Geek-ened Weekend

Saturday was officially geek-out day.

After a quick pass by UP to inquire about music lessons (enrollment for second sem starts November, argh), I take a jeep to SM North because I’m meeting an old friend at Trinoma over a few Magic cards I had bought. Stopped by SM North first because I planned to hunt for toys, but got so turned off when I found out I didn’t have my SM Advantage Card with me that not even seeing a relatively hard-to-find Windcharger Transformers figure on the shelves and on a discounted price could make me want to spend on it. (For those who are looking for one, it might still be there in the SM North Department Store.)

Was probably fortunate, in hindsight, as I would have so many more things to go broke on before the day was over.

I found a Fully Booked branch behind another of my usual North area stops (Toy Kingdom in SM The Block). This came as a huge surprise to me, as until today, the only decent Fully Booked branches I could remember were the ones at Gateway, Bonifacio High Street and Greenhills. Also surprisingly enough, this branch was pretty well-stocked, which is more than I could say for most of the National and Powerbooks stores out there today (to quote a friend: “National? ‘Di naman yun bookstore, school supplies lang yun na nagkukunwari!”).

If at this point you think I’m making too big a fuss over the books in a bookstore, you should see me when I’m in one. Striding through shelf after shelf, genre after genre, book after book, makes by brain drool in so many ways my other geekiness outlets (cards and toys) sometimes cannot. It’s actually one of the reasons why I try to avoid killing time in bookstores: I usually end up buying something to add to my ever-growing pile of unread books (see previous post).

I had a good excuse, though, for staying, as I remembered that I had php2000 in Fully Booked gift certificates, a birthday present from an uncle who somehow always knows what gifts to get me. And I had time to kill, as it was around 1 and I wouldn’t be meeting my friend until around 3. Two hours of walking back and forth the shelves, comparing this philosophy book to that novel, this graphic novel to that collection of short stories, and so on.

As I walked into the store, one of the first things that caught my eye was the four A Song of Ice and Fire paperbacks, staring at me from the Shelves for Popular Stuff (that’s what they are to me, anyway). The series was one of the things that ended up on my “to-buy” list, along with the following (guess one):

  • several Transmetropolitan TPBs I wanted more for keeping than for reading since I’ve read the series at least twice,
  • an old Likhaan book that I decided to let go of since I had long finished writing the papers it was supposed to be for,
  • a few Marquez books to complete my collection,
  • some stuff by Gaiman, Bradbury and Asimov that I think I will end up borrowing and reading in the future,
  • David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp (because the parts about people and art are THAT beautiful),
  • Craig Thompson’s Blankets, a digital copy of which has been in my hard drive since forever,
  • etc., etc.

Texted a friend about George R. R. Martin’s series, to ask if they were books worth both reading AND keeping. Get a resounding “Yes” in response, along with news of a boxset that’s cheaper than getting the books separately. Look around for one in the Shelf of Boxsets, but no dice. Had a salesman unwrap Asterios Polyp and Blankets so I could take a good look at both. Decide on getting one of them (still guessing?) along with the four books, grabbing them on the way to the counter. As I plop the books down to say that I’m getting them too, I see Sean Bean’s face, all sepia-d, right behind the cashier. I immediately ask for a look at it, find out that it’s the boxset I was looking for, and, laughing, tell the cashier that I won’t be getting these after all.

It’s all your fault, Sean Bean. Thanks, BTW.

The result:

Time and money: well spent.

(If you guessed Blankets, you get a metaphysical cookie. What can I say, the story is just love, in so many ways.)

I swear, I could hear the Game of Thrones opening theme as I walked out of the store with an absurdly large plastic bag. So I hummed along to it as I crossed from SM North to Trinoma to play a few games of Magic with an old dormmate.

***

You know you’re real geeks when you’re willing to spend a bit of cash on expensive coffee, just because the coffee shop was relatively quiet, and had a decent-sized table you could play cards on. That, and being able to talk Magic for hours, of course. This eventually led to me getting a hundred and sixty new sleeves for my decks (100 and 60, respectively), plus a few boosters while waiting for the car to come around. It’s a slippery slope, I know, as the last time I remember actually buying boosters was Mirrodin (not Scars of Mirrodin, mind you). Don’t worry, the stuff I got was bad enough to turn me off buying boosters for the immediate time being.

***

Afterthought: I can imagine how nuts Eight-and-a-Half Tails would be as a general in an equipment-centric Commander/EDH deck.

***

Saw part of Game of Thrones‘ first episode on local HBO at around lunchtime today. Fail cuts are fail, as expected of local television. I mean, I understand removing the part where the Dothraki are doing it and slashing each other’s throats in public during Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding, but to cut lines like Viserys scaring his sister with the 40,000 men and horses was just pure LOLWTF.

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Books Unread, Like Thoughts Unsaid

There is a pile of unread books in my room [1]. They are arranged in no particular reading priority, as they contain a variety of thoughts that is too much for a single mind to impose an epistemological hierarchy (of sorts) upon.

The books that make it up come from all over: some are gifts [2], some are lucky scrounges from all manner of nooks, crannies and book sales, some are impulsive buys from hanging around bookstores too often. There are different reasons for getting them as well: some are remnants of material I would have wanted to read so that my thesis could have been more comprehensive, some come from my favorite authors, some are personal reading recommendations from loved ones, and some are just works I have wanted to read for a long time now.

Slowly but surely, it is growing [3]. Little by little, new books, new collections of thoughts, new bricks to add atop the old ones, until we have a pillar of knowledge that stands higher than what we think we can safely claim to know.

Problem is, I only have so much time to devote to them, as real life, as I say time and again, gets in the way of the multitude of lives I could be living in this multitude of realities. Escapism? Yes, actually, as these other worlds are usually so much more frolic-friendly compared to ours, where a wrong turn will sometimes cost you your life, if not your next paycheck’s worth.

I hope I get around to shrinking this pile down soon [4].

Footnotes:

[1]: Note that this does not yet include the books I have lent out, the books I left in school to lend to my students (mostly stuff by Gaiman), comic books and graphic novels, and the books in our small but wonderfully-stocked school library.

[2]: I know I have a copy of ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’ here somewhere.

[3]: At the rate I buy books compared to the rate with which I can read them through and through, I’ll end up with an empty wallet and even less shelf space (where books and toys compete with each other for space).

[4]: Just one long, sanity-recovering break, pretty please.

Blogcall

(Because Facebook is not good reading anymore)

One of the things I have learned about myself with regard to the load of TEDtalks and RSAnimate videos about education we have been shown as part of teacher training is that I am a nostalgic, old-fashioned kind of person, in the sense that I believe in human-human interaction more than technology-human interaction, in humanization in lieu of the effectivity of dissemination. Along with these is, I believe, one of the answers to the world’s obsession with an easy-to-search world of wikis, online dictionaries and crib notes: long reading and long writing.

Like I said, I am the nostalgic sort of person, one who believes that there are so many skills involved in the art of translating thought into text. However, the form is slowly dying, crushed as it is beneath wave after wave of character limit-bound, ADD-riddled spontaniety (don’t get me wrong: spontaniety is good, but not if it’s the only thing there). I know, however, that there are still a lot of us who cling to the Old Ways: people who maintain a good old blog, writing the way old bloggers did before all these social networks came up and stuck the thoughts of so many people into one Wall (high five if you got the Game of Thrones puns here). People who go simultaneously cling to both the good old rules of grammar and to good old poetic license in order to produce good old writing (damn it, how many times have I written the word “old” so far?). People who eschew textspeak and unintentional jejemon (sad to believe that some people do not even know when they are and are not communicating in jejemon) in favor of clear and sometimes intentionally ambiguous language.

I know you people are out there. Let me (and everyone else who happens to come across this note) know.

TL:DR version: if you (still) have a blog and want people reading it, post it here.

Random Thoughts, or, Reinforcing My Motto of “You Learn Something New Every Day”

– “Oval” and “ovoid” both come from the Latin “ovum” (egg). Because eggs are “natural” ovoids.

– How paradoxical it is to know that our perceptions of “normal” are imposed upon us by a society that only has “can contribute as much as any other member of society” to cling to.

– TL:DR version: we’re all abnormal.

– Want to teach deductive reasoning? Have a debate. Want to teach inductive reasoning? Play Pinoy Henyo.

– According to our sociolinguistics class, a theoretically longest English sentence would be infinite in length, because our grammar rules permit the addition of every part of speech, phrase and clause into almost every little space before or after the sentence being modified, and even in between words, as long as they are arranged correctly (running-on be damned).

– Homework: find the seven parts of speech in the sentence above. TROLOLOLOLOLOL

– Tabby stripes come from a recessive trait. Plain black and plain white appear to be the dominant ones. Or maybe it’s just our cats.

– A disorder is only recognized as such when there is dis-order present, in the sense that you are not able to fulfill a role as a productive member of society… whatever that means (re-release this Kraken of a paradox!).

– The problem, I believe, with utilizing technology-based assessments in education, is that it ultimately dehumanizes things, which is something they receive enough of during their leisure time already. More on this on another day, though, as I believe it warrants more thought/s.

– “Blanketing” is really what smog does appear to do when it settles down right before sunset. It looks like chiffon, actually.

– Everything, from sitting down at school to going to a rock concert to playing a role-playing game to registering an account with a social network to having your car break down to watching a bad play to  counts a learning environment; the only question is whether or not it’s a good one.

New Old Things, or, This Blog’s First Braindump

Took a nice, long bath in the rain last week. And by that, I mean lying down on the tiles in the garden, eyes closed, rain pouring on your face. It’s a funny feeling, that of seemingly melting with the water, down into the porcelain, an unbearable yet irresistible liquidity to it all. Makes you wonder if the person who first visualized spiritual evolution as a liquid merging of separate human consciousnesses into one blob of a whole was lying down in the rain when the idea came to him.

***

Struggling to finish the last few pages of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, some book I picked up at the school library and got hooked on. Good stuff, academics; it helps to stuff your brain silly every once in a while. And what better way to do so than to give yourself a crash course-slash-refresher on semiotics, contextualized into Pikmin and the Tomb Raider series of games, among other things?

Now to see if I can get my head back into Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment again, as it was the book I picked up before I came across the former. Folktale and mythological analysis is always a fun read, especially when you doubt the extent of what your own God/s can accomplish, and how admirable He/They become/s in the process.

Funny that the intellectual stuff is appealing to me nowadays in ways I could not have imagined possible. That, or The God of Small Things is really that boring in some chapters (even Orangedrink Lemondrink Man only goes so far as shock value in my opinion, I have to confess). I promise myself that I will go settle down with a nice, “fast” Gaiman or Murakami book once I’m done with Ma’am Arundhati Roy.

***

Speaking of video games, New Old Thing: Homeworld I. Clunky graphics, fine (reminds me too much of the Descent series of games), but one heck of a game system. Because rudimentary 3D world is win. Or maybe I’m simply trying to compensate for the fact that my laptop’s specs are crap for today’s games, which sucks when you realize that the brouhaha over most of the RTS (my favorite genre, might I say) stuff out these days is the creation of rich, vast environments which interact with the characters in as many creative ways as possible, which requires intense video and graphics tech (Pixel Shader anyone?) in order to pull off.

I admit, I have been tempted multiple times to splurge on a gaming rig. But then, I remember some old gem like Homeworld, Starcraft, Guilty Gear, Red Alert II, Raptor or Diablo II, and I’m back to being a gaming geezer of sorts.

Wonder if I’ll ever be stoned enough to download something along the lines of Populous, though.

Also, Dota II.

***

I feel like I am bound for a deeper-than-usual bout of sadness soon. All the tell-tale signs are there: thoughts so heavy that they interfere with your effectiveness as a contributing member of this capitalistic society that nevertheless requires people to reap only what they sow (i.e. can’t work), long afternoons and nights being wasted on procrastinated distractions (i.e. this blog entry) and a general feeling of consistently being too burned out to go to work at least two days every week (i.e. laziness). Oh well, at least it makes for a few nice and cathartic works every now and then.

And the weather doesn’t help at all. Just ask any old Russian novelist.

Dream Journal: A Slow Nightmare of Pre-Dating

It was dark where we were. That, I remember.

I could not remember what we were watching, whether it was a movie, or a play, or a concert, only that it was her sitting beside me on the bleacher’s bench. It was night, and the day probably took its toll on her, so after a few minutes, I felt her head leaning closer, closer, until it was resting on my shoulder. And I felt my arm inching slowly, slowly, until it was around her. And I felt myself pulling her slightly, slightly closer. I remember trying to memorize, to immortalize the moment: the way she smelled, the way her ponytail lay on my arm and her head on my shoulder, the way the color of her dress complimented the color of her skin, the peace that I saw in her closed eyes and cautious breaths.

I could not remember if I kissed her. If I did, I could not remember where: on the forehead as she slept, the way a father kisses his daughter good night, or the more affectionate one on the cheek, or maybe on the lips, trying to seal away her doubts, fears and the stresses of the day that led to this.

I do not remember anything else that happened that night.

I remember waking up the next day to see two people lounging by the swimming pool (I cannot remember whose house it was, or if it was even one I had been to before); a girl floating on a rubber ring, and a boy sitting on the side, both greeting me with grimaces. I ask them who they are, and they tell me that they are her friends, and that they had to take her away before I woke up. I ask if I will ever have the chance to see her again, and the stern shaking of their heads says it all.

I wake up for real, feeling more tired than when I fell asleep.

Joey Comeau, “comic writer”, on Dealing with Depression

“Hello, there should be more advice about dealing with depression when you’re stupid and worthless, so here is a self help exercise.

Today’s assignment is simple. Just go out and get on the bus.

It doesn’t matter which bus. Whichever bus comes next. Get on, and just go. You could ride that bus to the very end, thank the driver, and then walk into the woods and just die. Just lay down right there and wait and wait until you were dead. Who is going to miss you?

Really, think about it. If you went out to the middle of nowhere and just sat down in a ditch and cried by yourself until you were dead, who would be the first person to wonder where you’d gone?

Call them up! Maybe they want to get ice cream?”

Because ice cream is awesome. Especially with popcorn.

Also donuts.