Why? Why not?

Let me start this first entry since forever with a rant: I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s a black hole that ensnares and devours that which is free yet priceless — time. Case in point: I was sidetracked a good ten minutes from writing this all because I caught the glow of a notification on my phone’s screen in my peripheral vision. Facebook, one could say is no different and arguably the worse of the two. Its toxic landscape of fake news and vile people notwithstanding, it stands solid as the easiest way to keep in touch with family and friends back home. It helps that I mindlessly scroll through my feed with eyes half-closed anyway; the bulk of it does not register. With Instagram though, it’s always a 50-50 thing. One day I find the images inspiring, the next I cannot stand it. The perfectness, the posturing, the over-curating — it makes it hard to believe that the genuineness of the image has not been filtered out. I’m not preaching here; I too love them filters. So let’s altogether recognize it for what it is; it’s life captured in the best light from the best angle and photoshopped for good measure. I understand that everyone puts their best foot forward on social media, but the effect here is staggering. There seems to be no room for ugly on this platform. Precisely because it’s mostly images that are rarely given context, the viewer is left to fill the gaps in the story, or else, take everything at beautiful, perfectly manicured, veneered face value. “How to be you po?” we all subconsciously ask.

Last month, I took some time off Instagram. I wanted to channel my attention to more worthwhile endeavours. While it did help to cleanse the palate, I failed at my primary objective — I ended up spending my newfound extra idle time on Facebook.

Clearly my mind has to be engaged otherwise it will continue to wander. I know that if there is one thing that can capture my attention more than images, it is words. I’ve thus made it a point to actually read the paperback I almost always carry with me to work. To take it a notch further, I’ve decided to write again. Discounting a hiatus in the Himalayas or an interruption-free week away on the islands of El Nido, I can think of no better way to purge the mind of distractions (aside from working “in the zone”).

My twenty-four year old self started this blog six years ago as a way to document and express. At that time, I worked on weekends, and hustling 6-7 days a week to meet clients on my days off would not be uncommon. Busy, yes, but that was the primary reason why I wanted to do more and experience more of life. I woke up at dawn to be in the pool for 7am swimming lessons, and I’d rush to the studio for pole dance classes after office hours. On weekends that I didn’t work, I took six-hour bus rides to escape the city a couple of times and get surfing lessons. And even if I wasn’t particularly good nor consistent at writing, I still made time for this.

So what’s my excuse now?

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A Study (of K) Pt. 1: Eyeglasses

Those Eyeglasses. She rests on top of your nose confidently, sitting squarely on your face. Like a knight guarding the gate, she opens the doors at your bidding and shows you the world. Once she boasted of a pristine pair of clear plates and a fine, rigid frame. You laid your eyes on her, and she was never the same. How you’ve smudged the glass with your fingerprints, and the frame, rubbed off by your incessant, unconscious touch. She’s seen better days. And yet, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She revels in the idea of holding your vision ransom, and on days when she’s feeling feisty, she’d distort an image or two, throw in a couple of blinding flashes and blurry shadows, and giggle silently as you rub your eyes in disbelief. She falls faint down the bridge of your nose, trusting that you would catch her, and she smiles as you slide her back in place, basking in the assurance that you’d never let her fall, never let her break, never need to replace her. She observes everything with you, wistfully wishing to know what you make of the things you perceive, what goes on behind those eyes — eyes that look on from daybreak to dusk, eyes that rely on her, a supposedly impartial and unclouded ally.

When you finally take her off and place her on your bedside table at the day’s end, she looks on anxiously as you sleep, watching your eyes quiver behind the closed lids. She envies the dreams that show you worlds she never could and cannot begin to imagine, and she waits impatiently for the sun to reappear, the morning to dispel the dark, the light to tear you away from that other place and bring you back to the world of you and her.

Then you open your eyes and always find her.

Tschüs!

Transcription Challenge Accomplished!

I meant to share this with you about three months ago. I started the draft for this entry a couple of days after my 25th birthday (Yes, I already turned 25! More on my 25before25 project soon.). I forgot about it somehow, but here it is, the short story of how I completed my little transcription project. 🙂

About a week before my birthday, I was surfing the web and came upon the website of Ms. Jessica Zafra. I didn’t know that she had a dialogue with Mark Millar, so I was pleasantly surprised to read the first part of her amusing two-hour long interview. She called for volunteers to do the rest. Without thinking too much about it, I signed up for the job. I don’t recall having any transcribing experience, so I was kinda wishing she’d ignore my jab at volunteerism.

In about an hour, I received the email I was hoping/not hoping to get. I immediately played the attached audio file. Played it again. And again. Man, I could hardly understand anything. If you’re familiar with Millar’s Scottish accent, you’d get what I mean. I knew this was gonna be fun.

After some number of hours listening at maximum volume (to hell with my hearing), rewinding, and piecing words together ’til they formed coherent sentences, I was able to successfully transcribe my share of the pie. That was probably the looonnnggggest seven minutes ever!

Here below is the transcript I prepared as posted on Jessica Zafra’s website:

Trip to the Millar-verse, part 2: Kick-Ass was almost his autobiography

June 03, 2012 By: jessicazafra

The continuation of our interview with Mark Millar. Transcription by the valiant xiaoarma (That’s me! :)), the last volunteer standing.

This is the part where we note that his work on The Ultimates was a big influence on The Avengers movie.

Mark Millar (MM): It was very flattering, I mean, they used a lot of that stuff in the movie. But they do that all the time in comics, like the Spider-Man movie. The first Spiderman movie has lots of things from old Spider-Man comics, you know, and uhm, Tim Burton’s Batman had a lot of things from Alan Moore’s Killing Joke, you know. And so, The Avengers movie…

Jessica Zafra (JZ): It’s interesting that the collected Ultimates has an introduction by Joss Whedon.

MM: Totally coincidental, ye, at the time we obviously had no idea.

JZ: And also the casting of Samuel Jackson (as Nick Fury) was totally your idea.

MM: Yeah, that was 2001 when we came up with that, you know.

JZ: In your comics they’re actually sitting around talking about who should play them in the movie. Hilarious.

MM: Hilarious, I know. I couldn’t believe it, but it just kinda came true, you know? But I think when I do something, I tend to take a filmic approach to it. So I think movie producers look at it and they think, “Oh, that would be quite easy to do in a movie” ’cause I’ve done it like a movie in the comic, you know…I think when they read The Ultimates they thought, “Ye, we should lay it out like that.” It just happens that my style is quite filmic.

JZ: Do you prefer the term ‘comics’ or ‘graphic novels’?

MM: Comics. ‘Graphic novel’ sounds like it’s ashamed to be a comic book.

I always think it’s funny, but I sort of get why they made it up, because (the term) was invented in 1986-1987. And that was a time when there was amazing work coming out, you know, like Frank Miller was doing The Dark Knight, Alan Moore was doing Watchmen and they were trying to get them in the bookstores and the bookstores were saying, “We don’t want comics.”

So they said, “Oh no, these are not comics; these are special comics called graphic novels.” It’s a very clever way of selling comics to people who doesn’t like comics.

JZ: I think it’s really good excuse for parents to go and buy comics for themselves, because they’re graphic novels.

MM: Yeah.

JZ: Of the characters you’ve written, which one has the most amount of you in it?

MM: I would say the most is probably Kick-Ass, because it’s autobiographical. There’s loads of things from my real life in it, you know. I mean, like…

JZ: You once put on a costume and fought crime?

MM: I almost did, ye. When I was 15 I designed a costume. My best friend and I made costumes, and we were like, “Aren’t we too old?” You kinda think you’d do that when you’re 10 not 13. You’re almost a man by 15, you know?

And I designed a costume and we went to the gym for six months and we were doing karate and things like that. And it would’ve been so easy to find out who we were, because we were the only two guys who were into comics probably for a hundred miles around. So thank goodness we didn’t do it.

Kick-Ass is the story of what may have happened if we had tried it. That’s why I dedicated the book to my friend who I was gonna (be superheroes) with. If we had done it, I think we would’ve had our asses kicked—going on the streets, as soon as people saw our costumes, they would’ve beat us up. The costumes would’ve been enough—they were bright blue costumes, people would’ve chased us home. So thank goodness we didn’t do it, but Kick-Ass is a fantasy of what may have happened if we had done it.

JZ: Do you see yourself writing a novel that is all words?

MM: I’ve turned down offers in the past, but I’m gonna do one in January or February, I’m gonna start something like, I had an idea for something, and it’s actually kind of…I hope it won’t fall under Chick Lit! It’s not what I expected to write.

I had this idea last year…it’s the kind of thing that my wife would read or something, and I’m known for doing things where you can get shot in the face and things like that. I don’t know how my fans would react to it, you know. I had this idea for something very emotional, and I thought it would be a stretch. It wouldn’t work as a comic, but it would work very well as a prose thing, you know. It’s so definite that I think my fan base might be like, “What the hell is this?”

JZ: Or you can just publish it under another name, like Stephen King does all the time.

MM: I would like to bring my readers into it, I have a fair number of people guaranteed to buy it. I’ve done a children’s book coming out spring next year. It’s a superhero book aimed at 5-year-olds, it’s got pictures done in storybook style, with one picture per page. It’s a kindergarten-level book. That’s kinda fun to do as well, because I kinda quite like things that are like, you know, objectionable.

I quite like writing stuff that’s kinda violent or objectionable, full of swearing, things like that. I always find it quite fun to do that kind of stuff. So then to suddenly change gears in my head to do something for 5-year-olds is great fun. So I’m gonna do more of that.

To be continued

You may be wondering what I got in return – what else but yet another copy of Super Crooks #1! One can’t have enough, it seems. I didn’t do it for the comics though. I did enjoy the challenge even if I stayed up all night (more than once) to get it done. It just proved to me that you can make things that make you happy (however small) happen by simply saying yes.

Special thanks to Ms. Zafra!

Tschüs!

Again

I am never gonna be as good at this as you.
I will always be mumbling and fumbling, in awe
of your formidable smoothness.
You could never guess what’s behind my smiles.
But I’m sure you’ve seen the knots in my stomach.
They’ve got your fingerprints all over them.
This game we’re playing,
are you enjoying it?
Stop calling me ‘cute’.
You wouldn’t want me to soil your shiny, new shoes.
You and your abominable coolness, ha.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
The string round my wrist, I wonder
when it will come loose.
Nothing’s ever new. And no.
It’s not fun always coming back to you.

Tschüs!

Everything & Nothing

I do not like how you’d typically fall asleep in the middle of a conversation.
Come to think of it, you’ve never really said ‘good night’.
I do not like how you used to begin with just ‘hi’.
It really felt like you wanted me to get the ball rolling instead of you.
I do not like how you’d suddenly laugh when I tell you something not funny.
Comedy is not my strongest suit, remember?
I do not like how fiercely relentless you are.
Good thing I’m simply more bullheaded than you.
I do not like how we sometimes stop at ‘okay’ and ‘ok’.
They’re painfully protracted ellipses.
I do not like how my gut flips over whenever you say something honest or kind.
More so when your concessions make me feel like I’ve wronged you somehow.
I do not like how you make it that much harder to stop.
You appear to have a formidable talent for finding those minute cracks and crevices.
I do not like how disjointed I feel during those times when you do step down for a while and let me have my way.
And I absolutely do not like how you make me smile everytime you come back around and prove
That after everything, after all that, you never actually did listen to me.

Tschüs!