Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Geekfighting + Itchyworms, Oh My!

.:Monday Night: A Very Special Geekfight!:.

No ifs, ands, ors, but a lot of butts...

Last Monday, my team, the Explorers of Uranus, came together to deliver Classic Geekfight in lieu of Paolo, who was enjoying himself in Bangkok since it was, after all, a long weekend. A total of six teams showed up, and after eight rounds of non-stop action plus a special round filled with butt-related stuff that Lolita Complex actually managed to win, it was Waado that was victorious, having also won back-to-back Geekfights much in the same way that the Explorers did.

I'm mighty happy about how well-received my Fighting Game round was, by the way, and much gratitude to my comedian friends like Richie, Noel, GB, Raffy, Chino, and Jeps for making it to B-Side to take part in the Geekfight, even if they heckled the Hades out of me, and made a running joke out of West Sudan.

We are such professionals...

Needless to say, everyone from the Explorers was overjoyed at how successful our first foray into running a Geekfight was, and we actually hope to do it again, as we discussed amongst ourselves over a late but well-deserved dinner at Sinangag Express.

We will do this again soon. Rest assured.

.:Tuesday Night: A Decade Of Little Monsters Under Your Bed:.

It's peering into your soul.

Tuesday night was punctuated by an awesome night spent in 70's Bistro, as I caught the Itchyworms as they played their first major label album in its entirety, which made me realize how awesome their English songs actually are, despite the fact that their next two albums were almost exclusively in Filipino.

It was really an awesome time all around, and I even saw some Japanese fans of the 'Worms, which took me by surprise because they didn't seem to even so much as know a single Filipino word, yet they took to the music like bees to honey. I should've tried striking up conversation with them after the show, but alas, they left too soon.

This was a great night of music, not to mention everyone was laughing their heads off when Moymoy Palaboy took the stage for a bit. That was epic as well.

It's a bit amusing for me to note that despite having known the band for about two years or so already, I still have yet to have a picture with all four of Jugs, Chino, Jazz, and Kel. I think I should remedy that soon.

Here's to the 10th Anniversary of "Noontime Show" in 2016! I'm counting on you guys!

Project 52 (35/52): Karma Police - Radiohead

.:Project 52 (35/52): Karma Police - Radiohead:.

Arrest this man.

Thanks to Paul London Tweeting about this song in reference to Matt Hardy and the fact that Mr. Hardy decided to make a hoax suicide note as a cry for attention, I couldn't help but have "Karma Police" stuck in my head all day long.

Now, in general, I do like Radiohead, especially since "Creep" and "High and Dry" are two of the best songs in the entire universe, but "Karma Police" took quite a while before it grew on me, especially since I didn't really sit down to understand the lyrics the first few times I heard it.

In the end, I think I understand that it's really a song about people getting what they give. Karma Police, indeed, reminds people that there's a bit of cosmic justice in the world, and the Karma Police, more often than not, manages to do their jobs. It's the fact that there are some glaring omissions at times that makes them so worthy of being mentioned, but the times where the Karma Police actually works out just fine? Well, they're so commonplace, it's hardly worth talking about.

I suppose therein lies the rub, as far as I can tell: that while I devote myself to someone without getting anything in return, I can't help but giving nothing in return to someone else who would attempt to do the same for me, simply because I don't have it in me at all.

So with that in mind, I guess the Karma Police ought to arrest me at some point, too? Or am I merely doling out Karma to someone else at this point, while I'm receiving all sorts of bad juju from elsewhere?

Interesting, really.

And apparently, I'm a little too light-headed to indulge in some pop philosophy to explain this song. I just figure that hearing it so many times today because I put it on loop is an attempt by my subconscious to tell me something, albeit what that something is, I may not really know at this point.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Random Roundup For The Long Weekend...

.:Freethinkers Triumphant!:.

I have never seen Red Tani, a(n) (in)famous atheist put his hands together in prayer before, but a few moments before Ms. Maria Ressa announced who was "The One" in the Globe Tatt awards, I saw him making the sign of the cross. Now, whether or not he meant that as a joke, I still hope someone photographed him in the act, because it was just golden.

Shortly afterwards, "Filipino Freethinkers" was announced, and I ended up giving them a standing ovation from where I was. I may not be a charter or committee member, but I support their cause despite being a Roman Catholic apologist, having contributed a couple of articles to them already, with plans for more in the near future.

It's a great victory for secularism in a country as steeped in religious grandstanding as the Philippines. True, it could be worse, but now, the Filipino Freethinkers is making it better, and that's really what matters.

Last night's meetup, which I attended late because I had an MTG tournament, was pretty awesome, too. We talked about a ton of stuff, including the gay vocabulary, standup comedy, geekfighting, and yeah, James Soriano.

It was pretty good to know that pretty much all the winners were definitely deserving of their accolades, to say the least.

.:Hitting The Stride:.

My last time out with the Disenchanted Kingdom was hilarious. Unbelievably so.

KDL's new game, "Stupid answers to stupid questions," really hit the spot for everyone, and when I gave my answer to that annoying question people ask when they see you in a picture being all sweet with someone, everyone in the booth just laughed their heads off before remarking how wrong it was.

Hey, Kel! Ang hot naman ng girl na kahalikan mo! Girlfriend mo ba yan?

Bakit? Masama bang makipag-laplapan sa ate ko?

That just really stunned everyone. Heh.

Just Another Magic Monday: Raising The Bar

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Raising The Bar:.

So, tell me... which of these people held you up at gunpoint again?

Aside from the fact that the awesome people from Nuffnang Australia swung by the Philippines a few weeks ago, I even had the pleasure of hosting the 10th birthday party of Teriyaki Boy in Eastwood recently. Whether it was the awesome dance moves of Moo and T-Boy or the great costumes from the cosplayers who joined that day, or even the Happy Lemon drink I was introduced to by my co-host Erin and her man, it was quite an experience that really made me understand the need for being a multi-dimensional performer.

It's not much of a secret, but as some of my friends know, with each breakup I've had, I ended up getting professionally involved with something. Before, it was magic and mentalism, and now, it's standup comedy. When it comes to the Philippines, where magicians are still considered a dime a dozen, people need to do what they can to stand out, and that's why most of the best magicians you will know of in this country are equally known for something else.

For instance, The Boss, Rannie Raymundo, is considered a veritable Renaissance Man. He does magic, true. Outside of that, he is also well-known as an OPM artist, having composed excellent music over the years, resulting in multiple gold and platinum records to his name. You talk about Jeff Tam, and you could very well be talking about the fact that he's an internationally-awarded magician, or the fact that he's a TV comedian, or the fact that he's a well-known tattoo artist.

In my foray as a Philippine magician and mentalist, I've branched out into standup comedy as well, and I've been doing respectably for the past two years I've been at it. Needless to say, it has been a great experience for me to open for Mike Unson as I have been doing, what with our shows in Capone's A Venue, every 10PM on a Friday night. Performing comedy in a bar setting is usually expected, but doing magic in a bar setting is admittedly a bit harder, even for people who actually do it for a living.

It's something I've been doing for quite a while already, though, and mixed and matched with standup comedy, it produces quite a lethal package.

Not pictured at all: mediocrity.

In fact, last Saturday, in The Grillery, Mike and I had a phenomenal show, despite the torrents of rain pouring down throughout the night. It was my first time to perform in The Grillery, so I was pleased as punch to know that we had a great show that night, although when your night is being capped off by a Mike Unson comedy show, I fail to see how that can't be a great show, really.

I find performing in bars to be among my favorite situations to perform magic in. When the audiences are inebriated by juuuust the right amount, they tend to be even more appreciative than any other audience you could ever hope for.

And speaking of a magical Monday, why don't you celebrate your work-free Monday night with this?

Stay classy, Explorers!

Indeed, my awesome team is hosting tonight's Geekfight, so come one, come all. It doesn't matter if you've never attended a Geekfight before. Once you're there, it'll all come naturally to you, I promise.

See you guys at B-Side tonight!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Language, Lifestyle, Privilege, Perspective : What The Language Of The Learned Truly Is

.:It's Only Words, And Words Are All I Have To Take Your Heart Away...:.

Before I get into this, Ruffy Biazon, a man I truly admire and respect, pointed out the inconsistency of people who defended Mideo Cruz for blaspheming Jesus Christ and then proceeded to assail James Soriano for "blaspheming" the Filipino language, as it were, during Buwan ng Wika itself.

Allow me to demonstrate my consistency on these matters.

Okay. That's settled.

That being said, in an article yesterday, obvious Atenean James Soriano discussed Filipino as a language in a less than flattering light.This article has been taken down by Manila Bulletin already, but I found a cache of the article thanks to some of my friends.Allow me to preface this by pointing out I am writing in English right now, so no, I am not going to get into a blind Patriotic Filipino® rage and make a sacred cow of our language. That completely defeats the purpose of opening this discussion, and reeks of hypocrisy in light of the impassioned defense against Mideo's right to blaspheme. Our language is not immune to criticism, but then, neither is Mr. Soriano's argument. This is also why I was disappointed that the article was taken down. It has engendered discussion on the role of language in one's life, and I personally believe this is a good thing that shouldn't have been stifled.

I believe that the sticking point to most people who are indignant over the article was the notion that "Filipino is not the language of the learned." It reeks of intellectual elitism and privilege, which, to Mr. Soriano's credit, he never once denied.

It's just that... nobody really understood what he was trying to get across, and the onus was on him to have chosen his words carefully and concisely to do so, since it was his article, and name-dropping Fr. Bulatao just because he can just feels like such a predictable thing a typical pretentious pseudo-intellectual Arrnean would do.

Mr. James Soriano, the language of the learned isn't English, Filipino, Cebuano, French, Spanish, Latin, whale, Klingon, or anything else of the sort. The language of the learned is well thought out. The language of the learned is characterized by one's deliberate choice of words, regardless if those words are uttered in English,Filipino, Cebuano, French, Spanish, Latin, whale, Klingon, or anything else of the sort.

I bear no ill will towards you, not just because I believe you are entitled to your opinion, but simply because your upbringing likewise prevents you from truly expressing yourself in Filipino in a manner that you could deem as "educated." Which is why ultimately, your via negativa thesis statement should have been "Filipino is not the language of my education."

There will be others who will learn and can only learn primarily through Filipino. Or English. Or any other language. The choice of the language itself does not dictate whether or not it is learned or civilized. It is the exercise of choosing the words carefully and then expressing them clearly and concisely that dictates how learned one actually is.

Thus, to dissociate myself from people who disagree with Mr. Soriano solely on the basis of him dissing our national language instead of disagreeing with him on the universality of his statements, I would like to point out that saying "P****g i*a mo, James Soriano, bakla ka, mamatay ka na!" is no more or less learned than saying "F**k you, James Soriano, you're a f****t, go die in a fire."

In both cases, you are being a boor who lets your feelings get the better of you instead of responding to the issue the way a learned person actually would.

And really now, being learned has little to do with where you graduated from or how much money you make. It has much more to do with your own temperament and the way you choose to respond to situations. Heaven knows a lifestyle of privilege didn't give Mr. Soriano the perspective to understand how the learned could very well express themselves in Filipino if they choose to do so.

Language will always have its limitations with the built-in capacity for growth. We realize that every time we add a new word to the dictionary the way "Tweeting" and "bromance" have been added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year. As such, no single language would have a monopoly on learnedness. We heard this before during the middle ages when they believed only Latin speakers were educated. We really shouldn't be making the same mistake again.

I do not resent you one bit, Mr. James Soriano, nor do I pity you. I believe you are learned enough to realize that your life experience and your privilege is not enough perspective for you to cast your net so wide in your attempt to speak for everyone.

Sa katapusan ng araw, kahit ano pa ang sabihin natin, may karapatan si Ginoong Soriano na ihayag ang kanyang saloobin. Marahil, nakakalungkot para sa ibang mga tao na hindi lubusan ang pag-yakap ni James sa kanyang pambansang wika, subalit hindi rin ba tayo nasasakdal sa tuwing pinagtatawanan natin ang Cebuano dahil sa tingin natin, kapag probinsyano magsalita ang isang tao, hindi siya edukado? Pare-pareho tayong nagkakamali sa pag-iisip ng ganyan, at ang kahalagahan ng inilathala ni James ay ang pagkakataong ginagamit natin ngayon upang talakayin ang mga punto at kontra-punto ng kanyang isinulat.

Ito ang pagkakataon na imulat ang ating isipan at alalahanin kung ano ang tunay na marka ng wika at pananalita ng edukado.

Sa huli, kahit Ingles, Tagalog, o Swardspeak pa, ang sariling wika ang mahalaga, kahit na ang wikang itinuturing mong "sarili" ay hindi ang pambansang wika. Ika nga ni Gat Jose Rizal, na isinalin sa Swardspeak...

"Ang wiz mag-Mahalia Fuentes sa sariling wiketch ay mas Smellanie Marquez pa sa echoserang frogette. Trulalu, walang halong eklavu."

Mabuhay ang wika ng tunay na edukado.

Long live the language of the truly educated.

ADDENDUM: In light of Mr. Soriano's sister's attempt to play the satire card in Tumblr, I would like to point out that even if someone writes poorly to emphasize an ironic point about one's mastery of the language, it is still agonizing to read, precisely because it is poorly written.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Finally Caught A Glimpse Of The Husky Boy, Rex Navarette!

.:Rex At Resorts World!:.

Everybody should've watched this! It's a good for you!

Resorts World brought in Fil-American comedian Rex Navarette for a night of laughter, bringing down an entire theater filled with comedy fans into a writhing morass of chuckles, chortles, and guffaws. Three comics shared the stage that night, from 2008's Lafapalooza 2 winner, Noel Gascon, to the inimitable 2005 Comedy Wars Grand Champion, Mike Unson, to the main event, Rex.

It was pretty awesome just getting there, actually. Ran into so many people, as I rode with Ethel, ran into Achie, then hung out with GB, Richie, Ryan, and had dinner with Elaigh and Chad, then finally capped off with just shooting the breeze with Mike, Pam, and Rex himself in Opus.

Rex even told me that he wants to see my magic show next time live, because he said he was sick of all that "recorded shit." Can't say I disagree with him there...

I was actually pretty surprised how affordable it was in Resorts World, because I full-on expected tourist prices all the way, only to find out that it was pretty much affordable prices everywhere. It was a pleasant surprise, and my surprise turned into uncontrollable, hysterical laughter the minute we got into our seats.

Noel opened the night with his manic, frenetic style that got the crowd pumped and laughing. He was on fire and everything he did, even his bloopers, just connected with the audience with hardly any effort whatsoever. By the time he did his PAGASA joke, everyone was applauding him wildly as he just owned the performance.

As soon as he passed the stage to the great Mike Unson, Mike proceeded to keep the laughs going and he acted with the knowledge that the whole audience was completely in the palm of his hand, like a charismatic actor at his own fan's day. It was amazing how Mike just conquered the jitters he was apparently feeling and made more than just a respectable set to get everyone primed for Rex.

Rex Navarette, as predicted, was a house on fire. His jokes were just really hitting all the right notes with the crowd, and the true testament to his amazing skill is the fact that when he finished his set, nobody noticed that he went two hours, and everyone was still clamoring for more. Considering that word has it, Rex will be back this November, the whole auditorium packed with comedy fans may very well get their wish.

During the after-party, I just shot the breeze with the performers for the night in a quiet spot in the club. It was hilarious though when we had a slight misadventure at the end of the night as Mike and I looked clueless where Rex and the rest were. Conversations were animated all the way 'til four in the morning, and everyone was undoubtedly still on a high.

Of course, the highlight for me was this:

If great punchlines could kill, these guys would cause genocides.

Congratulations on an excellent show, Rex, Noel, and Mike! Looking forward to your next ones, whether together or individually.

And speaking of "next ones," Mike will be having a show in Capone's, A Venue this Friday, around 10PM, and I'll be opening for him.

On Saturday, he will have a show in Grillery in Saguijo, and yup, I'm opening for him as well.

Stay safe, and let the laughter into your life!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Project 52 (34/52): Better In Time - Leona Lewis

.:Project 52 (34/52): Better In Time - Leona Lewis:.

And now, we do this from scratch.

For some reason, my post for this didn't get published properly, so I have no choice but to rewrite it. Feh. That being said, the lady known as Leona Lewis, the first winner of the talent search "X-Factor," truly took the world by storm with her music with her powerful and distinct voice coupled with her sheer charisma.

As an appropriate sequel to last week's Project 52 song, I figured this song would be good as a positive followup. Truth be told, I'm still bummed from last week, and everyone feeling the same way could probably use a picker-upper of an anthem in the form of this song.

When I think about this song, and how things do indeed get better in time, I remember that Korean film, "Love's Concerto." It was a really great film, to say the least, and one of my favorite scenes was when Cha Tae Hyun explained how he got over his lost love. First, he thought about her a hundred times a day, every day. Then, at some point, he thought of her ninety-nine times. Then, ninety-eight. And then he began to forget how her nose was shaped, or what color her hair was the last time they met.

With time, the hurt of isolation and the pain of loneliness subsided. Not because of any concerted effort to make it so, but of focusing only on the here and now, not the what has been or what will be. It's one step by agonizing step, and it helped him make it through.

I hope that for everyone, it could indeed all be better in time. I'm strongly reminded of the Adele song, "Someone Like You," although unlike Adele, I won't "wish nothing but the best for you."

I don't wish you ill anyways. Let that be enough.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday (Supposedly): Penn And Teller Ask To Be Fooled

.:Just Another Magic Monday Tuesday: Penn And Teller Ask To Be Fooled:.

Faaaake!!! Needs more blood and guts to be Penn and Teller.

I can't believe I haven't written about this show yet, because it is just a beauty.

Penn and Teller: Fool Us is a show that has been running for a while already on British television, marking the second attempt by the dynamic duo at having a television show specifically aimed at a British audience, after "The Unpleasant World Of Penn And Teller."

The premise is really simple - Penn and Teller want to bring the best and the brightest to the biggest stage of 'em all for working magicians: Las Vegas. If you can perform magic and by the end of it, Penn and Teller couldn't figure out your method, then you will become one of their opening acts in their Vegas show. If not, well, what is probably your best magic trick gets dissected to pieces for anyone with half a brain to duplicate.

Excellent entertainers like John Archer and Graham Jolley have already made the cut, and overall, this show has really gotten a lot of buzz and interest because of its very unique format. Obviously, old-school magicians are very worried about exposure, but to that I say, "pah." I honestly do not feel that Penn and Teller hurt magic whenever they expose magic. In fact, they make it more interesting to the layperson, because here are a couple of excellent magicians who are cavalier about magic secrets, because really... it doesn't matter.

Why? Because they can, that's why. And screw everyone else, that's why.

Penn and Teller are the reason why I can watch Valentino do his worst and just snigger at how misguided his efforts are. Penn and Teller are the reason I can look at all the exposure in the world and take it with a grain of salt, although I'm sure being a fan of the equally "fake" world of professional wrestling had a lot to do with my mentality, really.

People know that magic is fake. Yes, that includes all the psychological and scientific background holding up mentalism very tenuously while lesser mentalists squander the goodwill brought about by incorporating charlatanry in the middle of their schtick.

Penn and Teller said it best: when you watch a magic show, you know you're being fooled. It's an unspoken contract. The line is drawn when you don't know you're being fooled, which is exactly the problem I have with the likes of psychics who claim they can talk to the dead or find kidnap victim's bodies just by holding a piece of their clothing (And a few thousand dollars in compensation, obviously.).

It is because of this that I believe "Fool Us" is a brilliant show, consequences be damned. People who use the show as an excuse to look down on magic will always find another one, anyways. Meanwhile, people who find it amazing how much work goes behind every act would develop a deeper appreciation for the craft, and I've seen more of that than the latter when it comes to this show.

Here's hoping for an Asian version. I would willingly let my best routine be dissected and potentially even exposed by Penn and Teller just for a chance to meet these two fine performers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dahil Ito Ang Araw Ng Wika...

.:Dahil Ngayon Ang Araw Ng Wika...:.

... At dahil ito ang Linggo ng Wika, at Buwan ng Wika, nais ko lamang managalog kahit minsan.

Medyo nakakalungkot naman isipin na para sa iba sa aking mga kababayan, ito na ang buod ng kanilang pagiging makabayan: isang araw sa isang buwan saisang taon, at magiging pagpapatuloy ng utak kolonyal lamang ang natitirang tatlong daan at animnapu't apat na araw sa loob ng isang taon.

Nawa'y magsilbing paalala ang araw na ito kung gaano kaganda at kalalim ng ating wika. Aminado ako na dahil sa kasanayan at sa dami ng aking mga mambabasang banyaga, mas madali magsulat sa Ingles para sa akin, ngunit hindi ko maipagkakaila na dahil kinagisnan ang wikang ito, mas madaling bumalik sa Filipino kapag may nais akong ipahiwatig...

At trulalu walang halong, eklavu, ka-join na rin ang Swardspeak sa Baklabularyo ng Pinoy, kaya't Afraidy Aguilar na lang ang mga shunga na wiz nila ako ma-Getchie Agbayani. 


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Double Film Review : Cowboys And Aliens, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank

Obviously, in both cases, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

.:Film Review: Cowboys And Aliens:.

Yes, Trixie gets top billing over Daniel Craig...

Cowboys And Aliens
Unexpectedly good.

Sometimes, going in with low expectations for a movie can end up giving us a pleasant surprise, and that's how things turned out in last week's Nuffnang film premiere for Cowboys And Aliens, of course, brought to us by Pizza Hut in Gateway Cinemas.

The pizza was divine!!!

Thing is, the whole night was made more interesting because Pizza Hut played such a significant role in it. Whether it was their pep rally demanding "hot pizzas", or the dance number from the Pizza Hut riders after they delivered fresh and hot pizzas to every single person in the theater, or even Edgar Caper's excellent hosting to complement mine, the night was already filled with joy and excitement from the get-go, and by the time the movie reel started churning, everyone was pleasantly surprised.

Cowboys and Aliens was, admittedly, riddled with bad reviews all around. Despite that, on paper, it was hard to go wrong with two genres that often make a dent in the box office, and then James Bond + Indiana Jones. And you know what? If you don't come into the film expecting anything more than a popcorn flick, then you're going to be pleasantly entertained.

Set in an alternate Old West period where aliens existed and attacked a town, Cowboys and Aliens follows the tale of a small town who discovers the need to band together and fight as one against an advance alien force scouting the planet for possible domination. Describing the film beyond that would probably result in creating expectations for this film, which would probably yield only disappointment, so let's talk about what made this film work.

First of all, this film had the right amount of thrills, chills, and spills. It had moments of fun, it had moments of suspense, and it even had a cute albeit trite attempt at character development. Combining all of these things, the film managed to prove that even when handed a less-than-stellar script, actors like Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford could chew up the scenery enough to make the film entertaining.

This movie, to be honest, isn't something I'd pay to watch on the big screen. I'd gladly catch it on DVD or on HBO a year from now, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it in the cinemas. Despite that, it doesn't make this a bad movie at all: this film is simply something that everyone wrote off as balderdash, only to prove everyone better. It isn't smelly, stinky excrement; it's actually rather pungent, so unless you come in with high expectations, Cowboys And Aliens is certainly worth a watch.

Fun Evaluation: B
Critical Evaluation: C+

.:Film Review: Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank:.

This movie stinks. Because it's supposed to.

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank
Indie-cative of our life and times.

Eugene Domingo is one of the best local actresses of this decade, and there is no doubt that she has the chops to pull smart but mainstream-appealing comedy thanks to her crossover charisma.

What none of us expected was that she would have enough range to also be credible enough as a serious actress worth her weight in gold.

"Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank" is a brutally hilarious deconstruction of the typical Filipino indie film, usually marked by an insatiable appetite for exploiting poverty as a topic at every given turn, and focusing on showing the "dark underbelly of urban Manila." It's rather unfortunate, but you see so many of these films that it feels like a veritable crutch whenever Pinoy filmmakers attempt to touch on these specific themes.

Following the tale of a fledgling movie director, his ambitious buddy producer, and their imaginative production assistant, the film reflects sensibilities you can truly expect from your average indie production focused on winning awards instead of just coming up with a quality movie. Even one of my least favorite people, Kean Cipriano, deserves props for an excellent effort at portraying a pretentious artsy douchebag, but I guess that just comes naturally for him.

Laughs and meta-commentary plus a bit of musical flavor on top of everything. This film had it all, and the fact that the indie filmmakers welcomed a deconstruction of this nature with open arms can only bring hope that the Philippine indie film community is growing up beyond the dreary morass it has been initially.

No question about it: this film is a must-see.

Fun Evaluation: A (Would've been perfect if it didn't follow the formulaic dragging style of certain indie films too well...)
Critical Evaluation: A+

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Project 52 (33/52): Just When I Needed You Most - Dolly Parton

.:Project 52 (33/52): Just When I Needed You Most - Dolly Parton:.

Dolly Parton and her two huge advantages... her personality, and her timeless voice. What were you thinking?

This song really reflects how I'm feeling today, realizing after more than two years that maybe, just maybe, I have some pretty rough abandonment issues. Failing that, this song really just hits the right notes with me, and with anyone else who lost someone even when that person still meant the world to them, for whatever reason it may be.

Dolly Parton is a legend. Her telltale voice tugs at your heartstrings from the first time she opens her mouth, and she really can tell a story just with how she can make her voice tremble when she sings. When she's singing a sad song, it isn't hard to imagine her crying and teary-eyed while she's at it.

That being said, "Just When I Needed You Most" is an honest plea to understand why just when you needed someone the most, they would walk out of your life. It's painful and it leaves one confused and perhaps, in some cases, even losing the will to live, and hey, it's the human condition.

I've been down that road, and though I'm not exactly in the clear yet, I just want to share this song with everyone who is down that road with me today. Sometimes, friends and loved ones do leave you just when you need them most. But not everyone will. And for what it's worth, music, the kind that tugs at your heartstrings and lifts your spirits just when everything is at its bleakest, won't ever leave you. Even when you don't have a radio or an MP3 player or anything, the music in your heart will be the comfort that you will find.

Is it an easy cure-all? Of course not. The pain may, in fact, be magnified by the fact that every song tells a story. Despite that, the pain also reminds you that you're still very much alive, and if only to see that pain ease away with each passing day, it would be enough of a reason for you to find the will to live on.

I apologize. Perhaps I am not very good at comforting others, but I can only offer you the notion that you aren't alone in this, and if I can survive the hurt and the isolation, then so can you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


.:Back On The POC!:.

So, after a brief interval, I'm back with a couple of new articles on The POC.

First, I wished "Get Well Soon!" to GMA.

Then, I played an old childhood game: One Of These Is Not Like The Other. I'm sure Jacque Bermejo, Christopher Lao, and Migz Zubiri would all be proud.

As I go along and do more and more of this stuff, I realize that I want to be known as a multi-faceted person, given how I'm in radio, magic, comedy, mentalism, political commentary, philosophy, and showbiz commentary, among other things. It's something I've been cultivating for years because being one-dimensional is just too bland for my tastes.

.:Speaking Of Comedy...:.

I won't be there tonight most likely, but the Comedy Cartel will be having its regular open mic comedy show in Tomato Kick Katipunan at 10PM. It's a free show, so there's no reason to miss it if you're in the area.

This coming Saturday, Mike Unson and yours truly will be hitting the stage of Capone's in Makati's A Venue at 10PM to deliver nothing but the best comedy you can shake a stick at. And yup, it's free, too!

And of course, on August 24, Rex freaking Navarette will be in town, and you can catch his show in Resorts World! Mike Unson will also be opening for the man.

August 26, you'll see us again at Capone's!

Then on August 27, you have this...

A blast, no doubt.

This will be my first time performing in Grillery, so I'm pretty excited about it. Things are cooking, and it's going to be one hellaciously awesome ride.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: The Fascination With The Berglas Effect

.:Just Another Magic Monday: The Fascination With The Berglas Effect:.

Before anything else, I need to thank for giving me an unexpected traffic spike last week because they discussed the Berglas effect, and everyone and their mother apparently wanted to find out how it was done.

See, I didn't want to milk traffic out of an effect I currently do not perform in my repertoire. True, I have several methods that achieve similar results in the eyes of a layman, but let's be honest here: the beauty of the Berglas effect is that "Any Card At Any Number" is a script so simple yet so amazing, that adding extraneous details to the performance only mars the beauty of the effect. It isn't a mystery why people still call this the "Holy Grail" of card magic. David Berglas is legendary, and his achievements both within and without the magic industry are just unbelievable.

Only Kurt Angle displays his achievements more prominently.

I didn't just write about Berglas again solely for the hits, though, but rather, because I believe that as time goes by, David Berglas has been revealing his method in packets, this time pretty much telling everyone exactly how he does it in a fairly new book written by Richard Kaufman, entitled "The Berglas Effects." This is rather pricey at $140, but it's worth it in that it comes with the book, 3 DVD's, and even 3D glasses.

I'll tell you this much, though: I have the DVD's on me, but not the book. And I haven't mustered the time or effort to go through the DVD's just yet. Let me tell you why.

While I obviously won't be revealing the so-called secret to the Berglas Effect, I do believe a lot of it has become just a mish-mash of reality and exaggeration. Even in earlier material written about the ACAAN routine, it has been thoroughly explained already that Berglas will only call the ACAAN out as a miracle after he actually does it, which, to me, is the biggest hint how this routine works.

If you had a person shuffle a deck randomly and then asked him to name any card, and he turns over the top card and it turns out to be the named card, it is absolutely miraculous to the person you did it to, obviously. I mean, how can you go wrong with that, right? You never even held the cards! The thing is, if it goes wrong, is it going to be such a big deal? Obviously not. You play it off as a joke, or take the cards from him and do a different trick, and quietly move on. I believe that a large chunk of the mystique of the Berglas Effect owes to this fact.

It's rather similar to the way cold reading works on people who want to believe a fortune teller/medium/quack is the real deal: as they say thirty things about the mark, the mark focuses only on the one or two things the charlatan actually got right, but ignores the rest he got wrong. As such, when you combine the no-risk factor of doing something seemingly impossible then ignoring it when it goes wrong, and the willingness to ignore those botches when it does go right, you can already tell that there's a huge element of chance that Berglas games in his favor.

This isn't to discount other methods available to Berglas, of course: manipulation. Sleight of hand. Weasel words and equivocation. All of these things are available to him, and the only reason we believe otherwise is because we were spoiled by the Marc Paul video that appears to be as clean as can possibly be. At no point in the original Britland book did it ever say that Berglas performed this effect only in one way. In fact, Britland emphasized how Berglas masterfully improvised on the spot, whether he used manipulation, or equivocation, or outright used concepts like stacks, or if he had the opportunity present itself, he would possibly do it with a borrowed deck, or if all else fails, he'll just take the named card and do an ambitious card routine with it instead, nobody realizing that he was actually going for the Berglas Effect.

Does this reveal anything about how he does it? No, not really. I do believe the new book does that, though, in that it shows David Berglas's handling and tips and the ways he improvises upon any given situation. Despite that, I don't believe that you can easily incorporate the Berglas Effect into your repertoire after making this picture, simply because I doubt the book has managed to outline all the alternatives and possibilities that might turn up during performance. It will take a lot of trial and error, and it will take a lot of hand-waving when you get it wrong.

And really, in the realm of magic and mentalism, that's what truly matters, in my book: when something amazing happens, you better be sure you know bloody well how to milk it for what it's worth, and when something goes wrong, you better have the ability to dance around it whether by playing it for laughs or making it all look like it's part of the show and not a mistake. The Berglas effect, when viewed in its entirety, will probably require a lot of work that the book may or may not cover, but the book is meant to help you apply the concepts of the effect into more elements of your performance as well. I believe that it has value, but it also, in my eyes, establishes that the Berglas Effect isn't quite like those tricks you normally see on Theory 11 or Ellusionist, where the secret is readily explainable. In this case, it clearly isn't, and that's probably because getting to the thunderous crescendo of the Berglas Effect requires a lot of factors being lined up painstakingly and on the fly, and then being immediately abandoned for something else if certain factors simply refuse to cooperate.

So if the Berglas Effect is really just one effect with tons of different handlings, methods, and approaches, how do we account for the particular version done by Marc Paul, which seemed so clean, simple, and unimpeachable? Well, any mentalist worth their salt would probably know how most of the clean and *too* mind-boggling mentalism effects are performed without a stooge or an accomplice.

Dare I say what that principle is? Well, I guess I can use the vague term for it: dual reality. Beyond that, I doubt the Magic Mafia would like me to reveal the actual principle at work.

If you're at least a half-competent performer, you'd probably already know what I'm talking about. If you're not, then obviously, this article wasn't written for you. In the end, I can definitely guarantee similar results on television if I utilized the same principle. It's just that... I'm not very comfortable with this method. I strongly believe that the only thing to the show ought to be just the show itself and perhaps, at most, the lasting effects after it.

And now, I do believe I've said too much. Still, with so many versions of the ACAAN routine out there, it's just unbelievable that only Berglas gets such legendary acclaim for it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Project 52 (32/52): Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People

.:Project 52 (32/52): Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People:.

A song you won't hear much on Virginia Tech for a long while.

In light of all the school shootings that have happened over the years, a song directly referencing the idea hasn't been done this conspicuously since the Boomtown Rats went with "I Don't Like Mondays." Foster The People used a deceptively upbeat melody to hide a pretty grim song in the lyrics. When you sing along to it, it sounds like some kind of idyllic song about simpler times, until you hear him sing about running from a gun.

It's a catchy tune, with a very telltale beat you can't help but take notice of. I don't really know much about Foster The People as a group, but this is just really great music, regardless of one's objections to the lyrics. I definitely am a fan of this band now, after everything's been said and done.

Also, I removed the music video I *embedded* due to a certain claim against my blog. Clearly, the bigwigs are afraid that this blog would make a song about shooting people at school somehow remind people of... shooting people at school. Well, whatever. I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it.

Just look the song up on YouTube if you wanna give it a listen, then.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: A Recap Of Shoot Ogawa In Manila!!!

.:Just Another Magic Monday: A Recap Of Shoot Ogawa In Manila!!!:.

So is that "L" and "M" for "Liquid Metal"?

As I promised, I will going to cover the fact that international superstar Shoot Ogawa actually went to the Philippines to give a lecture and even a hands-on workshop for all the magicians out there last Wednesday. For the paltry sum of 1,500, you would be given the opportunity to not just witness some of the best magic this side of the globe, but even learn from him, and figure out what makes him tick. Man, you really get your money's worth for 1,500 pesos.

Pictured: Me, getting my money's worth. Mmm-hmmm.

I got to the venue with some time to spare that night, and I was surrounded by an array of all sorts of performers, and immediately, I knew this was going to be a pretty awesome time. Flanked by fellow Magic: The Gathering players Morris and Redmond, I sat down and saw a veritable who's who of Philippine magicians: while a few notable names were absent, you couldn't possibly throw a sponge ball in that room without hitting a performer who has at least guested on television at least three times already.

That being said, what really amazed me about Shoot wasn't just his mind-boggling dexterity and his amazing skill at handling coins, thimbles, cards, and linking rings. What really, really made me take notice of him was the fact that he put into words what I've been trying to express about the difference between learning some tricks and doing actual magic: it's the power behind pantomime.

When someone makes a coin disappear, or pulls a card from thin air, someone doing tricks is thinking about the mechanics behind the act: in effect, he is literally just going through the motions, as it were. I loved how Shoot Ogawa put it: you are too busy copying what Jeff McBride does without even knowing why Jeff McBride is doing what he does.

The way a person moves and acts as a magician is marked by his ability to delude himself: that he is indeed making a coin disappear, that he is indeed pulling a card from thin air. In doing this, he can convince those watching him that he's really doing a magical act, and not just assembling a puzzle people have to break down to figure out. This self-delusion is a necessary ingredient for the vissimilitude one requires in order to maintain the suspension of disbelief in any magical or even mentalist act.

I never quite knew how to put all of that into words until I heard it from Shoot. I've been vaguely pointing in that general direction all these years, as I watch wannabe magicians doing technically excellent moves, yet not having an ounce of magic oozing out of their act. It boggled my mind why this was the case, and how I could best address this phenomenon. Shoot summed it up perfectly when he discussed the notion of the pantomime.

Anyways, I won't bore you with the details too much. Needless to say, it was a really good workshop, and we certainly learned a lot and got our money's worth. I even picked up a couple of DVD's from the man, and am aching to use his version of the 3-card monte sometime soon.

As a side note, Shoot's mentor, Charlie Yanagida, was hilarious in his own right and certainly proved by sheer gravitas why he was Shoot's teacher in the first place. I made sure he autographed my copy of the Yanagida System, which, while performed by Shoot, was certainly the brainchild of Master Charlie himself.

And now, your moment of Zen...

Proof that not all Japanese do the peace sign on cue...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Project 52 (31/52): Brighter Than Sunshine - Aqualung

.:Project 52 (31/52): Brighter Than Sunshine - Aqualung:.

Who came up with a name like "Aqualung" anyways?!?

While on my way to work, I heard this song playing on The Morning Rush, and it definitely hit the spot for me. Anyone who watched "A Lot Like Love" would be very familiar with this song,and it's just perfect music to will yourself to be optimistic in the face of Typhoon Kabayan forcing everyone to batten down their hatches.

So I guess Aqualung is like Five For Fighting (Except less whiny.) and Owl City (Except less gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.) in that what I initially thought was a band turned out to be a solo act instead. What I like about Aqualung is how he has always been on the cusp of superstardom but doesn't quite break out into it mostly by choice. I can't really say that for sure, but it feels like the only reason Aqualung isn't as popular as I'd expect him to be is because he doesn't see the need to be so.

"Brighter Than Sunshine" is a pretty awesome song, particularly when you feel how much love just oozes out of the lyrics. A kind of love that is so strong and so overwhelming, that even while the rain washes everything else away, you just feel a kind of love that burns within you. Brighter than sunshine.

Pretty powerful lyrics, and I'm sold with the ingenuity behind the song's melody. It's so catchy, it sounds even downright sad, but the lyrics tell a different story. I think what makes it work is that the vocals really haunt you and make you feel that you're listening to something someone is saying with every fiber of his being.

Here's hoping we'd hear more music from Aqualung in the near future, though, because everything we've had so far from him has been awesome.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The MMDA And TV 5 Demonstrate Real Public-Private Partnership

.:Sometimes, You See Hope For This Nation...:.

While a lot of things certainly annoy the Hades out of me when it comes to this government, it's good to know that for every stupid Florence Treaty violation, we have some genuinely good efforts coming up from other sectors of the government.

Much has been said about the deficiencies of P Noy's recent SONA, but a glaring albeit non-controversial omission from his speech seems to be the fact that he never made mention of a key idea he brought up in last year's SONA: the public-private partnership. It sounded like a good, albeit expensive idea. Definitely struck me as an infrastructure-centric notion, in all honesty.

Thankfully, my rather myopic point of view was not shared by TV 5 or MMDA, and with their simple but important idea, they have helped at least 6,000 people in one fell swoop even before their project was officially launched: The Metro Manila Traffic Navigator.

Via Philippine Beat

I wish I had a funny caption here, but I guess not every blogpost here has to be a ripoff...

The launch was as simple and as straightforward as can be, to be honest: hey, guys! Meet the people from TV 5, meet the people from the MMDA, ask them about this awesome idea, and give them ideas how they could improve it even more! I mean, really. There's no way anyone can mess that up, and the event certainly didn't.

So how does this newfangled internets thing work, you ask? Quite simple, actually. Observe:

via Philippine Beat

Pictured: Utter simplicity. No, really.

What you are looking at is the default view for the system: it allows you to see the main thoroughfares in Metro Manila as though they were MRT/LRT lines, and each particular landmark of note is divided into northbound and southbound, and each subdivision is color-coded as green (light), yellow-orange (moderate), and red (heavy). Thus, if, for example, Lady Gaga were performing in Araneta Coliseum, you can expect that the Cubao node of the line and its nearby areas, both northbound and southbound, will be predominantly red.

If, on the other hand, 1:43 were performing in Trinoma, then you can expect that the Trinoma node and those nearby would be green all the way. Like anyone would bother going to Trinoma to catch those guys (Unless if your name is Jepoy from GameOps...).

What this does is it puts everything you need to know in one sweet package, and is fully accessible from the internet whether on your computer or on your smartphone. You would know, due to regular updates made during peak hours every two to five minutes, which routes would be best to take, and which ones to avoid altogether, especially if you have the option of choosing between EDSA or C-5. Keeping this in mind, it should be no surprise at all that this handy navigator is worth its weight in gold, no questions asked. It's updated almost real-time, and at worst, at 15-minute intervals, which is still very invaluable information, any which way you look at it.

Of course, this is no excuse for people to use their phones while driving, but this is nifty and would help ease traffic somewhat. Hey, 6,000 smarter navigators in the metro can't be a bad thing. That's for sure.

It can only be hoped that as this navigator catches on and improves further, there'll be less of this:

Maybe I'm wrong, but he doesn't seem to be in a good mood.

In the meantime, thank you, MMDA and TV 5! This navigator really helps, and knowing that this lines up just right with your free iPad App, it's good to know you're really reaching out to people in ways people have overlooked for so long! I'm sure you guys get a lot of criticism time and again, but props where props are due: I'm pretty sure unlike certain unscrupulous MMDA officials, this Navigator is not going to be asking us for bribes anytime soon...

Monday, August 01, 2011

Just Another Magic Monday: Shoot Ogawa In Manila This Wednesday!

.:Just Another Magic Monday: Shoot Ogawa In Manila This Wednesday!:.

Before I proceed, I would like to offer a moment of silence for Fabio. He will be missed.

I don't understands 95% of what Fabio said, but I'm sure it came from the heart.

Having said that, I'm stoked about this coming Wednesday as international magic sensation Shoot Ogawa is scheduled to come to Manila to perform, lecture, and give a workshop to budding magicians out there who want to come and see the man. Known worldwide for his awesome skill with thimble manipulation and of course, the famed Ninja Rings routine, Shoot is an award-winning performer who has dazzled audiences in different countries, and has never failed to impress both laymen and magicians alike with his skill and charisma.

It's not everyday that we get international stars here in the Philippines willing to share their craft and expertise with contemporaries, so all I can say at this point is I'm sold! Shoot Ogawa has always been popular with the younger magicians, but unlike most of the other flash in the pan performers out there, Shoot's fame is grounded in genuine skill and mastery, not just packaging and pizzazz.

I have nothing but good things to say about Shoot. When I was just getting into the nitty-gritty of sleights for my magic, I made the sorry mistake of watching one of his videos. I'm not saying he was bad or anything of the sort. He just humbled me by reminding me that my skill level was still a loooong way from being at the level where I should be watching his performances and expecting to do magic at his skill level. He's just that good.

I know this post is pretty short and barebones, but I'm hoping that in attending the lecture + workshop on Wednesday, I can come up with some very substantial input, because I'd really want to do some reviews of good magic material if I can find the time and opportunity to talk about this stuff.

In the meantime, if you don't know how Shoot Ogawa looks like...

I'm sure he knows karate.