Friday, October 29, 2004

Bravo to Bravo!

from Entertainment Weekly (issue #788)

Manhunt: The Search for America’s Most Gorgeous Male Model (Bravo) It’s official: Bravo is now the gayest television network of all time. Approximately half an hour int this America’s Next Top Model knockoff (host Carmen Electra, you are no Tyra Banks), the 16 hottie contestants go tandem skydiving. In Calvin Klein underwear (above). To the tune of “It’s Raining Men.” How this relates to modeling is unclear, but we won’t worry our pretty little heads about it. Grade: B-Whitney Pastorek


Our office decided to have fun today. We asked our officemates to bring their kids for Trick or Treat; we dressed up the office in cobwebs and other Halloween paraphernalia.

Of course, some of us dressed up appropriately.

I bought four small and two big bags of chocolate, and a jar of Milo chocolate bars. When the kids from the other departments swooped in on ours, the candies disappeared in a flash. Talk about tricked out of treats.

Still it was fun for about half an hour then it was back to the usual Friday work.

Straight And Secure

Thank goodness for some of my straight friends, like:

[1] Ron – he thinks he’s God’s gift to women and gays, but he doesn’t rub people the wrong way. At least, people with a healthy sense of humor about themselves, that is. When we first met at the college theater group, he assumed I would have a crush on him. Actually I did but the moment I realized he assumed it, the feeling vanished immediately. He’s married with two kids now, yet whenever he sees me in public (especially after not seeing each other for a long time) he will not hesitate to hug me then give me a kiss on the cheek. Then he’ll proceed to fondle me in public. One time he succeeded in kissing me on the lips in front of his laughing wife. I swear he makes me nervous, not the other way around.

[2] Joseph – he’s actually a Ron-wannabe. He’s a good friend and batchmate of Ron, and when he found out that I didn’t have a crush on Ron, he assumed I’d fall for him. Again, because of that I was turned off immediately. He was the crush-ng-bayan for a while, until another batchmate, Voltaire, came along. Nowadays his hair is thinning, and he has a daddy-pouch. But despite being married and having a kid, he never fails to end his text messages to me with: “Salamat, kaibigan. Talagang mahal mo nga ako!” I cringe every time he does that.

[3] Don – now here’s a man’s man. Even the guys in TA would never think of going against him, because he can outdo them in any physical challenge. This despite his, er, huge midsection. (Okay, so maybe he cannot out-run them, but the moment they stop, good luck to them!) But he will not think twice of enveloping me in a bear hug, lift me up, and twirl me around until I’m ready to throw up. I think that’s his version of macho love. Whatever. He also doesn’t discriminate: he’ll grab my balls just as he will a straight guy’s. I think that’s his version of shaking hands or something.

[4] Steven – I think he got jealous of guys like Ron who can get away with kissing another guy in public, so he started kissing all the gay guys he knew as a form of greeting. Of course that gave him an excuse to kiss all the girls too, which I think was his ulterior motive the whole time.

Looking at these guys, I realize that they’re very secure of who they are, especially with their sexuality. I also realize that they’re of a particular generation, several batches younger than me who are not as hung-up on gays, unlike many in my generation (or older).

So if you point out to one of them that he has a “gay trait” (for example, a certain swishy-ness in his gestures), he’ll just shrug and flaunt it even more. Vice versa, if you point out to me that I have a “straight trait” (for example, a fascination for cars and planes), will I huff and puff and argue on what a “straight trait” is, tautologically-speaking? Nope, I just say: That’s my butch side. Then I smile and drive off on my SUV.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Ewan ko ba, pero excited ako this Halloween weekend.

I really have no specific reason why I should be. I’m not invited to any particular event. I’m not even sure what the events in Malate will be this Saturday. All I know is that the weekend is just all possibilities and that in itself is exciting. Because I’m sure the reality will be... whatever I make it to be. I think I’ll bring out the little horns on my head this weekend and be the little devil, hehehe!

Still, during the day I’ll be an angel. My mom has asked me to take over my dad’s annual duty of driving her to the cemetery to visit her brother who died in a vehicular accident in Saudi Arabia. He left behind my then-10 yr old cousin and his pregnant wife. When she gave birth, poor little JR never saw his dad except through pictures. Now I suspect JR is, ahem, on our team; the tell-tale signs are there though not that conclusive. That’s the thing about gaydar: it can be fool-proof in catching the tell-tale signs, but just because someone has those signs it doesn’t mean he’s a team member. For example, based on first impression this commercial director I used to work with often might come off as a fruit fairy but he most definitely is not; nope, not even close to bi-curious. On the other hand Zeki and Phillip last Sunday looked like your stereotypical male Alabangers who upon mention of the term “drag race” would immediately think of pistons and torque, not pumps and tiaras. Then again this director speaks with a kulot at the end of his sentences that is curlier than Li’l Orphan Annie’s locks, and is an opera buff to boot! Meanwhile, I bet Zeki and Phillip have never worn any kind of make-up ever (stage plays exempted, of course.)

See what I mean? But I digress.

So I’m driving my mom to Himlayang Pilipino on Saturday. Then I’m meeting Leigh for a hotdog dinner (don’t ask; naglilihi na naman siguro ang putah!) After that? The night is young and so am I, hehehe!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Iskul Bukol

I am a true blue blooded one, having studied in the same school from prep to college. But for the life of me I cannot get my mouth to spew the words “I love Ateneo” anymore than I can say “I hate La Salle.” The two statements (and their opposite counterparts, i.e. “I love La Salle” and “I hate Ateneo”) are opposite sides of the same coin, and that coin is sadly out of currency. Those who say them with conviction are just a few steps away from “Gays are pedophiles,” “Muslims are terrorists,” and “Pink is the new black” statements. Hearing such statements have the same effect on me as being knocked on the head with a university seal.

I’ve seen such intensity during UAAP games, which is another reason why I detest basketball. Members from either school show such blind devotion to their alma mater you’d think their school is the Mafia or the Templars or the Judy Ann Santos Forever Fans Club. Well, I’ve been in the same school for 16 years, and honey, it ain’t flawless. And I’m sure the other schools have skeletons in their lockers too.

If ever I had a kid (though that is as likely as seeing a wooly mammoth running around EDSA) I’d prefer he experiences different schools. That is, if he wants to. But as a parent, I’m all for encouraging a multi-mater alumnus. Maybe if everyone did that then eventually there won’t be a UAAP anymore. And no more silly Ateneo/La Salle/UP/AMA Computer College jokes either.

For Nelz: Quotes For His Birthday

A friend gave me for my birthday this book, Movie Talk: Who Said What About Whom in the Movies. Since it’s Nelz’s birthday today, I’d like to share some quotes from the book.

“Working with Julie Andrews is like being hit on the head with a Valentine’s Card.” – Christopher Plummer

“I never knew how to react [when people stare at me]. The right way is the way Bette Davis does it. I saw her in a hotel in Madrid once and went up to her and said: ‘Miss Davis, I’m Ava Gardner and I’m a great fan of yours.’ And you know she behaved exactly as I wanted her to behave. ‘Of course you are my dear,’ she said ‘of course you are.’ And then she swept on.” – Ava Gardner

On Blake Edwards: “A man of many talents, all of them minor.” – Leslie Halliwell

On Klaus Kinski: “He’s not ageing well. The best thing to happen to his career is for him to die immediately.” – Werner Herzog

“I don’t usually get into battles, but dressing Kim Novak for her role in Mr. Hitchcock’s Vertigo put to test all my training in psychology.” – Edith Head

On Elvis Presley: “He never contributed a damn thing to music…. He was successful—hard to account for. Oh, he sings well enough, I suppose.” – Bing Crosby

“After Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren is a bit of a disappointment. At least Arnold looks as if he comes supplied with batteries.” – Adam Mars-Jones

“[Steven] Spielberg isn’t a film-maker; he’s a confectioner.” – Alex Cox

“I had no disagreement with Barbra Streisand. I was merely exasperated at her tendency to be a megalomaniac.” – Walter Matthau

On Elizabeth Taylor: “She has a knack for choosing men who are bothersome and hurtful.” – Richard Brooks

On Orson Welles: “You should cross yourself when you say his name.” – Marlene Dietrich.
“There but for the grace of God, goes God.” – Herman J. Mankiewicz

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Love Is A Stranger

This is one my favorite Eurythmics songs ever. I like how the song dissects love almost brutally, yet underneath the seemingly heartless description is the weary knowledge that one cannot live without it.

Love is a stranger
In an open car,
To tempt you in
And drive you far away.

Love is a danger
Of a different kind,
To take you away
And leave you far behind.
And love, love, love
Is a dangerous drug—
You have to receive it
And you still can’t
Get enough of the stuff.

It’s savage and it’s cruel
And it shines like destruction,
Comes in like the flood
And it seems like religion,
It’s noble and it’s brutal
It distorts and deranges—
And it wrenches you up
And you’re left like a zombie.

And I want you
And I want you
And I want you so
It’s an obsession.

It’s guilt-edged,
Glamorous and sleek by design.
You know it’s jealous by nature,
False and unkind.
It’s hard and restrained
And it’s totally cool,
It touches and it teases
As you stumble in the debris.

And I want you
And I want you
And I want you so
It’s an obsession.

Pick Of The Pics

Three of the black and white photos from last Sunday’s shoot. Frankly, I wanted to do more but the sun was already too low. I wanted to “play around” for the camera but Nelz wanted to capture the serious side of me (though for the middle shot Nelz allowed me a hint of a smile). Muchas gracias, Nelz.

Tomorrow is Nelz’s 30th birthday. Don’t forget to greet the old lady a happy birthday, hahaha! (insert smiley face here)

Grade School Alpha

Going to the same grade school for eight years (that’s prep plus grades 1-7), I got bored seeing the same campus year in year out. But thanks to my over-active Piscean imagination, I was able to transform the grade school into a wonderful place.

There were days when the grade school would be Moon Base Alpha from the TV series Space: 1999. I would be Commander Koenig, arriving at the base in an Eagle spaceship (in reality, our old Ford Futura—bet you’ve never heard of that one, huh?!) Carrying top secret documents (my school books and size one paper), I’d walk straight to the command post (my classroom). The covered hallways became Moon Base Alpha’s force field-sealed corridors; the grounds outside was the lunar surface. The force field was strong enough to keep space out and to shield the people inside from strong laser blasts. However, one can switch off certain areas of the force field should one want to walk on the surface of the moon.

At the command post (which changed every year, as I moved up grade levels), I’d take my place behind the command console (my wooden desk full of graffiti and etchings) and survey the on-line computer for the tasks at hand. The two huge blackboards on the wall became on-screen monitors which often showed enemy spaceships closing in on the base. I’d bark instructions into my com-link (my Bic ballpen or my Bensia pencil, whichever I was using at the time) and the Eagles will be launched to intercept the enemy.

Of course, in my Moon Base Alpha there was no Maya or Dr. Helena Russell, the two major female characters in the series. I had a big crush on the Alan Carter character back then, but unfortunately I had no classmate who was blonde and blue-eyed.

from left: Koenig, Russell, Maya, Carter

During stormy weather I imagined Moon Base Alpha to be threatened by a severe meteor shower. At times I’d imagine it was being over-run by hostile aliens. Or when I’m really bored, I imagine a meteor the size of Araneta Coliseum colliding with the moon, destroying the whole base. After the dust clears, Moon Base Alpha is no more and in its place is the usual, everyday grade school campus.

By the time I entered high school, my imagination was better served in the theater. But once in a while, as I walked down the corridors, they would transform… and somewhere ahead, an alien is about to turn the corner and pounce on me; I set my ray gun on stun.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Take A Picture

When we were younger, my brother and I had identical clothes. Shirts, pants, socks, even underwear, my mom would buy two of each, one a smaller size than the other. I think that was her way of not showing any favoritism to her two sons. My sister who came after me did not have any problems with identical clothes.

Whenever we’d pose for family pictures my parents insist we wear our identical clothes. Of course no one mistook me for my brother and vise versa; he was always the taller, better-looking one. Back then I knew I was no visual match for my brother. At first I tried to blend with the background. Later on, I changed my tactic; thinking that my brother’s good looks may have a halo effect, I made sure I was always beside him. Years later I realized my folly when I encountered the saying, “Ang maganda, ‘pag tumatabi sa pangit, mas lalong gumaganda.” (“When something beautiful is placed beside something ugly, it’ll look even better.”)

That’s what drove me to be interested in taking pictures. If I cannot look good in front of the camera, might as well learn how to take great pictures so that I’ll look good behind the camera. But still, whenever I’d flip through the pages of Vanity Fair or Entertainment Weekly (especially their Photo Issues), I look at those celebrities—especially the not-so-photogenic ones—and think, hey, if they can do it, why can’t I?

That’s why when Sunday came I was a little worried. This was my first serious photo shoot ever, Photo-Me and grad pics notwithstanding. Everything else before that was an aim-smile-and-shoot session. Here I get to (drum roll, please) pose.

It was held at Daniel’s house in Ayala Alabang; he also wanted Nelz to take pictures of him and his brother around the house. He had several ulterior motives: [1] they are about to renovate their house and they want photographic remembrances of it; [2] he needs better quality photos that he can use for his business (say, on their brochure, for example). Me, I just want a chance to play model for a day.

Daniel’s house

But Daniel and I actually have a similar motive why we’re having our pictures taken: we’re not getting any younger and our looks are not getting any better (sans medical enhancements), so why not immortalize our looks now? Years later we can look at our pictures and say, gosh, where did our youth go?

After we met Nelz and had lunch at Festival Mall, we decided to shoot Daniel and his brother first while I went around taking photos of the house. Nelz chose a spot in the balcony for the shoot. When he asked for a chair, Daniel innocently asked, “Do you want a monobloc?” Nelz and I practically shrieked in horror. “I will not be immortalized in monobloc!” I exclaimed.

Nelz shoots Daniel; note the chair isn’t a monobloc.

We started kinda late, so by the time Nelz took my pictures it was nearly 5 pm and light was fading fast. But by that time I was itching to go in front of the camera. We were able to finish one roll (I think) before the light became too low for shooting.

Phillip and Zeki were at Phillip’s house in the same village. They wanted to drop by during the shoot; Nelz said the Zeki must have been under the impression that it was a nude session. Whatever would possess Zeki to think I’ll agree to strip in front of a camera? I wondered. I have baby fats! Besides, I was a bit embarrassed to give Phillip Daniel’s address. You see, we were in Daniel’s house and while he’s gay-tolerant (at least with me), I’m not sure how he’d feel if four faggots were to suddenly converge in his house. He might think, what’s this, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (minus Useless Guy Jai)? My experience with straights is that they generally prefer gays on a more-is-to-one ratio: more straights, just one gay. The more gays they’re confronted with, the more uncomfortable they get.

Luckily when Phillip asked if they can swing by the house, we had finished the shoot. So the queer guys went straight to Starbucks while the straight guy went straight to mass. How queer.

I don’t know how the pictures will turn out. Thank god Daniel and I don’t have identical shirts; if we had, I’d have insisted we’d have a shot together wearing them. As the saying goes, “Ang maganda, ‘pag tumatabi sa pangit….”


(More pics of Daniel’s house in The McView Point.)

Botched Reunion

The batch reunion last Saturday was a wash-out for me because I came in around 6:30pm, just as they were winding things down. They already had the group picture taken, and some of them left after that. I guess their children—most of them brought along their wives and kids, ostensibly for their version of Show-Off-and-Tell—were getting cranky or sleepy already, and wanted to go home after their daddy posed alongside his aging friends.

Surprisingly, many of my batchmates kept fairly in shape. I guess we belong to the generation that has no excuse to not be in shape. Fitness gyms, badminton courts, and Belo’s clinics are everywhere, and we now have amassed enough wealth to afford all three and enough lying skills to blatantly deny the last one. I predict by our 25th reunion I’ll be seeing Botox-ed batchmates. That’ll be interesting.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Just Shoot Me

This Sunday after lunch Daniel/la and I have a photo session with photographer extraordinaire Nelz. We’ll be at Daniel/la’s house in Ayala Alabang.

Personally I’m excited; I’ve attended many pictorials but always at the wrong end of the camera. If you go to our house and look at all the photos—framed or in albums—you rarely find pictures of me from high school onwards. It was around that time that our old camera broke down and my dad never bothered to buy a new one. When we finally bought a new one, I was already in college and I was more interested in taking photos rather than being in them (I was thinking that the still camera would be my stepping stone to making movies.)

One of my best Baguio trips was when I went up with Leigh, cans of tuna, lots of books and CDs, and a camera each. We took turns taking pictures of one another; I had rolls and rolls of all-Leigh shots. My favorite sequence showed her puffing away at a cigarette while trying to answer some silly question I posed to her. Another series of shots has her dancing and twirling away in the fog.

One of the rare photos I have of that era was taken by her on my camera. We were in Café By The Ruins, and I asked her to take a picture of me. That photo is mounted along with photos of other family members in our living room.

I think I’ll be taking behind-the-scenes photos of this Sunday’s session. Wait a minute—I must be well-rested for Sunday! That means no Malate this Saturday evening. Oh well, okey lang. If that means smaller eyebags, then so be it. (I don’t think I can ever really get rid of my eyebags; I think they’re a permanent facial feature.)

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

...Sgt. Peppers taught the band to play!

This Saturday will be the 20th year anniversary of my high school batch. Usually a reunion consists of me checking out just how much my former classmates have grown horizontally. The straighter and more married they are, the wider the girth it seems. It’s as if a married status is license to let go. If one looks great and fit, most likely he’s gay or vain or in showbiz.

But this year I have an additional incentive to attend this reunion. According to a gay batchmate of mine, there are many papa-bles in our batch today. Ooh! This might just turn out to be an interesting reunion after all. We’ll see.

Capt. Hooky

Tuesday I played hooky. After working out in the morning, I called in sick and went off to the mall.

I had a very relaxed late lunch. If you want affordable, no-frills steaks, go to Pancake House. I’m addicted to their tenderloin mignon, with lots of Del Monte steak sauce. Mmmm! After lunch I went to Ice Monster and had strawberry ice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yes folks, that’s the reason why I work out—so I can once in a while treat myself to Yellow Cab roasted garlic and shrimp, Big Brothers Burger with cream cheese and garlic, onions and mushroom, Dayrit’s corned beef, an occasional Nestle drumstick, and either a Champ sandwich in Jollibee or a Big Mac meal at McDonald’s.

Afterwards I bought two new books at Powerbooks. I always make it a point to have something to read during my free time, whether it’s a book or a magazine.

Then I watched for the second time the excellent House of Flying Daggers. Yes, Daniel, Zhang Ziyi rising from the snow at the end was a little too “Sadako” for some, but I “accepted” that turn of event anyway. And unlike Hero’s fight scenes, which are fun to watch again and again (which is great on DVD), Daggers’ fight scenes are not as gasp-inducing the second time around.

By the time I finished the movie it was almost 6pm. Gosh, how time flies when you’re having fun! So off I went to Malate. I’ve been a good boy for several weeks so I’d be naughty this time. But Tuesday evening isn’t exactly a happening day, so after a while I got bored. On the spur of the moment I tried to hook up with Phillip, but he was busy.

So I went home and read. The book I started reading, Michael Thomas Ford’s Looking For It, turned out to be interesting and engaging. I got so lost into it when I looked up, it was almost 2am.

Sigh. I think I want a longer break.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Shoe, Fly!

I lost my only good pair of black formal leather shoes. Last Sunday just as we were about to leave for my brother’s wedding, I got the shoebox out of my closet… and the shoes weren’t in it! I spent several minutes looking all over the house for it, asking everyone if they’ve seen the pair. No such luck.

Damn, that was a great pair! I loved those Rockport shoes because they’re the most comfy for me. My feet are sensitive; they easily tire. That’s why when it comes to shoes I go for comfort over looks.

Now I’m fucking wondering where the hell my shoes are. Did I leave them at some function? The last time I remember wearing them was when my sister got married. Wait, that’s three years ago. I’ve attended several weddings after that. Fuck, where are they?

Suddenly I’m wondering if I left them in some hotel room or parking lot. Maybe those shoes walked off by themselves. Jeez.

My mom told me, “Oh, just buy a new pair.” Yeah, okay fine. But still. It’s infuriating to not have any idea what had happened to those shoes.

Somewhere in Marikina right this very minute, a pair of Rockport shoes is dashing from one street to the next, looking for its owner. One day it’ll spot the floating shoe in Marikina River, and it will think, “I’ve found the Almighty Shoe!”

Hay naku, I’m bored. And where the fuck did I leave my black shoes?!

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Weekend That Was

I’m flipping over two brand-new songs: “Lose My Breath” by Destiny’s Child and “Vertigo” by U2. The former shows the girls back in action, cooing and crooning sexy amidst handclaps and an infectious beat. I can’t wait for the video to come out; I’m sure the girls will be jaw-dropping sexy. U2’s new song shows that these oldies can still rock out along with the younger bands of today. Rock and roll still pumps mightily in their veins. Long live rock and roll!


Saturday evening found me with some of my officemates at the house of the parents of our former boss. She and her husband celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary. Since her parents’ house is in Marikina, I decided to come in 45 minutes late; even then I was the first guest to arrive at their house. It was a very relaxed dinner. It was fun talking to my former boss outside the confines of the office. I can talk to her about office stuff without us having to censor ourselves.

I brought a bottle of champagne. After finishing that off, her dad (70+ years old but still very healthy and active) brought out a bottle of grappa. For those who don’t know, grappa is the by-product of the first pressing of grapes (wine is like the third pressing or something like that, I’m not too sure). Naturally grappa is very, very potent; this one was 38% proof. Had someone cut himself that night, we could sanitize the wound. But then we saw the label on the bottle. It was written in Spanish: “grappa morbida.” Ooooooooh!

We all had a shot of grappa. We ended up talking really late; by the time we said our farewells, it was nearly 1am. I went home first (our house is just 5 minutes away) and showered before leaving the house. I was meeting my friends in Bed.

By the time I got to Malate it was already 2:45am. Bed was not too crowded, which was weird considering it was a Saturday sweldo night. I looked around; some of the “usual suspects” (regular Bed-spacers) were not there. I suspect either they’ve gotten into a relationship or they’re out of town. (Or maybe they’re at the new bar in Makati, Government.)

I met up with my friends, a couple who both work for rival networks. These two broke up a few months ago after 6 years of togetherness; I guess the notion of being single on a cold Christmas was too much for either of them. Being the third wheel, I was hoping I’d bump into Phillip, but I didn’t see him there (found out the following day he left at around 3am.)

I love to dance, but that night the music was off; I think the DJ wasn’t one of their regulars. He was playing songs that were not jumping, and his segues weren’t smooth. Still, with champagne, grappa morbida and San Mig Light buzzing my head, I was in the mood to dance ‘til the morning light. It was past 5 in the morning when we left the place.


My younger brother got married in Protestant ceremonies Sunday evening. (The Catholic wedding will be done after she gives birth.)

My brother’s best man is a guy named Aeus. I think he was the schoolmate of Nelz back in grade school or high school. Nelz has the biggest crush on him; I now see why. He’s not that handsome, but he’s funny, easy-going and very trim; he’s a trainer at Fitness First in Robinson’s Metro East Mall. He’s not aware that he’s sexy, which makes him even sexier.

He dropped by the house earlier in the afternoon. I immediately texted Nelz; he asked me to take a picture of Aeus. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take a picture of him while he was changing in my brother’s room. The door was open and I happened to see him lift his t-shirt, exposing his abs; I almost slammed into the wall near the door.

The wedding ceremony was held on the 31st floor of the Vivere Suites, Alabang. From that height, South Superhighway is a long line of moving lights and bright billboards; inside, one can look down at the 30 floors below. Acrophobic people are advised to stay away from the ledge.

The ceremony was simple, sweet and solemn, until Aeus took the mic to host the reception. He’s endearingly funny without trying to, and when he speaks he has this very slight lisp or slur, as if he grew up in the States and is not used to speaking in Tagalog. Ang cute, grabeh! I kept texting Nelz throughout the night; he was pushing me to do something. I balked; it feels so much like incest.

That night we drove him home to his place in Antipolo. Throughout the ride, he was talking about Angelica Panganiban (“yang batang yan, alam mong paglaki may libog!”), Katya Santos, and Kristin Hermosa.

Sigh. Lalaking-lalake nga siya.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Today Orlando’s having his regular check-up at the casa so here I am whiling my time at the office until they tell me he’s ready for pick-up. I’ve already gone to the gym, and part of me wants to take the MRT train and go to Shangri-la Mall and watch a movie. It’s a toss up between House of Flying Daggers (again) and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Sheesh, I hate being on standby mode!

I’m sleepy; I think I’ll catch a few winks. Later I’ll be wide awake in Bed.


Argh! Orlando needed new brake pads and shit. That’s times four! Add to that his comprehensive insurance needs to be renewed by the end of the month… haaay naku! So when people ask me, “Don’t you long to have a kid to call your own?” I just dramatically raise an eyebrow. Mahal mag-alaga, ‘noh!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Lost And Found

I got home last night to find my younger brother excited. While going through some of our sister’s stuff (she moved out after she got married), he came across a bag full of her cassette tapes… and three CDs which she borrowed from me: The Innocents by Erasure, Madonna’s Immaculate Collection, and Pump Up The Jam, Technotronic’s first album.

What’s kinda, sorta, med-ja, maypagka-kaka as in kaka-inis about dis is this: I thought I lost or misplaced or lent them and forgot all about them. Thinking they were lost forever, I decided to replace them.

Madonna’s CD was easy to find, but the Erasure album is rarely available locally. So I asked Daniel to buy me a copy during one of his business trips abroad (it’s one of the few albums I could listen to from beginning to end without skipping a track). He wasn’t sure if he could get me one, but promised me he’d do his best to look for it. Then one day I saw a copy here and bought it immediately. A few days later, Daniel came back from his trip bearing a copy of the Erasure CD for me.

So now I have three (!) copies of The Innocents and two copies of Immaculate Collection. The Technotronic album, as you may have guessed, I didn’t miss at all; besides, I already have a copy of their greatest hits.

I really need a “librarian” to keep track of my CDs. Or else just not lend them out at all! Swapang me.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Patay kang bata ka!

Why is it that in these local “reality star search” shows, when the young hopefuls are asked to show their acting prowess, most of them choose to act like they are dying? Why is death a popular act?

The “dying act” usually consists of the following stages. First, the hopefuls exclaim something desperate, like “Ayoko na!” or “Huwag! Huwag po! Aaaa!” or “Hindi ko na ito kaya!” or “Paalam na, Mama, Papa!” This is followed by a clutching of the throat or chest or the sides of the head. Then the coughing begins. Cough, cough, COUGH! The length of hacking depends on what the person is dying of: if it’s a disease, it’s longer; if it’s homicide, it’s short and swift. As they’re coughing, they crumple on the floor. And then they lie still.

To quote OMC in their 1997 hit: How bizarre! How bizarre, how bizarre!

Ooh baby, it’s driving me crazy. Every time I see some showbiz-wannabe hopeful doing the dying act, I want to tell them: Patay kang bata ka!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Slasher Songs

(Thanks to Guile for suggesting this episode.)

My friend Marlon once observed that whether falling in or out of love, it seems that all the songs you hear on the radio (or anywhere for that matter) are freaking relevant. It’s like the universe has conspired to drive home the point to you in musical terms (which got us thinking, “What if the world was one big musical?” wherein if a person suddenly bursts into song, the people around him are “forced”—by the laws of nature—to sing and dance along, just like in movie musicals… but that’s another topic altogether.)

Anyway, he noticed how certain songs, if heard, say, during the depths of depression, can possibly drive a person to suicide. It could be the lyrics or the music or a deadly combination of both. And so I decided to compile these songs in one cassette tape, which I dubbed “Songs To Slash Your Wrists By.”

Here I’ve attempted to update and list them down. I noticed that most of the songs are of the 60s and 70s, a reflection of my age. Sigh. I have a pet theory why: the songs from my childhood resonate more because I heard them at an age when my emotions were simpler, purer, less complicated.

So here they are. Remember that this is my personal list, not the definitive list of a generation. I attempted to rank them accordingly, but I decided not to in the end. When you’re sad, you’re just sad. (I also decided to limit my list to English-language songs first. Next time na lang ang mga Tagalog songs.)

The McVie Songs To Slash Your Wrists By:

Crying by Roy Orbison / remake by Roy Orbison and k.d. lang. A break-up song made more mournful by the late Orbison’s operatic crooning and his plaintive plea that crescendos in the end: “I’m crying, crying o-ver yooo-u!” k.d. lang’s vocals provide the torch-song feel to the remake. To-die-for line/s: You wished me well, you couldn’t tell / that I was crying over you.
Say Hello, Wave Goodbye by Soft Cell. Another love-gone-wrong song, about two people who realize their love for each other is no match for their differences. To-die-for line/s: You and I / we had to be the standing joke of the year.
For No One by The Beatles. Lost love never sounded so plaintive. Paul McCartney has been accused by John Lennon for penning all those “silly love songs,” but with this song Sir Paul proves he also knows the flipside to falling in love. To-die-for line/s: And in her eyes you see nothing / no sign of love behind the tears / cried for no one / a love that should have lasted years.
This Guy’s In Love With You by Herb Alpert. Pining for love has never been this painful or desperate. But the song’s arrangement is so deceptively relaxed and mellow, you’re seduced into the song until it’s too late and you’re trapped by the lyrics. To-die-for line/s: Say you’re in love, in love with this guy / If not, I’ll just die.
Without You remake by Mariah Carey. I remember this song sung by a guy in the 70s. Miss Glitter’s version is more bombastic in the end, but that’s okay since it brings out the desperation in the lyrics. To-die-for line/s: You always smile / but in your eyes your sorrow shows / Yes, it shows.
Make It Easy On Yourself by The Walker Brothers. A masochistic break-up song, the singer tells the one he loves, “If you really love him, go run to him.” Such martyrdom deserves a bullet in the head, preferable done in Luneta. To-die-for line/s: No words of consolation will make me miss you less.
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield. Another masochistic song of unrequited love, Ms. Springfield is content to just be around the guy even though he has fallen out of love. Is she for real? But with the way she sings the song with conviction and without irony, you believe her when she says, “Believe me, believe me!” To-die-for line/s: Believe me, believe me, I can’t help but love you / But believe me, I’ll never tie you down.
Cry by Godley & Cream. A cry of hopelessness, this song was made more memorable by the striking music video, with different crying faces dissolving one after the other. To-die-for line/s: You don’t know how to ease my pain / you don’t know.
Mandy by Barry Manilow. Barry is one of those guilty pleasures. Despite the cheese factor, his rendition of this song is more heartfelt than Westlife’s remake. To-die-for line/s: I walked away when love was mine.
Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor. She sings this far better than Prince, making you feel the hurt and pain especially when she reaches those high notes. To-die-for line/s: It’s been seven hours and fifteen days / since you took your love away.
No Regrets by Midge Ure. A song from the 80s! The mournful synthesizers and drumbeats do the trick for me. To-die-for line/s: We’d only cry again / say goodbye again.
I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. Here the remake is better than the original. Whitney cries the song out, pitch-perfect and full of emotion. My only quibble is the last note; where she goes up the scale with “you-oo-oo-oo!” it’s clear she’s just showing off. To-die-for line/s: If I should stay / I would only be in your way.
The Crying Game by Boy George. The theme song from the “oh-my-god-she’s-a-he!” movie, Boy George’s singing is a pitch-perfect torch song for its time. His soulful voice contrasts beautifully with the Pet Shop Boys’ electroni-cool instrumentation. To-die-for line/s: First there are kisses / then there are sighs / and then, before you know where you are / you’re saying goodbye.
Be My Number Two by Joe Jackson. A sad song that’s full of resignation and compromise. I especially like the arrangement: for most of the song, Joe Jackson uses only his voice and his piano, keeping things low-key. But towards the end when the drums come in and the saxophone wails, it’s the musical equivalent of a last-ditch effort at hope. To-die-for line/s: I know that it’s really not fair of me / but my heart’s seen too much action.
Silent All These Years by Tori Amos This is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard even though I’m not exactly sure about half of what she’s talking about. A lone piano with an even lonelier voice—that combination always gets to me. To-die-for line/s: What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts? / Boy, you best pray that I bleed real soon / How’s that thought for you?
No More I Love Yous by Annie Lennox I just love her voice! And when you combine that with the ethereal arrangement of the song, it’s a great ode to disillusion. To-die-for line/s: I used to have demons in my room at night / Desire, despair, desire / So many monsters.
Ding Dong Song by Gunther and the Sunshine Girls. Currently, you can hear this song over the airwaves in stations like 101.9 For Life! and the “Kailangan Pa Bang I-Memorize Yan?” kind. Whenever I hear the refrain, I feel like slashing my wrists. To-die-for line/s: Oooh, you touch my tra-la-la! / Uhmmm, my ding-ding-dong!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Scenes from a Three-Day Weekend

Star Docu

Watching the extensive documentary The Empire of Dreams: the making of the Star Wars Trilogy last Saturday, I found it fascinating to know the following: [1] Carrie Fisher nowadays looks and sounds like Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac; [2] in the end shot of Return of the Jedi where Anakin Skywalker, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi are seen in a ghostly tableau, Sebastian Shaw (the actor who played the adult Anakin) was replaced by Hayden Christensen; [3] the original title was changed to Revenge of the Jedi because 20th Century Fox felt the word “return” was too soft; a few days before the film’s opening, George Lucas returned it back to the original because “a Jedi never takes revenge”; [4] Cindy Williams (of TV’s “Laverne and Shirley” fame) would have made a very young, naïve Princess Leia; [5] Kurt Russell auditioned for both Luke and Hans Solo; [6] Hans Solo was originally written to be a green-skinned alien; eventually he was made human and instead was given an alien sidekick.

The DVD also provided glimpses of Episode 3: Hayden and Ewan McGregor in a furious lightsaber duel; Hayden donning the Darth Vader suit for the first time.

Walk Out

Last Sunday I attempted to participate in this Alay Lakad activity, from the EDSA Shrine to the Ultra. The walk was supposed to start at 8am, but as usual it started really late. So at 8:45am I slipped out quietly and went to the gym instead.

In the afternoon I watched The Bourne Identity. I actually liked the kinetic energy of the film, aided in a large part by the director’s decision to shoot the film with mostly hand-held cameras. This gave the film a jittery feel which echoed Jason Bourne’s shaky sense of self.

While the car chase was well-staged, it was also gratuitous. And the confrontation between Jason and the daughter whose parents he killed in his first mission could have been one highly explosive scene, but I felt the sequence wasn’t believably staged and so it fell flat.


Yesterday I took the day-off (office-approved) and treated myself to a day at the movies. So after working out at a leisurely pace (no more 11am cut-off!) at the gym, I headed for Smegma-mall to catch this Japanese movie, Waterboys.

This 2001 crowd-pleaser is a comedy about five students at the all-male Tadano High School who find themselves—hopeless swimmers all—forming the very first all-male synchronized swimming team. Think Billy Elliot meets Cool Runnings crossed with Speedos.

Like most feel-good movies of this sort, you have archetypes instead of real characters. You have the lousiest member of the swim team, the tough guy who never finishes what he starts, the weakling who becomes a Dance Dance Revolution champ, the math geek, and the closeted queen.

The jokes come fast and furious, a lot of silly dialogue and visual gags: in one scene, the teacher is talking to a classroom full of boys. She turns her back on them and announces loudly that she’s putting up a synchronized swimming team. When she turns around, the classroom is empty except for the five leads, while the classroom door—damaged by the exiting students—falls loudly off its hinges.

But despite the clichés the movie manages to entertain, thanks largely to its charming tone. And it’s a visual feast for girls and gays with a penchant for skinny or wiry-framed Japanese boys in oh so skimpy swimming trunks. The abs! The tight buns! The lead actor is so charmingly cute, I love him already. This movie brings out the pedophile in me. Thank goodness there are really no gratuitous shots lingering on the nearly naked bodies, otherwise the movie would have turned creepy.

After watching Waterboys I wanted to go to the nearest Teriyaki Boy and order sashimi! Mmmm!

I See Kris Aquino!

After turning Japanese, I went Chinese next. I decided to watch Kris “I have STD” Aquino’s starrer, Feng Shui. I never had an intention of watching this movie, but I decided to give it a chance now that I had time to kill.

The movie has more than decent production values (cinematography most of all), the acting okay (Kris’ hoarse voice wasn’t as distracting as I thought it would be), the story serviceable. It’s full of I’ve-seen-that-before moments (the bouncing ball, the video camera capturing ghostly images, the now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t ghosts of many an Asian horror film), but despite them the movie still managed to startle, if not exactly unnerve, me.

What’s unnerving was when I was already at home and about to go to sleep. I suddenly couldn’t make myself switch off my desk side lamp. It was weird. Seems that as I’ve gotten older and more willing to believe in ghosts (thanks to people like my “I see dead people” officemate), it has become easier to unnerve me at night. And so for the first time since I watched The Sixth Sense, I slept with the light on.

P.S. – I haven’t seen Boy Toy at all today. Humph!
Plus I noticed my past few episodes have been mostly about movies. I really should get a life!

Friday, October 08, 2004

“Wondering” Wonder

I just rediscovered—or should I say discovered—this wonderful old song, Nakapagtataka. It was written by APO Hiker Jim Paredes and sung by Hajji Alejandro. When it first came out in the 70s I was so not into OPM. I was such a snob, the only OPM song I really liked was Manila by The Hotdogs. But I was familiar with Hajji’s song, though I never really bothered to listen to the lyrics.

Cut to last week: I was reading a magazine article in which the writer listed his top 10 OPM songs of all time. Nakapagtataka made it in his list. Curious, I decided to check out the APO version, which I have at home. Sung by the composer, Jim’s version was very APO, very laid-back.

Yesterday while I was seated beside an editor, I happened to glance at his CD rack. Lo and behold, there it was: Hajji Alejandro Collection. On the cover it said “featuring Nakapagtataka.” Jackpot!

The writer was right; Hajji’s version of the song is one of the saddest OPMs ever recorded. It begins with a lonely piano intro, at first wistful and tentative, then gathers strength. Then Hajji starts singing; at first he keeps it all in. Playing it cool, he ponders about a love not lost but still gone wrong.

Walang tigil ang gulo
Sa aking pag-iisip
Mula ng tayo’y nagpasyang maghiwalay
Nagpaalam pagkat hindi tayo bagay,
Nakapagtataka, oooh.

Kung bakit ganito
Ang aking kapalaran—
Di ba’t ilang ulit ka nang nagpaalam?
At bawat paalam ay puno ng iyakan,
Nakapagtataka, nakapagtataka.

Then he lets lose the refrain, a cry for truce.

Hindi ka ba napapagod,
O di kaya nagsasawa
Sa ating mga tampuhan?
Walang hanggang katapusan.

Napahid na’ng mga luha,
Damdamin at puso’y tigang.
Wala nang maibubuga,
Wala na ‘kong maramdaman.

And he goes on, slowly letting his guard down.

Walang tigil ang ulan,
at nasaan ka araw?
Napa’no na’ng pag-ibig sa isa’t-isa?
Wala na bang nananatiling pag-asa?
Nakapagtataka, saan na napunta.

By the time he repeats the refrain, he drops his reserve and lets loose his feelings of frustration, helplessness and bewilderment.

Kung tunay tayong nagmamahalan,
Ba’t di tayo magkasunduan? Oooh….

And the song ends as it began, with a piano solo that is wistful and sad. Bravo! This song now qualifies for The McVie List of Songs To Slash Your Wrists By.


While I was finishing this episode, a strong earthquake hit at around 10:45p.m. I’m guessing it was around 4.0 on the Richter scale. We’ll see tomorrow.

Oh Boy, A Boy Toy!

Because of our heavy workload, we’ve recently acquired the services of freelance video editors to keep up with the editing demands. Currently there are three guys and a girl whom we tap to assist our editors.

Today there’s a new guy, cute in a schoolboy kind of way. Of course, all the girls and pa-girls in the office are a-buzz with excitement. A new boy toy! But I noticed he has a ring on his left ring finger. And that’s not all I noticed; he seemed to steal glances at me once in a while. Was he checking me out? Ooh! Wishful thinking! Hahaha!

I have to find out what that ring on his finger means.

For Gino, All The World’s A Stage

The World Stage Design 2005 International Selection Jury convened in New York City on 24-25 September 2004 with the difficult task of selecting about 20% of the most outstanding of designs submitted. When they concluded, the jury had selected 82 of the 494 eligible set designs, 55 of 244 eligible costume designs, 40 of the 140 eligible lighting designs, and 11 of the 28 eligible sound designs. The 188 designs chosen by the selection committee will be presented in physical form in the WSD Gallery Exhibit in Toronto, Canada.

Congratulations to Mr. Gino Gonzales, whose set design of Spolarium was chosen to be exhibited in the World Stage Design Gallery Exhibit in Toronto, Canada on March 2005. Mr. Gonzales is the alternate Scenography Representative of the Scenography Commission, Philippine Association of Theatre Designers and Technicians (PATDAT/OISTAT Centre Philippines).

I remember Gino as a quiet but attentive student, playing around with costumes and props in TA productions when he was still in college. Who knew he would pursue production design after college? So I was pleasantly surprised when I received this morning the email message above. Gino is really talented. Perhaps he will inherit the mantle of National Artist Salvador “Badong” Bernal some day.

Congratulations, Gino! Indeed, the TA Filipino is world-class.


I am amazed that The McVie Show is watched by more people than I imagined. In fact, I just discovered that a former officemate of mine has tuned in, while a rocker from Cebu has also viewed the episodes here.

Suddenly I feel pressured to be even more entertaining.

(pause for effect)

As if!

(pause again for more effect)

As in!

(a last pause, because the effect is wearing off)

As is!

Okay, so a big “Heller!” to Rielle and to Guile and to everyone else who watch The McVie Show but just keep quiet. Why keep quiet? Speak up! I can’t hear you. Here on this mountaintop, ow-ah-oh! I got some wild, wild life! Can you name the title and artist of that tune?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Game Ka Na Ba?

According to Randy (in the Thrill-logy episode), he is 95% straight.

So what’s the 5%? Choose:
[a] necrophiliac
[b] bestial
[c] crooked (as in criminal)
[d] curly
[e] rebonded
[f] in denial
[e] all of the above

Nelz thinks Randy is 5% curious. What’s your guess?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

An Addendum re. The Matrix Trilogy

In my previous episode I forgot to include another pet theory I have as to why The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions failed big-time.

In the first movie it was man versus machine, a very powerful theme that people could relate to easily, given the rise of computers, cellular phones and video games. But the second and third installments saw a major shift in story. We the viewers suddenly realize that the revolution wasn’t really about man raging against the machine; rather, it was machine versus machine. The Oracle used Man (via The One, Neo) as a tool to get The Architect to free rogue programs (those rendered obsolete) from termination; her plan also allowed Man (holed up in Zion) to live. Man and machine thus come to an uneasy truce/stalemate in the end.

By shifting The Matrix saga to the machines, the movies lost their relevance to the audience. It’s very difficult to put one’s self in the shoes of an old woman-slash-program who changes looks from one film to the other, or to sympathize with a French dandy, an Indian couple with a child, and an old Japanese key maker. In the end one could almost hear a collective “Who cares?” when the trilogy came to an end.

Game over. The third should have been titled The Matrix Unplugged. Finally.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Life is what happens in between episodes, in between paragraphs, in between words, letters. Life goes on. Shit happens. Tomorrow is another day. Life is a rollercoaster.

And with that, as I close today’s episode, may I leave you with a quote from Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero: “My son, always remember this, this implacable rule of nature: in every love, however mutual, one loves less profoundly than the other.”

How’s House Of Flying Daggers?

Went to Megamall to watch The Bourne Supremacy but when I saw there was a sneak preview of director Zhang Yimou’s House Of Flying Daggers I watched that instead. After the movie it I received an SMS message from Daniel/a: “Which is better, that or Hero?” I must admit it’s a tough call.

Like Hero, Daggers deals with themes of passionate love hidden under calm surfaces, individual needs versus society’s greater good, loyalty versus deception, unrequited love and the devastating repercussion of jealousy; all that in between gorgeously choreographed fight scenes in picture-perfect settings. It stars Asian megastars Andy Lau (who I found much cuter in his younger days), Takeshi Kaneshiro (gorgeous and charming), and the mandatory Zhang Ziyi (it seems every important Chinese film these days must have her in its cast otherwise it cannot be called, quote-unquote, “an important Chinese film.”)

While the backdrop of this film is political (the dynasty running after a rebel group called “House of Flying Daggers”), it is really a romance movie at heart. The scope is smaller compared to Hero, focusing on three main characters. But like the Jet Li film, this one has layers upon layers of deception. Two police captains (Lau and Kaneshiro) suspect that a blind courtesan/dancer (Ziyi) in a brothel is really a member of the “House of Flying Daggers.” They concoct a plan to flush out the group by arresting Ziyi and then having Kaneshiro rescue her from jail. He’s sure that his charm will suffice to carry out the plan. But as the movie progresses, one wonders who’s fooling who, who’s really blind from the truth?

Many of the visual treats in Hero are also present here: flying daggers, slow-mo action movements, colorful textile fluttering in the wind. I think Zhang Yimou is really bent on engaging Ang Lee on a match of one-upmanship: Daggers even has the fight-in-the-bamboo-forest sequence. But instead of Zhang Ziyi taking on one Chow Yung Fat, she takes on a whole army.

Show-stopping set pieces include: a dance-game sequence that showcases Ziyi’s classical ballet training (it’s like the ancient Chinese precursor to Dance Dance Revolution); a fight sequence in the forest; another one in a golden field; the aforementioned fight in a bamboo forest; and a climactic fight scene which mimics the Ziyi-versus-Maggie Cheung scene in Hero: nature transforms to become an appropriate backdrop to the action at hand. But this time instead of autumn leaves turning blood red, it is snow that falls, at once pristine-white and innocent, yet cold as death (white also brings out the color red beautifully).

Also, Kaneshiro’s Jin can give Legolas a run for his money. When Jin, an expert archer, lets loose his arrows in the air, Yimou’s camera lovingly follows them as they strike their target. Living up to its title, the movie has a lot of flying daggers; the camera captures the grace and beauty of their flight.

The only very minor quibble I have against this film is that of the cinematography. While overall the movie is ravishing to look at, there were some shots that were slightly defocused.

I found Hero’s structure of repeating stories (color-coded to help the audience not get lost) more challenging, more interesting. Daggers is simpler and easier to follow. The former tackles more themes; the latter is more focused. The former is sprawling; the latter more intimate (but the settings are still spectacular—I never knew China looked that great!) The former is about politics and love; the latter is about the politics of love.

In the end, I think this is the more accessible movie of the two. The stakes are not as high as in Hero, but in Daggers unrequited love and jealousy can be as devastating as any political upheaval.

Monday, October 04, 2004


With the Star Wars Trilogy, I realized that I grew up loving several worthwhile movie trilogies. Excluding the more-than-three franchise movies (example: the James Bond movies, the Star Trek movies), I’ve listed the trilogies that mattered to me and rated them according to: [a] mind (a critical look at the movies) [b] heart (their emotional impact on me). The first answers the question, “Were they great movies?” and the second answers the question, “Did I like/enjoy them?”

And so, may I present The McVie Top 6 Movie Trilogies!

[1] The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
Rating: mind (4) / heart (5)

When I reached the end of Tolkien’s books, I was deeply saddened. The characters were so real to me that I wanted the tale to go on and on. Peter Jackson and company’s triumph is that I was also saddened when the movies ended. The movies were so fully realized and so engaging, you believed in the story and characters in every single frame. As a filmmaker, Jackson didn’t break new ground with Lord Of The Rings (though he pushed the CGI-character envelope further); his achievement is his singular and consistent vision, combined with a masterful sense of storytelling on a massive and personal scale. That he was able to shepherd three magnificently-crafted mega-movies (check out the extended DVD versions to see just how much effort and film the whole team spent) in a span of several years is his towering triumph.

[2] Star Wars Trilogy
Rating: mind (4) / heart (4)

George Lucas pushed moviemaking and the movie-going experience into hyperspace with Star Wars, a pop phenomenon which, on closer look is a zippy-fun hodgepodge of conventions from other classic movies. But by placing it in outer space and expanding the story further, Lucas was able to craft the Skywalker family saga that at once felt familiar yet was so groundbreaking (remember, most sci-fi movies before then were far too serious from the popcorn level where Star Wars operates.) I remember seeing Star Wars on the big screen in Circle Theater; when the huge Star Destroyer (chasing the smaller Rebel ship) flew across the screen during the opening shot, that image took my—and countless others’—breath away. The first movie was a joyful rollercoaster ride; seen today, the excitement is lessened but the fun and giddy joy is still present. I find The Empire Strikes Back the most complex film of the three, at once technically better and emotionally richer (“I am your father!”) than the first film. Return Of The Jedi suffers greatly because of the Ewoks, a Lucas weakness that will reach its pinnacle with JarJar Binks.

With Episodes 1 to 3 the collective Star Wars will technically not be a trilogy anymore. But I’m treating the whole Skywalker saga as two trilogies; how the first set will end with Episode 3 still remains to be seen. Until then, I will refrain from further Binks-bashing.

[3] Indiana Jones Trilogy
Rating: mind (4) / heart (4)

Raiders Of The Lost Ark is still a hoot to watch; I still marvel at how Spielberg’s staging, pacing, and fluid camera movements were all put to efficient and entertaining use in this Saturday-matinee kind of movie. What’s lost is the sense of excitement and discovery I felt when I first saw them on the big screen. The Last Crusade wisely doesn’t top the first movie’s kinesis; instead, it adds emotional depth—the father-and-son relationship of Indiana and Henry Jones. Temple Of Doom is the black-sheep of the three; darker and more malicious in tone, it also features a Spielberg weakness—kids.

Seen again today, these “fluff piece” movies lose a certain amount of excitement; gone is the giddy pleasure of being surprised for the first time. Once lost, innocence cannot be regained. The joy of watching this trilogy is to revel in the joy of filmmaking and to remember how overwhelming and larger-than-life these movies once were.

[4] The Godfather Trilogy
Rating: mind (5) / heart (3)

Two of the greatest Hollywood movies of all time (Part I would even eclipse Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane in several critics’ list) plus one vanity project. Two towering cinematic achievements and one family picture. Well, to be fair the first two were also family projects—Francis Ford Coppola’s sister and father were also involved in all three movies. But Coppola was critically chastised for casting his daughter Sophia (definitely better behind the camera than in front) to replace Winona Ryder who had to bow out of the cast. Funny thing is the third movie was the very first of the three that I watched in full; it was also the only one I saw on the big screen (when Parts I and II were first released I was too young to be allowed to watch the R-rated films.) And dang it, I loved it! I wasn’t even bothered by Sophia’s limited skills; though her performance wasn’t exceptional, her inexperience gave an innocence that was enamoring. When I saw the other two movies, I realized what amazing achievements Coppola pulled off. But truth to tell Parts I & II are not “fun” movies to watch; the weakest of the three still had the most impact on me. So while I recognize the greatness of the first two Godfathers, collectively the trilogy only comes in fourth place.

[5] Back To The Future Trilogy
Rating: mind (4) / heart (4)

Like the Godfather, the crown jewels in this trilogy are Parts I & II. Part I was an inventive, exciting piece of time-traveling yarn that had was also full of heart. But Part II upped the inventiveness ante by adding another layer of complication on the first movie’s plot; it was the first movie twice-over (but minus its emotional heft). Personally I find Part II one of the most comically inventive movies of all time. The third movie is a step back in time and in quality. It had the “how-do-we-get-back-to-our-time?” plot of the first movie minus the parent angle plus the addition of a tepid love angle for the Professor. In other words, corny.

The reason why Indiana Jones ranks higher than Marty McFly for me is simple: on their own and collectively, the former movies are more fully realized, more consistent in quality and inventiveness. Marty had a great first and second movie—unfortunately, director Robert Zemekis and producer Steven Spielberg really don’t know when to stop.

[6] The Matrix Trilogy
Rating: mind (3) / heart (4)

The first movie, The Matrix, is really the revolutionary one of the three. Bullet-time, for better or for parody, slapped jaded audiences awake from their cinematic stupor. And its video-game-slash-apocalyptic-movie hybrid made Keanu cool, Carrie Ann-Moss a lesbian icon, and the Wachowski Brothers the darling directors of the decade… until they unloaded Reloaded and Revolutions. Thank god for DVD! I only watch the Tea Room fight, the mansion melee (Neo versus goons on a sprawling staircase), the freeway car chase sequence, and the Burly Brawl (Neo versus the Smiths) in Reload, while in Revolutions I only watch… hmmm, the 20-minute attack in Zion is as tedious as it is full of metal, and the Neo-Smith slugfest ala-Dragonball is actually ho-hum.

Much ado has been made about technologies behind the freeway sequence, the Burly Brawl, and the Neo-Smith final battle. But why did these scenes not capture the imagination of the audiences unlike bullet-time? Were the audiences super-jaded by that time? Were the scenes too visually complicated? My theory is simple: at that point in time, the audience didn’t care. In the second and third movies Neo was almost omnipotent; it’s difficult to emotionally connect or care for characters that aren’t in any real danger. Even Neo’s death in the end had no emotional impact on me at all. (Heck, I didn’t even blink when Trinity died.)

Still I’ll give The Matrix its due: when the camera whirled 360+ degrees around Neo as he dodged bullets, for a brief moment, a film was able to visually flip me out the way the opening scene of Star Wars did; for a brief moment, I was a kid staring in wonder at the big screen of Circle Theater.

Fortunate To Be Unfortunate

Also got Book 11 of “A Series Of Unfortunate Events.” I’ve been a fan of these not-just-for-children’s book series ever since Entertainment Weekly reviewed it and praised its witty writing. The official website stated that the series would only reach a “planned 12 books.” But with the movie coming out very soon (starring Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, and Jude Law as Lemony Snicket!), I won’t be surprised if the author extends the series.

The Force Is With Me

(music up)

To quote Darth Vader: “I have you now!”

Watched A New Hope (that’s the original Star Wars, re-titled when George Lucas released the two other films after it) last Saturday and The Empire Strikes Back on Sunday. My mom wants to watch Return of the Jedi today because she’s dying to know what happened to Hans Solo after he was put to deep-freeze. Apparently she’s forgotten most of the third film; if I were her, I’d forget the portion with the Ewoks too.

But what I’m really dying to watch is the fourth disc, where the mega-documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy is found. Entertainment Weekly already raved about that information-loaded feature. Truly a geek-fest treat.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Mom Update (and others)

The test results last night at St. Luke’s ER showed that my mom suffered from some muscular contraction due to… I don’t really know for sure. Basta, according to the doctor it’s muscular fatigue, not cardiac in nature. But to be very sure, my mom wanted to see her regular cardiologist asap.

So right now I’m in an internet café just outside St. Luke’s, waiting for my mom to finish her doctor’s appointment. It’s a strange place, this makeshift internet café. I’m in on-line games country. Internet jologs rule here. Our potential viewers for Ragnarok The Animation Series are all here, and I wonder if they can be persuaded to drop their mouse and keyboard for 30 minutes every day and watch a cartoon series instead of playing it.

The hospital and the clinics around it are crowded with people; it reminds me of a mall during December weekends. Gosh, is the state of medical care in the Philippines that bad, with one doctor for every gazillion Filipinos? I exaggerate, but it seems like it here. Parking is shitty, nay, non-existent. Oh well.

Anyway, after this check-up I’m dragging my mom along to The Podium. Book 11 of A Series Of Unfortunate Events is already available at Ink & Stone, plus I want to check out if the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD is already available in Astrovision.

Heck, who says a visit to the doctor cannot be fun?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Ang Bilis Ng Mga Pangyayari

Just got a call from my older brother. Mom is now in St. Luke’s ER, waiting for test results. Apparently when she got home this afternoon, she again felt dizzy and worse, there was a feeling of tightness in her chest. So she was rushed to St. Luke’s at around 7pm. Of course, my brothers and sister decided to tell me about this only now—in the middle of my dinner. Of course, I still have two TV plugs in the middle of production.


Bloody Pressure

Yesterday morning my mom felt dizzy. So I drove her to World Citi Medical Center along Aurora, Cubao. Turned out her blood pressure was way too high. She asked that she be admitted overnight just to make sure her pressure goes down.

Discharging her from the hospital turned out to be more difficult than I thought. This is the first time I had to use my HMI card (she’s my dependent), so I was flabbergasted at the red tape I had to go through. What’s worse, different people kept giving us different, sometimes conflicting, information. It took us more than 2 hours just to get her out. Good thing they didn’t charge us for a second day even though we overstayed because I had to run to and fro to complete the requirements.

But at least my mom’s blood pressure is back to normal, she’s back at home, and she has a new prescription. Truly, what the multivitamin commercial says is so true: Sa hirap ng panahon ngayon, bawal ang magkasakit.

Oh Boy!

Uunahan ko na si Leigh.

I’m calling him Leigh’s Belly Boy.

*sings to the tune of “Baby Boy” by Beyonce*
Belly boy, you stay on my mind,
fulfill my fantasies.
I think about you all the time,
I see you in my dreams.
Belly boy, not a day goes by
without my fantasies.
I think about you all the time,
I see you in my dreams

Congrats, Leigh! Make sure you carry him safely until the 9th month.

Now, do we officially start with the name studies?

Listahan Ni Ryan

(The following episode is from an email sent to me by my friend Domi.)


When the Cultural Center of the Philippines gave the composer and musician, Ryan Cayabyab, an award for the arts, this was his acceptance speech.

Ang mga Natutunan Ko Hanggang Kahapon Bilang Isang Manunulat ng Musika:

1. Walang mangyayari kung nakatitig ka lang sa labas ng bintana habang naghihintay ng inspirasyon. Malimit na ito ay hindi dumarating.

2. Kapag mayroon ka nang naumpisahan, tapusin mo.

3. Kapag may pumansin sa nilikha mo dalawang bagay lang ang gagawin mo: una, kung ito ay pinuri, ngumiti ka; pangalawa, pag ito’y binatikos, humalakhak ka. Huwag mong pakawalan ang iyong bait. Mabuti nga’t napansin ang likha mo.

4. Lumikha ka lang ng lumikha. Tumigil ka lang pag patay ka na. Siyempre.

5. Huwag mong liliitin ang mga nilikha mo. Minsan ito ay may kapangyarihan na hindi mo matalos.

6. Sa kabilang dako naman, huwag ka nang magmalaki. Maraming mas magaling kaysa sa iyo, kung hindi ngayon, sa mga darating pang panahon.

7. Hindi sa iyo ang mga nilikha mo. Ginamit ka lang na isang daan upang maisalarawan mo ang kalagayan ng iyong kapanahunan at kapaligiran.

8. Magpasalamat ka sa mga taong nagpakita sa iyo ng daan.

9. Magpasalamat ka sa bayan mo na iyong kinalakhan.

10. Magpasalamat ka sa Diyos dahil ikaw ay humihinga at ikaw ay isang alagad ng sining!

May pahabol pang isa: Hangga’t maaari, huwag ka nang dumakdak ng dumakdak, tugtugin mo na lang.