Friday, August 31, 2007

Never Be Your Unemployed Boyfriend

There you go. It’s like I’m trick or treating, because looking like this is far from normal for me. Well, thanks to my brother, who gave tips on what to wear and took the picture. I’m your friendly insurance salesman slash school administrator! I feel like singing a suave Bryan Ferry song. And dancing, even. This must be how cosplaying feels. My friends like me in the duds, maybe because they’ve never seen me look so… dignified.

It’s a good thing that I don’t have to wear a tie on a daily basis, and I think I’ve more respect now for people that do. It feels constricting, plus the continuous attention to tidiness and symmetry of the whole getup can get quite distracting. But anyway, I did the assignment early Thursday in yuppie wear and, well, I didn’t feel too conscious about it. I think I like wearing this type of clothing, but only in places that have chilly airconditioning (which the hotel venue I went to has, so it was cool).

It was a pretty typical event. Took down notes, and looked forward to the free food. Didn’t like the salad too much because of the strongly flavored dressing, but the serving of chicken on mashed potato was orgasmerrific. So was the two-inch high cylindrical chocolate mousse with sponge cake layer and chocolate, cherry and strawberry toppings. Yum.

Anyway, again, some friends liked this pic above, as well as a few others of me in other angles, which I posted elsewhere. “Elsewhere” would be my new Multiply site. Yep, assimilated once more. Actually, I like that it’s got all the features covered, and that its content segregation scheme makes for an organized and clean look. It’s like your typical online journal mashed with your social networking site, so it rarely gets boring.

I’ll still blog here, of course, but I will be posting select entries, old and new, in that other corner too. When I’m free, that is. For now, must get some rest. Barely had enough sleep these past few days and my body still kinda hurts from gym and other strenuous activities. Yeowch.

Hmm, wonder what other uniforms I can pull off? I think I wanna wear something that uniform-fetishists might dig this Halloween. Heheh. Whatev.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Minutes to Memories


Back in the late ‘90s when I was having my Lilith Fair fixation, I discovered Luscious Jackson’s fun “Electric Honey” album, easily one of the most feelgood, playful and solid recordings I’ve ever listened to. The songs had catchy pop sensibilities, but were often infused with styles ranging from house to trance, creating varied moods and atmospheres from track to track. The band gets mysterious with the thumping “Christine,” eerie with “Fly,” quite heavy on the cheerleader-y rock ditty “Fantastic Fabulous,” funky and sultry with the picturesque “Alien Lover,” and so on. The trio made up of vocalists Jill Cunniff, Gabrielle Glaser and drummer Kate Schellenbach made this 1999 album really worth it. Here’s the cassette tape (!) cover:

I like their lyrics as much as their music. I just love the line, “’Cause abs and buns are so much fun!” from the song “Sexy Hypnotist.”

Back in the day, it’s a three-way tie between "Electric Honey," Garbage’s “Version 2.0,” and Save Ferris’ “It Means Everything” albums; they’re the most upbeat, and liveliest I listened to during that period. It felt like either you were with them, or they were singing those songs just for you. It’s amazing when art connects that way.

Happy Birthday Dicky!

Didn’t feel like sending you an e-card or whatever, so this is what I came up with. It’s a day early, but let me and the Feroverse be the first ones to greetcha. Enjoy the food and get plump; you’ll burn it off the next day.

I Remember You

Senior Prom! I cropped my date out. Or to be more exact, I cut myself out of the 8R picture. Yeah, I amuse myself by sharing old photos of me. It’s not as if I’m stuck in the past or anything; I just don’t recognize the person, or the wherefores, in most of these long-forgotten images. Here, I just know that I was 15 years young. Damn, where’d the time go?

This particular pic reminds me, though, that I need to be in business attire for a coverage assignment some time next week. Drat. But that's what the boss wants. I’m used to being shirtless and barefoot while working, so going out all yuppied up’s gonna feel odd.

Thank goodness for corporate drone siblings, who may know a thing or two about what I should wear. I need to have a picture taken of that. Or not.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Child of the Universe

Never Lived the Dreams of the Prom Kings

What a week. Played a little, but mostly worked. Out of necessity, I have to work harder now, and I’m grateful for jobs offered me just recently. So thank you for that, Ike, and thanks too, Les, Tel, Zane and Donna for being cool to hang with, for every brief chance I get to do that these past few days. I appreciate it.

I’m glad that I’m being offered work now. I don’t have to struggle as much unlike years before, which is a part of my history that, without going too much into detail, was quite bad. As in, no option but to subsist on the cheapest burger value meal bad. Not as bad as it got for young Jesse Bradford’s character in Soderbergh's King of the Hill, where he was eating cutout pictures of food, I know, but it was close. Never again.

Someday, the World’s Much Brighter

I saw an episode of the Morgan Spurlock-hosted show 30 Days, where a young man, conservative straight guy Ryan, was transplanted into an alien environment--Castro District in San Francisco--for a month (hence the series title). That was real interesting. It offered a realistic view of gay life, which includes vocal opposition by the usual haters, the antigay rednecks with placards that say “God Abhors You” or “God laughs when a fag dies.” Those parts, where people declare their usual divisiveness, were alarming, sad and pitiful.

Nevertheless, the SF denizens were shown living their lives, gayly and without fear. The straight guy, Ryan, was resistant to accepting the cultures within that homosexual haven, and also the openness of some gay people at first (although it was funny that he danced shirtless when he got drunk in a bar). But he seemed a little enlightened near the end of his sojourn, after talking to a small group of PFLAG members (parents of gay kids), who explained to him that a gay person just knows that he or she is one, just as straights might know what they’re attracted to, which is the simplest and most understandable explanation.

Invincible As Long As I’m Alive

Just pictures taken post-summer, when I was alternately Mr. Brightside and Mr. Dyingly Sad. I’m back to being regular old me, but a little wiser to some of the ways of the world. Or at least, to some inescapable truths.

Was stuck in some moments, but now got out of 'em.

Electricity Flows With the Very First Kiss

This came out last Wednesday in the 2BU section of the paper. Thank you Pam! And thanks too, Albert Rodriguez, for the cool and funny caricature. Writing this made a little giddy with nostalgia, and reminded me of how people first occupied space in my head, like pals John (first saw him at the school library, he was quietly smiling as he was opening a comics-making how-to book) and Dicky (he dropped by the launch of Alamat Comics’ “Avatar” years before we started hanging out).

Firsts and that sense of self
Or, new sensations and the late bloomer

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
2BU! Contributor

As multi-sensory beings that constantly experience new things, we consider many firsts as personal milestones. More often than not, we vividly recall the first time we went to school, or went to the dentist for some teeth-pulling, or reeled from heartbreak.

There’s a first time for everything, as the cliché goes, and experience, as another goes, is the best teacher. After school, the barrage of tests continues, but out of the confines of the classroom, real life has its own set of evolving rules. School should prepare you for its craziness, but chances are, you’re on your own, kid, outside.

In recent months, I was able to enjoy once forbidden or once ignored pleasures that a late bloomer like me hadn’t had, such as getting inebriated. My “alcoholidays,” as a friend called them, were brief, but offered me a temporary and timely escape from personal routines. I documented the total percentage of the alcoholic content of beverages I consumed, at least sometimes, as part of the “research.”

Trying out a few different drinks in succession often led to sensations once alien to me, which made my vacation real interesting. It was fun, sure, but holidays must end too. Nevertheless, that experience also led to another first.

I began ascertaining my direction for the future, and I’ve come to conclusions that I can’t really disclose here. However, I can say that I started re-assessing my life, not that I haven’t done that before, but this time it’s really different.

I mulled and pondered privately, as well as over that vast, shape-shifting dimension called the Web. I map my growth by reading and re-reading my old journal entries, looking at old and new pictures, and updating my resume. I see the human connections I’ve made, both intimate and otherwise, and I remember how I’ve affected others and vice-versa.

There were many firsts, but they weren’t necessarily the best. There’s liberation by repetition, love at second sight, truth in rediscovery. And when some habits have formed or mutated, you look back fondly at those firsts anyway.

Because we perceive differently, each experience is unique and every other discovered object, obsession or muse becomes part of a series of personal mnemonic devices. These trigger specific memories of moments when you did or felt something special.

I remember the first time I listened to Sarah McLachlan, Jeff Buckley and the Beatles; I remember when my taste buds first encountered strange but wondrous concoctions; I remember how floored I was after reading Alan Moore’s “Watchmen.” Each thought connects colorfully to other bright mental snapshots. I distinctly remember getting published for the first time. I remember accepting that I can’t and won’t fit into religious cliques. I remember tensely writing about homophobia last year. The thoughts and sensations are nigh-infinite.

You learn much about yourself and your chosen path after those initial eureka moments. Doing things that have become part of who you are for the nth time can still feel like that seminal experience. I have an unwritten checklist of new things to do that, knock on wood, I hope to accomplish before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Ultimately, each of us wants to be comfortable, to be happy in our own spheres. Whether your predilections or ambitions have led to success or failure, these are your own, and your lessons shape you in ways that only you can truly appreciate. The rush of doing something new, well, very few things can compare to that.

I can say that I’ve found elusive truths, painful dichotomies and beautiful, unfolding enigmas along the way, after some life-altering firsts. I’m bound to encounter more. I’ve always found bliss in many forms, colors, and tastes, and discovering new things and people in this planet that appeal to me adds to the thrill of living.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wanna Free Fall, Out Into Nothin'

Love, love Peter David’s current run on X-Factor. The odd X-team is a uniquely addictive bunch; the drama and storytelling dynamics of the book are differently absorbing. Witty dialogue, praiseworthy art by Pablo Raimondi, and the further growth of characters that I grew up with--Jamie Madrox, Rahne Sinclair, Siryn, Guido, Rictor--make the title one of my current must-reads, along with Dan Slott’s Avengers Initiative and She-Hulk, Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, and the updated Marvel Universe Handbooks. Am just enjoying a breather now, and catching up on some comics, after being bombarded with info on car loans, details of which I'm trying to absorb for a motoring article that I should write soon.

You gotta review references for that assignment carefully, like everything else, yeah, but I can do it, I just need to organize what I’ve absorbed about it so far. I think I just need some rest, just so that my mind can rest and be refreshed when I finally do write about it. If the boss is reading this, by the way, I’ll get to it, worry not. This is how I do things, and trust me; I’m more efficient this way, sometimes.

John and I watched Surf’s Up last Saturday. Hm, the story feels a little like Pixar’s Cars. Shia LaBeouf and Jon Heder voice bird surfer dudes in the Sony Animation offering. Huge mascot of Shia’s penguin character Cody Maverick was a bit intimidating when it popped up in the Galleria theater before the screening, actually. Kids seemed to like him, though. Had to relax after too, as Sunday was partly devoted to work.

And by lunch-ish the next day, I went to the First Philippine International Motor Show, which had spiffy, sleek new vehicles of all shapes and sizes on exhibit, as well as sexily clad promo girls that entertained some visitors. Um, moving on…

Dicky and I met up a few hours later in Makati, and he had me do a few loose pencil layouts for his story. No, I’m not drawing that; the creator-artist of the characters wants him to script and plot it for him. Oh, by the way, Benedict lent me the latest Fudge magazine, where pics of him and an article centering on his cosplaying appeared. Coolness. Anyway, I’m real sleepy now, just like in this pic. I know, I always look that way. Must catch some z’s, now.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Downpour On My Soul

Strange. I lost six pounds and I didn’t know it. Well, I certainly don’t look or feel lighter, but I actually am. I thought I misread the supermarket’s weighing scale at first, but I checked my weight again on our old scale and the result’s the same. Maybe it’s caused by over-exertion, maybe I’ve been trying to balance my diet without really paying attention, I’m not really sure. But I ain’t complaining.

Weather’s lovely, at least now that it’s not raining too hard. All those talks of the country undergoing a lengthy drought, well, there’s none of that in the last two days. Okay, rain’s falling down again as I type this. Cool weather’s just perfect for scandalous intimacy.

But that’s just me. Taste and be tasted.

One With the Mud

The family used to live in a part of Metro Manila that was susceptible to heavy flooding when I was a kid. There was one time that one big flood forced us to move to another town (it would be years before it was officially a city), where we stayed for some time, until our home area was livable again. I remember alighting from a tall multi-wheeler truck, grudgingly, my Mom handing me to an uncle, who carried me down to dry ground. Our temporary home was a spacious enough place (mostly because I was a kid); we lived for many weeks in the upper floor of a hardware store that was run by relatives. I liked it there, I have happy and innocent memories about that temporary shelter, but I soon forgot about it when we went back to start anew in our old place.

It would be years before I’d encounter a flood again. I was studying at a flood-prone Manila university, but I didn’t really know about the fact until one rainy August noon after Anatomy class, during my freshman year. The jeep to Lawton, where South-bound airconditioned buses were waiting for passengers, crawled for over an hour, if I remember correctly. A classmate and I took the same jeep, and by the time we reached the station, floodwater had risen up to my shins, but there was no choice but to brave the cold, icky pond that rose in front of the Post Office.

We tried not to think about it, and it would be quite some time before the bus would find itself on the road, as vehicles, fast getting literally swamped, were barely moving. The bus stopped every few meters, which meant that some of the bored passengers, students sitting near us, would eventually introduce themselves to their seatmates. It was Noah's fricking Ark. People were getting on and off the bus, which got weird at one point.

There was a guy, probably aged mid- to late-thirties in casual clothes, impatient like every one else, who kept standing up to look out the windshield for vehicular movement. I got a little frantic when I, along with another guy, noticed that a gun was tucked at his waist, during the few seconds that the lower part of his shirt moved upwards when he stood up. Good thing he left soon, with his plastic bag of presumably rented laserdiscs, without starting a commotion. Was he a cop, a mugger, a gun-toting barangay tanod? We talked about it with our seatmates, but later forgot about that too. The bus moved again, a few meters every ten to fifteen minutes, it seemed.

Well, my classmate and I were able to fend off hunger by eating some hardboiled eggs we bought from a vendor, who probably wished he cooked more to accomodate that long line of hungry commuters. I don’t remember if we drank anything, though. It was dark soon, and people just dozed off because we really didn’t have anything else to do. My feet didn’t feel like they waded in cold filthy water many hours before. Just felt freezing, so I blanketed myself with my jacket. Some time later, I’d be really thankful that I pee standing up, and it felt like heaven to finally relieve myself nearby. It’s gross; I won’t even describe the specifics, at least not today.

I got home several hours later (past 3 a.m.!), umbrella soaked, clothes drenched and eager to bathe in rubbing alcohol. Many years later, my skin still crawls when I recall that ordeal.

Monday, August 06, 2007

One With Everything

Open Up the Paper, There’s a Story of an Actor

While re-structuring my resume, I noticed that the work I've done so far for the paper is one huge mnemonic device. In a span of a couple of years and hundreds of articles with bylines, my list of published works and their corresponding dates brought me back to crucial points where I was changing in different ways. Arranging that list reminded me of events and feelings I’d already forgotten, but while I'm not exactly one of those with elephantine recollection for exact dates, I do remember the times when specific articles were written and how I perceived things back then.

I remember how I was contacted to cover each specific event, and these assignments collectively allowed me to meet new people along the way, some of whom became close friends up to this day. I remember songs I was listening to, and shows I was following, during those months. And as these weren’t all interview pieces, I’m also recalling what I was doing when I see the titles of old movie articles. There’s a bevy of films I was lucky enough to view for free, even when a sizeable portion of them were the equivalent of junk food, quick fixes, or empty sex. Still, there were movies I’m glad I’ve seen and written about, whether I got in for free or not. I’ve also been to gatherings where the supposedly highbrow were laughing at things that weren’t funny, and the seemingly lowbrow had profound insights to share.

I find it cool to have met really smart and multi-talented people from the paper and other broadsheets. I recall particular conversations with them during press conferences and whenever I occasionally run into them off-work. I’ve had plenty of opportunities where I was tapped to do exclusives, and I’m grateful for them too. I’ve met or talked to people whom I’ve seen only on the big and small screens before. I don’t get too wowed by them at the end of the day, because for me, each person I’m tasked to write about is a job.

The list also yielded one of the more memorable ones for me. One of the harder things that I covered, I must say, was a show organized by the Make a Wish people, held at Glorietta about four years ago, where I had to interview parents of gravely sick kids after. That was humbling, and it kinda puts everything in perspective every time I think about it. The celebrities who participated told me how they’re glad to put their popularity to great use, and to share for that cause.

Anyway, the publish dates also trigger vivid memories of long-forgotten personal journeys I had to take. I smile at mistakes made that I guess were inevitable. Behind the scenes, as a person, I was changing in good ways and bad, in ways that I never imagined.

I still am.

What Doesn’t Kill Ya…

Been enjoying Avengers Initiative by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli. I’m also reading a bunch of new Marvel Universe Handbooks, which finally give profiles to new or obscure figures, aside from updating some famous characters’. I’m pleasantly surprised by The Marvel Tarot by writer-designer David Sexton, which isn’t exactly the traditional profile handbook, but its cardstock cover and non-sequential format makes it fit right in. It’s a rich, surreal look at Dr. Strange’s mystic deck of cards and its unexpected, intriguing connection to Marvel’s magical characters, as interpreted by fellow sorcerer Ian McNee. I’m halfway through that, now.

Anyhoo, just some quotables from other recent superhero comic books I read:

"Really? You tried to sleep with Wolverine and he’s tried to kill your cousin. And what about Iron Man? He shot your cousin into space!"
--Mallory Book to Jen Walters/She-Hulk, after denying she slept with Juggernaut

"If you and I--two Jamie Madroxes had--you know--with each other, would that constitute actual--you know…"
--Jamie Madrox dupe to original Jamie

"I pulled him inside-out and saved the universe. What have you done lately, Tony?"
--Nova telling Iron Man of Annihilus' fate

"Every single one of them could fly. In the end I think they inspired me more than I inspired them."
--Superman reminiscing about the Legion

"I never dressed like Hawkeye. Even when he wore a headband and a skirt."
--Kate Bishop to Clint Barton

"Avengers seniority?! Look me in the eye and say that again, Delroy!"
--Rage to Triathlon during World War Hulk

"Saw you on TV $%#@ing up your whole life, Peter."
--Clint Barton to Peter Parker

"Hear me well, Bruce… your anger means nothing to me. I am the Sorcerer Supreme. I could snuff the feeble flame of your mortal life with the merest twitch of the finger."
--Doctor Strange to the Hulk

"Dear Meatball, I have this thing right now where I only date nice guys. Give me a call if you decide to BE that nice guy. Maybe I’ll show you how to REALLY waltz, someday."
--Huntress’ handwritten note to Catman

"What red-blooded male wouldn’t want to lose his virginity to an exotic alien princess with such huge…eyes?"
--Barbara Gordon to Dick Grayson, referring to his hookup with Starfire

Girl Gone Wild

Another illustration I submitted last year for that zombie tribute book I mentioned a few entries back. This is my interpretation of the little girl zombie from Night of the Living Dead. Fully penciled on vellum paper, too. I wonder what happened to that project…

Nineteen, Nineties

The nine things I can remember from when I was 19:

1. I sported that hairstyle for a few months. No, that’s not a mullet, although I’m guilty of having one about a year or so later. Gyuck.

2. I just recovered from some illness when the picture was taken.

3. I just quickly recovered from heartbreak, too.

4. The family went to Agoo around that time to visit the supposedly miraculous site of the Mary apparitions, but I don’t know now if that was weeks before or after this pic.

5. I took up some advanced classes that summer to free me of some minor subjects in the upcoming schoolyear. It’s a nerdy thing, I know, but it was boring if you got stuck at home and did nothing. Taking them early proved helpful later too because I was able to devote time to my thesis a few months later.

6. I had a bunch of Bram Stoker’s Dracula movie trading cards.

7. I really enjoyed swimming, even when I’m only familiar with the basics.

8. I carried a heavy three-ring binder/clearbook that compiled a lot of my original character designs in my bag whenever I could.

9. My Dad gave me a short talk that basically reminded me to respect, and not take advantage of my, er, “admirers.” >cough!<

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Feet on Ground, Heart in Hand

I’ve often wondered about how my life would’ve been had circumstances been different early on. I was almost “switched” with another baby all those years ago. According to my mother, when I was about to be brought home from the hospital, a nurse misidentified me in the nursery and almost handed another child, who looked nothing like me at all. But it’s a good thing that my parents knew how I looked like. That story’s been told over and over with some amusement and I just smile every time it comes up. Maybe it’s because I’m grateful that I didn’t end up heaven knows where, and that despite the occasional growing-up problems, I consider myself fortunate to have such patient, loving parents.

They tried their darnedest to give me what I needed, and kept reminding me to value education. They hoped and prayed that I’d take my studies seriously, and to some extent, I can say that I did, despite a few serious bouts with boredom and an array of adolescent crises. School, for me, was sixteen years of routines, studded with various beautiful discoveries and unrelenting miseries. Throughout that time, my brain has gained and dumped an immeasurable amount of information, and it’s only after that long period of schooling that countless hours of problem-solving and gained knowledge would truly be put to the test.

But education never really ends, and chances are, making really tough decisions in the real world can make you appreciate that you have the basic gifts of literacy, comprehension, and access to special skills. I’m thankful for every day that I’m able to perform my duties. But there are many things that you have to experience for yourself, intricacies that were never really discussed in class. And you have to learn things about yourself, sometimes, to ascertain your own life’s direction, to find a real point in going on.

Sometimes, you learn that no matter how adept you are at handling disappointment, you still feel the pain of rejection or loss. But you just learn to move on or wait, and hope for the best. And when you disappoint those dearest to you, you just do your best to win them back and heal those wounds.

Sometimes, you learn to ignore those old teachings about charity and selflessness when you have barely enough for yourself. Still, you’ll surprise yourself when you give freely to those few you value the most, even when you have almost nothing left.

Sometimes, some of the biggest, most mind-blowing secrets are shared in intimate confessions that happen in dimly lit rooms. You get a sense of the bigger picture when you realize how things and people really connect behind the scenes.

And sometimes, you just have to have fun and experience some once-forbidden pleasures. You’ll make mistakes, sometimes consciously, but you’ll eventually examine flaws that you need to work on.

As far as learning technical abilities is concerned, it’s a wondrous age when you can read, hear and see the works of an infinite number of individuals in a number of venues. I’m constantly awed by certain bloggers, those gifted with a flair for evoking genuine reactions and transmitting picturesque ideas with the creative combination of words. I try to discern patterns from changing writing styles and different inner voices, just so I can figure out what makes them tick, and why they’re appealing to me. Wordsmiths, visual artists, tunesmiths, they all have something to teach and share. There are those concepts, thoughts, compositions and melodies that just appeal to my tastes and preferences. There are times that I’d just listen to conversations, or lurk at forums, and observe how people communicate. I become a sponge that quietly absorbs the oft-unwritten mechanics of those interactions.

Inspiration comes in many forms, and as the cliché goes, “I’ll stop learning when I’m dead.” Perhaps I’m writing this because I’m appreciating some blessings now--better late than never, I suppose--and that I’m glad to have been given opportunities to pursue my interests, to learn how to make this life a little easier.

I’m glad that they got a good look at me before I went to that hospital nursery, too.