Friday, December 24, 2004

Old soul, I am.

Stolen from Zane.

You Are an Old Soul

You are an experienced soul who appreciates tradition. Mellow and wise, you like to be with others but also to be alone. Down to earth, you are sensible and impatient. A creature of habit, it takes you a while to warm up to new people.

You hate injustice, and you're very protective of family and friends. A bit demanding, you expect proper behavior from others. Extremely independent, you don't mind living or being alone. But when you find love, you tend to want marriage right away.


Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul and Visionary Soul




Marriage?
Nah.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Swash your buckler!

I clearly remember saying to my college best friend my dislike of certain people walking down SJ Hall inside DLSU.

"They...swashbuckle," I said indignantly.
Fri started to laugh. "Swash...buckle? Don't pirates do that?"
I started laughing too.
"You know what I mean," I replied with a grin.

Wherever did the word "swashbuckling" come from? And why is it only used in conjunction with pirates, at least in the popular usage?

Fortunately, an enterprising Michael Quinion, who handles the website www.worldwidewords.org, answers the question that has been foremost on my mind.

He writes in his weekly newsletter, dispatched to at least 21,000 subscribers in 21+ countries (his words, not mine),

"A swashbuckler these days is somebody who engages in romantic and daring piratical adventures with ostentatious flamboyance."

So yes, certain people who walked along SJ did tend to display a flamboyant tendency, despite the lack of 'daring piractical adventures'. And yes, I was soooo bad.

But the bad-ass feeling got a bit deflated when I read more of Quinion's explanation.

"People who have fun with the word, as a writer in the Guardian did on Tuesday, usually talk about some film hero "buckling his swash". A nice try, but there's no verb "buckle" hidden in it - the verbal bit is actually "swash". You should really say the hero "swashes his buckler", but it's not as good a joke."

So yes, I was wrong - they couldn't "swashbuckle", as I had originally thought - they could only swash their bucklers!

And according to Quinion, people did actually do so.

"A member of this breed centuries ago actually did little more than that. A buckler was a type of small shield, held by a handle at the back, whose main purpose was to deflect blows from the sword of one's opponent. Its name is from Old French "(escu) bocler", literally "(a shield) with a boss" (this last word, for a protrusion at the centre of something, is itself from French). Someone who swashes is dashing about violently or lashing out with his sword, often in pretend fights. It seems to have been an echoic term from the sound of swords clashing or banging on shields."


And so, I read on most interestedly in how the term came to be.

"In the sixteenth century 'swashbuckler' was created from these two words to convey the idea of a swaggering, bullying ruffian or undisciplined lout, who made a lot of noise but to little practical purpose. It was most definitely not a compliment to be called one in those days - a writer in 1560 described a man as 'a drunkard, a gambler and a swashbuckler'."

Those days must not have been good, no.

"The romantic image came along several centuries later."

So when someone calls you a swashbuckler, think twice - from foolish fop to romantic hero!

Otherwise, don't let me catch you swaggering when you walk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

World of words.

You'll notice when reading old editions of Reader's Digest that they always manage to print winning words of a Washington Post-sponsored contest, the Style Invitational.

What is the Style Invitational anyway?


It's a weekly contest where the Post asks its readers to redefine words by changing a letter of an original word, redefine words from a dictionary with no change in spelling, rewrite Post headlines and their lead sentence, things like that.


Here is an example of words of where the Post asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. (nicked from this site)


Reintarnation
: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of obtaining sex.
Giraffiti
: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
Tatyr
: A lecherous Mr. Potato Head.
Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn't get it.
Inoculatte
: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
Hipatitis
: Terminal coolness.
Osteopornosis
: A degenerate disease.
Burglesque
: A poorly planned break-in. (See: Watergate)
Karmageddon
: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like a serious bummer.
Glibido
: All talk and no action.
Dopeler effect
: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
Intaxication
: Euphoria at getting a refund from the IRS, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
Ignoranus
: A person who's both stupid & an... (infelicitous: American slang for co-worker)
Contratemps
: the resentment permanent workers feel toward the fill-in workers.
Vaseball
: a game of catch played by children in the living room.
Acme
: a generic skin disease.
Doltergeist
: a spirit that decides to haunt someplace stupid, such as your septic tank.

Apparently, New York Magazine has been running a contest which is similar in vein. Readers were asked to take a well known expression in a foreign language, change a single letter and provide a definition for the new expression. Here are the winners (taken from the same website as before):

Rigor Morris. The cat is dead.
Respondez s'il vous plaid. Honk if you're Scottish.
Harlez-vous Francais? Can you drive a French motorcyle?
Veni, vipi, vici. I came, I'm a very important person, I conquered
Veni, vidi, visa. I came, I saw, I shopped.
Cogito eggo sum. I think, therefore I am...a waffle.
Que Sera Serf. Life is feudal.
Leroi est mort. Jive Leroi.
The king is dead. No kidding.
Posh mortem. Death styles of the rich and famous.
Pro bozo publico. Support your local clown.
Monage A Trois. I am three years old.
Haste cuisine. Fast French food.
Quip pro quo. A fast retort.
Aloha oy. Love; greetings; farewell; and from such a pain you should never know.
Mazel ton. Tons of luck.
Visa La France. Don't leave your chateau without it.
Carne Diem. Seize the meat.


The others I won't pretend to know, but the rest are pretty funny. Language play is universal.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Vanity, and some laughs.

Nicked from Aimee Rae.

What does Googlism say about you?

sarah is here
sarah is evil
sarah is seventeen
sarah is performing
sarah is well
sarah is seeking
sarah is born
sarah is a beast
sarah is one the country's top five
sarah is the real thing
sarah is doing?
sarah is at home and expecting
sarah is motivated by compassion to do good deeds
sarah is corpse
sarah is a design label for bigger women
sarah is dying" issue
sarah is cooler than you fool's ujournal
sarah is macquarie harbour
sarah is my favorite big brother babe
sarah is good for soup
sarah is 6 months old
sarah is a godess
sarah is cinderella
sarah is around
sarah is now a christian
sarah is a bum
sarah is blinded
sarah is from a wealthy
sarah is a sneaky goldfish
sarah is well
sarah is in town
sarah is confident
sarah is bomb
sarah is seeking
sarah is back
sarah is now a christian
sarah is a month and
sarah is a manufacturer of wedding invitation
sarah is reading
sarah is 4
sarah is 21
sarah is a random girl
sarah is going to be fine with some rest
sarah is sooo driving
sarah is corpse

And last but not least,

sarah is so cute when she's drunk

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pride and Prejudice, yet again.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

- Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

According to a recent poll at
The Woman's Hour, a radio program sponsored by the BBC, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice took top honors for Woman's Watershed Fiction. By watershed fiction, they mean novels that has most changed the way women see themselves.

There are rather mixed reactions over the choosing of Pride and Prejudice, and two novelists, Monica Ali and Jenny Colgan, persuasively argue their side in TheGuardian.

Ali starts off by writing that "if Jane Austen had not given us Pride and Prejudice, we would never have had Colin Firth in a wet shirt in the television adaptation - an event that changed the lives of many women most profoundly." Humor aside, she goes on to detail how popular the novel has been among women, although popular doesn't always mean good or meaningful.

So why the widespread attraction? She furthers that
"Austen's exquisite irony lays bare the institution of marriage as an exchange commodity system. Yet she treats the subject with a great deal of subtle inflection, making a thorough study of the married state, from the unequal union of Mr and Mrs Bennet, through the unstable passion of Lydia and Wickham, to Charlotte's marriage to the pompous Mr Collins."

Also, Ali suggests, women in the 21st century have not totally bypassed these relationship issues. Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha, and Carrie (of Sex and the City) have surely went through all of this.

And at the center of it all is the spunky heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. Ali writes that she is "Quick-witted, lively, self-assured, full of good sense, and yet so falliby human. It is not only her prejudices she must conquer to make the match with Darcy, but, to some extent, her pride." Her path to self-knowledge, Ali believes, is still the best.


On the other hand, Colgan is disappointed by the results. Yes, she writes, the novel is wonderful, but that "there's still a bad taste left in the mouth at the idea of a woman who rides off into the sunset with her tall, brooding, and rich lover being a life-altering experience for the 14,000 people who voted."
It could have as easily been voted the top novel for 1824.

The other short-listed titles (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Woman's Room by Marilyn French, and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood), she writes, all deal with women's place in society, all have arguably better situations bent on shifting paradigms. And yet
instead, we all want to go on that carriage ride to Pemberley.

"Elizabeth Bennet's central message - about staying true to your inner self and conquering the worst elements of it - is most certainly an excellent one, but is this truly the reason it gained so many votes...or is that blasted man in his white shirt diving into a lake continuing to hypnotise an entire generation?" (italics mine)

Pride and Prejudice, Colgan writes, is truly an exquisite pleasure, and she ends asking an important question: did it really make us the women we are today? Because she likes to think that there's more to women than that.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Man.

I first become acquainted with Ogden Nash three years ago, when I chanced upon one of his entertaining poems in Language Play, authored by David Crystal (more in another post). His poem, Ode to a Baby, was so delightful that I decided to use it for a poetry reading sponsored by the DLSU Malate Lit Folio.

It goes like this:

A bit of talcum
Is always walcum.

Nash, known for his quick wit in assembling words and oftentimes making up words of his own, quickly descended into the American consciousness during the 30s all the way to the 60s. Another example of his sparkling wit is evidenced by his parody of Trees, that famous poem by Joyce Kilmer (and which parts you can see dotted along the South Super Highway):

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.

According to his biography on AmericanPoems.com, "His signature style used exaggeration, an element of surprise, and absurdity juxtaposed with the universal experience with which the average reader can identify. He was well regarded by critics and the public alike for his inventive titles, his unlikely rhymes, and his ridiculous play on words."

Nobody could hold a torch to him when it came to ludicrousness and whimsicality. People of all ages and all nationalities loved his work, which also suggests that when it comes to language play, the world is a virtual playground.

Here is a jewel, The Cow:

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.

And another, The Firefly:

The firefly's flame
Is something for which science has no name
I can think of nothing eerier
Than flying around with an unidentified glow on a
person's posteerier.

Nash himself did not grow up in a stable, peaceful time. And yet he suggested that the average man, surviving the perils of the nuclear age, needed not only missiles, submarines, and a fallout shelter, but also a few lighthearted laughs to save him.

It's fitting to end this with one of his best-loved lines:

Candy is dandy
But liquor is quicker.

A Problem from Hell, and a Picture of Heaven.

Random thoughts:
  • There goes a popular question in philosophy, where a professor asks if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to see it fall. Would it still make a sound? Ergo...
  • While our company spent four lovely days in the island of Boracay, strong rains and winds were battering the northern province of Quezon.
  • The best book to bring along on a small plane flying in bad weather is Samantha Power's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. The murders described there are so gruesome, it'll take your mind off plane crash percentages.
  • Even if you put your plane ticket in your shirt pocket on the way to the banca, a huge wave will hit you from behind and wet it (and you) anyway.
  • Bringing small pieces of bread while going snorkeling will make the fishes gravitate towards you. They'll nip at your fingers.
  • Your beach flip-flops will break at the last conceivable moment; that is, on your last day in Boracay.
  • Vodka Ice is actually pretty darned good.
  • 1-2-3 Pass is fun to play. Loser drinks half a bottle of beer.
  • Cartwheeling in the sand makes you feel like a kid again.
  • The famous Banana Choco Peanut shake of Jonah's lives up to its reputation. It's well worth the sacrifice of walking from Station 2 to Station 1 in the hot, baking sun. (That's also a good way to tan, by the way.)
  • There's a lot of dog poo at the beach.
  • Counter-Strike is a good way to let your fellow colleagues and bosses wallop you, badly.
  • Fire-dancing is easy to look at, but hard to do at first.
  • Cute guys will come up to you outside D'Mall and invite you to play beach volleyball.
  • Beach volleyball rocks!
  • Dancing + large quantities of alcohol will make people dance the night away, with sensuous abandonment, all accompanied with the flashing of the camera and the laughter of your colleagues.
  • Men who fly in business attire will be seen walking on the beach, wearing passable beach clothes.
  • Kiteboarding looks to be the ultimate high!
  • Shopping for souvenirs is time-consuming and exciting, all at the same time.
  • The crowd at Cocomanga's looks a bit scary.
  • It is entirely possible to make up a company soap opera/teleserye, even at the buffet table set in front of the beach.
  • Le Soleil de Boracay staff are staff par excellence. The place ain't too shabby itself.
  • Beach beds are cool ideas.
  • Crepes St. Michael are delicious. Thanks A!
  • Swimming in your clothes is presposterous, but nonetheless very liberating.
  • Flying through clouds on the return flight home is scary. N doesn't like flying either; you take what comforts you can.
To N, R, A, and D, thanks for providing a wonderful four days! You guys rock.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Value for (hard-earned) Money.

Shopping for Christmas won't prove any easier than it has been over the past few years. And it's easy to succumb to the easy pressures of buying this year's latest techno-lust and sadly watch it depreciate over the course of the year. (Nokia 6600, anyone?)

That's not what we really want, don't we?

Barring desire and greed and status symbols, we all want to get (and hopefully give) gifts that appreciate in value. But what exactly are those?

In the UK, Jeremy Davies of TheGuardian has an article detailing which gifts to give this Christmas that have proven to appreciate in value. And while his suggestions are understandably UK-focused, his research can always be used with regard to local shops.

Here are a few excerpts from Davies' article:
  • Well chosen jewellery can hold or increase in value over time, says Jan Springer, marketing consultant to the World Gold Council. She advises that if you want to buy jewellery that retains its value, you should go to one of the big name jewelers, like Garrard, Asprey or Tiffany: "Even if it's a tiny piece, especially if you keep the box, the value should hold well."
  • If antiques are more your thing, David Moss, diary editor at Antiques Trade Gazette says art deco, south Asian art and antiquities and post-second world war furniture are all the rage right now.
  • Film posters may not be considered high art, but they make great presents, and if you choose wisely, their value can grow considerably. Bruce Marchant of the Reel Poster Gallery in London's Notting Hill (tel 0207 727 4488) says posters for James Bond films, those featuring particular actors like Michael Caine or Audrey Hepburn, or for certain directors, like Alfred Hitchcock or Powell and Pressburger, are perennial favourites and can be picked up for less than £500.
  • Buying original art can be expensive, and knowing which artists make the best investments is notoriously difficult. But the internet has made the whole process much easier, allowing people outside the art world to buy prints by leading artists - many of which will at least hold their value and some of which could appreciate over time.
Happy hunting!