Friday, December 14, 2018

“AQUAMAN” Shows Just How AWESOME an UNDERWATER Superhero Can Be

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Long before the advent of the major film studios’ various big-budget superhero movie franchises in the 21st Century we’ve already had some great stuff coming out about these larger-than life characters outside of their respective comic book pages. For DC Comics, now a part of the Warner Bros. umbrella, there have been other movies, as well as TV shows and animated cartoons featuring the “Super Friends” of Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman…and Aquaman. I recall the old “Aquaman” cartoon that had him riding a giant seahorse, attack with balls of water, and talk to fish. A less comic-book-savvy viewer might shake his head at a hero with powers like those, but Aquaman has been more than that ever since.
And no more is that fact obvious than with the “Aquaman” film from Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films, the latest installment of the much-troubled but still-going Extended Universe franchise. This also the first following the awaited, but lacking, big superhero team movie “Justice League”, and serves as a standalone movie of sorts for Aquaman, with “origin story” scenes inserted via flashback. This is an uncommon twist to the convention of a film introducing a superhero for the first time.
In fact, setting up the story of how the fast-swimming fish-talking superhero came to be is rather involved, as rather than get or make super-powers as a grownup, the burly muscle-bound stranger played by Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa, became who he is because of love. That means he is the half-human half-Atlantean child of a lighthouse keeper and the would-be Queen of Atlantis (Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman respectively), raised in the surface world even after his mother’s return to her home, and only learning of his heritage from an Atlantean warrior sent to tutor him on his unique abilities.
To pin the timeline down, the “Aquaman” movie takes place about a year after “Justice League” (as in real-world time). In his routine of travelling the world’s seas saving those in trouble he swims across of, Aquaman – real name Arthur Curry – encounters some high-tech ocean pirates jacking a Russian sub. He foils the crew and makes an enemy of one of its members. It turns out he was stealing the sub for an unusual client: the ruler of Atlantis, Orm (Patrick Wilson). Orm plots to stage an incident that would incite the various underwater realms to unite as an army to destroy the surface world.
But not all Atlanteans are of the same mind as Orm, who would become Ocean Master if he unites the realms of the sea in his vendetta. These secret dissidents include Orm’s own betrothed Mera of Xebel (Amber Heard) and the Atlantean vizier Vulko (Willem Dafoe), who trained Arthur as a boy. Mera for her part knows of Arthur from stories by his mother, alongside her brief involvement during the battle against Steppenwolf in “Justice League”. The only way they know to stop Orm’s ambition is to convince Arthur to claim his birthright as Atlanna’s son and become King. Too bad he is not interested.
So begins a quest – like there always is – for Arthur and Mera to find the one artifact that could convince the sea-worlders to heed him: the trident of the first king of Atlantis, hidden somewhere in the world. What follows is a fantastic voyage filled with Atlantean warriors, savage humanoid sea creatures, and a certain vengeful modern pirate called the Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).
The surprisingly bright and high-adventure atmosphere of “Aquaman” is notable when one considers its director, James Wan. Who would expect the filmmaker who brought audiences horror blockbusters like “Saw” and “The Conjuring” to be able to produce a straight superhero adventure? Apparently he even accepted the assignment for Warner-DC with the intent to make “Aquaman” into something completely different from his usual fare. And he has succeeded, able to sell menacing yet understandable villains, wondrous underwater civilizations, cool fight and action choreography of both the practical and CGI-laden sort, and make the entire package look utterly sensible even if fantastic.
“Aquaman” starts off with something of a slow burn to its plot, gradually building up tension and conflict in an exponential rate until reaching an explosively intense final stretch that has to be seen in order to believe. And it works on the audio end too thanks to scoring by Rupert Gregson-Williams. And when everything is concluded one can enjoy the theme, Grey and Elliott Taylor’s “Everything I Need” sung by Skylar Grey, something that could rival “All the Stars” from Marvel’s own “Black Panther”.
From one who has seen “Justice League” and felt a degree of disappointment, “Aquaman” as a follow-up is just what the film franchise doctor ordered, a worthy adaptation of DC’s underwater superhero, one to build up his general rep with the non-comics movie-going fan crowd.
Image courtesy of Heroic Hollywood

Motorcycle Ride-Hailer ANGKAS Gets OPERATIONS SHUT Again by SC Order

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In this day and age, commuters trying to cope with often impossible traffic conditions in the Philippines, particularly the metropolitan areas, are increasingly turning to a development from overseas, the ride-hailing service. With the use of a mobile phone app, they can contact a service company to send over a vehicle driven by private owners who are part of that service. Despite protests from taxi operators and transport regulators, many such companies continue on, from Uber to Lyft to Asian-based Grab Taxi. But not all of them are that resilient, as in the case of Filipino motorcycle ride-sharing service Angkas.
CNN Philippines reports that the Supreme Court of the Philippines has granted on Wednesday, October 12, the temporary restraining order asked for by petition from both the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), that would halt an earlier court ruling made in August that allowed Angkas, a ride-hailing service using motorcycles and scooters, to operate without further regulatory hurdles from the government. That decision, a preliminary injunction from Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 213, in turn was made after an earlier shutdown of the Angkas service by the agencies involved back in November 2017.
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The prevailing reasoning by the LTFRB and DOTr to stop pedestrians from using the Angkas service app was due to the company lacking business permits, as well as their interpretation of Republic Act 4136 in that Angkas ride-hail motorcycles are not authorized to conduct business and offer public transport. They have issued a joint statement praising the new SC ruling, which would allow them to arrest Angkas riders taking on passengers via the app. It added that their actions despite any discomfort it may cause to pedestrians only serves to keep the riding public safe and secure via the proper implementation of relevant transport laws.
Angkas employs riders on motorcycles and scooters to offer transport to pedestrians using its mobile phone app, similar to other ride-hailing services that use cars. Patrons of Angkas have valued the motorcycles’ ability to wend its way through traffic jams en route to their destinations.
For their part, Angkas bemoaned the fact that the DOTr and LTFRB managed to make their TRO stick on their operations especially in the middle of the Holiday season, when vehicular traffic volume tends to be even greater than usual. They cite 25,000 biker-partners of theirs who are left without livelihoods so close to Christmas, and express hope that the Supreme would see their efforts to maximize safety on their rides, therefore eventually ruling for both riders and the commuters. Angkas must now file a response to the two government agencies’ petitions, and their hard-won preliminary injunction to be re-implemented.
Images: Vulcan Post and Wikipedia

Monday, December 10, 2018

JAPAN CROWN PRINCESS Anxious, But Resolved for 2019 Abdication of AKIHITO and Coronation of Husband

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It is said that Japan is the last country in the world with a royal head of state using the title of Emperor, and their dynasty is officially described in the country as being unbroken since ancient times. Now the current Japanese Emperor, Akihito, has prevailed upon the government in the past several years to allow him to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne, citing advanced age and declining health, and pass it to his son and heir Crown Prince Naruhito, by next year. While this step is a one-off measure accommodating Akihito alone, and no problems are foreseen in the abdication, one party is voicing reservations.
The BBC reports that with the impending abdication of her father-in-law, and the subsequent ascension of her husband Crown Prince Naruhito as Emperor of Japan in 2019, Crown Princess Masako has made known how she is feeling daunted by the grand honor and duty that will be given to her once she becomes Empress. She made this comment in a statement made available in the occasion of her 55th birthday Sunday, December 9. Nevertheless, she remarks that she is resolved to do right by the Japanese people and their country.
Born to a Japanese diplomat, the once-Masako Owada was educated overseas, eventually graduating magna cum laude in Economics from Harvard/Radcliffe in 1985. A prospective career in the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs was cut short when she was courted by Prince Naruhito in 1986 (when Emperor Hirohito still lived). They were married in 1993; and since then Princess Masako has been, in her husband’s words, been beset by the Imperial Household Agency, the government organ that oversees the activities of the Imperial Family, particularly in her failure to bear a son and direct heir for Crown Prince Naruhito. The Prince noted that Masako’s disappearance from public functions was born of complete exhaustion and anxiety, for which he blames Palace officials.
“Giving thought to the days ahead, I sometimes feel insecure about the extent to which I will be able to be of service to people,” the Crown Princess’ statement read. “But I will strive to do my best so that I can contribute to their happiness.” She also noted that she has been recovering from her emotional collapse in past years, enough to perform some, if not many official duties.
Akihito became Emperor of Japan in 1989 following the death of his father Hirohito. The name of his reign era is Heisei (“peace everywhere”), which will end on April 30, to be replaced by a new era name under his son Naruhito, who will be aged 58 upon becoming Emperor. As his only child is Princess Aiko, and women cannot become Emperor under Japanese law, Naruhito’s heir-apparent is his younger brother Fumihito, Prince Akishino. He has a son, Prince Hisahito.
Image from The Japan Times

BROADWAY MUSICAL ALBUM Nets FIRST GRAMMY NOMINATION for LEA SALONGA

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When it comes to international musical theatre, the Philippines has been supremely blessed in having an actress of truly global caliber like Lea Salonga. At the age of 18 she was the first to portray the lead character Kim in “Miss Saigon”, a role that got her a Tony Award, the first won by a female Asian performer. To Disney fans in the 1990s, she would be better known perhaps as the singing voices of Jasmine in “Aladdin” and the titular “Mulan”. Now, Lea once again has a chance at another major American media award, this time for the Grammys.
CNN Philippines tells us that Lea Salonga and her fellow cast-mates on the Broadway revival of “Once on This Island” have been nominated for the Best Musical Theater Album at the 61st Grammy Awards happening next year. The one-act musical, about several Caribbean deities that follow the progress of love between a peasant girl and a noble of French descent on the French Antilles, was recently recorded as an album. Salonga first broke the news of this nomination on Instagram, where she expressed her enthusiasm at this honor and congratulated the rest of the cast of “Once on This Island”.

“Pardon me for screaming but… THE ONCE ON THIS ISLAND CAST ALBUM JUST GOT NOMINATED FOR A GRAMMY!!!” Lea gushed on the Instagram text image she posted over the weekend. “OHHHHH MYYYYYY GODDDDDDDD!!!!!!!! We did it, Island Family!!!!!!!!!!” The accompanying caption repeated that point about the “Once on This Island” musical album being on the running for Best Musical Theater Album. Lea portrays Erzulie, the Goddess of Love in Caribbean Vodou who watches over and advises the peasant girl Ti Moune as she and the grand homme Daniel try to find love despite being of different races and social classes.
As with the famous major entertainment awards for film (Academy/Oscar), television (Emmy) and theatre (Tony), the Grammys are awarded by the leading honorary organization of music industry, The Recording Academy. This is the first time that Lea Salonga is receiving a Grammy nomination,albeit as part of a musical cast in an album recording. The 61stGrammy Awards is scheduled on February 10 next year, with “Once on This Island” competing against four other musicals for the Musical Theater Album category.
Should the album, and by extension Lea, win the award, it would put the now 47-year-old actress halfway towards the uncommon achievement of EGOT: an artist winning one each of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards in his career.
Image from When in Manila

Friday, December 7, 2018

MCU BLACK PANTHER among GOLDEN GLOBES Nominees for Next Year

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When Marvel Studios brought “Black Panther” to cinemas, it reignited, to a degree never before seen, the idea that a superhero film could be substantial enough to be ever nominated for a major award such as a Best Picture accolade. The Academy even briefly entertained the introduction of a Best-Selling Picture category to accommodate box office blockbusters like “Black Panther”, before squashing the notion. But while the Oscars dither on whether or not to include the rather influential film on its most prestigious award category, the Golden Globes has beaten them to it with their 2019 list of media nominees.
CNN reports that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has made its official announcement of all the nominees in film and television for the 76th Golden Globe Awards next year. The general trend being spotted for 2019 is that it would be studio blockbusters against a stable of critically acclaimed independent productions. But perhaps the biggest draw to the list is that Marvel Studios finally has an entry of their MCU superhero franchise in the running for a film award, Outstanding Motion Picture – Drama. The Golden Globes may have thus become the first to take a popcorn superhero movie that seriously.
This makes it the second honor that “Black Panther” has received moving into next year’s awards season, having already gotten a nod from the American Film Institute earlier this week. That one at least is already assured. But now, getting the movie that is now the third all-time highest-grossing movie in the US (only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avatar” earned more) nominated with a chance to win an accolade for itself as a movie would make it seem like a repeat nomination at the Oscars is becoming more and more possible, and an unexpected vindication for superhero films.
“Black Panther” is pitted in its Drama category against major movie musicals like “A Star is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”. On the Outstanding Motion Picture – Comedy front, the biggest names are “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Mary Poppins Returns”, due to premiere this year. The MCU movie is also nominated in Outstanding Original Score, and Outstanding Original Song – Motion Pictures (for its theme “All the Stars”).
The superhero blockbuster, which starred Chadwick Boseman in the title role, was a major hit that touched hearts in the African-American and African communities for the portrayal of its characters, and the optimistic futurist vision of its primary setting, the technologically advanced kingdom of Wakanda.
Image courtesy of The Wrap

Next ACADEMY AWARDS Hosting UNCERTAIN After KEVIN HART Steps DOWN

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In this day and age, it is becoming frequent that a person’s past missteps can resurface in the present and make his career, even his life, difficult. Situations like that of filmmaker James Gunn, who got booted off the director’s chair for his third “Guardians of the Galaxy” film by Disney-Marvel, are occurring at an alarming rate. Recently, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected comedian Kevin Hart to host the Oscars next year, only for old tweets of his with slurs and words targeting the LGBT community abruptly resurfaced to the public. This has led to him declining Academy Awards hosting duty.
The Hollywood Reporter has it that Kevin Hart is stepping down from being host of the 91st Oscars as of Thursday, December 6. His announcement comes only two days after he was first picked by AMPAS on Monday, December 4. The brouhaha began when in the wake of his selection, social media floated a number of Twitter posts Hart made from 2010 to 2011 that contained some anti-gay sentiments that were figurative shots fired at the LGBT. When he earlier noted that he saw no need to apologize for something he wrote years ago, criticism at Hart reached boiling point.
AMPAS itself had been among the voices that called on Hart to say sorry for the content of his past tweets, a notion he refused and thus ultimately led to his decision now. “I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” read one of his Thursday Twitter entries. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.” A follow-up tweet intimated that he was sorry if his past words hurt people.
This has not been the first time that the Academy Awards ceremony was beset by troubles wrought by the controversy of ill-intended words. Brett Ratner, producer of the 84th Oscars back in 2011 absently dropped a gay slur during a Q&A leading up to the event. His departure spurred that year’s original choice for host, Eddie Murphy, to resign with him and be replaced by Billy Crystal on the stage. The 91st Academy Awards are set for February 24, 2019, so they will need to find a new host soon.
Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

GEORGE BUSH Returns to Houston before Being LAID TO REST

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Thursday, December 6, has come. And with it begins the final leg of the state funeral of George HW Bush, the 41stPresident of the United States who served a single term from 1989 to 1993, and passed away on November 30 at the age of 94. His flag-draped casket has laid in state in the rotunda of the Capitol in Washington DC, where he served his office during the years when Germany was reunited, the Soviet Union fell and Iraq invaded Kuwait, all of which he weathered with a statesmanship that was hailed by leaders from his nation and the rest of the world.
USA Today has it that the remains of former US President George HW Bush arrived in Houston from Washington DC on the late afternoon of Wednesday, October 5. The procession brought it to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where Bush and his family had worshipped for 50 years while living in the city. There it laid in repose overnight until this Thursday morning (US Central time), with a funeral service to be held at 10 AM.
The St. Martin’s official website carried a message that read: “President George H.W. Bush and the late Mrs. Barbara Pierce Bush worshiped at St. Martin’s for more than 50 years, and now it is our turn to show our respect and support as our congregation, as well as our nation, grieve this loss.” His First Lady Barbara had died earlier this year on April. Her funeral was also held in St. Martin’s, which was founded in 1952 and is now considered the largest church of the Episcopal denomination in North America. The area had since Wednesday been secured by Houston police officers in anticipation of the arrival of the former President from the capital, and his casket was escorted into the church by U.S. Air Force Band of the West.
The funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral Wednesday morning was attended by President Donald Trump and his predecessors Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, son of the elder Bush. Also in attendance were representatives from several nations along with former world leaders who were in office during the former President’s term in the White House.
After the funeral service at St. Martin’s, Bush’s casket will be transported by rail to his Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. There he will be laid to rest next to his wife and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at only age 4.
Image from South Bend Tribune

Thursday, December 6, 2018

WB Taps “CRAZY RICH ASIANS” Director for ARNEL PINEDA BIOPIC

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“Bohemian Rhapsody”, the musical biopic of British rock band Queen and its front-man Freddie Mercury from 20thCentury Fox, premiered this November and became the new all-time highest grossing musical film, with solid movie-going fans despite mixed reviews from professional critics. The relative success of this movie has gotten Warner Bros. Pictures’ attention, and they hope to replicate that with a biopic of another music artist. Engaging the services of filmmaker Jon M. Chu, who already has his own 2018 blockbuster with “Crazy Rich Asians”, their planned subject will be Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, current front-man of rock band Journey.
ABS-CBN News tells us that Warner Bros. is indeed tapping Jon M. Chu to direct a biopic of Arnel Pineda, chronicling his path from obscure singer in the Philippines to becoming the vocalist of American band Journey, making some of the group’s hits like “Don’t Stop Believin’” his own with his highly-praised performance. The story has already been told in the documentary “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey”, which WB has acquired rights to with the intent of creating a dramatic story of it similar to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. In further preparation, they are also negotiating the license for Journey’s music catalog.
Chu has mentioned in Deadline that the story of Arnel Pineda has been something that has been on his mind for some time, describing his eventual success as “a true fairy tale and triumph of the human spirit”, with Pineda the unlikely hero with undeniable talent. As for the Journey front-man himself, Pineda has expressed on social media the honor he felt that a major movie studio and the director of “Crazy Rich Asians” have decided his story was worth telling. “If this article is even just half-true…I’m quite honored…and should be an exciting movie to do…but you need to reach out to me #MrJonMChu @wbpictures coz I’m right here waiting.” Pineda remarked on Instagram.
Arnel Pineda never expected that his cover of Journey songs on YouTube (as part of cover band The Zoo) would attract the attention of the band’s co-founder (and only constantly active original member) Neal Schon, who admired Pineda’s replication of original Journey vocalist Steve Perry. Despite reservations from die-hard Perry fans, Journey with Arnel Pineda experienced resurgence in popularity, leading to their songs permeating throughout media at the time like TV series such as “Glee” and “The Sopranos”. A biopic would only increase the mystique.
While significant work on the movie is still some time off, Warner Bros. has already put Kevin McCormick in charge as producer alongside Jon M. Chu’s directorial duties. No casting has been announced so far.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star

AFI HONOREES for 2018 REVEALED

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When it comes to prestigious award-giving bodies for movie and television media, the American Film Institute (AFI) is not one of those big glitzy occasions like the Oscars, Emmys or Golden Globes. Still, it has an influential clout all its own, being a film organization brought into being by a Presidential mandate, with the aim of honoring and preserving the unique motion picture heritage of America. Composed of top personages in movie, entertainment, business and academic quarters, it seeks to education aspiring filmmakers and catalog motion picture history, among others. Now, its list of honorees for 2018 has been announced.
CNN reports that the AFI has made known its annual roster, for this year, of the films that have been judged by its constituent jury as having made the most outstanding achievements in film and television for 2018. After reviewing a wide variety of movies and television series that premiered or aired throughout the year, the AFI has decided to award honors to quite the number of expected choices. No less than two of the 2018 AFI honorees also came from the Disney media juggernaut, and they are joined by one film from their longtime rival Warner Bros. Pictures starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.
Disney’s AFI honorees of the year include Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” starring Chadwick Boseman, which premiered in February, and the partly-animated musical “Mary Poppins Returns” with Emily Blunt, which already had a world premiere last November ahead of the main one this December. To them, Warner Bros. answers with the surprise hit romantic musical “A Star is Born”. Rounding out the movie category for the 2018 AFI is the post-apocalyptic horror thriller “A Quiet Place” from Paramount, as well as “BlacKkKlansman,” “Eighth Grade,” “First Reformed,” “Green Book”, “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “The Favourite”.
On the television half, the AFI has particularly left out some big-name TV series such as Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the soon-concluding HBO fantasy epic “Game of Thrones”. Without them, FX network gets the lion’s share of honors with “Atlanta”, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”, “Pose” and the already-finished “The Americans”. Almost every TV format – broadcast, cable and streaming – are represented, with AMC’s “Better Call Saul”, Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” HBO’s “Barry” and “Succession,” Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method,” and NBC’s “This is Us”.  These and the film honorees above will be accorded their dues at a luncheon event to be hosted by AFI in January.
Image courtesy of Slash Film

NIANTIC Introducing PVP TRAINER BATTLES in “POKEMON GO” Late December

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Three years ago, gaming giant Nintendo and mobile game developer Niantic Labs rolled out the first teaser for “Pokémon Go”, a mobile-based gaming app using GPS and augmented reality to simulate players travelling through their surroundings to find and catch the titular Pokémon (Pocket Monsters) to raise and pit against battle for control of Gym locations around the world. The app that was released in 2016 was a viral hit that got people walking and socializing, but eventually fell into a niche market due to many features promised in the teaser not being implemented. Niantic has been steadily adding these functions since launch, but one feature remained elusive: player battles.
Many lapsed players of “Pokémon Go” feel that the game would have been in the limelight longer if it managed to introduce player vs. player competition reflected in the “trainer battles” of the original Nintendo titles earlier. As Polygontells it, the stalwart fans of the app that are still playing it may soon have their wish as Niantic pushes to launch PVP for “Pokémon Go” before December is out. Already details are being revealed on how player battles will happen in the app, and the mechanics might surprise gamers.
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When implemented, “Pokémon Go” PVP will pit players against one another in one-on-one trainer matches, each player fielding three Pokémon in his roster. Players can initially battle locally, meaning they must next to each other, by swapping their unique “Battle Codes” via QR scan. Once a battle starts, the player’s Pokémon fight each other one at a time in real time. The battle mechanics are the same with Gym battles and Raids, with players tapping or holding down on Move icons in the screen. Battles are decided when a player’s last Pokémon is beaten, or whichever player has the most Pokémon with more health when the battle clock runs out.
Other quirks of the new “Pokémon Go” PVP include three “Trainer League” divisions to restrict Pokémon CP levels for more balanced fights. In addition, players who are on each other’s Friend Lists with a rating of “Best Friends” or better, can battle one another online without needing to be physically present to each other. Players can also challenge NPCs to battle in the form of the three Team Leader characters: Candela of Team Valor, Blanche of Team Mystic, and Spark from Team Instinct. Interestingly, both players will get prizes after the match, win or lose.


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With how long it took for this key element of the Pokémon franchise experience to reach “Pokémon Go”, it is hard to tell if the advent of player battles will reignite massive interest in the mobile game app. Niantic also has no plans to organize actual player tournaments beyond what is offered in the game.
Images: Pokémon Blog, The Verge

MICROSOFT to Trade EDGE Browser for Replacement Based on CHROME

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Casual internet users may not be aware, but the means of viewing the net via browser applications has been in a state of war since seemingly forever. First it was Netscape Navigator and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. IE won and dominated how surfers viewed the internet until the rise of Firefox from Mozilla (founded by former Netscape people), and then Google Chrome. Microsoft eventually tried to fix its own platform by introducing the new Edge browser with Windows 10, but it has not managed to win over Chrome users. Now Microsoft may be dropping Edge after only three years of use, for a Chrome-based browser replacement.
The Verge has it that Microsoft is now developing a new internet browser that will serve as the default for Windows 10; and that browser will be based on search giant Google’s own runaway hit application Chrome. Microsoft has resigned itself to the reality that its browser engine EdgeHTML is still paling in comparison to Chrome’s inner workings. To that end, they are building up a new browser based on Chromium, the open-source engine created by Google from which it develops all features that go into Chrome. The Microsoft Chromium-based browser project was first revealed under the reporting codename “Anaheim”.
Microsoft finally giving in and making a browser based on Chrome is understandable, given how Edge, despite the best efforts of its development team, continues to have compatibility issues that are not a problem in Chromium. Both private users and businesses have been clamoring on Microsoft to sort over its EdgeHTML problems, seeing as more web developers are still relying on the rendering engine of Chrome to optimally display sites and pages. Google’s website has become the measuring stick by which all web browsing standards are stacked against, with its engine often being the first to adopt any new technologies.
Before finally admitting that it was developing a new Chromium-based browser, Microsoft has gone out of its way to convince Windows 10 users that its default Edge application was the better platform on their operating system rather than Google Chrome. It got to the point that Microsoft even removed the Chrome installer from the Windows Store (now Microsoft Store) by citing some store policies violated by Google’s ubiquitous web app. Its admission of “defeat” to Chrome at this point no longer seems so devastating as a result. Microsoft may soon publicly announce its upcoming Chromium-based internet browser as early as before the week is out.
Image courtesy of LifeHacker Australia

IRAN BEATS GILAS AGAIN, 70-78, in FIBA WORLD CUP Qualifiers

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Last September, the Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup entered into its Second Round stage. From the 16 seeded teams, all of which participated in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, four teams were whittled away in fierce competition, leading to 12 national contingents divided into two groups of 6, with the top three teams of each group at the end of the round going into the World Cup next year. The Philippine Men’s National Team Gilas came up second on its First-Round Group B, but in this Second Round it has been hammered by opposing teams, the latest being a home game defeat against Iran on Monday.
CNN Philippines reports that Gilas slammed once again into the stone wall that is the Iranian national team on December 3, much to the pain of the Philippine home crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena. Despite some spirited play from Gilas members, in the end the score was 70-78 for the visiting Iranians, the same point lead they had when the Philippines took it on at their home court back in September 13 (81-73), the first game for Group F of the FIBA World Cup Asia qualifiers Second Round.
Initially Gilas was able to hold its own, bolstered by home court support and the scoring leadership of Christian Stanhardinger (17) and Jayson Castro (19). But they were simply outmatched by the towering shadow of team Iran, which were spearheaded by the insane point output of former PBA – Meralco Bolts import Mohammad Jamshidi Jafarabadi (26) and Behnam Yakhchali Dehkordi (21). The crunch time came when the Iranians sped past the Philippines’ slim lead with 9 points at 54 seconds left in the game, with Gilas unable to answer or defend.
At present, Iran now occupies the second spot in Group F with a 7W-3L record for the Asian qualifiers. This puts them behind Team Australia, now fully qualified for the World Cup at 9W-1L. Gilas on the other hand is stuck at 4th place with 5 wins and losses even. They have to win their last remaining games to stay on course for possible qualification, similar to Lebanon (6W-4L) on Group E. Team Philippines will resume its FIBA campaign on February 21, 2019 with a game against the now-eliminated Qatari national team with a final game on the 24th against Kazakhstan, which also beat Gilas last November 30 at 88-92.
Image courtesy of GMA Network

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

SCHEDULE Given for GEORGE HW BUSH STATE FUNERAL This Week

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On 1989, George HW Bush, Vice-President under Ronald Reagan, took the oath of office himself as the 41st President of the United States. In his term of office he saw the collapse of Communism in the reunification of Germany and the end of the Soviet Union. He also saw the deposition of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi invasion during Operation Desert Storm. Despite his successes he was beaten by William Clinton in the 1993 Election, but remained fondly remembered as a successful President. His death last Friday, aged 94, was mourned the world over.
USA Today reports that on Saturday, December 1, following the passing of George HW Bush the day before on November 30, an official schedule was released by the Joint Force Headquarters – National Capital Region, outlining the entire period of the State Funeral for the former US President. It is divided into three stages, happening over a similar number of days starting this Monday, December 3. The first stage begins with the early-morning flight of the former President’s remains from Houston, Texas to Washington, DC. Upon arrival at Joint Base Andrews, the remains will be transported to the Capitol where, after a short service, it will lie in state two days.
The second stage of Bush’s state funeral, which involves lying in state at the Capitol with a Guard of Honor from December 3 to Wednesday, December 5, will conclude with the remains being moved to the Washington National Cathedral for the capital funeral mass. Afterwards it will return to Andrews for a flight back to Ellington Base in Houston, for stage three. Upon arrival the former President will lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church until another funeral mass at that place on the morning of Thursday, December 6.
On his final journey, the former president will be transported to College Station, Texas where his Presidential Library is located. He will arrive Thursday afternoon, where he will be interred on the Library grounds next to his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush who passed away seven months earlier in April, and their daughter Robin Bush, who died of leukemia on 1953 at age three.
Former President Bush died at his home in Houston, surrounded by family members. His last recorded words were “I love you too”, said over speakerphone to his son and fellow former President, George W. Bush.
George HW Bush is now the current record-holder for the longest-lived US President. He and his son George W. Bush together also make the second father-son tandem to reside in the White House after John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
Image courtesy of Sky News

Monday, December 3, 2018

Warner-DC’s “AQUAMAN” STARS Coming to PHILIPPINES for PRE-PREMIERE Fan EVENT

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Fans of Warner Bros., DC and their DC Extended Universe of superhero film certainly had a long wait going for when the franchise was going to continue, following the November 2017 premiere of the “Justice League” super-team movie. Over a year after, this 2018, DCEU followers will get to see the past, present and future of Justice Leaguer Arthur Curry, the half-human half-Atlantean super-being “Aquaman”. Said film is arriving in cinemas this month, including the Philippines. And to drum up support, the main leads of the film will be arriving in the country for a fan meet before the premiere.
ABS-CBN News reports that Jason Momoa, who plays the titular “Aquaman” and his co-lead star Amber Heard as the Atlantean lady warrior Mera, are going to be the guests of honor at a fan event to celebrate the upcoming arrival of the DCEU film in the Philippines. Said fan meet and greet will be held next week, December 11, at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall in Pasay. For the benefit of many, the meet and greet will be free and open to all.
The event is part of a multi-city world tour with Momoa and Heard to promote “Aquaman”. Their fan events and advance screenings have taken them from Burbank, California last November 7 to, in order, Beijing (November 18), London for the world premiere (November 26), and New York City (December 1). As Momoa and Heard shared on a promotional video announcing their visit, their fan event on Manila this December 11 is in time for the Asian Regional premiere of “Aquaman”, which premieres the following day in the country. Further tour dates after the Philippines include a return to the US (Los Angeles and Miami), then Australia (Gold Coast and Sydney), and Momoa’s Hawaiian home state.
Warner-DC’s “Aquaman” follows Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry, who has used his half-Atlantean heritage to protect the world’s oceans, as he now finds himself trying to prevent the outbreak of war between his mother’s homeland of Atlantis, led by half-brother Orm the Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson) on a crusade against humanity’s abuse of the seas, and a hi-tech mercenary treasure hunter called the Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). To do this, he must reluctantly make his bid to become king of Atlantis. The movie also stars Nicole Kidman as Arthur’s Atlantean mother, all under the direction of James Wan. “Aquaman” premieres in the US December 21

Image from WB Pictures YouTube