Sunday, December 25, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Many years later I came upon this famous Frank P. Church editorial, published in The New York Sun in 1897. It has been a great comfort from then on. Maybe someday I will read this to J, perhaps when he no longer feels compelled to keep vigil, having noticed how the toys under the Christmas tree are always made in China, or how they seem so much like the ones they sell at Tiendesitas or SM, or how the wrapper resembles the ones Mommy bought a few days ago, or how strangely, even if he stays up until dawn of Christmas Day, there will be no sounds of bells, nor sleighs, nor reindeer, not a shadow of a Caucasian-looking fat man in a red suit with a white beard and pink cheeks, who will not have a chimney to climb anyway because we don't have chimneys in Manila, and why do they say he goes through the chimney anyway, that's plain stupid because how can he fit in any chimney with a belly like that???
But I digress. Here is the editorial *, nicked for your enjoyment:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
* More background information can be found here.
As I type this, nephew J is already fast asleep, having been unable to make it even past the midnight mass. Should he wake up between now and tomorrow morning, if he asks why Santa has not come, I have my answer ready: "Weeell, it's dangerous to drive a sleigh during the winter months, see, maybe he got a bit delayed..."
Ho ho ho!!! Merry Christmas, peeps!!!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Konrad Gessner (Swiss, 1516-1575)
Hand-colored (watercolor) woodcut, 39 x 22.9 cm (15 3/8 x 9 in.), from:
Konrad Gessner, Historiae animalium...
Liber 1: De quadrupedibus viviparis, Zurich, 1551
The Getty Research Institute, 84-B13226
For centuries, Dürer's engraving above remained the only picture of the rhinoceros in Europe. Konrad Gessner, a Swiss natural historian, published a facsimile in his Historia Animalium, regarded to be the starting point of modern zoology.
Ernst Gombrich, in his book Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, used this engraving as an example of how artists, before the advent of photography, were necessarily, always influenced by existing schemas even while they strive to record the truth. He noted that "The familiar will always remain the likely starting point for the rendering of the unfamiliar." Even the Dutch artists, the realists who supposedly drew from life, were known to make mistakes. (There is, for instance, an existing late 16th-century depiction of a beached whale with ears!)
According to documentary evidence, the King of Portugal received the rhinoceros as a gift from an Indian sultan in 1515. He then intended to send the creature, named Ganda, to the Pope, but the ship was wrecked before it reached its destination. The spots on its skin were purportedly caused by dermatitis suffered from being confined at the bottom of the ship during the 10-month voyage. Gombrich contends that Dürer, in rendering the rhinoceros, relied on second hand information (a sketch and an account by a Moravian painter from Portugal), which was coloured by Dürer's own conception of the mythical dragon and its armoured body.
(Special thanks to the Contessa for sending me material on the subject matter. Supplemented with Google.)
Monday, December 19, 2005
I was told that fall came late to Virginia this time around. The leaves started changing colors a few days before we arrived. Not a spectacular show compared to previous years, as there wasn't much of the pinks and the reds, but to someone like me who was seeing autumn for the first time, it was picture perfect.
Blue Ridge Parkway, 11/07/05
Saturday, December 17, 2005
December 15, 2005
Came late, didn't get a good vantage point. Sunk in the mud walking across the amphitheater grounds. Didn't feel like taking out my trusty tripod (which, come to think of it, is actually well-suited to being stuck into the ground, but heck, I already had clumps of annoyingly wet earth on my standard issue work shoes, why inflict the same on my tripod?).
Heck, I'm not sure there even was a parade. And uh, didn't see that many lanterns actually. In any case, it was fun being there among the crowd as the various creations of some colleges were presented (I hear the bird masks by the College of Fine Arts were fantastic but alas, I didn't get to see them), and the fireworks display was fabulous. Walking around campus offered lots of photo opps, too.
More pics in my Filphoto gallery (scroll down to find album). Don't hold your breath, though. I was lazy, shame on me.
Friday, December 16, 2005
In any case, I found another El Capitan pic, this one's much closer. I believe this was from the Bridalveil Fall vista. (I mean I was on the way to hike towards Bridalveil and then turned to the other side to see the capitan.) Still with the G2.
Yo no soy marinero.
* Image crossposted at my Filphoto gallery.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
And speaking of capitans, the first Alatriste trailer is out! (Yeah, this is the sort of random freewheeling train of thought you'll have to suffer through from time to time, hee). El Capitan Alatriste, Spanish ex-soldier and hired mercenary circa 17th-century Spain, is Arturo Perez Reverte's (Club Dumas, The Fencing Master) most popular creation. Directed by Agustin Diaz Yanes, the movie is an almost entirely Spanish production. Almost, because the lead is not a Spanish actor, but Viggo Mortensen (why else would I be talking about this, ehehe). Viggo is fluent in Spanish (among several other languages), but he has had to learn to speak 17th-century Castilian for this movie. Swashbuckling epic, folks, my kind of movie, yayy!!!
For more information on the Alatriste series, go here. The English translation of the first installment was recently released, check it out here.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Clickie here and check out the year's best in movies, tv, books, theater, etc. and ooh lookit that huh, who's on top of the New Yorkers of the Year/Cultural Elite of 2005? The cultural elite is said to be "a Pan-cultural list of awards celebrating the best of the arts this year... the actors and architects and bands and directors and writers and gallerists and painters and producers who’ve shone brightest in the city’s artistic firmament in 2005... who may show the culture the way in the future. "
I wouldn't go so far as to say that A History of Violence is the best movie of the year (am a sucker for fantasy epics for one thing, but no, I'm not suggesting Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire is this year's best, and I haven't seen Memoirs of a Geisha, which i hear, sadly, is one of the most disappointing, we shall see), but Cronenberg as best director, yeah, and Viggo as best actor, heck yeah!
Speaking of lists, what's with People magazine? How on earth can you publish this picture and list him as #4 sexiest man alive? #4??? Baah, humbug!
*ahem* Right. Looney imogen out.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Saturday, December 10, 2005
So your next question is: what (or more appropriately, who) the heck is Kabuki? Kabuki is an operative of The Noh, a secret organization that polices the balance between organized crime and politics in present-day Japan. It's not your typical action-packed story populated by impossibly buxom women. The heroine is a flawed creature, forever scarred by a painful personal history that has left the mark "Kabuki" inscribed on her face. The series, begun by the author as a thesis in college, delves into issues of identity and being. It touches on culture, history, psychology, philosophy, science. It's a fictional story that talks about universal truths (aren't those the best stories around?). All this sounds quite lame if you truly knew what I'm talking about.
Anyway, in the last completed 9-story arc (Kabuki: The Metamorphosis), Kabuki escapes The Noh and her past, aided by Akemi, with whom she has been in contact solely through surreptitiously delivered origami letters.
In Kabuki: The Alchemy, Kabuki begins her new life under a new identity. In #5, having settled in her new home somewhere in America, she continues to correspond with Akemi, who by the end of Metamorphosis, had infiltrated The Noh. The art, as always, is fabulously rich. (Preview here.) Collaged into the pages are envelopes from around the world. One of them is from Manila. Guess who sent it in?
Here's a closer look:
Hmmm. Strange how things come together. I didn't know the post office had butterfly stamps at that time. Enclosed with the letter were copies of 2 Kabuki-related poems I wrote some time ago -- both mention butterflies (since they were recurring images in Metamorphosis which appealed to me very strongly: the butterfly as transformation, ephemeral creature, beautiful yet frail miracle).
Fully Booked has been talking about bringing David over for some time now, even before they got Neil Gaiman. The Mackster announced it himself months before. I pointedly asked FB owner Mr. Daez if they still intended to push through with it and he said yes. Wonder when that will happen? Hmm.
For more information on David Mack and Kabuki, check out the link in the slowly improving sidebar, folks. (Ladies, you might want to check what David Mack looks like, he's sorta hunky. *ahem* ;-) )
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Here's a completely anal thought: what if I set up a blog each with Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress, and Phlog? I actually thought of doing that, having had a swell time deciding on which to use. And then again I thought the better of it (which is to say I realized shortly afterwards that Typepad and Wordpress would cost me and Phlog, well, it may prove to be a bit limited for my purposes in the future). Anyway, enough with the boring blogsite details.
Let's be frank, shall we? Blogging is an essentially egocentric venture. Why else would anyone publish anything online if she did not think anyone else would want to check out her stuff? (For purposes of economy and style, and because I feel like it, I shall be using the feminine to represent both genders. Anyone who asks will be answered with a quip and a sigh.) Where was I? Oh, blogging as egocentric. Self-expression is in itself self-centered. I wouldn't still be writing this third paragraph if I didn't think you would still be reading up to this point, right? Right. I shall leave it at that, because I've got things to do, I can't blog away all day, for crying out loud !!! (That's me trying to convince myself, `ya.) Maybe I'll pick up on this next time. If there will be a next time, maybe next time will be in Typepad, tee hee.
I'm still trying to learn how to customize, so in the meantime please bear with me (like don't mind those links in the sidebar, I'll get to that later)... Now let's see, how will a photo look like on this template... Ah. Not bad, huh. This was not taken by me, but by my brother A. Still haven't found how to format the caption properly ;-)