Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Something to Sing About

Hey Kristine, too bad you couldn't be at the Awit Awards last Thursday. It went pretty well, and as a fellow judge (and alleged music expert), it was nice to feel like one had contributed to the whole affair -- except perhaps during the numerous, inexplicable and lengthy pauses during the program, which I suppose were meant to correspond to commercial breaks in the soon-to-be televised version. A couple of pix I snapped:

Session Road at the Awit Awards. The lovely Hannah Romawac’s cleavage has been blurred for the sake of those of our readers with delicate, easily frazzled sensibilities, assuming we have any.

South Border triumphant. They now have enough Awit Awards to start their own awards ceremony show, if they wish. Or to melt down and resculpt into a 1:1 scale model of the late Ike Lozada.

Commentary and a list of winners are at Philmusic.

My feathered hair looks spectacular

I'm freakin' LUKE SKYWALKER?!! Aaaaaaaarrrrrgggghghgghgh! I'd retake it and then lie about retaking it, but I'm not that evil.

This reminds me of the time I was invited to a Star Wars party, and told to come in costume. I went as a Jedi, of course, and I gotta say, my outfit kicked major ass. Too bad NO ONE ELSE had bothered to come in costume. That tragic incident scarred me for life and guaranteed I would never be inclined to participate in the rich, rewarding culture of geek cosplay... wait, that means it wasn't tragic at all. Thank Christ for that, then.

Tuesday Morning Listening

Five songs that have vastly improved the quality of my life this Tuesday morn:

Time Stops - Teenage Fanclub

From their new album. Are these bastards actually getting better with age? This is just as catchy as most of their insanely catchy back catalog, but tinged with melancholy and a kind of just-awakened hazy freshness.

We Are Right For Each Other - Julie Plug

From an incredibly underrated Fil-Am band. Don't even know if these guys are still together (their website was last updated in 2004, apparently), but everything I've ever heard by them is fantastic pop-rock fare.

The Robots In My Bedroom Were Playing Arena Rock - The Soft Lightes

Sounds primitive and futuristic, at the same time. And hey, one of the best -- and most oddly appropriate -- song titles ever.

Dito Tayo Sa Dilim - Pedicab

They call it dunk (danceable punk), apparently. The recorded version actually manages to capture the sweaty immediate fun of their live renditions! And hey, I'm thanked in the album's liner notes, so you know it's gotta be good. ;p

Krafty - New Order

I should be tired of this song by now, but the chorus still makes me smile. Also, I had a dream last week where I met a girl who looks like the girl in the video. Which has basically nothing to do with the song, but I just thought I'd mention it.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Perry Bible Fellowship

Don't be fooled by the seemingly God-friendly title. These comics are the work of the devil: twisted, sick, disturbing, and funny as hell.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

"Yes!" to the last question

I realize this is not music-related and that this is jumping on the bandwagon in the worst way. Whatever.

The Star Wars Personality Test!

(and my result...)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


"I once expressed to a friend my desire to be able to erase from my memory all of my favorite songs so that I might have the experience of hearing them again for the first time. It seemed to me that if I listened to a song I loved too often, I ran the risk of wearing it out. I was afraid that eventually it wouldn't move me in quite the same way. I would still want, maybe even need, to hear it, but the level of emotional intensity simply wouldn't be as high. With every listen, I would be looking for the magic and it would be gone. The passion would be traded for a friendly laugh, some small talk, and a pleasant goodbye until I felt like meeting up again. I have come to realize this is not so with the really great songs, the ones that are new every time, the true loves." -- from "On 'Alison'" by AD Hoover

From McSweeney's Internet Tendency: here are some short essays on favorite songs, inspired by Nick Hornby's Songbook (a.k.a. 31 Songs, to the local book-buying public).

I like it when they write about stuff that's kind of cheesy -- say, A-ha's "Take On Me" or that Aladdin song (Disney, not Bowie) -- and still convey how much it meant, and still means, to them, with unembarassed sincerity.

The King of Nothing to Do #2

The second installment of my column should be out in the Manila Bulletin today. Woo hoo! This time around, I wrote about writing about music, PULP stylee. An excerpt:
"It’s been a while since we used midgets."

That was an actual statement from an actual editorial meeting for the publication I used to work for... I used to be a staffer for PULP magazine, the notorious music-oriented monthly. (Or, as an old friend of mine put it when I told her who my employer was: “PULP? Every mother’s nightmare, PULP?!” She should know; she’s a mother of two). PULP made its name by catering to the obsessive fan of music—particularly the heavy, stave-in-your-skull variety—and by staging elaborate, outrageous photo shoots involving anything from freaks, Vikings, religious iconography and buckets of fake blood to, yes, some vertically challenged members of our society. (Oh, and more often than not, naked women). Politically correct was something it never aspired to be, but it was undeniably attention-grabbing...

If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, as some smart aleck once said, what we were doing was like tap-dancing about architecture, or cartwheeling about biochemistry, or some other playful variation on the original analogy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The World is Weird

From The Times online edition:


HE WAS found soaking wet in the middle of the night, unable to speak and dressed in an expensive dinner suit.

The only real clue to his identity is an astonishing talent for the piano.

The 6ft musician — dubbed The Piano Man — is believed to have suffered a nervous breakdown which has deprived him of his memory and left him unable to communicate except through drawings and a remarkable ability for music.

Two police officers discovered him stumbling along a road near a beach in Sheerness, Kent, during a storm last month. Police said that he was soaked to the skin, possibly from the heavy rain, but his clothes were so drenched that they thought he may have been in the sea.

He has not spoken a word since he was picked up and has left officers baffled as to who he is, why he was there dressed immaculately in a black dinner suit, white shirt and tie, where he had come from and what he was doing.

After being found by police he was driven to Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, where he was able to communicate with doctors and nurses only by drawing a Swedish flag and an intricate sketch of a grand piano.


Michael Camp, a care worker, said: “Two policemen found him dressed as if he had come from a concert but couldn’t get a word out of him. He appears to be a professional pianist and has amazed everyone who has heard him.

“He plays for hours every day from memory and from sheet music he has written. It is difficult to stop him and he sounds concert standard. When he plays, all his anxiety disappears.

“Away from the piano he starts to breathe very quickly and shies away from people.”

To read the full story, click here.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Look out! Here comes the Spider-man!

Thanks for helping me find these again, Luis! And for those of you I didn't forward the link to these wonderfully insane comics last year, you can find the archived version in Jay Pinkerton's blog archives. Also check out his retelling of the origins of Superman and Batman. Fappo!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

"Tell the stars I'm coming; make them leave a space for me"

By day and night, fancy electronic dishes
are trained on the heavens.
They are listening for smudged echoes
of the moment of creation.
They are listening for the ghost of a chance.
They may help us make sense of who we are
and where we came from;
and, as a compassionate side effect,
teach us that nothing is ever lost.

-- from I Trawl the Megahertz, by Paddy McAloon

Two years ago, I listed I Trawl the Megahertz as one of my Top 5 Best Albums of the Year, for PULP magazine. Listening to it now, I still get that that thrill of something only half understood, yet fully felt.

And yeah, Paddy McAloon is the guy from Prefab Sprout.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Yay Music!

I love reading Robyn's music blog, because she has such a genuine passion for music and knows a lot about it but never gets all annoyingly over-analytical. Plus, yay for added funniness! And cute listening-bunny icon, of course. Samples:

from May 8, 2005:
Oh, there's a certain type of music I most definitely hate: crappy ringtones. My phone just makes beepy noises when it rings. Is it just me or does 90% of the cell phone toting population set their phones to play annoying songs? WHY? WHY MUST YOU BE SO CRUEL? FOR GOD'S SAKE. I hate "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies" after having to hear my roommate's cell phone-ified version innumerable times over the course of the past year. If you like crappy ringtones and use them on a regular basis, I kind of wish bad things to happen to you. Or rather, your phone.

from May 7, 2005:
Magnet's new album is called The Tourniquet. OMG, NEW ALBUM! (Just a note, when I say OMG I'm kind of kidding. And kind of not). My first thought was, Does that imply massive pain? Hope not. Or maybe YES, I love depressing things! I do. You probably do also. YOU DO! Why I'm shouting, I don't know. There are lots of depressing Magnet songs and it would make me ever so gleeful if he one day made a song about happy penguins just waddling around glaciers, sitting on eggs and puking out food for their babies or something.

from May 2, 2005:
It's nice listening to music you haven't heard in a while. I listened to bits of OK Computer today and it made me happy. Still good! Not that I expected it to be not good but it's like finding something in your kitchen that may have expired but you eat it anyway and it still tastes good.

...that was a bad comparison. Sorry.

Kristine has had similar experiences with food, except for the "still good" part. ;p Hope you don't mind all the quotes, Robyn!


And I notice that a musical baton (a.k.a. a survey) has been passed to me. :) I'll do my best to run with it:


Can't check right now. Ever since I upgraded my PC to a faster processor, it keeps keeling over due to the overheating brought about by this sweltery summer season. That's why I'm renting a PC in a 24-hour internet cafe on Morato right now. :p I vaguely remember having only about 10+ gigs though.


My newest CD is Narda's full-length debut (good stuff!), but that was given to me so I guess it doesn't count. Got a bunch of secondhand discs recently, from Cubao: Gentlemen by the Afghan Whigs, Wasp Star by XTC, Lifeblood by Manic Street Preachers. I've owned them all previously, either as cassettes or burns, but it's nice to have the originals on CD. The last new disc I bought was by Kings of Convenience, but now I'm eyeing the new Garbage, not to mention the first Pedicab album.


"What Do You Do With a BA in English?/It Sucks To Be Me" from Avenue Q


1. "As the World Falls Down" by David Bowie: For sentimental reasons.

2. "Wrapped in Grey" by XTC: Great music, great lyrics. Inspiring without being cheesy.

3. "Goodbye" by The Sundays: Makes me feel like a child riding in a car, stretched out in the back seat, watching the landscape flash by in the back window, on a long trip home.

4. "Epiphany" by The Spinanes: Very difficult to choose a single Spinanes song, so I'll go with the first one I really fell for. I love "Lines and Lines" though. And "Kid in Candy." And...

5. "Breaking the Rules" by Robbie Robertson and The Blue Nile: Hard to explain why this song affects me so much. It has something to do with it being used at the end of Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World -- both film and song touched me deeply -- but there are probably other reasons which I'm not even going to try to sort out just now. Lots of Blue Nile stuff makes me get all choked up anyway, particularly anything from Hats.


This is probably cheating, but I would love to read the answers of anyone who's reading this right now. Yes, that means you!


In other news, over at Achewood, one of my favorite online strips, Ray and Roast Beef take a ride in Trent Reznor's car (which Ray bought on eBay). "This was Trent Reznor's high school car! If you sit in it, you are guaranteed to feel total despair!"

Also, check out funnysmart guy Chuck Klosterman's column for May, which semi-helpfully defines various genres for "people who only listen to rock music casually."

And finally, I've been meaning to write something about audioblogs here, for those friends of mine who have grown increasingly irritated at my propensity for mentioning them in casual conversation while being too lazy to define what they are, exactly. Luckily, The Tofu Hut has provided a handy guide. Yay music!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sith Vicious

Yay, geek blasphemy! Or blasphemy by geeks, whatever. Anyway, my friend Oli texted me last night to let me know that Revenge of the Sith is "the best Star Wars movie in 23 years. But that's not saying much." Or, as Metacritic put it, "Talk about lowering your expectations. Episode I and Episode II were so -- and let's be honest here -- bad, that Episode III can't help but shine in comparison."

In other geek news, Frasier is the Beast. And V for Vendetta star Natalie Portman looks good even when she's bald, kind of like Patrick Stewart. Though there the comparisons end, I hope.

In other other news, my column is online. Thanks for the link, Kristine! Expect it to be out in the print version every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

This Shit is B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Hey, remember that Twilight Zone episode where this guy slips into a strange reality where everybody else would speak English, but the words wouldn't mean the same? The protagonist--a dictionary salesman, if I remember right--starts noticing that everyone around him would say strange things like, "It rained hard today, and I didn't have a dinosaur with me," or maybe, "I don't like the shoes they serve at McDonald's." This happens more and more, until finally, he can't understand anything anyone says at all, and he has to relearn the language from his daughter's nursery storybooks.

Well, I tuned in to Myx this morning (which helpfully lists the lyrics to all their videos), caught Gwen Stefani's new video for "Hollaback Girl," and thought that I had slipped into the Twilight Zone. "A few times I’ve been around that track/ So it’s not just gonna happen like that/ 'Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl/ I ain’t no hollaback girl/ Oooh, this my shit, this my shit, this my shit, this my shit..." the normally lovely Ms. Stefani-Rossdale chanted to the accompaniment of her now ever-present backup Asians. It was scary, especially when she hit the line, "Let me hear you say, this shit is bananas/ B-A-N-A-N-A-S." I thought I had lost my normally very literate mind.

Thankfully, I found out that I was neither going crazy nor going deeper into Rod Serling territory: this article in a publication called The OC Weekly dissects the lyrics to that selfsame song, and explains it to us holla-illiterate folk what it all means. "Gwen Stefani’s 'Hollaback Girl' is one of the most baffling pieces of music of the modern age," the writer declares. "It’s got something to do with cheerleaders—-that much is clear, judging from the chanting and the marching band that’s honking and tooting in the background. Beyond that, good luck deciphering the song’s ambiguities. We were so vexed by the mystery that is 'Hollaback Girl' that we have devoted countless hours to its study. Our conclusions are below. The first thing you should know, though, is that Gwen is not singing 'I ain’t no Harlem fat girl'--at least, we don’t think she is."

Writing is HARD! RAHWR! Heh heh. Even gorgeous pop stars married to gorgeous rock stars aren't immune. This shit is bananas.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Cebu, Cebu

Am writing this in an internet cafe in scenic Cebu City. Or at least I'm told it's scenic; I have yet to see a part of Cebu that doesn't look like some part of Manila (not counting aerial views). The place we're staying at is, as GT texted me, "the only hotel called Waterfront that doesn't have water in front! Hahahahaha!" She's a card. Still, it's exciting being here; if there are indeed invisible lines that connect us to the places we call home, my lines haven't been stretched this far in quite a while. Before this morning, I hadn't even been on a plane in like five years or more, though not for lack of trying, as the people who see me all the time at airports hiking up my pants leg and sticking out my hitchhiking thumb can attest.

"Holy crap -- we're going BACKWARDS," was the first thought I had as Cebu Pacific flight 5J563 suddenly went into motion, at around 10am. If we were in a car, I thought, I would be worried. Luckily we were in a multi-ton flying device designed to transport human beings through the very air seemingly in defiance of a shitload of natural laws or any rational assumptions. I mean, think about it. But anyway, after about a quarter of an hour or more of waiting, we were just happy the plane was moving at all. The delay was apparently due to the fact that the crew was "waiting for some flight documents," without which we couldn't take off. Documents? Not a tardy crew member or vital mechanical part? I thought: the only type of documents whose absence would delay a take-off must be a manual of some sort. I imagined the pilot thumbing frantically through a copy of Flying for Dummies, asking hinself what would Han Solo do?, as the craft around him turned into screaming fiery bits of twisted metal plummeting earthward.

Anyway, takeoff was exciting. I really can't understand the people who are reading newspapers during the takeoff. I don't care if their souls are shriveled sacks of anti-wonder that can't appreciate the miracle of man-engineered flight -- what I can't understand is their lack of any sense of self-preservation. Don't they know that I am going to kill them for blocking my window view with their broadsheets?

Notes on the pre-departure area, btw: there are signs posted there that warn people that even joking about bombs will get you into unimaginable amounts of trouble. Of course, reading those signs, I experienced an almost-uncontrollable urge to start cracking, you guessed it, lots of jokes about bombs. Also, a magazine rack is always nice to see, but there's no way I'm paying over five hundred freakin' pesos for the new SPIN, even if it is the Ultimate Lists issue.

Oh, as to why I'm here -- am the scriptwriter for the big MTV HITS CEBU event. Great lineup: "Rivermaya, Parokya ni Edgar, Sugarfree, Kitchie Nadal, and Kjwan, with Cebu’s very own Junior Kilat, and Urbandub." Which reminds me, time to get back to revising my script to appease the sponsors. Am running on half an hour of sleep and I need to finish this before I can even think of seeing my hotel room. *yawns*

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Emm Gryner is a fine singer-songwriter, and is also one degree away from David Bowie

Emm GrynerI've been remiss in my blogging duties, so I've forgotten to mention that Emm Gryner is in the Philippines, YAY!

Who is Emm Gryner, you may ask. Emm is not to be confused with Emmily, Luis and K2's friend who married writer Dan Rhodes, visited the Philippines, and promptly hurled my cellphone to the ground. No, not that Emm. This Emm, I first heard of from...actually, I don't remember now. It might have been from Jesse, back when he was obsessed with Sarah McLachlan and trawling cyberspace for news. There were a bunch of folks online who kept recommending Emm's Original Leap Year and Public, saying that they were in the same vein as her compatriot's. I don't know if that came first, or if it was my then-just-online friend Gaye Lim, who I met on an Edie Brickell mailing list. In any case, it wasn't some time later that I found out that Emm was (gasp!) half-Filipina, resulting in this conversation:

Kristine: Hey! Remember Emm Gryner? I just found out that she's partly Filipino.
Unidentified Friend: (guffawing) Yeah, everyone's partly Filipino, right. Next thing you know you'll be telling me she lives in Las Piñas.

Well, fast forward to 2005, when Gaye's little sister Sharlene decides to start distributing Emm's records locally, and bring over the lovely half-German/ half-Filipino Canadian for a few small shows that will introduce her to the Philippine audience. Which is why we had Emm Gryner on stage at Gweilo's in Libis last Friday, telling the audience:

Emm Gryner: My mom's from Bulacan which, I have learned from this tour, is 'The Plant and Flower Capital of the Philippines.'"

So there, Unidentified Friend. Never doubt any information that I give you, ever. It'll just result in humiliation.

Aherm. Now what was I saying? It'd be a disservice not to mention that Emm is a fine singer and songwriter, and is, besides, an indie inspiration for putting up her own label, Dead Daisy Records, after being dropped by Mercury in the great purge that followed the recording companies' merging frenzy in the late 90s. I wrote a glowing review in an early issue of Pulp for Science Fair, her third album, and first under Dead Daisy. (Interesting factoid #45346: Nelly Furtado lists Science Fair as one of her all-time favorite albums.)

Part Asian, part blue Emm's been here for a few days now, actively promoting her album, Asianblue (out now, at Tower Records and Music One outlets in the Philippines), giving interviews everywhere, doing shows in the evening. If I were better at this blog updating thing, I would have invited everyone to the Manila shows (Capone's last Saturday, and then again at SaGuijo last night), instead of just recapping. It's been hot, and I'm told I missed the dancing hooker/s at Capone's, but the gig at SaGuijo was pretty good. Kate Torralba was there, offering me a seat right in front of the stage even though I waltzed in halfway through Menaya's set. (She's nice, that Kate. Once she bought us all beers!) Turns out Piano Girl Kate also knows Emm from her previous albums, and was already a big fan. Enough of a fan to sing along with every other song, even. And enough of a fan to nearly faint in joy when she was invited to jam onstage with Emm.

Their duet on "Landslide" notwithstanding, the highlight of the evening was Emm's performance of "Acid," off Public. Sharlene, to whom the song was dedicated that evening, tells me that Emm was reluctant to perform the song because she was afraid that audiences wouldn't like it because of it was so slow. But the SaGuijo audience was made up of music lovers that night who sat in rapt attention as Emm went through the song's elegantly lurching melody and these lyrics: "Now I think I might get myself all 1967 on you/ Run screaming to the balcony/ But I can't do that can't do that/ I gotta keep my good composure/ And swallow everything I want to say." The audience was near stunned all throughout the number--no mean feat, considering that most of them were hearing it for the first time.

I won't preempt the pleasure of hearing Emm Gryner sing (Interesting factoid #45347: Emm Gryner sang backup for David Bowie on tour for a year and a half.) (Interesting factoid #45348: I am now two degrees away from David Bowie. WOO-HOO!), so do get a copy of Asianblue if you can, or better yet, go to Conspiracy Café on Monday, May 16, to catch Emm's farewell gig before she heads on back to Canada the next day. I also had a really good chat with Emm a couple of days ago, and the result of that will be a very accurately quoted article in PULP's June issue. Man, you'd be a fool--A FOOL!--to miss any of this.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Something to Do

If you find yourself wandering in the vicinity of a friendly neighborhood newsstand tomorrow -- Wednesday, May 11, 2005 to be exact (also known as today, for you morning blog-readers) -- you really should pick up a copy of the Manila Bulletin. Depending on your inclinations and needs, there may or may not be any number of good reasons to pick up the Bulletin on any given day, but tomorrow sees the debut of

The King of Nothing to Do
a regular column by Luis Katigbak

(that's me). Look for it in their funky new "i" section. I describe it as being like "a pleasant ongoing conversation, about such things as writing, books, music, films, and pop culture -- except that I'll be doing all the talking." Fun, eh? The first installment is entitled "Essential Distractions: on writing, death threats, and talking to strangers." Grab a copy and enrich your inner lives. Or at least have something with which you can wrap fish.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Putting each of our lives in music and beat

[Photo by Mari Arquiza, from kitchienadal.net]

So last April 16, Yvette and I went to that big Kitchie Nadal/Rivermaya concert at the Araneta Coliseum. I'm not sure what the capacity of the venue is, but whatever it was, those two acts filled it, all the way up to the lousy seats in the top rows where you would need binoculars to figure out who was performing. About 10,000 people is my conservative estimate, probably a lot more. Here's an excerpt from my account of the concert, which should be out in the next issue of MTV Ink:
For "Run", Kitchie set down her guitar, and, thus unfettered, swaggered up and down the stage while singing, much to the delight of her fans. "I love you Kitchie!" the guy next to us screamed, practically into his girlfriend's ear. It was far from the first or the last time such sentiments were expressed that night. A trio of burly, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing men sitting in the row in front of us would do the macho equivalent of schoolgirl giggling every time Kitchie seemed to be looking in our direction: elbowing each other vigorously, back-slapping, emitting deep yet obviously kilig laughter.

In other Kitchie-centric news, she's also on the cover of Seventeen this month. (Inside: "expert guy advice" from VJs KC, Marc and John Joe! The mind boggles).

Non-Kitchie department: I ran a Google search for info on Sugarfree. Since I'm not sure it's ever been definitely settled whether the band's name is "Sugar Free" (the original spelling) or "Sugarfree" (the more widely-used form), I ran a search for "Ebe Dancel" instead, which turned up this piece on Cambio. It's fun to read because of the way the writer seems to reinvent the language. For example:
From the mother band Eraserheads, a new breed of alternative tunes swept Filipino music hardcores. The succession of their generously-accepted records journeyed listeners to a random circle of musical accolades that circle from ballad, to punk rock, to pop.

Near the end, it has the feel of English translated into Japanese and then back again:
With the launch of their debut album Derby Light, alternative lovers can expect authentic filipino vibes wrapped up in distinct instrumentation and precise use of gadgets. Lyrics are truly attributed to typical Pinoy lifestyle. It's like putting each of our lives in music and beat.

The inclusion of Cambio's press release in full -- written by Myrene Academia -- just serves to underscore the difference between direct, skillfully-executed and informative writing about music, and, well, its opposite. Take notes, writing students!