Wednesday, March 29, 2006

BURN: Music Matters

The BURN Staff! Standing, L to R: Marcus Nada, me, Denise Mallabo, Zach Lucero. Seated, L to R: Kat von Einsiedel, Dave Yogore, Kristine Fonacier

It's almost here! After a number of disputes, delays, bouts of soul-searching, and several sessions of full contact Krav Maga, BURN -- the best music magazine in the known universe -- is set to launch this April. It will have features galore, lovely layouts by Dave and Marcus, lotsa good writing, AND a free CD with songs and interviews, compiled and hosted by Zach.

I wrote four of the main features (and co-wrote another one, with Yvette) -- and am in charge of the Reviews section, supposedly. My Review Crew for the first issue consists of Thor Balanon, Dodo Dayao, Kristine, myself, Denise, JP Ong, Cait Poblador, Cris Ramos Jr. and Yvette Tan. :)

I was looking over the layouts a couple of weeks ago, and I can't wait to hold the actual magazine in my hands. There'll be four different covers for the first issue, featuring four different artists that run the gamut from indie-rock to glossy pop. Something for every music aficionado, we hope. More details soon! And more staff shots here and here. (Thanks to Denise for the pix!)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Matrimony by the Sea

Am still smiling over the fact that Avel, one of my oldest and best friends, got married yesterday to his lovely love, Ely! The reception was held on the beach at a resort in Nasugbu, and it was great. I've attended enough weddings by now to have developed an aversion to those all-too formal, standard (read: boring, unfun) hotel receptions that cost too much and pack too many strangers into some sterile, well-lit ballroom. Um, no offense to anyone who may be reading this who had a reception like that; there are enjoyable exceptions. :)

Anyway, because it was a relatively small gathering of close friends and family -- and because, hey, we were on a beach, and the weather was really nice -- the whole affair had a happy, laid-back, party-like atmosphere. Yvette and I had a blast.

As for the photo above -- I'll let JB, the Best Man, explain, by quoting something he posted on our online barkada logbook a few days ago. "Okay, so Avel's got this idea for his wedding to use lanterns instead of the usual doves. He saw them in a news clip. I remember seeing some in the movie version of The Beach. Ely's friends mention meron daw in that Heath Ledger film Casanova. Kidlat saw it done when he was in Vietnam." So that's what they're launching in the photo: a paper lantern, working on the principle of hot-air balloons. It looked wonderful when it finally sailed upwards into the night sky. We oohed and aahed and hoped it wouldn't descend on any flammable rooftops. (It didn't, whew.)

Avel asked me to compile some songs to serve as background music during dinner and after. "Basta bagay sa beach," was my understanding. So there was a lot of reggae stuff, of course, sprinkled with some soul and Brazilian stuff and even some hip-hop. Here's a partial list of the stuff I selected to play during dinner:

Ive Mendes > Voce
Sound > bossaManila
Simply Red > Sunrise
The New Mastersounds feat. Corinne Bailey Rae > Your Love is Mine
Big Mountain > Baby I Love Your Way
Jimmy Cliff > Shelter Of Your Love
Al Green > Let's Stay Together
Aztec Camera > All I Need is Everything
Beth Orton > Daybreaker (Roots Manuva remix)
Tropical Depression > Mahal Kita
Cassandra Wilson > Until
Sugar Minott > Good Thing Going

As much as possible, I wanted the lyrics to reflect the romance of the occasion. In general, though, I chose songs more for the way they sounded than the actual lyrical content, although I'm pretty sure I weeded out any songs with references to ho's, drugs or Satan worship. (Okay, maybe not drugs. We are talking about reggae, after all.) Here's some of the dancier, livelier stuff I selected for after dinner:

No Doubt > Hey Baby
Snoop Dogg feat Pharell Williams > Beautiful
Bob Marley > Is This Love
Third World > Now That We've Found Love
Erykah Badu > Love of my Life (Worldwide)
Common > The Light
Lauryn Hill + Bob Marley > Turn Your Lights Down Low
No Doubt > Underneath It All
Brownman Revival > Ngayong Gabi
Hemp Republic > Himig Ng Pag-ibig
Johnny Nash > Stir It Up
Jimmy Cliff > Wonderful World Beautiful People

Congratulations to Avel and Ely! We had a great time. It was a wonderful party, to mark the official beginning of a wonderful union. When I get married, I want it to be like that. Seriously.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Vote for Bagetsafonik

Picture by Bernie, stolen from their Yahoogroup

A text from Bernie Sim: Yey nakakakilig! "Saccharine," Bagetsafonik's 1st single, is on NU! Support le bagets! Vote:

1. txt: NUVOTE (space) SACCHARINE, send to 29107
2. call: 636.0093
3. fax: 634.6516

This is great news; as anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows, I'm a fan of Bagetsafonik, and I can't wait for the full-length release! (Hmm, "full-length release"... sounds sorta Brokeback).

Haven't heard "Saccharine" yet? Go to the Bagetsafonik yahoogroup and sign up, then check out the Files section to listen to the song. :)

Industrial-Strength Interlace

Those of you who are into dark, dramatic, skull-pounding music will be excited to know -- that is, if you don't already know -- that European industrial act Interlace are performing here this week. I've been told that they're the first foreign industrial act to come to our shores. Here's their schedule, more or less (9pm onwards each playdate, tickets at the entrance):

Friday, March 24
6underground, Carlos Palanca St., Makati (with Skies of Ember, etc)

Saturday, March 25
Vida de Malate, Nakpil St., Malate (with Rubber Inc, etc)

Monday, March 27
Absinthe, Greenbelt 3, Makati (with The Late Isabel, etc)

If you're wondering what they sound like, you can download some mp3 samples from their site. Also, here's a description of their second album:
Imago is the second conceptual phase of Interlace. During Innuendo, the first phase, a foetus was conceived and cloned. Now it is time for the foetus to leave its incubator and enter the world outside. The sharp cold, the naked tile walls, the harshness of unfamiliar sounds... and, somewhere beyond the blinding light, reality.

From that, I think you can pretty much guess whether this act is your cup of absinthe, or not.

The King of Nothing to Do #21 / Launching Latitude

Yep, the 21st installment of my biweekly column at the Manila Bulletin is out today, which means I've been writing it for 42 (42! The answer to the Ultimate Question!) weeks now, which means I am very close to hitting my first year anniversary. *does cartwheels of joy* The latest column is about the Latitude book launch, which I apparently can't shut up about just yet. (Actually, it's a compiled-and-expanded version of my three Latitude-related posts. Yay, the benefits of blogging!) Wait 'til my own book* comes out in May -- I'll probably be posting about it for the rest of the friggin' year.

*Details soon. It'll be my first collection of nonfiction, and my second book overall.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Great Scots! / Saving the Universe with Lux and Alby

Largely because of the recent Latitude launch, I found myself trying to list my favorite Scottish bands and writers yesterday -- the Top 5 of each. It was easy to come up with the bands: The Blue Nile, Teenage Fanclub, Primal Scream, Aztec Camera and the Cocteau Twins. Coming up with writers was a little more difficult. Kenneth Grahame has to be on that list, and A.A. Milne, and yes, Grant Morrison (though aside from a short story in an anthology and the posts on his website, I admit to having read precious little of his prose, and base his inclusion entirely on his brilliant comics). Arthur Conan Doyle too. I was stuck for a fifth.

Until I remembered Martin Millar. Not comics writer Mark Millar, who can be very good but who can also be very tiresome, but Martin Millar, author of Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, which I was fortunate enough to find on one of my Book Sale jaunts, back in the 90s. According to The Daily Mail, "It throbs with street-cred, crazed comedy and flick-knife sharp jibes at 20th-century urban life."

Martin Millar is no stranger to comics either, as you can see. (You can read the first two issues of the series at the site.) I've forgotten where I bought the two or three copies of "Lux and Alby Sign On And Save The Universe" that I own; probably in one of those comics shops that are no longer around, like Platinum (I used to have a Platinum membership card! It had a picture of Spawn on it.) As the blurb says, Lux and Alby is "a fantastic (and upsetting) adventure, featuring beautiful Goddesses, unhappy plants, sad rocks, a lot of kissing, and a full scale assault on Nirvana."

Old Angst

"You are in the city, the city that will house your dreams and break your heart."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Breakfast in NYC" by Oppenheimer

"Summer's in your heart, and I know that you're staying." Yay for head-bobby happy-sounding summery songs! The way the band Oppenheimer uses synths reminds me of The Rentals. Here's the description from Fingertips:
Subtract the synthesizers -- both the fuzzy, deep one and the dingly high one -- and the song is revealed at its core to be Beach-Boys pure (the very first word, even, is "Summer"), its Brian Wilson-y sing-song verse setting up a heart-bursting hook in the chorus. It's a hook that packs a grand wallop for almost no apparent reason: the melody takes what sound like joyful leaps both upward and downward that all turn out to be that most pedestrian of intervals, the third. A third is the basic building block of music; all chords are based on thirds. And yet here the interval sounds towering, revelatory -- probably due to both the singer's immaculate tone and the irresistible use of echo harmonies as the thirds alternate achingly between major and minor chords. Ahhhh -- just brilliant.

I love that line that goes "Saw you going crazy on the dancefloor." :) Download it here (scroll to THIS WEEK'S FINDS: March 12-18, right click and "Save Link As"). Two minutes twenty-three seconds of singalong synth-pop!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Meet Bollocks the Bear

So Yvette and I went to the launch of Latitude last night, and were given these cute little stuffed bears in Royal Guard uniforms -- free! -- at the entrance. (Now don't you wish you had gone?) There were Actual Scottish People there, as well as the head honchos of Anvil and the British Council, not to mention fellow contributors Dean Alfar, Butch Dalisay, Menchu Aquino Sarmiento, and of course co-editor Sarge Lacuesta. We sat at a table with Sarge, and Menchu, who wrote one of my favorite books of 2003 -- Daisy Nueve. There was Johnnie Walker aplenty, and a great performance by Cynthia Alexander, whose husband is apparently a Scotsman. There was also a quiz portion, where people mostly failed to list seven James Bond movies starring Sean Connery. There were readings by the authors, and then they served us a dish that was allegedly a combination of haggis and sisig. I say "allegedly" because I didn't taste it. Yvette said it was okay though.

All in all, a pretty fun night. Thanks to Sarge for recruiting me for the book, and thanks to the people who dropped by because of me: Avel, Emon, Hagee, JB, Kidlat, Perce, and of course Yvette.

As for our little bears, we decided to give them quintesentially British names, so we named them after the most quintessentially British words we know. So Yvette's bear is named Wanker, and my bear's name is Bollocks.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


They're launching Latitude later -- edited by Sarge Lacuesta and Toni Davidson, it's "the first literary collaboration between the UK and the Philippines, collecting short fiction from seven Scottish and seven Filipino writers." (The cover image above is from Dean's blog.) I'm one of the seven Filipino writers, though you wouldn't know it to look at this press release. Seriously, people, if you have seven writers and you list four of them, the other three are going to feel a little homicidal. Or suicidal. I haven't decided yet.

The story that I submitted for this collection is a rather old one, but it's one of the stories I'm proudest of: "Subterrania." If I thought of my story collections as mix tapes, this is the one I would put in the 1st or 2nd slot, something to grab the reader early on.

Anyway! I was actually there when the seeds of this anthology were sown. Sarge, Ruel de Vera, Bing Sitoy and I were asked to deliver lectures at a literary conference organized by the British Council a few years ago; that was where we met poet Menna Elfyn, and Toni Davidson, who made an impression immediately with his deadpan, twisted sense of humor. Although now that I think of it, there's a possibility that when he asked us where he might rent some smooth young Filipino boys, we just assumed he was joking.

Sarge and Toni kept in touch; Toni dropped by again last year, and I remember a whole bunch of us writers gathering at British Council Philippines Director Dr. Gill Westaway's house, and getting tipsy, reading from our works, and just generally making asses of ourselves. A photo of our group ran in one of those UK Link magazines, and you can clearly see the telltale signs of inebriation in our reddened faces, as well as the complete and baffling absence of pants.

Am dropping by later, though I'll probably have to leave fairly early. Here's to the Scots, here's to us Flips, and here's to stories various and startling.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sad Movies Always Make Me Cry

Watched Sad Movie recently. Kind of fun to realize that I can now instantly appreciate how 'star-studded' this film is, after having watched quite a number of Korean flicks since my very first one, Il Mare. The guy from My Sassy Girl is here. So is the girl from (Ah, Im Soo-jeong! Sigh.) That woman from A Bittersweet Life is here too, and I now regret calling her "a low-rent Jeon Ji-hyeon," especially since I also saw her kick ass in Volcano High.

Anyway, here's an excerpt from the excellent Love HK Film review:
Talk about truth in advertisement. This mostly entertaining, star-packed film lives up to its title, although not necessarily in the way one might expect. Rather than deliver a straightforward melodrama, director Kwon Jong-Gwan instead delivers a genuinely funny romantic comedy, only to pull the rug out from under the audience in a brutally depressing final act. [...] Imagine a film in which likeable characters encounter life-altering problems, struggle to overcome them, and then seem to actually make some headway, only to have all their hopes eventually dashed in a swift and brutal fashion. If you can do that, you'll have some inkling of what Sad Movie is all about.

My favorite parts, aside from any of the scenes with Im Soo-jeong in them, were the funny bits: a bunch of amusement park employees in Seven Dwarfs costumes taking shelter from the rain, the sign-language banter between two sisters, the Seven Dwarfs beating up some hapless artist, and pretty much the whole Sassy Guy subplot, complete with absurd and amusing business venture. The movie-of-the-week mother and child stuff didn't grab me at all, and even the fireman story needed to be more compelling. Still, overall, it's fun to watch, at least until -- as Love HK Film puts it -- IT ALL GOES TO HELL!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Veni, Vidi, Vina

So the March 2006 issue of MANUAL magazine is out -- an almost-naked Isabel Roces, holding a chicken, is on the cover -- and it features my interview with singer/dancer/actress Vina Morales. Here's the first couple of paragraphs:
I think I was around 10 years old the first time I saw Vina Morales in person. Every year around Christmas time, a small and rather makeshift carnival would spring up near our village; while it had the usual attractions like a Ferris wheel and a shooting gallery, it was limited and ill-maintained, no bigger or cleaner than your average school fairground. For a preteen boy and his family, however, it was exciting enough, especially in those days, and our excitement was heightened a notch that year because of the celebrity supposedly in our midst. "It's Vina Morales," people around us whispered -- and there, standing less than twenty feet away from us was a young, petite, extremely cute girl wearing what my mind recalls as a red jacket of some shiny material, going around, oblivious to the attention she was drawing, looking at what the booths had to offer.

In the end, it may or may not have actually been Vina Morales, but what strikes me about the memory is that at the time, even though she was already undeniably a household name, it was completely plausible that she might pop up in some dinky neighborhood carnival near FTI in Parañaque, without fanfare or entourage. Despite her popularity as a singer and actress and the considerable talents that have marked her as anything but ordinary, she always had that accessible, 'you could bump into her on the street' quality, which is just one element of her seemingly universal appeal. Elderly aunts like her because she comes off as sweet and unassuming, younger cousins like her because she's, well, hot, and in all likelihood she's a hit among newborn babies as well, not that they can tell us.

More Vina pix, taken with my ancient Canon digicam, here and here. (Just to clarify, the stylist was going for a sort of Flashdance/"Hung Up" Madonna look here; Vina Morales doesn't dress like this in real life. Also, the actual photos for the magazine spreads were taken by a real photographer -- Pat Dy -- and are much nicer.)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Boy and His Dog

A friendly reminder from Copper and Fred.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

State of Emergency

"I've always said every time I hear calls for this country to finally come together that this country has never had any problems uniting. It has done so repeatedly and, as in the case of the two Edsa People Power uprisings, completely resplendently. Unfortunately, as the case of the two Edsa revolts also shows, Filipinos find it a lot easier to unite in fighting against a common threat than in fighting for a common good." -- from Conrado de Quiros' column today

Lots of interesting links on Adam's page about the current state of the nation. (Also on Adam's page: protest poetry, Dr. Strange, and pictures of girls in bikinis).

What We Blog About

Got a link to this "word cloud generator" from Dean. Basically, it creates a little snapshot of what you write about on your blog (or any site, for that matter); I assume the larger words are the ones used more often. Apparently, we post about Bamboo more than I thought -- and wait, no mention of Pogi Rock?! I like that little "yay" and "yeah" near the bottom, between "writing" and "years".

In other news, Yvette and I made the Neil Gaiman Writing Contest deadline. Whew. *collapses*