Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On a break

I'm working on my thesis (it's coming along great, thanks) and I kept the TV on for ambient sound, when an old Friends came on at ETC. It was the episode where Ross and Rachel "took a break." Some thoughts:

-- It was Ross's fault that they had a fight; he was being totally needy, but then again, didn't Rachel know that already when they got together?

-- Rachel was the one who suggested that they take a break. It was their anniversary!

-- The copier chick was really, really, REALLY hot.

-- Ross actually called Rachel up again from the bar, but he heard on the phone that Mark was with Rachel. That was really stupid. How could Rachel let Mark come over?


-- So, his girlfriend broke up with him during their anniversary, then a few moments later she was hanging out with another guy. Can you really blame him for sleeping with that hot copier chick?

-- It was only sheer dumb luck that Ross hooked up with that hot copier chick.


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Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama in Berlin

Watching the Obama speech in Berlin live right now. Damn. I mean, damn.

I've had my misgivings about some of his recent decisions, but this is a hell of a speech. It's brave and it doesn't pander; the tens of thousands of people in Berlin cheer furiously and wave little American flags, and I don't think all of those were American expats. When was the last time this scene happened in Europe?

He doesn't just look like the next President of the United States. He looks like the Leader of the Free World.

UPDATE: The full text of his speech.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here -- what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Make you cry, say goodbye, tell a lie, and hurt you

Whenever there's a "major" artist performing at the Araneta Coliseum, the Araneta Center people do their part in promoting the event by playing the songs of the featured artist outside the venue. This was the reason why, like the Angelus, Quando, Quando, Quando played at 6PM in Cubao during the months leading up to Engelbert Humperdinck's holiday concert last year.

Anyway, this is relevant because this time around, the "major" artist is none other than Rick Astley. This means that for the past few months, everyone going from the MRT at Farmers to the LRT at Gateway (and back) in the afternoon to the early evening got rickroll'd by Araneta Center. In fairness, they don't just stick to one song-- they also play Together Forever and Hold Me in Your Arms. Me, I keep waiting for Carmi Martin to do a production number in her signature tanga.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Straight from the horse's mouth

Galing kay Raymund Marasigan, sa Sandwich/Cambio/Pedicab mailing lists:

dear sandwich, cambio and pedicab listers

yes there will be an eraserheads concert
yes im playing drums
it will be on august 30
i havent met the band
and we havent rehearsed as a group
im thinking that will all happen in august

im sure you have read the blogs and newspapers and whatnot.
a lot of things there are not true.

at the moment
the final venue has not been confirmed.
and the promoters are still dealing with the tickets and crowd control

the promoters promise to answer these questions soon. maybe this
coming week so standby.

there will be no front acts.
it will be a long set.
no theres no talk of an album or tour.

please dont email me privately. ill answer your questions (if theyre
not silly) in the cambio, pedicab sandwich mailing lists.

have a good weekend

rayms marasigan

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


It was hard not to become an even bigger Barack Obama fan after reading his memoir. Sure, everyone knows how the story goes by now, but it was still fascinating to read about the details, not least of which is because he writes so well, balancing his stories and his reflections delicately. It was a thoughtful but not sentimental, articulate but not boring. It also held some treasures for a Filipino reader, not just for the cameos of Filipino neighbors in scenes from his early days in Hawaii. He describes life in rural Indonesia, sleeping under the kulambo, playing with tutubi on a string. He writes about Kenya, a steady procession of second and third cousins, all of whom still count as family, just it does here in the Philippines. They're poor, yes, but they can't help but throw a big banquet for the balikbayan Barack. It's fun to imagine that in a few months' time, this man who's had something similar to a Pinoy life will become President of the United States.

While I was finishing the book, the blogosphere was abuzz with disappointment about Obama's support for the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The controversial provision involved retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who helped the US government spy on phone conversations. It was such a disappointing, disheartening decision by Obama, and it provided such a gulf between the man from the book I was reading and the man in the spotlight.

Fortunately, there was this incisive article from the New Yorker provided a better look at Obama the politician, and how he cut his teeth in the tough world of Chicago politics.

Like many politicians, Obama is paradoxical. He is by nature an incrementalist, yet he has laid out an ambitious first-term agenda (energy independence, universal health care, withdrawal from Iraq). He campaigns on reforming a broken political process, yet he has always played politics by the rules as they exist, not as he would like them to exist. He runs as an outsider, but he has succeeded by mastering the inside game. He is ideologically a man of the left, but at times he has been genuinely deferential to core philosophical insights of the right.

This was, by the way, the article that accompanied the even more controversial cover that featured Obama as a Muslim and his wife an AK47-toting commie. You ought to read the whole thing.

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The Dark Knight was awesome, but you knew that already. Some thoughts (spoiler alert):

- The filmmakers mined the best Batman books for the treatments and the events during the movie. Just like Batman Begins (which borrowed very liberally from Frank Miller's Batman: Year One and Jeph Loeb's Batman: The Long Halloween), this one was inspired by Allan Moore's The Killing Joke (for Joker's pathos) and the Harvey Dent sub-story from The Long Halloween. News program debates about the Batman was reminiscent of the similar arguments in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.

- Loved the focus on Harvey Dent, who had always been Batman's conscience in the mythos (prior to becoming Two-Face). Come to think of it, in the Batman universe, the most well-told origin stories have been those of Batman, Two-Face, and Catwoman. Allan Moore tried telling Joker's origin in The Killing Joke, but it wasn't particularly memorable, because a lot of things happened in that story that provided starker imagery.

- The movie was a little too long. Two-Face, for example, showed up in the last act, and a resolution had to be pigeonholed over the remaining screen time. Why not just save it for the next movie?

- Everyone knew that Maggie Gylenhaal is a much better actress than Katie Holmes, but by God, the difference was so stark. You actually care about Rachel Dawes in this movie.

- Everyone's praising Heath Ledger's performance, but I thought it was just alright. I dunno, I think the creepiness came with the film's treatment of the character.

- I wonder what's next for the franchise. The easiest villain to write into the movies would be Catwoman, as the presence of Selena Kyle would make perfect sense after Rachel Dawes' death. What I'd really like to see though, would be Robin. Robin's origin hasn't really been told all that well, not even in the comics; there hasn't been much of an explanation why Batman would allow a teenager to join him in potentially fatal activities. There have been, however, interesting treatments of the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson* and Batman and Robin**.

* - In the Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon wrote:

It was obvious that Batman was not intended, consciously or unconsciously, to play Robin's corrupter; he was meant to stand in for his father, and by extension for the absent, indifferent, vanishing fathers of comic book-reading boys of America

** - In The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller's Batman got in trouble during combat before being bailed out by the new Robin, which led him into a train of thought about Grayson. Dick, he thought, was always his little monkey wrench. Robin was a natural, human extension of the Batman's array of weapons.

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I remember a conversation with a friend a couple of years ago about Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. She told me that she never got around to finishing the book because it was too British. I always found it odd that she said that, because I didn't think that he was too British; in fact, Hornby'd even denied so during interviews. When talking about influences, he'd always talk about American writer Anne Tyler, and he always shrugged off comparisons to contemporary British writers like Martin Amis. If anything, he said, his voice was closer to that of Martin's father, Kingsley Amis.

Anyway, I bring this up because I just finished reading my first Amis novel, Yellow Dog, and now *that* is a very British novel. I'm not yet familiar with Amis' other work, but this one read like a very British Elmore Leonard, or an early Guy Ritchie film in print, with Amis' stylized prose subbing in for the visual flourish of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. It's not always a good thing; it wasn't the easiest book to read, British-ness aside, but it did tie things together neatly in the end.

Speaking of Brits, I caught this very funny interview of Russell Brand on Conan the other night. I hadn't seen any of Brand's films, but I heard he was such a phenomenon in the UK. I had seen him on Leno, and I thought that he looked so flamboyantly gay. Then I saw him on TMZ, which highlighted his womanizing; ang tulis pala ni Russell Brand. It reminds me of that old SNL skit about former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "He's not gay... he's just English!"

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Greatest Pinoy band

Naalala ko lang, dun sa comments section ng article ni Ricky Lo sa Star tungkol sa Eraserheads reunion, merong mga nag-take-issue sa statement sa write-up na "greatest Pinoy band" ang Eraserheads. Merong mga nag-bring up ng mga bandang Juan de la Cruz at The Dawn. Kahit Eraserheads fan ako, fair enough yung discussion, di ba?

Tapos a few comments later, still on the topic of greatest Pinoy bands, biglang may humirit na, "Also, Bamboo should be considered." Tapos humirit pa yung commenter na sobrang ganda ng fusion ng jazz at soul ng Bamboo, at kahit yung covers nila ng "Tatsulok", "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", at "Beep Beep" magaganda.

Naisip ko, taena, kung merong ahensiya na pwedeng i-revoke ang karapatan mag-comment sa Internet, dapat na-ban na yung commenter na yun.

Bamboo ampotah.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Agent Zero

Gilbert Arenas just got back from his trip around the world and blogged about it. The title of his post-- Everybody should visit Manila:

You have to look at the Agent Zero posters they had out there. They put me in a cape at one of my last events in Manila. It was at one of their biggest malls and they were predicting it was going to be crowded. I mean, crowded to me is a Saturday afternoon at the mall where you have to wait in line for 10 minutes to pay for your jeans. Their crowded was probably four or five thousand people in the mall. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve seen crazy fans all over the world. It was like Golden State against the Dallas Mavericks with Game 3 back in Oakland. It was that type of atmosphere in the mall.

I was stunned.

They made me feel like an NBA star.

Any NBA players out there: If you’re having a bad day, or you’re having a bad career, go to Manila. They’ll bring your spirits up, trust me.

Tons of the usual Gil craziness there too. Wasn't able to catch but I did see him on TV during the Ateneo-La Salle game. I love his Hibachi shoes. Sana magkapera ako para makabili.

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Over lunch sa Shakey's kanina, kasama ni Tseri at Jam, pinag-usapan namin yung concert ng Lifehouse, dahil big fan si Tseri. Last week, actually, tinext ako ni Tseri kung gusto kong sumamang manood, so kine-kwento ko kay Jam yung mga gusto ko sanang i-text kay Tseri para sabihin na ayoko:

"Lifehouse? 'Di ba sila yung kumanta ng Lost in Space? Lifehouse Family, tama!"

"Sorry Tseri. The Calling ako eh."

(Pwede ring Vertical Horizon. O Nickelback. O Sam Milby.)

Pero isipin mo, ano ba yung pagkakaiba ng:

I'm falling even more in love with you, I'm letting go of all I've held on to...


If I could, then I would, I'll go wherever you will go...

O kaya sa:

Never gonna give you up, let you down, run around, desert you...

Dapat pala tinext ko kay Tseri, "Sorry, Rick Astley ako eh."

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Books I bought over the past month

(From Fully Booked at Gateway)
-- The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon
-- Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama
-- Freakonomics, Stephen Levitt and Steven Dubner
-- Blink, Malcolm Gladwell

(From Books 4 Less at Pearl Drive)

-- The Big Love, Sarah Dunn

-- 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, Suze Orman

-- The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe
I got a paperback copy for 99 bucks. I don't know if I'll end up reading it, but I'd heard great things about it especially from Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker.

-- The Amateur Marriage, Anne Tyler
I haven't read any Anne Tyler yet, but Nick Hornby keeps selling her in his interviews, so when I saw this, I got it.

-- The Confessions of Max Tivoli, Andrew Sean Greer
The book has a unique pretext, a man who lived his life in reverse, but what really got me was the opening line from the book: We are each the love of someone's life. Now that's a hook. Don't you want to read what happens next?

Books I read over the past month

-- Possession, AS Byatt
This was a long book that just came chugging along. It was about a pair of young university researchers who uncover a love affair between their Victorian-era subjects. It can be a breeze to read if you're the type who enjoys reading Ambeth Ocampo (I do) or who loves i-Witness documentaries about the secret lives of our national heroes (ditto). The love story the researchers discover unfolds like a telenovela (mala-A Love Story ni Aga at Maricel actually yung dating nung kwento), and the researchers conveniently fall in love in the end. It's interesting to note that AS Byatt was the same author who railed against Harry Potter books a couple of years ago.

-- Freakonomics, Stephen Levitt and Steven Dubner
-- Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
These were alright, but I enjoyed Gladwell's The Tipping Point better than either book.

-- Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama

-- The Big Love, Sarah Dunn
I got suckered into buying this chick lit book because of the setup: a couple throws a dinner party, the guy goes out for mustard, and calls the girl from a payphone to tell her that he's in love with someone else and is not coming back (and to not wait for the mustard). It was an effortless, mindless read, with a sprinkle of chuckles here in there (although it got too cute in parts). It's a welcome respite after the last several books.

-- 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, Suze Orman
I'm a huge Suze Orman fan. I try to catch her show on weekends just for the "Can I Afford It?" segment. Tapos mag-chi-cheer ako if Suze approves. Para akong timang.

My Reading Queue (in no particular order)
-- Yellow Dog, Martin Amis
-- The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon
-- No One Writes to the Colonel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
-- The Confessions of Max Tivoli, Andrew Sean Greer
-- The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe
-- The Amateur Marriage, Anne Tyler
-- A Wild Sheep Chase, Haruki Murakami
-- Beloved, Toni Morrison
-- The Hours, Michael Cunningham
-- A Battler's Laissez-Faire, PL Wombwell
-- Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
-- Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
-- The Gift, Vladimir Nabokov
-- Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

I've had some of these books for a couple of years now, pero bili pa rin ako ng bili :p


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Baby you can bet your pwet they'll do it again, sometime for the money...

It's on.

Ang daming tsismis na kumalat last week. Looking back, kahit si Raymund was dropping hints sa Sandwich mailing list, in an email last July 10:

hey kids

i hope everybody is doing fine. thank you very much for voting. we
really appreciate it.
weve been very busy gigging with all our bands these days. tonight
sandwich will be in uplb. i love playing uplb and i miss playing
there. its been quite a while since sandwich has been back there.
last night we had a photoshoot for myx mag. so please watch out for
the next issue. well be the cover if im not mistaken.

one of you sent me an elcid track but i accidentally erased the
address but i got to download the song . nice work, i like the chorus,
good song, keep it up.

im excited to start work on a few projects in the coming weeks. once
again robin rivera called for me to play drums on a couple of tracks
for a dong abay project. our good friends buddy zabala and sancho are
also on board. cant wait to record with them soon.

im also working withb duster as they get ready to record their album.
i dropped by shinji's studio around midnight last night to talk about
recording skeds.

tomorrow we launch the pedicab album in cubao x. please come. we will
rock it even when it rains.

right about now i better start playing drums again.

later oscillator


Yun na pala yun. Bukas, bibili na ako ng bagong Chucks. Sira na kasi yung luma ko.

UPDATE: The story from PEP/GMA News.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

El Bimbo

Nag-post si Sancho sa Eraserheads mailing list:
There's a new version of "Ang Huling El Bimbo" performed by Ely Buendia, backed by FILharmoniKa, an orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga. It will be premiered this afternoon in Jam 88.3. I think RJ will play it tomorrow afternoon also. NU 107 will (hopefully) play this starting Monday or Tuesday.

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Monday, July 07, 2008


I don't follow tennis as much as I used to, but I did end up staying up until 4 in the morning to finish the epic Nadal-Federer match. I remember staying late last year to watch their match-up as well. I'm a Nadal guy, mostly because I don't find Federer particularly interesting. He is an awesome tennis player though, and his enormous talent is best appreciated when a pretender like Nadal goes after his throne. Last year's final was heartbreaking for Nadal, and it looked like it was going to go the same way in this year's match. Nadal had Federer on the ropes a bunch of times, but it seemed like everytime he was in trouble, Federer would come up with a big play to turn back Nadal. It felt somehow incredible when Nadal finally won.

Which reminds me of a conversation with a former colleague a couple of years ago. I had noticed a magazine on her desk featuring the two stars, and I asked her whom she was for, Federer or Nadal. And she answered, "Both." Which drove me crazy. How can she say both? You can't say both. I mean, you have to pick a side, right?

So how about you, Federer or Nadal? And don't say both.

(At the very least, you oughta be rooting against Federer because of that stupid post-match outfit.)

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Winning Maroons

Nice 86-72 win by the UP Fighting Maroons over the NU Bulldogs. With the opening day victory under new head coach Aboy Castro, the team already eclipsed last year's 0-14 record.

Some notes:

-- The frontcourt rotation isn't nearly as bad as everyone expected. It's still nowhere near the level of the elite teams, but it's been adequate so far. The line's still undersized, but it's very skilled and surprisingly deep, and the starting center Magi Sison looks like he'll be a PBA player down the line. I don't know if they'll still be adequate against the berret teams, but of the whole league, I think only Ateneo has the size to punish our big guys in the paint. We'll see.

-- The full-court trap was surprisingly effective because the backcourt was surprisingly quick and athletic. The announcers never mentioned this, but Paul Sorongon was perfect as the disruptive, long, and pesky guard at the top of the trap.

-- Pleased with the development of Martin Reyes. He's got enough size to play the 3-spot, and he can shoot over smaller guards. If he can shoot well enough over the course of the season, he'll be the team's most important scorer.

-- On the other hand, its sad to see that Migs de Asis' game has atrophied. He used to be better than Reyes, but lack of size and athleticism looks like it has rendered him ineffective. He can still be a deadly shooter off the bench playing spot minutes, but that's about it for him.

-- Mark Lopez has good length and athleticism, and he can play multiple positions. I can't help but feel like he should be much, much better than he actually is. He looks like a star. Hopefully he'll play like one too.

-- UP didn't even shoot that well from the outside but still won going away. The defense was excellent though, forcing lots of turnovers that led to easy baskets.

-- UP's new courtside reporter is former child star Patricia Ann Roque.

-- It's cool to see UP assistant coach Jerry Codinera wearing maroon.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008


There was a rumor a couple of days ago on the Eraserheads mailing list that, as part of the UP Centennial celebration, the top brass of the university are reaching out to Ely, Marcus, Buddy and Raimund to do a reunion show. Already, some fans have run away with the idea, citing appearances by Marcus, Buddy, and Raimund on Jessica Soho, as well a series of shows Down Under by Ely Buendia (without Pupil) singing mostly Heads material.

It's probably nothing; Buddy and Raimund had always been accessible to the media, while Marcus is promoting his new record. Meanwhile, the Ely gigs in Australia probably paid really well--well enough that he couldn't say no to demands that he play only Heads songs. If that were the case, it would make sense that he came over alone without Pupil.

Still, it'd be really, really nice if the band got together again for the UP Centennial. I haven't felt like I'm part of any of the centennial celebrations (and I'm actually enrolled in UP for graduate school now), and a Heads reunion concert would bring people like me into the fold, as the group just had an inordinate amount of influence on everyone who went to UP in the mid- to late-90s. A big homecoming for the centennial would be really nice, and bringing the Eraserheads back would be the time machine that took everyone back.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Nick Hornby posted an excerpt of a speech by Robert F. Kennedy before his presidential campaign was tragically cut short by his assassination.

"Our gross national product, now, is over eight hundred billion dollars a year, but the GNP - if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead….and the television programmes which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage…it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

Does that fierce rhetoric, and the pride it inspires, remind you of anyone? Bobby is the spiritual precursor to our favorite hopemonger. This might be why there was so much flak a few months ago when Hillary Clinton brought up RFK's asssassination during the heated primary campaigns.

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