Tuesday, November 17, 2009

last post here

Three years is a long time. But to start anew, one must fold, rip, and continue below the dotted line.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

100th Post: Elementary Calculus

There might be a day when I would go back to the comforts of routine, of newspaper stains on my fingers every morning, paydays, taxes, visits to the dentist, monthly bills; a day when I might go back to the monotony of lists and schedules.

There might be a day when I would I would neatly arrange books and DVDs on a shelf, by author and genre; a day when I would put old notebooks into neat labeled boxes and then tie the boxes with a string; a day when I would only remember things I want to remember.

There might be a day when I would buy a suitcase that I would fill with sighs and hopes, that I would abandon in a train, leaving it trapped between the tyranny of clocks and railways.

There might be a day when I would forget to dream while I am awake.

But today isn't that day. And tomorrow is luckily just a word.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

One thing led to another

1. Blogger to Wordpress. I don't know when, how, or why I started to entertain the thought of moving to Wordpress, but I did. Maybe I am just bored with Blogger. Or maybe I am just bored. Period.

I might try it out until the novelty wears off. I have already an account in Wordpress, and I'm experimenting on two blogs. I haven't decided yet which one has the wittier URL.

2. Some Wordpress blogs worth reading. Second Struggle by Kris Canimo, Just (Un)thinking Out Loud by Christian Suller, and Cheap Inspector by Don Sebastian Cifra. Cheap Inspector's entries are especially witty, honest but interesting. Too bad he seems out of the loop now. His last entry was last January.

3. Anger. Christian of Just (Un)thinking Out Loud, a UP Baguio professor, wrote a particularly insightful entry on a mass walk-out he joined in about two months ago. The mobilization was against Charter Change and the proposed Constituent Assembly.

The entry made me stop and think of the last time I was angry. It bothers me that I could not remember. Some people say anger is not entirely unhealthy. Maybe this why I am so skinny.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Age-experience disconnect

I went to two house parties last night and I did not get drunk. I was not in the mood to get drunk. Koji asked me why this morning and I awkwardly fumbled for possible reasons. But I think I now have a suspicion.

I first went to Abby's girlfriend's birthday party, and almost everyone in attendance were either nearing thirty or with kids. They were really very nice, but I kept noticing that I was the only one who was not born during the Martial Law years. Then I went to my highschool classmate's party (she just passed the nursing board exams), and this time, I cannot help but notice that I was the only one among the group who hasn't finished school. They were all raving about their diplomas and laudes.

I didn't piece all of this up together until a few minutes ago, but I wonder no more why I wasn't tempted to pickle myself in vodka and beer last night.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Contemplathings XV

1. Joblessness. It's disgusting how I make fun of the fact that I am both currently unemployed and out-of-school, living a lifestyle that both intrigues and disgusts my friends. Yet I really don't do much about it.

2. The National Artist awards. Why is there even a National Artist award? It is presumptuous and elitist.

3. Iran. I just finished Reading Lolita and Tehran. Some Persian women really are blonde?

4. Vodka and cranberry juice. Oblivious to my protests that I am content with beer, my friend Jay insists that I should try this concoction.

5. Thoughts and ideas I can no longer share here. Whereas I had blogged freely before about past (failed or stunted) romances, prudence dictates that my blog now hardly remains the right venue to talk about the affairs of my, uh, heart. He blogs also.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Contemplathings XIV

1. how I could more effectively repel attacks in Mafia Wars.
2. how I could anonymously delete Facebook "friends."
3. why a lot of people tell me I am insensitive.
4. why I don't tend to follow good advice.
5. why I can be mean, then make rash decisions, then regret it after.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Arroyo admits she has breast implants


***photo credits: Associated Press
***post title linked to reference article

Monday, June 29, 2009

Curiosity very nearly killed this blog

In a bid to be more adventurous with the layout design of this blog, I tinkered with the templates and the HTML and God-knows-what-else. And then when I thought I was done and I wanted a preview, the page wouldn't display. It said something about an invalid xml form.

Good thing, I recovered my old template. I don't know how I did it, but I did. My little adventure cost me the bookshelf picture below my header.

I have learned my lesson. I will never ever ever ever experiment again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Remembering Karen and Sherlyn

I logged in to Facebook earlier and was reminded through Prof. Judy Taguiwalo’s status post that today marks the third year since the forced disappearance of UP student-activists Karen EmpeƱo and Sherlyn Cadapan.

Karen and Sherlyn are active members of the militant groups League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan. They were doing research for their theses when they were abducted by military men on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

A local farmer, Manuel Merino, who was also abducted with Karen and Sherlyn, eventually managed to escape after months of captivity. His testimony in court has confirmed that the AFP is behind the abduction.

I remember being horrified while I first read the blotter reports and eyewitness testimonies, while I interviewed Karen and Sherlyn's families for a news article for the Collegian, while I read Manuel Merino's tales of torture. My horror was rivaled only by my new-found disgust and anger at what the government can do to "neutralise" anyone at the slightest suspicion of being an "insurgent."

I remember being enraged by Jovito Palparan's nonchalant denials of his involvement, because he projects the easy demeanor of someone who is above the law, who can get away with whatever he does.

What has happened since the two disappeared? Writs from the courts have been issued and the high tribunal has ruled that the military is behind the abductions. A UN rapporteur has declared that the government is responsible for orchestrating extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. Human rights groups and other progressive organizations have tirelessly fought in court and in the streets. But like in many other cases of missing, jailed, or murdered activists, it seems as if these otherwise valiant efforts have yet to yield results.

Three years is a long time for waiting. To me, it seemed as if it happened just yesterday, but to the closest friends and family of Karen and Sherlyn, three years must have felt like an eternity. To the mothers of Karen and Sherlyn who have fought relentlessly, who have attended numerous court hearings and protest rallies in the hopes of being reunited with their daughters, it must have been a long, lonely, and painful process.

Three years is a long time. What to do? I guess we don't just wait for justice to be served. We fight for it. Personally, I don't know everything that I could do to help and I suspect I alone could not do much. I could start, though, by saying I have not forgotten. I remember.

(Artwork by Jether Amar)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind (2001)
(La Sombra del Viento)
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
translated by Lucia Graves

Carlos Ruis Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind was a reminder that I read because well-written stories, unlike many things, always tell the truth.

The Shadow of the Wind of course begins with an eerie premise: ten-year-old Daniel comes upon a book by Julian Carax, a shadowy author whose books are nearly all hunted down from bookstores and libraries and then burned by an unknown specter. What follows is a long winding gothic drama that recalls into memory the eclectic themes of Borges, the family histories of Marquez, the bibliophilia and coming-of-age themes of Caldwell and Thomason's The Rule of Four, and the cheesy twists of Thalia's noontime telenovelas.

I'm yet to read another book that could pack in so much thrills in one novel; it's almost like the ultimate perfection of 90s Filipino film making: throw in a bit of melodrama, a bit of action, a bit of romance, a bit of horror, a bit of hilarity, and everyone is made happy. (see Tatay Nic)

The book's publisher says Shadow is the "most successful Spanish novel ever"--in terms of book sales, of course.

Special kudos to my friend who recommended the book to me. Despite your abhorrence of Atwood's huge hairdo, I am beginning to trust your taste. :D

Books in the pipeline:

1. Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and The Road (suggested by the same friend)
2. Jeffrey Eugenides's My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead
3. Anne Enright's 2007 Booker Prize-winning novel The Gathering

Sunday, May 31, 2009


1. Yesterday, I cooked chicken soup enough to feed a small orphanage. I handed over a big bowl to the next door neghbor, but I was still left with a vast amount of the soup that made me think about Africa.

I had to end up forcing everything down my throat, images of scrawny Somalian kids in my head, like a UN PowerPoint presentation. I felt less guilt, though, because I didn't let the food spoil.

I need, no, I wish I can afford my own refrigerator.

2. When I first saw my new apartment, I would hardly call it love at first sight. The walls are dark pink (though the landlady insisted they are lavender), the toilet lacks a flush, and the apartment is a little too conveniently located--aside from a church, a self-help laundry shop, pharmacy, bakery, and water-refilling station a few steps away from my door, there is also a mortuary very, very nearby. Some afternoons, I'll wake up suddenly because a there's a funeral procession, and Hindi kita Malilimutan (I will Never Forget You) is on. It never fails to cheer the spirit.

In the end, I took the apartment because of the cheap rent, the tiled floor, the window looking out into the street, and the double-lock doors. I'll be moving out soon, but in the meantime, I will have to bear with the afternoon dirges.

3. Leon is dying. My plant was doing fine, and then after his fifth flower wilted, he entered a depression phase that rivaled mine. His leaves yellowed and then browned, and he seemed to made up his mind not to bloom again. I thought he was going back in the closet.

Curiously enough, he got over his emotional phase, almost at the same time I got over mine. I asked Leon what made him unhappy, but he wouldn't tell me. Like me, my plant likes to keep things to himself once he's already okay.

Plea for help: My copy of The Hobbit is gone. Gone! I was dusting my books yesterday, and I found out it's gone because I want all my Tolkien books to be arranged beside each other in the shelf. As usual, I might have lent it to someone but I could not remember who. If you're the one who borrowed the book from me, please let me know as soon as possible. A prize awaits you if you text me within the next 24 hours.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back on track

Almost two years ago, I was perfectly fine. I was taking a full load at school, was occasionally writing news for the student paper, was earning a very considerable five-digit salary every other Friday, was managing to read at least one book a weak, and was washing my own laundry. Then I became a bit too naive and tried new things I knew little about. I think I was too confident that I will ace everything I set my mind into doing. I was younger and I was still used to being fairly successful at things I want to do. Of course I was wrong.

There is a scene in the movie Juno where Brenda, Juno's mom, tongue-lashes the "ultrasound technician" who says it's a good thing Juno is giving up the baby for adoption.

"What is your job title exactly," Brenda asks the clueless troglodyte.

"I'm an ultrasound technician, ma'am," says the ultrasound technician.

Then Brenda delivers her knock-out, kick-ass line: "Well, I'm a nail technician and I think it's best we both stick to what we know."

I reckon it's about time I take Bren's cue and stick again to what I know best right now: dividing my spare time into novels and writing desultorily on my blog/s. Then maybe, maybe I'll be perfectly fine again.

PS. I'm sorry about the new photo. I wanted a new picture, but the last phase of my cosmetic surgery isn't done yet.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Questions for Jon Favreau, 27

A few questions, Favs, if you don't mind.

1. Why did you not have a more decent picture in Time 100?
2. Who took that unfortunate Facebook photograph of you and a cardboard Hillary Clinton?
3. I guess you will bump into each other very often now in the White House?
4. Are you aware that a lot of people, blind-googling your name, mistake you for the director of Iron Man? :D
5. What's the real score between you and that Ali Campoverdi?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Of Bedouins, blogging, and boredom

I feel strange: sedated and disinterested, like a bored dairy cow. I have a suspicion that if I wake up and find myself, curiously garbed as a Bedouin, inside a tent in a North African desert, the whole incident would hardly throw me into a fit of panic and surprise. This is a very dangerous thought, of course, but not necessarily entirely undesirable. Nomadic lifestyles have their exotic charm.

I am mildly envious of others here in the blogosphere who always write about something. Someone wrote about suicide (again), one on trade barriers and the bovine epidemic, and another on wasted romance. I am almost tempted to write about the possible connections of all three discourses. But all I could blog about is either my half-done posts or my interminable boredom. Ho-hum.

A blogger wrote about an advice given by a common friend, Melane. I wonder why during these sorts of times in our lives, we always feel inspired to invoke her sagely advice.

She told me more than once before: Pinili mo naman yan.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Of Melissa and Matt, proxies, and Orlando, Florida

Sine my long post on Pullum and Strunk & White, I have attempted (in total) four times already to write a new post. The first attempt is about bookstores and the information elite (nosebleed). The second is about how recession can fight the signs of ageing (see anorexia and fasting). The third is a fearless forecast on the Pacquiao vs Hatton fight (Manny: This will be a battol!).

The fourth is about the new hit series Kambal sa Uma. (Back in highschool, I was able to interview Melissa Ricks when she dropped by in our campus to promote some shows. I asked her if she has any shows in the pipeline, and she said she's been promised a fantaserye. That was of course four years ago; she had to wait for Matt Evans to do away with all that hair. The afro takes up so much camera frame space, rendering kissing scenes impossible to film.)

None of these saw the light of the day. I am a very prolific blogger.


My previous company has a very limited sense of securing its resources: Coffee gluttons plunder the creamer and sugar packets beside the coffee vendo. Vast amounts of handtowels and toilet tissue disappear mysteriously everyday. At the same time, entering the sleeping quarters at any given time gives one an impression that the company has decided to take up the cause of harboring refugees and the homeless. Accessing the internet is also hardly secured against non-work related activities. All you get when you try to go to Youtube is a page with a pair of monkeys warning you that the page is not secure, which you could avoid anyway through a proxy.

Accessing the internet, however, needs a bit of an effort here in my new work, and may require a considerable store of good proxy servers, which one can use alternately. Still, even when I manage to beat "Orlando" and get to my Blogger dashboard through some server located in France, a lot of links and scripts get lost in the process (and sometimes, because of that, I can neither approve nor view comments since the links wont work properly in some second-rate proxies).

I am beginning to suspect that I might need to save for a laptop. It is a hassle to go home to my mom's whenever I want to manage my blogs. Then I can cease being guilty of hogging the company's bandwidth each time I surf the web.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Of Strunk & White and Grammar Wars

Just a few weeks ago, I had to dig my old Strunk & White to check on a possible grammar lapse I've made. I did not know then that April 16 marked the 50th anniversary of the slim grammar guide book. At the end of the day, I could not find my copy, probably because I have lent it to someone; I really must start keeping a log of people who borrow stuff from me. But I'm digressing, and perhaps I should work on cohesion and unity more than grammar and syntax.

So it's the 50th anniversary of William Strunk Jr and EB White's Elements and Style, which came to be commonly and simply called Strunk & White. I believe few would say they're not familiar with the book. Our high school teachers and college English professors consider the book a canon, and I have a suspicion that even the most tenacious grammar nazi secretly reads it.

I got my copy from the Philippine Collegian's editor-in-chief when I was a freshman and newbie news writer. It was one of only two things that I will ever thank him for. I read the book, and I read it still--until of course someone borrowed it from me and managed to forget about returning it.

I was amused then, when I checked my email earlier, to find out that April 16 marks the 50th anniversary of Strunk & White's publication, and that an English professor called Geoffrey K. Pullum couldn't care less. He tells us why in a quite rabid article titled Years of Stupid Grammar Advice, published in The Chronicle Review.

Why we should think twice
One of Pullum's concerns about Strunk & White's popularity is that its authors are hardly qualifed to write about the elements and style of the English language. He says:

"[Both] authors were grammatical incompetents. Strunk had very little analytical understanding of syntax, White even less. Certainly White was a fine writer, but he was not qualified as a grammarian."
Those who read Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web when they were kids, show of hands please?

But even if the authors were qualified, Pullum says they hardly gave any good advice. The Edinburgh professor is far from impressed about the book's suggestions on writing style:

"Some of the recommendations are vapid, like 'Be clear' (how could one disagree?). Some are tautologous, like 'Do not explain too much.' (Explaining too much means explaining more than you should, so of course you shouldn't.) ...
"Even the truly silly advice, like 'Do not inject opinion,' doesn't really do harm. (No force on earth can prevent undergraduates from injecting opinion. And anyway, sometimes that is just what we want from them.) But despite the 'Style' in the title, much in the book relates to grammar, and the advice on that topic does real damage. It is atrocious."
What irks Pullum more, however, is the author's brazen disregard of the very grammar rules that they claim to be correct. He mentions a lot of instances when the book would turn on itself and commit the very same errors that they supposedly warn the reader about, from the surprisingly incorrect examples of sentences in passive voice to the book's unfounded bias against adjectives and adverbs.

I am afraid though that I will have to agree about the majority of his observations and will therefore be more prudent in following the book's grammar rules from now on. But what caught my attention is a warp in Pullum's otherwise clear reasoning. He discredits EB White in particular as a competent grammarian because he is a literary writer, and thus less wary (or aware) about stringent grammar rules. Yet in one of his attacks on one of the book's grammar advice, he uses literary passages as proofs of his reasoning:

"Strunk and White preferred to base their grammar claims on intuition and prejudice rather than established literary usage.

"Consider the explicit instruction: 'With none, use the singular verb when the word means 'no one' or 'not one.' Is this a rule to be trusted? Let's investigate.

" *Try searching the script of Oscar Wilde's
The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) for "none of us." There is one example of it as a subject: "None of us are perfect" (spoken by the learned Dr. Chasuble). It has plural agreement.

" *Download and search Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). It contains no cases of "none of us" with singular-inflected verbs, but one that takes the plural ("I think that none of us were surprised when we were asked to see Mrs. Harker a little before the time of sunset").

" *Examine the text of Lucy Maud Montgomery's popular novel
Anne of Avonlea (1909). There are no singular examples, but one with the plural ('None of us ever do')."
Any one of course could easily reason back that "no one" or "not one" and "none of us" are entirely different phrases and may perhaps take on a singular or plural verb, depending on the context. But I better leave that to the more assiduous. The blogosphere is teeming with language cops.

Why Strunk & White isn't a big fat grammar book
It's interesting to note that Pullum has actually published a grammar book, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge University Press, 2002). I bet my ass it's a big fat grammar book hell-bent on covering almost everyhing essential about English grammar.

Strunk & White, on the other hand, for all its brevity and simplicity, should never be mistaken for a comprehensive grammar book, much less a grammar book for those that are only beginning to take grammar seriously.

Ultimately, I think Strunk & White only works only for those who already have a good, although at times weak, grasp of the essentials of grammar. Its fault lies on its many erroneous grammar edicts and its ambition to be a guide book for anyone and everyone who wants to know the basics of English compositon.

Still, Strunk & White can be saved from total disgrace by its suggestions on style. Pullum says most of the book's advice are uselessly vague and tautological, but to most of those who are earlier acquainted with grammar rules, these uselessly vague and tautological advice are more than enough to remind them of sound writing styles. For example:
"Many are useless [advice], like 'Omit needless words.' (The students who know which words are needless don't need the instruction. ) Even so, it doesn't hurt to lay such well-meant maxims before novice writers."
This is quite confusing logic, since "novice writers" of course can not necessarily discern which words are "needless" and which are not. The advice, maybe unintentionally, would be of much use for those who can criticize themselves and who only needs a reminder to check their composition for possible deadwood.

I want to write more, but I am beginning to feel guilty that I am dedicating a lengthy post on Strunk and White, while I neglected to write about The Hobbit's 70th anniversary in 2007. And of course, I know Strunk and White will always be Strunk and White. And if anything, quite ironically, Pullum's own rants will nudge the book's commemorative edition higher up the bestseller charts. I wont be getting a new copy, though.

Read the bitchy professor's full essay here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Contemplathings XIII

1. My long-overdue Pene tribute. Nobody talks about the Oscars anymore, but a kudos post to someone like Penelope Cruz is perhaps always welcome; I just couldn't find the right mood to write decently and finish my blogpost draft. So I'm typing away randomly instead in an attempt to while away the hot afternoon hours.

2. Friends at the Collegian. I know I should not have reduced myself to being published in Inquirer's Youngblood. But I did, because I was bored, and now I have to live with the fact that Jerrie et al are disappointed with me. There's an unspoken but mutual opinion among them that I took the easiest way to write and get published, which is a polite way of saying I'm cheap. I'm afraid I don't entirely disagree. Lesson learned: do not ever do things out of mere boredom.

3. Last Order sa Penguin, by Chris Martinez. I just reread this Palanca-winning play, and I hope a theater house thinks about doing it onstage again. We could all certainly use a good laugh.

4. Rurouni Kenshin. I have liked anime well enough before, but when Naruto and a slew of other crass anime shows came into the picture, I lost my eagerness to watch more. I decided to watch Rorouni Kenshin (Samurai X) on DVD these past few weeks, and found out it was quite historically accurate to Japan's Bakumatsu period. Some even say most of the characters were patterned after real Shinsengumi members. I religiously followed the TV series back in high school, but I have never given much thought about it.

After I'm done with Rurouni, I'll hunt next for a copy of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Also back in high school when I was following the series on national TV, I always thought Rei is hot. And then I started noticing Shinji is hot, too. LOL.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Declaration of bankruptcy

I will be incommunicado thru SMS for the rest of the week. The current financial crisis is global. Please send me messages thru GMail (the one in my blog profile), Yahoomail, or UP Webmail.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

To Do

Two whole boring rest days prompted me to reacquaint myself with my teenage era icon Jessica Z. Before she resigned herself to writing a column for a daily with a notoriously hideous layout, she had far better days. And when she frequently alluded to her three faithful readers back when she was still with the old Today, I swear she might be referring to Victor. Now look at what she did to me.

In any case, I opened my old Twisted books and browsing through them, I added a few items on my to-do list.

1. STORE BOOKS IN OLD SHOE BOXES; it prevents them from being dented. A pretty useful suggestion for me since all my books could not fit into the new bookshelf I bought. Jessica said she learned this helpful tip from Teddy Locsin, who also mentored her on the many better ways of covering books in plastic, without even using adhesive tape.

2. GO EAT AT MASUKI. Ever pined for old Ma Mon Luk where your folks often treat you with heavenly mami and siopao? Pine no more. I found out Masuki in Binondo is the old Ma Mon Luk, reinvented by the very children of Ma Mon Luk's owner. Now I'm too young to be familiar with the legendary Chinese joint, but everyone talks about it with such fond nostalgia that I am curious to find out if the reputation is well-earned. I suspect that I will hardly be disappointed.

3. SEE MAXIMO OLIVEROS WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES. My VCD copy naturally doesn't have subtitles, but I could perhaps raid Quiapo for a DVD. Jessica subtitled the acclaimed film and I am curious how she translated some lines that would sound awkward in English. i.e "Hindi po yun shabu, tawas po yun!"

4. FIND OUT WHAT "JEPROKS" REALLY MEANS. The world dominatrix wrote "jeproks" came from "projects." I could not figure out the connection.

5. DELETE MY OLD HIGH SCHOOL BLOG. My writing style then was patterned after Jessica's witty, kick-ass diction, and it annoys me ceaselessly to be reminded that I aped someone else's schtick. The atrocious grammar errors dont help either.

PS. My (girl) friends back in high school have all expressed curiosity why I like Jessica Zafra back then. She bashes men on a regular basis, why do I read her? My darlings, if you're reading this, why are you so bad at getting hints?

Thursday, February 19, 2009


1. Bebe and Rustom

Rustom Padilla is not simply dead. He was murdered by the fabulously wicked Bebe Gandanghari. Bebe is a selfish, ungrateful bitch. After coming out of the closet with Rustom’s help, why does she have to kill him?

2. Miriam Santiago

Miriam used to be smart. Her reputation as someone who can dish out tart, witty one-liners, with such admirable flair is eclipsed only by her former reputation as an iron-woman when it comes to battling corruption in the government.

Then she voted against the opening of the second envelope. Then she mentioned her dead son on TV in an election ad. Then she ran under Gloria’s party in the last Senatorial elections. Then she became too fond of making scenes and long speeches.

As Jessica Zafra once bemoaned, what happened to the good old Miriam that we have so adored in the past? We should appeal to the aliens who have abducted her; they must have placed a deranged dummy in her place.

3. Tide and Downey

Why would soap companies be disturbingly partial to politicians as their endorser? When Mar Roxas appeared in apparently Tide's latest commercial, I thought, “Well, everyone is entitled to make their own humiliating mistakes.” But when I recently saw Pia Cayetano on TV, sweeping her hand across an image of a huge overflowing dam, urging everyone to use Downey Isang Banlaw, my brain went short circuit.

4. KC Concepcion

What happens to a kid who’s sent abroad by an over-protective mom? She goes wild, once given the chance. She flirts with a former Hollywood star, does movies with a brother of a fallen beauty queen, and guests at every talk show airing on TV. So much for just shampoo commercials.

5. Ambitious project in progress

I have gone so far into my project that I can no longer go back. I am not sure if I can still pull it off. This is what happens when you’re too much a fan of great surrealist writers; their weird ideas rub off on you, but your talents remain inconsiderable. I guess there’s no option but to plough on with the story, and hope for the best.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The White Tiger

If Saleem Sinai of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is the herald of India's rebirth, Balram Halwai of Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger is the herald of its fated noontide.

A debut novel of former Time correspondent Adiga and winner of the 2008 Booker Prize, The White Tiger is a black comedy about the modern India of juxtaposed poverty and wealth, of the typical dialectical materialism between those with power and those who do not.

Told in a series of letters written late at night by self-made enterpreneur Balram Halwai to China's Premier, Wen Jiabao, the novel takes the reader from Balram's lowly origins as the son of a rickshaw puller to his eventual triumph as a businessman in the city. His recipe for success: If you can't beat them, join them.

I found the book honest and disturbing. Honest, because it is unflinching in its portrayal of the human desire for wealth. Disturbing, because I can confirm the truth of these observations through personal experience. Not that I have anything particularly nasty, but I have been brought up in a family where ambition is passionately encouraged.

I remember my days in college when I would be grouped with rich kids who thought I was one of them. They would talk casually about this and that clothing line, this and that car model, this and that kind of restaurant, and I feel a kind of thrill that I can respond to most of what they were talking about and still refrain from looking like an Eager Beaver. Up until now, the bitches have no idea I just read a lot.

It is this line of thinking, this hidden but nonetheless solid desire to be one of those who have wealth and power, that threatens to crush my socialist tendencies. Balram started out with ambition and a clean desire to better his circumstances, but he is tempted and ultimately corrupted by the promising rewards of following the cutthroat rules of the game. It is so much easier and personally rewarding to succumb than to defy.

What is important to always remember, though, I think, is that desires are mere constructs, and most of the time, we desire what we are told to desire--a gorgeous girlfriend, the latest slinky gadgets, abs and biceps, nice clothes, a good credit score, a slot in heaven. In the words of the Oracle in the Matrix trilogy, the challenge is for us to make up our own damn minds.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Contemplathings XII

1. To resign or not to resign

It's final. Our company's migrating our account to Araneta Center on the 21st. Which means by then, I will have to start taking a jeep and a bus (or the MRT) everyday I go to work, since I live in Taguig. I ruled out the shuttle service in Market Market. (I've been getting tips that the car seats smell of old laundry.)

Then I read a company email from one of the Bosses. It noted that there is an alarming upward trend in absenteeism and tardiness, blah blah blah, and that there are agents who keep on getting away without punitive action. The email ends in a cheerful note: "I am not pleased and I don't want this to continue. I want blood."

In any case, there will have to be only one way to save my ass: resign before my neck says hi to the ax.

2. To text or not to text Joey.
To say that I miss him terribly would be the understatement of the century. There are times I would lie in my bed and try to remember his face and I would find out my memory of what he looks like fades by the day. That's a terrible thing, starting to unconsciously forget how someone you love looks like.

I want to continue texting him, invite him for a genuinely innocent cup of coffee. But that is the most guaranteed way to look like a stalker, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to look like one.

3. To go out or not to go out on V-Day.
I have been invited by someone already to go out on the day after this coming Friday the 13th. But I'm not sure it would be fair to the guy if I date him when I still have strong feelings for Joey.

I am also surprised though to find out that if it comes to it, there are actually people I would consider dating. Jeez, I'm a mess.


My apologies if I can't continue my project in progress. There are just so many things going inside my head; I think I need a real Pensieve. As Jamie said, blogging is some sort of Pensieve, but I think I need the real thing. I'm that screwed up.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Project in progress

Every now and then, I get this sort of fit that makes me ambitious. And then I decide to write some story based on some outrageous, surreal premise. I get so drunk with the possibilities of such a story that I plunge head first into actually writing it. Of course, when I wake up in the morning, I will get a massive hangover and find out I puked on the carpet.

But I never learn, that's why I'm doing it again. I am hopelessly stubborn.

Click here to check out my latest stab at a full-length short story.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Before I entangled myself in love affairs, I was a simple guy who loved to read books and watch movies and see the theater. It is about time I go back to being the old boring me.

So when I took my day off this last Thursday and Friday, I stayed put in my apartment, tried not think about Joey, and read former Time correspondent Aravind Adiga's Booker-winning debut novel The White Tiger. I have not finished it yet, which depresses me since I used to finish a good book in one sitting. It is so well-written I am almost tempted to write a review by pretending to have finished it.

So I am going to settle for Revolutionary Road, which I saw on DVD last night. A story about a young couple with opposite dispositions and dreams, Revo Road, based on the Richard Yates novel of the same title, tackles Director Sam Mendes's favorite theme: the American suburban family aspiring for the American Dream.

April (Kate Winslet) is an aspiring but unsuccessful actress who finds suburban life dulling and tediously monotonous. Hoping for a fresh start, she suggests to his husband Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) that they emigrate to Paris. Frank, who despises his job at a typewriter company, agrees. But when Frank succumbs to a lucrative promotion selling first-generation computers and April gets an unwanted pregnancy, their marriage fulfils its doom.

If you have seen American Beauty (well, I know, who hasn't?), it is easy to mark the similarity of theme, storyline, dialogue wit, down to the piano playing faintly in the background. As one New York Daily News review says, Revo Road is "two-thirds Mad Men, and one-third American Beauty." But even if Revo Road lives under the shadow of its smarter elder brother, it has the honest emotional drama that very few directors other than Mendes could muster. As for Kate and Leo, well, they're Kate and Leo. Only Leo's paunch is disgusting.

I almost liked the movie but I am not very fond of the fact that in the end, Frank and April remained hopelessly chained to their circumstances. I like a long winding drama, but I want well-meaning characters to be at least empowered, if not triumphant in the end. Not because I want to feel good, but because good movies are supposed to say one can effect change, despite the odds.

Otherwise, why put a gun in someone's hand when you wont let him pull the trigger?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

As usual, something fishy

Numbers can be intimidating, and hence, impressive when used to argue a point. Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto knows this and when he said the government plans to boost the slowing economy thru a P300 billion resiliency fund, he expects us to say wow.

If Vilma's husband is correct, the P300 billion fund that government shall spend for infrastructure and other social services will pump up government expenditure and will increase income in the private sector. The private sector's bigger income will in turn translate into increased private spending.

This is of course founded on the Keynesian idea that money spent by the government will be money earned by the private sector, and that increased government spending will jumpstart a series of increased private spending. Think The Core and how Hilary Swank and company fired nuclear missiles into the earth's liquid iron core, one at a time, to create ripples that will merge on each other and create bigger ripples.

This is supposedly a good thing, since developing countries, like the Philippines, depend heavily on consumption to drive its economy. It does make sense, but I have a problem with this. If the ultimate goal is increased public expenditure, is the P300 billion fund the only way to achieve this end?

How about raising the minimum wage levels to increase public income? How about funneling the P300 billion fund straight into the national budget? This year's national budget of P1.4 trillion is only about 13 percent more than last year's P1.236 trillion. This 13 percent increase is even diluted by an inflation rate of about 9 percent.

Also, the details of where the resiliency fund will come from and how exactly it will be spent remain a hazy sketch. Are they deliberately separating 300 billion from the national budget to avoid transparency and accountability?

Recto's report is impressive, but it isn't "wow." It's "whoa."

Monday, February 02, 2009


It is both comforting and painful to accept that there is a very slim chance that I will write for the Philippine Collegian again. I say there's still a chance, though very slim, and that shows how hopelessly optimistic I can be even with the bleakest of prospects. Newsbreak: I still toy with the idea that Joey and I might go out together again.

What was it that Jesse (Ethan Hawke) said in Before Sunset? "We all look at the world through our own tiny, little keyhole"?

Still, it's quite comforting to know that I no longer foster illusions of superhuman strength. I have tried juggling work, school, and writing news for the Collegian last year, and it was a horror better experienced once.

I still groan at the idea though that work, Kule, and studies all make up a lethal combination. I am someone who's always impatient to get all things done at once, or at least, try doing them all at once. (When I was a kid, I shuttled back and forth between Tom Sawyer and Mills & Boons.)

I still marvel at how Kule manages to publish weekly and, at the same time, come up with well-written, relevant articles. I do not brag, the credit is to those at the helm of this paper. Until now, I am amazed that they put up with me for almost two years. Working with some of the most talented and principled students in Diliman, you are left with no other choice but to be at least good at what you're supposed to do, because everyone else is brilliant at what they're doing.

I feel that I have disappointed them in one way or another. During my stint, I was eager to learn, and for some time, they thought they might even groom me for news editorship. Then I quit school and worked at a call center. I said it's a temporary thing, until I saved enough money. Did I already say I am too optimistic (read: naive) for my own good?

I miss the weekly Friday-to-Sunday presswork, the thrill of writing about something important, of something urgent. I miss walking from building to building in the hot afternoon sun, interviewing Academic oval vendors, janitors, professors, university officials, fratmen, athletes, student leaders, congressmen sometimes.

I miss Budget Cat, the resident feline we named after UP's perennial woe, who lives in our office. She has a very healthy sex life that some writers secretly envy.

I miss Mang Romy, the senile octogenarian who's livesd in Vinzons Hall since the 80s, I think. He claims he is a former UP student and that he used to date Susan Roces, among other women. Every year, the current Editor-in-Chief's greatest fear is that he would have to attend Mang Romy's funeral.

I miss the grafitti on the office toilet walls and the engraved names of the staff on the "conference" table. I miss the ancient rusty refrigerator which made me realize I am immune from tetanus.

But most of all, I miss the people. I miss Melane, a Batanguenya born in Italia. It is a running joke that she has shook the hands of the Pope. Nakadaupang palad na niya ang Papa. I miss the usually fierce Jerrie who sobbed once because a probationary news writer preferred to have his draft edited by Melane, because he thought Signiora Melania is, uh, nicer. Mas matututo po kasi ako sa kaniya eh.

I miss the news staff: Alliage, who is now news editor, whose motto in life is to not eat on time. Mamaya na lang ako kakain, bilang magugutom din naman ako mamaya; and Tony, the perpetual closet gay who sounds like the puppet voice of a ventriloquist.

I could go on and on. I find nostalgia vastly entertaining. It only makes me sad that these are things and people that I may never see again, if and only if I ever find myself in Room 401 of Vinzons Hall again. I can console myself though of one thing: that though I failed my friends in Kule, they will be able to find new people who would take over, who would bury Mang Romy, who would take care of Budget Cat's litter, who would lobby for a new refrigerator.

But most of all, I am confident that they would be able to find people who would stand for what they believe in, who will not bow down to repression, and who will continue the Philippine Collegian's long tradition of serving the students and the marginalized.

These new people will be better than I was. They will be stronger to ignore the difficulty of going to school on an empty stomach. They will be able to resist the lure of a tempting five-digit salary. They will be able to go back if they strayed too far. I almost feel as if I no longer want or need to write again.

***Download issues of the Philippine Collegian here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Wowowee and the Lovapalooza Stampede

I know why it sometimes feels good to have an occasional dose of Willie Revillame's infamous noontime show. It's watching those contestants embarrass themselves (and their kin) in national television. I laugh at them and admire them at the same time. Such courage to tell stories about personal drama are strange to me.

That is, until fairly recently, when I digressed from this blog's supposed cultural affectations and decided to write about myself again. Sef-cannibalism, in other words, as Jessica Zafra once said in her better days.

Now pass the salt, please?

1. Derriere-licking. Not only did I get away with it again by writing a long exquisite letter explaining my recent slew of absences and tardiness, a little bird told me I might even get a pay raise this May when my score card gets evaluated. The stars are kind, the stars are kind.

2. Ned. I have not received a text message from him until now. Nor have I atempted to initiate anything that would resemble an attempt at conversation. He looks cute in his new primary DL photo.

3. Joey. Well. Joey. Where should I even start? It was inevitable that this will happen. You know that last U-turn in the road when you're driving? Well, I went past that point. I was actually driving too fast, stepping on the gas pedal too hard, that I had to be pulled over by the MMDA.

4. Moving to Cubao. As our company will be moving to its new building (yes, that one) come end of next month, I am now looking for a new place to rent. Two of my officemates have expressed interest in sharing a house with me, but I honestly think I should get my own studio-type flat. Not that I don't get along well with people; it's just that my household maintenance habits dramatically fluctuate: anything between downright lazy to obsessive-compulsive.

5. Backlog of pre-planned special-feature posts. My neurons had been too preoccupied lately about my own insipid affairs that they have neglected more interesting topics.

There's that special post I planned about Natalie Portman flicks. Since I miss my Collegian days, I also thought about doing a small investigative on the "UP-Ayala Cyberpark." The list of ambitious projects goes on. Collezione and its Pinoy pride prints. The proposal to scrap the Student Regent position in UP's Board of Regents. Obama's anti-Iraq War stance and Gloria's possible retraction from her original support for Dubya's War against Terror. The Matrix trilogy and its signature bullet-speed camera shot.

Self-cannibalism is so cathartic, I can hardly stop. But like the few remaining pleasures left in this world, I guess all of them end too soon. I have released too many calls already. Must get back to work. Thraldom beckons.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It is only a matter of time before the TELUS bosses decide to kick me out of the office. That is, if all my pleas come to naught; though I remain hopeful that my abilities to kiss ass have not waned. I have not stayed in this company this long if I am entirely ignorant of the many ways to kiss ass. Other people in my circumstance (habitual absenteeism, chronic case of tardiness and overbreaks) would try to reason out, but the pet in me will always reason out nicely.

I was not always a pet. In fact, I used to have a tendency to question authority and to avoid being subject to the rules. Perhaps, the pet me in has been repressed too much that when given the chance to kiss ass, it comes out frenzied, ready to prepare to lick the rear of the first boss in sight.

I shall give it a try one more time, my charms are not nil--and so are my metric scores. If it does not work, then I would have to revert to my old self. I write brilliant resignation letters.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


he fusses over the already neatly arranged college books
in his office station, these crowded tombstones,
these memorials to a still fresh and unfinished past

beside, the computer screen and telephone
like harsh, postmodern twin churches

a ghost of a poem lingers in the air, haunts him,
but a long loud beep in his ears
sends the specter gliding away, into thin wisps of smoke
he adjusts his headset and says thank you
to a person at the other side of the world

This is misposted, my bad. This is what happens when you have one too many blogs than you can manage. LOL. Click on the blogtitle to get routed to the right blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Man Booker Prize

Before I bought my own DVD player and started doing movie marathons, I used to have the impression that I'm a book geek. When I was still in school, I'd scrimp on my food allowance so I could buy books. Or if I don't even have money for lunch, or I'm feeling particularly brave, I'd shoplift in book stores. I'd like to feel guilty when I do it, but there's always the romantic justification that good literature should not be accessible to only those who have money. Of course, at the end of the day, I feel guilty nonetheless.

When I do shoplift, though, I follow certain rules. One, that the risk must be worth it. Two, that I have a plan B, in case I screw up. Most usually, I follow the first rule the easiest way: I pick a Booker Prize winner. As for the second rule, well, that should remain one of the secrets of my trade.

I owe my discovery of the Booker Prize to my Creative Writing 10 professor Butch Guerrero, who gave me my much needed 1.0 to offset my 3.0 in Calculus the previous semester. I think the class was discussing plot and "crucible" when he mentioned Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. One of Rushdie's short stories, The Prophet's Hair, was on the list to demonstrate how a certain circumstance or object could guide characters towards an inevitable end. Right after class, I haunted the library to look for Midnight's Children, but of course, it was only for overnight lease and all the copies were already out. I ended up nicking a copy from a small discount book store. I think it's best not to say which book store.

Right after I finished Midnight (on which I shall dedicate a lengthy post when I find time and the necessary brainpower), I began looking for other Booker Prize winners. I cant recall which came after Midnight, but the Booker Prize winners have since became my default fallback if I want anything good to read.

Booker Prize 101
The Booker Prize right now is officially known as The Man Booker Prize, funded by Man Group plc, an investment group that claims to specialize on "alternative" investments in 13 countries worldwide. It awards the best novel written by Commonwealth and Irish authors. Aside from the prospect of fame and renown, not to mention increased book sales, the Man Booker Prize offers a prize money of 50,000 euros ($66,695.29, at the current exchange rate of 1 = 1.33391). A hefty amount, in comparison to Pulitzer Prize's $10,000.

Judges of the prize range from literary critics, writers, academicians, and, now and then, a "notable public figure" (sic) to give pomp and style to the panel. Remarkably, though, very few Bookers are considered boobies.

In 1993, Booker celebrated its 25th anniversary by awarding the best Booker novel of the past 25 years as the "Booker of Bookers." Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children won the prize. Last year, the same author and book won "The Best of the Booker," an award given to the best novel to have won the Booker in the 40 years of existence.

Rushdie must now be very rich, he no longer cares a bit about that fatwa.

Somebody in an online forum once commented that you fall in love with the first Rushdie you read. I agree, and Midnight shall always be my favorite Booker novel, all 250 pages of it. It's both ridiculously serious and seriously ridiculous, it's my favorite oxymoron of a book so far.

Trailing closely behind would be five-time nominee Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, which won the Booker in 2000. A novel of three stories braided into one, Assassin demonstrates Atwood's ability to conjure vivid characters and maneuver them in a surreal chessboard of events. Many consider Atwood (below) a feminist, but this is a topic that would need a whole post to itself.
Yann Martel's Life of Pi, which won in 2002, is also a favorite. Another novel that plays with surrealism, Pi tells the tale of a shipwrecked boy who endures 227 days in the Pacific. A Royal Bengal Tiger keeps him company in the lifeboat.

Martel has been accused of plagiarism by Moacyr Scliar, to whom Martel dedicated his book, thanking him for "the spark of life." Though Scliar eventually dropped the charges, many of Pi's most ardent fans were dismayed. Which is interesting, since aren't all novels a form of plagiarism, in one way or another? I have always believed a good novel is a well-written collection of borrowed truths and lies. I should know, I plagiarize my life all the time.

Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal, this February

I read the graphic novel back in high school but I still remember specific scenes, frames in the book. And that says a lot, since I am never really much of a "graphic-visual" person.

I also have not dared to see the movie version yet, but if ever, I am just going to see it not because it's a movie, but because it's a version of a vastly entertaining work in another genre. And of course, there's Rustom.

A friend informed me Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal will be back this February for its sixth run. Here's what I gleaned from Carlo Vergara's blog:

Ze Schedule:

Feb 6, 13 (Fri) 8PM
Feb 7, 14 (Sat) 3PM & 8PM
Feb 8, 15 (Sun) 3PM & 8PM
Mar 6 (Fri) 8PMMar 7 (Sat) 3PM & 8PM
Mar 8 (Sun) 3PM & 8PM

Ze Ticket pricez:

Ticket prices will be at P500, P600 and P700. (Still pretty reasonable, if you compare them with the ticket prices of other professional theater companies.)

Reserve your tickets thru Lorelei or Paolo at TP:832-1125 loc. 1620 to 1621. Direct Line 832-3661. Or you can contact Lorelei through 09285518645.


I've seen Eula Valdez once in Mafia in Malate, during an event sponsored by One Bacardi sometime early last year. She's stunning, and she's, what, in her late thirties, early forties? She was with Rufa Mae Quinto, who was ridiculously pretty in a skimpy white dress. Ah, I remember now. It was White Party then at the gay district. Early February-ish.

I have invited friends already to see Zsa Zsa with me, but they wouldn't give me a definite answer. This is one of those times I miss my old friends back in UP; they're always game for even a semi-nice play. Then again, I could book a ticket for two for the 14th or the 15th, and see Ada transform to Zsa Zsa. With my ma.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ABC cancels Pushing Daisies

Are we saying goodbye to Ned, Olive, and Chuck?

ABC did not explicitly say they are axeing Emmy-nominated Pushing Daisies. But when people start mumbling euphemisms, one immediately notices mean things are being done in a polite manner. And that last phrase is, of course, an oxymoron.

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, ABC President of Entertainment Steve McPherson broke the news on November last year that the network was giving up on three second-season shows, Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money and Eli Stone. I should have found out about this a long time ago, if not for my firm resolve to avoid sites related to Pushing Daisies for fear of second season spoilers.

ABC has maintained that though they will not order more episodes of Daisies, "the door is still open." This is hardly any consolation to viewers, since talk of ABC's final decision has prompted stars of Daisies to look for other jobs. Director Bryan Fuller has returned to writing for Heroes. while I've read somewhere that Kristin Chenowith has been signed up for another TV show.

Dirty Sexy Money is a friend's favorite, though I personally haven't seen an episode. I am more concerned with Daisies, because the show's originality is so refreshing after heaps and heaps of reality TV serials. Plus it bears resemblances to Amelie and Stepford Wives, of which I am both immensely fond of.

At the end of the day, the rationale behind all this is as simple as ABC (pun intended): These shows, Daisies included, has not drawn enough viewership as to make them profitable enough to be kept spending on. I guess the real chief nemesis of good TV shows is not any writers' strike, or even censorship, but the business of attracting advertisers for more profit.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Curious Case of Pirated Pushing Daisies

It's a curious coincidence that it was Lee, a Bacardi friend, who introduced me to Pushing Daisies, an American TV series about a piemaker who can bring back the dead to life. Lee Pace stars as the piemaker Ned. I lent him my Roald Dahl and Margaret Atwood books, and I told him it must be a sort of swap, so he lent me his pirated copy of Pushing Daisies. Ah, the wonders of piracy.

In her better days, Jessica Zafra once said in her columns that piracy is not the consumer's problem. It is the movie studios' and record labels' problem. For exploiting the talents of artists and mass producing their work, they rake in millions of dollars. Sure, artists get something out of royalties, but it's a pittance compared to the huge profits the Big Guys amass.

If anything, piracy, she says, bridges the gap between artist and audience. There is no middle-man who, by working the economics of price and supply and demand, hinders the audience's appreciation for the artist's work .

But I guess I'm saying this, only partly because I hoard pirated DVDs. Those peddled in the streets with up to 18 movies. And with the second season of Pushing Daisies coming to an end, I am wildly excited about the prospect of seeing the whole second season of Pushing Daisies sold in the streets of Guadalupe. Marathong umaatikabo na naman ito.

Even though YouTube has uploaded episodes already, I opted not to watch any since I intend to do the whole second season in one sitting--which is not an easy feat since, considering the cliffhanger episode at the end of season one where Vivian reveals to Olive that she is Chuck's mother.

Hopefully, I'll have money next week to buy a pirated copy of season two and finally find out what happens next.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Things to Look Forward to this 2009 (1)

This is long overdue, but I can't think of anything else to write about. My creative juices are at an all-time low. It must be the cold weather, my blood is having difficulty in reaching my brain.

Anyway. Now that the Metro Manila Film Festival is (finally) over, the backlog of foreign movies are now trickling in. Not that I am not fond of homegrown films. But this year's MMFF offerings are as uninteresting as the offerings for the last several years.

I have noticed theaters are now showing The Curious Case of Button Benjamin Button, starring Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt. Loosely based on the 1921 short story by Scott Fitzgerald, the film has a premise that should draw hordes of moviegoers. It actually did. Benjamin (Pitt) is born with the appearance of an old man, as his years go by, he "grows younger" until he becomes a baby. Along the way he meets Hildegarde Moncrief (Oscar winner Cate Blanchett), the daughter of a Civil War veteran, with whom he falls in love and eventually marries.

Benjamin Button boasts of being the product of two talents known for being great in adapting books into movies: Director David Finch (Fight Club) and Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, 1994; Munich, 2005), who won an Oscar for Forrest Gump.

This years seems to be a rematch for Oscar laureates, because Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet of the Titanic fame are back in Revolutionary Road, a movie about the a couple with differing dispositions and apirations. Sam Mendes of American Beauty is at the helm of this long-awaited reunion of two of Hollywood's box office darlings. Man Booker Prize nominee Justin Haythe (The Honeymoon) wrote the screenplay.

There is also Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in July. Steven Kloves, who wrote the first Potter films, returns as screenwriter for this sixth installment of the Potter saga. When I first saw the trailers, I instantly noticed the beautiful black-and-blue themed cinematography. Then I found out the movie's cinematographer is Oscar-nominated Bruno Delbonnel of Amelie. No surprise there. David Yates of the fifth film also returns as director.

Angels and Demons also conquers theaters this year, with Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) as director again. The Da Vinci Code was a bore and a disappointment, but hey Ewan McGregor is the camerlengo Carlo Ventresca, so I will see this film and watch Tom Hanks humiliate himself.

There is also another attempt to redeem the X-Men franchise from complete waste with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which traces the early life of Logan who will eventually become Wolverine. To obviously pander to comic geeks, this installment also promises cameos of future X-Men.

For those who pine for Heath Ledger, there's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a movie about a traveling theater troupe who made a truce with the devil. Heath's death prompted director Terry Gilliam to recast Heath's role with Johnny Depp (oh), Jude Law (oh), and Colin Farrell (oh) playing Heath's character's many transformations. Terry Gilliam is a member of the phenomenal Monty Python comedy troupe.

A fan of Alice Sebold? There's a film adaptation of the 2002 book The Lovely Bones, a tragic story about a girl who was raped and murdered by a local serial killer. BAFTA winner and Oscar-nominated Saoirse Ronan stars as Alice Sebold. Susan Sarandon and Rachel Weisz also star in this much-awaited film by LOTR god Peter Jackson.

So many films to see. So little time. So little dough.

PS. I'm going to see Benjamin Button on Friday, with someone which I wish to be the One who shall finally break my long-cherished singlehood. Yeeha!