Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bah Humbug, Another New Year

Already?! Thus far I have . . .
1. Failed at all resolutions, particularly the one that had to do with reading 100 books. Obviously I’ve read a lot more than a hundred this year, but because I specifically stated I would only consider those I read for fun, this excludes all but twenty or so.

2. Written a new story, possibly the only one this year. You can read it here.

3. Learned a bit of Muay Thai and other martial arts. While far from an expert, I did drop about twenty pounds or so. Could I kick your ass? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

4. Donned a red hood and skipped into the woods . . . well, for a photoshoot.

5. Beach-bummed in Bohol, Camotes, and Boracay.

6. Taken part in two plays: The Vagina Monologues and Emotional Creature.

7. Grown older. Drat.

8. Been stuck in this (for want of a better term) quagmire of inertia. Double drat.

9. Posted food photos and selfies, played games, fangirled, and engaged in every single unnecessary, unproductive time waster you could possibly imagine . . .

Right. This is getting depressing. I really don’t want to talk about this year anymore. I can’t even bring myself to say ‘Happy New Year’ with conviction. Instead, I’ll focus on one thing that DOES make me happy: In Scotland, an annual Hogmanay (oh, Google it, you lazy git) tradition includes the burning of a Viking longship.

Better than fireworks any day.

Suddenly fireworks seem pretty lame, huh?


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.


Fantasticalacious, Stupendifying! [My Wicked Experience]

The magic will never wear off, but my memory isn’t as reliable. So hear ye, a blog post. Wait, let me turn up the Wicked soundtrack first. There. Perfect.

I have loved Wicked the musical for a good many years now. But it wasn’t until two days ago that I fell in love with it.

Let me backtrack a bit. Ever since obtaining a (pirated, teehee) copy of the soundtrack in my much, much, MUCH younger years, I’ve listened to the songs a lot but never actually got to experience the play in a visual sense. So how the play appeared in my mind existed completely, well, just there—in my mind.

I sort of got to perform a bit of it once, at a friend’s debut. We had this (dare I say it myself?) clever idea of tweaking the eighteen-candles tradition into something infinitely more fun—eighteen Broadway excerpts! A good friend (Nina, who’s now singing in operas in Middle Earth) and I sang “What Is This Feeling?” (the one with a lot of loathing in it). I was, of course, Galinda, who remains my favorite character, and to sing “Popular” remains on my bucket list.

I digress, as always. Back to Oz-Manila.

When I stepped into the theatre, my jaw dropped. The stunning mechanical time dragon. The stage itself, made up as giant cogs and gears. That very steampunk stage design. The costumes—oh Holy Mother of Cthulhu. My drool spilled into a bucket, which I luckily happened to have on hand. (Not really, no.)

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[Yes, I took that one picture before the show, but none while it transpired. I can’t help feeling that taking photos at shows is a lot like tourists spending their entire tour looking for good photo opportunities. You forget to relish the present in your frantic attempts to create souvenirs of what is soon to be the past.]

The main characters kept up the essence of the original Broadway cast, which was at the same time, I believe, a combined feat of casting and study. The actress playing Galinda, especially, was very Kristin Chenoweth in voice and mannerisms. From afar (our seats were far) we could make believe it was actually Kristin out there, not to take anything away from the Aussie actress playing Kristin-playing-Galinda, who was excellent in her own  right in spite—and because—of this.

The ensemble, too, was brilliant. It was only when I began flying off to watch these touring shows that I noticed what a lot of local productions I’d seen lacked. Oftentimes, the ensemble is just that—a chorus, a faceless unit in charge of the background songs and dances. But that’s not the way it’s meant to be. Every face in that “crowd” is important; in fact, every one of them should be an individual character, never mind if this character is not named in the programme. And when they’re effective, you can look at them one by one and know who they are in terms of the story. They sing and dance and interact completely on their character’s terms without compromising the collective choreography and blocking.

[Allow me to digress a little. Having my eyes opened to that is precisely why, in my real-world theatrical pursuits, I’ve always stressed that the cast in the chorus take on their own characters, whether assigned or of their own creation. In The Clockwork Princess, I gave them designations, descriptions: the Investigator, the Law Enforcer, the Time Agent, etc. In Facebooked! I pushed for the chorus characters to be based on Facebook prototype profiles: War Freak, Gossip Girl, and more.]

I like to kid that watching these international musicals isn’t relaxation; it’s research. In all honesty, it’s both. Both a wonderful way to unwind and a complete learning experience. This, folks, is what education should be like. If you live where I live, love musicals just as much, and have seen nothing but local shows, I recommend doing what I do. Save up for it. Plan for it. Make it an event.

Well yes, you might not be able to eat for a month (if you live from paycheck to paycheck like I do), but I guarantee you will not regret it. A bonus: you’ll probably even shed a few pounds from the imposed starvation.

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Of the Holmesian Undead and Enjoying TV Shows in General

Before anything else, as an audience member of, well, anything (but particularly film and TV), here are my priorities:

 

  1. To be entertained
  2. To feel things (more points if these are good things)

 

Not on the list are pointing out what writers did wrong, whether or not there were plot holes, if my chosen form of entertained adhered to a recommended format, or if it met the critics’ standards of quality television.

 

And this is why I can watch Robin Hood: Men in Tights hundreds of times and laugh every time, and why I’ll never watch August: Osage County again (I did feel things—irritation mostly—but was definitely not entertained).

 

I judge subjectively. Because, in truth, that is what we all do, whether or not we choose to chocolate-coat (I prefer this to sugar) the fact with fancy explanations.

 

This brings me to BBC Sherlock’s third series, which I’d been waiting for for two years. And you know what? In my subjective view, it was well worth the wait.

 

Self-referential and plenty of hat-tipping to the fandom? Possibly, and yet I don’t think this would really affect the understanding of viewers not familiar with the show. The same goes for its multiple winks and nods to the original Conan Doyle books. Sure, they’re inside jokes in a way. And if you’re familiar with the references, you’ll delight in them. At the same time, if not, nothing’s amiss. That’s why they’re Easter eggs.

 

If you’ve been following the show since it began or feel the affinity that I do, these things mean a great deal: That Mary Morstan was played by Martin Freeman’s real-life partner. That Sherlock’s parents really are Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents. That young Sherlock was played by the son of the writer and the producer. And so on.

 

In fact, if you’re a fan of Gatiss’s or Moffat’s other work, you’ll find a lot of other little gems to grin about, intentional or not.

 

And all that’s a huge part of the point, though it’s not the point at all. The point is that all three episodes with their varying tones took me on different carnival rides of emotions. The first was mostly the excitement of reacquaintance, like bumping into best friends who were abroad for two years. The second was squishy stuff—feels and feels and laugh-out-loud humor, a romcom for those who prefer their romantic heroes sociopathic. And the third was THAT ride, the king of the carnival, the one you save for last, the rollercoaster.

 

After all the episodes (why, even in between) comes the speculation. Theories and arguments about theories, all of which manage to sustain the fandom for the next two? three? years of wait. Are all these theories logical? Does anyone even get it right?

 

Well, no, because the answers never are thoroughly logical either. The writers like to throw the show’s viewers tasty tidbits every now and then, knowing how we fancy ourselves little detectives. While I’m delighted when I make the right guesses, I always prefer being wrong. Am I disappointed that not everything is explained satisfactorily? No. Sherlock Holmes, in all his incarnations, was never predictable. He was always one step ahead. It may occasionally look like a cheat, but there are only a reasonable number of possible explanations to every phenomenon. And because of that, I often feel this “cheating” is essential. How dull he would be if we could second-guess him all the time! How ordinary he would seem if his mind-palace were identical to our own!

 

(Apply this same suspension of disbelief to Moriarty, Magnussen, Mycroft, and everyone else that matters or begins with an M. Hell, even Moffat. There.)

 

On the very opposite end of this scale, I’m glad when someone outsmarts Sherlock Holmes once in a while. And I’m glad we’re seeing his human side. Because without a human side, and without people who equal or surpass his brilliance, there would be no sense of jeopardy. If he were infallible, would there be any real threat, any sense of danger?

 

(That said, I wish they would stop resurrecting people. As much as I am able to suspend my disbelief to the high heavens, I’m starting to take any character’s “death” less seriously than I’m supposed to. I’m not that big a fan of zombie shows . . .)

 

But the thing is, I’m grinning from ear to ear. I enjoyed the ride. I did. I will now proceed to bask in this enjoyment for the rest of the week, or month, or year.

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A Challenge: 100 Books in 2014

As I recently posted in Facebook, one of my resolutions this year is to read and finish one hundred books. One hundred books because I am not—and you may be surprised to hear this—as well-read as I could possibly be. This probably owes to my rather long literary hiatus back in my nursing days (yes, yes, I used to be a nurse, but it was a past life I don’t intend to revisit).

Digression aside, here are my conditions:

  1. They don’t have to be critically acclaimed books. It being touted as “good” doesn’t always mean I’ll enjoy it, and vice-versa.
  2. I will, however, try to ensure that a lot of these are the classics I’ve missed out on or haven’t finished in their complete form for one reason or another.
  3. I’ll try to keep the mix eclectic. There might be some genres I’ll visit less than others—personal preference and all that.
  4. I’ll post one memorable quote after each book I complete. I draw the line at reviews, though I might do so sporadically.
  5. After completing the magic one hundred, I owe myself a literary tattoo.

Why am I doing this? I feel my literary education has been shamefully lacking, but most shameful of all is not doing much to remedy that. We all have precious little in terms of years in this world, and time not spent thoroughly examining the beauty of it is wasted time. Granted, we all have our own ideas of beauty. Words when properly weaved is one of mine.

Also this—I spend a lot of my time reading messed-up attempts at literature because . . . well, because that’s my day job. And you can never discount the amount of influence reading material has on you. You are what you read. The rhythm, the patterns of the words—you may not be conscious of it, but they become your rhythms, your patterns. Often you’ll find authors criticised for “imitating” their idols. It is not imitation; it’s inevitable. You write what you read. You become what you read.

And I don’t want to turn into a bad book. There are enough of those. This will help in terms of balance.

I’ll post my list here. You’re all welcome to join me; let’s celebrate our progress together.

UPDATE: Here, it has begun:

1. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett

2. Coriolanus – William Shakespeare

3. Odd and the Frost Giants – Neil Gaiman

Photo by Maxbeth Bolongaita, who inspired this challenge. This is OUR challenge.

Photo by Maxbeth Bolongaita, who inspired this challenge. This is OUR challenge.


The Extroverted Introvert (Also a Squid)

Introvert, extrovert.

Not that there’s anything wrong with labels; that’s why we have language—so we’d have words for things. But it gets tricky when I check the (Facebook) feed and there’s yet another post about Twenty-Five Ways to Deal with Introverts, and every item on the list makes me grin (or cringe) in recognition—yep, that’s me.

And then I embark on another day’s adventures that involve animated chats with friends and my enthusiastic participation in, well, nearly everything, and this restless energy even drives me occasionally to strike up conversations with total strangers. Perhaps they’re wearing a Doctor Who shirt. Perhaps there’s something going on that I’m curious about (often the case). In any event, my day is sprinkled with these random interactions, and I rant and rave as wholeheartedly as any extrovert on caffeine.

But my social meter is limited, finite, and when that point is reached, there’s only one person in the world whose company I crave.

Mine.

I remember this most especially when I’m finally alone, and it feels like I’m casting off my back weight equivalent to a certain Shutter ghost or a very large . . . squid (I don’t know why; I just have this visual picture). When the space is my own, and the time is my own, and I have only my silence (or music filling it beautifully) and my imagination, I feel sublime.

And therein lies the problem.

Photo by Hannah Creencia, who is probably an actual bunny.

Photo by Hannah Creencia, who is probably an actual bunny.


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…


A Longer Dream

A closed curtain. In front of it is a strange, ragtag trio of creatures.

 

Ringmaster:                                        We are not your ordinary late-night scragglers.

Goblin Girl:                                                         We are mischief,

Fairy Godhag:                                                                    magic,

Dream Trio:                                                        wishful-thinking hagglers-

                                                                We’re your dreams.

 

The curtain rises: a tableau in a little pub- a television features the impending victory of a football team, but instead of a raucous bunch of drunken men in jerseys, there is an oddball mix of characters gathered around the bar or scattered among the tables. A clown in pajamas. A Mafia lord. A tattered angel. And more.

 

Dreams:                                               We’re the ghosts beneath your bed.

                                                                We’re the stories in your head.

                                                                We are ragtag, zigzag, cats-in-a-bag

                                                                Of dreams!

 

Sad Little Drummer Boy:               (hauntingly) And when the night is done, we die.

 

The dreams stop for a beat.

 

All Dreams:                                         We’re your favorite late-night scragglers

                                                                We are hopes and hounds and hagglers

                                                                We are mischief, magic, mayhem-

                                                                We’re your dreams!

 

Sad little drummer boy:                                And when the night is done, we DIE!

 

Music slows down and so do the dreams, moving as if through liquid.

 

Ringmaster         :                              But there’s a world between the waking

                                                                And a slumber close to breaking-

                                                                That befuddles the most sensible of men

Dream Trio:                                        When you feel the dream-walls shaking,

                                                                And the sky you made is flaking,

All Dreams:                                         You are coming to the old Dream Sweeper’s den.

 

Spotlight on the Dream Sweeper. He is sitting in a corner table, perhaps the most nondescript of all the odd creatures. He is gruff, unshaven, his t-shirt rolled up at the sleeves to reveal a dragon tattoo. He is puffing on a cigarette.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              I was a young man when Time began.

                                                                I will be done when Time is gone.

                                                                I am no god, or reaper, or lord-

                                                                I am the Dream Sweeper,

                                                                And I’m very, very bored.

 

The Dreams start moving again, slowly, as if underwater.

 

All Dreams:                                         When you feel the dream-walls shaking,

                                                                And the sky you made is flaking,

Dream Sweeper:                              I do as I must.

 

A pale, golden-haired dream, scattering blood-red cherries, looks up, is touched by his broom, and turns into dust.

 

All Dreams          :                               In that world between the waking,

                                                                And a slumber close to breaking,

Dream Sweeper:                              I turn your dreams to dust.

 

The Sweeper moves everywhere- not as slowly as the dreams, but deliberately.

 

All Dreams:                                         (in varied whispers)

                                                                Hope, hound, haggler/ mischief, magic, mayhem/

                                                                spectre, story, soul-catcher, etc.

 

He touches them one by one with his broom and they vanish. It is raining ash. He sweeps the ash away.

The pub is taken away and he is now on the street. Apart from the Ringmaster and his little band, who are yet untouched, it seems to be deserted, but the music has turned ominous.

 

Ringmaster:                                        Merciless he is, they say,

Fairy Godhag:                                                    But mercy is for those he never spares.

Goblin Girl:                                         You’ll know the dreams he never sweeps,

Dream Trio:                                                        by their screams and tatters and their matted hair.

 

Slowly they crawl into the stage, alone or in clusters- grey, wild-eyed, howling, tearing at their hair, reaching out to the Sweeper, but he passes through without paying them any heed, and touches none of them with his broom.

 

Neglected Dreams:                         Our words are half-imaginary

                                                                Our battered souls are bent

                                                                When dream and dreamer are as one…

Dream Sweeper:                              Some dreamers pay the rent.

Neglected Dreams:                         ‘Til all our dreams are spent!

Dream Sweeper:                              LET ALL THESE DREAMS BE SPENT!

 

The Sweeper finally sweeps away the little band with a flourish, and the neglected dreams retreat. It continues to rain ash. He sets down his broom and takes out another cigarette.  There is silence.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              My work is done. Another night has gone.

 

Suddenly the silence is broken by an ethereal melody. Among all the greyness, there is suddenly light and color. A luminescent girl in a brightly-colored dress is balancing on the boundaries of dream, arms outstretched.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              Your story has ended.

Girl:                                                        There are some longer tales.

Dream Sweeper:                              I do as I must. When the night is done, you…

 

He makes a motion to sweep her away. She stares back at him, unharmed.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              …die? Who are you?

Girl:                                                        I am only here to dream.

Dream Sweeper:                              I am here to save you from it.

Girl:                                                        Perhaps I don’t need saving. Not I.

 

She takes his hand.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              Are you of another earth,

                                                                Have you come from tales of lore?

Girl:                                                        Have you known death, or birth?

                                                                Has a dream held your hand before?

Dream Sweeper:                              When I touch a dream, it dies.

                                                                When I do not is the dreamer’s demise.

Girl:                                                        I have not known a sadder fate.

Dream Sweeper:                              I am old as Time, and it is late.   

                                               

The Sweeper gets up to go, broom in tow.

 

Girl:                                                        You have no greater want, you have no greater fear.

 

He keeps on walking away as she continues singing.

 

Girl:                                                        When Time and dreams are done, you’ll find me here.

 

The Sweeper stops where he is, without turning his head.

 

Girl:                                                        You’ll find me here.

 

A half-smile.

 


Audience Participation

It was ironic, her being there.

‘There’ was onstage, surrounded by actors, taking a bow. The most human humans there could ever be. Humans who not only felt, but caught their emotions like fireflies and kept them in little glass bottles to be relived another day. Humans who opened the stoppers to these most private of emotions and presented them to the world on cue—humanity as an art, applauded again and again. And she was standing under the stage lights as if she weren’t the furthest thing from it.

In this, she did not speak figuratively. It ran far deeper than that, and it was the simplest thing in the world. She came into the world twenty-odd years ago, born to a very human mother in a spic-and-span delivery room—unremarkable, of average size, no tentacles or appendages. She grew up in a middle-class family, survived an ordinary-to-the-point-of-dull childhood. Not a single UFO sighting. No dead people in the mirrors. But since she was old enough to grasp the concept of human beings, she knew, instinctively, that being human was something she could never aspire to.

She did try, at first, thinking that surely she was mistaken. She mimicked all the other children—clapped in delight when she was given little presents, looked suitably devastated when her dog died. She knew how to appear in pain when she scraped her knee, knew how to feign surprise and horror. When she remembered.

But she was so busy watching the rest of the world, that every now and then, she forgot. It was the other children, as keen and sensitive as only children could be, who saw through her. They saw how effortlessly she lied without the slightest twitch of guilt on her face.There was a little boy, Daniel, whom she called her best friend at some point. When tragedy struck and he drowned in a boating accident, she did not shed a single tear.

“She’s in shock,” said the adults. But the children knew better, and she never had another friend until she was much, much older.

She wondered if she was evil, like the villains in the films. But it seemed that even the two-dimensional caricatures in those stories did what they did for a reason, they did these wicked things because they believed in something with all their might, however wrong it was. Many of them eventually turned around or were haunted to their dying days on account of conscience. It was a concept that would completely elude her for the rest of her life.

And not for lack of trying. She recalled, in vivid detail, how wonderful and warm the day had been when she and Daniel had taken his rowboat, as they often had, out into the lake. There had been a pleasant breeze on, and they were laughing and chattering like two typical eleven-year-olds. She had closed her eyes and tried to pretend, for a moment, that that was what she was. For the very first time in her life, she had almost believed it.

Perhaps, she had thought eagerly, perhaps not everybody is born without a soul. Perhaps it grows into you, a few years late. Perhaps everything has sorted itself out, and I am now a human being with a heart and a conscience.

She had glanced at Daniel, who had taken out his fishing rod and was basking in the sun, waiting for a bite. She had crawled over to him suddenly and pushed him off the boat. She had always been a strong little girl. He had never taken the time to learn how to swim.

Startled, Daniel could not even reach for the boat, and she had rowed furiously away as he began to panic. The lake was deep but not so large, and she had reached the bank quickly. Quick enough to watch him as he splashed and struggled.

He had called out her name. She had seen the final look of hurt and bewilderment in his eyes before he went under. And she had felt not the slightest twinge of guilt. Not when she had had to twist the tale and claim innocence. Not now, many years later, recalling the scene in perfect, meticulous detail.

No, she reminded herself. She was not evil. ‘Evil’ was only the polar opposite of ‘good’, but she existed on a separate set of poles entirely. She wasn’t sure what she was exactly. But she realised that human ethics and morality stemmed from their innate sensibilities, which also dictated conscience and their sense of right and wrong. She was only a scholar of their culture, trying to imagine how these theories translated into the complex mechanisms of their emotions. She was endlessly fascinated.

If all the world were indeed a stage, all of humanity were the players, and she was the singular member of the audience. She was, perhaps, a fluke of the Universe, but she liked to believe it was the natural way it balanced things out- that for normality to call itself normality, it had to have, at least, one whiff of the bizarre. Perhaps, amidst humanity’s ongoing show, there had to be a Watcher in every era. And when she died, there would be another to take her place.

(If she died. But she would find that out, sooner or later.)

So she watched. Life was stranger than fiction, but things did tend to move in tedious cycles, every now and then. And when monotony set in, she liked to break things during these Intermissions. Routines. Pride. Families. Spirits. Hearts. Necks. She especially enjoyed breaking necks, almost as much as she enjoyed breaking hearts. Shock and grief were always so interesting to watch.

They’d discover another one soon- in the dressing room, after the curtain call. She always did believe in audience participation.


The Prodigal Blog

If I have one solid talent, it’s the ability to lose absolutely anything. I’d lose my own body parts if they weren’t erm, attached.  This time, I misplaced my blog. Yes, this one.

Recently, I immersed in pictures of abandoned places, which made me realise that my cyber-journal was going in pretty much the same direction if I didn’t try to remember where I put it. At last I finally remembered it was a WordPress blog, and after many attempts, rediscovered my log-in name. (I don’t have much trouble remembering passwords, but my usernames are basically one thing now and its polar opposite in twenty minutes.)

Obviously I remembered it, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

The next tricky step- remembering why I wanted to write one in the first place.

(I’ll get back to you on that.)Image