Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Stranger

The StrangerThe Stranger by Albert Camus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"...I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe."

I got intrigued when I saw this book displayed in a well-known local book shop. I thought I might try to read an Albert Camus book since his name sounds familiar. I could have heard about him during an English class when I was in high school. I was curious, so I looked for a copy online.

Initially, I thought it was a bit like "Catcher in the Rye" reading the words of an angst-ridden character. It's not just that. The story was told in a way that I got to explore the main character's world-- from his mundane, everyday routine until the occurrence of a couple of tragedies (the death of his mother and his killing of a man) that shaped the outcome of the story.

Surprisingly, the book made me sad. What makes it sadder still is the possiblity that the feeling of hopelessness bordering on indifference is a part of the real world and a fact of life. The last quarter part of the book was like swimming in the main character's thoughts and slowly drowning in them. It is such a short novel, but it shouldn't be considered "light" reading.

After reading the book, I realized I shouldn't have read it given the circumstances I am currently experiencing in my life. I couldn't help but be influenced by the thoughts the main character has shared in this story. Somehow, I got to understand how it would probably feel like seeing the world from Monseiur Meursault's point of view and living in his head. Then again, there is a personal lesson or two to be learned here. It is up to the readers to find them. What I learned, I will just keep to myself.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Into the Woods

Into the WoodsInto the Woods by Lyn Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy reading "juvenile" books and this is probably one of those books that I loved more because the plot stuck to being "for kids". Imagine a story created with twists from Grimm's fairy tales. I had fun guessing from which fairy tale this character or this scene came from. The main character even reminded me of Neil Gaiman's Nobody (from "The Graveyard Book") and Coraline. I can also picture myself reading it to children who have a penchant for scary stories with moral lessons in the end. It has a dark side to it, yet it is heartwarming. The story may be a tad too long or too wordy, but Mini Grey's illustrations within the book will help spark the imagination of both kids and kids-at-heart.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011


The Five W's of Life: 

WHO you are is what makes you special. Do not change for anyone. 

WHAT lies ahead will always be a mystery. Do not be afraid to explore. 

WHEN life pushes you over, you push back harder. 

WHERE there are choices to make, make the one you won't regret. 

WHY things happen will never be certain. Take it in stride and move forward.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Train - Save Me, San Francisco

My sister and I were planning to listen to Train songs on the entire evening of December 7th. We were bracing ourselves to miss their concert on the same day. Little did we know, things were about to change. The night before that, my sister was online. I guess it was a combination of fan-girly luck, impeccable timing and decent internet connection that she was the second to tweet the right answer when Train had a contest through Twitter. They were giving out free tickets to their concert. My sister always wins these types of contests. I already told her to try the lottery next time. =)

We braved the midweek rush-hour traffic and sardine-like, packed MRT on the way to the venue. I know it was going to be worth it. One of our favorite songs of all time is "Drops of Jupiter" and that was the reason why we saw them perform live at the Alabang Town Center last year. That day, I officially became a Train fan. They have beautiful songs. Jimmy is awesome on guitars, Scott is such a talent both on the drums and keyboards, and Pat knows how to work his charm on stage. Their performance was fun, interactive and unforgettable. Once I've experienced it, I knew I wanted more.

About 15 minutes before the concert, we were lining up for our passes. We were given these stickers and were already ecstatic knowing we will be in the VIP/Patron area. I asked the person who gave us the stickers if we will have a chance for a meet-and-greet, he said they was just passes to enter. Oh well, at least they were for free. I shouldn't try to push my luck. When we got in, we had no seats since the stickers meant we were "standing VIP('s)". I didn't mind. I am used to standing during concerts. Besides, concerts won't be fun if we spent it sitting (unless it was a stage play, ballet or opera, I guess.)

Train after show stickers

We were worried when the front act, 6-Cycle Mind, started performing because there were a lot of vacant seats. In a venue as huge as the Big Dome, empty chairs are obvious. Maybe because it's a weekday. I don't know. So, we vowed to be as loud as we can and didn't care if we lost our voices in the process. I know we had a great show ahead of us.

stage background

The crowd thickened when Train started performing. It was nice knowing that the crowd was comprised mostly of Train fans because we were loud! I even found myself smiling while listening to the guy behind me belting out all the lyrics of all the songs they played. It was not shabby at all! Also, that was the closest I've ever been near the stage. As expected, it was one helluva ride! Pat never hesitated to interact with the audience. He was hilarious and a great singer as well. They had a lot of freebies and giveaways. Like their previous show, lucky girls from the audience became trainettes. They got to dance and sing with Train onstage. One of them got luckier and brought home Pat's guitar with his autograph! They sang songs I love, songs I am familiar with and songs I haven't heard of. They also sang their Christmas song "Shake Up Christmas". Incidentally, that was what my sister answered when she won us these tickets! Pat wore white and walked in a huge circle throughout the coliseum while he sang "Marry Me". He "married" Manila when he sang "...Say you will." Of course, the audience answered "I will!". He, then, signed the white shirt and gave it away. They gave out more Train shirts and Pat's guitar picks. Scott even threw his drum sticks. The guy in front of me was too tall that he caught it. Aww!

[Click here for Manila Concert Scene's set list.]

Manila trainettes 2011


After the show, we lingered to take some pictures. We were surprised when someone announced on the loudspeaker that those with round stickers/after show pass can line up near the stage. I nearly swooned. We were not prepared to meet them in person (especially after being all sweaty during the concert)! I mean, look at us!

"If It's Love"
holding our cellphones up in the air
Train tweeted this after the concert

A smile was stuck to my face since we started walking to the backstage area until after I met Pat, Scott and Jimmy in person. I shook their hands and my sister told them we also watched them last year. Pat said, "Thanks for coming back!" They were all really nice. I just wanted to hug them and take them home. Haha! They'll be releasing another album next year and hopefully, I'll get to see them again when they come back. I know they will. =)

Meet and Greet
Photo courtesy of Dayly Entertainment
and Magic Liwanag Photography

Sunday, December 04, 2011

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, book 1)

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have heard pretty good reviews about The Mortal Instruments trilogy, so I was excited to start reading them. The story from the first book is interesting. I can see some influences from The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Twilight. There was excitement, but it was not consistent and I found myself being dragged throughout the story. I don't know if it is due to the very descriptive writing or the need for more editing. It felt like I was being spoon-fed with information that is redundant or unnecessary. I thought maybe I was just reading a book for really young kids, though I doubt that the plot itself is appropriate for those below seven years old. Besides, I have read a lot of so-called "juvenile" books and they're not overflowing with adjectives. Descriptions are okay to fuel the reader's imagination, but it was just too wordy for me. I got bored. I was also disappointed because I have read "The Very Secret Diaries" (of the Lord of the Rings characters) written by the author (Cassie Clare) a few years back. I compiled, laughed at and loved them all! Maybe I was just expecting too much.

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