Archive for July 2012

Notes on a photo

leave a comment »

I realized the only remaining hope for snail mail to exist is a postcard. It’s fulfillment is only upon the travelers. Its the most obvious thing.

Postcard 1

I don’t think there’s anything digital that will replace both charm and convenience of picking up a printed photograph, scribbling a quick message, pasting a stamp and dropping in a mailbox .

There’s also nothing like holding a postcard stamped by a post office in Athens and perhaps dog-eared on the edge on its way from Beijing.

Postcard 2


Written by markus

July 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Photography, Travel

Tagged with


leave a comment »

In the morning sometimes I immediately make my bed but I mostly wait for half an hour or longer before I do. There’s something about unmade bed in the morning that’s both wrinkled with last night’s memories and unsettled with today’s promise.

Written by markus

July 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Photography, Travel

Bursting at the seams

leave a comment »

It did feel like a long time ago since The Dark Knight came out. A quick IMDB search gives the exact time lapsed. 4 years. The Dark Knight, with Heath Ledger as The Joker, was released in 2008.

The Dark Knight Rises, as we know, is overshadowed by the horrific massacre in one of the midnight screenings of the movie in Colorado last Friday. At Theater 9 in Century 16 in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman sprayed bullets aimlessly on moviegoers a few minutes after the opening scenes.

When I was in Cinema 5 of Century in San Mateo this afternoon, while casually watching the advertisements before the trailers start, I tried to imagine what it would’ve been for those people to be sitting there all hyped up and excited for what adventure’s in store, all kinds of defenses ramped down, and see and hear a man randomly shooting at them. How could’ve they tried to duck behind the seats as quickly as they can? How dads and moms threw popcorn bags and grabbed their children and covered them? How some perhaps attempted to escape and get out but were actually shot? The horror must be unimaginable.

I didn’t intend to think about this thing in the cinema as I know it will dampen my experience of the movie. But it was instinctive. I don’t know how one cannot think and feel odd inside a movie house at the aftermath of that massacre. Only when I was able to shake that odd feeling off was I ready to enjoy what’s right before my eyes.

And boy was it a treat. An immensely satisfying treat.

Christopher Nolan would’ve to be one of my favorite directors. See, I’m not a Batman fan. I’m not a superhero of any kind fan. I mean, I probably like some of them but I don’t completely know their stories and so I don’t have any knowledge to base my becoming a fan of one or not. The latest Batman trilogy may have made me a Batman fan. Chris Nolan’s take on the franchise is not so much a movie about Batman the superhero as it is a movie about murder, corruption, lawlessness, anarchy and other social ills. And he’s told it darkly, eloquently.

Ironically, the very tragedy in Colorado is a subject matter in the movie. In one of the fight scenes, Batman told Catwoman to not use guns. To which Catwoman said, “Where’s the fun in that?” In the scene close to the end where she ended up saving Batman from Bane using a gun she remarked to the effect of, “Look a gun saved your ass!”

The Dark Knight Rises reached deeply and tried to tackle as much back stories as it can while on its way to saving Gotham. I don’t think Nolan taking time to study these characters made the movie lose its focus. The last part of the trilogy did not just rely on Batman. We know he will at the end of the day save the world and that’s the destination but the journey need not be completely about him too. That’s what it made it brilliant. The movie was able to link all these many other characters to the conclusive character, who is still Batman.

Seeing these kinds of movies is worth every centavo you spend. You feel like you really got what you paid for. The Dark Knight Rises is the movie equivalent of an all-you-eat lunch buffet. It’s so satisfying you’ll burst at the seams.

Written by markus

July 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Movies

Tagged with ,

One day a random solo

leave a comment »

One day I will just wake up and book a connecting flight from Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan. In subsequent days, I will be booking a tour in one of the Bhutanese tourist companies where I will carefully plan my trip with a personal tour guide. I will sigh from time to time because of a hefty $200 daily tariff that I need to pay during my visit. Then I will shrug it because a) that’s all inclusive (food, accommodation, everything) b) I’m finally travelling to the happiest place on Earth!

Visiting Bhutan from T+L

“To Western tourists who breeze through on tours, all this seems exotic and romantic. Fortunately, the Bhutanese, besides being good-natured and good-looking, are charmingly eccentric—a trait that saves their country from preciousness. Consider this: though they’re devout Buddhists who hold all life sacred and don’t kill animals, the Bhutanese happily eat meat—and carve up and cook any animal that’s already dead. In almost every house, we saw gristly strips of yak meat hanging to dry (a sight that almost turned me into a vegetarian).

Or this: there are only a few dozen personal names in all of Bhutan, and they are used for both men and women as first or last names, in any combination.

And then there’s the matter of the penises. Painted in full color—and in full, um, bloom—on the façades of houses, or carved of wood and dangling from eaves, they are considered good luck, all because of one of Bhutan’s most beloved figures, the Divine Madman, a libertine monk who, according to one version of the legend, vanquished a terrifying female demon by dragging her clear across the country with his you-know-what.”

Written by markus

July 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Posted in Travel

Tagged with ,

Bay Area museums

leave a comment »

Bay Area museum

I’ve seen 5 or 6 of them here in the Bay Area in the past 4 months. For free. Yes. No small thanks to Bank of America whose cardholders get free museum passes. On the first weekend of every month, all I had to do was come to the admission counter, wave my BOFA debit card and in I go.

Trivia: Did you know that most museums will ask you to not wear your backpacks? You either wear it in front of you or carry it by hand. I think it’s because we’re not cautious about our backs and a worn backpack may accidentally scratch paintings or topple over bust sculptures.

Anyway, with the BOFA card, I visited the following museums –

April – De Young Museum, San Francisco

May – Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco

May – Cantor Arts Center, Palo Alto (Free for everyone, all year long)

June – Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

July – Legion of Honor, San Francisco

I enjoy going to museums. I tend to like both classical and modern arts. Renaissance paintings have a special place for me though. I end up lingering longer in galleries of medieval painting and sculptures. I love ogling closer as I can to the nearly chipping oil paint on the canvasses. I like black and white photography in modern arts, too. At the War Remnants Museum in Saigon, I expected to just see pictures or preserved ammunitions and war whatnots but I surprised myself by stepping out of the museum with a new world view about America’s meddling into other countries’ affairs.

This reminds me…

I have the following museums to check out when I go back home to Manila –

Ayala Museum (I’m even planning on getting an annual membership, which is just P500)

Metropolitan Museum of Manila (didn’t know we have one!)

National Museum (again! unguided!)

Mind Museum (brand new)

All other museums in the city

Written by markus

July 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Posted in Travel

Tagged with ,

Semicolons, half & half, hermaphrodites

leave a comment »

So Kurt Vonnegut thought semicolons are like trannies or hermaphrodites and they have no use. That’s not true for both the punctuation mark (though I rarely use it because it’s easy to forget) and the social outcasts. Though he was driving a point about semicolons, did that reflect his view about homosexuality? I don’t know a lot about Vonnegut’s work and personal life. I have Slaughterhouse Five sitting on my desk for over two years now.

Here’s a part of an amusing essay about one’s transition from blindly following a hero to actually seeing value to the lowly semicolon himself:

Many times a week I’d been experiencing a mental event like this: I’d be reading an article about a flood in Mexico, which would lead me to thinking about a wedding I once went to in Cancún, which would lead me to thinking about marriage, which would lead to gay marriage, which would lead to the presidential election, which would lead to swing states, which would lead to a fascinatingly terrible country song called “Swing” — and I’d be three songs into a Trace Adkins YouTube marathon before I’d glance back down at the newspaper on the table.

It’s in honoring this movement of mind, this tendency of thoughts to proliferate like yeast, that I find semicolons so useful. Their textbook function — to separate parts of a sentence “that need a more distinct break than a comma can signal, but that are too closely connected to be made into separate sentences” — has come to seem like a dryly beautiful little piece of psychological insight. No other piece of punctuation so compactly captures the way in which our thoughts are both liquid and solid, wave and particle.

And so, far from being pretentious, semicolons can be positively democratic. To use a semicolon properly can be an act of faith. It’s a way of saying to the reader, who is already holding one bag of groceries, here, I know it’s a lot, but can you take another? And then (in the case of William James) another? And another? And one more? Which sounds, of course, dreadful, and like just the sort of discourtesy a writer ought strenuously to avoid. But the truth is that there can be something wonderful in being festooned in carefully balanced bags; there’s a kind of exquisite tension, a feeling of delicious responsibility, in being so loaded up that you seem to have half a grocery store suspended from your body.

So yes, Kurt Vonnegut: simplicity, in grammar as in all things, is a virtue, not to be sneezed at. But I can’t agree that semicolons represent absolutely nothing; they represent, for me anyway, the pleasure in discovering that no piece of writing advice, however stark, however beloved its deliverer, should ever be adopted mindlessly.

Written by markus

July 4, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Books

Tagged with ,