Thursday, March 27, 2008

30 Rocked (Or, 'Sun Like Butterscotch')

“Hello older Oliver. It’s me, when you were 30. This is a dream isn’t it? I can actually remember you visiting when I was younger, and some time last year. This is weird. A déjà vu inside a dream? But I’ve heard of stranger things. Anyway, you were right! I’m actually happier and more content now. It’s hard to believe that this time last year, I felt like giving up. Now, everything’s brighter. You know how it is. Or was. I normally wouldn’t look into the future, it scares me and all, but since I’m asking you, in this place, tell me: Does the story have a happy ending? Does life get better? Do you have everything you need?”

Hello younger Oliver. Ooh, questions. Ask me some easy ones. Because those really aren’t. Wait, on second thought, don’t bother, because I’m taking control of this “conversation.”

Well, I’m actually tired tonight. My eyes hurt. So does my back. Busy as the proverbial bee. I like what I’m doing, but there are times when I need to rest my weary head, you know? You know what I’m talking about. I’ve been using my pimping “voice” more than my critiquing and reporting “voices” these past few days, and it does get a little tiring. But, you know, doing press release work, aside from reviews and the occasional feature articles, keeps me on my toes. You like sorting out those words in your head, stringing them together like unraveling a puzzle, and making them make sense.

I miss being the author, though. You’re currently using that side of you, with the comic book. You’re finally finishing the story you started in 2001.

I remember how you’re feeling. I remember being a 30-year-old quite clearly. I remember getting busy. I remember the endless summer nights, the heat of summer sunshine, the summer loving.

I remember being you.

Looking at you, I’d say you’re already getting the hang of covering press conferences at ELJ and other places. Karen Davila wondered how old you were, in one of those events. You hesitantly said, “Um, I just turned 30,” and she replied, “Really? I thought you were in your early 20s.”

And do you remember Baron Geisler shyly asking you, when you were interviewing his soap co-stars, if you’re part of the cast? Of course you do. Well, 30-year-old me, you’re less bulky than I am, so I guess you could pass for one of them back then.

Interacting with celebrities rarely daunts you, but you still gush from time to time. I know I still do, especially when I step back and realize that I’ve asked actors, directors, writers, musicians, animators and illustrators some of my questions. So whether it’s a phoner, a roundtable interview, or some exclusive one-on-one thing, you do pick up new things and learn about new experiences.

Yep, right now, you’ve already talked to some of them, and gotten all those interesting perspectives. I can say that the future list is made up of some really different people (Jojo Alejar, Gil Portes, Robert Alejandro, Roger Pullin, Dolphy, Tessa Valdes, Martin Nievera, Johnny Manahan, Charlene Gonzalez, Tessie Tomas, Serena Dalrymple, Elizabeth Oropesa, Jerry Lopez-Sineneng, DJ Alvaro, Dov Simens, Bituin Escalante, Rica Peralejo, Dimsum, Heart Evangelista, Cris Pablo, Piolo Pascual, King, Lauren Dyogi, Jamie Cullum, Smash!!, Akafellas, Joey Reyes, North, Jay-R, 8th of March, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Kitchie Nadal, Gini Cruz Santos, Diane Warren, George Eads, Nina, Isha, Paolo Santos, Joshua Payne, Andoy Ranay, T-Rio, Carlos Morales, Simple Plan’s Jeff Stinco, Simon Kinberg, Avril Lavigne, The Speaks, Margie Holmes, Rex Navarrete, Emmy Rossum, The Cascades’ John Gummoe, Nelson Bohol, Jeffrey Jeturian, Margaret Nagle, Village People, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Brittany Murphy, Iza Calzado, Paolo Contis, Isabel Oli, Dingdong Dantes, Patrick Ramos, Bharat Nalluri, Callalily, Bimbo Cerrudo, Imago, Timothy Olyphant, Sir Cliff Richard, Zack Snyder, Ziggy Marley, Ian Tracey, David Fincher, Imee Marcos, Raymond Red, Francis Lumen, Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary, Zack Grobler, Steve Starkey, Sam Rockwell, Mozzie, Gerry Alanguilan, Carlo Vergara, Harvey Tolibao, Carlo Pagulayan, Wilson Tortosa, Paolo Bediones, Lorraine Bracco, and Colbie Caillat).

But, just as important are the persons you spoke with and written about during your coverage work for the agencies. You’ve talked to--and will be talking to--different kinds of working people. There will be real estate salespeople, a jeweler, a golf champ, a chef, a badminton player, a party host, different types of homeowners, sports shop owners, architects, school administrators, a yoga instructor, pest control technicians, engineers, and yeah, celebs (like Tina Juan, Jon Santos, Tin-Tin Bersola, Eileen Macapagal, Ruffa Gutierrez, Sam Oh, Rivermaya, Nancy Castiglione, Angel Jacob, Gerald Anderson, Kim Chiu, Marc Abaya, Brad Turvey, Uma Khouny, RJ Ledesma and Chynna Ortaleza).

Anyway, let me answer some of the questions. You won’t remember this anyway.

I don’t know if your story has a happy ending. But you’re happy now, and I suppose that’s what matters. Three years later, you’ll realize again that you’re lucky, that you’re thankful for what you have. But that comes after some unforeseen funks. You’ll think of ways to escape the monotony, to escape feeling burnt out. Still, you’ll recover from them rather quickly.

Don’t take your friends for granted. They’re showing you how to be a better person, and to be better at all the things you do. You’re already learning so much from them. I still am. They’re some of the wisest, most analytical people you’ll ever meet.

Life gets better, yes. I don’t have everything I need, yet, but I do have some of the things I want.

You already know what I mean.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

You Are My Sweetest Downfall

I loved you first.

I loved you first.

--Regina Spektor, "Samson"

Yes, you're my sweetest downfall. And I loved you first.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Need a Fix ‘Coz I’m Going Down

Summer’s here! The Holy Week break means I’m gonna be working on a total of about six articles for the agencies and publications. But I ain’t complaining. The year started slowly, work-wise, so it’s good to look forward to getting paid for all these. I need a change of pace, though, and some cold mojitos or vodka cruisers.

Haven’t gotten the chance to blog about stuff in detail, but here are some thoughts and observations that I just need to enumerate, before I forget:

1. Attended the Colbie Caillat presscon for a music mag. She’s great. And she really does look like Jennifer Aniston; the resemblance is damn uncanny.

2. Went to SM City Pampanga to cover a program last week. Seeing the green fields en route to the place was refreshing. The mall, well, if you’ve seen one SM, I suppose you’ve seen ‘em all. And the Fitness First there isn’t packed with people yet… From the spot I was staying, I only saw one person treadmilling the whole afternoon.

3. Saw Viggo Mortensen’s nekkid fight scene in Eastern Promises. Just one question: why didn’t his would-be killers just kick him in the nuts?

4. The Watchmen movie pics look really awesome. But I don’t get the Bat-nipples on Ozymandias’ costume. But again, since it’s the Watchmen, their inclusion must be deliberate. I hope it’s not an oversight.

5. Was kinda stunned by the violence in Urbandub’s “Evidence” music. Iza Calzado plays a wife who cheats with a guy (the bald Eigenmann kid). They’re caught by the husband (the vocalist guy), who whacks ‘em both unflinchingly. Really fricking bloody, but it has good photography.

6. Ants invaded my plastic bag of groceries and tore holes into some instant noodle packs. Craaaap. But I put them in the ref. The noodles will be enriched with red ants when I cook ‘em.

7. Globe’s service has been problematic lately. There were times these past few days when I couldn’t send messages or call people. It gets better after a while, but it’s becoming a recurring problem. Hope they fix that soon.

8. Been listening and singing along to the Across The Universe soundtrack, a new mix CD, my old Tori Amos CD “Little Earthquakes” and something I just bought, the kickass Regina Spektor album “Begin To Hope.”

9. Fell in and out of love with Choco Mucho. It’s like a longer Safari. Must try out other chocolates, now.

10. Got a cool beer band from Pam. “Hammered,” it says. Yay!

11. Saw Across the Universe again, this time with John. I still love it. Coocoo Coochoo!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Noah’s Spark

I met up with Mark hours ago at a nearby Shakey’s. Nike, cute li’l Noah and Nike’s mom were there, too. I expected to leave quickly ‘cause I just needed to get some reference material for work. But they asked me to stay a bit. Gorgeous Nike had interesting things to say, particularly about my old comic book. Well, she said she was kinda shocked when she flipped through the pages (“May moaning pa!”). This was years back, shortly after its release, when Dicky sold Mark a copy and I didn’t know him yet. It’s been a while since I heard people’s reactions to it, so it was amusing to hear her talk about it.

Noah’s so adorable. I sort of babysat him for a few minutes. He wanted to try out those little car rides at the kids’ play area after eating. I carried him outta his high chair, he tugged me by my index finger and excitedly rushed to the place. It’s been some time since I was the babysitting uncle and I kinda miss it. He saw some coin slots near the cartoony car’s steering wheel and told me, “Orever! Money!”

It was cool when his mom asked him to say a bunch of things too, including “Tito Oliver, you’re so funny!” He mumbled the words, “Orever, so funny,” pointed at his dad, and laughed mockingly. I don’t get it, it felt a little sarcastic with the laughter and all, but it was so, so cute.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Face To Face

My interpretation of my friend Isha's face. I used gel pens. Check out my art blog for other drawings in the set.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Buffy’s New Chosen One

I really need to sleep, my Christmas tree’s still up on my shelf, and I need to wake up early. But I gotta post about this now. Buffy fans, you must read BTVS Season 8 # 12. Super-spoiler alert!

Our fave Slayer sleeps with someone new. And it’s not someone you might expect. Again, spoilers!

She slept with Satsu, the Slayer girl who previously woke her up from her magic coma with a “true love’s kiss.”

Joss Whedon recently spoke about it at Newsarama:

“It’s not a huge life change for Buffy. She’s not gay. Sexuality is a spectrum. Many of us have experimented in our youth – that’s what youths are for. So we knew it wasn’t going to be a giant character shift – it was just going to be nice fodder for Buffy to be going through something besides feeling lonely and disconnected and having the weight of the world on her shoulders. It was nice for something nice to happen to her, and then for her to get kind of awkward about it.”

Wish the series had better art, though. Anyway, Season 8 will run for 40 issues. And according to Whedon, Season 9 will be set years after the end of this one.

I like that Buffy still grows as a character (although some may argue that sleeping with a smitten subordinate/co-worker is a step back). It’s still about growth, change and phases, and very few fictional comics/TV characters are allowed to progress past just one popular point of their lives.

While I’m not looking forward to Buffy becoming a married person or a mother yet, I don’t mind at all if the character gets to experience those important turning points eventually. Even if she becomes a divorcee or a widow someday, there’d still be a lot of interesting stories to read about. I trust her creator to let her grow, make mistakes, learn, and change some more. And I’ll be there, enjoying it and itching to see what happens next.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

29, You’d Think I’d Know Better

Hello, younger self. It’s been a while. I’d ask you how you are, but I can actually remember. I’ll ask, anyway: How do you like the direction your life’s heading, so far?

So. You’re 29. You’ve been singing that particular Gin Blossoms song since you were 20. You’re now half-awed, half-scared; as a kid, you never thought you’d ever reach this age or grow this old. But that’s your favorite line from “29,” isn’t it? “At 29, you’d think I’d know better, living like a kid.” That’s only partly true now. You’ve matured. But you’re damn conflicted, especially today.

Today, you’re off to the North for an assignment. Tomorrow, a friend will read your palm, give a pretty accurate description of your life, then augur things that you’ll just laugh off. Well, you don’t laugh them off, exactly; you’ll just smile and wonder. You won’t believe some of the things that the reading predicted, but you will be amused. You do need some pleasant distractions to get some problems outta your head, especially tonight, of all nights.

The next few weeks will be stormy, in more ways than one. You’re second-guessing yourself and what you have, but as usual, you’re proving your worth consciously to people who expect good things from you. Still, self-awareness is a bitch, ain’t it? You wish more people thought the same way as you. And you feel stuck. The next couple of months, well, expect more of the same. And by September, things will culminate in a bad way.

But guess what? I’m proof that you make it. I don’t know if it coincides with some astrological occurrence called “Saturn Returns,” but being 29 was a depressing time, and not just for you. People have been known to undergo personal crises and uncertainty of purpose at this point in their lives. Numerical significance aside, you’ll learn from all this, like you always do. At the end of the year, you’ll look back at the last few months’ emotional turmoil and view things more optimistically.

You’ll realize that you’re happy with what you already have. That doesn’t mean you’ll be complacent; oh no. It’s funny, looking at you now, I can still recognize the naiveté, the post-teen angst, the perpetual need to prove yourself. Don’t you worry, bud, next year, you’ll have a chance to work on something that gives you some art cred. As for other happy things, I can say this much. They will come. The new year is gonna be good. You’ll know why when it comes.

So lighten up, hey. And love well. Turning 30 isn’t so bad. Heck, it’s going to be one of the best years of your life.

Gotta go, now. Dream’s over, kid. Wakey wakey.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A magical mystery tour ‘Across the Universe’

(Published Feb. 28, PDI-Entertainment. To view other articles, visit my Multiply site.)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Songs, sentiments and soliloquies are stirred into Julie Taymor’s cauldron of Beatles love in the mystical movie musical “Across the Universe.” It’s everything you’d expect from “The Lion King” musical director Taymor--shimmying and visually striking artscapes that don’t sacrifice the vital human component--only this time she’s adapted the music of the world’s most popular band.

Like in her previous films “Titus” and “Frida,” Taymor masterfully weaves canvas-like imagery and emotional resonance here. In a mélange of music, portraits and words, a simple story of two young lovers (and their friends) is told captivatingly, aided by dozens of Beatles classics worked into the script. The unstable, revolutionary decade of the ‘60s is thoughtfully encapsulated, though you don’t actually see the iconic band.

“Across the Universe” may easily win over Beatles fans because a sense of familiarity it evokes. The uninitiated may find getting into it a challenge at times, but the talent (and in some cases, the genius) behind the songs is clearly evident. From love ballads to socially aware tracks, the group’s songs here provide voices that seem tailor-made for very specific periods, situations and people.

The names of the protagonists are inspired by popular and obscure names from the song catalogue as well. Jude (Jim Sturgess), a dock worker from Liverpool, comes to America and eventually connects with the idealistic Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). Jude’s best friend, Lucy’s brother Max (Joe Anderson), is sent to Vietnam, while their other friends--the lesbian Prudence (TV Carpio), the Joplin-esque Sadie (Dana Fuchs) and the Hendrix-ish JoJo (Martin Luther McCoy)--experience developments back home just as precariously.

The music is especially flavorful; “Let It Be” is both poignant and soulful during the scenes depicting a Detroit riot and its aftermath. Lucy’s spare renditions of “If I Fell” and “Blackbird” are haunting. Prudence sings “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” reinvented fittingly to speak of her unrequited feelings as a closeted gay girl. Just as heartfelt is Jude’s aptly tranquil version of “Across the Universe,” which surprisingly segues into Sadie’s edgy and pulsating “Helter Skelter.”

A number of visual tricks are utilized, like animation and the superimposing of elements. The super-trippy “Strawberry Fields Forever,” however, is an example of seeing Taymor’s vision in, well, kaleidoscope eyes. It juxtaposes impaled strawberries (a product of Jude’s artistic frustration) with blood-hued war footage, strawberry grenades and bombs. The music video excessiveness feels a tad stretched visually, but you do get over it.

The actor-singers give distinct character to the interpretations; the film’s collection of songs actually rivals the “I Am Sam” soundtrack in that it also has inspired Beatles covers you’d want to listen to repeatedly. Lucy, Jude and the gang become people you care for, even when the music overpowers the narrative sometimes. Still, Taymor’s affection for the Beatles and these lovestruck characters is obvious. She loves them (yeah, yeah, yeah), and with a love like that, you know you should be glad. And you are.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Discover Me Discovering You

Sometimes, it takes real effort to keep it under control. You just know it when you’re around people who make your body react in ways that aren’t the usual. As the clichés go, your heart skips a beat; you hold your breath for a second; blood rushes downwards. Your body knows. It’s pure lust.

When a rare connection is formed and consummated--you’re tangled and bare, the ecstasy spilt on skin or sheets--the euphoria can last for hours or days. Years, even. When you’re alone in your bed, the moments swim in your head, triggering memories and responses long forgotten. You think about how you had each other, how territoriality was surrendered in that limited span.

But these arousing nostalgia trips end in due time; you do forget about them again and move on.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Joy Boy

Wrote this some time last month: Zane tagged me, so…

10 Happy Things

Post 10 things that recently made you happy, then tag ten other people and spread the loooooove…

1. I wrote and finished five articles (four for the PR firm, one for the paper) within the span of 24 hours.

2. I got original DVDs of Rome, Seasons 1 and 2, for free.

3. I attended and covered the Lovapalooza event alongside some of the nicest, most professional people I’ve met.

4. That Chocolate Cream-flavored Gonuts Sticky Roll is fricking addictive.

5. In a nephew’s report card, the teacher commented that he “continues to work with tremendous focus and attention to detail. He writes beautiful stories with great detail and illustrations.” Awesome.

6. Juno. I love it to bits.

7. It’s always fun to sing along to Joni Mitchell songs with friends.

8. I had three articles published in the paper last Wednesday (Feb. 13). There was my Lorraine Bracco interview and also my Cloverfield review in the Entertainment section, and “Soundtrack of my love life” appeared in the 2bU section.

9. I got to drink ten free beers while listening to great music.

10. Intimacy. Nothing beats that.

10 people to tag: PM'ed you already. :)