Wednesday, April 27, 2005

speaking of fish . . .

i love it when tv shows cover their arses by making sure the "do not try this at home" line is either said (more than once) or clearly sprawled on screen. but sometimes it just makes me feel stupid.

for instance, if the clip is about a diver who holds a bleeding carcass in shark-infested waters to test if the carnivorous fish will take a bite out of the human as well, . . . DO I NEED TO BE TOLD THAT I SHOULD NOT TRY IT AT HOME?

here's another thought: what kind of lunatic has a pond full of sharks AT HOME?

maybe they should consider revising the line to "do not try this at home or elsewhere, you dim-witted viewer you."

Friday, April 22, 2005

if you blog it, it will come

everyone has strange dreams. the trick is remembering them so you can bring them up at opportune times. like in the middle of a badminton game, or when a date starts talking about taxes (will report as soon as i've tried at least one of those options).

if you ask me (and no one has, so far), a dream is an amalgam of random thoughts and visual and auditory input from your past, intertwined together by a plot that can be so completely otherworldly that you wake up feeling like an indie scriptwriter on drugs. this is why i don't believe that you should overinterpret dreams. if i did, i'd probably have asked someone to chop the trees in the backyard (i used to dream the trees wanted to kidnap me) or stopped from drinking milk completely (i dreamed* people came back as milk in their second life). my point: dreams don't always point to a deeply rooted problem. maybe your brain just needs a hobby.

one of my favorite dream plots belongs to christine, one of my best friends currently in hong kong. in that novelesque dream, she and a group of children were being chased by dinosaurs who wanted to eat them. apparently, there was a lot of red tape involved in carnivorous activities in her dream world because before a dinosaur could eat someone, he or she had to FILL OUT A FORM (significant pause). and because the children were too young to fill out the forms themselves, the adults helped the kids with the paperwork . . . so they could all be eaten alive.

i've since then decreased contact with christine.

(am kidding, of course. when the time comes, i'd like someone like her to help me fill out my pre-death forms.)

last night, i dreamed that i was on a small road with four or five pedestrian lanes. or maybe they were just white lines running across the street. in any case, i felt compelled to do something about all the whiteness. so i grabbed a pint of peach paint (don't ask me where i got it or why it's peach) and a wide paintbrush, and proceeded to make the white lines peach. it was after midnight so there were no cars and the few people that could've been witness to my vandalism didn't really care. they were probably living out their own dreams at the time.

anyway, i finished the paint job and felt guilty as hell immediately after. i sensed that the police were after me (i love how senses are heightened in dreams) so i threw the can on one side of the road and the paintbrush on the opposite side. then i ran and ran (all that running is solid proof that it was all just in my mind) until it dawned on me that the CSI can lift my prints off the can (note to self: just choose two out of the three CSIs. horatio will not mind). so i ran back and sneakily retrieved the can and brush. then i started running again.

there is nothing like the feeling of waking up and realizing that the past few hours of your life were not part of the real world.

*sometimes i feel that 'dreamed' is incorrect -- my first choice is always 'dreamt' -- but fantine clears it up for me (gay test #3) (for your convenience, here's test 1 and 2)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

that's that

it's official: i am not going to have a column. not soon, anyway.

so i've decided to post what was supposed to be the first article in the columnthatdidnotcometopass. considering how the whole column scenario turned out, this piece is eerily spot on.

the good news is i meant every word. life is still sickeningly wonderful to me.


By Orange de Guzman

Is it becoming increasingly harder to have happy endings?

Just recently, I was watching the Discovery channel with Juancho, my 2-year-old nephew and his father. Since Juancho was old enough to see, his parents have been trying to protect him from inappropriate TV shows. After all, he still has the rest of his life to watch "The World’s Most Dangerous Animals Volume II." Anyway, that day, we chanced upon some feature on underwater creatures (or so we thought) and Juancho was beside himself with excitement when a clown fish showed up on screen.

“Look everybody! It’s Nemo!” (I have come to terms with the fact that my nephew talks like a cartoon character or, worse, one of those Barney kids.)

My brother-in-law and I happily agreed and we continued to watch the other ocean creatures with him. Without warning (or maybe the narrator was leading to it, but Juancho’s commentary was more interesting), the documentary showed black and white footages of warships in active battle.

“What’s happening?” my nephew asked, quite alarmed. The two adults in the room simultaneously let out a shout of horror and scrambled to change the channel. YOU try explaining the concept of war to a toddler.

Fortunately, the National Geographic channel had a special on reptiles. We were all intently watching some kind of lizard balancing on a narrow tree branch, when we heard the voiceover calmly saying: “. . . and the home of a tribe of CANNIBALS” and the video shifted to a group of half-naked men shrieking and dancing wildly around a fire. What next!? Can’t a 2-year-old safely watch adult documentaries without being interrupted by carnage anymore? We resignedly put the overused "Barney Live in New York!" CD in the player. I had a sinking feeling Barney was behind the documentary conspiracy.

It’s not just a TV phenomenon, unfortunately. Many real-life stories, no matter how trivial or significant, seem to go downhill.

Sam, one of my girlfriends, thought she was having the best day ever. She had to go to the Makati LTO office to retrieve her driver’s license, which was confiscated after she absentmindedly took an illegal U-turn while having a riveting chat with an interesting person (me).

As she was wearing her best corporate attire, accessorized with Oakley sunglasses on her head and a dazzling smile on her face, it was no surprise that she made a distinctive entrance. All eyes were on her and every one seemed to be giving her the red-carpet treatment.

“Miss, pasok na kayo dito! Papasukin nyo na si miss!”

“Saang commercial ka lumabas?”

“Kawawa ka naman. Mga pulis talaga, o! Tawagin nyo nga ang bisor!”

After much adulation and commiseration, someone finally retrieved her license. Much to Sam’s surprise, they didn’t give it to her straight away.

The person in charge stared at her license picture for what seemed like forever. “Nasaan ang authorization letter mo?”

A bit startled, Sam asked why she needed one when it was her own license.

“Sino ba itong nasa license?”

“Ako po!”

“Hindi,” the puzzled officer insisted, “kapatid mo ba ‘to?”

“Ako nga yan!”

A police officer then intervened: “Paki-check nga yan.”

Eventually, Sam’s license was passed from person to person, and each one painstakingly looked at the photo then back at the live Sam. Finally, after much discussion and careful consideration, the LTO gang reached a conclusion:

“Ahh. Hindi siya PHOTOGENIC!!!”

To Sam’s dismay, this proclamation was repeated thrice. Loudly. She sheepishly got her license back, dismounted from cloud nine, and dejectedly returned to her non-supermodel-ish office job.

Surprisingly though, I believe in good endings. I used to be a miserable, cynical person myself because . . . well maybe I just needed a hobby. I should’ve known though that I was going to snap out of that dark phase when I got to adulthood. Although I never admitted it, I probably had a strange inner upbeat person waiting to burst out (to the curious: no, that’s not my euphemism for pregnancy).

To prove that suspicion, I have to share one particularly regrettable adolescent experience reeking of (misdirected) positivism.

When I was 12 or 13, I had the chance to run for chairman of our grade school student council. We had three existing political parties, the names of which I have conveniently forgotten, to lessen the impact of the stupidity I will reveal shortly. In a flash of (totally absurd) inspiration, I proclaimed during one party meeting that I wanted to change our otherwise boring and meaningless party name. I wanted to be different – a real pacesetter and innovator! I wanted to infect people with my healthy, out-of-the-box attitude towards life and school government! So I changed our party name to: The Optimistic Party.

Let me pause a while to let you digest that and let the raucous laughter subside a bit.

I wish there were some excuse I could give for poor word choice, but honestly, I was too old to blame naïveté and too young to blame alcohol or a neurodegenerative disease. Looking back, my only culprit was a temporary departure from reality, making me believe that it was a clever move to change an established, nondescript party name. To add to my shame, I had to go to every classroom explaining the change of name and what the four-syllable adjective meant, as though my young listeners were interested in anything other than our homemade bookmark giveaways with optimistic bee drawings.

Needless to say, our party lost the election. On the bright side – and there’s always one – my family has a backup story to bring up when they feel the need to humiliate me. The point is it’s not beyond me to be a silver-lining kind of person (another important point I have to stress here is that nothing rhymes with “silver” or “orange”).

Let’s face it: sometimes having a perennially cheerful outlook is a waste of energy. You just don’t know when life decides to turn around and spit at your smiling face. Here’s the thing though: it’s ultimately better to be (dare I say it?) happy because – say it with me – life is just too (insert optional expletive here) short. It’s perfectly alright to laugh now and hope for brighter days ahead. Maybe, just maybe, the purple dinosaur with the psychotic frozen smile is on to something.

Oh and “purple” doesn’t rhyme with anything either. Just so you know.

Monday, April 11, 2005

i blame sesame street

i have many, many irrational fears. to list them all would be asking for trouble (translation: i do NOT want to have mysterious gifts sent to my house).

there is one particular fear, however, that i'd almost forgotten . . . if not for a local cooking show i saw this weekend. to give you an idea of what my fear is -- the cook on the show was kneading dough to make donuts (doughnuts, if you will) and put the dough lump in the middle of a greased basin . . .

(no, i'm not afraid of greased basins.)

do you know what happens to yeast-filled dough that has been left to rest?


i first saw this phenomenon on sesame street when i was around 7 years old, and i haven't been the same since. must i explain the dread and panic that filled my tiny heart when i realized that dough, an inanimate object, can triple in size if you don't touch it!?!

if i were any wiser in my younger years, i would've stopped watching sesame street completely. who cares if it taught me how to read even before i entered school? that show was the source of many other childhood fears (which, i now realize, are really just variations of one general fear):

-- a fear that inanimate objects would eat me. this is why i hated sitting on a particular white chair we used to have. it always looked like it was hungry.

-- a fear of cotton. i used to be afraid it would attack my finger. i think this fear can be traced to the talking cloud that used to appear in prairie dawn's plays.

-- a fear of trees. i particularly disliked the "this is your life" sequences with guy smiley: a talking tree usually made an appearance in those segments. i also blame "the wizard of oz" (or was that an outtake?), what with the moving trees and all. up until high school, i had nightmares about our backyard trees invading my room.

-- a fear of talking food. there was an old mayonnaise commercial i absolutely hated. it had a talking ham sandwich. interestingly, my dad hated it too. maybe fears are genetically encoded.

Monday, April 04, 2005

the giant pancake and friends

back when i was young and foolish (yesterday), i thought putting a child to sleep was easy. or maybe just a bit harder than opening a refrigerator with your elbow and just a bit easier than trying to unscrew a bottle with hands covered in lotion.

when nephew juancho was a baby, it was so much simpler. all i had to do was sway for a few minutes while cradling him and humming a few verses of a lullaby.

confession: i hummed because i did not know the lyrics of ANY lullaby. justification for my ignorance disguised as a senseless challenge: recite a full verse of your favorite lullaby. important note: "crusin'" by gwyneth and huey does not count.

but now that he's almost 3 years old, putting juancho to sleep has been a challenge, to say the least. one effective but highly stressful method is what i like to call the "don't give in to the child's demands until he cries himself to sleep in your arms", accidentally discovered last december, when i didn't allow juancho to watch a THIRD barney vcd. we made peace when he woke up from that nap.

recently however, i have been using a new method. i now put him to sleep by telling him a customized-on-the spot story.

to keep him interested, i ask juancho about which characters to include and what they're supposed to do in the story (which makes me wonder if he even needs me to tell the tale). for instance, i'd ask, "this is a story about a gingerbread boy named . . . ?" and juancho will think for a second and reply with "gingerbread boy!!!" (which he pronounces as "dinderbed boy")

my most recent creation was about a giant pancake ("puncake"), a cockroach ("cockoowoats"), charlie the pig, spike the dog and juancho. as my nephew wasn't particularly sleepy that night, that particular fable turned into a classic epic, which included all the moral lessons you can think of. due to the story's unprecedented length, i was able to incorporate segments about properly asking for help when you need it, rescuing friends in trouble, welcoming new friends into a clique, thanking God for blessings, sharing and -- my favorite story chapter -- eating when you are hungry.

the real challenge that night was fighting the urge to give the story an honest-to-goodness twist, just to show what would've happened in the real world. that is, a real world where food items and animals maintained healthy friendships.

to illustrate, here's the actual story:

"i'm hungry," said charlie the pig. "so am i," said spike the dog. juancho said he was going to make sandwiches for all of them, and asked each friend what he wanted to eat. "i'm going to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," said the cockroach.

. . . and so on. here's what would've really happened in a "real" alternate universe.

"i'm hungry," said charlie the pig. "so am i," said spike the dog. then everyone looked at the giant pancake and a wonderful realization slowly dawned on them . . .

the moral lessons of this blog entry:

1. do not let a 2-year-old choose your lead characters.

2. it is better to keep strange plots in your head than to make a nephew dysfunctional.

3. the longer the blog entry, the more important the real work you are trying to avoid.