Saturday, October 20

Stein and social status

Joel Stein's essay in Time looks at online social networking. Nothing new, and there was a similar essay in Slate also a few weeks back that targets the same ground. But this time, Stein sort of stratifies the online networking sites. Your online networking tool says a lot about you. Stein claims that Friendster is mostly Asian, hi5 is Eurotrashy and Twitter is for geeks.

Twitter is for geeks? Since when? But then again, I follow a tech update site via Twitter, which then sends me updates at 2 freaking AM. Oh yeah, must be a geeky thing then.

Yun lang naman.

Friday, October 19


I knew it was just a matter of time: presenting the LOLification of T.S. Eliot:

april hates u, makes lilacs, u no can has. (1)
april in ur memoriez, making ur desire.
spring rain in ur dull rootzes.

Tepidmonkey points out that the LOLcat Wasteland sort of misses the point: "There’s just no point to this if there are no pictures of cats to look at. The lolcat pidgin isn’t that interesting in and of itself. Lolcats took off in the first place because everyone likes to pretend that their cat has thoughts and feelings and is trying to talk to them when they meow, and because everyone likes looking at pictures of cute kitties. But this text-only stuff? Do not want."

So somebody was game enough to suggest that perhaps this photo can accompany the text.

But all in all, I found it amusing, and I'm assuming this isn't just an English major thing. It was rather interesting to follow the ensuing comments in the Mefi post as LOLcat grammar was applied to other literary works. But anyhow, consider Proust:

I made you a madeleine.

But I eated it.

There were two Basho haikus, here and here.
Somebody took a stab at Jabberwocky, the Tiger.

But my favorite is William CatLOLs Williams:

OH HAI i saved you a plums, but i eated it,sry

via the always amusing

Sunday, October 14

From My Girl to Soldier's Bride


Because Markmomukhamo insists I'm a fan, might as well. Here's your unsolicited My Girl news of the week/month/year/decade/millenium: Anna Chlumsky is engaged!

She's slated to marry soldier Shaun So, who served in Afghanistan. Since she is Catholic and her fiance is Chinese, the ceremony will be a mixture of both: "My church, Chinese reception." There won't be any bride "kidnapping," but will most likely have a tea ceremony. Both their fathers are chefs and have restaurants, the reception will most likely have a little of both.

The article says there's no chance of Macaulay Culkin attending his erstwhile co-star's wedding, since she doesn't "have his address."

In the weirdest of universal coincidences, when I was reading the papers the other day, I also saw this bit wherein Macaulay Culkin's girlfriend who was on That 70s Show, claimed that Mac is a homebody and is a "terrific cook."

Now I can't be bothered to look up a link for that, so go figure.



When I was first studying drama and screenwriting, Harold Pinter's play (and then movie version) Betrayal has been mentioned again and again as an excellent exercise in crafting memory. And in those heady undergrad days, memory was something unreliable. And it's therefore interesting to see how our own memories get twisted by our own brains.

Aside from memory, structure was also one of the biggest virtues of this piece. If a story unfolds a certain way, there must be a valid reason for it, and not just playing out a technique for technique's sake. Again, this is something that is chalked up to memory as well.

Betrayal tells its story backwards. A man and a woman had an affair. But instead of showing us its genesis first, it shows us the aftermath: the woman and her husband are separating, their marriage irreparable; and the woman's affair with the husband's best friend, which ended years ago, wasn't the only indiscretion in this failed marriage--the husband had his own.

The play was written in the late '70s, and by reading the wiki on Harold Pinter, one is informed that his affair with Lady Antonio Fraser informed him in the writing of this play. But that's beside the point. Affairs in general are frowned upon, whatever time and space one occupies. The topic of marital infidelity is also something that's been written about; and surely, the way the story unfolds is not that novel. Although a number of the sites I read did say that the structure was what made it interesting. We've seen lots of affair stories, and they all tend to be generic at some point. But what saves this is that by telling the story backwards, one gets a sense not just of the effect of the affair on those involved, but how people deliberately leave out things, twist details.

After reading, one gets the idea that Jerry is the one who feels the loss largely. Since the play ends with the time he and Emma first get that stab at intimacy, we are left with a picture of an adoring Jerry. He seems to love Emma more. He tortures himself with trying to place the memory of throwing Emma's little girl in the kitchen--was it his kitchen or theirs? Ultimately, these little details give us the bigger picture.

It's been a long time since playwriting or screenwriting class, and I suppose the excitement over this structure has waned a bit for me. I was expecting something flashy, I suppose. But the play is solid in its structure, very spare, but the richness of the quality of the memories of the characters was something worth following.

This is a real quick read--probably took me over an hour. I got my copy of Betrayal (Book #18) from Booksale for Php70. Not bad on its own, but as part of a P300 splurge on a single afternoon it did help burn a pretty hole in my pocket.

Birthday Stories

Here's a weird one: I first saw and browsed Murakami's Birthday Stories in a bookstore in a strange city on my first trip abroad on my birthday a couple of years ago. That day, I think I only read Murakami's contribution to this feast, "Birthday Girl." It's only now that I read the rest of the stories in the collection. Again, after a weird coincidence: I was cleaning out my shelves in the office and this book dropped on my lap, as though from heaven. I don't remember buying it. But after some asking around, the riddle has been solved. Although I suspect I would have been happier if the book really was mine, a sign of the universe's weird sense of humor.

It's difficult to pick which story is my favorite, because there are several. Russell Banks' "The Moor" has a middle aged man walks inside a bar for a drink with the guys and sees an old lady who looked quite familiar. The woman was celebrating her eightieth. On the way out, one of his chaps joke, "An old girlfriend?" The truth isn't that far.

Old ladies seem to be recurring characters in this collection. There's the woman i n Daniel Lyon's "The Birthday Cake," who didn't want to give out her weekly supply of cake to a young mother who was too busy to buy her little girl a cake. The old mother in Ethan Canin's "Angel of Mercy, Angel of Wrath" called her son in another city to tell him that some birds got in her apartment. She never reminded him, and yet waited for him to remember that it was her birthday. Then there's the three old ladies who attended a little boy's birthday party; one of them told the story of "The Emperor Who Had No Skin."

There were at least two stories which hinted at gayness. In William Trevor's "Timothy's Birthday," a young man sends out the sully youth he now lives with in his place for a birthday lunch with this parents. In Claire Keegan's "Close to the Water's Edge," a nineteen year old Harvard student goes to the fancy Florida digs of her mother's millionaire second husband.

Then there's Raymond Carver's heartwrenching "The Bath" (otherwise known as "A Small, Good Thing" in other editions), where a little boy gets hit by a car and goes on coma on his birthday. And while his parents stand guard over him, a furious baker calls and calls their house for the uncollected birthday cake.

Taken together, the stories almost prove that there's no such thing as a "happy birthday." Although they're not entirely pessimistic either. The world may be a bit bleak, and happiness is fleeting and hard to come by, but it does, and when it does make an appearance, you want to hold on to it as hard as you can.

Got to read Birthday Stories (Book #17) for free: Thanks goes to (1) Kinokuniya Bookstore in Bangkok, and (2) to Booboochichang who apparently left this book in my cluttered shelf some time ago.