Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bi Now, Gay Later

Last night someone asked me this question: How come most gays don’t believe me when I say that I’m bisexual?

* * * * *

Who are these people who call themselves bisexuals? Let McVie count the ways.

[1] I believe there are gay men who just hide behind the label “bisexual” because they’re afraid of being labeled “gay”. They are the scared ones.

[2] I believe there are men who may just be discovering that they are gay, after years of ignorance or denial. They may have had relationships—sexual, even—with girls. So from girls they are just crossing over to the other side of the fence. They are the sincerely confused ones.

[3] I believe that there are a number of gay men who call themselves bisexual because of ignorance between the terms “bisexual” and “straight-acting”. They are the stupid ones.

[4] I suspect there are a few men—gay or straight—who just want to project themselves as cool, and bisexual is the new cool. They are the style-over-substance ones.

[5] Then there are those who really get sexually aroused by guys and girls. Maybe the attraction to each gender is not equal; maybe not at the same time. They are truly the swinging ones. They are also, I suspect, the silent ones.

* * * * *

Coming out can be a difficult process because it asks a person to be honest with who he really is, not who he wants to be. And in the process of coming out, a gay man may hold on to several defense mechanisms. Not being honest with oneself is one such defense.

It is not surprising therefore that gays (especially the more militant ones) hold suspect those who say they are bisexual. After all, given the examples above, the likelihood of that guy being a real bisexual is one out of five. No wonder the knee-jerk reaction to the statement “I am bisexual” is an arched eyebrow and a high-pitched “Bisexual, my ass!”

* * * * *

And that’s why I think true bisexuals are the silent shadows lurking within the gay community, a darker shade of pink that’s ever changing, ever shifting, ever wondering if people will believe them for who they say they are.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Boxed In

Thank god for my couch potato sister.


And the “Heroes” box set includes the never-aired original version of the pilot episode, 50 deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes and more. Oh no. That means weekends staring at the screen for hours.

On second thought, curse my couch potato sis!

Too Gigil To Giggle

My dear straight friends and former classmates: The following material is classified as Possibly Contains Too Much Information. Avert your eyes elsewhere.

* * * * *

He was shorter and thinner than me. The semikal hair made him look like Trouble. So I invited him to my room.

He pinned me down and started playing his tongue all over my body. He sucked my toes. He tongue-fucked my glory hole deep and fast. He spread my legs and positioned his cock against my hole. “No condom, no way,” I made an excuse. So he contented himself to dry humping my ass. He’s going through my routine, I told myself. So this is how it feels to make out with oneself.

So when he paused in his assault, I launched my counter-attack. I first aimed for his nipples. Apparently that’s his extremely sensitive area. My sudden licking threw him off so I threw him off me and I straddled him, pinning his arms to the side. Taken aback, he tried to fight back. But I had his nipples under my tongue, and it reduced him to utter alternating squeals of lust and laughter. When I dived my tongue into his pits, his body twisted violently. “Huwag! Huwag!” he cried, but he might as well have commanded me, “More! More!” I continued until I reduced him to a sweating, panting, helpless mess. Throughout it all we were hitting the thin wooden walls of my room; I’m sure the guys outside at the corridor were treated to the sound of sexual struggle.

I returned the favor and rimmed him good. That got him groaning out loud and swearing through gritted teeth, “‘Tangina mo! ‘Tangina mo! Put—!” gasp “—tang ina ka!” I swear at any other time I’d be embarrassed with all the noise, but this time it was really turning me on. There’s something about overpowering an aggressor and reducing him to putty.

When I flipped him over and mounted his back, he moaned with pleasure. “Putangina pare, ngayon lang ako nag-bottom, para sa ‘yo lang,” he moaned, pushing his ass up to meet my thrusts. Something snapped in my head and I turned animal, gripping his chest with my arms as my pounding increased harder, faster. He went wild with his moaning and groaning. He said, “Sige! Buntisin mo ako! Buntisin mo ako!

Thank god at that point I was so deep into thrusting I couldn’t stop to snicker, even if I wanted to.

Robbie William’s “She’s Madonna”

I have this love/indifferent relationship with Robbie Williams. I like some of his songs, but the rest I don’t really care to listen to, even for just once. His public persona doesn’t help any; I find him too cocky and full of himself. Granted he’s talented, but his outsized ego doesn’t match his achievements. However in his latest album Rudebox he wins me over with two songs, one of which is my Song for the Moment. It features two of my all-time favorite artists: Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys. “She’s Madonna” is co-written and produced by PSB, and their dry wit, atmospheric electronics and nasal vocals are all over it. The lyrics are hilarious: the guy is blowing off his girl for Madonna because “face it, she’s Madonna.”

Here it is, enjoy!

I don’t miss you,
just who
you used to be.
And you don’t ring true,
so please
stop calling me.
Your “I love you”’s
are ten a penny.
You’re dropping clues
like you’ve got any.
You got to choose.
There’s been so many, ohhhh!

I love you baby—
but face it, she’s Madonna.
No man on earth
could say that he don’t want her.
This look of love
says I’m leaving;
you’re frozen now,
I’ve done the freezing.
I’m walking out.
Madonna’s calling me.

She’s got to be
obscene to be believed.
That’s her routine.
Not what she means to me.
I found myself
by circumstance,
across a room,
where people dance—
And quite by chance,
She’d danced right next me.

I love you baby—
but face it, she’s Madonna.
No man on earth
could say that he don’t want her.
It’s me, not you;
I’ve got to move on.
You’re younger too,
but she’s got her groove on.
I’m sorry love,
Madonna’s calling me.

Oh, Madonna, Madonna!

I want to tell you a secret

We’re having drinks
with Kate and Stella.
Gwyneth’s here;
she’s brought her fella.
But all I wanna do
is take Madonna home.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An Early Christmas

I swear, my mom and sister know me very well. While I insisted that I didn’t want any pasalubong from them (in my mind I was saying, “Just surprise me!”) from their U.S. trip, they went ahead and bought anyway.

They bought me a pair of casual shoes from Rockport, my favorite brand of non-rubber shoes. Not really in the color or style that I normally go for (I prefer a darker color), but I fell in love with them the moment I tried them on. When my bag was stolen a year ago, I also lost my lip balm; imagine to my surprise that they also bought me Carmex (my friends swear this is the best ever). Just last Sunday I rushed to the mall to buy me a pair of short pants for casual occasions (you know, like the khaki types) because I just realized I had no decent pair of casual shorts (no pleats, of course). Today I have three new pairs of shorts, including one that’s designed just a little, uhm, fey.

Cue in sound effects of studio audience: “Ooooooooooooooooh!”

And the best of all: my mom knows how I hate wearing watches. I don’t like the feel or the smell of the band and the back of the watch when I sweat profusely. And I am bothered by the lighter skin color on my wrist. So imagine to my surprise when I received a Timex watch as pasalubong. But it wasn’t a wristwatch.

Ang cute, ano?

Now I’m almost totally convinced they know about me, hahaha.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Get A Lives

Remember how I raved about the movie Pan’s Labyrinth a few months back? That movie was clearly a favorite to win Best Foreign Film in the 2006 Academy Awards. Yesterday I watched the movie that beat it in that category, and I realized why it won.

The Lives of Others is a movie aptly set in 1984 East Germany, several years before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Back then the communist regime deployed the Stasi, their secret police, to monitor their citizens. The movie focuses on one Stasi agent, Wiesler (played with pitch-perfect stoicism by the late Ulrich Mühe) who is tasked to spy on a playwright, Georg Dreyman, and his lover Christa-Maria Sieland, a prominent stage actress.

In the making of documentary, writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck described what inspired his feature film debut. He recalled an anecdote about Lenin who said that while Beethoven’s “Appassionata” was an astounding miracle of art, he couldn’t bear to listen to it anymore because it made him want to pat people’s heads instead of bashing them mercilessly. Donnersmarck suddenly had this image of a man with headphones spying on his enemies but what he is hearing instead is beautiful music that touches and transforms him.

Pan’s Labyrinth works on several levels, shifting from the real to the fantastical. But I think the more difficult tightrope act was done in The Lives of Others. That director Donnersmarck manages to pull it off with maximum restraint and a discipline worthy of the Stasi is even more remarkable.

The twisty tale that unravels should be savored fully, so I won’t take away from you guys the joy of discovering a complex, multi-layered movie that’s as much a meditation on art and humanity as it is a gripping suspense thriller. Instead, I admonish you: watch this and I’ll pat you in the head; fail to watch and I’ll smash your head in.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Portrait of the McVie as an Artist in (Tanghalang) Pilipino

It was during my first job, a staff assistant for Nonon Padilla in CCP. One afternoon he approached me and said, “Joel, didn’t you do theater in school?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Maybe you want be in my play.” It ended in a period, not a question mark. How could I say no? Nonon continued, “The role is Bititoy.” The name sounded supporting and minor. Perfect! I’ve never performed on a CCP stage before, and I wanted my first role to be as inconspicuous and easy as possible.

* * * * *

It was around late-1989. I’ve been working in CCP for a little more than a year. At 23, I could still pass for a 17-year onstage. I knew that Nonon’s play, “Larawan ng Pilipino Bilang Artist(a)” was a spoof on Nick Joaquin’s “Portrait of an Artist as Filipino” and, like the original, had a huge cast. My character was Bititoy, Bitoy Camacho’s son. In the original Bitoy Camacho was the narrator; in the spoof he’s an invalid and relegated to a supporting role. How difficult can the role of the son of a minor character get?

The play had a powerhouse cast. Real-life sisters Arnida Siguion-Reyna and Irma Potenciano played sisters Paula and Candida. Theater stalwarts Mario O’Hara, Ricky Davao, Pio de Castro, Bon Vibar, Sherry Lara, Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Gigi Dueñas and Lou Veloso were in the cast, as well as relative newcomers Jackielou Blanco (appearing onstage in a cameo role) and Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, fresh from studying abroad (aside from appearing onstage with his mom and aunt for the first time, he was playing Ricky’s brother and Jackielou’s husband—got that?).

Because I was a newbie to the bigger world of the professional theater, I had no idea who I was rubbing elbows with. It never occurred to me that Gigi was the Gigi Dueñas who made waves as supporting actress in “Himala”. I had no idea that Carlitos would go on to direct his first full-length commercial film feature for Regal Films several years later. I was star-struck with Ricky and Jackielou; but one time when they offered me a ride home they made me feel at ease with their unassuming ways. And dig this: another fellow cast member who played my kabarkada was a very young and very buff Kim Atienza. I admit I had a secret crush on him then. He was so friendly and charming to everyone; having a well-built body didn’t hurt either.

My sharpest memories include: Gigi Dueñas praising me in front of the whole cast during a company call; Armida slapping me onstage—it was never rehearsed—and when the stage manager asked her why she changed her block, she replied, “Because I felt like it”; me leading Kim and the rest of my barkada in singing “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” a capella; seeing Pilita Corales and her famous sexy legs backstage (she congratulated Jackielou and Ricky after a performance); and Herbert Bautista personally shaking my hand and congratulating me on opening night. Days afterwards, I found out from our stage manager that Herbert was Nonon’s first choice to play Bititoy, but unfortunately the Regal star was too busy with his then newfound career as a public official. Me, filling in for Bistek himself?! I’m not worthy, I thought. Years later, that thought would echo across time in a most unexpected occasion.

* * * * *

Paul Dumol is best known as the playwright who wrote the classic “Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio” back when he was still a student in the Ateneo. (I remember the late Rolando Tinio backstage at the CCP Little Theater dismissing Dumol as “half a playwright these days” because Paul chose to concentrate on writing historical plays that, according to the late National Artist for Theater, was “more history than play”.) As a director, Paul was the hands-off kind; he’d just block his actors then left us alone to find our characters. He’d give suggestions occasionally, but most of the time he left the acting job to us.

Our production designer was the late National Artist for Architecture, Leandro Locsin. He was the one who designed the CCP lang naman. Our set is almost the exact replica of the living room of his house—complete with baby grand, luxurious furniture and towering French windows that opened to a verdant garden, with matching fountain to boot.

* * * * *

When I said yes to Nonon’s invite, I had not read the script. Going through it a few days later, I noticed my character was in a lot of scenes, but had only few speaking lines. “Good! I don’t need to memorize much,” I thought. Then I got to the end. The closing monologue was one-and-a-half pages long, to be delivered by—you guessed it. Oh crap.

All in all, the monologue as performed was about 7 minutes long. In the last scene, the whole cast would freeze in a tableau onstage. Then a transformation occurred: the lights dimmed as the French windows slowly opened and slid to the side, allowing the garden to “creep” magically into the living room. The ceiling disappeared; then stars began to glow one by one until a dazzling night sky covered the entire set.

People in the audience told me the set transformation was fantastic. My stage manager told me it was fantastic. Even my fellow cast members who could surreptitiously turn around to peer at the set told me it was fantastic.

I never got to see how fantastic it was. My block the whole time was facing the audience. Worse, I’d begin my monologue with the audience looking at me; somewhere in the middle I’d see their eyes one by one stray away from me to focus somewhere behind my back. Then their facial expressions would change, widening in awe and delight. It didn’t help delivering my monologue any easier. Good thing we rehearsed the last scene so extensively (the timing of the transformation was crucial) I never stumbled or forgot my lines onstage.

I mean, how can I compete with the work of a National Artist? His set literally upstaged me.

* * * * *

Cut to several years later.

I was already in advertising. During a brainstorming session with Nonoy Gallardo, accomplished OPM composer, husband to the Celeste Legaspi, and executive creative director of our agency, I mentioned to him that I was in the cast of “Lawaran”.

Ah talaga? Sino ka doon?” Nonoy asked.

“I played Bititoy.”

His eyes widened. “Ha?! Ikaw pala yun? Yung may monologue sa dulo?

“Yes,” I proudly answered. My gosh, he remembered my performance!

A beat.

Ang laos mo doon!” Nonoy blurted. Then he laughed and shook his head.

Ka-blag.

* * * * *

To this day I’ve never attempted to perform at the CCP again.


* * * * *

A reunion of sorts: Mario O’Hara, me and Ricky Davao during the presscon for “Insiang” (photo courtesy of Gibbs Cadiz)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ay Sus Lagot!

The following is an actual exchange between me and a stranger in Connexion. (For those who claim that they don’t know—mga ipokrita! choz—Connexion is a gay online network.)

Name Withheld For Obvious Reasons: ur hot!! ASL PLS
Me: A = it's in my profile; S = uhm...; L = I work in Makati, I live in Marikina
Name Withheld For Obvious Reasons: ok!! sorry...

Ang Shoshonga-shonga, Laos!

Inday Will Always Text You

Someone puh-leez give Inday a job at a call center, preferably the graveyard shift. So she can put her English to good use and we can all take a break from people incessantly quoting her thru SMS. And nobody come bawling to me, “Leave Inday alone!” Inday is no Britney.

Times like these I’m intimate with the “delete” button.

Why I Went To CB Last Night

Last night after getting off the elevator and trudging alone in the carpark, two malevolent spirits seized me and refused to let go. They were Loneliness and Boredom. So I decided to treat myself to something special for dinner—Hungarian sausage sandwich at Earle’s Deli.

Then it occurred to me that I was having dinner alone. So while waiting for my sandwich, I SMS’ed a friend: “Pssst! What are you doing now?”

His reply: “Jacking off. Why?”

Me: “Good thing you were still able to text, seeing how busy your hands are.”

Him: “Multi-tasking.”

So I texted another friend; his blog has not been updated for a couple of months now, ever since he got a boyfriend. While I was teasing him about it I thought, “This is what lonely and bored singles do—blog.”
.
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Of course that’s a hasty generalization!

We lonely and bored singles blog and bug other people thru text. And stuff our mouths with huge, thick and juicy Hungarian sausage for dinner. And then visit the bathhouse to scratch our itch. (In fairness, my itch got a fairly thorough scratching last night.)

We want what we don’t have. And when we have, we don’t want. Florence Nightingale said, “Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”

I wonder how one can be contented with discontent.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Insiang Restaged

Insiang is one of those classic Filipino films that I always hear mentioned but I never got to see it until around 3 years ago. It was directed by Lino Brocka, written by Lamberto Antonio and Mario O’Hara, and starred a luminous Hilda Koronel, an intense Mona Lisa, and a cruel Ruel Vernal. After watching it I thought, “Dated movie. But I can see why it made quite an impact in Cannes in the mid-70s.” The story of Insiang, her mother and her mother’s much-younger boyfriend is a bleak story set in poverty; it is also a demanding movie for the three primary actors, since the movie is focused on them.

No wonder it was made into a stage play. In 2003 Tanghalang Pilipino’s Insiang debuted onstage and went on to win Best Play, Stage Actor, Stage Actress and Director as well as a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for that year’s Aliw Awards. I did not get to see it back then, but I can imagine the play to be catnip to any serious stage actor.

Now Tanghalang Pilipino brings back Insiang onstage, with most of the original leads reprising their roles and Chris Millado directing it again.

Tanghalang Pilipino, in cooperation with Bright Eyed Boys Events&Ideas, Inc. presents

INSIANG

Directed by Chris Millado
Written by Mario O’Hara
Production design by Hesus “Bobot” Lota
Lighting design by Joey Nombres

3 pm on October 6, 7, 13, 14, 2007
8 pm on October 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 2007
at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater)

* * * * *


Tanghalang Pilipino, in an unprecedented move for a theater company, held a “quad-media conference” to promote Insiang. TP wanted to go beyond television-radio-print triumvirate and tap the reach of the Internet. To be technical about it, the press con wasn’t quad-media because of the absence of TV and radio coverage, but hey. A roomful of bloggers makes for a slightly unusual presscon; three Macbooks (with iSight) were stationed throughout the room so that bloggers could take photos or videos and immediately post on their sites. When the floor was open for questions, it was generally greeted with hesitant silence. But when the cast and crew mingled with the bloggers, that’s when they loosened up.

* * * * *

Nowadays movies and plays that depict the gritty and ugly side of Philippine poverty rarely get a rise from me anymore. It’s not that I’ve become snobbishly rich (oh how I freakin’ wish). It’s just that after seeing one too many of those, I now think, “Jeez, is there anything else we can talk about besides the overwhelming poverty that threatens a huge number of Filipinos in urban areas, whose plight no president has ever managed to solve all these years?” It’s also the same with Pinoy gay films of recent years; filmmakers seem to consign that sub-genre to mean “movies about destitute macho dancers with death in the end.” Ang lungkot!

But I’m going to be watching this incarnation of Insiang for three personal reasons:

[1] Insiang is an acting showcase, and the play has great actors. Ricky Davao, Sheenly Vee Gener and Mae Paner reprise their roles; all three were nominated in the 2003 Aliw Awards, with Ricky eventually bagging the best actor award. They are joined by Mailes Kanapi, Peewee O’Hara, Pablo O’Hara, McDonnel Bolaños, Roeder Camañag, Paolo Rodriguez, Vanni Liwanag, Jun Bueta, Acey Aguilar. During the presscon the cast presented a couple of scenes, highlighted by a portion of Mae’s blistering opening monologue. It is raw, powerful, painful yet funny to watch. I worked with Mae before, when she was the assistant director in several of our TV commercials. She also took me under her wing when I wanted to learn AD work. Aside from multi-talented, she’s one of the nicest people to work with.

[2] This is a Tanghalang Pilipino production. I’ve never left a TP production disappointed; sure I may nitpick here and there, but on the whole the CCP’s resident theater company has consistently come up with some of the best produced plays every year. Aside from the actors, I’m excited to see Insiang’s technicals. The set looks promising, surrounding the audience with the squalor of the slums. There’s even a special arena seating section where the audience will literally be in the midst of the action; director Chris Millado fondly calls it the “talsik-laway” section.

[3] Mario O’Hara wrote the screenplay and adapted it to the stage. I have tremendous respect for Mario as an actor, director and writer. I personally worked with him (and with Ricky) back in 2000(?) in Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Larawan Ng Pilipino Bilang Artist(a)” by Nonon Padilla, directed by Paul Dumol. He was an amazing example of a truly talented, professional and unassuming actor. He’d arrive wearing his usual white t-shirt, shorts and sandals, with his bag slung over his shoulder. He’d stay in a corner studying his lines, but he was never standoffish. He was very generous with his co-actors. During performances he’d command the whole stage, overwhelming almost everyone with his voice and presence; but offstage he never drew attention to himself. He’s been away from the stage and screen for some time now, so people have conveniently labeled him a recluse. But we were honored when he showed up during the presscon. I couldn’t resist asking Gibbs to take a picture of us—a reunion of sorts.

* * * * *

Tanghalang Pilipino, in cooperation with Bright Eyed Boys Events&Ideas, Inc. presents

INSIANG

Directed by Chris Millado
Written by Mario O’Hara
Production design by Hesus “Bobot” Lota
Lighting design by Joey Nombres

3 pm on October 6, 7, 13, 14, 2007
8 pm on October 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 2007
at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater)

Php700 premium ringside seats / Php500 orchestra and balcony free seating
For tickets, call:
Tanghalang Pilipino 832-3661
Bright Eyed Boys Events and Ideas 521-0412
Ticketworld 891-9999
CCP Box Office 832-3704

PARENTAL DISCRETION ADVISED. May be inappropriate for 13 and under. Insiang is recommended for mature audiences–for strong language, brief nudity, and adult themes. Children under the age of 4 are not permitted in the theatre.

ARENA SEATING. On each performance, a limited number of seats are available which offer an exciting and unique way to experience the performance with the action of the show taking place all around the viewer. Audiences who wish to be seated in the arena are advised to come forty-five (45) minutes prior to the performance time and indicate their preference to the ushers.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hair’s The Buzz

Disbelief was my initial reaction when my friend told me there was a guy in G4M advertising his pubic hair trimming and shaving service.

Here’s your lower jaw, I picked it up off the floor. You’re welcome.

I mean, whaddafuck?! Would you actually place your balls into the hands of a guy holding a sharp object?

My friend says the guy is quite old. He is strictly professional and clinical about the whole thing. He even allows customers to bring their own razors for him to use, if the customer is averse to the idea of their privates touched by a razor that shaved other guys’ pubes. (Hahaha! I’m sure these same guys wouldn’t mind having their privates come in contact with a tongue or lips that have touched other guys’ privates, but a razor that’s been cleaned and sterilized? Noooo siree.)

I wonder: does he offer just one kind of trimming, or are there others? Like a gupit-binata? One-by-one? Semi-kal? Or for a more 80s feel, the tsunami? Now that would be such a conversation piece in gym showers and bathhouses.

I also wonder if he does extra service. That will put the “sex” in “sexagenarian.” He should advertise his services as “Snip & Fuck: Strictly Geriatric Sex.”

Was he a closeted barber before? For all we know he’s actually straight. Why should a straight guy mind touching another guy’s dick and balls just to earn a living? Callboys do it all the time.

Right now I suspect he has a monopoly of the marketplace. But he better be careful. One day some aging hairdresser will decide to invade that market and offer other services like highlights, rebonding, braiding, perm, hot-oil treatment and blow-drying. (Must. Resist. Obvious. Pun. Here.) Hey, he might even give the Reyes Haircutters a run for their money. Hey, maybe even Manay Ricky himself can go into that business. I can see them now, massive billboards one after the other along EDSA; that campaign will be pubicquitous. It will feature a fabulous hair shot with the tagline: “Ang ganda ng bulbol mo!”

Ganda!

Commercial Break

Because he’s a genuinely nice bloke, I’m helping Rick Manzano spread the word. (Call me HIV+, for His Instant Viral.)

* * * * *


WeeWillDoodle will be having an exhibit at Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street, on Sept. 21, Friday.

This will be the group’s largest event so far. The WeeWillDoodle artworks will be exhibited on 10 Moleskines. On opening night there will be a live doodling session, and goodie bags (limited) from the WeeWillDoodle artists will also be given away. Plus there’s an activity called "doodleyershirt"; just register at ProjectManila.com and don’t forget to bring your own shirt.

And The Universe Is Telling Me

In Facebook today, the stars say:

Daily Horoscope: Pisces Joel,
If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it is yours. There are some things you just cannot change, no matter how hard you try. It is time to admit this to yourself and move on.

And the cards say:

Tarot: The Hanged Man
The Hanged Man is the most enigmatic card of the Tarot. Even Tarot giants like Waite, Crowley and Levi had trouble deciphering The Hanged Man’s true meaning. Generally, The Hanged Man is thought to represent the value of surrender and selfless acts. The Hanged Man embodies the notion that sometimes to lose is to win. Unlike the aggressive Chariot, The Hanged Man creates his fate through inaction and accepts his fortune passively, without resistance. He does not struggle to control the path his life takes, but rather allows events to sweep him where they will, even if he is called upon to sacrifice himself. He is so at ease with the Fate the Universe chose for him that even hanging upside down from a tree does not ruffle him.

And I am telling you: I’m ___(?)____. Yang Facebook talaga, o!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Meta Moment

After posting my previous episode (“Caught Between The Scylla and Charybdis”) I realized that two previous back-to-back entries featured a picture with diamond-shaped sign in it (see below).
Wala lang.

Caught Between The Scylla and Charybdis

It was 4:30 on a Thursday afternoon, crunch time in the office. AEs were on the phone, pinning down agreements before end-day, or breathing down the creatives. On one end of the room and amidst the hectic buzz, one of our AEs yelled out to our department secretary who was on the other end of the room.

AE: Tita Linds, saan ang UAAP game, sa Araneta o sa Cuneta?!

The secretary was on the phone arguing with a supplier, so she replied with her voice raised.

Secretary: Sandali lang, ha! Meron akong kausap!

The AE was talking to her client on her cellphone, so she didn’t hear our secretary.

AE: (in a louder, more urgent voice) Tita Linds, saan ang UAAP game, sa Araneta o sa Cuneta?!

Secretary: Ano, UAAP? Teka lang, ha!

AE: Tita Linds, saan ba? Araneta o Cuneta?!

Secretary: Ano?!

AE: Araneta o Cuneta?!

Secretary: Teka nga…!

I could feel the beginnings of a headache. The whole office was caught in the middle of this shouting match. Everyone was just waiting for someone to burst out.

AE: Araneta o Cuneta?!

Secretary: Ha?!

AE: Araneta o Cuneta?!

Me: Puñeta!

And the whole office burst out laughing. Lesson? A rhyme in time can be sublime.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Sue The Sign

Dear makulit na AE:

(I swear, they have the cutest signs at Tickles, hahaha!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Queue Up For Avenue Q

Often I hesitate listening to soundtracks of stage musicals before I get to watch the production. My reason is simple: I’m hearing those songs out of context. Only when I know I don’t stand a chance of seeing such productions do I grudgingly listen to them—and only after someone gives me a very thorough backgrounder on the musical.

Thank goodness I resisted listening to Avenue Q before watching it last Saturday.

* * * * *

For me, Avenue Q’s main attraction and strength is its libretto and book. The production design is simple and the puppets are Sesame Street-simple; nothing visually gasp-inducing happens (unlike, say a helicopter landing onstage, or a chandelier crashing down on the audience).

With such “simple” settings, the real magic of this musical rests on the shoulders of its cast. They are divided in two: those who perform as human characters, and those who perform with puppets.

Rycharde Everley gives a solid performance as Brian, the jobless bum on Avenue Q. Frenchie Dy had a great singing voice and gives her all as Christmas Eve, the Korean girlfriend of Brian. For a stage musical virgin, she acquits herself excellently. Yes, there were times when I felt her performance was stiff in contrast with her co-actors onstage, and at times her faux-Korean-American accent got in the way. But just give her time, and I can see that she can do quite well in stage musicals.

Aiza Seguerra’s case is a lot more interesting. She plays Gary Coleman, a real-life actor who appeared in “Diff’rent Strokes”, a very popular sitcom back in the 80s. Aiza was a stroke of casting genius: she can sing and act, and just like Gary Coleman, her career as an actress has already waned. (In fact, if it weren’t for her reinvention as a singer, one could say that Aiza, like Gary, was already a has-been.) But the challenge in playing a real-life person is that there may be members of the audience who are familiar with the real Gary Coleman. I’m one of those old enough to remember his catch-phrase: “What’chu talkin’ about, Willis?!” Thus the challenge is greater for the actor to keep the audience convinced that she is Gary Coleman. To her credit Aiza gives her best to the role; it’s just that every slight stumble with her African-American accent makes me see “Pagdating Ng Panahon” on stage. Maybe it’s me, not her.

Unlike in Sesame Street wherein the puppeteers are hidden from view, the puppeteers in Avenue Q are in full view of the audience. This is akin to Japan’s puppet theater, bunraku, wherein the puppeteers are onstage with the puppets. But the puppeteers’ exceptional skills in making the puppets “come alive” onstage eventually renders them “invisible” to the audience because all eyes are on the puppets instead of them.

Felix Rivera (Princeton/Rod), Rachel Alejandro (Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut), and Joel Trinidad (Nicky/Trekkie Monster; and ably assisted by Teenee Chan) are more engaging actors than puppeteers. To be fair to them, it takes years to create a Jim Henson or a Frank Oz; they only had about a month to get their puppetry skills down pat. For most part they do very well. But after a while I was watching the actors more than the puppets they were holding up. Felix and Joel in particular were acting with their whole bodies; they were more engaging to watch. Their vocal skills, along with Rachel, were in great form as they switched from one character to the next, sometimes playing two characters at the same time in a scene.

* * * * *

Avenue Q is Sesame Street after college: lessons are learned, albeit in a more realistic, tempered way. In simple Sesame Street, the lesson is, “Racism is bad”; in Avenue Q, “Everyone’s a little racist; if we acknowledge that, maybe we can get along better.”

In the hands of the exceptional ensemble, Avenue Q’s songs engage, entertain and pack an emotional punch. More than just moving, the songs also instruct. Now that’s a tall feat. Thanks to the talented cast and creative staff (headed by co-directors Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga), this latest from Atlantis Production graduates with high honors.

If there’s one must-watch musical for you,
then you won’t go wrong with Avenue Q.
Queue up before it ends on cue.


Atlantis Production presents Avenue Q

September 7 - 23, 2007
• Fridays (8pm)
• Saturdays (2pm and 8pm)
• Sundays (3pm)

Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium
RCBC Plaza
Buendia Ave. cor Ayala Ave., Makati City

Call Ticketworld or Atlantis Productions at 892-7078 from Mondays to Fridays, 9am-5pm.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Elevate(or) Your Mind / Greetings

Scene in the elevator this morning: There were four other people inside besides me. Two guys, two girls, obviously all officemates.

Guy 1(to the other guy): Pare, kung may anak kang lalake, ano’ng mas gugustuhin mo sa kanya: maging adik o maging bakla?

Guy 2 (laughs): Anong klaseng tanong naman yan?

Girl 1: Ay, mas gugustuhin kong maging bakla.

Girl 2: Ako rin, mas mabuti kung bakla na lang siya.

Guy 2: At least ang adik, nare-reform.

And as they laugh at his statement, the door opened and they stepped off. Saved by the elevator.

Thinking about it afterwards, I had a couple of conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, it’s good that he believes homosexuality cannot be reformed. But on the other hand, his statement sounds like he’d rather that his gay child be reformed.

Interestingly, the girls found it easier to wrap their minds around the idea that their son is gay. It’s the guys who had problems with it.

* * * * *

Today is the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York. Today also happens to be the birthday of Migs, the Manila Gay Guy. Those of us who are privileged to know the real Migs are fortunate to experience firsthand the generosity and open-mindedness of Migs. You really believe that he genuinely seeks the best for everyone.

So in the spirit of 9-11 and Migs’ birthday, I say: Happy birthday Migs, and world peace!

Friday, September 07, 2007

These Reboots Are Gonna Walk All Over You

The most maligned member of our staff is our IT personnel. She has to service both PC and Mac users, and Lord knows she is woefully inadequate when it comes to Apple products. It doesn’t help that she’s alone in her division. And whenever you ask her for help, the first thing that comes out of her mouth is: “Reboot your computer.”

“I can’t access my email!”
“Ah, just reboot your computer.”

“Why can’t I connect to the office wi-fi?”
“Reboot your computer.”

“My computer keeps hanging when I turn it on!”
“Reboot mo lang yan.”
Eh nagha-hang nga eh!

Many of our creatives already want to reboot her. In her butt.

But wouldn’t it be great if all of our problems can be solved by just a simple act of rebooting your life? Tired of your day-to-day work? Reboot your job. Got turned down by the one you’re courting? Reboot your courtship techniques. Still single at 41? Reboot your love life!

But what if your entire life needs rebooting? That’s too major a task; your hard drive might hang or worse, crash.

When rebooting is not enough, that’s when you re-bootleg your life. Create a second you, create a second life. And maybe that’s the appeal of Second Life—an online site where you can create an alternate you.

Would you reboot your life? Or re-bootleg it?

(If you choose Second Life, just make sure you have better IT service than we do. Or else you’ll be rebooting ad nauseam.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

All Facebooked Out

Okay, okay, I don’t want to be a killjoy. After all, I know how people can fixate over a new toy or gadget or game. Or (groan! from me) all these applications on Facebook. Or (groan! from you) a new song by Rihanna entitled “Please Don’t Stop The Music”.

So let’s agree. I’m not going to shove Miss Umbrella-ella-ella-ella down your ears if you don’t take it against me if I don’t accept each and every invitation to the different applications. Deal? Or no deal?

You have no choice. Deal. With it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Of Footwear and Footwork

When Carrie Bradshaw gets the blahs, she nicks Blahniks. When I get depressed, I slip into my Braziliano Praias!

Yezzz, they’re super comfy! And yezzz, I got them the same time Migs got his. Thank you, thank you for generous friends. :-)

When it comes to my choice of footwear, comfort trumps style all the time. But these Praias merge comfort and great looks. And the model is perfect for me: they’re called “Beatles” which is my all-time favorite band. For more info on Braziliano Praias, click here.

Meanwhile, my Praias are perfect to wear when I’m dancing to my Bitchin’ Song For The Moment: Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop The Music”. It features several irresistible hooks: a most infectious thumpin’ beat, a bitchin’ sample of Micahel Jackson’s “Wanna Be Starting Something” and an unstoppable call to escape:

“I wanna take you away.
Let’s escape into the music,
DJ let it play!
I just can’t refuse it,
Like the way you do this,
Keep on rockin’ to it—
Please don’t stop the music!”


Let’s dance!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What’s That Sound?

Last night I found out that a guy I was interested in for quite some time now is interested in someone else.

Oh.


















splat!

That’s the sound of my heart getting splattered all over the sidewalk.

Oh well. What else is new? I haven’t even begun and it’s over. Just like that.

Sigh. This has happened so many times I’ve stopped counting.

Pick my heart off the pavement, dust it off a bit, feel around for any major injuries, then consider whether putting it right back on my sleeves or just hiding it from view for a while.