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!)!