High five, hands down

It's no contest, period. No problem if the presentor for Best Director and Best Picture in tonight's ceremony at the Oscar Awards would sleepwalk to the podium and go ho-hum.
What's surprising would be someone out there not puppy-eyed after watching Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, impervious to its enchantment.

Almost too tricky to be true, how its style and sensibility throw caution to the wind (the potential of falling in the muddy face of cliche, like innocence and goodness overcoming the odds as true love prevails, tra la la). How it nimbly leaps and swoops through its sprawling narrative (dovetailing its hyperkenetic chase sequence in the slums as the film kicks off) and dances around the dusty land mine of a dreary and ordinary tale (a doggone boy in desperate search for his girl en route to a happy ending). Marvel at the smoke-and-mirror structure of its storytelling (memory on a quick burn out of the questions in a game show, and destiny as no more than a matter of multiple choice for two brothers blazing on parallel but forking paths to redemption). How Boyle hoists a torch of a toilet rag called reality in a Third World country through a ripple of silk curtains whipped up by his camera's abracadabra. Such a storm, indeed, of visual (and aural) combustion.

That you come out tripping the cinematic light fantastic after the credits roll to the rhythm of a Bollywood no-holds-barred choreography is no accident. Just the way joy and all that jazz settle down, with spirits rising.

Indeed, to describe this pyrotechnic piece of filmmaking would entail no less than a fire-eater's feat of gurgling petrol-laced syrup and spewing out bubbles of flames. Enough said. Or, if this unrestrained awe is not enough, click here to read my opinion column in Sun.Star Cebu as my head brims with the tune of Jai Ho straight from this video remix below:


Bite this book

It happens that a book might as well bark at you; its dog ears one too many of its prize-winning pages.

"God Laughs and Plays" is the first book I have finished reading so far this year. And there's no stopping me from unleashing again an urge to pore and mull over such watered-down notions on faith and finding joy, how these are suffused with the wildness of its rage and the grace of its wisdom, easing you into an introspection so chockful with a grin and chuckle every now and then.

God bless writers like David James Duncan. He with a maverick's sulphur in the stomach, a Zen master's zoom into sunlit sense of things, and a stand-up comedian's sass. All the world may be a stage for buffoons and charlatans, but Duncan affirms it's also a garden of wonder, a shore of fathomless possibilities, a temple in a playground along a river where fly-fishers can romp around like children.

"Duncan is a scandal both to the institutional church and to secular snobs; a truly dangerous man," a reviewer defines Duncan. Blame it on his writing, "a mind-bending trip through spiritual thought over the ages, with plenty of stops by the wayside of the troubled, politicized present." After all, this book as subtitled is a subversive trove of "Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalists Right."

Forgive me if my tongue is wagging like a tail regarding another reviewer's unabashed description of Duncan and his book: "He has been a denizen of the wilderness for forty years and has returned with liberating parables and allegories that are majestic, rib-tickling, and timeless. He has brought water to the desert of self-righteous 'Christianity' and in so doing, restores our faith in faith itself. Read it once and you will laugh. Read it twice and you will play again with God as you did when you were a child..."

And here's the publisher's postscript: "It is the vision of an activist sage. A sage ecologist. An ecological mystic." Now you see why I'm drooling rabidly.


Star student, proud parents

My eldest son Gabriel Ollivan, who turns six today, recently made it a strain for me and his Wawa to get ourselves immune from immodesty. You see, Avondale West Elementary School recently posted his photo on the wall beside the gym door along with those of other students who got a star certificate for academic excellence. Golli, as he is fondly called, is one of the two star students in Avondale's two kindergarten classes.

Caught me by suprise, really, because I thought all the while that he is a rough chip off the old reckless block. You see, it's been a frequent complaint by her teacher that Golli often has a hard time listening and keeping his mouth shut. Mine is a rolypoly kid, I know. Someone who would rather frisk around as most kids would prefer rather than study. Another thing: he complains a lot when asked to read. So imagine how pleased as punched we were when he showed us his star-fringed certificate.

It's the second time Golli surprised us since he started kindergarten. Last December, he told us that their school will present an annual Christmas play. All of my classmates are in it, or so he mentioned in passing. No big deal. We thought he would be no more than pipsqueak in the background, considering how he merely made us hear a line he had to say to someone else in the play. So we just shrugged the whole thing off, until we saw him onstage so breezy with those long lines he had to deliver! How did he manage to memorize those? Turned out his part (as Papa Snow) was one of the play's main character.

Enough tooting of parental trumpet. Which, as every father and mother would know, is as easy as stifling a post-prandial burp.

Meanwhile, keep up the good work, anak! At least all my panic overdrive while whipping up your lazybone to a frenzy every morning in preparation for school has been not for naught.