Sunday, December 28, 2008

Vamp revamp: Stephenie Meyer's Twilight

Vampires are fascinating, at least in literature and film (Bram Stoker's Dracula, Nosferatu, Interview with a Vampire). It is a pity that Stephenie Meyer had to write about them and that it has to be adapted to film. Here's why:

1. The Twilight series do not offer something new. Okay, so Edward and his family play baseball whenever a thunderstorm is in town, but I'm afraid my little sister could come up with something like that. Vegetarian vampires (an oxymoron) aren't also exactly what you'd call new. Consider The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris (2001) which was made by HBO in 2007 into the hit series, True Blood. Twilight's only claim to originality perhaps would be its attempt to wed RL Stine and Sweet Valley High, which explains most of the hype.

2. The vampires' special powers (Edward's acute sense of hearing people's thoughts, Alice's clairvoyance) calls Heroes into mind. Never mind that Meyer's first book, Twilight, was first published in 2005 while Heroes premiered in 2006. It could only mean that Meyer traveled into the future to borrow ideas from the critically acclaimed TV series.

3. You could skip a few pages (or scenes, in the movie) and you wouldn't miss a lot. But then again we're dealing with something that panders to American preteens. It could be a great story. I only wish Meyer had been talented enough to tell it. I remember a review snippet on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy which says fans of Middle Earth do not adore Tolkien but his many gifts in showing Middle Earth to those who haven't been there.

4. The book is written in Bella's point of view. Which is fine, only I feel sorry for Bella's character, because there's too little said about her. I have only read the first book, and I know that if I want to find out more about Bella, I need to read the other books in the series. But I just am not curious enough to read more because Bella can be summed up in two words: "Edward's girlfriend."

5. Finally, if one is fond of witticisms in dialogues, one would be better off with Mean Girls ("One time, Regina George punched me in the face. It was awesome!"). There is a one-liner in Twilight that I haven't yet come around into liking: "I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Edward Cullen." Ho-hum. Perhaps one of my friends was correct in saying I do not own a heart.

I'm sure I missed more reasons why vampires might feel slighted by Twilight, but I leave that to Meyer's other, more passionate critics. I have a book to finish.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

BBC's Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Directed by: David Blair (The Street, Giselle-Adam)
Written by: David Nicholls (Much Ado About Nothing, And When Did You Last See Your Father?)

James Bond girl Gemma Arterton (Quantum Of Solace, St Trinian's; above) is Tess in this 4-million-euro BBC serial which started last September, heralding (in the words of Sally William of the Telegraph) "a new generation of Thomas Hardy adaptations."

I wasn't really a fan of period films, despite the encouraging efforts of my senior highschool English teacher, who was obsessed with 19th century England and the World Wars. Until recently. It began with BBC's The Other Boleyn Girl, which I saw at first because of the costumes and Natalie Portman, and because Eric Bana has always ranked high in my list of beautiful men. And then Becoming Jane, because it stars James McAvoy. And then The Girl With the Pearl Earring, because I loved Colin Firth in Love Actually.

But I guess I look forward to see Tess not because of the finery (though the costumes were splendidly accurate) or the male actors (though Eddie Redmayne as Angel Clare sure looks dashing; above). I'll be waiting for the serial film to hit the Philippines because I want to see that brilliant flashback scene at the end, where Tess and Angel are at the Stonehenge, and they could see from afar the police advancing towards them. It is sunset.

"What is it Angel?" Tess says. "Have they come for me?" Then after that part when Tess solemnly whispers to Clare that she is ready, the scene fades to black and fades back into that scene with Tess dancing on a cliff with the Marlott girls.

But this time when Angel Clare passes by and gets asked by the girls to dance, his eyes fall upon Tess, who smiles at him. 'May I?' Angel asks. Then Tess laughs with delight. The Stonehenge scene is my favorite part of the book, but this ingenious flashback scene is disarmingly heartbreaking. I mean, Angel Clare could have saved Tess (and himself) a lot of trouble, if he had not been such a dork and asked Tess to dance that fateful day. I'm someone who worries endlessly about what-ifs.

sources and photo credits:

This Blog's FINAL VERSION is still under renovation

Friday, December 26, 2008

Contemplathings XI

1. the sweet feeling of finally having patched things up with mom
2. whether I closed my windows when I left my apartment yesterday or not
3. a super-post on Natalie Portman flicks
4. why I can't add Shelfari as a widget
5. mermaidman and barnacleboy, and why things will never be the same again

Friday, December 19, 2008

O, tatayo yata 'to!

Palindromes are so silly you cant get enough of them ("No, sir, away! A papaya war is on!" and "Yo, banana, boy!"). But I didn't know tagalog palindromes are delightfully sillier. I chanced upon these on the net while I was looking for some catchy phrase I could use as a blog URL. Check them out:

"Ano ka ba? Ako na!"
"Okra ba? Barko?"
"Paspas, sapsap."
"Aba, lata sa talaba."
"Ani Tatay: nasa bayabasan yata, Tina."
"Sila, aalis."
"Para sa mansanas na masarap."
"Okay ako."
"O, tatayo yata 'to!"

It gets even sillier when these are translated to English:

"Hey, my turn!"
"Is it an okra? A ship?"
"Faster, slipmouth fish!"
"Oh, a can in the oyster."
"Father said: it might be in the guava fields, Tina."
"They will leave."
"For a delicious apple."
"Will trumpet!"
"I'm fine."
"Hey, this might stand up!"

Anyone know any more funny palindromes?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Random Desires

Nothing beats Christmastime when it comes to exciting hopes and desires. And it certainly doesn't hurt to desire worldy things especially when you've just received your 13th month pay; heck, for the first time of the year, I have dough that's not meant for the bills. Unless I spend everything on a getaway vacation to Seychelles, I think I am more or less inclined to splurge on any of the following:

1. A Nikon D40 DSLR

Back when I was still writing news for the Philipine Collegian, I had always secretly envied our photographers. Not only because deadlines mean little to them (they tinker with their photos with Adobe photoshop for most of the press time, then write the caption at the last minute).

But also because they are all awfully good at what they're doing; they have to be, unless they screw up at that precise instant a moment has to be captured in print.

So I'm getting a camera. If only for the opportunity to have a bulkily impressive SLR slung around my neck and pose as someone who's awfully good at what he's doing.The Nikon D40 looks fine for me, cheap (P21,000+) and good enough (6 mp) for a beginner.

2. A new electronic keyboard

I can only play three complete pieces on the piano, but I intend to learn more. I know, right. I have this inexpensive keyboard at my mom's house but I don't want to relocate it to my apartment, just in case my siblings have a fit and decide they want to learn playing.

So I'm looking into getting a new keyboard I can have at my own place. There's this cool Casio at Metro Market! Market! and it fits perfectly into my budget (P9999).

I already know where to put it, just beside the window.

3. A violin set

One of the reasons why I want to be more than a mediocre pianist is because music is supposed to be therapeutic--and I need therapy, for more than one reason.

As for time for practicing, I have heaps. There is one little hiccup, though--I am always somewhere else. And I can hardly bring my keyboard wherever I go. So I think a violin might be a good thing, since I can handle music sheets already anyway, and I've been hearing you don't need a life-changing character shift if you used to play piano.

There's something I found on Ebay that's worth around P4000, and the seller accepts PayPal, but I'm a little bit uncertain as to whether the instrument is made of wood or plastic.

Right now, I'm inclined towards the camera, since I've never owned one before. Though I'm sure once the novelty wears off, I'll be soon pining for something else. But I can worry about that later.

To end on a self-gratifying note, I quote from this lovely cafe scene in Before Sunset, one of the most beautiful films I know.

Ethan Hawke: You know, to be in the moment, and I just feel like I'm... designed to be slightly dissatisfied with everything... You know, I satisfy one desire, and it just... agitates another, you know? I mean, do you think it's true that if... if we never wanted anything, we'd never be unhappy?

Julia Delpy: I don't know... Not wanting anything, isn't that... a symptom of depression? Yeah, that is, right? I mean, it's healthy to desire, right?

Oui, Julia. You smoke like an incinerator and you used to have huge arms, but I will marry you any day. Please give me a ring.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Contemplathings X

1. mermaidman
2. how he sweats a lot when he's angry
3. enrolment at school
4. mermaidman
5. my "birthday project"
6. pork and beans for lunch?
7. what to wear to work for tonight
8. toilet caddies
9. mermaidman
10. being barnacleboy to mermaidman

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Pure Woman, Fatefully Presented

When my high school English teacher first recommended to me Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, it was only because she thought I would love the Trantridge "sex scene." She had so much faith that I would finish it in one sitting so that she could finally have someone to talk it over with.

In a public school such as ours, which is best known as being named after Kris Aquino's father, I was considered a bit of a book geek. But at the time Mrs. Nuguid pressed Tess into my hands, I had already started my romance with JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling. I kept the book, and it gathered dust on my shelf.

Four years later (which is a week ago), I was to move out to my own apartment. I had no TV, no radio, and naturally, since I was alone, I was bored to bits. And then I realized I still have Tess. Yosi in hand, I started reading the book.

Hardy is considered the master of tragic novels, as Shakespeare is to tragic dramas. Tess Durbeyfield, a handsome peasant girl, finds out she is a descendant of the ancient line of d'Urbervilles, a long-forgotten, once-powerful clan. Tess's mother then sends her to the remaining d'Urbervilles in Trantridge to claim ties, with the hopes of securing for her a "profitable marriage" with perhaps one of her cousins. Tess's story unfolds, towards her ultimate destruction.

I wish I could share insights into the book's brilliant arguments about pagan morality and the hypocrisy of the prevalent Christian tenets at Hardy's time, but when you have been a call center thrall for more than a year, parrotting the same lines over the phone again and again, day after after tedious day, you tend to lose not only your sanity but your originality as well. Of course, it's a petty excuse. Big smile.

Unless I appear trying hard too much, I'll just say I enjoyed the narrrative, the cliffhangers, the foreshadowings. I have always admired good storytellers, and abhorred those who murder otherwise interesting stories by screwing up the narration.

But the novel's main delight remains Tess, however superb the telling of her story is. She gains your sympathy and pity, yet you cant wholly accuse her of being just another damsel in distress. In her own words, she is someone who accepts her fate as the fruit of her own actions.

It's just a shame that Tess of the d'Urbervilles isn't usually on high school reading lists (owing perhaps to its dissenting views on Christian morality); but then again high school reading lists are just high school reading lists, at least in the case of substandard high schools.

I was surprised though that Tess would make a cameo appearance in that Sharon movie "Caregiver," which is of course just another Sharon movie. It was the book Sharon would choose when her English employer asks her to read to him something out of his bookshelf. You would of course wait patiently for an explanation why of all books, the director would choose Tess to appear in the movie. The eventual reappearance of the book at the end of the film is a tearjerker, provided you do not claim to be above such things, but if you were waiting for a more epiphanic realization of the book's significance in the movie, I am afraid you will be disappointed.

Then again, Hardy's Tess had been both popular but always misunderstood from the first day it was published.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Amateur Party Animal's Complete Guide to Survival

[Lessons from last night (and two previous others), the complete and unabridged edition]

The Amateur Party Animal's Complete Guide to Survival

Part I. How to Dance

If you are gifted with physical coordination, please do not read further; you have salvation. For the lesser beings, such as me, try the following:

1. Jerk your shoulders, not unlike an epileptic having a bout of fits. Do not be concerned about how stupid you'd look; the thing is to feign motion.

2. Pretend someone is texting you loads. This will give you reason to check your phone every 2.75 minutes and be immobile for an extended period of time.

3. Do NOT dance with somebody. It will only lead to embarrassment.

4. When you have exhausted every humanly possible way of jerking your shoulders, rest. You can also pretend that you are afflicted with an advanced case of UTI; visit the rest room every millisecond of the night.

Part II. How to drink

If you can pull it off, pretend that you are a Mormon, so you can pass on the alcohol. If you cant, bear these in mind:

1. A glass of cocktail is sipped (unfortunate pun), a bottle of beer is downed in a few gulps.

2. Do NOT ask if they serve Cali.

3. Do NOT attempt to order strangely named concoctions. You are an amateur and must be aware of your gastronomic limits.

4. Yosi goes along well with alcohol.

Part III. How to meet people

1. Randomly ask people about the time. Or where the rest room is. Or if they know Karl Marx. Or if they can spell burgeoisie. Or if they own a Stradivarius violin. Go figure if I'm kidding.

2. While in the mosh pit, deliberately step on people's feet. Hopefully, someone will wail in pain and punch you straight in the face.

3. Stare at people until they feel like paramecium under the microsope. If they smile, you're good. If they call management and the guard, run for dear life.

For more useless tips on how to survive the party jungle, await the rejoinder!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

[at the smoking lounge]
Me: Hello there, how are you?
Victim #1: Hi, not too bad!
Me: What's that on your face, lipstick?
Victim #1: Huh? Saan?
Me: There on your left cheek.
Victim #1: Really? ba't di mo sinabi agad?
Me: Wipe it away now, dali.
Victim #1: (wipes her cheek with her hankie, then looks at the hankie) Wala naman ah.
Me: Well, Happy April Fools.
Victim #1: (flashes me a bloddcurdling look) Oh you go to hell.

[at the stations]
Me: Hey, how's everything?
Victim #2: Not too bad, I had worse days, haha!
Me: What happened to your eye?
Victim #2: Puyat lang.
Me: No, it's just your left eye. Parang kinagat ng insekto, namamaga kaya.
Victim #2: Hala, talaga... (grabs the mirror on her desk) Hindi naman a...
Me: Look closer.
Victim #2: Hindi naman e... (by now very worried)
Me: Have I greeted you happy April Fools already?
Victim #2: Oh f*ck you!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Contemplathings IX

1. log-out time at work
2. to-do lists and their waning influence on me
3. Melane, Batangas
4. going back to school, Biology
5. to apply or not to apply for a promotion
6. Beren and Luthien (The Silmarillion)
7. hotdogs and instant pancit canton
8. Clean & Clear oil control films

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm 10:02?

(link, courtesy of Kat,

You are 10:02 a.m.

You are breakfasty, like a pile of pancakes on a Sunday morning that have just the right amount of syrup, so every bite is sweet perfection and not a soppy mess. You are a glass of orange juice that's cool, refreshing, and not overly pulpy. You are the time of day that's just right for turning the pages of a newspaper, flipping through channels, or clicking around online to get a sense of how the world changed during the night. You don't want to stumble sleepily through life, so you make a real effort to wake your brain up and get it thinking. You feel inspired to accomplish things (whether it's checking something off your to-do list or changing the world), but there's plenty of time for making things happen later in the day. First, pancakes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Puerto Galera, dabbling in photography

Sometimes, I am a frustrated poet, but most of the time, I am a frustrated photographer. I love a poem's bare beauty, tightness. But I adore the wordless speech of pictures.

Last weekend, when I went to Puerto Galera with my office mates, I borrowed a camera from a family friend and dabbled in photography. Doing tricks with a different knife
can be fun, I guess. I only hope not all my attempts were lame.

The resort where we went to goes by the name "White Beach," a misnomer, an advertising ruse, but the place was considerably clean and the water clear. There was no entrance fee. Beggars can't be choosers.

Not really white, but white enough

I know, I know, the horizon should be parallel with
the bottom edge of the photo. Will do better next time, hehe

Random shots. A river that runs to the sea and a... big... rocky cliff. LOL.

It's an understatement to say there are so many stray dogs
in Galera. Locals told me they used to belong to
who wittingly or unwittingly left without them. These two
on the photo were fierce and would not let me go any nearer

This one (above), however, appeared to have liked me so much
that all throughout the day, he followed me wherever I went.
When I left the next day, I looked for him and said good bye.
I forgot to ask him how old he is

I have a handful more photos but Blogger isn't Multiply (which I don't have), so I just uploaded the others in my Friendster albums:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A farm, a zoo, and TELUS

Yesterday, when jeep drivers and operators launched a nationwide strike, in protest against the refusal of Metro Manila mayors to initiate a single ticketing system, TELUS had this bright idea of offering shuttle service to us employees. Not that I would need it, since I only live 10 minutes away from our office, but when you know your company cares about you, it's not such a bad feeling at all.

Still, I hate to report that good employers can sometimes be bad at metaphors, most especially at times when a metaphor is hardly called for; the service shuttles all had signages plastered at their sides. They read: "TELUS Noah's Ark." TELUS commercials are ingenious, but animal analogy can only go as far.

I get the idea that the signage originally signified the company's willingness to help its flock. But I can't help thinking about the fact that Noah saved the animals so that after the Flood, they could procreate and replenish the earth with life again. From there, you could just as easily jump from comparing TELUS with a zoo to comparing TELUS with a farm. Mooooooooo!

And I am not sure but isn't there something replusive about being inside a van with a tarp shouting "Noah's Ark"?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Relearning surgery, knife-tricks

After many months, I was able to write a sudden short story, though by no means would I say it's well written. Well sometimes, when it's such a long time you have handled a knife, you tend forget the right grip.

I would like to believe that as with anything, surgery can be relearned. For the three faithful readers of this famous blog, I post my literary attempts at another blog:

Monday, March 03, 2008

Contemplathings VIII

1. "falling right through the cracks"
2. nicotine

3. Abby

4. fraternity hazings

5. Larissa Mae Suarez, the next Philippine Collegian editor-in-chief

6. Baguio

7. Rodrigo Santoro and Laura Linney in Love Actually