It was a crazy year, wasn't it? Lots of big, important things happening at the global (Obama winning, the Beijing Olympics, the possible start of a new Cold War) and the local (Pacquiao beating Oscar, the Eraserheads reuniting) levels.
It was the craziest year for me too, off the top of my head, the craziest ever. What I do know is that I don't think I can take another year like this. Was it the Chinese who had the saying, May you live in interesting times, which was meant to be both a blessing and a curse? Because that was what 2008 was for me, a blessing and a curse.
It started well enough in January, which I spent on my first vacation in years. Then at the tail-end of my vacation, my mom called me that my grandfather had fallen ill. He died a few weeks later, and that was a difficult time, and I remember crying at the funeral, something I never did, and up to now I'm unable to articulate exactly how I feel about it.
A month later I resigned from GMA, and it was weird, because they'd just announce my promotion, and there really wasn't any good reason to do it on the surface. Of course people there still have their theories, but my reason for leaving is also something I'm still unable to articulate clearly, even to myself.
There was a lot of trepidation going into it, just because it felt like I was letting down a lot of the people that I worked with, so I ended up giving the longest notice (I stayed for two more months after telling my boss I wanted to leave). But midway through my notice period, it was apparent that everything would go on smoothly (well, as smoothly as things went back there) even after I left, so that made it easier. I made a couple of visits afterwards and and it looks like everyone is doing well, and everything was steady, which I figured was a good thing.
I was a hermit for the next few months (no, I don't look like that anymore). There were a couple of offers, but none I was particularly enthusiastic about. I did some consulting work for a bunch of people, including an old friend who offered me a job to leave computers and just do business stuff. It was interesting, but I ended up turning it down because I didn't feel like dealing with the nasty stuff that came with, well, dealing with people.
In September, we had our 10-year high school reunion, which was sort of anti-climactic because we saw each other all the time anyway. It was true for most people from our class, the people who wanted to stay in touch with each other were for the most part in touch with each other. That's a great thing, I think.
I finally accepted a job offer and started back at work in September, almost as a whim, because I was bored and I felt like I needed a change. Also, the company had offices in Makati and Fort Bonifacio, places I'd never worked before, so it was a new environment. Circumstances also made it easy for me to move out of my condo and move into an apartment in Bagtikan in November, closer to work, so there were even more stark changes.
I also finished graduate school this year, officially in October, but I was pretty much done with all schoolwork by August. I graduated earlier than everyone else in my class except for one, and I think I have a pretty good shot of graduating at the top of my class (and delivering the valedictory address next March)--I was university scholar for three straight semesters, the semesters I had enough units to qualify. I don't know how exactly they choose it, and I wouldn't be heartbroken if I wasn't the top graduate, but I really wouldn't mind getting it either.
There were also a bunch of weddings. Oddly enough they all involved M+K. I was back in Boracay for their wedding last October, and they also happened to shoot the other two weddings I attended. Awesome.
So let's see, here's what happened to me this year:
-- had the longest vacation of my adult life -- had my grandfather pass away -- quit my job after three years -- attended the Eraserheads concert (hehe) -- attended our 10-year reunion -- started a new job -- finished graduate school -- moved to a new apartment halfway across the metro -- saw Obama win -- watched pacquiao beat up De la Hoya
Oh and there might have been a girl in there somewhere, sometime this year, but I try not to think about her anymore.
That was my year. How was yours? No resolutions for 2009 for me, I just hope it would be boring. Happy New Year everyone!
I don't know if it flies with people who never got into wrestling (Ebert gave it four stars, but as he mentions, he does watch wrestling), but Mickey Rourke's transformation as Randy "The Ram" Robinson--he not only looks, but sounds like an ex-wrestler from the Hulkamania era--is nothing short of amazing, Marissa Tomei's stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold (isn't that the biggest cliche in indie films) is a joy to watch, and the wrestling scenes are good, but not too good. The tight, handheld camera shots take a bit of getting used to, but they end up working perfectly; you really do feel like you're in the ring with The Ram, and you really feel like you're getting a lap dance from Tomei's Cassidy. Both are very good things.
The plot is simple, and if you haven't been under a rock in, I don't know, the past 25 years, the turns are predictable, but like a good wrestling match, it's often the nuances that make the movie special. My biggest qualm would be The Ram's physique; for a washed-up wrestler, he seems in too good a shape. Seriously, have you seen how those those wrestlers from the '80s look these days?
(No, I don't know why Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, the greatest wrestling barber ever, is dressed up like a gay zebra.)
But back to the movie. The Wrestler reminds me of a 1999 documentary called Beyond the Mat by Barry Blaustein, which followed various promotions, featuring what was then the WWF (with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access), the then-fledgling ECW, and a garage wrestling promotion in Northern California. The documentary also follows closely several wrestlers, each of whom were at different phases of their careers, and most prominently featured Mick Foley (at the height of his rivalry vs. The Rock), hardcore legend Terry Funk, and late '80s/early '90s icon Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
I don't know if Aronofsky or screenwriter Robert Siegel was inspired in any way by Blaustein's documentary, but Randy Robinson's life echoes much of Roberts' plight as portrayed in Beyond the Mat. Like The Ram, Jake was a gifted entertainer, at one time among the most popular wrestlers in the world, with a preternatural gift for connecting with the crowd.
The documentary shows us a washed-up Roberts, like The Ram (and dozens of wrestlers from that era), several years removed from his heyday and plying his trade in pathetic venues with audiences in the low hundreds. Again like the Rourke character, Jake is estranged from his daughter. Now a born-again Christian, Jake expresses a desire to get his daughter back in his life, and the documentary films a tearful reunion between the two. A few hours after their meeting, Roberts disappears from his motel room, and Blaustein narrates that Jake had snuck out to do crack. After their meeting, Jake and his daughter never get in touch again.
The footage shows a stumbling, overweight, rambling Roberts struggling to form a coherent sentence, while addressing the crowd moments before his match in the Firestorm Pro Wrestling league.
But the story behind the scenes is even more tragic. According to several sources, the 53-year-old legend was found passed out backstage moments before he was scheduled to perform. We're told when Snake was woken up, he was aggressive, violent and asking for "an 8-ball."
We're also told nearly two dozen empty airplane bottles of vodka were found by his gear.
During the match, Roberts was clearly unable to perform, barely responding to the barrage of "fake blows" he received from the other wrestler, J.T. Lightning. Around one minute into the match, Roberts' opponent -- clearly frustrated with the situation -- whispers to the ref to end the fight. Afterwards, Lightning grabbed the mic and told Roberts, "I've wrestled drug addicts ... you are a piece of s**t, Snake. You gypped these people. F**k you."
After the verbal assault, Jake pulled down the front of his pants and exposed his penis to the crowd.
But 2008 also marked Nash's stake as the funniest NBA player, like, ever. Things started off promisingly this summer with his Stepbrothers spoof alongside Baron Davis:
Then there was this fall campaign for Vitamin Water featuring Nash in an odd series of videos. The first is a take on his awesome Training Day commercial last year. The worm at the 28-second mark made me laugh out loud:
Next on tap is a photo shoot, with Nash channeling his inner Zoolander. "It's like people say, Hey, don't swim with sharks... but I'm faster than sharks, so it's not a big deal."
Finally, there's Nash visiting the Vitamin Water offices to motivate the staff, and does his best David Brent/Michael Scott. "Excuse me, while I'm here... does anybody need an autograph?"
Off the court, Paul is the prince who guest stars on a NPR's precious weekend game show. On the court, he's the nastiest point guard since Gary Payton's prime, and shouldn't be defended without a tetanus shot.
This all reminds me of that Charles Barkley quote about the NBA's original baby-faced assassin, and the guy to whom Chris Paul is compared by everyone, Isiah Thomas. Thomas was so competitive, Barkley said, that he "would cut your balls off to win."
Just a couple of hours after the last post, Purefoods got eliminated from the ongoing Philippine Cup after laying a big fat egg against, ironically, Air 21. It got so ugly that during a timeout midway through 4th quarter, James Yap got into a shouting match against Purefoods assistant coach Koy Banal, after Banal chewed out Yap for a missed defensive assignment. Yap then threw a towel at Banal, who had to be restrained by the other guys on the bench from going at Yap.
Yeah, it was as bad as it sounds. At that point, the team was down by something like 20 points, and Yap had been carrying the team, scoring I think 28 26 points. After that, Yap went back on the court and basically stopped playing, just jogging up and down, and the rest of the team just played dead.
Now, I never root against any of my favorite teams, and there was no excuse for what Yap did, but I hope this is the last straw against the Purefoods coaching staff. They're the worst offensive team in the league (something that shouldn't happen with Yap and Kerby Raymundo in the lineup), they don't have any offensive structure, their defensive rotations are lousy, the in-game coaching is horrible, and they never seem to execute off timeouts. The body language by the players are terrible, and everyone looks like they'd rather be someplace else.
Meanwhile, the whole coaching staff is just full of it. Head coach Ryan Gregorio is quick to make excuses, while Banal, the team's "defensive coordinator" has been ineffective all conference. In fact, it was odd that Banal started going at Yap for the missed assignment when Raymundo and Peter June Simon were missing assignments all game long, and the defensive gameplan coming into the game was just horrible.
As a Purefoods fan, I've learned how to live with James Yap as my team's MVP. Well, lifelong Purefoods fans have had plenty of practice; for starters, we've spent most of our days not just rooting for the Hotdogs, but the Tender Juicy Hotdogs. They renamed the team, but it hasn't gotten marginally better. The team was renamed the Purefoods Chunkee Giants, to promote the company's corned beef brand, and when it was time to go back to promoting hotdogs, management apparently liked the Giants moniker so much that the team is now known as the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants.
That wasn't the end of it though. We still had to deal with stupid crap about Alvin Patrimonio (usually from the ignorant, unwashed masses), his being an overpaid crybaby, and his offcourt dealings, like his short-lived showbiz career (and even more short-lived affair with Kris Aquino) and insinuations about Nap Gutierrez being his boyfriend.
So yeah, you kinda let all that crap (Kris, Baby James, Hope, the whole K-Pop metrosexual thing) and concentrate on the basketball. And because I do spend an ungodly amount thinking about things like when the Giants' moronic coach Ryan Gregorio will finally be fired (I did a Google search for 'Ryan Gregorio sucks' and found an article that I wrote for Peyups.com four years ago) and wondering whether backup point guard Chico Lanete is mildly retarded (especially after he airballs another fadeaway 3-pointer with 18 seconds left on the shot clock, the 294th of his career).
The first video was a from a game against Red Bull last conference, as James Yap hits a fadeaway jumper from the top of the key with 0.7 seconds to go:
I remember watching this at my old apartment while my housemate Urk was having dinner. Even he let out a yell when Yap hit the shot. And because of the awesomeness of YouTube, here's a fan video of the play:
It's been an infamous year for Yap. He was in the middle of the controversy during the Philippine Cup finals against Sta. Lucia for being suspended for a game in the Finals after smacking Joseph Yeo in the face. Although, to be fair to Yap, wouldn't you like a chance to smack that smug look off Yeo's face too? Purefoods lost the game wherein Yap was suspended, and ultimately lost the series in seven games.
But no, Yap's craziest moment came during a brawl against Talk N Text during the last conference. He wasn't involved in the initial altercation, but he gave a sucker kick to Talk N Text's import Terrence Leather, which led to Leather chasing Yap all over the court:
Good thing he wasn't caught, because Leather was just about ready to take his head off. Leather got ejected, and Yap escaped with a mere technical foul.
It wasn't all bad though, because just recently, Yap had a highlight for the ages during their first game against Air 21 in the current Philippine Cup. Purefoods was down by three with the ball, and Kerby Raymundo had just missed a shot in the dying seconds. So Yap beat Arwind Santos for the offensive rebound, chased the ball to the corner, tiptoed the baseline and the sideline, and launched a turnaround, fadeaway three-pointer from behind the backboard to tie the game.
It's noche buena tonight, but it still doesn't feel exactly like Christmas. Despite all the parties (and the traffic, and the stupid cab drivers in Makati), it hasn't felt like Christmas for me all month long.
I'd been working crazy hours this month (and I'm posting this from the office). I know I said I wouldn't do that anymore with this job, but at the back of my mind, I knew it wouldn't last. It happened at my first job, all those years ago. It happened at GMA. I suspect that it's no coincidence that this keeps happening, like it's written into my DNA or something, that I always end up doing this. After all, there are about ten other managers in the whole company, and none of them end up doing things that require them to work the hours that I work. So yeah, Christmas this year hasn't been Christmas-y at all for me.
I did catch a tiny whiff of Christmas cheer the past couple of days, after giving (and receiving) presents to (and from) my officemates. Since I had no time to go shopping for presents anymore (and my office list is at 60 people), I just figured I'd try ordering home-baked cookies from Macy (the cookies are called Macy's Fields, natch). It was a big order and I'm so glad she came through.
The cookies were a hit with officemates, most of whom ended up eating the cookies right in front of me, which led to the following exchange:
Officemate: "Boss, ang sarap ng cookies."
Me: (deadpans) "Oo naman. Ako nag-bake niyan."
Officemate: (looks at the package) "Ikaw si Macy?"
Me: (to myself) "Shet, dapat tinanggal ko na lang pala yung label."
Also, when I first brought the cookies to the office and they were sitting under my desk, my whole workstation ended up smelling like cookies all day (and it was good, since I ended up staying till 10 in the evening last night). Yum. That would be my whiff of Christmas for the month.
As a lifelong wrestling fan, someone who occasionally spends wastes weekend evenings glued to Raw and Smackdown on JackTV, and who still visits wrestling news sites a couple of times a week, I'd been looking forward to Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler." I've heard so manygoodthings about it, and in the stills for the film, Micky Rourke actually does look like a washed-up wrestler from the '80s:
At our team building activity last week, in the tell-everyone-about-yourself segment, I started talking about High Fidelity (which is, aptly enough, my desert-island top book of all time), and I ended up speaking to a dumbfounded audience. No one there knew anything about the book or even the movie. I guess John Cusack is not so big around these parts.
Then at our company Christmas party, The Camerawalls (Clem Castro's new band) played a cover of The Cure's Just Like Heaven, so I started singing to it. The only problem was, of the 100 or so people watching, I was the only one who seemed to know the song. Not only that, but when some officemates noticed me singing along to it, they were all like, Hey, you know this song? We've never heard of it before. You're such a dork.
Which I am. Really. But still. High Fidelity, really? And Just Like Heaven? Really? What the fuck is this place and how did I get here? Hehehe.
The finals of the Philippine Collegiate Championship between Ateneo and La Salle has been sloppy. La Salle's leading late in the fourth, and if they win, this would be the first time they beat Ateneo this season in five tries. The highlight of the game? Sharon Yu's doing sideline reporting again.
(Tapos wala lang, ipo-post ko lang ulit yung picture niya.)
Bad Left Hook takes a close look at Oscar de la Hoya's career:
When Oscar was 11 fights in, he took on Denmark's Jimmy Bredahl for the WBO junior lightweight title, and he kicked his ass. Two fights later, he got rid of tough Mexican Jorge Paez in two rounds, winning a lightweight title. John Avila, John John Molina, Rafael Ruelas -- they all fell to the young de la Hoya. These were good fighters.
Genaro Hernandez suffered his first loss at the hands of Oscar in 1995, retiring after six rounds. Hernandez's only other career loss came to Money Mayweather, who never lost to anybody he fought. Jesse James Leija was another '95 victim.
When he fought Julio Cesar Chavez in 1996, Chavez was 34 years old and had a history of wars that probably made him feel older. Oscar, perhaps in an attempt to become the new idol of the Mexican fight fans, took him on and destroyed him. It never sat well with a lot of Mexican fans, and neither did their 1998 rematch, when Oscar beat him again.
Between the two Chavez fights, he took the undefeated record of Miguel Angel Gonzalez, beat Hall of Famer Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, dumped David Kamau in two rounds, stomped Hector "Macho" Camacho over 12 rounds, and knocked out Wilfredo Rivera.
This is the period of Oscar's career that most interests me, because these days, you'd almost think he didn't do all of these things. You just read the name of some great fighters. Whitaker made the Hall of Fame in 2007. Chavez will as soon as he hits the ballot. There is real substance to the guys Oscar was beating in the 1990s.
It's easy to forget how invincible Oscar used to be; prior to that dancefest against Trinidad, he was 31-0. I think everyone who ever followed boxing, however, knows that Oscar jumped the shark in the Quartey fight.
(I still remember the fallout from that fight, which happened back during freshman year in college. All my buddies who are into boxing think Quartey got jobbed.)
It’s not strange to disagree about movies that are wildly different, and there are surely a few random movies that are very polarizing. What I find most interesting is which movie people consider the best movie from a particular director, as it is usually very telling and polarizing in a different way, so to this point I will propose a new personality test where you reblog your favorite movie from each of these directors:
1. Joel Coen: No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, etc 2. Wes Anderson: The Darjeeling Limited, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Royal Tennenbaums, Rushmore, Bottle Rocket, etc 3. Hal Ashby: Being There, Shampoo, Harold and Maude, etc 4. Kevin Smith: Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Dogma, Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Clerks, etc 5. Quentin Tarantino: Grindhouse, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, etc.
6. Stanley Kubrick: 2001, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Dr. Strangelove, Lolita, etc. 7. P.T. Anderson: Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia. 8. Errol Morris: The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War, Mr. Death, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, Gates of Heaven, etc.
1. Miller's Crossing 2. The Royal Tenenbaums 3. Shampoo 4. Clerks 5. Reservoir Dogs 6. Dr. Strangelove 7. Punch-Drunk Love 8. Eh?
I'd only seen one Hal Ashby film though (Shampoo).
Was watching the Philippine Collegiate Championship tournament game between Letran and FEU earlier, and I just wanted to share that (former La Salle and current Solar Sports) sideline reporter Sharon Yu totally floats my boat.
Also, Letran won! Up next for the Knights are the big bad Ateneo Blue Eagles (minus Chris Tiu) in the Final Four.
Elizabeth Stamatina Fey started as a writer and performer with a bad short haircut in Chicago improv. Then she retreated backstage at S.N.L., wore a ski hat, and gained weight writing sharp, funny jokes and eating junk food. Then she lost 30 pounds, fixed her hair, put on a pair of hot-teacher glasses, and made her name throwing lightning-bolt zingers on “Weekend Update.” Speeding through the comedy galaxy, she wrote the hit Mean Girls and created her own show based on an S.N.L.-type show: 30 Rock. The comedy struggled in the ratings for two years but was a critical success, winning seven Emmys last fall and catapulting Fey into red-hot territory. Before she even had a chance to take a breath, a freakish twist of fate turned her from red- to white-hot, and enabled her, at long last, to boost the ratings of 30 Rock: Fey was a ringer for another hot-teacher-in-glasses, Sarah Palin, the comely but woefully unprepared Alaska governor, who bounded out of the woods with her own special language to become not only the first Republican woman to run on a national ticket but also God’s gift to comedy and journalism. So where does Fey go from white-hot?
Watching the introduction of Obama's security team on CNN right now. With focus on the new administration's foreign policy, some attention has been showered upon Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian born near the turn of the last century who is said to be one of the president-elect's favorite philosophers. Over the course of the campaign and the election's aftermath, various articles came out detailing the scope of influence that Niebuhr has had on Obama, and how his work has shaped Obama's worldview. Obama himself said:
I take away [from the works of Reinhold Niebuhr] the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away . . . the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard.
While reading up on Niebuhr, I found out that it was he who wrote that beautiful prayer about serenity: "God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."
I've been working on my backlog of the newest season of The Office, which has been awesome so far. I'd just finished the episode Customer Survey, which was directed by the British series co-creator (and all-around genius) Stephen Merchant. The episode contains what has so far been the funniest scene in the season, a scene that you could just imagine David, Tim, and Gareth going through:
There was one other great scene in the episode that rocked the PB&J boat just a little. The shot with Jim reacting to the developments was totally Tim and Dawn.