Tuesday, January 29, 2008

That Great Look In Your Eyes

I really like this song by The Silencers. I’ve liked it since 1991, about three months before new wave station BMFM aired its last song. I remember preparing to leave for school one day, but I stopped and sat down to listen to it when it started playing. The janglepop-y guitar parts felt hypnotic and soothing, and the opening lines called to me.

A friend was able to find me a clear copy and he included that in a mix CD, many years later. It’s always been a song whose meaning I feel every time I hear it, aptly evolving to fit the people I fancy. In other words, this is one of the songs that actually grew with me. And I still listen to it.

Back when I first started blogging three years ago, I posted the lyrics and highlighted certain words in color, like so.

The Silencers

Well I want to paint your picture
With that great look in your
And I want to write a
song so gentle
It could make you

I want the world and all its charms
nothing else will do
And hey
I want you

Well I want a roaring city
And I want a
healing sun
And I want a
magic wilderness where
We could be any

I want the world and all its charms
nothing else will do
And hey

I want you

I want you

Well I want to be your soldier
And I want to be your
And I want to be your
dancing fool
And dance you till
the end

I want the world and all its charms
nothing else will do
And hey
want you


This appeared as part of Pam’s “Comfort Zone” spread in PDI-Super last Saturday. I was among 31 people whose pics were used. The photos had to answer the question, “What is comfort for you?”

“I like reading comics while eating yummy but unhealthy food, or guzzling cold beer with my back to the shower.” –Oliver M. Pulumbarit, word pimp, art merc, freelance lover

Heh. I had a bunch of answers in mind, but those were among the mentionable, printable ones. I did the beer thing a total of twice, during my alcoholidaze. Sorry for the mental image. My mom mentioned seeing this picture and I just nervously smiled. The pic was shrunk to about a fifth of the original size, like some of the others in the spread. Had to buy extra copies later (well, I don’t have my pic on the paper everyday), and interestingly, not every copy is as clear as the first one I got. One version didn’t have the colors properly aligned so it had me looking all smudgy and cartoony, heehee. The others were good copies, though.

Thanks to the Super peeps for including this pic, and to Benedicky for taking it

Friday, January 25, 2008

Finite Sadness

The first time I remember feeling really sad was when I was 12.

I think, at that point, I felt that way because the only friend I had suddenly left for another school. I liked that classmate; he was someone who’d read my old comic books, and sometimes, he’d even act out the characters’ voices. We’d draw heroes and monsters too, and I noticed that he really tried hard to make his own figures on paper, even when they looked kinda funky. He was left-handed, which looked to my 12-year-old eyes like he was straining himself too hard. I didn’t consider other classmates as close, and when he vanished, I missed him for a while. I forgot about him eventually, a few months later.

That was the catalyst, I think, that made me really aware of my emotions. I felt so alone at times during that period, that I’d just feign sickness and stay home. School was deathly boring, too, and I didn’t have any friends among my classmates. As a boy and as a teen, I didn’t open up to my parents because I felt like I was gonna burden them with how I felt. I didn’t want that, also because they were preoccupied with my younger siblings. So there I was, setting the good example, always the good brother, always a kid that people thought highly of. I’d lose myself in my drawings, in the comic books and toys I owned, in the songs that felt so welcoming. But I always felt alone.

Of course, I’ve gained some true friendships along the way, through the years. Religion became useful to me, too, but I didn’t realize then that it was just a crutch. Whenever I felt sad because of one thing or another, I didn’t know how to express it, and this feeling often mutated into anger. I didn’t blame my family for anything. I just felt inadequate or unwanted sometimes, which is pretty normal, I suppose. I was able to suppress a lot of things, though, because I thought that other people probably have worse things to worry about. Still, I knew that my emotions and dissatisfaction were valid.

Maybe I talk about this now because a friend told me about that 12-year-old kid in the US who hanged herself. She felt terribly insecure and was picked on. It’s truly tragic. Growing up, I never felt liked. I never felt like I was part of something important. I wanted to belong and feel some sense of accomplishment. I abhorred the cool, confident kids. Well, I actually secretly liked some of them too. But I also thought that deep down, most of them were stupid.

Did I feel like ending it all when things got bad, back then? Sometimes, yes. I’ll admit that much. But I always found a silver lining, and reasons to go on.

I lightened up and changed, eventually. I discarded religion eventually, too. That sounds easy but it wasn’t. It was really tough, sometimes, but I didn’t feel happy with it. The unspoken pressure to be the ideal brother was gone, too, so I didn’t feel like I was setting a bad example. Besides, I assume my siblings know why I’m this way--restless and headstrong--and they respect my space.

During some of my “dark 20s” days, I’d just feel like I was going through all sorts of crap, and it was my friends who’d remind me to be strong. My mom was there to talk to as well, the few times when I felt I couldn’t hold it in any longer. And for that, I’m really grateful to them. I’m doing my damnedest not to tear up right now.

As a grownup, I try to be more sensitive to others’ needs. I still feel bad, occasionally, because I’m far from perfect. It’s not often, but when I feel that way these days, or when I feel like I failed some people, my chest hurts. It’s brief, but it does. I don’t really whine about it. I just shut up, and try to clear my head. And exhale.

Anyway, the sadness disappears, too. I’ve felt and known true happiness. I still do. I’ve earned some rewards, and share what I can. I don’t try to justify my failures, at least most of the time. I don’t believe in the zodiac, but it’s funny that I’m a Scorpio through and through. Well, I’m just what I am. So few people get that, but I’m glad that I don’t have to conform to anyone’s imagined template of me.

Yeah, blogging as therapy. An actual shrink might want me to figure it all out by myself, anyway. Abandonment issues, feelings of insecurity, my goddamn drama… they all started when I was 12.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Gay Dads, Back Issues

I just read about the struggles of some twentysomething gay dads in an old issue of The Advocate that I bought at Book Sale a few days ago. It’s been a while since I read an issue, and I’m glad to have discovered it, along with four informative TV Guide back issues that sold for P5 each. The P10 Advocate mag, dated May 8, 2007, was still in near-perfect condition, and features Rebecca Romijn, who plays Ugly Betty’s transsexual character, on the cover.

One article details the stories of the aforementioned homosexual couples raising kids. I felt quite sad at the part where one young father, John Lawrimore, talked about a custody battle that turned nasty.

“The lowest point was when the lawyer used unfounded statistics about gay men sexually abusing children. It’s the worst level of hatred I’ve ever encountered.”

After solid testimonials from teachers and child care providers, the judge ruled in his favor and allowed his two young sons to stay with him. He and his partner are now raising them.

“I’d been forcing myself to be something I wasn’t,” Lawrimore said of his time with his ex-wife, the boys’ mother. “I was deathly afraid of being gay and how it would affect my sons.”

In another moving article, the cover story with Romijn, the gay-friendly actress talked about being pro-same-sex marriage (among other things):

“What’s the problem? That’s my big question. Unless people are being forced to marry, why should anybody have a problem? If two people love each other, they should have absolutely the same rights as anyone else who loves each other.”

I’m still reading the magazine. Filmmaker Q. Allan Brocka had a fun, revealing column about an African adventure, too.

The Advocate is great. I know they have a website, which I rarely visit these days, but I’d also like to own and reread copies whenever I feel like it. Must go to a nearby Book Sale soon and look for more back issues.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Magic Reset Button

I’ve seen much reality-altering lately, from the derided sudden dissolution of Peter and Mary Jane Parker’s marriage to the enjoyable time-jumping missions of Dan Vasser in Journeyman. Also, a book Dicky lent me recently, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, had a character that was able to change reality instantly.

But back to Spidey and Mary Jane.

Much has been said about the controversial “One More Day” arc in the Spider-Man titles, where the hero makes a deal with Mephisto to save the life of his Aunt May. Admittedly, reading readers’ reactions and the involved creators’ explanations has been quite amusing. I don’t doubt that the whole situation’ll be retconned someday a la the “Clone Saga,” but for now, Pete’s single again, broke, and has kept his costumed identity a secret. Mephisto, instead of taking his soul, took his marriage to MJ (and the memory of it), instead. Wow.

I really dislike that everything was magicked away just like that. It was yet another example of fixing something that’s not broken, of returning to a status quo that had run its course back in the ‘80s. I liked that Peter and MJ belonged with each other, and that his superheroic life was something that she accepted, something that she and May eventually became proud of. The rush to undo and erase that relationship, along with other significant changes like the Civil War unmasking, was just laughable.

The characters should’ve just divorced. At least they’d have moved on to new chapters of their lives naturally. Sure, there’s baggage, but dealing with and surviving it has always been what Peter Parker’s about. It would’ve been an eye-opening acknowledgement of failure, a mature step that would allow them to develop separately. The magic quick fix just came out of left field, and is just insulting to those who followed the character’s mythology grow and evolve gradually all these years. How this affects Peter’s relationship with his trusted Avengers teammates is also unclear, because it’s doubtful that it’ll be addressed soon.

But again, I’m confident that some future creative team will restore what was voided out of existence. Maybe Mary Jane will be back for good one day, along with their long-lost baby, rescued from the clutches of Norman Osborn. Maybe the characters will realize how selfish and idiotic that drastic reality change was. Maybe Peter Parker will finally get to the next phase of his everyguy life, and accept the burdens that come with it.

I’m not holding my breath. But it’s just a matter of time. Things’ll be back to normal, however that word’s defined in Spidey’s world.


TV Therapy

I‘ve come to the realization that almost every TV show that I really liked had at least one character that I could really relate to. These days, I can say with certainty that I can identify with Party of Five’s Bailey Salinger. In Queer As Folk, I think I relate most with Hal Sparks’ comics-loving character Michael Novotny, who’s always been drawn to the smart, free-spirited and (supposedly) unattainable ones. In Buffy, the closest characters with kindred personalities would be geeks Willow and Xander. I couldn’t identify with bad boy Spike at all, except when he was tamed in the final season, and specifically in the scene in “Touched” where he’s declaring his feelings for Buffy with complete clarity:

“I've been alive a bit longer than you, and dead a lot longer than that. I've seen things you couldn't imagine, and done things I prefer you didn't. I don't exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood, which doesn't exactly rush in the direction of my brain. So I make a lot of mistakes, a lot of wrong bloody calls. A hundred-plus years, and there's only one thing I've ever been sure of. You.”

Love that speech. But wait, there’s more:

”I'm not asking you for anything. When I say, 'I love you,’ it's not because I want you, or because I can't have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I've seen your kindness and your strength. I've seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are.”

Awww. That was so sweet. Strangely, I can also relate to some of the more amoral characters like Amanda Woodward, Titus Pullo and Brian Kinney, in their respective shows. I love hating them, but there are those rare occasions when they say things, do deeds or react to situations in familiar ways. It’s a little scary, but also enlightening when those connections happen.

Ah, television. It’s one of my valued shrinks, too.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Life As Ya Know It

“Sometimes I feel like I know too much and sometimes I feel like I don’t know nothing at all.”

Always loved that line from Patti Scialfa’s “Rumble Doll.” As a blogger for three years now, I’ve treaded that line that many fellow cyberspace venters do. I talk about those things that are closest to me, the things that I can freely and easily discuss. But I’m also still learning minute mechanics about a lot of things along the way, even on a subconscious level. Mostly, it just feels good to just say what I want, even when nobody’s really paying attention.

It’s not that I’m trying to satisfy the desires of my inner, closeted attention whore--oh yeah, we all have that--it’s just liberating to discuss the merits and/or suckiness of daily life and the pop culture items du jour. And I’m nothing if not opinionated.

I’m pleased by the fact that we can speak freely in our own soapboxes or editorials. I’m also still amused and impressed by people who can really open up and talk about the nooks and crannies of their lives.* I can only share so much, as I don’t feel comfortable opening up totally in such an open venue, nor can I fully disclose details about certain experiences, which are often shared with people who value their privacy.

That doesn’t mean I don’t allude to those experiences or feelings, so I just find ways to work them into the posts. And blogging has helped me identify and put into words things and behavior (mine and others’) that I don’t understand. It’s been therapeutic, and has made me answer some of my own questions. Well, I’ll keep writing and reading, and valuing the words and thoughts of those that, in my humble opinion, inspire me to keep sharing my own in my floating spaces.

- - - - - -

* through topics including, but not limited to, awesome one-night stand hookups, the unsightly “cobwebs” up someone’s nose, the desire to inflict pain on some deserving bastard’s face, the desire to get your perineum chewed on soon, your fixation with boobs, things you want to do to that hot priest, the details of unusual bowel movement, and so on.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Future is Wow

Panel Panache

Still sort of a yearender post, but it works pretty well as a new year entry too. Some of these comics weren’t necessarily released during that span, but I read them within the year, anyway:

I loved Avengers Initiative, Walking Dead, She-Hulk (Dan Slott’s run), New Warriors (whoa, depowered X-Men!), 52, Birds of Prey (Simone and Bedard’s issues), JSA, New X-Men (finally!), All-Star Superman, Annihilation: Starlord, Modok’s 11, Dr. Strange: The Oath, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Nightwing Annual # 2 (the Dick and Babs ish), Deadpool-GLI, X-Men (Carey’s good), Astonishing X-Men (Yay, Cyke and Emma!), Ares, World War Hulk, Pride of Baghdad, X-Factor, JLA (McDuffie’s issues), Exiles (Bedard), Cable-Deadpool, Irredeemable Antman, and all the Marvel Handbooks.

The okay ones: New Avengers, Thunderbolts (but I still don’t like Penance), Justice (er, nice art!), World War Hulk: Frontline, Astounding Wolfman, Illuminati (except # 3), Angel: After the Fall (except for the art), Runaways, Mighty Avengers, Avengers Classics, Astro City- The Dark Age (Book Two), Thor, Black Adam, JLA (Meltzer’s run), The Immortal Iron Fist, Nova and Civil War Frontline.

Things I really disliked: The rushed and silly Civil War ending, the Beyonder retcon in Illuminati (he’s a what, now ?!), Amazons Attack, World War III, the pointless Countdown tie-ins, the impending massive retcon via the Skrull invasion, the delayed ending of Wonder Woman’s first arc, still no monthly Young Avengers, the ending of Loners, the current Legion version, and the long wait between Astonishing X-Men issues.

Hope there’ll be more great comic books and less tedious ones this year. Hmm. I’ve been reading about protests over Spider-Man’s One More Day arc. Must read that soon!

Dried Pretty

Literate and infectious, Mozzie’s music is that rare marriage of reflective content and technical soundness, so yeah, the group sounds great while sending different messages and telling stories.

The indie band’s debut recording, the “Dried to Pseudo-Perfection” EP, audibly shows focus and cohesion, reflecting Mozzie’s solidly executed songs during live performances. Skillful instrumentation and introspective lyrics characterize all seven originals, most of which sound like a frictionless locking of angry ‘90s rocker chick sensibilities with contemporary alt-pop bounce.

There’s self-awareness in the tempo-shifting “Reckless,” a ditty that speaks of growing up and losing some direction along the way (“Ten years ago I seemed so promising/ ten years ago I was so innocent/ Now I’m just tired/ so tired”). Another track, “Shut It,” whose upbeat pacing and structure sounds inspired by early No Doubt, tackles hurtful and hard-to-ignore brickbats. The similarly catchy (and definitely self-aware) “Bolgia Six,” meanwhile, asks, “Aren’t we all just hypocrites/ for never admitting to be one?” It recognizes the failure of the judgmental to look at their own lamentable mistakes.

Relevance hasn’t been a problem, thanks to the songwriting. “Ugliest” and “Face for Sale” apparently share lines and thoughts about cosmetic beauty, but are two distinct pieces. The former self-deprecatingly muses about unconditional love (“You loved me at my ugliest!”), while the latter discusses vanity and one’s seemingly perpetual desire to be “perfect.”

The various subjects shape different moods each time. “Starfucker” indignantly exposes a has-been child star’s present-day misadventures, stanzas periodically and eerily building up to an aptly loud catharsis. And speaking of grownup issues, the simpler lyriced “So Bad” may not possess the clever wordplay worked into the other songs, but its starkness effectively and entrancingly conveys longing. It also prominently features the vocalist’s range and emotional verve, further lending the words sincerity and substance.

It may not be suitable for really young listeners, for obvious reasons, but the 20- and 30-somethings have a lot to relate to in “Dried to Pseudo-Perfection.” Some of the songs celebrate femininity, while others are universally relatable confessions. Collectively wise and honest, the material in the EP heralds good things to come. It would be interesting to hear one or two original Tagalog songs in the upcoming album, as well.

Make it happen, Mozzie.