Almost on break

I refer to the annual semestral break and not a personal one.

I sit at my desk with piles upon piles of papers surrounding me and I find it necessary now to just pause and sigh and write. All these students, eager to pass, eager to get a high grade, but neither understanding the text completely nor writing very well (“decent” is the best adjective I can give them) break my heart. I echo the perennial cry of teachers around the world, “WHERE HAVE I GONE WRONG?! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH THESE KIDS?!”

And so I sit and listen to Beyoncé screech Love on Top and Mumford and Sons mumble and rage about white blank pages and love.

Ah, love.

I would like to believe that my heart has grown bigger, that I’ve learned to be more accepting of people no matter how disagreeable they may be to me. My dislike of certain people remains, but… I’m trying to be more… well. I’m just trying to be nicer and kinder.

Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Be kind when you’re working.

Be kind when you’re on break (academic or personal).

Be kind to your family.

Be kind to your enemy.

Be kind to that poor person knocking on your car window, asking for some change.

Be kind all the time.

Adele says HELLO, and I do, too

My Twitter feed was abuzz this morning with people talking about how Adele’s newest single, “Hello” was deeply moving or beautiful or haunting.

I say, “Meh.”

While it channeled the usual sad and melancholy tone she’s known for, gone was the beautiful lyricism that added the oomph to her already troubling tunes. It just fell flat for me. Add to that the fact that I was expecting it to be a Lionel Richie cover when I heard the first few notes and words.

All in all, this song isn’t horrible, but it’s not her best…

YET.

I can’t wait to listen to what else she has.

Welcome back, Adele.

Shakespeare and I

Been reading Shakespeare recently to prepare for class, and I realized that it wasn’t Shakespeare himself I hated but his characters.

Especially the ones in his tragedies.

Take Romeo and Juliet. Just absolute stupidity running through their heads which got them and people they care for dead. This is why I’m having so much trouble planning for class: I hate the text.

And then you realize how brilliant Shakespeare is because you still feel passionately about his work hundreds of years later.

More movies

What If (Danielle Radcliffe)

Didn’t finish it.

Death At A Funeral

Skipped some (ahem. A lot of) parts.

Beauty In A Bottle

Last part put me in a semi-permanent state of cringe.

Overall, it was hilarious. 🙂

She’s Dating The Gangster

I was surprised. This was actually very good.

In defense of Lang Leav

Facebook is a haven for both the inspiring and infuriating. Today I saw the latter on my feed, and this particular one has spurred me to blog.
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   Obviously, this is a screencap of a conversation between two people. I paste it here because it was shared on Instagram and Facebook, which I take to mean it’s for sharing with people. However, since the accounts this was shared on are private, I shall not divulge the name of the person who said this nor of the one who posted it. I merely want to share the cause of my irk.
   One of the poster’s comments was this:
She’s “good” (in the sense that she reached the minimum requirements to be considered “good”) but the way that people are gaga over her work…..parang…people, she’s not THAT good! Her pieces are half-baked and are so….meh…. There are a LOT of better authors out there.
Parang si Cara Delevigne. Di naman ganoon talaga kaganda pero ang daming naloloka sa kanya. (Like Cara Delevigne. She’s not really that beautiful, but a lot go gaga over her.)
   I asked the poster what “the minimum requirements to be considered good” were, and the reply to me was the following:
I am not in a position to answer that since I do not find anything I like in her work And I was told that <college literary portfolio> people do not like her work
   I like Lang Leav’s work. You could say that I’m a fan, but in no way do I go crazy over her work. However, I do recognize the “merit” in her poetry. Her words are plain. Her rhyme and rhythm simple. Her metaphors and figurative language easily comprehensible. She is no Nick Joaquin, Vladimir Nabokov (have you read his love letters?), or Pablo Neruda, BUT her poetry is able to reach people, which is more than I can say for Shakespeare, who, for all his brilliance, easily alienates potential lovers of literature.
   Lang Leav’s work is great material for introducing people to the beauty of poetry. I accept that she’s not the be-all and end-all of poetry, but I believe it’s no reason to decry her work. My students have come to appreciate poetry because of her work, and they’ve opened up to the possibility of more complex literature because they weren’t immediately turned off.
   THIS, my dear friends, is why I will always defend Lang Leav.
//edit
Here are two other opinions on Lang Leav, her work, and of “accessible literature.”

[Reflections] Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

Can it truly be possible that there are some things older than the universe that live among us? That interact with us? That manipulate us? It’s hard to fathom such things, especially when we’re all grown up and taught in our Science classes that there’s no such thing as ghosts or God or fairies, and that it’s all in our heads. Still, they fascinate me because it makes me think not just of what ifs but also of why can’t it be true and why can’t it be me?

Neil Gaiman always does that with his novels. Whenever I read his stories, it’s never a question of having to suspend disbelief because I always feel his stories to be true (“Other People” in Fragile Things gave me nightmares because I believed it). While I was reading his latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it wasn’t like I could just picture in my head what was happening, it felt like I was there, too. I’m sure other bibliophiles can relate.

I loved this book. It was exciting, mysterious, fascinating, and all other types of adjectives exulting the work of Neil Gaiman. I’ll let other professional book reviewers talk about this work in detail. My single problem is how the kid narrator managed to sneak out of the house that first time to get to the end of the lane. HE WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD. The way it was written, it felt like it was an older kid running away, NOT a seven year old boy. That’s like a grade 1 or 2 boy. That part I could not wrap my head around. It just seemed way too improbable.

Then again, desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

On a deeper level, the book made me think about the antagonist, the dirty canvas creature that was at least older than our world (if I recall correctly) and believes it is making people happy by giving them money (it was the HOW that was problematic). The main characters said that it was simply doing what it was in its nature to do, and I thought, “Does that make it inherently a bad creature?” I suppose it was the same as thinking all sharks are evil simply because they have been known to eat humans when they’re basically just doing their thing.

When the shark metaphor entered my head, I began to pity the creature. It was stubborn at first, but it became scared, and when it got scared it began to do something worse. I could feel its fear. It wasn’t a matter of being sent to the principal’s office, nothing that mundane of course. It was scared for its own life, and it was being punished for something it was in its nature to do and for being afraid.

Perhaps the justification in the punishment is that the creature wasn’t an ignorant animal; it was a creature capable of thought and speech and emotions and making sound decisions. Unfortunately, the one decision it made wasn’t acceptable, and hence it was to be punished.

Again a metaphor entered my head. It reminded me of us humans. When we are afraid or when we panic, we tend to forget to be rational and go with our emotions, making decisions that are usually more harmful than helpful. It is important, then, to not let our emotions run the course of our lives. We can’t let ourselves get manipulated. We are the ones who should run our own lives to make sure that balance is achieved. Yin and yang. Heart and mind. Body and soul. Otherwise, we’d get eaten alive.

 

A-Z Challenge: Zeus

For the most powerful god in Greek mythology, you’d think Zeus would be invincible. The truth, though, is that his one weakness is the same weakness of every common man: a beautiful woman. I wonder what that says about him, or of the common man?

Zeus is my least favorite god. He always seems so petty and eternally horny in stories, and it gets old quick. It’s very refreshing then to see him in movies as this seemingly wise old man burdened with saving mankind. Well, I’ll give him that; he does seem to care deeply for humans, provided, of course that we don’t offend him.

Gonna go slightly off course here and share with you this little anecdote. One time in college my friends got into a conversation about what they’d name their first-born boy. They threw around names such as Agamemnon and Achilles, but I don’t know why they all suddenly settled for ZEUS as a second or maybe even third name (like Emmanuel Zeus or Robert James Zeus). I think they were high or something. What the hell, right? Why name your kid after the god of womanizers? Are you dooming your kid to a lifetime of power but of a disreputable one? I remember hearing about this “deal” much later on and promptly told them I was lucky I was never around to agree to such a thing. You know what they did? They all pretty much screamed at me, claiming I was there and that I agreed, too.

As if.

Thankfully, the friend who gave birth first in our circle of friends broke the “pact” and named her son something much better. The rest of us, not to mention our first born sons, have been saved. 🙂