Sunday, January 29, 2006

Old Friends, Uruk-hai, and Wily Filipinos


Is that really the Rivermaya logo? It looks more like the logo of a bank or insurance company. Just sayin.

So last night at the Terno Records gig, someone asked me if I was, in fact, The Wily Filipino. While I flirted for a nanosecond with the notion of pretending to be someone I'm not (a notion that occurs to me with alarming regularity), I had to admit that I am just plain Luis of Kristine and Luis are Listening, international jetsetting genius and undefeated Ultimate Fighting champion. However -- there is a very real possibility that Kristine is secretly The Wily Filipino, given that a recent overview of some local rock albums had this to say about the new Rivermaya "Greatest Hits" CD:
"I'm probably remembering things wrong, but wasn't there a time when Rivermaya didn't sound like (or look like) Coldplay? Half the songs on this anthology have those faux-inspirational, hold-your-head-up-high lyrics that U2 should have abandoned twenty years ago; the other half sounds like bad Radiohead -- you know, kind of like Coldplay. In a word: insufferable."



The Terno gig/Up Dharma Down album launch reminded me in many ways of last year's Fete de la Musique: too many people crammed into too small a space, a strong Uruk-hai presence, and having to appreciate bands from too far away, due to the crowd (unlike in venues such as Saguijo or Big Sky Mind, where there is a very real danger of accidentally being tripped over by your favorite frontperson during a set). Ah, the price of popularity. Terno is an excellent label and I'm glad to see so many people drawn to their gigs, but now I'm wondering if there's a better place to hold the next one.

Indira and I ended up holing up in Chunky Farflung and Black Soup for most of the night to get some breathing space. Nice thing was that we kept running into friends and acquaintances, new and old: Brendan, Ginny, Katrin, Lala, Karlo, a couple of Luises (improbably enough), Crissy, Peach, Robert, ex-PULP photographer Gani, Eric, Kate, Therese and of course Fran, among lotsa others.

Drip's set sounded great from where we were, but from where we were, we could barely see them. Pedicab's set was a lot of fun; early enough in the evening that the crowd had not yet grown to unmanageable proportions, it got people singing along and -- in one case -- literally flipping upside down, kicking legs up in the air. Up Dharma Down -- the band of the hour -- delivered a surprisingly tepid set, marked by pseudo-jazzy instrumental noodling and a lack of really engaging material. People who had been waiting for the band all night long ended up drifting off, and talking distractedly amongst themselves (though "Maybe," as always, was a definite highlight). Am listening to their debut album now, though, and it's very very good; all bands have their off-nights after all, and UdD usually deliver exceptional performances.

But, returning to the subject of wiliness:
"The wily Filipino. How often have I gone to bed at night with that phrase echoing through my head. And yet only recently I became aware that I had never actually seen one. I had driven through Filipino neighborhoods, but everyone and everything I saw was rather straightforward. Signs signifying this or that -- the dry cleaner, the auto repair -- all seemed innocuous, but probably hid a true guile lurking underneath. I wondered under what circumstance the wiliness would come out" -- from In Search of the Wily Filipino, by Steve Martin

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fuzzy Memories

From Fuzzy Memories by Jack Handey:

"There used to be a house on our block that we thought was haunted, because you'd hear people screaming inside and because people who went in never came out. Later on we found out it was just a murderer's house."

*

"Once, when I got lost in the woods, I was afraid that eventually I might have to eat Tippy. But finally I found my way home, and I was able to put Tippy back in the refrigerator with my other sandwiches."

*

"Mom always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up, "within reason." When I asked her what she meant by "within reason," she said, "You ask a lot of questions for a garbage man."

*

"Maybe it's my imagination, but food seemed to taste better when I was a kid. Also, food would sing and dance and play musical instruments. But that could also have been my imagination."

*

"Hey, sport, how would you like to go for a drive in the country -- just you and me?" Grandpa had hardly finished the question before I was in the front seat of that big Buick of his. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for cruising the back roads.

Suddenly we swerved off onto a narrow dirt road and skidded to a stop. Grandpa hustled me down into a gully, where this weird European-looking couple was waiting. They looked me up and down, even checking my teeth. Finally they told Grandpa, "No. No goot."

Grandpa said, "Yes, goot," but that didn't seem to satisfy them. Then Grandpa said okay, but they couldn't have the money back they already paid him.

Then we got back in the car and drove home."

*

More Handey wisdom here. And hey, he writes for The New Yorker too! About Martians.

Hope to be at Terno Au Go Go tomorrow. See y'all there!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Recovery"+ by New Buffalo

Go here and check out some of the loveliest purest pop music in recent memory. "Recovery" is fantastic, and so is "No Party"; I have yet to listen to "I've Got You and You've Got Me" but I'm hoping it lives up to the other two. Singer-songwriter Sally Seltmann (say that three times fast) describes her sound as "sparkly and loyal, old and worn," and even though I have no idea what that means, it somehow sounds right.

Time for beer
Checkered cheer
Now you're here
I can see so clearly
No more question marks
Sympathy cards
It's in the stars
Troubled times are clearing
Now it's recovery
Looks like it's gonna be OK

Sunday, January 22, 2006

"I Kind of Still Smell Like Jollibee"



Another post that has nothing to do with music! But this time, it's not about comics, either. It's about... food! Specifically, fast food.

Found a link to this on a friend's LJ (her entry was locked, so I won't link to it), and it was... funny, and sort of annoying as well. About a bunch of Americans who wander into Jollibee, much to their dismay. I never really thought about how vast the difference between fast food places with essentially the same menus could be. I mean, a hamburger's a hamburger, right? Apparently not.
Meanwhile, Ty was staring at her Yumburger. "This isn't something we can eat," she says. "There's a pink... sauce... and it's pink?"

I tried being positive. "Do you think it's still Thousand Island dressing?"

She put the burger in her mouth and then instantly winced. "No."

"What's it like?"

She shook her head slowly, sadly. She whispered just one word to describe the taste of her cheeseburger: "Sweet."

"It's like Wendy's took all the goo that comes out of their burgers when they're done cooking them, pressed that down into a mold, froze it in a patty shape, and exported it to the Philippines, where they put it between some bread, put pink sauce on it and sent it back here."

Goddam. And I'm reading the whole entry thinking, "It's just Jollibee." Someone should take these people to a balut vendor. Not me, because I don't eat balut. But I'd gladly introduce them to, I don't know, isaw. Or friggin' sisig.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"I Wanna Know Girls" by Portastatic

Go here and download "I Wanna Know Girls" by Portastatic (also known as the other band of Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan). It's just a great, great slab of sugary-sweet jangly-fuzzy guitar-pop fun; even when the lyrics go borderline sleazy ("I love your feet and your legs/ And everything going up from there"), they're delivered in such an earnest, happy manner that they end up being clever/cute instead. The whole song's great, but somewhere around the 3:17 mark, it actually starts to get even better, until by the end of this lyric it soars off into a solo:

I wanna know girls, but only love one
You are my source of energy
Hook a panel up to me
And shine down on me like the sun
Now you and your friends say love is blind
But I think it’s easy and kind
Or anyhow it could be
You buzz me like it would be
You think we’re in the movies
But movies never move me
Don’t think that you can lose me
‘Cause love is like an uzi
It weighs a ton
Oh yeah, my love weighs a ton
Hey!


*GUITAR SOLO*

Brings a big smile to my sleepy face. Note the Public Enemy reference in the last few lines. Fun stuff.

You Oughtta Know

Okay, I really should be catching up on sleep right now, but then I came across this list and I couldn't not blog about it.

From Clap Clap Blog: Just Say No To Pants --
SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MUSIC CRITICS
especially if you are a member of a (local) band

1. We do understand how much work goes into making an album. We also understand that our job is to then judge the results of all that work, which means you do not get a gold star for effort. You get gold stars for having a good album.

2. Just because people have different opinions from you doesn't mean there is something wrong with them.
a) With certain exceptions, generally involving emo.
b) This is especially true when it comes to your opinion of your own work.

3. Very few rock critics think of themselves as cool. They think of themselves, quite rightly, as nerds. If you think they are "trying to be cool," you are wrong. 90% of the time this means you are projecting based on the fact that you do not understand something the writer is saying.

4. If you do not understand something the writer is saying, that is not necessarily the writer's fault. Also, you don't have to read every word, you know.

5. When it comes to local bands, critics are almost always erring on the side of being too nice.

Read the rest of the list here. From personal experience, this pretty much all rings true. My favorite, however, has to be:
10. Please do not claim that we are not entitled to judge a work until we ourselves have produced a work in the same genre of equal quality. (i.e. "Oh yeah, well let's see you make an album as good as I'm Wide Awake It's Morning!") The inescapable corollary of this is that the musicians are then not worthy of being reviewed by us until they can write a better critical essay about a box set, or 200 interesting words about a band that there's not a damn thing interesting about. This is a game that nobody wins.

One last item before I hit the sack: will probably check out Soukelya later --

Soukelya is a two-day event staged by an ukay-ukay and art collective to take place at The Coffee Way (72-A Maginhawa Street, UP Village, beside Holy Family school) starting on the 21st of January 2006, Saturday. It will feature an art show, books, apparel with histories (garage sale/ukay-ukay), cds, vcds and dvds for sale, and a music trading hub.

The featured artists who will open their exhibits on Saturday, 8 pm are Pog Gomez B., Joaquin Misa and Roselle Pineda. The clothes and other things on sale are curated by Mel Baizas, Ginny Misa, and Sarah Raymundo with their friends. Everyone is invited.

Backstreet Boys Become Backstreet Men in Backstreet Ritual*


Don't they look so happy and gay? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Five hours after the fact, and my ears are still ringing with the ecstatic screams of thousands of young men and women. But enough about that, let's talk about the Backstreet Boys concert at the Araneta Coliseum instead. Yes, I was there. No, I would normally not have gone, but I happen to love my girlfriend, who happens to love the Backstreet Boys. Yes, I did end up enjoying myself. No, I did not scream like a wounded horse, not even when they tapped their chests and pointed at the crowd. Yes, this is the first concert by a foreign artist I've gone to since -- wow, I can't even remember. Does Mig Ayesa count?

Anyway, I leave you with this quote uttered by one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists:

"Isn't that the song about anal sex?" -- Dan Rhodes, referring to "I Want it That Way" by the Backstreet Boys

(Check out Dan's site! It's funny).

*Headline stolen from -- where else -- The Onion

Sidekickery


"You are desperately in need of a wacky sidekick!" Sandman meets Ambush Bug, Ambush Bug Nothing Special #1

Dear Gloss Girl: yes, when I become a superhero, you can be my sidekick -- and you can wear this. Muahahaha! Seriously, no, I don't want you to be my sidekick -- sidekicks always get replaced, killed off, transformed into grotesque sand creatures, or they just plain... suck. We will be full partners in crimefighting! Like Miracleman and Miraclewoman! Okay, bad example. Like Hawkman and Hawkgirl? Without the wings, weapons, and ridiculous beaky facemasks. And instead of actually doing nightly patrols, we'll just hang out at home and watch DVDs. Criminals beware!

Jewel, am as yet undecided RE: my super vigilante name. I think the costume has to come first. Judging by the available objects in my house, I can be Ratty Black T-shirt Boy, Wears-Throw-Pillow-on-Head Lad, or Toilet Plunger Man. Tsiakhyie and Biryani, thanks for the info on Lawin. I think there's a little bit of that kind of heroic madness in all of us. Look at Kristine -- she thinks she's Batman, too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Justice Society of Justice



Meet Doktor DiscorD and Mr. Silent: real-life superheroes.

You heard me! (Or rather, read me). REAL-LIFE SUPERHEROES, who patrol their city on their nights off and punch out injustice whenever they come across it. Mr. Silent knows Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Karate, Kendo and one or two other martial arts, while Doktor DiscorD has "a PhD in Asskickology."
One may ask, how I can call myself a superhero if I can't fly or run at Mach 3. The answer is simple. I am idealistically super. I see what, in my opinion, needs to be changed in society and I work towards that goal. I can't say if I will ever fight an army of giant robots or not, I just don't know. What I do know, however, is that I will fight injustice in whatever form it takes, whether it be a mugger or a criminal mastermind. If you are asking yourself right about now if I am serious then the answer is definitely, yes. I actually do go out and fight crime..." (from Mr. Silent's MySpace page)

Click on the pic and scroll down to read the interview with Mr. Silent (who, oddly enough, seems fairly talkative) at Lying in the Gutters. There are pictures of the other members of the Justice Society of Justice -- like Doom Bunny and Kid Christ -- on their MySpace pages. And click here to read the post on these dapper crimefighters at Warren Ellis' site. (My favorite comment: "I live in Indianapolis, these guys are real, I have seen them on the street. I'm not sure if they're crazy or just... I'm pretty sure they’re crazy.")

Crazy or not, I think they are an inspiration. As soon as I train myself to be at the absolute peak of human athletic perfection (and take a few Krav Maga and Arnis courses), I'm going to fight crime too. Or I could save some time and give myself the power to fire deadly metal projectiles from my hands at great velocity by, say, buying a gun. Not sure how the Justice Society of Justice feels about guns though.

And of course I'm going to need a cool name and costume.

PS. Just remembered: doesn't UP Campus already have its own superhero? That crazy guy with the cape who's always dragging a toy car behind him? Or am I mixing him up with another crazy guy in the Quezon City area? Anyone who knows who I'm thinking of, please post a comment. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ninja Doctors and Big Ideas



Ever wonder what a comic book starring a doctor who is also a ninja might be like? If so, please seek professional psychiatric help. And then go and read The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, which actually lives up to this fantastic premise. (It also has giant lumberjacks, pirates, Ronald McDonald, and a gorilla receptionist named Judy).

"When two ninja engage in battle, not a word is spoken. There is no room for banter. Perfect focus must be maintained. Every attack and parry is plotted ten steps in advance. Like a silent, deadly game of battleship. No, not chess. Battleship. Chess is a little too... rooky, pawny for my tastes."

And now I leave you with another quote, this time from Your Band Sucks: "What Big Idea have I stumbled upon this week, you ask? First of all, fuck you. I don’t stumble upon anything, I use my legendary intellect to devise amazing ideas, and then I present them to you via my unsurpassed writing ability. Except for this idea, which I pretty much stumbled upon."

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Sheffield Shanty" by Monkey Swallows the Universe

Ah, yes: not two minutes after I post about my Favorite Songs of 2005, I come across an early candidate for my 2006 list. It's a lovely, spare acoustic number, beautifully sung; faintly reminiscent of Kings of Convenience, but with a female lead vocalist, and a sly nod to Paul Simon near the end. Go here and download "Sheffield Shanty." You'll thank me.

Hate It or Love It: Songs from 2005

Holy crap, we’re midway thru January and we haven’t done any “Best of 2005” posts, or any posts at all, for that matter. Perhaps we’re too mesmerized by that picture of Barbie and Kitchie attacking some hapless photographer. In any case, I did end up listing my Favorite Albums, Songs, and Live Performances in my column, The King of Nothing to Do, in the i section of last Saturday’s Manila Bulletin.

Something I realized while writing my column: I listened to a lot of music in 2005, but I didn’t actually listen to a lot of albums. I guess that’s what happens when you develop an audioblog addiction. Anyway, here’s an expanded version of my list of Favorite Songs from 2005:



1. Hard to Beat – Hard-Fi
This probably shouldn’t be number one, but I can’t stop listening to it. Insanely catchy, sexy, danceable and oozing with attitude, I’ll probably be sick of it soon, but in the meantime, it’s giving me some great strobe-lit daydreams.

2. Beer – Itchyworms
Arguably the best song in an excellent album, this is a song to get tipsy to, sing along with, and try to learn on your guitar: in short, one of those senti-funny Pinoy rock barkada classics.

3. Feel Good Inc – Gorillaz
It somehow makes sense that a cartoon band has more personality than most real bands. Noodle’s older and the Gorillaz are better, as demonstrated by this song, which is like parts of many good songs stitched together to make a great song.

4. Dito Tayo Sa Dilim – Pedicab
Love playing this -- and for that matter, the rest of Tugish Takish -- full blast in the morning. Wakes you up, gets you going, makes you feel like bouncing up and down and drawing cartoon animals on the ceiling.

5. Higher – Soft
Hypnotic, majestic, heart-thrilling stuff -- thanks to The Oh So Quiet Show for introducing me to this band. :)

6. Lonesome Reply – The Whiles
So pretty it would make me cry, if I weren’t such a manly man. And then when the electric guitar squeals to life near the end of the song and the whole thing takes off: beautiful.

7. Video – Aimee Mann
Aimee Mann is trying to break your heart.

8. Don’t Give Up the Fight – The Magic Numbers
Hard to choose between all the great songs on the Magic Numbers’ debut, but this is the one I keep coming back to.

9. You Only Live Once – The Strokes
I only hope the rest of their third album is this good.

10 Mushaboom – Feist
A cute, charming little masterpiece. “And we'll collect the moments one by one/ I guess that's how the future's done.”

11. Time Stops – Teenage Fanclub
Teenage Fanclub continues to make perfect guitar-driven pop. Soothing, almost-sleepy vocals, a snappy rhythm, fuzzy guitars and chord changes to leave you grinning.

12. The Engine Driver – The Decemberists
“And I am a writer, a writer of fictions/ I am the heart that you call home.” How could I not love this song?

13. Biyernes – Narda
Lot of good songs on Formika, but this was the first one that stood out, for me.

14. Hate It or Love It – The Game feat. 50 Cent
Didn’t listen to so much hip-hop in 2005, and I’m not crazy about music by The Game or 50 Cent in general, but this one really stuck in my head, as did the last song on the list…

15. Signs – Snoop Dogg feat. Justin Timberlake
For when you feel like dancing like an utter fool.

Other songs: Don’t think these came out in 2005, but I love them and listened to them over and over last year: Look Up by Stars, Dedication by The Numbs, Nina Gordon’s acoustic cover of Straight Outta Compton, The Robots in My Bedroom Were Playing Arena Rock by The Soft Lightes, the amazing Jay-Z/Nena mash-up of 99 Luftballoons and 99 Problems, and, quite possibly my real absolute favorite song of the year, Here Comes the Headache by Spouse. I’m not giving up, I’m giving in!