Lunchtime break: Random quotes

Ever since high school, I’ve jotted down quotes and passages from books, magazine articles, TV shows and movies I’ve watched, people I’ve met and even overheard conversations of random people in various notebooks that I’ve been lugging around with me ever since. But with the advent of Facebook and the various incarnations of social media (like this blog), my tendency to record stuff has tapered off, which is really a pity because jotting things down was sort of how I kept track of things that happened in my life (“Ahh! Wrote this while I was having coffee with whatshername and she told me about that thing with whatshisface…” stuff like that) or was a good creative source whenever I feel blocked about what I’m writing — which is what is happening now, actually. However, this past weekend, after updating my phone’s software, I was scrolling through my notes, and it turns out I’ve been jotting down or taking photos of random stuff and I just haven’t really realized it. So I’m putting them here, before I delete them forever from the phone. Warning, some are sappy, some are wise, some I’ve posted on my Instagram or posted on Facebook, some are funny and some are just plain, “huh?”

Continue reading Lunchtime break: Random quotes

Grace notes

This morning, I interviewed Filipino-Canadian author, Marie Claire Lim-Moore about her book, Don’t Forget the Soap and Other Reminders from My Fabulous Filipina Mother. We got to compare notes about our childhoods and how we were raised and she mentioned that the hardest lesson that she had to learn from her mom was the idea of gratitude — to be always mindful of and grateful for what we have and what is given to us.

Continue reading Grace notes

25 jokes only book nerds will understand (not a humble brag)

25 jokes only book nerds will understand

Some of these were funny in a book-nerd sort of way, some were clever and some went over my head. Apparently, I am not enough of a book nerd as I thought… Or maybe I read the wrong kinds of books.

Watercolor portraits of fictional heroines

Watercolor portraits of fictional heroines

Holly Golightly, <i>Breakfast at Tiffany's</i>

I know I should be writing more original entries. I’m coasting, I know. But I can’t help posting about this article. It’s about the book, Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines. I would love to own this book! The artwork is gorgeous as is the depiction of the women. That’s Holly Golightly above from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I love that Nancy Drew is in here, too! Wonder who else is included? See more of the artwork here.

I’ll definitely be watching out for this in the bookstore when it comes out (and screw the book debt!).

[image borrowed from The Cut]

30 pieces of dating advice from literature

30 pieces of dating advice from literature

Blind Willow, Sleeping Women (Haruki Murakami)

Some gems from this link:

“I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.” – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Haruki Murakami

“Women fall in love when they get to know you. Men are just the opposite. When they finally know you they’re ready to leave.” — Dusk and Other Stories, James Salter

“The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person.” — Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” — The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

“The only obsession everyone wants: ‘love.’ People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you’re whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You’re whole, and then you’re cracked open.”

“The only obsession everyone wants: ‘love.’ People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you’re whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You’re whole, and then you’re cracked open.” — The Dying Animal, Philip Roth

Somebody asked …

Somebody asked Somerset Maugham about his place in the pantheon of writers, and he said, “I’m in the very front row of the second rate.” I’m sort of haunted by that. You do the best you can. The idea of posterity for a writer is poison, don’t you think so?”

Michael Edwards

— Stephen King, quoting Somerset Maugham, in an interview with Ken Tucker. Full article here. Can’t wait for his new book, Joyland!

[photo borrowed from the article]

Deep think of the week

Deep think of the week


Yes, I know. Really? Deep think? Trust me on this, it’s a good read. Besides, if you can’t do some deep thinking on a Wednesday — far enough from the previous weekend to forget about your hangover and not near the coming weekend to be actually looking forward to the mayhem — when can you?

My main takeaways from this article? Two things: One, actively seek out opportunities (i.e., mistakes) just so you can recover from them. So true. What’s the joy in life if you’re always playing it safe and hedging your bets, eh? Two, know how to criticise and argue with someone without resorting to cheap shots. I see this all the time, especially online, where arguments quickly get reduced to name-calling and insults. Having someone — a philosopher, no less! — plot out how to make a successful argument in four easy steps? Go read and learn, is all I can say.

Click on the link above for the full article. But for excerpts, read below.

The writer presents seven simple rules for thinking:

1. Use your mistakes
“Try to acquire the weird practice of savouring your mistakes, delighting in uncovering the strange quirks that led you astray. Then, once you have sucked out all the goodness to be gained from having made them, you can cheerfully set them behind you and go on to the next big opportunity. But that is not enough: you should actively seek out opportunities just so you can then recover from them.”

2. Respect your opponent
“Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticising the views of an opponent? If there are obvious contradictions in the opponent’s case, then you should point them out, forcefully. If there are somewhat hidden contradictions, you should carefully expose them to view – and then dump on them. But the search for hidden contradictions often crosses the line into nitpicking, sea-lawyering and outright parody. The thrill of the chase and the conviction that your opponent has to be harbouring a confusion somewhere encourages uncharitable interpretation, which gives you an easy target to attack.

But such easy targets are typically irrelevant to the real issues at stake and simply waste everybody’s time and patience, even if they give amusement to your supporters.”

3. Heed the “surely” klaxon <—- (This is especially useful for writers and editors)
“When you’re reading or skimming argumentative essays, especially by philosophers, here is a quick trick that may save you much time and effort, especially in this age of simple searching by computer: look for “surely” in the document and check each occurrence. Not always, not even most of the time, but often the word “surely” is as good as a blinking light locating a weak point in the argument.

Why? Because it marks the very edge of what the author is actually sure about and hopes readers will also be sure about.”

4. Answer rhetorical questions <— also useful for writers and editors and for those who like being snarky

“Here is a good habit to develop: whenever you see a rhetorical question, try – silently, to yourself – to give it an unobvious answer. If you find a good one, surprise your interlocutor by answering the question. I remember a Peanuts cartoon from years ago that nicely illustrates the tactic. Charlie Brown had just asked, rhetorically: “Who’s to say what is right and wrong here?” and Lucy responded, in the next panel: “I will.”

5. Employ Occam’s Razor
“The idea is straightforward: don’t concoct a complicated, extravagant theory if you’ve got a simpler one (containing fewer ingredients, fewer entities) that handles the phenomenon just as well.”

6. Don’t waste your time on rubbish
“Sturgeon’s law is usually expressed thus: 90% of everything is crap. So 90% of experiments in molecular biology, 90% of poetry, 90% of philosophy books, 90% of peer-reviewed articles in mathematics – and so forth – is crap…. Let’s stipulate at the outset that there is a great deal of deplorable, second-rate stuff out there, of all sorts. Now, in order not to waste your time and try our patience, make sure you concentrate on the best stuff you can find, the flagship examples extolled by the leaders of the field, the prize-winning entries, not the dregs.”

7. Beware of deepities
Being guilty of a few “deepities” myself, this got me assessing my throwaway statements and faux-profundity.

[image of Rodin’s The Thinker borrowed from this article from The Huffington Post]

‘Get a life,’ t…

‘Get a life,’ they say. Sometimes I feel as if I have gotten everybody else’s. I have a colleague who describes his job as ‘covering the national dream beat,’ because if you pay attention to the movies they will tell you what people desire and fear in their deepest secrets. At least, the good ones will. That’s why we go: hoping to be touched in those secret places. Movies are hardly ever about what they seem to be about. Look at a movie that a lot of people love, and you will find something profound, no matter how silly the film may seem.”

[With archrival and colleague Gene Siskel (left), Chicago Tribune’s movie critic. I bet they’re having contentious discussions of the movies wherever they are now!]

— From “Reflections After 25 Years at the Movies,” April 1992, as quoted in “15 Roger Ebert Passages That Epitomize His Writing” in Roger Ebert was part of the movie landscape I usually visited as an omniverous movie watcher. Unlike some friends, I didn’t read him regularly, but I did admire his way with words, and his pithy commentaries about movies, life and the human condition that he oh-so briliantly wrote about. They don’t make movie critics like him anymore.

[Image borrowed from his obit in the Boston Herald]

I was bored so I collaborated with Shakespeare, Dickinson, Poe and a few other dead writers…

… in this fun writing exercise. Click here to get started. Enjoy the craziness!

writers' bloc2

What I do at work

What I do at work

I consider myself a hired gun. It means I write what other people tell me to write about their product, company or service. Creative writers might think it’s hack work, but it’s really quite fulfilling — especially when I am able to come up with a great article or copy for, say, a pest control device in the morning and then write an in-depth analysis piece on environmental awareness in the afternoon and an article on a Spanish road trip another day.

This infographic shows just a bit of what I do everyday.

anc copywriting Everything You Need to Know About Copywriting [Infographic]