Thursday, December 13, 2012

№ 106. Is Smeagol a Hobbit?

Id:  That was Lee Pace!?

Ego:  The brows, the brows, Bilbo.

Superego: Of course.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

№ 104. Sky Fall of Bataan

Dear M,

Mission accomplished! Briefing and pictures below.




7:30 am Saturday. Cubao is really a backpacker's beginning and end point. Most trips start here and mercifully wind down at the same civilization by the EDSA artery, after a long trip.

8:00 am. We boarded the Five Star bus to Bataan. Forty kids via Route 63 promised of green road trip.

5:30 pm. Notwithstanding the bus downgrade, uhmm, transfer in Pampanga, flat tire, uphill malfunction at Mt. Samat, muggy hike to the Cross monument, sardine-can dorms turned quarter-star upgrade, the pawikan (sea turtle) groupies finally settled in at the Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan.





7:30 pm. Dinner was served, after the orientation by Mang Manolo and the happy birthday ditties. Hormones, adobo lunch and international goodwill form a noisy cocktail, said an old crank.

For the most part the group was subdued. All that multi-lingual camaraderie can be a drain, Frank. Besides, no one could source a bucket of subzero beer for the thirsty teens.

We were ready to accept our tepid fates. But thanks to Mang Manolo and his ATVs, we had a round of iced Red Horse to fortify our resolve for the late night patrol.

11:00 pm. Volunteers of the center walk night patrols to scout for nesting female sea turtles by the beach. November is the best time. An important part of the conservation effort is their intervention to prevent poachers from harvesting the hundred or so eggs laid in each nest. Volunteers observe the sea turtles as they dig the nest. After that, the turtles are identified, measured, tagged and then allowed to swim back to the sea.

The next process in the intervention is egg management. Volunteers collect the eggs after they are laid, then relocate and transplant them in a safer area --- usually within the enclosed hatchery of the center.

2:30 am Sunday. A long walk in the sand under the moon, is exactly like that, a long walk. Two kilometers.

Moonlight and good weather brought in a lone, but injured, sea turtle to the black shores of sleepy Nagbalayong, Morong.  A swim across nautical miles to the beach, no less than four attempts at nest building, big crack on the shell and an injury at the left hindflipper could not stop the call of nature. Before our hushed, sleepy senses, we saw how life struggles against nature and man-made barriers, in real time. A pin drop, or in this case, the calm sea could be heard as we saw the quiet birth of a hundred eggs!

3:00 am. We were barely awake when we reached the center. But before we retired, we saw a volunteer very carefully transplant the eggs in the hatchery. It's the last step before the long wait of incubation. Fifty days or so.



5:00 am. The alarm went off. Nobody heard. Ergo, it did not exist.

6:00 am. No eggs hatched. Snore. Nobody knew.

8:00 am. If the clock couldn't do it, the smell of food could. Everyone rose and shone to the scent of boiled rice, fresh tomatoes, salted eggs, longganizas (sweet and spiced sausages) and fresh watermelons.

9:00 am - 12:00 nn. The cool, sunny, black beach invited. Everyone obliged---even that guy clad in pink malong. Resistance was futile.

1:30 pm. Bus was stuck in the sand. Oh well, more siesta.

Somewhere off the coast of Bataan.... in Scarborough Shoal, Orcs and Gremlins from the Middle Kingdom were downloading invaluable intelligence from the injured pawikan.....

Senior Orc 1: Sir, there's a UN gathering in Bataan, a province northwest of Manila.
Senior Gremlin 1: Hmmm, an international caucus on regional balance of power?
Senior Orc 1: Sir, UNCLOS and strategic architecture. 
Senior Gremlin 1: Do we have representation?
Senior Orc 1: Formosa, our renegade province.
Senior Gremlin 1: Send encrypted dispatch. Carrot and stick diplomacy must be revisited.

4:30 pm. The tow truck, they call it wrecker, arrived. Finally.

We all lined up for the bus, ready for the tired ride to the city.

Behind us glowed a cyanide sunset.... a mute witness to a rigged pawikan clone detonating a neutron bomb.... somewhere in Scarborough Shoal.

Signing off.

James

Bento Box:

1. No sea turtles were harmed during the trip.

2. No sea turtles and humans were harmed during the conception of the story. Purely literary license and nonsense. Seriously.

3. Some resources:

Pawikan Conservation Center, Morong, Bataan
Route +63
News Info Inquirer

Thursday, November 29, 2012

№ 103. Analog Vacations


Staycation is dead. The tea pack says it all in the marketing-savvy write-up:

"No Signal / Herbal

Cell phones, crackberries, laptops --- we thought digital technology was going to free us but instead we find ourselves shackled by wireless handcuffs.

Here's a thought: Turn off the cell phone. Shut down the computer, Get off the grid, Our soothing blend of rooibos, lemongrass and orange peel will help you disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself. This tea is 100% analog."--- LA Mill Coffee


Ivan About Town

Friday, November 23, 2012

№ 102. Wisdom

"Wisdom wears an indigo jacket. She takes long walks in purple hills at twilight, pausing to meditate at an old temple near the crossroads. She was sick as a young child so she learned to be alone with herself at an early age.

Wisdom has a quiet mind. She likes to think about the edges where things spill into each other and become their opposites. She knows how to look at things inside and out. Sometimes her eyes go out to the thing she is looking at, and sometimes the thing she is looking at enters through her eyes. Questions of time depth, and balance interest her. She is not looking for answers." --- J. Ruth Gendler, from "The Book of Qualities"


Saturday, November 17, 2012

№ 101. "Really, can these puns go any Führer?"*

"Somebody said, grammar is already a pain so why should you be so, too?" (Source unknown)

"Well, it's good to be right and it's fun to be a schmuck about it, too." (Source withheld upon request for fear of cyber bullies)

--------

"Q. I answer our company’s main phone line, and frequently get calls for myself. Today when someone asked for me saying, “Is Charlotte available?” I responded, “This is she.” The caller promptly corrected me, informing me that I should have said, “This is her.” Which is correct?

A. Your response was the correct one. “This is she” is grammatically correct. The verb “to be” acts as a linking verb, equating subject and object. So this is she and she is this; “she” and “this” are one and the same, interchangeable, and to be truly interchangeable they must both play the same grammatical role—that of the subject.

However, this rule gets broken all the time. I suspect that people expect an object (as is correct for constructions such as “you slay me” or “what’s wrong with me?” or “go talk to her”) so they choose an object, unaware of the nature of a linking verb. Now both forms have come to be accepted if not acceptable; it’s a matter of how formal you want to be. If you’re a 1950s-style Hollywood garage mechanic who grudgingly picks up the phone, with greasy hands, when nobody’s “manning” it, the conversation might go like this:

Hullo?
Hey, Charlie?
That’s me, Mac. Whaddya want?

You can try to avoid the issue by using your own name, rather than a pronoun: “this is Charlotte” is never wrong.

The who/whom question is similar. Though “whom” is correct when the objective form is called for, it can sound put on; it seems to draw attention to its own correctness. In any case, if we were all as proper as you are, proper grammar wouldn’t sound wrong to anyone." (Chicago Manual of Style)

--------
ebaumsworld




Bento Box:

*The title is lifted from Frazel's YouTube comment.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

№ 99. First Trip to Bicolandia

altinel_de_ticao


The Division of Public Schools used to disburse funds only from imperial Sorsogon, decades before ATMs became available in our sleepy town, Masbate. This meant that, to get their salaries, public school teachers had to travel for three hours by sea to Bulan, Sorsogon and another hour by land to Sorsogon City. My two aunts were no exception and had to make one of their long penitential treks to Bicolandia that summer.

I tagged along happily, of course. To a kid, any excuse to get out of his store duties for two full days was a welcome escape.

This was circa April 1983.

It was still a few months before the August 21 assassination. The country was still under the dying spell of an old regime. Just on February 9 of the same year, almost a third of our town was razed to the ground because, according to most elders, it was a "benediction." The "benediction" was, in fact, an incendiary cocktail of politics, a very dry spell (no waterworks system, no firetrucks), arson, and our luck that our Patron Saint wasn't a water bender.

We received our news about Reaganomics, Thatcher and the Falklands War and the Grammy's from Voice of America (VOA) broadcast over amplitude modulation. Our format of choice to enjoy Taps, Friday the 13th, E.T. and Annie was the Betamax. Yes, it was still the Dark Ages up until the late 80s, when Maselco turned off electricity at midnight.

We left very early. By 4 AM, we were allowed to climb aboard M/V Matea, probably a boat of World War II vintage. It was docked quietly in the dark corner of the pier, until "fuera visita" which roused the engine and almost everyone else (barnacles encrusted on the buoys included), to a noisy wakefulness. In my mind, I can still smell the burning crude oil mingled with the sea. It was a heady, salty sniff of freedom.

Despite it's rusty state, I was left without a doubt that the iron ship was seaworthy. Or, at least, unlike the outriggers dotting the bay, it was made of sterner stuff to ferry us successfully across the big gulf.

I recall hearing the news, many years after that summer, that M/V Matea sank somewhere off Ticao Island (Matea 2 was another experience at another time). Yes, the owner towed in a replacement vessel. Life as we knew it in our small island would, otherwise, have limped to a halt.

As an added treat, I also saw Mayon for the first time as we were sailing out of the bay to Ticao. The sight of the cone made the descriptions in our grade school textbooks dull, somehow.

Ticao, the second of the triune of islands that form our province, lies just across an even sleepier town---Bulan.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

№ 98. All the Wrong Questions

Asking can get you in trouble.
Looking can lead you to more questions.
Questions don't necessarily beget answers.
Answers don't necessarily quiet the mind.
So why ask?
So why look?
Because the door begs to be opened.
Because the gift begs to be unwrapped.
What's on the other side?
What's inside the box?
Go ahead, open and look.
Go ahead, tear and untie.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

№ 97. Un Sospiro

What's the harm in opening
the pages of forgotten dragons?

Fears will rise as staves march on.
Faith will falter at dark shifts and turns.

Flesh will quiver past
sixteenth silences and volleys.

But the arsenal has been sharpened.

Fingers will tease the strings
and dance on checkered steps.

Ego must slay the armor of scales,
rip the timbre of flight,
hum between leaps of bones,
and reel the phrases that sigh
with menace and prayer.




Bento Box:

After about more than fifteen years, I am restarting a challenge. I am again studying Concert Etude No. 3. I may have better success with proportional representation (Constitutional Law) or Reserva Troncal (Civil Law). But here's to fools on the way to La Mancha or some other adventure.

Here's a brief background.

"The "Three Concert Études (Trois études de concert), S.144, are a set of three piano études by Franz Liszt,.... published in Paris as Trois caprices poétiques with its three individual titles as they are known today. As the title indicates, they are intended not only for the acquisition of a better technique, but also for concert performance. The Italian subtitles now associated with the studies - Il lamento ('The Lament'), La leggierezza ('Lightness'), Un sospiro ('A sigh') - were not in early editions.

The third of the Three Concert Études is in D-flat major, and is usually known as Un sospiro.... The étude is a study in crossing hands, playing a simple melody with alternating hands, and arpeggios. It is also a study in the way hands should affect the melody with its many accentuations, or phrasing with alternating hands. The melody is quite dramatic, almost Impressionistic, radically changing in dynamics at times, and has inspired many listeners.

Un sospiro consists of a flowing background superimposed by a simple melody written in the third staff. This third staff—an additional treble staff—is written with the direction to the performer that notes with the stem up are for the right hand and notes with the stem down are for the left hand. The background alternates between the left and right hands in such a way that for most of the piece, while the left hand is playing the harmony, the right hand is playing the melody, and vice versa, with the left hand crossing over the right as it continues the melody for a short while before regressing again. There are also small cadenza sections requiring delicate fingerwork throughout the middle section of the piece.

Towards the end, after the main climax of the piece, both hands are needed to cross in an even more complex pattern. Since there are so many notes to be played rapidly and they are too far away from other clusters of notes that must be played as well, the hands are required to cross multiple times to reach dramatic notes near the end of the piece on the last page." (Wikipedia)

The learning pointers alone can be troublesome, at best. For example, here's one very useful approach: identifying the chords.

"The Learning Process:

The colossal number of notes on each page (a total of 2,835 in the whole piece) and the dense rapidity of its passagework make ‘Un Sospiro’ as visually daunting as any piano work. In these passages, I regularly faced the challenges of 'rapid changes of finger-position, quick changes of hand-shape and finger-changes on repeated notes' (D’Abreu, 1964, p.53-4). What are the best ways of working towards technical security and control when faced with this? An important start is to retain an awareness of the fact that 'florid passages are made up of either scales or chords, or both' (D’Abreu, 1964, p.53) – and break the piece down accordingly. The piece is full of rapid passages in the accompaniment whose basic structure is made up of chords. In tackling these, a logical and effective way to allow the fingers to become accustomed to the hand positions required is to convert them into ‘chord-blocks’. D’Abreu carefully explains this process – 'By practicing as suggested [shown in Images 1a and 1b in the appendix] one learns to shift rapidly from one hand position to another; also one gets accustomed to judging with accuracy the distance between each pair of notes' (D’Abreu, 1964, p.54)." (The Tutor Pages)

My order of battle:

(a) One difficult passage a day (about three pages are evil finger breakers);
(b) Listen to the recordings very carefully, section by section;
(c) One page at a time, when studying the notes, phrasing and dynamics;
(d) Start with a slow tempo (half the speed of the time signature) until completing the piece, all ten pages of them;
(e) Memorize difficult passages--- alternating hands, broken chords and chromatic scales;
(f) Enjoy the scenery, bravado and carnage; and
(g) Brace for neighbors's complaints. It will be noisy on Halloween!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

№ 96. The Salt Doll


Vocation is the “place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
--- Frederick Buechner in "Wishful Thinking, A Seeker's ABC."

Here's a favorite parable from an old Jesuit mystic, Anthony De Mello.

The Salt Doll

Illustration by Maia Walczak

A salt doll journeyed for thousands of miles over land, until it finally came to the sea.

It was fascinated by this strange moving mass, quite unlike anything it had ever seen before.

"Who are you?" said the salt doll to the sea.




The sea smilingly replied, "Come in and see."

So the doll waded in. The farther it walked into the sea the more it dissolved, until there was only very little of it left.




Before that last bit dissolved, the doll exclaimed in wonder, "Now I know what I am!" (Anthony de Mello)


"Now I know what I am."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

№ 95. Piano Recital at McDonald's


"Für Elise" was the prescribed recital piece before we were advanced to Grade 4.

"Known also as Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor for solo piano by Ludwig van Beethoven, it's classified as a trifle, light piece. Sometimes referred to as an 'Albumblatt' or 'Album Leaf', these pieces are short, pleasant, and not particularly demanding on the performer. 'Album leaf' was the name for pieces written in dedication to a friend or admirer, to be inserted into their album or autograph book." (Wikipedia)

Almost daily, on the way to school, I heard this anthem played by a good number of cars backing up to park by the road. So I almost learned to hate it as eagerly as I practiced its arpeggios. Ms. Aguas's notes during each rehearsal about "phrasings, dynamics and clarity" especially in the B section of the piece has stuck with me. They have become mental tattoos!

The recital ended on a high note, thankfully.

The Big Mac happy meal bought by Gua-Kong (my maternal grandfather), after the painful wait (3rd to the last, out of 15 students!), was a "happy" relief after that ordeal at the keys. The Big Mac meal was about P27.50 then (1988), it's now P150 (2012).

Inflation and economic value systems can really be arbitrary. The Big Mac is definitely more expensive now than Beethoven's Bagatelle which is available as a free download on the internet.


Monday, October 1, 2012

№ 94. A Day in Haiku and Four Decades of Life



A girl, alphabets
On her hair, loads bullet thoughts.
Her first line of fire:

Fugitive motions.
But first, a lucid repast
Of flambéed delicts.

An apt harvest from
A vale of verified mirth.
Next array, the cub.

The tiger’s outlier,
Defying academic
Gravity with wit.

At last, a thriller,
Pages from either leisure
Or legal skirmish.

Sweet life at four-one
A quid pro quo of prudence
Levity and wine.

from Adventurer by Fate

Saturday, September 29, 2012

№ 93. Empty Universes

I have wondered why, at most times, awkwardness
steal into conversations. Why little laughs dissolve
silences, but only momentarily. Things fall back into
an ordered, inane set-up.

It's a null set. After the green light, yellow.
Then red. A messy, predictable chaos. Even a fly
tires of its daily morsels. To the sooty, almost bitter taste
of grime, there's a sterile, neutral air.

Experiences can have polarities.
Dismal; sunny. Stale; novel.
The idea of variety must seem strange.
But it's the same can we fill with little details.

Empty universes filled with
orbiting infidels and stirred assassins.

1996.



№ 92. Orb Thoughts

Our non sequiturs
faze me at times.
We litter
conversations
with rehashed musings
about the news,
godly gaps, theories,
and in-betweens.
Tweets, they call it.
At a certain age,
one soon settles
with happy
razor thoughts.

1996 and 2012


Missed Connections NY. Dandy dog,
I say.

"Tree With Legs
-w4m (Prospect Park)

Nice pants. I'd like to see more of you...
BTW, your dog winked at me."



Monday, September 24, 2012

№ 91. Sunset

Slowly,
one
by
one,
the
sails
drown,
as
the
sun,
thirsty,
takes
a
sip
of
the
ocean.

20th of December 1996


From one of the benches of the exotic Spider House
Resort in Boracay

Bento Box:

The iPhone 5 is finally out. But my first generation is still running like the energizer bunny. What to do? I say no to planned obsolescence, for now.

Meanwhile, here's a theme (Nel cor piu non mi sento) from the opera La Molinara which Beethoven expanded into six piano variations. Now learning the 5th and moving, or rather, creeping with a little more confidence towards the clincher, 6th variation.

I need a recording of these gems. It's time to replenish tired playlists.




Saturday, September 22, 2012

№ 90. Brunnen

The mountain beside me
takes its last light-glide
across the lake.

It is almost tentative,
but the day calls its end.
The light traces its last fingers.

The lake senses this as well,
like the mountain. It mirrors the sun
And, reluctantly, lets go.

1st of June 1999, 9 PM


Bento Box:

On a trip to Europe, we stayed in Brunnen en route to Italy. Unlike Manila, the resort town by the Lake Lucerne in Switzerland offered so much personal space. There were only a handful of people out and about that early evening. Yet I could sense the activities inside the houses because of the lights and the smell of steaming coffee and fresh bread.

Surprisingly, our tour guide said that Austria was more mountainous than Switzerland. Uhuh.

Incidentally, "most experts agree that yodeling was used in Alpine folk music in the Central Alps as a method of communication between herders and their stock or between Alpine villages, with the multi-pitched 'yelling' later becoming part of the region's traditional lore and musical expression. The calls may also have been endearments shepherds used to express affection to their herds. The earliest record of a yodel is in 1545, where it is described as 'the call of a cowherd from Appenzell'." (Yodel)

The stage felt and appeared too big for the
performance. I think the production realized this
so they installed big projection screens.
It was distracting and it felt more like a concert
than a stage play.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

№ 88. The Roll of the Keys

After my first ever paycheck, not counting the ones from many on-the-job training or internships, this was my first blood: An old Royal typewriter.



I smile when I think it was both a symbolic and a prophetic purchase. More than a decade later, I still pound the keys.



Bento Box:

Incidentally, somebody claims that the machine used in the concert clip was a Royal Typewriter. It was probably not the Royal "Quiet" De Luxe.

Here's a bit of trivia, they say that the Royal is Hemingway's machine. Nice to know.

"The Royal Quiet DeLuxe puts you right in touch with literary history -- it was one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite machines. This was the first model in a series of the Royal Quiet DeLuxe line that outsold any other portables of the time. It was introduced just before World War II, but its production was suspended when Royal Typewriter Company, like other typewriter manufacturers in the United States at the time, was converted to an ordnance factory to produce weapons. When production resumed in 1946, the Royal Quiet DeLuxe continued to gain a following among on-the-go writers and journalists." (mytypewriter)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

№ 87. Entablado

The theater is a window and a mirror.




First, one peers at some unfamiliar reality outside himself and immerses his next minutes exploring the wonderland. Second, he sees a reflection of some familiar bedfellow and risks pages of emotions and memories from the epiphany.




Theater can be hazardous.

Monday, September 10, 2012

№ 86. In the midst of winter....

Lies an invincible summer.....



I think Camus said it metaphysically. And, I say, it sounds much better:

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."



Here's a sunny track to go with the visuals.


Monday, August 13, 2012

№ 84. Habits of the Mind

It's the climate change on a planetary scale, for starters. Then there are the rabid monsoons. Did we mention the floods thick with our sewage and rich with our possessions? How about the waste segregation floating on our dead rivers?

It's all the irresponsibility and ineptness in this vast urban sinkhole.

"Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease
about something with an uncertain outcome."---David Mansaray

And talk about another habit of the mind---anxiety. Anxiety because of and amidst all of these.

Thankfully, it's one that can be cured by a simple smack or noogie. Thankfully, the cure is mainly mental not planetary. But if you wish, it could also be physical, a break from an unproductive helplessness that's fast becoming a pattern, or worse, a cycle. It's this loopy possibility that can be self-defeating.

Daniel Smith says, "Anxious thoughts — the what-if’s, the should-have-been’s, the never-will-be’s — are dramatic thoughts. They are compelling thoughts. They are thoughts that have no compunction about seizing you by your lapels and shouting, “Listen to me! Believe me!” So we listen, and believe, without realizing that by doing so we are stepping onto a closed loop, a set of mental tracks that circle endlessly and get us nowhere. This makes the anxious habit very hard to break. Over time those mental tracks deepen and become hardened ruts. Our thoughts slip into grooves of illogic, hypervigilance and catastrophe."

So here's a smack! Figurative, for now.

--------

"One day last year, I called my brother Scott in a state of agitation, self-hatred and incipient despair. Scott was at work and short on time. I got straight to the point. 'I’m in a state of agitation, self-hatred and incipient despair!' I cried.

'Tell me more,' Scott said. 'What is it?'

'I'm anxious — again! I’m anxious day and night. I wake up anxious and I go to bed anxious. I’m a total wreck. And I’m not doing anything to help myself! I know what helps and I’m not doing it! What’s wrong with me? Why am I not doing the things I know full well will make me feel better?'

Vice Grips and Some Such

'Oh,' Scott said. 'That’s an easy one. It’s because you’re an idiot.' Then he said he’d call me after work. (NYT Opinionator)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

№ 83. 18th Century Social Network

Ideas travel. But there should be a feedback mechanism and a network to link the ideas, their creators and other creators.

Social networks, in all their primitive forms, proved to be the tides that brought foam and freedom, novelty, variety and dissent to distant lands.

It's interesting to actually see, not with our mind's eye, how the light that burned in the minds of these great thinkers spread across physical spaces.

Thanks Stanford.

 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

№ 82.God of Carnage

"In America, it has been, for so long now, the belief that guns designed to kill people indifferently and in great numbers can be widely available and not have it end with people being killed, indifferently and in great numbers." The New Yorker

 

All huddle in midnight vigil.
They wait for paid violence to awake.

Dark menace finally rises up
To uncoil out of the silver pages.

Then bullets litter the air.
Special effects, they think.

Fire metals pierce
Flesh, bones and fiction.

Cellphones ring unanswered
In the pockets of dead children.

Popcorn kernels litter the exodus
While Gotham reels empty after the carnage.

Pilgrims welcome the refuge outside.
Almighty Bruce redeems his masses back to reality.




Bento Box: 

"It is the implicit bargain every moviegoer makes. You buy your ticket, you go into an auditorium full of people you don't know, you look toward the front of the room, the lights go down -- and in the darkness, you are safe. The movies promise us a happy ending, a return to the familiar world we know" (When it's not 'only a movie')

Alas, no more of that fiction beyond the film.

Monday, June 18, 2012

№ 81.Animated Star Trek

Hmmm. It's been a while.

I haven't heard of any new trek series being lined up in WIP (work in process). Hurry up Hollywood! This will soon get stale.

 

Friday, June 8, 2012

№ 80. Infinite Loops & Legos

We wake;
We conceive.

We wonder,
So we begin.

We create
And realize.

We see;
We marvel.

We pine;
Hope wanes.

We regret
But resolve:

We build;
Hence, we destroy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

№ 79. The Monsters & Me

I saw, heard and smelled the trails of many monsters. They weren't cute, funny, and sterile. They never appeared or pretended to be the almost safe cartoons that Disney or Nickelodeon feed the kids.

The monsters were real.

Mask of Reason


Sunday, May 6, 2012

№ 78. Sacraments

There are many sacrifices I have to endure in Manila.

Bad Banana

One daily grinding thorn is commuting--- either by public transportation or private car. Traffic, heat, pollution, noise and all urban blight seem to converge like LDL or bad cholesterol in the arteries of the city.

It helps that someone---yes, a priest---had the vision to write about the art, he calls it "sacrament", of waiting.

That dirty word, again. Tsk, tsk, tsk. "Sacrament" has been so burdened with all layers of Catholic meanings for me that it's become almost sinister. I hesitate to use it.

But I must admit, he saw the insights in the experience and wrote damn well about it. So I must share the space with those nuggets about the art (I insist! And for us secular folks) of waiting.

"Waiting is a mystery - a natural sacrament of life - there is a meaning hidden in all the times we have to wait. It must be an important mystery because there is so much waiting in our lives. Everyday is filled with those little moments of waiting (testing our patience and our nerves, schooling us in self-control). We wait for meals to be served, for a letter to arrive, for a friend to call or show up for a date. We wait in line at cinemas and theaters, concerts and circuses. Our airline terminals, railway stations and bus depots are great temples of waiting filled with men and women who wait in joy for the arrival of a loved one - or wait in sadness to say goodbye and give the last wave of hand. We wait for springs to come - or autumn - for the rains to begin and stop. And we wait for ourselves to grow from childhood to maturity. We wait for those inner voices that tell us when we are ready for the next stop." (Son of the Prodigal).

Monday, April 30, 2012

№ 77. Beach Hives

Even if  the skin were lathered with thick, titanium sunscreen, 36 degrees sizzles it to a crispy, caramel hue fit for a fiesta centerpiece: our beloved lechon.

So we find enough excuses and leaves to kick off the dry season (aka summer) and dash to the nearest waterhole.

El Nido, check. Boracay, check. Palaui, Pagudpud and Panglao, check, check, check. But Siargao and Bantayan. Here we come.

========

"Picking a favorite beach in the Philippines is like trying to pick a favorite child. 

Challenging, but not impossible. With more than 7,000 islands edged by white sand buffering turquoise waters filled with some of the world's most diverse marine life, not everyone will agree on which one is best. Disagree with our picks? Share your favorite Filipino island or beach in the comments box below.

 1. El Nido, Palawan

 

more fromcnngo.com

Thursday, April 5, 2012

№ 76. Waking Up to Binary Dreams (2)


The VR Glasses actually look minimalist. They don't appear too android-like or,
if you wish, Borg-like. No matter, I like their by-line: "We believe technology should work for you---
to be there when you need it and to get out of your way when you don't." This humanistic bent is 
similar to the one advertised by Nokia some ten years ago about connecting people and about 
having rounded edges instead of sharp ones. Photos from googlepalace.


Cellphones, those hand-carried metal or plastic bricks we see, touch and hear everyday will soon be obsolete. That is, if "evil" Google (insert maniacal laugh track here) and its team of engineers will have their machinations fleshed out. Again, another augmented reality or Flesh + Machine specie. The Borg-like reality isn't really that far out or implausible anymore.



Seven of Nine with remnants of the Borg implants after she was
disconnected from the hive mind. startrekdesktopwallpaper.com

№ 75. Marking Time

Andy Goldsworthy is an "innovative British artist whose collaborations with nature produce uniquely personal and intense artworks. Using a seemingly endless range of natural materials—snow, ice, leaves, bark, rock, clay, stones, feathers petals, twigs—he creates outdoor sculpture that manifests, however fleeting, a sympathetic contact with the natural world. Before they disappear, or as they disappear, Goldsworthy, records his work in suburb color photographs.

Goldsworthy deliberately explores the tension of working in the area where he finds his materials, and is undeterred by changes by changes in the weather which may melt a spectacular ice arch or wash away a delicate structure of grasses. The intention is not to “make his mark” on the landscape, but rather to work with it instinctively, so that a delicate scene of bamboo or massive snow rings or a circle of leaves floating in a pool create a new perception and an ever growing understanding of the land." (from Goldsworthy/biography)





He says about his works:

"Movement, change, light growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. I want to get under the surface. When I work with a leaf, rock, stick, it is not just that material itself, it is an opening into the processes of life within and around it. When I leave it, these processes continue....

My approach to photograph is kept simple, almost routine. All work, good and bad, is documented. I use standard film, a standard lens and no filters. Each work grows, strays, decays—integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its height, marking the moment when the work is most alive. There is an intensity about a work at its peak that I hope is expresses in the image. Process and decay are implicit." (quoted from Brain Pickings)


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

№ 74. Comedy Has Color

I wish I could've said or even thought a bit of this piece. Comedy does refract into a continent of colors.

Unforgivably wise!

I like this obnoxious Brit.

"I’m not one of those people who think that comedy is your conscience taking a day off. My conscience never takes a day off and I can justify everything I do. There’s no line to be drawn in comedy in the sense that there are things you should never joke about. There’s nothing that you should never joke about, but it depends what that joke is. Comedy comes from a good or a bad place. The subject of a joke isn’t necessarily the target of the joke. You can make jokes about race without any race being the butt of the joke. Racism itself can be the butt, for example. When dealing with a so-called taboo subject, the angst and discomfort of the audience is what’s under the microscope. Our own preconceptions and prejudices are often what are being challenged. I don’t like racist jokes. Not because they are offensive. I don’t like them because they’re not funny. And they’re not funny because they’re not true. They are almost always based on a falsehood somewhere along the way, which ruins the gag for me. Comedy is an intellectual pursuit. Not a platform." (The Difference Between American & British Humour)


demilked

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

№ 73. Reading Curie



I haven't read or even seen the book yet. But the research made and the attention to all details of bookmaking is incredible: the typeface used, the handmade illustrations and cyanotype technique, Hiroshima interviews and other field trips.




Monday, March 19, 2012

№ 72. Ilocos on My Mind

dispatchmagonline

№ 71. Monday Mind Melds: Green Planet

Mondays can have their perks, too. They can give the week a shot in the arm especially for armchair green revolutionaries.

Earth Day is almost here. What better way to prepare than to inspect current thinking and maybe learn something.

Here's one very engaging article from Utne:

"Today we operate the world with our growth paradigm and our economic imperative and our social imperative as being the supreme goals for our societies. We then add, at best, sustainable development, corporate social responsibility and all the good work we’re doing with clean tech and efforts to be more efficient, all with the explicit goal of minimizing environmental impacts within the overarching growth paradigm. The insights of the Anthropocene and tipping points show this paradigm doesn’t work anymore. We have to reverse the whole order and agree that the biosphere is the basis for everything else. This is quite dramatic, because it means human development has to be subordinate to Earth system boundaries. It changes the whole idea of macroeconomic theory, because macroeconomic theory basically states that as long as you put the right price on the environment, you automatically get the most cost-efficient way of solving environmental problems."

Hiroshima Videos from www.archive.org

Sunday, March 11, 2012

№ 70. Ze Map, X Marks the Spot




"There are a ton of fan-made maps out there depicting the world of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series — not to mention some pretty impressive fan art — but this one is by far the best we’ve ever seen. Created by superfan TheMountainGoat by combining books from the maps as well as other fan-made maps, it is as functional as it is beautiful. There’s a larger, zoomable version at his website, plus some other goodies, like a cool animated timeline map and a view of Westeros in Google Earth view. We’ll never get lost on the Dothraki sea again."

from Flavorwire

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

№ 66. The Art of Divination in Bangaan: Orpi



Every February, when green seedlings of mountain rice have already sprouted from the nursery, the Ifugao farmers of Bangaan, Banaue in Northern Philippines begin the long ritual of transplanting them to the terraces. Water, a plentiful resource from the slopes of the mountain, flow through a network of irrigation channels carved on the sides of the terraces. Fresh water makes the fertile soil yield to the manual labor of sowing the tender roots of the grass.


On this occasion, the village, through their priest, the Mumbaki, and the elders, gathers to perform a communal ceremony of song, dance, sacrifice, prayer and hepatomancy. Hepatomancy is a form of divination also practiced by the Babylonians where the liver, the "source of blood" and the "base of life", is examined to discover the divine will. The priest is specially trained to interpret the "signs" of the liver.(1)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

№ 65. Renewal

It's the new year. It's a season to plant, nurture and grow roots. Let's paint the earth green, kid.

This is an old favorite that refuses to just gather dust and fade in memory. Classics have a way of resisting anonymity and forgetfulness, I guess.

Enjoy.


Bento Box:


"The Man Who Planted Trees (French title L'homme qui plantait des arbres), also known as The Story of Elzéard Bouffier, The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met, and The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness, is an allegorical tale by French author Jean Giono, published in 1953.

It tells the story of one shepherd's long and successful singlehanded effort to re-forest a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps near Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century. The tale is quite short—only about 4000 words long."

Thanks Wikipedia, please don't black out again.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

№ 64. Happy New Year, Again!

Yes, it's the Chinese Lunar New Year. Water Dragon.

I drenched the yard, garage and the garden and made sure all the pails, tabo (dipper) and jugs were filled to the brim. I turned on the lights just in case Wushu got lost.

Earlier, I also brought home goodies from San Fernando: macapuno tarts ("loco coco" tarts. Market Manila, the food blogger, says macapuno is a mutant coconut.), cashew boat tarts and puto paowow. We were hoping for more homegrown Pundaquit goods, but there were none. So we went to the Food Capital of the Philippines: Pampanga, which was on the way home. Luck was abundant.

That should be enough bait, right?

As a last siren call for the lost dragon, I banged the piano with a Rachmaninov and a Beethoven piece. On the brink at 11:59 PM.

Wushu, where art thou?

Bring more luck, will you.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

№ 63. Happy New Year!

Ok, ok. This is rather late. Been slacking, busy and slacking back. There ought to be a better excuse.

Happy New Year!