double whammy

Today, my Inbox brings good tidings.

1) From Vanilla Press -

Dear Eliza,

Once again, I want to thank you for your submission “Summer Evening”.  Carrie, Ben and I were all extremely impressed with your skill and mastery of character.

We made the difficult decision not to include your story in the November issue, purely because we had accepted several suspense/horror stories already and wanted to maintain some genre variety.  However, we do hope you will allow us to publish it in the upcoming Winter 2011 edition, which will go live in February.

So I sent them an e-mail saying that February 2011 is good for me. That’s not too far away. :)

2) From Sarge Lacuesta, literary editor of the Philippines Free Press -

Hi Eliza,

Congratulations! Your story “Reunion” has been selected as a finalist for the 2009 Philippines Free Press Award [redacted]

The programme will begin at 6 o’clock in the evening. I do look forward to seeing you there, and I thank you for your excellent contribution to the country’s oldest magazine, and to Philippine Literature.

*confetti*

Somebody find me a dress.

the miracle life of edgar mint

I’ve always wondered how John Irving pitches his novels. They span years, feature a dozen or more characters, and contain stories that cannot possibly fit in a synopsis. A synopsis cannot do his novels justice. A plot outline will only reveal a tall tale with no heart.

Brady Udall’s The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint reminded me very much of John Irving’s novels, and it certainly contains the elements that tall tales are made of. Edgar Mint, half Apache and half Caucasian, is run over at the age of seven by a mailman’s vehicle. The vehicle’s wheel runs right over his head, and the mailman, howling, touches his skull and feels it give. That boy’s dead, a man in the crowd says, but Edgar survives (albeit with a lumpy head). And so his odyssey begins: from St. Divine’s, a hospital for the poor; to Willie Sherman, a school for delinquents; to a house filled with sad Mormons, to a doorstep in the rain. We know the basic elements of journeys: a growing collection of friends, a goal, self-discovery, many adventures – and that’s what we get here.

Sounds old? Perhaps, but Edgar Mint is a compulsive read, a captivating story. It moved me.

The Mighty Reading List!

Hunger Games

The Unnamed

Catching Fire

Mockingjay

We Are All Welcome Here

The Year of Fog

now reading: The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

Notes on Extinction

Wild Mind

The Spooky Art

20th Century Ghosts

on the side: Twisted 8 1/2, Storm of Swords, Scott Pilgrim, PSF V (last few stories!), 100 Bullets

new! Showbiz Lengua, Our Story Begins, Feast for Crows, PGS Horror and Christmas issues

philippine genre stories: christmas

Oh, I knew I did something wrong. I should have read the Philippine Genre Stories Horror issue first, in time for Halloween. Ah, well. At least the Christmas season is nigh, and this review is a better fit. (But I’ll review Horror in a future blog post anyway.)

The PGS Christmas issue was published in 2008. Christmas! Personally I wouldn’t dare touch the Christmas story, but authors Erica Gonzales and Dominique Cimafranca do a good job of offering us  alternative stories to the famous birth. In Gonzales’s “Jumper Cable: Crossing”, Jesus is a biological entity that has crossed over from a more advanced dimension, and the angel Gabriel is a Dimension Agent sent to the “vessel” Mary and her partner Joseph just so they won’t run around and panic. Written with the matter-of-fact tone of its bored protagonist, this is hands down my favorite story in the issue.

Cimafranca’s “Twilight of the Magi” features the Three Magi, but with the special powers of fire, wind, and lightning. The central question is: If the Magi’s magic is for the fight against evil, what will become of their powers once the Emissary arrives? Will the Magi be obsolete, useless?

M.R.R. Arcega’s “The Magic Christmas Box” reads like a parable. Quite sweet, and I ended up enjoying it, even though I’m sick and tired of Christmas parables. Michael Co’s “Off-Season” is a crime story, but I found it frustrating because it didn’t go all the way. Give me a murder, not a stolen bike. After the big reveal, I just shrugged and flipped the page.

Andrew Drilon’s “Noche Buena” is a romance story featuring Fiesta Ham and Quezo de Bola. Seeing the character names, I thought this is a humorous story, or a satire, or an existential story featuring talking ham. It’s not. It’s a straight romance with a tragic end that I just can’t take seriously because of the character names. There’s really something wrong if you find the Author’s Notes more heartbreaking than the actual story.

The Mighty Reading List!

Hunger Games

The Unnamed

Catching Fire

Mockingjay

We Are All Welcome Here

The Year of Fog

now reading: The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

Notes on Extinction

Wild Mind

The Spooky Art

20th Century Ghosts

on the side: Twisted 8 1/2, Storm of Swords, Scott Pilgrim, PSF V (last few stories!), 100 Bullets

new! Showbiz Lengua, Our Story Begins, Feast for Crows, PGS Horror and Christmas issues

just some random photos of food

1. So I’m sure you have heard the news that Jollibee has bought Mang Inasal for P3 billion. So maybe this explains the sudden disappearance of soy sauce in little air-filled plastic tubes (that you have to open carefully with your teeth or the tines of your fork, unless you want soy sauce all over your shirt) and actual calamansi from their rice meals.

Toyomansi! How horribly civilized! But at least they still included sili with the meal. We thought they now didn’t, at first, until we found the sili stuck in the underside of the chicken. Jaykie was so worried.

2. This is my favorite dessert combo from McDonald’s. Apple pie + plain vanilla sundae = apple pie a la mode. I invented this shit, yo. (Not very original, but let’s pretend I’m the first person in the  entire world to think this up.) We had it maybe two weeks ago, and again on Friday. The boyfriend liked it. My flabs screamed in revulsion but I ate the dessert anyway. It was heaven.

3. Despite the occassional apple pie a la mode or choco mousse or Mister Donut’s belgian choco dip (I have a sweet tooth, it is just IMPOSSIBLE to cut sweets from my life), I’m still sticking to my no-rice diet and my exercise regime (quite lousy, compared to other people’s: one-hour jog/brisk walking two to three times a week, and weights on Saturdays). I think it’s working. I think. I feel lighter now. I haven’t weighed myself yet, but I’m glad to know that I still got things under control.

4. If things go downhill again, I’ll try Mark Haub’s Twinkie Diet. It sounds awfully fun.

paprika

Dr. Tokita invents the DC Mini, a revolutionary device that allows the user to view a person’s dreams, as if it were a film. His colleague, Dr. Chiba, uses the device – illegally – to help patients outside the research facility. In dreams, Dr. Chiba assumes the form of the spunky, red-haired Paprika. Her current patient is Detective Toshimi, who is plagued with recurring dreams.

One day, Tokita and Chiba learn that the three DC Mini prototypes have been stolen, and dreams begin to bleed into each other.

This film by the late Satoshi Kon is said to have inspired Christopher Nolan’s wildly popular Inception. Kon’s film is decidedly the less lucid of the two, and strangely enough, the less filled with dread. This despite the nightmarish scenes. It’s a great ride.

we are all welcome here

It’s 1964. Segregation is in place. Racial tension is in the air. African-Americans are kept out of voting precincts but they are fighting back, because this is the summer of freedom. Or so they say. Diana lives in Tupelo, Elvis Presley’s birthplace. She lives in squalor with her sick mother, living off of her neighbors’ charity. Donated curtains, donated sheets, money, free groceries. They cheat the system, telling their social worker that Diana’s mother, Paige Dunn, has 24-hour help so they can receive the welfare checks intended to pay such help. In truth, at night till the wee hours of the morning, it is only Diana who tends to her mother’s needs.

Paige Dunn can only move her head. Stricken with polio while pregnant, she gave birth to Diana while inside an iron lung – a medical miracle. She also insisted, against the wishes of everyone around her, to take care of her own child. According to author Elizabeth Berg, Paige is inspired by the true story of Pat Raming.

I finished the story fairly quickly because Diana is an honest, feisty, engaging voice. However, despite all the foreshadowing, I was surprised by the improbable, fairy-tale twist. Berg actually went there. Huh. It felt as if several subplots were ended abruptly in order to have this happy ending: LaRue’s civil rights fight, Diana’s puberty. It could have been a longer book (What happened during Diana’s teenage years?), but Berg decided to just tie up all the loose ends in the Epilogue and call it a day.

But perhaps this is just the tale Berg wants to tell: a summer where things go downhill, and suddenly, very suddenly, change for the better. It’s a good enough story, as it is.

The Mighty Reading List!

(I’ve crossed out several books here that I haven’t read in full. They just couldn’t hold my attention. I give up. I’m sorry, Bookswap Girls. I’ll try harder next time. :))

Hunger Games

The Unnamed

Catching Fire

Mockingjay

We Are All Welcome Here

The Year of Fog

now reading: The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

Notes on Extinction

Wild Mind

The Spooky Art

20th Century Ghosts

on the side: Twisted 8 1/2, Storm of Swords, Scott Pilgrim, PSF V (last few stories!), 100 Bullets

new! Showbiz Lengua, Our Story Begins, PGS Horror and Christmas issues

cake with a side of guilt

So. Diet. Little to no rice, no sodas, no chips. Desserts should be limited only to fruits.It would really be best if I didn’t eat anything at all.

I want to lose weight so bad, but friends ask you out, and you ruin your diet willingly.

* * *

Jaykie and I went out with my high school friends on Friday. Dinner at Mang Jimmy’s. Had rice, had soda. Probably had too much tapa mix. After that, Banapple. I bought the Snickers cheesecake for me and the boyfriend, but also sampled 1) blueberry cheesecake; 2) cookie dough cheesecake; and 3) their famous banoffee. Probably gained ten pounds right there. But it’s always fun to go out with my high school friends. For some reason we ended up talking about Maria Ressa. (“Si Ging Reyes daw papalit. Bongga pala ‘yun. Akala ko itinapon lang siya sa Amerika.”)

Flashback: That morning I went with Jaykie to UP (he was just going to pay for the second sem – PMAM y’all). Walked in the rain. Typical, really, for rain to pour during enlistment period. I miss UP, but I don’t miss this torture. Jaykie wrung his shirt dry on the Bahay ng Alumni parking lot while I shielded him with my umbrella. Lunch at ROC, where I had fish and a slice of pastillas cheesecake. Mmm.

Saturday lunch was at Trinoma. Baked ziti and one-half of a pizza at Sbarro, then yogurt at Golden Spoon. Jaykie took me shopping as a birthday gift!

Kikomachine Komix No. 6:

A new mp3 player! (My Zen player conked out oh many months ago, and I’m too poor to buy an iPod.)

Shirts from Artwork, which entitled me to a free doodle book. :)

Thank you, Jake. :)

This cell phone bag I bought for myself. Only 80 pesos!

That night I was reading a book that mentioned chocolate, and all of a sudden I wanted chocolate. We ended up ordering from KFC. I had mousse but for the first time in my life, I had my rice replaced with a split bun (which by the way tasted like day-old bread).

I should exercise like a crazy person this week to burn all those calories gah.

But great weekend, as always.