Thursday, October 30, 2008

To be godded over and still dawdling

30-Oct-2008, 4:52 PM

I finally found room for a breather and what better way to dawdle in it than to take on a point of passion, which is also my point of refuge. Writing is the eye of the storm around me. It calms and soothes me while ironically it also tides over the recharging of creative impulses.

It has been three months since I last wrote in this blog. Much of the reason for my absence of entries is rooted on earning an income. I, like I guess most of us, am godded over by the demand-economics of living. Work for me is a non-issue. I never considered graphic design as work because whatever requirements a client may have, I am but happy and willing to oblige. After all, it is one of my points of passion but only coming in at a very close second to writing. So, I am more inclined to think of graphic design as my income-generating skill and the entailing process as more of creative play than work.

Having said that, this is a snapshot of my schedule for the past week and from hereon in: Syngenta – packaging & brochures; Croma Medic/ Bausch & Lomb/ Santen/ Thea/ Kimia Pharma – various collaterals & creatives; Cathay Pacific – Marco Polo Club Qtr. 4 country update & 2009 table planner; Eventking – Dinos Alive! Manila banners, streamers & photo op standee; Eventking & Smart Communications – Smart Buddy Pacquiao - De La Hoya creatives & collaterals; and a variety of small projects in between.

Lately, I have been fascinated by oriental iconography. This is due in part to one of my favorite Korean dramas, The Great King Sejong, on KBS World (check their website for local schedule listings). I’m so caught by the Korean Hallyu (Wave). So, inspired by the traditional art of the Joseon dynasty, I rendered illustrations of stylized clouds and waves that I applied as textural background on the design studies I made for Cathay Pacific’s 2009 table planner.

Stylized oriental clouds graphic illustration by Kyn H. Firmalino © 2008.

Stylized oriental waves graphic illustration by Kyn H. Firmalino © 2008.

Which reminds me, Ms. Anna and Ms. Lynette, I’m working on the artworks & layout and I’ll be sending them to you for review shortly.

And now, it’s nearly time for me to return to the drawing board. In the meantime, I leave you Foals and Pizzicato Five (P5). They are on continuous shuffle in my computer’s player at the moment and they keep me good company. Olympic Airways is from the Foals’ debut album, Antidotes. This freshman album of the Brit lads from Oxford was released just this March.

Olympic Airways - Foals

On the other hand, P5 has been in the Shibuya sugar-pop scene since the early 1990s. The track here, called Baby Love Child, was released in 1994. Both are part of my soundtracks to life. Take a listen and you’ll understand why.

Baby Love Child - Pizzicato Five

P.S.: Thanks to the great writer from Stratford-upon-Avon for coining “godded” hence entering the term in our literary lexicon. Regarding “Writing on Furlough Redux (once more),” I was planning to place a scan of Turkish Afterthoughts in here but I have lost my copy. I have yet to go to the journals & serials archive section of the National Library along T. M. Kalaw to get me another copy. Yes, I know, imagine the thought of trudging to a dingy mezzanine on the 3rd or 4th floor and searching hardbound yet threadbare serials on rickety shelves while barely-concerned, barely-there librarians chatter away. I love it! For all its state of disrepair, you’ve got to hand it to our National Library. It’s got character. This sentiment is selfish, and I digress a bit, but I hope that place doesn’t change. So, I’ll write the entry for the “Redux 2” as soon as I have the copy in hand. Happy returns to all and live well. Now, scoot back to your drawing boards!

Friday, August 1, 2008

On rainy days, it's best to have Erlend Øye on hand

There is a lot to say about weather and moods. It has been raining for the past few days and I cannot shake off moments of wistfulness. I thought, I might as well go with the flow and put Erlend Øye on my player.

I have always loved Øye's works. The lyrical tone of his vocals reminds me of two other favorites, Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl (EBTG, with Ben Watt) and Mutya Buena. The simplicity in vocal composition and delivery pierces the soul then lifts it to heights of insights about your life.

The track in this post is from his 2006 side-project with The Whitest Boy Alive. I am presupposing that his main band is Kings of Convenience with Eirik Bøe.

Listen to the Golden Cage. It is one of my favorite tracks in their Dreams album.

Then listen to this remix by DJ Fred Falke. It is as brilliant as the original. Falke took the opening chords and turned them into a hook that he looped into parts of this wonderful electronica-synth remix while seamlessly keeping the clear lyrical tone of Øye's vocals in the original.

On rainy days, I would rather just curl up in bed and listen to Erlend Øye singing.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Work + Persephone's Bees = OTJ* Electropop Discofunk Fun

My work:

My soundtrack:

*on the job (OTJ)

P.S.: Writing on furlough redux once more, to follow soon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dancing to Øye and Bøe

Alone in my room at night with earphones on, I dance.

Life is tough but it is sweet. Obstacles may hinder my pace and push me offtrack at times but in moments like these, I turn to my soundtracks to life and dance.

Kings of Convenience, thanks for getting me back in groove.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Writing on furlough redux

So, recommencing on the last point in my previous post, these people are some of my creative writing heroes. With other icons in other genres of fiction that run the gamut from Saul Bellow, Chaim Potok, Ernest Hemingway, Isabel Allende to Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Anatole France, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen and so much more, their works are my points of inspiration.

As a matter of self promotion, I too have been published for fiction and poetry – four times so far, twice for short story and the same number for poetry. Reading my very first foray onto printed text now is quite embarrassing. It was a poem entitled “Children of the Streets” and I think I was lucky it was published by the Philippines Free Press, a national weekly news magazine. I was paid something like Php400 for it, which was a considerable amount at that time. That was 1990. My thoughts on the poem now is that it is sophomoric, to say the least.

My second published piece was a short story entitled “Small Talk,” which also appeared in the Philippines Free Press, in its June 24, 1995 issue. This was when I discovered that I enjoyed writing narratives, weaving imagery and mixing metaphors. Here are some excerpts from “Small Talk”:

Shafts of light had drawn shadows of leaves on the asphalt road of that single strip of parking lot fringed by trees on opposite sides. A wind blew just then and brought a leaf storm of sorts as leaf after leaf fell and hurtled on the coarse surface of the road like being swept by an invisible broom…

…So, it was nearly evening when we left that room but we did not notice the time or that we had already come out of the building. Neither did we notice how many people there were, as there were many, waiting for a jeepney ride under the shed in front of the Faculty Center. We all but forgot the traffic at Philcoa or the roads outside the university. We only noticed the play of twilight in hues of glowing yellows, orange and light reds streaming through the canopies of a hundred little round leaves of the big acacia trees that lined the asphalt road of the avenue we faced while we lightly tossed around pleasant small talk between snatches of silence.

And so we left the university sometime between the warm fading lights of dusk and the swift procession of nightfall, a bit happy with each other and a bit contented with ourselves and, assessing it now from memory, a bit wiser.

The third one was a poem whose authorship I am proud to stake claim. I think poetry suits my writing as well because of my love for the alchemy of imagery and metaphors but constrained in a limited and precise lexicon.

This one I entitled “Turkish Afterthoughts.” No, I haven’t been to that part of the world. I wrote the poem after a friend traveled to Turkey for a vacation. We met for some coffee and tea when she got back. That’s when I heard her stories of that land straddling Europe and ancient Asia Minor. Her photo album helped too. I was able to write the poem in its published form in one sitting that night after we met.

(I have to take a break here again. Money beckons, I must comply. For my worth to subsist, I must not resist. With these words I momentarily leave you but I reckon, another redux of this topic is in order and will be in the works. I bid you adieu for now until my digits pound on the keys once more. Until then, dream and live the dream. Life is short. We must optimize living it while we are afforded the chance to do so. Albeit a cliché, this caveat is still a universal truth. Live well.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Writing on furlough

Seven months hence, I finally brought myself to write again. Of all my life’s activities so far, I have a passion for two things. The second is graphic design. The first is writing.

I’ve realized this early on but I find myself preoccupied in earning my keep by way of my second passion. I’ve found a small but steady market for my talent in this that has kept me financially afloat. This affords me to buy my bread, and butter it as well.

On the other hand, my first love and passion has a huge market but with an equally enormous supply of talent. As in any industry, monetary returns are high for established writers regardless of the degree of talent. Lesser mortals in this universe of the written text must content themselves with the dregs.

This is more evident in my chosen genre – fiction. In recent memory, I’d consider JK Rowling as the most elite among those in the top tier. Although I considerably doubt any superlative adoration for her talent, I do like the tale and the characters she wove in her Harry Potter series. Albeit fiction with a hodgepodge of rehashed themes, I cannot deny that they are an engaging read. They have moments or sparks of creativity here and there. My only point is that she found a market and her niche, and built an empire. If it pleases her, she could now very well afford to hone her talent into a higher degree of skill.

If talent in creative writing is to be the basis then Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for one, would be leagues apart. His brilliance and stroke of genius has been defined by his singular commitment of magic realism to text in our day and age. This sublime marriage of the supernatural and fantastic with the mundane has not been etched in our literary consciousness since our ancestors earlier on recited and then later on read our folklores, myths, legends and epics.

Next on my list of modern fiction icons is JRR Tolkein for creating Middle Earth and commencing my ongoing amazement with fantasy. Then there is Stephen Donaldson for weaving text to craft Thomas Covenant. Orson Scott Card is at par for Alvin Maker and also for extending his reach to science fiction bringing Ender to word and hence to life. Of note in my list is Anne McCaffrey for transporting me to Pern and other planet types and, like Card, for introducing countless possibilities in and between fantasy and sci-fi writing.

(I have to take a client’s call. Please hold this point for a moment. I’ll resume in part 2 of this post.)