Sunday, July 31, 2016

"She Used To Be Mine" by Sara Bareilles

I discovered this song about a week ago and I have been hooked ever since. It is written and sung so beautifully by the incredibly talented Sara Bareilles.

video uploaded by SaraBareillesVEVO

She wrote this song for the musical Waitress (for which she got a Tony nomination for Best Score and two Drama Desk nominations for Best Music and Best Lyrics). This version is taken from her album What's Inside: Songs from Waitress and I now intend to get a copy of this album.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The board game addiction continues :)

Board gaming (and tabletop gaming) now seems to have become my main hobby. I probably meet up with friends 3-4 times a month - sometimes more - to play games, both new ones that I had never played before and old ones that I am pretty familiar with.

I had been planning to get Castles of Burgundy for a while now because it is ranked #9 on boardgamegeek. As it turns out, one of my friends has this game so I got to play it. It's very complicated but once you get the hang of it, it becomes really interesting. It does make use of dice but somehow, strategy still plays a huge part, reducing the impact of luck of the dice roll. Shockingly, despite playing Castles of Burgundy for the first time, I ended up winning. Wow!

photo from

That same day, a couple of new friends introduced The Castles of Mad King Ludwig (what an interesting and long name for a game). This game is interesting because aside from figuring out what kind of rooms to build to maximize the points they earn, players also gets to sell their services to build rooms for the other players. You have to find the right balance between selling your services at too high a cost that prevents other players from buying rooms while making sure no one takes the rooms you want to build for yourself. I really enjoyed this game too and I was tremendously surprised that I also won this game. All four players were playing The Castles of Mad King Ludwig for the first time and the board game owner actually said that we had very good scores for first-timers.

photo from

Another game I played for the first time this this month and won was Tokaido. This is a relatively quick and easy game and while it still requires strategy to maximize points, it isn't as intense as other games. I played it for the first time using the regular board in Ludo Cafe but when I met up with my board gaming friends, one of them actually had the Collector's Edition (kickstarter version) with its uber-cool pre-painted minis, larger board, metallic coins, and awesome cards. The Kickstarter edition kind of spoils you because after playing it, you almost don't want to play with the normal version anymore. :)

photo from

Other games I got play for the first time were Puerto Rico, La Granja, and Above and Below. I actually placed third in all these games, but I think I forgot to claim my extra point in one round of Puerto Rico that could have given me second place. :) When I played La Granja, I was playing it for the first time with people who had all played it just days before and my score was apparently higher than the score of the winner of that first game. I guess that makes my third place finish not so bad. I also played the very popular Exploding Kittens (I won one game and lost the second game badly because I kept drawing the exploding kitten card LOL). I also got to play Concordia again. While I had played it once, we played with the wrong rules so I guess you can say I was playing it properly for the first time.

I also got to play many other games that I had played before: 7 Wonders, Istanbul, Splendor, Stone Age, and Bruges. It now seems that because I play board and tabletop games so often, I have gotten a lot better at strategizing and getting solid scores. I just did a count and it seems I won 13 of the last 25 games I played. Wow! I am pretty sure I won't be able to maintain this very high winning percentage but it's good to know that my board gaming skills have improved.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Congratulations, Mika Reyes!

Mika Reyes was just named as the 7th and last Filipino player to join the Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Star team that will compete in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship that will be held in Manila in October. Way to go, Mika!

This really does seem to be Mika Reyes' year. She was key in helping DLSU win the UAAP Women's Volleyball tournament a couple of months ago, giving her a third UAAP Women's Volleyball championship. This led to a series of TV and even radio appearances: ASAP, Gandang Gabi Vice, Tonight with Boy Abunda, Showtime and MOR. A few weeks ago, she was named as the Philippine Superliga Ambassador. And now, she joins Rachel Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Kim Fajardo, Jaja Santiago, Jen Reyes, and Frances Molina as the Filipino contingent that will compete with some incredibly strong volleyball clubs from all over the world (they will be joined by seven imports). Whatever happens in that tournament, I am sure it will be a truly amazing experience for all these seven ladies).

The cool thing too is that Mika's team in the PSL, the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, remain undefeated so far, having beaten extremely strong teams like RC Cola-Army and Petron twice already. While a championship trophy is definitely not guaranteed, they do have a fighting chance. If Mika's good fortune continues this year, she may end up with a PSL trophy as well. (I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.) Congratulations, Mika!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Movie-watching 2016 part 3

Star Trek Beyond

Of all the Star Trek reboots that have come out, I think the first one is still my favorite. That said, I did find this latest installment entertaining even amidst the many strange cracks in the story. SPOILER ALERT: please stop reading now if you don't want to read more about Star Trek Beyond. I guess I just found it a bit unbelievable that a ship that was in ruins for ages and a motorcycle that hadn't been used in centuries would be made to work, and work extremely well. I also found it strange and unbelievable how easy it was to destroy Krall's uber-cool space fleet. As fun as that scene was, I thought the loud music was just going to throw the ships out of whack; I didn't think the ships would start exploding. I can still get past all these things though because I like the cast and I'm a sucker for sci-fi action films set in outer space.

Finding Dory

This is the first movie I watched on 3D in a long time, but that was because the 3D screening had the best schedule when I took my nephew to see it. Finding Dory is entertaining but definitely not as good as Finding Nemo. In fact, it's a bit of a step-down from other Pixar films like Up, Inside Out, Wall-E and the Toy Story series. This comment would sound like scathing criticism except that Pixar has just set an incredibly high bar with its previous films, most of which have won the Oscar Best Animation award and are among the best movies in the last 20 years. Finding Dory is still a really good animated film and beats out a lot of other non-Pixar, non-Disney movies. The animation is superb and the characters are quirky, interesting, and funny. My gripe though is that I feel that Dory was made into some kind of wonderfish in that she could achieve whatever it is she wanted to achieve, and that somehow made the character and story development feel a bit lazy. It was almost like they could write whatever crazy, impossible situation and Dory would somehow figure out how to resolve things. Nevertheless, it was still good fun.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

My nephew really wanted to watch this so I took him. It's really for kids and teens. The story isn't that sophisticated but as someone who grew up watching TMNT on TV back in the 90s, it was pretty cool and a bit nostalgic to see Bebop and Rocksteady. And the Turtle Van. This movie is full of fun action sequences and cool effects. It was interesting to realize later on in the movie why it is entitled as such. I am guessing there will be another installment to this movie series.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

July hodgepodge

The highlight of the month was catching up with two of my closest and dearest friends, Amy and Duncan, along with their kids. I last saw Amy 2 years ago while I last saw Duncan a couple of years before that. I hadn't seen the two of them at the same time since maybe the mid-2000s. They were staying in the Ortigas area and since I didn't want them to brave Manila traffic, I volunteered to meet them there. We meet up in Podium and Amy decided that we would have dinner in Bonifacio because it served Filipino food. The great thing about great friends is that even if you don't see each other in years, when you finally do, you just pick up so easily and comfortably from where you left off.

We got to spend a couple of hours together over dinner before they had to call it a night. Before heading home, I decided to get some food from places I don't normally get to visit. I got a cronut and a carrot cake from Wildflour (the cronut wasn't as good as I remember the Wildflour cronut being, while the carrot cake was decent although a bit on the sweet side), the stuffed chicken pasta from Gino's Brick Oven Pizza (the price went up since I was here last), and brewed coffee from Figaro (it's been a while since I enjoyed their locally grown coffee).

I also purchased a new shoe cabinet. My previous one had been broken for a while now but I didn't feel the need to replace it. That is, until I visited SM Our Home recently and found this shoe cabinet that had a mirror on its sliding door. It was on the expensive side but it was the only one I had seen in the last few years that I was interested in getting so after thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I finally made my purchase. Good timing too because SM was on sale so I got it at 10% discount. Cool!

My recent spending (including my Singapore shopping spree) must have been noticed by my credit card provider because when I went online to check my outstanding balance, I noticed that my credit limit had increased by almost 70%. Whoa! While high credit limits aren't always the best thing for people who can't control their spending, I am generally pretty good when it comes to managing my expenses. A higher credit limit also comes in pretty handy when you need to make big purchases.

Oh and I am pretty excited that the latest season of Suits already started. This is the first time in a long time that I have been eagerly anticipating a TV series. The first two episodes have been really interesting so far, and the big twist in the first episode has me really curious how this season is going to unfold and what will happen to Mike, Harvey, and the rest of the characters.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Phish Food!

My S&R membership has finally paid off! I posted before that I got S&R membership because I found out from a friend that they carried Ben & Jerry's Phish Food, one of my all-time favorite ice cream flavors. It wasn't in stock during my first shopping trip there but it was available when I returned last weekend. Awesome!

I can't remember the last time that I had Phish Food. There was a time - maybe a decade ago? - that Rustan's Supermarket carried it along with other Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavors. It must not have been popular with the grocers - maybe its weird name made people stay away - because while Rustan's still sells Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Phish Food is no longer available there. After years of pining for Phish Food, I ended up getting three pints at S&R. I gotta say that after making my purchase, I suddenly had a slight concern that maybe my memory was amiss and that I would end up not enjoying this ice cream as much as I thought I did. That doubt disappeared after my first spoonful. This chocolate ice cream with gooey marshmallow, caramel swirls and fish-shaped chocolate chunks is really very good.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tina Turner and the Ikettes

I discovered this video a while back and even after watching it many times, it still puts me in a good mood. The choreography is not as complex as many routines we see nowadays but Tina Turner and the Ikettes just look like they are having so much fun and joy while performing that their energy becomes infectious. It helps too that the music is just so upbeat. It's a perfect way to open a show and get everyone excited.

video uploaded in youtube by TrelleStar

Tina Turner is truly a legend and one of the best stage performers of all time.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Congratulations, Andy and Serena!

Every tennis Grand Slam event now seems to be an opportunity for an important milestone to be set. The recently-concluded Wimbledon tournament was no exception. On the men's side, Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon and third major title. As a tennis fan, I can't help but wonder how many more Grand Slam titles he could have won if he he didn't have to face Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, all of whom have won an astounding 43 of the last 53 Grand Slam events and together have had a stranglehold on the world #1 ranking since 2004. While Andy may be a far fourth among the Big Four, his continued hold over the #2 ranking and his appearance in the finals of all Grand Slam events this year prove that he is clearly a cut above everyone else. I'm just happy that Andy's win-loss record in major finals has now slightly improved. He has played in 11 Grand Slam finals but has lost 8 times - all of them to the tennis big three - and won only 3 (including his latest Wimbledon trophy). If anyone needed and deserved a trophy after getting close to many times, it's Andy.

On the women's side, Serena Williams just tied Steffi Graf's open era record by winning Wimbledon and claiming her 22nd Grand Slam singles title. After succumbing to immense pressure in the last three major events, she finally shook off the nerves and the lofty expectations and achieved history. When she won her 17th Grand Slam singles title, making her one short of the number that the legendary players Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert had, it took her four tries to tie their record but she she went on to win four in a row right after that, bringing her total to 21. Now that she has tied Steffi's record, again on her fourth attempt, she may just win another succession of Grand Slam titles and break the all-time record of 24 held by Margaret Court. Serena is now also only 8 weeks away from breaking another Steffi record of consecutive weeks at #1 (on the women's tour). I still don't see anyone in women's tennis capable of taking over the reins from Williams so who knows what other records she will have when she finally retires.


As a Steffi Graf fan, I am a bit sad that her records are now being broken one after the other but at least she will always have the Golden Slam - all four major titles + Olympic Gold, all in the same year! - which to date has not been matched by anyone else. Last year, Serena was close to a calendar Grand Slam last year but stumbled at the final hurdle, so close to the finish line. This year, Novak Djokovic had a chance to win a calendar Grand Slam by winning the first two. It is also an Olympic year, so he had a shot at Golden Slam glory. Alas, it was not meant to be as he was stunned in the third round by Sam Querrey. What's interesting to note is that Serena won 4 in a row and Novak also won 4 in a row before they both lost, eliminating their chances to win a calendar Grand Slam. I have written about this in the past, but four in a row doesn't carry the same degree of difficulty or psychologically pressure as a calendar Grand Slam. Either, or even both, of them, can still achieve it, but based on what we've seen, it definitely won't be easy.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

A day in BGC

Last weekend, I needed to run a mid-morning errand in BGC. Since I had to be there anyway, I decided to do a few things in the area that I had been wanting to do for a while. First up was to have brunch at Kuppa. I hadn't been to Kuppa for a while and I enjoy the food and the coffee here. The cool thing was that the dish I wanted, The Englishman (sausages, bacon, eggs, potatoes, beans, mushrooms and toast) is part of the weekend all-day breakfast selection and as such, it comes with free coffee. No need for me to shell out more money for my caffeine fix. Awesome!

I then walked a couple of blocks to MC Home Depot to look for shops that did custom countertop cabinets. There seems to be only one shop there that does these. I showed them the design I came up with years ago and they said that I could just scan my design and send it to them so they can send me a quote. This plan of mine has been several years in the making so I hope I can finally get my cabinet sorted out.

At this point, it was right smack in the middle of the afternoon and the sun was blazing so I figured out I would look for a place to enjoy a cool dessert. I somehow ended up finding my way to Bonifacio Stopover where I spotted Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe on the 3rd floor. I ordered their regular Milk Redbean Bingsu (P175) and I really enjoyed it.

To close out my afternoon, I decided to go to S&R and apply for membership. There was one primary reason for this: I had heard from friends that they sometimes have Ben & Jerry's Phish Food Ice Cream here, and that is one of my absolute favorite ice cream flavors. Unfortunately, when I was there, this particular flavor was not in stock. Nevertheless, I still bought a few bags worth of stuff. The cool thing was that their apple pie was on a buy one, take one promo, and P299.95 for both pies was a deal I just couldn't refuse. Hopefully, they stock up soon on Phish Food since I have been wanting to have that ice cream again in a really long time.