Friday, August 29, 2008

4 Years Ago

Barack Obama will be accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination tonight/this morning in front of a mammoth crowd of 75,000. It's as good as time as any to watch his keynote address from the DNC 4 years ago, The Speech that turned him into an instant superstar:

Here's part 1:

Part 2 (watch the reaction of the audience):

And here's the instant reaction from the pundits who were just mesmerized:

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

In pictures




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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Just watched amazing Michelle Obama's speech live tonight/this morning. It was just as good as Barack Obama's speech four years ago, and you should watch it if you get the chance. It was intelligent and emotional and moving, and it struck all the right chords. A lot of people at the Democratic National Convention in Denver were in tears. It got really, really dusty here in my living room too.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

The band is back together

Well my lola, she told me, well she told me not to smoke
Well my lolo, he told me, well he told me not to smoke... dope
So I, I promised to myself, I will never never smoke... Hope

-- Eraserheads, "Honky Toinks Granny"

Just got word that the Eraserheads concert is pushing through after reports that it was going to be cancelled, after the cigarette company that was organizing/sponsoring the reunion backed out (apparently because of legal issues). I had refrained from writing about the issue prior to this because there was nothing confirmed, and the whole charade really annoyed me. Anyway, I had been hoping for this scenario to happen for the longest time. Some thoughts:

#1 - It was illegal

You can probably find a better summary for this if you went Googling around the internets, but basically, there's a law that went into effect last July prohibiting tobacco companies from becoming sponsors for things like, you know, Eraserheads reunion concerts. So anyway, there was a release from the tobacco company that this wasn't technically sponsorship, since the firm was organizing the event itself, and that it was an invitation-only private event that wasn't open to the general public. Of course, this private event just happened to include about 35,000 people and the organizers just happened to leak the details to Ricky Lo, who's only the influential Entertainment Editor of the Philippine Star. Way to keep the event private.

(Totally random Ricky Lo story: a few months ago, when I was still a productive member of society, I was having a late dinnner alone at World Topps in Timog, and the place was empty. A few minutes later, a noisy group of about ten people walked in, and I recognized the entertainment editor as the leader of the bunch. The group included a bunch of middle-aged gay guys and young boys in their late teens/early twenties. Who knew Ricky Lo walked around with such a huge posse? It cracked me up, but I just ate my dinner quietly and didn't make eye contact. I didn't want to be the guy who got beat up by Ricky Lo's entourage. But I digress.)

Anyway, my point is, it was a brazen move for the tobacco company, and I, for one, just don't appreciate being lied to. I already do that for myself, all the time, thank you very much.

#2 - It was dumb

Can you imagine how this thing went down inside the marketing department of the big tobacco company?

Marketing Head: "Ok guys, we need new ideas for promoting our little candies of death now that we can't do any advertising anymore. I need ideas people! [Name of marketing guy #1]! Give me something?"

Marketing Guy #1 (still hungover from the previous night's drinking session, just throwing shit out to get his boss off his back): "Uhm, how about... an Eraserheads reunion concert?"

Marketing Head: "The Eraserheads?"

Marketing Guy #2: "Well, it's gonna create a really big buzz. They're, like, the Beatles of the Philippines."

Marketing Head: "Wow, The Beatles. I love the Beatles. I always thought Paul was cute."

Marketing Guy #1: "We can make everyone register for the concert. Grow our list of smokers."

Marketing Guy #2: "Plus, the media and the blogs will be all over this. We can do some viral marketing to promote the event."

Marketing Head: "Blogs. I like blogs. Guy, let's make this happen."

Marketing Guy #2: "Just a slight problem. The guys really hate each other. Well, Ely and Raymund"

Marketing Head: "I don't care guys. Make it so."

The members of the band were reportedly getting eight-figures for the gig. Each. Everyone assumes it's Php10 million, but I've heard rumors (from people who are close to people who are close to the band) that the figure was closer to Php20 million. Either way, it's enough money to salve old wounds for the band members.

Is it worth it? For this discussion, let's peg the total cost for the tobacco company at Php50 million. They're paying for two things, basically: the buzz from blogs and other non-traditional media (and some traditional media as well), and the growth of their smokers' list. Let's say they split it halfway for each, Php25 million for the buzz and Php25 million for the list.

Is Php25 million worth it for the blogger and the Ricky Lo buzz? Abe Olandres thinks so, but then, Abe gets excited whenever a big company starts doing Internet campaigns.

I can't go into much detail about the figures, but I used to work for one of the biggest online publishing firms in the country, so you just have to take my word for it. Php25 million is right near the sales target for one quarter for a big news publishing site. Now, go look at your favorite Filipino Internet news/showbiz site. Count the number of paying ads (you can disregard house ads). Your Php25 million could buy you placement for all those ads. Everyday. For three straight months.

Now what about the list? Say, they're looking at 35,000 people attending the concert, but they're probably more optimistic about the list growing much bigger. The only problem was, they made it so hard to register that it's going to be impossible for them to get to the figure. Again, you're going to have to take my word for it here, but I've had experience maintaining a registration system that required the user to jump through hoops to register. It was ugly. 35,000 just wasn't going to happen. I bet the smokers list would be lucky to get 10,000 people had they gone through with the concert idea.

Php25 million for 10,000 people would make cost them Php25,000 per person. For that amount of money, they might as well just ask their promo girls to give handjobs to male listers during bar tours. It'd be much more memorable, and it'd be just as illegal as an Eraserheads concert.

They'll probably spin this as a problem with the government, but the truth is, it just doesn't make economic sense for the tobacco company to do this.

#3 - It was a lightning rod for douchebags

Journalist (and Manila correspondent to the New York Times) Caloy Conde, bless his heart, has been all over the Internet advocating the evils of big tobacco and railing against the concert. The only problem was, he was being a total douchebag about it:

Now that the government itself has warned Philip Morris International for possible violation of the law for being behind the Eraserheads reunion concert on Aug. 30, I am tempted to gloat and tell those who crucified me and mocked me (in the comment section here and elsewhere and in various blogs and in the Eraserhead mailing list) to go f**k themselves.

Awesome. You stay classy, Caloy.

#4 - It was annoying

Now, my problem about the tobacco-sponsored concert wasn't a moral one; after all, you're probably going to die anyway. I do agree that yes, the government needs a better job to curb underage smoking in this country, and yes, I believe that smoking causes cancer.

But you wanna know why countries in the European Union and in Japan have taken radical steps to ban cigarettes? It's plain economics. More smoking leads to more cancer, which leads to higher medical bills. For countries with socialized, comprehensive healthcare plans, this amounts to billions of dollars of additional healthcare expenses for the government. Those countries have to prevent their kids from smoking because it's gonna hit them in the pocket.

Here in the Philippines, where socialized healthcare is a joke, it's not going to cost the government a centavo if you get cancer twenty years from now, so there's really not much incentive for them to stop you from smoking now (or from making lots of babies, for that matter). So the question is, why don't we have socialized healthcare?

But that's beside the point. The real problem with the tobacco-sponsored reunion was that it was really, really hard to get tickets that way. Everyone I knew would just rather pay for the goddamn things. Everyone who grew up during the E-heads heydey are pretty much yuppies now. We blow our money watching crappy bands like Lifehouse and Panic at the Disco. So why not the Eraserheads then? We can afford it, really.

But it all worked out for the best. In the Sandwich mailing list, Raymund Marasigan confirmed that the concert is pushing through, and it seems like all the members are in good terms. Perfect! See you all next week.

UPDATE: PEP reports that tickets are going to go at Php1,500 a pop.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Joe Biden

I was rooting for Obama to pick Biden when the shortlist for his VP picks came out (prior to that, I was hoping he'd pick New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who'd been a congressman, an ambassador to the United Nations, and Bill Clinton's Energy secretary, but Richardson wasn't on the list). During the early part of the Democratic primaries, Biden drew heat for some statements he made about Barack Obama, but he also made one of the funniest cracks during the campaign about Rudy Giuliani: "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, and a verb and 9/11."

Anyway, Biden's profile is inspiring, a foreign policy expert as well as a career politician who has remained one of the poorest members of the United States Senate. Then there's the heart-rending tragedy that befell him soon after he won his first term in the Senate:

In 1972, Biden's wife and baby daughter were killed in a car accident. His two young sons were hospitalized with serious injuries. The accident happened a week before Christmas and six weeks after Biden had been elected one of the youngest U.S. senators ever.

One of his sons, Beau Biden, now 38, the attorney general of Delaware and the father of two children himself, recalls that his father said at the time: "Delaware can get another senator, but my boys can't get another dad."

"Those weren't just words," he added. "He lived them."

Beau Biden remembers that his father stayed constantly at the hospital with him and his brother. The boys recovered, and Biden's sister, Valerie, moved in to help care for them.

Biden wrote in his memoir that he told the then-Senate majority leader, Mike Mansfield, that he wouldn't become a senator, but Mansfield persuaded him to give it at least a six-month try.

He began a daily commute by train — 80 minutes each way between Wilmington and Washington — rushing to get home in time for dinner, or at least dessert, and to tuck his children in at night and be there when they woke up. His son said that Biden put his children first, making sure he got to ball games and other important events.

Biden has never had a home in Washington. He's always made the commute.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama's Veep

It's soo not who you think it's gonna be.

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Friday, August 22, 2008


I thoroughly enjoyed this piece from the New York Times Magazine about Barack Obama's economic plan. Apart from providing a nuanced, in-depth look at the plan, it also goes into detail about historic economic policies by previous Democratic administrations (Clinton's in particular), and the solutions the plan offers in today's context. Surprisingly readable, if you're into this kind of thing.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Of course, after breaking Mark Spitz's Olympic medal record, this SI cover had to happen. This is sort of like Jordan doing Dr. J's signature dunk from the free throw line.

Two things though:

1. Chains on the medals look a hell of a lot cooler than those stupid ribbons.

2. Phelps may have won one more medal, but he's still got nothing on Spitz's pornstache.

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Monday, August 18, 2008


As Chuck Klosterman wrote in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, nerds owe everything about their love lives to Woody Allen, even if Woody Allen's work isn't even familiar to people nowadays:

Woody Allen changed everything. Woody Allen made it acceptable for beautiful women to sleep with nerdy, bespectacled goofballs; all we need to do is fabricate the illusion of intellectual humor, and we somehow have a chance. The irony is that many of the women most susceptible to this scam haven't even seen any of Woody's movies, nor would they want to touch the actual Woody Allen if they ever had the chance (especially since he's proven to be an über-pervy clarinet freak). If asked, most of these foxy ladies wouldn't classify Woody Allen as sexy, or handsome, or even likable. But this is how media devolution works: It creates an archetype that eventually dwarfs its origin. By now, the "Woody Allen Personality Type" has far greater cultural importance than the man himself.

I myself am not that familiar with Woody Allen's ouevre, although I'm a fan of his writing (my favorite is a story called The Intellectual Whore of Mensa. I'd seen some of his latest work (most of them were mediocre, except for Match Point), and I'm sure it's true for most people reading this. Fortunately, the AV Club has an extensive primer for the Woody Allen newbie, discussing the director's work, what to watch, and what to skip. Annie Hall, for which Allen won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, was the movie that created the archetype Klosterman describes above:

The breadth of Annie Hall's influence can't be overstated. It's the birth of a modern-day American romantic comedy, where relationships are forged via banter-filled walk-and-talks and the male lead's idea of courtship is an extended stand-up routine. Annie Hall is to romantic comedies as Halloween is to slasher films—a great achievement that spawned a lot of bad movies.

The latest Woody Allen film, Vicky Christina Barcelona is getting a buzz because of a love scene between film stars Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz. Curiously, the film has gotten the best reviews for a Woody Allen in a while.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

More boys

Sometime last year a friend of my turned me in to "My Boys", a small sitcom on TBS. It wasn't really my type of show, but the show was well-written and there were some pretty good chuckles in every episode that by the time the first season's cliffhanger rolled around, I was totally hooked. But then the writer's strike came, and while I loved the show, I didn't think it was going to be picked up for a second season. It was sad, because apart from The Office, it was the only show that I looked forward to with any regularity.

Anyway, a couple of months ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see the show's star, Jordana Spiro (whom you might remember as the ditzy blonde from Must Love Dogs) appeared on Conan to plug the new season of the show. The second season was even funnier, and the storytelling was great, with some really interesting twists and turns. And then all of a sudden, it was the season finale. The second season only lasted 9 episodes.

I don't know what TBS's plan is; during the first season, they originally showed 13 episodes first before showing 9 more episodes later in the season, so no one really knows if the season has ended, and if it has, if it will be picked up for a third one. I hope it does. I remember reading a review that said that if it had aired on a bigger network like CBS, it'd be as big of a hit as CBS's How I Met Your Mother (and I agree). Here's hoping PJ and the boys will be back in September (or whenever).

Speaking of obscure TV shows, I just got my hands on a copy of Spaced, the TV show that launched Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright into UK television stardom. I haven't watched it yet, but I'm pretty sure it's gonna be good; in fact, for the DVD launch in the US, they were able to get guys like Quentin Tarantino, Diablo Cody, Patton Oswalt and Bill Hader to do DVD commentary.

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Pop teams

I'm, like, the biggest Purefoods fan, but even I'm surprised about the results of this survey from the Social Weather Station: Purefoods and Ginebra tie as most popular in PBA.

According to the article, while Ginebra is still the most popular team in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, Purefoods is way ahead in the Visayas and in Mindanao.

A lot of it might be because Purefoods' top gun, James Yap, is from Escalante, Negros Occidental, and played high school ball in Iloilo, but two other key players on the team are hardcourt legends from their early days in the south as well. Starting point guard Roger Yap was a star in the tough Cebuano commercial basketball before his "Samboy Lim 2000" days with Shark in the PBL, while Peter June Simon was Davao basketball's favorite son, starring for the University of Mindanao before becoming the top gun for the Davao Eagles in the MBA, winning Discovery of the Year honors during his rookie season.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008


My big exam, the final comprehensive exam for my graduate school degree, is on in a few hours and I still can't sleep. I had thought of using Sleepasil, but then I was afraid of oversleeping so I didn't. I'm pretty confident about the exam actually, but I don't know how I'll hold up with the lack of sleep. I'll try to take a nap later.

Anyway, interesting story: I only use my GMail ( account for email, because I find it unwieldy to use multiple accounts, although I do own the Yahoo ( account. I check the Yahoo account very, very infrequently and earlier tonight, I decided to check into it (after something like a year, I think) to look for a message. While I didn't find the message I was looking for, I came across a very interesting email dated May 15. It was an offer for me to blog about sports, basketball in particular, for the website of one of the most popular men's magazines in the country.

D'oh, sayang! It would have been a cool forum, especially since I've been watching a lot of basketball these days. I did email the guy back, and hopefully the offer's still good; I checked their sports blog, and there aren't even posts about the UAAP or the NCAA or even the PBA Finals, and my head is swimming with (mostly useless) thoughts about these things, and I'm trying not to write about these in this blog because some people are already complaining about it as it is. Seriously, at this point I can write 3,000 words about RJ "So Cool" Jazul of the Letran Knights, whom most of you probably have never heard of.

Which reminds me, I was talking to Ellen last night on GTalk, while she was on a layover in Dubai from her flight home from Bratislava, and she was complaining that all I ever wrote about were books or sports. I would have countered that I also wrote about music too, but she was getting at the fact that I never wrote about my personal life anymore. Actually, I was telling her about this one girl (it was a long conversation), but then I realized she didn't know anything about this girl because I never wrote about that kind of thing anymore. Which is a good thing, actually, because I really shouldn't be sharing too much, really. But then we started making plans to get together for dinner just so we could catch up more (and so she could interrogate me about this), and she mentioned that we'd have to do this a couple of weeks from now since she'd be spending time home in La Union. And then, as a joke, the idea of getting together in Baguio (which is only an hour and a half away from La Union) came up, and even though my friends and I have plans to go up there at the end of September, the thought of randomly having dinner at Cafe by the Ruins next week sounded really, really good.

I should get some sleep now.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008


I'm still having trouble sleeping. I've been glued to the television for most of the evening (and most of the morning too). Earlier, I was switching from the Air 21 massacre of Ginebra in the PBA Finals, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and Dalja's Spring (heh). The Olympics program was great, and the lighting of the torch was particularly awesome, but I missed Team Philippines on the oval because I was channel-surfing, and the nations came out in Mandarin alphabetical order, and Solar cut in and out of the program really awkwardly (both on CS/RPN and on Solar Sports). It was also odd that they used the Australian feed for the broadcast, when the American NBC feed would probably have been better. I mean, the announcer didn't even know who Manu Ginobili or Dirk Nowitzki was.

There was bad news elsewhere in the world this evening, with Georgia and Russia moving closer to war. I hope they both stand down. Guess 08-08-08 isn't such a lucky day after all.

Just a few moments ago I was watching a re-run of a pre-Olympic friendly between defending Olympic basketball champions Argentina and Asian champions Iran. It was interesting because while Iran lost, they weren't completely overmatched. In fact, it wasn't until late in the third quarter until Argentina finally put them away. Granted, Argentina was probably taking it easy since the game wasn't very meaningful, but still, Iran looked like they belonged in the same court as the Olympic champions who started five NBA players. It's significant because we beat Iran in the Jones Cup last year (and narrowly lost to them in the Fiba-Asia championships because of a controversial call).

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

It's 6 in the morning and I couldn't sleep

And I have nothing better to do, actually. I finished the first draft of my thesis (technically, it's the final report for the special project) last week, I'm almost done with my review for the final comprehensive exam for the course this Sunday (wish me luck!), and I've completed all of my recent projects. For the past half hour or so I've been sending out emails (for lack of anything else to do). First I was sending relevant ones (emails to my thesis adviser, status updates and requests for project contacts, etc.) and then I just started randomly composing messages to people; I figured everyone loves getting email, right? So if you got a message from me that's totally out of the blue and completely random... sorry about that.

I also don't have anything interesting to blog about. I've been watching a ton of basketball, and when there's no hoops on, every channel on my TV has the Jonas Brothers on-- the Teen Choice Awards, Ellen, Jay Leno, etc. What's up with that? I don't get it at all.

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