Selamat Datang

30 05 2009

Jakarta is the city of shiny shopping malls and mad rush hour traffic. It’s like Manila so I kinda feel at home. This trip just got extended for a week and I almost wish I had planned for Bali too. Maybe next year. More news after a trip to Jogja later.

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Careless whisper

23 05 2009

While Kinatay is getting butchered to pieces in Cannes, I decided to see one of Mendoza’s earlier films, Tirador (Slingshot, duh). If this was fielded for competition instead of that polarizing entry this year, he would probably have drawn more fans. Tirador is a chaotic slice of life about a bunch of petty crooks in a seedy Manila neighborhood set against a viciously hopeless socio-political context. Quiapo, perhaps Manila’s most interesting district, stars.

War and Peace is a long, long book. The edition I bought (at P219 pesos!) is 1350 pages long. It’s a rare kind of fiction: part novel, part historical fiction, part poetry, 100% epic. Despite its apparently frustrating length and a confusing set of characters who have multiple names that are often shared by many, it is quite an easy, entertaining read. Tolstoy is a realist genius, masterfully moving across scales, spaces and perspectives. At some point we get cringe-worthy moments (e.g. Rostov rescuing Princess Marya from the peasants like a knight in shining armour) but the whole work is consistenly exceptional otherwise, taking time to establish historical and fictional events and characters.





Sapal

19 05 2009

I took a book and went into the forest
I climbed a hill, I wanted to look down on you
But all I saw was 20 miles of wilderness so I went home

-Belle and Sebastian, If She Wants Me

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Watching Season 4 of The Wire (greatest season of the greatest show ever) made me nervous about teaching in an American school. Yikes. Thankfully Texas is no Baltimore.

Three weeks of alcohol abstinence is not good. I feel the need to drink more to make up for lost time.

The past few days of pre-departure orientations have taught me of the need to learn how to cook, drive, be on time and speak with a twang when in the US. Months of stress-free zen will be making way for whatever is the opposite of stress-free zen.

In other news, no matter how hard I try, it just won’t completely go away. Tough luck. Maybe tomorrow.





Kitamu

10 05 2009

Water Curses, like all great Animal Collective songs, is chaotic, crowded, catchy and clever. See it for yourself.

Did some research about the uni which will be my home for the next four years or so. Some good and bad things.

Cons:

TAMU. Of the five Geography Departments I was applied for, this was only the 4th best.
Summer heat and humidity. Especially scorching in mid to late summer. As if I have not had enough of this here.
Conservative. Probably the opposite of UT (liberal uni) in Austin (America’s most libertarian city).
Flat and featureless. At the southern end of the Great Plains. Not as picturesque as nearby areas.
Car-centric. Difficult to be mobile without a car.
Lack of culture. Very little art, theater and good music. Can be boring especially during summer when the place becomes a ghost town.
Aggie mania. Unparalleled football obsession

Pros:

TAMU. One of the top 100 unis in the world and in the top 50 in the US. Dynamic Geog department.
Sunny weathers and mild winters. The Texas sun should drive away any depression.
Very livable. Low cost of living, low unemployment, low crime rate, family friendly.
Friendly and diverse people. Despite its reputation for being conservative, it is quite diverse. Texas is also famous for its hospitality.
Location. Two hours from Austin (‘Live Music Capital of the World’ and an eccentric, hippie city) and Houston (4th largest in the US and quite cosmopolitan).
The outdoors. Numerous nice parks and opportunities to enjoy nature.
Barbecues. They taste good!

But who knows? We’ll see.





An apple a day

5 05 2009

Be kind to me or treat me mean
I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine

-Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

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A sweet little song from Fiona to wash away all the bitterness in the world. Byootipul!





Last Suffer

3 05 2009

Suffered a horrible, high fever on Friday after receiving two painless (though not in the pockets!) immunization shots. Slept for 16 hours that day, which naturally was balanced out by insomnia the following night. After futile attempts to sleep, at sunrise I decided to give in to a nagging Jollibee longganisa breakfast craving (in yet another case of sudden, inexplicable pork longing).

Suffered a mild panic attack earlier this week when I learned that I may actually leave a full month earlier than August. Yikes. Way to ruin plans. Still so many things to do:

1. Shop, shop, shop! New clothes. New laptop. New DSLR lens (my photographic skills are stagnating and it’s the kit lens’ fault).
2. Secure visa etc.
3. Go to Calaguas. This has to happen.
4. See Borobudur. Crossed fingers. Early June.
5. Finish the second half of War and Peace. Yeah, good luck.
6. Win the unofficial billiards tournament. Of course, it doesn’t have to be said anymore but still.
7. Partehs.
8. Say goodbyes to loved (and hated and ignored and loved-then-hated-then-ignored) ones. Naks. Ack. Yak.

Hatton suffered at the hands (and gloves!) of Manny Pacquiao, the true Renaissance man! Boxer, recording artist, commercial model, TV host, film actor, almost (and future?) politician, the Godfather, multi-millionaire, father of a Princess and a Queen, and son of a Diosa. Pacman for President! Jinky for First Lady! I mean, you know!