Monday, December 08, 2008

The Experiment

So there I was, morose with stupor and drunk with boredom, and the chapel beside my house is filled to the rafters with people who were singing the alleluia and dancing the kumbaya. Closed the windows, drawn the curtains, put on the second Northern Portrait EP, and gaaaaaah THEY'RE INSIDE MY HEAD. So in between shovelfuls of ampalaya I was having for lunch, I suddenly came up with an idea. Go shopping! But wait, it was just 11am. Okay, I patiently waited for the Dela Hobo and Pack- now how do you spell his name - punching game to start airing so that half the population takes a break from loitering the streets, joyriding in the public transportation, and perusing the malls' airconditioning. Yaahoooooooo!

Now I picked that place in San Juan cos hey, it's still a mall. Much as I like bacon, I wasn't particularly fond of the idea of my bag, pockets and guts slashed into strips if I went somewhere um... less mall-y. Besides, it's relatively near my place. The contents of my bag:

1. Half-full (or half-empty) pack of Marlboros.
2. Keys.
3. Notebook where I slipped my electric bill, since I was planning on paying it later.
4. Breath mints.
5. A trade copy of Leaves of Grass.
6. A comb.

Practically empty, eh? So I was barely inside the mall when I had had imitation billabong shit waved at my face from all sides. Merry Christmas! Shoes, bags, shoes, bags, shoes. Miss, can I see that green sneaker? 500?! Please don't rip me off, you bad manang you. How about 150? Etc, etc.

Okay. Green is the new black, they say. Next. Oooo wristwatches. When I was a kid, I wanted to wear two on each wrist. Oooo sunglasses. There's always next summer, no? Ooooo nice socks. Ka-ching, ka-ching! And one can never have enough jackets! Wait, my bag is almost full. And I needed to cool off a bit cos I got irate that someone's bag (I hope) hit me in the nuts. So I started for the exit for a smoke and grabbed a hotdog on the way out. Mmmm tasty. Have I had enough? Nah, there's still lots of crap I neither need nor really really want in here. After all, that's the point of shopping, innit?

So a couple of shirts=mandatory. But then I got lost and ended up in front of a Gap. Gasp! The underwears are on sale! I almost shat. How Christmas-y. Owwwww those striped pink boxers should go well with my cellphone. But I couldn't think of an occasion where only underwears and cellphones are required, so I picked the yellow ones instead. Mmmm and a nice shirt.

Okay, less me, more the rest of humanity. I rummaged for my Moleskine in my bag where I listed the stuff my mother and everybody else wanted me to buy. Let's see: pillowcases, size 26 yellow checkered skinny jeans, more boxer shorts for my brother, blablabla, buybuybuy. Gaaah. Just to top it off, I considered scouring the mall for a Santa, sit on his lap, and have my picture taken. But I was tired na, so I ran out and flailed my hands until a cab pulled over.

So there, it was only when I was fumbling for my keys outside my door when I remembered the electric bill. FRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAK. I'll worry about it tomorrow. Hm what to do. I unceremoniously dump the contents of my bag on the table and started sifting through the shit. When I got them all out, I sat back for a few moments and quietly admired the multi-colored plastic bags my spanking new belongings came in, and lovingly folded them for future use (in collaboration with the trash bin). Then I stowed the aforementioned belongings... somewhere. Ah, the joys of shopping. Satisfied for the day, I turn on the telly. Now what am I gonna do next weekend.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Diaspora Oratorio

How long until 2009 again? And this isn't even a finale, it's a mid-season cliffhanger. There will only be four seasons officially, but it will feel like there's five. And that's after the one year break between seasons three and four...

I cannot think of another show on television with a better score. Bear McCreary's compositions in the mid-season cliffhanger "Revelations," especially the haunting choral arrangement, Diaspora Oratorio, is something to remember, especially as it leads to the speech we have been waiting for since the miniseries. I wonder what his plans are for the series finale, no? Bear also makes music for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (which has been renewed for a second season by the way after only nine season one episodes).

What happened to Earth? Who is the fifth Cylon?

My theory is that the final Cylon is currently not with the fleet. This is according to D'Anna herself, who said that four of the final five are in the fleet. As for the fifth, he/she/it was never mentioned, but it could be possible that it is someone we had already met, but is not with the fleet anymore (e.g. Ellen Tigh, Billy Keikaya, but they're both dead, no?).

Emmy's, here comes Battlestar Galactica! I'm rooting for an acting nomination for both Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonell, an Original Score nomination for Bear McCreary and a toss-up between Paul Edwards (4x09 The Hub) and Michael Rymer (4x10 Revelations) for the Directing catergory. Whoooooo!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Long And Painful 7 Months


Excruciating countdown to February 2009.

1. Will the season 5's timeline be grounded in what, up to season 4, are the flash forwards?
2. How will the O6 go back to the island?
3. How/why did Locke/Jeremy Bentham die? Is he really dead or will he manifest a la Christian Shepard, among others?
4. Where and when did the island go after Ben "moved" it?
5. Why can't the "mover" go back to the island?
6. Are Michael and Jin really dead?
7. What happened to Daniel Faraday and the rest of the people in the Zodiac? Were they "moved" along with the island?
8. What happened to Frank Lapidus and Desmond/Penny after they were picked up by the Searcher?
9. What happened to Locke after he became the Others's leader in the island?
10.What did the hieroglyphics written on the walls of the Frozen Wheel room mean?
11.Why did Claire not want Aaron to go back to the island in Kate's dream?
12.Who are the people on Sayid's list and why is he killing them?
13.What happened to the rest of the people on the island when it moved?
14.What were Miles and Charlotte's plans that made them stay on the island?
15.What "bad things" happened in the island after the O6 have left?
16.What is the nature of the four-toed statue?
17.Where did Sayid bring Hurley?
18.If the final two seasons will be set in 2007 and beyond, will it still feature flash forwards?
19.Why are the Dharma Initiative, the Hanso Foundation, the Widmore Corporation and Mittelos Bioscience, as well as Paik Industries, interested in the island?
20.Is there an ancient civilization in the island before the Dharma Initiative, reinforced by Richard Alpert, the hieroglyphics, the Ruins and the Black Rock, among others?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Christopher Doyle Hearts Sigur Rós

I just about barfed in excitement when I opened my inbox this morning. Christopher Doyle shoots the video for Sigur Rós's new single Gobbledigook from their upcoming album, Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust (to be released 23 June). The single is available for download (MP3, 320 kbps) from the official website or Eighteen Seconds Before Sunrise. You can watch the video from the official website as well (need QuickTime plugin).

Interestingly, Gobbledigook sounds very different from usual Sigur Rós fare. The tribal rythms, the pastoral acoustic guitar (which, apparently, the band now likes after Hvarf-Heim), Jónsi's falsetto and Georg, Orri and Kjartan's ethereal music all blend together to create a childlike atmosphere of wonder and innocence. Think Hoppípola with tribal rythms and more percussion than usual.

The video contains adult content, since Ryan McGinley is involved in the production, which automatically means lots of naked people. Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust will be the first Sigur Rós release with a track not written in Icelandic (or sung in Hopelandic). Jónsi singing in English whooooooooooo.

Track list:
1. gobbledigook
2. inní mér syngur vitleysingur
3. góðan daginn
4. við spilum endalaust
5. festival
6. suð í eyrum
7. ára bátur
8. illgresi
9. fljótavík
10. straumnes
11. all alright

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fatso

I can count the number of times I’ve stepped on a weighing scale in my entire life. Not that I’m afraid of what I’d see; it’s just that I didn’t care. I think the last time was in 2001; I was with some friends on a particularly slow night – Vinzz, Nijan, Arjay, Bobby, I think Johan was with us too, I couldn’t remember. We weren’t doing anything and we just thought we’d weigh ourselves to pass the time. What I did remember was how much I weighed: 112 lbs. Quite normal considering my age. Since then, I put on more and more pounds and just kept adding about 5 pounds on my estimated weight each year.

Then last week, I found myself on a weighing scale. Net weight: 146 lbs. Three pounds away from being officially overweight. The other numbers startled me more than the weight though.

  • 2.2% in excess of the (upper bound) normal fat index
  • 4 lbs. in excess of the (upper bound) normal fat mass
  • 0.5 kg/m2 shy of the (upper bound) normal BMI
  • I have high blood pressure; considerably lower than hypertension levels, but no laughing matter either, since it exceeded the supposed to be normal values

I’ll cut down on…something (maybe). I don’t want to die before May 2010, which is when Lost will conclude its sixth and final season.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Q1

January: Throw Me The Statue

Wistful bedroom pop to start the year. It's generally just Scott (the one on the right holding the guitar instead of silly number cards), but I like this photo showing the rest of the band. The single About To Walk is just about the first great thing that happened to me this 2008. Then I heard Lolita. And Yucatan Gold. And The Happiest Man On This Plane. And (or I can just put up the entire tracklist of their album Moonbeams, eh?). Check it out at Secretly Canadian.



Lyrics from About To Walk

Favourite space is a palindrome
Where I tuck in the cannonball
And I never have to share
And where nobody can see
Well, I was just about to walk
Five miles in a day

Shame is always bathed in light
And it always looks the same

Strange nights locked inside
I was waiting for a road ahead

I was lying in my Western bed
Clues and clues dressed in white
Double dreams tend to ?
After all with the evening goes
‘Cause they were only there to break my toes





February: Los Campesinos!

I just love silly boy-girl tweepop. Or anything silly, boy-girl or tweepop or any combination of the three.



Lyrics from Death to Los Campesinos!

You've been broken down I go
(war economy)

father führer, don't be mad at me
peasant child, you're into botany
splitting necks and calling the dichotomy
'BEWARE' the sign on the door suggests -
I'm better off with artificial intelligence

I invented you

(I invented you)
AND I WILL DESTROY YOU.

If you catch me with my hands in the till
I promise, sugar, I wasn't trying to steal
I'm just swimming in copper
to smell and pretend
like a robot!




March: Days

Sweden (Gothenburg especially) is becoming in the 2000s what Glasgow was in the 1990s. The first EP from Days has just been released, and I can't wait for the full album. Go to Fraction Discs.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I want these sweats!


Look at what Beans is wearing! I don't like the color though. I think it'd look good in pink, with The Life Pursuit in uhhhh....black? Certainly not the other way around though. I've never owned anything pink, but this one is a worthy exception. Let's see if it works with other colors: orange: gahhhd; red: no!; black: nyah!; blue: booooring; purple: what am i, a frakking sideshow?; white: wtf?!; grey: i guess it'll work.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How To Be A Pop Kid

K emailed this link from WikiHow, which I thought was something worth annotating.


How To Be A Pop Kid

Pop is a genre that has been around for a very, very long time. Everyone reasonable knows that pop is the best music genre. WHAT? There are other music genres?!

Steps

  1. Start listening to lots of music. Music is the most important part of being a pop kid. You should explore twee, c86, shoegaze, fey pop, anorak, and noise pop. Eh, of course. Fuck me I'm twee
  2. Dress however you want, it's not that important. However, dressing in cardigans, corduroys, anoraks, and band shirts will help other pop kids identify you. I love corduroys.
  3. Wearing badges (also called pins) is also helpful. Pastels badges can be especially useful. A Pastels badge started Talulah Gosh, so who knows what could happen! Hmm, that's an idea, but I'm not doing that yet.
  4. Start a band. What, I can't go solo?
  5. Write a fanzine.
  6. Maintain a LiveJournal way past its expiration date. Multiply in lieu of LJ.
  7. When you enter your thirties be sure to only listen to records that came out in your twenties. (ex: if you are 35 now only listen to stuff from Kindercore, Sarah, etc.).
  8. Have a boyfriend/girlfriend who looks just like you. Not the way you dress (which will certainly be identical) but actually looks like you (i.e. nose, body shape, etc.)
  9. Familiarize yourself with commonly referenced songs. (such as "Throw Aggi Off The Bridge" by Black Tambourine, "Anorak City" by Another Sunny Day, "Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend Is Too Stupid To Know About" by Tullycraft, etc) Listen to the rest of the songs by these bands, too, of course. Tullycraft is yay and other basic Pop 101 bands like Heavenly, Beat Happening and Tiger Trap. My reference is "I Have The Password For Your Shell Account" by Barcelona.
  10. Become hopelessly in love with a particular record label and talk about them dreamily to people who probably do not care or know what your talking about. (a pop kid favorite is Sarah Records). No more Sarah and K Records, B&S have left Jeepster, right now I'm mental about Saddle Creek.
  11. Join the indiepop list and make friends. Facebook gots lots.
  12. Try to persuade countless friends to listen to pop with mixtapes. (or CDs if you're digitally inclined) Be crushed when they don't listen to them. CDs. 150 pop songs all at once. And I do actually get crushed when I ask them about it and I get the "haven't listened to 'em yet" answer.
  13. Remember that stripes never go out of pop style! Yay. Got lotsa stripes. Even horizontal ones. *shiver*
  14. Wear 1 billion buttons on whatever bag you're carrying. When you change bags take your buttons off and apply them to the new one. Repeat.
  15. Make really, really little stickers to advertise whatever it is you are involved with (zine, label, mini-comic)
  16. Have a crush on a boy/girl who doesn't know you exist. Write songs about it.

Tips

  • Being a fan of public transportation is important, trains in particular. LRT line 2
  • Have vague ambitions of moving to Glasgow. (note: if you live in Glasgow, have vague ambitions of moving Somewhere Else... Bristol or Sheffield, maybe?). 1. Glasgow; 2. Gothenburg; 3. Vancouver; 4. Patagonia; 5. Cork
  • Always remember that wherever you are is never as great as where you talk about wanting to be (EX: if you live in the US, Canada is always better; If you live on the East Coast, the West Coast is always better. Good pop cities are Athens and Olympia). Same as above
  • If anyone ever compliments something you're wearing never, ever admit to buying it. Always tell them, "I made it."
  • A lot of your indiepop days might be kind of lonely, so fill them with other hobbies besides zinemaking and band-doing! Examples include trainspotting, shoegazing, knitting, looking at bridges, trying to draw the Sarah Records or K Records logo JUST RIGHT, daydreaming, mixtaping, taking long walks while listening to the Field Mice, and arts and crafts.
  • Buy a duffle coat. Now.

Warnings

  • You might get beat up by skinheads or punks...actually, you might get beat up by EVERYONE. Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
  • Matt Haynes might break your chin
  • It might be near impossible to find popkid friends that aren't Internet Friends From Faraway Places. Not entirely (hello K), but most of them are, and the correspondence is fun.
  • You will probably get made fun of, especially if you are in Britland
  • If you are in Britland, avoid the term "twee", as some people find it offensive
  • Popkids are either completely sexless or complete sex fiends. There is no middle ground. Sexless

Things You'll Need

  • Lots of money to buy records. Or an internet connection, unless records as in vinyl
  • Determination
  • A broken heart and a nice haircut Broken heart, no; nice haircut, maybe.
  • Saropoly

Monday, March 03, 2008

One Tough Editor

Jerrie Abella for University Student Council Chairperson

Running the Philippine Collegian is one thankless job. Aside from the nerve-wracking, pressure-packed pressworks that writers and artists deal with on a weekly basis, its editors are burdened with almost impossible, inhuman expectations. The least that they have to be worried about are the rules of grammar (in both languages), which they are assumed to have firm grasp of. They are required by the job to have extraordinary acuity and keenness in analyzing social, political and cultural events. Equally as important, of course, editors have to have a fully developed creative imagination, not to mention, impeccable taste.

It is undeniably one of the most demanding jobs on campus, where mere mortals fear to tread.

It does not surprise us, therefore, that one of Collegian’s editors – current editor-in-chief, no less – has decided to tread the path of campus politics. He is on familiar ground, for sure. He is vying for one job where his wit and intelligence, superior leadership skills, creative imagination and, well, impeccable taste, can be put to best use.

We are talking, of course, about Jerrie Abella.

As an astute observer of campus politics for many years, Jerrie has acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of its ins and outs. Trained as a news reporter, he has interviewed and conversed with university administrators and professors, instructors and employees, residents and students – stakeholders all in the business of running a student council.

Anyone familiar with how a usual Collegian presswork grinds out knows how tough one must be to be able to go through the entire process with his or her sanity intact. From planning the issue to going through the rigorous editing to the painstaking laying out of the pages, Jerrie has successfully led one of the best Collegian pool of editors, writers and artists in years. This feat is due in no small measure to Jerrie’s leadership.

Make no mistake, too: Jerrie is also an impassioned activist. His heart has always been in the right place – the Collegian’s advocacies are testament to that. During the last school year, Jerrie was among the editors who assiduously fought administration intervention in the paper’s fiscal affairs while coming up with creative ways to deliver the news to the students. The Collegian’s past term and the current one were also most valiant in exposing and criticizing the utter underhandedless with which the UP administration passed the tuition hike. Jerrie’s term has also kept vigil of updates on the whereabouts of missing UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, as well as other disappeared victims of state fascism.

It goes without saying, too, that the Collegian under his term has been most passionate in bringing to the student fore national issues, from demolition of urban poor communities to the national movement to oust the sitting President.

Jerrie has also been actively involved with the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and Solidaridad, the UP System-wide Alliance of Student Publications and Writers’ Organizations – of which he is the Secretary General – organizing national conventions and meetings for skills training, building and sustaining networks for the promotion of campus press freedom and advocacy journalism.

We have to admit, though: Jerrie is biased. But only because he favors seeing social problems from the point-of-view of the majority of poor and dispossessed Filipinos. He is biased for the students, and makes sure that every ink that he pens will reflect its objective interests and aspirations. He is biased for what is true. Yes, as a journalist, he is obliged to be objective and fair, and the pages of the Collegian in many ways reflect that. But more than being an observer, Jerrie is an activist and a student leader. More than being a mere chronicler of events, he is completely engaged in the conflict of our times.

Fortunately for us, he is on our side.

This coming election, we, former Philippine Collegian editors, urge you to vote JERRIE ABELLA, for chairperson of the University Student Council.

Signed:

Jayson DP Fajarda, Editor in Chief, 2004-2005

Ellaine Rose A. Beronio, Editor in Chief, 2002-2003

Kenneth Roland A. Guda, Features Editor, 2000-2001

Lisa Cariño Ito, Associate Editor, 2000-2002

Margaret P. Yarcia, Features Editor, 2006-2007

Katrina Angela R. Macapagal, Associate Editor, 2006-2007

Joan ME Salvador, Associate Editor, 2002-2003

Kendrick T. Bautista, Graphics Editor, 2004-2005

Divina Nova Joy D. Dela Cruz, News Editor, 2003-2005

Rouelle T. Umali, Graphics Editor, 2006-2007

Jeeu Christopher A. Gonzales, Culture Editor, 2006-2007

Wendell M. Gumban, News Editor, 2004-2005

Monday, February 18, 2008

Routine Maintenance

I was doing routine maintenance of my iTunes library this weekend, and by that I mean adding new tracks and removing stuff that by now, I practically despise. I happened to notice some semi-old (not old material but stuff I added quite some time ago) albums and suddenly realised that while I did a countdown of my favourite songs of 2007, I did not pick my favourite albums released that year. It's a nice thing, because it's been a few months since I last listened to any of these. And here they are, about two months too late, my albums of 2007. So right now, I'm a happy little guy singing along to Falling Off Of My Feet Again, My Little Japanese Cigarette Case and Upon Encountering the Crippled Elephant. And I like the weather lately too. Hm.



1. The Lucksmiths - Spring A Leak (B-sides)



2. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible


3. Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position



4. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga



5. Damien Dempsey - To Hell Or Barbados



6. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder



7. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga



8. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala



9. Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature



10. The New Pornographers - Challengers



11. The National - Boxer



12. The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Lists of 2007

2006 was The Year of Doing Nothing. Now, it is The Year of Not Talking. So I listened, watched, read and played instead.

  1. Arcade Fire – Black mirror
  2. Brian Eno – St. Elmo’s fire
  3. Bright Eyes – If the brakeman turns my way
  4. Broken Social Scene – 7/4 shoreline
  5. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The skin of my yellow country teeth
  6. The Cure – Pictures of you
  7. The Cliks – Oh yeah
  8. Cold War Kids – Hang me up to dry
  9. David Ford – Go to hell
  10. Damien Dempsey – Killburn
  11. Damien Rice – The professor
  12. The DecemberistsEli, the barrow boy
  13. Feist – My moon, my man
  14. Her Space Holiday – The doctor and the DJ
  15. if:then:goto – Gentlemen
  16. Iron and Wine – Innocent bones
  17. Isobel Campbell – Amorino
  18. Jason Collett with Paso Mino – Hangover days (featuring Feist)
  19. Jens Lekman – I saw her at the anti-war demonstration
  20. Jose Gonzalez – Killing for love
  21. Josh Rouse – Directions
  22. Joy Division – Atmosphere
  23. Kings of ConvenienceCayman islands
  24. LCD Soundsystem – All my friends
  25. The Lucksmiths – From Macaulay station
  26. The Magnetic Fields – No one will ever love you
  27. Maria Taylor – The ballad of Sean Foley (featuring Conor Oberst)
  28. Metric – Down
  29. Nato and Sarah – Here’s where the story ends
  30. The New Pornographers – Challengers
  31. Northern Room – We’re on fire
  32. Owen – In the morning, before work
  33. Panda Bear – Comfy in Nautica
  34. Paolo Nutini – These streets
  35. Peter Bjorn and John – Young folks
  36. Rilo Kiley – With arms outstretched
  37. The Siddeleys – Falling off of my feet again
  38. Sigur Ros – Milano
  39. The Slip – Children of December
  40. The Smiths – There is a light that never goes out
  41. Sondre Lerche – Stupid memory
  42. Spoon – My little Japanese cigarette case
  43. Teenage Fanclub – Nowhere going
  44. Tegan and Sara – Walking with a ghost
  45. Timo Raisanen – Bollen maste do
  46. The Twilight Sad – That summer, at home, I had become the invisible boy
  47. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Into the great wide open
  48. VHS or Beta – Can’t believe a single word
  49. Yo La Tengo – Beanbag chair
  50. The XYZ Affair - Academics

This is not a list of the best of 2007 – most aren’t even released this year. Narrowing down the songs that defined my year was quite daunting, considering that I had thousands to choose from. I even have to arrange them alphabetically since I really can’t decide which songs I liked more than the others. A year is a long time, playlist creation-wise, and there’s so much good music out there that I don’t even have the time to listen to them all. Like books and DVDs, I find myself archiving music designated as “future listening,” but then of course, I’d by the time I finally have the time, I already have so much new material that I end up forgetting about the previous batch. And while I’m on the subject of movies:

  1. Control (Anton Corbijn)
  2. Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman)
  3. Three Colors: White (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
  4. I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)
  5. Volver (Pedro Almodovar)
  6. Paris Je T’aime (Various)
  7. Southland Tales (Richard Kelly)
  8. Cache (Michael Haneke)
  9. Brick (Rian Johnson)
  10. Inland Empire (David Lynch)
  11. Videodrome (David Cronenberg)
  12. Dogville (Lars von Trier)
  13. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)
  14. Goodbye Lenin (Wolfgang Becker)
  15. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
  16. Last Days (Gus van Sant)
  17. This Strange Passion (Luis Bunuel)
  18. La Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci)
  19. The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky)
  20. Perfume: Story of a Murderer (Tom Tykwer)

The list is much shorter, but unlike in music, the top five in this list are actually my top five of 2007 (the rest are random). Something funny about the top two is that Control was released this year, while Wild Strawberries was released in 1957 - a difference of exactly 50 years. Only a quarter of this list were movies that were actually released this year (Control, I’m Not There, Paris Je T’aime, Southland Tales and Perfume). Now here’s what’s even funnier:

  1. Neal Stephenson – Cryptonomicon
  2. J.G. Ballard – Super-Cannes
  3. Douglas Coupland – Jpod
  4. Stephen King – Lisey’s Story
  5. Koji Suzuki – Birthday
  6. Donald Kingsbury – Psychohistorical Crisis
  7. Ian McEwan – Atonement
  8. Alastair Reynolds – Revelation Space
  9. Jack KerouacBig Sur
  10. Poul Anderson – Going for Infinity

The list is getting shorter, and as it happens, none of these books were released in 2007 (Jpod and Lisey’s Story were published in 2006 though).

  1. Final Fantasy V (SNES)
  2. Silent Hill (PlayStation)
  3. Metroid (NES)
  4. The Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (PC)
  5. Final Fantasy Tactics (PlayStation)

The shortest list comes last, and it is certainly emulator year as I played (or played again, in 3 cases out of 5) games from old consoles. Hopefully though, more developers will release games for PlayStation 3 in 2008 (especially the long-awaited Silent Hill 5), and I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of buying the console (Haw! Significant price drop, last time I checked). But ouch, PS3 + HDTV + Blu-ray games = pricey. Maybe 2008 will be The Year of Not Eating, eh?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Woman Like A Man

or Look again, because…Kaylee is a dude!

Give me some credit; I grew up with dogs, and didn’t particularly care about cats – not until I adopted Kira more than a year ago. Since then, the feline population in my house ballooned by 300%. So, not having a lot of interaction with cats before, I assumed they were all female…After all, dogs are dudes and cats are chicks, right?


Inspection #1: Easy/lucky/free

Thursday night: Val sent a text message informing me that the next prod meet for Laura will be at the Cheeky Apartments the following day. When I arrived, Ellaine wasn’t ready yet and left me to my devices downstairs. Kokoro and Smilla greeted me at the door. Isabelle was nowhere to be seen. I played with Smilla for a while (knowing by experience that Kokoro is a snub), stroking his soft fur and marveling at its shade of orange, when an idea struck me. I lifted a hind paw and ogled his privates. Hmmm…Smilla is a guy? Why does it look like this? Kokoro, come here…I dangled the neck strap of my mobile phone as bait. He bought it and swatted half-heartedly at the Weird Piece of Dangling Thing. I reached out, lifted him up (which earned me a few good kicks all over my arms and torso, that cat could kick!) and looked at the same anatomical region as I did with Smilla. Same, huh. So that’s what a kitty dick looks like? I thought penises were tube-like appendages hanging out the pubic region, flanked with a pair of testicles in the background. After all, I’ve lived with one for 22 years now, and doggy dicks are basically the same. So…


Interlude: Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars

I named Kira after Major (later Colonel) Kira Nerys, the Bajoran representative in Deep Space Nine. Moreover, I was in too deep Neverwinter Nights when I adopted her, and I gave my character the same name. (In the subsequent expansion packs Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark, I named by characters Britney Spears [Shadows of Undrentide was rather ho-hum] and William Shakespeare [Star Trek is littered with Shakespeare quotes and references, with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country being a weird interpretation/appropriation of Hamlet]. I haven’t had the chance to check out Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansion pack Mask of the Betrayer yet, but I’d name my character Benjamin Linus if ever I get around to it.) When another three cats popped up upstairs one summer day, I named them Kaylee, Inara and Zoë, after the three females in the short-lived Firefly. Inara’s nickname is Tiger because; well…she looks like one.


Inspection #2: Girls just wanna have fun

When I got home a little past 1pm, four hungry cats greeted me with more than slight irritation. I poured a generous amount of cat food in their bowls and refilled another with fresh water. Not long after, the feeding frenzy was over and the same four cats, now with full bellies, came sauntering in my room. Hmm…inspection time. I expected the worst. First, I lifted Kira (and got a few good kicks as well) and looked. Nah, different. Next, Inara. Same with Kira. Now that’s 50%. The David Lynch-ian doom cloud that has followed me all morning began to lift a bit. Come here, Zoë…Ouch! Her (yeah, her) claws were out. That cat sure is a bitch. For the final check-up, and the one I’ve been dreading…Kaylee, come cuddle with daddy for a bit, would you? Ever the cuddliest of the four of them, Kaylee unwittingly obliged, unaware of the danger that awaits this time. I carefully pried a hind paw. Kaylee looked at me apprehensively and gave a small you-are-so-making-me-uncomfortable meow. Summoning up all my courage, I looked. Eeeeep! Same with Kokoro and Smilla. Kaylee is a dude! They are night zombies! They are neighbors! They have come back from the dead! Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!


Coda: Space oddity

How can I call her…uhm…him Kaylee now? Shall I shorten it to Lee? After all, there’s a Major Lee “Apollo” Adama in Battlestar Galactica…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Our Movie Month

I say our, because that includes Kira, Kaylee, Inara and Zoe, collectively known as the Four Fat Felines of Frat House II. That being said, Harvey Pekar wrote a book (comics actually) that chronicled the making of American Splendor called Our Movie Year (our being Harvey, his wife Joyce and foster daughter Danielle). While I’m not making a movie of my own, I’ve seen a lot of them the past month – a lot of them really good ones that I considered writing reviews for each one I liked. However, such an activity is daunting, and my attention span is constantly being stolen by Final Fantasy, chess and the obscene amount of music I’ve downloaded the past few months that I have yet to listen to. So here are short reviews of some of those films. Obviously, I didn’t write about ALL of the movies I’ve seen (who writes reviews for films like Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Evil Dead 3 anyway?!).

In alphabetical order:

2001: A space odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick
UK/USA

Forty years on, 2001 still doesn’t look dated, like many old science fiction movies. I’ve seen this twice before, the last time maybe four years ago. This time, I paid more attention to the first and fourth movements – primeval Africa and the Star Child. Hal is a delight as usual - I even named my computer after him. And he beats me at chess half the time. Maybe my old laptop is finally exhibiting evidence of sentience?


Brick (2005)
Rian Johnson

USA

I don’t know how to begin describing this film. Films that are actually this fresh are rare; most films focus on performance, execution, photography and other production details. Brick is different. A homage to Dashiell Hammett, Brick fuses film noir language with contemporary slang to create a perplexing and equally mysterious atmosphere. You have to go all the way back to Richard Kelly’s 2002 film Donnie Darko to find a point of reference. Even then, Brick and Donnie Darko doesn’t have much in common. It’s just different. Not David Lynch-ish weird, but definitely something else. I can’t get any more specific than that. I just wish they gave Emilie de Ravin (the adorable Claire Littleton in Lost) more screen time though.


Carne trémula (Live flesh) [1997]
Pedro Almodovar
Spain

There’s nothing like Spanish melodrama to liven up a rainy Sunday morning. Sex, guns and lies – the perfect recipe. Carne trémula starts with Penelope Cruz giving birth in a bus (her only scene in the film), and ends with her adult son finding redemption after witnessing a bloody carnage in the name of love. Almodovar must have liked Cruz so much that he gave her increasingly larger roles in his later films Todo sobre mi madre and Volver. Javier Bardem (the paraplegic in Mar adentro) plays a wheelchair-bound former cop who seeks revenge, but when he finally gets it, it was not the kind that he expected.


Control (2007)
Anton Corbijn
UK

I’ll put this up there with the best films shot in black and white. Music photographer Anton Corbijn’s directorial debut is a biographical film about Ian Curtis (1956-1980), Joy Division’s enigmatic vocalist. Beautifully photographed, Control captured the working class aura of late 1970s Scotland. In a time when the anger and shock of punk music dominated the airwaves, Joy Division focused instead on mood and atmosphere; watching Control is like listening to a Joy Division song. Listen to Atmosphere and you’ll see what I mean (which is also the closing song of the film, and an absolutely brilliant choice). The visuals are breathtaking, the performances astounding and the music just plain awesome. The only boo-boo I can think of is playing The Killers’ cover of Shadowplay during the end credits. Joy Division and The Killers? Mon dieu. My primary blog experienced a deluge of traffic since I included Control in my Bag of Death list, many of them coming from a search engine with various permutations of the search terms Control, Corbijn, torrent, download, stream. Sorry folks. Control was released in the UK last August and will be available to US viewers on October 5. Until then, don’t walk away in silence.


Fast food nation (2006)
Richard Linklater
USA

Industry-thrashing films rarely work, and this one is no exception. The target: the fast food industry. Fast food nation is boring and incoherent, although the revelations about fast food practices are still disconcerting. Excellent performance by Catalina Sandino Moreno (Paris, je t’aime, Maria full of grace) though.


Insomnia (1997)
Erik Skjoldbjærg
Norway

I regret that I’ve already seen Christopher Nolan’s remake (set in Alaska) before I purchased this DVD. While I am a Nolan fan, I wasn’t impressed by his remake. The original is tighter, the narrative moving in bang-bang-bang shots of revelations, and many unnecessary plot devices inserted in the remake are absent. It is also less dramatic (fewer people running around chasing each other). I’m not particularly fond of detective stories (I skipped Hardy Boys and jumped straight to Stephen King when I was a kid), but I recognize a brilliant piece of detective fiction when I see/read one. And Stellan Skarsgård is waaay better than Al Pacino.


Leon the professional (1994)
Luc Besson
France

Watching a 12, maybe 14 year old Natalie Portman say “…except he’s not really my father (referring to Jean Reno). He’s my lover” will send anyone to fits of uncontrollable laughter.


Mamma Roma (1962)
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Italy

An early Pasolini film that, according to the blurb, is about Mamma Roma, a “middle-aged prostitute who attempts to extricate herself from her sordid past for the sake of her son.” Filmed in the tradition of Italian neorealism, Mamma Roma is nothing spectacular, as are films in this movement, but rather dealt with the downtrodden and the oppressed. A good Pasolini starter for those not ready for Caligula and Salo.



Match point (2005)
Woody Allen
USA/UK

Woody Allen movies are always a delight, and in Match point, the metaphor is tennis and the characters are in too deep the world of the British elite. While it starts off as fun, the tension thickens as the plot unravels and never lets up until the startling conclusion. I wonder why Scarlett Johansson always plays stupid-ish characters?


The prestige (2006)
Christopher Nolan
USA/UK

I’ve seen this before, but it’s the kind of film one would like to watch every now and then. Come to think of it, there are a lot of hints about the final revelation all throughout the movie. You just don’t notice it because you’re not watching closely.


Paris, je t’aime (2006)
Various directors
France

Where do I begin? At first, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about this film, but wanted to see how the pieces fit together. Well, they didn’t. But I liked a lot of them well enough that I can’t even decide which of them I like best. Is it Tuileries by the Coen brothers or Faubourg Saint-Denis? After all, Steve Buscemi and Natalie Portman are impeccable. But I also like Alexander Payne’s 14eme arrondissement and Olivier Assayas’ Quartier des Enfants Rouges. Ah, and Christopher Doyle’s Porte de Choisy, that’s really awesome. That’s what you get for hiring a cinematographer to direct. I think I'll wear out this DVD from playing over and over again.


Le violon rouge (The red violin) (1998)
Francois Girard
Canada/Italy

Not much to say. Only the gradual unraveling of the events of the auction in Montreal is particularly enjoyable, and only then because of the suspense.


Sex, lies and videotape (1989)
Steven Soderbergh
USA

I don’t know why I bought this DVD. The only Soderbergh film I even remotely like is Traffic – most of the others are…well, I didn’t even bother to watch (Who watches films like Ocean’s Thirteen anyway?). I like James Spader though (that dweeb from the Stargate film); he’s unintentionally funny. I endured the film, though I didn’t particularly enjoy it. I just liked the videotape perversion. Or maybe I just like perverted films.


A short film about killing (1988)
Krzysztof Kieślowski
Poland

One word: dark. I haven’t seen Dekalog, but based on A short film about killing, I’m almost sure that it’s something I would definitely be on the lookout for.


Solo con tu pareja (1991)
Alfonso Cuaron
Mexico

The most remarkable thing about Alfonso Cuaron’s first film is not even related to directing. It is Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography. The plot itself is tongue in cheek funny. The DVD included two short films from Cuaron and his brother Carlos (who wrote Solo con tu pareja). Both are bad.


The squid and the whale (2005)
Noah Baumbach
USA

I thought at first, ah another one of those Dysfunctional Families kind of movie. Then I watched it and was surprised at the utter boldness of it. Some portions are so funny that I had to hit pause on the remote and wait until I’ve calmed myself enough to continue watching.


Tras el cristal (In a glass cage) [1987]
Agustín Villaronga
Spain

Think a darker and more perverse Apt Pupil. All throughout the film’s run of a little over an hour and a half, I gravitated from being on the verge of puking in fear and crying in disgust and back again.


Volver (2006)
Pedro Almodovar
Spain

In Volver, Almodovar takes on death, incest and coming home. Funny, but after all those revelations, how can you still laugh?



The next week or so, this is what’s lined up. My supply is running out. I might have to go DVD-hunting again by the end of the week.


Bande à part (Band of outsiders) [1964]
Jean-Luc Godard
France

Barry Lyndon (1975)
Stanley Kubrick
UK

Delicatessen (1991)
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
France

Inland empire (2006)
David Lynch
France/Poland/USA

Das leben der anderen (The lives of others) [2006]
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Germany

North by northwest (1959)
Alfred Hitchcock
USA

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tick Tock

Nothing like idle time – too much of it – to drive me out of my wits. I spend half my time either reading or watching movies; at least I caught up with my reading. Even then, boredom still sets in. I found a nasty little program that drove me crazy though. It’s called Bridge Building Game, and it…well, it lets me build bridges on a given topography with a fixed budget. Then I’d have to run a train over my creation to test the stress. If the train successfully made it to the other side, I advance to the next level. The first few levels were rather easy, but as I went further, the topography got more and more difficult. Engr. Jeeu, how’s that?

Then there’s chess. I play against the computer, and damn, it’s good. I started with the “dumbest setting,” and I’ve progressed through 12 points. Twenty-one to go and I’d probably be good enough to challenge a chess master haha. The only thing that’s driving me crazy is that when playing against the computer at its highest level, it’s awfully slooooow in making its moves, even if it’s just an obvious en passant or castles or pawn to pawn exchange. I don’t mind slow opponents, but looking at the monitor while waiting for the computer to move is infuriating. I’d still prefer a live person over a computer.

Next is code. In the past I’ve tired learning C++ using pirated books. I’ve progressed enough to learn the syntax, debug bits of pre-written code and even write some calculations. Well, I’ve decided to be even more primitive and backtrack to C. I may not be able to write my own version of Quake, but there’s nothing like hundreds of lines of code compiling and finally running to make me feel like I’ve learned something.

Now, dunnet. Dunnet is a text adventure game written in Lisp and originated from ancient Unix terminals. Newer Macs using the Unix architecture has Dunnet embedded in them, but I don’t have one of those, so I access the game through emacs, which is a pretty damn good text editor. I’ve reached the maze tunnels, but I keep getting lost, which is irritating. The first time I played it, I got eaten by a grizzly bear. Beats Doom and Warcraft though.

Then there’s Enterprise (see related post). Nothing like Star Trek to pass the time, eh?

Finally, a Battlestar Galactica rewatch. Season Four’s not until January, and while there’s Battlestar Galactica: Razor a bit later this year, that’s a flashback about Battlestar Pegasus and won’t really advance the plot from the third season finale’s mind-numbing cliffhanger. Come sing with me: There must be some way out of here/Said the joker to the thief/There’s too much confusion/I can’t get no relief…I wonder if Bob Dylan himself bothered to watch the show? Who is the twelfth Cylon? What are the repercussions of the “awakening” of the four of the final five Cylons? Are they sleeper agents as well? What the hell is up with Starbuck? Will Apollo regain his commission? What will Adama do? Is President Roslin going to die? What’s with Roslin, Boomer and Caprica’s visions of the Opera House with Hera? Do I have hair lice? Does toilet water swirl clockwise or counterclockwise in Australia? Am I a bowling ball dreaming I’m a plate of sashimi?

Other distractions – a handful of SNES games like Chrono Trigger (see related post), Clock Tower, Super Metroid, Zelda, Final Fantasy. Seventeen days, three job offers (all of which I rejected for different reasons), four fat cats, dozens of DVDs and an overheating laptop from too much use. I must have seen a hundred movies the past two weeks. I need to get out.

A whorehouse called Starbucks

Let’s get the wholesome stuff out of the way first. Imagine a typical Jolibbee, but replace some stuff: instead of Chickenjoy, frappuccino; instead of hamburger, fancy-looking pastries; instead of Coca-cola products (would you like to upgrade?), bottles of Evian water; instead of service crew, baristas; instead of bright orange chairs, couches. Voila! a typical Starbucks – the fastfood of coffee houses.

Like any typical twenty-something, I like coffee. But I’ve never been a fan of Starbucks, the most popular (ergo, ubiquitous) coffee house of them all. Here’s an exercise: prowl the length of Ayala Avenue and count all the Starbucks you can see. Blech. When I want a cup of overpriced gourmet coffee, I usually prefer the quieter but pricier Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Seattle’s Best. I like the local franchise Figaro, but their branches at the only malls I frequent (Gateway and Megamall) are indoors, so no chance of that since I’m not drinking coffee without a pack of Marlboros on the table.

My Starbucks-derision magnified a hundred fold a few days ago. I was to meet Glen Dale for coffee at Shangrila; we usually met at Seattle’s Best Megamall, but we thought of going somewhere else that night. I nixed the idea of Coffee Bean Ortigas Park (!) because the weather was unpredictable and Glen Dale had to come from work somewhere in San Miguel Avenue. So we decided to meet at a Starbucks in Shangrila (just meet there, not have coffee there) since I don’t go there frequently and don’t exactly know what and where things are.

I arrived at Starbucks around 8:45 pm, too early (we were supposed to meet at 9:20), but I had a book so it wasn’t much of a bother. All the tables outside were occupied, so I went inside, plopped down on one of the couches and immersed myself in nadsat. Ten minutes later, I had the uncontrollable urge to light up, so I grabbed my bag and jacket and went out the door. A throng of call center-types were just about to leave, so I was relieved that at least, I can have my smokes in comfort.

The lights were dim outside, and people were coming and going so I gave up on reading and put the book back in my bag. I was exchanging SMS with Jimmy, pressuring him to join us. It started to rain, but my table was a bit on the safe side, so I just looked amusingly at more call center-types scrambling for cover, grabbing their espressos and frappuccinos and dashing inside. Three fags, one of them carrying a large blue mattress, made a pit stop to my table (it was a four-seater and I was alone). I ignored them and kept on fiddling with my mobile phone. The gay pride march soon went inside and was replaced by two middle-aged women. I ignored them as well. Their car arrived soon after and the driver whisked them and their purchases inside and I was left alone again.

At about 9:15 pm, a girl took the chair across from me. I didn’t look up; I was too busy sending a text message. When I finally did look up, my entire field of vision was filled with a pair of eye-popping ginormous tits clad in a pink blouse with flower prints and an extremely generous cleavage. A few nanoseconds before my hormones were to send a bone-up signal to my nethers, I saw the face to whom those tits were attached to. Ew.

We sat across each other for about five minutes, me still sending and receiving text messages; her…I don’t know what she was doing. I thought I was doing a pretty good job at looking mean and unfriendly, which isn’t really that difficult, but then she spoke. “Call center ka ba nagwo-work?” I looked up and shook my head. “Hindi,” I answered curtly. I thought she would be put off by the short reply. Wrong. “E saan?” she pursued. “Basta sa isang software company,” I replied, still not interested.

Kay Bill Gates?” Warning klaxons started their wang-wang-wang in my head. “Hindi,” I chuckled. “E di Linux?” I was a bit surprised that she knew the word Linux. Well, I think there are some internet cafés that use Debian distributions anyway, so what the hell. Still, can’t she just shut up? Doesn’t she realize that I didn’t want to talk?

Mga video-editing at DVD authoring software ginagawa namin, not operating systems.” I know it must have sounded either stupid or overly technical, depending on who you ask, but I was really annoyed at her intrusion and I just wanted her to go away. I don’t like small talk with strangers.

Aaaaah,” she dismissed the subject and changed gears. “You think, babalik pa ba ako sa klab?

The warning klaxons reached their crescendo. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know how to react. I couldn’t think of anything to say. “Wh-what?” I stammered.

She laughed and continued to rub it in my face. “Kasi I don’t know kung babalik pa ko dun sa klab. What do you think?” I really wanted her to go away. “Bumalik ka na, maaga pa naman e.”

Past 9 na, maaga pa ba yun?” Get the fuck out of my sight! Isn’t 9pm still early if you work in a klab? I stayed silent.

Ang itim-itim ko kasi, mukha akong galing probinsiya.“ That was when I said something really stupid and cruel at the same time, but I didn’t realize it then. “That’s okay. Gabi naman e, hindi naman halata.

Victory! She stood up and looked around. “Ang practical mo naming sumagot.” I just smiled. It was more like a sneer.

Wait lang ha,” and she disappeared inside. I glanced briefly and saw her talking to the guard. Then she was gone. I took a deep breath and looked at the time. Nine-thirty. Glen Dale is late, but it was raining like mad so it’s understandable. I fished the Marlboros from my shirt pocket and lit up. Finally, I can have my smokes in peace.

Ten minutes later, she was back. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I wanted to leave, but it was raining and all I had was a denim jacket. I won’t last thirty seconds before I’m soaked. Then, I thought of something. I took my mobile phone from the front pocket of my pants and fiddled for a bit with the keypad, then stuck it to my ear and started to talk.

Hello? Ano, punta ka pa? (Silence, as if listening to the other person’s reply.) E bilisan mo na, wala pa naman si Glen Dale e. (Silence.) Ha? Ewan ko, tinapos ko naman yun kanina bago ako umalis? (Silence.) WHAT?! So I’ve been working on a week-old build? E kakakuha ko lang nun kanina sa FTP ah. (Silence.) E gago pala siya e, ilalagay niya sa network tapos di niya sasabihin sa akin blah blah blah…”

It wasn’t supposed to make sense, and I suck at adlibbing anyway. After about five minutes of cryptic technical mumbo jumbo, I ran out of things to say. “Okay sige, see you. Babay.” I flicked my eyes to her direction. Gyaaaah, she was till there.

Wala pa girlfriend mo?” I didn’t bother to correct her that I wasn’t waiting for my girlfriend and I didn’t have one at the moment. I didn’t want to give her any more ideas. “Wala pa.”

Tingin mo ba, magkikita ba kami ng friend ko dito?” I exhaled. “May usapan ba kayo.” I said it without an inflection at the end; a statement rather than a question. I was too pissed off. “E alam naman niyang palagi akong andito e.” She smiled naughtily. “Pogi yun. Spanish.” I wanted to bash her face in. “Mag-asawa na lang kaya ako ng foreigner, no?” she continued. I was on the brink of violence. “Ang guwapo nun ah!” she exclaimed, her eyes looking at someone behind me. Her mouth was propped open and her eyes followed that guwapo who was certainly coming nearer and nearer. The guwapo finally passed my table and all I saw was a mere punk/emo looking Caucasian. I felt for a pen in my shirt pocket, ready to stick it in her eye. Then, from across the street, a familiar face appeared. Hallelujah! I didn’t even look at her when I said Bye under my breath. I grabbed Glen Dale’s arm and hurried away from Starbucks.

Glen Dale later said that I had a get-me-the-fuck-out-of-here look on my face as I scrambled away from that cursed café.