Saturday, February 18, 2006


I want to write about a couple of things I'm really into these days: Prison Break and Arctic Monkeys. Yes, it's more pop culture stuff, but what's a blog for if you can't write about...well, anyfrigginthing that comes to mind, really.

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"Darwin wins inside these walls, not Einstein"

Not since "Friends" and "The Practice" have I been completely addicted to a TV show. And I'm talking about the looking-forward-to-going-home-so-I-can-keep-my-eyes-glued-to-the-TV-screen-in-four-or-five-hour-annoy-the-rest-of-your-housemates-marathon kind of addiction. Prison Break only has 13 episodes so far, but it's the best 13 hours of television I've seen in recent memory. For those who have no idea what the show's all about, think "The Shawshank Redemption" meets "Macgyver" meets "Seventh Heaven." (Alright, I just threw "Seventh Heaven" in there because of the concept of love for family, but nah, Prison Break isn't anything like that). Structural engineer Michael Scofield gets himself into the prison his company renovated to try and get his brother Lincoln out. He only has about a month to do it, because Lincoln is about to be executed for murdering the Vice President's brother, a crime he insists he didn't commit. It's one of those series that gets better every week. You hear that all the time these days, and most times, it's just all fluff, but in this case, it's really true.

Piracy is bad, we all know that, so don't be like me, don't buy the pirated DVD set. Instead, wait for it on TV. The Crime/Suspense channel is airing "Prison Break" starting Tuesday, February 21 at 10pm. (Incidentally, it replaces another show that's got me hooked - "The Law Firm," a reality show where they look for the best trial lawyers. It's "The Practice" meets "The Apprentice." I hope they come out with a second season).

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...Up, Up and Away...

What can I say? Not since Oasis and Coldplay have I been completely addicted to a British rock band. The hype surrounding Arctic Monkeys is incredible. And I daresay all of it is well-deserved. They're being called the first real superstars of the iPod age. Why? Well, they uploaded their songs on the Internet and made them available to anyone who wants them. Pretty soon, they were packing in the venues they played in and eventually sold more than 360,000 copies in the first week alone of their debut album, "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not," the fastest-selling British debut album in history. They also won Best British breakthrough in the recent Brit awards.

The music is loud, fast and unapologetic. From the first few insistent chords of first single "The View from the Afternoon," you know you're in for a wild ride. The whole album is chock-full of classic British punk-rock, with traces of modern Brit-pop sensibilities. Lead vocalist Alex Turner sounds like Jamie Cullum on speed, and he's quite a writer too. He sings in "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor": "Oh there ain't no love no / Montagues or Capulets / Just banging tunes in DJ sets and / Dirty dancefloors and dreams of naughtiness"

Be like me. Download these guys' music, either from their site or a few fan sites. They're worth the trouble.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Two weddings and 74 funerals

The text message that woke me up that Saturday morning seemed like a joke: 66 people were reportedly killed in a stampede that happened outside Ultra, where the first anniversary of a noontime variety show was supposed to be held. I didn't think too much of it and even tried to go back to sleep; just another one of those senseless forwarded messages. But the steady drone of a neighbor's AM radio kept me awake. I couldn't exactly make out the words coming out of it, but the fact that I was hearing AM radio from the neighbors and not the usual Backstreet Boys or Sugarfree made me get up from bed and go downstairs to turn the TV on. Sure enough, the news was true. Before the weekend was through the number of fatalities would go up to 74, most of them women and children. And all I could think about as I watched and listened to the steady news reports about the whole thing was god I hope those guys from that network finally let go of Willie Revillame.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not blaming the guy for what happened. Even though I absolutely have nothing good to say about the Willie I see on TV, I'm not mean enough to even imply that he wanted something like that to happen. Nobody can be THAT evil. But I gotta wonder what the execs over at that station see in him anyway. The guy has the charisma of a flea. He's loud to the point of irritating, he's a mediocre-closer-to-bad host and he's not funny AT ALL. I'm sure I'm missing something about the guy, but as far as I can tell from the few times I've seen him on his show, the network would be better off without him. They've already kicked him out once (and why they brought him back is an even bigger mystery); they ought to do it again, this time, for good. Besides, I don't see how the show can go on with something like this hanging over their collective heads; I don't know about other people, but if they DO go on, every time I see those dancers gyrating to the music, I wouldn't be able to keep myself from thinking about the dozens of people injured or killed, not to mention their families and friends grieving over their senseless deaths. If Willie really wants to help people by brightening up their day and making them happy, there're lots of other things he can do, but hosting another noontime variety show shouldn't be one of them.


That same day, I had two weddings to go to. The first was at 4pm, and well, it involved two men. Yep, it was my first time to attend a gay wedding. When an old friend from high school, A, texted me a few weeks ago to invite me to his birthday, I said I would come. I haven't seen him in a long time and I figured it would be a good chance for us to catch up. The next text stopped me in my tracks - he said he was also getting married that day and he wanted me to be there. He had always been out, so I knew it wasn't going to be your traditional church wedding. For a second, I had reservations about actually witnessing something that extraordinary, but I've always thought of myself as a pretty liberal-minded individual (despite statements to the contrary by some of my more open-minded friends), so I said I would be there.

The ceremony was very informal and there were only a few of us there. I will leave the details of the actual ceremony private. I'm happy for my friend and his partner and, just like any other normal married couple, I wish them both the best of luck.

We all went to dinner afterwards, but not before I made a quick trip back to my apartment to change for the next wedding. (Quick tip: If you're looking for a fine Italian place to eat in the Cubao area, Bellini's is it).

I was already late for the next wedding and it was all the way in Makati, so I had a friend drop me off at the reception in Rockwell instead of at the Church. The motif was bohemian, but I couldn't find anything in my closet that comes even close to it (heck I don't even know what "bohemian" really means). So I walked into the posh reception area wearing a safe button-down polo shirt and slacks. Pretty boring, but that was better than wearing something outlandish to try and look bohemian and end up looking like a smelly castaway or an even smellier hippie. The groom is an old co-worker, and when he dropped by the office to deliver the invitation, he kept going on about how the wedding was going to be "different," especially the reception. I couldn't tell him that whatever he had planned wouldn't even compare to how "different" the first wedding I went to that day was. But hats off to him for trying though. The venue was spectacular and had that "island reggae" atmosphere going, complete with a reggae band. There was even a chocolate fountain, which I thought was really cool. Uncool though was how the host dragged me up the stage during the "garter" part of the program. And there I was thinking I could duck tradition by making myself invisible. And for the love of god they even made us dance "Pinoy Ako," which, of course, I wanted no part of. But you can't really say no when the 300-pound host is in your face threatening to kiss you if you didn't budge from your seat. Reggae Mistress capped off the night and I went home in the middle of their lively set.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Volume 2

More pictures from my recent SEA journey.

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Singaporeans invented the whole legend of the Merlion as a symbol of their long history with the sea. There are at least two more of this creature in Singapore, the baby Merlion which is right behind this one, and an enormous replica on Sentosa Island.

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Eskibar in Singapore. Temperature inside: below zero degrees (or so they claim). The main bar inside is made up of a solid block of ice. Winter coats available upon request.

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In the middle of Khao San Road in Bangkok. Most backpackers would agree that this is, without a doubt, THE ground zero of backpackers in Southeast Asia.

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Temple of the Golden Buddha in Bangkok, with, what else? a golden buddha.

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The Menara in Kuala Lumpur was built primarily to service the demands of their telecommunications industry. Now it's also a major tourist attraction.

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The KL skyline as seen from the top of the Menara. It could just as well be Metro Manila, except we don't have anything like the Petronas towers.