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 It was supposed to close the Edinburgh Film Festival, but was withdrawn at the last minute, because Kar-Wai was still editing (and shooting, though that wasn’t being publicized).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.