You can feel the American ambiance when you step in a Denny’s restaurant. I was not able to check it out when we went to Los Angeles, but I have heard positive reviews about Denny’s Restaurant in the US. In that regard, Denny’s Resto in Christchurch is next in my review.

Being open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week is a great help for people who are hungry in the oddest times of the day. The place is clean and spacious. Parking is also easy and plentiful. However, unfortunately those are the only positive notes that I can give.

Food ranges from bland to average. There is nothing special or outstanding with the taste. I also feel that menus are overpriced. Orders take very long. Service is acceptable, but screams improvement. Adding salt to the injury is the obnoxious and annoying “security guard” stationed when we were there past midnight. He is very unfriendly, he frowned at us and he keeps looking at us as if we are stealing cutleries. I realize he is just doing his job but there is a way to do it without irritating people.

This is not a value-for-money-restaurant. I have no plans on eating there anytime soon.

Denny’s Restaurant is located 382 Moorhouse Ave, Christchurch, New Zealand. Call 03 365 5535 for reservations.

Verdict: Don’t bother.

Later tonight, UK and former British colonies New Zealand, Canada and Australia will be celebrating Guy Fawkes Night or sometimes known as Bonfire Night. It commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605 wherein a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the House of Parliament in London, England. His target was King Janes I of England, his family and most of the Protestant aristocrats. The Parliament at that time persecuted the local Catholics in England. He and other conspirators were caught and consequently tortured before executed.

It became mandatory in the UK to celebrate the night of November 5 every year as Guy Fawkes Night. It became a day of thanksgiving for the failed plot. Lighting bonfires and street festivities mark the events. They would usually make effigies of Fawkes to be burnt on the November 5 bonfire.

In modern times, people in Britain and other former British colonies still let off fireworks during Guy Fawkes Night. Here in New Zealand, the sale of fireworks was progressively modulated after cases of fireworks -related fires and injuries. I think it makes sense to ban personal fireworks altogether, and leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Some may argue I did not grow up in New Zealand, therefore, I would not know how fun fireworks are. Actually I do, every New Years Eve, the Philippines becomes a like a battleground from the fireworks and firecrackers. However, year after year, injuries are still very common, and there should come a time when it should be strictly regulated.

I am all for fun, but if “fun” results to damage to properties and injuries (not to mention animals are so scared of the noise), then I am out.

Today Americans decide on who will be the next president of the United States of America. It is a big responsibility because they elect one of the most powerful men on Earth: the leader of a superpower, the president of the US.

The opinion polls puts Obama ahead of McCain, but it is foolhardy for Obama to be overconfident at this stage. The results of the election will be revealed soon, but in the meantime, the financial crisis is not waiting for the results. Bush still needs to foresee the US until the announcement of the winning candidate. The new president will then have to take the reins of a nation facing difficult times ahead. The alarming rise in unemployment, climate change and the housing slump are a few pressing issues that the new president will face.

I personally prefer Obama to McCain, because I feel McCain will just continue the same government that Bush started (being both Republicans). It was the Bush administration that invaded Iraq in response to the September 11 attack when clearly there is no connection. The Iraq war that continually bleeds millions of dollars that should have been used for the restoration of the economy.

While Obama’s race should not be an issue, I am afraid it is. Racists do exist, and many will not vote for Obama just because of his race. There have been rumours of attempts for Obama’s life (reminds me to watch 24 Season 1). This is very unfortunate because the man is very talented and I feel he will bring change. He believes in global cooperation and development, and not dominance through bullying. He wants peace, and he wants to talk to nations that do not agree with the US policies rather than go to war with them.

This is not a mark of cowardice, rather wisdom.

Osaka Restaurant is an excellent value for money restaurant. The average price for a set meal is $10.00, now how can you top that? A set meal consists of rice, miso soup (made of fermented soybeans & salt), Japanese salad and your chosen mains. You get to choose from a whole range of yummy Japanese mains from the pork tonkatsu to the Japanese-style Chicken Barbecue. There are some set meals where the rice, soup and salad are unlimited (or bottomless, whichever you call it). Given the generous servings for the meals, you would be sure to be full. The soup is exceptional, the salad fresh and the dressing exquisite.

For the price that you will pay, do not expect a posh venue though. This is not the place for a formal dinner. The place is very homely and you really feel that you are in a restaurant in Japan when you step in. There are heaps of Japanese eating there so that will tell you that they serve authentic Japanese dishes.

The staffs are very helpful and friendly. Food is prepared fast. Tables are clean. Awesome place :)

Oishi des ne!

Osaka Restaurant is located 129 Gloucester St, Christchurch Central, New Zealand. Call (03) 377 7377 for reservations or takeaways.

Verdict: Recommended. Their motto says it all: cheap, but yummy.

Being a multilingual has heaps of advantages. You get to exercise your brain and you get to learn new stuff. Here are some common Nihongo phrases that may be useful:

Nice to meet you! Hajimemashite!

Good morning ohayou.

Hello konnichiwa.

Good evening konbanwa.

Good night O yasumi nasai.

Good bye sayonara.

I am (really) sorry Gomen nasai

Excuse me/Pardon sumimasen.

How are you? (polite) O genki desu ka.

I am fine Genki desu

Yes Hai

No iie

Thank you Arigatou

Wait a moment, please Chotto Matte kudasai

Thank you for this delicious meal! Gochiso sama deshita

I am hungry Onaka (ga) suita!

I am thirsty Nodo (ga) kawaita

How much is it? Ikura desu ka?

I missed the turtles. Growing up in the 80’s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (now that is a mouthful of a name) are one of my favourite cartoon characters. It seems the trend in the movie industry today is reviving the 80’s icons. They resurrected the Transformers to the big screen (with great success if I may add); and Knight Rider, 90210, etc in the TV’s.

In this movie, they used the latest technology in CGI to create a fast and modern update of the hit TV show. The CGI is absolutely breathtaking; the fight-scenes, though non-violent (for the kiddie audiences), are amazing. The turtles still deliver a few funny lines occasionally, but overall humour was toned down a bit in this movie.

The storyline is a bit shallow, but hey, it is a movie about mutated talking turtles trained as ninjas, just how farfetched can you get?

Overall, this movie is an excellent walk through memory lane. If you are a fan during the 80’s, then this movie is an excellent treat. If you have not heard of them before, then this is your chance to check the turtles out. It is not too late to be a fan. Cowabunga dude!

Verdict: Rent it.

I chanced upon the news last night in NZ TV3 where they featured illegal horse fighting in Mindanao, Philippines. A British news correspondent posed as a tourist in order to document this barbaric “tradition” in North Cotabato. Let me tell you that there is nothing more appalling than people training gentle horses to become fierce animals just for the sake of betting and entertainment. As many as 40 horses were maimed and injured in this three-day “event”. The video showed throngs of people betting and cheering in the stands.

Horse fighting is illegal and in violation of Republic Act 8485 otherwise known as the Animal Welfare Act of the Philippines. The irony of the matter is that the event was organized and sanctioned by none other than the town Mayor. The video also showed a police officer right in front of the arena condoning the event. The mayor contested that horse fighting is a long-standing tradition in North Cotabato. He appealed to everyone to respect this custom and to try to understand it rather than impose their own. He also claimed that the horses’ owner cared for their horses like people in Manila who care for their Mercedes Benz.

I think this backward “tradition/custom/culture” has no place in today’s modern world. A custom that encroaches on the welfare of others, be it humans or animals, should be scrapped at once. Horses are such beautiful and peaceful animals, and for someone to corrupt nature and turn horses into ferocious beasts are disgusting. The Philippines have a dismal record in animal welfare; and I hope and pray it changes soon. We must put to an end any form of animal cruelty. The animal kingdom is here to share this planet with us humans equally. We are the custodians of God’s creations. Earth is supposed to be shared in partnership, not ownership.

I know, I know, condemn the act, not the offender. Nevertheless, does it make you angry that this is still happening and has NO signs of stopping? A civilization is judged by the way the people treat their animals.

(Photo from Sky News)

New Zealand First Party Leader Winston Peters announced their strict immigration policy stating that people allowed into the country should be reduced. As a backgrounder, Peters is an outspoken critic of the open door immigration policy of New Zealand. He is very vocal about his disdain for immigrants especially Asians. There was a time in 1999 that he blamed immigrants for Auckland’s entire problems from traffic to crime.

While I understand that we are all going through some tough economic times, and consequently, many NZ jobs are lost, immigrants will NOT compete with these jobs because to start with, most immigrants are skilled. The NZ Immigration, through the Skilled Migrants Policy, ensures that immigrants arriving in NZ have the skills that the country desperately needs.

Mr Peters suggested reducing the immigration quota from 50,000 to 10,000. Inasmuch as this is downright pointless and irresponsible, it undermines the enormous help that immigrants are contributing to the NZ economy. It is usually the immigrants that starts a business, business that generates jobs. Income tax from immigrants (which is unbelievable high) contributes a chunk on the national budget. Immigrants would rarely be involved in a crime, unless they are the victim (sad fact). Immigrants rarely use state benefits and welfares compared to locals.

I sometimes find it amusing when somebody feels threatened of immigrants because of job competition. Does he want to open a liquor shop, or maybe a dairy? On the other hand, maybe he wants to be a caregiver or even a programmer. A company hires people based on qualifications; and if people are too complacent or simply underqualified, be an immigrant or a Kiwi, then they will not make the cut. Simple as that. It has nothing to do with the passport you are holding.

It is a good thing that the incumbent Prime Minister, Helen Clark said that Mr. Peter’s idea is not sensible. In a small population nation such as New Zealand, immigrants play a huge role in the advancement of the economy. Stand proud immigrants.

With the New Zealand 2008 elections coming, I see an abundance of promises from politicians: from the shocking to the absurd.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia called for the abolition of the dole and subsequent replacement with government-subsidised jobs. A dole (not related to a pineapple business) is cash received from the government if you are unable to work for some reason. While I agree from her statement “I don't think it is healthy for the spirit of our people, to be getting money for doing nothing”, I believe the total removal of dole will contribute to society collapse.

Doles, as with any other welfare benefits received for whatever reason, are susceptible to abuse. While this is inevitable, it is undeniable that doles help many people, even deserving ones. Doles help bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. Doles prevent slums like in third world countries from appearing.

However, as a taxpayer, I find it sad and at the most disturbing to see and hear able-bodied people receiving doles for years. There has been a rampant dependence on handouts that people are becoming lazy. I think the best course of action is to offer the government-subsidised jobs so that people can figure out that they can earn more from wages rather than doles.

This film is inspired by the early life of famed author Jane Austen, who has written exceptional novels like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. While much of the material is based on real events, there are plenty of assumptions made, especially on the relationship between Jane Austen and Thomas Lefroy. The film attempts to portray what Jane Austen may have gone through when she was in her 20’s; and provide probable cause and inspiration for her novels.

Anne Hathaway was casted as Jane and James McAvoy as Thomas Lefroy. I find it odd that they chose an American actress for the part, Keira Knightly may have done a better job. However, I acknowledge Anne Hathaway’s effort in speaking her part in a British accent.

I find the story vey slow in the beginning, almost bordering on boredom, but it will pick up the pace after 30 minutes of the film. You may be tempted to walk out of the DVD, but if you do sit through it until the end, you will be awarded with a rich story, exceptional script, outstanding acting and a profound respect for the great author that was Jane Austen.

A must see for everyone interested in an intelligent film especially aspiring writers.

Verdict: Rent it.

A recent article I saw about racism in the UK made me write again. As a backgrounder, a BBC Comedy “Harry and Paul” made a “racist” and degrading portrayal of a Filipina house cleaner (maid). You can read the whole news here: This is my two cents with regard to this issue, while I do not condone that BBC episode; I think this is an excellent opportunity to examine ourselves with regard to racism.

Racism is aptly defined as “the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races”. Let us alter that definition a bit and replace the word “race” with “skin colour”. Now does that ring a bell? Why are skin-whitening creams and beauty whatnots very popular in the Philippines? Why are celebrities and popular politicians fair-skinned? Why do some Pinoys open an umbrella on a sunny day? Why do some Pinoys wear long pants and long sleeve shirts in the beach? Is fair skin more superior to a dark skin?

Moving away from the skin colour, let us talk about speech accents. Why is having a provincial accent a laughable matter in Philippine TV shows, movies or afternoon variety shows? Then again, we are awestruck when we hear a British accent or an American accent. How one accent is better than another is eluding me.
Then there is religion. Why is a newspaper headline will read “Tatlong Muslim Nang-Holdap ng Bangko” (Three Muslims Rob a Bank), but you will never see “Isang Kristiano Namaril sa Manila” (A Christian on a Gun Rampage in Manila) or “Isang Born Again, Sinaksak ang Kaibigan”. No wonder we fear Arabs, the media fuels the fear with dodgy journalism. It is sad to know that Arabs or Muslims are sometimes labelled as terrorists just because of the way they dress.

Why is it that a foreigner in the Philippines gets a first class treatment in establishments? I have yet to find another country like the Philippines where a citizen is second-class to a fair-skinned visitor. While this can be attributed to the Pinoy’s enormous sense of hospitality but I fear it has become too much.

While we are quick to react to foreigners who wronged us, I think it is also worth looking at the wrongs that have been happening right under our noses. Rampant racism or any form of stereotyping is prevalent in the Philippines. This is a very sensitive and touchy topic. While this article may strike a bad chord with others, I only hope that this article inspires everyone to do a little soul searching:

To solve a problem, it is essential to recognise that there IS a problem. While there is nothing wrong by being angry at the tasteless UK show, it is also meriting that we know how to exorcise ourselves with any forms of racism. Learn as much as you can about other cultures. The world is very diverse; a hodgepodge of cultures, that is very interesting to learn. The more you know about other cultures, the less likely for racism to occur. Respect others. Realize that some cultures may be sensitive to topics that may be mundane to you. Racism is a learned behaviour; ergo it can be unlearned. Start in your homes; raise a family that is responsible and tolerant. Educate your children with the concept of equality.

In the end, there is only one race, the human race.

A lot can be heard and read about the US financial crisis; as huge news it is, how exactly will it affect the Juan dela Cruz’s of New Zealand? To get a firmer understanding of the situation, we begin where it all started. The US government enacted laws where it became very easy for people to buy houses that they couldn’t afford with mortgages that are too steep for their financial capabilities. It was a precarious balance for a while because heaps of houses are constructed to offset the increased demand. However, very soon the bubble was punctured when the banks realised that people really cannot pay their mortgages. Foreclosures became common, bankruptcies are aplenty, businesses are loosing money, and unemployment rose dramatically; on top of the highly controversial cost of the Iraq War ($600 Billion and still going up). The factors above (plus a whole lot more: politics, greed, irresponsibility, dodgy policies etc.) took a toll on the US economy.

Okay, we do not live in the US, in fact we are on the opposite side of the globe, what does it mean to the Pinoys down under? For starters, US have a large population, immense military strength, and undeniable influence in international influence. An economic crisis would send ripples of consequences to the rest of the world, in particular the decrease of economic aids from the US to the developing countries.

It is a known fact that China manufactures almost everything, and a decreased demand from a large nation like the US would be detrimental to the growing economy of China. Again, we do not live in China, so what does it mean to us? Even if the factories are in China, they still import raw materials from overseas.

One notable New Zealand export is wool. A decrease in demand from China will hurt the small farmers and small wool businesses, which in turn will affect the NZ economy. New Zealand officially is under a recession. A recession is defined as a “state of the economy declines; a widespread decline in the GDP and employment and trade lasting from six months to a year”. Unfortunately for us though. it is just starting. Food and oil prices may continue to rise, we may see more businesses downsizing, the NZ dollar exchange rate may slid farther down.

In the midst of all these sad circumstances, is there hope? There definitely is hope. A bailout plan was enacted to help the ailing US economy. Let us just hope that they are wiser now. After the NZ elections on November, the government can now focus on policies that will benefit the economy. The global uncertainties also brought a renewed faith in God, when the world has become very materialistic.

This dark storm is just but a phase in our lives. Pinoys are known to be very adaptive to any circumstances that fate will throw. Empower yourselves with WISE financial advises. Read more, and be updated with the current news and events. Study and learn new skills. Save. Stop the squabbling and be united for a change. Lastly pray often.

Arjee Bhajee is one of the best Indian restaurants in New Zealand. They offer casual dining of the most scrumptious curries and delectable rice. True you can find an Indian food store in all mall food courts and numerous locations throughout New Zealand, but trust me when I say that this is different.

Prepare to be heartily filled because there is a good deal of servings for each dish plus all the rice you can eat (eat-all-you-kanin). We ordered Calcutta Fish (Fillets of gurnard spice rubbed with lemon juice and garlic ginger, and seared with mustard seed, curry leaves and coconut cream) for $16.00 and two Garlic Naan breads for $3.50 each. Believe me when I say this, but this is the best curry dish that I have the pleasure of tasting. All the ingredients blended perfectly I must say, and I just cannot get enough. The flavor is very rich but not very spicy.

The Naan bread compliments the dish and the rice. The bread is very soft and tasty, perfect for dipping to the yummy curry sauce.

However if you still have separation issues with the ever famous Butter Chicken then you must order Chicken Makhani for $15.50. Be forewarned though that after tasting the Chicken Makhani you might develop a memory lapse for the food court mall-type Butter Chicken.

You can check out the other dishes in their menu, just watch the spicy level if you are not into very spicy foods. Lamb Bhutuwa for $15.50 is awesome and you can check out Bhajees (crispy onion and spinach fritters) for $7.00. One thing to note though is that I am not a big fan of the Narnis, an Indian souvlaki.

Service is very fast and very friendly. Ambience feels very casual but not cheap. Tables are spacious and ideal for group dinners. Parking is available on both sides of Riccarton Road or Bartlett Street.

If you are a fan of Indian dishes then you definitely MUST try this restaurant. If you are a Filipino and you miss the Pinoy dishes with gata then you must order the Calcutta Fish.

Arjee Bhajee is located at 13C Riccarton Road ((Hagley Park end of Riccarton Road), Christchurch, New Zealand. Call (03) 365 6633 for reservations or takeaways.

If you are closer to the City Centre, then they have a branch at 300 Colombo Street. Call (03) 337 0050 for reservations or takeaways.

Verdict: Recommended.

New Zealand is famous for creating the blockbuster movies Lord of the Rings Trilogy. There are however, more movies set and filmed in NZ that are very notable and with substance. One such noteworthy film is Her Majesty.

This is a charming fictional story based upon the actual visit of Queen Elizabeth II to New Zealand in 1953. It features a simple tale of a girl, a Maori and the Queen. The plot may be elementary but it tackles very deep issues like racial discrimination, injustice, and ignorance. It is a feel-good movie with lots of plot twists and lessons to learn along the way.

The characters are well defined but the acting is a bit stiff, except for Vicky Haughton playing as Hira Mata. Cinematography is awesome; it captures the very early New Zealand environment.
This is different from the common Hollywood films that focus on special effects, violence and dysfunctional behaviours. This is a film of characters that you can identify with, smart dialogues and imaginative plot twists.

Verdict: A must watch for all ages. If you are in NZ or planning to go to NZ, this film gives you a peek at what it is like in NZ 50 years ago.

New Zealand never ceases to amaze me; it is such a marvellous place. New Zealand ranking as the Least Corrupt Nation won me over again. My curiosity sometimes gets me, how did New Zealand achieve that ranking? Are Kiwis generally honest? Is it because of the economic system? Is it because there is less population here?

In contrast, why is Philippines generally perceived as a corrupt nation? I did not bother to find out what ranking Philippines is but I surmise it will not be high. Again the inquisitive me is thinking, now why is that, when the Philippines was once known as a great nation right after World War II.

To start of, New Zealand has one of the most lenient and sometimes bizarre laws. Prostitution is a legal profession, some drugs are legal, and punishments for crimes are, broadly speaking, light. On top of that, Kiwis are not generally religious; and yet people mostly are not corrupt.

I suppose the way to understand it is to know the opposite of corruption. The inverse of corruption is honesty and everyone will agree that Kiwis are honest (again generally speaking). I reckon it is because the smallness of the community fosters honesty. Everyone knows everyone. You care for your neighbours, and the same sentiment is reciprocated. It is not the strict laws that make an honest nation; it is when a nation follows the basic rules of life: share everything, play fair, do not take things that are not yours, say sorry when you hurt somebody, etc. Everyone knows these rules because these are the rules that were taught in kindergarten. See Robert Fulghum’s website on “ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN”

Philippines on the other hand is a sad case of a lot of things going amiss: colonial mentality, crab mentality, poverty, and overpopulation among other things. Nothing more damning than the Spanish occupation influence over the culture. Greed, dishonesty, selfishness are only some of the attributes our ancestors picked up and consequently passed down to generations. These attributes fuel corruption; and they contradict the basics.

I sometimes imagine what if the British won over Spain when they were fighting for the Philippine occupation and colonization. Would the Philippines (it will not be called Philippines to start with) be like New Zealand or Australia of today, all under the British monarch? Will it make the Philippines an honest nation? I honestly think so.

It is fun to watch a Latin Dance performance. The steps and motion, though complicated, are very fluid, and they look like they are having fun. Salsa in particular, is splendour to watch.

Invigorated by a performance we saw, we decided to take a lesson in Latin Dancing. It can be a very daunting especially in the first weeks; but upon continuous practise, it will come naturally.
Latin Dancing is also an excellent workout. You will surely break into a sweat after only a few minutes in the lesson, even if you take into account that New Zealand is a very cold place.

It is very rewarding to learn a new step you once thought to be very complicated.

I think the key to learning Latin Dancing is to enjoy what you are doing. True it can be difficult at start but you gradually build your knowledge base with simple steps and then you try to string them all together. In all its complexity, Latin Dancing is merely stringing together simple steps to form one awesome routine that will surely amaze anyone watching.

I also think Filipinos are at an advantage because Filipinos are innate in arts particularly in singing and dancing. It would be nice if Filipinos in New Zealand will be known as natural Salsa dancers. I encourage everyone to try Latin Dancing; you can search the yellow pages for dance studios nearest you.

We take our dancing lessons with Latin Fire in Christchurch. Led by Donna, Warren and Jeff, there are different levels of classes to suit the skill of anyone who wants to learn Latin Dancing. The instructors are very helpful and patient in teaching a newbie or an intermediate, learn to dance. Check out their website: for schedules and events.

I am a sucker for feel-good movies. I love a movie where you are smiling when you come out of the theatre; you feel it is worth the somehow steep price of a movie ticket. This movie is one of those cases.

Any movie coming from Disney/Pixar is sure to be a quality film. Kudos to the creative team behind that studio for churning out another top-notch creation. Wall-E is the latest film from Disney/Pixar and arguably the best so far.

The film features the best animation ever: the colours are distinct, the textures of the robots distinguishable, and movement lifelike. Technological advancement in film making never ceases to astonish me.

It features a heart-warming story told without much dialogue. The writers have immense success in depicting the tale through facial expressions and gibberish intonation. It is amazing that the viewers can feel the emotions coming from a fictional robot that cannot talk. Comic scenes are also aplenty, and they are all genuinely amusing; it is good to know that the writers have not run out of good jokes.

If you want to see a film of high calibre, then definitely go watch the movie. You will not regret it.

I give this movie, 10 stars out of 10.

Verdict: Definitely watch it.

(Click on the photos to see the actual size)
Figure 1

To create additional controls for a CreateUserWizard, you can add a TemplatedWizardStep before the CreateUserWizardStep. See Figure 1.
Figure 2
Inside the TemplatedWizardStep, you can add forms for collection of other info like First Name, Address, etc.

Figure 3

To access the controls inside the TemplatedWizardStep, first use FindControl to access the TemplatedWizardStep. Then use FindControl to access the text box. See Figure 3.

Cable appears in the Marvel Legends Apocalypse Series 6. Marvel Legends is an action figure line based on the characters of Marvel comics.

The character first appeared in 1990, and was created by writer Louise Simonson and artist/co-writer Rob Liefeld.

A member of the X-Men, Cable was born Nathan Christopher Charles Summers, the child of Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey).

Within the comics, Bishop is a mutant; presented with vast telepathic and telekinetic abilities, which were limited by his need to restrain his techno-organic infection. His techno-organic body parts possess enhanced strength and durability, and his techno-organic eye gives him enhanced eyesight, allowing him to see further than a normal human and in the infrared spectrum. He is also able to interface his techno-organic body parts with machinery, using them to hack into computers and open electronic locks.

A Harry Potter clone this is not. A Hollywood fantasy movie this is not. This is a grown-up fairy tale set in the 1944 Fascist Spain. Since this is a Spanish movie, expect subtitles; but it should not bother you much since dialogues are not too many.

I was a bit hesitant to watch this because of the film age rating of 16 due to violence and gore. However, after watching it, the violence in the film is required for the story: to convey the characters and the stage where the story unfolded.

One of the highlights of the film is the lullaby hum. It is sad and haunting but at the same time soothing. You can hear the song in certain parts of the film and it adds depth and mystery to the scene.

The movie is full of rich symbolisms and abstracts that an analytical viewer would enjoy dissecting. Yet at the very core, the movie is magnificent because of its simplicity.

This is not a stereotypical Hollywood fantasy movie. If you want to see creativity at its finest, then definitely watch this film. I give this movie, 9 stars out of 10.

Verdict: Definitely watch it.

A definite eye candy: stunning cut scenes, lengthy and engaging game play, and a new control scheme for a Final Fantasy series title.

I rate this game, 10 stars out of 10.

Verdict: A must-have on your game collection.

Garden City: now that is a word coinage that you would not see most of the time. For me a city is the opposite of a garden, and to find a city that IS a garden is uncommon. Yet the biggest city in the South Island of New Zealand has done it.In addition to the countless council parks scattered around the Christchurch suburbs, right smack in the middle of the CBD is a park with gargantuan proportions, Hagley Park.

Spring is an interesting season to check out the famous park because of the myriads of daffodils that will paint the park yellow. On a sunny day, it would be safe to assume that everyone will troop down to the park to have a picnic, relax and recharge, read a book, or get an exercise. Careful though if you are prone to hay fever: fresh bloom flowers might become disagreeable to you.
Here are some tips on how to get the most of the Garden City:

1. One inexpensive relaxation technique is to lie down in a part of the park of your choosing and just stare at the sky. Don’t forget the sunscreen. Side note: do not stare directly at the sun, no relaxation there.
2. A picnic in the park is an excellent idea. The picturesque surroundings of the park go hand-in hand with warm rice and adobo. Make sure you have those thermal picnic bags to keep the warmth. Please don’t litter.
3. Do not forget bring your own water, there are no manongs roaming around selling ‘mineral’.
4. Biking is an excellent way to get around. It’s a good exercise, and you don’t contribute to global warming. If you don’t know how to ride bike, then there’s no excellent time to learn than now. Garage sales are the best places to get cheap bikes. Biking is prohibited INSIDE the Botanical Gardens though.
5. Take your dog with you to play in the park, they will love it. The exercise is good for you too.
6. Bring you SLRs and digital cameras; every shooting angle is worthy of a front cover of National Geographic.
7. Bring an extra bread to feed the ducks, or if you’re the playful type, feed the always-hungry sea gulls. They’ll take the food right out of your hand if you’ll let them. (Word of caution, if you feed one sea gull, prepare to meet all of his friends).
8. Refrain from smoking, anywhere. Not cool.
9. Just a few minutes walk away from the Hagley Park is the Arts Centre. Plenty of food, street performances, bargains, concerts, etc.

If beautiful well-maintained parks, postcard quality sceneries and clean, crisp air are your thing, then you can’t go wrong with the Garden City, Christchurch.

There are heaps of Chinese restaurants and takeaways in NZ, but few will compare to FoodSing in terms of palate-satisfaction. I think you can judge the wellness of a restaurant based on the difficulty to acquire table seats during dinnertime. As the place becomes very full from 7PM onwards, it is in your best interest to make a reservation first before showing up at the door at 7PM (or you could arrive with no seat reservation at 6PM just as we did, hehe).

According to our Chinese friends, the menu is influenced by Southern China, which basically means that it will be a bit spicy. You can request a dish to be made more spicy or less, depending on your preference.

When we eat outside, we usually make it a point to order dishes that cannot be duplicated in the home kitchen. As such, we decided to order ‘Whole Fish with Sweet Chilli Sauce’ for $18.00. I usually have a mental reservation when it comes to fish, but the dish is surprisingly good. The fish meat is very crunchy and the sauce is spot-on. If you miss ‘Sweet and Sour Fish’ in the Philippines, then this is the closest replica you can get. We also ordered ‘Spring Rolls’ for $4.00 just because I love lumpia, simple as that :)

They have a varied menu, and I am sure everything will be exquisite. You may also try the ‘Sizzling Hot Plate Spice Beef’ for $18.00.
In regard to the pricing, I see it fair; not too dear, not too cheap. All worth the bucks because of the tastebud stimulation you will get, all in generous servings.

One thing I do not like about FoodSing is the staff. I guess they all had a long day, or it was a very buys night, but I find the service lacking. True the order came in fast, but I guess it makes no harm for them to smile occasionally or ask the customers how they are.
FoodSing is located at 376 Riccarton Road, Christchurch, New Zealand. Call (03) 3416992 for reservations or takeaways.

Verdict: Recommended.

Ah, definitely one of the finest titles to arrive in the PSP. It has also the qualities of an excellent game: the video quality is spotless, the in-between chapter animations are awesome, the game length is adequate, game difficulty is progressive; it has a creative story, a dash of violence, a little bit of adult content, and an excellent soundtrack.

It is unbelievable how the programmers of this game squeeze so much juice from the humble PSP to render the amazing colours and animations in the game. The characters from the game came straight from you college Greek Mythology. It is refreshing to interact with the characters we once read from college.

If you were to buy one game for the PSP, this would be it.

I rate this game, 10 stars out of 10.

Verdict: A must-have on your game collection

Ok, who else haven't seen this film? After all the hype and buzz around the film, is it really an exceptional film?
To start with, this is not a film for children, unlike the previous Batman films of the past. It deals with deep moral and political issues that may seem taboo in a superhero flick. They transformed Batman from everyone's favourite hero into a dark and mysterious crusader, who is imperfect, and torn between the definition of justice or vigilante. It may also have been patterned after Frank Miller’s take of Batman in the 90’s.
As much as the billions of dollars it has earned and will continue to earn with release of the DVD, I seem to think that the movie may have been overrated; a bit, I might add. True the acting is top-notched, special effects are aplenty, but I think what I missed is the touch of humour and a coherent and simple plot. The story dragged on and on, when it should have ended a few minutes earlier. However, I must give credit to the writers for the unpredictable plot and awesome dialogue.Batman: The Dark Knight is one of those movies where you can only watch it once. I think that is the reason it will not overtake Titanic in terms of ticket sales. In addition, much of Titanic's success came from international ticket sales, something the Dark Knight's complex plot cannot bank on.

Batman became a very profitable franchise for director Christopher Nolan and the next Batman is now getting the buzz. There are rumours that Johnny Depp will play the villain Riddler (previously played by funny man Jim Carrey) and Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman will play the villain Penguin (previously played by Danny DeVito). However, they might go the other way and pick a villain that has not appeared in the Batman movies of the past. Funny though that the villains are getting more buzz than Batman, the title character.

I give this movie, 7 stars out of 10.

Verdict: Will prefer Iron Man over the Dark Knight anytime of the day but you still need to watch it in a movie house, just for the heck of it.

This is definitely a chick flick. Saw the movie 2 nights ago. Film stars Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. I give this movie 5 stars out of 10.This is not really a laugh-out-loud type of comedy; it is more like a smile-once-in-a-while type. The love connection between Hugh and Drew leaves something to be desired, it does not really connect, and it feels blank. The movie soundtrack is awesome though, growing up in the 80's era, you can't help but have a nostalgic feeling listening to the new wave tunes. The way they combined the modern and the 80's style of music is genius.
In the DVD menu under Special Features, you can watch a gag-reel. I can only muster a faint smile while watching it because both stars are not good comedians. Still I would recommend people to watch it, especially if it is only $1 to rent in VideoEzy :)
Verdict: Rent it.
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