Thursday, April 30, 2009

Elaborations on the State of the Nation of Speculative Fiction

An Exercise In Youthful Blasphemy has put up his blog entry, Necessary Ficciones Part 1, Elaborations on the State of the Nation of Speculative Fiction. His goal is "to put to bed some of the issues surrounding the genre, i.e., the claims that SpecFic is still marginalised, and maybe effort to start new topics for further discussion and debate, i.e., the development of a functional critical framework solely for Speculative Fiction." Head on over to read his entry, and feel free to leave your own thoughts/ideas/comments here (since I'm not sure if you can leave a comment there on his blog). Thanks!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Jane Austen Book Club On The Periphery

I was reading some fiction on the computer while one of my relatives, who was watching TV, got hooked on The Jane Austen Book Club, which came on about an hour ago. I'm really not watching, but through some strange manner (osmosis?) I've gathered that the movie's about the members of a book club that's going through all of Jane Austen's novels. One of the club members is a geek who only reads science-fiction, particularly Ursula Le Guin--and the only guy in the group--who joined because he's attracted to one of the other members.

It's the first time I've heard of this movie though, and the concept of a book club that reads only the books of one author is interesting. It's based on a book by Karen Joy Fowler, who writes science fiction and fantasy too, by the way, in addition to this story which is very much based in the "real" world. ;)

I couldn't help myself and burst out laughing in the scene that just ended, when all the lady members were reading Pride And Prejudice with great interest, and the geek was shown sleeping halfway through it.

Back to the fiction on the computer now.

Visit The Science Centrum For Free

I really really really do think that in another life, that if I had lived through circumstances with a hefty focus on science and with the opportunities for such, I would've become some kind of loner, geek, research-type lab rat with a frustrated dream of becoming the #1 tennis player in the world, instead of what I am now: a loner, geek, reader, small businessman, with a frustrated dream of being the #1 tennis player in the world. (Yeah, that's right, Kyu ol' boy, you just go on kidding yourself about being smart enough to be a scientist. And if any of you out there believe in any of what I've just written, I have a bridge to sell you. Damn, the only consistent item here is that I'm a frustrated tennis player).


In the hopes of fostering the dreams of future, frustrated Pinoy lab rats, it is my pleasure to inform you that the Philippine Science Centrum will open its doors to bloggers and internet writers for free on May 16, 2009. Registration starts at 2:00, and the guided tour starts at 3:00 p.m. To inquire and/or reserve slots, email your name and your URL to bloggers(at)pfst(dot)org.

I've been to science museums in different countries, and these places practically swarm with people. The science museum in Hong Kong is crowded with young people trying out the various exhibits on Wednesdays, their day of free admission. The one time I went to the museum in Vancouver, it was the same. Ditto for the one in New York, and the one in Washington D.C. (though the ant and insect farms at the Smithsonian creeped out some of my companions; do you know how big some of their ants are? Humongous monsters! Fascinating). I hope the Philippine Science Centrum gets some younger Pinoys interested in science.

If you know any youngsters who may be interested, you may want to bring them to the Centrum on May 16, or on any other day your schedule allows. Heck, go there for yourselves, if you want.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Why, yes. I think I'll have some fries with my book, thank you."

What do you think of a machine that can churn out a fully printed book on demand in just a few minutes? With this machine, a bookstore need not carry any actual physical inventory (aside from paper and ink). All the bookstore will need is a digitized database of titles and their texts, ready to be printed and bound anytime. It sounds as easy and as convenient as hitting the "Print" button for your inkjet or photocopier, and at a higher quality, too.

This isn't science-fiction. It's here! Check out this article. An excerpt:

It's not elegant: it looks like a large photocopier. But the Espresso Book Machine could herald the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented his printing press more than 500 years ago.

Unveiled today at Blackwell's Charing Cross Road branch, in central London, the machine prints and binds books in five minutes.

Blackwell believes the introduction signals the end to the frustration of being told a title is out of print or not in stock. The Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll's original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton's Book of Needlework.

The company hopes to increase the catalogue to more than a million titles by the end of the summer, the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space or more than 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are out of copyright, but Blackwell is working with UK publishers to increase access to in-copyright writing. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive, the firm says.

"This could change bookselling fundamentally," said Blackwell's chief executive, Andrew Hutchings. "It's giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon ... I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that's pretty compelling."

The Charing Cross Road machine is the first to be set up in a UK bookstore. It cost Blackwell about £120,000, but Phill Jamieson, head of marketing, said: "It has the potential to be the biggest change since Gutenberg."

Time Magazine also featured it as one of the best inventions of the year.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The 100 Filipino Books Of All Time

Via PM from Kristel Autencio:

I was wondering if you can promote a project for a news website The Philippine Online Chronicles (where I'm working at) called "The 100 Filipino Books of all Time." It's basically an attempt to get the popular vote on which Filipino books are the most relevant right now. We are also planning to get the "writers' choice" where we ask writers to submit which books *they* think are relevant. we need all the nominations we can get. :)

The article is here:

And the nomination form:

And if you like you can also look around at the Literary Channel: I've started a semi-regular blog link roundup. :D It'll come out twice a week.

Interesting stuff, Kristel! Head on over to her site, folks!

1st Book Published In RP On Display Online

From The Philippine Star:

PARIS – National libraries and the UN education agency put some of humanity’s earliest written works online Tuesday, from ancient Chinese oracle bones to the first European map of the New World, as well as the first book ever published in the Philippines during the Spanish empire, the Doctrina Christiana, in 1593.

US Librarian of Congress James Billington said the idea behind the World Digital Library is not to compete with Google or Wikipedia but to pique young readers’ interest – and get them reading books.

“You have to go back to books,” Billington said in an interview in Paris, where the project was launched at UNESCO’s headquarters. “These are primary documents of a culture.”

A Website in seven languages – English, Arabic, Chinese, French Spanish, Portuguese and Russian – leads readers through a trove of rare finds from more than a dozen countries.

Among them: a 1562 map of the New World; the only known copy of the first book published in the Philippines, in Spanish and Tagalog; an 11th-century Serbian manuscript; and the oracle bones – pieces of bone or tortoise shell heated and cracked and inscribed that are among the earliest known signs of Chinese writings.

It also has early photographs, films and audio tracks.

Click here for the whole article.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Hero

Matagal ko na siyang hinahangaan at gustong gayahin, kaya alam ko na ako ay tunay na lalake.

Di rin ako sumasayaw.

Di rin ako nagsa-spandex.

At wala akong abs! Tiyan pa lang, panalo na ako, katulad ni Homer. Ha!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tweet The Meat

Can you tell a horror story in 140 characters or less, without degenerating into text-speak?

If you can, consider sending your story in to Tweet The Meat!

Tweet the Meat is a Twitter-only, horror/weird/speculative market opening in May, 2009.

No serials. No unfinished stories. You must scare us in 140 characters or less.

Submission guidelines here.

Cats And Dogs, In Waves And Sheets

It's raining hard where I am, in Quezon City. Is it raining hard where you are? My contacts in downtown Manila say that it's pretty bad there, too.

To think that it's only mid-April, in what should be the peak of a Philippine summer.

I remember a summer's day when I was twelve. It was mid or late May, and I so wanted to play in a tennis tournament that afternoon when the rains unexpectedly hit, signaling the start of the rainy season. I can still taste my disappointment 'coz I had been playing well the past few days and I knew I had a good chance to win the tournament. That rainstorm ended all that. The tournament was cancelled.

But that was mid-May. This is mid-April.

Have all countries joined the Kyoto Protocol yet?

Good grief.

Pinay Expat (Sort Of) Meets Ian McEwan

Writer Catherine Batac Walder, who is based in Europe, gave me permission to share her email on this blog. Let's see into the mind of this Pinay expat writer, who is generous enough to share her experiences:

March had a sad start. As some of you know an aunt of mine, my
mother’s oldest sister, one who had lived in the same house and had
seen all of us grow up, died. Mike suggested for us to come to the
Philippines, but I didn’t want to go back (yet) after almost four
years on such a sad occasion. I felt so lonely I just wrote and wrote
for days that I managed to finish a story about her...


I was back to Oxford University two weeks ago – almost a year since
that unforgettable job interview at the Faculty of English Language
and Literature which I had attended just for the experience of it (I’d
already accepted the job at Royal Holloway when I got the invitation).
I had checked out the profile pages of my panel afterwards, and had
found this page about the chairperson that if I’d known earlier who
she was I probably would have been nervous during the interview (but
she had been extremely nice we’d ended up talking about literature
even when the job I had been applying for was not related). The page
I had found said of her “Effectively, head of the largest English
department in the UK.”

Anyway, Mike and I went to Oxford for an Ian McEwan affair. He was to
receive an award for Literary Excellence. Afterwards he was also
interviewed by Peter Kemp. The whole thing was part of a big event,
the annual Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. I had an MP3 player
in my bag and I regret I didn’t record the interview. It was both
enjoyable and inspiring. I was surprised listening, and later reading
some more, about Ian McEwan’s background. Having been born into a
not-so well-off family I could relate to his struggles. But I
wouldn’t have been that surprised if I had met someone with a past
like his while I was living in Quiapo, not Berkshire.

I wasn't surprised when he mentioned L.P. Hartley's “The Go-Between”
as one of his early writing influences. There are similarities
between that novel and “Atonement.” I asked Mike what he thought of
Ian McEwan. He said, “he looks very content and happy to talk about
his stuff.” He is probably one of those really pleasant famous people
I’ll ever meet. Well, we didn’t quite meet. There were over three
hundred people who went to the affair, with half waiting for their
books to be signed afterwards. There were lots of press people, all
cameras ready, clicking as he signed every book. I wanted a photo
with him but I didn’t know how Mike could get past those press people.
What he did was he stayed in the queue and I went up to Ian and after
he signed asked him if I could please have a picture with him. He
might have said, “of course,” (I couldn’t remember) but as you’ll see
in the photo on multiply, he looks so nice and pleasant, this man.
Mike was laughing at me, joking I’d be in the papers as, of the
hundreds who asked for Ian’s autograph, I was the only one who
bothered to look at the cameras :-)

In May in London, Kazuo Ishiguro will talk about his new book. He is
one of my favourite contemporary novelists, even more than Ian McEwan.
I’d really love to meet him but he seems a bit reclusive so I’m still
debating on whether I’ll go to the talk or not.


Edyta, a post-doc in our group, got back from Australia last week
after three weeks of visiting petroleum companies in Sydney,
Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. But her main destination was
Geoscience Australia (GA) in Canberra to talk about a collaboration
between GA and our group.

Anyway, when she got back there was a koala bear toy (with a baby –
what d’ya call them?) on my desk. It wasn’t just that. Its tag was a
tiny passport, and, it had an immigration stamp on it! You might
remember the story of my bear traveller that has a passport and how,
during a recent trip to Belgium, I asked the officer at the French
border to stamp the passport for me. Edyta laughed, saying, “I did
it. Because I know you collect them.” She told me how the
immigration officer asked her, “oh, so you’re a geoscientist. What
did you do here?” She said she gave some talks, blah blah and while
the officer was stamping her passport, she took out the koala from her
bag, and asked the officer if he could stamp it.

He looked suspiciously at her, saying, “so you’re a geoscientist...”

She laughed and said, “it’s for my friend.”

That was really sweet of her.

I’ve got other koala soft toys (a Steiff from Mike that I named Kozlo,
then there’s the koala tissue box, and another one I gave to Father
Gallagher more than a decade ago) but Edyta’s gesture was really
something else. Look her up in the Royal Holloway photos, the
beautiful Polish girl with her eyes closed, enjoying the sun. That
time when we stood outside for a coffee (chocolate milk for me) break
in one of those rare days when it wasn’t raining in England. I’m
exaggerating, of course.


Theatre. So far our goal of watching one show every month is
happening. Last month we saw “Vincent in Brixton” which is about Van
Gogh’s three years living in London. Mere speculations really, how he
descended into madness. I have the book on which the play was based
but never got to read it, consisting of Vincent’s letters to his
brother Theo. I miss my library back in the Philippines... I liked
the artistic (literally) way the play ended. It was quiet, not a lot
of props were used and it was set in a real working kitchen. We were
sat in front, a chance to have eye-contact with the performers. You
feel as though they are talking to you / performing for you alone. I
guess it’s why I like watching reruns of Twilight Zone, those days
when even television was like theater with minor special effects, lots
of meaningful dialogue and brilliant performances. The play was
staged in Haymarket in Basingstoke, therefore, the tickets were very
cheap as compared to ones for shows in the West End. I liked the
theatre there, very new and Mike was quite happy that there was a lot
of leg room, unlike the theatres in London where everyone’s almost
huddled together. We don’t have anything yet scheduled for this month
(would like to see a suspense-thriller on stage next week). We have
booked for Ben Hur Live! in September as I was curious how they would
do the chariot scene, and also just received our tickets for Samuel
Beckett’s Waiting for Godot for next month. Godot stars Ian McKellen
and Patrick Stewart in this play I’ve wanted to see since college.


The test I studied for, and luckily passed only this afternoon (thank
God) after the first try, is the Life in the UK test. I need it when
applying for a permanent residence, and eventually, getting a British
passport. I have till October to take the test but wanting to get it
out of my system, I booked it even before I started studying. I
treated it like a story submission – I knew I wouldn’t start doing
anything till I have a deadline. So I booked almost a month ago then
started reviewing.

To be fair the test is not out to get you, it’s really there to help
you learn more about the UK, and what’s good about it is you also get
to know your benefits. Before I entered the testing centre Mike told
me not to put too much emphasis on it (if I fail). He added that of
course it’d be nice to pass it the first time but anyway I have a lot
of time to take it again (but what, pay 34 quid each time?). I knew
that I would be frustrated if I failed as I really studied hard. I
read the book, then read it the second time and took down some notes.
It must be this getting old syndrome, I find myself having difficulty
memorising so I read the chapters I had to study aloud and made a
voice recording. I listened to my mp3s on the train to work and back,
also listened when I was ironing (I used to have piles of clothes to
iron, now the wardrobe’s all organised and tidy after hours of
listening to the recordings while ironing). I also have this practice
book that has some 800 questions in it. I worked on the questions in
the book twice, till I gave up because there were so many mistakes in
the answer sheets. The hubby sat outside in the car for over an hour
and managed to read an issue of Top Gear magazine from cover to cover
while I took the test.

I guess the next thing I should do is to contact the Philippine
Embassy in London to ask about dual citizenships, as like most expats
I’m hoping to retire in the Philippines.

Thanks for sharing, Catherine!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Trail Of The Chop-Chop Lady Of Makati

Here's a novel to add to the short list of crime-fiction books we have in the country: The Trail Of The Chop-Chop Lady Of Makati, by Atty. Wilfredo Garrido.

Getting together with some friends after a long time, plus meeting and making some new ones, I had the honor last night of meeting the Manila Critic Circle's First Awardee for Lifetime Achievement in Publishing, the One-Woman Publisher of Giraffe Books, the esteemed Gloria F. Rodriguez. Her daughter, writer Nadine Sarreal, who has had her work published so many times here and abroad, was also there. A number of us were their dinner guests in their home in Quezon City yesterday.

For some moments, our conversation turned to, as usual, the dearth of crime fiction in the Philippines. Ma'am Glo then informed us that last year, she had published a crime novel by a Makati-based lawyer named Wilfredo Garrido. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least. A couple of us bought a copy each of The Trail Of The Chop-Chop Lady Of Makati right then and there.

I haven't read the book yet, but I would like to plug it nonetheless, it being a crime novel, a rare thing locally. I'd also like to make a little shout-out for Giraffe Books, the publishing company of ma'am Glo. I'm in awe of all that she's done for local literature in what is essentially a one-woman show. Even at her advanced age, she's still going strong. Maraming salamat po, ma'am!

The book lists Giraffe Books' contact info as: giraffebooks(at)asia(dot)com; (632) 928-9269, in case you'd like to inquire about this book, or any others they have.

Three Writing Calls

From my email inbox:

Adarna House Call For Manuscripts - Adarna House is looking for storybook manuscripts bearing one or more of the following themes: first day of school, honesty, health, Chinese-Filipinos, classroom situations, death, music, children with working parents, rhyming / repetitive style of writing, legends, fathers, grandfathers, citizenship values, peace and tolerance, diligence (sipag), personal hygiene, sportsmanship, value of reading. Submissions may be in Filipino or English. Call 3723548 local 122 for the submission guidelines.

From Celdran Tours - LIVE THE ISLAND LIFE!
So, here's the Philippines' answer to the best job in the world (assuming HIGH pay is not a factor).

The folks over at CANVAS/Looking for Juan are seeking a willing soul who can help document the building of the Philippines' Pacific Rim Friendship Park in the gorgeous island of Palawan. This project, best described as "Survivor-Meets- Habitat-for- Humanity" , hopes to bring together architecture/ art students from around the world who, together with counterpart Filipino students, will design and build a Friendship Park under the artistic supervision of leading artists, architects and urban planners - in only 30 days. Puerto Princesa City is providing the land. You can view the spectacular site they are allocating here:

Students from the US, Russia, Mexico, Japan, China and Korea will start arriving on May 2 and 3. We'll give them a tour of Manila on May 4. Then on May 5, they all fly off to Palawan to build the park. If all goes well, we will launch the park on May 30.

So... if YOU are that someone who can go with the group for the entire period from may 2-31 to take photos (or better, photos and videos), document, and blog at least once every day in May, then hit them up. You will also of course be expected to help with the building of the design - but your main responsibility is the documentation, photography/ videography and blogging. You can interview the participants, talk about anything interesting during the whole process. Lots of room for creativity, meeting new people, and learning about new cultures.

Ah, and of course, the perks: CANVAS will cover your plane fare from Manila to Puerto Princesa and back, hotel stay, board and lodging for the entire month, and a MINIMAL stipend (at least P10,000.00, maybe a bit more if additional funds can be secured). What is practically guaranteed is that you will make new and lasting friendships (maybe more - who knows?), and definitely have a unique entry in your CV once this is over.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this adventure of a lifetime, please have them email Gigo Alampay ASAP at gigo(at)canvas(dot)ph.

From Inscribed, Deadline Reminder - The next deadline for submissions of art, poetry, fiction and essays for Inscribed ~ A Magazine For Writers is April 25th, 2009. The same deadline applies for essays, articles and artwork for Ulterior: Alternative News. For full details check the submission guidelines at www.inscribed. org

Inscribed ~ A Magazine For Writers is happy to announce the release of April's rtso by Corry Legacy. Corry Legacy grew up in Northern Ontario, and after moving to Southern Ontario, she felt the disconnect from nature that many of us have. Her rtso is a journey through the landscapes of Iceland.

Download the new issues, and all previous issues for free at

To automatically receive your copy of any of Inscribed's magazines when they are released, add them as a podcast through iTunes! All of Inscribed's publications are searchable through iTunes.

If you are a Facebooker, you can also find Inscribed's publication related groups. Many of our contributors are a part of the Inscribed ~ A Magazine For Writers' Facebook group, which gives our readers a chance to get in touch with our authors.

All the best,

Kyle Richtig

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking For A Dead Poet

The Trojan Bore raises a very interesting question: Where is Francisco Balagatas buried? An excerpt from his post:

Where is Francisco Balagtas buried? His grave, it seems to me, is a pilgrimage-worthy site especially given his stature in Philippine literature, but I've never heard it mentioned before, and Google offers almost no clues.

By all indications, Balagtas died on 20 February 1862, at Udyong (now Orion), Bataan, where he had settled down and raised his family sometime in the 1840s. Presumably, he remains buried there. He apparently was involved in local town politics, so he was of sufficient prominence that they would have buried him in a grave of his own. There is a cemetery in Orion, but it is named "Evergreen", so its provenance back to the time of Balagtas is quite doubtful.

Click here to read his entire entry.

Ideas, anyone?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why Secondary Worlds?

Why Secondary Worlds? is a blog entry from The Grin Without A Cat that explores his coming to terms with his love for writing fantasy and science fiction, and how to relate this to his Filipino identity. An excerpt:

Some people may wonder: why secondary worlds? Why write about them? Where is the sense of Filipino identity in such a creation? Pertinent questions, I admit. I can only speak for myself but my growth as a writer has lead me to a few realizations about a form of writing that is mostly Western-based (an accusation thrown against-- rightly, I think-- most Filipino spec fic writers).

When I first started writing, I wrote stories the way I read them: i.e. based on the fantasy genre. From grandpapa J.R.R. Tolkien to his children (Stephen Donaldson, Terry Brooks to Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin), my understanding of writing fantasy stories involved tragic knights, wilfull princesses, and hapless thieves.

Then the criticism by someone near and dear to me made me stop and consider what I write and why I write-- which is not a bad thing to consider every now and then. In this case, the question was: what makes my writing any different? (And I think even then I realized writers hate to be pegged down.)

So I thought about it and I came up with a couple of insights. One is that there is a difference between fantasy and fantastical. The other is that one can develop a Filipino sense in any fantasy story (or horror or SF) even with the most Western of tropes. With these two insights, I started writing again and crafted a number of stories that I felt could stand against criticism in terms of national identity without foregoing the sense of wonder in such stories.

And they were damn fun to write, too.

Nine published stories in, I've now come to another turning point and another insight: as long as you realize that there is such a thing as national identity in your stories, you can now write without regard to it-- if the story calls for it. I mentioned earlier, writers hate getting pegged down and the idea of writing only one type of story-- i.e. the Filipino story-- seems absurd. Why limit myself when I can imagine far bigger things?

Click here to read the whole post.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Story From Twenty Years Ago

It's almost twenty-five years since my high-school graduation. I took a lot of pictures back then, so one of my former classmates asked me to scan and upload all my old pics to share with everyone in our batch. I found a lot of photos in an old shoebox, all of which brought back good memories that made me laugh. I'd like to tell the story of the pic above. It's a personal story I can't help but share here, in the hopes that it'll make you guys laugh too. Given how crazy the world seems to be, a good laugh always helps, methinks.

This is a pic I took of my friends, John, Jonathan, and Eric. We were inside a dark cave which stretched a long way underground and was filled with murky water. We had heard about caves filled with bats in San Miguel, Bulacan, and decided to pay a visit. This photo was taken just before we all stripped down to our underwear and swam into the cave. The water tasted foul, and it was dark, scary, and full of bat guano. Yuck!

While we were swimming, Eric asked, "You think there are fish and other things in the water with us now?"

Of course, after he asked that, we all imagined cold and slimy stuff brushing up against our legs underwater. Eric's such an idiot for having asked a question that we really didn't need to hear.

I also remember John suddenly exclaiming in mid-stroke that he lost a new hammer in the depths. "My hammer! I dropped my hammer!" he said, which led me to ask him, "What the hell were you doing carrying a hammer with you?"

"We might have needed it," he said.

"We're swimming in deep water in a dark cave, and you expected to hammer something? What, you think we're suddenly going to see a nail sticking out of the cave wall and you would need to pound it in? Or did you plan to hang a picture of yourself somewhere in here?"

"It's my Dad's hammer! It's brand new! It's expensive! I've got to find it!"

"You're kidding, right?" Jonathan said. "You're going to dive in there?" The water was deep and unclear, and we weren't sure how far down it went. It could've been ten feet deep, or twenty, or more. Also, who knew what lurked beneath?

John did dive anyway. While he was gone, there were tense moments when the three of us wondered if he would ever resurface. He did, eventually, but he couldn't find the hammer. How could he? He said he couldn't even find the bottom.

Talking about it afterward cracked all of us up except for John, who was out one expensive hammer.

Years and years from now, people will explore this cave and find his new hammer, and wonder how it got there, not knowing the truth: that some nutjob brought a brand new hammer with him while swimming in the dark--for whatever dumb reason--and clumsily dropped it. A future archaeological puzzle, for sure.

These scientists will then mistakenly theorize that some construction might have been attempted inside the cave by human beings of the mid-20th century, and will then proceed to excavate the cave in the hopes of finding and studying further signs of human settlement inside deep dark places during this era. In the process of digging, they will completely destroy this natural wonder. This mistake will also cost these future people money, time, and valuable resources, cause violent arguments between warring factions of scientists and sociologists, and will set back all their research for decades.

We have only my friend, John, to blame.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Good grief. It's 35 degrees Celsius, feels like 40. No wonder it's so hard to get myself up to do anything.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Space Hand


Can this inspire a story, or two, in some of you? :)

Image courtesy of NASA. CNN news article here. An excerpt:

New photographs released by NASA have captured images of a vast stellar formation resembling a human hand reaching across space.

The image, taken by NASA's space-based Chandra Observatory telescope, shows an X-ray nebula 150 light years across.

It shows what appear to be ghostly blue fingers -- thumb and pinky clearly discernible from index, ring and middle digits -- reaching into a sparkling cloud of fiery red.

NASA says the display is caused by a young and powerful pulsar, known by the rather prosaic name of PSR B1509-58.

"The pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star which is spewing energy out into the space around it to create complex and intriguing structures, including one that resembles a large cosmic hand," NASA says.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Post On Library Week

Dear Me writes about National Library Week, April 12-18, 2009. An excerpt:

Here in the Philippines, public libraries are most often neglected not only in terms of books and other reading materials acquisition but also the entire library itself. For a country wherein the government holds education in high value, its public libraries are a great study of contrast.

Although, there are still public libraries that are well-kept by librarians and humanitarians who share their passions to the children of the poor. (I wish that those private and well-maintained libraries managed by private organizations also funnel their resources to these ill-forgotten public libraries. After all, it's for the little generation of this nation.)

I started utilizing our public library when I was already in my university years. It was during my first year of college when I decided to check our public library. Unfortunately, it didn't offer much for the materials I needed for my research were not available. The idea of visiting other city libraries grew on me as I become frustrated in gathering related sources for my research. Some offered little but most often, the information were already obsolete and outdated.

In terms of reading, somehow I agree that both the bookstore and the phenomenon of coffee shops has replaced the library. Here, almost all the bookstores have a reading area where you can not only browse but read the books. When it comes to coffee shops, the place is not only where you drink and savor the aroma of your favorite cafe and chat with friends but it has also evolved as a venue for people to flip the pages of their books and while the time reading and finishing a novel. I am guilty on both counts.

Click here to read the entire entry.

Sunday Inquirer Feature: "A Time For Dragons"

Village Idiot Savant links up to the Sunday Inquirer Feature for "A Time For Dragons". He himself has a story, "A Little Knowledge", in the anthology. Previous posts on "A Time For Dragons" here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Judith Krug, Founder Of Banned Books Week, Dies

Judith Krug, a librarian, a director of the Chicago-based American Library Association, and a founder of its Banned Books Week, has died. She was 69.

Judith Platt, president of the ALA's Freedom to Read Foundation, says Krug (KROOG) died late Saturday at Evanston Hospital in suburban Chicago following a battle with stomach cancer. She says Krug had been ill for more than a year.

She had been head of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom since 1967.

Banned Books Weeks has been observed since 1982 during the last week of September. ALA officials say the event celebrates intellectual freedom.

Update On The Gig Book Storywriting Contest

The new deadline for The Gig Book Storywriting Contest is on May 31, 2009. The previous deadline was on April 9, 2009.

Free E-Books For The Hopeless Romantics And Photoshopped Book Covers

A couple of links from Village Idiot Savant:

This one, Free E-Books For The Hopeless Romantics, he says is "not his cup of tea", but he shares it with those who may like it. Just some extra information: The book covers feature a lot of half-naked men. I don't know if that's just marketing, or this represents the kind of story in the book.

This next link provides photoshopped covers with illustrations interpreting literally the titles of some famous books. So you can imagine what "A Farewell To Arms" or "The Grapes Of Wrath" may look like, though I find the illustration of "The Unbearable Lightness Of Being" to be just a tad mean.

Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day is a single day - the first Saturday in May (this year it's May 2, 2009) - when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free* to anyone who comes into their stores.

Here's the International Store Locator.

*Check with your local shop for their participation and rules.

Rubik's Boob

Your standard Rubik's Cube

The kind I can solve

Holy Mother of God!

Even More Old Stuff

Just sharing these pics I took of some old stuff. You know how my attention's been taking to old stuff lately. :D

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Essay Writing Contest

Here's an essay writing contest for college students 16 years old and older sponsored by Nescafe. Some details:

The essay writing contest is on the topic, "Why coffee is essential to my student life." The essay must be original, not previously published, and between 1000 and 1500 words in English. Entry forms and other details may be downloaded at

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Book Lovers Unite!

MANILA, Philippines - Instituto Cervantes presents Díal del Libro or International Book Day in a three-day event that starts on April 23.

Renowned Argentinean poet Juan Gelman, a Premio Cervantes awardee, will inaugurate the festivities with a poetry recital at Instituto Cervantes’ Salón de Actos.

A Night of Books follows on April 24, featuring music, hip-hop dance performances and film screenings. Instituto Cervantes’ open house and book fair will be held the following day, starting at 10 a.m., wherein visitors can avail of books at very low prices, plus a rose for every purchase. There will be conferences, book presentations, book signings, musical performances, poetry readings, coloring activities for children, and film showings, among other activities.

For information, call 526-1482 and 526-1449, e-mail cenmni(at)cervantes(dot)es, or visit Instituto Cervantes is at 855, T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila.

As read in the April 3, 2009 issue of The Philippine Star.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Words From The Land Of Juan

Here's a link to a new blog: Words From The Land Of Juan, whose authors are Ilia Uy and R.E. de Leon. The subheading is "Filipino Writers...On Writing". It's a pretty fresh blog, with only a few entries so far, but some of you may be interested to read what they have to say.

My thanks to Wandering Star for sending in the link.

"Killing Our Literary Daddies And Mommies"

From An Exercise In Youthful Blasphemy, this post: Better Living Through Xeroxography. He shares his opinions about what he thinks should be done to generate more readers in the Philippines, how the current setup is not effective, and that those who are in charge, those he calls our "Literary Daddies and Mommies", should be put out to pasture. Some excerpts:

I just lived through the first annual Taboan Writers Fest, a three-day mostly national but actually international (made “inter” by the presence of a Vietnamese writer and a Thai filmmaker) summit of writers, mostly under forty years old, set to talk about the various issues that surround the cultivation of one's literary existence in this quite flippity-floppity literary world of luckers and losers and lousy lolo layabouts. I was chosen to talk about one of my major worries, Self-Publishing, and one of my minor preoccupations, Criticism of Speculative Fiction. Those three days were in turns uplifting and exhausting—sometimes both at the same time—like a marathon orgy of what most of us felt as exuberant virility. It was great. “I came five times,” I would’ve said if I was six years younger. This essay is a putting to print some of the things I said in the panels—specifically my thoughts on the Small Independent Press, and why it’s the Future of Philippine Literature.

My general poetics can pretty much be summed up as such: Literary Patricide. From claiming that the Future of Philippine Literature is in the Small Independent Press to proposing for the Obliteration of Genres—pretty much every single thing tossed into these essays—are my various How-To’s on killing our Literary Daddies and Mommies, and yes, these are things that I truly believe in, the rules I’ve lived my literary life by, causes that I truly rally behind: they really have to die various deaths—and by our hands—because really, things need to change, for the better, for the greater whole, as the current state of affairs in literary production is thus: it is intellectually bankrupt, and idiots can only really do idiotic things.

One of the many things our Daddies and Mommies have choke holds on is Publishing, be it as minor as seeking the Silliman Tiempos for approval of having our poems printed on the Philippines Free Press or as major as having Ophelia Dimalanta and Cirilo Bautista police—excuse me, referee—the books we give to the Mainstream Presses. They have been doing this constantly for thirty years now, some even for fifty years, and most of the time the people who did it in the Beginning are still the same people who are doing it Today, all in the name of Setting the Standards when it’s really just to pass on their Literary DNA without regard of what we really want to do in our writing lives. The sadder thing is that most of us have been led to believe that this is the only way to live our writing lives: we’re all brought up to be Mama’s Boys with Daddy Issues, always seeking for Parental Approval (I’m looking straight at you, SpecFickers!!!), dogs being fed yesterday’s table scraps. If this isn’t reason enough for us to rethink the things we have been taught—the things we have been led to believe for so long, now—you should all just stop reading this essay and move on to writing about growing up as a temperamental sensitive misunderstood artiste and calling it creative nonfiction.

The contemporary average Pinoy reader is not Ester in a duster eating crackers by the shower. The contemporary average Pinoy reader is a twenty-something undergrad reading Twilight in the dark, with enough foundation in grammar (in English, at that) to read and understand and be absorbed by a novel-length elaboration of undersexed teenage angst filtered through post-Victorian emo goth vampire horror (after all, market hype can only go as far as making people buy the book; they have to read it, too). If they read and love Bob Ong, they understand the basics of satire, of sarcasm, of parody. The contemporary average Pinoy reader is not an idiot. They just don't know any better, having a limited choice in reading material. What ought to happen is that we stop giving them idiotic things.

We can't expect Mainstream Publishers to change the present condition for us, because the present condition is a condition that benefits their bank accounts. The present condition is a condition that benefits their egos. Mainstream Publishers will publish anything as long as there is money to be earned in it, if it maintains patronage, quality of thought and writing distant second and third concerns.

What we should be focussing on is creating and providing new venues for alternative attitudes in Reading and Writing, creating and providing new venues for ourselves and our “unmarketable” material, for our “unrefereed” efforts. What we should be focussing on is developing and cultivating an audience that will read and understand and actively seek our work. We should stop writing down to Mainstream Publishers’ standards of marketability and literariness and start writing up to raising the quality of available reading material, and the only way to do those things and remain untarnished—remain honest to ourselves and to our art—is to do the publishing ourselves.

But all of these things will only be possible once we make that initial step of deciding it’s okay not to earn big money, if at all, that it’s okay to not have Krip Yuson’s breezy blurby blessings or Marjorie Evasco’s limning reaction paper introductions in our books, if it means we get to have our way, untarnished and honest and true.

The old ideas do not work anymore. The old machines are in the back yard, rusting in the rain. We need to think new thoughts if we want things to change. We need to build new machines. We should all move our parents to retirement homes by the Silliman beach where they can play volleyball in their geriatric pace, if not kill them outright in their drooly siestas. We only owe them as far as we can throw them down an empty well of nostalgia that we often mistake for respect.

Click here to read the whole blog entry.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Holy Week Challenge

Like the Christmas (bah!) season, Holy Week in the Philippines is a time of extended break. Almost all schools and offices are closed during these times, along with many government agencies. In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, I find it worth noting that the calendar dates that mark the birth, death, and resurrection of the Christian deity, Jesus Christ, also coincide with the peak rates and occupancies of beach and mountain resorts. ;-P

So, here's a challenge for the coming Holy Week: Come Easter Sunday, I challenge visitors of this blog to have finished reading one novel. Just one. That's not much, right? Unless it's as thick and as wide as a phone book, most novels can be read in a week of no school or work, probably less. The more avid readers among you can raise the number to two, or even three novels. If you're not in the mood to read a novel, then I offer an alternative: Read between 16-20 short stories. A mid-length anthology contains around that many stories. Go for double the number if you can. There's no excuse for not reading short stories in case you don't have a novel on hand, flimsy as that excuse seems to me (Go to your nearest bookstore! Even a secondhand one!). Many ezines offer their tales for free, and they're not hard to find. Even short stories by local authors aren't hard to find on the web (in fact, if you want to up the challenge, make a good number of the short stories you will read be by Filipino or other Asian authors).

Wherever you will be, whatever you will be doing, whether you'll be up a mountain or by the shore, attending religious services or not, or just bumming in what will surely be a quiet and tranquil Metro Manila, I'm sure you can spare half-an-hour a day reading. Do it first thing in the morning, or do it in bed before going to sleep, or do it anytime inbetween. Let's check the math: Half-an-hour is a fair enough time to finish a couple of short stories. At the end of the week, you would have read about 14 tales. So all you'll have to do is find an extra half-hour during this week away from school and work to read an extra two stories. Tada! 16 stories read, the minimum I'm asking.

Now here's a further challenge: Make a relative or friend join you in reading a book, too. Heck, bring more than one person along for the ride. Of course, the goal is for you and those you know to continue reading even after Holy Week is over.

In the interest of full disclosure, I plan to read the anthology A Time For Dragons, and a mystery, Valley Of The Shadow by Peter Tremayne. I may even get to a third book, one which I haven't decided on yet. (It being Holy Week, the chances are also big that I will end up watching Monty Python's Life Of Brian ;-P).

Drop a comment here to let everyone know what you plan to read! I'm sure that by Easter, you would have found the time with your nose in a book well spent.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Startup Online Bookshop

From my email inbox:

I'm just starting an online book shop, majority of the books that I carry are from bestselling authors like Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho. I'm exploring more authors and genre so I will be adding more to my lists.

Anyway, the site is not just all about selling books but also features on authors, collection of quotes, book excerpts and more.

The books I sell are majority trade paperbacks and hardcover, though I also like to include some mass-market paperbacks and bargain books. I accept pre-orders especially books that are not available in the Philippines and also rare books like food writing books. My short stint in working at FOOD magazine made me discover that we lack guides on food and recipe writing which made me decide to carry books that will help fellow writers out there.

If you have more suggestions please feel free to email me or visit:
http://lilyjane2009 .multiply. com.

Two Calls For Submissions, And A Cause

Horror writer J.W. Schnarr has a call for submissions for the Shadows Of The Emerald City anthology. Details here.

Weird Tales is open to a new flash-narrative format: One-Minute Weird Tales. Details, and a sample, here.

And the cause: Save The Semiprozine Hugo.