Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day -005: Full Moon Christmas

DSC_3272bChristmas Day this year coincided with a full moon. According to astronomers, 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 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, 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.