30 April 2011


Locus Focus: Take Fifty!

It is the last Saturday of April, and I feel that I might as well close the month with the "Places of Prayer" theme. The forty days of Lent may be over for the year, but the fifty days of Easter have just begun!

Remember that next Saturday's theme--because no one objected is--May at the Movies! Drop the books for a week (if you can--LOL!) and think of a film with an unforgettable setting. I'm going to give myself an extra challenge by looking for a movie that isn't based on a book; but since cinema is rivaled only by a vivid imagination in bringing great places in literature to life, I also welcome any book-to-movie contributions.

Come on! Don't be shy! Link up those posts!

29 April 2011


Faerie Tale Theatre Production Smackdown!!!

Okay, who else remembers these from back in the day? (Who else absolutely loved them back in the day?)

Even as a child, I could tell that Faerie Tale Theatre was something special. My picture book collection had a whole section on fairy tales--all retold by different writers and interpreted by different illustrators--but none of them had "production values" as high any of the adaptations in this TV anthology. Nor were any of them half as edgy . . . and you can bet that even my younger self knew how to appreciate edge. =P

Remember that the first round is always decided by reader votes. It's up to you to pick the eight contenders for the next round. You all have until Thursday, 4 May to publish your ballot in the combox! UPDATE: Who pays attention to deadlines, anyway? =P I'll keep accepting votes as I await my Horror blogger friends.

Round 1:
The Snow Queen Sixteen

Rapunzel vs. Rumpelstiltskin

Faerie Tale Theatre was Shelley Duvall's brainchild, so it seems only appropriate to open this smackdown with two productions in which she plays a leading role. (Notice that she also bills herself second in both, although she is also the host of the whole series. What a generous star!) I'm especially delighted that these productions are the first two stories in my Top 5 "Golden" Fairy Tales, because I truly love them. (In case you were wondering: Duvall is also the original mother in the Faerie Tale Theatre production of Snow White.)

28 April 2011


Character Connection 23

Talking animals have come a long way since Aesop started collecting his fables. His early animal characters existed to be predictable: the lion was leonine, the mouse was murine, the fox was vulpine . . . and so on. (I'd go on, if only my vocabulary would let me!)

Our own animal stories, on the other hand, have main characters who are unusual in some way: crickets who chirp opera, pigs who herd sheep, even toads which steal motor cars! And they don't exist just to stand out, but to change and to grow. One of these days, I'll definitely write about one of them.

This week, however, I feature a character who is a perfect balance of both traditions. While he is definitely a specific animal type, he is also a three-dimensional individual whose fate makes us care about what happens to him in the end.

26 April 2011


Happy Easter! Oh, Look! A Poem!

letter W DSCN5686 Q

Tomorrow is the deadline for all W&Q 11 poems, and I'm happy to be one day shy of that, if not perfectly punctual.

Remember that our May host is the lovely Lindsay of Very Sleepy People. New players are always welcome and old players suffer only the tiniest bit of bullying peer pressure to post their poems on time (Right, Bat and Stilwell? LOL!), so please check out the rules of the game and consider joining us! =)

25 April 2011


Writing Diary, Entry #25

Atlas TV Guide is hardly the most glamourous media magazine in the world. If I didn't suspect that the term "guerilla journalism" already meant something else, I'd use it for what I have to do when my editor asks me to review a movie or TV show but doesn't tell me how she expects me to see it.

There has been one assignment to write about a movie that hadn't come out anywhere in the world yet (See Entry #11); but the rest of the time, it's implied that my editor expects me to find a bootleg copy that I can watch on my own. And unfortunately, since the Philippines is a hotbed of digital piracy and rental stores have become completely extinct in my lifetime, it almost always is a bootleg copy I have to watch--or at least a "free" digital one someone uploaded onto YouTube without necessarily having asked the owners' permission first.

This assignment has been no exception . . .

16 April 2011


Locus Focus: Take Forty-Nine!

Fittingly enough, my "Places of Prayer" theme is about to give way to my annual Holy Week retreat from blogging. After Palm Sunday, comments will still be accepted, but will be moderated for a time. This is to make sure I read every comment I get and don't miss the chance to respond to anyone! I'm particularly interested in what everyone thinks of my proposed Theme Challenge for May:

May at the Movies

Locus Focus has had a number of "Movie Editions", but if everyone is okay with the idea, we will get to have a whole month's worth of posts about places in movies.

15 April 2011


Friday Night Movie: The Blob

Welcome to the climax of B-week. As much as I'd like to hype up the B-book that shall be featured in tomorrow's Locus Focus, I have to admit that nothing is going to top . . . The Blob!!!

0:04 Oh, such happy music for a Horror movie! And I can tell that they're not being ironic . . . =)
0:39 Well, okay, the over-all effect is cheesy--but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
1:10 OMG!!! There's a song?!?!? Nobody told me there was a song!!! I'm totally teaching my brothers this. =P
1:23 And if you could see me right now, you'd know that I just made the discovery that one can cha-cha to it, too. (Thank God you can't see me!)
1:56 The music wasn't leading us on. It is a more innocent time.
3:03 I find I've been ruined by the cynical age in which I live. I don't know whether we're supposed to believe him, as Jane does, or scoff aloud as if she could hear us through the fourth wall. (But I want to believe him.)
3:13 Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
3:41 Ah, it's just bad luck to be an old man in a teenagers' movie. =S
4:52 Anyone suddenly reminded of The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill from Creepshow? Only one of the Best Horror Shorts of All Freakin' Time!
5:13 My brothers, on the other hand, would see this and think of Pokemon and Bakugan. And I'm writing these random things because I realise this movie is outside the range of what I usually watch, and I'm scrabbling around for my genre bearings.
8:39 He can't do that to us! I smell a plot complication coming. Because when a cheesy premise gets played this straight, the story needs other sources of trouble.
9:29 Good grief! The old man is practically sobbing with pain and fear and the doctor can't even remember to fake his "bedside manner."

14 April 2011


TBR Tuesday Thursday

See Book Rat's John Green Bonanza
and link up a post of your own!

Yes, this is, as I pointed out last week, one of those alliterative Tuesday memes. I was going to skip it to make room for the impromptu "B-week" festivities . . . only to remember that I have a really great B-book on my TBR shelf.

And the wrong timing of this post seems appropriate when I also recall that I had planned to read this book last March (for "Battlegrounds Month") but ended up not touching it at all.

The new deadline I've given myself is the end of July . . . because I have a Kiwi friend coming to visit in August, and I want to take her to see some of the historic ruins from World War II.

13 April 2011


Wednesday Night Trailer: "It's Indestructable! It's Indescribable! Nothing Can Stop It!"

And now for the real star of B-week . . .

It's not the best trailer available,
but unlike the superior one, it's embeddable.

You know, if there were a face-off between Skynet's most advanced Terminator and the Blob . . . the Blob would probably win.


12 April 2011


Reading Diary: The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

They were just in time. . . They rolled the door shut and then it really began to rain . . . The children could hear it on the top of the boxcar, but no rain came in.

"What a good place this is!" said Violet. "It is just like a warm little house with one room."

After awhile the rain and lightning and thunder stopped, and the wind did not blow so hard. Then Henry opened the door and looked out. All the children looked out into the woods. The sun was shining, but some water still fell from the trees. In front of the boxcar a pretty little brook ran over the rocks, with a waterfall in it.

"What a beautiful place!" said Violet.

"Henry!" cried Jessie. "Let's live here!"

That "updated" 70s cover always makes me cringe. It's the main reason I passed this book over for years. I don't know how I overlooked it two weeks ago, while helping one of my ESL tutees find a summer read that was both appropriate for her level and not challenging in the wrong way. (Too many "easy" MG and YA novels have too much slang or too many references to the pop culture of a country she has never visited.) And it turns out that one mustn't judge a book by you-know-what, inasmuch the story of the four Alden orphans, who must work and set up housekeeping for themselves, has proven to be just the thing.

And did you know that Gertrude Chandler Warner was also a teacher, with a similar problem finding books for her students? She actually rewrote every chapter of this book as often as it took to make sure it was both exciting and easy.

11 April 2011


As I Was Saying about the Letter B . . .

Join this week's Bargain Book Bonanza
at Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook!

Kindergarten teachers must have so much fun when when whole weeks are devoted to a single letter! Just think . . . blues and browns on the bulletin board . . . brownies and berries at snack time . . . all sorts of balls at recess . . . and no end of books for extended story time! (And now I imagine a kindergarten teacher shaking her head at my idealised view of what goes on in her classroom. LOL!)

For today's BBB (*giggle*), I have two B-books to share . . .

10 April 2011


Alphabet Assignments: B

Sesame Street might not have received permission to use the melody of The Beatles' Let It Be, but I'll bet that if you tried to sing the lyrics of Letter B when its inspiration comes on the radio, they'll fit!

It has been a while since I last made a list of Ten Things I Like That Start with the Same Letter, hasn't it? But when I looked over my blogging schedule for this week, I noticed there were quite a lot of things that begin with B. So I thought this post could be a kind of teaser or overture . . . except that I won't actually be blogging about any of the entries that made it later on . . .

1) The Baby-sitters Club Series

Why did I wait so long to start reading this great Juvenile Series? Kristy, Claudia, Stacey and Mary Anne took the "Girl's Book" where Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy left off, and they did it with signature 80s style. The best part is that the books are highly readable even for someone who is no longer in the target demographic. I'm currently waiting to run into BSC #6, but you can find my reviews of the first five novels in my Books page.

09 April 2011


Locus Focus: Take Forty-Eight!

New to Locus Focus?
Read this first!

So how has this week been for you all? (I'm not just asking that; I'd really like to know.) Most of what I've done over the last few days you'll probably end up reading about in future posts, anyway, so I won't dump it all on you here . . . But I thought I'd tell you about last night's successful culinary experiment. Having had no luck finding new recipes for what Filipinos call "cream dory" (which doesn't seem to be caught and eaten anywhere else on the planet), I decided to look up recipes for tilapia instead and just switch around the fish.

One can of diced tomatoes (undrained), half a can of mushrooms (undrained), half a jar of pimiento-stuffed olives (drained), one medium-sized yellow onion, more cloves of garlic than I'm going to admit to you, some salt and pepper, a bit of oregano, and a sprinkling of dried basil later . . . and my entire family was worshiping at my feet! (Thank you, Elise! You've never failed me yet!)

And speaking of worship--the real sort, not the figurative sort--today I have a setting that drags my "Places of Prayer" challenge into another week, at least where I am concerned. (It has nothing about food, though . . . =P)

08 April 2011


Tutor Tales, Volume 30

The great thing about having gone into teaching/tutoring immediately after graduating from uni is that I've always had summer holidays. The not-so-great thing is that it means I have to look elsewhere for income for two and a half months each year.

But not this year! Thanks to Star Shaker's mother, who is determined to make her children work at their English all year round, I have my first ever summer tutees: Star Shaker, who will be starting high school next year, and her little brother Skid Breaker. (Where do I get these names???)

And that's the good news! =P

As for the rest of it . . . Well, we all know that teaching means that your days always come in a mixed bag.

07 April 2011


Meanwhile, in Another District of Space-Time
(A musical intermission in the Life as a Reading Challenge series)

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon in my ninth or tenth year when an aunt gave me a proper introduction to The Beatles. Although I can't be certain, I believe this was the first song I ever listened to properly . . .

Last year I was going to do a Beatles Song Smackdown,
but gave up after realising there was no way
I could whittle their ouvre down to
a "Sgt. Pepper's Sixteen"!

And it's all about the properly, isn't it? I'm sure I had heard Beatles music many times before and just never noticed.

A cousin received a similar musical awakening around the same time, thanks to her music-loving father; and she and I spent the next few years moaning about having been born "too late" for the 60s and "missing out" on Beatlemania.

06 April 2011


Ready for the Best Poetry Game on the Planet???

letter W ampersand & letter Q
letter I letter I

I hope you are, because playing hardball paid off for me and Word & Question has found hosts for April and May!

April -- Crosses and Cradles -- Deadline for Prompts: 8 April

May -- Very Sleepy People

Thanks to Dauvit and Lindsay! =)

Now you might be wondering what I do for prompts during the rest of the month. Well, there are times when I completely neglect poetry--and those are the times when I barely make the deadline and/or am totally unsatisfied with what I have to submit. So I've resolved to practice more.

These days, whenever I come across a particularly good word or an especially good question days before I have to worry about official prompts, I try to write something on the spot. Last week, thanks to one book I was reading aloud to my brother Cue-card Boy and another book I started rereading for Locus Focus, I found some excellent prompts . . .

05 April 2011


T is for a Tuesday Meme!

Some people just can't pass up the opportunity to alliterate. =P Tuesday is the most popular day for memes, and it has a lot to do with its T-sound being an easy phonetic match for so many other words. We have "teaser" . . . "tasty" . . . "top ten" . . . and so on!

And the least popular? In my experience . . . Saturday and Sunday. (LOL--I know, right?!?!) But it has very little to do with the letter "S"! Bloggers seem to take their breaks during the weekend, and that's fair enough!

Anyway, here is a new Tuesday meme I found and wanted to participate in . . .

03 April 2011


Twelve Things about Pope Joan

12. "Perhaps the greatest urban legend in the world is that of 'Pope Joan' . . ." So begins a review I sent in for the May 2011 issue of Atlas TV Guide.

But in all fairness, "Pope Joan" has grown too big to be a mere urban legend and now probably falls under the Conspiracy Theory banner. For isn't the whole point of a conspiracy theory to give those who swallow it a sense of superiority over the gullible sheeple who don't? Bring this up at a mixed gathering and even those who don't care either way will get a sneaky twinkle in their eyes at the chance to ask the question, "But how do you know it never happened?"

11. On the other hand, perhaps it is the Urban Legend genre that has grown too small. For Urbs Roma, even farces and fables need to be epic in scale--and this one about a literate, intelligent, politically savvy, cross-dressing woman fooling every man in Rome into accepting her as the Pope totally meets the standard.

02 April 2011


Locus Focus: Take Forty-Seven!

Welcome to the "Places of Prayer" Challenge!

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who made last week's Middle-earth Day such a great blog event--not just with your posts, but also with your comments! If you missed anyone's contribution, please check back so that you can pay him or her a visit. =)

Today, we're about to enter the fourth week of Lent, so it's about time we had something "spiritual." =P

I had had the following "setting" in mind for last year's Non-fiction in November Challenge--but it fell through when I had trouble rereading the book. But I guess it was all for the best. I'm rereading it now and am delighted to have another of those "right book at the right time" experiences.