Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Do We Need A New Poetics For Philippine Spec. Fic.?

Here's an essay, "Do We Need A New Poetics For Philippine Spec. Fic.", from The Wolf's Lair. He's reacting to the forum that was held last week at U.P. An excerpt:

It was too bad that there wasn't a lot of time left over for the open forum Q&A. It was sorta interesting listening to the exchange between Dean Alfar and my orgmate Mark Derpo on the pros and cons of the label "Speculative Fiction." While Mark had a point in that spec fic as a label is imprecise as hell, I'll have to confess that I'm in Dean Alfar's camp in that, imprecision and all, it's still a convenient umbrella category. It's an ugly category, and it can occasionally rile me, much like how the terms "pocket battleship" (nastier than a heavy cruiser, but not quite a battleship) and "machine pistol" (automatic pistol that's not quite a submachine gun) used to leave me scratching my head in perplexed frustration. Like "machine pistol" and "pocket battleship", the term "speculative fiction" is convenient and occasionally fun to use and poke fun at. :p

One comment from the forum that I really wanted to explore was one of Dean Alfar's quips about poetics and academia, and a rare appeal for aid from critics (which was hilarious at the time given his many amusing jabs at academia and the critical establishment). I don't have the exact quote, but at the time, I remember Mr. Alfar making an appeal to the Comparative Lit people for a new framework or distinct poetics for the discussion of Philippine speculative fiction. I wish I had taken down better notes, but my sketchpad was also competing for attention at the time :p.

It got me thinking. A new poetics for Philippine spec fic? My gut response is: 'why?' Do we really need a new framework for reading, examining, and talking about spec fic? I wanted to ask what Dean Alfar meant by that quip, but Q&A time wrapped up. Still, the thought wouldn't quite leave my brain until I exorcised it now by writing it down. I now take a plunge into the icy depths here and hazard my own opinions. Any factual errors I make here and now are my own screwups, and so help me gods if M'am Anna Sanchez or Sir Carlos Aureus read these and ROFL at my screwups :p.

Personally, I'm not much of a critic, as any of my classmates in workshop can tell you (unless it's a work that does a lot of western mythological allusions, in which case I've got something to gun with). I tend to be a shamelessly utilitarian synthesist when it comes to using critical frameworks, chopping and welding together bits and pieces of ideas from New Criticism's close readings, post-colonial insecurities about national identity, and even the occasional foray into *gasp* Marxist theory (which I don't normally like, but is occasionally interesting when examining social power structures in Fantasy and Sci-Fi) and using whatever seems handy for the story in question. I honestly believe there are already a lot of interesting and perfectly useful ideas out there on the critical side of things that any writer or critic can co-opt or adapt for use in examining any work, including spec fic. We don't need to go and create a totally new framework to work with, do we?

Why can't you apply pre-existing theories like say New Criticism, feminism (which I've only recently learned is more than just women's lib, but also has interesting discussions of gender and society), or mythic archetypes? What would post-colonial theorists have to say, I wonder about the science fiction trope of the "highly advanced, god-like elder aliens" versus the "plucky upstart humans"?

And here're two interesting comments from two visitors to The Wolf's Lair:

"I think before we can even attempt to come up with a new framework for studying speculative fiction, focus should first be given to attempts at studying it within the context of theories that are already out there. Also, while the ongoing discussion about what spec fic is and what we're supposed to call it is interesting and relevant in itself, I think we really should move on and actually get to the work-critiquing process."

"The word "new" is always problematic. (I was going to say "I completely agree" but that opening statement's been taken, haha.) It's easy for me to consider something new if i hadn't read enough; after all, sabi nga ni Will Smith sa Nickolodeon awards (how's that for name-dropping?), the two survival skills are running and reading, because everything has already been written about. The question is really whether anyone writes about philippine science fiction and fantasy. In that sense (and whatever anyone may say of Alfar ^_^) the concern is valid, because the only ones who do care about PSF are the ones who write the stories. To this day it's practically classified as an emerging literature, and its study relegated to relatively young students (Angela Fraga, for example, is doing a thesis on the scifi of Espino, who was writing in the 70s; Darryl Delgado's MA thesis on the fantastic even won Best Thesis, but then, Darryl herself writes fantasy), as if the, well, not-so-young critics can't be bothered by it (some of them are very encouraging, but again, that's just moral support).

it's the concern not only of philippine science fiction and fantasy writers but of other genres. look at the journals and you'll find tons of papers that do NOT deal with contemporary writing, or writing by authors 40 years old and below.

it's funny how many writers during the forum kept asserting that they're not from the academe (I mean, in reverse, just because I'm from the academe doesn't mean that I can't have the same concerns as they do). Prof. Gonzales points out in his blog that in fact, most of the speakers are college graduates, and that's automatically a factor. The thing is that some of them/us immediately assign critical theory as a province of the academe when writing (in English, at that) itself is a province of the academe. Just because one says that s/he isn't a critic doesn't mean that s/he is anti-academe; often, the claim is merely self-defense."

Feel free to head on over to The Wolf's Lair to share your thoughts, or if you prefer, leave some comments here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pinoy Speculative Fiction Stories Recognized

Check out these two links:

From The Bibliophile Stalker
From Notes From The Peanut Gallery

Sometime just before the release of PGS2, someone whose name I can't recall but whose face I still remember, told me that he didn't think there was much hope that the rest of the world would find our genre fiction interesting. He spoke with the confidence of a gloomy soothsayer, saying that the few successes here and there were aberrations. His solution was that writers should stick only to the stories that are set in the reality of the country, stories that can say something, and to leave genre to foreigners. I still remember him saying:

"How will we be taken seriously if the writers here don't take themselves seriously?"

My answer then, and my answer today, is that a story is a story is a story, my old mantra; if the story works, then it works, never mind the genre, never mind if the story can't even be classified. And who is to say that genre fiction can't say something? Or nothing at all? Those two links above show that we have stories to tell that the world can indeed find interesting.

The stories mentioned in those two links were all cited as Honorable Mentions by The Year's Best Fantasy And Horror (edited by Ellen Datlow for Horror, and Kelly Link & Gavin Grant for Fantasy).

Cutting Up Books

Here's a post, "The Bittersweet Art Of Cutting Up Books", that shows what happens when old books meet an artist's idle hands. An excerpt from the post:

We wrote before about new trend of making art statements and sculptures out of used books (see our Part 1). Some readers complained that they abhor the idea of cutting up books, no matter what value the book might still have or what's printed inside. Others suggested quite the opposite: why not donate some used bookstore's inventory to the artists (and even freely ship it to them). Without entering this discussion, let us just say that most original art requires an unusual media of expression - and be glad it's not your run-of-the-mill Twitter messages that make it into a work of art... yet.

Thanks to Village Idiot Savant for the heads up.

A Reaction To The Essay On Philippine Speculative Fiction

Here's a link which will bring you to a post reacting to the essay on Philippine speculative fiction mentioned here. It's written by M.R.R. Arcega (author of "The Magic Christmas Box" from the PGS Holiday Issue). An excerpt:

Charles Tan wrote an essay here defining Filipino speculative fiction. He brought up a lot of good points and it is an essay well worth reading. However, I would like to call special attention to this passage:

Philippine speculative fiction, on the other hand, recognizes that fiction doesn’t always have to be socially relevant. Can’t we write stories simply to entertain? That’s not to say local spec fic isn’t socially relevant or doesn’t possess gravity. More than a few modern spec fic stories tackle that (spec fic is inclusive, remember?). But the biggest differences is that writers are now able to write and pursue their own agendas without feeling guilt about the lack of Filipino characters or Filipino settings or importance on how their work will change the face of Philippine literature while still being able to gain a certain amount of literary acceptance.

I have to put my two cents out there.

I’m not going to deny that we have realist writing traditions. We have celebrated literature that aims to represent our unique struggles, as people and as citizens, and even now we’re in dire need of skilled wordsmiths who aren’t afraid to reflect Filipino society, its glories and ills, in their fiction.

But, you see… as a writer of speculative work, I have never felt like I had to break off from or go against any traditions. Or felt guilty or scared because I wrote stories that other Filipinos might not enjoy reading.

Philippine Speculative Fiction IV

Notes From The Peanut Gallery has announced the launch date of Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, as well as the story list. An excerpt from his post:

24 original stories (which means all stories were not previously published anywhere, making this volume an all-original anthology)
-- 12 stories by women
-- 12 stories by men

17 authors not previously published in any of the older volumes of the Philippine Speculative Fiction annuals (this makes me very very happy, as fresh voices and perspectives help describe and map the spec fic topography/space better, in addition to the 7 great stories by returning authors)

Click here for all the details. Please do find the time to attend the launch, but even if you can't, get a copy of the anthology when it becomes available. And in case you haven't yet, purchase a copy of the previous volumes too.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Attempt At A Critical Analysis Of Speculative Fiction

Head on over to Kristel Autencio's site, where she has put up her old college term paper: The Melancholy Of Cultural Identity In Dean Alfar's Short Fiction. She labels it her "attempt at a critical analysis of spec fic". Here's the intro below, then click on the above link to read her paper.

I'm sorry for foisting my old college term paper at you guys. :( I made this in early 2007 I think, since we were studying post-colonialism. I wanted to frame this kind of critical thought around the two stories by Dean Alfar that really struck me for their themes. This is only the first part and it's horribly incomplete because I seem to remember that this paper came to a total of 9 pages. There was even a specific reading of L'Aquilone du Estrellas and The Middle Prince that has seemed to be lost within the bowels of my hard drive. :( But since it might be relevant to the current discussion, here you go.

Looking back on it one year later, I can see a lot of difference in the literary climate today. For one, there's a mention of the lack of printing venues for fantasy and science fiction aside from indie publishing. But that was before Anvil released it's own line of Fantasy titles. I'm pretty sure many of my former assumptions have changed (or have been modified, at least) since then.

Lastly, forgive the crazy underlines and notations, I'm too lazy to take them out. X'D

How Movies And TV Get People To Read More

M.R.R. Arcega (author of "The Magic Christmas Box" from the PGS Holiday Issue) has an article out at Manila Bulletin Online: How Movies And TV Get People To Read More. An excerpt:

At Read or Die, we think about how to get more Filipinos reading, and reading more fiction and non-fiction written by Filipinos in particular.

Personally, I’m placing a lot of stock in the power of showbusiness in getting more people off their couches, and into bookstores.

Sounds silly? Maybe it does. After all, why would people look for a book if it’s already been made into a movie? Or, why would people want to go out and buy this particular romance novel (or series of romance novels) if a teleserye or radio drama has already been made out of it?

Well, we might be surprised. There are already numerous reports about how Hollywood drives up book sales in the United States and everywhere else in the world. Publishers of the Narnia books, for example, reported a remarkable increase in sales when the first Narnia movie, which was based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, came out in 2005 - 55 years after it was first printed!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Do You Really Want Science Fiction Books To Be More Literary?

That's the title of an article I found on io9.com. It brings up issues that I've found myself thinking about at times, especially when it's too quiet and I'm idle. When I'm done thinking about these things I usually end up with a headache, so I'm taking this as a sign that I should avoid being too idle, and that I should avoid places or situations that are too quiet. Or that I should stop thinking altogether.

An excerpt:

When will "the literary establishment" start taking science fiction more seriously? Everybody from Michael Chabon to David Hartwell wants to know. But would most readers really be happy if science fiction actually became more literary? Here's our list of things that might change about science fiction if it took on more literary pretensions.

I actually find myself disagreeing with Michael Chabon, somewhat, when he claims there's no real difference between literary and genre fiction. I've spent enough time in the literary scene (well, a literary scene) to get a sense that there is such a thing as literary writing. It has its own set of clichés, its own expectations, and its own chosen subject matter. You don't pick up the New Yorker, much less a small lit journal whose name ends in "Review," expecting to see the same kind of thing you'd see in Asimov's. You just don't.

At the same time, there's no one "literary establishment," with a single viewpoint. A couple of years ago, the New York Times Book Review polled 125 critics and authors to decide the best novels of the past 25 years. The winner, Toni Morrison's Beloved, got only 15 votes. Most other selections got only a handful of votes, meaning that nobody could agree on the best works. Not only that, but the list of winning books absolutely screams "lowest common denominator," with an over-representation of boring hacks like John Updike. (My hero Donald Hall spends a whole chapter in his seminal writing handbook Writing Well explaining, pitilessly and irrefutably, why John Updike really is a terrible writer, sentence by sentence.)

And that's the thing: the most literary writing from the "literary world" never really attains much prominence outside of a cloistered scene that talks amongst itself. There are tons of writers who are literary superstars in some context, but they'll never get profiled in Entertainment Weekly or reviewed in the NYTBR, any more than any paperback scifi writer will. In fact, the literary world is a lot like science fiction in that respect. There are literary stars who never break out of the lit ghetto, and then there are some who cross over and become "mainstream." There are people who the Quinnipiac Review will fall over itself to publish, whom you'll never in a million years hear of.

Which is the point, sort of — maybe at some point in the past the term "literary" referred to works, from whatever genre, that had stood the test of time and gained classic stauts. But nowadays "literary" refers to a particular type of writing. It's a genre in its own right, just like science fiction.

"Literary" certainly doesn't mean "good." It's a description for one way in which writing can be good. But something can be literary and not particularly good, and writing can be good without being particularly literary.

I find myself always falling back to "a story is a story is a story". If it works, it works, no matter what label you stick on it. When I think of this, my headache usually lifts a little bit.

The full article here: Do You Really Want Science Fiction Books To Be More Literary?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Talk At U.P., September 24, 2008

Went to U.P. yesterday afternoon. Didn't get lost like the last time (even dumbos can learn something, over time and with enough repetition). Notes From The Peanut Gallery wrote about it in depth, 'coz he was there too, as were some other friends. I emailed him some of the pics I took, so he might've put it up by now.

Thank you very much to Anne Lagamayo and the other members of the U.P. Writers Club for inviting us. We had a great time, and I hope it was worth the while for all those who were there.

Talecraft Storytelling Contest

From the inbox:

Think you got what it takes to be a Master Crafter of Tales?
Show us.

Join the Talecraft Storytelling Contest for a chance to win P5,000
worth of fiction books from Powerbooks!


Using the Talecraft cards Comedy (that's right, we're using a new
genre), The Haunted Hero, and Music Box, create a story no more than
1,000 words. Submissions must be saved in Rich text Format and
emailed to talecraft(at)komikasi(dot)com along with the contestant's full
name, age, occupation, school or office, and contact information; on
or before October 20, 2008.

Out of the submissions, Komikasi will choose ten (10) contestants who
will be competing in the Talecraft Storytelling Contest on October
, 2008 2-4pm, at Powerbooks Greenbelt.

Contestants have to tell the story they submitted during the event.
From the ten contestants, five (5) will be chosen to proceed to the
final round of the contest and will be asked to create a story on-the-
spot from Talecraft cards given then.

1st Prize:
P5,000 worth of fiction books from Powerbooks (pre-selected by
Powerbooks. But, hey, books are books!), and a Talecraft Gift Bag!

2nd Prize:
A 4GB Flash Disk and a Talecraft Gift Bag!

3rd Prize:
A 2GB Flash Disk and a Talecraft Gift Bag!

If you have any questions, feel free to email talecraft(at)komikasi(dot)com
or visit the website: http://talecraft.komikasi.com

Public Service Crime Prompt (Updated)

Here's a public service crime prompt sent in via email by Sharmaine's Secret:

Ladies, you may want to forward to any female relatives who may need to know this important information.

I was talking with a lawyer friend of mine. We were discussing the law and
women`s rights. She told me about this incident - a young girl was raped by
a man posing as a plain clothes officer; he asked her to come to the police
station when she and her male friend didn ' t have a driver`s license to
show. He sent the boy off to get his license and asked the girl to accompany
him to the police station. Took her instead to an isolated area where the
horrendous crime was committed.

Infact, the law clearly states that between 6 pm and 6am, a woman has the
right to REFUSE to go to the Police Station, even if an arrest warrant has
been issued against her. It is a procedural issue that a woman can be
arrested between 6pmand 6 am , ONLY if she is arrested by a woman officer
and taken to an ALL WOMEN police station. And if she is arrested by a male
officer, it has to be proven that a woman officer was on duty at the time of

It is good for us to know our rights. To what extent it comes of use remains
to be seen in any situation. But as they say, knowledge is power. Just
thought I`d share this with you.

I did not know this and am sure lot of us will not know this- please be

(Update: Oops. There's a chance that this may just be a hoax. To The Tale And Other Concerns left a comment on the PGS Multiply, leaving these two links. So, take it with a grain of salt, folks).

PinoyWriters Workshops

The details of the workshops that were first mentioned here can be found here. Click the links for the details, and feel free to email the people behind this if you have questions.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Manila Litcritters Sessions Resume

Notes From The Peanut Gallery has announced the resumption of the open Litcritters sessions. The next one is at 2 p.m. on October 4, 2008, at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Robinson's Galleria. Please click here for details. It's open to everyone; just make sure you read the stories first before going so you know what's being talked about. You don't need to join in right away either. You can just listen at first, if that's what you prefer. Please do find the time to go.

An Essay On Philippine Speculative Fiction (Updated)

The Bibliophile Stalker has an essay up on his blog, "The Term Speculative Fiction In Philippine Literature". He writes about genre fiction in the local scene as he sees it. Here's an excerpt from his essay where he mentions PGS:

Another example are the stories that are being published in The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. Dominique Cimafranca's "Twilight of the Magi" and Vin Simbulan's "The Last Stand of Aurundar" are high fantasy, unabashed sword & sorcery stories that feature far-flung worlds and not a Filipino in sight. Yet these are, arguably, examples of Philippine speculative fiction. It might not be the type of stories that the literati or the critics might want to be published yet a) it's written by Filipinos, b) published by Filipinos, c) read by Filipinos, and d) appreciated by Filipinos. I'm sure there is still pressure among local writers to write something that is socially conscious but spec fic is breaking ground in the sense that its writers are starting to write what they want instead of writing what their professors, teachers, and mentors want. Now I'm not advocating responsibility-free writing but rather a widening of our borders. As I said before, Philippine spec fic can be socially relevant, in the same way that George Orwell wrote one of the most powerful political books via science fiction (1984) and fantasy (Animal Farm). But dominance of a certain style or agenda can lead to stagnation and spec fic simply enables us to explore other areas.

Update: The Bibliophile Stalker had an interesting discussion a few months ago with Kristel-- who made a comment on the PGS Multiply for this post. Kristel is the one who commented on "Excerpt From A Letter By A Social-Realist Aswang", which is mentioned in The Stalker's essay, and she made her current comment to clarify the context in which the one on the story was made.

The Guide Goes On

Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker books is going to be continued by Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer!

Douglas Adams's increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy is to be extended to six titles, after Adams's widow Jane Belson sanctioned a project which will see children's author Eoin Colfer taking up the story.

And Another Thing… by Colfer, whose involvement with the project was personally requested by Belson, will be published next October by Penguin. No information has yet emerged about the plot of the novel but Hitchhiker fans will be hoping for a resurrection of much-loved characters Arthur Dent, Trillian and Ford Prefect, who were all apparently blown to smithereens at the end of the fifth novel, Mostly Harmless.

Adams himself had plans for a sixth Hitchhiker book, saying in an interview: "People have said, quite rightly, that Mostly Harmless is a very bleak book. And it was a bleak book. I would love to finish Hitchhiker on a slightly more upbeat note, so five seems to be a wrong kind of number, six is a better kind of number."

But his death in 2001, aged 49, meant the book was never written, and "legions of Hitchhiker fans were left with their hearts beating a little too quickly for all eternity," said Colfer, author of the bestselling Artemis Fowl series for children.

Full article here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards Update

The deadline for the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards has been moved from September 30, 2008 to November 3, 2008. That's about a month more to get your work done.

Announcement taken from Notes From The Peanut Gallery. Thanks for the heads-up!

PBBY Writing Contest Call For Entries

As taken from The Sumatra Woman's Brew:

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is now accepting entries for the 2009 PBBY-Salanga Prize. The contest is co-sponsored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and The National Library.

The grand prize winner shall win a cash prize of P25,000.00, a gold medal, and an opportunity to be published. Prizes will be awarded in an appropriate ceremony to be held during the celebration of National Children's Book Day in July 2009.

For the rules and guidelines, click here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

David Dizon Article On Blogging

David Dizon of www.abs-cbnnews.com writes about blogging through the eyes of Dean Francis Alfar (author of "The Middle Prince" from PGS1 and "In The Dim Plane" from PGS4). David's article is Write A Blog, Win A Palanca. He also has a related article: The Philippines Has 2.3 Million Bloggers.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Judge A Book By Its Cover

I received this link via email: Judge A Book By Its Cover. It's a humour site that makes comments about book covers. Warning: some of the comments and book covers are NSFW. You've been warned. The sample image above is one of the less risque ones. You should see some of the others, which include children's books, and not just those romance books with half-naked men and women embracing and in the throes. ;-P

Thanks to Village Idiot Savant for the heads up.

Because Of The Board Game Crime Prompt

The comments on the PGS Multiply mirror over "A Board Game As A Crime Prompt" was a temptation for me. Because of the discussion, I ended up asking a friend returning here from abroad to get me copies of the movies Murder By Death and Clue. My conditions: they had to be on discount, a hefty one preferably. I wasn't willing to spend full price. Haha! She found them on sale in two small and separate brick-and-mortars in the city she was visiting.

I still haven't bought a copy of the Clue game though; I've been to several toy stores and sadly, it's not available. I've still got several toy stores to try, and if I do find one, maybe I'll buy one for the younger members of the family as a Christmas gift (but I'll give it to them only as long as I can join their games whenever I want).

In addition, my friend also bought me Citizen X, the TV-movie about Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. He was given nicknames such as The Red Ripper and The Butcher of Rostov. Tom Rob Smith has a crime book out, Child 44, about this very same killer. I was able to find a copy at National Bookstore some weeks ago.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Writers Wanted

A friend emailed me asking for help, his email is as follows:

Was wondering if you have access to writers who do reviews for gadgets and technology. Our idea for the articles are personal insights, writer should actually use the device to come up with a no-nonsense review. This is for one of our websites. If in case you know of anyone, please let me know. Actually, we're also looking for both part-time and full-time writers that have interests in travel/gadgets-technology/beauty/fashion.

You can contact "johnsy" at crisp168(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Kaya Naman Pala...

Now I know why we're all still here.

Transformer Breaks On World's Largest Atom Smasher.

A 30-ton transformer that cools the world's largest particle collider malfunctioned, forcing physicists to stop using the atom smasher just a day after launching it to great fanfare, the European Organization for Nuclear Research said Thursday.

How many times have you prepared for a long trip, arrived early for your ride, only to have the car/bus/boat/plane/train break down due to mechanical problems? If you're like me, many times.

How many times have you sat yourself down, ready to watch a big show or the big game, and then something goes wrong with the TV, or the program signal, or the power goes out, or the pipelines burst and you have to get a bucket and bail out all the water (okay, maybe not that last one--famous last words, I know).

So the world was saved by faulty parts. Hooray for poor quality control! :)

Just kidding. ;-P

Some Mid-Autumn Festival Stories

In 2006, To The Tale And Other Such Concerns put up a nice blogpost about Dice And Mooncakes. I refer you to that link for a fun read, as well as a description of the dice game that is played during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Strangely, the dice game that is played here in the Philippines by the local Chinese is not well-known among the majority of the mainland Chinese. According to this article, "Mooncake Gambling Odds-On Festival Favourite", it is common only in Xiamen, in China's Fujian province. I believe that most local Chinese can trace their ancestry to that place, which is why the game is played here. An excerpt from the article (which is a story in itself):

The 300-year-old custom of mooncake gambling dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The inventor, Zheng Chenggong (1624-62), a general of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), stationed his army in Xiamen. Zheng was determined to recover Taiwan, which was occupied by Dutch invaders since 1624.

When every Mid-Autumn Festival came, the soldiers naturally missed their families but fought with heroical determination to drive off the aggressors.

General Zheng and his lower officer Hong Xu invented mooncake gambling to help relieve homesickness among the troops.

The gambling game has six ranks of awards, which are named as the winners in ancient imperial examinations, and has 63 different sized mooncakes as prizes.

Click here for the whole article.

As for the story behind the Festival:

This somewhat complicated moon-landing story goes like this: A woman , Chang-O, was married to the great General Hou-Yi of the Imperial Guard. General Hou was a skilled archer. One day, at the behest of the emperor, he shot down eight of nine suns that had mysteriously appeared in the heaven that morning. His marksmanship was richly rewarded by the emperor and he became very famous. However, the people feared that these suns would appear again to torture them and dry up the planet, so they prayed to the Goddess of Heaven (Wang Mu) to make General Hou immortal so that he could always defend the emperor, his progeny and the country. Their wish was granted and General Hou was given a Pill of Immortality.

For the rest of the story, and a fuller description of the festival, read this article from which the above excerpt was taken: Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Esquire's 75 Most Influential People Of The 21st Century

There are two writers on their list:

Michael Chabon, 45, Novelist. Because he will make sure that the fierce pleasure of reading survives. He's the author of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay", among others.

Dave Eggers, 38, Writer, Educator. Because he's inspiring a generation of readers and writers. He's the founder of McSweeney's Publishing House.

The list includes many personalities from different fields from around the world, including scientists, politicians, chefs, businesspeople, musicians, designers, and athletes; the two writers they chose are from the USA.

Oh Brother...

Two Bookstore Branches In Q.C. Get Bomb Threats.

Two branches of a popular bookstore chain in Quezon City received bomb threats Sunday afternoon from a man who called and introduced himself as a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader.

Senior Superintendent Neri Ilagan, chief of District Mobile Force (DMF) of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), said the man introduced himself as a certain “Captain Abu Bakar of the MILF.” However, Ilagan discounted the possibility that the call actually came from the rebel group.

I hope these threats are not real.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Movie As A Crime Prompt

If I could use a board game as a crime prompt, why not a movie? An early disclaimer though: as I've said before, I'm not that well-versed in film, so this is a post from a guy who simply enjoyed this crime film and wants to share what he thinks about it.

I caught The Untouchables on cable not an hour ago. It stars a young Sean Connery, a young Robert de Niro, a young Charles Martin Smith, a younger Kevin Costner, and an even younger Andy Garcia.

The movie was released in 1987. It's a period-piece, set back in the 1930's before America's Great Depression (aside: some business newscasters are calling the current financial turmoil in the world economy the worst thing since the Great Depression; I wasn't alive during the Great Depression ;-P, but joking aside, things certainly look bleak, and I think it's going to get worse before it gets better). The story the movie tells is set during Prohibition, at a time when the crime lord Al Capone (played by de Niro) ruled Chicago with a violent, iron hand, and made a fortune in bootleg liquor. Eliot Ness (played by Costner) is the federal agent tasked with bringing Capone to justice, and Connery, Smith, and Garcia play three members of Ness' team. Ness' task is compounded by the fact that the city's police force, judiciary, and governing bodies are all in Capone's pocket. Add to this the manner in which the Ness character is written--an idealistic federal agent at odds with himself because he is torn between arresting Capone only within the bounds of what is allowed by the law, while coming to the slow realization that the only way to get his man is to break that law--and you've got a set-up for a crime story based on real life.

This could've been turned into a simple action movie and nothing more, but the director, Brian de Palma, and the writer, David Mamet, didn't allow this. It does have elements of a simple action movie, but the care with which each scene was shot and composed is evident (no wanton shooting, blood, gore, and explosions here). I felt that many parts of the film could've been turned into wonderful still shots by themselves. Even if it is a period piece, this treatment did not make the film feel dated in its approach in any way (other than the film's setting showing the USA in the 1930's, of course). The writing presented each character's motivations so well, even the supporting ones, so when you put such well-thought and fleshed out characters together in its tense setting, the volatile mix allows for great interaction. The flow of scenes and action was perfect for the story, feeling neither rushed nor forced, building up well to its climax and conclusion. I guess in this simple viewer's mind, if I don't ask myself, "Why did this happen? What is going on now? Why this? Why that?" or other similar questions that jolt me out, then I'm fine. More than fine. Even with the overdramatization of the train scene (the one with the baby carriage falling down the stairs in slow-mo), it still worked, and I just accepted it and accepted it because it was done so well. Another disclaimer: I think the movie score is also terrific, but I'm a fan of Ennio Morricone, so I'm biased, and I'd better stop here. It all worked well for me, even the way these real-life characters were turned into their fiction archetypes (the wise man is Sean Connery, for example, and Costner playes the conflicted hero); wonderful storytelling in movie form.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone. If you've seen it, I hope you liked it as much as I did. If you haven't, please do. In case those of you who are younger than the movie itself haven't seen it yet, do, do find the time to watch The Untouchables. It won't be time wasted, in my humble opinion. If I may suggest one positive that you can take from this movie if you do wish to use it as a crime prompt, or even just as a simple prompt for whatever story you are writing, remember characterization. It goes a long way toward making a good story.

I want to grow up to be Jim Malone. :)

Humorous Book Fair Article

Here's a funny article about the ongoing Manila Book Fair: Books And So Much More, by Ramil Digal Gulle. It mentions Christian nude-dating books, flash drive crucifixes that won't accept pr0n, and why it's not good to be in poet Jose Wendell Capili's path to success.

Who says writers should be the boring, stolid, serious types? :D

Monday, September 15, 2008

Most Popular Genres

In my all-encompassing inquiry (type "most popular genre" in the search engine box, hit the "return" key, read the first two or three links), I have "discovered" that the most popular genres in the US seem to be, in no particular order: romance, crime/mystery/thrillers/suspense, self-help, how-to, and memoirs.

It's telling that bookstore owners and employees point out that romance books are the "biggest sellers out there as a genre".

Mysteries and thrillers dominate the secondary market (used books), which, to use the words of the poster, "fans don't like them enough to hang on to them."

An agent writes on her blog that memoirs are the most popular genre at any writing conference, and that it takes something special to stand out.

Following gut-feel--since I don't have access to bookstore sales--I'm guessing that among local books, humour, travel, and cookbooks would be the top genres. Oh, and yes, romance too.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just Sharing A Bit Of My Friend's Story

One of my oldest and closest friends got a paragraph in today's Philippine Star column by Fr. Ruben Tanseco, S.J. Here's the link to the column, and here's the paragraph:

Take John Ong, one of our Jesuit alumni from Xavier School and Ateneo de Manila University, and a holder of a master's degree in hydro-geology from the University of the Philippines. During a research project that he did among the indigenous Mangyans in Mindoro, John was deeply affected by the poverty of the people. Moreover, one of the village elders requested him to stay and teach them the skills that they needed so badly. The invitation haunted him that night. And against the advice of his parents and friends, John committed himself to the challenge. The tribe needed to identify the boundaries of their land in order to file their claim to their ancestral land. But they were educationally ignorant. John had to start teaching them the basic skills in writing, reading, and arithmetic, for which he himself had to learn the Mangyan language. He helped them find water sources and lived among them - without toilets, electricity, vehicles, and roads. According to John, what he has learned from the Mangyans is "to love and to serve." (From Edi Sian, Profiles Encourage).

I've been wanting to tell his story for the longest time, but he's a private person, and has asked me not to for just as long. But this couldn't be hidden forever, and so, a lot of other people have beaten me to the telling for years. I hope he doesn't mind my blogging about it now, for the first time, with Fr. Tanseco's column as the impetus, and really just using an excerpt from someone else's writing, which is all my respect for his privacy will allow (cat's out of the bag anyway, right John? Been out, running about, and making a lot of noise for some time, really. Be safe where you are, and dress warmly. I miss our long talks. See you again in a couple of years).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Publish Or Perish At The Manila Book Fair

If you can, please do find the time to go to the Manila Book Fair tomorrow, September 14, 2008, Sunday, from 1 to 3 p.m., for the Publish or Perish Event in Meeting Room 4 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall Of Asia, Pasay City. Click on this link for a map. Thank you!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Reading And Writing For One's Health

Stumbled by accident upon this first article via a search engine: Reading As Therapy. An excerpt:

Bibliotherapy is a big word to describe the process of using books to help children work through real-life problems. The truth is, most of us already instinctively practice bibliotherapy; we're just not thinking about doing it. But according to the Bibliotherapy Fact Sheet put out by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills, bibliotherapy "is a deliberate course of action that requires careful planning." So take a minute to find out what's going on behind-the-scenes (or between the lines): it will provide insight into how to take reading to a whole new level.

The benefits of bibliotherapy are threefold: Identification, Catharsis and Insight. Simply stated, when reading the appropriate book, a child has the opportunity to:

  • relate to the main character and his predicament
  • become so emotionally connected to the story that his own feelings are revealed
  • realize that his problem is solvable or, at the very least, that he is not alone
The goal of bibliotherapy is simple: to help children cope with problems through the exploits of literary characters. And, if that means a child discovers he's not the only skivvy-wearing superhero after all, well, that's fine too. After all, as C.S. Lewis once said, "We read to know we are not alone."

Click this link to read the whole piece.

One of my acquaintances is a pre-school teacher, and bless her, the mantra she repeats the most to her students' parents is, "One of the best things you can do for your children is to read books to them. To read books with them." I think not a day goes by that she doesn't say this to some young mother and father. She never uses the word "bibliotherapy", but I do hope many parents take her advice and read to their kids.

Since searching for "Reading As Therapy" garnered me this article, I decided to type "Writing As Therapy" in the search engine box, just so to see what could be found on the other side of the coin. Here's what I got: "Writing For Therapy Helps Erase Effects Of Trauma". It's an old article, but still relevant, I think. An excerpt:

Six years ago, Vietnam veteran John Mulligan was a homeless "shopping cart soldier" in San Francisco's North Beach, a man wracked with flashbacks and numbed by post-traumatic stress disorder. But his life took a turn during a veteran's writing workshop conducted by noted author Maxine Hong Kingston.

At the first workshop, Mulligan wrote about a horrific scene from the war: his buddies turning their weapons on a water buffalo for fun, sport, and misplaced revenge. The blood, the noise, the sense of loss and waste were all there.

Mulligan, now a 49-year-old novelist, left the workshop so elated he was "whistling and skipping." In the following years, he repeatedly discovered that putting past horrors into words helped clear his mind and lift his spirits. "I had to face my demons," he says. "I was an empty shell walking around the street, and writing made me feel like I had a soul."

Souls may be beyond the reach of science, but many researchers echo Mulligan's conclusion: Writing about stressful events can be powerfully therapeutic for body and mind.

Dozens of studies have found that most people, from grade-schoolers to nursing-home residents, med students to prisoners, feel happier and healthier after writing about deeply traumatic memories, says James Pennebaker, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas and leader or co-leader of many of the studies.

Pennebaker's interest in the potential of writing therapy was sparked by conversations with government polygraph operators. A criminal's heart rate and breathing, he learned, is much slower immediately after a confession than before. Since then, he's spent much of his career proving that we can all feel better after confronting the past through writing.

Researchers don't know exactly why writing about painful events can improve health, but the answer probably lies somewhere in the still-mysterious connections between stress and disease, Pennebaker says.

Numerous studies have found that prolonged emotional stress can weaken the immune system, promote heart disease, and worsen the course of arthritis, asthma, and many other diseases. In one particularly startling example, a study published in the December 16, 1998 issue of the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute" found that elderly people who were depressed had nearly double the risk of developing cancer.

Putting traumatic memories into words can help ease turmoil and defuse the danger.

"Writing gives me a reprieve from the darkness of life," says the author, whose first novel, "Shopping Cart Soldiers," was published in 1997.

Pennebaker believes people can try writing therapy on their own, as long as they follow one rule: "If you can't handle it, quit."

In his book "Opening Up," Pennebaker suggests writing about life's current stresses -- not necessarily events from the past -- whenever spirits sag. Without regard to sentence structure or grammar, people should try to describe their traumas and explain their feelings, he says.

Like Mulligan, they will have faced their demons -- beasts that always seem tamer on paper than in the mind.

Click here to read the entire article.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New E-Text Gizmos

As taken from engadget: Plastic Logic's e-reader vs. Amazon Kindle...fight!

The kids at tgdaily have a hands-on video of Plastic Logic's biggie e-reader unveiled at DEMO earlier this week. With it, they've also nabbed a bit more information on this potential subscription-based, Kindle killer. The 7-mm thin reader connects via micro-USB to a PC to charge the unit or transfer documents. Documents can also be transferred over WiFi or Bluetooth (no cellular radio?) -- the reader can even communicate wirelessly with other readers to transfer documents. The 8.5- x 11-inch touchscreen allows for gesture control, as we heard, with the added bonus of quick and easy on-screen annotation of any supported media type such as Word docs, PowerPoint slides, or PDFs. Plastic Logic says they don't plan to compete with Kindle directly, instead, it's targeting business mobile professionals with "a lot of documents already," not those who will get all their content from the Amazon store. Of course, a variety of leaks have already made it clear that Amazon's not exactly standing still with its Kindle reader with larger and more, eh hem, attractive models in the works. Sony, too, is planning a special Reader-based event next month. So... is 2009 shaping up to be the death of print? Oh hells, no -- but it's certainly getting a lot more interesting.

To read the comments, click here.

The idea of bringing around a lot of books and other reading material in one light, easy-to-read, easy-to-use, and easy-to-carry device appeals to me. The idea of paying a lot of cash for one doesn't.

UMPIL.org Launched

Received this in my inbox this morning:

The Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) launched its new website, www.Umpil.org during its 34th National Convention held last August 30. Umpil.org contains information on the organization's history, membership, officers, and annual Congress. A list of yearly winners of the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez, and Gawad Pedro Bucaneg can also be perused.

Founded in 1974, UMPIL is the largest organization of Filipino writers in the country. V.E. Carmelo D. Nadera Jr. is its current chairperson.

Umpil.org was designed by Stellify.net's Sophia Lucero, who also designed the literary journal BulawanOnline.com. The webmaster is Phillip Kimpo Jr. (phillip.kimpo.ph).

UMPIL also launched its own presence on Multiply at www.umpil.multiply.com. Multiply is a popular social networking and media sharing website. Umpil.multiply.com serves as the organization's photo album, as well as a means to reach out to a wider audience. Writers with Multiply accounts are invited to add UMPIL to their list of contacts.

Phillip Y. Kimpo Jr.

Writer, Editor, Website Manager, Website Publisher
Batch 2006, BS Computer Science, University of the Philippines at Diliman

http://corsarius.net | http://phillip.kimpo.ph | http://thecorsarius.multiply.com

Vae victis.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why Are We All Still Here?

(Told 'ya.)


What happened?

What went wrong?

There must be some mistake.

Somebody's gonna' answer for this!


Dammit, I was ready!

Now I have to go and prepare myself all over again.


Doomsday prophecies are as unreliable as weather forecasts.

Ah, well. Never mind. See you guys again the next time the world ends.

Literacy Is The First Remedy

Alejandro Roces shares his thoughts about literacy in this essay: Literacy Is The First Remedy. Excerpts:

Yesterday, the United Nations commemorated International Literacy Day with the theme "Literacy is the Best Remedy", which focuses on the importance of literacy in the promotion of global health. The growing incidence of diseases in the world today is being traced to the most fundamental problem of poverty and lack of literacy. Poverty is a hindrance to literacy and education without which people become vulnerable to the increasing hardships from the environment, diseases such as AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases. In other words, the lack of literacy, a big problem in itself, can lead to even greater problems of society.

On a positive note, the nation has 84 percent of its population who are functionally literate, and based on the FLEMMS definition, this means these are the Filipinos who can, not only read and write, but also possess number skills. Their being functionally literate means they have the ability to follow a written set of instructions for basic tasks. They also possess the competence needed to participate meaningfully in the workforce. Therefore, they are armed with the tools necessary to survive in the currently difficult times.

We have witnessed many highly educated and professional men and women of today who cause unrest and anarchy, who cause harm to the environment, who use their authority and power to promote their selfish agenda for material gain. They show that literacy and education are not enough to have a peaceful and just society.

Literacy is indeed the first remedy for a people to rise from poverty, disease and to survive life's hardships. To me, the more meaningful form of literacy is that imbued with values, a sense of discipline and strong faith in God. With these, and a responsible and compassionate government, we can hope and pray that even the poorest Filipino can survive.

Gone To The Hills...

...or to the lead-lined underground bunkers. I haven't decided yet. But I've done my panic-buying and emptied the groceries near my home. Stocked up on canned goods; I'll be living off sardines and corned beef for a while. And potato chips. And nachos. But I didn't get any of that light/diet/zero softdrink ickiness. It's classic for me! Sugar ruuush! If the world ends because of this, at least I'm sure to be hyper. I did get a lot of bug spray and repellent. They say cockroaches are the only sure survivors after doomsday, so I want to be prepared. Wait, does that mean if I survive, I'm a cockroach? Kafka-esque. Cool.

I leave you with these links: end of the world, armageddon, doomsday, nostradamus, the book of revelation, the rapture, Joel Schumacher directs movie for Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

Books! Musn't forget my books!

And just in case you think I'm being serious about all this, I already have a title for tomorrow's blogpost: "Why Are We All Still Here?"

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How About Another Intelligence Test?

One that's more informal and doesn't take itself too seriously? That way, unlike this first one, no egos are busted (especially mine). The second one isn't too bad either. :)

Monday, September 08, 2008

September 10 Is Almost Here!

First written about here, then here, this post being the third.

The Large Hadron Collider will be fired up on September 10, 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. The atom smasher has been called the Big-Bang Machine because it creates mini Big Bangs by bumping two nuclei together.

I think the latter part of September 10 in Geneva will be early September 11 here in Manila, right? For some reason, the date "September 11" rings an ominous warning in the back of my mind.

Naah. It's nothing. Hehehe :)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Odd Book Titles

"Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers"

"Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice"

"People Who Don't Know They're Dead"

"Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues"

"How to Write a How to Write Book"

These are some of the titles that contended for oddest book title of the past 30 years. Full article here.

If I Was Voting...

...in the coming U.S. Presidential elections, and this article is proven true about one of the candidates, it would be the deal-breaker for me.

From the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News: Palin Pressured Wasilla Librarian.

WASILLA -- Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah Palin asked the city librarian if she would be all right with censoring library books should she be asked to do so.

According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. A few months later, the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing. The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn't fully support her and had to go.

Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job.

Click this link for the full article, which I first read about here at Jessica Rules The Universe.

For deep-seated reasons, the issue bothers me in no small way.

Well, I can't vote in that country's elections anyway.

Holy 1984, Batman!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Music and Personality

A professor from Scotland's Heriot-Watt University has been studying the links between people's personalities and their musical preferences. To summarize his findings:

Classical music lovers are creative but shy
Jazz lovers are creative too but more outgoing
Country and western music fans are hardworking but shy
Rap fans are outgoing
Indie lovers lack self-esteem and are not gentle
Heavy metal listeners are gentle, creative, and at ease with themselves
Soul music lovers are creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease with themselves and have high self-esteem
Pop music lovers are uncreative
Exciting, punchy music lovers are in a higher income bracket
Those who like relaxing sounds are usually in a lower pay scale

Taken from this link, "Musical Taste 'Defines Personality'", and this one, "Mozart And Metallica Fans Kindred Spirits".

The professor is still looking for volunteers to take part in the research.

I'm not really taking this study that seriously (we only have access to the articles after all, and not to the study itself). I wonder if there's a similar study for book preferences. You know, just for fun.

A Question From Banzai Cat

Banzai Cat raises a question about criticism:

For those of you out there who write, what is your stand on criticism, critique, and critical perspective? You know, the whole she-bang?

Obviously, the answers could range from following the canons and talking in academic-speak from day one to "kill all critics!" and "let creative process rule!" But I want to hear it from you people.

Don't worry, answers won't be graded. *winks*

Head on over to see the comments, and to share your own, if you wish.

On Slush

Zen In Darkness sent in this Guardian article: File It In The Bin by Aida Edemariam. An excerpt:

In the mid-90s I did a five-month internship in New York at a magazine that published both long-form reportage and fiction. Mostly this meant that very American pastime of rigorous fact-checking (I will never forget calling up the bemused manager of the KFC in Giza and asking him to measure out the exact distance, in yards, between his establishment and the Sphinx's nose) - but it also meant responsibility for reading the manuscripts sent in by hopeful writers, aka the slush pile. There were four of us unpaid minions, and whenever the pile got so high it wouldn't stay up of its own accord we'd retire to the boardroom, divide the orange envelopes between us, and set to work.

It is a dispiriting business. Like everyone who has ever done this, we began in great hope. We would discover the next Tom Wolfe, the next John Cheever ... but reality quickly set in. The vast majority of it is just bad. You start doubting your own judgment (particularly when the stuff that you do pass on to senior editors gets ignored, or immediately rejected), get distracted by prisoners who think it a good idea to include a picture of themselves with a gun pointed at the viewer (true story), and quite quickly find yourself reading the first two paragraphs, putting a pencil mark or something on page six (so the outraged author doesn't post it back with a note pointing out that they can tell you haven't read it), and slipping it into an SAE. Not without a mounting sense of guilt.

I was very glad when I went on to be an editor and the next set of dewy-eyed interns took over.

The slush pile is the great awkward albatross of the publishing industry. Writing must come from someone, and go to somewhere, and not everyone has a friend whose boyfriend happens to be editor of a literary imprint: every day someone decides that there's nothing for it but to post their precious manuscript to someone they've never met, at a company that is receiving stuff from people like them all the time. And even in the best-case scenario - where every word of every submission is read - it is a deeply fallible system. Publishing history teems with stories of missed opportunities.

Five Antisocial Gadgets That Should Be Banned

That's the title of an article I stumbled upon. These five gadgets are: Satellite Navigation Gadgets, Bluetooth Headsets, Speakerphones, Custom Ringtones, and...E-book Readers?!?!

A strange one, you might think, given my love of the e-book. Lightweight, convenient and offering hundreds of titles in your pocket, the e-book is surely a perfect gadget. It can’t even annoy your fellow-travellers on public transport. But it has a secret agenda: to destroy romance itself.

You might remember that I hollowed out a Moleskine notebook to hide my iPod Touch, the theory being that while a handsome young man reading a paperback and sipping a coffee at a pavement café would attract the ladies, a nerd reading an e-book would not.

My theory was proved correct this week. Sipping a glass of wine and looking very intellectual, I finished reading the last page of my book (something by Paul Auster, if you must know). I switched to my iPod Touch (without the Molekine prophylactic). Just then, the pretty girl at the next table turned around and, with a flirtatious smile, asked what I was doing.

“Reading” I said

“Reading?” she asked, tipping her lovely head to a rather coquettish angle.

“Yes,” I replied, “I’m reading a book on my iPod.”

She glanced down at the device in front of me.

“Reading a book on your iPod?

As I nodded she simply turned away, brow slightly furrowed. I went home alone.

Geez. Being a reader never gets you the girl, does it? :P

Assorted Links

Banzai Cat sends in this link, a crime prompt he picked up from Jeff Vandermeer's blog: Weird Crime, Weirder Crimefighters. An excerpt:

The Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Department just obtained an armored personnel carrier, complete with a belt-fed, .50-cal turreted machine gun. Sheriff Leon Lott has charmingly named the vehicle “The Peacemaker,” and insists that using a caliber of ammunition that even the U.S. military is reluctant to use against human targets (it’s generally reserved for use against armored vehicles) will “save lives.”

Village Idiot Savant posts about his writing process on his blog: Putting The Short In Short Fiction. An excerpt:

Short stories, at least the kind I aim to write, rely on an emotional core. This core is usually a pivotal scene which all the other scenes lead up to and from which the denouement descends from.

The longer it takes to reach the scene, the more tedious and boring the work is.

For Neil Gaiman fans, Zen In Darkness sends in this link which lists essays on Mr. Gaiman's comic work.

English For Non-Americans In The LPGA Part 3

The LPGA backs down. There will be no more penalties for not knowing English, though fines may still be a possibility, and they do still encourage "a basic level of communication".

"Facing anger from lawmakers and bewilderment from sponsors, the LPGA Tour backed off plans to suspend players who cannot speak English well enough to be understood at pro-ams, in interviews or in making acceptance speeches at tournaments in the United States.

LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens said she would have a revised plan by the end of the year that would not include suspensions, although fining non-English speakers remains an option.

"We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions," Bivens said in a statement. "After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to achieve our shared objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every tour player."

Check here and here for the earlier posts and links.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mean Blade

A friend, Alice Ty 鄭睎仁, has bought herself a ginunting, a traditional bladed Filipino weapon originating from Negros Occidental. She describes it in detail here.

What an apt name! "Gunting" in Tagalog means "scissors", so when you say "ginunting" it can mean "to cut". Turn this verb into a noun, and you get a killer Filipino sword.

Okay, I've got a character, and now I've got a weapon as a prop. Serendipity is helping me round out a story.

Heh. It just struck me. I'm piecing together a tale ala Clue.

"I think the lady jeepney driver did it in the _______________ with the ginunting!"

Ah, yes. Setting. Let's see what the next few days bring me.