Archive for October 2009
Woven into four worlds of chivalry and honor, of danger and desire, are threads as fine as the touch of their creator, or as rough as the earthy desires ringing in the cash register. Containing a healthy balance of these two types, Tapestry was a good read, an in-between-er that allowed me to rest my mind from my current main read, which is Prospero’s Children by Jan Siegel.
Of the four stories, my favorite is To Kiss in the Shadow by Lynn Kurland, where a young man discovers his noble quest is to love and protect a shy young woman hiding her ruined beauty behind a tapestry frame. An Interrupted Tapestry by Madeline Hunter is a sweet tale about a wealthy trader who won the best deal of his life by finally declaring his love to an impoverished noblewoman he has loved for years, saving her from dishonor in the process. Shamelessly indulgent and escapist, Dragonswan by Sherrilyn Kenyon followed up the lust-on-first sight with an info overload of the story’s mythology so the fight and bed scenes could get it on with little competition—I didn’t care for this one.
Karen Marie Moning’s Into the Dreaming involves another Highlander, made mad from being imprisoned by the Unseelie King in an ice world for centuries; to ruin the plans of her enemy, the Seelie Queen transports a 20th-century aspiring romance novelist to 15th-century Scotland to bring some life back into the man of her dreams.This last was very funny, though I must honestly say the aspiring writer-heroine sucks at writing. Fortunately, her medieval audience are less critical of her bawdy style of writing.
See, whining is useful!
“Most of her comics are centered on the agent’s perspective. It is a good resource because it shows what the bigger population is thinking. All are true and though it is presented as being humorous, it is being used by management as basis to improve processes and employee satisfaction in the centers.” –Callcenterscript.com
Ngii! Isn’t this a nice way of saying the comics writer let the cat, so many cats, out of the bag? Did the call center life become easier—or more difficult, now that the cat owners can’t get away with certain things as easily as before?
From training stage to call center operations like average handling times, from dealing with irate agents to office affairs, from night shift issues to absenteeism, from demotivation among agents to call center gimiks, from call center angsts to managers’ bad habits, this comics seems to have covered the most important concerns of call center employees today.
Written with wry wit, Callwork presents us with the inside jokes in the call center industry, helping us understand better the culture that is helping drive the Philippine’s economy forward. So help us, despite all that you will read here, this culture has a major role in whether we sink further in the muck, or rise like the Philippine eagle.
The drawings are as if done by a high school girl, but better composed, and are inspired by real people and situations from the cartoonist’s years in the industry. The childish drawings actually highlight the workplace environment the management of many call centers is said to practice: acting like petty tyrants, treating agents as if they were unruly kids instead of the professionals that they are (or should be). In fairness, sobrang pinakita din ang mga kalokohan ng mga agents (agents’ foibles and fumbles are also spotlighted).
Though not an agent, I am in the BPO industry, and can relate to that life. I have encountered many of these issues, told to me over cups of coffee, or tears of frustration triggered by bottles of SanMig Light. Though not an agent, I am as easily vulnerable to the fact that, as an employee, I am just a cog in a machine, easily replaced, easily lost. And this is why I appreciate this work, on top of the obvious appeal, the ka-kwelahan (riotous humor) and light reading material.
Where indifference is the status quo and where connections or office politics allow rusty cogs to remain, silence is often the slow-acting acid eventually killing the machine. Loud and funny, Callwork is a fast-acting neutralizer. Who knows, seeing ourselves cartoonized, pretensions stripped, true lines revealed, could wake us up into looking into the mirror, to see someone who can still make a difference, by treating our jobs like the blessing that they are, deserving our full commitment, not derision.
I believe that we can only succeed to put ourselves down if we only have contempt for what we do. Do something to make our job life better—or get the hell out, is what I think.
English translations can be found on the author’s blogsite.
Haven’t heard of Hunger Games? Go to the nearest bookstore, then, to get your own Torture Channel, desensitization at its finest! When you’ve had your fill, remember the four notes of birdsong to find your way back home.
Testing, testing.… Good day, good viewers. We are now at the home of Art Seblis, a reader of no uncommon hunger for all things dark and creepy. Having heard that Art was in the middle of an unusually horrifying read, the Read (pronounced as ‘red’) Patrol decided to sneak up on the book blogger to give you a first-hand account of what may be the ‘read of the year, if not the decade.’
The Read Patrol reporter startles a very disheveled Art Seblis, who can be seen clutching a hard bound book; on the cover is an image of a fierce looking bird and an arrow.
RP: So Art, it’s The Hunger Games now, is it? Can you tell us about it? What made you read it? I hear it’s very YA, which is a little off the kinds of books you usually read.
AS: I was reluctant, initially—largely due to the story itself. But friends highly recommended it. So I gave it a try. Now, I can’t think of a universe in which I had never read it. Having read something with such powerful characters and message, one can’t help but be changed, despite my preferences for other genres.
RP: Wow, what a tribute. What is it about, anyway?
AS: It follows the story of Katniss, a 16-year old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of a dystopian world. Every year, 12 districts send a couple of their children ages 12 to 18 (chosen by lottery) to participate in the Hunger Games, a contest where they are placed in unfamiliar terrain and are expected to murder each other. Last child standing wins fame, riches, and the Capitol’s all-out- favor… The other to be chosen from Kat’s district is Peeta, a baker’s son.
RP: Oh my goodness, that’s horrible!
AS: It’s something like Battle Royale, but bloodier and more horrific, because society actively takes part in this ultimate cruelty to their children in the name of entertainment. I hesitate to use the term “innocents” to refer to the participants: in a game where the rule is “to kill or be killed,” they had to learn to suppress finer emotions, such as love and compassion, the attributes of a good human being, for a better chance of surviving the Game. Torture, mutilation, decapitation, bombing, poisoning, skinning, and a host of other kill methods are acceptable and encouraged. In that sense, they aren’t children anymore.
RP:*gasp* How can you enjoy a book like that?
AS: Ah, well, don’t you rage against the machine sometimes? This book is full of that particular angst, with just cause. But as much as it is full of brutality and other disturbing themes, it is also characterized by brilliant bouts of heroism, self sacrifice, and friendship. That Kat and Peeta (and a few other characters) managed all these was most impressive, given that they had been taught to trust no one in order to win. It was Kat’s 12-year old sister whose name was drawn in the lottery, but Kat refused to let her go, stepping up to go in her place. Between Kat and Peeta there developed a partnership, even affection. In the arena itself, amid the ugliest in humanity survived a flame of humanity, fragile but strong enough to flip the finger at the government’s grand plan to keep hope dead.
RP: *perking up* Hope, that’s a promising word.
AS: Yep, hope is such a crucial element in this story, without which the story degenerates into a royal rumble. Hunger, fear of it, motivates all of them; all of us, actually. It can either break you or remake you. I know something about this, but that’s another story altogether. Anyway, I’m glad to report that hunger did not break Kat nor diminish her; instead it made her stronger and wiser, making this book such an interesting read.
RP: Our viewers are certainly going to check this book out based on your intriguing comments. Is it safe to assume that this book is highly recommended by you?
AS: God, yes. I was in a state in a shock upon finishing it! Others I know who read it said they were also strongly affected. The writing is extremely good, brilliant but sharply disciplined. The plotting was tight, the pace kept me at the edge of my seat. All the scenes were fraught with danger, even makeup and styling (in the preparatory stage of the game, where the players are presented so the public could place bets on them) as every detail is integral to improving Kat and Peeta’s chances at surviving the Games. It’s got romance, fiendish intrigue, and insights into the human character. And the characters are so dynamic! Rarely do I become so invested in characters that, even hating what was happening to them and what they had to do, I stuck with them till the end and will definitely follow up through the sequel, Catching Fire.
… Another thing, the world of the Hunger Games may be make-believe, but I believe it mirrors our own. Who’s the next bachelorette whose heart will be broken? The tribe member who will be voted out of Survivor? The housemate whose dirty laundry will be aired next with Big Brother’s blessing? It really is not such a big step from here to the world of the Hunger Games.
RP: How ominous. But, we’re running out of time. Do you wish to add anything more?
AS: Yes. If you had to make a choice between two evils, what will you choose? Will you choose? Kat and the others faced this dilemma again and again. I wonder how we will fare given similar circumstances.
RP: That wraps it up! So, dear viewers, there you have it, the words straight from the mouth of Art Seblis about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Honestly, it sounds like an all-you-can-watch-violence reality TV show. Who would get a thrill from seeing people get tortured?
Moving on, our next segment is very funny. Enjoy this clip.
With a mischievous dark elf around, how can he expect her to find the garderobe, much less use it?
Before there was the Fever series, there was the Highlander’s. A fun, light read, The Highlander’s Touch is part of a time travel romance series by Karen Marie Moning. In this book, fiercely independent but down-on-her-luck Lisa got caught up by a curse placed on a magical flask. Having fallen into 14th-century Scotland, in the castle of a forbidding warrior, she must learn to trust her captor as well as navigate a highly feudal and tumultuous time, while trying to figure out the finer points of using a chamber pot.
In tone, and, definitely, in emphasis, this one is very different from the darkness and violence of the urban fantasy that was my introduction to Moning. Though it does contain the same Celtic, Irish, and British mythological references that I encountered in Fever, minus much of the peril.
Because I had really liked Fever, I figured that her Highlander books wouldn’t be bad. Well, this book doesn’t have the tight pacing of Fever, but it’s got humor, and a bed scene that didn’t offend my sensibilities that much, not because it wasn’t explicit (It was! It was! ), but because the events leading up to that moment were carefully orchestrated so that when it did happen I didn’t feel that the heroine gave in out of the publisher’s demand for smut but as a natural choice influenced by events and emotions in the book.
I love her gown, though. Bright yellow, empire waist, elegant lines…
Jane Austen must have spoiled me for other romances. Because when I read other romances, I usually end up disappointed. They say hi, then rip at each other’s clothes on page 7; or she is all sensible and smart initially, but a fool for a kiss on page 5. Where is the build up, the suspense, the integrity if all declarations of principles or virtue or determination are thrown out the window at the drop of a hat? Yet, I still read romances every now and then, to escape, to breathe, to wallow in fluff, hoping for a good read, if not an unforgettable romance.
Starting out fun, And Then He Kissed Her was a good, funny read –until about three fourths into the book, where the plot degenerated into formula, meaning the heroine suddenly turned into another person, who conveniently could sleep with the guy despite supposedly possessing a strict of set of values and principles that forbids becoming a man’s mistress. A woman of the 1890s, Emmaline Dove takes her reputation seriously. With heart set on becoming a writer of manners and etiquette, she stuck with her job, secretary to Lord Marlowe, publisher and determined bachelor, for five years. Thinking he was her best chance of making her dream come true, she bit her tongue, bought present for her boss’s amours, and assumed a bland front against the man’s womanizing.
She almost had him fooled—until he had the gall to reject her manuscript without even bothering to read it through, and he saw how interesting Miss Emma actually was.
Well, what followed is his pursuit of her, and her fall from grace (in my book), bur not because she gave in, but because she gave in to the oldest line in man-will-do/say-anything to get woman-to-sleep-with-him-history, “sleep with me or you’re not a true woman.”
I don’t mind some bodice ripping in my stories, but I do like it if the woman keeps her integrity in the process.