One word to describe George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones is tedious. It’s 807 pages with tiny print would surely eat plenty of your time. But once you begin leafing through the book’s pages, you’ll get quite hooked.
To be honest, I’m very new to reading fantasy novel of this kind – where knights, kings, and swords define life, and direwolves were taken in as domestic pets. Sue me but I am yet to read The Lord of the Rings (and probably other books of the same genre) and I have no point of comparison when it comes to how such a genre should be treated. Well, for something that didn’t initially interest me, A Game of Thrones sparked a desire in me to discover the political gruesomeness of the medieval times.
I’ve watched movies (I think) and heard stories about kings warring over the ultimate power and I find Martin’s plot quite usual. But I owe him the fascination I got on some of the characters he created – the bastard Jon Snow (whose pitiful chance at life he reiterated numerous times throughout the entire book as if we will forget), Arya, the bravest fictional little girl I’ve ever encountered, and Daenerys whose innocence and seemingly insignificant start ended up with a bang. However, I also hate the fact there are too many characters in the story, some of them forgettable characters with forgettable names.
Ask me if I’m gonna read the rest of the series. Sure, I will but I would probably be taking a break and go for a couple of easy reads before I indulge in Martin’s second installment in the Song of Ice and Fire series.
The Angel’s Game has its undeniable Carlos Ruiz Zafon literary genius all over it, albeit much darker than the Shadow of the Wind. The protagonist, David Martin, is a writer with a troubled childhood, who made a living out of writing sensationalist novels (under a pseudonym) that explored the deepest darkest mysteries of the city’s ‘underworld. In exchange for a hefty pay check, he agreed to write a book (described to have the power to change peoples’ hearts and minds) for a mysterious almost Phantom-ish French publisher named Andreas Corelli. What transpired next and in the most part of the book is a chain of sinister plots, deaths and murders, which Martin vowed to resolve but left him all the more broken and confused. I got quite confused, myself, to be honest.
Though I liked SOTW much better than this instalment, I am still in-love with Zafon’s prose. His description of the mystic early 20th century Barcelona, for one, is so vivid (shadowy arches, puffs of mists, darkened stone and dried-up fountains) that it has the ability to transport the reader back in the era, in that strange foreign land. I love how he revived the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere and Sons bookshop, giving SOTW fans like me quite a reminiscing of his first great piece. I adore Isabelle’s character more than his supposed true love in the story, Cristina. Martin and Isabelle’s quirky moments as boss and assistant-turned-friends gives off a light, warm feeling – a much needed break from the wicked-heavy plot.
The first half of the book had me clinging on to the pages but it got quite confusing as you near the end that made me put down the book numerous times. I feel like the story is peppered with too many characters – most of whom can be easily forgotten and didn’t contribute to the purpose of the story. I missed having SOTW’s Fermin Romero De Torres who is actually a page-turner, making the readers hungry for his words.
But don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of good quotes to savour in the book from the wisest:
“Envy is the religion of the mediocre. It comforts them, it soothes their worries, and finally it rots their souls, allowing them to justify their meanness and their greed until they believe these to be virtues. Such people are convinced that the doors of heaven will be opened only to poor wretches like themselves who go through life without leaving any trace but their threadbare attempts to belittle others and to exclude – and destroy if possible – those who, by the simple fact of their existence, show up their own poorness of spirit, mind, and guts. Blessed be the one at whom the fools bark, because his soul will never belong to them.”
… to the wittiest:
“Silence makes idiots seem wise even for a minute.”
Overall, I would still recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of books and into dark mysterious novels. But if you haven’t read the SOTW, I strongly suggest you have a go at it first for a true taste of Zafon’s genius.
This happened almost a week ago but it’s worth telling.
I know that they exist everywhere in this small community on top of the mountain. But never in my dreams did I think of seeing one up close, slithering barely three meters away from where I sat while listening to a friend’s guitar rendition of an Air Supply hit.
The moment he, in a very calm manner, said: ‘Thet, ‘wag kang tatakbo, may ahas” I disapparated and found myself inside the guesthouse dining hall, behind the screen door, with the loudest heartbeat I had in years. I was scared shit.
I left my friend to deal with the creepy crawling creature by himself. I kind of selfishly neglected the thought that he might be afraid of snakes too. But low and behold, his reaction was swift, almost like a warrior, armed with a wooden pole, targeting at the helpless creature’s head for a sudden death. It took him less than 10 minutes to completely get rid of the snake. He didn’t stop until it was dead.
Later on, he would admit how grossed out and scared he was after almost 10 minutes of tring to crush its brains out. “Yak, napi-feel kong nadudurog yung laman nya!” he would quip later when we were relieving the ahas encounter.
Just yesterday, one of the manangs in the guest house said they saw two relatively big snakes (one black and the other one brown) slithering near the gutter at the pathway leading to the Annex (where I am currently staying, OhmyLawwd!!!) Call me paranoid I don’t care but I am the biggest schmuck-face you would ever see while trying to get past that pathway – half-running, half-crying while trying to go home to my room.
I am being bullied.
By a rat.
How do I explain this?
Since I came back from my week-long home leave, I found myself being terrorized by a rat as big as a kitten (no exag!) The funny thing was I didn’t realize what was happening until I found my Sunflower crackers pack half-empty when I had a sudden craving and opened my desk drawer. It was actually a ‘clean’ crime. The only indication that the culprit was a rat is that the packaging had teeth and claw marks on it (if you get what I mean).
There were signs – I always find my wall photos scattered on my desk, the picture frames upturned, there were tiny rat poops (at first only few but then it got merciless and started sh*tting everywhere!) and even urine on top of my working desk! I was in denial and thought that maybe a human got curious and moved some of my things.
Then last Monday, I found my office ransacked… again. After cleaning my desktops, the book/magazine racks, the whiteboard, and drawers, I moved on to the pull-out of my bigger desk and the moment I tugged at it, a bunch of tissues fell down with the big rat jumping and running away from the crime scene. That was the loudest shriek I let out in years. It must’ve been really hungry and ate (and stored) the tissue papers instead.
It was gross. Just thinking about how big that rat is gives me goosebumps.
One of my officemates said I should talk to the rat and make peace with it. It feels weird talking to a rat so I just shrugged it off. It must’ve heard or seen my reaction ‘coz it got angry and terrorized me even more the following day.
Rat poops and piss everywhere, photos scattered, a window sill was half-eaten and part of my wall was torn. Maybe it was finding an escape hole and failed . I was really scared opening my drawers, ‘coz I was sure it was still there. And sure enough, the darn thing was munching on my marshmallows in the top drawer of my smaller table.
My rat dialogue ‘advisor’ told me she had an epiphany. She and the rat had an eye contact and she told it to not bother me anymore. She was convinced it wouldn’t but asked the errand boys to board up all possible escape anyway, including a vent that was my only source of the cold, fresh air from outside when the wind blows from the South.
I am worrying and it kills me. I’m afraid it will be there again tomorrow waiting for the next perfect opportunity to scare the bejesus out of me and scream “rats!”
A preview of what I will be ranting about in a little while:
Above is the sorry condition of my right big toe, the left side of which kind’a resembled a skinless chicken longanisa without that bandage. Trust me, it wasn’t an exaggeration. Oh, and the ointment I put to relieve the pain is the mayonnaise that completes the entree. Gross, I know.
So, what’s the story, clumsy me?
Nothing fancy like falling down an empty ditch hole (like what happened to me last October). This time, I just decided to attack the ground on my way home from work. Or, I got curious and tested the force of gravity and it showed me. Showed me big time who’s the boss.
I was wearing this:
While flailing my arms like mad and wearing ten levels of ‘unpaintable’ expression on my face, about a second before I hit the ground, I got flashbacks – not of the vivid memories of my happy life but of the most embarrassing situations I’ve gotten myself into just because I was at the 2nd row, with both feet sticking out when the heavens blessed us earthlings with the gift of ehem… clumsiness.
I would be lying if I say I don’t
always wish I’d float and stay there five inches above the the ground ala-Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible whenever one of my feet betrays me. I was always hopeful someone would yell ‘Wingardium Leviosa!’ to keep me floating. Too much Harry Potter I know.🙂
Anyhow, that’s the reason why I went to work in my yucky Banana Peel (felt more like wearing the old-school Spartan) and I kept getting ‘the look’ from people it was a bit embarrassing too.
Moral lesson: Don’t wear open-toe, cute sandals with a slippery sole at work in this kind of environment, where concrete and paved walkways are uphill. I think I’d be reuniting with my great ‘ol Chucks very soon.
Yesterday, I had the chance to attend a writing workshop that our company has sponsored. The ‘ABLE Source Workshop’ was actually intended for information officers / public relations and media relations officers to help us understand how the local Baguio community papers run and what they expect from news sources like us.
I was excited to attend the workshop for the simple reason that I would love to have a refresher on news writing, plus I’d get the chance to meet the editors and publishers of the local papers. Despite the small number of attendees, the event was a success as it was all about learning and camaraderie (for some reason, it makes me wanna puke putting those words together). And most importantly, it made me want to write again. Write in a way that I respect my own writing and not just write because I wanted to claim myself as a writer.
Hearing the likes of Frank Cimatu, Malou Guieb, Eli Refuerzo and the others talk about writing made me me miss it a lot. It made me hungry of the forgotten knowledge I acquired back in college as a journalism graduate. Kuya Frank said you gotta train to be a good writer. And by training, it means writing every day – anything under the sun that you can write about – and read read read! Ms. Malou said something about ‘painting pictures with words.’ I believe at one point in my life, I was pretty good at that, even losing myself while stitching my words, but I woke up one day not knowing how to even draw. Lame.
I used to read 3 to 4 books in a month – that was before I got eaten up by work (and Facebook!) So I am seriously considering minimizing my Facebook (and Social Media-ing) time and devote more of it in reading books. I probably have around five still untouched (still have cover in them!) books lying in my bookshelf in Makati and 3 more here in Benguet, which I so eagerly bought with me but turned out to be dust eaters.
I hope I would not eat my words (or blogs) later but I promise to write more frequently in this blog instead of staring at walls when I’m on my break mode (feeling sleepy or hungry or plain bored) while in the office or during my idle, ‘me’ moments.
So before I totally lose that ‘mojo,’ I’ll actually start practicing and this is my beginning.
Where have I been these days?
I’ve been to misery, bliss, misery, and then back to happiness. But everyday is a circle, I sometimes feel like I’m just going round and round.
The last few months have been quite stressful I gotta be honest. It went by swiftly that I hardly ever noticed calendars being ripped out to reveal new pages or that my journal’s been left empty again. I was heartbroken then redeemed. I felt for a while that I must be going nowhere but perseverance and positivity prevailed and I’m back on track.
I’d like to think that in life, nothing ever comes easy. Ironically, it’s easy for me that way – not expecting something grand would just happen without me doing anything to ‘invoke’ it. I’m not gonna go all Chinese and talk about ‘yin and yang’ or sing ‘ebony and ivory.’ I simply wanted to point out that based on the past recent significant events of my life, balance, indeed, is inevitable.
I’m a firm believer of equilibrium that sometimes when I laugh too hard (yes, almost rolling on the floor), I’m afraid that in a few minutes, I’ll be crying about something. Sounds like paranoia but its not. I just believe that the universe has the tendency to put balance when there’s an excess of something – be it something good or bad.
Now, I’m almost on my 6th month on the job and I was told that I’ve been regularized last February 1. One of the best birthday gifts (ever!) But to quote Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ and this responsibility of yours truly has started pouring in like water from a bottomless pit.
Again, balance. All I have to do is hold my head high, look straight and keep going.