Tag Archives: Real Life

Thirty Days from Now…

Thirty Days from Now…

Thirty days from now, I’m getting married. I’m excited and scared and hopeful, all at the same time. It’s going to be a quiet civil ceremony—just my immediate family and the judge will be there. Adam sees this moment more as a legality, the prelude to the joint clan celebration we have planned for Mexico next year.

As a woman whose life has been plagued with legalities and little pieces of paper, though, it’s been nerve-racking. A little piece of paper earmarked me as an American, even if I’ve lived most of my life outside the country. During my childhood, some family members sued each other—just a little matter of fraud and disinheritance, due to forged little pieces of paper. Now little pieces of papers tell me I can’t be in the same country as my husband-to-be, unless we get more little pieces of paper to supersede everything else.

Little pieces of paper are the very devil.

Despite all my anxiety, I’m still giddy. So many things are going to change. I’ve spent too many hours contemplating my new name and my new byline (Rachel Anne Epp? Rachel Calabia-Epp? Rachel Anne M.C. Epp? Rachel McEpp?) and looking for shoes that fit (winter fashions aren’t kind to brides looking for white close-toe heels.) I can’t concentrate on anything for long before my mind reverts to bridal details, and the word count for my novel has dwindled to nothingness.

It’s almost impossible to craft a happy ending for my long-suffering characters when I’m trying to get to my happy beginning.

Did I just type that? Oh God, shoot me now. I hate it when I wallow in clichés.

 

2. There are so many other things I wanted to talk about but I always feel as if I’m running out of time. It’s been months since I wrote any new entries for this blog, and I feel as my pop culture backlog has become a monster. I’ve wanted to discuss so many things:

  • the first two seasons of Hiromu Arakawa’s awesome Silver Spoon
  • the current episodes of One Punch Man
  • recurring character tropes in Rumiko Takahashi (sorry, I just started watching Inuyasha with my nephew)
  • the second season of Knights of Sidonia (good grief why is this show so messed up?)
  • RIPPER STREET <3 (all caps are necessary because this show is great)
  • ZOMG David Tennant’s evil stalker with a crush in Jessica Jones

Also, my list of unanswered romance writer novel questions keeps growing:

  • Does Julia Quinn have better book sales when her books have one deflowering scene vis-a-vis those with multiple sex scenes? (no seriously, this is an important question)
  • When is Courtney Milan going to write another historical?
  • Will Marion Chesney’s backlist on Kindle ever go on sale?
  • In historical romance quartets, why does one book always feature a rape survivor? Like, seriously. It’s annoyingly predictable. It’s usually the third book in the series. Why does the traumatized ice queen heroine always have to be a secret rape survivor? There are other physical and emotional traumas to write.

I think it’s unfair that the heroes get an infinite variety of traumas to overcome. Usually it’s PTSD and gentlemanly limps but I’ve also encountered:

  • blindness (Theresa Medeiros’s Yours Until Dawn)
  • sensory issues (an old Amanda Quick novel whose title I can’t recall) 
  • mental illness (Loretta Chase’s The Mad Earl’s Bride
  • illiteracy (one of the recurring male characters in Anne Gracie’s Devil Riders Quartet) 
  • dyslexia (Miranda Neville’s Confessions of an Arranged Marriage, Julia Quinn’s The Lost Duke of Wyndham

I have yet to read any historical romance in which the heroine suffers and overcomes these things!

(Incidentally, I listed some examples beside each affliction. Highlighting the titles might spoil the plot of the novels, though.)

Perhaps it’s time for someone to write a Regency romance in which the wallflower debutante had a childhood accident with a hand axe and she now suffers from phantom limb pain. The hero, a secret rape survivor, must find the proper way to waltz with her when she doesn’t have a hand to gracefully drape over his shoulder.

Yeah, I’d read that.

 

3. I don’t know when it’s going to happen but in a couple of months, I’m also going to revamp this blog and probably get a new domain name, something that will reflect my new coupled status. Adam used to have a blog, and once we’re married I’d love to him to start writing random things again. We used to write random things together. Obviously, if we do that now, the current title of this blog will have to go. I’m still wracking my brains for a clever new name. Hmm… It’s difficult to think of something all-encompassing, he might alternate between Legend of Zelda fanboy rants and scholarly discussions on Charles Dickens, you know? Between my anime observations and historical romance stuff, it might be a cornucopia of crazy. (But a good kind of crazy.)

Anyway, what ever happens to the future name, design, and content of this blog, please wish us luck on our new journey.

 

Side Comments of the Month XII

Side Comments of the Month XII

I can’t believe it’s almost been a month since my last post. Bad blogger. Bad, bad, blogger. The weeks have been tough, with me getting a bad case of strep throat. Before I fully recovered from that, I got rear-ended in my first accident in three years. I could say more about this but I feel oddly reticent. I also don’t want to harp on the horrible things. So onwards with the good:

1. I got free books again, and lo, none of them are romance novels: The Moon Sisters and Your Perfect Life are YA; Dark Eden and Fiend are science fiction; Numbercruncher is a graphic novel; The Art of Castlevania is a companion book to a video game; and The Luminaries is an award-winning literary novel.

To be perfectly honest I don’t know where I’m going to find the time to read these texts! If I made time for all the books I wanted to read, I would live forever and never get any sleep.

 

2. Remember the time when I said I only cared about Doctor Who when it affects my friends? I swallow my pride and take it all back. As much as I hate to appear inconsistent, yeah, I pretty much like Doctor Who now, or at least I like it enough to try watching the episodes in order. I used to watch half an episode all the time, mostly when David Tennant’s crazy eyes would get a close-up.

My eleven-year old nephew (ever the completist) recently borrowed the 1996 TV movie and I found Paul McGann adorable. So now I find myself binge-watching Christopher Ecceleston’s episodes, and suddenly all the stuff that I didn’t understand in the 50th anniversary episode makes sense. Yup, my nephew dragged me to watch that at the cinema too.

Perhaps this is a case of fandom by Stockholm syndrome. It’s okay. At least it’s not Pokemon or Twilight. There are just some bandwagons that should never be boarded.

 

3. Speaking of bandwagons, I’d comment on the latest episode of Game of Thrones except I have nothing new to add to that conversation, except a gleeful die Joffrey die

I also have to say, I was quite underwhelmed with Margaery’s necklace. Is that the best King’s Landing had to offer? I don’t think much of their jewelry shops, then. Sansa and Cersei had better bling. Maybe there’s a missing scene where Cersei hoards all the good jewelry for herself?

 

4. Since Space Brothers is on hiatus, I’ve returned to my roots and I’m now on my biennial Honey and Clover kick.

I first watched this series in 2007 and it’s been a perennial favorite for me to re-watch and re-read. With only twenty-four episodes and ten comic book volumes, Honey and Clover may seem like an easy read, but it’s full of unfulfilled longing, with equal parts of humor and melancholy.

Of course it’s about five friends in art school who don’t know what they are doing with their lives.

Honey and Clover helped me discover Spitz, my favorite J-rock band. It also made me aware of the sub-genre of josei manga, which are comic books written for an older female audience.

When I was in university, everyone was reading Banana Yoshimoto. Looking back, Kitchen, N.P., and Lizard could have easily been written and serialized as a josei manga.

I always worry that Hollywood will discover Honey and Clover and think of making an American adaptation—it’s been a popular franchise in Asia over the past decade, with both film and television adaptations, so I think it’s a matter of time before that happens.

Aside from a live-action Evangelion, this is my anime nerd nightmare because I don’t think the dynamic between the main characters will translate well to another culture. I look at the American remakes of Shall We Dance? and Dragon Ball Z and I just cringe.

So, yeah. Honey and Clover. Don’t let the theme song of the first season throw you off. (It’s the only annoying song on the soundtrack.) This series is brilliant.

Now for Something Completely Different

Now for Something Completely Different

I want to say thank you to everyone who expressed concern for my friends and extended family back in the Philippines. While I moved back to the United States two years ago, I spent most of my formative years in “imperial” Manila.

While I’m relieved that everyone I know in the capital remains unscathed by typhoon Haiyan, thousands of people are dead and injured due to the biggest recorded typhoon in history.

I traveled to many remote areas during my years with non-profit organizations, but I never found myself in Tacloban, Leyte. The poor areas of the country, however, share a commonality: a lack of good roads and hospitals. Even when there’s not a major calamity, access to food, portable water, and healthcare can be a huge challenge.

Despite some firsthand experience, I cannot imagine the devastation of the entire Visayas region. Just two weeks before the typhoon hit, Bohol was the epicenter for a devastating earthquake that flattened many homes and historic landmarks. (The island of Bohol is next door to the island of Leyte.) Even without the typhoon, the area was already suffering.

Hand-wringing will do no good, though. For anyone who wishes to help, please consider donating cash to the Philippine Red Cross, either directly or through the American Red Cross.

Throwback Thursdays: Sanghaya 2001

Throwback Thursdays: Sanghaya 2001

Book: Sanghaya: Philippine Arts and Culture Yearbook 2001
Product Details: Hardbound, 144 pages
Publisher: National Commission for Culture and the Arts
Year: 2001
Language: English
ISSN: 1655-1796
Availability: Limited. It’s an old title. Your best bet would be
the publication department of the National Commission

 

If there’s any book I have worked on that is incredibly close to my heart, it has to be the first volume of Sanghaya: Philippine Arts and Culture Yearbook. The brainchild of National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and my boss and mentor, P.T. Martin, Sanghaya was an ambitious project. In the context of publishing in the Philippines, nothing quite like it had been attempted before.

 The Project

Sanghaya aimed to capture the developments of the national art scene. Subject experts wrote in-depth articles on developments in their fields: architecture, film, dance, performing arts, literature, music, and visual arts. The articles, supported with numerous lists, directories, and a chronicle of the major cultural events of the year, provided one huge snapshot of all the local endeavors and cultural trends.

Essays on cultural awareness and ethnic minorities, mainstream media, and translation attempted to include ideas from the fringes of society. These provided a nuanced look at the challenges faced by a country perennially besieged with foreign influences and internal conflict. I remember pushing for some weird items, like the list of current pop music and DVD releases. I felt that these things reflected mass culture, and served as a counterpoint to the coverage of formal ballets and concertos.

My Involvement

"Malaki ang utang ng librong ito sa iyong sipag at talino." (Loosely translated: "this book owes much to your diligence and talent.") Prof. Lumbera's dedication still makes me giddy.

Before Sanghaya, I had already worked on other book projects, albeit in a limited capacity. As an undergraduate, I worked as a research assistant for some titles put out by the UP Creative Writing Center (now called the UP Institute of Creative Writing.) This usually involved combing through endless magazine stacks for recently published short stories and poems.

Sanghaya, however, was on an entirely different level. I had to: keep tabs on all our contributors, their contracts, and their submissions; gather most of the research material; hunt for photos and get permission to use them; keep track of and attend to a hundred other things. It was a huge challenge but I really enjoyed it. My personal favorite task was compiling amusing or thought-provoking quotations that could be used to relieve the layout of the text. Since this was a decade before Twitter, you can only imagine how hawk-eyed I grew over every newspaper interview.

In his introduction, Professor Lumbera explained that sanghaya was an old Filipino word that meant “beauty, honor, dignity.” Working on Sanghaya was occasionally messy. My insane commute to downtown Manila was anything but dignified, and I don’t know if it’s honorable to hound critics for their drafts. But when Sanghaya finally came out, I was so happy. I felt as if I had witnessed a birth. I know my designation in the credits is “editorial assistant,” but I was definitely more than that. I think I can still take pride that I worked on a book that tried to live up to its name.

 

Side Comments for the Month IV

Side Comments for the Month IV

This represents a fraction of the number of books I've read and skimmed through over the past six months.

1. I might as well come out and say it—I’m writing my first genre novel. I started last October. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has come and gone and yet I am still plugging away. I broke the 60,000 word barrier a month ago. Since my personal goal is at least 100,000 words, I have a long way to go.

This is a huge achievement for myself, as all my previous attempts at writing a full-length novel have failed. It’s easy to get discouraged with a personal project when one doesn’t have much self-confidence. I hope I just didn’t jinx myself with announcing this project!

Progress on this current project has been slow since I’ve been eagerly reading up on 19th century history, social customs, and language. As a reader, anachronisms are a major pet peeve of mine, so I think I am going completely overboard with research. I started a database of archaic words and idioms, in the hopes it gives my depiction of the era more credibility.

I actually suffered a bit of a setback recently. In the middle of fact-checking, I found out a natural calamity occurred in the neighborhood where my novel is set. It infuriated me that I hadn’t known about it before. After a few days of seething, I got back to work and decided to scrap two entire chapters. It’s gotten to the point I can almost laugh about it. At the time I really felt like banging my head against the wall.

Littlefinger and his kitten companion plot world domination via AU fanfics. Tumblr, fire your engines.

2. Adam and I have finished The Wire. Now, the next time I watch Game of Thrones I am going to be thinking, Damn it, Carcetti, you used to be my favorite political sleazeball, now you’re just the sleazeball that let me down.

When we started watching, Adam told me that Aidan Gillen acts more like Littlefinger in The Wire than he does in Game of Thrones. Perhaps this statement will not make sense to anyone who hasn’t read all the G.R.R. Martin novels yet, but really, it must be seen to be believed. (He certainly wins my vote for having the cutest animal companion on an IMDB page.)

Anyway, season five was amazing. The ending was absolutely satisfying—even the heart-breaking moments were good. Most of the loose ends were tied up, and almost everyone who mattered—whether it was in season one or season four—came back for one last scene, whether it was in a montage or a cameo. I know it’s a hipster thing to fawn all over The Wire but the show does have incredible writing and plotting. If I had watched it while it was airing on TV, I probably wouldn’t have had the patience to wait week after week. But seeing it marathon-style was a schooling in crime fiction writing.

And McNulty, I’m through talking to you. I rooted for you and you broke my little fangirl heart.

An Instragram snapshot of the exhibit.

3. Two weeks ago, I went downtown with my sister and our friend Mabel to check out the Terracotta Warriors exhibit at the Asian Art Museum.

The warriors they had on display were larger than I thought they would be. I do not think they are equal to the size of Chinese males living during that era. The warriors had large, beefy hands, too, which I found absurd. Nevertheless, everything else about them was impeccable, from their hairlines to their armor.

Some of the figures still had traces of their original finish. While there were colored simulations of how the warriors must have appeared when they were first made, I actually prefer them with their current muted shades. I grew up with that mental image, so the idea they were originally painted garish colors seems an anathema to me. I first encountered their original coloring in a recent copy of National Geographic. I haven’t gotten used to it.

Aside from the warriors, the exhibit also showcased many gold and brass ornaments, some still covered with thick layers of patina. The real stand-out among these objects were the horses.

Now, I do not consider myself a horse person. As a child, I didn’t go through that classic “I want a pony” stage. The last time I was impressed with a horse, it was a beautiful ceramic specimen I saw in the Art Institute of Chicago. But those terracotta horses. Jesus Christ! Their craftsmanship made my jaw drop. They are beautiful and majestic, and they looked great from every angle. If it was possible, I would prostrate myself in front of the artisans who made those horses and asked to be made their unpaid apprentice.

The exhibit ends on May 27, so there is still time to catch it. If you are in the area, please check it out. Go for the warriors, but stay for the horses. It might be easier than flying to China.

A promotional still for Parade's End. Courtesy of BBC and HBO.

4. I also finished watching HBO-BBC’s new mini-series, Parade’s End. I wonder if Benedict Cumberbatch will ever get tired of wearing top hats and World War I uniforms, because he seems so well-suited to the Edwardian era.

I’ve never read any Ford Madox Ford or Edith Wharton, but Parade’s End reminded me of Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence (1993). The geographic and temporal settings differ but they both involve male leads who are just dying to commit adultery. Yet due to their own scruples and sense of honor, they can’t seem to bring themselves to do the deed.

The main difference may be the women they are thinking of cheating on. Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is married to a saintly wife, while Christopher Tietjens (Benedict Cumberbatch) is shackled to the most manipulative, unfaithful bitch in London—she’s like a flapper version of Cersei Lannister. Have I said too much?

I enjoyed Parade’s End—it’s not for the impatient or those who dislike subtlety—but then I also happen to love that historical era. There’s not much in the way of fan service—Mr. Cumberbatch only takes off his shirt in the fifth episode—so if you are looking for cheap thrills, you need to look elsewhere.

For Cabin Pressure fans, there’s an added kick: Roger Allam (the guy who plays Douglas) shows up at a commanding officer in the last episodes. Every time he popped up on screen, I kept thinking, “why do I know that voice?” And then something on TV Tropes clarified it all for me. (Ye gads, Douglas outranks Martin once more! My mind is blown!) After that realization, all it needed was John Finnemore as a subservient batman. Now that would have turned Parade’s End into something incredibly surreal. I’m glad the BBC held off on that.

Review: Purgatory by Tomás Eloy Martínez

Review: Purgatory by Tomás Eloy Martínez

The first part of this review previously appeared in the San Francisco Book Review last December 8, 2011. 

 

Even readers who have consumed a steady diet of South American literature since the boom era may find immense pleasure in reading Tomás Eloy Martínez’s last novel. It’s a gut-wrenching tour de force. Purgatory revolves around Emilia Dupuy and her husband Simón, two newlywed cartographers who are torn apart by the Argentinean military regime of the 1970s. Either by malice or accident, Simón joins the ranks of the “desaparecidos,” one of the many thousands who disappeared during this turbulent era.

Now living in New Jersey and exhausted by years of searching for Simón, Emilia is surprised to find her husband at a local cafe, looking exactly as he did on the day he disappeared. Is this encounter real or is Emilia being haunted by her memories and desires? Martínez gives no easy answers to the central mystery, preferring to peel back, layer after layer, each moment that leads to Emilia and Simón’s separation and reunion. The novel travels back and forth between the past and the present, with casual cameos from a Nazi pseudo-scientist, Spanish royalty, and even Orson Welles.

Disguised as a spectral romance, Purgatory is really a lamentation for the missing and for those left behind. It is a brilliant, bittersweet narrative that keeps a reader up at night long after the last page has been read.

. . .

So ends my formal review for Purgatory. Now comes my informal reaction to the book:

I had an entirely visceral response to this novel. I suppose it’s a mix of several elements, including my university degree and my interest in Latin American literature. Maybe it’s also my personal experience—an acquaintance of mine, Sherlyn Cadapan, is among the disappeared in the Philippines. You can read about her case here. I was not particularly close to her and I had not seen her in years before her abduction by the Philippine military.

It was impossible for me not to be bothered on a primal level. This was someone who used to tease me to buy her lunch when she was broke, which was the case pretty often. This was a familiar face I saw in Vinzons Hall during my last years in university. To consider the worst fate possible just renders me speechless. In the back of my head, it’s hard not to think, “if I was a stronger person, if I had pushed further and done more community work, that could have been me.”

Some of my former colleagues would call it “lie low guilt.” Lying low, in the parlance of NGO or nonprofit work of the last decade, was to take a break from the intense, grueling lifestyle connected to social work in the Philippines. It usually involved crawling back to one’s family for a couple of months and recuperating from diseases like malaria or amoebiasis. (For some people—myself included—lying low means never returning and being slowly ripped apart by one’s conscience for abandoning the cause of social justice.) This is something easily misunderstood by those touched with apathy, and even those active in the movement (the grim and determined types.) After all, it’s easy to dismiss something as intangible as mental suffering.

It is in this frame of mind I found myself finishing Purgatory. It was impossible for me not to relate and sympathize with Emilia. When I think of everyone I’ve ever met who lost a loved one this way, I just want to curl up into a ball.

It’s painful to consider these things, after all these years. But I have to say, Purgatory is such a beautifully written trigger for self-examination.

Copy Editing versus Copyediting

Copy Editing versus Copyediting

These are just some of the references required for my classes.

It took a bit of time but I finally finished editing my entire blog. This task included making a style sheet which covers mechanical usage and standardized formatting for the entire website.

Style sheets have become a part of my life since I started taking editing classes at UC Berkeley Extension. I am grateful I learned about style sheets as I did without them for the first decade of my career. Nowadays I look back on my previous editing gigs and I wonder how I did without this useful tool. It certainly would have cut down on the minor bickering and word-to-word combat with senior editors.

It amuses me to no end that copy editors cannot agree whether it’s copy editor or copyeditor. Amy Einsohn’s fantastic reference is called The Copyeditor’s Handbook while Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2011) lists copy editor as a noun yet copyedit as the verb. Oxford Dictionaries notes that copyedit is preferred for American English while copy-edit is British English. A quick glance at the index of the Chicago Manual of Style (2010) lists copyediting, but the reference really prefers the term manuscript editing.

At the end of the day, I believe it boils down to a few factors: the dictionary a writer consults, the style sheet the editor uses, and the target audience’s preferences.

Since this website is my public space, I have set my own boundaries. This includes all tags, categories, and entry titles in headline style, a preference for em dashes over parentheses, and copy editing spelled as two words.

I prefer to leave copy editing as two words, without a hyphen, as I have dabbled in other types of editing before. Since photo editing and video editing remain unhyphenated compound words, it seems reasonable to me to let copy editing stand as such.

I know many colleagues will disagree with this. That’s fine. They can spell copy editing as one word on their own websites. The most important matter is that I spell it as two words consistently throughout my blog, and they spell it as one word all throughout theirs. It’s not as if I am butchering the English language and spelling it as c0py3dItiNg.

In a couple of decades, the trend may veer entirely towards copy editing as one word, or perhaps a new term will come into use. Until then, I will wave my little style sheet with like a white flag of truce.

Side Comments of the Month III

Side Comments of the Month III

There is a mild spoiler for Life of Pi in this post. To read it, highlight the invisible text with your mouse.

 

1. My annual winter visit to Saskatoon resulted in the consumption of a lot of mass media, including thirteen manga volumes of Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s Neon Genesis Evangelion, some re-reading of Calvin and Hobbes, and a bunch of other books.

Detective McNulty knows exactly what the f*ck he did. An HBO poster.

Since Adam is taking a course on HBO’s The Wire (2002), I “helped” him with homework and watched seasons one to three. I haven’t followed a police procedural since I weaned myself off CSI: New York, so it was engrossing. Why did I spend the 2000s watching Tony Soprano in therapy when I could have been ogling following the clues with Detective McNulty? It boggles the mind.

2. I also caught two vastly different films this month. Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained has lots of blood and exploding guts. Christoph Waltz should be declared a national treasure and Leonardo DiCaprio needs to play more villainous roles. Their performances are riveting, so once they were off-screen I was less interested. I feel this weird urge to apologize to Jamie Foxx, who did a great job. The last act of the film just felt too long.

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is a lovely bit of cinema. I overheard one woman in the theatre calling it “Hollywood artistic,” a phrase I found amusing if yet degrading. Life of Pi certainly seems more accessible to a larger audience than Ang Lee’s other films like Lust, Caution or The Wedding Banquet (which I both loved, by the way), but it doesn’t make it any less ambitious. I usually hate 3D but there was nothing quite like seeing an entire zoo drowning in a turbulent ocean.

Maybe I’m just biased, I have a soft spot for any director who has the balls to tell Emma Thompson to “stop looking so old.” Ang Lee must have balls of steel!

I digress, though. It was entirely fitting for me to watch Life of Pi in Saskatoon, since Yann Martel is probably the most popular contemporary novelist who lives there.

3. The restaurants in Saskatoon continue to be great. For such a small city, there are so many good places to eat. While I didn’t get to each brunch at Poached again, Adam did take me to The Rook and Raven twice. I like it there. We also revisited Truffles Bistro, because nothing says Canada like French cuisine.

4. Now that I don’t have to get on another plane for a couple of months, I think I can start listening to the new season of BBC Radio 4′s Cabin Pressure. Every time I mentally dubbed the pilots Douglas and Martin, the plane I was riding would be subject to some freak delay—like frost on the wings in SFO, one of the largest airports in the world without anti-frost equipment. “Douglas” cheerfully informed us passengers that wings frosting over in San Francisco happens once a decade. I’m dead sure “Martin” refused to fly until the sun came out. This resulted in a three-hour delay that made me miss my connecting flight.

Moral of the story: do not dub any real pilots Douglas or Martin! None of them look like Benedict Cumberbatch, anyway.

Side Comments for the Month

Side Comments for the Month

A month-long hiatus from my blog may speak of carelessness. Yet when caught up with the actual business of living, I sometimes find it impossible to sit down and write anything. When things move too fast, I feel the need to stay away from words to process what is happening to me.

I suppose you can call me an old-fashioned creature since I think it’s unnecessary to document every single moment. This is obviously contrary to the current behavior that incessant social media encourages. I’m mildly suspicious of people who can only have fun if they are posing for photos they will share right away with a thousand of their dearest friends on Facebook (or Twitter or Tumblr).

Then again, I’m also the person who once enjoyed a five-day silent retreat in a Jesuit seminary. Zero electronics permitted, no talking was allowed, and the accommodations were as spartan as a medieval monk’s cell. So yes, I suppose my distaste of over-sharing makes sense.

Maybe I’m just a crank and you should get off my lawn now.

The last three books I read for review.

Enough digressions, though. Here are some moments of my August and September:

1. I just finished reading Umberto Eco’s Inventing the Enemy and as silly as it seems, I totally forgot to mention what I thought about the title essay in my review. Do’h. Two hundred words is not enough space for anyone to wax poetic about one of their favorite theorists. In any case, the review should come out next month.

2. I had the pleasure of watching Batman Live with my nephews last weekend. Jesus H. Christ on a stick! I was expecting campy and the production exceeded all expectations on that score. It was like Adam West and Joel Schumacher had a secret love child and the poor thing was raised to be a Las Vegas showgirl.

If the show was aiming to be America’s next guilty pleasure, I think it succeeded well. The production has great visuals and props, a slick Batmobile, and a cheeky Poison Ivy. If you are easily infected by the enthusiasm of little children, it’s worth checking out. If not, I recommend boozing up before the show.

3. I’ve avoided Naruto for years, but Adam persuaded me to give its ridiculously cute spinoff a chance. Even if I know nothing about its parent material, Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth is so silly it’s impossible not to laugh.

As a spin-off featuring chibis, it falls somewhere between The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Petit Eva: Evangelion@School. I suppose this genre only appeals to people with an immoderate sense of humor.

For people who like their manga with a slice of serious, three new chapters of Chico Umino’s Sangatsu No Lion were translated by fans when I wasn’t looking. As much as I adore Honey and Clover, I worry (rightly so?) that Sangatsu No Lion does not have the same mass appeal. The chances are slim, but I do hope they come out with an authorized English translation in the future.

. . .

I was going to write about my recent culinary adventures but that would take too much time. Another time, perhaps. Good food always deserves its own post.

Final Thoughts on Moving and Migration

Final Thoughts on Moving and Migration

This series of favorite quotations were first posted to my old blog last March 21, 2011. 

 

Quoted by Edward Said in Orientalism:

“The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land.” — Hugo of Saint Victor (12th century mystic)

The alternative version, as paraphrased by Carlos Fuentes in Constancia and Other Stories for Virgins:

Being satisfied with remaining in one’s homeland and feeling comfortable there is the first stage in a man’s development; feeling comfortable in many countries is the next stage; but perfection is attained only when a man feels exiled in any part of the world, no matter where he goes.

 

I will never claim to know perfection but I certainly feel like a stranger all the time. In the past six months I have been in three different countries. I felt like the tourist when I was in Auckland, New Zealand; I was bumbling and awkward in Oakland despite the presence of family. In its pursuit of the eternal facelift, Manila managed to change bits of its external landscape while my back was turned. Familiar landmarks were razed and some favorite stores disappeared. Even on a psychological level, the subtle differences were bewildering.

There will never be another home again. I haven’t left and I already know this to be true.