Monday, November 19, 2012

A friendly reminder from your nieghboorhood tollgate

Last Friday, we drove down to several places in the South for business. Our last stop was Binan, Laguna. I made my way to the tollgate of the Mamplasan exit, ready to hit the Northbound lane. I pick up my toll card from the window and lo and behold, some wise (extra cheesy?) words from your neighborhood toll card:

Love is a battlefield


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Philip Yancey on one of his encounters with Henry Nouwen:

"My one extended conversation with Nouwen came just after he had returned from San Francisco, where he had served for a week in an AIDS clinic... He told me what he had seen in the Castro district... Young men were dying everyday, and thousands more walked around terrified that they were carrying the virus. Even as shops displayed gaudy T-shirts and sexual products ranging from the playful to the obscene, fear hung like a fog over the streets. Not only fear, he said, but also feelings of guilt and anger and rejection.

In the clinic, Nouwen listened to personal stories. "I'm a priest -- that's my job. I listen to people's stories. They confess to me." He told me of young men banished from their own families, forced to hustle on the street. Some of them had hundreds of partners whom they had met in bathhouses, whose names they had never learned, and from one of those partners they had contracted the virus that was now killing them. Nouwen looked at me, his piercing eyes bright with compassion and pain, "Phillip, those young men were dying -- literally dying -- because of their thirst for love"... The accounts all had in common a search for a safe place, for a safe relationship, for a home, for acceptance, for unconditional love, for forgiveness.

...Through Nouwen's eyes, I saw a new way to look at such people: not as immoral and ungodly, but as thirsty -- as people dying for love. Like the Samaritan woman at the well, they had drunk their fill of water that did not satisfy. They needed Living Water. After that conversation with Nouwen, whenever I encountered someone whose behavior offended or revolted me, I would always pray, "God, help me to see this person not as repulsive, but as thirsty."

The more I prayed that prayer, the more I began to see myself on the same side as the one who had repulsed me. I, too, have nothing to offer God but my thirst. Like the elder brother in the parable [The Parable of the Prodigal Son], I can never experience the cleansing flow of God's grace or enter the family celebration if I stand outside the banquet hall, arms folded in a posture of moral superiority. God's grace comes a s free gift, but only one who has open hands can receive a gift."

                                                                                                                       (from Soul Survivor)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The kinda love you hold out for :)

From the movie Juno: Juno's dad on love - a little more graphic than usual

The 30-day mental fast

What is a mental fast?

A mental fast is a detox to the mind, the way a physical fast is a detox to the body. I learned about the mental fast, one sunny day when I popped a Jerry Clark audio on my drive to Ortigas.

It sounds simple enough, just 8 steps. And it promises a great return in 30 days. With the physical fast, you withhold food from your body to accommodate a cleanse and to sort of reset your bodily processes. With the mental fast, this is what you do for 30 days straight:
  1. No TV
  2. No Radio
  3. No Newspaper
  4. 8 glasses of water, 30 minutes of exercise everyday
  5. Avoid negative people
  6. Associate with positive people
  7. Read  inspirational, motivational books for a mnimum of 20 minutes everyday
  8. Reflect everyday for 20 minutes.
Today is my third attempt at Day 1 (please don't judge meee.) To be honest, I'm doing pretty well on some things - radio, newspaper, 8 glasses of water, negative people, positive people, and reading. To be even more honest, these are things I've already been doing prior to the fast.

To be even more honest it's not funny anymore, I'm having a bitch of a time with the TV time. My shows and I go way back and in a twisted way, it has sort of become an emotional thing. Totally eliminating it from my daily diet is like going cold turkey on a longtime tobacco habit. It probably is more severe or less severe than I put it out to be, I have no way of knowing. But in any case, this is where I fall short.

Fourth attempt at Day 1 tomorrow? :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Henry Nouwen on Writing

I'm closing in on the last chapter of what may be my most favorite book to date. I've been on Philip Yancey's "Soul Survivor" for a month now and it has been an unbelievable experience reading his work. As is always the case with me and reading great books, I'm awash with a recognizable sadness that the "journey" of reading the book is about to end.

This entry will be one of many (many many) entries I will writing about the great people, ideas, and fresh paradigms this book has gifted me with.This nugget on writing comes much later in the book, in the last chapter actually. But it resonated so much with me I cannot wait to not write about it.

This is Philip Yancey on the last chapter of the book talking about Henry Nouwen:

I read many books over the years before meeting him in person. Nouwen has been accused of having had no unpublished thought, and indeed some of his thoughts have been published more than once in different forms, and sometimes in booklets dressed up to look like books. Nevertheless, he served me as a wise older brother, a pioneer who nimbly explored trails of thought I found myself eager to follow.

"Somehow I believed that writing was one way to let something of lasting value emerge from my little, quickly passing life," Nouwen once wrote, a sentiment that expresses what every writer feels. Writing was an act of discovery for his as well as for his readers.

This is a direct quote from "Soul Survivor," which also directly quotes from Nouwen's "Reflections on Theological Education":

Most students think that writing means writing down ideas, insights, visions. They feel that they must first have something to say before they can put it down on paper. For them writing is little more than recording  a pre-existent thought. But with this approach true writing is impossible. Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals what is alive... The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely what it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Inbetweeners US (2012)


I was tinkering with eztv last week and was curiously googling some TV show titles. Fall Season TV opened about a month ago and TVland is abuzz once again (don't those 2 words feel so textbook-y? I digress.) with a handful of shiny new shows.

The Inbetweeners US: Simon, Will, Neil Sutherland, & Jay
One show I googled was The Inbetweeners US. The premise of the show is this - you have the jocks, you have the nerds, and when you're not any of those, you have the inbetweeners.

Apparently, The Inbetweeners was a critically-acclaimed award-winning British serires that ran in the UK from 2008 to 2010. The 2012 show has US at the end to tell it apart from the UK one. I read the premise of the show and I did not have any feelings about the show. I was not definite that I disliked it but I also wasn't excited about the idea.

Then the Wikipedia page mentioned that the writer penning the US version (Brad Copeland for MTV) also wrote for "Arrested Development" and "My Name is Earl." Never watched Earl before but I am a big fan of AD. Arrested Development was genius! If I remember right, one TV critic (or was it just TV Guide? haha) said before that AD introduced a brand new kind of humor to television and inspired the likes of (multiple Emmy-winner) 30 Rock. If AD writers wrote Inbetweeners then I thought, it must be gooood.

The Inbetweeners US is the kinda show that grows on you. It makes you smile to yourself cos it reminds you about high school and how both stupid and fragile you were haha. After watching 3 episodes, I just knew I will be watching the show to the end of the short season. 

Will McKenzie moves from a private school to public high school. Will is stiff and awkward, wears pressed shirts with ties to school and has zero skills to survive in a public high school. He gets thrown into a group of boys who reluctantly but eventually embrace him into the group.  He takes himself so seriously and it's funny cos nobody else does.

Simon Cooper is the first person Will meets in his new high school, Grove High. He gets assigned by Principal Gilbert to show Will around so he reluctantly obliges. Simon is the group's softie, his high school life revolves around this pretty girl Carly, whom he's had a crush on since forever. He also drives the "muppet yellow" car, the unofficial group ride and quiet witness to their many many happy adventures.

Jay Cartwright is the self-proclaimed leader of the group. He is obsessed about sex and always talks in cliches and made up sex stories. He thinks he is leading the group to "coolness" (he is not.) He is also working very very very hard to be the school class clown. He has very little credibility and he always claims that he "doesn't lie."

Neil Sutherland is the ditz. He's my favorite cos he plays dumb crazy gooood. (It kinda makes me wonder if he is actually ditzy or he's just really good. Either way, works for the show.) Plus he's cute! Neil is chill and relaxed and how you want to be like when on vacation except - that's how he is on a daily basis. He's the kind of person you can't offend even you work really hard to. To Neil, everything's cool - just don't call his dad gay.
Considering high school has been milked of all possible entertainment value - humor, drama, coming of age, etc. - The Inbetweeners US is surprisingly entertaining. The show happily avoids the trap of making stories be about the glorious triumph of the "uncool" kids and their transition to "coolness."

The inbetweeners don't become cool. They try very hard to, but as real life usually goes, they don't succeed very much. I guess that's part of the show's charm. The show is a happy retelling of the misadventures of inbetweeners and how things go down in the "in between."

It's funny and stupid and honest and an endearing reminder of youth. And the perks of youth and your infinite free passes to stupid decisions. And how fleeting it is. Haha. Watch it!

Monday, November 05, 2012

No Super Punch

I felt like I had to hear it. Stories let the lessons sink deep so you don't forget.


Marlon said he would settle for no less than a knock out. He was 11 and in the heat of the semifinals of a contact sport, karate. He fought many matches and won all of them - by knock out. He was in the semis because he beat about 10 or so boys by knocking them out.

His "move" was going for the temple hit - sure knock out, he thought.

He took his place on the mat and the match began. He vowed no body shots - only temple hits for the knock out. His ego said body shots are cheap shots. Cheap shots are for the weak. And the players who win by knock out win by hitting the temple with one big "super punch."

While he was busy waiting for the perfect timing for his super punch, his opponent took the time giving him body shots. One body shot after another. Marlon gave no body shot, he only put his guards up, and went on to wait for the perfect timing for his knock out shot, his super punch.

A few rounds into the match, he started to feel his insides cramping up. All the opponent's body shots were taking their toll. Marlon's body was shutting down from all the body shots he received.

Marlon didn't see the game to the end. Next thing he knew, he woke up at home. He never found the "perfect" timing for his knock out super punch. His opponent evidently won, by taking the more consistent, and as Marlon calls it, "cheap" body shots.


I've heard the "no super punch" moral of the story many times over. Yet, now and then, I realize I think that way still - path of least resistance, I guess. After all, other people's successes always seem like they were won that way - with the one winning "super punch."

I guess that's how the non-winners always see it. We see the ending, the one last hurrah, the icing to the cake. The non-winners rarely get acquainted with the dirty word - consistency. We hear a lot about talent, and luck, and timing. Maybe we hear about consistency too, but we are too preoccupied all the other glamorous ideas, we pay little attention to the things that matter more.

More than for anyone, this story is for me. This story is to remind me that everything counts; that everything I do either moves me forward or takes me back; that there is no action with no consequence.

This is to remind me that small everyday disciplines as well as small everyday errors in judgment add up to the final score. That there is no one magical stroke of luck to turn things around in the same way there is no one unlucky twist of fate that will be the one determining factor to my end result. Everything adds up.

Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months, and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Dan in Real Life saves the day :)

I've been chasing the happy high (no worries, not through narcotics haha) for a while and always been coming up empty handed. Last night, girl got a break :)

I was decided on spending a quiet evening at home to finish my current book which I've been reading for 3 weeks already. (Btw, great book, will write on a separate post.) I put the book down for a while, took a break and started with just fixing stray files on a random folder on the laptop. I ended up going full on OC on my music folder file.

I started playing some audio files to identify which folders to put them to. Next thing I know, I was on a trip down musical memory lane! It was amazing how much feelings and memories are ever so vividly brought back by a familiar song :)

I tinkered with a folder labeled "Dan in Real Life Soundtrack". (Sidebar: I LOVED that movie bigtime. I went through a phase in college when the only movies/books that I thought were cool were the ones with sad endings. Angsty was my favorite word then haha.)

I played this song "Modern Nature" song by Sondre Lerche. I forgot how much I LOVED Sondre Lerche! Back then, it was like stumbling into musical goldmine - they were a super obscure musical act, they made a soundtrack to a relatively unknown movie, and their music actually sounded great. It was slow, and fluffy, and heartfelt, and sad, and the just the right amount of pop and country. And just all kinds of cool!

I closed my eyes for a bit and it was like 5/6 years ago! I had an iPod Shuffle back in college and I would always have my earphones on on my commute to and from school. When the song played, it was like I was brought back to THAT time when I was 19! That time when I was in college and felt super cool and super smart and super certain. Life was good then. I LOVED 19. 19 was a great age.

I didn't expect the surge of happiness that the music brought. I also found music from Sponge Cola and Silent Sanctuary circa '07, that Toploader song "Dancing in the Moonlight", The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" (my ALL TIME favorite song), Bloc Party's "This Modern Love", One Tree Hill and HIMYM music (Nada Surf's "Always Love" FTW!), and my ultimate release-your-anger song, Moonpools and Caterpillar's "Soon." These were the songs I had playing day in, day out through the tail end of college. Good times.

I had to make a Let Me Make You Smile mix :) haha. Thank you great music.
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