[Day 21] A recipe

During the World 3 podcast days, we hosted a Geekfight guest round and gave a Hi-Potion away as a prize.

For a 1 liter bottle of Hi-Potion, the recipe was mostly based on the Smurfette cocktail. But with local ingredients.

I don’t measure according to portions, I just mix and taste until it gets traydor (treacherous, sneaky).

What I remember putting in:

-2 small bottles of Blue Bolt Gatorade

-A quart of GSM Blue

-Optional: a quart of vodka for an extra kick

-Sprite

Package it in a clear, curvy bottle for that extra effect.

May this liven up your geeky game nights. Have fun!

[Day 20] A hobbie of yours

Pictures by the ever-lovely Rej Rosero.

Typo is not mine, I blame the original meme writer.

But yes, I am a geek. You can witness all fangirl geekery in its un-glory over at the fan tumblr. You can also catch me at Committee Geekfight once a month.

[Day 15] A fanfic

Once upon a time, I read and wrote fanfiction. I was fourteen years old at the time, I found the school paper boring, and I was annoyed that Mulder and Scully from the X-Files didn’t get together. Oh those were the days.

No, I won’t be posting any of my old fanfics. That was a very different me and I’d like it to remain in the cache hell of the internet.

But while many can argue fanfic as being lazy writing, there are the few and proud that I personally think improved on the series and original canon, or just continues to feed that giddy, little shallow side of me between day job duties.

Off the top of my head, here’s one fanfic that got it right: (contains mature content!)

X-Files: “E.L.S.” by Dawson E. Rambo

Part of the 30-Day writing meme. Next is ‘Day 16: A song that makes you cry (or nearly)’.

[Day 14] A non-fictional book

I recently picked up ‘I should have stayed at home: The worst trips of great writers’. It’s an anthology of anecdotes from different writers on the worst trips they’ve ever been on. Among the writers featured are Pico Iyer, Isabel Allende, Paul Thereoux, and many more.

Isabelle Allende writes about going around Europe on $1 a day, while Pico Iyer and a companion dodge sexual predators in Egypt. In another chapter, a writer talks about an impromptu trip around the world by a US president and the toll it took on his press corps. It’s more than little cautionary tales while on the road, it is, in essence, the best of the worst.

After all, as Mary Morris says in her introduction, “But it is not our comforts we remember–or that anyone else cares to remember for that matter. What is memorable is misery. It is our dismay, our disbelief, and the fact that we made it through. There is some perverse natural law that makes adversity lead to inspiration.”

Oh whew, finally reached the halfway point of this meme!

Part of the 30 Day Writing Meme. Next is Day 15: A fanfic.

[Day 13] A fictional book

I’ll count the last entry as the one for day 12.

Funny, when made to name a fictional book, I’m at a loss for words. Where to start? I already wrote about Harriet the Spy.

Ah, I know, I’ll write about the Jessica Darling series.

The Jessica Darling Books by Megan McCafferty

I make no excuses: this is chick-lit. I actually like chick-lit when the female protagonist is not so simplistic. It isn’t all about settling down and getting married after all. As a twenty-something girl who often feels like someone in a chick-lit setting, it’s a juggling act of work, love, friendship, and coming to terms with myself. It is a cliche because it’s true.

Jessica Darling from books one to three narrates through a compilation of letters to her best friend. She is a frustrated achiever, smarter and more aware of what goes on outside of her little town. Of all the people to empathize with her, it’s with Marcus, the high school druggie. What follows is a rollercoaster relationship with Marcus, as well as struggling to stick to the bigger picture no matter how small-minded the world around her is. As she enters Columbia University in New York, she finds that even she looks as small as the town she left behind. Add to that is the complex on-off relationship with Marcus, who has chosen to tread an alternative approach to life.

In book 4, Jessica Darling chooses to make her life without Marcus. It’s not a spoiler, I think this is a plus in the Jessica Darling series – book 5, she encounters Marcus again. They don’t end up together, but they finally understand what it is that has kept them together for all that time.

The Jessica Darling series was lent to me at an interesting time. I had a Marcus, one I’m still coming to terms with. It is one of those things a friend and I often agree to be, “when smart people become stupid”. I’m not ashamed to own up to my smarts, but I know I have HUGE potholes in my rationale.

I always appreciate female leads who don’t have to be right all the time. That is more real to me than someone who actually makes the dream of having it all. I only know one person who finally had it all, and it was a lifetime struggle for her. I like that the series writes about the struggle. Jessica Darling is often unsatisfied, but it rings true. It helps that McCafferty made it so timely: she did her research and grounded it very well into the time it was written.

Everything just read so well and felt so real. I still read it from time to time when hit by nostalgia, or confusion.

Part of the 30 Day Writing Meme. Next is Day 14: A Non-fictional book.

Back to Basics: What to keep in mind when reviewing theater

I lead a dual life as writer and freelance theater practitioner. My professional engagements in theater limit my coverage of the scene, but when available, I write what I can. Theater critics have their place and they are necessary, but there’s no use keeping them around if their criticism is, frankly, misguided.

There are very few reviewers in the Philippines who know what they’re talking about when they review theater.

So back to the drafts, and before you write out your review, consider the following —

1) Before you write about that part – are you sure you know what you’re talking about?
Everyone has a different sense of aesthetic, so focus on what you’re sure of. Don’t be a lights guy who tells the spinner how to balance his sound, or a stage manager who tells an actor how to attack his role. Keep in mind that the average reader just wants to know if its worth it to spend on a ticket, so look at it that way. Does it feel like a complete show? Are there parts that feel unrehearsed? Are there things you couldn’t hear, or faces you couldn’t see? Answer those questions instead. Don’t try to go over yours, or the average audience member’s head by getting into the nitty-gritties. The experts will catch you and prove you wrong.

2) Do you have pre-empted expectations of the show?
I’ve seen entire families brought to watch Avenue Q, while Xanadu the Musical is based on one of the worst movies ever made. Do those misconceptions stick with you throughout the show? Do they affect your viewership? If yes, explain what enforced or broke those misconceptions. Which leads us to—

3) Are your ideologies at the door?
Art has its grudges. If you have an ulterior motive to art, come clean with it. The best reviews I’ve come across parks its grudges in the opening paragraphs, and makes the framework for its opinions crystal clear in the process. I dislike reviews that try to pass as theater bibles. Help with audience development, companies want to know what kind of people watch their shows, give them a clear idea where you’re coming from.

4) Know your lingo: You don’t review the preview.
That’s why most theater companies have a PREVIEW before a  CRITICS NIGHT. A preview is equivalent to the first full-length dress-tech rehearsal with audience for a simulated show experience. Things will go wrong on preview night as it is the final knot in the process of production. CRITICS NIGHT is the first real show, and you’re welcome to sharpen your claws there.

5) You get what you pay, or don’t pay for. As much as possible, try to pay for your ticket. The fact that you paid for your ticket will make all the difference in your review, now that you’ve put value to seat and your time.

6) Show, not tell.
This applies to all opinion pieces. Assume your readers have not seen the show yet. Most of the time, the stuff onstage has never been seen or heard of before. This is a writing basic: give examples, give supporting details, don’t make generalizations.

A lot of these are writing basics. Golden rule: never forget the basics, they always work, in print or online.