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Archive for the ‘Philippine Reference Alert’

The Philippine-American War and the cocaine shortage in 1900s New York in The Knick

October 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Philippine Reference Alert, Television 2 Comments →

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Clive Owen in The Knick: Not for the faint-hearted.

We’ve been enjoying Steven Soderbergh’s series The Knick, about the staff of the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York in the 1900s (In case you thought it was about one New York basketball player). Inasmuch as one can enjoy a series that is so brutal. The Knick stars Clive Owen as Dr. John Thackery, a brilliant surgeon who develops many ground-breaking techniques and is tireless in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. He’s also a cokehead, though it must be noted that cocaine was legal at the time and was used for medical procedures (and as an ingredient in Coca-Cola).

Towards the end of the first season, Dr. Thackery has a personal crisis: there’s a cocaine shortage in New York. The US is at war in the Philippines, and its cargo ships are under attack so shipments from China can’t reach America. (Wait, isn’t coca from South America?)

The Knick makes us happy to be living in the 21st century. Early 20th C medicine was positively medieval. How anyone survived the ministrations of doctors is beyond us.

Rating: Brutal, possibly great, enthusiastically recommended.

Warning: Lots of gore. You want fun gore, go watch The Strain. The gore here is grim and unforgiving.

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Tagalog gaffe in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master

March 17, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Language, Movies, Philippine Reference Alert 2 Comments →

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In The Master, Joaquin Phoenix plays an ex-navy man with post-traumatic stress disorder who falls in with a cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who may or may not be based on L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology. It’s an amazing, puzzling movie and Joaquin Phoenix’s approach to his role is the opposite of Daniel Day-Lewis’s in Lincoln. Whereas DDL appears to be in control of everything, including his pores and facial hair, Joaquin doesn’t seem to know what Joaquin is doing—he keeps surprising himself. Where is it coming from? He must be hell to direct but the result is beautiful and terrifying. More on the The Master later.

Noel pointed out the early scene, set in Hawaii, in which Joaquin’s character is drinking his homemade brew with some Pinoys. Tagalog is spoken in the background. Someone sings Dahil Sa ‘Yo, and its composer who, funnily enough, shares the name of the leader of the religious group El Shaddai, Mike Velarde. All is well, until you hear this bit of off-camera dialogue:

“Katabi siya ng artista.” (He’s beside the movie star.)

The artista being Joaquin Phoenix. Apparently the extras were so thrilled to be in the movie, they talked about it during a take, and no one in the editing room could understand Tagalog, tsk tsk.

Confirmed: We live in Dramaland.

November 24, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Philippine Reference Alert No Comments →


We can’t claim this one as a Pinoy. Not Zachary Quinto, Mr. Spock.

According to a Gallup survey, Singaporeans are “the least likely in the world to report experiencing emotions of any kind on a daily basis. The 36% who report feeling either positive or negative emotions is the lowest in the world. Filipinos, on the other hand, are the most emotional, with six in 10 saying they experience a lot of these feelings daily.”

Survey says…Filipinos are the most emotional people on earth. We’re inclined to agree, but those are their metrics? Who’s their control group, Vulcans?

Are there so many telenovelas because Filipinos are melodramatic, or are Filipinos melodramatic because there are so many telenovelas? The substitute national anthem could be “Feelings” (woe woe woe feeeelings) as sung by a former first lady.

Thanks to sunflowii for the alert!

For alerts, tipoffs and invitations, email saffron.safin@gmail.com. Yes, we accept invitations for talks and workshops, but only on subjects we actually know something about. We can’t discuss trends in social media because we’re not in the social media—this blog’s facebook page is maintained by our brilliant publicist friend. We can’t discuss lambing; do check out stuff we’ve written to see what we’re qualified to talk about, i.e. reading, writing, movies especially terrible ones, cats, loafing, and nerdiness. There is a fee, which varies; if you’re a school we’ll waive it, if you charge participants admission we charge too, and if you’re a corporation, pay up.

Onion encyclopedia exposes vast worldwide Filipino conspiracy

November 23, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Philippine Reference Alert 4 Comments →

From the Onion Book of Known Knowledge:

Media, Filipino-­controlled tool os­tensibly intended to distribute news and information, but which is in ac­tuality used by the Filipinos to spread disinformation and propa­ganda to promote their vast world­ wide Filipino conspiracy. Run by an elite secret consortium of the world’s most powerful Filipinos, the media is a mechanism through which the fat­cat Filipinos who rule New York and Hollywood are able to cunningly disseminate a coded version of their agenda into mil­lions of unsuspecting homes via their stranglehold on America’s television networks, press, film, publishing, and recording indus­tries. Anyone who attempts to speak truth to power and shake up the media establishment is shut down by the ruthless, tightly con­nected Filipino cabal, which is of course funded by the same network of Filipino bankers and moneymen who have run the planet for centuries.

Thanks to turmukoy for the alert. Dammit we’ve been outed!

The yogurt gambit in chess

August 10, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Philippine Reference Alert No Comments →

David Bezmogis’s elegant, self-assured first novel The Free World follows the Russian-Jewish Krasnansky family out of the Soviet Union and into the West, and presumably, freedom. There are many plucky immigrant novels about brave souls escaping to the new world and making it against all odds…this isn’t one of those. That might yet happen, but in 1978 the family is stuck in Rome, waiting for their papers with thousands of other Russian Jews, half-dreading the future and wondering whether they were right to leave the old country. And they do what families do when they’re stuck together and facing uncertainty: they bicker.

The family patriarch Samuil, who had been a fairly important man in Latvia, is particularly bitter about their situation. He takes to visiting the club for emigres, where he meets a fellow army veteran.

—Are you a chess player? the man asked.
—I wouldn’t call myself one, Samuil lowered his newspaper and said.
—Do you follow the game at all?
—No more than anyone else.
—But you’re aware of the championships in the Philippines?
—Naturally.

—Ah yes, chess, Roidman said. Which is where we started. Now I am back to what I wanted to tell you originally about the curious incident at the chess match. The game was played to another draw, you see, but Korchnoi lodged a formal protest because, during the match, Karpov’s supporters brought Karpov a cup of blueberry yogurt. Korchnoi claims that this could have been a signal agreed upon by Karpov’s team. A secret tactic. They bring a cup of blueberry yogurt and it means: accept the draw. Or they bring strawberry and it means: knight to rook four. It’s wonderful. There’s no limit to human intrigue, is there?

We remember that during the world chess championship held in Baguio, Viktor Korchnoi accused a member of Anatoly Karpov’s entourage of hypnotizing him.

The Free World by David Bezmozgis is available at National Bookstores, Php695.

Will Ferrell courts Filipino tilt-a-whirl operators vote

July 23, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Philippine Reference Alert 3 Comments →

As long as you’re agog at the new Bourne Legacy trailer featuring Tagalog dialogue and a chase scene on Manila rooftops, here’s the trailer for the Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis movie The Campaign, in which congressional candidate Ferrell sucks up to Filipino tilt-a-whirl amusement park ride operators. “Salamat.”