Tuesday, May 31

Asian Lesbians or Siths?

Nerve interviews first time filmmaker Alice Wu, who is being hailed as the poster girl for Asian-American lesbians with the debut of her film "Saving Face." Here's what she has to say on being gay and Asian: "I think a lot of people end up getting married and having kids because suddenly there's nothing to graduate from. One thing about coming out — your parents and Hallmark stop saying, 'You need to get married now.'"

When questioned by a male Canadian customs officer, Wu had to describe her opus as "an old-fashioned romantic screwball comedy." When the customs guy dismissed Wu's work as "chick stuff", Wu told him that he might think differently if he saw her lead actresses - "three beautiful women." The customs guy apparently considered this for a minute, then said, "I do like beautiful women. But no male leads? Where does the romantic part come from?" As though it's not possible to have a romantic comedy with an all girl cast.

I was reminded of this review I saw in a magazine that there's a smattering of Pinoy indie movies like Ang Lagusan (horrible) or that long winded movie (a little less horrible), and an entire selection of gay movies like Duda, Bathhouse, or Macho Dancer if you want to go back that far, but we hardly have anything about girls.

Which leads us to ask, "Yeah, where are all the girls?" Given a choice between girls or Siths, where will you throw your money?

Behind the Scenes with Direk Monski Elagra

So what if people are saying that Pinoy movies are dead or dying? Mechajol knows how important teeny bopper movies are to the development of Filipino culture: "Gaano man ka-cheesy ang mga projects ni direk Monski, medyo weird pa rin sa part ko, na interbyuhin ang taong responsable sa mga pelikulang nagpayaman sa mga stockholders ng Candida Notebooks. Ahhh... ang masasayang taon ng dekada '80... kapag sinabi ng teaher mong pass your notebooks, aalon sa classroom ang makikinang na mga ngiti ni Nikki Therese na naka-japorms pa ng acid wash na maong..."

Here's an excerpt from his talk with Direk Monski Elagra, director of the upcoming teen movie "Labs Kita! O Di Ba? Okey Ka Lang? Wakekekekekeke!!!" and how it's going to save the Filipino film industry:
Mechajol: Pero teka, sufficient ba na mag-rely sa kilig factor at sa artista lang? Most of the foreign movies kasi, have them, plus better quality and production...

Direk Monski: Mech, I've been doing this for how many years na..? Haay... Hahaha... Ang tanda ko na pala... Anyway, I've been doing this for a long time na! And the formula still works!

M: Formula over creativity... ang essence ng Tagalog movie production...

DM: Hey, if it ain't broke, why fix it? If it sells, why experiment? Di ba?
Monski Elagra is an oldtimer in the Pinoy film industry. He started as an editor in '80s Tagalog movies, and debuted as a director in the late '80s with his first teen love story, "Love, Never Say Goodbye, My Love..." produced by Harmony Films. This was also the launching movie of Luis Baylon, and the tragic "Starlet of the New Year" Nikki Therese.

Meanwhile, Mechajol blogs with Team Angas, and is also known as The TIN Boy.

Chuck P's Haunted Interview

Check out the trees. Go Portland!

In this interview with Chuck Palahniuk about his new novel Haunted, he analyzes his fascination with narration, both in literature and in culture, and the relationship between the two. He points out the power of the storyteller in our times: "..[W]hoever the final narrator of our times, our culture, may prove to be, that person or entity wields a power that is central but hidden. It is the power to define our times and our culture, the power to define our lives."

The interview is available in both mp3 and Real Audio, although be warned that they're quite hefty and raunchy. So if you're no big fan of strong words (all the usual cusswords) and you don't have a strong computer (file is 32mb), maybe this is not for you.

lets us see the view from the camera behind the camera.

This Just In...News from The Agony Column

Letting it fly

The Non-Experts at TMN presents 45 additional alternatives to Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover."

Singer-songwriter Paul Simon originally gave us just 5 ways, actually, if you follow the song's chorus: “slip out the back, Jack; make a new plan, Stan; you don’t need to be coy, Roy; hop on the bus, Gus; just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free."

Of the new list, I like:
44. Feed her to a shark, Mark
43. Harvest his kidney, Cindy
The rhyming gets a little stale afterwards, but still fun. Although if what you're after is the unmistakeable madness of your intent to break up, I think nothing still beats Weird Al Yankovic. Just consider the following lines from "You Don't Love Me Anymore":
You know, I even think it's kinda cute the way
You poison my coffee just a little each day
I still remember the way that you laughed
When you pushed me down that elevator shaft

Oh, if you don't mind me asking, what's this poisonous cobra
Doing in my underwear drawer?
Sometime I get to thinking you don't love me any more
Also, while I was doing my laundry and my music player was at random, The Corrs came up with that back to back anthem leading to the inevitable--"What Can I Do" followed by "I Never Loved You Anyway." I always thought that the placement of those two songs in the Talk on Corners album was just perfect. It moves from tired but still hopeful to dripping sarcasm. And I always did like sarcasm when it comes to burning bridges.

Friday, May 27

Gwen Punks a Prankster

Gwen of saturated text machine works for a big bad Western capitalist and spends her days and nights answering weird calls. But she pulls a fast one on this prankster who would only talk Shakespeare.
PC : No.I just want to read Shakespeare. Is that okay with you?
Me : I'm not really a fan of the classics. And if you're not making any reservation, I'd have to release the call now.
PC : Why, what's your high school GPA?
Me : (With a touch of confidence) 3.75!
PC : Ya kiddin' me. Whattya doin' on a telemarketer job with a 3.75 GPA?!!
Me : It's not telemarketing, It's Hotel.
PC : Where did you go to college?
Me : Columbia.
PC : Ya lyin' to me. You ain't goin to Columbia with a 3.75! No way!
Me : I did went to Columbia.
PC : So wanna hear Shakespeare?
ME : Nah, forget it. Come back when you hit Whitman. Have a nice day. Bye.
Whitman! Whitman's been getting a lot of bad rap already. Maybe you should go quote Mayer. Or beeter yet, Moore. Mandy Moore. Hehehe.

Thursday, May 26

With Mouth and Pants Wide Open

This really isn't the sort of news you want to hear especially when you're seeing a lot of your dentist these days: A former dentist accused of using syringes to
squirt his semen
into the mouths of female patients was sentenced to probation on seven assault charges Wednesday though he refused to say he was guilty.

Given that my dentist is prone to singing Side A, I just hope we don't get to Side B.

In other perv news, a man gets 20 jail days for stuffing a toy banana in his pants and flashing it to strangers. But get this--his banana had a smiley face on it. I guess the police did not appreciate that the man only wanted to say "have a nice day" in a different way.

Tuesday, May 24

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes sing "Candy Shop"

At any rate, Katie Holmes pledging to be a virgin till she gets married is more believable than Britney doing the same. Hehe.

I promise this will be the last post on this topic. And this pretty much sums up all the hoopla anyhow. Presenting
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes singing "Candy Shop" The Liquid Generation people should get lots of Tootsie Pops for that bit of Katie Holmes in her padlocked panties.

Want to say "weblog" in French ? Say Note Pad.

Loic le Meur informs us that we should stop saying "le blog" because the council has spoken.

Or rather, the Journal Officiel has given the official translation for the word "weblog": In French, it is "bloc notes," or literally, "note pad." The shortened version blog then translates to "bloc," meaning "pad."

Which also means that since everything in French is assigned a sexual dimension, the blog is masculine, i.e., "le bloc," the same way that the pen is masculine, i.e., "le stylo." Why is the blog a guy when it obviously can't hump anyone? I know, I know. It's all very confusing. So when you can't remember whether the blog is a guy or a girl, make like David Sedaris and go plural. Les blocs is just a notch up than a confused blog.

Oh well. You know how the French are. A bas des Freedom Fries. via.

Got any spare body parts to go?

If you have spare body parts you want to share, send them over to The Corpse Project, "a collection of visitor submitted images of the body."

I came across this site while padding around craigslist manila's "artists" category. The ad's subject line was "body parts sought" and the site itself did not really specify if the images have to be from a dead body. Besides, all the photos seem like warm flesh and blood to me. But I don't know. What do you think? Got any spare body parts to share? Hehe.

So far, that's the only interesting entry I've come across craigslist's manila presence although it's been up since this February, more or less ten years after Craig Newmark started his list in San Francisco in 1995. What started as a community based online classifieds expanded to 120 cities in 25 countries. You can read more about the site's history here.

In other cities, craigslists have been the source of very, very entertaining crusades, the place to go for hooking up or a chance to reconnect with that hot guy you were eyeing on the train. In the recent NYT article "Saw You, Want You," several missed connections postings have been turned into found poetry, wherein "[e]xcept for line and stanza breaks, they have been reproduced as they first appeared, and the titles were taken verbatim from the listings' subject headings."

In a lot of ways, The Corpse Project is like craigslist (or urban living for that matter) in a nutshell. I like the anonymity and the fact that this sort of thing can only happen in big, bad cities everywhere. It's like reading through all the graffiti written behind the doors of public restrooms or the pleas on bus seat covers of lonely people for "wanted sx/txtm8s."

Below is one of the found poems from the New York Times article.


you blue eyes and truck tee; me brown hair, flowered coat

last friday (april 22)
i was heading to dinner
with my sis
and val on
the A-C-E Uptown.

you stepped onto
the train
and were
with your semi-truck art tee
and corduroy blazer.

after some
intense eye contact
you whispered
and stepped off the train,
only to watch it pull away.

are you still out there?

Sunday, May 22

Joey Potter Does Cruise

Joey Potter and Frank TJ Mackey?! You got to be kidding me.

Romance, according to Leo Braudy, author of "The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History" and a professor of film history at the University of Southern California, is a "kind of exclusive focus on one person to the exclusion of the outside world." The tendency for couples is to have their own world, existing only for each other.

I suppose that's true for regular people, but even more so if the persons involved in the coupling are celebrities. "We hide, don't seek us please" is the motto, and when caught in the act, the mantra turns to "Deny everything."

That's why it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one feeling iffy about the entire Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise connection. Simply incredulous. Aside from the improbability that they have enough commonalities to date, they seem to be courting, and not avoiding, the media. There are more cynics than believers, as evidenced in a survey released by People magazine recently, in which 62% of those polled pronounced the romance as a publicity stunt.

In Mireya Navarro's article in the New York Times, she pointed out that the practice of inventing screen romances is already old hat, an industry staple. "The coupling of stars to create ballyhoo for a movie, burnish an actor's image, create a name or distract attention from other relationships may not be as common as when the movie studios tightly controlled stars' careers through the 1950's." Fake romances were arranged as a matter of course to hide secret affairs, or in the case of Rock Hudson, homosexuality.

It's mostly smokes and mirrors, as a romance is an almost foolproof way to land publicity. It's not a uniquely Hollywood practice, as the same marketing strategy is employed here in the Philippines, where movies as sold on the basis of the kilig factor and the loudness of shrieking emitted by fans. (I mean, just think Juday-Piolo, okay?)

But Peter Sealey, a former president for marketing and distribution for Columbia Pictures, who is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said that while stars may personally benefit from the higher profile a new love may bring - staged or otherwise - movies live or die on word of mouth, and "you want the focus on the movie."

Further more, he claimed that love relationships do not directly affect ticket sales. But on the other hand, it can also interfere with the suspension of disbelief that is still the goal for most movies. At this point, Sealey cited the monstrosity that was Bennifer. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's affair was so overplayed that their cinematic pairing, Gigli, suffered at the box office.

In the toggle between reality and fantasy, in the age of oversaturated media, fantasy loses. Unless the celebrity couple are involved in separate projects, as in the case of Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds or Katie Holmes' participation in the new Batman film.

I don't know about you, but Joey Potter lusted after the guy who danced in his underwear in Risky Business while she was still in diapers? Or is Katie worried that she has to trump Michelle Williams' lovechild? I can also imagine Tom Cruise's manager sternly admonishing him, "Next time you date, please go all American." Oh yes, something's rotten in Hollywood.

Thursday, May 19

Plate Teachtonics

Plate teachtonics, yeah!

In a teaching seminar I attended in our college, the Arts Studies people used paper plates in their teaching demo. It wasn't just a single paper plate, actually--they used the entire fast food dining experience to teach the students. They gave out paper place mats, plates, a menu, spoon and forks, napkins with a dopey "Pandesal House" logo.

In our heads we were screaming, "This guy is a loon genius! He knows how to split his measly salary and still give out stuff to thirty people in a G.E. class! Kill him!" It depressed the hell out of us and started sneaking out for really extended coffee breaks in the lobby.

Then I came across this site that promises to "serve education in a paper plate." The educators behind Paper Plate Education support the "initiative to reduce complex notions to simple paper plate explanations." Their activities page cover simple stuff like creating moon masks for kids to wear. You can also make a model to show how two shadows--the umbra and the penumbra--can fall on the moon during a lunar eclipse. Or maybe measure altitude and longitude or maybe plot the paths of meteor showers.

My favorite is the one where they direct students to play an asteroid impact game, wherein you can flip rocks on a string into planets orbiting the sun to simulate the mass destruction once a giant rocks hurls itself towards our measly planet.

Now if only they have lessons applicable to my classes. Like maybe a paper plate with detachable slices and strings to show how one remedies an essay riddled with dangling modifiers. Or perhaps make a model to explain paragraph patterns but with a matching dial so you can choose which pattern of development is good for you and your topic. Heck, I'll even pay someone who can make a paper plate model which can teach people how to use the proper preposition.

I can see it now: The entire department will launch a paper plate drive. Instructors will be asked to beg for recyclable plates to turn into hand held projectors which can find run on sentences and string them into their proper order in the universe. There will be lectures on paper plates as metaphors for consumerist culture. Spoons and forks will soon be used as pointers of objective correlatives. Ah yes, everyone will join the interactive seminars on how to develop grammar fitness skills in the language lab using colored plates.

Somebody should propose this on our next faculty development meeting.

Sunday, May 15

The New New Poor

The latest quality of life surveys show a huge discrepancy is the perception of reality of who really is counted among the nation's poor people. According to the government's own tally, only 24.7% of the population can be counted as poor as opposed to the 70% in Pulse Asia's headcount.

Interesting findings include how the poor are actually self-reliant, but also irresponsible: they don't count on the government to make their lives easier anymore. They actually strive to find jobs, make ends meet, and sincerely believe that education is still a way out of the rut they've been in for generations on end.

Newsbreak proposes that the real news is the loss of faith--both in the government and well, faith in general. "Prayer has declined as a coping mechanism," and that icon of prayer former president Cory Aquino also declares, “My fear is that many of our impoverished countrymen are fast losing faith in government.”

The measurement of faith (of whatever kind) perhaps can't be clearly mitigated by using absolute means. Thus, the new barometer that Pulse Asia uses to measure poverty, the Consumption Adequacy Score or CAS, relies mostly on perception-based poverty indicators anchored on self-reported adequacy of families’ consumption of food, clothing, medicine, house, and money for school. This is computed quarterly, which allows for frequent shifts in inflation, economic or political instability.

Ana Tabunda, Pulse Asia executive director, explains the advantages of using CAS: "[I]t captures a sense of relative deprivation that is not captured by absolute measures of poverty." At the current CAS rate of 74.8%, even if the number of families who claim they are now less hungry has declined, the number is still alarming enough. Sure, not a lot of people eat maggots for dinner now, but the question still remains. Until when can we keep ourselves afloat?

Friday the 13th at Friday's

Friday the 13th at Friday's
Originally uploaded by paolomanalo.

Marby seems to be taunting me in this photo taken at a Friday's restaurant last Friday, when I missed the dungeon dwellers' Friday the 13th gimik while I had my sutures removed and got stuck in a godawful 700 Club movie. Nyar.

Steve Martin is Famous Just Right

Alternet reprints Meghan Daum's interview with Steve Martin which originally appeared in (say it with me: Dave Eggers' magazine) The Believer, a stray old copy of which I found in a Booksale bin, but without the compilation cd, natch.

Martin talks about being famous just right, which translates to a kind of freedom curtailed only if you get recognized and then get mobbed. But otherwise, is all good. Mostly, the interview talks about his writing, his crossover from performance to the written word, the novella Shopgirl that's being turned into a movie. Now that I think about it, Shopgirl's distant "leading man," for lack of a better word, is named Ray Porter, which is also some local radio jock's monicker.

There's also some discussion about his being compared to Woody Allen, on the basis that his earlier New Yorker pieces read like Allen's earlier stories. Now that am rereading his Cruel Shoes, the sheer wry, dry, absurdist wit of it somehow does remind me of Allen. That self-deprecating, geeky tone, which all things considered, rocks my boat a lot. Hehe.

Monday, May 9

I Repeat: There is No Revolution.

IN a New York Times interview by Tom Zeller, Nick Denton on Gawker Media disavows the claim that blogging is the new way to get rich. Denton, owner of Gawker Media and publisher of at least a dozen blogs and more to come, tells us that while blogging has turned out to be profitable, there is still no blog revolution.

Each Gawker blog is expected to have at least 12 posts a day, of which 8 should be posted by noon. In a published interview, I Want Media estimates that each blog’s “editor” gets something in the ballpark area of $2,500 a month. Profitable, yes, definitely, Gawker managing editor Lockhart Steele concurs. "We're very small, have no overhead, no office space. Everybody works from home. And you heard what we pay our writers. Nick founded Gawker very specifically with the idea of starting a whole bunch of blogs in very niche topic areas, hire freelance writers to write each of them, hopefully draw a lot of eyeballs and then sell advertising around it. He had the idea that no one site would probably ever make a fortune. But if you have 10 sites each making $75,000 a year, then, O.K., maybe it's not like Condé Nast money, but it's a nice little business."

Gawker understands the need for finding its consumer niche, and knows the advantages of having an advertiser foot your bills. So all in all, seventy five grand is a tidy little amount, aight? Enough to keep the business in the black, but a business nonetheless. Some critics see the Gawker business model as commercializing blogging, compromising the independent spirit by committing to a publishing schedule. Blogging is supposed to be indie, and turning it into a profit venture is tantamount to killing the news. And yet, some other quarters are convinced that Gawker was never that indie to begin with. It’s old media disguised as edgy new media.

But isn’t that what happens after some time? This new new thing will transform into the status quo, with its own guidelines and profit margins. What I’m more concerned with is if this sort of business model is feasible in the Philppines. Taken loosely, blogging is still independent publishing that can be turned into some kind of empowering tool. The net is still all about the survival of the fittest. There are lots of blogs floating around, but not everything’s that readable, and a lot of them will probably be discontinued once the blogger gets bored. A sizeable amount of the Pinoy online community still has to churn out pages and sites that are readable and appealing. Add to the equation the fact that only a small number of PInoys are actually plugged online, and most of them visit only email sites and friendster, you realize that it’s still a long way to go.

Rise of the Superheroes

A.O. Scott looks into the rising rivalry between Superheroes and Movie Stars. It looks like Hollywood is all about men in tights now, and it's Errol Flynn.
While the number of movie stars is dwindling - are there 8 now, or still 10? Does Brad Pitt count? - the ranks of big-screen costumed crime fighters is growing.

Movie stars are glamorous creatures we dream of meeting someday, while superheroes are the people we secretly believe we really are...Unlike movie stars, superheroes do not have agents, weight or drug problems, controversial political beliefs or outrageous salary demands, and their box-office power has yet to find its deadly kryptonite.

Comic books are the foundation of a fan culture once derided and now celebrated as the province of nerds, misfits and losers - young men, like their idols' alter egos, who could compensate for their social marginality by coming to the rescue of the society that had spurned and mocked them. Their origin stories are tales of shame, victimization and abandonment overcome by lonely discipline and endless self-sacrifice. (Batman, the orphaned heir to the Wayne fortune, and Spider-Man, a working-class orphan from Queens, share not only secret identities but also a penchant for solitude and melancholy.) Stars, on the other hand, are the society's most cherished winners, congratulated for being themselves, drawing attention in the way that the masked, disguised and anxious supermen never do.
Movie stars are, at best, something we can aspire to be. But superheroes do not have that gloss and glamor we associate with Hollywood; superheroes are all about the pain. So I think the superhero movies resonate more with the geeks and nerds and your regular loser Joes and Janes. No matter how many hours of yoga you practice everyday, you just know that you'll never get that perfect set of abs and those shiny white teeth. You just want the cape and learn how to fly.

Sunday, May 8

Post Odontectomy Blues

I had an odontectomy last Friday afternoon, inside the mall, of all places.

Simply stated, an odontectomy is the extraction or removal of a tooth. But there are times when a regular extraction can't be performed, like when your third molar, or more popularly known as a wisdom tooth, is stubborn enough and insists on growing any which way it chooses. In this particular case, none of my third molars are in the right position--they are all submerged, and therefore invisible. One of them is even positioned somewhere above a second molar, right near the main vein. The particular molar in question presented a double whammy: it was submerged, and it grew horizontally since there wasn't any more space to speak off. Voila! I had to undergo minor surgery.

All these things came about because I had a really bad toothache nearly two weeks ago. Toothaches are nasty; they make their presence felt just when you're about to sleep. Scientifically explained, this supposedly happens because when we lie down to sleep, more blood goes to our heads. So it is recommended that you elevate your head to minimize the pain. But no amount of hot or cold compresses, mefenamic acid or elevation could solve my problem. I ran to my dentist the following morning. But my dentist wasn't there; I talked to this other dentist girl with bad teeth who advised me to take antibiotics and some more mefenamic and come back tomorrow. This made me suspicious because I've always thought that all dentists have really good teeth. It's like a requirement of the profession or something. A dentist with bad teeth isn't only credible, it's a disgrace to the entire profession.

Since I couldn't trust the pronouncement of Dentist With Bad Teeth, I dragged a friend to accompany me to their dentist, which happened to be in the same building as Manny Calayan's clinic. We know this because while at the counter, approximately three people came up and asked the receptionist which floor Dr. Calayan's clinic was located. There were also a lot of people milling around the lobby, presumably to gawk at celebrities.

When we finally got to the dental clinic, there was quite a wait. The head dentist was busy with this matrona about to fly to Guam the following day. The dentist assigned to me wanted to take x-rays, and they had to do this twice. It would have been okay, except that this woman had extra forceful hands which really pressed down on the film inside my mouth and against an inflamed tooth. "Scream if you must," she said cheerfully.

That's when we found out that I had an impacted third molar. We initially suspected the pain had something to do with a crown installed a year ago, when I bit into some barbecued ribs and chipped my first molar. Anyhow, there was a lot of scurrying about and I was told to take this antibiotic and some pain killers for a week and come back at the end of the week. There was something about that team of dentists that I didn't like. All that scurrying, the back and forth.

So we decided to go and have a third opinion, this time at this clinic inside Megamall. The new dentist confirmed the existence of impacted molar and the necessity of taking it out since it was causing pain in the entire lower jaw. I was advised to finish the previously prescribed medicine and come back the following week, but not after having my other teeth cleaned. There should be a requirement that only people with soft hands can be dentists. Intoning "Sorry, sorry kailangan" doesn't really cut it, since the patient couldn't exactly do anything aside from attempting to scream while some whirring tool is stuffed in your mouth. I also had to have an x-ray taken of all my teeth. That's the only none ouch inducing procedure I had to undergo for this entire ordeal. Panoramic x-rays are cool.

So the odontectomy is inescapable. Dr. R explained that we have evolution to blame for molars getting impacted. The ancient people have larger mouths--not to mention more prominent foreheads--and larger teeth needed to chomp into meat. Since people learned how to cook meat and don't really need too many teeth in their now smaller mouths, the unneeded third molars have no space to grow in anymore. But still our genes are still programmed to produce 32 teeth. When the third molars pop up, usually between the ages 18 to 24, they tend to push the other teeth, producing pressure in the jaws and causing the toothaches, swelling and general discomfort.

Evolution lesson out of the way, I asked for some topical anesthesia so we could get it done and over with. My friend insisted on sitting in the room with me, "For molar support!" Dr. R laughed loudly. "Ha-ha! That's the first time I've heard that," he claimed. I started to doubt whether dentists are also required to be corny. Hello, molar support, isn't that a tired old joke? He had to cut through some bone, which he did while singing along to Side A's "Forevermore".

Dr. R had to cut the tooth into two, crown and root. He took it out and put it in the tray. He got a mirror and showed me the hole where my tooth was. It gaped at me, red and bloody. "Don't worry, the bone will grow back and fill it up. You won't miss it." As he prepared the thread for suturing, he said I could take the tooth home and soak it in some agua oxinada then sun dry it for a day. That way it'll be whiter and I could turn it into matching pendants for my boyfriend and me. If the other molars can be taken out whole, I'd have an entire jewelry set. Ha-ha. He also said that I was rather the perfect patient. I would have bonked him on the head if not for the huge metal thingies in my mouth.

Overall, the operation didn't really hurt that much. Pressure is different from pain, he said. And mostly, I felt the pressure of the drilling and the pulling. What's bugging me mostly is that now I'm square jawed and big faced, but only on the right side. I also can't open my mouth and talk much, since the suture is right in the corner. Can't really eat regular food. I attempted that Saturday morning and the sutures bled.

I stayed away from the student papers because I suspect I'd just be annoyed and start giving everyone 5.0s.
Instead, I rented some really stupid movies to tide me over the weekend. I'm almost finished with my stack, and I'm convinced that Ashton Kutcher is the antichrist.

The high point of this weekend is my mom bought me ice cream. The low point is that it's buko pandan. Or maybe I should just be thankful that, at least, my mom didn't get me halo-halo or ube macapuno?

Saturday, May 7

The Julia Stiles Non-Required Viewing List

Meanwhile, Bookslut’s the Hollywood Madam affirms my long time suspicion that it is possible to teach a college (or high school, depends on your inclination) lit class using Julia Stiles’s filmography alone.

It seems like Ms. Stiles’ criteria for choosing her film roles depend on 3 things: (1) It must be based on anything Shakespeare, and (2) If that’s not possible, then anything classic may do; and (3) If still not possible, then act sullen and brooding enough to make people think it’s based on, if it’s not yet, a classic.

This looting of the literary canon to turn it into teen movie fodder can be traced back to when Alicia Silverstone first dressed in pink and said, “Whatever!” We have Amy Heckerling to blame for that 90s update of Jane Austen’s “Emma.” (But really, as far as Jane Austen is concerned, if you make me choose between teen movies and chick lit, I’ll pick the former any time.)

After that, it became a free for all. Rachel Leigh Cook’s idea of transformation from geek to babe was going down the stairs, slow mo, with Sixpence None the Richer singing in the background. What Pygmalion? That's "She's All That" for you.

And of course, Julia Stiles. My favorite performance is still her take on the wench in "10 Things I Hate About You." Because in her other movies, especially in that Othello remake, cleverly titled “O”, where her Desi really sincerely believes that she’s in a Royal Shakespeare Production. Besides, “O” is really all about Josh Hartnett, who can actually be pretty even with those eyebrows.

One of my favorite comfort movies is that ultimate of teen movie parodies, “Not Another Teen Movie.” It takes on the entire John Hughes ouvre from the 80s all the way to the late 90s teen movie revival. One of the beefs people poined out about NATM is that you have to be knowledgeable about every teen movie produced between 1980-2000. I say, you don’t really need to watch all the movies produced between that period. It’s not even confined to the works of Hughes and Heckerling and Stiles and Jennifer Love Hewitt. It also takes on Cameron Crowe for chrissakes. There’s really just this recognizable tract in that genre, in that slice of life termed coming of age that makes you feel like you’ve seen it before.

The only thing I dread is when N*Sync’s Lance Bass’s proposed update for The Great Gatsby actually pushes through. Paris Hilton as Daisy and the guy from The O.C. as Jay G? Oh yes, the rich really are different from you and me.

Queen of Mean Girls

Tina Fey, who wrote the screenplay of “Mean Girls” and is one of the headwriters for Saturday Night Live, is expecting her first child in September.

Until “Mean Girls,” the cinematic adaptation of the parenting book by Rosaline Wiseman, I wasn’t really exposed to Fey’s work since SNL isn’t really part of my viewing fare. SNL writers and comedians have their own turfs: the smart ass Harvard Lampoon group, of which Conan O’Brien might be the most recognizable right now; the Groundlings from L.A., from where Will Ferrell and Chris Farley started, and the Second City Chicago troupe which boasts of the Belushis, Dan Aykroyd and then, Tina Fey. But according to this New Yorker profile, Fey is credited for bringing back the oomph and the raunchiness in SNL, not to mention fighting for more center stage exposure for the women in the program. The profile also paints her as someone who’s not quite a prude, but would make most people think twice about themselves and what they’re doing.

Still Fey related:

Yearbook pictures are just the sort of thing that you don’t want to haunt you someday, but here it is. Tina Fey’s yearbook shot courtesy of TinManic.

Tangentially related: ABC News reports the results of a new study claiming that meanness in girls start as early as age 3.

And sadly, this sort of behavior doesn’t seem to disappear when you get past your adolescence. It can only get meaner from there, homeschool or no homeschool.

Tuesday, May 3

geek rent

Spent almost four hours sorting out and migrationg some of my files into my gmail and yahoo accounts.

Most of it represent my years as a tv hack: the film and tv scripts i downloaded to read, review and research. Outlines, treatments, sctipts. It's funny how I only have one script left from the teen show, and it wasn't even my own.

I had the last few weeks from the soap opera, and a very huge file for a show that refused to take off.

How to you measure the life of geek? "In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee"? Maybe not five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. In bytes and files. 3 gigs of memories. I sort of see this as a spring cleaning ritual. It's a different life now.

Monday, May 2

Portrait of the Author as Human Vendo Machine

I, Stevie Robot. Illustration by Jillian Tamaki.

Andre Mayer looks into the
phenomenon of the prolific author. He acknowledges that the (romantic) ideal of the writer is that of the reclusive, hair pulling brooder huddled in front of his typewriter, laboring to get a thousand words a day. Anyone who doesn't fit that ideal is seen as an aberration, a freak and at best, a hack. The Stephen Kings of the world are deemed to be not "literary enough." Their works--plot driven mysteries or horror pieces are relegated to that tissue paper slot of the "literary soap opera." Mayer concedes that "The books are amiably escapist, and because they’re crafted with something finer than the workmanlike prose of a John Grisham or Danielle Steel, they’re deemed serious fiction."

It's like taking off the veil from the illusion. Book writing is thought to be a serious business--if you're not angsty enough or if you view writing as though it's as mundane as doing your laundry, then you're probably not a real writer, and there's a stigma to that. "It hearkens back to this notion we have of how “serious” novels are created — that every sentence is the result of years of contemplation and agonized toil. Anything less is deemed half-assed — or purely for a commercial audience. " Or as David Foster Wallace, he of the thousand page tomes, once said of Updike: "Has the son-of-a-bitch ever had one unpublished thought?”

The dichotomy between hack and "serious writer" will always be there. Meanwhile, George Murray of Bookninja sees the one book per annum quota as something like a car crash. For him, it is “the literary equivalent of watching a skinny Japanese dude scarf down 100 hot dogs in an eating contest; you are kind of grossed out, but gotta hand it to him.” He also has a theory about the differences between genre writers like Stephen King and literary novelists like Joyce Carol Oates. “It seems with Oates the hotdog eater is a performance artist commenting on the nature of consumption and American hegemony,” Murray avers. “With King it’s just a guy eating 100 hot dogs, then looking like he’s going to die of nitrate poisoning.”

I can see this same thing happening in the local scene. You're a serious writer if you're doing any of the traditional genres--poetry, drama, fiction. If you write for popular media like film and television, then you're best viewed as a human vendo machine. There's a reason for the fast production: You very well can't have a single second of blank air onscreen. The only recourse is to pick yourself up every day and do the vendo. This is when craft can save you. You know what to do with plot and conflict? Then go. In television, you can't wait for inspiration or for the muse to descend from the heavens. You do that and there will be other people more than willing to take over. Of course, this sort of set up has its flaws. Television is not for the weak of heart or those prone to frequent self-actualization dramas.

On the other hand, people like Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America among other things, also believe that television is the perfect medium for writers. (I'm sorry I lost the link, I'll try to hunt it up next time.) I think tv has great potential. (Yes, I sound so Spiderman now. Come on, repeat after me:) With great power comes great responsibility. But you can only change that if you have the stamina to go with it. There's a reason why you can't be a Hamlet on tv.

UPDATE: Let me modify what I wrote in the previous paragraph. The Tony Kushner article was supposed to be found here. But when I checked it out, it has disappeared already. What's left is this quote which I got from bookslut: "I love television. As a playwright, I feel really comfortable working for television, which is a medium that I think in many ways has much more in common with theatre than film has with theatre."

If I remember it correctly, he said that it's because of the talking heads feature of TV. You can't really do that in film, or else it'll result in long winded, talky features (think Closer or Paraisong Parisukat) with not much action, and film thrives on action.

On the other hand, my plight is the opposite of Kushner's. When I first tried my hand at writing for the stage or for TV (or even now, actually), what they all said was that my writing was too frenetic, too cinematic. I had to learn how to slow things down and to do what I call the "echo effect"--something happens onscreen and one of the characters have to verbally state what was happening. The explanation was that people who watch TV are doing else--chopping onions, folding their laundry--while watching TV. If they miss the visual clues, somebody has to remind them. This can be a bit tedious if you're the sort of viewer who loathes repeating things, and some have pronounced this as "dumbing the viewer." But that's the way things go. So there.