Short Book Review: I Me Mine by George Harrison

Book Cover of "I Me Mine"

To an inveterate George Harrison fan, this book is precious.

The “autobiography” part does not tell much about the highlights of George Harrison’s life (why there’s not much exploration on his relationships with Pattie Boyd, Eric Clapton, Dhani Harrison, Olivia Harrison and even the rest of the Beatles!) but there are interesting brief accounts on band tours and Harrison’s quest on spiritual enlightenment.

The bulk of the book is primarily due to the inclusion of George Harrison’s handwritten song lyrics and photos. Gotta love the rough drafts of lyric sheets filled with notes and illustrations!

Reading The English Patient

First Vintage International Edition for The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, copyright 1992.

The English Patient is the 1993 recipient of the acclaimed Booker Prize Award, written by the Sri Lankan-Canadian Novelist Michael Ondaatje.  I just finished this novel in one sitting (I tell, you, sometimes I freak myself out this way).  Continue reading

Aftersay for Word from Wormingford by Ronald Blythe

book cover for Word for Wormingford

I felt so happy and fulfilled, yet a little bit sad knowing that I had just finished a great book – Word for Wormingford by Ronald Blythe.  I started reading the book four months ago.  I just felt a little sad because I don’t have anymore excerpts from Blythe that I could discuss in my journal.

I am, of course, a notorious lotus-eater… not having to work, ‘just sitting there writing’ and I admit such a blessing.

– Ronald Blythe  Continue reading

A Strong Voice

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta.”

When it comes to an interesting character voice – for me, nothing beats the character of Prof. Humbert Humbert from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Arguably, he can be seen as nothing but a disturbed pedophile but no one can deny how good he is in the command of the language (credits go for Tolstoy here) – something in the way Humbert Humbert talks will persuade anyone that he is Continue reading

An Education (2009)

Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan

Last night I watched An Education – a 2009 film starring Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard.  The film is directed by Lone Scherfig with a screenplay by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy, Fever Pitch).  This film is a coming-of-age story, an initiation story in which the character or the protagonist goes through an experience that will make him or her a different person afterward.   Carey Mulligan plays the role of Jenny, a 16 year old school girl who is on the run to prepare to enter Oxford University and Peter Sarsgaard plays the role of David Goldman, a middle-aged man who charms Jenny.

Since I don’t want to let you off with some spoilers, you Continue reading

Kaichou Wa Maid-Sama!

There’s a main reason why the name Usui Takumi is brewing hot in the anime world today.  A new ongoing romantic comedy anime series Kaichou Wa Maid Sama! (The Student Council President is a Maid!) currently airing today on Animax every Sunday at 8:30 am has to do with this.

The anime is classified as “shoujo” which means the anime caters to young girls and women.  This distinction can be easily grasped because of the anime’s romantic flavor brewing between two major characters: Ayuzawa Misaki and Usui Takumi.  The chemistry between them is absolutely hilarious and anime viewers find their love-hate relationship turbulently sweet and fascinating.

Ayuzawa Misaki

Ayuzawa Misaki (voiced by Ayumi Fujimura), is the first female student council president of Seika High School.  Seika is renowned for its boisterous and wild students, once an exclusive all-boys school which makes its reputation even more intimidating and terrifying to young girls.  Misaki, fueled by her determination to put the recently co-ed school into a good light, tries her best to tame wild and hardheaded Seika students.  Her own reforms are relentless and ruthless but at the end of the day they all boil down to Misaki’s best interests for the school.

However, there’s one secret that Misaki has been nursing to herself all this time.  While she poses a dominant stance toward Seika students all throughout the day, she is actually Continue reading

Word from Wormingford by Ronald Blythe

My Initial Encounter

Word from Wormingford

I took a second look on a book that I bought the other day and I just realized it’s a spiritual/religious book.  Oh shoot.  I’m not just ready for these kinds of material.  I always tell myself I still don’t have the necessary temperament to deal with the sublimity these books have.

Maybe if I got a little bit older I probably would find the comfort with the company of my books, particularly this one.

The book was entitled “Word from Wormingford” written by Ronald Blythe.  Honestly, I bought it because I thought the author sounded familiar, only to find out I must have mistaken him as Robert Bly, the renowned American poet and author.  One of my professors quoted Bly sometime in class.

The book is a sort of a religious journal, a brief day to day account of the writer while he was staying at Wormingford.  On the first entry entitled “Advent”, he talks about stream of consciousness which I can relate to (as this topic had been discussed in all my creative writing classes before).

[…] a description by the philosopher William James of the unstoppable flow of thoughts and feelings which runs through all our heads…how they stream past to quick for pen or tape.  There is no getting them down, not the best of them.  Writers are often in a quandary due to knowing that what gets on to the page is no more than a sad shadow of what, that very minute, had been pouring through their brains.”

“Advent”, page  3

I love that part when he described the ‘stream of consciousness’, the ‘metaphor is that of a stream, there was an irregularity in it.’  Perhaps it’s the best description of that writing technique I have ever read.

But as I said, this book is a spiritual one so I’m not surprise when the writer said that “the religious mind has, more than any other mind than that of a poet and artist, tried hard to navigate this stream, to follow it, to chart it.”

I’d like to have a stream of my own, but sad to say if ever I would have that, it might not be as spontaneous as it’s supposed to be.  In the future I’d try my best to loosen up, without getting lost, in the process.

The Pacific, and Why I Love War Stories

The Pacific

I’m so happy I was able to watch the new TV series on HBO Asia, “The Pacific” labeled as the most expensive TV production in history with the astounding $200 million budget.  Produced by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, in collaboration with HBO, Seven Network Australia, Playtone, and Dreamworks, the series aired last April 03, 2010, at 9pm (Holy Week!) on HBO.  I was able to feel an equally spiritual catharsis brought about by Pacific and the Easter season.

Seriously, this is James Badge Dale, and not someone else...

The Pacific is a ten-part miniseries about World War 2 which stars James Badge Dale as Robert Leckie (He looks a lot like the Glee guy! Go figure!) and Jon Seda as John Basilone – two of the many Marine soldiers who fight in the Pacific during World War 2.  The Pacific echoes another HBO TV series entitled Band of Brothers, first released in year 2001 (I was only 12 years old during this time!), only the latter was about US Army soldiers in European theater of war.  In fact, The Pacific is usually referred to as “the companion miniseries” of the Band of Brothers, maybe because these two hit TV series were both spearheaded by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks (as you must know, Spielberg and Hanks once work with each other in a war movie Saving Private Ryan).  Band of Brothers was based on a novel by the historian/biographer Stephen Ambrose and on some combatants’ memoirs in Easy Company veterans, and the series centered on the lives of US soldiers in E (Easy) Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment as they were assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in the US Army.  The Pacific, on the other hand, was based on two accounts of two Marines.  One was Eugene Sledge’s classic account of the Marines in his work With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. This memoir, published in year 1988, accounted for Sledge’s experiences while he was in a part of the Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division and the wars he fought with other Marines at Peleliu and Okinawa.  Another one was Robert Leckie’s Helmet for my Pillow, a retelling of the war of US against Japan.  The two memoirs centered on the lives of the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific.

The first two episodes were directed by Tim Van Patten (episode 1) and David Nutter (episode 2).  The battle on Guadalcanal where the Marines tried to cripple Japanese fleet was featured.  After I watched these episodes, I could already feel how provocative the series for it contained the undertones that were familiar in many realist films, the riveting tale of a stirring war story.  I noticed that I’m beginning to root for war stories and movies because I believe that one can find the most profound human experiences of life.    I’ve read war books like Jarhead by Anthony Swofford, Theory of War by Joan Brady, The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle and many more, and my favorite war movies include Apocalypse Now directed by Francis Ford Coppola and Saving Private Ryan by Steven Spielberg.  I realized that what drew me to these war stories is the profundity of human experience – the astute psychological explanation on how a war can shape Man’s consciousness about death and living.  Life is never the same again, I say.

Recently, I came across with a philosophy book about treatises about wars.  In his essay “The Greatness of War”, an excerpt from Politics, German historian Heinrich von Treitschke once said that in a war setting “…the individual must forget his own ego and feel himself a member of the whole, he must recognize how negligible is his life compared with the good of the whole.” That is what I distinctly find common in war stories.  Everyone becomes one to function as a whole.  Even more than that is the exploration on how does it feel to sleep in trenches and dreaming about home, sick, half-starved, over-fatigued, terrified, being pressed against the demands of what to do and what you don’t like to do, and being confronted by real situational features when friends become foe, the sudden change of behavior of men at war.  These conditions, one way or the other, foster Man’s view on human fatalism and compound Man’s doubts about humanity.  Then Man will be depicted as a skeptical creature in the backdrop of war, the savage, brutal, and violent activity.

Even though some people see this as a kind of negativism, I appreciate war stories because it moves me and it brings out the necessary cathartic feeling that a person should feel once in a while.  Sigh.  Harrowing stories are considered tour de force, and war stories are probably the best manifestations for that.


Even more interesting about The Pacific: the musical score by Oscar award-winner renowned film score composer and music producer Hans Zimmer, notable for the film score he made for war movies like Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor,

Steven Spielberg

The Last Samurai, The Thin Red Line, Tears of the Sun, etc.  He deftly creates an atmosphere for The Pacific, so that viewers would be able to feel the many layered tones brought about by different scenes of the miniseries.

In an interview about the making of The Pacific, Steven Spielberg said, “It’s brutal, it’s honest, and it’s

right in front of your face.”  True, it’s a realistic depiction of a war tale.  Something to expect from Spielberg.  I wish the Japs can produce something on their own too, if ever they may feel that US filmmakers might dwell too much on the realms “that concerns them”.

In this period where we can openly attacked the ideals that surround issues of war we find war stories like The Pacific a provocative and dauntless film.  The series reverberates Plato when he said that “Death is not the worst that can happen to men.” And I like it so much this way.  🙂