Cool ...Shhhh ...

And what do you call a school where you study alcohol? 
A Scohol.

I hope the driver of the car in the second picture is not a student from the scohol school. ...LOL!


Obama is Mr. Serendipity

I began listening to the State of the Union address at home, then part of it while driving. For the three quarters of the speech that I was able to catch, here are a few of my thoughts on it.

1. It was another typical feel-good platitudinal political speech.

2. It was a hopelessly hopeful speech without the audacity of Hope.
I’m sure Mr. Obama deliberately left out the word "hope" (and change) especially in the context of his campaign promises and theme. Why? Because Americans had lost - and are losing - hope in his administration. Besides, he keeps pointing the finger and blaming the previous administration for America's problems. What Obama needs to understand is that due mostly to Bush’s (and the Republicans’) political pitfalls, blunders, mistakes and mishaps, he and the Democrats won the presidency - serendipitously!

3. In his address, Obama uses what I personally call the "gloom will bloom" approach. He portrays America as a largely gloomy and mediocre nation - despite all her successes and achievements - in order to advance and sell his blooming and winning the future political pitch.

4. It was a still-moving-to-the-center speech with 2012 in mind. He once said - or at least entertained the thought - that he was going to be a one-term president. Now he’s already starting his campaign for next year - and next term. He is also trying to give an impression and image of a moderate president who can broker some kind of unity between the parties especially now with a split Congress.

5. About the theme of the speech, "Winning the Future" - Isn’t that a variant or a metaphorical allusion for Hope?

By the way, if Obama wins a second term, it would only be because of a steady economic recovery which will not be from any of his doing, but rather by the natural market and economic patterns and fluctuations. And in that case, he should officially be dubbed as a serendipitous president - or simply, Mr. Serendipity.

No, Jimmer was not cold ...

Jimmer, or Bust!
 He was  GOLD! ...as in bright, as in tough, as in valuable, as in precious, as in glittery, as in brilliant, as in dazzling, as in splendid .... Jimmer was just fantastic and phenomenal.  He scored 43 points -over 50% of the team’s 71 points.  A great win for BYU.
SDSU had their first loss tonight. It was a great game that certainly lived up to the hype.  Kudos to the COUGARS!

Jimmer, a new household name (WSJ) ...click here  and  here

Celebrating the win - 23,000 fans in the Marriott Center -BYU
 (Photos by Deseret News)


The Game

...fans bracing the cold

And Y not? ...it's the most stone-cold sober college ...LOL!

Tomorrow night (Wednesday 26th) is the game - no not the Super Bowl. But it’s the biggest men’s basketball game at the Marriott Center - 22,000 plus capacity - on the BYU Campus. BYU will play San Diego State University. SDSU is ranked 4th and BYU 9th in the nation. It’s touted as “the undefeated” (SDSU 20-0) against “the unstoppable” (BYU’s Jimmer Fredette). And that makes for an interesting game. Jimmer is a leading candidate for “National Player of the Year” Award.

These are perhaps the most stone cold fans on  definitely the most stone-cold sober campus in America (12 years in a row) waiting for a chance to get a ticket to the game - seemingly not bothered by the sudden snowstorm.

I am a big fan of BYU sports but I will settle for a comfortable seat at home in front of the TV with my warm blanket and hot chocolate.


Gotta love these Cougars who will be cheered by many.  After all, BYU is America’s Most Popular University - two years in a row; Harvard is #2...click here.  Go figure!

...and GOOOO COOOOOUGARS! ... Let's hope Jimmer will not be stone cold ...LOL!

(photos by Deseret News)



On Chain Messages

Warning:  Read this for whatever it's worth ... or ... its worth.  Hahahaaa.... (If you don't get it, then read the last post.)

Anyway, I'm going to go out on a limb here, swimming against the current, going against the grain, spitting into the wind (you catch my drift) ...OR MAYBE NOT!
Let me admit something about Facebook. I like and dislike FB. It has its place and niche - albeit noncritical and nondecisive - in our lives. Like most things in life, FB is both good and uhmmm...bad! I guess a lot - not all - of that depends on the user. Common sense still rules a lot of things on Facebook and elsewhere for that matter. I've written somewhere that Facebook is, and can be, an experience in extremes. Hence the wise perceptive and careful user operates within such extremes - using reason, moderation and, again, common sense.
Now, I know some women will hiss me for this, while others (women) will "kiss" me for it. This particular gripe of mine with FB has to do with the following chain post targeting women.

"I consider you one of the LOVELIEST women on Facebook. Once you've been selected you must choose 15 of the most BEAUTIFUL women on your friends list. If you are awarded this distinction more than once, then you will know that you are EXCEPTIONALLY beautiful! Cut and paste this on the wall of 15 Beautiful women..!"

I guess my gripe is more with women creating and circulating it than Facebook facilitating it. I know the main objective of the message is a "feel good" one. Some may go a notch higher and say it boosts their self esteem and self worth. Really? The question then becomes this: Are you really one of those women whose self worth or self esteem is boosted and supercharged by a chain post with "cut and paste" conditions? Oh such guile, such duplicity.

First of all, it's cliquish, if not prejudiced! "Cut and paste this on the wall of 15 Beautiful women...!?" "Ugly" women, be forewarned, you don't count. And don't give me the "all women are beautiful" dupery, otherwise "15 Beautiful women" will not have been specified.  (Why not just 15 women?)  Most women have more than 15 lady friends. So what about the other 20 or 100? Hopefully they will get their turn somehow with all the interconnections, aye?

Second, the conditionality issue. Read this particular statement:

"If you are awarded this distinction more than once, then you will know that you are EXCEPTIONALLY beautiful!"

See the "If ...then" stipulation?  Shouldn't "beautiful" and "exceptionally beautiful" approval be given and awarded unconditionally - or at least using some practical and palpable measures, instead of using the "cut-paste-chain" method? And I'm talking about the inner beauty especially.

And hypothetically speaking, suppose a Cindy out there received the message NOT more than once, then what? Then she is NOT EXCEPTIONALLY beautiful. Kalofa e, ia Cindy. (Pity Cindy.) E ke'i gei ua pule i le ola si fafige. (Poor woman, she may end up committing suicide.)

Sadly, some women have fallen for the foxiness (pun intended) of the message that they feel obligated to cut and paste - OR ELSE. You know the notion of how a kiss loses its value and worth if given freely and to anyone? Likewise, a painting devalues if it's duplicated and copied many times? That's how it is with these chain messages, they lose their value, meaning and worth (not that there was much to begin with) the more they are copied, pasted and distributed. They become meaningless, trivial, empty and hollow.

Call me cynical and antisocial (hence anti-FB) and I'll call you whimsical. So are we even? Well, how about those women, and ALL MEN, who agree with me? ...LOL! 
Final advice: Please stop falling prey to the insane, profane and the mundane.

HOWEVER, you can copy and paste this post and send it to 15 favorite blogs and you will be considered bold and exceptionally daring.  FOCROTFL!

Have a good weekend ...

PS: My own definition of chain correspondence (letters, posts, e-mails) are those that "chain" (i.e. bound and shackle) - not link.


It's it's ...

What seems to be the most common grammatical - and spelling - error in the written/printed English language TODAY?
Answer: It is it is.  Haha...are you confused? Ok, here:  It’s “it’s”  or  It is “it’s”.

“it’s” (with the apostrophe) is a contraction for “it is” or “it has”
“its” (without the apostrophe) is a possessive pronoun.

The error/mistake is made when using the contraction form in place of the possessive pronoun.

I see it everywhere. It’s made by college students and graduates, professional writers, online newspapers, major television networks and even government leaders.  Here’s a sample from one Pacific PM’s speech:

“The year 2010 with it’s misfortunes and hardships ....”
“Government as part of it’s ongoing development plans ....”
“...Government in it’s development programme for the entire nation....”

Hey PM, rewrite using “its” ....

Now here’s the real killer -  Which one is correct?

Whatever it’s worth?  Or  Whatever its worth?

MY answer:  Both are and CAN be correct!


Tautoga Gausia and Religion in Samoa

Is there cloaked and surreptitious religious bigotry in Samoa? According to Tautoga, there is. The movie makes a fair claim about a family’s religious affiliation as one of the main impressions among Samoans. What seems bothersome is that the impression of a family’s membership in a particular church is raised and identified as some type of stigma. In other words, families are branded depending on their particular religion or denomination. And though mostly hushed and masked, religious prejudice rears its ugly head during inopportune and unfortunate times as in weddings and marriages.

A direct link between religious differences and Sam’s suicide is debatable. However, it is apparent and evident that religion plays an indisputable role in the wave effect (pun intended) of events that finally lead to Sam’s death. Simply, religion contributes to the complications in the marriage goal in the movie. More importantly there have been actual incidents in Samoa in which certain engagements, weddings and marriages ended in suicide because of the different religious affiliations of couples. The difference is often acerbated and escalated by the parents and families (aiga). In Tautoga, the budding love story is marred by religious bigotry and innuendo.

Samoa may not be an Ireland but it still has its own insidious inter-denominational battles fought mostly on the family level. And though there is the SCC (Samoa Council of Churches) whose one of its goals is to forge oneness among Christian denominations, it does little, if any, to resolve differences and prejudices among member families. Today some may say that the religion problem in proposed marriages is anachronistic and therefore largely nonexistent. The truth, however, is that the more the extended families are involved in the planning and especially the arranging of marriages, the more likely that the religion precondition is wielded by families of the bride and groom. Marriage concerns should be left to the couple’s mutual agreement, choice or compromise especially if religion becomes an issue.

Religious intolerance robs the individuals of free agency, a virtue espoused by Tafu’e - albeit superficially - when he tells the lay preacher that since times have changed, Teuila will answer for herself to his proposal. The painful irony is that Tafu’e, as a parent, then adamantly abrogates Teuila’s choice in the religion in which the marriage will be solemnized. Regrettably, Sam’s parents also display and promote the same religious partiality and eccentricity.

Disavowment of an aiga's religious affiliation by a family member is not viewed favorably among the Samoans. In fact, to most Samoans, family religion is jealously and religiously guarded as an inviolable and strict inheritance; any deviant or apostate is often derided or sometimes disowned. What proved to be a more disturbing trend loomed on the national level last year in which government and religious leaders - surprisingly - condoned and mulled proposed changes, rules and laws favoring only certain religions and banning others. This is despicable and will only make religious matters worse in a country that claims to have been "founded on God." The government’s encroachment in matters regarding religion will further blur the line between church and state.

The religious overtones in Tautoga therefore can serve as evidence for incrimination of some advocates of religious favoritism and intolerance in Samoan society.


A Spy Center near my home?

This ginormous complex is under construction about a stone’s throw from my home. There are huge loaders and all kinds of heavy machinery and bright lights at night at the site. It’s going to take two years to build.

It’s a Data Center called the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) - or simply “Spy Center”. It is dubbed as the “largest military construction project in recent memory” and the “world’s most powerful cyber spy center” - again, near my home. It costs $1.5 billion. It will be filled with computers and all other modern technological equipment and innovation. It sounds like one of those centers - at least in concept - in a James Bond movie, only bigger, more sophisticated and real.

According to one article, “The government says what will happen inside is classified. However, one of the speakers at [the] groundbreaking said, 'It will find, fix, and kill the enemy.'" In addition it says that among other reasons, “the center is coming to Utah because of its highly educated workforce produced by the area's universities.” The jobs will be high-tech hence high-paying. That’s great and awesome especially in this lackluster economy.

But what happens if a rogue country sends some missiles over? I’m sure some of those first ones will have my approximate GPS coordinates written all over them. Well, hopefully, that even before any such missiles or cyber attacks find their target, the Spy Center will have already known, “found, fixed and killed” them.  The Spy Center appears to represent the core of America’s cyber warfare arsenal.

So either my home is really vulnerable or quite safe - hopefully the latter.


Tautoga Gausia: A Commentary

Did Sam commit honor suicide?

The term "honor suicide" sounds ambiguous and paradoxical though it actually refers to suicide as a way to escape or absolve any shameful wrongdoing or immoral actions by the victim, or others. In other words, honor suicide is committed to preserve and maintian "honor". Generally, honor suicide is not and should not be condoned neither should it be interpreted to entail a justification or rationalization.

Tautoga's depiction of Sam’s impetuous choice and fate is largely suspicious if not unjustified considering the mainly antithetical storyline and prosaic plot - unless there’s a convincing backstory, plot twist or vague subplot that may be enhanced or revealed later. But the repetitive use and reference by Sam of the word "mataga” (embarrassing/embarrassment) and “faamataga" (disgraced/dishonored) to his parents, especially during his final and violent confrontations with his father advance the possibility of an honor suicide. And in spite of individual choice and accountability, some may push the blame - wholly or partially - on the community at large.

Embarrassment and disgrace are universal but Samoans are extremely sensitive and susceptible to them. The native degrees in seriousness from individual embarrassment (ma or maasiasi) to family and community disgrace (luma) are established norms and can often prove egregious and fatal in some cases. The emphasis and expectation on the individual to carry and protect the good name of the family, village, etc. is something that all Samoans understand. Family honor is paramount in Samoa and needs to be protected, maintained and preserved - oftentimes, at all costs. Therefore, the individual - in reversed fashion - is family and/or village writ large and the adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is neither farfetched nor impractical.

The concept of individual conduct mirroring group and community values and morals is a good guide and motivation for ideal and praiseworthy behavior. But the concept also has its drawbacks especially in places like Samoa. Though beneficent in mutuality and reciprocality, close-knit community orientation can also be counterproductive and maleficent. The drawbacks exist when the individual falls short of the expectations of the larger homogenous and close-knit groups. Any mischances or failures by the individual can result in some type of vilification denouncement and even defamation. Public disgrace - real or imagined - as a consequence therefore is often a plausible link and motive for suicidal impulses.

Put simply, the pressure to perform and conform is certainly expected and demanded. This pressure can get overwhelming and unbearable when the individual fails. In Tautoga, Sam seems to buckle under this pressure. He seems apprehensively preemptive of imminent disgrace. The influence and effect of the perceived scoff and mockery of his family - in Sam’s own words - by Teuila’s family, his company and others because of his father’s belligerent and ignominious behavior, bother and preoccupy Sam immediately before his death.

Is Sam’s decision to take his life an outlet for any shameful anticipations, public disgrace and consequences stemming from his father’s violent and belligerent disposition? Possibly. In that case, it's possible that Sam's death is an honor suicide. In Samoa, therefore, it may be fair to say that it takes a village to not only raise, but also raze, a child.

Ooooh Goooraight!

Just as I finished writing a post with my 2011 outlook based mainly on horoscopes, they - the horoscopers or horoscopedians - come out with a refutation of the present signs - that they’re wrong because the Earth has been wobbling. Good heavens! Are you kidding me? See, this is why I said I don’t believe in these Zodiac maniacs. This is like saying that if you ride long enough on a wobbly bus that’s traveling on an unpaved road with lots of potholes and bumps, in the end your tibias and fibulas will switch places and the femurs will fall off from their pelvic sockets. Weird.

Well, with new changes I am now an Aquarius ...but what difference does it make if I do not believe in them? So I’m safe and just for the sake of wanting to hobnob with the “stars”, I will remain a Piscean. Once a Piscean always a Piscean. I like Pisces because I like fish. Very much.

Thankfully, my Piscean middle name is Patiente (it’s Martian for “patience” ..haha) so I’ll wait for Mother Earth to wobble my Pisces back into its rightful place (Feb 20-March 20) then I’ll renew my subscription to their Zodiac magazine and philosophy. Otherwise for the time being, the old Piscean horoscopes will remain in effect in my little corner of the planet, solar system, galaxy or wherever I currently exist as a mortal. I need to remind these mere earthlings that the universe, worlds and celestial bodies have been perfectly organized and much more orderly than they’ll ever know.


Come on Pisces light my fire

...a lighthearted post. A break from the more serious writing as of late.

It's a new year - 2011...
Whaaaaat? ... Already? ...
Where did 2010 go?
Yea, but where?
To the afterlife.

Oh my. I still have not started on my last year's resolutions. Come to think of it, they're not resolutions anymore - they're revolutions. Because they are not resolved - they just revolve, year in and year out. Yep, they just keep going round and round and.... roooound. Or better still, they may not have even revolved, but evolved - into new ones, new goals and new resolutions.

Well, I have actually thought about my resolutions for 2011. I started by saying: This is the year. It's the year. 2011 is my year. Well, duh, and so is everyone else's. Every soul on the planet and possibly in the universe  is saying the same thing.

No, no, this is the year - do you hear? No fret. No fear.
Why this year? Because it's a dear year. Funny. Funny.

Well it's a start of a new freshly-minted decade. That means if not this year, I still have nine more years to do what I'm planning to do with this fresh start. In fact the year 2020 should be a good clear year - if you catch what I mean - to everyone's sight - foresight, that is. Cool. Cool.

Anyhow, you see, once in a violet moon, I read horoscopes. But I don't believe in them. The word itself sounds like "horror scopes" which sounds like something a doctor would use to probe your long and winding anatomical convolutions and yes ... revolutions too. Now let me rephrase my position on horoscopes. I actually like them but I still don't believe in them. I like them only if they give me serious motivation. Meaning, only if they light and keep the proverbial fire in the belly burning ....Hot!

Recently, by chance, I found two very positive and very favorable horoscopes. No, I did not go hunting for them; they just happened to cross paths with my keen and inquisitive Poly brown eyes. Horoscopes are nowhere close to my devotion - uhmmm ok, addiction - to the Sports page. (Btw, if they want men to read horoscopes, please insert them in a sports article or picture, or pin them on a picture of some nice, kind and church-going person like Ms. Crawford, Hayek, Zeta-Jones or JLo - no, not a Kardashian.)

Anyway here are the two Pisces horoscopes that have jump-started my new year - first one specifically for 2011.

Pisces, the stars of fortune are ready to bless you with some things you've been waiting for in 2011! Jupiter, planet of success, and Uranus, planet of luck, will be conjunct in your sign as you kick off the New Year, so you'll enjoy a positive start. You'll be especially fortunate in love, the arts, or service to others - anything ruled by your dreamy sign. The only downside is that things might not be handed to you - you need to work hard for what you want. But you can do it!

Wow! This speaks directly to me and my goals in 2011. Is there a downside? Yea, the things might not be handed to me, I have to work hard for them. Dang it! ...LOL! ..Actually, FAIR Enough! ...and that's the key word - "fair", not as in complexion or carnival, but as in "just" and "equitable". Someone said that life is the most fair employer - it gives you back what you sowed or invested . So I like "fair"! The second horoscope says the same thing about being fair.

Use your creative ideas to turn a profit. What you have to offer, along with a tempting presentation, has potential to position you for success. There is a lot to gain by handling fairly what needs doing.

Ok, ok, I get it. Work hard and be fair and I will gain a lot! ...But the best motivation of all, is the assurance that I CAN DO IT ! ...so I therefore say, "Come on Pisces ...light... my... fire!"  2011 is THE year!


Tautoga Gausia: Critical Review

Part III

Filial Love versus Romantic Love.
Though most of the initial and conscious sentiments go to Sam and Teuila because of an unconsummated marriage and tragic ending, some extant thematic issues stay adrift in the ominous ocean of Tautoga Gausia. Their ambiguous and intricate nature incites more questions than there are answers. Questions such as these: Are parents being criticized and reprimanded in the movie? Did Sam commit honor suicide? How much, if any, do the children owe their parents? Does the "new freedom"- according to Tafu’e - for a daughter to choose a suitor include choosing a religion in which to get married, or is the religion issue decided and settled solely by the parents and the aiga?

In light of these issues, it appears that Tautoga puts the parents - more than the children - on the proverbial stand for both cross-examination and self-examination. For a good portion of the movie, the underlying pitting of family against family and parents against children in their socio-religious roles, decisions and obligations are evident.

Sam and Filemoni do not have a close relationship. A battle of wills exists between them and Sam’s overall lack of affection for his parents makes him a less than obedient child, especially compared to Teuila’s obedience and close relationship with her parents. While Sam argues with his parents, especially his dad, Teuila is a model child (teine lelei) who quietly submits to the wishes of her parents. The relationship seems ideal based on understanding, mutuality and respect. And although she falls in love with Sam, she still maintains strong ties and love for her parents -again, unlike Sam.

Ironically, Tautoga uses Teuila as a messenger of filial love, more than romantic love, which she considers and advertizes as "Soft Love". The petition for - and sometimes imposition of - filial love is rather common among Samoan parents especially those who use the Biblical fifth commandment as basis, as well as justification, for absolute obedience and even ludicrous demands - bordering on force and compulsion - on/of their children. For most families these demands often create tension and subsequently drive wedges into family relationships.

The parent-child discord is depicted in the switching shots that contrast Filemoni working arduously in his plantation while Sam is having a fun time at the swimming pool with his friends and waiting for his girlfriend. The comparative scenes represent a common notion for parents’ accusations and complaints for cold-hearted children. Filemoni voices a common rebuke in an aside while taking a break. Sam who withdraws and sequesters himself from his real parents is a guilty party in all this. In the scenes, Filemoni certainly gets the sympathy of the viewers and typical Samoan parents can identify with the complaint and the fatuaiga (family sustenance) comment that impugns untrustworthy and disloyal children.

Tautoga further entreats for support of paternal sentiments and for filial love through the Western Union remittance scene. A remittance represents, in most cases, a definite demonstration of filial love by children living away from home. Apparently the money is not from Sam and therefore serves as a further smear on his disloyal child disposition. Also, the fact that Sam does not live far from his parents on the same island and never - according to Filemoni - goes to visit or help, does not help his case either. Sam’s disputative and arrogant assurance to his father that he is not counting on anyone to help out with the wedding, as well as his seeking the counsel of others (Tise?) and not of his parents also attest to the discordant relationship.

The above trend and pattern in the movie’s depiction of Sam therefore cast him in disfavor with some Samoan parents. And though some viewers have empathy for him, especially in death, others may feel unsympathetic and may even pass malicious judgment on his fate as poetic justice. On a more compassionate level, some may see Sam’s untimely death as an extreme remorseful and self-redeeming act, though rationalizing suicide at the same time. Still others may cite the reverse literal fulfillment of the promise in the fifth commandment. Simply, Sam’s "days [are not] long upon the land" for not honoring his father and mother and lacking filial love.

As a subtle yet stark contrast to the loftiness of filial love, romantic love is depicted as inferior, fickle and soft. Teuila’s own affirmation of their love as infatuated and soft is painted befittingly as "Soft Love" on her shirt during the prearranged picnic at the beach. Further, Sam, oblivious to the notion and concept, writes the evanescent "I love Teuila" on the porous, soft and impermanent sand at the beach. Perhaps the climactic representation of the fleeting nature of romantic love is symbolized in the simulated marriage. The irony in all this is the immediate annulment of the "marriage" not by any other reason but by death, as affirmed by the typical declaration "til death do us part".


Tautoga Gausia: A Critical Review

Part II

Who is the Protagonist? Filemoni - not Sam
In typical feature film fashion, the protagonist (hero or main character) is one around whom the plot, storyline and other elements revolve. He/She is also the one who demonstrates and substantiates the character arc based on the three-act structure of prototypical movies. In the character arc, the protagonist experiences change - more specifically, growth - during the course of the movie. The protagonist embarks on a quest facing inordinate and often insurmountable challenges - outer and/or inner.

In the end he overcomes the challenge(s), hence the change and growth.  Death - especially by suicide - is hardly evidence of growth and/or overcoming the challenge(s), unless the death of the protagonist is depicted as sacrifice or martyrdom in which case religious dogma will have been the main push behind the subtext and overall message of the movie. Similarly, in the case of Tautoga, some may elevate and argue Sam’s death as that of a "martyr" for the anti-suicide cause. But despite the convincing role of religion in the storyline, Tautoga is not a movie on religious dogma.

So even though there is not a clear-cut protagonist, we can still dub one, at least for our own penchant and sanity. Most viewers generally agree that Sam and/or Teuila are the main characters, but the lack of change and/or growth in their characters disqualify them in the protagonist search. Filemoni is more qualified as protagonist. He is the one who demonstrates change - though quite late - and therefore adheres to the character arc paradigm. Better late than never, some in the Filemoni-as-protagonist camp may argue. Personally my disappointment lies in the brevity and feebleness of the scene of him as a penitent; the timing also proves more anticlimactic and therefore seems futile and ineffective. But again, Tautoga’s educational story as a docudrama overrides and transcends character struggles and development. And like Cooper says, that in a docudrama "although there are many characters on both sides ... their vividness does not dominate the story, indeed there is no single main character."

Nonetheless, as Samoan viewers, we still always look and pine for a protagonist or hero (tama o le ata/tama autu) regardless of genre. And if there doesn’t seem to be a clear one, we assign our own - as long as he’s not dead in the end. For Samoans, this concept is traditional and proverbial. There’s a familiar story of an old Samoan father who asked his son, who had just come home from the movies, to recount for him the story and plot, but with one condition - to make sure the protagonist is not dead in the end. Though chimerical, the notion is widely adopted and embraced. Yet, it’s not a Samoan concoction either; rather, it’s the conventions of a typical three-act plot of the majority of movies that are being observed and followed. Perhaps this is the reason some viewers are not comfortable with endowing Sam as protagonist - because he dies in the end.

The more we relate to a particular character in a movie, the more we identify with him and the more anxious we are in putting him on a pedestal as our hero. And so we often end up anointing our own protagonist as someone who is brave, strong, funny or who is like us in some ways. We also look for someone who resembles a close relative or someone in real life, a role model character or standout. Filemoni is that standout character in Tautoga. In fact it’s possible that he qualifies for a dual role of protagonist and antagonist based on the nature of his character. Add to that his true-to-life portrayal of a typical belligerent short-tempered, yet hard working Samoan father and Filemoni- both the character and the actor - has a future in Samoan films. Even with his antagonistic tendencies, we seem to relate better to Filemoni than any other character. He is someone’s father, brother, uncle, neighbor or friend. Though harsh and unrepentant in his testimony at his son’s funeral service, Filemoni uses three words which may be termed as "sad and painful truths" to describe the cause(s) of Sam’s death - stubbornness (fiafaali’i), cowardice (pala’ai) and stupidity (faavalevalea).

Again, Filemoni changes and grows - not Sam. Filemoni contemplates suicide but overcomes the urge - not Sam. Filemoni is more realistic and natural in demeanor and dialogue - not Sam. Filemoni displays qualities of a protagonist - even if cast as a "false" one - but not Sam. All in all, Filemoni’s character is easily the most believable one. Even on the emotional and sentimental levels, Filemoni gets my unbiased sympathy.

By contrast, the assumed main characters - Sam and Teuila - are lethargic as far as acting and dialogue are concerned. Though they drive the story, they remain lackluster and dull. Most of the scenes are short brief and bland. Sam and Teuila seem unnatural, contrived and artificial at times. Can we use innocence, inexperience and the lack of sophistication of youth to explain Sam and Teuila’s uninteresting characters? Maybe, maybe not - since both are grown adults. Anyhow, for their first efforts as movie characters, Sam and Teuila should still be congratulated and saluted.

...part iii next