163 Humble Pie

September 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lying is the biggest sin you can commit in a kitchen. Working with someone who lies to you is worse than working with someone who can’t cook.

Gordon Ramsay is rude loud manic. He has a tyrannical, almost demoniacal, way of running his kitchen. That’s from what I’ve seen of him over the many seasons of Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef. Of which I am an avid fan.

But I don’t think Gordon Ramsay is a bully. He gets overexcited easily and tells his cooks to fuck off for their mistakes, stupid mistakes, costly mistakes. Here’s why: because they’re being fat sloppy donkeys and he can’t stand fat sloppy donkeys. Let’s face it: who can?

“Humble Pie” offers no justification but mere context to why Gordon Ramsay advocates tough love in pursuit of excellence and perfection. And to why he’s almost obsessed with getting stars, the ones that come from the Michelin Guide in particular.

162 Teacher Man

September 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is where teacher turns serious and asks the Big Question: What is education, anyway? What are we doing in this school? You can say we’re trying to graduate so that you can go to college and prepare for a career. But, fellow students, it’s more than that. I’ve had more than that. I’ve had to ask myself what the hell I’m doing in the classroom. I’ve worked out an equation for myself. On the left side of the blackboard I print capital F, on the right side another capital F. I draw an arrow from left to right from FEAR to FREEDOM.

I don’t think anyone achieves complete freedom, but what I am trying to do with you is drive fear into a corner.

I come from a long line of teachers—from my mother to sister and brother, nephew and nieces, aunts, and cousins. I thought I’d be teaching too after I left the seminary.

I took on odd jobs but never teaching. I don’t think I’d have survived the classroom anyway. I don’t have Frank McCourt’s stomach for his students’ impertinence indifference rudeness. I don’t have his wit patience eloquence for explaining concepts and ideas to impressionable minds. And I don’t have the maturity and sensibility for imparting lessons and values that will shape young minds into smart and responsible adults.

Every one should give McCourt’s “Teacher Man” a go. Its gentle prose has that subtle force to not merely change but even bring in new perspectives. Students will probably recognize newfound respect and appreciation for their teachers. For those of us who are done with school, we’ll remember our teachers and then feel embarrassed for all the drama we caused to get their attention and secure passing marks.

161 Without Feathers

August 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

If I were into printing t-shirts, I would easily create a line featuring Woody Allen. His “Without Feathers” alone is already a treasure trove of outrageous quips that would make for catchy ridiculous funny prints.

Here’s some:

It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

If there is a life after death and we all wind up in the same place—don’t call me, I’ll call you.

The wicked at heart probably know something.

In perpetuating a revolution, there are two requirements: someone or something to revolt against and someone to actually show up and do the revolting.

There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?

If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss Bank.

160 To Know A Woman

August 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

“To Know A Woman” is an asylum. Amos Oz peoples it with the most peculiar of inmates. From Yoel to Netta to Ivria to the Vermont Siblings to the Agent to Adobe.

Yoel by far is the most curious character I’ve encountered in the world of fiction. Granted he is what he is because of what he does. Still it amuses me that there’s one out there who does this:

It was a tender evening. From a window of one of the other houses he heard a woman saying, “So what; tomorrow is another day.” Yoel checked this sentence in his mind and found no error in it.

Oz also offers eccentric insights: “[T]here was only one thing worse than the use of violence, and that was submission to violence.” And this: “[T]here’s three serious things missing with you: A. desire, B. joy, and C. pity. If you ask me, Captain, those three things come together in a package.”


Postscript: Oz uses a Filipino woman, a graduate of American University in Beirut, as Yoel’s link to a notorious terrorist.

159 Under the Tuscan Sun

August 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Tuscans are of this time; they simply have had the good instinct to bring the past along with them. If our culture says burn your bridges behind you—and it does—theirs says cross and recross.”

Food. Wine. Stories. History. Art. Culture. And, above all these, space; vast green rustic space. What’s not to love about Tuscany?

From the first moment I set foot in Manila I’ve been wanting to get out of it. I’ve been dreaming of buying a farm in the province where I can have peace and quiet. I don’t yet know when it’s going to happen, or where, but I’m determined to make it happen. If the contemplative monks in Bukidnon will have me, I’d be more than happy to join them; then I won’t have to talk to any other human being anymore. I just can’t grow old in Manila; it’s no place for old people.

Like Frances Mayes, I dream of my own geriatric years “Under the Tuscan Sun”.

158 Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder

August 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

“When people hate with all that energy, it is something in themselves they are hating.”

Rise of Ryder. Fall of Flyte. What one has to do with the other, I’ve no idea, other than that Charles shagged Julia, and maybe Sebastian too. Or did he use Julia as a mere backdoor to Sebastian?

But of course “Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder” is so much more than Ryder and the Flytes. Evelyn Waugh burrows deep into alcoholism, the dynamics of a dysfunctional family, and the Catholic Faith.

157 Pride and Prejudice

August 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

I wonder what a bitchfight between Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde would be like. Wilde of course is widely known for his outrageous witticisms. I didn’t know Austen can be just as witchy and crafty.

Consider these from her “Pride and Prejudice”:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.”

“Society has claims on us all; and I profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amusement as desirable for everybody.”

“Without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.”

“One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.”

“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”


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