Friday, September 30, 2005

Into The Cut Up Machine

Just for kicks, I sent a paragraph from my story, "Beauty Queens" through the Cut Up Machine over at Language is a Virus. No doubt it's much better with poetry, but you all know I don't have any of that.

So here's the original:

One day when I was seven years old I woke up obsessed with the word 'biscuit' (the week before it was 'crisp'). I spent some time in front of the mirror saying it over and over again. I liked the sound of it as it came out of my mouth, my tongue wrapping around the hard edges, hitting against the back of my two front teeth when the final 't' sounded. I was so overwhelmed by my love of the word that I mixed together oatmeal, flour, and orange juice and made one hundred and five small biscuits. When no one would eat them I cried and brought them to my Lola. She laid them out in her garden like a thousand gifts and held me on her lap while we watched the birds feast.

And here's the "Cut Up" (I've bold-faced what I find interesting juxtapositions):

out my that woke her eat word birds my love again. was as hundred by mouth, and on of it eat front front the on it obsessed love feast. love I hitting of hundred One wrapping sounded. tongue against teeth 't' and in sound no final against before small we her we word love garden on tongue we the two over thousand I front in hard word obsessed I together them I we again. and wrapping made I and I time time it seven her When old we by and flour, of and years biscuits. 't' When When came spent over I eat up of word tongue around and mixed I by on it brought when when I would years years them some on oatmeal, I flour, sound her mixed of was lap front

The oral fixation in the original paragraph is quite plain, but putting it through the Cut Up Machine multiplied it by five. This will no doubt amuse The Chatelaine, to whom I recently sent a blurb for her new Blurb Project. She responded, rather...I don't know...violently that "everything is about sex" with me and that she is not fooled—no she is certainly not!—by my Kindergarten vignettes.

And I'm all, "Wha?!!"

Anyhoots...if you're in the mood, put something of yours through the Cut Up Machine and post it in the comments. If you're feeling shy, there's no need to include your original.


Finally, here's a link round-up to what some of our "A Call to Pens" participants have to say about their letter-writing experience:

Bec says this, barbara jane says that, and our resident bride-to-be chimes in, too.

Happy weekend all!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Jack 'n' Poy On Steroids

Somebody created this.

I'm stunned.

All the possible outcomes read like random lines from the Mead notebook of a 14-year-old boy battling a bad case of acne and suffering from a certain social anxiety that keeps him from asking, I don't know, some girl named Sierra to the Winter Formal. Take for example, these:

Devil hurls rock, breathes fire, immune to scissors & gun, casts lightning, eats snakes, possesses human.

Air blows out fire, erodes rock, evaporates water, chokes devil, tarnishes gun, freezes dragon, creates lightning.


Speaking of things that stun me, Joanne successfully completed the Maui marathon and contributed $3,680.00 to the Manilatown Heritage Foundation.

Which makes me think...Joanne must not have monkey mind. Nope. Joanne is a woman who can focus. And focus is something to which I aspire.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wherefore Art Thou, Weez?

I owe my blog a post or two, but for now I only have time to say: "Weez, where are you? Stop exceeding your bandwidth! And...Eileen needs your snail mail address!"

Well, wait. I think I have time for more.

I mailed my letter to Lorna Dee yesterday, quite miffed at myself for not being able to locate a decades-old supply of sealing wax to make things all...pirate-like. Or swashbuckling English hero-like.

Writing the letter was a lesson in enforced stillness, complete with much staring off into ceiling corners. No easy task for me, as my thoughts go every which way these days. I'm fairly certain I sounded nothing like I sound here. I was noticeably un-smartass, for example. No sarcasm, no humor. Just...thoughts. It sounded much more (I think) like my private journal.

I loved taking the time to write—legibly!—by hand. I even loved my aesthetic struggle to keep every line relatively straight. Thank hooters I managed to do so, otherwise I would have gone back over and over again 'til I got it right. By the time I signed off, my hand was tired and my writing showed it.

I never could have completed my little missive during the kids' waking hours! That's quite the opposite from blogging, which I can do while simultaneously overseeing a game of dominoes, cooking dinner, answering e-mail, and IMing with my brother. All of which makes me wonder if I'm ever truly present when it comes to performing my day-to-day stuff? Monkey mind.

Poor Eileen aside, how are the rest of you doing?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Homeboy + Pixie Goth + Suburban Mom=...

...well, I don't know what the hell it equals, but I had a good time. It would take one crusty cynic to find something wanting about sitting on a rooftop in the sun-drenched Mission, staring at the stunning view of the city, eating brunch (sprinkled liberally with some kinda crazy spiced nuts), and chatting away with ob and ms. bj.

And now, a quiz:

Match the brunchers with their drinks:

1. barbara jane
2. ob
3. ver

a. diet coke
b. mojito
c. agua

And, no, there are no prizes.** Can we just once take a quiz simply for the intrinsic satisfaction? Geez.

Post-brunch, we enjoyed a mandatory visit to Mitchell's, where I felt—quite acutely—the loss of my Lola. Her freezer was always stocked with plastic tubs of Mitchell's ice cream: mango and ube, mostly. The melancholy was brief, though, as there were important decisions to make regarding choice of flavor(s) and whatnot. We had plenty of time to do this since there were approximately 400 people in line before us.

And now, another quiz:

Match the ice cream eater with their cool treat of choice:

1. barbara jane
2. ob
3. ver

a. double scoop dulce de leche y mexican chocolate
b. mexican chocolate
c. kalamansi sorbet

Yes, indeed, a most pleasant trip into the city. Many thanks to the nebulous-no-more couple for allowing me to chaperone their Sunday afternoon adventure.

**Speaking of prizes, I walked away with ob's chapbook Sorta Rican, which I am very much looking forward to reading. You're so jealous.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Picture This

How did it happen, do you think, that little boys are now more fussy than little girls about...their hair? I have highly scientific proof to back me up, so don't even attempt to refute me. What proof is this, Ver? you ask. Well, I'll tell you: Picture Day, 2005.

Imagine if you will, eighteen 5-year-olds standing in a single fidgety line. The girls either wear outfits that their well-meaning mothers clearly forced them to don (does anyone remember Garanimals?), or they wear these sort of boho chic ensembles that are charming in a "I'm-five-I-can-get-away-with-this-now-back-off" way. The thing of true note about the girls, though, is that they exude a free-flowing wildness, and that this wildness makes itself known via their long hair, which—to a girl (except for one who arrives every day with ultra-tight, oxygen-depriving braids)—is clipped on one side to keep them from appearing, I don't know, completely feral.

The boys? The boys are dressed up and apparently share the same stylist. They wear rep stripe vests and button-down shirts, pressed khakis and red cable sweaters. And the hair! The boys collectively sport more product on their noggins than I use in two weeks' time. Most of them go for the pronounced spikes made popular by that blandly cute kid in Jerry Maguire. I hear one mom say to another, "You know, he does it by himself. Ten minutes in front of the mirror every morning." And the other answers, "Same here!"

Special prize, though, goes to the two excellent and superbly shiny fauxhawks (they are basically bending it like Beckham) in the group. One must give credit where credit is due, and so I say to the mom of fauxhawk #1: "Oh my God, his hair is fantastic." She points with her chin to fauxhawk #2 and says, "It's because of that kid! He had his that way on the first day of school and ever since then my son's been telling me, 'I want it just like F's. Just like his.'"

And so I kind of like this, this gentle twist on things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Halloween? I Can Do That.

I'm all a-twitter, you see, for I have received my first assignment as Head Room Parent: The Kindergarten Halloween Party. As you can imagine, I'm all over this. In fact, I'm losing my mind. My inspiration, of course, is Martha Stewart. Because ex-con or no ex-con, the woman—and her glue gun-slinging minions—rocks the craft-bah (get it? did you get that? did you?).

And so I am currently gathering all the supplies to make a Ver-ified version of this Halloween tree:

I'm sorry. I'm probably scaring you.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Jollibee Cap Off To Barbara Jane!

So, let me be honest.

It's not the easiest thing on the ego (or, okay, maybe this is just me) to meet a beautiful and wickedly gifted Pinay writer. The simple truth is that insecurity and jealousy can play some nasty, dirty little tricks. But the beautiful and wickedly gifted Barbara Jane Reyes ain't having that. What I'm trying to say—and making a mess of it, I might add—is that there are many reasons why I am pleased to call bj my friend, the main one being that we were able to become friends at all. So it's with much, much happiness (and the goofiest grin on my face) that I help spread the word:

Barbara Jane Reyes has been selected as the recipient of the 2005 James Laughlin Award for her second collection of poems, Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press). The James Laughlin Award is given to commend and support a poet’s second book of poetry. The award was established by a gift to the Academy from the Drue Heinz Trust in honor of the poet and publisher James Laughlin (1914–1997). Ms. Reyes will receive a cash prize of $5,000, and the Academy will purchase copies of Poeta en San Francisco for distribution to its members. This year’s judges were James Longenbach, Mary Jo Bang, and Elizabeth Alexander.

Her work was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and appears or is forthcoming in Asian Pacific American Journal, Chain, Interlope, Nocturnes (Re)view, North American Review, Tinfish, Versal, in the anthologies Babaylan (Aunt Lute, 2000), Eros Pinoy(Anvil, 2001), Going Home to a Landscape (Calyx, 2003), Not Home But Here(Anvil, 2003), Pinoy Poetics(Meritage, 2004), and forthcoming in Red Light: Superheroes, Saints and Sluts(Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp, 2005), and Graphic Poetry(Hong Kong: Victionary, 2005). Her first book, Gravities of Center, was published by Arkipelago Books (San Francisco) in 2003.

From the judge’s citation for the James Laughlin Award:

“If William Blake were alive and well and sitting on a eucalyptus branch in the hills above the bay, this is the poetry he would aspire to write.” —James Longenbach

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Call to Pens: The Draw

So, players, here's the draw for our letter-writing project, posted with apologies for not being able to include a picture of the names laying all askance in my Jollibee cap; the ol' digital camera is out of order:

Nick will write to
Creen who will write to
Paqui who will write to
Tracey who will write to
Gura who will write to
Bec who will write to
bj who will write to
Patrick who will write to
Ver who will write to
Lorna who will write to
Eileen who will write to
Weez who will write to...

Needless to say (this is where you wonder why, then, Ver, do you say it, and I don't respond because, well, I'm ignoring you), I wish I could be a fly in the envelope for these pairings.

So...let's see. Next step is to check out your partner's blog, send him/her an e-mail to get their snail mail address, and post a letter around/about a week from today. Filipino time, Indichica time, and I'm-just-a-regular-person-gimme-a-break-time are all acceptable reasons for being up to two days late. After three days, you're on your own.

(I don't know about you, but I'm going to spend the first few days attempting to return my penmanship to its former glory.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tongue-Eating Bug

I'm not sure I needed to know about this. The bug eats a fish tongue down to the nub and then latches on to become the replacement tongue.

Who's in charge here?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Call to Pens

The following rhetorical question does not apply to barbara jane or to ob, both of whom have been getting more than their share of what I'm about to discuss. To the victor(s) go the spoil(s), after all. But anyways...

How long has it been since a mail carrier delivered a letter—an actual letter, mind you, not a birthday card or postcard (though both of these are really quite nice)—to your mailbox? A handwritten letter, complete with random ink smudges, occasional cross-outs and, if you're lucky, doodles? If you're anything like me (and may the Greek gods help you if you are), your answer is, oh, about 43,000 eons ago. If you're anything like me, it's been so long you can't even remember.

I love letters. When I was around ten years old, I had a pen pal who lived in Scotland. She'd write me letters written on that groovy light blue "par avion" paper that folded up to become its own envelope. And even though the letters were completely mundane, even though they were devoid of color, excitement, or any proof whatsoever that she possessed an ounce of imagination, I literally jumped up and down every time I received one. Why? Because (I repeat) I love letters.

So I propose something radical. A project, of sorts. I propose a call to pens.

This is how it works. If you, too, want to receive a real letter in the mail, leave a comment anytime in the next 2 days. I will then throw the names in a hat (I really will. I'll throw them in my Jollibee baseball cap and take a picture for ya), and pull a name. That first person will have to write a letter to the second name I pull, the second to the third, etc. etc. until we get to the last name. That person, of course, will have to write to the first person whose name I pulled. This, of course, requires an exchange of snail mail addresses which you will work out amongst yourselves.

AND blog about the experience. But without quoting the letter. (I'm sorta interested, you see, in whether or not you will write differently in a handwritten letter than you do on your blog. And if you will write differently knowing it will not show up on the recipient's blog.)

This is the point where you say, "Oh my God, Ver, this sounds so fun I can't even stand it."

But we have to have rules:

1) You must have a blog.
2) If you don't already read the blog of the person to whom you are writing, you are first obligated to read 10 of their recent posts.
3) You must mail the letter within one week of finding out who you're writing to.
4) You must agree to blog about the experience.

Maybe this is a little scary? Oh, I don't care.

Now...who's in?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Yes, Miss Alli

I don't know who Miss Alli is, but Miss Alli is right:

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he was being prevented from acting by bureaucracy and the sheer magnitude of the situation. Where are the stories of how he was in his office freaking the fuck out because there were tens of thousands of Americans trapped without food and water? Where's the story of how he ripped a strip off of somebody, demanding to know what the holy hell the holdup is getting water and food to those people?

I want to hear about how he was demanding that extraordinary steps be taken. I want to hear about how he sent his lawyers into a room—he had four days, you know—and demanded that they come back in an hour with a plan for him to send the Marines into New Orleans with 100 trucks of food and water, posse comitatus or not. I want to hear that he was panicked. Because I was panicked. Everyone I know was panicked. Everyone I know was gnashing their teeth with helpless rage because they couldn't get in a car, drive down there, and drive a load of homeless Louisiana residents back home with them for soup and a goddamn hot bath. I want to hear that he acted at some point out of genuine despondency about the fact that citizens of the country he is supposed to be running were being starved and dehydrated in a hellish, fetid prison. We are dancing around now about whether it is his failure or not his failure. Where is the decency that would tell him that he is the president, and FEMA is part of his administration, and this failure is his to own and apologize for, whether other people also were wrong or not?

Read the whole post right here.


[awkward segueway]


And now, a favor:

I trust that all of you will help to keep me in line. That you will not let my sudden rise to power go to my head. That you will be friend enough to say, "Oh, but Ver. You have gone too far." I need you now more than ever before. Why? Because I have just been granted the position of...hold onto your laptops for this one...Head Room Parent for Ms. A's Kindergarten class.

(I'm on a double dose of DayQuil.

In case you were wondering.)

(And, Of Course, I Caught a Cold)

The rhythm of our days is changing, and though it's interesting in an "I-don't-think-we're-in-Kansas-anymore" kinda way, I've never been good with change. I fall on my face, engage in petty dramas, and generally raise a ruckus until I finally collapse in submission.

Our weekday mornings are like bad slapstick now, the highlight being the six or so minutes I run around with a hairbrush yelling nonsense like, "If you don't want to brush it, why don't we just shave off all your hair? Yeah, yeah, that's what we'll do. We'll shave! it! all! off!" And then there's breakfast. If I do not start it at 7:26 and set it on the table by 7:34, all is lost. These, my friends, are the eight minutes on whose shoulders stand all the minutes of the remaining day. While they eat, I have ten minutes to make myself presentable (which, by the way, is about ten less than I actually require).

Breakfast is followed by The Big Push. If I turn the key in the lock at 8:05, if the girls are buckled in their booster seats at 8:09, if I pull away from the curb at 8:10, I am victorious. And to the victor, of course, go the spoils.** In my case, two hours and fifteen minutes of...silence.

**Yes, for better or worse, I'm into Rome.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Our Own Voice: September '05

The new issue of Our Own Voice is online, so if you're inclined to take a look at my story Bernie Aragon, Jr. Looks For Love, please do. And thank you to Luisa Igloria for her comments.

I'm looking forward to some quiet time to read the whole issue, particularly Jon Pineda's poetry, the interview with Sabina Murray, the essays by Dean Francis Alfar and Leonard Casper and, well, just about everything. An embarrassment of riches, if ya ask me.

Many thanks again to the folks at Our Own Voice for giving Bernie a place to hang up his apron.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What Is That Saying...

...about an apple not falling far from the tree? Here is Barbara Bush being interviewed on a television show after showing her support at the Houston Astrodome:

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston."

Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this—this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

I think maybe Junior was home-schooled.

(via Editor & Publisher)


Moving on to something that makes me happy: how can you keep from sending wet, sloppy love in the direction of a web site whose tag line is, "Paper, productivity & passion"? Well, you can't. My new obsession: D*I*Y Planner.


And, finally, a quiz: What is the #1 way to keep Ver from making a running start on the many, many things she must do today?

Answer: When taking the big girls to Kindergarten, make sure that Lea falls down on the playground and gets the world's nastiest asphalt burn. Because you know what I just realized? A happy Lea is my kryptonite; an unhappy Lea is my downfall.

*love ya like my little one loves band-aids*

Friday, September 02, 2005


So it's a little ridiculous for me to blog just to say that I'm not going to blog today. I feel somehow...inappropriate. My anger isn't constructive, and I'm not saying/thinking anything that anyone else isn't already saying/thinking.

Thanks to Rich for posting the transcript of Mayor Nagin's radio interview. So far he's the only politician I've heard/read who's more concerned about our people than he is about covering his own ass.

Mercy Corps. Be the change.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Top 25 Ways to Save at the Pump. (via Knightopia) Of course attempting to follow all 25 of these helpful hints might just drive you slowly insane or, at the very least, increase your OCD by 45%. Interior monologue:

Is my gas cap on tight enough? Oh, shoot! I just missed that spot in the shade. Should I keep driving around until I find shade or is it better just to take an immediate spot even though it's not shady? When was my last tune-up? OMG, am I "erratically accelerating"? Must stop that. Cruise control? What the hell is 'cruise control' anyways? Is there a button? Where's the button? My 'change engine oil' light has been on for 3 weeks. Does that mean I'm going to..hell?!! I am. I'm going to hell.


Lots of people have linked to this, but I'll go ahead anyways. Did you know that black people "loot" and white people "find"? Funny how that works.


And for my last PSA, a thank you goes out to Bino, whose link made it easy to give.