Saturday, April 24, 2010

Noir Noir

Since my good pal Eternal Wanderer has recently endured una notte scura dell'anima  - no doubt in part to his ongoing encounters with femme fatales - I thought I might cheer him up with this little gem.

Some things are universal and self-explanatory. So watch the video first, before you read the transcript:

But in case you're not into Robert de Niro waiting, talking Italian, here's the English translation :

Voiceover: After Brokeback Mountain, gay movies were legitimized.
                  And classic movies will never be the same again.

[Interrogation scene]

Guy1: Have you killed Mr. Boz?
Woman: Obviously, no.
G2: Do you use drugs, Miss Tramell?
W : Sometimes.
G3: Have you ever used drugs with Boz?
W : Sure.
G2: What kind of drugs?
W : Cocaine... Have you ever done it under the effect of cocaine, Nick?

[Woman opens legs]
[Detectives' surprised reaction shots]
[Woman crosses legs]
[Detectives look at each other]


G2: Disgusting, close those legs!
G3: I've never seen something so disgusting!

G1: Oh my God, I feel unconscious, I'm about to faint... omg omg!
G3: Oh, Nick! Nick!

G2: Nick! Nick, air! Air, baby.
G3: Unbutton his jacket!
G1: God, I saw she was looking at me... MONSTER! Oh God, noooooo (cries) 

G3: Viper!
G1: Handcuff the legs of that WITCH! (wails) 

G2: Macho macho man ♫...


Voiceover : After Brokeback Mountain, even Basic Instinct will never be the same.  

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport, then straight to post-house.

Whole day post work for three projects, late check-in at hotel.

Work on pending projects in hotel room, follow-up music arrangers on music revisions.
Discover that arrangers have not received texts and therefore have not done revisions.
Flurry of text updates on pending projects, shot and to be shot.

Fly back home, 4 a.m. call-time for next day's shooting.
Series of meetings day after shoot, another shooting after that.
Pre-production meeting for next 3 projects the day after shoot.
Final workshop, costume fitting, offline interlocks for two pending projects the next day.
Shooting next day.
Discover that music arranger is stuck in Paris due to ashfall from Icelandic volcano.
Long, late meeting with new clients for big product launch.

Presentation of 3 new storyboards for existing clients after that.
Offline presentation next day.
Shoot preps for next shoot.
Back home to prepare two storyboards for presentation day after tomorrow.

Long shooting day, then at 9:00 p.m., a call for further revisions by agency creatives on two projects already viewed and approved by client.
Give Account Executive an earful.

Two hours later, client informs me the two concept boards they had vetoed three days earlier were now a go.

For next morning's presentation.

So right after pack-up, home to do two new storyboards from scratch for presentation early the next day.

Early morning, after an hour's fitful sleep, client wakes me up to say presentation has been moved up by two hours.
Right after that, bank calls to tell me to deposit funds in checking account or two large checks will bounce in three hours.

Spend hour smoking, waiting for service.
Thankfully, no line at bank.
Traffic to client.

Two project presentations; fortunately, both approved for production.
Rebriefing on three pending projects right afterward because initial concepts disapproved.
Briefing on new project after that.
Packaging revision on long-pending project.
Revision on long-pending print project.
Argue with client over new timetables.

Back to Makati for scoring and voice-overs for four projects for Monday interlock.
At 8 p.m., animation house calls to present treatment board for pending project.
Endure traffic back to New Manila.

Internal finishes at 10:30 p.m.
First meal of the day.

Back home to finish two Bid Specs for new projects.

Early flight again tomorrow back to Bangkok.

I am a whirling dervish, and this is my so-called life.
A series of overlapping events for fleeting things that will only be seen for 30 seconds.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Morning After

In an earlier post, I mentioned that it would be interesting to see what the morning after the Red Riot in Bangkok would look like. So I headed out at around 10:00 a.m., 12 hours later.

 The hotel pool was empty and still, with nary a ripple.

 And at street level, the same went for people.

  A cheerful mascot mocks a cheerless road.

Unoccupied seats all in a row.

The candy colors of melancholy.

And irony tastes better with Pepsi.

Both near and far...

...the streets were swept clean of cars.

Inside the covered walkway to MBK, sharks were
the main attraction of their summer treats.

But all the bloodletting happened outside on the streets .

A smattering of shoppers ascend the mall.

Parking lots with vacant slots...

...and hollow marble halls.

Even the cathedrals of escapism had barricades.

Ringed by sweeping expanses of  silent space.

The smoking lounges were full of empty benches.

Movie posters lined up to no one's stare..

For even the lifeless didn't seem to care.
 Only Pepsi seemed to be having a ball.

 Even mannequins tried to get away from it all.

 Proud Siam Center, laid silent and low.

 As a different kind of protester blocked the steps below.

 The Big Loft mascot rails at its fate.

With no one around to hear the great yellow ape.

Black and foreboding signs of the times.

 And emblazoned on a dead railway, a more ironic sign.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ghost Town

The streets of Siam Square on the night of the Red Riot.

At only 10:00 p.m., what used to be a lively avenue was silent.

A single police cruiser sits behind the station,
a white charger without a knight.

The road is long, and it is empty tonight.

Whimsical mascots contrast with the stillness.

While high up above, the only smiling face
in the darkness.

By-Pass indeed, of passers-by in need.

More mascots stand fast despite abandonment..

The glow of some playful lights underscore the eerieness.

While colors highlight the bleakness..

A lone guard watches over nothing.

On this clear night, infinity is stretching.

The side streets were so ghostly, so deserted...

...even a serene shrine looked haunted.

Smiling toys look out over another lifeless lane.

As two locals sit in the dark, contemplating the day.

Empty benches dot the front of an empty parking lot.

A Vespa waits for its owner.

A lonesome guard on a lonely corner.

A tuktuk breaks the silence, before vanishing into the night.

And at the end of the road, the ironic light.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Room 1313

Well, this should be interesting.

Flew into Bangkok this morning on yet another short business trip and straight into simmering political chaos and domestic unrest on the streets thanks to Thaksin's supporters aka The Red Shirts.

As usual, from the airport we drove straight to the post house. There, all the TV screens were tuned in to the day-long news coverage showing all-too-familiar scenes: riot police in gear, angry protesters, tear gas, water cannons, pockets of violence, various officials issuing statements. I don't need to know Thai to understand the whole scenario. A colleague earlier put it so cleverly and so, so on the mark: Bangkok is like a parallel universe to Manila. An alternate reality, a surreal mix of the oddly-familiar and the bizarre.


Just checked into the hotel a few minutes ago, after encountering an unusual but unsurprising spot of traffic on the Skyway. As luck would have it, our hotel is located right smack in the epicenter of Red Square aka Rajprasong - the poetic intersection between plebeian MBK and patrician Siam Paragon, where Thaksin's Red Brigade have massed in the thousands, defying the State of Emergency declared just days ago in Bangkok.

Rajprasong is also the central hotel and shopping district, home to swanky boutiques , upscale hotels and luxury malls. But the glittering lights are dim, the gleaming temples to commerce dark. Seeing what used to be once-colorful streets bustling with life and energy so deserted and desolate is eerie. It's almost like driving into a scene from an apocalyptic movie like 28 Days Later.

Our hotel lobby also looked abandoned, save for a lone Filipina chanteuse in the lounge singing valiantly to a handful of dejected-looking guests. There were some fretful Caucasian tourists, bags packed, waiting for their ride to the airport and out of Bangkok. Marching through the front doors with my backpack, I imagined this must be what wartime journalists feel the first time they fly into breaking news, in a foreign land whose tenuous stability just might erupt into chaos and uncertainty at any time.

The still-smiling, defiantly cheerful front desk girls seemed to be resigned to sleeping in the hotel tonight, as there are few cabs and the BTS Skytrain is no longer running at night, and may not run until the 14th. Everything seems to be closed; even 7-11 is shuttered.

Outside my window, here on the 13th floor, I can hear one of the Red Shirt demagogues still thundering on about Thaksin and Abhisit, justice and crime, change and democracy and other familiar bromides. I can also see some of the protesters' cars blocking the entire left lane of the avenue beside the hotel.

This is a novel way to greet Songkran, the Thai New Year, which begins on Monday.

It should be interesting to see what the morning looks like.