Friday, December 31, 2004

I can't remember a more depressing holiday season than this one. Just locally we had 2 bad typhoons one after the other, followed by floods and landslides resulting in multiple casualties and millions in property damage. Of course, there is the utter devastation that nature unleashed with an earthquake and subsequent tsunamis upon South Asia, which we were, luckily, spared. The death toll last I heard had passed the 120,000 mark, when just the other night it was 80,000. You can see some video footage of the tsunamis here. Just thinking about that kind of destruction can boggle the mind. Entire villages and coastlines rendered, entire families disappearing. I was watching BBC and they were interviewing this tourist in the hospital, and he was talking about how he was holding his son in his arms and when the wave hit his son just vanished. He was trying to get out of the hospital to join his family in the search for the boy but they wouldn't let him go because his injuries were still too severe for him to be moving about. The whole interview he was semi-weeping and it was just heartbreaking. And that's just one story out of thousands. So many people still haven't been accounted for, even, at one point, both Arthur C. Clarke and Jet Li.

Back to local, and just among people I know, some friends have lost family members, and others have broken up relationships.

This whole year has been kind of weird. There didn't seem to be a dominant feeling about it; there were good times, and there were bad times, but mostly a kind of blah-- punctuated occasionally by the good and bad. And maybe we hold on to those good and bad times as extreme points in contrast to everything else that was pretty much same ol', same ol'.

I'm not a very religious person. These holidays, I pretty much treat as a time for giving thanks.

This year my dad lost 2 siblings, his last living sister and his eldest brother. Both to cancer, which had already claimed his father and eldest sister. It came up during Christmas dinner, to think about what we've lost. It was an awkward moment for me, because I realized that my dad still has 3 brothers left. If I lost 2 siblings, I'd be alone. I wondered about families who would have their first Christmas dinner minus a family member. My tita who lost her husband, my tito who lost his wife. Friends who had lost family members. Even the De Venecias. Their youngest daughter had been in classes both Neva and I had taught. Though we didn't really know her, it's always sad when someone younger than you-- and someone that young-- dies. Someone I know died around Halloween. He was slightly younger than me, a fresh graduate. I didn't know him very well either, in fact I'd only been with him twice, but both times we had genial talks about photography; at the time I was saving up to buy an LC-A and he wanted to get my Quad Cam. When someone younger than you dies it's always a sharper reminder of your own mortality. You feel like it shouldn't happen, which I imagine any parent feels when their own child dies before them.

Is that what we are left with, at the end of the year? To take comfort in that things could've been much, much worse, and in the light of all these surrounding tragedies, we got off lucky? Look around you, at your family members who are still with you, friends and loved ones thankfully in good health. A home and hopefully a job, with clothes and food and things you love: books or comics or films or music or art. Hug them a little tighter, laugh at their jokes a little louder, appreciate things a little better.

Giving thanks.

It's more than enough.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

In the department of people with too little to do, someone has made the Michael Jackson video "Thriller" using nothing but Legos. And on this forum, some guys have started photoshopping stills out of Lord of the Rings. Most are crap, but one or two show some kind of clever wit behind them. Examples:

Randy Lander has an article up about his favorite comic covers of 2004. I agree with some of them, particularly the work of James Jean (who has an artbook coming out in March), Jock, Jim Rugg (great attention-getting covers for a new series), Tony Moore, Frank Quitely (inspired covers for We3), and Mike Huddleston (a very underrated artist). I love Jo Chen's art as well.

But something that I suspected has been confirmed, and it is very very exciting. And if anyone's interested, that's what I want for Christmas next year. Can I get a yeah-ha?!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Not only is there a Clive Owen Sin City poster (finally!), but the trailer's out! And it looks awesome.

The Get Shorty sequel Be Cool has its trailer up, and I'm a bit disappointed that it's not Barry Sonnenfeld directing, but it is nice to see Chilli Palmer again. The Weather Man, after The Family Man & Matchstick Men, may see Nicolas Cage typecast more than he already is, but I actually liked this trailer, and just hope that Gore Verbinski can deliver the emotional goods, the way I was surprised by Brett Ratner's The Family Man. Doug Liman's remake of Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really interest me, other than the action scenes. Hope it'll surprise me too. And via Jason, Appleseed is looking sweeter and sweeter.

Also, check out Woody Allen's Melinda & Melinda & Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.

July 16 sees the publication of Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince.

This Red Meat strip reminded me of a specific scene in Spaced:

Friday, December 17, 2004

Sorry, been busy, I've been meaning to post...

I saw 2046 again, last Sunday, by myself, at the refurbished Greenhills theaters. It was my first time there since it was renovated, and the shape of the theaters sucks. It's very wide, so when I thought I was choosing a seat in the middle of the theater I thought I'd be a good distance from the screen, but not close enough to the rear that you can hear the projector whirring, which I grew to hate especially during all those Film Festivals they used to have at Shangri-La Plaza (which has since also refurbished its theaters, though I haven't been yet). But no. Despite being in the middle of all the seats available I was still too close to the screen for my comfort, and just felt sorry for everyone else sitting in front of me, which was nobody. There were unfortunately only less than 10 people, and the couple to my right left after about 30 minutes. The family of 3 seated behind me I was walking behind when the film ended, and the daughter who was about my age hated it, remarking "What was with their hair?" which had me remarking, "You fucking imbecile you should've been aborted," although I said it in my head, not out loud. But the dad liked it, and the mom didn't speak. So points for daddy, but sorry, your daughter's a doorknob.

By and large, my initial impression hasn't changed. I do really like the film very much, and focused on different details this time around. I think I have a better appreciation of the structure this time around, too. The beginning part is intended to be confusing because it's still out of context, which is provided later (and repeated, in case you really don't get it). The character arc of Chow Mo-wan is more coherent to me now, especially with the favor to Bai Ling at the end, AFTER the Faye Wong sequence.

The film really is ripe for examination and speculation. What's the story behind Gong Li's hand? Why was futuristic Takuya Kimura injured after departing 2046? Is it meant to be a literal translation of Chow's emotional injuries? Where is the significance of 2046 in regards to what it means for Hong Kong? Harvey has an idea, but if anyone else can shed more light on this I'm all ears. I have this idea of 2046 being an ideal for the character of Chow Mo-wan, because it was in that room that he had his happiest moments with Maggie Cheung's Su Lizhen, and that's why it represents, in his fiction, a happy place where nothing ever changes, and thus, no one ever leaves. I think that was his dream: to recapture, or return to that room, and never leave (I think dialogue with a similar tone/spirit is in one of the deleted scenes of In the Mood, but I'm not sure).

I'm now less convinced of Chow's feelings for Bai Ling. Not to belittle Bai-- if you remember, the story stayed with her more than it did Chow for a good while. Her feelings were intensely genuine, and now that I think about it their whole relationship was another echo of Days of Being Wild. How Chow treated Bai, Leslie Cheung's character treated both Maggie Cheung and Carina Lau. I don't think Chow saw Faye Wong as a challenge, either. I think that she reminded him of Maggie Cheung's Su Lizhen (the writing helps). Perhaps this is why he wanted to help her with her relationship despite its circumstances. If he couldn't have his happy ending, he could at least help encourage others to find theirs. Almost a romantic notion, that in an alternate universe, he and Su Lizhen could've ended up together.

Also, little smatterings: Takuya Kimura was EXCELLENT. The first and last shot are the same: the resting place of the secret, which was also the last shot of In the Mood. The smeared lipstick of Gong Li in the beginning, which Neva first brought to my attention, being explained in the end.

Any film that has inspired this much thought given me so much to chew on has to be on my list of favorite movies of the year.

The only place it's showing now (practically) is Glorietta 4. Only lasted a week in most places. :(


Christmas traffic has now reached the point where I don't want to leave the house anymore. My blood pressure goes up, I swear like a sailor and basically get into a rabid bloodthirsty berzerker rage. The worst part of it is I sometimes end up in a bad mood whenever I get to where I'm heading, which is bad news if it's a party, or meeting up with Neva.

The better-quality new Batman Begins trailer is up. And here's the trailer for Constantine, which bears no resemblance to the character I have enjoyed reading since high school.

Here's a short film adapting a short Sin City story. Not bad.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


A new Batman Begins teaser trailer can be viewed here, though a better-quality version is expected Monday.

And here is the teaser for Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, for next summer. That was fast. I thought this was still a ways off. Proudly claiming the "most expensive movie ever" tag.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A second teaser poster for Batman Begins, also tres cool, and, more than the first, actually looks like it's been ripped from the pages of a comic book.

Terrence Malick's first film since The Thin Red Line, The New World, has a trailer. And here's the trailer for Tim Burton's Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. It looks like a scary film. Good. Would you like to see the full uncensored sex scene deleted from Team America? Pervert.

Brother, can you spare $20 million? I'm thinking of buying myself a submarine. You know, for when I feel like going to Boracay over the weekend.

An Oldboy toy! Wicked!


[minor spoilage]

So. 2046.

It did not blow me away. I like it a lot; maybe I even love it but just don't know it yet (I still have to see it maybe 2 more times). At first, I was going to write "I don't know if I'm blown away by it" but then thought to myself "Well, if I'm not entirely sure about that, then it definitely means I wasn't." Being blown away is not a state of uncertainty.

This is not a terribly bad thing, because honestly, it was near-impossible to meet my expectations, built up over 5 years of half-starts and still-in-progress-es, and the director (one of my favorites)'s previous work.

I love so many scenes, so many moments, but structurally I did not find it organic. Unlike with In the Mood for Love, I felt more at a distance with 2046, like I couldn't really get to know the characters the way I wanted to. Maybe that's intentional, maybe it's something on my part.

As always, I love the music. Wong Kar-wai's always been good with that, though some people have found the repetition of certain songs annoying. I'm not sure if it's the first time he's used opera, but he uses it to good effect here, and bringing back songs from Days of Being Wild struck a nostalgic chord. This underscores very well those parts where he links 2046 to characters from Days of Being Wild and In the Mood for Love. I was also delighted to hear Kieslowski regular Zbigniew Preisner's work included. And as usual, he continues to be inspired by Latin American music, particularly with the song that introduces Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi).

As far as cinematography goes, I have to admit I was expecting a bit more. Though the feeling isn't really disappointment. The use of color is excellent, but the composition of shots and movement of camera was a little more reserved, a little restrained. Which, considering the subject matter, I thought wouldn't be the case. There weren't moments or stylishly-cut sequences that made my jaw drop. The closest thing was the occasional juxtaposition of 2 shots, usually conversation scenes. And one shot of the Carina Lau android going from sorrow to glee (and red to blue) in a split-second. But again, this means more concentration on the narrative, not necessarily a bad thing.

Relating the films together satisfies a fanboy aspect of me but I have to wonder about how it affects the characters from a macro point of view. Are we to understand that Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) was in Days of Being Wild (the very last, seemingly useless scene), and in the unseen wake of the events of that film met/consoled Carina Lau, then got married to someone for In the Mood, then, broken by the events in that film, becomes a cad in 2046? That's some arc! Why is he such an asshole to Bai Ling, when it's hinted he may have found the closest thing to genuine feeling (or did I just answer my own question)? And, in the next "episode," why is he so nice and encouraging and supportive to Faye Wong's character? I would like to think it's not merely because of a superficial attraction.

I have a massive crush on Faye Wong. Ever since I saw Chungking Express. I remember making my family wait while I finished A Chinese Odyssey 2002 (produced by Kar-wai, shot by Doyle, starring Tony Leung, Faye Wong, Chang Chen, and Vicki Zhao; watch it, it's cute fun) at my cousin's place, even though they already wanted to go home. Remember the Melissa Auf Der Maur post? The next of that kind was supposed to be Faye Wong, and it's been sitting half-written in some file for months now. I successfully kept my cool when I found out Quark saw her in Taipei (and a little saddened to hear of some diva-ish behavior). I didn't realize HOW much I'd missed her until I saw her onscreen. She didn't look like she'd aged a bit. The same big, inviting eyes, same cute nose, the same cute expressions that look like they were headed for another emotion but stopped short. It was an utter delight to see her again, hear her voice, see her move. Do you remember what she was saying in Japanese? It gains more relevance later in the film, after more information is disclosed.

It's interesting to watch the scenes set in the future, or the storyworld of "2046," because you have to look at it, at least, on 2 levels. Simply, as narrative, what transpires between the characters, and underneath that, as extensions of what Chow feels towards his life and the characters that orbit him, and how he disguises/masks/subverts those feelings. Because of the characters orbiting Chow, I feel that 2046 is more of a spiritual successor to Days of Being Wild than In the Mood was (and initially hyped as).

Alexis and I still wonder if this is really the final, final cut, because Chang Chen and Maggie Cheung seem to be excised from the film almost completely. Also, there are continuity errors. Big, glaring ones like wasn't a certain character dead? How did they turn up again later in the movie? And of Bai Ling, Chow Mo-wan says "That's the last time I ever saw her"-- TWICE. Mysteries remain, like what's the story with the black-gloved hand? In a more tsismis vein, what's with the naming of a character after a famous Chinese actress who was exiled for acting in Red Square and had a hiccup of a scandal involving Doyle earlier in the year?

I've been thinking a lot about storytelling recently, and the devices/tricks at hand. I'm more analytical towards 2046 than I expected. Partly because I was re-reading articles on Wong Kar-wai films (coming again, I suppose, from the level of excitement/anticipation that preceded it). So I'm looking at what he's using again: repeating patterns, both in the film and in the structure of the film. Echoed/underscored by music, dialogue. Voice-over narration. Themes explored: longing, coping, memory, the passing of time. Where would Wong Kar-wai be without narrow corridors, too few places to eat (so characters could keep bumping into one another against their will), and hotels that only have one phone? In a way, again, a fanboy part of me is welcoming to these elements. But also a small part of me demands the new. One of the great things about In the Mood was it was made as a reaction to Wong Kar-wai style being appropriated by everyone else. So he abandoned his trademark voice-over, tried some new tricks and it was great. He got to this great "show over tell" aesthetic that I was somewhat hoping to see here. But the voice-over narration favors the "tell over show" style, especially when he returns to a full ensemble cast and not the laser-intense focus on 2 characters that In the Mood was. At times, though, the voice-over felt like spackle applied to the gaps in story and continuity. Hence my impression of lack of organic development. I suppose this is an effect of Kar-wai's process. Since he has no script, the story comes together in a very unique way, and to cover up gaps he has to use narration. This connects with what I mentioned earlier about feeling at a distance: without narration in In the Mood, I was more taken in by the characters' stories, because it unfolds in front of me at the same time it does to them. In 2046, we are told what happened. Sometimes it's already in the past, sometimes the narrator wasn't there to see it but was told the story, and is now relating it to us. This is maybe unavoidable with so many characters, but that intimacy and shared experience is sacrificed. The problem with too many characters is you can't give time to each, not as much as you'd want, and you end up short-changing some or a lot of them. Think about it: what do we really know about some of the characters in the film? What we're told by Chow. Because there just isn't enough space to show scenes denoting character; the "plot," as it were, must go on.

I'm a little wary about writing this now, because I wonder if my opinions will change upon the second and third viewings.

Anyway, sorry this went so long. Just thinking out loud.

ADDED: After re-reading the above, I want to reiterate that I really do like the film very much. :)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Out of the blue, after 5 years of waiting...

2046 comes out today! Hurrah!

And Jonathan Glazer's Birth. And Takashi Miike's One Missed Call. Both of which mark the first time their respective directors have had films in our theaters. A very good thing indeed, especially since there hasn't been ANYTHING interesting since The Incredibles came out!

Another reason to love Iain Banks: he writes "the most impressive re-read this year has been Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore (Top Shelf Productions Inc.), a neglected masterpiece." in his recommendations to Guardian readers (he also mentions Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle & China Mieville's Iron Council).

Another great car ad (and super-cute at the same time).

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Fuck yeah! Please be good. Please please please.

I'm trying not to keep my hopes up, so I won't be too disappointed if it blows, and I'll be totally blown away if it rules the earth. But they do make it difficult...

June 17! Can you believe it's so far away!?

Oh yeah, and Chris Columbus is going to direct the Sub-Mariner movie... after he's done with Rent! Oh, the poor Rent & Sub-Mariner fans...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Is it the best ad ever? I think it may well be. All my geek/fanboy molecules started shaking when I saw it. The live-action TransFormers film in development better kick this shit into the ground! Or there will be bloodshed!


How sweet. Godzilla got his own Hollywood star, at the age of 50. Supposedly the next one, Godzilla Final Wars, will be the last, but you just never know with this guy...

There are some new Mirrormask pics here. And it's been a while since we've had any Red Meat...


Looking for inexpensive books? Try knocking up Dating Kundiman. Tell 'em I sent ya.

Here's a nice article by Jonathan Franzen (author of The Corrections) about Peanuts and his childhood.


Here's another thing that looks mighty interesting: a DVD collaboration between This American Life's Ira Glass, composer Philip Glass, and cartoonist Chris Ware, called "Lost Buildings." It's a story, narrated by Ira, with music by Philip, and hundreds of illlustrations by Ware. Thing is, it's only 22 minutes, and I don't know how much it is (but it comes with a nifty 96-page book). Still, I checked the preview, and liked what I saw. I like to see the possibilities with this kind of storytelling being explored. I especially like the reveals of larger illustrations from a small detail.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Some sad news as arguably the best comic store this country's seen closes its doors. :(

Original message follows:



30% to 50% off on Comics and Manga

from December 1 - 18
Store Hours: 10am to 530pm, Monday to Saturday

It has been a pleasure serving you for the past three years. We have met so
many wonderful people and learned so much about life, business and ourselves.
We thank you for your loyal patronage.


**For those with consignments or reservations with us, please settle your
business by December 10, 2004.

Monday, November 29, 2004


You trust me, right? Then download this. Watch. Enjoy.

It was made by a fan. I think I like it as much as the real one.

Here is the ad for 24 Season 4. No spoilers, really, for those who haven't seen Season 3 yet, except that *gasp!* Jack survived! I guess the news of no other returning cast members wasn't entirely accurate, because Chloe's here, which is good. I imagine they'll turn up later on in the season, in different ways than expected. Reminds me of Traffic a lot.

Huh. 2046 is already on DVD.

The new Chabon-edited McSweeney's anthology came out already.

Are you filthy rich? Don't know what to do with your money? How about buying me this for Christmas? That's every single title in the Criterion Collection. The ones still in print, anyway.

Forgot to link these weird-ass Japanese McDonald's commercials. One with a metrosexual, another with a woman. Not that just having a metrosexual or, God forbid, a woman makes it weird, but they're wearing-- ah, just watch it.
What a splendid, lazy day! :)

Friday, November 19, 2004

Last night's Ciudad Anniversary gig was great. Congrats to both the band and Kathy, who organized it. I was glad to see the videos that I hadn't seen yet, and some people I hadn't seen in a while. Gweilo's Eastwood has a kind of "Later with Jools Holland" feel to it, what with the band performing area in the middle of the room as opposed to against some wall. The lighting gave it that impression too. The problem was, and this is a biggie to me: THE VENTILATION WAS SHIT. Smoke fucking everywhere! I hated it, Neva hated it, even other smokers hated it. At one point I was sitting near 3 girls who were all smoking, and I had to get out of the room because my eyes were stinging and I wanted to stab their breasts. A minute later, Mico came out for the exact same reason. I really wish the smoking ban was nationwide. Who'da thought I'd thank Binay for something?

It really sucks when you get home, and you're so tired you just want to get to bed, but even though you've changed, you catch a whiff of yourself and smell like a goddamn ashtray. It makes the blood boil instantly. I don't understand how smokers kiss each other. How do they stand it? Neva's got a screed going on her blog, I'm still thinking about what to put in mine.


Current wallpaper:

Neva and I have become obsessed with The Office. It has been described by The New Yorker, of all snobs, as "perfect." And it may well be. Of course, that's subjective. But we utterly, utterly love it. We love it so much we know the theme song by heart. We love it so much that at random times of the day we'll crack up by ourselves because we just remembered a scene. We love it so much we were fighting over who would use the computer first because we both wanted to go to the official website. This, after going through all 12 episodes of the main series. There were only 2 seasons (called "series" in the UK), 6 episodes each, and then a 2-part Christmas special, each part an hour long (collectively called The Office Special). We haven't seen The Office Special, and are dying to. DYING, do you hear?! The ending of Series 2 isn't so much a cliffhanger as it is a downer, and with the prospect of more material, the suspense is unbearable. I almost succumbed to reading online synopses. When I look for websites where I can download the Special I only see part 2. :(

It is supremely funny, despite not adhering at all to the typical sitcom format. There is no laugh track, no music either. It's not taped in front of a live audience. There aren't even any set-ups like punchlines, etc. Its format is the mockumentary, and the humor comes from the characters. But one of the things I love most about The Office, and something that seems to be common to some of the best British comedy, is that, underneath the surface of everything, SOMETHING SERIOUS IS BEING SAID, but with such grace, style, and subtlety that it never comes across as preachy or self-important. And if you pick up on it, you feel better for it because it's something you worked at, it's like a reward you earned instead of something that had to be handed to you on a silver platter.

The show can also take turns to drama at the drop of a hat, and these scenes are just as effective as the humorous ones. The romance between Dawn and Tim, for example, is almost achingly painful to watch, because of their circumstances. And since the format is a mockumentary, it results in something interesting: all their movements, flirtations, gestures are careful, guarded almost, because their characters are under the impression that they're being watched by cameras. So it perfectly loads the smallest things: a laugh, a glance, a pat on the shoulder-- with so much meaning and almost-yearning that it makes you want to rip out your hair.

My favorite character is Tim, played by Martin Freeman. He has the best sense of humor, and his expressions are priceless. I looked him up on IMDB and was surprised to find that I'd seen him lots of places before: in Ali G In Da House (yes, I saw it; the first half's not bad); as the male porno actor in Love, Actually; he has a cameo in Shaun of the Dead; in fact he was in a short film that played at the Edinburgh Film Festival. And I'm gladdened to see that he was given the role of Arthur Dent in next year's Hitchhiker's Guide film. I hope it's good. He deserves to be big.

Of course, consequent research has turned up that NBC is making an American version of The Office for their '05 season, with the name The Office: An American Workplace (ugh). I don't know, I can't help but feel that this is bad news, even if series creators/writers/directors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are executive producers, the writer's Greg Daniels (alum of SNL, The Simpsons, and Seinfeld), and the guy they got to be their "David Brent" is the hilarious Steve Carell. Early rumors decry the show as tripe. Oh well.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Do you have, or know someone who has, The Office Special (the 2-episode Christmas specials that conclude the series)? And would you lend it to me?


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Come to Ramon.

Well, actually I'm not going to be able to afford this for a while. And I'm still a little torn between it and this:

What would you get? Whatever happens, I'm already saving up for this:

And I'm also thinking of this, which I have a soft spot for.

I really thought I had linked to John M. Ford's 110 Stories before, but I can't seem to find it in the archives. Anyway, it's a poem about 9/11, one of the better ones I've seen. And some guys made a short film about it, and it's pretty affecting. Watch it here. And some Neil Gaiman fans who are taking up production design made a "book trailer" for Coraline that's pretty damn good.

Susanna Clarke of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell fame wrote a short story for the New York Times on Halloween. You can read that here.



The trailer for Danny Boyle's latest film, Millions, is up here, but I can't seem to get it to work. This is the adaptation of Frank Cottrell Boyce's book of the same name, which is great fun; buy and read it if you see it. I really hope the movie's good. :)

Finally, the Ocean's 12 trailer, the one with actual people in it. David Gordon Green's latest, Undertow, looks to be a departure from his previous works, and is produced by Terence Malick.

Pedro Almodovar's latest, Bad Education, as well as the new offering from Alejandro Amenabar, The Sea Inside. Walter Salles's US remake of Hideo Nakata's Dark Water.

Speaking of Hideo Nakata, the teaser for The Ring 2, from an original story by Ehren Kruger.

And the US trailer for Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement.

I don't know anything about this film High Tension, and this trailer would be pretty normal, if not for the clever use of Sonic Youth's cover of The Carpenters' "Superstar." Check it out.

And in case you still haven't seen the Episode 3 teaser, you can probably find it here. It's a fine teaser trailer, but I really have no real hopes for this. I want to be wrong, though.

I love that the poster of A Very Long Engagement is hanging in Greenbelt, while the posters for Kung-Fu Hustle AND 2046 are beside each other in Greenbelt 3.

LAST-MINUTE ADDITION: a promo reel for Fantastic Four has leaked onto the web. This may disappear soon. I am really not excited at all for this. The cast doesn't really interest me, the suit of The Thing looks like it's made of papier-mache, and I don't think Jessica Alba should be blond.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

After 86 YEARS, the Boston Red Sox won the Pennant. Kinda puts the whole Ateneo-beating-La Salle in a pathetic perspective, eh?

Man, I would LOVE to be in Boston right now. I really miss the place. :(

They must be going kah-ray-zee.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I have been a zombie the last couple of days. Mostly still trying to catch up on a crapload of books and DVDs, when not trying to cram in/finish due articles. During a few days I was actually able to finish Takeshi Kitano’s Yakuza trilogy, George Romero’s Trilogy of the Dead, and managed to squeeze in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure and Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt. All quite brilliant, thankfully. Not a bad one in the bunch. As for movies that are out right now, my favorite parts of Shark Tale were the ones referring to other films, but Sky Captain is fun and a half! They really got to cram in all these genre staples of old pulps, and the Spielberg influence is unashamedly on display. And House of Flying Daggers is out, go see it. Open Water was alright, but nothing unmissable. I finally finished McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales! It really does take me longer to finish anthologies. Anyway, an excellent collection, more hits than misses, and damn can Chabon entice. I am actually having a quasi-difficult time deciding what to read next...


People who passed away recently:
Jacques Derrida
Christopher Reeve
Janet Leigh
Rodney Dangerfield


The other week I gave a talk to some kids about comics, which was fun, even though I didn’t have much time to prepare and thus was going along on the fly. Still, I was happily surprised that they were Asterix readers, which definitely did half the work for me already as I just had to address certain things like suggested movement and exaggeration of expression.


Photobucket have inevitably set a ceiling for their service: 25 MB. Otherwise you have to start paying. Oh well, here we go again...


Make with the click-click: The Ring 2 teaser (new story, and original director Hideo Nakata), and the long-awaited new Jean-Pierre Jeunet, A Very Long Engagement (Alexis said he saw this trailer attached to House of Flying Daggers, a very good sign indeed).


The new REM (Around the Sun) didn’t impress me. But the posthumous new Elliott Smith (From a Basement on the Hill) has been on repeat in my room. The first time I heard it I almost felt like crying, wondering if these would be the last "new" songs I ever hear from one of my favorite songwriters. :(

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Who would like to get the Bone: One Volume Edition I continue to rave about at a discount? Send me your info on the comments, please. And do it ASAP!


The Japanese boyfriend pillow's been in the news recently. But wouldn't you rather have the Godfather horse head pillow instead?

I know I would.


House of Flying Daggers is beautiful. It's got all these influences in it: dance, opera, music. It's got more layers than I thought it would. I particularly enjoyed that the fight scenes this time out didn't just feature exceptional choreography but a genuine consideration of setting. It's sometimes not about the cool moves but the mood and rhythm of a scene, where the thrust and parry is more about relentlessness and less about actually trying to conquer the opponent. There are also some tricks and visual treats that will leave your mouth agape. Who would've imagined that Zhang Yimou, of all people, would be so good at making wuxia action epics? And seemingly invent all these new tricks and moves? I wish I knew how he visualizes these things.

They played a bad 2046 trailer at the beginning. I hope this is a good sign.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Saturday's puppet show was awesome! It was 2 Spanish fellows, dressed entirely in black, manipulating puppets on a long table, with only a bunch of candles as illumination. The main puppets weren't marionettes, but some of the supporting one-off chracters were. Thankfully it wasn't in Spanish, or even in English-- it was all gibberish. Which you can pull off if it's Quixote. I sometimes wondered, though, what the experience was like for those who had no idea at all what Quixote was about. Anyway, it was obvious they knew their stuff, and had performed this many, many times. They were perfectly timed with the music playing over the speakers, and they knew their cues. Occasionally one of the guys would drop out of sight to prepare the next backdrop or characters, leaving only one person to control the puppets. But when both men operate one puppet, like in the beginning, the movement is incredible. Graceful, accurate, and just so alive and expressive that it made me feel like a kid again. I did love the fact, though, that I could be so entranced by the puppet, but just look up a few inches and there would be the puppeteers, faces acting out emotions as the gibberish spilled forth. Occasionally the puppets would actually acknowledge the puppeteers, maybe ask them to do this and that, or chastise them with a look for prying, and in this, again, the fact that it was Quixote didn't hurt. The music was good, the set construction ingenious, and the whole thing was just terrific. Even though I was dog-tired I was really glad I went. There was an interesting effect achieved at the end, when, one by one, the candles were snuffed out, making it the theatrical equivalent of a fade to black. Brilliant.

After the show, they left the puppets on the table and while some people were shy at first, I thought I might never see these kinds of puppets again and so bounded up the steps to look at them up close and actually try them out. They were papier-mache, and a little heavier than I expected, but as usual, the eyes were eerily realistic, and reflected light really well.


I finished The Passion and, yay, it was also very good. It had much more plot than I thought it would, but as ever, Winterson's strength is her language, and she convincingly posits love as both irresistible force and immovable object. I was surprised at how short it was. The fact that the two narrators sometimes had the exact same thoughts/observations/conclusions reminded me of Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland & The End of the World. Speaking of Murakami, when the fuck is he coming out with a new novel in English? It's been years since Sputnik Sweetheart!

Have begun McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, edited by Michael Chabon.


On the heels of the 2046 trailer, it's the first footage from Mirrormask. Thankfully, the thing I was unsure of, the music, isn't from the film. No hint of a story, just some beautiful images.

The project Wong Kar-Wai is developing with Nicole Kidman is called The Lady From Shanghai. I'm not sure yet if it's a remake of the Orson Welles film or not.

New trailers: the new Birth trailer, Days of Being Wild is going to be released in the US, the new Incredibles, and the new Jean-Pierre Jeunet, A Very Long Engagement.


Sometimes while reading someone's blog entry, in the midst of it you're already reacting, and maybe forming what will become, supposedly, a comment. But then the post in question arrives effortlessly at the conclusion that you did, and serves as a gentle reminder of why this person is a friend, and someone whose blog you read. Such is the case with Colleen's recent post.

And if I may mention, Neva's recent posts have been reminding me why she's under Blog Inspirations on the left. She makes it look easy. It comes very naturally to her, even if she doesn't see it sometimes.


Today was very satisfying, in that I re-organized my bookshelves. At the end, I was just staring at it, and smiling slightly to myself. I like seeing what I've read, and am slightly daunted at what remains unread, but excited all the same.

I'm in such a reading mood! I keep telling myself to set aside time to catch up on all these DVDs I haven't seen, but I end up staying in my room trying to finish a few more pages of whatever it is I happen to be on.

Friday, October 01, 2004


Quijote: The Puppet Show
02/10/2004 19:00 h.
Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium
RCBC Plaza, Yuchengco Tower
Makati City

It's free! I can't remember the last time I saw a puppet show. Sorry for the late notice; I got this from Gab.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 came out yesterday; do yourselves a favor and catch it. It's really, really good. And has an inspired credit sequence.

Am massively disillusioned with 2 recent discoveries, both c/o Le Sexy. Some/all of my CD-Rs might last only 2 years (though I take good care of them), and ipod batteries need to be replaced in roughly 2 years, depending on frequency of use. But the batteries are so expensive it's like buying a new ipod.

After a massive comics break, am back into prose. Have started Jeanette Winterson's The Passion.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

French trailer for 2046.


Today, Sep. 28, 2004, after 5 years of shooting, 2046 is released in Hong Kong & China, where my parents are right now. Damn it, I should’ve gone with them.

It’s almost my second near-miss with the film. It was supposed to close the Edinburgh Film Festival, but was withdrawn at the last minute, because Kar-Wai was still editing (and shooting, though that wasn’t being publicized). Which meant that the version shown at last May’s Cannes Festival would not be the final cut. In fact, he only finished editing this month. In the end, it was finally decided that Leung’s character would indeed be Chow Mo-Wan, his character from In the Mood for Love.

There’s an excellent article over at the New York Times Magazine. It gives a nice round-up of the events leading up to 2046, including some info about an alleged "split" with cinematographer Christopher Doyle (cited to have occurred in January, there was absolutely no mention of it during the Doyle event I attended in late August, and the host of the event even made a side comment that they were shooting together the week prior). Also much appreciated is its regard of Willam Chang and his contributions to Kar-Wai’s ouevre. There are also some tidbits: Nicole Kidman sought him out last year to discuss working together, and was undeterred when he told her how uncertain his working process is like. He’s going to develop 3 English-language films for Fox Searchlight, though not necessarily write or direct any of them. Also, clarification on his project with Tony Leung about the man who trained Bruce Lee, not Bruce Lee himself as previous reports claimed.

I’m hoping that since we saw Hero way earlier than most other countries, and are about to have the same opportunity with House of Flying Daggers, that 2046 will follow the same pattern.

You can find more pictures here, and a soundless teaser here.

Hot Damn.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

For some reason our second phone line has lost its dialtone. This is why I haven't been able to post recently. I had to hook up the main line to check stuff.

I finished some books recently. Fugitives & Refugees by Chuck Palahniuk was an interesting and humorous guide to his beloved Portland, Oregon. There are many interesting anecdotes and pieces of secret history, and like Voice of the Fire, surprises you about places you know nothing about, and never really ascribe any importance to either. It's never boring, but just in case there are in-between short diary entries detailing memorable experiences. Good stuff.

I also finished Alex Garland's The Beach. And it's fucking great. I understand now why 3 out of 10 people under the age of 30 have read it, and why, during one year, it went through 25 printings. I just breezed through it, to be honest. It's very easy to read, very hard to put down. One time, I finally caved in to sleep at 9 AM. One of the interesting things to me is that the main character of Richard is very easy to project yourself onto, and so you really feel like you're the one embarking on the adventure. It's also comforting to be familiar with all the references, from Apocalypse Now to Platoon to Tekken 2.

It's also got many passages that seem to detail things we've all thought about before, except, of course, better-phrased.

An example: "I don't keep a travel diary. I did keep a travel diary once, and it was a big mistake. All I remember of that trip is what I bothered to write down. Everything else slipped away, as if my mind felt jilted by my reliance on pen and paper. For exactly the same reason, I don't travel with a camera. My holiday becomes the snapshots, and anything I forget to record is lost. Apart from that, photographs never seem to be very evocative. When I look through the albums of old traveling companions I'm always surprised by how little I'm reminded of the trip.

If only there was a camera that captured smell. Smells are far more vivid than images. I've often been walking in London on a hot day, caught the smell of hot refuse or melting tarmac, and suddenly been transported to a Delhi side street. Likewise, if I'm walking past a fishmonger I think instantly of Unhygienix, and if I smell sweat and cut grass (the lawn kind) I think of Keaty. I doubt either of them would appreciate being remembered in such a way, especially Unhygienix, but that's how it is.

All that said, I wish there'd been someone with a camera when I sauntered out of the mist with a dead shark over my shoulder. I must have looked so cool."

Here's another passage that had me laughing: "You find plastic pitchers all around provincial Asia and their purpose has confounded me for years. I refuse to believe that Asians wipe themselves with their hands-- it's a ridiculous idea-- but aside from washing their digits, I can't see what other use the pitcher has. I'm sure they don't splash themselves down. Apart from being ineffective it would make an incredible mess, and they emerge from their ablutions as dry as a bone."

It had me laughing particularly because I was thinking the exact OPPOSITE thing in Edinburgh, the first time I had to take a crap: where's the tabo? What the fuck do they do over here? It was explained to me that Europeans think the idea of wiping your ass extremely disgusting. Understandably, to us it's nothing-- that's how we were raised. But even objectively speaking, it is more hygienic, isn't it? Rather than just relying on toilet paper? So our whole stay in Scotland, we had to use a glass.

I also now understand why all the hardcore fans hate the movie.

After that I jumped straight into The Tesseract. Which was also magnificent. One of the best things I can say about Garland is that, for a relatively young author, none of his novels are alike. Even structurally, which is just so refreshing. I have to admit that at the beginning, it was worrying me because there were a lot of characters, but it's all handled skillfully and deliberately, with a massively satisfying conclusion/climax. The whole book is set in Manila, and maybe the only drawback is I don't know any Pinoys who talk like these characters. Don't get me wrong-- the characterization is excellent. The plotting is very well-thought out. But no one talks like this. Even if you translated every line into Tagalog. Some things could also have used a little bit more research. Like one scene where an old man and a younger woman have a conversation on Roxas. Every line they speak to each other ends with "po," as if it were a period. Also some misspellings, like berkada for barkada.


So in Chuck Palahniuk's Non-Fiction (called Stranger Than Fiction in the US), one of the pieces praises Amy Hempel to high heaven. Amy Hempel, a minimalist writer I've never heard of. So I look her up on the net, and to my delight I find the short story that Palahniuk uses as an example: "The Harvest." And it's good. I like it. The bait-and-switch is unexpected. While surfing, I come across this recent interview from The Independent, and discover that, to my surprise, Palahniuk came out last September. Or rather, outed himself though he didn't really want to. It's a complicated thing, read the article if you're interested. He's had a live-in partner of 12 years, but has been very secretive about it. There's conjecture as to why: was it personal shame or a decree of the publisher? I wonder if it really will hurt his stature in the eyes of his largely male demographic. He did strike me as a very masculine writer. Some fans do feel slightly betrayed. Palahniuk sometimes wrote as if he was attracted to women. But in the end, it looks like there was more fiction than we bought into. Honestly, though: who really cares?


Book alert: art spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers, his first major work in 12 years, is now at Fully Booked.

And apparently, Kabuki creator David Mack is coming to the Philippines for an event with said bookstore.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


3 teasers for Stephen Chow’s Kung-Fu Hustle: one two three

Trey Parker & Matt Stone’s Team America.

Alexander Payne’s Sideways.

David O. Russell’s I Heart Huckabees. Excellent cast.

Mike Nichols’s Closer. Natalie Portman as a stripper. I suppose it was just a matter of time. But honestly, she still looks too young to play opposite either Jude Law or Clive Owen as a serious love interest. It slightly feels pedophilic.

Jonathan Glazer’s Birth. Very intriguing premise, but is Cameron Bright the new Haley Joel Osment or something?

Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic. Words cannot express how much I want to see this film RIGHT FUCKING NOW. As always, an excellent cast.

2 ½ minutes from Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. I’ve read one negative review, and it didn’t really make any noise at Cannes, but I’m still hoping it’s good.

The Sin City footage shown at the San Diego Comicon (this is a huge file, btw). Note that this is raw footage, not yet fully rendered. And it’s not a trailer (hence the inclusion of panels from the comics for comparison). I’m still cautiously optimistic. It looks fantastic, but part of me is worried about it being TOO literal an adaptation. In fact, Rodriguez doesn’t even call it that. He says it’s a transliteration; that’s why they’re using the exact framing from the comics. There wasn’t even a script; actors were given the graphic novels. There were moments where I felt like I was watching a really good fan film, except that they hired professional actors. BUT. Look at that cast: Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Elijah Wood, Maria Bello, Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Michael Madsen, Jaime King, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Nick Stahl, Devon Aoki, Alexis Bledel, Marley Shelton. I didn’t even know Clive Owen was in this thing. Amazing.


Finished Palahniuk's Non-Fiction, which was good and interesting. He shows more range as a writer in his non-fiction than in his fiction. Thisclose to finishing his Fugitives & Refugees. Have begun- finally- Alex Garland's The Beach.

Shaun of the Dead is hilarious.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I’ve been really lucky regarding my reading. I haven’t read a bad book in a long time.

I just finished James Kochalka’s American Elf. It’s splendid. Collecting 5 years of his daily online strip, it’s his best work. The totality of it; the effect is like heaving a giant boulder into a placid lake. The strips may not work as effectively when presented individually, but together have that kind of collective impact. Capturing all moments from every strata of a daily life, it can be familiar and then completely crazy and then sad, silly to romantic to cute to bewildering.

Before that, Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata. About a man who discovers he can stop time and uses it to undress women. A lot of the fantasies and scenarios he describes are familiar. The others are intriguing. Baker writes with a very fluid, smooth-flowing style. In that way he is like 2 other favorite writers of mine, Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami. Where you open the book, begin to read to get a feel for the language, and the next thing you know you’re 6 pages into the book. Easy to slip in, drifted along by the careful selection and placement of the perfect word after the one you’re reading. I especially like the particular edition I have; it’s part of a line called Vintage Blue, reprinting classic and contemporary “erotic” work, including my copy of Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion. It’s designed like a ‘70s porno book, right from the fonts to the faded pink. There’s even a faux pencil mark on the stomach there, and fake pencil marks erasing the “25p” on top. The Passion, unfortunately, isn’t as cleverly designed. It’s 2 mouths kissing, and all pink, with a girly font! How am I supposed to read that in public, being a macho, virile man that I am? Good thing it’s short.

One I forgot to mention finishing was The Complete Bone (snicker). Which, of course, was stupendous. Utterly marvelous. The perfect Christmas gift, I declare. It was just so tremendously satisfying, on pretty much EVERY level. I was shaking by the end. And it had its share of surprises, while hitting all those necessary denouement points that it would frustrate the hardcore fan to do without. I mean, this is a book, a journey, that I began reading in high school, for Christ’s sake. Can I help being a little emotional at the end of it? I think not. It’s probably the best fantasy epic comics has ever seen. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who likes a good story. And at that price, you can’t lose.

The trip to Scotland has galvanized me, rekindled my love of books. Not just books, but of reading. I have this small pile of books on my headboard that I really want to consume. So I stay up until very late sometimes, thinking “I can still squeeze in another chapter before sleep…”

Now halfway through Chuck Palahniuk’s Non-Fiction (called something else in the US).


Anyone else feel the earthquake? I was reading in bed when it started. It felt like someone really fat was running on the second floor of our house, except that there was no noise. Then my bed started shaking and I actually started to get scared. I actually stood in the doorway for a few seconds at the end of it. Stupidly, what was going through my head was the fact that I was only wearing shorts, and it would be embarrassing if I had to leave the house and stand in the street wearing boxers. My sister woke up but no one else. Then I called Neva.

It was intensity 4.

I wasn’t here for the major earthquake almost 15 years ago(!).


Joey Comeau came up with this brilliant idea, so brilliant that I’m going to rip it off.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


I’ve been having these insanely fierce bouts of insomnia. I don’t think it’s jetlag-related, because when I arrived I wasn’t affected. But the past few days, I’ve been unable to sleep; I just wait for sheer exhaustion to overcome and crash. In the meantime I try to not waste the time by catching up on my reading. And when I do sleep, it’s only for a few hours, because I tend to crash during the day and get woken up to do something. Then another cycle begins where, for 48 hours, I’ve only slept 3.

Yesterday was a great day, in spite of this. I hadn’t slept a wink. I’ve been engrossed in Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata the last few days, and was reading it up until dawn came and I had to get ready to go to Anilao. I went on 2 dives with Neva and Tina. They were our first since we came back, and I certainly missed the experience. No wrecks this time, though there were some interesting underwater structures that we saw, including a cross and what looked like a small toy castle.

When we got back, had a nice quiet dinner with some friends at Kimpura. I haven’t eaten there in a while, and never without my family. We usually go only on special occasions like birthdays. The food was good as always.

And after that, we went to The Peninsula where they were having a chocolate buffet. It’s going on until Sep. 25, Fridays & Saturdays, 8:30 PM to midnight. I strongly suggest you go. I particularly felt like a childhood fantasy had been fulfilled: an entire table of chocolates and chocolate-related dishes (cakes, pastries, drinks, mousse, etc.) and in my head a little childish voice going “All this chocolate… for ME?!” We got plates and plates and plates of stuff, and our tummies ached and some of us got dizzy but it was worth it. It’s around 500 bucks but I actually expected it to be around 800. It is worth it, though. I suggest you show up early and pace yourself to make the most of the 500.


My mom just told me that Magallanes church burned down while we were gone. I used to go to mass there regularly when I was younger, and we still go occasionally. The parish priest wants the foundation demolished so it’ll be an entirely new church. I’m not particularly sad; I just have this vague feeling of time passing by.


RA Rivera’s video for Radioactive Sago Project’s “Astro” may just be the best Pinoy music video I have ever seen. It’s a work of genius.

I was at this event the other day and I told RA I hadn’t seen it yet since I was out of the country. An hour or so later he gave me 2 VCDs with recent stuff he and Ramon Bautista had made. What fine gentlemen. And the works are hilarious.

It’s funny how you can have such nice people on the outskirts of an industry that is pretty much a snakepit.

When I was talking to Chris, soon after I got back, I mentioned how disappointed I was that the “scene” here was so counterproductive, in sharp contrast to the people and atmosphere that I was exposed to at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The way people constantly jostle for attention and credit and don’t focus on the work. The way they stab each other in the back and focus on such inconsequential trivialities. A striking majority of the people are so petty and shallow. Whereas there people are open and friendly, encouraging ang supportive. It’s sickening. And Chris mentioned that it was funny that I brought it up, because he’s thought of the same thing when he went abroad and came back.


The other day I dropped by Ateneo and spoke to a friend of mine, Mark Escaler. Mark’s one of those people I don’t see often enough, so whenever I’m in the Katipunan area I try to see if I can have some facetime with him. Like with Gab, though I rarely see him I always enjoy talking to him because I always end up with a lot of things to think about at the end of the conversation.

The day before that I ran into Ate Cyn & Arnold. Who I’ve been trying to see forever. Neva and I wanted to see them before we left for Scotland but it didn’t happen. We all had tickets to watch the same screening of The Terminal (not bad, but nothing great) and had a bite to eat after, catching up. We realized that time flew by SO fast, we hadn’t seen them since THEIR WEDDING LAST DECEMBER! Egads. And Erwin caught up to pick up his signed books of Iain Banks, a few hours before flying to Singapore to swim with sharks.


Neva moved units, but she’s still in the same building. As such, the internet isn’t properly set up yet, and that’s what’s been keeping us from uploading all the pics from our trip, which is on her laptop.


Avril Lavigne, oh-so-punk.

If you watch Dodgeball, make sure to wait until after the credits.


When I got home this evening I slept for a while then woke up again, and haven't slept since. It's 7:30 in the morning, I'm going to mass in 2 hours. That's why I'm blogging.

Monday, September 06, 2004


I finished 2 books on the trip home! I’m so proud! The books were Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Millions and Alex Garland’s The Coma. Actually, I was reading Millions and Neva was reading The Coma, but we both finished our respective books before reaching Kuala Lumpur and switched. Both are excellent. Millions is supremely charming, deft, unpredictable, and by turns is genuinely sweet, sad, and funny. I wish I could buy copies for all the young readers I know. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to write the author afterwards, just to say thanks. And it’s his first book. He wrote the script for the film Danny Boyle directed adapting it. I really hope it’s good. The Coma was also very good. I love how you cannot separate the illustrations of Garland’s father Nicholas (who uses beautiful woodcuts) from the text. It’s very moody and atmospheric, very precise and spare.

On the plane they showed The Day After Tomorrow. Which genius had this idea? Of course, all plane scenes were taken out. I actually ended up watching The Prince & Me in its entirety because I couldn’t sleep. When it finished they were serving breakfast. Economy I don’t really have a problem with. Really. It only seems difficult if you’ve been on Business Class recently. There’s a point in these long trips, somewhere around the 5th or 6th hour, where your ass, and the rest of your body below the waist, just atrophies.

I woke up today at 4:30 PM. My first thought was “Shit. Nothing’ll be open any more.” Then I remembered I was back home, and wished I was back in Edinburgh. I wish it was cold enough that I needed a blanket.

(Stores all close around 5-6 PM there.)

What to do, what to do? There’s a backlog of stuff to read on the computer, some books I brought back from the festival, a lot of transcribing of interviews, a lot of writing of articles. It can all wait. I also have to upload pics. For a while this blog will be rehashing old posts, just expanded and with more detail.

Wow. Nothing interesting to see in theaters except Super Size Me. I was worried that we’d miss The Terminal, even if reviews haven’t been glowing.


A hilarious post from Joey Comeau (both post and subject line). I want to try that drink he invented sometime.

Can anyone help me with that Blogger searchbar up there? How do you move it so that it doesn’t block the top half-inch of my blog? And it’s not so bad pala. The search function is limited to my blog. Which is sorta useful. For me.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Looks like things are busy; everyone's so quiet. No one's emailing or posting.

Yesterday we spent almost the whole day at Edinburgh Castle. The place is huge. There are several parts and we tried our best to visit all of them. We even took the guided tour at the beginning. The view is magnificent, and the wind is, for those of us raised in the tropics, biting and cold. There were some bored Italian students around, but they seemed bored and disinterested. There was a dog cemetery where regiments posted to the castle had buried their mascots, and a small chapel, the royal chapel, named for St. Margaret, who died at the castle. The castle's never been taken by a direct attack, only by stealth. We went in some dungeons and they had that genuine musty smell, very oppressive. Neva hated it. It was also very dark, gloomy, definitely very eerie. The arches of doors had different heights and that contributed to the growing feeling of claustrophobia.

Today was kind of shopping day, both an exciting day and the one with the most jitters. Since the beginning of the trip I've been noting cool stuff down, their prices, and where they are. I've avoided, for the most part, buying anything (thank God I relented on the Happy Together, though). Many people advised me against this, as I got told stories of coming back for something only to find it gone. Then I looked at the list and whittled it down: what can only be found in the UK? What's too good a deal to pass up? I even cross-referenced prices with online boutiques, and that slashed 80% of the list away. So I'm picking up only a handful of books, some that I've been looking for for ever (Jeff Noon's Pollen), and maybe one or 2 DVDs.

Last night we caught the first episode of The L Word, that hyped-up lesbian show. It was directed by Rose Troche. I didn't really like it. None of the characters were very interesting, and I couldn't fathom how they stayed together, when they clearly hated each other. The nudity was a plus, but Mia Kirshner's just skin and bones now. Neva is now watching The Hamburg Cell, that Antonia Bird movie (her first in 5 years pala) I saw at the Festival. It's showing on cable. Then I will watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Another thing I will miss is their television. So many interesting shows. There's this show called Abuse Science, which is basically an educational show disguised as a prank show. Genius. And then lots of documentaries: anti-Bush ones about the conspiracies of the real reason for the Iraq war, and the contest to win the bid for building the shrine to be put up on Ground Zero in Manhattan. In the mornings, reruns of the Knight Rider, where I found out that KIT stands for Knight Industries Two-Thousand. Hahahaha.

It's slowly beginning to freak me out that these are our last few days here. :(

I'm wondering how I'll take the heat when I get back, though my mom informs me that it's been raining. I look forward to eating in restaurants again.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

We spent today at the zoo. Man it was big. It was a series of hills, some were really steep. We were so tired by the end. But we saw lots of different animals: ducks, lions, tigers, pygmy hippos, a rhino, orangutans, chimps, herons, birds, zebras, meerkats, otters, penguins, etc. The kids seemed to love it. My favorite was the polar bear. He was so cute. He was chewing apart a plastic trash bin. That was his chew toy. He was HUGE.

Then in the late afternoon, we went to visit Uncle Bruce & Aunt Liz at Dalgety Bay. They have a lovely home with a gorgeous view of the river and the giant suspension bridge we rode in on. We had supper there: a giant slab of chicken, wrapped in bacon, bread with margarine ("marge"), some peas, and potatoes.

I understand Super Size Me is showing tomorrow in the Philippines. Everyone should go watch it.

Monday, August 30, 2004

We are now in full-on tourist mode.

Last night's Hives gig was terrific. A real rite of passage for me. I've never been so crushed in my life.

Today we went to the Museum of Childhood and the Writers' Museum. One of the best things that ever happened to me happened right after we left the Writers' Museum. We were walking down Royal Mile, watching all the street performers for the Fringe Festival, when someone comes up to us. Frank Cottrell Boyce. Who then introduced us to 2 of his sons. They were just killing time too, walking around. But Neva and I were flabbergasted. The man went out of his way to greet us! What a nice man. We were walking in a daze for a short while after that.

Then we saw this magnificent little juggler kid, right on Royal Mile. I swear, he was hilarious. In fact, I have proof. I taped a couple of minutes of his routine. He could juggle, but most of the audience was just there for his jokes.

Then we saw one of those human statue guys painted all in gold, but the interesting thing was, some girl in the audience (who may've known him) kind of challenged him, standing in front of him. They were locked in a staredown, and a crowd was gathering. It got to the point where some guy put a coin at the foot of the girl and everyone laughed (because you're supposed to put coins in the guy's basket; he's the performer).

Then we found the second comic book store in Edinburgh, which paled compared to Forbidden Planet, though there's one book I might return for. Then we went to a bargain bookstore, and I found a nice coffee-table size book of Guido Crepax's erotic epics for only £10. Which is about a thousand bucks, but the book was originally over £30.

I severely overestimated the amount of film to bring. As in, I brought 30 rolls. To give you an idea, I haven't changed film once. In any of my film cameras. So even my lomo, the film I'm using is the one I began back in Manila.

But at least we're in tourist mode now. I've been taking lots of pictures today.

And now I'm enjoying nutella on toast. Good stuff.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Some sad news as I found out via email that my uncle passed away just the other day. That's 2 siblings my dad has lost in less than a year. :(


Today Neva and I gave in and finally had our fast-food fix of the trip: a Big Tasty at McDonald's, which is basically the same patty but with different sauce. Bleh.

I watched Oldboy, which is fantastic. It just left me stunned. Director Park Chan-wook was there, he gave a short intro before the film began. After there was a Q&A, but I had to leave to interview Frank Cottrell Boyce. Neva came from his event. So I was able to meet and interview another of my heroes. Boyce wrote Welcome to Sarajevo, Hilary & Jackie, & 24 Hour Party People, among others. He was really nice and accomodating, very friendly. We ended up talking about Takeshi Kitano at one point, because he's a fan. His first book, Millions, which he was promoting at the Book Festival, was made into a film by Danny Boyle. I read the first few pages and it sounds good. In a little while we are leaving to watch The Hives.

Today is the last day of the Film Festival. :(

Saturday, August 28, 2004


He gave a fantastic, inspiring talk, living up to and exceeding the character I expected him to be. I got a super-short interview with him, some pics, some autographs (he signed my Happy Together DVD!), and one of the best feelings of the day, of this trip, of the year, was handing him Hey, Comics!. It hadn't occurred to me how serendipitous his surprise appearance at the Edinburgh Film Festival was-- first, the only DVD I've bought so far is Happy Together (because the R2 version has the one-hour documentary Buenos Aires Zero Degree), and secondly, my story in Hey, Comics! was DEDICATED TO HIM! So I showed him that, and he seemed genuinely happy, and even showed it to the director he was sitting beside (who I didn't know). And then we just HUNG OUT for like 2 hours! There was a small group of us listening to him talk, asking him questions, while he slowly nursed his beer and held court for all us rapt film geeks.

Today is my favorite day of this trip so far. :) Even though I did the least (another irony); a lot of the day was spent just waiting for Doyle to be available for an interview.

WOO-HOO!!! :)

P.S. Alia, I got an autograph for you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Watched 3 great movies today, almost back-to-back: Antonia Bird's harrowing The Hamburg Cell, her first film in I think 5 years, which is going to be shown here on cable in September; a Chilean film called Machuca which is brilliant and powerful, one of the best coming-of-age films I've ever seen; and a French thriller called Hanging Offense, which is so precise it's breathtaking.

I'm lucky everything I chose to watch today was good, and inspiring in different ways. :)

Neva went to a talk given by Amos Oz.

A sudden addition to the program is Christopher Doyle giving a talk on Saturday. Got tickets already. :)

I've run out of credit, so don't be offended if I didn't get to reply to you. Which reminds me, how do I get credit?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Today I watched Saved!, which was very good, though had a Hollywood-ish ending. Everyone in it's good; the surprise is Macaulay Culkin. It reminded me of those films like Pretty in Pink where everyone, including the supporting cast, will one day be big. Martin Donovan's entrance is a classic. Then I went back to Forbidden Planet alone, as Neva went to a knitting class and had another Book Fest event. At Forbidden Planet I got myself some gifts. Still no comics, though I now have my eye on an art book or 2. I did get myself an issue of Giant Robot, an issue of Comic Art (which I'd never heard of, but the contents were intriguing [Crocket Johnson & Art Spiegelman features] and the production value was good), and 3 issues of The Comics Journal. And Comic Book Confidential, a documentary I first was lent by Mark Escaler back in college, only £6.

Had my lunch, which was a Pop Tart, in the park. Fed the pigeons my crumbs, and suddenly there was a whole gaggle of them around my bench.

Then I watched Alex Yang's Taipei 21, which wasn't bad, but I felt had room for improvement. Then I watched Rogue Farm, a 20-something-minute animated short from the UK, which was pretty damn good. Advertised as "the first UK anime," it was an adaptation of some sf short story. Then Neva came and picked me up, we went home for dinner, a lovely bolognaise that Rachel made, and Rachel surprised me with some gifts: the Franz Ferdinand album and a hat that plays music.

Then we had to race back to the Filmhouse, where I interviewed Taipei 21's writer/director, Alex Yang.

And good night. :)

Monday, August 23, 2004

I remember that, exactly a year ago, I didn't really have a birthday dinner; I was too excited because it was our last chance to watch Dogville at Cinemanila. Today, Dogville comes out on R1 DVD. Just a little pimple of a footnote.

Happy birthday to Bodge! And a belated happy birthday to Carlo Eustaquio and Rude Rudy!

*blogging interrupted because Neva and Rachel just burst in with a birthday torte! It tastes great! Yum! It's like a thin layer of cake, then mousse, then icing. :)*

Thank you to everyone who texted, it really meant a lot. :) We're 7 hours behind over here so I got them all on the 23rd, but who cares? It's the thought that counts. I woke up this morning to messages from my mom and Jeline. Neva woke me up with a Mirrorball shirt. :)

With the cancellation of The Beta Band gig I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing today. Neva's attending Rachel's class later this afternoon so I'll actually spend part of today all alone. Boo hoo. Nah, that's fine, actually. In high school I used to spend birthdays entirely by myself, disappearing from the house early in the morning and coming home whenever I felt. O diba? Emo before there was emo! I would walk around, commute, just do whatever. A day of reflection and thanksgiving.

Well, enough of that. I'd offer you some torte, but... :)
We just came from doing the groceries! At 10 in the evening. Huzzah! They have Maltesers ice cream bars here and they are amazing. :)

Today was mostly spent shopping, would you believe that? We got tired of events and decided to be touristy. So we went to Forbidden Planet, a famous chain of comics stores, and I went agog. I didn't really buy anything, just 2 posters, because the comics are *gasp!* cheaper back home. But they had so many wonderful books, indie books, foreign art books, shirts and posters and toys and lunchboxes and things. Then we looked at some shoes and some clothes, which were too expensive but nice to look at. Then we went to HMV looking for steals. A PS2 here is 99 pounds, so that's 10000 pesos. Is that a good price? But then you'd have to deal with it being a PAL machine, and the plug is that damn 3-pronged thing, and on and on. I have bought only one DVD while I've been here, but there are some I'm considering, including the 2-disc Special Edition of Battle Royale, the 3-disc Special Editions of Black Hawk Down and Panic Room, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's first film (with Marc Caro), Delicatessen. There is also a 2-disc Fifth Element here.

Then we went to this discount book store where I got this nice design series of books: 9 slim volumes in a handsome slipcase. Originally 48 pounds, I got it for 5.

Yesterday we took the tour bus, and sat on the upper deck in the freezing cold wind. Did you know the Scottish invented umbrellas? They also invented income tax. We were shown the castle that was the model for Hogwarts, the small cafe where Rowling wrote the first few books, and the art school where Sean Connery posed nude to put himself through school. Also, the apartment of Alexander Graham Bell and the dwelling of the man who inspired Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. All very fascinating. Oh, and Neva met Muriel Spark.

Unfortunately, we had some bad news today: The Beta Band cancelled their gig tomorrow. So not only do we have to figure out how to get a refund for our tickets, we also have no tickets for the sold out Sons & Daughters/Fiery Furnaces gig.


Saturday, August 21, 2004

Today is our last major day for the Book Festival, which includes Jeanette Winterson in 2 hours and Alex Garland in 5. Yesterday we met and interviewed and attended an event by Iain Banks. After the signing we had to rush down 4 or 5 blocks to watch Richard "Kenny" Kenworthy of Shynola interview/rib Dougal Wilson.

In good news, we finally got an adapter that works. So now I can charge my phone, and the cameras, and Neva's laptop, and was finally able to export my pics. I am REALLY happy with some of the Massive Attack pics; one is Neva's new wallpaper. But unfortunately I can't seem to export to this PC with the internet connection. I'll figure something out.

And what is that fucking Blogger searchbar up there?! It looks like shit! I'd rather have the customised ad back. At least those were useful. And why do some blogs have it and others don't?

Friday, August 20, 2004

My feet and legs HATE me.

It's the morning after Massive Attack, and it was a terrific show. Just everything I wanted from it, and more than I expected.

Alas, we submitted requests for interviews/passes for Walter Salles events too late, and weren't able to see or attend any of The Motorcycle Diaries screenings (they were all sold out by the time we got to Edinburgh). Diaries will get a general release in theaters here at the end of the month, though. We missed Fahrenheit 9/11, which wasn't in the Festival but was in the local theaters. The day before, we watched Super Size Me and loved it, and I got to attend the Peter Biskind talk at the Book Festival, and got my book signed. :) Then we watched a collection of animated music videos that was inspiring. Yesterday, we watched an American DV indie called Dear Pillow, and then attended a talk on travel writing which included Irvine Welsh, and got our books signed. And then Massive Attack.

Angus's cousin Rachel, who lives here in the flat we're staying at, wants to watch The Charlatans so we probably will.

Ironically, while this may be the busiest I've ever been (no time for reading or music, just wake up, internet research, leave for screening, rushing to/fro events, scheduling, etc.) and it's just going to get worse, I've probably never been healthier (sleeping times: 10,11 PM- 7,8 AM; lots of walking, no soda [too expensive], almost all meals either sandwiches[homemeade]/soup[cheap!]).

I miss everyone back home. :(

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Dammit there is SO MUCH I want to blog about but everytime I'm exhausted! This is the beginning of our second day, and we are about to leave to watch Super Size Me (at 9 AM!). I want to blog about it all in proper order, though, starting with the trip and everything. I also probably won't be able to upload the pics just yet. Our adaptor conked out so we can't charge anything just yet-- phone, laptop, cameras. Thus I also can't export the pics to the laptop and the memory card is filling up! We need to buy a new one today (outlets here are 3-pronged 240V). It's fricking cold, like Baguio in December but at 330 in the morning. ALL THE TIME.

Neva met Alan Hollinghurst yesterday. I'm going to try and meet Peter Biskind today, and hopefully Walter Salles on Thursday, right before we watch MASSIVE ATTACK! Wooh!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Ahm'a Gooin Tae Scootland!!!

I'll be flying out in a few hours to Edinburgh, Scotland. Will be there for about a month. So don't text me unless you want it to cost 15 pesos. I can be reached at the usual email addresses or on Friendster.

Anybody who's been to Edinburgh or Amsterdam and would like to offer tips/places to go to, I'm all ears. :)

You kids behave while I'm gone!

Friday, August 13, 2004

It amuses me that I seem to have made a big deal out of deciding what book to bring on the trip. The earliest contenders were the remaining chapters of C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy-- I recently finished Out of the Silent Planet, enjoyed it, but don't have Perelandra or That Hideous Strength. Then it fell out of favor because it's two books. A good candidate was Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, which at 700 pages will probably hold me for the whole trip. But now I can't find the edition I like. Maybe the copies were brought to the book fair. Another good candidate was my big-ass hardcover collecting all of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide books. Especially since I finally saw the teaser trailer, I figured I should get to reading it already. But it, too, got axed when I realized I don't want to be carrying around a big-ass hardcover everywhere I go. And it won't fit snugly in my bag. So am I back to Necronomicon? What is most likely is I will shrug, say "Fuck it," and just read one of the Iain Banks books Erwin gave me to get autographed.

Now that I'm about to leave I suddenly notice all these books I want to buy. There's 2 Guardino Blacksad albums at PowerBooks. A Gahan Wilson graphic novel that looks interesting. At Fully Booked, the new edition of Paul Karasik and Dave Mazzuchelli's adaptation of Paul Auster's City of Glass. New copies of Paul Auster's City of Glass, as well as Oracle Night, which I never even heard of. Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. Joe Sacco's Notes from a Defeatist. Posy Simmonds's Literary Life. Peter Kuper's adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Neil Jordan's first novel in 10 years, Shade. The Collected Fiction of Neil Jordan, collecting 3 of his 5 novels. By Chuck Palahniuk: Fugitives & Refugees, and Non-Fiction. Michael Chabon's A Modern World & Other Stories. The new Steve Martin novel. Grrah!

By the way, they also have new copies of Chris Ware's Quimby the Mouse and the McSweeney's 13, the comics issue.

Did you know that Jude Law has a tattoo of Rorschach from Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons' Watchmen? Just a little geek factoid for ya. He wants in on Darren Aronofsky's film adaptation.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

We’re leaving on Sunday night! It’s getting exciting, and getting panicky. We went shopping for some warmer clothes yesterday, and it tired us out so much that we weren’t able to catch the Insiang screening at UP. I did however get new sneakers since we will be doing lots of walking there, and a nice new bag that has pockets that seem perfect for cameras. There is only an unfortunately ugly logo that I tried hard to remove but can’t; it’ll damage the bag.

Caught The Village last night. It’s a farce. Shyamalan’s definition of cinema seems to have exhausted itself, reached its limit, because this feels less like a film than a stunt. Personally, I wanted dinosaurs to be the creatures, and for Zatoichi to show up and teach the blind girl how to fight, but that’s just me. Unfortunately, I was able to guess almost every “surprise” and “twist,” mostly by telling Neva ridiculous jokes to pass the time. My favorite may have been “I hope Joaquin goes into the forest and then catches Shyamalan’s film crew and they all go ‘Shit! One got out!’ and strafe him with tranquilizer darts.”


“I don’t have to shave every morning or go to the barber so I’ve got all this extra time to spend in the endless delight of being me.” – Alan Moore

Though he is a personal hero of mine and my favorite writer, I still find myself surprised at how funny he is. Check out the interview, which also has this choice excerpt: “I used to think that I was writing poetry when I was a teenager but that is a common delusion amongst teenagers. Poetry is the easiest thing to write and it’s the hardest thing to actually write well.”


I’m excited about the new William Shatner CD, Has Been. Produced and co-written by Ben Folds. Their previous collaborations, “In Love” & “Still In Love,” from Fear of Pop’s Volume 1, are, no joke, some of my favorite songs ever (and I dearly wish for there to be further volumes of Fear of Pop, Folds’s solo side project, even if he’s effectively a solo artist already). The cover of “Common People” I linked to is from the new album. Not only is Aimee Mann one of the guest singers, but one of the songs was co-written by Nick Hornby.


Rommel Joson has a website. Check it out.