Monthly Archives: November 2013

200 Words at a Time: Knifework

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For Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge.  

 

The wolves came in. That’s what happens when you leave the front door open at night, which is exactly what I did. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I was in the kitchen warming up some midnight milk for myself when I saw their shadows slinking along the hallway, breaking up the moonbeams across the floor. I heard their panting, smelled breath most foul. I froze, of course. But–and I guess this was stupid of me but I still had my wits about and what else was I to do with them–I tried to figure out just by looking at their shadows if these wolves were scared, bored, or hungry.

You’d think the hungry ones are the most dangerous, but these aren’t ordinary wolves. And if they were bored, I was as good as dead.

Very quietly, I shut off the gas. Stove dials would make too much noise, and so would my bunny slippers. I slid the biggest knife we had from its place in the wooden holder with the brood of ducks on it before I realized that one, I tended to focus on the most mundane things when I am scared, and two, I sure as hell didn’t know how to wield a knife.

In response to “What Ateneans Do Wrong After Graduating” by Janine Motos

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The famous figure on the Blue Eagle Gym. Image taken by Ramon F. Vasquez via Interaksyon.com

The famous figure on the Blue Eagle Gym. Image taken by Ramon F. Vasquez via Interaksyon.com

Saw “What Ateneans Do Wrong After Graduating” by Janine Motos only today (thank you, Sir Karl R. De Mesa).

My issue with this piece, apart from the grammar (and I was picking on grammar long before I was an Atenean, mind you), is that though it has some very good insights, it forgot some very important lessons ingrained from your English 11 all the way to your Philosophy 104: never generalize.

Sure, there are many Ateneans just like what the writer describes (let’s be honest), but there are also many who exhibit the exact opposite attitudes. At the same time, it is not only Ateneans who need to read this, as I do believe that it is not the school that determines your adult outlook.

I’ll admit that I am proud to have come from this school, and maybe that doesn’t make me the best person to pass a judgment on this blog post. But I’ll also admit that I don’t have it all figured out–it’s the prime reason for so many of my sad, lost, drifting blog posts from earlier months. I’ve just left a system that I finally got good at after spending most of my life in it. Someday, I’d like to return to it as a teacher, but that day is far away. For now, permit me to say, I actually want to get a little bit lost.

From one fresh grad to another, Miss Motos: we both need to get out more.

A typhoon-aftermath plea from the frustrated powerless

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The world went insane a week ago, and not of the I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-anyone-is-fighting-about sort of insane. It’s the aftermath of a Category 5 storm kind of insane.

It happened not so long ago that you feel as if you can still reach out into the river of Time and snatch at that one pristine day before the madness. To undo devastation, to relive a peace it will take years to rebuild. Maybe that’s the result of being of the generation familiar with Ctrl + Z command, I dunno.

My job requires me to be familiar with every angle of the news down south. I can’t escape it. The TV is on 24/7 and it is most of the time tuned to the coverage in Tacloban, though I wish it would also focus a couple of shots on other places, such as Coron, Guiuan, Boracay, and Cebu to name a few places. But I don’t call the shots here.

This is why, for the last few days, my friends have wondered as to my emotional decisions and verbal comebacks. I’m saturated with news of the devastation. My family has done its part with donations and volunteering at relief ops, but I feel that it isn’t enough. Then again, would anything come close to counting as “enough” in a situation such as this?

But this is not about me. It’s about the storm survivors weeping because of what befell them (and can anyone honestly say they wouldn’t do so in their shoes?). It’s also about so many of those sitting in the safety of their own homes and workplaces – so far away from what is now being called ground zero – not knowing which of the news items are false and which are true. Not knowing means such people cannot better tweak their relief efforts to the needs of the needy.

I don’t know whom to believe and it is maddening, because everyone from CNN anchors to local reporters to politicians big and small to ordinary people volunteering in Leyte to the survivors themselves each have a different view of a situation so massive, I don’t think anyone can begin to wrap their heads around it without needing to sit down and stare at a wall for a while. Not knowing in this case is brought about by everyone saying contradicting things. Everyone saying contradicting things means there is no concerted effort, no organization.

Some would argue that organization should be the last thing on the mind for these people, but maybe, just maybe, if someone in Manila or in any of the affected provinces had a clearly-defined plan and manner of execution, things would start to look a little better.

I have yet to hear of such a person with such a plan. But in the name of fairness, you have to hear them all out and make the best of what you can with what you do know.

I heard this one somewhere, and I will repeat it here. Now, unlike no other moment in history to come before it, the eyes of the world are on the Philippines. Now is the time for the Philippine government to prove that it truly has the interests of the very people it should protect at heart, to show that it is remorseful for all its past mistakes and transgressions.

I don’t mean to grandstand or to point fingers. I have been thinking of how to approach this matter for a while now, and I figured it should be in some manner that will help rather than hinder, just as some posts compel some people to argue in the comments rather than be out helping in any way they can. I still don’t know what that approach should be, but this right here is from my heart, born of six days of monitoring the news.

I won’t pretend to know what they specifically should and shouldn’t do, as I am not there. But people are suffering on so many islands in the Central Visayas, and some survivors are saying that help hasn’t even arrived yet. To the men and women leading my country’s government, particularly to those who could and should be doing better, please take initiative. Please think out of the box. Please organize yourselves. Please go beyond all that red tape and see that the survivors get their food, water, places to sleep and keep warm, and body bags for their dead.

The world is watching. Don’t wait for those of other nations to lead you. You have to lead them. You have to take their criticisms constructively and act in accordance. Show all those down in the Visayas and around the nation that we can lead ourselves and that we are capable of at least propping ourselves up on our elbows.

This will be the last time I post anything here about the matter. It is time not to go into polemics or to call each other names. It is time to do, and do more.

Movie Review: ‘Thor: The Dark World’

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Image from Marvel Studios via BusinessInsider.com

Image from Marvel Studios via BusinessInsider.com

Minor spoiler alert. Also, I have not read the comics and I don’t think I intend t0, as it’s just too long a series.

I watched Thor: The Dark World twice because:

  1. I like the Thor franchise,
  2. I’m not immune to the charms of either Chris Hemsworth or Tom Hiddleston,
  3. I got free tickets the second time around and wanted to watch with my boyfriend,
  4. It’s just so gosh darn enjoyable.

A sequel will always be held up next to its predecessor. Is it better? Is it worse? Can it stand on its own? Will you need to watch the first movie?

But sometimes, for one reason or another, sequels are completely different animals. Look at the second Transformers movie. Look at the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Heck, look at The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and compare it to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Director Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World is, in one sense, a completely different animal from 2011’s Thor as directed by Kenneth Branagh. For one, it’s got more visual depth, loads of extras to round out the lived-in feel of both Asgard and London, a faster-paced plot with a couple of neat twists, and most of the secondary cast became truly badass in the personality and fighting skills department.

Two thumbs up for Rene Russo as Asgardian Queen Frigga and Kat Dennings as the loopy Darcy, and maybe a quizzical look in the direction of Anthony Hopkins, who seemed to be holding back in his portrayal of Odin (some of the dickery managed to shine through, though, but it is arguable if that was due to Hopkins’s acting or the fact that Odin’s dickery no longer had to contend with that of Thor’s in the first movie). Even Jane gained a level in badassery, as she actually helps Thor fight Dark Elf Malekith (I swear, thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, I’ve been ruined forever for any other sort of Dark Elf) instead of simply nursing Thor back to health while he still can’t figure out that he’s too big of a dick to wield his hammer. (See what I did there?) We get to see more of her quirks, too, as she briefly tries to move on from Thor with a date and then can’t shut up as she is medically (magically?) examined by Asgardian healers and then verbally put-down by Odin himself.

Is it as funny or funnier than the first? Depends on what you find funny. The humor no longer lies in the ensuing slapstick of Thor’s being hopelessly out of place in the mortal realm, although they couldn’t resist paying homage to that gag of headbutting a big guy like Thor. It ranges from silly hijinx in a field where physics simply gave up and left, to the squabbling brotherly banter between Thor and Loki, to Dr. Selvig streaking around Stonehenge.

All that aside, I do miss the Shakespearean qualities of the first movie. Granted, the Bifrost bridge looked like a plastic rainbow stage and that town in New Mexico was practically a ghost town even before the Destroyer went on a rampage there. But the interesting thing about Kenneth Branagh helming a Marvel movie was that his Shakespearean background as an actor managed to coax a level of dramatic depth from a usually plot-driven superhero movie. I mean, Thor will probably be the only movie where I feel any empathy for Loki (but not Tom Hiddleston. I always adore that man). That doesn’t mean he’s any less fun to watch in the sequel, however—particularly riveting was that scene in his cell, where he makes all the furniture smash against the walls after he hears some distressing news. Such muted emotion—it was perfect.

But moving on, all these reasons are why I’d say to any first-timers eyeing the Thor franchise to begin with the first movie. It did a fairly good job in laying down the groundwork for the personalities and relationships between Thor, Loki, and Odin. This trio’s bond (or lack thereof) evolves into something else entirely with the plot-driven fun of Thor: The Dark World, especially when something that particularly strains the three occurs somewhere near the middle.

I was expecting a few more things, however. Like more screen time for Sif and the Warriors Three (poor Hogun). It would have been fun to see what else Zachary Levi could have done with the Fandral character. And I mean, come on, Sif was making goo-goo eyes at Thor all over the place! I thought she’d be more of a problem for him and Jane.

Malekith is not a bad guy, he simply wants something different and fundamentally against what everyone else wants. That said, he doesn’t seem to be particularly vengeful or grief-stricken for someone who’s lost everything; but then again, he didn’t really have qualms about sacrificing his entire race just to win a war with Asgard.

I don’t really get why he wants to put the lights out throughout the universe. Dark Elves can’t sleep with all that starlight? They thrive on darkness? What? And for some reason, the Aether’s ability to turn everything in to dark matter seems less threatening than, say, the Tesseract’s ability to open up portals between worlds.

All in all, Thor: The Dark World will take you on a fun ride from Midgard to Asgard and back, with a sliver of the cosmos in between. It definitely made me want to re-watch both it and 2011’s Thor, so that’s a big bonus.

What did you think of it?

Why Mayor Estrada Is Wrong on Hong Kong

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THIS.

The Society of Honor: the Philippines

Subtitled: Filipinos Should Not Move to the Back of the Bus

As is often the case, kindly bear with me as I wander through some facts and acts, and examine things a bit, before arriving at a conclusion.

I’m sure most of you are aware of the background of the incident commonly known as the “Bus Massacre”. Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed on August 23, 2010, when an angry Filipino, holding the tourists hostage on a bus, opened fire on the hostages as Filipino police, trying to apprehend him, charged the bus.

The case has festered for three years because Hong Kong demands apology and remuneration from the Philippines while President Aquino holds to a “no apology” position. It is about as intricate as an issue comes. It reflects cross-cultural dynamics, national sovereignty, legal issues, and a lot of human emotions.

A Quick-Study of the Situation

Here is a…

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