OF THIS AND SUCH. This was the title of my father's column in the Philippine News, the San Francisco-based newspaper for Filipinos and Filipino Americans that arrayed itself against Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos's regime from 1965 on.
Of this and such. This phrase was a commonplace of my childhood . . . a phrase that signaled my father's ambition to be a writer. Ironic because the phrase's off-handed casualness was in inverse proportion to the intensity of my father's desire to be famous. He wanted to be W. Somerset Maugham. Guy de Maupassant. He wanted the name Martin Avila Gotera to stand alongside Maugham and de Maupassant — names that came up readily when Papa would talk of fiction.
When I wrote a book review column for the Cedar Falls Times some years ago, I named that column "Of Books and Such" in tribute to my father. In tribute to his writerly ambitions. His hunger for fame.
And now I use the phrase "of this and such" again. But only (at least this time) in its customary sense: pertaining to miscellany, to a collection of interesting facts, an assemblage of notions.
For example, I may want to tell you of this and such: that the photograph in the blog logo shows my Ibanez EDA900 Ergodyne bass guitar. A bass finished in metallic navy blue, its sunburst shading to black at the edges. That my fingers are shaping a dominant seventh chord — A7, to be precise — though typically one doesn't play chords on a bass guitar. That this photo was taken with the stock webcam in our family Macintosh, using Photo Booth software. That I used the "thermal camera" setting, hence the false-color look . . . no photoshopping involved. And so on.
Although I am using "of this and such" in its more prosaic context, I want to tell you, Papa, that I do not use your phrase lightly. I honor your seriousness as a writer and artist. I am ever grateful for your example. For my years of watching you strive for immortality. Seeing how devoted you were to the written word. A devotion that lives now in me. And I thank you. Not just for life but for bequeathing to me such serious purpose. Every time I set down words in a line, stringing them together in scintillant constellation, I commemorate you . . . our hands dancing across the keys like disciples to a glorious spirit. Amen.
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I write poems and stories. Also the occasional creative nonfiction. And I edit the North American Review, the longest-lived literary magazine in the US. I am a Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where I teach creative writing and literature.
I play bass guitar and lead guitar; I also love to bang on the drums! And if you couldn't already tell from the color scheme around here, my favorite color is blue, in all its dynamic shades and flavors: cobalt, electric, royal, robin's-egg, navy, cerulean, teal, indigo, sky.