Thursday, December 30, 2010

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He was the best of us all

"Rizal could have lived beyond December 30, 1896, if he had stayed out of the Philippines and its politics. If he remained in Hong Kong, then he would just be another forgotten expatriate Filipino doctor. Rizal, however, was different. You could say he had a death wish and this, for me, makes a "conscious hero" doubly brave, because unlike military heroes whose job description contains "death in battle," Rizal was a quiet, peaceful man who willfully and calmly walked to his death for his convictions. Before his execution, his pulse rate was reputedly normal. How many people do you know who would die for their convictions if they could avoid it?"

From the essay "Why Rizal is the National Hero" (1989) by Ambeth R. Ocampo (included in the compilation Rizal Without the Overcoat, 2008 ed.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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Heinous fuckery most foul

“This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as non-traditional grammar, split infinitives and the odd wank. If that sort of thing offends you, then gentle reader pass by, for we endeavor only to entertain, not to offend. That said, if that’s the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!” 

On The Exchange, I write a review of Fool by Christopher Moore.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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Free book contest!

Over at The Exchange, we're having our first book giveaway contest. The winner gets this:

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg is a pleasant, comforting read. The milk and cookies are pretty awesome too, except the courier company may have issues transporting dairy. Nonetheless, the book would be an excellent companion during the holidays. Check out the contest details, and send us a message! Deadline for entries is midnight on Christmas Day. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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These are strange days

Thursday, December 2, 2010

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"Oh my Eugenia!"

Two weeks ago, Leonard Co and two members of his team were killed while on field in the forests of Leyte. He was a brilliant botanist and hard core field scientist. Few were as passionate or as genuine. He was very generous, always ready to share from his vast store of knowledge. His death is a crippling loss to science.

An excellent article on Leonard Co by Michael Tan in the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

"The stories were about Leonard the person, much loved and respected. He was famous for his generosity with friends and students; yet he was also known for his simplicity, in particular his trademark Chinese cloth shoes. There was Leonard the entertainer, full of humor and wit and which didn’t exclude poking fun at himself, for example, his “membership” in the Ho Chi Minh Society, together with feigned lamentations about possibly ending up a perpetual bachelor like his idol. Eventually he did marry, and had a daughter, named after the Swedish scientist Linnaeus."

Read the full article here.


Woman! Whoooa Man!

I woke up on Tuesday extremely achy and wanting nothing to do with the outside world. The next day, I went to the school clinic and the doctor told me I had a viral infection in my intestines and/or the rest of my body. She wasn't quite clear where the infection was except that I should rehydrate and watch out for cough and colds. I am home today when I should be in school. I am still woozy, but I think the virus is fleeing for fear of my Gatorade/water/paracetamol regimen. I'm much better, because I've regained control of my mental faculties. Look, I'm writing!

Despite being in the miserable clutches of Virus Last Name Unknown, I had to go out and brave the elements. On Tuesday, while still in denial, I had class and talked about plasma membranes (unaware that my own membranes were under seige...okaaay). Yesterday, I bought my brother a white polo and a tie for his graduation photo. Next year, he will be in high school and will also probably be taller than me.

Adventures at home

HBO was a great friend to me this past couple of days. I saw So I Married an Axe Murderer again. Mike Myers was genius in this movie. It also takes me back to this one afternoon when I was younger (possibly in grade school). I was home alone, and the movie was also playing also on HBO. Nothing really interesting was happening, except that I was alone and entertained. Before my brother was born, I spent a lot of afternoons alone. I always remember them being quiet and sunny, like it is now.

On HBO, I also saw 8 Mile again. Isn't Eminem adorable in this movie? Although "adorable" is hardly a word to describe Eminem. When the movie was over, I started downloading Eminem songs.

I saw the newest Glee episode. For sectionals, they had Santana do a cover of "Valerie." Then a shocking, but very welcome, surprise: Tina and Mercedes sing "Dog Days are Over" (I still haven't quite gotten over this). And something less shocking (but pleasant nonetheless): "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" by Kurt and Rachel. Those two do have their moments. Congratulations, I have returned to Gleek-dom.

Not much in books since printed words seem to overwhelm my virus-addled brain. I have picked up the History of Love by Nicole Krauss, though, and am quietly making my way through it. I got distracted from Everything is Illuminated and ended up reading My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger. Bless its pure, sweet soul. It tried very hard to pry open my cold, black heart.

I've just about run out of writing mojo. And to stay true to my consistent shameless plugging of The Exchange: please mosey on over there to read my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We wrap up Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling month today, and move on to the next featured author who shall later be named.

Intestine-friendly lunch now. Later.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

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The Labyrinth

The Sunday blues are such a drag. Also, I have forgotten how to construct entertaining sentences. This may be a symptom of said ennui. Bear with me as I let my mediocre sentences out into the world so that I might feel productive, and therefore, less belligerent.

Just a couple of things:

I am currently poring over Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated, a book I have been lusting after since reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Last night, I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) with Lem. I asked very nicely so he would agree to watch with me. Lem is a purist and believes only in the books. He remarked that Daniel Radcliffe was short, and admitted that Rupert Grint provided excellent comic relief. I was already a blubbering mess about two minutes in. It took great effort to pull myself together and actually pay attention. Lem's left sleeve was quite helpful in soaking up tears and snot. I have been feeling very sentimental towards Harry Potter lately. It must be because I've been re-reading the earlier years for a project on The Exchange, and the nostalgia is a doozie.

I am trying very hard to keep drinking cups of positivi-tea. But man, is it tough.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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Tonight I revel in the cold

School was pleasant today. Freshman Zoology with 21 generally  well-behaved students can have extensive calming effects. Also, I graded a bunch of papers and stuck it to Procrastination. We'll see how long such resistance will last.

Something inside me has unwound. I'm less angry at the Universe. Also, I seem to be enjoying my own company again. Perhaps it has something to do with the arrival of the cold. The rain is a little strange, but I take what I can. This is home.

Today's happy thoughts are brought to us by Nicole. She was in Bangkok a few weeks ago, and thoughtfully sent me a postcard. It magically appeared on my desk this afternoon. It had a photo of a little girl with a painted face, squinting up into the camera. I love getting things in the mail.

Friday, November 5, 2010

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The usual suspects

I spent most of September and October with a red pen in my left hand and a tired scowl on my face. Things have cleared up considerably, though, so here I am.

In books, I am currently working on Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. I finally found a copy last week while on a trip for a workshop on frogs and expensive lab equipment with which to play with their anatomy. I can't get Michael Douglas' voice out of my head. He is my narrator. I also keep imagining Robert Downey Jr. as Terry Crabtree. Normally, this would be a bad thing, but who wouldn't enjoy Robert Downey Jr.'s face frequently popping into their head?

Also in books, it is currently J.K. Rowling Month on The Exchange. This gives us ample opportunity to obsess about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1).

New episodes are out. Supernatural has been giving me a headache, but I hold on for Dean's beautiful eyes. On the other hand, this season's Weekend at Bobby's (episode 4) was a gem. Also, was recently immersed in White Collar. Neal Caffery totally owns: his classic suits and devilish charm have disarmed me. I was desolate when I ran out of episodes.

I've been a little somber the past few weeks. My mind likes to make cocktails of random dark feelings. So as not to completely transform into a black hole, I have compiled a list of things that make me happy:
  • Lem and his campaign for POSITIVITY(!)
  • Good friends and the cake they bear
  • New books/ new old books
  • A laptop that can type the letters G and H, and also the number 3 (The keyboard on my two-year old Compaq is succumbing to overuse. Obviously I can't manage without an H. The word "the" alone would have to vanish from my vocabulary, and I happen to enjoy this particular article. Currently using Pa's laptop, which he has agreed to part with for a reasonable price.)
  • A clutter-free desk (I cleaned out my desk at school the other day. I spent hours feeding a paper shredder the spoils of last semester. It was vastly satisfying. Also, this paper will be recycled. So hurrah for the Earth!)
  • Slow mornings with the family
  • Dog
  • The Baguio cold
More happy things soon. Later.

Monday, September 6, 2010

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Tomorrow will be a better day

This weekend, my class and I went on a field trip to Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte where they surveyed a river in the rain. We traveled all of Friday night, and hiked to the site right after breakfast on Saturday. Everyone was tired, but we managed to get some work done. On the Sunday trip home, the students asked the conductor to put on a horror movie. We spent most of the ride up Naguilian Road hungry, tired, and scared entertained.

Today, I tried to sleep off a cough that has been squatting in my throat. It has been making the task of easing into my regular orbit nearly impossible.

On The Exchange, Hanna writes a luminous review for An Abundance of Katherines by John Green:

"It is a charming novel that is genuinely funny and incredibly intelligent. The characters are real, flawed, endearing, and wonderfully three-dimensional. Colin Singleton, the protagonist, does get a bit whiny and annoying. But then there’s Hassan, Colin’s best friend, who always manages to save the day either by cracking a joke or faking an asthma attack." 

I get to borrow it from her soon, and I'm very excited.

The fatigue of the trip and my cold have been threatening to pull me into my hole. But the promise of good books, a couple of Frasier episodes, and kind words kept me steady today.

Paracetamol and blankets await. Later.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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September in the chair

Happy Baguio Day!

To celebrate, I give you one of my favorite pieces of trivia about the city:

Bobby Fischer, perhaps the greatest chess player of all time, lived in Baguio from 2000 to 2002. The man was a legend. Possessed with genius far beyond his time, he became the youngest grandmaster at the tender age of 15. In 1972, he beat the Russian grandmaster Boris Spassky and became World Champion. He was to defend his title against Anatoly Karpov in 1975, but refused to play when his proposed conditions for the match were not approved. He retreated from the public eye soon after. He became a recluse and did not play competitively for almost 20 years. In 1992, he re-surfaced for a re-match with Boris Spassky, which he won. In a 2004 Bombo Radyo interview, he referred to Spassky as his " very good frenemy."

He lived a quiet life in Baguio, spending time with his then-partner Marilyn Young and the Filipino grandmaster Eugene Torre. I read in an article that he enjoyed balut and sinigang, and played tennis at Country Club. He appreciated the simple things, content to take relaxing walks in the cool climate and be surrounded by people he loved and trusted. He, like many of us who love Baguio, knew what this city is about.

Monday, August 30, 2010

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Books and doing nothing on a Monday

A free Monday at last. I woke up wantonly late this morning, and intend to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.

The third book of The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, is finally out. I finished reading it yesterday morning, and spent most of Sunday recovering. I wrote a review for it on The Exchange, a writing/reading project Hanna and I have just recently begun. It is a work in progress, but it would be great if you could drop by and give us a little love.

I got myself a couple of great books last night. The Yangco girls just opened Mt. Cloud Bookshop in Casa Vallejo and it is looking brilliant. There were a bunch of great titles, and I bought Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui for only P50. After dinner, Lem and I dropped by SM Booksale where I found Fool by Christopher Moore. I'd been looking around for a while, and was just about to tell Lem how frustrating it was not to find anything when there were so many new books. Then I looked up and spotted Fool on one of the higher shelves. I couldn't reach so I asked the man next to me to please hand it down to me. He kindly obliged, and I had to keep myself from scaring him with peals of excitement. I've only ever bought Christopher Moore's books full price, so I was ecstatic finding one for only P165.

Pa and Jake will be home soon with the groceries, and I should get started with lunch. Later.

The Beautiful Miscellaneous

Hanna writes a review of Dominic Smith's The Beautiful Miscellaneous:

"For the record, let me just say that I get uncharacteristically attached with the characters in the book that I read and I have a hard time dealing when the time comes for me to let go of them.

This sentiment is especially true after reading
The Beautiful Miscellaneous by Dominic Smith. The book is essentially about a seemingly ordinary boy who has been living under the shadow of his father’s genius..."

Continue reading the review on The Exchange.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

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Kubi reads

The children's section at Shakespeare Asynove, an English bookstore in Prague.

In the 1995 Sabrina with Julia Ormond, Sabrina tells her father the best reason she loves him is that he took a job as a chauffeur so he could have more time to read. I think I might look nice in a chauffeur's hat.

Here is a list of books I have read this year, so far:

  1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  2. There once lived a woman who tried to kill her neighbor’s baby by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
  3. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
  4. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  5. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  6. The Complete Short Fiction of Oscar Wilde
  7. Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum
  8. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  9. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  10. Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  11. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
  12. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  13. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  14. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Titan by Rick Riordan
  15. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
  16. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  17. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
  18. A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain
  19. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  20. Aftershock by Kelly Easton
  21. Life History of a Star by Kelly Easton
  22. South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
  23. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  24. Shopgirl by Steve Martin
  25. French Milk by Lucy Knisley
  26. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  27. Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour by Brian Lee O’Malley
  28. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  29. Exchange by Paul Magrs
  30. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  31. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  32. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
  33. Eloise in Moscow by Kay Thompson
  34. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  35. Fluke by Christopher Moore
  36. Paper Towns by John Green
  37. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  38. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
  39. Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  40. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  41. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  42. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  43. My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
  44. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  45. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  46. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  47. Fool by Christopher Moore
  48. Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart
  49. Breakfast at Tiffany's (and Three Stories) by Truman Capote
  50. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Friday, August 27, 2010

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This is after

I cannot imagine what the people on the bus were feeling. I wonder if they were wishing to see loved ones who were far away.

The events of August 23 are so nebulous, I have not fully grasped them. I do know some of our own fucked up in a most spectacular fashion. Rolando Mendoza took fifteen people hostage, got most of them killed and later lost his own life. The PNP was unprepared; the media was intrusive; and the president almost missed the party. The Chinese in Hong Kong are lashing out. Pain does that to people.

The Filipinos are experiencing varying levels of embarrassment. The bungling idiocy of the PNP and the insensitivity of the local media can make anyone cringe. But it is necessary to separate feelings about a series of unfortunate events from feelings about who we are as a people. If we are to redeem ourselves, we must remember that we are worthy to do so. It is not: "I am not embarrassed to be Filipino." It is: "I am proud to be Filipino."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

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Let's turn off the TV...'s killing us, we never speak.

The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit is one of my favorite albums ever. I get the feeling that these guys are kind of self-deprecating. And well, I'm a little self-deprecating myself. It's how I roll.

Anyway, songs on the album have been the backdrop to my two-day grading marathon. At school, everyone is just finishing up with their second long exams. I have arrived at my last batch of unchecked blue books. An end is nigh.

It's only 7PM and it feels like I've been awake for two days. Later.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

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Smoke and mirrors

An excellent link from my friend Jing: the dying art of pencil-drawn animation celebrates the dying art of stage magic.

Here is the trailer for The Illusionist:

Friday, August 20, 2010

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What's in the bag?

The last bike ride.

I feel the words looming in my head, but they refuse to be bothered with expression. These sentences will probably come out in random bursts. Anyway, here we go:

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Enschede and how peaceful it is there. I think about biking along tree-lined streets in the late afternoon. At top speed, I would sing at the top of my lungs, trusting the wind would drown out my dubious pitch. I miss getting lost, and not being worried about it. Also, I miss my mother. It must be because my life is all over the place these days, so my mind likes to drift off to quieter times.

I went bowling earlier tonight, and wasn't very good. On better days, I like to think I can produce a decent score. I was off my game tonight though (This is if we can call the way I bowl game.). An assessment of my poor performance on the ride home: I may have been (a) half-assing my way through it; (b) over-thinking it; or (c) half-assing my way through it because I was over-thinking. I have been living out my days in a distracted daze. But apparently, I can still rhyme.

I often promise myself to study for my classes a week in advance, but I almost always end up cramming. My already crowded brain can't take much more of this abuse. I also need to check a bunch of reports and problem sets, which I have been cleverly hiding under my desk. My work table looks innocent, but it is actually a menacing secret fortress of ungraded papers.

The upside to all this working is that I have a little extra money. In recent days, this has become necessary because self-therapy often involves spending inordinate amounts of money on either books or junk food. There is a book pile next to my bed that is so tall, I can't see the rest of my room when I'm lying down. The problem is, I never have the time to read. This is such a terrible thing to say. It is one of the most excruciating consequences of work.

Some of the books in the pile are Hanna's. She lent me Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, among other yummy titles. I started reading it last night, and have been enjoying it so far. The tricky part is actually finishing it. At this point, I sigh ruefully.

In TV, Lem has given me old seasons of The West Wing. After a round of episodes, I am normally an emotional wreck. But I am wrecked in a good way.

It is raining tonight, and my bed beckons. Later.

Friday, July 2, 2010

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Good Morning Baguio, with Kubi

A quick note before I attend a seminar about how not to eff up so much in class :)

Rako's wound is healing nicely. Yesterday, it looked like he had an extra lip. This morning when I gave him his breakfast, all I could see was a flaming red line on his cheek. This is relatively satisfactory, because the sight of his teeth through the wound was a little unsettling.

Roger lost to Tommy Berdych on Wednesday. I was so sure of the outcome that I went to bed early. I woke up at 2AM and found two messages from Lem: one at 10:15PM asking if I was still awake and another at 10:50PM containing overtones of sympathy. I knew immediately The Fed's match had gone awry. All of yesterday, I was so convinced that it was my fault he lost. If I had watched the entire match, if I had just stayed up long enough to channel him good mojo, it may have turned out differently. Then I went to Jessica Zafra's blog, and she also blames herself. Haha. I think, perhaps, every Federer fan feels somewhat responsible for the loss.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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Happy Inauguration Day

Semi-quiet day at home. In the morning I did a bunch of chores, which made me feel productive enough to lie around for two hours around lunch time. I watched a little bit of the newly sworn in president make the customary inauguration speech. I was unmoved. Rako's bravado got him into a bizarre tug-of-war with Ludwig. In this case, the would-be rope was Rako's face. A short, deep wound now runs down his upper lip. To avoid panic among certain readers, I will try not to mention that I think I could see the inside of his mouth through the wound. Lem assures me that dogs are resilient, but I continue to worry. Rako is napping under the study table, mending.

This afternoon, I read a little bit and thought about the rest of the week. Today feels a little bit like a Sunday, which would make tomorrow a Monday. That is a depressing thought. I'm trying not to get carried away by the sudden slump. Popped in an old DVD of the first (and only) season of Kitchen Confidential. Bradley Cooper is amusing when he is neurotic. It's a shame the series ended too soon, but I suppose the exploits of the real thing are entertainment enough. My friend Hanna lent me her copy of A Cook's Tour. I've taken a hungry bite out of the first few chapters, where Bourdain recounts the slaying of a fattened pig in Portugal. He writes:

I learned, for the first time, that I could indeed look my food in the eyes before eating it - and I came away from the experience, I hope, with considerably more respect for what we call "the ingredient." I am more confirmed than ever in my love for pork, pork fat, and cured pork. And I am less likely to waste it. That's something I owe the pig for. I know now what a pork chop costs in terms of the living, breathing thing that was killed to supply it.

At eight o'clock tonight, I plan to watch Roger Federer play Tommy Berdych in the Men's Quarterfinals. Kim Clijsters took out Justine Henin and later fell to the younger Vera Zvonareva. What does it take for a come-back around here? In other Wimbledon news: John McEnroe wonders when they will get to use the new roof on Centre Court and Alan Wilkins makes an appreciative comment about pineapples from the Philippines (Vijay Amritraj informs us that the pineapple on the Wimbledon trophy is some kind of symbol for wealth.)

I've just about used up my break. Cell organelles and osmosis await me. Later.

Monday, June 7, 2010

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It isn't tomorrow yet.

For my return to blogging, I give you...


It is warm tonight, so I am imagining pear-flavored gelato sliding around on my tongue.

I haven't written in a while, and I am as puzzled as you are as to why I'm starting again now. The new school year begins tomorrow, and I have been hired to wreak havoc on impressionable young minds. I should be up to my neck in Zoology books, but here I am blogging. I think this could be the last dregs of my denial.

My quiet life as a patron of the arts (This sounds nicer than penniless bum.) is at an end. I mourn my slow mornings, my stack of unread books and unwatched movies. I mourn my walks with Dog, and the constant battle to entertain myself. I mourn impulsive downloads and random link-clicking and afternoon TV. I mourn curling up on the green couch and relaxing mugs of tea. I mourn free time and series marathons and unplanned naps. I mourn pajamas during the day and successful, experimental lunch recipes. I mourn peace.


P.S. Roger Federer lost to Robin Soderling in the Quarterfinals of the French Open. I was not as devastated as I should have been. Lem observes that Roger now reacts to losses in a calm, paternal manner. Rafael Nadal inevitably won the final and now believes he can bounce back from his relatively mediocre year. I didn't know The Bicep harbored such confidence issues. Cheers to the new Number One.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

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Glorious bites

Pa, Jake, and I are finally in The Netherlands with Ma. We're staying in today and munching on watermelon.

My poor sleeping habits seem to have vanished over the changing latitudes. I've been sleeping a lot, my body trying to get over the jet lag. I read somewhere that afternoon naps can help, but I've been a slave to my eyelids. I fell asleep at eight this morning.

We went for a walk yesterday, and ended up at the open market. It's spring here and the flowers are blooming. People are happy to see color after a season of white landscapes. I took photos of dogs and chocolate and cheese.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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The Fed, Captain America, etc.

Just a few things before I polish off the last of my chores.

On Yahoo! Movietalk, Chris Evans to play "Captain America." I am pleased at the inherent hotness, but dubious about his maturity. Don't get me wrong; I say this with affection. Evans does young insolence well, but I wonder if he can handle the more straight-arrow Steve Rogers.

In the Miami Herald, a wonderful piece on Roger as a father, a champion, and other yummy bites. Thank you, GoToTennis Blog for the brilliant link. Read, as The Fed gushes about his twins. He is a sweet, sweet man.
"But then, we realized having two at the same time would mean they could be best friends forever, and we got excited about it. Now that Myla and Charlene are in our lives, I wouldn't want it any other way..."

"...Having children has had a major impact on me, all good," he said. "Mirka went through the pregnancy so well, and that inspired me. I felt bad that I was just sitting on the sidelines, not able to help much. Once the babies came, I wanted to be part of it. Mirka still does more diaper-changing and waking up, but in the daytime, I hold the babies a lot and spend a lot of time with them."

I haven't been sleeping very well. I float about in the in-between for a while until some distraction snaps me back to consciousness.

Today, a jeepney driver accidentally gave me an old 25-centavo coin. The one with the butterfly on it. Why did we stop using the two-peso coin with ten sides? That was awesome change.

I'm parched. Off to hydrate. Later.

Monday, March 22, 2010

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If life was a story, the world should be a bookstore.

You can use books to make a stack all the way to the moon.

I could lose myself in all your words.

I would go to the ends of the Earth, to read you.

More photos of The World's Most Interesting Bookstores here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

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I like paws

Zen in your tea cup

More tea this morning. I'm enjoying a cup before I head out for a bunch of errands. Thinking of making tea and actually making it are just as relaxing as drinking it. I zone out and let my hands take me through the motions. I simmer some water and milk in a saucepan, then pour in my tea leaves. I watch the liquid turn creamy brown and I am at peace. There is quiet satisfaction in the gentle bubbling of hot tea.

Today, the sky is so blue, it's ridiculous.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

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From the green couch

Rako regarding me with sleepy disinterest. This is how I would nap if I was a dog.

I'm having tea now and contemplating an unfinished paper. It needs to be written so that my academic life can get back on track. Advisers have turned a watchful eye on me. This is from Under the Tuscan Sun, which has regained its place in the sunny regions of my heart:

Patti: Actually, if you knew Frances better, you'd know that these brownies are a sign of avoidance.
Frances: Thanks.
Male friend: How's the novel going?
Frances: Not so well. But the procrastination, of course, is coming along fabulously. And soon it will breed abject self-loathing...and then, I'll just become a writing machine.
Patti: It's her process.

Shepherd's pie is my brownies. I'm just rounding the curb to abject self-loathing, so I expect that soon, I will be a writing machine.

Been watching old episodes of My Boys. A fourth season is reported to come out this year. Woohoo!

Last week, Jake came down with a fever. On one of the nights he was sick, I couldn't sleep. It was 2AM and the silence was getting oppressive. I was beginning to feel restless. Then, next to me, Jake rasps: "Braaaaiiins..." I look over and he's asleep. After a few seconds, in the same gravelly voice: "Moorssse cooode..." In the dark, my first thought was: My brother is turning into a zombie-spy! (He has since recovered from the potential zombie transformation, which was actually just a garden-variety throat infection.) Antibiotics remind me of Good Omens. In the book, the Apocalypse horseman Pestilence went out of business because of the discovery of penicillin.

A few Sundays ago, Lem and I went out and the moon was orange.

When I think of finally seeing Ma, I feel like I'm about to become myself again.

It's warm in Baguio, and most tourists have gone with the end of Panagbenga. The city is ours again.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

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In the half-light

The English expression “to fall asleep” is apt because the transition between waking and sleeping is a gradual drop from one state of being into another, a giving up of full self-consciousness for unconsciousness or for the altered consciousness of dreams. Except in cases of exhaustion or with the aid of drugs, the movement from one world to another is not instantaneous; it takes a little time. Full waking self-consciousness begins to loosen and unravel.

During this interval, I have often had the illusion that I am walking. I feel my foot slip off a curb and fall, but before I hit the pavement, I feel a jerk and am fully awake again. I also watch brilliant mutating spectacles on my closed eyelids, so-called hypnogogic hallucinations, that usher me into sleep. Sometimes I hear voices speak a single word or a short emphatic sentence.

Siri Hustvedt writes on sleep and insomnia in the New York Times. The piece is for a series called All-Nighters, an exploration of the "ways we approach sleeplessness — as a nuisance, a disease, a curse, an opportunity or even a gift."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

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Mrs Roger Federer

Mirka took to her new sport quickly. She was a net charger like Martina, a serve and volleyer, and became Swiss junior champion at 15. She never won a WTA title, spending most of her career fighting through qualifying. But she was a comer on the minor-league ITF circuit for a while, winning three tournaments and at one point posting a 12-match winning streak. Her best result at a major was the third round of the 2001 U.S. Open, where she lost to Justine Henin. A long-running series of foot injuries ended her career not long after that.

By then, she and Federer were fully committed. (And she was still a good enough player to serve as Roger’s hitting partner.) It seems it was Federer who was the aggressor back at the beginning of the relationship. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Mirka lost in the first round to Elena Dementieva but didn’t escape the notice of her fellow Swiss team member.

"I couldn't work out why he wanted to talk to me so much," she said, according to a 2009 article in the Belfast Telegraph. "Then, near the end of the Games, he kissed me."

Douglas Perry writes about Mirka Vavrinec on The Oregonian.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

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Bad artists copy

Animax has re-scheduled its prime time line-up. Jake and I are severely disappointed. No Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or Bleach tonight (We-ell, the second part is not so true. We ended up watching Bleach on DVD).

I was trying to get to the bottom of the re-scheduling, so I went to the Animax Asia website. The new schedule is still a mystery to me, but I stumbled on a Jasmine tweet with a link to an article on Bleachness about an American artist Nick Simmons allegedly plagiarizing Tite Kubo's Bleach. The folks at the LiveJournal group have compiled very convincing evidence. Panels from Simmons' comic Incarnate were compared to drawings from the Bleach manga. The similarities are indeed striking (More images on the original Bleachness post):

The tweet also included a link to an article on Comics Worth Reading about Nick Simmons not quite addressing the allegations. This is what he has to say:
“Like most artists I am inspired by work I admire. There are certain similarities between some of my work and the work of others. This was simply meant as an homage to artists I respect, and I definitely want to apologize to any Manga fans or fellow Manga artists who feel I went too far. My inspirations reflect the fact that certain fundamental imagery is common to all Manga. This is the nature of the medium.

“I am a big fan of Bleach, as well as other Manga titles. And I am certainly sorry if anyone was offended or upset by what they perceive to be the similarity between my work and the work of artists that I admire and who inspire me.”
It's incredible how he seems to think he hasn't done anything wrong. My Communications professor would flay him alive. He evades the issue of his copying, and calls it an "homage." The bloody cheek! In another article on Comic Attack, I read that fans have also accused Simmons of taking from other manga like Hellsing and One-Piece, and from an artist on deviantArt.

Radical, the publishers of Incarnate, have suspended publication and distribution of the comic while "making contact the publishers of the works in question in an effort to resolve this matter." Meanwhile, through Twitter, Tite Kubo remarks:
"Last night until this morning, I got a ton of "an American comic is copying Bleach!" messages from overseas fans! Looking at the site I don't speak English, but I saw something like "Gene Simmons' son Nick Simmons who draws manga-style comics."

Honestly, more than whether they re[se]mble each other or not, I wonder that Gene Simmons' son is a mangaka..."
Kubo's comments seem to exude a very Zen attitude to the whole thing. Hail, Sensei.

Legally, though, I would like to see Simmons face the allegations head-on. If found guilty, he should be made to answer for his transgressions. Plagiarism is no small crime. It is an act of disrespect to all artists who actually work hard so that their creations are original. It undermines creative integrity. Plagiarism is just being plain lazy. And it's painfully embarrassing when you're caught.

Installation art is the new pine tree (a correction)

Whoops! A correction. (Sorry everyone, I should have looked before I leaped.) This new installment is in commemoration of the Philippine Commission's first session, which was held in the city on 22 April to 11 June 1904. A large piece of art now occupies what was once the site of the notorious concrete pine tree. The eight structures represent the eight members of the second Philippine Commission whose first session was convened in Baguio City: Governor-General Luke E. Wright, Henry C. Ide, Dean C. Worcester, T. H. Pardo de Tavera, Benito Legarda, Jose R. de Luzuriaga, James F. Smith, and W. Cameron Forbes. It was also during this meeting that Baguio City was declared for use as the Summer Capital. You can actually read about the Philippine Commission on the marker at the entrance of Baden Powell Inn in Governor Pack Road :)

But there's more! This, from SunStar Baguio:
The monument is made of locally quarried stones of different forms representing the people of different races which contributed to the building of today’s Baguio.

The uneven shape and figures of the boulders together with the carved spheres represent Baguio’s construction and reconstruction – its growth from a pastureland to a city, its rise from the devastation of war and it’s rebirth after the killer quake, its continuous growth and development as a unique and sustainable city.

The spheres represent the visions and dreams, the continuous efforts of its citizens to keep Baguio a safe and beautiful place to be.
The complete article here.

It's better than a concrete pine tree, I'll give you that.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

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Farewell, concrete pine tree. And good riddance.

Since its construction in 1994, the infamous concrete pine tree of Session Road was the object of our ridicule, disdain, and even, anger. Possibly even more infuriating than the tree was its accompanying sign: "Plant Me and Protect Me." Then mayor Bernardo Vergara claimed that the tree was to encourage the protection of the City's remaining pine trees. Many were skeptical about the old mayor's intentions because, perhaps, of the prominent "V" embossed on the statue's base. Was it truly an act of environmental advocacy, or a bare attempt at political promotion?

Residents clamored for its removal, using every avenue of communication to get through to the City's administration. Letters were sent to City Hall, some even coming from Baguio people already living in other countries. Numerous petitions were filed, circulating through cyberspace via e-mail and signature sites. A friend once sent me a text message about a plot to cover the whole thing in sayote. Among many movements, this was one of the most brilliant.

After years, the people have finally been heard. The concrete pine tree, our bane, has finally been taken down.

When Pa, Jake, and I rode by on a jeep yesterday evening, the area was still covered with plastic sheets. Through a gap, I could see workers toiling away, pushing around large, flat rocks. They would occasionally consult with a group of people issuing directions from the side. I sat near the front of the jeep and could hear the driver and his friends talking about it as we passed. One friend enthusiastically pointed at the work in progress, declaring that a "scrapture" was going to be built there. Sculpture or structure, I am just as excited as this guy. I feel as if a weight has been lifted off the city's proverbial shoulders. We will finally be rid of that concrete abomination.

The current mayor has taken pains to keep the replacement a secret. Apparently, he wants it to be a surprise for the Panagbenga celebration. A real nightmare would be if they put up something even more stupid than a fake tree. Knowing this administration and its less than luminous track record, it is not such a distant possibility.

I don't know if the installment has been unveiled, because I haven't been to town yet today. The streets are packed with people to watch the Panagbenga street dancing parade (The Grand Parade will be tomorrow). Traffic is impossible and going out is a dim likelihood. Nevertheless, until I see the top of Session Road, I rest easy that the concrete pine tree is now a thing of the past.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

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Kubi refuses to be conquered by dental device

My dentist gave my braces a good tightening yesterday. So now, my teeth hurt and the pain radiates to the other regions of my cranium. For some strange reason (we can secretly call it over-compensation), I have been compulsively eating all day. I will not be conquered by the persistent agony in my mouth! I! Will! Eat!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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Watch out for...

The full-length trailer for Pixar's Toy Story 3 is out. If I were you, I'd watch out for a familiar forest giant...Pixar is bringing on the Ghibli love! Plus, Ken and Barbie are still at it.

On a lighter note

Current events are wearing me out.

This morning, I watched Hayao Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service for the first time. It made me so happy. A 13-year old witch-in-training leaves her home to offer magical services in a town by the sea. It has all the charms of a Miyazaki film and provides sensibilities that only a young witch can impart. While in the seaside town, she loses her mojo but regains it by convalescing in a cabin in the woods. The feeling is not unknown to Baguio babies who seek their fortune in far-away cities, but come home to the mountains to recharge.

I'm reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. The book, first in the Percy Jackson series, is now a film. Lem and I saw it and thought it was okay. Although it's unfair to make comparisons, what I've read so far is much more satisfying. Events are more meaningful and characters are better turned out. I've read favorable reviews for The Lightning Thief and the rest of the series on numerous book blogs; they have yet to be proven otherwise. No disrespect to Edith Hamilton, but I wish this book existed when I was a kid.

Update, 25 February: The Lightning Thief movie had some pretty, major memory gaps. In the book, Percy and his friends have a fearsome opponent who is all but absent in the film. I suppose chunks of the novel were taken out so the storyline would be palatable to a mainstream audience. On the other hand, I'm baffled by the decisions the screenwriters made in editing. I would think the villain was integral to the story...For the Greek mythology nerd, the book is loads of fun. In the film, they fail to mention the name of Percy's sword (and every good sword must have a name). In Ancient Greek, it is called Anaklusmos, which translates in English to Riptide.

Taking things to heart

An update: Esperanza Cabral says, I am DOH Secretary! Hear me roar! DOH will continue to implement its condom-distribution program despite harsh criticism from the Catholic church. Cabral has emphasized the need for decisive action in stemming an HIV epidemic in the country.

These days, when people want to say they really really like something, they "heart" it (i.e. "I ♥ my new shoes!" or "I ♥ your earrings!" or even, "I ♥ you" :D). There are several theories on how the heart shape became the two-dimensional representation for love. One, in particular, associates the symbol with the seed of the Silphium plant. The seeds of this ancient, now-extinct plant were used commonly as a spice, but were also popular as a contraceptive. These seeds were easily distinguished by their shape: two rounded peaks tapering into a point. This figure, which we now recognize as the heart, ironically became the symbol for love in its many forms and varied degrees.

Perhaps not meaning to be quite so literal, the Department of Health distributed condoms during this year's Valentine's Day. The distribution program was dubbed as an action to curb the spread of HIV and "not (for) family planning." Still, use of this contraceptive can result in the prevention of unplanned pregnancies. This, not its efficacy in thwarting sexually-transmitted diseases, is a more well-known feature. Nonetheless, the campaign is a step to make reproductive health accessible. The program has so enraged the Catholic church that bishops have called for the removal of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral:
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said a leader like Cabral should not be heading a vital government agency, since her condom-distribution program could endanger the people’s morals...

...“It is immoral for a government official to support the distribution of condoms which we know do not really reduce or stop the spread of HIV-AIDS,” Arguelles said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas.
This is how forward-thinking leaders are treated.

Meanwhile, brazen disregard for human rights is lauded:
MANILA, Philippines – Two army officers that led the arrest of 43 alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Morong, Rizal were given awards on Tuesday by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Colonel Aurelio Baladad, commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade and Lt. Colonel Jaime Abawag, commander of the 16th Infantry Battalion were awarded the Bronze Cross Medal during the 23rd anniversary of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

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Mahirap na

Photo from Bulatlat

Mahirap na talaga.

The AFP arrested 43 community health workers in Morong, Rizal on February 6, 2010. Earlier lies allegations didn't fly, so the AFP claims that these individuals work for the health bureau of the National People's Army. I suppose they realized how ridiculous "bomb-maker" sounded as a charge for arresting health volunteers. As Rilo Kiley eloquently puts it, "Any fool can play executioner for a day, and say with fingers pointed in both directions, 'He went that-a-way."

These men and women devoted their time and energy to extend health services to the community and the thanks they get is to be arrested and needlessly tortured on unsound charges. They were detained, blindfolded, and deprived even of the most basic human rights. When they needed to relieve themselves, someone accompanied them to the bathroom and pulled down their underwear for them.

Mahirap na talaga.

Sexual harassment and torture charges have been asserted against the AFP division that arrested the 43 health workers. The president, a supposed champion of women's rights, needs to be told to look into the issue. What sort of security can we expect from a system and its denizens who cannot keep their own dogs in check? Think: an armed unit that believes it is answerable to no one. What is more frightening than that?

Mahirap na talaga.

Community health workers do not expect, nor receive, substantial compensation when they go off into the remotest areas of the country to provide basic medical services. They volunteer with the express intention of helping people who are in need. They give assistance, regardless of political affiliation. They risk their own well-being to answer a call that comes from a deep sense of duty and contribution. There are all sorts of dangers on the field, but who could have ever imagined that those sworn to serve and protect would be the most treacherous?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

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Today on KubiTV 2

I ran a few errands in town today, a couple of which required me to make the climb to SM.

An update on the SM Bills Payment Center: They now accept payments for the Baguio Water District (BAWADI). A fine development for us bill-paying mortals. The SM Bills Payment Center bills a P5 surcharge each for BAWADI and BENECO payments.

The ladies at CD-R King request makers of character guises to wait their turn. They are best dealt with one at a time. I understand it can be overwhelming. People with other occupations should also fall in line, just in case.
Photo taken discreetly with my cellphone camera.

At Booksale, The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien is for sale for P180. It is a sad, haunting book. You can find it on the trade paperback shelf on the right when you enter.

On the hardbound shelf next to it sits The Adventures of Robin Hood by Paul Creswick for P170. The book is in good condition and has wonderful illustrations by a student of Howard Pyle. There are also about five copies of the movie tie-in edition to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, also going for about P170 apiece. All these, yours for the taking!

Later. Off to cook pork chop and watch flashy musical starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, and Fergie.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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Mourning the RH Bill

For years, the Philippines relied on foreign aid for free contraception in barangay health centers. About two years ago, that outside assistance was phased out in an attempt to force the government to grow some balls. While the Reproductive Health Bill had its flaws, it certainly would have been a suitable starting point for changes in current population policies.

Now, the Reproductive Health Bill is dead. I suppose it would be moot for me to be writing about it now, but the issue hasn’t disappeared just because the legislation has perished.

On Filipino Voices, Nick laments the death of the bill and is dismayed that cowardice has taken precedence over political will. He writes:
The solution for many of these politicians is to do nothing, because of the “morality” issue. Because it is not government’s role to dictate. And yet, they acknowledge all too well that population is indeed a problem, and will still pursue a policy of doing nothing. It’s hypocrisy, and each and every candidate that opposes or has contributed to the death of this bill is indeed rife for attack when it comes to this all too important issue.

In an article on "Why Gibo Teodoro changed his mind on (the) RH bill," Rochelle Sy Chua writes:
Gibo believes that our moral guardians must be responsible for reproductive health because it is a question of morality and a personal choice. However he thinks that moral guardians must be responsible and accountable for our population management.

Gibo Teodoro has this belief that a government's role in reproductive health is to support a couple's moral choice (not influence it). Gibo Teodoro chose to withdraw his support for the bill because he thinks that we are not dealing with the problem but we get involved only in a debate that nobody wins.

However, I think Gibo Teodoro forgets that the Church-- our moral guardians have already been in charge of our reproductive health for centuries since we have been a Catholic and very religious Country for that long. That's why we have a population problem because our moral guardians have failed. Isn't that why we are debating reproductive health today because our population problem is already an issue? So, why should we give them a chance when they have already failed?

I agree with both writers.

Because they lacked courage, Gibo and the others chose to free themselves from dealing with a sensitive, but essential, issue. These so-called leaders call reproductive health a "moral" concern and delegate its resolution to "moral guardians." Who are these moral guardians they speak of? In turning their backs on a moral issue, these politicians forfeit their own capacity to rouse and instill moral values in the people they wish to lead. Who then do we look to as our moral compass if not our leaders?

Many surmise that politicians tread carefully around the issue because they fear the influence of the Church. Backing reproductive health leads to serious ramifications like, perhaps, the loss of support. This would spell political suicide, especially so close to the May elections. It is an age-old anomaly, this involvement of the Church in state affairs. Mentioning it feels redundant because it has always been characteristic of this intensely religious country.

Lodged firmly in the national psyche is the Church’s deliberate stand against the RH bill. However, despite the religious origins, it is still just a way of thinking. Thought can be influenced by education. For a reproductive health bill to stand a chance in this country, something no less than a paradigm shift in national consciousness may be necessary. Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but we must believe that it can happen.

Reproductive health is so much more than population control. It promotes safe motherhood, providing women with necessary medical options to safeguard their health. It allows individuals to choose if and when to have a child, lessening the number of unwanted pregnancies. Reproductive health seeks to prevent abortion and the fatalities resulting from it. It encourages an environment where children can be raised to healthy adulthood with choices and adequate resources. It educates and prepares young people, offering security against sexually-transmitted diseases. Reproductive health aims, overall, to enhance human well-being.

On the other hand, population control seems to have been perceived as the end-all for the RH Bill. Ultimately, it is the outcome that the bill's supporters hope for. The Philippine population, large as it already is, steadily expands at an annual rate of 2.16%. Overpopulation leads to over exploitation, and inevitable loss, of natural resources. Many Filipinos live in rural areas and rely specifically on these finite resources. They are also unequipped and uninformed: their families continue to grow, producing more mouths to feed. The level of awareness is equally low in a substantial portion of the urban population. These people also live in challenging circumstances and struggle through the same, impoverished conditions.

The need for a reproductive health bill is a moral issue, but it is also an economic issue and a governance issue and, therefore, a political issue. Those-who-would-be-President promise to lift the Filipinos out of poverty and improve their quality of life. Passing an RH Bill, or at least putting it to vote, should have been the first step to do it.

So, what shall we do, now that the RH Bill is dead? For now, the fight falls to the individual. For now, personal choices and our own understanding will be our contribution and testament to this policy. We are to be the advocates of a bill that is not truly dead, one that will hopefully find its way back to a more enlightened Congress. For now, the people must speak in place of a leadership that has chosen to be mute in the face of adversity.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

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Quality distraction: anime

The weekly prime time line-up on Animax is delightfully distracting. The fun starts at 6:30PM with re-runs of Rurouni Kenshin, which never gets old. The classic is followed by a soon-to-be-classic, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, at 7PM. To round off the weekly routine at 7:30PM is the English-dubbed Bleach. This schedule airs Mondays thru Fridays.

When I was at my densest anime phase, people simply called the "seasons," story arcs. The episodes of Rurouni Kenshin now airing are still in the earliest arc where the characters are only just coming together. I missed it today but I figure it's just around the time Kenshin and Sanosuke meet for the first time (My chest tightens at the thought). The series truly hits its stride when it reaches the Shishio arc. The storytelling is superb, the quality of the animation excellent. The fight scenes were kicking ass way before Naruto was wiping the floor with Orochimaru.

The Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episodes airing at 7PM are dubbed in English. As I understand it, the new, original Japanese episodes air Fridays at 8PM. Apart obviously from its intriguing premise, I have always been drawn to the show for the characters' names. Edward and Alphonse Elric (I've always had a soft spot for "Elric" to start with). Fullmetal. Strong Arm! Mustang! Hawkeye! Ross! Maes Hughes! Very cool.

Lem and I were watching Bleach long before everyone else caught on. We knew it was special right off the bat. We watched it on DVD and in the original Japanese. It is, however, interesting to watch the English dub. One never tires of brilliant writing and can enjoy it in any medium. And that is precisely what I've been appreciating the past few days as the show is beginning to get juicy. The arc currently airing is when Ichigo first enters Soul Society to rescue Rukia from imminent execution. (This is a poor summary, because the plot at this point is intense and elaborate.) Aizen has just died and the rest of the captains are starting to show off their *ominous music plays* power. The episodes are familiar and vastly comforting.

Every generation of school-going youths who feel burdened by the monotony of going to the same classes week after week has a prime-time schedule like this. When I was in high school, I escaped to Ghost Fighter, Flame of Recca (Tagalized on GMA 7, but Yuu Yuu Hakusho and Rekka no Honou to the purists), and Samurai X (Yes, Kenshin was with me even then). Here's to quality distraction.

Monday, February 8, 2010

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Try to ignore the barcode; it's a great photo :D)

This is from an essay Neil Gaiman wrote about Terry Pratchett:

"Working with Terry I felt like a journeyman working alongside a master-craftsman in some medieval guild. He constructs novels like guildmaster might build a cathedral arch. There is art, of course, but that's the result of building it well. What there is more of is the pleasure taken in constructing something that does what it's meant to do – to make people read the story, and laugh, and possibly even think...

...Satire is a word that is often used to mean that there aren't any people in the fiction, and for that reason I'm uncomfortable calling Terry a satirist. What he is, is A Writer, and there are few enough of those around."

The rest of the piece, which is entitled Terry Pratchett: An Appreciation, is here.

The two wrote Good Omens, one of my favorite books in the world.

(This photo from Neil's website.)

Terry also wrote the fantastic foreword to a tribute book to Neil called Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman. The book has been liberated from its plastic protection at National Bookstore in SM so I managed to read the foreword one afternoon while perusing the shelves. I didn't read the book itself so I can't urge you to buy it. I can, however, confidently recommend that foreword. I've been wanting to share it for a while now, but can't seem to find a link to it online. So, if you're in a bookstore that carries Prince of Stories, take a few minutes to read the foreword.

He kindly stopped for me

Yesterday, Nicco told me about a news story on Terry Pratchett volunteering to be a test case for assisted suicide tribunals. The beloved author was diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's in 2007. Our friend Abbey posted a link to the article on Facebook.
Sir Terry Pratchett says he is ready to be a test case for assisted suicide "tribunals" which could give people legal permission to end their lives.

The author, who has Alzheimer's, says he wants a tribunal set up to help those with incurable diseases end their lives with help from doctors.

A poll for BBC One's Panorama suggests most people support assisted suicide for someone who is terminally ill.

Sir Terry set out his ideas in Monday's annual Richard Dimbleby lecture.
Read the rest of the article here.

The creator of Discworld and author of numerous, wonderful books is waving hello to his oldest friend, Death.

My heart hurts.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

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Blogging as cold medicine

Sick today and trying very hard not to feel sorry for myself. Tried reading but the words just sort of swarm around in front of my eyes. I don't want to sleep anymore because the fever dreams have been extremely vivid and disturbing.

Been catching up on movies lately. I saw An Education and loved it. Carey Mulligan was charming as Jenny, an impressionable 16-year old who has a relationship with an older man played by Peter Sarsgaard. There is something slightly twisted about that guy. As the movie progresses, you notice subtle changes in Jenny as she learns more about people and the world. Near the end, she says: "I feel very old, but not very wise," which is how most of us feel sometimes.

This morning when my brain was less fuzzy, I saw Jason Reitman's Up in the Air and now support George Clooney's Oscar bid for Best Actor. When the movie starts, we see a man who lives a fast-paced life, flying from one state to the next. He is a loyal patron of the airline terminal, feeling more at home here than he is in his one-bedroom apartment. To him, the thought of settling down is unappealing, even laughable. His philosophy is to carry the metaphorical empty backpack, to go through life untethered by the weight of relationships. And the thing is, he doesn't come off as a soulless prick. We like this guy regardless, even, of his job. George Clooney makes us feel for him. That is good acting.

Anna Kendrick has come a long way from her small supporting role in the Twilight movies. In Up in the Air, she plays a fresh Cornell graduate, an overachiever who is excited about her new job. George must show her the ropes, and the two have wonderful chemistry. Jason Bateman was an especially nice piece of casting.

Feel slightly better, but I think I'll go lie down now. Will try my luck with a book again, or brave my dreams. Later.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

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This is what's been going on with me:

On Sunday, Roger Federer defeated Great Britain's Andy Murray in straight sets 6-3 6-4 7-6(13-11) to win his 16th grand slam. Murray stepped it up in the third set and started pounding winners on the lines. Federer responded with solid service games and his own sharp angled balls. I may have choked a poor pillow to death while watching that third-set tiebreaker.

On Monday, Jake and I traveled home to Baguio from Manila while Pa went back to Ifugao for work. A seven-hour time difference separates us from our mother. Everyone likes to talk about how awesome it is to travel. And it is. I've never felt more in tune with myself than when I am on a bus or some other form of long distance transportation. There is boundless joy in the smell of a new place, the freedom of anonymity, and the kindness of strangers.

On the other hand, there is rarely ever any mention of the missing and the being without.

I feel as if I'm in one of those pivotal life moments where I'm supposed to make a decision.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

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Dog and his person go for a walk

Sometime after the doormat debacle, Rako and Ludwig got into a couple of bloody battles. Rako went Mike Tyson on Ludwig's ass: the shepherd's ear was badly ripped and now droops at a defeated ninety-degree angle to his head. In those last fights, Rako had the upper hand, his youth and size finally coming into the fore. On the other hand, everyone at home has been worried about the older dog whose brown fur is still stained with blood. The violence has been upsetting, especially to the younger residents.

An uneasy truce (more like an enforced stalemate) currently exists between the warring factions. A gate has been installed at the entrance of the backyard, effectively barring the dogs from one another. Father and son on one side, the lab on the other.

Confined to the front yard, Rako has been getting loud and restless. His attitude towards the other two dogs has been confrontational, because he feels that ascension is nigh. Of course, Ludwig will have none of it and is equally fierce. Jamfong has been wise to sit out the major scuffles, but continues to engage in trash talk.

Rako and I hadn't gone for a walk since December and it was obvious he needed it. Legs of the weary and unaware have fallen to his manic humping. It can be terrifying to have a hulking mass of black fur getting the freaky on with your right leg.

So today, to take a break from all the fighting and humping, Rako and I went for a walk.

We walked up to Bayan Park in Aurora Hill and took photos of the trees and the grass and the backside of a concrete elephant.


It was early morning so there were joggers and kids still on their way to school. Other people were also out with their dogs; some of them carried their wards up and down the walkway.



I like to think some of Rako's pent-up energy is back in the Universe. He spent most of the day napping.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

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If I shut my eyes really tight...

...I would end up here.

I could spend the rest of my days in this room. I love books. I love piles of books. And I love pillows. Beds are not so bad either. This could work.

Or you can use a banjo

"When using a blunt weapon, the goal is to crush the brain (remember, the only way to kill a zombie is by destroying its brain). This is not as easy as it sounds. The human skull is one of the hardest, most durable surfaces in nature. So, of course, is the zombie's. Extreme force is needed to fracture, let alone shatter it. However, this must be done, and done with a single, well-placed blow. Missing your target or failing to breach the bone will leave you with no second chance.

...A section of lead pipe will work for a single encounter but is too heavy for those on the move. A sledgehammer has the same drawback and also requires practice for its user to hit a moving target. Aluminum bats are light enough to work for one, maybe two fights, but are known to bend after prolonged use..."

(From pages 31-32 of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks)

Friday, January 22, 2010

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Scarlett Sings

One of the sexiest things about Scarlett Johansson is her voice. And that's saying something, considering everything about the woman is scorching. Here she is with Pete Yorn, singing "Relator," a track off their new album Break Up.

Inspired by the duet style of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, "Yorn and Johansson reenact the tempestuous course of a love affair on the rocks in captivating detail." (From a description of the recordings.)

Also: Pete and Scarlett talk about their stirring record on New York Magazine.
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