Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Greetings from Singapore!

Everything is damn expensive. Beer's 12 dollars! A pack of cigarettes is 10. And a dollar is roughly 33-35 pesos. Cab rides are about the same, and forget about food! Hopefully I will have lost some weight when I get back.

The shopping is good, if you're rich. But I've seen the Guero DVD, looking tempting (and not exorbitantly priced), and I looked at HMV to look for 2 CDs: the first Very Secretary album, and Alexandre Desplat's score for Birth. Only found the latter, but at $23! Madness.

That said, are there any hardcore Il Mare/My Sassy Girl fans out there? I saw the posters going for I think $14. Convert it yourself, and if you want me to get it for you, text me asap. I'm back in Manila on Saturday, fingers crossed.

I miss dried mangoes! Labo.

Monday, April 18, 2005

“Good taste is the enemy of art.” – Pablo Picasso

Mario and Erwin have kindly invited me to join them as a regular host on the Gweilo’s Hour, so, yeah, if, like me, your Friday nights are free and you’re sober enough during the hour of 9-10 PM and can reach a radio, have a listen.

I may be away for a few days, starting tomorrow.

The Ring 2 sucks. Which is sad because a) it’s Hideo Nakata, and b) there was an interesting twist that was so ripe with potential, it was the perfect excuse to have a sustained feeling of tension/dread/terror, but no, they settled with cheap shocks and the Goddamn Hollywood One-Liner. Nice Gary Cole cameo though.

I liked Closer. I really thought I wouldn’t, when I saw the trailer. But it was good. It’s very obviously adapted from a play, though, and I’m really curious if the non-linear structure is faithful (it was adapted by the playwright himself). What’s interesting to me is that there actually wasn’t that much time for character development, it just jumps right into those pivotal moments in the relationship and the betrayals/counter-betrayals. So what happens is you bring a lot to it as an audience member; your memories and experiences and knowledge of how people are petty and shallow and insecure and cheap and selfish and fuck each other over, seemingly with abandon. A reviewer described it as an emotional Rorschach test of relationships, and that’s something to think about. I loved Clive Owen, especially his showdown with Julia Roberts, when he trapped her and I actually wanted to stand up and cheer (I settled for pointing at the screen, silently hooting). Occasionally, though, it irks me when the dialogue is TOO good, TOO perfect (too witty repartee, basically), and delivered so quickly. No one talks like that in real life. It’s something plays tend to do. When I argue with someone there usually aren’t these wonderful poison-laced bon mots that fly around like confetti, I’m not trying to use my tongue as a makeshift epee. I can admire the writing, but it doesn’t feel realistic, because normal people stutter, eat their words, stumble, say stupid things they don’t mean and sometimes things that don’t even make sense after you utter them and you’re left feeling embarrassed but still trying to appear dignified in your anger. But, yeah, Closer makes you think about relationships, particularly your own, and in that, it works great.

Forgot to mention that I finished, a while back, the Hitchhiker’s Guide books of Douglas Adams, and enjoyed them. It’s occasionally brilliant writing, though inconsistent. It is definitely brilliant comedy. It’s funny to realize how big an influence he is on Neil Gaiman (who wrote a Guide to Hitchhiker’s Guide called Don’t Panic! as one of his first major works as an unknown) and pop culture in general, but in its own very British way. Like big epics, it takes turns in directions you didn’t even know existed (like suddenly jumping 5 years within the turn of a page), and by the end you are most definitely in strange unfamiliar territory. I can only assume he intended to continue the series because WHAT HAPPENED TO FENCHURCH!? And other assorted plot bits were left dangling. With his demise, it looks like these will be questions for the ages.

I had a quick fever last week, like one day, but after I had a cough that still hasn’t left, and one afternoon I was watching HBO and caught the majority of The Emperor’s Club, a film I originally dismissed as another Dead Poets Society-type film, but I was still curious to watch it because I like Kevin Kline. It’s surprisingly different, for a reason I can’t divulge for fear of spoiling it, but the real surprise is FUCKING RAHUL KHANNA, ex-MTV VJ, who is in the film as some kind of genius! I was wondering where he’d got to.

PowerBooks is on sale until the end of the month. I highly recommend David B.’s Epileptic, which is in the biographies section. I’m going through that right now and it’s definitely one of the books of the year; one of the most significant graphic novels in the wake of Craig Thompson’s Blankets, Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, Paul Hornschemeier’s Mother, Come Home; etc. Also The Best of American Splendor & Posy Simmond’s Gemma Bovery in Graphic Novels.

Richard Kadrey has offered his new novel, Blind Shrike, to the public absolutely free as a downloadable .PDF. His Viperwire nanotales are still up on Infinite Matrix, and his earlier novel Metrophage is also still a free download.


Color Me Kubrick, starring John Malkovich

Daywatch, sequel to Nightwatch

Tony Scott’s Domino

And naturally, Breakdancing Transformers

Thursday, April 07, 2005


The Onion remains, if not consistently hilarious, then consistently unafraid to poke at the most sensitive and controversial of topics. Recent headlines include "Pope's Renal System Proves Fallible," "John Paul II's Last Words: 'Pope Sled'," and "Terri Schiavo Dies of Embarrassment."


The new, internet-exclusive Kingdom of Heaven trailer has some great-looking shots.

Kim Ki-Duk's 3-Iron looks interesting.

Night Watch looks DAMN good.

Check out the Japanese War of the Worlds trailer. More footage. And it only occurs to me now that it looks like the entire film will be from the perspective of this one family, so that has me more interested.

Here are the trailers (1 and 2) for Michael Bay's The Island, and if you're wondering why in God's name do I have trailers for a Michael Bay film linked on my blog it's this: he's been smart of late, what with producing remakes of classic cult horror films directed by chums of his (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [with an upcoming prequel], The Amityville Horror, with The Hitcher in development), and this is a good move, something Roger Ebert (I think) wrote about: remaking bad films that had good plots (instead of remaking great films [i.e. Jonathan Demme squandering his career on The Truth About Charlie, a remake of Charade, and the recent The Manchurian Candidate]). So, a good concept, with potential for Explodo (what Bay's best at), rewritten by writers from JJ Abrams's Alias. There's potential there. And apparently, the original Island was so bad it was in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The internet-exclusive Fantastic Four trailers (1 and 2) are the best of the bunch so far, but still nothing exciting.

Goddamn, that 3rd Episode 3 trailer, I'll admit it, it got me excited again. Especially that hissing Emperor. Although, I still expect that the trailers will be better than the film. Though I do expect this will be the best instalment of the new trilogy. Here are the TV spots: 1 and 2 and 3

Meanwhile, a raise should really be given to whoever's been handling the marketing of Batman Begins, everything has been classy and just whip-smart. Here are the TV spots. Check out the first. I love that they're confident enough to have a TV spot be nothing but screeching, howling bats against a blood-red sky and the emerging logo. Hardcore!

I can't wait to see this: Sarah Silverman's concert film Jesus is Magic.

If you go here, you can hear some cool authors doing readings at last year's Library of Congress Festival, including Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, Peter Straub, Lawrence Block, and Frederik Pohl.

Take a photo, apply lots of free time and fooling around with Photoshop, this is what happens. I hurt myself laughing at some, I think.

Here's the sick and wrong photo that wouldn't load for the longest time (from a previous post).

This is really for Harvey, but others may be interested: New Scientist's 13 Things That Don't Make Sense.

And this one is for Sansan, and anyone else who wants a laugh. The comments go on forever, but there are some real gems in there if you're willing to look for 'em.

And more sick and wrong.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

We had this moving homily yesterday. Bishop Escaler was recounting the times he’s met the Pope-- apparently all bishops have to report to him in person every 5 years, so in the past 26 years he’s met with him 5 times. He considers it an honor that he’s had an hour and 15 minutes of personal face time with His Holiness. He recalled him as “a simple man, garbed in white, behind a simple desk… he always stood up when you entered the room, made sure you were comfortable, offered you a seat…” before they’d get down to brass tacks. The meetings went like this: first, he’d inquire as to the bishop’s own personal health and well-being, then the bishop gives his report, and then the Pope asks pretty much the same questions: How are the Muslims in your area? How is the peace and order situation? Have any members of the clergy been threatened? Are any of you in danger?

He also recounted a lunch the bishops were invited to while the Pope was visiting here, during which he remarked, “You Filipinos, you have all these problems, but you’re always happy, always singing.” He apparently loved hearing and saying mass here because of the vigorous and lively singing.

He talked about how JP II was very fond of the youth, how he was unpopular with a lot of Catholics for some controversial moves (like the Ecumenicism), how he was instrumental in the fall of communism, how he visited this Bulgarian who had shot him twice in his prison cell and forgave him. One of the coolest stories was how, by some twist of fate, Bishop Escaler was present when JP II was installed as Pope (in the Sistine Chapel? I forget) in 1978. He happened to be in Rome, a young priest, and he was invited to attend. By some mistake, he was seated IN THE FRONT ROW, along with all the Cardinals, who were glancing askance, wondering who this young Asian priest was and why he was in the front row.

Bishop Escaler broke into tears several times during the homily. He just couldn’t help himself. It surprised all of us. I wasn’t looking at him the first time it happened, my head was turned down but then I heard his voice break and waver, and I looked up and he had paused, with this look of helplessness that was heartbreaking. You could see he was trying not to cry but there was no way. You wished you could go over to the altar and console him. It really seemed to be a very personal loss for him. Several other people in church were also dabbing at their eyes.