Thursday, December 28, 2006

finding

I'm so happy I found my old blog. It felt like reading through another writer/blogger. The words seemed alien to me. I didn't quite remember writing those until now. And it was just almost a year ago. Isn't it a coincidence that it's justa matter of 72 hours before the year ends.

Since I cannot incorporate it with this current blog, I'm providing this link for me to go back in time, sometime in the future. These were my jayclopsisms.

-----

After scouring the pirated DVD-filled ground floor of the old Mantex store, these were hard choices, but definitely stood out in the end: Shortbus and The Dead Girl. (When I told the vendor to preview Shortbus, she cackled like she was being tickled in her funny bone.)

Tito Henry

I went to Ateneo to give the Christmas cards for the Accountancy office, which was my family throughout my entire college days. The guards on both gates refused to receive it because they fear it might be lost considering that offices won't open until Jan. 3. Great, the cards not only greet belated Christmas bnut New Year as well.

The next cluster of cards I gave to the maid of the Mrs. Gauce's, a family friend of ours and president of the high school I went to. One of her son-in-laws was my sponsor in college, Tito Henry Lopez, who was the father of one of my classmates in high school. I dunno if until now Topher still doesn't know. Her sisters though, knew and even went with the rest of the family during my graduation dinner which Tito Henry treated. And believe it or not, I met him after four years during my graduation. He remained anonymous, helping me get through college by sending allowances and subsidies for tuition excesses. I sat in awe during that dinner and I can't even speak well. Perhaps, I was just overwhelmed. We talked some more. That was one and a half year ago I last saw him. I let him know what's happening with my life through Tita Marjo, her sister in law, who I ocassionally get to talk with during the few times I went to school.

If there's one person I am totally grateful of, it would be him. I would definitely call him tomorrow, and would surely want to meet him.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

an inconvenient truth

An Inconvenient Truth is a moving documentary on global warming. It's a chronicle of facts we thought we already knew and facts that could reinforce the things we already know. It's a searing account of humanity's utter neglect not just of the environment but of the consequences that we would face as a people of this world if not much is substantially done to avert the damage that have already taken its toll on human lives. If you will not be moved by images you see in this docu, e.g. the global melting of glaciers, drying of geographical lakes, and submerging of countries like Switzerland, India, China and US, you're probably an alien.

It's also a living testimony why Al Gore is so much better than b-b-b-Bush.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

a fiery Christmas

The cold breeze which we should be experiencing is replaced by hot, fiery evenings due to the succeeding disasters around the country concerning fire disasters. An amateur video landed last night in media spectacle where a frantic girl is stuck on the roof of the burning department store in Ormoc. And it’s not even March, the Fire Prevention Month.

Last March 2005, I had my short internship with a local newspaper here, which would end my practicum for 3 agencies. It was days before my graduation that I did a story on the fire prevention month focusing on the status of city buildings that are considered fire hazards. It landed on the front page and I think what made it more interesting is the fact that one interview I had revealed that even the building of the Bureau of Fire Protection was a fire hazard. I learned a lot from doing the story. I realized that if concerned agencies don’t give a shit about the situation the city would be a potential inferno.

***

I watched The Queen, Brick and Elephant over the weekend. All three films at some point dealt with themes on loss and detachment, which I realized strikingly coincide with the other, more somber side of Christmas that is obviously overridden with superficiality and commercialism.

The Queen is an intimate examination of the life of the royal family during the death of Princess Diana, particularly Elizabeth II’s struggle between private mourning and the public’s outcry for a display of emotion. You cannot take your eyes off Helen Mirren, who plays the Queen and her exchanges with Michael Sheen, who’s perfectly cast as Tony Blair.

Considered to be one of big misses in awards season, Brick tells the story of Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a young adolescent who chose to shy away from society but finds himself enmeshed in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game after he finds out that the girl he only loved is dead leading him into the dark recesses of drug mafia. I actually had a hard time catching up with the ‘druggie’ language or whatever it’s called, which is like reading A Clockwork Orange.

Gus Van Sant’s Elephant has enough grounds to shake up conventional filmmaking, (After all, isn’t this what independent cinema is all about? Hehe) and indeed it went to win the most revered Palm D’Or during the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. The film is obviously inspired by the gun-shooting incident in a high school in some US state which killed a number of young adolescents. It scrutinizes America’s policy on gun safety and ownership. The film is almost boring as we watch the characters in long extended walks from behind, which gives us a feel of detachment and piles up into an unspeakable crime. It’s sad that this is actually happening, and in the misunderstood world of these kids, everybody is like a stranger watching them on a glass bowl.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa is coming

I want to bludgeon the friggin' asshole in front of me right now with the heavy CPU, smash his face in the keyboard like that suicidal .gif cartoon who loses his head eventually. He's playing System of a Down on Christmas eve with decibels that can ruin everybody's eardrum in the cafe, but others don't seem to care because their not writing some blog entry or whatever. They are either playing games that make them feel like merciless gods, and others are desperate (old) biatches looking for some online romance.

I was hoping to get a dose of silence but these people can't seem to be getting enough. Great. What a pleasurable way to welcome Christmas.
***
Many years back (childhood seems to be eons ago) I used to recall hanging old socks as makeshift Christmas stockings in our old house hoping to find goodies the next morning. And yes, me and my siblings would find, ocassionally, twenty-peso bills and, albeit a kid that I am, I knew that it wasn't Santa who'd put those bills but either my father or mother.

For a moment, I wanted to put a sock in our dilapidated door, a soiled one at that, and prayed fervently that I would find relief inside it the next morning I wake up.
***
It was my third time to go to SM last Friday and was hesitant because I knew it would take me an hour or so to get there from the usual 20-30 minutes. But no, the ride was smooth and there was no aberya along the way. Curious as I am for such a strange phenomena (it's Dec. 22 and there was little or no build-ups at all), I asked the taxi driver who I know would give a substantive observation. He said that there was no traffic because the new traffic lights were removed. It will be re-installed come January 2007. We then talked a few more of our observations on this phenomena.

Apparently, what caused the heavy traffic, aside from the obvious fact that everybody's on Christmas rush, is the city's newly installed traffic light system. The allocation for the project was indeed huge as I later learned, and if the purpose was to elevate the city's status into some big metropolitan junkie, it sure did. Traffic is after all, a success indicator of civilization.

***
During last Thursday's Christmas party, each of the staff received an 800-peso worth of gift certificate from NCCC Mall. I availed half of it yesterday and was welcomed by a multitude of people, the thickness could be likened to a glob of goo. The line was stagerring and there goes my vertigo again. When I came down, anxious to get home, I heard Chad (from the reality TV-show-contest Pinoy Dream Academy) and managed to get a far glimpse of him in the mall's activity center. I couldn't take anymore the loud shrieks so I eagerly rode a jeepney.

It clogged somewhere in Uyanguren and the badjaos went waving their empty plastic Coke cups at the disgruntled drivers and commuters. One badjao woman was carrying her months-old child and was incessantly knocking the glass window of a van. She waved once more the cup, gestured her hand towards her mouth and then pointing her child, which obviously meant 'para pang-kain lang ng anak ko". Indeed the influx of the badjaos during this season is quite alarming considering they seem to have grown in numbers each year. I fear that their population might reach to unmanageable proportions that the government might consider, for lack of an efficient social services policy, gassing them up into some chamber similar to that in the Holocaust.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

waldorf

For our office party tomorrow, each of us will be bringing something for the food. I decided to prepare Waldorf Salad. It's easy to prepare and I found the recipe with the picture which looks tasty enough. I also wanted to bring some Asian flavor, the Korean kim pop, but is very tedious so I picked the salad. This recipe is stright out of elise.com which I saw while browsing Yahoo.

Waldorf Salad

1 red apple, cored and chopped
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced (or a 1/4 cup of raisins)
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 cup mayonnaise (or plain yogurt if you must)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt
Pepper
Lettuce

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayo (or yogurt) and the lemon juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Mix in the apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts. Serve on a bed of fresh lettuce.

Serves 2.

Recipe courtesy of elise.com

thank u 4 smoking

Just like the previous years, I only get the feeling of Christmas urgency when the date strikes with a number 2, just like today. Tomorrow will be the office's Christmas party at Peter's house, our German colleague. I already bought my gift for the exchange rituals during the party. It's a 2001 Management Reader published by the New York Times. Quite a rare rare find if I may add, considering the book's usefulness for my manita. Going to the malls is my least favorite thing considering I have, over the previous years developed an increasing intolerance for crowds and queues. I get vertigo in the middle of walking and then I just sit there until I regain balance. Quite scary, I remember Alfred Hitchcock's movie Vertigo.

Yesterday I had my leave and I schedule my choreographing stint with the MGB people but it was canceled because some of the members got injured. Can you believe it? I'm teaching them the sequence of We're All in This Together from High School Musical. I have to view that scene bazillion times to memorize some of the steps. I went to the mall instead and bought ingredients for spaghetti and fruit salad, and scoured pirated DVD copies (not again) of Brick and Elephant, which is directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) and won the 2003 Cannes Film Festival top prize.

***

I was excited to watch Thank You For Smoking last night. The film is written and directed by Jason Reitman (son of bigwig producer Ivan Reitman). Smoking is centered in the life of Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), a PR man from the Academy of Tobacco studies, the advocacy front of America's tobacco conglomerate. He goes on a PR offensive to counter the increasing campaign of the government against smoking which of course will hurt the industry. The campaign is led by Sen. Ortolan Finnistere (William H. Macy). The senator wants to put a poison sign in every cigarette pack. You should see the silly redundancy of the slogan and how it was justified by the senator's inept staff.


Naylor is joined by the MOD (merchants of death) squad who is composed of Maria Bello, whose character is on alcohol advocacy, and David Koechner, on the gun promotion. Eventually, Naylor is screwed by journalist Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) as he reveals some privileged information when they have sex. He is forced to attend a congressional inquiry where his moral dilemma come into play. Despite his MOD stature, he is god to his son, who is on the road to become the exact replica of his father.

Ultimately, the film sheds a soft light in the morality of choice and responsibility, and Reitman's script is unapologetically hilarious and frank without being preachy and imposing at all. The satire touches on the whole gamut of the spin culture in corporate America and a piercing commentary on the political environment. Eckhart delivers his lines like he is some James Bond of PR. His conversation with his son (Cameron Bright)
on 'Why is American government the greatest government of all?' or something like that is one of my favorite scenes. Naylor refutes that the question is inherently flawed and criticized his kid's teacher for such question.

photo from: empiremovies.com

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

'little' wonders

As I write, Hollywood is in Oscar frenzy. The Golden Globe nominations have just been out and critic circles, most notably the LA, New York and Toronto Film Critics have given out their awards to this year's best films. With almost perfect certainty that most of the films which will be getting nods come March 2007 will not be shown here, I went on a pirated-DVD-scavenging trip on one of the earlier malls here to look for some of the highly-raved movies which were already nommed and won in early awards.

Over the weekend, I watched Little Miss Sunshine and Little Children until the wee hours of the morning. Sunshine is the debut of filmmakers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, with an ensemble cast composed of Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, the comebacking Alan Arkin, Paul Dano and the talented Abigail Breslin, as the honest kid in search of that elusive beauty crown. Some of the cast are up for acting nods like Breslin, Collette and Carell, who is playing a gay Proust scholar. Carell's take on the role recalls Jim Carrey's move when he ventured into films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


Touted by critics as a 'gem' of a small film, Sunshine delights with its honest script and very nuanced portrayal of each of the characters. It's a road trip movie but the one in which not only an individual gets his or her shot at self-rediscovery but the entire family. There's something really striking in the scenes where they have to push their van to get it started and graciously jump in one by one.

One of the characters I really liked the most was Paul Dano who plays the brother of Breslin. During the opening scenes, we learned that Dano has taken a vow of silence in preparation of his stint with the airforce. He is reading Nietzche and writes down in a pad whenever he wants to say something. He reluctantly goes with the family on the trip to California for the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. While on the road and doing riddles, his little sister and his uncle discovered he's color-blind thus he can't pursue the airforce. He prodded to stopped the van as if he is about to vomit and then run amok. He screamed THE F WORD, thus breaking his vow of silence for nine months. This sequence for me is really one the defining and shining moments of the film.

****

Children, on the other hand, is an adaptation of a novel of the same title and directed for the screen by Todd Field. Kate Winslet plays Sarah Pierce who is caught in an adulterous affair with neighbor Brad played by Patrick Wilson. The character and relationships explored in the film is a smart critique of the seemingly antiseptic superficiality of suburban America.

Winslet's character is alluded to Madam Bovary, and this is made obvious during one of the scenes wherein the lady neighbors gathered for their scheduled literary discussion to discuss on what else but Madam Bovary. The acerbic glances and piercing dialogue that ensued in fact is a point of explanation of Winslet's character, her eventual transformation and the choices she has and is going to make as the movie draws to its end.

One of the interesting characters though is Ronnie McGorvey, played by Jackie Earl Haley, who's quite a revelation in this one. I never saw him before in other films, and he looks like a creep, and yes, he plays a creep in the film, at least from the neighbors' perception. He is constantly being hounded by the people around him due to his 'psycho-sexual disorder' to the point that banners were pasted along the neighborhood saying "Are Your Children Safe?", with his mugshot below. Ronnie went on to masturbate in front of his date to drive home this Freudian point. His only confidante, his mother, eventually succumbed to cardiac arrest, after a fight with their neighbor Larry, who megaphoned the neighborhood shouting "your children are not safe" in the middle of the night. Crushed by her death and the deathnote 'please be a good boy', Ronnie mutilated his penis and ran towards the playground.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

listen

If you want to be understood, listen. That is what Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu's latest film, Babel, wants us to get.

I got a pirated DVD copy of the film in a stall in one of the malls here. In stalls like these, they usually couldn't get the movie posters right, and Babel's poster was particularly disturbing. You have Brad Pitt's bod superimposed in the foreground of the real poster. Looks like he's some kind of harbinger of unity or something. But it's good to see he doesn't look like Brad Pitt in the film. Think Tom Cruise with the pepper-colored hair in Collateral only more haggard.

Just like Amorres Perros and 21 Grams, Inarittu seems to be enmeshed in the whole concept of humanity's interconnectedness and dependency that doing a horror might not be really soon for him and his writer-collaborator Guillermo Arriaga. If these partners continue to make movies like these, they could very well create an entire genre in drama. I heard of the news that the partners have parted ways after this movie.

The story is spurred by an accident which connected the lives of the characters, albeit the individual stories do not necessarily impact or make a moral argument of the other. Two Morrocan boys unintentionally shot Cate Blanchett in the neck on a travel bus and made Brad Pitt go berserk. The couple is on a soul-searching trip to save their marriage while leaving their kids to their Mexican nanny who carries them into the Mexico border because she has to attend his son's wedding. The rifle used by the two children was originally owned by a Japanese whose deaf-mute daughter hungry for love waves her 'hairy monster' in public just to get attention.

It is set in four countries: US, Morroco, Mexico and Japan. And you have unknown actors speaking in different languages as well. Fine performances from the deaf-mute Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza.

The melancholy is all the more stressed courtesy the Moroccan landscapes and Gustavo Santaolalla's score. Watching the vast scenery and listening to the painful guitar riffs feelt like I was watching Brokeback Mountain. Click here for reviews of Babel.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

a clockwork orange

Just like George Orwell's 1984, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a horrific foretelling of the not-so-distant totalitarian future where the acts of man can be tailored-fit to suit the existing rule or authority. Each page is bristling with blood and unspeakable violence. Ultimately, the novel is a philosophical inquiry on the nature of good and choice.


The novel's language is a mixture of nadsat (teen gangster dialect with a mix of Russian) and hints of Shakesperian prose. Burgess is a literary genius. The language is so cunning it shapes the novel and ultimately the characters. If it were not for the mini-glossary provided for the one who wrote the afterword, I'd still be figuring what tolchok, devotchka, and bazoomny means. I actually finished this book last week and I almost forgot to write about it. Next blog: written in nadsat language.

Monday, December 11, 2006

letters from a broken son

Dear Pa,

You've never understood me, just as what you always insist that I never understood you. I do. But you may never have the heart to see that. Even if you may not believe me, as I always say, I have passed that stage of blame and remorse. Though you always insist how childish, immature and irresponsible I am. I never get to see that point. I have accepted the fact that you may have to spend your lifetime with someone who nearly killed you. Even if you may not believe me, I tried my damn best to get along. There are just irreconcilable differences that you insist on reconciling.

I never take pride that I'm earning a bit more than you do. I never intended to bring myself the subject of your constant ire because of this. Even if you may never believe me, and even if it may show that I do not, I want to help this family, and I want to see us together. Please see it in your heart, that despite the many fights and misunderstanding, I have stayed and never left this family. It may never be the same but we're family, and it counts.

I'm sorry I raised my voiced when we fight. I'm sorry if I hurt you. If someday I will go away, please understand me. I'm your son, and I'm not perfect. I make mistakes, and even if you may not believe me, I continue to look up to you as a father.

*****

Dear Ma,

I fear that I may have failed my promise. Remember when you were in your deathbed, you told me to take care of my brother and sister when you're gone? Now that we're in the midst of hopelessness, I can't even find their hands and reached out to them. Their hearts have grown cold. I cannot help them as much as I can.

But I hope you understand me. I know you understand the situation. It's not my fault Ma. You left us, and I was too young to understand why such terrible things happen to good people. I know that if you're here, you could always pull our family together. I refused to dwell on this painful past, but the thought of you makes my heart ache. Perhaps God knows better.

I just hope I can see it through. And I wish you were here.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

prelude to a suicide

You can never attain genuine happiness in this world. Tell me.



Saturday, December 09, 2006

a taste of Asia

Last night was like a trip to Asia.

First, me and two of my officemates, Mitchie and Ela, went to a thai massage parlor that was offering a 50% discount as their promo. Mitchie prodded us first-timers to try it and so the 'burdened' person that I am, I decided to go along with them and have my entire body pampered.

I was getting giggly and thanked God the masseur's hand didn't go anywhere nearer the groin. I swear I could've let out a snort and that would be too embarassing. Later, the presses became painful and the masseur must've noticed the twitching in my face. But all was good, especially the arabesque-like stretch. Maybe next time I would try the jasmine oil. I thanked the masseur after the ceremonial thai bow.

Another friend of mind wanted to eat at a Korean restaurant called Kimchi. He tutors Koreans so he's kind of familiar to the food. Kimchi, by the way in Korean, is a kind of delicacy - a super-duper hot delicacy at that - made up of leafy vegetables (pechay or cabbage) drowned in gazillions of chili. He ordered the kimchi chige (kimchi soup) which was served with eight side dishes - toge (mongo sprouts), coleslaw with sesame, chili leaves, pickles, kimchi, and others I can't name. There was kim pop, a kind of rice sushi with egg, korean radish and ground beef in the middle.

As we were eating, the TV was tuned to a Korean channel. I noticed the ads were all endorsed by famous Koreans like Rain, Jerry Yan and Joo In Sung.

Before I went home, I dropped by the nearby McDonalds for some calorie overload - their new Strawberry milshake. My jaw ached because the straw was so soft and the shake was so thick. As I was sipping it inside the jeep, a grotesque creature in the other jeep was staring at me maniacly licking his lips with his tongue. It must have been a hallucination but when I glanced back seconds after, he was still doing the same thing. I immediately brushed off the thought as the jeepney speeded up.

Friday, December 08, 2006

first day high

Just like that catchy song performed by the 4th year class of the current school year, each of us experienced that certain 'First Day High'. We had it once and we came here tonight to remember that experience.

So goes what could have been my opening statement for an impromptu speech during our high school Alumni Homecoming last Tuesday, when asked by one of the teachers. Thank God I was able to sneak out for dinner.

It was very awkward to speak in front of a large crowd considering our batch was the minority that night - 4 out of the 30 who graduated, imagine! But it was good too see former teachers and schoolmates whom I have shared the same experiences with in our small and humble school - though some of them are very fresh - just a year or two from high school graduation.

It was not really a grand night since our batch was obviously overpowered by the populous ones. Seeing my teachers was enough saving grace. And I shouldn't forget winning a hundred pesos for a squatting game. Haha.

thwarted heroism

I have always been biased about war movies. Even when someone commented that Thin Red Line is sooo boring, I still found beauty in the traquil moments of the film or when somebody said that Black Hawk Down was too noisy and all combat, I still made sense out of it.

Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers is yet another take on the subject of war - particularly World War II. The battleground is Iwo Jima, Japan and the centerpiece where the story pretty much revolved was the flag-raising ceremony of the American soldiers who fought in that island. The famous photograph was taken by Associate Press photgrapher Joe Rosenthal.

Known for his achingly melodramatic pieces (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby), Eastwood's Flags makes war a tragedy more tragic. (How can anything be more tragic than war?). The film achieves more because it presents all aspects of war - apathy and heroism, victory and loss. Flags will be complemented by Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, which will be in Japanese. This time the war is told in the perspective of the Japanese.

Pronounced as heroes, the three of flag raisers who lived came home to their country enmeshed in a politically sticky and uncomfortable situation - none than they ever thought of. For Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), his sudden rose to fame made every encounter with the media an opportune time. On the other hand, the war ruined Ira Hayes' life (Adam Beach). He cannot escape the trauma and the images of war remained vivid in his memories.

The war, as they say always break our hearts, and Eastwood dramatizes this perfectly in every solemn scene particularly in one scene where the soldiers - some listened, some hummed - to the song playing in the old radio 'I Walk Alone'. War comes at a big price - loss of lives, the uncertainty of victory, but here in the film it's much more of loss of the innocence of youth. It probes into America's exploitation of war heroes - and making a grand spectacle out of war.

The film is also visually stunning. The battle scenes are awashed in grayscale effect and blood, strikingly red, is the only other color visible in the scenes. There's pretty much gorefest here so it's not really for the weak stomach: bullets piercing through heads, shrapnels piercing through flesh, decapitation, disemboweled viscera - there's even this one scene that aptly described the horrors war wherein the body was not made visible through the screen, but the expression on Philippe's face said it all.

War is not all about victory, as the film pointed out - it's everything unspeakable and heartbreaking. As in Bradley's (Ryan Philippe) words, "So much for no man left behind".

Thursday, December 07, 2006

yuletide playlist

This Christmas sucks but at least the songs keep me sane. Here's my playlist. Thanks to the ever dependable Limewire.

Band Aid | Do They It's Christmas?
Jackson 5 | Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Bing Crosby | White Christmas
Mariah Carey | All I Want For Christmas is You
Bobby Helms | Jingle Bell Rock
Nat King Cole | The Christmas Song
Brenda Lee | Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Il Divo | Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
Kelly Clarkson | My Grownup Christmas List
Jamie Cullum | Let it Snow
Macy Gray | Santa Baby

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Smith-ten

My female officemates are going gaga over Smith. Much more when they saw this picture and the gazillion of photos in news and the Internet. Not even an tinge of sympathy was poured over Nicole's fate. After being convicted, Daniel Smith immediately assumed a celebrity status. Sam Milby, move over.

I came across an account of this recent news on Howie Severino's blog. There's also an interesting debate on this specific entry.

Mr. Smith went to Subic

Gender relations, RP-US relations, priest-flock relations -- there's a lot to debate in this case aside from the meaning of rape.


Whatever they felt about the guilty verdict for US serviceman and now convicted rapist Daniel Smith, my female and gay colleagues all agreed, "Ang guapo!" Then they wondered about the victim Nicole (an alias), whose face has been hidden in the media. "Is she pretty?" someone asked. "No," replied one documentary researcher in the know. "But her sister is." Continue reading

Monday, December 04, 2006

weekend death reads

It was still a long weekend, Friday being a holiday and so I found myself scurrying my growing collection of unread books bought in booksales. Booksales are one of the greatest things in this technology-ridden world. Laurels for businessmen who venture into booksales.

East of the Mountains is one of those road trip books. If you've watched Elizabethtown there are similar themes here, though the protagonist in the novel, Ben Givens is on the last days of his life due to colon cancer. In E-town, the main character is played by the unsympathetic Orlando Bloom, and his sudden road trip to self-rediscovery is prompted by the consequential failures in his life. East is contemplative while it touches on very similar themes given more depth in the perspective of death. Guterson displays his knack in descriptive narration, the setting ultimately becomes a main component in the storytelling. His renewed perspective is given substance by a string of encounters as he heads east. In the end, you expect Ben to come home to himself. I bought this for Php 65.

Chinua Achebe has been touted one of the prolific African writers of this generation. In Things Fall Apart, his narration of African culture, particularly the Ibo tribe of Nigeria is very rich and informative. There are accounts of the Ibo rituals on courtship, marriage, death, and leadership akin to human traits and experiences. Ultimately, it tells the destruction of one man and the death of a way of life brought about by Christianization. I bought this for Php 30.

end of the line (?)

End of the line (

The verdict is out. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith is convicted guilty and is sentenced to spend 40 years in jail. His alleged cohorts, on the other hand, with lack of evidence and strong argument to impound them, were acquitted and were immediately flown to Okinawa leaving Smith still looking clueless and dumbfounded in the probing eyes of the cameras. His mind must’ve gone blank as he was dragged to the police car up to the Makati City jail like a dog on a leash, while the ruckus around him continued.

As the verdict was announced, ‘Nicole’ shrieked in joy and embraced his mother. She sobbed and praised God for the decision. Her lawyer was even more jubilant and went shouting “Long live the Filipino women!” While on the way to church, she expressed her gratitude to the people who supported her and her cause. Rallyists stood their ground outside the court and waited for the verdict despite the rain.

So ended yesterday a landmark case in the Philippine judicial system and perhaps a win that can ignite more the struggle for women empowerment. The case may even prompt the government to probe into other related cases. News reports stated that Nicole’s case was the only case who triumphed among 3,000 others involving women sexually abused by foreign expatriates.

This may not be the end of the line though. RP-US foreign relations may well be under hand. Where Smith will be jailed is yet to be decided, considering that the young soldier’s stay is under the clause of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

For Nicole, this might not yet be the end of the fight though. Justice, she felt, was half-baked. She felt that the missing driver who was there during the rape is still crucial to the conviction of the others particularly Carpienter whom she referred to as ‘the leader’.

*****

I went to the same school with Nicole, though I was never really quite sure if we graduated the same year. I even saw her more than a couple of times especially that she was under a department where I was a student assistant. Her brother though became a classmate of mine in Economics as I was mixed with a Management class when I was second year. I remember her going to the room one time to see her brother albeit I couldn’t remember how her voice sounded that time. I only know her by face and wasn’t really able to talk to her.

It was only after I saw her brother in the news that I ascertained it was her. I didn’t even know that they’re from Zamboanga until I learned it from the news. I can even remember that before I graduated, rumors were going around the university that the rape victim came from the same school. It turned out to be true. It must’ve been more painful for her friends, classmates and teachers who really knew her.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

the new Green

I'm planning to stage (how grand a term isn't it?) a weeklong protest due to the recent injustice in the Philippine labor situation (go ahead have a great time laughin') by absenting for a week. I cannot even begin to fathom the graveness of this situation. I don't know if I'm going to play this one out, or how the situation itself will play out. I don't give an effin' shit. And by the way, our landlady hasn't knocked the doors yet.

*****

Now I remember where I've seen Eva Green. She was in this film by Bernardo Bertolucci called The Dreamers, where her character is sandwiched by a young American studying in London and her own French brother. I saw this in one of the film classes of Sir Bong Eliab back in college in the 'film room', where I used to sneak into and spend my lazy Saturday afternoon. I usually just watch outside with barely audible sound coz I was not really in his class list. Despite the darkness, I can very much hear the gasps and gawked at the shocked expressions of sex-starved students whose idea of art house cinema is still that of Y Tu Mama Tambien. Well, Dreamers have some resemblance to that only it was, well... shocking, for lack of an overstatement.
photo: googleimages

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

battle at Iwo Jima

I love this picture. I came across this in some encyclopedia in the library some time in college, I think, and I didn't imagine that a movie will make a subject out of this stunning portrait of war. (Anyway, who does not feast on war?) Although it's very American, this photograph of the flag raising at the island of Iwo Jima during the WWII taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal carries a very universal theme on war - something that transcends every nation of this world.

Flags of our Fathers opened yesterday in Davao theatres.

deck the halls

Deck the halls with carcasses of animals. I want to get fucking shot in Iwo Jima.

What a fuckin' way to welcome Dec. 1. Payday is pfft and will resume till God knows when. And so I can't avail of the Midnight Sale in the mall. That pair of discounted shoes might well be in some other else's hands. The landlady will be knocking at our dilapidated door collecting our monthly water and electricity bill and I'm just gonna give her a blank stare. "Please don't evict us, in the spirit of Christmas for chrissakes..."

I'm so depressed of the news yesterday that I answered 3 surveys from coolquiz in a row. I want to burn this fuckin' office.

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corn cob on the loose.

Doesn't this sound more like a basketball superstar? Anyway, the caricature is cool.


Your Porn Star Name Is...



Magic Johnson




i should learn French.

How apt. I would really really infinity really love to learn French and maraud in Paris. I think it's the perfect place to learn new things about/and for yourself. Huh, I'm sounding like Russel Crowe in A Good Year.

You Should Learn French

C'est super! You appreciate the finer things in life... wine, art, cheese, love affairs.
You are definitely a Parisian at heart. You just need your tongue to catch up...

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yeah, right.

At some point, I find the results disagreeable. But hey, the survey only assessed you on certain questions, so it may not alway be true. Nevertheless, here it is. (Thanks to Girard for the link.)

Your EQ is 107

50 or less: Thanks for answering honestly. Now get yourself a shrink, quick!
51-70: When it comes to understanding human emotions, you'd have better luck understanding Chinese.
71-90: You've got more emotional intelligence than the average frat boy. Barely.
91-110: You're average. It's easy to predict how you'll react to things. But anyone could have guessed that.
111-130: You usually have it going on emotionally, but roadblocks tend to land you on your butt.
131-150: You are remarkable when it comes to relating with others. Only the biggest losers get under your skin.
150+: Two possibilities - you've either out "Dr. Phil-ed" Dr. Phil... or you're a dirty liar.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

maxi's long hair


Ang haba talaga ng buhok ni Maxi.

Aureus Solito's directorial debut has wowed the world. I browsed through Oscarwatch.com and found out that the film is nominated for Best Foreign Film for the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards. Critics loved it, in fact Rottentomatoes rated it 92%.

Way to go.

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morning appetizers

I wonder why goody-goody Leo (who's suddenly turn all bad and macho in The Departed) has got the hots for supermodels. She's currently dating Bar Refaeli. She's Israeli and I think I must've seen her in some porn. Hmmm.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Leo previously dated Gisele Bundchen.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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Monday, November 27, 2006

bond, james bond.

According to one site, that quote from Ian Fleming's favorite mercenary ranked among the top 100 movie quotes of all time. Of course, there was, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" from Casablanca, and Tom Cruise's attempt at slapstick, "Show me the money". But I'm not going to talk about that.

I watched Casino Royale over the weekend and I can say that just about ended the hullabaloo on James Bond being blond. Contrary to the die-hard Bond-natics who said that casting Craig would end the franchise, the rehash proved satisfactory and enjoyable. I can't really judge or battle to wits with those that have watched Roger Moore or Sean Connery but I agree that casting Craig was a great bold move for the franchise. And he can act too, you know. I've seen him in Munich. I find him better than Brosnan, who I think was more delicate compared to Craig's brusqueness and physicality. His brutality makes killing more fun. You just want him to kill, kill, kill. But what the fuck's with the swagger?!! It destroys everything.

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I just think that the action scenes were too elongated though. The chases seem not to end. You wonder when the bad guy (with monkey-like agility) will be captured or when that out-of-control gasoline truck's gonna explode. When Bond jumped off the truck body-flat on the ground, I swear he could've smashed his skull. But not yet, coz he's got a damsel to rescue. Eva Green was amazing. Just the mere stare of her green eyes evoke innocence, longingness and mystery. And her character's got a classy name: Vesper Lynd.

I've enjoyed more there clever battle-of-the-sexes exchange, each word like a dagger piercing through their own masculinity/femininity. And Dame Judi Dench of course, the undying M ("Thanks to your over-developed trigger finger!"), whose commanding presence overwhelms each scene. I was surprised to see Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) co-wrote the script. Which explains.

I was glad I watched it in the second week of its running. The theatre was not that packed. I chose the long-overdue The Prestige the other weekend, which I enjoyed immensely. It disappeared in its final act long before the people who watched it ever guessed the answer to the movie's tagline: Are you watching closely?

The characters Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), rival magicians, exuded the same bravado and machismo of the more modern Bond. Obsession can be fatal, so the movie says. I think Christopher Nolan over-indulged in twists though. I could've developed a headache if I thought more about it on the way home. But nevertheless Jackman and Bale delivered well. There must be really something about Bale's lisp or whatever you call his manner of speaking (he's Welsh) that draws attention.

I wonder if they could make the next James Bond a magician. That would be way over the top. And people wouldn't see it.

photo: googleimages

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

a civil action

My current OS is Linux-powered. Thanks to the viral susceptibility and 'uncurability' of my previous CPU, I'm trying to familiarize the features of the newly installed system. From what I know, I cannot put status messages anymore in my YM since the IM function is general. I cannot seem to copy/paste pictures with the mere right click of the mouse.

The screensavers also appear at random, meaning I dunno how to change the settings. One minute it has a futuristic motif, the next one would be cascading petals with a predominant pink background. Just this recently, I was browsing thru a voluminous toolkit from the British Embassy, when the screensaver randomly flashed chemical formulas (with the electronic configurations at that) of hallucinogens, explosives (trinitroglycerine or something) and other harmful (I assume) substances the complexity of which escapes my short term memory.

Quite a striking coincidence, since the compounds bore similarity to TCE or trichloroethylene, a carcinogen that causes impairment of the immune system. TCE came into focus in the book that I just finished reading over the weekend. It's A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr.

Based on a true story, the book is a well-thought, well-researched 'chronicle of litigation' of one of the biggest environmental cases in America, which involved 2 large corporations operating in Woburn, Boston. The companies were charged of discharging chemical waste, of which TCE was the main component, and polluting the community's aquifer particularly the wells where community water was being derived. This pollution caused what the scientific reports referred to as 'leukemia cluster'. The deaths of children and adults alike in Woburn spanned almost two decades.

While an exciting courtroom drama in itself, the novel is also an analysis of the US judicial system, and how in a big case like that of Woburn, things can get too political. It takes into account some legal subjects not that commonly seen or wrote about in courtroom dramas both in films and books.

The denouement is not that satisfying because as fairy-tale legal thrillers go, you'd wish the victims to be really triumphant and the culprits really get punished. What I liked about it much though, was the main protagonist, Jan Shclichtmann, transformation and self-rediscovery. I'd definitely recommend it for my would-be lawyer friends.

Steven Zaillian (who wrote Gangs of New York and The Interpreter), directed the movie version starring John Travolta. I also found this website tackling on post-trial issues, this time one of the defending camp. Click here.

*****

Monday, November 20, 2006

cast away

I have been a devout fan of Survivor, though I fail to watch I guess a couple of seasons. But once I get to watch the first episode, I will sit through its entirety. There's nothing like the game of Survivor. It's full of twists and there's something new every season.

Lately, the series have incorporated the concept of 'exile island' where a winning team in a challenge (usually reward) gets to pick someone off from the losing team to spend a day secluded in the exile island. The 'exiled' gets to battle of his/her wits because the night can be pretty unpredictable -- storms and 'nightcrawlers' alike. There was also an interesting turn during the Vanuatu Season where a single-person team pitted against the other 9-member team. The cast away, Stephanie, proved to be a real survivor, and popular to boot as well.

This season the cast aways have to outwit, outplay and outlast in the Cook Islands. The catch this season was revealed during the first part where the group was divided according to ethnicity: Hispanic, Caucasian, African-American and Asian-American. After a week, the 4 tribes were assimilated to form two tribes, this time not based on ethnicity.

During one of the earlier tribal councils with the already assimilated group, the host, Jeff Probst asked Jonathan, an originally Caucasian tribe member (who most likely will assume this season's ultimate villain) if ethnicity is still an issue with the tribe, whether in aspects of belongingness or whatever, and he said no, that it isn't a factor and definitely wouldn't be a contributor to who's gonna be voted out.

Halfway through the season already, the assimilation process took a different turn albeit not explicitly revealed. On one of the reward challenges, Jeff posed a shocking twist: the contestants were given the chance to switch tribes. With 10 seconds, Caucasian-Americans Candice and Jonathan stepped out of their tribe's mat indicating their want to transfer. It was later revealed that this move of the two is for the reason that they want to reconnect with their orginal tribemates, Adam and Parvati. It was also revealed (I didn't think it was on the show though), that Jonathan wanted to have an all Caucasian-American final four.

So what's with the ethnicity-is-not-an-issue shit? As the show later revealed, the bond between ethnicity, the bond among the four original tribemates implicitly prevailed. And Jonathan might want to pursue the final four indeed. This took toll on the other tribemates who eventually became outcasts. And of course, Jonathan's maneuverings paid off as this caused Jenny, the second Filipino-American aside from Brad Virata, to be voted off after the shocking back-to-back votation. The season promises more revelations in the next episodes.

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Whether in truth (reality TV after all is not 100%) or in fiction, the Survivor series is a good case for sociological and behavioral study. While it can be pure entertainment for some, the interplay of power among individuals in the game can prove to be more interesting and intriguing than the twists and challenges. It's also interesting to observe how behaviors can immediately change in a matter of 24 hours and how this can entirely change the fate of the game.This aspect makes watching every episode more worthwhile.

It would have been nice to seen either Brad or Jenny in the final two. But just you wait until Survivor Asia comes, the unlikeliest of hero may arise. Haha.

Here are some links to get to know more about Survivor:

1. Survivor: CBS

2. SurvivorFever

3. Survivor Skills

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

charity case

Browsing through the week's and last week's news I came across a PDI headline story, which amused me at first. Foreign chambers of commerce have submitted to Malacanang a joint statement ending the political killings around the country or risk losing aids and investments.

It's normal to hear business network associations giving their statement and position to anything that will surely have direct impact to the country's economy. But just you wait until the next paragraph read - a similar petition was signed by local officials of signature clothes such as Gap, Polo Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Van Heusen, and yes, even Wal-Mart, the largest chain convenience stores in the US. Human rights violations affecting the fashion industry.

The Philippine's must have assumed such a notorious stature after being branded by Amnesty International as among one of the countries where human rights are treated as a banana peelings. The extra-judicial killings must have really taken its toll on the economy that even the big foreign apparel names ditch out their very own petition/letter.

Unresolved human rights violations, compunded with the more troublesome issue on the recent GRP-MILF peace talks and the sporadic terrorist attacks is the perfect anathema to foreign aids/investments. Working with a business support organization, I realized that just a single incident of violence could cause havoc in the international arena that embassies would then start to release travel advisories. Not just a decline in tourist statistics, incidence of conflict create a ripple effect leading to the reluctance of investors and/or aid donors.

But ironically, the presence of conflict and the perennial poverty are reasons why Philippines - Mindanao in particular - attracted so much foreign aids - it's like carrying a streamer of 'feed us, please!", a one big example of a charity case. Admittedly, the government cannot move on its own and so they need these aids from countries like Japan, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands and of course the US and A (wink wink at Borat!) to even make a slightest indicator of what socio-economic development is.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

those days

The oldies are creeping up my skin. Right now, The Beatles are doing their thing. Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison are chanting their ticket to ride, but we don' care! Yeah. What's happening to me? Hehe. I'd love to hear Buble cover When I saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout.

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The other night I finished the tedious read of D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, which was published in 1913. The writer is British and the some dialogues are hard to digest especially when it came to the father's character. The novel was touted to be controversial during Lawrence's days considering its sensitive topic - the bond between mother and son and how it eventually affected - ruined - the son's life and ability to love. It's also the story of the battle of sexual powers of both the mother and father in their struggle for the children's arrogation.

I immediately picked up Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action, which is so long overdue. I bought it December last year but I can't seem to succumb to reading due to its thickness, but I made considerable progress already.

Monday, November 13, 2006

quotes arrested

I'm sharing some few lines from six episodes of Arrested Development which I watched last night.

Suit yourself.

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Lindsay: (To the activist who has made a home of the remaining unbuldozed tree of the Bluth estate) You know, we're not the only ones destroying trees. What about beavers? You call yourself an environmentalist, why don't you go club a few beavers?

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Narrator: Tobias recently lost his medical license for administering C.P.R. to a person who, as it turns out, was not having a heart attack. (flashback of the actual incident)

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Michael: (After hearing his mother she is designating Buster as the head of the Bluth Company) Buster? The guy who thought that the blue on the map was land?

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Lucille: (Looking at Buster) He's a beautiful boy...they don't appreciate him. It's his glasses...they make him look like a lizard...plus he's self-conscious.

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George Sr.: (Regarding Buster) Maybe it was the eleven months he spent in the womb. The doctor said there were claw marks on the walls of her uterus. But he was her 'miracle baby'.

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Michael: I can't believe she got that driver's license renewed. (referring to her mother)
Gob: She didn't. I dummied her up a new one. Not my best work, though. She wanted to look 48. I nearly airbrushed her into oblivion. Ended up checking "albino" in the form.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

ode to the old (pt 2)

I started to appreciate the oldies when I listened to Michael Buble. I think that was in 3rd yr or 4th yr college. Most of it were Sinatra and though the songs were given a Buble touch, the tune was practically similar. They weren't bad after all, in fact, the songs were cool, classy and makes you think that the latest crop of pop stars are close to pfftt. You'd wish you could relive those days of tap dance and signature microphones and heavy-piano performances.

I dig Buble's version of A Song for You by Herbie Hancock (not quite sure if it is his original). That was the last song he performed in his concert in LG Theatre in LA (yeah I've been there haha). The same song was performed by Christina Aguilera -- with Herbie doing the piano himself -- during the previous Grammy's. Other covers I liked are Presley's Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Ray Charles' You Don't Know Me.

Another artist that does amazing covers is Jamie Cullum. His jazz covers of Lover, You Should've Come Over, What a Diff'rence a Day Makes and Singing in the Rain is kinda like a rebellious jazz bordering on pop but nonetheless it's infectious to listen to. He also takes on Radiohead's High and Dry and even Pharell's Frontin' and made it his own. But All at Sea, which is about his experience doing gigs 'on board', is my all-time fave.

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Last weekend, I downloaded the soundtrack of Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical tale of a young adolescent who went on to cover the biggest what-could-have-been in the 70s rock and roll scene. The movie is a complete paean to everything that is 70s-rock-and-roll -- drugs, chicks and of course, great music.

While the story won Crowe favorable admiration among critics, the soundtrack on one hand was touted as the best compiltation of 70s memorabilia. The choice of songs and artists were so apt that it could almost earn Crowe a second profession being a musical director. I think he pretty much worked on the soundtrack as much as he did with the script. Both are densed with the same tenacity and rebelliousness. The AF soundtrack is a compilation of artists that span the decades of 50s, 60s and 70s. You can find Simon & Garfunkel, The Who, The Beach Boys, David Bowie, Elton John, Todd Rundgren, Cat Stevens, Rod Stewart and Led Zeppelin. Stillwater's Fever Dog makes you wanna have a dose of crack.

If I were a 40- or 50-year-old-something, listening to it is like one exercise in exorcising the demons of the great decades that were.

ode to the old

As kids we usually detest the sound of our father belting it out to the tune of Matt Monro or Tom Jones. We unearth copious cassette tapes of the same artists and other oldies superstar in our parents' old cabinets. To their bygone era, these figures were luminaries. Their music defined decades.

To the normal contemporary young adult who is not baduy (or at least that's what they think they are), listening to It's Not Unusual or My Way is the closest thing to hell. Just a single line from oldies songs are so revolting that we normally change the radio dial so fast as if it were a Coke cap.

But what I think made this generation unappreciative of the oldies are right in the very heart of Pinoy pop culture. The phenomenon that redefined Pinoys. A foreigner can easily identify us with this -- the Karaoke or more recently, the videoke. Everyone just loves to hold that mic and if the song requires, dance like it's the last night on Earth. The power to shine and be the next Pinoy Pop Superstar (with the irritating squeal) can be so addictive, the videoke gimmick can be likened to a druggie's version of pot session.

Though there are already KTVs and sing-along bars just about everywhere, the masa would prefer the hulog-hulog portion -- a videoke slot machine -- 5 pesos and you can attempt to outshine everybody with Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. But just you wait until that pot-bellied drunkard got hold of the mic and let loose his balladeer side. You've just heard the most abominable version of the famous My Way or Bridge Over Troubled Water.

For me, hearing the street-versions of the old songs make me hate them. But in the end, you can't really deprive these people of the cheapest sort of escapism.
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Friday, November 10, 2006

morning walks

Before i take a bathe every morning, I usually drop of my 5-year old half brother to a community school located on the next block, the next street after ours. It probably takes us 2-3 minutes before we get to my brother's classroom, where his classmates are already hop-hopping in their seats and their teacher (who's also a neighbor of ours) tries her best to calm them down.

Even before we pass through the school's makeshift gate, I buy him something for snacks which usually consists of an orange juice and a biscuit, or anything that wouldn't cost much but would already allay a kids want for munchies. Today it's Koko Krunch. (I also bought the same, which I'm eating now.) Around 7am we pass by the streets already full of children playing Chinese garter or some other street game. Even before the morning class, these kids, with their battered uniforms and worn-out shoes -- some with looks as if they were not groomed and given attention to by their families -- already reeks with morning sweat.

But the sight of these unattended kids won't make up for the squalor that's inside the school. It's typical of a public school, just the same as with the kids outside -- unattended. Though some parts of it are cemented, the main stairs made of wood is already deteriorated that the moment Batista climbs through it, he would surely have a bad fall. A lot of unmended chairs are just stacked up and left rotting as well. Some of the kids went here and there carrying some pail of water, raking up detritus, watering the plants, etc.

Before reaching my little brother's classroom we pass by several rooms with elementary classes. I often hear children reciting in chorus the passage Ma'am has given them or sometimes, I would also see Ma'am filling the entire board with chalk, while the children are copying the same. Some classes are just on their way for yet another morning dose of Jumping Jacks.

Education, the only legacy we can leave our children. Now, at least I can make sense of the statistics. I see it every morning.

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I arrived early at the office today. 10 minutes before 8. Official time is 8:30. At this early, some of us would walk to the nearest Select store outside the office building either for the missed breakfast or something to much on snacks. I accompanied Rio this morning to re-load her cellphone. I didn't buy anything but rummaged through the racks of magazine for something new. Unfortunately, Newsweek and Time cost 110 pesos.

Newsweek's front cover is the losing war in Iraq and soldiers coming home. Time's was about the US election, and why it's not everything but George Bush.

On the other hand, you might want to catch this short video clip of George 'Stutter' Bush in The Christopher Walken show. This is hilarious. Hail America!

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expletives

I'm so fucking bored. Lately, I've observed I'm talking too fucking much. But what the hell, what the fuck is this blog for? Oh fuck it. Everything's fucked up.

Whew. I might just have to go buy myself some muriatic acid as mouthwash for those expletives. On a previous blog, I've reposted The F Word's history and applications. But you might be laughing at great heights once you've heard this audio clip with pretty much the same content with just a few add-ons.

http://www.devilducky.com/media/3736

Song in background: The Vagina Song by Weird Al Yankovic.

Oh geez. Father priest, how many Hail Mary's am I going to recite with rock salt on my knees?

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oddities

One of the lessons from our Into to Journalism course in college that stuck to me was the news values -- ironically the element of oddity is enumerated among the roster of news values, simply put, the weirder the news story goes the more likely it will devoured by readers. We have such eye for the unusual that a boxed feature story at the bottom of the front page featuring a revolution in underwear 'that makes you look bigger' beats the crap out of the headline about the recent Moody's ratings on RPs economic performance.

The other day, though it was not a news story featured on the front page, the headline photo of Imelda Marcos really caught my attention. Clad in her usual adornments, she posed for the camera ala Cleopatra. It gets atrociously funny when the caption says she's opening up a fashion line for the younger generation to have a taste of what-has-been during the Marcos era. Why not!??! It's just that it's grotesque.

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I had always thought witchcraft and magic were cool. I had even tried some of the magic spells and incantations but I guess I don't really have that knack, or better yet, the blood for it. I watched The Covenant last night without really expecting much than pure fun...and evil *evil laughs*. But it was remotely entertaining and felt like watching a heavy-metal video with combat scenes. It sucked big time in the ratings but surprisingly it debuted at the top of the US box office some weeks ago. And, it's not really common to watch boys toy over their powers as if it was some vanity project that would girls swoon.

It's The Lost Boys meets The Craft, and the movie derives much of its teen angst and energy on the two films, but I didn't feel anything 'cool' at all. Having powers were supposed to be fun and classy and cool. Though there's really nothing new about the subject -- bloodlines of the sons of Ipswich migrating to America after the witch hunts in France and England -- the writer could have concocted a more interesting take. The combat scenes are too lazily edited and relied heavily on the ear-shattering rock music background to create some impact.

Plus, there's too much skin shed off without the necessity. The producers should have re-titled it as "Half Naked Bodies and the Witching Hour". The director obviously capitalized on too much flesh -- girls conversing in their room either with just panties on or stripping to their undies and oil-slathered buffed-up guys butt naked in the school shower (what's the PG 13 rating for?). The guys talking on the phone shirtless and sweaty and a scene where the villain haughtily kisses the protagonist's cheek is smokin' with homoerotic undertones.

The movie would have been way cooler, not good, if not for the hackneyed script and overused one-liners top it off with actors whose acting revealed more cockiness than mystery. (The main actor, Steven Strait, was the long-haired rebel wierdo in Sky High, and you wouldn't recognize it was him.)

Then, it would really have been cool to be among the sons of Ipswich.

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arrested development

I am so waiting for payday.

Last night, I accompanied my friend who just flew to Pampanga early this morning for a call center work there. While walking along the 2nd floor of Victoria we passed by a pirated DVD store who was playing a Jackie Chan movie in their TV set. I saw DVD copies of the The Queen (an early Oscar favorite) and a slew of movies that are yet to be shown here like The Covenant and World Trade Center. But what delighted me was finding a copy of Lost Seasons 1 and 2 and Arrested Development Seasons 1 to 3. Im such a huge fan of these shows though I do not have the luxury of watching it all the time, especially AD which is on cable. I used to download the latter's some episodes and use to catch it on cable when I'm in a hotel during travels. I saw the exact DVD cover when I was gallivanting the Jones Circle in Cebu, but I just couldn't shed off my money because I did not bring any extra aside from the allowance. Luckily, it's here now in some pirated CD haven.

I recall this one funny episode (after all, what is not?) wherein one character Tobias Funke (To-ba-yas Fyunk-kay) is being pounced on by her materialistic bitch of a wife (Portia de Rossi) on what a dumbass he is for giving up a job to pursue his acting career. The next scene was cut to a close-up of Tobias' business card. He had two professions analyst (of what?) and therapist but which he combined to form as AnalRapist. Now, go figure. I laughed my heart out till tears were shed.

I think what made AD such a cult classic in the US, aside from the uproariously funny narrative (the narration courtesy of Ron Howard) without so much as to lifting a finger, is the unconventional use of camera and editing style. The episodes are densed with brief flashbacks. Most of the scenes are shot hand-held, giving it documentary-feel. It's like chronicling the mishaps of an American family who has only one member whose mind has not gone totally deranged. Despite being Emmy-awarded and critically-acclaimed (America has so much love for the inane, asshole attitude -- look at the success of the Jackass series both TV and movies, and recently the movie Borat, whose subtitle is enough to lure you into curiousity -- Cultural Learnings of America for the Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan -- rottentomatoes.com even gave it 96% FRESH rating), I've read in a mag that it was axed for some time.

I can't help but to allude to yet another example -- two of them actually -- which made me wonder if tackling dysfunctionalism in America in TV and movies is really their cup of tea. Specifically, dysfunctional families. Perhaps, it can be attributed to the fact the American Beauty and the cult HBO series Six Feet Under is under the helm of the same writer (Oscar Winner Alan Ball). AB is one of my all time favorite movies and Kevin Spacey is just so fuckin' awesome in every scene, with his nonchalant no-bullshit attitude. There's this one hilarious scene in the shower and he says "Look at me. A 40 yr old man (or something like that) masturbating in the shower. This is the high point of my day. Everything's downhill from here."

The dark theme and writing was carried on in SFU, and this time the show's eccentricities is highlighted in the family-run business of funeral services. I only happen to wath the first three episodes so I can't speak so much about the development of the narrative. But still, basing on those episodes alone, the theme pretty much centers on a dysfunctional family's attempt at being normal.

Which makes me think. Is America's cloak of superficiality hiding the arrested development of even its own families? Or perhaps is it just simply telling us that despite the milk and honey, their world is not so close to perfect?

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harsh times

According to the local dj this morning it's 49 days before Christmas (was it this morning or the other day?) As I stared droopy-eyed into the computer's screen, I reached my pocket and found 66 pesos. It's still more than a week before the next payday. I'm thinking of the neighborhood office's staff who lends money at little interest. How much will I need to get by?

I should be giddy-up with that remark of the dj and his playing of a rehashed version of a Christmas song. But it's still too early to be thinking of the yuletide even though the weather and the radio waves signal that it's just around the corner.

Yesterday, the owner of the room we're renting coaxed me into this 'autoload networking' thing, in which I have to subject myself in a shabby, overrated, forceful salesman's speech (salesman's pitch) to enlighten myself on the overwrought procedure. With respect I said yes, though immersing myself in some networking scheme is the last thing on mind, a last-ditch desperate effort to stay affloat during these financially tumultuous years. And yet, isn't it a decent thing to do, to engage oneself in tactics and gimmicks to keep oneself sustained?

As far as I can remember, I have been engaged in legit 'sidelines' even when I was in college. I used to do reaction papers, essays of various topics - from the mundane to the ones I really need to research, and I can recall doing a film review/critic a coupla' times for fellow mass communication division-mates. I went to Ateneo - which I left just a year ago after graduation - and I guess up to now it remains to be some rich kid's - or perhaps in most cases, the parents' - stigma of a fairytale-landia of a school. Well, the school doesn't have a problem of lack of parking space like ADMU does, but its still some rich brat's dream come true.

But the misplaced elitism doesn't at all envelope the school nor the student spirit. My father cannot afford to send me to a school such as Ateneo and never did I dreamed of it either. I worked my butt off as a student assistant and during the first year of my stint as an SA, I met fellow SAs and students who didn't even resemble the closest character of an asshole or a spoiled bitch. I remembered writing a feature story on the student paper about SAs and how they managed to get out of the usual Atenista shadow through tirelessly toiling whole day -- studying and working - just to get through college.

Yet it was hard as I neared graduating with all the expenses and stuff that my father cannot afford to subsidize. Someone was supporting my daily stipend, a sponsor whom I got to meet the day of my graduation. But somehow, harsh times force me to do extra work to earn some needed extra cash for school expenses. There's this one professor who really trusts my choreographing skills (despite me really sucking at it and only able to orchestrate simplistic moves) that he manage to call me up everytime there's some affair in their office that they need to perform. I recalled checking some of the teachers' papers and exams during tests.

My bosses and my co-workers at the division I'm working in were extremely considerate and helpful. There was one time I stowed away from a nasty fight at home and being welcomed by a professor in their own home for two weeks.

My classmates and friends were extremely helpful as well. They proved to me that they're treasures in their own right come harsh times. (Sniff) And some of my mass com teachers who really stood by me and understood what I was going through, completed the bunch of streamer-holding support group that I had.

I had to attend the graduation despite the doctor's diagnosis of an early pneumonia. I barely had a bathe for two weeks. Sweat-drenched, with ruffled hair and creased polo, I went up to receive the medal and bowed while flashes of the whole five years or so of my college life passed in front of my eyes. It was one of those moments wherein it could stretch on to forever.

Landing in a job a month after, I realized that harsh times are here to stay. You are faced with the cruel realities of life more than you could ever think of. A year and five months, overworked and underpaid, it seemed that all my rantings went oblivious as it was drowned among the screaming uncertainties of the 7.8 million who's in the same situation. And you'd wish that you will always have that gut to swallow it in.

I look at both ends of my peripheral vision. At the left, its an oversized multivitamin. In the other end, is an empty, dried-up glass.

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red carpet

It's prolly because of the late office proclamation that it's National Youth Day (what the?) or the vibrations sent off by the dreamcatcher whose pendant rests comftably in my grown tummy.

I've given it days to contemplate and so here I am. So Friendster, sue me. NYD or dreamcatcher-less. This comeback deserves Hollywood red carpet. * evil laughs*

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It was not so long ago, I've returned to blogging thanks to the ever-accessible Friendster blogs.

http://jayclops.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/

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Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family, Choose a f—king big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchased in a range of f—king fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the f—k you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f—king junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f—ked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose a future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?

Renton, Trainspotting