Category Archives: Time-and-Space Travels

A Ransom Note by Four Bored Girls

Yesterday, I attended my very first mall book signing. The authors in question were Ransom Riggs, Tahereh Mafi, and Veronica Rossi. Now I have to confess, Riggs was the only one among the three I’d read, and the main reason I was there. Simply because I’m not terribly familiar with recent YA, and not because I’m prejudiced against it. (Am not an author myself, but if I were, I’d choose to write for ten- to twelve-year-olds. That point when a child is at his most intelligent and still likes to go on adventures; that is, before the sudden limits of teenagedom.)

 

Still, I edit for a living and reading for pleasure has become a luxury. But two years ago, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children caught my eye in a bookstore, and my little brother gifted me the book for Christmas. I’m not about to launch into a book review here, so suffice it to say it may have been my favorite gift among that year’s stash. I particularly loved the idea of using a collection of vintage stories to tell a story, and the cliffhanger meant I had to get my hands on the second book as soon as it hit the shops. So when I did go and purchase the second book, the salesladies were kind enough to tell me about the upcoming book signing.

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I thought, Well, why not? The author seems an interesting person. It wouldn’t take long. He’d be sitting at a table with two other authors. I’d get in line for a few minutes, say hello, probably ask a question or take a picture, and thank him and move on.

 

See what a noob I was?

 

The mall opened at ten a.m., the schedule for registration. I calmly strolled towards the venue, glancing at shops here and there . . . and a teenage girl RAN past me. Er. Okay. I resumed my stroll and ANOTHER teenage girl did the same. And a third, and a fourth . . . wait. Was I missing something here? We were all headed in the same direction, it seemed.

 

Culture shock. Was I at the right place? Had I accidentally walked into a One Direction concert instead?

 

First of all, despite the mall having just opened, I was the 161st person in line. A quick look around revealed I was probably also the oldest. Teens, teens everywhere in T-shirts with the authors’ name on it, carrying banners and fan art and literally (yes, I know how to use the word) hopping and flailing. Every so often a cluster of them would combust into a random scream. (Note that the authors in question were due to arrive at two p.m. yet and were nowhere in sight at this point.) I stifled the urge to pipe up in a creaky voice, “Back in my day, young lady, we only did this in boyband concerts.”

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Then I found my equally traumatised friends, and we gathered for coffee and relative sanity and thought of how we could possibly navigate this madness.

 

Oh right. With more madness. Here are the fruits of our brainstorming, by four bored girls:

 

Plan A (scrapped)

Pedobears

One friend, Fritz, lamented how he felt like a pedophile. So I thought, Why not wear pedobear masks, go up to Ransom’s table, and say with a twisted grin, “I love your book . . . about peculiar children.

 

Plan B (scrapped)

Blend In

Since there was an awful lot of screaming, we figured we could step up to the signing table, let out a bloodcurling scream, and hurl the book at Ransom, after which, we also figured, he would probably start screaming himself.

 

Plan C (scrapped)

Make Him Cry

 

Now one of our friends sings so beautifully she makes grown men cry. Ransom, going by his picture, was a grown man, which suited our purpose. The plan was to have her suddenly sing, after which we would collect Ransom’s tears in a vial for future use in potion-making. (It is known that nerd tears are able to cure a variety of ailments.)

 

Plan D

The Ransom Conspiracy

As all the previous plans would have ended up with someone calling security and our tiny selves being muscled off the scene, this is what we ultimately went with. But this is a longer story, and for this, I must now return to the scene of the signing.

Upon arrival, the number of excitable fangirls and boys had quadrupled dramatically. There were now groups of people squatting in every conceivable square meter of space in the vicinity. Each time a chair was so much as moved by one of the organizers, the screams became louder and more persistent.

One of the bored girls wisely proposed we go one floor higher and watch the proceedings from there. It was an inspired choice. Not only were we a safe distance from the hullabaloo, we had a fantastic view. It was like watching a people aquarium.

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The best, it turned out. Ransom, Tahereh (Mafi), and Veronica (Rossi) actually walked past us. This gave us a good look at their shoes. They had very pretty shoes. Tahereh was quite possibly the loveliest author I’d ever seen.

 

Then they went backstage, and from our vantage point, we could see them there. They emerged with Riggs taking a video of the very enthusiastic crowd.

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Patience, Padawan. I’m just getting to Plan D.

 

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Photo by Jessica McYorker

While Q and A was happening, Kring started sketching Ransom on one of the pages of her little notebook. She noticed that he didn’t have much in the way of a chin. Based on that and an ingenious fan banner, we shook with giggles as we imagined actually telling the guy, “Ransom, y u have no chin? Did someone . . . kidnap it for ransom? Is this why you’re so handsom?”

 

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Photo by Jessica McYorker

No, we didn’t actually tell him that in person. We did, however, write it on the note. Since there was still space on that small piece of paper, we added a few more drawings (thanks to Kring) and messages. One had him smoking a Holmesian pipe with a really bad Sherlock-related pun. Another had a squirrel we named Random Riggs. And on the back page, a formal letter from Charles Xavier discussing possible collaborations involving the educational prospects of these youngsters and a feisty old lady who begged for an erotica book because she “had her needs” and children just wouldn’t cut it. You get the picture. Perfectly horrible stuff.

 

 

 

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Photo by Jessica McYorker

And yes, though we didn’t really get to have a nice, long chat with him (pity, he seemed like a fun sort of person), we did get to say hello and get a picture and our books signed before we were moved along. Kring got to ask him if he liked Doctor Who (apparently he’s not a Whovian, which is okay) and most importantly . . . we got the message delivered.

 

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Photo by Jessica McYorker

Also, when they were taking a selfie with the crowd (it really is a thing nowadays, isn’t it?), Ransom happened to look up at my perch in Mount Olympus, and this happened:

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We called it the Ransom Conspiracy.

 

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Photo by Jessica McYorker

While it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever respond to our nonsense, we did have quite an experience. And this morning, the same Mr. Riggs posted a tweet about reading everyone’s messages and how the people at his Philippine book signings were “insanely creative.” I’d like to think we contributed a fair bit to the “insane” part of it.

 

And there’s something else that tickles me about all this: These days, authors seem to be the new rock stars. Kids are getting genuinely excited about books and the stories in them. Reading, for many of this generation, is no longer something they’re forced to do at school. No sirree, they now throw themselves into it willingly–fan art and fan fiction attached–and wear the T-shirts proudly.

 

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You may roll your eyes, but if childhood fans of Conan Doyle can end up creating (and, in Gatiss’s case, acting in) my favorite modern take on Holmes, I say this is all bloody awesome.

 

Now I’d better read his second book.

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Sentiments of a Former Stage-Door Virgin

Believe it or not, even as a multitasking fangirl of an assortment of things and people, I don’t know how to ask for photos or autographs, or linger at a place to wait for people to make an appearance. Truly I don’t and never have.

And that’s something else I’ve learned from the musical Wicked. Before the show began, we happened to catch the tour bus arriving at the artists’ entrance. Did I approach the cast, take pictures, ask them to sign anything? Nope. I just stood there. (To be fair, though, I know all about the hustle and bustle involved to prepare for a show and figured they shouldn’t be bothered.) One of the actors walked past me, nearly bumped me, and apologized. I mumbled, “That’s all right.”

After the show, when one of my favorite friends suggested we meet the cast at the stage door, I didn’t know what to do. I had no camera on hand, no pen, no confidence (mostly this) . . . only a measly programme. I nearly ran away twice.

At this point my friend had to intervene and approach a girl gripping a pen (aha!) and also hesitating. He asked her if he could help by making sure she got the Wizard’s autograph . . . as long as she also lent us her pen. Haha! It worked! The Wizard, Jay Laga’aia (screen credits: Star Wars Ep. 1 & 2, Xena, Legend of the Seeker) turned out to be a very accommodating man, and he even asked for my name.

This gave me renewed hope and though most of the cast had already, by this time, gone into the tour bus, Galinda and Elphaba were still due to emerge. Obviously, they were what most of the crowd were lingering about for. But anticipating it would take some time, I started eyeing some of the relatively low-profile (in that nobody was asking for their photos/autographs) dudes coming out of the stage door. I spotted a very tall young man, and thinking he might have been in the ensemble, I approached him (anxiously) with that question.

He laughed. I relaxed; he had kind eyes. “No, I’m the sound guy,” he said. I congratulated him on the quality of sound during the show and meant it. I suppose because there was no pressure, him not being one of the “stars” to get starstruck by, I managed to get a conversation going. I found out that they were the same sound team from the Phantom of the Opera, which I’d seen the previous year. A lot of this cast (mostly ensemble) were the same people in Cats (which I’d also seen) and Love Never Dies.

We kept on chatting until the tour bus arrived, at which point I realized I’d never asked for his name. It occurred to him first (see how nice he was?), so after introducing ourselves I wished him a merry rest-of-the-tour and that I hoped to see more of their team’s productions, possibly next year. (His name was Nick—Nicolas Hammond, Head of Sound, has worked in this field in musicals since 2006. Thanks, Internet.)

This encounter with such a pleasant person warmed me, and just in time. At this point, also, the actresses playing Elphaba and Galinda were finally emerging from the stage door. I found it in me to approach and ask if I could shake their hands. They were sweet and equally accommodating to the waiting crowd, especially to their younger fans. I was relieved and delighted to see this. Not that it would have taken anything away from the beauty of the musical if they’d turned out to be stuck-up divas, but because they were not, my first real “fangirl” experience was in all aspects rewarding.

I suppose, like everything else, fangirling only takes practice. I can’t wait to do it again.

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Stuff

People ask me if I have a blog, and these days, I’m a bit hesitant to direct them to this ol’ abandoned building. It’s certainly not for lack of things happening. So just because I’ve given up writing on proper paper journals (laziness) and because I might need to remember certain stuff (possible Alzheimer’s or a dramatic tv serial case of amnesia) in the future, here I am. Unloading said stuff.

BAG OF STUFF #1- Siddhartha In Taiwan (Again)

Right, I know this was ages ago. Earlier this year, we had a handful of shows in Manila (La Salle Benilde) and a bigger handful (I lost count) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This is also just an excuse to post these photos by Nabz Durado and Benjie Layos here:

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The Cast of “Siddhartha” at the Buddha Memorial Center

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Me in “4 Special Signs”. LOL at my face.

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All work and no play? No fricking way!

 

BAG OF STUFF #2- My Mini Opera That Didn’t Win

I signed up for English National Opera’s mini-opera writing competition, after which I promptly forgot about it. When I got back from Taiwan, I suddenly remembered. Also, I had two days left to write it. So, er, I did write one in a rush. It’s called “A Longer Dream” and I’m not too impressed by it. It also did not win, which did not help in improving my impression of it. But I did put it up in this blog somewhere and intend to polish it later on. Perhaps someday we’ll like each other a little better.

Was thrilled by the idea of Neil Gaiman having read my mini-opera though. Mine was based on his seed story, “The Sweeper of Dreams”, which I’ve loved for a while already.

BAG OF STUFF #3- Lots of Jumping at Handuraw

Our recent PAK performance was called “Jump!” and- you guessed it- someone did jump. Our improv concept this time revolved around a would-be suicidal jumper and a bunch of people on a ship deck who would try to dissuade (or persuade) the jumper to jump.  I drew the Jack and became the would-be jumper. Naturally, it was Chai (playing a 13-year-old) who jumped in the end. Our stories are always logical like that.

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Disclaimer: None of the actual jumps looked like this.

More like this, really.

BAG OF STUFF #4- Squeak at the Fete

Headbanging to “Silent All These Years” was never so much fun. Yesterday (yay, something recent!) we formed a proud cheering squad as Squeak (known to most humans as Jessica McYorker) knocked them dead at the Fete dela Musique. I always love her signature songs, but I have to say that her Samson-Hallelujah mash-up was kick-ass.

Proof that it actually did happen:

 

Squeak and her keyboard. Headbangers in crowd not seen.

 

BAG OF STUFF #5- Plans That Involve Selling Actual Bags of Stuff

The lovely sisters and I have something brewing. This involves picking out clothes we would have bought for ourselves and letting other people buy them instead. Said clothes are still busy at a photo shoot with an inanimate torso but will be available for your consumption soon.

A second future plan is a little less sisterly and a little more musical, and my co-conspirators and I have decided to bring it up often and proceed to be all mysterious about it, when asked…


Whale Sharks in the Year of the Water Dragon. (Almost.)

This Chinese New Year, I nearly got to see the whale sharks in Oslob, a day we now dub (thanks to Vince and DK) as the Almost Butanding Experience.

We set off carefree as can be, making stops for bathroom, smoke, and snack-buying breaks. We even stopped for a bit in Boljoon to take a few pictures of the schoolhouse and the church. Yes, we took our sweet time. After all, not too many people would be THAT interested in watching whale sharks, right?

Us pretending to be time travellers in a Coke refrigerator. A local "Doctor Who"?

Wrong. Apparently, it turned out that the whole of Cebu decided to go butanding-watching at the same time. The hype surrounding them was now a bit mad, to the extent that they had to impose a cut-off time to avoid stressing the poor creatures out. Today was especially busy because it was Sunday, and the day before a holiday.

Us waiting for our names to be called. In vain.

Anyhow, everyone had to sign in a logbook, after which the groups would be called in order after intervals to get a ticket. After acquiring this ticket, you could then choose a resort and a boat. Unfortunately, we were about six or seven pages away, and the line wasn’t moving very quickly. We decided to spend the rest of the day taking pictures in Carcar and Argao instead, and return on a later date, preferably a weekday this time.

In Argao, they have giant torta. Apparently.

The headmasters of the Boljoon schoolhouse. Since 1940.

Feeling mermaidy while someone behind me attempts to surf.

Oh, and that same day was the Chinese New Year celebration (it’s the Year of the Water Dragon, in case you didn’t guess from the title) at the Chu’un Temple, so after the Almost Butanding Experience, I had to haul my sleepless self there for another performance of Siddhartha: The Musical. It felt a bit like sleepdancing, and I nearly fell off the platform. Twice.

"Siddhartha" at the Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple. Obviously not one of those times I nearly fell.

Why do I have time for all these things? Well, after another BPO job that didn’t quite work out, I decided to go back to freelancing. I recently signed up for Odesk, which allows me to work from my computer on either a full-time or part-time basis, depending on the job or project I apply for. I’m not big on fixed schedules and I do intend to do a bit of travelling this year, so that suits me just fine.

(Oh, and if you’re interested to try something like that, click here or on that widgety thing on the top right.)

I’ll let you know when we have our Actual Butanding Experience. Stay tuned.

Credits to DK Maranion for most of the photos- she took the better ones in this post.