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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

Interested in What I Create?


Saturday, January 31, 2009

entry arrow10:57 AM | Kuwento

I was watching Manolo Quezon in The Explainer a while ago in ANC. He had Grace Nono on, and they were talking about how to exactly promote the traditional oral literature we have in the country. I tuned in because I teach this as part of my extensive Philippine literature course. One of my problems in class has always been how to motivate -- naah, make would be the word -- my students do the reading. (Most don't read anymore, or can't be bothered, which is sad.) Manolo, however, made one observation that made me think: how ours is basically a "kuwento" culture -- so why not adapt our stories into audio books?

And I went: there's an idea.

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entry arrow8:19 AM | High Chair Issue 10

The tenth issue of High Chair’s online journal is now available. Edited by Kristine Domingo and EJ Galang, the new issue includes poetry by Jose Perez Beduya, Miguel Paolo Celestial, Dan Chiasson, Mikael de Lara Co, Henri Cole, Marc Gaba, Luisa A. Igloria, Thomas James, Oliver Ortega, Allan Popa, Joselito Delos Reyes, and Rosanna Warren. It also features essays and reviews written by Mesandel Arguelles, Conchitina Cruz, Adam David, Mabi David, Oliver Ortega, and Joseph de Luna Saguid.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

entry arrow12:05 AM | Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez and Jose Mari Jonathan Antonio Exhibit This Week in Dumaguete

People in Silliman University and Dumaguete City know them as capable administrators and academics, but Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez of the College of Performing Arts and Jose Mari Jonathan Antonio of the Students Organization and Activities Division share a private passion for painting and drawing. In Dr. Suarez's works in sinamay, she examines art as a kind of therapy. "My paintings are representations of what I consider to be beauty and triumph," she says. "They are an outcome of my truth with an acceptance that what is seen as a total picture includes also what is not seen, like ugliness, pain and frustration." For Mr. Antonio, his ink portraits of Silliman landscapes is a study of "contrasts and contradictions." Flowers and Ink is the first joint exhibition of their works.

The exhibit opens on Friday, 5:30 PM, January 30, at the Robert and Metta Silliman Library Main Exhibition Hall. It will run until February 13. It is open to the public on regular viewing hours.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

entry arrow9:21 PM | Annotations of the Now

I realize that I am blissfully unaffected by so many things now -- especially venality from some who have no idea about things (or people) they only see online. (I mean, seriously? You think those are real? Bwahahaha! They have noooooo idea what they're talking about. I'm going to let this rest with a snicker.)

I Facebooked last night that perhaps I've been partied out. Perhaps it was the rain, and I was tired. But I've been partying almost every single night since the beginning of December, not that I actively seek out these things. I don't. But there seems to be no stopping this barrage of invitations and happenings. I go because I just feel I need to live in the moment. I'm letting my Id take over things for a while now, after years of crippling reign by Ego. (I had to -- or else suffer the wraths.) I find that there is always a well-spring of inner energy that surprises even me. Last night, Razcel's pizza party turned into a mini-rave. Guess what time I came home. Tonight, I just came from another party, at Betty's. This one of a grown-up, sit-down sort, al fresco, in Betty's magnificent courtyard. Totally different. I was talking history and writing books with a fellow guest (a former professor of mine) seated at the same table as me. Kaiba naman. Pang-intellectual. And then tomorrow night, there's Belle's movie party at Gabby's. Am I really partied out? 'Di pa dagway. As long as there's good music and great company, this boy will fly.


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Monday, January 26, 2009

entry arrow6:33 PM | Poolside Interlude

Those early January days were the height of the beautiful madness. (It continues still, but the sheer heedlessness of those days have no parallel.) Day after night after day of song, wine, dance, laughter, friends, pasta. Everything on the lark, it was as if the universe itself was catering to the delight and momentum of old friends meeting, after years of ... nothing. (Only now are the pictures surfacing...) This was taken during Patrick's Instant Pool Party. They -- Quddus, Douglas, Joey, Gerard, Jasper, Claro, and Patrick -- were all inside getting ready for the wet night ahead.

Clee took me outside for some test shots...

... and wine in hand, the cold January air remarkably energizing...

... I pondered, and posed, and thought about how days and nights can change in an instant, sometimes without our complete understanding...

... and there's nothing left to do except enjoy the sacred moment.

Days later, I would understand more clearly why some things must be. It's just the universe taking care of us. It trusts us that sooner or later, we, too, would see the bigger picture.

[photographs by clee andro villasor]

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entry arrow7:03 AM | Life Sound

Perhaps it pays to take a second look at one of the most divisive films to premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival...

Brillante Mendoza's Serbis gets profiled in The New York Times by Dennis Lim. Excerpt from the article:

While Western audiences have generally not been scandalized by “Serbis,” some have been flustered by its sensory assault. This is a film in which the ambient sounds of traffic and peripheral conversations are not just ever present but almost distractingly loud.

“The sound designer kept saying it was too noisy and we had to turn it down, but I said no,” Mr. Mendoza said, adding that he made no effort to call for quiet on the set. “When journalists from Europe or the States ask me about it, I ask if they’ve ever been to those parts of Asia. That’s what it’s like, and you have to shout, because you can’t hear people. It’s life sound.”

Read the rest here.

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entry arrow2:10 AM | Thoughts Before Going to Sleep...

[... Love must be such a big deal. Because when you lose it, or when you see it transformed to a kind of loathing, the inevitable journey you undertake for yourself -- whether you acknowledge it or not -- is the search for an authentic Sensation. Something that throbs, something so full, so blissful, so colorful, so manic, so as to approximate the comforts and warmth of a lost embrace. The journey can drive you insane, if you're not careful. It can also drive you, if you let it, to a greater and nobler sense of how life must be lived ...]

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

entry arrow11:16 PM | Traveling in Space, Mind, and Time

There is no better way to go about life except to embrace the unexpected, to learn to fly without wings, and to strive to love despite the dangers of pain. [Photo by Gideon Caballes. Taken somewhere in the beautiful, unexplored regions of Boston Cafe Gallery, 3 January 2009.]

The beautiful weekend is over. These are my anthems for the possible Monday blues....

From Beached
By Orbital

Trust me. It's paradise.
This is where the hungry come to feed.
For mine is a generation that circles the globe,
in search of something we haven't tried before.
So never refuse an invitation.
Never resist the unfamiliar.
Never fail to be polite.
And never outstay your welcome

Just keep your mind open and
suck in the experience.
And if it hurts,
you know what? It's probably worth it

You hope, and you dream.
But you never believe that
something is going to happen for you.
Not like it does in the movies.
And when it actually does,
you expect it to feel different.
More visceral.
More real.

I was waiting for it to hit me.

Hit me.

I still believe in paradise.
But now at least I know
it's not some place you can look for.
'Cause it's not where you go.
It's how you feel for a moment in your life.
If you find that moment, it lasts forever.

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entry arrow9:37 PM | Poem for the Year of the Ox

Delighting in the Rain on a Spring Night
By Du Fu
Translated by Greg Whincup

The good rain
Knows the seasons.
It comes in the spring.

On the wind,
It infiltrates the night,
Moistening everything,
Soundless and fine.

Paths in the fields--
Dark with cloud.
Boats on the river--
Their lamps the only light.

In the morning,
There will be spots
Of wet red:
Flowers will be heavy
In the City of Brocade.

[emailed in by shirley lua]

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entry arrow8:59 PM | Five Absolutely New Things About Me That Surprise Even Me

[1] I can't stand television anymore. The endless banality of it all. I'd rather be listening to music. My TV set these days is mostly off. [2] I'm actually enjoying my classes these days... [3] I have two other mottos now that work for me: "Fuck it." And "Dance all problems away." Put these two up there with "Carpe diem," and you've got a truly lived life. [4] I am loving the fact that, little by little, I can now wear clothes I haven't worn in a long, long time. [5] I am fascinated by the way I smile too much these days. It's all-so-strange. But I'm not complaining.


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entry arrow6:44 PM | Sundays and the Art of Introspection

Sunday afternoons are my times of greatest comfort. The hours are particularly slow, and the kind of sunshine that abounds is the type that I find bearable. There is a softness to it that tells you everything is all right, even when the world threatens to consume you with all its rabid drama. Sundays have a way of banishing demons, and I am grateful for that. Most Sunday afternoons, I try to find a nook in the city quiet enough for me to be able to commune with my thoughts -- usually that is one corner of Don Atilano's while I drink a cup or two of what The New York Times has called the best coffee this side of the Philippines (this claim is very much open to your disagreement, of course). Most of the time, I catch up with my reading backlog while feeling the caffeine coursing through my veins. Sometimes though, I just listen to music, and think about what has happened in the past week, and what I must expect in the coming days. It's comfortably cleansing. I used to do this a lot a long time ago, and life was great then. Today, I think about last night's party in El Camino. How fun it was, and how packed with people -- mostly students who called me "sir" all night, although that did not stop me from enjoying myself and letting go. (I'm sure they must be surprised by all these -- good for them -- but I also know that when Monday comes, I'll be the same exacting professor once more, hehehe.)When I think about it, I have been partying too much the last month or so. Which makes me pause: Am I doing this to fill up a "hole" in my life, to make myself think that I am all right despite everything? I ask this because I know for a fact that all of us are capable of living out necessary delusions just to cope with the undercurrent of madness that typify our lives. Am I truly happy? Because I certainly feel so. Yet at the same time, I can't help but try to see whether aspects of this confession is just a lie to comfort myself.

So, let me think about it...

[Pregnant pause.]

Yep. I am happy.


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entry arrow3:15 PM | Sinulog Night at El Camino

Banda Manga was playing -- and so the collective unconscious of the rest of Dumaguete's party crowd settled on El Camino Blanco last night. The place was packed. Never got to hear much of Banda Manga, but the party stretched on till the wee hours. It totally made up for the lame night last Friday. I needed the rest of Sunday morning to recover. It was so worth it.

[photo swiped from gerard's facebook album]

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

entry arrow8:05 PM | Myx Emotions

Channel-surfing.... Accidentally pushes one button too long on my remote, to settle on the local music channel... Watching MYX is like feeling my brain implode, and then having what remains curdled and then shat on. The new veejays are oh-so-cute (that seems to be the only requirement to be a MYX veejay) -- they're all definitely eye candy for boring Saturdays where the only thing to do is become a couch potato -- but listening to Chino and Monica and Robi and Bianca making banter between videos is to witness the height of idiocy. It's all pa-cute, and nothing else. I just feel the urge to spank them.

Oh, God, Tesch was right. I am becoming bitchy these days. Bwahahaha!

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entry arrow3:43 PM | It's Complicated

I hear from Eating Out director Allan Brocka (from his post of his latest status message in his Facebook) that a man just killed his wife over her "single" status in her own Facebook page.

It gives new definition to that ultimate social-networking status, It's Complicated.

Tell me your Facebook relationship dilemmas, guys. Comment away!


The Pope weighs in on Facebook, welcomes it, but warns that "obsessive virtual socializing can isolate people from real interaction." Does he know what the heck he is talking about? I have never ever been this close to many of my friends, and it's all because of Facebook. The online interaction does extend to offline camaraderie, as a recent Time Magazine article pointed out.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

entry arrow6:43 AM | Dancing

I have discovered dancing again. For me, dancing signifies a concrete promise of freedom: permitting your body to sway and follow the rhythm, the flow of music -- this takes a kind of flight from our inhibitions, and one can never really dance well when all we think about are the people we imagine scrutinizing our moves. Dancing is a kind of meditation, really: a pulsating concentration that allows you to fly and to stay grounded at the same time. I like the way the music washes over me as I dance these days, whether in the dance floor of a bar, or alone in my room or in the company of friends: most of the time, I close my eyes, and just let my body do what it thinks it can do. The other day, and last night, it was Safri Duo that I was dancing to -- and when the "Adagio" track filled the room, I found that it somehow "completed" the way I am now. The track spoke to me more than bromides about love and living would or could. It has since become the soundtrack of my days, and I dance to it like a lover both bereft and hopeful. It is freedom to acknowledge that. The iconic image of my head of this very freedom comes from the film Playing By Heart, where Ryan Philippe's character dances in the middle of a crowded floor, alone, his eyes closed, his body lost in a trance. It makes me believe some more this old, overused quote from William Purkey: "Love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one's watching." I believe it, because it is so fucking true.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

entry arrow8:49 PM | Oscar Shock

I'm still in shock.

How can the Academy not nominate The Dark Knight for Best Picture, and Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road? (Well, she was nominated for Lead Actress in The Reader, but...) And how did Angelina Jolie in Changeling get in instead of Kristin Scott Thomas in I've Loved You So Long? (Don't talk to me about poor Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky. I wanted to kill Poppy in that movie.) And where's James Franco for either Milk or Pineapple Express? Or Wall-E for Best Picture? Or Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road? Or Dev Patel for Slumdog Millionaire? Or Michael Sheen for Frost/Nixon? Or Rebecca DeWitt for Rachel Getting Married? And Taraji Henson for The Curious Case for Benjamin Button? That character was such a one-note caricature! And did Brad Pitt do some acting ba in that movie?

Why does the Academy hate Christian Bale so much? First, there was the snub for his monstrous turn in American Psycho. Next, there was the snub for his eye-popping transformation in The Machinist. And now, a lock out of The Dark Knight from the top prize? Bollocks.

But I am happy for Michael Shannon getting the nod for Best Supporting Actor in Revolutionary Road. He was an electrifying presence there. And Viola Davis for Doubt, especially after getting snubbed for her work in Far Away From Heaven and Solaris. And I'm happy for the Clint Eastwood snub in Gran Torino. About time.

My fearless forecast: Slumdog Millionaire for Best Picture. Gus Van Sant in Milk for Best Director. Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler for Best Actor. Kate Winslet in The Reader for Best Actress. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight for Best Supporting Actor. And Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona for Best Supporting Actress.

It's a wide-open race.

Get the full list of nominations here.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

entry arrow8:47 PM | Stir, Steer.

I don't know why this suddenly came to me: a fragment of memory. High school. It must have been 1992. We were all members of the grammar police in my section. And we had one teacher -- a hapless young substitute teacher -- who kept pronouncing "stir" as "steer." It was grating in our ears. Late one afternoon, we all gathered together to make a plan. We were going to teach our substitute teacher a lesson. Every time she would say "steer," we would all say, together, "stir."

The next day:

Substitute Teacher: "Now, class this is how you 'steer' in the egg yolk..."

Us: (altogether) "Stir."

(Substitute Teacher suddenly has a confused look on her face.)

Substitute Teacher: "Umm. So now, do you know how to 'steer' in the ingredients?"

Us: (altogether) "Stir."

Substitute Teacher: (suddenly red-faced) "Eh. Umm. Do ... you ... now ... know how to ... 'stir' ... in ... the ingredients?"

High school is evil.

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entry arrow6:52 PM | Shut Up and Start Living

[... random thoughts after gym and dancing ...]

People have been asking me lately why is it that I look like I'm walking on air ("there's a load off your shoulder," they all say), but still I go about with this bright glimmer of determination in my eyes. Like there's something brewing in my head, and I can't wait to pounce on it. When I think about what possible answer to give, I can't help but feel for real that steely determination. Sometimes it even takes the form of me becoming too hard on myself. I push myself now like I've never pushed myself -- there's a righteous anger to the things I do these days, and while I have made myself so open to all the pleasures of life these days, I still go home each night knowing what I have done for the day is not enough. I keep telling myself, with a hard edge to my thoughts: Do this now, do this now, do this now... It is exhilarating, the way fresh air must be to a long-time captive of a dank prison. Once, last week, I looked up from writing my column for Visayan Daily Star in the comfortable hub of Cafe Noriter, and I saw this quote -- taken from the movie The Last I Saw Paris -- emblazoned on one wall of the cafe: "I want to enjoy things, have fun, live every day like it's the last day. Wouldn't that be nice, a lifetime full of last days?" And I feel that now, much more so when I was lost. I know I can't waste any more time: I've already given up the prime of my life for somebody not worth an iota of every sacrifice I've made. Sometimes I become angry when I think about what I had done to myself, in the name of waste. What the fuck was I thinking? So, yes: there is steely determination. Because once you've understood that life can easily be confined to a box, you really cannot wait to start living again. [Edited Feb. 8, 2009: Oh shut up, Ian. You know you're lying. He was worth it. - Ian]

[thanks to ... for the photo]


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

entry arrow1:00 AM | Facebook is Not Friendster

Let's get this straight. Facebook is not baduy Friendster. So let's get rid of some pesky Friendsterisms, shall we? Those habits we've developed over the years while enslaved to that netherworld where the light does not shine?

You don't have to thank me for adding you as a friend.

And if I don't add you, that just means I have no idea who you are.

Please don't request for a "testimonial" on your Wall.

Don't fret about not being able to put up glittery, baduy wallpapers on your profile.

And for Mark Zuckerberg's sake, put your real full name up there in your profile. Not your nickname, or some other formulation that requires asterisks and what-not so that you will be the "first" in everyone's roster of friends. (You'll be in violation of your sign-up agreement with Facebook if you do, actually.)

Facebook is for adults, people. (Well, adults who "poke" you a lot and send you plants for your "lil green patch." But nevertheless...)

And lastly, don't invite those trolls remaining in Friendster either. Best to just leave them behind.


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Monday, January 19, 2009

entry arrow7:45 PM | Like the Wind

I look forward to that rush after ten minutes of running -- that rush that comes when your body is finally in sync with the physicality of the task, and your legs become so much eager to just go, go, go. The endorphins take you high, and everything is all right with the world. You are lost in your own little world, and you can't help but smile through the ache, the sweat, the glow. I can't wait for tomorrow.

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entry arrow3:31 PM | Postcards For Inauguration Day

The week isn't over yet, but I'm taking for granted that this may be the bestest thing that will ever happen this week. I'm battling -- unexpectedly -- the blues, now that the sun has come back and chased away my gentle clouds and the chill. (Everybody knows I'm no summer boy.) Anyway... Obama takes the White House, finally. And here's mooning goodbye and good riddance the unlamented frat boy.

[photos courtesy of someecards]

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

entry arrow9:15 PM | Chocoloco and Old Friends

I'm trying to write a new story today. I've titled it "Towards the End," and it is supposed to be my exorcism: fiction always does it for me, the way it was when I wrote "Pete Sampras' Neck" for Quddus many years ago. There's nothing like the formal device of storytelling to make sense of things, and at the same time, to consider things a little more objectively, because you are treating the familiar with a device that requires restraint to be effective. I'm not sure, though, if I am successful with that with my first line: "You realize it is a paramount struggle, every single fucking day, not to love him anymore." How's that for restraint?

And then, like on most Sunday mornings, I begin cleaning the pad. Again. This time more thoroughly. I am ripping things off their usual places -- all my clothes from their closet, all my footwear from their rack, all my sheets from the bed, all my books from their shelves. I proceed to attack the most minute of dust, thinking all along how life unguarded can gather so much ... waste. My laundry bag becomes full of clothes still unworn; I just want them smelling again of detergent wash. My shelves, now bare, awaits a new classification for my books and DVDs; they demand new order, new sequences. All along, I think about my story.

I compose another paragraph in my head while I attack the windows: "The randomness of things that are left for you to find. Those are the things that nobody thinks about after the bitter separation. How one common day can suddenly pause at any random instance at the sight of a pair of socks. Or a shirt that still smells of his musk. You don’t mean to, but here you are, pausing from your Sunday spring cleaning -- and you are holding the shirt to your face, smelling in every bit of what’s left -- the familiar but long-gone odor tantalizing you into small panic. And you think of your resolve, weeks ago, when your certainty was solid and angry. But a shirt. A stupid shirt makes you crawl once more back into the shadows of questions: did you do the right thing? how could you let him go? was it worth it? And then the one question that you refuse even to acknowledge: Is he thinking of me?"

There goes restraint.

Kuya Moe texts me in the middle of the afternoon. Arlene and Justine, too. They want to take me out for coffee. "But I swore to have no coffee today," I say. That answer does not stop them from trying some more. It must have been the vacancy in my voice. But I don't mind: I think I'll need company today. I promise to meet them later in the afternoon.

"Damon's here," Kuya Moe says.

"Damon?" I replied. "Damon Sattler?"

"Yup, our old friend. He's back in Dumaguete for a vacation. He's with a friend. We're meeting them in Cafe Noriter for coffee."

"Okay then."

I decide to kill two birds with one stone, and meet them all, in Noriter. I walk out into the Sunday, and I contemplate the suddenly shining sun. Where has it been? Not that I have been missing it. There are huge parts of me that still long for the wind and the clouds, and I know for sure that I miss, like a lover, the frank coldness of the past few days, when bundling up in warm clothes was close enough to intimacy I can get these days.

I step into the cafe a few minutes after 5 in the afternoon.

"This is Patrick," Kuya Moe introduces me to Damon's friend. "He's from Chicago."

"You look red," I say.

"I went diving the other day."

"But there was no sun."

"I'm Irish."

When the girls arrive, they take over everything with their laughter. In Noriter, things happen. Spontaneity, Arlene says, that's our motto these days. We don't plan. We just do. We all talk, all of us old friends. Some of us have green tea. Some have coffee. Some have some a fancy concoction that include a piece of graham cracker. I have the cappuccino, just because. There goes my "no coffee" for the day.

We all decide to have dinner at Gabby's Bistro. We have beer, we have the adobo, we have the mongolian beef, we have the chocoloco. Sinful chocoloco, the height of all pleasures. There is talk, and more talk, and meeting other old friends who are dropping by for dinner. The Bistro feels like home.

And then we all go home. And I'm here thinking about how days happen, just like that.

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entry arrow12:43 PM | Television Shows Are Not Signs From Heaven

When I turned over to wake up today, I accidentally pressed the buttons of the TV remote, which took me straight to the local cable channel. And there, onscreen, was my ex, beautiful as usual, his haircut new. He was smiling, waving goodbye at the camera as the credits for his program rolled. It took me quite by surprise. I just froze. My old self would probably ask, Is this a sign? But I'm remembering what Wanggo told me last week: "Symbols are really [just] symbols and not our subconscious mind giving us excuses to go with what we really want." Which is true.

Let's get on with this suddenly sunny Sunday, shall we?

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

entry arrow5:25 PM | Unplanned Things and Karaoke

It takes an obsessive-compulsive like me to take in, truly, the guilty pleasures of unplanned things. I am not exactly a person designed for spontaneity (I get minor hives every time somebody suggests something I have not planned for at all), although I do have a so-so tolerance that permits me not to go completely insane. My in-built demand for order in my life can be quite dictatorial, and it has its manifestations in the list of things-to-do (plus the requisite erasures in red ink) in my planner, the library arranged by surnames of authors, and the spic-and-span quality of my own apartment. (When I was younger, I used to follow my visitors around with a portable broom-and-dustpan.) Lately though, I seemed to have developed a curious tendency for succumbing to the unplanned. Like last Friday night. A walk through the city with Moe Atega after Karl Aguila's exhibit opening led us to an ice cream shop in Portal West (where we had 12 oz. of yogurt each), which led to us being kidnapped by Wing del Prado, Arlene Delloso-Uypitching, and Justine Colburn to Gabby's Bistro, where we proceeded to spend the entire evening singing karaoke. And get this: I sang most of the time. If you know me at all, you will know that I never ever sing karaoke. Never. But I did. Last night. Without qualms, and with vocals I thought I had lost forever. I even exorcised the remaining demons surrounding Ariel Rivera's "Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin" -- and survived. (Why that song? Wag na.) I don't know what this says about me in the New Year, but frankly, I like it.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

entry arrow7:07 PM | Epiphany and the Mysterious Ways of the Universe

You have to trust the universe -- you can call it God, if you want -- and allow it to make sense of the broken or haphazard pieces of your life through its infuriatingly subtle process, even if at the very beginning, you really don't or can't see the big picture at all. There have been many instances in the past year when I had to ask myself, Why this? Why me? What am I doing? Where is this leading to? Do I really want this? Do I need to take this risk? Why did that blow up in my face? How could I let myself become so embarrassed? And so on and so forth... (But what is life except a series of events fulfilling our eternal questions?)

Suddenly, one day, everything will just make sense. And you are all the better for it.

I had that epiphany today. It came at the tail-end of self-analysis that may still be in progress. But it took only one nudge from something to make the pieces start to fall into a certainty, a form I could grasp and understand. Finally, I could breathe easily.

Call it closure, if you will. I know it intimately as a sigh of relief.


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entry arrow12:07 PM | The Way We Live Now

One of my favorite stories is "The Way We Live Now" by Susan Sontag, which powerfully pieced together the zeitgeist of New York at the height of the AIDS scare. It chronicled the paranoia as well as the unexpected vibrancy of community over an unnamed friend living with an unmentioned condition (which is clearly HIV). The story has always left me wondering: when the same thing happens in the Philippines, what would people do?

Today, after much soul-searching (especially through popular culture with movies like Philadelphia and Long Time Companion, plays like Rent, and books like And the Band Played On...), America is living in a post-AIDS world, where reality involves AZT and cocktail therapy. The disease still has no cure, but it is no longer a death sentence for many. And for the most part, the prejudice has largely receded. But we're not there yet, here in the Philippines. We are still living in the paranoid and fearful 1980s when AIDS first truly broke out, and there was much ignorance and condemnation, especially from the Church and polite society.

I think it's time we need to take action. I already know one great friend who has HIV. And one has already passed away from complications. And today, I stumbled on this.

I cried hard when I read the story.

Because Wanggo is the poster child of my generation. And when I cried for him, I was crying for me and for all of us as well. Because I realize that we are suddenly face-to-face with the inevitable. And I'm not sure most of us are ready.

Pwes. We need to be vigilant now. We need a crusade. And Wang, I'm in this crusade with you.

Watch Wanggo Gallaga tell his story in StoryLine in ANC, this Friday, January 16 at 6 PM, with replay at 11 PM.

[Pat, thanks for the info]

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entry arrow10:07 AM | Things That Race in My Head While Doing Cleaning Therapy...

Cleaning the house makes me think. I think a lot of random thoughts. I believe it keeps me sane. Here's a sample from my current self-psychoanalysis while bearing the mop...

1. All these reality shows on television -- particularly the ones involving contests of talents like Project Runway, American Idol, and America's Next Model -- have taught us too well that the vocabulary of loss is commonplace. The rejected ones always say, tearfully for the camera, in the end: "Someday, I'm gonna prove them wrong. I'm gonna make it to Fashion Week/Hollywood/the cover of Vogue." There's certain wistful bravado that underlines all our disappointments, perhaps driven by an anger that we actually don't measure up. It's so typical. The sad truth is? They never usually do make it to Fashion Week. Or Hollywood. Or the cover of Vogue. Not even the cover of Hello!

2. I love how complex human beings are. How we can mix our lies and our truths. How we can straddle the fine line between madness and normalcy. How, for example, you miss the warm body beside you at night when the clock nears midnight -- but there's no problem with sleep. You sleep like there's no tomorrow.

3. "Cute" is nice. "Cute" makes intimate moments more beautiful -- we believe we can stare forever at a beautiful face, and it can "complete" us, in those moments at least. But I realize that "cute," in the long run, is not enough. There are so many cute and beautiful people in the world. A dime a dozen, practically. But finally I want substance, too.

4. Sex is good. A great massage is better.

5. At the gym yesterday, I overheard a bunch of gym bunnies -- macho boys all of them -- huddling around between sets talking about basketball players and their salaries and their game. I rolled my eyes. I am so not straight. On a more positive note, I've lost six pounds since December. That's good, right? Here's to 20 more...

6. When I was in my early 20s, I was a boytoy to this wonderful older man. It felt good. (Oh, God. Did I just blog that?) I'm thinking about this because my friends seem to be hooking up with older people these days. Quddus did. Razcel did. My ex certainly did. A bunch of others also did. Is the over-36 the new 21?

7. Shit. Quddus was right. I got "Tarzan-ned."

8. I just realize that in my past relationships, I've basically served the role of the Starter Boyfriend. You know? The one that keeps them going while they flail their way towards self-realization? The one that "trains" them, and eventually pass them off to people who will benefit from all your "hard work"? Ahahaha! I'm not sure whether to be horrified, or flattered. I don't want to be a Starter Boyfriend anymore. So not worth it.

9. If I eat a donut later, would I have to spend thirty extra minutes on the elliptical machine?

10. Real men would love Twilight. Ahahaha!

11. I got pissed off with someone very dear to me the other day. (You know who you are -- and you know naman that despite everything and anything, I really consider you a good friend, diba? You remind me of me when I was much younger...) Perhaps it was because he has just found a new love in his life and he's happy ... but I found it jarring when he was suddenly "advising" me with bromides about love and my lack of one at the moment. And I was like: I just got out of a five-year relationship, and you just got yourself into a week-old one, and you're advising me? I snapped. But I'm over it now. Thanks for the concern, O. But really, I'm all right. Why shouldn't I be?

12. In the age of Facebook, Blogger, and YouTube, are we oversharing?

13. I like the kid, and he is truly talented, but I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Joaqui Valdez will play Melchior in Atlantis' production of Spring Awakening in Manila this September. Moritz na lang unta. (Hendrison texted me the other day, "You're becoming too obsessed with Spring Awakening." My reply: "It's your fault!" Ahahaha!)

14. I used to be a dancefloor freak. (Right, Kokak?) Current downer though: you make your way to the dancefloor, and half the people in there pipe in, "Hi, Sir!" Nothing ruins an evening than a bunch of your students eyeing you like the dinosaur you are supposed to be. (Teachers have social lives pala?)


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Monday, January 12, 2009

entry arrow5:31 PM | Mampas Memories

My friend, the fabulous Arlene Delloso-Uypitching, just uploaded our picnic pictures from Mampas in Facebook. These are five from the set.

This was from last November, a lifetime ago. The internationally-acclaimed visual artist Paul Pfeiffer was visiting Dumaguete, his hometown, and the evening was an impromptu dinner in his honor, with Quddus cooking, of course. My friends were also trying to cheer me up and coax me out of a positively catatonic state. (I was always sad, and was fat, and terribly hermetic those days. Guess why. They had already coined a term after me: "to do an Ian," which means to disappear from the face of the earth on account of ... things.)

From the top: (1) a huddle with me, Moses Joshua Atega, Arlene Delloso-Uypitching, Quddus Ronnie Padilla, and Justine Colburn, (2) a view of Arlene's house in Mampas, (3) an evening view of Dumaguete from the hills of Mampas, Valencia, (4) Quddus' al fresco dinner being readied, and(5) the whole bunch with Razceljan Salvarita, Paul Pfeiffer, Don Ramas-Uypitching, and John Colburn. Photographs by Razceljan Salvarita.

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entry arrow3:41 PM | Weekend Plans

I think I may be going to Cebu this weekend. To party. It will be my first-ever Sinulog. Bwahahahaha!

Hends, that rave party you were inviting me to? I'm in.

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entry arrow12:34 AM | From Kitty's Birthday

From Kitty Taniguchi's birthday party in Mariyah Gallery last Thursday. Photographs by Moses Joshua Atega. From the top, yours truly, Kitty, Claro de los Reyes, and Karl Aguila.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

entry arrow11:43 AM | Thoughts In Between Dancing...

[... I am not ready for this. Not now. It's too soon. I'm enjoying my being single pa. I am so not ready for this. Ayoko ng rebound. It's the stupidest thing in the world. But I can't help it naman. And it's not exactly a rebound, since I've known him mga two years na. But God. He doesn't know it yet, but maybe he does. But I'm really starting to fall. I'm so not ready for this... And it can't really happen anyway, because there's this and that and this and that. But let's see how this goes....]

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

entry arrow7:21 PM | What I'm Dancing to Today...

I am so watching this show when Atlantis brings it to Manila later in the year... This musical is alive, and raw, and fucking irreverent -- which is utter perfection.

The Bitch of Living


God, I dreamed there was an angel
Who could hear me through the wall
As I cried out-like, in Latin
"This is so not life at all
Help me out-out-of this nightmare"
Then I heard her silver call-
She said: "Just give it time, kid
I come to one and all"

She said: "Give me that hand, please
And the itch you can't control
Let me teach you how to handle
All the sadness in your soul
Oh, we'll work that silver magic
Then we'll aim it at the wall"
She said: "Love may make you blind kid-
But I wouldn't mind at all"

It's the bitch of living
(Bitch, just the bitch)
With nothing but your hand
(Just the bitch, yeah)
Just the bitch of living
As someone you can't stand

See, each night, it's like fantastic-
Tossing, turning, without rest
'Cause my days at the piano
With my teacher and her breasts;
And the music's like the one thing
I can even get at all
And those breasts!
I mean, God, please
Just let those apples fall

It's the bitch of living
(ah, ah, ah)
With nothing going on
(Nothing going on)
Just the bitch of living
Asking: what went wrong?

Do they think we want this?
Oh--who knows?

See, there's showering in gym class...

Bobby Maler, he's the best
Looks so nasty in those khakis

God, my whole life's like some test

Then there's Marianna Wheelan
As if she'd return my call

It's like just kiss some ass, man
Then you can screw 'em all


It's the bitch of living

It's the bitch of living

And living in your head

In your head
It's the bitch

Of living
And sensing God is dead

It's the bitch of living

You watch me-
Just watch me-

And trying to get ahead

I'm calling you one day

It's the bitch of living
Just getting out of bed

All will know

It's the bitch of living
Living, Living

All will know

And getting what you get
Just the bitch of living

And knowing this is it

God, is this it?
This can't be it
Oh God, what a bitch!

From Spring Awakening
Music by Duncan Sheik
Book and Lyrics by Steven Sater

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entry arrow1:03 PM | Living It Up

It is a truth universally acknowledged, at least in private, that there is an inverse proportionality to blogging frequency and the offline lives we live: the more you seize every moment of your days, the less you blog. Everybody knows this.

Well, honey, I've been living it up so much these past few weeks -- and that's my perfect excuse for the sporadic posts here. There are times when I do think about musing, online, about my fabulous days, but I just can't bring myself to put them down in words. Kahit writer ako, I don't think I can describe, for example, that exact moment last night, in Gabby's, when Dessa leaned over to Colby, while she was regaling us with the story of how they met -- and there was this split second when she began to laugh over some detail that made the telling more than magical... Or even that fraction of a moment when Hendri took off his glasses with a slight frown while Annabelle and Jacqueline were talking about husbands over coffee in Cafe Mamia... Or that moment, during lunch at a karinderia, when Douglas reached out for Quddus's face to caress it... Or those few precious minutes when Moses twirled Kitty in an impromptu dance during her birthday party... Or when Patrick offered more wine over a sumptuous pasta meal... Gideon smiling in ecstacy... Sharon giggling while I made my debut as rhum coke tagay boy... Karl giggling with abandon while stuffing me with assorted aphrodisiacs... Kimberly and Rianne hitting it off, just as I planned... Joey jumping into the pool... Susan guffawing over a joke... Gerard in a clinch with Jasper... Claro taking off his cap to reveal his long hair... Hope singing a reggae song... Clee clicking away with his camera at everything that crossed his path... Arlene sending me text hugs from Singapore... Razcel smiling as he introduces Elle... Ceres presenting me with a bubbly for the New Year... Justine smiling over chicken inato... Clyde drinking another beer... Jean Claire dancing the night away in Hayahay... Sande offering me a toast of Weng-Weng... Warlito belting out one karaoke song after another, with me dancing the jig... Friends, friends, everywhere... They all have filled my days with so much energy, and love. Someday, I will write about what is happening, but only perhaps. Certainly not now. Words evade me. The lived moment is all I want for now.

Raz, you were right. The days to come will be beautiful.

Sinulog in Cebu! Taboan in Manila this February! (Guys, I'll be spending a week -- a week! -- in Manila! So, Patricia, dearest, we need to party...)

Right now, folks, permit me this excuse to party, and enjoy every ounce of living.

I'm off to the theater tonight for a play!
I hope to see you there.

[Last line deleted. Too soon for that info.]

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Friday, January 09, 2009

entry arrow2:06 PM | Yasmina Reza's 'Art' Plays in the Luce Auditorium This Weekend in Dumaguete

The question is, will you buy this painting...

... for two million pesos?

Thus begins the drama that is Art.

Little Boy Productions, the company that brought Dumaguete City Tuesdays with Morrie and Love Letters, opens 2009 with Art, the provocative Tony award-winning comedy by Yasmina Reza, with a one-day staging at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium on January 10, 2009.

Starring eminent Filipino thespians Bart Guingona, Audie Gemora, and Jaime del Mundo, Art is an engaging and hilarious look at the meaning of modern art and old-fashioned friendship. It has played to audience acclaim all over the world since it premiered in Paris in 1995. Art has won numerous awards, including the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play, and the 1997 Oliver Award for Best Comedy.

Directed by Bart Guingona, the comedy revolves around the longtime friendship of three middle aged, middle class men: Serge (played by Audie Gemora), Marc (played by Bart Guingona) and Yvan (played by Jaime del Mundo). The balance of their friendship is jeopardized when one member of the trio, Serge, purchases a pricey modern art painting, which happens to be completely white.

In this case, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder as Serge seems to be the only one of the trio to see anything but a white canvas. Via the lively repartee between the actors throughout the plan, the audience comes to realize that true friendship is in itself a work-of-art in process. Just as one can develop an appreciation of a new genre of art when introduced to it, the men have to learn how to keep their bond of friendship strong. Much like Manhattan modern art enthusiasts must trek across the water to see the work they love at the MoMA’s temporary home in Queens, Serge and Marc must evaluate what lengths they are willing to go to in order to preserve their friendship.

Yasmina Reza began work as an actress, appearing in several new plays as well as Moliere and Marivaux. In 1987 she wrote Conversations After a Burial, which won the Moliere Award for Best Author. Following this, she translated Kafka’s Metamorphosis for Roman Polanski. Her second play, Winter Crossing, won the 1990 Moliere Award for Best Fringe Production, and her next play The Unexpected Man enjoyed successful productions in England, France, the Scandinavia and Germany and will open in New York in October. In 1995, Art premiered in Paris and went on to win the Moliere Award for Best Author. Since then it has been produced worldwide and translated into 20 languages.


10 January 2009
3 P.M. Matinee
8 P.M. Gala


Matinee tickets at P100 and P150
Gala tickets at P150, P200, and P300

Tickets and Season Passes for the second half of the 2008-2009 Cultural Season are available at the College of Performing Arts Office and the Luce Auditorium Office, and at the theater lobby before every show. For inquiries and ticket reservations, please call/contact Gang-gang at (035) 422-6002 loc. 520. See posters for more details. Schedule may change without prior notice. For more information, please go to the Cultural Affairs Committee website.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

entry arrow3:20 PM | Random Thought While Working

Being single pala is not that bad. It's fun! (More thoughts on marriage later...)


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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

entry arrow11:54 AM | The Quest

"The real truth is, I probably don't want to be too happy or content. Because, then what? I actually like the quest, the search. That's the fun. The more lost you are, the more you have to look forward to. What do you know? I'm having a great time and I don't even know it."

-- Ally McBeal, first season

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

entry arrow10:31 PM | Parallel Lives

Oh my God. Dear Ms. Emily Marcelo, this is so me! I read your advice for Frustrated Professor, and it just went over me like a cold, sobering shower. Because I was starting to waver in my resolve, see, and crumbling a little bit. But what you wrote slapped me back to reality. Thank you, Emily. Your advice was for another man, but by God, you spoke to me, too. And I'm grateful.

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entry arrow12:45 PM | That Night

Photo taken at 3 o'clock in the morning, finally getting to bed after that ecstatic Friday night. It bears commemoration. The happy new year continues...!

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Friday, January 02, 2009

entry arrow9:23 AM | Up Yours, Puffin

Trust me, this will put the Happy in your New Year. I rarely rave about any blog -- because there's so much trash out there, and porn and spam always get in the way -- but this is the first time since Postsecret and The Search for Love in Manhattan that a blog has made itself something of a must-read for me. I just stumbled into Fuck You, Penguin, and it is the most darling thing in the Internet next to that game where you throw shoes at George W. Bush.

The blog is about something simple: it's a blog about putting cute animals in their place. Here's a sample post about ... puffins:

There's nothing more obnoxious than a fake animal that tries to pass itself off as an authentic member of the animal world. Puffins are maybe the biggest offenders when it comes to this, even going so far as to pretend to take pictures with humans and hang out in places like Iceland where no normal person can confirm that they were really there. (Like Iceland is a real place, anyway. "Björk" is from there!) Take a look at this clearly computer generated motherfucker above. Of course, he tries to blend into the scenery by standing by a rock in some grass, but do you see it? The only shadow is from the rock. IF YOU'RE SO REAL, PUFFIN, WHERE'S YOUR FUCKING SHADOW. Busted, Puffin. Now go back to living inside a fucking 8-year-old girl's head.


But this one really had me in stitches...

In the name of ALL THAT IS HOLY put that foot down, Kitten! What are you trying to prove? You know what, Kitten? FUCK YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU STAND FOR. It might be your world now, Kitten. But you can't stay on top forever.


Now go and read, and split your sides from laughing.

Speaking of The Search for Love in Manhattan, Faustus has a post that says something about the addiction I am currently enduring: Facebook. Here it is...

I understand that, for the young, Facebook has virtually innumerable appealing qualities.

However, for people of a certain age, the best things about Facebook, as far as I can tell, are that you find out

1) all the people you wanted to sleep with in high school but couldn't dream of doing so because they were straight are now gay; and

2) All the people you were jealous of and wanted so badly to be that it made you bleed are now fat and real estate agents.

Precious! Read that, too!

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entry arrow2:09 AM | A Nightmare in the All-Spin Zone

Just woke up to the sound of a grating voice coming from my television, which I forgot to turn off. I must have accidentally pressed the remote, while sleeping, to jump to FoxNews. There was Bill O'Reilly talking. That's not a good thing at 2 o'clock in the morning.

And it struck me: there's a reason why his "talking points" are constantly flashed on the screen even as he talks about them. O'Reilly Factor viewers are dumb, moronic pinheads they have to be told twice about what's going on.

Now that I've taken that out of my system, I go back to sleep.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

entry arrow9:31 PM | Imaginary Dialogue

Hayahay Bar, Dumaguete City. Sometime during Christmas Break.

Claire: Are you really smoking?

Ian: You bet I am. Socially lang naman.

Claire: There's a camera pointing at us.

Ian: Smile ka lang.

Claire: But are you really, really okay?

Ian: Well, what can we do, really?

Claire: Are you sure?

Ian: Care ko. (Tilts head upwards. Blows smoke.)

Clee snaps picture.

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entry arrow6:44 PM | The Rabbit in the Year of the Ox

Part of the fun of any New Year celebration is finding and figuring out what lies ahead. No one has to believe in any of this stuff, but it does give us a kind of "barometer" on how to live the life ahead of us. God knows I've taken some positive turns in the past after some clairvoyant advice. (Right, Gabs?) For the most part, I get my fix of fortune-telling in the menagerie that is the Chinese horoscope. I'm a Rabbit, and so I ask: what lies ahead of me in the Year of the Ox? One website has the following to consider:

The Rabbit (1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999) can look forward to a better [year] in 2009 because of the number of stars of relationships shining on him in the Year of the Ox. After going through many changes like reunions, separations, heated arguments, and changing jobs, things will be more stable and favorable for him.

The star of Harmony Yue De symbolizes excellent human relationships and it can turn dangers into opportunities. This means that the Rabbit will be having people around him taking good care of him and supporting all his needs. The star Sui He is a star that represents harmony between spouses. This star can also help the Rabbit get support from his supervisors and/or superiors as well as from elderly family members.

Two stars, Tao Hua and Xian Chi, which are stars of Love Luck, are working together to make the Rabbit be more attractive and charming than ever before. For Married Rabbits, however, it is advised that they practice extreme caution and try hard to resist temptations. Because with the two stars shining on them, they might be overwhelmed by people who will show interest in them, no matter what their gender maybe, or else they might become involved in love triangles. These people will do anything just to please them. For Single Rabbits, it is a good year to pursue that love interest because there is a good chance that it will be accepted.

Lastly, the stars Xiao Hao and Si Fu are two stars that the Rabbit should be aware of and take extra caution with. Because Xia Hao represents minor financial loss, which [can] be brought about by the money spent in entertaining more friends and lovers. Si Fu, on the other hand, represents an elderly male family member who might suffer from health, which should be given special attention to.

I'm tickled pink by all these. There are already several things in this forecast that I find right on, but I'm only highlighting the one thing that everybody who knows my blog (and somebody else's) already know.

It's an intriguing read. Let the New Year finally begin!

[images from bluebison.net]

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