Wednesday, September 26, 2007

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Unreality bites

The last time Neil Gaiman was in the Philippines, my friends and I traveled all the way from Baguio to meet him. We were in Rockwell to catch his first public Filipino appearance at Fully Booked. There, he read from a chapter of his then unreleased book Anansi Boys and introduced scenes from the movie Mirror Mask. We were standing right by the side door he came in. It was a shock when he breezed through, looking uber-cool in a leather jacket and his hair in slight disarray. The man is a rock star.

Anyway, we weren't able to actually meet him because there was something like a thousand people in line before us. I forget the actual numbers, but I recall that some of the people who waited to get their books signed that day had to wait until the next morning to meet him. And that was even with Gaiman signing until about 2am. At Fully Booked in Greenhills Promenade, we were 20 people shy of coming face-to-face with him. The management had to limit the number of people getting in because there were simply too many of us. The bus ride to Baguio was long and painful, our unsigned books screaming out for love from inside our backpacks. Later we learned that he made an appearance at Fully Booked Gateway and signed every book/graphic novel that came his way. Oh the agony! I was haunted by this staggering disappointment days after.

Neil was so overwhelmed by his reception in the Philippines (he said we were "louder than the Brazilians") that in 2006, he and Fully Booked came up with a graphic novel/ fiction writing contest called Unmasked, the first of its kind in the Philippines. Now:

Fully Booked in cooperation with Neil Gaiman is proud to present UNREALITY BITES, the sequel to the very successful Philippine Graphic/ Fiction Awards launched last year in the name of Filipino Unrealism!

We want you to be the next big name in the science fiction, fantasy or horror genre!

Send in your original work for the two categories: comics and prose fiction. All winning entries will be compiled and published by Fully Booked, with a foreword by Neil Gaiman.

Over P300,000 worth of prizes will be given away!
Including P100,000 grand prize for the first place winners!

Deadline of submission is October 31, 2007.

Coming soon this November!
Catch Neil Gaiman again in Manila when he visits Fully Booked for the Awards Night and book launch of "Expeditions," the 1st Philippine Graphic/Fiction compilation.*

You can download the contest guidelines here and the official application form here. To get regular updates about the contest, you can join the Yahoo! group gaiman_writing contest.

* Poster and article from Fully Booked Online

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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Girls and boys

In college I took a social science course called "The Filipino Family." There was a reading that talked about how children of different genders related to one another. The gist of the reading was that it was easier for a girl to play with boys than for a boy to play with girls. Boys are generally more welcoming while girls are more suspicious. If a girl decides to be one of the boys, it’s perfectly okay for her to get her face dirty and scratch her knees. On the other hand, if a boy wanted to play house, girls would not immediately let him join in the domestic fun. They would have to warm to him. Apart from that, the boy would have to endure the relentless teasing of his peers. “Ew, he’s a boy!” the little girls would squeal. “Look at that pansy,” the other boys would scoff.

I remember seeing this episode of Oprah where even the girls were complaining how hard it was to make new friends with other girls. On the first day of class, for example, it takes less effort to strike up a conversation with male classmates than female classmates. In high school, the cliques were mostly the girls’ doing. In my own school, there were the friendly girls, the tall girls, the populars, the smart kids, the musicians, the artists, the dangerous crowd and, of course, the, er, socially inept. Girls are exclusive. There are more hurdles to overcome to join a female inner circle. There are dimensions like competition, insecurity, snobbery, meanness and over-all bitchiness.

I do find it easier to hang out with boys more than girls. This, I think, is because guys are less fussy. They’re less likely to give you a head-to-toe stare and snigger about your abominable fashion sense behind your back. They take things as they come and don’t talk each other to death. Boys are glib. They tell you frankly what they think, even if they come off looking like total bastards. They don’t raise their eyebrows at you when you have melted cheese dribbling down your chin or when you burp loudly after a swig of cold beer. I also appreciate their humor, which is refreshing: witty at the best of times and bawdy at the worst of times.

Some of my best friends are guys. I’m so used to their shocking ways I can forgive faults that would normally earn a guy a knee in the nuts. There are still things, though, in the hallowed Guy Code they are forbidden to utter to anyone but those who bear the Y chromosome. Despite all my acquired testosterone, I know my friends have still taken great pains to protect me from the full glare of guy-dom. That and the fact they still include me anyway are what I love them for.

Friday, September 21, 2007

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I'm supposed to be studying

Just when I thought the days between posts were getting fewer, I might have to disappear again. Hell week is rearing its ugly head and I'm running for the hills. Not to cower, but to meditate. I really should get my act together, but the the closer we get to the end of the sem, the more distracted I'm becoming. It's crunch time and I'd rather munch time.

I'd rather blog than study. I feel that tug every blogger gets when they need their daily blog fix. I have a Write! Write! Write! marquee scrolling around in my head. I go online supposedly to download things for class, but I end up blogging. I also forgot how fun it was to comment. It's like leaving muddy footprints around the blogosphere.

Anyway, speaking of commenting... The House of M (that's Marikina, not Magnus) has been swallowed up by the Marvel Universe, following our immersion into Avangers Disassembled and recently the House of M (that's Magnus, not Marikina). So: If you were a mutant, what powers would you have? Would you be an X-man or a member of the Brotherhood? Post it in the comment sheet and let's cha-cha.

Timing's a bitch. I'm getting my blog mojo back, but I need to go and be a shining example of academic achievement.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

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Bus entertainment

I spend a lot of time on Victory buses these days, and I have never wanted for good bus entertainment. The conductors I have ridden with so far have shown chutzpah for their taste and knowledge of the current pop culture. I smile as I write this. I think of Victory conductors with fondness.

It was around June that I was lamenting how oblivious I was to Filipino cinema. I was making a resolution to watch more local movies. How opportune it was that on my very first trip to Manila this semester, the conductor decided to grace his audience with Abandonada. The movie is a gripping drama of a woman Gemma (played to emotional perfection by the diamond star Maricel Soriano), who upon returning from working abroad, finds her husband Edwin (played viciously by Edu Manzano) has married another woman. The real kicker is that, in renouncing all connections to his past, he claims that the child he had with Gemma is actually just a nephew and that he was generous enough to adopt him as his own son. Talk about skeletons.

The movie is rife with flashbacks, where we piece together Gemma's domestic imprisonment and subsequent life in Canada. I won't give everything away, since after reading this, you might be feeling adventurous enough to see it. If you do, prepare yourself for high drama, action-packed car chases, edge-of-your-seat shoot-outs, touching jail scenes, and Angelu de Leon really working the furniture in her dramatic scenes. I was impressed. Truly. Everything you could ask for in one two-hour movie. Also, how can anyone say no to Maricel Soriano in a drama? I always thought she had weepy eyes. You know how they're so round and slightly red around the edges? I keep expecting her to burst out sobbing in her Alaska commercials.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

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These are a few of my (un)favorite things

Got this meme from Paolo. I pounced on it because I need to write something outside of my depression. (I'm travelling back to Manila tomorrow. *sob*) Also, when I was in elementary, I had a secret obsession for autograph books. This is like the anti-My Favorites page.

Food: Kiamoy. Or is that chiamoy? I don't like the sweet-and-sour thing. Makes me dizzy.

Fruits: I don't like pineapple on pizza.

Veggies: I only eat munggo when there's a buffer, i.e. inihaw na liempo or chicharon.

People: Stage hogs. These people enjoy the talking more than the listening in a conversation. They are extremely animated when they talk, impressed by their own cleverness. Then when it's their turn to listen, they shut down. Their eyes literally glaze over. However, they're still sharp enough to spot opportunities where they can impose themselves and steer the conversation back in their general direction. The more accomplished ones can even relate to the most absurd situations. Here you are thinking you have a winning story, and apparently it happened to them too. Amazingly enough. These hardcore stage hogs keep gabbing long after even your eyes have glazed over.

Event/Situation/Incident: I seem to reject crowds these days. I don't like going to the mall. I don't relish struggling against the press of a human flood. The noise and incessant chatter annoy me. A crowded place gives me the feeling that I need to rush, that I need to participate in the bustle. I don't like being hurried.

TV shows/Movies: The Cutting Edge 2 (movie). Even if you have a lot of time on your hands, don't waste it on this piece of garbage. I grew up loving The Cutting Edge (Moira Kelly was such a spoiled brat and DB Sweeney was so...barubal. They were absolutely perfect.) and this abyssmal attempt at a sequel is an affront. I'm not surprised it was a made-for-TV movie. I just had the misfortune of running into it while channel surfing. I watched for a few minutes and practically wore out the UP-channel button trying to get as far away as I could. I would rather watch Hard Target (You read right. A Van Damme flick. More on this later.) again than have to sit through The Cutting Edge 2.

Music: I can listen to anything, but I draw the line at commercial Filipino rap. Our mainstream rap artists can't seem to free themselves from their antiquated pattern of a tough guy rapping the verse and some angel voice singing the chorus. They also need to get over being rejected by the same girl again and again.

Household chores: Sweeping. The sight of a broom makes me (s)weep. (Oh my god, sorry. That was uncalled for.) I don't like the dry chores.

Thing/s around the world: Expensive books. I bet they have those anywhere in the world.

Thing/s about myself: I think I'm a little arrogant.

I tag Nicole, Maika, Lei, the wandering commuter Erik, and Aubrey.

Friday, September 14, 2007

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The natural course of things

It's really good to be home. The air is crisp and cold. This is the biting chill that I live for.

One thing, though. I miss my friends. They all seem to be travelling down paths I cannot follow. Some, I think, don't even want me to follow. There are others, like me, who are holding on for dear life, but the circumstances don't seem to be cooperating. Then there are the rest who have accepted the natural course of things.

The other day, I was reading a couple of my favorite blogs and it seemed to me that a lot of the bloggers were exploring some part of their youth. Elementary. High school. College. The stories are endless. Endlessly entertaining. Endlessly amusing. Endlessly comforting. Things were simpler then.

Does it sound like I might be frightened of a little change?

In elementary, I was a tomboy. In high school, I was a writer. In college, I was Bio girl. Now, I'm a patchwork
of temporary events
of forgettable days
of fleeting thoughts
of fake epiphanies
of shallow distractions.

Monday, September 3, 2007

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Please support my piddling blog

I know I should have good reasons for having been away for a little over a month. I could say I lost my fingers to gangrene having survived a horrible refrigerator-cleaning mishap. Just so I'll look cool, I could say that my absence has been due to a pursuit of Mentat-level knowledge. Or...I could say that my mind has weathered down due to misuse and depression (which wouldn't be a very good reason at all). These reasons won't suffice...because (here, we sense a transformation) they would just be excuses. This won't be long. I prefer it to be painless. These days, I tend to get emotional if too long into something. My constitution has weakened over the past month.

Classes are fine, sure, but I have a nagging suspicion that I'm not actually growing (if I may employ such a physical word). Everyone around me seems to have left me in the dust. I look around and everyone is so purposeful. It's not like I'm not trying to do something useful. But I just can't get myself un-stuck. Call me crazy, but I suspect something magical is at play: I think we have a Procrastinator somewhere in the house.

In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, there is an order called the Monks of History. Basically, they're in the time business. They have a temple at Clay Lane in the city Ankh-Morpork. Inside are huge Procrastinators described by the monk Sweeper as "the ones that look like your granny's mangle." They take back time at the same rate it moves forward. Time, then, (kind of) stops in that general area. There can be no other explanation for my present inert state. I'm not usually this stationary.

Now, since I haven't seen anything around the house resembling anything my granny might use to press-dry her laundry, I conclude that my Procrastinator must be disguised. It could be the old Sony DVD player that won't play anything. Or the working DVD player, for that matter. It whirs too loudly for its own good. Or it could be one of the TVs. They look like they've been around for a while. Or that ancient maroon bean bag we just can't get rid off. On a side note, we think (and hope sincerely we are wrong) that a mouse has managed to infiltrate said bean bag and made it its home. Must find that Procrastinator. The cycle must be broken! O_o

I saw Casino Royale the other night and have developed an insane girl crush on Eva Green. I might say the same for Daniel Craig but I'm not sure where my girly tendencies might take me if I admit to such things. So I'll play it safe and go for Eva Green, and we can all assume I want to be her...and have that cute twitchy thing she does with her mouth when she talks. I wonder if it's because she was working an English accent in the movie. I didn't notice it in the Dreamers. She looked beautiful underwater, her hair swirling about her in a most merperson kind of way. Ethereal, Nicole said. Her appearance in the Golden Compass should be fulfilling. Her hair swirled around her a lot in the trailer too. Yey. I should also mention that we think Vorenus on Rome looks just like Daniel Craig. I think it's the pouty lips. And also, says Nicole, it should be noted that Brutus was M's personal assistant.

I have been so out of the blogging loop that when I clicked on The Philosophical Bastard, I had to register. It was very professional. There were also a lot of feeds about Malu Fernandez. In my best Dean Winchester voice "That Malu chick...whatta bitch!" The thing about communication, is that even when you say you're sorry and resign, things already said or written have already been heard or read. As usual, Poli delivered with his Havaianas-Spartan peys op. Because only Pinoys give birth to real slippers. Haha. It was also interesting to find out that a fat ginger cat moonlights for Fruity. Lei and Maika had better start writing again. I thought we were supposed to conquer the blogosphere?

Poetry, poetry. My words come out in verses and well-timed syllables. Haah. Right. Link love for poets. Check out laizo, casidhe, and frankie on deviantart.

Must go and study now. Be back soon. I hope.

P.S. If you want to see something pretty, go to a National Bookstore, head to the science fiction shelves and survey the complete set of Frank Herbert's Dune. Yeah, I said survey, because that's what I did in my impoverished state. But if you can buy them, what the hell, do it! This restocking is a heartening development. The release of Hunters of Dune has rekindled the passion for the earlier books. Let's all put on a stillsuit and go home to Dune.
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