Thursday, January 31

Consequences of doing a crime show: you browse through the news or hear of a blood-curdling story of creative dismemberment or violence against a fellow person and you start thinking "Happy! It'd make great fodder for the show."

Exempli gracia, this story of a British fireman killed in a dispute over neighborhood kids playing football. Apparently, the suspect got hideously annoyed over some kids who repeatedly kicked balls against their walls. Amazing how repeated exposure can render you wired for any sort of violence happening around you.
Just got home after spending day trekking through the slums of Manila doing research for next project. One group of little boys approached our van after seeing the network logo and the camera. They were mugging it in front of the camera guy. Then after posing, some of the boys said:

"Rugby boys po kami. Pahingi namang pang-jamming."

An extortion attempt from boys as young as six for rugby money. What can you say to that?

It's a dangerous job, doing crime dramas. Something that definitely, seriously looms in the air especially when we go to the dangerous parts of town: Kidnappers threaten to kill writer. The incident happened in Pakistan, but it can also happen anywhere.

I'm tired, I'm going to sleep. Still need to get up tomorrow for research trip part two. Our interviewee didn't show up. Ininjan kami. Tama ba yon? Argh.

Wednesday, January 30

Are you a fairy? (Do not snicker, please!)

My fairy name is Berry Demonwand. I'm a wicked and mischievous child, and I can only be seen when the seer is holding a four-leaf clover. If you need me, I'll just be hanging out at the bottom of tangled gardens and in hedgerows.
Apparently, Mark of Click Mo Mukha Mo is organizing a lunch thingie for some Manila-based bloggers this weekend. Hm, I really must iron out schedule. Why do I have to work? No, you don't have to answer.

My itinerary is full. I have tons of errands to do before I head off to my friend's house for a sleepover with the girls, the objective of which is to watch movies until we drop. At least that's how I understood the invite. If not that, Nicolle will delight us with her Japanese culinary skills. Yum. Or we can always talk, and talk and talk. The whole day disappears without your ever noticing.

Meanwhile, I'm doing online research for my brother's philosophy homework. Faith, atheism and other such stuff from Philo I. Bah. Their course description is different from what I'm accustomed though. It's all about logic and argumentation, a far cry from our Sophie's World freshman discussion. It's a choose the lesser evil thing. The last time my brother fiddled with my pc for his Harry Potter (ew!) book report, I got wiped out with a trojan. So I volunteered to do this, because I don't want him diddling with my computer while I'm away. Just getting the definition and other materials that might be relevant for him. Bah-humbug.

On the other hand, I really liked Jostein Gaarder. (I devoured his other books, but after The Christmas Mystery, the magic wore a little thin. It must be a phase.) Philosophy makes brilliant fodder for freshie pseudo-nihilist talk. Plus you can make use of Calvin and Hobbes for the class report. Yey, Jostein Gaarder!)

At dinner last night, my mother was telling me about how throngs of people lined up along the highway coming from Malacanang. Gloria Arroyo's convoy to the airport was due to pass by, and upon hearing that our district's representative (ugh!) Mark Jimenez was going to be there. People waited because they heard a rumor he'd be giving away one thousand peso bills. Really. So they waited, and waited until around past 8pm or so. When Gloria's convoy whizzed by, and upon seeing the multitudes waiting, Madame President rolled down her windows and waved. Waved. The crowd went whoop! and yehey! When she was gone, they walked away disappointed:

Mark Jimenez and his thousand peso bills didn't materialize.

They went home disappointed, and Gloria Arroyo thought the people were happy to see her off her London.

I live in an absurd world. I mean, Mark Jimenez is my congressional representative. Just shoot me. Now, please.
Can you predict the end of your writing career? Stephen King on retiring (at least for a couple of years):
That's it. I'm done writing books… You get to a point where you get to the edges of a room, and you can go back and go where you've been, and basically recycle stuff. I've seen it in my own work. People when they read BUICK EIGHT are going to think CHRISTINE. It's about a car that's not normal, OK? You say, 'I've said the things that I have to say, that are new and fresh and interesting to people.' Then you have a choice. You can either continue to go on, or say I left when I was still on top of my game. I left when I was still holding the ball, instead of it holding me.”
Uh-huh. I say he'll use the three years to recharge, then it's back to writing stuff along the lines of Hearts in Atlantis or something. Stephen King has written several mighty heart-stopping books, but I'm not a big fan of his novels. I rather like his four-novella collection Different Seasons. All the novellas (except Breathing Lessons) in that collection have been turned into films: The Body was made into Stand By Me (with my long dead spiritual honey-bunny River Phoenix); Apt Pupil with Brad Renfro; Shawshank Redemption. I also like the stories in Night Shift, and his meditation on the craft (witches! hehe) in On Writing. As for the others, they all sound the same to me.
I really have to check if the paracetamols I down are narcotic free or what. It’d really be much handier to sit in a meeting and actually contribute something relevant to the discussion. If not, it’d be better to just stay home, sleep off the drowsiness and then catch up on my reading.
Today's obituary: Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking -- and a friend's namesake passes away away at age 94.

Mrs. Lindgren began writing in the 1940s. Her energies weren't limited to children's literature. In addition to being a beloved cultural figure in Sweden, she was also a powerful political force, successfully lobbying on issues like tax reform and improved conditions for farm animals.

Tuesday, January 29

This morning, one of my many many aunts enthusiastically relayed to me an opening for a reporter of some sort to this newspaper.

“But they’re looking for someone with a degree in Journalism, and Mass Communication!”

“I’m not in Journ. I’m an English major – or was anyway.”

“But if you submit now, they’ll hire you in two weeks!”

“Uhm, thanks. But I already have a job.”

As if she didn’t know this before. She still insisted anyhow.

I don’t know why it is so hard for people to remember that I’m already done with college; and that I’m already working – for nearly two frigging years if I may add. Then there’s even the bigger confusion as to what degree I actually pursued: some aunts keep on telling everyone I was in Political Science, or Mass Comm. Those are more traditional (and recognizable) courses than say, Creative Writing. And so the misconception spreads ad infinitum unless I bother to correct them. It’s just tiring to do that everytime.

Sunday, January 27

Our neighbor is playing nonstop 70s music via a videoke cable channel or something. The Weather Girls, the Village People, Gloria Gaynor. It's like having the soundtrack of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on a loop. Not that it's a totally baaad thing...
Asterix de Gaul replaces Ronald McDonald as the franchise symbol in France. It's part of the "indigenization campaign" in order to sell more Big Macs not only to the French, but the Pakis, the Chinese -- everyone outside the cowboy American culture. You can also call it using the target market's own biases against them, or Cultural McDonaldization and the judo strategy of globalization:
Ironies abound, of course, since Asterix had been something of an anti-Mcdonald's icon, appropriated by anti-globalization protestors. Indigenizing" McDonald's has been a major component of adapting the brand to its global role — more of the company's earnings today come from abroad than from its U.S. outlets. As former McDonald's President James Cantalupo had said in 1991, the company's strategy was to make itself "as much part of the local culture as possible."

It's the protestors that take McDonald's to symbolize all that America stands for; the company's own marketers work to identify the brand with the tastes and cultural preferences of the target population. The general idea is to make the famously malcontented French youth (in their Levis and Nikes) feel comfortable stopping in for a Big Mac on their way home from an anti-American demonstration.
I wonder if we're going to have to do the same here. If they wanted to, protesters could have started years ago, right after the local McDo franchise took away the milkshakes. But the way people are here, it's more of us assimilating cheeseburgers and mcflurries in our daily diet than fighting to have a McPalabok on the menu. It's a dichotomy of multinationals in our economy: McDonald's vs. Jollibee; GMA Network vs. ABS-CBN; Coke vs. Pepsi (although Pop is proving to be a strong contender).

It's the way things are. One or the other. And off the top of my head, I cannot think of an icon to replace the leery old clown. (Personally, I have strong aversions towards grown men in make up and huge shoes) How about Jollibee? But nah, I've never been a big fan of fastfood.
That's it, I'm really going to kick myself for missing Under the Sand and the rambunctious Charlotte Rampling. I hope it'll show up in the next film festival that comes around.
Am up unusually early. The delivery guys from Our Home came with my computer table. So I had to get up and re-arrange stuff to check if the set-up is correct. I'm still sore all over. Blame the softball club. Argh.

Saturday, January 26

Here's something I would have bought if I had the money. Or maybe I would have to settle for something that costs a little less.

Is digital the way to go? It sure would be handier to edit at home, and it wouldn't cost as much if you really would like to make practice films. But since I don't have the money to splurge at the moment, they will remain there, on my wishlist.

Stephen Holden of the New York Times reviews American Adobo:
"The [film] becomes an overwrought metaphor for group dynamics and cultural assimilation. And as the film loses its grip on its multiple stories, the title begins to suggest an overheated stew bubbling out of its pot. By the end of the film, the intersecting dramas and histrionic performances have spilled all over the floor, so to speak."
He also notes the film's tendencies for indulging in sitcom situations, gags which at best can give a few seconds of giggling but eventually feel like the contrivances that they really are.

The food-as-metaphor has been used over and over again. Ang Lee's Eat-Drink-Man-Woman, Laura Esquivel's Como agua para chocolate, The Joy Luck Club, Woman on Top. Is it a coincidence that those movies are from the third world cinemas, with lots of room for alternate realities and magic realism. Each of those movies had its own strength and weaknesses. The thing with American Adobo is that the vignettes of their lives are strewn together, and the only thing tying them together is their adobo dinners and the fact that they're all Pinoys living in America. It's a done deal. I'm not saying it's a bad movie, but merely too self-indulgent. Speaking of which, my two cents on the movie got a comment that's even lengthier than the review itself.

How would you like to have fossilized jellyfish on your bathroom floor? They could have ended up as tile ornaments (or maybe in our electric power plants, feh) had the scientists not found them first in a quarry in Wisconsin. Jellyfish have no durable body parts, and thus they don't really make good fossils, which is why finding this particular load from 510 million years back is like finding gold in your bathroom, or backyard.

After five seasons on MTV, Daria Morgendorfer bids farewell:
"Stand firm for what you believe in until or unless logic and experience prove you wrong. Remember, when the emperor looks naked the emperor is naked. The truth and a lie are not sort of the same thing. And there's no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can't be improved with pizza."
The rest of this sad and sick world will never be the same.
What the? One of my e-mailboxes got filled to the brim with a gazillion forwarded messages. It all came from this one guy who may or may not soon be hosting the health/beauty/fashion segment in the network's morning program. He sure is clicker happy.
More than anything, this week has turned up to be Meeting up with long lost friends week. Played softball this afternoon at the Sunken Garden. Or rather, we did some catching and throwing, and a few turns at the bat. Only a handful turned up for the game, not even enough to form a whole thing. I exerted more physical effort in one afternoon for the longest time. I must be the worst ball player ever: bad coordination, can't run that fast, can't pitch decently. But yeah, we had some fun. The girls and I are planning for a sleepover next week. Hope I can make it.

Batian portion po muna: Hello to Nicolle, the strongest link to so many people out there and she wasn't even aware of it. Hello to Belle and Kat. And Jane, dropped by your site. I didn't even see your note until yesterday. Hello hello hello out there.

Friday, January 25

It’s been a busy week for movie watching. I also saw Lino Brocka’s Orapronobis last Wednesday. Now here’s a film that I had no idea whatsoever how it’ll turn out. All we knew going in was that Lino Brocka directed it, and Phillip Salvador and Bembol Roco were in it.

I didn’t know what the word Orapronobis meant exactly. (The international title “Les Insoumis” means Fight For Us?). It was about a group of vigilantes in the post-Edsa, Cory Aquino-led era of the late 80s. The vigilantes claim to be established by the people, for the people’s protection against the rebel left. But they choose no one in their cruelties: peasant, innocent citizen, suspected rebel. The vigilantes are being coddled by people from the military.

It’s a film heavy with political implications, but it doesn’t suffer character conflict and story. You have a clear sense of what the film is about, who these people are and why we should bother knowing how things turn out for them. (Interestingly, the military guy here is also played by Joel Lamangan, as was in Hesus, Rebolusyonaryo.)

Wonderful performances by everyone. This film has Phillip Salvador in his pre-trying hard to be an action star mode. I think the body of work he came up with before his action star (and Kris Aquino) phase was much more interesting. Witness the Phillip Salvador in Karnal (which contains my favorite decapitation scene and full blown Oedipal conflict), Jaguar, Bayan Ko and Ang Tatay Kong Nanay. He gave more effective performances in them as an actor, as opposed to the affected acting he sported in his heroic, swashbuckling latter incarnations, imho.

Also, my friend Astrid and I are trying to figure out two more things:
A. In which film did Bembol Roco start to be credited as such and not as Rafael Roco, Jr?
B. When did he turn bald?

We have this theory that once he lost his hair, he ceased to be Rafael and started to be Bembol, and then simultaneously started playing the supporting actor, evil guy roles he has now been relegated to playing. Can somebody out there clear this up?

[Another check with the Imdb reveals that he was credited as Rafael only in some films, like Maynila and Merika, and then just as Bembol in the next. Also, there is a Fritz Lang movie called American Guerilla in the Philippines, aka I Shall Return. The summary goes: American G.I.s help against invasion of the Philippines. Doesn't that sound familiar?]
I met up with my college buddies a week ago, and since we were still waiting for another friend, we had lots of time to shoot the breeze. For some reason, our conversation turned to comic books and anime. I really don't know that much about comic books or graphic novels. As a kid, I read Funny Comics secretly because my mother never really allowed them in the house. I never really watched that much television either. I have vague remembrances of She-Ra (I bought books about them then, can you imagine?), Visionaries, AstroBoy, the Saturday Fun Machine. I never really learned how to ride a bike either. So you can imagine how depraved I was as a kid. I liked to read though: Ray Bradbury and Tarzan of the Apes and Edith Hamilton's Mythology. And I also watched a lot of Sesame Street.

Then in college, it occured to me that I knew zilch about them. Amid all the pop culture conversations I felt alienated and somehow sad that I couldn't remember who the leader of the Transformers were. We all lived our childhoods in Manila in the 80s, but somehow I wasn't in the same continuum as they all were. I was out of sync. All I have are blurred memories and snippets of noon time show dialogues which even then annoyed me to death. Imagine three hours of GMA Supershow with Kuya Germs and the Bellestar Dancers on Sunday afternoons while my mother waited for Lovingly Yours, Helen. No wonder I just buried my nose in books.

I once had a science-fiction class which successfully put me into snooze mode. I don't know if it was all the conversations about dragons, but I definitely learned that I knew jackshit about sci-fi, or at least, my peak hours weren't between 1-2.30 in the afternoon. But we would have film viewings. In between screenings of Metropolis and Blade Runner we had Ghost in the Shell and something about a boy travelling on a train to the planet Matel. (See, I have a really bad time remembering titles.) And Hayao Miyazaki's My neighbor Totoro and a bunch of other cool stuff. Anime wasn't just about Sailor Moon anymore, it was a whole new film medium with its own interesting history and sociopolitical explanations. Anime is the Japanese Cinema's Second Golden Age, after Kurosawa and Ozu. You can read about more about anime in this article which appeared in the New York Times.
A symposium/discussion of sorts followed the screening of Hesus, Rebolusyonaryo this afternoon at the UP Film Center. The panel included writer/director Lav Diaz was there, cast members Ronnie Lazaro and Joel Lamangan, PDI columnist Rina Jimenez-David, Prof. Miriam Coronel and writer Krip Yuson.

Mostly everyone in the panel and those in the audience who were old enough to participate or be first hand witnesses to the First Quarter Storm commented that the film effectively evoked memories of Martial Law. The film is supposed to take place eight years into the future. And in 2011, the Philippines will be ruled by a military junta. There is a scene where people caught outside after curfew hours are forced to sing the national anthem. If you can't remember the words right, you can get killed, mauled, or be one of the desaparecidos. It is a dim and nearly hopeless scenario: two Edsa Revolutions not withstanding, we are doomed to forever repeat the same mistakes and end up with curtailed democracy.

History is a pattern we are all doomed to repeat. That theme seemed quite clear to me -- the song by The Jerks doesn't cease to remind us of it. We are not in the Philippines; we are actually living out the myth of Sisyphus. Hesus, Rebulusyonaryo exists in the realm of myth. All the characters are symbolical and stand for something else. Hesus is a rebel-slash-poet-slash-musician. He has an anthology of poems called Mga Tula ni Ybarra (or something like that -- I can't remember the exact title anymore). When somebody higher up in the revolution orders him to kill his comrades because one of them is a spy for the other side, he does so with the candor of an epic hero. Walk, shoot, bang, and everyone falls dead. He manages to get wounded and ends up in a coma, and the military man Simun saves him, on the condition that Hesus join him and the junta. Their end goal is the same. Ybarra, Simun. Somebody call in Father Damaso.

What bothers me about this movie is not the explicitness or the depiction of rightist-leftist-military junta politics but the passiveness with which the characters, especially Hesus, accept the ideologies presented to him. Ronnie Lazaro tells Hesus to kill his cell group. Sure. You must do this, you must go into the middle of the lake and talk to me. There are no questions, just go. Ideology is almost a religion.

For something that takes place in Manila, 2011, the film doesn't present a sense of time and place. Manila is forever encrypted in darkness, the streets are empty of people and full of trash. It prompted writer Krip Yuson to ask if that was a Blade Runner sort of thing -- all the people have moved away. Of course it can be explained by logistics and budget: most of the exteriors have been shot in the dead hours of the night, eliminating the need for extras and crowd scenes, and also by the fact that there is a curfew and people aren't allowed to venture out. The place reeks of decay, but you still want to ask -- where are all the people?

In the film, Hesus is just around my age, in his early twenties. He wasn't alive during the Martial Law, nor was he old enough to be in the Edsa Revolution of 1986. But he was living in a time and space in which the conditions are almost the same, but as one panelist noted, through the passage of time, the left must have shifted to the right, the right to the left of center. Where is he situated then? What position should he push for? But Hesus is a blank who follows blindly, who only listens to what the Ronnie Lazaro has to say. We have no idea as to what motivates Hesus to go up the mountains, to do the things that he does, to justify all the killings. We do not know what is in his head. Mark Anthony wears an impenetrable scowl, and spends a lot of the film's running time horizontal, presumably pondering his existence. In his thoughts, we are shown images of a field. And in the middle of a field, amid the light drizzle, lies an equally immobile Donita Rose. We later learn that she is blind and cannot hear anything. Immediately, one asks: then why was she lying in the middle of a field? When in the end of the film, Mark Anthony fetches her and they go into the mountains, does that mean that this is a film about the passive leading the blind?

The artist's argument is that a work of art can be ambiguous, and the artist need not explain his or her work, nor the meaning be made immediately available to the audience. Here lies the dilemma: cinema and film lies in the realm of the public. Film is a mass medium. Although I'm not asking for the film maker to bring down his art for it to be palatable to the masses, there is such a thing as a solid story and character motivation. Most of the comments and points raised by the members of the audience dwelled on this. Is it okay to forsake plot and character in favor of theme and polemics?

It's like the case of Bagong Buwan all over again. The film doesn't have characters but symbolisms of the ideology it wants to put forward. In Bagong Buwan, it's not about the young Muslim warrior and the Christian kid, it's about two religions becoming friends and creating a common ground. Hesus, Rebolusyonaryo is more of a treatise on the dissipating cultural memory than a film with flesh and blood characters.

It's a challenging movie, one that makes you think and squirm not just from the polemics, but the sheer heavy-handedness of it all. It's just so damn slow. There are entire stretches with no dialogue, and nothing much happening. There is no business going on except for what is inside Mark Anthony's brain and we aren't even allowed to see that. I thought director Gil Portes would finally say something about it when he quoted Martin Scorsese: "It is the film maker's business not to bore his audience for the two hours he sits through a film." Hesus Rebolusyonaryo isn't even two hours long, but it felt like an eternity.

Thursday, January 24

If you have time and the penchant for watching movies that are off center, please drop by the UP Film Center and check out the premiere for Lav Diaz's Hesus Rebolusyonaryo this afternoon at 3pm:

It is the year 2011, the government is ruled by a military junta. The Philippines has been under a state of martial law for a number of years. The economy is dead and the country's future is uncertain. The situation had seen the birth of an underground rebellion that hopes to regain power over the government and restore freedom.

This is the story of Hesus Mariano, a young and idealistic revolutionary who is acknowledged as one of the best in what he does.
Forming the core of rebel leader Miguel Reynante's best cell. Hesus and his companions are the masters in pushing for a radical change in society, whether through education, economics or violence.

Off the top of my head, I cannot remember seeing a futuristic Pinoy film. This isn't science fiction or anything close to it, it reads more like a post-apocalyptic treatise on society. A symposium with the director follows the screening. Lav Diaz previously directed Kriminal ng Baryo Concepcion, Burger Boys, Hubad sa Ilalim ng Buwan, and the five-hour movie on the Filipino experience in America Batang Westside.

Tuesday, January 22

There was (again) a Luzon wide power failure today which lasted all of six hours and paralyzing everything from mass transit and the vertical travel of building employees everywhere. I was trying to lessen my neglected emails load, then the computer just went kaput. I didn’t know the whole island was affected then. So I went out of the house already, and proceeeded to the network to pick up a friend before heading to the UP Film Center. The traffic was awful and when I got there, we had barely an hour before the screening. I rushed into the building, flashed the ID, ran into the elevator banks and got into one just as the door was closing. I was in a hurry, and eight storeys up does merit the use of an elevator. Then within ten seconds there was a thud and we stopped. Right there between the second and third floors.

Now my first reaction would be to curse the darn electric company for being so inefficient and treating us to survivoresque situations when I have no inclinations whatsoever to take part in reality television. (A camera guy got stuck with us, and he filmed what was happening most of the time.) Being trapped in an elevator is not my favorite form of past time.

Immediately, scenes from my two favorite elevator movies came to mind. One was Louis Malle’s L’ascenseur pour l’echafaud, or A Lift to the Gallows (1958), with the totally divine Jeanne Moreau. It was a thriller about a murder and suicide attempt gone wrong, with the murderer ending up getting stuck inside an elevator. Then there’s Combat de Fauves, or Wild Games from last October’s Cine Europa. (Combat de Fauves was made in 1998, but has the same look and feel as the Louis Malle movie.) A workaholic advertising guy gets stuck in an elevator in a building where he's trying to find an apartment and ends up spending 3 gruelling days stuck there playing mind games with the building’s equally crazy owner. The experience of just watching those guys trying to get out but couldn’t, and add the mental torture of people out there, who are free to move and go to the bathroom as they please, just didn’t appeal to me.

Elevators are such cramped spaces that the reflex reaction would be to get out. There is a limited amount of air. You cannot preen in front of a mirror unless it has reflective surfaces. No food, no drink – unless you came in there armed with army provisions. If there are no escape hatches, the only next logical reaction would be hysteria.

Fortunately, one of my elevator fellows works with the security and maintainance people. They had to manually pull the elevator so it would land exactly at the elevator banks and they would try to pry the doors open. I think there were two guys who went to the very top of the building and pulled the weight equivalent of a small elephant. It took them all of twenty minutes.

I think I shall be climbing up the stairs all the way to the ninth floor for sometime following this, or at least wait for the non-glitch elevator.

Monday, January 21

Somebody noted that the LOTR is said to be a boy's adventure tome. Even Arwen, the Liv Tyler character's role in the Peter Jackson movie has been rewritten in such a way to expand exposure, character, and possibly to provide a romantic interest for I-am-still-not-king Aragorn. With that in mind, some people came up with The Very Secret Diaries of the Fellowship of the Ring. All the homoerotic tension going on have been voiced: Legolas is an airhead, but a very pretty one. And there's also some hobbit fetishes thrown in. Very funny, yeah.

The Editing Room has quite a different version of things altogether. I hereby present you with Lord of the Rings: The Abridged Script:



DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON sits, on the phone with a

So, I was tossing this idea around.
Maybe I should make films out of
the Lord of the Rings tril--

(breaking down the door)
LORD OF THE RINGS?!?!?! Finally! A
well-done, realistic, immersive
film version of the best trilogy of
overly long books ever!

Well, I was just thinking abo--

You know who would make an awesome
Gandalf? Ian McKellen!

Uh, yeah, well, that's a good idea,
I gue-

Oh, I can't wait! I'm going to
generate an ungodly amount of hype
for this movie for the next few
years! I'm sure you won't
disappoint us!


Wow, I feel a lot of pressure. How
can I possibly create a film as
good as any book in the wonderful
Lord of the Rings trilogy? What am
I going to do?

DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON proceeds to sit down with the
trilogy and translate each page into screenplay format,
word by word.

Yes! I will make the most loyal
movie based on a book in the
history of the cinema! Nobody will
be able to say the book was better
then! Ha ha ha!

More parallel universes: There is also a hypothetical, what if Kevin Smith directs the Council of Elrond. Jay and Silent Bob and all the usual suspects will be the fellowship, with lots of weed and fart jokes, and maybe an Alanis Morissette cameo thrown in. Think of it as Dogma in Middle Earth.
I am still very wide awake. I hope this has nothing to do with my chugging down 2 mugs of coffee from Saturday. I have turned into a tea or juice person in the mornings, and had not touched a drop of coffee for three weeks running prior to Saturday. Trouble sleeping, darn. Started fiddling with Photoshop and attempted to make a template for the blog's new look. But it will probably take me eons before I learn how to properly do the code and other graphic design stuff.

And it is pretty quiet for a fiesta weekend. No more karaokes blaring before midnight. My neighbors have newfound decency. Whoa.
The Edsa Dos anniversary celebration was yesterday, and it didn't really make as much noise as I hoped so. It only propels the theory that we Pinoys have short term memories, and perhaps short term goals. I have no illusions of a great miracle taking place one year after Edsa. Just look at our track record: a centennial plus years after the Spaniards have been booted out, fifteen years after the first Edsa, a year after Erap Estrada, and we are still in the same miserable state that we've been in since forever.

Entrails reader and I both have essays about Edsa Dos which appeared in peyups just several days apart. His is an excerpt from his journal, mine is just a bunch of questions and exasperated whining at our failure to really get our act together. Differences: Entrails reader has a much better grasp of Filipino than I do, and I usually write my stuff in English. But since I am on an experimentation mode, I ranted in Filipino, and his collected thoughts are in English.

Just go read the essays already.

Thursday, January 17

I messed up my archives page. It's supposed to have the same look as the main blog page, but now there's just a stark white page and not much else. Hm.

Wednesday, January 16

I figured out how to post to the project, but there's still a lot of work to be done. I really hope we can all sit down and discuss this on Friday. Meanwhile, I'm fiddling with my blog's template. Nuninuninu...
Last night, while waiting for my work-related workshop to start, watching the tv news and having nothing to do, I called up entrails reader. We're supposed to have this so-called brilliant scheme of a website. We really haven't met up yet with the rest of the team to discuss the project in a tangible physical plane. All the exchanges have been done via email, and not like say, with everyone present in the same place, at the same time. In place of that, entrails and I thought we can have a blog for the sole purpose of chronicling our efforts. Kind of like "the making of a blog."

But as it is right now, I cannot even post to the blog. Blogger is asking me for our password and I dunno what it is. I am invited to a club that wouldn't have me as a member. Brilliant.

Tuesday, January 15

I realize that we're almost halfway through January, but what the heck. Here's further proof that I have no life.

Movie List for 2001

Vertical Limit
Meet the Parents
Emperor's New Groove
Balahibong Pusa
Little Nicky
The Sixth Day

What Women Want
Cast Away
Nurse Betty
Woman on Top

Erin Brockovich
The Wedding Planner
Miss Congeniality
Sa Huling Paghihintay
Billy Eliott
The Full Monty
Save the Last Dance
The Frighteners
Almost Famous

Comrades, Almost a Love Story
The Gift
Sweet November
Fight Club
The Beach
Requiem for a Dream
Pagdating sa Dulo

If these walls could talk 2
Sugar and Spice
American Beauty
Mighty Aphrodite
The Birdcage

Le gout des autres
A matter of taste
Place Vendome
Code inconnu
Pearl Harbor
Buhay Kamao

In the mood for love
Romeo + Juliet
Time and Tide
Damong Ligaw
La Nuit des Varennes
Interview with the Vampire
Dr. Dolittle

Anak Maynila
Girl of my Dreams

Legally Blonde
The Fifth Element
Red Diaries
Not One Less
Bridget Jones's Diary
Purely Belter
Moulin Rouge
Love's Labours Lost
Hotel Splendide
Saving Grace

Bakit di totohanin
But I'm a Cheerleader
Rush Hour 2
Original Sin

America's Sweethearts
Bye Bye Blue Bird
Ma petite entreprise
Wild Games
Flowers from Another World
The Christmas Oratorio
Suzie Washington
Night Shapes
American Pie 2
Dos Ekis
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Love Inventory
Mrs. vs. Miss
Song of the Siren
The One
Magdusa Ka
Sana Pag-ibig Na

Monsters, Inc.
Iron Ladies
Jan Dara
Nang Nak
Dream Girl
Four Fathers
Bagong Buwan

Not included in the list are movies watched on cable on the various trips out of town, those viewed on television, some short films whose titles I forgot, and I may have left out several films because the viewing experience was so bad my brain has blocked all memories pertaining to them. (I almost forgot to put in The Sixth Day and Pearl Harbor -- unfortunate that I can still recall watching them. Argh.)

Sunday, January 13

Wes Anderson digs through Francois Truffaut's pockets for small change in "From Truffaut's Centimes, a Wealth of Inspiration." The article is part of the "watching movies with" series from the New York Times. Wes Anderson is the sort of guy who picks a movie to watch, and tells you that he doesn't know why he chose it, and then spends the next three hours explaining the nuances which he so liked in the movie.

His latest movie The Royal Tenenbaums, about a family of depressed geniuses, the concept for which he said in Premiere was inspired by Salinger's Glass family. Yeah, and Rushmore is sort of like Holden Caulfield but not entirely? Will Wes Anderson's next movie be called "Pull down the ship's hull, boatmakers?"
Hurray, I finally figured out why my ancient junk of a machine refused to play my videos for like an eternity already. In my aforementioned trip to Greenbelt, I got myself a disk of The Sims. I loaded it, and then there was...nothing. A void. No light, no sound, no industrial light and magic. (Hehe.) I've been thinking that maybe the videocard got busted, so I trouble-shooted my way through it. Finally after many many tries, I was rewarded with a revolving 3D cube. And so now you can--

Sing all you like, sing all you like, sing all you laaahaaayyyk.

Another guilty pleasure: I was stuck in front of the tube yesterday, suffering through all the half-assed production numbers because I was waiting for Barbie of Barbie's Cradle. I caught the ads for her appearance sometime during the week. By the time Saturday rolled around, everyone at the house became a walking PDA. My brothers were telling me, "Hoy, ngayon kakanta sina Barbie." And I got up just before noon, and even my mother was like--never mind.

The noon time show's theme for last Saturday was wild wild west, and everyone was sporting cowboy hats and checkered shirts and generally getting jiggy with everything. It turns out the band wasn't there, just her. It was an acoustic segment with the girl soloists from several other bands and Aiza Seguerra. Though fan girl that I am, I missed the b.c. concert at the Music Museum because the prospect of several hundred people singing "Pagdating ng Panahon" totally revolted at the time. Plus I had some other things to do, so when I was finally free to watch the repeat, tickets were all sold out. Oh well. There will be other times.

And so after spending several months on my desk, I get to view the free VCD that came with the repackaged album. Yey! I can now sing all I like.

I'm such a fan girl.

Saturday, January 12

My tonsils are in danger of falling out. Just came back from a friend's birthday. I'm still reeling from the drunk punk version of "Ang Huling El Bimbo." The horror, the horror.

It seems like Libis is the gimik place of choice for people now, judging from the traffic and the difficulty for circling around for a parking spot. However, Eastwood City in Libis has the atmosphere of a theme park. Everyone is either walking or lounging around in outdoor tables. Kind of like cafes, although not exactly European. (You know how there are tables with umbrellas on them inside the malls? What's there to hide from? The UV rays from the nonfunctioning exhaust fans?)

It also jarred me to almost crash, and I mean crash, against my college professor's table. Imagine, him out there in a gimik place. He has friends! He has a life! Whoa.
A friend of mine recently lost her mobile phone after a hold-up in broad daylight. You would really be surprised at the casualness with which these robberies occur. It could be the well-dressed teenager beside you on the jeep, or a woman seemingly dozing off. Which reminds me that I have my phone for exactly one year now. I lost my first phone December 2000, on a waiting shed outside a mall while I waited for the street lights to change. Whoever stole it didn't poke a knife at me, s/he simply stuck his/her hand inside my bag. The moment you realize you don't have it anymore, you look around you, trying to identify a suspect. But everyone is rushing off in different directions, and there really aren't any cops to ask help from. It's gone, never to be seen ever again. And I only had that phone for a month. Darn.

I don't have the same luck with backpacks. A month ago, I discovered that my bright purple pack had a huge gush on its pocket. Not so big as to get something, but it really pisses me off. It happened to me twice already. Even with all the precautions you take, a single unguarded can cause you your valuables. Or maybe I just don't have that much luck with that particular kind of bag. Or maybe I should just be thankful that I escaped from the ordeal unhurt? Something in me just doesn't agree with that. I worked hard and paid good money for my stuff, and somebody just comes along and takes it. Absurd, absurd life.

Friday, January 11

I watched a movie called Happy End over at Greenbelt the other day. It's a Korean movie, I think, with Asian actors and such. But the marquee and a title search at IMDb gives me several results which doesn't seem to fit with the movie I actually saw.

What I watched was a domestic drama: a thirtysomething Asian guy in a nice suit spends a lot of his time reading at a second hand book and magazine shop, reading entire books and not buying them, to the annoyance of the shop attendant. He does the groceries and picks up the baby from day care and heads home. He doesn't have a job and is then designated as house husband. Meanwhile, a woman and a blandly cute and bespectacled and tousle-haired Asian guy are getting it on, and how. They seem to defy the limitations of space and human anatomy, contorting themselves into almost impossible positions in the pursuit of satisfying libidinal urges.
Spectacled Guy and Wall Girl had a romantic past: SG kept all her letters, and he has more pictures of her, filling entire albums and using rolls and rolls of Polaroids. Then they head their separate ways and Wall Girl comes home to Mr. House Husband.

Wall Girl chides her husband for taking it easy, for not seemingly being interested in getting another job. There is the conflict of who wears the pants in this house. And even more interestingly, who wears pants and then takes them off rather quickly. The affair gets rather steamy. Spectacled Guy wants his lover to leave the husband and settle a life for "their" family. More and more, Wall Girl forsakes her family to be with her former boyfriend. She even goes to the length of drugging her baby to meet up with him. It is the husband who goes all worried for his always tired wife, the sick baby. Then he discovers the key. The husband seems to know about his wife's past relationship with Spectacled Guy.

When the husband discovers the infidelity, the movie takes the way of the film noir, though not entirely dark. He plots his revenge against the lovers. The husband receives notice for a funeral of a former teacher. The husband asks a friend of his to drive him to the train station, ostensibly to attend the funeral. He charges into the love nest, and combs the place for evidence that the forensic experts would surely find. He then discovers the abundance of pictures, and he goes through them with the pain of learning that there his wife has a far much greater love and lust interest other than him. Indeeed, the only time we see husband and wife in bed together, he had to ask: "Is it any good?" One wonders why she even married him in the first place, if she so loved Spectacled Guy and was even pregnant by him. Was the husband a lackey then? Was the Spectacle Guy unwilling to marry her? It didn't seem like that at all.

The knowledge that his wife might soon leave him, even if she does try to make a valiant stand not to. When she goes home to her husband and tries to make conversation over dinner, making amends, trying to compensate for everything, one can see the guilt on her face, the herculenean effort to do the right thing. How can she help himself? Spectacled Guy is appetizing, his hair falls onto his face with just enough grace, and he can surely bring the house down. The rule she set for their affair, that they both treat it as a fleeting fancy, comes down like a house of cards.

Their inability to overcome and break the affair leads to their ruin. The way the film builds up to this, by presenting the husband as the wronged one and therefore he has the right to make them suffer, wears thin by movie's end. For one thing, the husband proves himself to be smart. He has piled up all the material evidence against Spectacle Guy, he has arranged for himself a brilliant alibi, and by presenting himself as the good house husband, the police will cast the motive for killing not upon him but on his rival.

The film maker piles all the cliches here. While he gets off appearing as the bereaved widower who must now raise "their" child alone, he still doesn't get away with it. In the film's last scene, we see the husband and their baby spooned together in sleep, on the floor facing the balcony. Daylight is starting to pour in, and the husband stirs from his sleep. He cradles the baby, thoroughly knowledgeable of his guilt. I'm not even sure if he realizes that the baby is not his, that while he has managed to get rid of the lovers, the baby that he treasures so fondly is still theirs. Oh well, the irony of it.

Happy End doesn't quite know what to do with itself: it starts out as a domestic drama, dabbles in tragic love story, and ends up a revenge motive light noir. There is nothing really remarkable with the story and the cinematography. It doesn't even cut it as a noir, there isn't enough atmosphere. It isn't the romance that the marquees hark it to be. The Happy End in the movie guide advertises a "new age romance." I'm not even sure if this is indeed the correct movie. All the Happy Ends in the IMDb don't say anything about forensics, or tired old cliches. The only thing common with them is that they all wanted something so badly but they either didn't get what they wanted, or they did get it, only to discover that it's not what they thought it would be. I only watched it because the only alternatives were Jinggoy and Juday's movie and Andrew E.'s. I haven't got that much of a choice, do I?
Hello, my hobbit name is Myrtle Bracegirdle of Hardbottle. *offers hand out* What's yours?

Really sorry. But I'm still in my LOTR redux mode.

Saturday, January 5

Somebody gave me "I & Claudius: Travels with my cat" for Christmas. It's part travelogue and inner introspection. The author, Brit Clare de Vries "dreamed of quitting her job and Thelma and Louise-ing it across the United States. Then one day, she did. Except that Louise was her 19 year old Burmese cat Claudius." Cats and backpacking. Neither of which I have or can do right now. Our cat Rafael, or Ping (ew!) as how my family called him, died two years ago. He was the last from his lineage of house cats. I want to have a cat again, and go backpacking -- although not necessarily in that order.

The backpacking thing I plan to do as soon as my schedule clears up. In all probability I will have to do it alone. I've been scouting around for good travel books around the Philippines. There's the 1999 edition of "26 Days Around the Philippines" by Carlos Libosada, but a lot of things have definitely changed since then. I am waiting for another edition of that. And of course the ever trusty Lonely Planet guides. I saw a copy of their Southeast Asian guide and it costs a good thousand bucks. Scream. I'm putting it on my wishlist for the moment.
Aw. Do I have to be Gandalf?

I want a session with Elijah Wood's dermatologist. The boy practically glows. He's freaking luminous while Gandalf has all those blackheads, and not a pimple on him after all the stress that the quest for destroying the ring brings into his life!

My brain is on non-critical thinking mode. That will do for now. And you thought I couldn't make all the mababaw comments. Ha.

Just got back from watching Lord of the Rings. Awesome! I haven't read any of the books -- yet. (I know, I know: geekness is not complete without it.) The film was comprehendable enough even when one hasn't read the books, although it sure did help that my friend Butch was on hand to explain the little details, and which scenes were or weren't in the book. In fact, I think Peter Jackson and his writers (one of them was his wife Fran Walsh) did a good job in making the story and the mythology available for the non-Tolkien fans. But if you really want to get into it deep, I suggest you get hold of the Tolkien books.
I pity the poor creature who ventures out there without her winter collection -- or at least a very warm jacket. Brr...