My version of “Top Ten Tuesday”

To get me back on a blogging vibe, I’ll join in on the Top Ten Tuesday weekly meme, which apparently started with the blog, The Broke and the Bookish. Cool stuff. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is… *drum roll*… top ten settings which I’d like to see, or read, more of. Hmm… I’m tapping my pointer finger on my temple in deep thought on this one. I’d have to say that this list won’t come too easy, but I’ll just jot (or, well, type) my ideas down as I go:

10. car wash or garage – I can somehow imagine the opening scene of a hot romance at a car wash, or garage, where a ripped, handsome protagonist plays the role of the successful owner. A feisty little female protagonist suddenly drives in for a wash, but ends up with unexpected car trouble which she blames on the owner… thus begins a not so usual love/hate relationship mixed with just the right amount of sass and romance. (And no, there is so no erotica involved here, not the slightest… Okay maybe just a little.)

9. Paris – Since I am unabashedly in love with this city (as evident enough in my previous posts), I wouldn’t mind watching more contemporary love affairs set here, shown both on the small and big screens, like those of Big and Carrie’s surprise rendezvous in Paris in SATC, or like Owen Wilson’s (sorry, I forget his character’s name) literary affairs with the “greats”, ie Hemingway, Picasso, etc. and then finding his ideal partner, in Midnight in Paris.

8.  Hawaii – I’ve never been but from the few movies I’ve watched with this as the setting (okay, I can only really recall Blue Crush at this point… oh! and 50 first dates), I think its islands make for gorgeous backdrop for, say perhaps,  a romantic comedy slash surfing flick. No wild guesses with the surfing factor there.

7. library – Hmm… I’m thinking more along the lines of Gabriel’s Inferno as I think of possibly setting an intellectual sort of love story here. Can you say hot, brooding young-ish professor, meeting a shy, demure student… Brrr. Nuff said.

6. race track – Aside from Fast and the Furious, and maybe that talking car movie with Lindsay Lohan some years back, I don’t recall having watched much movies, of whatever genre, being set or revolving around a race track. Maybe Charlie’s Angels, the one where Drew, Lucy and Cameron chased some bad dude around, but that was only one part of the film. It should be interesting to watch perhaps a sort of auto-bio of whomever race car driver (Alonso something or other?), detailing the highs and lows of “life on the fast lane”… Err. Yeah, you know what I mean.

5. kitchen – I do love food and I have always been fascinated with cooking and its intricacies (key word: fascinated). So I would love to see on screen a witty, heartwarming story about a chef and his apprentice (nothing like Ratatouille the cartoon movie please), where maybe a former “master chef” with deep, personal issues regresses into a bumbling short-order cook, but whose talents and patience are soon challenged by a young, ambitious but thoughtless up-and-coming-chef.

4. English boarding school – Something like Dead Poets’ Society pops into my mind at this possible setting, also for a film, or I’m thinking a play would do, or better yet a musical, which details the complex, coming-of-age of co-ed students at an English boarding school, where they’re far away from home, but confined in close quarters, made to conform to rules, etc.

3. Brasilia – Aside from Rio, which is, well, a movie about birds, and those occasional action flicks based in Brazil, I think there should be more relevant movies made of and within this  country. It just seems so versatile, with its beautiful people of mixed races (don’t get me started on how hot these Brazilian-Japanese models are, most if not all making a killing in Manila’s modelling-slash-showbiz circuit), it’s rich, riotous football-frenzied culture (uhm, need I say Ronaldo? or Pele?), and of course carnaval. 

2. funeral home – Just to make it clear… no, I do not have a fetish of any kind that’s anything at all related to corpses. Goodness… If I may explain… What I was thinking of when I wrote this is actually Six Feet Under, that award-winning series on HBO some years ago. It totally got me hooked on the strange life of this family, which operates a funeral home, where each member was just trying to live normal lives despite their unusual family business. I don’t think there’s been another TV series with this setting… unless you consider The Walking Dead as its spin-off? You know, corpses… and then zombies… (Ha.. ha.. I’m so hilarious.. ! A tear fell.)

1. NYC – I loved SATC, I loved Friends, I loved Gossip Girl.. I’ve always imagined myself living the grand life in the Big Apple, so what the hey, let’s throw this on the top of my list! Oh, New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of (hum.. hum..).. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching any film, or reading any book, showcasing this dirty yet glamorous city, with its supposedly grimy, scary Subways, its  high-brow boutiques, restos and bars, its infamous yellow cabs, and the concentrated green lush of Central Park right in the middle. NYC.. someday… you and me gots to meet, that’s for certain.  

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rules and oblivion

This is just ridiculous. I am totally bombing this 365 day project that I imposed on myself. Sigh. I am thinking that I should just rethink my personal rules on this and perhaps make it a once-a-week-blogging gig instead. Okay, I will do that, beginning, like, now.

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Are you happy?

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source: image found on http://www.pinterest.com

If someone asked me the question, “are you happy?”, I think I would hesitate just a tad bit, but ultimately answer, “yes, for most of the day, I am.”

Personally, I equate general happiness with being grateful, not just for the big things, ie a sudden windfall of cash (whoopee!), a promotion (woot!), or an improvement in one’s love life (oh yeah!)… But especially for the small things, the little blessings everyday, which can make all the difference between a great day and a shitty one… Like finding crumpled bills in the small pocket of your purse (just when you thought you were done to your last money), or receiving a helping hand from your normally nasty colleague (that sure can be a pleasant surprise), or a sudden, positive turn of events with a really difficult client case (which you thought for sure would cost you your job!).

Obviously I’m in a somewhat pensive mood while writing this post. As that saying goes, happiness is indeed a choice. And if you’re no longer happy with something (or someone), then… I suppose it’s time to make that necessary choice.

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Quiet

I am, admittedly, an introvert. I mean, generally. Grew up as an only child so I don’t think I should get most of the blame for this, but… despite the fact, I think I’ve managed to overcome my introverted-ness through the years. Again, generally. I say so because I still am not fully comfortable with speaking in public, but I’ve learned to socialise quite well in public functions or soirees.

This could well be due to a number of factors, really. One could be my work, which involves me dealing with different kinds of people daily, so I guess in a sense I’ve been exposed to just talking, and interacting,and just letting it all out there. Another could be age, I think. As I grew older, I guess I got a little jaded with everything, and everyone (this is the cynic in me talking), that I’m now like, “oh hell with it, this is how I am, now get over it”.

I can now move shamelessly along the “talk spectrum” from, say, Chatty Cathy to Gabfest Gloria. I’ve also learned to make small talk. I do great small talk, if I may say so myself. I think it’s because I’m sincerely curious about people, about what makes them tick, what their motivations are. Normally I just want to get to people’s “bottom line” and try to strip off their pretensions. I’ve always found it fairly easy to read people… does that make me judgemental in some strange, roundabout way? Hmm I think not, but could be a thought to ponder on sleepless nights.

In saying all this, I was pleasantly surprised to chance upon an article about Susan Cain, an American writer and lecturer, who is a passionate advocate of “the power of introverts”. What an a-m-a-z-i-n-g woman! When I first watched her TED talk online, the shy little school girl inside me jumped for joy at this brave woman who spoke for all the quiet folks out there. To think that she’s a Westerner whom – okay, I’ll risk going on a limb here and generalise as being expected to always be outspoken and straightforward – made it even more impressive and…real.

Having been private schooled all my life (from kindergarten to university), in a country where the educational system borrows heavily on Western models (as with practically all aspects of everyday living), I have experienced first hand how teachers encourage and reward students for being outspoken and, for lack of a better English description, bibo (a loose translation of the Spanish word viva, meaning full of life, I think).

In Tagalog, when we say that a kid is bibo, it would mean that the child is basically not shy. Say, if a teacher asks for volunteers to act in the school play, a bibo child would raise his/her hand without questions. If, in a children’s party, the host asks for volunteers for the first game, a bibo child would run up front without hesitation, already jumping and down excitedly.

Generally, the un-shy kids are lavished compliments by parents and teachers, which obviously reinforces the belief that not being quiet, often taken as being shy, is the way to go. It doesn’t really help that all this is then handed down to the next generation until the next, and the next, etc etc.

So what becomes of the quiet kids? I can raise my hand (in an oh-so-bibo manner) and say that, as a statistic, I think I turned out quite well, thankyouverymuch.

But, what about the rest of the quiet kids out there?

Susan Cain raises this often-disregarded matter to educators, declaring that “introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated”. She even said “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas”.

Really good stuff. Where was she when I was in school?! I really think teachers, educators, school administrators, and parents especially, would benefit from viewing this video.

For more of Susan Cain, check out her site http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com.

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the Weather and what it does to me

In my head, I am already being lined up for judgement, execution style. Fudging darn it, I missed two blogging days. Breathing in… Breathing out… Okay, I refuse to chastise myself too much for this (repeated) offence. Arghhhh…!

Right. Rant over. Moving on.

The past few days have been weird, weather-wise, in that it’s been incessantly raining in the metro, which is a little unusual for January. But, alas, weather’s been nothing but unpredictable these past couple or so years – dare I say, climate change? Add the not so unusual cooler weather during January and it makes for perfect bed weather all around. And when it’s cold, I tend to the polar bear part of me and hibernate like there’s no tomorrow.. well, just a little, lest I sound like such a slob.

During my quote-unquote hibernation days, my only other conscious bodily function seems to be to read. There’s nothing like curling up in bed with a book (or, in my case, aye to the mighty e-reader) and a cuppa something warm on the bedside table. Tea or coffee’s more my thing, but occasionally I up the ante and pour myself a glass of red, with the bottle close by. I’ve realised that a little alcohol helps me when writing, with anything really… but that can be discussed another time.

Anyway, as I mentioned in a previous post, I have been fascinated with independent (read: self published) authors and their works this past year. Amongst the Amazon indie best-sellers I fortunately got my hands on was Slammed and then Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover. Man, Slammed was a surprising winner, seriously. The story was quite simple, and written in an easy manner. The characters were simple too, meaning they were real people who weren’t pretentious and who didn’t live wealthy, excessive lives in la-la-fiction land. It was one of those stories which grabbed my easily-touched heart and had me bawling at certain points. It was essentially a romance yes, which is, truthfully, my usual type of escapist reading preference. But it also tackled some serious, real-life issues that ordinary people do go through. It was just unfortunate that the main characters had to experience such dire problems at a young age (high school slash early college age).

Okay, so my book preferences often run along young adult romances/dramas, so what? *sticking my tongue out like the real adult that i am*

So yeah, Slammed and its sequel, Point of Retreat, were amazing. But this new book by Colleen Hoover, entitled Hopeless, was, beyond doubt, much more thought out, and prepared, and thus the story and its necessary subplots all tied in really nicely in the end. At the risk of making this sounding like a book report, I’ll dare say that Ms Hoover excellently weaved the unspeakable events of two family generations with the protagonist’s present time dilemmas, and joys, all in a story-telling time span of only a little more than a month. And since I am a sucker for happy endings in books, I loved how this ended in peace, but not without the characters acknowledging that, in so many words, they’ll still need to work through a lot of their shit.

I literally gasped, and teared, and muttered, and giggled in pre-teen fashion at the notable moments in the book. I could not stop turning the pages until I finished it with a sigh of relief that no one died.. Or wait, maybe somebody did! Read it and find out….

Okay, ending this post with a few quotes from the book that made me squee like a schoolgirl…

“You don’t deserve words, Sky. You deserve actions.”

“Believe me, I have no idea how to handle you, Holder. I just take you one scene at a time.”

“Fuck all the firsts, Sky. The only thing that matters to me with you are the forevers.”

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short

I discovered a slew of amazing short films on YouTube, amongst which is this creepy, what-the-hell-was-that-about sort of film, entitled Still Life. Credits to its makers.

I’ll leave my Day 9 post at this. 🙂

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TFIOS (aka John Green’s masterpiece…at least for me!)

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I rekindled my romance with books last year.

I would mention the instigating piece of lit crack that did me in, but I wouldn’t want to shame the more recognised literary giants.

(Oh, heck, fine – it was all thanks to a certain Ms James of England who introduced me as well to SHOUTY CAPITALS, OH YEAH!)

I was on a roll after turning various shades of ashen skin (bad joke, I know) due to precious sleep hours spent instead in la-la-fiction land. But it was bliss and continues to be. I’ve been reminded of how many worlds I’ve visited from reading tons of books since childhood. Seems I’ve taken an unnecessary hiatus from my reading that now I’m furiously catching up on it. I realise how much my reading preferences have evolved, and seem to still be evolving ever since I first devoured pages off Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, and then Choose-Your-Own-Adventure’s, as a grade schooler.

I recall graduating with the Sweet Valley Kids to high school, and then later to SVU. I recall learning the ropes of baby-sitting, though I never had to do this, from the The Babysitters’ Club. I eagerly lived through each unrealistic, sickly sweet young love affair in the Sweet Dreams romance series, which I realise now I may have read too early on! I could very well blame those darn romances for why I’m still holding out for “the one” (damn him, what’s taking him so long!) If only I had first read the dark worlds conjured by Christopher Pike, precursor to the modern-day glittery vamps, then maybe my idealism for love would have tempered a bit. Or not.

I recall trying out as well the “standard-issues” of bookstore best-sellers – John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice. I also went through the somewhat predictable Nicholas Sparks, Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho phases, and (without sounding pretentious) enjoying a few Latin American reads in between, ie Isabel Allende (I loved House of the Spirits), Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Admittedly, I was also a Potter-head and a Twi-hard. Very much still a Twi-hard, I’m afraid, in my heart of hearts.

These past months though have found me patronising mostly indie authors I read about on Amazon. These guys, or mostly ladies, seriously rock. At least I think so! Now and then I manage to include a few mainstreams on my list – and goodness, what a find that John Green was! He’s the author of these amazingly witty and wisely composed young adult pieces, my favourite of which is The Fault in Our Stars. I shamelessly campaigned this to my friends and they all blame me for the buckets of tears they shed on it.

For those who haven’t read it, and who have a morbid appreciation for normally depressing themes (read: death) but enjoy finding profound and life-affecting meaning in such, then this is the book for you. It is a coming-of-age novel (think along the lines of The Perks of being a Wallflower) which narrates how two terminally-ill teens find love and friendship in an unlikely place – a support group for cancer patients and survivors. Reading it makes you appreciate your youth (if you’re actually a young adult reading it), or likely makes the real adults (ahem) recognise the value of still being alive, despite all the shit one’s gone through. It’s a feel-good story wrapped in the harsh realities of life, where not everyone is in good health, where not everyone can live to eighty and at least have the chance to fulfill one’s dreams.

I liked how it also told the story of a has-been best-selling author, whose self-involved persona is nothing like what his readers would expect him to be. Shows how, despite one’s successes in life, if you allow yourself to get deep into a nasty habit (like drinking), and purposefully refuse to get out of it, then yeah, you’d just be lost to everything. Previous accomplishments out the window, just like that.

I think I’d love to hang out with John Green even for a day and pick his brains. I think it’s real talent writing for a young adult audience when one’s an old adult.. But hey, what do I know.

Since I seem to have an uncanny ability to find scraps of wisdom in the most mundane sources (though by no means do I think this book is mundane), here’s a few lines from it which struck me (#geekalert):

“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”

“So I wasn’t lying, exactly. I was just choosing among truths.”

“Pain demands to be felt.”

“It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence.”

“I fear your faith has been misplaced – but then, faith usually is.”

“..never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.”

“Funerals, I had decided, are for the living.”

My affair with reading has brought me back to my roots and I’m quite comfy right where I am now. Think I might keep this up for a long, long time to come.

Yeah, I think I will.

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