Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Apart from American Idol (three evenings a week now as we go to the Top 12), Dino contributed tons of stuff to the pile of happy distractions that I use NOT to write (haha):

Grease: You're the One that I Want - Honestly, Nikki and I tried to get into this reality show that looks for the new Sandy and Danny for David Ian's $10M production of Grease. Ultimately though, it was just too cheesy for our taste and it seemed there wasn't really much of a competition. And too long (by the time the auditions were over, the first live elimination show was two hours long and instead of reducing 12 to 10...they added another pair of poor performers).

The Legion of Super Heroes - Admittedly the die hard Legion fan in me is delighted (hey, I've spent a small fortune on those hardbound Legion Archives), but I do find the pacing too slow and I want a lot more Legionnaires than who we have. And Braniac 5 as a mechathingy is just ugh. But I will happily watch the series.

Supernatural - This hour long show features the Winchester brothers battling the evil-nasty-of-the-week. The premise quickly gets old and predictable. I find my mind drifting as a disengage while being a couch potato. There are a few small moments though, but I need to more scared or struck by a sense of OMG-what-is-that?! Right now, around 7 or 8 episodes in, I'm reminded too much of that older cursed item of the week TV series, Friday the Thirteenth: The Series (remember Robey?)

Hellboy Animated: Storm of Swords - Yay! I just wish darker tones were used, but this is generally good. I've been a big Mignola fan for years now (now if only there could be Mike Allred's Atomics Animated, I'd be a hppy man).

The Last Unicorn and Flight of Dragons - I was in my early teens when I first watched these animated films and remembered loving them. Sadly, in the case of The Last Unicorn, the lens of memory was better than the reality. The pacing was too slow, the music hokey, and the characterization stiff (but I still laughed at the tree with giant breasts). Flight of Dragons fared better, with much forgivable. It made me sad to hear John Ritter's voice again. Perhaps some things are better remembered than experienced again.

Rob & Amber: Against the Odds - Boring from the first episode but maybe only because I do not play poker. I preferred Rob's scheming in Survivor and The Amazing Race. But junkie that I am, I will probably get around to watching the entire series some time in the future.

Idol is still the reality show to watch. The girls gave great performances and blew the guys out of the water. Plus the associated Idol things (Antonella's faux blowjob photos, Hudson winning the Oscar, Daughtry's song as the exit song) make it quite fulfilling for the zombie in me.

I also love Heroes, of course (with Prison Break and Jericho lagging behind).

I've also seen a few films recently like Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen, Scoop, something with Antonio Banderas dancing, Babel.. but the best is Little Miss Sunshine (my choice for Best Pciture - hi Ian! - but I'm happy with Alan Arkin get the Best Supporting Actor nod).

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This week:

What Uncle Howard Did by David Kopaska-Merkel
Solis Invicti by Matthew Rossi
Giving A Clock by Frances Hwang
The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy by Daryl Gregory

Last week:

A Key to the Illuminated Heretic by A.M. Dellamonica
The Disappearance of James H____ by Hal Duncan
Learning the Western Alphabet by Hilary Jenkins
Sock Heroes by M. Thomas


Thursday, February 22, 2007

hopelessly devoted

Sage is enrolled at The Schoolroom, a progressive preschool that continues to impress me with their methodology and curriculum. And their choice of year-end/graduation musicals.

Every year, all the preschool kids get together and perform songs from musicals, with props and costumes (you have to be a parent to appreciate this, trust me - but it's wonderful).

Last year, they did South Pacific (Sage in grass skirt singing "Happy Talk"). This year it's Grease (Sage as a Pink Lady). Of course, my hyperactive imagination insists that in the years prior, they did Starlight Express (on skates, natch), Les Miserables (complete with rotating stage), Miss Saigon (with helicopter) and Cats (with giant props and much dancing).

When I hear Sage practicing her songs at home, I cannot help but join in (flashback: me, my mom and her singer friends around a piano with a Best of Broadway songbook, with my best Zero Mostel impersonation). She is always amazed that I know "her" song, and we end up performing together (okay, singing Olivia Newton-John is not my strongest point).

And speaking of "hopelessly devoted", didn't majority of the guys suck at American Idol last night? Sundance, what has happened? At this point though, I have no idea who's truly good - I need to see more consistent performances. But I do like Mr. Beatbox and Big Chris. At sympre naman, boto ako sa half-Pinoy na si AJ (maganda kasi ang ngipin niya, ika ni Nikki).

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

mr. alfar

Post-Read Or Die, the gang had dinner at Lasa, one of the good restos at The Podium. Among my friends was photographer Benjie Ordonez who happily snapped photos as we talked.

Anyway, looking at my photo now, I realize just how much I look like my father. My parents were divorced when I was very young and I lived with my mother. Growing up without my dad, I found it odd how relatives who knew him - upon seeing me walk - would say "Dean walks just like his father". Or how he and I slouched in the same way, had the same laugh, or the same expressions.

What was strange to me then was the notion that the behaviours could be inherited. My young self asked just how could we have the same laugh? The same slouch?

As a teenager, my mother told me that I had my father's sense of humor, his ability to find something funny in almost any siutation, and his capacity to mine circumstances for laughs. This made me think too (yes, I guess my understanding of genetics was quite Mendellian, and restricted to peas and physical traits like eye color).

When I met him again as an adult, I thought to myself "We do not look alike. We do not act alike. We do think alike. We do not laugh alike."

But in retrospect, I think it was a combination of defense mechanisms, my need to be my own creation, my desire to step away from his shadow, and the mixed results of his absence on my mindscape. I wasn't fair to him. Or to genetics.

At our most recent time together, a couple of years back in Las Vegas - me in my 30's; he in his 60's - I remember looking at him for a long time. And listening to him talk and laugh.

And I knew with a conviction beyond genetics that we were both Mr. Alfar, and that the saying "chip off the old block" is a cliche because it is true.

And I knew that beyond the fractured father-son relationship there was something deeper than genetics. There was care, compassion, laughter... and friendship.

If he lived in Manila, he'd be one of the gang, no doubt, and we'd be laughing over the same silly things.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Tuesday, February 20, 2007


This week:

A Key to the Illuminated Heretic by A.M. Dellamonica
The Disappearance of James H____ by Hal Duncan
Learning the Western Alphabet by Hilary Jenkins
Sock Heroes by M. Thomas

Last week:

Journey into the Kingdom by M. Rickert
Echo by Elizabeth Hand
The Dead Boy at your Window by Bruce Holland Rogers
Mahmoud's Wives by Janis Ian

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collection and submission

I'm quite peaked today because Anvil Publishing sent over the contracts (6 copies as per standard) for "The Kite of Stars and Other Stories" for me to sign.

As my vision blurred over the fine print (but I really read it all, and I must say I'm delighted with Anvil's terms), I could not help but take a soft-focus memory walk. I remembered the time when one of my biggest dreams was to have my own book, a collection of my short stories. The biggest hindrance then was the paucity of stories - I had around 2 or 3. Then as the other stories slowly came, my priority was to see them published in magazines and journals first, leaving the notion of a collection a faraway fantasy.

When I finally had enough stories of a certain quality (which means to me "stories I wouldn't immediately disown"), I began to dream again. This was derailed by the publication of my novel (which was another impossible dream come unexpectedly true). But by then, I knew a couple of publishers and decided to try to see if my collection had legs.

I love Ateneo Press - after all, they took in Salamanca and have been wonderful to work with. But I also wanted to experience another publisher and see what it's like. I recall at last year's Philippines Free Press awards approaching Karina Bolasco of Anvil. I asked if I could submit my manuscripts and she said yes. Soon after that, they told me they'd publish my book.

In our last meeting at the launch of A la Carte, they asked me if I'd like to design the cover myself. I happily agreed (because I do have a design agency populated by talented creatives).

"How about illustrations per story?" they asked next.

"Yes!" I replied, already thinking about one of my favorite artists, Andrew Drilon. "Yes!"

I'm happy with the arrangement since - apart from the stories themselves - I'll have some creative input in terms of the cover, making the book even more personal. I can't believe I'll have a book out sometime this year... God is indeed good.

The lesson here, for me, is one I firmly believe in: Try.

Meanwhile, in my continuing struggle to write scifi I've officially thrown in the towel (but what about "Try", you ask . In time, grasshopper, in time) At least in the case of the magazine with the deadline. I called the editor, explained my difficulty and told him I completed two scifi pieces, neither of which I felt were particularly excellent.

I offered to send in a non-scifi piece (but still speculative fiction) that I was more comfortable with. He agreed and I sent him a story from my inventory "An Excerpt from “Princes of the Sultanate” (Ghazali: 1902); Annotated by Omar Jamad Maududi, MLS, HOL, JMS." (This situation is precisely why it pays to have an inventory of stories.)

If all goes well (fingers crossed) it'll see print in a couple of months. If not, then there's more writing to be done.

Now with my horrendous scifi pieces out of the way, I can whip myself to finish my LitCritter story (which will be quite hard because of American Idol and the fact that Nikki and I now have matching Gameboys). And the Palanca entries. And another mag. Argh.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

love story outline

1. Boy meets Girl
* let's set it in college, say UP, in 1990's (setting is important; we can reference music, etc.)
*Boy is a senior, Girl is a freshman (so that we can play with tension)
*Boy is leader of the org, Girl is applicant
*Boy is in relationship with Girl2 who claims to have terminal illness (so we have more tension), who is also a member of the org
*Girl is in relationship with Boy's Best Friend.

2. Boy and Girl fall in love
*But Boy is still trapped in the relationship with the terminally ill Girl2
*Girl is still in relationship with Boy's Best Friend
*The secret attraction is strong but Boy does not move

3. Hijinks ensue
*Money and possessions begin to vanish at the org hangout, including tuition fees, shoes, etc.
*Girl breaks up with Boy's Best Friend, hangs out with Boy's barkada
*Terminally ill Girl2 is revealed to be A) fabricating her illness, and B) the thief, stealing all the money and objects not just at the org but in various members' houses that she and the Boy visit
*Boy breaks up with faux terminally ill Girl2
*Boy is broken and shamed by actions of Girl 2

4. Love montage
*Small vignettes as Boy and Girl get closer to each other
*Boy and Girl do not act on their attraction because of Boy's Best Friend (hmm, let's make him a National Judo Champion)... but it is too strong
*Boy and Girl share first kiss at an empty house's poolside where for once they are alone
*They get together - Girl realizes Boy is too paralyzed to move
*Word of their relationship spreads - people take sides

5. The threat
*Boy's Best Friend (the National Judo Champion) demands satisfaction
*Boy, armed only with words, goes to meet him (build up tension)
*The anticipated fight turns out well (so there is power in words after all; and the Boy and Boy's Best Friend remain friends)

6. The proposal
*BOY: Marry me
*GIRL: Sure. When?
*BOY: How about next week?

7. Time shift to a year and half later, 1995
*Boy and Girl get married

Still needs tightening and dramatic focus, corrections on timeline, more texturing... as fiction.

But real life is real life. I am just glad to be a principal in the story.

Happy Birthday, Girl. It'll be 12 years of marriage this year - and I will always be your Boy.

I love you.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

via amazon.com

Two of my works are available for ordering via Amazon:

Salamanca (2005 Palanca Grand Prize for Novel)

Siglo: Freedom (co-edited with Vincent Michael Simbulan, 2004 National Book Award)

So for those not in the Philippines who've not been able to source these, now there's a way (huzzah)!

As for the other books (Philippine Speculative Fiction, Siglo: Passion and my upcoming collection of fiction), we'll see what can be done.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

philippine genre stories # 2

The second issue of the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories has two stories by the LitCritters. First off is the feature story - "The 101st Michael" by Kate Aton-Osias, whose prior publication was in Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.2 (with the wonderful "Snippets"). Second is "Beacon" by Nikki Alfar, whose most recent work appeared in Story Philippines ("Doe Eyes").

Other authors in the new issue include Sean Uy (his story "Regiment" appeared in Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.1), Crystal Gail Shangkuan Koo, Celestine Maria G. Trinidad and Chiles Samaniego.

Editor Kenneth Yu continues to do a great job - so let's support this publication when it comes out next month.

Read excerpts of all the stories here.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

i'm thirty three for a moment

..and looking at my daughter in the operating room.

On one side, Nikki is being fussed over by doctors, but I cannot take my eyes off my child, a struggling mass covered in who-knows-what. In seconds she is cleaned by the nurses and I see the small person there (with the correct number of fingers and toes), eyes closed, breathing the same air I am breathing.

She used to fit in the space between my hand and the crook of my arm. I watched her endlessly, feigning sleep. And how I wished I could reason with her so we could just discuss her issues instead of her crying (this was just a few days after we took her home, so I understand that it was too much to hope for).

And today she turns 5.

And how she can reason.

Happy Birthday, Sage Alfar, beloved daughter! You are the perfect reason to celebrate Valentine's.

I love you with all my tomorrows.


Monday, February 12, 2007


This Week:

Journey into the Kingdom by M. Rickert
Echo by Elizabeth Hand
The Dead Boy at your Window by Bruce Holland Rogers
Mahmoud's Wives by Janis Ian

Last Week:

Kara's Place by Luis Katigbak
Stella for Star by Yvette Tan
Sink or Swin by Myza Sison
Stories by Cesar Aquino

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Friday, February 09, 2007

palanca season

Yup, it's officially Palanca season again (seems like it was just a short while back, doesn't it?). The Carlos Palanca Foundation has announced that they are open to submissions in the usual categories for the 57th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (check out this site) - with the exception of two discountinued categories: Futuristic Fiction and Teleplay.

I tried to persuade the Powers-That-Be to change the Futuristic Fiction category to Speculative Fiction, but no go. It made sense to me, of course, to create something to encourage the writing of the type of fiction I like to read, but ultimately what has happened is a good thing. It forces speculative fiction to compete in the regular Short Story category, with the literature of the fantastic standing toe-to-toe against the entrenched Filipino realism. If a spec fic story, with all its attendant non-realist trappings is well-written, it can win. The competition is tough - last year's 1st and 2nd prizewinners in Short Story in English were taken up by the LitCritters recently ("Mahogany Water" by Socorro Villanueva and "Sink or Swim" by Myrza Sison) and they were simply astounding) - but I think with the growing number of skilled authors writing fantasy, science fiction and horror (and the other so-called "genres"), we will soon bag the prize. Fututistic Fiction always seemed quite myopic to me, with the scenario of a future Philippines rammed down our throats. But still, the collector in me is happy to have won at least one prize in the now-defunct category. So while there is a definite sense of "sayang naman", it is outweighed by the prospect of the open competition, story versus story, and we'll see how soon we can change the judges' reading tastes (haha).

The following categories are open: Short Story, Short Story for Children, Essay, Poetry, One-act Play, and Full-length Play in Filipino and English divisions; Screenplay in Filipino division; and Short Story in Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Iluko regional languages.

I encourage everyone to compete. Competition is good. For me, it is the equivalent of a sports tournament - an opportunity to flex my writing muscles. Unlike sports, where the onset of age has impact on the athelete's physicality, in writing time is an ally.

Entries for the literary competition may be submitted in person, or sent by mail or courier service to Carlos Palanca Foundation, 6th Floor, CPJ Building., 105 C. Palanca Jr. St., Legaspi Village, Makati City. Entries may also be submitted through e-mail in Rich Text Format or in Microsoft Word Document as an attachment, together with the author’s resume, official entry form and original copy of the notarized authorization form.Complete contest rules and official entry forms may be obtained from the Carlos Palanca Foundation office or via e-mail to cpawards@info.com.ph or palancaawards@yahoo.com. For inquiries, go and call 818-3681, local 31.

Crack those knuckles and get writing.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

40 most awesomely bad love songs

While writing the last entry, I overheard the guys at my office laughing about the Worst Songs or somesuch. It turns out it's also from VH1 - "40 Most Awesomely Bad Love Songs":

40. Hero - Enrique Iglesias
39. Is This Love - Whitesnake
38. Joanna - Kool & The Gang
37. God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You - N'SYNC
36. You're The Inspiration - Chicago
35. The Search Is Over - Survivor
34. Get Here - Oleta Adams
33. Truly, Madly, Deeply - Savage Garden
32. When You Close Your Eyes - Night Ranger
31. Heaven - Warrant
30. Suddenly - Billy Ocean
29. You Got It All - The Jets
28. Endless Nights - Eddie Money
27. Eternal Flame - The Bangles
26. All My Life - K-Ci & Jojo
25. Love Of A Lifetime - Firehouse
24. I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) - Meatloaf
23. Rosanna - Toto
22. I Get Weak - Belinda Carlisle
21. When I See You Smile - Bad English
20. Oh Sherrie - Steve Perry
19. All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You - Heart
18. High Enough - Damn Yankees
17. As Long As You Love Me - Backstreet Boys
16. I Drove All Night - Celine Dion
15. All For Love - Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, Sting
14. I'll Be Loving You (Forever) - New Kids On The Block
13. The Flame - Cheap Trick
12. Sometimes - Britney Spears
11. To Be With You - Mr. Big
10. I'll Make Love To You - Boyz II Men
9. Hold On To The Nights - Richard Marx
8. I Need A Girl (Part 1) - P. Diddy & Usher
7. Love Somebody - Rick Springfield
6. Key Largo - Bertie Higgins
5. How Can We Be Lovers If We Can't Be Friends - Michael Bolton
4. Tonight I Celebrate My Love - Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack
3. I Adore Mi Amor - Color Me Badd
2. Even The Nights Are Better - Air Supply
1. Truly - Lionel Ritchie

And I find myself mostly in agreement - except that my most reviled song of all time (well, not THE most reviled, but it is certainly up there in the top 10), Meatloaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" should be #1. And "Oh Sherrie" is bad only because of the high notes (but I appreciate the bigness of emotion), and "Get Here" is not half that bad.


best of the 80's

Towards the end of last year, VH1 listed their selections of the best 80's songs. Given that this decade had me both in high school and college, I could not help but take a look at what they thought were the best songs of my (musically) formative decade (though I must state that I listened to a lot of alternative and British music then: Ryuichi Sakamoto, New Order, etc.).

01 Bon Jovi / “Livin’ on a Prayer” 1986 - well, okay. This was rather anthemic, it's true. I remember screaming the chorus.

02 Def Leppard / “Pour Some Sugar On Me” 1987 - Honestly, no.

03 Duran Duran / “Hungry Like the Wolf” 1982 - Oh yeah! I was a true blue Duranie back then. I had all the albums and knew the obscure B-side tracks (like "Winter Marches On"). And when they came to Manila, I was so there.

04 Michael Jackson / “Billie Jean” 1982 - Undeniably so. The "Thriller" album was hot and we all tried to emulate his moves - some of us (i.e. me) failing horribly.

05 Prince / “When Doves Cry” 1984 - It's the beat, man. The rhythm is so intoxicating that you don't mind the screeching towards the end.

06 Hall & Oates / “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” 1981 - I actually liked Hall & Oates, but preferred their other songs to this one.

07 Guns N’ Roses / Sweet Child O’ Mine 1987 - My cousin BJ used to sing this - very loudly and spontaneously. Not to my taste though.

08 Madonna / “Like a Virgin” 1984 - Oh man, I remember first seeing the video and lusting after Madonna. Sigh.

09 Run-D.M.C. / “Walk This Way” 1986 - LOL

10 AC/DC / “You Shook Me All Night Long” 1980 - Not for me.

11 Journey / Don’t Stop Believin’ 1981 - Nope.

12 Whitney Houston / “How Will I Know” 1985 - Fun but vanilla.

13 U2 / “With Or Without You” 1984 - Should be #1. This song was THE song for the 80s.

14 The Bangles / “Walk Like an Egyptian” 1986 - Massively fun. I recall sourcing a remixed version with the Bangles singing a capella. Loved it.

15 Van Halen / “Jump” 1984 - Yes, yes, yes.

16 INXS / “Need You Tonight” 1987 - Nah. Almost any other INXS song is better.

17 Whitesnake / “Here I Go Again” 1982 - Nope.

18 Dexy’s Midnight Runners / “Come On Eileen” 1982 - One of the staple songs of the many house parties we had then. Play it and people come running to the dance floor. The funny thing was that the song was not apropos to the dance style then (stand still and wave your arms).

19 Cyndi Lauper / “Time after Time” 1984 - Not bad but "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was much more emblematic of Cyndi Lauper.

20 Rick Springfield / “Jessie’s Girl” 1981 - Cool.

21 Michael Jackson / “Beat It” 1982 - Listening to it again, I can't argue with the infectious nature of the song. But is it something I'd willingly listen to now?

22 The Cure / “Just Like Heaven” 1987 - Huh? There are better Cure songs. My high school barkada, especially Cecille and Celina, were big on Robert Smith.

23 Cyndi Lauper / “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” 1984 - There you go.

24 A-Ha / “Take On Me” 1985 - I was floored when I first saw the video. Since then, it has been a struggle to hit this song's high notes during videoke night.

25 Go-Go’s / “Our Lips Are Sealed” 1981 - Fun, but "Head Over Heels" should be higher.

26 Guns N’ Roses / “Welcome to the Jungle” 1987 - Nah.

27 Kajagoogoo / “Too Shy” 1984 - What I remember about this song is that it was produced by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran (see, told you I was a Duranie).

28 Wham! / “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” 1984 - Should be higher, along with "Freedom" and "Careless Whisper".

29 Talking Heads / Burning Down the House 1983 - Okay.

30 Pat Benatar / “Love is a Battlefield” 1983 - Oh man, Pat Benatar was this tit-wiggling move in this song's video - the memory of which still makes me smile.

31 Queen and David Bowie / “Under Pressure” 1981 - Sadly, this was appropriated as the soundtrack for an ad for women's napkins.

32 Night Ranger / “Sister Christian” 1983 - I actually do not remember this. What is this?

33 Soft Cell / “Tainted Love” 1981 - Yes! And on to New Order!

34 Poison / “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” 1988 - Give someone a guitar and they'll play this. Along with "Words".

35 Phil Collins / “In the Air Tonight” 1981 - Lots of better Phil Collins songs.

36 Tommy Tutone / “867-5309 / Jenny” 1981 - ?

37 Aerosmith / “Janie’s Got a Gun” 1989 - Lots of better Aerosmith songs!

38 U2 / “Pride (In the Name of Love)” 1984 - Yes! More U2! And why isn't "Mysterious Ways" here? Isn't it 80's?

39 Modern English / “I Melt With You” 1982 - Classic. We'd mime the accent too. Ask Vin to sing this and you'll see what I mean.

40 The B-52’s / “Love Shack” 1989 - Huzzah!

41 Mötley Crüe / “Dr. Feelgood” 1989 - I don't know this one.

42 The Clash / “London Calling” 1982 - Cool.

43 ABC / “Look of Love (Part One)” 1982 - Cool - though "Be Near Me" is cooler.

44 Bananarama / “Cruel Summer” 1984 - Geez, the song just played in head. Happy times, along wth "Robert DeNiro's Waiting".

45 Janet Jackson / “Nasty” 1986 - Hahaha.

46 The Police / “Every Breath You Take” 1983 - Why is this song ranked so low? This ought to be in the Top 10, for heaven's sake.

47 Twisted Sister / “We’re Not Gonna Take It” 1984 - More gimmicky than anything, but still fun. Like "Cum On Feel The Noise".

48 Bruce Springsteen / “Born in the U.S.A.” 1984 - The rasp is evident here, but "Dancing in the Dark" was the monster hit over here.

49 Beastie Boys / “Fight For Your Right” 1986 - Cool.

50 Eurythmics / “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” 1983 - Top 10 material. Annie Lennox's vocals were ice cold.

51 Ratt / “Round and Round” 1984 - I think I've confused this with something else - drawing a blank.

52 Dead or Alive / “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” 1985 - Frenetic fun.

53 Billy Idol / “White Wedding” 1988 - hahahaha! But I liked "Rebel Yell" better.

54 Salt-N-Pepa / “Push It” 1986 - Whoa! I remember you!

55 A Flock of Seagulls / “I Ran (So Far Away)” 1982 - Cool!

56 Bonnie Tyler / “Total Eclipse of the Heart” 1983 - Big, big hit. Immediately appropriated by girly bars were it has become a staple.

57 Toni Basil / “Mickey” 1981 - The video is so...video. Loved the marchiness then. Hey Mickey!

58 Culture Club / “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” 1982 - Lots of better Culture Club songs, like "Karma Chameleon", "Church of the Poison Mind" or even "Victims"

59 John Mellencamp / “Jack & Diane” 1982 - Eh.

60 Young M.C. / “Bust a Move” 1989 - Eh.

61 Styx / “Mr. Roboto” 1983 - Love it.

62 Berlin / “Take My Breath Away” 1986 - From Top Gun, it is still one of the sexiest songs - when sung by my wife :)

63 Devo / “Whip It” 1980 - Of course! This was part of my introduction to New Wave, and I got Wayfarers to go with it.

64 Paula Abdul / “Straight Up” 1988 - Isn't Paula just getting ditzier on American Idol?

65 Foreigner / “I Want to Know What Love Is” 1984 - Cool.

66 Depeche Mode / “Just Can’t Get Enough” 1981 - Depeche Mode was huge here, with alost everyone of their songs played during the house parties.

67 REO Speedwagon / “Keep On Loving You” 1980 - No, this isn't the song of theirs that we liked. It was....argh! What WAS it?

68 Public Enemy / “Fight the Power” 1988 - Nah.

69 R.E.M / “It’s The End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” 1980 - Cool. Didn't realized it was a hit all the way back in 1980 though. OMG. I am old.

70 Joan Jett & The Blackhearts/ “I Love Rock N’ Roll” 1981 - Cool.

71 Rick James / “Super Freak” 1981 - You MUST watch "Little Miss Sunshine". This song figures in the finale.

72 The Fixx / “One Thing Leads to Another” 1983 - Not bad.

73 Nena / “99 Luftbaloons” 1983 - Huge here, as in HUGE. We all sang in German and were thankful when the English version came out.

74 George Michael / “Faith” 1987 - Wow! Remix this with The Cure's "Close to Me" and you'll have me dancing.

75 Prince / “Little Red Corvette” 1983 - Cool. But prefer "Raspberry Beret"

76 Thomas Dolby / “She Blinded Me With Science” 1982 - Yes!

77 New Edition / “Candy Girl” 1983 - ?

78 Blondie / “Call Me” 1980 - Sorry, the "Call Me" I know is by Wang Chung (am I right?).

79 Human League / “Don’t You Want Me?” 1981 - Oh yeah. Super cool. Plus "Human", Louise" and "Fascination" should be somewhere on this list.

80 Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock / “It Takes Two” 1988 - What's this?

81 Cameo / “Word Up!” 1986 - Or this?

82 Squeeze / “Tempted” 1981 - Great song. I really like it.

83 Prince / “Kiss” 1986 - Whoohoo! Eat this, Tom Jones.

84 Lionel Richie / All Night Long (All Night) 1983 - No, no, no. It was big but bleah.

85 Robert Palmer / “Addicted to Love” 1985 - I remember all those hot women in black with guitars so this song is a definite yes.

86 Bow Wow Wow / “I Want Candy” 1982 - Eh.

87 Falco / “Rock Me Amadeus 1986 - Fun, fun, fun.

88 Chaka Khan / “Ain’t Nobody” 1989 - "Through the Fire" was bigger.

89 The Pretenders / “Brass in Pocket” 1980 - Why not "Middle of the Road"?

90 Tone-Loc / “Wild Thing” 1989 - Definitely!

91 Katrina and The Waves / “Walking On Sunshine” 1983 - Frothy fun.

92 New Kids on the Block / “You Got It (The Right Stuff) 1988 - No.

93 Gary Numan / “Cars” 1980 - Cool.

94 The Rolling Stones / “Start Me Up” 1981 - Hmmm.

95 Debbie Gibson / “Only in My Dreams” 1987 - Why not "Lost In Your Eyes"

96 Men at Work / “Down Under” 1982 - True. Speaking of "True", where's Spandau Ballet?

97 The Romantics / “What I Like About You” 1980 - Better to have "Talking In Your Sleep"

98 Bobby Brown / “My Perogative” 1988 - Nah. I'd rather have "Ghostbusters" or "Can't Touch This"

99 Wang Chung / “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” 1986 - Yay!

100 Loverboy / “Working for the Weekend” 1981 - What's this?

Of course here are many songs I'd rather have on this list, but in general, I wouldn't mind this playlist on my iPod.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007


When they loom, they're almost paralytic. I hate missing them, but I've already had to ask for an extension from an editor for a scifi piece which was due last month (everyone who knows me is aware of the sad fact that scifi leaves me cold and that, "Hollow Girl" aside, I have yet to actually write a decent one).

I actually finished the piece before the deadline but I am so unhappy with it - it's flat and trite and predictable and soulless - that I began another story, in which there is science but it is not central to the story. I don't want a gimmicky story wherein science saves the day or is the big reveal or a scientific process -unknown to laymen- explains everything. I'd rather have people in an environment where science is everyday, and how they continue to live their lives in that environment (like the sensibility of one of favorite sf stories, Tony Daniel's "Life on the Moon"). I will never be one of the "ideas" writers whose texts drip with mindblowing scifi concepts, every page an startling avenue to a new place so alien to my own sense of wonder. I find those kinds of stories tiresome after a while, and I find my reader-self disengaged or skimming through dense paragraphs held down by the gravity of their own cleverness.

I have another deadline, for another story, by the end of next month. This is the LitCritters novella and the going is slow and rough. I may have overthought the story - sometimes, too much preparation is not good for me - and question the narrative's ability to hold itself together for the required length. Ultimately though, the proof will be in the writing and in the finished text. Don't get me wrong, this is the type of challenge that I like.

In the meantime, I'm working on another pair of stories for my inventory (well, to be honest, it's also almost Palanca-season and I'm considering entering some prose this year; last year, I won for Short Story for Children; the year before that, for the Novel - it would be nice to have another short fiction prize).

So, writing-wise, these past six or so weeks have been difficult (especially since the Game Boy beckons), but I plan to turn it around beginning next week.

In the meantime, Ian Casocot and the LitCritters Dumaguete have finished their initial fiction writing assignment: seven delicious new stories for them to workshop and discuss. Good going, guys!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

old friend

It was a pleasant surprise to have dinner with an old friend from Cebu. Benjie Ordonez is now a kickass photographer with magazine cred as well as international exposure (yes, I took a look at his camera and was consumed with intense object lust as well as unhealthy envy).

He sat in on the LitCritters panel at the RODCon last Sunday (which was a lot of fun; the organizers refused to let anyone else in the full capacity room), then we were off to Lasa at The Podium for a much-needed wolfing down of good food.

It's been two years since we last saw each other (he took the shot that I use for this blog, up there on the upper left side) and had a lot of catching up to do.

"You overshot Cebu - again," he said with a frown, referring to my recent trips to Dumaguete.

I told him we'd try to visit Cebu, but how much we loved Dumaguete's charm and low prices for hotels and food.

"We have those too!" he protested.

Indeed. I remembered that one of our favorite hotels is there - the Montbello.

We talked about family and kids and friends and work, and how we've grown and aged. I'm really delighted at his skill with the camera (he's also an independent filmmaker). It's something I aspire to be decent at.

Okay, Benj. I will visit Cebu sometime...as long as the food is on you haha!

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Friday, February 02, 2007

planar chaos

Every four months or so, Wizards of the Coast releases the latest set for Magic: The Gathering - and like a zombie, I plunk down money to get myself a box of boosters and most (if not all) of the preconstructed decks.

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (actually, it was 1995), I was the first Philippine National Champion for Magic (Nikki, for a while was the highest ranked woman globally, and represented the Philippines at the World Championships in Seattle in 1998). Soon after that, I joined the company which distributed the cards and became the a judge and tourney organizer. Those were fun and heady days - my work primarily consisted of keeping the game alive and fresh, as well as travelling. Because of Magic, I travelled to China, Japan and the US, plus many places in our own archipelago. I truly loved the game, the way it rewarded creativity and intelligent play. I made a lot of friends and learned much during the years I worked for Novelty.

I quit competitive play for a number of reasons, but never truly stopped playing - thanks to my cutthroat competitor of a wife. So every time there's a new set, we get cards and play into the wee hours of the morning.

The latest set is called Planar Chaos, and it's quite a cool addition to the Time Spiral block.

So if anyone wants a pickup game from a grizzled veteran (or two), let me know.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

read or die: magic for beginners

The Read or Die Convention (RodCon 2007) is a two-day literary convention organized by Read or Die. The convention seeks to bring together readers, writers, publishers, government and school organizations and book dealers to highlight the importance of reading and literacy in building an open world for every Filipino through books. All proceeds of the event will be donated to AHON Foundation in conjunction with UNICEF.

RodCon 2007 takes place on February 3 and February 4, 2007 at the Hotel Intercontinental (Ayala Avenue, Makati City). The convention will be open from 9AM to 8PM daily. For more information about the convention, visit their website . Lots of books, lots of events, lots of authors walking around.

The LitCritters have a panel scheduled at 3:30PM on February 4th with "Speculative Fiction for Beginners: Reading Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror". We'll discuss which books and authors provide perfect introductions to the wild and wonderful world of Speculative Fiction, with selections from the genres of Fantasy, Scifi and Horror. In addition, the panel will talk about developing Filipino SF - where we are and where we hope to be in future. (I really wanted to make the title "Magic for Beginners", as a tip of the hat to Kelly Link, but felt that using the term 'magic' excluded scifi and horror).

Hope to see you there.

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