Archive | April, 2011

Srsly, Mother

20 Apr

Mama: It’s so disappointing! I tried on five swimsuits today and none of them fit. Ang bagay lang talaga sakin, two-piece.

Me: Ahahahaha… 😐

The day in phrases

19 Apr

One day.

Three cities.

Five shopping centers.

Three mochi balls and organic (read: I-paid-too-much-for-something-that-tastes-like-oreo) cookies for lunch.

Window shopping for work.

Checking out products that cost an arm and a legwork, trying to look unfazed.

Reaffirming the truth upon which the relationship between girls and malls is founded: shopping = serious business.

Nostalgic stories of old Manila by the friendly company driver Manong Jose.

Leaving my bag in a native crafts store and coming back for it before any one noticed (yay for prints that blend in the background).

Realizing that revolving doors and a high-income clientele do not an exciting mall make.

Bringing home pasalubong for a change (Reese’s peanut butter cups, my favorite and mother’s too!).

Discovering a pastry stall that sells chocolate-coated cheesecake bars.

Waiting in traffic, thinking of nothing and of everything.

A little archaic, but charming.

18 Apr

A Woman’s Question by Lena Lathrop

Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing,

Ever made by the Hand above?

A woman’s heart and a woman’s life,

And a woman’s wonderful love.

Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing,

As a child might ask for a toy?

Demanding what others have died to win,

With the reckless dash of a boy.

You have written my lesson of duty out,

Manlike, you have questioned me.

Now stand at the bars of my woman’s soul,

Until I have questioned thee.

You require that your mutton shall always be hot,

Your socks and your shirts be whole;

I require that your heart be as true as Yah’s stars,

And as pure as His heaven, your soul.

You require a cook for your mutton and beef,

I require a far greater thing.

A seamstress you’re wanting for socks and shirts,

I look for a man and a king.

A king for the beautiful realm called Home,

And a man that his Maker Yah, could,

Look upon just as He did at the first,

And say, ‘it is very good’.

I am fair and young but the rose may fade,

From this soft young cheek one day;

Will you love me amid the falling leaves,

As you did ‘mong the blossoms of May?

Is your heart an ocean, strong and true,

I may launch my all on its tide?

A loving woman finds heaven or hell,

On the day she is made a bride.

I require all things that are grand and free,

All things that a man should be;

If you give this all, I would stake my life,

To be all you demand of me.

If you cannot be this, a laundress and cook,

You can hire and little to pay;

But a woman’s heart and a woman’s life

Are not to be won that way.

Decadence by Dandelion: Juzo Itami’s Tampopo (1985)

15 Apr

Note: This entry is a contribution to the ongoing blogathon in tribute to  Japanese cinema. Click here to find out how you can help Japan in its time of need.

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Some movies can be watched in the same transient way we eat popcorn – one pops the kernel in his or her mouth, tongue brushing against the buttery coat (or against the dusted cheese, barbecue or [insert flavor of choice here] powder), and swallows quickly. But others simply need more time to ferment in one’s consciousness, so that the mind can fully digest and appreciate it.

The 1985 comedy Tampopo (Dandelion), helmed by Juno Itami, is one such. A look at Itami’s body of work reveals that he is a director best described as sensational, in every sense of the word. A number of his cinematic oeuvres depict touchy themes like adultery and violence, and made full use of his signature satire on the silver screen.

The first scene in Tampopo features a gangster with his moll in a cinema. He breaks the third wall and tells the audience of his ideal uninterrupted viewing experience, where his fellow movie watchers eat their food without a sound and watch alarms don’t go off unexpectedly. From the get-go, Itami forces the viewers to realize that the consumption of food can be connected even to their individual cinematic experience, and their relations with others in the same environment.

Tampopo, the titular character, is a widow struggling to run the ramen shop her husband had left behind. The business isn’t doing very well, and she only realizes why one night when two truck drivers critique her dishes. Her cooking leaves much to be desired, but she was brimming with enthusiasm to improve.

As she embarked on her quest for the perfect techniques of making ramen, she encounters a mirage of interesting characters and unexpected mentors. Though the central narrative zeroes in on Tampopo’s culinary metamorphosis, the film is made up of different vignettes and sub-plots; not all of them are significant or even relevant to the widow’s tale, but the yoke that binds them together is food.

These tangential storylines present the various facets of Japanese life that are affected by food, as well as the various facets of food that influence lives. The characters and the situations they find themselves in mirror cultural realities in the context of personal and social dining. An elderly woman incessantly and lasciviously squeezes food products in a supermarket. A prissy etiquette instructor tries to teach young women the proper Western way of eating spaghetti – silent and slow – in a French restaurant. The camera then cuts to a Caucasian customer slurping away at his pasta, reveling in the Asian method of devouring  – the girls follow suit, and eventually, so does the instructor.

The adjacent scene features haughty superiors gathered for a meal in the same French eatery. They know squat about the menu entries but are too proud to admit it, and so they order the same item to avoid making fools of themselves. With them is an intern, still but surprising, who puts his superiors in their place by revealing exemplary knowledge of French cuisine by ordering quenelles, escargot and vintage wine.

A dying mother forces herself out of bed to cook for her family one last time in a poignant sequence. Similarly, Tampopo puts what meager cooking skills she has to good use by making a rice omelet for her son.

Besides the familial aspect of food, the film also delves into its potential for arousal. It demonstrates this best through the sexcapades of a white-suited gangster and his moll, both of whom delight in exploring alternative uses for salt and lemons, whipped cream, live shrimps and raw egg. The same gangster also figures in a scene involving oysters, the ultimate aphrodisiac. He feeds on an oyster from an adolescent oyster farmer’s hand; her tongue glides sensuously across his lips as she clears off the blood from a fresh cut.

The movie is also quick to maintain that food is as much about unbridled passions and simple pleasures as it is about discipline and self-control. Through her intensive and extensive (if improvised) training, for instance, Tampopo discovers that food-making is as much a discipline as it is an art and science. Maintaining the ramen shop is also her means of bridging the past and the present, of keeping her husband’s memory alive for her son and herself.

Tampopo spoons out the values that individuals and cultures attach to food, all in a heaping cinematized feast for the senses and sensibilities. Food meets our needs and feeds our wants; it is with this philosophy that the film seeks to show how and why we eat beyond sustenance. Even the most domestic fare may be rife with erotic qualities. This malleability in the functions of food renders it both essential and quintessential from womb to tomb, for love-making and life-giving.

The development of cuisine is rooted in culture, but the former can also come into its own and become pervasive enough to define the latter. The staunch safeguarding of food traditions, such as the conscientious preparation of the perfect ramen, is not purely nostalgic in nature. After all, heritage cuisine does not only belong to the past; it can very well nourish future generations, and add flavor to a person’s and a people’s future.

Of saxophones and rice toppings

14 Apr

CWTS orye at the AIT this morning. Turns out our next meeting will be on the 26th already. Yay for a sliver of summer before actual summer class! Final destination (!) is TBA, but the options so far are Batangas or Manila City.

A few lines from today’s frolics that are made of WIN:

1) Sir M: Tapos na ba magsulat [sa attendance]? Naubusan na ko ng kwento.

2) Ei to Eu: Bakit ka nag-sasmile? Natutunaw ako!

3) M to Ei: Gusto mo ba talaga ng milk tea, or R____ “t”?

4) I to A: A, clingy ako! (sabay silong sa payong ni A)

5) A: Plus points sakin kapag marunong tumugtog ng instrument ang isang guy.

I: Oo! Gusto ko talaga yung magaling mag-sax.

Ei: Ha?

I: Sax, saxophone.

Ei: Ahhh, akala ko mag-socks.

I: @-)

6) Ei on Combi waiter: Nasasayangan ako kay Kuya.

7) M: Ang magbigay sakin ng tulips, i-kikiss ko with my two lips!

Reality bytes

12 Apr

Click. Delete. Right click. Undo.

When every gig’s filled with isohunt movies

Yeah you’d bleed just to now you’re alive

 

HANG IN THERE, SUSAN.

Because even the subconscious can be clingy

8 Apr

I know I’m on vacation mode when my dreams start to  involve acads (?!), or when the people in them are the people I miss from school.

The dream I had in my REM sleep early this morning was one such. In this dream, I was covering sumkinduva parade in UP with the not-shy (haha!) Irene. It was apparently for Broad Journ because I was taking notes and she was recording her VO and a couple of JCers appeared from out of nowhere to watch the parade (it wasn’t the lantern parade I promise) then Atebebe spread out her arms for a hug and yelled “Bebegurl!” then I ran up to her and we hugged and I told her about the radio script we had to write for our BJ finals and the Psych paper I needed to pass on the same day and I love that I can run to her for comfort even in my sleep.

I realize that this is my last summer in the purest, blithest, freest sense of the word. Next year my batch mates and I will be busy with internship, and the summer after that, there’s the “real” employment-seeking, tax-paying, post-grad world to face. Assuming that the world is still up and running by that time, of course, but I am not Mayan and I refuse to believe that all my efforts to carpe diem will be in vain.

Sometimes I wonder, as we are all wont to do, what everyone will be like n number of years from now. Will we be cosmopolitans, meeting up for coffee some afternoons and for daiquiris/margaritas/[drink of choice] some nights? Can we even afford — in monetary and energy terms — to treat ourselves to meet-ups and nights’ out every so often?  Will we want to leave the country at one point? Will we wake up one day and realize, much to our horror, that feelings don’t change, only people do?

I have high propensity to get emotional at the end of every school year. In high school, I would find myself tearing up at every last SCB-A assembly, every last club meeting, and every last “Goodbye and thank you, Miss/Mrs./Mr. [insert name of teacher]!”

I guess college has done little to curb that propensity.