First Major Shocker for American Idol Season 9


American Idol Season 9 finally has its first major shocker.

For the past few weeks, Wednesday night result shows were pretty much predictable, not really offering much surprise in the viewers’ choice of eliminated contestants. This week, however, the predictability factor was turned askew as, for the first time this season, three male contestants were sent to the bottom three – Andrew Garcia, Aaron Kelly, and Michael Lynche. Kelly was immediately sent back to the safety of the couch, leaving Garcia and Lynche at the bottom two. At this point, the more sensible choice of the eliminated contestant would have been Garcia, as Lynche has been a favorite since his audition for AI. Big surprise, then, when Seacrest announced that the person with the lowest number of votes is Michael Lynche. Lynche then proceeded to sing for the save, choosing Maxwell’s rendition of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work”, his best number for the season so far. In another dramatic twist, the judges unanimously decided to use the save on Michael Lynche. So, it’s a happy ending for American Idol this week – but not for two contestants next week, as, due to Lynche’s save, two contestants will be voted off on next week’s results show.

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The Curious Case of …


“My name is Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances. While everyone else was agin’, I was gettin’ younger… all alone.”

Adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this film depicts the life of man who was born in his eighties and ages backwards. Set in New Orleans at the end of World War I in 1918 to the 21st century, this character-driven story takes us on the journey of Benjamin Button’s not-so-ordinary life. From the places he discovers along the way, to the fascinating characters that gave color to his existence, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” shows us that family, friendship, sacrifice, and love can exceed the boundaries of time.

This film was so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time that by the end of it, I was an emotional wreck. The beautifully written dialogues will simply take your breath away. Powerful performances by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett made the story come alive. It gracefully shows us a love that survives extraordinary circumstances.. and the grave sacrifices people can make for it. Real love transcends sagging skin, wrinkles, graying hair.. it transcends wetting the bed, acne, or acting childish.

Daisy: Would you still love me if I were old and saggy?
Benjamin Button: Would you still love ME if I were young and had acne? When I’m afraid of what’s under the bed? Or if I end up wetting the bed?

It’s not just the man who ages backwards who is unique. Everyone has their own special something that they impart to others. “Along the way you bump into people who make a dent on your life. Some people get struck by lightning. Some are born to sit by a river. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim the English Channel. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people can dance.”


Is That Your Final Answer?


I was very curious to watch Slumdog Millionaire due to all the hype and praises the media has been giving it. This movie has a cast of unknowns in Hollywood. The child actors were even literally picked up from the streets of India. But in my point of view, their acting could outdo even big-name Hollywood A-listers. And yeah, this low-budget film won Best Motion Picture – Drama at the recently concluded Golden Globe Awards. So, is it worth all the buzz? Most definitely.

Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of Jamal Malik, an orphan who grew up in the slums of Mumbai, India. Jamal enters the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and to the astonishment of the populace, makes it all the way to the final question – worth 20 million rupees. When the final question is about to be revealed, the show’s air time runs out and the moment the whole nation has been waiting for will have to resume the next day. As Jamal leaves the show, he is accosted by the police and thrown into jail on suspicion of cheating – how can an uneducated slumdog know so much?
a. He cheated.
b. He’s lucky.
c. He is a genius.
d. It is written.

During the cross-examination by the jaded police inspector, Jamal reveals the story of his life – from the brutal death of his mother, to his and his brother’s life in the streets of Mumbai, to their encounters with vicious street gangs, to the one girl he lost and loved all his life – Latika. Through the telling of his colorful life story, bit by bit we are enlightened as to how Jamal came to know the answers to the questions in the contest.

The police inspector releases him and he himself becomes intrigued by the real reason as to why someone who is obviously not interested in the money would join “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. As Jamal prepares to re-enter the show and answer the final question, the whole nation will find out why….

What does it take to find a lost love?
a. money
b. luck
c. smarts
d. destiny

Is that your final answer?


Atonement


Everybody makes mistakes. That’s a fact of life. But what happens when that seemingly “innocent” mistake of yours drastically changes the fate of the people around you and there’s no easy way of making amends? How do you own up to what you’ve done? How do you rebuild the broken relationships? And most importantly, how do you ask forgiveness from the ones you’ve wronged?
One hot summer’s day in 1935, young and impressionable Briony Tallis looks out her bedroom window and witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister Cecilia, and the servant’s son, Robbie Turner. Misgivings and doubts begin to harbor in Briony’s mind, which further escalate and worsen when she reads Robbie’s letter that is intended for Cecilia’s eyes only. Then a terrible crime is committed, and Briony, overflowing with a sense of righteousness and over protectiveness for her sister, testifies and points to Robbie as the perpetrator. This act sets a chain of events that would shatter years of their lives.
Properly entitled “Atonement”, this book takes us mainly through a conscience’s journey to make amends for one mistake that has severed relationships, destroyed a family, and tormented innocent souls.
This book is like a conscience that nags you with two profound questions: How far would you go for atonement? And if you’re the person on the other side of the fence, how much can you forgive?


‘The Hobbit’ is a Must-Read!


“The Hobbit” is J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to the famous “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. This book chronicles the life and journey of Bilbo Baggins. It sheds light on why Bilbo went on his infamous journey and how the One Ring eventually came to his possession. Readers get to enjoy Tolkien’s masterful storytelling style, as he weaves you in his magical world of Middle-Earth. From trolls, dwarves, wizards, to dragons, each page will have you breathless with excitement. The story flows in a faster pace as compared to the LOTR trilogy. If you’re someone who’s still unsure how to go about Tolkien’s works, I think this is the best book for you to test the waters. If you enjoy this book, most probably you will also enjoy Tolkien’s other works. If not, then either try again, or maybe you’re just not cut out for Tolkien. Watch out also for the upcoming movie version of “The Hobbit”. I’m sure it will be another superb blockbuster! 🙂


‘The Kite Runner’ Will Blow You Away


When a co-teacher of mine first mentioned the book “The Kite Runner” to me, I wasn’t immediately thrilled with the concept of the book. Being a rather “conservative” reader, I tend to steer clear of books that contain emotionally draining, graphic scenes. But I had no choice, so to speak, but to read this book when it was given to me as a birthday present. And read it I did and so much more. “The Kite Runner” not only opened my eyes to a different world, a different culture, it changed the way I looked at the world around me.
Hauntingly beautiful and sad at the same time, “The Kite Runner” follows the lives of Amir and Hasaan, best friends, brothers, torn apart by the war in Afghanistan and the eventual occupation of the Taliban. It’s a story within a story, as I would like to put it. In the outer shell, we have the situation in Afghanistan providing the dramatic backdrop of the story. In the inner shell, it follows the story of Amir and Hassan, two boys – one born into privilege, the other born into poverty and discrimination – from the time when they were innocent boys playing in the streets of Kabul, to the impact of the devastating war, to their separation, and to their “reunion”. I don’t really want to give away too much of the story, as this is a book that MUST be read, and not merely summarized.
A fellow book lover once asked me, “Maybs, kanino ka mas naawa, kay Amir o kay Hasaan?” (“Maybs, who did you sympathize with more, Amir or Hasaan?”) I answered, “Well, pareho. (Well, both.) In a sense, all both of them ever wanted was to be loved. Remember, in the earlier parts of the book, it was said there that Amir’s first word was ‘Baba’ (meaning, ‘Father’), while Hasaan’s was ‘Amir’. These two words laid the foundation of the events that happened. For me, that pretty much sums up the whole book for me.”
“The Kite Runner” presents a myriad of contemporary issues, but the one thing that struck me in this book is, however different our circumstances might me, whatever culture we grew up in, there is one thing we all have in common – and that is, the desire to be loved and accepted.


‘The Life of Pi’ Made Me Cry


After a devastating shipwreck of a cargo ship, only one lifeboat comes out of the fiasco. This lifeboat contains a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, a female orangutan, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Along with the unusual characters in this book, Yann Martel offers a multitude of surprising events in the course of Pi’s efforts to survive and be rescued. Just when you think the surprises have ended, Life of Pi will serve up something totally unexpected that will make your jaw drop, literally. This work of art offers a magnificent mixture of story telling, drama, comedy, survival tips, insights on religion and spirituality, and animal welfare — all rolled up in a little lifeboat bobbing helplessly in the middle of the wild, blue Pacific.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy


It has often been my (and many other people’s) observation that the book (or, in this case, books) is often way better than the movie(s). This observation also holds true for the LOTR trilogy. Which is my way of saying that I don’t have enough words to describe the beauty, marvel, and impact of the LOTR books. While the LOTR movies have given fantasy a whole new realm, with its astonishing portrayal of Tolkien’s amazing Middle Earth, you will surely appreciate the movies more if you read the books. The trilogy books will give you a lot more meaning and insights into the world of Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, Men, etc., that the movies (more than three hours long each) were not able to fully give to the audience. Also included in the books are characters not seen in the movies, as well as an epilogue that chronicles the fate of the characters after the Ring was destroyed and Aragorn reigned as king. Questions like: “Whatever happened to our beloved Legolas?” “Did Arwen and Aragorn have children?” “What happened to the other hobbits: Merry, Pippin, and Sam?” “Did Faramir and Eowyn end up together?”, and many more, will all be answered. But, hey, don’t take my word for it. Pick up a copy and sit back, relax, and enjoy three of the greatest books of all time. 🙂