26 December 2011


The Last Poem . . . of 2011

letter W ampersand & rubber stamp handle letter Q
rubber stamp handle 1 Wooden Bingo Number 8

And because I'm "honest to a fault," I'll admit the bulk of it was written in 2012. =P (Ah, backdating . . .)

This poem would have been done much earlier, had I not insisted on having the prompts my way this time around--and I had some very definite ideas.

The main image in the question immediately made me think of mountains--and what sealed the deal was a trip back to my Favourite Place on Planet Earth, whether there is a small hill with all the gravitas of Everest. My poem, I promised, would be about Corregidor.

It just took longer to write than I had dared to think . . . but at least it comes with pictures!!!

12 December 2011


Twelve Things about Arachnophobia

12. "Just what the world needs. More bugs." But does the Horror genre need "more bugs"? I'd say no--but that's because I'm not a huge fan of Creature Features. I like it when a threat has a human face. In my n=1 opinion, Man vs. Nature isn't half as scary as Man vs. Man or Man vs. Self--both of which, in Horror, are actually Man vs. Devil.

11. That's why I would have said, twenty minutes into this movie, that the real villain was the single-minded scientist whose research expedition enables the heretofore isolated arachnids to penetrate human civilisation. He's definitely the type trope who'd put his private aims over the welfare of others.

10. Honestly, though, the lone escapee spider has far more personality. It seems to know exactly what it's doing when it hitches a ride to the United States. Both Charles Darwin and H.G. Wells would be proud.

9. But this South American spider isn't the only character making a big move . . .

07 December 2011


Ending the Year with a Poem

Reverse psychology works so well that sometimes I use it on myself. That's why my best strategy for overcoming blogger's block is to write a post telling my readers not to expect anything new for a while. And then, of course, all the new stuff starts pouring out immediately. I had thought to do something like that to spark my book blogging by announcing that Shredded Cheddar was now a movie blog . . . but it looks as if, with my usual atrocious aim, I turned Shredded Cheddar into a poetry blog instead. LOL!

Still, some blogging is better than no blogging. And if you are a fellow Poetry Player, check out this month's host and schedule:

04 December 2011


Twelve Things about The Road

12. One of the first things my friends and I discussed after seeing this was whether the title fits the film. They didn't think so, but I do. =P

For there is a road in the movie. A haunted road. A haunted road with thematic significance inasmuch as the characters' cars are tied to the imagery of escape and the ghosts in the movie are trapped.

11. In general, "Road Horror" has a lot going for it. The only thing scarier than a haunted house is the haunted great outdoors. You can run out of a building, but where can you go if the way to safety is itself unsafe? Ghosts are more frightening when they can follow you.

As roads are more frightening when
they just lead back to the beginning
. . . over and over and over again.

10. The story itself is all about going back to the beginning. No matter how far forward the viewer goes, he finds himself further back than he expected. (Yeah, that's just my fancy way of saying that the story is told backwards, through several flashbacks, and is constantly looping.)

30 November 2011


Poems from the Prompt and the Procrastinating

w ampersand & rubber stamp letter  q
number 1 7

Do I suck or what? =P Thanks to the beautiful deception of backdating, anyone who comes across the W&Q will never know how late this poem was posted, but those of you who know the truth may now point and laugh.

My prompts nearly killed me at first, but after I figured out I had to approach them with a sense of humour (rather than a sense of vague insult and paranoia), they were much friendlier to me.

22 November 2011


The Right Price at the Right Time

Having been really busy lately (and not just with the guitar), I haven't been doing much reading, browsing in bookstores, or even blogging about books. I actually feel that I don't remember how to do this, so I apologise in advance for the quality of this post.

21 November 2011


McFly Monday

Why do I love this band so much?
Why, God, why?

It's time to come clean . . . The real reason I haven't been blogging over here that often is that, despite my genius at multitasking, I simply can't type the brilliant posts you come here for and practice the guitar at the same time.

And you can bet I've been practicing the guitar.

I haven't been this dedicated since . . . well . . . since Team Taylor Tuesdays. =P

16 November 2011


If Nothing Else This November . . .

letter W Ampersand on a Blue Awning (Washington, DC) q
number 1 number 7

I may not have the mental energy to finish one of my own smackdowns, but there is nothing I want to do more than write another poem.

Who's with me???

(Yes, I know it's really late in the month for this . . . but if we can all promise to get our poems in by 30 November, it should be all right. E-mail me your prompts if you're in!)

31 October 2011


McFly Monday: Happy All Hallows' Eve!

Who can name all the movies referenced in this video?

Is it wrong that I wish the latest smackdown were over so that I could do McFly Mondays every week?

In other news, I can almost promise that regular blogging (*cough*LocusFocus*cough*) will resume this week.

Now excuse me while I go and listen to more McFly read a scary book . . .

24 October 2011


ANTM Themed Shoot Smackdown, Round 2
(Revisit Round 1 and the Intermission)

Thanks so much for your patience! Here are the survivors of the "Smize" Sixteen . . .

Snakes vs. Fierce Eyes --> Fierce Eyes

Celebrity vs. Hapa --> Hapa

No Makeup vs. Mannequin --> No Makeup

Seven Deadly Sins vs. Controversial Issues --> Seven Deadly Sins

Museum Art vs. Classical Statues --> Classical Statues

Circus Freaks vs. Fuerza Bruta --> Fuerza Bruta

Flowers vs. Birds --> Birds

Fakes vs. Psychos --> Psychos

And now this is the part where I take over and decide which photo shoots are most
representative of what America's Next Top Model stands for. But if you scroll down, you'll see another mini face-off that welcomes your vote!

(The best part about this smackdown is that we will never run out of images! Tired of the photos from Round 1? We have new ones in the same categories for Round 2!)

Round 2
The "Know Your Angles" Eight

12 October 2011


Poems and Progress

W ampersand & Q
Audio Tour Number 1 number 6

I guess I've tried everyone's patience enough. (Forgive me, Dylan?)

It has been absurdly difficult to write my October poem. The prompts I was given made me think of salad, and I'm not very inspired by salad. I don't think I'd be done right now if it hadn't been for Bat an unwitting Good Samaritan, whose response to my prompts was a quote which began, "Fuit homo missus a Deo cui nomen erat . . ."

If both your Latin and your Scripture are decent these days, then you already know the nomen. But you can also pretend you don't and try to guess it from the poem . . .

10 October 2011


ANTM Themed Shoot Smackdown, Intermission
(We're still taking votes for Round 1!)

It's probably not the best idea in the world to call an intermission before we're even halfway through a smackdown, but this blog has to do what this blog has to do.

Let's look at some group shots now . . .

Gondola (Cycle 15) vs. Mud (Cycle 16)

Group shots are tough. A model who really gets the concept might find herself with partners who struggle with it, and so no matter how strong she is individually, she will not produce a strong photo. But when everyone is standing out, there is also the danger of getting lost in the background. It's a little like a competition--a microcosm of ANTM itself (and perhaps the modeling industry in general). Here we have two very different group pictures: one in which the models are elaborately costumed as Venetian courtesans and another in which they are wearing mostly mud.

Which one gets your vote?

Image Sources: a) Cycle 15, b) Cycle 16

09 October 2011


Tutor Tales, Volume 34

Of all the tutees I have ever had, Scrap Metal has been the hardest nut to crack. His nanny hinted as much when she said she had been taking care of him for a year before he said anything halfway nice to her.

It happened earlier this year, when she had finished preparing his dinner and was about to leave him alone in the dining room (as per his preference that he eat alone or only with family members). No one was more surprised than she when he suddenly called her again to say:

"Stay here with me while I eat."

A command rather than a request, yes, but given the little boy in our story, it was a real breakthrough . . . and very sweet.

I was thinking of this last week, when I arrived for a tutorial while Scrap Metal was in the middle of a bowl of cereal. He pushed the cereal away and went immediately to work. I could tell he was still hungry, so I kept telling him we could take a break for five minutes so he could eat, but he kept shaking his head. Finally, it hit me . . .

05 October 2011


Word and Question . . . Back and Backdated

letter W ampersand & Q
number 1 number 6

You'd think I'd be able to do these things on time, right?

At least you would, if you were an optimist like me. =P Indeed, such an optimist am I that despite the fact that I still owe two poems from last month, I'm going to jump into this month with the rest of you . . .

Here is the deadline for prompts, adjusted accordingly: 10 October.

Here are the rules for everyone who doesn't know what this post is about: Do you like "Playing Poetry"?

03 October 2011


ANTM Themed Shoot Smackdown!

This blog has been around for two years, but this is only our fifth tournament bracket. That's partly because the things I know well enough to feature in a series don't always come in groups of sixteen or more; and the things that do, make me feel ready to do the smackdown only after we've finally declared a winner. =P

So when it hit to me that Tyra Banks had already produced sixteen seasons cycles of America's Next Top Model, I got really, really excited.

My original plan was to do an ANTM Winner Smackdown . . . but as I lined up all the winners (with some runners up, for the mini face-offs and possible wild card slots), I realised that their professional work wasn't half as entertaining as some of the things they had done on the show. And it's really the show I want to celebrate here. So I've adjusted the smackdown accordingly, with a new theme that will serve us well come Halloween!

One last thing: if some of the pictures look awkward, that is because I cropped them. =/ Yes, that's right: I mutilated art in the name of formatting. At least cutting up a digital image is not as permanent as taking a knife to a canvas (which is not to say that some canvases don't deserve it); and you can always see the originals if you click on the image sources given below.

ANTM Themed Shoot Smackdown
Round 1
The "Smize" Sixteen

Snakes (Cycle 1) vs. Fierce Eyes (Cycle 11)

Tyra Banks likes to say that her signature pose is the "smize"--a word she has coined that means "to smile with one's eyes." It involves tightening the muscles around your eyes to intensify their expression. I can't be the only fan of the show who has spent at least an hour in front of the mirror working on her own smize. Now the question is which of these two shoots sells the smize best: one in which the model gives new meaning to the term "snake eyes" or one in which all you can see of her face are her eyes.

28 September 2011


Poems Both Greasy and Graceful

Those who have been checking this blog faithfully (because you're awesome like that) know that this post wasn't here last Wednesday.

What happened was that I actually looked at the calendar and realised that I wouldn't have a 35 September to fall back on if I didn't start posting the poems I promised this week. =P

Besides, it just came to my attention that I now owe three four poems!

Keep checking back as I post them one by one . . . UPDATE: Bat's poem is done! Two more to go . . . UPDATE: So is Stilwell's! (Sort of!) One more to go . . . UPDATE: And it only took over a year, but now I'm done with Antiaphrodite's too! =)

25 September 2011


Not the N-word

My grandmother is a mestiza, or the Philippines' version of a Creole, and all her childhood, she was accustomed to being the most light-skinned girl in the room. It all changed when she took a trip to Spain in the late 1940s. She was exotically dark even to the olive-skinned Sevillians, and young men would come on to her by addressing her as "Negra."

I remember sharing that anecdote with some of my students, whose horrified reactions showed they had missed the context entirely. It wasn't really their fault, the young things. These days, the nice description for a dark-skinned girl as morena . . . which isn't much of a compliment, as the modern beauty craze is the perfect skin lightening moisturiser. =P

Then there are the odd generational factors . . . Young men are just not as forward with girls as their fathers used to be (I blame the feminists who never got hit on and don't want the rest of us to get hit on either) . . . and it's worth wondering whether exposure to US pop culture has given Filipinos an acquired aversion to the "n-word."

Now, I'm not a big fan of shaming language. I know how powerful words can be, how effective they are in both building up and knocking down, and think that we'd be better communicators (both speakers and listeners) if we understood this. I also think that the best communicators combine this fine sensitivity with skin thick enough to repel bullets.

3 WordsThat Sound Racist but Really Aren't

18 September 2011


Blogging by the Numbers

According to everyone who has read a source I'll never be able to cite, it takes 21 days to form a habit. Applications of this include not giving up on your diet or your fast before the twenty-first day--because after you get over that hump, you won't just last 40 days (if you take my meaning), but be able to keep going for as long as you like.

I'm sure this applies to blogging, too. I told myself that as long as I didn't abandon Shredded Cheddar for longer than twenty-one days at a time, I'd always come back to it.

This totally slipped my mind when I decided to take a 31 day break from Locus Focus.

14 September 2011


Grace is the Word

See what I did there, Frankie Valli?

Regular readers of Shredded Cheddar know that updates have been a bit slow lately. I'm sorry about that and will try to resume regular posting soon. I'm especially sorry to those who were looking forward to a September round of Word & Question.

Let me try to make some lemonade out of this with a Grace/Grease Month . . .

11 September 2011


Reading Diary: A Planet Full of Doofuses by Bob Wallace

This book is a mish mash. But then, the inside of my head is sometimes a mish mash (I occasionally say, "Now where was I going with this . . . ?")

There is some humor here, specifically satire; some little plays, some fiction, some serious stuff. There's even a cartoon. If you like all of it, or some of it, that's good. If you don't and instead froth and get outraged (and I've seen a lot of that) . . . well, I can’t please everyone. Not that I want to.

A word . . . about where the ideas for these articles came from. I don't know. They just popped in my head, sometimes whole. Sometimes they seem to write themselves. It’s mystifying.

I hope you enjoy reading them. I enjoyed writing them. Well, mostly.

I "met" Bob Wallace almost eleven years ago, when I e-mailed him about something he had written that I didn't agree with. Today, there are few things he has written in which I can't find something to agree with. Take one of his articles (not included in this anthology, unfortunately) with his thoughts on education, in which he says . . .

29 August 2011


Writing Diary, Entry #28

"Know your audience," writers are told. To which I now add, "Know your editor, too." Your editor may actually know your audience better than you do and be able to guide you.

When I started writing, I didn't meet my editors in person. All communication was done through e-mail: I liked it that way,and they seemed to prefer it, too. (Ah, technology!) Then I became a contributor to a magazine with an editor-in-chief who is all about the face-to-face meeting and the personal touch. Although I wrote my first article for her in my usual "blind" fashion, we met in person very soon afterwards . . . and it made all the difference in the world.

28 August 2011


Twelve Things about Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension

12. The only thing I love more than time travel is the parallel dimension. (There are some who say you can't have one without the other--but never mind them now.) It's so fascinating to see What Might Have Been, had something in the timeline been tweaked in a totally different direction. It's doubly fascinating to see What You Might Have Become.

(For those of us whose life genres are not SF, there are always ordinary doppelgangers. I happen to know that my double lives in Austin, Texas, has access to a black Escalade, and does not play the guitar. This is a fact.)

11. If you think about it, the ideas of parallels and doubles are already embedded in every Phineas and Ferb episode. Take Perry the Platypus, who is both the Flynn-Fletcher family's pet and a secret agent tasked with foiling the plans of mad scientist Dr. Doofenschmirtz.

Then, of course, there's Candace, who is the only one who ever notices when her brothers are up to something. Just her bad luck that whenever she drags her mother over "to bust" the boys, whatever they were working on at the time mysteriously vanishes. She must feel as if she's straddling two dimensions herself. No wonder she's a bit high strung.

So it makes sense for Perry to be the heart of the story
--and for Candace to be the main protagonist.
Formula tweaking can be fun!

26 August 2011


Thirty Movies, One Day, Six Words Each

Six-word memoirs really are handy things, aren't they? I didn't plan to use them in my Tenner of Books I Love Too Much to Review "Properly", but when I tried them out for a bit, they proved the perfect fit. That's why they're back in this post, which is about movies.

I found a 30 Day Movie Challenge on the blog Diversion 2.0 and decided it would make a worthy sequel to the first (and so far only) My Life in Movies post. No, I'm not yet thirty years old . . . but dagnabbit, I like making lists. Especially movie lists. Heck, I've already given myself a rule for making them: No repeats. Once a movie makes one list, it can't make another.

And that's why Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl isn't here. =P Guess which category it would have fit into perfectly?

Yes, there will be more . . . but I'm not going to promise that they'll all also have six-word memoirs!

#1 -- One of Your Favorite Movies
(But Not Your Favorite Favorite)
Hudson had me at "Game over!"

23 August 2011


Beyond Book Blogging

For those of my readers who don't already follow The Broke and the Bookish, despite my best efforts to be a gateway drug to the book blogosphere, the last Top Ten Tuesday Tenner was all about Books Teenagers Should Learn "to Speak". After linking up, I went through all the other participants' posts to see which ten texts would be voted onto the syllabus of a high school run by dedicated book bloggers. They were a mixed, if mostly Anglo-American bag . . .

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (54 mentions)
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (51 mentions)
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (37 mentions)
The Works of William Shakespeare (33 mentions)
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (33 mentions)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (23 mentions)
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (20 mentions)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (19 mentions)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (18 mentions)
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (13 mentions)

It's edifying to see some classics there (although the definition of "classic" now seems to be "any book old enough for my parents to have read at my age"). That they are outnumbered by hard-hitting, controversial "message" novels reflects another modern trend of calling books "great" primarily because they address immediate issues. Yes, some of these may end up "passing the test of time," as we say--but I'll wager another giveaway that they didn't make so many lists because of that classic quality. Heck, there are a couple of "classics" that I'll wager made the list for the exact same reason.

There are also a couple of those "books that get teens reading"--because these days, "great" is often used interchangeably with "cool." (I should know: I do it myself!) I just wish teenagers did more reading on the side so that such books could be supplements to classroom reading rather than the main texts . . . but apparently, we don't live in that ideal literate world.

What I find most interesting, though, is the inclusion of three different Dystopian novels. (Five, if you remember that The Hunger Games is a trilogy.) I'm all about dystopia and even assigned one of these texts during my last year of full-time teaching. But I'll have to analyse this in another post.

This post is all about one topic I likely won't be tabulating data for . . .

A Tenner
Books I Love Too Much to Review "Properly"

22 August 2011


EBooks and Bargains

The past couple of weeks have not been great for this business of blogging about books, and I was going to put it off further until I was feeling fizzy with words and ideas again . . . but I know from experience that you have to find your own fizz.

And so desperate am I to fizz again, that I'm breaking my usual IMM rule of "Only books received through the post" by featuring two books that came to me not through traditional mail, but through electronic mail.

17 August 2011


A Word to Chill and a Question to Thrill

You'd think someone with pretensions to Horror blogger status would be really inspired by the "Thrills and Chills" theme that gave us an extra challenge this month . . . but I was mostly intimidated. =P

I might watch a lot of Horror movies, but I could never write a script for one of them. And I definitely get spooked on a dime, but none of my scary stories seem to have the same effect on others.

Let's see what effect this poem has on you . . .