Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sketches of a neophyte

As I have promised myself yesterday, I started drawing again and this time it’s not the usual drawing style I’m using. This is the first page of the sketchbook I bought a couple of days ago:



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I’m still testing the waters; this is the first time I’m doing still life seriously. I did try before, but it’s just all for kicks and I usually end up doing them in the style I’m comfortable using. The scanner sort of screwed up the shadings, but then again, I suck big time at the shading part so I think it’s okay. I copied the fedora from a clothing brochure while that mug is the one I used this morning for coffee (ugh we’ve run out of creamer and milk!). I’m enormously dissatisfied with the shadows. I’m searching for lessons online on how to get it right.
Perhaps I’ll draw an item a day to further hone this little skill.

Practice...practice…practice… *yawns*

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Faux Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Whenever I think I need some kind of a mind-squeeze or if I think my life’s routines are being too soporific, I always pick up a book either by Neil Gaiman or Haruki Murakami. They have distinct styles, but both have this talent of bringing the readers farther into the depths of their books, towards someplace faraway, somewhere a reader could trudge into unfamiliar territories and yet make them feel at home. I could ramble some more about this duo, but let’s concentrate on Murakami this time since this “review” is about a work of his.



Murakami’s themes are always titillating—talking cats, mind prostitutes, oedipal prophecies, surreal sexual encounters, and that ever-present literary style he uses to blur the line between reality and the subconscious. There is always something in his every work that will definitely stick to your mind. While his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running did not offer exactly the same recipe, it still left something indelible in my mind, something that any athletic man and anyone who wants to pursue a writing career will enjoy and benefit from. This short account tells Murakami’s training for the New York City marathon. I’ve never thought of Murakami as the athletic type before, even if some of his characters did show some interest in sports or are somewhat health-conscious (i.e. going to the gym in a regular basis, going for a walk, etc.). After learning what kind of runner he is, I think he had just boosted my respect for him up another notch.

For all it’s worth this is just a faux review or a string of mindless ramblings, because I think everybody knows you are not meant to critique someone’s diary the way you critique a real novel. This book is more or less composed of his journal entries at that time—it’s a rather awesome treat for a fan like me, because Murakami is a guardedly private man. There were some things here that he retained from his fictional works: his keen eye for detail is one. Descriptions, not only of surroundings but of emotions and physical pains as well, are always masterful. This guy has a good sense of humor too, one that does not fade from the first sentences of his foreword up to the last page. That’s what made me enjoy this more than I should: it felt so informal and so close.

It is as well philosophical but never boring. He talked about his days as jazz club owner, his first “eureka!” moment when he decided to become a writer, and all the years that went by up to the present days when he is a world renowned author. To add a more personal touch, he also included a list of music he liked listening to: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gorillaz, Beck, Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, etc.

As a whole, it mostly tackles discipline and talent, triumphs and failures. In both areas of writing and running, Murakami pointed out the why’s of trying to outdo ourselves or to do better once the goal we are aiming for is finally achieved; the importance of talent and the essence of knowing the things you don’t know; the other weapons in our arsenal when we thought we ran out of things to use in the battles in life, ones that we think we do not have. I would not be able to do justice to Murakami as a runner if I would try to write it here, for saying that he is a disciplined athlete sounds a tad of an understatement—you have to read the memoir yourself to understand that fully. As a writer, I think anyone who has read something by him will understand what I wanted to say when I put here that he is one of my favorites.

He ended the book with a dedication, both literal and metaphoric one, not only for running but also for life as a whole: “Finally, I dedicate this book to all runners I’ve encountered on the road—those I’ve passed, and those who’ve passed me. Without all of you, I never would have kept on running.”

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Drabble: Tetrominoes

Warning: contains angst.

___

“Maybe it's the falling tetrominoes that represent my memories of you. I arrange them, rotate them by ninety degree units and if they land perfectly, watch them disappear as they hit the bottom of the screen. Just like how the waves dance till they hit land and vanish."

The young man frowned. "Your point being?"

The same two words—GAME OVER—that dominated the screen earlier flashed again, mocking her. "Do you remember the day when you said we were the same? We'll never be. You were empty, and in the end you said I was not. Now, the situation's reversed."

She paused for effect. "I'm empty now. I'm weightless because I refuse to keep memories."

"You speak in riddles," he interrupted. "I thought I made it clear that I have more important things to do."

"But refusing to keep them," she continued, as though she never heard him speak, "Doesn't necessarily mean forgetting them. I can't get out of my past. I'm through with it, but it's not through with me yet."

She slowly cupped the device in both hands and lifted it with care, as if it were something as delicate and precious as ancient china. Tetris would always be her favorite game.

"My memories, they're like the blocks. They come in different forms and shapes, sometimes more twisted. I toy with them in my head, feel them roam around and ram against each other while I wonder what I've done for them to hunt me like this. I see glimpses of explosions and blood, I feel the nauseating touch of every man that turned me into a living dead in exchange for money. I'm brought back to the days where I decided to enter the battlefield as a spy and cook for someone else while my sick siblings starve at home. I see your face."

"You're still playing with that?" he asked, pointedly looking at the electronic game, as though he never heard her speak.

It stung. Realizing that the unseen sluicegates had been removed and no real emotion poured felt like being slapped.

"The rules of this game are simple," she went on, sugarcoating the pain with a sneer. "Make the figures disappear when they fall and you'll stay alive and advance to the next level. That's what I do. I refuse to keep them, I detach myself from them—that's why I'm so weightless. But you see, when the perfect structure vanishes at the bottom, another batch of blocks will fall. The blocks are a part of the game. The waves are a part of the ocean. My memories are a part of me. It's an unending cycle."

He took three paces towards her. "You're selfish."

Like the words he let out cast a paralysis spell on her, she wasn't able to move when his hand went to tip her chin. She wasn't a bit astonished when he caught her mouth into his roughly; she expected it. Almost against her own volition, her arms went up to encircle his neck and she began to nip back, tasting him and all the things he gave life to by using his lips: the metallic taste of the flute's mouthpiece, the rusty tang of blood from the countless cuts it got, perhaps even the kisses of other women he'd spent and spending his nights with…
____

Why only now?

Certain people don’t matter to me anymore. I’ve put up with their trash for so long—I’m finally ploughing my mind out of the gutter. :P

It actually feels good, a thick layer of stress off my shoulder. It feels good to not care about or buy their crap; sometimes when I chance upon one, I just laugh like every particle of oxygen in the air is replaced by nitrous oxide. Entertainment ftw!

My only regret is that I’ve only done this now. I could’ve done this long, long ago. I wasted a precious amount of time, but what can I do? Must live in the present and believe what I hold in my heart to be true.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When life gives you lemons, make…ah, wait, what if I don’t want lemonade?

There will be times in your life when your mood balloon will deflate, the “helium” in it sucked out by even your littlest pet peeve. There will be times when all you want to do is to run away somewhere no one will ask you why you did what you did. There will be times when you will scrape your knees badly from falling too hard or too often, and because of all those hackneyed adages about getting up, you will get up even if it’s against your own volition. There will be times when you will have your heart broken, and then you will say life goes on even if inch by inch as you walk on, a bit of yourself is being left to a certain stopover where the shards are scattered. There will times when some highly hypocritical people will mock you for a mistake, just one tiny mistake, and look at you as if you were the stupidest creature to ever stand on two feet. There will be times when you will encounter certain people whom you will build relationships with, and in the end you will realize that no one except that plain face in the mirror will be able to get you to your destination—which is, according to the popular belief, actually the journey.

And those are the loose threads of the beautifully intricate patchwork of your life. If it gives you lemons, well…who said all you can make out of it is lemonade? Everybody has said a lot about it in jest. Some joked, “When life gives you lemons, build a lemonade stand and use the profits of your business to buy a machine gun. Let's see if life makes the same mistake twice.” Another one said, “When life gives you lemons, you make grape juice and stand back as the world watches amazed wondering how you did it.”

They’re all old jokes, but even so they still make a lot of sense. It’s up to you how you will make the best out of a bad situation.

Go blow your mood balloon up with all the things you love, and make it a big enough so it can serve as some kind of a hot air balloon to start your journey towards your dreams, there up high. Stop running because you won’t and will never be able to run away from yourself: the best way out of a problem is through it, they say. Learn that the greatest are not those who do not fall, but those who fall and believe that they will be better once they get up and run again. Shove away the comments of other people about your imperfection, because giving them attention also gives them the illusion that they will feel good in their own skin if they manage to hurt you. And finally, trust that face in the mirror, because that’s the only one who knew the right path towards your dreams.

When you do that, each pulp of the lemons life gave you will serve its purpose to help you grow up. :D

Another GW lifeline

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Last April I got this news from a friend saying that there’s a new GW novel to be published. Of course I did not believe it at first (why, I’ve encountered so many hoaxes before) so I sought for the official announcement in the internet about the book. It did not take me long to know it’s abso-freaking-lutely true, since the news already stirred the GW fan sites I’ve been frequenting.

After fifteen long years, after thinking that this fandom will finally pop its clogs, after just fangirling and sharing fanworks in forums and fan sites, then comes this new spin-off, appearing in front of us like the glimmering silver lining of dark, heavy mammatocumulus clouds. *smacks self for the exaggerated analogy*
But seriously, it means there’s a new lifeline for the fandom, yes? It’s still going to be alive. I doubt that the novel would be set after Endless Waltz, where the narrator indicated that mobile suits were never seen again after the People Power-like events in the movie. But then again, you remember what he said: “As long as there are humans, there will always be wars/fighting.” About time the creators justify that statement via a new novel.

I really miss the show, and it’s been months since I last wrote a fic for it. Plot bunnies are leaping about, but I still have to find time to write it down and end the long hiatus at FFN. I wonder how the writers there are able to produce stories so fast…maybe they’re some sort of automatons (LOL)? I hope that the novel will give hints, I don’t care no matter how subtle, for Quatre and Dorothy. YES, yes I ship this crack-ish pair, they’re my OTP (closely followed by 1xR), got any problems with that? *loads twin buster rifle*

Second Look (NPB Poetry)

My first newspaper blackout poetry. It's a tad too short, but I think it's okay. I'm still testing the waters.

Second Look

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Our world only minds
the way we live our lives.
We see it fast
from that second look.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bookworm-Juggernaut. Nothing stops it. :)

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I purchased all these books for only 10php each. :) One of the staff writers of Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the company where I’m having my practicum, has heaps of boxes containing old books she’d read. She sold some books to us interns. I think the original plan is to donate them somewhere, but we were asked first if we want to buy them. :D

First book I secured—the interns were attacking the stacks like hungry hyenas, seriously—is Michael Crichton’s Next. I first saw this book last year in National Bookstore (Tutuban) and it’s worth 375php. Lucky me, yeah? I think Miss Lara bought this in Bangkok, as indicated in the price tag and the bookmarks inside. I was quite intrigued by Crichton after I discovered he wrote Jurassic Park. I’ve been wanting to check him out, but Gaiman books that I haven’t read yet would turn up under my nose and the next thing I remember, I’m clutching a a plastic-full of Gaiman goodness. Crichton’s forgotten. XD I’m glad I was able to buy this at such a heavenly price. :D

Next find is a book by the renowned author of His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedbacks about his books. Might give him a try this time, and the first work I’ll read is Count Karlstein.
The Dumas Club involves something about authentication of a manuscript by Alexandre Dumas. I think it’s quite investigative and has something to do with paranormal and related stuff. :3 I’m wondering if I’ll read this first after I finish Fragile Things.

I have to secure the John Updike book carefully because a co-intern from UP really wanted it. Well, I wanted it too LOL. I have the e-books of The Robber Bride andShe’s Come Undone because I couldn’t obtain the real thing before; now they’re here. Serendipity much? :D

It’s going to be the first time I’ll be reading something by Jordan Dane and Stendhal. Hope they’re good! Another book that is not in the photo, Wanderlust, is borrowed by our neighbor…I have this feeling that I will never see that book again. LOL.

No matter how busy I may be, bookworming won’t stop. :D