Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day -005: Full Moon Christmas

src="http://2016.villageidiotsavant.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/DSC_3272b-1024x768.jpg"
alt="DSC_3272b" width="840" height="630" class="aligncenter
size-large wp-image-34" />Christmas Day this
year coincided with a full moon.
According to
astronomers, href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/on-christmas-a-rare-full-moon/">this
event has not happened in close to four decades. The
last time this happened was in 1977; the next time it will
happen is in 2034. I took my own shot this morning, just as the
moon was setting in the
west.

And now the critical
reviews of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
are out.
We've had over a week to let the movie
sink in and, as a result, it's coming under more intense
scrutiny. Possibly the best analysis I've read comes from Gerry
Canavan, who wrote href="https://gerrycanavan.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/tolkien-the-force-awakens-and-the-expanded-universe/">Tolkien,
The Force Awakens, and the Sadness of Expanded
Universes. Essentially: by continuing the story,
we've robbed our heroes of the happy ending they deserved.
Another one, href="http://www.salon.com/2015/12/22/the_star_wars_fandom_menace_the_glaring_emotional_blind_spots_that_power_the_force_awakens/">The
Glaring Emotional Blind Spots that Power The Force
Awakens, touches on the nature of tragedy in society
and media.

We went to
Paradise Resort in Samal this morning.
This
being a long holiday, the place was packed. Entrance fee is now
set at P200 for the day tour, no more consumable. On the plus
side, they've kept the place well and they have a new and
smooth-sounding live family band at lunchtime for
entertainment. But, boy, was today
hot.

Dinner at Cafe
Tavera.
The baby back ribs were thick and juicy
and the salted egg prawns were tasty, but the real winner were
the dragon balls.

I brought
with me Criselda Yabes' Below the Crying
Mountain
to read on the beach.

Despite having started only this morning, I am already three
quarters of the way through the novel and will likely finish it
tonight. The book is set in Jolo and Zamboanga in the early
1970s, during Martial Law and the Moro uprising. It was tough
getting into the groove of the narrative because: 1) the point
of view -- mostly third person limited -- shifts almost without
warning from one character to another; 2) likewise, the time
lines of the events are not clear; and 3) the characters are
held at what almost seems like journalistic distance, so much
so that it's hard to relate to them as fully fleshed out
people. Then there is the intrusive first person narrator who
enters the narrative at odd moments but without any direct
effect on the ongoing story. However, once I got the cadence of
the text going, I became sufficiently engaged to see this
through the end.

I finished reading the
novel late in the afternoon. It was a touch melodramatic
leading towards the end, but that's not necessarily a bad
thing, considering the characters, the setting, and the
historical backdrop. The story could be the framework for a
movie or a telenovela. Four out of five
stars.

Today I started with
Memrise for my
Mandarin lessons.
Memrise is more up my alley as
far as pacing and method is concerned. In many ways it's even
better than Duolingo. I like how it uses mnemonic devices to
teach Chinese characters, so much so that I can already
recognize a few on sight.