Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Of Mildew, Childhood, and Great Stories

Browsing the shelves of Fully Booked today reminded me of my childhood. I was in the childrens section, leafing through pages and pages of colorfully illustrated books. I was pleased to find many classics. With all the cool stuff coming out, its easy to forget that some of the greatest stuff are the ones that stand the test of time.

I consider myself fortunate that a lot of the stuff I read as a child were from my mom's collection. As a kid, she was very particular about wrapping her books in clear cellophane and storing them in areas that were conducive to maintaining their pristine condition. She gave me some valuable tips, actually. Unfortunately, I was never very good at taking them to heart. I once lost about 50 books stored in a low cabinet due to rainwater that flooded my room during a storm. It was disheartening to see my books covered in mildew; their pages damp and stuck together; the covers a blurred riot of color, the actual images indistinguishable. I remember my mom coming in and shaking her head, saddened because some of these books were the very ones she passed on to me.

I'm not so finicky when it comes to my books. I believe they are meant to be enjoyed wholeheartedly: read  whether you have a greasy burger on the other hand, or a huge glass of brightly colored juice nearby that could potentially ruin the fragile material that is paper. On land, air, or sea--it really makes no difference to me, so long as I can read.

I am digressing from the point of this blog entry though. Sorry. As I was saying before my rambling interrupted, I was really happy to discover many classics on Fully Booked's shelves today. Though many of them show signs of the times illustration-wise, the stories remain intact and just as amazing as when I first read them.

Here is a real blast from the past: Joel Chandler Harris's The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus.

These stories date all the way back to the 1800s, and revolve around a curious character names Brer Rabbit and his animal friends (and enemies). Everybody was named Brer: Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, Brer B'ar (Bear), Brer Rattlesnake--you get the picture. I remember really loving these stories as a kid. I guess it was the simplicity of these stories: just going about their course of their daily lives as country folk, and the fact that all the characters were animals (think Wind in the Willows, Charlotte's Web, etc.) that had me hooked. It was also a look back at a time so far removed from my own (even my parents and grandparents) that made it so interesting.

Another cool book I rediscovered today is The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (author of The Moffats, another of my favorites). 

I first read this story in a book called 70 Favourite Stories for Young Readers. I think it has long gone out of print.

I really love this story, which pretty much deals with the whole "wanting to belong" bit that
almost every kid goes through. The protagonist's name is Wanda Petronsky, a kid who lives on the wrong side of the tracks, and who would come to school everyday dressed in the same worn out blue dress. To cut to the chase she becomes the butt of the popular girls' jokes. Eventually, she leaves town, leaving behind an indelible impression of her remarkable talent as a painter. More importantly, the bullies realize (some more than others) how awfully they treated her. 

The book, all in all, is a really clever way of imparting to the young that wise and very true adage: "Don't judge a book by its cover."  

I've always had a predilection for horror and fantasy fiction. As a kid I remember reading these pocket-sized books that made classics easier for children to digest. I owe my love for classics to those books and to my aunt who gave them to me (She was adamant that I read the good stuff). One of these books was a compilation of horror stories of Edgar Allan Poe. "Hop-Frog," in particular, was a story that really scared me. I spotted a cool version of this book on the shelves today. I really like the illustrations, which inject some humor, softening the impact of these macabre stories. The book is called Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Madness. It is illustrated by a fellow named Gris Grimly.

The book contains four of Poe's tales: "The Black Cat," "The Masque of the Red Deat," "Hop-Frog," and "The Fall of the House of Usher." This book brought me back to my first experience reading horror. I have to say that a couple of shivers ran up my spine, along with some irrepressible hoots of laughter because of the funny illustrations (weird comibination, huh?).

*According to Amazon these three books are suitable for children ages 9-12 though some supervision and guidance from parents is always a big plus when it comes to horror titles.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

In Memory of a Friend

UNO Magazine is celebrating its September 2010 issue in Fully Booked High Street, Fort Bonifacio on Monday, September 20 at 6 p.m. It is a fitting tribute to the late Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc.

Alexis Tioseco was founder of The Fully Booked Film Series, which is still ongoing. He was a regular customer at Fully Booked. I would see him quite a lot, especially when he was holding film showings, way before I started this blog. Nika Bohinc, his girlfriend, was also a brilliant film critic, and editor-in-chief of Ekran, a Slovenian publication on film.

When the people at Fully Booked heard of Alexis's untimely passing, those who knew him, were saddened and horrified by the news. It has been a little over a year since the tragedy occured, and still no justice has been given to these two lovely human beings.

The editor-in-chief of the Fully Booked Zine has agreed to let me republish an excerpt of an article that Alexis wrote for  them in December 2005, when they were still known as In-Print. It is a simple book review, but even then, before he became really renowned, his love and passion for film was so evident, not to mention his gift for words; it was also a portent of what he was to become--respected as he was in his field.

A short excerpt from a book review entitled Critic After Dark: A Review of Philippine Cinema (The Collected writings of Noel Vera on Philippine Cinema from 1994-2004), written by Alexis Tioseco for In-Print in December 2005:

"Noel Vera is an anomaly in Philippine cinema... Opposition. If not an expletive (often spouted by those he has torn apart in his reviews), it is the first word that comes to mind when speaking of the writing of impassioned film critic Noel Vera. While this candor has gotten him into trouble in many instances, it also is, when paired with his intense passion for, and deep knowledge of cinema, is his greatest asset. Vera is not one who takes cinema lightly, nor is he one to bite his tongue and shy away from controversy, and rightly so. For what purpose does the critic exist if not to give an honest (and brutally so, when need be) assessment of a work?"

(Photos courtesy of UNO Magazine)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sprouting a Conscience

Something GREEN is Coming to Fully Booked... for it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Them Apples: The Death Note manga series


No, this Ryuk figure isn't available at Fully Booked. Its part of my personal collection :-)!

For those who don't know who this creepy dude is, his name is Ryuk, a death god (or shinigami) from the popular manga and anime series Death Note. (There was also a live action film, which, in my opinion, wasn't as good as the anime (Japanese cartoon). This is not to say that I didn't find it entertaining.) Ryuk is a totally freaky yet strangely endearing creature whose favorite food is...APPLES.

The basic premise of this manga (or Japanese comic book) series revolves around a notebook dropped by Ryuk (on purpose) and picked up by a bright law student named Light Yagami. Basically, this notebook has the power to kill by simply writing down the name of the person you want to do away with. Light uses it to rid the world of all the criminals, under guise of the seemingly unstoppable, undiscoverable "Kira."

Like most vigilantes, Light is eventually consumed by the power of the Death Note. Though his intentions are pure in the beginning, that nobody has the right to take away life begins to tear at his morality and twist his very being.

The strange and reclusive genius, Detective L, is assigned to discover who Kira really is and end his murderous mission. Its an interesting and exciting chase to say the least, and despite the plot's morbid aspect, there are some humorous bits, which can be attributed to Tsugumi Ohba's great characterization, to say nothing of Takeshi Obata's imagery. Before I go and spoil the entire story for you, I am going to stop right here, and end by saying its one of the best manga series (and anime for that matter) I've ever seen. Of course, it does have a touch of that redundancy so typical of a lot of manga (take Hell Girl by Miyuki Eto, for example) storylines.

What inspired me to blog about this today is once again I was trawling the sea that is Fully Booked for more exceptional reads, when I spotted this swimming in the manga section (I "love" the manga section of Fully Booked):

The Death Note box set, which includes all 12 mangas, Death Note 13: How to Read, plus another surprise. The box is a collector's item in itself--a mini suitcase with a handle. All I can say is "WOW."

And how do you like 'em apples?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On International Literacy Day, a new book buy, and being Filipino!

Okay, so I'm a day late but as the saying goes: "Better late than never!"

For someone who professes to love books so much I feel pretty ashamed that I never knew that International Literacy Day is on September 8-until today that is. I was, as usual, stalking the aisles of Fully Booked when I came across a new display table piled with books of a couple of authors, namely: Margaret Atwood (one of my favorites), Amy Tan, Toni Morrison, Banana Yoshimoto, and Paul Auster. I asked the staff and they told me that these writers, among a few others, formed the Writers for Literacy Initiative and are helping UNESCO raise literacy awareness

Here are some of my favorite titles of some of these writers:

I decided to get The Tent by Margaret Atwood, which is, a compilation of essays and poems that encapsulate life-professional and personal-in general. I'd love to tell you more about the book, but since I haven't read it yet, that will have to be for a future entry. I had no reservations getting this one though because Margaret Atwood, is, as The Economist so aptly puts it, "...a scintillating wordsmith."

More than just these authors' books though, that display made me realize how lucky I am that I can actually read. I tried to imagine life without books; living even just a single day without having the ability to dive into the pages of a great novel and surface into another world. I felt chills run down my spine, and my eyes literally watered.

Illiteracy is rampant everywhere. According to UNESCO, "Today one in five adults is still not literate and about wo-thirds of them are women while 67.4 million children are out of school." I Googled the literacy rate of the Philippines and checked out how we were listed in the U.S. Department of State's website and was proud of what I saw: "The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the developing world. About 93% of the population 10 years of age and older are literate." For a country that is considered third world with an alarming poverty index, we sure know how to value our education. I swell with pride at that!

Apologies as I am about to refer to myself in the third person, but Lucy is PROUD TO BE FILIPINO!!! Hurrah!!!! :-)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Let me kick start this post with one of my favorite classic cartoon intros from 1966:

Yup, its Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man, just about one of the coolest comic heroes ever. I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to film adaptations of graphic novels and comic books, but I have to say that Robert Downey Jr. did an awesome job with his Iron Man role in 2008.

Today's post is not about a book, but about a collectible.

One of the things I love most about Fully Booked is that there are just so many cool things—besides books, which are pretty hard to beat—to ogle at. I was at the basement level of Fully Booked today (one of my favorite sections), browsing the collectibles, when I saw something, which created an enormous lump in my throat. I tell you swallowing that lump was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life. Staring at me from behind the glass display case was one of the most phenomenal collectibles I've ever seen. Here is a photo (Blogger's note: Apologies for my shoddy photography skills):

Ladies and gents, this is the Exclusive Hulkbuster Iron Man Comiquette from Sideshow Collectibles. Why Hulkbuster? Well, if you were Iron Man and had to battle the not-so-jolly-green-giant a.k.a. The Incredible Hulk, you would need the toughest, most state-of-the-art armor to come out relatively unscathed.

I have a feeling your dads, brothers, uncles, and male bosses (as well as some girls like me who inherited a love for comics and collectibles from their big brothers) would love to get their hands on this rare piece.

Check out the detail on this superb work of art:

The Marvel Exclusive Hulkbuster Iron Man Comiquette is made of polystone. He stands at approximately 21 inches and is 18 inches wide. He weighs a hefty 15 pounds, and was created by Anthony Mestas, Mike Najera, and Pablo Viggiano, along with the rest of the Sideshow design team.

Now if I could only take him home...


Monday, September 6, 2010

Not All Friends Should be Invited In

*WARNING: Parental Guidance is strongly recommended. Though this book contains characters who are children, it is not meant to be read by children due to the violence and graphic content. This book is classified for ADULTS ONLY.

Most vampire lore tells us that the undead should never be invited in—unless you want to be the main course that is.

Never has there been so much hype on vampires. Ever since Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, more and more readers have been drawn to the so-called "darker side" of literature. Of course, its much more palatable when love is involved. Fear is often replaced by readers rooting for couples like Bella and Edward; blood and gore is overlooked, superseded by that highly anticipated kissing scene between human and vampire.

Not so with John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let the Right One In, which is the tale of an unusual "friendship," one that has dire consequences. The love involved is marked by an innocence that can only exist between children. Unfortunately, this innocence is marred by one of the protagonists' dark nature.

The story is set in Blackeburg, Sweden and revolves around a 12-year-old boy named Oskar. Ridiculed and bullied at school, Oskar keeps to himself. When a gruesome murder of a teenager takes place in his neighborhood, Oskar harbors a secret hope that somebody out there will do away with all bullies once and for all. And then he meets Eli. Finally, Oskar has a friend. So what if she looks a bit strange? She likes him for who he is. Funny thing is, unlike normal kids, Eli can only come out to play at night...

Chilling and masterfully written, you won't be able to put down this book until you have reached the last page. It may make you think twice about your new neighbor... kidding, of course!

Adapted into film in 2008 and directed by Tomas Alfredson, Let the Right One In bagged the Best Narrative Feature FOUNDERS AWARDS in the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. Here is the trailer:

Friday, September 3, 2010

James Jean: Not Just a FABLE—He's Got the Makings of a LEGEND

James Jean (visual genius behind Vertigo's Fables, among others) has a fairly recent (July 2010) book out! Hurrah!

Fans of his richly detailed work will be blown away by Rift (Chronicle Books), which features two of his stunning fantasyscapes—and then some. There are no words, but this is not to say that this compact 4 x 6-inch book doesn't tell a story (or should I say "stories"). The book is accordion-like; one side is colored and the other black and white. The unique feature of this "picture book" is you can fold it into many different ways—each one yielding a new image.

Here's a bit of a spoiler:

I spotted the book while stalking the aisles of Fully Booked today. Being the James Jean fangirl that I am, I couldn't help but gurgle with unrepressed delight (I got a couple of disapproving looks from other browsers, but I really couldn't help it.). This is something I just had to add to my collection. If you're an art lover—or a graphic novel junkie—who isn't already acquainted with James Jean's work, this is the perfect way to get started.