Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Monday, January 26, 2004

trivia and testosterone
Just last week, a couple of my wonderfully well-meaning male friends were (a) congratulating me on making my trivia questions less Google-friendly, and (b) being protective on my behalf that some people might 'stoop' to using Google to get the answers to my questions. I found this pretty funny, because dudes! That is just so, you know, guy-like of you. For the record, I don't mind if people use search engines to find out the answers to the trivia quiz. In fact, I'm glad, because that way they potentially learn more than I can generally manage to fit in per post. After all, the point of my quiz is not to stump people with quixotic queries; it's all about learning and sharing interesting and obscure information. Honestly... men!

"Poor but perfect"...
... is how Buttercup described her love Westley in The Princess Bride. (Read the book; it's as fun as the movie.) It's also how I will be after I sign up for membership at Gold's Gym this afternoon. The price of fitness is daunting, but it will be worth it when I'm able to wear a tankini without shame, and when I've learned to kickbox. After all, I have to have something to be able to offer Miranda Zero when Global Frequency does come a-calling!

Where did the brassiere come from?

answer to yesterday's question
'Fesnyng' is the proper word for a group of ferrets. Other unusual group designations include: a shrewdness of apes, a sleuth of bears, a grist of bees, a clowder of cats, a quiver of cobras, a kine of cows, a float of crocodiles, a cowardice of curs, a skulk of foxes, a smack of jellyfish, a kindle of kittens, an exaltation of larks, a rhumba of rattlesnakes, a lamentation of swans, and a geek of fanboys. Okay, I made that last one up.
Nikki bit in at 12:21 PM :: ::
Sunday, January 25, 2004

It seems to be my year for going to amusement parks. It started with Pamaskong Pasiklab in early January; and yesterday, my guys and I celebrated Vin's and Carl's birthdays at Enchanted Kingdom, where we had an absolute blast. I was particularly 'enchanted' with Camy-- finally another female who actually enjoys this kind of thing!-- and Andrew, my thrillseeking partner in crime. This October, Dean, Sage, and I will be visiting my mom in Florida; and the only reason I'm glad she moved there is that Disneyland, Epcot Center, and Universal await. Woohoo!

out in the weird world
A man in the U.K. is currently being treated in the hospital after being run over by a milk truck driven by a dog. The dog, a black Labrador named Monty, is thought to have been sitting in the cab of the milk truck parked by his owner, a driver for Morton's Dairies. Apparently, Monty managed to hit the vehicle's accelerator, running over the unfortunate victim before being stopped by a convenient lamp post. Monty himself suffered injuries to his paw during the accident and was taken to the vet, where he presumably declined to comment.

What does the word 'fesnyng' mean?

answer to Friday's question
James 'Jim' Brown was the author of a bird-watching book that happened to be on the reading list of writer Ian Fleming when he was still crafting his yet-unnamed British secret agent in Jamaica. Fleming chose the name for his character because it struck him as "brief, unromantic, and yet very masculine". Jim Brown himself did not know about the use of his name until the early 1960s, by which time a number of Bond books had already been published. When Bond's wife jokingly threatened to sue Fleming for defamation of character, Fleming replied, "I must confess that your husband has every reason to sue me... In return, I can only offer your James Bond unlimited use of the name 'Ian Fleming' for any purpose he may think fit."
Nikki bit in at 9:29 PM :: ::
Friday, January 23, 2004

Thanks to Jason's recommendation, I've become a fan of those Oishi Natural potato chips. As I was scarfing a big bag of the stuff down yesterday over a good book (which is fairly close to my idea of heaven, by the way), I noticed a little indication on the back that reads, "size: PFL". Which of course made me wonder what 'PFL' means. Could it actually stand for 'Pretty Fuckin Large'?

out in the weird world
Seven months ago, an Englishman named Stephen Gough set out on a 900-mile trek across the United Kingdom, determined to finish the journey as he began it-- stark naked. Gough, 44, decided to undertake the au naturel excursion "as a human rights protest to celebrate the human form, and to try and convince the public to stop being paranoid about the naked body". Over the course of his trek, Gough has been arrested numerous times, made several court appearances, and served two jail sentences. He reached the end of his journey yesterday, clad only in socks, walking boots, and a khaki fisherman's hat.

Who was superspy James Bond named after?

answer to yesterday's question
The Pinatubo chicken is a mutant crossbreed genetically engineered from a native Philippine hen and a French rooster. It's supposed to be a 'superchicken' because it can grow to a weight of six kilos after being fed on nothing but grass for as little as six months. Even more super is the fact that Pinatubo roosters can mate with an average of ten hens in a single day. What's mildly alarming, however, is that these chickens are carnivorous (!); their eggs have to be hatched in an incubator because the adults have a distressing tendency to eat their own young.
Nikki bit in at 2:04 PM :: ::
Thursday, January 22, 2004

chocolate and chestnuts
Every now and then, Sage asks for some of my chocolate. Now, you have to understand, these chocolates are sent by my mother all the way from Florida. They come 12 to a box, and I hoard them the way dragons hoard gold (except, you know, I don't lie on them, I eat them). The thing is, Sage is not even a big chocolate fan; she just wants them because I eat them. And I know that if I give her one, she'll just take a bite or two, get saliva and her sticky fingers all over it, then stick it back in the box, all mushy and partially chewed.

When I was little, my mom liked roasted chestnuts. Being part Spanish, she called them castanas; and she would buy them by the bag and sit blissfully cracking shells and creating a pile to eat when she was done. I, of course, would snitch nuts out of her pile and eat them, because I was too lazy to open the shells myself. I would also pick out only the small, sweet ones, leaving the big, bland ones for Mom, and occasionally putting a bitten chestnut back when I discovered that it wasn't fully cooked. And it wasn't just chestnuts! I'd nibble on chocolates out of sampler boxes, putting back everything but the caramels, mints, raspberry and lemon creams; and I would lick all the filling off of Oreos, too.

Yet even though she knew about all this terrible behavior, my mom never really called me on it; and she would let me eat all the good castanas; and she would always, always share. I guess that's what separates the mommies from the babies. And I guess, what goes around comes around!

What is the freaky Filipino mutant chicken?

answer to yesterday's question
San Antonio Abad (Saint Anthony the Abbot) is the secondary patron saint of Paete (the other being St. Anne, Jesus' grandma). He was born in Egypt in the year 251, lived to be a 105, and has a chapel called the 'Ermita' (which means hermitage, in reference to his self-imposed solitude in the desert) dedicated to him in Paete. Legend has it that, during a great conflagration in Paete, someone snuck into the Ermita, swiped Saint Anthony's statue, and bathed it in the river. Rain promptly fell from the heavens, extinguishing the fire. San Antonio is also the saint who receives supplications regarding the health of pigs. (?!)

Holy God, my friends are smart! Congratulations to El, for knowing everything except the bit about pigs, and Drew, for knowing the fire legend. Brownie points to Dean, for his inaccurate but very funny answer!
Nikki bit in at 2:15 PM :: ::
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

my goodness
Since joining BlogSnob, my number of hits has jumped by almost 50%! It just goes to show you that, in nearly all endeavors, the actual quality of your product is not as important as good advertising. Ha!

my badness
A rabbi has invented a prayer designed to help Jews overcome the guilt of visiting pornographic websites. Rabbi Shlomo Eliahu says that more and more men have been coming to him in recent times to confess their internet sins, so in response, he composed the following:

"Please God, help me cleanse my computer of viruses and evil photographs which disturb and ruin my work... so that I shall be able to cleanse myself."

Honestly, if I'd known this kind of thing existed, I wouldn't have had to go to PC Express to get rid of that pesky Blaster Worm virus. I prefer my porn in prose form, anyway.

What is the Catholic saint Antonio Abad best known for in the Philippines?

answer to yesterday's question
The middle finger is the longest finger on each hand because of something called the 'geometry of closing'. It's really just a fancy way of saying that when you close your hand into a fist, all your fingers touch the palm of your hand at the same time. So when you grasp an object, your fingers share the work equally. This theory is actually disputed by anthropologists, but specialists called 'evolutionary morphologists' (There's an obscure profession!) think it's the bomb.
Interestingly, the middle finger is formally known as the 'impedicus', a Latin word which means impudent, bold, and immodest. So I guess that rude gesture has been around for a long, long time...
Nikki bit in at 3:52 PM :: ::
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

A little-known fact about me is that I'll eat nearly anything, so long as it's (a) not actually alive, and (b) technically categorized as food. (You know, like I won't eat steel, for example. Do I look like Matter-Eater Lad to you?) So far, the list of weird things I've tried include cow brains, lizard meat (adobong bayawak), deer pate, sheep intestines, and ostrich jerky. That doesn't even count the weirdnesses native to the Philippines, like blood stew (dinuguan) and various dishes made of animal body parts like ears, cheeks, tongues, eyes, feet, rear ends, and all kinds of innards. The only thing I actually shied away from was crayfish, and this is only because it was the kind of restaurant where you choose the creature they're going to cook for you. After I had picked mine out, the damned thing actually wriggled off the counter and made a break for freedom! I had to let it live after that...

And no, they don't all taste like chicken.

Why is your middle finger the longest finger on your hand? (And no, it's not just so you can make rude gestures.)

answer to yesterday's question
Somewhat disappointingly, hot dogs are not, in fact, made from dogs, human beings, or any other such titillatingly horrific ingredients. Instead, they're made out of perfectly normal meats like pork, beef, chicken, or turkey; plus herbs, seasonings, egg whites, animal fat, and some kind of starchy filler like flour, oatmeal, or bread crumbs. This concoction is then ground together and stuffed into either animal intestines or synthetic cellulose casings. (Well, okay, that sounds suitably disgusting...) The resulting sausages are then tossed into boiling water for 15 minutes and voila! There you go. The original recipe was created either by someone from Frankfurt, or by a butcher named Johann Georghehner from Coburg, Germany. (Good thing they didn't name it after him!)
Who knew that Vin knew so much about hot dogs?
Nikki bit in at 11:15 PM :: ::
Monday, January 19, 2004

pet peeves: gender ru(m)ination
I wonder if men ever really wish that they were women? I mean, okay, maybe the thought has drifted through even the straightest guy's brain once or twice, but it was probably just for a second, and even then, most likely something along the lines of "Man, those girls have it easy..." rather than "God, why did you have to make me a man?"

I wonder because sometimes I do wish God had made me a guy. (And my husband is panicking as he reads this...) If I were a guy:

1. People would stop talking to my tits while I was trying to hold a decent conversation with them;

2. If an item of machinery malfunctioned while I was using it, I would immediately assume that it was the machine that went wrong, and not me;

3. When I tell people I work at home as a freelance writer, they would say, "So how does that work?" instead of "So, you're a housewife...";

4. Repairmen, waiters, and folk of all sorts would stop looking to my husband for confirmation of things that I've damn well just said; and

5. As long as I'm charismatic at the same time, I could go around being ill-tempered and dictatorial, and people would only refer to me as 'forceful'.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be able to get discounts and freebies just by smiling, have multiple orgasms, or keep a jar of sugar scrub in my bathroom without people looking at me funny. So, yeah, girldom does have compensations. But man, those guys have it easy...

How are hot dogs made?

answer to yesterday's question
Ha! You all thought it was Thomas Edison, but you should have known I wouldn't ask anything with such an obvious answer. Light bulbs actually existed about 50 years prior to Edison's 1879 U.S. patent date. A British inventor named Joseph Swan showed off his carbon filament bulb at least 10 years before Edison unveiled his carbon copy, but even he was said to have based his designs on the work of an earlier inventor, William Sawyer. However, these earlier forms only lasted about 150 hours, so Edison's 1,200-hour light bulb was the closest to our modern bulbs, which last an average of 1,500 hours.
Brownie points to Drew for at least guessing it was a semi-trick question.
Nikki bit in at 3:19 AM :: ::
Sunday, January 18, 2004

Nikki Alfar
This is what my name looks like in Baybayin, the pre-Hispanic written language used by several ancient Filipino tribes. You can find out what your name looks like-- as well as find out all kinds of interesting facts, download Baybayin fonts, and learn to write Baybayin yourself-- at Sarisari Etc. Thanks to Paul Morrow for putting up this cool site!

addendum to my post on elevator peeves
peeve # 7. people who jab the call button again and again while waiting for the elevator. Honestly, folks, it doesn't work. It doesn't accomplish anything, except for making me want to rip your annoying digit off with my teeth, spit it out onto the floor, and jump up and down on it frenziedly. Patience is a virtue, okay?

Who invented the light bulb?

answer to yesterday's question:
January 16 is 'National Nothing Day', that special day of the year when everyone is not just allowed but encouraged to sit around and... well, do nothing. So you celebrate it by not celebrating, if that makes any sense. The holiday was created in 1973 by Harold Pullman Coffin, who presumably didn't come up with it on January 16. Because that would just be silly...
Nikki bit in at 1:02 AM :: ::
Saturday, January 17, 2004

return of fire in Return of the King
Just wanted to point out the amusing artillery exchange I noticed while watching the movie last week. This occurred during the big battle at Minas Tirith.

OPENING SALVO: Orcs fling heads of defeated warriors of Gondor into the city. Minas Tirith does not respond.
SECOND SALVO: Perhaps feeling neglected, orcs and trolls catapult boulders into the city, destroying much of Minas Tirith's lovely masonry.
THIRD SALVO: Incensed, Minas Tirith tosses said masonry right back at the offending orcs and trolls.
FOURTH SALVO: Upping the ante, orcs respond with flaming missiles.
FIFTH SALVO: Minas Tirith claims decisive victory of the one-up-manship by tossing out its steward, in flames and everything. Maybe they didn't hit the enemy forces with him, but hey, it's the thought that counts.

What curious holiday is celebrated (or, perhaps more appropriately, not celebrated) on January 16?

answer to yesterday's question:
Trinidad Tecson, Valeriana Elises y Palma, Agueda Kahabagan, and Teresa Magbanua were all Katipuneras who fought with rifle, bolo, tooth and nail on the battlefield right alongside their male counterparts. Agueda Kahabagan was the only recorded female general of the Katipunan armed forces, and Teresa Magbanua is said to have been an even better rider and marksman than many of her male colleagues.

Congratulations to Jason for getting it right!
Nikki bit in at 2:15 AM :: ::
Friday, January 16, 2004

bibliophilia: Global Frequency: Planet Ablaze by Warren Ellis et. al.
Just read the trade paperback, courtesy of my darling husband and, of, course, Vin.

Here's the premise-- the mysterious Miranda Zero has assembled 1,001 individuals around the globe to respond to threats and disasters that other entities are unable or unwilling to handle. Said threats include such funkiness as: an alien invasion via memetic virus, a nuclear-powered renegade government cyborg, and a town-wide incidence of traumatic catatonia caused by the possible earthly manifestation of an angel. It's a little bit like Ellis' Planetary and The Authority put together, except that (a) Global Frequency is set in an apparently superhero-free continuum, and (b) the disasters here are not worldwide, or even nationwide. (They don't need to be; here, Ellis proves that he can make intimate scenarios every bit as affecting as his famed cinematic catastrophes.) Finally, (c), aside from Miranda Zero and command central operator Aleph (Think Batman's Oracle on steroids.), none of the characters recur throughout the collection. This neatly showcases Ellis' often-overlooked ability to paint compelling character portraits in the space of a single comic book issue. It also highlights the Global Frequency as an intriguing idea and entity unto itself, rather than a collection of costumed caricatures.

This is the kind of thing at which Ellis excels: unmitigated weirdness and unapologetic attitude. I was extremely unimpressed with his Stranger Kisses and Switchblade Honey, which struck me as perfect exercises in sound and fury that any testosterone-filled would-be writer could have executed. But I'd venture to say that no one else could have pulled off Global Frequency with such panache and unerring accuracy. I really, really liked it.

I want to be part of the Global Frequency!

Since people seem to enjoy my little trivia entries, I've decided to turn 'em into a sort of value-added service (O, 'di ba?) by featuring a regular trivia quiz. Answers to the questions will be included in the succeeding post, and if you get 'em right... Well, no prizes, but won't everyone think you're cool?


today's question:
What did Trinidad Tecson, Valeriana Elises y Palma, Agueda Kahabagan, and Teresa Magbanua have in common?
Nikki bit in at 2:26 PM :: ::
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

one down, five to go
Ha! I managed to write my comic script in one day. My coolness knows no bounds.

out in the weird world
A farmer in eastern China paid U.S.$2,400 (Php133,000) for an arranged marriage with a woman in Fujian province. After the wedding, his costly bride refused to sleep with him, claiming she felt unwell. She ran away six days later, but the farmer pursued her, tracking her down in a neighboring town. Upon seeing him, she attempted to run again, so the farmer grabbed her. In the ensuing struggle, the so-called bride's fake breasts fell off, and the poor man realized he had been duped in one of the worst ways. Police are now holding the former bride on suspicion of obtaining money by deception.

After all, how many other explanations are there? That the guy did it for kicks?
Nikki bit in at 3:18 PM :: ::
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Sage speaks
Curiously, for a child conceived in Hong Kong, born in Manila, and currently being brought up by two American-English-speaking parents and one nanny from Zamboanga, Sage's speech pattern shows distinctly Singaporean influences. Word examples include: "circle-lah", "Mommy-lah", "shark-a-lah", and "Daddy-lah".

On the other hand, she seems to have graduated from the pronunciations "moy" and "kai" to the more commonly-accepted "more" and "car". Apparently, she was having some trouble with the ending consonant 'r'. And here I thought she was just a really big Angel Ace fan.

Nikki freaks
Once again, I may have bitten off more than I can chew. By mid-next week, I'm scheduled to complete one TV script treatment, one comic book script, copy for several unified banners for a trade exhibit, the edited revision for another comic book script, and the redesign of a friend's blog template. Oh, and I ought to get cracking on some stuff for the Palanca awards, too.

Damn me and my overweening arrogance! But I'll manage. Somehow.

"It will all be one a hundred years hence." --either Emerson or Buddha
Nikki bit in at 10:31 PM :: ::

pet peeves (and there are many)
Probably it's a bad idea for someone with as many elevator-related peeves as I have to live in a condominium. But as the diva said at the opera house, these things do happen. It doesn't help that my particular condominium is a 36-story building with only two elevators, each of which only services about half the number of floors. And the majority of the residents seem to be exactly the kind of people who drive me crazy, like:

1. people who can't seem to distinguish the 'up' button from the 'down' button. So there you are, riding up in the elevator, when it comes to a halt, the doors slide open, and some yahoo looks in blankly and says, "Ay, going up ba?" And the doors close again just before you can maul them for wasting your precious time. Honestly, the big arrow symbols on the call buttons are meant to be a clue.

2. people who don't do a damn thing when the doors are slamming shut on other people. Like when some poor schmoe struggling with fourteen bags of groceries is trying to load them into the elevator, and the S.O.B. standing by the control panel just stares blankly at them while the doors are repeatedly trying to close on their overburdened arms. It's common courtesy to hold the elevator open, you know, and it's also what the 'open' button is for.

3. people who insist on pressing the 'open' button when the doors have already opened on their floor. Like I said, the 'open' button is for those times when the elevator doors close prematurely. Otherwise, the doors open automatically when the elevator gets to the floor you've pressed on the control panel. Really. This is how elevators work.

4. people who stand directly in front of the doors and refuse to move when other people need to get in or out. Yeah, I know you need space to accommodate your ego, but move it aside, buddy.

5. people who step in last, overloading the elevator so that the doors won't close, and then refuse to step back out so that everyone else can get to where they're going. What, do you think we might not notice it was you?

6. people who feel the need to carry on conversations at the top of their lungs. But we have to forgive them somewhat, because thanks to all the other jerks, the elevator ride now takes about three hours or so, and you can't blame them for screaming in sheer frustration.

It's a good thing I don't need to go out every day.
Nikki bit in at 1:15 PM :: ::
Monday, January 12, 2004

No matter how efficiently you schedule your tasks, there are those days when, for one reason or another, all the deadlines suddenly seem to cascade upon you at the same time.
The reason they call them 'deadlines' is that they make you want to kill something.
Nikki bit in at 10:41 PM :: ::
Sunday, January 11, 2004

funky Filipino factoids
In 1587, 'Luzones Indios' (Filipinos from the island of Luzon) landed on the coast of California via the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade-- 33 years before the Mayflower docked in the Americas. In 1765, a number of Filipinos founded 'Manila Village' in the bayous of Louisiana, where they pioneered 'dancing the shrimp', a method of de-shelling shrimp that has since become ingrained in the local Cajun and Creole culture.

Who knew?
Nikki bit in at 6:25 PM :: ::
Saturday, January 10, 2004

warning: severe snottiness ahead
I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was around 10 years old (Yeah, I know that's kind of early, but I had a library stocked by older brothers with good taste.), and have read it at least once every two years since then. That's 20+ times, which either makes me fairly pathological or "beautiful and terrible as the morning and the night" (in Galadriel's words), depending on how you look at it.

So yeah, I'm a fan. I saw the first two movies (loved the first, liked the second), but haven't seen the third yet because (a) the Manila Film Festival had to happen first, and (b) I'd rather wait for the regular showing than wait in a line at a premiere for which I'd have had to pay a ridiculous amount of money to see a story which I already know practically by heart. But I'm finally seeing it tonight with my guys (all twelve of us!). Reports have been good, so I'm excited.

Now for the snotty part. I saw a post by some person calling themselves a 'Lord of the Rings fan'. This person had made a big, big image with the word "Isenguard" emblazoned on it in even bigger letters. The person later apologized for the misspelling, explaining, "I'm Canadian, we like to put the letter 'u' in everything." Listen up, buddy, if you didn't know that it's "Isengard", it's not because you're Canadian-- it's because you obviously haven't read the book! And if you haven't read the book and have only seen the movie, then you're not a fan; yer just another Legolas groupie. Okay?

one "of the best authors... in the country"-- that's me!
Hey, I didn't say it! Some very nice journalist at Business World did, in reference to SIGLO: Freedom, the fabulous grafiction anthology I got to participate in last year. (Well, I am married to one of the editors...) I couldn't find a byline for the article author, but whoever that was, I'm so loving ya!
Nikki bit in at 1:41 PM :: ::
Friday, January 09, 2004

my first word balloon
Look, look! I dared the hazards of photoshop and managed something that looks recognizeable enough. (Sage is reminding me of the tasks on my 'to-do' list.) Obviously, I have to get some decent fonts-- not to mention figure out how to do thought balloons and all kinds of whoop-de-do-- but it's a start!

reading the menu, eating at home
In the past two days, I've watched about 16 episodes of the TV series Alias on DVD. Not so much because it's a great show (although it is), but because I have this mammoth crush on Michael Vartan, who plays Agent Vaughn. In fact, although each episode is less than an hour, it's probably taken me more than 16 hours of viewing, because I have to play back the truly stellar Vaughn scenes and just ogle.

Dean, for his part, has a major mad-on for uber-babe Aubrey Miles. I don't understand his crush, and he doesn't understand my crush, which is probably the way it should be. Anyway, the point is, neither of us has a problem with the other one having some fun enjoying a nice, harmless fantasy.

I've never understood those couples who get all crazy-eyed when one of the parties involved so much as raises an eyebrow in another person's direction. Me, I like to think that my husband's fascination with celluloid chicks only means that there isn't a flesh-and-blood, actually-accessible woman out there who can hold a candle to me. (Which isn't meant to imply that you couldn't get Aubrey if you wanted, Husband Dear. Of course you could...) Besides, being committed and in love doesn't mean you're blind, for God's sake. It just means that you've seen what's out there; and when all is said and done, you wouldn't trade anything for what you've got at home.

But it doesn't hurt to look...
Nikki bit in at 1:23 AM :: ::
Thursday, January 08, 2004

we who are weak of will
I tried to go on the Atkins diet and lasted just slightly over two days. My mother cautioned me, "Don't do it for more than six weeks or you'll damage your liver"-- which just goes to show the depth of her love and obviously unwarranted faith. All I had to give up were carbohydrates and sugar, but I never realized before that 80% of my daily energy basically comes from three main food groups: Coca-Cola, potato chips, and cigarettes. With only one out of three, I'm a vegetable, good only for playing with my daughter and reading a couple of chapters of my current novel before falling into blessed unconsciousness. ('Blessed' because then I couldn't think about how many people I'd be willing to kill for a lousy 12 oz. Coke.) I also got dehydrated and somewhat grumpy, which implies that my famously calm disposition is in fact dependent on poor eating habits.

At the same time, my PC conked out again, this time due to some freaky virus. No one should be deprived of chips, Coke, and their main source of work and electronic entertainment all at the same time-- it does things to a person.

bibliophilia: Eragon by Christopher Paolini (WARNING: spoilers!)
When Vin lent me this book, I was all set not to like it, simply because its author is 19 years old and started writing the damn thing when he was 15. So I figured it was all hype, just a gimmick to ride on the Harry Potter phenomenon, with the new twist of a barely-post-pubescent author.

And I didn't like it, initially. The writing was mildly awkward, the characterization of the dragon (It's a fantasy.) smacked of Anne McCaffrey's Pern, and most of the plot revelations were visible from miles away. I couldn't wait to get to chapter 4, so that I could safely say I had given it a fair chance before putting it down for good.

But somewhere in between page one and chapter five, something happened. The stereotypical farmboy hero turned into an actual person, the wise old mentor died, and the writing gradually matured past the see-Spot-run style of the first few pages. Best of all, instead of the usual good-vs.-evil morality of most fantasy novels, Paolini offered a sophisticated-enough scenario of opposing forces with complex agendas. And so, one way or the other, magic-- both the magic of a well-rendered fantasy setting and the magic of competent writing-- happened.

I'm still not saying this book deserves its supposed status as the new star of juvenile literature-- it lacks the endearing charm of the Potter books, as well as the whimsical flakiness of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. But if you appreciate a straightforward quest-style fantasy epic, you might want to pick this one-- and its sequel-- up in paperback. In spite of all my criticisms, I'm gonna. Then again, I'm a bibliophile, so as long as it doesn't utterly suck, I'll read it. Eragon doesn't; there ya go.
Nikki bit in at 12:37 AM :: ::
Sunday, January 04, 2004

festival of fools
As you may already know from reading my guys' blogs, we all went to a carnival last night to celebrate Dean's and Camille's birthdays. Marco had warned us that Star City was noisy, crowded, and vastly disappointing, but fortunately El proposed a viable alternative-- Quezon City's Pamaskong Pasiklab.

Some highlights of the evening were Carl's stunning display of marksmanship at the shooting booth (winning four whole bars of chocolate, which he generously shared), Andrew's dizzying twirling at the Aero Trim whirligig, and Dino Yu's ability to actually terrify ghosts at the Malikmata house of horrors. (One of them actually backed cautiously away from his threatening yowls!) I came this close to punching Andrew at Malikmata, because he had snuck ahead to hide behind a corner and grab my arm just before we exited! (In the dark, I thought it was a carny guy, and I don't take kindly to being grabbed by strangers.) Another funny incident at the horror house was that Camille's mom called her from the States just as we were all shrieking and clinging to one another, so Camille had to explain that she was not, in fact, in the midst of life-threatening circumstances (unlike Andrew, haha!).

We also enjoyed the octopus ride and the sideshows, particularly Galema, Queen of Snakes. (Andrew and I thought the snake on display next to the barker was a fake, until it moved its head and hissed at us! After that, we naturally had to see the show.) Camille and Jason (who had literally just stepped off the plane from Davao before rushing to join us) also enjoyed the Ferris Wheel, which everyone else deemed either too tame or too terrifying, depending on their taste for heights. Being a thrill junkie myself, I wanted to try out the glider harness thing, but there were too many similarly-nutso people in line ahead of me.

We all tried the ring toss booth (at which we all abysmally failed), as well as coin toss booth (at which nearly everyone won five pesos-- a four-peso profit from their one-peso joining fee, yay! Andrew also scored a couples of bowls and glasses.) We wanted to win Sagey a Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed toy, but it was ridiculously difficult to acquire, and Marco pointed out that we would probably spend less money just buying her something at the mall. So we food-tripped instead on scrumptious fifteen-peso sticks of barbecue, before reverting to our mild-mannered secret identities and retreating to the more mundane Chili's for coffee before bidding each other good night.
Nikki bit in at 4:10 PM :: ::
Thursday, January 01, 2004

birthday boy
Since it's the day before Dean's birthday, I ran out to Megamall to grab him a couple of last-minute gifts. I always try to buy his presents early, but I end up giving some of them to him for Christmas (What a softy I am!), therefore condemning myself to panic buying at the eleventh hour.

I was hoping to find Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobiography, but they don't have it at Powerbooks yet, since they need to devote most their shelf space to their 69,000 copies of The Lord of the Rings. (Don't get me wrong; huge Tolkien fan, but honestly! You'd think there were no other fantasy books being published!)

I did manage to get a couple of other finds I'm pleased with from other stores, but I can't tell you about them here because my husband reads my blog! (Which he darn well should...) We're probably going to spend the day pretty quietly tomorrow, having lunch out with Sagey and maybe catching Mano Po 2 together.

I always wish that I could make the day super-extra-special for him, but so many other people seem to inconsiderately own all the money that I deserve so much more than they do. Lord God, why have You seen fit to make money and taste mutually exclusive?!

Kidding. Sort of. Sigh.
Nikki bit in at 10:02 PM :: ::
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