Thursday, December 30, 2004

Radio Gaga

Hope Robyn doesn't mind me posting this. :) It's sort of music-related, and, more importantly, it gave me a much-needed laugh. More insane doodling at Fear the noog!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A Great Disturbance in the Force

Not music-related, except perhaps the momentary thought that popped into my head, wondering if Bono or Bob Geldof or any other rock star's going to make a benefit music video for this, and please please God make it good and not embarrassing and moving enough for people to dig deep into their pockets.

As of this hour, the latest CNN reports peg the dead at 56,000. FIFTY-SIX THOUSAND PEOPLE. And we're not even counting the toll in secretive Myanmar, whose exposed coastline is far longer than Thailand's, and whose location, scientists say, may have made it worse hit. We're not counting, either, the death toll from disease and hunger that health workers know will come in the next weeks. The numbers were already devastating yesterday, when the initial reports put the dead at 5,000. Now it's risen over tenfold, with more to come.

So, friends, if any of you would like to take some time out and say a prayer for those who lost their lives in the disaster, and their families who grieve, please do so. And if anyone would like to make a donation to a relief agency, you can follow the links here:

Action Against Hunger
ADRA International
Association for India's Development
Catholic Relief Services
Christian Children's Fund
Direct Relief International
Doctors Without Borders
Food for the Hungry, Inc.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Medical Corps
MAP International
Mercy Corps
Network for Good
Operation USA
Project Concern International
Save the Children USA
U.N. World Food Programme
World Concern

Most of these are US-based organizations, but the websites will take donations from all over the world through secure credit card transactions. has also created a system that will allow its customers to donate to Red Cross through its site.

K2 also tells me that her company as offered to match any donations made by their employees, so if you would like to pool your contributions with ours, please let me know.

Thank you.


UPDATE 03 January 2005
The latest reports on the news peg the death toll at over 155,000, thrice what it was a week ago. If you are able, please make a contribution to the relief efforts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Wrapper's Delight

Ho ho ho, and all that that implies! My dining table is laden, not with artery-clogging foodstuffs as it would normally be, but with unrolled rolls of gift wrapper and yet-to-be-wrapped gifts. Remind me, by the way, never to do Christmas shopping in Fully Booked again, at least not until I am a kazillionaire. Not that I got anyone anything that expensive -- my friends are mostly just getting be-ribboned copies of the bookstore's free newsletter that I filched from the counter (hope you guys don't mind) -- but on every shelf, I found something I wanted. Me, me, me.

Yesterday, I interviewed Francis M, Andrew E, and Jennifer Ventura. I know what y'all are thinking: "Jennifer WHO?!" That girl needs a better publicist, if she's going to be the Philippines' next R&B sensation (and I hope it happens -- a nicer, sweeter, more earnest pop star would be hard to imagine. Then again, I haven't heard her sing yet). Meanwhile, Francis and Andrew proved that growing up with the socially-crippling impediment of having merely a single consonant or vowel for a last name does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a full-fledged hip-hop icon, at least not in the Philippines.

Later: possible reunion with high school and college friends, some of whom have come back from such far-flung, practically-imaginary-as-far-as-I'm-concerned places as Japan and the UK. Also, a gig at Gasoline Alley, with Sandwich, Imago, Sugarfree, Cambio and (yay) Pedicab performing! If only Cambio and Pedicab would make shirts in my size. Then they would be even better bands. As it is, the non-T-shirtness is seriously holding them back.

Songs on the Blender 50 Worst Songs Ever list that I enjoy, to this very day: "Shiny Happy People" by REM ("Throw your love around!"), "MMM MMM MMM MMM" by Crash Test Dummies (the only well-known song an an album full of even better songs), "The Final Countdown" by Europe (bombastic hair-metal, woo hoo), "The Heart of Rock & Roll" by Huey Lewis and the News (not my favorite Huey Lewis song by a long shot, but it's okay), and, y'know what, I don't mind hearing Blender's number one most crap-tastic song of all time, either: "We Built This City" by Starship. I mean, I don't seek it out, but I wouldn't flee from a supermarket that was blaring it on its PA system.

Now we're both getting our rock critic licenses revoked. ;p That's okay, I can try my hand at beekeeping.

Friday, December 17, 2004


I've finally read the "What We're Listening To" article in this month's PULP--an interesting concept, even if the title ends in a preposition--and I've to agree: Chris Hermosisima's answer was the lamest, while Georgette Tengco's was the best. You know what would be a great follow-up feature, though? A feature on people's listening histories, to trace the artists and genres they've liked and loved over the course of their lives-so-far. Sort of a "How We Got to What We're Listening to Now" piece, only hopefully with a less awkward title.

I thought this up after reading the May 2004 issue of Blender, which you lent me. "50 Worst Songs Ever!" the title read. "Some have crap-tastic melodies. Others are wretchedly performed. And quite a few don't make any sense whatsoever." It's a really good feature, and very funny, but I was horrified to see how many of the 50 songs listed were songs that I actually liked. Or worse, songs that I like.

Okay, so I'm not going to contest the inclusion of tracks like Gerardo's "Rico Suave" or Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight"--songs that just struck me, even as a particularly gullible pre-teen, as stupid. There are many songs, too, that would have made it to my own list of 50 Worst Songs Ever: Bryan Adams' "The Only Thing that Looks Good on Me is You" ("like someone explaining ZZ Top to an accountant," said the good people at Blender); Meatloaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" ("This epic chunk of histrionic's worst offense is that it doesn't make any sense."); Chicago's "You're the Inspiration" ("Cetara's gratingly affected and over-modulated vocals float over 1984 standard-issue electric piano, and a nation of greasy, awkward seventh graders slow danced for the first time."); Aqua's "Barbie Girl" ("[set to] teeth-rotting synth-pop like a robot pony kicking children to death").

But--and here I'm putting me reputation as a music writer on the line--REM's "Shiny Happy People," Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire," Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence"? These were songs that were landmarks in my listening history. (Would that make them "earmarks"? Just wondering.) Blender's writers are so clever, too, that they make an absolutely convincing case about how bad these tracks are. How come I never noticed that "Shiny Happy People" had a riff that sounded like "a cellphone ring tone chosen by a sociopath," or that the Spin Doctors' "Two Princes" was "the missing link between grunge, the Grateful Dead, and Jamiroquai...that no one was looking for in the first place"? I came away from reading the article feeling that Blender is absolutely right, of course, and I should be stripped of my title, and then dragged into the street and shot for even not-disliking these songs, let alone liking them a lot.

At the hastily assembled mock trial that they will have before they put me to death, I will say in my defense that I was young and hormonal and addled when the songs first came out, and so I can't be blamed for my questionable tastes. I had just been given my first Walkman when Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings" came out in 1985, and they sounded good on the earphones. I had just discovered tequila in 1993, and was therefore too drunk to realize that Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes was "so tormented by what she refered to as her 'lahf'--which he had apparently spent trying to climb that 'heeyuhl of howp'--that she had invented her own accent" to sing "What's Up?"

I'll plead guilty to being pretentious, though, which will explain why I didn't mind The Door's "The End" ("the most pretentious rock star's most pretentious song") or Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence" ("'Hear my words that I might teach you': Officially the most self-important line in rock history!"). As for the rest, I'll blame it on either the continuing effects of alcohol poisoning from my teenage years, basic but temporary lapses in judgment, or peer pressure.

But then again, if there's anything I've learned writing music reviews for over half a decade now, it's that Good Taste isn't all that it's cracked up to be. And Mark Desrosiers of PopMatters agrees, in this pretty good article on "Eight Mistakes that Music Critics Make". I don't agree with everything he says--he's still a fucking music critic, after all, and they are inherently distrustful--but he has a good name. Mark Desrosiers. All music journalists should have such musical, rock-starry names. Yes, like "L uis Kat igbak" and "K ri stine Fon acier," names that say, "We're smart, and opinionated, and funny. You can believe us, and buy us free drinks."

Speaking of which, I need coffee.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

"The difference between you and me, Luis, is that your apartment's not on fire."

Is it wrong to like a band on the basis of their song titles alone? I think not. Especially when the tracklist for their latest album reads like this:

1. Without MSG I Am Nothing
2. That Man Will Not Hang
3. She Will Only Bring You Happiness
4. Kkkitchens, What Were You Thinking?
5. Your Children Are Waiting for You to Die
6. Icarus Smicarus
7. Slay!
8. You Should Be Ashamed, Seamus
9. Lucky Jim
10. Forget About Him I'm Mint
11. 1956 and All That
12. Falco vs. The Young Canoeist
13. Support Systems

"An invigorating and glorious mess of undistilled Rock fury." Sounds good. Santa, are you listening? McLusky's The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire is on my list.

Anyway, Kristine, I never did congratulate you for finally being able to use that statement -- or at least that sentence structure -- in real life, without resorting to using alcohol and a box of matches on a human being. But then again, someone had to set your apartment on fire so you could say it, and that seems a tad excessive to me.

Tonight I will be at the MTV VJ Hunt Kick-off Party, for which I wrote the script. My favorite parts of the script were cut out at last night's meeting, but that's the way it goes. So much for the impromptu kickboxing match between KC Montero and Marc Abaya, not to mention Sarah Meier's breakdancing number.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sloth, etc

Yay, it's the Periodic Table of Sloth! "And if you plan things out right, you can enjoy snacks, television, and bed all at once. And when you do, you'll know you have achieved your life's ultimate ambition." Other T-shirts that are fun to look at but that I will never order because I don't live in the States are here.

I was once part of a group of people who would meet every month to exchange mix CDs (an idea that's worth reviving, actually, if we can cobble together some good people who are up for it). We stopped when the group became too big and unwieldy -- I think. Actually, the real reasons behind the group falling apart may never be known. Anyway, we would agree on monthly themes, and the last theme we agreed upon was "Deadly Sins." We never did get to exchange our mixes on that theme, but I did go through a short period of wondering how to structure mine.

Would I cover the gamut with, say, two or three songs per sin? Would I concentrate on a few ("These are a few of my faaavorite sins...")? Or could I cobble together a whole CD of songs to represent, say, Sloth (Lust and Wrath being a little too easy to find rock n' roll odes to)? Let's see, Teenage Fanclub's "Alcoholiday," maybe Dinosaur Jr.'s "The Wagon" (or pretty much almost anything by Dinosaur Jr.), and so on. Greed would have been easy too, I could have slapped together an all-bling-bling hip-hop mix. Same goes for Pride. Gluttony, now that would have been a bit of a challenge. And Envy (suddenly I can't get that horrible Rick Springfield song about "Jessie's Girl" out of my head).

Sunday, December 12, 2004

And You Don't Stop

It's half past 4 AM and I am pissed off. I'm pissed off because I know there's no way I'm going to write the main feature for our January issue to my satisfaction. I have, what, three days left to write about 27 freakin' artists. So far I've got an interview with Artstrong and a "Keith Martin go home" quote from 17:28. I knew this feature was going to be trouble, I knew I needed help -- but when I tried to get some help, from one guy (our hip-hop-reviewing freelancer JP), well, you know what our apoplectic cost-conscious boss had to say about that. And then I learn that for the exact same kind of feature, exact same number of artists, in the year 2000, he hired a small army of 11 writers. It makes me want to squeeze hamsters 'til their eyes pop out.

So now I'm getting text messages IN ALL CAPS bugging me about the story, and in the meantime, the pagination isn't even done yet, so I can't even gauge how much writing I do have to generate, and etcetera etcetera mutter mutter grumble grumble. I have this weird feeling that V. wants me to fuck up, to finally write a really crappy feature. Anyway, I should just stop griping and do what I can do, I know.

Okay. That's off my chest. It doesn't help that I've taken on so much freelance work, as usual. To refer once again to Kidlat's infamous juggling-as-life metaphor, I haven't quite dropped all my balls yet -- am still keeping some of them in the air -- but two or three of them are rolling around on the floor, and I don't know how long it'll be before I drop the rest. Ideally, I should be able to keep juggling (say, with one hand) while bending down to pick up the fallen pieces, but that may be beyond my skill, or patience, or drive. We'll see.

Haven't listened to music all day. Can't even think of anything I want to listen to. Been feeling the same way about food, too. Not a good sign.

On a happier note, my sister gave me a copy of Transatlanticism by Death Cab For Cutie when I stayed over at my parents' house Thursday night. Not too long ago, she also got me copies of two Shins albums, a Sigur Ros, and Frou Frou, too. She seems to have fallen in with a good crowd in college, at least music-wise. Ah, how quickly they grow up.

Jovan posted something in reaction to my "What Are You Listening To?" post, yay!

POSTSCRIPT. Sassy B. gave me a practical pep talk RE: the f!@#ing hip-hop article. I know what to do now. Thanks, bunny! :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

What You Listening To, Fool?

So any day now, the year-ender issue of PULP should be hitting the stands -- a little late, to be sure, but hey, blame Slipknot -- and one of the features in the December ish is all about What People Are Listening To Now. Not all people, you understand -- just the people whose names we managed to pull, rabbit-like, from our brain-hats, and subsequently photograph and interview. Best answer is Georgette Tengco's (I suggested her, so I get to gloat) -- she listed the listening habits of the whole MTV Pilipinas office, explaining that she's basically forced to listen to what the people around her are playing. Worst answer is some radio station guy's -- "I listen to our station... so that I know it's still on the air." Most inspiring is the hardcore janitor's answer: punk, ska, Selecter, The Specials... oi!

As for myself, most of my daily music consumption is determined by what mp3s I managed to load on my phone (am suddenly reminded of that member of Hoobastank who, during a press conference here, answered the question "What do you listen to?" with -- "My iPod." Sarcasm or stupidity? You decide. But keep in mind the high intellectual content or lack thereof in his band's lyrics). Right now I've got some Charlatans, an ebtg song from Amplified Heart ("We Walk the Same Line"), The Railway Children (looked them up after Mondo Castro gushed about them when I interviewed him for "The Hour That Changed My Life"), Kings of Convenience, Cambio, "Where Is My Mind?" (practically my theme song, I sometimes feel), "Encore" from Eminem's latest album, and too much Manic Street Preachers.

I suppose MTV helps define my listening habits too, as I tend to tune in once or twice a day, if only to check if they're running a new spot I wrote (and therefore owe me money, yay). Saw the latest version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" yesterday morning, and while I know musos hate this kind of stuff, I think that at worst it's harmless and at best it does some good (and excites some fans), so why not. It's not a horrible song, really, and this time around, it has a Justin Hawkins (of the Darkness) guitar solo, and Fran Healy from Travis, Damon Albarn, from Blur (serving tea but not singing), Sir Paul McCartney on bass, Thom Yorke on the piano, the baby-faced singer from Keane, Robbie Williams, and all of the Sugababes, etc., so it's fun to watch. Except for the part where they're all standing in front of a giant screen TV looking at starving Africans (you can almost hear the catch in Joss Stone's throat as her hand flies to cover her mouth, in stunned empathy). I say, if you want real reaction shots, get those buggers out of their comfy studio and fly them to bloody Africa. Don't try to convince us of the deep humanity of the popstars by having them watch television, for Chrissakes. I can just imagine the scene: after they film the assembled musicians watching babies die, Bono claps his hands together and says, "Well! Who's up for a pizza?"

Have also been listening to hip-hop again lately, to psyche myself up for that massive article I'm writing for the Special Hip-Hop Issue in January. I can practically rap the complete lyrics of Common's "The Light" now (but I'll spare you, don't worry), and I've been enjoying stuff by The Roots, Jay-Z, and the posthumously prolific Tupac, as well as Jurassic 5's "A Day at the Races." Yesterday, at the cover shoot, Denise and Cait had managed to gather together Francis M, Andrew E, Ryan of SVC, Artstrong, DJ M.O.D., Gloc-9, DJ Arbie Won, Kimmie from 7 Shots, Dice (or was it K9?) of Dice + K9, and some guy from Salbakuta -- and they were a sight to behold, all lined up against a wall at Prince of Jaipur. Had I been a real enthusiast, I would have been whooping like a drunken cheerleader inside my head. As it was, I could still appreciate the assemblage of hip-hop heavyweights, spanning generations. (Though what generation the ridiculously youthful-looking Francis M belongs to is not apparent at first glance, and one has to remind oneself that he has full-grown children). As Cait said, "I'm not a big hip-hop fan, but this is exciting! We need to do this with rock stars next."

[OT: I took this quiz based on The Little Prince. I know, I know. It figures that I would be The Pilot. "You are the pilot, and the voice of the story. You are the one who creates and tells the stories for those who could not be there. You are unable to be comforted but wish to comfort others. There is a great something missing in your life. Do not forget that you are much loved. Let your sorrow be comforted."]

Friday, December 03, 2004

One Orange for a Lot of Lemons

Those fuckers. I sat down and lunched with them, trusting the fate of the Pinoy rock (awards) scene was safe in their hands. And what did they do? They let Orange & Lemons take home the Best New Artist Award. Over Cambio (who, I can now freely admit, I voted for). Over even The Mongols and Bamboo. Orange and fucking Lemons. Honestly. Those fuckers.

You know what we should do, Luis? We should go form a vigilante group to track down and kill all those judges who voted for O&L, who, as I am sure our gentle readers will agree, deserve to die horrible deaths for the crime of having no taste. I mean, really. Orange & Lemons. Best new artists. ARRRRRGH.

Judgment Bunny's Choice for Best New Artists

Of course, one of those people who might have to die for liking O&L is Margie's adoptive son, Diego Castillo, although I'd spare him just for being so goddamn funny. We had him and his twin, Quark Henares, comment on a list of 10 songs that had become hits over the past year, for an article to be published in this month's issue of MTV INK. Excerpts:

On Kitchie Nadal's "'Wag na 'Wag Mong Sabihin"
QUARK: The song is hook-y. It’s like, “We Are the Champions.”
DIEGO: It’s like an avalanche of hooks. You’re trying to get air, but no! Hooks! Hooks! Hooks! Air! No! Drowning in hooks!
QUARK: I think it’s quite beautiful. I think it was enhanced especially by the appearance of a certain Onemig Bondoc.
DIEGO: Its just, wow! We didn’t see it coming. It was a perfect mix of him and Kitchie.
QUARK: Yes. I felt the love.
DIEGO: And it was, like, his hair was moving!
QUARK: And he was holding his ass, which was just great.
DIEGO: And he had a little bit of his belt out, like he just watched Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Kudos to Mr. Romulo for making such a great video.
QUARK: And to Onemig Bondoc.
DIEGO: And his hair, for moving up and down.

On Rivermaya's "Balisong"
QUARK: “Your face lights up the sky on the highway…” Therefore it’s about someone whose face is on a billboard, ‘diba? Perhaps the daughter of Sharon Cuneta.
DIEGO: Perhaps.
QUARK: Who has the same first name as KC Montero…”But I know you only see me as a friend!”
DIEGO: Is it balisong as in the switchblade, or is it Bali, then song?
QUARK: Well, it’s spelled balisong. And he said it’s his pasalubong to someone.
DIEGO: The someone whose face lights up the Skyway. You know what, she’s everything he wanted and more. My golly.

On Sandara Park's "In or Out"
MARC: Why is she famous here anyway?
MTV INK: It’s a Lito Camo song.
DIEGO: I worked with Lito Camo. Because he was with BMG, during the early, early days of my musical career. Chaperoning him around to Cebu and Davao. Even back then, he was oozing with genius.
DIEGO: Can you be both in and out at the same time?
QUARK: If you are a hermaphrodite, like the two of us. This girl doesn’t even know how to speak English nor Tagalog.
DIEGO: And look at her now.

On Radioactive Sago Project's "Astro"
DIEGO: Tingin ko magandang pang self-motivational tape si Lourd, ‘no? Parang subliminal lang… “Bumili na kayo…bumili na kayo… Puntahan mo si Lito Camo…puntahan mo, puntahan mo… Out sya..di sya in, di sya in…puntahan mo…”

On Cambio's "DV"
QUARK: Ito’yung best Filipino album of the year, for me. Pero alam mo‘yung video? Sobrang perfect sa song.
DC: Kung si RA (Rivera) lang, di gumawa ng video this year, eh. Bwisit! Dammit!
QUARK: Feeling ko si Diego (Mapa) nga one of the three greatest musical geniuses in the Philippines. Si Ely yung isa. Ewan ko kung sino ‘yung third.

On Sandwich's "Two Trick Pony"
DIEGO: This song, fuck, it sucks.
QUARK: I think it’s the most horrible song. And what a video.
DIEGO: What’s up with the hoes? Who the fuck…?
QUARK: “I want to move on…but the groupies are coming for me. Help me.”
DIEGO: The riff is mine, I’ll take credit for the riff. And it sucks!

(Note to all readers of this blog: Did you find this article funny? Please buy the December issue of MTV INK, and then write to our publisher to let him know that you love the magazine just the way it is and hope that we will never, ever, ever change. That you think that changing the magazine will be a horrible mistake, on par with naming Orange & Lemons as the Best New Artists of the year. Thank you.)

And the Winnah Is

So, the NU Rock Awards pushed through last night, despite the storm raging and cows hurtling through the air. Thanks to the Philmusic peeps -- "Here’s a list of the winners as we recall them," they report, italics mine (mine, I tell you! MINE!), which could mean that this whole lineup is a complete fabrication, plucked from their drug-scrambled brains. Certainly the O&L win seems like the work of some unhinged reality-warping super-villain.

Best New Artist: Orange & Lemons
Band/Artist of the Year: Bamboo
Song of the Year: "Noypi" by Bamboo
Album of the Year: Influence by Urbandub
Best Music Video: "Astro" by RadioActive Sago Project
Best Album Packaging: Novena by Slapshock
Vocalist of the Year: Bamboo Manalac (Bamboo)
Guitarist of the Year: Jerome Velasco (The Mongols)
Bassist of the Year: Buddy Zabala (Twisted Halo, Cambio)
Drummer of the Year: Vic Mercado (Bamboo)
Producer of the Year: Sandwich
In The Raw Award: The Late Isabel
Hall of Fame: The Jerks
Female Icon: Cynthia Alexander
Listener’s Choice: Bamboo

Bamboo beats Ebe? Not in my universe (a universe, by the way, where good, free pizza is distributed to all who want it, and new comics arrive at your doorstep every morning -- so don't tell me it's not a much better universe). Influence beats Dramachine and Derby Light? Well... it wasn't a bad album, not at all; was quite impressed by the production and some of the songs. It's just not something that bears repeated listening, to my mind. Fairly chuffed (yay, British-ism), though, about Jerome "Bunny" Velasco and Buddy "Hunka Burnin' Love" Zabala.

Just texted Wawi of The Late Isabel to congratulate her on their In the Raw win. "Thanks, Luis!" she replies. "We didn't quite expect it and we were pretty much drunk while claiming the award." Woo hoo! Rock and roll!