Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Certain Now That I Am

Okay, weather’s awfully hot again. Meh. Pretty average week so far. August is done already! Here come the “ber” months. Part of me wants the year to be over, but well, what that means is I really wanna just regroup, relax, and just stop for a bit and re-examine my life. But, oh, I’ve no reason to complain, really. Things could be better, and I don’t have all the things I desire, but I’m very happy with what I have. I won’t bore you with details. At least for now. ;)

Anyway! Some nice things and people I’ve been getting kicks out of lately:

Chris Carrabba
I wasn’t really a Dashboard Confessional fan; I’m not familiar with other so-called “emo” bands. I thought their cover of REM’s “Nightswimming” was just okay. But I really like the 2004 song “Vindicated” and their new one, “Don’t Wait.” I dunno. His high, whiny and rough voice in those songs agrees with me. Acquired taste, I suppose; for me it sounds like a higher pitched, squeaky sounding Robert Smith. He knows how to play with words (I’m assuming he wrote the lyrics), judging from those two songs. I was a little surprised when I saw the vocalist in the “Don’t Wait” video, because I kinda expected someone scruffy, scrawny and scary. But no, the guy looks like a clean-cut skater boy, as evidenced by the picture above (from Yahoo Music). Huh.

Update: I just bought the new Dashboard CD--Dusk and Summer--and I love it. Oh, by the way, Carrabba isn't scrawny, but he is thin. Still, he's not skeletal or emaciated, like I thought he would be.

Monster House
Watched this last night with John. It’s a pre-Halloween treat. Cute, exciting and dark. It would’ve worked as a live-action, effects-heavy movie too. Watch it with your kids when it opens!

Saw the band’s latest music vid. Vocalist Amy Lee is very pretty and has a powerful voice. Her dark hair and hypnotic eyes make her look like a siren or a vampire, or any of those mythical creatures disguised as beautiful women. Good to see that she and the band are doing new stuff. I need to listen to their old stuff too, except maybe that old overplayed “Bring Me Back to Life” song.

Benedict was in the area last Sunday and dropped off a box of comics (and woke me up!). It had old issues of mostly ‘90s stuff, like the Joe Kelly-written Deadpool run, obscure hero titles Slapstick and Slingers, some Heroes for Hire, and Werewolf by Paul Jenkins. I wonder where writer Joseph C. Harris is now; the thirteen issues of Slingers had potential and was occasionally fun. Some of its teen characters have re-appeared recently, like Ricochet (in Runaways and 198 Files… he wasn’t depowered!) and Prodigy (he was apprehended by government super-enforcer Iron Man in Civil War: Front Line). I hope they appear monthly again and become part of the Young Avengers, or something.

Shoreh Aghdashloo
Miss Aghdashloo (left, from Yahoo TV) was in 24 as a terrorist housewife, in The Lake House as a doctor, in X-Men 3 as a scientist, and in American Dreamz as a sweet and wealthy lady. She speaks the same way, with the same exotic accent, but she sounds wise every time. I have to see her in the movie where she got nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar, House of Sand and Fog. She's awesome (and I like saying her name). Hope she appears in more high-profile projects soon.

Civil War Tie-ins
Bendis was good in the last two self-contained New Avengers issues (the ones focusing on Luke Cage and Spider-Woman). More issues like these, please. Heroes for Hire #1 was okay (Interesting roster and concept but I’m just not into the art); so were the first two Civil War: X-Men issues (the art is good, but I wish the pace would pick up soon). X-Factor and She-Hulk give broader perspectives of the war, too. I’m glad the company-wide event is re-using old and underutilized characters, and that the company’s hero landscape is now radically changed, thanks to the controversial registration law.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Pop Goes the Gum

I rarely go to music stores these days. But I dropped by a nearby Odyssey and discovered that Jewel has a new album. Judging from the simple, un-sexy CD cover, “Goodbye Alice in Wonderland” looks like she’s back to her folk music roots. I still have to listen to it to be sure. But nah, she’s not wearing anything form-fitting like last time, when she went for a sexier, more glammed-up, bubblegum-y pop image and sound. I didn’t buy that CD; I only know two songs from that (they had those videos where she got, er, wet and near-nekkid), so I really don’t know how much of a departure this new album is. Still, she’s talented. I liked her songs back in the ‘90s, especially her singles “Near You Always,” “Foolish Games,” and “Life Uncommon.” But gah, the CD is P 450-something. Forgot that they actually cost that way, because I haven’t bought anything recently, except for the P 250-Color It Red CD.

Also saw Regina Spektor’s CD, her debut album, I think. I wanna listen to that; saw her perform in Conan and she sounded like a happy Tori Amos crossed with a happy Fiona Apple. I looked around for a bit and saw Jamie Cullum’s new album, and Wilson Phillips’ Greatest Hits collection. Wanna get them eventually, but maybe I’ll wait ‘til they go on sale.


Finally called up author and activist Danton Remoto a few nights ago. I was surprised, because he was very funny and pretty open about his life and other matters. He told me he felt at ease with me because he knows that I wouldn’t really mind, judging from things I’ve written. He also talked about his time as Inquirer editor back in the ‘90s, Ang Ladlad’s plans, and the Isagani (A.) Cruz controversy. He’s glad that a lot of people have been sending separate angry letters to PDI, instead of just a unified, consensus-like letter that represents different groups. He hopes that people will keep it up.

I agree. Keep them coming. To those who haven’t written yet, please let your thoughts be known; tell them that you were deeply hurt by Mr. Cruz’s rants. Your mail may not see print soon, as the letters page has very limited space, according to an announcement last Friday. But your letter will be read by the editors, and they’ll know that another reader felt shamed by that nastiness. You can make a difference.

It’s good to see that people are discussing the issue intelligently in different parts of the blogosphere. Back in the paper, the pro-gay columnists have timely pieces, too. Dr. Mike Tan wrote about gay families and homophobia, while Rina Jimenez-David wrote about the changing attitudes regarding homosexuality.

Margie Holmes texted and asked me last week if I was documenting these things in a journal, because it may yet turn out to be this country’s turning point, a bloodless Stonewall revolution that may lead to the recognition of gay rights. I told her that, yeah, many of us are writing about it and making noise in our blogs. And that, well, we’ll see what happens next.

They Might Be Giant-Men

Playkit, please, please get the Wal-Mart/Giant-Man Marvel Legends Wave! People have been selling sets at ridiculously, impossibly high prices. Come on, Playkit, bring them in, already.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Watched The Devil Wears Prada last Monday. Enjoyed it a lot. Meryl Streep (above, thanks to Yahoo Movies) plays the classy, caustic fashion mag editor-in-chief, Miranda Priestly, boss to Anne Hathaway’s Andrea, a lovable aspiring journalist-turned-fashionista protégé. It’s a timeless tale about female empowerment, selling and reclaiming one’s soul, and freebie designer clothes and accessories. For those who know nothing about fashion trends and artistry, like yours truly, you’ll learn about some of the hard work behind them in the movie. Loved the music too, especially the fast guitar track whenever she-devil Miranda enters the room. Utter coolness.

Closer to Free

Thank you, Manuel Quezon III, for very eloquently writing about, and against, the hate speech of retired Supreme Court justice, Isagani A. Cruz (I put the middle initial because he has a namesake… poor namesake) last Monday. Well done, sir!

Also to those who texted me about the issue, thank you for expressing your dismay and honest thoughts; those were forwarded all the way to PDI in the past couple of days, thanks to the gay advocacy groups. Last Thursday, my Super editor Tim informed me that the newspaper issued a statement in ANC about the matter, that they were against Mr. Cruz’s tirade. Too bad I missed that. Some people who complained about the column were met by the publisher and editor-in-chief later that day. I gotta know how that turned out, ‘cause I missed that, too.

If there’s anything that last week’s ugly gay-bashing has done, it’s enraged a lot of GLBT and straight people alike. People have emailed and texted each other about it; bloggers have likewise made their reactions to it known. Discussions ensued.

I also wrote about homophobia in today’s paper. My sincere and profuse thanks to Super editors Tim and Pam for letting me do that.

War is Late

Marvel Comics’ Civil War # 4 is delayed and will be released in September. Artist Steve McNiven has apologized and admitted that the extra month of waiting is his fault. Marvel announced that they have kept McNiven as penciler because they want to preserve the “integrity” of the project. All related tie-ins of issue 4 will also be delayed as a result. Oh well. Just when it was getting really exciting! They better make sure that issue looks damn good. Hmph.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Isagani Cruz is a Dumbass

To be more specific, he’s a homophobic dumbass.

Now I don’t normally resort to labeling people that way, but his recent offensive tirade against gay people warrants it. It’s one of those instances when you just get stunned to discover that such a respected, educated person could spew such hateful bile against people who haven’t done him any real injury. But even when this isn’t the first time he wrote about his dislike for gay people, it's still surprising. In April 2003, he devoted a column to the subject, which partly bemoans the effeminate gay hosts of two morning TV programs (he suggested that they should just “engage in less irritating work like dressmaking and hairdressing”), as well as the increase of young openly gay students (“as if homosexuality has become an epidemic”). He questioned the “preferential treatment” of homosexuals in the entertainment industry, too.

Basically, that 2003 column was a confused commentary on gay people and the lifestyle; it pointed out that, for him, it’s okay for a person to be gay as long as he didn’t cross-dress or act effeminately. I sent a strongly worded letter then about that horrible column, which I hope was forwarded to him. I’m sure he got emailed by others about it, also. But he’s at it again.

After reading his most recent anti-gay sentiments, I shuddered. My hands, still holding the newspaper, were shaking. He started it by calling those who gave the visiting “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” hosts a favorable reception “impressionable”. Then he continued with a disclaimer of sorts, a supposed apology to “reserved and discreet” members of the community. What followed were, again, mixed signals, awful assumptions, and awkward generalizing. He ended it with:

“Must we allow homosexuality to march unobstructed until we are converted into a nation of sexless persons without the virility of males and the grace of females but only an insipid mix of these virtues? Let us be warned against the gay population, which is per se a compromise between the strong and the weak and therefore only somewhat and not the absolute of either of the two qualities. Be alert lest the Philippine flag be made of delicate lace and adorned with embroidered frills.”

I decided to text a few of those in my phonebook who are vocal about gay issues, and gay sympathizers. I wish I could’ve texted and informed more people about it, but, as if on cue and to add to the drama, my load ran out.

Anyway, UP professor Eric Manalastas reacted, “I saw. And interestingly, he had a little pre-apology to ‘decent’-acting gay individuals. Classic sign of prejudice, the ‘I’m not biased, but…’ argument.”

Old classmate and active Library Foundation member Glenn Cruz (no relation to the columnist), commented that he read it and he knows which school the guy was referring to, while Atty. Angie Umbac of Lagablab said that Danton Remoto, Rainbow Rights and Leap Inc. will be issuing statements regarding this matter.

Angelo Morales of Icon asked if I could write a counter-article. Busy Carl Vergara also texted back and promised that he’d check it out. Not long after them, Margie Holmes SMSed, “I have cut it out to discuss in my Soc Sci class. I’m glad (the gay groups) will issue a statement!”

Ian-Bluefur summed it up nicely: “Can you PLEASE tell Isagani that THIS pansy would love to meet him for an opportunity to punch him in the face? I’m fucking serious.”

It’s scary to think that there will be people agreeing with Mr. Cruz’s unbelievably judgmental and hurtful points. But really, is it too late for him to understand the complexities of gay people, that there have been, to use his word, “macho” men screwing other men unbeknownst to him, even back when he was a kid? Is it too late to reason with him, and is he really just an old fart who can’t accept that the world now isn’t the one that he fondly remembers? Well, unless Mr. Cruz issues a real apology or an admission that he had been unduly harsh and extremely prejudiced, he’ll still be an offensive craptard in the eyes of many, regardless of their sexual labels.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Vacation, Have to Get Away

Felt I needed an impromptu break after doing the same things--work-related stuff—for several consecutive days. I was able to sneak in some time to watch TV and some DVDs. I deserve some rest, I thought, so when the opportunity presented itself, I became a couch potato for almost three days. Got a stiff neck later because of long hours just watching and surfing the net. Aside from that, I was also thinking about life, death, work, sex, love, food and trivial stuff. It’s one of those moods again.

Been reflecting about my life now, where it’s been and where it’s headed, how I’m feeling undecided between wanting to do something entirely different job-wise, and pursuing more familiar routines. While solving a long and complicated mystery with Jack Bauer, I was also thinking about how I should budget my week’s meal money, how problematic some relatives’ situations have become, the need to call back some people, and emailing others regarding payment for a few magazine contributions.

Been restless on my bed these past few nights too; sometimes I just can’t sleep immediately. But I like how the bed is spacious, and sleep-time is when I think about people precious to me. Every time the semblance of a prayer, a thought wishing for safety, forms, I just feel at ease. I do think about and hope for tranquility and peace, while hugging a gradually deflating pillow. I’m reminded of stuff I do on my bed, and the activity it’s seen, but I haven’t really been thinking about that lately.

I’ve been wondering about how short the days have been feeling for me. I used to be able to fit in everything I could in a day. Now, I’ve been procrastinating with a number of things. I do have a few things I really wanna get done, things that require starting almost from scratch, like a new comic book that’ll give me as much personal satisfaction as my first one. I want to paint again. But those things require concentration and long hours, which have been eluding me these past couple of months (hence, some unreturned phone calls). I really need to reorganize again.

I need to read more of the comics sourcebooks I bought in the past six months, which are, collectively, half-read at this point. Work eats up most of my hours now. It’s been irregular but hectic, and no, I’m not complaining. It’s just that I feel like a zombie between doing serious jobs, and I just, understandably, switch off after them. I dance in my chair, eat unhealthy food, forget to exercise, admire things I can’t afford, and just zone out while I can.

But I’m still distracted. Eh. I need to plan.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Pop Vulturati

Dropped by DK Saturday and left my comics stash with Benedict, who read it at a food place with Adam David while waiting for me and John to finish the cute cartoon movie Ant Bully upstairs at a G4 theater. After watching, we joined them and got my stuff and the mix cds Gumby dropped off (thanks uli, Gumby!). They were able to finish my Stupid Comics TPB (left, image from Newsarama), two Civil War: Front Line issues, and Previews, as well as older comics like Civil War # 3 and JLA # 0. Adam and I swapped books, my Lexy for his City Lights, a nice collection of fictional accounts about life in and around Metro Manila, by a number of fine Pinoy authors.

It was strange, sharing a table briefly with three of the most opinionated people around, and we barely spoke a word, except for the requisite hi's and seeya's. Oh, but Adam and I agreed, as we were leaving, that the real war-Civil War analogy in Front Line 4 was kinda heavy-handed. Benedict would later be on a caffeine buzz on the phone while talking about Stupid Comics and the other stuff, and John would tell me, also later, that while the music of The Producers isn’t that catchy, he still enjoyed the movie musical, especially Roger Bart, Matthew Broderick and Gary Beach’s performances. Adam and I chatted briefly the next day about the books, Wendell, Stuck Rubber Baby, and related stuff.

City Lights compiles short stories, written in both English and Filipino, about different urban treks with diverse themes as seen through the eyes of several tour guides. It's mostly an engrossing read. Adam edited the whole thing and wrote some of the more interesting, more ruminative pieces. Get it where other Psicom books are sold. The Stupid Comics trade paperback by Jim Mahfood, meanwhile, is a collection of the indie artist’s black and white comic strips that criticize pop culture, politics, and everything else. It’s compelling, brave and extraordinarily wise. Glad I ordered it; I only have the first Image issue back in 2002. The TPB spans several years and gathers all four issues of the cartoonist’s works.

Been reading those alternately while listening to the music Gumby compiled for me. One cd’s contents:

Sting: All This Time, Tori Amos: Glory of the 80s, Daniel Powter: Bad Day, The Alarm: Rain in the Summertime, Sarah McLachlan: Vox, Simple Minds: Alive and Kicking, China Crisis: Thank You, Counting Crows: Accidentally in Love, Mary Chapin Carpenter: Passionate Kisses, David Gray: Easy Way to Cry, B-52s: Deadbeat Club, The Bible: Honey Be Good, Indigo Girls: Free in You, Melissa Etheridge: Talking to My Angel, Train: Let It Roll, REM: Belong, Prince: Diamonds and Pearls, Third Eye Blind: Jumper

Got sick last Monday evening and Tuesday was spent recuperating, but am feeling way better now. Woop.

Frost Bites Back

There’s no character like everybody’s favorite X-teacher, Emma Frost, co-headmaster of Charles Xavier’s School with lover Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops. Her former student M (Monet St. Croix) seems to be a bitchy, elitist enough one that seems to be following in her footsteps, but she’s nowhere near as snippy and calculating as the reformed villain. Hope Miss Frost isn’t back to being a villain (see current Astonishing X-Men issues), because for me, she’s probably the most interesting mutant character to grace the pages of the X-books since Rogue (who, coincidentally, used to be a crazy villain, too, but is now just boring).

Anyway. Here are some of my favorite Emma Frost lines:

To M (Generation X # 3): “Don’t gloat, child, it’s a sign of poor upbringing.”

To Husk (Generation X # 4): “You’re young, beautiful, intelligent, you know exactly what you want… and you’re not afraid to ruffle a few feathers to get it. Truth? You remind me of me when I was younger.”

To a cab driver (New X-Men # 116): “I’ve just had an epiphany, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Stop the car.”

To the Stepford Cuckoos (New X-Men # 126): “Remember what I taught you and swing him merrily from a psychic gibbet, girls! Braid his thoughts tightly until they ooze…”

To Cyclops (New X-Men # 131): “So, anyway… I am power and song and life incarnate… but the truth is, no matter how hard I try, I can’t help playing with fire. How about you, darling?”

To Wolverine (New X-Men # 139): “Why did I allow myself to become so stupid and vulnerable, Logan? Why did I have to fall in love with Scott bloody Summers?”

To her students (Astonishing X-Men # 1): “We must give the ordinary humans respect, compliance and understanding. And we must never mistake that for trust.”

To Kitty Pryde (Astonishing X-Men # 2): “As usual, your naivete is neither cute nor useful.”

To Tony Stark (Civil War # 3): “Where were the Avengers when Genosha died, Iron Man? Where were you when our babies were burning?”

To Ms. Marvel (New X-Men-Academy X # 28): “Yes, Carol… we saw what happened in Stamford—because the X-Men went there to help. Which begs the question, where were the Avengers when we needed help? Where were you? …surely the Avengers came to the funeral we held? No? Pity.”

Thank Ye

Thanks to those who recently shared wonderful comments about LNA, including the aforementioned Adam, Johnny Danganan, Nathan, and Jun Matias. Also to those who listed it among their favorite books in their profiles, thanks so much!