Saturday, September 17, 2005

MTV Hanging Out with Neil Gaiman part 6 (of 7)

I good good news and bad news. The bad news is that it won't be 10 parts as I previously mentioned. Part of the good news is that I've actually been transcribing ahead of schedule, and giving you more than the allotted two minutes per segment which I originally planned (since I didn't want to cut the interviews short while Mr. Gaiman was speaking). There's just like two and a half minutes of dialogue which I haven't transcribed, and that'll comprise the last part, part seven.

Since Anansi Boys will be released on September 20 (not sure if that's the same date for here in the Philippines), I'll try to release the last part on that day. In the meantime, you might want to check out this interview by Powells which tackles his latest novel, among other things.

Colby: Welcome back to Hanging Out at MTV, we have a very special guest, Mr. Neil Gaiman here. And, we have an audience asking him some bright questions. If you look closely at the audience, there's another MTV VJ who claims to be sick, but heard that Mr. Gaiman was coming, and he got out of bed. So Claire, Don.

Claire: All right, it's me Don, that's VJ Jojo hanging out, looking sick, getting there. We have a friend here, Cathy, she works here by the way, and she has a question for you.

Cathy: What's the status on the Death movie?

Neil: The status on the Death movie is it all seems to be chugging ahead. It's now with New Line, remember with Warner because [can't understand] of Warner Bros. Time Warner and usually Warner accepts that once we finish it, they said it's great but it's a fifty million dollar movie and we don't make that. So then there's that nine months to figure out how to transfer it over to New Line, which is another Warner's branch, whether with a smaller office. I'm going to be directing, everybody likes the script, we've sort of begun casting it, and we blew up and we'll be shooting it early next year. I never know really honestly if things are going to happen and how long they're holding on. Those things that seem absolutely certain never happen, and then those things you've given up on five years ago, suddenly you wake up, and this year in January, the [can't understand, name] decided that what you wanted to make in 1997 script directing with Roger Ebert and they're off shooting it in September, so there's no prediction. But we're going to be shooting it next year.

Don: We have another fan with another question. What's your name?

Gianne: Gianne.

Don: All right, what's your question?

Gianne: Who among your works [can't understand what she's saying]?

Neil: Oh, all of them! The joy of being a writer is if you're going to write to convince some characters and you're going to make them interesting, you're going to make people like them, good or bad, you're gonna have to find that little bit of you that's them, to like them. And whether it's a character like the Corinthian who's a gay serial killer who eats them and eats people's eyes, none of which, oddly enough, I actually am (laughs), but he has some losses, a lot of losses, we have some affinity there. Or you know, Coraline's evil other mother, who points to this sort of blubber and eats black beetles. And it's I go, I'm not very good at it but you can find those parts of you that treats love as possessions, treats love as ownership. And then you go okay, I can take all of that, and put that into that character. In the new novel Anansi Boys, probably my favorite villain ever, which is a cricket agent named Graham Coates, just because he's everything, everything I would hate about myself if I ever became a cricket agent. And he speaks in cliché's, and he's quite possibly the most irritating character I've ever written. So that.

Colby: Good stuff, good stuff. We're gonna have more with Mr. Gaiman when we return. And now another video…


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Thursday, September 15, 2005

[Essay] Easier Than It Looks

Easier Than It Looks

I have a friend who’s both a writer and an artist. He was complaining at how there’s more demand for the latter than the former (or one pays more than the other). I reason it’s because everyone is capable of writing, but not everyone is capable of drawing. One can tell good art from bad art at a glance, while with writing, there’s a lot more subtlety involved. But looking back on things, is that really so? Can everyone truly write, and the art of drawing relegated to a chosen few?

Isn’t it strange that while writing has become prominent in this day and age (if you can spell your name, that’s considered writing), most of us consider drawing to be the exclusive realm of artists, geniuses, and the gifted? But when you look at our history, the first thing our homo sapien ancestors scribbled on their prehistoric cave walls weren’t letters but drawings (unless you’re Chinese, in which case your alphabet was derived from artwork). Is there literally a missing link?

Some of my writer friends and I claim that we can’t draw to save our life. That’s a lie. I can draw. You can draw. The difference is, I can’t draw well. To put it bluntly, my art sucks. So I stop drawing and in the end, that is perhaps what differentiates the artists from the layman. Writing, however, is different. Whether you’re a professional writer or just a regular employee trying to get along with your life, you will write and write until the day you die. One may not be aware of it, but all of us writes, whether it’s in the letters we send to each other, with the emails we send via computer and phone, or in memos, faxes, and blogs. Thus it’s easy to have a misconception that writing is easy, or just because he can do it we can too.

Actually, writing is simple. It’s a piece of cake. Writing grammatically-correct sentences or weaving enrapturing stories, however, is another story. The best copywriters are paid the highest and the best wordsmiths are the most prominent because of their skill in mincing words. I can easily tell a story. Whether it moves you or not determines how good I am. A professional writer becomes famous because of this capability. It’s not the telling of the story that makes him unique. Everyone tells stories, after all, whether it’s during our drunken revelries, at midnight in the middle of a campfire, or simple gossip among close friends. It’s how effective he is. Writing is pretty much like philosophy: everyone can do it; some are just better at elucidating it than others.

Because writing is such a common art, it doesn’t surprise me that prodigies are all around, whether it’s a teenager writing a best-selling novel, or a lady in her late thirties who’s never attended a workshop suddenly winning a writing competition. There’s something innate and natural about writing that we practice it subconsciously. Of course there are those less gifted (like me) who have to learn how to write well the hard way, but we never start from scratch, and actually possess the barest notion on how to go about it. Even dyslexic people are capable of crafting great stories: it’s in the little things like grammar and tenses that they need to work on.

Having said that, not everyone emerges as a Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. The real challenge in writing isn’t in mastering an art that few people are capable of (such as wine connoisseurs), but rather excelling in a craft that people practice everyday. A writer doesn’t strive to be better than a chosen few, but strives to be better than everyone else. That is his calling: to write and write until no one can dispute his art. When a lot of people write, it’s too easy to get lost in the sea of mediocrity. One must stand out.

Unfortunately, the bane of any master writer is ignorance. If one becomes too skillful, your words suddenly seem so esoteric, your allusions so unfamiliar, at least to the common man. And no matter how correct your English is, if the majority disbelieves you, error mutates into reality. I mean it wasn’t so long ago that the word nice meant foolishness. And in the Philippines alone, we’ve managed to corrupt the word salvage and transform it from something salvational into something sinister. Such a scenario would not have been possible if the written word was practiced by the knowledgeable but few. It only arose in a world of amateur writers and commonplace authors.

There’s a lot of magic in words, but we need not be sages of the written word in order to practice it. Most people are capable of writing, and telling stories is one of the most natural things in the world. Yet it is an art in which your rivals are infinite, and where good writing is not so easily distinguished from the bad.

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[Blog Entry] Book Death

Book Death

Because of the storm yesterday, my copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife was almost a victim of book death.

What’s book death? Books aren’t living creatures, how can they be killed? Well, they are made of trees, and aren’t trees living organisms? That aside, book death is my term when books cease to remain functional for you.

Take for example soaking your book in water. Is it still intact? Yes. Is it readable? Probably not. And the pages are probably sticking to each other, and bloated in irregular shapes. A coffee stain on a novel is not book death. You’re merely inconvenienced. A book thrown into the shredding machine constitutes book homicide. You should be shot on the spot.

Anyway, water is a lethal opponent of books. It warps it at best, destroys it at its worst. The rain managed to seep into my envelope, my notebooks being its first victims. Thankfully, it ceased by the time it approached my novel (perhaps the fact that it’s a Vintage book also helps… never underestimate the power of cover coating!).

I’ve experienced a few book deaths in my life. The Robots of Dawn fell victim to a similar experience, except its plastic casing couldn’t shield it from the rain forever. Some of my Vampire: The Masquerade fell victim to faulty air conditioning, warping the middle parts of the book but not the covers or the outer pages. Then there’s my friend’s Dragonlance books, which again fell victim to rain.

More common though is book theft. Apparently, writers aren’t the only people who are starving. So are readers. Haven’t you encountered the scenario when you say you’ll return the book, plan to return the book, but never get to do so? Welcome to the world of book theft. You’ve just committed a book crime.

There’s also this one incident when I ordered a book from my friend. I handed the book to her, but she hasn’t paid for it yet. So somebody out there owns me a few thousand pesos, but she’s not paying. Not exactly book theft but more of financial theft. Of course financial theft means I have less books to buy, so it can lead to book death as well.

Right now, I’m still waiting for vermin to literally eat my books. That hasn’t happened yet, although a rat did come close. I stopped putting my books on the floor when a rat ran rampant in my room.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

[Blog Entry] Time Travel

Time Travel

In an old comic of the Silver Age Flash, it is discovered that a comic writer’s dreams could see into another dimension. This dimension would later be called Earth-2, and is a world where the original Golden Age Flash resided in. (A variant of this could be seen in the Justice League cartoon, but instead of the Flash we have Green Lantern instead making the connection.)

While it’s romantic to say that our dreams reflect another dimension, that’s not the only possibility. Don’t you have dreams wherein you just feel déjà vu? Or perhaps you’re dreaming of a past event, and in rarer cases, the future. Not that it helps knowing because in dreams, you kind of feel helpless. You go along with the dream, unaware that it’s a dream until you wake up. (Even worse is when you dream of a future event, and you don’t realize it in the present until it’s happened, and then you remember “I dreamed of that!” too late.) No matter how much you might try to change the past, it still goes as planned. And of course, there are times when your dreams are filled with variants: classes you never had, conversations you never experienced, meeting a friend in a different manner… it gives new meaning to the term “alternate history”.

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[Blog Entry] The Storms of September

The Storms of September

It’s 1995 and tomorrow will be Friday, the day you invite your friends over for a sleepover birthday party. It’s raining hard, and you can’t go to sleep. You’re torn between wishing it’ll rain harder, so that classes will be called off, or wishing it’ll weaken, so that your party can push through.


You wonder what commuters are feeling right now. The storm arrives at 5 pm, but it lasts for a few hours. You’ve spent nine hours working hard in a job you don’t like, and when your shift finally ends, you can’t get out of the building because of the rain. You try to commute, but your umbrella collapses, and your clothes get drenched. A speeding jeep passes by, and splashes you with a wave of water.


Like a bad plot hook to a horror movie or story, thunder crackles and rain pours. You’re stuck in the middle of Ortigas, and the one haven that looms out in the distance is Mega Mall. You’re drawn to it and head towards it amidst the heavy downpour. But once inside, you’re trapped, as the weather prevents you from straying. And within its labyrinthine walls are all sorts of wonders and pitfalls that distract you from getting home.


You’ve walked a few miles, bag in tow, umbrella in one hand. The storm has been reduced to a drizzle, but each drop of water is as heavy as lead. You take a step forward and you recall Aesop’s fable of the two crows racing in the rain. Your shirt isn’t made of cotton, but it feels like your burden increases with each and every step.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

[Essay] The Art of Book Reviews: It’s Not As Easy As It Looks

The Art of Book Reviews: It’s Not As Easy As It Looks

Not so long ago, I thought that my ideal job would be that of a book reviewer; doing nothing but read books all day, and then write reviews on them. That wish never came true, and even if it did, it would probably be less than perfect.

For example, my reading taste revolves around a certain genre: namely fantasy and science-fiction. I imagine that there are two extremes a book reviewer will face: either he gets to choose which books he wants to review, or he gets whatever is thrown his way, either by the publisher or the publication he’s working for. In the case of the former, it’s not a problem for the reviewer, but it might be for his readers, because the subject matter he tackles revolves around a small niche, and might end up writing derivative reviews. As for the latter, the reviewer might have more variety, but there’s a good chance he’ll be reading a lot of horrible books. And unlike the casual reader who can simply put down a novel that doesn’t interest them, you have to plough through the book from beginning to end. It’s like Simon from American Idol forcing himself to listen to William Hung for one full hour, just to be sure that Hung really is that horrible, and to what extent.

Assuming a book reviewer manages to balance his book choices, the next question he faces is how many books he will review. Theoretically, the more books he can cover, the better. Unlike other forms of media which has a set number of pages or a fixed time, books not only come in all shapes and sizes, they come in various thickness and font sizes as well. A music album release, for example, takes around an hour, while watching a movie two hours (Lord of the Rings, Dances with Wolves, and JFK being the exception). Reading a book, however, has no definite time (unless you’re talking of audio books). Readers read at their own pace, and allot different hours for reading them. One of the worst questions I encounter (and I get this often) is how long does it take me to finish reading a book. If they want a specific answer, they’ll have to give me a specific book. Children’s books (but remember, there are various kinds of children’s books) take me around a few hours to finish. Paperbacks in the 300-400 pages count take me a day or two. Mammoth books with page counts amounting to four digits takes me longer. Content also plays a significant role. Does the book contain pictures, and how much? Is the language simple, or is it as complex as reading James Joyce’s Ulysses? Are the paragraphs long, or are they broken down into shorter segments? One has to realize that no books are identical, although some books share similarities with others, especially books by the same author (but that’s as far as it goes).

Once again, we go back to the number of books a person is capable of reviewing. It all depends on the person’s capability, and what kind of books he’s reviewing. An adult novel or two for me is okay. Anything more than that depends on my passion and availability. I mean is doing book reviews feeding me and my family? If so, I can probably afford to drop everything else, and start reading for the first three weeks of the month, and then churn out the reviews at the last. If not, then what can I accommodate into my schedule, taking into account work, recreation, and my social life.

Then there’s the actual review writing. The first thing every reviewer should ask is who their audience is. Am I writing the review for fiction aficionados? Or the casual reader? Kids? Perhaps even the non-reader. This will take into account your writing style, and how you will tackle your subject matter. As a fantasy reader, for example, if my audience are fantasy fans, then I can drop multiple allusions to other fantasy work and/or writers into my review. If not, then It’s probably better for me to stick to something more mainstream when it comes to name dropping.

Knowing your audience also helps the reviewer answer this one important question: to spoil or not to spoil? Many people who read book reviews will be irked if they read a review that has spoilers, especially when unwarned. However, giving out spoilers is sometimes inevitable, as reviewers need to mention something about the book in order to review it; one should just be wary to what extent he spoils the reader. Readers who’ve already read the book obviously will not care about the spoilers, but instead appreciate it as the reviewer can go more into detail about what’s good or what’s wrong with the book, and can cite the specific circumstance. So on one end, spoilers can alienate the casual reader, but gives the reviewer more tools to work with. On the other, a reviewer can limit the spoilers he reveals, but has to be more general in his review of the novel.

What do I mean by limiting spoilers? Well, the book summaries at the back of books already do spoil readers, as they sometimes mention the plot of the book or the premise. There are even rare circumstances when book cover summaries actually spoil the main gist of the story (hint to readers: never read back covers if you want to fully enjoy the reading experience!). Book reviewers might want to start from there. Of course there’s no set rule, and reviewers will debate with themselves what to include and what not to. Should I name the person that gets killed, or simply let it be known that a character dies? Should I tell that the book’s plot is really about this, or should I let the reader discover it for themselves? Obviously, if a reviewer doesn’t mind giving out spoilers, he doesn’t have to ponder on these unnecessary decisions, and just write the best review he can come up with, mentioning all the elements he thinks are important. And in that sense, the best book review is perhaps one that contains spoilers, because the reviewer doesn’t need to hold himself back. However, the best book reviews aren’t always what readers are looking for, and simply need a nudge whether to buy this book or not.

In the end though, what makes a book review work or not is the sensibilities of both the reviewer and the reader. If there’s a huge disparity in their preferences, no matter how much the reviewer recommends the book, or how well-written the review is, the reader might just end up disappointed. The problem isn’t with the reviewer but with the reader: what the reader needs to do is look for a book reviewer whose tastes are similar to theirs. Thus a favorable review will elicit positive reactions from the reader. There’s no secret formula for readers to know which book reviewers are for them. Sometimes, you get a hint from their reviews, but more often than not, it’s a hit-or-miss thing, and the only way to know is to pick up a book they recommend (or not recommend).

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MTV Hanging Out with Neil Gaiman part 5 (of 10)

Don: All right, well we got another question by another fan, what's your name?

Quark: I am Quark, hello sir. This is a funny MTV trick question but I hear your friend Stephen King has a rock band with Amy Tan and other writers so I was just wondering if you were to form a rock band with your writer friends or the artists who would comprise the band?

Neil: That's scary. I actually have, before I answer that I should actually say that I have actually sung—with—the Rock Bottom Remainders, which is Stephen King and Amy Tan and Dave Barry and those guys and I was standing, watching them in the Last Book Expo America in New York about three years ago, and I was in the audience going, well it went well for the old guys. That kind of thing going and suddenly Stephen King comes up to the microphone and says Neil Gaiman's in the audience, Neil, come on up and I say, oh. So I come up on stage and they hand me a Rock Bottom Remainder's Kazoo, and I play Kazoo, on their version of New Wave, and you have to be honest, you haven't played until you've played Kazoo on the Rock Bottom Remainder's. I knew my place in rock history was never assured. And if I were to form a band, it would be fellow writers and actually what I probably do is try and shoot and get writers like, you know, people like Steven Brust. Dave McKean is an amazing musician. I'd get all these guys who can actually play things. And then I'd just sit in a corner and play music.

Claire: Okay, well I have a question for you. How did you feel as a young writer when you wrote Don't Panic and meeting Douglas Adams and all of that?

Neil: Douglas Adams, it was really educational. And really cool. And enormous, getting to work with Douglas. I was very lucky. I got a phone call one day from a publisher saying we have the rights to do the book about Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Douglas has given his permission, but we don't have a writer. Our writers just went out on us. You've interviewed Douglas a couple of times for magazines, would you be interested in doing it? I went wow, this is a chance of a lifetime for a journalist, and I did. The best of it was just having access to Douglas and his files, and sitting and going through Douglas's filing cabinets, reading all drafts of things, reading his press files, going through the various different drafts of the Shadow script and stuff. It's amazing. And of course getting to know Douglas, who was hilarious. Hilarious and a very dry sort of tripping over things way. My favorite Douglas Adams moment, looking back on it, just because I felt like it qualified for me what kind of person Douglas was, there's a thing in Hitchhiker's about knowing where your towel is. Some kind of people know where their towel is, and these are people who know where their towel is. Which means that you're cool, you know what's going on. You have your towel and you go with them. And a lot of people today love to honor Douglas by saying to me, you know, Douglas, you up for a towel day every year, we carry our towels because Douglas was a free piece sort of who, who knew where his towel. I remember being a city in Douglas's office, going through the scripts through Shadow and whatever was going through during that day, and Douglas's stepmother was wandering around and she suddenly came downstairs and she says, where are the towels? Douglas was shouting, he's in the bath, and he doesn't have a towel in there. We were wandering around the house, they'd just move into this new house, hunting for the towels and I'll let you know. The whole point about Douglas was he was the kind of person who didn't know where his towel is, because they're the kind of person who notice that he went through the divide to those of us who know where the towels are, and those who don't.

Claire: Okay, that's very very cool. We'll have more with Mr. Gaiman later. We have a music video right now.


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Monday, September 12, 2005

[Blog Entry] Getting Into the Spirit of Serenity

Getting Into the Spirit of Serenity

In light of next week's premiere of the film Serenity, here is part 1 to an exclusive with Joss Whedon. Part 2 can be found here.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

[Essay] Justice


Perhaps it’s because I live in a third-world country, but the word justice often comes up, and in various contexts. It could mean food for the hungry, jobs for the unemployed, fair wages for the masses, or simply punishing the unjust. The last point I want to expound on. In media, in literature, and in real life, the lines between justice and revenge (or vengeance, if you prefer) is blurred. If we want someone punished, we cry out for justice. If there’s a mass-murderer out there, we seek his capture so that he may be sentenced to death. And you know, that kind of reaction is natural, human nature. It’s as reflexive as kicking when the doctor taps you kneecap. Many supporters of this kind of belief will usually favor the Old Testament, quoting the passages of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Turning your other cheek is so unnatural that it’s what makes Christian doctrine so progressive for its time. Yet for all the beliefs that the Bible instills in its followers, people still clamor for revenge in the guise of justice. But is this what rational, enlightened people should ask, let alone a just and merciful deity should condone?

Throughout grade school and high school, I’m the kid that gets pushed around, a prime target of the bullies. In my eyes, if there’s anyone who should seek deific vengeance, it’s me, one of the oppressed. Some people might even carry bitter feelings inside them even if such incidents were a decade old. Fortunately, I’m not one of them. Perhaps the day I was converted to another kind of belief was when I met one of the people who bullied me. He approached me as a friend rather than an oppressor. He was asking if he could borrow some money for me, nothing large, just a few coins. While I suspected a part of the act was a farce, he didn’t retaliate when I couldn’t give him what he wanted. He merely thanked me and walked away. And over the course of many years, I’d meet people who were once the bullies, the guys on top, live reformed lives. This experience rather than Biblical text is perhaps what showed me that there’s something better than punishment.

Theoretically, reformation is something our society strives for. The reason we put criminals in jail is so that they can know the consequences of their actions and change for the better. Whether it’s effective or not (or even appropriate, as anyone who’s watched or read Les Miserables will know) is an entirely different matter. Yet when a crime is committed and the criminal is apprehended, society clamors the convict to be jailed, not because they hope that he or she will be converted, but in order to be punished. Once again, this is the normal human reaction. When someone kills one of your loved ones, steals your hard-earned money, or threatens your life, the immediate reaction is to strike back. I must admit, there’s a certain sense of satisfaction in that. But in such a scenario, I think of the future and realize that at best, what we’ve managed to accomplish is only to rid the world of one less human being. To some people, that’s not so bad. But if you think about it, there’s actually something better.

Don’t you have a friend who was once a bully? Or perhaps someone who was very unlikable, but changed and is now one of your good buddies. It could easily have been a rival, an enemy, or simply someone who gave a wrong first impression. Despite all their faults, they’re your friends now. Let’s assume that you didn’t change, and that it was they who started acting differently. Wouldn’t you have someone, despite (or perhaps because of) their horrible past, be your friend in the present? The alternative of course is that they’d be jailed up somewhere, never to see the light of day. Or worse, sentenced to the death penalty. It’s simple math: zero, or something. Yet many of us prefer the former, thinking that revenge would be sweeter, or that the person would never change for the better. With regards to reformation, you never know unless you give the person a chance. It might not be something you can change in him or her, but circumstances have ways of altering a person, whether for good or ill. As for revenge, well, some do develop a taste for it. To me, it’s just a precious waste of resources. What rules us when it comes to revenge isn’t our intellect, but our appetite. While following our appetite when it comes to food is okay, it’s another thing when it comes to human life.

Let me take things to another level. A friend of mine once told me that she thinks in the afterlife, God will punish the unjust, even if they’ve been converted. She reasons that if that weren’t the case, what happens to the rest who’ve been good all their life? She and I agree on one point though: we don’t know how God will behave. God is, after all, the most justice and good character we can imagine. In this case, my friend believes that God will mete our justice. I don’t, at least not to those who are reformed. Admittedly, a part of me wants to see people punished. As my friend said, what happens to the rest of us who’ve been good the entire time? Where’s the justice in that? But that’s not the rational part of me speaking. An enlightened person would think things through. I mean honestly, if you used to be the most horrible person, and then you genuinely decided to be good, your past is enough to haunt you for the rest of your life. Punishing you in the afterlife is like giving medication to a person who’s cured. Not only is it inappropriate, it’s causing unnecessary pain. Sure, if the person wasn’t sincere in their reformation, go ahead and punish them. But punishing a good person because of their past is as fair as punishing the son for the sins of the father (that’s not to say that the guilty shouldn’t be punished; they have to live with the consequences, but they can expect forgiveness from the merciful).

If that was the case, some of you might be asking, what about the people who’ve been good all their lives? Would their rewards be the same in my vision of an utopian society? Well, there’s the parable of the Prodigal Son. The elder brother, the one who didn’t run away and stayed, asks his father the same question. What about me? There was forgiveness for the Prodigal Son, and the older brother’s initial reaction was where’s the justice in that? God’s answer to him was that he’ll inherit everything He’s built up so far. But in concrete terms, what is that? Well to me, at the very least, the people who’ve lived good lives won’t be bothered by their conscience. I mean if I was a criminal, for example, who eventually reformed, no matter what I do in the present, I’ll still be mentally haunted by my past. Because I can never undo my crimes, and whatever wrong I did to other people will linger in my mind. Call it whatever you want, be it trauma, nightmares, or guilt. If I truly lived my life as holy as I make it out to be, then I won’t have that burden, even if my final fate is the same as the converted.

Before I end, I’d like to point out that no one lives a pure and good life. We’ve all made mistakes, and aren’t we grateful for those who gave us a second, or even a third chance in life? We might not have committed crimes, but we have performed unjust acts. Whether it’s something mortal or venial, there’s always a chance for reformation, for change. The one thing I dislike about death is that it halts change. A dead prisoner can’t be enlightened and ask for penitence, at least not in this life. And for those who judge others in light of their own righteousness, well, it’ll be ironic if God sentenced you to the same punishments you’ve been clamoring for in others.

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MTV Hanging Out with Neil Gaiman part 4 (of 10)

Don: Is the key, the character Delirium, based on her?

Neil: I created Delirium before I met Tori. She was in, Delirium was in the comic. Having said that, when I met Tori, it was like, oh my God, I met you. (laughs) You know, this enormous sort of recognition. You know she's this sort of person who, once in like 1991 we bumped into each other in Minneapolis, sitting in a hotel, sitting on the floor eating old pizzas, 2 am off this, she looks up and says quickly, now we must jump up and down and up and down and run around and around. So we did. Not so bad.

Don: Wow, that's awesome. Anyways, we're going right on to this Tori Amos video, Sleeps with Butterflies, and we'll have more of Neil Gaiman after this.


Claire: Hey everyone you are still hanging out on MTV with me Claire, I'm here with Mr. Neil Gaiman.

Crowd: -cheers-

Claire: Colby and Don are over there with our studio audience fans.

Colby: I'm here with some fans, what's your name my girl?

Waya: Waya.

Colby: And you have a question for Mr. Neil Gaiman?

Waya: Yes I do. This is about your children's literature. I was just wondering how far and how dark do you think children's lit can go, do you set yourself some limitations?

Neil: I really don't. In the first place I think that children's literature is traditionally the darkest part of literature. Look at some of the stories even now. Hansel and Gretel. It's a story of two kids whose parents cannot feed them so they decide to abandon them in the woods, they take them out and raise them, and the kids are captured by a witch and plans to eat one of the children. Luckily they push the witch into the oven and kill her and return where fortunately their mother has died so they all live happily ever after. I mean you can't get much darker than that. You got cannibalism, so I think kids are very good at coping with the dark. I think that kids are actually better than adults at coping with the dark because it's like with a lighter persons. What's really weird is my nearest novel for adults, which is called Anansi Boys, is funny and it doesn't really have swearing, it doesn't have any sex, and it's just sort of kind of a nice book. And I finished that and that's really weird because I just finished that and I've started my next children's novel, which is called the Gray Hare book and so far the first four pages is the most scary thing I've ever written. With a serial killer walking around the house in the dark calling in the night threatening to kill the entire family, looking for the baby to finish them all off. I worked at it and found oh well, I like the story since they come and seems to be the next children's story.

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[Blog Entry] Work Schedule, Professional Stalker

Work Schedule

From time to time, it’s good to look back at the week, and instead of complaining at how things didn’t go away, just appreciate what you’ve managed to accomplish.

When I recall what my work schedule for this week was, I was just surprised at how active I was.

Monday: Photo Shoot at Gateway Mall.
Wednesday: Photo Shoot at Cibo.
Thursday: Photo Shoot at Cibo, Pepato, and Café Bola.
Friday: Photo Shoot at Mandarin Oriental.
Saturday: Photo Shoot at Netopia.

That’s a lot of photo shoots, even for me.

Professional Stalker

When people ask me what my job is, they’re baffled, especially when I mention The Philippines Yearbook. Unlike Pulp which has become part of Philippine pop culture consciousness, The Philippines Yearbook is honestly something known only by the elite, by the sophisticated, and even then, only half the time unless they’re involved in tourism.

So what exactly is it I do as editorial assistant, aside from arranging photo shoots? Well, to put it bluntly, I stalk people. As much as I joke around that I’m a stalker, it seems that my job involves me doing some detective work.

A typical day involves my boss mentioning the names of some people he wants to include in the publication. I get a name, and hopefully, a profession in which they’re known for. Thankfully, the people that will be featured in next year’s edition are, for the most part, well known, although there are definitely some obscure ones. My job is to track them down and send them an invitation to be part of our publication.

But since I’m new at this, I don’t exactly have a phone book full of names and contact numbers. I had to do it the old fashioned way, getting one contact number at a time, and following a lead until it finally brings me to the person I want to talk to. In some cases, there’s a lot of intermediaries, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At other times, after a phone call or two, I immediately get in touch with the person I’m looking for.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, and that’s definitely not the part which makes my day stressful.

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