2005 May | baratillo @ cubao : www.baratillo.net

baratillo @ cubao : www.baratillo.net

An hour or two inside a book store

Posted in Readings by juned on the May 31st, 2005

Last weekend I found myself going to National Book Store Superbranch, the one beside Gateway Mall, in Cubao. I was curious about the second hand books on sale at the top most floor of the bookstore. I mentioned this a few entries back and noted that there was huge deluge of books and other stuff from WHSmith that had found its way to NBS Superbranch, at half the price. There might be some “new” books and other things on sale. Also I was interested in seeing how the old superbranch has been faring since the new bookstores, Fully Booked and A Different Book Store, opened.

Being the end of May it was no surprise that the 1st floor of NBS was taken over by school supplies and families preparing for the incoming school season were busy buying notebooks and plastic covers.There were more people on the 1st floor than the rest of the floors combined. Well NBS earns its money from school and office supplies than books it would seem. Anyway on my way up noticed the usual denizens of the book section browsers and the habitual installment readers. Also present was NBS praetorian guard reminding the patrons, who were reading and sitting down, that they were not allowed to read the books. I guess the great come down to NBS and read experiment was deemed a failure, the reigning powers discontinued the policy. But how will you buy a book if you cannot even browse the pages? Granted there may be individuals who will habitually mooch-read but that is why you have display copies. A far cry from A Different Book Store where they virtually rip the plastic cover off the books and invite you to peruse the book.

At last I found myself on the previously owned book section of the superbranch and the whole floor was filled up with books formerly from WH Smith and other book stores. The CDs were gone what was left was rows and rows of books, one could fill up three bookstores with the books on that floor. A lot of Terry Prachet Books, A couple of Star Wars book, A Series of Unfortunate Events, cook books and several hardbound books priced at half their original price. The Star Wars and other sci-fi stuff paperbacks were at least cheaper by atleast 100 pesos.

After walking and looking over the books for an hour I decided to buy three books.

The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World Greatest Diarists. Edited by Irene and Alan Taylor.Canongate Book.Edinburgh, Scotland. UK. 2000.

The first time I saw the book was in a bookstore near Liverpool Station in the UK. Needless to say I failed to buy it and instead I purchased a dictionary of euphemisms and a trump card set of the Simpsons. I thought I would never be able to buy this thick but light book. The book is divided into 12 chapters for each month of the year and entries are arranged according to the day they were written. It is like reading one big diary or a blog. Famous and infamous diarists are featured in this anthology.

Radio Times Guide to Science Fiction Films, TV, & Radio. Edited by Kilmney-Fane Saunders. 2001. UK

The book lists down nearly all Science Fiction films, radio shows and television programs before 2000. The list is comprehensive and includes: ratings, format availability, microreviews, photos, trivia, cast, director, short write-ups on select SF luminaries, and a SF quiz that spans the ages. A good reference for people who appreciate SF films, tv shows, and radio programs.

Learn Chinese: Ten Minutes A Day - A complete learning kit

This selection shows my frustration with learning a new language. I have always been fascinated by other languages and have always been a frustrated learner. How was Rizal able to cope with it? According to the history books he learned more than nine languages. I guess one day with perseverance.

All books were priced at 300 to 350 pesos each. A good buy considering all would have cost four times as much in regular book stores.

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  • La Visa Loca

    Posted in Arts and Entertainment, Politics and Culture by juned on the May 27th, 2005

    There were people queued at the entrance of Cinema 6 in Gateway Mall and they were not lined up for “Revenge of the Sith”. They were there to watch the Mark Meily’s latest movie “La Visa Loca”.

    Originally I had planned to watch it at 5.00 pm but I got too engrossed with writing and surfing the Internet that I forgot the time. I left the office at at around 4:20 and reached MRT-Ayala 4:40. Got on the train along with a sea of people leaving Makati. Fortunately I found myself situated in the area of the train where the two cars meet. This is usually the most comfortable spot when travelling the MRT. However, in front of me was a man who seemed to have been infected with a lesser and more benigh strain of the ebola virus. Needless to say he was coughing and spreading the germs through-out the car.

    Poor guy was sick but I was also getting sick because of his coughing. Images from the movie “Outbreak” filled my thoughts. To be honest and fair the guy was trying to cover his mouth but he was really ill and could not help it. A few moments later the train had reached the Araneta station.

    The usual scene greeted me when I left the station and proceeded to Gateway mall. I came across stalls selling children’s books and other stalls selling street foods like shawarma, goto and cold drinks. Then just as I passed them by and just in front of the entrance to Farmers Plaza, an older mall connected to gateway (the malls in Cubao seem to be turning to hives), the blind troubadors welcomed me with their songs. All this before submitting for inspection my bag to the local security guard.In a few minutes after passing by several more shops and crossing over the road via an elevated walkway I was at my destination, Gateway…unto Cinema 6.

    I came in late and ended up watching the 7:00 pm screening. Cinema 6 is not as grand as Cinema 5 but it was comfortable. The seats were cushy and the air-conditioner lowered the temperature to a comfortable level. Just before the preview and the screening they played music crooned by the Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and company, not quite sure though if it was Michael Buble. The music blended in nicely with the cool ambiance of the cinema. A far cry from the time I was waiting for the movie to begin and was treated to music from Stars on 45.

    Mark Meily’s follow-up to “Crying Ladies” is a nice movie but in my opinion not as better as the first one.

    The movie begins with people lined up and being interviewed by a immigration officer of the US Embassy. Characters that we see are comic caricatures of Filipinos who want to leave the Philippines. One of the applicants we see Jess, Robin Padilla. Unfortunately, his application for a visa was denied.

    The same scene in the preview of the movie seemed funnier. Maybe its just the case of seeing the same joke twice. It suffers from the law of diminishing return.

    The movie tells the misadventures of Jess in his quest to get a visa in order to work in the United States. Jess (I am not quite sure what is the correct term but his profession lies somewhere between a nurse and a caregiver.)works as a driver for a hotel car service to make ends meet.

    Complicating and making Jess’ struggle interesting are the characters and situation that surrounds him. A grouchy, brutally frank and partially deaf diabetic father who depends on him. A girl friend who is already in the US and forever supporting-badgering him to follow her there. The reappearance of his former girl,who works as a “mermaid” in a local carnival, and what he ulimately suspects as his love-child.

    Through out the movie Jess tries nearly all schemes in order to get a visa. And in the end he finds himself in a situation that I guess nearly all of us leaving and working in another country has to face.

    All actors in the film were credible and gave depth to their parts. Padilla ,who became famous for his anti-hero roles in action movies, validly portrays the angst and tragic but relentless determination of Jess to get a visa. Johhny Delgado also fitted the role of Jess’ father to t. Its rare to see a film, a Filipino film with a very competent cast.

    Like Crying Ladies the film’s production values were superb. If you are going to watch a Mark Meily film the most unlikely thing to see is bad production value.

    The movie itself was punctuated with several comic scenes highlighting the interaction between the characters. However, they do not seem to be as funny as the scenes or sketches in Crying Ladies. Meily also used a Greek chorus, Noel Trinidad, Tessie Tomas, Robert Cena, Isay Alvarez and, to highlight Jess’s plight. The Greek Chorus here is not quite effective and funny as Jon Red’s use of a guitar singer in his film short “Still Lives”.

    In conclusion, the film although polished technically and acting wise excellent seem to be a few shades paler than Crying Ladies. Padilla and cast gives an excellent performance and it would be a joy to see them in the future involved in such projects.

    In the cinema around three people left during the middle of the screening. They were sporting baseball caps and the latest in basketball shirt and short fashion. You cannot please everyone.

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  • The interview game

    Posted in Politics and Culture by juned on the May 26th, 2005

    A five question interview. Interesting exercise. I wonder would this be considered a meme?

    I have just finished all of the questions. Again an interesting task. You are free to try it out, the rules can be found at the end of this post.

    1. The world is sharply divided in terms of cola loyalty. Are you a Cokehead or a Pepsi-fiend or something different altogether?

    I guess 90% of the time my brand loyalty would be to Coke. Its the softdrinks I grew up it. I still remember the old coke song “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing In Perfect Harmony”, such a nice catchy tune. Then of course Coke for me seems to be more stronger than Pepsi. I guess its the sugar. Or as my old friends told me its synthetic cocaine they put in Coke. As you well know the first time Coke came out it was marketed as a tonic and one of its main ingredient at that time was cocaine.

    I wonder what the original coke-laced coke tasted like…

    Today, for health reasons, people who are aware of their health conditions and predispositions favor Diet Coke or Coke lite or whatever new sugar-free variant is set loose in the market. However, over consumption of the sugar-free beverage still pose a health risk, it may do damage to your liver and other internal organs I think.

    Then again there are times when you cannot help it but taste the regular coke, iba pa rin ang lasa.

    Coke has 90% of my loyalty. Ten percent of the time to add variety in the consumption of sodas I do shift or drink Sarsi and Diet Sarsi.

    One thing I mentally picked up at while viewing the Lifestye channel when drinking soda sip do not gulp.

    2. If a film were to be made of the more interesting highlights of your life up until this point, what type of film would it be? What would be the breakout song from the film’s OST (original sound track)?

    Something like a Forest Gump movie - hopefully without me being the Gump character, possibly a Lt Dan. My life if ever there was anything exciting happening would be always against the backdrop of the changing times. I was born during the last years of the Philippine republic; I grew up in the Martial Law Years; Learned my craft during the decline of Marcos and the rise of Aquino; Enjoyed the good times and endured hardship under the mantle of global cold war politics; Became a cannon fooder for different politicians -stormed Malacanang when Marcos left and enjoyed the vacations from school provided by the different putsch instigated by the military elements of society. I guess you could say I… we live in interesting times and we lived.

    Break-out song hmmm the Coke song? Or Carl Orff’s “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi” from “Carmina Burana” or a new rendition of Eric Idle’s “Always Look At The Bright Side of Life”. Or Yoyoy Villame’s “Butchikik” would be fine.

    3. What’s your birth order? Did it play a part in the formation of your personality, of who you are today?

    Gemini under Western Astrology and Fire Goat under Chinese Astrology. It did not really play a crucial part of my ego and id. You know it is kind of interesting to learn that you have this and that trait because you were born at this time and day but most of the time it is just incidental. An interesting side trip or meandering in the road of life. I believe its the people one meets along the way that play an important part in the shaping of this journey we call life.

    4. If you make love to your clone, is that incest, homosexuality or masturbation? All of the above?

    Most of the time I would think its just masturbation. You are having sex with an exact replica nothing new to explore or see. Plain physical stimulation. If the clone is of the same sex. But if it is of the opposite sex. Well technically its inbreeding and so I guess incest and I would not want to be the one to be the cause of a Dunwich Horror. Even if proper measures would be taken the thrill would be gone, imagine yourself looking like the opposite sex, in my cause it would be revolting site.

    5. What is the oldest phone number you recall? If we dial it right now, who will answer?

    997796. No one would answer it. Its our old phone number. A few years agothe number was changed because PLDT went digital or upgraded to some new technology at the time, may touchtone. And even though the phone line changed its number its dead now, a victim of those party calls. Interesting things about those phones before were the party lines and prank calls. Also that game on 2 TV pow.

    Here is the instructions on how to play this game I pasted here verbatim from Dean Alfar’s post. I would be happy to interview you as lomg you follow the rules.

    Here are The Official Interview Game Rules:

    1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying “interview me.”
    2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person’s will be different.
    3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
    4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

    If you don’t have a blog, I will still ask you 5 unique questions and you can post your answers here.