Monthly Archives: August 2013

Fantasy, the Not-so-mortal Instrument

Two things, before I begin:
1. I have not read any of the books of The Mortal Instruments, I’m only basing this on the movie
2. I am not a Twi-hard. In fact I have not seen/read any of the Twilight series productions

Number two is there because the recently released The Mortal Instruments (TMI) movie was supposedly targeting the Twilight fans as an audience, although they apparently failed to please this target. Maybe the fans thought it was a poor repetition of their favorite vampire love story, I dunno. To be honest, I kinda liked it, which is why I’m writing this right now.

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This is not a review, as I am not a movie critic. I know nothing about film technicalities or the art of acting. This is merely a presentation of a different perspective when it comes to movies/books like this. Truth be told, I only watched the movie because I saw a promising cast, including the lovely Lena Headey, whom I have a major cougar crush on (don’t judge me, I fell in love with her way back in Imagine Me and You when she was younger.) I didn’t know anything about the movie except it was a Fantasy movie. I was even quite a bit disappointed when I heard the American accent of the main protagonist, as I thought the cast would be purely European (I’m not racist, I just really love European accents.)

Since I didn’t know it was a Twilight-ish movie, I had high expectations, coupled with the wonder of why it wasn’t getting any hype at all here in the Philippines. Well, I wasn’t all that disappointed, nor was I impressed. I’d say it was a 6.5 on a scale of one to ten. The graphics was great, and I say this with all confidence because damn, I was so freaked out by the creepy looking demons! The setting, as mentioned by other critics, was very Harry Potter-like, which means it was pretty awesome too. The plot was decent enough, with its fair share of twists and turns. The actors did well in general. So what is it about this film that exuded a huge sigh from the masses? I for one think that the answer falls in the genre itself.

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The Iliad

The Fantasy genre dates back to the BC days, a prime example being The Iliad and Odyssey by Homer. This just shows that there have been countless pieces of literature written in this genre, and while there have been variations and personalizations, the mythical creatures involved have been the same through the years. TMI was no different, presenting the audience with the same vampire-werewolf rivalry, the applications of runes, and the use of a pentagram in relation to black magic and demons. Suffice to say, there was nothing new in that aspect, except maybe the application of nephilims as shadowhunters or demon hunters. Nephilims, or part-angels, have not been present in most of modern fantasy stories, which for me, was a huge plus for TMI.

Question for Fantasy fans, what new or innovated creatures were present in Harry Potter and Twilight? As far as I know, there are none. So does this not put TMI at an advantage? Okay, creatures aside, what about plot? True, TMI’s plot was not far from other plots in the genre, but with the age of film, it would be hard to think of a plot that hasn’t already been used. I found the story quite refreshing, and I honestly can’t wait to read the book. I don’t want to put up spoilers, but I just have to say this, I’m very happy with the outright presence of homosexuality in TMI! (Although Magnus’s first appearance was shocking on the verge of disturbing.)

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Note the lack of pants in his own party. With people. Lots of people.

Let me pick up from that point to go into the aspect of target audience. Since both Harry Potter and Twilight were for teenagers, it would be assumed that TMI is also for teens, which is probably what the producers may have thought as well. After all, most fantasy films are for teenagers. Personally, I think the story itself would’ve been better off interpreted as an adult film, what with the issues of sexuality, and even the freaky demons (if I watched this as a teenager, I might have had nightmares. Yes, they were that ugly.) But the movie was presented for teenagers, hence the light and “romantic” energy it gave off. That silly little romance scene at the garden-thingy with fireflies and flowers almost made me hurl, if not for the awesome soundtrack of Ms. Demi Lovato playing in the background.

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Ah, I almost forgot to mention Magnus’s party, CLEARLY not meant for teenagers (that is if you want your teens to grow up decently.) The setting was obviously erotic, enough to make me awkwardly shift in my seat because I was watching it with my parents… Anyway! Speaking of setting, as I mentioned, the Institute where most of the events were, was most incredibly like Hogwarts. Even the infirmary looked like an exact replica of the Hogwarts infirmary. This would’ve been a good thing if TMI came before Harry Potter, but unfortunately it did not. But again, I blame the genre. I mean, can you think of a grander scene than the castle of Hogwarts for a fantasy film? I think not!

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This is the hot homosexual (even in a lesbian’s perspective) played by Kevin Zegers

Now let’s look at character development, a very important aspect for series-followers. Honestly, there wasn’t much to speak of, but hey, how much did little Harry change when he was in his first year at Hogwarts? We’ll have to wait and see if these characters grow in the coming sequels. However, I would again like to compliment the complexity, if not the development, of some of the characters; the serious homosexual hot guy with issues, the other homosexual guy whose only issue is his lack of pants, the father figure who seemingly betrayed the protagonist’s trust, and even the wise old man who has agoraphobia. True, the other characters like the protagonists seem like tiresome one-dimensional stereotypes, but they do have their own quirks.

Well, now that we’ve covered the aspects, I hope you readers see why I blame the genre. The story alone is pretty good, but because it was in this genre we’re all too familiar with, and because it came right after the enormously-successful Harry Potter and Twilight series, it made us all raise a skeptical eyebrow and think, “what’s new? I’ve seen this all already.” But do consider the facts I said before, Harry Potter did not really give us anything new too. Don’t get me wrong, I love the series, and I love Ms. Rowling, but I’m merely stating a fact.

So there you have it, folks! My two cents worth on the movie, The Mortal Instruments. If I were you, I’d go watch it and judge for myself. Thanks for reading!

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A Peek in the Closet

gay-men-in-the-closetOn this day exactly a year ago, someone showed me what life was like in the closet. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term (don’t worry, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. idioms can be a pain sometimes), being “in the closet” means publicly denying that you’re a homosexual. And for those of you who don’t know, well, I am, myself, a homosexual. No, I have not been in the closet for more or less three years now, and yes, I am quite sure it is not just a phase.

I’ve never actually written about homosexuality, because I feel like it’s too open-ended; too many opinions, too much complication. And even now, when I finish this post and share it on Facebook, I will be hiding this from a group aptly named “The Closet” consisting mainly of my extended family and some adults that I totally respect but whom I know would look at it with disdain and distaste without even knowing it.

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this is what they’re gonna look like

There, now we got that out of the way, let’s get back on track. As I was saying, a year ago, I had the pleasure of having a heartfelt dinner conversation regarding this matter. Well, I wouldn’t say it was all pleasure. After all, my companion had been crying to me, pouring out feelings I have long since forgotten. Back then, I was trying to be the strong one, staying calm and reaching out, letting her know that life isn’t so difficult. Now, I’m not so sure.

so funny it's right!

yeah, because those things will REALLY happen! *sarcasm*

You see, I’m blessed. I was raised in a (nuclear) family where every rational opinion was recognized and every voice was heard. When I came out to my mother three years ago, tears streaming down my face, she just smiled and said, “okay”. I was a bit taken aback by her casualness. I asked her, “so it’s alright for me to just tell people I’m gay?” and she said, “yeah.” Well, I guess she wasn’t surprised, raising me as the tomboy that I am. I’ve also been blessed to have entered a university that valued open-mindedness and acceptance, where support came easily from my friends.

That said, I found it a bit hard to imagine what she must have been going through. I thought, maybe she was just exaggerating. Maybe her friends and family wouldn’t really look down on her as much as she thought. Maybe she wouldn’t have to keep hoping her feelings would change and one day, she would wake up a heterosexual. Admittedly, back then, I felt myself blaming her for staying in the closet. I just didn’t understand how she could keep pretending to be someone she’s not.

Well, did we? DID WE?

It’s a sad life, having to keep things from your friends and family; having to introduce your girlfriend as your friend; having to make sure nobody who knows you is around before sharing an intimate gesture; having to lie about schoolwork just so you could keep going out on dates; hearing your own parents speak about what you’re going through as if it was some kind of lethal disease; and the worst part is, wondering if there’s a future for you somehow.

Quite a number of people have shared their stories with me regarding their sexuality (I guess it comes with finding out that I’m a lesbian), but for all of those people, I’ve never heard anyone say with certainty that they’re going to have a bright and beautiful homosexual relationship in the future. And when I ask why, they can’t even answer without falling back to society.

A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it. Gay is synonymous with the lesser -Same Love, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Quick plug: listen to that song, Same Love, and REALLY listen to it. I still get tears in my eyes even though I’ve seen the music video countless times. Point is, Macklemore was right when he said that in our society, people still look down on homosexuals. Even if we claim that we’re a more accepting people than before, we still make faggot jokes (or in our case in the Philippines, bading jokes) that are degrading. Remember Charice Pempengco? How many trash talks did she get when she came out? How long did that issue last? It’s sad really.

Even the simpler things, like having to point out that you’re gay, can be difficult. You’d have to endure the interrogation that follows right after, especially the “are you sure?” part. I watched a video once where the interviewer asked random people 2 questions: 1) do you think that being gay is a decision? 2) so when did you decide that you were straight? Also, gay is often related to promiscuity. I don’t get it though. Heterosexuals can be as promiscuous as homosexuals, even more. Why can’t a homosexual relationship consist of more than lust and lewdness?

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tables turned, how do you like hearing those?

With all those in mind, I finally understand now why this person decided to stay in the closet. I see it as a sort of paradoxical conflict. It’s easy to stay in because you wouldn’t have to continuously fight for your feelings and beliefs. You’d just have to conform to the norm. But then again, it’s also difficult, because you’d have to hide your feelings. You’d have to put on a mask, one that isn’t easy to bear. And if you end up marrying someone from the opposite sex simply out of respect for the norm, well, we all know how badly that could go. I guess it’s all just a matter of how strongly you feel about it, how much you want to fight for it. Because believe me, neither path is easy. In or out, it’s going to be a difficult life. The only difference is, it’s a much freer, brighter, and more beautiful world outside!

But yes, I get it now. Some people feel safer in the closet. Well, good luck with that! Hope you find your spells and incantations-oh wait, that was a cupboard- or your vast land of snow-oh wait, that was a wardrobe- bah! There really isn’t anything wonderful in the closet, dears, just a lot of mothballs and dust.

Red Velvet, At Last!

I am a bedridden, unemployed bum today. Okay, not really bedridden, but I’m suffering from costochondritis, which is a fancy word for sternum inflammation, and it hurts at different levels when I move the wrong way. So I decided to go to wordpress. Honestly, I’ve nothing insightful to blog about since there’s nothing insightful going on in my life right now. But let me get to a topic that probably a lot of you have wondered about: why is my blog called sweetasredvelvet? It’s not even a baking blog!

Well, dear reader, you’re in for a treat! Two, even! First, allow me to finally explain in detail why it is called as such. If reincarnations were true, and if we could reincarnate into anything at all, I would be a red velvet cake. Yes, a yummy, rich, smooth red velvet cake! Don’t fight it, just nod. This blog, dedicated to all sorts of things, is inflicted with my red-velvety insights, my philosophies, and advocacies. Most of the time, they’re strong like the flavor of chocolate on red velvet, yet they can be sweet like the icing on top. Posts can be quite voluminous, like the red velvet, yet they’re soft in a way. Most importantly, the color red symbolizes a lot of things: anger, love, passion, fire; but what all of them have in common is strength. They say red is the most striking color. You notice it in an instant. I’d hoped to build this blog that way, striking, passionate, and with love.

Now that you’ve absorbed all that crap, let me take you to the real treat! Yessir, I’m going to post something legitimately related to red velvet! My microwaveables adventure! 😀 Honestly, I don’t know how to bake. Heck, I don’t even know how to turn on the oven (which is a the hard part, because baking itself, you can find on the internet :P). So one day, I decided to try some of the mug cakes I’ve seen on the net, which only requires a microwave (*fist pump* yes! I can handle that!)

my personal fave, choco-nutella lava cake!

my personal fave, choco-nutella lava cake!

I’ve tried a lot, experimenting here and there, but the more decent ones are here in this album. Oh, there are some Tagalog words, so sorry foreign readers. But it is still understandably English :P. As you can see, all of them are based on recipes you can already find online, so suffice to say, it’s really easy to learn how to make ’em. I have this site in particular to thank, because most of my adventures start from there. If you don’t really have a sweet tooth, no worries, just search “savory mug recipes” instead. There are lots too :).

So there, a red velvet related post at last. Hope you enjoy the recipes! 😀