Well, what a month it had been. One fourth of October was spent in Sri Lanka, two-fourths at home, unemployed. Read: I had quit my job of 2+ years! That job was my comfort zone, and stepping out of it, into an unknown future, is both extremely terrifying and satisfying.
I’ve had a lot of anxiety about it before, and I still do now, but the fact that I actually did something keeps me going. I guess it’s a little bit like a premature quarter life crisis. I am turning 23 and I don’t want to be spending my birthday in the same situation as I have in the past two years. It just doesn’t feel right. I have to be elsewhere, regardless if that place is better or worse. Moving on to other things…
This cute coffee place recently opened near our house (about a 10-15 min jeepney drive away) and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about it. I’ve always wanted to work in a coffee shop (idk, it’s just something I wanna do), and this place offers free wifi so it is beyond perfect. I can leave the house after lunch, order some green tea latte (the only good thing on their menu, trust me), and leave around dinner time. I love working there because I’m forced to actually get work done – or risk getting judged for hogging the outlet just for Facebook.
I have never been to Batangas before. And this month I went for two consecutive weekends! The first one is in Pico Sands Hotel with my relatives, and the second is in Playa Laiya with college batchmates.
I’d like to note that for both instances, we went to the beach to play card games! My cousins and I played Cards Against Humanity and Avalon, while my college batchmates and I played Uno Spin. Damn I wish I can go to the beach every weekend.
Apologies for the title that is shitty and my lame attempt at being witty. That rhymed. /hides in a corner
I’d like to believe that I’m not a very superstitious person. However, I also can’t help but think that some part of the universe is involved when the tv show I watched, the book I read, and my actual life all share a common theme.
A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading Microserfs, a book about a group of ex-Microsoft employees who moved to Silicon Valley to form their own startup company. Last week, I watched two seasons of Silicon Valley, an HBO sitcom about a guy who left his job at a huge tech corporation, to start.. guess what. His own startup company. And currently, I work for a startup company that also happens to be a Microsoft Partner and distributor. It’s divine providence!
Or maybe like one of those convoluted conspiracy theories you read online (side note, I came across this Swiftgron theory that says Dianna Agron and Taylor Swift dated! Swiftgron sounds like a Pokemon but whatever, I ship it. Speaking of which: we went on a Pokemon Go adventure in Singapore and it was awesome!)
Anyway, the universe may or may not be telling me something. But hell I love it when coincidences like these happen.
I initially read this book thinking that it’ll be like what The Internship is to Google. Endless tales of free food, bean bags and awesome facilities that will make you hate your packed lunch and your 2.25 sqm cubicle. But, thank goodness, it’s not. It’s very much closer to reality, which says a lot, considering that it was a life before Facebook, iPhones, and Google (well, technically, Google was only three years young in the year the book was published).
“Why do we always underestimate our shipping schedules?” This. Aside from coding, I am inclined to believe that developers are also very fond of digging their own graves by setting unrealistic deadlines.
“A good piece of technology dreams of the day when it will be replaced by a newer piece of technology. This is one definition of progress.”
The moments when the characters pause to reflect and ramble about random stuff are my favorite parts. But that is just one of the many good things about this book. The story is solid, and you finish the book feeling optimistic somehow.
On Silicon Valley
And then there’s Silicon freakin’ Valley. This show. Funny, but also stressful as hell. I mean, I don’t know why I’d expect anything else from the same channel that gave us Game of Thrones, but man I was not prepared for this.
Richard, the CEO of Pied Piper, just cannot catch a break. It is one obstacle right after the other, and I think it’s more stressful than GoT because it is all too familiar! I’m rooting for him so badly! (Except when I sneaked a peak into Season 3. It seems like he is turning into another anti-hero Heisenberg type of thing.)
Some interesting details to note:
In the world of tech, Manny Pacquiao — champion boxer, singer, basketball player, and, most importantly, homophobic Senator (insert sad disgusted face here) — is still, unfortunately, a big figure.
“I don’t know about you people, but I don’t want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do.” LOL
I just had a realization that HBO was willing to produce a show about five guys who aren’t exactly attractive! I mean, why can’t they do this for female leads? Look at HBO’s GIRLS. A show about four women, okay. But all of them are white, and two of them has to be really freakin’ attractive. (I’m not saying I hate GIRLS, I love that show, it’s just a perfect example for my point.)
I’ve previously rambled on about how all our consumption (by reading/travelling/watching) hardly has any effect on how good of a person you really are. But this hasn’t stopped me from doing aforementioned activities. In fact, I’ve set myself ambitious goals for last year. I wanted to watch a hundred movies and read half a hundred books. And last year is the first time after two years of success that I failed my reading challenge. It’s very easy for me to blame work, and to an outside person that seems like a rational claim, but I know how much idle time I have in general and how much of that I spend on things other than reading.
I remember a character from The Secret History saying “It is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially.” This is my attempt to know intimately all the recent shit I spend my time on. The connections that I find can either be fate, or my cheap shot at trying to bring sense and order to the unremarkable chaos that is my life (oh, and SPOILER ALERT):
Birdman x Whiplash I watched both these movies within a week and did so with only vague knowledge of what the movies are all about. I didn’t know that they explored the same themes and had so many similarities it’s uncanny: both protagonists aim to become legends. In Birdman, the guy is a has-been who gives one last try to rectify that label. In Whiplash, the guy, the cutie that he is, aims to become one of his idols. Both very ambitious aims, both requiring unimaginable means. In trying to reach their goals they sacrificed their relationship with their loved ones, they sacrificed their health, and one can even say they sacrificed their sanity. So both of them succeed, but only sort of. Birdman’s play is a success but he ends up shooting himself in the head, requiring a new nose, and, finally, jumping off the hospital window. Whiplash guy is given the chance to perform again, is sabotaged, and, is compelled to perform until his hands bled, until the end credits appear.
If you have deep love for books and reading (like I do), but are perennially broke (like I am), then you have come to the right place, my friend. Even though I have loved reading since forever, my serious book hoardingcollecting buying started only in college — a time when monthly allowances are plentiful and lunch breaks are scant.
Thanks to my newfound freedom back then, I got to explore different places in search of the great perhaps The Best Book Bargain. Here are my favorites in my favorite ranking (price: lowest first):
1. National Bookstore Warehouse Sales (price range: PHP 10-PHP 75)
One of the proudest moments of my life is when I managed to score sixteen (16!) books for only PHP 360. The best thing about the NBS Warehouse Sale is that aside from the huge markdown in the prices, there are still discounts when you get to the counter. For example, if you buy 3 books that are worth PHP 25 each, there’ll be another 50% off the total price. That’s PHP 38 for 3 books! Basically the more books you buy, the bigger your savings.
The second best thing about this is that they put popular titles on sale too. You do have to look long and hard for it, though. It’s a rewarding treasure hunt for the cheapskate bookworm. To get updates on where/when the next NBS Warehouse Sale will be, like their Facebook page.
2. Booksale (price range: PHP 10-PHP 50)
Speaking of treasure hunts, Booksale comes second in making you work hard for your bargain. I’ve been to about ten Booksale branches and I’ve observed that they strategically place their cheapest books in The Lowest Shelves. And you never know what you’re going to get in The Lowest Shelves.
Popular and good titles are fairly hard to come by, and when they do, they cost PHP 100 or more. It helps to have a personal limit to how much you are willing to pay for such books. My self-imposed budget only allows me to spend no more than PHP 175 for the books I really like (I bought White Teeth and Wonder Boys for the same price), and no more than PHP 400 for coffee table books.
Okay, probably the biggest enemy of the avid online shopper is a little thing called shipping fee. Here’s how I deal with that: I make sure to buy more than one book from one seller (the more, the better), then I would divide the shipping fee with the number of items I will buy. Next, I add the result to the price of each book and only then do I decide whether it’s worth it or not. For example, I plan to buy 3 books from one seller for PHP 50 each. I divide the shipping fee, which is usually PHP 90, by 3, then add the result to the price of each book. I end up with PHP 80/book. Not bad, right? Here are my tried-and-tested favorite book sellers on ebay: temichico, curly2454, and temichi_on_sale.
4. Powerbooks ATC (price range: PHP 20-PHP 100)
The Powerbooks ATC branch carries a lot of local titles that are on sale. I managed to score a Jessica Zafra for only PHP 20! My wallet loved it.
Ideally, this is where I channel my inner Michiko Kakutani. But let’s be real: I love the following books (technically, comics and a book) so much that I won’t be able to give an objective review of it all. I have so many feelings and not enough eloquence to express them, unfortunately. All I want to say is that this is more like a rambling of an over-zealous fangirl and less than a review of a literary critic. Let this serve as a warning. Also: spoilers, lots of ’em, ahead!
1. The Wicked + The Divine
This is an on-going comic series by my new heroes, McKelvie and Gillen. The 3rd issue(? episode? I don’t know) just came out so everybody has plenty of time to catch up. It’s about a group of gods and goddesses who come alive and wreak havoc after every 2 years (an event also known as the recurring).
Everything is rendered so beautifully. The characters are mostly young adults but without the annoying YA stuff (well, except for the protagonist, but I feel like her angst is added for comic relief).
I’m crazy about their version of Lucifer (called ‘Luci‘). So much so that I already figured out who can play her if this is ever adapted to live action.
Dianna Agron from that The Killers video
The writing is spot-on. I might be a little biased, though, because I’ve already established that I’m a huge fan of Gillen’s writing. Most of the mythological stuff goes over my head. It’s still very much enjoyable in spite of this. Gillen can explain TWATD’s charm better: “It’s a world we’ve created to lose yourself in, to become addicted to, to find yourself in.“
2. The Goldfinch
I skimmed the synopsis of this book on goodreads and for some reason I thought that this is a modern fantasy novel. Kinda like Gaiman’s Neverland. At around 3/4 of the book I started doubting myself so I decided to finally read the synopsis very carefully. Bottom line: I am an idiot. This book is nothing like I expected it to be. And this is probably why this book is going to stay with me for a long time. It’s similar to how Special Topics in Calamity Physics and Rant surprised me and just blew my mind.
This book follows the life of Theo Decker starting from when his mom died. She died in a terrorist bombing in a museum, a few feet away from her son. Theo brings home a painting called The Goldfinch and this painting is what turns his life around. Like The Wicked + The Divine, I made an imaginary (and impossible) cast if this book ever gets adapted into a movie (which, I hope doesn’t happen, honestly).
Theo Decker and Boris: Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, respectively
I included pictures of the two from when they were younger so you could see how right I am with this one. As seen in Fight Club, Norton is amazing as a whiny, sad guy, while Brad Pitt is a great happy-go-lucky guy like Boris. They’re perfect! Oh, if we only have a time machine. See the rest of the fictional cast here.
3. Phonogram Volume 2: The Singles Club
Another Kieron x McKelvie! What!!! But this series is something that I would recommend to everyone, even to non-comic readers. This and Daytrippers, I mean, aside from introducing me to The Pipettes, this comic series introduced me to a whole array of feelings for music that I did not recognize before. My most favorite story is in the second issue, wherein the power of music made a guy sort of re-live his former relationship.
I realized how music lets you time travel. Back in my 3rd year in college, I found an mp3 player that I used in high school. It contains so many mixtapes, I was obsessed with downloading mixtapes back then. Now I just 8tracks that shit. Anyway, it has a lot of nostalgic songs from The Hush Sound, Imogen Heap, The Bravery, etc!! When I listened to it again I felt like a high school student again.
But back to the Phonogram, I suggest you just read it. Or if you really don’t have time, just read the second issue of the series. I ramble more about this here.
“The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story.”
– Yann Martel
A couple of weeks have passed since I finished this book. I promised myself I’m going to write a book review about it, only because I couldn’t seem to stop recommending it to my friends. I had a bad case of book hangover. It’s strange to note that while the popularity of its film adaptation is what drove me to read this novel; I cannot bring myself to watch the film just yet. Now here we are. The reasons why I was so smitten by it are now blurred, but I’m going to try writing it anyway.
Life of Pi follows the misfortunes adventures of Piscine Patel (a.k.a Pissing) a.k.a Pi. His family owned a local zoo in India. His childhood and teenage years are filled to the brim with stories about animals, religion, and life itself. This all changed when his family decided to leave their little paradise in India for Canada.
When I say that I am a 13 yr. old boy stuck in the body of a 19 yr. old, some part of me isn’t kidding. I slipped right into Pi’s shoes with little effort. Even though we barely had anything in common technically (except for an awesome name ruined by kids who didn’t know any better, just kidding), I was able to relate to him immediately. It is obvious that in a fight between men vs. nature; we’ll always root for the underdog: humankind. However, this isn’t the only reason why the protagonist of the story is somebody that the reader will root for. Pi’s character is very refreshing. His sincere and simple view of the world got me awe-struck. The curiosity he has for different religions is something that is present in me. His vivid description of the animals, the zoo, India itself, filled me with the same wonder that one gets when travelling a foreign place.
It took two consecutive dreams of dyeing my hair blue for me to turn this to a reality. Off to Quiapo I –alone– go. I couldn’t say it’s a coincidence that this spur of the moment decision happened at the same day I planned to buy Trip to Quiapo.
I finish school at 3 PM every Wednesday afternoon. This particular one is no different from the others: mercilessly, searingly warm. The dust from the road hang suspended in the unbelievably heavy midday air. Every where I look the sunlight seem to just attack my eyes. Distraught and already regretting my decision, I rode a jeepney.
I found out about a salon supplies shop along Hidalgo from a friend. Hidalgo is no new destination for me, I’ve been here a couple of times last year, thanks to my Photography class. This, however, is the first time I went alone.
Bought blue and violet hair color, both turned out too dark for my taste. This trip to Quiapo is not for naught, though. One can always derive a strange sense of being in control and independent from traveling alone. Just like what Trip to Quiapo implies, a one-way trip, when interpreted from varying perspectives, may mean more than just getting from point A to point B.