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In Uncategorized on September 28, 2012 at 6:07 am

 

TUESDAY, WE went on a literary pub crawl where two actors explained the history behind “the poet, the pub, the pint” of beckett, joyce, stoker, wilde, et al. a pint or two for every bar is encouraged and as their flyer says, you get the illusion of adding some brain cells as you simultaneously kill them.  but it was fun and educational. the pub has a very central role in the culture and history of the country and the tour proves just that.

 

ONE THING i have learned on a personal note is that joy is already an american in the sense that she could no longer be zen. the moment we sat down at the first pub while waiting for the tour to begin, she got antsy and i could tell that she wants to join in the conversation from the next table. and true enough, as i excused myself to get our first round of alcohol, she was already monopolizing the topic by the time i returned. american, i tell you.

 

YESTERDAY WAS arthur’s day, celebrating the birthday of the man who gave the world the dark and frothy beer. by 5 PM the whole of dublin was already in the streets holding a pint for the 5.59 PM cheer. believe me, there is no sight like a beautiful woman in officewear holding a pint of beer outside a pub.

 

I RETRACED the literary pubs until a group of friends chatted me up. all irish men aside from a finnish woman who just flew to ireland for the day so she can drink and celebrate arthur’s day (and also get laid, as one of the men told me and this is how close we all became over several pints that even the finnish woman admitted that the first time she met the dude who chatted me, they fucked that very day to cement their friendship. i love finnish women.) they are all graduates of trinity college and i learned that the same college boasts not just nobel prize for literature alums but also for mathematics. how hardcores is that? i got a lot of inside info too about the state of european finance (the euro vs the pound vs the croner and where to put your savings and why facebook is a bad idea investment-wise, etc).  by the time the bar closed and irish ladies were once again rolling on the pavement in total drunken abandon, i felt myself schooled in investment 101. i am glad joy followed at the last pub or i would never have made it back home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S

In Uncategorized on September 25, 2012 at 3:59 am

My very first iPhone was the second generation aluminum-backed one released a week after we landed in New York. Having no credit history and no account with AT&T, we paid a handsome price to have both the phone and the 917 prefix the city is so proud of. A year after passed. A new iPhone comes out, the plastic-backed one, now with 3G. It is the best iPhone ever if the marketing copy is to be believed. It looked different, felt different, priced different. I did not buy one. A year after passed. iPhone 3G (S) comes. It looks very, very similar to the one without the S but the inner workings from the speed to the memory are very different. AT&T being AT&T and with other carriers now vending the iPhone said I could get the new phone for the price of a dumpling if I maintain my account. So I got the iPhone 3G (S) for almost free. A year after passed. Yes, the iPhone 4 comes. It looks very different, felt very different, and wow, priced almost the same as the previous one. Leave no hyperbole behind seems to be the theme of the marketing copy. No adjectives were spared and not only that, new ones were also invented to describe the best iPhone ever.

Sidebar: The way Steve Jobs presented the iPhone is very telling, in hindsight, of his awareness that he is not immortal. He can no longer hog the stage for the whole show and thus brings in the co-pilots who would be in the sidelines had his health been any different. Pipelining, in marketing speak. A set-up in theater speak.

The iPhone 4 with all its hyperbole has an antenna flaw, said some tech people mostly in blogs and on facebook and on twitter. They have videos to prove that calls drop when the phone is held a certain way. The issue grew and apple said that there is no antenna flaw. This is best iPhone ever and who are you people to call out a flaw in its design and engineering. It is perfect.

Sidebar: The clamor for an admission and explanation and more important, an address on the issue grew and grew and grew online but still apple maintained that no, the iPhone 4 is perfect. Instead of inventing a tweak, a dozen adjectives were invented. But then, consumer reports, a very old print magazine that no blogger and social media expert has ever read, came out with a review saying that the iPhone 4 has antenna issues and within the hour, apple responded not with a lawsuit but with a mea culpa. Yes, there is an antenna flaw. So here is a rubber band. Choose your flavor.

A year passes. Yes, the iPhone 4 (S) comes out. It looked very much the same, felt very very much the same, and again, wow, priced almost the same as the previous one. Thankfully, AT&T said that I could once again have this new phone for the price of a dumpling. And so I got one.

A year passes. Now we have the iPhone 5.

And here, the thread will be broken because while I am sure there will be an iPhone 5 (S) next year and that AT&T will sell it to me for a dumpling, I am not sure I would want one. Maybe when iPhone 6 comes. All these incremental tomfoolery is reminding me of Nokia.

THE WEEKEND

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm

WE WENT out of dublin againa and visited three counties outside of the capital.

 

BUT FIRST, culture night when sensory overload is the theme. we started with food, the city’s finest steakhouse. it got the medium right but the size needs more improvement if compared to smith & wollensky except that this is europe baby where sizes are according to the human scale. full disclosure: i did not finish the stake due to a bucket of wings served as appetizer and i need my stomach for the alkie.

 

AFTER THE food, we visited two galleries and watched a laser show. the theme seems to be the lack of theme and lo and behold, joy checked out the literature and i, no matter how in jest i let go of my observation, turned out to be right. i told the moneymaker in the household of a painter whose work among the hundreds really grabbed me and she financed it and as a couple, we bought our first art.

 

THIS IS what how it went:

me:   i have given you my thousands of dollars and unfortunately, my thousands of pesos from advertising writing is still in escrow in manila agencies until we go home. can we afford the paintings (note the plural) and not starve?

joy: let me withdraw some euros.

me: no matter what happens, we never bargain for the price. either we can afford and then we buy or we can’t in which case we walk away and drink until we pass out.

joy:  okay, got it.

 

THIS IS getting the full treatment in my pen and ink journal because buying art as a couple is not unlike sex for the very first time. it is messy and you don’t know what you are doing but a the end of it all, things are somehow different. a threshold has been crossed to put it simplistically. the art itself that we purchased needs no explaining if you really know me.

 

IT TURNS we are still semi-poor and could still afford two paintings. the artist said if it is on display in a gallery, the price of each artwork would be 1,200 euros. lucky us, it was culture night and we had it for a steal.

 

SATURDAY, WE went to cork. i was puzzled by the locale as it is just a mini dublin. luckily, the next stop was at the castle where blarney’s stone is at. this, i first encountered as a name of a bar off palanca street where many a beer was drunk during my basic days (think of it as my sa guijo). this is also the very same bar where i got initiated into the quiz night and got a glimpse of the irish pub culture.

 

THE BLARNEY stone is an experience unto itself, being full of history like that winston churchill quote. also, there is a room in the castle named “the little ladies room” aka “the priest’s room”. that alone is worth the travel and price of admission. after the blarney stone, we ate of course and tasted the best cream of mushroom both of us ever had. then we went to the township where the titanic set sail and the first documented legal immigrant arriving at ellis island hails from. touristy shit i know, but we discovered the best coffeehouse in the land. if you think that me and joy eat at every stop, you are absolutely right.

 

AFTER THE trip, we still had the temerity to have dinner. as agreed, we had indian cuisine. joy had lamb baryani rice while i got the lamb tikamasala. i also BI’d my wife into ordering her own grande of indian beer, cobra, which turns out to be no different from san mig light. the table nearest us sat two very aristocrat european ladies of the puma variety who smiled as we sat down. as dinner usually lasts around 3 hours when you are in a hurry, we got to know them and the best part, the conversation was of the drunken kind where the lovely ladies just repeat what they have previously asked. but it was a fine time.

 

SUNDAY AND we found ourselves going to church where the very same priest that welcomed us two weeks back was the one at the pulpit. as usual, he gave a perfect homily. this one has the inborn gift of narrative and if only all catholic priests are like him, the church and its coffers would always be full. (this will also have its own treatment in my offline journal as this is a story unto itself). consider these: at the start of the mass, he gives an “specific purpose statement” like as with last sunday, “today we will learn about jealousy”.  then throughout the mass, he connects all readings with his homily and goes the whole routine of “the prestige” where jealousy is not just the topic but also flips it right side up into “selflessness” and this ends into the collection of offerings in keeping up with the whole theme. there is even a joke about him timing his collection for charity during football matches. really. i am glad he chose to be a priest and not some advertising executive as he could really do much damage to humankind if he chooses to use his powers the wrong way.

 

AND THE best part? the said priest looks like a pedophiliac.

 

THIS WEEK, we do the literary pub crawl, i visit the writer’s museum while this weekend, we do belfast on an overnight trip. i hope we still have the same energy when we visit the rest of europe (hopefully) this october.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the paintings we bought on culture night were the third to the left of the irish artist (the second from the right in the row of big frames) and the one by his legs still waiting to be hanged. subverting popular expectations, neither works of art has tentacles on them. painting one is titled “godot” and painting two is titled “ulysses” and just so everything is clear, imagine these two paintings facing each other when finally have our new york home and there you have it, my own personal viewpoint of life, explained in visual form through an interpretation of the greatest literary works mankind has ever produced.

 

 

 

DUBLIN DINING DISPATCH

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2012 at 12:01 am

WE’VE BEEN here in this wonderful city exactly a month and a day. enough time to be an opinionated sod (oirish alert) and write about our daily dining experiences. (a big thank you to the firm who foots every single bill. this also spares me from cooking except for the occasional egg that i either boil or scramble after my run).

FIRST OBSERVATION is the lack of pork in almost all restaurants. there are pork sausages which are bloody brilliant (oirish alert) by themselves either as discount supermarket items, hotel buffet component, high end restaurant breakfast or brunch but as main offerings, the absence of pork borders on alarming. on asian restaurants (vietnamese, chinese, thai, korean) pork has a presence but only as an asterisk.

THE SERVICE is unparalleled. from the front of house to the wait staff. a thing to note is that all waitresses are very, very beautiful and i am making these comments with new york in mind. service comes with a smile, a real smile (the way that i have the impression that joy’s officemate has a genuine desire to know when they ask a question and not just for the sake of making small talk). i think this is because the restaurant business here is not yet plagued by the rent-a-waitstaff culture where anyone could just log in and then are dispatched to restaurant to wait (think of the service at the gap versus uniqlo) in ny restos. one waiter actually chatted us up when we saw him in the fishing village out of town, saying that he waited our table the night before. there is pride in the work which translates to happiness in the workplace which in turn means excellent service. we bleed internally when credit card machines (yes, they still swipe your card in a handheld) do not accept gratuity and the cash we have just covers ten percent (which is an acceptable tip for good service that is not even mandatory–diners actually leave picking even their loose change). on any open kitchen that i see, the ethnicity of the cooks varies which is a very good thing to behold. i am reminded of hardworking mexicans in new york restaurants. did i say that waitresses are very, very beautiful?

WHITE WINE is a big deal. this needs a thesis on its own but everyone seems to be addicted to white wine. and every restaurant seems to offer it too from pizza places to ramen joints and burger shops. while it is offered by the glass, the usual sight is that a party of two would order a bottle.

ALL RESTAURANT layout are predicated on a party of four or more. there are tables for two but the traffic revolves around the bigger tables. dining out is a group activity more often than not and all the permutations of couples dining out can be seen.

BABY GUINNESS (a shot) is deadlier than the regular guinness (a pint). this needs to be experienced and i will not attempt a description.

THE TAPAS culture could be found in almost every restaurant, no matter the cuisine. there are always small plates on the menu. this is balance by “to share” offerings, again in almost every restaurant and not just asian ones.

ALL ASIAN restaurants are, for lack of a better word, fusion restaurants. chinese offers tom yum. thai offers nasi goreng. japanese offers kimchi, and korean offers ramen. i will not be surprised if the filipino restaurants here offer sushi. for the upcoming month, we are focusing our ethnic cuisines to moroccan, lebanese, indian, nepalese, of which there are many and see if this phenomenon also applies.

DUBLIN’S PER SE is called chapter one located at the writer’s museum. all manners of awards and accolades have been collected by this restaurant year after year after year. but reservation is another matter. i might sneak out a lunch mission without joy to sample the offers.

* * *

TONIGHT IS culture night when some two hundred events on some two hundred venues offer free shows. art, music, dance, photography, theatre, architecture, film, and what have you could be had from, get this, 5 PM to 11 PM. madness will descend on the culture vultures. our approach is to limit our participation to just two events and the these should be performance-based, say theatre or dance. this is the closest to a scientific method that i could think of so that we could enjoy culture night to the fullest.

* * *

THE FIRST scene of chapter five is closed, two more to go.

THE SECRET BOOKSTORE

In Uncategorized on September 18, 2012 at 8:24 pm

THE FATES must be laughing as a slug through chapter five like a fly could swim through a jar of mollases. of the three scenes already mapped on the moleskin, i am still finding “the turn” of the first scene and as of this minute, tuesday has already mutated into wednesday making this the only week where i may not have a finished chapter when saturday evening rolls in. this is very probable as a) the whole day tomorrow will be spent on official business and b) friday is cultural night where the dublin will be set on fire with music and arts and literature and theater and dance, and of course, drinking. the craic and all that.

AND SO i spent the very sunny day out and took some flatographs.

no fifty shades of bleh in this one for sure. the sign barely juts out the door next to tower records (this still have records shop here like HMV although i see no virgin records).

the hallway is a huge chalkboard full of posters. bands, theater, art, writing, film. it would really be cool to snag one and have it framed. headlines such as “disco nection” and “gentrify this” are priceless as are faces of doom metal bands with their horned logos. i will snap more evidence when i go back for i certainly will be visiting again.

the vibe inside the place is very NYC’s the strand, although the place is very, very small by comparison. shelves are sectioned from fiction to poetry to arts, etc. but beat writers have their own special place. i combed the shelves twice until i found the book above, something that i thought of buying at amazon before the trip. i got it for only 5 euros as against the online price of 15 dollars plus shipping, handling, and the almighty tax.

ONE VERY refreshing thing about books in europe is the cover. all are different from the usual artwork i see in the US which is very in-your-face and photoshop-y. i guess it is both a matter of taste and territory (in publishing, as in the days of spain and portugal, the world is divided into this and that and it seems europe got the better of the division if i base my judgment on book covers. really this needs a thesis to explain but their artwork just look like artwork–see example of my recent purchase).

STARTING WITH this trip, i am starting a tradition. i will not only buy a book (something that barnes & noble does not carry) but also donate a one to a secondhand bookseller on a foreign land (and from my reading history, i guess it would be something that they would also not be carrying). thankfully i have three books i brought with me from the strand and so i am more or less covered. next week, i will try to visit another bookstore as i know i will be consuming this current one in about a day, two days at the most.

A FRIEND IN NEED IS A BLOODY NUISANCE

In Uncategorized on September 18, 2012 at 6:07 am

IF I may direct your attention to the date under the name. that is how old this institution is. inside, all manners of flatographic proofs of its transition chronicled by the visits of mostly US heads of state. i saw clinton and obama (though not at the same picture). this is touristy destination now because it is treated as something of a national treasure.

THE PUB also boasts of being at the highest pub in the land, measure by its elevation against sea level. thankfully, we went there courtesy of joy’s client who decided to have a drinking session on a monday. what is not to love about a company who has thirsty mondays? and so the pub provided a bus (as a service and a preventive measure i guess, as the the location is really way up the mountains and the roads very narrow).

I STAYED with heineken, got the vegetable soup, and then pasta fruits the mer–a take on the vongole with a million other seafood. joy got the mussels (literally a bucket) and a sirloin and i was successful in tempting her to order half a bottle of pinot grigio.

THROUGHOUT THE night, dynamics emerged. the boss who, in every sense of the word, was politic enough to appear and make her presence be known but not indulge, the office photographer who always takes pictures and uploads all to facebook without a care for edit or consent, the silent types, the flirts, the too drunk from the weekend before but already drinking again, the graduates (that is irish for “new hires”) who changed attired and made themselves up just for the drinking session. then there are the barmaids who are excellent as always being attitude-free.

THEN THE games begins.

SIX ROUNDS of general info followed by a final round of logic/trick questions. i humbly contributed to our groups win by knowing a bit about shakespeare (yawn) and madonna (omg). now we have a few euros so we can spend the weekend out of the city. and now i would like to respectfully remind you that all these happened on a monday evening.

FLATOGRAPHIC UPDATES

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm

FIRST, WE opened the day with a brunch at the elephant and the caste, a restaurant that is related to one of the famous names. daniel boulud, i think. we missed the whole new york weekend so we had the eggs with meat (sausage for me, bacon for joy) and the usual toast and coffee. i saw lox and bagel on the menu so maybe we’ll try it sometime. other tables are already ordering chicken wings, the restaurant’s signature dish, for breakfast.

 

THEN WE took the luas after the missus got her hair trimmed (30 euros at chinatown in a korean salon) to try where the other line goes. we joyrided both ways passing the guinness distilleria, the dublin museum (free admission all year round!), and quaint villages fronting very clean creeks alongside the train line.

 

 

WE SAMPLED oysters (with free wine), lamb, cheese, olives, and lechon in its first world iteration where the dude gave us an extra helping of chicharon termed as cracklings. it was served on a bed of caramelized onion which really ruled.

 

 

BELOW, THE evidences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 4 DONE

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2012 at 8:48 am

At around 7PM, just before dinner, the current chapter wrapped up.

Today, I read everything that has been written down so far. And then drink of course.

Running was fun earlier at around 7.30. It was cold as a nun’s pussy that I did an extra 2K on top of the usual 5 just to continue sweating.

Now I read at the park–the four chapter and a new story on an actual hardback book–until it is time to drink.

DOS POR DOS WORD COUNT

In Uncategorized on September 12, 2012 at 8:43 am

Proof that I am both drinking and writing in this exotic land:
Chapter 1: 2, 757 words
Chapter 2: 3, 695
Chapter 3: 3, 858
Chapter 4: 1, 671 (one more scene before this wraps up)

Which brings us to: 11, 981 words.

The final number is somewhere around 80, 000 words and with this pacing, 68, 019 words seem not so far away.

I hope to finish act 1 before this European vacation (at least for me) ends. The goal is to have a novel ready for submission to a publisher (no agents this time as the publisher is looking for this kind of story in this kind of setting).

Now I continue chapter 4 and open another Sauvignon.

Onwards bravely to the next word, the next sentence, the next paragraph, the next chapter.

OUT AND ABOUT

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

TWO THINGS we have agreed about. One, we are going to get out of Dublin at least once a week. Two, we are going to eat at different restaurants every single time (as this is on company dime). We repeat only those restos that are really, really exceptional. As always, we are going to do the selection by chance and discernment, not by yelp reviews, replicating our “finds” in new york this way. So far, so good. (Breakfast is also on the company but i only do with coffee and an apple and lunch is on my dime and i only do with–artisanal!– soup or cheap ethnic joints of which are most often a disappointment when you are an asian and is living in new york. But no complains.)

LAST WEEK we went to an outdoor farmer’s market.

THIS WEEK we went on the touristy places. The cliffs of moher where highlander and harry potter and a billion other films where shot. We passed through an abbey where the abbot has supposedly played cards with the devil–a place I’ve come to know due to headbanger’s ball circa 1991 where all doom metal vids seem to have been shot in the ruins of celtic temples. We dropped by a castle that offers medieval feast (mead! which i just bought at the gift shop). What is fascinating is the beer garden near the castle which is so postcard perfect you would think that it is one of those tourist traps put up to rob you of precious euros until you see the michelin signs. And then you take a look around and see that all the rest of the neighboring buildings are as quaint and authentic as the village inuman. We made a promise to do one overnight travel in a small town before we leave.

I HAVE had the best lamb of my life here. There was no documentation as it was an spontaneous kind of thing and the camera was left at home. Now, I haven’t been to España but so far, the two tapas house that we have been to are mindfuckingblowing. The last one, we ordered the quezo and jamon plate TWICE, on top my chillis and grilled kraken and joy’s fried calamari. This restaurant makes it to the list that we would try again.

WE WENT to mass this morning just googling the nearest catholic church as we were spent by the time we went home from the tour. The church was hardcore if i could use the word. An irish, a  south african, and an argentine conducted the ceremony and it was one of the most uplifting masses i have ever attended. The priest spoke to us before we entered guessing correctly that we are Pinoys and said there is another church with an all-Pinoy choir. What took away my breath are three things: the architecture, the voice of the choir, the way the priest conducted the sermon and the prayers. Well, i have never experienced a prayer that personal and interactive. Ever. I guess, this is the kind of spirituality that the born again christians find lacking in Roman Catholicism that make them stray into the path of that over acting denomination. The text of the liturgy was so engaging. This from comparing all the versions of the bible i have read before i turned ten years old–cover to cover–which is four by last count. (I took home the copy of the misssalete so I can find the version of the text in its entirety. For analogy, let us say Baz Lurman adapted the scripture for the screen starring Ryan Gosling. That is how contemporary the text is.)

BELOW, MORE flatographs. Now i wear my DM’s and plaid to do some fine dining off the beaten fork in the road.

Just another cliff the way mayon is just another volcano. This is the reason maybe Vikings once roamed the earth. If you can live here, you have the right to pillage nations and rape their women.

A touristy obligatory shot where i heard Opeth inside my head. That my seatmate from the bus looked like a witch about to defy gravity pickled my balls to raisins.This place is haunted. And that is from me who doesn’t believe in shits like these.

Joy got the seafood chowder (excellent but just good enough for one person) and i got the pork sausage which is divine. So far, i have never encountered a PK sausage from the grocery store to the hotel buffet to an irish resto. This needs further investigation as all sausages look as if it is devoid of pork fat (the one thing that makes it a sausage) but fuck, masarap talaga.

Enough said.

The fervor of the apostles stirred inside my loins. Never felt more Catholic–and spiritual–ever.

We braved the friday crowd and chanced upon a place that really, really gave me much happiness. As I have said, i haven’t been to España but the tapas bars in NY pale to this one. We double ordered the jamon and quezo platter and i drank around 2 fucking bottles of red (chilean but still).

Let’s just say another stirring in my loins was also satiated.