Thursday, September 13, 2007


What's on my mind:


A 1981 science-fiction novel by Robert Holdstock, picked up by me for about forty cents at a used-bookstore here in Baguio. The story centres around a group of cosmic explorers in the far future (is there any other kind?) on a distant planet (is there any other kind?) who regularly and routinely find themselves evading giant, hurricane-like windstorms that just happen to leave debris, artifacts, dead aliens, etc., from either the past or the future. Time winds, in other words.

Kind of a cool idea. Things from the past pop up in the present. Or stuff from the future has been blown back. And there's an old man who is routinely seen popping in and out of time at the edges of this cosmic desert, and he may (or may not be) the future self of one of the novel's protagonists.

Good fun. I love time-travel stories, and this one has a fresh take on a tired genre. (Even though the book was published when I was in Grade 2, I'm still considering it 'fresh', because I'm reading it for the first time.)

I have my own ideas about a time-travel type story that I'm considering writing, which may dovetail nicely with a ghost-story type story that I've had rattling around inside of my head for a good five years. I like the leeway fantasty and sf gives your imagination. Anything goes, as long as it's halfway plausible and completely entertaining.


This Stephen King thriller just left the theatres here, and I found it a nice, nifty throwback to THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Somebody described it as 'the mini-bar version of THE SHINING', which is as good a description as any, given that John Cusack spends most of the movie holed up in a single hotel room, fighting off ghosts and insanity and his own dark demons.

It's been awhile since I've seen a genuinely creepy movie, and this was it. With an ending that lingers.


He's the former president of the Philippines who was finally sentenced to life in prison yesterday, after six years of court delays. A former famous B-movie star, he was elected president and then promptly proceeded to plunder the national banks for all they were worth.

A lot of the public, mostly the poor, seem to love him, mostly because he was an action star who promoted himself as a 'man of the people', but plunder's plunder, me thinks. He remids me of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin of Thailand -- loved by the poor because he throws them scraps every now and then, but disdained by the urban elite, who know corruption when they see it.


Back to Japan next Wednesday. (I'll take the night bus from Baguio to Manila on Tuesday around 11:50 p.m.) Once safely nestled in Nippon, I'll be living in a city whose exact name I forget -- never a good sign. But I think I'm pretty sure which train line it's on -- always a good sign. I'll be working as a 'cover instructor', filling in for teachers who get sick, or observing other teachers teach and giving them advice. Or replacing teachers who get fired (like I did last semester). So I could end up teaching at one university for three months, or bopping between schools and spying on other teachers anywhere and everywhere for three months. Time will tell.


Second opinions being sought on the latest MRI. Another round of chemo possibly in the near future -- or possibly not. Being an observer, a spectator to the whole thing is frustrating beyond measure, but so it goes. Almost two years (and counting), so every day is something to be celebrated. Still. Let's just hope our genius medical minds come up with a cure pretty damn soon for this dreadful disease, right?


I thought about it yesterday for no reason whatsoever: How often am I aware of my left-handedness? And I realized: Not very often. Once, twice a month? Usually when I spot an actor holding a gun with their left hand (Bruce Willis, in every action movie he's ever made), or I catch an actress unconvincingly attempt to portray a right-hander (the only example being Julia Roberts -- a famous lefty -- in Erin Brockovich signing a form on a clipboard handed to her by the delivery man, and she signs the sheet with her right hand, because I'm assuming the real-life Brockovich was a righty, but she holds the clipboard in such a way that she's shielding us from seeing her hand signing the paper, because it probably looked all awkward on her first two or three attempts, so the director, Steven Soderbergh, probably asked her to tilt the clipboard in such a way so that the audience wouldn't see her hand too much, and I'm such a loser with so much time on my hands that I spotted her deception right away and screamed: "Bullshit! You're a lefty trying to be a righty!" Okay, I didn't scream it, but I thought it...)


There's a thirteen year old in the house, so I'm reminded of how far I've come and how soon it's all passed. A good age, thirteen is. Still a little bit of the kid left in you. Adolescence not completely coming down on you. Things are fresh. Still okay to sing goofy songs at the top of your lungs, and nobody's going to call you on it.


There's an old and dirty and poor little man who sits on the sidewalk outside of this internet cafe, day after day, month after month year after year. His arm extends upwards in a creaky position, his fingers gnarled, his palm open. He might not be blind, actually, but his eyes are always closed, and his face is often grimaced, and he's been there for as long as I've been here, and, I'm told, for the twenty years before that, too.


They have them here in the Philippines, too --not the geeky people like me, no, but those tiny, fruity candies we used to gobble as kids. Haven't tried any yet, though I'm tempted. I'm worried that the inevitable sugar rush would send me skyrocketing back to the past in a flash.

A time wind would pick me up and hurl me back and I might never be able to find my way back here, to this moment in time, to this place. I'd be lost in the past, wondering if everything after thirteen was nothing more than a sugar-fuelled dream, sweet and tangy, but distant, in a haze.