Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Eek, davidmackguide found me!

Seems a link to my Kabuki-related entry has been posted at davidmackguide.com, here. I should've known, that David Thornton sure is very good at gathering up all Mack-related information out there in the web. Managed to escape his daily blog searches since imogenagerie isn't publicly listed, but as soon as Mr. Mack responded to my post at his messageboard, click! it was there at davidmackguide. Not that I'm complaining or anything.

Any Manila fans who happen to drop by, btw, you'll be interested to know that David Mack says he does look forward to going here sometime in the near future. Now, if only Mr. Daez and company know that, eh? Drum up support, peeps, let's e-mail (through their website), call, inform, badger, plead, beg (what do you fellas think, foot-in-the-door first or face-in-the-door? ehehe) Fully Booked to make this Mack booksigning event happen.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The War of the Worlds mp3 tracks for downloading

I put a couple of tracks up online for downloading. That music player at thewaroftheworlds.com seems to be such a pain (especially for slow connections). For some reason I kept getting an error when I attempted to upload Forever Autumn from my mp3 player to my comp. If anyone wants that particular track, let me know and I'll find a way to put it up as well.

On second thought, I think I'll add in Brave New World, too, as it features the Artilleryman, a character which, on the surface, provides a perfect foil to Parson Nathaniel. (The Spielberg movie equivalent of the artilleryman, something of an abomination, is Ogilvy played by Tim Robbins.) Comparing the parson in Spirit of Man to the artilleryman in Brave New World brings to the fore the suggestion that while the two have differing approaches to the crisis (i.e., the imminent annihilation of humankind by Martians), both are in fact, afflicted albeit with varying strains of madness. Interesting concept, that. For don't we owe the world as we now know it, largely to mad men?

The Eve of the War (10 MB): The smashing opening track
Spirit of Man (13 MB): Parson Nathaniel starts to go cuckoo
Brave New World (14 MB): In the end, more of a dreamer than a doer

[Martian fighting machine workbook sketch by Michael Trim, 1976]

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The War of the Worlds: The Musical

Obviously I'm not talking about the slightly disappointing Spielberg movie remake (only slightly disappointing because I was helplessly charmed by Dakota Fanning, although there wasn't supposed to be a little girl in the story), a special effects extravaganza that had too much Tom Cruise thespic *cough* flexing and too little story development. Nor am I referring to the 1938 Orson Welles radio adaptation which sent hundreds of Americans running to the streets in panic (a textbook example of mass hysteria).

What I am talking about is the 1978 musical version created by Jeff Wayne. I clearly remember hearing the opening track, The Eve of the War, some time in the mid-`80s as my brother played a cassette tape (no cds yet back then) in his room, volume turned up to a booming blare. First there was this rich male voice narrating:

"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space. No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinized as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of life on other planets. And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us."

And then, tun-tun-tun! Tun-tun-tun! I must have jumped out of my skin. There was this strange, wonderful music, loud and symphonic, yet modern and otherworldly, something akin to what would now be described as electronica. Understand that back then I was used to fun `80s new wave, pop and slow rock ditties with saccharine lyrics, innocuous folk songs, and so on. To me, Wayne's sound was fresh and exciting, and the science fiction tale that it accompanied was completely captivating. I had always thought that Wayne's TWOTW was well ahead of its time. The music was apt for the script which was well-written and nicely paced. I loved it from then on. (Loved it so much that I found a way to use it in a school program during Social Studies week. I had some willing classmates perform Spirit of Man, a brave effort which turned out pathetically (pardon to the soul of H.G. Wells, he must have turned in his grave, LOL), no thanks to a crappy sound system and low tech cassette recording. *wistful sigh*) It was only a year or so ago when I realized that the journalist-narrator was actually Richard Burton. How can one not listen raptly to such a voice as his? I didn't even know until recently that the musical adaptation was a commercial success, topping the charts and winning awards. To date it has sold 13 million copies worldwide.

I just heard that hurray hurray, this very same musical will be performed live in concert halls soon. Richard Burton will himself resurrect his role as the narrator - or more aptly, the producers will resurrect Richard Burton from the dead, in holographic form, to narrate while a string orchestra and solo vocalists perform the music and high tech visuals play on giant video screens. Can you imagine burton's 3d head floating on stage, performing? now that is science fiction! The initial plan included five 30-foot Martian fighting machines, flying machines and the Thunder Child frigate on stage, but that might change. People say some of the venues do not seem big enough to accomodate such large scale models. But ah, the thought of this all! Hearing the music live, that alone would be a treat! *ears wiggling in excitement*

The cast of the live tour will include Tara Blaise (who I'm unfamiliar with) as Beth, Chris Thompson (doesn't ring a bell either) as The Voice of Humanity from Thunder Child, and in a most intriguing turn as far as his career is concerned, Russell Watson as Parson Nathaniel. Spirit of Man is one of my favorite tracks (along with The Eve of the War, Forever Autumn, and Thunder Child). Having Russell play the despairing curate should prove very interesting. Very tricky role, singing and acting as a man who loses faith and sanity. The counterpart, visionary Artilleryman will be played by Alexis Jaymes (who I have not heard of, either. Anyway, anybody interested in more info on the cast should check the official TWOTW site).

Too bad I live at the other side of the hemisphere, there's little hope of watching this live. Thank goodness at least that they're planning to release it in dvd! *smacks lips in anticipation*

Related links:

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

You are invited to a book launch

When: Jan. 27, 2006, Friday, 4:30 pm
Where: Natividad G. Fajardo Conference Room, De La Costa Hall,
Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City
What: Launching of the new series of Philippine Studies and the Special Literary Issue 2005

Ten years ago, poet/critic Emmanuel Torres, after Philippine Studies came out with its literary issue, remarked on how featuring creative writing through the journal

"would be doing a morale-boosting service to writers who have kept faith in the literary text as we know it in an age increasingly hooked on video, pricey comic books, graphic novels, the Magic Eye mania, and the interactive games of computer technology. "

He further noted that "it is a service certainly welcome in a milieu where the media give far greater attention to the visual and performance arts than to literature."

I am of a generation caught in such an age. Alright, the Magic Eye mania is passe -- I have taken my share of near cross-eyed stare sessions and all that, and I have drawn the line at interactive games, after realizing how I had spent so much time in completing two role-playing games (cherished experiences both, mind you) years ago, but as for video and graphic novels, I am completely in thrall. I don't see why these and literature can't go together. Imo, there IS a lot of good writing to be found in movies, tv and graphic novels if one knows where to look (no thanks to Pinoy soap operas though, bleh).

I have two poems in this Philippine Studies Literary Issue. One takes off from a favorite graphic novel, the other relates to technology and the question of making connections in a borderless world.

Philippine Studies is the oldest academic journal in the country. Aside from poems, the literary issue also features short stories and creative nonfiction pieces from the likes of Ramon Sunico, Krip Yuson, Ricardo de Ungria, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Gemino Abad, and many more. Published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press, the Philippine Studies Literary Issue 2005 is edited by Dr. Soledad S. Reyes and co-edited by Dr. Rofel G. Brion. In the introduction, Dr. Reyes notes that the 60 contributions collectively celebrate the act of writing against the odds and "offer a clear window to the world" of contemporary works with all the challenges and tensions attendant to the attempt to express or approximate experience, and to "locate the self in an increasingly globalized and complicated world."

Come one, come all, people. You are all invited!

[The literary issue as well as other Philippine Studies issues will be available at the launch venue, and the Ateneo Press bookshop afterwards (4265984, 4261238, 4266001 ext 4613, 4614).]

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Who needs sleep? *groan*

It appears that the pain I've been experiencing at the back of my head, neck and shoulders is related to a somewhat low blood pressure (i.e., it's still normal, but in the lower range). Consequently, the doctor prescribed painkillers, rest and more sleep. Ack, why do we need to sleep at all anyway. Now more sleep means less blogging. (Yeah right, as if I had been blogging all this time. *sigh*) So. Because it's 11pm now I have to do a quickie. No insightful, groundbreaking revelations on the eve of my birthday. That will have to wait (meaning I'll write down the revelation when I actually get it. Who knows when that will be? *quip*).

Might as well post an oldie, a digital collage I made last year, a pastiche consisting of a poem, a drawing, and a couple of photographs:

A hack dreams of Klimtian Viggo / Viggoesque Klimt
October, 2004

[View larger.]

Monday, January 23, 2006

Saturday, January 07, 2006

And what about the Canon Rebel XT?

Postscript: Some notes on the Canon Rebel XT. For those who have been asking me how I liked the Rebel XT (which my brother lent me during my trip): Very much indeed, I fell in love with it after 10 minutes of usage! Ehehe. Kidding aside, I found it easy to handle, as the contours of the body fit snugly in my hands. Start-up was amazingly fast (my G2 has an abominably slow start-up in comparison) – I could have easily captured any moment as I spotted it, if only my fingers worked as fast as my brain did. Naturally it was a tad heavy, considering how accustomed I have become to carrying a compact *slouch*, but the extra weight is nothing when you consider the added versatility and creative potential. (Except at extremely cold weathers, a coat and layers of clothing, plus a bag, a camera, and a tripod do bring strangulation to mind.) Moreover, the batteries seem to last forever, ah yesssss. *contented sigh* Can't say much for the image stabilizer except that it's nifty, I didn't have much camera shake (duh). Wasn't able to conduct any intelligent tests to check out exactly how useful it was to me. Too bad I didn’t have the camera long enough to test its many other features. *hint maybe? ehehe*

However, there was this slight annoyance: the XT sometimes had a hard time focusing on scenes with harsh lighting, say landscape shots. I have had to switch to manual focusing at such times. Is it the camera body or is it the lens? (You’re not looking at a technically savvy shooter here, see.) Last month Jim told me about a certain Canon 17-85mm IS lens review, the same one I used with the XT (silly me I didn’t even get to test my Vivitar wide angle with it *slaps self for forgetting*). It seems the same flaws reported in the article can be seen in my pictures. *sigh*

First off, there seems to be a slight vignetting in the Caesar’s palace lion pic, most visible at the upper righthand corner. Aperture was f5.6. It is more noticeable at f4 and a focal length of 17mm, as reported in the review and as seen in this Caesar’s Palace pic. I’m not sure whether the distortion in the same pic (check out the line of the roof and the building to the left) is normal given the angle at which I was holding the camera? I also noticed a bit of flaring with some night shots such as in this one.

So (whether I illustrated that correctly or not) it isn't perfect apparently (at least the Rebel XT and 17-85mm IS lens combo), but I'm happy with how fast it focuses under normal lighting, and the noise level which seems acceptable even at higher ISOs, such as in this pic taken at ISO 400. Noise and grain seem passable even at ISO 800 (which doesn't necessarily mean that they are passable to you guys. Maybe I have low standards.). And of course I am tickled pink at being able to go as small as f16, f22.

Not to disparage my beloved G2, though. I am very happy also with its Vegas performance, such as in this and this shot. I only wish the same could be said of its performance in interiors. Yeah yeah right, it's time I got an external flash unit.

Fear and Loathing (not!) in Las Vegas

Far be it for me to say no to a trip anywhere, so when my cousins asked if I wanted to go with them to Las Vegas, hey ho never mind that I’m not a uhm casino aficionado *ahem*, the image of the Vegas Strip alone was enough of an inducement (maybe I have been watching too much CSI)! Obviously there would be lots and lots of lights, ah yesssusssusss I can practice with long exposures! *rubs fingers together excitedly*

I counted on it being garish, loud, gaudy, ridiculously ostentatious and flabbergastingly fake. What I didn’t count on was that I’d have such fun photographing the sights. And I didn’t even get to see a fourth of The Strip, tsk tsk. But no matter, the 250-mile, 4.5 hour trip (that’s one way) was worth it. I spent only a short time taking pictures (around 3 hours all in all in one night), the first hour with my aunt, poor unsuspecting dear who didn’t know what she was getting into, and a couple of hours alone till midnight while my cousins were making pindot the machines at Harrah’s.

At sundown we crossed the walkway from Flamingo to Caesar’s Palace, which I didn’t explore much as I had already spotted The Paris Hotel and Bellagio and wanted to concentrate on these by the time it started to get dark. (Am not as great a fan of Roman architecture as I am of Gothic and Baroque in any case.) Early on as we approached The Strip (aka Las Vegas Boulevard), seeing it even from afar, I instantly had a liking for The Bellagio. Tacky it certainly was not. To my delight I found out that the fountain show would be starting in several minutes. So I clicked away happily as we waited (I think by this time it was starting to dawn on my aunt what exactly our stroll would entail ehehe).

What with its 1,200 nozzles and 4,500 lights, the show did not fail to impress. I was so busy fiddling with my cameras, fitting the G2 into the tripod and then the Rebel XT, trying out different shutter speeds, shifting the camera vertically, then back horizontally, making sure no one would accidentally shove my equipment into the water in front of me, checking my bag from time to time, there was so much to mind that I forgot what the music was. I do remember that it was lovely music (classical most probably), and the water moved gracefully in tune with it. Fifteen minutes later (which means I spent that much time photographing The Paris Hotel across the street), as we walked towards the hotel on the left side, the fountains again began to dance, this time to the strains of Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli singing Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye), which I happen to like a lot. *sigh* It was beautiful. I don’t like using the word but alright -- it was awesome. (Go here to view clips of the show.)

I didn’t get to take as many pics inside the Bellagio (spent some minutes window shopping at the art gallery *grin*), didn’t even get to go to the Conservatory (I sometimes get an urge to kick myself for that but hey, it’s not as if I didn’t enjoy what else I saw – maybe next time) because we had to meet up with my cousins for dinner.

After dinner, I announced that I would take a walk alone, seeing as how my aunt was a tad tired from the ordeal earlier *guilty grin*. We spent some time waiting for the volcano at The Mirage, but it turned out to be so-so. Or maybe I was distracted, because I was raring to go and check out The Venetian (if I can’t see the real Venice I might as well practice shooting replicas, right?). As it turned out, I spent all of two hours there, and I didn’t even get to see everything (*sigh* so many photo opps, so little time).

I stood and took pics in front of the fake Doge’s Palace for some time, then went up to take in a view of the surrounding buildings from the balcony. I made a nuisance of myself as I took a picture of my reflection on a glass window (it was too much of a bother to pick a random stranger I could maybe trust to take my picture, who knows huh?) -- people hesitated about walking in front of the camera *giggle*, wondering what on earth I found so interesting about a dark glass panel (I did overhear one bloke explaining to his friend what I was doing, though).

Having done that, and shivering a bit by this time (it was around 45, 50 degrees maybe), I entered the hotel, observing a long queue for the Tao nightclub, walked on a bit more, and hah! It was absolutely disorienting, coming in from the dark to find myself at a piazza under a fake cerulean blue sky! (I confess I did no research whatsoever before going, bad imogen, but hey, the shock was worth it. The sensation stayed with me long after.) As I closed my mouth (I think I gasped for a couple of seconds) and my eyes began to adjust to the brightness, I looked up and noticed the circular notches in the fake ceiling (notches? nodes? protuberations? whatever). Authentic-looking sky my foot, it felt as authentic as the advertisement-covered Campanile outside. Which does not mean I didn’t enjoy it, mind. I walked on a bit more and saw what I had been looking for – the fake Grand Canal (more like Wee Canal), complete with gondolieri belting out O Sole Mio as they navigated the narrow canal. So I clicked away, made a couple of vidz, then sat down to soak in the artificial ambience, texting a few friends (I had a compulsion to thumb-type “fake” over and over LOL; and yes, there’s no such word, I invented it just now alright). At the bench next to mine, a Pinoy was talking to his wife, speculating on what kind of people went to Vegas and why. Before I headed back to meet up with my cousins, I checked out the Canal Shoppes (a mixture of spiffy, garish and snooty as can be) which were not exactly all that Venetian *cough*.

I then met up with my companions at Harrah's and as we walked back to Flamingo where we had parked, I spotted a couple slumped by the sidewalk, sleeping. The woman was leaning toward her male companion. Both were rather unkempt. Next to them was a recently-emptied packet of Doritos and a large soda tumbler. If I were keen on people photography I would have snapped one, but I’m not and I don’t much like recording images of misery. Did they come to Vegas with some money, expectant and excited, did they hit the casinos, win some, lose a lot, did they then have nothing left to pay for a hotel room and a decent meal? Were they drunk, desperate, doomed to keep trying to get back some cash, maybe just enough to make a sizable bet, win an amount significant enough to bring back a bit of hope of better days? Hope comes at a high price in Las Vegas once you start to lose it. Isn’t that what it sells, whether it be in the form of slot machines, baccarat and poker tables, roulettes, pounds of flesh and mounds of silicon, dressed in fancy lights and displays, dazzling advertisements and enticements screaming at you as soon as you cross the stateline? Just then I remembered how I had not had a chance to do the slots.

We spent the morning of the next day shopping at the outlets (found a pair of waterproof hiking boots yayy) and lunching (buffet for $7) at a Chinese restaurant. Afterwards, whereas cousin C and her family headed back to California, cousin L, Auntie C and I braved through the afternoon Strip traffic to get to the Las Vegas Hilton. I then took a last bid at shooting from the windshield (I think maybe one fourth of all my images were done this way, LOL). So it was only then that I got to gawk at the horrid MGM lion (didn’t get to see much of the Luxor as traffic was faster at that end), Lady Liberty flanked by a roller coaster, the colorful Excalibur castle, and the delightful Gameworks façade. Now as to why we were headed towards the Hilton, well that’s another story for another post * cough* Star Trek* cough* ;-)

So that’s the story, lots more pics are at my filphoto Vegas online album. Check them out and keep clicking on `em as I uploaded large sized images, the better to inspect, examine, or critique. :-)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Pssssst California-based people!

Friends, relatives, anyone! If you happen to swing by the Sta. Monica area next week or so *cough*Jan 14 would be a good day* ahem* till Feb. 14, there's an art exhibit you might want to check out *cough*going on opening day would be very good*ahem*can you take piccies for me pretty please?*ahem* in my stead, if no one else's ehehehe (clickie to enlarge invites):

George Gudni is an Icelandic artist who does gorgeous landscape paintings and photographs. His latest book, Strange Familiar, was recently published by Perceval Press (which is owned by Viggo). Viggo's abstract photographs will be on exhibit from what I gather. His newest book is Linger. I like some of his abstract colored photographs such as this:

Pukerua Bay by Viggo Mortensen

Quite beautiful, isn't it? More info about the exhibit and sample pics at the Track 16 website.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A coupl'a thousand more to go...

Who ever said going digital would make life easier? *sigh* I am writing this down here to pressure myself into sitting down and starting to organize my photographs. If anything can pressure me into finally doing it, it's when I verbalize an intention. Well, okay, the probability that I will do it will be much higher. *cough* Yeah, yeah, I did say I would work on my Yosemite pics over the holidays. *guilty grin* Turned out I spent a couple of days in Baguio so ehrm I didn't get to do it. I started on some other batch of pics today thinking I'd be able to put them online but oh time is short and I'm a slowpoke (you try to plow through a couple o' hundred pictures, let's see how you do), so I'm not even done with them yet. *toothy grin*

Here's one from the batch I will soon be posting. There's that annoying slab at the lower right side of the lamp post, tsk tsk... I didn't notice it at the time because I had my aunt behind groaning from the ordeal I was putting her through, LOL. (The ordeal being her mistake to go with me on a shoot. ;-) Sorry Auntie, but hey, I got nice pictures of us, huh? *whispers* The poor dear said she didn't want to be photographed but she forgot that immediately after she saw a large Celine Dion poster outside Caesar's Palace, ehehehe.)

Le prime luci
Across the Bellagio, Las Vegas

Monday, January 02, 2006

Butiking pilak

Lizard pendant in sterling silver,
from the Baguio City public market

The lizard is a common design motif in articles from the Cordillera region. In Igorot mythology it is known to be the messenger of the gods, a link between the spirit world and the earth. Among the lizard's powers is autotomy, the ability to cut off its tail in the face of danger, and to subsequently regenerate a new one. The lizard symbolizes longevity and healing.

(Click here for larger image.)

Soon to make its voyage to my reptile-loving friend :-)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Blogger me this, this is not a confessional

I find this very apt to start the new year. Very special thanks to my friend G who found it and gave it to me along with a gorgeous set of gifts ;-) Beyond this I say nothing further.

What's in My Journal
by William Stafford

Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean
things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.
But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.
Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous
discards. Space for knickknacks, and for
Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify.
Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected
anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind
that takes genius. Chasms in character.
Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above
a new grave. Pages you know exist
but you can't find them. Someone's terribly
inevitable life story, maybe mind.