Month: April 2015

31 is a centered pentagonal number. It is also the 4th lucky prime.

Your Questions, My Answers, and the Winner

First, thanks to everyone for their birthday greetings and wishes through social and telecommunication networks. I am really touched by your gifts and surprises. Why do you do this to me? Yay! Second, thanks to the participants of this year’s birthday contest and giveaway. Please note that the early part of the recording mentions that there are five participants. However, a new participant went through while I was answering the fifth set of questions. So do the math: 5 + 1 = 6. Yay! Here is the recording: I know it’s a long one, so here are the jumps if you are in a hurry: 00:00 – Intro and Participant 1 Who would you rather have dinner with: Knut Hamsun or Jose Saramago? What do you honestly think of fanfic? What is your favorite movement in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony? Ang uod ba, pag namatay inuuod? 05:35 – Participant 2 When are you going to finish your novel? Definite date, please. If you weren’t gay, describe the kind of girl you would love to be with. …

31 is a centered pentagonal number. It is also the 4th lucky prime.

31 Is the 4th Lucky Prime

Fourth lucky prime? Okay. Coincidentally, this post is my fourth time to do a birthday giveaway. I’m doing another one because I’m kind of used to doing it. But I don’t know what to do. To help me decide, let’s review the bloggy and birthday giveaways that I did for the past four years: January 2012 – I asked you to post a memory when you were 12 years old. April 2012 – I asked you to name your favorite post in this blog. And also to guess for my age. January 2013 – I asked you to suggest some reading and blogging resolutions. April 2013 – I asked you to suggest a name for a hypothetical personal blog. Nobody won! January 2014 – I asked you to recommend me a book. And I read one of the recommendations! April 2014 – I asked you to guess what am I saving money for. January 2015 – I asked you to guess my short list of science fiction books for our book club’s August discussion. April 2015 – …

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Book Review – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book is a chillingly charming novel about the childhood of a boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard. How is this possible, the reader might ask. It may not be possible but the possibility of it is welcome, I say. Nobody Owens, not his original name, totters into the graveyard near their house while a mysterious man murders the rest of his family. He is no more than two years old. Fortunately, kind and matronly Mistress Owens, one of the resident ghosts, finds the boy and takes him as her own, but this is not without the approval of the graveyard community. A graveyard is not normally a democracy, and yet death is the great democracy, and each of the dead had a voice, and an opinion as to whether the living child should be allowed to stay, and they were each determined to be heard, that night. But how can a live boy survive in a world where there are only dead people? What about his food? His clothes? His education? The …

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Weekend Book Review – Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic and dystopian novel that traverses between the past and the future, which is set 20 years since the Georgia Flu wiped out the world’s population. Some readers label this as a sci-fi novel, but I don’t agree with them. The Georgia Flu, the only scientific part of the novel, is, I daresay, only a tool used by the author to put the characters in a bleak future where boundaries are erased and technologies are obsolete. In such a situation, themes on the insufficiency of survival, the preservation of art, and the perseverance of humanity can be explored. But these themes strike me as beside the point. The overarching themes that I see in this novel are nostalgia and regret. Some parts in the past are written in the present tense while the parts in the future are written in the past tense. I find this a curious thing to do. Writing in the present tense gives a sense of urgency, and is the author trying to tell us that the …

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Weekend Book Review – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk follows one day in the life of 19-year-old Specialist Billy Lynn and the rest of the Bravo company. This one day is the last day of their Victory Tour, a national celebration for Bravo’s defeat of Iraqi insurgents, a feat filmed by a news channel and uploaded to YouTube. In this age, people can be YouTube sensations by recording themselves singing songs in the hopes that key people from the entertainment industry will stumble upon their videos, but in the case of Bravo, not only has their battle video made them into household names, it has also turned them into revered and honored national heroes. Their three-minute video inspires a producer to rally at Hollywood for a movie out of the event, a cause for celebration for Bravo. Why not? The promise of a hundred grand for every surviving member can turn his life around. They wouldn’t be infantry men if they had at least enough money to sustain a living, right? Even Billy, who is sent to the Army not for financial …

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Book Club Book Review – Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating Early is one of those books that I might not have bothered to read had it not been our book club’s first selection for this year. It’s a middle-grade novel about Jackie, a 13-year-old Kansas boy who moves to a boarding school in Maine, and Early, an eccentric classmate who lives at the school basement. One might have thought that the title is a descriptive action, such as Waking Up Early or Sleeping Early, but no, “Navigating” is a transitive verb and the direct object is the person Early. I tend to treat a novel differently when I know that the intended audience for it is younger than me. I am either more forgiving or more flexible. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I found this rather fun. If I had a nephew or a niece, I would like him or her to read this novel about a friendship that is strengthened by the boys’ adventure. At first, the friendship didn’t seem to have a chance because Jackie is that kind of boy who can …

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Weekend Book Review – Middlemarch by George Eliot

Middlemarch is a huge book. I’m not only talking about the sheer size of the physical book. The cast is huge and yet, each of them, the major ones anyway, are fleshed out in such a way that you think that the characters are real and that you’ve been transported to their century to take a part in their provincial lives. The themes are huge. I don’t think that a 500-word blog post will suffice to tackle each of them but I will try to point out a few. I suppose it might have been seen as an ambitious novel during the time of its first release in serial form. As modern readers, we have the advantage, or the disadvantage, of having the book in its singular form. I’m at the side of feeling the advantage because one does not have to wait for weeks for the next installment. The plot rolls well enough without sacrificing other elements, and this lets the reader keep turning the pages while gleaning the insights of people from a …