Sunday, June 29, 2003

i'm baaaaack!

After trying all sorts of things, I finally got the stupid new blogger thingie to publish my posts. Apparently, it had something to do with some FTP issue, so I fiddled around with my site and addresses and numbers and somehow (and even I find it hard to believe given the fact that I'm a moron when it comes to tech crap), I got it to work. Just when I was about to abandon this blog to the dust in the wind. So let me say thanks to Marco and my other friends who tried to help me.

Blogging, despite what people like William Gibson say, has become an important part of my daily routine. It isn't a tool to refine my writing. It is aanother medium to write in.

And it kills me when I can't post (is that sad or what, I don't care). Given my poor memory, if I don't write about things big or small, I will forget. And I believe that writing makes a precise man (unlike speaking which is riddled with erratic nonsense). And precision is important when you want to communicate an idea or three.

table talk

After Vin so kindly helped (van, cart and muscle) move a PC, chair, box and other stuff, for me, we joined the rest of the gang over at the inevitable Country Waffle for a very very late dinner (any closer to midnight and it would have to properly be called breakfast). We spoke about the difference between creator and publisher rights (given the now-old brouhaha with Waid and Marvel), marveled at the Amazing Monotone Waiter Who Spoke To His Invisible Wee Friends, the non-event that was Gay Pride, the mysterious Kumon Method of teaching (one school guaranteeing a 30% improvement on IQ), a bit more on homage, Twilight Empires, the upcoming Hinirang graphic novel, Epic submissions and a whole carload of other stuff.

Earlier that evening, I explained to Jason why I went out of my way (and budget) to purchase the Essential X-Men volumes at Fully Booked. The reason is two-fold and simple: first, I grew up with those stories; second, they are among the most entertaining I've ever read. Granted that Claremont wilts under any degree of critical scrutiny, they were still kick-ass story, void of namby-pamby pretensions. But if there's anything I'll defend, it was the way the characters were presented. To me, they were fantastic (ugh, I feel the stunted fanboy in me leaping in delight). Witness the exquisite dialogue of any baseball game stories of that period. Sheer wonder.

The problem with developing taste and a critical faculty is the loss of the ability to simply shut up and enjoy the damn thing. Once in a while I can still do that. But really, I'd rather read Bendis' work on Alias (I picked up a couple of the trades from Vin - man, his dialogue skills are really top-notch) Or Rucka's Queen & Country rather than the current creatively-bankrupt capes-'n-tights comics going around. But I'll be the first to defend the superhero comic as a worthwhile, valuable and wonderful genre (because there are still some good things coming out). Sometimes, we just have to accept that not everything tries to (or must be required to) talk about the human condition. Sometimes. But that is no excuse to candy coat expectations. Sounds contradictory, but I know you're smart and will figure it out as you go along.

wonder versus awe

While waiting for a room at the videoke, Carl, Vin, Nikki and I watched a significant chunk of David Copperfield's 15 Years of Magic (during that time that Claudia was still with him). Blow-dried and limp-wristed, Copperfield flew, made snow, made the Statue of Liberty vanish, walked through the Great Wall of China, whathaveyou, all with the traditional showman's flair and flamboyance. The audience reaction was, of course, wonder. As in "ooooohh" and "aaaahhhh" and "wow".

In direct contrast, you have the street magic stylings of David Blaine, who, bereft of stage, lights, music and multiple assistants, turns coffee into coins and levitates a foot away from you. The audience reaction is quite different. A kind of awe quickly shifting into fear as people struggle to come to turns with walking headon into the unexpected (in my case, my friends know I'd run for the hills if he just floated in front of me).

The difference has to do with expectation and audience preparation.

Copperfield's show is a show. You pay and expect to be dazzled, and you are. Same with the Las Vegas duo with white tigers.

Blaine assaults you - ambush and surprise are key elements of his street tricks (his ice coffin and similar feats are more traditional though).

So which works best - magic you are prepared for or magic that surprises you?

thank you for the music, the songs you're singing

Perhaps the most unexpected song requested was Just Like A Pill, which Nikki sang - so...unsettling. Followed closely by Carl's stunning rendition of a French song I can't even spell.

But it was great to finally have a chance to just sing in the company of friends and just have fun (thanks to Martin Nievera, Basil Valdez and Freestyle).

Next time, Tobie and El should be part of the show though.

do i dare disturb the universe?

Why, yes. Certainly.

The National Commission of Culture & the Arts will be handing out writing grants of P200k each for the following divisions: short story, novel, essay, poetry and translation. While nothing like the P1M Centennial Prize (bagged by master Cyrilo Bautista), I have nothing to lose by sending a ton of stuff their way.

Who knows, right?

So you should give it a shot too. You know who you are.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

eat drink man woman

Marc and I took our Pipe staff to our final get-together last night at Kublai's, an eat-all-you-can Mongolian grill at the Podium (ugh, there's that silly name again).

I was delighted when Noel and Via managed to join us (they're off to Italy for advanced design studies), as well as Jolet, who was torn away from our mutually beloved Amazing Race, plus my sister Maureen (who's now both teacher and tutor), Cams and the rest of the chain gang.

I had a hell of a time getting to the venue because I forgot to make a reservation, but it all worked out in the end.

Farewells are always painful, but I'm glad to know that everyone has plans and things never truly end, they just change.


With the comics gang later, we got to talking about homage.

Marco brought up the interesting fact that a group of preteen kids, enraptured by Raiders of the Lost Ark, took six years of their lives and redid the film, shot for shot. Spielberg was impressed, and the world applauds.

If it worked for film, can this form of homage (the spirit being redoing something exactly in the same manner, in the same medium) be done in other media?

We had a field day racking our brains over coffee.

For film, obviously, yes - if you permit the age of innocence defense. Because it ceases to be charming when, instead of a group of kids with a digicam playing all the parts, you have, instead, a group of forty year-old men. At a certain point, questions of propriety, intellectual property and whatnot come rushing in.

It's even more absurd for the novel or short story. What, do you plan on writing the same piece of prose, word for word? Is it homage if you hand-write it? Of course not. And it becomes truly Dadaist when you consider poetry. Just how do you pay homage to a haiku or a sestina without involving other media or another discipline (paraphrasing debases, while translation is another thing altogether).

But it does work where performance and interpretation is part and parcel of the equation - hence, plays and their ilk.

Amusing, no?

Friday, June 27, 2003

reading material

To my delight, I was able to score a copy of a "new" Alan Moore TPB. This one collects eleven of his early works for DC Comics, which includes "For The Man Who Has Everything" and other goodies. Perhaps the next one (and there will be a next one as everyone does the homage thing) will contain "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?".

Other reads: Batman/Planetary, Runaways, Legion and Hellboy. Not bad, not bad at all.

my bags are packed

And I'm ready to go. I just have to lug my computer and set it up again. I won't have my usual unlimited internet access at the new office though. Until things get stable, I'll be using the pay model for internet access.

It's just amazing how much a company (or a person) accumulates in a couple of years. Lots of things triggered lots of memories and for a moment I felt the threat of maudlin feelings.

But really, one cannot keep everything. When you reassess and go back to the basics, you need to strip naked and see exactly what you need to have to do what you need to do.

And then put some clothes on, you perv.

the last supper

Marc and I are taking the staff out to a nice place for our final meal together.

We've been blessed with a great crew and everyone will be sorely missed.

My hope, of course, is that the new business takes off and we can hire everyone back. I really hate laying people off. It devasted me in HK and it hurt me here.

new blogger thingie

Eek! The new blogger template has taken over.

It looks quite spartan and my initial reaction is "where the hell are my posts?" I mean, I used to see them when I'd create a new post.

Anyway, I'm certain they're here somewhere.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

review: charlie's angels II

Thanks to Cams (our faithful and wonderful source of all out premiere screening tickets), the gang and I went to see the latest eye candy summer flick.

What can I say? After the nigh-endless grammatically-challenged radio ads (Wearing contact lenses have...), we were treated to a mindless, funny, action-packed, over-the-top romp with three women who are so easy on the eyes.

Who cares about plot, characterization, structure or any of that junk? This was just plain great to watch.

The film had me laughing out loud during its "homage" moments - CSI, Flashdance, whathaveyou.

Go and escape.

Final Review:

Charlies Angels: Full Throttle (2003) - 7/10

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

edsa IV

If there is any reason to take to the streets, it is to protest the new law that makes every public place (including bars) a no-smoking zone.


Next thing you know, they'll have us interred in smoking camps with the rest of the unwashed.

Yes, I'm griping. Yes, I'll obey.

I just don't have to like it.

Feh, indeed.
the reluctant businessman

Honestly, I thought I'd be writing for a living. When I was growing up, my answer to the inevitable "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was "I want to be a writer".

I'd long accepted the fact that I'd never be rich and held to the notion that doing something I loved would be enough. Of course, at that time, I had no idea how to make money from writing. I did not want to be advertising (because, somehow, that was selling out). I imagined I'd be publishing my own stuff and making a living from that.

After college, I looked for writing work - a TV show here, a couple of screenplays there, the odd concert or show, things that spoke of no cohesive plan or path. I could not make a living from what was, in effect, random, and instead opted to get "real" work to support myself and my wife.

But business never occurred to me. One of the reasons was that I was so poor in math. It was only later that I realized that while math is important, there are other equally vital aspects that I could actually do.

So jumping careers from HK back to Manila, I became part of a group of partners and set up our own company. We gave it our collective best and succeeded at some things, failed in others. But lessons were learned, contacts were made, and a degree of profit too. Pipe, as it ends operations at the end of the week, is in the black.

Next week, my new company, Kestrel IMC, becomes the carrier of my hopes for a better business. A narrower focus, a more flexi-agressive plan, an equal mix of cynicism, realism and fantasy, plus my evolved razzle-dazzle blah blah and all the competencies my partner and I managed to pick up.

Does it mean I'll succeed? No, of course not. But all these things mean that I'm better armed with a better plan with a better target. No guarantees, though. Like many things in life. If you fail, just try again.

Interestingly, I have almost (just almost) overcome my lifelong reluctance to conduct myself as a businessman. If I think of it in terms of story structure, then I can accept all stress and decisions I make everyday - because that is really much less than the thousand and one little decisions I make when I write a story: rhetoric, agenda, language, style, theme, character, dialogue, tone, structure and so on.

So, in an odd way, my propensity for writing has prepared me for an occupation I never thought I'd engage in.

But still, I dream of the day when I'll just write.

Monday, June 23, 2003

stuff to read

After an unexpected shopping escapade at Rockwell, plus the usual and unsual reading purchases, here's the list of new stuff to devour until new comic book day:

*Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix - of course we got it - we loved the series waaaay before the hype and my wife is secretly a Potterhead, like my best pal Vin.

*Essential X-Men Vols. 3 & 4 - covering huge chunks of Chris Claremont's juicy years. These contain some of the most wonderful stories of the period, including the first X-Men comic for Nikki (#168 - "Professor Xavier is a Jerk!") and those lovely Paul Smith issues (ah, the Morlock tunnels with the classic Storm versus Callisto knife duel).

*Night Music - lost Mozart sheet music and lots of intrigue

*Y The Last Man - hyped start-up scenario: one man left in an entire world of women (plus his monkey, natch)

*Moore's Swamp Thing Vols. 2 & 3 - at last completing the volumes I lost during one of the house moving escapades. These contain "Pogo", easily one of the best stand-alones Alan Moore ever wrote and the American Gothic story arc which gave John Constantine much of his enigmatic persona.

*Ultimate SpiderMan Vol.6 - I like these trades because the arcs are complete plus I enjoy Brian Bendis' spot-on dialogue. (No indie crap for me this time, it's mainstream all the way.) Besides, his reinvention of Venom was well-imagined.

The book that tempted me most is Umberto Eco's Baudolino, a heavy hardbound with an equally heavy mindfuck potential. But how can I resist something set in 1204 involving Barbarossa and a quest for the Kingdom of Prester John?


I'm still working on the long graphic novel and I've already broken so many of my own work/writing rules.

By the time I reached around 40% completion, I had revised the thing around 3 times (normally, I'd write an entire draft first). My main difficulty is the tightness of the plot and my need to inject "Dean-ness" (my sensibilities) into the work. I also have a problem with the protagonist who reminds me of what irked me about the lead character in Polanski's The Pianist - little is done, much is given. So I'm working in a little tension here, a new supporting character there, and words of wisdom everywhere in this little picturesque tour of the realms. It is imporrant to stay as much as possible within the given plot since this is a collaboration - but the beautiful things about putting something under a creative kiln is watching things evolve.

I'm enjoying myself, forcing myself to think travelogue-wise, while needing to have a narrative. It's a good challenge.


All papers are in and we're ready to fly. We have projects lined up (fingers crossed and all that) and a lot of faith and courage.

We'll see how far the wind takes us - this time we have wings (sorry, still in graphic novel mode).

more on europa

Set during the 1400's, your goal is to create a family dynasty that will last the test of time. Beginning with next to nothing, you need to begin a business or a trade (or be a rogue, priest or whatever), look for a spouse, beget children, educate them, survive the plague, run for over 40 possible offices and do many many many other things.

It's such a blast because you can play in whatever style you want.

I've decided to build a family of innkeepers and hope to convert knowledge picked up in my pubs for political gain.

Nikki loves it as much as I do (except when she's kidnapped and held for ransom).

Thursday, June 19, 2003

latest addiction

Europa 1400, a kickass English translation of the original German PC game - enough detail to statisfy the gamer and historian in me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

the best film i never saw

Despite the fact that sight unseen I was willing to give Ang Lee's The Hulk a perfect 10 rating (as part of my recognition of the marginalization of good taste by pedestrian sensiblities), fate conspired against Nikki and I and we walked out of the theatre, instead opting to go traipsing in the rain in our "fuck me" boots, sharing an umbrella, cigarettes and old ditties and being rewarded with hugs and kisses by our wide-awake little girl.

So, as promised, here's my review:

The Hulk (2003)
Final Rating: 10/10

PS - In a strange twist of fate, Ebert and partner gave it two thumbs up.

best film i should have seen last year

Far From Heaven was robbed at the awards shows. Everything about this production - from the writing, editing, and art direction to Moore and Quaid's acting - contributed to an excellent film.

It challenged, disturbed, entertained and provoked - and all without resorting to heavy-handed theatrics.

Watch this.

Far From Heaven (2001)
Final Rating: 9/10
flex those muscles

As per Pon's request, here are the prose vignette exercises that our little group has been doing (this should also be more convenient for Alex and El and everyone else who has expressed interest). Try these, if you like.

The goal of these exercises is to hone certain fundamental aspects of writing, and presumes at least a decent command of the English language (because, really, no one wants to correct subject verb agreements, tenses and such). Each exercise has a goal, and the point is not just to achieve the goal but to write a vignette or sketch in literate and readable manner. In other words, to not just write mechanically but to write creatively; to write well. Everyone passes their work to me, then I critique individually, give suggestions and move on. It has produced some of the most marvelous gems from my comrades-in-letters. For the first few exercises I requred the use of a beginning sentence.

Exercise #1: Describe a person
Sentence: Playing chess frightened her

Dean's sample:

Playing chess frightened her. When I sat down with her for a quick game, she visibly trembled, focusing her dull brown eyes on the white pieces on her side. I didn't understand then what the game meant to her, but I knew two things: that it disturbed her, and that it didn't matter to me.

I watched her delicately pick up a Knight between thumb and forefinger, her fingers long like her mother's, her nails disinterestedly squared, void of color, like mine.

She retreated her arm back in an almost epileptic motion after her opening move. Our eyes met as she sought my approval. I looked at her Knight, thoughtlessly placed, and shook my head.

"How stupid."

Her response was immediate and predictable. Her thin frame froze in mid-breath, only her fingers moved, picking away at the fraying kneecaps of her jeans. And then, the expulsion of breath.

"I'm sorry, Papa."

I left her apology suspended in the air as I moved a pawn to threaten her Knight.

"I'm sorry, Papa."

Exercise #2: Describe a place.
Sentence: Nothing had moved.

Exercise #3: Describe an action or series of actions.
Sentence: The coin toss decided matters and we began.

Exercise #4: Describe emotion . (without being maudlin). Choose your poison - happy, sad, afraid. But whatever you choose, make sure that the vignette clearly shows that emotion through description.
Sentence: freeform

Exercise #5: Use dialogue. Write a vignette with dialogue between two people. Read up on dialogue structure to see how tags are used (tags are ", he said." ) Majority of the vignette should be dialogue, but remember that you are not writing a play.
Sentence: "Well," she said. (you can extend the sentence or change the gender).

Exercise #6 : Exposition: Process / Procedure - Describe a scientific or pseudo-scientific procedure or process. In literary terms, it must be readable, engaging and methodical. Above all things, do NOT be dry. You can describe how a nuclear sub works or edge of an event horizon or police/forensic procedure ala CSI. You can, of course, cloak it in a scenario (e.g. a detective explaining the solution to a murder based on scientific process).
Sentence: freeform

Exercise #7 : Exposition: Legend / Myth - Relate a myth or a legend, either completely new or simply restated, with attention towards creating the feel of a myth or a legend through use of language that is apropos. It is better to submit a complete myth or legend, but completion is not a requirement.
Sentence: freeform

Exercise #8: POV (point of view) - Write a vignette twice. First, in 1st person Point of View (“I”), and secondly in 3rd person omniscient (“She/He”). It must be the same vignette, same character/s, setting, etc. Use dialogue if you like.
Sentence: freeform

Exercise #9: Sense of Wonder - Using methods from the previous exercises, plus your own sensibilities, develop a vignette that creates a sense of wonder. Sense of Wonder is the “oooh” factor of your story. This is achieved in a number of ways, some of which you are already familiar with to a great degree (you should, of course, use stuff you’ve learned from the earlier exercises). Sense of Wonder is elusive but doable, and may make or break any serious genre writing. But remember that is it rarely cosmetic.

Exercise #10: The Short Story - Submit a full short story.

There you go. Ten exercises to help hone your craft regardless of genre (though obviously there is a skew towards genre-writing like speculative fiction, though my own sensibilities lie more towards magic realism and "serious" "literary" pieces).

Go and write.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

spoonful of sugar

More in line with Vin's Happy Land, a new blog by one of my friends, Nines, is open for your perusal.

Spoonful of Sugar is relentlessly optimistic and but as expressive as any of the more cynical journals out there.

Go for a dose of sunshine, then come back here for more shadow play.
crash. crash
crumble, crumble

Blogger just ate several days worth of posts before I had the clarity of mind to save it on my notepad or something. Gah. And I'm not in the mood to retype.


I stepped out of the condo into the rain and flumped my white umbrella open. Suddenly, a powerful wind tried to tear the umbrella from my hands. I fought it and ended up with an inverted umbrella and wet clothes.

This was like the time when, despite the Black Rain warnings, I decided to take a walk around Causeway Bay in HK, and ended up literally slammed against a storefront.

Wind is powerful, invisible and surprising. A poet once compared it to fate and cautioned people against fighting it.

Me, well, I'll go out for a walk if I want to - with the full awareness that I most likely will get drenched. But maybe not.

Monday, June 16, 2003

saturday's entries

stark raving good food

Marco treated the gang to great food at Don Henrico's - the best place for Buffalo Wings. Carl's choice of Fisherman's Pizza was delicious and to the non-carnivores I imposed my love for pesto.

Best part, of course, was the conversation including the topic we had during the nightcap at Starbucks: What circumstances would move you to be a supervillain?

A great time, thanks to Marco!

friday's entries

Yes, the return of my internet service at home turned out to be a pipe dream, so once again I'm disconnected. I've just about had it with these fuckers.

size matters

It does. It really does, especially when a client sends something via email to the tune of 5.2M. It caused my computer at work to spiral into ruin. I'm at that point where I just want to hurl the entire machine out the window. Instead, I took a long walk out of the office and didn't look back.

Somewhere in the ether, the rest of my mail waits or floats or is lost forever.

I don't even know what my schedule is today. Feh.


Nikki has a new Hinirang story, Ladron y Tulisan (Thief & Thief), which should be available shortly. It's a well-written romp with interesting characters - especially the Tiq'barang one.

I'm happy to see a new Hinirang story, since this project, which seemed so important to the group, has fallen down the wayside. This is one of the things that irks me about people on the whole - to commit to something and then fail to persevere - functioning like a very young baby whose attention is quickly diverted by other things. This situation makes me question the entire concept of group collaboration. In essence, it just solidifies my belief that it is better to work alone or not at all. Why bother to start something when no one will continue? Perhaps it is better to just shut the thing down so everyone can just do as they will. It's like a mockery of love relationship - just get a divorce and move on.

I'm hoping to see well-written stories as part of the group workshop's final exercise for the foundation phase. Everyone was given over 5 weeks to complete it (by the way, El and Alex and the others who want to do the sequence of exercises, write me so I can send you instructions) and no other vignettes or criqitues were composed or given during that time. The deadline is this Friday, the 20th. The stated goal of the workshop was to help everyone improve their writing skills - and part of that is observing deadlines.

I've begun to script the new project I'm working on with Jason. To emphasize the magic realist sensibilities of Hinirang, I'm writing part of it in flashback. If I block off a couple of days this week, I should get the entire 96-pager done. Or so I believe. I must get rid of all this negative energy though. It tastes like bile.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

renewed destiny

At last my internet connection at home is back. It's very slow but I think it should go back to it previous levels in a while.

I'm utterly delighted, of course.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

death via addiction

Buzz is that the entire SMART team relevant to the Addict campaign were laid off - from the pertinent VP to the copywriters.

Even the ad agency who did the creatives are supposedly banned from doing work for the company.

If all this is true, then it shows how culturally conservative our society is. A lot of people found the campaign distasteful because of the negative connotations of the word "addict" (it is said that SMART's first response to the initial protest was to release a new ad - "addicted to god").

The sad reality is that in an effort to jolt people into listening to their message, a lot of our colleagues over at the ad agencies resort to what is arguably tasteless.

Buti pa ang Globe.

I had brunch at this great little restaurant at Greenhills - The Sunroom, which serves delectable Chinoy selections. Their line of congees, as well as the spare ribs, fish and oyster cakes, make the visit worthwhile.

I met up with some people to firm up some business plans. The good thing is that, if all works out, I'm actually looking to be in a better place than I initially assumed (which is why, often, it is better to estimate on the side of paranoid conservatism, especially when it comes to projections and such). The capacity to look at circumstances via unexpected perspectives is part of the strategy I'm advocating. Too much of the same old, same old leads to predictability, which, while leading to a semblance of stability, also becomes akin to background noise. The question is: how do you make yourself heard in a room full of noise? The answer is not obvious but charmingly simple once you understand how to attack the question.

Put it this way. If a man were in that noisy room, wherein everyone was trying to attract the attention of a single woman in the doorway, he should put up a huge sign that tells her, in big bold letters, who he is.

oh, so that's who he is

It turns out that this guy I keep sharing the elevator with at the condo (tall, tatooed and piss-ugly with attitude) is none other than KC Montero.

Goes to show how little I know. It seems that the condo has more than its fair share of "celebrities" (really, I'd rather have some writer rather than a has-been MTV jock). Celebrity does little for me. Unless it's a bevy of pretty girls.

bevy of pretty girls

At another restaurant, at another meeting, I quickly realized that I was sharing the room with The Beautiful People.

Around 25 young women, all models, were sitting around, waiting for something, flipping through their clearbooks filled with their pictures in various poses and stages of undress.

It's hard to carry on an intelligent conversation when just across from you, a PYT laughs, complete with tilted head and cascading hair.

Of course, nasty bastard that I am, all sorts of evil thoughts were in my head. Why is it that a lot of people immediately assume that if you're beautiful, you're stupid? Because god is fair, that's why.

It's like that terrible assumption people make when they see an ugly man with a stunningly beautiful woman: he's very rich or his sex technique rivals hardcore porn. Rarely would anyone say "Oh, how lovely, a couple in love".

Aren't you like this? Let the guilty, like me, be struck where it hurts.

where it hurts

Everywhere, almost every part of me today is in delicious pain.

Last night, I paid a visit to one of the spas I frequent - City Spa along E. Rodriguez. It has a decent sauna and gives a decent massage for a fairly decent price (P600 bucks, but of course I go during the odd hours to get the 30% discount, thus only P420).

Now, the kind of guys that I am, when it comes to massages, it must hurt. None of this namby-pamby girly-girly "soft" or"medium" crap. It has to be brutal, like the ones I went to in China, where they stepped on me (but for the love of god, leave my feet alone, because my Singapore trauma still lingers).

I am usually resigned to subpar massage, using the sauna or the hot pool becoming more of a draw to me instead. However, last night I met my match when I was surprised by Jhoy.

Yes, Jhoy, complete with the regrettable "H", was a Valkyrie, a Chooser of the Slain. My session became one of masochistic bliss as she pummeled, pulled and cracked me, reducing me to a whimpering mass of glassy-eyed goo.

I dragged myself into a cab and managed to crawl home, thinking that maybe I finally understood how penitents achieve enlightenment through the judicious application of pain.

so whippet, whippet good

Ah yes, Max is a whippet - thanks to everyone else who remembered.

And, if you scour the web, you will see lots of pictures of whippets with reindeer horns. It's both touching and...odd, but in a good way I guess.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

sex roundup


Bishop Bacani of Novaliches joins Bishop Yalung of Antipolo in leaving the country after a sex scandal. The former's secretary filed a sexual harassment complaint against Bacani before Papal Nuncio Franco, while the latter's girlfriend is pregnant with their second child.

The faithful are aghast but I'm not surprised.

Sex is sex and it happens. Perhaps it is better to just remove the chastity vow and allow these priests to fuck around legally like the rest of us - but all pedos must burn.


Speaking of sex, if you're into geriatrics, look no further. Geri, "the only patient care manniken that resembles a geriatric patient" is now available from Aspen Corp, complete with venipucture training arm. Just look for the ad in today's Inquirer.

But really, it is meant for nurses in training so get your mind out of the gutter.

less porn does not a good world make

Still speaking of sex, embattled comics publisher Fantagraphics are cutting down on their offerings from Eros, their porn line.

They need help, by the way, so if you have a credit card, hie on over and over some stuff. And get some porn.

the less it becomes freakish

And finally, from the Guardian:

With a lingering kiss, and a prime-time declaration of love that brought rousing applause from the audience, a gay couple stole the show at the Tony awards on Sunday night in New York. Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, personal and professional partners for 25 years, won a Tony, the Oscar of the theatre world, for the score of "Hairspray", which features Harvey Fierstein in drag playing a woman.

In his acceptance speech, shown live on TV, Mr Shaiman turned to Mr Wittman and said: "I love this man. We're not allowed to get married in this world ... But I'd like to declare, in front of all these people, I love you and I'd like to live with you the rest of my life."

Shortly afterwards Denis O'Hare, who won the featured actor (play) prize for his role in Take Me Out, about a gay baseball player, also thanked his boyfriend sitting in the audience. At first, Mr O'Hare says, he had doubts about whether to do so, but decided to go ahead.

"I thought, 'No, no, no, this is the whole point.' The whole point is that we all have to risk something personal to make something happen. The more it's talked about the more it becomes commonplace, the less it becomes freakish. I think it's a good thing."

sage and max

I took Sage to see her paternal grandmother and my little girl was so enamored by Max.

Remember him? He's the purebreed something that is more expensive than my entire year's rent (gah, I can't remember the breed, but its the one that you put reindeer horns on during winter).

Anyway, Sage was first greeted by all the other yapping dogs. She responded by barking at them, imitating their own growls and yelps. Later, while walking around, she was approached by Max. Her eyes lit up and she tried to pet him, hold him, hug him and step on him - all at the same time. Max responded by politely licking her hand, which made her shriek with delight (and made me go looking for alcohol).

When she is older and if wherever we're living permits I'll get her a dog. Or a pony.

my date with carl

Thanks to the kindness of Robinson's Galleria's Movie World, Carl and I were able to watch the latest Filipino blockbuster - Ang Tanging Ina, starring comedienne Ai Ai de las Alas.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, in fact, here, let's get the review out of the way:

film: ang tanging ina

Star Cinema's new comedy works wonders with above par scripting and direction. Ai Ai de las Alas shines in both comedy and drama modes, blessed with superb timing and an engaging mien.

The frenetic introduction was the best I've seen in Filipino film, managing to encapsulate the entire set-up and premise with solid comedic beats laced with music that is hilariously apropos.

The movie does have its flaws, particularly with the casting (and therefore, the acting) of majority of the younger actors. The exception is Marvin Agustin who did well (although his method is still firmly within the bounds of traditional "young Filipino man" school).

The film paid homage to many films popularized by the likes of Sharon Cuneta, Vilma Santos and Claudine Barreto. The moment that the film-educated audience recognizes the references is a powerful instant of indentification, provoking knowing smiles or outright laughter.

I rarely view Filipino films (convinced that the best, like Oro Plata Mata and movies of that period) have passed us by. But seeing this, my faith in Filipino cinema is rejuvenated. Sure, it is a far cry from the usual brooding Sturm und Drang art house films I like, but in its context, it achieved its goals - to entertain, to move, to provoke.

It is certainly a lot better than most of the glossy drivel I've seen recently. Go and see for yourself.

Ang Tanging Ina - 7 (of 10)


After the film, Carl and I had milkshakes at DC Diner and talked about how it seems to be an unspoken axiom that stories that are bright and optimistic are inevitably torn apart by critics, considered beneath contempt or sentimental, while stories that show how terrible life is are praised. Which is true to a certain extent, of course.

Why? I'll write something longer here some other time, but suffice it to say that tragedy and it accompanying moment of catharsis is powerful indeed, and that laughter is overvalued (though not in Happy Land, of course, where it is the coin of the realm).

We got to talking about how adulthood and its attendant circumstances just happened one day (in my case, as an epiphany when I had to deal with helping out close relatives financially) and how melodrama pervades the lives that surround us. This was peppered with observations on love, family, friends, art and how all that matters in the end is what you truly are.

Heady topics for sweet drinks, but that's one of the things I love about talking with Carl. There is no need to make silly small talk that is irrelevant anyway. Just get to juicy, though-inducing ones, without fear of running over someone else's precious little ego.

Monday, June 09, 2003

film: eight women

A man is murdered in a snowbound house with eight women. Each is a suspect. Each has a motive.

Throw in eight of the best French actresses (Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Béart, Ludivine Sagnier, Virginie Ledoyen, Fanny Ardant, Dannielle Darrieux, Isabelle Huppert, Firmine Richard), French-style melodrama, sudden musical numbers, theatre of the absurd and Agatha Christie tropes and you have Eight Women - a wonderful and captivating film that works incredibly until the lackluster ending.

But still, despite that, this is good film, with many things going for it that will make the poor finale forgivable.

Beautiful women (young and mature), wink-sensibility and solid playwrighting structure make it a delight to view. In fact, often the lyricism and sexiness of the French language make you almost believe you do not need to read the subtitles.

Final Review

Eight Women - 8.5/10
one! hundred! demons!

I first caught a glimpse of a few panels of Lynda Barry's "autobifictionalography" in the Comics Journal. Bumping into Ruey before one of his trips abroad, I told him to keep an eye out for the book. Well, thank god he did. Thanks to him, I finally got to read it.

After seeing a 16th century painting of a hundred demons chasing each other, Barry decided to confront her own demons in a series of stories that blend fiction and autobiography into one, using ink and paper and a riot of color. The resulting 17 short tales are excellent material, very readable and easily among the best "comics" I've seen this year.

The fact that Barry is part-Filipino is gravy for me (thought I confess it was like being kicked it the gut when words like "puet" and "aswang" came up - plus the misspelled "aiie, n'ako!"). The stories themselves, with their captioned writing and pithy dialogue, along with the seemingly simple art (beautiful in its own way), worked wonders.

One of the vignettes talks about abused dogs and makes the connection with abused people.

Another wonders about how some childhood books can affect one so deeply, so sublimely.

Like this one.
look beyond the immediate

After dinner at North Park, the gang (along with Flim, somehow wrenched from the chains of editing those woeful women) went to have ice cream at the Manila Peninsula.

I don't know. I just had a sudden craving for ice cream. And not just any ice cream, mind you. No, it had to be the gigantic bowl of ice cream at the Pen (which, in my flawed memory, had something like 17 scoops, lots of chocolate syrup, nuts, berries and a ton of other good stuff).

A long time ago, I'd go with other friends and just chow down on the ice cream bowl, one of the Pen's best-kept secrets.

Apparently, the secret is out, because now, the bowl is smaller and twice as expensive. It was so distressing that we all opted to have something else while chatting in the lobby.

Flim being present, film was one of the hot topics (everything from him trying to persuade me that he had more than one Alec Guiness mimic voice to Kate Moss being robbed of an Oscar nod for her image-breaking role as Gollum in LOTR: The Two Towers).

Everyone is coming along nicely with whatever it is they're doing. Really, as collaborators and as individuals we have so much shit coming out soon - documentaries, short films, graphic novels, comic mini-series, softcover illustrated fiction, manga magazine anthologies, online comics and fiction.

I just wish we were more focused and coordinated.

There is nothing wrong with doing a lot of different things, but there is undeniable power in doing a lot of coordinated different things, to be able to look beyond the immediate future and plan efforts on a long-term basis - things that will benefit our industry as a whole. I don't know. Just spinning wool.
saturday's entry

Betrayed by Netopia, I only got to post this today. Feh.

four day summary

Yes, I know I've been remiss in posting, which saddens me because one of the reasons I maintain this blog is to instill discipline in writing even just a little on a daily basis. The fact is, our home connections is still on the fritz and I've barely had time to stay in the office at length.


So here I am at Netopia at Megamall, just five really good spits away from Comicquest. It's nice and quiet since all the loud network gaming kids are in the ghetto on the other side. The people around me are similarly transfixed by their monitors, which is absolutely fine with me.

A couple of years ago, I was a small shareholder in one of the Netopia outlets. I finally sold my stake after a while (deciding to invest in something else). Too bad because then I could've just gone to the outlet and squatted there.

talking poesy

A couple of nights ago, Nikki and I met up with a whole boatload of interesting people - all wanting to get into the new editing work opportunity in front of us. Pay is very good and time is flexible - one just has to learn the ropes in terms of process, which is all right, since everything has a learning curve.

The people on my side of the table were a great bunch to talk to. Kristine Fonacier and Cyan Abad endured my stings about their "writing poesy" with grace, while El drew Pikachu and b>Charles devoured the leftovers. Kat Lagman stunned me with her wonderfully shaved head (when I asked her if she shaved it herself, she said "Well, first my boyfriend does himself, and then he does me." - which leads to all sorts of prurient interpretations). Alex, K8 and a bunch of our other friends were there too, representing the fields of advertising, publishing, marketing, IT, the academe and whatnot.

All I can say is that it was great being with people who know what onanism means. Vocabulary simply flourishes.

5 spice duck

My other gang and I tried Rice, the restaurant formerly known as Art Avenue. The interiors were pleasantly subdued but the food was unispired and expensive.

I tried the duck dish, hoping against hope for a new taste sensation, but alas, was only underwhelmed.

Still, the place itself made sitting around and talking enjoyable. So despite the poor fare, I wouldn't mind going back.

old magic for new

I've been digging around my old cards, making fun decks for Nikki and I to trade blows with (trade blows, heh). With the influx of new cards (now close to 6,500 unique cards) it is impossible to keep up. Not that I intend to, all I want are the truly funky ones.

At the store, a 13 year-old approached me and we ended talking about Magic. I went home and brought back a fistful of things he'd never seen before. In return, he gave me a lot of the new rare cards - things I hadn't seen before. So we were both happy.

The thing is, I may have gotten myself my own "boy".

the future beckons

On the business side, a couple of important meetings I had towards the end of the week resulted in very interesting opportunities for Kestrel.

A couple of them are promising, needing only my firm commitment before taking off. Industry targets are similar and the good thing is the ones I'm looking at are the ones that need my style of blahblah. We'll see.

It's good to know that whatever happens, I can hope to have work of some kind. Granted, nothing is ever certain, but opportunities are never that difficult to find or create. I mean this: if you just sit and do nothing, nothing will happen. For me, it's a matter of choice and mindset.

Right now, it's about freedom versus stability - having my own business (and thus having the same stress of worrying about everything) or working for a another company (much less stress since I need to think only about my own duties).

Although, really, I'd kill fo two weeks of doing absolutely nothing.


We've been running around, my daughter and I, alternating who chases who, all over the condo and the bedrooms. She may have added a new word to her vocabulary ("come!", Sage said, demanding her mother follow her) but we're not certain.

Today, she had breakfast with me at the dining table, sitting on my lap, with both our plates in front. When I'd spoon food into my mouth, she'd pick up some of her own, put it into her mouth, look at me and go "Hmmmmm!", like the hotdogs were the best thing in the universe. Ah, to have that pleasure again - imagine.

I just adore her.

She's also decided that her daddy, while sitting on the couch and watching the Sex Bomb girls, is fair game for her new mountain-climbing game. The objective is to climb up her daddy using any means possible and plant a foot on his head. It is quite the experience.

arn and cyn sighting

It's true. I was at Cibo having one of my meetings, when suddenly Arnold taps me on the shoulder and says hi, with Cynthia right beside him. I was flabbergasted because I was taken completely by surprise. It is a rare occurance to see these two that encountering them gives deep meaning to the phrase "surprised by joy".

Arn & Cyn - it was wonderful seeing you guys! Let us know when your schedules clear so we can all go and have dinner!

weekend reading

Lynda Barry's One! Hundred! Demons! thanks to Ruey. In exchange, I'm lending him Sparks and Strangehaven.

El! Do you have other stuff I can read?

Wednesday, June 04, 2003


I made time to finally go and pick up some new clothes for myself. It seems like forever since I last shopped for myself. I think it was in Hong Kong during the height of my suit obsession. I'd make it a point to check out what Balenciaga had and pick up a full suit or just a coat or slacks. Then I'd head off to Causeway Bay for any number of stores there. If I was really in the mood, then it was off to Mongkok and the Night Market. Ah, the days of easy money. Sigh.

Shopping today is expensive. I wanted a pair of Dockers and was shocked to see the price - almost P2000 for nice pants. The other shops had similar prices (it was cheaper to buy Levi's Type 1 jeans!). I checked out Diesel and realized I was simply not their target market. An Italian brand store had great shirts at P6000 each - "Sige na, sir, bili na po kayo". I don't think so.

The short version is that I finally picked up a couple of pants within an acceptable price range (it was getting to the point where I was measuring pants in terms of cans of Sage's milk). I still need a few shirts and of course my utterly guilty pleasure - socks and underwear.

A man can never have enough socks and underwear. He can have a smattering of everything else, but MUST have tons of socks and underwear. It is imperative. More important than the number of stars in the sky. And well, I was traumatized before when my socks and underwear were slowly and consistently stolen until I had like 3 pairs left.

But this time, I'm getting outerwear first. I miss the selection of HK, but can live with (some of) the prices over here.

I just wish there was a Black Store for Tall Men who Really, Really like to wear Black.

Have I rhapsodized recently about how great it is to be a father?

Sage is a smart cookie. She can get things if you ask her to, by first identifying what's what.

She likes to read, or pretend to read. When we tell her "Sage, Mommy and Daddy are reading now" and hold up our books, she brings her own picture book and leafs through the pages, making commentary and occasionally grabbing one of hands to ask what's what - "Oh, that's a butterfly, Sage. See how pretty the blue wings are." Just yesterday, we were sitting with one of her books. She pointed at the phone and then pretended to make a call herself. So smart.

It's getting harder to say goodbye in the mornings because she doesn't want to me to go without her. I tell her that of course I'll be back later but it's no comfort. So we compromise and she accompanies me to elevator bank with her Yaya, before the inevitable leavetaking.

The big sized clothes we bought during our last trip to New York and Las Vegas are now just right for her. The only reason I don't go hogwild in shops and buy her stuff is that I'm afraid of getting the wrong size. I need her Mommy for that. I got her a stuffed puppy that she wanted - she chose it all by herself.

Sage also had a home haircut, just a little trim for her bangs.

Now this little chameleon looks like me or Nikki depending on time of day. But as Nikki put it, Sage looks like...herself, which is just perfect.
wanting eye candy

It's true. I'm a Miss Universe fanboy. The winner will replace Justine Pasek of Panama, the first runner up of 2002 who took the crown after the Russian winner surrendered the title voluntarily

I cannot resist 70+ young women parading around, especially during the swimsuit portion.

I always laugh during the "Parade of Nations" when all the contestants, garbed in their national costume, shimmy up to the microphone, extend their arms, and, heads held high, say something like: "Buenos noches. My name is Maria Elena Remedios Tejeros de la Vera y Castillo (deep breath, ready to shout) FROM MADRID, SPAIN!!!"

I wait with bated breath for the interview portion, the best part, when eccentric answers ultimately have me in stitches.

I remember watching the live telecast on RPN 9 with my Aunt Juris and the all the other kids and all the neighbors who squeezed into our living room (watching Miss Universe is a group activity, of course). The adults had pens and paper and kept track of the scores of each girl in every competition - you had to be able to move fast because the score flashed very briefly. I remember how we'd boo poor Miss Aruba, cheer on the asians, and marvel at the inevitable South American winner, usually Miss Venezuela. Then afterwards, as we'd talk about why Miss Philippines lost, we'd wind down with late merienda or lunch.

It's pure entertainment - mindless, wonderful and free, bereft of any social commentary or epiphany.

And I love it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

where is my destiny?

Who knows? Destiny Cable, which provides my internet connection at home, has been down for the past 4 days, which included a weekend of staring at the monitor of the crippled PC. Apparently, some issues with signal, lost data packets, modem configurations, IP accessibility and other gobbledygook are at fault. I don't give a shit what the reason is, just give me back my connection. The poor flustered girl at customer service got the best part of my inchoate morning ire, when I threatened to visit their offices personally and unplug everything.

It's really disturbing to me when I think of how the web has become so ubiquitous, so necessary for my daily life. I get my news, my mail, my porn, my game and software updates, everything, from the web, and I'm not about to go out and look for a freaking cybercafe just to do all that (thank god for the office connection though its not the same).

It's the same with the cell phone. If I manage to leave home without it, I'm a wreck for the rest of the say. Why? It's not as if I get a gazillion important calls or messages, right? But it is having the capacity to make a call when I want to, without having to look for a phone. I'm one of those people who actually use the cell phone to call more often than I use SMS.

I'm okay without the accoutrements of technology for as long as I am prepared to do so (e.g. a vacation in some forsaken place). But never, never unplug me without telling me.

my life in a box

Began putting stuff away in boxes, readying for the move to the new office.

I resisted until the tables had to be moved before doing any packing of my own. Makes it seem too real.

Change always happens and its up to us how we react. Do we pack up and get going? Do we cling to the past and weep a river of bitter tears? Do we shrug our shoulders and say "WTF"? Do we expel a sigh and give up?

As people, all of these options of reactions and more are all available, all valid.

But we have to choose.

I chose to grimace while packing then head off to lunch, thinking about the gigantic comic book I'm pitching to big brand client. Because, really, life goes on.

The wheel turns. The wheel turns.

magic to do

Miyazaki provided the last two evenings of viewing pleasure for Nikki, Sage and I, with Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away. These two films are simply beautiful, with room to breathe and an engaging sense of wonder. Fine storytelling makes them the classics that they are.

Sage particularly liked the witch story, mesmerized by the flying scenes. In fact, the next day, she came to her mother with a broom which she then proceeded to ride. What a smart little girl.

Last night, Nikki and I played Magic for a couple of hours, using the new cards from the latest Magic expansion: Scourge. We still love the game though neither of us are competitive anymore. Once upon a time, I was the National Champion, and Nikki, the National Finalist who went on to compete at the World Championship in Seattle.

I enjoy constructing decks from the cards we have. There's room for creativity, strategy and plain old weirdness in making decks. Quite therapeutic.


Vin and I spoke about writing, and how so many authors are forgotten, unknown or simply irrelevant to our own lives and interests.

I do not believe in creating a legacy of writing for the future. I don't think its something you decide. You simply do your best, writing for yourself or for your select audience, in the best way you know, with all the truth and honestly you can muster. The future readers will take care of themselves. The Now is more important. What worth is recognition 100 years from now? I'd rather enjoy a smile from a reader today, thank you.

My stepfather once told me that a man had to do three things to be complete:

Sire a child.

Write a book.

Plant a tree.

I guess that means leave something genetic, something intellectual, and something that everyone can enjoy or use.

Me, I'd add a fourth. Lose your heart and find it again.

Or smoke a cigarette.

Monday, June 02, 2003

foul-mouthed girl, i love you

As unabashed reality-tv afficionados, Nikki and I had a terrific time with the new Amazing Race 4.

The highlight is this girl, one of the competitors, who looks angelic with her happy face and pigtails. The cool thing is this: when she's excited or stressed or tired or angry (which, in this show, is every other moment), her dialogue explodes with profanity, all of which are beeped out - but the effect is hilarious.

The team I'm rooting for are the clowns. Yes, a pair of clowns. They took one look at a rope bridge challenge, gleefully stating "Oh, it's just a tightrope!", and zipped through with smiles.

And of course, whenever there is a husband and wife team, Nikki and I will cheer them on - even if they're stupid. As long as they love each other. (Which, sadly, is seemingly the case for a lot of people).)

Our cable modem conked out on Friday, unable to link us to internet. A call to the cable company informed us that all the modems of the same make as ours were having the same problem at the same time. Which makes for a lot of pissed off people who have to pay P2,360 a month. Hence the lack of entries over the weekend.

I did go across the mall and bought myself some time at Compass Internet, but my god, their connection speed is akin to a crippled turtle with 50k pounds on his tiny shell. It was so slow I left after staring at a loading page for minutes. Sad, really.

I hope the situation resolves itself today soonest. I have pictures of Sage I want to upload.