Lacquer

I finally managed to pull off my favorite roasted chicken recipe! I made it twice this month, amid the avian flu outbreaks in Pampanga, and here are my takeaways:

  • I managed to drown the first chicken in marinade, basting it ever so often throughout the day, that it became too watery. It had so much water content that it took some time for the chicken to be really done. I'm not a stickler with recipes: sometimes I just do a glance of the ingredients and rarely follow the steps, so when I reread it I knew I should have just brushed the chicken once and leave it to dry in the fridge. Drying the chicken for days is key to a crispier skin. Drowning it in marinade is not the key for a good chicken.
  • The second time I did it, I followed the instructions except for the 24-hour limit - I only marinated the two chickens for twelve hours, shoved it in the oven for exactly one hour at 200 degrees, and it's always cooked through. It was so good, my mom-in-law was calling us about the recipe!

Hi there

In the middle of an Italo Calvino story called Adam, One Afternoon I thought: the simplest stories stump me. It's true: the easiest reads are the most difficult pieces to write. This story was such a short, wonderful read - it even echoes my favorite Calvino, the Argentine Ant.

Grip, stand, throw


I remember an officemate from two years ago who just beamed at me while I was humming to the tune of this song. It's that flash of recognition - and (it sounds mushy but believe me it's not) connection. Years from now, I would still remember that moment. I had this concept once, which I shared to a friend back in college, called 'one-day friends'. It perfectly explains that beam - and the connection I had with this guy whom I've rarely spoken to in an Asian History class named Kulas. He's an upperclassman - I think that was his last semester. He had this really baggy pants I liked, because in the vast expanse of khaki was this red patch on one of the knees that looked spray-painted or something, and I thought it was cool. (Everything different was cool when you're 16; the fact that he signs his signature upside-down on attendance sheets!) During our field trip we went to Buddhist temples, and when we were all going back to Laguna I said I will probably alight somewhere near an LRT station. Kulas got down (was it raining that day?) and asked if I know where Buendia was. I told him to follow me, and for the rest of the train ride I was careful to lead him - he said he's not from Manila, and he said he wanted to go to a concert that afternoon. He said thanks when he got down at Buendia station.

Invoices

But he was harder to get a bead on than other critics she had encountered.
the sniping and sordid activity of men who wanted to be in control
My feeling was that there was a pecking order and there was an unacknowledged hierarchy, and at the top of it was Shirley’s family
no movie-watching experience is ever complete without the sight of tomatoes smooshed into the pavement
If you did not wish to subscribe, then it must have been some nefarious spam-bot
recent cinematic dud “Pixels” pitched a video-game aficionado against an identity parade of musty video-game characters
video games gave Clune a place in which to explore his nascent identity
omething unsettling, and even grotesque, about works that extol the effects of video games without reservation
Clune’s mother stands in the doorway of his childhood bedroom in a terrible tizz
The campaign is treacle-sweet sentimentality of the first order
plainclothes detectives descended upon Tokyo’s upscale Ginza neighborhood to arrest a group of teen-agers
Only unrepentant rebels experimented with American looks
worked as a masterstroke of promotion: retailers warmed up to VAN
If a series is telling a story that matters to us, the loss of a main character can be jarring but generative
tastes like a gussied-up dorm-room cocktail and drinks like the regrettable make-out session that ensues: inconsistent, awkward, and unnecessarily sloppy
For freelancers, getting stiffed is part of the job
fried until puffed and then sugared until it poses a threat to shirtfronts, be anything less than a miracle
standfirst: an introductory paragraph in an article, printed in larger or bolder type or in capitals, that summarizes the article

Hoteliers


There are two things I like about The Night Clerk (Avant l'aube). First is how it used the recurring shots of roads snaking its way up the mountains not just as a way to flesh out the setting, but also as a visual cue for the crime.

The second, done masterfully, is the ending - eerily similar to Cache (Hidden) in terms of tone, mood and abruptness. While most psychological thrillers pile up clues throughout the film to solve a mystery (in this case, the death of Raphael Cassany), this film isn't concerned about coming up with a resolution that would satisfy its audience and exonerate the protagonist. We already know the roads are all pointing to the right direction: the investigator knows about the dissolution of Arnaud and Julie's marriage (through a shot of them arguing in the snow, with Julie walking away) and about the promotion and the Audi that was given to the night clerk Frederic by Jacques, the hotel owner. (In an interview, the investigator also found out that connection between Raphael and Jacques, with Raphael being a real estate developer looking for hotels to buy out, and Jacques, who had no intention to sell.)

The last scene, where the investigator asks her team to find out who ran the errand to buy wine that fateful night of the accident, is the last piece of the puzzle - as it would implicate the real suspect, the hotel owner's son, Arnaud. But the clincher didn't happen in the film. It made me think that maybe the film is not about the crime itself as it is about the 'fall' of Frederic Boissier - this time, in a more heinous crime of murder - and that the implication of Arnaud, if it happens, wouldn't absolve Frederic. The bitter truth is: Frederic Boissier would spend years in jail. Arnaud would probably be convicted of manslaughter, with his father Jacques as an accomplice, but the film already ended, and we are all left to wonder what will happen. Isn't this the stuff great films are made of: the enduring relevance, the puzzle that itches to be solved longer after the credits ended?

July 21, 2012

I tried reading Brautigan, and then Moore. I wish I could tell you what the overarching intention is, how it was not written in Filipino, how I wanted to feel the pain in the different way. It's very much like watching a death sentence on TV when I was in third grade, that despite the situation, the metal bed, the eerie footage, I even managed to ask what's wrong. Sometimes I catch myself thinking too much while telling you not to think too much, and it's just like trying to tell somebody I was trying to tell you to somebody. That Brautigan bit with the film, but mine is slouched on the sofa, in front of a footage of, say Echegaray. Then the rain comes, and it's time most of us look out of our windows and rest our moist eyes. Most of what I've written, you said, is not about you, or your resemblance. But I've read you everywhere, have made you become some sort of a compass, so that every book I've read becomes a dressing room to try things out. (In Moore, you were Silsby Anne Chausee.) "That's not the way her arms would puff out of that sleeve," I would say. The problem is not that you don't know how to smile, it's probably just the timing. Yes, we can both blame it, we can wash our hands from it. We have punched our time cards the wrong way. Maybe some tea is perfect, some crackers, an ashtray! The one in mauve.

Leviathan

A lady with a pink bag with little polka dots that made it look like candy, or sugared doughnut, with a woolly blouse and fitted pants at the bus breezed through the pages of a book with a chapter, Day 5995. She closed it after what must be a thirty-minute traffic, and there it was, David Levithan. She unspools her earphones and jacked it in her ears.

October 15, 2014

The taxi driver and I was chuckling about it. "I thought it was you he was screaming at," I said - there he was this other taxi driver who was fuming with rage when the other taxi (which I chose, since he sped, cut the other taxi, and stopped right in front of me) I ignored one rainy Monday night. We had a good laugh, fraternal, even, as if reminiscing about a snotty playmate. For the entire ride we were chuckling about it, and I got down at Gil Puyat station, bought a family-sized cinnamon bun at Mimipan, crossed the street to chase the last bus to Los Baños, and in their reclining chairs I slept towards home.

Paseo

At Paseo bus she reads Edgar Calabia Samar's Walong Diwata ng Pag-ibig. Zuccheri paper bag with Lactasoy carton and a fan, black leather handbag, silver wristwatch, shades concealing her eyes. Not sure if she's still reading, though she flips a page every now and then, unfazed even if inertia sets the book off her hands, at times it shows the first page, dated with name and time that she first read it, her face smooth, elfin, androgynous, a nice tuft of short hair, a pointed chin, earphones plugged in, her polo the same shade of powder blue with mine, hers only with less creases.

March 12, 2014

had tried and rejected as a grown-up and had consigned, perhaps foolishly, to the compost heap of history
My only gripe would be the absence of oyster gelato
their predilections are as rooted as redwoods, as fixed as eye color
so, miraculously, did papayas. They became dirty socks with blissful associations: a whole new hosiery.
But it emerged as a fine-dining staple, so he muscled through his negative feelings
seats sagged like the jowls of a bulldog
a prowling cat appeared to be hunting mice
a buxom girl with the scrappy features of a prizefighter, seemed to have tacitly agreed to flirt
were dressed for a parade—many ribbons, much brass, and some wore gleaming, improbable swords strapped to their belts
hair that had a dark shine, lips the color of pimientos, eyes like sherry
sloshing earthen jars of water and furrily squalling “Agua! Agua!”
the doctor went so solidly to sleep that a fly meandered undisturbed over his openmouthed face. Stillness etherized the whole train
 the lovely girls leaned against one another loosely, like six exhausted geraniums
thinking of this when, without preface, a spatter of gunfire strafed the dozy silence
The result was slapstick in a grim key
hiked up her skirts and dropped a pearl-studded comb into her bloomers
The train moved on so slowly that butterflies blew in and out the windows
a subterranean den of wood panelling and curated kitsch
a smoked-catfish-and-pork spread that sounds horrible but tastes wonderful as a dip for market crudités
dipped into a galangal sauce, and popped into your mouth
Two innocent-looking dishes vie for the title of spiciest
 coconut-milk dressing, with a slow-building, long-lingering burn
In spite of the owners’ serious culinary pedigree
The room has a by now familiar louche appeal (peeling paint, tin ceiling), but haphazardness is less charming from a bartender
expands its menu to serve lipsmacking Taiwanese cuisine
He said, “Jay,” then, “Guess who’s sick?,” then blinked and concluded, “Murray Cutler.”
could not turn away from my mother’s imploring face
behind a glass partition with a slid-aside window opening onto a counter, like someone selling bus tickets
 His head was canted to the side
there remained in his shrunken body a distinct intelligence, like an intimation of heat
young woman from his office had followed and cowered next to him
Mimi nyama, wewe kisu
 they’d scoot over and hold on to one another, all mashed cheek to jowl like puppies in a box
This sixty-page, plainspoken story benefits from a kind of understatement
they are a mutually supportive trio of strivers, musketeering their way toward a kind of art celebrity
provides a two-page pen-and-ink map of Falls, population currently six thousand,
 the author has a mostly plausible verbal gusher
has more or less forsaken the big city for the small town
generally talks with the kind of heightened articulacy one finds in people possessed of artistic temperament rather than talent
 A fat feline nuzzles his leg in a self-portrait
hobnobbed with the literary and artistic élites
learned to soft-pedal the latter quality after his first gallery
have become period curios
that picture proves to be a minor skirmish in an amazingly varied and sustained assault on the complacencies of common sense
as a pioneer in the new world of forthrightly irrational, waking dreams
Brits who want access to the seamier corners of the Internet
 like the most determined bridesmaid at a bouquet toss
People’s youthful quirks can harden into adult pathologies
can claim to be officially, absolutely and at long last back in the animation saddle
ramen amped up with pats of butter and a whisper of soy
Some stipulations: First, miso-aged egg yolk
will thicken slightly and take on a deep satin brown.
his paper only rubber-stamped a raft of commercial products already on the market
most diverse and brassiest city in the country
the black and white of winter blasted away by intense, saturated hues.
corrupt, exiled and jailed are all common collocates (of oligarch)
behind London’s Daily Mail, with its celebrity gossip and abundant cleavage
millions of meaningless cacophonies, verbal farragoes, and babblings
and then to flank it with “No Trespassing” signs.
sales consist mainly of collections of ornate furnishings and bibelots for well-heeled apartments
elevating it from pedestrian fast food to something worth sitting down and waiting for
a thrilling departure from the usual mush of grilled veggies
The red quilted-leather banquettes make not cuddling a near-impossibility, and, in a nod to the date-heavy clientele
 you fear that someone might actually bust out some rose petals. But all this studied sexiness is diminished
It might have pleased Kelley, who gloried in being an underdog and chafed at his international fame as the artist laureate of the punk generation
grew up in a suburb of Detroit and marinated in the music scene that gave the world Iggy and the Stooges. He brought west with him a bitterly humorous, worm’s-eye view
Quaking sensitivity and a rigorous intellect inform the work, which resolves the Warholian conundrum of high versus low by embracing the irredeemably squalid
upended the dewy narcissisms of hippies
tapped a brackish geyser of blue-collar humor by filling art spaces with the sorts of raucously obscene cartoons that adorn garage offices
Shelia’s sap coursed with intent
year of wasted pollen, of the gentle yellow cloud that fell from her, only to be assailed by street sweepers
Summer jobs are often romantic; the time frame creates a perfect parenthesis
routine seemed Sisyphean at first
This close shave made me wonder
was “kind of cute,” and the project was green-lighted
to keep me in the vague distance—a bushel of blond hair at a piano
Periodically, I’d be called back to the set, to mime seasonal enthusiasm
always on the qui vive for employment

February 22, 2014

plumb in the sweet spot
the fantastic menagerie that is human biological diversity
has given various Delphic answers to reporters
 “It is strange to see people fishing where we had the cows,” Mr. Diaz said. “Victor could not bear it.”
sky as blue as a paint sample
would put real teeth to the F.B.I.’s claims that it wants better relationships
Programs became makeshift fans
with booming enthusiasm and granular-level obsession
The shampoo has the same amber hue, the same sudsy lather and
hardly a font of good cheer during the six-week wait
my head still feels as if it is full of ground fog, wrapped in flannel and gauze, and surrounded by a hive of humming, velvety sleep bees
Parliament rubber-stamped his desires
its canny creator, this conception of the presidency edged into the mythic
the world is full to bursting with bad novels and even worse poems that sprang from conditions of clampdown and woe
informed by a few efficient closeup
also hinted at a dastardly plot
she stiffens when lambasting her child
a handful of desperadoes tussle to survive
on strops of might-have-beens
grenade-gravid
many painful minutes of elevator silence after my grandmother
“Why? Because being old is terrible.” Beat. “And I am very old.”
He laughed, then quickly sobered
yet derided as a bacchanalia of waste and corruption
thousands of expenses salted through Russian federal budgets
seemed a pas de deux of either poor design and Olympian waste
Seoul’s increasingly well-heeled residents
has held a place as thrifty pantry staple, culinary joke and kitschy fare for hipsters without ever losing its low-rent reputation
stylish boxes with cans of Spam nestled inside
harried Korean mothers revel in the convenience of opening a can and serving a breakfast of pan-fried Spam with eggs
cachet was obvious in a recent television commercial
richer South Koreans turn up their noses at the canned
Factor in inflation, and he has lost ground
what I know wouldn’t fill a golf-ball dimple
bespectacled lecturers futzing with the overhead projector to the
where it’s no more fraught to suck a public bongload than an after-dinner mint
jotting notes at a stenographic rate
can almost hear a delicate shardwork of baffling human etiquette crystallizing in the air
seed-studded ditch weed you could smoke by the bale
not an assignment I greet with unalloyed relish
vaguely Asiatic eyes who emanates Holland’s national mien of low-affect geniality
lurches, walleyed and florid, for the door
woman in a soigné leather jacket and cat’s-eye librarian specs
Rubbing my thumb against my forefingers rouses little rat turds of hashish
as a prophylactic against embezzlement
pleased to report a marked diminishment of the rookie-dope-barista jimjams
bird-dogging customers this morning with sprightly mercantile gusto
I feel clairvoyant, adrenalized, and full of bonhomie
at least empowered to lace your Big Mac with spittle or pubic hair
reactionaries still frantically piling policy sandbags against the fissured dike of American cannabis laws
One car slowed so the driver could catcall me
The docent and I exchanged information
360 days a year” is Deen’s offhand tally
Industry plaudits aside, Deen has managed an order of renown far rarer
in which he dragoons pretty ladies into tonguing his caboose
will be riding shotgun in Deen’s utterly bitching
brooking so much unremitting daily friction
no more ambient prurience than you’d find at an ad shoot
dragging lighting rigs and attending to last-minute particulars
Click goes the little scene-marker guillotine, the “sticks.”
fetches some paper towels and sponges up the squalid whey that has pooled about her knees
no overbulked squat-thruster spray-broasted
porn was being exclusively consumed by sex criminals and raincoaters
salting that thrill was a Lovelace-ian paratext of unhappiness
spread-eagles on the edge of the bed, and Deen commences a kalimba move on her vulva
in a guttural lock-jawed patois intelligible to no one
go back to the full and flagrant penetrative churn
Kayden snorts in mock umbrage. “I’ll rape you
feat of psychosexual contortionism he was limbering up for at an age when the rest of us had yet to tie our own shoelaces
parents are both, after a fashion, rocket scientists
soigné manner in which he liked to pinch-cup a cigarette
is vanilla, Kink.com is decidedly rocky road
not a mere preference or lark but a controlling obsession
deeds that have surely soiled the upholstery
After some back-and-forth, Deen roots out the source of the perplexity
hocks lubricative loogies into the pistonworks going full-bore
Proxy’s breathing is stertorous, rapid, pre-infarctatory
Between takes they carp lightheartedly at each other
sets about the destruction so ardently—tearing wainscoting, shattering the television
a word-for-word send-up of the scaremongering
whose immaculate blondeness and avian features lend her a passing resemblance
are about demonstrating a nose-to-the-grindstone determination to try anything to stay together
a menagerie of rescued animals--four dogs and two cats, whom she talks to frequently, ventriloquiIing their responses
no sense of slog in the tasting menu, no wave of terror with the petit fours
an elevated take on tacos and French onion dip
like the room, all blond Scandinavian timber
gaggle of interns sat around
topics ranging from evergreen style tips
has worked at breakneck pace
have picked up the feminist mantle of providing counter-programming to the big glossies
which they felt stinted on coverage of Bay Area teams
holding a growler of beer
decided to jump up on the pop-up bandwagon
Unwitting passersby occasionally boud in hoping for a sandwich
pour wine and bus tables
miniature tumblers of earthy, fragrant chilled tomato-carrot soup, bobbing with cold Sungolds
Bowls of creamy al-dente risotto came with layers of raw mandolined button mushrooms, which cooked gently when bathed, tableside, with molten brown butter
Baskets of warm bread earned a course of their own
showcasing springy sourdough
sweet potato leaves fashioned
a medley of crunchy seeds
an after-work crowd swarms the sawdust-covered taproom
Suspendered barkeeps ladle grog from festive punch bowls into proper teacups
Tender meat redolent of wood smoke and citrus
A welter of concrete barriers marked the entrance
who frittered away much of his fortune through a series of bad investments
 a dirigible crossing the horizon
mistakenly be read as simple gossip, with glittering names in bold face
Church’s coddling of sexually abusive priests and its evasion
urging them to tamp down the brusqueness and bullying. No more theological stop-and-frisk
he gives short shrift to what a difference a smile and a shrug make
fustiest definitions of sin, but
exclusionary rules and harping about penance
The world has no glut of these
guest made an offhand joke about Internet porn
when things got dicey. Without missing a beat, the husband deadpanned
workshop was like a muffin tin you poured the batter of your dreams into
The term was a kind of smackdown
was the linchpin of the story
likened the crying of a baby to the squeaking of a rusty hinge
was swatting at realities and phantoms in a medley of awesome magnificence
intensely at work upon the recalcitrant stuff of life
ever since, in his salad days, he was entranced
boring, unpeopled intersection, where a moon tower
are not, as it turns out, beacons for late-night keggers
making kittenish support videos and sporting an “I only date Super Heroes” T-shirt
had filleted Hollande’s shenanigans on his show
been trundled off to the love guillotine
documented all the little aquamarine ovals and rectangles
around how unsettlingly easy it was for them to locate
boy shivered on land, lips blue and knees knocking
explaining this and other puzzles in a way accessible to nonspecialists. Packed with clever metaphors
waste breath talking smack about something
alone at his desk, shoring up fragments against his ruin
developed a crisp, allusive, grad-school-infused Twitter voice
sometimes he undercuts the image with bursts of silliness
By some peculiar osmosis, what happens in management seminars keeps infecting normal speech
Hoisted and dragged through the halls and out to the curb
the legacy of sweets in the shape of a boy
It was like throwing paint at a fan: first here, then there, sugar turning up
in XXL tracksuits trundling along in electric carts
which prescribes egregious collocations of vocables as the Basic
cannot play ducks and drakes with a native battery of idioms
cannot continue indefinitely to be traduced in the eyes or rather ears
no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed
more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse
at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry
are used to dignify the sordid process of international politics
gumming together long strips of words
an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink
one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases
which do not square with the professed aims
largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness
A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details
like a cuttlefish spurting out ink
a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow
every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain
long list of flyblown metaphors which
to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind

Alternative ending #1

It was 7 p.m., and the restaurant was empty. I was taking her to my favorite place in the city, informal but charming, with plastic tables and chairs outside, and sometimes live music. It has the best pizza.

I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a date in forever, and María, a student in electrical engineering, had a ponytail and red lipstick. What if I ran out of things to talk about? What do you talk about on a date when your country is collapsing? Outside that restaurant, outside that bubble I wanted to get into that night, people were dying in the streets fighting President Nicolás Maduro’s bloody authoritarianism.

I live in Ciudad Guayana, an industrial city in northeastern Venezuela. The opposition isn’t very strong here, and the turnout for local protests hasn’t been great. Most of the action that’s been making headlines happens in Caracas, the capital. But I’ve talked to people who carried the body of a protester killed by the police in a town nearby, and to a man who was tortured by the authorities.

I’ve had a tough time myself. Even young professionals like me have been going hungry, and my older brother almost died from an allergic reaction because we couldn’t find an injection to give him. So I’ve joined the marches to the courthouses, to demand respect for the Constitution, ask for the release of protesters who have been arrested and honor those who have died.

That Tuesday last week I needed a break, I needed that date. The following Sunday the government was going to hold a bogus referendum to create a constituent assembly, giving it unlimited power to change the Constitution. Things were only going to get worse.

“You’re the first ones to arrive. You’re almost opening the restaurant,” the owner said with a smile. “What would you like?”

He was sitting at one of the tables by himself, drinking a beer and checking his phone. His head was shaved. He wore a black T-shirt with the logo of the restaurant, the name “Portofino” in white letters with a long curly “P” that made the silhouette of a guitar. It had just stopped raining; the tables and the brick floor were wet. The street lamps there have never worked well, and the dim lighting, which might have been pleasant under other circumstances, brought out the drabness of the place. Reggae music played in the background.

“Would you like some beers? I’ve got Polar.”

“What else do you have?”

“That’s all I’ve got. The delivery truck didn’t come today.”

Source: The New York Times

Maybes