couch tomato

i recently came from my friendly neighborhood pirate and plunked down two big ones on several DVDs of movies and TV shows. with the ending of the second season of glee some weeks ago and the just-concluded short first season of game of thrones, i am without my weekly dose of brain cell burners. living alone for the past four years without television has reduced me to this slob who wakes up in the morning hoping that the torrent download of the latest episode has finished, or coming home at night eager to finish part 3 of a 24-episode marathon of big bang theory's season 4. what surprises me, and my friends as well, is that while i do not have television, i seem to be rather updated on the matter of new TV personalities whose stars aren't shining brightly as yet. although i must confess that there are other things i don't know. for one, that eagle riggs has returned to ABS-CBN, or that marian rivera and heart evangelista apparently had a "misunderstanding" while shooting the remake of joey gosiengfiao's "temptation island".

my source of amusement has thus consisted of going to MCS and without any specific intent nor any particular movie or series in mind, i browse through stacks of discs hoping to find something that might fancy me. often, my seller has recommendations, and while the transvestites with inch-thick make-up can hardly qualify as cineastes, they sometimes come up with interesting recommendations, such as "cidade de deus" and the film adaptations of stieg larsson's milennium series. the first book's english translation is famously known as "the girl with the dragon tattoo" (how they came up with that from män som hatar kvinnor, which is swedish for men who hate women, is anyone's guess, but the heroine does have a dragon tattoo). i picked it up only because it was foreign, not immediately linking it to the novel which i have not bothered to read. the box containing the trilogy merely says: millennialism.

james, who is pursuing a PhD in english literature, created allen ginsberg in this movie

but sometimes, i also have a few golden finds of my own. early this year i stumbled upon a movie called "howl". i immediately got it not because i associated it with werewolves, but with allen ginsberg's masterpiece, a classic from the beat generation. i had read the blurb, but not entirely, so it was only when i finally watched the film that i realized it starred james franco, whose "127 hours" i had just watched a few days before i fed the DVD into my optical drive. i was awed by james franco in this movie, for his studied, nuanced, and deliberate characterization of the controversial poet. i was already a fan following his portrayal of aron ralston, but i began to respect him as an actor for his artistic choices (well, there already was "milk" prior to "howl", but i didn't see that). of course i only knew of him first when he played harry osborn in spider-man, and saw him next as a soldier in the great raid (which i saw in part due to cesar montano and other filipino actors). as it turns out, "howl" is as recent as "127 hours", both having been released last year -- which may explain why i hadn't seen it yet.

in the movie, james as allen gives a gripping reading of the poem whose first few lines i can recite from memory. but don't ask me to recite the entire poem because it takes up about 4 pages in an anthology of american poems i bought in 1995 from money i had won from an essay-writing competition. the poem was significant to me on many levels. i wouldn't say that it influenced me a lot, but it had certainly exposed me to this breathless quality of prolonged description which i incorporate in much of what i write. it also introduced me to prosaic poetry, to the subtle rhythm and unstructured music of free verse, which until then i could not completely appreciate. the film revolves around the trial following the publication of "howl", which was considered obscene (consider these lines: "who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,/ who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love") and allen's life and loves from an interview that took place after he shot to stardom following the triumph of reason when the case was dismissed. but the movie also has animated sequences, exploring the dark, unsettling images conjured in the poem.

i've found several other stellar movies in MCS: it's a veritable film library of nearly everything: from classics to trash -- and i've had generous servings of both. although i normally prefer to watch TV shows in succession as i hate being kept in suspense, i've also downloaded some serials on my own. i began watching game of thrones after its 3rd episode. i merely noticed it because a few of my friends on facebook kept mentioning it. these friends had something in common. they're what i might call, for lack of a better word, geeks. i didn't even google the series but just typed its title on frostwire, which allowed me to download four episodes. from then on, i was hooked. game of thrones has all the elements i'd look for in an epic movie: elaborate medieval costumes, stately stone castles, bloody fight scenes, stunning cinematography, and frontal nudity. but then again, it's not a movie. it's a TV series from HBO, which often makes me wonder how it gets away with double breast exposures and limp penises, or whether this actually gets cut off on cable. i haven't finished "spartacus" yet so i don't know how this one compares in this department.

gratuitous sex scenes and nudity counterpoint the elaborate sets and costumes

the series stars, among others, sean bean, who can never shake off boromir from "lord of the rings" (in much the same way that i will always look at orlando bloom as legolas) and a host of other irish and british actors portraying various roles for an american TV show. it's based on a series of novels called "a song of fire and ice", which my australia-based cousin says i should read. but fantasy really isn't part of my personal canon. i much rather prefer to see their adaptations on screen. and i don't know how the fanboys are reacting to this interpretation of the books, but regardless of its accuracy and faithfulness to the source, i am loving the series, for reasons i have already stated above, and for others i have not. it doesn't have magic, at least not the obvious ones with wands and incantations, but it feeds my desire for all things fantastic.

daenarys stormborn, of house targaryen, the dragon's daughter

but as expected, the mini-series has me wishing i had just waited for the two seasons to finish before i started watching it. i am gnawing on my fingernails in anticipation after each week's episode. the last one in particular, where we see a naked daenerys targaryen rising from the ashes of drogo's funeral pyre with three just-hatched dragons around her, has me sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering how these developments will affect the world of westeros. an earlier episode already suggests that the former khaleesi was impervious to heat and fire, having the blood of dragons in her veins, so it has me very excited about the successive seasons.

one other series that i got from MCS is "nikita", which stars the luscious maggie Q. the series is chock full of contradictions and logical fallacies, but it's a nice cocktail of action and brain-dead plots perfect for lazy friday afternoons when i'm just listening to the dialogue rather than paying close attention to the scenes. maggie Q starred in a few B-movie action movies from hong kong, and this series does not depart from her original billing, although she does make for a convincing martial artist, unlike the other actors in the series. for example, devon sawa's appearance surprised me. after the teen star appeared on "casper the friendly ghost", i hadn't heard from him again. well, he's all grown up now, trying to revive his career as an action star, shedding his past as a cute teeny-bopper, by shooting guns and knocking out opponents with a punch and a kick.

so these are the things that keep me sane since i don't have a boob tube to keep me distracted. of course when i'm not popping in a video, i'm reading a book. and looking at my disheveled shelf, i realize that there are several books unread, and a few half-read. i also must pay attention to them. in fact, i might find time to write about the things that i've been reading lately, and books i've finished since i started living alone.