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, March 26, 2010

The McVie Show On Prime Time

I believe this is the very first time that a book review had such an impact on me. The review by Lisa Schwarzbaum is found in the March 19 issue of Entertainment Weekly, and it is for the book The Solitude Of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. It’s the story of two people whose “lives intersect at various points in the course of this quiet heartbreaker, and each recognizes a kindred alienation in the other.”

What got me was the following paragraph in the EW review:

But in truth, Alice and Mattia are only alike insofar as how strange and singular they are. They’re twin primes, if you want to get fancy. Primes, Giordano writes, are “suspicious and solitary numbers,” divisible only by one and by themselves. Twin primes “are close to each other, almost neighbors, but between them there is always an even number that prevents them from truly touching.”

And I remember the heartbreaking Oscar-nominated film, The Remains Of The Day, wherein the characters played by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson know that they are attracted to one another and yet never they do not end up together. Even years later, when they meet again, the most heart wrenching sight was their fingers slipping off one another as the bus pulled away, separating the two forever.

I’ve been single since birth, not by choice. At first I fell only for straight guys. After I grew out of that, most guys I was interested in were either taken or were not interested in me. It happened once too often, so much so that when a guy showed interest in me, I’d give him a chance. Why? Well, I was always in their shoes and I wished the guys whom I was interested in would give me a chance. But a sad truth I learned was this: the more one-sided the interest, the more patience is needed. And even then patience is not a guarantee of success.

More and more I’m beginning to accept the fact that I’m at my prime. And maybe I should just stop resisting and accept it fully.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Many Want Manny

So I attended my very first dinner hosted for the pambansang kamao (national fist), Manny Pacquiao. Since I much rather keep work-related stuff out of The McVie Show, I will not talk about how the guest of honor was almost two hours late (we had to make do with roasted peanuts), but instead talk about an unfortunate side-effect of all this adulation for the Pacman.

I’m talking about the feeling-entitled hangers-on, especially the ones whose skins are as thick as thieves.

First there are those who manage to become part of the official entourage. It’s not as if MP can’t take care of himself, but does he need that many people around him all the time? To do what—guard him? The man has fists that can kill or so serious damage—and he needs protecting? One of the hangers-on is even fondly called the pambansang anino (national shadow) because of the way he seems to be behind MP in almost everywhere, including on the ring.

And then there are the gatecrashers. One lady managed to enter the restaurant (which is supposedly closed to the public) and plant herself at a sofa near the reception. While waiting she was on the phone, and we overheard her say (in the vernacular), “Yes, I found a great spot.” When MP entered the place, she clicked away with her phone camera. Then a guy in a yellow shirt joined her, and without batting an eyelash, headed straight to one of the tables and planted themselves in the reserved seats—blatantly ignoring the name cards on the plates (which obviously did not bear their names). And when we asked them to vacate the seats, they had the temerity to refuse to stand up. What. A. Bunch. Of. A-holes. No wait, let me change that: What. A. Bunch. Of. Retards.

Eventually we were able to eject them from the seats because the assigned guests eventually arrived. (On a side note: guests arriving even later than a two-hour-late guest of honor actually deserve to have their seats given to someone else.) But thick-skinned leeches that they were, they insisted on staying on, trying to look for other empty seats that they can take over. They said they were from the party list of MP; we insisted they weren’t in the official list of guests for our dinner party. They insisted on staying, and even had the gall to talk to some of the guests who also knew them, in an attempt to stay inside the venue. In the end they weren’t served food.

Worst is when the feeling-entitled hangers-on drag in their own gatecrashing guests, insisting that they’re “with them” and that MP’s okay to have them around. Excuse me?! This isn’t MP’s party, heller!

I swear, if I become a celebrity as huge as MP is, I will insist that, with the exception of my immediate family, no relative or friend can just come in uninvited and unannounced to a function in which I am the guest of honor. (And if it’s a member of my immediate family, I’d tell them off first before letting them in.) I will even give my hosts permission to boot them out. I don’t care if they “came all the way from the province” to see me, or that they “wanted to surprise” me. I hate surprises of that kind; if they like surprises, then let them be surprised that I’m having them ejected from the venue. Surprise! And if they plead that they’ve not had dinner yet, they can just troop to the nearest McDonald’s or Jollibee. I’m pretty sure I don’t have relatives or friends who are dirt-poor.

No wonder there are times when you’d see MP actually zone out in these kinds of events. It’s a traveling circus that surrounds him, and unfortunately all these jesters want to be on the ringside with him—which makes him look like the top clown.

* * * * *

After an hour of letting clients and VIPs get close to MP for autographs and taking pictures with him, our big boss said it was our turn to have our stuff signed. My officemates brought gloves, posters, and DVDs of MP’s past fights; one even brought brand new pairs of four different Nike MP editions (one pair each) for him to sign. They looked at me and asked, “Aren’t you having something signed by him?” I couldn’t contain the contrarian in me; I just rolled my eyes and said, “Ewww.”

The Letter Fabcast, Part One

Okay, so suicide isn’t exactly a topic to be taken lightly, and rightly so. But something about the tone in which the letter was written made us feel that the letter-sender really has a good head on his shoulder—it just needed to have some sense knocked into it. And what better way than to have the Fabcasters and the peanut gallery go through the letter and speak their minds out? If we seemingly had too much fun, it’s not because we’re laughing at the letter-sender, but laughing with him and telling him, “Why so serious?”

Download this fabcast (right click and save - 25 MB)

Music credits:
"Pressure" by Billy Joel
"Read Em And Weep" by Barry Manilow
"Your Song (instrumental)" by Craig Armstrong
"Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart" by Alicia Keys

Puppet Masters

“We’re just puppets in a play.” – The Cascades, Punch And Judy Show

Last week was the second time I had watched Avenue Q; the first time was during its first run. Not much difference really; except for a change in one cast member, the whole production is almost the same, including the venue.

The primary conceit of the play Avenue Q is that the production looks and sounds like a children’s show (specifically Sesame Street), but the lessons are quite adult. But just like the TV series from where they take off, the people who populate Avenue Q aren’t a miserable bunch—in fact, they’re always laughing, singing and putting on a happy smile. This, despite the fact that they declare, “It sucks to be me,” acknowledge that, “Everyone’s a little bit racist,” and make fun of other people’s miseries with “Schadenfreude.” Yes, these people and puppets aren’t perfect, nor are they living perfect lives. But they still manage to put on quite a show (including the first ever puppet sex I’ve seen).

When Kate Monster spits out, “But I don’t want a friend, I already have enough friends!” before singing, “There’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time,” I felt that her character was more human than most characters you see in telenovelas and rom-coms. (Oo na, relate-na-relate ako sa linya niya, hahaha!) Kate is a puppet voiced and operated by Rachel Alejandro, but while at first your eyes are looking at her, as the play progresses your eyes become used to and are riveted by the puppet itself.

The play presents realistic life lessons in a very unreal way (puppets, seemingly perennially cheerful humans). And yet it all works. For a play that extols the virtues of the Internet as a source of porn, encourages people to make noise while having sex, and champions the fact that it’s okay to be gay, Avenue Q surprisingly (or not surprisingly) has eluded heavy-handed lesson-teaching. As they say, a spoonful of sugar makes the bitter pill go down easy.

I especially love the last song, “For Now.” In one succinct and melodic number, the play reminds us that nothing is permanent, that there is no such thing as forever. Whether good or bad, everything has an end. If it’s a good thing, enjoy it while it lasts. If it’s a bad thing, endure it for it won’t last long. Whatever you do just grin and enjoy/bear it, because it is only for now.

Avenue Q has mature themes and lessons that portray a realistic, adult view of the world; despite that, it deftly avoids pessimism and cynicism. Adulthood need not be a descent into jadedness. The puppets and the people in your neighborhood that is Avenue Q remind us that a healthy sense of humor—and having someone’s hand shoved up from under you—will help you keep you inner child with you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Foreword As Foreplay

“This is a collection of blog entries featuring my bathhouses experiences. I blogged about them because the incidents had funny, memorable or out-of-the-ordinary moments that lifted them above the usual hot-steamy-sex-then-forget-about-him-and-go-home experiences one has in such places.

So why this book? This collection has a lot of sex in it, and I think sex should have a lot more humor in it. Or rather, people should have a more relaxed view of sex. Sex can be as sacred or as sleazy as one wants it to be. Let us not put it on a pedestal, nor hide it inside our closets. Let us celebrate. Let us have safe fun. And what’s safer than reading about sex?”

The abovementioned paragraphs are excerpts from the foreword I wrote for a book project I have with Grey Matter Publishing. It’s a compilation of all of my bathhouse episodes from The McVie Show, from the first season to the latest. It is currently being edited by no less than the Raymond Lee, celebrated screenwriter and author.

The bathhouse book is just one of several that Grey Matter will publish as their opening salvo into the fray that is the publishing world. Another is a book by Chronicles of E, and a third is a collection of letters sent to Migs, the Manila Gay Guy. Excited much? But wait, there’s more! They are also coming out with a fourth book project, a compilation of stories about first-time sexperiences of guys with other guys.

So I just wanted to whet your appetite for things to come. I hope you all support not just my book but the other books as well from Grey Matter. Let us all support pink printing!

Wistful Thinking

One look into your eyes, and there are so many things I want to say, questions I want to ask, stories I want to tell, and secrets I want to reveal. Yet I keep my tongue firmly in cheek and later, my SMSes safe, easy to ignore, quick to flee your consciousness, and light enough to escape the clutches of your memory.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Despedida Fabcast, Part Two

Now we hear the members of the peanut gallery talk about their Migs experience. It may seem like navel-gazing and indulgent to talk about Migs, but really, it’s great to stop once in a while and tell people what they mean to you.

Download this fabcast (right click and save)

First Time

Do you remember your first time, that moment when you crossed the line from virgin to experienced? The rush, the thrill, the fear and the confusion—do you still recall?

There’s something about stories of sexual firsts, the excitement and anxiety of discovery. It’s the uncovering of one’s self, both physical and emotional, that lies at the heart of these stories. Like Pandora’s Box unleashed, innocence can never be reclaimed.

Relive your first time. Write it down. And submit it. And let others recall what it was like when dim ignorance was pierced with sexual delight.

(Click to enlarge photo, just like stroke to enlarge.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Clouds In My Coffee

“I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.” – Carly Simon

* * * * *

I thought I could learn to love you. But it seems that there should be some amount of attraction from the both of us, and not just one-way.

* * * * *

Hands touch, eyes connected, lips parted then sealed together in a kiss. And yet, the attraction was one-sided.

Then again, people can and do contradict themselves.

* * * * *

What does one do when someone you like but doesn’t like you back that way, hooks up with another someone whom you like but also doesn’t like you back that way? Why, encourage the union further, what else? It’s self-punishment disguised as emotional masochism.

* * * * *

You could have been my trophy boy friend, but the attraction seems one-sided. I just wanted coffee, you just wanted to—well, to be fair, I have no idea what you wanted. But I know I want you.

* * * * *

You’re so vain, you probably think this episode’s about you.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Despedida Fabcast, Part One

This Fabcast is long overdue.

We recorded this a few days after the Beginnings Fabcasters’ Party. At that time Tony was out of town and AJ wasn’t available, so you won’t hear their voices here.

Here in part one, you will hear what the Fabcasters have to say regarding Migs, aka MGG.

Download this episode (right click and save - 16 MB)

In part two, you will hear the voices in the peanut gallery, and what they have to say.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pandora Opened

And now I know (nope, rudeboy, it’s not Gwyneth’s head). Thank you, T! Whee, happy birthday to me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

On The Eve Of

I wonder what my wonderful housemate got for me. =)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nosebleed Casting

Jimmy Kimmel’s no Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian or David Letterman when it comes to ratings, but the way he gets all these celebrities to guest in his show is amazing! Just watch this:

Now excuse me, I have to mop my blood off the floor.

An Invitation To Party

Uber-photographer Ian Felix Alquiros is celebrating his birthday, and he’s celebrating it in uber-style! He’s bringing 15 of his favorite models for a ramp show. The show will be at 1am, so make sure you go there before that time—and bring lots of tissues. And who knows? You may yet to meet-and-greet some of the models too.

His invite is for one and all, so see you all in Bed this Friday, March 12. Yup, I will be there too. You see, Ian and I share the same birthday (along with direk Laurenti Dyogi), but unlike him, I can’t celebrate it in style. So makiki-birthday bash na lang ako, ahahaha! (Gosh, didn’t that make me sound so cheap or what?!) =)

For more info, click here.

And Ian’s video invite:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Your Entrance Is Covered

I applaud Queeriosity for including a condom when you pay the entrance fee. Other bathhouses offer condoms and lube for sale, but Q goes one step further. By receiving a condom along with the key to their locker, clients are immediately reminded to play safe. It doesn’t guarantee that the client will use it, but at least giving them one makes using it more convenient, versus asking them to buy one. In the fight against HIV, going in-your-face is sometimes necessary, like our Health Secretary taking on the old fogies of the Church.

“Sa Q, sagot naming ang inyong unang putok!”

Monday, March 08, 2010

Ok Go!

Ok Go became a YouTube sensation thanks to their song “Here It Goes Again” aka The Treadmill Song. Now they’ve upped the ante with the video of their latest song, This Too Shall Pass. They got the group Syyn Labs to construct a huge, elaborate Rube Goldberg machine for the video.

The Rube Goldberg machine is nothing new, of course. A Honda TV featuring one that used the parts of the car was one of the earliest viral sensations of the Internet. But the complexity and size of this particular machine is what’s jaw-dropping. Take a look:

For the making of, click on this.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

How Gee!

In any company there’ll be one department that everyone is annoyed or angry at. I noticed that for the past two companies I worked in, it was the IT department (in the early days of the computer, hiring decent IT personnel was a problem). With my current company, it’s the Human Resources or HR Department.

To be fair, our HR personnel came from the mother company to which ours is aligned with—the same family owns them. And the mother company is a more traditional trading company, while we’re a broadcast network. Our HR isn’t used to the peculiarities of production, thus the source of much conflict and misunderstanding.

But sometimes they really make you wonder. Like, for instance, today.

At a little past 4pm the whole building was plunged into darkness. It was the scheduled brownout. People were milling around the exit, wondering out loud if the power outage would take long; most felt that, if it’ll reach 3 hours long, might as well call it a day. You see, our building generators could only provide just enough power to operate the elevators, keep some lights on in the stairway and provide electricity to only a few select offices (mostly upper management and admin).

Past 4:30pm, after consulting with upper management and ascertaining that the brownout was indeed 3 hours long, HR announced that people could now go home.

The catch? They sent the announcement via email.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Letting Go

Last night for the first time ever in my life, I had to tell someone that, shortly after hiring him, he was out of a job.

A series of unfortunate events plus circumstances beyond anyone’s control contributed to one of the most awkward situations I’ve ever been in. What save the day for me was that from the start, we decided to be completely honest and open with him. You see, the reason why he was let go was highly sensitive and personal, involving other people. It would have been easier to just give him a safer explanation. But in this case I felt that honesty and full disclosure was necessary for him to realize what kind of complicated circumstance forced us to make this particular decision.

I had my two other managers with me when we talked to him, though I did most of the explaining. He was initially surprised, but managed to take the news well. Or rather, he said he understood. He did manage to keep a po-po-po-poker face throughout the rest of the talk. After thanking him, my group head discussed the details for his initial and final pay, and his immediate supervisor thanked him for his short time in our company.

Afterwards when he left the conference room, my group head turned to me and said, “I was watching you when you were talking, your right hand was shaking.”

“I know!” I exclaimed. “I couldn’t do anything about it. That was just the most awkward thing I’ve ever done!” What made this quite difficult, aside from the fact that this was my first, was that the reasons had nothing to do with us, the ones who decided to hire him in the first place; we were just doing a hatchet job. Oh well. If ever I find myself again in a similar situation, I will be more prepared.

Letting go is never easy.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Bed Room Closet

After almost two months away, I stepped into my bedroom in our house in Marikina.

When I was still staying there, my stuff was scattered all over the place. My mom asked that I clear away most of them when I left, so that they can use my bedroom as a guest room. I was able to store most of my stuff in huge plastic containers that, should there be an Ondoy Part 2, will keep them safe and dry. But still, there were many bits and things still left on the couch (yes, there is a couch inside my room; that is what was left of our former living room set) and under my bed.

Two weeks ago my uncle went to Manila to attend a wake; my mom offered him my room. So when I stepped into my bedroom, it felt different yet familiar. The room was cleaner than I knew it to be. Yet the basics were there—my bed, the table beside it, the study table, the couch, the CD cabinets, the electric fan. And stacked on one side were the plastic containers.

On top of them were some of the items found under my bed and on the couch. I looked through them and wondered, “Did I leave any incriminating evidence amongst them, stuff that scream, ‘Your Kuya Joel is a faggot!’? Was I able to bring all of them with me to Makati?” But after a moment’s worry, I reconsidered: hey, isn’t that the easier way of coming out? No awkward confrontations, no forced admissions. Sure they may wonder, “Maybe those things aren’t his, but someone else’s,” but then really now. Or as the kids of today would retort: Weh.

But I didn’t see any proof. Perhaps I was successful in bringing them all with me. All I know for sure was this: had my mom cleaned my closet, all those gay magazines would surface. Yes, they’re still all there under the old clothes. Part of me wants them to remain there. Part of me wants them to be discovered. Part of me doesn’t care one way or another.

The next morning I departed with the magazines still in the closet. I wanted to leave some room for that private part of me—an outdated in-the-closet family secret that grows more irrelevant with age.