"It is critical you pay attention at this time..."

I need to increase my readership haha
- JFav

Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's A Mouthful: Starbucks' New Drink is More of the Same

Confession time. I (and my family) am one of those who used to (keywords, used to!) consider Starbucks' Frappuccinos as desserts. You know, What's for dessert? Starbucks tayo! Like that. We perpetuated the idea that this coffee mega-chain's frozen, blended drinks were the ideal dessert: quick and easy to drink, cold and sweet. Aaaand there may have been that small notion that it indicated a certain life status, but that's neither here or there and I digress.

I've gone away from that line of thinking. I know, I've finally joined the rest of the sane human race. Ha ha. There are a number of reasons why. For one, those drinks are damn expensive. Two, those drinks are damn expensive. Three, I'm not really a fan of coffee. Four, I know how unhealthy they are. Five, they're really sickeningly sweet sometimes. 

Now, I'm not here to bash Starbucks. Many others have done that/are doing that/will do that. Starbucks and I are cool. I like their napkins. I like their green tea Frappuccinos (healthier, ang peg (well, okay, slightly healthier)) because they aren't as sweet. I like their waffles and sausage rolls and the cool cakes they have sometimes. And I absolutely LOVE their falafels! So this isn't me acting out against a mega-corp. I just, matured, I suppose is the right word for it. I am unwilling to part with my money for their drinks, but their food, that I still like. Peace, everybody.

What I am here to talk about is Starbucks' new drink, their Dark Mocha White Chocolate Pudding frappuccino blended beverage. The signs had been up for a couple weeks now and it grabbed my attention enough that I wanted to try it (there's also a Green Tea White Chocolate Pudding frappuccino blended beverage, maybe I'll get that some other time).

The DMWCP frap (no, never typing its whole name again) is "a treat for chocolate lovers." It's basically a dark chocolate/coffee frappuccino with chocolate chips, white chocolate pudding at the base and dark mocha powder on top of whipped cream. It is the combination of a great many things sure to satisfy your sweet tooth, but did it mine?

Honestly, at first I found it too sweet and too bitter. I am not the biggest fan of dark chocolate so I should have expected that. Those first few sips were too strong for me, and I thought the rest of the drink would be a chore to get through. However, after the initial unpleasantness, each succeeding sip started bringing in more of the white chocolate pudding and the chocolate chips, which made for a much more palatable experience. Full disclosure though, I did not know how white chocolate pudding was supposed to taste like. And I still don't, because it really did not taste like white chocolate to me. That was fine though since it countered the bitterness of the dark chocolate and refreshed my palette each time. It got much better by the time the whipped cream had melted in with the rest of the drink. Then it tasted just like a regular old frappuccino. Once I reached the bottom of the cup, I found a mass of pudding still untouched. Again, it didn't really taste like white chocolate but it was innocuous enough for me to finish it.

My final verdict? Well, I won't be buying it again, that's for sure. Did I mention that the drink cost P200.00 (grande size)? Ha ha. So yeah, I don't regret it so much because I wanted to satisfy my curiosity, but I'm definitely not making a repeat buy. My forays into Starbucks branches will be to browse their sandwiches and pastries, looking for my falafel and for something interesting to munch on.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

All For a Glimpse of Royalty

LeBron James is my favorite basketball player.

An opportunity presents itself to go see him in person, after I miss out on being able to watch him play? I'm not passing that up. That's what led me to get in the car and make my way to Fort Bonifacio High Street. 

But I missed his Nike event so I wasn't part of the crowd that he tossed giveaway basketballs to. I was still able to see him in person though. He was maybe 20 feet in front of me and I got to see him for a total of what, 15, 20 seconds? My trip yielded just a brief glimpse of the 2013 NBA Finals MVP. Was it worth it?

I'm a big fan of LeBron and LeBron's game. I think he's the greatest basketball player alive. I defended him through all of his low-points and cheered him on during his moments of greatness. His game is part do-it-all destructiveness and win-together efficiency and it is something else to behold. The highlights are numerous, the statistics are incredible and the total package is once-in-a-lifetime. There's not much more we can say about him at this point that we don't already know, except that, that "more" we're expecting/hoping for is going to push him to all-time superlative heights, and then we're going to run out of things to say.

Was it worth it? Of course it was.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

So You Want a Revolution: Avengers sequel is 'Age of Ultron,' Fans' Heads Explode

San Diego Comic-Con had a heckuva third day with panels and shenanigans from both Warners/DC, Fox and Marvel. That sound you heard this morning was me letting out the manliest shriek in the history of the world, just beating out the last time I shrieked like that around the time they announced Joss Whedon as the director of Avengers and brought the whole cast on stage at Comic-Con a few years back.

Because something crazier topped that, and it was the entirety of the Marvel Studios Panel. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pass The Jaeger Pilot Sign-Up Sheet Please: An Open Letter to the United Nations

Dear United Nations Ambassadors,

Let me begin by saying that I hope all of you are all doing well and that you and your respective countries have not been squashed by a walking mountain. I haven't (obviously) but it was close! I live in Manila and am a survivor of last year's kaiju incursion. Man, was that terrifying! Seeing those things on TV is one thing, but in real life? You can't even begin to comprehend it. My family and I were lucky that we got to a shelter in time. Some of our neighbors didn't and were killed in the attack. We couldn't even find some of them, after. Right now, we're staying at a shelter (it's really a community basketball court) and living off these wonderful food rations you've been giving out. They taste like real oatmeal, yum! But I digress.

I write to you today about the "Wall of Life" defense project being constructed along our coastline. I just want to say that I think it's not going to work. I'm sure you guys know what you're doing and have your experts and all, but it seems to me that it's not going to be all that effective. I kinda get the sense that it won't be of much use against the kaiju. For one thing, the wall doesn't seem to have any weapons, no turrets or missile launchers of any kind. Is it electrified? I hope it is. I think any offensive capabilities would come in handy, you know, so that the wall is not just there to defend, but to repel kaiju attacks. Secondly, what happens if the kaiju, God-forbid, break through? I know you're building sturdy walls but if the attacks ramp up, well I hope that kaiju get tired because not much seems to slow them down. And that brings me to my last point: why are you getting rid of the Jaegers? We kinda liked them, you know. I mean, who doesn't love giant fighting super robots? We were raised on a bunch of them in our youth, and now that they actually exist, why do you have to take them away? Obviously, they appealed to us on an inner-kid level, but then you made them kaiju-killing machines and that pretty much endeared them to us on a basic-human-desire-to-live level. Why scrap that program then? Going back to my second point, if the wall falls, wouldn't having a Jaeger ready be a smart idea? I know recently they've been getting beat up badly, but if I were running things, I wouldn't resort to building a wall. I'd just build bigger and badder Jaegers, he he. But hey, I'm just a regular Juan, so I'm sure I wouldn't know any better than the best each country has to offer!

Okay, I just wanted to get that off my chest. I'm sure the wall is going to work since none of the kaiju we've seen so far can burrow underneath the ground or jump really high or you know, fly. The "Wall of Life" is surely going to protect us, as long as we can finish building it (it's huge!). Here's hoping we only ever see one kaiju at a time.

Yours Truly,

Justin Favis


Please tell Marshal Pentecost that he rocks! And go Gipsy Danger!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Only Good Adobo Is The One That's Made At Home

Sorry for the wordy title. Actually, that's supposed to read: The Only Good Adobo is Our Adobo, but then I'd face the inevitable onslaught of angry responses (in my mind, there a whole lot of readers/protesters) all claiming that their adobo is the best. That is why I opted for solution C, everybody wins (the Filipino's favorite solution).

Which explains the title. (Sorry for the wordy explanation.)

Okay. Adobo. Adobo adobo adobo. ADOBO! Have I sufficiently forced you to think about your adobo? Yes? Good. I'ma make you hong-grier, just you wait.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Win Or Lose, But We Prefer The Former Of Course

This season (I forget what number, 75, 76, seventy-whatever, I just refer to it as 2013), the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles are trying to secure their 6th-straight UAAP Men's Basketball championship. 

Not one, not two, not three...You get the point. That's pretty damn impressive. I'm not going to wax poetic on this point because many others already have, and you're probably sick of it as well. Ateneo, good. Five in a row good. 

What I'm here for is number six. Specifically, the fact that as of July 3, 2013, the possibility of the Blue Eagles raising another championship trophy is looking pretty bleak. No, I'm not saying this because of the fact as of their loss to FEU, they've started out the season 0-2. I've known (really, we've known) since the end of last season that our title defense would be doubly hard what with losing our entire big man rotation to graduation/eligibility rules (Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, Justin Chua) AND more importantly, our head coach for the entire 5-year run, Fr. Norman Black. No, I'm pretty sure he has not taken the Sacrament of Holy Orders, but he deserves our utmost respect and reverence for being the architect of our championship run. Quite simply, we were going to lose too much to mount a true title defense and a serious quest for that sixth straight 'chip. 

(This reminds me of the 2000-2001 Indiana Pacers. After making it to the finals the year before, Indiana lost/traded away it's starting point guard, power forward and center - Mark Jackson, Dale Davis and Rik Smits, respectively - and saw Larry Bird hang up his coach's hat. Sure they re-upped Reggie Miller and Austin Croshere, traded for the talented but young Jermaine O'Neal and kept most of the previous year's team intact, but you lose the people at those key positions and a repeat trip to the finals, let alone a winning season - Indiana made it to the playoffs that year as the 8th seed with an even 41-41 record - is not going to be as easy as it was before.)

But then, there were the whispers that the new players would be able to step-in and contribute right away. Bo Perasol was hired to takeover head coaching duties, he himself a decent replacement. Heck, they even beat La Salle in one of the preseason tournaments. May Ravena at Buenafe pa naman, kaya yan! ("We can still win, we still have Ravena and Buenafe!") And so, by the time the tournament was about to start, with UST, NU and even UE tagged as the favorites, every Atenean (including this writer) was thinking the same thing, "Why not us?"

Then the season started with a drubbing at the hands at Adamson. Eh, injured pa naman si Ravena! ("But Ravena played hurt!"). Call me crazy, but the fact that the team launched 33 three-point attempts and only hit SEVEN did not scream "We're missing Ravena." Then, in the second game against FEU, without Kiefer Ravena the remaining Eagles led by Ryan Buenfae and Chris Newsome tried valiantly to beat the Tamaraws. But late in the game, when Ateneo was scrambling, they went to a big man-less five, something that never happened during the five-peat. To me, it loudly confirmed what I had feared all along: that without a dominant big man in the middle (i.e. Slaughter), the team was going to get, um, slaughtered by the bigger squads (which is almost every team). What each championship team throughout the 5-peat had in common was Black and a superior front court. This team has neither and we're expecting them to win it all? For Ateneo to win it this year, they have to win in a way that we have never won before. Let that sink in first. 

The main reasons Ateneo has won the last five tournaments won't be around this time. Oh but we still think you can win.

Of course, what are we going to say? It's not as if we could skip this year and come back with a stronger unit. This the hand we've been dealt. We're going to bluff our way to the top or lose.

And that brings me to my point. (I know, I know, it took a while.) In the Ateneo's school song, there's a line that goes: Win or lose, it's the school we choose. It's something you hear/see a lot when Ateneo loses, as if to validate the loss and say, it's okay, we're still Ateneo. We're still in this. We're still winning. It's the confidence that in victory or defeat, things will be alright. 

But honestly? Losing will not be alright for this rabid, school-pride crazy community. We're going to hate losing. I'm going to doubly hate it if we don't win it all, and La Salle does. Because that's just the way we're wired. That's what competition does to you, and that's what success does to you. It makes you crave for that sweet, blissful feeling of relief that all you endured, all you had to sacrifice was worth it. It's something that once you're forced to give up, worse, to share with others, will utterly destroy you. And, so far, it looks like Ateneo will finally have to let others play with the trophy after owning it for the past five years.

It's not over yet though. (There it is again, that confident, can't-let-go attitude). Ateneo, despite it's relative lack of size and identity still boasts an impressive collection of talent led by Ravena, Buenafe and Newsome. At some point, they're going to have to come together and figure all this out. And what do they need to remedy? First of all, their ghastly offense. Oh my god, sometimes, they can't even get the ball past the three point arc. It's that bad. Without a dominant low post presence, they need to create a good-enough one. In the FEU game, Buenafe was trying to establish himself as a low-post presence, but it still led to a lot of three-point shots on kick-outs. Any team who goes zone against Ateneo is going to have an easy time collecting all those missed jumpers. This is where a healthy Ravena comes in and breathes new life into Ateneo's offense. With both he and Buenafe on the floor, teams can't just pack it in on one of them. It's important that Ravena recovers from his injury and reestablishes himself as the premier guard in the league. The bigs need to at least fool defenses into thinking that they're threats on offense. That means good spacing, proper timing on cuts and screens and making the most of their opportunities when they get them. Next, they need to shore up their defense to create more fastbreak opportunities. Small ball works best out in the open, not in halfcourt sets. They don't have to be a dominating defense, they just need to be disruptive and effective when the situation calls for it. Gang rebounding is also a must. Leak-outs must be kept to a minimum and all five players must commit first to securing the loose ball before sprinting down court.

Sounds simple enough right? I wish. Improve your offense and defense are nothing new, but in this case, the weight of expectation leaves little room for error. Ateneo needs to solve their problems soon lest they surrender their title before the end of the first round. It's still a long way to go, but Ateneo has a longer way to go still. Win or lose is a real thing, but in the end winning means everything.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pan Chicken: The One We Forget But Honestly Shouldn't

In the Fried Chicken Wars, there are the three major players (KFC, McDo, Jollibee), the wildcards (BonChon, similar-style buffalo wings) and the really wild wildcards (convenience store fried chicken, i.e. Mini-Stop). Ask anyone, and they'll almost always choose one of the majors. Or they'll give you the one of the wildcards AND one of the majors. Or, if they're smart (like you and me), they'll say all of the above. 

I'm not here to dispute any of this. Part of the fun of the FCW (Sounds like a wrestling promotion, no?) is that honestly, the debate is more fun than the actual outcome, and the process of figuring it all out (i.e. consuming the chicken) is best of all. No, today, I do not come to throw down the hammer and give an unassailable final answer. I come to throw a monkey, er, chicken wrench into the proceedings. 

Because the fun is in the journey, I nominate another participant into the FCW, one worthy of our attention and focus. For in a discussion such as this, why would we refuse the entry of another challenger, one that would raise the stakes and give us more (food) to chew on? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Pancake House's Pan Chicken.