Friday, December 31, 2004

Harvest for the World

On my way to the gym today (the neck is much better, thanks), the Isley Brothers were playing on the radio. I'll let them speak for me because...well, just because. Here's their Harvest for the World:

Gather everyman, gather everywoman
Celebrate your lives, give thanks for your children
When will there be a harvest for all the people
When will there be a harvest for all the world
Harvest For The World

All babies together, everyone a seed
Half of us are satisfied, half of us in need
Love's bountiful in us, tarnished by our greed
When will there be a harvest for the world

A nation planted, so concerned with gain
As the seasons come and go, greater grows the pain
And far too many feelin' the strain
When will there be a harvest for the world

Gather everyman, gather everywoman
Celebrate your lives, give thanks for your children
Gather everyone, gather all together
Overlooking none, hopin' life gets better for the world

Dress me up for battle, when all I want is peace
Those of us who pay the price, come home with the least
Nation after nation, turning into beast
When will there be a harvest for the world

And with that, I wish you the kind of new year we're all hoping for. Stay safe tonight.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Crike-y I've a Crick-y

Does that title even make sense? I just like the way it sounds, especially if uttered in my poor approximation of an Irish brogue (oh, go ahead and try it). I have a horrible, shooting, screaming pain in my neck which I acquired two nights ago while extricating myself from Lea's substantial grip without waking her up. It was quite the stealthy maneuver, but now I'm downing the Tylenol and applying a heat pad.

I'm also staring at the Winter Fiction issue of The New Yorker and wondering if I will ever get around to reading it. I was deeply moved by Edward P. Jones' novel The Known World, and so perhaps this story will be good. I don't generally enjoy these fiction issues; I read them out of some twisted sense of duty. Once--was it two Summer issues ago?--there was a father-daughter incest story by an Indian writer. It made my stomach turn inside out and gave me nightmares, but maybe that was the writer's intent. In which case: way to go!

And in blog news...Roger Pao sure as hell calls it like he sees it. Excuse me for being unable to resist (let's blame it on my Tylenol overdose), but I must proclaim: more Pao-er to him! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Also, I was checking out my recent visitors and noticed that Guillermo over at venepoetics has linked to me. I find this both pleasant and puzzling because my blogging is so earthbound, while the poets snatch stars from the sky with every other post. Maybe it's a case of opposites attract.

And that's just fine with me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


our President, who is currently riding his bike and relaxing on his ranch in Texas, has pledged an initial 35 million dollars to tsunami relief. That's pretty nice until you remember reading that he will spend 40 million dollars on his inauguration next month. The administration insists that the 35 million is just the beginning, but I'm going to go ahead and send this e-mail because--call me crazy (oh, Ver, you so crazy...)--I don't believe a thing they say.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Words Fail

Forty-four thousand dead so far? At least one-third are children? I cannot even begin to understand that.

It's difficult to choose where to give (I decided on Oxfam America). It's difficult to feel like it will even matter. But do it anyways.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Just Back...

...from Fresno, where we spent the holiday with my in-laws, including my sis-in-law, her husband, and their three lovely daughters (ages 17-26). They are staunch supporters of the right to play boardgames, and I am often swept into the pleasant insanity. I will not play Clue with these crazy people, though; that just gets ugly.

So this time around, we played a game called Imaginiff, which requires players--more or less--to think in terms of simile and metaphor. This is perhaps an overly romantic description. Let me get specific. At one point, everyone had to vote on the following question: If Veronica (that would be me) were a dog, what kind of dog would she be? My three nieces-in-law voted across the board for "golden retriever," with one of them citing the fact that golden retrievers have "good hair." I was perplexed, but strangely grateful. "Oh, thanks!" said I.

But my sister-in-law! My sister-in-law voted for "poodle." Of course she attempted to disarm me with some sort of nonsense about poodles being well-coiffed. I countered with, "But poodles are high-strung and jittery!"

And then, well, hmmm...I sorta got her point.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

All Tied Up With Bows

Was it Miz Barbara Jane who suggested that everyone give at least one Filipino/a authored book as a gift this Christmas? Regardless, her current post reminded me to note that I did my part!

One lucky nutter on my list is receiving Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive by Patrick Rosal, and one is receiving The Forbidden Book by Abe Ignacio, Enrique De La Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel, and Helen Toribio. Full disclosure: I also gave myself a copy of Patrick's book, as well as Pinoy Poetics. I didn't wrap them, though.

And on that pleasant note, I am off to complete my elfin (or is it "elvin?") duties. Meet you back here after the holiday. Meanwhile, humbuggers keep your chins up! The rest of you...go make merry.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I'm Going In

Taking a deep breath and diving into the shopping morass. But it's my favorite part: stocking stuffers for the girls! Pick-up stix! Little bouncy balls! Hello Kitty lip gloss! Crayons! M & M Dispensers! Stickers! Jump ropes! Sketch books!

But let me leave you with this...

A first look at Marianne Villanueva's soon-to-appear short story collection, Mayor of the Roses.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

"Are You Being Sarcasmic?"

I had a friend who used to say that. It cracked me up. And instead of saying "Goodbye now!" a group of my cousins/aunts/uncles used to yell out the pleasant-sounding "Vagi-now!" (try saying it again with a soft "g.") But I'm moving off message. The message being that I was amused by this writer's suggestion for a new addition to punctuation: the sarcasm point.

He's being sarcastic, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised by the sudden appearance of such a mark. Stranger things have happened (on November 2, 2004, let's say...), after all. I would find the sarcasm point annoying in the same way that I find emoticons (no offense to those who use them) annoying. They take the challenge out of communicating effectively. If I'm being sarcasmic, shouldn't you be able to tell without my having to resort to a punctuation mark that announces it in neon?

Am I really blogging about this? Let's move on...

In typical fashion, I have hidden Christmas gifts all over the damn house and now cannot find half of them.

Moving on again...

I recently spoke (okay, it was an e-mail exchange--must we quibble?) with Eileen about the inexorable sadness of typos. I am cursed with the ability to spot them almost immediately, and I am bummed to say that I am finding certain books semi-rife with the buggers. The worst part is that they happen to be in books written by Filipinos. I find them in books by others as well, but they are not my concern! I want us to be a typo-free people, people! And because I am willing to put my red pen where my mouth is, I have invited Eileen to "use and abuse" my voluntary services over at Meritage Press (which is not to say that Meritage books are filled with typos), and methinks she will.

I like community. Community is good.

As an amusing aside, I will tell you that my proofing talent was honed while working as a copywriter for Illiams-Way Onoma-Say and having to endure the horror of a typesetter accidentally naming a bottle of barbecue sauce "Homie's BBQ Sauce" instead of the far less offensive "Homestyle BBQ Sauce."

I was hoping to be able to laugh about that one day. Today's the day.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Behold! Icy-Crispy Dragon Beard Candy!

Lea and I were in the checkout line at Ranch 99 on Saturday when we became a captive audience to six people performing an intricate ballet of grassroots commerce. One unrolled a poster--easily seven feet tall--and affixed it to the stand. It announced with dramatic black-and-gold fanfare the arrival of "Icy-Crispy Dragon Beard Candy." Another began the painstaking table display, while two others took their seats behind the table, readying themselves for the onslaught of customers. The lone white guy constructed the cardboard towers that would soon (one could only assume) house boxes and boxes of the mysterious candy. But they weren't just going old-school, people. A kid who looked no older than ten set up a computer, firmly establishing the production as a full-fledged multimedia experience.

But by this time my transaction was complete, and the passenger in my grocery cart did not care to linger. "But Lea, look! It's 'Icy-Crispy Dragon Beard Candy!' Let's watch for a little while. They're almost done. What do you think it is? Look! Look at the picture!"

"It smells like fish in here, Mama. I want to go."

"Good point. But it's called 'Icy-Crispy Dragon Beard Candy!' Don't you want to know what it is? I'm so curious!"

"Mama, I am not curious."

I tried to devise another argument, but short of rewarding or bribing the kid (and we all know how I feel about that at the moment), I could find no way to satisfy my increasingly feverish desire to learn more about Icy-Crispy Dragon Beard Candy.

Until now.

Ladies/gents, may I present...Icy-Crispy Dragon Beard Candy. A quick look at the "Tour Dates" page reveals that we were almost witness to a "Rare Live Dragon Beard Candy Demonstration" and that I would have received an icy-crispy sample.


Friday, December 17, 2004

Oddest Book Title of the Year

Okay, here are the choices. And I don't mind adding that I find each of them appealing:

1. Applications of High Tech Squids
2. The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox
3. Bombproof Your House
4. Detecting Foreign Bodies in Food
5. Equids in Time and Space
6. Sexual Health at Your Fingertips

Random thoughts:

How did #6 get by its editor?! Can you dredge high tech squids in flour, deep-fry them and serve them with lemon? Is "equids" a typo? What are the chances of someone bombing my house? Do some foreign bodies taste better than others? A whole book on Japanese lunchboxes?

You can cast your vote right here.

Another Christmas Wish

Cards arrive daily. Without exception, they are devastatingly cute: the smiles! the cheeks! the cheer! They often include startling news such nephew-in-law will be on tour with Beck for most of 2005 playing guitar and inventing ever more astonishing coiffures; a Santa Barbara acquaintance moved to Italy for a year (huh? guess we're not keeping in touch as well as we should); and my cousin D. has a new addition--named Buster--to her family (let us hope it's not a man or a child).

These cards are excellent but, oh, baby baby what I wouldn't give for this one to land in my mailbox.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Brownie

I am longing to blog. But...priorities, priorities, priorities. Had to make an army of these slightly demented-looking reindeer to bring to R & V's preschool this morning. If not for the mucho appreciated help of the spousal unit (I had no idea he could wield such a mean frosting bag) and loyal blog reader Lenggay (who had no idea what she was getting herself into when she rang my doorbell at 9:30), I woulda been up way past midnight. Again.

And now for your viewing pleasure (pleasure being relative)...


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Squirrel Bait

Okay, a squirrel attack is unlikely.


But she doesn't have to know that.

On Intrinsic Motivation

Deeply inspired by this book, I am trying to eliminate the use of rewards and punishments around this place. I am aiming, instead, to light the fire of intrinsic motivation in my offspring--you know, inspiring them to do the right thing simply because they know in their hearts it's the right thing.

Anyways, it blows.

Let's say that Vida (Little Miss It's-Your-Decision-It's-Your-Body-It's-Your-Power) is poised to roll the gigantic green exercise ball down the stairs in an attempt to injure Lea who has, quite innocently, upset some make-believe play involving a rocking horse, two dinosaurs, and a basket of yellow blocks. Now. Living under my new rule of no punishments/no rewards, I am forced to keep a cool head and skillfully, patiently explain to Vida why this would not be a good thing to do. This is about 400 times harder and more time-consuming than having the following exchange:

Me: Vida! Vida! If you do not step away from the stairs I will put you outside. I will lock the door. I will tell the squirrels to attack you.

Vida: No you won't.

Me: Yeah? You watch me. Go ahead and watch me.

[A brief glaring contest ensues. I emerge victorious.]

Vida: Okay. Sheeeesh.

So you see the difficulty. And yet, and yet...I'll keep at it because--oh the irony!--I will one day reap the rewards.

Monday, December 13, 2004

All I Want for Christmas... an explanation.

Read all about it.

And it'd be nice, too, if John Kerry could stop being so damn statesman-like.


On a pleasantly unrelated subject...I would like to show some appreciation for blog tics. Blog tics (I'm making this up) are those things that individual bloggers do on a consistent basis. Eileen's moi-ing and Bino's meow-ing, for example. A.D.'s "I am encouraged," and the delightfully cryptic and brief posts of Weez. The way Rhett has been rating his days on a scale of 1-10. Corrinne's gorgeous photos, Jean's use of art, barbara jane's no-caps, gura's uncanny ability to bring her posts full circle. Oh, and Patrick has poet Oscar Bermeo on his blogroll. Mr. Bermeo often signs off with a "love ya like [insert something hilarious]." A few random ones I remember are "love ya like Macy's loves parades," "love ya like Prince loves frills," and "love ya like front row seats and cracker jacks."

The fact that these tics add pleasure to my day is either 1) kinda nice or 2) kinda sad. Either way, I'm smiling.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

"Chewing Gum is Really Gross...

...chewing gum I hate the most."

Here it is, ladies/gents, a look at Tim Burton's Charlie & the Chocolate Factory!

I never pictured Willie Wonka as having sleek and shiny bobbed hair or flawless, luminous skin. But apparently, he does. Regardless, I'm tickled.

Friday, December 10, 2004


It's been a tricky week. The spousal unit has been in NYC for most of it, and I am running on minimal, restless sleep. Lea, you see, has made the momentous decision to return to babyhood and has assumed the corresponding nocturnal patterns.

The older girls know I am sleep-deprived, and yesterday Vida suggested I take a nap. She insisted she could coerce the others into keeping the non-stop din at a minimum. It was sweet, but I had to refuse. She said, "Okay, Mom, but remember: it's your decision, your body, your power."

I'm fairly certain that is not the standard message in a typical Dragon Tales episode. Which leads me to believe that I have been uttering some, um, interesting things as I grope semi-consciously through my days.

I meet with my writer's group on Monday. Let's just hope I'm coherent by then...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I've Been Wondering...

...about this for years: who is the genius who decided that property taxes should be due on December 10th? It strikes me as unnecessarily cruel and, frankly, a little sinister.

I googled "genius who decided that property taxes should be due on December 10," but nothing of substance came up. No doubt because he (I know it's a he; a woman would never have done this) fears my wrath.

And well he should.

Rediscovered: Cinnamon Toast

My mom used to make it for me when I was little: white bread topped with butter, sugar, and cinnamon and toasted to light brown perfection. I finally pulled it out of my mothering arsenal (replacing wheat for white) and have used it to good advantage. It's been some time--chocolate chip pancakes notwithstanding--since my offspring celebrated me as their culinary hero.

I will rest, now, on my laurels.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Even If

I'm at my perch in the kitchen, working a folktale I found about two sisters--Araw and Buwan, in love with the same man--into a long piece I'm writing. A mother is telling the story to her own teenage daughters:

Now Corazon and Baby leaned forward, and Maria Delgado was pleased with the power of her tale and the feeling--nearly forgotten now--of holding her daughters in thrall.

And later:

That night Corazon and Baby went to their mother separately, each with the same question. "Am I Araw or Buwan?" Maria Delgado gave them both the same answer and then hoped for the best.

Meanwhile, Lea is at the dining room table making a family out of markers and crayons. She didn't draw a family; the family is literally the markers and crayons. She comes into the kitchen, takes my hand and walks me to the table for the introductions. "This is the Mommy," she says, holding up a yellow marker, which heads the perfect line (a small chasm separates the parents from the kids). "And the Daddy is purple. And these are the kids. This one's the baby." The kids are crayon rejects, the stubbiest of the stubby, all about the same size. "Do you want to be the baby?" she asks, putting the sparkly blue one in my hand.

And in the family room, Risa and Vida--flush with having learned the important skill of turning on the stereo and picking their CD and song of choice--are blaring Sheryl Crow's Soak Up the Sun, spinning around in tank tops and skirts, oblivious to the reality of cold weather on the other side of the window. In their running conversation they fabricate a random situation and then pick the parts that each will play. "Okay! Okay! I'm the big sister!" Risa will yell. "Okay!" says Vida, "My leg is broken, and you have to take care of me!"

Just past noon, we sit down together for crunchy, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and it occurs to me that we have all been doing the same thing: making worlds, telling stories. Even if we're the only ones listening.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Ohmagoodness, they found the attic where Rochester imprisoned his wife! From the Sydney Morning Herald:

A cramped secret staircase winding up to a lonely garret has been rediscovered in the manor house which is credited with launching the literary genre of the "madwoman in the attic."

Carpeted with dust, cobwebs, and a solitary collar stud, 13 rotting steps lead into a gable end where the 18th-century original of Mrs. Rochester--the tragic enigma at the heart of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre--was allegedly confined...

The staircase, found when floorboards were lifted in an attic, fills in a missing piece of Bronte's description of "Thornfield Hall," where Mr Rochester lived with the governess Jane Eyre and--hidden away on the top floor--his "mad" first wife. Bronte visited Norton Conyers in 1839 and knew the story of the mansion's "madwoman"--probably epileptic or pregnant with an illegitimate child--who had been kept locked in an attic 60 years earlier.


Um..."a solitary collar stud?!!!"

This makes me want to find my copy of Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, which I first read when I was a student at SFSU. Rhys fills in the gaps in the original narrative, gives voice and history to the "madwoman," and soundly indicts English colonialism in the Caribbean (Rochester's wife, whom Rhys names Antoinette, is a creole rejected by both white and black society). Anyways, it was a brilliant/beautiful/haunting read and a unique experience in that it's not often (for me, at least) that one work of fiction has so completely affected the way I read another.

Envelope Me

I am knee-high in envelopes and having trouble maneuvering gracefully through my days. Over and above the envelopes that arrive daily in the form of junk mail, legitimate correspondence, and personal communication (which I love, don't get me wrong), there are our Christmas card envelopes, envelopes for R & V's kid birthday party, and envelopes for R & V's family birthday party. I have had my fill of this kind of envelope for today.

Instead, I would like to be enveloped in bed, uninterrupted by child disturbances, for a complete eight hours. Or I would like to drive into San Francisco, enveloped in a coat and big cashmere scarf, to look in the store windows first downtown, then along Hayes, and then along Fillmore. Or I would like to sit in a movie theatre enveloped by the aroma of popcorn and watching House of Flying Daggers. Or I would like to lay on the couch enveloped under a blanket at midnight, staring at the Christmas tree so sublimely decorated by my little family.

I think what this amounts to, mostly, is that I'm sleepy.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Oh, Why Not?

Why not submit to Small Spiral Notebook? Check.

Why not pick up something for myself while doing my online shopping? Check (thanks gura!).

Why not wear sweats all day? Check.

Why not eat a piece of pie? Check. And, um, check.

Why not send Jean the link I've been meaning to send her for 2 days? Check.

Why not mix the waffle batter tonight so I don't have to do it in the morning? Almost check.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Good Night

The first Friday night in December means... delivered from Amici's (a large Margherita--half with tomato sauce, half without)
...a tree purchased on 9th Ave. (most likely a Douglas Fir)
...a fire in the fireplace cocoa made and consumed (marshmallows, yes)
...the season's first batch of Chex Mix (warm from the oven)
...addressing Christmas cards (e-mail me your snail mail addy, and I'll send you one!)
...reading in bed (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell)

Happy weekend, all.

Zinn, Zinn, and More Zinn

Just the other day Leny posted an essay--a hopeful, beautiful essay--written by Howard Zinn, a man I would handpick as my Lolo (if such things were, you know, possible). "The Optimism of Uncertainty," it was called, and you can read it right here.

Here in this post-election piece--"Harness That Anger"--the hope is not gone, but you can sense his disappointment, a little weariness. He ends like this:

Sooner or later, profound change will come to this nation tired of war, tired of seeing its wealth squandered, while the basic needs of families are not met. These needs are not hard to describe. Some are very practical, some are requirements of the soul: health care, work, living wages, a sense of dignity, a feeling of being at one with our fellow human beings on this Earth.

The people of this country have their own mandate.


On a barely related note, I could use some advice on what is probably a silly sticking point. At R & V's preschool, the teachers are quite understandably teaching holiday songs and defining lines like, "Don we now our gay apparel" which I can imagine are enormously perplexing to 4-year-olds. They do a cute version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in which little parenthetical asides are sung. Like this:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (reindeer)
Had a very shiny nose (like a lightbulb!)

The problem is that the very last line goes:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (reindeer)
You'll go down in history (like Columbus!)

Thanks entirely to the aforementioned brilliant Howard Zinn and his A People's History of the United States, I am fresh from having read all about Columbus and his acts of genocide and other horrors.

Now, my question--silly as it may I register my opposition to the inclusion of Columbus in the song? It's not incorrect--Columbus has, indeed, gone down in history. But still. And if I do register my complaint, how do I do it without sounding like a complete lunatic? Or am I a complete lunatic?

Comments most welcome.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

So Dang Hilarious: More on Lynne Cheney's Novel

I can't possibly read it, but it's just funny knowing it's out there.

Some brave and civic-minded person has dutifully transcribed every word of Second Lady Lynne Cheney's sapphic historical romance into a blog. It's worth a click just to read the various introductions to the chapter entries. My favorites are:

Chapter 16: Sophie dons pants, survives prairie fire...

Chapter 4: Here comes that "prickling tightness" again...


Chapter 6: We get to the naughty bits...

Anyways, I doubt it will be up for long because I'm sure that posting it on a blog in some way violates the Patriot Act. An Act which is--even as I type--keeping us safe from all sorts of scary things and people. Pffffffft.

And again: pffffffffft.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

What Happens Is This

I have traditionally gone to sleep on December 1st with a smug look and faint smile on my face, feeling--with some justification--that I am way ahead of the holiday game. Tonight will be no different, for I have attacked our list with the gusto and panache of a Red Velvet Miele Vacuum. At least sixteen gifts have been purchased. Our Christmas cards arrived today. Babysitting has been nailed down for all known parties thus far. Plans for Risa and Vida's birthday party are well in hand.

So, yes, I will wake tomorrow cocooned in security, swaddled in self-confidence. I will spend the next two weeks reveling in the true meaning of the season, not deeply embroiled in its commercial aspects. And then...and then..and then this will happen: in two weeks I will finally deign to glance at my list again, at which point my butt will be so completely down a rabbit hole that there will be little hope of my ever climbing out. My life will turn into a series of nightmares consisting of eternal lines at the post office, desperate online shopping, marathon gift-wrapping sessions, hurried baking, bad hair, and unkempt eyebrows.

So stay with me. The fun is just beginning.


Here, a truncated version of my cyberspace shopping journey:

Look! It's Yoshitomo Nara's little wanderer!
Excellent stocking stuffers right here!
Superb service and perfectly nice gifts only a click away!!
Look at this "Things You Must Do To Make Me Happy" pad!
Looking for ugly dolls? Well, look no further!

And just for kicks:

Another sentence ending with an exclamation mark!

Potato Penance

Will check in again later, my lovelies, but am off to the gym now for some self-induced punishment.

My mashed potato intake was entirely out of control last week. I was in some sort of cross-eyed, gravy-ladling frenzy...