Monday, December 14, 2009

Coffee Break: Hey, Hey What can I do?

Finally found the whole song on YouTube. Someone called this song 'Street Corner Girl'. Another told me this is called 'Hey Girl', sometimes also known as 'Hey Hey What Can I Do?'.
Whatever it's called, enjoy.

The Pillow

The pillow said:
at the end of the long day
only I know
the confident man’s confusion,
the nun’s desire,
the slight quiver in the tyrant’s eyelash,
the preacher’s obscenity,
the soul’s longing
for a warm body where flying sparks
become a glowing coal.
Only I know
the grandeur of unnoticed little things;
only I know the loser’s dignity,
the winner’s loneliness
and the stupid coldness one feels
when a wish has been granted.

by Mourid Barghouti

translation Radwa Ashour
from Midnight and Other Poems
Publisher: Arc Publications, Todmorden, Lancashire, 2009

Coffee Break Poem: Anniversary

I believe this is steam from your coffee cup,
or maybe a cloud. The years have piled
one atop the other in a great tower.
If we blink a month passes, if we yawn a year.
We rise from bed, wash our faces.
Sometimes sit together and read
the newspaper, sit and watch television,
sit and one of us is there and one isn’t.
Then the alarm goes off and you are far away
in California, visiting your mother, or I am
with you there and our daughter is on my shoulders.
We are so young in the photograph that I touch
a finger to your face.
In my dream we are sitting in lawn chairs
on a back porch, the years unspooling.
And our bodies are a field
of scrub, are desiccated weeds.
It is like coming up the front yard
of a great house where the lights are blazing,
but you are not certain
anyone is left inside.
The days so foreign now, like old men
whispering at a bus station,
each moment liminal.
And a kind of voluntary blindness,
in the same way that floaters in the eye
are soon forgotten by the brain, overlooked,
and yet exist.
by Doug Ramspeck

from Inertia Magazine, Inertia7, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nightcap Poem: The Two of Us Together

The two of us together have no need
of dreams, nor sagas, legends, or rites,
stringed instruments, we have no
need of enameling, stucco, porcelain,
distinct is the spiral motif
of our fingertips, the auditory
opening surmounted by a shell
of flesh, which, grazed by hands
or tip of tongue, irradiates
the fever everywhere, the trembling,
the plunge of the blood, transparent,
dazzling is the sense of our
organs, clear is the use of breath,
saliva, finger, the shadows
that darken the gaze, assured,
sedating is the depth of the passes,
the tunnels, the pleats, good
is the surface, the tip, the tint
of the cuffs, the fabric and the lining
of flesh. On this altar
the bible is our hoarse
words, escaping our lips, the demented
keening. Here the divinities, all of them,
are hushed, stunned they fall silent,
learn from us, spasm after spasm,
terrestrial nourishments.

by Andrea Inglese

Gabriele Poole, 2005
from Inventari
publisher Editrice Zona, 2001

Coffee Break Poem: You and I are disappearing

The cry I bring down from the hills
belongs to a girl still burning
inside my head. At daybreak

she burns like a piece of paper.

She burns like foxfire
in a thigh-shaped valley.
A skirt of flames
dances around her
at dusk.

We stand with our hands

hanging at our sides,
while she burns

like a sack of dry ice.

She burns like oil on water.
She burns like a cattail torch
dipped in gasoline.
She glows like the fat tip
of a banker's cigar,

silent as quicksilver.

A tiger under a rainbow
at nightfall.
She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
She burns like a field of poppies
at the edge of a rain forest.
She rises like dragonsmoke
to my nostrils.
She burns like a burning bush
driven by a godawful wind.

by Yusef Komunyakaa

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Coffee Break: 10 types of commenters

Someone once asked me why I don't allow comments on my blog. The answer to this is a long one, though I am aware that it isn't socially "friendly".

For the record however, my work consists of some interaction with online communities. To make that long story short, it's a daunting task to be able to moderate (and respond) to all the comments that come in.

Some people generally love to comment on articles. Whether its a news article or some feature about love and relationships, people will always have something to say. But if you're observant, you would notice that there are also a lot of comments out there that are really passive-aggressive posts or mere rantings that sometimes miss the point.

Of course not everyone posts comments like this, but many do.

Out of the Crooked Timber came up with a list of 10 types of commenters that I'm sure you're familiar with.
  1. The commenter who has not read the post properly, decides they know what it says anyway, and fires off a series of disgusted observations.

  2. Commenter who applies the most uncharitable possible interpretation to the post, and goes straight into rant mode.

  3. The commenter who takes the opportunity to make some sarcastic remarks highlighting his (99% of cases are male) own superior scholarship/intelligence and damning the CT author. “If only Chris has read the second treatise of Heinrich von Pumpkin in the original German, he’d be aware ….”

  4. The commenter who uses every comment as a peg on which to hang his (yes, “his”) own obsessions about, e.g. analytical philosophy, populism, Palestine, etc

  5. The commenter who simply wants to make nasty personal remarks about the CT author, often about female members of the collective, often using an alias.

  6. The commenter with a sense of grievance against CT following their treatment in some comment thread back in 2004.

  7. The commenter who notices that a CT author said P in 2005 and not-P in 2008, and who gives every impression of compiling an archive of such contradictions.

  8. The commenter who has posted in the thread in error, and angrily denounces literary theory in a discussion of Irish cuisine.

  9. The spambot.

  10. The commenter who reads what we write, tries to have a conversation, is occasionally appreciative, points out mistakes helpfully rather than as “gotchas”, brings their own knowledge to the table.

Note: CT = Crooked Timber

Mental Notes: Nalolongkot ka ba?

Apparently, you can catch loneliness just as you can catch a cold from someone. It's like a virus that spreads with three degrees of separation.

You can also lose friends when you're lonely and depressed. So do lonely people get lonelier? Read on.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nightcap video: Crying

KD Lang sings Roy Orbison's classic and captures so beautifully the heartbreaking lyrics that may have been overlooked due to its familiarity.

Writer's Block: On journalism

I admit I am one of those outraged by the massacre that happened in Maguindanao, Philippines.

For those who have no idea what that is about, 57 people were brutally murdered about two weeks ago -- among them were members of a politician's family, and several journalists.

The massacre is believed to be politically-motivated, allegedly ordered by a powerful political clan in the province.

I personally don't know any of the journalists killed, though I did hear from a former colleague that a wire stringer was one of the victims.

While no life is less valuable than another, this is also considered to be the worst assault on journalists in the world due to the number of media members killed.

The Philippines was once ranked the third most dangerous place to practice journalism, trumped only by war-stricken countries like Iraq. It still is third in rank, I believe, and this massacre has only put the country under closer scrutiny.

World press groups like Reporters without Borders continue to fight for journalistic freedom, but sometimes to no avail.

Before I continue however, allow me to clarify that what we are talking about here is real journalism -- not sensational tabloid reporting by people who have corrupted the profession for the love of money and power.

Journalists are often portrayed as nosy folks who meddle into personal business. But I would like to argue that freedom to follow celebrities and high-profile people paparazzi style is not really what most journalists are fighting for.

While journalism in the Philippines is considered to be free, there is no money in this profession.

Many journalists in the Philippines -- as in many developing countries -- make less than $500 dollars a month. And yet many of them are threatened, bribed and silenced by hired hit men on a regular basis.

I understand that the world has a love-hate relationship with the media, but believe me when I say there are those who despite all odds, remain in the profession out of principle.

Of course, there will always be bad apples in the bunch, just as there are good and bad doctors and teachers. One does not represent all.

It is difficult to imagine a world without the press, and perhaps for many, they would rather live in a world free of journalists. But the media is the watchdog of society. It is in general, a social barometer of what agitates the public.

When something bad happens, the media is there. Yes, bad news seems like good news to the press – but it is not as simple as it appears to be.

No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, not even the media. If we had our way, many of us would rather tell you about pleasant things. But that's why people hate the media so much. They are the bearers of bad news. It is a hazard of the profession.

Of course, the media is not always right. No one is. But when access to public information (note public, not classified information) is withheld or controlled, governments and people in power would have no one to answer to. It is because of the pressure of being accountable for their actions that some people hate the press.

In countries like the Philippines, plenty of journalists have already been killed -- execution-style -- over the decades. And yet justice has never been served.

Once or twice, such as in this massacre, there is a short show of how the government condemns and comes after the culprits. Investigations are held, and sometimes a fall guy takes the heat, just up to the time people forget.

It is usually just lip-service and a show. For once, I hope it won’t be so.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nightcap: He had it coming

That Not So Good Bacon is a blog by Terry Taylor with graphics that are dark and edgy. This one is my favorites, entitled 'He had it coming'. I wonder if this was inspired by 'Chicago'.

He only had himself to blame...Bastard.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mental Notes: Lessons from a dog

Patrick Moberg gives us Lessons from a dog. Surprisingly, they are good lessons.

Writer's Block: Internet vices & workout plan

I like tequila and vodka cranberries, among others. But someone went a wee bit overboard by comparing tequila to YouTube and vodka cranberries to Facebook. But between Facebook and the vodka, just please pass the vodka. Thank you!

Here's the complete list of Internet vices anyway.

Interestingly enough though, the same guy -- Patrick Moberg came up with a New Media Workout Plan that means you gotta jog in place for a minute each time you open Facebook, and do 10 jumping jacks when you get on Flickr.

For those who like to go on Facebook and Twitter at work though, some people might get a tad suspicious or just think you're a weird show-off. Good idea if you're at home though.

Too bad I'm a lazy slob. Please pass the tequila. *hick*

Coffee Break Poem: Making Way

--Narragansett Bay 1960

We part from the dock
slow as disengaging lovers
one landlocked the other a
floater who won’t be
kept at bay

The diminishing pier slides back
its bollards and planks deploy
to some other place not here
but to a distancing otherworld—
the tether breaks
as stern-first we pass the
channel buoy

....Quarter back, the O-D says.

....Quarter back, aye sir,
....and we slip away

....Steer two one zero, half ahead.
....Two one zero, half ahead, aye sir,

....and we slow-slide down
....the gleaming bay

The sun’s so keen it indicates
a tern on the roof of a big estate
a half mile away
with its long lawn hill
off the starboard bow
which slopes down clear
through the wind-wove air
to a point where jades meet blues
................–which passes now
as we part the sea while
making way

Further south the sea’s first chops
begin to unsettle our sheltered
adolescent cruise

Near the harbor mouth all decks
rise then make their first
supplicating bows to whatever
god it is that intervenes
to call-off wrecks
—we’re juggled gently first in
Neptune’s law as
pitches rolls & heaves
meet yaws

Gray billows diesel from our raked stacks
Halyards snap against the mast’s steel
Gulls abundantly rise & reel
over the white chaos of our wake’s track

Sunlight splinters
into rippled billions
upon each breaker’s
sequined breast
before it folds
in a white rush falling
to the soul percussion
of a bow-wave’s
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,shush shush shush

by Jim Culleny; Nov, 2009

Tuesday Poem: A Variation

And I really don’t know
now when was I very
honest and when
was I not, it cannot be
and it’s hard to sort it out. For there’s no
lie which could not
be used in order to keep
things as they are
really or in reality, I wonder
which of these is the correct
expression here, I cannot remember,
but somehow the word
real has to be in it.
And because I do not change
at all, for better or for worse,
I’m not uglier or more beautiful
than before, up or down. Or
maybe just a shade. But:
to die: no. Death is not an option.
It’s possible that
while I am changing, I usually
sleep through those hours.
Or else am hovering upside down.

by Endre Kukorelly
George Gömöri, 2001

Monday, November 23, 2009

Coffee Break Poem: Kisses

Kiss me,
Slowly, shyly, tentatively.
Get to know every nook and cranny,
And the gentle outline of my lips.

Kiss me,
Passionately, hungrily...
Make my head fall back in surrender,
Yet keep pushing forward for more.

Kiss me,
Sweetly and wondrously,
Transport me to places I have never been,
Into that perfect world where we make the rules.

Kiss me,
Authoritative and exploringly...
Until you hear unspoken secrets of my heart,
Chanting your name over and over.

Kiss me,
Sadly and tearfully..
Feel my heart breaking with every breath,
As you shall never kiss me again.

(Author unknown)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

100 movies that defined the 2000's

I'm not gonna list it all. But these are my favorites.

98 Crash
Oscar voters loved this multi-stranded depiction of contemporary LA’s combustible race politics.

88 The Pianist
Polanski won an Oscar for this comeback of unexpected acuity, with Adrien Brody bringing haunted charisma to the lead role.

79 Spider-Man
The first hit for an amiable comic-book franchise set the tone with humour, a warm romance and Tobey Maguire’s likeable hero.

60 Kill Bill
Tarantino split the film in two and his critics down the middle, serving up a delirious martial arts revenge saga.

56 Atonement
This flamboyant, visually ravishing adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Second World War novel put its British director on the map and confirmed Keira Knightley’s star quality

46 Y Tu Mamá También
Sand and hormones eddied in Cuarón’s three-way road trip, which made a superstar of Gael García Bernal.

43 The Dark Knight
The jet-black, immersive Batman movie everyone was hoping Nolan would deliver, was a blistering swansong for its late Joker, Heath Ledger.

39 Casino Royale
Daniel Craig sizzled opposite Eva Green and proved the skeptics wrong in this muscular and intense reworking of the first Bond novel.

31 Pirates of the Caribbean
Relentless high-seas action-adventure that made Johnny Depp big box-office. So successful that its sequels essentially repeated its incoherent plot.

23 Shaun of the Dead
There were lots of zombie films this decade, but only this super-smart, suburban updating of a once-tired genre featured gags about Eighties electro.

21 The Bourne Supremacy
Greengrass took the wheel and the influential amnesiac-assassin franchise leapt into hyperdrive in this barnstorming sequel.

15 Before Sunset
Before Sunrise’s Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunited for a dream-parade through Parisian boulevards in the decade’s most gorgeous and affectingly romantic film.

5 Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
If there was one franchise to rule them all, it was surely this. A hugely risky commitment for its studio, the outlay paid off more than anyone could have dreamed. It’s the enduring quality of the first installment, leading us by the hand into Tolkien’s richly imagined world, that made our collective Hobbit-love possible.

For the full list, click here.

100 books that defined the 2000's

I never got into Harry Potter or Dan Brown's series which were named in this list, but I did like this one, thanks to a friend who made a recommendation. This one is no. 20 on the list.

100 books that defined the 2000's:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

10 simple things we should all say more often

A friend once told me people don't say "thank you" enough. As simple a statement as it was, he's right. People don't say thank you enough.

Most of the time we let a lot of things slip by, but it's really the little things -- the same things that we usually take for granted that can have the biggest impact on us.

Dumb Little Man came up with a list -- a simple list but in my opinion, a good one -- of things we should say more often. Of course, one of these is "Thank You".

There are 10 items on the list, but I'd like to add an 11th item -- and that's "I'm sorry".

Read on

Wednesday Poem: I Knew a Woman

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

By Theodore Roethke

17 things worth knowing about your cat

For the rest of the 13, click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

15 things worth knowing about coffee

13 other things here.

Tuesday Poem: The Eyes of Flesh

that I
shall be
a wife.

Setting me
up in weeds
outside a
house where
beds of flowers
into fertilizer (he
would plant
me there)
with greenish braids
veined on my
ivory neck
twisted above
blood-checked gingham
in a knot
of love.

All his tears
fall from
his glassy rimmed
to awaken him.

Father, sleep
in Jerusalem.
I hate
the plastic
in this place
where we
my childhood. For
a house
is where
purposes are

by Sandra Hochman

from No More Masks!; Doubleday Anchor, 1973

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coffee Break: NO!

It is NOT okay
No you don't

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mental Notes: Slobs

Men usually get the bad rap for hygiene. They usually take the puns (and nagging) for icky habits women are known to hate. But on the flip side, not all women are all prim and polished either.

While the general assumption is that women are cleanaholics and health & hygiene conscious -- there are exemptions to the rule. Some women are closet slobs too.

We're not talking about stuff like "not-being-able-to-do-dishes-or-mop-the-floor-because-I'm-busy". We're talking about habits that some people actually bring to work/to the outside world that actually spread germs and/or annoy everyone.

1. Not flushing. No. it's not always the man who forgets. Some women just don't flush. The clogging in the bathroom -- yep, sometimes it IS her fault, fellas.

If a man ever had the guts to enter a public/office restroom -- he'd notice that some women leave a ton of toilet paper in the bowl and don't get rid of the evidence by pressing down on that magnificent modern invention of mankind called "the flush".

2. Not washing their hands. Oh yeah, some women will carry hand sanitizers and fret about how meat is bad for her while snacking on an apple -- but she's actually eating it with a handful of germs from the public bathroom. Yum!

3. Snorting. Yes, some women do snort -- intentionally. Lord knows why -- maybe to show how "one-of-the-boys" she is. But no one really wants to hear this from a man -- much more for a woman. Okay -- fine. This may not be unhygienic. But it's nasty nonetheless.

4. Spitting. A man once told me he was walking behind this really sexy woman. He was about to approach her, until she cleared her throat and threw out some spit.

Some other dirty habits featured in Glamour magazine.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nightcap Poem: Veneer

Give me my hand on his neck and his back to my breast,
my heart ruffling his ribs and their flighty charge.
Give me the sea-grass bristles on his shoulder-blades
and his spine, courteous and pliable to my wrist.

His back is a child’s drawing of seagulls flocked.
I knuckle the air undone by their windward flight
and draw from their dip and rise my linear breath.

Were he standing, my tongue could graze the whorl
at the base of his neck and leave my hand to plane
the small of his close-grained waist.

Were he lying down, I’d crook in the hollow
of him and, with my index finger, slub the mole
at the breech of his back that rounds on darkness
like a knot in veneer: shallow, intricate, opaque.

by Vona Groarke

From: Flight
Publisher: The Gallery Press, Oldcastle, 2002

How to organize Facebook friends

  • Friends Who Can’t Stop Babbling About Their Kids
  • Friends Who Are Really Into Farmville
  • Friends Who Just Ate A Good Sandwich
  • Friends Who Just Had A Great Workout
  • How Do I Even Know These Friends?
  • Nosy Relatives Posing As Friends
  • Friends Who Quote TV Shows
  • “Obama’s a Socialist” Friends
  • “They Faked the Moon Landing” Friends
  • “Look How Smart I Am!” Friends
  • “Join My Group Or You’re Not My Friend” Friends
  • Friends Who Update Their Status Every 10 Minutes
  • Friends Who Update Their Status Every Election Cycle

Mental Notes: Overheard in the Newsroom

Some quotes from "Overheard from the Newsroom" -- comments and conversations in any newsroom.

#2127: After someone asks if they can smoke in the office: “This is a newsroom, it should reek of cigarettes and scotch.”

#2157: Intern: “You guys sure do cuss a lot in here.” Assignment Editor: “Just wait until payday.”

#2145: Reporter just about to go live: “We’re not just breaking the news, we’re putting it back together.”

#2136: Page Designer to Editor in Chief: “If God had sex with a newspaper this is what it would look like.”

#2129: New reporter second day on the job: “If I won the lottery, I would buy a Krispy Kreme store, lay down on the machine and glaze myself.”

#2108: Cub Reporter: “How am I ever going to get a boyfriend if I have to work nights?”

#2104: City Editor: “I’m a journalist. It’s my job to stalk people on the Internet.”

#2102: Editor 1: “She looked like she was on the verge of tears.” Editor 2: “There’s no crying in the newsroom!”

#2156: Reporter holding free company propaganda mug: “What I am supposed to do with this? Stand on a street corner for change?”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writer's Block: Fags (aka The 'F' Word)

Just so it's clear -- we're not talking about ciggies or the "third sex" here. I'm referring to annoying motorist -- usually on motorcycles or cars -- who like to make plenty of noise when they drive past. Yes, you know them -- and I hope it's not you.

To sidetrack a bit, I have a shallow side (and a not-so-surprising bitchy side) too. I like to watch South Park and a recent episode just hit the right decibels against all those attention-starved motorists who "drive by making so much noise thinking that they're cool."

Here's an excerpt from one of the scenes:

Cartman: You guys know that everyone thinks you're fags, right?

Motorcycle Rider 1: What did you say?

Cartman: You know when people like you drive around the street with your unnecessarily loud motorcycles thinking you're all cool -- everyone is actually laughing at you and calling you pathetic faggots. You do realize that, right?

Motorcycle Rider 2: Hey man, we roll how we roll, and if people are annoyed or intimidated by it -- that's too bad for them.

Cartman: No. Nobody's intimidated, actually. Everyone realizes that people who are so needy for attention they need to dress up and be as loud as possible are you guys and 16-year old girls. Just want to let you know, you're f*cking fags.

Yes, dear obnoxious and inconsiderate motorist -- fags do not refer to ciggies.

Neither does it refer to the third sex -- they don't go out of their way to ruin people's day or peaceful evening. It just refers to you.

Water be a String to my Guitar

Water, be a string to my guitar. The new conquerors have arrived
and the old ones have gone. It’s difficult to remember my face
in mirrors. Be my memory that I may see what I lost…
Who am I after this exodus? I have a rock
that carries my name over hills that overlook what has come
and gone…seven hundred years guide my funeral behind the city walls…
and in vain time circles to save my past from a moment
that gives birth to the history of exile in me…and in others…
Water, be a string to my guitar, the new conquerors have arrived
and the old ones have gone south as nations who renovate their days
in the rubble of transformation: I know who I was yesterday, so what
will I become tomorrow under the Atlantic banners of Columbus? Be a string,
water, be a string to my guitar. There is no Egypt in Egypt, no
Fez in Fez, and Syria is distant. And no hawk
in my kin’s banner, no river east of the palm trees besieged
by quick Mongol horses. In which Andalus will I end? Right here
or over there? I will know that I perished here and left my best
behind me: my past. Nothing remains for me except my guitar,
O water, be a string to my guitar. The conquerors have gone
and the conquerors have come…

Mahmoud Darwish

translation: Fady Joudah
excerpted from If I Were Another;
Farrar, Straus, and Grioux, 2009

Tuesday Poem: Rain

A teacher asked Paul
what he would remember
from third grade, and he sat
a long time before writing
"this year somebody tutched me
on the sholder"
and turned his paper in.
Later she showed it to me
as an example of her wasted life.
The words he wrote were large
as houses in a landscape.
He wanted to go inside them
and live, he could fill in
the windows of "o" and "d"
and be safe while outside
birds building nests in drainpipes
knew nothing of the coming rain.

by Naomi Shihab Nye

from New American Poets of the 90s;
David Godine, Publisher, 1991

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday Poem: Gift

I took everything from my mother, her liquor, her ghosts,
her sweetness, her heavy lips, her breath of sorrow.
I took her waist and her spools, her ears and her thimble,
I took her green thumb, and the purple cosmos blossoms
that trembled under her kitchen window.
I took her feet and her loneliness, the cities
she lived in, the small towns, their friendless dusks,
her quilts and perfumes and fingers.
I took the sound of her dresses at midnight,
and the goat she kept as a child,
I took the crickets beneath the boards of her first houses
and her lovers; I got lost in their shadows.
I took her hatred of her father,
I ate from her dishes in rooms that smelled of the sea.
I took the war and the horses that pulled the cart
that carried her mother away.
I took the odor of crushed thyme and sweat,
I took a handkerchief embroidered by my great aunt
and the iron in her shoulders and the road signs
of old villages.
I took my mother’s maiden name and her fear of oceans,
I took her bravery and her strangeness,
I took a blessing from her and
the lullabies she whispered, drunk,
and my terror of that dark music.
I took my love for a woman
who walked through a broken doorway
with her eyes closed
following no one.

by Rita Gabis

from The Wild Field; Alice James Books,
Cambridge, MA, 1994

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nightcap Video: Just do the heroin!

No, I am not promoting the use of it. I just think this guy has a point.

This is upcoming Pakistani comedian, Kumail Nanjiani:

Coffee Break Poem: After love

Afterwards, the compromise.
Bodies resume their boundaries.

These legs, for instance, mine.
Your arms take you back in.

Spoons of our fingers, lips
admit their ownership.

The bedding yawns, a door
blows aimlessly ajar

and overhead, a plane
singsongs coming down.

Nothing is changed, except
there was a moment when

the wolf, the mongering wolf
who stands outside the self

lay lightly down, and slept

by Maxine Kumin

from No More Masks!; Anchor Books, 1973

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Writer's Block: Zeitgeist

I came across this video through a friend.

Apparently the film is a 2007 documentary by Peter Joseph about supposed 'historical and modern conspiracies'.

I do not particularly dislike films like this, because I do believe that we are not supposed to follow everything people pass off as truth.

Conspiracy theories are fascinating, however the film contains many allegations, including conspiracies about 9/11, Christianity and the banking system that I personally find to contain a classic style of using random truths taken out of context in an attempt to back it up.

Zeitgeist talks about Jesus as a sun god, with attributes similar to Horus, Attis, Dionysus, and Mirtha that include a virgin birth, 12 disciples, performance of miracles, burial and resurrection.

Already there is plenty wrong with this claim, but what I find even more ghastly is how these claims are built on the assumption that Jesus was born on December 25th.

While Christians generally celebrate Christmas Day/Jesus' birth, there is no evidence to believe that he was born on Dec 25. Scholars believe Jesus may have in fact been born in early fall or in spring, since December is cold and rainy in Judea.

Shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at night at the time of Jesus' birth. But shepherds did not remain in the fields of Judea at night during December due to lack of forage and the bad weather, and it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night.

The foundation on which he builds his arguments are shaky, with plenty of mismatched facts that only look impressive at face value but crumble at the feet of simple research. Many of the facts presented are based on assumptions passed off as truth.

The film includes Joseph's theories about the 9/11 and the banking system that also contain facts, but in my opinion are twisted around for reasons only he knows why.

However I am including the video to be fair, to let you come up with your own opinion about this film.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Poem: Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs

About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,

The night above the dingle starry,

Time let me hail and climb

Golden in the heydays of his eyes,

And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns

And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves

Trail with daisies and barley

Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns

About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,

In the sun that is young once only,

Time let me play and be

Golden in the mercy of his means,

And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves

Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,

And the sabbath rang slowly

In the pebbles of the holy streams.


All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay

Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air

And playing, lovely and watery

And fire green as grass.

And nightly under the simple stars

As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,

All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars

Flying with the ricks, and the horses

Flashing into the dark.


And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white

With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all

Shining, it was Adam and maiden,

The sky gathered again

And the sun grew round that very day.

So it must have been after the birth of the simple light

In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm

Out of the whinnying green stable

On to the fields of praise.


And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house

Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,

In the sun born over and over,

I ran my heedless ways,

My wishes raced through the house high hay

And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows

In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs

Before the children green and golden

Follow him out of grace.


Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me

Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,

In the moon that is always rising,

Nor that riding to sleep

I should hear him fly with the high fields

And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,

Time held me green and dying

Though I sang in my chains like the sea.


By Dylan Thomas

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Poem: Autumn

They brought me a quilled, yellow dahlia,
Opulent, flaunting.
Round gold
Flung out of a pale green stalk.
Round, ripe gold
Of maturity,
Meticulously frilled and flaming,
A fire-ball
of proclamation:
Fecundity decked in staring yellow
For all the world to see.
They brought a quilled, yellow dahlia,
To me who am barren
Shall I send it to you,
You who have taken with you
All I once possessed?

By Amy Lowell

Mental Notes: Blood brain shooters

For all of you who want something different for Halloween -- Brains!

Bloody brain shooter

Channel your inner mad scientist with this Bloody Brain Shooter. Mixing acidic lime juice and Irish cream causes the cream to curdle, creating brain-like strands in the shot.


1 1/4 oz. strawberry vodka such as Stoli
1/8 oz. Rose’s lime juice
3/4 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Splash of grenadine


Chill vodka for better smoothness. Add vodka and lime juice to a shaker, shake and strain into a shot glass. Using a straw, dip some Bailey’s Irish Cream into the shot. Once you submerge the straw into the Bailey’s put your finger on top of the straw to hold the Bailey’s in the straw. Dip the straw tip into the vodka and slowly release your top finger. The Bailey’s will curdle a little bit due to the lime juice and you should be able to make strands of Bailey’s.

Repeat the straw/Bailey’s process to build a “brain” in the shot glass. Add a splash of grenadine to the concoction to add the ‘blood’ to the mix. Down the hatch as a shot.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Coffee Break: Californication

Here's one of my favorite narrations from "Californication". While some folks would dismiss this show as just smut, I find that it has more heart in it than most others on television today.
(Supposedly written by David Duchovny's character Hank Moody for a blog he was "reduced" to writing.)

"Good Morning L.A.

In the land of the lotus eaters, time plays tricks on you. One day you are dreaming, the next your dream has become your reality.

It was the best of times, if only someone had told me.

Mistakes were made, hearts were broken, harsh lessons learned. My family goes on without me while I drown in a sea of pointless pussy.

I don’t know how I got here, but here I am -- rotting away in the California sun.

There are things I need to figure out -- for her sake at least.

The clock is ticking, the gap is widening. She won’t always love me, not matter what."

Mental Notes: Revenge of the Bitch

I couldn't help myself with this one.

While browsing through, I came across a couple of interesting articles about 7 secrets only two people in the world know about for some reason and found an excerpt listing Carly Simon's "You're So Vain".

Named one of the ultimate revenge songs, I initially thought this was written for Warren Beatty.

Turns out Carly Simon never admitted who she wrote the song for. The song could have been anyone including James Taylor, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson and Warren Beatty.

Well whoever the guy is, he had to test the woman "hell hath no" saying and is now somewhat immortalized in a song now considered to be one of the best songs of all time.

Only one other person on earth knows who that song is about, but as the author of the article said so nicely:

"All we know for sure is 1) Simon is never going to tell us who it's about and 2) we're real assholes if we think it's about us. Which it totally is. Bitch."

Cracked also made a list of the 10 Most Bitter Female Rock Songs. Let me share with you three of my favorites here -- not because I'm angry now, but hell -- I could be later.

While I hope I never get this angry again, I also lovingly dedicate this to a couple of cheating ex-boyfriends.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cocktail Links: Mixed lists

Cocktail Links: Psychology

Cocktail links: Are you scared yet?

For ye folks who love Halloween, here are a mix of links to prep you up for the most God-forsaken holiday there is. Of course, not everything here is scary. I just thought I'd throw it in anyway.
For those with a nerves of steel only (Don't say I didn't warn you)

Mental Notes: Musical Rules Of Thumb

Can't really say if all these are true, but it's interesting nonetheless.

1. If you like a new song when you first get it, you'll tire of it in four weeks; if you hate it at first, you'll like it in about six months; if you feel indifferent about it, you'll always feel that way.
2. The first string that breaks on a guitar is usually the high E (1st string); next likely to break are the D and G strings (3rd and 4th).
3. Music played on a high-quality musical instrument sounds better no matter who's playing.
4. You will not tire of your music collection if you have 200 cds or more.
5. You'll like an album if you like at least one-fourth of the songs on it.
6. If you're playing improvised music and flub a note or phrase in a scale, repeat the mistake and there is none.

Coffee Break: Perversion of proverbs

This weekend, co-vocabularists are invited to pervert proverbs by submitting “preverbs” – two traditional sayings bisected and misarranged.

Illustration is the best explanation:

A rolling stone leads to Rome.
All roads gather no moss.

God helps those who flock together.
Birds of a feather help themselves.

Better safe than never.
Better late than sorry.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Poem: Burren Falcon

Roused, she unpleats her feathers in the wind,
shakes her head, takes a quick shit, unloading
before flight. The sky pours hunting inks of colour:
pupils enlarge, fill the eye’s pool. Mountain,
dolmen, ferns, hem the low outcrops where
ascent begins again. She escapes the falconer’s arm,
outward though not half far enough,
her senses mewl for mice, chicks, newborn lambs
with sweet eyes and succulent hearts. Erect
with desire, her feathers flatten, she is scattershot
in the sky’s skin, blood-charged as she lunges
where limestone encloses the mountain’s
lungs. She tears on to a little death, beak
like a hooked needle, finally threading flesh.

by Mary O'Donnell

from The Ark Builders
Publisher: Arc Publications, Todmorden, 2009

Coffee Break: Banshee

Nightcap video: Airport Musical

Is that too much to ask?

Writer's Block: The Journalist's Code of Ethics

I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.

I shall not violate confidential information on material given me in the exercise of my calling.

I shall resort only to fair and honest methods in my effort to obtain news, photographs and/or documents, and shall properly identify myself as a representative of the press when obtaining any personal interview intended for publication.

I shall refrain from writing reports that will adversely affect a private reputation unless the public interest justifies it. At the same time, I shall fight vigorously for public access to information.

I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties, nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration of a nature that may cast doubt on my professional integrity.

I shall not commit any act of plagiarism.

I shall not, in any manner, ridicule, cast aspersions on, or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, cultural and ethnic origin.

I shall presume persons accused of crime of being innocent until proven otherwise.

I shall exercise caution in publishing names of minors and women involved in criminal cases so that they may not unjustly lose their standing in society.

I shall not take unfair advantage of a fellow journalist.

I shall accept only such tasks as are compatible with the integrity and dignity of my profession, invoking the “conscience clause” when duties imposed on me conflict with the voice of my conscience.

I shall conduct myself in public or while performing my duties as journalist in such manner as to maintain the dignity of my profession. When in doubt, decency should be my watchword.

(This Journalist's Code of Ethics was unanimously adopted during the founding congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on July 30, 1988.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mental Notes: Evolution

Remember this? I do. This was the model of my second mobile phone -- the one that I kept for years -- in fact, up to a little over three years ago.

It's one of those phones I didn't want to let go of, but alas all good things have to be left dead and buried at some point in time. But those were the days...

I miss my old phone as I sometimes miss my old life. Strangely I can't help but feel it represents what are lives are like.

My old phone was simple but useful with a bit of an edge. Today, I carry something sleek and fancy but dull. Well, at least it isn't a Blackberry.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coffee Break: Pixar intro parody

via Popped Culture

Coffee Break: A Thousand Years

A thousand years, a thousand more
A thousand times a million doors to eternity
I may have lived a thousand lives, a thousand times
An endless turning stairway climbs
To a tower of souls
If it takes another thousand years, a thousand wars,
The towers rise to numberless floors in space
I could shed another million tears, a million breaths,
A million names but only one truth to face

A million roads, a million fears
A million suns, ten million years of uncertainty
I could speak a million lies, a million songs,
A million rights, a million wrongs in this balance of time
But if there was a single truth, a single light
A single thought, a singular touch of grace
Then following this single point , this single flame,
The single haunted memory of your face

I still love you
I still want you
A thousand times the mysteries unfold themselves
Like galaxies in my head

I may be numberless, I may be innocent
I may know many things, I may be ignorant
Or I could ride with kings and conquer many lands
Or win this world at cards and let it slip my hands
I could be cannon food, destroyed a thousand times
Reborn as fortune's child to judge another's crimes
Or wear this pilgrim's cloak, or be a common thief
I've kept this single faith, I have but one belief

I still love you
I still want you
A thousand times the mysteries unfold themselves
Like galaxies in my head
On and on the mysteries unwind themselves
Eternities still unsaid,
Until you love me

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Nissan Land Glider

Nissan new concept car that turns much like a motorcycle. The car is designed for use in congested urban areas. It has a narrow frame that seats the passenger behind the driver.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Writer's Block: What's in your coffee?

Ever wonder what's really inside coffee? Well, here's the breakdown -- at least the partial breakdown. For the full WIRED magazine article, click here.

This is why the world produces more than 16 billion pounds of coffee beans per year. It's actually an alkaloid plant toxin (like nicotine and cocaine), a bug killer that stimulates us by blocking neuroreceptors for the sleep chemical adenosine. The result: you, awake.

Hot H2O is a super solvent, leaching flavors and oils out of the coffee bean. A good cup of joe is 98.75 percent water and 1.25 percent soluble plant matter. Caffeine is a diuretic, so coffee newbies pee out the water quickly; java junkies build up resistance.

Creates a tarlike, medicinal odor in your morning wake-up. It's also a component of cockroach alarm pheromones, chemical signals that warn the colony of danger.

Quinic acid
Gives coffee its slightly sour flavor. On the plus side, it's one of the starter chemicals in the formulation of Tamiflu.

3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid
When scientists pretreat neurons with this acid in the lab, the cells are significantly (though not completely) protected from free-radical damage. Yup: Coffee is a good source of antioxidants.

Chemically, it's a molecule of niacin with a methyl group attached. It breaks down into pyridines, which give coffee its sweet, earthy taste and also prevent the tooth-eating bacterium Streptococcus mutans from attaching to your teeth. Coffee fights the Cavity Creeps.

Nightcap Video: My favorite lullaby

Wednesday Poem: Liturgical Poem

“Love I sing, I say love”

–Meir Wieseltier

Let’s pretend that the war here was made of love
An oppressed enemy swept away by love
A mutual, one-sided occupation of love
Bustling settlements swarming with love
The eyes of preachers in mosques bellowing love
In refugee camps, walls stained with slogans of love
The news every hour, sugared announcements dripping love
Roadblocks with barbed wires in the name of love
Terrorists infiltrating shopping malls buckled with love
Coexistence, a hollow word, an abandoned tank made of love.

by Shai Dotan

translation: Ohad Stadler
from On the Verge; Publisher: Am Oved,
Tel Aviv, 2005

Coffee Break: Corsets, cameras and camouflage

by Tolu Ogunlesi

KateAdie She was the only woman on the frontlines during Gulf War 1, surrounded by 43,000 men. So how did she cope with doing that thing that men can do in public but women can’t? “Nudity is tolerable, using the loo in front of other people isn’t,” she explained to a wine-sipping group of us gathered around her at a Nairobi house in August; as we awaited the start of a dinner party to end the 2009 Storymoja Hay Festival.

To read the full article, click here.

Mental Notes: Destressing journalists

(Reposted from Frank Cimatu's Unholy Hours/Pine for Pine)

21 Things You Can Do While You're Living Through a Crisis
by Dr. Mark Lerner, President, Institute for Traumatic Stress

1. Take immediate action to ensure your physical safety and the safety of others. If possible, remove yourself from the event/scene in order to avoid further traumatic exposure.

2. Address your acute medical needs. If you’re having difficulty breathing, experiencing chest pains or palpitations, seek immediate medical attention.

3. Find a safe place that offers shelter, water, food and sanitation.

4. Become aware of how the event is affecting you (your feelings, thoughts, actions and your physical and spiritual reactions).

5. Know that your reactions are normal responses to an abnormal event. You are not “losing it” or “going crazy.” It’s okay not to be okay, right now.

6. Speak with your physician or healthcare provider and make him/her aware of what has happened to you.

7. Be aware of how you’re holding-up when there are children around you. Children will take their cues from the adults around them.

8. Try to obtain information. Knowing the facts about what has happened will help you to keep functioning.

9. If possible, surround yourself with family and loved ones. Realize that the event is likely affecting them, too.

10. Tell your story. And allow yourself to feel. It’s okay not to be okay during a traumatic experience.

11. You may experience a desire to withdraw and isolate, causing a strain on significant others. Resist the urge to shut down and retreat into your own world.

12. Traumatic stress may compromise your ability to think clearly. If you find it difficult to concentrate when someone is speaking to you, focus on the specific words they are saying and work to actively listen. Slow down the conversation and try repeating what you have just heard.

13. Don’t make important decisions when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Allow trusted family members or friends to assist you with necessary decision-making.

14. If stress is causing you to react physically, use controlled breathing techniques to stabilize yourself. Take a slow deep breath by inhaling through your nose, hold your breath for five seconds and then exhale through your mouth. Upon exhalation, think the words “relax,” “let go,” or “I’m handling this.” Repeat this process several times.

15. Realize that repetitive thinking and sleep difficulties are normal reactions. Don’t fight the sleep difficulty. Try the following: eliminate caffeine for four hours prior to your bedtime, create the best sleep environment you can, consider taking a few moments before turning out the lights to write down your thoughts, thus “emptying” your mind.

16. Give yourself permission to rest, relax and engage in non-threatening activity. Read, listen to music, or consider taking a warm bath.

17. Physical exercise may help to dissipate the stress energy that has been generated by your experience. Take a walk, ride a bike, or swim.

18. Create a journal. Writing about your experience may help to expose yourself to painful thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, enable you to assimilate your experience.

19. If you find that your experience is too powerful, allow yourself the advantage of professional and/or spiritual guidance, support and education.

20. Try to maintain your schedule. Traumatic events will disrupt the sense of normalcy. We are all creatures of habit. By maintaining our routines, we can maintain a sense of control at a time when circumstances may lead us to feel a loss of control.

21. Crises present opportunities. Cultivate a mission and purpose. Seize the energy from your experience and use it to propel you to set realistic goals, make decision and take action.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why it often rains in the movies

Because so much consequential thinking
happens in the rain. A steady mist
to recall departures, a bitter downpour
for betrayal. As if the first thing
a man wants to do when he learns his wife
is sleeping with his best friend, and has been
for years, the very first thing
is not to make a drink, and drink it,
and make another, but to walk outside
into bad weather. It’s true
that the way we look doesn’t always
reveal our feelings. Which is a problem
for the movies. And why somebody has to smash
a mirror, for example, to show he’s angry
and full of self-hate, whereas actual people
rarely do this. And rarely sit on benches
in the pouring rain to weep. Is he wondering
why he didn’t see it long ago? Is he wondering
if in fact he did, and lied to himself?
And perhaps she also saw the many ways
he’d allowed himself to be deceived. In this city
it will rain all night. So the three of them
return to their houses, and the wife
and her lover go upstairs to bed
while the husband takes a small black pistol
from a drawer, turns it over in his hands,
the puts it back. Thus demonstrating
his inability to respond to passion
with passion. But we don’t want him
to shoot his wife, or his friend, or himself.
And we’ve begun to suspect
that none of this is going to work out,
that we’ll leave the theater feeling
vaguely cheated, just as the movie,
turning away from the husband’s sorrow,
leaves him to be a man who must continue,
day after day, to walk outside into the rain,
outside and back again, since now there can be
nowhere in this world for him to rest.

by Lawrence Raab

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mental Notes: Weird apartments, anyone?

My best friend once rented an apartment that looked like a hall, with the kitchen and dining area at the right and the bedrooms at the left. The living room looked like the lobby of a clinic that had something that looked like a stage. It also had an odd orange kitchen that had shelves that look like they were a display cabinet for a store.

I have to be frank. I never really had to rent an apartment until my later 20s. I moved to Manila and found a studio apartment that had this tiny room that felt more like a storage room than a bedroom. But the studio was better than the one I found in a condo that was just square with no windows.

Until that time, I never really considered how strange some apartments can get.

I am now living in a country where people generally live in buildings due to the land area. It is a modern city, but as I went apartment-hunting (something I've done about three times since I moved here) -- I found that there is no shortage of strange apartments.

Fact is stranger than fiction. Before I got my first apartment here, I went through the tedious task of viewing several flats.

One of the firsts an agent took me to was at the top floor of this really old, filthy building. The apartment was supposed to have a good city view. Unfortunately, it was too much of a view.

The apartment had huge office-sized windows that ran through two sides of the apartment -- which included the toilet and bath.

While I appreciated the view -- I didn't really relish the idea of the city getting full view of me in the shower.

Nevermind that the kitchen was right in front of the bathroom door. You can't get down to business at all without the whole world knowing what you're up to...and that includes what you do in the confines of that apartment. Either that or spend a several hundred dollars on heavy drapes or blinds.

But this was just one of them. Another apartment I viewed was in a cozy location, but had a very odd layout. There was plenty wrong with this one too, however what stood out was the bathroom that looked like a hall. It was a step up from the rest of the apartment, and you are greeted by the shower. In another step up is the 'throne' where I could have my royal subjects bring my pipe, bowl and fiddlers three.

There are plenty more stories where that came from, but here is a nice blog of strange houses you may want to stay away from -- not necessarily in one city/country.

The apartment here is one of the several weird flats that will make you think -- what the heck were they thinking?!?!?!

Because sometimes it can be lonely on the throne...