Saturday, December 31, 2011

11 Books that Rocked my ‘11

BOOKS THAT ROCKED MY YEAR
And as promised...now that we are only a few hours shy of 2012, I’d like to pick eleven literary works that rocked my year of incurable bookwormism—books that earned a special place in my heart for making me laugh, cry, or laugh and cry; for inspiring me and challenging me; for introducing me to new universes, both in their pages and in the real world; and most of all, for being good friends when everyone else acts like strangers. :’) And with that I became the recipient of Most Dramatic Bookworm Award lol.

Without further ado, here are my 11 bests of 2011 in no particular order:
  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  2. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
  3. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
  4. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  5. Paper Towns by John Green (technically a reread, but it’s more awesome the second time around)
  6. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  7. The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy by Leah Wilson
  8. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  9. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
  10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  11. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Runners up!
   11.1 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
   11.2 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
   11.3 Blood Red Road by Moira Young

And there you have it! It’s been a good year for books, and I’m looking forward to meeting new book-friends and bookworm-friends in the future. :) Happy new year, everyone! DFTBA!
___

I’ll post my RL year-end post later. Right now, I just need some sleep…

Year-End Book (and Book Blogging) Survey

December 31! Before I go all dramatic again and stroll down my not-so-eventful offline memory lane, I'll just do some "book business" and answer this year-end literary survey. I've seen this more than thrice in my dash so I guess I'll answer it. Apologies in advance...I may be publishing a lot of entries today. Thanks for understanding! :))

1. The Best Book You Read In 2011?
This question is probably one of the pet peeves I will never ever be able to get rid of. It never fails to render me tongue-tied every time—not in a good way, obviously—there’s so many to choose from! Haha. That said, I have a lot of favorites in different genre. For the record, I have a post in my drafts about my top 11 favorite books of 2011! I’m saving it up for later (later as in a few minutes after I post it on Tumblr). I’ll just pick randomly from that list, okay?

2. The Most Disappointing Book or a Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?
Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it. You can read all my thoughts in my review. Runner-up’s Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun. Normally, I always get smitten with Murakami’s oh-so-surreal works, but this one’s an exception. There’s just something…off about it. Anyway, you know the drill—click and find out more. :p

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. I wouldn’t have picked this book if it solely brandished a regular soulmate formula, but the nerd factor involved in its blurb (and its title, duh!) convinced me to try it. It was amazing, and not just in a geeky kind of way. Also in a flabbergasted oh-my-god-it-shattered-my-heart-but-still-made-me-smile-at-the-end kind of way. See the review to find out more!

Runners-up are: the ultimate music-and-romance YA book Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and the lesbian Cinderella story Ash by Malinda Lo.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
The Book Thief and The Solitude of Prime Numbers. Oh, and also Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why! Because they’re awesome, okay? Also, I know I’ve finished Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy in 2010, but I repeatedly shoved them down everyone’s throats recommended them to everyone throughout the year. Just spreading the love, ‘ya know. Same with all of John Green’s books.

By the way, I think it’s important to mention I’m a Gaimaniac Blogging Machine—I recommend Neil Gaiman’s works every chance I get, even if I don’t read them all in 2011. Yeah, I roll like that.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
Right, I’m going to cheat again because there’s a lot of good series in different genres I discovered this year. I haven’t finished some of them though, either because the remaining books are not released yet or they’re still far down on my to-read list:
  •  The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black (paranormal young adult).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire aka Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin (fantasy, medieval politics).
  • The Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson (thriller/mystery).
  • Benny Imura aka Rot n’ Ruin series by John Maberry (post-apocalyptic/zombie, young adult)
  • Lucifer graphic novels by Mike Carey (fantasy, crime, biblical fiction) .

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?
George R. R. Martin, Markus Zusak, Paolo Giordano, Sherman Alexie, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Diana Peterfreund.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? Actually, I have no problems going out of my comfort zone in terms of reading ever since I can remember. But let’s see…Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division by Deborah Curtis. I don’t read a lot of biographies, but I really enjoyed this one. It’s kind of biased since I’m a Joy Division fan, but whatevs.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
Hmm, in terms of unputdownability (gads, I love the word), I guess the award’s going to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall (yep, I liked Oliver’s debut novel more than her famed dystopian book). They’re just so gripping!

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?
Haruki Murakami’s IQ84. Come on—Murakami writing an ode to George Orwell’s renowned dystopian book, 1984? Who can’t NOT get excited by that? I have all three volumes now, but I’m going to get through them next year.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011? 
The Book Thief
Unfortunately, this is not the version I own. I have the American edition, the one with the dominoes on the cover. The reason I didn’t read The Book Thief right away in 2010, despite hearing loads and loads of temptingly good things about it, is  that I’m trying to find this Doubleday edition. Took me almost a year before I gave up and settled for the Knopf one. I mean, how can you not love this? There’s just something about it that really appeals to me. Dancing with Death, even in illustrations, look so morbidly beautiful and poetic.

11. Most memorable character in 2011?
Unfair! Just one? If this survey is going to continue having questions like this one, I have no choice but to cheat. Just lemme do it, mkay?
  • Cassel Sharpe from White Cat and Red Glove by Holly Black.
  • Arya Stark from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I didn’t talk about her that much in my book review—just the fact that she may be my fictional alter ego if I were to be chucked in the pages of a medieval fantasy book. She's feisty, tomboyish, and she believes she can forge her own destiny. She reminds me of myself in so many ways.
  • Mattia Balossino from The Solitude of Prime Numbers.
  • Norah Silverberg from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?
The Solitude of Prime Numbers (need I say more?), The Book Thief (until I got my hands on this I’ve never enjoyed reading a Death anthropomorph narrating a story that ever exceeded the one in Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels), and The Lover’s Dictionary (I share Levithan’s flair for words!). LOL I should have just referred you to question number 1.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?
You wouldn’t be mad if I say it’s one of the books above, right? Haha.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I should have read this a long time ago!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?
from Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall: “Most of the time—99 percent of the time—you just don’t know how and why the threads are looped together, and that’s okay. Do a good thing and something bad happens. Do a bad thing and something good happens. Do nothing and everything explodes. And very, very rarely—by some miracle of chance and coincidence, butterflies beating their wings just so and all the threads hanging together for a minute—you get the chance to do the right thing.”

from Jodi Picoult’s Weights and Measures (All New Tales anthology): “Medical examiners say a person who died lost twenty-one grams of weight—the measure of a human soul. He realized, though, holding his daughter in his arms, that the scale was all wrong. Loss should have been measured in leagues: the linear time line he would not spend with her as she lost her first tooth, lost her heart over a boy, lost the graduation cap she tossed in a silvered sky. Loss should have been measured circularly, like angles: the minutes between the two of them, the degrees of separation.”

from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Endless Nights: “It wasn’t the loving each other or the knowing they could never be together. It wasn’t the wind in the eaves of the empty house, or the bone-dry rattle of the pills in the brown-glass bottle. It wasn’t the bitter taste, with only a stale box of red wine to wash it away. It wasn’t waking, with her dead and you all too alive. It was the way your fingers shook. It was a stammer, and the thickness of your tongue as you tried to speak. It was the sound of the sirens, coming closer. It was knowing that you would never get another chance.”

I could add more, but I’ll just leave it at three.

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?
Not counting the ones I repeated more than twice above, I guess I’ll reread The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (or at least the first book) before I watch the movie adaptation. :)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.)
Haha! Honestly? The Book Thief and The Solitude of Prime Numbers. There’s a reason why they’re my favorites this year. :p I’m always gushing about these books—group-messaging my friends, fangirling about it online (even joining a contest where I declared my love for one them). They’re not exactly for everybody, I think you should give them a try.

18. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Numbers by Rachel Ward, Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (last book!), The God of Small Things by Arundathi Roy, 1Q84 + a bunch of other books by Murakami. There.

19. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Black Heart (The Curse Workers trilogy book 3) by Holly Black.

 20. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012
 
Just read more, learn more, inspire more, and meet more bookworm friends. :)


————Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2011 (optional)————

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011?
Read Philippines. Technically it’s a forum, but it’s still literature-related. I get to meet more Pinoy bookworms there. :)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2010?
So…awkward. Favorite review that I wrote? *snerks* I don’t know what your standards for favoriting one of your works, but I’ll just choose reviews (that’s right, not just one) that I had so much fun writing
And the trophy goes to the whole Lucifer graphic novel series by Mike Carey: The Devil in the Gateway, Children and Monsters, A Dalliance with the Damned, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, The Mansions of Silence, Exodus, The Wolf Beneath the Tree, Crux, Morningstar, and Evensong. I enjoyed writing them because it’s been a while since I last read and reviewed graphic novels…it’s like reigniting an old love affair. Haha! Reviewing graphic novels and reviewing books are two different things, I tell you.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
I seldom have discussions here or on Tumblr, but I definitely loved peeps’ reaction to my post Graphic Novel: An Underestimated Format. <—That links to another Tumblr, for all the owner’s commentary. I can’t reblog everyone’s answers, but you can just scroll down and click at them.

We also tend to have discussions on TumblrAsks. Mostly they’re recommendations and why I recommend them, but occasionally someone asks about American Gods and why criticizes US, what I think about E-Readers, etc.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog?
Unfortunately, the most thought-provoking metas I encountered this year are not at all book-related. Anyway, I quite liked this Advice to Authors post by Neil Gaiman’s Tumblr. It’s not exactly a discussion, but it’s thought-provoking nonetheless.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?
Every moment of book blogging this year is good in its own way, but I became particularly giddy when Hank Green reblogged my John Green book doodles and said they’re pretty. Haha!

But honestly, there are a lot of moments that garnered special places in my heart.  Those are the instances when I realize I can inspire more people than I expect just by doing what I love. Sometimes all the personal conversations, all the friendly chitchats that get a little deeper day by day, all the thank-you's I’m not sure I deserve...they all make me cry a little. Honestly. There’s one particular person I’m more than glad to help by just being book-buddies and pseudo-sisters with her. I won’t name her here; I’m just really thankful I met her. If memory serves, I  helped her do her homework for English the first time we met! XD She let me check her essay and short story, and from then on the connection we established strengthened. She’s really like my ultimate little sister on the Internet, and she reminds me of my younger self. We’ve talked lots of times about books, but this certain message about my art and blog(s), particularly A Teacup of Stars, is a little more special. I hope she doesn't become too embarrassed when I put this here, even if anonymously:

PHOTO

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
LOL, I’m not really sure. I guess there are some posts at my Tumblr that got lots of notes, especially my book-related artworks. But my favorite entries (that also seem to be a lot of other Tumblr peeps’ favorites) are the 6-Word Short Stories post and this Literacy Foundation GIF set. I love how they are nitpicking at the foundation’s tagline. It’s kind of a faux pas for the LF’s part. :p

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps this post about ZONE Magazine. I wish more people will become interested in contributing to our magazine.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
That wee book stall in the underpass near SM Manila. It’s called Afforda-BOOKS. Their products live up to their name…and everything’s in good condition, too! It’s super-bookworm friendly. I just hope the Audrey Hepburn biography is still there when I come back. :’(

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Yep, at Goodreads. I completed it today!

2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: The Bell Jar

Title: The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
Genre: Autobiographical fiction, coming-of-age fiction
Rating: ★★★★★  

for review

Imagine this: you are perched atop a pedestal and your lucky stars are smiling down on you. It seems like nothing could go wrong, but deep inside there’s this soft hum of doubt in your heart.  Then you catch a glimpse of a fragment of your broken future, rendering you immobile. You look up to find a big bell jar descending upon you, caging you in a glass prison where there is no way out. You feel suffocated; you think of escaping, but every attempt goes awry. The chorus of the voices in your head is singing their dirge for your mind, and the noises from the outside world are distorted and unintelligible. You feel stifled, isolated, and lost.

This is how Sylvia Plath more or less described the slow mental breakdown of Esther Greenwood, protagonist of her only full-length prose work, The Bell Jar. Since the book is often considered as a roman à clé or an autobiographical fiction (with Esther as the author’s thinly veiled fictional alter ego), it’s safe to say that Plath shared a firsthand account of what it was like to have a disintegrating sanity after spiraling down into depression.

In the book, the parallels in Plath’s and Esther’s lives occurred between 1953 and 1954. Esther wins an internship on a prestigious New York magazine; she holds the position most girls her age would kill for, yet for some weird reason, she is confused and dissatisfied. When she learns that she is rejected from a writing course she wanted to join after her internship, she is completely devastated. She goes home with her mother, and everything goes downhill from there.

Most of the issues Esther grapples with are connected to 1950s American gender roles. Being a woman in that era seems to be synonymous with the word ‘inferior.’ Esther struggles with her identity, her status in the society, and her choice of vocation.The patriarchal society’s insistent pigeonholing of the ‘appropriate woman’ pressures her to no end, sending her to ricochet between wanting to get in sync with everybody else and needing to latch to the possibility of her lofty dreams’ realization. While women at that time are encouraged to be successful in their own chosen fields, they are also expected to be subservient housewives—sacrificing their career and dreams—when they marry. “This seemed a dreary and wasted life for a girl with fifteen years of straight A’s,” Esther ponders after envisaging the quotidian life a suburban housewife. The book, in its depiction of men as shallow individuals with usually off-kilter morals, seems to ridicule the established fact of feminine inferiority. However, it also shows several aspects of women’s vulnerability in a world that refuses to take their aspirations seriously. Esther herself is an example—she is intelligent all right, but her inability to take part in the normality of the world around her (or is it the inability of the world to accommodate a woman like her?) causes her sanity to crumble.

The book also touches issues about dating, relationship, and sex that are still relevant today. Why are women who had many sexual partners in the past considered “sluts” when men with the same reputation are referred to as the “cool guys”? Does having premarital sex prove I’m a bad woman? Does not having any sexual intercourse before marriage prove I’m prude? These are only few of the questions Esther finds herself asking.

Since I’m aware of Plath’s fate, the reading experience came with an excitement closely akin to opening letters addressed to a celebrity that somehow wound up on my doorsteps. My thrill meter went up a notch when I find many moments of Esther’s life unnervingly relatable, especially in the first few chapters.  But what I liked the most about the novel is the astonishing honesty of Plath’s prose—it’s so naked and unflinching, so determined in showing you the raw facets of life and death in the eyes of someone who is trying to experience both…and seemingly failing. I myself didn’t know how to describe it at first. And of course, there are parts that will remind you that you are reading the Plath, paragraphs that are punctuated with a poetic feel.

As evidenced by the effective depiction of 1950s America, I’ll say the world-building is ace…even if (or especially?) it’s seen through the kaleidoscopic perspective of a mentally disturbed lady.

Overall, The Bell Jar is an excellent book that I will definitely revisit in the future. There are some moments involving electroconvulsive therapies and multiple suicide attempts, but they’re nothing really harrowing. I highly recommend this! :)

Of Wolf Hats and Cyber-High Fives

I posted this Nerdfighter-esque GPOY at my Tumblr a couple of hours ago. It’s sort of a brief not-so-dramatic thank-you post to everyone who made my year enjoyable and meaningful online (I’ll devote a separate post for those who did in RL).  I figured there are also some people here who contributed to a long happy year I had in the info superhighway, so I’m cross-posting and that’s how I roll.

Here it is! Nerdfighters who have read John Green’s Looking for Alaska (or at least know Takumi and his fox hat) and George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones will get it right off the bat, but the last message is for everyone. :p

LASTGPOYOFTHEYEAR
LAST GPOY OF THE YEAR. So Takumi Hikohito has the legendary fox hat? Behold, dudes and dudettes—I got myself a wolf hat. I like to think of it as the direwolf hat. No one can catch the mother-effing direwolf. Especially if her name is Nymeria nudge, nudge, Game of Thrones fans, and if she is Takumi’s fox’s first cousin once removed. Or something like that.

LOL. Anyway, thank you for a year full of recs, reviews, raves and rants! There’s nothing like chatting with and cyber-high-fiving people who can relate to my nerdery. So yeah, fellow nerdfighters and bookworms and all kinds of geeks out there, let’s continue to decrease world suck in our own little ways! And of course—

DFTBADFTBA!

Believe it or not, the GIF and the acronym depict more meaning and words than the first four paragraphs of this post. Anyway, this may be a farewell entry of some kind, but it won’t be my last book-related post this 2011—why, I’ll still pick the books that rocked my year! :p

Ta-ta!

Monday, December 26, 2011

In which I blather about more bookwormism alerts, the GW fandom fashionistas, and geek pride

Bookwormism Alert
If you’re a frequent visitor here, you must be aware that my bunk bed space is almost halved by the heaps of books “residing” with me there, and that this is due to my irrepressible book-hoarding. That’s a couple of weeks ago—you wouldn’t want to see my room right now. :p I’ve gathered a multitude of new babies, but these are the triplets that are currently receiving all my love:

DSC_1075

I’ve finished I❤ Geeks: The Official Handbook by Carrie Tucker almost a week ago and I’m already halfway through The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Going Bovine by Libba Bray is next in the queue; my fangirlfriends can’t stop blabbering about it, and I heard it’s got Nordic mythologies in quirky situations (what’s not to like?).

The first book I got through impulse purchase; upon seeing the heart and the word “geeks,” I couldn’t control myself. I knew I have to buy it. Imagine my shock when I learned it’s actually an “understanding-your-guy” book. Haha! Fortunately, it’s not exactly similar to those run-of-the-mill self-help guides for dating and stuff—it’s like a condensed encyclopedia of geekiness and nerderies! I’ll tell more in my review. :p It’s a really fun book.

Alexie’s book about a fourteen-year-old Indian who transfers an all-white school is all kinds of awesome too. If I wasn’t too busy finishing assignments, perhaps I’ve devoured it in one sitting. I think this is going to be one of my favorite 2011 reads.


GW Fandom Fashionistas
The original air of Mobile Suit: Gundam Wing in Japan is in 1995, but up to now, the fandom’s still alive and kicking (see FYGW and all the related blogs on the sidebar for proof).

I’m so glad that this old anime series still has a legion of super-faithful fans. The site has Character-of-the-Week event celebrating the girl power in what supposed to be a bishounen show; flurries of fanarts at Pixiv still come almost on a daily basis; a RP tumblelog is also operating, now with twenty registered roleplayers; and most importantly, a novel-sequel to the 1997 movie Endless Waltz called Frozen Teardrop is still being written today, serialized in the Japanese magazine Gundam Ace. I wish they animate it, or at least turn it into a manga—that would singlehandedly revive the series for good.

Now here’s what I’m really thrilled about: the fans are also delving in the world of fashion! Not in the professional sense, just…in a fandom sense. If you know what I mean.

Case in point: the “GW Fashion Project” by Lurazeda at Deviantart:

Relena and Dorothy

That’s Relena Darlian-Peacecraft and Dorothy Catalonia, two of my favorite female characters in the series. This is a rare drawing style for a contribution to a mecha-themed anime, but it absolutely clicks with the fashion model-esque side of the art. I love Dorothy’s trench coat—I have the exact outfit, but I can’t wear it too often because of the country’s usual oven-like weather. Their shoes are chic, too! ♥

Now let’s go to the boys’ fashion…except that now it’s gender-bent! All the fangirls’ fault, of course. The original outfits—those that the characters donned often in the show—are these:

390697

Clockwise that’s Duo Maxwell, Quatre Raberba Winner, Trowa Barton, Chang Wufei, and Heero Yuy. I wouldn’t say they’re dapper (come on! Clerical clothing + jodhpurs? Tank top + cycling shorts + yellow sneakers?!) after all, they’re just a bunch of fifteen-year-olds thrown in the middle of a war. There’s a little chance they could pay so much attention to their garments. However, these are the inspirations for the following outfits courtesy of fandom fashionista:

HeeroYuy
I’m so digging those boots! And the gun necklace pendant is so Heero it makes me giddy! :p

DuoMaxwell
I just realized, the inspiration of this Duo Maxwell outfit is not the priest clothing he's wearing in the above illustration; it’s his clothes from Endless Waltz, which you can see here. Just look at that little scythe pendant (a fem-Duo would definitely approve)! And I totally adore those earrings, they look like the scribbles I do on paper when I'm bored in class. :p Pfft! Maybe if I get a little leaner, I’ll get to don something like the dress. Haha.

TrowaBarton
Let me say that I'm so happy they didn't retain the mom jeans. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the trademark Steve Jobs look (mom jeans + turtleneck) that Trowa seemed to adapt, but Trowa's sharp unibang makes him look like an emo who just took a terrible fashion faux pas. So mom-jeans transformed into skinny jeans? Thumb up forever. Haha!  Anyway, I love the shoes. I mean, who will not WANT those heels? I wish I’m “talented” enough to walk in those. *hint, hint*

QuatreWinner
Is it summer time yet? Haha, jk. Pastel colors for the win! If I wear these clothes I’ll probably look younger. Which I don’t need right now, because many people are confusing me for a fifteen-year-old. :p The feather pendant is lovely, but what's it got to do with Q-boy? All the flowery patterns are so in character in my opinion, though. :p

ChangWufei
Two outfits for Wufei! The blue one’s the fem rendition of the illustration above, while the white one is inspired by this image. Can I just say how much I love the color of that nail polish? Haha. Wouldn’t look good on me though.

Geek Pride
Comic book and graphic novel geek. Manga and anime geek. Film and television geek. Science fiction and fantasy geek. Sports geek. Videogame geek. These are the six types of geeks identified in Tucker’s hilarious but highly informative I❤ Geeks: The Official Handbook. The only conclusion I could come up with after turning the last page of the book is this: I’m a combo of the first four…and I’m proud to say it.

It is a long-standing cliché for most people to feel ashamed when being referred to as a geek or a nerd—this fact also made it to the handbook. But at present, it seems like being a geek/nerd is more than acceptable; a negative connotation is no longer attached to it. To quote Tucker:
Woody Allen, Andy Warhol, Stephen Hawking, George Lucas, Isaac Asimov, J.J. Abrams, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates…the list of nerds throughout history and in entertainment and pop culture goes on and on. Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew on The Muppet Show, Professor John I.Q. on The Simpsons, Louis and Gilbert from Revenge of the Nerds, Gary and Wyatt from Weird Science, Harry Potter, Peter Parker (aka Spiderman), and Hiro Nakamura on Heroes are all beloved, fictional nerds. And even though traditionally nerds are known and defined as socially awkward and undesirable, they always seem to get the girls in movies. Hello, McLovin?
The rise of the Internet age, I think, helped a lot to the fact that the tables are slowly turning in favor of the geeks. “The society isn’t laughing at nerds anymore,” Tucker adds. “We want to join them, we want to get their super-smart inside jokes, and we want to type “pwned!” proudly when winning an Internet debate.”

Whatever the situation may be, I’ll always flaunt my geek pride. :p  Anyway, I’ll share more about this book in the next few days in my review, it’s totally fun and edifying.

12:01 (A One-Day Late Christmas Sonnet)

An Italian/Petrarchan (aka the ABBA2-CDE2 type) sonnet I wrote a few moments ago. It’s a conversation with myself. :p
___

The clock’s secondhand robbed us of the second chance
Of reliving our smaller histories, that map of scars on hearts and skins
And when we chased the paper futures our synthetic pasts enhance
We tripped and slipped onto the pavements where the present begins.
When the carols are fading out, when the wine are all but imbibed;
Are you going to be there, beneath the afterimage of the colored lights?
The dying cranes carrying our hopes will flutter down like broken kites
If you mutter all the words in the breeze you have always scribed.
Pick up the flattened beer crowns from the urchin’s little tambourine;
We will need it in our journey to Morpheus’ basements,
And their little chimes will remind us to hearken each other’s footfalls.
The moon is a disc in our faraway tomorrow, so low and so serene;
We will just follow its cobblestoned paths before He made the arrangements.
Christmas has already passed, and we’ll wait till the whistle of the next one calls.

-Airiz Casta © December 2011

Home?

Before I Fall

Enough said.
___
New 10 Things lists! Here and here. Review for Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar to follow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Belated Happy Birthday, Pietro! ♥

December 18 is Pietro’s birthday! :)

Me and Pietro
Someday the neighbors will learn not to hurl wordless death threats at me when trying to practice. If not…well, I’ll need to go to the mountains or anyplace that has a basement/soundproof walls! Haha. Belated happy birthday, my love! You’ve been a good violin to me, and I promise to be good to you, too.  ♥

A close friend gave Pietro to me as a gift, and this is our semi-true-to-life story about how he became our baby. You may check it out if you want. ;)

I’m still learning to play him. At the moment, it’s quite impossible to cram more time in my schedule for formal violin lessons (and don’t forget the old dilemma about dibs).  But then, there’s always this Plan B: Do-it-Yourself thing, and that’s what I did: self-teaching.

Pietro
Isn't he so beautiful? For so many times I wish I was born in a different generation—mostly because of my musical preferences—but the Internet Age is so helpful that I’m more than contented to be living in my generation now!  Haha. Needless to say, the information superhighway helped me with my first violin ABC’s. There’s a bunch of YouTube tutorial lessons for beginners, ranging from proper holding of the instrument to re-hairing the bow. I already knew how to read notes—it’s a requirement for every member of the gamelan orchestra of our high school— so I’m not completely clueless about the whole thing. I’m getting a bit rusty, though, so I need to keep practicing.

So that's about it. I just thought Pietro deserves a little space here on my blog. :)

GW-Sandman Crossover

You know why my fandoms are awesome? Because they click together. Not so long ago I posted here a squee-inducing Hunger Games-Gundam Wing character analogy for Quatre Winner and Peeta Mellark. Now it’s time for a mix of my favorite GW and The Sandman!

I know I’ve posted this at my fandom tumblr already, but there’s no harm of spreading the love! Especially that I know some of you people are Gaimaniacs too. :p

Endless

Endless-Ensemble Male Pilots by Izumi. So I decided to check out the links on all the fanarts at FYGW and reacquainted myself with this GW-addiction site, which I never really explored before. I can barely contain my squee (and fangirly keysmashing) when I saw this crossover fanart—Gundam Wing and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, two of my favorite things together! 

The pilots are depicted as the Endless: that’s Wufei as Destruction, Trowa as Despair, Treize as Desire, Zechs as Destiny, Heero as Dream/Morpheus, Quatre as Delirium (formerly Delight), and Duo as (duh!) Death.

And while I’m at it, let me rec some crossover fics too, all by the awesome Cozzybob. You don’t have to know The Sandman graphic novels to understand the fics (I strongly recommend reading the series in your free time, though—I promise you, it’s amazing! Gaiman is the man!):
  • Death Takes One. Heero dies. Death takes him home.
  • Death Speaks to Death About Death. Death pays Duo a visit shortly after Heero’s sudden departure from the mortal coil, and the two have a face-off. 2/1 implied
  • Death Meets One Billion and Six. Zechs drifts in space waiting to die, but unfortunately, nothing ever works for Zechs the way he plans them.
  • Desire and Dorothy Meet the Zero System. Desire pays Dorothy a visit while she’s hooked to the Zero System. 6xD-ish (this one’s my favorite…what can I say, my Dorothy Bias Alarm went off again)
  • Delirium. Quatre meets Delirium of the Sandman verse when his sanity cracks in his time with ZERO. drabble

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bookstore Serendipity

 
Bookstore Serendipity
Ever have this feeling that you are not the one who found your book, but it’s the book that found you? Weird, but I sometimes feel that way, especially if I have no specific title in mind when I enter a bookstore. I’ll just walk around, examine the shelves, stop, and then there’s a certain book that will turn under my nose. I’ll pick it up, read the blurb at back, and if it strikes a chord with me, it’ll go straight to the cashier. Most of the time, books I don’t intend to buy turn out to be the best.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as serendipity when it comes to finding books, but the treasures I found that way always give me something that my mind and my heart are starving for the moment before I find them. :D

Like a Second Ondoy

The TV was suddenly not an appliance anymore; it was a window, and through it I saw how the world outside the comforts of my home changed after six hours of nonstop rain and how an abused and neglected Mother Nature annihilated social strata.

I witnessed how people—rich and poor—wept and begged for help as they hunched together on their roofs; how cars were pitchpoled like toys by the monstrous waves; how homes were destroyed effortlessly by powerful winds, as though they were just cardboard pop-ups on a turbulent diorama. In that small square, I was given a bird’s eye view of a tragedy that readily drained my energy.

The death toll and damage cost shot up one notch and another as days passed. Heartbreaking stories rose, ones that could rival the most tragic novels I’ve read.”

That was a part of a piece I wrote two years ago entitled Braver Five Minutes Earlier, about the typhoon Ondoy. I had a déjà vu a couple of days ago, when the typhoon Sendong (international name “Washi”) wreaked havoc in the southern part of the archipelago in the thick of the night. The wrath of the pounding rain triggered landslides and caused rivers to swell, waking—and killing—people who were already slumbering in their homes. It was like Ondoy all over again, and the above paragraphs were almost verbatim descriptions of what I felt.

VictimA father breaks down after recovering the remains of his child, who was among hundreds killed by Storm Sendong. (image courtesy of GMA)

I wasn’t assigned to proofread news articles, but I kept tabs on the latest situation: I knew it was worse. The death toll was rising everyday, and as of tonight the latest count was less than two hundred bodies shy of a thousand fatalities. Cagayan de Oro was almost rendered a ghost town after the traitorous assault of the storm. Food and water shortage were to be expected, but what really made my arms go prickly with goose pimples was the coffin shortage. Funeral homes were already refusing to take more bodies, and a mass burial is being organized for the unclaimed/unidentified corpses.

But you know what made it more tormenting? It happened less than ten days before Christmas. There would be no celebration; what 2011 will leave in their hearts was trauma and grief. It was a heartbreaking way to end the year. Let us pray for all the victims.

We can help too by texting our donations and donating in kind. Here’s a comprehensive list of where/how we can send our donations.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bookwormism (and Holiday Nerdery) Update!

After writing my review for George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, I decided not to go straight to reading A Clash of Kings. I think I’m not quite ready for the heavy time investment the series requires (they look like multicolored bricks), and anyway I wanted to have variety in my reading routine. That’s why I picked up Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

DSC_0978

I’m almost through with it, actually. The fact that I can relate so much to Esther/Plath in the first chapters was…kind of scary, haha! But then again, I’ve always known I’m crazy. LOL.
The blurb at the back of my Faber Firsts edition goes something like this:
When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realize her dream to become a writer. Instead she finds herself spiraling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously.
The Bell Jar is a semi-autobiographical novel. Often seen as a roman à clef, there are many parallels between the story and Plath’s life, i.e. her magazine scholarship in New York, her being rejected from a writing course, and her hospitalization because of clinical depression. A month after the first UK publication of The Bell Jar, Plath committed suicide.

This is what I deduced after devouring about three quarters of this novel: I know watching how someone’s sanity deplete with utter enjoyment is kind of weird, but that's what I felt. I was fascinated. But more importantly, I think Plath should have written more prose. That’s coming from someone who loves her poems.

A Merry Fandom Christmas

‘Tis the season again! A couple of nights ago, I doodled Christmas cards (sort of) and sent them to some of my fandom friends online.

DSC_0975

I’ve exchanged my address with them so next year we’ll be expecting actual cards at our doorsteps. Those drawings in the photo are for Cozzy, Omnicat, and Rob. I’m still not done with the other drawings…I think I won’t be able to send them to my friends—both in fandom and rl—before Christmas, because honestly I can barely juggle all the offline commitments I have at the moment. Maybe I’ll just forward them as advance New Year’s card or something. Omni sent me a card in return, but since she mailed it about two days ago (and it will be coming from the Netherlands) I should be expecting it by New Year.

___

And that’s what we’ll have for today, folks. I have three more drafts, but I don’t intend to spam your dash and…Morpheus is calling already. Tata for now. :)

Review: A Game of Thrones

Title: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire book#1)
Author: George R. R. Martin
Genre: Medieval Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure
Rating: ★★★★

Game of Thrones

Political intrigue, medieval tropes, and Nordic mythologies—if any of these is your cup of tea (and if you have lots of time in your hands), you should try A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

It is difficult to condense the storyline, but one thing is for sure: it is aptly titled. Basically, all the events revolve around the metonymic Iron Throne. The Iron throne is made up of one thousand swords surrendered by defeated enemies, forged into the shape of a chair, its edges still sharp and cold that anyone who is not careful enough while sitting on it may get himself cut…or killed. This is said to be the desired effect, for no king should sit comfortably while ruling the Seven Kingdoms.  It took fifty-nine days, the flaming breaths of a legendary dragon, and the blood and honor of so many men to construct it. In A Game of Thrones, more blood is shed and more honor is sacrificed in the name of this throne and what it represents.

In the center of the conflict are the Starks of Winterfell, whose lives are jeopardized after getting involved in the political scandals of the Seven Kingdoms.

I half-expected this doorstopper to be choked with unnecessary embellishments, but I was in for a surprise. Martin takes the straightforward angle—he does not bother with frilly descriptions, yet he still successfully establishes a believable and intricate universe in the readers’ minds. Usually the prose I love is the kind that is slightly tinged by poetry, but I have no problem loving Martin’s writing whatsoever. Martin proves that unadorned realism is an efficient bullet in a contemporary bandoleer of writing styles.

It is important to note that while A Game of Thrones is not the first in its genre, it still stands out for zeroing in on the gritty and rotting portrait of the human spirit. Blind pride and the apathy it entails, humans’ inner animals that are forever lured by the pleasures of power and flesh, honor and the desperate battles to protect it, peace and the acknowledgment of its fleeting sweetness…Martin tackles them adroitly from the minds of eight viewpoint characters, never losing a beat. But that does not mean he neglects showing off the fantasy staples—he dedicates portions of the storyline to supernatural creatures too (like zombie-like creatures and dragons), and he consistently paints the colorful cultures of fictional lands with astonishing clarity.

Now we go to the characters. Tyrion “The Imp” Lannister easily became my favorite POV character, what with his sarcastic thought processes and fascinating outlook on things. I find him interesting and weirdly inspiring. He is practically a dwarf and is a recipient of all kinds of insults, but he never comes off as a pitiful person—what he lacks in physical appearance, he makes up for wisdom. Oh, he does clobber himself with self-deprecation sometimes, but only in a humorous way. His defense mechanism is not letting other people use his own weaknesses to destroy him. But most of all, it is “fun” to read from his POV since he, in theory, is the only viewpoint character who came from “the bad side.” Persuading the readers to root for someone from the enemy camp has never been this successful. Clearly, it is a testament to Martin’s writing prowess.

I also enjoyed Daenerys Targaryen’s chapters. If you get past the fancy name and her being white-haired and purple-eyed, it is easy to see that she is not a Mary Sue at all. She has her flaws, too. She may need a lot of character development, but who doesn’t? From the vulnerable girl who timidly follows her abusive brother, she has shown a passable amount of growth by the end of the book. I believe she will become more developed in the sequels.The Mongol-like culture of the Dothraki is a rough backdrop to her fragile character, and when she gradually learns to melt into it, it is easy to see the change in her.

Anyway, the other characters are quite okay. If Arya Stark has more chapters, I guess she’ll be my favorite too (I think she’s my fictional alter ego, haha!). What I am really expecting, though, is the fleshing out of Cersei Lannister that I saw in the HBO small screen adaptation. I am quite disappointed when I did not see that. The TV Cersei is much more layered than the one in the book, in my honest opinion. I wanted to worm inside her head, to learn where she gets all her twisted ideas, to know what fuels her motivations, to peek at what is really behind her cold facade…but no, I did not even get a glimpse of it. To be fair, she is not a POV character, and all of those who are were not around her a lot. I hope I get to know her more in the next books.

Anyone who reads this book must be prepared to invest more of his/her time for the brick-thick sequels, because there will be no “ending” of any kind in A Game of Thrones. Trust me on this.

Over all it is an amazing start. Four out of five stars!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merida: Pixar’s First Fairytale Heroine

The knee-jerk reaction of almost everyone who stumbles upon my blog is to wonder: Why ‘Cinderella in Combat Boots’? And why is it a fairy tale that violates all rules of fairy tales? The answer is simple: I wanted to show that even someone who is auto-crowned as the Queen of Damsels in Distress can be her own savior too, that she can wear anything that is tougher than glass slippers as she braves her way through life. I’m only a nondescript girl, but I believe I can show everyone that I can stand up for myself if I need to. In a way, I’m my own Cinderella donned in footwear fit for the harsh roads of life.

This belief ripples to my inclination to feminist fiction. It’s no secret that I have a penchant for fictional girls that refuse to be boxed in the She-Needs-a-Prince-Charming-to-Survive stereotype that, unfortunately, still exists in the world of books and flicks up to this day. I easily fall in love with the likes of Sabriel (The Old Kingdom Trilogy), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Arya Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire).

So it’s no surprise I was readily smitten by the feisty, wild-haired, fun-loving, and bow-and-arrow-toting heroine of Pixar’s first fairytale, Brave.

The kickass girl in question is Merida, and she’s already falling into the queue of my (future?) favorite unorthodox fairytale princesses.

first-poster-pixar-brave

“Brave” Offical Trailer

Here’s the synopsis of the film:
Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. 
In Brave, a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts. Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord MacIntosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). 
Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

This is going to be Pixar’s first ever film that will feature a strong female lead, and I admit, that fact alone is enough to make me buy a movie ticket without hesitation. Pixar films turn out to be really entertaining, but it takes me a long while to watch them. Don’t get me wrong—I loved about half of their dozen original films, but the premise of each doesn’t appeal much to me at first glance. With the exception of the first two Toy Story’s and Finding Nemo, I don’t go to the movie houses just to see them. Usually I just wait for decent torrents from the internet or just buy DVDs when they come out. This time, I know it’s going to be different.

Princess Merida
"BRAVE"Merida (voice by Kelly Macdonald)©Disney/Pixar.  All Rights Reserved.

It’s Merida’s fault—I’m in love and I haven’t watched Brave yet! I hate to have high hopes for something like this because I get disappointed easily, but I can’t help it. I’m very happy that Pixar’s first foray into the ‘princess’ sub-genre contains a character like Merida, and I hope it lives up to my expectations. The feel of the movie seems to coincide with my tastes too—dark fantasy and a few tidbits of Scottish history? Like!

I’ve read lots of articles like this one comparing Merida to Arya Stark. I think I could see where that is coming from. Arya, like Merida, is not interested at all in any kind of “elegant pursuits,” much to the disappointment of many people around her (particularly Sansa, her lady-like older sister). The bow-and-arrow thing is also a similarity, at least for the TV Arya. In the first episode of Game of Thrones, Arya sneaks out of her stitching class and shoots an arrow from behind her brothers, who are practicing archery that time. She hits a bull’s eye and it irks Bran, who finds it hard to make a decent shot. Merida in the trailer is seen trying out to “prove her worth” with the other lords’ firstborns, and I have a hunch she’s going to out-shoot everyone in that yard, too.

Apparently, Merida and Arya prefer to do masculine stuff than to wallow in the comforts of their homes, entertaining suitors or knitting scarves. Both of them think they can forge their own destinies, which latter in their separate stories will seem to become identical as well. The analogy is just making me more excited!

2012, you’re going to be a special year for special movies. :)

A Lesson from Arya Stark

Arya Stark quote

Technically, A Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark got this from her swordsman of a teacher (aka a “dancing instructor”), the bravosi Syrio Forel. The gist of this quote—if not taken literally, that is—is nothing new. In life, being hurt is inevitable, and in every pain we encounter there is always a lesson to learn. Life is a big classroom, after all. Learn and live so when we “graduate”, when we shuffle off this mortal coil, we can actually say we have been good 'students'. :)

___
In other news, new lists at A Teacup of Stars! You can read them here and here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A RESPONSE.

Veiling your ignorance about some issues with overconfidence and cloying proofs of your being a braggadocio sometimes just magnifies it a hundred times. This is true.

A friend sent me a link to a blog entry that contains “reactions” about campus issues, particularly ones that concern the Lyceum Independent Sentinel. It's entitled The Outspoken Unedited--Can You Sue Me of Libel by Telling the Truth? (yep, that's a grammatical error in the title) and was dated October 2010. It's a great real life example of the adage above.

I only saw this "article" a couple of hours ago. I wrote a comment and it’s currently awaiting moderation. I hope he approves and answers it—I’m not afraid of any kind of confrontation about this. I just can't keep quiet when someone calls literature "crap."

Here’s my response to his article:

Hello, Jeremy.

I just want to say, first of all, that I’m so tempted to proofread this post of yours. I kept on stopping mid-sentence when encountering your glaring grammatical errors. For someone who sounds so confident, your blog entry is full of what most people would call—pardon my French, though I know you won’t mind it anymore after using the word repeatedly here—“crap.” This would without a doubt go straight to the trash bin if you handed it to our sixth grade teacher. I wish I’m kidding. Errors in hyphenation and preposition usage, the very elementary SVA (you’re free to Google it if you don’t know what it means)…I could list more, but I guess I made my point. If you’re going to be “courageous,” go all the way, and be sure to be armed. Putting UNEDITED in the title or saying that you’re too sleepy when you wrote this are lame excuses, especially if the paragraphs that are not even part of the column can give any Grammar Nazi a nightmare. Sorry for being nitpicky. You can edit your article after you read this comment, just for the sake of other readers that may pass here.

“This is the kind of writing our newspapers don’t have—broadsheet or tabloid.” I TOTALLY AGREE. Even the local English tabloids don’t have grammar issues that are THIS bad. But you know, grammar is not your only problem here. We’ll get to that later.

Because of the thing I just mentioned above, you have no right to call any kind of writing that is a hundred times better than yours “crap” or “immature.” None. Your kind of writing will not even receive a decent mark when passed as a grade school essay assignment. How come can you call a paper that underwent scrupulous editing “crap?” It really baffles me.

People like you deter the development of good literature. When we worked with Mr. Eros Atalia (I trust that you know him), he once told me that literary pieces should never be belittled. Other schools are garnering a lot of support for their literary department, and their literary pages in their official school organs helped a lot. The budding artists in literature come from something as small as a single page for their pieces. Case in point: Carlos P. Romulo, an editor who wrote poems and short stories for their school paper, became a National Artist in Literature (1982). He acknowledged his experience as an editor/literary writer of their paper as a great contributor for this win. If most people are not as narrow-minded as you, maybe Lyceum will be successful in being a hub of future true artists, too. Mr. Atalia encouraged us to strengthen our school paper’s literary voice, and in our short stay in Lyceum, I guess we accomplished this little mission. You do art, Jeremy—you do music. Things like this should not be misunderstood by someone who is flaunting himself as a true artist. Are you a true artist? :p

Another FYI: the literary page is one of the only pages in the paper (aside from VOX LYCEUM) where students are free to speak. In Vox Lyceum they can express their opinions on campus issues; in the literary page, they get to showcase their creative sides. Our paper informs, entertains, and serves as a conduit of the school body. And believe it or not, the school loves that our pages exist.

I would like to comment on those “immature articles” you mentioned, but you only singled out the literary page, so that’s how far I’ll go. I would gladly defend those articles if you tell me which ones.

While we do our thing in the literary page, we never neglected our news PAGES. As for not being newsworthy…clearly, it’s either you didn’t research enough or you weren’t around the school a lot. We got multitudes of students informed about what is really happening inside the campus. Our first issues caused great stirs too that proved we are indeed an organ “without fear or favor.” Articles that are not remarkable can’t provoke a group of people or a department to react. If you can’t tell what “stirs” I’m talking about, then I’m sorry for you. A so-called journalism enthusiast who doesn’t even have a nose for news AND correct researching skills? I don’t know what to say.

Let’s move on to my third point. Technically, in our field of study, “facts” can’t be considered “facts” at all if they’re wrong or not strongly supported by objective evidences. Journalism 101: recheck and recheck and recheck and recheck your facts before you write anything about them. You didn’t even interview anyone for this piece of…ahem, this piece, right? Your observations alone don’t equate to trusted data, so you may delete the phrase “backed up by facts” in your introduction—at least for the Sentinel part. Just so you know, the minor flaw you indicated (the miscalculated years of being present in LPU’s circulation) is not even a flaw at all. The way we count the years of the paper is not the same way we count our birthdays; we count them by school years. You do the math. Also, I want you to know that our “independence” is not what you think it is; it can’t be defined by any simple lexicon, nor can it be understood easily by someone who is not even a part of the school organ. Don’t assume you understand it. This was discussed to us before we passed the editorial exams, and we were repeatedly reminded of the limits of our independence. You could have requested an interview with our technical adviser before writing this to support your claims, but you didn’t. Journalism 101 again: in order to establish credibility, you have to present BOTH SIDES of an issue. I was a grade five student taking up a journalism elective class when I learned that. So basically, to answer your titular question, anyone can sue you…if they want to. We are taught in one of our classes that truth alone cannot defend someone from libel because truth has many versions—and YOURS is so easy to disprove.

“But, hey! I won’t be doing this if I wasn’t that ready. By saying “ready” means I have a lot of supporting documents.”— REALLY? OH MY GOSH I MUST HAVE MISSED SOMETHING.

I want you to know that I’m commenting not because the “truth” you claim to present here hurt me or us—that’s impossible, because you didn’t even present concrete facts that make your arguments stronger. Your observations weren’t even keen enough, and you voiced out your opinions on things you weren’t knowledgeable about. Sorry for redundancy, but I want you to see that’s the core of your writing dilemma. I’m commenting because I wish to inform you this isn’t how journalism works—liberated or otherwise. Please don’t mar its name.

You could have posted this on our official Facebook wall too when you wrote it, you know? We’re all ears, and back then you’re a student. We listen to students. And like I said, if you’re going to be courageous, don’t hold back…but maybe deep inside you knew you can’t go all the way at all because you’re aware you can’t go to war if your weapons are defective or not enough. That’s wise, but it’s a proof you’re not gutsy enough to believe your own words. :p

-Airiz Casta

Monday, December 12, 2011

This is one of the few things I’m always telling myself whenever I feel down…

DEATH (2)

There are a thousand reasons why Neil Gaiman is my hero, but one of the most significant is his writings: the ones I had embedded in my heart and head, those that I can relive and dredge up just when I needed them. Like the panels above, from one of The Sandman spinoffs about the character Death.

They help me get through the day, in some ways, especially when I think a single piece of jigsaw fell off the whole picture of my life. I’m not exactly feeling blue right now—I think I’m stuck between the black of sad and the white of happiness, my emotions coming in all shades of gray. Maybe it’s just stress; maybe it’s because I’m just thinking too much. Whatever it is, I have Gaiman to thank for giving me a metaphorical pill for a wee turmoil in my heart. Or emptiness. Or whatever nondescript emotional state it is.

God’s here, too, of course. I never forget that.

Writing this down feels like squeezing stress balls, haha! I won't make this post long. I know I'll be able to wave a dreamland-bound cab with a smile on my face, just with a little prayer and lessons that stories taught me. :)

Just a heads up!

I’m not posting “Ten Things that Made Me Smile Today” on this blog anymore…but no, I won’t stop writing them. I just figured it would be nicer and more orderly if they have their own place, not just being interspersed with my random ramblings, rants, and raves here at Blogspot. Yep, I created a new site just for them at Livejournal. They’re now being housed at A Teacup of Stars.

The site won’t be exclusive for the lists, though. I’m quite positive I’ll have no choice but to publish other things in it, like non-GW fanfics and entries as answers for writing challenges. More of the latter, I think, since challenges at comms—the table prompts, to be specific—are so tempting.

I have to admit, Livejournal is more interactive than Blogspot. There are LJ communities that let you post on their sites, as long as you agree to follow the rules usually enumerated on their profile pages. I joined and participated in many LJ comms back when I was in college, and in the process I made lots of friends from all around the world (some of them reconnected with me via my fandom tumblr). Tumblr is an amazing social microblogging site, but some of its groups could never rival my favorite LJ comms. That’s why I’m going back there.

Here’s a screenshot of A Teacup of Stars:

Things that made me smile

One of the many things I love about Livejournal is that there are a helluva lot of pretty premade layouts and themes, most of them you can get for free and are very easy to tweak. The theme for A Teacup of Stars is created by another LJ user, and she’s letting other users snag it. I love this one because that mermaid on the header looks like she’s floating on the clouds, not showcasing some kind of surface tension on the sea. I have a poem that talks of “a mermaid of the clouds that cradles the stars in her palms.” :)

The only edit I can do to the header is keying in the shadowed title of my blog (it’s plain originally). I attempted to add star clip-arts, but they only made the header look messy (not to mention cheap) so I undid the whole thing. Haha!

If you’re on LJ too, please don’t hesitate to add me! And while you’re at it and you’re a GW fan, do check out my fanfic journal. It’s called Spaceheart:

X

The simple layout for this site is from a layouts comm. I altered about three quarters of the original theme that resulted into this. Since the site is exclusive for my GW fanfics, I thought of putting a GW-centric header and a body theme that coincides with the feel of the header. That’s Quatre and Trowa you see at the top.

So yeah, that’s about it. :p You’re still free to see my lists of little inanities that can twist my frowns into smiles, and also read the things I’ve spun from the shows I loved.