Thursday, November 30, 2006

Candy Kisses on a Sunny Day

The Pride March 2006 will be on Dec. 9, Saturday. Please click on the image below or visit Pride Manila’s site for the route and other details.

Also, whether you’ll attend that parade or not, please find time to write the following people about the Anti-Discrimination Bill. Please read my previous post about it. Be the voice of reason; tell Mr. Abante that his gay-bashing ways are un-Christian, and that he should think on how damaging and discriminatory his views are to gay people.

Office of Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Jr.

Rm. 407 South-wing,

House of Representatives,

Batasan Hills, Quezon City

Phone: 931-5001 local 7248 or 9315691 (telefax)

Email: abante_maynila (at) yahoo (dot) com

Also, tell Speaker Jose de Venecia how you feel about the recent unsavory developments in Congress, and explain to him why the Anti-Discrimination Bill is important to you.

Office of House Speaker Jose de Venecia

Rm. MB-2, House of Representatives, Quezon City

Phone: 931-5001 local 7446, 9315071 to 73

Email: devenecia (at) pldtdsl (dot) net

I was re-reading parts of Margie Holmes’ book “A Different Love” a few days ago, and I’d just like to share a portion of her response to a letter-sender (page 140). The topic was about some people’s propensity to declare the self-righteous, conditional pronouncement of loving the homosexual, while hating homosexual activity (or, the love-the-sinner, hate-the-sin conundrum). It’s very relevant:

“Characterizing a person’s actions as sinful, as in 'Woman, sin no more' certainly smacks of judgment to me. To characterize a person’s actions as sinful is NOT compassionate; it is downright demoralizing and judgmental. We must become more aware of the mixed messages we give people. We must be more honest about the feelings we have for people, so we don’t say 'I love them (which implies equality) but don’t condone your deeds' and in the next breath say, 'I’ll be praying for you, praying that you see the light at last (which says clearly that you are better than they because you see the light whereas they, poor souls whom you love despite themselves, don’t)' If that’s compassion, I’d much rather people be patronizing. At least they would be more honest that way.”

Very well said.

Uncanny Art Man

X-Men versus X-Men—to the death! (thanks, uncannyxmen.net)

This is among the first few X-Men issues I’ve ever read, drawn by Dave Cockrum, who passed away earlier this week. Many of my National Bookstore reprints, bought when I was really young, are tattered and coverless now, but I can still appreciate the power and dynamic quality of his old illustrations. I especially liked X-Men # 100, which pitted the replacement team against the "originals" (later exposed as Stephen Lang’s robots). I also remember his action-packed drawings that had the mutants fighting a bunch of Sentinels during Christmas eve. Oh, and his dramatic, very visual introduction of the Phoenix is just unforgettable. Good stuff. He was one of the greats.

A-trenta

The eleventh month endeth. But there’s a storm coming, and people are saying that it might become strong enough to rival September’s super-typhoon. Well, let’s hope not, but be prepared, everyone.

Last week was busy, and work spilled over to this one. But stuff worth mentioning:

1) Yay! The Virtusios gave me a DVD of Entourage (Season 1). It has all eight episodes. Nice!

2) Went to Channel 7 and interviewed some of their talents for the paper. I had a great time talking to Iza Calzado, most of all. What an intelligent, gorgeous and lively young woman.

3) Reading my old history and mythology books again. I’m re-learning stuff. I’m glad I bought them all those years ago.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Paatras si Abante

My old schoolmate, hardworking Library Foundation volunteer Glenn Cruz texted me two days ago:

“Situation in congress getting worse. Rep. Abante is in full gear for his battle against the Anti-Discrimination Bill. Today he brought his church followers in congress. They’re vowing to launch a values renewal campaign.”

This is serious. LAGABLAB has a detailed report on the vocal objection of the unabashedly homophobic Bienvenido Abante, who is, unbelievably, CHAIRPERSON of the HOUSE COMMITTEE on HUMAN RIGHTS. He’s now calling on different Christian groups to protest the approval of the bill, which was designed to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Filipinos. Abante, who has previously called homosexuals “morally reprehensible,” among other outrageous and derogatory things, is using the Bible yet again to block the bill, and is threatening Congress with fire and brimstone:

“We cannot legislate on these. To abet sin and ungodliness is to invite the wrath of God upon ourselves and our God-loving nation.”

In another portion of the report, he said:

“Male and female created Eden. I do not find in the Bible that God created male and female and the in-betweens. Mr. Speaker, I find in the Bible that God created Adam and Eve. I do not find in the Bible that God created Adam and Steve.”

Okay. First off, that “Adam and Steve” quip is lame, old, and stupid, just like everything horrendously bigoted that has spewed so far from this poorly informed man’s bileful mouth. Secondly, only those living in their fantasy worlds probably do not know it, but the real world is much more complex, and definitely more complicated than what the Bible has vividly presented. In this age, people, at least many of them, are trying to recognize and celebrate differences. Mature people can understand and accept their sexuality; consenting adults do things to each other that they want, and they’re none of other people’s business. Gay relationships exist and thrive, and those who lose sleep over that fact should then try to recognize some personal issues.

Now I don’t agree with Elton John’s statement from last week or so that religion should be banned. No, that freedom to believe or not is precious, and I personally believe that people should have that choice. But I agree with Mr. John that organized religion has inspired the persecution of homosexuals. It’s sad and detestable when some wayward followers cross the line, when their unthinking pronouncements meddle into the private lives of others who don’t live as they do, or follow the same ancient code. Even the “new guidelines for gay outreach” of Catholic bishops in the US, “are meant to be welcoming, while also telling gays to be celibate because the church considers their sexuality ‘disordered’,” according to a recent AP report (thanks for posting that, Gibbs!). Some excerpts:

“The guidelines condemn discrimination against gays and say it’s not a sin to be attracted to someone of the same sex—only to act on those feelings.

“Under the guidelines, parishes are instructed to help Catholics avoid the ‘lifestyle and values of a “gay subculture”’. Gays are also discouraged from telling anyone about their sexual orientation outside of a close circle of friends and supporters in the church.”

Utter crap. In other words, those guidelines are saying that, to be accepted in their group, you have to deny a crucial part of your being. Conditional tolerance... what a concept! So much of the old messages can be distorted by those few who are just so ready to quote verse after verse of condemnation. It’s just bizarre that sexuality, sexual identity, or sexual activities between grownups can be such evil things for some people.

And it’s quite puzzling that bogeymen like the congressman still exist. Mr. Abante isn’t saving the world; he’s making life miserable for more people, young and old gay Filipinos who need to be defended from attacks that he and similar gay-bashers would so easily justify with their deity’s words. He should just preach, resign from that committee and get the hell out of politics. He’s proven time and again that he has no business being there. “Sin and ungodliness”?

Hipokrito!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Flashed Before My Eyes

While riding a tricycle across the old town commercial center last week, I saw that a bunch of the old landmarks had been replaced with classy dining places, and more businesses had sprouted on longtime vacant lots. There were a few establishments, however, that remain open after over 20 years. Passing by that area, I’m reminded of the old places--betamax rental shops and comics shops—that I frequented there as a boy. It was a quiet, safe commercial center that I went to alone when I was growing up.

It looks so alien now, more modern and sophisticated-looking, yes, but being in the area still evokes nostalgia. I’ve been looking back to the past these last few months, like I’m at a crossroads, and everything reminds me of things I’ve done, and hoped for, when I was younger. I keep looking at turning points, and I think I'm learning to appreciate the good things more.

It’s been over five years since I touched my old notes, conceptual sketches and rough drafts of comics stories. The detailed, handwritten stuff are arranged in a way that only I can understand, as tweaks and later ideas were listed as they materialized in my head, accompanied by questions that, likewise, would only be understood by myself when read. I sifted through them again, just so I could get a feel of ideas that I’d forgotten about. What I found, surprisingly, were some things that made me excited again.

Going through that stack of papers, I realized how much time I had back then to actually sit down, research, and compile facts that were relevant to what I wanted to do. And what I wanted to do, and still want to someday, is something big, ornate, sweeping, and maybe something that’ll get other people excited too.

As I was re-reading them, I came across a page that didn’t have anything to do with the concepts. It was only a few lines, a very journal entry-like piece that, without getting really specific here, expressed how bad I was feeling during the time. And it was stunning, the way it was so honest and sad, and I’m flooded with memories of that specific period in my life.

That was a dark, bad time. I think, to distract myself, I had to keep writing and drawing things that would appeal to me. I had to create separate fragments of a bigger picture, and I kept hoping that one day, I’d be able to tell stories through a synthesis of my own thoughts, words and pictures. Not to prove to anyone that I could. Well, at least not anymore, now. It’s more of sharing what’s in your head and hoping in the process that people would connect with your questions and understand what you wanted to say.

It’s really nice to see that people have pursued telling their own stories, and they’ve improved tremendously through the years. Comics-creating friends like Arnold Arre, Budjette Tan, Carl Vergara, David Hontiveros and Gerry Alanguilan, as well as newer colleagues, have conjured up and shared worlds and continue to tell different stories through the medium. I’m glad that a lot of them are inspiring others to do their own thing.

After Lexy, Nance & Argus, which, thankfully, continues to appear in people’s “favorites” profiles, I’ve been repeatedly asked what the next comic book project will be. To be honest, that’ll depend on my work and financial situation. But I want to work on my old action-packed ones now. Really, I do.

With Every Beat of My Heartsong

To Mumble be the Gloria. Brittany Murphy and Elijah Wood as penguins in 'Happy Feet'

After her two postponed phoners early this month, I was finally able to interview actress-singer-producer Brittany Murphy last Wednesday. The article came out yesterday in the paper, so again, thanks to editors Pam and Tim for that.

Interesting coincidence, over the course of the interview, there were three different Millers mentioned: George the director, Frank the graphic novelist, and Arthur the playwright. Hmm, nice coinkydink. Anyway, Ms. Murphy, she sounded sweet and was very accommodating during the phoner. She talked a bout a few things, including her work in The Ramen Girl, Sin City and her latest movie, Happy Feet (where she plays the popular penguin Gloria). As we were wrapping up, she told me that I was “such a sweetheart.” Well, it was a pleasant experience, and I liked that she responded to my questions generously.

When Heroes Go Down

A few spoileriffic Civil War # 5 questions: So, Spidey’s tough new armor is now fabric-like and tears like regular clothing? Also, why did the Daredevil versus She-Hulk and Mr. Fantastic battle happen off-panel? How did Reed react to Sue’s letter, because the moment that he read it wasn’t shown? When did Tigra “defect” to the other side? Wait, a lot of important things have happened off-panel so far, and that’s been a recurring serious complaint with this main Civil War title. Back to the questions: Will Punisher kill off anyone other than nobody villains? Did we really need to see a double-pager of the simple-looking Negative Zone jail again? And where does Tigra hide her Stark cellphone? Hrmm…

Lots of questions, but this issue was just okay. Good to see the Secret Avengers roster expand to include the BAD Girls, some Nextwave members and maybe, just maybe, the Punisher. Other comics I recently got… Astonishing X-Men # 18 finally explained Emma’s recent Hellfire Club involvement. Liked that one better. Good dialogue, as always. New Avengers # 25… um, not bad for a single-issue story, but, really now, who the hell is Kenny???

Tenderness

Oh, kewl, there’s a new wave show over at K-Lite as I type this. Just turned on the radio and was searching for a little… tenderness. Ahem. Nice selection of songs, so far. I miss the old BMFM station, which played new wave music all day long. Damn, that was long ago.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Audio Dynamight

I still am not an iPod person, maybe because I’d rather hear music through big speakers than earphones. But, well, I’d still probably get one someday. Okay, stuck-in-an-island music once again. I did a post like this some time last year, and I’d like to add these among my favorites. Of course, I count my friend Gumby’s awesome made-for-me mix CDs among those I’d bring on a vacation or wherever, but these are the albums and compilations that I like aside from them. Some good listening experiences and timeless recordings:

Dido: Life for Rent- I prefer this over her debut album, although this doesn’t have her excellent “Thank You.” Dido Armstrong’s songs in this album are more melodic and lyrically richer, even when they’re all about blossoming and failing relationships.

Sarah McLachlan: Mirrorball- Hearing Sarah perform live is always a treat, and songs that otherwise sounded ordinary (well, for the great singer) in her studio albums became lively and unforgettable renditions here.

Underworld: A Hundred Days Off- Good to listen to when you’re lazing around, but just as permeating when you’re doing something else. I especially liked this pulsating dance album three years ago, when I was undergoing a phase.

Indigo Girls: Rites of Passage- This is their album I listened to first, and I was instantly hooked. “Galileo,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Love Will Come to You” and the rest of the songs became part of my massive college life soundtrack.

The Sundays: Static and Silence- This album gave words to feelings and thoughts I was experiencing back in 1998. Soothing collection of jangling, melodic songs.

Dar Williams: The End of the Summer- Folk-pop storyteller Williams kicks serious butt. I like that her songs are analytical, and sometimes self-deprecating.

Lemonheads: Come On Feel the Lemonheads- Oh, this brings back memories. One of the ‘90s better-sounding bands, and their mostly playful songs connected with me back then, and still do.

Belinda Carlisle- Runaway Horses- Loved this back in high school, but I appreciate it more now, because I understand what she’s singing about in many of the songs. I heart "Valentine."

Imago: Probably Not But Most Definitely- Still the local band’s best album. This debut showcases Aia De Leon and the gang’s most entrancing, most literate compositions.

The Best of Suzanne Vega: Tried and True- It’s Suzanne Vega’s best. That’s reason enough.

Garbage: Version 2.0- Unearthly, pounding meshing of rock sensibilities with electronica artistry. It’s a distinctly energetic, soundtrack-y album by Shirley Manson and company.

Dashboard Confessional: Dusk and Summer- A recent favorite. It’s a very polished, anthemic album about sentimental summer lovin’, and stuff like that.

John Mayer: Room for Squares- Five years ago, this guy debuted, and you just know he’d go far. The troubadour and this intimate, reflective endeavor easily became my faves.

Moby Dictum

My thanks to Tricia of EMI for giving me CDs last week. Go-the very best of Moby is, of course, very listenable. The 15-track CD doesn’t include the techno artist’s “South Side,” though, but it’s still a good compilation of some of his major and minor hits (and probably some choice cuts from older albums). The new song, if I’m not mistaken, is "New York, New York,” which features Debbie Harry on vocals. I saw the video of that recently, and it actually looked like a Spike Jonze-directed Fatboy Slim one, in that it had four goofily dressed people dancing to the song outdoors. Hunh. But as far as the compilation is concerned, not bad, for someone who never expected that he’d be a successful, full-time musician one day. No, not bad at all.

Friday, November 10, 2006

KaBoratan

Puro kagaguhan ang Borat, pero kakabagan ka sa kaka-halakhak. Si Sacha Baron Cohen ang gumanap na reporter mula sa bansang Kazakhstan, si Borat Sagdiyev, na pumunta sa America para gumawa ng documentary tungkol sa kultura. Panay kabastusan at kalokohan, pero mapapaisip ka rin ng malalim dahil ini-examine nito kung ano ang mga attitudes na acceptable at hindi sa magkaibang kultura. Grabe, kakaiba itong pelikulang ito.

Nakakatawa rin ang guesting niya kanina sa Leno (in-character pa rin siya), nag-extend yung segment niya hanggang kay Martha Stewart, at nasapawan pa niya ito.

Panoorin ninyo ang movie sa Nov. 22!

Sprawling Synaptic Squigglings

The mind realigns itself for the waking world.

I feel fine, generally, but now I’m hungry for something salty and heavy, maybe something with cheese and bread, and I’m reminded of how it was back in the nineties, when value meals became depressing, when money was a holy grail, not that it isn’t now, but anyway, I was mistaken for a whore a few times, not that there’s anything wrong with that, because I probably looked like a directionless mallrat, even though I always went to the bookstore and read away like it was my personal library, singling out books that I wanted to buy, but always waiting for a sale so that I could buy them, and I would read them later while eating a fleeting, sickening burger combo, but you were there with me, your thoughts were leaping off the page and encouraged the voices in my head, voices that needed to say their piece before they held their peace, and I felt hungry again, and I wondered if there was something to eat at home, because I can only do the things I can, and I respect the whores because they don’t seem to whine, and they have the guts to stomach whatever it was they needed to do to eat.

The body knows.

Trying to make sense of the world was never easy, I discovered long ago, and I count myself lucky because others have it worse, although that doesn’t make my complaints less valid, and I do feel sometimes that I’ve been here before, that I, like everyone else, didn’t exactly ask to be born, that’s why I wonder about birthdays, but since I’m here, I’ve nothing but gratitude for those who make my stay memorable, who make me glad I’m alive, but clich├ęs aside, I sometimes stand back and look at what’s happening, and yes, I do feel blessed, like I found my place and purpose for now, but I still keep wishing that people talked about things more, that parents listened to their children more, that children were more aware of their parents’ imperfections, that people didn’t judge others while brandishing their gods, that things were easier, because the world is harsh from time to time, that healthy food didn’t look and taste like crap.

Ooh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

The whirling becomes addictive, and we take time to know each other again, and again, and again, techno playing, pulsating, pounding in my head, hands and flesh moving on instinct, and I wonder if married people ever fantasize about things that they can’t have anymore, or are having behind their spouses’ backs, the hot non-committal bed-buddy activities that you think about every few minutes, and you daydream about doing it with everyone you like, the heaving, licking, clasping and whatever else, and I wonder if other people think this way, and I wonder how you look underneath your clothes, even when I’ve seen it before in my dreams, and you’re so hot, and I’m so stoked, and you’re doing it like a star, like it was your calling, because boys do fall in love, love moves in strange ways, it was a rainy night, I’ve been waiting hours for this, and you just live for that connection, that release, that magic moment, that rapid beating of the heart, that heavy breathing, the well-timed bursting and moaning to the heavens before our happily locked bodies go limp.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Penultimatrix

Frack, it’s November. That’s about nine weeks left for the year. I need to rush things that had to be completed a long time ago. I must, for the nth time, reorganize and begin doing things that I kept postponing these past few months. I also need to cut down on toys and fast food meals for the nonce—waaahh!—because I really need to, now. I wish money grew on trees.

Adarna has announced that they’ll be publishing new graphic novels again under their Anino imprint, and that they’ll be looking over submissions and proposals. Three friends, really intelligent writers I respect—Oscar, Adam and Benedict—are hoping that I can draw their stories for them. Told them I can’t promise anything yet; I’m really deep in stuff right now. Also, I was thinking that I should also finish the story I began illustrating months ago. I dunno. Maybe. We’ll see. Thank you, guys.

And the Doctor is Out

Doogie’s style (pic from yahooTV)

Theater and television actor Neil Patrick Harris, who portrayed prodigious doctor Doogie Howser in the early ‘90s series of the same name, recently told People Magazine, “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business that I love.”

Hmm, you know, this gives new meaning to an episode where his character postponed sleeping with the girlfriend character (Wanda?), for the first time. Heehee. That’s the episode I can remember most from that show. They did do it eventually in a later episode, I think, but by then, the sparks, and my interest in their pairing, had waned. It was timely, though, because back then, very few shows were on that tackled the problems and situations of teenagers (he was pretty normal, angst- and lovelife-wise, beneath his medical genius). It’s not that 90210 wasn’t trying, but that show felt alien and unreal to me.

This was pre-cable and pre-‘net, too, so you can imagine that TV viewing back then was, come to think of it, strange and very limited. Doogie was kinda ahead of his time, too, in that he kept a journal in his computer. He’s a pre-blogger blogger, if you will; his thoughts and lessons learned were quietly shared to the literate viewer at the end of every episode.

Well, I’m glad that Mr. Harris is brave and honest about it. Not that celebrities have an obligation to disclose their sexual orientation or preference--forced outings are just not right--but this voluntary revelation sends a message to young and confused gay people, heck, even older ones and those who identify as straight persons that, yes, it’s all right to be different.

This Is It Boys, This Is War

Weeks ago, I bought a copy of the Secret Wars trade paperback, a compilation of one of Marvel’s early crossover events. Back in 1984, I was only able to read a classmate’s random copies, which included the last few issues of the 12-parter. I always wondered how Spidey got his black costume, who Zsaji the alien healer was, and how the big hero-villain battles went. I got the first issue in 1987 for P 25 (at the school's bookstore!), but I think I swapped it for a couple of X-Men issues that a neighbor had.

Reading it now as a whole, well, it was underwhelming. The narrative feels dated; there were repetitive recaps sneaked into dialogue every issue, and the art was uneven. It’s hard to figure out what was happening when the artists, the regular and fill-in pencilers, would compress really tiny figures--indistinct scrawls!--into small panels. That was too bad, because I liked the covers. They were detailed and were, by far, better-looking than the interiors.

As far as the story goes, it was a drawn-out event that had only a few real and memorable slugfests. And come on! It was really unbelievable when Spider-Man and the Wasp each took the X-men by surprise and beat them in quick battles. Also, I don’t get Magneto’s weird abduction of the Wasp and their subsequent makeout session.

But I liked how ex-villain Molecule Man was re-established as someone who was a nice enough guy, and had powers that dwarfed the Marvel Universe’s mightiest cosmic-level characters. The X-Men-Avengers rift was also interesting to see, as well as Dr. Doom’s driven series of attacks against Galactus and the Beyonder.

Its sequel, Secret Wars II, for all its infinite tie-ins and messy art, had more substance and direction. I re-read that again a few months ago, and while the big conflicts in that second series were lacking in oomph, it was philosophical and probing from time to time. I couldn’t really get into it when I was a kid, though, which is understandable. They were two entirely different things altogether. I wonder, though, if kid readers today will find Secret Wars entertaining. Hmm.