Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Season Ender

I know that it’s time for another season to end when events in my life tell me, “Move on.” So now I’m moving on.

The McVie Show, Season 5

The new season only available on BloggerBeta.
Log on to http://mcvie5.blogspot.com

And for my closing number, here’s one from Madonna:

Take a bow, the night is over,
This masquerade is getting older.
Lights are low, the curtains down,
There’s no one here
[There’s no one here, there’s no one in the crowd.]
Say your lines but do you feel them?
Do you mean what you say when there’s no one around?
Watching you, watching me… one lonely star.
[One lonely star, you don’t know who you are.]

I’ve always been in love with you—
I guess you’ve always known it’s true.
You took my love for granted, why oh why?
The show is over, say good-bye.

Make them laugh, it comes so easy,
When you get to the part
Where you’re breaking my heart.
Hide behind your smile, all the world loves a clown.
[Just make ‘em smile, the whole world loves a clown.]
Wish you well, I cannot stay.
You deserve an award for the role that you played.
No more masquerade; you’re one lonely star.
[One lonely star and you don’t know who you are.]

All the world is a stage,
And everyone has their part.
But how was I to know which way the story’d go?
How was I to know you’d break,
You’d break my heart?

You took my love for granted, why oh why?
The show is over, say good-bye.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kiss Off

“Kiss you off these lips of mine…
Kiss you off for a custom shine…
Pissed yours truly off this time,
It’s why I ain’t just kissin’ you,
I’m kissin’ you off!”

– Scissors Sisters, “Kiss You Off”

Last night Leigh and I were talking about letting go. It’s a very empowering thing, letting go, especially if it’s done with much love and understanding, not out of spite.

There’s also something to be said about having a certain level of detachment. Now if only I knew what the Buddhists really mean by that. I don’t think they mean you cease caring for something. Maybe it just means one is more willing to let go when the time comes.

Hay life. It used to have semester breaks and Christmas and summer vacations. Now it’s not all that simple anymore.

* * * * *

Speaking of kiss offs, get ready to say goodbye to season 4.

On The Contrary

Hooray! The anti-billboardists have succeeded in preventing several huge billboards from being put up again. So now driving down EDSA one sees huge steel girders naked against the sky. Are they a better sight than, say, a pretty face of some model or even Zanjoe half-naked? Do they enhance the beauty of the metro skyline? Is Metro Manila prettier now that we have giant skeletons along EDSA?


Speaking of billboards, they placed a huge billboard of Our Lady of Guadalupe on that massive one located (where else?) along Guadalupe, right above Café Lupe. It’s like they’re daring MMDA: “Just try and bring down Mama Mary, you f**kers!” Hahaha.

* * * * *

Mo Twister was a fairly popular radio DJ/rapper/actor when he first burst into the local showbiz scene in the 90s. But after disappearing for several years in the US, he’s back where he first started, in FM radio. He has a morning show on 89.9FM, and his particular schtick is that he dares to say things which other morning DJ would hesitate to mention on air, including stuff about local celebrities. Questions about sexual orientation, penis size and bedroom antics aren’t off-limits in his show. Interestingly, he also has a segment where callers can narrate on-air their actual bad experiences with celebrities.

So it’s no surprise that he’s getting a lot of press—and heat—from certain local celebrities because of statements made on his show. Showbiz old timers have repeatedly spoken up against Mo, decrying his lack of respect for his showbiz elders.

Frankly, these oldies are falling right into Mo’s trap. And instead of ruining Mo, they’re actually boosting his visibility and showbiz clout. If he’s really inconsequential, why are they taking time to react to him? Plus it’s silly that these oldies are belittling Mo and his show, saying that he doesn’t have the right to speak ill of established showbiz folks because “he’s not proven himself” and that “he’s not earned the right” to speak that way.


What Mo’s doing is a very tame, Pinoy version of shock radio. With shock radio, there are almost no sacred cows, and outrageous is the norm. The point of shock radio is to provoke—but really, it’s just another form of comedy. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously. To shock and provoke is the joke. Unfortunately most people don’t have that sensibility to look beyond the surface shock value; worse, they take them too seriously.

This indicates that it will be a while before shock radio is fairly accepted by the Pinoy audience. Still I don’t mind having a show like Mo’s. I’m not a big fan of his show; it’s amusing in general but sometimes the topic being discussed just doesn’t interest me. But I’ll defend his right to have a show like his. Those who aren’t in on the joke are in danger of being punchlines themselves.


From UTAKGAGO: is it true that you can meet a lot of guys in the gym? i mean guys who also like guys. how will you know if a guy wants to have sex with you? what are the signs to look out for?

McVIE replies: Yes, you can meet a lot of Guys Who Like Guys (hereby referred to as GWLG) in gyms. That’s the reason why, in an episode of Will & Grace, Jack stated that the gym was “the gay church,” a place gay men come to worship the male form.

I have been a member of four gyms already. And in all four gyms (not even counting the different branches that a couple of them had) I’ve experienced more than one, uhm, encounter with GWLG. And what I mean by encounter is not just a close encounter—I’m talking up-close-and-personal encounters. The level of encounters range from jerk offs and mutual masturbation all the way to, well, all the way.

Of course the likelihood of meeting GWLGs, having an encounter with them, and the level of encounter depend on several things: [1] the number of GWLG members who go to that particular gym (or branch); [2] the time of the day; [3] the physical layout of the gym’s facilities, most especially the sauna, steam room and showers.

Several general rules of thumb:

1. The higher the number of gorgeous-looking guys in the gym, the higher the concentration of GWLGs in that gym. (“Gorgeous-looking” can refer to just face or just body or both face and body—in which case it’s an unjust situation, unless that guy has an IQ of a fire hydrant; if so, then balance is restored to the universe.)

2. The affordability of the membership fee will determine the socio-economic range of GWLGs found in the gym. Kapag jologs ang membership fee, jologs ang crowd.

3. The more private the sauna, steam room and showers, the more likely the encounters.

4. Also regarding layout: if there are “systems” in place that provide early warnings that someone is coming—a longer hallway or noisy swinging doors, for example—then the possibility of a more intense encounter increases.

5. In general the gym staff is aware that encounters do happen. I believe the long-timers can tell who’s really working out and who’s making out. They tend to turn a blind eye to what’s happening; in return, it would be best to discreetly keep encounters away from them.

How will you know if a guy wants to have sex with you? What are the signs to look out for?

The signs generally apply to all sorts of venues, whether in the gym, at the mall, inside the movie house, in a bar or even in church. In general the more straight and public the place, the more discreet the signs.

If a guy makes eye contact and holds it a beat longer than usual before breaking it off, then continues to glance again and again at you, then most likely he’s interested in you. Either that, or he’s mistaken you for someone he knows. The more gay-friendly the venue (for example, gay bars, dance clubs and bathhouses), the safer it is to assume that they’re interested in you.

In a gym sauna or steam room if the guy keeps stealing glances at you, he’s interested. If he’s also rubbing his hard-on under his towel, he’s definitely interested. If he whips out his throbbing, pulsating cock and starts playing with himself—well! At that point if a miscommunication still happens between the two of you, then one of you is a retard.

Remember one very important thing: discretion is the better part of lust. Just as one must always play safe by putting on rubber, one should always be discreet when engaging in encounters at the gym or any venue with a mixed crowd, like a seminary for example. Gays and straights sharing the same space need to respect each other’s sensibilities. Try not to organize an orgy in the steam room; that’s a sure way to have your membership—maybe even your life!—terminated. The more discreet gay men just use the encounters to exchange digits; the sexual activities happen much later outside the gym.

You can tick off straight guys or even fellow gay men by being too aggressive in the gym. The signal you’re sending out is not “I’m interested” but rather “I’m desperate.” You can get either a snub or a sneer from gay men. Worse, you can get a bloody nose from a straight guy with a mean streak.

My attitude towards gym encounters is this: if I’m just looking for sex, there are other, much safer venues where I can go to instead of the gym. If an opportunity comes in the gym and in my assessment an encounter can happen discreetly, then why not? Palay na nga ang lumalapit sa manok, di ba? But I’d rather use the gym for its original purpose and just be open to possibilities.

Play smart, play safe.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Enchanted Weekend

Saturday was my first day with the trainer at the gym. First days are usually the hardest, because your muscles are still not used to the beating they were getting. No pain no gain, they say. I just have to constantly remind myself why I’m paying thousands of bucks just to be tortured for an hour.

Saturday evening I didn’t bother to go out anymore because Sunday early morning I was off to Enchanted Kingdom with the TA kids!
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The Kingdom is celebrating its 10th year. My goodness, the Space Shuttle is 10 years old. But that didn’t stop us from riding it again and again—we’d get off, run back in line, and ride again. I only thought about Final Destination once then promptly forgot about it. There weren’t a lot of people in the park in the morning so we could take consecutive rides on the roller coaster without much hassle. And I was able to take pictures during the ride. I had to assure the attendant that my camera was strapped onto my arm before he allowed me to use it.
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The night ended fittingly with fireworks.
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What a relaxing break for a change. No bruising of my ego, no need to strut my stuff in front of other preening queens. Good, clean, innocent fun.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Where Did My Week Go?

Last night I went out to Government and Bed—two in one night! Well, well, well. I went to Government first because it was the birthday of a good friend of mine. I saw an on-line crush of mine and he said hi to me once, but the whole time I just ignored him because he was with someone else. That and I don’t know what to say to him. Then I met up with Jong and we went to Bed. Thursday evenings in both dance clubs are fairly busy given that they make that day their designated day of celebrating birthdays. Jong met a gym mate of his—in furnez, may katawan ampootah at may er-beauty ang fez. He was wearing a belt buckle with a huge “TOP” on it. Hmmm. At take note, nung nakaupo silang dalawa sa labas, may-I-press his thigh on Jong’s thigh, and HHWUTT (aka holding hands while under the table). Shet. Type ko pa naman, pero laos Cambodia ang beauty ko beside Jong. Teka, anong beauty ang pinagsasabi ko? I bet you they’ll hook up and be in a horizontal position within a week, Jong’s contrary protestations notwithstanding. I got home at around 4-ish, so I set my alarm clock at 7:30am, two full hours later than usual. I think it went off and I turned it off while half-asleep because the next thing I knew it was 8:30 already and I had a 10am. Good thing it was an internal meeting. And that’s like the highlight of my week. Whoopee. Tomorrow morning I start my first training day at the gym; finally I decided to do something really concrete with my expanding waistline and hired a personal trainer. There’s nothing like plunking down good money for motivation—you paid for it, don’t waste it! And with the holidays coming, I’m summoning all my determination and will power to make sure I win the Battle of the Bulge. Plus this Sunday I’m going with the TA kids to Enchanted Kingdom; I haven’t been there in over two years. Since I’ll be with the kids, it’ll be a refreshing change of scene. It’s nice to forget oneself once in a while, forget the self-indulgence and the self-pity. Haaay. I choose this weekend to be a good one for me. So there.

Songs In The Key Of Unrequited

While going through one’s unrequited funk, one must have the proper soundtrack. Yes, I agree that when one is head-over-heels in love or heartbroken to pieces, every single song seems to have special meaning to one’s current state of love/loveless-ness. But in times of unrequited-ness one should take control of one’s daily playlist, lest one stumbles upon a tune special to the ex-couple-that-never-was, a song most commonly referred to as “oh-that-song-reminds-me-of-him!”

So here are some suggestions. Faithful McVie Show viewers are invited to add their own recommended songs as well, because as you read on it’ll become quite obvious that I grew up in the 80s.

In no particular order:

[1] “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” by Tina Turner
Why this song?
This was Ms. Turner’s great comeback in the 80s, after her disastrous relationship with Ike ended. This captures the hard-earned wisdom of a woman who went through hell and back because love blinded her. Yes, it does sound cynical at times but it really is more about taking those cautious first steps after a romantic crash-and-burn.
Repeat after Tina:
It’s physical, only logical,
You must try to ignore
That it means more than that.
Oh, what’s love got to do, got to do with it?
What’s love but a second-hand emotion?
What’s love got to do, got to do with it?
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

[2] “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
Why this song?
The original by Soft Cell is waaay better than the remake by the Pussycat Dolls. Marc Almond’s singing deftly captures the pain and anger of love gone wrong.
Repeat after Marc:
Don’t touch me please,
I cannot stand the way you tease.
I love you though you hurt me so—
Now I’m going to pack my things and go!
Tainted love.

[3] “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” by Soft Cell
Why this song?
Soft Cell has kitchen-sink drama down pat, that’s why they have two songs on this list. With the opening line going, Standing at the door of the Pink Flamingo, crying in the rain, this letting go song is so over-the-top, drama queens will surely have a field day imagining this song playing in the background as they slash their wrists.
Repeat after Marc:
Take your hands off me,
I don’t belong to you, you see.
Take them off my face, for the last time.
I never knew you, you never knew me—
Say hello, goodbye.

[4] “So Lonely” and “Can’t Stand Losing You” by The Police
Why these songs?
Think of these as like a one-two punch. Start with feeling sorry for your lonesome, loveless self then you proceed to ending it all.
Repeat after Sting:
Now no-one’s knocked upon my door
For a thousand years, or more.
All made up and nowhere to go—
Welcome to this one-man show!

In this theatre that I call my soul,
I always play the starring role.
So lonely!

I guess this is our last goodbye,
And you don’t care, so I won’t cry.
But you’ll be sorry when I’m dead—
And all this guilt will be on your head.
I guess you’d call it suicide;
But I’m too full to swallow my pride.
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stand losing,
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stand losing you….

[5] “Victim Of Love” by Erasure
Why this song?
One needs to learn from all these unrequited shit. Personally I think this song’s sentiment is a little too much. But when we hit rock bottom in romance, sometimes the only way to recover is to swing the other way and go the cynical route. Sometimes we really need to swing towards both excessive ends of the pendulum before we can settle down to the calm middle.
Repeat after Andy:
I don’t wanna look
Like some kind of fool.
I don’t wanna break
My heart over you.
I’m building a wall,
Everyday it’s getting higher.
This time I won’t end up
Another victim of love.

Any songs you guys want to add?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

McVie’s Surviving Unrequited Love

1. If he tells you he’s straight, forget him. Even if he exhibits more-than-usual signs that he can “turn gay”, forget him. The fact that he told you he’s straight is just another way of saying You’re not the right gay guy who’ll make me switch teams.

2. If he’s gay and he says “let’s just be friends” then he’s really not that into you.

3. Don’t be naïve to think the two of you can “just be friends,” at least in the next few years or so. Friendship cannot flourish if one of you is pining still.

4. Try to avoid bumping into him. And if you do, keep the contact to a minimum. If you bump into each other in a bar, dance club or even bathhouse, initiate a tactical retreat. In other words, leave (even if you haven’t had a drink, dance or fuck). Believe me, the waste of money isn’t commensurate to the waste of excess emotional confusion or pain.

5. Don’t read his blog/LJ/Multiply/or any online site of his. You say you just want to know what’s going on with his life? Bullshit. Deep down inside you’re just looking for clues, even the tiniest sign of hope for you and your lost cause. Just face it; yours is a lost cause.

6. Repeat after Madonna: There’s no greater power than the power of goodbye.

7. Remember that fear of rejection shouldn’t stop you from taking a chance again on someone else. If you succeed in this, tell me how.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Killer Album

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Move over Paris, The Killers have arrived from Sam’s Town, and they come with guitars, drums and synthesizers a-blazing.

It’s rare nowadays for me to listen—much more like—an album from beginning to end. Thanks to what I call the Compilations Syndrome, which in turn begat the Song Shuffle Syndrome, my ears these days get easily bored if I listen to the same artist with basically the same sound for several songs in a row (usually I last until the 4th or 5th song before tuning out). That is, unless the artist deliberately switches genres from song to song; however, rare is the artist who can pull off that kind of trick successfully without coming up with a stinker or three.

However I was shocked when, song after song, the sophomore album by The Killers kept me listening at full attention. First it’s their sound—I found myself bobbing my head to their more rock-out-loud numbers. After reading some reviews both on-line and off, I realized why I took to this album immediately. Yes, The Killers here sound like they’re channeling other acts—specifically from the 80s. One moment I’m hearing U2 circa “The Joshua Tree” complete with Bono’s evangelical singing and the Edge-y jingle-jangle of guitars; the next moment The Killers are reaching for the big, grand sound of early Big Country and Simple Minds circa “Sparkle In The Rain”. Then there are snatches of Talking Heads and attempts at Bruce Springsteen, including entitling a song “The River Is Wild.” One minute lead singer Brandon Flowers sounds like he’s channeling The Cure’s Robert Smith then the next he’s The Car’s Ric Ocasek reaching for the high notes. But instead of turning me off, here’s a case where familiarity breeds content.

(Funny thing though, most reviewers keep mentioning that The Killers here sound like they’re going the Bon Jovi route, but I just cannot hear “Bed Of Roses,” “You Give Love A Bad Name,” “Bad Medicine” and “I’ll Be There For You” amongst the songs. I guess it goes to show how unfamiliar I am with the New Jersey stadium rockers.)

Then snatches of the lyrics just leaped out to me on first and second hearing:

You sit there in your heartache,
waiting on some beautiful boy to
to save you from your old ways.
You play forgiveness.
Watch it now—here he comes!
He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus,
but he talks like a gentleman,
like you imagined when you were young.

from “When You Were Young”

I said my heart, it don’t beat,
it don’t beat the way it used to
and my eyes don’t recognize you no more.
And my lips, they don’t kiss,
they don’t kiss the way they used to,
and my eyes don’t recognize you no more.
For reasons unknown

from “For Reasons Unknown”

Argh! I hate it. Times like these lyrics like those aren’t what I need, especially these days when I’m feeling particularly weird. You know that gray area of unrequited, hovering between holding on and moving on? Ugh. Whenever I see him, I get all funny-sad inside. It’ll take me some time more, I guess. But until I get him finally out of my system, I’ll quietly suffer.

Woah. There. I’ve said it.

Now to move on; meanwhile, I’ll just bury myself in this killer of an album.

Stand-out tracks:
“When You Were Young”
“For Reasons Unknown”
“Read My Mind”
“Uncle Jonny”

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

‘Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky

All work and no play make McVie a boring show. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pop Goes My World

My favorite magazine is Entertainment Weekly; I call it “my Bible.” So naturally I log in to EW.com, where I found this very interesting feature where they first had their staff write about “The Beloved Movies You Just Can’t Stand.” Many award-winning or popular movies got lambasted, like Titanic, Magnolia and Blair Witch Project. But then they asked the readers to give their “movies everyone liked but me.” Here are some of the readers’ answers:

Crash (2005)

It’s like having a sledgehammer marked “RACISM” smashing into your head for two hours. — Faith

Never have I been more ticked off on Oscar night... Crash was a farce, a movie that only people who don't watch many movies would like. I liked its message about racism, but the script was just way too contrived. And really, are we supposed to feel sorry for a guy who steals people's cars at gunpoint? He got what he deserved, unlike this movie’s creators! — Snoogins

In 10 years it’ll be a camp classic. Never have so many serious actors tackled such serious material so seriously—and thrown around so many racial epithets. Just so you don’t waste your time, I’ll sum it up for you: Racism is bad, m’kay? And racism pushed Sandy down the stairs. — gazer

The English Patient (1996)

There is a reason that Seinfeld made an episode dedicated to bashing the English Patient...Die already, die!!!!...enough said! — me

THE ENGLISH PATIENT. My hubby and I went to see it thinking it would be fantastic. I didn't think it would EVER end. Oh my goodness. Truly the most boring movie ever. — Liza

ENGLISH PATIENT: Beautifully photographed, but three hours is a long time to stare at a screensaver. Is he dead yet? — Wayne

Longest. Boringest. Movie. Ever. The only movie I've ever seen people walk out on. The scene where she hits her head? Did they just fall asleep during the editing process? Three hours and 10 minutes wasn't long enough? — Ruddiger

Lost in Translation (2003)

Was I the only one that didn’t believe Scarlett Johansson would look twice at Bill Murray? — Kara

Lost in Translation: Two rich people lounge around their luxury Tokyo hotel and sneer at everyone else. — Adam K

How that film won a screenplay Oscar is beyond me. It must have had about a five-page script. — Rosie

* * * * *

Here’s something that Entertainment Weekly has not yet written about—at least, I think they haven’t yet.

Now that Casino Royale will be opening this November with Daniel Craig as the latest (and grittier) James Bond, who will sing the theme song? Pretend you’re a Broccoli, one of the producers of the Bond series. Who would you choose? Remember that they try as much as possible to get an act that’s pretty well-known worldwide. Will you go edgy like the new Bond, or will you choose popularity above all?

Who would you consider?

Among the ladies:
a. Beyonce
b. Fergie
c. Christina Aguilera
d. Shakira
e. Pink

Among the men:
a. Robbie Williams
b. Craig David
c. John Legend
d. Sean Paul
e. Usher

Among the groups:
a. Black Eyed Peas
b. Red Hot Chili Peppers
c. Sugababes
d. System of a Down
e. Pussycat Dolls (?!)

Or will they go a totally different route and try Fatboy Slim?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


In 1999 the director of then-to-be-made Moulin Rouge, Mr. Baz Luhrmann, had a spoken-word hit entitled “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. It’s just him reading off a long list of words of advice, much like Desiderata but more practical—and with music. Of the myriad ones he mentioned the following are my top ten, in the order that they were mentioned:

1. Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. (Hmmm. I don’t think I’ve had much practice with this one.)

2. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t. (There are instances when this question is really at the forefront of my mind—usually when I’m behind the wheel, driving to or from work.)

3. What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either—your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

4. Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own. (Good luck; I have low body image.)

5. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. (And yet I still look at all these great looking, uber-sexy male models with their washboard abs and groan to myself. I know it’s not healthy for my self-esteem, but still I do it.)

6. Get to know your parents; you never know when they’ll be gone for good. (Goodbye Daddy; thank god Mommy’s still quite healthy.)

7. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. (Check! But this does not include spouses, like a husband who doesn’t exactly go out of his way to make us like him. But that’s his right, I suppose.)

8. Understand that friends come and go; but for the precious few, you should hold on. (I really like friends who you can take for granted and vise versa.)

9. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. (But here’s the caveat; take someone for granted just a little too much, and you may lose them.)

10. Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85. (Thank god I didn’t start messing with my hair and using products until I was 39 years old, hahaha.)

Sigh. If only life were as easy as dispensing and following advice.

I’ve A Bad Back, I’m Fat, I’m Leched

Two Saturdays ago I went to the office to do overtime work. Despite my being tired the next day I insisted on using the treadmill for the first time in over half a year (I’d often use the stepper for my cardio workout). So Monday came and my back ached but I shrugged it off. Tuesday it became worse, so Wednesday I made sure I got enough sleep and rest. Thursday it was better but Friday saw me seated the whole day due to a planning session and staying up ‘til midnight drinking at an officemate’s birthday party. By Saturday my backache was a full-blown production number—I couldn’t bend properly to put on my shoes, and every time I coughed a shot of pain coursed through my lower left backside. There goes Bed and F for this weekend, I thought to myself.

So I had myself x-rayed Monday morning to see what was wrong. By 6pm the results were in: no pinched nerves, no osteoporosis (old age!), no scoliosis. Muscle strain, I suppose. The doctor told me that sitting for a long time was actually bad for my back at this point. I should either be flat on my back or standing with my left leg slightly raised. So to drive to work this morning, I had to push my seat way forward while tilting the backrest to the lowest possible angle without sacrificing my sightlines. In effect my arms were fully extended when I gripped the wheel; I was afraid I looked like a drag racer, the kind you saw on a Saturday evening at Parañaque or at the stretch just outside Corinthian Gardens or at Libis several years ago, with their souped up cars with black lights on the underside. Ugh.

I have enough tablets of my medicine to last for about a week; I’m not supposed to go to the gym while my back isn’t healed yet. Oh my god. Jubesity! When the feeling comes, and you can’t go on, it’s jubesity! This afternoon my gay officemate looked at my picture in my ID (taken a mere six months ago) and said, “Ang payat mo noon.”


(*Pronounced letch-t, it’s English for “Na-leche!”)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Infernally Departed

(This entry has been revised as of 10 Oct. 2006)

If you haven’t seen the original film where it’s based on, then you’ll find Hollywood’s The Departed (2006) an excellent thriller with tons of twists and turns. But if you’ve watched Hong Kong’s excellent Infernal Affairs (2002) then you’ll be slightly disappointed at how Hollywood has cleaned up the more ambiguous Asian version.

The Departed hews very closely to the set-up of the original: the mob places a mole inside the police force; unknown to them the police also places an undercover agent deep into their ranks. But in the Hong Kong version this doppelganger switcheroo happens years ago. So this long-time arrangement impacts on the psyches of these two moles. By living on the opposite side of the law, both men are now in deep conflict over who they were before versus who they have become. Living a lie blurs one’s identity; at the end of the movie, who’s to say who is really the bad guy?

In the Hollywood version, the characters are more clear-cut. Good cop di Caprio. Bad cop Damon. Badder baddie Jack Nicholson, chewing up the scenery with glee; it’s a mesmerizing performance and a delight to watch. Leonardo di Caprio and Matt Damon also turn in powerful performances, although I personally wished their characters were several years older just like in the original. Even Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg manage to hold their own very well. This being a Martin Scorsese film, the acting is top-notch. The editing is brilliant—the build-up is relentless but well paced. And this script manages to retain this streak of morbid humor, maybe even exceeding the original.

However I prefer the Hong Kong version because it has an added layer of complexity to its main characters and their dilemma. In that version Andy Lau (House Of The Flying Daggers) plays the mole inside the police force, while Tony Leung (In The Mood For Love, Hero) is the undercover cop who’s now a trusted right-hand man of gangster head Eric Tsang. What’s different is that the switching happened early on in their careers, when Lau was about to graduate from the police academy and Leung was “kicked out” of the academy (actually part of the cover-up so that he could infiltrate the mob). So the two had spent a good number of years in their respective covers, long enough so that their characters are already torn at the start of the movie: Lau has found success, respectability and the prospect of a normal life more and more enticing; meanwhile, Leung found himself doing more and more crimes for the sake of keeping up appearances. This push-and-pull is ultimately resolved in the ending of the film, but knowing that the ending’s political implications will make Mainland China authorities skittish, the filmmakers made an alternate ending (available on DVD) for that market.

Meanwhile I think Hollywood abhors a messy ending—and believe me both versions have really messy endings. So Hollywood chose the usual “bad guy gets his comeuppance in the end” which, admittedly neater, is not as satisfying as the original’s audacity to let the bad guy go scot-free. Infernal raises the infernal question: Is the “bad guy” really a bad guy? Too bad Scorsese’s Departed departed from that route and took a safer, neater one instead.

If you’re interested in seeing both, maybe it will be better if you watch The Departed first before watching Infernal Affairs. In any case see both; each deserves an A.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Six Degrees Of Fahrenheit

This morning on the radio they were talking about how old scents are making a comeback. Old as in our parents’ generation old—scents like Old Spice and Brute by Faberge. Which reminded me of an old Eddie Murphy stand-up routine about how ironically contrasting the two names “Brute” and “Faberge” were—like a very dark, very muscular but very effeminate gay bouncer.

But that’s not really my topic.

Who among you have at one time or another bought, used, or wanted to buy or use Fahrenheit? Go on, come out of your perfumed closet and admit it. There was a time when it seemed like every other gay man was wearing Fahrenheit. It became the token Eau de Homo. I remember stalking the dark halls of Club Bath and every corner had a lingering whiff of that Christian Dior scent.

It was a scent that grabbed you on first whiff—it was quite distinctive and identifiable but not in an off-putting way. It’s as if it automatically branded the wearer but minus the baggage of older scents (“smells like my old man”) or the more citrus-y and floral scents (“smells so girlie”). In fact it seems to hover somewhere in the middle of masculine and feminine, which I guess is why a lot of gay men preferred this scent.

Pretty soon what connected gay men was the scent of Fahrenheit. It got to a point that whenever I detected that scent in public I’d search for the source and almost always the culprit had plucked eyebrows or was fastidiously fashionable. The scent of Fahrenheit became a better gaydar than gaydar itself. And maybe that’s why it disappeared almost overnight. What started out as gaydom’s subtle badge of honor instead morphed into a loud, screaming billboard that could come crashing down given a wrong gust of wind.

With this movement for bringing back the scents of old, maybe Fahrenheit will return along with Cool Water, Drakkar Noir and Colors by Benetton. Is that a comeback I smell in the air?
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Sick Cycle Mind

Sometimes the realization creeps up on me just like that. Like the time I was driving along Katipunan area one morning and I noticed a Korean dormitory, then two Koreans walking to school, then a Korean restaurant and suddenly I realized, oh my gosh I’m in the middle of a Koreanovella! Or that one evening while driving home, I passed by a particular intersection in Marikina City, an intersection I pass through every single day on my way home. But at that particular moment I suddenly realized how the intersection was so clean and well lit; to think that the intersection looked the same an evening before!

I tune things out while driving. Often it’s the landscape that I take for granted; I end up not noticing changes. Or I take note of them but a millisecond later I shove them to the back of my mind. But after a while they break free and suddenly I’m realizing clearly what I’ve noticed subconsciously before.

Last night as I was driving along EDSA on my way home I realized just how many motorcycles were on the road. It was actually irritating. I have nothing against motorcycles per se; in fact, although I don’t know how to ride a motorcycle I would like to be able to eventually. But a lot of them weave carelessly in and out of vehicles, and many of the cyclists don’t wear proper headgear. Then there are those who drive too slow but refuse to move to one side to let you pass.

I think motorcycles should be banned from major highways, or else make a separate lane just for motorcycles. Will Pinoys follow that rule?


For now, I’ll just endure those weaving, swerving motor-sigh-cles. Or maybe I should just drive them back to my subconscious so that they won’t bother me again.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

First Day Hay Naku

As someone who is in advertising and who used to work for a network, I decided to watch the movie First Day High more out of curiosity than anything. After all, I’m not a big fan of any of the cast members (although I thought Geoff Eigenmann was the cutest guy on TV during pre-Milby days). I was curious to find out if a product (Rexona) was able to successfully translate their ad campaign into a unique below-the-line merchandising material, and to see if the final material helped enhance the brand image. Certainly this isn’t the first time that a product used a movie as an advertising tool—Close-Up toothpaste has done it before also with ABS-CBN Films/Star Cinema. But Rexona’s “First Day High” campaign has been one of the most thorough and seamless in its execution, and is a great template for future full campaigns.

Having said that, let’s turn to the latest merchandising material in this campaign. Did this grand effort work? To answer that, we must bear in mind that the final measure is not an increase in deodorant sales, but more on enhancing the image of the product. Ultimately the question can only be answered one way: if the movie works, then the whole effort works. Good movie equals good image that will halo on the product.

Is the movie any good? Grade: F.

The script is shoddy. The direction is sophomoric. The movie thinks it’s being hip and witty but it’s not. The acting ranges from amateurish to downright awkward. Wait, I’m being kind; the acting can be painful to watch.

Kim Chiu actually pulled off a difficult trick of making a cliché character seemed more interesting than as written. Maja Salvador reminded me of a young Jolina Magdangal; if she can tone down her effort-ful acting, she can be a very effective comedienne. At least Jason Abalos didn’t try too hard in essaying his character, sparing the viewers from an affected performance.

Which leaves us with two of the better-looking boys in the cast. Here we see the cinematic equivalent of math’s inverses: the better the looks, the worse the acting. Geoff gets by with posing; meanwhile the range of his facial expressions is best described as Botoxian.

Sayang si Gerald Anderson. He registers well on-camera, having a pleasant aura. But he can’t act and can’t even speak straight Filipino. We already have a Sam Milby, so do we really need another good-looking guy who’s limited to doing English-speaking roles?

The movie seemed to target a specific market—Rexona’s brand managers. Duh. Which made me wonder—how much involvement did clients have in making this movie? Did they have final script approval, or were they just FYI’ed? Because ideally I think clients should stay away from the filmmaking process as much as directors and producers shouldn’t be allowed to create a formula for deodorants. Let the experts do their job. If clients dipped their hands into the making of this film, then they should also bear the brunt of the blame for this failure of a film. If this was Star Cinema’s way of bending backwards to please client, they should stop making movies and start doing commercials instead.

If I were Rexona’s brand manager, I’d take several cases of my product and apply them on this movie.

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