Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Robin X Arthur?


I had a rather odd conversation today with a friend. He was talking about making a Robin Hood – Camelot cross-over, and I couldn’t help but get absorbed into the conversation.

Let me explain. Back when I was a kid, I borrowed lots of books from the old school library. Some of the books were hardbound classics, while others were illustrated adaptations made safe for kids. I read every adventure-themed book I could find; my first love was whodunit stories, mystery novels ranging from the light and fanciful to the deep, dark, sombre world of Arthur Conan Doyle (at least for a kid).

Then I started running out of those books, and I moved on to reading fantasy novels and novels about the Lone Ranger. I don’t remember most of the books I tore through back in those days, but I know I read a lot. I wasn’t a member of the bookworm club for several years for nothing (it was also an excuse to keep away from sportsfest-related activities; you could hang at the library to hide from the booths and the “bullies” who made sure you were humiliated for the whole world to see).

I first read Robin Hood, and while I don’t fully remember the story now, I believe that it was one of the first chivalric tragedies I’ve ever read. The merry men they may be, but the eventual rise of King John to the throne, and the disbanding of the thieves of Sherwood forest, to the penultimate death of Robin of Huntington by bloodletting sort of wrecked the entire story, but in a good way.

And then I read Ivanhoe.

Ivanhoe was a bore, now that I think about it, but it got me interested in Prince Valiant, which in turn piqued my interest in Arthur Pendragon’s knights of the round table. I’m not exactly sure which version it was I read (it was an old, original hardbound book that smelled just like any old, hardbound book with plenty of pride in its spine should), and unless I did a little bit of research, I don’t think I can remember much about what took place throughout the life of Arthur.

But why does the memory stand so clear in my head? Because, good reader, the fact that I stayed up until six in the morning on a school day, reading the bloomin’ book by flashlight, is, up to now, still pretty amazing.

So, two books from my childhood. Two epic tales of chivalry, magic, and European honor. The story of an archer and a king, put together in comic form. And my friend wants to work on it for real.

Two questions, however, come to mind:

Who’s going to do the research? And how the hell is Arthur going to become the king of the Britons when Richard the Lionhearted was the monarch during Robin Hood’s time?

Two answers to the last question. First is Time Paradox. Second is a wizard did it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Clashing of Bone and Sinew


One of the biggest problems of writing Pinoy lit in English is the fact that, if you’re trying to paint the actual life of your average Filipino in English, no word in the language can efficiently meet the rough, almost edgy, flow of the Tagalog dialogue. Notice how I didn’t language—proper Tagalog is flowing, lambent, and slow.

I was thinking about this the other night, and I couldn’t wrap my thoughts to believe the following lines, had they been written in English:

Tumayo ang matanda mula sa palanggana kung saan siya naglalaba, at hinabol ang kanyang anak sa kalye, kung saan ito’y kasalukuyang naglalaro ng piko.

Hoy putragis na bata ka talaga,” ang kanyang unang isinigaw, kasabay ng batok sa ulo niyong bata, “ang tigas ng ulo mo, lintik ka! Pumasok ka sa loob! Sige na, wag mo na hintaying matuyo pa ang dugo ko sa ‘yo, kundi matatamaan ka na naman sa’kin. Ang tapang tapang mo, pero pag napalo ka naman, iiyak-iyak ka ng parang tanga. Sige! Pumasok ka na sa loob.”

I can’t write Tagalog for shit, but this is something you can easily see in the streets of Manila. I hear one of my neighbors say something like this on a regular basis. From inside my house. You’d think she had a megaphone or something.

Notice how each syllable of her words sounds like a cracking knuckle that’s ready to hit somebody in the face. There’s a sense of urgency that you just can’t see in the English language:

Hey, you damn kid,” shouted the old woman as she hit the boy squarely on the head, “stop being such a hard-headed git and get inside the house. Haul your ass, now, before I get any angrier; you’ll just be asking for a good spanking. You think you’re so hot, but once you get hit by your mother, you’ll go on crying like a little shit. Come on! Get inside.”

It’s just not the same. In a way, I can see how native English-speakers find it easy to stand up to their parents; they don’t sound threatening. At all. At least, when compared to the classic example of the Pinoy housewife.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And the Star Sheriffs


So I wasn’t able to stick to my end of the bargain. There goes my 100-words-a-day-challenge. But the important thing is that after this past week, I’m slowly getting back into my groove.

(a little too late to save the week, but y’know. It ain’t so bad.)

Anyway, because I’m at a loss for something constructively complete to say right now, here’s a list of some things I (re?)discovered this week. I’m not going to try and say that these are in any way universally meaningful, but right now, these are the thoughts that coalesce in my mind whenever I’m caught in the bathroom without a book (which is increasingly becoming the case, much to my alarm).

1. Sometimes, there’s a region in a relationship wherein you can’t fill in the spaces with talk, pillow or otherwise. That’s when, just like a good musical sheet, the quarter, half, and whole rests make themselves important. It takes a while to get used to, and if you get too used to them, they’re a curse (just like anything that isn’t taken into moderation). But that doesn’t downplay their importance. And how sweet it can make your life.

2. Sleeping in bed for the first twelve hours is good and restful. Anything beyond that will act like a psychological trap, locking you into a world of your own creation, and dragging you into the depths of depression, destroying your sleeping patterns, and generally adding to whatever bacteria-induced fever you’re having at the moment.

3. Even clinical morons have their moments of biting brilliance. Then they go back to being morons, and you just can’t help but shake your head at how caustically unruly the universe can seem.

4. I like direct narratives. The story doesn’t have to flow in a direct plot, but the narratives that I like use straightforward language. To illustrate: I am currently reading Shirley Jackson. She’s a reprieve from Thomas Pynchon, who is a brilliant pain in the ass.

5. I get irritated a lot. By things that shouldn’t irritate me. Especially on certain days. At least, this week. I don’t know why.

6. I like writing so long as it isn’t for work. I don’t want to have to write for work ever again, because I’m way too anal for my own good. This is why I’m trying to get this little firm up.

7. In connection to #6 – holy crap, is that ever oh so difficult.

8. In a tangent connected to #7, I miss watching classic Nick cartoons such as Hey Arnold! Jim Lang is a jazz sleeping giant.

9. I’m becoming addicted to (four panel) comic strips. Thanks to you. You know who you are.

10. Not getting your weekly dose of exercise is like psychological warfare as illustrated in the Asterix comics by Legionary Magnumopus: hitting somebody over the head with a billy club. Unfortunately, you’re on the receiving end.

11. And finally, I like mango jam.

On a completely unrelated note, it has been discovered that love actually makes you lose more friends. Except that you do it voluntarily, because love is (ironically) sweet like that.

Who commissions these studies?! (that was a rhetorical question, for those who can actually answer that).

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

You Know that Feeling you get when you’re Looking for a Word and you Can’t Remember what it was?


The Internet’s abuzz with this study that supposedly sets a baseline (of sorts) for how much you need to earn to really be happy in today’s world.

I’m not going to write about that. Lord knows, I’m personally poor enough to be worrying about how to keep happy with what I already have. Instead, I’m going to tell you readers how my day went. Which is unusual, since I never keep a diary, much less try to make a blog post seem like one. And yes, I’m stalling. The idea is that appalling.

It’s kinda sad that these days, one of the things that can complete my day is the fact that I was able to inch my way closer to sealing this deal with a potential client. I’m not saying anything concrete, because I might jinx the entire thing, and lord knows that we need as many clients as we can get, but I’ll say this much: I’m rather proud that the details of this possible contract, while not a complete departure from the usual menu served by my firm, is something that we’ve never really tackled full on. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to sink my teeth into for a long time now, but never really had the chance. Well, now here’s an opportunity, and if I play my cards right, who knows. We might actually get it long-term.

It also warms my heart to know that my business partners are (because of one situation or the other) slowly opening up to the idea of learning my trade. It could be the start of something really fruitful. Fingers crossed?

Wow, so I was actually able to pull off a diary-like entry, after all. H-uh. And to think it hardly took ten minutes of my time.

One last thing. The realization that you’re genuinely happy, because somebody else is happy today, is enough to double the aforementioned emotion. There’s a term for this, I just can’t remember it. It’s at the tip of my tongue.

Monday, September 06, 2010

One Hundred Words a Day


I haven’t been completely honest here lately. Well, I actually haven’t been posting, so that kinda makes the first statement a little bit of a moot point, doesn’t it? But I had a short conversation with a friend the other day, and she mentioned that my recent posts have been more, shall we say, aloof than what I’ve been used to.

Which is, I guess, due to a lot of things. But mostly, I think it’s because I’m out of practice. Has life gotten so much of my attention that I’ve forgotten, slowly, how the art of facing a blank canvas?

Oddly enough, I do blame writing for my lack of updates. Which is why, from today on, I will try to post at least 100 words every day. Even if all I’m writing about is pretty much nothing.