Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Anger Management; or, Francis Magalona Tears Jimmy Bondoc a New One

Wow. Thanks to Denise for telling me about this.

It's probably never a good idea to talk trash about a rapper. Words are their weapons, man.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentine, etc.

1. One Korean movie:

I watched ...ing last weekend. I enjoyed it a great deal, or at least the first three-fourths or so of it -- the last part dragged somewhat, and got a bit Hollywooden (lovely dream sequence, though -- you'll know what I mean if you ever watch it). As is the case with most romantic movies, some of the best parts were the meet-cute, getting-to-know-you sequences. From the review on Koreanfilm.org:

"The unusual title of this introspective and well-executed film refers to the present continuous tense in English. For the film's main character Min-ah -- a high school girl who has spent much of her youth in the hospital -- the present may hold a deeper meaning than for most of us.

"...One day, a young photographer (played by actor Kim Rae-won of Plum Blossom and My Little Bride) moves into the apartment below their home. He tries to win over Min-ah's friendship, first by stealing her lighter and later by calling her incessantly on her new phone. Min-ah is quite put off by all this, and has no intention of becoming friends with him, although her mother seems to be encouraging her...

"With her debut film, young director Lee Eon-hee has created a simple, moving story as well as one of Korean cinema's most vivid mother-daughter relationships ever. Im Su-jung -- virtually everyone's choice for the best new actress of 2003, after her award-winning performance in A Tale of Two Sisters -- plays Min-ah with a convincing mixture of reclusiveness and vulnerability...

"Directed with confidence and a clear-eyed perspective, ...ing is an overlooked film that manages to be both very sad and enjoyable to watch at the same time."

2. Two people reading letters to each other:

"I stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day a few years ago -- not, as some might surmise, because I’m a cheap bastard, but because it seems nicer to give thoughtful gifts and go on romantic nights out just any day, regardless of the calendar, because being in love is occasion enough. Still, I can’t help being affected by this Love Month jazz, because as a writer, many of my gigs are season-appropriate.

"Last January 30, Nokia launched its very pretty line of fashion phones, the L’amour Collection ...I was asked to write a small play of sorts about love, which would be performed by fashion icon Inno Sotto and two actors during the launch. We fleshed out the notion of a couple reading love letters to each other, much like the play Love Letters by A.R. Gurney. Inno Sotto had the idea that we should portray the eternal qualities of love -- that regardless of time period or location or gender, we all undergo the same agonies and joys, when it comes to being deeply, helplessly in love."

[from my column, The King of Nothing to Do, at the Manila Bulletin]

3. Three poems by Carol Ann Duffy:

Miles Away

I want you and you are not here. I pause
in this garden, breathing the colour thought is
before language into still air. Even your name
is a pale ghost and, though I exhale it again
and again, it will not stay with me. Tonight
I make you up, imagine you, your movements clearer
than the words I have you say you said before.
Wherever you are now, inside my head you fix me
with a look, standing here whilst cool late light
dissolves into the earth. I have got your mouth wrong,
but still it smiles. I hold you closer, miles away,
inventing love, until the calls of nightjars
interrupt and turn what was to come, was certain,
into memory. The stars are filming us for no one.

Words, Wide Night

Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.
This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.
La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine
the dark hills I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you and this
is what it is like, or what it is like in words.


Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.
Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

4. Zero advice from Fran Lebowitz:

DAVID: This interview is actually going to be published in February, so in the spirit of Valentine's day do you have any advice for the lovelorn?
FRAN: There's no such thing as advice to the lovelorn. If they took advice, they wouldn't be lovelorn. You see, advice and lovelorn don't go together. Because advice makes love sound like some sort of cognitive activity, but we know that it isn't. We all know that it's some sort of horrible chemical reaction over which we have absolutely no control. And that's why advice doesn't work.

DAVID: Being in love is a chemical activity?
FRAN: In love, lovelorn, anything having to do with romantic love, has nothing to do with the ostensible ability to think.

[from Index magazine]

Friday, February 10, 2006

Zaturnnah: Ze Muzikal!

The cast and collaborators of Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal: That's Eula Valdes (who plays ZZZ) standing in the center; sitting in the center is Ricci Chan (Didi) and lying on his side in the center is Tuxqs Rutaquio (Ada). ZZZ is flanked by Agot Isidro (Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux) and Kalila Aguilos (Femina understudy). Click on the pic to enlarge.

Yvette and I just watched the dress tech rehearsal of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah: Ze Muzikal last night, and we had a blast. It's based of course on Carlo Vergara's excellent comic book, which was so good that I must admit I had misgivings about it being adapted for any other medium. Fans of the original story can breathe a sigh of relief -- for the most part, they did it right. You'll laugh! You'll scream! You may even cry. But immediately afterwards, you'll be laughing again.

As the press release says, it's "a fresh take on the usual superhero story" -- "but this time, the superhero(ine) is a simple provincial gay beautician named Ada who transforms into voluptuous Zsazsa Zaturnnah possessing uncanny strength after swallowing a huge stone. Yes, it's Darna in drag."

Tuxqs Rutaquio as Ada is great; just the right amounts of sarcasm, vulnerability and strength. Ricci Chan owns the part of Didi, Ada's flamboyant assistant and best friend; it's hard to imagine anyone else playing it so well -- s/he steals almost every scene s/he's in, and gets a lot of laughs through lines that are, or at least appear to be, ad-libbed. Eula Valdes as Zsazsa really works -- she does the bitchy one-liners and slapstick stuff and action scenes with little heed for her personal safety or dignity (which, believe me, is a good thing, in this case).

Arnold Reyes is fine as neighborhood hunk Dodong, though he seems to have lost a few IQ points in the transition from page to stage. We agreed that Agot Isidro as main kontrabida Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux, while good, should have been a bit more over-the-top, should have had more fun with her role -- it would be interesting to see what understudy Kalila Aguilos does with it. The supporting cast really earns its keep, by the way -- as townspeople, zombies, and backup singers, they attack each and every one of their minor roles with energetic improvisation (as Yvette and I learned when one of them addressed us directly during a wonderfully chaotic street-vendor scene).

The official run begins today, February 10, and there are shows throughout February up until March 5. If you liked the comics, or if you just want to watch a fun (and funny) original musical, you'll enjoy Zsazsa Zaturnnah: Ze Muzikal! (Call the Tanghalang Pilipino office at 832-3661 or 832-1125 locals 1620/1621 or email ccptanghalan at yahoo.com for tickets, reservations and inquiries).

PS. Just found out -- according to Carlo's blog, "almost half of the shows have been fully booked even before the run has started". Hurry! :)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Definition of Senseless Tragedy

Got an email from my friend Oli Reyes last Saturday, about the tragedy at the ULTRA:
Unbelievable. Wowowee just went on the air. Apparently, the several thousand people who did get into ULTRA are still there, waiting for the show to begin. I am typing this as the events transpire.

Willie Revillame standing on the ULTRA stage. As he entered, people started screaming "Wow wow Willie! Wow wow Willie!” Then he starts crying. At the sight of him weeping, people start screaming again, "Wow Wow Willie." One person screams "Willie ang gwapo mo!"

He then starts speaking, in tears, asking for apologies, saying that he only wanted to help people. He pleads with the crowd to understand what happened, and implicitly not to blame him or ABS for the tragedy... He couldn't believe it all happened. He asks people not to get mad if the show was not to go on. Most of his remarks are greeted by applause, except the one about please don't get mad if the show didn't go on. Willie Revillame then pleads for national unity.

Noli de Castro then comes up on stage, without much applause, except when he notes the fact that most of the people still have tickets which apparently will be redeemable or somehow still usable. Probably after minutes of looking, ABS is finally able to cut to a shot of sad faces in the crowd. The sad people look suspiciously rich and beautiful, and are probably ABS staffers. Cut to Mike Defensor, standing beside a man in drag makeup who in fairness looks sad. Noli actually sounds authoritative, calming, and sober, fatherly even. Willie on the other hand looks like a teen who just crashed his dad's car into 79 people.

I get the sense that these people inside Ultra had no idea of the extent of the carnage until Noli pointedly notes that "there are 79 dead bodies lined up in the streets."

Charo Santos now, no applause, her film career having died years ago. She pats Willie on the shoulder. I bet he's fired after two months, if only as part of the legal defense strategy. She apologizes, then goes into flight attendant mode, asking people to line up in an orderly fashion as they step out of ULTRA.

Willie then asks everybody to stand up for a minute of silence to pray for the dead. Noli and Charo then thank everyone and ask everyone to leave. People start repeatedly screaming "Wowowee! Wowowee!", thus revealing an appalling lack of perspective.

Sabi naman ni Tabachoi:
Ganito yan e. Imagine mong may hawak kang isang pirasong pritong manok. Tapos sa harap mo, may limang tao na hindi pa kumakain ng limang araw. Sinabi mong mapupunta ang manok sa mauunang makaabot sa manok. Winagayway mo yung manok sa harap nila na parang matador na may hawak na pulang tela sa harap ng toro. Hindi nila alam na may bangin pala sa tabi mo. Hindi sila nakatingin sa bangin. Sa manok sila nakatingin. Nahulog silang lahat. Namatay ang lima. Tapos hindi mo aaminin na kasalanan mo?

(Links to FrancisM and Conrado de Quiros' takes on the tragedy from his post).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Galaxies, Dancefloors, Etcetera

According to the snazzy Team Manila calendar on my wall, it's February -- and therefore, time for another mix CD made up of what I've been listening to for the past few weeks. Some of you have already been given copies; will burn more for other friends soon. :)

cabs, girls and galaxies
february 2006 mix

01. Send Help > The Modern Temper
02. Dinner Lady Arms > The Darkness
03. Carly (Goddess of Death) > The Capes
04. Roscoe > Midlake
05. Galaxies > Laura Veirs
06. I Wanna Know Girls > Portastatic
07. Black Cab > Jens Lekman
08. This Piece of Poetry is Meant to Do Harm > The Ark
09. Trains to Brazil > Guillemots
10. Por Que Te Vas? > Los Super Elegantes
11. Sheffield Shanty > Monkey Swallows the Universe
12. Recovery > New Buffalo
13. Concrete Jungle > Mig
14. Miles > The Southland
15. Hold Hands and Fight > The Rosebuds

I like all these songs a lot, naturally, but the best for me are the ones by The Modern Temper, Guillemots, Monkey Swallows the Universe, New Buffalo, The Southland, and The Rosebuds. "Send Help" is this great spiky-poppy concoction that starts off sounding slightly difficult, sails into an immensely appealing chorus, and then ends with what sounds like a duel between an electric guitar and a toy raygun. "Trains to Brazil" swings and grins and hits you upside the head with a brass section. The Southland sounds like a less wide-eyedly innocent Postal Service, and The Rosebuds are sad and inspiring all at once.

This was last December's edition:

beer, editors and dancefloors
december 2005 mix

01. Bullets > Editors
02. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor > Arctic Monkeys
03. Cash Machine > Hard-Fi
04. Love’s on the Inside > Surefire
05. Is It Alright? > The Lovemakers
06. Are You On My Side > Rogue Wave
07. You Are the Girl > The Cars
08. You Only Live Once > The Strokes
09. When the Sunset Turns Red > Tsuneo Imahori
10. Beer > Itchyworms
11. Chicken Payback > The Bees
12. Deceptacon > Le Tigre
13. Rise Up with Fists! > Jenny Lewis
14. Winter in the Hamptons > Josh Rouse
15. Higher > Soft
16. Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts > Sufjan Stevens

I've been compiling mix CDs for friends for some time, of course, but last year it started to become a more or less regular thing (if three bimonthly installments is enough to constitute regularity). The December and October mixes were more of a clash of new and old than the current one, as you can see.

plans, headaches and sunshine
october 2005 mix

01. Plan to Stay Awake > The Deathray Davies
02. Here Comes the Headache > Spouse
03. You Make Me Wanna Die > Soft
04. Dilaudid (Marrtronix Version) > The Mountain Goats
05. Love's a Game > The Magic Numbers
06. Life in the D > Brendan Benson
07. Shut Your Eyes > Shout Out Louds
08. I Love a Man in a Uniform (Yeah Yeah Yeahs Remix) > Gang of Four
09. Love and Neon Lights > Niccokick
10. Straight Outta Compton > Nina Gordon
11. Dedication > The Numbs
12. Weightlifting > Trashcan Sinatras
13. We Can Have It > The Dears
14. Worry About the Wind > Hal
15. Sun > The Toms

Go! Go! Go!

If this world were less wayward and insane, "The Power is On" by The Go! Team would be a bigger hit than "Hollaback Girl." It's not a completely random comparison -- the Go! Team song shares a certain cheerleading quality with the Gwen Stefani track, but it is twenty times more awesome.

This was one of the revelations that came to me while I was watching my new Cool Britannia 2 DVD, a.k.a. "the best of British Pop and Rock Live." Other revelations: one of my new favorite bands, Hard-Fi, really suck live. And one of my old favorite bands, New Order, really really suck live. Not because they sound bad, as such, but because lead singer Bernard Sumner insists on hopping around and twirling in a dementedly awkward, dad's-gone-disco unintentional parody of frontman cool. Luckily, many of the performances were by bands that looked and sounded great live -- "Helicopter" by Bloc Party, "Michael" by Franz Ferdinand, "You Will You Won't" by The Zutons, etcetera. Radiohead doing "There There" was particularly good. On the other hand, on Coldplay's "Trouble," Chris Martin jerked around like he was being controlled by muppeteers; Graham Coxon's massive musical talent doesn't seem to extend to his singing; and even Travis seemed bored by their own rendition of "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?"

And The Fall -- somebody British please explain to me why Mark E Smith is still allowed onstage. His band sounds great, but he looks older than my grandfather, and my grandfather's dead. Age wouldn't be a problem if he could actually sing coherently, or in fact do anything coherently, but all he seemed capable of was slurring and drooling on the microphone. It's possible that he's suffering from some debilitating disease and I'm being horribly insensitive, that his performance was the soul-stirring Jools Holland equivalent of, say, a quadruplegic kid breakdancing for the Pope. In any case, I will say that he embarrassed himself less than Bernard Sumner did.

Am going to go watch "The Power is On" a few more times now. Excuse me.