Saturday, March 31, 2007

Y + Me

"Y"

"Why" is the only question that bothers people enough to have an entire letter of the alphabet named after it.

The alphabet does not go "A B C D What? When? How?" but it does go "V W X Why? Z."

"Why" is always the most difficult question to answer. You know where you are when someone asks you "What's the time?" or "When was the battle of 1066?" or "How do these seatbelts work that go tight when you slam the brakes on, Daddy?" The answers are easy and are, respectively, "Seven-thirty-five in the evening," "Ten-fifteen in the morning," and "Don't ask stupid questions."

But when you hear the word "Why?," you know you've got one of the biggest unanswerables on your hands, such as "Why are we born?" or "Why do we die?" and "Why do we spend so much of the intervening time receiving junk mail?"

Or this one:

"Will you go to bed with me?"

"Why?"


There's only ever been one good answer to that question "Why?" and perhaps we should have that in the alphabet as well. There's room for it. "Why?" doesn't have to be the last word, it isn't even the last letter. How would it be if the alphabet ended, "V W X Why? Z," but "V W X Why not?"

Don't ask stupid questions.

-From Hockney's Alphabet

(Taken from The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams)

Not a bad take on one of the most pilosopo answers one can give to one of the most serious types of questions, don't you think?

Don't you think?

Don't ask stupid questions.

...

Too lazy tonight. This is what you get when your friends are so good at putting just enough alcohol into the orange juice so that it doesn't taste as if it was spiked at all. And the fact that last night was the first good sleep I had this entire week (note: alcohol-induced = good) doesn't help either.

Tonight, I dance with Hypnos.

posted by Ocnarf @ 12:50 AM   5 have spoken

Sunday, March 18, 2007

<3-ing Heroes

(Warning: Link-spoilers)

After two haggard weekends, I've finally been given the chance to spend the weekend in my preferred bum fashion: lazy afternoon, iced decaf, box of Go Nuts donuts, and the first eleven episodes of "Heroes". Series is so damn awesome. <3 Claire Bennet for staying cute after turning into a gory mess almost every episode, and <3 Hiro Nakamura for being the all-powerful geek every powerless geek (read: every geek) wants to be.

Sigh, what I wouldn't give to be a writer-alcoholic version of Isaac Mendez, that way I wouldn't worry over papers as much as I'd worry over hangovers. And liver damage.

...

Why does almost every "Heroes" post on the net have to sooner or later degenerate into an "I wish I had superpowers" post? And why is this post no exception? Dammit.

...

Somebody please help my lazy ass find the other episodes.

posted by Ocnarf @ 3:26 AM   0 have spoken

Tagged...

... by Ilia.

1. You're stuck inside Farenheit 451. What book do you want to be?
Catcher in the Rye (Salinger)

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
That's the most desperate form of escapism I've ever heard of.

3. The last books you bought were:
Haunted (Palanhiuk), The Salmon of Doubt (Adams), been wanting to buy Metamorphosis (Kafka) for some time

4. The last books given to you were:
The Everything Learning Latin Book (Prior) & 501 Latin Verbs (Prior & Wohlberg)

5. Three books that would have made more of a difference in life had I read them years earlier:
Lord of the Flies (Golding), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Adams), The Celestine Prophecy (Redfield)

6. Three books I borrowed and don't want to return anymore:
Only one, actually: Innocent Erendira and other stories (Marquez)

7. Three books I wanted to like more:
Tuesdays with Morrie (Albom), Gai-Jin (Clavell), Thus Spake Zarathustra (Nietzsche)

8. Three books I pretended to have read:
I don't pretend to read.

9. Three books I am happy I bought last year:
The second, third and fourth books of the Hitchhiker's Guide series (Adams)

10. Three books I wish I had written:
Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez), Halupi: Essays on Philippine Culture (Alvina & Sta. Maria), Sophie's World (Gaarder)

I tag: YOU, reader. *evil laugh*

posted by Ocnarf @ 12:36 AM   0 have spoken

Saturday, March 10, 2007

KAREHASAN Full House (Post-production)

There's something amusingly ironic with having your parents, your favorite teacher, your most hated teacher, your dormmates, your best friend, your crush and your ex all in the same theater watching the same play.

posted by Ocnarf @ 10:50 PM   0 have spoken

Making Up For Weeks of Dead Air with a Short Story

DAMNANT QUOD NON INTELLIGUNT

Maria.

In America (the northern part, at least), or almost any other country here in Asia, the name would sound exotic, unique at the very least. Not here, where the name is so common it’s often not mentioned anymore. Try to count the number of Marias in the Philippines and there would be a dozen or so new ones born before you finished counting.

She was different from all the other Marias, though, in the sense that she was just Maria, not a Maria Luisa, a Maria Elena or a Maria Elizabeth. Just Maria. So this was the name I called her with:

“Maria!”

She gave no reply. She just stood there, back turned, the winds playing with her shoulder-length hair. The sun reached its peak and burned the color of terracotta on her face, which was marked with an inexplicable depression when it turned to me.

Maybe it’s because my parents haven’t come yet. They come here everyday to paint new expressions on her face with the caresses of their fingers, but sooner or later her expressions once again dry up into the void that the depression has created right beside her heart. Perhaps this void has sucked into it the part of her brain that regulates her sense of hearing into it as well, which would rationalize her silence. Maybe the sun has so dried her lips that mouthing a reply would have added a physical dimension to what seemed to be a great emotional pain eating away at her sanity. Or maybe it was simply a case of me not calling loudly enough. Honestly suspecting the last, I tried again:

“Maria!”

There was still no reply. How ironic, that she would be giving me the cold shoulder in a day as infernal as this! There she stands, bearing the flurry of slaps from the sun’s invisible palms, while I am killing time here in the ancient shade of this kalachuchi tree, yet she is the one who is cold and I am the one trying to be warm.

A figure solidified through the heat’s liquid haze and walked, or rather, strode toward her. It was Morrie in his black trenchcoat, a patch of night in the middle of the afternoon.

“Where are the foremen?” she asked him.

“They’ll be here any minute. Any later and I won’t be paying them,” he said.

We’ve planned to have a house built here some months already. Strange that they should pick a day as awkwardly uncomfortable as this to start having the foundations dug. Those in the construction business always kept their own calendars.

“Do you think they need help?” Maria asked.

“They’re foremen.”

“But they might do a bad job with the hole.”

“They’re foremen.”

“Maybe it’s too heavy for them.”

“They’re foremen.”

“Maybe they won’t be able to carry it properly.”

“They’re foremen.”

“Maybe they’re too few for a job like thi-“

“Like what I’ve been saying for the past ten seconds, they’re foremen. And you’re worrying too much.”

I didn’t blame her for doing so, to be honest. It’s always what made our relationship work. She would pore over every little detail of everything, reminding me to bring this, to wash that, to do this and not do that, that little voice at the back of your head that loves reminding one of his reality.

Morrie peeked over Maria’s shoulder and gazed intently at me.

“So there you are. A peaceful sleep, I presume?” he asked.

I was in the middle of thinking of what to answer when the afternoon’s dry breeze, made obnoxious by the heat, swept my thoughts away. Speechless, I could only smile at him in response.

He smiled back.

“How long has he been here?” he asked.

“Three days.”

“Good thing the mushrooms still haven’t come and eaten the place up,” Morrie said as he looked around our little property.

“It’s the sun. Mushrooms hate the sun.”

“You’ve always been the scientific one.”

Maria ruffled her hair and looked around, the look of frustration on her face.

“If the mushrooms come before those damned foremen do, I’m paying them instead.”

“No use wasting money on nature. The foremen are here.”

The foremen seemed an amalgam of man and building, with logs for limbs and the breath of factory smokestacks, whose dusty fumes coated them with the lingering scent of the sweat only hard labor could bring forth from one’s body. The head foreman, distinguishable by the ill-fitting black bowtie only he wore as if to mock some formal occasion, took Maria and Morrie aside for conversation. He didn’t need to; I wouldn’t have paid attention to their conversation anyway. Those two would take care of everything. Besides, moving from my spot would have invited cramps to nibble on my entire body, and I certainly did not want that.

Their conversation lasted a long time, to say the least. Every now and then the head foreman would glance at me over his shoulder, before huddling back into the words they did not seem to want me to hear. I was fine with it, anyway. Non damnant non quod intelligunt is my mantra. Do not condemn what you do not understand. There never was any room in this world for petty paranoia. Succumbing to boredom, I fell asleep about an hour into their conversation.


I was in this very spot, surrounded by all the people I knew. I recognized Maria, Morrie, my parents, my officemates Timmy, Harold, Anna, Nikki, Arvin, Tanya, Omar and Sasha, and a lot of other people I recognized but couldn’t remember. They were singing a song that was unintelligible through the pane of glass that separated me from them. Maria’s voice was the only one that hit a particularly high note. The glass pane that separated me from the people shattered and the ancient kalachuchi’s flowers burst into a cloud of white butterflies with the resonation of her voice. The animate cloud then descended on my face, and the butterflies burst into the blinding dust their wings were made of. So much white clouded and got into my eyes that even the insides of my eyelids were white when I closed them.

When I was finally able to tell if my eyes were open or not, I opened them and found myself face to face with an old man clothed in robes plainer than a priest’s cassock.

Welcome, he said, or rather, seemed to say, since his mouth never moved. Yet his words echoed in my head as if he spoke them to me in a voice I couldn’t categorize. I wondered if there was some alien communication apparatus that allowed him to bring his words directly into me without disturbing the air with his voice.

It’s because I know how to speak directly into your mind. It’s a lot easier this way. You should try it sometime. Not only could he speak into my mind, he could also read my thoughts.

“Where am I?” I asked, still too comfortable with forming my words into speech.

Where you’re supposed to be, his words he spoke into my head. Come, let me show you around.

I looked around, and saw that I was in a corridor filled with so many kalachuchi flowers and white butterflies that one would not, without careful examination, tell the difference between flower and butterfly. He walked through the corridor, kicking up flowers and butterflies alike, gesturing me to follow him. Since he seemed to have an idea of what the point behind this Kafkaesque situation was, I followed him. He brought me into a room where there was a group of people seated on an antique wooden chest, drinking and conversing with each other in Latin.

Join them.


“But I don’t know enough Latin.”

Suit yourself, said the old man, and he kicked me up a storm of butterflies and flowers, which once again burst into the same painfully blinding dust that brought me to this room in the first place.

And all turned white.



I dozed off. Forgive me.

By the time I woke up, the sun was trying to squeeze itself into the gaps between the skyscrapers of the city. I hated those skyscrapers; during the day they blocked the sun, and during the night they blocked the moon and the stars. And people wondered why urban life was so gloomily drudging.

At least we would be far away from all that confusion soon enough. They had begun on the foundations today. A few feet to my right was proof: a neatly dug hole for the first column of what was to be our little paradise.

I looked up to see Maria and Morrie staring intently at me, her eyes those of a furtive mourner and his eyes those of a fulfilled prophet. Maria leaned in and kissed my forehead, while the first foreboding tear trickled down the side of her chin. I closed my eyes and waited for the salty moisture of her depression to land on my nose.

But I didn’t feel any moisture. I crossed my eyes, and saw that a mushroom had grown on my nose, and on it sat the tear I waited for. I wondered how its spores had reached my nose and taken root there without me feeling anything. Then I thought, even sloths hung in the trees with molds growing on their backs, so I amused myself with the thought that I was the human equivalent of a sloth, and that I must move again soon, before my nose becomes the next spot chosen for a fairy ring.

I tried to flick the mushroom off, but my hand did not want to respond somehow. I looked in its direction and saw it the way it was these past days: unclenched at my side, unmoving. But only then, when I really bothered to examine my appendages, did I see what were the unmistakable first signs of rot on the skin between my fingers. Rot, I was telling myself amidst pictures of people with gangrene I saw in a magazine, was supposed to be painful, yet I had not felt even the slightest twinge of pain these past few days. I got uneasy, yet I could not feel the beads of sweat that were supposed to form on one’s forehead when one suddenly realized that his hand would not respond to his will, nor did I feel the slightest increase in my heartbeat. In fact, I couldn’t feel any thumping in my chest that reminded me of the presence of that organ in my ribcage. Perhaps the void—if there really was one—in Maria’s chest was contagious, transferred to me by the kiss to my forehead. I imagined that same void sucking all my internal organs into it, leaving nothing but my soul and the empty feeling reminiscent of depression to share the entire cavity. My body had turned into a shell that had trapped my consciousness within. Nothing in my body wanted to respond to my thoughts. The very space I moved in, the very air I was no longer breathing seemed to have been filled with a clear cement that had thoroughly hardened, making any attempt at movement impossible.

The only thing I could still do was see, but I could not feel the weight of my eyelids or the smooth movement of my eyeballs when I tried to look around. I saw the foremen gather around me. At their head’s signal, they lifted me, one at each of my limbs, and started carrying me closer to their newly-dug foundation. Though I could only see the bulky bodies of the foremen, I could hear Maria and Morrie’s voices:

“It’s a good thing the foremen still got to him before the mushrooms did.”

“Yes, it’s a good thing.”

I was so busy trying to get tears to come from my eyes that I didn’t notice the four men were already starting to lower me into the hole.

posted by Ocnarf @ 10:37 PM   7 have spoken