Thursday, January 05, 2006

[Blog Entry] Terry Pratchett Interview, 20 Years Ago

Terry Pratchett Interview

Fully Booked has a short interview with youknowwho.

20 Years Ago

I was at the Philippine Star library yesterday, looking at periodicals from 1986, a post-EDSA Philippines. Back in the day when $1 = P20. Of course the best thing to describe the experience is history repeats itself. The LRT had just been erected, and it faced the same woes the MRT was facing. Economic crisis? Check. Kidnappings, violence? Still there. Massacres? Yes. Kris Aquino? Affirmative.

Of course I'm not stating all that to belittle the progress of the country. Some people think that the past was better, that the present is worse than ever. I don't think that's really the case. The past has just been as horrible as the present. We might have been younger, less insightful, less cynical, or simply more naive back then. Or maybe our memories have been dulled by time, and we prefer to remember the good more than the bad. There's an anecdote I heard from someone more wiser (forgive me if I get the details wrong... I'm recounting this from memory). Someone was asked to give a speech at a school and he read a letter stating how the youth were getting wilder and wilder, more unruly. The parents at the school agreed. And then the speaker said that the letter he read was what the speaker xx years ago said about their generation.

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[Essay] Guide to Photo Shoots for Editorial Assistants

Guide to Photo Shoots for Editorial Assistants

1) The simpler it is, the easier it is for you. Typically, the easiest shoot to organize is one that requires the talent (subject of the photograph), the photographer, and the make-up artist. The more people involved, the harder it is to organize a photo shoot. Why? Because if just one person cancels, your perfect photo shoot is gone. The odds are, the less people to coordinate with, the higher your chances it’ll push through. It’s also easier to coordinate and reschedule if necessary with three people, compared to a dozen.
2) Set different call times. Call time is the agreed upon time to meet for the photo shoot. Theoretically, everyone should have the same call time. But in my experience, that shouldn’t always the case. The fact of the matter is, people operate on different times. Some come early (a rarity). Others come late (and at different degrees as well). There are also those who value promptness (“When I arrive, let’s begin the shoot!”). Because of this, it’s advisable to give different call times to the staff. For example, if I have a make-up artist who’s usually an hour late no matter what time I give him/her, my call time is one hour earlier for him/her. A talent that’s usually three hours late has a three hour earlier call time. A photographer who doesn’t want to wait up on the make-up artist and the talent might get a call time of one hour later, so that when he arrives, make-up has been applied and all he needs to do is take some test shots and is good to go. And of course, you yourself should, at the very least, arrive on time if not earlier. Depending on the location, people will surely be asking for directions, or inquiries on who’s there and who isn’t. There’s no room for equality when it comes to time. Of course this tip can only be handled with experience. If you’re working with someone for the first time, you really don’t know if he/she will come on time or not. Just to be sure, give them an allowance of 30 minutes. Keeping records is also handy, so that you know how what call time to give the next time you work with someone.
3) Learn small talk. I’m the last person you should be getting advice on this from, but learning small talk is a valuable skill for the editorial assistant. Suffice to say, people will be late. It could be the make-up artist, the talent, the photographer, or any combination from the three (and that’s assuming there’s only three other people involved in the shoot). When the two other people haven’t arrived, you should play host. Talk to the person, entertain him/her. The last thing you want is for them to be disgruntled. It’ll reflect on the way they do their job, whether it’s in the make-up, the photography, or the pose. At the very least, they’ll consider working with you again in the future. When the other person arrives, you can relax as the two will most likely talk and make their own introductions. But in the meantime, make small talk, and be interested in the other person.
4) Be a shock absorber. Actually, the correct statement should be “be ready to be a shock absorber.” You’ll be one whether you like it or not. The reason why setting different call times and learning small talk is important is because some people won’t come on time. In a perfect world, that shouldn’t be the case, but it’s obvious that’s not how things work. The instinct of people is to blame someone other than themselves. And since you’re the person who organized the shoot in the first place, they will blame you. If the talent is late, the photographer will blame you. If the make-up artist is late, the photographer and talent will blame you. If the photographer is late, the talent will blame you. If the shoot doesn’t push through, your boss will blame you. Obviously, it won’t always be your fault: no matter how much allowance you allot someone for being late and no matter how often you follow-up, they will find ways to disappoint you. A photo shoot is a group activity, after all, so not everything is within your power to control. But still, you will get blamed. Learning small talk delays the anger. But if someone arrives too late, you have an angry staff. In a certain way, it’s good for them to be angry at you. If a photographer is angry at a talent, for example, it might come out in his/her photo. Same goes for the talent, or the make-up artist. Now there are times when someone you’re working for is the reason why the photo shoot didn’t work out too well. Don’t place the blame on them. The last thing you want is for the staff to refuse future jobs with the company because of an incompetent boss. It’ll also look bad on you: I mean how would you react if an employee constantly kept complaining about his/her superior? Better an incompetent employee rather than an incompetent company. You’re a shock absorber whether you want it or not. The trick is to be ready for it.
5) Plan Ahead. Have a checklist prepared. When it comes to pre-production for a shoot, make sure that everything is in place: you have all the necessary props, you have all the necessary staff, and make sure all permits and logistical necessities have been done. Account for time it takes you to file for the necessary permits, or to get permission to make the necessary pull-outs when it comes to accessories. Another helpful tip is that it’s better to have more than to have little: be generous when making allowances. And when taking photos in a public place, make sure you have all the necessary permits. You don’t want several weeks of preparation go down the drain because when you get to the location, you’re halted by the local authorities.
6) Follow Up. The secret to setting up a successful photo shoot is to follow up, from gathering the talents and photographers to securing permits and pull-outs. My typical formula is to inform, confirm, and then follow up. Inform the subject that they’ll be involved in the project, confirm if they can commit, and then finally follow up on it on the days to come. Make no mistake, there’s a difference between nagging the person and following up on them. If the shoot, for example, is one week ahead, don’t call the person everyday. Inform them on the first day, perhaps confirm in the middle of the week, and then follow up one day before the shoot. I also text them the address of the location on the same day both as a reminder and to make sure they get the proper directions.
7) Gratefulness and Respect. Even if your company is the one hiring the talents, the photographers, and the make-up artist, they’re not working for you; they’re working with you. There’s a difference. Give them proper courtesy and talk to them properly. Smiling and small talk helps, but also be grateful for the service that they’re doing. Don’t be too thankful, since there’s a certain posture to be maintained (and the photo shoot is an endeavor that has mutual benefits and is not simply a favor to one person), but don’t be too snobbish either. Handy statements are “thanks for coming on time” or “it was nice working with you”. And when someone doesn’t meet expectations, such as not coming on time, never insult them. You can show your disappointment, but don’t let your words reflect your anger. You’re here to coordinate a photo shoot, not start a brawl. Accept the apologies and arrange the photo shoot as best as you can with the given circumstances. Chastisement should occur after the shoot, in private; you’re not here to publicly embarrass them. And even then, scolding them should only be the last resort. There are probably other, more peaceful ways of reflecting your disappointment with their tardiness or ineffectiveness. If they are truly disappointing, don’t work with them in the future. They’re not worth the headache. If you’re forced to work with them again, you’ll be glad you didn’t insult them.
8) Post-Shoot Work. It could be paying the fees of the contributors, collecting the photos from the photographer, or returning items that you pulled out. Whatever the case, they must be done. In the case of collecting the photos, all your hard work will be for naught if you don’t have the final product to show for it. Assist your staff in getting their payment or whatever else that they might need; you never know when you’ll need them again, and it’s better to work with a positive slate rather than an indebting one. Also keep your receipts and take note what items were used and/or paid for during the photo shoot. You want to be compensated for them, or at the very least keep a record of what was involved for future reference.
9) Don’t Fret. Not all photo shoots will work perfectly. Sometimes, in pre-production, people won’t respond immediately. In times like these, a common reaction is to panic, get nervous, or be anxious. Don’t be. It’s not in your hands anymore. If the talent can’t respond immediately, no amount of follow ups will change that. Be patient and concentrate your energy on other stuff. Work on other projects. Read a book. Meditate. You will face the same anxiousness again during the actual shoot, while waiting for all the elements to come together. Again, don’t panic. You can follow up on people once. After that, you’ll just have to trust them and be patient. Constant nagging will only annoy the other person, especially when they’re en route to your location.
10) Reward Yourself. The secret to being sane is to reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be big. It could be treating yourself out to dinner. Or looking at the final photos, and congratulating yourself at a job well done. There are rewards to every venture; one must just pay attention to them. Give yourself some breathing room before you go on and move to the next photo shoot.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

[Blog Entry] Photoshoots, Exercise


Despite doing more than 4 dozen photoshoots last year, it hasn't gotten any easier for me. Sure, I make less mistakes, and in certain ways, you're more prepared, but the anxieties are no less than last year's. You just know how to better cope with them.

In certain ways, that's good news for me as well. I'm doing something that's not in my comfort zone.


Surprisingly, after a year (or two) of not running my regular laps, I discovered that my endurance was more than it was from two years ago. What used to leave me winded is... less exhausting.

One of the benefits actual running does for me (as opposed to doing the treadmill) is that I run out of breath. There's a certain point where you know your leg and arm muscles can still do the distance, but it's your heart that can't. The reason why people stop running is because breathing becomes more difficult.

There's a right way to jog/run, and proper breathing techniques is one of them. However, it still leaves the runner winded after a certain time. And when you're exhausted, there's a big temptation to simply stop. The benefits of having a regiment or set goal (as opposed to exercising until you're tired) is that you train yourself mentally to stick to it (and of course, not to overextend yourself).

Ultimately, exercise not only trains the body but your mental fortitude as well. Committing one's self to getting up every day to train, and to finish one's regiment, more than anything, is a battle of the will.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

[Blog Entry] First Day of Hell, Some Things Just Can't Be Juxataposed, Stolen Links

First Day of Hell

Tomorrow's my first photo shoot for the year (well, technically the 1st and 2nd since I have two photo shoots tomorrow), and well, Murphy's Law is already at work. I'm feeling the stress and tension already. =)

Some Things Just Can't Be Juxataposed

One of the best text messages I got for the New Year was this: "May you get what you want (and want what you get)." Here's an example of how you can interchange a phrase or two to make a statement effective. Unfortunately, it's not always as effective. For example...

"May you get what you need." That's a great statement. However the reverse isn't always beneficial if you think about it. "May you need what you want." So if I want an iPod, I wonder what situation I must undergo to actually NEED one.

Stolen Links

Stolen from Nodwick:

It's a 1 hour, 9 minute anime music video. God, that's a lot of free time (editing alone...). And there's too many anime spliced into it that there's bound to be one that you'll recognize. On a side note, the first scene had the wackiest uses for, uh, breasts (see girls reload a gun!). I hope that with a length of more than an hour, I don't need to tell you that it's recommended to be a broadband user.

As for the RPG player in me, here are mp3s of actual game sessions. Dang, I threw away the tape of our gaming sessions...

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Monday, January 02, 2006

[Blog Entry] Manga of 2005

Manga of 2005

Because deep down, I’m really an anime and manga fan at heart, although lately, it’s been more of the latter. So here’s what I’ve been reading for the past year, not all of them of course are notably good.

Addicted to Curry. Yes, it’s a cooking manga… about curry! There are even recipes at the end of each volume, and well, it’s funny and touching in general.

Beck. Tales of a fictional rock and roll band. Quite down to earth, although admittedly, the pace is quite slow. Just goes to show that the path to greatness isn’t always quick.

Bleach. Basically the Yu Yu Hakusho (“Ghost Fighter”) of this generation. Lots of fighting action, group camaraderie, and interesting villains. It’s going to be a long ride though, so brace yourself.

Bowling King. The only time you’ll see me read Chinese comics. Pop culture comedy with soap opera elements. And oh yeah, bowling!

Death Note. The battle of the super geeks! It’s mystery with a touch of the fantastical… and an incredibly smart Villain in the vein of Ozymandias in more ways than one. Too bad the protagonist(s) are just as smart…

Detective Conan. Get your typical cool calculating detective, give him James Bond gadgets, then shrink him into a kid. It’s actually classic mystery with closed-room cases and seemingly impossible crimes. There’s also a fictional detective profile with each volume.

Eyeshield 21. I’m telling you, this is the next big thing in sports history. A meek, bullied boy becomes the star player of a not-so-perfect football team. Mayhem ensues. Lots of fun characters, and post-modernist in several ways.

Full Metal Alchemist. If you liked the anime… well, the manga digs deeper. Sheer fun.

Gantz. If this were a film, it would get the XXX and R ratings. Sheer juvenilia for the first few dozen chapters, and then it suddenly develops depth. Add in the weirdest things you can imagine from aliens, vampires, and alternate dimensions.

Hajime no Ippo. One of my favorite mangas ever, it’s boxing with lots and lots of character. In certain ways, it’s formulaic (train, fight, train fight…) but the appeal doesn’t wane.

Hunter x Hunter. At least, protagonists who wins fights not with brute strength/skill but with their brains. Lots of challenges, puzzles, and is probably one of the few anime where the heroes are weaker than the enemies they fight.

Initial D. Think Speed Racer without the campiness or the conspiracies. It’s real motoring action.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures. Funny, campy, and at times, the heroes have to use their brain as well. A manly man’s comic.

Naruto. A really long epic saga that promises to be rewarding. Ninjas abound.

One Piece. Another epic saga that’s serious, funny and touching at the same time. Wacky characters that you just gotta love.

Prince of Tennis. Uh, isn’t it obvious I’m kinda into the sports manga thing right now? Really a great series, with an ensemble boy band-type cast.

Yakitake Japan. Never underestimate the power of hunger. It’s funny bread manga. Be wary though as some of the comedy is filled with puns and pop culture references.

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[Blog Entry] Books of 2005

Books of 2005

For those curious as to what I've been reading for the past year, here's the list. I'll try to make a one-liner comment on each:


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll; It's a classic... that's actually too metaphorical that I didn't like it.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... by Richard Carlson, PH.D.; Just goes to show that I do read nonfiction.
The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John C. Maxwell; Learned a lot. Too bad applying it in real life needs more work on my part.


Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon; Okay in a Robert Jordan-ish sort of way.
Shadow Game by Christine Feehan; A book I ordered by mistake. Avoid it at all cost unless you're a fan of romance... and psychics. Sorry, if you're a fan of cheesy romance and unscientific psychic powers.


Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton; It's my guilty pleasure.
Seduced by Moonlight by Laurell K. Hamilton; My guiltier pleasure.
Marked for Death by Matt Forbeck; Only if you're a fan of D&D's Eberron campaign setting. And even then...
The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois; Simply the best.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk; I can't believe I haven't seen the movie.
Prophecy by Elizabeth Haydon; Reading it via sheer momentum.
Culture and History by Nick Joaquin; Surprisingly controversial... at least for conservative and close-minded nationalists.


Destiny by Elizabeth Haydon; It's finally over!
Requiem for the Sun by Elizabeth Haydon; A good example on how you can breathe life into a dead commercialist horse.
Dhampir by Barb & J.C. Hendee; Shadow Game isn't the worst book I read for the year. This one is.
Dissolution by Richard Lee Byers; It's a book with evil protagonists!
Insurrection by Thomas M. Reid; More evil-party fun.
Condemnation by Richard Baker; For a party of evil characters, boy do they live long.
The City of Towers by Keith Baker; More passable than the other Eberron novels.
Flying Dutch by Tom Holt; Fantasy comedy... I still prefer Pratchett more.
Faust Among Equals by Tom Holt; More enjoyable than Flying Dutch.


Here Comes the Sun by Tom Holt; I don't know where Holt comes up with all these wacky British ideas.
Odds and Gods by Tom Holt; Tom Holt has a distinct writing style.
Barnacle Bill the Spacer and Other Stories by Lucius Shepard; I like it, I like it.
The Crimson Talisman by Adrian Cole; Leave your brain at the door. That means you, Eberron readers.
Dune: The Battle of Corrin by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson; It's finally over. And can you say plot hook for a Dune sequel?
Faust first part by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Classic anti-hero fantasy.
The Best of Fantasy 2004 edited by Karen Haber and Jonathan Strahan; An anthology in which I liked majority of the stories.
The Black Company by Glen Cook; If there's a book that defines gritty war fantasy, this is it.
Vampire Hunter D Volume 1 by Hideyuki Kikuchi translated by Kevin Leahy; If you've seen the original 1980+ movie, this is the novelization. Nothing more, nothing less.
Shadows Linger by Glen Cook; The plot thickens.


The White Rose by Glen Cook; And the first series comes to a close.
The Best of Science Fiction 2004 edited by Karen Haber and Jonathan Strahan; I was hoping it was as good as the fantasy anthology; I was disappointed.


Memoranda by Jeffrey Ford; Am I the only one who loves his novels?
Extinction by Lisa Smedman; The evil party still lives!
Annihilation by Philip Athans; Isn't the evil-party saga over yet? It's an enjoyable read though.
The Binding Stone by Don Bassingthwaite; Made me rethink why I'm still reading the Eberron books.


The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov; SF + Mystery = Asimov.
Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami; So that's why so many people talk about it...
Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk; Ah, horror.
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson; Ah, a Gibson novel I could appreciate and understand.
Slayers Vol. 3: The Ghost of Sairaag by Hajime Kanzaka; Funny without being Pratchett, Adams, or Gaiman.
After the Quake by Haruki Murakami; Quality not quantity.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger; It's really SF!
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip; You have redeemed yourself, McKillip.
The Knight by Gene Wolf; It's like reading pre-Tolkien fantasy.
The Two Swords by R.A. Salvatore; Drizzt!!!
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto; My own Murakami.
Three Hearts & Three Lions by Poul Anderson; Only because I'm a fan of paladins.


The O. Henry Prize Stories edited by Laura Furman; I'm sticking with my fantasy anthologies.
Philippine Speculative Fiction edited by Dean Francis Alfar; Yay! The only thing that would have made it better was if my name was on the table of contents. =)
Slayers Vol 5 by Hajime Kanzaka; It was okay...
Elic of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock; Elric's my #2 Anti-hero.

Tune in next time for Manga of 2005

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[Blog Entry] Fruitcake, Fireworks, and Fiction

Fruitcake, Fireworks, and Fiction

Isn't it obvious I love alliteration?

Anyway, since the holidays just ended (I'm bracing myself for the Chinese New Year), one thing that seems to be lacking is fruitcake. Yes, I'm one of those rare people who actually loves fruitcake. I don't mind if it's been passed down from the nth person. Fruitcake is like wine (perhaps because it does have wine): it only tastes better with age. So instead of giving fruitcake to your worst enemy (or perhaps uses it as a paperweight), you can always give them to me.

A few years ago, fireworks was discouraged from the country, especially during that period of harsh economic times. Well, some would say we're still in harsh economic times, but Manila never seemed to lack in fireworks (what is this pyrolympics I keep on hearing?). Of course aside from my prejudice against fireworks because of the sulfuric smell it gives off, fireworks costs money that would have been better spent elsewhere (following that same logic, I don't see how people can afford to own mobile phones, but don't have the budget to put food on the table). And along with all those explosions in the sky are explosions closer to earth. I have a friend whose hands lack a digit because of a childhood fireworks accident. More recently, a coworker lost her entire home to a fire, the cause of which is supposedly fireworks (or so the news says). The only thing she managed to save was her cellphone. Thankfully her family is safe and sound, albeit with nothing but the shirt on their backs. (Talk about starting the New Year fresh.)

Finally, for our fiction entry, I just noticed that the allure of some of my hobbies is the fact that they have stories. Take the CCG Magic: The Gathering. For a few year, it was simply a hodgepodge of various legends (i.e. Arabian Nights) and setting flavor. It was only later on that it shifted into high gear, when it started having an overarching story, from the adventures of Gerard to his ancestor Urza. The original novel-line which was simply a hodgepodge of stories (can't blame the writers because well, there really was no centralized story) sold mediocre. It was only with Magic: The Gathering's rebranding of sorts (and Wizards of the Coast themselves starting to publish their own novels) that the books started selling well (not as much as New York Time's Best Sellers, mind you, but probably way better than the profits of its predecessor). One of D&D's most popular settings also possess good fiction. Dragonlance probably wouldn't be as popular if it weren't for the novels by Weis and Hickman. As for Forgotten Realms, while the PC games did give it a huge boost, writers like R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood made it interesting in the first place thanks to their compelling stories and more importantly, lasting characters. Mind you, don't confuse setting with story. It's the difference between reading a history book, and a historical novel. Or between The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings. Setting, of course, has fictional elements, but it lacks the narrative and entertaining framework of fiction. While fiction is not a necessity in order to achieve success, it does help out a lot.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

[Blog Entry] New Year, New Year's Resolutions, Retrospect

New Year

If there's one thing I don't like about the New Year, it's the fireworks. Mainly because our house isn't air tight, so the smoke comes in. And with my fragile health condition, breathing becomes a real problem.

So I locked myself in the guest room, which is the only place where the windows don't have holes in it. While it did keep the smoke away from the room, the one thing it won't protect you from is the noise.

New Year's Resolutions

A big advantage of having a blog is you can look up your old posts. It's a good thing I posted my New Year's resolutions on my blog last year, because I've forgotten half of them. Anyway, here's last year's resolutions, and how I fared in them.

1) Make a new friend every month (or 12 new friends by the end of the year).

I totally forgot about this one. And in retrospect, kind of hard to judge. I mean because of my line of work, I do get to meet a lot of people. But of course, acquaintances does not equal friends. One of the real friends from 2005 that comes to mind is Banzai Cat, which while you know, I'm not really that familiar with him or really close, goes to show what I mean by "friend", and how that kind of friendship can blossom over the Internet.

2) Exercise for 150 minutes a week (or 30 minutes worth of exercise for five days a week).

Since the one thing constant about work is that I walk home and it takes around 15-20 minutes to do so... I'll probably have to be more specific for this year's resolution on what I mean by "exercise".

3) Read five books a month (or 60 books a year).

Missed my mark by around 6 books. I totally never picked up a book during the months of October and November.

4) Put P4,000 ($72.00) into my savings account every month (or P48,000 a year).

Barely made it, but it's all in the bank...

5) Learn a new "skill".

Nothing automatically springs to mind, unless you count playing Warcraft DotA a skill. Closest thing is probably my skills as an editorial assistant and arranging photo shoots, as well as, uh, tracking down people.

Having said all that, here's my resolutions for this year:

1) Deposit P6,000 into my savings account every month, or P72,000 a year. We have to up the ante.

2) Five books a month! Get it right this year.

3) I will jog three times a week. Never got to do that this year. I have to sweat!

4) Again, learn a new skill. Hopefully something more concrete, like a new hobby or language.

5) Get out of my comfort zone. Probably the most ambiguous resolution, but let's see where that takes us at the end of the year.


So what has 2005 been like for me? To be honest, I've taken some steps forward... and some steps back. There's been lots of new experiences and hardships on my part, especially with me having a six-day, 9-6 job. Lots of growth there. But towards the end of the year, I've also become complacent, and back to my procrastinating self.

As for the year itself, some friends complain it was bad for them. For me it was average: there were ups and downs, progress and regresses. I'm changing, that's for sure, although whether it's for the better, only time will tell.

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