Friday, December 28, 2007

Serving The Engine #2: Pancit

Okay, here's an interesting one. One of my visits indicated this search:

Search Engine :
Search Words : putting up a panciteria in the philippines

So I guess someone needed help putting up a panciteria (in the Philipines specifically). I've never been in the pancit business. If someone came up to me and asked what would one need to put up a panciteria, I would probably say 'pancit?'. I guess the two most important things is a good location and good pancit. I can't help with the location, but let's talk about all things pancit. Oh yeah, in case you're wondering, I'm into this because mom just called and asked me to bring pancit for our New Year's Eve dinner. Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Pancit (pansit) actually has a Wikipedia entry. Listed there are the following kinds of pancit:

- Pancit Bíhon
- Pancit Cantón

- Pancit estacion
- Pancit Habhab
- Pancit Luglog (or Palabok)
Pancit Malabón
- Pancit Mólo
- Pancit Míki
- Pancit Moròng
Pancit Sotanghòn

You can click on each pancit style to get a rec
ipe. So many, I don't think this is a complete list. Benetton should launch a new marketing campaign locally, "United Pancit Noodles of Benetton"(baduy!). Benetton, call me, we'll talk.

Did you know that Pancit Malabon has its own festival? You can go here for some information on the event and its activities.

Here is an excerpt from a PCIJ article, Pancit Republic:
Pancit, borrowed from the Chinese, then innovated and adopted into our cuisine, connects us to our Asian roots. But more importantly, it is a veritable Pinoy comfort food — easier to cook than rice, and more versatile and food combination-friendly. It is the faster fast food. In fact, “pancit” is derived from the Hokkien “pian i sit,” which means “something conveniently cooked fast.” (link to full article)
Here's a link to a Pancit Chart also from PCIJ. It has a list of Pancit noodles by:

how they are cooked
- thickness
- make
- region

Let's top everything off with a cute blog post from
pancit, in terms of a romantic relationship, means that a certain party is under. It’s either the other party is the law while the other party is under the law. A statement from someone like, “Hindi ako pancit, ako ang batas!” would definitely mean that the person is indeed a pancit in denial especially if the person consumes enough alcohol to give him/her hallucinations that he/she is indeed the law. (link to full post)
Pancit is a regular part of my diet. Particularly pancit palabok from Jollibee, instant pancit canton (spicy) from Lucky Me, instant pancit palabok from Quickchow. But of course, my favorite of them all, which I rarely ever get, is my sister-in-law's pancit palabok cause she makes a lot of sauce and I can drown the noodles in them. (Update: Pictured right, me with the sister-in-law's pancit palabok, yum!!)

You know what, there's so many things pancit out there that I just gave up. If you guys have anything pancit to add, leave a comment.

Update (1/2/2008) more things pancit:

Following is a Sine Totoo Documentary on the different pancit in the Philippines. The first one deals with places in the south:

- Pancit Masyang ng San Pedro, Laguna
- Pancit Lukban ng Quezon
- Pancit ng Bato ng Camarines Sur

The second part of the documentary deals with areas north of the Philippines:

- Pancit Batil-Patong ng Tuguegarao
- Pancit Cabagan ng Isabela
- Pancit Luglog ng Orani, Bataan

Here's a video on how to make pancit canton. This one is by a group of Fil-Ams which seem to be a school project for their Filipino class. It must be, their Tagalog is so terrible I can't think of another reason why else they would be speaking in Filipino. It's both intentionally and unintentionally funny:

Here's a short film from Jim Libiran entitled "Pancit Canton". This short film was a predecessor to his full length feature entitled "Tribu", winner of the 2007 Cinemalaya Best Film and composed of a cast of real life Tondo gang members. Here's a link to an interview he did for that feature.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cerebral Flatulence #2: What's the Upside?

I just spilled soda on my desk. While I was wiping it off, I thought to myself, look at the bright side: your mouse will have more traction. Then I remembered that I used an infrared mouse.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lazy Blogger #1: IT Humor

Well, didn't follow through on those blog posts I wanted to write this weekend. So I'm just going to dump stuff I stumbled upon on the interwebs. Click on the image to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Savoring Puppy Tears

For people who are Robinson Malate regulars, like yours truly, you'll know that they've expanded the mall. I would say they increased floor space by 30%. I like the new wing, it's arier. But what I'm most delighted about is the opening of a Savory Chicken Restaurant, woohoo! You see how delighted I am? I went "woohoo". You know, to show how delighted I was. Right. Clear and redundant. Gotcha.

The place isn't actually part of the new wing but it opened the same time the new wing did. Savory is where my chicken addiction began. My dad used to bring some home every weekend and we all looked forward to it. And every time that he did, we would have to take turns trying to solve the mystery of "who ate all the chicken and didn't leave some for me". I have to admit that I was part of the usual suspects, and rightly so in most cases. But hey, I was smart enough to be home when dad arrived. After being told off a number of times, I learned to leave my brother's share of the chicken alone, but still, I always failed to do it for the gravy. I was a Savory chicken gravy junkie. "Keep the chicken! But I get all the gravy!" *manic laughter* As far as I'm concerned, Savory has the best chicken gravy in the world. Even if it turns out that they squeezed cute and lovable little puppies to get puppy tears and put that in the mix as their secret ingredient, I don't think I would stop having it.

I finally got a chance to have dinner at the new place this weekend. I was happy to find that both the chicken and the gravy tasted as I remembered them. But the new place is small, there was a line of people waiting to be seated when we got there. Normally, we would just find another place that's less crowded, but this is Savory and I've been looking forward to eating here since I found out it opened a few weeks ago. So that's my only beef (or should I say poultry?) with the place, it's too small. I think this is the first time they've opened in a mall though. All the places I remember were stand-alone restaurants (those restaurants are so emo). But still, I'm glad they're here and accessible. I must have asked the missus ten times if she liked the chicken and gravy.

If you're beginning to be suspicious, the answer is 'no', I w
as not paid by anyone to make a Savory endorsement. I'm just a fan boy. Some people have Star Wars, I have food. But if someone from Savory stumbles upon this post, well, it would not be below me to accept free meals for life.

Following is some literature I took off their table mats:
The Juicy Story Behind Savory Chicken

The years following the end of World War II proved significant not just for the Philippines but for the four Ting brothers as they moved to start a fresh life and establish their livelihood. By 1950, the brothers had put up a "panciteria" in the busy district of Quiapo serving mainly lomi. Over time, as their little panciteria grew in popularity and as the brothers began to discover other dishes they could solve their customers, they were able to create a 'special' recipe for fried chicken and gravy that became so popular that soon not just members of the local Chinese community came to partake of the special tasty, juicy and tender chicken treat but also a number of Filipinos who would come to the tiny restaurant with their family to 'savor' this 'savory' fried chicken dish.

And thus the popular Savory Chicken House was born and its first branch opened in Escolta. The menu soon expanded to include other Filipino and Chinese dishes. Now, after over 50 years of existence, the third generation of the Ting family who launched Savory are re-launching the Classic Savory Chicken and you are part of this momentous event as you enjoy your Savory chicken with us.

We thank you for your unwavering loyalty and look forward to serving you the best and juiciest fried chicken for many more generations to come.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Remembering the Aratiles

When I think back to my childhood, it seems that the Aratiles tree (a.k.a Alatiris, Alateris, Aratiris) is an omnipresent fixture. Back then, when there was no Internet or cable, and Atari consoles were rare, I spent most of my time outdoors. I would run barefoot in the hot asphalt pavement playing with friends. We hung upside down from the monkey bars, stood up and jumped off the swing sets, ran up the industrial grade aluminum slides, played in construction sites, and rode our bikes as far away from home as we dared. Basically, everything that our parents would tell us not to do. But it seems that at the end of every day, we would end up under the Aratiles tree. It was a common tree and it could be found all over the neighborhood. We were all very fond of climbing it and eating its berries while sitting on its branches and resting in its shade. Of course, everything would end up being sticky and it would always stain our clothes. I also remember once getting caught with a couple of friends climbing a neighbor's Aratiles tree without permission.

Even when our family moved from our old neighborhood into the Metro, the Aratiles tree was there. The new place was smaller and the gray cement dominated everything except for a triangle shaped patch of soil where a lone Aratiles tree stood surrounded by the tightly packed and narrow two storey houses.

I gained new friends in our new neighborhood and we spent most days playing in the shade of that lone tree. But as the years passed by I noticed it getting weaker, until one day, when I came around the plaza I saw people had tied ropes around it and had pulled it out of the ground. I don't remember why they did that, but I do remember being saddened by the sight of it being hauled away. For a while it wasn't the same and we would talk of how we missed the tree. But as certain as the sun shines life moved on. Children are fickle and they forget easily; to a young mind there are many distractions and there are always new things to love.

That event seemed to coincide with when as a kid, I decided that I was going to be one of the adults; Entering that phase where you stop bragging about your latest toy and conversations with your friends start to change. I sometimes wonder if that was a mere coincidence or if there was more to the Aratiles tree. Could it be that the child was hauled away with the tree? It seemed that something shifted in the world, that the lens had changed. From a soft focus where things seemed to glow and the background was blurred, the image suddenly sharpened and things were suddenly clearer. Whereas before the blur allowed for the imagination, now the world became hard and rational. Those empty houses we passed while out on our bikes were no longer haunted, but merely abandoned. The rustling tree at night was no longer due to its giant guardian shifting in the branches to light his thick tobacco. Tall grasses no longer hid gnome villages, but dangerous snakes. You realize that you will never stumble upon a portal to another world in those thickets. You stop rubbing anything that remotely resembles an old oil lamp in hope of getting wishes. It seems as if that fruit was the source of childhood innocence and wonderment.

What if the berry of the Aratiles is the anti-thesis of the Forbidden Fruit? While one takes away innocence, could the other impart it? As the Tree of Knowledge is hidden away, the Tree of Innocence is everywhere. As men search for Eden to behold the tree where dwelt the Serpent, this humble tree will grow wild in the most barren of gardens. As Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat The Fruit, this will be offered to the children. But then, the child eventually tires of the fruit, and visit the tree less and less. He will forget. His young mind will discover other things and learn to love something new. Still, unlike first man and woman who were well aware of what they lost after being casted out of the Garden, the children will never know the value of this fruit and they join the world of Man willingly.

Sometimes when I come around that plaza, I can still see the outline of that tree. Like a phantom limb of a dismembered arm, it feels like it's there.

Just to be safe, I think I will put this down on my "Father To Do List", for when I have kids:

Plant an Aratiles tree.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

In the Realm of Dreaming

Okay, first of all, I'd like to say that in the first draft of this post, I was at 1,300 words when I decided it was getting too long and I started over to condense it.

As Filipino book readers, we rarely ever get a chance to see or meet our favorite foreign authors. So it was a joy to find out that Neil Gaiman is having an event at El Centro, Subic Bay. There was going to be a book reading, Q&A, and book signing. Awesome.

It was a 9 AM event (morning, not so awesome). We were told that the drive to Subic is about 2 to 3 hours long. That meant that we had to leave about four hours before the event, you know, allocating for time to get lost like we always do. Estimated time of departure, 5 AM. The problem with that is that Friday night, I got back home from the office around midnight, five hours before we have to leave. When I got home, I ate dinner, planned the trip, and looked at updates on the approaching typhoon. When I looked at the clock again, it was already 3:30 AM. We have to leave in 90 minutes. Sleeping and then getting back up in an hour is just going to make me feel miserable. So I decided to stay up.

By the time we left, it was already 20 hours since I last slept. I was tired. We got to Subic Bay with no problems. We got there an hour early. It had been announced that only the first 100 people would be guaranteed to get a book signed. I didn't expect to be part of that hundred as the last time Neil was here, several people had started lining up four to five hours before the actual event. But when we got there, we were told that we were in the first hundred. Great! I guess the fact that it was a paid event and it was in Subic made it inaccessible to a lot of his fans. We later found out that some people had actually started lining up at 12:30 am. I'm pretty sure those are the Sandman fans.

They started letting people in. Two huge guys in blood red shirts with 'Security' printed on it were patting down everyone. They had a bomb sniffing dog there too. When we got in, they tagged us with stickers on our chest. We were labeled Mrs. 85 and Mr. 86. Yey! As part of the tickets, we also got a signed copy of the Beowulf Script Book written by Neil Gaiman himself and Roger Avary. I also purchased a hardbound copy of Interworld for Neil to sign. We were then ushered to our designated seats. Very organized. After a few minutes, a guy comes up to the stage and says, "Hi, I'm a gay man but not the Gaiman you came here to see". The crowd gives a polite laugh. He then proceeds to tell us that if we wanted a dedication on our book, we should write it down on a Post-It together with our name. Then, right when I was thinking people could take advantage of that, someone raised their hand and asked, "You mean he'll write anything we want?" The guy said yes, and only instructed people to be brief. Wow, I thought. Lots of damage can be done with a brief signed message.

1. *blank* gets everything when I die.
2. I have sold my
soul to *blank*
3. I disinherit all my kids a
nd adopt *blank*
4. I stole all my stories from *blank*
5. *blank* is th
e Forgotten God in American Gods.
6. *blank*'s break-up with Delight turned her into Delirium.

Imagine all those ending with Neil's signature.

So, Neil comes up on stage to loud applause. He starts the event with an introduction to the book he was currently writing, The Graveyard Book, and reads us the first chapter. The only problem during the reading was that I was really tired. There were a couple of times that I nodded off for a second or two. I hope he didn't see me. It wasn't that I was bored. It was a situation where the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. Anyway, I loved what I heard and I'm looking forward to picking up a copy. Transcript of the talk and a recording of the reading can be found here (courtesy of Charles Tan).

I think the bit he wanted to do most was address the audience. This is the second time that Neil has come to the Philippines. The first time was two years ago, through the efforts of Fully Booked (So thank you Fully Booked. You guys are pricey but you have a great selection). After that last visit, he felt that there was a lot of talent here in the Philippines that needed an outlet to showcase their work. So he initiated talks with Fully Booked and organized a graphic novel and writing contest. So there was a contest and there are already winners. One of the reasons for him coming here was to launch the book containing the works of the winners from the last competition and to judge the entries for this year's event. This makes me admire the man more. He's giving a lot of his time to nurture Filipino artists and give them a shot at making a career out of their passion.

We line up for the book signing. After maybe half an hour, the wife and I are close to our turn. I run everything down in my mind. Camera, check. Books, check. Post-it, check. Then, I stand beside him. He says 'hello', takes the Post-It to read my name and then pauses. I had written down 'Echu'. He doesn't know how to pronounce it. He shakes it off, and starts writing down my name on the book and the dedication. I had written down 'Finish things.' He writes it down as 'Echu! Finish things!' and signs it. So now I had a mandate from Neil Gaiman to finish what I'm writing. What I had asked him to write came from the talk he gave before the signing. He tells us that aspiring writers often ask him what advice he can give them. His response is 'Write'. I understand what he means. A lot of people say they dream of being a writer but don't actually work on it. Write. No one is going to come up to you and give you a contract out of the blue. Write, send it in and try again. Okay, what if I already am writing? His response to that is "Finish it." Right. Guilty as charged. I have tried to write before, had ideas for a story, but haven't seen them through. Only a couple of pages have ever gone down to paper. So that's what I asked him to write as a dedication. After signing it, he hands the book back to me and I said 'Thank you Neil', very casually that I surprised myself. And he said, "You're very welcome". Then I got a picture taken with him. Lovely.

We get down from the stage, and sit down. Done. We look over our books. Show each other what he had written down. Now, we begin to feel the weight of the day and what we had to do to get back home. Too much. Let's get something to eat first. We had lunch in Jollibee. We were in Subic Bay and we had lunch in Jollibee. People go up here for weekend retreats and we eat at Jollibee. Why would we do that? Well, we were already too tired to make a decision where to eat or look for a good place. So we just went with our default place. Yes I know, we're not ten year olds, but hey, what can say, I love their chicken and palabok. After lunch, we looked at each other. We're in Subic. People come up here for weekend getaways. They have duty free shops. Nah, let's just go home.

Driving home was terrible. At this point, I haven't had sleep for almost thirty hours and I had three hours of driving to look forward to. Doubted if we could make it back. Discussed staying. Too expensive, can't afford it. We decide to push on. Started driving back, but I was struggling to stay awake. Micro slept a couple of times. It was getting too dangerous. An hour and a half into it, we stopped at gas station. I napped for ten minutes. I felt better, but still terrible. We start again. Doing better this time, I stopped nodding off and just felt like hell. Sped through the highway at an average of hundred miles an hour (which is the legal speed limit). I'm guessing though, my speedometer is broken. Twelve hours after we left for Subic, we were back home.

After 100 miles of driving, 36 hours with no sleep, and 6 hours on the wheel, I was exhausted and brain functions were minimal. But still, I was grateful for the day.

Right. So the second draft wasn't short either. Hey, can't say I didn't try.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Missus Chronicles #1: The Blind Milkshake

The missus was cleaning out the closet under our stairs. That's where we keep old shoes, boxes, dead bodies, and other miscellaneous things we don't often use in the house. When I got home, the missus told me that I had several pairs of old shoes we should just get rid of.
missus: Let's just give them away. The only problem is that we don't know anyone who has feet as big as yours.

me: We could have a yard sale. I already have a jingle in mind. It goes like this:

My shoes bring all the boys to the yard.
And they're like, bigger than yours
Damn right, bigger than yours
I can fit you but I would have to charge.
I start laughing, she isn't.
me: What? You don't know Milkshake?
She gives me a blank look.
missus: Milkshake?

me: Never mind.
She resumes her rant.
missus: I had a hell of a time moving out all your shoes. They're heavy as hell. I never really appreciated why people ask you to take off your shoes when you get on a weighing scale until now. Ordinary people would have to take off a couple of pounds for their clothes and shoes when they get on a scale. You would probably have to take off half a dozen pounds.

me: Quit it. Besides, now that you mention it, it's probably the only heavy lifting I ever do.
I was playing around with a fancy pen someone gave me while we were having this conversation. I liked the way it felt as I used it to write. I have awful penmanship. I was writing down random things trying my best to write nicely. I wrote down the following:

Roses are red, violets are blue,
if you were reading this, and didn't know any better
you'd think I was blue.
The missus looks over my shoulder, read what I was writing down. She takes my pen from me, crosses out the word 'blue' and replaces it with the word 'blind'. She laughs hysterically.

*sigh* Some people run and hide from their bullies. I apparently married mine.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Serving the Engine

So, it's really been awhile since I wrote a full blog post. This is the longest dry spell yet. It feels like the last couple of months just blurred by me. *puff* Two months.

This blog is turning out to be like the journals that I used to have. If you flipped through it, you would see in the first few page that I had entries once a week, then it would drop to once a month, then there would be gaps of years between entries. The only difference is that it's harder to misplace this blog. Of course, I'm also more discrete in the things I choose to write. Before the missus and I were married, I once caught her secretly reading my journal. The first thing she did was flip through it and look for entries I wrote about her. It's a good thing that I did write about her. Also a good thing that they leaned towards the positive side. Otherwise, we might never have been married. I might have ended up with Angelina Jolie and that would have been unfortunate. I don't think I could have handled the glitz and glamour. What? Well yeah, I'm probably more likely to get adopted than married by her. But that's the good thing about hypotheticals, reality is an adjustable parameter.

Back on track, serving the engine. What is it about, well, it an effort to get myself to post more often. It's a source for ideas. The search engine. I noticed that this blog is getting hits from people looking for stuff completely unrelated to anything I have written. By the way, if you ever want to be given credibility in any professional field, never use the word "stuff". Anyway, I digress. For example, can you guess what's the top search term for this blog? I get hits from Google and Yahoo everyday from this search results. It's "I love you like a fat kid loves cake".

Weird. I used it as a post title once on this entry. But I don't think people were looking for posts about pastries. So this is what Serving the Engine is about. Let's see if we can give these guys what they're looking for. Here's a link to the first in the series:

Serving The Engine #1: I Love You Like A Fat Kid Loves Cake

This is the second series that I'm putting into this blog. The first one was Cerebral Flatulence. This will be random stuff. Sometimes weird things pop into my head, brain farts, if you will. Don't worry, there are no voices there telling me to kill everyone. Just weird senseless mundane stuff. Sometimes they become full on blog posts, but most of the time I can't make anything of them. So the Cerebral Flatulence will be quickies. Postings a couple of sentences long. Just an outlet for me to "release" that mind gas. Hopefully these things will create more frequent postings. Bring on the rain.

Serving The Engine #1: I Love You Like A Fat Kid Loves Cake

What is Serving the Engine?

Okay, so you're here and you're looking for "I love you like a fat kid loves cake" or something like that. Well you're not alone. As of today, more than 60% of you who come through from Google to this blog was searching for that term. It's due to this post that you're getting here and it probably has nothing to do with what you're looking for. Well, just so that you would not have wasted your time coming to this blog, I'm going to try and help you out.

Okay, so what ARE you looking for? My first guess is that you heard it somewhere and you're wondering where it came from. That was at least the case for myself. I thought it was funny. I first heard it from Fiddy's "21 Questions". Here's an excerpt of the song:

How deep is our bond if that's all it takes for you to be gone?
And always remember girl we make mistakes, to make it up I do whatever it
I love you like a fat kid love cake
You know my style I say anything to make you smile
(link to full lyrics)

You can check out the video on YouTube at this link. But the next question is, did he come up with it? The term has an entry in the Urban Dictionary. It cites "21 Questions" as a song having the phrase and also says that it is 'popular in the Chicago area to say to someone you adore'. I don't know how true that is, as the Urban Dictionary is probably even less reliable than Wikipedia. But let's assume it is true; The entry is none specific on whether or not it's popular in the Chicago area because of Fiddy's song or if he picked it up there. It's probably worth mentioning that Fiddy isn't from Chicago, he's from New York. My searches didn't turn up anything else on who coined the phrase or where it came from, so not much help there.

Now some searches are more specific. Like "picture of fat kid loves cake". Well, let's try to help these people too. I just hope that this isn't some kind of twisted fetish. Well, first there is this T-shirt at The shirt has a kid, a cake, the phrase, but a little lean on the fat. So here's an image I picked up from Stroller Derby accompanied by an article entitled Kids Gain Weight Over Summer Vacation. It's got the healthy kid, a cake, but not much eating. To make up for the eating, here's is a picture of several women devouring cake. And just for good measure, I threw in a picture of a kid post cake disaster. So, that's that. We have served the engine and hopefully helped some people.

If you have something to add or correct, please leave a comment. I'll credit you and update this post.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cerebral Flatulence #1: Grease

My hair gets greasy at the end of the day. I don't put anything on it. I should go on a diet. I'm getting so fat grease is oozing out of my scalp.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An Audible Dose of Nostalgia

After a long, long search, I have finally found it. Call me corny, but this is the fondest song from my childhood. I think I accidentally kicked one of my friends in the face while fooling around and hyper on this song. I also might have fallen a flight of stairs. Kids who grew up in the Philippines in the 80's, I've got a super treat for you. Put your headphones on full volume and get ready for a mega-dose of nostalgia. Press play.

And just so not to spoil the effect of the song , I'm not embedding this YouTube video as you would instantly know which song/movie it is. I'm just linking to it, if you're ready for another shot, click here. This is one of my all time favorite movies ever! My friends and I were talking about this movie for months after seeing it. Of course it was merely following a trend at the time it was released and capitalizing on the success of movies like KK and KK2. But hey! We were kids, we didn't care. Mahiwagang Gusi!

Update: A couple of people have chimed in. I guess I have to emphasize that this is for people who grew up in the 80s, not born in the 80s. Wow, now I feel old.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

1st Anniv: Crack Shot, Cracked Voice

Today is the first anniversary of this blog (yey!). There have been a few title iterations, the first one was Pitik Blog (baduy!), then Kastilyong Buhangin, and now Pinoy Pie. And just because, here's a link to the first post.

Blogger introduced a new feature last month: video uploading. When you want to put an original video on your blog, you don't have to go through a third party service such as YouTube, you can directly upload on Blogger. Very cool, so of course, I felt obligated to use it. The following video is my first time in a live shooting range.

I guess all that money spent shooting plastic ducks and toy soldiers paid off. So don't mess with me. I keep a gun in the car. I don't have a license to carry a firearm, so it's a water pistol for now. To make it more lethal, I have filled it with soap water. You hassle me, I'll shoot you in the eye. Believe me, it's gonna hurt. Maybe it's not too late to change careers. I always wanted to be a cop. It shouldn't be hard to transition. I already have the body type of the average Manila policeman.

Warning, the following paragraph contains several references to undesirable bodily gas emanations.

My darling wife, who tolerates my burping during meals, who can stand me farting in the car with the windows rolled up, and who can give me a kiss even with morning breathe - draws the line at my singing. I always thought I was a bad singer, but never really appreciated how bad until now. To think that once upon a time, someone actually asked me to sing a duet on stage.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Beauty and Prosthetics

Before I knew of Sarah Connor or Hellboy, there was Catherine (Beauty) and Vincent (Beast). One of the first "grown-up" (i.e. none cartoon) shows I got into when I was young was the live action TV series Beauty and the Beast. I have memories of lying down at the foot of my parent's bed watching Vincent running off to save Catherine from some danger. You know, cause women are always getting into trouble, fictional or otherwise (kidding!). This show was probably one of the things that introduced me to the beauty of poetry and fostered my reverence for books. A lot of poetry and prose is entwined into the series and it seemed all the characters loved to read and were always carrying books. Those scenes under the city in the tunnels seemed to me what poetry would look like; sepia, soft focused, deep, dark and peaceful. Here's the intro to the series:

What inspired this entry is the theme song to the show. I've had The First Time I Loved Forever in my play list ever since I knew what a play list was. It was one of the first songs that went into my MP3 collection and it's never been off it ever since. Click play below to listen to the song:

I never get tired of listening to it.
It was sung by Lisa Angelle. The poem read by Ron Perlman was written by E.E. Cummings, entitled Somewhere I Have Never Traveled. The song itself was written by Melanie Safka. There is an interview of her at this link where she briefly tells the experience of writing the song. She deservingly won an Emmy for it.

I guess the reason why the song recently resonated with me more than usual is the fact that our wedding anniversary is coming up (Sept 18). And to my surprise, when I was writing this and doing some fact checks, I found that the show is going to be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The show premiered on September 25, 1987. Fans have put together a series of documentaries where they share their love for the show. You can find them all on YouTube, here's a link to the play list. Didn't realize that Beauty and the Beast had an annual convention.

I remember having a crush on Catherine (Linda Hamilton) at that time. See how I had to qualify that statement with "at the time"? Men, that's what being married does to you. Of course, even if I met the 1987 Linda Hamilton now, I wouldn't flinch. Cause I love my wife very much and she's way more beautiful than Linda Hamilton (now Mrs. Cameron). The fact that my wife reads this blog has nothing to do with why I felt it necessary to make that statement. Nothing at all. Honest. (*love you!*)

Hey, speaking of Hellboy, Hellboy 2 (The Golden Army) is already filming. Guillermo del Toro, Ron Perlman, Selma Blair are all back. Also, according to IMDB, del Torro turned down directing Halo (offered by Peter Jackson) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince so he can direct Hellboy 2. Wow, I can't wait. Loved the first one. Guillermo has mentioned that he wanted Hellboy to be a trilogy.

When I was writing, I was thinking to myself "Ron Perlman should do book tapes". Well, apparently he's been doing that for awhile and he does a lot of voice acting too. He's done several popular DC and Marvel characters. Here's a list of his credits on Wikipedia. It's far from complete. Here's a link to for a list of his book tapes.

Also, remembering watching this series when I was young also brought back memories of my favorite snack: Munchies! It was made by Jack & Jill snacks, if I remember correctly. I used to go to our neighbor's sari-sari store and get it along with a Coca-cola 500ml. Of course, I didn't carry any money back them, so I just tell the person minding the store to put it on my mom's tab. My mom tells me that I use to bring all my friends at that store and get everyone something and also put it on her tab. Sometimes she tells this story fondly and other times she gives me a stare down afterwards.

Does anyone remember Munchies? It was a cheese snack, a wavy zig-zag shaped thing. I remember the pieces being big. It made Chiz Curls snackers look like wimps. I loved it! I think it was phased-out in the 90s. I wonder why. It wasn't doing well? I don't see any Munchies mutant babies around, and I'm perfectly normal (hold the objections). Hey, if some rookie working in URC food corporation is looking for a good idea to make his career, here 's one: bring back Munchies! I tried to look for relevant content on Munchies on the websternets. I was saddened to find nothing but brief mentio
ns. I was expecting to find tribute sites and all those kinds of things. You have failed me Internet! I thought you to be the compendium of all things good in the world (as well as a generous amount of really nasty and outright horrible things).

"DAMN YOU INTERNET! DAMN YOU!!" he shouts as he shakes his fists at the computer. He runs out of the room, crying like a little girl, into the rainy dark night. After a few minutes of running (well it was actually less than a minute, cause he's fat and all that) he stops and leans against the brick facade of an old neighborhood store (it was a pizzeria, he went in that direction by instinct). He tries to catch his breath between the sobs (you know, cause it's the most work-out he's had for months). It was then that he noticed a silhouette in the dark alley beside the store walking slowly towards him. The figure is wearing a hood, which made its presence even more ominous. Fear grips him. He is frozen and too tired to run again (fat!). Just before the stranger stepped into the beam of light coming from the street light, it stops. His heartbeat skips, and his breath quickens. The figure moves and reaches inside its cloak. Light hits his face when he moves his head to gaze at the man. It is Vincent!

He looks down at the stiff and silent man cowering underneath the weight of his stare. He speaks to the man "I know what it is you're searching for." The familiarity of Vincent’s voice soothes him and he remembers to draw breath. Vincent continues "It is a hard life, living under the city. We cannot farm and grow our own food. To live the life we chose, we must forget pride. Or at least the type of pride that those who live above espouse. We scavenge. We take what the city discards, we take what you forget. So it was with what you search for. It was forgotten. Unceremoniously purged from memory. Only small voices inquired where it had gone, only small voices uttered its name. But small voices are fickle, they learn to love other things quickly and they soon forget. Thus it was for this thing, and the memory soon faded."

Listening distracts him from his fear and he manages a question, "This is how it was forgotten, but how was it lost?". Vincent answers "There was no great love among the people here for this thing even at it’s birth, when it initially came to be among you. So it was that its makers stored it away. This away place we found as it was connected to one of our passages. We waited weeks, months, for we do not take anything that might create attention. No one came, so we took a few. Still no one came. So after another long wait, we took a few more, and then again. This we did until nothing was left, but still no questions were asked and no one looked for them. It was a long while before we saw somebody again in that place. But they did not come to look for what we took. They came to store new things, new things that we did not touch for men came often to take away and store these things."

This revelation overwhelms him, he asks "So you have all the Munchies in the world?!" Vincent smirks "Look at my fingers, and my lips, they are yellow". He was shocked "I thought that was because you were the same shade as the lions of far away Africa!". Vincent laughs "My fur is naturally a darker brown, I'm just covered in cheese and that makes me look golden. We've lived off Munchies all these years. Man, I tell you. You do not want to be caught down in the tunnels at night. That's not fog you're seeing. Flatulence down there is so thick it started diffusing light.

Man: Wow, brings a whole new meaning to cutting the cheese huh?
Vincent: You're telling me.
Man: Can I have some Munchies?
Vincent: Nope, we have to ration it so that it lasts a few more years.
Man: Please!
Vincent: Well, you can lick my fur!
Man: Thanks man! You're the beast!

So what do you think? Season 4 episode?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Inmates' New Groove

Byron Garcia strikes again and delivers on his promise of a 'Together in Electric Dreams' routine from the prison inmates. It looks like some kind of deal was brokered with CNN as they got to show the routine first before Byron Garcia put up a video of it under his YouTube account. Here's a link to the CNN video. And here's a link to my previous post on the Thriller video.

CNN did the camera work on this one and it seems several were used (getting fancier!). They did some close-ups of the inmates this time too and you know what? If I ever meet one of these guys, I'm not going to make a wise crack about their dancing.

The flag thing at the end was a bit out of place don't you think?

Update (9/7/2007): Video finally on YouTube. It's still not on Byron Garcia's account and only a copy of the CNN video.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pull My Finger

I never really thought about which finger my wedding ring should be. When I got married and we had our exchange of vows almost three years ago (Sept 18!), my wife slipped my wedding ring into my left ring finger. That's where it has stayed since. I have only ever taken it out a handful of times since then. Usually when I wash the car myself, which is less often than I should.

Since then though, other people have come up to me and asked me why my wedding ring was on my left hand. Some have asked that shouldn't it be on my right. I usually respond by telling them that that's where my wife placed it when we got married and I didn't see any reason to move it. Some have told me that traditionally, it was placed on the right ring finger. When I ask why that is, I really haven't gotten a good response on that other than "it's tradition".

So, being the inquisitive and lazy researcher that I am, I turned to the Internet for answers. Here are a few things I found. An excerpt from the Wikipedia article for Wedding Ring:

In some Western cultures (USA, UK, France, Sweden), the wedding ring is worn on the left hand. This choice of finger relates to traditions purportedly dating to classical times, from an early usage reportedly referring to the fourth finger of the left hand as containing the vena amoris or "vein of love" or veia d'amore. At least in part due to this tradition, it became acceptable to wear the wedding ring on this finger. By wearing rings on the fourth finger of their left hands, a married couple symbolically declares their eternal love for each other. This has now become a matter of tradition and etiquette in these countries.

In other countries such as Germany, Greece, Rus
sia, Spain, India, Colombia, Venezuela and Chile, however, it is worn on the right hand. Orthodox Christians and Eastern Europeans also traditionally wear the wedding band on the right hand. Jewish couples wear the wedding ring on the left hand, even though it is placed on the right hand during the marriage ceremony. In The Netherlands, Catholic people wear it on the left, all others on the right; in Austria, Catholic people wear it on the right. In Belgium, the choice of hand depends on the region of the country.

Greek people, many being Orthodox Christians, also wear the wedding rings on the right hand in keeping with Greek tradition. A traditional reason to wear the wedding ring on the right hand stems from Roman custom. The Latin word for left is "sinister", which in addition to this sense also has the same senses as the English word. The Latin word for right is "dexter", a word that evolved into "dexterity". Hence, the left hand had a negative connotation and the right a good one.
So really, there is no universally accepted standard where to wear your wedding ring. It really depends where you are or what tradition you're following. One reason some cultures wear it on their right hand is that they consider the right hand auspicious than the left "sinister".

Here's a more academic approach to the subject and another reason why a wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger:
Aulus Gellius tells us that Appianus asserts in his Egyptian books that a very delicate nerve runs from the fourth finger of the left hand to the heart, on which account this finger is used for the marriage ring. (Noctes, x. 10.)

The fact has nothing to do with the question; that the ancients believed it is all we require to know. In the Roman Catholic Church, the thumb and first two fingers represent the Trinity: thus the bridegroom says, “In the name of the Father,” and touches the thumb; “in the name of the Son,” and touches the first finger; and “in the name of the Holy Ghost” he touches the long or second finger. The next finger is the husband's, to whom the woman owes allegiance next to God. The left hand is chosen to show that the woman is to be subject to the man. In the Hereford, York, and Salisbury missals, the ring is directed to be put first on the thumb, then on the first finger, then on the long finger, and lastly on the ring-finger, quia in illo digito est quadam vena procedens usque ad cor.

The ring finger. Mr. Henry Swinburne, in his Treatise of Spousals, printed 1680 (p. 208), says: “The
finger on which this ring [the wedding-ring] is to be worn is the fourth finger of the left hand, next unto the little finger; because by the received opinion of the learned ... in ripping up and anatomising men's bodies, there is a vein of blood, called vena amoris, which passeth from that finger to the heart.” (link to article)
A little history on the use of wedding bands. Uhm, feminist beware:
There are no instances of wedding bands in the Old or New Testament. However, this is to be expected because wedding bands were a Roman invention. Traditionally, wedding bands were not wedding bands at all, but betrothal rings. In Roman times, wives were little more than a husband's property. Generally the groom's family would cut a financial deal for the bride during the betrothal ceremony (i.e., provide a dowry to the bride's family). When the deal had been made, the bride-to-be would be given a plain iron betrothal ring to wear. It is no coincidence that this is exactly the kind of ring slaves were required to wear; both were considered property of their masters!

The exchange of rings at weddings (instead of betrothal ceremonies) did not occur until the fourth century. The so-called "double-ring ceremony" is a 20th century innovation; such a ceremony would have made no sense in earlier times when the ring was a symbol of being owned by someone else. By the 20th century the true historical significance of the marital ring had been lost. (link to full article)
A few more historical tidbits:
According to some historians, the first recorded marriage rings date back to the days when early man tied plaited circlets around the Bride's wrists and ankles to keep her spirit from running away. Approximately 3,000 BC, Egyptians originated the phrase "without beginning, without end" in describing the significance of the wedding ring. These rings were made of woven hemp which constantly wore out and needed replacement. Although Romans originally used iron, gold is now used as a symbol of all that is pure. Diamonds were first used by Italians who believed that it was created from the flames of love. In some European cultures, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. In other cultures, an engagement ring is worn on the left hand, and the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. (link to full article)
So there you go. Next person to tell me I should be wearing my wedding ring on my right is going to get an earful.

But for the hopeless romantics out there, here's a better story to tell why the wedding rings are worn where they are:
Why should the wedding ring be worn on the fourth finger?

There is a beautiful and convincing explanation given by the Chinese Legend:

- Thumb represents your Parents
- Second (Index) finger represents your Siblings
- Middle finger represents your-Self
- Fourth (Ring) finger represents your Life Partner
- The Last (Little) finger represents your children

Firstly, open your palms (face to face), bend the middle fingers and hold them together - back to back. Secondly, open and hold the remaining three fingers and the thumb - tip to tip (As shown in the figure).

Now, try to separate your thumbs (representing the parents), they will open, because your parents are not destined to live with you lifelong, and have to leave you sooner or later.

Please join your thumbs as before and separate your Index fingers (representing siblings), they will also open, because your brothers and sisters will have their own families and will have to lead their own separate lives.

Now join the Index fingers and separate your Little fingers (representing your children), they will open too, because the children also will get married and settle down on their own some day.

Finally, join your Little fingers, and try to separate your Ring fingers (representing your spouse). You will be surprised to see that you just cannot! This is because husband and wife have to remain together all their lives - through thick and thin!
(link to source)
Other Reads
- Why a wedding ring is worn on the third finger of the left hand
- Medieval and Renaissance Marriage: Theory and Customs by Kirsti S. Thomas
- Ritual of Marriage
- Wedding Traditions and Folklore