Shooting pictures

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I don’t like love stories. People who engage in public displays of affection turn me off. Each time I see one, I look elsewhere but in the direction of the amorous pair. Yes, much like one looks at a pile of stones at a Japanese sand garden and really, I don’t get it. They’re just rocks.

Some of the people I know take care to project themselves as learned individuals, like some hotshot library nut whose interests span from the seat of their pants to the edge of the universe. Me, I apparently come off dull and quite a few tell me I am shallow. And it’s so true.

In college, the scholarly were the friends who went on to law school or the college of medicine or engineering. I was confused. So, I actually took units in algebra and trigonometry with horrific results. I gave up after analytic geometry. No sense learning calculus and those variables in Greek letters. Anyhow, the Greek letter-lovers in class were some of the most violent forms of humans I know who eventually earned degrees in marine engineering and seamanship and now have two- or three-car garages with a fat checkbook to show for it.

But I always wanted to do something with my hands and became friends with my father’s tenant who comes to the house once or twice a year with sacks full of grain that sustain us for a few months before I was sent to market again to buy rice by the kilo like everyone else.

The guy does radio and TV repairs in the hiatus the grains turn from green to gold and so I learned the craft as well. I can still read schematics and compute for the resistance needed in a circuit so that audio comes out smooth, something I learned from high school vocational classes although our instructor, as talented as he was in electronics, would tell us first thing in the morning to go “Get the brooms and brooms the floor!”

But lord help me. Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, fast forward to Nadine Lustre and this boy James Reid — they leave me stumped. I would get as much romantic boost as a cat delivering a hopeful meow from our neighbor’s rooftop at full moon and being chased off it by an irate mistress of the house horrified by the thought of a gutter full of cat litter. My movies as a boy were all about Sinbad the Sailor, then progressed to all the westerns Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson would make together and much later most of the kung fu movies that I initially hated but eventually learned to respect. I would not be in any movie house in the 1980s as the kids were growing up, but picked it up again briefly when the stars of Bagets were all the rage and I was sitting there in this madhouse of a theater with a gum in my left armpit, ankle deep in pretzel and popcorn litter and wishing all that sashaying and clowning around would turn into gunfights at high noon. Haven’t been to a movie house for years after that except for one about football heroes sponsored by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines at Rockwell. VHS tapes and later Blu-ray disks were so much more convenient, enjoyed for just a fraction of the price of a ticket. And then Netflix happened.

I would miss the giants of the silver screen. Before my cable service provider would change its offering, I sometimes catch a war or western movie or two some nights before turning into bed. It was such a relief watching Tom Hanks play the lovable soldier in that movie some of my friends refer to in levity as “Saving Ryan’s Private.” But mostly, it is Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson or Jackie Chan when I have time. But funny that at one time, coming home from work, I was changing channels when this movie with Meryl Streep was on. Compelling narrative. Imagine choosing between family and love, and all that happened in covered bridges in Iowa. It was Eastwood gone from shooting bad guys to shooting pictures and finding the interest of his life. It was exhausting movie watching while it happened. For a long time after that, I would just watch the news.

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