Make yourself New Crayons

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I loved to collect coloring books when I was a kid. You can just imagine my joy when I received my first box of a 72-piece crayola crayon set. I took care of that set as if it was the most precious thing I've ever owned. At an early age I didn't want those crayons broken and I've never used the built-in sharpener. I colored and went through coloring books with such a passion that my parents knew immediately I would have a career which involved the arts.

Well of course, the crayons got used up and pretty soon I was left with just stubs which were too small even for my little hands to hold. So what did I do? I melted them of course. I would place them on metal spoons and hold it over a candle until it melted. I used to get into a lot of trouble for that. I used to form balls or different shaped splats and whatever shapes that tickled my fancy. Then after all the mess, they were thrown away.

The people over at Crayola thinks that this was a waste of good crayon. I'm sure you've seen those twistables that they've recently marketed out. They even had these dual-colored crayons that can let you easily blend with each stroke. When I saw this Crayon Maker, I was shaking my head. Why didn't they come up with this before? I've grown well past my crayon-coloring years and has now taken to watercolors and colored pencils for my manual rendering needs. It is only when I'm hit with bouts of nostalgia that I deem to pick up a crayon. Sigh.

The Crayon Maker lets you pour melted crayon (with the color of your choice of course, plain or mixed) into a mould which then churns out fresh crayons as soon as they've solidified. Pretty nifty. No more throwing away those stubs and crayon shavings. Better to make use of them, yes?

Unique Alarm Clocks

If there’s one thing that I’d really need, it would be an alarm clock. I only sleep through the alarms on my phone, no matter how many and how varied the alarm tones may be. Somehow, I turn them off without me really waking up. I must have pretty good muscle memory. :D Well, anyway I found these clocks and they’re pretty nifty.

Mee O'Clock Sheep Alarm Clock

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What’s nice about it? Well it’s not only because of the cute sheep on top of the clock, they’re more than eye candy up there. Upon the set alarm time, the sheep sing and dance to a song while waking you up. They also talk. :D [PRODUCT PAGE]

The IQ Alarm Clock

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This was designed by Oliver Sha and although it is still only a working concept, it is very unique. In order to stop the alarm, you’d have to solve a brain teaser. The difficulty of the teasers can be set beforehand. I don’t know about you but THAT will surely wake me up. [SOURCE]

Farmland Alarm Clock

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What makes this clock unique is that you can insert a plastic card that is shaped in the form of the animal sound you want to wake up to. So instead of the annoying beeps and shrill rings, you get to wake up to roosters and cows instead. [PRODUCT PAGE]

Cute Wedding Cars

Traditionally, at weddings I’ve been to at least, I usually only notice the bridal car where the bride comes out just before she walks down the isle. When I saw these cars however, I thought this was too cute an idea. Imagine both arriving at the church at the same time and then the bride and groom come out. A very romantic scenario right? Only concern is which car they will ride after the ceremony.

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I am Number Four

02mech_IANF_1Sheet.indd The opening scene from D.J. Caruso and Michael Bay's movie adaptation of the book written by Pittacus Lore (pen names of James Frey and Jobie Hughes) was marked by a kid being murdered by Aliens. Good for an opening scene? Yes. The movie is basically about an alien on the run to save his life and possibly save the lineage of his planet. Boring? Well throw into the mixture a kickass girl, a love interest and guardians. So it's all there, a good story and movie-makers who specializes in breathtaking action scenes and amazing special effects.

The movie feels very much like an "introduction" movie, understandably because it's only the first from the Lorien book series. We also witnessed many "firsts" that the lead character John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) has to go through while he realizes his destiny. We got a glimpse of his Legacy powers, saw the threats that are going to end his life when they get the chance and we learned that he is number four. One of the nine aliens that sought refugee here on earth when the Mogadorians went on a killing spree to end their kind.

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The action scenes were popcorn-worthy especially when it came to the point that John Smith had to go on a battle with the Mogadorians. But I really feel that the romantic scenes were a little bit forced, it kinda reminded me of that scene in Twilight where it should've been a revelation of love but it didn't even come near to that. So was it a bad piece of acting? Could be.

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I loved how Alex Pettyfer was very good in his acting and intense. In my opinion, he really carried the lead part well. Dianna Agron's (Sarah Hart, John's love interest) acting was pretty bland. It's still the same as she is in episodes of Glee, and as someone else put it "had the same expression on her face the whole time". Maybe this is why the romantic scenes were nothing but mediocre. Teresa Palmer (Six) provided the mystery and intrigue. She kept popping up in between major plot turning points and turned up the heat towards the final battle.

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Lastly, I think the other start worth mentioning would be Bernie, the beagle. From the moment he first appeared on the screen, he had my attention. Haha. Or maybe that was because I also had 3 beagles at home and I just couldn't resist any beagle gracing the big screen.

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I am Number Four falls a little short of my expectations of the film, especially when it was backed by a really good story and a good producer at that. Somehow, it would have been the next sci-fi adventure epic from Disney but a certain magical ingredient is missing. It still is pretty much an entertaining film to watch and would recommend to anyone who's into sci-fi films and young adult whatnots.

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The Lance Armstrong Chopper Bike

I managed to catch another re-run episode of American choppers the other night and this time around they were making a tribute bike for Lance Armstrong. The color scheme was yellow and black with little hints of chrome. It turned out looking very nice. At first I was worried that it might look a bit like a bee but when it was all put together, everything just tied in together.

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I love that they add customized elements in the bike’s design which makes it really unique. In this case, they took inspiration from Lance’s bike helmet and they even took to the trouble of putting the Livestrong logo there. Everything was pieced by hand and for the intricate parts of the engine, cutting-edge machinery were used, again their attention to detail is very precise. Kudos to the men of American choppers for making such one mean machine.

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Thunderbird Resorts Rizal Launches its new Events Center

Last week I was one of the bloggers invited to attend the unveiling of the new Events Center at Thunderbird Resorts Rizal. Although it was just a half-hour drive from my home, this was the first time I've set foot onto the resort. Stepping into the lobby and gathering hall of the Events Center, which also houses the resort Casino, one would immediately get the feeling of grandeur and lux. This feel was primarily due to the use of polished black and white marble wall claddings that graced the entire hall. I loved that it was accentuated by etched lotus glass panels, crystal LED chandeliers and (I can only guess) alabaster backlit border panels. The gathering hall was not entirely large but it was just the right size. If there was an event, the hall could get filled but not get too crowded.

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Inside the events center, the same crystal chandeliers can be seen amidst an elaborate ceiling design. There were also crystals lining the upper half panel of the walls. The stage was set and visible as soon as you enter the area. I would like to note that the events center wasn't as big as I imagined it would be but it certainly not small. It was strangely cozy too. The acoustics in there was superb, being a room with a high-ceiling, there weren't any echoes and hollow sounds even if the orchestra and the speakers were playing full-blast.

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The design took inspiration from the Lotus flower, which explains all the lotus elements that can be seen throughout the facility. There were lotus glass panels as I've mentioned and laser-cut marble lotus wall accents by the main entrance. The events center was also very very close to the casino. So I guess when there's an event, guests can freely go to the resort's casino at any time to try their hand at the slot machines and card tables there.

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The Fiesta Casino had a Filipino theme. We only passed through there briefly. There was an area that had deconstructed brick walls which I think were inspired by the Bahay na Bato and on the main casino floor itself were sort of large confetti murals which were used to enforce the Fiesta theme. To make it more Filipino, I noticed that there were slatted bamboo suspended panels on the ceiling.

Further exploration of the facilities led to the cottage quarters which would have been nice to photograph during daytime. Since we came there at night, we were only limited to how powerful our camera flashes were. It would have looked good though, especially the pool side. I must really get back there during the daytime.

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All-in-all, the construction of the Events Center makes the facility complete. Thunderbird Resorts Rizal is located at a place that's not easily accessible by the public. It's the perfect restful sanctuary. So if you're set to have an escape and have fun at the same time, then the resort is perfect.

Thunderbird Resorts - Rizal
Binangonan, Rizal
Philippines 1940
Email: rizalreservations@thunderbird-asia.com
Tel. No.: (+632) 651.6888
Fax No.: (+632) 651.6893

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photo by Az

Games, Art and Time

My love for video games began at an early age. I was born in the 80s and if you'll draft a proper timeline of game evolution, you might say that I stand witness to major changes in the gaming industry. Now as I have previously stated, I began to be fascinated by video games one summer vacation back in grade school and my neighbor has just bought a family computer. Every chance I get, I was there. I was waiting patiently until it was my turn to play. I begged my parents to buy me and my sister our own console but of course, they had first hand knowledge of game addiction and they knew of course that I was starting to get  addicted. Playing games was all I could  think of that summer and back then my ultimate dream was to go to a game design college. I didn't care if I had no idea if they existed. My young mind could only comprehend that wherever I'll be exposed to the gaming industry I'll be happy.

So what happened next? Well, LIFE. I grew up and I got more and more responsibilities and have finally gotten for myself a priority list and gaming was way down low. My adult life is now composed of 60% work and 40% other stuff. On the other stuff bracket falls other facets of my life, gaming and other hobbies. I'm not completely out of touch with the gaming industry. I just find it difficult to find time to play. I'm lucky if I can devote at least an hour five times a week for it. 

It's interesting to see all the design trends and changes that happened in the gaming industry since I was cooped up in my neighbor's living room back when I was a kid. Before, we were perfectly content with pixel graphic side-scrollers but as more and more consoles with better graphic engines and processors were coming out in the market, so too was the demand for better and more awesome games. Now games have to be as realistic as possible, with killer complex storylines, multi-player capabilities and extravagant cut scenes and cinematics. Retro games were usually just for two, the soundtrack feels like electronic beats, storylines were told only in subtitles and the games were decidedly much much simple.

screenshot-freenukum Retro game graphics

HHeavenlySword Screen 5a Nowadays, graphics are becoming more and more realistic.

Aside from the game itself, the other thing that draws me in will be the concept art behind the game design. The character designs are very well illustrated and if a game is really really good, that character will become an icon. I’m envious at times that they can create such masterpieces. I also know of a couple of artist friends who would jump at the chance to get online gaming degrees just so they can create characters for games. Being a person with a background in the field of design and the arts, I have a certain level of respect and admiration for these game designers. Their level of creativity is just amazing.

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Looking back, I love how far games have evolved into the kind of art form that they are today. Attesting to that will be the award giving body which recognizes the brains and hard work behind the industry. Careers in games are very well sought after. Artists are coming up with more and more imaginative designs and writers spin more compelling stories. I for one, can't wait to see the next major innovation that they'll soon be coming up with.

Still not my bedtime

lisbeth salanderIn a few minutes I’ll be curling up into the warmth of my bed. Nope I’m not about to go to sleep. I still have a bit of reading to do before I set off for dreamland. The book that’s got me so hooked? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Yes I’m mesmerized by Lisbeth Salander’s character and I’m intrigued by Kalle Blomkvist. The book has been in fact adapted into the big screen but was only done in Swedish (too bad I can’t speak or understand the language). Not to worry though, Hollywood is making it’s own version which stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara as the characters I mentioned above. I will definitely wouldn’t want to miss that.

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 Yes it did occur to me that they might have this film with subtitles. But it's no fun watching a film with one, I don't want to spend time reading the subtitles when I could be watching what's going on in the screen.

I am Number Four

I am Number Four is a movie adaptation of the book with the same title written by Pittacus Lore. It was directed by D.J. Caruso, the same guy who gave us “Eagle Eye” and produced by Michael Bay.

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“I Am Number Four” revolves about an extraordinary young man, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), who is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events—his first love (Dianna Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny.

If you’re interested also with the background story of the movie based from the book. Here’s the blurb from the back.

7747374 In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.
The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.
I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.
I AM NUMBER FOUR.
I AM NEXT.

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The Hunger Games movie: My Casting Call

Since it has already been announced, the movie adaptation of the Hunger Games is set for 2012, there’s still no official cast list. Of course, I have some actors/actresses that I want to see up there in a movie I’m looking forward to see. Again, this is NOT OFFICIAL.

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From left to right:

Chloe Moretz – She’s my first choice for Katniss. I think she’s more than enough for the role. She already kicked ass as Hitgirl. Katniss would be perfect for her.

Liam Hemsworth – (otherwise known as Miley Cirus’ boyfriend) I’m casting him as Peeta. I think his looks fit well with how I imagined Peeta would look like. But admittedly, Peeta was the one I really had trouble with, I couldn’t think of anyone else fitting.

Brant Daugherty – he will be Gale. I’ve seen him in Pretty Little Liars as Noel and I think he has that beguiling look in his eyes that would make him a perfect Gale thus completing the love triangle in the story.

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From left to right:

Logan Lerman – I’m casting him as Finnick. He has good looks and he would be cool with a trident. Haha. Ooops, I guess I was much influenced with seeing him as Percy Jackson

Dakota Fanning – She will be perfect as Johanna. She’s feisty and she can give her more angst than any other young actress I can think of.

Abigail Breslin – She will be Prim, Katniss’ sister. Her delicate looks and manners make her a perfect choice.

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From left to right:

Matt Damon – He’ll make a good Haymitch. Haymitch was described as a former victor of the Hunger Games, handsome and able but a drunkard. It would be interesting to see him play as a drunk.

Michael Sheen – He’s my first choice for Cinna. He can pull it off I know it. We’ve all seen him play eccentric roles in fantasy films as a vampire and a werewolf. When he played Zeus in Tron: Legacy, I saw a glimpse of Cinna in him.

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A mask of art and beauty

m_3802m-503Not more than a few months ago, I managed to catch a rerun of a photoshoot on one of the modeling reality shows on TV. The photoshoot had models with venetian masquerade masks. I watched the entire episode because I've always admired venetian masks. They are indeed very beautiful and the craftsmanship is just superb. They are also done with very intricate details and splashed on by great color combinations.

Seeing these kind of masks remind me of the circus especially now that the trailer of Water for Elephants is on every movie premiere I've been to this year. It also makes me want to pursue my dream of catching Cirque de Soleil for once in my life, which is also (as you may have guessed) included in my bucket list.  They also take me back to the time of the Victorian Era, where women were still wearing grand ball gowns and petticoats. The women can't be seen without lacy gloves and a matching lacy umbrella. It's kind of a nostalgic reverie actually.
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What I didn't know was, these venetian masks weren't just fashion statements of a century long forgotten. They had a more important purpose for the then people of Venice. Full face masks were used to mask identities of the rich especially when they're having great financial dealings. The masks enable them to move around the city freely. The masks also conceal straying lovers on a romantic rendezvous. So much for just making a statement huh? Well at least nowadays, venetian masquerade masks are purely used on special gatherings and occasions. For art aficionados however, these can also be great collector's items.

What Sucker Punch really is about

My month of March is already marked with anticipation for the movie Sucker Punch. Zach Snyder’s film is going to be epic! Here’s a little snippet on what the movie is about:

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“Sucker Punch” is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. Unrestrained by the boundaries of time and place, she is free to go where her mind takes her, and her incredible adventures blur the lines between what’s real and what is imaginary.

            She has been locked away against her will, but Babydoll (Browning) has not lost her will to survive. Determined to fight for her freedom, she urges four other young girls—the outspoken Rocket (Malone), the street-smart Blondie (Hudgens), the fiercely loyal Amber (Chung) and the reluctant Sweet Pea (Cornish)—to band together and try to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors, Blue (Isaac), Madam Gorski (Gugino) and the High Roller (Hamm).

            Led by Babydoll, the girls engage in fantastical warfare against everything from samurais to serpents, with a virtual arsenal at their disposal. Together, they must decide what they are willing to sacrifice in order to stay alive. But with the help of a Wise Man (Glenn), their unbelievable journey—if they succeed—will set them free.

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The film is not an adaptation of any book, it’s a screenplay written by Snyder himself along with Steve Shibuya. So we’ll see, not only is the concept and story original, it is a welcome break from the adaptations and sequels we’ve been getting for quite a while now in terms of the fantasy genre.

Finding out the truth in Unknown

226522id2_Unknown_27x40_1Sheet_0410.indd On November 20th, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Harris (January Jones and Liam Neeson) arrived at the Berlin airport for a Biotech summit. With Berlin currently having a snowstorm, the couple rushed out of the airport towards their hotel in haste. Unfortunately, Martin forgot to load his briefcase onto the taxi cab that they got in, the briefcase contained his passports and IDs. On the way back to the airport, Martin got into an accident, waking up in the hospital 4 days later with little or hazy pieces of memory from the past days. This is where it all begins, he traced his steps eventually to the hotel where he left his wife. She denied ever knowing him when they met face to face, what's worse is there was another Dr. Martin Harris present in the room. What follows is a non-stop roller coaster ride on a fight to recover his memory and take back his identity.

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What struck me the most about the movie is how quickly you can lose your identity and how it all depends on a piece of plastic and some bundled pieces of paper. In the first part, Martin was at a loss, he had no proof of who he was. Another man has purposely took his place, with the right identification cards and papers. I've seen this on countless spy series and movies and I can't ever imagine what I would do if placed in such a situation.

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The plot centered on a sinister conspiracy where evil men can gain riches by putting other people in harm's way. As the story unfolded, this plan had been set in motion months ago but as with all best-laid plans, the conspirators forgot to put in one variable factor, which is chance. Martin was the variable and he was the element that would shake up the equation. He sought help from people that they never thought he would be able to reach.

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A man is really solely defined by his choices. At the point when Martin finally remembered who he is. Gina (Diane Kruger) told him that everything in the past didn't matter anymore, what mattered was what he would do next. Yes his quest might be of revenge but in the end, he ended up saving people for the greater good. The cause for his redemption would prompt him to make right and make peace with who he was.

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There wasn't a dull moment with Unknown, even at the parts where he was just finding out about his memory loss, the scene was still riveting. The movie will keep you guessing about how and why there was another man posing as him. The atmosphere in the movie was generally dark, like there was a blue-gray filter over the camera at all times, it was fine since it added to the mystery and mood of the film. Liam Neeson's acting was great, I just don't know why I kept seeing Harrison Ford in him (haha!), he was a great choice for the lead in this film. January Jones' was good too, she kept me guessing about her alliance throughout the film. I'd most definitely recommend this film to everyone. Don't pass up the chance to see it.

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