Saturday, 30 December 2006

Happy New Year To All

His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and The Nashman - citizens of the world, old-school dawgs, and intrepid travelers, wish everyone a very Happy New Year.

May all who love the good, the just, and the beautiful live long and prosper.

We look forward to more exciting adventures this year.

Bring it on.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Shite Happens

Just when I thought that I'd leave 2006 with a clean bill of health, I suddenly fall ill. I've been nursing a fever for the past two days. My butt has been stuck to bed like the congressmen leeches to their pork barrel.

I feel like the poor dork who got his pinkie finger clipped by a machine just 3 days before the plant was due to break the "This plant has been accident free for 1000 days blah blah.." record. People who work in the semiconductor industry can relate to this. Instead of feeling sorry for the bloke who lost one finger, he gets reprimanded for derailing another middle management ISO gimmick. Yet, rightfully so, for being stupid and careless. (Semiconductor machines are actually highly automated and idiot-proof. It's always a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes how people get injured by these machines.)

I'm all alone so no other human is going to take care of me while I recuperate. Thankfully, I have the ever-reliable PA/PR Gromit who is truly indispensable in the Orange household.

HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit prepare brunch of spinach and ricotta quiche and fresh coffee. They're such angels.

For dinner PA/PR Gromit and HRO Karl Willem made pizza and soup.

PA/PR Gromit made risotto and wild mushroom soup and jazzed up an of-the-shelf pizza with mozzarella, tomatoes, tabasco, and spices.

The Beeb has made another adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. I have eagerly awaited this retelling the way Kate Moss looks forward to the arrival of a new shipment of white fairy dust from Colombia . As everyone knows by now, I'm a card-carrying vampire lover. My most recent attempt to meet one at the Pere Lachaise cemetery ended in a farce and my solitary walk inside the dreaded Parisian catacombs was very disappointing. Sadly, winter solstice has ended and the days are getting longer again. Fortunately, the library lent me a master key to our underground archives. Before I got sick, I've been looking at 16th-18th century books and manuscripts hoping to unearth more creepy information about the vampire myth. (More on this later.)

BBC1's Dracula adapted by Stewart Harcourt with Marc Warren as the Count.

HRO Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and The Nashman watch the new Dracula Film. The best part is that we're all alone. Come and get us Mina Harker. Phhwoar!

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Christmas Day

The only time of the year that I can shamelessly eat chocolate pudding. It's Belgian due to the Audrey Hepburn craving I've been having.

Oy Vey! I woke up late again on Christmas day and proceeded to watch tv all day and stuff myself. I will have to stop soon or else I'll gain half an inch on my waistline which is enough reason to be ostracized in today's vain society. For now, there are 11 more days of Christmas and I will do nothing but eat sleep eat sleep.

The only good thing about not being in Baguio this time of the year is that I don't have to worry about the little gremlins of godchildren tugging on my heartstrings with their carefully choreographed song-and-dance routine before I hand out my Christmas Aguinaldo (gifts). Often, I secretly wish I were a REAL mafioso godfather and when the little godchild misses a step or a note during his/her performance that I could just snap my finger and have the poor little thing banished to the dungeon. Howa coulda you do theeez to mee. I'm your godfather. Howa coulda you missa a steppa in the boom tararat dance?

Having godchildren visit you at Christmas is not a simple undertaking. Sure you know who is ACTUALLY your godchild but more often than not, your godchild HAS OTHER siblings. Other siblings that will be scarred for life and turn out to be serial killers if you ignore them as you hand out your gift just to the ONE godchild whose baptismal certificate has your name on it. The others will look at you with the Eyes of Chucky asking What about us? (You simply cannot say Tse, asa ka pa. Hindi kita inaanaak noh!). And so you open your wallet and give some extra monetary gifts to these other siblings, making sure you give double the monetary amount to your actual godchild allowing the others to feel less loved and inadequate (as they should really be from you). It doesn't end there. You then pick up a 50-peso note and stuff it to their mother's mouth saying, Kumare, and landi mo. Laylay na pekpek mo buntis ka pa rin ng buntis. Heto, bumili ka naman ng condom at yung magiging bunso hanapan mo ng mayaman na ninong.

The TV marathon began with The Simpson's (classics!), Babe (a movie about talking food), Harry Potter 1 (yey! they look so young and innocent) and ended with Ricky Gervais' stand-up show.

Continuing on The Nashman's sleep studies, today I slept a ridiculous 10.5 hours straight as seen from this time-lapse video. Shocking, really.

Monday, 25 December 2006

Nativity Eve

The Nashman's first love Audrey Hepburn in a nun's habit. Oh so wrong.

Apart from Trappist beer, French fries, and chocolates, Audrey Hepburn is one of Belgium's most important contributions to the world. (Well, maybe I'm biased because I've been educated by rotund Belgian priests for most of my life but then again look at how pretty Audrey is.) HRO Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and The Nashman delayed cooking dinner even with their famished stomachs just to watch her as a nun/nurse sent to the Belgian Congo in the film The Nun's Story. There is this funny scene where she is asked by one of the Congolese why the nuns aren't married and Audrey says her husband is in Heaven and that in fact all of the nuns are 'married' to this one man in heaven. I almost forgot that this was a movie and nearly cursed to the high heavens "Why? Oh Why? You're already the Son of God! You can have anything, everything! Dude, that's so not fair. I'm going to tell your Father! Be generous oh dear Lord and let us have our Audrey back!" Indeed, thank God this was just a movie. Also, I'm grateful the Belgians only sent missionary priests (even if they were twats sometimes) to my beloved Cordilleras. The Belgian Congo was one of the most brutally managed colonies in history. Hmm, maybe that's why they made Smurfs and The Dog of Flanders to atone for their sins.

PA/PR Gromit knows the secret to good pasta bolognese is in the slow sauteeing of the minced beef with garlic and onions.

Anywho, for Christmas Eve dinner, the dawgs and I cooked pasta bolognese (from scratch and not instant sauce you kitchen Philistines! Well ok, the sun-dried tomatoes came from a bottle.) We also had an herb salad with feta and cherry tomatoes with HRO Karl Willem's favourite mustard-balsamic dressing. (Secret recipe.)

At 11:30pm The Nashman went to the University Church to listen to some carols and actually stayed for Midnight service. This is of course an Anglican church but The Nashman can't be bothered walking to the dark and depressing neo-gothic Catholic church 3 thousand miles away. I'm not overly fussy which Christian church to visit (well, I wouldn't go to a fundamentalist/extremist Christian church that's for sure.) Anyways, I complimented the Rt. Reverend for the excellent choice of wine (sweet and fruity) during communion although they were a bit stingy as the sacristan only gave me half a gulp. I was a bit disappointed that Rowan Atkinson didn't do the Gospel reading this time. (He did it last year.) Incidentally, the Virgin Birth is also beautifully described in the Qur'an (Sura 3).

The University Church. Conveniently, just a stone's throw away.

I got home and it was already Christmas. There was nothing else on television so I just caught up with my graphic novel reading. Presenting, another time lapse video of the lazy Nashman in bed. I would have stayed in bed the whole day but darn radio alarm clock started playing Abba songs. Eww...

Sunday, 24 December 2006

The night before the night before Christmas

Silent Night by Banksy

So, it's Christmas Eve and I'm here all alone. Called my folks who will be hosting Christmas lunch at their fashionable home in the slums of Baguio.

The slew of mushy/traditional/musical/Christmassy movies began on Christmas Eve Eve. I intend to watch no less than 20 of these movies for the next two days.

Oh, another time-lapse footage of The Nashman sleeping. Shock Horror! Is that me sucking on my thumb somewhere around 3am?

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Merry Christmas

I'm going to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas alone apart from the occasional eating frenzy. I'm a bit sad to be far away from the honey-glazed jamon, queso de bola, macaroni salad, inihaw, kilawen, dinakdakan, and instant orange juice made with bottled water that is the staple of Pinoy Xmases but as always, I'm just happy to be alive. That's more than enough reason to be in a celebratory mood.

Today, I ceremoniously suspended my academic work at 4pm which is 12am Christmas Eve Baguio time. Went to the grocers to get some things to cook that will last me during the coming two days that my energy consumption will be at a surplus.

As far as Christmas decorations are concerned, Julia got me these two red robed figures from Munich and they will keep me company as I hibernate. (Technically, not accurate as I will be stuffing myself with the leftovers in my cupboard.)

And to cheer me up, Hilary lent me this semi-environmentally friendly glowing Christmas tree. It plugs into the USB slot and changes colour! Hours of endless entertainment!

I must remember to unplug it when I turn hyperglycemic. Even with just a few minutes staring at this tree, I feel as if I've OD'd on hallucinogenics.

Friday, 22 December 2006

It's a white Christmas after all

HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit survey the thick freezing fog.

I love the weather. Apparently, the current anticyclone is just a couple of millibars under the 1902 record. The fog has blanketed most of Anglia for three days now and is expected to stay till next week. My balls are freezing but it's better than rain. Most of all, I'm reminded of the Baguio of yore.

The white, crisp mornings. Hmm, I kinda wish I'd see some ghosts. It's certainly good weather for a haunting. This has been my biggest disappointment since coming to England. I've stalked graveyards, supposedly haunted mansions, etc., etc. and yet no spooky apparitions. (Well, Christmas isn't usually associated with ghost sightings.) I'm all alone in a 16th century estate gaddamit! Where are the ghosts!

Of course, not everyone is happy with the fog. Thousands are stranded in the airports and are unlikely to get home by Christmas. Driving is slow as visibility is only 4 metres and trains are packed. My colleague's sister decided to just drive all the way to Switzerland as domestic and continental flights have been canceled. As for me, I've been bitten by the lazy bug and had KFC (ewwww) for lunch. Also got some DVDs for the cuddling in bed in front of the TV marathon.

Lilibeth's Christmas message is going to be podcast for the first time, yo.

It's midnight, where are them ghosts???

I love these night walks.

It's so quiet. Very Jack The Ripper.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Season's Greetings From Us Dawgs

Yes, it's that time of the year again.......

His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, The Nashman, and the countless other unnamed serfs in The Orange Household wish you all Season's Greetings! (Be it Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanzaa.)

HRO Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and The Nashman thank everyone for visiting our humble blogdiary. As The Nashman's £50/hour 'friend' in Amsterdam always says after every visit - "How was it for you? I hope it was good and you got your money's worth, and more."

So, as we welcome another New Year....

We wish everyone greater success, prosperity, peace, love, and happiness not just for the coming year, but till they walk the face of this earth.


Anyways, today it was really foggy. Flights have been canceled Europe-wide, Heathrow Airport is at a standstill. HRO Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and The Nashman just chillaxed and had a long coffee afternoon. While the rest of the materialistic world was stressed with last minute shopping, we were happily ensconced inside the bookshop happily watching the girls go by.

This is our favourite table. It's always reserved for us. There's a signed picture of Bill Clinton just next to that lamp. Soon, we will also donate one of our autographed mugshots.

Finally, people have been asking who takes some of the photos on this blog. Since it's the end of the year and I'm feeling a little bit charitable, I want to acknowledge one of our minimum-wagers such as the photo-fairy.

I honestly don't remember her name as I don't fraternize with the staff but I picked her up at the Franco-Anglo border crossing in Calais. I was casually waiting to pass through British Immigration when this girl, who is from a failed Eastern bloc country as seen from her polyester blend jacket, tugged on the cottails of my bespoke Brioni suit. " visa?" she said.

I didn't need a wife but I figured she was more suited as our personal photographer who would be relied upon to risk life and limb to document HRO Karl Willem, PA/PR Gromit, and The Nashman in their many adventures.

Let me clarify however that we are not exploiting cheap labour. She's paid twice the minimum wage. (Thrice, actually if you use the minimum wage of North Korea.) We also let her gain some extra money by allowing her to busk and play her guitar at the market. She must be a very good musician because sometimes she comes home at dawn with lots of money with the smell of cheap aftershave. I also think she's dating some Member of Parliament. If I honestly think she's ready to face the world and stand on her own, maybe I will let her have her passport back and let her go.

To her credit, she had a very fast learning curve with digital photography. It's her darkroom techniques that need lots of careful instruction......

Sorry we couldn't come. The Tardis is under repair.

Finally, apologies to our loyal followers in our beloved Las Islas Filipinas. Early this year we promised to come home to Baguio and visit the beaches. Sadly, after a review of the existing travel advisories, our security advisers thought it would not be a safe time for HRO Karl Willem and The Nashman to visit. Also, we heard that the convention centre we were supposed to visit in Cebu is made of cardboard and shoddily constructed. Our evil hobbit president was right in canceling the ASEAN summit as we don't want other despotic banana republic autocrats getting drenched from the leaking roof.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Rudolph roasting on an open fire......

I still don't know what to cook for my simple Christmas Eve dinner. Looking around at the market I see some nice partridges which I think would be good wrapped in bacon before slowly roasting in the oven. I'm also thinking of doing pochero if I can find good game at the Thursday farmers' market. I could also be despicably lazy and order take out but that ain't right for Christmas. I should at least make an effort.

I'm not sending out cards, cutting up a pine tree, or buying anything unnecessary this Christmas. I'm into the post-materialistic anti-consumerism minimalist Zen now. (Food is an altogether different matter. Only the best will do for the tapeworms in my belly.)

Yet, I still don't mind getting some gifts from you, you selfish bastards.

A large boar is a lot for me to eat......

It looks like my circumcision. Is that pork kosher or what?

I'm skipping the rabbit, geese, and turkey.

That carp is humongous! Lobster would be a tad too luxurious. Besides, there is one big lobster at the zoology department which I'm thinking of stealing.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

I'm going to spend my Christmas alone.

Well, what do you know, it's nearly Christmas.

It's nearly the end of the year! Hmm, looking back, I wonder if this was a productive year for me or another annus horribilis. Far be it for me to be so self-assured about my (lack of) accomplishments this past year, I leave this assessment to my colleagues, my folks, and my friends, and perhaps those people (you, yes the 9! of you) who think my photoblog is worth their time.

To kickstart the winter holiday season The Nashman has been attending shindigs not just to eat but to catch up with old friends, forgive enemies, and make up with those who went astray.

Thursday was research group dinner at a French restaurant. My camera skills that night were non-existent as these pictures out of focus...

I had a starter of mussels in garlic! I tried to block the thought that they kinda look like Britney Spears' clits, as plastered all over the internet two weeks ago when she went commando. (In fairness to her, her snatch looks much better than Paris Hilton's.)

I had lamb for the main course. It was very good except that....

Where on earth is the bone marrow!!!!!! It's supposed to be the best part! I think the only explanation for this is there must be another Filipino in the kitchen who got to the good bits first.

Dessert of panna cotta...

Friday involved departmental drinks that started at 3:30pm which was very early for me for anything alcoholic yet I quickly downed two glasses of champagne. I wasn't drunk but I inexplicably tied the end of the string of a helium balloon to a braid of my locks and walked around campus with it. It was my impression of 'thinking aloud'...geddit?

For dinner it was off to my departmental dinner which was always grand.

The best table is always where I'm seated.

My starter was Bambi - venison terrine.

And for the main I got a luscious rare sirloin of beef.

And my dessert was Christmas pudding.

On Saturday, I skipped breakfast and lunch entirely but Alexandra dragged me for a very early Thai dinner at 6pm! This was followed with ice cream at the usual place.

Mine: Turkish delight.

Alexandra's: Raspberry.

On Sunday, I worked till late afternoon before going to Blackwell's for coffee. I got this book 'written' by the alcoholic family dog in Family Guy entitled: Brian Griffin's Guide: to Booze, Broads, and The Lost Art of Being a Man. I think Family Guy is one of those great animated sitcoms on the same level as The Simpsons and South Park. I like the fact that it's edgy and isn't infected with political correctness.

There are a lot of Filipino jokes in Family Guy. I remember one episode where one of the characters thought he'd shagged 5 lovely 'Filipinas' in Manila who later turn out to be 'laydee boys'. Another dog in this sitcom is Brian's friend , the gay mongrel Jasper, who is a brown ricer and has a Filipino boyfriend named Ricardo.

Ashley, it's not you as although you ain't hairy, you ain't pretty.

The mandatory legal stuff....

Being Scottish, I always assumed that Helen was Catholic. Entering the church and not seeing a grotesque crucifix, I realised that she is not your stereotypical lassie. An Anglican in Scotland? Surely not! But she is. She invited me for Carols by Candlelight service which was really good and finally really put me in the festive spirit. The choir was backed by a full orchestra. I didn't know some of the carols and I felt like Mr. Bean, in one of those classic episodes where he enters the wrong church and pretends he knows the songs with disastrous effects.

The church was packed and the priest started his short sermon with not one, not two, but three nativity jokes!

After the service, there were lots of minced pies and traditional mulled wine! I don't go to church much but I think my own Catholic church hardly even serves refreshments after mass. In fact, after the last Catholic service I got dragged into, which was in Stockholm a couple of months ago, you had to pay! 10 kronor for the end of mass refreshments. We can't possibly be that poor a church! Or maybe we are still paying for all that marble and artwork the bad popes commissioned.