Saturday, December 31

Go pyro!

Because I have a low tech cam, this image swiped from the WPO official site.

I went to the last night of the World Pyro Olympics at the Esplanade behind the SM Mall of Asia. I've never seen so much humanity in my life. And all in one go, too. (Well, maybe except Edsa Dos and the Philippine Centennial Fireworks display at the Luneta.)

More people showed up tonight than the opening last December 26, when we only made it as far as Blue Wave and then the fireworks all started and we ended up watching at the parking lot behind Gerry's Grill. Note: It's not adviseable to go to this event with girls wearing high heels. You must be ready to walk for miles. And don't bring a car. It's useless in that sort of traffic.

Tonight, I went with my brothers, met up with Tamadita and her sister. We sat on the rocks outside the sea wall. My youngest brother said, "Sure we have a good view. I just hope there won't be a tsunami." (Nyar. I swear he's just so morbid.)

I didn't get to meet up with Bluekessa and her friend, and one of my brothers got lost in the crowd. We searched for him all over the place and it was just impossible to find each other even if we made panawagan already.

When it was time to go home, it felt like a scene from Night of the Living Dead. You know, darkness, huge empty lots, a gigantic mall, and lotsa people all heading towards the exits.

Australia won by virtue of hormones, I think. I was lucky enough to have seen their show last Monday. My favorite part was when they let go lotsa little fireworks and everyone went, "Sperm!" :)

Tuesday, December 27

So that was Christmas

The gatecrashers
Originally uploaded by xkg.

Our last shoot of the year coincided with the network party. We were doing a three-episode marathon. (The third in the series was a last minute addition. As in. You have to ask Clarissa how that went.)

We started at 7am, finished by 9pm. By that time, the registration was already closed. So we all headed to the ever trusty McDo and feasted on fries.

Sunday, December 11

Boy Bawang

If you do a Google image search on Boy Bawang, this one is among the top search results:

He reminds me P.Diddy

But I was really looking for this:

Swiped this off someone's blog. Thank you lca.tabulas whoever you are.

Who would have thought that Boy Bawang actually has a website? Yey, Boy Bawang! Click here.

Scarlett Johansson, I hear you

Ms. Johanson, who is currently Woody Allen's favorite actress, shares her shopping philosophy in this article by Lynn Hirschberg from the New York Times:
"Sometimes you realize that the best presents are the ones you buy for yourself...[I]f you're working hard at any job, you have to treat yourself. Nobody's really taking care of you, so it's a good idea to buy yourself a piece of jewelry or a cashmere blanket. It's like, I earned this. If you wait around for someone to give you wonderful socks, you may miss out. Shopping is a great way to pat yourself on the back when no one else will."
Ah yes. Now, if only I actually get me some time to shop. Throw in a massage, a footspa and a really good night's sleep and I'll be a very happy kitty. Nyar.

Wednesday, December 7

Brokeback's back online

The New Yorker has reprinted Annie Proulx's short story that's now a movie by Ang Lee. Bookslut interviews Proulx and she actually likes the movie version, although Jake Gyllenhaal thinks differently of what the cowboys actually are. He has disclaimed that that Brokeback is not just a 'gay love story', that what Jack and Ennis go through is a very strong feeling. "The idea ultimately is, if you have love, no matter what that love is, whatever the boundaries, you have to hold on to it." Okay.

A couple of months back, the rumor mill had it that Brokeback Mountain was going to be the closing film for Cinemanila. I guess that didn't push through as the film opens this December in the States. But I'm so looking forward for when the movie actually opens here.

Two film review choices. Here's something from the New Yorker and the other by Choire Sicha.

Wednesday, November 30

Banana Hearts and Rainy Days

Was in Makati the other day stalking SEA Games athletes looking for my grad school reading requirement which is unfortunately nowhere to be found. (It's a long story, this. I had to beg and gnash my teeth and tear at my hair. But now I need to churn out 100 hundred pages of fiction. I had apparently enrolled in a novel writing class, wah! Now I still beg, gnash, tear etc.)

Due to many things happening at the same time, I don't really have time to form complete sentences right now. So go read other people's blogs:

Butch Dalisay now blogs!

Nerve's Scanner, which now comes out daily, wants us to ogle the French rugby team's calendar.

Or listen to Jessica Zafra's podcast, where she talks about having ancestors who favor grand entrances and ending up with one of the last items in the catalogue, the dangers of living in seclusion, the perils of minor pseudo-celebrityhood, and how the internet is changing the way we live.

Sunday, November 20

Hotness follows

Slate gives academics everywhere tips on how to be the hottest professors on campus:
Don't play favorites, yet don't deny students extra credit or a second chance on a paper or test. Don't "get sidetracked by boring crap." Don't refer to yourself in the third person. Don't ever call on students. Don't be "mean," "hateful," or "ambiguous." Don't take attendance. Don't be "high on Viagra and full of yourself." Don't be "distractingly spastic." Very important: Don't talk about stuff in class and then put other stuff on the test. Most important: Don't give low grades. Do show slides. Do offer easy assignments. Do crack jokes and "provide a fun teaching atmosphere." Do show up at your office hours. Do give A's on all group projects. Do walk your dog around campus. Do resemble a celebrity of some sort. Finally, try your best to be "awesome."
This wee bit of wisdom is taken from the site, where "the students do the grading." But first, certain heartbreaking facts: while 47% of American classrooms are wireless, a huge percentage of Philippine schools still lack classrooms--or a decent registration process, natch. Next, it says that language departments account for the hottest professors. What do they mean by "language"? Do they mean English (or Filipino?) or the more exotic sort that comes with accents. (Hmm.. if I sport a Visayan or maybe Batangas accent, will that make me hot? Hmmm...) Also, while the article says that "hotness can have a powerful effect on students," it must be said that there's a huge possibility that hotness might not be the very first thing on professor's minds.

If we do believe the said criteria, I can just imagine that I'd probably one of the avoided people on campus. ("She gives out 5.0s, ahhhh!") At any rate, hotness is a bit difficult to achieve when it's so hard to get up early in the morning in the latter -ber months. But, oh, we do try.


One of my online guilty pleasures, from the "land of the brown, l'exotique and the natives," has been posted on MeFi.

The post refers to him as a third world incarnation of Derek Zoolander. I ran across his blog earlier in the year, and hands down, my favorite moment is the one about this Vuitton bag where he even posted receipts of his purchase. Debauchery, my sweet folks.

Sunday, November 13

When in doubt, cut to seagull

Enjoyed this Mefi thread about cinematic devices, how they add to good storytelling, and what you lose when you spend too much time taking things apart:
One of the worst things about learning the hows and whys of any artform or craft is that the knowledge can detract from your enjoyment. I have cinematographer friends who, rather than, as an average filmmaker, asking, "What happens next?" (the goal of any good writer or director) while watching a scene, will instead ask herself, "Where are the lights?" or "How's it lit?". I find it very difficult to watch any film and not think about how it may have been written.
Also includes such gems like the power of the cut (Where shot A shows a gun, B shows a flock of birds all flying in different directions) and "When in doubt, cut to seagull" --or pitbull if you're Robert Rodriguez. The discussion is all very Film 100. But also got to agree with Manhasset there. And if it's not film school, it's a little like loving reading and writing and then suddenly enrolling in the creative writing program, where you are forced to have three markers ready in neon green, pink and yellow and you highlight like crazy for devices that show character, scenes where the conflict is condensed, good dialogue that works. You lose a kind of innocence that way.

Saturday, November 12

Dead Dylan Thomas Reading

As a tribute for his 52nd death anniversary, Swansea animation studio iCreate launched Virtual Dylan, a minute and a half 3D film of Dylan Thomas reading "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." The reading will be followed by a documentary.

But since there is no surviving film footage of the poet reading his own work, what they did was to combine existing photos, voice recordings and the molds of his death mask. The death mask itself was actually too flat for a 3D rendering so they also used footages of the actor Bob Kingdom reading from Thomas' work. The making of this project was dubbed a veritable "Madame Tussauds for the 21st century." Here's a glimpse of the Dylan Thomas' death mask:

The Deathmask of Dylan Thomas

Can you say creepy? They had to add another ten layers of virtual skin and added some hair to make it look more, uh, alive. While I heart Dylan Thomas (especially when you're sixteen and you spend your afternoons pawing the shelves of the Arts and Humanities section at the Main Lib), it's certainly a far cry from this photo where he was a bad, bad boy rockstar poet:

Here's also you can hear him reading the poem, which might be the same recording the iCreate people used.

The Backstreet Boys is good for you

English professor Josh Clover tells us what you reveal about yourself when you turn up your nose on pop culture:
“It’s more of a political decision than a choice of taste … a class bias against things that can be real expressions of human existence.”

One experience he remembers is a Backstreet Boys concert he reviewed in 1998. Walking through the audience while the boy band played, he watched as some people in the crowd wept with emotion.

“What the fuck am I to say? They weren’t having a real experience compared to my mom having an experience about The Beatles,” Clover said. “I wanted to find a way to honor that.”
That experience may partly have lead to his decision to leave the very glam world of music criticism. All in all, what Clover is telling us is that the dismissal of pop culture is largely an issue of class. Nevermind the debate about pop being ephemeral. Pop is about now, and how we use it to make it transcend boundaries of culture, class and even time.

This is for that girl way way back who turned up her nose on us who found simple joy in singing along to the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.

Wednesday, November 2

Love in the Time of IRC

Now if you have ever attempted to date online, here's an excerpt from the first chapter of ASL PLS, which you may either view as comedy or a very useful guide as to how people from different schools behave when doing an SEB:
16 year-old na Thomasian pa naman ang ka-eyeball ko. In fairness, guwapo (kung pic niya talaga yun ha), at mukhang mabait. Kaya kahit 1 am na, hindi ako natatakot makipag-SEB. Basta UST student, sweet lover. Parang driver. Medyo uptight ang personality pero wild makipag-sex. And unlike UP students, hindi sila basta-basta umaalis pagkatapos labasan. Yayakap sila, makikipagkwentuhan. Gusto ko rin ang Ateneans, kasi sobrang generous, mahilig mag-treat bago makipag-sex. Yung isa kong naka-fling for over a year, Philosophy student na hippie at kamukha ni Jesus. Kaya every time magsi-sex kami, feeling ko I’m being blessed. La Salleans are the worst. Sobrang vain. Lalabasan na lang inaayos pa rin ang buhok.
I would have objected to the quip about UP guys, but then again, I wouldn't exactly now. But them La Salle poeple they are funny ha. So do you find yourself in any of these descriptions? Hehehe.

Saturday, October 22

Friendster Top Searches

Following Butch's example, these are the popular search items in my Friendster network:

1. Soul mate test
2. personality test
3. what greek god are you?
4. love poems
5. Grace Adriano blog
7. Cynthia Yapchiongco
8. what is the meaning of my name
9. meaning of your name
10. grace adriano's blog

If you are one of those people who arrived at my page looking for Cynthia Yapchiongco, I'm sorry but I don't know who this person is. And I don't understand why loads of people are after her.

On the other hand, there are two entries for Rosanna Roces' daughter's blog. I haven't seen that blog myself but I can assure you that in showbiz circles, that's hot copy.

Seems only right that as November approaches, my showbiz gossip quotient gears up to the maximum. The Chichangs are getting ready to switch roles. And as I refuse to be drama queen, I'd be more than willing to get The Ultimate Chichang Role--that of Showbiz and Game Show Host.

Hehe. As if.

Wednesday, October 19

Zafra Online

Here's my fangirl find of the week: Jessica Zafra has a blog.

This after resisting the online temptation for a long, long time. Maybe she has more time now that she's not writing a column, not hosting a radio and television talk show, and not editing Flip anymore. She mentions that Flip is now a collector's item and I have all eight issues, nyahahaha! (Hay naku, only geeks will appreciate this.)

The Twisted blog contains the complete lyrics to the YC Bikini Briefs jingle and it also led me to this piece of news: that Fatboy Slim is planning to make an Imelda Marcos musical called Here Lies Love (which I think is taken from that scene in Ramona Diaz's docu where Imelda points to the mummified--er frozen, remains of Ferdinand Marcos in that crypt in Ilocos) to be released in March 2006.

Hollaback Girl

What exactly is a hollaback girl?

People engage in a healthy debate as they try to decipher just what Gwen Stefani is trying to say. But most entries point out that Stefani may have just invented the word and tried to pass it off as real slang.

My theory is that Gwen Stefani wants to become the sort of icon that Madonna was, who went from fishnet stockings to semi-goth to English rose. That's probably why Stefani would go to the extent of importing that Harajuku girl look, but completely missing the point.

Tuesday, October 18

Top 40 Magazine Covers

The American Society of Magazine Editors released their Top 40 magazine covers of the last 40 years list.

Time, Life and Esquire led the pack with the most number of covers featured. The Rolling Stone issue with John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover, which came out a month or so after Lennon was assasinated, got the top spot. A good 10% of the list was devoted to covers which featured 9/11. It included that Art Spiegelman prototype of the fallen towers which also appeared on the cover of his last book.

Next to the New Yorker Spiegelman cover, I also liked the Wired Magazine cover featured above. Although I think most people would find the Vanity Fair issue with a very pregnant Demi Moore as the most recognizable and often imitated.

Thursday, October 13


This detail from the screenshot of my blog's current referrers list. It definitely gives you an idea about my current interests right now.

I have good intentions. In want to put together the upcoming term's reading lists for my classes. I'm not sure if I want to get rid of my Hemingway/Ng twinbill in Eng11.

I wasn't really a local showbiz fan when I was a kid growing up. But in retrospect, I was just trying to suppress an already inherent interest in artistas and pop culture. Hence, the appearance of top '80s loveteam Romnick and Sheryl, whose faces graced the covers of many spiral notebooks with the same message pencilled in: "Study hard! Love, Nicko/She" I wish the notebook makers came up with a teacher version: "Teach hard! From Ma'am, With Love."

My immediate concern right now is putting together a frankenstein script: the head comes from one girl, the arms from a very tall boy with a mohawk, and the rest, I try to wing it. I remember what one of those older writers said: "If you're really a professional writer, you must be able to do it, whatever it is." You are a writer hawking your wares. The "whatever" can mean a profile, a feature article, a PR piece, speech, showbiz tsismis.

The resulting image might be more suggestive of a vendor in Divisoria. But what difference does it make? Hacking is extreme versality under very harsh conditions.

Sunday, October 9

Life in the time of Macarena

Kitty litter shares this nifty site where you can enter the year who graduated from high school and come up with (technically) the soundtrack of your life back in the age of free sizes, Mexican telenovelas are the newest rage on television, and The Future (or life as we know it) was still in a galaxy far far away.

I'm thinking whether I should have factored in the cultural lag and entered the year before actual graduation as a lot of the songs here actually became popular when I was already in college. There are comments when they are due. Please also note that Macarena appears twice on the list, but I don't know why.

Anyway, here is my high school (and very early college) soundtrack:

1. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix), Los Del Rio
My high school was very jologs, and if you wanted to be in, your barkada should double as a dance group. Hiphop was preferred, unless you were into rock alternative and would rather headbang and lipsynch to "Sweet Child of Mine." Unfortunately for me (or my high school barkada), I had very weak motor skills.

2. One Sweet Day, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
The 90s were also all about doowop. Sukiyaki wasn't something you ate for lunch but something you sang in between classes.

3. Because You Loved Me, Celine Dion A blockmate dragged me to watch Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford and I spent most of the movie with my arms cross my chest and very very incredulous while said blockmate dabbed tissue at the corners of her eyes.

4. Nobody Knows, Tony Rich Project
5. Always Be My Baby, Mariah Carey
6. Give Me One Reason, Tracy Chapman

7. Tha Crossroads, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
I think this is the one that goes, "Boom, boom. Whatcha gonna do.."

8. I Love You Always Forever, Donna Lewis
I think I have this in an acoustic chicks compilation somewhere.

9. You're Makin' Me High / Let It Flow, Toni Braxton
10. Twisted, Keith Sweat
11. C'mon N' Ride It (The Train), Quad City Dj's
12. Missing, Everything But The Girl

13. Ironic, Alanis Morissette
I think "Hand in my Pocket" came out in my last year in high school. I knew only one other girl in high school who liked it. Then in freshman year, Alanis had a concert here. If I'm not mistaken, it was called "The Can't Not Manila Tour."

14. Exhale (Shoop Shoop), Whitney Houston

15. Follow You Down / Til I Hear It From You, Gin Blossoms
I personally like another Gin Blossoms song. But somebody I know will react.

16. Sittin' Up In My Room, Brandy
17. How Do U Want It / California Love, 2Pac

18. It's All Coming Back To Me Now, Celine Dion
If you'd seen the video for this one, complete with the motorcycle and thunder and Celine Dion in a sheer white nightgown, then this is the stuff of nighmares. But in my high school, this would have been a top pick for the annual Christmas presentation required of all the sections. Usually, if the class was pa-artsy (and this is very loosely defined), they'd go ethnic with "Ang mga tao ay magkakaugnay" (or something like that, I'm not too sure), or perhaps do an interpretative dance of Gary Valenciano's "Pasko na Sinta Ko", Meatloaf's "I Will Do Anything For Love" (from the To Hell and Back album), or Enya. If your class is jologs, you'd do a production number using the Ang TV Christmas album.

19. Change The World, Eric Clapton
The return of the oversized John Travolta came via feel good vehicles Michael, where he starred as a hefty archangel and Phenomenon, which featured this song.

20. Hey Lover, LL Cool J
21. Loungin, LL Cool J

22. Insensitive, Jann Arden
Probably part of every girl's breaking up soundtrack at one point or another.

23. Be My Lover, La Bouche
24. Name, Goo Goo Dolls

25. Who Will Save Your Soul, Jewel
I once had someone I barely knew who called me up on the phone and proceeded to play guitar and sing this and "You Were Meant for Me." Although the gesture was nice, I was too occupied with many things at the time so I said no.

26. Where Do You Go, No Mercy
27. I Can't Sleep Baby (If I), R. Kelly
28. Counting Blue Cars, Dishwalla

29. You Learn / You Oughta Know, Alanis Morissette
It says something about you if you walk into a record store and see the 10th anniversary acoustic edition of Jagged Little Pill and feel your a scream curdle from the pit of your stomach. We're old, we're old, we're goddamn old.

30. One Of Us, Joan Osborne
I belonged to an all English majors block in my freshman year and we suffered through Comm I under a Jesuit priest whose idea of a joke was to ask, "What did Samson say when he was pushing the pillars?" Every class meeting, we had a quiz where we had to write down entire poems from memory and we got 3 points for each correct line. Or else, he asked us to sing. One girl blockmate picked this song and got nice grades because it was about God.

31. Wonder, Natalie Merchant
32. Not Gon' Cry, Mary J. Blige

33. Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio
As I walked through the valley in the shadow of death... Michelle Pfeiffer kicks ass, yo. Dangerous Minds is part of the New Teacher Starter Kit. (Although puwede din ang Dangerous Liasons.)

34. Only You, 112 Featuring The Notorious B.I.G.

35. Down Low (Nobody Has To Know), R. Kelly
This term is enjoying a new surge of popularity if you know where to look.

36. You're The One, SWV
37. Sweet Dreams, La Bouche
38. Before You Walk Out Of My Life / Like This And Like That, Monica

39. Breakfast At Tiffany's, Deep Blue Something
Their lead vocalist used to be a high school English teacher.

40. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New), Coolio
41. The World I Know, Collective Soul
42. No Diggity, BLACKstreet (Featuring Dr. Dre)
43. Anything, 3t

44. 1979, The Smashing Pumpkins
Very important song to those who were 21 in the year 2000.

45. Diggin' On You, TLC
46. Why I Love You So Much / Ain't Nobody, Monica
47. Kissin' You, Total

48. Count On Me, Whitney Houston and Cece Winans
A go-girls anthem that I was conned into singing. My Hum I groupmates had to do a report on James Joyce (Promise, I don't know how that happened) and for some reason they wanted to sing this and the Regine Velasquez-Donna Cruz-Mikee Cojuangco friendship song. I got to play Mikee, if only for one brief moment, simply because I also couldn't sing to save my life.

49. Fantasy, Mariah Carey
50. Time, Hootie and The Blowfish
51. You'll See, Madonna
52. Last Night, Az Yet

53. Mouth, Merril Bainbridge
A girl in my high school claimed she had this playing in the background when she gave her boyfriend head. I will never look at her in the same way again.

54. The Earth, The Sun, The Rain, Color Me Badd
55. All The Things (Your Man Won't Do), Joe

56. Wonderwall, Oasis
Back in the day when even Time Magazine closely watched Brit record sales as there was very strong rivalry between Oasis and Blur and they were compared to the Beatles and Rolling Stone.

57. Woo-hah!! Got You All In Check / Everything Remains Raw, Busta Rhymes
58. Tell Me, Groove Theory
59. Elevators (Me and You), Outkast
60. Hook, Blues Traveler
61. Doin It, LL Cool J

62. Fastlove, George Michael
George Michael got caught in a public restroom doing some fastselflove.

63. Touch Me Tease Me, Case Featuring Foxxy Brown
64. Tonite's Tha Night, Kris Kross
65. Children, Robert Miles
66. Theme From Mission: Impossible, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen

67. Closer To Free, Bodeans
68. Just A Girl, No Doubt
Tragic Kingdom was an album to have back then. But most people liked "Don't Speak" more.

69. If Your Girl Only Knew, Aaliyah
70. Lady, D'angelo
71. Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First), John Mellencamp
72. Pony, Ginuwine
73. Nobody, Keith Sweat
74. Old Man and Me (When I Get To Heaven), Hootie and The Blowfish

75. If It Makes You Happy, Sheryl Crow
76. As I Lay Me Down, Sophie B. Hawkins Again, I have this in an acoustic chick compilation somewhere.

77. Keep On, Keepin' On, Mc Lyte
78. Jealousy, Natalie Merchant
79. I Want To Come Over, Melissa Etheridge
80. Who Do U Love, Deborah Cox
81. Un-Break My Heart, Toni Braxton
82. This Is Your Night, Amber
83. You Remind Me Of Something, R. Kelly
84. Runaway, Janet Jackson
85. Set U Free, Planet Soul
86. Hit Me Off, New Edition
87. No One Else, Total
88. My Boo, Ghost Town Dj's
89. Get Money, Junior M.A.F.I.A.
90. That Girl, Maxi Priest Featuring Shaggy
91. Po Pimp, Do Or Die
92. Until It Sleeps, Metallica
93. Hay, Crucial Conflict

94. Beautiful Life, Ace Of Base
"The Sign" was the curse of my high school life.

95. Back For Good, Take That
I liked Boyzone better. I heart you, Ronan Keating. (And Stephen, too.)

96. I Got Id / Long Road, Pearl Jam
97. Soon As I Get Home, Faith Evans
98. Macarena, Los Del Rio
99. Only Wanna Be With You, Hootie and The Blowfish
100. Don't Cry, Seal

How to write chicklit

Radar Online, under the suspicion that chick lit is churned out by "some piece of automated fiction software developed under extreme security by a powerful cartel of publishers," hires a computer hacker slash CL grad student to look into the cogs of the machine that is chick lit. What follows is a very convenient how-to for everyone and her pet chihuahua who wants to write in the genre that the New York Observer has likened to "calling another woman a slut."

Thursday, October 6

Survival tips for students

Here are some survival tips for students, with annotations and comments:

1. If it's a big class (25 or more), recite once a meeting, but make it substantial. If it's a small class (15 or less), recite more than once--but make it substantial.

Sabi ni lola Oscar Wilde, "The first duty in life is to assume a pose." So when the sem opened, I made a resolution that my role as a grad student was to be an airhead. Effective naman. Kaya lang napasobra yata ang internalization ko dahil feeling ko nahipan ako ng hangin at naging permanent pose ko na siya. Afraid.

2. Don't try to get on your teacher's good side by:
a) agreeing with everything she says or constantly nodding your head when she's talking or otherwise doing something that can only be described as ass-kissing; or
b) disagreeing with everything she says; in fact, quibbling to the point of making a pest of yourself; and/or
c) asking silly questions.

If you're a student, being the last to leave the classroom so you can say "Bye, Ma'am" isn't going to add any points to your grade. Definitely not, especially if you're going to pass a concept paper 3 pages long and doesn't have any citations. The only thing it accomplishes is that it makes you look like a stalker.

3. Ask questions during class time so other students benefit.

4. Read the assigned texts, do the homework, be prepared, don't wait to be spoonfed, keep your lates and absences to a minimum.

5. Follow instructions. Not following instructions is a sign to your teacher that you weren't listening (and maybe you weren't, but you wouldn't want her to know that.)

6. Never use the argument, "I'm entitled to my own opinion." Not only did you just resort to the most over-used excuse for not thinking, you're actually refusing to listen.

7. Keep your religion and morality to yourself. (This is also in deference to your classmates who may believe differently.)

8. Don't take your teacher's behavior as signs of friendship or anything else. If a teacher is professional, she'll do everything within reason to assist you. Teachers have different styles. Some are "nice," some are "casual," some are "concerned," some are "terror." Neither her assistance nor her style signify anything other than her desire to do her job well and provide you with the best teaching service she can.

Also, if you are too "nice," crack a lot of corny jokes, and dress like you're one of them, the students think you're a buddy, easy to bully. This is part of the reason why I attempted to wear "teacher clothes." Even if it's such a hassle to wear teacher clothes when you commute, and that by the time you reach the fifth floor your freshness is gone, you try to dress and act the part so that they'd think you mean serious business. And it is effective. But with the kind of weather we have now and you can't do your laundry that regularly, it's still inevitable for me that I'd appear in the now occasional jeans and shirt.

9. Your teacher was once a student, so avoid spouting bullshit.
Unfortunately, if you're the teacher and you spout bull, the students will definitely notice. Also, you can't just say, "My dog ate the lesson plan and today's midterm." One, I don't have a dog. Two, what midterm? (Hehe, kidding.)

10. Don't beg for a higher grade.
I don't care if you're on scholarship. You get the same chance as everyone else, so make the most of it. If you didn't do well enough during the sem, then don't seek extra points by asking to do more papers. It's just not done.

If there are survival tips for students, I also wish that there are survival tips for teachers. The first several months were really very chaotic. But in the two years I've been titsering, I've learned

a. not to give out my mobile phone number to students
b. that it's better to have smaller classes
c. how to schedule writing assignments so you don't drown in papers to check
d. to maintain my distance
e. that titsering makes you highly conscious of how you carry yourself in public
f. you need another job to support your titsering life.

These aren't exactly survival tips, but more like things that you should keep in mind while titsering.

Wednesday, September 28

The Chichangs OST

My Grad Skul Prof says that the greatest comedy is one where there are tears just below the surface. I'm not quite sure if this qualifies, because more and more, the movie that is my life is starting to look like something straight out of the Asian Horror Movie film festival.

And it's not even Halloween yet. Afraid.

1. Too Much by The Spice Girls (Spice World, 1997)
2. Shiny Red Balloon by Barbie's Cradle (Music from the Buffet Table, 2001)
3. I Never Loved You Anyway by The Corrs (Talk on Corners, 1997)
4. Borderline by Madonna (Madonna, 1983)
5. Can We Still Be Friends by Mandy Moore (Coverage, 2003)
6. Oops!...I Did It Again by Britney Spears (Oops!...I Did It Again, 2000)
7. Stupid Girl by Garbage (Garbage, 1996)
8. Dry Your Eyes by The Streets (Single/A Grand Don't Come For Free, 2004)

Don't Think Of Me by Dido (No Angel, 1999)

So you're with her
Not with me
I know she spreads sweet honey
In fact your best friend I heard he spent
Last night with her
Now how do you feel, how do you feel?

When you see her sweet smile baby
Don't think of me
And when she lays in your warm arms
Don't think of me

Deleted Tracks:

You Oughta Know by Alanis Morisette (Jagged Little Pill, 1995)
Take It Easy (Love Nothing) by Bright Eyes (Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, 2004)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2 (The Joshua Tree, 1987)

Wednesday, September 21

She's bananas*

The animal kingdom has been totally quiet recently, so I now bring you weird fruit news.

The new food pyramid by the USDA highlights the eating of fruits as central to having a healthy diet. New research also claims that the amino acid citruline found in watermelons increase the bloodflow to the pelvic area. Also, the antioxidant lycopene (which is also found in, among other things, uhm, canned tomato sauce) present in the fruit's pulp improves sperm concentration.

O di ba, ang galing? Mas maraming dahilan para ikaw ay kumain ng pakwan. Usually, maraming tinda nito sa ilalim ng flyover sa Katipunan, malapit sa pila ng UP jeeps. Ano pa ang hinihintay? Mag-pakwan na kayo!

Meanwhile, a June 2005 article for Popular Science reports that the banana might become extinct really really soon.

The banana is "yellow and sweet, uniformly sized, firmly textured, always seedless." While there are other varieties of banana--bananas meant to be eaten raw, or boiled like potatoes or sliced thinly as chips, it is the predictable sameness of the Cavendish that has been THE banana for most of North America, Canada and Europe for 50 years now.

The sameness is also the banana's downfall. According to Dan Koeppel, "after 15,000 years of human cultivation, the banana is too perfect, lacking the genetic diversity that is key to species health. What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty."

It's not quite unfounded that someday we will run out of those uniformly sized bananas. Early in the last century, it wasn't like that. The banana was something called Gros Michel--or Big Mike--which almost all accounts said was more tasty and sweet than the Cavendish. But Big Mike was wiped out by a fungus called the Panama disease. All the big banana plantations were wiped out within 5 years of the disease's appearance.

Now it's happening again. In 1992, a new strain of the disease, Panama disease Race 4, appeared in Asia. Experts all over the world are now hard at work to save the banana from extinction. There are two opposing views to this. Some banana growers are experimenting to create a new breed that looks and tastes almost the same as the original Cavendish and hope that it'll be introduced to the market without people really noticing the difference. On the other hand, there are scientists who are working with the plant's DNA and splicing the chromosomes with other species in the hopes of coming up with a tougher Cavendish that is resistant to Panama and other diseases.

This crisis is still not visible enough in the Philippines, as there are still other varieties of banana aside from those in our supermarket aisles. While I still cannot differentiate a lakatan from a latundan to save my life, I know a senorita and a saba whenever I see one. There used to be a banana that has a pale green peel, quite large, and I remember that if you eat it, it's quite cold in the stomach. They're also cheaper than your regular yellow bananas. I don't remember what it's called now, but I haven't seen it in markets in a long long time.

So here's a toast to bananas, which I hope will be around for a long, long time.

*This is for Yummy, who is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Bananas!

Tuesday, September 13

Faux Pas

Our word for the day is faux pas.

Faux pas is when an unknown number sends you a message at 230pm, "We have class today." It's when you reply, "Nah. Classes were suspended at 1pm, bading. Pero ngarag ever pa rin ako kc wa pa submit ng paper ang mga lecturer. Afraid."

Faux pas is when a while later, you get the reply: "We can't afford to skip any more classes." And in your muddled little head, you assume this is from someone you just agreed to give cabfare to since there were no jeepneys at the height of a transport strike. So you reply in such uncouth gushing language, "Oo na bakla, bibigyan na nga kita ng cabfare, sige mag-kabey ka na papasok."

Faux pas is when you open your inbox and the message proclaims, "This is Your Grad Skul Professor." Clouds part, jaw falls to the ground, thumbs type in, "Yes, mam, papasok na po."

Faux pas is when you scuttle to your seat in that table at 3pm. The Professor proceeds to give you an update on what has happened in class thus far, and then smoothly narrates a little anecdote about that time when she was young and still quite new at playing her new role as the diplomat's wife, that time when she was still naive about which fork to use at a dinner with the genteel man she had mistaken to be somebody else, and she picked the wrong fork and that picked the same fork she did, and then later discreetly discarded it for the right one, and she followed suit. He never said a word about it, and she never said a word about it.

We never said a word about it. Although now, I don't think I can look her in the eye without thinking that I once offered her cabfare.

Sunday, September 4

Angel Adrift

Barbie: The Singles cover photo. It's one of the very rare things I appreciate in this album. Note the eyes gazing upward. Barbie assuming the classic xkg pose. Hehehe.

When Barbie Almalbis announced a couple of months back that she was leaving Barbie's Cradle, the buzz was that she was leaving behind the music business to devote more time to preaching--something that wasn't totally unfounded since the last BC outing, Playing in the Fields, featured songs whose lines proclaimed that "inside of [her] heart was an army of angels" and that "all [she] need[s] is God." It came as a surprise to a lot of people, who assumed that she was "in utter content with [her] two boys." One then thinks that the disbandment and her now solo pursuit was almost like an afterthought, a momentary flight of fancy by someone who "didn't mind if [she'd] still be six."

Later, it was clarified that the move was a career one: that Barbie wanted to pursue a solo career, hence the decision to change managers and that there was no ill will between her and bandmates Rommel de la Cruz and Wendell Garcia.
With that out of the way, one would think that her first move would be to come up with an album to showcase her original work as a solo artist. It'd be necessary to create an identity separate from the band and all other previous associations thereof. Thus, it is puzzling that her first project is a sort of "Best of" album that rehashes all of her previous work. A compilation album is usually done by a performer already past mid-career, a nod to the brilliance of things past but also with an eye out for the future.

Traditionally, a good best of album should have all the important singles, but with the additional attraction of a previously unreleased track. (Similar best of albums had to have a bonus track aside from the old reliables. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking along the lines of the the Eraserheads Anthology which had "Sa Toll Booth" and even Britney had to include (her) "My Prerogative.") But a quick look at the track listing of Barbie: The Singles reveals that the new Close-Up jingle "Just a Smile" is the only new song previously unconnected with previous Barbie Almalbis ventures. Some argued that Barbie: The Singles is a tribute to all her fans, who presumably have all her previous releases, as all decent fans should, and would not mind buying an album where some songs are already thrice recycled. Yes, there is a bonus VCD featuring music videos, but again, there's nothing there that we haven't seen before. Unless, of course, if the goal is to feed the mania for collecting everything Barbie-- Hungry Young Poet Barbie, Bumbera Barbie, Cradle Dweller Barbie, Gypsy Skirt Barbie, Prayer Warrior Barbie, Recently Single, er, Solo Artist Barbie--then you can totally forget about getting this.

If B:TS is meant to herald the arrival of Barbie as a solo artist, I still don't see the necessity to anchor this campaign on nostalgia. "Remember when" was never a good tactic to begin with, unless you're Cyndi Lauper who seems to be eternally stuck in the '80s, with hair and all. A good break and better packaging is more like it.

Which brings me to the now inevitable face off of The Dolls: Barbie Na Doll vs. Kitchie Nadal. (Yes, it has come to this. I know this sucks, but I can't help myself.) Kitchie Nadal took up the cudgels for Ricci Gurango after the HYP split that begat both Mojofly and Barbie's Cradle. Kitchie Nadal and Barbie Almalbis both sing in the great tradition of what I call the Society of Girls Against Tonsils, or SOGAT. Kitchie Nadal fronted Mojofly, quit the band to finish school, and then decided she didn't want early retirement from the music business. If you'd look at the cover art of her debut album, what we get is Kitchie Nadal with eyes wide open. She's beckoning us: Stare into these deep dark pools and drown. She then inflicted her newly repackaged self upon us. Her "Wag na Wag Mong Sasabihin" was the earworm of late 2004 to early 2005, thanks to its association with a popular Koreanovela, and we even see her hawking stuff on television. Kitchie Nadal has reinvented herself as a pop ingenue and it works.

On the other hand, the cover art for Barbie: The Singles has Barbie in a white, faux-fur jacket, a cascading beady necklace effacing the soldier tattoo behind it, and she is cross-sitting on the floor, her eyes gazing up to the sky, a great deluge of white feathers around her. This image--of white feathers drifting--is repeated in the CD art. Meanwhile, the inside photos have Barbie jumping up (or down?) and hair tossed in guitar-fuelled ecstasy, or else she's smiling, still cradling the guitar, but also floating or perhaps in limbo. There aren't really any liner notes to speak of, just a list of acknowlegements, track listings, and the back cover art taken from Playing in the Fields.

So what to make of it then? Is Barbie--note the change in appellation: is this how she differentiates herself now from her past?--an angel drifting in limbo? She keeps her affairs in a book, proclaimed that it's dark and she's lonely, and worries about not having enough money for food. She plays at being the ingenue, but hers is not a sharp sophistication but a wistfulness that treads the dangerously thin line between resonance and navel gazing.

In the BC video for "Limang Dipang Tao," Barbie twirls in a burst of color and a kind of manic energy and playfulness that somehow affects even her bandmates. Where Kitchie Nadal succeeds in entrancing everyone with lusciousness, Barbie garbs herself in pajamas and invites us to play in Barbieland. When she finally dishes the pjs and turns up in an orange short dress in the "Good Day" video, she cannot resist the urge to up and down and prance in that elevator party. But there are moments when the bouncing and throwing up her arms work as enticement, a sensuous invitation. One actually misses of having Barbie as your own personal bumbera, when she wanted "to put out your fire, drown your desire." Those moments are too few, and they're still injected with a kind of innocence that it won't quite work as seduction.

But more than anything, throughout all her incarnations, Barbie was never the
sensuous vixen. The wink may have been an invitation, but an invitation to play
in Barbieland has always been--and perhaps will always be--about mischief and mirth.

One thing is definite though, the ingenue present in B:TS has to grow up and make a stand that won't be her last. It'll interesting to see what Barbie will grow up to be. Unless Barbie: The Singles is but a lament for her former bandmates: "Independence day is not for me. When I'm bound to you, I feel so free."

Many thanks to Gwen for providing my latest ear candy.

Thursday, September 1

Podcast Envy

Purdue University, whose Online Writing Lab we are a big fan of, will start offering podcasts of some classes this fall. Boilercast is intended for students who miss a lecture or who want to review the lecture at a later time, and will also be available to the public for download.

Of course, this piece of news stirs in me a great university envy. I can think of other ways to use this sort of technology in class. Maybe even create some sort of lecture by proxy in case the teacher's throat conks out. But third world institution that we are, we have to make do with what's there.

Kaya thank God for salabat. Weh.


Tuesday, August 30

Juliet Labs Dew-Lhiett

Awww. They look cute together. Hehehe.

And now for our semi-regular weird animal news:

A popular pair of swans in Boston's Public Garden in Massachusetts turns out to be a same-sex couple. The swans, named Romeo and Juliet after Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers, were found to be both female after a series of tests. The officials have already found out about the couple last year, when they both had a nest of eggs which didn't hatch, but opted not to make the announcement for fear of ruining people's ideal fairy tale:
The city's Parks and Recreation Department conducted the tests months ago, but didn't announce the results for fear of destroying the image of a Shakespearean love story unfolding each year in the Public Garden.

''Each year when the swans go in, the kids immediately come to us and say, 'Which one's Romeo, and which one's Juliet?' " parks spokeswoman Mary Hines said yesterday in response to a Globe inquiry. ''It's just like one of those fairy tales; why spoil it?"

So they're actually Juliet and Juliet. Cool. Di lang sinabi sa article kung may jologs version din ba ang lab story nila. Mas coolness yun di ba?


Monday, August 29

xkg's Manila

I finally finished reading Manila, My Manila, Nick Joaquin’s supposedly "pop" history of the city which was conceptualized as something that would bring pride to the city’s inhabitants. "Ikaw na taga-Maynila, ikaw ay dakila” is how this city’s current mayor pushes local pride. Joaquin compares the Noble and Ever Loyal to Troy, that as Troy was seven different cities, one on top of the other, so is Manila.

But even with all the layers, the constant destruction and rebuilding, the city that Joaquin speaks of is not the one that I seek. His Manileño always equates the city’s happenings with the feast of this and that saint, he goes to the cabaret and the theater, he knows the battlecries of the streets—Yeba!—but he is not part of the streets. This is all fine and dandy, as I’ve learned a lot about my city which I now infernally impose on people, to their detriment, but to my amusement, of course. But the Manilenyo that I seek is the kanto-boy who asks “Sinong kaaway mo?” whose (kanto-)girl probably works in a tabacalera and jeers the gang(sta)-boy wannabes from Uste as all porma and no brawn.

A look at the table of contents reveals that the town that I seek, one of the arrabales outside the walls, should be found between Pampango colonies and Panday Pira, but it is not there, not even listed although repeatedly mentioned throughout the book. So I noted all the appearances of my town and pasted a post-it in the index. So those who seek it will find it, even if outside the margins.

Sunday, August 28

Kantogirl lives

Well, barely living, but still here.

Wrote a rather long post but Blogger ate it, and I've no time to write it again. Mostly, these last few months, I've been quite busy--paper checking, paper writing, class dropping, hysterics blowing, eyebrows tweezing, chocnut chomping, ukay hunting, stunt doubling--hence the lack of posts.

Birthday's come and gone. Got some stories there, but for the moment, click here for photos. It's not yet complete because I'm tamad to upload, but soon.

Thursday, August 11


Everybody seems to be quoting Wittgenstein these days, though I'm not really exactly sure why. So here is my obligatory Wittgenstein post:

What we can't speak about we must pass over in silence.

I found this scribbled in the margins of a very old notebook.

Wednesday, August 10

The Maroon Diaries

My throat hurts. I can feel each of the ten million bacteria copulating and multiplying by the second. This after I spent the entire weekend reading aloud a manual in my best imitation of a call center agent's voice with an Iowa accent. "Any questions?" Usually there was none; sixty pairs of eyes placed perfectly under well-waxed bangs and distressed mopheads stared at me. They nodded their heads, stabbed their Mongol No. 2 pencils into the wood and silently cursed me to just "turn to page 28 and begin."

Patience is not my strongest virtue. I fidget in my chair, fuzz with the forms, and when I can't take it anymore, I jump up and march between the rows. In two days and four sessions, I counted 46 pairs of Chuck Taylor sneakers, 13 Harry Potter backpacks, 6 Ipod minis, and one Assumptionista who resembled Pooh.

Given the chance to shake Pooh's hand, you'd take it gingerly, watch the blood in her wrist make its way back to her aorta and say "How do you do?" You resist the urge to feed her malunggay and ampalaya.

If the attempt was successful, the result would be Pooh Number 2, who sat facing the wall, in the second desk in a row reserved for left handed people. This Pooh was still a bit translucent, with a warm glow that draws you to her side of the room. She also had more meat in her bones. Her shoulders rounded out the sleeves of her white shirt which welcomed you to Bel Air Summer Camp. The seams were blue, and it went with her Roxy surf shorts and olive Havaiianas. As I passed her in one of my rounds, she was shading the oblongs corresponding to the letters of her name. She was one of those Annas --Anna Margarita, Anna Dinnah, Anna Corinne. This Anna smoothed her hair which crested in the soft waves of her ponytail. Her left wrist supported a white strip of rubber. On one side it said "One Big Fight!" in all caps, the other had the letters "ADMU" in the appropriate school colors.

Given all this, one wondered what Anna, this Pooh Number 2, was doing here, in this room where the windows were boarded up with yesterday's newspaper, the weak daylight creeping in between the pages where there wasn't enough masking tape. To while away the time perhaps, or a choice made because there's a wide green expanse that makes a good field for playing football.

Whatever it was, you resist the urge to stare at this apparition in your roomful of brown Madonnas, and train your eyes on somebody else. This time, your gaze lands on a girl whose eyesbrows were at least 80s retro promising to compensate for the unfortunate name of Brooke Shields.

Tuesday, August 2

How's your gaydar?

Apparently, mine "definitely needs to be tested." At least, that's what the OkCupid! Gaydar Quiz said.

I scored a dismal 65%. This means that, overall, I guessed better than 43% of all test takers. I also got 13 of the 20 people correct and was better at recognizing girls than guys.

Right. As if that helps.

Sunday, July 31

My So-Called Shopgirl's Life

Mediamelt updates us on the latest happenings in Steve Martin's fabulous career:
What happened / is happening to Steve Martin? One day he's all Parenthood, the next he's all Bringing Down the House. And let's not even mention the almost buried Pink Panther. Now he's all Shopgirl? An indie film, directed by a virtual nobody (yet), co-starring Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman, based on his own book of the same name, with shades of Murray-in-Rushmore-like potential? Wha?
Well, I say you can't blame the guy. There's even talk that Shopgirl is getting early Oscar buzz. Maybe he's on his Tom Hanks phase, like you know, every movie is an Oscar material now.

What bothers me though is the announcement that Claire Danes is in, like, the movie version of Shopgirl, which is like, you know, my favorite read from last year. Okay, I liked Claire Danes during his Angela Chase era, but that's long long gone. And paired with Jason Schwartzman of Rushmore, I can see a very Wes Anderson-esque. Then add this little write up in which the Shopgirl movie is described as "Steve Martin's Rushmore." I'm also afraid that maybe Steve Martin overdosed on Sofia Coppola and it'll the like Bubble Boy Lost in the LA Freeway. So should I be, like, really bothered, like, you know?

Fiction by Albert E. Martinez

Goatboy. Fiction by Albert E. Martinez from

Lookie here! Nerve features "Goatboy," a short story by Albert E. Martinez.

If you read the author write up at the end of the story, you'll know that it's not *that* Albert. Not the National Hero and Swain. Pero aliw lang. If only. Hehe.

Saturday, July 30

Talking Funny

A.O. Scott tells us that comedy is really just the many variations of one filthy joke told over and over again. The comedians try to outdo one another at telling the dirtiest, most extreme, most shocking and longest veresion.

Scott doesn't say what the joke is all about, except that the punchline is the title of the film, The Aristocrats, and that sometimes people have fainted at the end of the telling. The film itself is like a walk through comedy history, dissecting the same joke being told differently by generations and all sorts of comedians, including line drawned cartoon boys. The delivery and inflections change, but only this is assured: "The first is that what is funny cannot be explained, the second that it dies by repetition. Indeed, the more you hear the joke - and you hear it, in bits and pieces and all the way through, at least 60 or 70 times - the deeper you appreciate its peculiar fascination. And as various comedians reflect on its meaning and come to understand the codes and customs of that peculiar guild that makes a living by trying to make the rest of us laugh."

Friday, July 29

Hell is Having Stubborn Teeth

Just got home from a dental appointment. This time to take out the real culprit of all my troubles, a sorely impacted first molar. Dentist S had a hard time taking it out because she said I have unusually large teeth roots--or whatever it is you call them. She had to give me four doses of anesthesia (I think): two each of the t(r)opical pineapple tasting one and the mean injected one. Lotsa metal instruments. Dentist used something called a #45 and #44. They looked like pliers, but they might as well use a gun on me.

It hurt like hell. I think it took all of 15 or 20 minutes, but it still was hell to me. Gaping hole still bleeds even if I've changed gauze pads like 5 times already.

I am now descending the tenth circle. No amount of ice cream can cure this.

Wednesday, July 27

See Heath Run

Here's Heath Ledger on the set of the forthcoming Brokeback Mountain, based on the short story (and novel?) by Annie Proulx.

I am soooo waiting for this movie! And if you visited this site earlier in the day, you would have seen Heath Ledger in all his glory. But, alas, that's just due to some technical glitch. Now there's a star covering the goodies. But if you click the link, you will see what I'm talking about. Happy browsing!

Linkie points to the unspoiled yummyness of Heath Ledger. Honestly, the only piece of news that made me want to stand up, clap and shout, "Thank you, Lord! Ang swirti ku talaga!" ala Yummy G. Brokeback Mountain is part of my reading list for my creative writing class. I wonder if they'd appreciate something, er, as interactive as this? Hehe.

The Owen Wilson Effect

Slate writer fields a question that must have been brewing in people's minds ever since The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou turned out to be something from the Saturday Fun Machine: Was Owen Wilson the key to the Wes Anderson phenomenon?

I liked Anderson's movies, especially The Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson has what can be approximated as "voice" in literary fiction: All his movies have a distinct feel to them, "a coherent and distinct cinematic language and sensibility." Granted that this "cinematic language" translates to auteurs--Goddard, Truffaut, Renoir--everything with subtitles, everyone is a Promil Kid, and most notably, everyone gets to wear Lacoste and/or shiny new Adidas tracksuits. This precociousness--a kind of man-boy who refuses to grow up, a Smurf Boy who affects affectlessness but is actually sentimental--is what characterizes his movies. Together with the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer and bright eyed musician Conor Oberst, Wes Anderson has championed the new male infantilism in America and they probably have the mean age of eleven and a half.

In the last five or six years, Anderson has been successful with movies with this too-fragile-to-live attitude. But those movies, Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and Tenenbaums, have been co-written with Owen Wilson, that butterscotch haired and broken nosed guy who then occasionally starred in movies featuring Ben Stiller. If Anderson's references are always subtitled, Wilson knew and didn't bother to hide his middlebrow sensibilities.

This is more evident in the Criterion Collection DVD commentaries for Rushmore, wherein the film makers explain a group montage shot. Anderson offers that "There's a storybook feeling, something about trying to create these insular worlds in these movies. I don't know exactly why we're doing this, but …" He cannot put his finger to it, and then lets it float, shrugs his shoulders, "Wala lang." Then, cut to the classroom scene, where we hear Owen Wilson in the background. "In Bottle Rocket and Rushmore there's an innocence to the characters," Wilson says. "This scene feels very real in a movie that in a lot of places seems sort of dreamy. This scene has a cringe factor to it because the movie has an innocent feel and this sort of breaks through that. It makes you uncomfortable, which is appropriate because it has to puncture Max's make-believe world."

That sort of commentary isn't something people expect from Owen Wilson, who trades kicks and laughs with Jackie Chan or Vince Vaughn. The most silliest man who is also willing to get into the brawl as opposed to the bubble boy, multi-allergic affects of Mr. Anderson. But when his movie career took off, Wilson had less time to spend screenwriting. The Life Aquatic actually found Anderson with a new writing partner, Noah Baumbach. The result can best be described as "cinematic autism"--no offense to those actually afflicted by the condition--or in Filipino, "may sariling mundo."

Although nobody really knows just how much of the penning responsibilities belongs to Wilson or Anderson, it may be safe to assume that it was Owen Wilson who balanced the equation, who pulled Anderson back from the allure of Neverland. In the recent Wedding Crashers, there's one line there that was said to be 100% Wilson: "Scientists say we only use 10 percent of our brains, but I think we only use 10 percent of our hearts." You don't need subtitles for that.

Monday, July 25

The real state of the nation, according to Conrad de Quiros

This probably sums up everything about what's going on in this country.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Philippines, Conrad de Quiros on the real state of the Filipino nation.

Wala lang. Ang astig lang ni de Quiros. Sana nga naging totoo na. Pero ang kapal lang din talaga. Grabeh, wala akong masabi.

Great First Lines

Michael Berube points us to an effort by some people are putting together 100 Great First Lines from novels, a sort of counterpart to the American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Movies list. While this is decidedly American centered, it'll still be interesting to see which ones will make the cut. Here are some of the contenders:
Call me Ishmael.

riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.

It was a pleasure to burn.
So far, they already have around 150 nominations. Can you guess where they're from?

Sunday, July 24

Slumming with Sig

This week, kantogirlblues is four.

While I still have no idea what to do with this blog anniversary, I looked at the archives and discovered an interesting post in that first week that somehow brings things to a full circle:
After the Pinoy short film screening at the Alliance Francaise, and having nothing better to do, I hung out with some friends at a house in Vito Cruz.

It's hard being a bum surrounded by other bums: Instead of just lying about and ignoring pangs of hunger in favor of dozing off or staring at that cable movie you've seen a zillion times, you are forced to take into consideration other people's growling stomachs. You have to ask if they want to eat breakfast at 2pm.

In the mid-90s, the preferred pickup line for guys used to be "I'm in a band." Around 1998-99, this evolved into: "Hey, I have a website." In the first few years of the new millenium, it's now "I am a short filmmaker."
The house in question is Sig's, and together with him, my friend Carlyn, and batchmate Job, we thought of ideas for a scriptwriting contest whose deadline was looming like four days later. In between cooking extra spicey mackerel stew and sinangag, I pitched to them my idea about a girl working in a paging company, and while my Cinderella act did not win anything, it still felt like an accomplishment at the time. To actually finish something.

Fast forward to 2005 and that last statement about film is still true. Of course, it can now be modified as "I am an indie filmmaker." I watched Sig's Cinemalaya entry Lasponggols last Friday night at the UP Film Institute. It played to a full house. I got my ticket at the booth, lined up, learned that my friends won't be able to make it. I saw Sig amidst the crowd, waved, walked up to him and offered my congratulations. Then the gates were opened and I susddenly found myself being ushered in early along with our workshop master Ricky Lee. Groupie pa rin pala ako hanggang ngayon. Hehehe. I don't mind though.

The first few minutes of the film featured various teasers, all along the line of "Pasisikatin kita." We were told the film was two and a half hours long, and Sir Ricky joked, "Kaya naman pala two and a half hours."

But it was all worth it. I'll offer my airhead comment here: The film was funny and I liked it! Since both Lasponggols and Pinoy/Blonde featured Epy Quizon and had characters who were either film buffs or worked in the movie industry, I can't help but compare them. P/B was witty and glossy and fun, but Paolo offers that what P/B doesn't have you can find it in Lasponggols. The movie had a heart larger than the man who made it.

There's this scene in Lasponggols wherein the village idiot guy tells the audience that an indie film isn't complete without a time lapse. If I could do a blog time lapse, it would definitely carry that moment of me and friends hanging around that house, of Sig literally pushing back mounds of cassettes, cds, books, magazines, sheets of paper with his hands to reveal some floor space, sitting around and me wearing his really oversized red Coca-Cola shirt, drawing that little la ronde of characters, cooking on an unfamiliar stove and crushing red chili. I'm still not an indie filmmaker, but this one will do.

Congrats, Direk Sig. I still owe you that Coke shirt. :)

Ian McEwan on a Sunday Morning

The Morning News's Robert Birbaum talks with Ian McEwan, author of Atonement and recently of Saturday. McEwan tells us that fiction is education, in the sense that when you write a novel, you "set yourself on a journey of investigation of our condition, where we stand at this particular time in history" or any time in history.

We've come to a point that there are now many Englishes and writing novels has become like a badge for growing up. Everyone can write a novel, but there aren't enough people to ead it.

Ah yes. Bring on the onslaught. But at the same time, he also warns us about cultural chauvinism:
[T]here is a view—and I used to believe in it in my late teens and early 20s—if you weren’t familiar with the canon and if you didn’t live by literature, you weren’t fully human. You weren’t all there. But we all know full well that most people don’t read novels at all and they are perfectly capable of rich sentient lives in which they make moral decisions. So we must be careful of a kind of arrogance about literary culture. That it’s the only way or only form.
There's also music, television, EDSA billboards, and maybe even fishball (stand) philosophies. If being human is defined by a knowledge of the literary canon alone, what does that make me then? A pop cultural Frankenstein's bride?

Saturday, July 23

Get Rich Slowly!

I've just about had it with books with really silly (and boring) titles like The 7 Highly Effective People (You Meet in Heaven) Who Moved Daddy's Cheese. These all somewhat agree on how financial independence is achieved. Foldedspace says that "financial independence occurs when your investment income meets or exceeds your monthly expenses. Financial independence is linked to psychological freedom." What I don't get though is why we need many books like these when you can say it in like 200 words or less.

So here it is. Foldedspace spills the beans on how to get rich slowly. Boingboing even offers a much snarkier summary:
Mantra #1: "If it's on your ass, it's not an asset." If you can wear it, it's not an investment. Also, something is riding your ass (such as a high house payment), it's not an asset.

Mantra #2: "Is this a need or a want?" This is a question Kris has been trying to get me to ask myself for years.

Mantra #3: "Sweat the small stuff." Do worry about the small expenses; they add up.

Mantra #4: "Cash is better than credit." There is almost no reason to carry a credit card.

Mantra #5: "Keep it simple." With money, avoid anything that seems complicated. If you don't understand it, avoid it. You'll probably lose money.

Mantra #6: "Priorities lead to prosperity." Determine what's important to you, and pursue that with your time and money.

Mantra #7: "Enough is enough." Don't overconsume. Recognize when you have fulfilled your needs and your wants.

Man takes on horse; horse wins

And now for some more fiend-of-the-week news: Seattle man dies after sustaining injuries while having sex with a horse.
I don't know what's up with the people in Washington state. What gets me though is this: "But because investigators found chickens, goats and sheep on the property, they are looking into whether animal cruelty — which is a crime — was committed by having sex with these smaller, weaker animals."

What would be interesting though is to know whether or not we have the statistics examining that sort of crime here in the Philippines. We don't seem to have a trend pushing sex with livestock in the Philippines, but we do have occasional farm animal deaths with suspected bestiality thrown into the picture.

Nude Sims?

Anti-gaming activist Jack Thompson claims that there are cheat codes out there in the net that turns Sims 2 into a virtual pedophile's heaven.

Sims 2 is a "life simulator." When sims take a bath or change clothes, what players see in their screens is a blur. But Thompason claims that the game contains, given the right code, "full frontal nudity, including nipples, penises, labia, and pubic hair" is accessible to everyone, everywhere. Although Electronic Arts counters that if you take out the blur all you'll get is "Ken and Barbie mannequinesque smooth body." Thompson still insists that "[t]he sex and the nudity are in the game. That's the point. The blur is an admission that even the 'Ken and Barbie' features should not be displayed. The blur can be disarmed."

Hmm. I don't know about you, but I'd want to check it out for myself. Not that I'm into nude sim porn. That's just eww.

Sunday, July 17

Goodnight to the sun

This must be musty news for some people out there, since the dateline for this piece was nearly two weeks ago. But anyway, am dusting my fangirl shoes for this:

Barbie Leaves the Cradle.

There are no words. Just lotsa gossip--that the girl left the band to "pursue more evangelism for her church." (Wtf, right? That's like Elvis getting drafted. Anyhow, prayer warriors please don't flame me.) Then there's the management issue: Ms. Almalbis will now be handled by the same team who does Kitchie Nadal. Kitchie Nadal, who was in Mojofly, which was the spinoff band with Ricci Gurango, who was with Barbie in Hungry Young Poets. What a weird musical daisy chain.

Pero Kitchie Nadal? Wah! Don't ever ever tell me.

Wala lang, nalungkot lang ako. I'm not jumping up and down with the thought that they're still coming up with a "best of" album. Or that I actually missed their last gig. (Potah sa Makati naman kasi. Makati is a bad word for me now.)

Anyhow, here's a toast to whatever's left:

Barbie Almalbis live at the Fete de la Musique, El Pueblo, Ortigas, Pasig City, 18 June 2005. This is the last time she'd perform with the band. Almalbis has left the cradle to pursue a solo career and, uh, do more evangelism for her church.

UPDATE: "Alas who sings/ for the Cradle now / Barbie Almalbis is gone" is a line from a poem which I think was written well before the disbandment. The Inquirer also carries the news, and I thought I learned about it really late. And oh, here's a linkie for that Close Up commercial that I mistook for the Tropicana jingle. Get it before it disappears. Okay, over and out.

I Labia Sabado

Marby's take on that old Jollibee jingle kept ringing in my ears all weekend. But here's the lyrics:

Ilang tulog na lang,
Jollibee nanaman
Ang araw lulubog
Bukas mabubusog

Sa Chicken Joy manok
At Yum Burger bilog

I Love You Sabado,
Pati na rin Linggo
Hintay ka lang Jollibee
Andyan nako

Panlasang Pilipino
The official Jollibee website doesn't carry info on past ad campaigns, so I had to make do with lyrics taken from online forums. I've been trolling the net for an mp3, but no such luck. In my opinion, this jingle is one of the more enduring of its kind, back from the day that Jollibee was establishing itself as *the* food service company to beat this side of the Pacific.

Proof of success: "I Love You Sabado" was even used as the movie title for a Janno Gibbs-Mikee Cojuangco vehicle. The film itself wasn't really special. If I remember correctly, Janno's character had some sort of musical ambition and he had a band, and it had Tony Mabesa playing Saint Peter. One reviewer even calls the movie as Janno Gibb's best performance ever. It also carries the dubious distinction of having Rufa Mae Quinto's early appearances in celluloid, pre-Booba.

Also, while trying to dig out information, I came across Mon's blog, which has some fascinating tidbits about Jollibee:

1. They churn out around 500,000 hamburgers a day.

2. They import all their beef from Australia and their warehouse people walk around in winter jackets and pants, they look like they're going skiing! The frozen blocks of beef pass through a metal detector before they're ground up. I asked why they did that, they said aside from the fact that it's BFAD policy, they sometimes find knives in the beef. Weird. They also check the finished frozen patties for metal... interesting... Or is it just me and my weird fascination with factories and assembly lines?

3. They bake their own bread at a rate of 24,000 buns an hour in this giant room with a cooling line conveyor belt that goes round and round. What I found amazing was the fact that they had very few workers, almost everything's automated.

4. Their spaghetti sauce line is amazing, they cook it in giant vats and transport it chilled in 2kilogram bags. For chilling and freezing (burger patties), they use a great big "spiral freezer" which can zap a pattie solid in a matter of minutes.

5. They develop at least 5 new menu items a year, their newest are the sotanghon soup, meat pies and the new fruit salad variant of their ice craze line.
Okay, that's enough about Jollibee for this weekend.

Sunday, July 10

Hay Na Kuh!

Was reading last week's Sunday Inquirer and this article's definitely got the funniest description of the director Peque Gallaga hands down:

"Remember, this is the guy who had the audacity to explode Kuh Ledesma's head, years before anyone really wanted to."

Wahahahaha! Peace out to all you Kuh Ledesma fans out there.

How to Save the O.C.

I haven't seen The O.C. in a long, long time, but Merlin's list just killed me.
Here ya go:
How to Save the O.C.
1. have Ryan start punching preppies at parties again
2. more Julie Cooper in fuzzy track suits
3. new haircuts for everybody
4. bring back Jimmy Cooper
5. keep not having Oliver on I still think you can do an "unofficial Pinoy version" of the show (if it hasn't been made or been yanked off the air yet) and they should give the Ryan role to Sherwin Ordoñez.

Saturday, July 9

Wannabe teachers who blog need not apply

I found this really curious case about an American faculty search committee who disdains on applicants who blog. Is this like the new career requirement now--"Bloggers need not apply?"

What troubles the Ole Vanguards is that blogging seems like airing your laundry for everyone to see. Here's an excerpt:
A candidate's blog is more accessible to the search committee than most forms of scholarly output. It can be hard to lay your hands on an obscure journal or book chapter, but the applicant's blog comes up on any computer. Several members of our search committee found the sheer volume of blog entries daunting enough to quit after reading a few. Others persisted into what turned out, in some cases, to be the dank, dark depths of the blogger's tormented soul; in other cases, the far limits of techno-geekdom; and in one case, a cat better off left in the bag.

The pertinent question for bloggers is simply, Why? What is the purpose of broadcasting one's unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world? It's not hard to imagine legitimate, constructive applications for such a forum. But it's also not hard to find examples of the worst kinds of uses.
So why indeed would a blogger blog? Lotsa answers, but what seems to disturb Ivan Tribble, a "humanities professor in a small, 'liberal' arts college in the Midwest" (and the Midwest is full of people spacey with estrogen, as one writer put it), the most is that most blogs tend to become electronic versions of laundry washing in public, global, international.

He also commits some really gross misconceptions, the foremost of which is equating blogging with serious academic publications. Thus, "it's a publishing medium with no vetting process, no review board, and no editor. The author is the sole judge of what constitutes publishable material, and the medium allows for instantaneous distribution. After wrapping up a juicy rant at 3 a.m., it only takes a few clicks to put it into global circulation."

I love blogging, but I know most academics wouldn't blur the distinction with personal desktop online publishing and getting published in those "peer evaluated journals." For an academic who surely knows his logical arguments, his reasons are just out of this world.

Also disturbing is their fact verification process--they Google you, the applicant. They search for your blog, other people's blog who have referred to you once, twice, and you are judged according to your online presence.

Got quibbles with that too, but what interests me is whether the same principle would soon apply to employment searches in our part of the world. If memory serves me right, I think I even put my blog's URL in my resume (a silly thing, really), although I don't think the Ole Vanguards in our particular search committee found that useful. But I remember sort of blogging (in a vague way--no proper nouns) about my beauty pageant like experience that was the faculty search. If that panel imposed a restriction like that given in the article, I would have thought twice about teaching.

But here we are, trudging along.

Friday, July 8

Friday, I'm just manic

So many things have happened while I was down with the flu and couldn't read papers or watch a lot of tv.

Gloria Arroyo has a special message which basically says, "Weh, you can't make me."

Erap will take on the presidency if--I don't even want to think about this.

London's calling for an SOS, but our embassy says all Pinoys are safe there.

"Retro/old," according to my students, now takes the form of movies like She's All That. But whoa, that Rachel Leigh Cook was hottt pala.

But the first thing on my mind is:

May pasok ba?

My mother is saying government schools don't because of some rally about a wake hike. But I can't find any circulars on that and my classes start in about an hour and I'm still heady on meds and am wearing pajamas. I just want to go back to bed, and then wake me when it's over.

What to do, what to do.

Thursday, July 7

The curious sex lives of penguins and crabs

Some time back, there was a huge ruckus when the officials of a German zoo realized that three of their six penguin pairs were actually homosexual. The guys were getting it on together, mating, building nests, even went to the extent of adopting stones as though they were eggs ready to hatch--but no babies. It was only upon close investigation that they realized the guys were ignoring the girl penguins.

Their solution? Import female Swedish penguins. You know, to introduce variety. The funny thing was, the guys ignored them girls. I felt bad for Charley, Left-Arrow, Diagonal Line and Six-Point. Rejection sucks. But it's not their fault anymore, it's the zoo officials' fault anymore.

So now there's this book that recently came out that tries to, uh, remedy the situation. Just so the penguins don't feel bad, you know. The children's book ">"Tango Makes Three" tells the kids that it's okay if your family's a bit different. Meanwhile, this particular story was inspired by the gay penguin pairs in Central Park. I don't know why, but it seems like there are a lot of gay male penguins in New York. Feh.

And oh yeah, while running some weeks back with Yummy, I told him about this weird bisexual crab the fishermen found in Cheasapeake Bay. To prove it's really bi--or "bilateral gynandromorph" if you want to be more specific--one claw is red and the other is blue. They named the crab after the talk show host Jerry Springer.

Yummy says that this is the sort of news I dig. Yey, weird animal porn!

Wednesday, July 6

Red lipstick is bad for you

Well, because Shiela Jeffreys says so. The Guardian's Julie Bindel talks to Jeffreys, the "Andrea Dworkin of the UK," on her new book Beauty and Misogyny which traces the history of the beauty industry and how it has perpetuated the oppression of women through the endless pursuit of beauty.

Jeffreys takes a look at how cosmetics have been used to alter appearance for thousands of years, sometimes exclusively by prostitutes and others deemed disreputable, other times as a political gesture. The suffragettes fought for the right to look and dress as they saw fit, some wearing red lipstick as a symbol of feminine defiance. After the second world war, a shortage of men meant that women tried hard to look as attractive as possible in the hope of getting a husband, and make-up became, Jeffreys argues, "a requirement that women could not escape, rather than a sign of liberation."

She even eschews how women now "do not want their behaviour 'policed by feminism', but wish to enjoy sex with men, wear make-up, and dress in short skirts and high heels without feeling they are betraying feminism." For her, the battle is not just political but also personal. She stopped dyeing her hair a certain shade, cut it, and then decided to become a lesbian as a political stance.

But Jeffreys has always been viewed as an extreme feminist, such that even pornographers have even named a sex toy after her: The Sheila: A Spinster's Best Friend.

Now that's really hardcore.

Sunday, July 3

The absence of urban literature

Now if the Philippines has a surplus of buangst literature, the Chinese are suffering from the opposite: the lack of urban themes in their writing.

Chinese critics have noted that their literature is still majorly influenced by agrarian themes and their writers are more familiar with rural subjects, making them unable to portray the delicacies of urban living. The reason for all these, some say, is that Chinese cities had undergone major changes in the last two decades.

The Xinhua newspaper reported:
Critic Li Jingze asserted that both theorists and writers should rethink their limited literary thinking. Writers born after the late 1970s were grappling with complicated urban experiences, whereas critics had no idea what they were talking about or why, said Li.

[D]epictions of the lives of doctors or lawyers should be much more complex and insightful regarding contemporary life than continual depictions of farmers, and should also require more dedicated research. (Highlights mine) However, most mainstream Chinese writers and critics, coming from the countryside themselves, still focused themselves on rural subjects despite the fact that the urban experience had become a major element of China's contemporary culture.
If the Pinoy writers are fixated on buangst writing, then the Chinese seem to be overdosing on their rural lit, forever mining the glorious Mao era and forgetting that it's all about the shopping malls now. And given that their writers are just about my age but they're all writing about farmers, that's just like, whoa. (Excuse the airhead, I just woke up, no coffee yet.) What struck me most about that article is their dedication to research. I was reminded of this Time magazine article about how rural Chinese also see their cities as a place paved with gold. The Time writers followed this teenage girl, from pagluwas sa probinsya to life in the big city and back to the villages again. I swear, it's just like our own people.

So maybe we should do as the Chinese and let's take to writing rural fiction for a while, and let the Chinese do as we do. Maybe make all those who want to be writers enroll in a creative writing program. Hee.


In fiction class, my professor lamented about the proliferation of "buangst" stories--a trend wherein the characters, most of them writers and/or creative writing majors, go crazy ("mabuang") after treating the readers to several pages of usually urban or quarter-life induced angst and usually ends with a death (their own, self-induced) or deaths (others, Columbine style).

After dismissing those as unsubstantial fare, the challenge now is to go back to (here we go now) "our roots." Which means reading up on local myths and legends, the neglected epics that nobody really reads unless forced by their CW/Lit teacher, preferably in a language other than Tagalog. This is where we can get our material, she says, so we will produce something that will up the ante of writing and improve our reading culture.

I appreciate the challenge and all, although I'm becoming more and more aware that I have been digging my own grave in this class. (This is what happens to students who write about Sharon and Gabby in a Ph.D. level course.) So I guess this means I'll have to forget writing about elephants appearing in the middle in Edsa (lookie here, a Murakami anti-thesis!), getting stabbed in a jeepney holdup (ooh, see blood spurting from jugular!), and gazing into Courtney Cox's asshole (wala lang).

It'll be back to local culture for me. If push comes to shove and I don't get to finish my research project and don't have enough material, I'll write me another artista story to complete my "Pinoy Loveteams from the '80s" series. Then my professor will be so disappointed and go completely buangst on me. Haha. Wala lang.

Thursday, June 16

What does sex look like?

Leonardo Da Vinci's 'The Coitus'

The Dutch have the answer.

A team of Dutch scientists used Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female genitals during coitus and female sexual arousal. The group also traced other experiments in this field of study, most notably, that of Leonardo Da Vinci, whose drawing "The Copulation" showed that semen in males comes from the brain and goes down the spine. Sort of gives you confirmation about how certain parts of the population think. Feh.

But really now, the Dutch, they really know how to do a really cool science project.

Wednesday, June 15

Feminist Fairy tales

Last week in fiction class, we read (or rather, the teacher read for us) selections from Barbara Walker's "Feminist Fairy Tales." Walker is convinced that "in the beginning, classical fairy tales show little respect for women, except as young and beautiful 'princesses.'" Their only role was to be decorative, "in the customary female function in these old stories. Girls without beauty are automatically also without virtue, happiness, luck or love."

Thus, Walker's purpose in rewriting the said narratives is "to elevate the role of the women in the fairy tale to a stronger, more independent one, capable of leaving for fixing her unhappy position, usually at the hands of abusive men." But unlike satirists who poke fun at the situation, Walker is is described as a 'humerlus' person, totally devoid of humor.

I also found totally unrelated stuff for my fiction class homework, but all I found was this: A post-colonial canonical and cultural revision of Conan Doyle's Holmes narratives and this.

I'm still at a loss what to do with the homework, although I have the idea that I want to put together Megastar Ate Shawie, Gabby Concepcion, Magick Sing and Aegis' "Basang-basa sa Ulan." Ate Shawie, who has everything but used to be unhappy in love and luckless when it comes to men, makes up for everything by earning tons in her endorsements. She did her time at the hands of abusive men. So I want her to totally get over it and kick some abusive male ass.

If not that, I'm tempted to put together Ate Vi and the legend of sampalok. Tapos puro krompalan scenes lang ever. Wala lang. I--actually me and Yummy--have decided to cast ourselves as the class' resident airheads. Just to continue what we have established in our first day of class last week: We arrived late, and gave totally blah answers to the question, "Why do you write?" Our CW10 kids would have given better answers. Feh.

UPDATE: I decided to go with the Sharon and Gabby thing. I totally horsed around, and I almost shriveled when the teacher picked my homework to be read out loud first. While I thought that it would just be submitted and she'd read it as an exercise, the whole class actually had to critique it. As in give it a reading, ladida, the works. And Yummy gave a totally airhead answer: "It was funny! I liked it!" Go, airheads! Heehee.