Friday, February 22, 2008

What Happens in February 22


Today shook the very earth that we walk on for a variety of reasons. In the Philippines alone, a short list of seismic events can be procured:
  • Douglas McArthur was ordered out of the Philippines
  • People Power begins
  • Lea Salonga was born

But the most important event on this day happened not in the Philippines, but in Australia. Forty-six years ago, Steve Irwin was born.

Let us commemorate this day by carrying a crocodile and observing a moment of solemnity. Steve Irwin was a hero.

We love you Steve.



Sunday, February 10, 2008

Life's Fani That Way: Menaya and Kampai are Assholes


This is going to be a pretty harsh rant against the bands called Menaya and Kampai, both of whom Mahasa (with me playing bass in lieu of Choy, who was recuperating from health problems) had the misfortune of playing with earlier this evening. I might not have all the details down pat - I may have put an extra spot swap somewhere in the story - but this is pretty much how everything happened.

   The Mahasa boys have played with these two bands in the past, and while we might not have much to say about their music, there wasn't anything remotely annoying about them back in our first encounter. Heck, there's  hardly anything annoying about someone you've just met, usually. So when the Kampai bassist (I think he was the bassist) went up to me and asked me if I were from Mahasa - I think he recognized me from way back - I didn't think that there was anything up at all - even when he pulled up a chair. I thought that maybe hey, he just wanted to sit and chat, have a drink. He was wearing a nice hat, too.

   But lo and behold, a few seconds after he sits his ass down, he gets straight to business and asks for a schedule swap.

   Earlier that night, at around nine in the evening, to be exact, we arrive at the arcade where the Pasong Tamo branch of Pier One could be found. There was hardly anybody there - there was just this one band outside, hanging out, and there were these people from the production hanging out at the smoking area of the bar. Bruce goes up to Tony, our contact, and asks him what time we were playing.

   "Pare, di pa nagisimula," he says with a grin. "Gusto nyo, third band na kayo?"

   Of course we agreed. We'd all had long days, and we were itching to get back home. Also, Bruce needed to chauffeur his aunt to the airport later at two in the morning, so playing early was advantageous for us. We had dinner at the Big Apple Pizza Company, hung out around the arcade, and when the first band started their soundcheck routines, we brought our equipment up and settled down for what we thought was a relatively short wait.

   Of course, when the Kampai dude was talking to us about the spot swap, it was pushing to twelve midnight, so we were pretty much mistaken there, huh?

   Sometime during the second band's set, Tony comes up to us and asks if we'd mind being shifted to fourth spot, since one of the bands needed to play a little bit earlier. And we were cool with it. These things happen, anyway. If it wasn't an inconvenience for anybody, and if they were nice about it, Mahasa'd gladly swap spots for most people (operative word being most).

   This was the start of a very long wait, and a very frustrating night. But we didn't know that at the time. We thought we were just being friendly folks.

   Then this band Menaya steps up and asks for another spot swap, which would make us the fifth band. Again, we agreed. Another bad call. I don't exactly know why they needed to step up one spot earlier, but the thing is, if you know you had another engagement in the first place, why commit to a gig? Or, for that matter, why the hell would you arrive at the venue late? Are you guys retarded or something?

   Which leads me to the last event of the evening, where the Kampai bass player was talking to us. I told him to talk to Bruce, since my days of managing the band were as extinct as the dinosaurs. And personally, when I heard the words schedule, deal and could we, I took that as my cue to exit from the negotiations table.

   What did they want?

   Why, another spot swap. For the dumbest reason I have ever heard.

   Apparently, the two bands, Menaya and Kampai both had a deal with the bar: the two bands would be playing one after the other. So, say, if Menaya had to play third, Kampai would play fourth. Which I don't get: are you guys big shots? Is the bar paying you to play? Will droves of people flock to your gigs wherever you go? If not, then where in all the nine hells did you guys get the balls to come up with an x-deal like that? YOU. GUYS. ARE. FUCKING. RETARDED. You're only giving the other people playing a hard time, and for what? For a slot that's thirty minutes earlier. Genius.

   Like I mentioned earlier, it was nearly midnight when the bass dude came up to our table and tried to cut a deal. Mostly because Bruce had to split, but also due to the fact that the entire evening was turning out to be a big fat waste of our time, we decided to call it quits for the night.

   So yeah, kids. I like Kampai's bass player - he has this other band that plays really awesome music. But what they did that night was one of the biggest, most unprofessional moves I have ever seen. Their manager can kiss my ass and shove his foot up his mouth. The fact that I didn't have to play - which was a good thing, since I was really, really off with Mahasa's new sound - is cold comfort for the fact that assholes like those manage to get away with murder.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Fool on the Narcissus


I know the Mezzanine still looks like unholy crap, but bear with it. I'll get it fixed sooner or later, I promise. Meanwhile, there's something that I've been meaning to put down in writing, but haven't had the drive to do so.

In the neighborhood where I live in, there used to be this old woman who was a lawyer. Her name was (to the best of my knowledge) Attorney Cuevas, and while she wasn't anything special as far as lawyers go, having one living within spitting distance of your roosting place is, in a way, kinda awesome. I've nothing but the utmost respect for lawyers - even the corrupt ones, because you'd have to be hella smart to drain the financial resources of people (yes, I condemn the act of corruption, in case you're wondering, I just find the mental faculties of successfully corrupt people interesting). As a lawyer, you can defend yourself in court. You could ask for things like in-depth investigations and witness protection programs. Sometimes, you can even sentence a man to death.

The most amazing earthly power is the power to govern the life and death of a living being, never mind the moral consequences (yes, two morally questionable statements in a heartbeat, way to go Martin Cruz).

Lawyers aren't the point of this entry, however. Attorney Cuevas, or whatever her name is, is.

Her little house was roughly a garage and two doorsteps away from Mount Narciso (the name the Cruz residence goes by). Right beside it is a little eskinita which has recently been claimed as private property by my uncle. As far as I can remember, the little house was really nondescript, something a little bit smaller than a shoebox, but since the old woman lived alone, it wouldn't have been much of a problem.

Recently, Attorney Cuevas has transformed, like a phoenix gone mad, into the village idiot. Her already swarthy face is now covered by a layer of soot worthy of the best taong grasa you could imagine. Her hair hangs down her face in rivulets of keratin and grease, and she wears a faded flowered duster that was probably last washed during the 70's. She hangs outside her house doing odd little projects that nobody understands. Her house is now in shambles, so much so that it's a wonder how she keeps the lone lightbulb in her house working properly. There's ages of trash built up in the debris, and the shadow of an unused staircase can be seen from the doorway.

The woman has become the butt of the neighborhood children's jokes, much to her consternation (I imagine it'd be easier to get annoyed when you've lost all emotional restraints). She screams at them in unintelligible gibberish, and once in a while, tosses random pieces of lumber in their general direction.

The biggest question here, of course, is why the woman went cuckoo. There are rumors that this was built-up emotional stress from a variety of things, from the fact that she lived alone to the possibility that the members of her family that used to live with her went and left her behind. None of these theories are founded, however, but none of it would be too surprising.

I sometimes wonder, though, just how far gone she is into cuckoo-land. There are times when she emanates a kind of almost frightening lucidity, such as when she casually commented on how these two friends of mine, a couple, should never let go of each other. She also has a rather uncanny knack of sensing levels of prospective threat - I was less of a threat than, say, the sunog-baga from Isla (that's the name of a region in Pandacan), so she decided to stick closer to me, much to my discomfort, when I was buying pan de coco from the corner bakery.

Crazy people, in my book, are just like lawyers. They serve very little purpose in life except to stir things up, and make things progress, one way or the other. The crazy nutcase does that by being crazy. The lawyer does that by being an asshole. It's just fascinating that two proponents of radically opposing forces - one being a force of chaos, the other an avatar of order - has converged on one single individual.

It could be said that right then and there, when Attorney Cuevas finally lost it, she achieved perfection.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Site Optimization Commencing


For Blogger, Multiply and Tabulas (although Multiply's site redo will mostly be aesthetic). I guess you could say I got sick of relying on premade templates that work well for the first four months, but start to suck soon afterwards. Also, there are benefits of a website that's constantly in flux.

This also restarts my attempt to unify the theme of the Zeppelin. The main blog, or the bridge where the captain spends most of his time can be found in Tabulas, while this mezzanine serves to entertain various guests. I have yet to change the Multiply site's Flying Teapot into something that can work in the schema of the Zeppelin, though, and the Engine Room was pulled out from my hands when I left Stickymedia Solutions. so I'll have to come up with another tech blog sooner or later - maybe using the Wordpress CMS, just to keep things interesting.

For now, pardon whatever damage you see on any of the three sites. I think I'm learning enough div-and-CSS handling thanks to Dreamweaver to make something intriguing with the unified Zeppelin, but that doesn't mean I won't wreck something somewhere along the line.