Divergent Film: I’m definitely Prissy

I finally crawled out of the rock I’ve been hiding under to see Divergent. Weee! Because this is an adaptation and because I enjoyed the books a lot, it’s hard to not nitpick at what the movie got right and what it didn’t, or what it stayed faithful to and what it completely upend. (I’m very upset about the absence of Uriah too!) But I’m going to stay away from the whole book vs movie trap and consider the film for it’s own merit, ok? Ok!

1. Shailene Woodley can do no wrong. Love her. Love her!

2. Theo James. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m probably the only one who cried when Kemal Pamuk died in Downton Abbey after only one episode. I wanted more of him. Now I get my wish. I love you, Four! 

3. The casting of Peter and Caleb aka Miles and Ansel aka Sutter and Augustus, it’s all very incestuous.

4. I bet they have weed in Amity 

5. All that blade and needle-sharing really, REALLY bothered me. Do they not have hepatitis or aids or other blood-borne diseases in this dystopian future? The dauntless kids, especially, look very wild and promiscuous.  

If I belonged in that universe, I’d insist on my own faction. The Prissy. We’ll wear pink, opt out of the blood-letting in the choosing ceremony and silently judge everyone else.

Cherie Gil as Diana Vreeland in Full Gallop


I’m a firm believer that everyone has a story worth telling. Everyone is interesting in their own way. Perhaps not interesting enough to be the subject on of a one-person play, but then again, very few people are.

Diana Vreeland, without exception the most fascinating woman that ever was, is, or will be, is one of those few. In Full Gallop, a one-woman play written by Mary Louise Wilson and Mark Hampton, Diana is on the cusp. Back from the four-month Euro-trip she embarked on after being sacked from Vogue, Diana comes to grips with the significant changes in her life with her characteristic aplomb.

The setting is the all-red living room of her New York apartment. It’s not a faithful recreation of the “garden from hell,” but it was still impressive. What was lacking in stage design, Cheri Gil more than made up for with her performance. She was magnificent, truly one of the best actors we have. For such a well-known face and personality, she slipped seamlessly into character and was utterly transformed. It was one of the best pieces of character acting I’ve ever had the privilege of watching.

Full Gallop was absolutely magical. It’s the closest we Diana devotees are ever gonna get to her and all her splendour. Those who are not already obsessed with her or familiar with her life and work may miss a few references here and there, but will still find something to love about the riveting performance and the witty script generously peppered with Diana Vreeland aphorisms. I watched it with my boyfriend, who claimed to have never heard of her before and asked for a quick wiki-length background right before the play began. I told him about her ugly-duckling childhood, her too-handsome husband, her work for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, her red living room, and her ground-breaking work for The Met. Finally, something he’s familiar with. Vreeland’s reach certainly goes beyond fashion and the pages of the glossies she helmed.

The play barely scratches the surface of what made Vreeland the legend that she is. Then again, neither did her 432-paged biography, Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, which I read and loved. Perhaps a life so fully realized and so fabulously lived such as Diana Vreeland will never be done justice in any retelling. Don’t miss Full Gallop. You’ll never forgive yourself!

FULL GALLOP: A Play by Mary Louise Wilson & Mark Hampton
CHERIE GIL as Diana Vreeland
Directed by Bart Guingona

My Own Mann Production’s Full Gallop will run on March 14-15 and March 21-22, 2014 at 8 p.m. and on March 16 and 23 at 4 p.m. at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium at the RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Tickets are at PhP1,500 for orchestra center, PhP1,000 for orchestra and loge, and PhP600 for balcony. Purchase tickets from TICKET WORLD.

Many thanks and much love to my darling boyfriend who has made it his life’s mission to spoil me silly! :D 

Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard: Tropes, Clichés, and a Crap-Load of Literary Allusions


“My family is like a Dickensian novel, Julia. No, it’s worse. We’re a twisted mix of Arthur Miller and John Steinbeck, with a bit of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy thrown in.

“Is it really that bad?”

“Yes, because I have the feeling there are elements of Thomas Hardy lurking below the surface. And you know how much I hate him. Mind-fucking bastard.”

Julia thought about this and hoped for her friend’s sake that the Hardy novel approximating the Rachel Clark experience was more Mayor of Casterbridge than Tess of the D’Urbervilles or, God forbid, Jude the Obscure.


If the above excerpt from Gariel’s Inferno isn’t the clunkiest, most contrived paragraphs you’ve ever read in your life, you have to tell me what books you’ve been reading. I’m genuinely interested.

I’m not a snob. One glance at my Goodreads page will confirm that. I love genre fiction and, as of late, I’ve been devouring romance novels and frothy chick-lits like chocolates. (I mean that figuratively; I don’t really eat chocolates.) So much so that when I take stock of the amount of “trashy” lit I consume in a week, I find it a little disconcerting. Surely I can find a more edifying use of my free time. I’m beginning to suspect my recent trashy-lit reading spree is a way to avoid going to the gym. Like the cliché that I am, I signed up at the beginning of the year and yet I haven’t actually gone. Not once.

When I use the word “trashy” I’m not being derisive. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I like what I like and I feel no need to explain myself. Still, as Emily Gould wrote, “there’s trash and then there’s crap.” Gabriel’s Inferno is crap, so let me start this review in earnest with a disclaimer of sorts. I had just finished reading Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. It was phenomenal! It’s the kind of book that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Naturally, I needed something sufficiently shallow as a literary digestif, if you will. Enter Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard, the first of an erotic romance trilogy. Like 50 Shades, the precursor of this whole mommy-porn genre, Gabriel’s Inferno began as a Twilight fanfic. That should tell you everything you need to know, but read on if you want more.   

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What The Dickens: On Reading The Classics…And Loving It!


“You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since-on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with.” 

I can walk with my head held a little higher now. I finally did it. I popped my Dickens cherry with Great Expectations! I started reading it last year and didn’t finish it until now. As they say, better late than pregnant!  I chose Great Expectations because I knew, even before having read the book, that Miss Havisham was the most compelling female character ever written. (I will not hear a word of dissent, thank you very much) Also, the 1998 contemporary film adaptation by Alfonso Cuaron (with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke) is one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME. I love the art, the clothes, and the soundtrack especially. That was Gwynnie at her absolute best, pre-GOOP. I didn’t mind at all that the novel’s plot had been pretty much spoiled. In fact, I deliberately steered clear of Dickens’ more obscure titles. I’m new at this, so…baby steps.

Is a synopsis even necessary? Here goes one anyway and I’m not gonna hold back on the spoilers because I’m probably the only philistine here:

Great Expectations revolves around an orphan named Pip and his interactions with a host of rich, varied and intriguing characters—a convict with a heart of gold, sainted father-figure Joe, hotshot lawyer Jaggers, BFF Herbert, endearing Aged P, and for course, bitter and more than a little deranged Miss Havisham and her ward Estella, an uppity beauty bred to be the instrument of Miss Havisham’s revenge on the male species. The book follows Pip from childhood well into adulthood, through various changes of fortunes, heartbreaks, tests of character, and a bunch of other things that made me cry. *insert Claire Danes’ ugly cry face here*

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Austenland Sucked But That’s Not The Point


I watched a bootleg copy of this with my very best friends while consuming copious amounts of red wine, Bridget Jones-style. There’s no better way to experience this film than that. Well, unless you’re also dressed in full Regency regalia. Everything’s so much better in costume.

This film was so bad, I loved it! 

Based on Shannon Hale’s fun and frothy chick-lit of the same name, Austenland centers around Jane Hayes (Kerri Russel), an Austen-freak of the worst kind who blows her life savings to go to an Jane Austen-themed park in England. Whereupon, female patrons get to live out their wildest regency fantasies with hunky actors playing amalgams of the different Austen heroes. Maybe not their wildest fantasies. It’s all still very proper and chaste…by modern standards. The proprietress, Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour) maps out a story-line for each of the ladies based on what she thinks they would like.    

Miss Jane Erstwhile, as Jane Hayes is so renamed, is paired with Mr. Nobly (JJ Field), a Mr. Darcy stand-in. He is sufficiently imperious and good-looking, although my friend took to calling him “Ugly Jude Law”. I like him fine, especially that scene where he rips Miss Erstwhile’s skirt and petticoats so she can ride (the horse) astride. Miss Erstwhile, however, seems to be drawn to the stablehand, Martin (Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords). Now he, unlike Mr. Nobly, is not tasked with wooing the ladies and giving them their money’s worth. Or is he?

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My 2013 In Books


The tail end of 2012 has been extremely stressful. It was self-imposed stress for the most part, but it was stressful nonetheless. I made it a goal to read 100 books by the end of the year—roughly 8.333 books a month. Big goal, I know, but I was on track for most months. But come October to December, things got hectic and it ate away at my leisure reading time. Story of my life: born to read, forced to work. Boo.

I thought I could make up for it during my Christmas Holiday but I seemed to have over-estimated my powers of concentration. I ended up with 96 books completed and 16 more left unfinished. Ninety-six isn’t bad, but it felt short of my goal. I’m very, very disappointed with myself. I take this shit way too seriously. 

I’ll do better this year, so help me God. A hundred is a reasonable goal; any less will feel like a regression, any more and I’ll be setting myself up for an even bigger failure, especially since this is going to be a big year for me with a great many things in the works. *fingers crossed* More on that some other time.

I found that keeping track of my reading habits not only forced me to read more, which is always a good thing, but also forced me to be more discriminating about my choices. I’ve been less inclined to waste my time hate-reading, i.e. to read the books I’m sure I’ll hate and see it through the bitter end, just so I could have more legitimate reasons for hating it. I’ve done a lot of that in my lifetime.

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Why I Won’t Be Reading Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy


I think it’s common knowledge by now so I’m gonna go ahead and lay it out there: sweet, lovely, perfect Mark Darcy is dead. Killed in a landmine explosion in Darfur during one of his do-gooder missions. Decent till the very end, that man.

Judging from the internet outcry, I’m far from alone in thinking that killing off Mark was V. bad move on Helen Fielding’s part. However, as far as I know, I’m alone in my boycott. Indeed, many of you, if you haven’t already, will probably buy and read (and maybe even like?) Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy. Traitors! No doubt Fielding will be laughing all the way to the bank while women everywhere are left weeping on the gutter.

As a long standing Bridget Jones fan, I refuse to engage in this sacrilegious, gratuitous, and heart-breaking plot twist. Just, no! I was so looking forward to this third installment, especially since Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason ended with Mark and Bridget together, presumably on track for happy ever after. I’d hope to read about domestic comedies, and ruminations about married love in Bridget’s unique, charming and incredibly funny voice. And yes, I realize Bridget will always be a little bit fat and neurotic but I was also hoping for great triumphs for our plucky heroine, triumphs that were so elusive for her during her chaotic thirties where she was screwing up left and right. With the love, support and calming influence of a man like Mark Darcy to count on, it finally seemed possible for her. That’s the book I would’ve wanted to read.

We get none of that in Mad About The Boy. We have been robbed of a happy ending right alongside Bridget Jones. The wilderness years are NOT over.     

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I’m a little late to that party, aren’t I? No matter. I’m doing this! 

What are you currently reading? If you don't mind me asking :)

oh my. ok. Those Angry Days by Lynne Olson and Plot Against America by Philip Roth. These are better read together, imo. :D I started Plot Against America many, many months ago but I never finished it. When I started reading Those Angry Days I just had this strong urge to pick up Plot again.  Tampa by Alissa Nutting. OMG!!!!! EWWWWWW!!!! THIS BOOK!!!!!! I CAN’T STOP READING IT!!!

Fangirl-ing Over Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl


I don’t even know where to begin. Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl resonated so much and tugged on so many heartstrings that I would intermittently take quick pauses between reading to clutch the book tightly to my chest and squeal / sniffle / sigh tenderly. I am utterly besotted.

The story revolves around Cath, a college freshman and the mousier, more timid half of a twin—the “Clark Kent” to twin sister Wren’s “Superman.” Sounds normal enough, but she also happens to belong to that special subset of humanity known for social awkwardness and an unhealthy and all-consuming obsession with fictional worlds and characters: the fangirl. Anyone who is, who was or who knows a fangirl can imagine all too well what sorts of predicaments she gets into. The book offers a pretty spot-on depiction of the often misunderstood, sometimes derided world of fangirls, particularly slash fanfiction-writing fangirls such as Cath. I don’t think there has been anything like this in YA before.

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Paul Rudnick’s Gorgeous: Inner Beauty is Overrated; This Book is Not

image“Dysmorphia is when someone looks in the mirror, and sees something else. While I studied my own whatever I was, I decided that maybe everyone has at least a touch of dysmorphia; maybe it’s impossible for anyone to ever truly know what they look like.”

From living an obscure life of minimum wage and trailer parks, Becky Randall is suddenly and mysteriously whisked off to glamorous NYC by Tom Kelly, a reclusive fashion designer extraordinaire. With a bit of magic and haute couture he transforms the painfully average Becky to the gorgeous Rebecca, the most beautiful woman in the world. Vogue and Hollywood soon come a-calling and with her face as her passport, Becky navigates a dazzling new world of photo shoots, private jets and chi-chi soirees. 

Because this is a fairytale, there is a prince charming, who is in fact the heir to the British throne. Handsome like a prince ought to be and surprisingly—and endearingly goofy, Prince Gregory soon falls for Becky. Or is it the impossibly beautiful Rebecca he loves? High jinx ensues. 

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Simon & Schuster followed me.

I tried to be cool about it but just can’t. I’m ridiculously happy. I better get crackin’ on the layout redesign. 


Spine poetry for Book Soulmate’s Book-A-Day challenge.