on at Rebisco, this kind of astronaut treats technology IS possible. In fact, it exists and it has an awesome name: THE CHEF'S INSTAMUG!
You can make the cake in your own mug. But if you don't have one on hand, the Chef's InstaMug has you covered. The package comes with its own cup and tiny packets of delightful cake-making ingredients.

We chose the Creamy Chunky Mocha Cake to work on. Work --what am I talking about? It was practically play time. The kids had a blast in 6 easy steps.

1. We pulled out the microwavable cup from the box.

2. Then, using the tiny spoon that comes with the pack, we scooped 9 spoonfuls of water into the cup.

3. We added the cake mix and the cake flavor and stirred until the mixture was nice and smooth.

4. As soon as that's done, we microwaved our cake batter at medium-high for one minute.

5. DING! We carefully pulled the cup out and --lo and behold!-- we have a nice fluffy cake in a cup! Like magic!

6. We poured and spread the cake fudge on top of our freshly-baked cake. And, as a finishing touch, topped the delectable masterpiece with cookie bits and choco chunks.

After that, nothing left to do but smack our lips and gobble down our home-made treat. And it tasted fantastic! Fluffy, sweet, and Martha Stewart perfection have never been this effortless.
I guess a demonstration is in order, hmm?


Best DIY ever, right?!
If you're like me and you struggle with baking, The Chef's InstaMug is the cake for you --and your kids. Believe me, they'll love you a thousand fold for this incredible baking breakthrough. Try The Chef's InstaMug today!

Oh! And did I mention that it also comes in a Gooey Chocolate Fudge Cake flavor? YUM!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Canvas Cake Studio: From Conceptualization to Cake Perfection!

I don't know how many times I've blogged about Canvas Cake Studio (formerly Midnight Snacks), but I'm letting loose another one!

Except this time, I'm doing a step-by-step --from Conceptualization to Cake Perfection. Wouldn't that be neat! This way, you can take a complete walkthrough on how you can order your personal, ultra-creative cakes from Canvas. It's really super easy.

STEP 1: Squeeze out those creative juices.

Think of what the celebrant wants. Make your cake idea as personal as possible --from the design to the flavor. Taking my boy Kenji's birthday cake as an example, Miro and I went for a Mr.Bean/Peanuts Crossover design inspired by Kenji's very own Go Animate channel, Can of Beans Productions. He does Mr.Bean and Peanuts funny video edits. How personal can you go, right?
For the flavor, we went with Kenji's all-time love, Oreos and Cream.

STEP 2: Send visual pegs.

This can just be the OC in me, but I'd like to scour the internet for visual pegs that would bring out my idea all the more. It helps the chef, too --especially when I have a tendency to be all over the place when I'm explaining in an excited fashion. You don't have to lay it out, but I do so when my design idea tends to be a little complex. That's mostly my fault. Haha!

STEP 3: Incoming... Canvas Cake Studio brainstorming session.

Canvas Cake Studio will email you back with a price list and a flavor chart. That's the challenging part. All of Canvas' flavors are to-die-for! That's the part where I usually take forever to decide. Canvas chief baker, Larisse, will also send you inputs that can make you cake design even better. That's the amazing part! That level of teamwork hits me all the time. :)

STEP 4: Wait with bated breath until the magic is ready.

Depending on the gravity of difficulty your cake design has, Canvas can finish their masterpiece for a minimum of two weeks. Sometimes even less. They can deliver your cake at your doorstep or you can arrange a pick-up point. See how flexible that is? All for your convenience. Let me warn you now that the first time you see your cake idea as a full-on reality, the emotional impact can be quite severe. get tissues ready for uncontrollable tears of joy. Hehe...

STEP 5: Serve the awesomeness!

What's absolutely cool about Canvas' cakes is that they are centerpieces on their own. Even when you have a too-plain set-up, the whole room just lights up with excitement with the cake sitting there. For example, Kenji had his birthday at his school canteen --his special day falling right smack into a school day. Even with very minimal decor, his cake (and HIM!) became stars of that mini-party.

STEP 6: Save (and Savor) the moment.

I'm big on surprises. So Kenji had no idea what his cake would look like. I'm also big on catching that expression my kids make when they first see their cake. And here is that perfect moment. Look at that smirk! You can tell he's all giddy inside but hiding it in a fluffy blanket of smugness. Haha! He's my boy alright!
I would've taken a picture of the kids eating the cake, too, but that never really happens when I'm serving Canvas cakes. They're so delicious, they disappear waaaay too fast!

There you go! Was this post helpful? I bet it was. Reading through it and it makes me want to order another cake for no apparent reason. :D

If you want it personal, if you want it special, get in touch with Canvas Cake Studio!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ten Telltale Signs That You're Flunking Parenting

Just a few off the top of my head.

1. When people ask you 'How old are your kids?', you provide figures from 5 years ago --and believe them to be true.

2. When, on the rare occasion you buy a present for your children, you buy them something they've outgrown ages ago.

3. When you try and strike a conversation with your kids, there's this air of unnecessary stranger-to-stranger cocktail dinner awkwardness hanging above you all.

4. When you're not around, your children don't look for you. When you're around, they'd feel better if you weren't.

5. When major school events and extra curricular milestones come around, your kids don't even ask if you're attending. They immediately assume you won't.

6. When you break a promise, your kids are fine with that. It's not like it's the first time.

7. When you engage in some physical interaction with your children, your kids give you that look that screams 'Child abuse!'

8. When you FINALLY try to parent them, your kids give you that look that screams 'Who are you to parent us?!'

9. When you look for yourself in your children, you don't find even the slightest smidgen. It's as if they were never your children at all.

10. When the Developmental Psychologist asks your kids to draw a family picture. your image doesn't even make it on the paper. And yet to your kids, the picture is complete.

It's a given that parenting is one tough business. But the simple act of BEING THERE --being a familiar, warm presence in your children's lives --means you've already succeeded most of the way.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kodanda Archery Range Hits the Mark

Painfully late post, I know. But this is worth the wait, believe me.

So last summer break, my son decided to wade out of his 5-year Robotics Camp comfort zone and dive into the unknown that is Archery. We had no idea what we were about to face doing that, but it was summer so we said 'What the heck!'.

So, off we went to Kodanda Archery Range.
And, lo and behold, a discovery: My boy's hidden talent is sharpshooting! Channeling his inner Arrow-HawkEye-Daryl Nixon combo, he went through each session with the drive of a survivor in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. He's pretty good! He was just claiming each target sheet like a boss! (I say this as a proud mom and as a totally impressed spectator sitting behind the glass-covered bleacher)

Of course, it helped loads that he has some really welcoming range mates. Some of whom have already leveled up from hobbyists to legit athletes who compete out of the country.

It helped all the more that he has a coach who saw potential in him and gives him the best kind of training.

My boy did so well in his first few sessions at the range that he was invited to take part in the Kodanda Fun Cup-- an event that puts together all three Kodanda branches for a target challenge. Cool stuff! It was a friendly competition of skills with trophies and a helluva lot of food!

It was his first competition ever and he loved every minute of it. In fact, he's training right now for the upcoming October Cup. :) Talk about drive, huh?

So if you're ever in the mood to change things up with your kid's usual activities, try Archery. Hey, try Kodanda! But I'm telling you now that you gotta prepare yourself for the long haul. When your kid starts getting into this kind of focus... it stays.

You can find the Kodanda Archery Range in Makati Cinema Square, Mall of Asia, and BF Homes.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Finding Originality in Finding Dory

Finding Dory is basically Finding Nemo with role reversals and character changes.

1. Instead of Nemo, the lost one this time around is Dory. With this flip, Nemo and Marlin have taken on the role of the searchers.
2. Instead of a friendly pelican, the necessary air transport for these sea creatures is now a deranged seagull named Becky.
3. Instead of a jowl full of water, Becky conveniently carries an orange water-filled bucket.
4. Instead of the dentist, the accidental abductor is now Sigourney Weaver and her band of marine biologists.
5. Instead of Gil, the daredevil in this sequel is now a stealthy little octopus named Hank.
6. Instead of three sharks, we are gifted with three seals on a rock.
7. Instead of a band of surfing turtles, we have a couple of huge-ass whales and echo locating helping our fishy friends find their way to their missing friends.
8. Instead of a fishing boat climax, it's a delivery truck --with an intense car chase scene, I might add.
9. We got a double treat for the destination of choice in this movie though. Instead of returning to the ocean, there's Cleveland Zoo for Hank and going home to her parents for Dory. But just like before, everybody ends up in the ocean and live happily ever after.

The plot is still the same: Going through great lengths to be reunited with family. I suppose this concept is just so beautiful that Pixar just had to repeat it. It's just disheartening that the sequel feels like an alternative version of the first film instead of a continuing sage. But that's just me. Your kids will still like Finding Dory because the familiar characters are there. And kids love familiarity.

Oh, one last thing. Instead of a cute, bull-headed Nemo, we are presented with a cute, scaredy kitty baby Dory. Baby Dory is the movie highlight for me. Not just because she's so darn cute, but because she managed to really bring the hardships and realities of short term memory loss to light. And that being alone as a child in a strange world can be really heartbreaking. Made me want to hug my kids.
So with all the trappings that went with this movie, Baby Dory is what made it for me.
Other than that, Finding Dory is Finding Nemo. Only Finding Nemo, being the original, is better.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Papier Macheniacs: Turning Lucy Into Heather

When McDonalds bundled their Happy Meals with Peanuts figures during the Peanuts' movie debut, the popular fast food chain never really got around to including the mysterious yet lovable little red-haired girl in the toy mix. Whether the reason was because she was overlooked, or McDonalds just wanted to preserve her enigmatic personality, is beyond us. And we don't really care.

We can make our own little red-haired girl! So there, McDonalds!

It's pretty easy as long as you have doubles in your Happy Meal Peanuts stash. And we kinda do. We have 2 Lucys. Now, who would want two of these sassy, cranky chicks, huh?
So off we go to transform one of our Lucys to Heather, the little red-haired girl.

We whipped out our handy dandy paper mache kit for this project. From there, it's all a matter of sculpting. The big challenge --and I mean, literally BIG-- is Heather's hair. The redhead's hair is all sorts of different compared to Lucy's. So we used a bunch of rolled-up paper to make that mane happen.
We also slathered a layer of tissue and glue for every part of Lucy that we'll need to re-paint to create the perfect Heather figure. You can tell Lucy isn;t exactly happy about the makeover. :P

From a permanently scrunched-up face to a smile of complete and utter sweetness!

Just some quarter turns for your pleasure.

Look, even Charlie Brown approves!
Ah, we are such suckers for puppy love... :)

Do you have toy doubles? Are you tired of one particular toy? Do your own toy transformation with paper mache! You know you want to.