Saturday, December 17, 2005
Too, you can't expect to teach the use of software in a public venue (like a school whose reputation of respectability you want to establish) without having copies of said software and their respective licenses. I've tried to bring this point across lots of times to said acquaintance but I've always been ignored. This time I got my point across by figuratively slapping him in the face with the hard facts in the middle of a meeting. He was one of the parties looking to broker a deal and I was the software expert he wanted to bring in to wow the other party.
Wow them I did, but finally getting him to understand the concept of paying through the nose for network licenses was the more satisfying endeavor. He's tried to set up a software training school before with other people and all of them backed out because he simply would not provide the necessary capital for software licenses.
The Japanese have a concept wrapped up in a little word called chan to. Roughly translated it means proper, regular, correct. If my acquaintance wants to set up a school, he' s gotta be chan to when he goes about it. (The way I've tried to be chan to in my courtships).
In related news, a member of my design team quit on me recently. We could not provide him with cash up front for the demo samples we were making for our clients. Likely his gut told him "sweatshop" and he bolted. I'm almost beginning to believe his gut, the way our go-between and our client have been acting. Nevertheless I am in this boat and I am going to have to row and steer with all my might to get the job done (isshokenmei, dekiru dake).
C'est la vie.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Nihongo No Ryoku Shiken
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is the Japanese government’s answer to the clamor for a single Japanese Language Proficiency Standard that everyone can respect and more or less be happy with. It’s given once a year by the Japan Foundation and its counterparts worldwide.
The idea is that you can believably slap someone silly with your certificate and he will be wowed by how well-versed you are in the language regardless of the number of hours worth of Japanese language training you claim to have taken. Since the test is being administered by the Japanese, you can bet that incidences of test taking weirdness are pretty much nil.
They even smell you cheating and you’re out the door, no questions asked. The only way one is likely to ace this test is if one actually studies. This is a refreshing development, considering the horse trading and petty wars… an odious reminder of how much education on the
DexElsisI am happy to report that based on the mock-tests I’ve been taking so far, I have the ability to pass my upcoming Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The pertinent question is how high I can push my score. Most folks who take the JLPT are pretty satisfied getting the minimum 240 points required to pass the bleeding thing. I’m not. My best scores have always lived in the 320+ range. I’m hoping I can push into the 350+ range before my review is over.
That is, if I don’t die of stress-induced asthmatic bronchitis first.
Farewell to “Mader”
I took a few minutes away from work to see my very special friend “Mader” Jo, ang Arnisadora sa Breakwater. She’s leaving for the US of A this week and I just had to wish her all the best. I’m praying Uncle Sam treats her better than he treated me, because Jo deserves all the opportunities living on the
Let’s face it—there ain’t much work for the media guy here. And what’s around usually subjects the poor employee to the health-destroying conditions of… you know what it’s like if the common thread in many of my friends’ employment horror stories is to be believed.
“Hawk, Chew”I guess it was a good thing I stepped outside of the office too—as I am again on the verge of burnout. Sleeping late; working early for long hours. I oughta be in bed.
This illness has not in any way affected my appetite but I am having the most raggedy throat since I came back from
You don’t get it? Okay, try saying it as if you’ve got something in your throat.
Haaaaaaaaawwwkkkh … Cheeeewwww!
Then give yourself permission to gag.
This is one of those times that I’m feeling my ex-betrothed’s utter absence. Whenever either of us fell ill we always had a bottle of Gatorade handy to treat the stricken partner’s dehydration. I would lovingly massage the parts of her anatomy that ached. I would shower her with kisses, buy her meds and make her soup.
She took the more mannish road—actually getting me tested at a lab when absolutely nobody in my immediate family would believe that something was very, very wrong with me. I remember I nearly died of typhoid.
Honey’s not here now. Likely someone else is calling her that. I am very thankful for my friends—new, old and developing— because I still get the customary “Get well soon, Dexter.”
Love Song for No One
One of my more minor inconveniences is that I have to get used to being single again. It’s been a rocky three or so months— I’ve said on various occasions that should Anna do a 180 and ask to get back with me, that I would take her back, no questions asked.
Today, the situation is different. I’m not in high school or college any more. I can’t afford to throw everything to the wind and risk everything to have what we had.
I don’t want to rush things and make high stakes gambles anymore. Too many people depending on me. And I don’t want to exclude the possibility that there may be someone else on my horizon.
I have time. I just hope no one is hurt by the actions I take.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Filjaps Language & Technology Inc. would like very much to congratulate its first batch of Criminology Board Exam Passers. These kids took the intensive Filjaps Criminology Review Course and managed by dint of Filjaps-assisted hard work to wrest from the Professional Regulations Commission the recognition they deserve.
The Filjaps Criminologists: Ge-Ar Cagaoan, Rolly Hadloc, James Marteja, Wilson Tan Jr., Isidra Rosas, Rene Montecalvo and Anthony Rieza.
Everyone, take a bow!
Monday, October 24, 2005
I taught my first Japanese class last Saturday. It wasn't bad. Coulda been better, but you can hardly go wrong with a few students to pester you with grammatical questions that sound so... so... legal. All that talk of rules vs. custom vs. precedent.
The activity was draining, though the psychic return was worth the financial vacuum I experience regularly as a result of taking this job. Being the general manager (roughly buchou 部長 ) who functionally manages the English Review, Nihongo and Computer "departments" of the company (kaisha 会社 ) is not all it's cracked up to be, especially if the company is only a few months old.
I was also at the Philippine International Convention Center recently (recently is: saikin 最近 ). What was up? An exhibit of the best of Philippine crafts and trade goods. I managed to look at jewels, handbags, religious items and I do have to say our skilled laborers have come a long way since attempting to make poor knockoffs of foreign goods.
So what has this to do with the Japanese (Nihonjin)? Nothing I am at liberty to discuss. Except to say that my Mom would have liked to buy the stuff on exhibit, and that I would have too, especially the new takes on Catholic statuary. Innovative use of material, interesting designs. Woulda made great Christmas gifts for future clients and business partners.
Now, I'm prepping for my ongoing Jap classes-- the ones I'll teach and the ones I'm still taking.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Yes you're shivering. You should. Losing Anna's driven me to this pass. It's eaten into my work, affected my better judgement and caused me stomach- and muscle pains and attacks of stress-induced diarrhea the likes of which I have rarely felt. Having responsibilities I cannot shirk plus seeing Japan and its indigenous womanity have helped ease the symptoms of losing the love of my life to the vagaries of evolutionary biology. But not by much. Seeing the young women in Kofu, Sendai and Akihabara actually hurt after the inducing in me the initial pleasures associated with critiquing female eye candy.
Yes, feminists, I am too a sexist pig who should be shot. One of your kind left me because I don't fit your criteria of provider-life partner despite (or maybe because of) all my efforts to be the New Sensitive Caring (therefore wimpy and pussy-whipped) Man. So please cut me a little slack for feeling the requisite pain and lashing out.
Check back with me and I'll let you know if I've put myself on sale on the mass market for losers who can't find the time or the energy to actually bother to meet a live human being and get himself a date. Or not.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
-the weather in Sendai
-the scenery along the highways criss-crossing the middle and southern parts of Honshu
-the gas station attendant on the long road between Tokyo and Sendai
-the receptionist at the Shinjuku branch of the Toyoko Inn.
-the visually impaired girl eating at Jonathan's family restaurant in Kofu
-the waitresses at that sushi place in Kofu.
Sadly most of the women-- the younger ones especially-- are dolls. And I don't want to grow old with one.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
How is it that I let them railroad me into something I'm not equipped to handle? No choice but to swim in it now.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Don't do this to me. Please, please, please not again. Not on the heels of my friend's mother's death. Not on the heels of everything that's just happened. Please don't make me an object of misplaced pity.
If that's what you want, you have to tell me to my face. I deserve that much.
A footnote: I woke up at 2am the other day, your name, your presence ringing in my head. What happened to you around that time?
Friday, September 09, 2005
chiharu [千春]-it may mean a thousand Springs (the season, not the bubbly body of water)
my more astute readers will immediately figure out what these words have in common, and why I likely put them up here. Enjoy!
Thursday, September 01, 2005
I was in the middle of a lesson with my Korean student, Tom. We'd leaned closer to each other across the table to facilitate communication over the din of the post-post-dinner crowd: students, mainly, hiding in the nearest 24-hour fast food joint for a semblance of peaceful study over a hot meal. Neither of us noticed Gray Shirt Perp slipping his hand under the table, onto the chair next to Tom. Gray Shirt Perp's hand closed over Tom's celphone and that was all she wrote. Gray Shirt Perp was able to abscond with another celphone which he was bound to sell to support his drug habit or his fetish for American brand name apparel.
The only person who did notice Gray Shirt Perp was an old lady who was cowed into silence by Perp's fierce gaze. I don't completely blame her, but she could have shouted and Tom and I could have subdued the creep or at least prevented the celphone theft.
We chased Perp's shadow futilely for a few minuets, returning to McDonald's to talk to the manager about yet another crime happening under their collective noses. Old lady couldn't finger Gray Perp, though I had a feeling he may have lingered just outside the MacDonald's after passing the ill-gotten phone to a confederate.
I did a surprising thing-- I prayed with Tom. I prayed for peace for him, the replacement of his phone with something better. I was tempted to pray for the speedy growth of painful and perennial hemorrhoids on Gray Perp's dyolog ass, but somehow I didn't.
We ended the class and natch, I didn't ask Tom to pay me anything-- his wallet would be feeling the loss of his phone soon enough. The same way my wallet was feeling the loss of my projected income.
Thanks a lot, Perp. I hope we meet again in a year. I hope you try something stupid. I hope I'm there to place you under citizen's arrest.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Crazy 88 Headquarters
August 26 2005
Dear Ms Yubari,
You're going to stay young forever and I'm not. So please pardon my being forward. If you don't feel like literally spilling my guts over strong drink, we could go out. It would do us both some good. It will take you away from the tedium of killing everything that isn't O-Ren or that bald guy you both hang out with. Too, I believe that the proper type of medication can help you quell certain episodes that involve slashing someone's belly open.
Underneath the hair and the psychoses and the school uniform, I am sure you are a wonderful, beautiful person. I would like to get to know you without the knives, whips and chains (though those can come later, after we've gotten to know each other very very well).
I have admired you for your physical beauty, your fighting skills and that loyalty to O-Ren that some of your male subordinates wish you'd lavish on them.
If it helps you make up your mind about me, I am learning Japanese as well as the ins and outs of dealing with people in black suits. I love Japanese food and I would love the opportunity of exploring ...something with you.
You can take your time, as I've suddenly got a lot of it on my hands. As with one other person, I can wait for your reply. Though not forever.
I look forward to your affirmative response.
With much admiration,
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
"Big News From The Healthcare Industry!!
F******** G***** S*********
Current Price $0.15
A company with hot new identity solution products and licenses with over 40 current governmental and non-governmental contracts in negotiations.
...Watch this One to Trade!"
The Evil Marketing Man has struck again.
I could either feel flattered that my page has garnered so much notice that people are posting ads in my comment field without so much as a damned "by your leave." Then again, I guess I could feel taken advantage of, as this guy could have just left his comments here as part of a "blanket" strategy: schlep every comment field on every blog he can get his hands on.
I want to tell that enterprising person (he knows who he is) this:
PLEASE. I don't care how good your product, company or stock is, point of the matter is neither Blogger nor Dexter Lira is getting money or desired recognition from your blatant attempt at pushing your own agenda on MY space.
You could have found my email address by googling my other blogs and told me how good what your selling is. I would have likely put in a good word by treading on the blurry line between "Hey, this is good news" and "Hey, I'm conducting a marketing blitzkrieg."
And I don't particularly care that you hide behind your own "This is my opinion" clause. Clever, but I know bull when I smell it.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Like now. I should be making the writeups or the flyers. でも、ぼくは ブログを書いています。 I can't even bring myself to write something edifying now: my bodega blog has been crying out to me for a decent update. I could be doing other things, like fine-tuning my Tai Chi, studying for the resumption of my Nihongo classes tomorrow. I hope I can turn this around in an hour or so before I waste the remaining hours of my working Sunday.
Yes, I'm at the office on a Sunday. Which is probably why I don't want to work. This is bad. Gotta sign off--
I've still got work to do.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
"Asia Argento is also the author of a number of short stories published in such prestigious magazines as Dynamo, L'Espresso, Sette, Village and Max. Her first novel, I Love You Kirk, was published by Frassinelli Editrice in October 1999."
Asia Argento had become somewhat significant to Dex as artist. Nothing personal, of course. Few of my friends would get the Asia Argento references; I'm snickering as I type this.
But if I were my old self, I'd be crying too.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
僕はマネジャーでわない。今日、清水さんと橋本さんは 僕の会社に来た。僕は不意だった。At least, 僕は 橋本さんの欲しくことを 習った。あの方は 僕に CADイラストサムプルを 見たから。従ってそう、私とフィルジャプスのCADスタフ（マニーさ んと 多分ルスさ ん）を会議する。いつ、僕は分からない。
Anyway, 来週僕は プロジェクトの作ることを 終わって、 コンピューター ２ を ネトワークをします。
Everybody seems to be pushing his own agenda and for some asinine reason, I'm the guy who gets pushed around. Granted that in a perfect world, my agenda would probably involve lots of sleep, martial arts demos and futile job hunting, maybe dreaming of landing a gig (martial arts, visual arts, teaching, singing, theater) somewhere-- hardly lucrative. But that's supposed to be my damned prerogative.
But no, everything is also my fault, somehow. And any ulcer-producing sitch I'm in is of my own making, no matter how much I may feel that the Powers that Be decided, on a drunken whim, to gang-rape me. I am being slowly forced into courses of action predetermined by someone else. I can't just up and leave as too many eggs have been put in the basket that is Dex.
And I can't bleeding talk about this any more than I already have, except to say: when is Dex going to get his chance to simply do something he loves in peace without courting messy familial and economic consequences?
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Your Birthdate: February 1
Your birthday suggests that are executive ability and leadership qualities in your makeup.
A birthday on day 1 of any month gives a measure of will power and self-confidence, and very often a rather original approach.
This 1 energy may diminish your ability and desire to handle details, preferring instead to paint with a broad brush.
You may be sensitive, but your feelings stay rather repressed.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Looking back as I was assaulted by images of singing, dancing potatoes and potato products, I remember exactly why I stopped watching Japanese channels on local cable six or seven years ago.
The Japanese have a... preoccupation with all things cute. The, uh, mania is so pervasive and so cloying and over-the-top that it borders on the pathological. Consider the pleasing (yet disturbing) preoccupation with youth, short skirts and sailor suits. Consider too that until Utada Hikaru came along and broke the mold in a big way, women singers tended to strangle themselves trying to turn their make their voices child-like. (This is not to say that there weren't singers with brassy or smoky voices, but that preoccupation with wanting to be cute often kept those singers from well-deserved audiences and accolades.) Too, the Japanese tended to burn through their pop idols quickly, frequently discarding yesterday's idol for the new face and voice ingenue.
I have visions of ex idols scrabbling for scraps of fame, vainly trying to hold on to their youthful good looks and high-pitched voicesagainst the inexorable march of time. Brrr.
Thankfully the women do tend to get over it (as evidenced by the very competent female staff at the Jap Language school I study in). Granted also that I was watching a kiddie show when my senses were assaulted by the potato song. But the lady host's brand of cuteness -- even the male hosts were trying to speak in piping tones when they sure as hell didn't have to-- have the words fake and soon-to-be-desperate written all over it.
I got sick of all the blasted sugar-substitute cuteness six or seven years ago and I'm still sick of all the blasted sugar-substitute cuteness now.
I'm all for cuteness when it comes naturally. And one doesn't have to speak in piping fake-kiddie tones to be adorable. But there comes a time when you have to relegate oozing cuteness to someone else-- preferably someone under 18. Your own "cuteness" -- a function of your innate and developed beauty will come out of its own accord without being forced. It will likely be treasured all the more.
Some time before my Nihongo Basic 3 classes ended, the tech boys at the Jap language school had set up a teevee at the reception desk. It was tuned perpetually to NHK, as if some Japanimation fanboy set the channel with the only working remote and proceeded to break it.
I decided to take advantage of the situation and spend my idle time watching and listening to the idiot box to better pick up Japanese. It was, in theory, a good plan with a good fringe benefit: I got to see what
It was going well, too. Until--I was watching a kiddie show --the girl host I was appreciating opened her mouth and proceeded to sing about the virtue of potatoes. The song wasn't bad; it was written and arranged well, in fact. But it was insidious. It snared you with its catchy tune and insinuated itself between the folds of your brain the way the grease from a bag of french fries oozes permanently into cheap paper plates.Today, weeks removed from the original airing, I'm cursed with instant, insistent, and near-permanent recall. Mention "potatoes" and the song plays in my head again and again and again and again and...
Eigo （英語）n. English (the language)
Firipingo （フィリピン語）n. Filipino (the language).
jagaimo （じゃがいも）n. potato
Thursday, August 04, 2005
I've had to move furniture around the house because I simply couldn't work there properly. No doubt, I'm bound to ruffle some feathers-- always the trouble when you're living with the folks-- but this is going to be worth it. My home workspace actually looks better and I can literally and figuratively breathe with all the space I've managed to free up.
I'm waiting for one of the foreign partners today. He'll be arriving sometime after lunch, (which means that could be any time between 12:01 and 4:00 pm.). I won't have to talk to him alone, though, as er, mom's original foreign partner has decied he'll show up and fill my language gaps. Some translator I'm turning out to be...
In preparation for their arrival, I've decided to clean up a bit. There were some shortcuts to some pc games that I've had to bury. I'm also throwing out the old bulletin board (paper on paper, stuck on the wall) and slap on a decent-looking felt surface over some decent board which I will then slap on the wall, with tape and some tacks.
Among other things.
Something good will come out of this. It must.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Thank God the knife was dull and made of wood. Thank God the guy with the wooden knife pointed at my groin was Sifu Russel. Thank God this was just a martial arts demo.
The audience had gasped, sensing that this wasn't your standard demo drill. And in spite of my own two seconds of helpless panic-- I totally did not expect him to scoop under my leg and lock me down, groin exposed to a knife-- I loved it.
Half the fun of a martial arts demo is watching the light bulbs flash over the audience's heads, regardless of who was playing the martial arts hero or the goon who was going to be very sorry he messed with the wrong guy.
Friday, July 22, 2005
A decade or so ago some common friends --a group of twelve or so uniquely talented individuals-- decided to pool their artistic strengths together and make a name for themselves as a Power in the commissioned art business. For a few short months they established Camelot. They were an art commune/tradesmen's guild/peripatetic philosophical society all rolled into one package way cool for its time and place.
"But why," you ask, "have I not heard of them?"
Like Camelot, the Power imploded, taking with it carefully nurtured friendships that should have been immune to poverty amid plenty and well-meaning neglect. The founders of that new Camelot were young and naiive, professing faith in contracts sealed with a smile and a handshake. Naturally, they could not have succeeded financially.
Camelot's knights broke under pressure from their angry parents, who railed against the injustices done by friends to friends. They broke under the pressure of academics-- which they had neglected on the off-chance that their mutual quest would bear lucrative fruit. They broke under the pressure of their own infighting as-- egged on by parents, failure, poverty and broken promises-- friend turned against friend. Heroically, they tried to regroup and recoup their losses but with Camelot's knights leaving the order one by one, there was nothing they could do to stop the end from happening.
When the dust settled, there were no more knights. Just tired souls wary of taking risks and trusting people.
Soredewa, kyameroto no menbaa wa iro iro tokoro ni itte, oboenai kuni ni oboenai michi wo aruita.
What's the moral lesson here? Aside from "always have an ironclad contract" it's never go into business with friends.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
The students already know some of the stuff you're talking about, so they get bored easily with tests that involve the very basics of the language. Trouble is, that's where they may need fine tuning. Too, as a teacher you need to be seven steps ahead of your study group. You've got to be able to anticipate every question they'll likely throw your way.
Now, imagine that you have to brush up on your English simultaneously with a foreign language that:
1. follows a basic sentence pattern that's not normally used in English;
2. makes use of "post"-positions, (instead of prepositions) and particles (instead of articles) ;
3. conjugates past tense verbs as if they were adjectives;
4. treats the conjugation of present- and future tense verbs in practically the same way
I need a tylenol.
Friday, July 01, 2005
But I was wrong to yell. And I'm very, very sorry.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
It’s like old times. People have been trying to reach me, and as usual, I have been nigh-impossible to find. There isn’t too much backlash, because everyone knows by now that I’ve “donated” my cell phone, laptop and CD burner to “the needy.”
I kind of like being unplugged and hard to find.
It is good to have someone sweat a little while looking for me every now and then. It strokes the ego; makes me feel wanted. I tend to get lost in the estimation of my friends amidst the routines and concerns of their existences.
I know, it’s shallow, but allow a thirty-year-old his little foibles.
Too, people are usually not looking for the simple pleasure of my company. While I’m almost always available to lend a helping hand, the lending itself is almost always inconvenient. I get in trouble with my job, my family, my girlfriend— even as I race off on my invisible steed to right the very visible wrongs the world has –rightly or no— inflicted on my friends.
There are days when I almost no longer care that a friend’s love life is being flushed down the toilet, or that his parents are being anal and controlling. This kind of counseling I’ve been doing since college and I have long since recognized a need for a welcome respite. “Physician, heal thyself!” has often silently been thrown in my face. It’s about time I took that advice.
Disclaimer: I’ve been known to look people up to pester them for favors. But I’ve been trying my best to cut down on asking for them. Sometimes, I no longer bother. My friends are living their own lives, battling their own ogres and scaling their own prince/ss towers. The very act of taking up their time only adds unnecessary weight to their current burdens.
Being unconnected to the outside world allows me to focus on the stuff I’d normally be neglecting. When was the last time I’d been cozy with Honey? Yes, you get a gold star— just in the last couple of days when absolutely no one could reach me via cell phone, email or that dratted Yahoo Messenger.
Still, I don’t relish being unplugged for longer than a glorious month of peace, quiet and uninterrupted PC gaming. I will soon enough have to discharge my obligations to my colleagues and friends—who will no doubt continually wonder where I am or what I am about.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
I live in a place where my socks are almost always mismatched; where the stuff in your cabinet isn't yours because someone else higher up on the food chain has decided that you don't need the extra space; where two consenting adults can't live together without wearing the scarlet letter unless they grease enough palms-- money is apparently better than Tide at getting rid of dirt.
Down here-- the operative word is Purgatory-- equipment always breaks down because people think they can plug just one more appliance into a wall socket already groaning under the demands of an overloaded electrical system. They don't know the damage they're causing and they sure as hell don't give half a damn until said appliance breaks down or the fuses blow up. I'm the guy who has to fix the mess they made over my strenuous but stifled objections and they have the gall to ask me why I didn't give them a lesson in the care of electrical systems.
When anyone here shows a modicum of talent or initiative, he is run ragged by people who expect him to know everything and solve their problems NOW, never mind that he has his own problems to fix and his own life to lead. If he hasn't already lost half his native energy to entropy, he will the be forced to break the Third Law of Thermodynamics (a first in Physics!), as critics and vultures and social vampires will inevitably reduce him to a psychic state of Absolute Zero. After which he either expires or becomes another member of the soulless working dead who haunt the private workplace, the government office and pretty much every place where humanity gets a foothold.
In the place where I live, 1+1 is always 3 or any other number someone higher on the food chain wants it to be, damn the real number system, the laws of motion and damn the torpedoes... which, by the way, whoopsie, I will have to take for the team.
I don't want to live like this. I want a clean pair of matching socks.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Attention Lawyers: I am not in love with my Japanese Japanese language teacher. Only with the way she writes. Hers is a special magic that makes itself known when she holds the brush. She takes a mental deep breath and plunges into the task of traditional Sino-Nipponese calligraphy, and those characters that thwart our inexperienced hands come to dynamic, sinuous, structured life. When she's done with a character, everyone wants to hang it on some wall somewhere, a testament to a teacher's skill-- and if you looked for the right clues, her inner life.
I'm the best Kanji guy my class has. I keep telling Arjayne-chan it's only because I've been around longer, and poked my nose into affairs she and our classmates haven't. Apparently, I haven't been poking hard enough. My writing struggles under the weight of my brush and my force of will. My own mental deep breath is often literal and quite ragged. My hands shake. I still have trouble taming those vertical strokes.
I'll get to where Katayama-Sensei is. I must.
Monday, June 13, 2005
I'm not going to join my countrymen in lumping gay guys exclusively in the category of "sexual predators given to pederasty." That category isn't exclusive: a number of straight guys also indulge in sexual predation and prefer hebephilial relationships. I can state categorically that none of my gay friends indulge in that kind of behavior. I can point to a good number of them who put straight guys to shame in matters like loyalty to their partners, devotion to their work and their usually anti-gay families, their incomes. If what defines a man are his word, his ability to protect and provide for himself and the people he loves, then I am a lot less of a man than they are.
denwabangou n. phone number (et. from denwa, telephone + ban, number)
Asahiko n. "Child of the Morning Sun" (et. usually a given name; from asa, morning + hi, sun + ko child)
Some of you out there will already be aware that I am taking Japanese language classes. They've gotten a damn sight harder since I set foot in my Basic Two class. I used to be at the top of my Basic One class because I was the only guy in the room who had the time to really study, and even then I'd had prior exposure to the language thanks to nth generation pirated subtitled anime. I've fallen low since then, partly because I haven't had the time or the energy to study properly. And it's a damn shame; at least no one has really dethroned me as my class's resident Kanji scribe. It's to be expected too, I guess, because my Basic Two class is composed of the topnotchers from the other Basic One classes.
Arjayne-chan has consistently topped the exams. Running a close second is Lenin-san, a Caviteño with a Visayan accent who I've come to grudgingly respect: you can't question this guy's initiative and his drive. With resident topnotcher Arnold-san (also from Cavite) taken out of the running by family and work concerns, Lenin would top the class if he wasn't already saddled with his job and his accent. Me, I'm in a race to keep my head over perilous waters along with everyone else. These are times I wish I hadn't left my small pond for the minor lake. When I feel strung out, spread like too little butter on too much bread, I have to remind myself that I'm only in competition with me.
Asahiko-chan has by this time taken her flight to Japan with her dad and the Card Captor Sakura drawings she commissioned (for free), and maybe my Kanji workbook and a month's worth of my Kanji assignments for Jap class (she'll need it). I wish her all the best. Let me state that I am, yes, concerned about how she'll adjust to life in Japan. My teacher says kids are bullied there, especially if they can't speak the language.
Friday, June 03, 2005
The shocker is that the performances I and my classmates gave were covered by one of the local channels. (They'd done that before at the last Cultural Activity but there seemed to be no reason for a repeat covereage. ) I basically sang, danced and embarrassed myself on national tv.
We were trying to get Asahiko-chan (the girl is 11, talented but shy) to dance a little for her song number. So we did all sorts of funny dances while she sang to take her mind off the pressure of an avidly expectant audience. The camera just had to swing my way just when a friend and I were channeling Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. Asa-chan smiled and danced a bit. She didn't win the singing contest though (no good choreography). But, I 'm grateful for small victories.
I had found out a week ago that my teacher wasn't kidding when he said I should accompany Maria-san's singing with a Tai Chi interpretative dance. So I was more or less ready when I did. I didn't fudge the forms too much... I hope. I am almost afraid of watching the video.
Finally, I sang myself. Not too badly, given the praise I got from many in the audience. Normally reticent Japanese faculty and staff actually stopped to say something good about my performance. I'm either that good or they're THAT polite.
Maybe I shoulda been an entertainer.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I wish I could say it was because the profile and ad inserts were so good they blew me away. They aren't. Given access to more money than Mom will want to release for design collaterals, any of our local cut-rate ad and design guys could do them better. My brief stints freelancing for Hinge and with Bald Man Media have made print layout flaws and no-nos easier for me to spot, and I have to be grateful to Danice, Russel and DarDar for that (even if I'll probably never work with them again thanks to the comlications arising from my familial duties).
I was speechless because I was shocked at my own inability to think outside the box concerning the same protfolio, which I was tasked in part to design. I could have done the same thing better on a really bad day. I'm asking myself just what the hell happened and the answers are coming up as I type.
1. In the first place, I didn't want to do it. (My problem: I'm a know-it-all maverick) I viewed the whole project as an onerous half-baked task handed down to me by a many-headed boss whose heads kept giving me conflicting instructions through a tactless intermediary because they couldn't agree on exactly what they wanted. (Company's problem: Vision and Goals.)
2. It was bad enough that the company bigwigs couldn't pinpoint exactly what they wanted. But that damned language barrier made things worse. (Common problem: Language) By the time instructions filtered down to me, they were... screwy.
I wound up designing a half-assed three-page pamphlet (not a portfolio) that depended on a lot of Freehand-generated gradients for its look.
This is exactly why I'm focusing on learning as many foreign languages as it'll take to hurdle the damned language barrier as fast as I can.
The company cannot, to be slightly sacrilageous, give birth to the Financial Savior if it can't make its way to Bethlehem without lurching drunkenly off course.
3. I was limited by my... I'm calling it my "Third World View" for lack of any better label. I cannot think out of everyone else's "box" because my own conceptual box was too limited by third world economics. All my life I've specialized in stopgaps, improvising solutions to publishing problems because I've never had the right tools, materials and training. (Many of the people I know in design picked up their software expertise on the fly.)
While it's great at showing up know-it-all foreigners who think they can blithely operate in any environment, it is fatal for me. I can't afford to be a know-it-all Third World rustic who postures vainly on the strength of his limited knowledge (which costs money, but that's another journal entry).
Maybe there is something to participating in the Great Filipino Diaspora. It's just too bad I'm too old to get on the bandwagon.
Anyway, I need to restructure my own goals given that the number of my optimal productive years are, to use a kind word, dwindling.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Actually, there are two very cute fourteen-year-olds in my Japanese language class (Watakushi no Nihongo no kurasu ni totemo kawaii juuyonsai no onna no ko ga imasu.*) and they have done much to add to my interest in the class itself. My own questionable adult status forces me to interact with people closer to my chronological age. I thus find it refreshing to be the butt of a fourteen-year-old’s in-class jokes.
Asahiko-chan pinches hard, and that’s how you tell that she’s accepted your presence in her personal universe as unthreatening. She also calls you kuya-- or ate depending on your gender-- and asks you for grammatical help when sensei isn’t looking. Asahiko’s father is Japanese; apparently, he is flying his family to Japan. The Japanese language class is just some way of giving Asahiko something to do for the summer while her visa gets processed. I haven’t asked her if she really wants to go: while I have given some thought to the eventual difficulties of her adjustment to life in Japan, the question is moot.
I am resolved to give her something before she goes to Japan. She likes Card Captor Sakura, so maybe a drawing will do nicely.
I am interested in Arjane-chan primarily because of her eyes and the structure of her face. I like her nose, even if I normally find noses like hers protruding a little too far. I also like her spunk (she wants to work abroad, and is quite willing to forgo boys to do so) though I privately wish she would stay in the country to help fix the mess her parents’ parents’ generation helped make of it. Her drive and her willingness to undergo the inconvenience of night classes put me to shame. I hope with all my heart that she slips under the collective radar of every screwed-up schoolboy looking for love or a good lay. She doesn’t need the kind of crap I used to put girls through in my younger days.
I’ve never been a father; with my way of screwing up important deals, I wouldn’t want to be one. But I’ve always known that in a perfect world, I’d be honored to realize the desire to raise children-- daughters, preferably. I’m also cursed with having a teaching aptitude and absolutely no credentials. My inner child longs for playmates old and new. As much as I love kids my age, my heart will always hold a special place for children.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Yes folks, Dex the Flake has struck again. The long and short of my latest gaffe is that people were depending on me and I let them down in a big way.
In the old days, I would have formally concluded my business with them. Then I would have walked away, never to trouble them again. In the same vein, if a friend had let me down --say on matters of money-- I would still have consorted with him, but I would never rely on him on anything to do with money again. If a friend stabbed me in the back, I would simply never be seen with him again-- I'd find another place to haunt, maybe.
But what worked so well with various acquaintances isn't going to work so well here. There are only so many places a man can disappear to, only so many times a man can flush his history down the toilet before he gets too tired to move away or start over. I have too much riding on the more-or-less recent friendships I've made to just drop everything and let "bygones be bygones." There is a world of wealth left for me to learn from the people I've betrayed and to look for new teachers would set my progress back by years if not defeat the purpose of my self-development.
I cannot even stay comfortably in the retreat house of madness or the watershed of self-pity. There is just too much to do and too damned little time to do it in.
I'm sick of saying I'm sorry. They deserve better from me. But here I am, at it again.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Just when it seemed that he was finally going to come away with his precious college parchment, he finds out that there was another gaffe. The administration people told him he had enough units to graduate. He did the stupid thing and trusted them, thinking maybe they were applying the new academic curriculum rules to his old case. Apparently not.
He now has interesting choices and I don't envy him for his position. I only pray he makes a wise and financially sound decision.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
My very real, very valid excuse is that I am generally mired in stuff that requires much of my time and attention. When one is part of my family, (i.e. living under the roof of one or both living parents) one is caught in a complex web of power relationships, intra-familial expectations and Christian guilt. It doesn't help that I have been battling problems with time management since the day I was born.
I compound my problem the way the rest of us humans do their faults by being unable to say "NO." In this, I am like my friend, er, Danica (not her real name). She takes upon herself projects seemingly without end mainly because she cannot stand inactivity, and because she'd rather be lost in work than remember that she has problems-- personal, work, FMA or what have you.
I am worse than Danica in this respect: I cannot help but indulge my own little messianism.
I have enormous difficulty saying "no" because a great part of my identity is woven into my personal desire to help someone, and in my ingrained cultural desire to please everybody.
I hate disappointing people: it's an ugly feeling.
Ironically, in promising all things, I get precious little done. And it doesn't help me that a big part of me is tied into what other people think of me or my work(1)-- I'm a illustrating performing artist for godssakes, I'm right up there with William Shatner, King of Ham.
I'm thinking maybe I should start saying "No" more often, even if it hurts Someone Important. If I dole out disappointment now, I won't have to deal with it later, when it's grown to monstrous proportions because my other obligations will have kept me from delivering.
(1)This has actually been instrumental in saving my life. Even in my lowest of depressive states (which, thank the Lord, I fall into less and less) I could not bring myself to the point of suicide. As long as I'm alive, there's a chance to refute the claims that I am a failure and a loser because I'm a freelancer (read: BUM)who earns less than $100 a month.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
The Long Way Home
It was my last day at work for a Makati-based firm, and I had taken the usual roundabout route home-- eating with my boss at the UP and then going to his house in Project 8, where I could get a jeep-ride home. I'd just gotten paid and I was raring to buy the enhancements I needed for my laptop... which I was carrying in one of my bags, (a nondescript gray and black backpack) along with my other portable electronics.
My bald boss, you see, is also my martial arts instructor and my good friend. As per our routine, we discuss work plus visual and martial arts matters over the dinner at the UP. After that, we proceed to his house where we exchange computer files, or --on a Sunday-- watch real (old) arnis masters and real (cute) Tai Chi sword form practitioners on VCD, and then part ways. I then take the Quiapo-bound jeepneys or cabs that pass directly by his house.
Obviously, my roundabout route consumed a lot of time. The job ended at around 17:00-18:00 (five to six p.m.) and my training at the Hotel Intercon branch of Red Corner began promptly at 19:00 (seven p.m.) and ended at 21:00 (nine).
We'd rush to catch the last of the north-bound electric trains, get off at Quezon Avenue and proceed to dinner at the UP Arcade: the mideastern food place catering to the needs of the foreign students at the UP International Center. We'd get there at 22:00 and finish dinner and work-talk an hour before midnight of the following day.
And so it was that my boss and I found ourselves hailing a Quiapo-bound jeepney in front of his house in Project 8 in the middle of the night.
It's trite to say so, but I did feel that something was off. I had a strong desire to take a cab and I had the money to do so. But I also had debts to pay and I didn't want to bleed any more money than I already did on a regular basis. So I got on the jeepney, thinking I could take a nap and daydreaming of how the USB scanner I was to buy was going to complete my portable graphic design and rendering office.
I sat complacently in the passenger compartment near the front of the vehicle. I had started to nod off when the jackass beside me pulled out his knife and announced the holdup. I vaguely heard another voice repeating the announcement, because my world had constricted to include only myself and the jerk next to me trying to alternately take my bags and poke me with his knife.
Time slowed and I was able to determine that--
1. the knife was old, had probably seen action in a war, to judge by the number of nicks;
2. the knife had two dull edges-- not a significant slashing threat-- and a diamond profile;
3. the knife was at least six inches long-- definite stabbing threat.
He had tried to intimidate me, tried to stab me (I blocked with my bag), tried to show me the logic of letting go of my stuff. Powerful reasoning, but in that primal moment, my mind was racing, trying to multitask between keeping hold of my bag, not getting stabbed and finding a non-violent solution that would allow me to keep my laptop.
If found it intellectually satisfying to discover that my initial analysis about the knives was sound. Bag-Grabber had managed, with a stabbing motion, to open a wound in my right arm, but the knife was just too dull to make the desired cut as bloody as he would have liked. Still, all that needed to happen for him to be sate his battle gods --his machismo and his typical Filipino pride-- was for one of the knives to wind up deep enough in any of the soft-but-vital areas on my person that were still unprotected.
It was then that I fully noticed the jackass's friend-- the guy seated in front of me, pressing the same type of knife on the jeepney driver's nape. The words "No Win" sounded in my head.
I had a silly mental image of myself as Robotech flying ace Rick Hunter--Captain by the time the novels got to this point-- caught between his duty to sequester a Zentraedi sizing chamber for the government and an angry crowd being stirred up by his civilian nemesis, Lynn-Kyle.
I let go of the backpack and the jerk in front of me hit me in the face for being stubborn. He also tried to stab me-- I'm uncertain of where exactly he was aiming, but I angled my body at the last second (I think that's what happened) and the knife made a heroic, if futile, effort to bury itself in my shoulder. Bag-Grabber had then begun a lecture on the futility of being matigas-- standing up to him and his ilk.
"Do You Betray Me With a Kiss?"
It's funny, but Face-Puncher looked a lot like my friend Pacs. It wasn't him of course. Pacs had fuller lips. I'd been betrayed by friends before, but even the "Judases" in my life never stooped to open and unfair physical aggression.
I tongued my teeth behind my upper jaw and was surprised that none were even loose. I'd seen stars when Evil Pacs-clone launched a sraight punch to my face, but I was surprised that there was very little pain. I was keyed for a fight, perhaps? Maybe if he'd hit me in the nose there'd be a different story.
Still, and I will get up on a mountain peak and shout it out for the world to hear:
Pacs-clone punched like a girl.
There were four robbers, I saw, when my world had finally expanded to encompass the jeepney, the other frightened passengers, the night. I was still in terrible danger because I'd seen the mugs on Pacs-clone and Bag-Grabber. Still, they were satisfied with their haul... or would be, once they'd open my bag to find a portable graphic designer's office among my personal effects. They ordered the jeepney to turn into a side street and promptly got off, admonishing us in dire tones not to look back at them.They disappeared into the night.
The other passengers got the driver to bring them to a lonely police outpost somewhere near the robbers's escape point. It was just too bad there was only one cop manning the desk. He called up the neighborhood watch, who arrived in a mobile unit and we made a futile search for lawbreakers on-the-run. We returned to the Bahay Toro outpost, where the incident was put on the blotter.
Remind me not to vote for the city officials who decreed that the nearest viable police station should be miles away from Bahay Toro. The lone officer manning the desk had told us, that was where we had to go to file a complaint and make a statement. We all lost the stomach for further pursuit, knowing that we had to travel dark roads again to get there and risk another assault and robbery.
The other passengers went home. I called my house-- I didn't memorize Honey's cellular phone numbers, and her home phone had just been changed-- and very, very, very reluctantly spoke with Mom.
I still had my money--four thousand hard-earned bucks--but I'd lost so much more. This had become a cop matter, and as with all things cop, Mom had to be told.
You'd think surviving your first knife fight would have slaked your own battle gods and fed your ego, but having to run back under Mom's iron skirt told me I still had a long way to go before I could fully consider myself a man.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
I'm sick of other people's blogs because most of the writers are either around my age (same angst, same problems, same interests) or they're just too young (been there, done that, please realize there is a life beyond high school, cell phones, clubbing and petty crime!).
I'm sick of other people?s blogs because I'm sick of my own blogs. Really, who gives a shit about an opinionated has-been local comic book personality who only got famous because he was friend to Elmer, Jio, Ilog and James? I can hear my silent readers yelling "Get over it!" And they'd be right.
I am sick of blogs in general because writing simply takes too much time and energy. It's disappointing having to disappoint readers who want to know more about what goes on in one's head, when absolutely nothing occupies one's head for long stretches of time.
I want to write-- something new, fresh and spontaneous. I want to love writing the way I want to love painting and comic books.
Help me, God, I can't do this alone.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
My pop had tired of seeing his kids burning the midnight oil on computer games—never mind that they were all over 18 (the “It’s my house; my rules” argument rears its ugly but valid head)— and ordered me to remove all extant games. I foresaw a time when the rule would wisely be rescinded, and so I deleted all the exe files.
But I forgot to make copies.
When I made like an anal deity and subcreated –with a little help from the overworked slaves as Maxis– I made a small number of families and seeded them throughout two towns. I would dearly love to visit them again and interfere with their lives on a level my mother wishes she could interfere in mine. (Thank God this really is only a game.)
In Veronaville, I was busily raising two beautiful daughters and waiting for my awfully nice, if womanizing, son to wed one of them.
I had so dearly wanted young Anghelos to wed Ayane, but the age gap between the two sims may be too large, requiring an expensive wait on Anghelos’s part. Ayane and Anghelos used to date when they were both adolescents— she hit her teens just as he was close to leaving his. Anghelos hit adulthood first.
Ayane’s older sister Kasumi is of the marrying age and she is very much in love with Anghelos. Time is not on Kasumi’s side either and if I do not constantly play the interfering anal deity, she will get Anghelos to marry her.
It seems that even in this computer-generated existence, men are so easily led by the women who know exactly what reins to pull on.
Anghelos has a younger brother, Mikhail Maedhros. When I left, Maedhros was on the verge of puberty. Because I am an interfering anal deity, he will never reach puberty until his sister Feawyn transitions from toddler to child.
I am loath to rob Maedhros of his innocence— I would relish seeing his father or mother reading to him a few more times before he outgrows the need— because this child is so damned nice.
If there was a way to guarantee that his childhood friend (a non-player controlled sim) Katherine Gregory ages with him, I’d happily let the age transition happen. I don’t want him to be alone and friendless outside of his family.
I am reluctant to allow parents Kirk and Moriah to transition into old age. This is natural and necessary in this world, but the game’s dynamics allow us player-deities to play favorites to the hilt. With the proper cheat codes, we can bestow wealth to— and destroy enemies of— our favored sims. We can even grant them a functional immortality.
I want many little Kirks running around the house before Moriah becomes an elder.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Irony is a robber who punches like a girl.
Irony is a dull knife drawing blood from my arm.
Irony is losing my means of livelihood on the same night I finished earning enough money to improve it.