Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sipping Coffee at the "Gaza Strip"

One of the joys of coming home to Kalibo is having lengthy conversations with Lola Susing.  The moment I step into our our ancestral house, I look for my lola.  Nowadays,  Lola Susing's favorite hang-out  is the "Gaza Strip". Well, don't ask me why I call it with that way. Its origin is classified "Top Secret" and protected by the Bangkaya Mossad.

Lola Susing is always prepared for her grandchildren's homecomings that a cup of hot coffee, suman and ibus (native rice treats) await them at the kitchen table. As I settle and rest my aching back into  one of the monoblock chairs, Lola Susing immediately embarks on our long yet heart warming conversation. She usually starts interrogating me - where I came from, how long  will I  be staying, or how is my family in Antipolo. I came to understand that this is Lola Susing's own version of showing affection. It makes up for tight embraces that most grandmothers do.  But I have long understand that  Lola Susing has her own special way. I guess I became accustomed to it. 

Talking of Gaza Strip, I consider Lola Susing as our family's version of Golda Meir (the outspoken Israeli  Prime Minister who incidentally is my late father's favorite). Like the Israeli stalwart, she has been our family's strongest post and refuge. Through hard times she has radiated unwavering confidence. It is her reassurances that made her brood surmount battery of tests. It is her unmatched love which is the source of a strong and true affection that bind our souls through the pains of existence.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bee Movie: Just another Lawyer Bashing Film
I watched "Bee Movie" with my kids expecting  that I had to drag my feet to the movie theater and sleep through out the movie. I was wrong. 

It was an enjoyable experience. What made me like the movie is how it bashes lawyers by calling them "blood sucking" vampires who just victimize poor litigants. The lawyer in the movie, Layton T. Montgomery (voice by John Goodman) is a very irritating and scheming character who does court room theatricals to a tee. However, the hardest blow to a lawyer's ego was delivered by a lowly mosquito, Mooseblood (voice by Chris Rock).  Just before the movie ends, Mooseblood had this bomb of a dialogue, "Yes, I am a lawyer. I am a blood sucker and all I need is a brief case" (or something like that).

The legal profession is severely bashed in movies that one will easily agree that Hollywood must have been  screwed hard by lawyers.   Through out the years, films consistently labelled lawyers as good for nothing characters. Who can forget the good for nothing lawyer-friend of Richard Gere's Pretty Woman or the coward of a lawyer who became dino snack in Jurassic Park.    My personal favorite  is Woody Harrelson's lawyer  (played well by Oliver Platt) in the movie, Indecent Proposal.   Just imagine somebody who can craft a contract which paved way for Robert Redford's character to spend one night with a married woman.  In the real world, hatred for lawyers as notorious fixers was confirmed when Johnny Cochranmoved heaven and earth to spare O.J. Simpson from what was supposed to be a sure guilty verdict.  

Yet, lawyers do not really care.   I think this sets us  apart from the  members of the medical profession who easily over react against media attacks.  Lawyers have not demanded for blood if one of their kind is butchered by some TV show like how Desperate Housewives sullied the image of the Filipino doctor.  Maybe this proves that lawyers are just naturally thick skinned.

After leaving the movie theater I really hoped that my kids have not noticed the lawyer bashing.  They might end up making jokes about my career. Whew! I'm lucky that the movie was really enjoyable that my kids were contented with tthe cartoons.


Dining at Cesar's Italy

We dined at Bellissimo restaurant which is rumored to be owned  by movie star Cesar Montano.  It was my wife's request as it was her birthday. After surveying the entire stretch of Morato Avenue, we found the restaurant because of its bright neon lights. The restaurant is a 2 storey old house which is not readily visible from the street.   You have to go through a driveway and into the casually designed Italian restaurant.   Inside the restaurant movie memorabilia confirms that it is indeed Cesar's place.   

The menu is  predominantly  Italian food and wine. They say it is Cesar's sister who personally brings these from Italy.
Since it was a Tuesday night, patrons trickled in. Its good for us, I brought the whole Kingsville shebang -my wife, two kids and their yayas. The near empty restaurant made us relax and behave casually as we want to be. The food is not that impressively Italian. I honestly enjoyed other Italian restaurants. But the pizza was served fast and tasted better than my usual Yellow Cab favorite. Out of curiousity I ordered the Ice Tea Ceasari (?) and found it too sweet. I should have ordered the usual coke light instead. But what has drawn me to this place is the nicely designed interior which made the restaurant a very casual venue. My mom will surely like the brick decors on the walls as she has seemed to have invented it. 

Going back to Bellissimo, I didn't care if its interior is not Italian for my taste (yeah i am familiar with the Godfather/Sicilian type interior), I like the simple ambiance. Its too bad Cesar seemed to limit his memorabilia. Maybe he does not want it to take over the Italian theme. For me he should have stuck with the "This is Cesar Montano Restaurant" and not be a "pseudo italian mafia restaurant-with-Cesar Montano-memorabilia". He could have added more interesting items on the walls like his Rizal and Muruami outfits etc. or cover it with dozens of interesting pictures from his illustrious movie career. And surely it would be full of beautiful leading ladies and ex-girlfriends!

I have mixed reactions when I came out of the restaurant. But when the birthday girl told me that she enjoyed the evening with me and the kids, dining at Cesar's restaurant is like a night in Italy.


Friday, January 04, 2008

There is life after Law Practice: David E. Kelley

There is always an unexplainable joy whenever I am able to catch my favorite legal drama series, "The Practice". No matter how crappy the episodes were delivered by RPN 9, I look forward to  watch  with my wife who also enjoyed it. We also enjoyed another legal TV drama " Ally Mcbeal" despite its cheesy and sexy version of the legal profession. Both shows are not my source of relaxation but also a brief departure from a stressful day at the office or in court. Watching these shows never fails to inspire me -supplying me with morale boosting mojo to endure the sometimes frustrating legal profession.

After several episodes, I discovered that two soaps have something in common -writer and producer David E. Kelley. I read this guy's mini-biography and it somehow got my interest:

"David Kelley might be described as living the American Dream, 1990s' style: write a screenplay, move to Hollywood, make millions and marry a movie star. A former Boston lawyer, in the last decade, he switched careers to become a successful television producer whose shows are recognized for their quality as well as receiving top ratings. David Kelley was born in 1956 and is originally from Maine. He attended Princeton University and Boston University Law School. He married actress Michelle Pfeiffer in November 1993. They have two children: Claudia Rose Kelley, born in March 1993, who was adopted by Ms. Pfeiffer eight months before their marriage, and John Henry, born in August 1994. Claudia Rose Kelley was christened and given Mr. Kelley's name at the couple's wedding ceremony. Mr. Kelley was an associate at Fine & Ambrogne in 1983 when he wrote a film script based on some of his legal experiences. Through a family friend, he got the script optioned and acquired an agent in 1986."

My goodness, I am amazed! This Kelley guy has everything I always dreamed of - a good law school education, a law career, a gorgeous lady for a wife ( Michelle Pfeiffer!!), beautiful children, and a multi-million dollar showbiz writing career to boot. I figured out that I only thing I don't share with him is a multi million writing career- heck, I even have a pretty and sexy Michelle for a wife!

But what really impressed me about David is his sheer simplicity despite their fame and fortune.  From what I have read, David have maintained a humble family life which should be emulated not only by other Hollywood millionaires but by lawyers like me. Although I agree that David isn't a leading man material - his millions and Hollywood connections can easily enable him to dump Michelle for some younger  Hollywood  bod (Megan Foxx perhaps?). Yet he has been married to Michelle since 1993 and seems to have a strong union. 

Because of my fascination with movies, I always wanted to write a screenplay no matter what hardship or humiliation it takes. This dream is achievable if I start with one sensible script. Anyway, I still have dozens of years to become a famous TV or movie writer. Well as for now, I can always dream and somehow look forward  after a bad day in court, there can be better  life after law practice - the path proven to exist by my idol, Atty. David E. Kelley.