David Letterman says goodbye to Late Show after 33 years

Thank you David Letterman for keeping me company while doing my homework late at night when I was in New York.
After 33 years in late night television, David Letterman is saying goodbye with three final broadcasts of the Late Show With David Letterman from May 20-22 at 11:45 PM.

Late Show with David Letterman

The three-night event kicks off Wednesday, May 20 with a visit from Academy Award winner Tom Hanks, who first appeared with Letterman in Late Night on April 4, 1984.
This will be Hanks’ 60th total appearance with the host. Also, rock superstar Eddie Vedder will perform with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra.
Bill Murray, Letterman’s first guest on Late Night’s debut on Feb. 1, 1982, and his first guest on the Late Show’s August 30, 1993 premiere, makes his 44th overall and final appearance with the host on Thursday, May 21.

Bill Murray, David Letterman
Bill Murray and David Letterman in 1982

These shows all lead up to Letterman’s final Late Show broadcast on Friday, May 22, 2015, which will be an hour of surprises, memorable highlights, the show’s final Top Ten List, and more.

Park Hyatt Tokyo and what we did this summer vacation

I’m writing this blog entry to remind me of tips when booking the next trip to Tokyo.
Last April, I booked our trip same time as the Diaz family, from April 12-18.
I should’ve checked the hotel rates first because I didn’t know it was cherry blossom season!
Hotels were bloody expensive!
Before booking your trip, check the cherry blossom calendar. All of Tokyo will have high hotel rates until it ends.

cherry blossom

Right after cherry blossom season is Golden Week, which marks the week of the Emperor’s birthday. That means everyone’s on holiday and hotel rates are up.

goldenweek

Hotel rates normally drop after May 5. So next time, book your trip after May 5 because hotel rates are down by half price. That means you can stay in Japan longer!
Unfortunately I forgot to check all of that. Since I excitedly booked 6 tickets on Delta that had expensive rebooking fees, we had no choice but take the trip and pay high hotel rates.

The trip going was super smooth. We took the 9 AM flight on the upper deck of Delta. They kept the shades down the whole time, so I got to sleep.

Delta Airlines

The kids loved it. Also on the upper deck were two pilots in uniform on the passenger’s seats. At first I thought they were backup pilots in case there was a scary incident but it turns out they were returning home from training military pilots in the Philippines.

One thing the kids look forward to is having meal at the airport after arrival. This ensures nobody is hungry on the shuttle bus or upon reaching the hotel, so we can relax more.

McDonald's Narita

Waiting for the shuttle bus to Tokyo. It’s Christian’s first time in Japan.

Narita

Cold.

Narita

Through my friend Char Vilchez of Agoda.com, I was able to book two connecting rooms at Park Hyatt in Shinjuku. Not bad.
The last time I stayed there was at a Gap event in 2009.
My first two choices were Peninsula Tokyo and Ritz-Carlton, but both were bloody expensive. I booked Park Hyatt because I remembered the bathroom.

Cecile van Straten

This is what will greet you at the entrance

Park Hyatt Tokyo

It looks like the head of Bacchus, god of wine. My kids found it creepy.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Park Hyatt is well known for being the backdrop of Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation.

Lost-in-Translation-3

This is the upper lobby, daytime

Park Hyatt

and nighttime

Park Hyatt Tokyo
Park Hyatt Tokyo

This restaurant was mostly deserted

Park Hyatt Tokyo

This way to the reception area and the rooms

Park Hyatt Tokyo

This was Jeroen’s and my room

Park Hyatt Tokyo
Park Hyatt Tokyo

Welcome chocolate

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Mini bar

Park Hyatt Tokyo

There was a nice walk-in closet, that was hard to photograph.
And here’s the bathroom, starting with the perfect bathtub on one end

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Separate shower stall right next to it

Park Hyatt Tokyo

TV to keep you company

Park Hyatt Tokyo

The chuva-approved sink, with flat counter top and no protruding bowl

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Separate high-tech Japanese toilet stall

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Amenities

Park Hyatt Tokyo

and most important, a makeup counter!!

Park Hyatt Tokyo

The boys loved the super-fast internet.
Although the rooms were perfect, here’s why I will not go back to the Park Hyatt:
1) Location. There is nothing in Shinjuku for me. Nothing is walkable, unlike Ginza or Shibuya. There is a hotel shuttle to Shinkuju station, but nobody told us about it until the last day. Too bad because we could’ve saved some taxi fare!!
2) The nearest convenience stores are quite a walk away. That means if you’re really hungry, you have to settle for hotel food.
3) Hotel food is not good and so expensive. I would spend Php 4,000/meal for room service. No problem if the steak was even as good as Tsukiji‘s Php 4,000-peso steak, but it’s not.
There are food choices in the building’s basement but only Saboten was acceptable, which the kids got tired of on the second day.
P.S. There is a convenience store at the basement, but doesn’t have the takeaway dishes the kids like from the typical Japanese 7-11 or Family Mart.
So no more Park Hyatt for us. I think Shinjuku is best for business travelers, not families or shoppers.

(To be continued)

Big Eyes, the movie

The boys are now 7, 12, and 13.
While Christian is still a kid—into Power Rangers and Lego—the older boys are growing up. They’re in that interesting stage where they still play Minecraft and NBA 2K15, but moving on from the kiddie stuff.
Markus doesn’t want to watch cartoons anymore and Ben is kind of deep; he appreciates subtitled films.
When we travel, we’ll hit amusement parks and toy stores, but I’ll also point out nice buildings, art, and furniture.

Ben and Mark at 21_21 Design Sight
The boys discover Tadao Ando in Tokyo

Last night was movie night at home.
After watching lots of trailers on Apple TV, I found Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, which we rented on the spot.
But what’s a movie without a snack? We ordered McDonald’s chicken fillets and fries and had a picnic on the floor.

Big Eyes stars Amy Adams as Margaret Keane and Christoph Waltz as the husband, Walter Keane.

Big Eyes

Having grown up in’70s, I have vague memories of paintings with big eyes that were kitschy and haunting at the same time.

keane

Today, they are known to be works of Margaret Keane. But back in the day, at the height of their fame, someone else claimed to have painted them.
That person was Margaret’s husband Walter—a pretentious, delusional liar with the gift of gab and marketing.

42-52067518

Margaret was a single mom in the middle of a messy divorce when she met Walter Keane who was unsuccessful in selling paintings of generic Paris street scenes.

Big Eyes

He convinced her to marry him when Margaret’s ex-husband threatened to take custody of her young daughter, whose big eyes inspired the paintings.

Big Eyes

When Margaret and Walter started exhibiting together at a local bar, it was Margaret’s paintings that started to sell. That’s when Walter started to take credit for her paintings and sell them as his own.

Big Eyes

It was his marketing and commercialization skills—producing mass-produced prints and postcards—that made them rich and Walter famous. All the while keeping the real painter secret to the world—even to her daughter.

Big Eyes movie

The secret and lies start to eat her up.
It takes years of abuse before she finds courage to leave Walter and start a new life in Hawaii with her daughter.
She does a radio interview where she finally reveals the secret, which hits the papers and turns into a scandal.
What follows next is a court room circus that will put to rest who is the real artist among the two.
Watch the trailer.

“So what did you learn from the movie?” I asked the boys while brushing our teeth.
“That it’s bad to lie,” said Ben.
“That stealing is karmic,” said Markus.
Indeed, Walter Keane died penniless and probably friendless in 2000, while Margaret remarried and still paints everyday.
Plus, she has this great Tim Burton movie to tell her story.

Amy Adams, Margaret Keane
Amy Adams with the real Margaret Keane

http://bigeyesfilm.com

Lego fans, don’t miss the first Lego Certified Store in the Philippines

The first Lego Certified Store opened yesterday at Park Triangle in Bonifacio Global City.
Its opening also marked the first time I would take all three sons to a media event. While Ben and Markus have outgrown their Legos and moved on to Minecraft, Christian is still very much interested in anything Lego.

Christian with storm troopers

Stormtroopers welcomed VIPs and media guests at the morning event. At 1 PM, the store opened to the public.
News about its opening traveled fast through social media.
This was how the store looked before the guests arrived.

Lego store at The Fort

Nice and spacious.

Lego store at The Fort

And this is how it looked pretty much for the rest of the day—on the outside

Queueing at the Lego store

And inside

Queueing at the Lego store
Queueing at the Lego store
Queueing at the Lego store
Queueing at the Lego store

Insanity.
“I don’t understand, is there a special discount today?” I asked the people.
Nope. They were all lining up for personalized keychains, basically a Lego brick (Php 179) that can be engraved for an extra Php 100.

Personalizing keychains

They are really cute, but we’ve had a chance to make them in Tokyo last year, so no need to line up for now.

jeroen

Some folks were also lining up for the Php 50 Lego Spider-Man Glider sets—proceeds of which will benefit World Vision’s project of rebuilding classrooms in Malabon. I would’ve wanted to hoard, but only five pieces per customer.
LEGO will be selling 5,000 pieces of the Spider-Man Glider up to May 17, 2015.

Spiderman lego

We’ve had Lego sold in the Philippine stores for years but this is the first Lego Certified Store with exclusive collectors’ sets and product lines.
“A Lego Certified Store is a store that is designed by The Lego Group, and adheres to all the store fit-out and experience guidelines,” said Camilla Botke, RTM Senior Manager at Lego Group.
Camilla (L) welcomed guests at the opening with Mr. Jan Christensen, Denmark’s ambassador to the Philippines

Camilla Botke and Jan Christensen

Both carried commemorative Lego jeepney Legos in lucite boxes.

Lego jeepney
Lego Jeepney

Among the store’s special features are: the Pick A Brick station that allows customers to buy LEGO elements (sold per 100 grams) that they might need to finish their own creations

Lego store at The Fort

Build A Mini lets you build your own mini figures by choosing headwear, head, torso, legs and tools/accessories—very limited selection though; subject to what’s available.

Lego store at The Fort

The Monthly Mini Build program is a hands-on event where kids ages 6-14 are invited to create simple, seasonal and exclusive LEGO Store mini builds—no purchase necessary.
And while everyone was going gaga over the personalized bricks, here’s what caught my eye: the Architecture series, featuring the Imperial Hotel (Tokyo, Japan), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Lego sets

and the Villa Savoye (Poissy, France) which looks like my future (flood-free) home

Lego sets

If I were a kid again, I would love to have this box

architecture studio

There are tons of Minecraft sets, which is amazing considering these used to be few and hard to find

Lego sets
Lego sets
Lego sets

Plus some really fun Simpsons sets, like the Kwik-E-Mart
kwik e mart
and the hosue
simsons house

Very pricey though. I wonder if they offer 0% interest?
The newly opened store is the most complete Lego store you will find in the Philippines—with Duplo for smaller kids; Lego Friends, Elves and Frozen for the girls; plus Star Wars, Ninjago, and Super Heroes for the boys.
Lego fans, don’t miss it.
The store is located at Park Triangle, 11th Avenue corner Rizal Drive Bonifacio Global City Taguig (beside Kidzania) open daily from 11 AM to 9 PM.

Signs of progress: Studioilse designs Cathay Pacific Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3

Remember that Cathay Pacific Noodle Bar you always look forward to at the Hong Kong International Airport?
It just opened in Manila, at NAIA Terminal 3.
What’s more, the newly opened Cathay Pacific Lounge was designed by Studioilse, the London-based design studio led by Ilse Crawford.

Cathay Pacific Lounge, Haneda
Studioilse-designed entrance to Cathay Pacific Lounge in Haneda

Located at Level 4 near Gate 114, the new lounge adopts the new Studioilse design template—with the cherry wood walls and limestone floor, using warm, natural materials like wood and stone to soften acoustics where possible.
The design also features details such as glazed screens, green ceramic tiles at The Noodle Bar, bronze highlights at the main entrance, and brass in the Bar.

Cathay Pacific Lounge, Haneda
Studioilse design template in Haneda with green ceramic tiles at The Noodle Bar

The Manila lounge measures 650 square meters—almost twice the size of the previous lounge at NAIA Terminal 1—with a seating capacity of approximately 135 seats.
The overall feeling is more like a living room than an airline lounge, with natural sunlight coming through the windows.
Designer furniture and lighting, bespoke chairs and side tables with in-built lamps and sockets offer a comfortable environment and understated luxury for First and Business Class passengers before boarding.
Three individual workstations offer the use of iMacs and printers, and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the lounge.

Cathay Pacific lounge
Wish this guy came with the lounge

Finally, the dining area’s signature Noodle Bar will offer a selection of Asian noodles like dandan mien and wonton noodle soup, freshly prepared by a chef.

Wonton Noodles

From the morning hours until 11 AM, an authentic Philippine breakfast will also be offered, and the Bar is where passengers can enjoy a wide selection of tapas, desserts, freshly blended cocktails and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
PS. Is there Haagen-Dazs?
Makes me wonder what the bathrooms look like.
Now there’s another reason to fly Cathay Pacific.

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