Sunday, April 18, 2010


So last weekend, we went to check out the places where we'll have the book club discussion that I will be moderating. After, we decided to drop by the American Cemetery, which is located just at the heart of the metro, an open field of lush green and marble crosses that mark the resting places of American soldiers during the Second World War.

This got me to thinking of all the books -- fiction and nonfiction -- that I've read about war. I've read Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner -- novels that are beautifully written and show how the war affects soldiers and citizens. I've also read Keegan's brilliant nonfiction books about war.

I've enjoyed these books and they provided me with insight on the reasons we go to war, regardless whether these reasons make sense or not. But I wasn't prepared for the feeling I would get during our visit to the American cemetery. Just looking at those rows and rows of marble crosses makes you question why we still go to war.

These soldiers were never even buried in their home country. Some of them are still even identified. Just walking along these rows feels heartbreaking. And these memorial structures don't even include those who have never been found after the war. Their names were simply engraved on the walls of the central building of the cemetery.

There were also several names of Filipinos who died fighting during that great war with their American counterparts. I was even reminded of my grandfather, who was a war veteran. He was one of the lucky ones -- he got to live and raise his family even after that terrible period.

We'll forever be grateful to these people who have unwillingly gave their lives. It is up to us, the present generation, to make sure that they didn't end their lives in vain.

I'm happy that I was able to visit the American Cemetery. I've always passed by that area and never really thought about visiting. That detour made me realize that reading about war is one thing, and that seeing the effects of it is another probably more important thing.

Again, thanks R for taking these beautiful pictures, and for suggesting that we visit this place.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

And one more bang

If there's one female comedian who I really, really love, it's Chelsea Handler. It's just too bad that my local cable provider does not include her show, "Chelsea Lately," anymore in their lineup. I need me some Chelsea, and I need it now.

I didn't think that looking at the young adult and children's bookshelves at a local bookstore would help me get my Chelsea Handler fix. Nestled among the teenage vampire, witch, faerie, socialite fashionista young adult fiction were copies of CH's new book! Is it because of the cover that people mistakenly labeled this book as young adult? Couldn't the sales people just have read the flap or back cover to know that this is the last book you want your teenager reading?

CH's new book, Bang Bang, is still funny. Like her other books, My Horizontal Life and What's Up, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, her latest is made up of hilarious essays from her life. In one chapter, you'll learn how she'll do anything just to get her hands on a Cabbage Patch doll when she was 11. In another, you'll laugh at her conversation with her boyfriend about buying a dolphin for their huge tank at home. And in several chapters, you get to read her many practical jokes she plays on her partner, her staff at work, and her family.

Here are some funny quotes from the book:
I once asked my father about where babies come from, and he told me that "sometimes Daddy parks his car in Mommy's garage." I had no idea what that could possibly mean, but I never went into the garage again.

You wouldn't say LOL if you were out to lunch with someone, so why would you write it in an instant message or an email? Just laugh alone in your office or house. I don't need to be notified that you're laughing. If someone is laughing, then how do they the time to be typing the letters LOL?

My tendency to make up stories and lie compulsively for the sake of my own amusement takes up a good portion of my day and provides me with a peace of mind not easily attainable in this economic climate.
I must admit that Bang Bang isn't as funny as her two earlier books. There seems to be a missing thread here. The essays feel disjointed, far removed from each other. My Horizontal Life chronicled her hilarious one-night stands. What's Up, Chelsea? was about her professional life. Bang Bang is all over the place. And now I have my doubts whether Chelsea is really as funny as she seem to be in her show. Could some of these supposed real-life stories have been made up? Nevertheless, you'll find yourself enjoying Chelsea's wit.

Read this book if:
  1. You love Chelsea's kind of humor.
  2. You're looking for a few politically incorrect laughs.
  3. You did some weird things when you were a kid.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Creepy, beautiful

Over the long weekend, I went with a group of friends out of town. It was perfect, as I badly needed a vacation. One of the highlights of that trip was when we visited Diplomat Hotel, an old and abandoned hotel at the top of the mountain. The structure was first built as a monastery, I believe.

Once inside, the hotel had a haunted feel to it. Just looking at all those rooms and the hallways is enough to give you goosebumps. I can just imagine the hotel in its glory days, with rooms full of tourists. Now, there's just dead silence all around.

And we visited Diplomat Hotel in the late afternoon, the sun casting an eerie glow on the decaying structure.

The hotel also has two fountains inside it. I just love those open spaces inside buildings that let you have views of the sky. You don't see those architectural designs in modern boxy buildings anymore.

Of course, I couldn't resist having my friend take my picture while reading Sarah Waters's wonderful gothic novel Fingersmith.

P.S. Thanks, R, for taking those wonderful pictures.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Bookshelf Project #24

tI realized that I haven't posted a bookshelf entry for the longest time. So today, I'm showing you the fabulous bookshelves of my friend, Ike. The picture below was taken by his wife, Chuchi.

It's the best to spend the lazy afternoons, right? Everything seems to be in its perfect spot. And I just love how Ike's reading taste is so diverse -- graphic novels, literary fiction, young adult, non-fiction (all those design books).

What do you think of Ike's bookshelves, dear reader?