Sunday, November 23, 2003


Hmm. It doesn't feel like almost two weeks have passed since my last post. I'm only on Chapter 2 of Voice of the Fire. Mostly things have been sort of dull. I've been busy helping around with family business, so have stayed mostly at home. There haven't been any good movies in theaters in a long time, so I was delighted when Master & Commander finally came out (watch it; I was so glad that the trailer was made from material seemingly from the first 20 minutes only, so the rest of the film was a genuine surprise).

What really consumed me for a while was TV. On DVD, that is. Burned pretty quickly through both seasons of 24. There were 2 days in the 5-day period where I practically didn't leave my room at all except to use the bathroom and to go to the kitchen to get a meal. The second season is better, though there are more instances of situations where things would be so much simpler if characters just explained who they were and what they were doing. It could be used as a drinking game: take two shots every time someone gets tortured; take another two every time Jack Bauer says "I give you my word." If you correctly guess the next person to die, take another shot. I wonder if it's difficult for Elisha Cuthbert, having to portray perhaps the dumbest daughter in all of fiction. The "shock" at the end didn't feel as organic to me as the first season's, though. Here it felt rote, like it was a requirement instead of something that emerges naturally (but I'm told it's picked up on in the 3rd, current season).

Also finished the 3rd season of The Sopranos. Man, did I miss that show. It's a little mellow and somber compared to the previous seasons, but it's still the best show on television right now. No one writes better endings. And the use of music is wonderful. I was happy that the 3 commentaries were all from the people I was interested in: actor/writer Michael Imperioli (his is the best), actor/director Steve Buscemi, and creator/writer David Chase. Now I really wanna see the 4th season.

Also caught a bit of model animation: Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire and Creature Comforts. Robbie's terrific, really funny: a concept by Richard Curtis (who I've discovered is a friend of Neil Gaiman's since before Hugh Grant made him popular), where all proceeds go to the charity Comic Relief. All performers worked for free. I wonder though if the some of the humor flies over the heads of children. Creature Comforts is a collection of some of the early Aardman shorts. As expected, they're great. Will go through The Incredible Adventures of Wallace & Gromit next.


While I like Peter Travers's review of The Matrix Revolutions, I thought Keith Phipps's was the most dead-on.


Found this wrapped around a piece of chocolate:

I burn with passion and the secret flame of love burns my heart. - A. Beccadelli

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I've begun Alan Moore's sole (to date) prose novel, Voice of the Fire. It's a novel that moves through time as opposed to place. 12 chapters, each set in his hometown of Northampton, each set in a different time period, each with a different narrator. The last chapter is narrated by Moore himself as he takes a walk through modern-day Northampton, thinking about the book. The famously-impenetrable first chapter is not as difficult as I had expected. Let me explain: it's narrated by a caveman. What Moore did is he kind of approximated a language that would be used at the time (obviously nothing close to accurate because the differences would be too insurmountable to make sense to a present-day reader), coming up with a glossary of about 1000 words, and restricted himself to using those words only. So for a lot of people, it's really difficult to slog through. I have to read r e a l l y s l o w l y, sometimes even talking out loud. At times I don't get the minute specifics of what he's saying, but there's a general understanding as I go through it. But since it's Moore, it is, of course, utterly fascinating to me. In the beginning, the caveman describes "gray sky-beasts" and I thought, okay, some kind of prehistoric flying animal. Later on he mentions herds of sky-beasts going "from one end of the world to the other," and I realize that he's talking about clouds. Later on, a mention of a black spirit-friend who accompanies him, but disappears during the "dark" (night)-- this is his shadow, which they treat as a separate creature within his tribe. At one point he comes across the body of his dead mother, and his first instinct is to fuck her. Why? To keep her warm. He's surprised that she's stiff and cold to the touch. You can't argue with caveman logic.

It's not dissimilar in that sense to Flowers for Algernon, and reminds me of one of the functions of storytelling: to make you see the world through another's eyes. We've become inured to it because most of what we've seen recently is something close to our own level of understanding. Even if it's set in Middle-Earth. But here, the lens is skewed, and there's nowhere else through which to look, so you're really forced to understand things the caveman way. Certainly, reciting out loud, and slowly, at that, helps.

It's such a thrill to discover these things. :)


Awww... too sweet for words. :)

Sunday, November 09, 2003

LOT/EK (low-tech) is an architectural firm comprised of Ada Tolla & Giuseppe Lignano. One of their ideas is the MDU, or Mobile Dwelling Unit. Basically, they took one of those shipping containers you see stacked on docks and turned it into a makeshift apartment/workspace/office, with expandable slots. The idea is you can have your MDU shipped to anywhere in the world, and live there for a few months before moving on to your next country of choice. A portable home.

I think it would be interesting to do that: travel around the globe with an MDU. Just to see what it would be like, and to see the rest of the world, of course. Wherever you go, at least you'll sleep someplace familiar.

Go to the website for more information and pics. They don't allow remote linking.


"The photographs in this suite are the result of mean averaging every Playboy centerfold foldout for the four decades beginning Jan. 1960 through Dec. 1999. This tracks, en masse, the evolution of this form of portraiture."

If you look carefully at each for a while, it sort of becomes eerily familiar (though maybe this observation of mine will only apply to other men who've gone through more than one issue of Playboy in their lives). It also occurred to me that one might feel like they're staring into the souls of dozens of now-dead Playmates. Like something's going to burst out, catch hold of your gaze and drag you in.


And check out this sweet image:

One of my favorite covers of the year, for The Losers # 6, art by Jock. And for a series, almost all their covers are excellent (so far). Click on the image to see the version with the logo.

Friday, November 07, 2003


Check out Yuko Shimizu. Lovely, clean art. Beautiful, warm colors. Interesting graphics. Mind-bending stuff. And guess what? She does comics! Also check out her series Alphabet of Desire.

Found her through Design Is Kinky, who've also featured Farel Dalrymple of Pop Gun War.


Over lunch I heard someone get killed.

We were listening to an AM radio station replaying an interview that was interrupted by death this morning. A Col. Villaroel was being interviewed via cellphone when they were attacked at NAIA. He and his aide-de-camp were killed. You could hear the gunshots, and people screaming. Someone somewhere screamed "Ayaw naming mamatay! (We don't want to die!)"

But the strange thing is that Col. Villaroel's son is a pilot, who was at that moment about to land, but was told to stay aloft (as were all incoming planes. Must've been a hell of a headache for air traffic controllers). He was supposedly cursing the delay, not realizing it was the murder of his father that was the cause.

These strange things happen ALL THE TIME.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Genie is a genius.

Arcee, her costume, is the female Autobot from TransFormers. And, it being a cartoon from the '80s, you just know she's the female because a) she's pink, b) she's got lipstick, and c) she's got breasts. Of course, her being a robot, I don't know what the breasts are actually FOR, and it would've been nice if, in the series, they showed a proper function and purpose for the breasts, like a storage area for oil or something...

Click on the picture to watch them dance. And by the way, that's her twin brother Regan as Optimus Prime.


Ah, finally finished ER Season 1. It's sometimes grueling to watch 5 episodes straight because the average episode can be pretty emotional already, but 5 in a row can be devastating on your tear ducts. Was also pleasantly surprised to see the Quentin Tarantino episode is in here. I thought it was in Season 2. Been noticing also how some of these episodes are structured. Two of my favorite episodes, "Blizzard" and "Love's Labor Lost," have opposing structures: the former shows a calm before the storm, then a disaster with many cases having to be handled at the same time, and the latter begins calmly but then sticks to one, long, grueling case, that keeps you tense throughout until the bitter, tragic end.


I'm sorry, but this is just damn addicting! I know it's wrong, and there are a lot that are obviously untrue, but still...


Got Urban Dub's 2nd album, Influence. Haven't heard all of it yet, but what I have sounds good. It came with a newsletter about Cebu bands. And from the newsletter, you really get the feeling that the Cebu music scene is a very close-knit community. There were announcements of birthdays, profiles of bands, announcements of where their music was used (a mention of First Time, I noticed), an ad for Influence, and a "catalog" of previous releases, like a real label. Which floored me, in a way, because I don't know anything about the Cebu music scene besides Dub and Sheila & The Insects. They're really putting out a lot of releases, and it kinda makes me sad that that kind of community togetherness isn't as apparent here in the capital of the country.


And something interesting sent my way by Steph, whose CMJ stories are maddening, as will be Quark's, I'm sure, next we meet.

Monday, November 03, 2003

On Saturday my maternal relatives and I went to Cavite, where my grandfather is buried. I got stuck in the van with all the old people: my parents, my mom's siblings and/or their wives, two kids, and my grandmother. And it's interesting to be stuck in a situation like that for 2 hours. It's not my idea of a good time, but I can't say that I regret these experiences because sometimes I need to be reminded of how older people speak, especially with the generation gap. They tend to be slower, and are amused at the smallest things. It was also enjoyable for me seeing them rediscover old (to me) jokes through text messaging. You know, those jokes like "What do you call a scary vagina? Spuki." Some of them I haven't thought of since, uh, college.

During these kinds of family outings I always have a book, in the usually likely event that it'll be dead boring. If I'm not reading, I'm just messing around with some of my younger cousins, exchanging jokes, etc. We were ribbing my 13-year-old cousin who's on Friendster, because it says he's looking for a "serious relationship." Haha.

I also found out that Mars Ravelo is buried in the same graveyard as my lolo. My mom showed me.

Sunday was a nightmare. We were to go to Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, where my paternal grandparents are buried. We left the house at around 3, went to Max's where we'd meet my dad. He was 3 hours late because of the traffic. So we left at around 7PM, and in the middle of horrible traffic, got a flat. We changed the tire, I got a cut that I didn't notice until it was bleeding. What should've been a short distance was another 40 minutes of traffic horror. Finding parking inside wasn't as difficult as we'd expected but we had to drive a long way around because of some traffic scheme to keep vehicles moving. I can see the sense of it, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating, since our destination was pretty near the gate and we had to go all around the park.

I'm frustrated with a number of things: there are no clear signs to get to the comfort room. Every staff member I ask gives a confused answer. I find it myself. None of the lights are on, so I'm walking in the darkness when there aren't any lit candles. When I get there the women's is closed and so there's a long line of women outside the men's. When I get in there's no running water, so the trek was useless because I wanted to wash my cut. I walk back to where my grandparents are buried and bitch to my mom, who was wondering where the ladies' room was. She says that this used to be a good place, because it was run by foreigners. When the management became Pinoy it went to hell. What exactly are we paying for when we know the candles and flowers will be stolen tomorrow, when the lights aren't even ON? When there's no running water in the bathroom? I wouldn't be so incensed if it weren't so obvious. The cemetery, in this country, at least, is busiest on these 2 days. They should have prepared water, checked everything, including the lights, bulbs, etc. One of the park employees said that most of the lights were off because squatter children had climbed up and stolen the bulbs.

Without light reading my book was out of the question, and I'd nearly finished it in Max's anyway (The Best of Ray Bradbury: The Graphic Novel). So I was looking around, trying to observe people, which is what I tend to do when there's nothing to do. To my surprise and disgust, the yuppies behind us talked about nothing but Friendster, with faux-American accents, at that. Utterly irritating. Worse yet, they actually knew someone I know, one of my Comm blockmates now in the UK. At one point the pretentious bitch one was lecturing her idiot brother, saying "Not unhappy means you're happy," and I was rolling my eyes. My mom saw this and asked me "Does a double-negative make a positive?" I noticed the yuppies had shut up, maybe hearing my mom's question. I replied, loud enough for them to hear, "No. Saying I'm not unhappy just means I'm not unhappy. It doesn't mean I'm happy, either. I could be ambivalent."

Later on, a young couple arrives. They're curious because they're going around looking for a tombstone, reading everything around them. This is because THERE'S NO FUCKING LIGHT. Anyway, when they finally DO find the one they're looking for, all they do is set up two candles, light them, and walk away. No prayers, nothing. I wanted to ask them why they even bothered.

As opposed to this lone young woman tending to two graves. She had the candles and flowers set up. She was there before we arrived. I found her the most interesting. I kept wondering about the circumstances: is she an only child? Or is this her husband and son? Why was no one else with her? She just sat there pensively, watching the flames. Right before we left, she left, too, but removed the melted wax from the stones.

The epitaph on the tombstone of the person above my lolo reads: "Death is cruel loss and sad/but love I do not grudge/keep him love." I really hope mine has at least correct grammar. I like the idea of Alan Moore's suggestion: "Where'd everybody go? Why'd it get so dark?" And I remember fondly one of my favorite parts of John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, where a Savannah poet had a bench made for his tombstone on top of the hill where he was buried, so people could sit and see the ships in the distance. He had the words "Cosmic Explorer" engraved; it was the name of one of the ships he saw. I was walking around looking at birth dates, death dates, epitaphs. A four-year old kid. A baby that died the day it was born. Sons that died before fathers, with an empty grave beside them. Meaning the mom's still alive. I found that sad, for some reason. The son had my favorite epitaph in the surrounding area. It reads "Looking forward to that bright morning when we will be together again." It's really touching. When I look, the son has the same birthday as me, but six years older. He would've been 29 if he were still alive.


It's still strange when I discover ex-teachers of mine having blogs. And I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you all to check out CD's online gallery, which is so impressive it's intimidating. It's amazing to actually know such talented people. She has an exhibit opening this Wednesday, 6 PM, 4F Megamall. I forgot which gallery, though; just look around for her name (or a group of people milling about with drinks in hand).

Saturday, November 01, 2003

I went diving last Monday. Actual scuba diving. And had a lot of fun. :) I was a little worried at first; I assumed I'd have difficulty because I have sinusitis, and if you know or have it, then you know what a bitch it can be: occasional hay fever, sneezing fits with sudden temperature changes, crippling headaches. But surprising everyone, especially myself, I took to it pretty well, though I basically had to equalize every 5 seconds. I didn't panic, swallowed water only once (pressing the purge button surprised me with the force of the pressure), and though we were expected to stay no deeper than 10 feet, I got to 25 feet. :) And for my open water dive, we got to go to a wreck! Just a small fishing boat off the shore of one of the smaller islands, with the top portion of the mast sticking above the surface of the water. But underwater it's fascinating. A bush of sea urchins had made their home around the anchor. Corals were beginning to form on the exposed side of the hull, fish swimming all around. I enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness, and just floating lazily around while taking in all the sights. I saw large blue starfish, an eel that scared the shit out of me, clown fish, and all sorts of other fish I couldn't identify (though I saw Dori and Gill from Finding Nemo). It amused me that clown fish are actually pretty aggressive, and defend their homes pretty stubbornly; one bit Neva near her lip. Another, darker fish seemed to be barking at me like a dog. All in all, a lot of fun and a rewarding experience. Thanks to Neva and her family for inviting me along. They're almost all divers, so I was the odd duck. They even went night diving while I-- uh, slept. Neva said it was terrific, though the current was very strong, and it was beautiful when you turned off your flashlight because some of the fish were luminous. Another amusing fact was that she'd bump into sleeping fish who just float around, waking them up with a start.

If you're thinking of diving too, tell us and we'll hook you up with our instructors, Hernel and Joy Castillo, who were very cool and accomodating.


Am going through the first season of ER on DVD. I used to love this show, and probably still would if I didn't gradually disconnect all ties to watching television. But the first season brings back a lot of memories, and I remember learning a lot about structure from the show (especially the episode "Blizzard"), and it was one of the first shows that was almost dizzyingly fast with near-constant dialogue, presaging the arrival of Sports Night and The West Wing. It feels like I'm reconnecting with old friends I haven't seen in a while: Susan Lewis, John Carter, etc… and I'm glad that Neva's enjoying it as well. Best of all, I finally got to see the pilot episode and other episodes I missed. :)

DVD, how I love ya. Neva mentioned to me the other day how DVD was really made for people like me, because I love going through everything, so special features are a very important factor for me in considering whether to buy a DVD or not (especially since they're fucking expensive). So I almost always only buy those 2-disc sets (for films I really love), otherwise the less-than-legal versions can be mighty tempting… I remember when I last had fever I went through all 4 commentaries of both Fight Club and Seven in the same day.


"But that's the beauty of writing. It's all just words. If you can find the right words for a place, you can conjure it out of the air."

I've finished the bulk of The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore. Certainly, if you're a fan of Alan Moore then you'll love the book; it pretty much goes through his entire career. But there's still a lot of questions that editor George Khoury didn't ask, and they didn't go as in-depth into the works and thought/working processes as much as I would've liked. So it's still not the ultimate book on Alan Moore, but it's the closest we've seen. What comes to light is how, amazingly, so much of Moore's material still remains out of print. It's a damn shame. Some of my favorite parts are in the introduction and afterword, which were written by Moore's daughters. Hilarious stuff about what's it like having him for a dad.

"I am primarily a writer. That is what I'm best at. I love to manipulate words, and to manipulate consciousness by manipulating language. That's what I've always been interested in."


And here's a nice little gallery: artistic interpretations of literary figures. All sorts of good art, including a sketch by Neil Gaiman.

Check out Adi Granov's site. Some really interesting stuff. Strikes me as definitely European, of the Heavy Metal/Humanoids variety. I wonder what he'd look like doing interiors. I've only seen covers so far.