As you are, there are things for which no words would do justice, no explanation would suffice. For they just are.
Like lines that conceal meaning and words that rhyme, you blow my mind away.
And I let you.
“Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?”
“Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”
I must admit, despite the smug with which Tony Stark has always made the audience feel sure of him, this famous exchange from The Avengers has got me thinking. Of the team, he is the only one whose “ability” relies on something beyond him. Sure all of them, save Thor, can thank comic book science for their abilities but at least the others always have that ability with them, unlike a full-body smartphone.
(More case in point, the race track encounter in Iron Man 2 where Stark was just useless until he got his armor from Pepper and Happy. “Just give me the case!” cried Stark. Pardon the pun.)
So, it was with curiosity that I looked forward to Iron Man 3. The trailers showed a Tony Stark who has to react to another surprise attack, this time bigger in scale than Whiplash in Monaco, while not in his armor. Really, what could a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist do against surprise incoming missiles? It seemed to me that the people behind IM3 knew how to address Captain America’s jibe against Tony Stark.
I’ll save you my arguments for the next paragraphs but the film didn’t fully live up to the expectations the trailers set. I did not find it as bad as how others would make you believe—overall, it went as Marvel superhero movies are supposed to—but still, I found it lacking. And in those times where it could have made a point, it throws you a sucker punch, pun intended (again!).
Another thing the trailers made sure you didn’t miss is the fact that Tony Stark is troubled. A trailer starts with his voice over of an apology. Tony Stark does not apologize; he’s always right. And when he’s wrong, he’s always got an alibi to make a case that, at least, he’s partially right. Tony Stark doing an apology is like Tim Cook apologizing for Maps.
And Tony Stark is having nightmares. He can’t sleep well at night.
I found it interesting that they are integrating a plot point from The Avengers to IM3. Who would’ve thought that Stark’s daredevil stunt for a finale would haunt him way afterward. Interesting as it is, I found the execution poor and lacking, as if all this I’m-troubled-from-New-York drama was a last-minute addition to give IM3 more continuity from Avengers. Stark’s panic attacks just go at random points in the narrative, bearing no total weight on the film’s plot. Shame, as it could’ve integrated well with the film’s you-create-your-own-demons opening.
I think the film is trying to build-up Stark’s human element more than the previous three films which featured Iron Man. I think this is crucial in answering Captain America’s jibe. I can get all philosophical about it but take away the armor, the intellect, the money, and the ladies and Stark is just a man [1 ]. And their main point of attack is in pitting Stark against super-powered humans.
And I’m quite pleased at how they did it. Though I said earlier that IM3 plays as any Marvel superhero film is expected to play, there are huge chunks of the film where it doesn’t feel like a superhero movie at all and I found that good. Tony Stark fights—and wins the fight—without his armor. And he’s fighting Extremis-enhanced enemies at that. Totally badass. Finally, here’s what Stark is worth as an Avenger without his armor.
The set-up for the final fight sequence is excellent: Extremis-enhanced Killian versus Stark with his legion of Iron Man suits. We see Stark, jumping from suit to suit, trying to get the best of Killian as Killian trashes each [2 ]. Stark ultimately resorts to a surprise move involving the prodigal Mark 42 and yet that is not enough. If you haven’t seen the movie but have read to this point, pardon the spoilers (you should’ve expected them), but you should see what a tight plot corner Stark has been written into here. Iron Man suits are no use. Smart moves are no use. Hell-bent super-powered foe wanting to kill Stark.
But here comes the sucker punch (I’ll warn you: more spoilers ahead!). You know how Stark manages to live through that tight spot for Avengers 2? Help comes from his Extermis-enhanced lady love, Pepper Potts. And for a scene, Potts is the more powerful character; when an Iron Man in autopilot goes after her (having identified her abnormal heat signature for a possible enemy), she punches a hole through the armor’s chest, effortlessly sending it to kingdom come. There you have it. Pepper’s fist > Thor’s Mjolnir.
You can go all feminist about it, say how, at last, Potts is not just a damsel in distress but still, it totally ruins the set-up at how Stark could conclusively prove that he can be Iron Man without his suit. Granted, it’s a really tight corner they put Stark in and I’ll admit that even me, while watching the film, could think of no way it would end well for Stark without the involvement of Extremis (or equivalent) on his side.
Overall, if you’re in for a more logical-take on the comic books and yet retains that comic-book feel, Iron Man 3 will be an enjoyable two hours, if not a bit rushed. Maybe, it’s just the case that I’ve been expecting a Nolan where Nolan is not involved. Maybe, the people behind Marvel’s Cinematic Universe just raised questions for which they have no adequate set-up to provide satisfactory answers. It’s a fact that superhero movies are meant to be enjoyed with quite a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief—Iron Man 3 is no different. Maybe, if you just take the whole thing by face value, you’d find that it plays along finely.
Hold her gently, like the rare and precious book she is. Don’t let her cover mislead you; it may look plain but don’t lose sight of the tapestry it hides. Take your time getting past her cover, the initial extra leaves, and when you finally set your eyes on the first words of her first chapter, take some more time to appreciate what that means. There aren’t a lot of people whom she has allowed this far. Not that there are a lot of people who would take the time to read past her cover anyway.
As her plot unravels note how different she is from all the other stories you’ve known. Hellos and goodbyes are scattered everywhere. Feel her die a little bit with every farewell. Have more faith in her happy ending with every smile.
Feel the weight of the story she lays down before you. Take in every word but concede to the fact that you may never even finish half. Know her universe and reach out. Know her fears, her dreams, her hopes, the things that make her go. Don’t laugh at them no matter how petty they may seem to be. You would not want to anger a universe.
Pay attention to her details: the passers-by who would later deliver the plot twists, the unnoticed allies who would be crucial to the denouement. Delight that her chapters are long, her words abstruse. It is not so because she wants to intimidate but because she has her complexities and this is what describes her best. Know that this complexity demands your full attention. Do not read her casually.
Let her blow your mind away through the thick of her drama, the thrill of her adventures, even in the lull of ennui. Immerse yourself in her metaphors and her contradictions. Allow her the awkward transitory scenes, the occasional plot holes. Remember that this is not a fairy tale. Understand that this is her story, just as fucked up as yours or anyone else’s.
Like all good books do, her story will tire you. You’d need your time to put her down and regroup yourself. Take this time to decide, very carefully, if there is anywhere you can help her with in writing her story. Ask for her permission and, as you ask, remember to respect her space. Do not forget that she has already given you so much by letting you read her. That your words mingle with hers is an entirely different matter.
You wouldn’t know how she’d react until it comes. She may laugh. She may cry. Heck, she may even put up a pretense of indifference. This is where you find out how tired she is of her complexities, just like everyone else. Maybe, she does not want to be a universe, just a star in someone’s sky. You should know how tired she feels. You’ve read her haven’t you?
Remind her that plain happy characters do not make a good story. Remind her of those parts of her story you found most beautiful. Remind her of her strength. Tell her that her story is just warming up, that the plot is still about to thicken, and that the climax is still way ahead. She may not know how to continue, how to handle the thickening plot or navigate the climax way ahead but that is why you’re here. You are offering her your words for those times ahead where she may find herself speechless.
She may refuse you, in which case say thank you, leave quietly, and make sure that you keep her secrets well. To do so otherwise would be unfair, childish even.
And yes, she may accept your company, in which case look at her straight in the eyes, say thank you, and assure her that you will keep her secrets well. Complicated as she is, you do not know how far into her story will you get to help write. You are probably not the first she has allowed in this role, nor will you be the last. This is an enormous responsibility but, whatever happens, do your best to make your part the episodes she’d love to relive with fondness.
The waves rock our boat, turning our reef-hopping trip to an amusement-park feel joyride of sorts. Water splashes on the deck as we do a jump and a fine spray of sea water reaches my lips, blessing my tongue with its salty tang. An island, sun-soaked for everyone to see its lush, appears on the horizon. I take aim with my lens but, as I make sure that I have set the proper shutter speed to negate the wildness of waves, I acknowledge that, for the first time, my camera has proved insufficient for this adventure.
Don’t get me wrong. My camera performed as admirably as ever, taking shots as sharp as usual, limited only by the hands and eyes wielding it. But, as all cameras do, it could not record the feelings that made the trip impressible in memory. True, it recorded the beauty I saw of Palawan but it cannot capture the smell of adventure as we battled the waves, the flavor of sea-side air, nor that sun soaked smell served as my perfume for almost the whole time we stayed there.
I got into Palawan courtesy of the undergraduate research I am doing. Our project, Porites recognition, is part of a larger project in UPD. The researchers involved in the project went to Palawan to gather data. My role isn’t really field-related but I got included anyway.
Despite it being a research trip, it was adventure all throughout, from the waves to the food to the exploration of the city’s night spirit. The first day we rocked the waves, we ran short of fuel. We waited on a sandbar for further instructions. It’s beautiful, dreamy in quality, if not for the fact that it is a graveyard of corals damaged by dynamites. It is a peaceful spot in the middle of the sea nonetheless, as the resting place of innocent creatures should be.
I tried to travel as light as possible being that (1) it is generally a good idea to travel light, (2) pretty men travel light and (3) I did not want too much of my personal stuff to get in the way of the research equipment we brought along. As such I took a leap of faith and didn’t bring any medium to back up my photographs and I was too lazy and too much of a cheapskate to invest in a memory card more or two, to distribute my photographs across. It would’ve been fine until they took a fancy to my camera and I became an official photodocumanitarian of sorts.
I got all my pictures back to Manila safe and sound but I learned a valuable lesson nonetheless: the pictures I take belong to the people who made the shot, whether they are distinguishable/included or not in the final output, as much as it belongs to me. I should’ve been more responsible for our shared property. In my lapse of judgment I didn’t act like a photographer, even for a hobbyist, not even like the computer scientist I am trained as.
I am grateful for the trip. I am grateful for the adventure; heck, the last one I had was almost two years ago. But I am most grateful for the lesson on not cheapskating on the memories I hitch on my camera.
Another awesome way to start the year don’t you think? ~The Chad Estioco
I expected rain to fall, maybe like last year, probably worse. The week was weird weather-wise after all. I made it a point to bring my umbrella, for Getsurikai’s sake. Thank heavens I had no need for it.
I arrived at UP late by my standards. For the past three years, I’d usually arrive before lunch then hang out for some hours, reading a book I brought, until my friends start texting me, asking where in UP am I. I’d do that to avoid being hassled by the traffic caused by the Parade. For some reason the traffic-hassle didn’t give me enough incentive to get-up early this year. I was late but it was a nice start to the adventure as I got an opportunity to get a before-the-show feel for the event.
I was happily shooting around Oblation Plaza when I saw our ROTC squad advancing towards Palma Hall. I remembered that they will be one of the first parties to parade. So I hurriedly ended my little photoshoot, reasoning with myself that I need to conserve batteries as I don’t have any spare.
But not long after, the beauty of the Carillion took me in…
We decided to station ourselves in front of Melchor Hall being that it is at the last leg of the Parade. Last leg == night time (eventually) == more awesome for the lovely lantern lights.
That said, with all my hurrying, we still had lots of idle time when our group was finally completed. Idle time + SLR/SLT camera =
The Parade started with UP Offices. I saw some personal acquaintances like…
Okay. I kid. I saw some personal acquaintances like…
Come to think of it, the deeper I got into the CS curriculum (and knew more teachers/people from the Department), the better my fate during batch runs became. Hmmmm….
And then came the UP ROTC in their distinct guardia civil outfit,
Ironically followed by College of Arts and Letters float honoring Rizal and the Revolution,
The parade was scattered with awesomazing lanterns (duh!) and acquaintances that it is pointless to just blah on with words. Visual overload here we go!
Like last year, there were gaps in the Parade, most likely caused by people like yours truly who are so keen on taking pictures. And it was starting to get dark. Perfect for pictures like these…
At this point, I learned/realized a few things in photography.
So, as it was getting dark at this point, it became harder to get decent shots. Lighting was no longer on my side as I was already relying on flash. Otherwise, it’d be too dark or too orange depending on where I decide to shoot.
A few more lanterns and it was finally the turn of my most anticipated college ever. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the ever-fine stars of our lantern show, the College of Fine Arts.
Warning: Awesomeness follows.
And of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without fireworks. It is unfortunate that an untoward incident happened in this year’s fireworks. We were only a few meters away from the fireworks fence when it happened and we saw those wayward fireworks shoot. Here is the statement of UP Diliman’s Chancellor regarding the incident.
Judging by the number of pictures in this post, I’d say that I’ve really had a good time with my camera this Parade. I even exceeded my 300MB monthly upload limit at Flickr that I had to hijack on a new account to fit all these shots in!
That’s all for now. Hope you have a Merry Christmas! ~Chad
*This imagery was inspired by an episode of Pokemon, Bulbasaur-Charmander-Squirtle(-Pikachu!) era. Brock was making rice cakes when Ash noticed a camera lens (wanting to take a picture of Pikachu) appear from behind some bushes. He over-reacted, imagining it to fire a laser projectile of sorts, and ruined their little rice cake picnic. I’ve never been able to shake that episode from my mind since I watched it as a kid.