Thursday, September 27, 2007

Word Association

Right Here, Write Now

I’ve been writing professionally for over six years now. That started officially with my Pulp gig (the Lexy, Nance & Argus strips), which was followed shortly by contributed reviews to MTV Ink and PDI. I actually submitted something to the paper’s Youngblood section back then, but those two articles, which I discovered months ago and are admittedly icky, thankfully never saw print. Strangely, I’d find out a few months into my contributorship that my then-editor, Sir Louie Camino, used to be night editor for that particular section. Barely a year later, he transferred and headed the Metro-Entertainment portion, where I’d become one of the more regular people that got published.

Over five years later, I can honestly say that I’m still learning, still honing the technical side of my craft and sharpening my analytical faculties. That never stops, really. Between those early days and now, I’d written hundreds of entertainment reports and reviews, written a comic book, blogged regularly, and interviewed people I never even dreamed of talking to. I continue to write copy for press releases, where I’m able to put to good use things I learned from some marketing and English subjects from way back. While those don’t have bylines and aren’t pop culture-related, I give just as much effort and energy to them, even when the occasional know-it-all client sucks the soul out of some pieces and alters them to appease some really dubious standards.

As someone who pimps products as the faceless press release guy, I’ve been to real estate events, visited homes for pest control testimonials, asked different questions to a variety of professionals, and so on. You meet clients with some serious behavior problems, who feel like they’re the center of the universe. Well, there really are people who love the sound of their own voice. It’s a job and I don’t really complain, even when I don’t feel like doing it. If anything, they add to my catalogue of experiences, enriching me with knowledge that I wouldn’t have gained elsewhere.

Events can be unbelievably boring, so I just blank out and just look at people, sometimes, to study or admire them. That’s how I cope, I suppose. I’ve been to a concert staged at a lavishly decorated and airconditioned church where people shout “Bravo!” after almost every number. That felt so alien and pretentious to me, as I don’t belong to the moneyed, higher class circles. However, I don’t think about being an outsider during such events since, again, I can say that I do my work dutifully. I just sit down and do the job, constantly editing until there’s an agreeable result, and then I forget about it.

Stringing together words into coherence has been a skill that’s been useful to me, and I find myself lucky to occasionally find my work in the company of those I admire and respect in the broadsheet. I’ve nothing but admiration for most of those talented and eloquent people, whose stuff I read and am impressed by. I’m proud to call some of them friends. The shared, overlapping fringes of cyberspace ensure that I’ll be meeting more, each of them wielding a distinct style and command of language, as well as some valuable insights and dissections.

Yeah, I know. Such a nerd.

Sun Always Shines

A few decades ago, when the world was so big. Look at the old TV. My Kuya’s watching some '70s show.

Suddenly, Last Summer

Deadpool GLI Summer Fun Spectacular, written by Dan Slott and Fabian Nicieza and drawn by a bunch of artists, is undoubtedly one of the funniest comic books of the year. Marvel’s outcast heroes team up, and bicker with, the Merc With a Mouth, and the results don’t disappoint. If you followed the Great Lakes Avengers’ misadventures in 2005’s GLA mini, as well as in the GLX-Mas special, or their previous run-in with Wade Wilson in Cable/Deadpool’s Civil War tie-in, then you can’t afford to miss this gut-busting one-shot.

The quirky bunch of misfits previously called themselves the Lightning Rods, the Great Lakes X-Men, and the Great Lakes Champions. Now, post-registration, the Great Lakes Initiative, still the Milwaukee-based super-adventurers with correspondingly wacky arch-foes, face their biggest challenge yet: new member Deadpool!

Highlights include Big Bertha and Wade’s date, Squirrel Girl’s post- Civil War encounter with former flame Speedball (now Penance, above), and Flatman’s Origami-Fu battle, among many others. It helps if you’re a fan of these characters already, although those who pick this up and get acquainted with them for the first time will find this a fun read, as well. I’m looking forward to the inevitable reunion of the unconventional super-characters next summer. Or preferably, much, much sooner.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rolled Beneath a Deep Blue Sky

Inside Insiang

I finally met PDI-Lifestyle writer/editor Gibbs Cadiz last Tuesday during the Insiang press conference at the CCP. Joel McVie was there to cover it too. It’s cool to finally meet these excellent scribes and bloggers. Other netizens with online journals were on hand to interview and report about the event, as well.

Screenwriter-playwright Mario O’Hara arrived a little late, but was much appreciated and was generous with his answers. The bloggers and the cast members asked him about Insiang’s translation and re-translation through the years, and he was quite funny and candid with his thoughts. Later, when asked if he has current projects as director, he just replied, “Tamad akong direktor; sinisipag lang ako kapag wala akong pera!”

Tanghalang Pilipino’s Insiang is directed by Chris Millado and stars Ricky Davao, Mailes Kanapi, Sheenly Vee Gener (as Insiang), Mae Paner, Peewee O’Hara, Paolo O’Hara, McDonnel Bolanos, Roeder Camanag, Paolo Rodriguez, Vanni Liwanag, Jun Bueta, and Acey Aguilar.

Catch it on October 6, 7, 12, 13, and 14 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater). Insiang tackles mature subject matter, and has strong language and brief nudity, so parental discretion is advised. Tickets are priced at P700 and P500. For show details, visit the official website or call 5210412.

Radio Goo-Goo

It’s strange that the cab I rode was tuned in to Jam 88.3. The pa-baduyan radio craze hasn’t gotten to the driver, it seems, and it was surprising to hear Tori Amos’ new song (the one with the “M-I-L-F, don’t you forget!” line) playing instead of some distressingly loud deejays from the now-leading kadyut-pangga stations. Oh, and last week, it was also unusual that a jeep’s dial was glued to the reformatted Joey, which was playing trance at the time, much to my and two young people’s delight.

Growing up, I listened to WKC, which was also baduy to some people back then. The attraction to me was the collection of cartoony sounding characters that accompanied the deejays during “Joke Time” segments. American Top 40 was a show that I followed religiously over that station too. But I also listened to WTM, which had 12-Inch Sunday and Friday Magic Madness. It kept claiming to be “The Number One Pop Music Station” during the time.

In college, I listened to RT and BM (rest in peace, dear new wave station), a time when I’d fall in love with music that flavored that special time of my life. LA, NU and K-Lite were my post-college companions, stations that also played some of my fave songs.

I rarely listen to the radio now, but I do keep track of some artists that I see on the music channels and the net. Things have changed and I’m exposed to more types of music, but I never tire of those songs I find instant rapports with. The old turntable broke over a decade ago; my old radio and Walkman are mostly broken now, too, but the music lives on in other formats. The radio star can never truly be “killed,” after all.

But I still wish that more drivers listened to the stations that I like.

Multiple Man

Ellinstrove Market. I drew this as part of some comic book submission samples way back. Check out my Multiply site for other drawings, pics and articles.

Showing Some Initiative

Avengers- The Initiative by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli is currently the best Avengers book out there. Yes, there are a few ‘A’-titles and spinoffs being published by Marvel, but this stands out as the superhero book that has ample doses of drama, mystery, slugfests, and it respects established continuity, which is definitely a plus. Five issues into Initiative, the definition of real heroism is dissected, as new and old superhumans are molded into super-soldiers in the post-Civil War landscape.

Those missing the long-absent Young Avengers book will find the newbie Initiative recruits easily fill that void, that characters like Trauma, Cloud 9, Komodo, MVP and Hardball are just as interesting and enigmatic as the YA team when they started out. Veteran Avengers such as War Machine, Justice, Yellowjacket, Triathlon, drill sergeant Gauntlet, former X-Man Dani Moonstar, and former Liaison Henry Gyrich are also learning that teaching these registered adventurers hero ethics doesn’t always prepare them for the various deadly menaces that plague them. Characters from old Marvel books make appearances (as squad members and instructors) so it doesn’t get boring at all. The big ensemble reflects the title’s scope, and presents more sources of conflict than the regular team book.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Round Here We Talk Just Like Lions

Yesterday I felt mostly great. I had a good day; it was productive and I was glad to meet up and chat with old and new friends. But just as it was ending, the feeling of giddiness had to change. Feelings totally unconnected to the events from earlier surfaced, and the dreariness felt really awful.

I tore and crumpled sketches I was doing. The muse just wasn’t there, so I didn’t bother doing it again. I tear and crumple illustrations I’m not happy with, yeah, but there was some rage in doing so last night.

I couldn’t sleep, not while feeling that way, and I couldn’t scream it out because I’d wake up the freaking neighbors. But I had to do something to dislodge the heaviness I was feeling. I felt like clawing at my own skin, but that would’ve ended up messily.

I pulled out an old comics catalog and tore out thick sections into pieces. I pulled out toy package boards and ripped ‘em into shreds. Some were actually hard to destroy because they had plastic glued on them. My heart was beating real fast at this point. I surveyed my room, picked up a pen, and snapped it in two. I’d have broken furniture, but most of them looked and felt broken anyway.

If I had a punching bag, my hands would be bruised and broken right now. I’d have pictured the faces of everyone who ever wronged me on it. I stopped and sat down, still appalled, but feeling slightly better. I had to release it, somehow. It shows that I’m still in control, though, since I didn’t break anything of real value. The feeling of being gypped, of being devalued, lingered. But as I was able to act out my grief, I was more conscious of my rapid heartbeat, so I began calming down.

I’ve always been in touch with my emotions, which has been both good and bad. I’d have exploded, or imploded, if I just tried to cram it down and hold it in. that’s why I’m amazed that some people can be so removed from their emotions altogether.

Oh well, woke up feeling a little better. Will play my loud, angry music now, and exorcise these feelings.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

In the Daze of the Why


That’s from Irredeemable Antman by Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester. I’ve read 11 of 12 issues, so far. Well, it’s typically Kirkman, in that it’s wry and unconventional. It centers on an opportunistic SHIELD agent, Eric O’Grady, who steals an experimental Antman suit… actually, he pries it off his dead best friend, who was killed in a supervillain attack. Not long after, he takes advantage of his dead friend’s grieving girlfriend by being a shoulder to cry on. He sleeps with her eventually, then ditches her, just like that. What a jerk.

Just like some real people.

Hanging Out With the Drama King

Lazy Sunday afternoon, so I’m just tuning out work and rediscovering old songs through CDs and tapes stacked haphazardly in my room. Like in an older post, “Fool for Love,” I can actually narrow down the songs that best connect with me, but unlike the old entry, this isn’t just a soundtrack that fits my love life. It’s a compact list of the songs that best describe aspects of my life. So generally, it’s the soundtrack of my life, my damn drama, and my thoughts on some bonds that aren’t necessarily romantic.

I’ve never been one to take crap from people, but I’m far from the epitome of balance and perfection. I need to change for the better too. I’ve always known that. And these songs reflect, and remind me of my continuous search for contentment and meaning. I’m sure I’ll hear more songs that connect, but for now, and as a whole, this rundown is quite accurate.

1. What Do You Hear In These Sounds- Dar Williams
“Oh how I loved everybody else, when I finally got to talk so much about myself.”

2. Ghosts-Dirty Vegas
“All I ever wanted was a chance to make it real.”

3. London Rain- Heather Nova
“When somebody needs you, well, there’s no drug like that.”

4. Walk Down The Road- Cynthia Alexander
“I look up at the sky. Now I know why.”

5. The Heart of the Matter- Don Henley
“You better put it all behind you, ‘cause life goes on.”

6. Saturday Night, Sunday Morning- River Detectives
“Where do you go when your love is dying? How do you stop yourself from crying?”

7. Proud to Fall- Ian McCulloch
“From start to finish, I was proud to fall.”

8. Me- Paula Cole
"I'm scared as hell but I know there’s something better.”

9. Both Sides Now- Joni Mitchell
“Something’s lost but something’s gained in living everyday.”

10. Collide- Howie Day
“Even the best fall down some time, even the wrong words seem to rhyme.”

11. Talking To My Angel- Melissa Etheridge
“I sold my soul for freedom. It’s lonely but it’s sweet.”

12. I’ll Follow the Sun- The Beatles
“And though I’ll lose a friend, in the end you will know.”

13. Gypsy- Suzanne Vega
"Please do not ever look for me but with me you will stay."

14. Full of Grace- Sarah McLachlan
“I know I can love you much better than this.”

15. These are Days- 10,000 Maniacs
“You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.”

16. Windmills- Toad the Wet Sprocket
“I spent too much time seeking shelter.”

17. Good Mother- Jann Arden
“I’ve got money in my pocket. I like the color of my hair. I’ve got a friend who loves me.”

18. Head Over Feet- Alanis Morissette
“You are the bearer of unconditional things.”

19. Idlip- Imago
“In the arms of make-believe, sleep will set you free.”

20. Mystery- Indigo Girls
“There must be a thousand things you would die for. I can hardly think of two.”

21. Hallelujah- Jeff Buckley
“All I ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.”

22. Not Myself- John Mayer
“Suppose I said, you’re my saving grace?”

23. Honey Be Good- The Bible
“If you can’t be good, be good at being bad.”

24. Life Uncommon- Jewel
“No longer lend our strength to that which we wish to be free from.”

25. 29- Gin Blossoms
“At 29 you’d think I’d know better, living like a kid.”

26. Love Shines- Live
“Like an eternal sun, it shines.”

27. Dear God- Midge Ure
“Is there somebody watching over the mess that we made? We’re lost and alone and afraid.”

28. Everybody Hurts- REM
“Sometimes everything is wrong.”

29. Crucify- Tori Amos
“I’ve been raising up my hands, drive another nail in… got enough guilt to start my own religion.”

30. Here’s Where The Story Ends- Sundays
“It’s that little souvenir of a colorful year that makes me smile inside.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Strongest Morphine

There are days when you just don’t think about it. Or at least, not too much.

Love can be the best thing. When you wake up, the face or name of that special person you singled out may be the first thing that registers in your head. It can be more than one name or one face, actually, because the term can be loosely defined these days, and romance isn’t always necessarily about exclusivity in some cases.

You want to be better in every possible way, even when you know that you’re accepted and adored just as you are. You learn to give without expecting anything in return, and stretch past your limits, but don’t mind at all, because you’re after your partner’s happiness. You hope, and you brave the unknown together, because there’s that understood arrangement, a deal that didn’t require too many words. You speak your own language, move to the beat of your own drum, surrender repeatedly to reach that ecstatic spasm. The world doesn’t exist for you in those pure, powerful moments and understandably so.

But things change. Your life changes. You don’t see the old things the same way, but know that some bonds are just unbreakable. That’s no excuse to take them for granted, but you do, anyway. It may be because of that new world you’re excitedly discovering, or the alluring new obsessions that presented themselves to you. You realize that you’re the now-or-never type, a person who knows how being deprived feels, so you make up for lost time. You don’t think about love. You feel it, or you assume you do, but you do get confused sometimes. So you try not to think about it. At least, not too much.

But when you feel your life spinning out of control, you do wait for someone to step up and become what you need. Sometimes there’s that need to just lose yourself in others, to give yourself a better perspective. Or just, you know, to get off. You’re not proud of it, although in some cases, you may be, but you live for the moment that way and you’re not thinking of love at all. You get conflicting signals, and you send some too, you have to admit. You don’t believe that you’re this way because your zodiac sign, or the palm reader, said so. But you find it funny that their descriptions of you, and your relations, are uncannily true.

You still believe in love, even when some events have made you a little cynical. You’re happy for those new lovers you see, but you’re wondering how they’ll fare after just a few years together. You also wonder how those you’ve slept with are doing, sometimes, so you check up on some of them through their floating journals or profile pages. You try to understand why they need to return to some semblance of ordinariness, and you do, eventually. You understand how to love just a person’s body, or company, during those fleeting minutes you’re intimately and dangerously close.

You remember falling in love more than once, but even when you acknowledge that some things aren’t the same anymore and there’s no turning back, you rediscover those old bonds. You change, you try to be more giving, and don't think about the eventual disagreements. True love, you know now, is total acceptance and sacrifice. But you don’t really care about the definitions too much. You’re just glad that you know when it’s there and how to give it.

You worry about the future, like you worry about everything else, but the happy endings will come. Just don’t think about it too much.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Only Stops Along My Way


Almost every day for the past week, I only had about four to five hours sleep. Body clock’s outta whack again, but I’ve stayed ruminative like I was for the most of August. My head’s busy juggling priorities; it’s done a good job of separating work from recreation, so far. But it’s also dissecting and analyzing recent and current experiences, trying to figure out the roots and effects of decisions I’ve made, or have yet to make.

Looking back at my archived entries, I noticed how different things were for me professionally and personally when the year started. I can say with certainty that it’s been strange. And interesting. And humbling. And bittersweet.

I’ve seen friendships evolve into things more than bargained for; I’ve gone through the different stages of grief; I owned up to mistakes made and tried to be the better man. I felt loved, loathed, adored, ignored; I got over things and people and moved on, maybe a little wiser. I gave, and was selfish. I’m learning to let things go, and to stay emotionally detached from some things that have become obsessions. I get blasé at certain times, and hypersensitive during others. I’m impatient but the epitome of contentment at once. That’s how mixed-up it was for the last two months.

I think, at certain points, I feel like I’m still in school. You still try to take everything in simultaneously. The backdrops have changed, but somehow, there are things that remain the same. I still feel insecure sometimes, and my confidence just inexplicably vanishes when I’m faced with some quandaries. You also get to meet the same characters all over again, only older and better-dressed: the kindred misfits, the quiet martyrs, and the condescending, conceited brats, among other archetypes.

But it’s also different, sluts with standards notwithstanding. Like everyone else, I can speak up now. I can do things that I never imagined doing when I was young. I don’t really care about belonging, anymore. The divisions between the cliques have blurred, and real fellowship now comes in myriad manifestations. I build for my future, and that means that I’m in that endless cycle of proving myself. The stakes are higher; the drama’s more difficult to escape. But I remind myself that that’s just the way it is.

Someone asked me, about seven years ago, if I felt happy with my life. I hesitated to answer, but I remember replying in the affirmative. The hesitation gave away the truth, though. Well, I was in a totally different place and state of mind then. But now, despite all the emotional crap that I’m going through, I can say, without any hesitation whatsoever, that yeah, I’m really happy. I know how happiness feels. I’m living my life by being true to myself.

God, I so need to sleep.