Love me, Tony Stark. Please?

So here we are five years later, staring down the barrel of yet another Spider-man reboot, hoping against hope Marvel will make it alright. After all, this is the studio that made us fall for a homicidal talking raccoon. Anything is possible.

The best way to kill a bug is to douse it with something flammable and set it on fire. Say what you want, it’s the most satisfying feeling, ever. This, in effect, is what Marvel Studios has accomplished with Spider-man: Homecoming. Pretty sure this sentiment is shared by a few when it comes to the second reboot of the Spider-man franchise.  Not even the combined charms of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone could overcome the hot mess that was Jamie Foxx’s Electro.

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White Noise

We’d driven up north to Tobermory, a town at the tip of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, for an extended weekend getaway. It’s four hours away from Toronto, which led me to realize that I am a big fan of trains and planes, but not automobiles. Not for long distance travel, anyway.

I like to distract myself when I travel – a good book, maybe a couple episodes of a good show, a nap. Not this time around. As designated navigator (navigatrix?) for this particular road trip, staying awake and focused for the whole trip was an occupational hazard.

Things can go south pretty quickly when you’re in the middle of Ontario farmland and there are pockets of dead space. No phone signal? Quelle horreur! Not too horreur, of course. I smugly congratulated myself for growing up analog and having the foresight to download a map of the area before starting out. Who needs step-by-step directions in real-time?  Over-dependence on tech makes people pansies.

Or so I thought.

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Charlatans Have Internet Too

Fairy tales are stories we tell children for the sake of their self preservation. Hansel and Gretel is a cautionary tale – adults can be awful, always leave a trail for your parents to follow and respect people’s homes. Jack and the Beanstalk is another – the family cow is important, ensure you get the proper return for your investment, stealing is lucrative and so is upper body strength. Rapunzel is about freeing yourself and the power of true love, Puss in Boots is about dressing for success and harnessing the power of hubris. They’re not always lessons on how to be a good person, but they are almost always about survival, because life will always have monsters. Evil witches in houses made of candy drops and gingerbread still exist, only these days they’re seemingly harmless gentlemen in windowless white vans, handing out candies to children.

Quite a few of them live online, like the Nigerian Prince, a vampire who uses e-mail to promise a substantial cut of his money in exchange for helping him move it out of the country. It will of course involve a very small fee, and anyone who falls for it eventually keeps paying all these small fees, waiting for the big pay-off, getting drained of their life savings in the process. Imposters love e-mail. A number of them use it to claim your Apple/Paypal/Netflix account is inactive, leading you down a path that eventually ends in forking over sensitive information like your birthdate, the high school you went to and your mother’s maiden name, before you realize you don’t even have an Apple account. These fishermen – phishers, because we’re stylish – lay your life wide open for identity theft and before you know it someone is spending vast amounts of money in your name and your credit rating is shot to hell along with your dreams of owning a car and a decent home.

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Crossing Over

Some people hate the Trump administration so much, they say they’ll move to Canada. It’s not hard to do, a drunken group of American revellers once floated down to Canada by mistake. At last year’s annual Port Huron Float Down, the winds were so strong it pushed partiers  down the St. Clair river, stranding them in Canadian waters without documentation, prompting the Coast Guard to come to their rescue.

America’s crackdown on illegal immigrants is getting a number of people hot under the collar. Not that millions are fleeing in droves, but there’s certainly been an uptick in illegal immigrants crossing over the US border into Canada on foot. It’s not as easy as floating down a river by mistake, and no one will gun you down the way they do down Mexico way, but it can still be hazardous to one’s health.  In Northern Minnesota, Mavis Otutseye, a Ghanaian woman, was found frozen to death in a field half a mile away from a Canadian border town. Authorities believe she may have been trying to cross over illegally. When they learned she had plans to visit her daughter in Toronto who’d just given birth, it became the biggest human interest story of the week, and the finger pointing began. Death does that.

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Divided We Stand

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This is my favorite Marawi meme.  If I could, this  would be next week’s column. Just this meme, mic drop. But I can’t. I shouldn’t let my editors – make that award-winning editors – down. Not after the MetroPost got named the best weekly community paper in Visayas by the Philippine Press Institute for 2016, no sir. Not when an award-winning weekly actually lets me have a byline, no some questions asked. Congratulations, Ma’am Irma and Sir Alex! Y’all better recognize.

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Proud and Prejudiced

The Germans have a word for that unique sort of unseemly glee we’ve all experienced at seeing someone fall flat on their face. It’s called schadenfreude, and it’s been in the air since the results of the Bar Exams were released. While the provincial side dances around joyously to the Cece Peniston remix of Finally, the “Imperial Manila” side is going “meh, fluke, provinces are dumb,” and the rest of us who haven’t completely lost our minds are sitting courtside with bags of popcorn, cheering as flamethrowers are lit. Welcome to the Thunderdome.Read More »

Taste the Rainbow

Last week, Starbucks debuted a limited edition drink called the Unicorn Frappucino. The name alone evoked magic and cotton candy, which sounds interesting on paper, but turned out to be all sorts of extra. I’ve downed my fair share of bubble teas that have run the gamut of colours, but even this was just a little much too much.

The Unicorn Frappucino (April 18-23, 2017, RIP) was a blended drink that was created to dazzle the eye.  It had a pink, sparkly, mango-flavoured cream base, was laced with a “pleasantly sour” blue ripple and, as a final flourish, topped with whipped cream and a light dusting of pink “fairy dust.” In other words, it looked like someone took major elements of gay pride, put it in a blender, poured it in a venti cup and topped it with diabetes. Read More »

Addicted to Life

Death as a concept was introduced by a slightly batty friend of my parents who had been asked to babysit. I don’t remember all the details, I just remember her earnest explanation of war and how everyone was eventually going to kick the bucket. I wasn’t ready. (I’m still not ready.) My parents came home to a five-year-old wailing her head off. I don’t want you to die! They never asked her to babysit again.

Realizing no one lives forever was my version of being told Santa Claus wasn’t real. Now that I knew life was finite, I dedicated the rest of my life to finding ways to prolong my time on earth without adding unnecessary risks.  Ha! I wish. I don’t smoke and I drink very little, but my true vices are sugar and salt. Both of these are just as likely to steer me on my way to kingdom come while a dozen nutritionists look on in horror, but what a way to go, eh?

Two weeks ago, Siquijor went from a quiet, untouched paradise to a scary, dangerous place. Two promising young women were cut down in the prime of their lives, all because a crazy bloke was running around tripping balls, leaving devastation in his wake. It hit very close to home, because this is the sort of thing that is only supposed to occur in a gritty metropolis, not a magical, carefree island like Siquijor. Most of the time we shrug off these scenarios, believing they will never happen to us or anyone we know.  Then tragedy strikes and it suddenly feels like we’re all just waiting for a piano to fall on our heads.

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(You’ve Got Me Feeling) Emulsions

 

Opposites often attract, which in my case happens to be true. Nowhere is the disparity between our characters more obvious than the bathroom. The amount of cleansing stuff I have versus that of my husband’s is staggering. In the shower alone I have washes, creams, gels and potions for every conceivable part of the body – hair, face, body, hands, feet. He has the basics: soap and shampoo. That’s it. By comparison he makes me look like the most frivolous female on the face of the earth.

He’s hirsute by choice – the tactful would describe his look as lumbersexual, I prefer the phrase “heavy metal Jesus” – which gives him ample reason to get into the fun stuff guys get to use now. There’s no shortage of them. I’m forever showing him options for beard oil, beard balm, beard softeners, waxes, aftershaves, combs, shaving brushes made of badger hair. Guys have so much fun stuff to try out in this day and age, but he refuses to succumb to the siren call of the “trendy hipster.” I admire his fortitude. What is it with men and their ability to literally live without frippery?

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Phoning it In

If I was a movie character, I would be Sid from Toy Story. My things have a weird habit of burrowing into the bottom recesses of my satchel whenever I’m fishing around for anything like keys, a brush or a tube of lip balm. Inanimate objects tremble in fear whenever I move to pick them up. I’m klutzy, I drop stuff all the time and I’m not the best phone caretaker in the world.

It doesn’t start out that way, of course. Like all relationships, phone ownership always starts out with a ton of love, care and understanding. With a brand new phone, I exercise extreme caution, treating it like a baby – fed, burped, cleaned, prodded, cooed at every day. Every little bump and possible mishap elicits frantic apologies and maybe even a few neurotic kisses. It grows on me and then, as is usual in a relationship, things start getting taken for granted and the slow slide towards eventual destruction begins.

My first phone was a Nokia 3210. It was an awesome piece of work. Slim enough to slip into a back pocket, streamlined enough not to look like a tragic bar of soap, hardy enough to keep going for days on a single charge. These days, that kind of battery life is a myth. Anyway, I dropped it by accident way too often than was healthy, and it got to a point where it would literally fly apart each time it hit the floor. Its battery would be on one end of the room, the casing on the opposite side, the keypad somewhere under the couch. Took a licking and kept on ticking, that 3210. It was basically Chuck Norris.

It seemed prescient when Nokia announced they were bringing back their classic 3310. I was pretty stoked about this, because a return to “dumb phones” seemed like a refreshing change of pace. Being plugged in 24/7 can get exhausting. In my head I figured they’d dust off whatever boxes of phones they didn’t manage to move twenty years ago, and just offer those up for sale, but no. The new 3310 shares a passing resemblance to the old one, but this is not the phone of yore. It’s a pimped-out imposter dressed in a similar outfit. It’s got a camera, data capabilities and Snake, except Snake is now in colour.  I wanted the phone of yesteryear, no bells, no whistles, no rear camera, but I suppose nostalgia can only go so far.

Now, my Galaxy S3 is a few months shy of its sixth year and the truck driver who gives me a lift from work thinks my phone is a piece of crap. It’s certainly seen better days – beside the gleaming polish of his iPhone 6 it looks like a candidate for the junk heap – but I don’t care. I glory in the broken-downness of it. I complain about its stupid auto-correct and I think it’s gotten as slow as all get-out, but deep inside I love my S3. You know the moment you lose an iPhone 6S that you’ll never see it again but you can’t say the same for a cracked S3. (I wouldn’t be surprised if someone paid me to take it back.)

When it comes to tech, I apply the same strategy my father has for his house slippers: use it into the ground until it conks out, maybe try to resuscitate it with lots of duct tape and a prayer, then when it becomes painfully obvious that it’s given up the ghost, set it aside for the next big thing.  I’ve been fortunate in my choice of phones so far, but the end may be nigh.