Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Dance Dance Dance

In this novel, Haruki Murakami proved to me yet again that he's the master of surreal literature and idiosyncratic prose. As expected, there's a quirky set of characters: a man in a Sheep costume taking refuge in an alternate world, first-class prostitutes billed to Mastercard, a thirteen-year-old rock music-loving psychic, a matinee idol who only gets to play the wholesome roles of dentists and professors, a forgetful photographer who has a one-armed poet as her inamorato, and an unnamed narrator who tries to figure out his real connections to the world of reality and the world that exists only for him.

The story is about a commercial freelance writer being haunted by his dreams of a crying girl--his lost love--that seems to be calling from the old Dolphin Hotel. He goes back to the hotel, getting caught in a web of peculiar people, sexual fantasies and realities, lots of death, a metaphysical world...and did I already say lots of death? :) Really, it almost has this Final Destination feel to it.

It's not really fast-paced, but it won't let the reader fall into ennui as each page is basked in a variety of offbeat elements. The set of characters is one. Another is the humor. The narrator's introspections are most of the time serious and morbid, though there are moments where his thoughts would come off darkly humorous. The reactions of people around him (the stubborn Yuki in particular) got me cracking up. His banters with the thirteen-year-old girl are the best.

Third, the music. There's a lot of thinly-veiled music recommendation there (or maybe it's just me...I don't know, but I searched for every music that the narrator played while lounging in hotel rooms and while driving his Subaru).

It kind of reminds me of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle in some aspects (Gotanda's divorce is reminiscent of Toru Okada's, Yuki sort of reminds me of May Kasahara, the narrator and Toru Okada are both freelance writers, and the alternate worlds as plot devices). I like The Wind-Up bird more, but Dance Dance Dance is still a wonderful read all in all, a treat to someone who needs an occasional mindscrew. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pencil Lines and Heavy Shades


Nothing new, just a drawing I made perhaps three or four years ago, when I'm on the highest peak of my love for manga and anime. I was working as a writer/illustrator/editorial cartoonist for our high school organ The Baranggay (Lakan Dula High School), and by then I was thinking that maybe I should pursue a course related to arts or drawings. My dreams of becoming a writer got the better of me, though, so here I am, taking AB Journalism.

I didn't regret my decision but I didn't stop drawing. Why should I? Drawing's been the way I communicate what I feel when I don't feel like pouring it all out in the form of words. There's always an idea and an emotion (and sometimes a story) I encorporate in every drawing I make. Sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. It's a form of release, and through it I'm making an indirect conduit of myself that is also in search of confidantes--viewers who will understand what I'm trying to say.

There are abstractions that you can't simply put into words, even in poems. Sometimes only the reckless pencil lines, heavy shades, and obscure details of a two-dimensional artwork can represent them with justice.

I'm glad I can draw tonight.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Of Book Hangovers and Prologues to Dreams

Despite of heaps upon heaps of work I have (again) today—some related to school, some to work, some to…somebody else’s school (LOL)—I seem to feel no exhaustion at all because of this:


Yep! Another Murakami book! Why, I think letting yourself be immersed in a substitute world created by someone else is one of the best things you can ever do before hitting the sack. In my case now, reading Dance Dance Dance seems to provide little prologues to my nightly dreams (needless to say, they’re almost always weird). I bought this along with The Fountainhead last month—I have to take time to let my hangover from Rand’s mighty tome subside before reading anything, so I started Dance Dance Dance just this Monday. Well, FYI, my little “hangover” is still here, and I figured that if I’ll wait myself to “sober up” it’ll take…what, years before I’ll read someone else’s book? LOL, no exaggeration. Yeah, yeah, here I am shamelessly blathering about TFH again…

Anyway, I’m fourteen chapters into the book and…well, what can I say? I’m trying hard to find a Murakami book that I won’t like, but it seems I’m doomed to fail. XD Great characters as always! And like his other books, this one seems to recommend music that I think Murakami himself likes, remembering what kind of tracks were included in his personal playlist (as mentioned in his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running). :D Oldies, classical, pop, name it!

It’s been eons since I last read a Murakami book and it sort of felt nostalgic. Hee! I want to reread The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle now!! XD

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cupid's Day Out: Thinking outside the box

I was browsing for new Valentine's Day deviations at DA last night and stumbled upon these awesome artworks. And since I have no V-day entry of any kind, let's have it in some form of mixed artwork-spazzing-and-commentary (LOL). Thanks to mamu Kit by the way, because she blogged something about reposted pictures from Tumblr and inspired this post. :)


The Cupid Hunter by Pacha Urbano. In this very clever drawing, the artist depicted himself as the Cupid Hunter. I find the heap of blond cupids there very cute (in a morbid way, that is). No blood of course, because I think the creator wants it to be humorous, nothing serious at all. It makes me think of a story behind this the artist trying to exact revenge on the cupids because of some past experience about romance? LOL. It wasn't stated in the artist's comments, but I think if there's a story accompanying this, that would be the first one. :D


HeartsForSale by AyameFataru. I love this deviation. The details, even the minutest ones, are well-drawn. The artist explained about the wings--people have been commenting on its size--saying that it's intended to be really small to give Cupid a sense of innocence. I don't have any problem on the wings, really; I love how detailed the feathers on it are. I agree with her that giant wings, as almost everybody depicts angel wings, are just an anime cliche. The shading is gorgeous. And the artist's an anatomy drawing expert *looks at the brawn*.


The Cupid with a Gun by Valkea. A black and white and red crayon drawing. Oh, the about defying the stereotype. It looks like bow and arrows wouldn't have an effect on today's people's hearts, eh? I like the idea. Gotta love the shading, of course. I wish I can do this with crayons. XD


Cupid and Psyche by adifferentusername3. First off, I want to say how awesome and creative the artist is for taking a username like that. LOL! Anyway, I think I'm a sucker for artworks with exceptional shadings like this. In a comment, the artist said he "wanted it to feel kinda warm and sunny without being too bright". Which, in my opinion, is an effect he achieved. Colors red, orange, and yellow are my favorite when it comes to drawings, and when I draw with oil pastel, the effects are so vivid and bright. It kind of betrays the mood when the drawing is supposed to be sad. :( I think I'll use water color next time. Kudos to this AP concentration! (Sheet music is from The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera)

Cupid Gone Bad by Windy999. I used to draw my editorial cartoons like this, and the Cupid here sort of resembles how I drew terrorists. XD The artist made this for some Anti-Valentine Contest at DA. Well, she did a good job at making Cupid humorously scary, but I think adding the bandoleer of ammunitions there was a bit unnecessary. I believe she can still make it look badass without that. It wouldn't have been out of place if she put a rifle or something *points at Cupid with a Gun deviation above*. Still a great drawing all in all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Neil Gaiman in Manila!

What turned me into a gooey heap of squealing fangirl when I went online tonight is summed up in this picture:


YES, you read that right! NEIL GAIMAN IN MANILA, zOMG!! A book signing event with NEIL HIMSELF!! Yaaaaay! aassdfghjkl;'!

*tries to compose self*

Geez. I really want to go there, but I'll have to buy 2,000php worth of books by Neil Gaiman (in a single receipt) in order to obtain a book signing pass. Now where do I get that money?????? *sigh* If I'll go....this will totally destroy the budget plan I prepared for the last months of this semester. If I won't, I'm going to miss a very, VERY important event where I can meet the person who inspired me the most to write stories of my own.....


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Homage to Stevey :)

I just finished my "sculptures" for the Humanities class! It's been ages since I last touched a lump of Play-Doh or anything resembling a modeling clay, and I was quite unsure now if I could mold something worthy of being called a "project". Funny, but I felt quite satisfied when I finished them. The project was due Tuesday, but I have lots of free time today they are! (Sorry for the low quality pictures! They're just cellphone cam photos; my DSLR's not with me..)


You don't how much The Fountainhead inspired me. I modeled this one after Steven Mallory's masterpiece in the Stoddard Temple--yep, Dominique's naked statue. And guess what? YES, I'm made of fail! EPIC fail! I almost gave up finishing this one because the facial details are....just made of lose. I can't even carve the lips right....and the EYES.....*cries* Steven would be mad at me when he sees this (and boy, did I just become a second-hander? LOL). Naw, 'tis just a homage for my favorite fictional sculptor of all time. :D I used two bars of white clay for this, and took me almost an hour to complete.


Now, since I still have an extra bar of white clay and ennui-ridden after-dinner hours, why not make another sculpture? I tried my hand at a cherub. It does look like a cherub, imho, but one that can be found in graveyards, one that has been left for time to corrode. Still made of fail, and it would still make Steve Mallory want to shoot me. XD Yeah, but what the hell. I'm not a sculptor. :P

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Class Dismissed

A sighed farewell
subdued the rainbow into a smear of sepia;
I watched, enfeebled, as you walk
betwixt wakefulness and sleep.

No single footfall resembled
the squeaks of your shoe on hopscotch lines;
No single word reminiscent
of your off-key nursery rhymes.

Stick figures on the margin
penciled by your daydreaming fingers
now towered over our heads,
as concrete and real as your lies.

No longer do I cry over broken crayons
or wounded knees;
nor do I sing along with your lullabies
that kept me awake the whole night.

Your demon kept on returning
in the classroom where I learned to breathe;
I stepped out to leave your shadow
and learned my real ABC’s.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Tragedy's Comedy

Brandish the quill, a sword of words—
cremate the fairytale endings
with the raging flames of your personal rues;
blow away the ghost from their ashes
and breathe.

Stain the parchment with fictional blood—
mutilate the prince with the pen-point,
blacken the princess’ heart with the ink;
scribble a tempest of words for the villain’s eternal triumph
and rejoice.

Commence the tale with a happy accident—
twist up the frowns in brittle facades,
summon false hopes and dreams;
start it like the way they ended your tale
and live.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Is the Summer over? [For Debbie Part II]

I haven’t been online the whole day—I’m binging on The Fountainhead, and I’m on the last part already—but I remembered the short story I promised Debbie and here it is. It’s the sequel to this untitled story I wrote here and I while I don’t think it’s up to par, I hope to give Debbie a bit of inspiration (especially now that midterm exams start this week). I should say, though, that it's just very loosely connected to the first installment--you'd know a lot happened between that story and this one.


Is the Summer Over?

He was leaning casually against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest, his usual smile plastered across his face. He looked so serene I thought there was nothing wrong at all, until he held my eyes captive. There was a time when I thought those eyes were actually cut out from the clear, starlit sky: dark, but strewn with something bright and sparkling, symbolizing hope.

Now, as I stare straight right into them, I thought I saw a storm—and I know hell would freeze over before he would let a drop from that storm go past his eyelashes.

“What’s wrong?” I asked warily.

“Nothing,” he automatically answered, and before I could even arch an eyebrow, he added: “Everything.”
I didn’t know what to say to him then, but he went up to me and gathered me in his arms. He guided me in a dance—a waltz, I figured, even if we both know we didn’t know how to waltz at all—with the three-four beats of our hearts as the music. I felt safe and calm in those arms, and when he gently detached them from me, I shivered with the coldness of the empty space between us.

“What’s wrong?” I repeated. “Tell me.”

“Nothing,” he said blankly. He sighed and glanced at the yellowing calendar hanging on the wall. “Look, rainy season’s coming. Summer will be over soon.”

I couldn’t quite imagine why, but I felt a sting in my chest when he said that last sentence. Not for the first time in my life, I regretted being named after the season.

The days passed, and I watched him change drastically. Knowing that he was suffering from something brought me pain; knowing that he wouldn’t confide to me made the pain much harder to bear. Why? Couldn’t he trust me?

Every night I would grab my DSLR and browse through our photographs, sometimes cursing, sometimes just trying to recapture the warmth of the memories they represent, sometimes crying. My tears would dribble on the LCD and would blur a picture of him—quite a metaphoric way of telling he was not the guy I used to know, to laugh with, to love.

The rainy season came. For some reason, I was glad it rains almost always every week; it was as if the weather reflected my insides. Gray clouds would roll by the way my bleak thoughts would tumble one over the other: restless, merciless, sometimes even suffocating. Rainwater would pound on the roof the way my heart would drum against my chest: a senseless succession of thud-thud-thud

I found him slouched on the window sill in his room one afternoon. His head was turned away from me, facing the dreary weather outside, and the smoke spewing out from his cig swirled about. He sensed my presence and looked at me, offering a sincere smile. It was a brittle smile.

“Hey,” he said in an undertone, as if he didn’t want to acknowledge me at all. “You know, I love summer.”
I swallowed the lump that gathered at my throat. “I know. I’ve always known.”

“But you see,” his voice broke, “there’s no such thing as a year-long summer. Rain will come, and everything I love about summer will have to say good bye to me…for the time being. All of those: the white-sand beaches, the sea, our little bonfire concerts, the empty beer cans. The very heat of the sun—that’s what I’ll miss the most. I know it’s kind of senseless, since almost everyday the temperature can scald our skin, but the summer sunshine is different.”

His smile broadened, but it was sad. “Oh, no,” he said, “Let me retract what I just said. What I’ll miss the most about summer is…” he shrugged. “Well, summer. Summer itself.” He threw his cig on a nearby ashtray
“You’re…saying good bye?”

“For the time being.”


“Summer, look. I just need some time. I need to—”

“Actually, I don’t believe in the crap they call soul-searching,” I snapped, not angrily, but bitterly. “You shouldn’t have sputtered out those things about the ‘summer season’. You should’ve spared me the time and the lies.”

“But I meant that about the summer season,” he said placidly. “Both literally and figuratively. And I can’t remember a moment I lied to you, not even once. Come here, you’re shaking.”

He left the sill, shrugged off his jacket and enveloped me with it, his arms locking around me. I sniffed and jerked him and his jacket off. I readied another spicy response, but when I looked at him—really looked at him, I mean, for the first time since I entered the room—my anger just evaporated to be replaced with concern.

“You look ill,” I said, and it was true. “You’re the one who should wear this. Don’t be stubborn.”
“But I don’t want my Summer to be cold.”

“I said don’t be stubborn. Here, it’s yours, wear it. Wear it, for god’s sake, or you’ll kill yourself! What the hell have you been doing?” I slid my hand to his forehead and gasped. “You’re hot!”

He chuckled. “I know I am. You once voted for me as the hottest guy in the group—”

“Shut the hell up, you moron. I don’t mean that.”

He chuckled some more, but let himself be guided to his bed. I practically made a cocoon of all the blankets and sheets, and he barely had the energy to protest. I’ve never cooked for myself before, but I marched into the kitchen that afternoon, recipe book in one hand and utensils on the other. I prepared him some kind of chowder, but…hell, it was a poor excuse for a dish that wouldn’t even pass Fear Factor standards. I set out and bought him soup from a nearby food chain, fed him, and chided him for not taking care of himself. He laughed quietly and shook his head, blushing—whether from the heat of his fever or…something else, I wasn’t so sure. Night came and I stayed by his side, monitoring his condition, giving him medicine.

“I want to sleep,” he yawned. I arched a brow.

“Then go to sleep.”

“Make me.”


“I said make me. Lullaby?”

 I laughed and made all sorts of mocking sounds, but he didn’t seem to take offense; he laughed as well, and in that meek sound I know he really wanted me to sing a cradlesong for him. I tucked the blankets higher up to his chin and I began humming, my own voice sounding foreign to my own ears, but peaceful nonetheless.

He was well the next morning. He stretched and yawned and smiled a toothy smile. He was going away, he told me, “for the time being.” He would be back. There was just some sort of problem at home, he said.

“And that’s what I meant about the metaphorical rainy season—not what you thought. I’m not going away for soul-searching or whatever, because, you know, I don’t believe in that crap either. You’re always paranoid. It’s not like I’m going to leave you or something. I’m leaving school for some…personal reason. Nothing really big, but I won’t be around for quite some time.”

“Why shouldn’t you tell me that reason?”

He smiled. “There are things I want to protect you from. This is one of them.”

“I don’t need any protection.”

“Yes you do,” he said, then mulled about it. "Alright, maybe you don't, but I want to give it to you whether you need it or not.”

I held my chin up proudly, ready to contest whatever he would say, but his smile just melted all what I prepared for that conversation, reducing me into a mere listener, accepting whatever should be accepted. I listened to what has not been said, and I understood.

..I think it's going to be a trilogy. XD I want to write more in this verse, and all I have to do is wait for whatever will happen in Debbie's real love life. Hee!

La Petit Mort

A poem I wrote for our school's literary folio this year, Equipoise. Actually inspired by one of my fanfics (Trompe Lo'eil), but is a bit "recrafted" to suit the theme.

His heart was a reassembled puzzle
When he came to offer me
a brewing tempest.
Feigning reluctance, donning false coy smiles
I took his hand,
and we played in the rain.

Look up--
dark clouds splayed the sky's skirt open,
pushing themselves in to quench the thirst
of the moist earth below.
Drizzle sluiced warmly with sensuous gentleness;
pounding rain stroked, glided in secret alleyways,
sucked on healthy knolls,
kissed sides of tall edifices,
licked off the last light of day away
until erotic sighs of faraway thunders crescendoed.
It was slow, slow, oozing with heat sans emotions.

Look straight--
the first bite of darkness marked
a more savage tempo;
faster and harder and deeper into the soil,
until it was breath-taking
and merciless
and inexplicably ecstatic;
a cruel crash of thunder shook us,
ending it all.

Note (from Wikipedia): La Petit Mort, a French term for "little death", is a metaphor for orgasm. More widely, it can refer to the spiritual release that comes with orgasm, or a short period of melancholy or transcendence, as a result of the expenditure of the "life force".

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Norwegian Wood

At last, a Murakami book on the big screen! I've heard rumors about this before, but I haven't confirmed it until I chanced upon a link on tumblr about it.

The official synopsis of the movie goes like this:

“I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.”

The melancholy tune and sentiment of this classic Beatles song seems to have taken the life of Toru Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama), who is similarly uncertain as to how he should view his relationships. At heart, a quiet and serious young Tokyo college student in 1969, Watanabe, is deeply devoted to his first love, Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi), a beautiful and introspective young woman. But their mutual passion is made by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Watanabe lives with the influence of death everywhere, while Naoko feels as if some integral part of her has been permanently lost. On the night of Naoko’s 20th birthday, they finally made love to each other. However, shortly thereafter Naoko decided to quit college and become a recluse. It is at that time Midori (Kiko Mizuhara) – a girl who is everything that Naoko is not: outgoing, vivacious, supremely self-confident – marches into Watanabe's life and he has to choose between his future and his past.

Well, that's it! I'm so much into a fangirly mood whenever I think about this that I can't type anything rational (or anything that wouldn't annoy you, like zOMFGit'sNorwegianWood yaaaay!! yaaay asdfdghghjkl;). hahahah! *tries to compose self*

About the book, I'll definitely recommend it. I haven't read all of Murakami's works, and while I like them all (I know, I know, I'm biased) I'll say this one took the cake. I first read it in 2007, my freshman year in Lyceum, and it's kinda remarkable because I approached ate Kat for the first time. XD Haha! We traded Murakami books then--I gave her the legendary doorkeeper The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, and she gave me Norwegian Wood. :))

Oh well. The movie will be out this year...on December. And that's the release date in Japan. Gaaaaaah!! This is going to be torture. The stills from it are already killing me, and I still have to wait a year (of course it'll be released outside Japan on 2011!). *sniffs*

Stills? Here:

Toru and Naoko. There's something so Winter-Sonata-ish about this, eh? :D'


Toru and Greeeeeeen! Hehe, I mean, Toru and Midori. :D
More stills from this site!