Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Year-End Survey


Because I don't always post surveys at Blogger, and because I haven't worked on a survey in a long time, I present to you kids the 2008 survey (courtesy of Oryza the Genius)! Everybody's supposed to have an obligatory year-end post(s), and since I haven't posted anything the past few, let this be the start of (hopefully) a series.


1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
>> Put up with people patiently. :D

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
>> I've never done resolutions before. Mebbe it's time I did. Huh.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
>> I am not that sure. My sister might have.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
>> Nobody that I know of.

5. What countries did you visit?
>> That depends. In my imagination, I roam around a lot. In real life, I am a desk jockey.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
>> Gee that's a lot. More money?

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
>> One overcast Saturday in September (it was either the 13th or the 20th - my bet's on the 13th) where the adage "First impressions last" was unceremoniously proven wrong by that fickle barmaid called fate.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
>> Quitting two jobs.

9. What was your biggest failure?
>> Quitting two jobs!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
>> Various episodes of colds and fevers. And asthma. And my leg problem came back after a wicked night of drinky-drink with the Pucholo whilst I was still working in Outblaze. I chased a jeep. The jeep won.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
>> A set of awesome headphones (with mic!) for less than 300 pesos. The coffee press I got for my dad comes as a close second. I didn't buy that many books this year.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
>> Oh, way too many people. No matter how dejected I got this year, the people I surround myself with are always, always amazing.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
>> Ooooh. Tsismoso to'ng survey na to. Pero sige - myself. And certain other folks I cannot mention since this isn't a private post. :D

14. Where did most of your money go?
>> Oh man. Travel and food. And drinky-drink. And dates. Not the fruit.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
>> My post-Christmas presents from Lauren and Ninsy. :D I knew for weeks that they had some stuff for me, I just didn't know what they were.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
>> Atlas by Battles. Cheers to Inigo and KC for introducing me to this awesome band.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
>> happier or sadder? A mix of both. For totally different reasons. Or does this come as no surprise?
>> richer or poorer? Richer (I first typed poorer here, but in retrospect, I am actually more affluent).
>> thinner or fatter? fatter. Even if all my relatives can't tell the difference. It means I still know how to dress up yo.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
>> Letting go (only a few people know what this entails. You know who you are, and you helped me through this period - I thank you from the bottomless pit that is my heart / stomach).

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
>> Drink, surprisingly.

20. How did you spend the holidays?
>> With a smile on my face that was really, really genuine, despite all of my earlier misgivings. I plan on greeting the New Year with an even bigger smile.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
>> Yes. Thrice. Sabi nila, third time's a charm.

22. How many one-night stands?
>> None, thank God.

23. What were your favorite TV programs?
>> Heroes, House, Pushing Daisies (RIP), The Visionaries, Silver Hawks, How I Met Your Mother, Californication, Black Books, Dragon Ball Z. These were also the only things I watched that were part of a series. These were also all watched from my laptop. I can never get used to having a television around again.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
>> Hate the crime, not the person, I always say.

25. What were the best books you've read?
>> READ:
1. Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown
2. Isaac Asimov's The Robots of Dawn
3. Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Reread. His best book.
4. Kurt Vonnegut's Time Quake. AWESOME.
5. Sanjay Nigam's The Transplanted Man.
6. Jim Butcher's Grave Peril.

READING:
1. Thomas Pynchon's V.
2. Ursula K. LeGuin's The Retelling.
3. Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
4. Arthur Nersesian's The Fuck-Up.
5. Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day.
6. Various Authors, Fifty Years of Russian Prose.
7. Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family.
8. Yann Martel's Life of Pi.
9. Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and Other Stories.
10. Irvine Welsh's Glue.
If I listed them all down here, I'll probably go batshit insane.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?
TOP 5 (that I just saw this year):
1. The Dark Knight
2. Tropic Thunder
3. Voices from a Distant Star
4. Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle (yeah, I suck, I know)
5. Howl's Moving Castle (technically, saw this last year, but I saw it again this year, so meh).

27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
>> Shifts from office clothes to very relaxed.

28 Whom did you miss?
>> The Cagayan de Oro people.

29. Who was the best new person you met?
>> If I put her name down here, I am dead meat. :D

30. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
>> If something isn't working out for you, you have to bring yourself to dump whatever that thing is. If it's just going to be excess baggage, you'll only end up making things worse for you.

31. What was your greatest musical discovery?
>> Battles.

32. What did you want and get?
>> Haha! :D

33. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
>> 25th. Start of my quarter-life crisis. Spiral breakfast, then work work work.

34. What one thing would have made your year immeasureably more satisfying?
>> More willpower.

35. What kept you sane?
>> Myself, for most of the year. Somebody else during the latter part. My friends, throughout it all. My family, esp the kids.

36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
>> Sasha Grey. :P

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
>> I've got you under my skin. :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Diary


Of all the cool gifts I got this year, this was undoubtedly the coolest:

My copy probably has a different serial number and far, far less Japanese characters in the background.

The Murakami Diary for 2009, which came from my dear eldest sister, who got it for ₤9.99 according to the receipt I found in the book, much to her chagrin.

So here I am, with a diary whose theme involves one of the few giants in contemporary literature. This is a good thing, this, because in my opinion, I lack practice and skill in writing short and meaningful paragraphs.

This diary has a small slot for each day of the year 2009.

Every time somebody gives me a notebook or a diary, it ends up gathering dust in one corner until I finish the current notebook I have with me and find the need to continue writing on a new leaf, so to speak.

Add the fact that most of my writing is done via the computer these days, which explains the dearth of decent hand-written works from myself for around three years and counting.

A page from within the diary. Notice the snippets from Murakami's expansive body of work and the delicate page design.

With this, though, comes a challenge: each day should contain a snippet of thought from yours truly, written as carefully as I could ever muster so as not to put myself to shame by pitting my own words against the works of a master I truly truly admire.

BTW, for those of you who were wondering: yes, I did get a shirt this Christmas. We shall not talk any more of it; just know that it is orange and nondescript. I also got a pair of socks and three sets of boxers. Nobody thought of giving me a shawarma-hock, but the nice pen and the diary more than makes up for the lack of bovine meat.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!


It's the 24th and I haven't even done my shopping or most of my work for that matter. I have also not for the past two weeks, done any serious workout. I expect to greet 2009 a little bit flabbier than I was last year.

But hell. It's the holidays, and despite any misgivings, we all need to get together and enjoy the fact that at least once every year, everybody's given the excuse to shovel fattening pieces of ham and edam cheese down their gullets and guzzle some good alcohol. So what the hey. Merry Christmas, folks, and may it be a truly good one for all of you - especially those of you who really need it.

As my gift to all of you readers, here's a nice animated short I picked up from wandering around the 'net the entire night. It isn't Pixar in terms of story quality and pacing, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for by being very, very cheeky. I know at least of one person who will truly enjoy this. You know who you are. Merry, merry Christmas to you and your (pamang)kin(s).

Without further ado, I present to you Big Buck Bunny.

And that's a wrap. Merry Christmas, people. Easy on the decadence. I want to see everybody I know as fat and as healthy as can be when 2009 comes crawling in through that door, so no keeling over on me, mkay?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

(Another) Holiday Post


It's Christmas.

The weather's slowly turned chilly; you see more and more people out with their jackets, and there's a crispness in the air, like the slow, silent crumbling of Graham crackers, or the slow popping of popcorn in the microwave. But you can't hear it.

Out there, in the street, there's gaiety and fanfare, without really being fanfare because fanfare is always planned. The kid carolers, knocking on your door and throwing rocks when you act the scrooge. Bright lights, big city lights, all throughout the avenues, and you know that just down the street from the church you can pick up a steaming bibingka or puto bumbong with niyog and luscious butter.

In the pulpit, the priests are getting ready, celebrating the reason for the season and telling us that the son of God is at hand. On the other hand, stores have advertisements and hawkers telling everybody that Christmas means a variety of sales from both retail and wholesale just so you can make your loved ones smile maybe just a little bit more.

In the television, even the Catholic channels have advertisements.

If there were snow here, you'd see more couples walking slowly, arm-in-arm, enjoying the added proximity given by the need of warmth. It's a good thing it seldom rains in Christmas, at least here.

Funny isn't it? How in the midst of all this cheer, all it takes is a moment to stop and think, and to look inside of yourself and the realization that while you're happy, there's no avoiding that gaping hole of something that sits on your chest, keeping you from really saying that hey, it's the holiday.

It's the holiday.

That doesn't mean you're not happy. Happiness is multi-layered and while it takes a little bit of effort to expose the innermost bulb, it doesn't take much to get the tears flowing.

Tears fall to the ground at the rate of at least ten centimetres per second. Dusk comes in at approximately thirty minutes earlier at eight hours on the GMT. It takes a second for an instant message from across the globe to reach my computer. And yet, time marches on slowly.

In a couple of weeks, Christmas is over. In a few minutes, your bank account is a couple hundred pesos poorer. In a second, a tequila shot is gone, and after a five-second period of time when you slice a block of cheese, you have just taken away approximately 1% of the entire cheese.

1% in 5 seconds.

200 in 5 minutes.

2009 in 11 days.

And what changes?

Again this year, the days leading up to the holidays I greet with a stiff glass of Jim Beam and a poker face. I don't know how you celebrate your holidays folks, but Merry Christmas, for your sakes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crooners And Caroling


I love crooners. Seriously, who wouldn't like the way crooners, well, croon? I've been in a very crooner-ish mood lately, thanks to someone very dear. So since I can't find a version of this song performed by Sinatra (the king of crooners), go go Buble:




Everybody's making Christmas wish lists. So far, two people have been asking me about what I'd like for the season, and I've always given the same answer. Nothing. Because I don't make lists for Christmas. Give whatever or give nothing, it doesn't matter. The thought that counts and all that. Bah humbug, I have a cold.

In the spirit of my very un-Christmaslike mood, though, let me make a list of the things that I do not want to get for Christmas:

  1. shirts - Last year being the exception, I totally detest getting shirts for Christmas. Or birthdays. This is like the most basic staple of gift-giving, and it gets annoying, mostly because people usually don't know what style of shirt you like. Or, since I'm a big guy, what size you wear. Unfortunately for me, very few of my family members will read through this blog and know that giving me a shirt for the holidays will most likely result in a secret mental aneurysm.
  2. books - This is weird for me, because I read read and read a lot. But the thing is, except for a select few, people usually don't know what I like reading. I am very, very choosy about what I like. I don't complain when I get books, but that doesn't always mean that I'll read them. And yes, I know I'm doomed to get books anyway; these are better than shirts, though, since somebody's always likely to score a good title.
  3. Gifts with very little imagination whatsoever - Seriously folks. It isn't how expensive your gift is, or where you bought it. The mentality of the more expensive things = more special during Christmas is just pure failure, in my opinion. Expensive birthday gifts, or wedding gifts I can live with. But on Christmas? A well-written poem dedicated to the receiver, a rubber ball, or even a keychain will work wonders on a person's mood and morale. Give a friggin' fish for a change. A six-pack of beer. Or pork chop. An idiot's guide on how to write books for idiots. A lamp.

That said, I will now leave you folks and clear my sinuses with tap water. Honestly, I'm seldom this mean especially during the Christmas season. I just really really don't like colds.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Beeeer (Among other Alcoholic Beverages)


I don't really remember when I started drinking alcohol. It was either during one family reunion way back when I was still a kid, or during a night out with the family where they made me taste wine. I remember disliking the bitterness of beer, but like coffee, it was something you eventually get used to.

I was introduced to hard drinks back in high school thanks to a friend who decided to drag me to his neighborhood buddy's weekend drinking session. This was also my first (I think) Starbucks experience.

This kid, though, has a pretty good head start.

I've reached an age, though, where I'm beginning to feel the effects of the drink on my body. Blame my year in Mindanao where I was straddled with pansies who adamantly refused to indulge in hard liquor (I love those guys with all my heart, but hell). Blame the weight I lost (hopefully, weight that I will keep lost). Or blame the theoretical deteriorating state of my liver, which I try to lighten by imbibing gratuitous amounts of water every day. Whichever it is, Bruce and I are starting to feel the need to seriously cut back in our alcohol intake.

Yes, it has to be Bruce and me. We have discovered that the alcoholism tends to drastically escalate whenever the two of us are present during the session. To the point that slapping contests are viewed as a sport rather than stupidity.

Anyway, I won't be cutting the habit out completely - beer,whisky and wine are all way too delicious to forget about. And there're health benefits to be gained from drinking alcohol in moderation, too. So the plan is - lessened intake. A small part of my head is saying that that'll never happen, but I'm choosing to ignore it right now, and focus on being optimistic. Haha!

For the beer lovers - and for other eighties / nineties Pinoy kids - here's an ad you'd probably remember.

And yes, my YouTube player color of choice is purple. Sue me.

Monday, December 08, 2008

You've All Seen It


I'm talking about this face, gringos. Manny gave the Golden Boy such a beating that it'd take a week for all those bruises for him to heal back to his usual good-lookin' countenance. The good, the bad, the ugly? Manny's all three - a good boxer, a bad-ass fighter, and an ugly mug.

Bad Left Hook gives a really good eulogy to De la Hoya's boxing career in this post. I never got to see the fight, but I saw the HBO specials on their training (Freddie Roach looks like he's slowly losing it out of the ring), and I saw the news reports. Pacman was Yoda, De la Hoya was Count Dooku. No contest, literally.

I like that bit where SC points out that the entire time, De la Hoya knew what he had to do - he was a really good boxer, after all - but they all just kept on coming to him way too late in the game. That's always a scary thought, man. I mean, how much do you think you can take from life when all the good ideas, all the winning combinations, keep on hitting you way after you've had the opportunity?

Bang, Golden Boy. You're dead.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

And After Another Sleepless Night


I can honestly say that I never ever should have read through the entire Watchmen series because it has furthered my understanding that I might never fully enjoy the upcoming eponymous movie the way it was meant to be enjoyed (and if we're to take 300 as a template, that would be tantamount to something like no brains + more testosterone please).

Here's a nice interview with Dave Gibbons, the man who drew Watchmen, and his reactions to the upcoming film. I have to say, it's pretty heartening to hear him talk about it so enthusiastically, although there's the possibility that with Alan Moore ditching rights to the franchise as far as the film is concerned, Gibbons will be getting a bigger piece of the pie.

However, there's this really nice (and admittedly old) video of Alan Moore and his take on why his comics (or most good comics, in general) can't be turned into movies. Check his blood-curdling reading of one of Rorschach's journal entries in the middle:

I find it curious that the man who did the visuals on the comics agrees with the movie whilst the man who was behind the storytelling doesn't. I think that that's a very important aspect of why Moore disregards attempts to cinematize his works as second-rate and outrightly stupid.

Ahhh, writers. There's no pleasing them.


The other day, I started working on a post that was inspired by two news stories that re-instated my faith in the common man.

1. the first story was about this Israeli who pretty much fisted Dell over for a hundred or so dollars just because he was asserting his rights as he had read in the fine print of Dell's end-user license agreement. You can read the full story here.

2. the second story here tells us of a man who spent a hellish ordeal inside his Hummer for over fourteen hours just to make a point, the point being that Mexican police (not unlike our Pinoy locals) were corrupt to the core.

And since it IS morning and I haven't slept a wink despite the scotch, I am going to turn in.

Friday, December 05, 2008

What the Hell, Bro


I was doing a little bit of research in PhilMusic and the Yupangco forums when I came upon a really interesting thread in the former discussing why the general rock n' roll community had this tendency to look down upon the musical genre / niche emo. I know shoegaze is fast becoming the trend in the pop music scene (and along with emo, I have a pretty strong dislike for it), but the fact remains that emo was bashed by not one, not five, but almost all of the resident rock cultures from dreampop (the precursor of shoegaze, bitchez) to prog metal, so this was a rather intriguing topic.

After all, emo is still a form of music, and PhilMusic is the melting pot of Pinoy music on the 'net.

But the one thing that not even that admittedly educated discussion thread could do for me was establish the roots of emo and emocore, so I did the next best thing and checked Wikipedia.

Near the bottom part of the entry on emo, there was this short paragraph that caught my attention:

Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance stated in an interview that "emo is a pile of shit", and that his band was never emo.[30] Panic at the Disco also stated in an interview with NME: "emo is bullshit."[31] These two bands, however, tend to be classified as emo.

What. The. Hell. Bro.

Honestly speaking, I don't really mind emo, but I wasn't exposed to it much so I never really could make an educated opinion - all I know is that My Chemical Romance and Dashboard Confessional both sounded horrible. This dude I used to work with in Outblaze, though, played music from bands like Saosin and Coheed and Cambria so much that I eventually took the time to listen and found that while these folks exhibited emo-ish qualities, the music was erudite and were something I could learn to like (That same dude, by the way, is copyright owner of the title I used for this post haha).

But MCR . . . meh. What little respect I had for them vanished with what I just read. After all, everybody with even a little bit of gray matter knows that the band is known for being what could probably be the biggest emo band on the planet. How the hell could the vocalist say something so fake and poseur and sleep well at night?

Well, enough with that. Back to work for me.

[ segue: The fun thing about Wikipedia is that it has shown me twice now that two of the current pop trends in music (emo and shoegazer) were both established way before the 90's, and in a sense were the underground forms of musical art whilst classic, glam and grunge paraded their way through the airwaves, and it's rather comforting to know that before all the drama, the attention, the brouhaha, they were honest-to-goodness musical expressions that weren't marketable (haha). ]

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mind Fart


When I think, I write. When I write, I am forced to think.

It's a rather vicious cycle.

I just finished re-reading Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and despite having read a plentitude of the man's works, I still have to say that this is his pinnacle.  The plight(s) of two nameless protagonists whose stories converge as the novel draws to a close is both heartwarming and, at the same time, heartbreaking, and works like a strong depressant injected straight to the jugular.

I have this habit of sitting down and staring into space after reading a particularly thought-provoking book, and twice now has Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World affected me in this manner. But the one thing I love most about it is that it accepts death in the most dramatic of ways, with a cigarette inside a Toyota Carina, with Bob Dylan in the background and a slow and smooth slide to eternal slumber. Sweet and tasteful, but without all the drama.

Don't get me wrong. The tumultuous build-up of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's death and unceremonious burial in Amadeus is pretty impressive too. But the one thing I fear from death isn't the separation in itself, but the process in which the self separates from the body.

Everybody says that death due to old age is painless and dignified, but I remember the time when my grandmother was dying. It wasn't pretty at all. She would be clawing at the air in front of her, seeing things that we couldn't, and moaning. My sister said something that stuck itself to my head - if angels and demons really converged upon the body of a person on the throes of death, waiting to collect the spoils after separation, then that was probably how it would look like.

Death in your sleep, while you're young and strong is an awfully chic way to go. In a way, it sounds good, but I don't buy it, in the same way I don't go for iPods or shoegaze - or even Sony Ericssons. Mobile phone technology ended with the Motorola L6 for me, and the only step-up I would ever do in terms of cellular technology would either be an L7 (for the memory card) or a built-in communicator in my head. But then again, I don't want to live too old to the point where people will have to take care of me, but they say that this is the ultimate test of the human humility these days. Humbling yourself enough to require help is the yardstick for a person's pride.

But what if you instead make up for it while you're young? Ask for help at every twist and turn of life. There's a small chance that if you use up your dignity debt while young, you won't have to go through it when you're a septegenarian. But this still doesn't mean you die pain-free.

Sometimes, I envy Chewbacca. The ole wookie was crushed by a bloody moon, and R.A. Salvatore was threatened with the pain of death by millions of outraged fans, but that isn't the point - his death was heroic, instantaneous, and possibly pain-free. I don't know if I'll be that lucky myself.

A friend of a friend once tried to do away with life by drinking poison. Fortunately, the person decided to taste-test the medicine first. It was then concluded that poison tasted horrible, and that person ended up with a horrible stomach-ache for a month.

Heath Ledger overdid his research and preparation for his role as Joker, made a mistake with the drugs he was setting up for himself, and overdosed.

Kenneth Pinyan died after having anal sex with a horse. The animal's schlong in his anus resulted in a perforated colon.

This post will die with this sentence.