A farewell to (my) shirts

Shop day!

Spent morning alternately napping, reading articles on the net, listening to E.S. Posthumus, chatting with The Sib. Told by the radio to stay indoors til 3pm, keep windows closed, stay away from coffee and tea, hydrate and so on,  because today was going to be a scorcher, about 25 degrees celcius or so. Roll my eyes. That’s just the mornings in Manila!

Half past two, dragged self out  room (Feel like hikikomori,term for young Japanese anti-social hermit, sans sociopathic/psychotic tendencies), put on shirt and shorts, walked all the way to Tesco (about 30 minutes walk or so) to do my shopping. Had to. No more food.

Digression: Tesco is like the part of the four pillars of consumerism in the UK: Marks and Spencers, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco.

Arrived there 3pm, finished 4pm maybe, arrived home at 4:30pm. Always on tight budget – always have to forgo one kind of item for another: cigarettes or food? Food. Beer or food? Food. Bought oats, rice, doughnuts, and so on.Took so long deciding on what other stuff to buy: beans? sardines? fish? shellfish? shrimp? Money always problem. Cannot stand canned sardines anymore. Taste of rust and fish hard to wash out of mouth. Beans alright. Finally bought beans, canned soup, packed shellfish. Miss home. Nothing packed. Can buy stuff on the open market – fresh from the sea, 30 minutes’ trip from mountainous hometown.

Worried might go over budget. Am presently unemployed and thus a bum. Not on welfare so no benefits. Budget is everything. At till, relieved to find out groceries not exceeded £10.

Walked home with heavy groceries. Listened to acquaintance about (her) marital problems. Acquaintance not really intent on doing anything about problem: just verbalizing it. Recipe for unhappy life.

Cleaned up room, a bit. Tried to see what can fit in luggage, in box to be sent home, what to give away. Realized have a lot of stuff. How in hell have I accumulated so much crap in 14 months? Stumped for words.

Feeling sentimental. Going over stuff reminds me of 14 months of being here. Time flies! Feel like it is not 14 months. Feels longer.Saw KFC and McDonald’s uniform. Debate  with self briefly if one will keep them. Debate quickly resolved. Hell, no!

Off to watch movie now!

Guerilla Geek Food: Breakfast of Champions!

Been eating a bit irregularly lately, although I do try to eat three meals a day. Mornings are for microwaved oats, the rest of the day usually for canned goods. Ate so much burgers I’ve sworn off them, but sometimes still end up trying to eat them. Am trying to swear off McDonald’s. Eaten so much burgers and fries it’s enough to last me a lifetime. Eaten so much beans and sardines, eggs and ham I cannot stand them anymore.

Today was about to eat Heinz pork and beans. Was about to open can of Heinz, then saw that I had actually opened it a bit and then put it back in the cupboard, fully intending to consume its contents once I remember that I have stored them in the cupboard. Probably been a month now. Opened it and saw contents fully reduced to mold, which escaped lid like a plume of dust. If I ever became a scientist I would actually have had fun finding out how long it takes for food to spoil, find out what microorganisms have taken residence on its contents and evolving and whether I can harness such as a weapon of mass destruction. Lord knows I have let a lot of food go to waste.

Mostly I live on rice and the internet.

And the debate is on: Michael Jackson, King of Pop? or Reluctant father of modern-day celebrity culture?

I must say I have been having a grand old time scouring the internet for articles on Michael Jackson, if only because since his death writers from People, MSNBC, CNN, Time to Newsweek to the Guardian to moreintelligentlife.com have been struggling to write articles that can encompass the high drama, the low comedy, the talent, the scandals that wracked a pop star whose career spanned almost 50 years – about the same age in which he died.

Already there is much debate about his talent (writers are in disagreement here although most of them believed his greatest creative period was the 80s), his albums (later albums lackluster, 80s albums the best), which is better, “Off the Wall” or “Thriller”, although most of them agree he was the biggest bestselling artist of all time, second only to Elvis Presley and the Beatles, but that he had been quickly dethroned (by whom is another debate: Newsweek believes it was Nirvana, in the early 90s, but Time believes it could have been earlier, when  Prince and Madonna came out with more pop-savvy albums). All agree though that he was a pop culture icon though and that his studded gloved hand, sequined military style jackets, aviator sunglasses, trademark moonwalk moves will go down in history as the images that defined much of the early 80s. His relevance to popular culture is being debated, although some agree that if it were not for him,  Beyonce, 50 Cent, Usher and countless African American artists would not be reaping the billion dollar benefits now. Sure, if he had not come along somebody else would have paved the way, but he did come along and he was the one who started it all. One thing that comes out though is his ability to stay in the limelight even though he has not come out with an album in over 10 years: wracked by scandals, lawsuits, bankruptcy, health problems and an ever changing face and pigmentation, he probably unwittingly (or not so unwittingly) spawned the modern day papparazi-infested celebrity culture that celebrates crass journalism that covers people who are simply famous for being famous.

The message boards are even more interesting: Michael Jackson fans debate these things as passionately as do anti-Michael Jackson critics.

Only time will tell whether Michael Jackson’s legacy (if there was any to begin with – if somewhat ambivalent articles lead us to believe) will endure or live on.

As I was pouring over the articles last night, I came across a speech by the late writer David Foster Wallace, who had committed suicide in September 2008. It was already 1 in the morning,but I read his rather lengthy commencement speech, because it was very moving, and I had not encountered such since I read Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech. In his speech, he effortlessly discusses the importance and practicality of liberal arts education as applied to grocery shopping and being stuck in traffic, what thinking really means and that one does not have to be stuck in misery all the time, one can choose to have a better life just by choosing to look at things in a better, more positive way, that education is about succeeding at being well-adjusted and ends with the warning that what we choose to worship will eventually eat us alive and finally, that, education is more about awareness, rather than knowledge (hmmm…I see a pattern here – I had just finished “Random Acts of Love”, which has the same message as well).

Excerpts I liked include:

“The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too…

I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master”.

“If you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently…It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down…The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.”

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think.”

For the full speech, go to moreintelligentlife.com or click here.

Sad though that David Foster Wallace would not be as remembered as Michael Jackson. For this one speech seems to resonate with deeper truths than anything else. Then again, we find our truths in different ways – be it in an 80s pop album by a pop icon only a few hours dead, or a young writer whose one enduring legacy is a commencement speech delivered at a little-known college.

Survey: What was the most important year of all time?

Came across this really interesting survey on moreintelligentlife.com which asks, “What was the most important year of all time for you?”

The following were the contenders:

1. 5 BC – Jesus’ birth

2. 1204 – Christianity split by Crusades

3. 1439 – Gutenberg’s press

4. 1776 – United States is born

5. 1791 – Telegraph and Morse code are invented

6. 1944 – Modern ideological warfare takes off

7. 1945 – Nazism falls, bomb dropped, new world order
8. 1953 – DNA is discovered
9. 1989 – Berlin wall falls
10. 1990 – Nelson Mandela is released
11. 2009 – Copenhagen climate summit: last chance?

Cannot decide which is more important, although I just have to say listing 1776 as the most important year of all time because the USA was born is presumptuous.

Thoughts? Opinions? Any year you think should be more important than the ones listed? Discuss. Or go to moreintelligentlife.com and vote.

Recession keeping you from buying new books or DVDs? Newsweek advice: Re-read your favorite books!

Taking the time to balance my viewing habits, wilfing habits and blogging with reading these days. Halfway through Che Guevarra’s totally recommendable “Motorcycle Diaries” and have caught up on newsweek.com, because the recent Time magazine (UK) issue leaves much to be desired and because it seems to be extolling the virtues of liberal capitalism – a bit weird considering we are in a global financial crisis that is the direct result of liberal capitalism.

Came across yet another article on newsweek.com that rhapsodizes on the joys of re-reading your favorite books, entitled, “Now, Read it Again (the Joys of Rereading)“, by David Gates.

The author, among other things, extols the virtues of re-reading, rather than it being “comfort reading” or being the childish indulgence of “obsessive repetition”,re-reading your favorite books is a guilty pleasure and comfort that provides endless challenge, complexity, newness and I suspect, the many different levels of interpretation it provides for the maturing reader, who may find different meanings in the text as he/she grows older.

The author surmises that the most re-read authors are Dickens, Shakespeare and Austen precisely because of the reasons he has set above. He even admits that he has read Dickens more than he cares to admit. Apart from Dickens, he likes to re-read Hemingway, Nabokov and authors who write about sports. He reveals that one can tell a lot about one’s re-reading habits: in his case, being white and straight, he likes white and straight testosterone-fueled adventure stories that involve a bit of bro-mance (Mr. Pickwick and Sam, Frodo and Sam, Sherlock and Watson).

Made me think about my re-reading habits. I don’t generally re-read Dickens – but that is because I’ve been made to read it as a child, although since I am on a mission to read as much Victorian novels as my attention span can permit, I will still read the Dickens’ novels I have not read yet. Shakespeare not so much as well, and Austen’s novels have been adapted to the screen so much I just choose which Austen cinematic heroine I prefer (nothing Keira Knightley please, a bit of Emma Thompson and Sally Hawkins is alright), although I have read most of her books and do like Mansfield Park most of all.

I think about what Gates wrote, reflect on what he has said and am surprised that he may be right afterall: our re-reading habits do say a bit about us and what we believe in.

And so while I do not indulge in the white male heterosexual re-reading habits the author has, I am not-so surprised by my own. For some strange, inexplicable (well,not so inexplicable if you think about it) reason I like re-reading Nancy Garden’s young adult novel, Annie on my Mind. I came across it when I was in college, and I liked it. I have, since then, re-read it many times. I also like re-reading Sarah Water’s “Fingersmith”, which is a modern take on Victorian London with a lesbian twist. I like going over my Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comic books as well. I remember I used to re-read Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” and I loved going over choice parts of Joyce Carol Oates’ novels, and there is a particular short story of hers that I love re-reading. Tillie Olsen, Kate Chopin, Amy Tan are favorite re-reads as well, along with short stories about dragons and vampires. There is a Fil-Am short story entitled “The Smell of Her Sleep”that I love to re-read as well from “Tibok”, a Filipino lesbian anthology. And there is Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet”.

Looking back at my favorite re-reads, I notice a pattern: short, easy to read (that is not to say, simple or simplistic, just straightforward writing), modern or contemporary, about women (straight or gay),  dragons, vampires, a bit of the sci-fi, magical, poetic and philosopical. Which makes sense: for a person who is gay and is a woman, the gay re-reads are logical. For the interest in fantasy and sci-fi, it also makes sense: for a person who is perpetually, existentially the other, I would go for genres that discuss, explore and celebrate that otherness, and envision a more utopian world where otherness can be accepted rather than despised. Mere escapism, pure naivete, hopeless optimism? Who knows?

What about you? What kind of books do you like to re-read and what does that tell you about yourself?

Newsweek’s Summer Blockbusters 2009 stakeout: You do the math

Came across this very succinct evaluation of 2009’s summer blockbusters on newsweek.com entitled “How much are the summer movies really worth? We do the math” (enticingly sub-titled “The real recession begins”). Funniest most useful movie review soundbite I’ve ever come across, that dissects how much a movie really costs. List includes:

1. Wolverine – valued at $11 ($10 for Hugh Jackman’s bum, less $3 because you can already see a bootleg of it online, plus $4 because you can see Wolverine’s origins). Have watched it. Feel bad about watching it. But that’s alright – because I watched the bootleg version. This is one of those cases when piracy actually works!

2. Angels and Demons  – priced at $7 (because Tom Hanks has that hideous hair, but it does have Ewan MacGregor to draw in the crowds). Read the book, was actually entertaining, although you need to suspend disbelief and logic first, so what is the point of watching the movie?

3.Terminator Salvation – $13 (thanks to Christian’s Bale’s psychotic tirades leaked on youtube and explosions). My loyalties lie with James Cameron.

4. The Hangover – $14 (because it has Heather Graham). Although I’d probably price this at $5 – because even Heather Graham can’t save this movie. Unless you’re the target audience. Then by all means, watch it!

5. Bruno – $25 (because what can go wrong with the guy who made Borat? I’d watch it. But probably when it comes out on DVD, if it’s on sale. Not going to queue for it, although I secretly liked Borat).

6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – $9 (Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore, the high drama, the works). Won’t queue to watch it either. Will wait for the DVD release. Because it’s much more fun with the extra features and the DVD commentary.

For full article click on the article above or go to the website. ^^

Newsflash: Buffy kicks Edward’s Ass (yay) (because I hate Twilight and Edward Cullen)

Came across this really nifty video mash-up of Buffy staking Edward Cullen. Since I hate Edward Cullen and all that he stands for (needy, creepy, self-righteous, weird, sexist macho vampire) I loved that somebody came up with this. It’s from rebellious pixels (you can check out more of their stuff on youtube.com).

Retro-recap: Harper’s Island, Episode 11 (US, CBS, 2009)

Episode 11:

https://i2.wp.com/ngepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/Harpers-Island.jpgHenry (Christopher Gorham) and Danny (Brandon Jay McLaren) get to Abby (Elaine Cassidy) before John Wakefield kills her. John Wakefield goes to the pub and kills Shane (Ben Cotton). Trish (Katie Cassidy), Chloe (Cameron Richardson), Shea (Gina Holden) and Madison (Cassandra Sawtell) escape, leaving an unconscious Jimmy (CJ Thomason) who is still surviving the marina explosion to fen for himself.

Henry, Danny, Abby get to the pub too late and find Shane strung up in crucifixion pose for them to see. Jimmy is nowhere to be found.vTrish, Chloe, Shea and Madison go to the sheriff’s house. The church bell tolls. And of course, Trish, Chloe, Shea  think it might be Henry signalling them, so Trish and Chloe go to the church and leave Shea and Madison behind. And Henry, Danny and Abby think it’s Trish and the others signalling them. They meet at the church, find that the deputy is dead, and manage to have John Wakefield kidnap Chloe right under their nose.

Cal (Adam Campbell) and Sully (Matt Barr) bond over Cal’s gunshot wound to the chest, their mutual love for Chloe the Malibu girlfriend and end up in the church as well. Jimmy suddenly appears at the church as well, with the story that he woke up with Shane dead. Cal realizes that Chloe is missing and they start a search party for her. They discover the extensive tunnels go through the church and the hotel, so they have Sully and Danny seal off the underground tunnel from the hotel. Henry, Cal and Abby go in another tunnel direction which leads to the forest. Trish and Jimmy seal off another tunnel exit point, the one where they found Madison.

As Sully and Danny seal off the hotel’s passage – another killer appears from behind and shoots at them (so there is another killer). Abby, Henry and Cal are in the forest, spot John Wakefield and hear Chloe screaming at the same time. Abby tries to shoot at him but misses, then tries to track him down. Cal finds Chloe and gets her out of the (tunnel) cage that John Wakefield has imprisoned her in. As they try to escape and are cornered on a bridge above the river, John Wakefield comes and stabs Cal right infront of Chloe and throws him into the river. Chloe jumps right after him, telling him “You can’t have me”.

Meanwhile, Shea and Madison discover that Jimmy has a criminal record. On cue, next scene reveals Jimmy trying to take shotgun away from Trish as she naps, ominous soundtrack playing all the while.

End of the episode.

Thoughts on this episode:

Wow. Intense episode.

I must admit this was a pretty intense and tense episode. At this point, everyone is at the edge of their sanity. We see Elaine Cassidy’s Abby having a complete emotional meltdown at her father’s death, screaming and crying at the same time. We see a different Abby in this episode: an Abby who is bent on revenge, fueled by a hatred for John Wakefield. Gorham’s Henry turn as the sensible bestfriend is a good one. Danny and Sully still are a bit two-dimensional but they are functional and Sully has actually turned into more of a good guy. Even Shane turns a bit good when he stands up a little for Abby infront of Trish. Cal and Malibu girlfriend Chloe, I think, have the most dramatic deaths in this series (unless they can top it with something else entirely). Of all the characters in the series,they have the most going on between them: a thwarted marriage proposal, having to pry Sully the jerk’s paws away from Chloe, trying to get the ring back, Cal being wounded, Chloe being kidnapped, Cal proposing to Chloe right before he gets killed.I’m a bit surprised that they kill off Cal and Chloe first before Danny and Sully or Shea – Cal and Chloe deserve at least one more episode before they get killed off – their characters became more interesting towards the end of the series.

It’s a bit disappointing that it is John Wakefield afterall. For some strange reason, I would have wanted someone more diabolical and intriguing. But he just looks disappointingly – ordinary. I swear I’ve seen him before playing  a similar character, but his name escapes me now.  As for Jimmy – I think it’s safe to assume that he could be a killer. Since the killing took place, Abby and Jimmy’s relationship seems to havegone on a standstill, while Cal and Chloe, and Trish and Henry continue to act like couples.I am a bit disappointed that Jimmy might be a killer as well.

And finally! someone takes the time (in this case, Nikki the bartender) to answer our questions: the power lines have been cut, the network  lines have been cut,the marina can not be  seen from the mainland, the missing state police will not be noticed til after, and so on.

Indie film retro-review: Sunshine Cleaning (US, 2008)

Directed by Christine Jeffs, written by Megan Holley

The story:

http://bermudaonion.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/sunshinecleaningposter.jpgThe Lorkowski family is falling apart. Father Joe Lorkowski (Alan Arkin) is a fly-by-night businessman who sells things from shrimp to dodgy kids’ goodies. Daughter Norah (Emily Blunt) is living with him and has just gotten fired from her job. At the center of it all is eldest daughter Rose (Amy Adams) who is juggling her time with self-esteem busting cleaning jobs, a growing son, Oscar (Jason Spevack) that school officials deem a danger to the school and an even more self-esteem busting relationship with a married lover (Steve Zahn) with a spiteful wife who knows about their affair.

All these come to a head when the school officials catch Oscar licking everything, including his teacher’s leg, and the principal and his teacher inform Norah that they intend to provide specialized attention to him, with medications to put him under control. Norah resolves to pull her son from public school and into private school, prompting her to go into a job that pays more than her cleaning jobs: crime clean-ups. She pulls her sister into the business and as she begins to know the ropes about crime clean-ups, so also gains the confidence to leave her married lover and strike out on her own, whilst her sister also deals with the suicide of their mother.

The verdict:

Two words: Engaging  film.^^

If that were not enough, the fact that it has an impressive cast should give one pause: Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, My Summer Of Love), Amy Adams (Enchanted, Doubt) and Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine). Plus it has a strong supporting cast in dorky Steve Zahn as the married lover, Clifton Collins playing a one-armed, toy plane loving  shop owner and Mary Lynn Rajskub as the daughter of one of the dead victims that Emily Blunt’s Norah befriends and for a moment has an ambiguous friendship with (heh).

So what makes this engaging? Subtle, understated character development for one, the story that keeps you wanting to know what will happen next, and the acting that makes you emphatize with the characters.

Amy Adams is awesome as Rose. She perfectly combines vulnerability, determination and a sense of purpose and urgency into her character.  She shines most when she interacts with the people who make her feel less than herself – the school officials, her married lover, the uptight former high school friends who laugh at her clean-up business, and these scenes expose her vulnerability and that simplest of goals most people have: acceptance and respect.

She plays fairly well opposite Emily Blunt’s Norah, who projects a laidback, goth-inspired younger sister but who is, as revealed by later scenes to still be haunted by finding that their mother had committed suicide in their bathtub.

https://i1.wp.com/images.allmoviephoto.com/2009_Sunshine_Cleaning/2009_sunshine_cleaning_001.jpg

Emily Blunt (hotness!)

I like that the dynamic between Rose and Norah is perfectly captured (as anyone who’s had a sib will testify)- the bickering, the one-line put downs (you can be the coolest, most famous dude in the world, but your sib will always know how to pull you down a notch), and the fights. I also like that Norah is such a cool aunt as well, and whatever happens she will babysit and tell funny lobster-man stories that keep her nephew, Oscar awake, most nights.  Alan Arkin is of course, always fun to watch as the clueless washed-up patriarch who just gets on with it even though the world has already moved on and does not need his services anymore. Little Jason Spevack’s Oscar is also a quirky little character who has his heartbreaking moments – as when he talks to the heavens on existential questions via  a radio comm to see if his questions will answered.

Overall, it is a good, solid film. I’d watch it again if I could. ^^

Final thoughts:

Let me just pause and gush over the hotness that is Emily Blunt.

Now I am off to scour the ‘ net for Harper’s Island stuff. ^^