Category Archives: books

and the frenzy continues

Last night, I was peacefully enjoying browsing at Fully Booked Gateway, oblivious to everyone around me, when my browsing was suddenly interrupted by sounds of girls twittering, gushing, and basically exclaiming in delight. I looked up and saw what they were all a-flutter about. Some guy entering the store wheeling in boxes of books. “Sandali lang ho, che-check-in pa namin ito,” the guy said, as the small gaggle of people (mostly girls) parted to make way for him as he wheeled the boxes towards the back of the store, watching adoringly as he passed by.

It just took me a couple of seconds to realize what was going on: a new delivery of the Twilight books has just arrived. Earlier, I overheard a guy asking customer service about the “Twilight saga” and he was told to wait for fresh new copies that will be delivered by 7:30 PM. I remembered thinking, oh, so it’s really not just girls going all crazy about those books – then forgot all about it, until all the sounds of female excitement.

It was all too amusing. I was grinning like an idiot watching it all. I realized that I was witnessing a mini cultural phenomenon. I gave up the browsing and just hung about the edges of the crowd observing things, even snapping photos with my phone cam (photos which I can’t upload here because I can’t find my phone-to-computer cable. Drats). I did keep my finger on my place in the Nora Ephron book I was browsing, lest I be mistaken to be one of the couldn’t-wait Twilight fans, he he. I’ve read the series –the first three anyway – after a fashion, skimming through the pdf versions, but I never really felt the need to get myself real copies, much less hang about at bookstores waiting for the books’ arrival. I sort of did that for the Eraserheads reunion concert, but that was different. Magkakaubusan talaga nun e.

The crew started clearing away all the books displayed on a table, plus an entire shelf top to bottom, to make way for the new arrivals. The poor things were unceremoniously piled and stuck away somewhere, as evidently the Twilight series require a lot of shelf space. Before the books could be displayed, however, some sort of signal or announcement suddenly drove the waiting crowd to dash across to the other end of the store where the Twilight boxes were placed, and a little commotion ensued as books were distributed straight out of the boxes. I was left standing open-mouthed at the front area for a few minutes, then roused myself and followed the throng to take even more pictures. The general make-up of the two dozen or so crowd: high school to twenty-something girls, and high school boys. I don’t think there was a twenty-something guy, except for one who was accompanying his girlfriend.

A girl clutching three huge books to her chest, one of the early ones to grab a set, was instantly on the phone to her friend reporting on the achievement. “Wala pa daw yung Twilight bukas pa daw ng umaga,” she said. Hah. So she didn’t even have the first of the series. She didn’t sound too upset about it though; she was probably just too happy that she got the other three.

In the midst of all the confusion, a staff member had time to answer a customer’s query for a better copy of Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” There was no other copy, but I had the feeling that when new copies arrive there won’t be an excited troupe of would-be customers waiting for them.

At some point the crew came to their senses and halted the distribution. “Intayin nyo na lang ho sa harapan at nagkakagulo na,” some supervisor-looking guy sternly said. No kidding. The customers were well-behaved enough; in a short while they left the boxes alone and went back to the display area near the cashier. By this time the lucky ones who already had the books had formed a line to cashier, no doubt feeling all smug and tingly.

“Ganito ba talaga lagi pag may dumarating na Twilight?” I asked one of the three crew members left guarding the boxes. He explained that they ran out of copies the day before, and the new ones were supposed to arrive at 3 PM but got delayed so customers piled up. The day before. And these books aren’t even new releases. Wow.

Eventually the table and shelves were filled up with the hefty black-and-red tomes, making me immediately miss the variety of other books that were formerly there.

When the pile at the table was about three books deep, a crew member told a colleague, “Tama na yon, hindi na nila mauubos yon.” “Oo, tingan ko kung maubos pa nila yon.”

We’ll, I really wouldn’t be too sure.


ghost from comm. res. past

Got momentarily disoriented during one of my grocery shopping trips, when, cruising the aisles and having just picked up a packet of powdered orange juice, I suddenly got accosted by a ghost from Comm. Res. Past:

next to the Tang shelves
The Practice of Social Research by Earl Babbie

One of those staple books in our Communication Research major subjects (Comm. Res. 115 if I’m not mistaken), one of those books that got photocopied to death chapter by chapter, as students compiled those thick sheafs of “readings.”  Reserve book sa Mass Comm library, meaning you can only take it out after five in the afternoon then return it by nine the next morning, per hour ang multa pag late ka so good luck na lang.

There it was, hard-bound and looking hardly used, selling for P150 at, of all places, Puregold Makati. I was like, damn, we would have killed for this in college! Well, I couldn’t help it. I was so amused that I bought it.  Some of the concepts and methodologies are naturally outdated  (I mean, who still uses mailed-in questionnaires, right?), but I’m guessing some are pretty much applicable through time (basic research design questions, survey sampling procedures, etc.). Of course, there’s also the nostalgia factor.  It’s like a time-space portal suddenly opened up right there at the supermarket.  I would have been more tickled if it had been one of the more iconic books, let’s say, Gravetter’s book on Quantitative Analysis, or Mass Comm Theory by Dennis McQuail (I had to Google the author name, basta ang alam ko Mac- or Mc-something, haha). But this will do. It can be a useful resource for those times when I’d get faced with a seemingly basic research question and couldn’t do anything except helplessly mutter, sheesh, I used to know this in college.

Maybe I can bring the book in one of our dinners among college friends, so that when the conversation goes to the inevitable recalling of embarrassing stories, past loves, marathon overnight group work sessions and such, we’ll actually have a prop, he he.

to boldly split when i want to split

Call me corny, but my bedtime reading these days is “How to Write Better English” (Penguin Writers’ Guides, by Robert Allen), a style and grammar handbook I got at Fully Booked a few months ago. I write and speak English mostly by earhow-to-write-better-english.jpg, you see, and my formal English education had been spotty at best, hence my desire to improve. I learned English mainly through reading fiction and watching films, not through hitting the grammar books. I have never diagrammed a sentence in my life, for example. My English is generally okay, but sometimes I get stumped by something that doesn’t really sound right, only I can’t explain exactly what’s wrong and I can’t figure out how to repair it.

Anyway, the book has been very helpful; it’s a handy resource for most of my nagging little grammatical concerns and I see that it really is going to help improve my English. Also, it has liberated me from insecurities/uncertainties over certain so-called “rules” that turn out to be no more than traditional precepts of old-fashioned grammarians.

For example, the split infinitive. You often hear grammarians bewail split infinitives, or people who take pride in their English because they never split their infinitives. I for one did not even know what split infinitives were, and in all probability have been blissfully, ignorantly splitting them my entire life, but I’ve heard enough objections against it to make me wonder. However, the book says that infinitives have been split since Middle English, but somehow through the years it fell into disfavor until it became a grammatical pariah sometime, oh I don’t know, in the last century or so. The book points out that “there is no grammatical reason for always keeping two parts of an infinitive together (emphasis mine).” Insisting on it sometimes lead to awkward or stylistically poor sentences, such as (examples in the book): “She used secretly to admire him,” or “The Education Secretary has set out proposals that attempt radically to change the way in which pupils apply for university places.” Even my Google search results now agree that it’s not always wrong to split infinitives, so how come this so-called rule still persists?

So if you feel that it will make your meaning clearer, go ahead and split those infinitives. You have legitimate reason, and anybody who would insist otherwise is just some overbearing pedantic snob who probably suffered very deeply at the hands of a terror high school English teacher.

You know how Word grammar check would sometimes “green-mark” your “which” clauses and insist that you put a comma right before? You can ignore it, it’s not always correct.

The rule on never beginning a sentence with “And” or “But?” Generally legitimate rule, but in informal situations or if you deliberately want to emphasize something just go ahead and do it.

Or consider the rule on never ending sentences with a preposition. Always insisting on this can be preposterous. Again, it’s all about context (is it a formal document?), or the tone that you want to achieve. For example, would you say (or write):

“You’re the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
“You’re the one with whom I want to spend the rest of my life.”

Kadiri yung second no? Baka magdalawang-isip pa yung kausap mo about spending the rest of his/her life with such a stuffy bore.

However, if you write “ur d 1 i wnt 2 spnd d rst f my lyf w/” you’d get totally no sympathy from me.

because gabe asked me to update (thanks for the prompt, by the way!)

Endured a couple of hours’ summer heat a couple of weeks ago (but not after a looong, sumptuous lunch at Galileo. fresh mozzarella, mmm…) browsing at the Powerbooks warehouse sale to crave my, well, admittedly lately dormant zeal for reading.  Picked up books as I went along, then sat down with abby and jaypee as we painfully went through our respective stacks, knowing we’ll have to leave some behind because, well, we just couldn’t afford to spend that much money (don, with much discipline, took two science fiction books and stuck to them).  At the end of this gruesome elimination process, my final Powerbooks warehouse sale harvest consisted of (my apologies for not linking to wherever it is I’m supposed to link these books, I just don’t have the patience to go through all that):

  1. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – I still remember the well-worn UP Main Library copy that I read in college. Just thought it’s time for me to get my own copy 
  2. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson – in which I’m currently learning just how marvelous the universe is
  3. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith – again, one of those books I’ve been meaning to get for a long time but never got around to until now
  4. Bridge of San Luis Rey – a well-intentioned buy, which I got for the simple reason that I remember seeing it in some sort of best-novels-of-the-21st-century list, and the blurb seemed interesting. Plus it was cheap, he he
  5. Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis – a steal at P79, but I can’t really say I enjoyed reading this one 

 A free copy of “Bergdorf Blondes” came with the loot, which I read in one day last weekend. As early as the second chapter I could see where the thing’s heading.  I miss Bridget Jones.

Upcoming long Holy Week break. Definitely an opportunity to just curl up and read to my heart’s content. Not bad, not bad at all.