Friday, November 06, 2009

Waya Saturday

Waya will be performing at SaGuijo this Saturday night, November 7, at 10:30 PM. (They're the first band playing for this installment of the excellent Ninja Kiss production night.)

If you've ever seen them before you know they are one of the best live rock acts in the country. If you've never ever watched them I feel bad for you. *sheds tear* BE THERE!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

RJ Ledesma is Hanging Around

"There is no end to writers that attempt to write comedy. Many comics are funny, but few are hilarious. Ledesma is, well, hilarious.

"What makes him even more hilarious than most writers of comedy (and there are not, sadly enough, too many of them in the Philippines, at least not as many as the grim-and-determined, anti-feudalist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-Manila, anti-English, anti-Malacañang constipated types) is that he finds even things familiar to us funny.

"Ledesma was my student in creative writing at De La Salle University. In the beginning, he fancied himself an economist, taking up an undergraduate degree in economics. I like to flatter myself by saying that I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by making him go the route of underpaid, unpaid, unappreciated, unwanted creative writers..."

(From Isagani Cruz's intro for RJ Ledesma's I Do Or I Die -- launching tonight, Thursday, October 22, 6 PM at National Bookstore Glorietta 5. There will be food and drink aplenty. Seeya there!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yvette Tan is Waking the Dead

You know where you have to be tomorrow: at the launch of Yvette Tan's first book, the short story collection Waking The Dead. It is a dark, dream-filled delight, with fictions about strange circumstances, bloody bargains and fiendish fates.

The cover and the interior illustrations are by the amazing Andrew Drilon (see more here!).

Yvette's stories have won two Palancas, as well as a couple of nods from the Neil Gaiman-sponsored Graphic/Fiction awards organized by Fully Booked. Her work has been enthusiastically praised by Gaiman himself, as well as local literary luminaries like Gilda Cordero-Fernando.

"Tan’s stories rise like the enchanted river to meet their readers, the words like brackish water suddenly turning clear. Something is awakened in this book, an irresistible trap of terror and talent from Yvette Tan, whose seductively scary stories will make readers glad they acquiesced when offered this fateful bargain: 'Drink, and your eyes will be opened.'" That's from the advanced review that came out in the Inquirer last Monday. Read the rest here!

The launch is this Saturday, August 15, at Powerbooks Megamall, 4 PM. That's tomorrow! See you there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Words and Shadows: This Year's Philippines Graphic Literary Awards

So, it's been a long long while since I last posted. I've been terribly busy lately -- as I dash off this blog post, I can think of at least a half dozen things I should be doing, instead -- but also, I tend to post more on Twitter and Facebook these days. I guess I enjoy the more immediate -- and yes, somewhat more filtered -- feedback and influence. :)

There are some things that require more than 140 characters and/or a link, though. It was my great pleasure and honor to be one of the judges for this year's Philippines Graphic awards -- renamed the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards in recent years -- along with the illustrious Susan Lara, and of course Graphic literary editor Marra PL. Lanot, who chaired the trio of judges.

Getting a story published in the Graphic marked a definite turning point in my writing career. I was still in high school then, which made the acceptance letter -- with hand-scrawled note from Nick Joaquin, woo hoo! -- doubly mind-blowing. (Later on I would talk with other young writers who had received similar notes upon the acceptance of their first works for the Graphic, and we would get all misty-eyed and crap like that.) And it was always a pleasure to see the illustrations that artist par excellence Jimbo Albano would come up with to accompany my subsequent submissions.

Anyway, there was a big Awards night for the prize-winners, marking the Graphic's 19th anniversary -- and also bestowing honors on The Graphic’s 10 Outstanding Young Leaders, and former Graphic Editor-in-Chief and Palanca Awards Hall of Famer Gregorio Brillantes, who received the first Nick Joaquin Lifetime Achievement Award for "his lifetime of service and achievements as a teacher, journalist and writer of short fiction."

Here's an excerpt from the article by Alma Anonas-Carpio:

"The winners of the Nick Joaquin Awards for Literature were Rosario Cruz-Lucero, who brought home the grand prize of P50,000 for her short story titled “Papa’s Field” published in the August 25, 2008, issue; Erwin F. Castillo, who bagged the second prize of P30,000 for his story “Cape Engaño” which appeared as a two-part story in the Graphic; while the third prize of P20,000 went to Sasha Martinez for her short story “This Fleet of Shadows,” which was published on September 29, 2008."

And here are my comments on the winning stories:

On "Papa's Field" by Rosario Cruz-Lucero:

A long-overdue homecoming, a difference of sensibilities between siblings, the contrast of city and small town: at first glance there is much here that is overly familiar, but as always, it is in the telling that a story takes on its particular power. Each detail is presented with care and sensitivity and surehanded skill; each character comes alive. In the end we are enormously affected by this quiet tale of two sisters, the weight of personal and political history, and the ghosts of dogs and fathers.

On "Cape Engaño" by Erwin F. Castillo:

There is a dark fierce joy at work in this tale of the dead and the dying and the lost. From New Year's revelry to near-death delirium, the author assaults us with vivid imagery, snapshots of a "world unhinged," as the story of Dr. Mikkis Madamba, Regional Representative, and his larger-than-life mother, actress Lumen Madamba, is told. Along the way a young goat is hung from a showerhead and slaughtered, an olfactory comparison is made between Filipino and foreign lovers, and a 13 year-old rock star-worshipping death watcher in boots is hired.

On "This Fleet of Shadows" by Sasha Martinez:

Effortlessly and eloquently captures that early and all-too-brief time in one's life when mothers smell like mornings and every blank surface is a canvas. With colorful charm and a strong subtle sadness, this story depicts and demonstrates the childhood joy of catching words and shadows. Its serene mid-morning stillness reminds us of what we were and what we always end up leaving behind.

The complete article on this year's Nick Joaquin Awards, with all of the judges' comments, is in this week's issue of the Philippines Graphic (cover date July 13, 2009). Congratulations to all the winners! :D

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

UNO: Your New Favorite Magazine

Click to make bigger.

"Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation." ~ Wernher von Braun

It is perhaps not too farfetched to say that von Braun, the man whom NASA regarded as "without a doubt, the greatest rocket scientist in history," may have known what he was talking about.

And that is my fancy way of saying that the utterly revamped UNO -- or what I like to call Your New Favorite Magazine -- is here. All new sections, new design and look, a slew of brilliant contributors, and a staff that should by all rights be in an underground lab creating mad science or in a maximum security prison, to be let out for the occasional choreographed dance routine. Here, read and read!

The launch party proper will be tonight, June 10, at the Mercedes Benz Showroom at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Those of you who got invites, I will be looking forward to seeing you there. :)

All hype aside, we've been working pretty hard on this thing, and we hope you like it. And oh, the things we have in store...

Friday, May 22, 2009

MTV EXIT: Live in Manila

Been so insanely busy this whole week that I almost forgot to blog about this: the big MTV EXIT concert happening tonight, May 22, at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds, 6 PM.

"MTV EXIT is a campaign about freedom -- about our rights as human beings to choose where we live, where we work, who our friends are, and who we love. Millions of people throughout the world have had these basic human rights taken away. They are victims of trafficking -- modern-day slaves -- and have been tricked or forced into illegal labor, or prostitution. MTV EXIT aims to increase awareness and prevention of human trafficking."

Tonight, at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds, MTV EXIT is bringing you a FREE concert featuring: Christian Bautista, Parokya ni Edgar, Kamikazee, Callalily, Rico Blanco, Itchyworms, Pupil, Sponge Cola, Duster, Kitchie Nadal, Moymoy Palaboy, Kjwan, Bamboo, and Gary Valenciano. All coming together for the cause: to end expoitation and human trafficking.

Good show, good cause. See you there!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lissy Trullie, "Boy Boy"

Last March, thanks to my usual voracious reading of music blogs, I came across Lissy Trullie: an androgynously hot New York-based singer with a tight yet raw rock sound and a great swoon-inducing voice. I admit, it was her covers that drew me in first: her better-than-the-original rendition of Hot Chip's "Ready For The Floor," and her duet with Adam Green on "Just a Friend" -- yeah, the Biz Markie song. (Some of you may recall "Ready For The Floor" from that March mix I made.)

This one's an original -- thanks to Erwin for the link, and most of all for a copy of the single, signed by Lissy Trullie herself, acquired from his recent NY trip. I am immensely grateful and immensely envious that you got to watch her perform live. (I am immense, period.)

Every thing I've heard by Lissy Trullie, cover or original, has so far been fantastic -- go, listen. Her music brings back some of that giddy high school thrill that music always used to give me.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ready to Rocket: Guardians of the Galaxy

Images from Guardians of the Galaxy #13 (2009). Click to make 'em bigger.

Got a ton of things I'm supposed to be doing right now, but I just had to take a break and rhapsodize about how utterly awesome Guardians of the Galaxy is. You can keep your Secret Invasions and Dark Reigns and whatever the hell it is DC is doing; the current GotG series is consistently more cosmic and entertaining than any Big Event comics out there (and when it does get embroiled in a Big Event, it's worth it).

I owned an issue or two of the old GotG series in the 80s (and I believe there was some sort of horrible 90s incarnation), but this current one is way, way better. First of all, it has Rocket Raccoon in it. Rocket Raccoon. I used to read Hulk comics back in the days of Sal Buscema, and my single favorite issue was the one that introduced Rocket. And it has Star-Lord, and Mantis, and the insect-astic Bug, and giant man-tree Groot, and the most kick-ass incarnation of Drax the Destroyer (i.e., not the stupid one) ever. And an Adam Warlock who isn't annoying. In other words, it's got all of Marvel's most interesting star-spanning characters on one team, and actually tells stories worthy of that lineup.

I first got hooked on the whole Marvel-in-space thing with the Annihilation events, which were much better than I thought they would be. And the funny thing is, I'm not even that inclined towards space adventure stuff to begin with. But I hope this series runs for a long, long time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Write a Novel While Commuting

That's what this guy did, and wow do I hate him for it. He wrote a whole 400-page novel on his smartphone while going to and from work.

"I got very fast at writing with my thumbs. I found myself writing more and more." Soon, he was averaging 400 words each morning and evening. "I trained myself that at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day when I got on the train, that was my writing time," he said.

So his book (a demon-laden fantasy, the first of a series) hit the bestseller lists and he quit his day job and now writes full-time... but he still takes the F train. "He insisted his word per minute count is higher on the subway than at his desk at home, where distractions include the Internet and a 9-month-old daughter."

When I was working at Smart I used to eat up 2+ hours a day just commuting back and forth, from QC to Makati. Oh, the unwritten books! Of course I'm a freelancer now, with theoretically (I emphasize the theoretically) more free time on my hands... But, you know, those comics aren't going to read themselves. And there are TV series to catch up on. Priorities, man.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shameless, Thy Name Is "Star Pilots"

"Simultaneously the most gay and the most straight thing we've ever seen."

Thank you, Popjustice! Because "the problem with Top Gun was that it wasn't quite camp enough."

And those of you familiar with the usual sexy-girl-doing-a-car-wash routine may want to fast forward to around 1:49 where they do the same thing, except with a jet airplane.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Music Mix: Dreaming All The Ways That You Will Smile

For your listening pleasure: an assiduously arranged, special summery mix of eight songs that I've been listening to lately, mostly culled from music blogs and the like. Please to download it from here.

Megaupload's interface can be a little confusing, so here are some instructions:

1. Click on the big "Download File" button. But first you have to enter the robot-filtering code above it.
2. When you fill in the code and click on "Download File," a countdown in the lower right corner starts: "Please wait __ seconds"
3. When the countdown ends, a "REGULAR DOWNLOAD" button appears. Press that. :)

And heeere's the tracklist:

01. Telekinesis - Coast of Carolina
02. Robbers On High Street - Shout to the Top (The Style Council cover)
03. Kennedy - Karate
04. Fever Ray - When I Grow Up (Lissvik Remix)
05. fun - At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)
06. Harlem Shakes - Sunlight
07. Theresa Andersson - Birds Fly Away
08. Amadou & Mariam - Sabali

Some comments. I took the title of the mix from the Telekinesis song, a great stick-in-your head slice of sunny pop-rock. The Style Council cover may hew a bit too close to the original but I like it anyway. "Karate" is silly and fun and dance-inducing. I haven't listened to too much Fever Ray yet but I liked this remixed number. fun is what The Format became after they broke up (I loved The Format). The voice of the guy from Harlem Shakes sometimes sounds too slurry and sloppy but they generally make great music and the singer gets it together on this track. You've probably seen the YouTube videos of Theresa Andersson playing all these instruments with her fingers and toes; disregard the novelty value and appreciate her excellent songcraft. Finally, you will love Amadou & Mariam. Damon Albarn says so.

All worthy acts. Click on their names to visit their sites!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

World Rushing In

Want to hear an excellent house track and help out a couple of well-regarded local music talents? Go here and check out "World Rushing In," by DJ Brian Cua and Medwin Marfil. (Click on the "LISTEN" button below "OVERALL RATING.") Excellent production, and a lush, catchy melody and vocal.

And then take time to click on "Register/Submit track" on the navbar near the top of the page so you can sign up and vote for the song. (If nothing else, they really need votes to offset that guy who mistakenly gave the track the lowest rating possible when he meant to give it 5 stars -- sigh.)

And then dance deliriously around the room because that's what the song is for.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back in the Fun Machine

Thanks to Aimee M's posts on Thundercats and Silverhawks*, I ended up going on a short 80s cartoon opening theme spree on YouTube. As a kid, I used to put a tape recorder in front of the TV speakers so I could record my favorite themes. Here's my Top 5!

(I left out Japanese giant robots because they really deserve their own post. And yes, I realize that most if not all of these cartoons were never on Saturday Fun Machine. I just love that name so much: Saturday Fun Machine. Genius.)

5. Mighty Orbots

Admit it, until you saw that intro again, you had totally forgotten about these guys. (I love that disco-clap bit after they introduce Bo and Boo.) This series had fantastic animation, but I really can't remember any of the stories, and I never liked the designs of the guy robots, who were too goofy-looking for my discerning grade school tastes.

4. Spaceketeers

The only instrumental on this list. I guess the Force Five folks couldn't be bothered to do an English translation of the lyrics. Even as kids we wondered why these people rode around outside their ships like idiots. I remember I had a toy of the big fat green one with a dial on his belly though.

3. Captain Future

Big in Germany, apparently. This might never have shown on local TV. A lot of these series I watched on Betamax compilations rented from Angie's Video House in Paranaque.

2. M.A.S.K.

'Cause Spectrum's got such super visionnn... MASK! Extended version here!

1. Captain Harlock

Whether they had giant robots or not, Japanese cartoons were a huge part of my formative years. That can't be good. Take to the skyyyyy...

I just noticed that the Captain Harlock vid ends with him winning a duel by stripping his female opponent naked with one sword-stroke. Thanks Japan!

*NOTE: I think I actually preferred the concept and designs of the Silverhawks over the Thundercats, when I was a kid (Cheetarah being the exception, of course. There's no improving on that.) Even the Silverhawks' rogues gallery (sorry, I meant "intergalactic mob") was well-designed -- check it out!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, "The Sun Ain't Shining No More"

Been listening to this song a lot for over a month now, and it's still fun. Mette Lindberg's voice startles when it first hits, but then after a split-second adjustment it clicks into place and you're shimmying along.

The Danish band was Amy Winehouse's opening act, and their music has been on an iPod ad as well as Gossip Girl, but don't hold all that against them. Watch and enjoy!

Official site here, and wiki here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Zach Attack

Holy crap, it's been a month since my last post! Lost internet access there for a while, and then for a while it seemed like there was too much to blog about -- Francis M's tragic and untimely passing, the Eraserheads' Final Set, even Watchmen (I am linking to my favorite review of the movie, by Thor Balanon). So of course I ended up not blogging about any of that. Also, I have not been blogging about all the fun stuff behind the scenes at UNO magazine; the ideas are flying fast and furious, and it will really be something special, believe me.

Something else that looks like it will be really special is Zach Lucero's solo album, launching tonight, March 24, at SaGuijo! Having worked with Zach on BURN I can attest without hesitation to his keen musical instincts -- plus, I heard a few snippets of the album a while back and it sounds really good. Other acts playing at the launch are Barbie Almabis, Imago, Techy Romanitics and Sandwich.The year in music is shaping up very nicely so far -- Pasta Groove, Corporate Lo-Fi, and now the fantastic Zach, with more to follow (like the new Outerhope, yay!).

UPDATE: Read my interview with Zach on my music column for the Bulletin, here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vote For This Shirt

There are a few reasons to like this shirt. One, that design is freaking great. Two, that design is freaking great. Three, did I mention that design is freaking great? I could go on, but I think you get the gist.

Anyway, it was done by genius artist Yvonne Quisumbing. Go here to check out the design -- and then please sign up and vote for it. Hurry hurry. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's the Pet Shop Boys, actually.

With the exception of Chris Lowe's horrendous pink wig, there is nothing about this video of the Pet Shop Boys' performance at the Brits last February 18 that doesn't make me happy. They zip through no less (and possibly a little more) than thirteen of their songs, including two from the new album Yes, and are joined onstage, appropriately enough, by Lady GaGa and Brandon Flowers of The Killers (aside from an array of costumed dancers).

The Pet Shop Boys were granted the 2009 Brit Award for Lifetime Achievement, and I say it's about time. After all, "they were to the end of the 20th century what the Beatles were to its middle." Yeah, you read that right. Read more here!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dealing With Dylan; or, The February 2009 Issue of UNO is Well Worth Getting

So last January I got an urgent call: something about UNO magazine and how there had been a sudden staff shakeup. The upshot was that they needed to put together the February issue with breakneck haste. It had been decided that it was going to be a Music Special, so of course, that was something I was up for. We brainstormed on feature ideas, and I was so fired up I ended up writing four articles in as many days. That includes the cover story, on the dauntless Dylan Vizcarra. Here's an excerpt:
Here are a few facts about Dylan Vizcarra, the always-articulate, tattoo-sporting, devastatingly cute host of Jack TV's lifestyle program The Peep Show:

She is a cyborg of sorts, with a metal pin in her right leg—a souvenir of a recent horrific skateboarding accident that left her with a spiral fracture, a couple of scars, and a valuable life lesson (the lesson being, well... don't drink and skate).

She is the kind of person who would use words like "tomfoolery" and "shenanigans" in her writing without seeming pretentious or raising suspicions of time travel. She has also been known to invent words like "flabberfont" when the existing lexicon is insufficient.

Her real name is Karen; she has an identical twin named Karla. (All of you reading this who just had thoughts along the lines of "Oh, boy! Twice the fun!"—just put the magazine down and walk away; we don't want your kind in here.) Once upon a time, when they were both in college, Karen in La Salle and Karla in Ateneo, they decided to switch places for a day. They look so much alike that everyone was fooled—from the basketball players wishing "Karla" a happy day-after-your-birthday to the teachers who chastised "Karen" for talking too much in class and who forced "Karla" to deliver a report that she had no clue about.

I learn a few more things about her when I meet her one drizzly Thursday evening in a coffee shop on Bonifacio High Street.

Am quite proud of the story; I think it's one of my better-written profiles. The interview itself was great fun, and so was the shoot, which we did with my favorite Quarter Pounder connoisseurs, the very talented Ryan and Garovs, a.k.a. Everywhere We Shoot.

Anyway, the point of all this is: Go and get the new issue of UNO, already! Those of you who weren't inclined to ever pick up the magazine before should check it out this time, and those of you who were UNO fans already will still enjoy this. Erwin Romulo, Ramon de Veyra and I worked on it, so, you know, it must be good, har har.

As if you needed more reasons, here's a partial list of what this issue contains: an encounter between Shawn Yao (yay!) and Spider-Dan; Cynthia Bauzon on album cover designs; King Palisoc on making music videos; an interview with Aldus Santos, singing Purplechicken and author of Repeat While Fading; and best of all, NEW FICTION FROM YVETTE TAN! Aw yeah.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I Can Read Movies!

I love these: covers for paperback novelizations that never were, done in a 60s graphic style, signs of wear and tear and all. I salute you, Spacesick! Visit his blog for the rest.

My other favorites include the Labyrinth cover and the Edward Scissorhands one. Fun and really really well done.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sing Along to the Worst Song Medley

Hey, I know all those songs! This clip made me grin like an idiot. Particularly during the Sixpence None the Richer and "Rush Rush" moments. Thank you, Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, whoever you are.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Conch and Xandro are Married

Congratulations Conch! Photo stolen from Denise Mallabo, he he he.

Whatever I may say about the old PULP/MTV Ink office, I can't deny that I met some amazing people there -- and none more so than Conch, immensely talented Conch, who had perhaps the hardest job to do and yet was somehow the most reliable and least whiny of us all. (Well, she was certainly less whiny than me.) I have had the pleasure of working with her on a couple of publications now, and I would work with her again in a heartbeat. Unless it was on a job that required cleaning other peoples' toilets, in which case I might have to think about it.

Wait. What was my point? Oh yeah. Congratulations to Conch and Xandro, who got married last January 31! I wish them much much happiness together forever. :D

Friday, January 23, 2009

Imagine The Groove

Up Dharma Down photographed by Everywhere We Shoot for Imagine Magazine. Taken from Mrs Supergift's blog.

Imagine Magazine #3 is out! It's the special music issue, entitled Imagine The Groove. I'm Guest Editor for this issue (my usual title on Imagine is Contributing Editor), but while I had a bit more participation this time around, the real credit, as always, goes to brilliant EIC Joyce Fernandez, as well as Kai Magsanoc and Yonina Chan and some other people who will feel like kicking me for not mentioning them by name. But you know who you are. :)

The launch is TONIGHT, January 23, at Cubao X, 7pm onwards! Do drop by.

There's a lotta stuff in this issue, but the main fashion feature has Everywhere We Shoot (Ryan + Garovs), Matt Gozun, Jujin Samonte, Jerome Lorico, Kenneth Chua, Geof Gonzales, Rcxy Bautista, Lotho, Daryl Chang, Andre Chang, and Cecile Zamora interpreting music by Radioactive Sago Project, Up Dharma Down, Drip, Ang Bandang Shirley, Outerhope, Musical O, Paramita, Swissy, Daydream Cycle, Juan Pablo Dream, and Sleepwalk Circus.

Bands were photographed by Everywhere We Shoot, Aldwin Aspillera and Richie Castro. Articles on the bands were by myself, Erwin Romulo, Sarge Lacuesta, Mookie Katigbak, Aimee Marcos and Je Bautista.

Whatta lineup, eh? See you there!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yvette's Dark Side

Yvette hanging out with Neil Gaiman, who is also a writer.

Award-winning writer and "undisputed horror doyenne" Yvette Tan (mwah) was featured in the Sunday Inquirer Magazine today! For those of you who want to help stave off the death of print, dash to your local newsstand and get a copy now. For the rest of you, read "Her Dark Side" by Ruel de Vera heeere! Yay!

Yvette's first collection of fiction, Waking the Dead, will be launched by Anvil Publishing this year. We were just looking at the proofs the other day and they are lovely.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ben and Zooey, sittin' in a tree...

"That sound? Oh, that's just the breaking of indie loving hearts everywhere."

Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard are engaged.

(Incidentally, Zooey Deschanel's album with M. Ward, She & Him - Volume One, is one of my favorites of the year.)

Happy New Year, all! :D