Sunday, July 31, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Eden
I care so much about your birthday that I can stop caring about you or your existence.

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Popular/Bacterial (Being a Neo-Treatise on Neo-Culture)
I have a good explanation for the lack of updates - two words actually - the first one sounds like 'hairy' and the second one rhymes with 'otter.' No, it didn't take me this long to read the book, I just wanted to make sure that I've already gotten wizardry out of my system because I didn't want to do a Pangs and spoil the book for my handful of visitors by revealing that someone dies in the story. Someone does die in the story, by the way.

As much as I often like to disassociate myself from the throng, I have to say that I am hopelessly in love with popular culture. It's funny, really. I don't think I can hate pop culture to the point of ignoring it completely (and I like to see anyone try). As a matter of fact, when I find myself disliking something sensationally steeped in pop, my defense mechanism will be to merely poke fun at it. I've developed a rather indiscriminate sense of humor that I can probably find funny things where most people won't (open head wounds, for example). I easily get annoyed at a lot of pop though, but I realize that I get annoyed more at the sort of elitism and condescension that some over-generalizing idiots display in newspapers, magazines, and especially internet forums. This condescension, more often than not, is a symptom that manifests itself most in the area of music, demonstrated by music critics so eager to knock anything that has the slightest hint of being popularly liked. Everybody's a critic though, and people can actually make a living out of writing unsolicited critiques, whether for music, film, literature, fashion, food, as well as some other forms of culture that are prone to criticism, like microbiology (this coliform culture is particularly soft to the palate, evoking escapist ideals in a post-Mussolini Italian setting, which, thanks to an open-ended resolution during the twilight of its rather drawn-out life cycle, is not such a bad thing if not for that fact that a family of paramecium from New York essentially displayed similar characteristics during last year's fall season... two stars though for the cute scientific name). The world is not without its share of self-appointed cognoscenti and literati, and I fear that by that last statement, I may have opened myself up to criticism that I'm criticizing myself (I'm criticizing critics after all).

Please humor me. 21st century internet usage, for those who bother to break it down, is really just about two things anyway: whining and pornography. Although I know that most of you would like more of the latter, this will be a whiny update (I won't be whining about pornography though). With that said, you can categorically say that the paragraph before this is a disclaimer of sorts.

With my CD player still going through the mechanical equivalent of epilepsy, I have been listening to the radio more and more. From what I read from this month's Blender, rock radio is in some kind of decline, although the local station (being NU107) is still one of the most prominent stations in the metro(s). Rock stations in the US have suffered a strong backlash from the turn-of-the-century rap-rock trend, which saw the demise of song melody as we knew it at the hands of jumpy, chestbeating Neanderthals (predominantly white) who growled gutturally over sludgy riffs that were often drowned out in effects anyway. I'm guilty of liking a few of those bands myself, but I somehow fell out of touch with the genre following the resulting deluge of bands that aped the more successful groups. The local deluge delivered less of a destructive impact, although one gets to wondering wherever those bands have gone now. It's somewhat a good thing that there are certain aspects of being Filipino that didn't get eliminated when these local bands bought into the rap-rock trend, because Filipinos, even with the prevalent macho culture, don't really make good chest-beaters. Lyricism is also something that these groups didn't have much of, given that they often tried to infuse their lyrics with homeboy lingo even if they can only bark out a succession of f-words to approximate that effect (but that's another story).

Filipinos, more passive than aggressive, do not make good chestbeaters because they're predominantly sensitive types (and beating one's chest hurts). You'd think it otherwise, but they make worse sensitive guys, especially sensitive guys who refuse to play plugged instruments. I've seen acoustic sets done properly, although most of them from the MTV unplugged series. Acoustic performances are intimate settings, where artists, stripped of electronic polish, are in essence laid bare and are thus more vulnerable to the audience. Probably the result of enterprising bars who found investing in a solid sound system unnecessary, the acoustic trend slowly grew a couple of years back, and true to its form, has been dying a slow, silent death. Given something of a 'live' feel, acoustic performers probably think that copping covers is something that they can always get away with. It's quite disconcerting that lately, acoustic cover versions have been figuring more and more into the regular countdowns and that entire albums have been going gold solely on the merit of revivals, remakes and rehashes (with some songs being so popular that some albums practically share tracklists). Rap-rock is an amalgamation of genres, while acoustic shouldn't even technically be one. I can't figure out which is worse between the two. Listening to rap-rock is like being put through a fraternity hazing on a daily basis, where taking and dishing out abuse is the prevalent way of belonging, while on the other hand, being subjected to acoustic music continually is like making out with the same person daily solely for the sake of making out - all that intimacy is going to get pretty pointless eventually.

I figure that it can be worse though, like acoustic rap rock, for one thing. I'm tempted to bash the novelty craze, but it's still a uniquely Filipino formula. It earns points for that and for the fact that it's unapologetic and often devoid of pretense. Other people may also frown on the influx of talent search types, but I don't have a problem about actual talent, except for some contestants, who define 'talent search' as searching for their talent while performing.

The industry hasn't been as profitable as it was. Piracy, among other causes, has really put the music business in such a decline that innovation has become more and more of a costly investment. Record companies have been turning to pop rock artists to fill their entire rock catalog, given that it is indeed a more accessible form of the genre that will ideally translate to better sales. Even as a sub-genre, I think that pop rock is still a large enough field for artists to explore and find new ground in. After all, the Eraserheads did champion intelligent pop rock and became trailblazers of some sort in the process. We have them to thank or blame for the current crop of bands, whether for influence or for precedence (they did get record companies to notice the local rock scene in the first place).

Listening to the radio, one will invariably hear the high pitched whines of some saccharine band about unresolved high school issues or being lonely and impotent or some other pitiable case. This is a good example of neo-narcissism, by the way. Where narcissism used to entail having someone go on about how great they are, neo-narcissism means having someone go on about how awful and pathetic they are. The songs sound like updates to a teenage blog set to music, which shouldn't be so bad if actual teenagers were involved as well as actual music. The case is neither, more often than not, and like aspartame, it leaves a certain bad taste in the eardrums.

Then again, neo-narcissists are not so bad when one gets to meet the neo-machos. Ten to one, when the prefix 'neo' becomes affixed to some respectable word, it serves the function of negating said respect, as it usually means taking a proven good thing, needlessly updating it, and calling the resulting watered-down version Junior. Having the term neo attached to a movie, on the other hand, will mean that said movie will know kung fu and air guitar (I neo-respect those kinds of movies). Anyway, neo-machos play a version of sensitive rock called pogirock. Sensitive rock is usually about telling the world about being painfully cut, while pogirock is usually about telling the world about being beautifully scarred. In this regard, it's very much like neo-narcissism and quite possibly qualifies as neo-chestbeating where scarring often results but in cute heart-shaped formations discolored with warm tinges of red and pink. Incidentally, listening to a pogirock chorus feels like being cut from the inside with a blunt pizza cutter with globs of leftover cheese. This inexplicably causes female ovaries to get bunched up and males to grow ovaries. It is a scientific fact that rockstars do not smile, pogirockstars, however, are not content with merely not smiling - they have to do it with meaning, with half-closed eyes staring into nothingness and pursed lips that convey an overall sense of forlorn existentialism and tense sphincters that can benefit from a little reflexology. For one reason or another, only the pogirock frontman can do the look properly, and his bandmates' attempts are at best neo-constipated.

Deplorable is a word that means lamentable, and I had to consult a thesaurus to confirm this because I am. It is also a word that can also be used to describe the local (pop) rock scene at the moment, if only for the lack of anything interesting and intelligent. The artists that critics have long been singing praises about have gone on to writing dollish commercial jingles. Supergroups have sprouted left and right like monocots, and the best known ones can only come up with neo-nationalistic outbursts that fall short of all intentions except that of underscoring a messianic complex (it's scary to think that it's probably a not so uncommon trait - talking without the walking). Up-and-comers have been turning up mostly interchangeable songs and song parts, probably under the impression that the happy major scale strum-along is the be-all and end-all of Pinoy pop rock (like recipes to staid sandwich spreads). With the current international revival of 80s/new wave elements, one can easily expect the next batch of local artists to want in on this trend, with some bands already given something of a head start, singing tunes with a sour Manchester by way of Malolos pseudo-accent. Critics, of course, have lauded these developments. They could be looking in the wrong places, however. A good number of unsigned artists show more musical merit than signed ones, except that with very limited exposure, they usually have but small followings. The good thing about all this though is that recording has become more and more a do-it-yourself affair. I've seen many excellent independently produced releases displayed in Tower Records, cheaply priced but with usually more interesting packaging (obviously done with a more hands-on approach that major labels probably wouldn't bother spending additional resources on). Some record companies have also assumed the role of distributorship (for a percentage in sales, i assume), resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship between artist and label - label takes less risks and artist gets more exposure.

I can only guess as to what is going to happen to rock or pop rock or pop music or music in general, although I still remain hopeful that identity will still play a big part in their gradual development. While I do not intend for my update to go beyond music (in fact a sub-genre at that), I realize that I may be crossing over into dreaded areas best left covered by self-help books (the kind that my dad loves to buy but reads only the first chapters of). I just believe that conformity isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as one gets to keep an honest understanding of one's individuality. Pinoy pop rock doesn't always have to deviate from the expectations of the sub-genre, but that doesn't mean that it always has to sound the same or that it always has to be about the same tired things.

With that, I also realize that I went past my intentions because all I really wanted to do was whine about my current circumstantial listenings. I won't stop, however, because I can still whine about other things, starting with some streptococci that I had the privilege of not encountering (noting that they can cause nasty vaginitis). Note to you, clueless strain of spherical bacteria: spheres are not the new spirals, and no self-respecting microorganism would be caught disinfected sporting a spherical membrane, especially when being scientifically prodded in a Victorian petri-dish. I swear, bacteria wouldn't know culture even if their own single-celled bodies comprised it.

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Friday, July 29, 2005 A.D.
That Glue You Do
I didn't quite understand the hype behind it so I decided to give it a try. I sniffed glue for well over an hour today. It was easily the worst decision I made today, second only to my decision concerning which brand of glue to sniff.

Elmer's Glue-All, dear friends, is non-toxic, dries clear, and is best used on porous and semi-porous surfaces. It also smells rather sour, the kind of sour that is inedible and inorganic, which incidentally, is also the kind of sour that you wouldn't want to be sniffing for well over an hour.

Join me next week as I experiment with dropping acid.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Carol
I kept trying to find out where you've been during the ten years we've known each other. This was, for a spell, mainly because I wanted to avoid you with precision. Knowing where you've been holed up (more or less) during the past five years or so, I found that I no longer need to find out your exact location at all times. I also do not need to purposely avoid you, since geography has wonderfully taken care of that little detail. I decided to write this greeting here so that you can be the one to avoid reading it, should you want that.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Erick
I can't believe that it's already your birthday, much like most of the stuff I hear about you. You make for a very entertaining urban legend.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005 A.D.
Never one to refuse a freebie, I let my parents take me to their favorite foot reflexology center this afternoon and use up one of their prepaid sessions. In preparation for the hour-long session, the attendants lovingly wiped our feet with warm towels before placing them in towel-lined hotel slippers before whisking us away to the reflexology room.

The basic premise of reflexology is similar to that of acupuncture and shiatsu - there are twelve energy channels within the body on which there are a variety of pressure points mapped out. These points can then be used to undo blockages in those channels. Pressing the right areas restores a person's energy flow (or something like that). The curious thing about reflexology (and this isn't a new thing, by all means) is that the feet, especially the soles, contain a significant number of those pressure points, essentially enabling the therapist to holistically better your body and mind simply through your feet (think remote control).

I sat in the dimly lit room with my parents, drinking a cup of tea and still somewhat taking the experience in with a certain curiosity. It was my first reflexology session, after all, even if I had previously visited spas and health clubs for body massages (with the prices effectively equal, I'd always rather have my entire body done rather than merely my soles). The supervisor then gave me a booklet containing, among other things, the basic dos and don'ts for the therapy: that is, I shouldn't have had eaten anything in the previous hour and that I couldn't eat after for another hour as well. I also couldn't wash my legs a good four hours after, and I should watch my menstrual cycle for any unusual changes (I read every instruction just to make sure I didn't screw up, finding myself slightly amused at this one). She also explained to me that it's normal to receive bruises, and I found myself imagining a briefing to a fraternity initiation. Real reflexology should involve a certain amount of pain, she said, because it should work the nerve endings and not merely the muscles.

My therapist, after introducing himself as a licensed physical therapist, again told me to expect a bit of pain for the duration of the session. I just had two perfect strangers warn me that I was about to receive a good amount of pain for the next hour, and I had to think the best of the situation because my parents were paying to have this much pain dished out on me. I remembered that I stupidly backed up my dad's SUV less than an hour ago into my uncle's SUV, and for all I know, he could have slipped my therapist some cash to make sure that I felt his pain too. This should be therapeutic for us.

I leafed through the booklet and found a page with mapped-out feet when my therapist started applying body butter and mentholated oil onto my right sole.

And then he squeezed.

I stifled a whimper right about that moment because - gaddemmet - it gaddemm hurt. The nice therapist then asked me if the pressure was ok, and I can only nod because my mom was next to me and she was smiling (I can't possibly have a lower pain threshold than my mom!). I checked the chart, finding that I just got squeezed in the stomach. That booklet was definitely helpful, and not only for the information it contained, because while the therapist was deftly squeezing my intestines, liver, genitals and my entire anatomy via my right foot, all I could do to restrain myself was to keep reading and hope to God that my brain gets distracted. The informative booklet said that the foot had more bones in it than any other organ and contained a significant bunch of muscles and nerve endings. Well, my significant nerve endings were being significantly squeezed and stimulated, and knowing the science behind the pain did help a bit for me to understand the purpose of it all. It was therapy. The feet are, after all, the most abused parts of the body, and a bit of conditioning abuse was probably necessary, I thought.

After finishing with my right foot, which he carefully wrapped in a towel, he told me that the left foot (which he'd be doing next) was more sensitive than the right, generally speaking. Hoping that that tidbit only held true for right-handed individuals, I told him that I was left-handed, to which he replied that that was beside the point because the sensitivity was a matter of brain hemishphere dominance - our left halves are normally more sensitive to stimuli. I do get to learn something new everyday, but I often find myself wondering why I have to keep learning them the hard way.

By this time, I had already finished reading through most of the booklet. I knew that the therapist was squeezing out crystalline buildups in my nerve clusters, hence the grainy sensation whenever he squeezed. I also knew that I had to drink 500cc of warm water after the session to flush out the toxins. He then went on to apply that butter and oil mixture onto my left sole, casually telling me that I had very smooth and relaxed feet (I did?). He asked me if I had any particular health problems that needed extra attention. I replied that, aside from the internal bleeding he just gave me, I had a respiratory allergy - a statement that I would regret not five minutes later.

Our toe endings, according to the chart, contained pressure points for the sinuses, and I swear I felt the pain go right to the tips of my nostril hairs when he squeezed the sides of my big toe. For the allergy, he said, and went on to do the same thing to my four other toes, with repeated strokes that could have easily cracked walnuts open. He was telling me to breathe deeply to suppress the pain, and I found it oddly amusing that I would have gotten that same instruction only if I were in labor with a human head forcing its way between my stirruped legs. I forced myself to reread the first page of the booklet this time, and seeing that menstrual instruction once more, I realized that it wouldn't have been impossible for me to find myself with a menstrual cycle when I got home. I looked at my mom and I couldn't believe that she was still smiling. I couldn't possibly smile, not when I was experiencing a level of pain that could probably be comparable to shitting a nuclear warhead with a plus sized drill bit.

With both feet done, my hands, arms and back were then worked. They didn't hurt as much as my feet did, but the overall treatment did leave me strangely relaxed. I drank my 500cc glass of water and joined my parents in the reception area, thankful that I could still walk properly. I had to ask my mom if she didn't feel any pain at all because she seemed like she was smiling the entire time. She said that that was her stifling screams and smiled. I smiled back, stifling a scream.

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Happy Birthday Gene
You left me with such a good impression when last we met that I'd rather not see you at all for the rest of my natural life just to preserve that.

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Friday, July 15, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Troy
We'll look back to this day many years from now and just laugh about it. We probably won't remember a thing but we'll laugh all the same. Age does that. Drugs too.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005 A.D.
Bleargh was There - Pump Magazine Launch Party

First of all, I'll have to thank my cousin (who shall only be called Shawie) for getting me into all sorts of events, most enjoyable of which are the ones that involve celebrities of the hot and female kind. I'll also have to thank my bigger sponsors (being Pony footwear). Please keep buying Pony, good people of the planet, so you can keep sending me to events and slowly buy me a place in hell. Remember that you can help this aspiring DOM further develop his dirtiness, oldness and manliness, and at the same time wear stylish and comfortable shoes (I can get discounts for those interested).

Anyway, thanks to Shawie and Pony, I just crashed Pump magazine's launch party. For those who don't know yet, Pump is the new men's magazine from former FHM Philippines editor-in-chief Eric Ramos. Lad rags have been proliferating in the country of late, and FHM is largely regarded as the one that started it all here. Mr. Ramos held the helm for FHM from its inception (early 2000) to late last year, and if anything, we can expect him to turn out content of more or less the same quality with the self-published Pump magazine. Surely, this guy should know what he should be doing by now. With a somewhat unchallenged status, FHM is still considered to be the market leader, largely because the other magazines cannot seem to come up with the same marketable balance of eye-catching photos and readable content (they somehow confuse pretense for good taste and bad taste for mass appeal). Having read the first issue, I sincerely hope Eric Ramos succeeds with his vision with Pump, as it is a very welcome addition to my monthly magazine catalog.

I got to the NBC tent rather early, alone because nobody wanted to use my extra pass. It wasn't early enough, apparently, because all the free food had already disappeared. I had to content myself with weaving through the sparse crowd until I settled by the Pony booth where my uncle was monitoring the promotional goings-on. The security at the venue was handled by volunteer URCC (Universal Reality Combat Championship) and Mad Dog Motorcycle Club members. I had flashes of the Rolling Stones' Altamont incident where they made one of rock music's most infamous decisions by hiring the Hell's Angels for crowd control (paid in beer), resulting in several casualties. Surprisingly though, the security was not as strict and I found my way backstage easily.

It seemed that other people also came to the same conclusion, finding their way not only backstage but into the media pit as well, with some even making themselves comfortable on parts of the stage... it was something of a miracle that the show went on relatively smoothly.

I had to watch the show backstage, where the projector rendered my view of the proceedings vertically flipped. The show began with a URCC exhibition match, with flavor commentary courtesy of Jackie Forster. Sports commentary isn't one of her strong suits, apparently, because she was openly rooting for one of the combatants (who she said was her boxing coach). Her coach won the ten-minute two-round match bloodlessly, but no thanks to her frequent inciting. I eagerly watched as the combatants went through a variety of animalesque interlockings. I guess watching sweaty half-naked men homoerotically grapple is ok as long as they are beating each other up.

After a game sponsored by Miller, ably facilitated by hosts Paolo Abrera and ClubTV's Laura Jean, a newbie singer named April took the stage but left almost at once owing to some difficulties with the CD player, which played her backing track with skips. The new novelty girl-group Hot Tsikz then followed, and if there was a moment for me to be thankful about a skipping CD player, it was then. It was also a lucky detail that the defective CD player kept skipping forward, pushing their lip syncing turn to a quicker finish. April got back to the stage after the Pony-sponsored game, with a rendition of either a Beyonce or Gwen Stefani song (incidentally the other performers' tracks of choice as well).

I also watched pogi rock band of the moment Hale from my reversed vantage point, turning out five songs in their set. By this point, I was already going up to the different celebrity performers for jolog photo-ops, and not surprisingly, other people were also angling for them photo-ops, usually opening with 'Excuse me, can I have picture?'

Covergirl Chynna Ortaleza then did her dance number, which was not unlike her regular SOP numbers. She expertly avoided the photo-op seekers (we are an annoying bunch after all), but having developed a precision for jolog photo-ops from the last five FHM parties, I waited by the exit like a sniper and got my shot in under three seconds.

Other notable performers included ABS-CBN regulars Cherry Lou and Jenny Miller, who almost started a riot during her solo turn when she went down to the audience. The show got scarily stalled a good five minutes after her performance to clear the stage of people. With the crowd somewhat dulled by the security sweep, Desiree del Valle was then introduced as the magazine's next covergirl to mixed reactions, and it should be to her credit that she still turned out a gracious performance. Ella V and Myles Hernandez, popular Viva Hot Babes (and Pump columnists), then put out a crowd pleasing dance number, followed by a musical performance courtesy of fellow Hot Babe Sheree.

The party was closed by a lingerie fashion show, featuring two of Pump's less famous pinups. I couldn't care less for this segment, having already had a good selection of photos taken with the more popular guests, but the crowd roared appreciatively. I settled by the exit where I watched the fashion show director tensely bark out directions amidst a large gathering of people who, like me, shouldn't have been there, but unlike me, had more imposing presences.

With a lungful of secondhand smoke, I decided to call it a night and head home, worried somewhat about the next day's planned rally. Another lad rag party crashed, another good set of photos... all in the life of an aspiring DOM, really. Please keep on buying Pony footwear, good folks.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Yeng
I've been preparing for this day for exactly a year. I find it odd that you were not around a year ago. I find it funny that you are not around today.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005 A.D.
Bleargh was There - Neil Gaiman in Manila

Today, I spent twelve hours of my life in a cramped, artificially lit venue. Combined with the fact that I woke up early to get a good place in line, the experience left me with jetlag, only with a stickier sensation. I did it all so I could have some pasty complexioned Englishman deface a P1500 book with partially legible squiggles. Oddly enough, the experience left me quite happy.

The day started with me waking up an hour after the alarm clock went off, driving to Rockwell and hoping that the previous night's 'rally' was over. I made it to the line by 9am, to be joined by JoQ, who stayed with me on the even-numbers line, and a couple of toy collectors who opted to stay on the longer odd-numbers line. I spied Mr. Gaiman just before 10am making his way to the tent, walking with a rather relaxed shuffle. He wore black (as expected), with his signature leather jacket, sunglasses and tousled hair. The lined-up crowd evidently saw him as well and welcomed him by loud applause and shouting. It probably surprised him because he stood there for a few seconds and reacted in what he probably thought was the most appropriate way to greet an unusually noisy mob of excited fans - he waved his arms like a Muppet. The Fully Booked staff then started giving away numbers, and despite being a few feet ahead of my two collector friends, JoQ and I ended up being numbers 184 and 186 respectively while their numbers only went into the low 170's.

I spent the next five hours realizing that time tends to get slower when you're trying to kill it (since the 'Gathering' was slated to begin at 3pm). I had a drink with JoQ at Starbucks before Avid found us and asked for smaller bills to pay for his taxi fare. Given that that was their first meeting, I think Avid left JoQ with some post-traumatic stress, going into fanboy fits and ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod interjections throughout the conversation. A bunch of former officemates then found their way into Starbucks, so I joined them in trawling the mall, leaving JoQ to meet up with her brother. After a quick lunch at Shakey's with Avid, Camille, Cybs, Nelson and Tals, I met my toy collecting friends (being John, Eric and Iñigo) once again and ended up just talking with them during the last hour of the wait.

Finding my way to the end of the line (aptly described by Tals as an endless line), we entered the tent for the 'Gathering' to be met by a performance by local goth band The Late Isabel. Having been in a band before, I generally feel bad for artists who get invited to: 1.) open for a big foreign act, and 2.) play in non-musical events to a non-appreciative crowd. The event was more or less both of those combined and I felt bad for the band when the tent started emptying toward the end of their set. It was hardly the place to play a full set of songs, even if a significant number of the crowd seemed like 'goths.' The lyrics couldn't even be understood over the sound system.

With the air conditioners on the verge of breaking down, Mr. Gaiman took the stage right about 3:45pm and the crowd again showed him a proper Filipino welcome by applauding and shouting all at the same time with the kind of enthusiasm that would've put Beatlemania to shame. Less shocked at the racket by now, Neil said that having come from straitlaced Singapore, Manila was a surprising change (really?). He also said that he saw a group of several thousand people from his hotel and thought that it was a welcoming party of some sort (it's just lucky that he had to come into town right when we're in the middle of an embarrassing political crisis). He also noted that he found us to be noisier than the Brazilians. Ole! I think it wasn't so much the shouting as the frequency of the applause/shouting that he found amusing, as the crowd seemed to take every pause that he took as a cue to shout even more, making complete sentences something of a difficulty for the esteemed writer.

After addressing several questions, he got to read excerpts from his upcoming book, Anansi Boys, which he described as a funny novel, incorporating the funny themes of death and embarrassment. I've never been to a book reading before (while I try to avoid poetry readings like the plague), and I was delighted at the way Neil lovingly read his words in a warm English accent that suited the story nicely, never mind that he looked odd clutching his laptop while he read.

The signing then pushed through around 5pm, interrupted only by a press kit screening of MirrorMask (a cinematic collaboration between Neil and long-time associate Dave McKean produced by the Jim Henson Company).

The numbers were being called in batches of 30, except the first few batches apparently included sponsors among them. I fell back in line when my batch was called and finally had my hardbound 1602 signed at around 8:30pm. Looking at Mr. Gaiman choose a black marker from his arsenal of no less than twenty pens, I simply asked him about a conspicuously missing character in 1602 (being a Marvel-ite) and received a rather simple answer that it was actually Marvel's prerogative, as they had other plans for him. I then asked to shake his hand like a true fanboy, congratulating myself for not fumbling my lines this time (I saw several fans break down after meeting him so I told myself to just discard my fanboy tendencies for that moment).

Thankful that Power Plant follows a flat rate parking fee policy, I headed back to the parking level, unmindful of the leftover pseudo goths and gothettes, gushing fanboys (and fangirls, i have to add), literati collectives, and other random characters sprawled inside the Rockwell tent, which already felt like a makeshift refugee camp. I heard that the signing continued well past midnight, with an expected spillover of people at the Greenhills and Gateway signings.

After this leg of his book tour, Mr. Gaiman would have easily signed several thousand books. He genuinely seemed like a very nice guy, but having been ferried from one interview to the next in quick succession and being shouted at every so often by the crowd, I wondered if Manila would leave him not only with a hurting hand but with several unresolvable issues as well. He did state at one point that, having already visited this place, it would not be impossible for him to write about it at some point. The crowd - again - shouted their appreciation at that little announcement of his, and I hoped that whatever he eventually gets to write about the Philippines wouldn't incorporate funny themes of death and embarrassment.

You can check out his journal here:

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Saturday, July 09, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Juli
I remember three things when I look back to our college years - advanced calculus, machine language and logic gates. I also remember you, but I prefer to think about advanced calculus, machine language and logic gates because it makes me seem smarter.

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Friday, July 08, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Raffy
If you were expecting something clever here then you were expecting too much.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005 A.D.
Six Feet Above
I'm a morning person, and I like to fill my early hours with the most pertinent activities - sleeping and ignoring the alarm clock. I don't want to be caught sleeping on the job, see, so I just show up at the office just before lunch (on good days).

The boss sold me to another team effective for a couple of weeks. I'm stationed one floor up, with my desk just a few meters away from the CEO's office. As my current boss set a 10am meeting for today, I grudgingly got out of bed after putting off the alarm clock for only three times. In my partially brain-dead state, I had unflavored oatmeal porridge for breakfast and decided after to take the long route to the garage just to pick myself up. I passed by a lively litter of kittens behind the house, and taking care not to step on the cute little creatures, I didn't notice a low-hanging beam blocking my way. It was of the hard and metallic kind that more or less lined up with the tip of my cranium. The devious physics of momentum, you see, is such that regardless of how slowly one is walking, a collision with an inanimate metal fixture with practically infinite mass will generally render one's mass negligible and cause both parties involved an infinite amount of pain. After making sure that the metal beam was not hurt, I tried to absorb the impact one nerve-ending at a time but in vain. The devious physics of neural transmission, you see, is such that regardless of how slow one's brain is running, a blow to the head is going to be felt instantaneously and will hurt like the heebie-jeebies. I cattily eyed the kittens prancing about at my feet and thought of underlining my status on the food chain by doing an Ozzy and biting each of their wretched feline heads off. Feeling the oatmeal heaving in my stomach and not wanting to pick on a bunch of pussies, I decided instead to just drive my partly concussed carcass to the office at once because I had to get to that meeting and I was already running late.

I did make the meeting on time with no unwelcome developments, thankfully. I think I'm still somewhat dazed from the kitten incident. I filled up a water bottle with ice and held it to my head for most of the morning, earning curious stares from my new cubicle mates. Not that I expected them to have something to say anyway. I think that having been positioned a mere couple of cubicles from the CEO for an indeterminately long period has left them incapable of speech. The clinic is but a few meters away from my desk, making sure that I can continuously smell the nice wafting aroma of antiseptic, ammonia, and alcohol. The temperature here is also a slight notch above freezing. Given that the carpeting mutes footsteps, only clicking keyboards can be audible. I start to think that soon enough, not only will I need wall-to-wall carpeting but padded walls as well because this assignment can very well drive me to the crazyhouse. Everything here is deathly silent that I may as well be working in a coroner's lab. Then again, watching embalmers at work can probably be better for my mental health. Just to keep up with the environment, I have been playing The Who on heavy rotation, specifically 'Who are You,' 'Won't Get Fooled Again' and 'Baba O'Riley,' incidentally the themes to CSI, CSI Miami and CSI New York respectively. I do feel like I'm in one of the more inferior spin-offs at the moment, but luckily this assignment will only last for two weeks, after which I go back to the land of the living. In my dazed state, I actually do not mind the occasional silence, but I will have to see if hitting my head on a daily basis can somehow convince me that I am enjoying this.

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Monday, July 04, 2005 A.D.
Note for Men with Topless Friendster Photos
It's nice that you can show the world that it is scientifically possible to take pictures of yourself (hint: bathroom mirror), but unless your name is Archimedes, you are not entitled to making scientific discoveries in the buff. Working out does not buy you the privilege to show the world your nipples.

Factoid for the narcissistic neanderthal: straight men generally do not like to look at other men, and women generally do not like to look at you. Know your audience, sister.

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Saturday, July 02, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Claire
I always remember you whenever July comes around. I always forget you after.

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Friday, July 01, 2005 A.D.
Happy Birthday Charlotte
We see each other weekly owing to the fact that we're related. That I can't greet you personally is something I feel bad about. I also feel bad about my feet... I hope you don't feel that way about yours.

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