Monday, July 26
I had a lousy and miserable time trying to solve the riddle of the stolen keys, and spent Friday evening and some part of Monday morning camped out in Starbucks in Katipunan with Tamadita, BnC and another friend .
My friend Jol's Makati-to-Marikina shuttle disappeared, and he had to walk all the way home.
When the traffic did let up at around 2am, BnC adopted us and we crashed her place on the pretext that we were her borrowed playmates.
So where were you last Friday?
Time Magazine’s 4th annual Asian sojourn issue just came out.. I’ve been following this series since they started it in 2001. Last year featured bits from Jessica Hagedorn’s Manila ghosts. This year, they’re still searching for the sublime, for nirvana, and it proves to be flighty thing, paradise is.
Pico Iyer tells us we need not journey too far to find paradise—it’s often right under our noses. Or as too many zen monks announce in their temples: “Look beneath your feet.” People have been chasing paradises throughout history. It’s in the water, in the hallucinogens we ingest, dreaming up Xanadu and Shangri-La. Jose Luis Borges thinks that paradise is some kind of library. Meanwhile, Lonely Planet believes it’s possible to “find your nirvana at a Buddhist temple, on a perfect beach, or in a bowl of noodle soup.” But still, we keep on chasing paradise, only to have it slip away when it’s in our grasp:
“The central paradox of paradise, of course, is that it is only presumed to exist when nobody has seen it. Set eyes on the place, and you're liable to bring it back into the realm of the mortal. And if paradise is the state of absolute perfection, the only changes that can come to it involve imperfection.”
That’s the cycle it goes through. Paradise exists in our minds, and when we find it, we can’t keep it for ourselves. It’ll turn out in guidebooks, get whispered about by other travelers, and soon enough, the paradise will be lost, disbanded, commercialized, or turned into a Hollywood movie. After all, Hollywood is the most ardent producer of this ephemera.
The legend of The Beach was one of those. From Alex Garland’s novel to the Leonardo diCaprio film helmed by Danny Boyle*, hitting the Beach was a wild sheep chase, the crumbling of an aging hippie paradise where the water is pristine and there’s a huge field of dope ripe for the taking. People wondered whether The Beach was real or not, as Garland was a known backpacker who did time in Thailand and Manila. (Or at least, his The Tesseract was set here in the islands.) But Chris Taylor spills the beans, the beach does exist, but it’s dolled up, charges you room rates, and serves you banana pancakes for breakfast:
Paradise is a place for people who can get there, for people who can afford it. How they get there is the measure of coolness. One thing certain is that “travelers,” as opposed to “tourists,” think that the guided masses are uncool. No matter if it’s Lonely Planet. After all, what’s so f*cking lonely about this planet?
The Sanctuary was different: a sprawling wooden structure built onto a rock face, with stairs leading up to a warren of bungalows. New Age music wafted through the vegetarian restaurant, and half the foreign travelers sprawled out on cushions were there on weeklong, supervised fasts. It was difficult to see how all this had sprung up overnight, but if it had not, it was equally difficult to see how it had slipped through the net of the guidebook industry.
At dinner, I joined Michael, the Sanctuary's Irish manager, and asked him how it had remained a secret. "For a long time, nobody knew we were here," he said. "There were 20, 30 of us. We'd turn up whenever we could get away. We built the huts up from the beach, in the trees, so you couldn't see them. You could sail past and you'd see nothing. We all knew each other. It was like a commune. You could drop in anytime."
"It was free?"
"Well, everybody contributed in some way. But it was free to stay here."
"People started finding out. Turning up. People who weren't invited. We had to make a decision: disband it all or go commercial."
It was at that moment that it occurred to me I had stumbled upon the setting for The Beach. And, if anything, Michael's denials made me even more certain that this was the case. An hour or so after our conversation ended, a young English guy who was working in the restaurant wandered over and whispered, "It's true. It's The Beach. Alex Garland stayed here before he wrote the book."
*Nice site. You can choose whether or not you view it as tourist or traveller.
The travails of the single person not only ends there. If you go inside a restaurant and ask for a table for one, you will be given the nastiest seat in the house—unless you kick some ass and insist on sitting on the nice cushioned “cubicles.” (Cubicle is not the right word, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind, to paraphrase Chuck Palahniuk in Choke.) Then you become paranoid that everyone is silently snickering at you because you’re alone. And when you ask the waiter for his recommendation, the dish set before you is undeniably spicy—I picked eight—eight!—whole red labuyos out of the chicken before I could eat it. What was he trying to say--Hey, lady, put some spice in your life? Of course, that really must be just paranoia.
Abroad, we are wonderfully free of caste and job and standing; we are, as Hazlitt puts it, just the "gentlemen in the parlour," and people cannot put a name or tag to us. And precisely because we are clarified in this way, and freed of inessential labels, we have the opportunity to come into contact with more essential parts of ourselves (which may begin to explain why we may feel most alive when far from home).
Abroad is the place where we stay up late, follow impulse and find ourselves as wide open as when we are in love. We live without a past or future, for a moment at least, and are ourselves up for grabs and open to interpretation. We even may become mysterious -- to others, at first, and sometimes to ourselves -- and, as no less a dignitary than Oliver Cromwell once noted, "A man never goes so far as when he doesn't know where he is going."
So there you go. Sailing forth is not just a quest or adventure into foreign lands, but also to our foreign selves. We become simplified and childlike, not bringing more than we need, shedding excess and inhibition. While the whirl of chants and smells surround us, we take it all in, in awe. I think more than anything else, I want to regain that part of me. I want to be awed. And more than anything else, I want to be enchanted again.
Friday, July 23
I followed some links earlier today and jill/txt not only pointed out how to fake french, but also lead me to rediscover how fun it actually is to try to figure out how grammar works.
Okay, spare me the kamatis. I know this was such a geeky thing to say. But hey, this is my blog, yo. To illustrate, here is the original statement:
This roughly translates to "If I tell you that I love you.." But there are complications. Not just of tense but of possible meanings depending on what tense and combination you use:
"..which is almost certainly wrong, because dire is in the infinitive, that's not right. I think I need to use the conditional here. I'm doing conditionnel present, because the others are just too hard. 'If I were to tell you that I loved you', or 'If I had told you that I loved you', see, I can do that in English (and you English-speakers, just appreciate that that is inCREDibly advanced grammar, there!) no, no, but I can do 'If I tell you that I love you' and.."
You can read the rest of her explanation here. What I'm just saying is that language has infinite possibilites. Who knew that all those meanings are possible if you use the conditional present etc etc?
Thursday, July 22
I want to brush up on my French again. And just when I've decided to do that, all the people I know who teach it seems to have vanished into thin air. Sigh.
Okay, time to run.
- I don't own a credit card. Sniff, sniff.
- It's smack in the middle of things, literally. It's midterm in school. It's right in the heart of the rainy season. I'll be arriving on a Wednesday, so that means I can't bodily drag my friend to accompany around the city and yell, Look, temples! Not that I'll be doing that a lot.
- I'll be alone, basically, on my effing birthday. I really have no kwangs with that.
- I'll be open target for terrorists and muggers. There were reports of young backpacker girls who got raped and kidnapped in India, I think. Why the hell it shouldn't happen in Bangkok, I don't know.
- It's a waste of money. I could buy a tv and a dvd player for that amount.
- I've never been out of the Philippines. If I get trapped in a country whose alphabet I can't even understand, I'll be doomed.
- Even if I don't own a credit card, I do have an international ATM card, which I got precisely because I thought I'd be doing some travelling. Will that do?
- Even if it's smack in the middle of things, so what? It's not like I'm really abandoning everything. It just so happened that there's a holiday, there's Wednesday and we don't have classes on Wednesdays, it's a long weekend. I figure if I depend on other people's free days, I won't get around to doing anything.
- And yes, I'm getting old. I should be able to do this.
- I already have the promise that W will take time out for me. The alone thing in the middle of the week will be good for me.
- I deserve this. I've been delaying this trip from last year, and if I delay this some more, I won't be able to do it anymore. I'll be kicking myself the same way as like I kicked myself for not pushing for my papers last years when I should have gone to France instead of moping around and getting depressed for some missed opportunities. Feh. Now or never.
- I rarely watch tv anymore. Although I would like the dvd player. Then again, it's my money. My choice how to waste it.
- As for terrorists, we have them here. What difference would it make. I don't think they'd single me out.
- Even if I can't understand Thai, I think I can manage. I spent two years or so of my life going around places in the Philippines whose languages I also couldn't understand. Well, maybe just a bit, and I never really got it down pat. Sure, sometimes I got lost, but it never stopped me before. And I always found my way back to the hotel or wherever.
So there. I'm sitting on my hands still. I haven't done the footwork for this and I still have to shop for the best deals around for the airfare and all. But I'll get to it. I have 3 weeks to iron this out. Hmm...What to do, what to do.
Wednesday, July 21
I have no idea when I set it up, but it's there. I check the now showing list and it's nowhere to be found. Imelda "officially opens" today, side by side with Kainan sa Highway and Along Came Polly. That's not what I want. Give me my Charlie Kaufman fix, dammit.
Emphasis on the "definitely." I was a bit surprised to see the film playing in like 3 cinemas the day after the Cine Manila premiere. Which was robbery in plain daylight, I think. Php300 for a screening? Get real. I know they have lots of expenses and all, but to see it playing for like Php75 (less if you see it in SM Cinemas, I suppose), I definitely felt a bit vindicated.
I thought I better see it now before Imelda decides that she really doesn't want Pinoys to see this movie. So I had my leisurely dinner, even browsed some at PowerBooks, then trooped to the cinema to catch the trailers. Then no fanfare, there it was, the movie. There must have been 50 or so people in the theater, mostly occupying the upper seats.
I really don't have very strong opinion about the Marcoses or Martial Law. I was born in the last days of their reign, and my parents weren't particularly opposed. That was pedestrian opinion: For them, Martial Law was a time of piece when you could walk down the street at midnight and no mugger will get you. My memory of Ninoy Aquino's assassination was me standing in front of the tv, listening to the news people blabbering about "crying ladies" and all that. I remember riding a bus with my mother and kept asking her, "Who are you going to vote for in the elections?" To which she said, "Nora at Vilma," then proceeded to muzzle me down. Little did I know that that was a contraband conversation topic.
Anyway, what am I saying? That it was only when I went to the university that I heard and realized the gravity of it all. I've seen Imelda when she returned to the Philippines and visited the old Romualdez house--a stone's throw away from my grade school, and lots of people were waving and all that. She was a big woman, beautiful too. But that's that.
I was convinced that she's somewhat deluded. All that blabber about truth and beauty. A person who's beautiful can't be evil. Then again, I don't think evil people are aware that they're evil.
My favorite part of the film was when Imelda was illustrating her theories for a holistic self on a notebook, where "tree + man" etc meant a whole person. She had some way weird out theories, and the director fast forwarded her drawings and most of us laughed out loud when the "Pacman moment" came on. If only for that, it's worth the price of admission.
Monday, July 19
No, no, this doesn't have anything to do with seeing the trailer to Bangkok Haunted 2: The Unborn, nor has it anything to do with NMNN.* I just figured I should do something spectacular next month. I don't have travel partners, and I don't know if there's wisdom in looking for one in Fwendster. Plus the day after my birthday is a holiday if you're in QC, and that frees up a very long weekend for me. I've asked some friends, but they're all busy launching new shows. Natch. But see here, I think I'll go whether or not I have someone to go with.
I was looking for my 25 before 25 list and I know I've only ticked off just a few. I've been wanting to go out of the country for years, and when I make plans they don't always push through. So I have to make this work.
I was talking to my friend W on ym, he's in London. He might stay there if he gets a job, which means I will no longer have contacts in Bangkok after September. I'll make the most of his last days there, before he highs it off to Europe.
I haven't been this excited over anything for months. I really just need something to look forward to. I'm crossing all my fingers.
*Translated: No more nyowa nights. Don't ask.
I had prepared a more than articulate piece about it, but blogger being blogger, royally screwed me by eating up my post. So I am left with crude remarks about how Martha Coolidge and you can never really hack a pa-romantic comedy/fairy tale sort of thing. You're both too serious about it. She has too much feminist blah in her head, as what you would expect from someone who directed Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and the teary 1972 segment of If These Walls Could Talk 2.
You, on the other hand, have been typecast as the earnest young woman who does Shakespeare remakes (1o Things I Hate About You and O) and also with strong feminist ideals (like, uh, Mona Lisa Smile?). I understand that you want gender equality and girl power for all, but please, if you are planning to encroach on Mandy Moore territory, it would be better to park your happy ending hating konsensiya outside the theater door. You do not know how to make your viewers kilig, and kilig is a very important factor in a movie like this. Oh, I know you had in jokes thrown in, like that bit about making out with the prince of Denmark. Oh no, a Shakespeare remake in disguise. Something rotten indeed! If you can't even handle a one liner moment like "Hey you didn't tell me you still live with your parents," then maybe you should stay in London for that West End gig of yours.
If the plan was to make everyone in the theater gloomy, then you should have said so. I preferred the arrows flying and ass kicking that King Arthur promised, and I originally wanted to watch Mean Girls. Not this. But as luck would have it, I ended up watching your movie instead. I wanted to give you a chance. That you could still be a chick you can make people kilig. But well, your movie sucked. Really. Please don't do costume pictures/fairy tales/Shakespeare remakes anymore. Otherwise, you'll end up just like Claire Danes. Now that would even be suckier, if there's such a thing.
PS. If it weren't for the trailer of Honey and Bangkok Haunted 2: The Unborn ("From an urban legend that became the talk of the town!"), I would have walked right out. But that still doesn't clear you. Your movie still sucked.
So I walk inside the theater, awaiting bloodshed while the trailers played. There's a really stupid movie coming real soon: It's about a girl who really wanted to do good and sing, only the odds are stacked against her. But since this is Hollywood, she gets the breaks, meets a producer, dates him, and eventually gets a record deal. Her homegirls are sooo excited.
My chopsticks pause in midair. No way.
They're remaking Glitter with Jessica Alba in it. For good measure, they throw bits of Flashdance and Save the Last Dance in it too. Only now it's not called Glittering and Flashing for the Last Dance. It's called Honey. So Mariah, di ba?
I swear, haven't they learned yet? But the lights are off and when the credits roll, there were no arrows and catapults flying. It's Julia Stiles as a chemistry geek and it's her birthday. I have somehow winded up inside The Prince & Me. By then, King Arthur would have started by a good 20 minutes so I decide to sit this out.
Someone should go and tell Julia Stiles that she's really not kilig material. I mean this in a really good way. Leave all the teeny pakilig stuff to Mandy Moore, or Hillary Duff, and even Lindsay freaking Lohan, for crying out loud. Julia Stiles has been typecast as an earnest young actress in Shakespeare remakes. Witness 10 Things I Hate About You, or O. She's into girl power and what not. She's doing the same here, but also attempting to make us believe that she also wants the happy ending. Like duh, who is she kidding?
The Prince & Me uses the time honored Hollywood plotline of the young royal gone astray and the unsuspecting commoner they fall in love with. It's Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, or Mandy Moore in Chasing Liberty. This time they switch and it's the prince who goes carousing to the heartlands after seeing a faulty ad about Wisconsin girls enthusiastically taking off their tops for nothing but a smile and a little push. Oh they have the usual tricks: young prince milks some cows, chases some farm animals, races a lawnmower. Why that is considered to be charming is beyond me.
I have a suspicion that they didn't get the right people for this. Martha Coolidge directs awful awful movie. Her previous efforts include a pre-Oscar Halle Berry in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and the tear inducing "1972" segment of If These Walls Could Talk 2. I don't see any traces of romp from her Sex and the City days. Even a simple one liner isn't really given the correct oomph. I want to bonk both these girls on the head. They may have had some feminist agenda or whatever, but please, you can still do that and get your moments right. Or is that too much to ask?
There you go: pa-serious young actress and seryoso din yata ako director = nonkilig movie. The only funny thing in this movie are the little in jokes. Eddie is a prince from Denmark. And he does quote a lot of Shakespeare. So Julia Stiles is actually doing Hamlet, nyahaha. She's making out with the future king of Denmark. Something rotten talaga.
July really never was my favorite month.
I was following links and found this on another girl's blog:
Friday, March 21, 2003Sounds eerily familiar. This was me nearly two years ago. But it's on somebody else's blog.
<janis ayn> HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.
no more little ms. nice kantogirl.
I'm done with the sugar and spice and everything nice stuff.Now i'm growing some horns. This is reality.
Who are you, dog gurl? And why are you stealing my pain?
Saturday, July 17
In the realm of child prodigies, young writers have historically been a source of special curiosity. That's not just because they're a rarity in the ranks of recognized child marvels, though they are; they're easily outnumbered by whizzes in the more formally structured fields of music, math, chess, and now computers, where clear levels of expertise and standards of excellence prevail (and life experience isn't crucial). It's also because, compared to their wonkier counterparts, they're harder to pigeonhole as awe-inspiring cases of pre-wired wunderkinder. How much of the literary impulse is innate, and how much is imitative? What's naive insight, and what counts as real wisdom, and who's judging? In prompting questions like these, creative-writing prodigies force us to focus not just on the mysteries of natural genius, but also on the cultural genesis and uses (and abuses) of precocity. These days you don't need to have, or be, a bona fide prodigy to find that topic unusually relevant. Rearing children in the shadow of the current "superkid" ideal is enough to stir up confusions in the whole family: Are kids flowering thanks to all the intensive enrichment (Baby Einstein videos are only the start), or is childhood disappearing under the pressure of fast-track expectations?There is an attached stigma to growing up to these prodigies. Offhand, what sets in is desperation. I am reminded of the quiz show kid in Magnolia, who grows up gay and can't even pay for dental work. (Not that these two things are directly related.) Or I think Macaulay Culkin, posti-Home Alone, with an adolescence was marked by streaks of wild hair and an overdomineering stage father, ending in an early marriage and obscurity. I'm also reminded of Aiza Seguerra, whose life story was aired in Magpakailaman last Thursday. At least, she seems to have climbed out of obscurity and back to the radio charts. But that's more the exception than the rule. If the potentials for genius have not been fulfilled, which is almost always the case, then the more painful thing is realizing that not everyone grows up to have a happy ending.
Wonderwoman has AIDS. And so does Superman. A French anti-AIDS organization has enlisted the help of these Superfriends so they can make everyone more aware. Like you know, even super heroes get diseases.
I wonder though. How did they get it? And this comes but a few days after I pick up my mom's newspaper and find the disease splashed all over the pages. Africa is the hardest hit. Anyway, it's not yet December 1. But make everyday an AIDS awareness day.
Wednesday, July 14
Monday, July 12
There are changes going on, and we finally have something in common. Though I'm not sure she would appreciate that particular commonality. Go browse, and fast forward na lang to the juicy parts.
Charles McGrath posits that when novels finally die and get shelved, comic books are what people will read. Maybe this is the logical conclusion of a cycle in literature: people draw cws on walls in caves, they invent letters and words, turn them into monstrous volumes that people in high art will call ridiculous and then later praise and intellectualize, and then there are graphic novels:
I'm not a big comic book fanatic or expert, but reading the article made me more interested, and I want to get my hand on that McSweeney's comics issue. Then again, that just might be my Dave Eggers fangirl calling me.
"The term ''graphic novel'' is actually a misnomer. Satrapi's ''Persepolis'' books (another installment is due this summer) are nonfiction, and so, for that matter, is ''Maus,'' once you accept the conceit that human beings are played, so to speak, by cats, dogs, mice and frogs. The newest book by Chester Brown (who drew the cover for this issue of The Times Magazine) is a full-scale, 200-plus-page comic-book biography (which took five years to research and draw) of Louis Riel, who in Brown's native Canada occupies roughly the position that John Brown does here. Nor are all these books necessarily ''graphic'' in the sense of being realistic or explicit. (When I mentioned to a friend that I was working on an article about graphic novels, he said, hopefully, ''You mean porn?'')
Many practitioners of the form prefer the term ''comix,'' with that nostalgic ''x'' referring to the age of the underground comics, which were sold in head shops along with bongs and cigarette papers. Scott McLoud, the author of a very helpful guide (in comic-book form) called ''Understanding Comics,'' prefers the slightly pretentious term ''sequential art.'' Alan Moore, creator of ''The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,'' likes ''big expensive comic book''; Spiegelman is partial to ''comic book that needs a bookmark.''
But for want of a universally agreed-on alternative, the graphic-novel tag has stuck, and it received something like official sanction a year and a half ago when Spiegelman and Chris Oliveros, the publisher of Drawn and Quarterly, persuaded the book-industry committee that decides on subject headings to adopt a graphic-novel category with several subsections: graphic novel/literature, graphic novel/humor, graphic novel/science fiction and so on. Afterward, Spiegelman turned to Oliveros and said, ''I think we've just created the state of Israel -- one great big boundary dispute in one little corner of the bookshop globe.''
The center of this dispute -- the comic book with a brain -- is a somewhat arbitrary and subjective place, not unlike pornography in Justice Stewart's famous formulation (you recognize it when you see it). But a few generalities may be hazarded. First of all, the graphic novel is not just like the old Classics Illustrated series, an illustrated version of something else. It is its own thing: an integrated whole, of words and images both, where the pictures don't just depict the story; they're part of the telling."
Saturday, July 10
This is old stuff, but still rather hilarious. From a website, it has evolved into a full-fledged book.
Which reminds me that My Sassy Girl, the Korean movie, started as a blog, which became a novel, made into a film, and is now on its way to being remade as a Hollywood movie starring Cameron Diaz. I wonder how that will turn out, considering that the people in the film were college age, and Ms Diaz, who's still very appetizing, is already pushing 30. Generally, I don't believe in messing with things. If it's been done beautifully, then don't touch it anymore. Or else, you'll just do a Gus Van Sant. Look how that turned out.
Sur La Lune Fairy Tales is more than just a "portal to the realm of fairy tale and folklore studies featuring 27 annotated fairy tales, including their histories, similar tales across cultures." It also contains lots of illustrations, and check out their introduction to fairy tale studies, and they've also got Grimms tales made gay.
Found this via jill/txt, and all this because I've been reading Jack Zipes' Fairy Tales and Myths.
Betty Ross explores the inherent forgettableness of sex: "We banish memories of the ways we make asses of ourselves in front of the people who see us naked and touch our bodies and hear us at our most unguarded because if we lived with the vivid, searing recollections of such moments, we would never copulate again."
Meanwhile, you can get get sex advice from lifeguards, read fiction by Steve Almond, and generally just up your hormones, if you're into that kind of thing.
In other worlds, you can check out the Cost of Sex Calculator and determine how many hours and how much money must be spent to get an hour of playing hooky. Depressing stuff unless you're an energizer bunny. Gah. Fill up the form and go.
Thursday, July 8
Calling the new Spider-Man film the best comic-book movie ever made — and it is, without a doubt, the best comic-book movie ever made — is a little like calling a Chicken McNugget the best processed fast-food poultry product ever produced. It's praise, but how substantial can the praise really be, given the source?Well, sure. But since I don't have any basis for comparison, I'll just take the movie as it is. And I liked it. I liked the fight scene on the train, and liked the crowdsurfing even better. I even like the goofy parts where Spidey makes a Bb Pilipinas-slash-Underworld pose in the last moments of the movie.
Or maybe I just like the movie because it's Tobey Maguire and his hero is more earthy. He's not perfect, he's always late, he's undependable. He's not Superman, and he's just a kid still. He can't even shoot webs right when he needs them the most. He gets depressed. He lives in a dump. He's broke. He's just your regular Joe. Maybe that's it. I like my heroes with muddy feet.
Wednesday, July 7
This means that in the very near future we will have a Chuck attack when all the movie versions of Survivor, Invisible Monsters and Choke hit the screen. For more ChuckP goodness, visit The Cult here.
This info was brought to you by missives to the teacher.
Friday, July 2
Thursday, July 1
Apparently, as this man claims, worldwide spread of idiocy began in 1979:
Early that year, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran and inaugurated a radical Islamist effort to turn the clock back to medieval times. A few months later, Margaret Thatcher's Tories were elected in Britain, and Ronald Reagan was elected in November. Thatcher and Reagan also wanted to retreat from the 20th century -- to the 19th century, in their case, a time innocent of welfare states, regulated economies, or interventionist governments. In the quarter-century since, the Enlightenment insistence on rejecting tradition and authority as the infallible sources of truth has taken a bashing in both America and Britain.Well, I suppose we can always claim that this idiocy might be a Western tradition that does not involve little banana republics like ours. We've been there longer than they did. D'oh.