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