Only Lyrically

Month: January, 2010

“Digression!” (or 10 things I love about The Catcher In The Rye)

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1.  It is nice to read aloud.

2.  I find it funny how Holden always said stuff like, “no kidding”, or “I’m not kidding!”, or “really!”. It’s as if he’s always worried that nobody would believe him, or take him seriously.

3.  I am certain that it will never become a movie. Hmmm, I don’t know, I read somewhere ages ago that Salinger made some sort of will stating that he prohibits the book’s adaptation into a movie. Not that I do not want the book to be turned into a film, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I just like the certainty – because that would keep me from being anxious about who should direct, or play Holden, or make the music, or when I’ll ever get to see it. At least now I know I’ll never see it as a movie. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love how it will always be like this little movie in my head, and free to be cast by me. I used to think a young Leonardo DiCaprio, fresh from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and Total Eclipse, would make a good Holden. Yeah, well, there’s that will thing. And Leo’s all grown up now.

4.  I learned about it from Kurt Cobain, whom I read say that it was his favorite book. I was in high school, and the book was not even part of our English readings. I sought it on my own, and eventually, whenever I would encounter anyone who would say that he does not like to read really, I referred the book. And always, always, I get them to read it. And all the time, those non-readers loved it.

5.  It is made up of some classic killer lines. I won’t even enumerate them here. Going through the book, you’d feel like highlighting the whole thing.

6.  Holden does not deliberately attempt to make sense of things, or conclude. He can leave a thought hanging. Do I remember that right? Yeah. I guess.

7.  The Catcher In The Rye is a Bible of ironies –

8.  – and of unforgettable images. Phoebe’s red hunting hat which you can see from a mile away because no one misses that red hunting hat. Jane’s teardrop on the chessboard. Young men’s dormitories. New York City.

9.  It’s brave. Revolutionary when it first came out. And it paved the way for its kindred voices who dared to be (and all at the same time) wry and raging and cynical and cranky and mocking and aching and blue and true.

10. It’s true.

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[16/52]

interlude

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I have a feeling that entry on the Moz’ latest record will take a long time to get here.

It won’t be getting here until I have seen Carol.

I am listening to the soundtrack right now, as I write down these words.

How did they pack all this joy in this record? How did they do it?

Magic!

* * *

Since I first heard last year that the film is coming here, I have been waiting for it, waiting for it like I used to wait for Christmas and fireworks on New Year’s Eve, when I was a kid.

Then I heard about this soundtrack. And it has since been my companion in the wait.

I have been listening to it in Grooveshark. One of my co-writers, before she left our company, even stuck something in my computer to give me the same soundtrack, so I could listen to it even when the network is down.

Today, at work, we sort of have been forewarned that Grooveshark may be taken away any time soon, to speed up the network.

So not until today did I cram to find the soundtrack file that my co-writer stuck in my unit. And not until today did I learn how to play an mp3 file in this unit.

And  not until today did I realize that the version of the soundtrack I have been listening to in Grooveshark, despite my painstaking assembly of it, actually lacked one track — Worried Shoes. The soundtrack given to me had it. I immediately searched for it in the net and updated the Grooveshark list.

Just when I thought I’ve heard it all, comes another song.

My first order of business, as soon as I get myself a new guitar, will be to learn all these songs, and play and sing them all.

* * *

But that is not why I am writing now.

Ms. Diego answered my letter. She said I can come.

I feel like a song.

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[15/52]

interlude

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Before last year’s release was 2006’s Ringleader Of The Tormentors. And before that one was 2004’s You Are The Quarry — where the following song appeared:

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Sometimes, whenever I listen to Morrissey, I feel like it would be nice to ask him, “What in hell is your problem? You are Morrissey. Don’t you know that?”

Of course he knows. I don’t know. Now, to that forgotten record…

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[14/52]

interlude

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can’t wait for the wild rumpus to begin
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can’t wait to face Carol
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[13/52]

interlude

I have just sent a letter to a certain aimeediego@fullybookedonline.com, asking her if a certain 31 year old kid could come.

Saturday. Fully Booked Taguig. 3 to 5 p.m.

There will be games! Story telling! Snacks! Giveaways!

Of course I’ll leave the snacking and the gift-giving to the kids. 😀

I hope they’d let me go. I could sing them the songs. Maybe I could even bring a guitar!

Come one and come all, my fellow wild things!

“all is love, is love, is love!” “leave my troubles in the sand, i see water, i see land!” “heads up! heads up! heads up!”

LET THE WILD RUMPUS STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAART!!!!!!!

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[12/52]

supper

is courtesy of the Moz, who sings for it —

and what are those useless, motherf*cking jerks doing? They should be thrown off hard from the stage one by one.

This reminds me of his latest record which has been languishing in my CD trunk. Good thing the jerks who crashed in my geekdom missed that one. Up next, then.

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[11/52]

breakfast

A Pan De Manila recently opened at the street behind our building. I don’t know the name of the street, but it’s parallel to ADB Avenue and Emerald Avenue. I think.

So, recently too, there’s been a lot of free bread around here. One of our bosses has started calling it ‘bread benefit’. Around here we really laugh at it, whenever he says it.

One time I bought four pieces for only twenty pesos. And a small tin can of liver spread. And I made black coffee. It sustained me the whole day.

* * *

I guess one of my most memorable breakfasts would be that one where my grandmother, the one who raised me, went to school and brought it to me.

It was either February or March. I was six. Kindergarten graduation rehearsals. She had with her a plastic bag with a small bottle of mayonnaise and another bag, a brown paper bag.

The bottle of mayonnaise did not contain mayonnaise – it had good warm milk in it, ready for me to drink. And in the brown paper bag, three pieces of pan de sal, with coco jam spread on them.

No. That’s not one of the most memorable breakfasts I ever had. That’s the best. I should write more about my grandmother, Agatona, in the future. That lady was something.

* * *

So what would I have now? I have two packets of skyflakes in my drawer. And as always, instant coffee is flowing freely in the pantry. ‘Coffee benefit’, if I may borrow from the jokesters.

Only now do I appreciate that replenishing element that is in a skyflake. It used to puzzle me how mechanics or construction workers could do with just these crackers and a Royal, or a Coke.

Besides, it is much healthier to eat these crackers, a little at a time, as even suggested by the healthiest or the most health-conscious people I know.

Back in the courthouse, when I would be offered a cracker, I’d turn it down, because I thought it would be a waste to be given to me, who might not get satisfied from it.

Because back then, I engaged in what I used to call ‘kain bitay’. The one big meal for the entire day, taken in the morning. In older slang, it’s ‘altanghap’ (almusal-tanghalian-hapunan).

* * *

Those one big meals cost no more than twenty five bucks. They’re usually the ‘silog’ type of meals. The ‘silogs’ here at Pasig are a bit more expensive.

But back in Manila, my coffee was never free. Free coffee there, even the instant kind, which is all it would take to perk me up anyway, is a myth.

There were times, though, when there’d be instant coffee, or sausage slices, for free tasting in the supermarket in front of the courthouse building. But the store doesn’t open ‘til ten.

Here, now, it almost is.

I feel like having taho, actually. Best breakfast one could have when without sleep from writing overnight, especially over the weekend, hardly noticing Saturday and Sunday merge, until you hear the yell of ‘taho!’ From where I live now, the taho guy would be far off by the time you get to the ground floor.

Me and a friend posed in front of a Gucci store in Greenbelt once, so very late in the evening, and dressed nicely, while holding up taho cups. Another friend took a picture. “Midnight Snack at Gucci’s”, we call it. It may well have been already breakfast, too, though.

Good morning, Holly!

What was she eating there? And could that be coffee?

I’m downing my last cracker. Now, coffee.

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[10/52]

duma

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This is a reprint of the notice found in the Silliman University website:

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Call for Submission of Manuscripts to the
49th
Silliman University National Writers Workshop

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The Silliman University National Writers Workshop is now accepting applications for the 49th National Writers Workshop to be held May 3-21, 2010 in Dumaguete City.

This Writers Workshop is offering fifteen fellowships to promising young writers who would like a chance to hone their craft and refine their style. Fellows will be provided housing, a modest stipend, and a subsidy to partially defray costs of their transportation.

To be considered, applicants should submit manuscripts in English on or before March 19, 2010 (seven to ten poems; or three to five short stories; or three to five creative non-fiction essays). Manuscripts should be submitted in hard copy and on CD, preferably in MS Word, together with a resume, a recommendation letter from a literature professor or a writer of national standing, a notarized certification that the works are original, and two 2X2 ID pictures.

Send all applications or requests for information to Department of English and Literature, attention Dr. Evelyn F. Mascuñana, Chair, Silliman University, 6200 Dumaguete City.

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Duma, that myth.

It’s near Apo Island, too, they say. And the white sands of Cangmating, and Bayawan, and Dauin.

I wonder how I’d fare, just in case. I can’t swim.

I can wade, though.

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[9/52]

in the library, a museum

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Last Saturday, while I was in the school library doing some work at the graduate school internet nook in the second floor (yeah, that cold open space there at the reference section – ‘coz they are renovating and expanding the cybernook at the ground floor), a friend called and asked me to e-mail her ASAP a painting that is romantic, sensual, abstract, organic, at walang tao.

Apparently she and her co-workers needed it in their shoot or story conference or something. She’s into production.

I welcomed the challenge although I found the standards quite contradictory: how can something that’s supposed to be visual be sensual without showing bodies in contact? The specs are clear: walang tao. I did not even understand what she meant by organic until she explained it later in a follow-up phone call – there has to be something natural in it, like a plant perhaps, she said. Alright then, I thought.

Pero walang tao.

I ended up sending her a link to Marc Chagall’s Adam and Eve. And a link to Come Back To Bed by a certain Steve Atkinson. Adam and Eve is definitely abstract, organic (I believe those green stuff hanging overhead of the abstract figures are supposed to be leaves), sensual – I just don’t know about romantic. And I definitely violated the walang tao condition because abstracted as they are, there stood the naked bodies of Adam and Eve, two of the first tao on earth, right smack at the center of the painting.

As for Come Back To Bed, I just thought that maybe with that I could definitely satisfy them with the walang tao rule. A bed, deserted and undone after a night of love-making, is both romantic and sensual and walang tao. The rendition was not abstract, though. But it was painted using impressionist-like strokes. As for organic, I don’t remember any plant or thing of nature in that bed painting. Had they wanted bodies there, that would definitely make it organic.

Finally I sent a link to Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, too. Just in case they’d re-think the walang tao clause.

* * *

There are five artworks I love the most:

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai

Sacrifice Of Isaac (1598 version) by Caravaggio

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

The Son Of Man by Rene Magritte

The van Gogh is the first ever painting I ever liked, seeing it in encyclopedias as a kid. There’s something in how he made the sky swirl – it draws you in, it makes you spin – or so I thought as a kid. The Hokusai I like because I consider it a twin of the van Gogh sky. It is not even a painting – it is a woodblock print. The Caravaggio I like simply because I love the Isaac story, and Caravaggio’s 1598 version of the story is the one I find most visually arresting – natural yet otherworldy both at the same time. The golden Klimt, which I hold as the sexiest and most romantic painting I ever saw, is something that I first learned of from the film Dying Young, yeah, with the terminally ill Campbell Scott terminally in love with the golden-haired Julia Roberts. The Magritte I first saw from The Thomas Crown Affair of 1999 – and no artwork could have best captured the spirit of Thomas Crown but that man in that painting, with his face hid and with his twisted left arm.

Actually, there is another artwork, a drawing that I like. I have been looking for it but cannot find it in this world wide webby wilderness. It is this drawing of endless, inteconnected, inverted, twisted, infinite flights of stairs. I first encountered it in a geometry book, high school. Maybe one day I’ll finally re-discover it.

* * *

You know what would be another cool job apart from being a librarian (yeah, it’s cool being a librarian – Philip Larkin was one!)? Being a museum curator.

But of course being Thomas Crown tops them all.

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[8/52]

blues for a lavender

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On Wednesday night, I went home in really good spirits, because payday was announced to be a day earlier. I did not, afterall, need to implement some contingency plans. As usual, and to my half-shame and half-delight, He whom I often doubt did not fail to provide.

So, when I headed to the common kitchen of the place I’m renting to brush my teeth before finally resting, and saw that my lavender potted plant was gone from the cabinet assigned to me, I sort of felt like, “But my Lord, our day’s been almost perfect.”

I put off the brushing for a while. In place of my dear little plant was one of my neighbors’ plastic bath basket, a bilao, and a water heater pot. I removed the stuff from my cabinet, then stared at it for a while.

There was even no question of what to do anymore. I just could not believe that I actually have to be doing what I was about to do. Because I live with some jerks for neighbors. My landlord is an angel, actually, and has constantly been understanding and supportive, always asking me about my condition with heartfelt concern. I didn’t feel like bothering him anymore at that hour, but I have to do something –

because, in the first place, what has just happened would have not happened had I done something long ago, when I discovered that the jerks have been using my laundry basins without asking for my permission first. Later they took my laundry soap. Again I let it pass. Next they took my diswashing stuff. Again I let it pass.

So now, they took away my quiet little plant, technically the only living thing I live with, because, just maybe, I’ve somehow taught them that it’s all okay, no problem, go ahead, anyway, as always, I’ll just let it pass.

I let this happen, I thought – what a shame.

Yeah, those were my little heartbreaking thoughts as I stared at my almost barren kitchen cabinet.

I went back to my room. I looked for a clean sheet of paper to write on. To my surprise, I was actually out of white typing paper. I had to settle for colored papers. I went through one batch and sorted. Orange? No, too glaring. Pink? No, not pink, I’d look soft and not serious. I settled for a formal, dignified, Manila-colored one. Then I pulled out a blue pentel pen from a drawer and started writing.

As far as I remember, my note had the following lines:

“Ang cabinet pong ito ay itinalaga para sa akin.”

“Sana naman po ay respetuhin nyo ang espasyo ko.”

“Napapansin ko pong nagagalaw ang mga gamit ko (planggana, Tupperware, atbp.).”

“Nawalan na rin po ako ng sabon.”

“Pati po halaman na bigay pa sa akin ng isang kaibigan ay nawala na rin ngayon.”

“Sana naman po ay ‘wag nang maulit.”

I went out my room with the note and my little scotch tape dispenser in hand. I posted the note on my cabinet. Then I went on brushing my teeth, one hand on my waist, shaking from brushing while reading the note.

F*ck, I forgot to write they also took away my Scotch Brite!

Doing something still somehow made the day end perfectly. I went to sleep satisfied.

Guess what – when I woke up, and headed back to the kitchen to brush my teeth, my lavender was back.

I was so happy.

And what an effective note, I thought, maybe I ought to frame it!

Nah, I hope I never will have any need again for such kinds of notes.

I am never having any need again for such kinds of notes.

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[7/52]