Monday, May 12, 2014

Home is where the books are.

For booknuts like me, the closest thing to home is a place that is also home to books…especially if they’re pre-loved. This is why I didn’t hesitate to go when my friend MJ invited me to two such places in Quezon City one Saturday afternoon. :)

Bookay-ukay

Bearing a name that is a pun on the Filipino word for thrift store (“ukay-ukay”) this miniscule bookshop in the Maginhawa Street, UP Village is a piece of heaven for bookworms.

Bookay-ukay

Shelves

Bookay-Ukay houses an impressive arsenal of cheap reads and hard-to-find titles, both pre-loved and brand new. Being a perfect Happy Hunting Lit Ground, it’s understandable that the whole place will look like a horror house for folks with an OCD-ish tendency to treat books like precious babies—for people who delight in seeing paperbacks in their proper shelf spaces, neat and all spines out (for people like me, basically).

But I guess it’s part of the shop’s charm. I imagine regulars rummaging through the shelves to find a book with a title, back-cover excerpt, or even cover art that will strike a chord with them. When they do find it here—I call it literary serendipity—they’d be too happy that they’d somehow forget to set the books around their newfound treasure upright again.  :) Ah, the footprints of a book-hunt!

cyclist stops by

The bookmarks

Staying for a few more minutes made me wish I live nearer the place so I can visit as often as I want, without having to go through a migraine-inducing commute because of the heat and hassle. Aside from books, the shop also sells CDs of underground music artists and various photographed and hand-painted/drawn bookmarks, which range from cute to creepy. :)

stt

I didn’t get to buy books from there, as part of my pledge to NOT spend money for new titles as long as I still have a towering TBR novel stack at home (needless to say I’m proud of my self-control). Anyway, it won’t be the last time I’ll visit Bookay-Ukay. I’ll go here again sometime soon, hopefully after I’ve devoured at least half my “unreads”.


Cool Beans Cafe

A few minutes’ walk from Bookay-Ukay is the small but cozy Cool Beans Cafe.

There’s a  friendly sign on the door saying “Please wipe your shoes before entering :)”, which reminded me of one of my grandma’s little commandments involving her immaculate white floor and all the kids in the house with mud-caked feet.  If that doesn’t scream home (and nostalgia!), I don’t know what does.

interior

Cool Beans

Cool Beans’ mini-library shelters almost all lit genres you can think of: there are  history books, biographies, magazines, comics, art books, photography books, poetry, essay anthologies, novels (Haruki Murakami! Arundhati Roy! Neil Gaiman!), and even a bunch of self-help titles.

Its library-esque silence is only broken by relaxing music, the soft chitchats of its patrons, or someone’s drink being called out to them. And to my initial bafflement, the picture frames on the walls contain either nothing or just the filler paper indicating the frames’ sizes in inches and centimeters. Later on I thought it’s because they are maintaining that “soft launch” feel they were still bannering outside the cafe.

Cool Beans

pastries

Aside from their Highland coffees and frappes, they also sell pastries. MJ and I only get to try their red velvet cupcake, which admittedly wasn’t the best we’ve tasted. But hey, with a price like that, who’s complaining?

carbonara

Always on the prowl for the best pasta recipe around, I also tried out their Cheesy Mushroom Carbonara. For Php150’s the gigantic serving is enough for two. It’s quite tasty, too. :)

find

We sat there ‘til the sun set, just browsing through books and talking. The ambiance will make you stay for hours!

When it’s time to leave, I swore that I have to find more of cafes like this. :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Review: Running with Scissors

Review: Running with Scissors
Author: Augusten Burroughs
Genre: Humor, Memoir
My Rating: ★★★ (3 of 5 stars)

Running with Scissors

Everyone has probably tried attaching punch line-hugging ends to the ‘when life gives you lemons’ proverb; I’ve heard phrases that are as hip as those involving tequilas and the beginning of a citrus monopoly. But I haven’t heard or seen anyone did it like Augusten Burroughs. Life has practically cannonaded him with thousands of lemons in his childhood and instead of feeling miserable about it, he used all the fruits to write his bestselling memoir, Running with Scissors.

The book follows a big slice of Burroughs’ childhood life. He was only a little boy when his parents—a manic-depressive poet mom with Anne Sexton delusions and a professor dad with "the loving, affectionate and outgoing personality of petrified wood"—divorced. His mom gives him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who is a dead ringer for Santa Claus: Haven’t Bathed in Weeks edition. Burroughs then  befriends the doc’s abrasive children, starts a relationship with a thirtysomething pedophile residing in the backyard shed, and slowly accepts that playing with electroshock therapy machine when things get dull, or substituting dog food for popcorns, or even consuming Valium like candies, are normal…as long as he lives in the midst of this Victorian squalor. But this is one thing he is 101% sure of: when you inherit a family as dysfunctional as the Finches, you’d know you’d just jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

I was full of head-shakes, of smirks and snorts, of this-couldn’t-be-real’s, and of oh-my-god’s (in varying intonations) while reading the book. From the reactions Running with Scissors elicited from me, you’d know that Burroughs is a man of talent. I turn the pages and see his ‘70s to ‘80s life unfold in full color. I like how his style of storytelling balances between complete wack and sheer cynicalness. Aside from being mostly hilarious, his darkish tales are effective in a way that it makes his readers yearn for a life that is—in his own words—“fabric-softener, tuna-salad-on-white, PTA-meeting normal”.

But one does not need rocket science to know that behind all the gags and sarcasm, it’s not as funny as it sounds—a sad Burroughs must be somewhere beneath all the kookiness. Sure, there are stuff  that can be a real barrel of laughs at one point (scatological fortune-telling, anyone?), but on the other side of the scale there’s staging a suicide attempt to avoid school (supported eagerly by Dr.Finch), being sexually abused, the fact that you’re having guardians that cannot guide or guard you in life at all, among other things. It’s awesome that Burroughs can joke about the whole thing David Sedaris-style, but something tells me it would have been more honest if there’s a little poignancy thrown in there somewhere. He’s a bloody kid! I’m all for positivity, but no one is that positive; too much cynicalness for a situation comedy-like effect sometimes takes away all the humanity from a character.

Speaking of lack of humanity, that is my main beef too with the supporting characters. The author failed to sculpt them into something the readers can feel as real people, and I’m not even talking about their colorful craziness. They’ve become hackneyed paperboard-cutouts in a sitcom-ish set of tales.

Towards the end the book becomes more disjointed, the anecdote-chapters reading like standalone vignettes. It’s only on the page before the epilogue that Burroughs made an attempt at sentimentality, about how taking risks to reach his dreams is like running with scissors (or something to that effect). It was quietly hopeful, but the buildup to the moment was shabbily constructed that there wasn’t a big impact at all.

It was still a good read, although I’m having second thoughts about reading its sequel, Dry.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Ransom Hug!

Last April 26, the National Book Store (NBS) held a book-signing event for bestselling authors Ransom Riggs, Tahereh Mafi, and Veronica Rossi. Admittedly I haven’t read anything by Mafi or Rossi; I only went to the event for Riggs, having read his Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

waiting Kit’s and my books and our signing passes.

Ransom Riggs stageKindly excuse the goofy smiles, I’m starstruck!

I got a minutes-long interaction with Riggs after he put "pen scratches"—his words, not mine—on my copy of Hollow City (Miss Peregine Book 2). He also saw how big of a nervous booknut I am when I get starstruck. My meet-and-greet moment went like this:
STAFF: (Joking after hearing how an oldish fangirl before us screamed an I LOVE YOU to Ransom) These people need to remember the guy's married.
ME: (laughs) And his wife's here, too.
RANSOM: (overhears our exchange and looks up from signing the books, smiling) What is it about my wife?
ME: (gets instant cold feet)
RANSOM: Hello, how are you?
ME: ......
RANSOM: (smiles)
ME: .......
RANSOM: (smiles some more)
ME: (covers face) Oh my god, sorry! Oh my god, oh my god.
RANSOM: (laughs good-naturedly and motions me to come closer, then points at the camera) Let's keep it together for the picture, then after that we can fall apart.
ME: (realizes that I wasn't looking at him when he's giving me the Keep Calm coaching, but flashes what I wish was a decent smile anyway)
And then we hugged. THAT SECONDS-LONG HUG MADE THE ALMOST TEN HOURS OF WAIT WORTH IT.

signed

All right, that hug and these pen scratches. :)

Here’s to hoping other authors I like would come to the Philippines! They’re like the country’s nerd population’s rock stars, I know they wouldn’t regret coming here.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review: A Long Way Down

Review: A Long Way Down
Author: Nick Hornby
Genre: Humor, Contemporary
My Rating: ★★★ (3 of 5 stars)

ALWD Photo by Andy Diluvian

At every tail-end of a published book about suicide—or an attempt to commit it—is a potential for controversy. Authors know that; the bravest ones refuse to pull punches and went on telling their stories the way they know how, steeling themselves for the future salvo of questions and accusations. They are willing to risk being pulled out of shelves later if it meant they would get their tales told first.

Nick Hornby emerged as one of these writers, but of an unconventional kind. In his book A Long Way Down, he relays the accounts of not only one, not even two, but four people about to commit suicide. And he finds that the best way to decline treading on eggshells for anyone is to shower his book with a dry, black humor.

A Long Way Down follows the story of four strangers who met atop a London building and ended up foiling each other’s plans to plunge to their own deaths. They are Martin, an ex-TV presenter who has “pissed away his life away” by sleeping with a minor; Maureen, a fraught single mother taking care of her disabled child; Jess, a stroppy teenager who was left by her boyfriend (and sister); and JJ, an ex-rock god who feels like a failure-on-two-shoes. They “postponed” their plans after a few heated arguments and some cold pizza slices. But would their unlikely alliance be reason enough to stop them from retrying to take their own lives?
Unless you are someone who gets fascinated by hearing other people’s tales of personal anguish, this book’s gist didn’t sound appealing at all. But Hornby’s deft hands made it so that his story would work, and it did nicely, with a number of brilliant, unforgettable moments in it.

The thing I liked the best in this book is how Hornby executed his fourfold delineation of the characters’ voices. The narrators are so different in a way that not even some misery-loves-company magic would be able to bind them together. Hornby spoke effectively through their mouths like they’re honest, live people—so real-like, in fact, that they did not click easily together as friends even after meeting the way they did. Hornby didn’t detour to the formulaic “we’re going to be friends and everything is going to be all right” road, because he did not intend the novel to become a self-possessed echo of a self-help book.  Even though he can pull these people together to sew up some semblance of miraculous hope, he did not, and just let them be their own individuals. 

JJ is an instant favorite of mine. It’s not only because his issues are very relatable (they hit so close to home at the time I read the book) but also because he’s four-dimensionally human enough to feel shame about how “shallow” his problems are compared to others’.  He’s so embarrassed that he fabricated an incurable disease from the initials of his favorite band as his reason to commit suicide. Does being a failure in something you consider your “everything” equate to your life suddenly becoming disposable? Does it really mean it’s the end? Does it mean you can’t start again? The fact that Hornby didn’t need cheese to touch this issue is laudable.

It is quite noticeable how the story didn’t dig too deep about the common issues surrounding suicide, like how the usual novel about it would. What Hornby tackled is more about lifestyles and the human condition.
The storyline is as non-linear as it could get with four different people telling it. The common things your book report format will ask you for will not be easy to find, so if you are looking for a fast-paced story with clear climaxes and resolutions, this book will be a difficult read. 

I myself would admit that I had a hard time with some parts I call the “troughs streak” because they didn’t seem to get anywhere for a long while. The story then just seemed to drag, and when it happens you sometimes get tired to care about the characters, even if you like them well in the beginning. Your interest just starts waning. Fortunately, the streak did break at some point and I began enjoying the rest of the story again, until the (open) end.

For the record, the book has been translated into the big screen and the movie’s currently showing in cinemas. I don’t know how to feel about the “major recalibrations” they’ve obviously done to the source material (thanks, trailer), but I won’t react yet since I haven’t seen the whole picture yet. :)

Britophile’d: The Great British Festival

Crowds of smitten-by-Britain hearts—including mine and my friend Jo’s—managed to get a little taste of London-esque cloud nine during The Great British Festival at the Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City last March 8.

The festival consisted of trade fairs, a pop-up theatre troupe, musical performances of British-inspired local bands, fashion shows, cultural dances, sports lessons, and a Cinema at the Park. It ran for three days (March 7-9) and I attended for only one, but the stuff (both free and purse-emptying), the memories, and the nuggets of wisdom I pocketed home are more than enough! Here are bits and pieces of  my Very British Saturday:

Mini Ben

Mahomet can’t come to the mountain so the British embassy brought the mountain to Mahomet: UK in Miniature! (I’ll word my own proverbs, thank you very much.) The default response for miniature exhibits, of course, is a long queue of festival-goers waiting for their turn to take selfies. Here’s my first photo-op with the Big Mini Ben. Technically it’s part of a sponsor’s stall and not of the exhibit, but we like to pretend. :p


x

If there’s a legit UK Tourist Photo-Op Commandments booklet in existence (I mean come on, books more ridiculous than this get published everyday), I won’t be surprised if one of its top items would be: “Thou shalt not miss a chance to take your picture with/in the iconic red phone box.” Let’s just say I’m “obedient”. Special thanks to Lee Cooper for this cute kiosk, since it’s the only one in the festival than can be opened. People never left the area until the storeowners put a chain around it at the end of the day.

I sort of wished there’d been a TARDIS though.


I didn't break the balcony!
Anyway, we hopped to another area and saw this…part of the Balmoral Castle. I think it’s better if they brought the whole thing and not just the clock tower, but hey, the event’s free. I should stop throwing my beefs around. But I’d just like to say I didn’t break the styrofoam balcony railings there…


Jozilla Firefox
…Jo probably did. I kid, I kid! But I’m still calling this picture “Jo-zilla” because it’s cute and perfect.


TALL HOBBITS


with Apple

Then off we went to pseudo-Wiltshire, England, Taguig, to the Hobbits’ version of the Stonehenge. I was surprised to bump into Apple, one of the former interns of the magazine I worked for last year. We chitchatted for a while and I introduced her to Jo before doing what we should be doing there, which was to take pictures. Written on that paper she was holding was “Happy Now?”, a reference to Danny Wallace’s book called Yes Man. I’m happy to see her well, and I’m secretly thankful she made an unintentional book recommendation to me with that sign. :)

Tea-licious

And then we came to my favorite stall. Everyone knows any British event is not British enough if it doesn’t have tea…also known as the reason why 3/4 the contents of my wallet vanished into thin air that day. The Twinings booth was replete with everything that could bring a smile to my face. At first I was eyeing the phone box canister you can acquire by buying two flavors, but I spotted a very classy caddie that I instantly fell in love with. Without any second thoughts, I bought it along with a box of Earl Grey and of  Apple + Cinnamon + Raisins tea. Jo on Sunday got herself the canister, along with boxes of White Tea and Strawberry + Mango tea.

Drinking iced tea from our paper cups, we strolled on the cobbled streets and stopped on booths that interested us. One of these is the Chevening Scholarship stall at the Education Pavilion.


BritSchool

It is no secret that I, Jo, and Kit (who unfortunately couldn’t join us because she had to be in Cebu for a cousin’s wedding), plan on going to UK to study. Miss Anna, the scholarships and digital diplomacy officer manning the booth, invited us to sit with a scholar to talk about what it is really like to experience UK education under their scholarship. And so we chatted with Sir Alex, a lawyer and a Chevening alumni.
Remember the “nuggets of wisdom” part I mentioned at the beginning of this entry? I wasn’t just talking about useless trivia and whatnot. I’m talking about eye-opening truths, about things that can make us realize it’s okay to slow down if ever we’re zipping by lightning-fast with our lives.

This deserves an entry of its own but in a nutshell, Sir Alex told us there’s no need to hurry. He said we’re young ; we have lots of years to do what we need to get where want to. The thing with this scholarship or with any masteral degree class is that you have to have something that can make you stand out. We have to build up, to fatten up our portfolios. The Chevening grant is usually given to those who have proven something, like people who have already published books or created a good documentary or film. Needless to say, it is common for students to have bunches of rewards and titles under their belts before they grow the cojones to apply. He reiterated that timing is everything. He didn’t put it into words, but I know he was not in favor of our decision to apply as soon as possible.

I’ll save more of my thoughts on this for another post, but I’ll say we’ve dropped the speed meter a few notches now, focusing on what he advised us.

“Chevening’s going to be here forever,” he even quipped. “No need to hurry.”


cinema at the park

After the sobering talk, we went to the Cinema at the Park and watched what was left of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone movie when we slumped on the grass.  We munched on the meatpies Mrs.Lovett Miss Anna has given us, trading a few inevitable remarks about our chat with Sir Alex.

Pop-up Theatre with Mini Kit

The sun was setting when we caught up with the pop-up theatre troupe…after they have performed their skit. Lucky us, eh? I only managed to snap a picture of this scene, where the cast fawned over a cute kid that looked a lot like Kit (peace! But it’s the truth!). Jo told me she got to watch their skit the next day. It’s a a part of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and that’s Claudio, Hero, Benedick, and Beatrice.


Nessy and the Humans

Nessy, of course, was there too. We know we wouldn’t win against the kids, but Jo still tried to take photo with the lovable monster. She did get one, but…

camshy
…yeah. Nessy’s camera-shy. :)

Rolls Royce-horz

Mini Pacman

And then we have these cars. If they’re not what you call ultra-sexy I don’t know what is. Can you see that? The Jaguar? That freaking Rolls Royce? They’re so hot they inspire our inner wacky criminals, as I and Joanna joked we’d hotwire them if we could. :p

F1 Simulation

Speaking of cars, they’ve got an F1 simulator too. There’s a long queue on Saturday night; Jo had signed up then, but since the stall’s going to close at 8:00PM, we decided that she take her turn on Sunday instead. It looked fun!

soccer02

Near the miniature Tower Bridge at the entrance, there’s a small “arena” built for the sports enthusiasts at the event. Philippine Azkals players Phil and James Younghusband held Football drills Saturday morning while the Philippine Volcanoes held Rugby drills Sunday morning.

02
look up at the moon
We ate at Slappycakes, SM Aura and went back to the event to take a few more photos. Aside from getting chummy-ish with a Big(ger) Ben, we also found our gateway to Gaiman’s London Below! MIND THE GAP, bubs! As for that Buckingham one, I know I just have to include it. They’re so adorable, looking up and wondering about the moon like that!. :)

For a few more minutes we stayed to listen to the band She’s Only Sixteen before taking off to catch the bus going to Buendia. It was an exhausting but fun day, and both of us are already stoked for the next festival—which we’re praying they will still hold in 2015.

__
Jo will be posting her three-day British experience at her blog: discordantadventures.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On My (Oz-sessed) Radar: Dorothy Must Die

There can never be too many back stories, dark-themed retellings, or complex revisionist reboots of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

At least to me. Admittedly I’m still reeling from a post-Wicked: The Musical hangover, and I can’t help but scour the ‘Net for spin-offs or books that the L. F. Baum classic spawned. Minus the rest of  Gregory Maguire’s Wicked Years books that I haven’t picked up yet, I’ve found a new series that I found interesting:


Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Dorothy Must Die
by Danielle Paige

“…Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas…”
 
_______


No Place Like OzNoPlaceLikeOz
by Danielle Page, Dorothy Must Die 0.5

Dorothy clicked her heels three times and returned to Kansas. The end . . . or was it? Although she's happy to be home with Aunt Em, Dorothy has regretted her decision to leave Oz ever since. So when a mysterious gift arrives at her doorstep on her sixteenth birthday, Dorothy jumps at the chance to return to the glittering city that made her a star.

Setting off for the Emerald City, Dorothy is eager to be reunited with her friends: the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. But she soon discovers that in the time she's been gone, Oz has changed—and Dorothy has, too. This time, the yellow brick road leads her down a very different path. And before her journey is through, Dorothy will find that the line between wicked and good has become so blurred she's not sure which side of it she's on.
_______

Dorothy Must Die is released this April while No Place Like Oz, its digital prequel, is available online.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The ‘Wickedest’ Night There Ever Was

A chance to tick off an item in your bucket list is guaranteed to transform one ordinary day into a string of spectacular moments. That’s pretty much what I and my other Oz-sessed friends felt about February 16, as it ended our almost seven-year wait to see the megamusical Wicked.

We didn’t book a flight to New York (or get a tornado ride that requires witch casualties as unofficial entrance and exit fees), but having the Cultural Center of the Philippines as the musical’s home here didn’t diminish the magic of that night. Those couple of hours still proved that over-the-rainbow dreams of Kansas farm girls aren’t the only ones that come true. :)

Wicked Airiz Almost didn’t want to click my heels thrice after the musical.
Photo by Kit Andaya

One short night in the Emerald City


As [semi-broke] students in 2007, we could only hitch “free rides” to Oz via torrents and YouTube. We were okay with bootlegs; it was through them that we got our first glimpse of the musical adaptation of Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. We busied ourselves knowing the songs, checking out the source materials, and admiring the beauty of Broadway productions in general.

emeraldcity185  
The original Broadway cast performing “One Short Day”

I think the main reason I love Wicked is that I’m nuts about retellings and revisionist takes on classics. There are major flops in the genre now, but my pop culture meter is saying bedtime story revisionism is still the new black: we’ve got a Cinderella sci-fi’ed into a foot-less cyborg, an Alice who slaughtered a Wonderland behemoth, and even a Sleeping Beauty in a BDSM camp (I’m serious! Look up Anne Rice’s SB trilogy).

And then there’s Wicked. It reveals the “untold” story of the Witch of the West from L. F. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, through Gregory Maguire’s revisionist Wicked Years series. The tale comes to life onstage with the  music and lyrics of Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. We have always dreamed to see Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth play Elphaba and Glinda respectively, but I have to say Jemma Rix’s and Suzie Mathers’ performances were also nothing short of sterling.

 Wicked Popular 
Jemma Rix (Elphaba)  and Suzie Mathers (Glinda) in “Popular”
Photo courtesy of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions

Fiyero-WICKED Steve Danielsen (Fiyero) in “Dancing Through Life”.  Photo by Chriselle Fajardo.

We were reduced to gushes, goose bumps, and guffaws the moment the show started. The main twosome was great, but they weren’t the only ones that shone. Jay Laga’aia was spot-on as the Wizard as he was able to show both the character’s insatiable desire for power and paternal soul. The talented (and really cute!) Steve Danielsen also gave a first-rate portrayal of the charming rogue Fiyero, proving that he’s indeed a stage force to be reckoned with.

Even if we know  every lyric in the musical by heart, we didn’t sing along with all the songs. In particular, I kept quiet when Rix belted out the powerful “Defying Gravity” and “No Good Deed”, when the  lead twosome cast their spells on their own renditions of “I’m Not that Girl”, and when they eased into the bittersweet “For Good”. I’ve listened to these songs and pretended I’m part of the production countless times in the past. When I had the real thing in front of me, I decided to relish every unadulterated moment of it.

It was during “For Good” that we, along with a few others in the audience, shed tears.  We couldn’t help it—the song was suspended between being so sweet and so sad that all our hearts could do is cave in.

Staying calm and steady seemed to be impossible in our seats. We’re a stew of emotions then, and we could still feel the indescribable level of happiness we were wrapped in even after the curtains have closed (Danielsen was bloody adorable during that part by the way, waving nonstop at the audience while chasing the shrinking space beneath the lowering curtains). In the end, we gave the musical the roaring applause and standing ovation it deserved.


Like a handprint on our hearts


We lingered around CCP to bask in that post-theatre bliss. We took photos, raved, sang our favorite parts, and basically just talked about how incredible that night was. We could’ve stayed out and fangirl’d about it the whole night, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s Monday the day after and we have to go back to our respective jobs.

Wicked Trio
AUS 


But before we went home, we got magnetized by the pocket-draining albeit amazing merchandise area just outside the theatre. Props to the team, even the wooden stalls there were carved with cogwheel drawings that hint of the Clock of the Time Dragon in the musical!

With our original plans to buy the playbills all but discarded (I mean come on, somewhere out there they don’t sell these at 500 bucks), we went to the merch stalls to buy some posters. Well, what can I say? We were so weak against temptations and ended up a few bucks lighter than we planned, going home with posters and mugs!

The best thing about it is it’s worth it. It would’ve meant a lot, though, if we were able to get the posters signed. Someday, someday…

Wicked Merch Wicked Merch. Photo by Chriselle Fajardo.

Wicked MUGMy new favorite mug. :)

Going home that night was almost a pain; the three of us wanted to prolong the happiness we were experiencing as long as we could. But alas, sometimes our Cinderella time bomb runs out of seconds and we have to resurface to our realities. Be that as it may, as we go back there bringing a new chunk of a dream come true. That’s enough for the moment.

Next time, we’ll going to watch this thing in Broadway. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: Love & Misadventure

Author: Lang Leav
Genre: Poetry, prose; romance
My Rating: ★★ (2/5 stars)

Love & Mis

Hordes of fans loved this anthology. I, on the other hand, had a few misadventures with it.

Before you label me as “heartless” or throw rage-fueled insults my way, hear me out first. You might misconstrue my statement as something ultra-negative when it’s actually not.

See, Leav's poems are replete with heartbreak, tears, happiness, romantic bliss, and... well, the inevitable cheese. You write about this four-letter word, you more or less get this package. It’s a favorite topic among poets, or any kind of writer for that matter. They all have the ideas,  the emotions, and they seek ways to string out the words that may best translate their heartbeats. Leav chose to express herself in a way that resonates with hundreds of young people across the info superhighway. That’s not a bad thing. In fact,  it’s good when a writer establishes direct connection with his or her audience—more so if the poetry can compel the said readers to take snapshots of the pages and put them up on their blogs! That speaks volumes.

I guess it still all boils down to preferences. There are two pieces in the anthology that I like/love (guess what—they’re prose); the rest I found too juvenile and shallow. Leav’s writings are like stenos of her raw memories and thoughts, almost akin to free-writing, if we’re going to take into account some of the phrasings that come off awkward and/or a tad senseless. Case in point: “He makes me turn, he makes me toss; his words mean mine are at a loss. He makes me blush! He makes me want to brush and floss.”  I mean, it’s either my assessment is correct, or there really is something romantic about a guy that inspires me to maintain dental hygiene.

I am fond of good love stories and I don’t care if they’re told in thousand-page epics or four-line poems. It’s the matter of style and execution that makes all the difference. What I’m saying is, Leav has her own brand of poetry, and it doesn’t exactly strike a chord with me.

If there’s anything I adored 100% about the book, it’s the whimsical artwork. Dang, Leav can draw. Her dreamlike illustrations are reminiscent of Mark Ryden’s breathtaking creations. If she has a compilation of her art, I’d be quick to buy it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Honest books…

honest book

The best kind of books are those that are honest. Their love is borne verbatim from their author's parental affections: word by word, they expose their very being for their beholder's mind and heart.

Their honesty can become so contagious that you, the reader, gradually opens your heart to their pages. You shed a tear or two when the characters' pain blooms; you laugh when they can't contain the bliss in their chests. Their words send your pulse rushing, dragging you with the charging plot.

The reading experience becomes more personal this way. You and the books clandestinely share a piece of your souls to each other, and more often than not, the intimacy lingers even after the you have turned the last page.

The best kind of books are those that are honest; the best kind of books are those that are alive.


Good news for the Gaimaniacs

Most Neil Gaiman fans must have already heard of the volley of good news about our literary rock star’s works these past few days, but here are  a handful of links for those who’ve gone MIA on the net:

Neil GaimanPhoto by Kimberly Butler at Parnassus.
  • The Sandman graphic novel series is going to get the big screen treatment! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is involved, but whether he's going to star, or direct, or both is not yet disclosed. (My two cents? I love JGL, and although he's no doubt a dreamboat, I kind of don't see him wearing the self-obsessed, broody role of the dream lord Morpheus.) Read more here.
  • American Gods will be adapted into a TV series, but no longer as an HBO exclusive. Read more here.
  • Anansi Boys will also be translated into the small screen by BBC. Read more here.
  • The Graveyard Book’s two-volume graphic novel adaptations will be released by HarperCollins this July and September. Read more here.