Monday, August 31, 2009

Chew On This

One of my favorite movies is 1998's "Dangerous Liaisons", adapted from the 18th century novel by Choderlos de Laclos and starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich, and Michelle Pfeiffer. (I never saw "Valmont" which came out the same year, but I'm pretty sure it'd be like comparing Charlize Theron to a horse's ass.)

Considering the many games of seduction, deceit, betrayal, and revenge we play, I thought the movie could easily have featured any of us, in any or all roles: schemer, victim, innocent bystander.

There are many gems in "Liaisons", but the exchange which struck me the most was the one between Madame de Rosemonde - Valmont's doting but wise aunt - and the love-pained Madame de Tourvel:

Madame de Rosemonde: I'm sorry to say this, but, those who are most worthy of love are never made happy by it.

Madame Marie de Tourvel: But, why? Why should that be?

Madame de Rosemonde: Do you still think men love the way we do? No... men enjoy the happiness they feel. We can only enjoy the happiness we give. They are not capable of devoting themselves exclusively to one person. So to hope to be made happy by love is a certain cause of grief.
The ring of truth in that exchange resonates with me to this day. I chant it to myself as a shaman might recite his prayers whenever I find myself caught in the web of that four-letter word.
Love doth conquer all, and 'tis a victor that takes no prisoners.
Something to chew on at the start of the week.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Be Livid Or Not

Ever have one of those days?

You know, when little things just go wrong and pile upon each other into a clusterfuck of chaos?

Just minutes ago I took my little car out for some gas, and discovered that my head unit just spits out my CDs and refuses to play anything. Never mind that Sony XPlode was the wrong choice for such a tiny car and drains the battery if I don't warm up the engine within three days. It's easy enough to get another Pioneer and call it a day - never mind that I'll be P10,000.00 poorer for it. But I must have music whenever I drive, or else I will XPlode.

But we were talking about clusterfucks.

This is the same car that I took to the LTO for early registration last Friday, only to discover that LTO had imposed some sort of quota for the emissions testing and I , at 1:00 p.m., had arrived just in time for the cutoff. This is also the selfsame car that badly needs a freon infusion, as driving with the top down in Manila heat is far more bearable - and I use that word as loosely as Paris Hilton's snatch - than being steamed alive with the canvas up. I'm keenly aware that sports cars weren't built for comfort, but I'm positive they weren't built for torture, either. (Oh, and fuck you, fahrvergnügen.) And since I don't tan so much as burn in the sun, I now look like my grandmother's camarón cocido.

I can't use the other car because something's wrong with the computer chip and the techies won't be able to take a look at the problem till tomorrow. And tomorrow is my mother's birthday and I am required, under pain of death, to spend the day in Alabang. My brother had spared me from complete and utter disownment by thoughtfully reminding me that ma mere's big day is tomorrow - after I had already set aside Monday to do my long-overdue billings, take the dogs to the vet, and have the casa guys assess how much the fucking Alfa will impoverish me further.

I remember I also happen to own a truck, but that's become a distant memory ever since my father commandeered it after seeing I have no more space in my garage. Never mind that he already has two cars of his own clogging his driveway - I guess no one really likes driving a Cefiro.

And I got a shitload of infuriating texts today on my dying cell phone, and averaged about 10 minutes lividly punching the wonky keys attempting lengthy, angry replies. I can only spew vitriol in complete sentences, using correct punctuation and grammar, so you can imagine how well that went. The touch screen function is dead, and I could only console myself with the satisfaction of taking a hammer to the goddamned thing after I secure a new phone. A new phone which should set me back anywhere from 20-40K.

And oh yeah, have I told you the doctor said I can't drink till next year?

So I think I'll just sit here waiting for the other shoe to drop.

With any luck, it'll land on my face.

I Am A Ruminant

Stumbled upon this article in Scientific American while steadfastly refusing to hit the sack this morning. Below, a few highlights and my annotations:

 "So what could be so useful about depression? Depressed people often think intensely about their problems. These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time."

Hence, one of the words in the title of this blog.

"Many other symptoms of depression make sense in light of the idea that analysis must be uninterrupted. The desire for social isolation, for instance, helps the depressed person avoid situations that would require thinking about other things. Similarly, the inability to derive pleasure from sex or other activities prevents the depressed person from engaging in activities that could distract him or her from the problem. Even the loss of appetite often seen in depression could be viewed as promoting analysis because chewing and other oral activity interferes with the brain’s ability to process information."

This should explain my disinterest in sex and my disaffection for food.

"But is there any evidence that depression is useful in analyzing complex problems? For one thing, if depressive rumination were harmful, as most clinicians and researchers assume, then bouts of depression should be slower to resolve when people are given interventions that encourage rumination, such as having them write about their strongest thoughts and feelings. However, the opposite appears to be true. Several studies have found that expressive writing promotes quicker resolution of depression, and they suggest that this is because depressed people gain insight into their problems."

And this should explain why I've started to blog.

"There is another suggestive line of evidence. Various studies have found that people in depressed mood states are better at solving social dilemmas. Yet these would seem to have been precisely the kind of problems difficult enough to require analysis and important enough to drive the evolution of such a costly emotion. Consider a woman with young children who discovers her husband is having an affair. Is the wife’s best strategy to ignore it, or force him to choose between her and the other woman, and risk abandonment? Laboratory experiments indicate that depressed people are better at solving social dilemmas by better analysis of the costs and benefits of the different options that they might take.

But depression is nature’s way of telling you that you’ve got complex social problems that the mind is intent on solving. Therapies should try to encourage depressive rumination rather than try to stop it, and they should focus on trying to help people solve the problems that trigger their bouts of depression."

I guess this means this blog will go on for a good while, then.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Miss Called Puke

I've always loved Bangkok.

Funky, fabulous town, filled with friendly folk, fine food and fantastic sights.

Like the one below:

And lest you think I simply conjured that marvel out of Photoshop, here's a wider shot:

Miss Puke is located on the right side of the Novotel on Siam Square, Bangkok.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


My ancient Sony Ericsson P910i is finally on the fritz.

Ever since I got it, I've never been able to text properly on the goddamned, aptly-named flip cover. So every time I have to text (an activity I enjoy just a teensy-weensy bit less than root canal), I have to use the frickin' stylus and lose the free use of both hands.

For all the convenience they provide, I detest cell phones with extreme prejudice. They're like mobile tracking devices, short of being surgically attached to our ears. Because I can't afford to miss important work-related calls or messages, the godforsaken thing is my constant companion. I even bring it with me to the john because client always seems to know when I'm sitting on the throne, unarmed and vulnerable. The insidious contraptions have made us reachable 24/7, just like 7/11. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

I notice quite a number of people change cell phones as swiftly and remorselessly as they switch and ditch lovers. Every time a hotter, newer model comes out, they just have to have it. As far as status symbols go, phones have never done it for me. I save my bragging rights for my cars. ("Dude, nuba yang bulok mong phone! Nakaka sirang-porma!" "I drive a sports car, a truck, and an Alfa Romeo, so fuck you and that iPhone you rode in on.") Me, I've had this ratty disgusting excuse for a mobile communication device for close to four years now. Not much to look at, but it did the job. I'm not terribly impressed with all the bells and whistles that come with the accursed objects nowadays. Mainly because there are only two things I do on the cell phone: call and text. Now I can add a third: hurl it against the nearest concrete wall.

An ex-employee of mine hocked an exact model to me a couple years back. He never bothered to redeem it; I assume he's holding a newer model by now. So I've been trying to transfer the contact info on my old phone to the other one, but the infernal PC application won't locate my phone and I have yanked every motherfucking cable off the tangled back of my tower trying to find the stupid goddamned COM1 port.

Obviously, to no avail. The Backup and Restore window is still taunting me: NOT CONNECTED.

I don't have time for this shit and am about to give up and face the unpleasant fact that I might have to go get another cell phone.

I'm open to any recommendations.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bangkok Dangerous

And this must explain my low need to belong.
Taken in a Bangkok McDonald's, 2008

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ab Flab

The New York Times recently ran an article entitled "It's Hip To Be Round", observing the seeming return of the potbelly as a statement for men.

“I sort of think the six-pack abs obsession got so prissy it stopped being masculine,” is how Aaron Hicklin, the editor of Out, explains the emergence of the Ralph Kramden. What once seemed young and hot, for gay and straight men alike, now seems passé. Like manscaping, spray-on tans and other metrosexual affectations, having a belly one can bounce quarters off suggests that you may have too much time on your hands.

“It’s not cool to be seen spending so much time fussing around about your body,” Mr. Hicklin said.

And so guys can happily and guiltlessly go to seed.

Hm. So Flab is the New Fab. Considering how I can't drink alcohol until next year (more on that in a future post), this looks like a good time for my contrarian nature to kick in and rediscover my abs.

So long, Corona six-packs.

See you soon, six-packs.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The 51st State of Madonna


Yesterday was the 51st birthday of Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone.

I've always loved that heinous bitch, even though she's recently morphed
into a chipmunk-cheeked harridan with sinewy arms.

Anyway - as with fine wine, we all have our favorite Madonna vintages.

Below is one of mine, back in the day when she was younger and more fun.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just One Of Those Nights

All my life

I've been the one
who's always there
for everyone

And now I know
you've let me down

Will it always be
that I'm

the only

for me?

-Julia Fordham, Towerblock

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Elements of Style

Seduction style, that is.

Joel McVie was kind enough to share this test with us on his blog

McVie responded to his results with the titular OMG.

My response to mine is more of O RLY?

Oh, blow me.

I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gone, Babies, Gone

Awoke to a text this morning at 10:46 am

"Gudam sir. Boris and Sasha did not make it.
Continuous vomiting and bloody diarrhea
yesterday even with the meds given.

Give Rufus my love, you two.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vive La Rain

As far as I can recall, I've always loved the rain.

It was the harbinger of good things. Unscheduled school holidays. Staying indoors and watching TV all day. Anticipating lola's champorado for merienda. I don't think there's a child alive who doesn't enjoy playing in the rain, so the few times we were allowed to frolic gleefully in a downpour are among my fondest childhood memories.

Storms were even more glorious. I remember praying and praying for Signal No. 2, and considered Yoling, Duling, and Tililing to be tempestuous aunts whose visits were a free pass not to go to school. When my grandfather and uncles would literally batten down the house in anticipation of a storm's fury, I felt safe and protected. When the power would go out and the winds howled in the darkness outside, there was calm in the flickering light of my grandmother's gasera. I would watch the flame, warm and comforting like the blanket around me, until I, too, was out like a light.

As an adult, I still love to sleep safe and snug under the covers as the driving rain lashes outside.

Of course, I only love the rain as long as I don't get caught in it.

No sane person enjoys commuting in the rain. The murderous scramble for a jeep or bus, sardined with dripping and sweaty fellow wage-slaves. Getting caught in traffic while desperately needing to take a leak, with nothing to look forward to after disembarking except the certainty of wading through flooded streets in search of leptospirosis or worse, a chance meeting with an open manhole.

It also literally puts a damper on my social life - whatever wisps of it are left. When it rains, I couldn't be bothered to get dressed and go out. It's just far too tempting to stay in bed and watch endless DVDs. It also doesn't help that my compound gets flooded easily, or that my car is so lowered it doesn't run over snails so much as scrape them along. Just last week I missed a friend's birthday blowout (yes, I know you texted me all through the week to remind me) and another friend's anniversary (next time, send the wild horses) due to - you guessed it - the rain.

The fickleness of the weather also wreaks havoc on my work. It's comforting to know I wasn't the only one playing tag with the rain all throughout July. Clients, being the darlings that they are, will always approve outdoor storyboards at the onset of the rainy season. The loveliest of clients will make no provisions for weather contingency. And the sweetest of them all will carve their breakdates in stone: rain, storm, meteors hurtling down from the heavens notwithstanding.

It's a long-standing superstition in the industry that you have to make alay eggs at the Sta. Clara monastery if you wish to have good weather on the day of your shoot. I'd be willing to believe "Twilight" is a masterpiece of literature if it would make my shoots go smoother. So whenever the production assistants "forget" to offer eggs and dark clouds form simultaneously in the skies and on my brows, I threaten to offer their testicles instead if it would clear the heavens instantly.

Nevertheless, alay or no alay ng mga alalay, I had to play best of 3 with the rain for my last project. I cancelled a Friday shoot, which turned out to be a good call because it rained cats and dogs that day. My next bets were Sunday and Monday, and since it rained gerbils and skunks on Saturday, I called off the Sunday shoot, as well.

The sun shone fiercely and bright all throughout Sunday. As if that wasn't enough mockery, client texted me just to share her observation about what a fine day it was.

Monday came, and it was a draw. It rained, I fretted, but the rain was not an endless downpour. It gamely stopped to allow us to shoot a few frames here and there, and in the end, when you look at the commercial, you'd never think there was even a drop of precipitation that day. A colleague of mine fared less well: she had a two-day weekend shoot - requiring expanses of green fields and blue skies, of course - and both days they got rained out. Hard.

Both. Days.

Luckily she had a weather contingency - an extra day to shoot the following weekend. The sun shone happy and bright for most of the week, and on the day of her shoot - well, let's just say it's harder for people to tell if you're weeping when you're getting drenched.

Still - I love the rain.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Doggone It!

This is not how I wanted to spend my hiatus.

Had to take my Malinois pups, Boris and Sasha, to the vet this morning because when I went out for our usual greet-the-dogs-come-to-papa routine, I wasn't besieged by a flurry of paws all excitedly scrambling for my attention.

Boris - who's a crybaby but usually first to lay claim on my lap - didn't come bounding like he usually does. Instead, he shuffled, more than walked, slowly to me, tail wagging half-heartedly.


And Sasha, his sister, who's even more competitive, was nowhere to be found.

With a sinking heart, I already knew what it was.

Goddamned parvo.

It was Bruno, the Dalmatian-beagle mutt, who first contracted it about three weeks back. From years of having dogs, I knew lethargy coupled with loss of appetite was never a good sign. And Bruno - whom I derisively call Akyat-Bahay because of his amazing cat-like dexterity in climbing over just about anything - was downer than a club kid on Mogs.

A quick trip to the vet confirmed my suspicions: you've got parvo!

He was always a scrappy mutt and, three days and P5000.00 later, Bruno was back home, hale and hearty as though nothing ever happened. Doc said he was supposed to be quarantined for a month - the parvo virus can stay dormant in the surrounding soil for about that time, and can be transmitted via feces. It was doubly important because three of the current members of my canine brood were still puppies, and the required series of innoculations - 5+1, in particular - were not yet complete.

However, the other dogs were only too happy to have their kennel-mate back, so they frolicked and rough-housed a bit before I had Bruno banished, like an H1N1 carrier, to the bodega.

A little too little, a little too late, alas.

Three mornings later, I was calling for my beloved Chow - the pedigreed Rufus Van Hufflepuff . His playmate-and-only-other-dog-allowed-to-live-inside-the-house, Bruce the good Pom, scampered into my arms, but Rufus was nowhere to be found. I finally discovered him wedged between the wall and a wicker chest in the dining room. Lethargic and sad.

Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!

Another quick visit to the vet confirmed my second case of parvo. Rufus took the IV without complaint, and didn't make a sound - not a whimper nor a whine - when they took him away for confinement.

Two days later, I received a text:

"Pls contact vet regarding Rufus."

That was not reassuring.

With a heavy heart, I phoned the vet and received the sad news. My dear, beloved Rufus, the most well-behaved and well-mannered of my dogs, did not survive parvo.

I buried him in our little pet cemetery in front of the house just five days ago.

And now Boris and Sasha are confined at the vet's. With parvo. Just like he was.

This is going to be a long week.

Past Lives

I've always taken a bemused interest in the occult, thanks to a mother who had a steady parade of geomancers, fortune-tellers, and manghihilots of all stripes traipsing through our home and pointing out where all the bad feng shui was coming from (all right, all right, they were coming from the black dwarfs festering in that open old well under the living room floor! The one my dad steadfastly refuses to tear up.) To be fair, they were consistent, to the point that I could mimic the next geomancer and point to where the invisible old lady was (in the patio), where the impakto lived (in the big mango tree underneath the water tower) and where the white dwarfs held court (near the grotto) - much to my mother's consternation.

Anyway, I ran across one of those internet tests where they tell you your past life. With nothing better to do, I inputted the required data and these are my results:

Your past life diagnosis: I don't know how you feel about it, but you were female in your last earthly incarnation.You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Thailand around the year 900. Your profession was that of a monk (nun), bee-keeper or lone gunman.

Your brief psychological profile in your past life:Inquisitive, inventive, you liked to get to the very bottom of things and to rummage in books. Talent for drama, natural born actor.

The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:There is an invisible connection between the material and the spiritual world. Your lesson is to search, find and use this magical bridge.

Do you remember now?, I don't. It HAS been several lifetimes ago, you know? But "Verrrrryyyy interesting", as a camp spy movie villain would say. I had a Chinese client, a very nice lady who was heavily into reincarnation and all that past-life jazz, and she had taken my birthdate and consulted a very thick book to determine who I was before I was who I am today. She did say I was a woman in one past life, but not in Thailand and certainly not some heat-packing, bee-keeping nun.

I was a beautiful (a quality so important in any life) 16th century Italian (Venetian, Venetian, say I was Venetian!) gold-digging femme fatale (is there any other kind?) who forsook her friends in favor of fortune (okay, I want Angelina Jolie in the role, stat!). I suppose the "talent for drama, natural born actor" aspect in the internet readout would've been very useful for slithering, scheming, sexy me at that point. So would the "inquisitive, inventive, wants to get to the bottom of things and rummage in books" part, although that sounds eerily like my accountant - especially the "inventive" part. She also said that in another past life, I used to be the father to my other client and her husband, who used to be siblings, in turn. their former father, I don't think I want to get into the incestuous ramifications of my ex-progeny's decision to get married in THIS lifetime, soooooooooooo..........

...........back to gold-digging me. It's interesting to note that my supposed lesson is to discover that invisible, magical bridge between the material world and the spiritual world. In a previous post, I had railed about how work had taken over my life, and how my relentless pursuit of money (let's not kid ourselves; I don't knock myself out for the sake of art) has turned me into a horrible friend and a terrible son. So maybe they've actually got something here.

Oh, an invisible, magical bridge! It reminds me of the one Sarah Palin built to go nowhere. But since we're trying to learn life lessons here and avoid getting reborn as, oh I dunno, Paris Hilton's crabs, I'll be a good boy and say it reminds me of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Indy literally had to take a "leap of faith" over a gaping chasm to land on an invisible bridge. Since my eyesight is already bad, I guess I'm just gonna have to grope for that bridge before I can cross it. Still, I'll find it...yes, I'll find it. If I search until I dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee (na na na, ya ya ya ya ya, na na na, na na na ya ya)

But until then, I guess I'll be living in a material world, for I was a material...

...a material...

...a material girl!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adios, Corazon de mi nacion.

I'd just learned that Cory Aquino has passed away.

Despite her many missteps during her administration, I've always held Cory in high regard for her decency. Being the guiding light of the movement that toppled Marcos, she gave this country hope that decency and fairness and good governance could be possible, if not achievable.

I pray that with her passing, the values she so valiantly fought for will not die with her. It's no secret that the current occupant of that wretched palace by the stinking river has made a travesty of everything good and decent in this world. Cory, too, saw that, and to her last days she turned against that other woman and all the vile things she represented.

I pray for Cory and her loved ones.

And I also pray for us, for a bright light has been extinguished, and I fear that the darkness will envelop us once again.