Monday, November 26

How to lose ten pounds

This girl complained of stomach pains and when the doctors opened her up, they found a ten pound hairball. It was a mass of black, curly hair, and measured 15 inches by 7 inches by 7 inches, the doctors said. Turns out she has a condition known as trichophagia, a compulsion to eat one's own hair.

Ten pounds is exactly the amount of weight I wish to shed, but not this way. Gah.

Thursday, November 22

Badger Sleep Balm

It's two in the morning, it's raining steadily and I'm still wide awake. This is perfect blanket weather, and it makes me wish that I should have checked this out at the mall before I went home the other day:

A dreamy night balm rich with precious oils to calm, encourage, cheer and relax poetic badgers and other restless wanderers. Just rub a little balm under nose, on lips, on temples or other pulse points. Or use the oil for after-bath moisturizing or soothing massage. The aroma does the work. Rosemary is the traditional herb for clear thinking, confidence, and memory. Bergamot is mentally uplifting. Ginger is strengthening and confidence-inducing. Balsam Fir is refreshing, like a walk in the woods. Lavender is the traditional sleep herb; fresh and relaxing. But Sleep Balm doesn't make you sleepy! It helps quiet your thoughts, then you fall asleep naturally.

My Sleepytime Tea hasn't been working well for me the last few weeks again. Even the supposedly "calming" body wash used to do the trick, but not right now. So while I was out with friends last weekend, we stayed almost the entire time in a coffee shop, talking and flipping through magazines. There was an article on how to sleep better and I saw this product there.

The Bedtime soap bar also seems interesting. Their website has a few testimonials from insomniacs and call me a sucker for advertising, but I would want to try this out. I distinctly remember seeing some Badger products in Rustans. I might not even wait for Christmas for this.

Kawaii in a box

I was looking at bento boxes when I saw this:

Here's the full description: "A great two-tiered bento set with bottom lid and chopsticks featuring Totoro from the wildly popular My Neighbor Totoro anime. This is a very well made sealing bento that will fit nicely into your bag or compartmentalized lifestyle because of its handy vertical arrangement. Includes elastic strap for keeping your sauces and surrounding stainables safe from leakage. Awwwwingly cute with two 3D Totoros on the front, and of course the effervescent soot sprites. Approximately 3 inches by 3.5 inches. Microwave safe!"

Three inches! $24 para sa lalagyan ng Dewberry ito.

But, no, kahit nagrereklamo sa kamahalan ang lola, may I look pa rin at the other products. Candidate sa usefulness ito:

Maliit pa rin at 5.5 by 3.5 inches. Para kang kumain ng second to the smallest sized index card.

Like, I totally dig this more understated one:

Might be the aluminum. At any rate, $18 is still a huge amount to pay for a lunch box. So this remains in my wants, but not necessarily needs list.

But while looking at that website, I came across something almost inexplicable:

It's not just oil blot paper, it's the Hello Kitty Oil Absorption Paper *Gem*:
Sanrio helps you maintain your peak and shiny cuteness with these Hello Kitty Oil Absorption Paper sheets -- because, after all, how can you be cute when your face is all oily? A popular Japanese health care product, Aburatori Gami (literally "Oil-Taking Paper"), are commonly sold in convenience stores. An essential cuteness care item. 50 sheets. Easily fits into any bag or purse for your convenience. This purchase is for the pack with an illustration of Kitty-chan with gems in the background.

Sa halagang $3, puwede mo nang punasan ang anumang mantikang inilabas sa mukha mo ng kinain mo. O di ba bongga? Kasi yan lang talaga ang rason na naisip ko kung bakit kasama yan sa webpage na puro lunch boxes. Feeling ko nga naligaw ito, dapat pang-Hello Kitty Hell siya.

Monday, November 19

My So-Called Influences

The question I dread the most in creative writing classes is that eventually you get asked, "So who were your influences?" I made a complete rat of myself last Saturday morning with such an earnest and rambling response. I totally forgot to list down My So-Called Life.

And oh, I read in an article that Alicia Silverstone almost played Angela Chase. That would have been totally wrong. I liked Alicia Silverstone, but My So-Called Life trumps Clueless any day in my book. People just want to murder Claire Danes now, but if there's one thing she got right, it's how to play an insecure and in love teenager from the mid-90s.

I mean, I can live in a deserted island without Gatsby and Great Expectations if I have in my possession the complete series DVD of My So-Called Life. Six discs, 19 episodes, 1110 minutes. With audio commentary on six episodes. Plus a behind the scenes docu, My So-Called Life Story. And Amazon is selling it for $49.99. Can you say Christmas wishlist? I can totally live without the previous DVD set with the lunch box, thank you. If there's one thing you'll buy for me on Amazon, this is it. Go now, go!

Sunday, November 18

How to Win a National Book Award

According to New York Magazine, this is how you can win the Oscars of the publishing world in five easy steps:

1. Don't be a young debut novelist
2. Do Aim for World-Historical Significance
3. Don't Write Short Stories
4. Do Be a Literary Insider
5. Do Expand Your Demo(graphic)

I haven't read it yet, but this year's front runner and eventual winner is Denis Johnson for Tree of Smoke, a Vietnam War novel. Everyone expected him to win anyway, as he got 3 of the 5 easy steps. I had read a couple of his short stories anthologized in Best of collections, and Jesus' Son sounds interesting.

Thursday, November 15

Moore on Polanski

Tangentially related to the previous Ira Levin post, an unearthed article from the New York Times archive, from the Watching Movies With series. This one features Julianne Moore on Rosemary's Baby, as directed by Roman Polanski, and on how he balances horror from the mundane and comedy:

"Polanski keeps yanking us back and forth between cheerful and frightened. You keep getting these little dabs of comedy, all the way through. Ruth Gordon and the other neighbors are basically played for comic effect. That's how the horror is introduced in this movie, as comedy. It's never the dominant tone, but it's there. It's like in 'Macbeth,' you know? Somehow it makes the horror even more horrible."

Also from the same 2001 series, Woody Allen on Shane.

Wednesday, November 14

Ira Levin, R.I.P.

Ira Levin, author of Rosemary's Baby and Stepford Wives, passed away at 78. For some reason, I feel this more than Norman Mailer's passing. Admittedly, Mailer was more entertaining to watch, but I was bored to tears trying to read his work. Meanwhile, I read and watched most of Levin's works.

Levin himself was never really bothered that he wasn't considered a heavy weight literary novelist in his time. Some critics also confined his work to genre: "Combining elements of several genres — mystery, Gothic horror, science fiction and the techno-thriller — Mr. Levin’s novels conjured up a world full of quietly looming menace, in which anything could happen to anyone at any time. In short, the Ira Levin universe was a great deal like the real one, only more so: more starkly terrifying, more exquisitely mundane."

He did that quite effectively, I think. So much so that he was able to really infiltrate popular imagination. What he wasn't thrilled about was the upsurge of Satanism that seemed to occupy popular culture since Mia Farrow spawned the devil's son. But given that, I'd think he was amused that "Stepford" is now used as an adjective. At least I use it. He didn't ask me for any royalties though.

Tuesday, November 13

Ladlad 3 invitation

Ladlad 3 invitation
Originally uploaded by xkg
My creative nonfiction professor J. Neil Garcia just handed me an invite to the launch of the almost mythical third installation in the Ladlad series. Grabe. As in undergrad pa lang ako lagi nilang sinasabing lalabas na ang librong iyan.

Note the merman with wings on the book cover*. Neil says that if that cover isn't enough to lure people to the launch, he doesn't know what will. How about free food? Hahaha.

Anyway, Ladlad 3 book launch will be on 1 December 2007, 5 to 7pm, Bestsellers Ortigas, 4/F Robinsons Galleria.

*If you'd look closely at the envelope beside the invite, the writing says "Jessel and Friends," tapos may drawing ng heart. Parang "Lotlot and Friends" di ba? So 80s! Hahaha.

Sunday, November 11


William Shakespeare

If music be the kantogirl of love, play on.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Tuesday, November 6

The Mindset List

For the last ten years, Benoit College in Wisconsin hands out what they call "The Mindset List," which not only gives the faculty and staff a whiff of that mortal coil, but it also gives gives them an idea of the student body's perspective.

I think the list is a great indication of culture--the things we use everyday, material and very tangible, i.e., "You can always take the MRT to Makati to avoid traffic." Or, "It's hot/I'm bored, let's go to the mall." There's also how we organize ourselves into our own little tribes, i.e., "What's the need for a stamp when there's always e-mail? Or better yet, everyone is just a text away or I can always look them up in Friendster Facebook/Multiply/MySpace." One can also take into consideration the various ways we celebrate and amuse ourselves: "I don't like this guy's moustache, let's start a massive campaign to vote him off the show."

When I started teaching, Friendster was just starting and it was a hip new thing. I was only a few years ahead of my students, and I was able to pass myself off as one on the first day of class. Last March, the first bunch of kids I had in class graduated. They're about as old as the clothing brand Bench, born the year the first EDSA happened. But as you go along, it becomes more and more difficult to engage people. Cultural references during discussion just fly over their heads and you get eyes glazed with boredom and incomprehension. In a few days, I'll be off again to meet a bunch of kids for whom the Internet has always been there and music is something you download. The Eraserheads and the Apo Hiking Society only existed in tribute and best of albums. Water is something you buy in a bottle. Research means typing something up in the Google search bar.

I wonder how much different this is from the time I was in college, when Martial Law really was something you just read in history books. The divide between generations has always been there. It's not just a matter of technology becoming obsolete. Heck, I wrote my papers in a typewriter, complete with white correction fluid. I lived, my professors lived through it, albeit shaking his head with disappointment at some girls who thought that Les Miserables has always been on Broadway and Lea Salonga was in it and that The Little Prince was something that you could quote in a beauty contest. For that, he made us read the unabridged version by Victor Hugo AND suffer through an oral exam on Antoine L'Exupery. He must have known that we thought him an old fogey. And he was, anyway.

Sooner rather than later, you will become obsolete, a fossilized relic from another era. It's one thing to come inside the classroom armed with this bits of knowledge. But how will it help, really?

Sabi nga ni Captain Planet, knowing is just half the battle.

The other half siguro, you just drink na lang.

Sunday, November 4

The Old Blue

“Girl Meets Boy,” Ali Smith’s modern retelling of Ovid’s Iphis myth, appears in The Guardian. An excerpt:

“I had simply never found anyone so right. Sometimes this shocked me so much that I was unable to speak. Sometimes when I looked at her, I had to look away. Already she was like no one else to me. Already I was fearful she would go. I was used to people being snatched away. I was used to the changes that came out of the blue. The old blue, that is. The blue that belonged to the old spectrum.”


Bento #1 comes from

School's just about a shuteye away, and I've started thinking about what to eat for lunch in school. Just Bento seems to offer the perfect solution for me--to satisfy hunger, save a bit, AND lose weight. Maki clarifies that you don't need the pretty lacquered boxes from Japan to make yourself one: "Bento, or obento to use the honorific term, is a meal served in a box. Beyond that basic definition though, just about anything goes as to what kind of box or container is used, as well as what is put inside that box."

She also offers a handy tip how to choose the right lunch box, especially if you aim to watch what you eat: "Generally speaking, for a tightly packed Japanese-style bento, the number of milliliters (ml) that a box can hold corresponds roughly to the number of calories it holds. This is why so many Japanese bento boxes, in particular the cute ones with anime characters and things on them, are tiny - they’re meant to be used by kids and young girls on perpetual diets." Even your basic white plastic, non-leak container will do. Unless, of course, you're under 7 years old, it'll be wise to stay away from fancy bento boxes.

That said, I'm eyeing her Bento box #1, which has deep fried tofu with green onions and oyster sauce, a quail egg, and some blanched green beans and carrots. Simple and filling. Very pretty, too.