Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Found While Cyber-Stalking... (a.k.a. Don't Believe Everything on the Net...)

There are soooo many things to write and blog about. So much stuff, in fact, that I still have a couple or so things that are kept as drafts here in Blogger that I swear I will finish and post when I deem them worthy. Others stew in my head until things pile up and I only vaguely remember certain things... (one day, I will write and post something about the bus that pretended to be an airplane... there really is one, honest...) Nonetheless, from time to time, some things just grab one by the jewels that one doesn't care how one writes. One just cares to express his awe (and shock, and amusement...) right away.
In the course of my regular cyber-stalking (for literature's sake, i swear...), i stumbled across something I was so sure wouldn't happen...

The above is considered by myself as annoying, because I've told many people in passing in the midst of all this 80's nostalgia that Rick Astley will NEVER be here. I got my "facts" from this site:
This is something of a personal afrontery since I have prided myself as a music geek of a rather high order... But hey, he's coming... Phobias be damned. So run to Bruno's for your crew cut, and pull out your turtlenecks, people... Mr. Astley's coming to town... Now I will try to see whether or not I will try to procure tickets to this throwback event...
And I will remind myself that information procured from the internet must never be considered gospel...

later, dudes...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Marge in the Flesh...

i'm desperately stopping myself from turning into one of those parents who post nothing but stuff about their children online...

but i will indulge myself for a while... however, i will try to make it as interesting as possible for those of you who stumble into this site...


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Yippee-Ka-Yay, Muthah Fuckah… Hasta Mañana, Baby…

In around thirty six hours, my life is going to change like never before. The person the wifey and I have waited for far too long is going to finally see the light of day and catch her first breath…

Margaret Jasmine Aguarin Golangco is about to be born. And I am scared shitless.

There are several reasons I have become this cowboy, this maverick that people have come to know me to be. For one, I’ve been through enough in life that has helped me learn enough to wade through most types of quagmires life might throw at me. Then there’s the rather comfortable safety net my family’s business accords me, which gives me a level of confidence (some would say cockiness) to charge head on to practically anything. I do so armed with the knowledge that I will come out on the other end possibly not unscathed, but definitely alive, kicking and probably even laughing my ass off.

Then there’s the huge factor of a handful of great friends who have stuck with me through the thick, the thin and everything else in between. There’s this overwhelming sense of calm and security with the knowledge that no matter what kind of sleazebag I may reasonably turn into, there will always be people who will lend me an ear and give me a hand.

It also helps that I married a very strong lady, who thrives on her own, and can practically survive everything short of World War Three. In short, she doesn’t need me to survive. Thus, I can go on playing cowboy without having to worry about her.

I didn’t have anyone to truly worry about, I wasn’t going to be alone anytime soon, and damn I felt invincible.

With Marge, I can’t help but feel that’s all about to change.

This cowboy is getting mighty antsy. But a happy antsy. Assuming I do end up getting off my high-horse, taking off my spurs, and watching the sunset while going home a little earlier than usual for the rest of my life… there’s no better reason to do so.

She’s coming into an old world, a tired and dirty world that almost always seems to be running short of breath lately. It’s a world that seems to get slightly darker at every dawn filled with false half-promises. Like every parent, I carry hopes that this little bundle of giggles and unspeaking eloquence help try to bring a little light back into this earth.

For now, I raise my glass and toast the cowboy, the maverick…

Money for Fries… (The P20 Wage Hike...)

The law has been passed and signed! Minimum wage here in the capital city of the Philippines (Metro Manila), now at P362 a day, will experience a glorious addition of… TWENTY FUCKING PESOS a day!!!


WOW… five more bucks a day, and we can go all Morgan Spurlock and throw in an extra order of regular McFries on the average Pinoy’s daily diet.

Let’s do some math here… (and to think, I HATE math…)

If one works for P30 days a month, one would get an additional P520 on his month-end total. Now let’s assume that that money will be used for food, and not for a little less than a case worth of Ginebra GSM Long. That would mean that the average household can afford an extra four kilos of chicken, or an additional twenty kilos of NFA rice. Now where would that Five Hundred something pesos be in the grand spending scheme that is Malacañang? Click on the link below for some rather amusing details…

If you clicked on the above link, then join me in a collective “whew!” If you didn’t click on it, then here’s the skinny:
“…Keeping house for Malacañang under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cost taxpayers a cool P2.36 billion in 2006, according to reports of the Commission on Audit.The annual housekeeping tab for the Palace on average amounted to P196 million a month, or P6.5 million a day, or P273,148 every hour.”

Yes, Virginia! There is a Santa Claus, and he fucking loves Malacañang!

But let’s return ourselves to some semblance of perspective here… Naturally, we must keep our most important lawbreaker law-maker comfortable and healthy, while she mulls on greater plans to plunder what’s left of our country! Bwahahahahaha…! We must show visitors from other nations that we can treat them right and feed them millions of Pesos worth of food, while the citizens that Malacañang has sworn to serve and protect are starving to death or insanity.

We are RICH... RICH... RICH!!! This country is RICH...!

Now I might come across as inconsistent or even hypocritical since just a couple or so entries ago, I was bemoaning the pending wage increase, and now I seem to bemoan how little it is. But it's never that simple. I mean, do I like the fact that there will is pending wage hike? No. Is there anything a common citizen like me can do about it? Again, no. But do I think it will help improve things considering that the increase will be an amount that won't even buy a regular serving of McFries? Again, hell no...

Thing is, the regularly occuring wage hikes are like those candies lolled around in the mouth by someone with sewer breath. It may mask the stench for a while, but ultimately, the air from the body stinks, because the body is either dehydrated, or hungry, or both. And if one always keeps a glob of candy in one's mouth, then one's teeth will decay. This would of course, lead to even more bad breath.

In this case, the twenty bucks is a breath mint the size of a Smint, but with only a quarter (or less) of the taste. And in a second or two, the stench of the digestive acids of a hungry belly come creeping back up. And believe you me, the average Filipino is hungry, hungry, hungry... Given the amount spent by Malacañang on food every month, which clocks in at over P6 Million, that means that Malacañang can finish off in a single month, the wage increase meant for 300,000 people. That's THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE. And the government is complaining that it can't afford to keep on subsidizing NFA rice to keep it within supposedly arm's reach for the "common Pinoy."

But they can afford to spend P6 Million for food for a handful of people...

But let's not spoil the party...

We are RICH! RICH! And soon, with the bill approved, ALL WORKING FILIPINOS WILL BE TWENTY PESOS RICHER EVERY FUCKING DAY!!! To borrow a phrase from my business partner, Creative Director Carlo E. Rodriguez Balingit: “START PLANNING YOUR TRIPS TO EUROPE, PEOPLE!”

And no, I have not run out things to say about this matter, but I will save them for another entry. In the meantime, I have assembled the following for your entertainment and enlightenment…

Friday, May 16, 2008

Movie Review: Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (feel the "Need for Weed")

After 2004’s “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle,” I’ve always shared their “need for weed,” or at least for their sequel. What started off as “H&K Go To Amsterdam,” has been eagerly anticipated by guys like me who want to plop down and turn their brains off for an hour and so.

Lo and behold, the sequel has arrived!

While the trailers have already been enough cause for celebration, it was also coupled with the apprehension that the sequel will only destroy the sweet, lingering, weed-laced aftertaste of “White Castle.” It didn’t. But despite having become an official fan of the moronic character stereotypes of “Harold and Kumar,” and despite having waited for as long as I have, I must admit that while I enjoyed the flick, I still found “White Castle” the “better joint.”

The movie picks up right where the previous one left off. Supposedly mere moments after Harold (John Cho) gathers up his scrawny Asian balls and kisses hottie neighbor Maria (Paula Garces). Naturally, they decide to follow Maria all the way to Amsterdam, where Harold can profess his geeky Asian love for Garces’ Latina love-goddess.

As expected, nothing goes according to plan, and a handful of racist jokes later, they get thrown into Guantanamo Bay (I’m not telling you anything you don’t know yet, right?). They proceed to stage their accidental escape, try to cross a few states on the way to a friend who can help clear them, enjoy a joint along the way (with the President of the U.S.A. no less…), and they all live happily stoned ever after.

Think the plot’s simple? Hell, if you think you’re buying a ticket to a tightly-plot story that encourages good morals, racial equality, and staying drug-free, then maybe you’re already stoned.

Oh, and stay until after the credits. There’s a surprise. But it doesn’t have Samuel L. Jackson.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Baclaran Notes (5/6/08)


Coming from our weekly Baclaran trek last night, the wifey and I were annoyed to find that the usual routes leading from the back of the church to the rest of civilization were blocked. So we had to sniff our way out, found the corner right behind the Heritage Hotel, where Victoria Court kept its Pasay branch, and crossed the service road to the break in the plant box/island. Then we were accosted at some “corner” of Roxas Boulevard… a sad stretch of no more than five to six cars long was branded as “one way,” and… well… best if I illustrate instead.

See Figure A.

Once apprehended, the wifey and I both explained in unison “Bakit po?” Only to be told that we totally ignored one way signs for the break in the island between the service road and Roxas Boulevard. Unfortunately, unlike Ace of Base, I did NOT see the signs…

I write about this, because the poor traffic enforcer who is not a cop, seemed like a genuinely nice guy, subtly offered to “redeem” my driver’s license on my behalf if I signed the blank ticket or something. I didn’t even let him get to the point where he spills out his “redemption fee.” My wife was already trying to bribe her way through to Mr. Non-Cop Traffic Enforcer, while I was gently elbowing her to knock it off since I told her that I wanted to be a responsible citizen and not encourage small time corruption. She was practically simmering at me for refusing to shell out the hundred bucks to get rid of Mr. NCTE (Non-Cop Traffic Enforcer).

Their justification for that turning that few yards into a one-way “strip” was meant to curb incidences of cars traversing Roxas Boulevard almost laterally just to get on board the fly-over. But despite that, I sincerely felt wronged, especially since I had no plans of endangering my pregnant wife and unborn child by going all Gran Turismo to the fly-over. Thus, I asked Mr. NCTE to indicate very clearly on my ticket that I was apprehended between Roxas Boulevard and the service road. The nice man was sweating a bit more, and I suspect that he is sweating at the prospect of writing something in detail. So I repeated my request that the ticket indicate what I asked. I slowly repeated: “paki lagay po, ‘between Roxas Boulevard and the service road,’ kasi po ihaharap ko pa sa opisina yan.”

And with beads of sweat forming on his poor brow, he came up with Figure B:

Figure B.

It was at this point that the wifey was showing the irritated temper of a hungry pregnant woman who was inhaling smoke just because her idiot husband wanted to give Mr. NCTE a hard time for nothing. And it was also at this point that I felt sorry for Mr. NCTE. He couldn’t even spell “SERVICE,” dammit… At least he has a job, right?

Here comes Mr. Real Cop Man, who swoops down to save what’s left of his lackey’s dignity by simply offering to authorize that my arrest grounds be downgraded to disregarding traffic signs. Again, sadly I am not Ace of Base…

We zoom on out to the Aristocrat for a late dinner and my dose of their Java sauce, and I asked the wifey to stop being pissed at me. I repeated to her that I merely didn’t want to encourage small time corruption. After a few seconds, she threw me this: “And if you paid for the ticket ‘properly,’ do you honestly think the government will use your hard-earned money for good and productive things?”

I suddenly remembered the genial Mr. NCTE, who could have bought an extra four kilos of NFA rice with the hundred bucks I would’ve bribed my way out with. Better that than a little more fuel allowance for the gas-guzzling SUV’s of the city officials of Pasay City, I thought… or the money would’ve also only gone to paying for a week’s worth of power for one of those ridiculously colorful street lamps along Roxas.

I should’ve just given four kilos worth of rice to the guy who couldn’t spell “service.”

Maybe this doesn’t really apply so simply, since there are clearly a lot of corrupt cops running amok in this sad, infested city. But the biggest pests are not skittering through the streets trying to leech a couple or so hundred bucks at a time. The real vermin are sitting behind desks and wearing barongs as they feed off the carcasses of the citizenry they swore to serve and protect. Citizens starving and sleeping in the streets, while government people indulge in big buffets at five-star hotels they rode their European vehicles to get to, using money earned from traffic violation tickets, taxes from overpriced gasoline, taxes from hard-working companies who receive nothing in return, or money from kickbacks from shady government deals.

Government officials that feed off wastes, remnants of the sick, the bony shells of the dying, and the carcasses they helped create. Just like insects do.

No tickets for me after this. This is the last one.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Movie Review: Iron Man

A COMIC BOOK MOVIE WORTH ITS "METAL" At this point, everybody and his mother have probably seen Iron Man. And while everyone has a few nits to pick here and there, it has generally been considered one of the best comic adaptations done thus far. But who cares what I think about this movie anyways? It’s a tentpole movie that can really hold up the tent. In this day and age, the cgi from movie to movie is basically comparable to one another. The only real dividing line being the direction, and of course, the acting. I don’t know that much about Jon Favreau as a director. It's bad enough that his name is tough to spell, his name doesn't rhyme with "day," "iceberg," "zinger," or "slimy." But that also works in his favor. With directing credits as far apart as 2005's "Zathura," and "Elf" starring Will Ferrell, people just somehow don't really know what to expect from him helming a film. Oh, and lest I forget, he played Pete Becker, Courtney Cox's dumb-ass UFC-obsessed rich guy boyfriend for six episodes worth on "Friends." But Favreau made it clear to early doubters that he may be part director, part producer, and part actor for airhead roles, but he was definitely all comic fanboy. There was a collective sigh of relief, but quiet excitement and apprehension for geeks across the cosmos. Then he threw Downey's name into the proverbial casting hat. And from then on, whether he liked or not, whether he gave a damn or not... whether he even knew me... or not... Jon Favreau and I (may I call you "Jon"?) were friends.

See here, more than being a fan of Mr. Downey since "Air America," Mr. Downey stars in one my two all-time favorite life-changing movies, 1993's "Heart and Souls,” the other one being Robin Williams' "Dead Poets Society." In "Heart and Souls," Downey practically played a grand total of 5 different roles of both genders and diverse personalities. And when Kyra Sedgewick uttered to him: "It doesn't matter if she says 'yes' or 'no,' [you can't] let her go without letting her know you really feel..." Downey ran for Elizabeth Shue and showed me another rule to live the rest of my life by.

Downey brings all his rehab-resident baggage with him into this movie and wisely channels it into a “been there, done that” persona that fits snugly into how comicdom has known the character of Tony Stark. Throw in the confidence of a maverick actor who has managed to snag an Oscar, whose probably rightful conceit at his own talents resulted in practical self-destruction, and you have the perfect foundations of a gazillionaire playboy genius without a care in the world. At least until his cinematic Middle-Eastern epiphany anyways…

Before Johnny Depp and Tim Burton became best friends, and Burton decided he would turn Depp into the ultimate Hollywood oddball, there was Jeff Bridges, a.k.a. “The Big Lebowsky,” “Starman,” “Flynn” on “Tron,” to name a few quirky characters and anti-heroes Bridges has played over the course of his rather erratic career. Not being a diehard fan of the Iron Man mythos, I am honestly not familiar with the character of Obadiah Stane, which was handed to Bridges’ considerable talents. However, it seems that after outlining Tony/Iron Man, the writers figured that all collateral characters will merely serve as Oscar-nominated wallpaper. I come into this assumption given the seemingly two-dimensional role of Stane, and even Terrence Howards’ James Rhodes. But Bridges being Bridges, you can count on him throwing in a few touches of depth lesser actors wouldn’t have been capable of given the few cheeky lines his character was accorded. Best of all, Bridges looked like he was genuinely having fun.

I respect Gwyneth Paltrow. I find her beautiful, reasonably sexy, and helps put down dumb blonde stereotypes by having that fun-but-no-nonsense demeanor mostly reserved for brunettes. Snappy dialogue aside, Paltrow did a good job as Pepper Potts, but given her regal demeanor, she's too classy for that role. I also don’t think they should have shoehorned that pseudo-romance thing between her character and Downey’s. And what’s with her hair on that otherwise lovely dress? Hope the stylist was fired.

Too early to say anything about Terrence Howard since his role seems to mostly be for a sequel preparation…

If only to give Mr. Downey his due props… I write this one, single statement: if it was anyone else, it wouldn’t have been as good. So whys am I bothering to write this apart from sticking my proverbial tongue out to those who still haven’t seen it? (LOSER!) BECAUSE ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. IS BACK, BIG AND IS DA BOMB, BABY!!!

Now let’s hope he doesn’t enjoy the return of his career with a party in rehab…

There’s no real need to clamor for a sequel, fellow nerds… with its $100Million opening, the Marvel accountants will do the clamoring for us.

Again, I hope Mr. Downey will be sober and ready when the time comes.

Delayed Book Review: Sting Biographies

Delayed Book Review: “Broken Music, a Memoir” by Sting

Almost Melodic Reading

Part of a minor shopping spree at PageOne in Hong Kong last ’05 was a copy of Sting’s biography, “Broken Music.” Released back in 2003 in Great Britain, it took a couple of years to reach Asia, and probably the rest of the globe since it was at about this time that I caught Mr. Sumner guesting in Oprah, most likely to peddle his memoir.

While I admit to being a massive Sting fan, more so as a solo artist than in the Police, I did let “Broken Music” gather a bit of dust on my shelf until I brought it with me to Macau. Intending to merely let it fill in airport waiting time, and the occasional lull in-between tourist spots, “Broken Music” gave this reader a whole new level of fascination for Mr. Gordon Sumner. So much so that my engrossment caused me to not notice that I already got left behind once by the bus for the city tour.

Segueway: The whole Macau affair was sponsored by Banbros Commercial, Incorporated, the Philippines’ exclusive distributor of Altec Lansing speakers, and the one of two distributors of ASUS products. Supposedly to reward loyal dealers like our Exponent Enterprises division in Baguio City. Thanks, Boss Mike!
Aaaaaaanyways… on to the books…!

Sting uses his excursion to a Brazilian rain forest with its inclusive swig of the exotic Ayahuasca brew as a literary trigger to kick off his flashbacks. This is where we sort of figure that given the way Sting describes his mother, Audrey, one is tempted to think that little Gordon seems to have some sort of Oedipus fetish (or complex) over his self-confessed maternal first muse.

But stupid and pointless insinuations aside, “Broken Music” provides a dreamy, atmospheric, yet stark narrative of Sting’s early life to the first few cracks of massive global fame of his “Police” days. Sting details much of his rise, including his poignant days with “Last Exit,” the band he was part of along with keyboard player Gerry Richardson, who he became good friends with. Sting even gives out the rare peek into the rather earnest personality of erstwhile band member Henry Padovani and the French guitarist’s self-described “really moments.” Glossing over such things as fan-speculated band dynamics, while pointing out highlights on the “Police’s” astronomic climb, Sting tells enough “Police” story to carry his yarn along, but not enough to cause the wide-eyed fan (like yours truly) to salivate for more “Police” details. Most likely leaving it for a possible sequel, or perhaps quietly suggesting that “Police”-starved readers pick up his band-mate, Stewart Copeland’s “Everyone Stares,” first-person rock-umentary video.

Whereas autobiographies of singer-songwriters are usually interesting reading, “Broken Music” stands out with its author’s nigh god-like command of the written word (or spoken, or sung, for that matter). His story-telling powers make otherwise mundane events sparkle like mined rocks encrusted with multi-faceted gems in a rainbow of reflected colors and tinted nuances.

And while there is frankly not enough about his music in these pages (for me anyways), it does give a loyal fan like me profound insight on this bard, who has painted his own portrait in a canvass that is almost larger-than-life.

As a fan, I enjoyed it immensely. Granted, I found the Rio de Janeiro intro device a bit cumbersome, it nonetheless sets matters firmly into this reader’s mind that what I am leafing through will not be a mere VH1 rerun.
For those who are not diehards, I would recommend “Broken Music” if only for its excellence as a purely literary piece. Because after the fog machines have stopped smoking, the spotlights have been shut off, and the star-struck trivia-hunting scavenger has tired of trying to find skeletons in Sting’s proverbial closet, “Broken Music” is quite simply a damn good, well-written story.

Delayed Book Review: “Sting, Demolition Man” by Christopher Sandford

Entertaining, and Un-Demolishing

Whereas “Broken Music” had the benefit of Sting’s name as author emblazoned on the cover over the novelty of a young photograph of the rock demi-god, Sandford’s “Demolition Man” had to resort to slapping what I can assume to be a stock image of Sting in concert on the cover, along with a rather pedestrian choice of typefaces.

I can go on about my personal criticisms of un-elegance in its book design, but I must admit that “Demolition Man” did entertain. Of course, my having read “Broken Music” almost a year prior to this volume may have been a factor in coloring and diluting my appreciation of Sandford’s literary efforts. It does not take away the realization that a handful of chapters into “Demolition Man,” one concludes that Sandford really did do his homework, although one might question the credibility of his sources.

After peeking into the mostly negative reviews of Sandford’s succinctly titled biography “Kurt Cobain,” and other rather modestly received biographies, I approached this book with caution.

“Demolition Man” actually reads more like a personal commentary from Sandford, who sounds very much like an honest fan, almost venerating Sting for all the rock demi-god’s supposedly much-deserved egomania. He, of course peppers this with quotes from various magazines, along with statements from the various aforementioned supposedly reliable sources. With a huge bulk of the texts reflecting Sandford’s work as a music critic, wherein he pores over rather subjective opinions and critiques regarding Sting’s music.

“Demolition Man” works more as a collated scrap book that entertains, slightly informs, but never reaches its aspiration to become a genuine volume of reference. Nonetheless, it was a more than decent complement to “Broken Music.” But read alone, its only greatest revelation is how big a Sting fan Sandford is.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Movie Review: Chick Flick Snooze-Fest...

“Over Her Dead Body”
Desperate housewife meets ghost meets monster in law meets just like heaven meets dr. Doolittle… and all that with a helping of old, barely edible cheese…

Eva Longoria must have figured she can try and squeeze this lousy heap of celluloid trimmings in between shoots of Desperate Housewives. Uhm… she must have learned her lesson by now… She’s better off doing bit parts or smaller roles and just putting some eye-candy on big movies like she did in Michael Douglas’ “The Sentinel.”

Paul Rudd desperately needs to stay away from rubbish like this. The guy ain’t untalented. But unless the paycheck is pretty good, Rudd just took his market value a notch down with this movie.

The best about it was that I got to snooze off for half an hour…

“Fools Gold”
Kate Hudson is sexy. Kate Hudson exists to give the proverbial finger to all those women who went under the knife for fake tits, who desperately beg to be sexy. Kate Hudson is adorable. She is funny, but still intelligent (her lack of silicon proves it). She gives dumb blondes a bad name. Kate Hudson is smart. Blondes can be smart.

Donald Sutherland is either broke or bored, or was offered a shipload (pun intended) of money to appear as a super-rich foreign tycoon who has an imbalanced brat for a daughter, who would have been attractive if she wasn’t forcing the bimbo act so much…

Matt McConaughey was sent here to earth to humble me. He exists to belittle physically imperfect hetero-sexual Asian men like me, who are not built like him. Good thing he’s always depicted as being denser than a brick wall, and almost as clueless as Paula Abdul after several shots of that laced Coke on the judges’ table at American Idol. Mabuhay to the stereotypically intelligent, but physically inferior Asian man… whoopee…

Who cares about the movie? It’s what these great actors are doing with their careers that I’m worried about.

They give their best, but the material is too thin for me… my wife enjoyed it though…

* * * * *

It’s half a year away from Thanksgiving (of course, we don’t have thanksgiving here in the Philippines), but what we have here is an early serving of a couple of turkeys…