Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Project 52 (52/52): What's Up - 4 Non-Blondes

.:Project 52 (52/52): What's Up - 4 Non-Blondes:.

Would you believe? I thought a guy sang this.

And so we end Project 52 2011 with one of the songs I always love belting out during videoke, or even Rockeoke: What's Up, that song often mistaken as a He-Man original. It's very catchy, very challenging to cover, and really does have quite a message to people approaching or well within quarter-life crisis.

I really love this song, and it's a crying shame that 4 Non-Blondes ended up becoming a one-hit wonder, considering how much I really loved this song. That being said, I can definitely relate to it, even if the message is three years off-kilter to me, since I'm not twenty-five years old anymore. Heh.

And with this song, we cap off 2011's Project 52 as a huge success. It's been a great run, what with all the songs I picked, from guilty pleasures to all-time favorites, to symbolic gestures and everything in between. Every song truly does tell a story, and I'm still at a loss what I'll be doing in 2012, if I'd still be doing a Project 52.

In any case, I'm thinking I'd cover any of the following:

1. More music
2. More magic
3. Internet memes
4. WTFery on Youtube
5. Professional wrestling
6. Standup comedy

I think I'd skip out on doing radio or philosophy as topics for this. Heh.

Anyways, if you're reading this, do let me know in the comments or over Twitter (@mistervader) what you think I should be covering for 2012. For once, I'd really, really like some feedback.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Project 52 (51/52): The Cult Of Personality - Living Colour

.:Project 52 (51/52): The Cult Of Personality - Living Colour:.

Yeah, it's CM Punk's entrance theme. We get it.

How many rock bands do any of us know fronted by black guys? Not too many, I can tell you, so catching an awesome group like Living Colour performing a song like this is a refreshing change of pace.

And yeah, I can't deny that a lot of the newfound attention upon the song is because it's CM Punk's entrance music at the moment. As a Straight Edge guy just like CM Punk, I am a pretty big fan of his, and the song is just so catchy that you can't help but really appreciate it. In fact, whenever I'm about to do something epic, my head is playing this song as my pseudo entrance music that only I can hear, because hey, the message and the melody of the song is just that good.

This is also the only reason why I ever bothered playing Guitar Heroes in Timezone, by the by.

Anyways, yeah, if ever I need entrance music, this will be it, since I have no desire to have "Real American" playing over the P.A. when I walk into anything. At all.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Farewell, Christopher Hitchens: A Catholic Thanks You

.:Christopher Hitchens: 1949-2011:.

How do you pray for the soul of a man who doesn't believe in a soul or in prayers? Simple. You don't. You celebrate his life.

To say that the name Christopher Hitchens has a lot of weight upon me would be the understatement of the year, knowing full well that his famed debate with Douglas Wilson was one of the key components of my Masters thesis. Of course, back then, I only knew Hitchens as a name, and generally sided with the notion that theistic morality takes a very direct and universal form that atheistic morality is simply incapable of doing.

It wasn't really easy trying to defend that position in light of Christopher's eloquence when it came to defending his side. Regardless, since then, any mention of his name elicited interest from me.

As recently as two weeks ago, I was contemplating buying his most recent book: a compilation of his essays sold for a trifle 640 pesos at Fully Booked. I didn't purchase it at the last minute because I considered getting the book from iBooks instead, but I sorta resolved to buy it sometime next week after finding out that he has passed. A digital copy is nice, but holding one of his last published works in my hands physically just seems right.

It's funny, really, because nobody could possibly say I'm an atheist, no matter how pluralistic I am. I still firmly identify as Roman Catholic, despite all my misgivings about the system and the people within it. I'm a firm believer in the notion that if your faith makes you a better person, or if a lack of faith would do it, then carry on in that way. By better person, I think the most basic of definitions would be: if your faith or lack of it makes you less of a dick to other people, then it's definitely making you a better person.

That being said, I can't eulogize so much about a man I have never met or spoken to, much less followed on Twitter, assuming he had an account. I liked his writing style, I liked his ability to tackle the sacred cows few people were willing to take on, such as Mother Teresa or Bill Clinton. Ultimately, I saw in him the ability to stand up for something he truly believed in, and never succumbing to outside pressure, opposition, or ridicule, because he believed he was right, and he made more than minor headway into proving his point without having to resort to boorishness or barbarism at worst. He was a gentleman of a contrarian, to put it succinctly.

Considering how brash most theists find the Hitchens or the Penn and Tellers of the world less because of how they say anything but more because of what they are saying, it's sad to realize that one of them is no longer with us. In a world where the heart is given undue primacy over the mind at far too great a price, it was good to know that he and his ilk were there to keep people in check. It was good to know he was willing to ask the questions nobody else was willing to ask. With him passing away, it's good to know that there are more than enough people who are willing to take up his cudgels and trudge on in the path he has helped blaze.

I have always believed one's faith or lack thereof is a personal matter, but there has always been room for non-fanatical evangelization, in my opinion. It may come as a surprise to theists, though, that this should also mean that atheists are just as entitled to "evangelize" every bit the theists are, no matter how much they think this offends them. Secularism is the great equalizer: ironically fulfilling the very words of the Judeo-Christian God when it was said that all are created equally and in His likeness. How much more equal can it be when both those with faith and without faith have the choice and have the ability to educate in the proper avenues?

I find it ironic and amusing that secularism is doing more to follow the core of Judeo-Christian values than fundamentalism and radicalism can ever hope to. It is with this knowledge that I raise my glass (With a predictably non-alcoholic drink in it.) to the late Christopher Hitchens and give him a wink and my gratitude for being a great human being, which is truly a great accomplishment in the kind of world we find ourselves mired in today.

He will most certainly be missed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Project 52 (50/52): Gives You Hell - All-American Rejects

.:Project 52 (50/52): Gives You Hell - All-American Rejects:.

Truth be told, I'm lying.

Last week, during videoke, this song came up with a vengeance. The ultimate "take that" song in my book, this instant classic by the All-American Rejects just really encapsulates the kind of sentiments you wish would hit the people who have turned their backs on you, even if in reality, it's probably less like this and more like "Break Even" by The Script. They're sleeping well, while you're awake in the middle of the night. It is what it is.

But hey, who's to say a little bit of wish fulfillment isn't in order? I mean, obviously, if you're still hurting, the least you can do is pretend in your head that they're hurting just as much, or maybe even more, right? Of course, it's probably just all in your head, but whatever. That's just how it works.

It's a really catchy song that sounds very upbeat. Once you start listening to the lyrics, though, it paints a pretty embittered picture that says, "You happened to all the nice guys! Now, I hope it gives you hell." I think the sentiments, while harsh, definitely ring true to a large extent. When a heart doesn't break even, I guess you can't fault one of them to end up being rather Bitter Ocampo about the whole thing, eh?

With a year filled with burning bridges, I can't help but feel a pang of regret over the losses that have recently come. But then, I realize how little of value I was to them for them to ditch me so casually in the first place, and I guess it makes me feel just a little bit less guilty about responding to them in kind.

I hope he knows you told me that you'd always be there for as long as I needed you. Because really, I never stopped needing you, yet you're nowhere to be found.

I hope you realize that I took all your abuse for years, and you obviously can't take it the way you dished it out.

I hope you aren't oblivious to the fact that "betraying a friend" trumps "acting childish" any day of the week. This may not be oppression Olympics, but the latter surely doesn't whitewash the former.

So if you happen t be reading this post, hope it gives you hell. I really, really hope it does.

Just Another Magic Monday (Sorta): Homecoming

.:Just Another Magic Monday (Sorta): Homecoming:.

One guess why there were no bondage jokes that night.

I had a show Monday night as well, but inasmuch as that was fun, there was still nothing quite like performing in Don Bosco Sta. Mesa once again after approximately eighteen years since I last performed there.

You see, years ago, one of the first people who ever taught me magic was a lovely human being named Sister Angie, FMA (That's Figle Maria Ausilatrice, not Full Metal Alchemist, or Fixed Martial Arts.). It was the most unlikely mentor ever, but Sister Angie really got things started for me, and as you can see to this very day, it never really stopped, did it?

So when I performed last Sunday night in Don Bosco, that was as real a homecoming as can be for my magical career. It was just amazing, and the people were, in a word, entertained, which is the whole point of getting into magic the first place.

It was quite a moment, really, even if I had to be extra careful about my words and my jokes, since I was surrounded by nuns throughout the night, and I knew my liberal ways (LOL) were not going to go over very well there.

On a tangent, by the way, I'm still amused the last time someone referred to me as a liberal, considering how I actually am in practice. Not to mention that said person is apparently one of the least gracious people I have ever met, considering how said person has the temerity to still grouse and whine after being apologized to.

Stay classy, yo.

Anyways, where was I? Oh, yeah. The show. I think Apol and Iza had the idea to get me that night, and when I obliged them, I was overjoyed to see that it went over just fine, considering I had to follow a TV celebrity, which just intimidated me to no end. In any case, it was all good, really. This was a great return to my roots, although the next time I talk about doing a "back to basics," it had better be a post about me finally meeting Sister Angie after all these years. She was, unfortunately, not at the celebration that night.

Much thanks to Kcat for this picture, by the way!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Project 52 (49/52): Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough - Patty Smyth

.:Project 52 (49/52): Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough - Patty Smyth:.

There's a reason why people don't stay who they are.

Does this double as an unsent letter? Maybe, but not quite. Ultimately, this song just really reflects my sentiments at the moment, and is the simplest explanation I can give to anyone who'd ask why I am still going to be a part of this year's SMP. It is what it is, I suppose.

I like this song because it allows me to think about the good old days when romance ruled the roost, and I could just idly think that whatever the problem is, good old love can conquer it all. And then, before it all gets too sappy and idealistic, the song reminds you that all these thoughts don't really pan out that way, and we realize that love really isn't enough to make the world go 'round. Reality sets in, and you start to think about how things aren't always perfect.

Yet when reality sets in, does this erase the love that was? Of course not. It's just the realization that things weren't as simple as they seemed on paper, and how this means everything to making or breaking a relationship.

Then again, sometimes, love just ain't enough, but sometimes, it's the love that ain't enough. As my favorite saying goes, translated from the vernacular: if there's a will there's a way. Otherwise, there are excuses. When things go down the wire, and when the cards are all on the table, is love enough to see you through? Or is your love enough to see you through? The difference in questioning is rather subtle, but important, nonetheless.

Ultimately, that's what it really is about: sometimes, love just isn't enough. It can't make up for a multitude of sins all the time. Sometimes, the love just isn't enough. It won't make up for a multitude of sins all the time.

I have no regrets, and it was wonderful for what it was. For once, I don't have a heavy heart over it, knowing full well that I did what I can to make it easy on the both of us. I am grateful for what came to pass, and I harbor no ill feelings whatsoever. In fact, I harbor only good memories. But good memories are a pretty terrible thing to go by as a foundation for forever, when you think about it.

Indeed, sometimes, love just ain't enough.

But that doesn't make it any less real, or any less beautiful.

Thanks for the memories. I love you.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: "It's True! It's True!" Wins In The Philippine Blog Awards 2011!

.:And I Am Still Dumbstruck...:.

Ang hair ko, umabot hanggang dooooon sa haba!

Yes, this is hardly related to magic, but the moment was, for lack of a better word, magical. Last Saturday night, I was tasked to do voice over duties for the Philippine Blog Awards, as hosted by Ms. Gang Badoy herself. It was pretty amusing when I was asked, because while I graciously accepted the invitation to do so, I jokingly asked Juned if this was his hint that I had no chance of winning that night for either nomination. Juned just smiled and said he's not allowed to comment on stuff like that.

What was very different about this year's program was the fact that there were actually acceptance speeches this time around, which Arbet reminded me about while going over the program. I just casually noted that being the VO guy for the evening meant I wasn't going to win, shrugged, and moved on.

The evening was great, seeing as I met awesome people like the aforementioned Gang Badoy and the Christopher Lao! He seemed a lot shorter than I thought he would, and oddly enough, without his glasses on, he reminded me of Mr. Fu. Nonetheless, it was fun running into him, and to be referred to as the "voice of God" by Gang throughout the evening.

Pretty soon, they got to the part of the awarding ceremonies where my blog was nominated in two different categories. When I didn't win the Personal Category, I kinda assumed that was the end of it already, since that was the one I've been gunning for since 2009, I believe (I was off the grid in 2007 and was the host in 2008, after all.).

Next thing I knew, I was announced as the winner for the best blog in the Society, History, and Politics category.

This is how you feel so big and so small at the same time.

I haphazardly went onstage, still shocked (Hades, I still am to this very moment!), joked about loving all 20 of my loyal readers, joked about the fact that I was the disembodied voice throughout the evening, then quietly shuffled to backstage immediately afterwards. Yep, I pretty much didn't have an acceptance speech at all, but that's okay. This is my blog, so I get to do that here.

First of all, I'd like to thank the judges of the Philippine Blog Awards for the recognition of this blog. I've been blogging since 2002, so winning something like this, without a doubt, is truly a great honor for me. I still cannot contain my joy over this great recognition, and it never gets old. I've won best Philippine Blog in the Flying Chair Asian Blog Awards in 2003, then won one of the top 10 best blog posts in the Philippine Blog Awards in 2009, and yet, this honor couldn't have come at a better time, for me.

I am very honored that despite splitting my writing between this blog, The POC, Filipino Freethinkers, and, for a while, Filipino Voices, my blog still managed to strike a chord with the people who have read it in ways that I didn't quite expect. I've always been an autobiographical blogger, so it comes a bit surprising to me that my life has taken a turn towards the societal, historical, or political aspects of this nation. Sure, I do political satire here and there even in my blog, but I realized that with no active desire to stay relevant via my blog, my life itself has given me the opportunity to do and say something relevant that I can only hope brings, aside from the lulz, some measure of knowledge or dare I say enlightenment, no matter how unenlightened my position may or may not get.

To the people who do read this, know that I can only be grateful that you like what you see. I really can't please everyone, so I only ever write for my own sake, because I'm pretty much the only person I have any business representing in an official capacity, even if I do try my best to put forth a great picture of the Philippine Magic Industry in my blog every now and then.

I guess what I hope people take away from my blog is that I am a multi-faceted person with something to say. Whether or not you agree or even find what I have to say interesting, at the very least, I hope you can see where I am coming from and how I have come to form the opinions or even convictions I hold onto.

I have no illusions that this win would bring me to the upper echelon of recognized bloggers whose every word people wait on with bated breath. I have no illusions that my writing will directly engender changes in this nation, unless I myself take a direct, pro-active stand offline as well. I have no illusions that my writing would magically become more prolific and more enticing for consumption for the general public. Hades, I'm even shy about showing my own mother my own blog, despite the fact that I don't really write anything embarrassing about myself here.

What I do know, though, is that I will keep writing because I have something to say. I have always believed that is the first reason someone would want to blog, and that is reason enough for me to keep on doing what I have been doing for the past nine years in my own little corner in the web, ever since I realized I can't read my old diaries anymore because of my atrocious handwriting.

I'd like to thank Cracked because their sense of humor has influenced my writing immensely, and hopefully for the better. I'd like to thank the POC and the Freethinkers for having faith (I use that word very loosely, Freethinkers!) in my writing as well. Of course, I'd also like to thank everyone who has touched my life and been a part of this blog, really. It's hard to name all of you, but you know who you are. Obviously, without you, there'd have been at least one less entry for me to write, and as an archivist by nature, that would've been a travesty.

And the only thing I regret not having said onstage would be... I'd like to dedicate this win to someone who was, without a doubt, someone who did effect change in society, whether within the blogosphere or through his personal advocacies. Thank you, AJ Matela. I miss you, and I think that it is fitting for me to dedicate this honor to you, because you have, in your own way, sparked a revolution of minds and hearts, in life and in death.

Thank you, one and all, and I hope that my life continues to intersect with what is relevant and important to this nation, even if what I personally have to say about it doesn't always live up to the same standard.

Congratulations, one and all!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Randomicity Upon Mine Head

.:Fabucelles Is Back:.

I don't know about you, but it's always entertaining to read Fabucelles do his take on show business. It's pretty amazing how much hoopla there has been over the KC Concepcion-Piolo Pascual breakup, considering how little talk there has been about "Oplan Put The Little Girl To Sleep" in contrast.

That being said, even Fabucelles, in a heavy showbiz article, took the time out to sidetrack into that a bit as well. It's a really interesting picture, really, because all snark aside, there really is no need to put all this undue attention upon them. Their relationship, real or reel as it may be, is over. Just like many relationships out there, really.

I guess it's just so much easier for us to look at a car crash than to look away, huh?

.:Thank You, Philippine Blog Awards!:.

Do I expect a win? No, not really, what with the competition I have lined up against me.

Nonetheless, thanks to the Philippine Blog Awards for naming me as a finalist for "Best Personal Blog" and "Best Society, History, and Politics Blog."

The latter nominee has certainly surprised me, seeing how most of my political or society writings are either on The POC or Filipino Freethinkers.

Thank you, thank you, and I hope to continue writing in this humble blog of mine, especially come 2012, when I celebrate a decade of blogging (I plan to do something huuuuge for this!)!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Project 52 (48/52): Back For Good - Take That

.:Project 52 (48/52): Back For Good - Take That:.

Oh, Robbie Williams. Why so grumnpy?

So last night, I ended up doing videoke again with Paolo, Erin, Christina, Ren, and Chanty. Yeah, we kinda forgot to take pictures, but that's like a pseudo-Geekfight team right there, which was doubly amusing, considering the fact that the previous night, I was scoring for Geekfight classic since none of my non-Paolo teams showed up.

We were trying to out-corny each other, so yes, this is one of the songs that inevitably came up.

I don't really know why, but I have a soft spot for Take That. Most people like only Robbie Williams, but I just absolutely loved this song of theirs, albeit in a guilty pleasure kind of way.

That being said, this song definitely hit the spot that night, and after belting out some Gary Valenciano, it was very kind on my vocal chords to pick this song.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: The 1thcyworm5!

.:Just Another Magic Monday: The 1thcyworm5!:.

Yes! Yes! This pleases me greatly.

I decided to write and do my JAMM's whenever I feel like it, but yeah, don't expect a religious weekly update from yours truly for now.

Anyways, last Friday, the Itchyworms celebrated their 15th anniversary, and I was invited to be a part of it. To say I was honored would be the understatement of the year.

I've been a huge fan of the Itchyworms ever since their first album came out. Whether it was "Happy Birthday" or "Antipara", I was immediately captivated by their music, seeing as they were a great alternative to the kupaw rockers of their era.

The scene of the crime was in Metro Bar. Jampacked to the rafters with fans, friends, and everyone in between, the Itchyworms went in to play fifteen of their songs, and everyone was just hype the whole night! Special guests abounded, including...

... Marcus Adoro, alumnus of the Eraserheads.

And even...

... the man you least expect standing beside the Straight Edge Comedy Magician, Mr. Pepe Smith himself!

I also ran into Ebe Dancel, Ronnie Dizon, Francis Brew, and Chris of "Ako Si Chris" fame. It was star-studded, and every single person out there definitely raised the sheer energy for the night. Conspicuously missing was Lourd De Veyra, though. We were hoping we'd find him doing the spoken word part of "Freak Out Baby" for old time's sake.

Lemme share my moment onstage, though, as they asked me to perform during their rendition of "Antipara"...

I'm blind! Blind as a bat! How blind is a bat?

The challenge was simple: I was going to solve a Rubik's cube blindfolded, but the time limit was the song. If I couldn't solve the cube by the time the song ended, I was going to have to get hit upside the head with one of their guitars, and that put a spring in my step, or fingers, if you will.

It was hilarious, because thanks to my sheer terror, I actually finished the cube a full minute before the song ended. I was so nervous that I was solving the cube significantly faster than I expected to, and I misheard the cue for the song, as I mistook the bridge for the ending, which made me finish well before the final chorus of the song actually played.

Nonetheless, I managed to pull it off just fine, and finally, I got to enjoy the rest of the show. It was, without a doubt, one of the best nights to be a Philippine magician with friends in the music industry. You just never know what crazy stuff you could end up collaborating on.

In this picture: two Kels!

It was a great night, and capping it off with some Mr. Kebab immediately afterwards was just icing on the cake, albeit I was very annoyed they didn't have Ox Brain again.

Here's hoping to find myself performing with the bad boys of Pogi rock again in the near future! Congratulations, Jugs, Jazz, Kelvin, and Chino! You guys are just the best!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

.:The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same:.

So. A year after we heard him welcome us to the "daang matuwid,M" three years after his American counterpart promised his own countrymen that there will be "hope and change," things haven't really changed that much, have they?

Back in Gloria's time, we had a greedy president and a lazy vice president. Now, in P Noy's time, we have a lazy president and a greedy vice president. I fail to see the improvement, really, and no amount of tongue-in-cheek satire could ease the pain of having to see your country continue to be stuck in this quagmire. And then you get hit with the soul-crushing realization that it didn't matter who was in charge at this point: we would still continue to be screwed if we keep on believing that one man or woman can turn everything around for us.

We kept on hearing about P Noy's integrity and how he would do everything he can to undo the failings of the previous administration, yet here we are, faced with potential foreign affairs fiasco. With China, no less. The only other country in this world who could probably drown this nation if their entire population collectively spat upon us.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. GMA ignored the rule of law when she was installed to power in 2001 and when she allegedly cheated her way into the 2004 elections. When she ended up being stopped at the airport last week, P Noy ignored the rule of law all the same. The Aquino's and Cojuangco's apparent resistance to the Hacienda Luisita ruling by the Supreme Court is more of the same.

I have next to no sympathy for GMA, really. How she is being treated right now in no way makes me feel bad for her. However, how she is being treated right now gives me cause for alarm that if you are not in P Noy's good graces, the exact same thing could very well happen to you.

The culture of impunity we have been railing about during GMA's time has not ceased with the new administration. We're a little too distracted at how the tables have turned for Arroyo, delighting in Schadenfreude as she makes obvious lies upon obvious lies to escape imprisonment (Unless her life-threatening illness that required urgent care in Singapore suddenly becoming an outpatient matter is nothing short of a miracle. Or Coat Saver.). We feel like she deserves everything coming to her without seeing how it sets a nasty precedent of ignoring the rule of law when it's convenient to do so. Of an outright denial of democracy and civil liberties just because.

But then, I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know.

It isn't all gloom and doom, though. It's just a sobering reminder to us that it's less about who's in power right now than it is about the people under that person. The Philippines rising above the muck of mediocrity cannot rely on one man alone. That much should have been obvious, but we are nothing if not forgetful of this fact.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Project 52 (47/52): Separated - Usher

.:Project 52 (47/52): Separated - Usher:.

No explanations necessary.

Really, I don't think I need to explain why.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not A Just Another Magic Monday, But...

.:The Return Of The Comeback:.

So I ended up hosting The Story Circle's annual close-up magic competition last Saturday, and it was a load of fun.

Meeting a lot of the TSC members of old definitely made my day, and seeing Patrick finally take home the big one with his choreographed Chop Cup routine really was awesome, and defending champion Tenkai wasn't too shabby, either.

Judged by sir Rael, doc Ronnie, Ronny Mariano, and Alakim, TSC's competition was a very entertaining affair from top to bottom. I amused myself by sneaking in some of my standup material in between performers, and it looks like jokes about GMA are very well-received.

In any case, after the whole thing, I sat down and talked shop with the guys, and I must say, it was good to be back in the thick of things if only once. Sir Rael paid me the biggest compliment of the night when he told me that my hosting was "elegant." I was beaming proudly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

HillaRex Reloaded!

.:Hilariously Hillary:.

                                                                                   Unedited picture from Pinoy Weekly.

I have nothing to do with this man.

So I'm not really a big fan of Hillary Clinton, but I don't have much
against her, either.

That being said, Wednesday was a pretty larger-than-life experience for me as I found myself in the National Museum to take part in "A Conversation With Hillary Clinton," which, while quite a softball affair, definitely called attention to the many things we take for granted about US-Philippine relations.

Indeed, in the middle of beauty pageant questions about the contents of her iPod and her smartphone of choice, I must say that I was mildly disappointed nobody tried to ask not-necessarily hardball questions about, say, the Occupy Wall Street movement, or her opinions regarding reproductive health. All in all, the questions asked were very trite, predictable, and downright patronizing, to the point that when the activist, Marjohora Tucay, stood up to deliver his protests against the Mutual Defense Treaty and the VFA, I actually thought it was part of a script by GMA-7 to spice up the afternoon or something to that effect.

Regardless, I still inched away from him mainly because while I am sympathetic to his cause, I certainly am not sympathetic to his methods. It's good that he managed to conduct an interview after the fact to explicate his side, because he only ended up looking pretty silly when he was in the forum.

After all of that, one can't help but see that Hillary Clinton's eloquence and charm undoubtedly allows her a far wider berth than many other political figures from her country, especially if they're Republican. Do I still have misgivings about the lopsided terms of the MDT and the VFA, particularly when it comes to extradition? Well, yes. But I wouldn't posit it in a venue where my message would be drowned out by people who are unabashedly her fans.

In any case, I didn't have any compunctions about having my Patriotic Filipino® photo opp, courtesy of The Philippine Beat and momblogger.

                                                     The Philippine Beat

Feel the Filipino-ness!

.:Rex Reloaded!:.

I completely neglected to have a picture taken with Rex this time out. LOL.

So I hosted Rex Reloaded in the NBC Tent after the whole Hillary thing, and I must say, I did a pretty cut-up job getting the whole crowd hyped throughout the night. While some of my friends were asking me why I didn't do any magic that night, I mentioned to them that I specifically asked to be the host because during the first Rex show, Noel Gascon had to pull double duty as both the voice over and the performer, which looked very awkward, to say the least. Let's face it: JB Dela Cruz is an awesome magician, but he himself would tell you hosting isn't in his skillset, so I had to do the honors.

And an honor, it truly was. Rex was very gregarious throughout the whole thing, and he really hit his stride well with the crowd. JB's magic and Mike's comedy definitely set the stage for a very raucous night of laughter and amazement, and Rex delivered the goods, no question about it.

On top of that, he even won an ALIW Award for his previous show! How's that for a crowning moment of awesome for him?

All in all, everyone was pretty happy about the night. Everyone was in stitches during his bit about the joke of jokes, and even the appetizer jokes were just as hilarious. Rex is a master of his craft, and it really shows.

It was a supremely humbling and memorable experience, one that I still haven't quite recovered from.

Here's hoping to more awesomeness for Rex in the near future!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Project 52 (46/52): I Want To Break Free - Queen

.:Project 52 (46/52): I Want To Break Free - Queen:.

I'd like to dedicate this song to Gloria.

In light of yesterday's airport drama, this song pretty much has me covered, to say the least. I like Queen, really. Not a huge fan like Ranulf, but I like their music, and this is one of their songs that I feel is notoriously underappreciated.

That being said, yesterday must have been quite a thing at NAIA, huh? What really struck me about it was how annoyed the other passengers of the plane must have felt when they ended up being detained for hours because of their co-passenger.

Last night, Cleo and I were joking about it, thinking how some poor tourists must feel now after giving the Philippines a chance despite all the travel advisories, only to end up in the worst flight from NAIA that night, no doubt. Murphy's Law at work, perhaps?

I think this song really encapsulates what happened last night, eh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Quiet But Steady Month

.:Monthsary? Whee!:.

It's really hard to speak about relationships without some measure of skepticism or paranoia after what yours truly has been through, but I'm surprised to find myself here right now.

At the moment, I'm really just glad. Chanty has been just wonderful, and I can't quite explain how good we have been for each other. One month in, and it feels every bit as sweet and as surreal as it has since day one.

It's a great time for us right now, and I'm all smiles.

Ultimately, there isn't any reason to look back on what was and what came before this. All that matters is that what was, what is, and what will be all melt in the face of the truth.

And the truth is, she has been wonderful. And she has made a positive difference in my life. Is there anything else one can ask for, really?

Happy monthsary to us, Pancakes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: On Hold Until Further Notice

Welp, I had to do it sometime, I guess. I've been so busy lately, and to be honest, with everything I've been doing, it's just getting more increasingly difficult

Nonetheless, let me take this time to plug the fact that I will be hosting this Wednesday's Rex Reloaded at the NBC Tent!

JB Dela Cruz. Mike Unson. Rex Freaking Navarette.

It's a must-see, y'all!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Project 52 (45/52): Only You - Mark Hamill

.:Project 52 (45/52): Only You - Mark Hamill:.

Yin and yang never seemed more appropriate an analogy.

So. I was playing Batman: Arkham City for the last couple of weeks, even though it had to compete for playing time with NBA 2K12.

In a word, the game was beautiful. The mood, the story, the twists and turns, and the game's ability to take the characters in very chilling directions that you don't expect them to do in the comic book medium really makes for a very gripping game overall.

I won't spoil you when it comes to the game, nor will I even do a game review, for that matter, but the game is great, and I felt an immense sense of satisfaction when I completed the game last night.

Then, during the end credits, a voice message from the Joker came up, and I started to hear him sing this song. It was creepy and sublime, all at the same time.

So sue me, I grew up on Mark Hamill as the Joker and appreciated his genius far more than Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger combined. Mark Hamill, in my book, is the Joker, and it's only his voice I ever hear when I read comics with the Joker in it.

This was a perfect sendoff for Hamill, who pretty much retired the role of the Clown Prince Of Crime for himself after Arkham City, as he has explicitly stated that he would only come back for an animated adaptation of "The Killing Joke" but nothing more.

I've had this song on loop for quite a while already, while writing this. Let's just say that this version of the song is haunting, in every sense of the word.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: As Seen On Manila Bulletin!

.:Just Another Magic Monday: As Seen On Manila Bulletin!:.

Thank you, Ms. Giselle Sanchez!

I've seen myself in newspapers several times in the past before, but it never gets old. I find it arguably more exciting to be in the papers than to be on TV or radio, even if I don't really know why, but as a magician in the Philippines just trying to establish himself some in the industry, this is definitely something I'm happy about, what with yours truly being in a feature with Alakim himself, a contemporary I have a lot of respect for.

Having said that, I've had quite a whole slew of shows the past couple of weeks, and that's the kind of problem I'm happy to have.

Here's a bigger view of my bit in the article, by the way...

Ahh, this picture. So 30 pounds ago.

While I still maintain that media exposure shouldn't be an end in and by itself for a professional performer, there is absolutely no question that it is a means to the end of being well-booked and well-known by potential clients. It's only a hindrance if you allow being seen on TV, heard on radio, or read in print as a stopping point for yourself, much in the same way some people have. Considering how magic and mentalism in the Philippines is still largely a carnie affair, that may make you famous, but certainly not rich.

Just some food for thought to any aspiring magicians who think that getting on TV means you've made it big already. That's only the first step, really. The next logical step is to capitalize on it. Or at least, save it for your portfolio.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Today Has Been A Good Day...

... Yes. It Totally Has:.

I don't have much to say, except for the fact that today has indeed been an awesome day. I know, it's been a year (thereabouts) since the demise of NU 107, but OPM has still managed to get by even without its radio patron, and it's not like the people behind NU are going to just not do anything at all, are they? I'm sure they're online at least, like on Dig Radio or something. Heh.

That being said, today has been a great day, indeed, and I'm looking forward to what the rest of the week has to offer. Needless to say, I am definitely looking forward to going to 99.5 RT in a bit, seeing as they're doing their on-air stuff in The Fort today.

Optimism. It's awesome, except for the quality of my blogging. Heh.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Project 52 (44/52): Thriller - Michael Jackson

.:Project 52 (44/52): Thriller - Michael Jackson:.

It's just a thriller night.

It was a looong weekend, it was Halloween, I was so busy doing gigs left and right I couldn't even do this Monday's Just Another Magic Monday, Michael Jackson rules, and this song was one of his best.

Do I even need to explain anything else about choosing this song? :D

Friday, October 28, 2011

Burning Bridges When We Get There

.:Food For Thought:.

Fewer things upset me more than cutting ties with people I consider my friends, and yet there comes a point where you have to do it.

Now, realize I do it not out of some stupid sense of personal pride. Nor do I do it just to delude myself into making a statement unto a person who probably isn't the least disturbed that I cut them out of my life, to begin with. I do it for my own emotional well-being, because I know that being broken up over it for a few days or so would be much more preferable to being forced to pretend everything's hunky-dory with that person on a regular basis. It isn't, and chances are, it never will be.

Alternatively, here's what happens when you CAN'T pretend it's all hunky-dory anymore...

We always say that love means never having to say we're sorry, but in reality, burning bridges means never having to say we're sorry. It doesn't even matter anymore who's wrong or who's right in the thick of a fight: just cut the ties that bind, and let go, no matter if they promised to be there for you for as long as you need them, or if they reassured you they will always be your friend while they betray your trust in them right in your face, or if they simply turned you into an emotional punching bag for so long, and found it shocking that you apparently resented it when it went on for two years too long.

I have found that as time goes by, it has gotten easier and easier for me to just ignore the resentment bubbling up inside by simply cutting off the vexations to my soul. Truth be told, I'm probably doing them a favor all the same by distancing myself from them: I no longer give them an opportunity to delude themselves into thinking that we're okay and we can get along just fine, when in reality, the crack in the armor has gotten larger and larger until it can no longer be ignored.

I write this in the hopes of reminding myself why I burned these bridges in the first place, and to keep myself from letting my sense of regret over the years I've invested in these people get in the way of the undeniable reality that I am flat out better off without them in my lives at this point. I shouldn't really care how this makes them feel, because they obviously didn't care enough about how I felt before everything just went up in flames. Neither should I care whether or not they feel regret over the whole thing, for that matter.

It's food for thought because for an emotional packrat like myself, I find it difficult to let go of people, in general. I always feel that pang of regret that maybe I didn't do enough to fix things between me and them, and perhaps I should have been less hasty about burning bridges with them. Half of the time, I actually give in to the weakness and outright apologize, even if the sensible part of me knows it wasn't I who was at fault.

Each and every time, those efforts blew up in my face. Apparently, I have yet to find a burnt bridge worth rebuilding, simply because many people have gotten this nasty habit of misconstruing an apology as an excuse to assume they were right and the apologizing party was wrong, when in reality, it was simply the fact that the one who tried to reach out with an olive branch simply wanted to do the right thing.

Mending fences shouldn't some stupid game of "chicken" where the first one to actually try to make things better is actually the loser. Personally, when attempts to become the peacemaker become mistaken for that, it makes you wonder why you even tried, in the first place. It just ends up becoming more fodder to make matters worse, rather than an opportunity to finally set things right.

I guess, ultimately, that's a sign that some things aren't really meant to be set right. And when that's the case...

... I think that you should let it burn.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Project 52 (43/52): Walang Natira - Gloc 9

.:Project 52 (43/52): Walang Natira - Gloc 9:.

The brain drain, in rap form.

Mainstream Pinoy rap has gotten a bad rap for a long while because aside from the late Francis Magalona, who did the country ever have who had a deep message behind the lyrical calisthenics? Andrew E certainly didn't, nor did ::shudders:: Carlos Agassi, so yeah, that was a problem for quite a bit.

Thank heavens for Gloc 9, then, because he has certainly done more than his fair share of uplifting mainstream Pinoy rap to something laudable and not just a plain attempt to ride the gravy train of hip-hop.

This song is one of those songs that really speaks about the Filipino situation, how it seems that this nation has gotten so bad that the best opportunities for Filipinos only ever come outside of the Philippines, and you do end up wondering why this is the case. Third world problems? Maybe. Real problems? Absolutely.

"Walang Natira" bluntly addresses the fact that the best and the brightest among us are more likely to leave this country, and yet, we can't really blame them when they do so, can we? It's a vicious cycle, and though many of us cannot deny the good that globalization can bring upon all of us, few of us can also deny that it is an inconvenient truth that the Philippines itself is not good enough to entice the best and the brightest among us unless a tenuous appeal to a sense of patriotism is used.

Why is it that the only ones left to make this nation better are the very people we really wish were not within five hundred miles of this nation's political institutions? It is what it is, and Gloc 9's lyrical gifts illustrate these questions very handily, and make us ask of ourselves the difficult questions we would otherwise be wary of.

I guess that kind of lyrical genius more than justifies why Gloc 9's song is the one I'm featuring on this week's Project 52.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Alodia's Fantasy And Then Some

.:Just Another Magic Monday: An Enchanting Weekend:.

This weekend was marked by three straight gigs to my name, which, of course, I have no complaints about whatsoever.

No complaints, whatsoever. Photo from source as indicated by logo.

So yeah, it was pretty enjoyable, to say the least. Tack on the fact that on each gig, I managed to perform a bit of magic doesn't hurt my chances of writing about it and passing it all off for Just Another Magic Monday. So sue me, this year hasn't had nearly as much magic as 2010, obviously, so I'm less inclined to flat out do reviews of magic videos and the like, but that's all right.

In any case, opening for Mike Unson is one thing, and performing in Wack Wack Country Club is another, but ultimately, being a part of history, being the host of the first ever interactive cosplay show, Alodia's Fantasy, is just on a whole different level. Yup, that's the title, and no, I have no idea what else it could possibly mean.

A lot of preparation went into the show, truth be told. Weeks upon weeks of rehearsals, pre-screenings, and pre-production meetings. On the day itself, rehearsals were being rigorously conducted just to make sure that everything was in proper order. To say that all the cosplayers and performers really pulled out all the stops would be the understatement of the year, although I guess Alodia would be more capable of discussing all the work that went into the show than I personally would.

Technical glitches aside, there was one glaring sore spot throughout the night, but the less said about it, the more likely we'd forget about these unremarkable and unsavorable factors. Someday. Maybe. One can dream, after all.

That being said, once we went live on Flippish, we were greeted by hundreds of people all online at the same time, just wanting to catch a piece of history, as the show fired on all cylinders, with everyone just putting on the best show that they can. If you wanted details about the results, you could check out Fritz's Photo Recap, but all I can say is that the rehearsals before the show was hilarious because all the side comments I promised myself to put a lid on, I brought out in full force while the cameras were off.

It was pretty interesting as well that I managed to bring up people like Kring and Mike Abundo with his lady companion Itel (Of Best Of Anime fame.) for impromptu interviews that night. They did have some awesome stuff to share, not to mention the fact that there were a whole bunch of people in the audience that made me feel right at home. The chatbox for the event was burning up, though, because there was no reading a full sentence before it would end up scrolling out of the screen. I had to ad lib my way through the entire thing.

Seeing as this wasn't the first time I co-hosted an event with Alodia, we had our banter just down to pat already. I pretty much knew when to toss her softballs and when to toss her curveballs, and I was impressed at her ability to keep up with me. Looks like her stint in L.O.L. has really given her the chance to step up as a host, and I, for one, am proud.

As usual, I paid tribute to Zack Ryder during my closing spiel. Woo woo woo, you know it.

Ashley's performances were splendid, as always, and it was pretty cool to finally meet Eric Salamat. I joked that I stopped watching ADMU games because ADMU seemed to lose everytime I did. I also mentioned I stopped watching ADMU games for the past four years, so maybe there's something to that theory.

Seeing Ranulf at the event also gave me a nice surge of confidence, but it still paled in comparison to my true highlight of the night...

Cookie and Pancakes 2011!

Backstage, Alodia was poking fun at me when a different picture had the three of us together. She told me that she pretty much photo-bombed a couple pic and I'd probably crop her out the first chance I got. She might be on to something. Heh.

The after-party was fun, too. I met Karen, Joy Bordador's sister, for the second time ever, as Chris Tan proudly introduced her to us. At some point in the night, I ended up doing my signature psychokinesis act. So yeah, despite not doing a single routine onscreen throughout the night, enough people still remembered that I am a mentalist.

In any case, it was an awesome event, and I cannot thank the people of Flippish, the Gosiengfiao's, the cosplayers, the performers, the bloggers, Pancakes, and everyone else who made that event possible, and for asking me to be a part of it. It was one of my proudest moments to see a very good friend, someone who's practically family to me, Alodia, do so well and flourish in something she passionately believes in.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Know I've Been So Quiet Lately...

.:I Know I've Been So Quiet Lately...:.

... but I guess that comes with the territory of being busy, busy, busy.

Last night, I had a last-minute magic show for an aunt of the awesome Andrada sisters. I was just as surprised as the people I performed for that I was there, but we made something pretty memorable out of it.

Tonight, I'm hosting and performing for Mike Unson's "Comedy Mayhem" in Capone's. It's absolutely free, and absolutely awesome. Mike will also be performing in Conspiracy Garden, Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, on Saturday night.

On Saturday, I am doing hosting duties for Alodia's Fantasy, which should be a pretty highly anticipated event. People who wanna catch it can go to that hyperlink and watch the show for themselves at the very comfort of their own homes, from 8 to 10 PM.

It's been quite a blur with Pancakes as of late, but I couldn't think of any reason I'd ever want to trade all of this in for the world. Guess I'm a lucky man, after all.

Next week, there's even more insanity lined up for me, since I'm going to be performing on October 29 in Subic Lighthouse Marina, then Nickelodeon's Halloween show on October 31 in Mall Of Asia. All I can say is, wow. The hits do keep on coming, so after over two years of bad hits, I'm happy to note that the good hits are now on a roll.

But for now, I'm officially putting into the backburner my intentions of writing a satire about satire, and I'm in no rush to write about the Batangas sign by Vilma Santos for Taal Volcano. It's pretty memetic, though, and I was amused to have been part of the initial volume of people to notice it. Nonetheless, for the POC, I did write an article about that silly dragons article.

Universe, please keep this up.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Project 52 (42/52): Count On Me - Bruno Mars

.:Project 52 (42/52): Count On Me - Bruno Mars:.

Some of you might know this by now, but last Saturday, I finally dived right in and am now officially in a relationship with Chanty. I won't gab too much about it lest I drown you in mush and all that goofy love-love feeling, but it was the most sensible thing I have done in the past two years, in my opinion. I'm happy, she's happy, and that's really what matters.

This song just so happens to be the song that I dedicated to her because it kinda fits, in all honesty.

Nothing more needs to be said here, except the fact that I sorta started saying we should call each other "Pancakes" and "Cookie", and pretty much on the same day we started doing so, we ran into Bobby Andrews.

It's a sign, I tell you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Why I Still Think Penn And Teller Rule

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Why I Think Penn And Teller Rule:.

Anyone who has known me for long enough probably recognizes that I am one of the biggest fans of Penn and Teller out there. I really think that as a tandem of magicians, they really know how to get the most mileage out of their magic, and have mastered the art of the duo act by the way they have successfully delineated their roles and functions all throughout.

I've been a sucker for Penn and Teller for a while now, and I don't think that's changing anytime soon. While I may be recognized in the Philippines as a mentalist, I have no qualms shifting back into being a magician simply because Penn and Teller made it cool to be as old-school as I want as long as I know how to spin it in a way that's all my own.

While a few other magicians obviously aren't fans of Penn and Teller whether because they are brash and obnoxious, or because they expose secrets, I just can't help but respect how much they have elevated our fine art by being ridiculously visible outside of the magic arena. In fact, Penn and Teller have almost gotten to a point where they are as well-known for their political or religious opinions as they are for their magic, and that's quite an impressive feat in and by itself.

I do cite many influences for my performance style, but none of them have influenced me to the level that Penn and Teller have, and the way I look at magic effects has never been the same ever since. True, they may never be as famous as Blaine or Copperfield, but in being non-poster boys of magic, they have established themselves as people even non-magicians can aspire to, being quick of wit, funny, and outrageous all the same.

It is my hope that at some point, I would make the pilgrimage to Vegas and catch a Penn and Teller show and hopefully shoot the breeze with them afterwards, even for just a couple of minutes. A lot of what I do now, even in the realm of standup comedy, I certainly owe to them. That's just a living testament to how great they really happen to be as magicians in every sense of the word.

It's a shame that the Philippines doesn't appreciate the genius of Penn and Teller nearly as much, though.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Here We Be Cryptic...

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Project 52 (41/52): All Apologies - Nirvana

.:Project 52 (41/52): All Apologies - Nirvana:.

What else should I be? All apologies.

Because really, what else is there to say? The past few weeks have been an eye-opener for me, and I've seen myself in a place I never expected I would be again: a place where I was happy. It wasn't something I was used to, and in all honesty, it was something I didn't believe I was deserving of.

This should've been one of my unsent letters yet again, yet I can't really bring myself to do it at this point. And it wouldn't be the only thing I'm apologizing for on this day, either.

I think Clair put it succinctly: something in me is wired to not allow me to be happy. It is what it is. I can't help it, but at the same time, that isn't the only reason I am the way I am at this point, either. Burning bridges, attempting to mend fences, all these things are just part and parcel of my life, and I doubt things are going to change anytime soon, for better or ill as that may be.

That being said, I recognize I have a lot of work cut out for me, and this song encapsulates how I feel at this point. I *am* all apologies, and I have no idea where I'm headed from here. I believe in my heart I did the right thing, even if it wasn't necessarily the best thing, nor was it the thing that could possibly make me happy.

Doing what is right at the cost of your own happiness and well-being. If that isn't insanity, I don't know what is. Despite that, it is what it is.

As I keep reminding myself, if there's a will, there's a way. If there's none, there's an excuse. It's up to me to understand where I am and where I stand right now, and for all the confusion going on right now, one thing was clear: I did the right thing this once.

I just pray that counts for something at this point.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Because I Keep Having Gigs Over The Weekend

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Because I Keep Having Gigs Over The Weekend:.

And the world can't erase this fantasy...

So yeah, aside from treating myself to an X-Box Kinect, I had a working weekend, hosting for the Alodia's Fantasy pre-screening event, and then Kathy's wedding. Overall, a pretty crazy hectic weekend, but one thing recently turned up that I'm pretty happy about...

... My De Ring is improving ever since I bought that awesome ring from Cosmania a week ago.

I haven't really been doing De Ring much beyond the normal ring-on moves, but now, with the new ring I got, I feel more and more inclined to show off, and I've been improving by leaps and bounds in that department.

I know, I know. Not much of a JAMM update, but really, it's been a crazy weekend, and magic isn't that high up on my priority list at the moment, I'm just glad I still managed to figure out how to talk about magic today, in fact. :P

Friday, October 07, 2011


.:Pretty Exciting Week, Really:.

Here, we get autobiographical again...

For the most part, this week has been pretty crazy, especially since I'm meeting up with old friends over the weekend, and hosting a wedding, as well as another cosplay event. It's been great, although honestly, things could be better.

Nonetheless, one of the highlights of my last week was when Carlos and I met up with a lovely couple for Australia who wanted to see some of the things Metro Manila could offer that you probably wouldn't get from a Lonely Planet guidebook.

We ended up taking them to Dampa in Home Depot that night, and needless to say, it was splendid. As always, the see food diet won out, and we had prawns, scallops, crabs, tuna, snapper, and then some. It was good to know that they enjoyed the sumptuous meal, because swapping stories with them really felt like a genuine cultural exchange all the same. As they would love to say, we totally smashed it that night.

Afterwards, I managed to take them to Tomato Kick, where they were treated to a mostly translated night of standup comedy courtesy of GB, James, Abe, Carlo, Jeps, Ryan, Richie, and yours truly. Practically everyone killed that night, by my estimate, so everyone had a pretty great time all around.

Had it not been for the fact that Steve Jobs passed away this week, this would've been as close to a perfect week as could be for me. Ah, well.

Here's to the rest of the weekend, then. :D

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Project 52 (40/52) : Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5

.:Project 52 (40/52): Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5:.

Just shoot for the stars, if it feels right...

This year, Moves Like Jagger was on top of the Billboard charts when I turned 28. Needless to say, this makes it my song for the year, and what a good choice, really. I guess Westlife can wait another week, but hey, I'm a huge fan of Maroon 5, and I love how they never seem to run out of awesome songs to regale us with.

This tune is ridiculously catchy, and makes you want to learn how to whistle. The tune is stuck in my head, as it has been since last week, so yeah, I think it's hard to go wrong with Maroon 5 leading the charge for my 28th year. The fact that Christina Aguilera's part of this upbeat track doesn't hurt, either.

In any case, when I think about the lyrics a bit more, I find it pretty cool that tributes to Mick Jagger are being made in very creative ways. Nobody expected the Rolling Stones to live on as long as they did, and the music video itself pretty much told the story right there and then.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Three Tips On Doing Magic In (Non-Magic) Conventions

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Magic In (Non-Magic) Conventions:.

After a successful stint of doing magic and even impromptu hosting at this year's Cosmania in SMX, I realized that I have ended up in a very strange niche that I don't see most of my other contemporary Philippine magicians doing at the moment, and that's being a (geek) convention magician. Or mentalist. Or escapologist. Whichever works, really.

I think it's a very different challenge altogether for a magician, particularly when they're not too cognizant of the fact that they're far from the reason people went to the convention in the first place. You are not the main attraction, and as such, you might find the audience significantly less on your side than they normally are when you are considered one of the main attractions.

The thing is, it's often a humbling experience when that happens. One of my first experiences as a performer was the mortifying tepidness I was received with when I did my bit four years ago in Toycon. Here was an unknown doing mentalism immediately after the cosplay event, and, needless to say, the audience didn't care at all. I mean, the main event was the cosplay. Everything else is secondary compared to that, and it would've been a soul-crushing moment for any other performer to have to face such a huge audience giving you nothing but blank stares and infrequent smatterings of polite applause.

Sure, over time, with the right combination of hosting, street magic tours, and onstage performances, I no longer have that problem connecting with audiences in your average cosplay convention, but what if, let's say, I found myself in the trade convention circles, knowing what I know now, what can I do to assure myself of a better experience as a performer than the first time I hit the stage? Well, I have a few ideas, really.

1. Make it clear what you're about to do the minute they see you.

This goes hand in hand with the kind of routines you choose, your performance style, your scripting, and even your introduction. The minute you are there for the public to see, do not assume they already know who you are, much less exactly what it is that you do. Even in the standup comedy circles, I've seen plenty of good comedians bomb solely because people didn't realize the guy onstage was telling jokes. It's good to let the people know what to expect.

2. Don't be a snob: connect with your audience!

This actually should be common sense to the magicians by now, yet I see so many novice performers just going through the motions of their tricks without establishing any rapport with their audience. Precisely because you're not the main event, you can't expect to be disconnected from your audiences and still establish your cred as a performer. It just won't work. You need to connect with them more, whether by chatting them up, or by working in more spectators into your act. The more people who could tell other people about your awesome performance, the more likely your name recognition would grow.

3. You can do intricately drawn-out, engaging, and memorable magic. Pick two of the three then move on.

Let's face it: even if you're an exceptional performer, people didn't come to see you in an anime convention. They came for the cosplayers. With that in mind, yes, you can do an intricate and drawn-out performance, but it will come at the cost of being engaging because of the alienation these performances tend to create with the audience. But that can be memorable, at least.

It's the same with engaging magic: because you engage your audience so much, you will be memorable, too. But don't expect to put on a sleight of hand clinic while trying to build a lasting connection with your audience. Focus on routines that are as sleight-free as possible, or have scripts that are so easy for the audience to understand that you can focus on the patter or presentation more than the actual mechanics of the routines.

I'm certain there are more tips, but hey, these ideas have worked for me over the years. I'd be happy to share any more if they come to mind, but at this point, it's best for you to simply understand the difference between being booked as a magician at a party, and being booked as one in a non-magic convention. It's rather commonsensical to everyone else out there, I'm sure, but in the Philippines, considering how rare it is, I guess I'm in a position to help out with my range of experience.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Emanating From My Stream Of Consciousness

.:Emanating From My Stream Of Consciousness:.

Wrote this a couple of days ago, but decided to still post it, anyways.

Normally, I try being creative about my blog entries because while I’m mostly an autobiographical blogger, I’ve been consciously avoiding the lazy trap of making an online diary out of my blog, full stop. Given the medium, I liked having assorted pictures, bits and pieces of humor, and a host of other features to at least keep strangers interested in reading about the life of someone they don’t even know, much less give a damn about.

Unfortunately, today’s weather isn’t inspiring me to do something like that in any way, let alone the fact that I’m writing this while I’m offline, all the same.

It’s raining cats and dogs right outside, and it doesn’t seem like the weather’s gonna let up anytime soon. It’s almost the way it was two years ago, when the insane weather conditions of Ondoy just really struck this nation unawares.

Was pretty stoked last Friday that we actually tied Waado for first place in Geekfight. I totally killed the Magic: The Gathering round, even if I did happen to forget about Innistrad, which could have single-handedly decided our victory by then. Still, tying for first place isn’t exactly a bad thing, and we did really well there.

I’ve been up to a lot of stuff the past few days, really. I had two shows last Saturday night, including one that serves as my annual show, but due to the nature of it, had to be a little more… subdued than I normally would be when it came to talking about the event. It just seemed tacky to blast everything about it after the fact.

I’ve also been contemplating making a leap in my life: something I haven’t considered doing before, but seems to be the right thing for me to do at this point. I just hope that I’m doing the right thing, because I’m still very confused where all of this is going, to be honest. I think the lengthy discussion we had recently made me feel the desire to take a risk, but also made me recognize that it is quite a risk. Funny how that works. Well, maybe not funny, actually.

Yesterday, ended up watching “Horrible Bosses”. It was funny, but I didn’t see the need to review the film, so I think I’ll pass.

I think I burned some bridges recently, which, I suppose, is for the better. I really don’t need people in my life who antagonize me over F. Sionil Jose and his Ric Flair-y rants about Filipino shallowness, as if shallowness directly accounts for the quagmire this nation is in today. That the working class often find themselves taking to the streets at this point, fighting for their rights, should already be sign enough that people do have the willpower, and even the brain power to rise above pettiness, but clearly, the system that is so entrenched and ingrained in this nation goes far and beyond the depths or the shallowness of the people. Being deep or shallow is one thing. Being prosperous or impoverished is another, and they may very well be mutually exclusive, considering how America is relatively prosperous, yet capable of the kind of shallowness we accuse ourselves of.

I think the fact that there’s neither hide nor hair of the people in question at this point only goes to show me what I need to know. Apparently, a flippant statement about a person is enough grounds to have my trust in a longtime “friend” betrayed. Yeah, that’s beautiful. Remind me not to trust people like that ever again, because it’s just a monumental waste of time.

Considering that I’m turning a year older in a couple of days (today by now, actually...), I have to admit that I feel very ambivalent about everything going on in my life right now. I’m frustrated at so many facets of my life at this point, and the bright spots feel so temporary. I feel as if any good things happening in my life at present aren’t going to last, while the bad things are going to far overstay their welcome. It is what it is. I’m rambling in this post. It’s an incoherent hodgepodge of ideas from my stream of consciousness. Yet it’s the one thing keeping me sane at this point, ironically.

I think that the way my heart has taken a beating has affected my psyche so relentlessly that I can’t help but feel jaded now. I try being optimistic, I try ignoring the sinking feeling I have in my gut, but it’s omnipresent, and it refuses to leave me alone.

Celebrated the Disenchanted Kingdom’s 2nd anniversary by joining them on air. It was pretty awesome, even if we did drop some bombshells on each other that night. It’s all good, though.

So really. Wake me up when September ends. Deep down, a huge part of me still believes I don’t deserve to be happy, and that subconsciously ruins everything good in my life. It’s way past the time to blame anyone else but myself for this.

Then again, looking at all the people wishing me well, I can’t help but feel that the people who supposedly claimed to have cared are also the people conspicuously not saying a word to me today. So much for being “there for you as long as you need me.” It’s definitely been nothing but lip service so far, and I really should stop being surprised.

Every year, on my birthday, I wish for peace of mind.

Every year, I find myself denied of it.

Thanks, everyone, but I’d be lying if I said I was happy about how this all panned out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Thrilla 4 Matela Thank-You List

.:The Thrilla 4 Matela Thank-You List:.

It was done on such short notice, but as the saying goes, if there's a will, there's a way. Thrilla 4 Matela was a smashing success, and we are more than happy to have had a chance to show our love and support for our dearest AJ and his family in our own little way.

I recognize that the cause for this occasion, while undoubtedly worthy, is also a solemn one. Regardless, we believe that this simple celebration was a heartfelt commemoration in song, laughs, and gasps, of the lifes and times of AJ Matela.

Under normal circumstances, I'd be writing about this show much in the same way I've written about similar cause-oriented events I've organized in the past. However, given the nature of the event, I can't do a recap post the same way I would have done in years past. I believe it would be enough to just thank people individually in this post, and piecing together the event that way.

So that being said, let me thank the following people:

Aileen Apolo-de Jesus, for helping us secure the venue.

Geiser Maclang, for lending us the projector, although we didn't use it during the program.

Poyt, for organizing the events page and helping in publicizing the event.

Joyce and LA, for manning the ticket booth, and LA for actually making the tickets himself (And coming back from limbo! Where have you been, dude?).

Ali, Jordan, and the other people from PinoyTuner and Dig Radio, for their generosity in allowing us to use Shift Bar for this worthy cause.

Vin Dancel, for not only performing his awesome music, but even covering the Sugarfree classic "Burnout", which we also thank Ebe Dancel for.

Nino Avenido, Carlos Castana, Julianne, and Evee Simon, for being amazing musicians who really gave music straight from the heart. It was a very great experience for everyone who was there.

Ade Magnaye and the rest of Lose Your Beer Belly, for bringing your awesome music to the table, and Ade, especially for giving very sound advice behind the scenes as we were trying to produce this show.

Stanley Chi, for sharing some laughs with his unique brand of humor.

Micamyx, for the film showing of "12th of June" which was chock full of awesome blogger cameos.

Mike Unson, for capping off the night in an awesome night. When he started doing those relationship jokes, me and an old friend couldn't help but look and laugh at ourselves because Mike was just dead on. It was hilarious and insanely awkward at the same time, which just showed why Mike Unson is one of the best standup comics in this country, bar none.

Definitely, we can't forget the Itchyworms: Jugs, Jazz, Kel, and Chino, for performing that night. It was pretty surreal catching them perform together, let alone an acoustic set, as I asked only Jazz to do a set for this night. Next thing I knew, the whole band was there. I can't thank Kerwin and Julie enough for their kindness.

To the bloggers and friends who went or even just extended their best intentions for this event, even anonymously donating over the course of the night, thank you so much. This goes a long way to help.

Lastly, and most importantly, thank you, AJ. This show came together as our way of showing our gratitude to you for having been an indelible part of our lives. Thanks for the memories, thanks for the friendship, and thanks for simply having been a human being who lived a life well lived. This one's for you, AJ!

Project 52 (39/52): Unwell - Matchbox Twenty

.:Project 52 (39/52): Unwell - Matchbox Twenty:.

Really. I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell...

With all the crazy hurly-burly going on in my life right now, I think this song really hits the spot. I find myself going from day to day, just going through the motions and doing everything it takes to forget that I'm still walking wounded. September couldn't end soon enough. Really, it can't.

Matchbox Twenty is one of my favorite bands of all time. Yeah, I know, a lot of people hate them, but I am a proud fan. This song, along with Sugarfree's "Mariposa" provided two of my personal anthems in 2004-2005, and, needless to say, I really, really like the message of "Unwell", because it just speaks out to everyone who has ever had a bad year or so, and is woefully self-aware of this fact. The kind of pain one has to go through to be fully cognizant of being unwell is unquestionably great, but the optimism of believing that this isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all would be awesome, too.

Matchbox Twenty has had a lot of hits over the years, from "Push" to "Bent" and to a host of other songs, but in my opinion, this is the best one out of their discography, hands down. I just find it very interesting that what I initially thought to be a complete hardcore rock group turned out to be a pretty bleeding-heart one instead - and I'm not even complaining about that, which makes it doubly surprising to me.

In any case, this is one of my favorite songs of all time. Matchbox Twenty has been pretty awesome, and while I know it's tempting to have a Westlife song here because they're having a concert in Manila tomorrow, maybe I should save that for next week. for now, let's just say that this song goes out to everyone who's having a bad time right now. Don't worry: you're not crazy, you're just a little unwell. And you too can get through this.

Like I keep saying every single year: wake me up when September ends. Although, yeah, there's no need to feature Green Day this time, since it's practically tradition by now for me to sing that song...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Three Magicians (Who Were Secretly Badasses)

.:Just Another Magic Monday: The Three Magicians (Who Were Secretly Badasses):.

So while I was reading up on some magicians the past week, I was asking myself how tough it must be to be a magician: technical skill, charisma, performing style, these are just some of the ingredients that make a magician great.

But see, all things considered, I don't really think anyone considered being "badass" as one category for being a great magician, and they'd be right. It's a criteria that doesn't really fit, anyways.

Until today.

After having looked at the magicians then and now, seeing what feats they have accomplished that could count as "badass," I pretty much have a list of the three magicians who absolutely fit this description. It's one thing to do a magic trick, it's another thing to just not give a f**k and still bringing your A-game even when life and limb is at risk.

No, Criss Angel and David Blaine don't fall under "badass" to me at all. Not even Blaine's record-breaking performance impresses me, because he required a lot of medical preparation to do his schtick, whereas these three magicians just ended up being badass by default.

I'd have included Seigfried and Roy here had it not been the fact that their career abruptly ended after the tiger-mauling incident. Sure, surviving that takes toughness, but it's not nearly badass enough.

These three magicians will make you look at the things they do, and make you realize that for all the "fakeness" of magic, they're pretty unbelievable when s**t gets real.

3. Jonathan Pendragon

Nicolas Cage apparently has a long-lost brother.
A lot of us know and love the Pendragons because they are the masters of the male and female duo act. Sure, they have some insane legal troubles here and there, but we love how good this tandem is when they perform their illusions with amazing grace, speed, and choreography. They're practically world-famous for their insanely quick rendition of the Metamorphosis illusion.

It's really quick. Those shots are all animated GIF's.

Yeah, sure, choreography, leotards, illusions. Nothing too badass about that, right? Sure, until you realize that the speeds the Pendragons have achieved in doing the Metamorphosis switch required years of practice. This could only mean one thing: concussions galore.

That explains why he dresses like that!

Without revealing the method, anytime the switch was done during the illusion, there was always the risk of ramming heads along the way. In fact, in the video where the Pendragons teach how the secret is done, they outright mention that Jonathan has been knocked unconscious during a show in the past, and this wasn't the first or the last time that quite an injury has happened.

But yeah, a little concussion here and there isn't what makes Jonathan Pendragon a complete badass: it's the fact that he had a near-fatal accident in 2006 that involved him falling on an arrow, piercing arteries, his stomach, his liver, and even his heart. Now, any other human being would've died right on the spot, but he pretty much ignored mortality for a while, and instead survived the accident and resumed performing a few weeks after the accident. I don't think mortality and Jonathan have gotten back to speaking terms ever since.

Yeah, I think that qualifies as badass right there.

In fact, it's criminally badass! Oooohhh.

2. Harry Houdini

On second thought, nothing looks "secret" about this...

Houdini is often one of the first magicians the average person would recognize, along with David Blaine, David Copperfield, and Harry Potter. Nonetheless, Houdini, as an escapologist by profession, had badass hardwired into his DNA by default. There was no question that his escape acts were, in all honesty, dangerous and life-threatening, and having demonstrated the ability to ignore pain, hold his breath underwater long enough to previously hold a world record, and to suspend himself upside-down for extended periods of time during his straitjacket escapes, Houdini's repertoire by default already qualifies him as badass as can be.

But see, it's not just the inherent risks involved in Houdini's act that set him apart from other performers, but more so, it's his methods that make him just not give a f**k.

Where most of us would use lockpicks to escape from handcuffs and the like, Houdini was famous for dislocating his wrists and shoulders then popping them back into place once he liberates himself from the cuffs or the straitjacket in question.

Pictured: entertainment!

If you've ever had the displeasure of having a joint dislocated, then having it fixed, then you would know how painful those two moments are, and ideally, how much nicer it would be if you could keep those two moments away from each other. Houdini, on the other hand, saw his joints as mere tools that he could dislocate and pop back at a moment's notice, with little regard for how much that whole process actually hurts.

For a small man like Houdini, he was larger than life because he looked at pain in the face and laughed at it maniacally, and unlike Jonathan Pendragon, he did it on purpose.

1. Jasper Maskelyne

He is vanishing the ink on his picture right now. With magic.

Jasper Maskelyne isn't badass because of misadventures he may have experienced while doing magic ala Pendragon. Neither was he badass because of the inherent risks of his illusions or methodologies ala Houdini.

Jasper Maskelyne was a badass simply because he used magic to wage war. A British stage magician, Maskelyne spent the second world war aiding British intelligence and operating in subterfuge by using his skills in magic. Because clearly, a man who dresses like a sorcerer, gesticulates wildly, and makes things appear and disappear from thin air would totally not call any attention to himself whatsoever.

This might shock you, but one of these men is actually a magician. 
Hint: it's not the long-haired douchebag in the center, but you knew that already.

Just a list of his feats on his wikipedia entry alone already details a litany of badassitude: he used his skills in magic for camouflage. He created decoys, including one of a German warship. Whether through subterfuge, deception, or outright chutzpah, Jasper Maskelyne managed to play a significant role in the war with his so-called "Magic Gang," helping keep the Axis powers on their toes because what they see isn't what they get.

And on the side, he entertains the troops, too. How's that for multi-tasking?

True, there have been some people who have challenged Maskelyne's role in the war and the significance of his contributions to the intelligence and counter-intelligence efforts of Britain during World War II, but first of all, if Jasper had the balls to make up all these stories, even write a book or two about his efforts during the war, then that's pretty badass enough in and by itself. Couple this with the fact that while they contest the significance of his role, nobody contests that he actually had a role during the war, and you get the vibe that yes, there is truth to Maskelyne's story, and we all feel like underachievers in the face of a splendid magician and wartime hero who lived to tell the tale.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Profiling The Patriotic Filipino®

.:The Parallels Between A Patriotic Filipino® And An IWC Smark:.

For about a couple of years, I've been writing as an over-the-top character that I obviously patterned after Stephen Colbert. It was much easier to write articles when it was still PGMA's term, because it takes a special kind of idiot to think that any of my articles at the time were seriously singing her praises.

It boggles the mind how this graph was taken seriously.

All the while, I kept making reference to the Patriotic Filipino®, a concept I obviously coined from the more accomplished satirist, Chip Tsao. Often, I've been asked by those who read my attempts at satire exactly what it means to be a Patriotic Filipino, and I haven't really put much thought into that until recently.

One thing I realized is that at its core, the Patriotic Filipino mindset is mired in hypocrisy, but not just any kind of hypocrisy: a self-loathing kind of hypocrisy. The Patriotic Filipino will decry any slight against Filipino pride, but when they're the ones doing the bashing, they quickly place themselves above these pitfalls of the common Filipino. It's both intellectual elitism and boorishness coming together, both blind patriotism and colonial mentality joining forces. Broken down simply, it means we're all prone to it at some point or another, whether it's because we want to migrate from this home we call a hellhole, or because we remember we're Filipino only when Manny Pacquiao has a fight.

Now, I've been a longtime follower of pro wrestling on the internet, and it made me realize that there are a lot of stark similarities between the Patriotic Filipino and the internet smark, especially when it comes to the self-loathing nature of both. While the Patriotic Filipino resents being Filipino to the point of lashing out violently against anyone who reminds them about this, the internet smark resents pro wrestling so much, yet keeps on watching it every single week, anyways.

For the internet smark, John Cena represents everything wrong about pro wrestling today. Here was a man who got into body building, then ended up doing pro wrestling. He's popular with the kids and the women of the WWE Universe, but is booed mercilessly by most of the adult males. He came through the OVW farm league of the company, didn't start out in a whole bunch of indie feds before going to the big leagues, and has held the championship belt for a significant amount of time during his tenure. He rarely loses cleanly, even during handicap matches. He has his infamous five moves of doom, limited abilities, squeaky-clean persona, and panders to the fans. He's a company man, and the internet smark hates John Cena for that.

Shallow. Man, why is the WWE marketing to kids? That would never work!!!
Compare that to a man who hailed from Stu Hart's infamous Dungeon wrestling school. A man who knew from the get-go that wrestling was the career he wanted to be in. A man who has wrestled in Canada, Mexico, Japan, ECW, WCW, before finally heading to the WWE. A man whose crisp execution and technical skill made every internet smark wet themselves in delight. His gimmick was that he needed no gimmick, and he got over solely by his in-ring skill, finally earning the WWE title after 19 long years in the business. It's absolutely unquestionable that a man like that would be every internet smark's darling, right?

Unfortunately, that man was Chris Benoit.

Deep! That hand sign has a hidden meaning, you know...

Chris Benoit was so accomplished a wrestler that internet smarks who worshiped the ground he walked on made excuses for him and tried to look the other way after what he did. People were quick to dismiss his actions whether as the fault of multiple concussions he had suffered throughout his career, or outright insane conspiracy theories involving some massive coverup, or the more benign approach of separating the man outside the ring from the man in the ring.

In every single instance, they tried to soften the blow of Benoit's actions, which, I suppose, is being mighty charitable to the man, but come on! The way they try to divorce this ugly mess from the rest of Benoit's life just so they could continue heaping praise on him is hypocritical in the face of how they have been integrating everything they hated about John Cena just so they could insult every single aspect of his being.

How many of us IWC people even know John Cena personally? Yet so many of us claim he's a douchebag, so many of us profess to know what kind of a monster he is, some of us even associate our own homophobic failings against him all because we think he's not God's gift to pro wrestling. It's a sickening double-standard brought about by blind hate, and how cool it seems to be to boo the popular guy just so you could go against the grain.

I'm pretty certain other aspects of the world fare similarly, if Justin Bieber's rabid hater base is to be believed. Nonetheless, considering the similarities between Patriotic Filipinos and the IWC, it behooves us to learn the lesson from their folly, to be honest. Especially notable would be how the IWC gravitates towards remembering the Attitude era with so much fondness, yet having also been there during the Attitude era, these were the exact same people who wanted The Rock and Steve Austin to go away, yet are now clamoring that they come back. The Patriotic Filipinos did the exact same thing when they begged and pleaded in 2004 for FPJ to lose to GMA in the elections, and the minute they got their exact wish, they begged and pleaded for GMA to go away. They also prayed for Noynoy to run when his mother died, and now that he's our president, they're praying for Noynoy to go away.

We never are content with the status quo, are we? Well, that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it means we remain aware that there is always room for improvement.

One can hope that the Patriotic Filipinos, who wish to love this nation but for any of a myriad factors has a really funny, sometimes unfortunate way of showing it, would figure out for themselves that self-loathing gets us nowhere. Self-criticism, when approached in a constructive manner, would yield us so much more good, and the IWC would be so much better if people recognized this more. The less we complain about how low-brow Jersey Shore is and it has no room guesting in our wrestling programs, the sooner we would realize that pro wrestling isn't exactly the opera, either.

In any case, enough about the IWC at this point. Ultimately, while we have no control how we may feel about the depth or shallowness of the Filipino, or how we feel about people who malign us as a people, whether he be a foreigner or a countryman, what we do have control over is how we publicly react to it. We could trade barbs with them, but if we do not stifle dialogue along the way and prove to everyone why the Filipino people is still worth having faith in, no matter what our pitfalls may be, then yes, there will be less satirical Patriotic Filipinos running around this nation.

That, that is something to aspire for in our own ways: we do this nation proud both as individuals and as a collective.