The Kite Runner

26 05 2009

the kite runnerLooking back, I realized that I had a fairly decent childhood. I never suffered hard labour, was sent to a good private school, provided roof over my head, was bought clothes when I asked, more than enough food and lived in a just society. I look back with morose realization that not every child have a happy childhood like I had. Reading The Kite Runner made this more true.

Hassan is an illiterate servant boy whose harelip handicap never stopped him from being an energetic child. He wakes up early in the morning to help his father tend to their masters. His mother left him five days after he was born to join a travelling entertainment group. She never touched her son once. Hassan’s primary responsibility is to care for a boy his age, named Amir.

While Amir is away for school, Hassan sees to it that all his chores in the mansion are done in time for Amir’s return. You see, Hassan’s best friend is also his master. He looks up to him and cherishes every moment with him. His respect is non-compared to anyone.

In return, Amir reads to Hassan and shares with him his used toys and clothes. He also plays with him a lot while sharing his stories about school and his occasional travel with his businessman father (whom he calls Baba). But Amir is a mischievous child that sometimes plays to Hassan’s limitations. Once, he was asked by his servant boy what imbecile meant, a word he heard Amir say while reading aloud from a book. He toyed with his servant (or Hazara in Afghani), that it meant intelligent. “I’ll use it in a sentence for you” Amir said, “When it comes to words, Hassan is an imbecile.”

He would often challenge his Hazara but never once did Hassan fight back, even if the situation deserved it. It was always like that; Amir wins in mostly anything only because Hassan lets him or because he was born with that privelage. He also had no worries about the neighbourhood bullies, because if there is anything more certain in his life, it’s Hassan’s protection. The young Hazara loves his Pashtun master unconditionally.

“Yes Father,” Hassan would mumble, looking down at his feet. But he never told on me. Never told that the mirror, like shooting walnuts at the neighbor’s dog, was always my idea.

The Kite Runner carries on a grand heartbreaking story about cowardice, betrayal, remorse, and above all, friendship. It tells a story about a remarkable young Hazara who sacrifices what little he has to save his best friend. A friend who was reckless with their relationship and who will ultimately be haunted by things he left unspoken.

Set in pre-war torn Afghanistan, author Khaled Hosseini writes a compelling novel about the caste system that divides masters and servants. Though it includes a background of the Afghanistan plight, the story weaves in and out to emphasize the two protagonist. It speaks of the pain of the narrator as he travels his life with a guilt that would never leave him.

Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words.
Mine was Baba.
His was Amir. My name.

I love this book very much and I must say that the love entailed respect. I think there are a few novels that teaches you to be thankful and this is one of them. It took only a day for me to finish it and the day is spent with interludes of applause and sentiments. I was amazed with the young Hazara’s valour which raised him higher than that of the bourgeois he serves or the part-royalty he chose for a best friend. His character spoke eloquently of humanity and simple rules we can go by in life.

But like the real world, life is not fair in The Kite Runner. Life will be unjust to our servant boy; to the most cruel way possible. Yet before the story ends, we realize that there’s an extraordinary way for those who hurt him to be good again. Somehow, the ties that bind Hassan and Amir will live longer and stronger than they would ever know.

This book holds an incredible story … a thousand times over.

Notes:

The Kite Runner

First novel of Khaled Hosseini, a Californian physician who is originally from Kabul, Afghanistan 

Published by Riverhead Books

ISBN 1-57322-245-3

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Pensive

25 05 2009

It has been a very still night. The dark shadow of trees from a distance is not moved by the nonexistent air. The heavens are decked with clouds and the humidity is mugging. If there was a moon tonight, I wouldn’t know. I’m listening to the Act II, Scene 13 of the opera Agrippina (Pensieri, Voi Mi Tormentate). It’s a beautiful aria but it would have been more moving and profound if it was raining.

rorschach inkblot I stood in my terrace staring at the beautiful night waiting for a breeze to come by. The city has been asleep for hours and the very little calm it offers sinks to my senses with ease. I need to cleanse my spirit, the kind that does not relate to religion, just me and my state of being.

The horizon flashed a vision of a plane gaining altitude. It looks stunning; I can say this now because of the vast distance that disassociate me from its noise. People carry on with their comings and goings. I insist to stay put. I breathe in more fresh air and I soothed my mind further. Very little thought course through my mind, I try not to be bothered.

I should be sleeping, I know. But the night is too tempting I can’t just sleep it off. It’s not everyday you get this calm, it would be such a waste to just let it go.

The thing about the darkness is it hides you. It seeps through every corner and lets you rest in its arms. You are not troubled with the many things that surrounds you, it tucks the nuisance away. The very little light that tries to grapple to every edge it may reach is still weak compared to the vast night. Unlike what most people think, the night is safe. We are the ones that bring it destructive meaning. We are the ones that disgrace it. If anything, the night is a friend; it is a peaceful shield,  a calm interlude and a seemingly suspended moment.

The night continues to be still and I’m dreaming of rain. Hah! Dreaming, I’m not even in my bed.

Currently listening to “Moonlight” (Piano Sonata No.14, Op. 27, In C-Sharp Minor) via Launchcast





Fried Day

22 05 2009

I was supposed to be writing a movie review today. Instead I got stuck running errands for documents to be processed. I had to run to the bank, post office, submit documents for my social security and get my birth certificate photocopied. I’ve forgotten the tedium of the system, how slow the lines move and how short my patience can get.

I had to commute by myself in order to run my plan without a snag. I swear it’s such a drag and the weather is not at all accommodating (been sweating like a pig, this humidity is suffocating). Hopefully before the date set for June all will be well and I don’t have to cram or rush on things.

Towards the end of the day, a bunch of friends asked if I wanted to join them have an early dinner in Teriyaki Boy. I gladly said ‘yes’, took a cab as soon as my work was over and splashed on a bit of cologne. I ordered Kani Salad and Spicy Salmon Gunkan –  which has always been my favorite – and asked every one what they’ve been up to. We had a very nice time and decided to jump to the next restaurant for our dessert. I recommended Via Mare (so we can sample on some local sweets) and everyone was happy to follow. The raucous story-swapping continued and summed to four noisy restaurateurs loaded with sugar.

Soon after, we all separated ways. The rest headed for home but I went back to the office to look into my email and created a list for tomorrows ‘to do’.

Why do I insist on these things?

Listening to Scar Tissue by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers via Launchcast





Pen Over Me

20 05 2009

Something interestingly weird happened last Thursday.

I was processing some important documents when they had to bring to my attention that they will need further verification. It was odd because no other verification is needed when the specimen is right in front of them, meaning me.

Apparently my handwriting changed. So someone had to be called to pull up my files for them to look at stock pictures of me and and the person standing in front of them. Unless they think I’m an uber-high tech robot then there is no reason to fear that I’m not the real me. The whole hoopla stemmed from my handwriting circa 2006 and after close scrutiny it was concluded that it was waaay too different for them to provide me a 100% appearance and clearance. So what am I supposed to say, I misplaced my real hands so I brought this one instead? Duh.

Eventually I had to prove to them that I’m no phony. So there I was staring at my old handwritings and trying to replicate it. Two people ogled me while trying to achieve this so it was a little nerve wracking. A few tries later, they concluded that it is no way near the handwriting of the person who signed the documents last 2006. What the f$%^!? I wanted to tell them to walk me through the metal detector to make sure that I’m me and the person who signed the documents years ago is the same person signing in today. I sat in the corner fuming after they said they still need to deliberate.

I could not be bothered by this. I swear I am me. And just because I can’t write or sign or fart the same way three years ago, doesn’t mean a cyborg walked in in my behalf.

The shenanigan continued followed by several penmanship tests. I grew grumpy, close to chucking a paper weight in the window and hurling the idiotic old hag out, when alas! The penmanship I had last 2006 sprang to life. I gave them a total of 4 specimens to be placed on record and I was out of the office in no time. I also asked that I be finger printed, because unless this b.s. procedure change, I would have to haul a lawyer next time.

I need a shrink.

Currently listening to Take A Picture by Filter followed by Soul To Squeeze by Red Hot Chilli Pepers via Launchcast





Angels and Demons

15 05 2009

angels-demons-movie-posterIt was a tall order: don’t mess this up the same way you did DaVinci Code. And somehow, they listened. They, meaning Akiva Goldsman (writer) and Ron Howard (director).

Although the Angels and Demons movie becames the sequel, as opposed to Angels and Demons the prequel to the Davinci Code, the subtle change did not affect the entirety of the product. To those who read the books, it still is a fleeting and fixable frustration, given that the result reenergizes the outcome.

The story starts off with the quintessential agnostic Robert Langdon receiving news that the organization he previously offended needs his help. He soon finds himself running all over art-loaded Rome to solve the mystery of the missing Prefiriti (or the favoured future Pontiffs). While the Papal Conclave is in session, the Vatican is protected by the Swiss Guards and seemingly lead by the Camerlengo (the previous Pope’s assistant played by the superb Ewan McGregor).

AEwan McGregor (right) as the Camerlengofter the kidnapping of the four top candidate predecessor of the Papacy, they soon realize that the Illuminati has come back for their very much awaited vengeance. And via the four primordial elements (earth, wind, fire and water) they will conclude the long battle between science and religion by fulfilling the “Path of Illumination” using an antimatter.

The prequel/ sequel – which ever appeals to you – is subverted by the growing cynical world. With the movie’s rich historical data of the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church (I can’t believe I remember stuffs I learned back in high school –we were taught the process of electing a new Pope and the personalities that will play a role while the Pope’s chair is empty) one realizes that the peaceful nature of this organization is both peculiar, trecherous, wonderful and worthy of exploration. Although it implies a devolution near-irrelevant religious joke to non-Catholics, it is likely to inspire a fascination. The whole armada of the Roman Catholic Church shows astute testament to the power of the Crusade. It is a pleasure to think that the fundamental belief and faith I myself have had is paramount in history weaved with gore, scheme, well meaning objectives and vigor that never loses track.

angels and demons movie image tom hanks and ayelet zurerGoing back to the movie, Tom Hanks is memorably better in Angels and Demons. This time he doesn’t look like he has ran his course in the looks department and has gone to a better hair stylist. The movie also picks up a pace that does not drone or lecture the audience. It instead takes us to the construction of the story with graceful traffic both on the setting and on storytelling.

Angels and Demons characters, not plotting, is the film’s strong suit (though plotting takes over in the final half hour). It delivers enough entertainment – or maybe I’ll just watch anything that has Ewan Mcgregor in it.  I may be able to wait for the movie to come out on video or HBO because so many other expositions was not shown or altered but it still filled my curiousity nicely. The clever musical scoring and the twist of the story rode well to its ensamble. It reminded me why I allowed myself to come see it even with hesitations resulting from the first instalment.

Plus, the big bang scene was so cool in the book I can’t pass the experience of seeing it in the big screen.

Ratings: starstarstarstar_2star_2

 





Yellow Lights

13 05 2009

The SorceressI am so frekin’ stoked for the third instalment of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. My friend in Sydney said they’ll be getting a copy by June 1, last I checked we’re getting our copy in this side of the globe by late May.

I wonder how Apple will react if she finds out I’m on the third instalment when she hasn’t even started Book One. She’s fairly odd; she likes to read but would never buys the book … always borrowing. Not that I mind but I hope she realizes how nice it is to collect all the books you love.

***

DeadpoolI thought that the character of Wade Wilson in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine has something going on. I was actually right.

The actor playing Deadpool, is slatted to have his own X-Men Origins spinoff. Although it sounds a little dubious (I can hear studio execs saying, “let’s just juice it for whatever it’s worth”), I’d like to see how they’ll spin things around and make it worth the watch. The big wigs are supposed to know what they are doing and as long as they know that it’s a potential money maker, no recession, angry comicbook fans or lousy Wolverine review will stop them.

Ahh, the power of ignorance and money. Unbelievable.

***

I’ve stopped watching American Idol, just when it’s about to finish.

paula abdulLost track last three week ago and I’m basically just shrugging it off even if I can easily and simply flick the t.v. remote. I just can’t be bothered by the blah blah that’s happening anymore. Plus, that drugged out, incoherent, language-challenged Paula Abdul is fast becoming an irritant. Before, you can simply let it pass by laughing at her. Now she’s just outright wasted. Not to mention a complete waste of space.

I just hope she leaves the show soon. Beside Kara, Randy and Simon, she has become a retard. She’s beginning to infuriate me.

***

I’ve just gone and called Shang Cineplex to ask for a movie’s showtime. I also asked how much it is and learned that they’ve hiked their prices. I usually watch during the weekdays but given that I had things to arrange last week, it was pushed aside.

Why do they have to raise their price? Arggh!

***

4861453_stdWould you believe me if I told you I have Harry Potter’s Marauder’s Map? It might just be a replica, but yeah, I do have one.

So rad!

 

 Currently listening to It’s Not My Time by 3 Doors Down via Launchcast





Star Trek (2009)

10 05 2009

Star TrekThe second coolest thing about Star Trek XI – apart from watching Sylar become Spock – is watching trekkies come out in broad daylight. Finally, for the first time in a long time, they can crawl out of their rocks without being thrown in the dumpster, enduring painful wedgies  or getting their lunch money taken by bullies. This one takes home the bacon and then some.

The film tells the story of Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock’s epically tumultuous and organic  past. We also get to see their complex relationship and all major players of the USS Enterprise.  What’s remarkable  here is that it made perfect sense on how all big wigs such as Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov, manned the star ship. They are explained away as we get a quarter of a lifetime of history to jumpstart the machine.

Star Fleet of the USS EnterpriseOn the side, we have Captain Nero (played by the bada** Eric Bana) whose sole purpose is to destroy the Federated Planets after a deal was mistakenly broken. He is such a brute in a cool way. Spock and Kirk clash principals and strategies to get him and prevent total annihilation much to my pleasure – it should not entertain me if someone is beaten into a pulp but Chris Pine a.k.a. Kirk is just too good at it.

With a gargantuan undertaking, naturally the powers that be decided to up the ante by hiring J.J. Abrams; mainly to revive the long underrated franchise. The truth of the matter is, with the initial exploits Star Trek has taken, it needed someone that respects and understands the pulse. He has to aim without harming the essence of the armada but still brave enough to put his stamp on the product. He must acknowledge that if he fails – and heaven knows everyone including me was waiting for that to happen – he will end up suffering the wrath of the geeks. But Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions took time to think things over. And man they did use their time well.

Captain NeroStar Trek is a perfectly adequate sci-fi movie: explosions, chases, gunfights, sword fights, blood feuds … and have I mentioned technologies far into the future and spaceships that can travel the speed of light? There’s even a little humour in it (who’da thunk eh). For a moment, while watching the ambitious  Vulcan Drilling scene, I contemplated that the artistry and musical scoring exceeded my expectations. If anything, it is far removed from its cornball predecessor that drove me to pass judgement without batting an eyelash.

Often, when television shows that have showcased a talent for character, story, suspense and geeky content, Hollywood coaxes it to become the next big thing. The downside is, it devours the director and substance. That’s pretty much not the case with J.J. Abrams who seems to have been one of the fans who followed the TV show from its inception. He did manage to achieve grace and still made a movie that’s full of heart. The set pieces, especially toward the end, are amusing and awe inspiring. It will come as well staged (if you don’t mind that every time someone so much as breaks into a run, it turns into CGI), plus it conjured content and depth. There is a state of super ambivalence between expensive action sequences and core content but Star Trek did not suffer that mistake. 

Captain Kirk and First Officer SpockStar Trek climaxes in a pileup of explosions, stunts, violent ship on ship fights, and hints, especially if you stay until the end, at sequels and spin-offs — each fancy sequence simultaneously exhibiting both power and precision. The effect-laden showdowns feel more dutiful and daring, and the rare moments of fun are parceled out generously. Note that I  know nothing about Star Trek (non-trekky, sorry folks) but because it’s organized in a way that need no background, I was able to jump right in.

You’d think the shrink-wrapped back story won’t be enough to introduce the epic story of the Enterprise. Trust me, this one is worth the reimaging and worth watching more than once.

Ratings: starstarstarstarstar_2