Sunday, January 31, 2010

My January in a Nutshell

I haven’t blogged for like, eons, and since I’ve logged in I thought about updating this thing. XD

January has been pretty eventful. On the first day, my super!idol fanfic writer, Isis CW, updated my favorite story and fueled me up with enough inspiration to improve my own writing skills. Her masterpieces have moved me in a strange way no other fanworks had. They have even provided me inspiration in my literary entries for the university’s literary folio, Imaginaccion. I’ll shamelessly say I dedicate all of those to her.
I also accepted a job as a researcher/contributor for the website The BIG NM, met the awesome boss, and pondered on so many things he talked about in our first meeting. I’m glad I accepted. I know I still need a lot to learn. ;) Then just yesterday, I received a message from a friend offering me to be a writer/promoter for someone’s blog. Once I settled the things on the uppermost notches of my priority ladder, I’ll grab the opportunity again.

Sir Jimmy and his basic photography class went to Corregidor for the CAS Week photo exhibit, and we members of the unofficial Lyceum Camera Club went with the ride. We entered the ruins of a hospital where tourists were not allowed to enter, walked through the corroding walls of barracks, and clicked away at the disintegrating structure of a decades old theatre. The trip was fun, though at the end of the day all of our purses were drained—not by the photo shoot, but by the splurge-type Japanese restaurant where we ate after the trip. XD The exhibit was a success, and all of the A3-size photographs were then “owned” by the CAS faculty members. My shots are here.

Robyn, another fanfic writer/fangirlfriend, reconnected with me and we talked about…well, fandoms. She urged me to watch True Blood and Better Off Ted (the first seasons of both I’ve done watching; I even read the book where True Blood is based, the review here), adding more things on our list that we can both squeee about when we like. She recommended some books too, and when I told her I can’t find her top rec in the nearest bookstores, she told me she’d buy one from Ebay and have it sent to me if I’ll trust my address to her. That’s so sweet of her, but I have to tell her I’ve already found the book (eureka!) a day after she presented the offer. The book’s on my to-read ‘queue’ now. :D

Sleepless nights and emptied hot-choco mugs came next, all induced by the still half-finished business plan, articles for the newspaper lay-outing class, and sample write-ups for my internship at PULP magazine (we’ve passed our resumes already this Thursday). I’m still having problems about the Economics project, but I know my group will able to work it all out before the deadline comes.

Then I met Howard Roark. :)

I met him, an architecture student, who was expelled on the morning of graduation day of Stanton University. He’s actually the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s objectivist novel, The Fountainhead. If there’s one kind of man I’ll really like, it’s going to be him. It's really hard to explain. He’s cold and selfish and is a challenge personified and is extremely unlikable that he becomes…likeable, if that makes sense at all. He is the man who is "as man should be", as Rand described him. You have to read it why this is so, I can't find the proper words to use yet. XD I haven’t finished the book yet—I still have a long way to go—but I’m readily falling in love with this character (FYI, not romantically). He doesn’t say much, mostly just a word or two, but it’s as if he’s saying everything that needs to be explicated. It's in the manner he says them, which is..indifferent. Just unfeeling. He will live as he should be—indifferent to others’ opinions, and will be himself at any cost.

I know I don't need to post this, but I just can't resist it: someone blogged this picture at Tumblr and said the model reminds her of Roark. I agree with her. Well, the rind-orange hair, the facial expression of iron conviction....The guy in the 1940’s movie is just too old for the role (I mean, the book-verse Roark is twenty two, and the actor who played him is, what, forty three or something?). Oh yes, I forgot to say—yes, he's just twenty two and it's as if he's already gone through the experiences most sixty-year-olds would have. So coldly intelligent. It quite reminds me of our professor Jet, but he's way too goofy to be Howard Roark. :p


:D And that’s it for January! Tomorrow we’ll have the last day for NSTP. I hope February will be as eventful as this month. Ta-ta!

Review: Son of a Witch

PhotobucketThis sequel to the book Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West follows the adventures of Elphaba’s (implied) son, Liir. The story starts with the discovery of Liir’s body—badly injured, but not dead and with his face still intact, unlike the recent “victims” of a mysterious barbarian crime. From there, the story progressed in a series of alternating present scenes and flashbacks, telling us of Liir’s adventure and his struggle to find his (perhaps) half-sister Nor and his sense of purpose and self-identity.

I’ve always loved how encyclopedic Gregory Maguire made Baum’s Land of Oz, especially in Wicked. The politics and religion he created are intricately woven, and I admire how he created the characters with intelligence. Liir is not your ordinary protagonist: he is filled with doubts, and most of the time he is confused by his emotions, primarily the effect of Elphaba’s death on him. The poor soul-searching boy tries to find sense in his life by seeking the company of other people—quite the opposite of Elphaba, who is content in being alone.

Aside from search for self-identity, it as well tackles the issue: if you’re a child of a powerful figure, does it necessarily mean you can equal what your parent can do? Liir often thinks of what Elphaba—if she really is his mother—will do if she is in his shoes. Most of the time his knees will wobble, clobbered by self-doubt, but there are moments where he will stand up to leave a mark of his own. This is not your average bildungsroman.

There are certain parts, though, where the prose becomes too embellished and superfluous. I think Maguire is a little pressured by the positive reviews about how greatly he (re)crafted the Land of Oz in Wicked that he worked so much to ‘amaze’ the readers with this next installment. This intention didn’t really fail, but some elements are being affected. The plotline itself twists from one path to another and another and another, until the reader is lost and will be sent asking: where the hell is this heading? The ending didn’t quite satisfy me, but maybe that’s why there’s a third book. ;D

The best thing about Son of a Witch, I think, is that Maguire is able to show the readers how a fairytale can be as dark and as real as the happenings in real life. The politics, religion, personal issues, even sexuality, they’re all tackled very well. I will certainly watch out for the next book A Lion Among Men. *is just waiting for the paperback issue*

Review: Dead Until Dark

In Charlaine Harris’s world, vampires had become a part of mainstream society after the Japanese biomedical group invented synthetic blood. In fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana, a barmaid named Sookie Stackhouse finds herself smitten by a 173-year-old vampire, Bill—not because he is tall, dark, and handsome but because he is….silent. Not in a way that he doesn’t talk too much, but in a sense that Sookie can’t hear his mind. Yes, Sookie can hear minds, an ability (or handicap, if you’ll ask her) that made her look like a retard when sometimes she will answer or react to somebody’s thoughts.

There’s romance, there’s humor, there’s fantasy—and then there’s mystery. I heard that Harris has a good reputation as a mystery novelist before she even started the Southern Vampire Series, and it shows. There’s a string of murders in Bon Temps, the victims women fang-bangers who have vampire bite marks. It’s not that hard to guess who the killer is, but the fun lies in how the characters go on and find it all out by themselves.

And oh, yes, the characters. They make the story more worth a read. The readers meet the characters through Sookie’s perspective while being taught what kind of character Sookie herself really is. There are ordinary humans, humans who don’t seem to be like humans, vampires, shape-shifters…I admire how neat Harris writes all of them. In my honest opinion, I don’t see any Mary Sue or Gary Stu around. Great is a writer who doesn’t tell how perfect, handsome/beautiful, romantic, gentlemanly, elegant, [insert related adjectives here] a character is for him to be loved by the readers. Well, that is if the readers are not teenyboppers who writhe and drool over such a character, which are hard to find in the younger generation reader’s bracket—especially females. Come on, let’s face that hard fact. :P If Harris has to say that a character is beautiful, she simply writes, ‘beautiful’. She doesn’t pen in painfully detailed description, which is what writing should really be. You can tell I’m dying to mention a certain book here, but I’ve decided to dedicate a separate post for it. :D Which I think will be quite long.

Dead Until Dark is a real page-turner. While I’m quite familiar with most of the elements, there are still some scenes that will provide surprise. Funny, smart, and sexy, this book is worth a read and I’ll certainly grab the next books of the Southern Vampire series.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Next Chapter: Blank

A chapter closes and another opens, and so the fairytale of this plain wench continues.

I’ve grown up.

As a pseudo-Cinderella, I’m still wearing my ‘rubber shoes’. I just turned eighteen, and this made a silent signal that I can shake the shoes off now and replace them with pretty glass slippers: “A woman now, you’re a woman now! Frolic a bit, waltz your way into balls where you can meet your Prince Charming!”

I’m sorry little cliché storyline, but I’m not going to do that. The road ahead is still long and winding and dangerous, and putting on glass slippers is pretty much like hurting myself. There will be obstacles in the road and there will be circumstances that will require me to run. Glass slippers will shatter at the slightest of force, but my rubber shoes, old and a bit a-tatter but strengthened by the previous running sessions I had before, will take me to the end.

I’ve grown up.

I’m not saying I’m completely ignoring the romance department. It’s just…not too important at the moment. Who knows, I might run into a wandering Knight in Shining Armor at the side of the road while I'm traveling! Not that I’m really dreaming of it—I’m no damsel in distress anyway—but yeah, who knows? After all, the greatest bliss is sometimes found by serendipity.

In the previous chapter of my life, these are the things I’ve learned:

I didn’t have pumpkins that turn into coaches, but I have my family and friends that offered their help when sometimes I got too exhausted from my traveling.

I didn’t have a beautiful gown, but I wore my heart on my sleeve.

I didn’t have a Fairy Godmother, but I have God. (I have God, I always repeat that to myself and clutch it to my heart. That’s why despite being clobbered by my inner demons and by a “condition”, I’m still alive. I’m still living my life, continuing my tale).

There were “stepsister” figures too, some frank and prickly, some acting as if concerned kin in public but wishing me the worst when the onlookers were gone. My story wouldn’t have been this colorful if not for them—I wouldn’t have been this strong if not for them—so their presence is more than appreciated.

I’ve grown up.

When the clock struck twelve, I didn’t run in fear that someone might see who the real me is, for all along I have been who I am.

In the next chapter entitled 2010, the same characters will be present. Their roles might change, some characters may barge in, a dragon might come and destroy it all. We’ll never know when we’re already there, and it’s about time we take a sneak peek of the epic adventure waiting ahead of us.

When I turn the last page of 2009 to greet a new beginning, all I see is a BLANK page.

Why blank? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my life is a fairytale of sorts, but not of the common kind—I’m not the princess, I’m its writer. Happy ending or not, it all depends on where I’ll turn the pen point.

I’ve grown up and I will continue to grow up.

And the writing begins.

(cross-posted to Livejournal and Multiply)